Arcona Run On - Selen
The light flickered slightly and Sashar Arconae sighed in vexation. He was surrounded on all sides by bunks filled with troops from the 2nd Tactical Assault Marines brigade (their usual quarters on board the flagship being taken by refugees of the Dajorra system) and as such didn’t want to wake them; they got precious little in the way of sleep nowadays. His own quarters had been decimated in the vong attack, and rather than appropriate the quarters of another officer, the Proconsul had opted to instead to share the upper-C cantina (hastily refitted into a barracks complex) with the 2nd TAM Brigade, 1st Company. Thus he sat on his bunk, hunched over a makeshift table, his workspace lit by a damaged glow rod fiddling with the crystal housing of his new lightsaber. He nodded almost to himself as the Agedan crystal. He swore as he caught his finger on the sharp outer casing and grinned to himself – the first blood his blade had drawn was his own.
“You ok there, sir?” Private Rifkin yawned from the top bunk overlooking Sashar.
“Sorry to wake you. I was just re-arming.” Sashar replied quietly.
“New saber to bury in some crab boys?” Rifkin replied, scratching his chest as he tried to drag himself to consciousness. He was little more than a man just out of boyhood, yet he’d seen more vicious combat than most hardened veterans could imagine – he’d seen his home system occupied by a fanatic force bent on religious genocide, and left his family behind to fend for themselves on orders of callous, shadowy figure that no more cared about Private Rifkin than he did about an insect he trod on.
“That’s right, Rifkin. I aim to misbehave with this kad’ika.”
Rifkin chuckled – even with the Proconsul’s injections of Mando’a into his regular speech, it was easy to get his meaning.
“Looks a little shorter than usual, sir.” Trey said, from the bunk directly opposite Sashar’s.
Another kid. Another walking rifle to the Consul.
“That’s because it’s a shoto. A one handed saber, shorter than usual. So I can get right up in the crab-boy’s faces. I want to see the look in their scarred, ignorant, servile nerf-like eyes as I drive this bad boy right into that weakspot under the arm.”
Trey and Rifkin both chuckled, however Sashar was deadly serious – he said nothing. These men deserved better than to just be numbers on a table. They deserved a home to protect.
“You going to be using that soon, sir?” Trey asked.
He knew he shouldn’t have answered that question, but he was damned if he was going to keep anything from these men.
“Very soon. Have no doubt about that. Anyways, sorry to disturb you, You’d better get some sleep as you’ve got a training session at 0800.” He said as he stood, ruffling the hair of Rifkin as he passed.
“Don’t you need sleep, sir?” Trey queried.
“I…don’t sleep much anymore. One of the perks of working with the Lord Consul. He’s always trying to crawl around in here.” Sashar said, tapping his temple grimly.
He let the words sink in as he slipped out of the makeshift barracks and headed to the bridge.
“Evening, Proconsul.” Said Commodore Sulaco as Sashar walked onto the bridge. The night shift was a lot more relaxed when the fleet hung in deep space and it was reflected in the crew’s activity – there was no rush and a certain air of informality. The Mandalorian was convinced that Mejas wouldn’t approve, but luckily the Consul didn’t consider himself lowly enough to interact with the ‘mundanes’ that made up 95% of his power base unless he absolutely had to; he left that for Sashar.
“Has the Consul retried for the evening?” Sashar asked, joining him on the catwalk.
“I believe he’s still awake – he asked for an update on fleet movements a few minutes ago. The Lord Consul is restless.” Sulaco surmised.
“He doesn’t like being cooped up in space like this any more than the rest of us.” Sashar explained.
“It’s hard to think of him as someone that’d be affected by something as mundane as cabin fever.”
“He’s just a man, once you strip away the robes and the ‘does-not-play-well-with-others’ exterior. Just like you and me.”
“I believe the Proconsul’s head is malfunctioning, sir. I don’t have horns.” Sulaco grinned slightly and Sashar chuckled at this; at least his Commodore could still crack a joke when he needed to.
“I’ll get it checked, Commodore. Good evening.”
“Rise.” Mejas’s voice sounded strained.
Sashar stood once more and looked up into the clouded hood – somewhere in there were eyes devoid of warmth, a set of viciously sharpened teeth, azure, hard skin and a being without remorse, and a mind perhaps without any sanity.
“We’re ready to go tomorrow evening. The fleet is ready for the feint on Secundus, and we’ll be able to hopefully slip onto Selen unnoticed. I’ve briefed both Quaestors and we’ve agreed that we should split into two teams, one for each objective… I also think this would be as good a time as any for you to accompany us, if for no other reason than to prove to the clan that you’re ready to get your hands dirty when you ask the same of them.” Sashar suggested, already wincing at the rebuttal.
“I agree. I will not require Soulfire’s protection for this operation – Zandro will suffice.” Sashar blinked in confusion, but nodded his understanding. Mejas had turned away from him and went back to staring at a tactical display of the surrounding systems. It was clearly a dismissal.
One of the cargo bays on board the Abyss had been refitted extensively – it now served as a sparring area and dojo for the inhabitants of the city-like ship. Sashar stood in the centre of the padded area clad only in a pair of loose-fitting sweat pants and a vest. In one hand was his newly minted shoto saber. Standing opposite him was his half-brother Zandro Erinos, who was identically dressed.
“Okay, go.” Sashar said and activated his own short blade.
Zandro’s blood red blade sprang into existence and he went instantly on the offensive, not giving Sashar time to raise his ‘Kote Hukaatir’ – Mighty Guard. He needn’t have bothered. Sashar let him swing and didn’t even try to parry, merely leant around the blow, rather closer than duellists usually moved in a fight, and planted his right leg behind Zandro’s left. The Battlemaster was fiendishly quick and brought the pommel down towards his brother’s temple, but Sashar caught the blade directly above him with his own shorter blade – a move he was only able to do due to its length (any longer and it would have gutted him as he brought it up from his side). He held Zandro for a second with the one arm above his head, and then shoved with his free right arm. The Quaestor fell on his back with a grunt.
“Kandosii, ner vod.” Zandro grinned as Sashar pulled him back to his feet.
“Now this is the bit I want you to focus on.” The Prelate said, looking over at the row of observers.
He de-activated his lightsaber and passed it to his squib apprentice, Fajhal, who was perched atop a stack of cargo crated piled against one wall, then called a pair of thin wooden sticks to his hand. Zandro threw his lightsaber away as well, and accepted one of the sticks from Sashar.
“Come at me again.” Sashar said, and Zandro did just that. Only this time Sashar met him halfway, his eyes had dulled somewhat, they looked almost unfocused as he ducked clumsily below a horizontal swing at his shoulders and slammed the stick none too gently against the Quaestor’s shins.
A glimpse in the force by Zandro caused a shock for him – his brother was always…always cool in combat, and sometimes let a little pleasure at the sheer beauty of their art seep into his mind, but this wasn’t him at all. Sashar wasn’t there – there was just…the end. His eyes may have looked disjointed and out of focus, but that was a complete illusion – his mind couldn’t be honed not on the present but the future. The Prelate was picturing the combat a few seconds ahead of him and was NOT letting anything stop him from reaching that. He was drawing on the force to grant him this temporary edge, and it was of the dark side, yet Sashar was not letting any emotion into this all out attack – he was just using the dark side’s power base.
Zandro dropped with a yelp from the blow to the shins, but it was cut off as Sashar kept battering at him even as he lay on his back. The repeated thwaps of wood against either the other wooden stick or against Zandro evoked winces of sympathy from the onlookers until the younger brother had to grasp Sashar by the force and shove him backwards. He stumbled back a few steps, blinked, and gave a nervous chuckle.
“Osik Sashar, what was that?” Zandro asked as he got up, wincing slightly.
“Dar’udesiir. I focus on where I want to be a few seconds from now and borrow a Mandalorian Beserker technique – I haven’t got the mental discipline to do it without the force like they do, but I can achieve it instantly with the help of the force. I zone out and don’t let go of that image of a few seconds in the future – simply refuse to admit defeat and be willing to do absolutely anything to get to that image a mere handful of seconds away and you can achieve it. No peace: just total war.” Sashar explained.
“Your ultimate attack?” Zandro asked, smirking.
“I needed a counterweight to the Kote Hukaatir.” He replied simply.
Sashar grinned and patted his brother on the shoulder as he turned to face the others in the makeshift dojo.
“Gentlemen, you are assembled here because you will need to be able to do just that – to focus on the future and not let go in the upcoming mission. We are returning to Selen.”
There was a murmur of surprise from the collected soldiers and warriors (members of the AAF and the three best Battleteams Arcona had to offer; Blue Mist, Prophecy and Soulfire. Sashar urged them to quiet.
“We will be splitting into two teams. Galeres and myself will be conducting a reconnaissance of the countryside on. Our mission is to get an accurate read on the resistance movement and numbers of survivors. Qel-Droma and Mejas will be evaluating the defences of Estle City and the Citadel in preparation for our re-taking the system. This will not be an invasion; but a fact-finding mission, so we will be going in light – no capital ship support once we’re on planet and our extraction will be a timed pickup in the mountainside. We will be in harm’s way here, gentlemen.” He warned, looking over the faces before him.
“What’re our method of infiltration?” Kieran asked.
“The Valour’s Fall has been fitted with a series of ‘drop pods.’ They’re able to hold 2 people each and will be fired when the Fall hypers in-system. They’ll descend on Selen in a manner similar to asteroids. These are demonstrably a one-way thing, so a week after we are first deployed, a raid will be staged on Arconae Secundus by the fleet. They will draw attention from Selen whilst a Lambda-shuttle sneaks down to the planet under escort of Shade Squadron. We’ll also have a squadron of Avengers on stand-by ready to lend assistance if they notice the shuttle exfiltration.” Sashar answered.
“I take it the Quaestors are accompanying us.” Talos ventured.
“Yes. Zandro will be accompanying Mejas as his bodyguard and Rho will temporarily rejoin Soulfire. Incidentally, Blue Mist, we’ll need you kitted out for a ground op and we’ll also be needing to deploy another pod that’ll hold all your speeder bikes. Soulfire, all your usual kit, and Prophecy, if you have anything you think’d be useful for the mission, bring that along too. The larties to the Valour’s Fall departs at 1200, so I expect to see you all in the Hangar prepared around then. Dismissed.”
Illian turned to leave with the others, however Sashar sent him a telepathic nudge that indicated the Proconsul wanted his attention.
“Illian, you won’t be accompanying Blue Mist during this operation.” Sashar said flatly.
“Master?” He questioned, his unnatural green eyes catching the light in a way that made the Proconsul want to take a step back. He quelled the urge.
“The Ghost Cells need members – our trials on the mind-controls were a success, but we need able bodies to take over. I’m going to give you a hit list of prospective members – gather them together and bring them to Selen in the shuttle within a week. Be careful, Illian; these three people are some of the most dangerous I’ve ever encountered.”
“I take it you want them with their eyes still in.” Illian asked, sounding almost disappointed.
“If you take their eyes, I take yours.”
“Understood. Happy hunting, Master.”
Okay Arcona, here’s the skinny.
We’re going to Selen on a recon mission. Mejas and Chris will head up the HQD portion, and myself and Rho will head up the Galeres portion. For now, you need to post just to introduce yourselves to the story. Fictionally, everyone will be aboard the Abyss (the clan’s ISD and flagship) and they will need to be getting ready to head down to the hangar, where they’ll be transferred across to our little recon picket that’ll drop us off. I don’t want anyone magically appearing on Selen, so follow the Run-On Mod’s lead. We’re just getting down to the hangar for now. One of us will post very soon to advance the plot. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have been signed up beforehand to participate, you just have to be in the clan.
Any questions, send em my way.
Oh, and have fun.
ISD Eye of the Abyss
Commander Talos Taral had just returned from the demonstration of the Proconsul Sashar Arconae's Dar’udesiir demonstration and the Sith was impressed. Arriving at the assigned barracks of Blue Mist, Talos noticed a large durasteel crate outside the entrance. Grinning, Talos called on the Force to lift it and slapped his hand across the access panel into the room. Walking over to his bunk, Talos sat down and carefully sat the crate down and opened the crate. Inside were sixteen cases, marked Wep and Arm, eight of each. Lifting a case of Arm, Talos flipped the snaps open and opened the case. Its contents were matte black armor, a black bodyglove and black plates. Rising from his bunk, Talos layed the new armor out and examined it. Indeed, just as the Proconsul had issued...Scouting Armor. Quickly changing, Talos reveled in both the comfortability of the armor and its features. Pressing a green button located on the utility belt, the armor changed from matte black to forest camo, dark greens and browns. Just as Talos was examining the helmet, Blue Mists second in command, Legorii, walked in and noticed the new garb of his brother. "This is it then?" asked Legorii. The Commander, still admiring the features only nodded and Legorii turned to his bunk and Talos pressed a white button and the armor and helmet automatically changed to alpine colors, white, light gray and light blue. Legorii turned around Talos could see the Anzat's brows rise in wonder. "Were you not just wearing forest camo a second ago?" he inquired. "Yep, the plates and helmet have different camo modes built in and change with a push of the assigned button" the Mandalorian explained as he turned to the side to show Legorii the row of four buttons, green, white, blue and black. "Sweet, sets for all of us?" the Anzat said, walking over to the crate. "Of course, take your pick and grab a Arm case, it has the new weapons" said Talos as he picked up his own Arm case and popped it open. Laying in a mesh background was a N'gant carbine rifle with a silencer, scope and tons of extra ammo laying next to it. Directly below the N'gant was the Verpine Shatter Pistol, a clunky weapon that was one of the most deadliest in the ways of silent killing, as it made next to no noise when it fired. "This is pretty cool. I assume Sashar wants us ready to go by the time the LAAT/i's take off for the Valours Fall?" conceded Legorii. "Yep, gather the rest of the Team if you would and have them here so they can get ready and familirize themselves with our new toys" ordered Talos. "However, Sashar informed me that Illian will be on a seperate mission so everyone except for him...you know he hates to be interupted when he is 'doing what he does'" added Talos. "Yes sir" responded Legorii, already pulling out his comlink. "Thank you Corporal" the Sith answered as he slammed a clip into the carbine and shoved it into a back sling.
A half hour later, the seven present men of Blue Mist were making their way to the hangar, each dressed in their new Scout Armor, helmets tucked under their arms and weapons holstered, N'gant on the back and the Verpine on the right hip. Those who had lightsabers also had them clipped to their utility belt. "Raith! Stop that" scolded Talos as he finally had enough of seeing his Apprentice switch between camo shades out of his perhipial vision. The wookie, who had had a custom set of armor made for him, looked down sheepishly and stamped a furry paw against the shiny durasteel floor of the ground. "So sorry Master" he murmered. Talos just smiled and continued with his men onwards toward the hangar, talking with JS about possible ways to get their speeders to the ground.
Blue Mist arrived and assembled in the hangar five minutes later, waiting for further instructions. Slowly the other brigades of the AAF fell in and awaited the chance to be able to begin the first steps of having Clan Arcona retake their home!
The Count of Gothengromer was always ready for a fight. He had spent the majority of his leave preparing his mind and body for things beyond that of Human comprehension, honing his skills with techniques some would consider to be 'extreme'. The former Sovereign Imperator of the Arconan Fleet was accustomed to the Order of Battle in which all would need to follow so wasnt surprised when he had heard that Qel-Droma would be tasked with scouting Estle City.
The Chiss, being a student of war was slightly aggrivated due to the fact that he wasnt being used as a tool of desctruction....Instead he sat on the sideline, basking in the Shadows in which he had learned to manipulate throughout the years. He was indeed powerful, odds are he wasnt being used because of that fact, delicate missions pertaining to the Clan Summit were usually handled by the weak-minded fools whom could be molded in to pawns. Nevertheless he would fight for his Clan, waiting for the day where he would once again work himself in to the Circle of Leaders.
His stride was dominant as he made his way to the Hangar, eager to once again taste the blood of a worthy foe. Training new recruits in the Antei Combat Centre was growing tiresome, he hungered for a challenge and figured that this would be his moment to shine. His rippling forearm became tense as his hands clasped together behind his back, anger slightly building as his fleshy fingers tightened around the cybernetic implant which made up his other arm. The Vong had taken more than his pride when they invaded so it was natural for him to hold a grudge.
Blazing red eyes scanned the halls as the Crew of the Abyss scrambled to get out of his way, hoping that they wouldnt be added to his hit list for making a foolish mistake. Finally reaching the Hangar he would remain in the back, affiliated with no one, even if he was listed as a member of Prophecy. He enjoyed the company of Draco Maligo, his Tetrarch, but found the other members of his Team to be lacking. As he stood there, waiting to depart, he focussed on some of the other members whom had already gathered within the Hangar....He detested some of them and hardly knew others but realized that if things were to go down hill they would have his back and vice versa....He just hoped that things would go according to plan.
It was high time Rho got back into the action. It seemed every time he tried to go to the front lines he was called back to his Quaestor duties, which of course, came first and foremost for him. He was back with Soulfire for this mission and it was none too soon. He was honoured to serve his House and Clan as their QUA, but there was something about the front line action that aroused his senses and woke the Dark Side energies from his soul.
Through all the battles and wars and death and the hell Rho had been a part of since coming to the Brotherhood his heart and soul had calloused over with mercilessness and a desire for more. But, this time it was different. It wasn't just about the war and victory. It was about the fact that these Force-devoid creatures had managed to take his home and the home of his Clan... his fellow Dark Jedi... those he served as Quaestor.
Now he would be back side by side with his former Master, Sashar Arconae; the one who trained him in the ways of the Brotherhood and the ways of the Force. They may have had their definite differences in the way they viewed the Force, but this only served to open his mind to some possible new doors to using the Force for his betterment.
With the talk of going back to Selen and Rho joining the crew again, he was back in his wanna-be quarters getting his gear in order. He was already wearing his Soulfire Sniper Armour and was working on securing all his needed gear to it. His Verpine Projectile Rifle, EEP-2 Assault Carbine, Silenced SSK-7 Heavy Blaster Pistol and VibroCombat Knife all in their rightful places with all the necessary ammo. His Lightsaber, "Bloodlust" was, of course, clipped to his belt, but this was a recon mission and was going to be using more stealth than ever before and for some reason Rho didn't think that pulling out and using Bloodlust was going to be a very quiet endeavour... even though it would take every ounce of self control not to decapitate those vermin. This act of war by the Vong was an all-to-familiar memory of his childhood...
Upon entering the hangar, Rho saw all the people gathered there for the same purpose: to ultimately regain Dajorra. He was proud to be part of such a team and was ready for the infiltration. Through the Force he could sense the excitement and rage soaring and pulsating in the room. He could also sense some fear in the midst of the hustle and bustle, but it sure didn't come from his own mind and he couldn't be bothered to find out who it was. Who ever it was, 'they had better get it together before we land.' Rho heartlessly thought, 'Or I'll show them where real fear comes from'.
As the Quaestor waited in the Shadows of the large hangar, he focussed on the power of the Dark Side... the anger and passion he felt fed his strength and his readiness for this mission. "I can not wait to blow some heads open!" Rho gruffly said out loud. He caught the eye of his former Apprentice, Talos Taral, who is the commander of Blue Mist and received an affirmation of the same through the Force with a subtle pounding of his right fist to his chest.
The Battlemaster was completely ready. "Ok... let's do this."
Eye of the Abyss
The halogen light in the ceiling flickered again, earning itself an irate glare from Illian as he sat hunched over a supply crate in the supply room that had become the temporary operations centre for the Ghosts. With all the refugees taken on from Selen space was a commodity, and while others found living with the civilians and military personnel an easy transition, Illian struggled to walk down a corridor nowadays without getting an overwhelming urge to sink his black claws into soft flesh.
Sighing he returned his gaze back to the data-pad his Pro-Consul had given him. Since he and Sashar had begun research into Major Kemp’s controversial mental conditioning using mind control, the concept that would soon become known as Arcona’s Ghost Unit had come in leaps and bounds. Once they had been happy with the ideology behind the group and their research had yielded a starting basis for tests, the ‘Ghosts’ had moved tentatively from vision to realisation.
Against Sashar’s wishes the initial experiments has been conducted on standard infantry with disastrous result. Subjects had side-effects ranging from complete apathy to borderline psychosis, and eventually the pair had been forced to widen their test range. A breakthrough had finally come when, out of desperation and the Pro-Con’s desire not to see any more good soldiers damaged, they had turned to the criminals contained in the brig of the ‘Eye. A particularly violent enlisted soldier Jarmund Vos had been incarcerated for nearly killing his superior officer with an eating utensil. Fifteen minutes with Illian had convinced him to sign up for testing, and now he served as the first successful member of the Ghost Unit.
It turned out aggression genes in the subject augmented the mental conditioning, providing a sufficiently tough barrier to the relentless treatments. Once the main personality had been stripped, the aggression remained, allowing a buffer for any new mental programming employed via Kemp’s methods. Sergeant Vos (newly promoted) had excelled in all forms of ranged and close combat training, showing signs of his former mentality, but with a level of control and method unattainable by normal means: in short, he was still an animal but now he was Illian’s animal.
A tap at the door of his make-shift office caused Illian’s head to snap up. He was unused to interruptions, but Sashar had warning him that as the Ghost Field Commander he was going to have to learn to restrain himself. It helped that the warning was emphasised with the business end of his former-master’s new lightsaber pointed at his forehead.
‘Enter,’ he called tersely. The door slid opened and Vos strode in to stand at attention in front of the desk. ‘What is it Sergeant?’
‘Commander, Intelligence reports they have the location of Tavis Din Orden. Shall I prepare your ship?’ The tall muscular man stared straight ahead, his brown eyes not leaving a spot at the rear wall of the room.
‘Very good. Leave the Retribution, Ill have RET prep her. I want you to go and tell Sashar that I am ready to raise the dead again. Dismissed.’ Tavis was the first on the list the Pro-Consul had given him, a brutish mercenary with a criminal record longer than a Bothan political speech. Murder, theft, rape, extortion, you name it Tavis had done it.
‘Sir.’ Vos spun smartly and left, leaving Illian to lean back in his chair slightly, a small smile playing on his lips as he watched all the data on Tavis stream across the tiny screen. It was beginning, and soon the Ghosts would be ready for their baptism by fire: deployment on Selen.
Standing, the Knight adjusted his black gauntlets and threw on a white cloak over his black aristocratic finery; a symbol Sashar had decided would help found the figurative aspect of the unit as ‘Ghosts’. Finally, he slid Torment into its sheath beneath his forearm, attached at the handle to the coil of barbed steel that was coiled around the Knight’s armoured fist. Tying his silver hair back he walked from the store room, his neural link already feeding the launch codes to RET aboard his ship.
Orgriden Space Platform, outer rim.
Tavis screamed as another of the fiend’s black claws shot into his gut. His blaster lay uselessly on the floor out of reach. It had only fired twice, both shots hitting air as the freakishly fast creature had dogged him across the deserted back passages of the space-station. Nothing was meant to move that fast, he thought as he groaned through gritted teeth as he tried in vain to bring his large fist down on his tormentor’s head. As expected he found nothing, losing his balance and stumbling forward. Looking up through bloodied eyes he saw a black boot flying towards him and then there was darkness.
Illian smiled as he looked down at the newest addition to his team and smiled, his iris’ glowing malevolently.
‘Congratulations trooper, and welcome to the Ghosts. RET prepare stasis for prisoner transport.’
Eye of the Abyss
Draco Maligo stood in the hold, turned into a makeshift training arena for the duration of the exile from the Dajorra system, and watched his charges sparring with the YV training droids, the clang of durasteel blades echoing in the chamber.
“This is too hard,” complained one of the young Acolytes.
“Fighting the Vong is worse. These droids have been built to very specific designs, to mimic the physical qualities of the YV. But they are programmed to not kill you.” Maligo motioned with his hand and the droid lumbered to the attack.
The Acolyte blocked the durasteel amphistaff, but panicked and dropped his sword when the mechanical snake bent forward to bite, and hit the deck when the simulade kicked him in the ribs.
Draco shook his head and stepped forward. “The Amphistaff is a living creature. Lightsabers won’t cut it, and it can bite and spit poison. Vong warriors are, with few exceptions, larger and stronger than all of us. If you want to survive, you have to be smart. The Force won’t work on the Vong, but the lessons we are teaching you here will allow you to live.
“You can’t hope to pit your strength up against theirs, even with the Force to aid you. You need to be faster and more flexible. Use contortion. Few of the beings of this galaxy are lithe enough to fight like a dark Jedi can, so use your power whenever, and wherever you can.” The Dark Jedi Knight motioned with his hand and the droid stepped forward to attack.
The Acolyte used the Force to call his blade to his hand, blocked several strikes, then twisted his body like a pretzel to come up under the droid’s legs and ram his blade up into what would be a Vong’s crotch. The sword separated the seam in the simulade crab armor and triggered a cut-off switch that powered down the droid.
“Much better.” Draco sighed. He walked to the next journeyman in line, continuing the tedious training regimen. But it was necessary to prepare the raw recruits for the battles to come.
Fajhal sat on his bunk and slipped on his soft leather shoes, mumbling to himself. He was nervous. It was to be his first real field assignment, and he wanted to make his master, Sashar, proud. He stood up and buckled his belt, the loincloth hanging down in front of him and the kama covering his tail. He checked the pockets to make sure his punch dagger and ball bearings were secure. Next came his bandoliers. He slipped his arms through them and crossed them over his chest, and also checked the pockets on those. All his lotus knives were in place. As a last measure he picked up his black beret, checked the inside lining for the coil of durasteel wire, then plopped it on his head, his pointed ears sticking out the sides.
Thus armed, he followed the other members of Prophecy Phyle as they set out towards the hangar bay.
As Zandro walked along the corridor he was both nervous and excited. Since his appointment to Consul, Mejas had briefly met Zandro in person on a handful of occasions. Most of their communication was done through the holo-net and most of Zandro's thoughts on his Consul's character came from his Master and the Arconan lore that was whispered throughout Dajorra.
Arriving at the Consul's chamber doors Zandro motioned to reach out and activate the door access panel, however, as he did so the doors hissed open and the dimly lit quarters of the Shadow Lord were revealed. Mejas knew he was here.
Without wishing to show any apprehension Zandro walked through the doorway into a barren, minimal suite. There was barely any light apart from one burning plasma source directly behind the Consul's chair. The light cast a pathway on the floor which Zandro followed towards the large obsidian desk roughly 20 metres into the room. While Zandro walked he did not say a word and he felt his heart rate increase as the doors slid shut behind him and he realised he was now alone with the Zabrak Master.
"Quaestor Erinos, take a seat." said Mejas, his low gravelly tones rumbling from the top end of the chamber.
Zandro approached the Consul's desk, his eyes flitting as he observed how sparsely populated it was in and around Mejas’ work area. The desk was empty apart from the easily recognisable Abyssal Tome and a terminal screen which rolled with text every 2 or 3 seconds. Sashar had told Zandro how obsessive the Zabrak was about studying and absorbing the text of Arcona's greatest relic.
The Qel-Droma Quaestor bowed low before rising to take his seat across the desk. As he did, the Consul's chair revolved to reveal the black robed Mejas Doto, only his lower jaw and hands revealing any sign that it was in fact the Clan Guardian himself.
"Quaestor, as my Shadow Scion should have informed you, I will be accompanying House Qel-Droma during the Estle City mission. Residency in space does nothing for my temperament and even the comfort of the shadows is wearing thin. The Vong have forced me from my system, they have tarnished Arcona's name with their attack and we cannot allow such actions to go unchallenged. From the Shadows we will creep... and Sashar assures me you are more than capable of watching my back?" rasped Mejas.
Zandro shifted himself slightly in his chair and although he couldn't see the Zabrak's eyes he could feel the gaze of the Shadow Lord pierce his very essence. "Indeed Lord Consul, I am honoured to have your company on this mission and without Sashar at your side there are few others in Arcona who can offer you the protection I can deliver."
"Very well Quaestor. Summon the rest of your House and inform them of my attendance." spat the Zabrak as his chair rotated back to its original position before he had even finished speaking.
Zandro nodded, rose from his chair and walked back towards the exit into the main corridor. He had said little but felt he had dealt with the tempestuous Zabrak as well as could have been imagined. Now it was time to inform the rest of Qel-Droma that the Houses most successful former Quaestor, now Clan Consul, would be accompanying them to Estle.
"No pressure then!" thought Zandro as the Consul's chamber doors slid shut behind him and a smirking Zabrak Master was left alone once more in the comfort of little more than darkness.
ISD Eye of the Abyss
Legorii returned from the Proconsul's demonstration with the gears of his mind turning furiously. The fighting technique had been amazing, far beyong the skill level of any warrior of Blue Mist. The warriors strove to further themselves, guided by their Commander and Corporal, but Sashar Arconae had trained for years and years under the best the Brotherhood had to offer, so it was no surprise that he could fight like he had just shown.
The word echoed in Legorii's mind, sparking the thoughts and memories from the fall. Since then, they had been living in space, cooped up and irritable. Commander Talos kept the troopers in line, and made sure they were on their toes. He apparently had been working on getting them new armor and weaponry, while Legorii had been training with them whenever possible.
The Obelisk warrior made his way through the halls of the ISD Eye of the Abyss, halls that were filled with men rushing to and fro, as always. Legorii assumed that the Proconsul and Consul had been hard at work planning the operation they were about to undertake since the fall, and finally their plans were to be tested in fire and blood.
Legorii was willing to spill blood for the Clan. He was willing to spill his own blood for the Clan. Whatever it took to defeat the Yuuzhan Vong, tear their ranks apart, burn their structures and destroy their ships; Blue Mist would do it. Legorii would do it. It was a difficult time for the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, fighting such a terrible foe.
As his thoughts trailed off, Legorii entered the assigned barracks of Blue Mist. The commander was already inside, looking himself over as he stood in the new armor the Summit had issued for the team. The Anzat raised an eyebrow, watching the suit's capabilities.
"This is it then?" asked Legorii. He had been in on the planning of the new gear for the team, but hadn't seen anything other than a few preliminary blueprints and feature outlines that hadn't been set in stone. The commander nodded, continuing to experiment with the armor before Legorii's surprised gaze. The Corporal didn't hesitate, grabbing his own set of armor from the box and slipping it on. The Anzat wouldn't be wearing his Dark Jedi robes on this mission, just his Blue Mist armor and Mantle.
Legorii tried out all the different features of the armor, becoming accommodated with what it could and could not do, so he wouldn't have to learn it in the heat of battle. He was happy with the armor, even though it wasn't what he normally wore. The Anzat then went to the weapons crate, pulling out the N'Gant Zavrel 9118 Carbine, checking the silencer. He holstered the carbine at his left hip, moving on to pull out the Verpine Shatter Pistol. The pistol looked great, and Legorii liked how it felt in his hand. He strapped it to his utility belt, for easy access. He would still be carrying his A280 into battle, strapped to his right thigh, carrying his katana with him or sheathed on his back. Legorii was a walking arsenal, a ticking bomb.
"Commander, let us do our Clan proud."
Eye of the Abyss
Maligo sat in one of the escape pods, one of the only quiet places on the ship. His legs were crossed, hands folded onto his lap as he quieted his mind and reached out to the Force. He could feel the emotions of the myriad beings scattered around and scrambling through the overcrowded star destroyer, and savored the focused anger and thirst for revenge. The Dark Jedi Knight also reveled in the cold that crept up his spine from the fear that many of the military exuded.
The war, despite its recent negative effect on the Dark Brotherhood, on the whole was good for the dark side of the Force. With all the trillions of beings in the galaxy who were inconvenienced, enslaved, displaced and murdered, the anger and bitterness seemed to swell like a cresting wave throughout the entire galaxy. And since dark Jedi gained strength and focus from such feelings, Draco believed that the dark side was again on the ascendancy.
He enjoyed the warmth and tingle from the echoes of dark energy reverberating through space from all the battles, massacres and sacrifices that pocked the map, and through the death throes of countless beings Draco could almost construct a time-line of the entire war. He felt assurance from the Force that the Brotherhood would not die, that the Force itself desired the destruction of the Vong, their eradication from the universe.
For the Vong were somehow outside the Force. Despite all the knowledge the Brotherhood gained about the aliens, how to neutralize their weapons and fight effectively against them, still no one knew how or why they were outside the Force. They couldn’t be sensed and the Force could not be used on them. But they were a stain that needed cleansing, and the Brotherhood was the group to excise the blemish.
And the war, as a whole, was going well. The Galactic Alliance had finally gotten its political house in order, mobilized for the fight, and had won significant victories. The battle was far from over, however, but the Vong had been bloodied, were over-extended, and would soon face revenge. The Dark Jedi Knight finally felt confident, after a long period of maladjustment stemming from the losses of Antei and the Dajorra system. But now Arcona was headed home to reclaim that which was theirs. And the blood of the Brotherhood’s enemies was waiting to be spilled.
The wind blew mercilessly, gathering the warrior's cloak around him, enclosing him. He stared out in the distance. Thoughts raced through his mind, calculating the beasts' next move. The once bright blue sky had been torn asunder by the invasion of the Vong, their endless hunger consuming everything within their zealous path.
He turned to the remainder of his troops, and laughed to himself; laughed bitterly. All that was left was a handful. They found refuge in one of the least prosperous isles on Selen, hoping the invaders would ignore it, for the time being. His pale blue eyes focused on one of his soldiers coughing up blood. A mere child, even by human standards. And he was dying. He was dying, and they were losing. He gripped the lightsabre hanging by his side, as if to seek solace in its cold feel against his skin.
Sammael had led the Deep Assault Recon Troops against the Vong onslaught for three weeks now, and their numbers had not diminished; in fact, they seemed to grow like some undying monster. The Yuuzhan Vong... Never had a race chilled him as they did. Fanatics, willing to die if it meant they would kill. And they killed a lot of people.
"Waymaster," a soft voice came to bring him back to reality. "We lost another man." He looked at the child and saw two others covering him. The man who spoke was one of the few friends he had amongst the troops, one with whom he had forged a friendship even before the Brotherhood. His name was Niron, and he was a Chiss. His race prevented him from openly indicating his panic of their current situation, but Sammael could sense it. As a Falleen, he could sense other people's intense feelings more easily.
"Then bury and honour him," he responded in the crisp, quiet tones he always did. "They will not let us rest for much longer."
"Waymaster," Niron said, "most of the men left are civilians. Our options are diminishing."
"Then let us make do with the ones we have left," the Falleen replied and raised his hood. Night was falling; it was time he went hunting.
They had all but finished gathering before the primed LAAT/i gunships when Sashar joined the others in the Hangar. He got a few strange looks – it had been a while since anyone had seen him in Soulfire’S Das’verd armour. He had to admit the HUD got a little getting used to; mezzays of light and text scrolling almost too fast to keep up with was a little disorientating, however it didn’t take him long to look past it all and be aware of the information flowing in and still retain some semblance of normal vision. Mejas joined the group a moment later, clad in his usual black robes and hid his face. He stood by Sashar and remained silent – clearly Sashar was the spokesman for the duo.
“Okay gentlemen, you all know your job. I’m not going to make some big speech, just give you some final instructions: I don’t want heroes out there, as heroes die and right now we can’t afford to lose anyone else – don’t get me wrong, if some Vongese out there gives you the perfect death, then I’ll be jealous. But die for something or someone stupid and I’ll personally drag you back from the Manda and kick your shebs until you understand quite how much of a di’kut you are. Clear?” Sashar gestured towards the gunships and climbed aboard one himself.
He was joined by his team of mundanes, hand picked from the legion housed on the now crowded Eye of the Abyss. Parts of the larger corridors had turned into shanty-towns and there was a thriving black market. Quartermasters, Doctors and Civilian Liaisons had turned into everyone’s best friends.
The gunships swept from the Hangar of the Destroyer and moved as one towards the Valour’s Fall, hanging in space a few clicks from the flagship. It was a quiet journey, so the Proconsul took stock of his staff. Sitting down on a crate typing into a datapad was Major Helder Kemp, Senior Intelligence and Tactical Analyst aboard the Abyss and a member of Sashar’s personal staff. He was clad in a utilitarian jumpsuit and looked a little out of place surrounded by armoured soldiers, however the Mandalorian had faith that some field work could be trusted. The other Major was Malay – a Tactical Assault Marine that had proved his mettle during the Dajorra Invasion. There were also three Privates – Rifkin, Trey and Cohen – heavy weapons, medic and point man respectively. Together, Malay and the privates comprised half of Major Malay’s best squad. A pair of Light Infantry also accompanied the squad of commandoes – Privates Grenner and Talvid, both of whom had previously worked personally with Sashar during House Galeres’ brief deployment on Krant. They were all men he was confident would perform their duty without hesitation and would also serve as the core unit for the Galeres section, whilst Blue Mist acted as advanced scouts and Soulfire acted as a surgical sabotage team. He may have outlined the mission profile as strictly reconnaissance, but that didn’t mean he could hinder the Vong in the process – as long as it didn’t endanger the mission.
He grinned tightly to himself. Sashar and everyone in Arcona had been wanting a strike back at the Vong since the fall of Antei, and Dajorra’s plight was just one more injustice that would be returned to the scar heads eventually.
“We’re coming up on the Valour’s Fall, Proconsul. We’re the first gunship in. Once we’re out the next larty will board as the hangar can only fit one at a time.” Major said, somewhat redundantly – presumably pre-mission nerves.
“Yes, thank you, Major.” Sashar replied, allowing the sardonic smirk he had plastered across his face behind the mask to leak out into his voice.
He peered through the archway into the pilot’s section and saw the Corvette’s side looming ahead of the antique gunship. It wouldn’t be long until they were shot at Selen in hastily constructed pods and expected to do a lot of groundwork in very little time. The Mandalorian was confident, but there were still a lot of factors that could go wrong before Illian picked them up again.
Posted on behalf of CC:
(had to move it so story fitted chronologically)
Zandro felt a shiver of excitement as he sat awaiting the drop down to the surface. He knew that this mission was important for the Clan in the long-term for the regaining of the Dajorra system, and the fact that he was meant to act as bodyguard to the Consul showed that he had made some sort of impression in his time as part of the Clan. However, as many times as he had made an insertion it still gave him a little kick of adrenaline just before it happened.
Push it away, move past it and let it go. Focus on the now and you won’t die.
“Is everyone prepared for this?”
He heard the murmurs from his troops and grinned slightly; they were ready for this. He knew that it wasn’t the most glamorous mission, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t vital.
“Remember, this is not the day we reclaim Dajorra. However, our success here could greatly speed up when that time finally does arrive, and I want you all alive and by my side when that day finally does come and we get to kick those scumbags out of our home. Don’t do anything foolish and you won’t die.”
His words were relayed by a commlink to the other troops who were in separate drop ships and he felt their approval and readiness in the Force before he finally realised what was about to happen.
And now we have the freefall part. Be still my beating heart.
It was all he could do to silence a yelp of surprise as suddenly the drop ship launched and the mission was begun.
“Watch out crab boys, Arcona is a-coming.”
Eye of the Abyss
Talos swung up and into the waiting LAAT/i after his men, all looking rather menacing in their new Scout kit. As soon as Talos was aboard, the Troop Bay doors slammed shut and the Mandalorian just had time to grab a handle before the ship launched from the Clan capital ship. Seating himself directly behind the pilot, Talos quickly looked over his men, with the absence of Illian. Legorii, his helmet on his lap, was also scanning the men and Dorn, the unique colored Rodian, was staring straight at the opposite bulkhead while Raith, Talos's own Apprentice was absent-mindedly fiddling with his Verpine Shatter pistol. JS was eyeing the the larty controls with obvious greed and Riv and Chucky were both looking rather petrified, this being the duo's first combat expirience.
"All right men. Last minute brief" said the Commander finally, breaking the ice of fear. Blue Mist is actually touching the ground and acting as forward advanced scouts while Soulfire and the rest of Galeres follows our lead. When we hit the ground, we act as one. No hero's...no playing sacrifice. You heard what Sashar said and by the gods, he means it. So just follow my orders...act smart...be smart...watch each others shebs and you'll be fine" Talos explained. Looking around, he got affirimtive nods from each of his Troopers and his Corporal, Legorii, flashed him a gloved 'thumbs' up sign. "Commander, we are three out from the Valours Fall, prepare for de-embarkment" said the pilot of the larty. "Affirimitve pilot" the Knight responded. "Kit check. Run through the camo shades...[once and the weapons systems" he said, looking directly at his Apprentice as he said the part about the camo shades, for it had only been one hour ago when Raith had found enjoyment of pushing all the buttons.
Valours Fall: Hangar
"They'll do fine" said Legorii, walking beside his best friend. "I know...its just that we all hate the Vongese with every fiber of our bodies and I know what revenge can do to you. Makes you dangerous not only to the enemy but to your team, makes you irrational. If that happens down on the surface and our cover is blown...Blue Mist will just be a memory" confessed Talos. Just then, a Force-thought came to Talos, from his former Master, Rho d'Tana. "Good luck down there. You'll do fine and bring us all honor. If you kill any Vong before me...kill one in my name"" the thought said in his mind. Talos could not but grinning and responded with a 'sure thing'. As of touching foot on the Valours Fall, Clan Arcona was one step closer to re-taking Selen. "All things in good time" thought Talos as he went to inspect the drop-pod that would be carrying them down to the surface.
COVERT CIVILLIAN SCIENCE FRIGATE, NIHILUS, IN CLOSE ORBIT OF THE ARCONAN FLEET
‘Good. Din Orden seems to be adjusting nicely to the mental re-conditioning,’ Illian muttered as he watched the ogre-like man throwing his fists into a punching bag. He had said it more to himself than to Vos, getting a response from the other anyway.
‘Yes sir. Tavis will make an adequate addition to the cell. Would you like my analysis of his combat performance?’ The dark-skinned sergeant continued to stare straight ahead, legs spread to shoulder width and hands clasped behind his back. On impulse Illian scanned his mind briefly, noticing with pleasure that the core directives of his mind-alteration were still there: “My life is nothing, the life of the Clan is everything. I will serve my commanders to the best of my abilities until no life is left in me, and I will die willingly in service to Arcona.” It has been a little flowery for the Pro-Consul, but Illian had argued that emotional conditioning was far more durable and less likely to fail.
‘Proceed Sergeant,’ the volatile Knight growled. He was still having trouble adjusting to his command role, finding it hard to communicate appropriately with his team.
‘He has shown remarkable skill with small arms and close-combat weapons, and has an extensive knowledge of explosives. I believe he would be suited to high impact deployment in confined areas. Also if I may speak freely sir…’ He trailed off expectantly. Illian sighed and waved a gauntlet dismissively.
‘Yes, yes, say what you have to.’ The military protocol that Sashar had adamantly put into their mental programming was another trial for the unstable dark Jedi. Even with his new rigid discipline however, Vos still subconsciously rubbed a large scar on his temple, a reminder of what Illian could do when he was unhappy.
‘Several elements of his previous behavioural patterns have re-emerged in his training. I was thinking perhaps…’
‘That the program had failed.’ Illian finished with a small smile on his lips. ‘Have faith Vos. I was in charge of his behavioural conditioning, and where Sashar likes to make you obedient little soldiers, I am a little more… liberal with what leave up there,’ he said, tapping the side of his head for emphasis. So Tavis was still the vile creature he had been before his recruitment. Good, Illian had no need of military robots, and just so long as they stayed loyal to their two dark Jedi commanders, then they could be as debased as they liked.
‘I understand sir. Shall I inform the Pro-Consul of our success?’
‘No,’ Illian said thoughtfully. ‘Wait till Selen. We will show him first hand, and he will be so proud. Get Tavis geared up; I will need both of you for the next target. Dismissed,’ Vos saluted and made his way over to where Din Orden was still annihilating the training bag. As the sergeant approached, the larger man straightened up and gave a brisk salute. Even from this distance Illian could see the fire in Tavis’ movements, as if he were on the verge of lashing out against his fellow Ghost. A quick mind probe showed that he would not however, the conditioning proving strong enough to contain even this psychopath’s brutal tendencies.
A glance at the data-pad showed no updates from Sashar about the next recruit; all Illian knew was that he made Tavis look like a gentle giant and that the Pro-Consul had important intelligence on his location. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the information to come through.
The eight beings of Prophecy Phyle huddled together in the hangar bay of the star destroyer, quietly waiting for the arrival of their Consul and the orders to launch. Draco stared out the shield at the myriad of stars across known space, feeling the vibrations of the ship as it sped into position.
Two emotions were fighting for control of his psyche. On the one hand, going into battle was a pure expression of one’s soul. When fighting, one did not have the time or concentration to worry about ideology, or any other intellectual pursuit. The fight for survival burned like a crucible, forcing the slag to separate from the valuable metal wedded to it, creating a new weapon, a better being.
And yet, some of the newer members weren’t ready to face the Vong. But wars didn’t allow for the patient development of soldiers. Untested beings were thrown into the meat grinder, and many wouldn’t survive. But those who did would be taught valuable lessons, would grow in power and live to fight another day.
And that was the credo of the dark side. The strong survive while the weak die.
Raith Xderon stood with the other members as he watched Sashar perform highly advanced combat moves. He was quiet now, for the first time ever it seemed, but on the inside his mind was racing. How could one look into the future for a short amount of time, and could one possibly look days or years into the future? He stared at the floor on the way back to his quarters when Legorii called from across the hall that Blue Mist received some cool new toys. Raith snapped back to reality and ran for the barracks, whenever Talos got new toys they were guaranteed to be fun ones. The suits where spiffy, black, and had slick looking helmets. Raith quickly found the four lights on the side of his armor that could change the color of the whole suit. He smiled thinking of what all he could do with these buttons, from sneaking across the galaxy to just freaking out a couple of friends.
Raith got all of his gear strapped on (it was surprisingly comfortable). Then he hooked his whip to his new armor and headed to the hanger where Blue Mist was supposed to meet. On the way he found his brother, Dathka. Grinning with the satisfaction of having the first victim be his own brother, he shouted to Dathka, “ hey, did you hear that we got new toys?”
“No, where do we get them at?”
“At the barracks behind me, than we are supposed to meet at the hanger, where I’m going.”
Dathka turned around to look in the direction I was headed and I changed the color of my suit to camouflage. Dathka looked back, but to my surprise didn’t notice.
“hey didn’t you notice my suite is different?”
“Yep, than our other ones”
“No! I mean… never mind”
Raith walked off disappointed but laughing that his brother could be so oblivious sometimes, even though he was great on the battlefield.
Raith stood in the hanger behind Talos and Legorii waiting for the rest of Blue Mist to show up, entertaining himself with the colorful suit. Talos finally had enough and scolded him, telling him that there were other features in, or on, the armor that he could experiment with. He searched his armor for something else when he found the Verpine shatter pistol. Interested in all kind of weapons and how they worked, he tried to figure out how to disassemble it. He got on the ship, still fiddling with his weapon, wondering how many Yuuzhan Vong scum he could, or would, kill. He had never seen the Vong before but it didn’t matter to him, if they could be killed than things couldn’t go that bad, or so he thought.
SHAFT 301 SLUMS, SUBTERREL.
Liria C’rys lay awake in the sweaty confines of her small cubicle deep beneath the surface of Subterrel, her usual sleeping attire discarded by the side of the hard bunk in favour of a thin sheet draped lightly over her bare form. And now even that was starting to seem too hot.
She groaned and rolled over for what felt like the millionth time this cycle, attempting to push her matted brown hair off her face and find a comfortable spot on the stone slab the administration of this hell-hole passed for a bed. She hated this place, the smell, the rock, the company, and most of all the man that brought her here: Dash Kuatir.
Rolling over again Liria opened her sky-blue eyes, finally admitting defeat. There was no way to get any proper sleep in this place, not when the damned air cooling unit went down every second cycle, and so now the only thing left to do was go and socialise with the rest of the galactic bottom-feeders and stray criminals that called this particular hole in Subterrel home.
Sitting up she reached down and was just about to grab her shirt when the door to her quarters exploded across the room, landing bent and torn a foot from the end of Liria’s bed. She looked at it in surprise, one hand automatically clutching the sheet to her chest while the other shifted its focus from her shirt to her gun holster next to it.
‘Freeze! Get you hands above your head, and lie down on the floor NOW!’ A mechanically distorted voice came from the newly ‘opened’ doorway, dragging the girl’s attention away from the mangled door. Standing with a high tech rifle pointed at her chest was some kind of soldier dressed in white armour with a mask covering his head, a white face devoid of emotion from which electronic sapphire eyes watched her impassively.
‘As you can see, I can’t really do that,’ her response came mechanically as she slowly lifted her hand from down the side of the bed while she continued to grip the sheet to her body. ‘Let’s all just keep calm. I’m sure there’s been some mistake here, I’ve done nothing wrong and I certainly don’t have anything worth stealing…’ She trailed off as fear began to find its way through the shock, and she started to become very aware of the fact that the flimsy sheet across her breasts was doing little to conceal her nakedness.
‘No talking. Ghost one reporting clear,’ the reply was monotone and the soldier still made no motion to approach her, and slowly Liria began to make her mind work again. This man was obviously not your standard street rabble, and that gear had to be Special Forces. Now she began to relax: Whatever part she had played in the bounty captures she had been involved with since signing up with Kuatir’s band had not been high profile enough to warrant this kind of attention.
The commando moved aside and another larger one entered, scanning the room quickly before proceeding to search through her sparse belongings. After a minute he nodded to the first who put a glove to his ear for a moment.
‘Ghost one to Ghost zero: area clear, captive secure.’ Then he was gone, probably to stand watch outside, Liria thought. She better get a bonus from Dash for this, and not just a kiss and his usual sweet-talking words about how he could never do without her. No, this time she wanted credits and lots of them.
She glared at the larger commando defiantly, her vulnerability forgotten for the time being. She hated this place, she never wanted to be here, and now she was being gawked at by some brute who had barged into her room without provocation, and now she was being held as a captive!
Her train of thought abruptly stopped as a figure entered the room. Dressed in the same white armour as the others, this commando was much smaller than the other two and seemed almost effeminate. An ornate white cloak adorned his shoulders as he walked over to where Liria was, sitting delicately on the end of her bed. That’s when she saw the twisted effigy of a lightsaber hanging at his waist, and a new fear seeped into her. No Jedi she had ever seen carried something that sinister, leaving only one alternative.
‘By the lords of light…’ she wore, the sheet dropping to her lap, forgotten as an icy cold finger traced her spine sending shivers through her entire body. The figure made a noise that sounded like a sigh and removed his cloak, wrapping it gently round her shoulders with hands sheathed in wickedly spiked black gauntlets. He then placed his metal hands at the back of the mask and pulled it off, revealing the kind of face that only appeared in the darkest of nightmares.
Shock white hair flowed gracefully around angular cheeks and across the man’s slight shoulders. An angelic face looked out at her with a small smile that twisted his beautiful pale lips, setting her heart fluttering. Finally, her eyes found his, and she drew in a sharp breath. Either side of his slight and perfectly shaped nose sat two angular pits of neon-green fire, blazing with unnatural light. A black claw reached up to pull her close, and a silken voice penetrated her mind like a knife.
‘Now dear Liria lets talk about Dash Kuatir…’
ISD Eye of the Abyss II - Consul's Chambers
As Mejas stood at his desk, one hand rested on the Abyssal Tome. It would be sometime before he would be reunited with ancient texts, the texts that had helped guide him into the Shadow Realm and, in some respects, forced him to return to the corporeal plane and resume his duties as the Shadow Lord of Dajorra, Consul of Clan Arcona.
The terminal screen on the Consul's desk flickered as text danced about relaying the status of every ship and Clansmen in the Clan. It appeared that House Qel-Droma was ready to depart, Galeres too. It was time to address the Clan.....or in Mejas usual style, have his Shadow Scion brief them. The Zabrak always felt that he should speak as rarely as possible to his Clanmates, then when he did speak they would all take heed.
Valour's Fall - Drop Pods
On board the Valour's Fall Quaestor Erinos was briefing the Prophecy Phyle and other squadrons in an early hope to co-ordinate the drop-landing efficiently. With no Aedile to hand Zandro was forced to cover every leadership duty in the House - and he fulfilled this roll well.
The Consul was nowhere to be seen, he had disappeared from Dash's side after the Clan address, but Zandro could still feel the familiar presence of the Zabrak from his earlier encounter in the Consul's chambers. Was Master Doto reading his mind or watching him from the shadows? Zandro was quite unsure and too busy to spend much more time thinking about it.
As the back of Khobai's head disappeared into the last pod and the door was sealed shut Zandro opened a channelt o Captain Yamato.
"The cards have been stacked, full house is ready to be dealt." announced Zandro.
"Roger that Quaestor Erinos. Dropping off in T-3 minutes." replied the Valour's Fall Captain.
Before entering his own pod Zandro took one final glance over the room to make sure nobody or anything important was left behind. With a deep breath the Qel-Droma Quaestor opened the pod door and stepped inside, he knew that the trip with the Arconan Consul would be intense if nothing else.
But Zandro was shocked to find Mejas sitting alongside another individual. He was an average sized human, dark skinned and clothed in deep black robes. His face was al but hidden in the shadows of his hood and his left index finger bore an amethyst encrusted ring. None of this was familiar to Zandro and even more unnerving was his Consul's welcoming:
"Quaestor Erinos, be seated - we have much to discuss!" grumbled Mejas, the figure at his side motionless as the Consul spoke. Taking his seat and snapping on his fixing buckle Zandro reached out with the Force but could read nothign - probably due to the Consul's presence.
"Your work in Arcona has not gone unnoticed. Qel-Droma could have faded intop obscurity had you not risen up to the challenge. This House as you know is of great significance to me and becasue of this, I have taken matters into my own hands..." Mejas paused as malicious sneer appeared on his face, "...you are an exceptional leader but you have taken on too much Zandro. Furthermore, shoudl we lose you, our House is leaderless. As such I have found you a new Aedile - I'm sure you have noticed him."
As Mejas motioned with his hand the robed figure dropped his hood to reveal Dark Jedi Knight Tirano Yamayura. Zandro was familiar with the former Ektrosian, but only by name. What were his credentials? Why was he not consulted? What game was the Shadow Lord playing with Zandro now?
"No games Quaestor, just an act of gratitude. Arcona is grwoing stronger every day and I cannot afford any further mishaps. I have eyes and ears throughout the galaxy so trust me when I say that Tirano will excel as your subordinate."
"Yes, Master Doto." was all Zandro could muster after realising his thoughts were nowehere near hidden to the Zabrak. "Aedile Yamayura, Qel-Droma welcomes you. I will dispatch you with Prophecy Phyle when we land. Tetrarch Draco Maligo will brief you his units objectives."
"Very well, Quaestor Erinos." nodded Tirano.
As the converstaion stopped blinking lights cut out in the drop pod to make way for one large, pulsing, blue neon bulb. As the light filled the drop pod Zandro noticed the Shadow Lord wincing at the brightness before he mtioned with his lefthand and the various shadows of the room engulfed the light, bathing everyone in darkness. Then the robotic voice started:
"T-10 seconds until drop.....9.....8.....7.....6.....5.....4.....3.....2......1!"
There was a strong jolt as the pod was ejected from the ship. Draco knew that the vessels, built to resemble chunks of rock and only large enough to carry two average-sized beings, would rain down on Selen as a meteor shower. This, it was hoped, would fool the Vong into ignoring their insertion and allow House Qel-Droma to land unopposed. If it were an invasion it would matter less, but this was to be a reconnaissance, and open battle was to be avoided. Stealth was more important than military advantage.
The Dark Jedi Knight sat in the cramped drop pod nestled beside a young Acolyte who’s unabashed excitement at this new adventure bled out into the Force. The two beings in the bucking asteroid analog sweated as the friction from the atmosphere heated the air inside the pod, and their stomachs lurched in their guts with the weightless feeling of free-fall. Then when the appropriate altitude was reached the repulsor-lifts fired up, slowing the rock to a survivable crash landing in the jungle of the planet. Both men were bounced like Ping-Pong balls, since no inertial compensators were built into the pods.
The two beings staggered out of the discarded shell and picked their way through the tangled underbrush towards a small clearing, while Maligo sent out a call through the Force, something any Jedi could sense. But the Vong would be completely oblivious.
The other Dark Jedi of Prophecy Phyle approached in pairs. All wore armor painted with a camouflage pattern specifically designed for Selen.
The Dark Jedi Knight’s comlink vibrated. “Maligo here.”
“You are to lead your battle team to coordinates 32-15-22 and submit to the authority of the new Aedile, Tirano Yamayura. You will brief him on your team’s objectives and he will take command. That is all.” Zandro signed off before any objections could be lodged.
“Who the hell is Tirano?” Maligo whispered, half to himself. He motioned the team forward, and they spread out into a standard dispersal pattern, recording the changes the Vong made to the flora and fauna of the planet, and looking for evidence of coralskipper nurseries and other tactical targets while using their infrared sensors to seek out sentries the Vong might have prowling the night-darkened jungle.
Sashar grimaced as he clambered into the tight pod – directly opposite him was Major Malay and they were both in full armour. It was a tight fit.
“Don’t worry sir, I hear it’s lovely in the wilds this time of year.” The Major commented jovially and Sashar had to smirk in response. His team were just boarding the cramped pods ready to be deployed, however a ping came over the comlink.
“Proconsul, we have an incoming XJ-Wing – it’s got stealth protocols engaged so it doesn’t look like the Vong have spotted it, however the pilot says he’s to meet yourself and Quaestor Rho d’Tana.” Yamato reported.
He sighed laboriously.
“I’m already in the pod, Captain. I can’t get out again until we hit Selen. Have we got any spare places in the pods?” Sashar replied, already knowing who it was joining them at such a late stage.
“No sir – the largest pod left is yours. House Qel-Droma’s contingent was just dispatched.”
“Kriffing typical.” Malay muttered and Sashar grinned.
“Ok, bring our guest down here – we’ll try and wedge him in so he doesn’t get shaken about too much.”
“I knew you were going to say that.” Malay grunted.
A moment later a ubese helmet was peering down into the pod with the wearer’s head tilted disdainfully to one side.
“I won’t fit.” Came the filtered voice.
“Yes you will.” Chided the technician, who pushed the ubese. He choked off a startled yelp before landing half on top of the Proconsul and Major Malay who both shouted out in consternation.
With a lot of twisting and wriggling, Jedi Hunter Vorion, the latest addition to Galeres was wedged between Malay and Sashar, then a pair of metal bars were welded across the pod by the technician to hold Vorion more or less in place.
“Comfy, Proconsul?” Captain Yamato’s voice came over the comlink – it was apparent that he found the situation hilarious.
“Be quiet and launch us, Captain.” The Mandalorian responded curtly.
“Happy hunting, Galeres.” He said to the wider channel, and with a lurch the second volley of pods were shot through the Valour’s Fall escape pod ports and down towards the occupied planet.
A booted foot kicked the hatch from its casing where it had jammed, and a matte black armoured figure with a kama about his waist, pauldron on his right shoulder and camouflaged cloak trailing from the shoulders clambered out of the wrecked pod. His rifle was tossed out a moment later. Only when he nodded clear did the other identically clad figure climb from the pod. He was taller and lacked the kama, however also had a pauldron and cloak attached to his shoulders. His rifle was smaller though, and he also had a differently structured mask which seemed to focus on optics.
The night air was warm and the sounds of the forest were gradually returning to the area. Both of the armoured individuals looked up as another pod shot by overhead and smacked into the forest a few hundred meters away.
Rho d’Tana and Kieran Kodiak Erinos set off towards the crash site at a brisk jog, determined to meet up with more of their House.
Sashar grimaced. He was pretty sure that their pod had landed upside down.
“You okay, sir?” Malay asked.
“Oh I’m fine, Major. Might pass out soon from the blood rushing to my head and I can’t move my arms due to our gate-crasher, but other than that I’m a paradigm of okay…ness.”
“Quite a way with words you have, Sir. Have you considered a career in politics?” Malay quipped in return as he struggled to free himself from the restraints.
“Cheeky di’kut.” The Proconsul replied testily.
“Have you two finished?” Vorion asked from between them as he started slamming his foot against the wall, jarring the metal brackets holding him in place until they finally one gave way and he gained some room to move.
“There’s another hatch to your right for just this eventuality.” Sashar commented idly and Vorion immediately set to work reaching for the release clasp.
The Proconsul sighed in impatience and glared at the hatch’s controls and telekinetically released both him and Malay, who sagged down with a thump as the metal framework holding them in place slackened. A moment later the three had extracted themselves from the pod.
“Anything, Sir?” Malay asked as he turned in a slow, crouched circle for any signs that they’d been spotted by vong patrols.
“Doesn’t feel that way. Of course, I wouldn’t even know if there was one standing in front of me if I relied on the force alone. Let’s see if we can meet up with the rest of the house and get one with this.”
Valour's Fall Insertion Site
4 Standard Hours until planetary midnight
Vorion clambered away from the pod craters, studying the chronometer on his commlink. His visor flashed in the still, humid air of the dim Selenian twilight, and the stout Ubese surveyed the wooded ridge as he crouched low, swiftly removing a folded sheet tarp from his field pack. He motioned for Malay to assist him in arranging the large, lumpy, irregular tarp over the pods. Sashar watched the horizon cautiously as his subordinates worked.
In moments, it was done. The landing site did indeed look like nothing more than a collection of fallen space rocks, nothing unusual on almost any planet. Vorion moved swiftly as ever, withdrawing a ghillie suit and swiftly dragging it over the black body glove he wore, tugging for a moment as it snagged on his helmet. As he stuffed the now-empty field pack under the tarp, the young Krath addressed Sashar softly, but with intensity.
"Proconsul. That tarp happens to be heat-shielded, so there aren't likely any observable thermal signatures for the occupation force to detect. We should get moving, however. I'm sure our arrival made some commotion. The wooded stands to the west..." he pointed at the cluster of high canopied trees, surrounded by thick underbrush.
"...is our vantage point. One spotter there can observe any Vong patrols that come out this far, and can maintain watch for friendlies." he halted as he saw Sashar exchange a glance of amusement with the Major.
"Err, pardon me, sir. I believe I overstep."
Sashar shook his head slowly. "No. You're merely doing what I knew I could rely on you to do. It's men like you that I can count on to pave the way for our reclaiming of Selen; men like you the Consul counts on - to keep Arcona mighty."
"But let's hurry. Time is everything, soldiers."
Drop Pods: Dropping towards Selen
"Thump". That was the sound that was heard all through out the Blue Mist pod as it detached itself from the Valours Fall and plummeted towards Selen. "Ayeee!" whooped Dathka Zhar-Khon, the Krath Protector of Blue Mist...who had apparently never been through a drop-insertion. "Dathka! Quiet please!" snapped Legorii, the Anzat refitting his armor. "Sorry Legorii" the now-subdued Krath responded. Talos looked up from where he was adding a silencer to his N'gant Carbine and nodded slowly, then returned to his work. "You know...its not the same without Illian" muttered Dorn, the purple Rodian. "I know, but he's off doing something for Sashar that will aide us in this war more than if he was here" answered the Commander. "Alright men...quiet now. We are just about to hit--CRASH" started Talos as the pod hit the ground. "Oi! You could have given us a warning!" moaned Raith as the wookie was josteled from his seat. "I did" said the Obelisk as he sent his armored foot through the release door and leapt nimbly to the ground and used the Force to pull the rest of his kit towards him.
Selen: Drop Pod BM Bravo landing site
"Where are they!?" complained Dathka as he searched the sky for about the 50th time since they landed...fifteen minutes ago. Talos quieted the Zabrak with a stare and looked down at his chrono. "5..4..3..2..1" counted down the Knight. A rustle was heard and Talos, Legorii, and JS all extended their hands and caught the second pod in the Force, putting it down lightly. "There. Happy?" asked Talos as he sent Legorii to rip open the hatch.
Twenty minutes later, all seven of the Aratech speeder bikes were assembled and idling on their repulsor lifts. "Alright men. You've all got coordinates to the Galeres Meeting Point. Now, we landed in the countryside to avoid the Vong but take no chances" ordered Talos. "Forest Camo on and don't talk unless you need to and no Force at all" he continued. "Yes sir!" they whispered and Talos, leading the pack, mounted his speeder, hit the green button on his Scout Armor utility belt and the armor accordinly turned colors of green and brown and then he hit the start button on the right handlebar and tore off into the waiting countryside of Selen.
Fajhal fought through the undergrowth, struggling to keep up with his longer-legged comrades. As a teammate helped him up and over a fallen log bigger than he was Fajhal noticed a ripple in the Force. His comrades must have sensed it too, because they all stopped moving and looked up in surprise. Draco Maligo signalled for the squad to fall in on him, and they set off towards the disturbance.
After a few hundred feet they came upon a small clearing. Within it were the corpses of a Yuuzhan Vong patrol, all dead with arrows sticking out of joints in their crab-shell armor. Maligo pinged the new Aedile on his comlink.
"Tirano, Phyle has just come upon a massacred Vong patrol in a clearing. By the looks of the bodies they were ambushed by a group of well-trained but primitively equipped rebel group, or some native group we've never heard of. The bodies were all pierced by arrows, and most of their gear has been scavenged."
Draco heard the new Aedile sigh. "Right. Keep going to the rendezvous point, and I'll drop the rest of the clan a line to watch out for ambushes."
The comlink clicked off.
The Sith Commander looked up at his battleteam. "What the hell are you standin' around for? Move!"
The team jerked into activity. As Fajhal set out, Maligo called to him, "Fajhal, you're staying close to me. I don't want you to fall behind and get lost in the undergrowth." Fajhal gratefully slowed down to let the Commander get up alongside him.
"Are you sure you're ready for this, Trooper?" Maligo said as they jogged. "This is your first field assignment."
"I'm ready sir."
"Sashar thinks you'll do fine."
"I hope I do sir. I hope I do."
DOCKING BAY 19, SHAFT 301 SPACE-PORT, SUBTERREL.
The warning had come through the silent network of spies Dash kept in shaft 301, a simple message designed for maximum time to respond, to escape: Liria compromised, code black. Black meant Special Forces, and that was heat Dash wasn’t going to risk taking on for anyone, not even Liria. It would be unfortunate to lose her, she was certainly entertaining, but such was the life he led.
He shifted his sight slightly and brushed a wisp of black hair from his blue eyes as he watched the docking area through the scope of his favourite blaster pistol. There was a ship he had never seen alright, but it appeared unguarded. Unusual, he thought, but fortuitous. As he was about to make the sprint to the dark ship across the yard, he noticed a glimpse of white behind some crates to the left. Freezing he watched as, sure enough, a large white armoured figure appeared and moved towards the ship, one hand to his ear. He looked around for a moment until his gaze came to rest right on Dash’s spot in the shadows, before he made a gesture, almost as if he were beckoning the young bounty hunter out.
Dash walked slowly, drawing his second blaster as he did. So this was it, the best the Hutt lords could throw at him in reprisal for the amount of their kin he had left dead over the last few years. At twenty-one he could claim more bounties than most, but such infamy could not last without attracting the wrong kind of attention.
The young man approached the white monster in front of him calmly, signalling with his pistols raised as was his way with in the gun kata that made him famous. Oddly enough the man before him returned the gesture with his own side-arm and knife before both combatants exploded into action. Dash leapt sideways, his arms already extended to a position that would give him maximum firing arcs against his foe as energy spewed from the nozzles of his guns. His opponent was faster however, and the nimble bounty hunter was forced to change course as the white soldier fired rapidly at him, landing on his back with his arms still switching through the precise motions of the Kata, seeking the best angle to use on his opponent. After he had released another volley of rapid laser blasts he stopped, ready for the inevitable reprisal that never came.
He stared into the haze of smoke from the scorched ground as his eyes darted rapidly around. When there was no sign of his opponent he got up cautiously, guns still moving mechanically to give him as much cover as possible. Moving through the carbon-smoke he barely had time to leap out of the way as his assailant’s knife flew out at him. Spinning back Dash brought his pistols to bear only to find his opponent had beaten him to it, the nozzle of his blaster pointed at the bounty hunter’s head. With speed borne from the extensive gun kata training he slapped the pistol away with one of his own, while simultaneously bringing his second up to fire at the white armoured man. The other was too fast however, and just as Dash’s pistol reached its firing position, a large fist slammed into his gut, lifting him bodily into the air, and dumping him on his back winded, his pistols lying out of reach.
Gasping for air, the young bounty hunter rolled away from his advancing opponent, realising his one last chance for escape. Lying still for a moment he waited till the commando was only a few steps away before pulling his spare gun from the inside of his tunic, and firing into the large man’s chest. Not stopping to see the result, Dash Kuatir ran harder than he had ever run before.
With his sabre ignited, Illian approached the spot where Tavis was picking himself up, smoke rising from a scorch mark on his chest. The larger man looked down at his commander and Illian could sense the rage within him.
‘Permission to go after him sir?’
‘Permission denied Din Orden. Vos has been busy while you had your nap, and that homing beacon young Kuatir is now carrying aboard his ship should lead us straight to our next target on the Bingo List: Our bounty hunter’s familiar, the Nagai Skott. Bring the girl, she may yet be useful.’ With that the dark Jedi swept towards the Retribution.
Behind him his two Ghosts escorted Liria still wrapped in her sheet and Illian’s cloak, her eyes wide with terror, after their insane leader.
BOUNTY HUNTER VESSEL, PARIAH, GEONOSIS SPACE PORT.
The Nagai’s breaths came in short bursts as he pressed himself against the bulkhead, sweat dripping gently down his face, the brutally curved throwing knives held a little too tightly in his clammy palms making his knuckles white. Skott closed his eyes, and cursed silently. This time Dash had really brought the heat, and the Nagai began to realise they may not get out of this one.
He strained his ears, trying to hear the tell-tale light foot-falls of his assailant over the low thrumming sound of the Pariah’s main engines attempting to override the tractor beam that had caught him and Dash minutes after landing on Geonosis. The jet-black vessel had appeared out of nowhere and had trapped them before a shot had been fired. Then the ghost-soldiers had appeared, cloaked in white and wielding high-tech rifles with deadly precision. Skott’s ten mercenary crew-members had been taken down in minutes, and now only he and Dash remained. The Nagai knew how to deal with guns, but his opponent in the tight confines of the Pariah was something else. Smaller than the other commandos, he moved with lightening speed, wielding wicked black gauntlets that Skott had seen disembowel a man in seconds.
Taking a deep breath the Genoharadan Agent dared a look around the corner, and nearly fell backwards as he caught a glimpse of his opponent standing stock still only meters away. Panic began to set in as he pulled his head back behind the bulkhead, his breathing even quicker than before as he waited for one of those jagged claws to end his life. Several minutes past and Skott found he was still alive. Suddenly a new possibility dawned on him, one that made a small smile form on his lips. He had the jump on the white-armoured fiend.
Illian stood as still as possible, his eyes shut as he listened to the pathetic Nagai heavy breathing. He could sense the fear in his prey and if it wasn’t for the fact that the alien was on the Bingo List, the Dark Jedi Knight would relish in the blood that would usually come next. Instead he gripped the dart laced with tranquilizers tighter and waited for Kuatir’s little playmate to make his move.
In a sudden blur of motion the Nagai leapt out of his hiding place, sending five silver blades flying at the Knight. Torment flared up, disintegrating three of the projectiles in crimson fire and bathing the corridor in red, while the other two knives found thin air as the nimble Jedi moved in a criss-cross pattern up the corridor. Skott was taken off guard as Illian released his own dart straight into the agent’s chest from only a few feet away. Before he had even hit the ground the Ghost Commander was on him, one black claw around his neck while the other held a deactivated Torment to his temple, and Skott found himself staring into emotionless blue pools set deep within a ghostly white mask.
‘Welcome to the team, Assassin…’ The words seemed to come from miles away as the toxins in Skott’s blood began to take effect. ‘But before that you’re going to help us locate Alexander, your half brother I believe.’ The Nagai tried to fight the drugs but it was too late, his vision slipping into darkness.
Syn dropped his charge to the floor and places one metal finger to his ear, activating his communicator.
‘Ghost Lead to Ghost One, I have the Nagai. What is the status on Kuatir?’
‘Apprehended and being transported to the Retribution sir. What about the Pariah?’ Vos’ baritone came through Illian’s ear piece.
‘Mark it for Salvage and leave it, I will send a pilot back for it later. It will make a nice addition to the armada. Prep the Retribution; I will be there in moments.’ Illian picked up the Nagai, and made his way through the Pariah and back to his ship. Right now his clan mates were beginning their attack on Selen, and soon he would be joining them, his Ghosts getting their first taste of Vong blood. The insane Jedi pushed such pleasing thoughts from his mind, focussing on the task at hand. One more member and his team would be ready for deployment, the new face of terror for any enemy of Arcona: the Ghosts.
The eight dark Jedi of Prophecy Phyle trudged through the stinking, cloying jungle headed for their rendezvous. Selen had always felt like a part of the battle team’s home, but now with the Vong emplaced, and their symbiots growing aggressively and crowding out the native flora it felt alien, different. And to Draco, at least, it was a pity that the Vong were outside the Force, as their attitude was very dark. They would have made excellent dark Jedi.
Movement was, by necessity, ponderous. The Vong had numerous creatures specially developed to warn of intruders, not all of which were necessarily known by the beings of this galaxy. So the battle team picked their way forward, searching technologically for the enemy rather than through the Force, but listening intently to their danger senses for any hint of trouble.
And trouble there was. Heat signatures from the infrared sensors suggested that there were a dozen Vong headed their way. Probably to investigate the recent massacre there, Maligo thought. The Dark Jedi Knight wasn’t one to turn and run, but Prophecy Phyle was outnumbered, and had several younger members who weren’t blooded yet. The Tetrarch looked over at Fajhal, a promising new member.
The recently promoted Protector was the apprentice to the Proconsul, and Draco knew that if anything happened to him there would be hell to pay. And if they didn’t kill their foes quickly, a warning could get back to the rest of the YV, destroying the covert recon that was their mission.
This was the burden of command. Plans suffer from the friction of real world activities, sometimes at the instant of application. Split second decisions need to be made, with consequences far beyond the fate of a single being. Draco closed his eyes for a moment and listened to the Force. He didn’t hear a reply, just a sensation that felt like combat.
With a series of hand gestures he directed the battle team to divide in two and move into hammer/anvil position astride the Vong’s projected movement path while gripping the hilt of his lightsaber. Now he would see how well the training of his team paid off as the first Vong warrior lumbered out of the murky mist and into sight.
LIGHT FREIGHTER, PAI’KORDA, ORBITING LOK.
The tall slim Nagai looked at his communicator again, reading the message his half-brother Skott had sent him, running a pale hand through his thick raven hair. “Rendezvous at Lok in twenty-four hours, new package for delivery –S” was all it had read, and that was fine as all the right codes were used. Package inferred another job from the Genoharadan, and delivery meant Skott had the details with him and needed to brief Alexander in person. What didn’t make any sense was the location; Lok had never been on their list of meeting places before, and a lifetime of crime on Naa Shadaaa had made the Nagai deeply suspicious of deviations from routine. His life depended on it.
Turning to the human navigator Alexander barked a few quick orders.
‘Extend the sensor range. Tell me the minute the Pariah enters within range. Something smells off with this, Sona. Stay alert.’ He patted the girl on the back for emphasis before returning to his vigil of the stars that littered the edge of Lok’s atmospheric line, an otherwise beautiful sight no matter what system Alexander found himself in, if only it weren’t for the uneasy feeling in his gut. He looked at the message again, his unusual purple eyes narrowed as he looked for the hidden message, the part of this whole setup he had missed.
‘Alex, a ship has just jumped in just above Lok’s atmosphere! Its hyper-drive must have been damaged to attempt a jump that close to the planet!’ The Nagai criminal looked up sharply at the sound of Sona’s voice.
‘ID it immediately! Is it the Pariah?’ Despite his best attempts his voice was filled with worry. If his brother’s ship was down, the contract and the credits he would gain from it may have been jeopardized as well.
‘I can’t tell sir, the solar glare coming off the planet is preventing visual ID, and there seems to be a problem with their communications, I can see they’re trying to send Ident-codes but the transmission is scrambled!’
For a moment Alex stared at the shape coming towards them from the bright light cast off Lok from the sun coming around from behind it; from this range it could be the Pariah but something was wrong. The Nagai’s eyes grew wide as he caught a glimpse of jet-black through the glare.
‘Pilot, get us the hell out of here NOW!’ he shouted at the Trandoshan pilot, racing towards his own secondary pilot chair.
‘Impossible. Caught in some kind of tractor-beam. Engines failing. Cannot escape.’ The Trandoshan growled as it pulled out its blaster. ‘We fight now.’ Alex tested his own controls and realised it was true.
‘Right. Sona, Drethden, arm up and use the smuggler ports so we can ambush these bastards. GO!’ his two companions sprung into action, sprinting down the corridors to their designated hide-spots. Alexander stopped for a moment to look again at the now-visible black vessel bearing down on the Pai’Korda. ‘What have you brought me Brother?’
RET successfully docked the Retribution with the slightly larger Freighter, and now Illian stood with Vos and Tavis at his ship’s small airlock as the former burnt away at the hull of the Pai’Korda with a carbon torch. With a thump the section of the ship fell away and at a hand signal from Illian, the two commandos were inside. The dark Jedi waited a moment before following; his team were proficient enough to perform without his direct leadership, as the Ghosts were intended, and they would often flush hidden prey out of hiding and straight into the deranged Dark-sider’s ever-hungry gauntlets.
The sound of small arms fire drew Illian towards the cargo bay of the Correllian Freighter, moving like a whisp of smoke across the deck. Up ahead he could see Vos firing around the corner of a doorway and placing a finger to his ear as he ran he gave the Ghost Sergeant his orders.
‘Ghost One, suppression fire on my mark. Three, two, one, NOW!’ Vos was already in position, laying down a hail of fire, as Illian passed him with his gauntlets spread wide. Exploding through the portal, his optic sensors reading two life-forms in the small storage bay, the Ghost Commander rolled across the floor to the cover of a pile of crates. The first contact was just ahead, firing out of a compartment in the floor, and drawing the force into his body, Illian leapt off the floor. He flipped over the crates landing inches away from a shocked woman’s head as it poked out of her make-shift fox hole. Her surprise was short lived, a crimson spray across the metal floor signalling her inevitable end.
A surge in the force sent Illian spinning around as the woman’s comrade fired a salvo of laser fire at the Jedi. Diving sideways into another stack of crates, Illian signalled to Vos with a raised fist. The sergeant nodded, and in seconds Vos had triangulated the second contact before it could switch targets, firing twice. Looking out from behind the crates Illian saw a Trandoshan fall out of a wall compartment.
‘Ghost Lead to Ghost two, two tangos down. Report?’
‘Ghost Two to Lead, negative on third Bingo. Target deceased.’ Tavis’ tone was flat, but Illian knew he would be enraged. Failure had become nearly unbearable to the brute, an unusual side-effect of the re-conditioning. Cursing lightly Illian signalled Vos to return to the Retribution.
‘Fine Two. Place the charges and get back to the ship. Out.’ Sashar had warned him that accepting the failure of his underlings was an essential part of leadership, but Illian disagreed. Tavis would be spending time learning the price of failure in the Ghost under the patient tutelage of the insane Jedi, but for now they had to get back the Nihilus and prepare the two new additions to the team for combat.
Selen was closer than ever, and as Illian tore the eyes out of the two criminals in the storage bay he began to plan his next move. Activating a special device in his mask he sent a coded transmission that would be readable only by his Mandalorian Superior.
‘Sashar, two of three bingos apprehended, the third is terminal. We are now preparing for deployment within forty-eight hours. Requesting rendezvous co-ordinates and deployment orders: The Ghost Cell is now active. Ghost Lead out.’
The eight beings of Prophecy Phyle leapt into action as though one at an unspoken command through the Force. Lightsabers of various colors sprang to life while their dark Jedi masters jumped across meters of jungle floor from their concealment. Those battle team members who didn’t wield the blade provided covering fire from the sides. The cacophony of battle drowned the normal sounds of the planet’s fauna. Sabers hummed, blaster bolts zinged, and the surprised Vong chimed in with yells of “Jeedai!” and “Do’rik Vong Pratte!”
But the YV responded quickly, as befitting veterans of war. Amphistaffs uncoiled and stiffened, warriors dropped into combat stances, and bandoleers of thud and razor bugs were emptied, the buzzing of the hardened beetles adding bass to the symphony of war. After a few moments, screams of pain from the wounded and dying filled the air. Though the Vong wore their ubiquitous Vonduun crab armor, the members of the Dark Brotherhood knew the weaknesses of both Vong combat tactics and their armored cocoons.
Vong limbs were sliced at the weak points of the encasing crab shell, their thick black blood oozing to the ground to provide a nourishing meal for the jungle plant life, and heads were skewered and severed. Bugs were zapped into small clouds of gore and chitin by lightsaber blades.
Though intense, the combat lasted but minutes. All dozen alien warriors lay dead and dismembered, their biots either destroyed or slithering off into the jungle. Three members of Prophecy Phyle were dead, poisoned by amphistaff fang or stabbed by rigid pointed tail.
“Kriffers.” Draco spat as he surveyed the carnage. Although his team fought well in obliterating the Vong patrol as quickly as they did, still the price was high. “Get a holo of the enemy. Looks from their scarring like they were experienced fighters. And strip the gear from our beings, quickly. We need to get moving."
ASF NIHILUS, DROP MINUS 24 HOURS
The lights flickered on in the small training cell revealing Dash Kuatir standing with his arms down by his sides holding two WMC Enforcer pistols, the red glow from their muzzles only just beginning to subside as smoke coiled up around the young man’s wrists. Humanoid-shaped targets stood around the room, each with a single hole in its head or chest area, the results of the ex-bounty hunter’s latest black-out Kata test.
Illian looked on from a platform above the room, gazing down through the transparent ceiling at one of his latest achievements. As always Vos stood impassively to the side, legs spread at shoulder width and hands clasped behind his back.
‘He hasn’t lost any of his gun skills, but is he ready for deployment?’ the mad Knight mused.
‘I don’t believe so sir. His ability within the gun Kata is still unparalleled but…’ The Ghost Sergeant trailed off uneasily as his commander’s neon eyes fell on him.
‘Why Vos, are you offering an opinion without permission?’ Illian teased, smiling cruelly as the dark-skinned man stone-walled, coming rigidly to attention.
‘No sir! I did not mean…’ Illian sighed and held up a black fist.
‘Yes Vos I know. Now continue your appraisal.’
‘Sir, Kuatir has very limited training within a squad. His methods are not conducive to squad tactics, sir!’ Vos stared straight ahead as Illian mulled over his words. When the Sergeant’s mind was first altered, Sashar had discovered a neural pattern usually associated with tacticians and strategists, and had decided to experiment. The result meant Vos was the most tactically sound member of the cell, and his advice was to be heavily weighted.
‘Very well. Re-training is not an option, so put him on rifle training until we are ready for deployment. I want him competent with medium fire-arms before we hit Selen. How is the Nagai Skott performing?’
‘Fine sir. He has proved proficient with the AXM-50 and has further advanced his skills using the locust knife configuration. He is ready.’
‘Good. Be sure they are on full alert for the next twenty-four hours. Sashar will have orders for us soon. Dismissed.’ Vos saluted and took his leave, while Illian watched as the targets re-set and the lights went out again. Soon flashes began to light up at rapid intervals, signalling Kuatir’s re-commencement of his training.
PLANET SELEN, ARCONAN LANDING PLUS 2 HOURS
Sashar Erinos stopped as he was advancing through the symbiont ridden undergrowth, one gloved hand going reflexively to the side of his helmet. Major Malay held up a hand to stop the rest of the procession before looking at his superior questioningly.
‘Sir?’ The Major queried as Sashar remained perfectly still. Beneath his helmet a tight smile began to form.
‘It seems like we are going to have some extra players very soon,’ he murmured as Illian’s transmission played through. Activating his own communicator, he sent a coded message back to his protégé. ‘Crypt Keeper to Ghost Lead, acknowledge active status. Sending rendezvous co-ordinates now. Don’t be late; I have a feeling this party is going to get very lively. And Ghost lead, congratulations. Crypt-Keeper out.’ The Mandalorian spared a brief moment to contemplate what state the Ghosts would be in when they made it to Selen; leaving them in Syn’s hands was either a stroke of genius or one of the biggest mistakes the Prelate had made. In twenty-four hours he would know.
Signalling to the Major, he got underway again, his mind focussed back on the task at hand.
Fajhal bit back tears as he and the remaining members of Prophecy Phyle jogged through the undergrowth. One of the men who had died had been his friend, but he couldn't stop or show any weakness. A shiver ran down his spine. That scrap had been the first time he'd ever seen real combat. He'd killed a Vong captain up close with his new armoury lightsaber.
The new Protector was lost in thought, reminiscing about his first kill, when his comlink pinged, jerking him out of the daydream. Draco had signalled them, for they had come upon the clearing at 32-15-22 that was to be the rendezvous point with the Aedile. He wasn't there. Maligo checked his comlink channel but got nothing. He told Fajhal to get his master on the com.
The squib nodded then accessed his wrist mic.
"Sash'buir, I'm here at 32-15-22 with the rest of Prophecy Phyle. Tirano isn't here, and he isn't answering his comlink."
"Hmm. He may be in trouble. Wait no more than 60 minutes, then proceed with your objectives if he hasn't shown up."
"Yes sir." Fajhal severed the link, then said to the battleteam leader, "Sashar says we should wait an hour then go on if he hasn't shown up."
Draco grumbled but consented. So the Phyle settled down to wait.
55 minutes passed. The battleteam started packing up, assuming the worst, when Primarch Quejo signaled that he noticed something. The team focused their infrared where he was indicating and saw what looked like a battle going on in the jungle. The hauled up their gear and set off towards it. As they neared the battle they saw flashes of a purple blade flying through the jungle. They sensed a Dark Jedi in heated battle with apparently nothing, and hurried forward to help. They found a young human slaughtering yet another patrol of Yuuzhan Vong and rushed into the fray. After the fighting ceased six aliens lay dead, blood soaking into the ground. Then the stranger looked up at his rescuers and said, "Thanks for the save. I'm the new Aedile. Tirano Yamayura, at your service. Sashar said I was to accompany you, and that you would brief me. Tetrarch, why don't you start?"
The new Aedile of Qel-Droma was a human, average sized, and clad in black armor, his saber now shut down as he was clipping it onto his utility belt. He had dark hair and eyes, and wore a medallion of a jewel with an ancient Krath symbol around his neck.
“Our objective is a simple recon, unless the Consul has another plan that he is keeping to himself. Which is always an option with him. We are to scout in and around Estle city and to assess the Vong occupation forces and their military capabilities, and contact our guerrilla organizations to see which ones are still active and capable of action,” Maligo said.
Tirano chuckled. “You don’t trust Mejas?”
The Tetrarch paused before answering. “I trust no one. And Mejas is a ruthless Sith. I am here to serve my house and my clan, but I am not a fool. I will follow my orders, and when and if they change I will not be surprised.”
“I sensed some combat. Report.”
“We encountered a YV patrol and ambushed them. All twelve Vong are dead, along with three of my team.”
“That’s quite an attrition rate. I hope you can justify your actions.”
“I listened to the Force,” Draco said. “And I trust my feelings. The Vong were investigating another massacre near our position, and I don’t think we could have hid in the jungle and gone undetected. The enemy would have combed the area, and since we launched an ambush I believe the results were the best we could have attained given the situation we found ourselves in.”
The Aedile nodded. “We should be off. Daylight will come in another six hours, and I prefer to conduct our business in the dark. Deploy your team and proceed.”
The Dark Jedi Knight gave the orders, and the six beings remaining fanned out into the thinning jungle as they approached the capital city of Estle.
SELEN, DAJORRA SYSTEM, DROP MINUS THIRTY SECONDS
The sleek black ship glided noiselessly through the vacuum of space, its active camouflage mirroring the stars, making it seem near invisible. It cruised just above the bluish haze of Selen’s atmosphere, looking for all intents and purposes like a black meteor as it neared its destination.
Without warning six smaller shapes disengaged from the ship’s body, floating above the planet for a moment before sparks of fire exploded from the back of them, sending them hurtling through the atmosphere like little spikes of light soaring towards the surface of the occupied world.
VALOUR’S FALL, LOW PROFILE ORBIT OF SELEN
‘Sir, contacts on the sensors!’ The comment came from a young communications officer on the bridge of the Arconan Frigate, dragging Yamato away from his monitoring of the transmissions de-crypting from resistance and ground forces down below.
‘Report lieutenant,’ he ordered briskly.
‘Six contacts on the solar-north side of the planet… wait... sorry sir, it appears to be nothing.’ The officer sounded uncertain, forcing Yamato to fight down a sharp rebuke, remembering that his crew was young and under a great deal of stress.
‘What do you mean nothing?’
‘I’m sorry sir. Our sensors went dead for a moment and now there’s nothing. It must have been a reading malfunction.’
‘Fine, make a note of it. I want a full diagnostic report when we return to the fleet. As you were Lieutenant.’ Yamato looked out of the view port of the Valour’s Fall, staring at the spot where the contacts had appeared. Space debris often played havoc on a ship’s sensors, especially in orbit this close to Selen, but the Captain’s instincts told him there was more to this than an equipment error.
Pushing all concerns to the back of his mind, Yamato returned to the more important task of monitoring his masters’ progress and being ready to assist if necessary.
SELEN, GROUND-OPERATION, FIFTEEN CLICKS FROM GALERES RENDEZVOUS
Sashar cursed again as he glanced over the geographical information scrolling down his visor. He, Malay, and Vorion had encountered heavy Vong patrols only a few hours after setting out from the drop-pod, forcing them to veer well off course. They were now at least a day from the rest of the house, and he knew his clan-mates would not wait for long.
A sound in the clearing ahead had Malay advancing behind the seasoned Prelate, the Ubese Hunter taking up the rear-guard. Sashar’s rifle, an extension of his own eyes and arms, traced the area in front of him as he sought out any potential targets. The momentary thrill of impending combat gave way to the cool calculated flow of training and instinct, a state far too familiar to the veteran Mandalorian. The jungle around him was beginning to get lighter as dawn approached Selen and the optics in the Prelate’s visor began to reduce its night-enhancements, bathing the surrounding landscape in a surreal glow.
As he moved slowly forward his senses reached out through the force instinctively, unexpectedly finding a strong signal ahead. Sashar held up a fist, signalling the other two to hold as he tried to get an identity on the other force-presence. The astral noise of all the living things around him made it hard however; such a vibrant environment as Selen’s meant a myriad of fauna, each signalling there own existence in the force.
The Prelate’s eyes narrowed, wishing he had the benefit of Soulfire’s Meld to aid his probe, and then he realised his mistake. Selen’s wildlife wasn’t *that* vibrant, and several of the surrounding life-forms were advancing slowly. A sharp side-ways slash with his hand sent Malay diving into the ground, dragging Vorion with him, as Sashar dove forward and trained his rifle on the jungle ahead.
*Ghost Lead to Crypt-Keeper, the dead have risen on Selen. Awaiting orders.*
The familiar silken tones of Sashar’s old student echoed through his mind, as ahead a slim white-armoured figure emerged. Getting up slowly he approached Illian, his hand outstretched. The young Knight clasped it solidly.
‘Impressive. Your tactics?’
‘No Lord Pro-Consul, Vos’. The Ghosts are at your disposal.’ Illian made a complicated hand gesture, and out of the underbrush around them emerged five more white figures holding AXM-50 Rifles trained on the Arconans. Another series of gestures from their Obelisk Commander and they formed a perimeter around Sashar’s team, awaiting further orders.
Selen: Blue Mist nearing House Point
Talos, leading Blue Mist, zipped through the countryside, the remaining members of his Team behind him. A high rock appeared ahead and making a gesture, Blue Mist activated their boosters and rose up onto the rock, then using it as a ramp, shot off it and into the night. Landing back down on the ground, Talos ducked as a large branch and raised a hand signal a second to late, for Raith, brining up the rear, thwacked into the branch, making a horribly loud sound in the night. Whispering quickly into the helmet comm, he ordered all of his men to shut down their bikes.
Yuuzhan Vong Patrol
A Yuuzhan Vong commander, pacing through the night of the countryside, raised his spiny head as he heard a loud sound. Motioning to the rest of his squad, he pulled his amphistaff out and stiffened it. He cut through the underbrush and then pushed his men to the ground. There, about a foot away were seven Dark Jedi. Forgoing all stealth appraoches, the YV uttered gutteral screams and leapt at the Jedi.
Talos and his men saw the seven figures of the YV patrol and he leapt off his speeder, bringing Jai'galaar to bear, the yellow blade cutting through the night. He rushed and motioned for his troopers to do the same, fans of red, blue and green appearing and swinging towards the Vong. Talos backflipped over the commander and angled his yellow blade into the crack in the Crab-Sheel armor. The YV commander screamed and exposed his vunerable right flank, and Talos, without hesitation brought his blade through the neck armor and beheading the commander. To his right, JS had leapt on a YV soilder and drove his blade straight through his head. Legorii, Soulflayer just a fan of green light, took off a Vong's arm, then brought it through its neck. Dathka and Raith, their Armoury Sabers of red and blue, killed another Vong as Talos moved onto another Vong and JS and Legorii teamed up on the very last.
10 minutes later, the Blue Mist Battleteam had finished dragging the bodies of the Yuuzhan Vong into the underbrush and shot off into the nights void once more. Whispering to himself, Talos said "Kriff! Vong and we haven't even reached the Galeres Point. It's going to be a long mission".
The battle team emerged from the anonymous gloom of the jungle and into the vastly more dangerous grasslands and fields surrounding the city. No moon shone, but the dark Jedi still had shadowy silhouettes that contrasted with the amorphous mass of the plant life left behind. After a thorough sensor scan, which showed no humanoid presence between the team and the town, the six Brotherhood members ran across the open terrain and into the outskirts of Estle.
“I don’t like this,” said Tirano.
Draco nodded. “I don’t sense any life forms, either. Probably enslaved or sacrificed.”
“Perhaps they’re in the resistance and living in the jungle to avoid the Vong?”
“No doubt some are, but the Selenians are peaceful, for the most part. Not all of them would be gone like this. When are we supposed to rendezvous with Mejas?” asked Maligo.
“Not for another fourteen standard hours. We should proceed with our mission until daylight, then hole up somewhere,” said the Aedile.
The team proceeded through the outer circumference of the city for the next several hours, noting the locations of Vong domiciles, always placed in the fields away from the squared-off buildings, and made of some kind of immense mollusk shells. While on their rounds the team placed sensors and holocams in the vicinity, disguised to prevent the technophobic Vong from destroying them.
When the dawn’s fragile light began streaking its way up the black velvet sky, Prophecy Phyle hunkered down in an abandoned housing complex and hooked up its holonet system to receive signals from the newly placed cameras. The tired members alternately slept, ate pre-packaged rations, and watched the stirring Vong squatters begin their day.
OOC: Good to be back guys. Woot. Time for me to join in the fun
As Blue Mist was back on their path to the rendevous point, Dorn decided to try and find the empty voids the Vong made in the Force. Lucky for the Vong, he was to inexperienced to do so. He came back and noticed, in his periphreal vision, a second group of Vong. They hadn't noticed them so he didn't say anything until he noticed Talos pull out his Verpine pistol and motion for everyone to stop and take aim. Due to it's scope Dorn loved the N'Gant Carbine. The silencer added to his enjoyment of it.
They all had one to aim at. Caedes told them all in a message the Vong couldn't hear, the Force, now. Each of them shot, all but one died and trying to get away, he didn't get far as everyone on Blue Mist got one shot on him before he fell.
Dorn was becoming fatigued from the last two weeks of business within and outside of Arcona and the Brotherhood. Caedes noticed and knew they had to be swift, he patted Dorn on the back telling him he noticed the fatigue. He was trying to keep him going.
Guys let's get going again, hopefully without interruption. Caedes told them in the Force, so as to cause as small amount of noise as possible.
They were riding again and Dorn started fading into a meditation without wanting. Coming back quickly when his family came to mind. These Vong had ruined his homeplanet and it's inhabitants. He didn't feel fatigued anymore, een though it was still there.
“Proconsul, up there.” Illian pointed up to a craggy plateau that overlooked a lot of the countryside, while not being so high as to attract attention.
“Looks good, you still got the relay?” Sashar asked the Major as he clambered over a jutting boulder and glanced back to make sure Malay, Vorion and the first Ghost Cell was keeping up with him.
“Ready, sir. Hey, wait-“ he glanced to his right, tapping the side of his helmet to adjust the visual settings of the visor. Sashar narrowed his eyes in the direction Malay was looking, stretching out with the force. He easily recognised the minds of Soulfire Strike Team.
“Come on out, Sergeant.” He called, grinning inwardly. Only Arcona’s best could get the drop on him like that.
“You were parading through the area with all the grace of a gutshot rancor, ner’vod.” Kieran said by way of greeting. Sashar moved forward and raised his rifle, grasping his brother’s forearm.
“Kier’ika, Rho, meet Vorion. He’s the new Aedile.” Sashar said to the pair of new arrivals.
Rho nodded his welcome, already having spoken to Vorion over the holonet prior to his appointment – they’d get a chance to settle in properly later on. The Mandalorian grunted in response, briefly looking over the Vonduum Crab Armour and features just exotic enough to be identified as not human before tilting his head slightly, pressing one hand to his ear.
“Juda and Xar are inbound.” He said, glancing up to where Major Malay and half of the Ghost Cell were currently scrabbling up the ledge to the plateau.
“Good. Let’s get some defensive positions set up. Rho, you up for a climb?” Sashar asked, turning to the Nagai.
“Always. I’m on spotting duty?”
“Take down anything that looks overly spiky.” Sashar replied, grinning. Rho nodded and immediately set off for the large cliff overlooking the plateau and the surrounding area. It was a perfect sniping position.
The next hour was spent with various members of the TAM team and Soulfire trickling into the camp in ones and twos – however, to call it a camp was an exaggeration. The Plateau was itself untouched, however around its perimeter a defensive line was erected from the natural flora and fauna. Fallen tree branches and logs were disguised with an array of foliage whilst Malidir Erinos erected an E-Web repeating blaster he’d dragged for over eight kilometres from his drop pod.
Xar had joined Rho atop the cliff and now the pair formed a sniper unit (Rho shooting and Xar’kahn spotting) whilst the pair of Light Infantry troopers Sashar had selected to come along formed another team almost a kilometre away, nestled amongst some foliage halfway up a hillock. Naturally, their Ghillie suits prevented them from being spotted even if the Vong were less than a meter away.
On the plateau itself a small tent had been erected to serve as a temporary headquarters for the recon effort. Several crates retrieved from the drop sites were scattered about the place and various pieces of technology were being assembled. Major Helder Kemp was briefing Sashar on his estimates of likely locations for resistance camps when there was a distant thrum. The Mandalorian’s head snapped up, but paused when he identified the sound as repulsorlift engines.
“That’ll be Blue Mist. Vorion, why don’t you go and introduce yourself?”
“You should be more cautious about being caught out here, it’s not exactly a safe place to be ambushed.”
Zandro, Mejas and their group moved out from the foliage to meet Prophecy Phyle and their group and the anger that was cast towards the Vong and what they had done to the Arconan world was palpable, even to those who couldn’t use the Force.
They will pay for this, just not yet.
Zandro noticed one or two new faces amongst the assembled Jedi but he pushed the thoughts to the back of his mind as Mejas stepped forward to take centre stage in the group.
“We have a target. I have felt a large amount of suffering coming from a nearby area which I believe has been turned into a slave camp. We are going to ambush this camp, free the slaves and destroy any Vong forces there. No one will be spared, they will all die.”
Zandro reached towards his charge with the force, a query about the new arrivals finally forced itself upon his psyche.
Who are these new ones?
The new house summit. All will be revealed later, but for now concentrate and the more immediate threat posed by this slave camp.
Zandro was struck speechless by the revelation. He had suspected, but not this soon and not without forewarning. He pushed the thoughts to the back of his mind and almost felt pity for the Vong who would soon face him at the slave camp.
Pity is for the weak, I will use this anger to show the Vong that they cannot steal from Arcona.
“Now, we go and show these Vong what it feels like to be a victim to Arcona’s wrath. To the slave camp!”
Blue Mist started to come upon the rendevous coordinates and saw some Arconans already there. Dorn saw some of Soulfire and knew that some must either be out of his sight or in camo. The Rodian saw an unfamiliar face and so had the rest of the team.
The man came up to him when they had finally stopped and gotten off their speeders. "My name is Vorion for those who don't know. I am the newly appointed Aedile of Galeres." He said saluting them. Each member of Blue Mist returning the favor.
Dorn now noticed why he didn't see most of Soulfire. They were hidden, smart moves he pulled out his N'Gant Carbine and put the scope on, the silencer already on. He found a good spot and rested on a tree with the gun held in a ready position for quick use.
It had been a while when he heard rustling in the bushes. He tensed, he tried to sense it, nothing. It had to be Vong, but how many? He tried again, this time he felt an odd tremor. Someone had to be with the Vong, or he sensed wrong the first time. He looked and noticed Rho for the first time. Rho held up four fingers, either he was saying there are four or turnthe communicator to four. He turned his comm to four just in case.
"Dorn, if you read me, nod." Rho told him. He nodded for confirmation. "There are five Vong with what looks like prisoners."
Xar came in this time. "Dorn, pull out your armory saber, when we say activate. We have Blue Mist behind them and the rest in front. They won't live much longer."
Dorn put the gun away as quietly as he could and got the lghtsaber out. Not like the one he has ready for Knighthood but he can use this one. He heard a scream, then a thud as a body hit the ground.
Dorn activated the saber and saw Blue Mist, Soulfire, and the TAM team unloading on them or in close combat with them. Dorn got into the melee and noticed it was a ploy by the Vong when 10 more of them showed up, amphistaff and all. Luckily opposite all the Arconan fighters. Dorn got hit hard by an amphistaff and fell. The Vong responsible leaned over him and put the snakelike end in his face, hit hard cracking the visor and venom spit out of the staff and into the cracks of the visor.
Talos came in and got the Vong and noticed the venom seeping in the cracks. "Dorn you alright?" He asked parrying an attack by a Vong.
"Yeah, for now." Dorn got up and helped Talos get the next Vong. Only 4 left after such little time. He saw only one of them dead, two if the Vong got him good enough.
"Dammit, only one down, how did we do that?" Dorn asked with thrill. Noone but Talos had noticed the venom so far. Until now.
"Juda, can you cure the poison the amphistaff gives?" A few people asled at once.
"I am fine for now guys." Dorn told them. After he said that he got a serious stare that said 'Yeah, but you won't be.' from everyone. "Okay, okay."
Dorn took his helmet off in a small alcove of the plateau and let Juda check where it could've gone to in the body from where it entered.
"Only a little trace of it. Here, basic antidote for poisons known to this universe. Should hold it back long enough for an actual cure to be found." Juda told him. Dorn not liking needles soon got over that when he got pricked in the soft spot with the antidote.
"I'm going to stick with blaster combat against these guys for now." Dorn said, giving a chuckle. A few that were nearby and heard it gave a small chuckle as well. "Now what do we do from here?" Dorn added. He hadn't been entirely briefed, well he had gone into meditation during the debrieffing and only picked up bits and pieces following Talos along the way.
Galeres Rendezvous Point
Selen Countryside (Rinj'k Plateau)
1.5 Standard Hours until planetary midnight
Vorion advanced carefully through the dense underbrush, his helmet under one arm as he removed the thick, shimmering gloves he wore, extending a hand to halt the approaching Blue Mist operatives. The leader snapped his weapon level with the Ubese's chest, but the Jedi Hunter didn't flinch, his dreads swirling around his face as his dark features split into a smile.
"Good evening, gentlemen! Glad you made it. I am Vorion, Galeres Aedile. I'm going to have to ask you to step this way; there's a bit of a detour you'll need to take to avoid the little trap that I've set in place for the Vong patrols."
No sooner than he spoke, Talos and JS skidded to a halt, their finely-tuned faculties with the Force blaring like sirens through their consciousness. Vorion pointed out the safe path, moving with them as Blue Mist entered the camp proper. As Dathka brought up the rear, Vorion clasped Talos's wrist in greeting. "A pleasure, Commander."
"The pleasure is all mine, sir. What sort of defensive measure had you set in place back there? I only sensed it; I could see nothing." Talos asked curiously, his eyes roaming over the Aedile's Vonduun Skerr Kyrric, the living armor that encased his tall, broad-shouldered frame.
The Ubese's dark smile broadened as he carelessly tossed the plated gloves atop a large, empty durasteel spool. "Monofilament wire, Commander. Any Vong who attempts to slip under the notice of the security emplacements is in for a very unpleasant surprise; they'll be sliced to ribbons by the finest, razor-sharp wire in the known galaxy. Quite invisible to the naked eye."
"I quite hope you get to see it in action; it's quite effective. At any rate; let's get moving - the Proconsul awaits."
Unknown Vong Slave Camp
Zandro looked through the undergrowth to the artificial clearing the Vong had created to build their slave camp and suppressed a shudder of pity for the beings who were being held in the camp.
They will be free soon, be focused and that time will come even sooner.
He could sense the other members of the Qel-Droman attack group, with Mejas burning brightly in the Force like a beacon at the centre of the line. He was proud of the men and women he was with and hoped none of them would fall, but knew that death was an almost inescapable fact in operations such as this. He rolled his lightsaber in his palm as he waited for the signal from Mejas, itching to make a move at the Vong camp that lay not 100 metres from where he was crouched. He saw a Vong come out of one of the housing tents and stretch idly, obviously allowing himself a moment to come fully awake before he could begin breaking the prisoners spirits once more. Zandro gritted his teeth as he waited for the signal which finally came through the Force, Mejas’ spirit merging with each of his subordinates with one clear message.
Wipe the enemy out.
Zandro burst from the cover and saw that he was almost the leading person with a few non-descript troopers ahead of him. No lightsabers were ignited yet as the team attempted to keep as much stealth about them as possible before they finally ambushed the enemy. Zandro used the Force to allow himself a burst of speed and he closed the gap between himself and the only visible Vong almost instantaneously, leaping towards the enemy and landing full pelt on his opponent’s chest. His lightsaber ignited with a snap-hiss and the crimson blade plunged through the armpit of the enemy warrior, slicing through the gap in the armour that existed there and killing the Vong quickly, but not before the humanoid got out a yelp of pain, alerting any nearby Vong to the imminent danger.
Sliding the corpse off his blade, Zandro stood up and moved forwards once more, the Dark Jedi and their forces now without the element of surprise, but rage powered them and they descended upon the Vong camp like a deadly plague, ready to destroy anything in their path.
Prophecy Phyle’s Camp
“Draco, you’d better see this,” said Fajhal, who sat at the holomonitor watching the Vong occupied city.
The dark Jedi knight rubbed the sleep from his eyes as he scrambled up from his bedroll. Several holocams followed a group of warriors, tattooed and mutilated as all the YV were, but less so. That meant they were juniors, unseasoned in war as were their elder brethren. The guards herded a group of beings, drawn from different races and planets, and all implanted with the yorik coral implants which removed their free will and turned them into unthinking slaves.
The guards kicked them and slapped them with the flat side of their amphistaffs, careful not to seriously injure them. The large group of slaves were herded into an intersection where a cart pulled by several beasts of burden sat, the rough hewn wood box filled to the brim with blasters and swords. The slaves stepped up, armed themselves, and dispersed into the various buildings nearby.
“You’d better wake the team. I sense a great opportunity here,” Draco said. The Protector dashed off to accomplish his duty, while the Tetrarch watched the screen.
A cadre of Vong warriors, obviously more experienced than the guards, marched down the street. Their crab armor was scarred nearly as much as their masters were, and amphistaffs were coiled around the forearms of the soldiers. Several had small villips perched on their shoulders, indicating command rank. The leaders began dividing up their troops, squads of men being assigned to each building.
The members of Prophecy Phyle, along with the Aedile of House Qel-Droma, gathered.
“The Vong are conducting a training exercise, about a kilo from here. I know Mejas ordered us not to bring on a general battle, but since the YV are arming their slaves for a fight I believe we have the right to jump in and slaughter some scar heads.”
“I concur. We should dish out as much damage to them as we can, and use the cover of the training to disguise our presence from them,” Tirano said.
Draco smiled. “Then with your permission I’d like to deploy the team.”
Then Prophecy Phyle decamped from their hideaway and proceeded toward the wargames.
After looking closer Dorn had noticed why the Vong were defeated so quickly this past battle. Little wires arely visible even a foot away were put up. Now more visible with blood on them. He asked Talos about the wires.
"Vorion put them there. He suspected a close group of Vong sometime soon and ad those there. That's why we stopped kind of abruptly." The Sergeant told Dorn.
Dorn sat down on the ground again and grabbed a small piece of bread and ate it. Saving the rest for later. He decided to go into a meditation untl needed. Once he got into the meditation he woke up immeadiately. He had felt great suffering and horrible deaths. He already knew why and didn't go back to meditating.
It had been awhile since any gunshots were heard or a battle seen, too far away for them to help. Blue Mist had gathered in one place in a nice sized alcove to rest. Dorn looked around at everyone. Some he may never see again. Some might never see him again at that. Upon thinking that e felt a shudder down his back. Don't think negative now. We will be okay. We will make it. He had to tell himself that to hold back tears. His struggle was noticed. Noone asked why though, some of them were struggling to hold tears back as well.
Dorn laid down trying to keep quiet. Within seconds he was asleep.
Dorn woke up abruptly. He was bleeding and felt a bruise. He wasn't awake to take it all in. All he saw were two Vong warriors carrying him and some others to some odd place. He made a slight noise and oe of the two knockd him back out cold with part of their amphistaff.
Don't worry Dorn. Most of us are safe. You having a tracking signal on you. Someone was comforting him and he appreciated that and slipped out of contact through even the Force.
3 HOURS EARLIER, VONG SLAVE CAMP
Illian watched as Zandro engaged the first Vong Slaver with a bloodthirsty grin. Around him he felt his Ghosts surging with anticipation as they waited for his signal from their vantage point behind the Vong camp. This would be their final test before they would be accepted by their force-empowered peers, a demonstration of control despite their volatile natures; The Ghost Unit had been tasked with freeing the slaves and shepherding them undetected back to the camp while Soulfire and Blue Mist handled the mop-up.
The still-dark Selenian morning lit up as several more sabres ignited, the sound of Arconan war-cries filtering in through Illian’s helmet’s audio sensors as he looked silently on. Inside he was a seething mass of frustration as every psychotic instinct he had screamed at him to join the fray, to tear flesh and bone with his metal-clad hands, to feel the spray of ichor black or red across his face as friend and foe fell before him. Despite this he remained impassive, Torment held firmly in one hand as he gently counted down in his head, waiting for Sashar to send him the go-sign.
*Now Ghost Lead*
The telepathic urge was as subtle as a whisper but had the effect of a sonic explosion on the Knight. He had no need to signal his men; they were already moving with him as he burst forward, gliding across the ground like a wraith. Ahead the outline of a Vong Warrior was silhouetted against the sky, the air around it buzzing with the sound of its deadly bio-arsenal. The brute spun as he heard the Arconan Knight approach, taken off guard as a dark claw lashed out with impossible speed to sever its unprotected throat. It threw its arms up to its neck as it tried to gurgle a warning to its comrades, opening its under-arms up to the rest of the Ghosts. Within a heart-beat the four AXM-50 rounds had pierced its body. Within another the white-clad figures had passed before it had hit the ground.
A quick slashing motion with Illian’s hand sent Vos and Krayt across the slave compound taking up positions on either side of the pen, the Sergeant’s Praax Arms Assault rifle trained on the Vong tents. Across from him, Krayt’s lithe form lay across the dirt, the scope of her Nightsinger rifle never still as she sought out her victims like a starving woman to food. Another signal and Din Orden slung his rifle on his massive back and drew his two modified Enforcer Pistols and began to sweep the extraction area, the smaller form of Kuatir shadowing him with his deadly locust-knives bristling from their holders on his arms.
Illian darted to the slave gate, crushing the primitive locking symbiont contemptuously and moved inside, rousing the Selenians from their stupor with mental nudges of urgency and secrecy. Soon the scared civilians were gathered in the small yard, one older man walking up to the psychotic knight with moist eyes and his arms outstretched.
‘Lord Jedi! I knew, I knew you would not leave us! I told them you would come back for us, I told th…’ the man cried before stopping suddenly, a surprised expression creeping across his wizened features as he held a hand up to the gory mess that was once his throat. Blood bubbled from his lips and he fell to the floor while Illian held a dripping claw to his lips and pointed to the open gate. The message was clear and soon the refugees were being herded back to the camp. Illian waited till his team had penetrated the jungle far enough to be out of detection range before signalling to Krayt, still seeking targets in the violent battle across the compound.
The Ghost Medic made no move to get up, and in a flash Illian was on her, picking her up around the waist and bodily throwing her towards the extraction point. Darting after her, he allowed no time for recovery, all too aware of the dawn sun creeping through the jungle. He hounded the girl relentlessly, pushing her viciously when she slowed and kicking her forward when she fell, his temper fuelling his insanity. When they both exploded back through the foliage into the makeshift Arconan camp, Krayt fell forward and lay on the floor hardly able to move. Without remorse the enraged Dark Jedi leapt on her, tearing off her mask and backhanding her repeatedly and brutally across the face.
After a while he stopped, getting up slowly. His white armour was flecked with red spray and Krayt’s face was a mess, her breath coming in ragged gasps. The rest of his team stood around their beaten comrade, masks removed, staring with blank expressions at their leader. This was the way of the Ghosts; If you disobeyed even a little, pain became the lesson of the day, and they all knew at the back of their remade personalities that the Lieutenant Commander was the greatest teacher.
‘Get her on her feet and cleaned up Sergeant. I want her ready and holding her rifle in ten minutes clear?’ Without waiting for a response the Jedi turned and went to the edge of the jungle, his senses extended to detect his returning comrades.
ARCONAN BASE-CAMP, BLUE-MIST AMBUSH PLUS TWENTY MINUTES
Sashar swore and slammed a fist into the makeshift table. Talos Annedu stood before the Proconsul, a large gash across his head, hastily bandaged by Juda.
‘You say they got Dorn and no-one else? What the hell happened?’
‘Don’t know lord. One minute we were de-briefing at our camp, and then they were on us. Dorn fell asleep… I guess he couldn’t react in time.’ The Blue Mist Commander’s voice was dull, but Sashar could see the anguish in his eyes. No commander liked to lose their troops, especially when they knew the price of capture. Before Sashar had begun to mechanically repeat the words Mejas had told him, he could see Talos knew what was coming.
‘I’m sorry Commander Talos. We are spread thin as it is, we just can’t afford the risk it would take to free him, not so soon after our last attack. If they find our base before the designated pick up, we’re going to be at full scale war against a foe that is well dug in and numerous; you are a tactician Annedu, you do the math.’ Talos nodded shortly.
‘I know Lord Proconsul, but it was my duty to report our loss.’
‘You are still without a Major, is that right Talos?’ Sashar’s tone was firm, as he knew the rigidness of military discussion would provide a support for the demoralised Jedi.
‘Yes my Lord. Since Legorii has been recruited I have been without a second.’
‘Then now is the perfect time. Illian, have you debriefed the Ghosts and sent them to their designated missions?’
Behind Talos a familiar voice glided across the two Mandalorians like silk.
‘Affirmative Sashar. They will be infiltrating the subjugated populace of Estle City and reporting back to me in four days.’
‘Good. Your going back to Blue Mist for the duration of this mission, as their Major. Any questions?’ Sashar knew there would not be. Since his former apprentice had cast away the possessed spirit-crystal in his old lightsaber, he had been fiercely loyal to Sashar, an extension of his Proconsul’s will. The deranged Jedi turned to Talos, his neon-green eyes boring holes in his Blue Mist Commander, while a small smile danced across his lips.
‘Reporting for duty sir…’
Arcona RV 'Camp'
The eight bikes of Blue Mist sped into the camp and then with a raised fist from Talos, they all pulled on the E-brake and came to a skidding stop. As Talos dismounted, a spike from the Force sent his N'gant into his hands, the weapon pointed straight at the chest of a dark featured man, dressed in Vonddun Kyskirr Crab armor. "Operatives! A pleasure to meet you at last! I am Vorion, the Galeres Aedile". Talos snapped his carbine back into it's holster and met the man's extended hand and pumped it twice. "Sergeant Talos d'Tana and these are my operatives" he introduced himself and each of his men. "A pleasure to meet you all. I read up on you and you are quite the pilots and scouts it would seem" he continued in whispered tones as he motioned for the Scouts to follow him.
They had been just through their debriefing and the men of Blue Mist were seated in a rough semi-circle, re-tuning weapons when a crash was heard and Talos glanced up into the mountain and saw the shadow of his brother, Rho d'Tana, look down. Then came another crash and Yuuzhan Vong charged into the camp. "Half-moon repating pattern. Protect the Summit" Talos ordered as seven N'gant carbines appeared in seven hands a flurry of blue bolts shot towards the Vong, most bouncing off the Kyskirr armor but some finding cracks in the shell. A series of small explosions ripped across the Vong as Kieran Kodiak Erinos and his brother, Juda, fired their Lancers. Yet the Vong kept advancing, as some fell. "This isn't working. Sabers" Talos ordered and Jai'galaar leapt to his hand, the yellow light washing over his matte black armor. He charged and leapt up, bringing a straight slash of Shii-Cho down on the lead Vong, then fell back, his skill in Soresu being pushed to the max as he warded off blow after blow from the Amphi-staff. The men of Blue Mist had formed a triangle pattern behind, his Apprentice to his left and JS to the right, the blades finally met purchase and killed the Vong commander. They were on the offensive...when Dorn Ty'Rodius Ravr screamed. "Raith, Dathka, drag Dorn back to the camp. Go!" he said as he staved off another blow and cut through the vital crack in another Vongs armor.
15 minutes later saw the battle ended and Juda Erinos and Talos d'Tana running towards the prone form of Dorn. "Dorn...Juda is here and he'll take care of you. Just flex for a second" Talos said calmly and the purple Rodian did as told. Without pre-amble, the Soulfire medic stabbed the Rodian with a needle containing the yellow fluid of a Amphi-Staff antidote. "Alright. He'll be fine within one -two hours. If we have to move he can, but no fighting at all" Juda told Talos. "Thank you Juda" the Battleteam Commander responded, clapping the medic on the shoulder.
"Only one injury sir and that was Dorn Ty'Rodius Ravr with Amphi-Staff poisioning. Juda helped him and he is resting sir"
"Very well. I want Blue Mist to head up into the mountains when Dorn is ready. How long?" asked the Mandalorian Proconsul, his armored hands clasped behind his back. "45 minutes to an hour sir" the Commander said slowly. "Osik! Very well...we will wait. Now; A Vong base has been ID'd up in the mountains. It's Blue Mists job to scout it out, do recon, beam us back intel and then destroy it" ordered Sashar. "Yes my Lord" Talos said and started to turn back towards his men, for they were packing up food, water, and a stash of medical supplies. "Commander! Before you go. I want you to brief your new Major..." intoned the Exarch.
Illian Syn walked out of the undergrowth, dressed now in CamGen armor. "Reporting for duty sir" said the Mad Knight of Arcona. "Come with me Major...it's time for you to meet the new guys" Talos said, walking back towards the Blue Mist lot.
Vong Cargo Ship
Dorn couldn't tell if he had his eyes opened or closed. He decided to concentrate through the Force and see if he had company. He used the Force to heighten his sight so he could see in this darkness. No Vongs, just darkness. He relaxed. He remembered someone saying he would be fine. Yeah, if they came in here it would be. He felt his armory lightsaber still on his belt, wondering why they hadn't taken it. He grabbed it and put it in his hand. He hit the button, the hiss of the blade told him it still worked. He turned it back off.
"This 'Dark' Jeedai won't know what is coming. Check and see if he is awake." One Vong said. He heard something move. He noticed now that they were moving. The door closed.
After a few minutes the door slide open and closed again. He decided to see if it was a trick. He waited and then he heard the door open and close again. "He is out cold." It was a trap. He moved to another place and used the Force to help him hide.
Dorn knew it was risky but he had to try something. The door opened minutes later. The Vong yelled. "He is missing. The jeedai is missing!"
He saw only another Vong enter and barely heard the Vong say that they couldn't get help because they were too far out still.
He decided to send a quick message to Talos and Sashar. I have a chance of escape. Wish me luck. He sent out a small tremor as well so they would know it was him. He pulled out the lightsaber and activated it. He stood little but a better chance here in the dark.
Talos and Sashar immeadiately stared at each other.
"Dorn, contacted me." Talos said.
"Same to me." Sashar told him. "We just got to hope he can escape. "
"Guys I felt a tremor in the Force." Raith said to the pair.
"It must've been Dorn. He was able to send us a Force message saying he may be able to escape." Talos told Raith.
Vong Cargo Ship
Dorn saw that only one of the two had an amphistaff. He would have to take him out first. He started to head after them. The unarmed Vong stepped in the way and let his head get chopped off. The Vong's face had a smile of accomplishment. The other Vong had apparently been suprised.
The two now stood 1-on-1. Dorn nearly died last time he fought a Vong both without aid, him killing the Vong ultimately bewildering both of them, the second was recently when Talos had to help him.
"Dumb Jeedai, you can't win." The tattooed warrior spat at him with insult.
Dorn chuckled. The Vong could be over-confident. He relaxed and let the Vong charge him. With too much ease the Rodian moved aside. It must be a young inexperienced Vong. He had better chance. The Vong regained himself and charged again. This time Dorn wouldn't have been so lucky if he hadn't held his lightsaber in defense this time. Dorn saw the Vong's thudbugs. He noticed he could roll out of the lock between the weapons and grab one of the thudbugs in the process.
He rolled but grabbed the entire belt of the Vong and had all the bugs with him. Bad mistake as one thudbug got loose and charged the Rodian. He quickly killed it. That drew his attention enough for the Vong to hit him in the head and make him fall hard. He was still conscious though. He tried getting back up, the poison taking a major toll on him still.
The Vong thought he was out cold and was leaving the room. He charged and saw the Vong turn. He got the Vong in the opening in the armor. He smiled as he heard the Vong speak in hate. "You will not survive Jeedai." The Vong died right after he said that.
Dorn ran to the controls. It was a ship used in Eldar City. He had piloted some. He checked and saw that auto-ilot had been on and during the entire fight the ship had flown to within a couple minutes of its target. He flipped on the communications and turned off autopilot. He set the coordinates for the ship and turned autopilot back on.
He put the communications to the Arcona channel. He heard Sashar talking.
"...would be okay." The Proconsul said.
"So Dorn was the only captue or loss?" He heard Mejas.
"Yes." Sashar said.
"Okay. Whoever joined in the conversation, speak now."
"I'm okay guys. They had me in a cargo ship and there were only two. Young and inexperienced because they seemed a little too easy even for me." The Guardian reported. "I'm taking th ship back to just a kilometer outside the camp. Just in case of there beng a tracker on the ship. Here are the coordinates." He sent the coordinates of where he was headed plus where the ship was going at first.
"What are the second coordinates?" Sashar asked.
"Where this ship was heading." The Rodian answered.
"Sashar send a Blue Mist man to those coordinates for his pick-up. Make it someone familiar with detecting trackers planted in bodies." Mejas said, a click was heard then nothing. He had probably turned his comlink off.
"Okay Dorn. I will send someone from Blue Mist to meet you. You are leaving a feel of fatigue in the Force. You okay?" The ProConsul asked Dorn.
"Yeah, just the poison affecting me a little. THe battle wasn't a good idea." Dorn said. "I'm out, see you at camp." He said, cutting the communications.
The dark warriors of Prophecy Phyle snuck into one of the buildings that the Vong had designated as a defensive position for the proxy troops that they had brutally enslaved. The duracreet walls were crumbling, pock-marked by thud bugs, and any and all technological equipment had been wantonly destroyed. Blood was evident all around, some red, some green, some black. Many beings were wounded here, and no doubt many died.
When the squad of YV warriors trooped into the building, the dark Jedi attacked from the rear just as the Vong assailed their slave soldiers. Draco feared, perhaps rightly, that the proxy troops would fire on the Jedi as well as the aliens. But in the heat of battle it did not matter. The Force guided those who could feel it. Lightsabers flashed into life, blaster bolts zinged out, and the war cries of the Vong filled the air with cacophony.
Working well together, Fajhal and Maligo sliced many an enemy. The Vong, though outside the Force, were physically strong and trained since birth to the arts of war. The members of the Dark Brotherhood found that doubling up on the enemy gave even relatively untested Jedi the ability to beat even a seasoned warrior. Still casualties accrued, but in the end the training of the Qel-Dromans prevailed.
It was a quick and ferocious fight. The twelve Vong warriors lie on the cold stone floor, their black blood viscously pooling around their dismembered body parts while their proxy troops, what few were left alive, stared vacantly at the dark Jedi.
“Hypos, quick.” Maligo reached into the utility pouch on his belt, pulled out a syringe, and inoculated the closest slave soldier. The other members of the team did the same. The poison, for that was what it was, did not harm any of the beings of this galaxy. Instead, the medicine was created by alchemists to target any Vong implants. Such as the surge coral that turned sentient beings into zombies. Then the dark Jedi herded their newly freed charges from the building, as the YV leaders on the street began to investigate the fate of their lost trainees.
Selen Mountainside (Rinj'k Plateau - entering the Kroqum Mountains)
1 Standard Hour past planetary midnight
Vorion grinned despite the grim reality of his situation. He had been working his way up the gently-sloping incline of the mountainside, where the plateau reached up and became rocky and untenable when they had struck. They had catapulted from the dense woods that partitioned the rocky foot of the mountain with a grim and frightening efficiency. So this is how it all ends. Somewhat mundane. No huge fight with an ancient Dark side abomination in the bottom of some temp-
He was rudely yanked from the wry humor of his thoughts as he was forced to somersault sideways, the Force coursing through the muscles of his legs as the Vong swoop analog spat blistering torrents of molten plasma at the Hunter, it's rider shrieking as the swoop frigate roared past. Another immediately followed in it's wake, the Yaret-Kor plasma cannons spitting flame.
Vorion lurched backwards, vaguely aware that the first Vong biker had wheeled about and was on approach again, and bought his saber around parry the blast of rock and magma from the oncoming biker. Sandwiched between the two fast-approaching riders, hemmed in on both sides by the craggy rock outcroppings, Vorion failed to notice the plummeting object overhead -
- the biker patrol to his rear swerved sharply, screaming as large boulder to his left suddenly rolled violently to slam into the front of his swoop analog, spinning him out of control and hurling it's rider to a tumbling halt several dozen meters away. The Ubese saw at once that he would not be able to harness the Force and telekinetically bring the boulder to bear against the rider in front of him only ten or so meters away now, grimly sinking into a low guard stance with his lightsaber at the ready, held level in front of him, preparing to spear attempt to spear the rider -
The huge dark orb seemed to fall from the sky, it's enormous exterior lit by service lights, and swallowed up the Vong swoop analog and it's rider as it landed with a deafening WHRUMPH, crushing the bike and passenger beneath it's massive girth and sending the Krath vindicator sailing backwards with the force of it's impact.
Staggering to his feet, Vorion retrieved his saber almost as a reflexive gesture, gazing perplexedly at the escape pod that had nearly crushed him as well. Already a dark, viscous pool of stinking fluids bubbled in the crater beneath the pod.
Without warning or preamble, one hatch cover flew off at a blistering speed, narrowly missing Vorion's head as it crashed harmlessly to the rocks. From within the dim-light interior a massive humanoid exploded outwards into the night, bringing with him the familiar scent of cheap synthetic alcohol and pipe smoke.
The towering figure roared with anger, whirling to and fro wildly as he ignited a emerald-bladed lightsaber. His gaze settled on the unseated Vong biker staggering back to his feet several meters away, and with another gutteral shout, he charged the Vong, swinging his blade wildly.
"Rusty!" An exasperated voice shouted after the large, lumbering Epicanthix. Vorion snickered, recognizing the pair at once.
The Vong was thrown clear off his feet, hurtling again through the air as Robert "Rusty" Goldbear slammed bodily into the extragalactic trooper. Pausing only to fish a bottle of Corellian vintage from the voluminous depths of his lumpy hair he proceeded to descend viciously on the fallen Vong, stabbing and mauling the scarred warrior with the broken shards of the bottle.
Tetsaigah Sholar emerged from the smoke-filled pod with a easygoing, lazy grin, inhaling the crisp night air deeply before glancing thoughtfully at the brutal scuffle his pod-mate was swirling in the dust. "He forgot all about his saber." Tetsaigah muttered, shaking his head as he spotted Vorion. "Fancy meeting you here. Late deployment, I know. You seem surprised. Didn't have your commlink on?" the Sith Protector inquired, leisurely watching his partner maul the disarmed, battered Vong soldier.
"Nope. Malfunctioning, mine. You couldn't have picked a better spot to set down, though." Vorion replied dryly. Sholar snickered before calling out. "Rusty, you got em, I think."
"Got him? He beat that Vong's head to pulp." Vorion retorted shortly. Tetsaigah shot him a look. "Broken yolks, you know. Anyhow...we've got orders. We need to secure this mountain range..." Tetsaigah paused to glance at a device in his hand which looked suspiciously similiar to a tracking datapad. "..and we've got a wayward comrade to rescue. May we proceed, sir?"
Vorion grinned, his dark eyes glinting ominously in the night as Rusty drew himself again to his full and formidable height in the darkness, the Vong a mangled, ruptured sack of alien guts and smashed implants.
"Permission granted. Let's proceed."
Selen Mountainside (Rinj'k Plateau - entering the Kroqum Mountains)
2 Standard Hour past planetary midnight
It was cold. As the three Tetsaigah, Vorion and Rusty set up for their journey to the ship where Dorn was stationed at. They strapped themselves up wit all the equipment they needed. Rusty standing tall at 7'6 looked over to the nearest source of energy, a power converter that seemed to have landed about the time they arrived. He walked over to it only to find that it was an ambush by the Vong that they had set up.
"You two over here!" yelled Rusty while cutting Vong troopers. "We got a few problems over here!" Vorion and Tetsaigah jumped over the objects in their path to get to heir ally. When they got there, all three of them were now in the mist of battle, hacking and slashing at anything that was to close to them. Finally the last of the Vong troopers in the ambush fell at the hands of Rusty who thrust his saber through the Vongs chest. "Well, that takes care of that." said Rusty with a smirk on his face. The three started their move towards the coordinates of the Vong ship. On their way they encountered a cave they had to past through to get to the ship. The three stopped suddenly in the middle of the cave, Vorion giving out directions. "Alright, here is the plan." Vorion stated. "We go threw the left passage and cut off the assumed Vong troops guarding the ship. Then-" BOOM! All of a sudden a powerful rock slide flew down straight at them. The three rolled out of the way, Tetsaigah and Rusty now becoming separated from Vorion. The three trying to communicate through the rocks, but it turned out to be a failure. Not knowing the fate of their comrade, Tetsaigah and Rusty were the only ones going the right way. They both embarked on the path to Dorn to rescue him. "Well lets get a miove on, Rust, i dont think we'll be turning back. said Tetsaigah. "Yeah, lets go!" replied Rusty. The two then walked away from the scene, still worried about Vorion.
Entering the site where the ship was, Tetsaigah rallied himself up on the ridge of the mountain top, while Rusty being 7'6, took the more dead on approach. He ran straight towards the ship, hoping to get the Vongs complete attention. The Vong troops surrounding the ship turned and starred at Rusty. They all charged him at once trying to lower his morale by outnumbering him. All of a sudden, the Vong were the ones with the lower morale, they were attacked from behind by none other than Tetsaigah Sholar, Rusty's ally. The Vong were on the retreat, but only to once again be attacked by another, Rusty. Together, the two killed around 5 Vong in the site of the general from the ship, but nearly lost their lives as well. After they had been spotted the Vong opened fire on the two Dark Jedi. They instantly broke for cover and found a way around. They charged at the Vong cargo ship from the side entrance and they were on the ship. "You ready Tet?" said Rusty, turning on his green saber. "Yeah, lets get Dorn back!" replied Tetsaigah turning on his red saber. They then rushed at the Vong guards ahead.
The two were cutting down any Vong that stood in their way and they reached one of the designated areas on the radar. They kept the same movement until Tetsaigah, was shot in the leg by a Vong from the side. Tetsaigah, now going down and currently unable to defend himself, had a Vong captain rush at him with a spear. As the Vong got closer, Tetsaigah knew it was over for him. As soon as the Vong got into thrusting distance at Tetsaigah, Rusty threw his saber directly through the Vons chest saving his friend. Noticing the Vong did not fall, Rusty rushed over and punched the Vong in the center of his head, killing instantly. "Dont worry Tet, i'll have your back when get older to." said Rusty retrieving his saber, and smiling at his ally. "Nice to know Rust, nice to know." Tetsaigah replied. Tetsaigah rose to his feet, and jumped up to where Dorn was being held. Together, him and Rusty cut through the door with Dorn looking on.
"Nice to see you Dorn, so how are you doing in here? Having a few issues with escaping or getting outta here? No im just joking, but really Dorn, get up we gotta go!" said Tetsaigah.
"No Tet, its just, i was expecting someone else besides you and Rusty. Did it have to be you?" Dorn replied.
"Shut up Dorn! We gotta get outta here come on man, get up! We got Vong on the way!" complained Rusty.
Helping up Dorn, Rusty and Tetsaigah looked around the area for traps set out by the Vong. Instead, Tetsaigah lured upon a bomb that was not yet set for any drops. Dorn on his feet and wielding his saber went over to the bomb along with Tetsaigah. The two stood there trying to figure out how to set it. They stumbled upon a plug and yanked it from the wall, this indeed armed the bomb. "Alright, its set. Lets get off this thing before its to late." said Tetsaigah. "Agreed." Dorn replied. As the three rushed for the exit they encountered another Vong with a blaster. Before Dorn could cut him, the vong was shot through the face by Rusty. Tetsaigah and Dorn glanced back at Rusty. "What? Its a souvenir!" yelled Rusty. The three just kept moving through the ship and without warning, the bomb went off! The three reached the end but could not make the jump to the ground. Unable to make the jump it seemed that the three were doomed. Their morale fading, the ship exploding and everything by them falling apart. All of a sudden appeared a familiar face out in the open air, Vorion. Piloting a ship Vorion, opened the ship and yelled "Get in!" The three then hoped in the ship and flew away just in time to see the Vin cargo ship explode in mid-air. "So, where we going?" asked Vorion, knowing the answer. "Just go Vor, just go." Tetsaigah told Vorion. "Well I say a mission well done." said Rusty. "Dido." replied Dorn. "Back to camp." said Vorion. And so the four were on the trail back to the camp, with Dorn rescued.
As Vorion landed the ship down at the Glaere encampment, Dorn let out a sigh of relief inside himself. He was no longer in danger of being tortured to death, at least at this moment. Dorn stepped off of the ship and saw Talos sitting with Sashar. Aparently they must've just finished talking.
"It's good to be back at camp." Dorn said. He quickly added. "What is the plan with those second coordinates? Other alies may be there."
"I haven't cam up with a plan yet. Not even sure if we will get to them while here at this moment." Sashar said, he saw the anger in Dorn even though he didn't show it. He knew Dorn had been through the stuff the Vong were probably doing and knew that's why he was getting angry.
"Dorn, we know you have been in a torture camp of the Vong's" Talos said, surprising Dorn. The Rodian turned and looked at Talos and then walked away. He wouldnt calm himself down before talking to them about how they could make that camp part of the mission.
Dorn concentrated on the camp through the Force. He felt pain, suffering, and surprisingly, a strong urge in the Force that was fighting, nothing. Some Arconans that were on planet must be fighting the Vong. He pulled the coordinates up again and saw that the Qel-Droma rendevous points were close to the camps. Maybe it was actually part of Qel-Droma.
He felt no death from them, yet. That's good but not so as it was probably about to happen. He hated thinking that way but knew it to be true. He had calmed down and when he looked up he saw Talos carrying an X-45 Rifle, his from the ship to be exact.
"You might need this." Talos said with a slight grin. "They sent it down saying that a even a Soulfire sniper can't do it alone."
Dorn grinned and took the rifle. "So where is Rho positioned?"
"He is in a position to watch much of the area. You need to cover very little. But don't worry about where he is exactly. You can hide well and get a good view of your area right there." Talos said pointing to a sot underneath some brush. Dorn nodded, it had been a while since he had actually sniped a living object, maybe too long.