Arcona Ro - Displace
The streets of Estle City were bustling with activity – even at night the Sinchi Ring offered many attractions to the native populace. However, one individual slipped through the crowd with the purposeful stride of an off-worlder. He was drab, unremarkable in every way and somehow demanded a wide berth be given, as the other pedestrians often crossed the street to avoid him. He paid them no heed. Abruptly, one robed figure stepped out in front of the off-worlder, stopping him in his tracks.
“This way, please.” The soft, masculine voice announced, barely audible over the hustle and bustle of Estle City.
Obligingly, the off-worlder known as Mr. Lorden followed.
“As you can see, Sir, they pose a significant threat, if for nothing else than moving in on our territory in the Hutt Sector. We’re the premier Anti-Vong Taskforce and the Hutt Remnant have been offering contracts to us almost exclusively, however with the arrival of Displace Intergalactic we’re having to lower our contract prices to maintain a monopoly.” Major Helder Kemp reported, grimacing slightly.
“Where in the name of Palpatine’s black bones did this Displace Intergalactic come from?” Sashar asked, lighting a cigar and leaning back in his chair.
Rather than have this briefing in the Throne Room of the Citadel, he’d chosen to retire to the more private confines of his office. His helmet rested on the desk next to him and the holograph displaying a map of Hutt Space floated between him, Major Helder Kemp blinked once, as the Consul glanced over at his Right Arm, Strategos Thanatos Entar Arconae, who merely smiled slightly, the tug of irony at the corner of his mouth.
“We’re not sure. They seemed to have only become a player of importance in the last month, however they do have a fairly expansive headquarters building on Onderon, in Iziz city.” Kemp answered.
“Estimated Strength?” Strategos spoke for the first time in the meeting.
“Approximately twenty-five thousand troops, and a whole host of small support craft to draft in platoons of ‘private security.’ They also have a small Navy comprising mainly of Marauder Corvettes and Modified Nebulon-B Frigates. A token complement of Fighters as well.”
“We could take ‘em.” Sashar surmised, standing up. “However, I don’t like them moving in on our turf. Strat, could you get together a shortlist of volunteers from the Clan to go have a little poke around this Displace Intergalactic and see what they can turn up in terms of intel? Let’s avoid all-out war for now, though. Just recon.”
“Understood.” Strategos rose as well and started tapping into a datapad.
“If there’s anything else...” Kemp trailed off.
“Yes, thanks for the update, Major. Good work and keep on getting information on Displace. The more we have the better.”
“Understood, Lord Consul.”
The robed aide led Mr. Lorden deep into a blacksmith’s workshop, past a pair of Eldarian Wayfarers and then into a back store-room, lined with straight swords. Another robed figure awaited him, sat at a modest dining table, his face hidden in the Shadows.
In the corner of the small room, another Wayfarer stood, his face also shielded by a hood.
“I went through considerable effort to make this meeting. Don’t bother with small talk, just get to the point.” The voice was like gravel in a blender.
“Master Doto, what do you want?” Lorden asked, taking a seat in front of the blue-skinned Zabrak.
Irritation flashed through Mejas like a thunder strike, and almost by second nature he reached out in the force to probe Lorden’s brain-
A jolt of lightning ran through him, momentarily paralysing the Shadow Lord and he gritted his filed teeth in pain. His force reserves remained untapped. The Beskar collar Sashar had trapped his former Master in sparked to life, checking the Shadow Lord’s use of his force before he could even summon the attention to glide over the surface of a mundanes’ mind.
“My, he does keep you on a short leash, doesn’t he?” Lorden murmured, observing the Dark Jedi Master’s considerable strength laid useless before his eyes.
“You travelled all this way and snuck onto a hostile world full of Dark Jedi to ask me what I want?” Mejas Doto grated out.
“My associates believe your and our interests to be in alignment, and as a gesture of goodwill they have sent me to ask you what you want. If you tell me what you want, we will provide it.” Lorden said, smiling wryly.
“Get out.” Mejas spat, rising abruptly.
“As soon as you tell me what you want.” Lorden replied, leaning back in his chair, almost laughing at The Shadow Lord’s wrath.
“I won’t tell you again.” He growled, his hand going for his lightsaber.
Lorden lowered his head, still smiling in acquiescence and stood up.
“As you wish, Master Doto. If you ever need to contact me, here’s my card.” That irritating smirk never left his bland, unremarkable face as he placed a small card on the table between them and then left the small store-room without another word.
Once he left, Mejas sat down again, glaring at the card. “Lantano. Follow him.” He ordered, and the Master Scout left the room without a word. He wouldn’t be detected.
Every single comlink and holoprojector in range of the members of clan Arcona flickered to life, and Strategos’s face and/or voice appeared.
“Arconans, our Consul is looking for volunteers for a reconnaissance mission. Any and all takers are to report to the Citadel immediately for further briefing. Thank you.” There were no details, and the abruptness was enough to spur several of the clan members into action – it had been far too quiet lately, and several were itching for a good fight.
OOC: A new RO introducing a new, recurring enemy for the Clan’s fictional Arc. Anyone wishing to participate, get your characters to the Citadel ASAP and await further orders. Interact with others if you like, but do not leave the Citadel, and do not introduce said enemy =P
Oh, and above all, have fun!
Legorii's eyes were closed, his head tilted back serenely. The datapad before him was blank, its screen powered down after an extended period of time. The Quaestor knew that the information contained within was all true, but he refused to accept it. What could a few graphics and some numerical figures tell about a rival's real strength, anyways? Beside the datapad was Legorii's comlink, the same one he had carried since he was Knighted. It began beeping, slowly at first, but growing to a frantic alert. Eyes snapping open, Legorii leaned forward in his chair and picked it up, activating the display with a touch. The hissing voice of his Master, Strategos Thanatos Entar Arconae, appeared.
“Arconans, our Consul is looking for volunteers for a reconnaissance mission. Any and all takers are to report to the Citadel immediately for further briefing. Thank you.”
The message complete, Strategos' voice disappeared, and the room was silent once more. Legorii sighed, rising from his chair and checking the lightsaber clipped to his belt. More and more these days, the only friend he could take comfort in was Soulflayer, his emerald lightsaber. The Archpriest shrugged on his heavy cloak, but kept his hood down around his shoulders. He pressed a palm to the pad next to his door, delighting in the technology. The door slid open without a sound, and Legorii stepped out into the hall, a long corridor with an antique carpet running down its length. The Anzat always stayed here, at the Giletta Spaceport, when he visited Estle City. Those visits seemed to be an occasion of growing frequency now that he was included in some of Arcona's upper echelon conferences.
The Citadel, thankfully, wasn't far away. He was immediately joined by an aide as he made his way toward the central area of the port, where he would catch a private military shuttle to land at the Citadel. As he walked, the aide snapped open a direct-link comlink to prepare the Quaestor's ride. Legorii, meanwhile, established a link to his Aedile, Sanguinius Tsucyra.
"Sang? We're going to the Citadel, and quickly. Meet me at the central port, we'll snag a private shuttle over. You have two minutes," Legorii spoke curtly, slipping the device back into the folds of his purple-fringed robes. Legorii turned to the aide, a young ensign who was probably more afraid of the Krath than he was bored of the armed forces. This one looked like he'd joined up in the aftermath of the glorious reclamation of the Dajorra System, and was probably regretting his decision. The Archpriest looked away, his mind wandering as he thought of the strengthened state of the Arconan Armed Forces. They were itching for a fight. Was that what this call from Strategos was about?
Sure enough, when Legorii arrived at the central port, the shuttle was waiting. It was a four-seater, and the Dark Jedi climbed in without a word to the pilot, who was leaning against the side of the craft, taking his seat. Less than a minute later, Sanguinius arrived, not looking pleased. Neither of them spoke; there was nothing to say, yet. The pilot took his place quickly, and then they were cruising through the night sky to the plateau where the Citadel had sat for years.
When they touched down, Legorii immediately disembarked and left Sanguinius to make his own way. He had business to attend to. His comlink in hand once more, the Archpriest connected with his Proconsul, Strategos.
"Strat, what the hell is this about?" the young Anzat demanded. He knew the experienced Dark Adept too well, however, and did not expect him to drop even a hint to what his Clan-wide call meant. It was worth a shot, regardless.
Strategos smirked. "Report to the briefing room, Quaestor. You will find the answers you seek there." The Proconsul severed the link at that point, cutting off any further protest. Legorii muttered as he tucked the comlink away, more than a little irritated that not even his closest ally and fellow Entar would tell him, a Summit figure, what was going on. Apparently the only thing to do was head to the briefing room, and await the Consul's orders. As he walked, the Quaestor decided there was one last call he needed to make.
"Hey, Kant. Get your Prophecy boys down here as soon as you can. Get a shuttle drop now, if the exec gives you any trouble patch me through to him. You have clearance to land a military craft directly in the Citadel, bypassing the no-fly zone. If you miss the briefing, don't sweat it; I'll fill you in."
The Tetrarch agreed, and promised to secure a ride down planetside immediately. He was on the BAC Shadow, which happened to be in orbit with the Darkest Night above Selen. It wouldn't take them long to arrive. Finally satisfied, Legorii began to ponder what could possibly be so important as to alert the entire Clan and call for them to journey to the Citadel.
Entar Estate, Gethsemane.
Timeros listened, impassively, as he replayed Strategos' words on his ship's intercom, relaying the orders to gather at the Citadel.
“Sir?” The metallic sound startled the Epis: his senses with the Force had long since become primary, and the droids invisibility to them was a constant annoyance to him. “Yes?” he finally asked, looking up.
The droid before him was a spindly creature, with arms and legs so thin the Entar could probably snap them with his bare hands. The only portion of the creature that bucked the trend was its head, housing impressive protocol facilities. It had obviously been built for economy rather than endurance, and was visibly hesitant to ask its next question, as if scared to risk its flimsy body.
“The construction droids...have discovered some oddities in the plans for the basement.”
Timeros snorted derisively. “Run with it.”
“But sir...” for a moment, he thought that the droid had actually grown a shade more pale.
The Epis kept himself from sighing. “Is this technologically feasible?”
“Why, of course, sir, bu-”
“Then run with it. Now go.”
The creature shuffled away, clearly not happy but too intimidated by the Entar to say otherwise. For a moment, Timeros almost smiled. Yes, of course there were 'oddities' in the new Entar estate. Wellspring Keep, after all, was a Dark Jedi home. In fact, these very 'oddities' were the reason he had picked a fully autonomous team of droids to do the work, as had most other Dark Jedi who had Estate. Once done, he would have their memories erased and thus keep the Keep's secrets to the Entars themselves.
That, however, would take months in which Timeros would have little to do except supervise. The Quaestor groaned at the thought of returning to Selen: he had never liked the Citadel, much. But he had been neglecting his duties as Quaestor for some time now, and it would be a good idea to show his face and remind his House just who their master was.
With a shrug, he turned to the computer, activating its autopilot and telling it to head for Selen posthaste. Provided he used microjumps, he would be just in time.
Mist di Cloud
Ok I am new at this so I try and give this my best Shot...
Tiberius,was in his transporter and heard over his com's link,the Calls for "Help",and to gather at the Citadel,
And was help to help the Clan as best as he Could He Called Legz's over his Comm "Hi Sir,need any help,I can be at the Citadel , as soon as I can".
Tiberius awaited a reply from Legz's...
But Whilst he waited for the Leader's reply, Tiberius set,a new course for the Planet, and its Citadel,
It would not take to much time to reach the Citadel,and Tiberius was eager to help out as best as he could,and to prove his worth too the Clan and best as he could possibly be...
And Tiberius understood the urgent Nature of this, and wanted to help out..
Tiberius was ready for a fight and if anyone wanted to fight him,or try and destroy the clan he belonged to then,they would
Mist di Cloud
Tiberius was New in the clan and was a new member of the Prophecy and was alittle nervous,but he could handle what his leaders would demand of him,he had his blaster and sith dagger,at the ready and was willing to obey orders and getting down on that Citadel, and stop and distory,any one or anything that would get in his and the clans,way and was willing to put his life in the line for that...
He set the co-ordinance of his ship to the Citadel,and as he did so was wondering what the Citadel would be like,and what he would come against whilst in the Citadel...
And what or who was the threat against us,he calmed his nerve's , as the ship began its long haul to the Citadel..
This is my first entry of this comp if there needs to be more pls let me know
Outside of the consul's office
As Sashar went into the consul's office with Strategos and Major Kemp, Celahir took his position next to the door. It still felt kind of weird guarding his brother, he really enjoyed doing so though. It was great to be able to mean something and guard the Primarch, he finally felt closer to him. The choice of taking on the position of battle team leader hadn't turned out wrong yet. He was quite anxious about any attempt on the Mandalorian's life; he really felt like he needed to prove himself to the clan but more importantly to Sashar. He wondered if he would even get the chance to do anything as a Jedi Hunter. It would not seem weird to him if the Obelisk would show off his superiority towards his brother.
The young Mandalorian wasn't too sure about the current situation, he couldn't help but feel like something was about to happen. The look on Major Kemp's face seemed troubled to the young kiffar. But what would be the matter here? He couldn't think of anything and he surely didn't feel like asking his brother; after all, he didn't expect Sashar to tell him anything. It seemed Celahir just had to wait and find out. Suddenly the door slid open, Kemp followed by Strategos and Sashar came out. Both Strategos and Kemp went their own ways. Celahir looked at his consul who gave him a slight nod as he went towards the Throne Room. Following the Mandalorian, he didn't feel at ease; he couldn't help but feel the urge to ask his brother if what was about to happen would be big. Once in the Throne Room he was alone with Sashar, he ignored the fact that he shouldn't speak unless spoken to, the fact that he couldn't stand authority didn't really help here either. Celahir was nothing if not stubborn. As Sashar took his place on the Serpentine Throne, he asked "Bro, what's going on? It feels like this is the start of something big."
Sashar glanced over, a slight grin on his features and answered "Just wait and see, vod'ika."
One thing that may puzzle other sentient beings is how a Miraluka sleeps. Today, that wasn't an impossible feat. Maaks was tired, like really tired. He had missed several nights’ worth of sleep, completely his own fault of course, for to bring about the wrath of Kieran is certain doom. Or at least triple chore count and continual night watch duties which was almost doom for the lazy Miraluka. His half sleeping mind drew backward 5 days, shuddering violently when the images came groggily and out of place. Training, eating, sleeping, Juda, chit-chat, some form of clothing compliment, something about orange, panic, distress, bleach, Kieran, Kieran's face-
He jerked upright, shuddering violently. It was cold in space and he wasn't quite used to it yet, the folds of his barely used robes were pulled tightly around him and he put his feet up against the opposite facing seats of the dimly lit passenger bay-if you could call it that. He had hitched a ride from a very small oblong shaped leisure-class transporter. No beds just seats. Perfect for the sleepy Miraluka.
"Urgh, di'kutla Kieran..." He grumbled and sat upright, faffing with his slightly diminished hair, readjusting his visor and fumbling into his robes for a small comlink device. He fitted it to his ear and switched it on-just in case. He didn't want to miss anything; this was his first official Arconan activity, a challenge in itself but exciting nonetheless. Plus, he felt something stirring in the Force. Something almost, kaleidascope-like, flowing in a fixed but bizarre movement. He shook his head, 'Not now, later'. He would prefer to talk with Sashar first, and probably his other weirdo friends if the Mando's were anything to go by. He shuffled uncomfortably and groaned. His entire upper body ached with tiredness, so he lay on his side, resting his head on his arm, and drifted into the strange place where all Miraluka dream.
The Citadel was huge and Selen was dull. At that point, Maaks didn't care, he wanted a bed. He trudged slowly, not bothering to wave to the ridiculously compact craft lifting off behind him and made his way to beginning of the stairs. The big stairs.
"Oh, you know what I'm getting sick of this already." Throwing a light and compact bag towards the first step, he sat next to it and clicked his comm piece to active. He waited for a response until a familiar droning voice spoke to him.
"What are you calling me for? You here yet?" Several choice curse words came to mind, but he took a deep breath instead.
"Yes Consul, Apprentice Protector Maaks here and accounted for. Please come and get from the entrance, I will die if I walk up these di'kutla stairs." All he heard was a heavy chuckle and an overtly cool 'hmph'. He lay back. The sky was grey that day, and he felt a strange vibe blow through him, just like the rain soaked wind.
---Somewhere in Coruscant---
"...are to report to the Citadel immediately for further briefing. Thank you." Said the holoprojector showing Sashar's face. "Man, how cool," said Ruluk, "I just returned from my rogue bounties and now I got my next assignment! The only..." Ruluk stopped talking to himself for a moment, removed the holoprojector from his hand and started running again, pursuing one of his many left-unhandled objectives. The pursued one had a simple blaster pistol and was constantly shooting back, normally hitting walls and posts.
"The only problem is that I am busy," continued Ruluk, "and that I am not exactly close to Estle City." Ruluk unholstered his own pistol, a Death Hammer, and aimed for the chest. The shot actually ended up in one of the thighs, but anyways was effective enough to stop him.
Ruluk leaned his right leg against the fallen smuggler, who begged for mercy. "Please, I can pay you more than what he..." "Sorry, man, but I'm in a hurry," Ruluk shot the head. "We'll talk later when we're both dead." He took the bounty's jacket as a proof to use later, then marked another graze in his pistol and without any further distraction he ran towards his ship. "I hope I arrive on time," he thought.
---Going to the Citadel---
X-E21, Ruluk's simple droid, was driving his simple, cheap and old ship. "I think I will get a better ship. Advancing half galaxy with a ship that can't reach lightspeed when in hyperdrive is not good at all..."
---Incredibly arriving in time for the speech---
Ruluk admired the great citadel as if it was the first time he saw it. Such a magnificent tower can't be ignored easily. Joyful and forgeting his hurry, he went forward slowly, giving himself a time to watch again and again the structure. After a while, he finally moved forward three steps when he thought, "oh yeah, I was in a hurry!!..."
Citadel Landing Platform
Sanguinius slowly unbuckled the restraints holding him in place in the seat aboard the shuttle. The Anaxsi stood up and nodded at the Flight Lieutenant who had piloted the shuttlecraft to the Citadel upon Selen. The officer studiously ignored the Dark Jedi, shrugging off the thanks of the Qel Droman, Sanguinius bristled slightly at the insult, his eyes narrowed into a scowl as he stared at the pilot. He let out a low chuckle at the gall of the officer and turned to walk down the boarding ramp.
The Aedile would keep an eye on that Lieutenant, someone that brave, or stupid would be useful to keep around in the long run. As Sang stepped down onto the surface of Selen, another Shuttle started its landing course, the engines flaring as the shuttle came to a rest upon the medium sized landing platform. This must be another important figure The Aedile thought to himself. He walked briskly across the platform towards the newcomer's shuttle. His robes flapping in the breeze as the thrust of the engines from the small craft pushed the air away from themselves.
There was a squeal of almost what could be discerned as pain as the boarding ramp lowered on this new shuttle, the pistons disagreeing with the movement. Sang winced at the piercing sound, They could do with oiling. The thought quickly passed through his mind as he watched a muscled figure descend from the shuttle. The stranger seemed to literally bristle with guns, shined to a polish. The guns looked like they were treasured possessions to the stranger. Sanguinius walked forward towards the new figure, determined to find out who this newcomer was.
"You there, who the hell are you?" The ex-Imperial barked out in his best Drill Sergeant voice.
"Come on, baby," A wry smile made its way on the pale green hued face of Martumal Cochrane. "Gimme some of that sugar."
The girl proceeded to leap out of the Dark Jedi's arm which was extending to take hold of her. Just as she did, an older gentlemen stepped through the doorway and placed himself between the girl and Martumal. Two cold eyes implanted in a steely face made Martumal their target. Most people didn't manage to maintain such a resolve when standing face to face with Martumal.
A man who dresses in thick, dark robes that cling tightly to his roughly 1.8 metres figure in some places whose skin is a greenish pale hue that has various designs etched into it, he definitely is not a very normal looking individual. His face is gaunt and sullen, his eyes deep and dark. His thin mouth stretches along his thin lower jaw that seems to jut out a bit further from the rest of his face. If this is not intimidating enough, then the lightsaber dangling from a hook on his right hip remains present as reminder to those who wish to confront the Journeyman.
"What are you looking at?" Martumal growled and stepped forward, extending himself to his full size. His eyes sharpened as they focused on the pair that remained fixed on his own. However as his eyes did focus, he noticed the other man avert his gaze from him quickly, but they then returned back to Martumal's face. The pupils in the eyes then seemed to slowly sink down the length of the Dark Jedi's body, perhaps sizing him up.
"W-what did you think you were going to do with my daughter?" The man's fear was apparent in the tone of his voice. However, his face remained stern despite his still-traveling eyes.
"Just wanted to have some fun on my off time. Serving the military is an arduous responsibility." Martumal's face softened and his wry smile was replaced by a more innocent one.
The mans' eyes dropped back down to the lightsaber dangling from Martumal's hip. "You don't serve in the military. You're one of those filthy Jedi!"
"What?" Martumal dropped his head to look at the lightsaber by his side. "Oh."
"Get out of here you filthy Jedi!" Martumal sighed as he stepped around the man, using his arm to push him back. The man's voice was rising and continuing to tell him to get out in different ways. Each time he yelled at Martumal, what he said alternated to another way to say, basically, "Get out.".
The frustrated and still unsatisfied Dark Jedi obliged with no hesitation, rushing to escape the shouts. Boredom was driving him insane. Therefore, he had to find additional activities to sate his desire for entertainment. Now he was hearing this beeping tone that seemed to grow more annoying with each increment. Then he realized, it was his commlink.
He proceeded to answer it, and heard a recording, “Arconans, our Consul is looking for volunteers for a reconnaissance mission. Any and all takers are to report to the Citadel immediately for further briefing. Thank you.”
Finally, something to do. Since Martumal was in the Sinchi Ring, he was probably closer to the Citadel than some of the other Arconans that were going to arrive. With that knowledge, he figured it was more likely he would have a piece of the action involved. Enthusiastically, he made his way to the Citadel. That message was a godsend...
"You there! Who the hell are you?" barked a commanding voice from the silhouette standing in the distance.
"I mean no offense, sir." Came the reply as the figure noticed the rank on his clothing, "But the question is, who the hell are you?"
"I am Sanguinius Tsucyra, Aedile of House Qel-Droma. If you do not identify yourself, I will be forced to arrest you."
"Ok, ok." The figure had closed the distance between the two, and now Sanguinius could see the smirk on his face. "I am Dark Jedi Knight Xar'Kahn of House Galeres, returned from my leave of absence, and ready to report for whatever it is that is going on today."
"Galeres? Oh, well. The Lord Consul has asked those who are willing to volunteer for a reconnaissance mission to report to the Citadel immediately."
"Well, then I guess I arrived back at the right time? Now if you'll excuse me, I have to finish unpacking." Xar then continued to walk towards the Aedile, not giving any birth, and brushing shoulders as he walked past. Sanguinius' faced burned with anger as he turned to give a harsh outburst to the upstart human, but remained silent as he decided he as better than that. Sang then continued on his way to the Citadel.
Xar found his way back to the Citadel a few moments after his encounter with the new Aedile. It seemed many things had changed since he had left. Though he had kept in touch with the goings on in the clan, he hadn't expected such an overhaul. He could feel the whole mood around Arcona had changed, for the better. Somehow, they had managed to combine into a powerhouse of confidence. It showed in the way almost the entire clan had turned up at the Citadel, waiting for instructions. Well, this should be interesting, he thought as he found himself a seat near the back of the room.
Etah stepped out the shadows and scowled at Xar'Kahn as the soldier of Soulfire walked past him. The Krath Archpriest had arrived some time earlier with his Quaestor and Shadesworn mentor, Timeros Entar. Consistent with his duties as Whip, the Krath Equite was corralling the members of his House into its meeting area, which included Xar. He looked at Sang and shrugged as if to say boys will be boys “A side effect of their rigorous training is a King sized ego” the Galerian futher conceded. Sanguinius nodded at the Sakiyan turned back into the Citadel.
The Arconan was uneasy about the events surrounding this call to meeting. He sensed something insidious happening. A meeting like this wouldn’t have been called for something as overt as a nest of Yuuzhan Vong being found or some other kind of orthodox military threat. Were it that simple, orders would have been issued and the appropriate military forces dispatched. Instead the Clan Arcona was having a secret meeting in the dead of the night, in the back of a smoke filled room.
The Equites boots clacked across the deck of the Citadel, clack, clack, clack, clack, it continued and echoed across the painfully empty corridor. He momentarily admired the grandness of the Clan’s headquarters, though he wondered further if something more basic would have been more effective. Though he didn’t have much time to wonder, the Sakiyan stepped through a corridor and into the short hallway that led to the stage from with Sashar Arconae would address the volunteers.
Stepping onto the stage the Assembly Whip stepped off onto the right side behind Timeros. Sang was not yet on stage but Lego (his QUA) was. The Sakiyan Krath Priest was attired in a menacing looking robe with esoteric gold symbols that had come to be known as the Shadesworn robes. The Black Robes he wore contrasted with his dark skin, rendering his complexion even darker.
[[[OOC: To protect continuity Tim is still QUA, I am AED and Ninj is roll master]]]]
Sanguinius had a scowl upon his face as he walked after the Sakiyan into the Citadel, he was angry at the abrupt manner that the Knight had spoken to him. He would do everything in his power to make the Galeran regret his words. The Anaxsi smiled at that thought, "Revenge is sweet." he mumbled to himself as he made his way up the steps into the Citadel.
There was a sense of urgency in the air as Jedi and Guardsmen moved swiftly around the Citadel, Sanguinius had to stop a Guardsman and ask him directions, the Aedile cursed Legorii quietly for leaving him to make his own way around the vast complex, the Qel Droman was a stranger here and it was quite awkward for the Knight to proceed through the citadel by himself. He thanked the soldier as he moved into a more secluded part of the fortress, here silence permeated the air as his boots thumped against the hard surface. Sanguinius could hear the quiet murmur of voices up ahead and he moved into the room, his eyes quickly taking in the scene and locating the few Arconans that he knew.
The Aedile made his way up the steps onto the stage as he moved to stand behind Legorii, making brief eye contact with the Krath Archpriest before him as Legorii turned to greet Sanguinius. The relationship between the two was rocky at best, even though the Anzat had chosen the ex-Plagueian as his Aedile, he still did not fully trust the young man.
Sanguinius was determined to earn that trust as he looked out at the assembled Dark Jedi before the leaders of the Clan, he was glad to see that some of the members of Prophecy Phyle were present at this announcement, he nodded at Martumal who quickly walked into the hall, but his greeting was unnoticed as the Hunter was out of breath at his brisk journey to the Citadel.
The young Knight also saw the figure of Kant Lavar amongst the group of Dark Jedi, he smiled as he knew that he would have to have a talk with this enigmatic Hunter, the two of them had not yet spoken at great length, the Aedile was determined to solve this little conundrum soon. He did not rightly know what Sashar had called the Clan together for, but he knew that it was gravely important, maybe even ranking up there on the same level as the retaking of Antei.
Memories of that harsh campaign came back to the young Knight, not all of them good. Sanguinius swallowed heavily with the weight of the memories on his shoulders. The men and women he had left to die on the steppes of that planet.
The Qel Droman was stirred from his thoughts by a nudge from his Quaestor to pay attention as Sashar Arconae strode into the room, followed by his Pronconsul; Strategos and a Dark Jedi that Sanguinius had come to know well in his short time in Arcona, the Hunter Celahir, the new Battleteam Leader of Soulfire, he scowled at sight of the Hunter, but he could not begrudge him for his move, he had done the same thing afterall. Though the Knight could not stay in Plagueis after what had happened.
Those memories were better saved for another time, he thought as the trio of newcomers moved up the stairs onto the stage.
Selen - Arconan Citadel
The Archive was, in a word, huge. It consisted of a vast amount of books, holovids and recordings spanning a wide array of topics that would take a human at least three incarnations to read them all. The more sensitive material was naturally kept in a properly secured chamber known informally as “The Vault”, but to worms such as Mandragoran knowledge, of any form, was precious.
“Let me try to explain it again, you piece of scrap,” said Lan in a very low tone, trying to contain his frustration, “you cannot put the Onderonian history recordings in the general history section. It is specific to a galactic system and it should be placed accordingly”.
The protocol droid looked at the dark robed figure with its expressionless face and answered in the most submissive tone that its vocabulator could muster, “But sir, the tale of Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma are directly tied to the history of Freedon Nadd, who in turn is rooted to the history of Onderon's royal bloodline. The Great Sith War was an epic event with several repercussions to the galaxy as a whole and-”
Lan did not hear the rest, he was tired. He now regreted deeply having volunteered to reorganize the Archive. “Droid, list your behavioral inhibitor directives”.
“Why, certainly, sir. I cannot harm or kill a sentient organic being or allow one to be killed by not informing it of the threat. I am also not allowed to let myself be destroyed, unless that conflicts with the first two restrictions”.
Lan then reached for the droid's metallic neck with both of his hands and started shaking it. “Then compute this: either do as I say or tomorrow I'll have you turned into a washing machine! Is that good enough for you, you worthless piece of-”
The droid was about to shout “Yes sir!” in a very panicked tone when the Dark Jedi's datapad came to life, signaling a new message. He let go of the machine's neck, reached for the portable computer and saw the face of Proconsul Strategos appear on the screen.
“Arconans, our Consul is looking for volunteers for a reconnaissance mission. Any and all takers are to report to the Citadel immediately for further briefing. Thank you,” was all there was to the message.
The Archpriest shrugged and returned the datapad to under his black robe. He certainly had no intention of going in some surprise reconnaissance job knowing so little about it. It was obviously some ridiculously and unnecessarily dangerous assignment best left for reckless journeymen who still needed to prove themselves and... and he WAS in the Citadel! If anyone from the Clan spotted him he would have no way of getting away without losing face!
“Excuse me, sir? The Proconsul's request takes precedence over your task here in the Archive. I strongly recommend that you head towards the briefing room”.
Lan abruptly raised his eyes at the droid, a move that made it jump back and raise its mechanical arms in defense. The Archpriest then turned to the double doors and hastily started to move out of the Archive. “You never saw me!” he shouted to the droid, “Or I'll have you scrapped!”
“Oh, my...” replied the poor mechanical thing.
Lan walked fast across the corridor, seeking the shadows and stopping whenever he heard steps or voices. He needed to leave the Citadel as soon as possible: if he could reach the garage and take a speeder to Estle he would be safe. At a junction, he leaned against a wall in the shadows, wishing he was invisible, until a pair of troopers passed. He then silently turned right on the corridor, only to be startled by his datapad signaling another incoming message. He reached fast to turn it off but the face of Prophecy's leader, Kant, was already on it.
“Lan? Are you there, Lan?”
“Y-yes, Kant. I was... I am... yes, I'm here,” the Archpriest said without stopping.
“Have you received the message? I was requested to report with our team to this mission, and since you were working in the Archive I assume you're already in the Citadel?”
“Well... I'm not, actually, this... this thing came by and I had to... to... go do it.” He had already reached the turbolift, and soon he would be in the garage level.
“A thing, what thing?” Kant asked with a slightly puzzled look on his face.
“You know, a thing... a... complicated thing, I'll have to report to the summit later on it, it's... well... it's complicated, you know?”
The turbolift's door opened. He started fast out of it only to bump on a figure that stood right outside, both falling to the ground due to the impact. He heard a feminine shriek of surprise before he landed on his face.
“Lan? What the blast are you doing?” asked the woman. Lan raised his eyes and recognized Dark Jedi Knight Desdemonea, sitting on her bottom directly in front of him. Behind her, leaving another speeder, more personnel from Qel-Droma arrived. “Did you just get here for that briefing too?”
The Archpriest sighed. “Kant, seems I'll be able to make it. See you there”.
Citadel Landing Platform
Lavar chuckled at the tone of Lan's last comment. "I wouldn't have expected less, Lan. Out here." The Archpriest, had obviously been looking to skip out on the mission, more absorbed in his own personal projects, as usual. The plan, whatever it was, hadn't worked as well for him as he'd liked, as he suddenly realized his schedule was clearer than he'd thought.
Lavar glanced back at the other members of Prophecy that had flown down in his larty. He'd borrowed it, at first intending on doing some rapid insertion training with a handful of mundane troopers. Unfortunately, when he'd gotten the message to come in, they'd been in mid-reentry, and Lavar had... made some sudden course adjustments to get them onto the correct approach pattern. One of the troopers hadn't appreciated it, and was bent over on the landing pad re-inventorying everything he'd eaten in the last couple of days. Lavar waved at the group. "Prophecy on me. Troopers, get the larty loaded for bear, refueled, and warmed up for us."
Lavar and the other Prophecy members - it still felt weird, on some levels, to be leading troops, but apparently, someone had been impressed with his work during the Great Jedi War a few months ago - moved at a brisk walk into the new citadel. Lavar himself didn't really look the part of a Dark Jedi, he knew - utility vest, shirt, pants, long coat, and blaster belt with DL-44 and lightsaber opposite each other, all colored various dark earth tones made him look more one of Skywalker's Jedi than a member of the Brotherhood. Still, Lavar never really liked fighting in robes, and his kit was definitely less showy than some others'.
He spotted Lan and a female Dark Jedi Knight he didn't recognize off the top of his head, which was odd - female Dark Jedi were something of a rarity, and Lavar tended to remember things like that. Still, he chalked it up to simply not being around the full House, let alone the full Clan, as much as he possibly should have been, and continued on into the turbolift.
In the hall leading to the briefing room, he heard mounting chatter as old comrades greeted another, renewed relationships, caught up, or reinforced old feuds. Lavar exchanged nods with a bare handful of members, realizing as he did so that all together too many of them were just faces, not even connecting to names in his mind. Why the hell can't we wear nametags or something? Lavar suppressed the irreverent thought as he took his place as Tetrarch towards the front of the House Qel Droma section and settled in, waiting for the rest of the Clan to assemble.
Selen - Estle City
Xuthen was woken by a metallic, but familiar voice; “Arc..., ..r c..s. KGG vol.nteers KGGT recon... .ission KGGGT rep.rt to the Cit...l KGGGG ..nk yKGG ”. Ah yes, Xuthen thought, that definitely sounded like Strategos. She yawned and stretched, relieving herself of her hangover by a special technique she learned while in Taldryan. That technique had proven its use many times indeed. Xuthen grinned, and slid out of bed.
Wrapping the bedsheets around her, she walked to the window. The views over the city were not exactly suitable for a postcard, but it smelled like home. After travelling for such a long time, it felt good to be on familiar grounds.
After cleaning herself, she put on her favourite robes and added several items to concealed pockets and strings. She took the knife from under her pillow, put it in the sheath on her belt,next to her lightsaber and took a deep breath. It was time for some action...finally.
As she prepared to climb the steep cliffs to the Citadel, she made a mental note: 'have the comm fixed'.
Sashar quelled the sudden rush of pride he felt as he gazed over the assembled arc of maybe thirty Dark Jedi gathered before him.
They may be a bunch of sociopathic cantankerous backstabbing di’kuts, but they’re MY sociopathic cantankerous backstabbing di’kuts. The best the Brotherhood has to offer.
They comprised all of the members of the Battleteams, both House Summits and a few other stragglers – easily more than enough to accomplish what he needed done.
“My friends.” He began “Our efforts working for the Hutts to help them eradictate the last vestiges of Vong resistance are going well, however we’ve suddenly developed some competition: Displace Intergalactic. They’re a privately run Mercenary Force that’s undercutting our prices and helping the Hutts with their Vongese problem. This crap won’t fly with me. However, before we can drive them out, we need to know more about them. The Dajorra Intelligence Agency is doing their usual sterling job, however I’d prefer a more direct approach.” Sashar paused, looking over at his Proconsul.
Strategos stepped forward and cleared his throat. “We know their headquarters are on Onderon, a recently constructed compound adjacent to Iziz City. Our House Summit members, Legorii, Sanguinus, Timeros and Etah will take the Creeping Darkness and contact Displace Intergalactic directly, posing as Pirates looking to ‘go legit’ – Major Helder Kemp will be travelling with them to help forge fake identities and a backstory en-route. This will get us names and faces of the head honchos, hopefully a tour of their facilities and, if we’re lucky, membership in their organisation. A third of the Creeping Darkness’s crew will be replaced with agents from the DIA, who will be posing as liaisons with the Displace staff, just in case they do miraculously try and incorporate an Interdictor into their forces. With the initial Intelligence gathered by your fearless leaders, Soulfire, based off the Valour’s Fall, will infiltrate the compound and break into their mainframes and attempt a partial data dump. Prophecy Phyle will be inserted into Iziz City to find out if Displace has any contacts or subsidiaries in the city proper, or worse, connections with the Monarchy. Blue Mist will be kept aside for another job with our Consul.” The Proconsul concluded, making sure to look each of the members in the eye first.
Ruluk raised a hand and Sashar nodded his assent to speak.
“What will I be doing?”
Sashar blinked, his only indication of missing a detail, but continued smoothly. “You will assist Prophecy – they’re your House mates and brothers in the clan, so it’ll do you good stead to work closely with them. That goes for anyone not attached to a Battleteam or the Summit. Any more questions?”
Celahir stirred. “Will a member of Soulfire be staying behind as a Guard for you?”
“No. I’ll be okay just with the Citadel Guard and the Summit Guardsmen, I think.” He answered dryly.
“Understood.” Was all he answered, his mind already heavy with the nerves any leader faces before their first mission in charge.
“Right then, if there are no more questions, get ready; we’ll be setting off in 24 hours.”
Lantano Sarutobi moved silently. Even the Dark Jedi would be amazed at the grace which the Waymaster displayed as he artfully moved through the crowded streets, keeping a good 50 meters between him and Mr. Lorden. Lantano’s distinctive Wayfarer cloak, the mark of the Eldarian Rangers didn’t draw any glances; the people who knew what it meant were in the Military and these merry club-goers probably wouldn’t notice him unless he spilled their drinks – his cover was safe. Lorden didn’t look back once as he made his way up from the Sinchi Ring and through the Huascar Ring; an unusual trait for someone presumably trained in counter-intelligence techniques, as his bland civilian facade wasn’t fooling anyone. He turned a corner up ahead down a side alley and Lantano cursed under his breath. He sped up, turned the corner-
All that faced him was a short, dead end alley with no exits. There were no signs of people disturbing any of the trash containers, nor were there any vents into the sewage works. The cold hand of failure grasped his heart as he realised he’d have to report failure back to the Shadow Lord. This was not going to go well.
It was approaching 0400 local time in Estle City and Sashar was still up, working on the paperwork necessary to mobilise the Valour’s Fall, the Creeping Darkness and the numerous personnel attached to the campaign. He glanced up at his new adiministrative aide as she entered his office with a knock, looking no worse for wear considering her night out previously.
“Ah, Xuthen, could you contact Commodore Sulaco’s office and find out how the repairs on the Eye of the Abyss are coming?” He asked, taping a sip of caf.
She nodded once, and proceeded out without another word. Quite the professional, that one.
Another few minutes passed and the sun started to show its face on the horizon – it was the height of summer for Estle City and the sunrises were spectacular from the top of the City, looking over the huge plains. A muted cough sounded from near the doorway and Sashar spun around, his hand going instinctively for the overpowered T-6 Thunderer blaster pistol holstered to his right thigh.
At the end of his barrel was a demure human male with dark hair, a bland expression and an amused smile.
“Lord Consul, a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” He said, his voice a pleasingly unremarkable baritone.
“You’ve got me at a disadvantage, but then again I’m the one holding the gun.” He grinned mirthlessly at the intruder, who didn’t seem in the least bit perturbed.
“I’m Lorden. My associates and believe that our interests and Arcona’s coincide, and have asked me to offer you assistance in whatever matter you believe would profit from our mutual co-operation. Put simply; what do you want?”
Sashar blinked and flicked a lock of hair from his eye. There was a long moment where he digested this.
“Let me get this straight. You come to me in the middle of the night, somehow elude the best security this Clan has to offer...don’t say who you represent, and ask me what I want?!” His voice was all good humoured amusement, however his blaster didn’t even waver.
“My associates want to make sure we have your co-operation before making themselves known. What do you want, Lord Consul?”
“You harm anyone getting in here?” He asked, his tone unchanged.
“Then I want you out. When you have the balls to actually say who you’re representing, then you can come back and approach me through regular channels. Get out of my System.” Sashar’s tone turned abruptly icy, his expression of mirth hardened into a glare – no more playing around.
“I’ll leave you my card, if you change your mind.” Lorden said, not risking his displeasure.
As soon as he was gone, the Consul shook his head in disbelief. “I couldn’t just stick in Soulfire, could I? Nooo, had to go on to greater things and deal with this di’kutla cloak and dagger osik.”
Right kids, we're kicking off. Your job now is to follow the instruction of your Team leaders (QUAs and BTLs) and get on your merry way. Don't rush the arrival in Iziz, but remember to have fun, and try to lose the darker-than-thou crap, if everyone's Sephiroth with pre-menstrual tension, then we wouldn't be a clan - Dark Jedi are allowed to have friends too; work on that =P
Legorii had kept his head bowed slightly throughout his Consul's speech, but his eyes remained fixed on Strategos, standing at his side. The young Anzat closed his eyes, his assignment now fresh in his mind, and he slid his hood up over his head. He would be coming face to face with this new enemy of Clan Arcona. Would he be able to stay his hand, and not attack on sight?
The Quaestor's emotions were in turmoil. He had never been tested with an enemy that he was not allowed to kill on sight before. The only enemies he had faced were Dark Jedi from rival Clans, or the Yuuzhan Vong and droids the Brotherhood had warred against for a few long years. Am I just a simple bloodhound, trained to kill, and capable of bloodshed only? Legorii's conscience, which had taken quite a few beatings since he had come to Clan Arcona, continued to leave these lingering questions in his mind. With a sigh, the Anzat slipped away from the dispersing crowd, leaving his compatriots of the House Summits to make their own way to the hangar, where they would catch a ride up to the Creeping Darkness, hanging in orbit above the planet.
Legorii wanted to walk the halls of the Citadel, alone with his thoughts, for a few minutes more. This was a sanctuary, a grand haven, for the members of the Shadow Clan. Personally, he preferred the newly reconstructed Qel-Droma Temple, but he hoped that someday the Citadel would be his home, and not the Temple. Those days were far off, however, with his own master standing between him and the highest office of the Clan. Sashar was certainly not eager to relinquish his power, either...
The Quaestor shook off his ambitious thoughts, clearing his mind as he listened to the consistent tapping of his heels against the cold floor. He refused to meet the gaze of any passerby, partly afraid of showing some other man the doubts and fears those eyes contained. He needed someone to talk to, either Strategos or Timeros. They were the only two he felt he could fully trust, his only true friends in the Clan. He had many allies and acquaintances, but the only ones who he ever talked to, truly talked two, were Strat and Tim. Everyone else just was not worth the time.
Legorii motioned vaguely with a hand, flinging open a glass door and stepping out into a dimly lit hangar. The shuttle was ready to go, and Timeros was waiting on board. The Qel-Droman ascended the trio of steps, collapsing on the seat beside his fellow Entar.
"Ah, Timeros. Where are our Aediles?" Legorii asked casually, sliding his hood back and running a hand through his dark hair. The door of the shuttle snapped shut a few seconds after the Anzat took his seat, hissing softly as it sealed.
Timeros responded slowly, turning in his seat to face his younger friend. "They're on a different shuttle of the Creeping Darkness. I don't know if they'll beat us there, but it's possible." The Epis paused for a moment, a shadow crossing his face momentarily. "There's something on your mind. What is troubling you?"
The two Quaestors locked eyes for a moment, sharing a moment that was shattered when Legorii glanced away. "I...my confidence is not where it, well, where it should be, let's say. I've been at the head of this House for a few months now, and I've gotten a good luck of what, of who, we are," Legorii replied carefully.
The elder Equite sat quietly, a small smile on his face as he listened intently. Legorii sighed, but continued. "Do we have morals, Tim? I know we're Dark Jedi, and we are all comfortable with work in domains that others consider "evil". I have no reservations about killing for gain, or about clawing my way to the top, or anything like that. But do we have any purpose beyond that? Do we do anything but kill, senselessly?"
The Arconae grimaced. "It's complicated, Legorii. You know that. No, we don't just kill for the sake of killing, all the time. We have a degree of sophistication. I mean, look at our organization, our politics, our economies. We are not animals. When we confront this Displace group, we will act civilly, or at least as civilly as pirates do. It'll be fine," Timeros managed a lopsided grin as he placed a hand on Legorii's shoulder.
The Anzat nodded mutely. Not another word was spoken on the flight up to the capital ship. They had a lot of work to do between now and their meeting with Displace, and there was no time to waste.
Selen - Arconan citadel
Xuthen moved on through the citadel. It was bustling with activity. Obviously, something big was going on. Or at least, something was going on. It seemed as if every clan member was up and about, and was anxious to see some action. As she evaded a group of apprentices running around the corner, Xuthen wondered whether there were more guards in the citadel than usual.
The assistant did not look up as she entered the Commodore’s chambers. "Please state your name and business" the assistant said wearily.
"Archpriest Xuthen needs to speak to Commodore Sulaco – Consul’s orders”, she said in a soft voice.
“Ah, yes,” the assistant replied,”the Commodore is very busy indeed, so if you’ll tell me what this is about exactly, next week there’ll…”
Xuthen interrupted in the same soft but certain voice. “I will speak to Commodore Sulaco now”. She did not take her gaze off the assistant. “This is a direct order from Consul Sashar”.
Looking slightly smaller than before, the assistant mumbled in a confirmative way and scuttled towards the control board, pushing the intercom button with a trembling finger.
“Sir, Archpriest Xuthen here to see you, sir”
Xuthen entered the Commodore’s office. It was clean, light, and it was obvious what the main subject of attention of Sulaco was. There were models of the Abyss scattered among drawings and charts. Sulaco himself was sitting at a large desk, taking notes and tapping on several datapads. The diamond in the patch on his right shoulder was gleaming in the office lights.
“Yes, Archpriest, what can I do for you and your consul?” he said, tearing his gaze from his paperwork.
“The Consul wants a status update on the repairs on the Eye of the Abyss” Xuthen replied in a clear voice.
“Of course”, Sulaco sighed,”we both can’t wait to see her in action again. Well, the repairs done on Yridia II are on schedule,” he continued,” despite some difficulties. Nothing major, I assure you.”
The tall Selenian unplugged a datapad and handed it to Xuthen. “Give this to your consul, it contains all the details of her repairs.”
Xuthen nodded and put the datapad securely in her robes. She felt the glare of the assistant as the doors behind her closed with a hiss.
Xuthen headed straight for the Consul’s office.
Civilian Passenger Ship Star River
En Route to Onderon
Kant Lavar stepped out of his room, adjusted his jacket, and headed for the casino level. At Selen, the guidance to Prophecy and the others assigned to the mission were to split up and make their individual ways to Onderon. Lavar had boarded a transport from Selen to the Lyarna System – still a hub for mercenaries, bounty hunters, and assorted other lowlives; since the disbanding of the Bounty Hunter's Guild, it had simply become somewhat more dangerous than it had been during the Guild's running of the system.
From Lyarna, Lavar had boarded a ship heading for Onderon. He had considered heading for a core world, like Corellia or Coruscant, but he'd spread enough credits around at Lyarna to forge a convincing backtrail leading to Coruscant, and he'd booked the transport to Onderon using his identity as a senior security manager for Naruba Investments. If anyone checked for how and why he'd been in Lyarna, they'd see that he spent several days there, making contacts with the local mercenary bands, looking for muscle for an unspecified “contract job.” Further checks would find he booked passage on a corporate-owned transport from Coruscant, which had actually made a run from the New Republic capital world in the time frame the records say it did, and had continued on to Corellia.
Lavar figured that would give him at least something of a measure of legitimacy when he started nosing about for information in Iziz City on Displace. He doubted that the amount of people that were descending on the city within a short time frame would go unnoticed by the mercs, but he had to at least try and give himself a plausible cover. And to go with that cover, he had disassembled his lightsaber and left it in his luggage, and instead of his preferred heavy blaster pistol, carried a BlasTech HSB-200 blaster. Technically a holdout blaster pistol, it was the next best thing to a full-sized blaster pistol, and Lavar was confident it would suffice if he needed it... to shoot someone and take their hopefully heavier weapon, and then win the firefight. Besides, he still trusted his skills with a blaster more than he did those with a lightsaber, so...
Lavar walked out onto the main concourse, and found his senses assailed by light, sound, and smell coming from all kinds of gaming tables and stations. Classics, like sabacc, jubilee wheels, and spinner-pits were crowded, and even some older games experiencing a rennisance, like Quadrant, Vector, and pazaak were represented. Lavar was never much of a gambler – his luck usually found itself more useful in combat, as opposed to the gambling pits he found himself in from time to time – but he sat down at a Quadrant table and started up a game against the computer. An array of old Imperial war machines appeared at either side of the table, and Lavar opened the game by sending his TIE Fighters and TIE Bombers forward to try and score some early kills. He had sensed a couple of other Force users aboard, and he figured if any of them wanted to make contact with him, this would tend to be the place to do so.
Sanguinius leaned back in his uncomfortable seat and closed his eyes, the Aedile was tired, having been disturbed from his rest by his Quaestor for these summons, the Anaxsi hoped to get some shut-eye before being called to fulfill his duties, though he was still unsure on what they might be. Across from him sat his opposite in Galeres, the Sakiyan, Etah.
As the shuttle rose from it's berth upon the landing platform, the thrust of the engines shook the frame of the shuttle and caused Sang to unintentionally open his eyes in concern, catching Etah staring at him. He raised an eyebrow in query at the Archpriest, who merely shrugged and ignored the Qel-Droman. Sang grinned in response and decided to speak, overcoming the silence between the two men.
"So how exactly are we going to disguise ourselves as pirates?" Sang chuckled.
"Who knows, Kemp will probably make us all wear eye patches and have parrots on our shoulders." Etah grinned.
"Sounds about right, though we should make Timeros wear a peg leg for sheer hilarity."
Etah laughed in sync with Sanguinius as the two continued to joke about the disguises.
The shuttle made its way to the Creeping Darkness, rising up through the atmosphere of Selen to break out of orbit of the planet. Hovering above the sleak shuttle was a forbidding cruiser, the Interdictor had seen action quite recently, still scarred from the attack on Antei. The trick that Crask had pulled on the Clan fleets still showing upon the hull. Countless shuttles were travelling up from the planet's surface to the dark objects hanging in space above the planet, ferrying the new crewmen to the Interdictor for it's latest assignment.
The pilot initiated the docking procedures for the shuttle and eased the craft into an approach run, slowing the speed down and deploying the landing flaps as it entered the bowels of the massive ship. Toggling the light on in the seating area to inform the passengers that all was clear for them to disembark, the pair of Aediles walked down the boarding ramp onto the ship.
Sanguinius was taken aback with the sheer size of the craft, as the largest ship he had ever been on before had been a VSD. The Anaxsi walked towards the greeting officer, a Junior Lieutenant by the looks of things. The officer saluted the Qel Droman and the salute was returned, an old habit of Sang's, the instinct driven into him from his past. Etah walked up beside Sang and nodded to the officer, obviously knowing the officer from previously.
"Welcome to the Creeping Darkness my Lords, i presume you would like to head to the bridge to await the arrival of the Captains?"
Etah nodded."Lets get up to the bridge shall we Lieutenant? If you'd like to lead the way." The Sakiyan gestured for the officer to lead, the naval officer nodded sincerely and lead off, a small detachment of naval marines following the officer as he marched towards the main doors from the hanger into the ship. The two Dark Jedi followed after the group, eag
Selen – Arconan Citadel
Xuthen walked along the Citadel corridors, quietly taking in the faces and movements around her. The Selenians in the area kept on working serenely, carrying around paperwork and cleaning the floors. There seemed to be more guards than usual, and considerable less Jedi. Xuthen growled. She did not have much faith in the guards. ‘Quantity does not replace quality,’ she thought. Surely the Consul would not leave the Citadel in a poor state of defense.
Her train of thought was interrupted abruptly. Xuthen’s attention was drawn to a spot in the crowd coming towards her. Accompanied by a robed person, the brown-haired male clearly did not want to be seen. As he passed by, the hairs in her neck stood up. Xuthen tore her gaze from the man’s disconcerting smile and saw movement in the corner of her eye. She imagined to see a cloaked figure trailing the corridors just behind him, but as she turned her head towards the figure it was no longer there. Or at least seemed to be.
Xuthen knew better than just slash and kill any unsettling person in the premises. After all, being Arconan practically ensured being unsettling. She grinned at that thought and sped up her pace, knowing exactly who could handle this information.
Xuthen knocked on the Consul’s door. “Enter, Xuthen,” Sashar said. The female Jedi closed the door behind her, and as she approached the Consul, she could feel his slight unease.
Xuthen handed over the datapad. “The update of the repairs on the Eye of the Abyss, sir.” She spoke with a soft voice as she added “ and there is more.”
OOC: I will be on an LoA from July 20th to July 27th. You can make me do pretty much anything, just remember that I will be back and I will take appropriate action if necessary.
Civilian Passenger Ship Star River
En Route to Onderon
Earnest ignored the collected audience, for the moment, all of his concentration on the three cards in his hand. He had stumbled on a table of Force Sabacc, and instantly joined the game as a dark hand, unable to pass up the opportunity to connect with his as-yet-unmet phyle. The game had gone on longer than usual, and it was down to him and one grimly smiling human who was looking at the randomizer with disapproval. He hoped like hell that wasn’t Kant Lavar – why hadn't he looked up the dossiers of his fellow clan members, again?
"Call." The dealer obediently slipped the fourth and final card to each player. Earnest flipped over the Demise card, and smiled involuntarily. The value of the card brought his hand total to pure dark sabacc. He tried to tamp out his smile, but just widened it. Ridiculous to have a tell be his whole face, but there it was. He flourished his cards onto the table.
Earnest stared at his displayed hand: positive four. He hadn't locked the last card and the randomizer had kicked in after the call, transmuting it to a Master and rendering his hand worthless. Insult to injury, the same shuffle gave his opponent a light sabacc, tossed casually onto the table. He almost hissed in disappointment, but absorbed the blow without a sound as a point of pride. After all, he just might salvage something from this.
"Here's to knowing your battlefield." Earnest's acknowledging nod and raised glass was mirrored with irony. "What's your name? If nothing else, I at least intend to avoid being pitted against you in the upcoming tournament."
Half an hour later, Earnest left Joase at the bar with a promise to call him later. He now had Joase's life story, plans for making it big on Onderon as a technological consultant, and hotel room key. Not a poor result, after all. He just might start intentionally losing games with grace as a basic tactic. The Izzard school of seduction, perhaps. "Oh, what a strong personality that guy has..."
Earnest wove his way through the lounge's retro games, pausing as his gaze was arrested by a man sitting alone, well on his way to annihilating the AI’s forces. The man looked up and gestured him over. "Tyro Earnest, eh? I missed your transfer in, since it overlapped with my leave." A simulated explosion, and the last AI ship flared out. The hologram shimmered, and reset itself to a new game. "Let us discuss tactics. Sit." Earnest followed the emphatic gesture, plunked himself down and eyed his at miniaturized armada doubtfully. Not a good time to try out his new tactic, he suspected.
BAC Creeping Darkness
The shuttle craft slowed as it came towards the Creeping Darkness, the vast ship dwarfing the small shuttle as it made its final approach. The massive gun batteries of the Interdictor looked menacing as they covered the approaching craft. It's engines flared as it came to a hover within the vast hanger bay of the ship, slowly lowering itself to the ground, landing gear appearing out of the structure of the shuttle as it came to a rest. The engines started to crackle as they cooled down, the landing ramp lowered itself to the ground and the hanger rang out with the heavy metallic footsteps that echoed through the large open space as Legorii and Timeros strode down the ramp towards the welcoming party.
An officer walked towards the pair of Dark Jedi and saluted, "Welcome Captain."
"Thank you Ensign, take us to the bridge." Timeros ordered.
Without a word, the two Jedi followed after the meek Ensign, who was fearful of the two Equites.
- - - - - - - - -
Sanguinius slouched in a chair upon the command deck of the Creeping Darkness, a guest aboard the great vessel. He watched as the Sayaikan ordered the naval forces around and DIA agents familiarised themselves with the layout of the vessel.
The Anaxsi grinned as he felt the presence of the two newcomers to the cruiser, the two Krath were strong in the Force, and made no effort to hide their presence. "Looks like they've deigned to join us Etah." Sang told his fellow Aedile as the Galerean came closer to where he sat. Etah simply nodded and awaited the presence of his Quaestor, eager to get this mission underway.
Sanguinius' mind came to wonder what Kant and his boys were up to, Sashar had sent them off on their own little mission, the Aedile wasn't confident that they would succeed, obviously not knowing what Prophecy Phyle was capable of, the Obelisk Knight had always had a poor view of Krath, never really liking them. Scholars and Sorcerors, cowards, unable to fight properly.
That view had changed somewhat during the fight on Antei, being both blessed and cursed to have fought alongside a Krath Elder. Telona Murrage, former Krath High Priestess had been with the young Knight back when he was still a Protector, when they had secured the Triumvirate library, alongside other teams of Dark Jedi. She had been a fierce warrior, saving his life countless times. Sang still looked back on that mission with pride, he had taken a lightsaber on that mission, finishing off the foolish Jedi that the two Dark Siders had encountered.
He was distracted from his thoughts as the two Entars strode onto the bridge, their commanding presence demanding the attention of all on the bridge deck. The Anaxsi got to his feet and walked towards the pair, bowing before his Quaestor, and an Arconan he greatly admired, Timeros Caesus Entar Arconae.
Silence hit the bridge, as all of the men and women there stared at the two Krath, awaiting their orders.
The dark skinned, tattooed, Sakiyan stepped across the deck of the Creeping Darkness, the heels of his boots echoing across the floor. The Aedile decided to forgo his black and gold Shadesworn Robes in favor of rougher garb in support of his cover as a simple pirate. The course trousers and obnoxious tactical vest he now wore, made him look the part of a militant and aggressive amateur, as pirates tended to be, but also made him feel as if he were going to some kind of costume party.
The Krath mused that as mercenaries, Arcona was only a step or two away from piracy. In fact the Arconan Equite wondered idly if that wasn't a career move the Clan of Shadow's should consider. The Hutt Campain wasn't the first mission that put the Clan of Shadow's in the role of mercenaries. Before the Yuuzhan Vong invasion of Antei and Dajorra, the House Galeres traveled outside of Dajorra to the Planet Krant where they hired themselves out to locals in opposition of Vong collaborators, the Peace Brigade.
Etah stood beside his Qel-Droman companion, recently rescued from the furries. Sang was foul-mouthed, obscene, offensive and unapologetic, he fit in well with the Clan of Shadows and made for a good pirate. Etah was quieter but also all those things and of course his Quaestor and Shadesworn Mentor Timeros, was the master of all things ornery. Out of the fearsome foursome; Legorii was the most straitlaced, a fact probably due to his own mentor, Dark Adept Strategos Entar, but is also suitably defiant and unapologetic. 'This mission should be intresting' the Krath Archpriest thought to himself.
"You ready man?" Etah asked Sang.
"You ready?" Sang asked in response.
"Dude you can't answer a question with a question." the Sakiyan admonished, the pair slipping into the back and forth banter they had become accustomed to in the short time since the Knight had transferred into the clan.
"Dude, Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh" Sang shushed his counterpart.
The Archpriest just chuckled and looked to the front "I guess we'll see".
AVG Valour's Fall
“And this is how you pick lock electronic locks.” said Mal, “Now let's get on how to unscrew.”
Maaks replied as energetic as ever, showing he was eager to learn and very excited for his first real mission.
“I'll take over here Mal, you go and prepare your stuff for the data dump.” interrupted Celahir.
As Malidir went to prepare for the mission, Celahir took a seat next to Maaks and showed him the box he took with him.
“How do you think we are going to take this apart” Asked Celahir
“I think we should put a screwdriver in between and use it a wig to open it” Replied Maaks
Celahir smiled at hearing Maaks's first reaction, thinking that this new recruit to soulfire might just prove to be very worthy of being a soulfirian.
“You see Maaks, there are hidden screws on the corners of the upper plate, finding them is the hard part; after that just unscrew them as you would normally” Celahir told the new medic. He was still wondering if it was a good idea to send his medic into the archives, but he didn't have any choice.
“Now I'll leave the unscrewing of this box to you while I gather the crew to get the briefing done and you'll be off on your first mission”. Celahir said while getting up from his chair.
“Erhm, Sir, can I maybe be on your team with this mission” Maaks asked nervously.
“Don't worry, I'll be keeping you on my team” Celahir winked.
An hour later, the members of Soulfire were gathered before him. Malidir sat close to Zandro, the two Erinos conversing quietly in Mando'a. Rho stood at the back of the briefing room, his arms folded across his chest; he hadn't taken to the new Sergeant well. Xar'kahn and Merchant seemed to be engaged in a children's game involving hand signals, Maaks sat at the front near Malidir,but not quite in the Erinos camp Wolvie was, as always, nowhere to be seen.
Celahir cleared his throat and brought up his datapad containing the mission notes.
"Gentlemen. We've been tasked with acquiring a data dump from the archives of Displace Intergalactic, located on Onderon." An image of the planet sprung up behind him on queue, rotating slowly.
"Their compound is adjacent to Iziz city, so we've decided to infiltrate via the City itself and abseil down the walls, however to accomplish this a number of preparatory measures must first be taken.”
While entering something on his datapad, the planet changed into a global map of Iziz City and Displace.
“As expected, the wall is secured by Iziz itself; It's not heavily guarded so it seems it's not hard to infiltrate their wall's security. I'd like to have Archer infiltrate them and get the night shift for two days at the wall adjacent to Iziz. You will be spying on Displace the first night, the second night we will need some distraction to clear the wall from security, this will be done by Zandro,Xar and Wolvie; I'd like you to rob Iziz it's main bank.” This resulted in a slight grin at Xar and Zandro's faces. “Now for the data dump I will take Maaks and Mal with me, we will use zip lines to land on the roof of the archive, where Maaks will go in via an air vent and perform the data dump, being guided by Mal. To be sure this will happen without any complications; Archer will stay on the wall joined by Rho,who will give us cover where needed. I think that's about it, any questions?” Celahir asked.
“Erhm, Sir?” Maaks started when Wolvie entered the room.
“Wolvie, where the hell were you?” Celahir raised his voice over Maaks's.
“Well, I was asleep.” Wolvie answered.
Celahir, knowing how Wolvie was didn't want to make a big fuss out of it. “Zandro, Xar, I will have you inform Wolvie of the briefing when we're done; And Wolvie, don't make it happen again.”
“Yea, Yeah” Wolvie reacted.
“Now, Maaks, you had a question?” Celahir went back to where he left off.
“Well, erhm.” Maaks was very nervous and didn't really feel comfortable with everybody there. “Could you maybe give me some more details on how and or what will be exactly happening?” He ended his question.
“Of course.” Celahir replied, “Everyone, you are dismissed, Maaks you stay here and I will explain the exact mission to you; Mal you can stay if you want, but I figure you prefer and go to prepare yourself?” Celahir asked Mal.
“Good call” Mal replied as he took off to prepare.
The teams had gone. Creeping Darkness was en-route. Ditto for Valour’s Fall. At least two thirds of the Clan’s force users were on assignment, leaving him and precious few others left to defend the homestead. Even Strategos had left the Citadel on an inspection tour of Invicta and Lichtor, the two newest additions to the fleet. There were perhaps half a dozen Force users left in the Citadel, Sashar being included in this. The sun was just rising. He downed another cup of caf that had already gone cold whilst he hacked through report after report and was briefly tempted to order some pastries for breakfast, however his hand hesitated. Something wasn’t right. His hand moved from the comlink on his desk to his lightsaber-
A red and black blur smashed through the viewscreen, all gangly limbs, tattoos and head-tails. It grabbed Sashar by the chest plate of his ever-present armour and yanked him through the viewport.
It was a long drop down from the top of the Citadel’s tower to the plateau below. Nothing to grab hold of this far from the tower proper, and no way to slow his fall. He twisted around to look back towards his office. Perched on the wall like some sort of insect was a male Togruta who had forgone his usual tribal markings in favour of intricate sith tattoos. He grinned mockingly at the mandalorian, then started a leisurely descent. Sashar glared pure hate at the being and his free hand went to his T-6 Thunderer. He took aim and fired a trio of shots. The Togruta’s lightsaber came up just in time and batted the overpowered bolts away – those that came near enough to be a threat. Sashar’s aim wasn’t purely on the nonhuman. A pipe next to the sith was punctured and the blast of steam that issued forth unbalanced him. He bit back a curse as he slipped and fell, however a set of climbing claws dug deep furrows into the pristine surface. His descent was safe, it seemed.
Speaking of which...
Sashar let go of his blaster and yanked a weapon from his right boot; a Noghri sickle he’d earned for mastering Stava with the diminutive assassins. The Consul then yanked a thin chord of almost-invisible wire from his belt and swiftly secured it to the sickle. The ground was coming up dangerously quickly. With a force-augmented throw, he loosed the sickle, which stabbed deep into the smooth stone wall of the Citadel Tower. The line went taut and Sashar’s momentum shifted. The parabolic arced around and Sashar smashed into the wall instead of the floor, only meters from the ground. Something gave way in his chest and he wheezed in pain, but still severed the cord and dropped the short distance, landing on his feet.
He cursed leaving his comlink on his desk along with his helmet, however a pair of sentries that had been guarding the main entrance jogged over.
“Lord Consul! Are you ok?” One asked, his blaster out, scanning for a threat.
Sashar grimaced as he tried to rise up to his full height. “Sound the general alarm. We have an intruder in the Citadel. Lock the whole place down, get me some di’kutla troops down here and call the Proconsul. Any and all Dark Jedi still in Estle city are to report to the Citadel immediately.” He ordered tersely, his lightsaber in hand.
The two troops from the 1st Heavy Infantry never got a chance to carry out their orders. That fiendishly fast Togruta landed on one, his feet crushing the officer with a comlink in his hand, and a red blade sent the other’s head spinning off into the dawn sky. The shoto caught the next swing in a laboured Djem-so parry which the Consul used to put a bit of distance between him and his adversary, but he needn’t have bothered.
Analysis: I’m down two weapons, haven’t rested and have a broken rib. Maybe two. My adversary is faster than me, presumably has the advantage of preparing the terrain and is of unknown strength. Reinforcements will be forthcoming, but they’ll take time, so best not to enter them into calculations. An effective defence is out of the question, as my soresu has suffered recently. I need room and time to regroup, which means a barrier or distraction. The sickle.
He deflected another pair of blows with his shoto, each barely catching the aggressive Vapaad swings from the red-skinned being, but compensated by grabbing his sickle, still embedded into the wall. It resisted at first, but then slid out of the fracture and shot towards the Togruta, spinning as it went, the microline wire trailing behind it like a comet’s tail. The sith sensed the attack coming and twisted to avoid it, momentarily stalling his assault. Sashar dived to one side, rolling as he went. The pain spiked through him once more as his body contorted but he shunted it aside and ran healing energies through his midsection, numbing the area’s pain receptors, then turned his attention back to his adversary.
He was mid-swing towards the Consul’s midsection. The saber came up in a parry that caught the sith off-guard and he staggered slightly, giving Sashar time to pop his shoto up and catch it in a reverse grip.
“My turn, you little di’kut.” He growled, and then waded in.
A flurry of slashes, stabs and punch/kick combos ensued, which the Sith was most assuredly not expected. He back-pedalled and retreated, not bothering with taunts or flashy displays of ability: all his focus was on establishing a defence. Likewise, Sashar’s focus was entirely directed on his assault, so much so that he never noticed another assassin approaching from behind. The needle jabbed into his back and he staggered, his attack stalling. His hand went to the back of his neck, feeling for the needle, but it was already gone. Shakily, he turned, his visage a mask of disbelief. Standing behind him was a shadow. No, not a shadow. A short, stocky being with long arms, light-absorbing fur and a red visor. Sashar’s expression changed subtley from shock to disgust. He had been approached from behind and not sensed his own demise at the hands of a mere Defel because he’d let emotions cloud his combat – something he almost never did.
He dropped his saber as the numbing poison spread through his circulatory system and he lost control of his motor functions, however the Togruta stopped him. He pulled one of the Consul’s arms over his own and dragged him to the edge of the plateau. Without so much as a word to fanfare Sashar’s death, he threw the failing body over the edge.
Mejas Doto’s eyes snapped open. Something had changed. He immediately stretched out with his feelings and felt nothing out of the ordinary in his immediate vicinity-
He sat bolt upright, his hands darting to his neck. There was no beskar shock collar. The skin was soft where it had been, but no longer was the force restricting collar strapped to him. Sashar’s masterpiece creation had been a formidable way of controlling the mad Dark Jedi Master and assuming control of his clan...but inexplicably, it had been removed. Lorden’s leering face immediately came to mind, but he angrily pushed it away – this was the work of the force; not some lackey.
Without the collar, he had a lot of work to do.
Xuthen was into the Consul’s office mere moments after she heard the ruckus, her lightsaber in hand. The window was smashed and the sunrise just peaked over the horizon as she took in the scene. Sashar’s helmet and comlink were next to each other on his desk and she could already hear the sounds of combat far below. She glanced briefly through the window and saw Sashar fighting another lightsaber-wielding opponent (she had no idea how he’d gotten down from the tower without killing himself), but she had to do something. The force rippled briefly as she called the comlink from the desk to her hand and flicked it immediately onto the Proconsul’s channel.
“Sir, you need to get back to the City immediately. The Consul is currently under attack.”
There’d been some commotion at the pinnacle of Estle City, in the Citadel. LAAT/i gunships buzzed over the streets of the city and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Light Infantry Brigades were all out, combing the streets for something. Mejas had already heard from sources still loyal to him in the Citadel that the Consul had been assassinated by unknown sith. No clan had yet claimed credit, nor had anyone from inside the clan. However, this was his chance. He had to beat Strategos to the Citadel, though. He marched through the streets flanked by Lantano Sarutobi and a dozen Deep Assault Recon Troopers, sent from the 1st DART brigade aboard the Eye of the Abyss. General Milner and the DARTs in the Flagships’ troop division had already seized control of the Star Destroyer, and Commodore Sulaco had been forced to initiate a comm. Blackout in the Dajorra Defence force until he heard from the Citadel. Similarly, the fighters from the flagship had been ordered to shoot down any ships that approached the planet without the Citadel’s explicit authorisation. No word had yet been sent to the forces of the AEF or the clansmen out on assignment.
He climbed the last level of stairs and grinned slightly as he sighted about a dozen Dark Jedi standing in an arc, the Citadel far behind them. He recognised a few faces as those of Xathia, a former Quaestor, Xuthen, the Consul’s attaché and Vassan Rokir, the de-facto historian of the clan. The rest were Knights who had only recently earned their sabers.
He breathed in slightly as they activated their sabers in unison, then raised his arms and a crack of thunder echoed over the plateau, reverberating off the Tower itself. Force Lightning ripped through the Dark Jedi, and only the three Equites were left standing and alive. Mejas grinned tightly to himself and drew Bloodfang. The staff burst to life and Mejas waded in. The 3 on 1 fight was short and stunted – all three of the opponents were left writhing on the floor with burn marks on their limbs and torsos.
As Mejas set off once more, the DARTs stepped over the downed Dark Jedi, following in the Shadow Lord’s wake, however they weren’t necessary. The Citadel Guard didn’t try to stop the Zabrak; they couldn’t hope to fight him anyway, plus he might have needed them if he succeeded.
Strategos’s shuttle was prevented from landing for almost three quarters of an hour, during which time the Proconsul was ready to punch a hole in the hull of the craft. When he was finally permitted to land, he was directed to the plateau at the base of the Citadel. At the bottom of the boarding ramp was a DART Waymaster, who escorted him without a word to the throne room. As he approached the Citadel tower, his eyes were drawn to the still-broken window from the Consul’s office. There’d been no direct word from Sashar, and it was unusual for him to send a DART not on his personal staff to meet him. The sinking feeling got worse as they entered the Citadel. The lights had been dimmed, and there was an all-too- familiar aura emanating from every single member of staff in the place – abject fear.
His feelings were confirmed when he reached the Throne Room and saw a blue-skinned, hooded Zabrak sitting in the Serpentine Throne, his sharpened teeth glimmering in the torchlight.
“Strategos, di Tenebrous Arconae.” Mejas grated out, his head raising slightly so he could see him properly. “I need you to travel out to Onderon with the Invicta and let the rest of the Clan know who their new Consul is. Monitor their efforts and recall them all once their current missions are completed.”
The Entar, to his credit, didn’t stand there slack-jawed. He nodded once, curtly in greeting, then spoke up in return. “And Sashar’s fate?”
“He threw himself from his office window early this morning. I imagine the pressures of office got to my former Protégé. Maybe you’ll prove to have more stamina.” He grinned slightly.
“...I’ll get on with it straight away, Lord Consul.” He said, bowing the minimum amount required to denote respect.
“Oh, and send in Commodore Sulaco on your way out.”
Arconan Citadel level - outer rim.
On a plateau, with the citadel in the background, thirteen bodies lay scattered in a circle. In the center, three equities, heavily scarred, lay motionless. The quiet was disturbed only by chirping sounds from local insects, ships flying over the city, and distant sounds of the city below.
The attentive eye could see movement among the bodies. A gasp for air, an eye blinking slowly, an index finger flexing. The three equities were alive, but struggling to do so.
Staring up at the sky from the plateau, Xuthen drifted in and out of consciousness.
The burns on her back were not serious, but the gash in her right arm was. The most invalidating had been the force lightning before the fight. It sure had some interesting effects. Apparently it hadn’t killed them immediately, but it slowed down the healing process considerably. It felt like a bad hangover. Besides, it had ruined her hair. Xuthen chuckled, coughing up blood from her charred lungs. Xuthen averted her attention to her surroundings.
The epis next to her blinked slowly, his leg in an awkward position. The priest, Xathia, lay further away. She was obviously struggling, but her life signs were gaining strength. They would live. It only…took……time…..
Xuthen’s mind faded out.
When she opened her eyes, Selen’s sun stood high above them. The chirping had stopped, but the sounds from Selen City had increased.
Xuthen dreamily considered the events of the past hours. Seeing Mejas certainly was a surprise. She fondly remembered her formal consul. Who would have been mad enough to remove that collar? Certainly not someone who realized the consequences. It was obvious that Mejas had regained all his powers and had been happy about it.
They never stood a chance.
Xuthen frowned. What would happen to her fellow clansmen? Worse yet, what had already happened? Just as she tried the use of her legs, a hatch on the platform opened, and two guards stepped out. Xuthen sensed Vassan and Xathia’s focused attention. They kept dead still.
Playing dead, Xuthen realised, was probably the best thing to do for now. Last she saw, Sashar had been fighting, and Strategos had not yet responded to her alert. Then again, both her and Sashar’s comlink had been rendered useless by the force lightning.
But surely, if Sashar’s reign would still stand, they would not have sent some ordinary guards. Mejas either assumed they were dead, or did not care. Best to keep it that way.
These were ordinary Selenians. They would not know where to look for life signs.
“Aw man”, one of the guards said in disgust, ”some of them are just children!”
“Shut up and follow the Consul’s orders,” the other one grumbled, “You grab the feet.”
“It’s just wrong if them’s making youngins vulture feed, tha’s all”, the first guard mumbled.
Xuthen heard the sounds of shuffling feet, bodies being dragged and robes rushing as the bodies were flung over the edge. Having disposed of the knights that had been nearer to the edge, the guards neared the equities.
“Ewww, dude, look at this jab. It’s oozing!” the guard prodded Xuthen’s arm with his foot. Xuthen held her breath and stared upwards.
Silently, the other guard walked over, grabbed Vassans feet, and dragged him away. Xuthen felt her feet being grabbed and felt the cold stone sliding under her. Keeping her body lifeless, she was pushed over the edge, falling towards the darkness below.
Xuthen landed softly on her feet, the strain on her ankles reduced by the torso of a knight. She felt her entire body complaining, and her arm throbbing as she turned around. She stared into the eyes of Vassan, who grimaced as he was standing up. In one swift motion, the two Jedi looked up and caught Xathia as she was falling towards them. Hidden in the shadows they kept dead still as they sensed one of the guards looking over the edge.
Feeling each other’s pain and anger, they started moving soundlessly through the steep gorges.
Earnest leaned into the shade of the decorative arch and eyed the Merchant Quarter below. The morning sun had not yet reached the streets below, but was blinding on the sky ramp. The Quarter stretched as far as he could see in either direction, even from his high vantage. Scattered throughout the labyrinthine streets were cages of Drexl, given wide berths by the natives. The scale of architecture was astounding, apparently designed to accommodate the twenty meter wingspan of the native mounts... which was pretty baffling, given the history of the planet.
The Dark Jedi glanced at his watch. Kant had given him a secured comlink, a section of the city to canvas, and carte blanche - if the warning "Use your head or lose your ass" counted, anyway. In a few moments, he would find out which he was doing. While on Star River, he had run across Joase. Undoubtedly brilliant, and incredibly naive... Joase would be a perfect member to add to any clandestine lab: a savant who only asks questions to solve the problems given to him.
The holomap in his hands blinked, tracking his stalking goat reporting to his first day of work. The combination tracker and transmitter was working beautifully. Technology was wonderful; the entire package was smaller than a grain of rice. A well-timed nip on the ear to plant the device, a caress of the tongue to ensure it was secured, and he had the perfect, unwitting spy.
Earnest idly walked down the ramp and into the quarter, making notes as the information began trickling in: company name, command structure, Joase's primary assignment. The Jedi Hunter stopped dead in the street at the last. The young "Technological Consultant" was to head up research on how to exploit the difference in the Vong physiology and create molecular damage through resonance. Annnnd... time to report a definite subsidiary of Displace Intergalactic. Oh yes.
Tempting as it was to keep his connection live, Joase had no chance of passing a counterintelligence scan. Earnest took the tracking device offline, carefully saving the route and destination. The details of the project would have to wait. Earnest plucked the receiver off of his ear and casually tossed it into a Drexl cage as he passed. The beast snapped the item out of the air in sheer reflex, destroying the link.
Whistling, Earnest sauntered off to make his report.
The former Citadel, shaped more like a ziggurat than a military structure, had housed many, many defences. It boasted a shield generator strong enough to deflect any bombardment, numerous turbolaser batteries, scores of troops who would gladly give their lives for its protection, however the most elaborate defence (and memorable) were the pair of Krite Dragons Mejas Doto had bent to his will and kept as a last reserve. They had both been killed in action defending the Citadel the first time. Sashar had quietly had another pair of beasts captured and moved to a cavernous secret chamber below the citadel proper, with their only egress being carved into the cliff-side directly below the plateau. These were smaller, easier to control for a neophyte to the upper echeleons of the force such as himself, however no less deadly, when applied properly. They were Drexls.
The only way Mejas had been able to control the titanic beasts was through the Serpentine Throne – powerful force artefact that almost possessed a sentience of its own, only accepting the rightful Consul to sit upon it. The throne was also said to amplify the Consul’s ability to touch minds of every clansmen in the system. That was a well-maintained myth, held in place by every Consul that had ever set on the Serpentine Throne. True, it was a Sith artefact of great power – it did possess the spirit of a fallen Sith lord, and helped amplify and augment the Consul’s ability to control and persuade minds to their will; the power was not just specific to Arconan clansmen. It was through this connection that Sashar reached out, his body failing him, and begged the Throne’s favour in calling forth one of the two Drexl. The throne considered this as Sashar plummeted, then grudgingly accepted, not yet willing to allow cosmic dice decide who controlled it, no...him, if Sashar died.
From the depths of the beast’s chamber, a blurred black creature shot out and into the early morning air. It tucked its leathery wings in and shot past Sashar’s freefall, then grasped him in its massive talons as if he was one of the Drexls’ own brood. He didn’t even feel the massive digits envelop him, but he did see the angle of the sky abruptly fall. There was a crack of air about him as the huge wings flapped once, twice, then they were heading back up the side of the cliff. A second later they were in the enclosure, and Sashar was placed almost gently into the beast’s straw nest, his body still unmoving, but his mind screaming in impotent rage. Then, something subtle in the force changed. A presence he hadn’t felt in two years shifted, stirred, and awoke unbridled. Mejas Doto was unleashed.
Oh of all the bad timing for him to get free...too much bad luck at once. This is all connected.
Sashar instantly shut down his force use and hoped he didn’t need to maintain a constant link to the Throne for the dragon not to decide he was edible.
Analysis: I can’t move, and can’t use the force to now heal myself in case Mejas feels me in the force and thinks I’m still alive, as he doubtlessly planned this hit. Presuming it’s just a poison that temporarily immobilises me and doesn’t kill me, I just need to wait for it to work itself out of my system and hope that nobody saw the drexl, the drexl doesn’t decide I’m edible, the poison isn’t lethal, and I don’t starve to death while I’m waiting to regain my movement. In the mean time...slice help the clan.
With a gnawing reluctance, Sashar placed himself in a hibernation trance.
Timeros Entar spared a look at Legorii, stood beside him. Both stood on the catwalk of the bridge of Creeping Darkness, staring out at the swirling blue singularity of Hyperspace. Whilst they were both members of the same family, they looked nothing alike, one with raven black hair, the other almost platinum blond. However, their attire was similar, and completely out of character for both: that of a career pirate that had done well and chosen to display said wealth with extravagant roguish clothing, and prominently displayed blasters slung low on their hips.
“One minute, sir.” The clipped, precise voice of the helmsman called out.
Timeros’s chin dropped for a second, his frown intensified. Catching the subtle move in the reflection, Legorii half-turned towards him.
“Something wrong?” he murmured.
“There’s a tingling just behind my eyes... like the change in air pressure just before a storm.”
Legorii chuckled slightly. “Trap?”
“Trap.” Timeros agreed, glancing back down the catwalk.
“Captain Lauraugina, be prepared for a warm reception. Get the gunnery crews to their stations and get the Navicomp plotting us the second easiest course out of the system.” The Epis ordered.
“Understood, sir.” She didn’t bother to question him; the Dajorra Retake had shown her to trust force users; they could be arrogant, self-important head cases, but they were rarely wrong on their hunches.
“Why the second-easiest?” Legorii asked.
The other Quaestor smiled slightly. “If I were planning an ambush, I’d also plant forces on the easiest escape route, so that they couldn’t hop back into Hyperspace. Hem them in, so to speak.”
“Fifteen seconds.” The helm officer called out.
“I can feel it too.” Legorii said, placing both hands on the guide rail in preparation.
The seconds ticked past inexorably and then that tunnel of light abruptly changed into the speckled darkness, much of Onderon and Dxun filling the viewscreen-
And no less than two dozen Marauder Corvettes, over one hundred fighters, and a pair of Nebulon-B2 Frigades between them and the planet.
“Raise Shields! Turn us about!” The Captain shouted, turning back from the viewscreen, facing the crew pit.
Timeros and Legorii, knowing that they’d muddy the chain of command, contented themselves by turning back and watching the green turbolaser bolts fly in towards them, most causing blue ripples and shimmers over Creeping Darkness’ shields.
“Sound out what we have, Tooms.” She said, standing over the sensor operator.
His hands danced over the console, slowing down the aurubesh scrolling too fast to read.
“Sixteen Marauder-class Corvettes, their Designations Displace one through sixteen. Twelve in a crescent formation before us, four behind blocking our exit. Three Nebulon-B2 Frigates, designations Garrett, Ardent and Nightwatch. Two before, one behind. I’m also reading a myriad of fighters – we’re still counting them, but we’re looking at Manta¬-class Starfighters. At least a hundred.”
“Not worth launching our fighters then. How’s that exit course looking, Lieutenant?” She turned to her navigator, stumbling slightly as another turbolaser blast cut through the shields.
He glanced up and shook his head. “At least two minutes, and our course will take us straight past the Neb behind us. With the amount of fire they’re lacing into us, we’ll be riddled before we can get to a position ready to jump.”
The Captain glared at him. “Thank you for your concise tactical evaluation of the situation, Lieutenant, I’d never have worked that out alone.” She turned to Timeros and Legorii. “If you’ve got any ideas or magic solution, now’s the time.”
Neither responded. Both had their eyes closed, heads bowed.
“Don’t disturb them, just carry on. They’re doing their part.” Etah said into the Captain’s ear, scaring her half to death.
“What do you mean?” She managed, cursing herself for jumping.
“Legorii and Sang are melding in the force, co-ordinating the gunnery fire. Sang’s down in one of the gun turrets. And Timeros will be probing the force for a quick way out of here.”
Emilie chuckled despite herself. “Gotta love force multipliers.”
Archer shivered despite himself. He’d been stood in the same position for nearly an hour now, watching three zip lines and making sure none of Iziz Palace security stumbled across his team-mates’ efforts. A few kilometres away he could hear Xar, Zandro and Wolv’s comlink chatter through a hidden comlink bead in his ear and he envied them. They were in the middle of breaking into a vault and robbing the place blind, and were making a mess of it. Of course, that was the plan: they needed to draw as much attention as possible away from the walls. They sounded like they were having one hell of a good time.
On a different channel, Malidir was walking Maaks through the data dump. It was slow going. Even if Maaks had received the complete training required, gathering the information required by their Consul would take time, and standing around looking shifty wasn’t Merchant’s idea of a good time. His pulse quickened as he heard a pair of footsteps approaching. He glanced to his left and suppressed the urge to curse when he sighted the shift officer and another guardsman approaching him.
“It said on your resume that you’d had previous experience.” The officer began, coming to a halt mere meters from the commando-in-disguise. “Experience in patrol and general security. So you should know that standing in one spot all evening is not an effective patrol method.”
“I figure this spot gives me the best vantage point across the entire wall, sir.” He replied, unmoving. If he stepped to the side, the grapple attachments for the zip lines would be immediately visible.
“I don’t care what your simple little brain ‘figures’, Get your ass moving now!”
Archer sighed and raised his hands into the air.
“What are you-“ A pop sounded out briefly as a silent projectile round made the Shift Officer’s head explode, and a similar shot dropped his colleague a moment later. Archer looked about to make sure nobody else had seen or heard anything, then said quietly “Thanks, Rho.” To his team mate and squad sniper, who was secreted atop a watch tower half a kilometre away.
“One, we’re humped. We have maybe five minutes before they start asking questions, and there’s blood all over the walkway.” Merchant continued as he hauled the two corpses over the edge of the wall and dropped them down into the Displace compound below.
“Copy that Five, Abort signal. Seven, stop playing with the natives and secure us an exit.” Celahir ordered from below in the Displace Compound, briefly scanning the rooftops for any sign of discovery.
“Understood, One. We’re on our way to the primary exfil now. See ya on the flip side.” Zandro replied, the muted sound of police sirens coming over the comlink.
“One, we have a problem.” Malidir said shortly, flicking onto the main squad frequency.
Maaks swore quietly, eloquently to himself. Clad only in the undersuit for the Soulfire armour and sans a helmet, his visor had been modified with POV cameras so that Malidir could monitor what he was doing, as well as a two-way comlink. It had been necessary to forego the armour plating so that he could fit down the vent shaft – indeed he was the only member of the squad small enough to squeeze down, and even that was a close thing. Malidir’s careful ministrations with Displaces’ electronicy security had been thorough – the cameras and pressure sensors had been disabled, and no automated flags had been raised...until now.
He crouched before the mainframe computer, the terminal flickering with information as the virus Malidir had programmed went to work, but he could not move. On either side of the aisle of supercomputers were cameras that had just come back to life – a backup security countermeasure, presumably.
“You see that?” Maaks whispered.
“Hold for eight more seconds, then pull out the shunt.” He responded, sounding cool and calm as ever.
The Miraluka waited the allotted time, then reached above him and pulled out the data shunt just as its light flicked green, indicating a successful transfer.
“If I move, the cameras will see me. I can’t make it back to the top of that kernel and to the vent without raising an alarm.”
“I know, kid. Slice, I wish Sashar was here to deal with this – he wouldn’t have tripped a silent alarm. Mind you, I was pretty sure we didn’t either. Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do. You hold position there for a moment and report any changes. I’m going to try and momentarily disable one of the cameras, giving you some breathing room. Oh and try not to shift weight from one leg to the other, the pressure pads could also be active.”
Inside, Celahir was kicking himself. His first mission, and it was a botch. They’d been discovered, and there was a chance that their efforts could be traced back to Arcona. He was instantly glad that the battle meld wasn’t active – Malidir’s concentration was fully on disabling the security, and he didn’t have the focus necessary to maintain the meld whilst also pulling off no mean feat of electronic wizardry. Struggling to rein in his feeling, he chose to direct his attention below, into the archives building they were currently standing atop. He frowned. The Jedi Hunter’s connection to the force was even weaker than Malidir’s, however even a rookie Jedi would be able to sense the presence of people within fifty meters. There was nobody living in there.
There should be at least a few security guards and technicians, even at this time of night, unless...
“Soulfire, this is a trap. They knew we were coming. Six, get to the vent now. Two, pull him up.” He ordered, unslinging his rifle and sweeping it around, searching for the snipers he knew would be out there in the darkness.
Maaks didn’t question his orders. In one smooth motion he stood, pocketing the data shunt in the process and pushed off the mainframe tower. His force-enhanced agility helped him onto the opposite tower and he hopped from one to the other, his visor fixed on the ventilation hatch, a rope and harness hanging down from it. The lights in the room sprung on and from both entrances an E522 Assassin droid entered, raising their arms in preparation to fire.
“Shab Shab Shab!” Maaks shouted in a panic as he dived, his arms outstretched until he grasped the harness, letting his momentum pivot him around and up, slamming into the ceiling.
“PULL!” he shouted as the blaster bolts burned around him, blackening the ceiling.
Malidir didn’t need to be told twice. The force surged through him, strengthening him, making him ignore the inhuman speed at which he worked, yanking Maaks back up with the tenacity of a pressurised engine. In seconds, the Miraluka practically flew from the vent, looking shaken. He’d received two blaster shots to his right leg, and didn’t seem able to support his weight.
“Shab! Are you ok?” Celahir asked, kneeling beside the Protector.
“Don’t think I can walk, Sir.” He managed, obviously running through a variety of force healing techniques to numb the pain.
The newly minted Sergeant looked pained. He’d sent his newest, greenest member into the most direct danger, and as a result he was now injured. Not only did he feel guilty for endangering Maaks, but there was also the added problem of getting him out of harm’s way when his mobility was compromised.
“I got him.” Malidir said gruffly and unstrapped his communication-pack. He then strapped Maaks to his back, so that the pair were back-to-back and pulled a grenade from his belt. He dropped it next to the comm.-pack and started off at a jog hunched over, looking rather comical. Celahir moved next to him, his rifle still up, shouting orders into the squad frequency.
“Six is injured. We’ll be slowed down. Three, how does it look in the city proper?” Celahir asked Rho as the grenade behind them exploded, slagging the communications gear beyond any hope of recognition.
“All’s quiet. Too quiet, considering there’s a bank job underway a few blocks away. They’re up to something.” He answered in accented basic.
“Keep your eyes peeled. Five, the view from the wall?”
Merchant’s voice came back strained. “Under fire. Could use some help, I’ve got next to no cover up here, and their di’kutla rifles are useless.”
“You reckon you can hold for two minutes while we scale the wall?”
“NADE!” He shouted in response. A moment later, an explosion rocked the wall, and the three zip lines plummeted, their purchase on the wall now gone.
“Five! Report!” Celahir shouted, worry spiking once again.
“He’s okay, Lead. He’s up and moving, I’m covering him. Your egress is down though; you’ll need to find an alternative route.” Rho reported in. A couple of corpses fell down after the zip lines, their neat heatshots a testament to the Nagai’s proficiency with his Verpine Projectile Rifle.
“Which way, boss?” Malidir asked, pausing and looking around.
“Shields down!”The tactical officer shouted as yet another explosion rocked the Creeping Darkness.
“Captain! Forget the navi-comp! Blind jump it!” Legorii suggested, stumbling slightly as the ship rocked.
“Agreed, we’re not going to last otherwise.” Timeros seconded, his glacial calm ever so slightly ruffled.
She looked at both of them, gauging their seriousness, then turned to the Helmsman and nodded. His lips compressed to thin lines, but he obeyed and pulled the hyperspace levers. The stars elongated abruptly and the Creeping Darkness shot into hyperspace like a wounded bantha. A tense minute followed as the bridge crew collectively held their breath, hoping against hope that they wouldn’t plough through a star or into a planet.
“Okay, drop us out.” She finally said.
The helmsman obeyed, and realspace welcomed them.
“Tooms?” She queried, glancing at her sensor operator.
“Nothing in our immediate vicinity. No ships, no gravity wells, no space objects. We’re in the clear. It’ll take a few minutes to calculate exactly where we are.”
Lauraugina sighed quietly, closing her eyes for a moment.
“Captain! Priority communiqué coming in from the Invicta! It’s Master Entar.” Her Rodese communications officer shouted out.
“On screen.” Timeros snapped before Emilie could answer.
Strategos’s sombre face appeared on the main viewport.
“Gentles, I have some bad news.”
Celahir’s team had a good head-start on the Displace mercenaries, however moving through a [highly hostile jungle environment on foot with only urban gear and one injured member was not fast going. They were losing ground and they knew it. Abruptly, the jungle thinned and they reached a rocky clearing.
“Mal, you sense any predators?” Celahir asked, breathing heavily.
“Nope. What about you, kid?” the Prelate asked over his shoulder.
“I don’t see anything.” He answered quietly.
“Right. We’ll hold here. Put him down on top of the little cliff and start shifting trees into a barricade. Let’s make this area as defensible as possible.” The kiffar-turned-mandalorian ordered, suiting action to words by activating his lightsaber and making a few cuts through the nearest, largest trees, felling them. A few more slashes and the smaller branches were removed, granting them a decent amount of cover. Above, Malidir was doing the same, making sure Maaks had the maximum amount of cover available.
“Sun’s due to come up soon, Sarge.” He grunted as he grasped a log telekinetically and dropped it in place.
“Give me your proton ‘nade, Sarge. I’ll lay a couple of traps back the way we came.” Malidir suggested, hopping back down to join Celahir. In the distance, the sound of advancing troops was becoming louder and louder.
The Hunter obliged and handed him the proton charge. A moment later, Malidir had disappeared.
“You reckon we’re gonna make it out alive?” Maaks asked Celahir quietly, his SSK-7 pistol in hand.
“Trust your squad-mates, Maxi.” The kiffar replied with a grin, hoping to inject some confidence into the junior member of Soulfire.
Malidir reappeared a moment later and hopped over the barricade, snatching his rifle out of the air as Celahir threw it back to him. He landed heavily and took aim back the way he came, settling into the familiar drill of picking off targets at the range.
Then they came. At first, a pair of akk hounds burst through the undergrowth, their massive armoured hides glistening with morning dew. A frag grenade apiece made short work of the tracking-dogs, easily the size of a landspeeder. Then the troops emerged. They wore jungle camouflage and threw a series of grenades of their own in advance, but Maaks redirected each of them back, taking out the first line without a shot being fired. Still they came, now firing indiscriminately. Celahir and Malidir returned stuttered fire, letting the force guide their aim, prompting them to duck when fire started chewing too deeply into their cover.
Maaks added his own fire with his pistol to the mix, but mostly acted as a spotter for the besieged squad, alerting the two Erinos if any of the Displace forces tried to outflank them. Then a roar tore through the jungle and a blur tore through three of the Displace rear line, spraying blood across the greenery.
“Wayii! What the hell was that?” Celahir shouted, pausing to try and get a positive HUD lock on the fast-moving large object moving forward.
“A double-edged sword.” Malidir growled and opened fire on the beast as it burst into the clearing, roaring a challenge. It was easily three times the size of the Prelate, was covered in coiled muscles and a pair of powerful arms sported talons the size of Celahir’s arms. The beast’s head was horned, spiked, beaked and a nightmare to regard, and a pair of wings on its back blotted out the morning sun.
The numerous blaster bolts that burned into it from both the panicked Displace Mercs and Soulfire’s remnant barely even scratched the beast, and it turned its attention once again behind it, scything a hand through the mercenaries with a careless disdain that belied a predator’s pride.
“Oooooooh Shab.” Maaks muttered as it turned back to the Soulfirians, satisfied that the mercenaries posed no further threat.
“Copaani gaan?” A voice came over the helmet comlinks and Celahir could’ve cried.
The distant thrum of repulsorlift engines got progressively louder, distracting the huge beast before them until it swooped around and down into the clearing, the composite beam lasers cutting a beautiful line through the surrounding trees, giving the LAAT/i room to move. This LAAT/i - Soulfire’s own – had been nicknamed the Drexl by the commandoes, and despite being painted matte black to aid in nighttime insertions, some clown had still found the time to stencil a tooth-filled mouth and eyes onto the front of the craft in dark grey. One Drexl faced down another. The beast seemed to consider the LAAT/i hovering before it for a moment before howling once more, and lunging at the craft. Both composite lasers locked onto it and cut the wings to shreds, the namesake dropping the beast before it could land a taloned hand on the cockpit. Then, the rest of soulfire poured out. Zandro landed next to Maaks and helped him stand, wielding his rifle one-handed, whilst Rho and Wolv landed flanking Celahir. Xar’kahn, displaying an uncharacteristic flashy streak, decided to jump down directly onto the log barricade and raised his Plex launcher up, grinning wolfishly inside his helmet. He sighted the huge beast and let loose a single chip at it. The resulting explosion was...messy.
“Let’s go!” Celahir ordered sharply and suited action to words by grabbing onto the zipline and swiftly ascending the rope.
Moments later, they were in the air once more, skimming over the jungle away from Iziz City, staring over a glorious sunrise. Whilst the medical droid tended to Maaks, Celahir pulled off his helmet, grinning despite himself, high on adrenaline.
“Thanks for the rescue, vode. What’s the situation?” He asked, trying to ignore the shaking from an adrenaline let down.
“We got away cleanly. The Drexl shot up the ATC centre on the way to pick us up so they’d have a hard time mobilising fighter support, and we have maybe twenty million in untraceable high denomination chips at the back there.” Zandro jerked his thumb over his shoulder at a set of neatly stacked crates.
“I was able to slip away after those ‘nade blasts and regroup with the others-“ Archer was cut off when a beeping from all the wrist comlinks chimed in.
“Gentlemen, return to the Valour’s Fall immediately. We’ve had a recall issued from the Invicta.” Captain Yamato informed them, sounding grave.
Celahir glanced towards the pilot’s section of the gunship. “You heard the man, snap to.”
Most of the clan had gathered in the main hangar of the NSD Invicta, still a virgin to combat, to hear Strategos’s announcement. The upper summit had already been informed, however they were also present, if for nothing else but to gauge the reactions of their members.
“Gentlebeings, I have the sad duty of reporting to you the death of our Lord Consul, Sashar Arconae. He had been feeling pressured by the responsibility of his position for a while now, and chose to take his own life by throwing himself from his office window yesterday morning. In his place, Master Mejas Doto has taken the throne and is our new Lord Consul. He has requested the entire clan be present for his inaugural speech tomorrow, when we return.”
Several of the faces displayed shock, however most were a picture of disbelief. Notably, the Erinos in the clan.
“Forgive my impudence, Proconsul, but are we to believe that Sashar committed suicide?! Zandro sounded understandably incredulous.
“The new Consul told me himself.” Strategos replied diplomatically.
There were no cheers of joy for the return of Mejas Doto, in fact the now sombre houses broke up into groups and separated. Curiously, Earnest chose to follow the Soulfire squad.
Malidir marched ahead of the others and chose a pilot’s ready room, already occupied.
“Out.” He said dully, glancing up from under his shaggy, unkempt bird’s nest of hair.
“But this is our briefi-“
“NOW.” He raised his voice, amplifying it with the force and the half a dozen pilots fled out without another word.
Zandro grinned and patted his brother on the shoulder as he walked past, then sat down in one of the still-warm chairs.
As soon as everyone else was inside and the doors were locked, he spoke. “He’s not dead. I’d have felt it in the force if he died.”
“Yeah. Which means, Mejas either has him locked up somewhere and performed a quiet little coup, or Sashar escaped the assassination attempt.” Celahir concluded.
“Who was left in-system, loyal to Mejas, that could actually pull off an assassination attempt on the Consul, though?” Rho asked, frowning. He’d never liked Sashar, however he knew how dangerous the Primarch was – not everyone made it to Consul.
“There’s nobody on the clan roster other than Strategos or Mejas himself that could challenge him. Strategos would much prefer to work for Sashar than Mejas, so he’s out, and Mejas would never overtly challenge Sashar – slice, he couldn’t with that collar we slapped on him.” Zandro pointed out thoughtfully.
“So, a member of another clan?” Archer surmised.
“No. Mejas lost all support from the other clans during the latter stages of his reign. That’s why Sashar wasn’t punished for usurping him – even the DC didn’t want Mejas in control of a clan. You can count out external-clan intervention.” Zandro replied.
“Not so fast.” A new voice joined the debate; soft, languid. “You’re all assuming it’s internal DB politics – that someone from inside the Brotherhood wants Sashar dead, yet with a few notable exceptions, he was fairly popular as I understood it. The DC liked him for his ability to get the Clan to work together and patch up the political messes that his predecessor left. The other Consuls, for the most part, had no problem with him, as he controlled the Clan if there were any fracas. None of his more vocal supporters had the political clout to try something this obvious. However, there are other organisations outside the Brotherhood.” Earnest concluded, smiling slightly.
“Who asked you?” Celahir retorted, glaring.
Earnest’s smile broadened by way of reply, but he kept quiet and his eyes didn’t leave the Kiffar’s.
Rho decided to steer the conversation back to the point at hand. “He’s right. We’re sent to try and take out a rival organisation that springs up out of nowhere with seemingly limitless funding – this kind of thing just doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an awfully big coincidence that a new threat presents itself, so the clan rallies to face it, and suddenly we have our head lopped off on the home front and a much less mentally stable candidate appears in his stead, weakening us. And Sashar never, ever taught any of us to believe in coincidences.”
“So what do we do?” Maaks asked.
“Well, for starters we need to avoid the hell out of Mejas. He’ll remember the part some of us played in taking him down last time, and I imagine he’ll be pretty shabla ticked off.” Zandro answered, grinning wryly.
“I’ll speak to Strategos and ask if we can keep our distance for the time being. What about Sashar?” Celahir answered.
“We need to get hold of someone that was there during the coup – and we all know there was a coup. Once we have a more solid idea of what happened, we can try and track down Sashar and reinstate him as Consul.” Zandro replied, sounding confident.
“Okay, so new MO: keep your di’kutla heads down and try to track down some trace of our missing Consul.”
Hibernation trances were usually peaceful. One didn’t dream, one wasn’t conscious, and one definitely did not have nightmares. However, a thought kept running through the Primarch’s mind.
He’d evaded the best security a clan of Dark Jedi could muster, not triggered a single alarm, and worse, had revealed himself to the Consul – who had let him leave!
No way in hell he’d ever have walked there alive –why’d I let him go? He’d have been stunned, taken down to the torture chambers and pumped for every last bit of information he had, then released with a tracking device and kept under surveillance until he revealed the location of the people at the other end of his leash. For him to evade my best security and walk out there freely...has to be mind control. Which means force user. Given that I know of any Dark Jedi in the Brotherhood that could mind trick me without me even realising...it means an external threat – he must’ve assisted Mejas in getting rid of the collar. Mejas would never ask for help, so Lorden and his friends approached Mejas himself...I’m slipping. I shouldn’t have been beaten that easily in combat, let alone mind affected. I’m a danger to the clan. But, not as much of a threat as Mejas...
In the darkness of his own consciousness, completely oblivious to the outside world, Sashar began formulating a plan.
The throne room echoed with the footsteps of approaching tailored boots. Mejas Doto, Consul of Arcona , Primus di Tenebrous Arconae and Shadow Lord glanced up from the Abyssal Tome and glared at Mr. Lorden.
“My associates thought you might appreciate these gifts, to congratulate you on taking back your throne.” Lorden placed Sashar’s shoto lightsaber and the Beskar Collar on the table between the two. “We also surmised that you’d want most was your freedom and your power returned, so we acted to grant you these, since you weren’t so forthcoming last time.” He continued, absently brushing some lint from the collar of his bland grey tunic.
“Why?” Mejas Doto grated out, his voice like cold running water.
“My associates believe that our interests coincide, and that an alliance would be mutually beneficial.” He smiled blandly and Mejas had to resist the urge to throw him into the far wall with the speed of a speeding train.
“You believe I’d honour my debts?” his mouth curled up into a sneer.
Lorden didn’t look perturbed in the least. “Of course not. However, we do believe you to be smart enough to realise that we could just as easily remove you as we did sit you in that overly ornate piece of furniture.” He stated matter of factly, nodding behind the Shadow Lord at the Serpentine Throne.
At this, Mejas stood up, sending the table and its contents flying. “IS THAT A THREAT?!” He roared, calling the dark side to his hands, the arcs of blue electricity gathering.
At this, Lorden laughed. “Yes.”
Mejas had heard enough. He blasted force lightning at the insolent little go-between with all the strength he had in his considerable force reserves. Force lightning that vanished a meter from Lorden.
He grinned, looking the Consul square in the eye and turned his back on him, heading from the throne room. “We’ll be in touch.”
The next evening, the entire clan was brought into the throne room and sat before two great Tables that ran the length of the chamber. The tables were piled high with exquisite food from a thousand different worlds, and the two Houses were encouraged to tuck in and enjoy themselves. A ridiculously informal setting, given that their host, Mejas Doto, a notorious power freak with an ego the size of the Death Star, was sat on a raised dais in the Serpentine Throne, overseeing the festivities and eating nothing himself. After the main course had been served – a deliciously spiced meat served rare, with a side of honey-drizzled eggs and a delightfully crisp salad, the Consul stood and gestured for quiet.
“My children in darkness.” He hissed into the brittle silence. “This evening is one for celebration. I have returned to you, thrown off the shackles of the heretic Consul and this is my reward for surviving his corrupt reign. However, the pomp and splendour comes at a price. Serve me loyally, and I will reward you in turn. Allow pretenders to work against me and I’ll end you all. Your Quaestors have orders for you, which they will divulge in the morning. However, tonight, enjoy your roast Amik.” He grinned ferally.
Sanguinus leant over to his Quaestor and asked quietly. “Isn’t Amik Commodore Sulaco’s first name?”
Legorii had put down his knife and fork, mirroring several others at both tables, looking faintly disgusted. “It was, yes. I imagine we’ll be seeing a new Commodore appointed soon. Sulaco was one of Sashar’s allies in the coup.”
In the pregnant silence, someone threw up.
OOC: That’s it for the first part of the RO. Thanks for all the participation guys. The second part will be up soon, once I’ve got the storyline cemented. Rewards will be announced soon, just gotta have a word with the new CON when he’s appointed. Thanks again!