Arcona Ro - Breaking Point
The days following Mejas’s ascention to Consul were dark. Two days after the feast, he once again called the clan to the throne room. He had that nasty grin, again.
“You are a mockery of a clan. You have grown fat and lazy after your performance in the war and the reclamation of Dajorra. Sashar was weak and lacked the vision required to push you to great new heights. This ends today. Prophecy, as they were the only team to succeed in their mission even partially, are to be named the new first battleteam of Arcona. Timeros, for leading the Creeping Darkness
into an ambush, is removed from Quaestor of Galeres. Etah will replace him.”
A shocked gasp rippled through the chamber. Timeros nodded as if hearing something he’d been expecting, but didn’t object or turn to leave; he made no physical movement, however his eyes hardened
“Soulfire Strike Team, step forward.” Mejas continued, and several attendants entered, each carrying a small item with a cloth draped over it. “Don’t think I forgot your part in my betrayal. Your penance will be to endure the same fate I did.”
Zandro glanced knowingly over at Malidir, but none of the squad objected or even flinched when the Consul’s attendants unveiled their cargo – a set of identical beskar force inhibitor collars that Sashar had built to imprison Mejas Doto. Every single member of the team had the collars placed around their necks and locked into place. Maaks gasped audibly as a crippling arc of electricity played through him, forcing him to cut off all ties in the force required for a Miraluka’s vision – he’d been blinded by the collar.
“Your orders are forthcoming.” He sneered by way of dismissal.
“He’s going to kill us all. You realise that, yes?” Timeros commented as he and Strategos strode towards the Consul’s office, hoping to beat Mejas there; the Shadow Lord still hadn’t shifted Sashar’s possessions from the chamber – indeed he hadn’t even entered since assuming the Throne. His tame Waymaster was standing guard outside.
“The Lord Consul has restricted the office until further notice, not even you can enter, sir.” Lantano Sarutobi announced as they approached. Both ignored him. Timeros surged forward, the force propelling him at preternatural speed until he had his deactivated lightsaber pressed against Lantano’s head and his free hand around the Eldarian’s throat.
“Not a word.” Tim’s voice was flat, emotionless.
Strategos approached and placed one hand on the Waymaster’s head. He closed his eyes, the eyelids shifting slightly as he strained, dancing through his thoughts, his memory. A moment later, his eyes flicked open again.
“Lorden. Our Shadow lord has been having meetings with a Mr. Lorden. We need to find this mysterious visitor. Immediately.” He turned and looked Lantano in the eye once again. “Let’s just forget about this little rendezvous, shall we?” He smirked as Lantano nodded, his eyes fogging as the Proconsul gripped his mind once more.
Xathia, Xuthen and Vassan had made good their escape. Once in the lower reaches of the city, safely tucked away in one of the many production plants that scattered the lowest level. They’d easily hijacked a 2-1B medical droid and had set it to work patching them up as best they could and now had a small safe house established amongst the maze of cargo containers.
“If we reveal ourselves, we will be killed.” Vassan said, grimacing slightly as he tested his shoulder’s range of movement.
“We can’t simply abandon the clan, though. Mejas has to go.” Xuthen said, frowning.
“If we’re going to take on a Dark Jedi Master, we need resources and manpower, neither of which we have.”Xuthen added.
Xathia shook her head, frustrated. She’d ended up on the wrong side. She had no love for Sashar and had considered him oafish and weak when he was Consul. Granted, he was an improvement on Mejas, who would just as soon kill her as look at her, but out of some misguided sense of duty, she’d ended up on the run from the strongest man in Arcona, who also appeared to be dangerously unstable. “Then we need to make use of Sashar’s resources and contacts within the Military. He overthrew Mejas by isolating him from the AAF. If we can do the same, then we might be able to at least give someone capable of taking him down a fighting chance.”
“But what’s to say that Strategos would even take the chance? He knows one-on-one he wouldn’t win, and even with Timeros and ourselves, it’s still a push. I suggest we keep our heads low and try to quietly
get in touch with him. See where his loyalties lie; to the Consul or to the Clan.” Vassan argued.
“In the mean time, we need to secure our location from discovery and start gathering resources. I know a few people Sashar was friendly with in the AAF. I’ll contact them indirectly and see if I can arrange a meeting.” Xuthen said, standing. Her role as Sashar’s assistant had given her valuable insight into the armed forces’ opinion of the Consul.
“Good idea. It can’t hurt to be prepared.” Vassan replied, standing as well.
“Just be careful. If he catches wind of us plotting a coup, our deaths will be long and painful.” Xathia warned, shuddering inwardly.
The problem came in the third day. The Drexls were living beasts and needed to be fed regularly. There was a handler for the creatures, hired from the Beastriders of Onderon to care for them. His footsteps echoed down the hallway, as did a deceptively cheery whistle as he slung a huge bag of meat over his shoulder. Sashar’s eyes flickered open as he emerged from the Hibernation trance and he tested his range of movement by trying to wiggle his big toe. It twitched. The primarch smiled.
“Right then, my beauties, let’s have a little sit-down.” The Beast rider called out as he approached the enclosure.
His whistled tune faltered when he caught sight of Sashar groggily sitting up and glancing in his direction. As soon as the Ayumarka eyes locked onto the Onderonians’, he was under. Sashar’s consciousness merged with his prey and like a highly strung librarian, he tore through the information with a detached disdain until he came across what he needed – memories of the Drexl. He absorbed them into his own long-term memory, confident that he’d be able to control the mighty animals for more than instant. His next task was a little more tricky. With a surgeon’s skill, he stripped the memories of encountering Sashar in the beast’s lair, then implanted the strong urge to go home and check that his family were safe. With a glazed look, the Beastrider about turned and strolled from the enclosure without another word. Sashar sighed and shut himself down from the force once more, ever wary that the Shadow Lord above would sense his presence if he used the force any further.
Mentally, Sashar went through an inventory of his assets.
No comlink, no helmet, no lightsaber. The sickle and T-6 are gone, leaving me only my SSK-7 in terms of weaponry. I’m very recognisable in a cloak and armour. I’ve got to get out of the citadel and get to a decent terminal...
The former consul frowned and slid down the wall into a crouch, his beskar
plates making a slight scraping sound as he went down, mulling over his options.
Mejas glanced up abruptly from the Abyssal Tome. He felt a ripple in the force that most definitely should not
have been there.
“He’s alive...” The Zabrak muttered, trying to narrow down the sensation.
Sashar had touched the force, and he’d been very, very close.
“Sarutobi!” The Consul called out, knowing that the psychic weight of the summons would reach the Waymaster, levels above near the top of the tower. It took him nearly two minutes to fully descend, and when he did Mejas was not
“Sashar is still alive and nearby. Assemble the Guard and begin a floor to floor search of the Citadel. See to it personally, Waymaster.”
“I wouldn’t be so hasty, Lord Consul.” A familiar voice called from the back of the Throne room and Mejas’s teeth clenched together in anger as he glanced up from under his cowl at the approaching form of Lorden.
The emissary stopped when he drew level with Lantano and stiffened slightly. He turned to look the Waymaster in his eyes, then sighed in vexation.
“I was hoping you’d have better control of your minions than this. Someone has mind-rubbed your lapdog. This...complicates matters. You’re going to need to make more of an example of traitors than simply strapping a collar on them. Mercy was your predecessor’s calling card; not yours. Kill Soulfire. Kill Timeros. Kill Strategos as well, just to be sure.”
Mejas stood slowly, unbridled hate pouring from him, causing even Lantano, who had no perception of the force, to flinch.
“You will not presume to give me orders.” His voice was deadly quiet, threatening.
“I’ll be the first to applaud your little stunt feeding poor Sulaco to the clan: that made you unpredictable, which in turn makes your opponents nervous. However, it’s not enough. Anyone can kill a mundane. If you kill off everyone Sashar was ever associated with, then we’ll start seeing results. Send a clear message- oh and stop being so angry
:it’s bad for you.” Lorden finished, sounding as if he were chastising a child.
“I can’t help being angry when I’m furious.” He ground out, slowly advancing on the black clad diminutive human.
“This is not a request, Mejas.” Lorden said, his tone changing as the Shadow Lord went for his lightsaber.
Mejas actually flinched at the use of his first name. Nobody had ever
presumed such informality with him and lived long afterwards.
“I’m telling you this for your own good. Even now, forces are amassing to oust you once again.” Lorden continued.
“Like the Primarch you supposedly killed?” Mejas spat out, derision thick in his tone.
“Yes, about that. If you start searching the Citadel, he’ll be aware that you know he’s alive. He’ll go to ground and you’ll never find him. We’ll look into it.” His tone voice confident, placating, once more the mask of a bland salesman.
“Who do you represent?” Lantano asked, speaking for the first time.
“Kill everyone ever associated with Sashar. You can’t trust anyone, especially Dark Jedi.” Lorden cautioned, completely ignoring the Waymaster, who bristled at the slight.
“Get out.” The Shadow Lord responded flatly.
When Lorden left, there was a heavy silence in the air until Lantano finally spoke. “Shall I still undertake a search, milord?”
Mejas glanced up as if just remembering that Sarutobi was still there. “No. Summon Etah and Legorii. I have orders for the clan.”
“Will you dispatch them to find Sashar?” he queried, already pulling a comlink from his belt.
“Lorden’s right. I can’t trust anyone, and never, ever presume to question me again, Waymaster.” Once again, Mejas’s mood had shifted at the flick of a switch, and he was quiet, obviously calculating.
Etah’s visage was unreadable as he entered the briefing room and glanced up from his datapad to see Soulfire Strike Team assembled before him, to a man looking ready to garrotte something.
“The Shadow Lord has decreed that Soulfire are being given a chance to redeem themselves. Displace’s headquarters facility on Onderon has to go. Your mission is to infiltrate and destroy it.”
A murmur of surprise crossed the room – that would not be an easy target at the best of times. “Will he grant us the use of the force? These collars severely impede our effectiveness. Hell, Maaks can’t even see without the force.” Celahir asked, an icy feeling forming in his gut.
“No. Your resources will be whatever you can carry. No plans for exfiltration are available at this time.” The Quaestor responded, his expression carefully neutral.
“That’s a textbook suicide mission, if I ever heard one.” Malidir said, his tone heavy, resigned.
“You have your orders. The Valour’s Fall
departs in two hours. Get ready.” The Sakiyan left without another word.
“As the Consul’s favoured Battleteam, you have been chosen to represent him in renewed negotiations with the Hutt Cartels. You are to travel to Nal Nutta and renegotiate our defence agreement with them, and also persuade them to cease negotiations with Displace Intergalactic.” Legorii said, reading from a datapad.
“That doesn’t sound too bad.” Kant grinned, nudging Marick with his shoulder, who had previously been extremely nervous – word of Soulfire’s latest assignment had spread like wildfire through the clan.
“What about the leaks we uncovered in the last deployment?” Earnest asked.
The Quaestor’s expression darkened slightly. “The Shadow Lord doesn’t believe the actions of mundane are worth our divine attention. They’re beneath our concern. Your assignment may sound easy, but the Hutts are still dangerous. Be on your guard.” He cautioned, not speaking aloud the opinion shared by the entire room of Mejas’s thoughts on the leaks in the AAF.
OOC: Okay gents, you have your orders, anyone who wants to get involved that hasn't been mentioned yet, write yourselves in approaching your quaestors for orders and I’ll dish out something juicy Have fun!
Archer resisted the urge to toy with the new collar adorned about his neck as he began to check his pack. It wasn't the fact that it could hurt him; no, pain to him was just a distraction, something to overcome. It was more the curiosity that drove him. A fascinating device that he wanted to understand and dissect. He just didn't have the time.
Slowly his eyes floated about the room and to a few of his squad mates as he attempted to crack a joke. "Well, looks like we're going back. They've only seen me once, but maybe with a bit of luck and a disguise. A mascot perhaps. Delivery boy." He tried to stay positive at the fact that this was obviously a suicide mission. Two attempts on the same target invited disaster. Especially a fortified target. But he didn't want to dwell on it, focusing on his pack once more. It was all he could do to stay constructive.
Sanguinius stood behind the assembled Dark Jedi, leaning against the wall with his arms folded, listening to his Quaestor as the esteemed Entar addressed Prophecy Phyle. The young Knight didn't know what to make of the changes in the leadership of the Shadow Clan, he had been loyal to Legorii and followed the Anzati's lead in all things, but Sashar had always kept an eye on the young Qel Droman. Sanguinius believed that was because of his history in Plagueis, his loyalties were not completely trusted, but Mejas did not care about such things. A single Knight was beneath the Elder's notice, a lowly insect before the Master's might.
An amused smile crossed Sang's face as Kant joked with Marick, the Battleteam Leader showing his nonchalant side by joking with the Guardian. The Anaxsi spoke up from the back, "You heard the boss, play it safe." The assembled Qel Dromans nodded in assent and started to discuss the plan between themselves, the now first battleteam of Arcona determined to prove themselves, despite the misgivings they had with the new Consul's feelings about the leaks in the AAF. Legorii walked around the table where the team members sat, towards his Aedile, whom he beckoned to follow him out of the room.
"Come with me, we have something else we must do." The Quaestor was abrupt as usual, giving Sanguinius little to work with. The Archpriest strode out of the room, with the Obelisk close behind him.
"What exactly is it we have to do then?" Sanguinius asked, if not demanded of the Krath. Legorii simply shook his head and continued to walk onwards, that action alerted Sanguinius to be quiet and simply follow. The two Qel Dromans walked silently through the Citadel towards the shuttle bays, obviously to a place where they could talk privately. The two Arconans had been unable to talk in private for the past few days, due to eavesdroppers and interlopers. The Entar must have a device which blocked out all listening devices, that was one thing Sanguinius had learned about his superior, that he always had something up his sleeve.
The two Dark Jedi walked into the hanger bay and up the ramp of the shuttle they came to Selen upon, the pilot could be trusted, but Legorii made sure that the officer wasn't on board when he activated the device which allowed the two of them to discuss the situation they were in. Sanguinius spoke first, "I don't agree with Mejas' decision to send Soulfire to Onderon, nor with the dismissal of Timeros."
Legorii raised his left hand to silence Sanguinius, cutting off the impudent words of the young man. "Whether we agree with them or not, we must obey his wishes for now. We don't have the ability to stop that madman at the moment."
Sang nodded thoughtfully and shrugged, "You're right, even so, I feel that Sashar can't be killed that easily, even if it was someone like Mejas who claimed it happened. That guy is too tough to die."
Legorii laughed softly and shook his head, "It doesn't matter whether Sashar is alive or not, now we must obey Mejas, Qel Droma is now the favoured House, i won't abandon that, even with the return of Sashar. For now you'll keep quiet and you'll do as you're told, whether you like it or not." He commanded of the young Knight.
"Alright, but don't expect me to like it Legz." The Aedile snapped.
"I told you i didn't give a damn, now go find that bloody Lieutenant so we can get out of here, we've got stuff to do elsewhere." Legorii switched off the anti-listening device and watched as Sang angrily turned around and stormed down the ramp of the shuttle towards the nearby officer's club where the pilot was no doubt downing a shot of Tarrellian Whisky.
Legorii stood at the top of the ramp in the shadow cast by the bulk of the shuttle, watching the angry human stride across the hanger bay, he shook his head in despair at his impatience. "You're still not ready my young friend, but soon the time will come where you'll have to decide the fate of us all."
The darkness was unnerving to Xathia as she watched Xuthen and Vassan. She wanted to claw her way back out of this mess as her ankles flexed back and forth, the injuries sustained twinging a little. There had to be a way back to taking Mejas off his throne. Anyone was better then him as Consul. He would have them all executed without a single thought if he suspected anyone was trying to usurp him. Rubbing her forehead a little, she tuned back into the conversation.
"So what do we do once we've gathered everything together? There's no point in just sitting about and waiting to be captured." Vassan interjected, frowning a little.
"We stay together, there's a better chance of us being able to eliminate anyone we come up against then." Xuthen said.
"And an easier chance of being detected." Xathia came back with. "If we split up, we're more likely to find back up and go without being found."
"Depends who finds us. Those minions can't be hard for us individually to over come." The Epis mused, rubbing his shoulder muscles. "We do need to find back up, even with the AAF we might run into more then we can handle. The more the better."
"There's pros and cons to sticking together and separating. That's always guaranteed. We just need to decide which one is more practical." Xuthen said, her torso leaning against the wall as her mind divided the pros and cons of the options in her mind.
The Priestess sighed. She needed to find out where her loyalties lay, that was for certain. She also needed to place a deep trust in Bryna to make sure that Alyssa wasn't captured or killed. From this distance, without an ability to contact the Omwati for fear of being tracked and found out, it was getting harder and harder to stop the voices from taunting her, reminding her of the last mission she had to endure whilst she was Quaestor, and Alyssa had been kidnapped by the Proconsul at the time, Vorion. Her head fell into her hands as she kept listening to Xuthen's rationalisation of the options.
The place was silent minus the muffled babbled words of Alyssa. Bryna was starting to get worried about what was going off. The nursery wasn't connected up to the main system since it would disturb the children. Though Alyssa was the only child using it currently. The Omwati softly bounced the infant a little, trying to get her to calm down whilst using the Force to aid her. Something wasn't right here but she couldn't quite figure it out. Ever since she'd pushed Xathia out to the citadel there had been something plaguing her mind.
Alyssa had fallen asleep against her shoulder whilst clinging to the blanket corner as usual. Bryna knew that Xathia had issues with trust, especially since the last incident where Vorion had captured Alyssa. The haunting words that had been screamed at Bryna weren't something anyone could easily forget. Checking out the corridor, it was empty which wasn't that unusual, but no one had passed down here in a long while. There were usually a few visits down here at least.
Mulling over the options, the Omwati bundled Alyssa up and brought a few supplies packed into the robe she pulled over them both, hoping to hide the infant from view at least even though she was starting to get too big for hiding at 18 months old. But there was no other way to keep her safe. Pulling the hood up, Bryna silently fled down towards the main building to find out some answers.
“MEDIC!” The screams rang out through the ether as Juda bolted into action. His heavy combat boots squelched as each stride pounded the wet mud, kicking up clumps of clay and grass. “Help! Medic!!!” Heavy rain poured from the skies, beating against the Mandalorian’s skin, a release of vapour escaped his open mouth with each exhausted breath as he navigated through the maze of ancient trees and undergrowth.
Juda’s eyes clenched as he leapt over a fallen tree and slid on his knees a few yards before scrambling to his feet again, his heartbeat boomed as his lungs burned, the steady swishing of his trouser legs against one another kept the rhythm until he saw two hazy figures in the distance.
The Obelisk Paladin practically dived on the two men, one laying eerily still as he was cradled by an armoured comrade. “Okay…” Juda whispered as he withdrew a deep breath and surveyed the damage. The prone soldier suffered from massive gunshot wounds to the chest, at least a dozen small singed circles clotted with blood. Rain trickled from the young medic’s nose as he searched his own body in a flustered panic, looking for his medical kit that somehow vanished. Confusion shot across his visage as he stood straight, his hands wildly tracing the various packs and belts that riddled his armour.
“Where’s your medpack!” Juda barked to the knelt soldier in front,
“Where’s yours, you’re the medic!” He shot back as the Mandalorian dropped to his knees in disbelief, his fingers lightly running over the wounded man’s chest. Suddenly the wind picked up, bellowing like a mighty roar as the rain practically fell sideways. Bewildered and mystified, Juda caught sight of a mark located on the unfortunate soldier’s stomach. Slowly he peeled back the thin jumpsuit to reveal a familiar tattoo, the mark of di Tenebrous Arconae.
Juda froze, time seemed to stop, the furious rainfall crept to a standstill as his eyes darted up and down metrically until his mouth opened in horror as realisation set in. “Sashar-”
“-Ugh!” Juda awoke with a jolt, beads of sweat traced down the contours of his chest, a chest woven with an intricate maze of scars and burns- his personal set of war medals. His slender fingers brushed the sweat through his jagged, cropped hair, his heart thumps, the only sound to interrupt the silence before he kicks the sheets off of him and throws his legs off the bed. The moonlight that beams in through the window licks his pale naked skin as his hand runs down his face, squeezing his jaw. He catches his reflection in the metallic ceiling, his eyes wide, his visage- once fresh-faced and kind is now war torn and rough with experience.
The cool air soothes his flushed body as he sits up and snatches his medical bag from the side table, unzipping it to find it brimming with various medical equipment; IV fluids, resuscitation tubes, haemorrhage controls, catheters, bacta…
The Mandalorian slumps back onto his bed, the bag firmly in his grip.
The Kodiak camp on Dxun was dissonantly quiet in the early hours of the morning, daylight had just broke as Juda left his chamber, the cool breeze wrapping his dishevelled crimson hair and the morning dew glazed his red-trimmed Mandalorian armour like prickles of sweat. His senses were shot as the Force screamed out in dread, it felt as though his mind was wrapped in a web of despair, not being able to pinpoint the source he shook his head before setting off across the camp to his modified N1 fighter.
After climbing into the snug cockpit and closing the canopy behind him, the Templar punched in coordinates for Dajorra and let out a sharp breath as he aggressively thrust his throttle while applying full power to his thrusters before taking hold of the steering helm. The antiquated fighter jolted forward with a screech and shot off into the atmosphere.
It had been along time since Juda had stepped foot in Arcona’s Citadel, deciding to go rouge after his Master, Sashar left him to die on the battlefield during the Vong invasion. Nonetheless, something wasn’t quite right, the Force was calling to him.
After the discussion, the Jedi fell silent. Each was considering their options, and was realising that there weren’t many. Vassan turned towards the females, ‘Sitting this one out is clearly not an option.'
‘Running away isn’t either’, Xuthen grumbled. Xathia looked up, frowning, speaking the words all three were thinking. ‘We have to go back to the citadel…’ the priestess said, '...if we want to look for backup.'
'Agreed’, Vassan said quietly. Xuthen nodded. They started gathering their belongings. Xuthen checked for the daggers concealed on her body. One was missing after the fight with Mejas, but there were plenty left. She felt rather naked without her lightsaber, though. The guards had probably taken them from the platform, dismantling them or selling them on. Xuthen’s jaw muscles flexed. Someone would pay for this.
Moving steadily and certain, the Equites walked towards the citadel. Walking purposively usually prevents anyone from asking questions. Experience had taught them that if you look like you have to be somewhere, and if you look determined enough, chances are no-one will feel the need to ask you where you’re going. They might regret it, after all.
As expected, the citadel guards did not pay much attention to them when they entered the citadel. The guards would be confused after the happenings of the past few days, having seen a lot of new faces, and having learned to ask a lot less questions. The Arconans strided through the corridors, heading for a quiet alley which they knew had very little surveillance.
'This is it,' Vassan said, 'Let’s do our recon, and meet up here at dusk. That ought to give us enough time. In the meantime, watch your back and trust no-one.' The tall male looked sideways, seemingly unhindered by his damaged eye.
Xathia tried to control her thoughts. If only she could be sure her child was safe, what if they found her, what if…Xathia took a deep breath, focusing on the tall man and the strange female standing in front of her. Somehow they had to deal with this situation together, but she was not at all sure that they had the same goals.
‘What if they recognize us?’ Xathia inquired. ‘Not sure if they will,’ Vassan replied, ‘or if they’ll care. If they do, we will be in some serious trouble. I’m a former consul, Xuthen is Sashar’s attaché, and you are altogether way too close to the former summit.'
Xuthen put on the hood of her cloak. ‘Let’s not be recognized then’, Xuthen summarized.
‘Right,’ Vassan grimaced, ‘and let’s hope Mejas left some of us alive and in one piece.’
Xuthen walked towards Sulaco’s office. There was another assistant, a young Selenian. ‘I’ need to speak to Commodore Sulaco,’ she said, ‘Consul’s orders.’
Technically, this was true, Xuthen thought, probably. If Dash were alive, he’d probably want her to talk to Sulaco. These would be mere details to the assistant. She stared at the trembling assistant and realized something was wrong. The assistant’s voice sounded uneasy as he replied, ‘Commodore Sulaco is no longer in command, ma’am.’
Xuthen saw the look in the assistant’s eyes and a vision of Sulaco’s demise flashed in front of her. His burning flesh, eyes wide open in despair, mouth open in a silent scream, reflecting pure agony. Xuthen blinked slowly as she tried to archive the scorched face somewhere she could deal with it later.
‘Understood.’ she said with a cold voice, ‘Who is his replacement?
‘Acting Commodore Jaal has been summoned to Selen, ma’am.’ The assistant replied, glancing at the security cameras. Xuthen nodded, and stepped outside the office.
She was already running when the assistant reached for his comm.
Earnest waited as most of the phyle headed out, hoping to speak with Legorii before heading out on the new mission. He nodded to Kant, who was undoubtedly hanging around for the same reason. The Anzat turned to the Jedi Hunters, raising an eyebrow. In the Companion Praxeum, the advice on how to deal with Anzati was to avoid them if at possible, and if not, to appear as bland and… unappetizing as possible.
Earnest was so carefully not-looking at the hidden proboscises that tension levels began to rise as he met the Krath Archpriest’s gaze. He had a belated flash of insight, that his own serial killings were a pale imitation of the Anzat hunt. Mesmerizing prey through seduction… of course, he didn’t absorb their essence and experiences, just their estate. Could they compare notes? What would that shop talk be like?
Kant cleared his throat, and Earnest blinked back to the present.
“I’d like your permission to go through the armory for suitable bribes for the cartels. The only Jedi in Prophecy enough rank to impress them is Archpriest al`Lan Mandragoran, and he would be a disaster on a mission like this.”
“Last time I ran across him, he told me ‘this epoch was not epic, but entropic.’ I’m still puzzling that one out.” Kant confirmed.
Earnest ignored the interruption, and smoothly continued, “Our diplomacy team will need to offer in value what it lacks in face, or we’ll end up getting bogged down in bullshit challenges to prove our worth. Which, of course, we’ll lose if we accept, since it will just prove how easily we can be manipulated.”
Legorii shook his head. “Yours is not the only diplomatic concern we have... not with our clan base being so unstable. Anyone accessing the armory at the moment is out of the question. You’ll have to get creative. More importantly, you need to get gone – lingering after you’ve been given an assignment is not wise these days. Your transport leaves in two hours.”
“We’ll use what resources we have. Excuse me, I have to pack and arrange for some …deliveries.” The tyro ducked his head in acknowledgment and withdrew, leaving his Tetrach and Quaestor to discuss the upcoming mission.
Merchant Quarter, Iziz City
The unvarying breeze wisped through the surge of movement from the lower levels of the metropolis and the urban soundtrack played in an energetic echo as Juda stalked the dust ridden roads of Iziz City, brushing shoulders with all forms of life and society. His exploration into the unknown had brought him here, although for what purpose he was unsure, the Mandalorian had submerged his conscious state with the Force, allowing it to guide him through the densely populated city.
He turned into an alleyway, the newly risen sun glistening against his charcoal armour, a single lightsaber and a silenced SSK pistol hung from his hip as he leant up against the wall hoping to gather his thoughts. He could only hazard a guess that Sashar, his former Master had called him here using the Force; a relationship that had grown stale ever since the Vong Invasion of Antei. Juda didn’t feel as much anger as he did betrayal by the former Consul, and the Templar has suffered from flashbacks of that fateful day ever since.
“Jedi!!” Juda cocked his head to the side to find two heavily built human Mercenaries and a Rodian, all of whom snapped pistols into their hands. “Bet there’s a price on his head.”
Juda didn’t respond in any other way as the three beings stepped closer, sinister grins plastered across their rough faces as they took aim, the Obelisk merely frowned as he concentrated, willing the Force to seize control of the Mercenaries’ arms. The expressions on the thugs faces turned from murderous sneers to pure dread as the two human’s unwillingly aimed their own blasters at their temples. With an obnoxious wink Juda telekinetically pulled the two triggers, spraying blood, and brain matter against the alleyway walls. Before the two bodies got close to hitting the floor the Mandalorian had used his Equite speed and grabbed the shaken Rodian by the neck.
His fingers were drained white as he clenched harder, staring blankly into the Rodian’s beady black eyes, the alien gasped for breath while losing control of his legs. The Mandalorian showed no emotion as he tightened his grip before swiftly igniting his lightsaber and impaling the Mercenary in a flash of yellow.
Juda was already walking out into the busy precinct as the Rodian crumpled to a heap with a thud, his eyes set on a bar across the way.
Sanguinius slammed the door to the Cantina open, letting it collide with the wall and rebound off violently as he stormed into the structure. Standing and sitting around the small bar were several flight crew members and work team members, all on break or off duty. As one all heads turned to look at the Aedile with a mixture of shock and fear. The Arconan's target sat in a small corner booth, shadows cast over it as the small light fixtures flickered, the poor wiring of the Cantina showing.
Sanguinius strode over to the table and stood before the Lieutenant, "The Quaestor requests your presence momentarily." Sang muttered angrily to the officer. His arms rested on the table as he bent slightly over in front of the Naval Officer.
The officer simply nodded and drained his glass, slamming it back down on the table with a gasp at the strength of the spirit. He stood up and grapped his hat off of the table and placed it back on his head, straightening it. The Lieutenant slipped out of the booth and walked slowly and carefully to the door of the small Cantina, his breath reeking of booze and his footsteps unsure.
Sang opened the door to the Cantina, and ushered the pilot out of the building, the bright light of the glaring sun temporarily blinded the pair as their eyes quickly adjusted to the excess light. The slight breeze around the landing platform caught the Aedile's robes, causing them to flutter around in the breeze. The two men walked over to the shuttle, where Legorii waited for them. Sang kept on glancing over at the tipsy pilot with concern, the man obviously wasn't in full control of his capacities. The Anaxsi took hold of the officer's arm and practically dragged him up the ramp and thrusted him forwards into an empty seat in the passenger bay.
Legorii stared inquisitively at his subordinate, his eyebrow raised in a silent question. "He's drunk, not really safe to let that idiot fly us anywhere." Legz nodded thoughtfully, "Very well, find me one who can fly."
"I can do it easily enough, i flew Interceptors over Antei, a shuttle is bloody easy to pilot compared to a fighter." Sang jumped up the three steps into the cockpit of the shuttle and strapped himself in, he flipped several switches and scanned quickly over the dashboard of the shuttlecraft. The Aedile could sense a presence behind him and turned his head to find himself facing the Entar, their stern patrician-like face watching his actions.
"You might want to strap yourself in boss, it's going to be a rough ride." Sang warned Legorii.
The Quaestor moved over to the Co-Pilot chair and sat down, reaching over to strap himself in. Sang grinned at Legorii and nodded, "Alright, here goes." The Anaxsi flipped a switch and pressed a button to ignite the main engine, the engine flared and stuttered, eventually dying down. The Aedile looked over at his fellow Arconan with a guilty look on his face. "I may have been slightly wrong in my estimates." Legorii groaned and shook his head in despair at his subordinate's idiocy.
The citadel had been cold even to Xathia. Her hair was loose and knotted with various pieces of dirt, blood and debris, and she felt dirty walking amongst the shadows. Everything seemed so pristine despite the darkness as the woman crept behind Vassan. They needed to find anyone who could help them without being captured. The sheer thought of being captured and what might happen to them made the Priestess shiver as they both stopped. The Epis didn't appear to be breathing as they both cloaked themselves invisible.
A couple of Journeymen walked down the corridor and brushed past them. They appeared nervous with their voices low, discussing something that wasn't to be heard. Both Equites were straining to hear what they were talking about that was making them nervous and jumpy.
"The new Consul…obsessed… blood rage.. paranoid…coups," were the only sections that Xathia managed to capture.
The voices in Xathia's head burst out in taunts and describing what would happen to Alyssa if the former Quaestor was caught. It felt dangerous to breathe until Vassan started to push forward, determined to find someone to help them as soon as possible.
The silence was stifling as they came to a crossover of corridors.
"We should split up. It increases our chances of finding someone we know who can help us. Timeros might be a start and any Equite who isn't in a Battleteam." The Epis quietly spoke, careful about anyone who could be hiding nearby. He looked over his shoulder before turning left sharply and quietly, leaving Xathia to go straight ahead.
Every step she took echoed a million times in her mind. Behind every corner was someone waiting to murder her and torture Alyssa. Mentally shaking her head, Xathia tried to focus on finding anyone who wouldn't betray them immediately to Mejas. A hand slapped itself over her mouth as the other arm bound her to the stranger's body before dragging the struggling woman into a room.
It was dark. The shadows were creeping around Xathia as the door shut. It was done with a touch of class. The figure was cloaked as the Priestess struggled to make out who it was, her fear starting to engulf her rationality. Nothing was said as the minutes dragged by, Xathia's eyes finally starting to adjust to the dark as she struggled to make out the stranger's features. His shadow was pressed against the door, listening for someone or nothing. After what seemed like an age, the figure was stood in front of her.
"You should be more careful and aware of others. It wasn't too hard to track you down." Timeros said. His voice was precise, and his stature said that he was all too aware of what was happening around him. "Where have you been? And more precisely why were you wandering around by yourself?"
She took a breath to tell him everything, then paused. How could she be sure of his intentions? Her eyes narrowed at the Epis. "Why would you drag me into a pitch black room and ask me all these questions? For all I know, you will just had me straight over to Mejas after I've told you everything."
"That hints that you are involved in something. You really should think before you think."
The woman mentally slapped herself. He was right. It sounded revealing. "I still don't know your intentions. Why should I tell you anything?"
His icy blue eyes pierced through her gaze. His eyes seem to tell everything. He knew that there was something going off with Mejas and his minions but he was too well followed to publicly dive into it. "Xathia, we've worked together. You need to trust someone. Why were you alone?"
"We split up to find help. Vassan is around another section of the castle. We've been in a safe house, getting our wounds healed."
"You do know that you wandering around is putting Alyssa in danger. I've been to the nursery to try and interject her, but she wasn't there and neither was Bryna. If Bryna is loose in the castle with Alyssa and gets captured, then their safety can't be guaranteed."
The shadows weren't a comfort to Bryna. Despite that they hadn't seen anyone lately, nor felt them in the force except for the occasional head up from Xathia, though it hadn't been long enough to properly locate her. Just enough to know she was alive. Alyssa could sense that Bryna was unnerved, and that her mother wasn't around. It was getting harder to keep her quiet and if Alyssa started crying then it would be easy for anyone to find them.
Legorii exhaled with clear exasperation, slumping back in his co-pilot's chair as he waited for his subordinate to figure out how to fly the shuttle. He was not in the mood to puzzle it out himself, despite having flown fighters in Blue Mist on countless missions shortly after the Yuuzhan Vong Incursion. The Quaestor's mind was on other matters, as was to be expected with the state Arcona was in.
Nal Hutta. I've never been there. The thought echoed faintly in Legorii's head; he was keenly aware of the fact that he was sending his boys into what could be a deathtrap, and certainly had a reputation for being a dangerous place. On Mejas' orders, of course. Nobody had a choice in the matter. The Hutts had always been influential on the galactic stage, and this defense contract was important. Perhaps even more important, however, was the second part of Prophecy's mission: to persuade the Hutts to stop their negotiations with Displace Intergalactic.
"Sang, what the-" Legorii started, but his words were drowned out by the sudden belch of the shuttle engine and subsequent vibrations that rattled the craft. Sighing, the Archpriest leaned forward and watched as his Aedile clumsily maneuvered the shuttle out of the hangar and into the open space beyond. It occurred to the Anzat that he had not told his subordinate where exactly they were going.
"As you may have guessed, Nal Hutta was ravaged by the Yuuzhan Vong, like many other planets. However, in the aftermath of their defeat, the Hutts returned to reclaim their territory. I do not know what state we will find the planet it, but I assure you it will not welcome us with open arms. We need a bargaining chip if we're going to make sure Prophecy completes its mission, and the only such piece I can think of would be on Nar Shaddaa, the planet's primary moon." Legorii stopped for a moment, thinking. He looked out the viewport as the stars began to accelerate past him as Sang kicked up the speed.
Legorii was not looking forward to dealing with criminals. "Anyways, since the Vong destroyed Nar Shaddaa, only a few small cities have been rebuilt. But beneath the rubble, huge stores of drugs and credits were stored by pirates and crime syndicates trapped on the planet by the Vong. One particular pocket, cleverly hidden beneath the surface, would be worth millions to the Hutts."
Sanguinius was nodding as he eased the controls of the shuttle forward. "I know of a powerful Hutt on Nar Shaddaa. We will meet with him, and see if we can persuade him, along with his considerable allies, to abandon trade with Displace." The Aedile's gaze hardened as he imagined the difficult task that lay ahead of them.
Legorii caught his expression, and found that it mirrored his own. "The things we do for Mejas..." he muttered, looking away.
The shuttle slowed as it approached the Creeping Darkness, the Interdictor hanging effortlessly in space, as it orbited Selen. The dark mass of the vessel meshed well with the emptiness of space, the outline of it blurred to the naked eye. The approach vectors of the shuttle were clumsy as if a rookie was piloting the craft, the shuttle came to almost a complete stop as it entered the hanger bay, sliding through the hanger bay shields to hover gently a couple of metres off the ground. There was a mechanical whirring as the hydraulics began to shift, landing gear lowered from the shuttle and the shuttle settled upon the surface of the hanger bay. The engines hissed as they cooled, steam billowing from the exhaust pipes as the boarding ramp of the shuttle extended and reverberated with the loud footsteps of the previous occupants of the shuttlecraft. Legorii and Sanguinius stood at the foot of the ramp, their heads glancing around for officer who was meant to greet them and escort them to the transport they were to take to Nar Shaddaa.
An Ensign, one freshly frocked by the looks of the young face wearing the cap walked briskly towards them and threw a quick awkward salute to the two Dark Jedi. “Sorry to keep you waiting my lords, this way please.” The Ensign gestured for the two men to follow him, exiting the small hanger bay into a narrow sparsely decorated corridor, usually found on a military vessel such as this. The three men strode silently along the busy corridor, uniformed men and women moving to and fro on business. The Officer stopped beside another large airlock, the entrance to another hanger where their transport awaited. ” The vessel is in here my lords, as requested there is a pilot that has been supplied for you along with a young male Twi’lek who demanded we let him in, he said he had your blessing sir.” The Ensign threw a puzzled look towards Legorii who simply nodded in return.
“Thank you Ensign, that’ll be all, off with you.” Legorii ordered the young officer. The Ensign gratefully scurried away from the two Dark Jedi who watched the airlock doors slide open and give them a sight of their vessel, a Starwind Pleasure Yacht.
“Not too bad eh, must’ve cost Sashar a pretty credit to buy this.” Sang joked as the two men walked towards the transport.
“It cost more than 10 years of your salary Sang, so don’t break anything.” Legorii joked back.
A darkened figure strode down the boarding ramp of the Pleasure Yacht, dressed in what seemed to be a strange variant of Mandalorian armour, red and black in colour. Puzzled looks came over Sang and Legorii’s faces as the Mandalorian walked towards them and stopped before the pair. Their hands raised to their helmet which they pulled off to reveal a familiar face to the Aedile. A loud burst of laughter echoed throughout the hanger bay as Sanguinius and the stranger embraced, “Wulfgar you old devil, it’s great to see you again.”
Legorii frowned at the two men embracing, ”A friend of yours Sang?”
”Aye boss, this old bastard is the guy who recruited me into the Brotherhood.”
The wizened man grinned and nodded respectfully at Legorii, ”I’ll be your pilot for this little escapade, you requested someone with knowledge of Nar Shaddaa, I’m what you’ve got.”
”Very well then, though that Ensign told me there was someone else here.” Legorii demanded of Wulfgar.
”Oh you mean Tol? He’s aboard the ship, strange little guy he is, though all those Twi’leks are strange creatures.” Wulfgar responded.
Legorii pushed past the two old friends and walked up the boarding ramp into the yacht, seeking his new favourite. Wulfgar smacked Sang on the back in a sign of brotherly affection as the two friends walked up the ramp, entering the yacht behind the Quaestor, the boarding ramp retracting behind them.
Wulfgar grinned and shook his head as he went up the ramp. His Beskar'gam clinking, his lightsaber hanging more like a trophy then a weapon he still used. His twin blasters hung ready for use at his side.
Wulfgar was what he was, a soldier, a warrior, and someone who liked to kill. He'd have to explain the armor eventually, and he wasn't looking forward to that, but there wasn't much else he could. His friend needed help, and where they were going they were gonna need all the help they could get.
Nar Shaddaa had worse things on it then Hutts. It had been completely Vongformed. There were still creatures of the Vong there, and now that Nar Shaddaa had been reclaimed there were criminals and scavengers grabbing what they could of whatever was left of the old city, the vong tech, and even trying to capture people for ransom.
The hardened warrior wasn't looking forward to this trip, and his hand itched for his blaster already as he walked into the cockpit and sat down. He glanced over as Sang walked in "Sang my friend. I hope you know what you are getting us into. I feel like I don't have near enough firepower on board."
En-route to Nar Shadda
Legorii's black cloak flapped gently at his heels as he moved through the yacht into one of the well-furnished lounges. Sitting across from him was a smallish Twi'lek, his skin a reddish hue, eyes downcast. "Do you know who I am?" Legorii inquired, his crimson-tinted eyes piercing as he stared at the Dark Jedi.
The response was slow, as though the words had been carefully considered before leaving the man's lips. "Yes, sir. I know of you and your influence here, but we have never met," the Twi'lek responded. His yellow-specked eyes met Legorii's, and there was silence in the room for a few seconds.
"You are one of Qel-Droma's young Journeymen. I have heard of your potential," Legorii replied. Tol Ziveri nodded slowly, but did not speak again. Instead, he closed his eyes and leaned his head back, resting. The Archpriest continued to watch him for another minute, considering him, imagining him as the next generation of leadership in Qel-Droma. Sighing, the Anzat turned away, slipping a datapad out from under the folds of his robes.
The screen was dimly lit, but the Quaestor could read the text clearly. He scrolled through a compact bio of the moon they were traveling to, storing as many facts and figures in his cramped brain as possible. He had dealt with Hutts before; his father had been involved in many shady transactions back on Coruscant, and Legorii had become more and more involved in the time before he left for the Brotherhood.
After tucking the datapad away again, the Krath stood, leaving Tol to his thoughts, and joined Wulfgar and Sanguinius in the cockpit. The two were talking rapidly, no doubt reminiscing of times long past. "Gentlemen, how long is it going to take us to get to our destination? I'm growing bored."
Wulfgar gave Sang a long, knowing glance, and the Aedile coughed uncomfortably as they looked up at the Anzat.
En-route to Nal Hutta
Kant Lavar's armor rattled uncomfortably as the troop transport's engine hummed around him. He glanced around at his fellow Dark Jedi, attempting a lopsided grin. "Not exactly a Pleasure Yacht, is it?" There were not many laughs at that, but the Tetrarch was not surprised. A few of the Troopers were staring at the walls, their minds on the mission that they were embarking on. Others had their eyes closed and were tapping their feet to a nonexistant beat.
Kant grunted, unstrapping his safety harness and shuffling to his feet. "Are you guys scared of the Hutts?" he asked incredulously, peering into the faces of the men, whose attention had immediately snapped back to him. "A couple of fat slugs with their dancers and their pets, arguing over spice and blasters hundreds of parsecs away?"
The others simply glared back at him. One, a more insolent young Dark Jedi named Martumal, spoke up. "No sir, we aren't scared of the fat slugs, or the dancers and pets for that matter. We're scared of what Mejas is going to do to us if we fail."
The silence hung in the air, a thick blanket suffocating the Tetrarch's good mood. "What's gotten into you guys? You're not allowed to be afraid! You're the new elite battleteam of Clan Arcona, and you've got a mission to do. No more of this, this fear, this uncertainty. We are going to succeed," Kant finished.
There were a few scattered nods as Kant took his seat once more. "And after we're succeeded, we're going to do something about Mejas..." Kant muttered to himself, his words barely audible over the rattling of armor.
Wulfgar shook his head slightly at Sang. It had been to long since the friends had been together.
Sang glanced at his friend and asked the question that Wulfgar knew was coming "Whats up with the Armor?"
Wulfgar grimaced "Kind of a long story. It was dad's."
Sang frowned "Your dad was killed ages ago, and I thought he was some banker guy."
"That was my blood father. Look, when the mercs got hired to kill my family one of them took me and hid me. He later announced me as his son. He raised me, taught me, and was there when I discovered my force abilities. We went rogue, quit running with Mando's and ran with other merc groups instead. Needless to say eventually I ended up with the DB and my dad went back home. When I left the Brotherhood I got a call from him, he had caught some disease. He passed his armor on to me. I've been running with his old crew. They saw the saber and think it's a trophy, that I killed a Jedi. They pretty much don't ask questions and I found a home I can live with."
Sang nodded "So, you're a Mando huh?"
"Kind of. I wasn't around them long, maybe three years as a kid, less than a galactic standard year this time around. I know enough that they consider me a Mando. Especially when I wear the Beskar'gam. I was raised with combat training like they are. I just never spent a lot of time around them. I don't really think of myself as Mando, if I did, I'd have talked about it before now."
Sang laughed "Brother, you show up wearing Mando armor, you want to die in battle, you could care less about right or wrong as long as your honor is left alone. You are Mando. You are just gonna have to get over it."
Wulfgar started laughing and so did Sang. In walked the other guy that had been with Sang when he showed up.
"Gentlemen, how long is it going to take us to get to our destination? I'm growing bored."
Wulfgar gave Sang a long look that stated simply that this guy had to be kidding...
Tol could hear Archpriest Legorii walking towards the cockpit. He wasn’t sure how to react to the Anzati. He had only heard stories of the race and knew that they were driven by their hunger. He was surprised that an Anzati and a Quaestor to boot would even bother speaking to him. In order to obtain the power that he wanted he would have to stay close to the Archpreist. The Twi’lek tugged at his clothing which suddenly felt out of place at the thought of having his brain eaten through his nose.
Tol stretched his arms, as the pleasure yacht flew through hyperspace to Nal Shadda. He had never liked Hutts and he was disgusted by Twi’leks who would even allow them selves to be slaves to those disgusting creatures. His mind drifted back to the mission at hand. The Twi’lek did not like the thought of negotiating with Hutts but, accomplishing the mission is the most important thing. He would have to let his bias go, for now.
“Shab.” Sashar cursed, evoking a warning growl from one of the Drexl. “Shab.”
Mejas was reaching out into the force, trying to triangulate Sashar’s position. The Primarch, during his tenure as Proconsul, had managed to keep the Shadow Lord out of his mind through sheer practice. However, it had meant that the mandalorian hadn’t been able to sleep whenever he was in the same star system as the Shadow Lord. Similarly, he’d perfected masking his presence from Mejas, but he was still debilitated from the poison, and his force reserves were never substantial. In minutes, the Zabrak would have him.
Sashar, di Tenebrous Arconae, Primarch and Shade Warrior of Arcona, raised himself to his full height, drew his last remaining weapon – an SSK-7 Heavy Blaster Pistol, and shot the lock to the enclosure. At this, one of the two Drexls reared up, alarmed but a soothing mental brush calmed the beast. Mejas’s attention spiked and he further zeroed in on Sashar. He ignored the buzzing at the back of his skull, the sensation of someone watching him and stepped out into the corridor. Two further blasts took out the two security holocams and another shorted out the turbolift door controls. With grim purpose, he tapped a complicated rhythm into the wall and waited, the silenced barrel of his blaster bouncing repeatedly off his thigh in impatience.
“Lord Consul, we have two cameras out and a disabled turbolift in the Beastiary.” Colonel Rect, CO of the 1st Heavy Infantry reported, pressing his hand to the corner of his helmet, allowing him to listen in more clearly.
Mejas stiffened in the throne. “Seal off the area. Place troops at every single exit to the level and get me Lorden on the comlink. Now.”
He glanced absently over at one of the display tables and made sure Sashar’s shoto was indeed still there – without a lightsaber, the Mandalorian would be a lot easier to subdue or kill.
“Rules of engagement, milord?” Rect asked.
“Kill him. Stop at nothing to do so.”
The Primarch emerged in the sub-sub basement opposite the generator room. He slipped in and flicked his blaster to stun, then quietly dispatched the engineers on duty. When he was confident that there was nobody else the vicinity, he set to work on the generator.
Right, I’ve got 50 meters of explosive tape...should be enough to do the job. He thought, yanking a strip from the small coil dispenser at his belt and set to work wrapping it around the main power conduits from the core.
In less than two minutes, he’d already left and was back into the secret network of hidden passages he’d had honeycombed the new Citadel on its construction – only he knew of their existence, as he had taken great pains to mind-rub every single person involved in its construction that had access to the information, other than his Proconsul. His escape plan required several more steps before he was ready to actually make good on it.
“No trace of him down here, sir, though we can’t find the Beast Rider anywhere. What are our orders?” The Sergeant reported in over the comlink. Colonel Rect glanced over at Mejas for confirmation, who nodded once.
“Come back in, Sergeant. Call in any off-duty personnel and prepare for another, wider search.” Rect ordered, gesturing for Captain Bly, CO of the Summit Guardsmen to come over.
“Captain, keep half your men with the Lord Consul. The other half will need to go hunting for Sashar. Send them in pairs with a squad of Citadel guards to each pairing as reports come in.”
Through all this, Mejas barely moved. He was, once again concentrating intensely and trying to triangulate his former apprentices’ position. He got a feeling of beneath, but nothing more concrete – Sashar had obviously been practicing.
“Sir! We’ve got...a bit of an anomaly here. There’s a Larty incoming from Torbai garrison requesting permission to land in the courtyard. Apparently the Consul’s code was used.” An attendant called out from one of the hastily erected control consoles.
Mejas spun around, nostrils flaring, his eyes blazing with fury. “What? Cancel the order. Colonel, get troops to the courtyard. Now.”
Rect was already speaking fervently into his helmet.
The attendant went pale. “Uhh, we have another Larty being readied in the Hangar. Make that two Larties, opposite ends of the Hangar.”
Mejas’s fist clenched. “Lock him out of the Network, and send troops to secure the Hangar and every single craft with wings down there.”
“Milord, it’s impossible to lock him out – he helped design the computer system and is bound to have left back doors everywhere.”
“Who else programmed it?” He ground out, barely restraining his anger.
The Attendant’s hands danced over the console. “A... Atuch Donlus. A corporate-level Computer Programmer with a dubious history. Several records of her working both for and against the Empire.”
“Is she in-system?”
“One better, Milord. She’s in the Citadel. We kept her on to help on with the administration of the new mainframe.”
“Bring her to me.” He growled.
“Another Larty being ordered to land on the roof.” Another attendant called out, evoking several groans of frustration.
Sashar stood up from the terminal and said quietly “Don’t fail me now...” knowing full-well he wouldn’t get a response, then proceeded to the nearest access to the private access tunnels, making sure to avoid the holocams. His next destination would be far harder to reach.
Ten minutes stretched out as he pulled him and his considerably heavy armour up rung after rung of a ladder, ascending the Citadel Tower with a plodding relentlessness. Four minutes after that, as he was approaching the top, he felt Mejas’s scrutiny once again. He paused to depress a button on his gauntlet and tightened his grip as a rumble shook the ladder. The lights in the cramped accessway switched off, and a moment later backup lighting flickered to life.
“That’ll keep them busy for a while...” He grinned to himself and emerged on the top most level.
Backup power kicked in and the Citadel Guardsmen were already on their way down to the Generator complex below, however Mejas knew they wouldn’t find anything. The explosion had disturbed the delicate equilibrium required to keep both his sanity in check and focus the force to such an extent as to find his protégé. He decided he’d done entirely too good a job training him.
“Colonel, he’s not down there. Send your men further up the tower.” Rect looked up to gauge the Consul’s seriousness, and then nodded his understanding.
Lantano Sarutobi marched into the now-busy Throne room, a woman held by one arm accompanying him. She was plain, short, and looked surly – the typical mercenary slicer. Mejas called her towards him with the force and sat her down roughly at a terminal, looming behind her.
“Your former employer is using a system you co-designed with him to escape captivity. Find out where he is, tell me, and then lock him out.” Mejas ordered.
“I work for him, not you. No dice.” Donlus glared up back at the Zabrak, showing either considerable courage or considerable stupidity.
Mejas actually smiled – the first time since Sashar had started running amuck. “You’re under the impression that you’ll be paid for this. If you stop him, you live. If you don’t stop him, I collect your rodding head.”
Donlus without another word. Thirty seconds into her task, she looked up. “Got him. He’s using a terminal on level 34. What else is up there...” She muttered to herself. “Oh. Crap. He’s going to-“ Before she could finish, an alarm blasted out over the intercom.
“What is that?!” Mejas roared over the racket.
“It’s the general invasion alarm. It means that all troops need to get to their crisis positions and that the general staff of the Citadel are to report to the bunker.” Rect answered grimly, having to shout to be heard.
“Shut it off!” Mejas replied.
“I can’t! He’s put a shifting pass on the alarm and something else I can’t yet identify. It’d take me at least half an hour to get past it!” Donlus shouted back over the din.
“Call the troops, tell them to ignore the alarm.” Mejas suggested, growing exasperated.
Atuch abruptly tore off her headset with a yelp, as did several of the other attendants. The troops in the throne room also cried out in pain before they were able to disable their comlinks.
“He’s jamming us, milord.” Rect said redundantly.
Mejas glanced over at Lantano, who nodded his understanding and gestured for two of the Consul’s Guard to accompany him, his destination: the comm jammer.
Sashar emerged at the top level of the tower and made sure to seal the secret passageway behind him. Before him two troops stood nervously, talking to one another. With the alarm going off they’d been sent to their emergency station, which was to guard the consul’s office, however without the consul inside it, they obviously felt it was redundant. The SSK-7 strobed blue twice and the troops dropped to the floor, twitching. He stepped over their bodies and into the Consul’s office, then reinforced the door behind him by hitting the panic button after disabling the silent alarm that would be sent to the guards’ station. Grinning, the consul flicked on the caf machine and sat down at his desk, opening up the inbuilt terminal.
“Consul override AT3. Lock out all other interfaces and redirect all control of primary and secondary systems to the Consul’s Office.” The console beeped its understanding and Sashar crossed the room once more, snatching a cigar from the case on his desk before taking a cup of caf from the machine and sitting back down, lighter in hand. He tapped a rapid series of commands into the console and the air before him shimmered into a series of 2D representations of the Hangar, the Throne Room, the corridor approaching the Consul’s Office and the Proconsul’s office. Strategos, interestingly, wasn’t in the Throne Room. Rather, he was sat in his office, with Major Helder Kemp, talking quietly.
“De-activate the alarm on level one.” He muttered, frowning slightly at the din he’d caused. Another sip of the caf marked the cessation of the racket.
Mejas force-flung one of the attendants halfway across the throne room in a fit of anger and poor Atuch Donlus flinched. Still the alarm kept blaring, and Mejas finally regained some form of composure, his bloodlust apparently sated. The Shadow Lord’s eyes closed and once again Sashar felt that prickle of someone’s eyes upon him. Grinning wolfishly, Sashar depressed another button.
In the throne room it started to rain. The sprinkler system poured down water with relentless efficiency, soaking the inhabitants instantly.
“Where is he?” Mejas roared, absolutely furious that Sashar would have the gall necessary to try and humiliate the Shadow Lord thusly.
“The troops we sent to level 34 found an open terminal with an astromech operating it. Apparently the droid was operating under orders from Sashar. It doesn’t know where he went.” Rect reported after talking to one of the troops that had just jogged back in.
Abruptly, the comlink speakers crackled, and the jamming field dropped. “We’ve disabled the jamming field and are on our way back.” Lantano reported, sounding a little out of breath.
Donlus grimaced. “I’ve been monitoring the automated system reports since the power was taken out and a couple piqued my curiosity. The security blast doors were activated in the Consul’s Office. Also, the master terminal in the office was activated. I can’t see what the terminal is doing – apparently my clearance isn’t high enough. The only person that can block me out is-“
“Sashar. Waymaster, seal off the top level and capture him. Immediately.”
A silent alarm flashed above the office door and the former Consul grimaced. They’d found him quicker than he’d expected. He stood up, downed the rest of his caf, put down his half-smoked cigar and moved over to the armoire. Atop it were a number of items he’d taken out in preparation: Another noghri sickle, a length of hyper-tension microline wire, a 434 Deathhammer pistol modified to fire nonlethal blasts, and his backup lightsaber – Fraternity. Sashar slid on his helmet and flicked his frequency over to the one used by the Citadel Guard, then grinned as he heard the troops only now reporting in after the air raid siren had sent them scurrying for their duty stations. He emerged from the office and jogged back to the secret passage entrance, sliding the door shut behind him just as the turbolift’s light flicked on outside – Lantano and two guardsmen were outside.
Lorden marched into the Throne room, ignoring both the rain and the troops and stopped before Mejas. “What the hell is this?!”
The Shadow Lord’s eyes flared at Lorden’s tone.
“I’m doing your job, lackey. I found Sashar and am now tracking him down. In moments, he’ll be dead.” Mejas replied, his hand around Bloodfang. Already, a circle of Guardsmen was forming around the two.
“No, you moron. You flushed him out before we had the ambush in place, and now he’ll escape your clutches, deny us the chance to finish him and rally support in the clan before you’ve cemented yourself. You rushed, and now we risk losing everything. I’m beginning to doubt my colleagues’ interest in you.”
Mejas’s hand lashed out in a humiliating backhand that spun Lorden’s head around, spraying blood and spit over a terminal. For a moment, Lorden looked as if he’d like he was about to snap, but he inhaled and exhaled through his nose, then responded.
“Think about it. He’s able to freely move around the Citadel whilst not encountering a single guard. He had the place built. There’s bound to be secret passages you’re not aware of, that are presumably undetectable, which means airtight, otherwise the droids cleaning the place would notice the airflow and try to get in and clean it. So...”
“So, if we drop the pressure in an area we know he’s been, the difference in air pressure from the secret tunnels will force open the secret passage doors!” Donlus finished, grinning, her hands twitching over the keypad.
“Can we have a unit of troops sent to level 34? There should be an accessway popping open any second there, also it might be wise to alert the troops to watch for any other hatches opening in the vicinity.” Donlus said, her hands playing across the keys.
Mejas nodded and Rect complied instantly. The Shadow Lord then closed his eyes, trying to pin down his former apprentices’ mind. “Down. He’s heading back down-“
“Which means he intends to leave the Citadel.” Lorden interrupted. “That in turn means either the courtyard or the Hangar bays. Excuse me.” Without another word he turned and left, presumably to head off the Mandalorian.
Sashar di Tenebrous Arconae emerged on the level of his escape brazenly. There were no troops stationed in the corridors, ready to intercept him. There were no elaborate traps, no blockades. The only sound that greeted him was the restless grunting of two caged animals. He was back in the Bestiary. Two slashes from his lightsaber and the bars clattered to the ground. A stroke from the force and one of the beasts was placated, mounted, and the other urged to explore the Citadel’s depths. Another nudge, and the mighty Drexl’s wings stretched as it bound from the cage and swept from under the Citadel’s shadow, under the courtyard, beneath the observation of any of the Citadel Guardsmen or the Zabrak sitting on the throne.
“Agent Tavis, you’re activated. Auth code AT3. Your Mission is to secure a hyperdrive-capable transport for rapid exfilitration from Selen via Giletta Spaceport, then report back to me. You have fifteen standard minutes to complete this task, do you understand?” Sashar spoke quickly into his helmet comlink, confident that the transmission wouldn’t be decrypted until he was well off-planet.
“Understood, sir.” The clipped coruscanti accent belonging to one of the few Ghost Cell agents left in waiting answered instantly.
Urging the beast on, the Primarch felt the thrill of the chase once more – it was far more exhilarating on the back of a flying beast that would just as soon eat him as look at him, had he not the force to temper its more base motivations.
Donlus’s head had been lopped clean off. The terminals lay in wreckage and Rect was unconscious after being force-flung across the chamber. All of the guards left alive had backed up but not opposed the Consul, and most of the others as well as all of the attendants had only felt the stab of force lightning briefly before Mejas Doto had ripped their lives from them in a peak of rage.
He wasn’t even breathing heavily. Instead, the Consul screamed, letting a howl of insanity rip through the Citadel, through the force, sure that every single force user in the system would feel his rage and quiver in terror. Once again, Sashar had cheated death, cheated him, and now he could lose everything once again.
Lorden would pay. Sashar would pay. They’d all pay. Everyone that had ever crossed him, had ever dared to give him anything less than total worship. They’d pay in blood, and it would be a slow, lingering reminder to the rest as to precisely what happened when one offended a Dark Jedi Master, Primus Arconae, Shadow Lord and Consul of Clan Arcona.
Arconan Citadel on Selen
Even to a mere novice of the Dark Side, Consul Mejas Doto's rage was detected like a flashing light in the dark. Indeed, this rage encouraged the young Keadean called Arack Tavar to make haste in his task of locating one of the officials of his new home...House Galeres.
The Keadean had been on Selen for just over three months now and he had become somewhat used to the technology that was part of the Clan's everyday life. Yet the abundance and capability of it all still made Arack's jaw drop at times. In the nomadic ways of the Keadeans, blasters weren't even thought of and swords and spears were the weapons of choice. Now the young man was trying to use it as if he had been doing so all his life.
A silvery chrono, a time-telling device, was snapped to his left wrist, a comlink for communications was hung from his belt. In the same fashion, his standard datapad that held his current orders was snug in the pouch attached to his belt. A navy blue tunic covered Arack's chest and light weight black pants led down to equally black boots. A 22t4 blaster pistol was strapped to his right thigh and Tavar's long black hair was tied up in a style known as the "rogue knot" with a single piece of nerfhide.
Jogging up a small set of stairs, Arack found what he was looking for in the massive Citadel; a holo-display of a map of the Citadel. While most of the display was in blue, key parts of the layout were in red, reflecting that the general invasion alarm was still in effect. Tracing his finger, and shuddering at how it dipped through the map, Arack traced a line from his current location to where Quaestor Etah Idanian had set up a temporary office along with his lieutenant, Aedile Zakath.
Mounting another set of stairs, the Novice of Galeres prayed to his deity, the Stag, for clarification of the mess that Arcona found herself embroiled in....
"We've arrived," Wulfgar spoke curtly, swiveling in his chair to face Sanguinius. Legorii turned away from the cockpit where he had passed the time in subdued conversation with his subordinates, passing the Twi'lek as he made his way to the rear of the ship. Pausing, the Quaestor turned to him.
"Come with me. We're going to meet with an old friend, a particularly disgusting Hutt with a disproportionate amount of power on this hellish planet. We must persuade him to cease business operations with Displace. Sanguinius and Wulfgar will infiltrate his stronghold and take up positions that will allow us to exercise force, should our negotiations sour," Legorii spoke quickly, aware of the acceleration of events around him.
By now, Prophecy Phyle was sure to have arrived at Nal Hutta. They would be arranging a meeting with one of the Hutt lords there, but Legorii doubted they would have much success without the added support of the Hutt he was searching out.
Tol merely nodded in response. Legorii briskly descended the ramp out the back of the ship, his destination pictured clearly in his mind. The Hutt's fortress was not far from this star port, and the Anzat hoped he had not been killed by a rival in the time since they had last met, when Legorii was representing his father's interests many years ago.
Kant stood at the center of the wedge formation, his men fanned out behind him. They were dressed in their battle armor, but their weapons had been taken from them. Their helmets were tucked under their arms, all eyes on the massive alien lounging before them, bulbous eyes flickering about the room.
The Tetrarch waited patiently for the grotesque figure to speak. When he finally did it was in garbled Basic, and his flesh quivered with every movement of his vocal cords.
"What is it you seek here, Jedi?"
The battleteam leader glanced back at the man standing to his right. Lan's face was expressionless, but Kant could almost see the gears of his mind working as he considered the dozens of guards and slaves, both hidden and in plain sight. Kant sighed inwardly; this probably would not work as planned.
"My name is Kant Lavar, and I could representing Clan Arcona, a faction of Dark Jedi located many parsecs from here. We come to discuss an issue of mutual business concern; Displace Intergalactic." Kant hesitated, looking down for a second, before deciding to bring the truth of the matter to the forefront. "We wish for you and your business partners to cease all trade and communication with them, immediately."
Silence filled the room. There was not so much as a creak of body armor or the sigh of a servant girl, as the Hutt appraised Kant and his crew. Finally, the alien tipped his head back and guffawed. The Tetrarch shifted his weight uncomfortably, but did not take his deadly serious gaze from the Hutt's massive body.
Finally, the deep laughter ceased. "You are a fool, Jedi. Displace warned me about you and your friends," the Hutt chuckled once more, beckoning idly to a scantily clad servant girl. "Guards, kill them all."
Before the final word had left the Hutt's mouth, Prophecy was in motion. Kant leapt forward, sliding a tiny dagger from a crease in his armor. The tyros scattered, throwing themselves at the brutish guards without remorse. They killed in any way they could, utilizing the Force and their hand to hand skills. They knew, however, that if they were to survive they would need their weapons back.
The skirmish began to unfold, with the Dark Jedi fighting for their lives.
The two Dark Jedi had their hoods drawn up over their heads, obscuring their dark eyes and casting their features in shadow. They gained entrance to the fortress easily enough; obtaining an audience with the Hutt was a more complex issue. However, a few swift Force applications later and they were in the audience chamber.
Legorii had hid his lightsaber within his robe, and had endured a rough pat-down from one of the Hutt's stupid guards in order to keep it. Tol did not carry a lightsaber, and had seemed slightly embarrassed to relinquish his blaster. No matter. An Archpirest should be able to hold his own against a group of thugs like these.
The Quaestor wasted no time in beginning his discussion with the Hutt, whom he knew simply as Goll. No doubt the crimelord had a much longer and more phonetically inconvenient name than that, but Goll would do just fine. "Goll, you seem to have grown fatter since we last met," Legorii spoke evenly, feeling his companion's discomfort at such an insult to the Hutt while they were at his mercy.
To Tol's surprise, however, the Hutt merely smiled. "You are a fool for returning here, son of Kryotek. What is it you seek?" Legorii appeared thoughtful for a minute, gauging the mood the beast was in.
"I seek your support in my Clan's mission to persuade the Hutt Lords to cease trade with one Displace Intergalactic. They are stealing our business," Legorii admitted with a grin. The Hutt nodded slowly, his eyes fixed on the Dark Jedi.
"Sounds simple enough," Goll spoke slowly. Legorii did not respond, instead taking the moment to glance swiftly around the room. There were surprisingly few guards around, but the Archpriest could tell that they were no simple thugs, like most crimelords kept. Goll was cunning, and these men were talented.
The Hutt grunted, creating minute tremblings in the stone beneath their feet. "I'll make you a deal. Bring me the head of my rival...you know who he is...and I will make it happen."
Legorii could sense Tol's surprise at the ease of their dealings. The Equite hid a smile, but nodded slowly. "You have yourself a deal. I will deliver his head within the next 24 hours...in the meantime, I will leave my associate here as a...bargaining chip."
Tol's eyes widened as the Anzat shoved him roughly toward Goll. To his credit, the Twi'lek retained his footing, as Legorii turned on his heel and made his way from the fortress.
Lan felt the Dark Side well up within him, and he released it in a brutal flash of power. Four brutes were felled before him, and he bounded forward to retrieve one of the lightsabers the guard had dropped. In one fluid motion he thumbed the activation knob and plunged the blade deep into the chest of a fallen thug.
The Force flowed through him once more, and he hurled his teammates weapons across the room. Their training served them well, and the tide of the battle turned quickly. After just a minute or two more of combat, the Phyle had subdued the Hutt's remaining guards.
Kant advanced on the crimelord. "Now, I will allow you to reconsider. Cease operations with Displace Intergalactice, and persuade your business partners to do the same, or I will kill you." The Tetrarch leveled his blade toward the area where the grotesque blob's throat should be.
Nervous sweat was beading on the Hutt's brow. "Of course I will reconsider. Consider it done," the alien spoke quickly, fear affecting his Basic. Kant nodded curtly.
"Very well. I will leave two of my men here to make sure you don't change your mind." Kant's eyes locked with Jandos and Earnest, and they nodded. The Tetrarch's hand snapped up in a quick salute, and he beckoned for the others to follow him as he made his way out of the Hutt's chamber.
"The other Great Clans will be displeased," the Hutt's voice boomed out from behind them.
Kant froze, and he turned slowly. "What did you just say?"
The Eldarian native looked left and then right as he finally arrived on the floor where Quaestor Etah Idanian and Aedile Zakath had set up their command post. The Keadean was mad and embarrased; it had been 20 minutes since he first found that holo-map.
Arack had become horribly lost, and pushing through Citadel aides and military personnel, had finally found another console where he had preceded to try and download the Citadel map onto his datapad and had failed utterly, much to the amusement of the two Arconan military NCO's guarding a doorway behind him.
Finally succeeding after 15 minutes of concentrated attempts and numerous pushes of the 'help' button, Tavar had set off on the right course, which brought him to his current location.
Eying the numbers blazoned into the doors and flicking his gaze back to his datapad, Arack arrived at the door to the temporary Galerian office when the durasteel door slid open (yet another thing that still sent chills up Arack's spine) and Arack began to walk through when he collided with a tall thing and went flying back into the corridor.
Looking up, Arack Tavar saw a black robed figure emerge from the Galerian HQ. Trailing up from his black combat boots, to his simple but menacing black robes, and finally to his pale face and blazing yellow eyes. A mess of black hair crowned his head...but Arack could not stop looking at the eyes.
Marking himself in the ways of both the Bull and the Stag, Arack scuttled back on his hands until common sense washed over him and he shot his gaze down to the floor and stopped moving.
The figure watched him silently and then walked towards him and said slowly, but with a voice full of authority, "Rise"
Resting his hands on his hips as his black cloak settled around his gaunt frame, Zakath's sulphuric eyes watched dispassionately as the man drew himself up into a rigid posture. The new Aedile of Galeres said nothing as he studied the other human, his eyes narrowing as he felt the palpable waves of fear pouring out of the man. It was clear to the Aedile that he had not been with the clan for long.
"Who are you?" Zakath's voice was calm and deep, something that seemed to frighten the man even more.
"I-I am Novice Arack Tavar and I am her-"
"Silence." Zakath interrupted, his voice going silken. "You are a Novice? And yet you do not wear the customary robes of your rank."
"I just got here, si- erk" The Novice suddenly found it harder to breathe as something gripped at his throat, just barely letting air through.
"When I give you permission to speak, you will speak. Until then, be silent." Zakath hissed before he released the Force's grip on Arack's neck. "The robes you will wear from this point forward serves a purpose beyond just simple clothing. You will wear it until permitted otherwise by your superiors. Is that understood?"
"Y-yes sir." Arack's voice trembled slightly.
"Good. Get your robes on and then report to my chambers for further instructions." Zakath's gaze dropped to Arack's blaster strapped to his side. "And you might want to bring your weapon with you."
With that, the Galeres Aedile stalked off into the hallway, his cloak fluttering behind him.
As he walked down the hallway, Zakath was deep in his thoughts, considering the volatile situation that the new Aedile had suddenly found himself in. The appointment to the position of Aedile, the first rung of actual power, had not been unexpected, but the suddenly murky sea of politics surrounding the upper leadership certainly was, especially with the new Lord Consul's return to the Arconan throne. The fact that the general alarm had sounded meant that something had gone wrong. But what? Zakath's lips twisted as he picked up his pace. Time to contact the Quaestor.
Turning the corner into another shadowy hallway, Zakath came to a sudden stop as a loud wail broke the silence. Narrowing his eyes, Zakath stared into the shadows, reaching out with the Force to probe lightly into the darkness. Ah... Xathia's servant and baby. He shook his head as he approached the frightened woman, who was holding the baby fearfully. He had never understood why someone would want to have a family in an environment such as this. Or even having a family at all for that matter.
"And what is a caretaker and her ward doing in a place like this?" Zakath asked, his voice silken.
"I-I was just trying to find out what was going on, my lord." The woman replied, shaking slightly as she held the crying baby in her arms protectively.
"I see. And where is her mother?" Zakath asked, a sudden suspicion striking him. "Surely Xathia can easily find out, given her former status as a member of the Summit."
"I- I don't know where she is."
"Hm..." Zakath's sulphuric eyes stared suspiciously at her before he retrieved his communicator, punching in Xathia's comm number. Before he could even speak, the communicator beeped, indicating that Xathia's comm was switched off. "Her comm is off. Very curious indeed.
"I think you better come with me. No better source right now than me to find out what's going on, since I'm rather curious myself." Zakath smiled thinly as he gestured toward the hallway leading toward his chambers. "And it would be the best way to keep your mistress' baby... safe for the time being."
Zakath's arm dropped to the lightsaber hanging from his belt to emphasize the point. The woman gulped slightly before nodding and walking toward the indicated chamber.
Time to find out what's going on here.
Arconan Citadel on Selen: Dark Jedi Armory, Sub-Basement
Arack Tavar was still massaging his throat as he walked into the small armory of the Dark Jedi that garrisoned at the Citadel. Snoozing behind a desk was a squat Bith, a dirty holo-magazine over his face. Arack timidly knocked on the synth-wood desk but when the Bith made no move to answer, the Novice let his anger swell up and tried to tap into the Dark Side that he had just seen Aedile Zakath use.
As such, Tavar slammed his fist down on the wood, sending the Bith toppling back in his chair and then sputtering as he tried to regain his footing.
"What do you want! Can't you see I'm on a break!?" yelled the Bith, his tanned skin turning a shade pink as he threw the dirty mag under his desk. Arack raised a raven-black eyebrow and fixed a emerald green eye on the alien before replying.
"I see no such thing"
"Who are you anyway?" spat the Bith as he dusted off his Dajorra Defence Force uniform and stared at Arack with his bulbous eyes.
"If it pleases you, I request seven sets of Novice robes for personal and ceremonial use" answered Arack, fishing his datapad out of his trouser pocket and attempted to bring up his Arconan ID card.
The Quartermaster noticed what Arack was trying to do and waved his hand. "Naa, I don't need that. But who's authority can I sign you out under? Need it for the records, understand?"
Arack's mind flashed back to the evil Sith that his superior and had submitted him to a Force Choke before slowly and steadily replying...
The Bith Quartermaster's already wide eyes widened even further and he nodded his head fervently and set his fingers in motion as he authorized the order.
Twenty minutes later, after a forced sonic-shower, Arack Tavar stood before the steel door leading to Zakath's private chambers, dressed in his brand new Novice robes.
A tunic of light black material now covered his chest as well as pants of the same color that lead down into black combat boots. A cloak of a slightly darker black was pinned at his shoulders and his hood was drawn. On the shoulders, where a military officers rank insignia would be found, were two blue flashes that denoted his rank as a Novice. Completing the ensemble was a slightly used nerfhide utility belt in which Arack's old, but still letahl, Eldarian Ranger kukri hung.
Running a gloved hand over his right thigh, Arack felt the cold metal of his 22t4 blaster pistol strapped there. Taking a deep breath and now sure that he was ready, Tavar raised his right hand in preperation to knock when the durasteel door slid open by itself.
Taking yet another deep breath, and hearing the audible *gulp*, the former Eldarian Ranger marked himself in the way of the Stag and walked into the dark chambers.
Zakath turned his head as he felt the small spike in the Force as the Novice known as Arack Tavar, a former Waymen of the Eldarian Rangers, entered his quarters.
"Welcome, Novice" said the Aedile and he returned his gaze to the Omwati woman and young baby girl that she was holding and who were seated across from him, free of restraint.
"Hel...Hello, Aedile" stammered Arack, the confidence that he had gathered vanishing in an instant.
"I doubt you are familiar with our guests" continued the Aedile, and he raised a pale hand towards the woman and the baby girl.
"I...I am not, my lord" replied Tavar, sweat beading on his brow.
"The woman is Byrna, an Omwati and assistant to Xathia, a former member of the Summit. She was before your time" explained the Galereian lieutenant. Zakath paused before continuing when the Wayman didn't speak.
"The baby's identity supersedes your current rank, but rest knowing she is important. Now, your first task to prove your worth, Novice, is not to spill blood but to test your patience. You will watch over them with the utmost care. They are not to be restrained as prisoners but they are not to leave my chambers. Do not fail me, Novice" ordered Zakath and the true Sith Knight rose from his chair like a graceful panther before nodding to Byrna and then to Arack before sweeping out of his quarters.
Looking around the simple but yet oddly important accomadations, Arack Tavar fixed his gaze upon Byrna and her charge and stood at attention, making no motion to sit down. To her credit, the Omwati caretaker never recoiled nor broke the look that she returned to Arack.
As she stared down the Novice called Arack Tavar, Byrna began slowly opening herself to the Force. She doubted that the jailer would be able to sense it before it was to late, but she couldn't be to sure...she had learned that the hard way many a time. So she continued to gather the Force to herself even as she tried to put Alyssa to sleep. The less interference with what she had planned, the better....
Legorii pushed his way into yet another cantina, his frustration mounting. The Quaestor had been counting on an important source, a new Dark Jedi in House Qel-Droma with a knowledge of the moon. He would be found in one of these cantinas, for sure, waiting for the Anzat. This particular cantina was dark, a faintly sour scent in the air.
The Archpriest's keen eyes swept the tables, searching for Driftan Housan. Finally, he thought he'd located him. Just a faint Dark Side presence, a novice Force user. The large Krath glanced around, looking for a potential threat, but deciding the cantina was secure.
As he made his way to the table, Driftan stood. "My Quaestor, I have been expecting you. I got your transmission, and know who your Hutt is. He's residing in a palace just a few kilometers from where Goll resides, and I have already secured the access codes. We leave on your word."
Legorii nodded almost imperceptibly. "We leave immediately," he replied. "Get a link to the Aedile on the comlink. Driftan will supply the coordinates and he and Wulfgar can meet us there."
The Journeyman already had his comlink in hand as they left the cantina.
"You have dealings with the other Clans?" Kant demanded, glaring at the Hutt.
There was a deep, throaty chuckle in response. "But of course. The Hutt empire has its fingers in many pies, I assure you." The crimelord was clearly enjoying the concern displayed on the Tetrarch's face, glad to have some form of retaliation for the humiliation he had endured at Prophecy's hands.
Kant quickly regained his composure, turning once more to leave. "No matter. There is much work to be done before Displace can be utterly destroyed," Kant muttered to nobody in particular. The Krath Tyros left the fortress, intent on securing the "loyalty" of the next Hutt lord on the list.
Bryna finally lulled Alyssa to sleep with the Force. She could feel the child drool a little through her robes as she continued staring down the Novice. It wouldn't take much to break him she believed, or at least distract him long enough to get out of here. Xathia had taught her to never trust anyone else with Alyssa and she wasn't getting answers this way. It had annoyed her to be referred to as Xathia's servant, but the male had not been worth correcting if he was a member of the summit.
Her hand held Alyssa's head steady against her slender frame whilst she concentrated on creating enough of a distraction outside the door, just far enough away to be able to escape out the other way without this Novice blocking the doorway.
Arack looked nervous before the Omwati gently compelled him to go and check that nothing to intercept Bryna and Alyssa from his watch. As soon as both his feet were outside the door, the woman sped out of the room, using the Force to enhance her speed and enabling her to keep out of the Novice's grasp. She turned several corners before stopping to breathe and check Alyssa was ok.
Bryna knew she needed to get hold of Xathia as soon as possible, but it could cost both of them deeply from the impression the Omwati got of the situation.
Timeros checked the corridor before slipping back out into the shadows. His way of movement was smooth, like he was meant to be amongst the shadows instead of the light. He was aware of every movement made it seemed as he stopped at the same moment someone else walked past the corner.
Xathia knew he couldn't come with her, but if he knew of what was happening then maybe it'd buy them some time and get them closer to their goal much quicker. She kept her thoughts quiet as her mind went back to dwelling on Alyssa and hoping that Bryna wouldn't let someone else get hold of her again.
Timeros would carry on as usual, as though he had never caught Xathia. The woman slipped off in the other direction from the Epis, focused on keeping herself hidden and out of the range of anyone who could turn her in. The Priestess found herself obsessing over how she walked and how deep in the shadows she kept herself, paranoid that someone else would do what Timeros had done. She needed to get back to the rendezvous point to meet up with Vassan and Xuthen. It was the only way the former Quaestor saw herself surviving.
Vassan was getting mildly irritated by all the people who were walking down the corridor. It was getting him nowhere if he had to keep on concealing himself from everyone. Something had rippled through the Force earlier from what felt like Mejas. It had been pure anger anyway, so it was one being he needed to avoid. He had to keep his focus, or face the consequences, he mulled solemnly as yet another darkly cloaked figure passed his invisible one. He couldn't distinguish friend from foe, from who would betray them to who would help them. Glaring out into the dully lit passage, the Epis reached out to try and sense if the way was clear for him to begin a fast tracking move to find a known friend.
He ducked into a darkened side corridor, pressed against the wall as a pair of Journeymen walked down, talking in low voices. "Did you feel that sheer power of anger? I don't want to cross paths with whoever that was. I feel sorry for Soulfire as well, having to wear those collars which cut them off from the Force and go on that mission. Seems a bit suicidal, don't you think?"
"You're letting your fear get the best of you. You'll be next at that rate. We need to support the new Consul and do as he wants us to, and betray anyone who doesn't do that."
A hand touched his shoulder as the two Journeymen continued down the corridor, talking as they went on. Vassan jumped violently and twisted around, facing an Omwati who was heavily cloaked and seemed to be carrying something. They beckoned to a room a little further down the corridor and seemed to plead alliance to the male.
Once the door had been shut, a candle was lit which gave the room a shadowy effect. The cloak was removed from the frail frame of the female, to reveal that she had been hiding a baby. They locked eyes and stared each other down a little.
"It's Xathia's. I can't find her or get in contact with her. I was hoping you could inform me a little on where she is. We were temporarily detained by a member of the Summit but managed to escape. I don't know if someone is out looking for us or not. If that Summit member has been informed we're missing then they'll be out looking for us. I don't know what's going off, but it's something big and that's all I know." The Omwati spoke in a hushed voice, scared of being found.
"We're going to meet at a rendezvous point. I won't tell you where or when for safety precautions. I will pass on the message that you and the baby were safe when I last saw you. I do need to find someone who can help us."
The Omwati nodded and put out the candle before bundling up in the heavy cloak and disappearing out of the doorway and down the corridor. Vassan thought that keeping on the move would be the best way to not get caught. If Xathia had found Timeros and about his loyalties, then Strategos would be another good place to start. His well known power across the clan would come in with a heavy assistance if his loyalties could be proven to lie with what was best for the clan, and not for his own survival.
Xathia's hair whipped around herself as she pressed her figure back against the wall, trying to not even breathe so hard as a darkly clad figure walked past. Everyone she had hidden from was scared or seemed to strive just to survive. She'd heard bits and pieces about Soulfire and being cut off from the Force by some sort of collar, but very little about anything else. Returning to the rendovous point was going to take more effort then she first thought.
Her mind wandered a little. She could count on Timeros to help where possible, but what about her own loyalties? Could she count on herself to do what was best for the clan instead of for her own survival? What if someone used Bryna and Alyssa against her to ensure she did as they wanted?
"Zakath caught someone wandering, apparently he used a Novice to guard them but they escaped. They were suppose to be kept safe or something…Xathia…baby…" the rest of the conversation was lost to the Priestess's ears, but it struck deep within her core. The footsteps had died away, as the woman slipped back out into the passageway. Torn between searching down for Zakath or Bryna, and returning to the meeting point.
Tol stood in the middle of the audience chamber, looking at the Hutt. “You’re not as ugly as most Twi’leks,” the fat slug laughed, “A lethan would make a fine addition to my collection.” Tol resisted the urge to end the Hutt’s miserable existence. Goll lifted his arm, “Take him to quarters,” he motioned to one of the guards. He then looked back at the young Dark Jedi, “Let’s hope, for your sake, your associate returns.”
The Em’liy grabbed Tol by the arm to lead him from the room. The Journeyman grabbed his wrist and twisted it, while stepping behind the guard. He shoved his foot into the back of the Em’liy’s knee, forcing him to the ground. The Twi’lek twisted the guard’s arm further, forcing him to bow his head down. In another quick motion he placed his foot on the side of the guard’s face, “Please, do not touch me. Is that understood?” The Em’liy managed to mumble through the pain, “…Yes.” Tol released his grip and the guard stood lifting his weapon, “Stop… take him to quarters,” the Hutt bellowed. “But…” the guard stopped himself rethinking his words as he saw the look on Goll’s face, “as you wish.” “And wipe the boot mark from your face before you return,” the room filled with the Hutt’s laughter.
The Em’liy looked at the Dark Jedi, “Let’s go.” The guard turned and walked out of the audience chamber rubbing his face with the Dark Jedi in tow. The guard stopped in front of a door, “Don’t wander the halls or I will deal with you personally.” “Go and nurse your wounds, lap dog,” the Journeyman replied coldly as he opened the door. “You are lucky the boss wants you alive, or else I would have …” The guard’s words were cut short by Tol’s hand gripping around his throat, “You would have done, what? If you even look at me again, I will tear your heart from your chest and feed it to you. Are we clear?” The Em’liy shook his head in acknowledgement, unable to speak the words. The Twi’lek released the guard and he stumbled against the wall gripping his throat, struggling to take a breath but, before he could speak, the door slammed.
Tol looked around the room. It was sparsely decorated with a chair, a small table with video communicator, an uncomfortable looking bed, and no windows. He laid his cloak over the chair. The Dark Jedi sat on the floor and began to meditate on the mission at hand.
Sanguinius cursed as he spilled his drink down his robe, "That'll bloody stain." He brushed at it ineffectively out of reflex. His attention had been distracted by the beeping of his personal com-link he had on his person. Pulling it out of his pocket he looked at the signal, "Who the hell is calling me now?" The Aedile flipped it open and a small hologram appeared upon it. A newcomer to Qel Droma stood before him, the small green image started to talk, informing Sang of this new predicament.
The Anaxsi couldn't recall the man's name, embarrassment was unusual for the Arconan to feel. "Thank you....." an awkward silence existed for a fraction of a second. "Tell the Quaestor that i shall meet him there, is he expecting us to use force?" The Acolyte's name came to Sang as he spoke those words, Driftan Housan. That was the name. Driftan nodded, "Yes Aedile, i believe so."
"Very well Driftan, you have done well, expect us soon." Sanguinius closed the com-link and pocketed it swiftly, he felt a presence nearby and turned around to find Wulfgar behind him in his Mando'a armour. "We got new orders kid?"
Sang nodded, "That's sir to you old friend." The two men laughed at the joke between them."Yeah, we've got new orders Wulfgar, seems that Legorii ran into more than he bargained for. We're to meet him a few miles from here, seems we're to take out the trash." The Anaxsi grinned at his friend. The helmeted head nodded, "Sounds like my cup of tea."
The small air speeder was well hidden down an alleyway near Goll's palace. The two Dark Jedi had been trying to infiltrate the Hutt's lair, but hadn't made much headway inside. Wulfgar had been looking for a way in when the com had come through. "I bet the old man will be pissed off if he finds out that we were still outside when he chatted to his slimy friend." the Mando chuckled.
"That's why you're not going to tell him Wulfgar." Sang scowled at his accomplice. The two Dark Jedi jumped into the Speeder, Sang in the passenger seat and Wulfgar in the driver's seat. "We're going here." Sang pointed on a map he had taken out of the glove compartment of the air speeder. The man beside him simply switched the engine on and the air speeder shot up off the ground into the air, hurtling towards their destination without looking for oncoming traffic. Horns blared as angry drivers vented their anger at the two Jedi.
Arconan Citadel on Selen
"Tracking a target inside isn't like doing so outside...on the plains" thought Novice Arack Tavar as he stalked down yet another corridor, his kukri hanging ready from his nerfhide belt and the meager Dark Side that he could control coursing through his veins.
It had been just over an hour since Bryna, the best friend of former Quaestor Xathia, had used a Force Illusion to escape from him. Now, in fear of meeting his Aedile's wrath, he searched frantically for the Omwati and her charge. The Obelisk stopped suddenly and his head perked to the left as if he was a hunter that had finally sniffed out his prey...and indeed, he was.
The "smell", which was in reality the Force calling to the inept Dark Sider, led him back the way he had come and took a sharp left to where a door was inlaid into the stone wall of the Citadel. The door itself was non-descript enough except for the glowing red access pad that clearly signified that Arack was locked out.
The room that Bryna had taken shelter in was probably some sort of back up meeting room or maybe a reception area for visiting dignitaries. Rich tapestries hung from three of the four long walls and a dark brown synth-wood table took up a generous portion of the room.
Bryna's suspicions about this being a receiving room were 99% confirmed as she Force-opened a door located on the tapestry-less wall and walked into a small, yet lavish, chamber with flo-couches and chairs, a personal desk, another tapestry, and a deactivated serving droid, similar to the ones awarded to up-and-coming Journeymen of Galeres.
Cradling Alyssa, she quickly walked over to the flo-couch and bundled the baby comfortably and laid her down on the couch, before leaving the annex and returning to the meeting portion of the room. Guilt and deja vu raced through the Omwati as she remembered the last time she had been charged with Alyssa and subsequently hunted by the Shadesworn and Umbra, but she remained steadfast in her conviction that she could defeat the Aedile's pawn.
Almost as if the Dark Side had been reading her mind and playing on her fears, the Force spiked inside her as she felt a mixture of brute force, slicing skill, and Force application being used on the other side of the door. Taking a deep breath, the woman pulled out the simple knife she had looted from a passing Private in the Army and held it at the ready. Her Relby blaster pistols would serve no use to her here in close quarters -- the chance of her blasters killing Arack were just as high as them accidentally causing her own death.
"He's here..." she muttered and a crash was heard from the other side of the door and it suddenly slid open, revealing the black cloaked jailor. Wasting no time, Bryna leapt at him, baring her stolen knife....
"What the kark is this thing?" seethed the Obelisk as he fumbled with wires at the doorpad. Shooting the pad had done nothing but alert a Arconan military Private First Class who had snuck away from his general invasion station for a smoke. Though he had not wanted to resort to the final judgement, the PFC now lay dead behind Tavar, a smoking hole in the center of his forehead.
"" squealed the voice of the door's speaker, a exasperated female Human's tone, by Arack's guess.
Such technology shouldn't talk! That is restricted for living, breathing, bleeding, ORGANICS!" Arack silently protested and for some reason, that set him off and the Dark Side rushed through him and he brought his gloved right hand back and sent it flying at the door panel, his fist crashing into the mess of wires.
Sparks flew at the Obelisk Novice but then the door 'whooshed' open and Arack walked through, looking up in triumph as he did...just in time to see a pale-skinned Omwati, Bryna, leap at him. The flash of durasteel was reflected in the halogen lights of the corridor and Arack ducked under the knife of the caretaker and jumped back.
"Bryna! I don't want to hurt you! Please just come back to the Aedile's chambers!" begged Arack but even as he said this half-truth, his hand went to his kukri...something not missed by Bryna.
"Lies! All of you Sith are the same!" and she charged again, calling on the Force to propel her. Tavar's hazel eyes opened wide as the woman crashed into him and the pair went flying back into the hall. As the two struggled to regain superior footing, a tiny whisper came to Arack's mind.
Just like your parents, and those on the gray learning ship, she does not believe you...just like everyone else in your life, Arack Tavar!
Time seemed to slow for the learning Obelisk and just like with the door panel and the talking technology, a vice seemed to form in Arack's mind that opened the floodgates of the Dark Side. Such a manifestation came to the physical plane in the form of a lynx-like snarl and a powerful kick to Bryna's chest that sent her flying back into the meeting room, crashing into a flo-form chair that shattered under the impact and sent her to the synth table.
Rising, Arack Tavar cast off his suspicion of the Dark Side and of the Sith and of the Clan Arcona and embraced all three fully as he yanked his kukri from his belt and strode into the room after his prey. To cement his Dark Side fueled rage, Tavar began to spew taunts and malice.
"So we're all liars, are we?! ALL OF US!?!" shouted Arack as he came to stand in front of the stirring Omwati. However, while Arack's attack had hurt, her faint-like was a feint and she grabbed the Obelisk's arm and sent her dagger flashing towards it...only to met by the very tip of Arack's dark iron kukri. The warrior had barely managed to raise the curved sword and therefore saved his left arm.
"Yes...dog...all of you!" asserted the Caretaker.
Arack feinted to the right, freeing his kukri and brought his down towards the Omwati, but she moved quickly and the blade wedged itself into the synth-wood. Even so, he let out a harsh laugh.
"If we're all liars...that includes your best friend...Xathia, isn't it? Oh and you...you use the Force...quite well to boot" retorted the Obelisk and he smiled as Bryna paused for just a second. But that second didn't provide Arack much of an advantage as Bryna kneed her attacker in the abdomen, doubling him over.
"Oh, you betch! That'll leave a mark..." and he snarled, sending his body weight into her as he tackled her across the table, away from his kukri. A light clanging sound resounded around the room as Bryna's dagger slipped from her grip and fell to the floor.
Bryna went after the dagger, vaulting over the table and into a crouch where she used the Force to call the dagger back to her and Arack mirrored her, but with less effect; his kukri flew over his head and embedded itself into one of the tapestries. Instead, a feral punch replaced the kukri's intended action and Bryna cursed and covered her nose and fell to the floor.
Ragged breathing echoed all across the room from Arack as he loomed over the woman he had hunted - and fought - and barely beaten - and pulled out his 22t4 holdout blaster pistol and, with shaking fingers, flicked the switch to "stun" and squeezed off a single blue pulse into Bryna's left leg. The Omwati flinched and then fell into the realm of unconiousness.
Arack Tavar grinned a battered warriors grin and finally releasing his hold on the Dark Side of the Force, he fell to the floor alongside the caretaker, the dark realm of rest embracing him. His last thought was one of fear and curiosity; he had caught the caretaker but he had broken the Aedile's orders. Before Arack could ponder anymore, he blacked out.
Just mere seconds after both warriors had passed out, a strong wail was heard from the locked door of the private chamber.
Zakath, Sith Knight and Aedile of Galeres, walked down the halls of the Citadel with practiced ease, the Force guiding him to his pawn...Arack Tavar. His black combat boots came to a halt as the Sith eyed the dead Private First Class outside the durasteel door but he shrugged and made a note to inform a officer at a later date.
Raising his hand in an almost lazy gesture, the Knight Force-opened the door and stepped into the backup meeting room. His sulphuric eyes were drawn immediatly to the two prone figures just beside his left boot -- Arack and Bryna. Both looked like hell but it was clear by physical indication and Force signature that Bryna had the worst of it.
A red haze flashed by Zakath as he eyed his pawn with contempt and rage but not pure hatred or the desire to kill; Arack had disobeyed very direct and important orders but he had accomplished his task. As Zakath went to stoop over the Novice, he picked up the wail from the private chamber and stepped over the two incapacitated organics.
The locked door buckled inwards as the Human applied the Force to it and he walked in and looked around and his black eyebrows raised as he saw Alyssa wrapped in blankets on the flo-couch. Bryna had apparently stored the daughter of Xathia here in order to protect her and better fight the Obelisk.
"Shh, baby. I'll protect you now till your mother can take care of you" whispered Zakath and he picked up Alyssa and held her close as he returned to Arack and Bryna.
Deciding on leaving Bryna to heal, for her Force prowess would allow to do so, he opened himself to the Dark Side and wrapped Arack in the Force and levitated him a meter or two above the ground. Leaving the room, Arack floated in tow as Zakath cast a Sith eye to the pawn and whispered.
"Come, Novice. It is time you witness the balance that I must uphold"
Pausing at the door, Zakath adjusted his gentle hold on Alyssa as his free hand retrieved his communicator. Pressing the medical speed-dial, the Aedile waited patiently as the call connected through to the medical facility.
"Arconan medical services, how can we help you?"
"This is Aedile Zakath, I am requesting a medical team to be sent to..." Zakath paused to glance up at the markings above the door. "Meeting room 45D4, Column M-13. You will find an unconscious Omwati human. Give her whatever medical treatment is necessary, and have a security detail escort her to my chambers when she is released from your care."
"At once, sir."
Zakath returned the communicator to his pocket and smiled down at the large baby cradled in his arm. Strangely, Alyssa seemed content to remain quiet, gurgling softly as the Aedile carried her gently, a pale finger being wrapped by Alyssa's tiny hands.
"Well now, Alyssa. You won't need to worry about your caretaker, she'll be just fine." The Aedile crooned softly to the baby as he walked slowly toward his chambers, an unconscious Arack Tavar leviated behind him. "But we need to find your mother, I'm sure she's worried about you..."
Stepping into his personal quarters, Zakath released the Force grip on Arack's unconscious body, allowing him to crash into the floor. Ignoring the Novice, the Aedile stroked Alyssa's soft cheeks gently with a pale finger as he settled her onto a comfortable sofa, reaching out with the Force to lull her gently to sleep.
"Now then..." The Aedile hissed as his venomous eyes glared down at the unconscious Novice.
"What... why can't I move?"
Zakath smiled grimly as he turned to face the Novice, his sulfuric eyes glowing slightly as he smiled at the unmoving Arconan. "Ah, the student awakens for his next lesson. Not to worry, you will be able to move soon, but not before you learn the lesson I am going to teach you."
The Aedile smiled maliciously as Arack gulped, his increasing terror easily felt by Zakath. "You have been injected with a paralyzing drug that should wear off soon. But we need to talk about just why you disobeyed my precise orders."
"Bu- but Aedile, she fought back!" Arack stammered, his breathing quickening as he suddenly noticed the presence of an old fashioned scalpel in the Aedile's pale hand.
"Then you should have let her go and communicated with me for reinforcements!" Zakath hissed as he lowered the scalpel onto the Novice's cheek, resting the razor-sharp blade gently on the trembling flesh. "I am tolerant of reasonable failures, but I do not excuse stupidity!"
"Silence. Now you will be punished." Zakath hissed as he gently began to slice into the Novice's cheek, ignoring the howling of pain and the hot blood flowing out as the scalpel began to carve a design into Arack's face. "You Obelisk warriors are so unsubtle. You never stop to consider the more practical ways of handling situations. Its always this ridiculous notion of proving yourself in combat."
The Aedile paused and grasped the Novice's cheeks in a tight grip, causing a shriek to emerge from Arack's throat. "What good is your combat prowess now? A warrior you may be, but as long as you continue to think like one, you'll never avoid the blade at your throat."
Zakath shook his head and returned to delicately slicing up the Novice's face.
Zakath cocked his head curiously as he observed Alyssa sleeping on the couch. Why would Xathia keep a baby in such a place like this? Zakath wondered. It mystified him that she even had a baby at all, let alone keep it here in the Citadel. And why does Alyssa even like me? I'm not very nice after-
The Aedile's train of thought was interrupted as he heard a low groan emerge from the ajoining chamber. Turning, he smiled maliciously at the sight of Arack's bloody visage. "I trust you learned your lesson."
"It will... not happen... again."
"Good. And Novice... you will not repair the damage to your face until the scars heal. Let that be a reminder of the costs of disobedience."
Zakath smiled and returned to watching the dozing baby. "Now get yourself cleaned up and locate the Quesator. He's not responding to his communicator. Dismissed."
The nervous Quaestor paced around his office. The Sakiyan had come to power after many years of alienation. But at what cost? His friend and mentor was stripped of his position and Etah trust into it and dare not refuse. The Obelisk Prelate had seen neither hide nor hair of Strat, the Pro-Consul and that left him answering directly a deranged Zabrak Dark Jedi Master who would just assume kill him as greet him hello. The Squire of Arwa was mentally disciplined from years of practice and exercise, but was so anxious about being around Mejas, that he had to fight to control his thoughts in the Shadow Lord's presence.
The Quaestor had to stomach sending his most powerful element, the Soulfire Strike Team, on what was obviously designed to be a suicide mission, the result of a petty vendetta. Without them Galeres was much weaker, especially if it came to the point of taking up arms against the mad usurper who was calling himself Consul. An intended side effect no doubt. The Sakiyan Equite could not even find solace or solitude in his own office. After hours of trying Etah was finally able to slip into a meditative state but his revere was soon shattered by heavy knocks against his office door.
BOOM!!!! BOOM!!!! BOOM!!!! BOOM!!!! the door rang out.
Thus shaken alert the Sakiyan reached out with the force and depressed a device that opened his office door. In walked a bloody and beaten Epicanthix, a race you could distinguish from basic human stock if you were attentive. The Quaestor vaguely remembered the young man as a promising journeyman who had recently joined Galeres and Etah immediately recognized his protegees work.
"Well young Mr. Arack, I guess your face would be the answer to the question; what happens when you disobey a Barabel Dark Jedi? Wouldn't it?" Etah asked the bloody young man, obviously amused. Arack for his part was relieved at the Quaestors relaxed demeanour's, not knowing if he was showing up for another beating or scolding. The Sakiyan sat on his desk, in front of the injured and bleeding journeyman. "Do you know why Zakath beat you young one?" the patient Equite asked.
"To teach me a lesson?" the Epicanthix responded timidly.
"There is always a lesson within a lesson, learn to look beyond the obvious." Etah informed the young man. "He beat you to scar you. Those wounds on your face will heal, but your pretty face will be mangled forever. Forever will you bear this mark. Do you know why he marked you?" the Quaestor inquired.
"So that I would always remember to obey?" the young journeyman said, asking rather than stating.
"Look beyond the superficial" Etah instructed. "He marked you to shame you, the physicaly show the shame you bear on your soul." Etah instructed futher.
"The shame of disobedience or failure my Lord?" the young man said asking once again.
"No, this shame runs far deeper within you. I do not know what it is, neither does Zakath. But it is palpable in the force. Were you stronger in the force, you would smell it on yourself" Etah paused. "You owe explanation to no one, but It is something you must atone for. Are you willing to atone?"
"Yes my Lord" the young man answered briefly.
"Good. Then go clean yourself up. When your done bleeding, report to my Aedile and tell him I am trying to meditate" the Questor instructed. The young man politely exited, seeking a way to mask his shame.
There was something wrong with Alyssa and Bryna. Xathia knew that much, and it frightened the woman to her very core to know that they were possibly in danger. If they had been captured by someone then it could spell out disaster for the Priestess.
You only think of yourself. You really aren't worthy to be a mother. Imagine what Alyssa's like. Alone, cold, hungry, helpless, and all because you left her behind when you went to the Citadel. It's all your fault that she's alone. You are no fitter to be a parent then your own father. The one you tried to kill and failed. You don't deserve to be an Equite, let alone a mother to a two year old. How she's survived with you so far is a miracle, the voices hissed as the former Quaestor slipped down another corridor, her emerald eyes glazing over. She took a deep breath and held it as footsteps broke the silence of the corridor.
Xathia moved closer to the edge, trying to see what was going off as the sight of two beings from the medical bay came into her sight. They were carrying an unconscious Omwati between them. Fear gripped the Krath's body as they continued, there wasn't a conversation for her to eavesdrop on unfortunately as to what had happened. Bryna was the only Omwati Xathia knew of in the House. If Bryna was unconscious and injured, where was Alyssa? Anger surged through her body, Bryna was suppose to be the one person she could trust, if she had left Alyssa alone then who else could the Priestess trust to look after her child? It was her own fault for giving the Omwati a second chance to look after Alyssa. If she had failed once before, she would have failed again.
Turning briskly down the side corridor, the Priestess's pace picked up quickly to a sprint.
Vassan surveyed out for anyone who could see him before moving back into the corridor. He could sense Xathia who was full of fear over something, but she hadn't be captured as there was an air of confidence about what she was doing. He was getting annoyed at not being able to find anyone who could help them as everyone he passed he didn't recognise.
The Epis was checking around another corner until a hand clamped over his mouth and a heavy force hit the back of his head. The Krath felt woozy before stumbling forward and hitting the floor brutally, slipping into the black world of unconsciousness.
The Priestess slipped back into the forest and surrounding greenery. Her hair had been caught amongst numerous branches and bushes, so she looked as though she'd been dragged through the hedge backwards. As the former Quaestor checked over her shoulder before returning to the rendezvous, a twig snapped.
Relying on instinct, Xathia pulled her litch blades out, fearing that her lightsaber would give her away instantly. Silence filled the next couple of minutes until the other being moved towards her, adrenaline pumping through the woman's body as she waited for her prey.
Xuthen slipped in to the younger Equite's sight. Xathia sighed and put her daggers away, still unsure if they couldn't be heard by anyone who wandered into the wildlife. Neither of them said anything but the Archpriest seemed to know that the other Krath was on edge and still couldn't decide where her loyalties lay in regards to her child or the clan.
The former Quaestor tugged at a lock of hair, twisted it around various fingers and picking it clean of leaves and twigs as they waited in silence. Her nerves were twisting her body as she tried to convince herself that she had done the right thing to return to the rendezvous point instead of chasing down Alyssa.
You chose what was best for you, not what was best for Alyssa. You're nothing short of selfish. You deserted your child at a vulnerable point because you can't stop thinking about what is best for you. You don't deserve to be a mother. You're simply turning into your father, and there's nothing you can do about it, the voices hissed, luring Xathia into their territory. The Priestess's fingers tightened around her lock of hair further as her body began to shake from fear. She didn't know where Alyssa was, who was looking after her or if she was even ok.
Xuthen placed a hand on the former Quaestor's shoulder. "You're shaking, and I can sense an unusual amount of fear from you."
Xathia shrugged and looked away from the Archpriest. She couldn't admit it out loud what was going off in her head, someone might take advantage of it.
Quartermasters Office: Arconan Citadel
Arack Tavar looked considerably different as he riffled through the various arms and armors that adorned the Quartermaster's supply room. His hair was buzzed short, the former raven-black locks that fell to his neck a thing of the past. Replacing his black and blue robes of the Obelisk were identical robes with flashes of crimson, for he had taken the words of his Lord, Aedile Zakath, to heart and also the teachings of his father, Battlelord Valant Tavar, and changed Orders to that of the cunning Sith.
His wound inflicted by Zakath was still a mess, though somewhat healing. In the 3 hours since he had been dismissed from Quaestor Etah d'Tana's chambers, making it 4 hours after the actual branding, a ugly brown scab had begun to form over the intricate design. The cut was not very deep in itself, so the healing process wouldn't take years, but there was no doubt whatsoever that it would leave a permenanet scar.
Such was the reason that Arack was raiding the Quartermaster's supply; to find something to cover his marred visage.
As the Epicanthix began to dig through another shelf, a silver glint caught his eye...and at the same time, the "whoosh" of the Quartermaster's exterior office door sliding open was picked up by the Journeyman's Force-enhanced hearing.
"Kark, that Bith wasn't supposed to be back from lunch yet" muttered the scarred Novice as he climbed up on the first level of the shelf block and came face-to-face with a five duraglass cases, each containing a piece of durasilver ceremonial armor; helmet, chestplate, gauntlets, leggings, and boots. A holo-note attached to the helmet case said the following:
"For the Honor Guard presenting the new Commodore to the top brass. Each piece is made of durasilver and the helmet comes with red photoreceptors and can be detached by two buttons at the base of the neck. Cooling system included in helmet. Standard details apply with the rest of the armor. ~George Valf -- Smith"
Tavar studied the mask for a second longer before muttering "Perfect" under his breath and quickly pushed the case into a black duffel around slung around his shoulders. On a second thought, Arack looked back up at the boots and gauntlets and shoved them inside his bag as well, leaving the chestplate and leggings untouched.
"Full armor does not suit a Sith" decided Arack and the marked man quickly snuck out of the Quartermaster's rooms and even past the Bith who had, luckily enough, taken to re-reading his dirty magazine and dozed off. He then retraced his steps to the room that the AAF had loaned him until House Galeres could provide him with quarters on Eldar.
On-Loan Quarters of A. Tavar
The newest Sith sat on the corner of his bed as he pulled on the left durasilver gauntlet and then the right, so that he was dressed in black and silver; the mask he had stolen lay on the actual bed and in preparation to don the cover, a white bandage had been placed over his wound.
Drawing up his hood, Arack picked up the silver mask and activated the two buttons at the base of the neck and a slight "hiss" echoed around his room as the two pieces opened up and the red photoreceptors activated, making the mask seem all the more ominous. Peeling off the bandage, Novice Arack Tavar looked himself in the mirror and smiled at all the changes that had happened in the past half-dozen hours.
He had been subject to a wardrobe change, a chase through a dark palace, a brawl in the same palace, a branding at the hands of some demonic Sith, a realization that being a brutish Obelisk wasn't his true calling and that he became a thief as he sought someway to cover up Zakath's mark.
Despite it all, Arack wasn't all that displeased. So with that, the Epicanthix Sith raised the mask to his shrouded face and placed the cool metal over it and snapped the two pieces together, totally hiding his pale face and shaved head. The crimson photreceptors seemed to catch the light of Arack's room and illuminate the eyepieces, giving him a rather scary appearance of twin red lasers shooting out from a hood.
"Impressive, most impressive" mused Arack and he took a step back at how much deeper his voice had become, echoing all around the metal construct before leaving the vocabulator area in a deep baritone. It was something he'd have to live with.
And so with that decided, Arack Tavar swept from his room, locking the door behind him and strode to Aedile Zakath's quarters, illiciting many a terrified or annoyed stare from soldier and civilian alike. But for once in his life, Tavar didn't care....
Aedile Zakath's Chambers
Zakath, the dark robed and sulphuric eyed Sith, sat in a high backed chair in his dark quarters as he took in the changed appearance of his pawn, Arack. The two year old baby, Alyssa, was curled on his lap, sound asleep. It was a good thing, one so young did not need to see the likes of people like Tavar...his masked face rather frightening. The dimly glowing photoreceptors did nothing to help the problem. Finally, the Human broke the silence.
"What of our mutual lord, Novice?" asked Zakath in a gravelly voice, flexing his pale fingers.
"Aedile, our lord Etah d'Tana, would like me to pass on that he is deeply concerned with sending away Soulfire Strike Team and to combat these dark feelings, he has taken to meditation in his quarters" replied Arack.
Carefully lifting and placing Alyssa on the chair, Zakath rose and paced back and forth. "So Etah takes to meditating in times like these? Well maybe he is one of the smart ones. I have no time for that now; so much to do" muttered the Sith Knight.
Despite being muttered, Arack picked up the statements and offered in his baritone voice "What do you need me to do, my lord? Name it and will be done in the ways of the Sith...not of my old self, the brutish Obelisk.
Zakath smirked and nodded but then his smirk faded as he answered his most eager apprentice. "Nothing now, pawn. Everything that must be done far exceeds your rank. So you will stay here and serve as my..."bodyguard". Perhaps you will learn something about what it means to be a Sith" ordered the Aedile and he gestured to a spot directly behind and to the right of his makeshift throne.
Before Arack could move, however, Zakath's commlink went off and he swiped it from his belt answering in a heartbeat.
"Aedile, this is Major Agg Desh from the 6th Heavy Infantry"
"How can I help you, Major?" queried the senior Journeyman.
"It's about the Omwati patient, uhhh...Bryna" began the field-grade officer but before he even got to the details, Arack intercepted a look from Zakath and was already striding past the man as he made his way to the medical/detention center....
It was quiet in the docking baby, not silent but quiet. The normal sounds of ships docking and departing worked in orchestra with the various clangs and firing of torches throughout the huge metal walls. There was a low hum of the energy shield that protected the people inside from the vast gaping maw of space. There were 3 rather complacent looking individuals manning the hanger tower. Tyia, a Protector on her first assignment, seemed to be scanning everything over way too intensily. He wasn't relaxed an secure like Myka was. The Jedi Hunter in his 9th assignment to this post seemed to be rather laid back, his feet up on the control panel and his hands behind his head, leaning back into his chair. Marcus seemed to be a nervous constant of the both of them. Relaxed and nervous at the same time. Knowing what to do, but simply afraid of screwing up. This was his second assignment to the post.
The silence was shattered as the AI sensory kicked to life and reported an unknown coming out of hyperspace in the area, Myka's eyes shifted slightly as Tyia jumped over to send out a ping and see if they could get the Ident tags linked to the ship and cross reference them with known incoming/outgoing traffic of the Arconan Citadel.
The search came back negative.
Marcus leaned forward and hailed the ship, opening up a COM with them. "This is Guardian Marcus Al'Rura. You are entering Arconan Airspace, please identify yourself." he spoke rather cooley into the COM, his voice having a hit of authority and power behind it.
There was no answer, Myka took his feet down and leaned forward, alerting the defensive out-post but no issuing the fire order. "Try once more..." He spoke softly.
"Unidentified Vessel, please Indentify yourself." Marcus repeated. "We will open fire..."
The computer screen flashed an image of the Corellian Corvette. It was unarmed and unmarked...possibly unmanned.
"Scan for life signs, I'm getting a force signature off of that ship though..." Myka responded getting up from his chair and moving towards the plate glass window that overviewed the docking bay.
*Bleep....Bleep Bleep Bleep*
"Life Scans come back positive. There is one person on board." Tyia responded looking to Myka for direction.
"Let them land, I want to see who this is and if they're COMs are broken I'm sure they can't respond." Myka moved towards the door, it shooting open before he reached it as he made his way down the hall into an elevator, which brought him down to the main floor of the Deck just as the ship entered the docking bay.
It slowly touched down just in front of him. The exhaust kicking out several billows of smoke as the engine cooled. It was moments after that the ramp released and a dark figure in Arconan shadwsworn cloak moved down it onto the deck. His lightsaber gently swayed back and forth as it was clipped to his utility belt. Upon seeing the Jedi Hunter, the figure would move toward him, lowering his hood.
Myka would find him to be a strikingly young man with pitch black hair and a scar on his face. "Who are you?" Myka asked.
The man simply responded..."My name is Jaecyn Kai Interm, Dark Jedi Knight. Where can I find Braecen Kaeth?" a small grin would form on his face as the name left his mouth.