Trials of Loyalty: Run-On
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
Deep below the feet of the hard working miners and droids working the mines of Port Ol’val ran a long durasteel corridor boasting no distinction but a common ventilation shaft. Carved with laser precision into the very ore of the asteroid for which the Shadowport had been created, the corridor led to an underground facility known only to high ranking members in the DIA, The Arconan Summit, and the members of Oblivion.
The only entrance to Bulkhead was through that corridor, which could only be accessed through Oblivions “front”, known to the unsuspecting denizens of Port Ol’val as “Naruba Investments”. Beyond that seemingly benign face was the home for some of House Qel-Droma’s highest priority prisoners, Force-sensitives and those deemed too dangerous for the DIA to handle on their own - ‘persons of interest’ to those who might have begun asking questions, and ‘cellmates’ to those who didn’t know when to stop asking. It was here where Oblivion Brigade would carry out their work - interrogating prisoners, syphoning information from them, and rooting out traitors and plots against the Shadow Clan, and all under the watchful and attentive eye of the current leader of the DIA: Timeros Arconae, former member of Oblivion.
In the beginning, Oblivion Brigade Battleteam had once been the terror of House Arcona, a cadre of ‘demons’ that took human shapes and prowled the very shadows cast by members of the Shadow Clan. Clad head to toe in shades of all black, they were those that made people disappear like whispers in the night, or hunted down any who dared betray the Shadow Clan. Where Soulfire was the sword and shield, gallantly tackling Arcona’s problems for all to see, Oblivion remained obscured in the shadows, the hidden dagger that worked behind the scenes. When the two mighty Houses of Galeres and Qel-Droma were reformed with the re-clanning of Arcona, the team of Dark Jedi was dissolved for the formation of Shadow Gate Battleteam, the Gatekeepers of Port Ol’val. Contrary to public Arconan belief, Oblivion Brigade was not entirely dissolved.
Left in the hands of the Eickaire known as Col-rah, Oblivion Brigade continued on and still operated in the shadows and reported directly to Arcona’s Proconsul, who happened to be the former Captain of the Black Ops team. Once reputed to be one of the Galaxy’s top assassins, Col-rah was defeated in a confrontation with Marick Arconae after an attempt to steal a sacred artifact from the Citadel in an elaborate ruse. Col-rah had asked for the Hapan to take his life in repent for his crimes, but Marick decided he would be more use alive. In what could be considered a life debt, Col-rah had pledged his loyalty to Marick and Clan Arcona. He had since worked his way up and proven loyal enough to lead the new team of agents that made up the unit simply known as “Oblivion.”
Col-rah stood quietly with his hands clasped behind his back, his black, reptilian eyes fixated on the monitors before him that showed surveillance from various locations across Port Ol’val. His black trench coat fit tightly against his lean and slender body, and his posture was firm and balanced while remaining at ease. The control room was isolated from the rest of the facility, and was modified heavily with technical equipment. The room was almost eerily quiet as it dampened the sounds from outside, the only sound the humm of the computer power sources, server racks, and the ventilation shaft filtering in fresh air from the surface.
At the console in front of him, his partner, Ji’lee tapped away at a series of keys, her azure leku with leather wrappings and cascading down to the small of her back.
“Everything looks clear to me, boss,” a watery voice from off the side broke the silence of the room. It belonged to Shinn Ragga, also a member of the new Oblivion. The Quarren had a knack for wordplay, and was known for his analytical mind and information “extraction” techniques rather than his physical prowess. He had been in the running to take over Oblivion, but Marick had instead chosen Col-rah. The two were rivals at best, but both placed Arcona’s needs before their own. At the core, he was a professional, which was why Col-rah permitted him to stay around.
“No, something is off. I can sense it in the Force,” The Eickaire explained softly, his tone calm and steady. He was always like that, calm and collected, never letting his emotions cross his actions. He was a natural born killer, reborn and given new purpose in life by the man he owed everything to, Marick Arconae. It was for that reason the Captain of Oblivion could not shake the precognition he was getting through his senses.
On one of the screens that monitored Naruba Investments and the entrance to the hidden corridor that lead to Bulkhead, there was a shimmer in the night. It was subtle, but the Eickaire’s sharp eye caught it at once.
“Ji’lee, zoom in on Monitor 6,” The Captain asked politely as he took a step forward and leaned closer to the monitor. “Toggle Predator mode.” The screen hissed as the camera adjusted its filter and became a hue of red. Sure enough, roughly a dozen heat signatures registered, each closing in on the Investment building. The camera zoomed in more and then toggled into a black and white night mode. Each of the heat signatures was equipped from head to toe in heavy armor, and each bore a logo on their shoulder guards- the letter “T” inside of a Triangle.
“Triumvirate Soldiers, a full squadron...” Ji’lee exclaimed, her tone anxious as she bit her lip nervously.
“Activate defensive protocols,” Col-rah said, unflinching. “Alert Rosco and have him fall back from the main building and get back here. The defense system will take care of them.”
“How did they find us, though?” Shinn growled, feigning concern.
“They didn’t,” Col-rah explained slowly, just as he heard the subtle click of a blaster pistol being drawn from its holster.
Shinn started to raise the pistol towards his Captain, but never managed to complete the motion. Col-rah moved quicker than the Quarren’s eye’s could register, a blur of green scales and black coat. The Eickaire grabbed a hold of Shinn’s blaster-hand by the wrist and twisted deftly, his mind telekinetically tugging the pistol away from the Quarren’s grip and into his free hand. In the same flowing motion, the Captain turned the weapon on its original owner and pressed him up against the wall.
“How could you sell us out?” Col-rah asked plainly, his voice still calm but laced with ice that he reserved only for those he was prepared to kill.
“Nothing is true,” the Quarren replied in his watery voice.
During the shuffle, Ji’lee had risen from her terminal and drawn her own blaster. It was not pointed at Shinn, though.
Col-rah turned his head at the last minute. “Ji’lee, no,” he shouted, his voice barely registering as a yell. It was too late, as a blue bolt of energy burst free from her blaster and slammed into his neck. The Eickaire’s body convulsed momentarily from the stun bolt before the Captain dropped limply to the floor at Shinn’s feet.
The Quarren grinned as he prodded Col-rah with the toe of his boot. When no response was given, he took a step towards the Twi’lek girl before him, whose arm quivered as a single tear rolled down her cheek. On the monitor behind her, the infiltration team moved into Naruba Investments unnoticed. The defenses never activated.
“You did good, my dear,” He said, reaching his three-fingered hand to touch her cerulean cheek. She jerked her head back away from his touch, her blaster still leveled.
“There, I did what you wanted. You said you would let her go.”
“Of course I will let her go. Put the gun down and I will have my partner bring her right here to us,” he spoke softly, a hint of seduction in his tone as he allowed the Force to gently touch the girl. She nodded slowly and lowered her gun.
“And you said this was for the good of Arcona. You really think this...Keibatsu is that terrible?” The woman said slowly.
“They all are, my dear, and never question my intentions. I owe my life to the Shadow Clan, and everything I do is for it and it alone,” Shinn’s watery voice replied as he took a step forward.
Without realising it, Ji’lee had handed the weapon over to the Quarren. Before she could register what was happening, Shinn thumbed the weapon out of stun mode and brought the barrel up to the Twi’lek’s chest. Unblinking, he depressed the trigger twice.
“Everything is permitted,” Shinn finished the Oblivion code as he caught the lifeless Twi’lek and tossed her carelessly aside and took her place at the console. Once settled, he leaned back and shifted his focus to a monitor on the far right labeled “Giletta Spaceport”.
A shuttle could be seen entering the atmosphere, black smoke trailing thickly from its port engine. A chuckle escaped the Quarren as he watched, his fingers pressing together in front of him.
“Your move, Keibatsu...” Shinn Ragga said to himself, as he waited patiently for the shuttle to land, his fingers hovering over a series of keys labeled, “Prisoner Release”
Selen, Estle City
Ambition, like Fortune, is a fickle thing.
Employed properly, It elevates the humblest of beings to the loftiest of heights; irresponsibility with it can lay the mightiest of monarchs lower than those they would presume to lord over.
Ambition can also place the most unlikely of fellows in the best of circumstances, even if they themselves cannot see it at the time.
Now, as Tsainetomo - Primarch, Apostate of Sadow, cousin-in-Keibatsu - pulled himself from the wreckage of the unmarked shuttle that had, for lack of a better term, gouged a permanent home in one of the ancillary landing pads, even his famed tripartite gaze had a hard time seeing the bright side of things. He arose amidst a pile of smouldering rubble, a great exhalation escaping him as he released his grip on the Force’s protective boon, the telekinetic bubble surrounding him dissolving as mist before the rising sun.
“This does not look like the Citadel,” he said to no one in particular, casually brushing a few cinders from his great queue of hair. The emergency response crews had begun to mobilize, as evidenced by approaching sirens. However, it was not the waves of concern wafting from those crewmen that gave the Keibatsu pause; it was the currents of intent that bored into his awareness, and a seasoned voice addressing him.
“No, stranger, it is not, now: hands up!” came the gruff tones of Commander Thomatrov Hughes. Six blaster-rifles charging in syncopation punctuated his statement, but if Sai was plussed, he did not show it.
“Damn, missed it by that much,” the Primarch sighed. “Then again, I was never much of a pilot.”
Sai’s wide smile seemed to throw the Commander off a bit, but he quickly recovered. “As I have no knowledge of your...landing,” - the slight pause indicated Hughes was being generous - “I’m afraid that, by the authority vested in me by the Arconan Summit, you are under arrest. Again, hands up!”
“No, my friend, you are not afraid,” Sai said, more than a little surprised as he leaned in, holding Hughes’ eyes with his own as he regarded the Commander. “But, you should be.” The baritone rippling from the Kyataran’s throat was laced with amused menace.
“But, why?” The challenge was unmistakable in Hughes’ own voice. “I have six men from 1st Tactical...some of the best, in fact. We’ve got the drop on you. And,” the Commander continued, nodding at the ghost of a ‘saber hilt peaking out from behind Sai’s back, “we’ve more than enough experience dealing with you and your ilk. Son, you've been told to give up twice; there won't be a third.” He drew his sidearm and leveled it at the Primarch.
Sai slowly put his hands at the back of his head in seeming surrender. “ 'Son'," he repeated, the irony not lost on him. His eyes flashed and his grin turned sinister. "1st Tactical, huh?” He whistled mockingly. “Sounds...competent.” His encouraging tone was meant to infuriate.
The tactic worked. “Do not make a game of this, stranger,” Hughes warned icily. “You may be fast, but you can’t be that fast. No way you can dodge all of us.” The men from the aforementioned unit steadied their rifles, the barrels trained directly at Sai’s head or chest. “We know how to put you down.”
“Are you sure? I mean, really sure?” Sai’s inquiry lilted across the short expanse between the men. “Sure enough to bet your lives?” An obscene amount of the Dark Side began to coalesce inside the Keibatsu, ready to obey his command. “I mean, you look like you've seen your share of dirt, so I can understand where you might be eager to end it. Normally, I'd oblige you, and gladly," Tsainetomo said casually. "But, what of your men? Hardly fair for your decision to automatically apply to them, but that's my opinion."
Sai's tone was hardly one that a man arguably caught behind enemy lines would normally have; he might as well had been discussing the fair price for a meal. "Were I you, I'd get someone from, oh I don’t know, Soulfire down here? The odds might shift," he offered. Sai’s memory of a recent encounter had brought the name of the unit to the fore of his mind. There were only two men on the planet who could vouch for him, but he had to buy some time for them to arrive, if either of them happened to be close enough. Given no other option, he would burn all of these men down and leave their widows broken with grief.
He was unashamed to feel his heart race at the prospect as his palm itched for his lightsaber.
A suddenly familiar, accented voice rang out, slicing the tension like a knife. “Will I suffice?”
Sai whirled at the sound.
Arcona Summit Meeting
There was an aura about him. A presence almost spectral. The tattoo, the Mantle, the man. All three unnerving, but as one, they were bestial. Wuntila had always been a fearsome creature. The Dragon of Selen, the Magnificent Blue Beast: both monikers he had acquired from his infamous temperament and his aggressive attitude. Now though, the Arconae, those entrusted to lead, oversee and protect Arcona, would know their leader. Truly.
He ducked through the narrow doorway, his cape fanning out behind him. Then the others emerged. To his left: Socorra, Invictus, and Scelestus; to his right: Felix and three sergeants of T’ad Summit Guard. Two vid-screens on either side of the long table flickered into life, displaying the Consul coming to a stand at the head of the table. Murmurs began between the gathered Arconae These meetings were never public, let alone broadcast to all Arconan vid-screens.
“What is he doing?” Timeros locked his icy stare with Strategos’ own.
“We’ll soon find out.” Strategos sounded sarcastic even through telepathic communication.
A simple nod to Invictus, Socorra and Scelestus was enough for them to settle in their seats while the Arconae remained standing. The Dragon scanned the stern faces of his brethren. Strategos, Timeros, Orv, Nadrin, Teroch, Malidir and the holograms of Mejas and James, the former bearing the chains of his temporary emancipation.
No Marick, The Consul thought to himself.
“Gentlemen.” Wuntila extended to his compatriots with a deep, gravelled tone. “I am glad you could make it.”
He paused before motioning to his entourage. “Gentlemen, Invictus is being sent to Dusk Station. He will be assigned Class-Five clearance to all projects. His involvement and experience within the Seneschal’s office has been a driving force in his ascension within the Brotherhood. But Arcona is his home. It is for this reason he is being assigned to a priority position within the station. As of immediate effect, Invictus will become a co-director in the Dajorra Intelligence Agency. Replacing him as Quaestor within House Qel-Droma will be Socorra, and replacing Socorra - Scelestus.”
Wuntila gestured for the three Qel-Dromans to rise. They jostled to their feet. “May the Arconae guide you, and may Arcona always be your home.” The Arconae dropped to one knee in synchronicity, bowing their heads towards the trio of Arconans. The Consul rose after an eternal second, a smile teasing at the corners of his lips. “Congratulations. You are dismissed.”
A chorus of “Invicta!” erupted from the three Arconans before they navigated their way through the narrow doorway. The airlock hissed behind them, engaging the independent life-support system of the undisclosed Arconae meeting room. Invictus, Socorra and Scelestus had been blindfolded on their way to the room; the same would occur on their return to the Citadel. The resting place of the Arconae would remain secret. It would remain sacred.
The Consul glanced at the vid-screens before continuing, “I am here to exemplify the penalty of disloyalty. Arcona has forever been the home of camaraderie, the soul of fraternity. Unlike Taldryan we are a brotherhood within the Brotherhood. But this loyalty comes at a price. unfaltering service, devotion, and dedication. These are the only things I expect from each and every Arconan. I care not for your woes or troubles, nor your disparity and meagre factions. I care for Arcona’s strength, and Arcona’s strength is Arcona’s heart. Without it, we cease to exist as the Shadow Clan. The old adage suggests that ‘discretion is the better part of valour’; by the same token, loyalty is the better part of Arcona. Without the former, the latter is just a husk - a weak appellation.’ With clenched teeth, the Dragon turned his head to the Qel-Droman Summiteers, then to the new addition to Qel-Droma’s leadership... Scelestus.
The Consul slowly ran his hand down to his waist. No one moved.
“It is now time to purge our ranks of impurity...” Wuntila’s grumbling voice resonated like an avalanche through the small meeting room.
It was only a twitch. A lightning flash of movement. Then Felix’s body collapsed. A head bounced across the cold steel floor. It was over before it began. The Consul disengaged his lightsaber and calmly clipped it back onto his belt, turning back to his audience. A fire seemed to peter out in his eyes.
He looked around the table “Felix was dishonourable in his treachery. He was the source of the information fed to the Chiss in Operation: Rolling Thunder.” His attention then focused on the camera lense pointed at him. Piercing eyes seemingly questioned every Arconan watching the vid-screen. “Let it be know that this is the price of disloyalty, Arcona...”
The vid-screens hissed to static.
“Well, that didn’t go exactly as planned,” The Keibatsu said flatly as he kept pace with the Arconan Proconsul.
“You were supposed to arrive by shuttle with an ambassador from Naga Sadow in oh-one-hundred hours. What happened?” Marick Arconae inquired, his face a stoic mask.
The details of the former Son of Sadow’s transfer had been confidential to only Marick, who had dealt with the paperwork, and Teroch, who had found out on his own somehow. The Exarch had planned to introduce the newest member to Clan Arcona after the Summit meeting, with an ambassador from Naga Sadow vouching for the authenticity of the transfer. Not that that would have helped convince the Consul of Tsainetomo’s intentions of joining the Clan, but it would have certainly made everything a lot more official, and easier to handle on the backend for the Proconsul. The thought of the paperwork sent a shiver down Marick’s spine.
“The shuttle came under attack. We were not properly armed or prepared, and my Ambassador and pilot stayed behind to ensure that I made it to the surface,” Sai explained.
“Any idea who it could have been?”
“Didn’t get a clean look at them, but I doubt any Sadowan’s had a hand in it, or the Kei, for that matter.”
Marick digested the information but gave no indication of how it affected him. The Hapan kept his gaze forward as he walked with purpose through the halls of the Citadel.
“I’ll have my men look into it,” he said in an official, professionally sounding tone after a few moments of silence. His voice then dropped slightly as he turned his head to regard the Keibatsu for the first time. ”At least the hair has recovered since our first meeting and made it here still intact,” the Hapan said in reference to his first encounter with the Keibatsu.
It was subtle, but Sai noticed the underlying drop to formality in the Proconsul’s tone. Marick hid his emotions better than anyone the former Son of Sadow had met, but Tsainetomo had been in the Brotherhood since before the young Hapan had even been shipped off to the Shadow Academy. He had worked with egos of every size and shape over the course of his long career, and was able to peek through the Proconsul’s armored walls.
“It has indeed,” Sai replied without missing a beat. “You are fortunate that your...’misplaced’ shot was from a safe distance, and that Teroch, Kote and Kira were there to prevent my swift retaliation,” The Keibatsu flashed a slight grin as he glanced over at his other “escort” - a lean white Cythraul that padded silently off to the side of his hip.
He had almost forgotten that Marick’s companion was there, a tribute to the creatures guile that seemed to perfectly match her masters. She had grown since the last time he had seen her, and now walked almost as tall as his waistline. Surprisingly, she seemed at ease with the Keibatsu, and made no attempt to growl or bear her formidable fangs at him.
“Do you think Zratian will listen to what I have to say?” Tsainetomo inquired as he walked beside the Arconan Proconsul. Marick noted Sai's almost deliberate omission of addressing Wuntila by his proper title; he pinched the bridge of his nose as he dreaded the number of times he might have to give Sai reminders.
“I’m sure the Lord Consul will be more than open to it,” The Hapan replied nonchalantly. For once, he made no effort to disguise his sarcasm.
They reached the doors to the meeting room and the pair of guards saluted the Proconsul as they dutifully stepped aside.
“Not at the table, Tam!” Sanguinius Entar’s voice could be heard shouting at his Cythraul above the rest of the chatter. It all came to a gradual halt as the attention of the room focused on the Proconsul and his “guest”.
The Arconae, most notably, all rose from their seats and moved their hands to their lightsabers, while the others remains still and seated. No one dared speak, but the grin that spread across Teroch’s boyish features seemed almost painful as he tried to keep his mirth internalized.
“What is that doing here?” Wuntila Entar Arconae’s voice boomed out across the meeting room with the same power and ferocity of a Krayt Dragon.
“He,” Marick replied unflinching, “is the newest member of Clan Arcona.”
Sai crossed his arms at his broad chest and remained, for the moment, silent; the next few moments would be critical and he couldn’t afford a gaffe that came with a careless word from slighted pride.
There were few who could stand before Wuntila and hold their ground, but Marick had become accustomed to these types of ‘discussions’. The Dragon of Selen could smell weakness and doubt, so the Proconsul made sure to leave both out of the equation.
“No.” Strategos stated with airy finality.
“Have you lost your senses, boy?” Timeros Arconae added coldly. “He is a Son of Sadow, and a Keibatsu.”
“Former, Son of Sadow,” Marick corrected his mentor. It had been Timeros, after all, who had taught his pupil to remain fearless in the face of seemingly impossible odds.
“Kill him. Kill him, then send his head to the Grand Master as an example of what my Clan does to his stooges.” Mejas seethed over the holonet, his teeth bared in a grimace of hate.
Wuntila arched an eyebrow at the Shadow Lord. “Your clan? Doto, there’s a reason you’re sealed on Dusk Station, and chief among those is that this is no longer your Clan.”
“How dare you speak to me-” The image of the blue-skinned Iridonian winked out as Wuntila severed the connection and carried on as if he’d not been interrupted.
“His Clan contributed to Arcona losing its home during the Vong Invasion. The Sons have schemed against us since the formation of the Brotherhood, and the Keibatsu have long been opponents of the clan’s success. You understand our apprehension. His presence here is neither wanted or needed.”
“He’s one of the most powerful Obelisk in the Brotherhood. Sashar himself fought with him during the Order war multiple times. If the Ghost of the Steppes thought he was worthy-” Marick tried valiantly to stand his ground, but almost immediately Timeros spoke up, cutting him off.
“Sashar is dead, this Clan is no longer his, and he was known to make mistakes, Marick.” To make his point, Timeros speared a look at Teroch, who merely grinned and winked at the stoic Entar.
“You can’t ignore that the gains outweigh the risk.” the Hapan pressed on doggedly, clearly restraining himself from saying what he truly thought.
“It’s a nuisance we don’t need,” Orv said, his arms behind his back, his unique face was bent into a frown “, We’ve only just recovered from the Family Feud and introducing an unknown like him into the mix suggests an unknown element. He’s dangerous. I don’t trust him.”
Off to one side, Teroch and Nadrin started playing a game with their hands.
Wuntila shot both the Erinos a glare, but pressed on. “I agree. Get him out of here.”
The Arconae voices became as one, the din tinged with dissent and silencing Marick’s argument.
It was then that Sai took a solitary step forward, whispering a hushed apology to his friend. Before Marick could question him, the Keibatsu willed the Force to carry his voice throughout the assembly.
“I am here...because of him.”
The Arconae looked as one to the person Sai’s extended index finger indicated: Marick. Even the Proconsul’s brow knit in confusion, and Sai continued, his voice hardening.
“Some time ago, Marick exacted a promise from me. He asked that I do what you clearly haven’t been able to - control Teroch.”
“I asked for no such thing!” Marick spat under his breath, trying his best to move the Keibatsu to caution.
“You sort of did,” Sai whispered back. “This may be our only chance to stop this from spiralling out of control.”
The Arconae’s gaze swung from Marick and Sai to Wuntila, who remained silent, waiting for the Keibatsu to expound.
“It’s no secret that the son of Sashar been quite the thorn in your collective sides and a dagger at your backs for some time. I propose an exchange: you place Teroch under my watch - guidance, to be more accurate - and you can expect my 'saber on your front lines. In return, you provide me decent food, some clean sheets and a roof.” A solitary quirked eyebrow on the Korun's face belied both the easiness of his tone and the simplicity of his terms. All present knew that this was no bargain to consider lightly.
Wuntila steepled his fingers in front of his face. “You make the mistake of thinking you have a leg to stand on, Keibatsu,” the Consul gravely pronounced. "This is neither Orian nor is it your cousin's bedchamber. You overestimate your chances at having a fair audience."
“Ah, I beg to differ," Sai countered. “As I said, Marick exacted a promise from me, one that I willingly gave. His signing off on my transfer paperwork implies his intention to collect on that debt, wouldn’t you agree?
"Further," he continued, "our location has little to do with the situation. You have a problem; I have a solution. I should think you wouldn't want to cut off your nose to spite your face."
Wuntila said nothing, instead meeting the Keibatsu’s tripartite gaze with his own. As much as he hated to admit it, Tsainetomo was offering him an out, of sorts. With an ‘outsider’ tackling the issue of Teroch, if anything untoward happened, he could always lay it at the Keibatsu’s feet, thus eliminating the messy business of possibly having to destroy any Arconans in retaliation for any of Teroch’s future recklessness. Additionally, the services of a Keibatsu looked to be his to command. It appeared that the Consul had very little to lose.
Sai, he had to admit, was a shrewd son-of-a-bitch, but the Consul was not prepared to show his hand just yet, however. “Clever. Very clever. Ever the politician, eh, Keibatsu?”
Sai, well aware of the game being played, spread his sun-bronzed hands in a show of acquiescence. “Maybe once, but no longer. I find a desk is not a worthy substitute for a battlefield. I leave the back-room maneuvering to my cousins...and others more suited to the task.” Sai’s grin never touched his eyes as he stared, unblinkingly, at Wuntilal.
Marick, who had gone quiet and slowly receded from the group to attend to his data pad reminded everyone that he was still there by raising his hand.
“Lord Consul,” Marick said slowly. Wuntila did not hear it.
“Lord Consul!” Marick repeated, this time allowing his voice to carry.
“What?!” Wuntila spat, whipping his feral gaze towards his Proconsul.
“We have a problem,” Marick said solemnly, his eyes locking with his Consuls. “Bulkhead has been breached, and reports are showing that Shadow Gate’s safehouses have been seized by the Hutts, Mal Company, and Fly On The Wall. Port Ol’val is under attack,” The Proconsul explained, his gaze shifting to the rest of the Summit gathered about him.
TRIALS OF LOYALTY
“It can’t be mere coincidence,” Wuntila exclaimed as he angrily paced back and forth in the Proconsul’s office.
Marick sat at his terminal, working furiously at the array of touch-sensitive screens before him and the virtual keyboard before him. “It’s too coincidence.”
“You yourself said that he escaped from the Naga Sadow Prison.”
“Regardless- I’m dispatching all available Arconan’s that are not on leave or out on a mission. I’ve taken the liberty of grouping them into units of three based on their past performances and skill sets.”
The Consul lifted his eyebrows, almost impressed. He stepped behind the Hapan’s terminal and studied his work. His brow furrowed.
“You’re sending Sai out there? Not going to happen.”
“I figured you’d say that.” Marick looked up for the first time to meet his Consul’s glare. “That’s why Arcona’s Justice will be shadowing him.”
“Ah.” The Consul stated flatly.
Marick rose and adjusted the claps of his black cloak.
“I will oversee it as well,” The Hapan added as he rose from his terminal and walked out of the office. “If I fail, you have permission to place the blame on me and will willing pay the price.”
The Arconan Summit fell into stride with their Proconsul, Qel-Dromans grouped to one side while Galerens took the other.
“With all due respect, sir,” Sanguinius started to say. “This seems like a House Qel-Droma issue. Why are you pulling all of my members-”
Marick Arconae came to a sudden halt, yet never wasted an ounce of momentum. In the same simple, yet flowing motion he appeared face to face with Galaren Quaestor and grabbed ahold of the front of his robes. The Proconsul’s cerulean eyes went icy as the winds of Hoth, and his teeth bared as he snapped at the Entar in a rare showcasing of anger.
“An attack on one Arconan is an attack on us all!”
The rest of the Summit stopped, and fell silent. Maricks rage was seething and leaked out through the Force, so much so that even Kira-who shared a link with her master-flattened her ears and let her tail sink between her legs.
“You are a former Gatewarden,” the Hapan continued, “and of all people understand the importance of Port Ol’val to House Qel-Droma’s survival.” A beat passed between the two before Marick’s gripped lossened and his patented stoic calm resettled across his handsome visage. His voice softened, but was still audible to all those around him.
“We are two houses, but together we are ONE Clan, and her name is Arcona. Galares has the muscle to Qel-Droma’s guile. We will need all the firepower we can get if the Hutts, Mal Company, and FOTW have somehow all managed to agree on something. Balance must be restored, and if Qel-Droma falls, Galeres will follow suite.”
The Proconsul left Sanguinius and the rest of the Summit to soak in his words, and made a beeline for his transport, where Tsainetomo was waiting, calm and collected for the trials ahead.
Week 1 Prompt:
Port Ol’val has been compromised. You and your team will launch to a particular set of tasks that will be open ended with how you accomplish them. But first...
Randevous with your team and head for Port Ol’val. Fictionally, you would all receive briefings from your team leaders, who are all members of the Summit. By the end of Week 1, we should have a good idea of how your team feels about each other. Past experiences, relationships, personality clashes, use the first week to really set the stage for the rest of the fun. It makes reading action so much easier If, as a judge, we care about the characters, their motivations, and what is driving them to succeed. You will be greeted with something very similar in a War/Vendetta scenario.
If your team has finished their exposition, (each member has a well constructed post) I will send your team your “task/prompt” for week 2 in advance.
Quality will win over quantity here - keep in mind it’s typically only one or two people who read through an entire RO, so you want to capitalize on the time you make them invest with quality, not just quantity.
Arcona has thrived on using a reservation system for posts to help with continuity. If you know you will be posting something within a 4-hour time period, set up a post with the bracket [Reserved], as long as no one else has done so prior. This gives you 4 hours to get a post up without anyone else jumping ahead of you. If you fail to get your post up, you must forfeit your spot. This is to ensure that no one person holds up an entire RO.
The spaceport had become nearly deserted when the Arconan summit had arrived. Rarely did the leaders of the Shadow Clan travel in one group like this, and many of the citizens of Estle had fled the area in fear
Andrelious J. Inahj had observed the summit meeting in silence, choosing not to contribute, though he was starting to regret that. Relations between members of the summit were strained thanks to the ex-Son of Sadow’s arrival, and Inahj firmly did not trust the outsider.
“It is most disturbing that our enemies hit Ol’val when I was not present…” Andrelious began, his statement aimed at no-one in particular.
“..what are you suggesting, Inahj?” Socorra questioned, sensing the ex-Imperial’s unease.
“And are YOU suggesting that we can trust this Sadow bastard? We all know that Marick has quite literally got himself inside of you. It would not exactly surprise me if you trusted him blindly.” Inahj hissed in response. He had happened upon the nature of Marick and Socorra’s relationship soon after his appointment to Gatewarden, and whilst it was not news to anyone present, the Sith was not about to reject the chance to dig at the Socorran woman.
The Qel-Droman Quaestor frowned, but said nothing. Inahj had proven difficult at the best of times, though he become easier to deal with since his appointment. Instead of risking annoying the Battlelord further, she examined the team assignments on her datapad.
Inahj, who was doing the same, smiled at what he saw; he had been given his apprentice, Incendus, and the veteran elder Strategos. Both were Gatekeepers – they would useful allies as they knew the layout of the Shadow Port. Other teams also had the general theme of masters and apprentices, with the occasional veteran thrown in for good measure.
Whilst some of the other summit members began to send for their team members, Inahj climbed into Sharpshoot, his personal TIE Advanced, sending only a brief message to Incendus and Strategos. They would meet him on his arrival at Port Ol’val, assuming they were still in a position to do so…
What to do?
Incendus sat silently in the sunken naval vessel, the Upsilon 3, jolted, held captive within his own mind. The recent attack left him wondering what he was going to do. He was tired. Confused. Alone. Slightly scared.
As if some external force had read his thoughts, Incendus received a message on his datapad.
His master Andrel was returning to Ol'val. He, Strategos, and Incendus were assembled as a team by the Lord Consul, and were to meet Andrel upon his arrival.
After reading the announcement, Incendus' discomfort started to abate. The fact that he was teamed with two other Gatekeepers was a sufficient relief, but even more was the fact that one of them was his master. Even so, he was still slightly overwhelmed by the surprise assailment, and what the attack meant. Even more unnerving was what he just saw on the monitors.
Unsure of the petrifying events that just took place, he exited the Upsilon 3, trudging toward the specified rendezvous point.
Besadii Entertainment District
Incendus was taken aback at the desolated status of the usually brimming and boisterous strip of land that he walked on. It was usually full of gamblers, drunks, hookers, anything ranging from drugs to slaves. Even the most notorious criminals weren't out. Seeing gangsters out at this hour wasn't uncommon. But now, the street was void. Muted. Incendus took to the rooftops, eager to conceal his existence as he made his way to the docks.
After about half an hour, Incendus was able to see his destination, where he was to find his master and Strategos......
Tsainetomo leaned against the bulkhead of the Proconsul’s transport, trying awfully hard to listen to the Arconan Summit’s discussion while trying not to look like he was trying to listen. Itching for something to do, his fingers tapped on the worn stock of the auto-repeater at his thigh.
As the spaceport began to resume its regular ebb and flow and traffic, it was impossible for the Primarch to hear them over the screaming ion engines roaring overhead; not without the Force, anyway, and he did not want the Summit alerted to his eavesdropping efforts.
Exhausted, he resigned to wait until all was revealed to him – as it always was – and he watched Marick approach him with the others while thinking on the events in the meeting room. Wuntila hadn’t necessarily given him the ‘all’s well’ regarding his arrival, but he hadn’t tried to go through with any ‘kill orders’, either.
A good sign, he supposed, but then again, there was always tomorrow. He’d also noted that in their discussion, every Arconan referred to him by one title or another.
Son of Sadow.
He laughed softly to himself as he pulled a pouch of tabac from his belt and began to hand roll a smoke. ’They, too, are governed by titles. Names. Labels. Their thinking limits them. They wish to try to bring order to their sudden chaos...to name the Unnameable. Teroch’s education will be quite the adventure.’ The thought tumbled around his skull. He guessed the more things changed, the more they stayed the same.
The Keibatsu took a long drag from his cigarra, expelling the blue-white smoke in a great cloud just as Marick and his entourage got to him. He drew himself to his full height, which was quite impressive under any circumstance. Sai offered a curt nod to the others while taking the Proconsul’s forearm in a warrior’s grip.
Marick, the strain of his office threatening to prematurely wrinkle the corners of his youthful eyes, nodded. “How goes?”
’No introductions,’ Sai thought. No matter; he knew they would come eventually, full of titles and ranks and chest-puffery. Were they to discover that none of that carried any leverage within his warrior’s heart, the more prudent of the Arconae might have heeded Mejas’ warning in the meeting room.
“I’ll live,” the Keibatsu shrugged. “And that one” – here, Sai nodded skyward at a rapidly retreating TIE Advanced – “doesn’t like me.” A ghost of a grin played itself across his bronzed features as he stubbed the cigarra under his boot. Sai hadn’t heard Inahj and the woman – quite attractive, that one – speaking, but the Battlelord’s contempt for him literally oozed through the Dark Side.
“None of them do.” Marick reminded him. “You’ll turn them around, I’m sure. Now…” The rest of his statement was for the others, full of names of places and people Sai didn’t recognize.
’Optimism. Might get you killed, m’friend.’ Sai let the thought come unbidden as he began to gloss over the conversation, thinking instead of his own recent experiences.
Suddenly, he interrupted the Proconsul. “Inside job.”
The tension was palpable. “Excuse me? What you’re suggesting, it’s treason.” Marick’s tone turned suddenly accusatory, as if he himself had forgotten about Sai’s willing transfer.
Sai shook his head. “Listen. I know I’m new here, but as nearly everyone here knows, I’ve experience with...leaving places that I find uncomfortable.” He smiled, genuinely, as he sought to find the proper words for ‘breaking out of jail.’
“If this place you’re talking about is anywhere near as bad as Gamuslag - that’s Sadow’s ‘summer retreat’ - then there’s no way in the Nine Hells that anyone besides the warden could leave without having first been shown a way out on their way in...or having some help once they got there. Something to mull over, is all.”
Whether Marick and the rest would truly ‘mull it over’ was, truthfully, beyond Sai at this stage. It was simply information, something for them to consider. Satisfied, the Korun-Keibatsu began to roll another cigarra, his footfalls on the transport’s gangway heavy and marking time with the others as they embarked.
The Exarch stood in the background pondering the events that were currently taking place. Looking over to the group left standing in front of him, he saw the Proconsul's words had injected a silent effect into the air. As usual, Andrelious decided to kick up a small fuss before making his leave. Instantly the Exarch's hand came towards his belt, feeling the cold hilt of his saber as he pondered the thought of striking out at the Sith. An inquisitive glance from Sang shook the thought from his body and calmed the anger. The Iridonian stepped forward and into view of the rest of the Summit. His hand came up and gasped Sanguinius’s shoulder with a firm grip, standing just behind his brother. Cethgus began to whisper into Sanguinius' ear, before being interrupted by the Prelate.
“You should know what would of happened if you had gone for him brother,” Sang's voice was cold and without emotion.
“You should know better than to wiggle your way out of a fight, after all, it's just another chance to kill those who would step on our toes. Remember my Student, a Clan is stronger than a House. Or have you fallen so far from the person I used to know, that you would not help when Arcona looks for those strong enough to do so. Besides, this is just another chance for me to once more prove I’m still superior to you.”
Sanguinius snorted softly in derision, his master was the same as always. Brash, loud and offensive.
Finishing his words, the Exarch allowed his hand to reach into his robes and pull out a smoke before lighting it and inhaling the substance into his lungs. He stepped forward and looked at Socorra and Scelectus, bowing his head slightly, a smile came to his lips at the thought of once more having to deal with the prospect of fighting.
“Either way I look at it, Sai is another person who has come to our Clan. There is only one way to find out if he is true to his word, time and dedication to the Clan like all of us have proven. I will trust our Proconsul and do my task without another word on this subject. After all, I wouldn’t want to go and make a fuss over nothing.”
Cethgus allowed himself to exit the room deciding to leave his opinion at that, he headed off towards the available rooms of the space port. Knowing that soon enough that the two members of his team would arrive, however it wouldn’t hurt for him to give them an encouraging reminder to hurry up. The Exarch knew that as it currently stood, his student was part of the group and then there was this newcomer.
“Putra and Saarin, I am to be your team leader during this mission. Our task is simple, we are to make our way to recapture Port Ol’val, I expect you to arrive at the Gilleta Spaceport where I will meet up with you. I will be preparing a plan for this little adventure, until then get here as soon as possible and alert me to your arrival. I will meet you in the Hangar once you are here.”
With that, the Exarch ended the communications between the three of them. Knowing that they would soon arrive, it gave him some time to try and decide what to do about the current situation. It looked like once more, something would push the whole of Arcona to act and to rise to the challenge.
The Prelate had stood there silently, unflinching at Marick’s rare show of emotion. Afterwards, he had ignored Cethgus’ attempt at insulting him. Inside, Sanguinius bristled with anger, insulted by their actions. While having served as Gatewarden, the Anaxsi had been privy to secrets that the Shadow Clan best wanted kept quiet. His rise to Quaestorship of Galeres had only opened the scope of problems that the Entar had to deal with; his concerns with the secrets of Arcona were second place to the importance of keeping the Warrior House running. Now, Galeres was all that mattered to the Entar.
With Marick’s, Andrelious’ and Cethgus’ departure, Sanguinius glanced at his fellow Summit members still surrounding him. Socorra was smirking slightly replaying Marick’s disciplinary remarks in her head. Anything that could weaken her rival’s position was useful. Scelestus, new to his position, studiously avoided Sang’s baleful gaze. Legorii, ever present at Sanguinius’ side, raised an eyebrow in question. Celevon and Teroch swiftly left the group to round up the Arconans that had been assigned to their strike teams.
With the Aediles and the two Quaestors the sole remaining summiteers standing there, Sanguinius began to speak. “Socorra, I presume you’ll want to escape back to Port Ol’val as quickly as possible, but remember this.....Galeres is coming to your rescue. I doubt you’d do the same if it was Galeres in trouble.”
Socorra laughed, “If you think that, then you’re more deluded than I realised, Entar. Arcona is one Clan, regardless of House.”
The Anaxsi grinned and turned to walk away. Looking back over his shoulder, Sanguinius raised his voice that dripped with sarcasm, so that the Qel-Dromans could still hear him. “I’ll remember that when my members get the job done.”
Legorii turned also and followed him. Despite Sanguinius knowing that his fellow Entar wanted to talk, the Prelate ignored him, not wanting to discuss the situation.
The Archpriest decided that enough was enough, “Brother, the idea is to make them feel that Qel-Droma owes us. Not hate us.”
Coming to a sudden halt, Sanguinius whirled on the Krath, his eyes full of rage. “You saw Marick insult me!” The Obelisk spat on the ground, “Then our beloved brother decided to insult me more. You think I should ignore such things?"
Shaking his head, Legorii sneered, “Yes, you should. Our plans are too important to be thrown away on answering insults. This situation allows us to further them, Qel-Droma’s enemies are knocking on their door.” He gestured back towards the now departing Socorra and Scelestus. “They need us. Not to mention, the appearance of this Keibatsu. The Sadowan’s presence gives us a certain amount of leeway. Wuntila and the rest of the Arconae will be too busy watching him.”
Sanguinius glowered at Legorii, his scowl softening to a thoughtful smile as he nodded softly. “You’re right, brother, I should’ve realised that.” The Quaestor turned to watch small shuttles decorated with personal heraldry depart the spaceport. “The time is almost right; soon we shall have the results we crave.”
Legorii nodded in agreement as Sanguinius continued speaking. “Be careful on Port Ol’val, Legorii. You know who you’ve been assigned?”
“Celevon and Etah, Celevon has already gone to go round Etah up.”
“Good, drive out the Light.” Sanguinius intoned.
“.....So that the Darkness may be impervious.” Legorii replied, before taking his leave.
Sanguinius studied the list that Marick had come up with, laughing as he recognised the two names next to his. The Hapan had only gone and paired him up with two Galereans who were loyal solely to the Quaestor. Inarya and Kratus.....well, well.....
Grasping his personal comlink, the Prelate quickly sent a message to the two Equites, demanding their presence post-haste for the task that was at hand. Putting it away, Sanguinius walked towards the shuttle that was dedicated to the Galerean summit. Legorii and his team would join his for the journey to Port Ol’val, but after that?
Let the games begin.
En route to Port Ol’val
The heated discussions with the Summit members at the Citadel were quickly forgotten during the trip to Port Ol’val. Marick and Socorra feverishly studied their datapads like a pair of super geeks, exchanging information on the attack. Tsainetomo sat quietly next to the ever-stoic Timeros, watching the duo work quietly. It was obvious they were intensely passionate about the asteroid base...and each other. Their mannerisms, synchronized speech - clearly, speaking aloud was merely habit. The former master-apprentice pair didn't need to speak at all.
Halfway through the journey Socorra stood to make a holocall, her nose still buried in the datapad. “My cousins spoke highly of you,” Sai exclaimed. All eyes turned to him, and she looked up briefly, though did a double-take as she noticed his own were centered squarely on her. The bronze-skinned Mandalorian held his stare for a second, a bit unsure of what to say exactly.
“The Keibatsu treated me very well while I was in their care," she eventually said. "I will do whatever I can to make sure you are afforded the same courtesy. Besides...I do love the legendary hair.” A smirk teased the corner of her ruby lips.
A wry grin spread across his own visage. "You know me not by reputation, but by the 'fro?"
"Oh hell yeah," she laughed. "It is soo kandosii."
Socorra’s footfalls echoed over the durasteel plate floor of the transport as she made her way towards the lounge area. The door was partially open, and she overheard Marick’s voice conversing with another. Curious at the banter she was hearing, she pressed up against the door and augmented her hearing through the Force.
“So, that’s her?” Tsainetomo’s voice asked.
“Yea,” Marick replied.
“She’s like none I’ve seen, not for a while anyway. With the way you talked about her, I knew she had to be special.”
“Yea, I went through a lot for her, but I think it was all worth it in the end.”
“I’ve seen better,” a more sinister voice cut through, easily identifiable as Timeros.
“You’re just bitter,” Marick’s accented voice retorted.
Socorra bit her lip and felt her heart flutter just a bit. She knew Marick cared deeply for her, but he wasn’t exactly a walking showcase of emotions, always guarded, and it was hard to read what he was ever truly thinking. And, he was not one for public displays of affection, so this was a rare treat.
“The curves and accents are nice, though. Plenty to hold on to without being bulky,” Timeros admitted.
“Built for speed...” The Keibatsu started, the old saying rumbling within the thick of his baritone.
“...and made for comfort.” Timeros finished. Though the men never looked at one another, one outstretched fist was met by another without missing a beat. Clearly, these warriors, though outwardly icy towards one another, had developed a mutual respect, gained only through the rigors of mortal combat.
“Have you had a chance to play with her?”
“Yes, I put her through the paces in the training room the other night...”
Socorra’s cheeks blushed at the admission, quite a bit shocked but not exactly upset, but felt her heart stop at what she heard next.
“Is it the same crystal as your old saber?” Tsainetomo asked.
“ARE YOU FRAKKING KIDDING ME?” Socorra yelled as she burst into the room with frightening strength augmented through the Force. The door, to its credit, remained on its hinges.
She grabbed a hold of Marick and tugged on the collar of his robes.
“I...Socorra, what’s wrong?”
Sai let out a soft chuckle, and even Timeros had a hard time refraining from letting the corner of his lip curl upward.
The Erinos released his collar and spun on her heels, stalking her way out of the room with a frustrated huff.
“I don’t get it,” Marick admitted, confusion written on his face.
Sai grinned and slapped a hand on his shoulder. “You have a lot to learn about women, my friend. Better get used to this.”
As the Keibatsu’s hand was extending towards the shoulder of the Proconsul, Timeros’ hand moved to his lightsaber hilt. It was a subtle motion, but Tsainetomo caught it and slowly sat back down and got to work, methodically rolling yet another pencil-thin cigarra.
He had the distinct feeling that he and Timeros would be having a conversation of sorts, and that, right soon.
Socorra left the room in a huff, and closed the door to the Captain’s cabin that had been made up for her personal use. In it, her portable computer had been set up to a set of monitors, streams of data flowing across their panels. She froze in place and seemed to forget everything in an instant. The woman looked around and realised that this was all really happening.
She was the Quaestor of House Qel-Droma.
It had happened so lightning fast. Wuntila’s Attaché at first, then Gatewarden, Aedile, and now Quaestor in just a year, so much more rapid than even Marick had ascended up the Summit. It would be remiss of her to not be apprehensive of taking the role so soon.
And yet, there was something strange about it. Marick knew on her first day in Arcona that Qel-Droma was where Socorra belonged; a dedicated Krath scholar, an information broker, a solid DIA Analyst... She became a member of Soulfire, but circumstances eventually led to her to Qel-Droma finally. It was as he predicted.
The dreams, nightmares, and feelings she had had over the last few weeks made so much more sense now. Socorra was only an aspiring Krath, but still a Krath. She undoubtedly had a strange connection to the House and her members. The woman didn't know if she was meant to lead it, but she was no doubt meant to protect and nurture it. Right now, that meant it was up to her to rid it of the festering wound the insurgents had created.
The reports coming in showed a bleak outlook to what they will find at Ol’val, and with the lack of information streaming in from the DIA agents she had stationed there, she knew it would be much worse than they imagined. The women sent a priority message to the Summit teams and their charges to rendezvous at the hidden underground Qel-Droma headquarters for a large briefing after their arrivals. A special message was sent out to Invictus, requesting his and his aspiring apprentice’s attendance.
She spotted the Captain's Log on the desk and looked at it curiously, wondering what her entry would be right now.
"My first day as Quaestor," Socorra whispered, “was a trial by fire."
She nodded to herself, turned back to the monitors and got to work.
Celevon walked off from the Summit meeting at a brisk pace, the son of his former Master not far from him. The Templar’s footfalls slowed as he pulled out a datapad, searching for information on Etah d’Tana. The Assassin frowned as he looked around before setting off in another direction, following the blip on the screen which showed where the Prelate resided. It was strange, the Onderonian decided, to go off on an assignment without his team. Just as he was getting close to the d’Tana’s quarters, Celevon shut down the blip on his monitor to send a message to Spectre Cell, wishing them luck in their individual assignments. I’ll send a message to Snabbie once we’re en route to Port Ol’val, the Captain thought with a slight grin. His apprentice was rising to every challenge the Equite set out, quickly approaching the day when the Koros Majorian would be elevated to the rank of Knight and cease to be an Apprentice.
Mere moments after knocking, a sharp sounding ‘Enter!’ echoed from within. Habitually pulling his cloak straight, Celevon squinted at the varied monitors within the room before finding the hunched figure who seemed to be glaring at the screen.
“I already know why you’re here, Edraven. Do me a favour and skip the niceties. Sit down, have a smoke and I’ll be ready in ten.” The older male’s voice had an urbane quality, despite the sharp delivery.
The Onderonian frowned, glancing at the monitor as he lit a smoke. “I suppose you have the area bugged?”
The Prelate snorted. “Hardly. Legorii sent me a message letting me know that you were on your way to get me. He included a brief summary of the situation and said that we would receive a full briefing when we’re departing. Aren’t I the lucky one? I get two Summit members as my team,” the last was mumbled sarcastically as the information feeds were put into an idle state.
Celevon rolled his eyes. The coming days were certain to prove interesting. “I’ve got all of my gear with me, so I’m just waiting for you now.” The Assassin exhaled a plume of smoke, idly flicking off a bit of ash.
“No need to get grouchy. I’m coming. You’re the one holding us up now,” Etah smirked, gesturing at the now open door.
The Onderonian half-bowed mockingly, following the other Obelisk out. “We’ll be ‘sharing’ our transportation with the Quaestor and his team. So feel free to bicker at your leisure. Aedile Legorii is awaiting us.”
The Mirialan glared at the Battleteam Leader, resisting the urge to smack the younger man upside the head. “We’ll see who’s whining when we get on the field.”
30 Minutes until Departure
Celevon nodded to Kratus and Inarya before pausing to take a drag off of his cigarette. Ahead, Sanguinius and Legorii could be seen conversing in hushed tones. The Aedile noticed that all of them were assembled and paused in his conversation with the Anaxsi, gesturing towards the teams. “You four can board the shuttle. We’ll be along shortly. The briefing will begin as soon as we’re underway.”
Thoughts tumbled around in Scelestus' skull like a mountain stream gorged with the runoff of the spring thaw. On top of having to absorb all of the information about his recent elevation to second in command of House Qel-Droma, along with the news of an attack on that same house, but now Socorra had assigned him yet another task.
Before he could focus on the implications of the latter however, a fresh idea struck him regarding the former two. There seemed to be too much coincidence in having this much upheaval in the House at the same time. Sai's suggestion of treason started to make more sense with every passing minute, as much as he hated to suggest it. Who else would know to time the attack perfectly with the uncertainty and confusion that was always inherent in a change of command structure? As troubling as this thought was, the craft landed on Port Ol'val jarred him back to the more immediate of his problems.
Said problem, to whit Talos Erinos, was already present on the docking area, along with a number of other members of the Clan that had been summoned by their various assigned team leaders. While he acknowledged the presence of his apprentice, the guardian Anigrel, the new Aedile decided his best course of action was to grab the bull by the horns and made a beeline for the Obelisk.
"Greetings former master of my former master," the Sith bowed to show that this was a salutation of respect and not some slight or insult. "It is good to see you back amongst us once again, your presence has been missed." That statement was a bit more nebulous in terms of intent, both of the Dark Jedi knew that Talos had left the clan some months previously under less than friendly circumstances. Wuntila himself had all but killed Talos in an effort to flush out fellow Erinos, Teroch during the War of Three Families. Even Talos' former student Socorra had, in his eyes, forsaken him to side with the Entars. The Erinos' return at this juncture was therefore, understably, suspicious to many members of the Clan's leadership. In fact, Scelestus's mind couldn't help but flash back to his previous thought of treason as he stood before the elder Darksider. Angrily he tossed that thought aside, there was no proof, and furthermore no reason to broadcast his emotions and give away the job that his new boss, Socorra had assigned to him. It seemed the exotic new Quaestor of HQD intended to put her Aedile through a trial by fire, tasking him with observation of Talos to ensure his loyalties still lay with Clan Arcona.
Focusing his mind on being at least neutral if not sincere, Scelestus addressed Talos again, "The summit has placed us on the same team to investigate the recent attacks on the Port, and to gather intelligence on how to avenge ourselves on our foes. It will be an honor to work with you, Socorra speaks very highly of your training." The Sith held no illusions of being able to conceal the true reason of their team make up from the elder Obelisk indefinitely, but he did intend to keep it from being overt as long as possible. "There should be a general overall briefing soon at this location, after which we will meet with my current student Guardian Anigrel, the third member of our team, to finalize our own strategies. If you will excuse me, I need to see to him and ensure that he is prepared for the ordeal before us. I will see you again after the briefing." Bowing again, the human turned and made his way through the crowd to where Anigrel stood.
"Welcome to Ol'val, my apprentice. I trust your flight went well. Find your quarters and stow your gear. We will be having a general briefing at the location I have marked on your map at the time I designated. I expect you to be ready and waiting at least a quarter of a standard hour early. Your actions reflect on me…remember this. After the briefing I will have more in depth instructions for you. I suggest you spend what free time you have in meditation to prepare for what is to come. This shall not be easy."
Formalities out of the way, and initial contact with the team accomplished, the Aedile returned to the side of Socorra to see if she had any need of him before the meeting.
Zakath was luxuriating in the feel of the baked stones that comprised his bedchamber, the fierce heat radiating from them seeping through his crackled and broken scales to soothe the muscles underneath. His eyes was closing as he began to drift off into a light slumber when suddenly a sharp buzz tore through the room, snapping the Sith Warrior wide awake. Turning a baleful glance to his side, he noted the holo-communicator was blinking a special high priority signal that was keyed with the sigil of the Proconsul of Arcona.
The Barabel sighed as he accepted the transmission, feeling a headache already beginning to develop as he shifted into a sitting position. As the hologram resolved itself into the handsome features of the Hapan male, Zakath inclined his head in a slight gesture of respect. “Marick, this one greets you.”
“Good to see you in good shape, my friend,” Marick's lips lifted up into a thin smile. “I have need of your services once more.”
“Arcona is in trouble again,” Zakath hissed, a dim violet light beginning to overtake his eyes as his anger began to stoke itself within him. “Can the Clan not go a half year without getting into trouble?”
“Apparently not,” Marick shook his head mournfully before continuing on, his tone growing more serious. “Regardless, this has a more direct impact on you. An unknown force has attacked Port Ol'val.”
“For what?” Zakath's eyes were now blazing a fiery purple as he noted the shift in tone, his posture straightening up in response.
“Classified, I'm afraid. Nothing I can say over an open channel, even with one as encrypted as this one,” Marick said, crossing his arms. “You are directed to report at once to Quaestor Socorra at the docking platform on Port Ol'val for all the necessary background information and further instructions. You will be partnering with Knight Wes Erinos from Soulfire for the duration of this crisis, though you will have the lead due to your previous experiences on the Port.”
“This one underst- “Zakath paused and blinked as the first half of Marick's words completely sank in. “Quaestor Socorra? You promoted your mate?”
“My... mate?” Marick's cerulean eyes flashed dangerously. “How did you find out about that?”
The Barabel let loose a sinister chuckle, his lips curving up into a broad serpent's grin. “This one considers you fortunate that the Clan is not composed of born hunters. You and Socorra smell of each other for a week after your matings.”
Zakath was amused to see the human's teeth grit together slightly before an expressionless mask fell back into place as the Proconsul continued on. “I see. Regardless of our... matings, as you so charmingly put it, that has nothing to do with her advancement.”
“Indeed?” Zakath's tail flicked in amusement as he crossed his arms in a display of doubt. “If you say so, Marick, though this one would suggest that the brood of vipers in the Summit would consider otherwise. Regardless, this one does not consider your choice of... companionship... his concern and will keep his silence.”
“Good,” Marick replied, his arms uncrossing themselves. “I am glad I can count on your discretion, my friend.”
“Of course,” Zakath inclined his head again respectfully.
Marick favored him with a small smile as a hand disappeared outside of the transmission field to cut the call. As the holoimage of the Proconsul faded away into nonexistence, the Barabel rose to his feet to make preparations to depart for Port Ol'val.
This should be interesting.
Saarin walked aggressively towards his master; Cethgus Entar who greeted him with a scowl. Though most within the Dark Brotherhood did not know Saarin, Cethgus knew him well. While others would have taken his aggressive stance and posture as hostile, Cethgus knew it was merely his demeanor. Saarin stood before his master for a brief moment before throwing his cape back to the left and kneeling down before his master.
"You’re late." Cethgus stated as his student approached their shuttle.
"My apologies master, I was..." Saarin paused in thought to choose his words delicately "...detained. It won’t happen again."
Cethgus' expression did not change, "See that it does not."
Saarin rose from the ground to resume his former stance. Both men stood before the other for a moment in silence, studying their intentions carefully before Cethgus seemed to let the matter slide from his student. His eyes didn't not leave his students figure who seemed slightly concerned by the silence.
"It has been too long since we last spoke properly see that it doesn't happen again, I presume you are fine?" His voice was a cold one.
"I have been well master. I assume much has transpired in my last absence?" Saarin replied.
"Much indeed. We have many new initiates whom have felt the call of the Darkside, among other events, but I will fill you in on these after we've retaken Port Ol'val"
Saarin thought of the previous battles in which he fought alongside Cethgus. He yearned for battle. His thirst for conquest and domination had been long since suppressed due to the short times of peace and in-fighting. "I am eager to fight at your side once more, master." He proclaimed, visualizing their goal and the countless hostiles which would attempt to keep them from it.
“So who’s going to keep track?” Saarin inquired.
“Keep track of what?” Cethgus replied, with a question of his own.
Saarin elaborated on his previous inquiry, “The score, there must be at least a thousand men guarding the station. Who’s going to keep a tally of who killed who?”
"You only have to prove your worth and not die instantly" The Exarch's voice was cold and calculating
“Well I consider it on the job training.” Saarin smirked, considering his statement to be partially true.
Cethgus’ expression turned cold and serious to one of anger and distaste “Yes well, the last time you said THAT, you’re on the job training almost got us killed.”
Saarin recalled the event which brought a small smile to the corner of his mouth, though he attempted to hide it from Cethgus. “That wasn’t of my doing master.” Saarin tried his hardest to hide the swelling laughter which resided in him but could contain it no longer.
Saarin burst out laughing which brought the attention of most of the other Dark Jedi within their immediate vicinity. “You had me… and then the hyperdrive core leaked… and you were covered in… and then the self-destruct sequence… and then…” Saarin stopped just short of falling to the floor laughing.
Cethgus stood motionless in silence, waiting for Saarin to discontinue his episode of immaturity. Saarin attempted to regain his composure as he stood before his master and emotionless, noticing all of the attention he had gathered their way.
“My apologies master, but you must admit I am far better mechanic now, than I was then and I’ve always been a better warrior than I have a Mechanic.”
“True enough.” Cethgus concurred; trying not to dwell on the more than embarrassing memory his student had subjected him too.
“Where is Putra, at any rate?” Cethgus inquired of his student.
Saarin managed to finally regain his composure and demeanor, “He should be here shortly. As to his current or previous whereabouts, they are unknown to me.”
“Well let us hope he arrives shortly, I am going to need both of you here if this mission is to be a success.” Cethgus proclaimed.
Saarin was the first one to speak up deciding to take the initiative and go for small talk while the two of them waiting for the last member of the team to turn. As the two of them walked towards the shuttle that had been designated for them deciding to meet their last team member there in an effort to get things moving quickly.
10 minutes before departure
Sanguinius and Legorii boarded the shuttle after finishing their final banter amongst themselves. The Quaestor had a sardonic smile upon his face, while the Aedile looked all business, as was the Anzat’s norm. “Kratus, Inarya, form up on me,” Sang called, motioning for the pair.
The cybernetic ex-pirate approached his Quaestor while glancing casually at the Lethan Twi-lek beside him. He had worked with the alien before, he remembered, whilst serving as a fledgling member in the battleteam Revenance Virtuom. Had he spent more time in their company, the Coruscanti might have gained more insight into her battlestyle, but at the present all he knew was merely through passing chance.
As they formed with Sanguinius, Kratus noticed Celevon and Etah merging with Legorii and he took a careful glance back towards his leader as all of the passengers claimed their seats. “Interesting choice of teams. Who’s pick?” he uttered, his voice grating from the cybernetic replacements that made up his vocals.
The Anaxi rolled his eyes, looking utterly perturbed and unamused at the whole situation. “As per our wonderful Summit’s orders,” he answered spitefully, slightly clenching his hands upon his lap. “I trust you both brought everything you might need?’
“Yes,” Inarya replied quickly, not even bothering to remove her eyes from the window she was gazing out of as she answered.
“Aye,” Kratus followed, his mismatched eyes never leaving the other male’s face.
“Good, because we may be here a while,” the Prelate returned, shifting in his seat as he made himself more comfortable. “We’re to all meet up at Port Ol’val, and from there do something ridiculous because someone else failed their job I’m sure.”
“Figures,” the Cyborg spat, his natural eye narrowing with distaste. “We’re always stuck cleaning up someone else’s mess. I’d like to cause one of my own sometime; this peacekeeping shit is killing me.”
“Funny, you don’t look so dead to me Pirate,” Inarya smirked, glancing over at the Templar. “Maybe half dead.”
“She has a point, Kratus,” Sang quipped, a smile beginning to form upon his own face. “Speaking of which, you did tell me you’d give me the full story of your botched Corellian robbery.”
Kratus simply grunted in response, avoiding the question, before pulling a flask of scotch from inside his coat. Before he could take a drink however, he noticed the eyes of both of his companions locked firmly on the container. “Seriously?” he asked, lowering the flask in annoyance. “Neither of you thought to bring some for yourselves?”
At the lack of response, the ex-Pirate grumbled, took a drink, then passed the flask first to Sang, who then passed it to Inarya after downing a drop. “I would’ve Kratus, honest,” the Prelate explained attempting to look serious but failing to hide the joking grin on his features. “But you so kindly pulled your’s out to share.”
“Asshole,” the Templar growled, though it was lighthearted.
“Who’s up for a game of Sabacc during the flight?” Inarya queried then, suddenly revealing a deck.
“Count me in,” the Anaxi said immediately, sitting forward in his chair.
“Might as well,” Kratus agreed. “No point in just staring at stars.”
Pride of Corellia District
“My presence was missed?,” Talos Erinos mused as he walked out of the dingy bathroom and into the even dingier hostel room that he had just purchased, and flopped down on the all-to-hard mattress. “I seriously doubt that” the Erinos thought as he stared up at the pockmarked and stained ceiling.
Winding his thoughts back to his return to Clan Arcona, only a week old, and his half hour old meeting with House Qel-Droma’s new Aedile, Scelestus, Talos let his eyes flutter shut as he processed everything that had happened, not knowing when he’d next be able to get some sleep.
The Force alerted him to a presence barely 90 minutes into his nap.
“Almost no-one knows that you’re back…you’re not nearly as flamboyant as you used to be. What the kark happened?” a feminine voice cut into the Prelate’s reprieve. Eyes slowly opening, Talos looked over to the door of his room, where an attractive female was leaning in the open doorway.
Socorra Erinos. His apprentice.
“Former apprentice,” Talos reminded himself, “now my foster-sister”.
“I failed” he said simply as he swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up.
“Gonna explain that?” the new Quaestor of Qel-Droma asked, coming into the room sans invitation and clearly not minding that he was clad in only a white t-shirt and skivvies.
“No” he grunted as he stripped off the t-shirt and replaced it with a black button-down shirt.
“Okaaay then,” Socorra muttered as she watched the older man deftly button his shirt and slip on a pair of gray slacks and dress shoes. An awkward silence fell over the room, which the Prelate showed no indication of breaking.
“Ok, Tal, I know you. What’s up? What happened to the Talos who was overjoyed to see me and Marick just a few nights ago, huh?” Socorra said suddenly, advancing closer to her (first) former master and staring deep into his eyes.
“Nothing happened,” Talos stated flatly, grabbing his gray suit jacket and moving for the door.
“Osik,” she spat,blocking his path. “Tell me or I will have you pulled from this mission so quickly your head will spin…I can do that now.”
Talos’ nostrils flared and his ice-blue eyes bored deep into Socorra’s, but the Equite could see that she stood firmly behind her threat. “Fine…it’s just that I don’t like working for him so soon.”
“Him who?” the Priestess asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Wuntila” Talos growled.
Socorra’s eyes grew soft with understanding for a brief second as they moved from Talos’ face to his chest, more specifically his rib cage, where she knew that a mixture of plasteel and laminium replaced the bones that Wuntila had shattered ten months ago.
“I can understand that, Tal, but you know you’re not working for the Lord Consul—“
“Wuntila” Talos corrected, his hands tying his black/gray hair into a medium-length ponytail.
“Wuntila,” she sighed, “You’re not working for him…you’re working for Arcona…One Clan”
The senior Erinos dipped his head in what looked like acquiescence but as quick as it had come, it disappeared. Merely grunting, Talos shrugged on his suit jacket.
“You’ve got a meeting to get to, Madam Quaestor. I’ll let you go” Talos Erinos said finally.
Throwing up her arms in exasperation at the enigma that her master and brother had turned into, Socorra stormed out of the room, but not before getting the last word in. “Welcome home, Talos,” she said, “It’s where you belong, problems with Wuntila or not”.
Talos walked into the shadowport’s bar and let his trained eyes trace the crowd...although his wasn’t very hard to find. Cutting through the slew of patrons, both of age and not, Talos approached the large Devaronian. Tapping the alien on the back, which was normally a very dangerous -- and stupid -- move, Talos put on his most disarming smile and stuck out a hand as the Brotherhood Guardian turned around and looked down at the Obelisk Prelate, who was almost a foot shorter.
“I don’t mean to be a bother, but I just wanted to introduce myself...my name’s Talos Erinos. You must be Anigrel...”
TEAM EXPENDABLES [Sarin, Raken, Valhavoc]
Raken, Post 1
Objective Rally Point Carver
Unregistered Nu-Class Attack Shuttle Modified
Raken sat alone at the rear of the shuttle. Thoughts long under deliberation vied for his attention as they sought to
overwhelm the quiet hum of the ship and the low chatter of its occupants. Further competition came from the dark and
swirling eddies of the Force that ever accompanied and entreated the Elomin. One by one he filtered the distractions, centered himself
and invited the purity of nothingness as his companion and guide.
It was not to be.
Communion was averted by the stubbornness of his thoughts again surfacing to distract him. He watched and did not watch the
contractors go about the precise and efficient business of privatized warfare. Though no sum had been agreed to, each man
volunteered sans contract when summoned by their former general whom they knew by the call sign Red Tower.
All were separated veterans of the Army of the Iron Throne's Special Operations Forces. Many Raken had shed blood with in
past campaigns prior to the fall of Sarin and the Brotherhood's descent into mediocrity under the stewardship of the
Anger welled at the thought. Crimson skin tightened under the pull of dense muscle then relaxed. No one noticed the
subtle shift beneath the voiding black of a cloak large enough to hide a star cruiser.
Raken again sought to balance himself. Rather than distance himself from the thoughts that pursued him, he welcomed them
as they came stream of consciousness...
...Sarin was dead....Revan had burned like a star and gone dim...Darth Pravus had risen to assume Sarin's mantle and power...The Force
consumes that which cannot be...The Brotherhood was dying, broken...That which can be broken must be broken...If not life for the
Brotherhood...then death...I will see it done...
Clarity. Nothing. Everything.
"General," the human soldier said standing before him. "Lord Pravus arrives."
Wounded Wampa Cantina
Thoth stood behind the bar of the Wounded Wamps cantina, a stack of coins piled high in front of him. It was well past closing time, and only he and one other remained in the ice cold cantina. Normally, no one but Thoth himself was ever allowed to remain once the mag-lock sealed the front doors after closing, but just like the regular working hours, this was business.
His guest was human, unremarkable looking, bundled in a stark white cloak and hood, his hair hidden beneath the cap of a black body glove and white hood. The only color present was a slight rose blush that comes to any human’s skin when exposed to cold, and the brown of his eyes.
“So Peth’pah,” Thoth said, using the Whiphid word for ‘hunting partner’; the closest thing in the Whiphid language for ‘friend’, “Did you get them? You’ve been gone awhile.”
“Of course,” the human smiled, “Rattles isn’t the fastest ship in the galaxy, but she’s dependable enough.” Reaching down, the human lifted a small leather satchel, well worn but well maintained. Thoth reached an ebon claw forward when his keen ears heard the muffled snap of the handle guard being popped from a holster. The human’s smile never faltered, but the eyes remained fixed.
“Tix, you wound me,” Thoth said, baring his teeth in the closest approximation of a Whiphid smile.
“No my shaggy friend, you’re far too dangerous to just wound,” the man said, still smiling.
A few silent seconds passed between them, which ended when the Whiphid threw his head back and bellowed in laughter. Tix began laughing too and raised his white armored hand to reveal a small metal box with a clicking wheel, the true source of the snapping sound. At that Thoth laughed even louder and slammed his shaggy fist on the bar, making coins jump and topple.
“You are a cunning one Peth’pah!” Thoth said and pushed the coins towards Tix. As Tix gathered the coins into a haphazard pile, Thoth opened the leather satchel and pulled out a rolled sheaf of leathery hide. Slowly unrolling it, two gleaming white tusks sat in a bed of black fur. Lifting one up, the Whiphid looked carefully at it, his eyes scouring every inch of the 16 inch tusks. As his black claws traced the outer surface, they stopped at an old nick in the tusk. Putting the tusk back down beside its twin, he carefully rolled them up and tucked them under the bar.
“You have done me a great service Peth’pah,” Thoth said quietly. The tusks of his father had been in the keeping of a Black Sun crime lord for 18 years, and it was one of the few things Thoth was powerless to do anything about. “The tusks of Arrithor do not belong on a filthy tree tender’s wall.”
“Agreed,” Tix said. While it wasn’t easy getting the items back, Thoth had been a good customer during his smuggling days, and one of the few beings he genuinely respected. Truth be told, Tix would have done the job for free if Thoth had asked, but Clan Honor needed to be maintained, and Rattles also needed some work.
“So, on to other business,” Tix said, taking a seat. The sleeves of his robe shifted back, revealing the gleaming white plastoid armor covering his arms. “I managed to infiltrate that society you mentioned and as luck would have it, I’ve even been apprenticed to the same Master as the one you asked about.”
“Excellent,” Thoth said, “Have you discovered anything?”
“Not as of yet, but I have gone through her room and I can tell you the poor girl had a rough life,” Tix said solemnly. “I have to ask… why did this one interest you?”
“She was different. She stirred my Hunter’s Instinct in a way not many sentients do, and if I couldn’t be the one to face her, I would face that which vanquished her.”
“Well, she had some ability with the Force, and from what I gather, you don’t. Her foe may be more than even you could handle. No offense,” Tix said in all seriousness.
“Maybe, but none live forever, even nameless ones like you Tix,” Thoth said, once again using the nickname Tix, which was short for TX-1829, the human’s stormtrooper designation.
“True enough,” Tix acknowledged. “As I find out more, I’ll keep you in the loop, my friend.” Getting up slowly from the bar, Tix pushed the coins into the empty leather satchel. Sure credit cylinders were more efficient, but Tix just never learned to trust faceless banks with his money, preferring the reassuring feel of a handful of currency over some electronic digit on a computer screen.
“Thank you Tix,” Thoth said quietly as he retrieved the bundle from beneath the bar. As the two walked towards the front door, a buzzing sound could be heard from the smaller human. Confusion evident on his face, Tix reached up and pulled a small holo-disk from right shoulder pauldron, igniting it in a blue haze. An audio message commanding him to make contact with Socorra and Invictus on Port Ol’val repeated twice before the holo-disk went dark.
“Trouble?” Thoth asked as Tix replaced the holo-disk.
“I don’t know my friend, but it seems convenient that I’m already planetside. Maybe all that mumbo-jumbo about the Wil of the Force has some merit after all," Tix said with a wry grin. "Looks like I have my orders. Take care," he said as he pulled his hood up over his head.
“You as well,” Thoth said as he released the mag-lock and Tix exited the cantina into the busy street. Thoth watched his friend walk into the crowd and all but disappear, which was an impressive feat given he was dressed head to toe in bright white. He would make an excellent hunter, Thoth thought as he went back inside and shut the door, re-engaging the locks.
After leaving the icy confines of the Wounded Wampa, Graus pulled his hood lower and melted into the crowd as he made his way towards the safe house. Calming his mind, he mentally shifted out of his cover persona of TX-1829 and prepared himself for whatever assignment his Master and Quaestor may have for him.
“Putra and Saarin, I am to be your team leader during this mission. Our task is simple, we are to make our way to recapture Port Ol’val, I expect you to arrive at the Gilleta Spaceport where I will meet up with you. I will be preparing a plan for this little adventure, until then get here as soon as possible and alert me to your arrival. I will meet you in the Hangar once you are here.” The communication with Cethgus ends.
“Looks like ill be gone for awhile” Putra looks over to his sister, Putri. “Sounds dangerous.” Putri shyly smiles. Putra jokingly comments, “You just love it when I get put into danger don't you.” “Oh my dear brother don’t say that, its just an opportunity for us to become stronger, more experienced, another steep closer to our goal, and that is what excites me soo.” Putri explains as the twins smiled at each other.
The Obelisk Prelate gathers his gear and waits for his shuttle to Gilleta Spaceport, as the shuttle arrives Putra and Putri share a warm embraces, Putra, with out saying words out load, gets into the small shuttle. “So, sir that your wife? Shes cute hehehe.” the pilot tries to tease his fair. “Shes my queen and if you ever even look at her again ill kill in the slowest and most agonizing way possible, do you understand me … pilot... now fly!” Putra explains calmly as his pilots eyes grow large with fear. “yes sir... sorry sir....” the shuttle takes off and makes its way to the Gilleta Spaceport.
“Well let us hope he arrives shortly, I am going to need both of you here if this mission is to be a success.” Cethgus proclaimed as he and Saarin make their way towards the teams transport shuttle.
Putra walks behind the two as they begin entering the transport. “You all plane to go with out me?” Putra remarks as Cethgus checks in with the transport's chief petty officer. “SITH TITS PUTRA!” Saarin examined, not knowing Putra was beside him. “We were waiting on you Prelate.” Cethgus replied. Putra spread his arms and lowered his head, “I’m at your vary beck and call, Commander Exarch Cethgus Tiberus Entar, as always” Putra snides. “Get on the ship... all of you.” Cethgus commands. The trio takes their sets and the transport makes its final prep for take off. “So what is the situation at Ol'val?" Putra asks as the transports main boosters kick on and the ship starts to vibrate violently. The ship lifts off the deck and heads out of the spaceport. And towards the teams target, towards Ol’val.
Inarya smiled, but deep inside her smiles gave way to anger. She might have built her life on presenting people with a facade, but it didn't mean that she had to like it. Her amber eyes fell upon the pirate, she wouldn't say she knew him well but the Priestess remembered him from her time acting as Cethgus's second in Revenance Virtuom.
The Twi'lek let her slender hands move around the cards, dealing them out to each of the men that joined her aboard the shuttle, studying each of them as she did.
"I must say, pirate, that I never was comfortable when it came to gambling with a man that had a less than honest disposition."
The Lethan's eyes fell upon Sanguinus as she spoke, he hadn't changed much since her absence apart from the wrinkles that had formed around his eyes and forehead, no doubt from the stress of his newly appointed position.
TEAM EXPENDABLES [Sarin, Raken, Valhavoc]
Sarin, Post 1
Objective Rally Point Carver
Unregistered Nu-Class Attack Shuttle Modified
18:30 Standard Time
The red skinned Elomin’s weight shifted as his torso turned to the hologram projection pod centered on the command table. The SoroSuub pod could receive transmissions throughout the galaxy using a highly complicated coding system within the standard S-thread channels used by all holonet users. This particular model could send and receive data anywhere within the galactic disc with limited concern of interference. Raken’s forearms, carved from granite, coiled and uncoiled beneath his robes as a blue and black two meter holographic copy of Lord Pravus appeared. There would be no bowing, no kowtowing, and certainly no prostration for the sake of Darth Pravus.
Raken glanced at the pre-combat inspections taking place in the shuttle’s cabin and motioned for the eleven military contractors to move to the table. Night vision goggles were stuffed into assault packs, sidearms were holstered, and the chatter of men going about the business of war dropped to silence. The room was littered with relics of Soldiers and wars from the past. Map pens, dry erase boards, digital imagery, and acetate overlays detailed every aspect of the station known as Port Ol'val. The men in this room were professionals and they had taken every precaution to study and understand the mission they would soon embark upon. Intelligence drove operations and everyone sitting at the table understood that.
The death mask of Darth Pravus shifted to the left and right, taking in the members of the assault team. Black and blue Sith runic inscriptions gave the mask an ornate and aesthetic styling that provided insight into the Sith Lord hidden behind it. Darth Pravus was an enigma and took great pleasure remaining a mystery to the galaxy.
A chrono date-time-group appeared above the Sith Lord’s projection, cycling downwards in a countdown. "Execute Oscar Omega," the Sith Lord’s mechanically filtered voice commanded as the holo projection faded to nothingness.
The contractors stood in coordinated movements. Body armor was fitted, kit bags were lifted, and weapons charged. Raken’s nostrils flared as he inhaled the recycled air of the Nu-Class attack shuttle’s life support system. A spike of adrenaline pulsed through his body as his six chambered heart rapidly pounded to increase the flow of blood to his massive frame. The message from Pravus was authentic as were the code words used to indicate the start of their operation.
The only problem was that man in the hologram was not Darth Pravus. It was a recording and it was devoid of the Force.
Besadii Entertainment District
19:00 Standard Time
The high stakes world of Sabaac in the provocative nightlife of the Besadii Entertainment District had taken on a new flavor of desperation. All casinos had the same stale air, the same stench of smoke, the same mix of multi-species perspiration, and the same alcohol infused chatter. But tonight was different, tonight was electric. Recent events on Port Ol’val had increased the stakes. Playing for credits was one thing, playing for credits to escape potential death was another thing all together.
Waylen Black leaned back in his chair and took in the sights and sounds of the room. He loved the drama of Sabaac and the sweet rifle of the seventy six card deck. A great deal could be determined about a man or woman simply from how they played cards. Waylen did not see it as a simple game of chance, but a direct view in to the window of another being’s soul.
Retrieving an electrum case from his tailored tuxedo jacket, Waylen offered a cigarette to the exotically tattooed Epicanthix to his right. Her refusal came with a twinkle in her eyes and a promise of a possible acceptance of other offerings later that night. Acknowledging her response with a cruel smile, Waylen tapped a cigarette out for himself. The four armed Kiughfid dealer reflexively sparked a lighter and lit the cigarette while dealing with his other three arms.
Tonight’s table was a collection of Port Ol’vals high society and a few travelers with plenty of credits to spend. Waylen took each player in with his practiced and measured gaze. The tattooed Epicanthix, Suza Rekal, a shipping baron’s daughter sat to his right. Mr. Dare, a fit and slighting greying human, sat to his left. Sitting directly across the table from Waylen was a retired New Republic intelligence officer who identified himself as Mr. Val Cole. The final player was a female Umbaran named Warder, a surprise player, due to many casinos banning the species due to their ability to subtly influence the behaviors of others.
Taking a deep draw on his custom made Ambrian cigarette, his sixty seventh of the night, Waylen blew the delicious smoke from his nose. The shifting phase of the round had just begun and the faces of several of the players revealed luck’s misfortune on their hands. Leaning forward, Black revealed his cards, but his winner’s amusement was interrupted by a scream from across the room.
Dressed in unmarked black armor, Arcona’s Dajorra Intelligence Agency (DIA) operators flooded the casino. The retort of blaster fire ruthlessly filled pre-assigned targets with the efficiency only professional assassins can display. Someone had broken the rules of Port Ol’val and retribution on those suspected to have affiliation with the attack came swiftly. Clan Arcona did not believe in remorse.
Moving in a modified wedge the DIA operators conducted the ruthless business of eliminating designated targets and additional targets of opportunity until they came to the high stakes table of Waylen Black. Six operators surrounded the table, their modified Westar M-5 blaster rifles trained on the backs of the five players.
The control element of the DIA team removed a facial recognition scanner from his utility belt and scanned each member of the table before finishing with Waylen Black. Control’s head nodded slightly and in unison the six blaster rifles turned to the human in the tuxedo.
"Jedi Master Waylen Black," the DIA agent spat. "This is an unexpected surprise." The DIA agent leaned close to Waylen’s ear, his voice rasped with the hard edge of conviction steeling his words. “I am Jale Noral, one of the few who serve the Magnificent Blue Beast, the Dragon of Selene, the Consul of Clan Arcona. Your death will be our reward.”
Black’s hands moved to the table, his palms rotated to face the ceiling. The sign of surrender.
“The problem with your ilk is the ridiculous monikers you give one another.” Black’s voice sounded anything but that of a man surrendering. Taking a last drag of the Ambrian cigarette, Waylen smiled.
“Perhaps you should simply call him Dead.”
Besadii Entertainment District
1 Second Later
It happened in a moment, but that moment was an eternity of images and visions for the six members of Arcona’s DIA assassination squad. Children, spouses, siblings, and a life time of memories flash and vanish as a scream of pure hatred liquefies organs and turns bones to powder. Five lives extinguished.
The last of the DIA operators, the lone speaker, Jale Noral, clings to life. His body spasms, blood spills from his mouth, his force essence waivers. Above him, a cigarette moves towards his retina, his voice cries out for mercy, “Jedi!”
“Not quite,” the unfiltered voice of Darth Pravus responds.
Besadii Entertainment District
22:05 Standard Time
Cole, Dare, Rekal, and Warder instantly went about the work of stripping the DIA agents of their armor, communications equipment, and supplies. They were efficient, trained, and unflinching in their duty. It takes a special type of person to strip dead bodies.
Cole looked up from his work to Waylen, his voice calm. "Black, what do you want to do with the rest of the clientele?"
Lost in other thoughts, the Jedi Master responded without hesitation, “Kill them all and then wipe the security feeds.”
TEAM EXPENDABLES [Sarin, Raken, Valhavoc]
Valhavoc, Post 1
Besadii Entertainment District
1230 Standard Time
The young hotel porter stood behind the casino's newest guest as he glanced over yet another room. The man was tall for a human with a lean build hidden beneath a tailored grey suit. His black hair and dark beard hid most of facial structure and made him quite unremarkable in appearance. Four rooms and he still can't find one he likes?
Behind him Valhavoc heard the porter shuffle his feet impatiently. "This room will do. Put my suitcase over next to the bed and then show yourself out."
Relieved, the porter completed his tasks and turned to leave the room, as he was closing the door he smiled at the hotel's patron and gave a obviously rehearsed pitch, "We hope you have a wonderful stay, Mr. Cole. Please do visit some of the gaming tables downstairs."
After the door closed Valhavoc began his real inspection of the hotel room. First for hidden cameras, then for listening devices. Some of the former Intelligence Agent's old habits never did seem to shake off, or perhaps they were just too useful to stop practicing. He opened his suitcase and emptied the contents onto the bed. Pressing lightly, Val lifted the false bottoms from both sides of the case, revealing the high yield explosives which had been stored inside.
The blueprints of the casino he had received earlier in the day indicated that a support beam would run across the center of the room. Laying the case with both compartments facing down he felt the locks secure onto the support structure of the building. The outer shell of the suitcase would provide enough resistance to direct the blast through four floors of the building. If Valhavoc decided the case was needed, it only had to get through three.
Valhavoc pulled the sheets from the bed and threw them over the suitcase. Taking off his jacket he placed three durasteel knives onto the table next to the bed. Setting the room to "Do Not Disturb" Val walked to the refresher, placing his Westar-34 on a shelf in the room within his reach. Despite his purpose here, there was no reason to show up at the Sabaac table to meet Black and the others smelling like a rancor.
Besadii Entertainment District
18:10 Standard Time
Waking from a short nap Valhavoc dressed and made his way down to the casino. He ordered a Correllian ale from the bar as he looked over the Sabaac tables. On the far side of the room he spotted Black and Dare, and began to make his way over. Sitting at the table the Jedi Hunter handed his cred-stick to the Kiughfid dealer, and looked across the table at the other two players with a smile, "How have the cards been treating you so far tonight gentlemen?"
Besadii Entertainment District
22:05 Standard Time
Waylen's instructions were short and to the point. It was typical of the man, he wasted little time with formality.
Valhavoc picked up a nearby Agent's Westar M-5 Rifle and looked to the rest of the team, "Dare, Rekal. Clear this area, no survivors. Warder, you're with me. We have some security data to make vanish."
The Umbaran motioned to a nearby hallway, "There should be an access point we can hit with a spike about 150 meters down that hall."
Moving with a purpose, Val and Warder abruptly stopped as the Force signaled the arrival of two Besadii Security guards. The Dark Jedi backed into nearby doorways and assumed crouching positions, stalking the prey that was just rounding the corner. The first guard crumpled to the floor unceremoniously as Warder poured a barrage of blaster fire into his back. Val slid silently behind the second guard, executing a perfect sweep. In wild panic the guard's eyes shot to his attacker just in time to see Val's heel crush his skull.
Stepping over the corpses, Val moved to the casino's security center. Pulling a datapad from his belt, he erased the existing security feeds. Valhavoc activated his comlink , "Waylen, the security footage is long gone. We should have some time to maneuver. We're ready to move to Objective Tarkin."
Besadii Entertainment District
22:45 Standard Time
Val and Warder met up with the group at a rally point three blocks from the casino. As they approached Dare glanced over at the pair and asked, "Are you sure the footage is gone?"
Without breaking stride Valhavoc removed a remote detonator from his belt and activated it. The explosives which were planted in his room ripped through the casino's infrastructure, incinerating plasteel and concrete. Three floors below the source of the shaped charge was the Operations Center of the casino, anything which survived the initial blast was crushed as nearly a quarter of the building collapsed onto itself.
"Yes... I'm sure", Valhavoc responded.
Pride of Corellia District
Anigrel bowed as he was dismissed, “It’ll be as you say, my master.”
The Guardian glanced at the third member of his team as he walked away to find his quarters. What kind of game is the council playing at? From everything I’ve been hearing this man is a traitor and dangerous. He evaded his justice once, why shouldn’t he face his crimes?
Anigrel packed away his belongings using the mundane activity to allow his mind to clear. He didn’t realize he’d finished until he found himself sitting on the bed. Now that he was calmed he decided to try looking at the situation again.
I know I’ve evaded justice in the past, and sometimes it was things I was caught up in when I was just following orders. Maybe that’s why he’s been assigned to my master. I was told things were chaotic back then, I probably would have fled to. Maybe, he’s just coming back now that things are calmer to try to show he is loyal to the clan and that he had no other options.
“I’ll need to sort how I feel about this later. I should get to the rendezvous point. I might be able find the ability to put this to the side while I wait for Scelestus. With any luck he’ll show earlier than Talos and I can ask him about it.”
Anigrel was aware of someone behind him, but was stunned that anyone would tap him on the back. He turned around and looked down to see Talos standing in front of him. It was still a half of a standard hour earlier than their rendezvous time. So much for speaking to my Master first Anigrel smiled and bowed as the man introduced himself.
“It is no bother at all, Sir. I am honored to finally meet you. Everything I’ve heard speaks highly of your skill and prowess. I look forward to working with you and learning from you.”
Port Ol’Val - Pride of Corellia
Snabbie was sound asleep in his small room when the sound of an incoming transmission on his terminal awoke him. “Not another flight training” the young Qel-Droman groaned as he turned around in his bed and slowly started to get up.
Still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes he opened the message, expecting to see another busy schedule filled with hours in the simulator. Instead a high importance message from Nadrin Erinos Arconae was present.
"Snabbie, port Ol’Val is under attack. All members of Arcona have been rallied and put into teams of three. You have been assigned under my leadership together with Maaks Erinos. We do not have much time, so I want you to report to the docks in one hour. We will meet up with you there and get you up to speed.
Nadrin Erinos Arconae"
The sleepy feeling was suddenly gone as the Jedi Hunter stared at the screen in disbelief. Port Ol’Val is under attack? Snabbie thought, Is this a joke? While Snabbie could not believe the message, he saw that it had been deeply encrypted and he would not run the risk of defying real orders. Within ten minutes he had dressed, got his gear and was ready to head out towards the docks.
Walking through the the tunnels and onto Jerem Plaza Snabbie didn't notice any different activity, the daily life seemed to be going on as usual. After a moment of hesitation he continued on into the ducts and walked towards the docks, where he would find out the truth.
Nadrin had woken up that day looking forward to the prospect of reading a couple of books. Nothing too strenuous, but he wanted to expand his knowledge of the Force Wraiths that had become a staple of the Arconan Dark Jedi, and his dead father had left a very interesting set of books dealing with just that subject. He had poured himself a cup of caf (nowhere near as strong as the stuff he had been left by Zandro, and sweetened to high heaven) and had settled down with the first of the books when the message indicator beeped on his belt. Stifling a grown, the youth wrenched the unit from his belt and began to read the text it displayed. By the time he had reached the bottom of the message, his senses were at a peak and he felt the icy trickle of fear descend his spine. He grabbed a pistol, a lightsaber and his cloak, pulled his favourite mask over his face and stormed out of the room, his pace swift as he raced towards the hangar.
By the time Nadrin had reached the hangar, he had sent two quick messages to the Arconans he had been tasked with leading in their mission on Port Ol’val telling them to meet him at the dock of the station when he arrived in an hour’s time. The young Sith jogged up to an empty shuttle and quickly ran through the pre-flight checklist, his mind already buzzing with potential problems he might face on the station. The briefing had been rather vague but he at least knew where he was going and as soon as the checks were complete, the Warlord goosed the thrusters and plunged out towards his destination, ready for what lay ahead.
The shuttle flight was uneventful and left the young Erinos with more than enough time to think. As he approached the Port and landed in its main docking bay, he made a point of hiding his lightsaber at the small of his back, while openly holstering his customized Westar-34 pistol on his right hip, hoping that the overt gun with keep attention away from the very covert saber. Stalking out of the ship with far more confidence than he felt, he locked the shuttle up behind him and walked over towards the exit. Nodding towards one of the members of his temporary team, he beckoned him over as he continued walking, speaking quietly as the man came within hearing range.
“Come on, we’re going to a meeting.”
The two walked off, Nadrin shooting a quick message for Maaks to meet them at the House Qel-Droma HQ; there was a fight coming, but first came strategy.
Ol’val News Network Announcement
Broadcast on Public Channels
Power fluctuations are causing minor issues throughout the station. Citizens are advised to stay in their habitats while the problem is resolved. A curfew is now in effect between the hours of 20:00 and 05:00. Safety is our top priority for everyone aboard Port Ol’val. Thank you for your continued cooperation.
Two hours after arrival
Most of the invited Summit and team leaders plus their charges entered the large conference room, where screens were lit up with security feeds and recordings, and the display table was detailed with what appeared to be a large industrial complex. MindLoop, the silver 3PO-class protocol droid and the Dajorra Intelligence Agency’s newest “special” agent, stood off to the side processing data and awaiting orders.
Socorra and Timeros stood side-by-side at the front, staring at the screens in silence, their arms crossed over their chests. The Erinos had officially been the Entar’s executive assistant in the Dajorra Intelligence Agency for several months now, though Marick and Strategos knew that Socorra was actually a shadow Director, quietly running the Agency for Timeros. Her skills in intelligence were highly valuable and due to her criminal past he wished to keep an eye on her. It was the best of both worlds to him.
Gone were the Quaestor’s formal Invicta robes, replaced with her usual urban Port Ol’val attire many in Qel-Droma were used to. The blasters at her hips were obvious though her lightsaber was hidden well in her jacket; to the uninitiated, she appeared to merely be another shadowport citizen. Beneath Timeros’ robes, however, an astute eye could see a barely visible outline: his Champion’s Bracers, only recently won from the Championship ladder.
“To put it mildly,” Socorra began, gesturing to the screens, “Port Ol’val has erupted into chaos. A crime wave is spreading throughout the station with the usual minor crimes: robberies, muggings and such. But in the midst of the commotion hides the real issues.”
She flicked a finger and the recordings on the screens changed to show the faces of masked and unmasked men quietly - and some forcefully - taking over different locations all over Port Ol’val. In most of the vids the insurgents appeared to be quite boastful in their successes, playing up to the holocams and showing off their new assets. Some faces stuck out more than others with devilish grins spread across their features as if saying, “Gotcha.”
“All of the Shadow Gate safehouses and fronts were taken,” she continued. “Everything. Even down to the smallest one - LIC - the little Lightspeed Ice Cream parlor.”
“They stole your ice cream?” Sanguinius sniggered in the back.
Her head snapped around, raven hair whipping with the motion. The Socorran’s pale, haunting eyes caught Sang’s for a moment. “That, and the hundreds of pounds of glitterstim that is laundered out of there by icecream repulsor trucks, providing HQD and Arcona a sizeable income. Not to mention Strategos' favorite cigar brand.”
Strategos nodded almost imperceptibly. It was likely his only reason for being at the meeting.
The center image blipped to a vidfeed of an abandoned, ramshackle warehouse, some windows busted out and a homeless man sitting near the door.
"That's my safehouse," she announced through gritted teeth. "That's Irene. It was my office in Shadow Gate, and became a hub for the DIA here when I started taking on duties for Timeros."
The feed was unlike the others with no insurgents barging in, no holocam stunts, just peace across the large complex. “How do you know they took that one?” a voice asked.
“Observation, really. Gut instinct.” Perhaps some Force insight too, she thought.
The woman could nearly sense the doubting parties behind her. It would take much manpower to storm the complex - quietly too - on a whim.
Socorra flung a frustrated hand up at the screen. “Just look. That bum just checked his chrono, for fiik sake. They probably outsourced some amateurs and have this feed on loop. I have no doubt that the guards are dead and the DIA agents are dead or being interrogated right this moment."
It brought the room to silence as they pondered the ramifications of the statement.
"How much could they have access to?" Timeros asked.
"Depends on their tech and slicers. I have that osik on lockdown, but I'm not infallible. We need a tech team to make sure they don't breach our systems. Worst case, well, they could have a lot right now.”
“Their slicers will have a hard time getting into the Qel-Droman archives through the alternative firewall,” a young, nasally voice cut through the briefing room. Eyes turned to the tall and lanky human boy, who could have been no older than nineteen. Black, shaggy hair covered parts of his ears and eyes and he wore a pair of black-framed glasses that rested on the bridge of his long, thin nose.
“And why is that?” Socorra replied, eyebrow rising.
“Because I designed it,” the boy said with a wide, confident grin.
“And you are?”
“Former lady slayer and freelancer turned legit...Oh, and there is the whole slicing prodigy thing as well,” he replied while tipping an imaginary hat at her and folding his arms in a sad attempt to flex his muscles. “You can call me yours, though,” he added with a wink.
Socorra blinked twice and cast a dirty glance over to Marick, who stood quietly with his hands clasped behind his back. The Hapan shrugged helplessly, and turned away, barely hiding his amusement under a stoic mask.
“Walli,” Marick corrected the name of the young boy, with little chance for rebuttal left in his tone. “Has been working on the Qel-Droma security since my term as Quaestor. As you can tell, he has a...way with words, so we tend to keep him occupied with projects.”
The boy smiled at that, but neglected to prevent his eyes from checking out the new female Quaestor.
“Okaaay...moving on,” she said, turning to the large 3D diagram on the display table. “This is the industrial complex. Nothing fancy, just an abandoned park left in that state to give it authenticity. It however houses a complex DIA outpost...”
An agent strode up to Timeros and whispered in his ear as Socorra continued with the briefing, though she gave them a quizzical expression as she spoke and then finally wrapped up.
“On your datapads you will find a fully detailed document on Port Ol’val as well as the various organizations and their assets. Assignments will be uploaded to them shortly though they are subject to change as we get more information. While you have full authority to carry out your tasks as you see fit, continue to remember that Dark Jedi presence here on Port Ol’val is still to remain strictly a secret. Outlandish displays of Force use are highly discouraged. We’ve already begun to spin the news with the crime spree - I would hate to have to further explain how telekinesis is just the artificial grav malfunctioning.”
She turned to the sea of faces and asked, “Any questions?”
A field of hands simultaneously rose in the air.
“Fiik me,” the woman grumbled.
After the meeting adjourned, some stragglers stayed behind and conversed amongst themselves. Socorra turned to them, her hand reaching into a desk drawer.
“I need a minute to speak to Timeros, please.”
They looked to each other and began sidling out, leaving the pair in silence. Socorra withdrew a whiskey bottle and poured a glass for herself and Timeros, who accepted the offer with a polite but stiff “thank you.” She turned back to the screens, savoring the flavor of the liquor with a hand femininely tucked under an elbow holding up the glass.
It was a rare moment for them. The Erinos had worn her contempt for the Entar on her sleeve ever since he had kicked her teeth in in the semi-finals of the Championship Ladder. It was made even worse after Teroch had told her Timeros had essentially held her hostage during Operation Rolling Thunder. Timeros, however, considered it to be merely his duty.
That Socorra would pour him a glass was an odd gesture indeed.
“What’s the news?” she asked without turning to him.
“A large explosion in the Besadii District - several floors’ worth. Multiple DIA agents have failed to check in.”
“The frak is going on in the District?” Her question was more directed towards MindLoop than it was Timeros, her finger pointed at the protocol droid. “I want a full report, immediately.”
“Yes, Mistress,” the droid replied, his voicebox full of prim enthusiasm.
“Besides getting the safehouses back,” she continued, “we need our Dark Jedi and agents to infiltrate Mal and find out exactly what they know.”
Timeros nodded, but could sense there was more. He sipped at his glass slowly, even slower than Socorra.
“I wish to deploy Destab unto the Hutt cartels.”
His scraggly blond hair shifted slightly as the Elder turned to look down at the woman. “Destab?”
“Destab - destabilization. In short, they specialize in taking the fabric which holds a people, society or government together and unravelling it.”
“Since when do we have such a branch?”
“About a couple months ago when I created it. Or rather, you technically did. I sent a memo.”
Timeros thought for a moment, pondering the ramifications. "It is a rather drastic measure."
"It is,” she sighed. “But I want them fighting each other, not us. I know it might result in their destruction as well as an important part of Ol’val’s economy, and our own, but having them divided will let us slice through the rest much easier. It’s a necessary risk.”
They watched the screens in silence for a long moment, the faces of the insurgents mocking them as they played up to the holocams.
"It is your House now. You know the consequences." Timeros turned and began walking out, stopping before the door opened. "Make the right call."
Socorra turned her head slightly, though did not look back. “When were you going to inform me about Bulkhead?”
Timeros shrugged slightly, also not turning back. “I assumed you already knew.”
Her silence was almost satisfactory.
Team Fucking Awesome: Legorii I
Legorii stepped from the shuttle onto the cracked, stained base of the dock, his gleaming leather heels clicking against the stone as he led the other Arconans from the vessel. His dark Shadesworn robes whipped around him with each whoosh of stale air that accompanied the docking of another vessel. The traffic that these docks saw appeared disproportionate for the size of the city, but only to the untrained eye. Legorii knew better.
The strength of the Triumvirate in Port Ol’val was widely known, but few were more knowledgeable on the ins and outs of the pirate hub than Legorii. As former leader of Oblivion Brigade, he had been charged with overseeing and executing countless covert operations in the city, and he had retained access to even the most exclusive of DIA intelligence on Mal Company, the Besadii Hutts, and Fly on the Wall.
“Gentlemen,” Legorii began, turning to face the two Dark Jedi who accompanied him. Their features were unreadable, but that was fine. It wasn’t their faces the Archpriest had to read, but their minds. “Each of you has extensive experience leading separate elements of this Clan, and each of you have served Arcona in elite companies in the past,” Legorii began.
Celevon, who was not overtly fond of Etah, snickered. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but was silenced by a piercing glare from the sanguine eyes that were the Anzat’s most distinguishing feature. Legorii continued, “This team will be unlike any of those others. While I am our leader in title, it is my desire that we operate harmoniously, feeding off one another and becoming something larger than the sum of our parts.”
Etah rolled his eyes. “Yeah, Legorii, I’m feeling your vibe, teamwork and all that. Let’s fucking do this.” Celevon took a long drag on his smoke, nodded his assent, and then tossed it aside. He tapped his fingers across the screen of a datapad, pulling up the latest Clan dispatch. The trio stalked off in the direction of the Ducts, without so much as a backward glance at Sanguinius, Kratus, and Inarya, who stood conversing in hushed tones.
Each man was imposing – veterans of multiple Great Jedi Wars, accredited killers of the highest caliber. Legorii and Etah had endured many conflicts together in the past, and had been allies, if not friends, for nearly a decade. Each had respect for the other’s skills and accomplishments, and they had worked well together in the past. Legorii was the newly minted Aedile of Galeres, and in that capacity he had worked with Celevon, but prior to that they had no experience together.
The team moved in silence, their long strides carrying them through the bustle of the Docks and into the winding, dizzying tunnels of the Ducts. Legorii was familiar with most of the passageways, so he took the lead. They passed through shady bars and smoky rooms, occasionally passing fellow Dark Jedi. If any of them had the desire to stop for a drink, none expressed it.
“We’ll head for Jerem Plaza. I have a penthouse rented there, overlooking the main square. We’ll set up and await further orders,” Legorii said. Wrapped up in their own thoughts, his comrades made no verbal response, but quickened their pace.
The penthouse in question was situated atop the Rusty Rancor cantina, one of the most prosperous in the Plaza. It was paid for by Black Water Cleaning Services, a company that was set up as a front for the Entar family. Handpicked by Legorii, the room was almost at the top of the cavernous chamber that had been dug out of the asteroid. Its furnishings were fine, even lavish, though not gaudy.
Etah set his gear down inside the door, which hissed shut behind them. “Who else is aware of this location?”
Legorii did not turn to look at the Obelisk, as he walked over to the prominent window that overlooked the square. “None but I. My brothers could find it in our family records if they choose, but I doubt they care to search.”
Celevon slumped onto a sofa, taking out another smoke. “You think we can just wait this shit out here?”
Etah glared at him, but Legorii managed a slight grin. “No, Celevon. I expect we’ll be in the thick of the action here.” The Anzat moved from the main chamber and into a side room – a room that appeared to be a treasure trove of weapons. Blaster rifles lined the racks on the walls, armory sabers sat in small cases on a table against the back wall, cases of explosives supported more racks of vibroswords and daggers. With the careful eye of an expert, the Entar found the rifle he was looking for, and pulled it down from its rack.
Returning to the room, he presented it to Etah. “A Xerrol Nightstinger sniper rifle. Set up near that window, and get a scope on the square.” While the Prelate complied, Legorii turned to Celevon. “There’s a state-of-the-art telemetry system that was recently installed above us, on the roof of the cantina. I want you to head up there and gather whatever information you can on the communications of the Triumvirate, as well as our fellow Arconan teams. Treat all as hostiles, and relay what you find to my datapad.”
Celevon rose from the sofa slowly, exhaling smoke. “No problem at all. What will you be up to?”
Legorii turned and looked out the window once more. “I have a contact within Mal Company. I’m hoping he can be of some use to us. I’m going to find him. Stay here and await further orders.”
The three Equites set about their work, moving with the swift determination of professionals. They understood that they were not only up against the Triumvirate, but against the other Arconan teams. Undoubtedly, the Summit wished them to work together and combine their skills, but in reality, only one team would receive the laurels and bask in the glory that followed high-stakes engagements.
Legorii had no intention of standing by while another man received the mantle that was his by right.
Directly after the meeting
Ok, this ‘Will of the Force’ thing is starting to get a bit creepy, Graus thought as he stared at the mission briefing in his hand. Not even eight standard hours ago he had been standing in front of Tribb Velles himself in his office on Coruscant, asking about a smuggling contract, all the while plotting to steal a set of tusks for his true customer.
“Mistress Quaestor, might I have a word?” he asked respectively. Graus had been assigned, with his Master, to work along side the current head of House Qel Droma, but this was really the first contact he’d had with the newest leader of the House to which Graus had been consigned.
“Yes, what is it?” Socorra said, annoyance clear on her well sculpted face, “and drop the ‘Mistress’, you’re not my apprentice.”
“I hesitate to bother you, but about the current mission I believe I have some information that concerns our infiltration of Tribb Velles’ office,” Graus continued, “Due to my cover on Port Ol’Val, the Ithorian currently has a 10,000 credit bounty on me.”
Socorra gave Graus a look of puzzled shock. “Repeat that again please? I thought I heard you say he has a contract on you?”
“Yes ma’am,” Graus said.
“Frakking FANTASTIC!” she exclaimed as she threw her hands up in the air in frustration. “First I get one of the hardest tasks, and then Marick gives me someone whose face is already known to our enemy!”
“I have no excuse,” Graus said respectfully.
Graus stood at parade rest while the Quaestor looked at him shrewdly, the wheels turning in her mind.
“You know, perhaps this could work to our advantage,” Socorra said quietly, her eyes narrowing slightly, a small grin tugging at the corners of her full lips.
Graus stood at attention silently, waiting for her to elaborate more.
“One of the more difficult tasks was infiltrating the offices. It seems you have a private invitation just waiting,” the Quaestor said, her eyes alight with new possibilities. “With Invictus under deep cover, it seems you now have the best chance of getting inside.”
“Is the contract Dead or Alive?”
“Alive only,” Graus said. “Apparently he wants back what I stole.”
“Even better,” Socorra said, mulling over the various possibilities. She only briefly glanced at the file of this newest member of her House, but she remembered his skills at infiltration and espionage as well as his military training.
“Ok, here is the plan,” she went on. “You are to get yourself captured, feel free to accomplish this any way you can, just make sure it happens. I will try to get in contact with Invictus and bring him up to speed on the mission.”
Docking Bay 118
Port Ol’Val Spaceport
Two hours later, Graus, now firmly back in the mindset of TX-1829, stood at the door to the hangar bay where he kept Rattles berthed. As the door slid open, the blue-gray TIE Bomber stood apparently unmolested on the tarmac. The ship, even battered and beaten, was still one of the more beautiful sights in the universe to Graus. Even though it had been over two years since 90-5 had been killed, he still could not see the ship without thinking of its original owner. The gruff pilot, more drunk than sober, was still better at the stick than he could ever hope to be, even with the Force at his command.
Giving the hangar bay a quick visual scan, Tix made his way inside towards the ship, his white robe concealing his polished stormtrooper armor. Climbing the ladder set between the twin fuselages, he heard the hangar door open with a grinding scrape. Looking back, he saw four armed Weequays walking with a gangly armed Ithorian, whose skin was colored a brackish brown with mold green splotches.
“Going somewhere Tix?” Taffi boomed, his dual mouths echoing off the hangar bay walls.
“Yeah, I got a job in the Devaronian system,” Tix replied, pulling himself up the last rung of the ladder to stand atop the bomber’s scraped and pitted hull. “If you still want to offer me that contract running salt to Cona, you’ll have to wait ‘til I get back.”
“Come now Tix, let’s be civilized about this,” Taffi said, his deep bass voice clear even through the constant ringing in Tix’s ears. “My employer would like to have some words with you about something that went missing from his office last time we had dealings.”
“Look Taffi, if something went missing, maybe he needs to question his cleaning staff. I’ve got work to do, so if you’ll excuse me,” Tix said as he lifted the topside hatch. The Force rippled a warning an instant before the scarlet blaster bolt splashed off the top hatch of the Bomber.
Drawing both his E-11’s, Tix took aim at the two guards in front of Taffi and fired, his right hand tracking true to blast two smoking holes in the chest plate of the foremost guard, his left hand straying wide to pepper the floor inches from the second.
As return fire streaked towards him, Tix rolled back towards the rear of the cockpit fuselage, out of their direct line of sight. The scarlet bolts striking the outer hull and the ceiling of the bay.
“ENOUGH! Taffi yelled, both mouths and all four throats making his voice boom through the chamber. “Tix, you will come with us. I’ve disengaged the door mechanism; you will not be able to retract the flight door to escape. You’re trapped.”
“Alright! Just back off a sec!” Tix yelled back. “I’m coming down, just don’t shoot!”
As he approached the ladder, he saw the three remaining guards with their weapons pointed at him. Raising his hands, he dropped his E-11’s into the open cockpit and kicked the hatch shut with his foot. As he descended the ladder, rough hands grabbed him, forcing his hands behind his back. As he was turned around, he faced the Ithorian and had to look up to meet the alien’s wide-set eyes.
“Much better,” Taffi said, then in a lightning quick motion, he swiped his hand like a axe blade into Tix’s throat. The stomrtrooper’s vision filled with stars as he fought for breath, his legs buckling.
“That was for killing my man,” Taffi said as Tix lost consciousness.
The kindling of dissent began to catch Port Ol’va afire, and even shrouded in choking clouds of dust and buried below meters of ore, a lone Quarren dreamt of water.
He dreamt of a time when an ocean was his people’s domain, open and theirs to roam. Even a backwater planet such as the likes of Kyataru held refuge.
Until they, some said, got too possessive, too ambitious. They encroached on the land-dwellers holdings, but only in response to the burgeoning disregard by the mouth-breathers for the sanctity of their own.
The Kyatarans acted. The Quarren resisted. Valiantly.
But those who go against the throne often get broken upon it.
And by the end of it all, even amid the gentle lapping of the impassive waters upon the sands that marked time in his head, he could not un-see the faces of his butchered children choking their last’s in that selfsame surf. Under Keibatsu boots.
The mere thought of the name sent fire through the Quarrens blood. They were miserable beings, every last one of them. He had been told all about the one known as “Tsainetomo”. It required little persuasion from his benefactor-the man who had assured him that letting a Keibatsu into the Shadow Clan could only spell doom - for him to take up his lonely, treacherous vigil, pulling the strings in this macabre show of puppets.
Shinn Ragga sat alone in the control room, leaning in his high-backed chair, half-heartedly eyeing the various monitors that showed Bulkhead’s newly freed tenants merrily wreaking havoc in theirs, the most special of ways, mostly involving violence and flame.
It was a scene not unsimilar to that which had driven him scarred across a galaxy to Arcona’s welcoming hearth. He was not entirely unhappy to discover a quiet majority had harbored the same feelings for his oppressors as he. The enemy of one’s enemy, after all. Shinn had been chased from his home; he’d be damned if he would allow a Keibatsu the comfort of one.
The Quarren’s hands fitfully brushed at a stain on his normally sharp uniform; truly, he hadn’t meant to shoot Ji’lee at such close proximity for fear of just such a thing as her soiling his clothing with her blood. Still, the time for regret was over; what was done, was Done.
A dedicated bank of monitors blinked to life and some beings he’d only half-heartedly recognized immediately began to speak, their nasal voices irritating and their requests, inconsequential.
The “Trimunitives” - members of the Hutts, the Mal Company and the F.O.T.W., had been jockeying for his favor for months now, but even after he’d laid out a few tantalizing details of his plan to them behind the inescapable walls that gave Bulkhead both name and reputation, their interactions were still and always drenched in half-trusting criminality. But now, one promise - that of open doors and a veritable smorgasbord of targets - fulfilled, they’d reverted to kind, mewling and suckling at his teat for more opportunity.
The grimy, manipulating faces on the screen each carried the same smugness that came with small term success, but they all failed miserably in a crucial thing.
They thought they were in control. Most beasts of burden did, especially in the moments right before the whip bit savagely into their stupid, filthy flesh.
Filthy, even as Ji’lee’s rotting corpse was, propped up ingloriously and limbs akimbo in a far off corner of the space.
Shinn’s mind, long accustomed to dealing with the criminal element after years of service to Arcona, shunted the conversation off to a part of his brain reserved for just such work. He voiced more orders, gave game praise at reports of robberies and the like; but he wisely thought of other matters. Matters his benefactor would be communicating to him in very short order.
Marick Arconae studied the faces of all those that had remained in the briefing room after Socorra had taken her leave. There was something serene and almost harmonic to the way the Hapan moved. Even the simple act of pacing back and forth seemed effortless. With his hands clasped behind his back his aura emanated control. The lines of his handsome face and the narrowing of his cerulean eyes painted a practiced yet stern visage.
“You all understand the gravity of the situation before us,” The Proconsul said slowly, his accent barely touching the tips of his words.
At his side, Marick’s white Cythraul sat quietly, her heterochromatic eyes idly scanning back and forth across the faces around her.
“You all know what’s at stake. This operation is for the defense of Arcona and all that the Shadow Clan stands for. Regardless of rank or position, pride or prejudice, background or history, you are all brothers and sisters sworn to Arcona. Only together can we drive back this foe that has presented itself before us.”
The Arconans all nodded their heads in agreement, some casting glances at each other. If there was one thing Marick had learned from his time in leadership, there was very little that could stop Arcona when bound together against a common enemy.
“You have all been given your tasks. Dismissed,” The Hapan finished by slicing his hand through the air. “Arcona Invicta.”
“ARCONA INVICTA!” The room chanted, and the assembled teams moved to discuss with one another.
Once that had finished, Marick made his way towards the holo-communicator terminal and punched in a set of numbers. After a few moments and a series of beeps , the cerulean, holographic face of Jedi Hunter Valhavoc appeared on screen.
“Lord Proconsul,” The Corellian said, almost surprised.
“I have some information I think you would do well to share with certain...parties you may or may not be in contact with,” The Hapan said, carefully choosing his words. I’m sending them over encrypted channels to your PDA.
“I...will do what I can, sir,” Valhavoc replied with a slight bow of his head, before ending the transmission. Marick stared at the now empty terminal, curious to see what would come of the information he had passed. He knew it was a gamble, but one he felt necessary to take. He couldn’t avoid them forever.
As he looked around, he noticed that one of the teams he had called for was nowhere to be seen. The Hapan clenched his jaw but carefully hid his budding anger. Calm as a river, gentle as a cool breeze... he reminded himself as he breathed in through his nose, held it for a moment and then slowly exhaled.
Adjusting the earpiece hidden beneath his long dark hair, Marick tapped a series of buttons on his wrist-comm.
“Yes boss?” A familiar voice answered over the communicator.
“Why weren't you at the briefing?” The Hapan inquired bluntly.
“I’m busy,” the voice replied in turn.
Marick opened his mouth to say something, but stopped as he shook his head slowly in disappointment.
“Well, check your data pad and make sure to brief your team. This isn’t a game”
“And Legorii?” Marick asked, his tone almost polite.
“...Please,” the Entar replied dismissively, as if the mere notion was ridiculous.
With the call ended, Marick turned to see Tsainetomo smoking one of his thin cigarettes. Timeros walked back into the room and looked over at his former student turned Proconsul.
“Your brother will be the death of me one day,” Marick said slowly as he turned to face Timeros Entar Arconae.
“Legorii has his way,” The Adept replied with a simple shrug. “What is the plan...sir?”
Marick winced slightly at the honorific. Even as a Jedi Hunter and acting as Timeros’ Battleteam Leader, the Arconae had always referred to him as “sir” when in public. It still bothered him to this day. Marick was convinced he knew as much, and was doing it on purpose.
“We’re going to-” Marick started to explain but was cut off as a beeping in his ear nearly caused him to draw his lightsaber. Calming instantly, the Hapan tapped a button on his wrist.
“Go for Marick,” The Hapan said, somewhat annoyed.
“Excuse me?” The voice on the other end of the call was unmistakable. Marick’s face lost some of its color. It was the voice of the Dragon.
“L-Lord Consul, sir.” Marick said, quickly finding his voice.
“The feed is live for me here at the Citadel. The holo-map has a digital 3-D rendering of Port Ol’val. The software allows me to track each of the teams through beacon, and through our network I have the ability to cut into any frequency to deliver orders.”
“Of course, Lord Consul-”
“-Don’t Lord Consul me, Marick,” The Dragon of Selen sneered. Marick swallowed the slight lump in his throat and glanced over a Kira, who seemed to sense the Consul’s intimidating presence just through her master’s shift in posture. The white wolf made a whimpering sound as her ears went flat and she imagined her father, Kilvin, stoically glaring at her from beside his master.
“Sir...yes sir,” The Proconsul replied obediently.
“Good lad,” The Consul’s voice reverted to its low and unwavering tone. “Marick...keep your eye’s sharp. I still do not trust that Keibatsu.”
“As you say, Lord Con-, sir,” Marick said as his eyes shifted to Tsainetomo, who met his gaze with a calm serenity that only a man at peace with himself could match.
Timeros tilted his head, almost amused. “You were saying?”
Marick smoothed out the folds of his robes, and then clenched and opened his fists at his sides.
“As I was saying, we’re going to Bulkhead.”
ACT 2: Rising Actions
Each team has been given their individual assignments. Work together with your team to accomplish your tasks. Failure is not an option. Remember the rules of Port Ol’val, and keep in mind that discretion is the key. Build up towards a finale for the final act, but don’t tip the pot just yet. Create obstacles for your team to overcome. Nothing is ever easy or goes exactly as planned.
Team Fucking Awesome: Legorii II
Jerem Plaza Penthouse
23:10 Standard Time
Etah checked the scope, his gaze sweeping across Jerem Plaza with all the watchfulness of a hawk. Far below, hundreds of individuals of all manner of species and backgrounds milled about like sheep, woefully unprotected against the rifle that sat patiently in front of the Obelisk. As word of the public safety announcement spread, the crowd noticeably thinned, but the square continued to be in a state of confusion and disarray.
He had caught sight of Legorii sweeping through the plaza just minutes earlier. The Archpriest cut an imposing and unmistakable figure, and as he strode briskly through the crowd, even pirates and mercenaries got out of his way. Suddenly, Etah’s commlink lit up, and he checked it.
“Etah, I just received orders from our Proconsul. The Summit is concerned by the apparent alliance between the Hutts and Mal Company. I’m waiting for my contact, hopefully he’ll be able to shed some light in the meantime,” Legorii said.
Nodding, Etah replied, “Of course, the situation is quite suspicious. What are our orders?”
“We’ve been given the names and DIA dossiers of a pair of targets who have been linked to the Hutts. I’m forwarding them to your datapad, as well as Celevon’s, as we speak. A Hapan named Alec Dromaine, and a Sakiyan known as…Evol. Got that?”
There was silence on the other end of the comm, as Etah’s eyes widened and he stared out the window. Evol. The name shot through his mind like a jolt of lightning.
“…Etah? Is there a problem?” Legorii asked.
Shaking his head, the Prelate regained his composure. “No sir, no problem. I’ll relay the orders to Celevon. How shall we proceed?”
Thinking quickly, the Krath made his decision. “We’re going to the Besadii district. Tell Celevon to pack up his equipment and forward me whatever he picked up. Leave your rifle set up, just in case. Feel free to take whatever arms you need – equip yourselves for war. Then meet me at the Besadii Grand at 23:45.”
“Yes sir. Etah out.”
23:18 Standard Time
Legorii drummed his fingers impatiently on the grimy table. For what felt like the hundredth time, his crimson eyes checked the perimeter of the room, and then flicked to the shadowed faces of the handful of other men present. Most were already drowning themselves in their drinks – likely miners throwing away their sorrows into the barkeep’s finest grog.
Theo was late. But then, Theo was always late. The Corellian pretended to be informed and influential in Mal Company, but privately, Legorii had his doubts. They had met two years previously, when Oblivion Brigade had been charged with infiltrating the pirate company in order to turn up more information about their dealings. The mission had been a mixed success, but one enduring link had been Theo.
Finally, after what felt like hours, the pirate slunk into the bar. After a cursory look around the room, Theo slid onto the stool across from Legorii and slammed a blaster pistol down on the table.
“What’s this, Theo? A show of arms?” Legorii taunted.
Sneering, exposing his gap teeth, the Corellian spat, “It’s a warning. What do you want, spy?”
Leaning back, the Anzat studied his contact’s face. “I want information. Isn’t that what I always want?” A wan smile crossed the Equite’s features.
Theo nodded, “Of course, of course. The customary swap, then? What’s the latest on the Disciples of Kandor?” The pirate glanced around conspiratorially, but truthfully nobody in the bar cared.
Legorii obliged. “The Disciples’ presence in these bars has grown. With the recent unrest, they’ve rallied even more to their cause, and their radical stance gives them strength.” Pausing, the Entar thought about the next bit before continuing. “My sources tell me that the Disciples have a new leader. One Seria Rheseam. Does that name mean anything to you?”
After a moment of consideration, Theo shook his head. “Doesn’t mean shit. I’ll pass it along though, might mean something to someone. What to do you want?”
Legorii’s eyes narrowed. Now was the important bit. “What’s going on with the new Mal Company and Hutt relations? They seem considerably warmer than in the past.”
Theo glanced around again, before continuing with a snarl, “Alec Dromaine.” He spat the name, uttering it with complete disgust. Legorii arched an eyebrow, encouraging the Corellian to continue. “He’s a Hapan, and young. Working for the Hutts, though by now, he might be calling the shots. He’s been dealing with the Mal leaders, and they’ve worked out some sort of agreement. I don’t know what he’s up to.”
Alec Dromaine again, Legorii mused. Who is this man? What the hell’s he up to? Rising slowly, the Archpriest towered over his contact. “Thank you, Theo. Unfortunately, unlike in past exchanges, I cannot afford to let you walk out that door.” Eyes widening in alarm, the Corellian lunged for his blaster, only to find that Legorii was quicker. As the Arconan snatched the blaster from the table with his left hand, his right swept a vibroshiv from the depths of his robes, gashing the pirate’s throat. Clutching his slashed trachea, the Mal Company agent toppled to the floor with a crash, sprawling against the wall. The others in the bar turned to look, but ultimately decided it was not worth their time.
“Thank you for your assistance, Theo,” Legorii said with a slight bow, tossing the blaster pistol to the ground and concealing his dagger once more. He was on a tight schedule, and Etah and Celevon would certainly be headed for the Hutt district by now.
As he swept from the room, the barkeep shouted after him, “Hey! Clean up your own messes!”
Besadii Entertainment District
23:35 Standard Time
Etah and Celevon shouldered their way into the Besadii Grand, the gaudiest and glitziest complex in the entertainment district. On the first floor was a sprawling cantina, with the faux upper class of Port Ol’val dishing out for the brews thought far superior to those concocted in the shadows of the Ducts. The two Arconans were mutually disgusted by what they saw.
The entire district was still in chaos, as they were only an hour removed from what was certainly the worst act of terrorism the city had seen in many years. A prominent casino just a few blocks from the Besadii Grand had been blown up, costing many lives and millions of credits in damage. Security droids had attempted to clear the streets, but rogue mercenaries and pirates persisted. A smoky haze had settled over the sector, and Etah and Celevon had hurried into the Besadii complex and out of the open.
Neither Dark Jedi knew who or what was responsible for the destruction, though they privately suspected another Arconan team was involved. If that was the case, it was a clumsy act, and would draw undue attention to their efforts in the city. Together, two-thirds of TFA made their way to the second floor of the building, to the casino, and seated themselves at a deserted table.
There was an uncomfortable silence between them. Celevon lit another smoke, and Etah watched the other individuals in the room with detached interest. There was something going on, something unsaid between them, that needed to come to the forefront, and each of them knew it. Finally, between puffs, Celevon spoke up.
“So. I know one of these targets, Alec Dromaine. We have a…history.”
Sighing, Etah nodded grimly. “I know. The other target, Evol, is a figure from my past, too.”
Again, silence between them, for many uncomfortable moments. This time, it was Etah’s turn to speak. “Should we tell Legorii? I feel like this is indirectly my fault, that Evol is complicating our mission because of me. I don’t want to cause problems.”
Pondering, Celevon took another pull. “Well…I think we have to. He needs to know. Besides, our knowledge of our rivals will help us in bringing them down.”
Wordlessly, Etah agreed. He pulled out his datapad, and scanned the dossiers that Legorii had forwarded from Marick. He knew that the mission before them would be far from easy.
Suddenly, something pricked Celevon’s senses, and he turned to see Legorii striding towards them from the lift, his pace brisk and businesslike. It was gametime.
Team Unitos Valens: Scelestus II
Undisclosed location: Port Ol’val, two hours after briefing.
Closing the feed on his datapad, the Aedile of House Qel-Droma forwards the file to Talos along with a request to meet him in thirty minutes time. That business done, Scelestus summons Anigrel to join him immediately. There was a matter that needed to be covered before the arrival of the former member of Oblivion Brigade.
To his credit it took Anigrel a mere seven minutes to answer his master’s summons, and soon the Devaronian stood outside the door to the assigned meeting location. The portal swooshed upon at his approach as though operated by a spectral hand. A familiar voice bade the horned alien to enter and have a seat. “Welcome, apprentice. There is a matter that has come to my attention that we need to settle before Talos joins us. Our proconsul, Marick, has made me aware that one of the escaped prisoners is a Kaleesh by the name of Saes. Marick seems to believe that this name will have some significance to you. Bring me up to date on this.”
The younger Dark Jedi settled down onto one of the chairs in the room that had been rented to serve as their HQ until the safe houses could be secured. Without a hint of trepidation he began to relate the history between himself and the Kaleesh smuggler. “We were in a crew that ran just about anything illegal for the right price. Saes and I were able to use the similar experiences of being aliens to forge a bond that served us well as we moved our packages. It was a factor in our success that ended up landing our group the job moving the weapons. It seemed like a simple job that paid well. In retrospect, it paid too well. We should have seen the set up coming, but success had made us cocky and the money came at a critical time. A member of our crew had a debt that was coming due, and this was the perfect score to get that behind us and move on. Of course one thing led to another and security busted us. I managed to escape, Saes didn’t. That simple fact has convinced him that I was the rat that betrayed us and he’s had fifteen years cooling his heels to plan his revenge.”
At this point, Scelestus interrupted to ask, “Does he have any reason to know that you are here on the port?” Anigrel replied, “No, but if he sees me, he will recognize me.” The Sith nods, “Understood. There are many roles to play in this upcoming operation. If you want a support job that keeps you out of sight, we can arrange that.” The violent negative reaction from his apprentice pleased the Dark Jedi very much. “I’m glad you feel that way. We’ll deal with Saes when and if it becomes an issue.”
The door opened again to admit Talos and interrupt any further conversation on the matter of the Kaleesh smuggler. Standing to greet the new arrival and show the proper respect, regardless of his personal feelings for the current and former Arconan, Scelestus bowed his head to the Obelisk Prelate. “Talos, thanks for coming. Marick is convinced your skills will come in useful for our current assignment. Have you had a chance to read the document I sent you?” The ‘Daywalker’ nodded his head in affirmation. “Good, that will save some time. The first order of business will be to air all of our dirty laundry that seems to have found its way here to join the party. While I understand that we could easily just tell ourselves to handle our own business…we are a team for a reason. We need to be able to trust each other and have each other’s backs if we are going to be ultimately successful at the goal that matters.” Anigrel nodded his head at his master’s wisdom, and Talos at least didn’t outright object so the human pressed on, “so we share our dark pasts, then we can move on to your ideas for taking back Reggie.”
Pouring himself a drink and offering one to the others, he settled down again to start the tale of his relationship with Kirya Hanzo. “Kirya is a vindictive bitch when things are going her way, so you get the idea that she isn’t a pleasant person to cross. She has extensive military training from her time in the army of the Imperial remnant and is especially good with a rifle. In fact she has come close to rubbing me out on a couple of occasions with the same. She spends her days now leading her mercenary group, wreaking havoc, sowing chaos, and planning her revenge against me for leaving our romantic relationship before she was ready for it to be over. She is a tactical genius, an unscrupulous leader, and never forgets a slight. I have known her to torture a woman who wore the same dress to an important gala…three years after the party in question.” He pulls a picture of his former love from the files on the desk and hands it to the other members of the Brotherhood. “The biggest problem with her is that we may not see her before she attacks.”
Letting that dire bit of information soak in for a moment, Scelestus turns the floor over to Anigrel, allowing him to rehash the story of Saes. Once Anigrel was finished, it was Talos turn to share the secrets of his nemesis…
TEAM EXPENDABLES [Sarin, Raken, Valhavoc]
Raken, Post 2
Some are not built to endure. Others, cursed or blessed, can do nothing but.
Port Ol'val Facility
Nu-class Attack Shuttle Modified
Time on Target: 30 Seconds
The attack shuttle was the color of night. A black speck against the void of space, it could not be seen by the naked eye. Electronic counter-measure pods studded its hull ensuring it could not be seen by any other means as well. Approaching the port entrance tunnel at 3,000 meters per second the craft was a missile. Only its payload was no explosive charge. Instead it carried eleven men who had survived three Great Jedi Wars, unable to touch the Force, and a lone red Sith to whom they owed their lives.
"Thirty seconds," the crew chief's electronically filtered voice said.
Blood-red tactical lighting bathed the shuttle's interior. At the thirty second call all eleven operators stood and queued at their designated exit doors on either side of the hull. Steadying themselves against the gentle rocking of the shuttle with handles overhead, equipment was checked a final time.
Each man's face bore the lines and scars of their experience. Calm and clever eyes looked ahead to the man in front of them checking the kit on his back looking for anything loose that could snag in the doorway on exfil. Checks complete, each operator pulled a soft half-mask up over their face that resembled a ghost-white skull – part protection, part disguise, pure intimidation.
Raken stood in the back. His cloak sliding silently from his shoulders laying bare his massive torso. He moved forward between the two columns of men towards the front of the craft. Some sneaked glances out of the corners of their eyes as the big red Sith passed; his shoulders drawing even with many a man's head. From what they glimpsed, something had changed.
Above the leathery armor of Red Tower's kilt a tapestry of ornate tattoos had been painstakingly detailed across his arms, chest, back, and neck. All but the Sith's face and head bore the intricate black writhing designs. Now scar and ink alike decorated the Elomin's powerful form. The men had not seen or heard from the general in years. There was no telling what the markings meant or where he had received them.
Raken arrived at the front as the final call came. He could feel the pulses of the cannons through his bare feet as the shuttle engaged pre-selected target reference points at the entrance to the port. The stars visible through the small anterior windows disappeared suddenly as the craft traded the freedom of space for the twisting confines of the Kas tunnel. Raken watched passively as the ship's cannons vaporized everyone and everything they touched.
"Warlord Two-Four, Metal Zero-One," the pilot called. "The ram has touched the wall."
"Zero-One, roger. Two-Four copies all."
Sporadic return fire futilely sought out the craft as it rolled and pitched cutting deeper into the Kas tunnel defensive net. Pravus' diversions had worked. The enemy was so consumed with the explosions that had ripped through the entertainment district he had been ill-prepared to receive this new threat.
Raken touched the pilot's mind through the Force.
The ship flared and rotated on its vertical axis to set down on a landing grid adjacent to the port's customs installation. Inside the shuttle two small green lights illuminated above either troop door.
“Go! Go! Go!”
Raken was the first out as the doors slid back. The operators launched from both doors simultaneously, hunched to minimize their target profile, weapons leveled and scanning. Save for Red Tower the contractors took a knee in a loose security perimeter around the transport and waited for dust-off. When the craft was clear the entire element fanned out behind the striding red Sith.
Immediately black-clad figures in light armor poured from the customs terminal directly in the advancing Sith's path. The air erupted into a maelstrom of coherent light angrily crisscrossing the gap between the operators and the quick-reaction force.
Raken had not intended to use his lightsaber but something was wrong. He had sensed it the moment the shuttle entered the port. Someone was here who should not be. Someone with sickening power in the Force.
A crimson shaft of energy ripped its way free of the dark hilt that had found its way into Raken's hand as he put the thought aside. The volume of fire around him increased as the QRF's attention was drawn to the flashing red beacon like moths to flame. The effect was the same it had been a hundred times before: Red Tower took the brunt of the fight on himself and as a result freed up his men to fire and maneuver and go to work.
And they loved him for it.
“Business hours, brother,” Mharko said to the man on his right.
Two bolts of energy splashed against the cargo container providing the operators cover.
“Oh, yeah. We're open for business. Definitely,” the other said.
“You karking pussies ready to go to work?” A third operator asked as he ran behind and to the right of the first two men slapping each on the shoulder as he flanked around.
Grim skull-masks hid grimmer smiles beneath as the men moved out. Raken's operators split into two elements. The first laid down a high volume of fire to suppress the enemy and cover the maneuver element as it pushed hard to flank right. The distraction provided by Red Tower as well as the withering base of fire from the first element allowed the maneuver team to work the far edge of the customs area and draw even with the defenders unnoticed on their left flank. The result put the port forces squarely in a crossfire.
Failing to react or adjust their tactics, the helpless defenders were ground to pieces within seconds inside the jaws of the flanking maneuver. The firing ceased as the maneuver element swept through the defenders' fighting positions and cleared the bodies. Moans and movement among the wounded drew close-range double-taps to the head.
The engagement had lasted three minutes and forty-five seconds. Operators re-tasked quickly from dispatching survivors to securing the area, replenishing ammunition, and preparing for the next phase of the assault. They had not taken a single casualty.
“Lord Raken,” a contractor said approaching the Elomin general and handing him a small pad. “Burst transmission on the command net for you, sir.”
The small pad's screen held images of three faces and the accompanying authenticators sanctioning Raken to kill them. Indeed there was someone inside Port Ol'val who should not be. The Arconans failed in recognizing the significance of the being's presence and had failed to impress him yet again. If this was the best the Iron Throne had to offer it was but another sign the Brotherhood needed to be destroyed.
...That which can be broken must be broken...
Raken handed the pad off and pointed the way forward. The operators moved out ahead and behind the ever-advancing Sith.
She watched him from the shadows above. He was a force of nature; a lightning storm, a hurricane.
"What is he?" The Spellweaver whispered through pointed teeth to the Matriarch.
A knowing smile briefly altered Harque Nicanor's severe visage. "The father of my children," she said, eyes gleaming in the dark.
Raken could sense the power ahead. A deep and familiar welling in the Force he had not felt in many years. As his men cleared ahead into the docks beyond an immigration facility, Raken looked back in time to the day Sarin fell from the skies of Antei.
...Sarin was dead...
But Omancor Crask had not just killed Sarin. Though the war was hailed as a victory when the Brotherhood reclaimed its throneworld, Crask had ultimately succeeded in killing them all. It was simply to be a slow and agonizing death rather than the quick one that had felled the most powerful Grand Master to ever sit the Throne.
One day at a time, from that day to this, the Brotherhood had slowly bled to death.
With what warmed the Iron Throne now, it was a wonder there was any blood left.
The presence again.
“General,” an operator said over his shoulder. “Looks like we found them.”
The Jedi was dressed in black. He smoked casually as the operators formed a perimeter, secured the area from immediate threats and kept the Force-Sensitive squarely in their optics. Raken pushed forward to within an arm's length of the man whose face had been marked for death. The Adept looked through the humanoid searching for signs of the familiar. This was the closest Raken had been to the man since the transfer.
This was the man the Arconans wanted dead. How far the Brotherhood had fallen indeed.
“Sarin,” the once-Praetor said.
The rarity with which Raken spoke caught everyone off-guard. The pronunciation was halting and raw as if spoken through a mouthful of blood and gravel.
The Jedi smiled. “Not quite,” Darth Pravus said.
Team Obelisk Obliterators : Cethgus II
Port Ol'val: Undisclosed location
Cethgus moved off from the meeting knowing that they had to take one of the safe houses, but the information that they didn’t have was one that annoyed the Exarch. All they knew was, that it was a group of people who were under the lead of a Mandalorian by the name of Kandar Ordo. Current intelligence named the group as the Snakes, but he still needed more information before he could make a move at all. Walking up to his team, a small smile came to his lips as he looked at them secure in the knowledge that they would seek out the threat swiftly and efficiently.
“Right I have our assignment set, it sounds pretty fun. I need us to gather information on where a safe house is. The three of us moving as one will be easily detected, split up inside of the entertainment district and find out what you can. You know how to get in touch with me, so make sure that you keep vigilant. Oh and one last thing, any
unveiling of our powers or sabers and I will personally kill you. This is silent hunting, we cannot reveal our presence.” His words were clear to the two Arconans as he smiled.
Finishing speaking, Cethgus vanished into the bustling crowd of the surrounding area, hoping that he was able to quickly find out what he needed to do. Heading into the entertainment district, he continued to smile that ever so signature grin, taking in the sights and the people that wasted their time on spending their hard earned money. Though that did not bother the Exarch, he might be able to pick some information up from these pathetic people. Who probably had other things on their mind, than what was going on around them at this current moment in time.
Entering the first building that came up, the Exarch couldn’t help but chuckle. He noticed that he was in what could be best described as a brothel. He decided to take his time and grabbed a seat in the corner, his eyes darting around as he attempted to overhear conversations that were taking place. His frantic eye movement ceased as he caught sight of the male that looked like he was running this joint and the Iridonian moved slowly towards the bar, staying silent as he took up a seat nearest the male.
“Ugh, I love the look of some of these girls. But I just figured that none of them are into doing anything with me even for money.” His voice sounded like a man down on his luck, a facade the Exarch hated playing.
“Any of these girls will do stuff for the right price,” the man replied quickly as if trying to get to the point straight away.
“Ah, I just dont think they are into Mandalorians much,” Cethgus knew this was a big bluff he was trying to pull off. He was a Zabrak, everything about him showed the opposite of what a normal Mandalorian was like.
“Huh, wouldn't have guessed that of you. But if you want, I'm going to say go with Tina over there. She has a current Mando client, I figure she would know what you guys like.” The pimp's voice was calm as he pointed over to a girl dancing in the corner, she looked lonely and available at the moment as a perverted smirk creased Cethgus' lips.
“Sure I will, and here's something for your troubles.” Cethgus dropped a couple of credits on the table as he stood up and made his way towards the human female that was dancing. Her skimpy clothing left little to the imagination as the Zabrak made a casual sweep of her body with his eyes. It didn't sway Ceth from his goal, it wasn't his usual fare. However, he needed to get her on her own for what he needed to find out. He decided that he would attempt to be charming for once and introduce himself before jumping the gun.
“So I hear you're particularly good when it comes to fulfilling my needs.” The Obelisk's voice sounded soft to Tina, yet his words were to the point.
“Everything comes at a price and my prices are high. But we can take this conversation private if you want, sugar?” Her voice teased at what was on offer, but the Exarch ignored it, nodding in approval.
The two walked through the room, the club was home to many women of different species, size and shape. All of them seemed to be making their advances upon the poor drunken customers. The Exarch continued his walk into a long corridor as he headed towards one of the rooms right at the back. Entering the room, Cethgus took this chance to see a bed and a sofa. Nothing else really existed in the room, bar a small pole that was in the middle of the room, but the Exarch could guess what that was for.
“Right, I charge one thousand credits per session. I do everything bar kissing, happy with that?” Tina was already straight to the point on this subject, a professional.
“I'll pay the credits, but I'm here for information and nothing more. You can keep your skirt on for once, I think it's a fair trade.” The Exarch's voice was cold this time as he looked at the female, figuring out how she would reply.
“Fine, but I won't say too much, it's against my kiss and tell promise.” Her voice was one that seemed slightly relieved.
“I want to find out what you can tell me about a man named Kandar Ordo, and how often does he come here?” His voice was serenely calm as he stood there waiting for the woman to answer.
“I normally see him today, he's due in about thirty minutes. What we do is between us, and that's pretty much it, He just comes for the sex and nothing else, I can't tell you much on the guy. He keeps himself to himself.” With that, she put her hand out demanding the money.
Grudgingly handing her the credits, the Exarch turned to walk out the door, only to get a kiss on the cheek before he left. As he walked down the corridor back into the main room, his eyes instantly focused on what looked like custom built Mando armour. It was easily recognisable from the times he had seen an old comrade, Sashar Erinos, wear his.
Sensing he was the subject of attention, the man turned to face the Exarch. Noticing he was given away, he growled to himself this situation called for him to be subtle and he couldn't fight back without a weapon. Cethgus knew that he was up shit creek without a paddle right now, and all he could do was hope things were about to go his way. But for some reason the Exarch doubted that, as the man's visor reflected the Zabrak's image, alerting the Qel-Droman that he had him in his sights.
Instantly the man's arm was up as the fire rippled through the air towards the Iridonian. Trying to roll out of the way, he was surprised at how quickly the Mandalorian followed his movements, though they were slowed down by the Exarch trying not to use the Force. Reaching in his pocket, he threw a small magnetic tracker towards the Mandalorian, using the Force slightly to allow it to land perfectly on part of his knee guard. Feeling a massive wave of pain ripple through his arm, the fires lapped over the Exarch's robes before he had time to recover. Ducking out of sight, the Exarch sprinted out of the building into the overcrowed streets. Grabbing his transponder, he checked the signal. The signal was moving away from the brothel he had just vacated, the mercenary was on the move.
“Saarin, Putra. I have a tracker on the Mandalorian, I will meet with you once I have finished following this guy. You two go and take our safe house back.” With that, he shut it down.
Wondering how the two of them were doing, the Entar moved gently as he covered his arm up. The pain was mind-numbing, but the Exarch enjoyed being back into the fight. The agonising sensation of his cloak begining to stick to the burned arm made Cethgus wince as followed the tracker. The Commander had to stay on top of the Mandalorian, he knew he had to fight him somewhere out of the way, and his main goal was to make sure he wasn’t spotted. He hoped that Saarin and Putra would be able to handle things easier if the Mando wasn’t around.
Team Hot Mommas: Kratus II
Port Olval: [Location Classified]
The burned out apartment complex was unfamiliar to Sanguinius as he and the other two members of his squad exited the transport, their feet hardly making a sound as they impacted against the ground. To his left, the cybernetic ex-Pirate looked thoughtful, analyzing the entire area with a keen, albeit criminal, eye. On the right, the Lethan Twi’lek focused intently on her Quaestor, though her senses stretched out to scan the area around her.
The Entar swept inside the deserted building, making notes of all exits before turning around to face his companions. As he did so, he pulled a tactical pad from his robes, and flicked the screen on, bathing his face in blue light. “Alright fellas, this is about to get serious,” he commented wryly.
“You sure?” Kratus queried, shouldering his carbine. “Cause I haven’t seen anything yet except angry Qel-Droman’s and a bunch of shitty-ass orders.”
“Look who’s talking,” Inarya mumbled softly, casting a glance at the Templar.
“Enough,” Sang shot, his tone low and even, business-like. “We have priorities which we shall address now. Any more comments may be given when I have finished.”
Both of his squadmates cast glances at each other, but neither spoke another word, which Sang took as his cue to begin. The Anaxi cleared his throat, casting his eyes down at his tacpad before raising them again to look at the two beings in front of him. “Our orders are rather straightforward--infiltrate the Pride of Corellia sector and locate three Gatewardens. No doubt resistance will be quite...inflated.”
“Meaning we’re as likely to get our asses shot off as we are to rescue these men,” Kratus murmured, rolling his natural eye. “Why do we always get the crap jobs?”
“Every job is essential, Vahillus, you know this,” the Entar returned half-heartedly as though he were reciting a poor recipe. Then he added, “And it looks like our lovely Proconsul has provided us with one of his own agents; an ex-bounty hunter too.”
“We don’t need him,” Inarya burst out, her distaste clearly evident.
“I dunno. Another criminal..or ex-criminal...may be just what this team needs,” Vahillus stated, thoughtfulness evident upon his features.
“Whether or not we use him will be decided by me,” Sang cut across. “Not by anyone else.”
“How do we know this isn’t Marick’s way of watching us?” the Templar queried right as Sang finished speaking.
At that, the Entar crossed his arms over his chest, looking rather thoughtful. “Could very well be,” he mused, thumbing the tacpad. “But, nevertheless, I have looked over the dossier and determined that no matter the purpose of this...asset...his usefulness will likely be necessary.”
Putting away the tacpad, the Prelate looked long and hard at his team. “It is time; we need to get moving. I trust the both of you are prepared for this?”
“Yes sir,” Inarya stated quickly.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” came the cyborg’s drawling reply.
“Good. Move out.”
Andrelious J. Inahj carefully docked his TIE Advanced, Sharpshoot among the shelves of the Docks.
As was usual, a grim faced human approached Inahj as he climbed out of his ship. “Welcome back, Mr. Blueen. Shall I add this docking fee to your account?” the official asked, his tone unwavering. “Indeed. Expect me to…settle..that account soon,” Inahj replied, using the Corellian accented voice of his cover alias, Jocjo Blueen-- a Coronet native who had built up a decent business as CEO of a corporation known as Olex.
Olex of course did not exist, though it was paradoxically advertising all over the Shadowport. The company’s ‘office’ was manned by an old protocol droid that always claimed Blueen was in an appointment. The only time an actual ‘employee’ was spotted was when Inahj’s apprentice, Incendus, was ordered to the office to ‘keep the front active’, as his master put it.
Normally, on arrival at Ol’val, Andrelious would have headed to one of the designated safe houses that Shadow Gate had acquired over its years in operation. There was even one nearby, an old transport that Inahj himself had acquired for the group during his previous stint as a Gatekeeper. This time, however, things had changed. The safe houses had been seized, and the Battlelord, who was fuming at what was happening. Whatever had inspired the triumvirate to seize the safe houses had happened right when the Gatewarden had not been present.
With the situation as it was, Inahj had changed into the outfit he usually wore as Blueen, that of a core dweller’s business suit with a few Corellian touches, and had arranged to reach his ‘employee’ at the docks themselves.
It was in fact some time later that Incendus, dressed in the coveralls of an engineer, arrived. The younger Sith looked a little troubled, especially when he saw that his master was displeased.
“You’re late,” Inahj began, before his apprentice could speak. “I called for you to be here twenty standard minutes ago.” “I’m sorry, master. I was a little held up by…” Incendus began, but an icy death-stare from the Battlelord silenced him. “Whatever it is can wait. You are aware of the situation?” Andrelious replied. “Also, I have some good news for you. We discussed your recent performances at the recent summit meeting. It was decided, due to your general diligence and hard work, it is time to elevate you to the rank of Jedi Hunter. Congratulations." The news, whilst not a surprise, was enough to bring a smile to the face of the younger Sith. He had indeed been working hard at the tasks assigned to him by Inahj, as well as the rest of the summit. Now, he was on the brink of receiving the holy grail – the rank of Dark Jedi Knight.
Before the newly promoted Hunter had a chance to thank his master or otherwise comment, Andrelious pulled out a datapad. On it, under Olex’s logo, was a list of objectives. Turning the screen to show Incendus various points of interest, Inahj began to brief his apprentice. “Proconsul Marick has instructed us to re-take Safe House: Jackson. As you will be aware, the location of this safe house is among the shops of the Jerem Plaza. We will be meeting Strategos, who should be getting himself integrated into the team of hired muscle the Hutts sent to take over SH:J. However, I suspect that Strategos is simply smoking his way through the frakking cigars. I have decided, meanwhile, that our best method of approach is under our DCAs. I would hope you are familiar with them by now.”
Incendus nodded. His own alias was that of Lerin Hitrok, a technician who worked for Olex. Before he could say anything, though, Andrelious continued.
“We will approach the various stalls that are selling items. I will be pretending to be after the cigars themselves, but in reality I’m looking for Strat. You, meanwhile, are to pretend to look for a present for a young lady you have taken a liking to. I don’t know what you youngsters like, just think of the sort of things you’ve seen Socorra using. You will keep this up until I approach you and ask you if your brown coveralls match your lady’s eyes. When I do this, it means I have located Strat and he is ready. I’m afraid that we’re going to have to then proceed as the situation allows, as I cannot reliably predict what is going to happen. Do you have any questions?” “Just one, master. Will this work?” Inahj smirked. “We’re Arconans. Of course this will work. Follow my lead and you’ll be fine. Now, we should leave. Come along, Lerin.”
Beckoning his apprentice to follow him, Inahj, now in the guise of Jocjo Blueen, led the way towards the captured Safe House. Soon, they would meet up with Strategos.
Just after Socorra's briefing
“Sharing a drink with Timeros?” Had Zakath possessed eyebrows, one of them would've been cocked. “It's not like you to drink with your enemies. At least not without killing them.”
Socorra half-turned, to find the Sith Warrior entering the conference room in the wake of Timeros' exit, his talons clicking against each other as a slight smile touched his lips. “You're late, Zakath.”
“Forgive this one, Quaestor,” Zakath bowed slightly, his smile broadening, “This one shall make it a priority to not be halfway across the galaxy on business when the Shadow Clan runs into trouble.”
“Lose the attitude,” The Socorran woman's plump lips thinned out in a frown. “I have enough crap from Timeros, I don't need it from you.”
“Of course,” Zakath's smile dropped away as he stared calmly at the new Quaestor, his posture straightening into a erect military bearing, his claws clasped behind him. “Marick has given this one instructions to report to you for assignment.”
“Good to hear that you jump for someone, at least,” Socorra smirked as she set her drink down on the desk before rifling through the numerous datacards that littered the surface. “I swear, you're almost impossible to find, let alone actually do something productive for the Clan, Gatewarden assignment aside.”
“This one has personal business to attend to,” Zakath's calm black eyes met those of the woman's. “When it is complete, this one will be available for full-time service.”
“Ah, here we are,” Socorra fished out a marked datacard and tossed it at the Barabel, who caught it easily. “You'll find the full details of the assignment and target in there, but to put it simply, you're infiltrating a human gang, identifying and recapturing whatever Bulkhead prisoners that decided to join up, and destroy the gang if you can.”
Zakath gave Socorra a quizzical look, “You're sending this one to infiltrate a hew-mon gang? While this one's skills is considerable, passing for a hew-mon is a little out of this one's capabilities, don't you think?”
“I said lose the attitude.” Socorra replied sourly. “And you're not working alone. You'll have one of my brothers working with you, Wes Erinos. Any problems with that?”
The Barabel gave a slight shrug. “No, this one bears the Erinos no enmity.”
“Good. I'll have him report to you, as you'll have the lead in this mission,” Socorra replied, “Where am I sending him?”
“He can find this one in the Emerald Glen apartment complex in the Besadii district, number A-102.” Zakath gave Socorra a brief nod and turned to leave.
He stopped and gave her a questioning look.
“What personal business?”
The Barabel merely gave her a small smile. “My personal business.”
“If it interferes with Arconan activities, it becomes mine.” Socorra's eyes narrowed as she stared at Zakath intently.
“This one sees, but does not trust you yet. This one suggests you ask Marick about this one's business the next time you two... “ Zakath's tongue flicked out to taste the air. “...meet, if you're so interested in this one's activities, he knows.”
Favoring the woman with a serpent's smile, Zakath strode out of the office.
The port was more lively now that time had passed since the invasion. A slightly more abundant amount of people were out and about now that some time had passed since the attack. It was as if the port had slowly exhaled.
Incendus had predicted that they would abstain from wandering outside for a while; many of the beings here were complete scoundrels, so self-absorbed that it was now their nature to be oblivious to the needs of others. They only desired to save themselves.
Incendus looked down at his begrimed and uncomfortable brown coveralls. These things feel like crap, he thought to himself. And I look like a hick. He looked up and noticed the glaring countenance on his master's face.
"You walk to slow," he said to Incendus, who was under the guise of Lerin. "Stop staring at your clothes."
"I apolo-" Incendus was silenced by the wave of his disguised master's hand, and they plunged forward.
The shops now bustled with humans and aliens alike, the constant chatter of voices, many from different languages lingering in Incendus' ears.
"Alright. I'm going to look around for Strat. Remember the plan." said Andrel. "Stay in character." With that, Andrel left for the cigar shop while Incendus went to a store to wait.
Store on Jerem Plaza
"This place is full of crap," Incendus muttered to himself, disapproving of everything in the store. Alright, Andrel told me to find something that I've seen Socks use.
He came across many things: Ewok dolls, a bunch of wookiee dolls, makeup. All of it junk. I don't think Socks would use any of this.
After a few minutes, an older man came up to him. "Looking for something for a young lass, eh?"
"Is it that obvious?" Incendus asked.
"Maybe if you want a girl you should lose your long hair. Girls aren't going to want any boy who looks like a female."
"Maybe you should piss off old man. I doubt that a woman is going to want a man who she would have to feed either."
As the old man got ready to wave his cane around, Incendus walked to the entrance, where he saw his master.
"Do your coveralls match your ladies eyes?" asked Andrel.
TEAM EXPENDABLES [Sarin, Raken, Valhavoc]
Sarin, Post 2
Harbinger Naval Facility Archives
Six Months Ago
That will be the day of Reckoning,
when Arcona's children are reborn.
Dark Side Adept Khobai Wrathraven, 18 ABY
The Star Chamber was weaker than it had been in years, and the Dark Council with it. Assassinations, disappearances, resignations, and expulsions had taken their toll. The manipulation of the Dark Council was not at an end, but the seven no longer feared as they had.
DJM Mairin Astoris, Deputy Grand Master, 18 ABY
The Star Chamber was dead. The old guard of Grand Masters were like autumn leaves that had vanished into the oblivion of winter. The few who remained had lost their grasp on the Dark Brotherhood or simply lost their desire to rule. Chi Long accepted banishment, Firefox and Paladin had slipped into obscurity, Cotelin chose exile, and Sarin was dead. The mysterious Elders rumored to hold membership in the Overclan were nothing more than a lie. Xanos Zorrixor, the fraud, was excommunicated for his lack of vision, Dark Prophet Kir Katarn was no more, and Dark Jedi Master Acxodim Pyralis was a mere memory. The Star Chamber was dead.
The Overclan’s demise had paved the way for insanity and devolution to plague the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. Clans had faded into Houses, the weak prospered, and the Dark Council was a shallow collection of failed Aediles, traitors, and sycophants of the Grand Master. Gone were the days of Telaris Cantor, Keirdagh Cantor, and Howlader.
The Dark Jedi that made up the organization were no better. Lost in their way, they floated like sheep from false god to false prophecy. One day it was Kem-Shu Maeda and the incense huffing converts of the Wanderer, the next day it was mystical fairies chasing the Heart of the Force. Space Ninja’s with loyalty, families with a sense of honor, the pursuit of the final way. It was all nonsense.
The Dark Side gave power to those who took it. It was not a treasure hunt for those too stupid to realize power was achieved by domination.
This is why I sought out Clan Arcona. Forged by the fires of war they had proven their worth through domination. They appeared primed to take on a greater role. But now, now they have stumbled. Infighting, the offering of positions to outsiders, titles granted for popularity and not performance, and the greatest crime of all, a lack of ambition.
Khobai and Mairin were shortsighted buffoons, but the Force provided them great foresight nearly twenty years ago. The Star Chamber is Dead. The Dark Council is weak. Clan Arcona’s children must be reborn.
Clan Arcona must become the Overclan.
The Journal of Darth Pravus, 36 ABY
0100 Standard Time
For over one thousand years the militaries of the galaxy have practiced drill and ceremony on parade fields. New Soldiers suffer through timing, execution, synchronicity, and above all else the single mindedness of unified effort. It is these long days on the parade field that build the basic blocks that develop Soldiers into fighting units. The translation from the parade field to the battle field is not obvious to the untrained eye, but it is there.
The Kas Tunnel of Port Ol’val has just witnessed such efforts. Twelve Soldiers, blind to the Force, conducted an air assault in to the single access point of the facility. Gear, the most expensive credits can buy, was kitted to the individual. This was not a backwater force looking to make a name. These men were something else entirely. Their mission was simple. Cause confusion and delay the potential for an outside response.
Raken Spiderlord, call sign Red Tower and their General, moved through their formation like a tidal wave of malice. Each man selected for this mission had served with him countless times and each man knew that the Sith would not break formation without reason. Hours earlier they had watched their General receive orders to kill the very man who he now walked towards. Hours earlier they had watched him delete the orders without a second thought.
The Jedi smoked as if he were in a cantina and not in the middle of a warzone. The General’s shoulder’s shook slightly as he spoke. The twelve operators stood stunned, the Elomin did not speak often and never without purpose.
“Sarin,” the once-Praetor said.
The Jedi smiled. “Not quite,” Darth Pravus said.
0110 Standard Time
The conversation was brief, to the point, and unheard by the twelve operators holding formation. The Jedi vanished. Their General turned and walked towards them tapping codes on his forearm datapad. The flash traffic hit each of their HUDs simultaneously.
ANTAGONIST – ARCONAE – QEL DROMA
THIS IS NOT A DRILL
The team leader broke radio silence first. “Gentlemen, we are cleared hot. Arcona leadership first.”
0300 Standard Time
The immaculate white robes of Jedi Master Waylen Black were splattered in blood. The Force poured off of him in hot waves of hatred and insanity. His fists, powered by unnatural strength and speed struck the skull of Jedi Hunter Noman Invis repeatedly. The Journeyman of Clan Naga Sadow had stopped screaming nearly five minutes before, but Black continued the onslaught.
Black had brought the man to Port Ol’val six days prior and had kept him caged in a top floor apartment within the Mal security district. Drugged and bound, the Jedi Hunter regained his consciousness moments before Black’s onslaught. It was brutal and shocking in its simplicity and it induced fear. The kind of fear that served as a beacon to Dark Jedi.
Black’s fists destroyed the skull protecting the Hunter’s frontal lobe. Brain, blood, and cranial fluid began to pour from Noman’s ears and mouth. His death was brutal.
Standing, Black drug the body to the open window of the apartment and tossed it over the safety railing. The body tumbled meters before snapping to a stop, a cord wrapped around the Hunter’s neck, preventing his fall.
With a flick of his lightsaber, Black ignited the blade and walked to the duracrete inner wall and wrote a phrase designed to bring retribution.
“Death to Naga Sadow”
Team Hot Mommas Sanguinius Post II
Pride of Corellia Sector
The gloved fist smashed into flesh with a sickening thud, a piteous wail echoed through the building as the beating continued. Andraste shivered slightly as she heard the cry, she had been picked up when the assault had occurred on the safe houses. It had all happened so quickly, several heavily armed thugs bursting through the door and grabbing her. She assumed that some of her fellow Gatekeepers had been captured too, explaining the noises.
Light streamed in from under the door, partially illuminating the bare room. Her hands were chained together with shock cuffs, any attempt at using the Force made the cuffs emit an electrical current that would piss off a rancor....the Qel-Droman could attest to that first hand.
Glancing around, the Protector looked for a way to escape or a weapon she could use. No such luck, she cursed under her breath. Scuffled footsteps outside the door alerted the woman. She slumped to the floor as the door slammed open. Two men stood in the doorway, large, muscular and very, very mean. The smiles on their faces didn’t invite much hope on the part of Andraste.
Outskirts of Pride of Corellia sector
The footsteps crunched through the rubble of the wrecked building that stood on the lip of the minefield. Sanguinius was cautious, unsure of what was awaiting him. He had made contact with the asset Marick had provided him. The Bounty Hunter had demanded that they meet here, out of the way. Inarya and Kratus were several metres away, awaiting his orders.
The Anaxsi had the feeling that he was being watched and turned his head to gaze directly at the Trianii. Sotodeh stood in the doorway, his alien features inscrutable.
“You the guy?” the gunman asked.
Sanguinius nodded, while being a former Imperial, he had never shared the anti-alien bias that had infected so many of the Imperial officers. He allowed a tight smile cross his face as he offered a hand in greeting.
“Good to meet you, Sotodeh. I presume you know the situation?”
The Trianii shook the Entar’s hand, “Yes, Marick has enlightened me to the situation. I’ve put feelers out in the area, but no luck yet.”
The Quaestor swore, loudly. “So we have no real idea where they’re holding them?”
“Well...we know that they’re in the Pride of Corellia district.” Sanghedi offered.
Sanguinius sighed in resignation, “We’ll just have to make things up as we go along,” he turned to glance at Kratus and Inarya. “The four of us shall split into two groups. Kratus, go with Sotodeh. Inarya, you’re with me.”
The Anaxsi stared at his fellow Equites, piercing their minds with a message. Search for them in the Force. The pair nodded in unison.
Kratus moved to stand next to the bounty hunter, grunting a greeting. The Trianii grunted in reply and stalked off through the doorway, the ex-pirate following close behind. Inarya moved lithely across the rubble, coming to a halt next to the silent Sanguinius.
“Sang, are you sure about this?” she whispered.
He nodded, “We can trust him, Kratus will keep me apprised of anything that arises.”
Inarya rested her left hand on the Entar’s shoulder. “We’ll succeed....right?”
Lifting his hand to rub his eyes, Sanguinius stressed every syllable. “We will find them and we will get them home,” Brushing the Lethan’s hand from his shoulder, Sanguinius nodded towards the door. “Let’s go...”
The Twi’lek’s amber eyes fell on the human in front of her. There were very few people that she trusted and Sang was among those few, but still there was something nagging at her, she just wasn’t sure what. She had to admit dealing with the Hutts again wasn’t an ideal situation; the last time she set eyes on a Hutt was before she went on the run and she knew that the slugs didn't let things go easily.
She let her eyes leave the tired face of her master and turn towards the feline that had joined them. If there was something that she hated more than Hutts, it was bounty hunters. They would always be the first to stab you in the back if it meant saving their own skin. She was secretly cursing the Pro-Consul's name for giving them a bounty hunter as an attachment. Her fists were clenched was she walked to rejoin the side of the Anaxsi, Inarya knew that this mission that they were about to undertake held a great degree of danger and she knew there was no room for error or failure.
Inarya closed her eyes, listening to something in the vastness of the area that could give them a lead. She knew that her connection to the Force wasn’t exactly the strongest, therefore making it almost impossible to pinpoint anything through the background noise that surrounded them. She turned again to Sanguinius.
“Do you trust that bounty hunter? I mean sure Marick knows him, doesn’t mean to say we can trust him, surely?” She quizzed him.
“If Marick trusts him, then why shouldn’t we?”
The female narrowed her eyes to a glare again; she hated people’s blind trust. Her fist clenched as she felt rage build up inside her before she pushed in back and sealed it away once again.
The pair continued to walk, this time in silence, both of them focused with the task at hand. The Galerean looked over the streets and houses of the district, everything here seemed to be covered in a thin layer of dust and dirt, the impression here was clear that Is belonged to the lower classes. The foul stench of oil was thick in the air making the Twi’lek feel like her lungs were trying to breathe in jelly, as the stench was join by that coppery, almost bloody smell of old metal. She let herself reach out her connection with the Force, creeping over the buildings into windows and doors. Touching everything organic and inorganic in its path, yet there was nothing that she could use, nothing to give away a location.
TEAM EXPENDABLES [Sarin, Raken, Valhavoc]
Valhavoc, Post 2
Besadii Entertainment District
2255 Standard Time
Black was standing a few paces away from the group, another cigarette in his hand. The smoke mingled with the dust from the collapsed casino. Val walked over to his master and remarked, "So that was a lovely start to the evening, what's next?"
"The Red Tower will be landing soon" Waylen replied, "earlier I had Mr. Dare acquire us some lodging in the Ducts, go there." The journeyman nodded and returned to the group.
Addressing his associates Valhavoc said, "Dare, I hear you have a place in the Ducts. Do they have Sabaac tables? I'd like to finish our game."
"Actually, Cole, there's one in the lobby. Shall we head over?"
"Let's do that" Valhavoc turned and began walking away, calling over his shoulder, "don't get lost." The team recognized the code words to separate and link up at the rally point in the Ducts, and began to nonchalantly disperse throughout the crowd.
Only a few blocks away Valhavoc's holocommunicator flashed twice, indicating an incoming message on a secure channel.
Who the hell could that be? Black ordered communications silence after we landed.
Ducking into a nearby alley he activated the device, only to see a miniature projection of the Proconsul of Clan Arcona. Surprised, he instinctively addressed the Hapan, "Lord Proconsul". After a short conversation three target Dossiers were transmitted to Valhavoc just as Marick had said. He began a quick review of them.
Target One, Garvin Cyll. Just the name made the Jedi Hunter's blood boil. Years ago when Val was still in the Galactic Intelligence Agency the Zabrak Jedi Knight had found him about to execute a target he was interrogating. The resulting fallout had cost him everything, driving the disavowed Agent to live on the streets of Nar Shaddaa for years before finding the Dark Brotherhood.
Target Two, Harque Nicanor. Just based on the picture she looked like a nasty bitch, and from her dossier the personality fit the bill. One of the Nightsisters of Dathomir, he knew little more about this target.
Target Three, Valhavoc's jaw dropped when he saw the final name, Jedi Master Waylen Black. Apparently when the DIA had identified Black they managed to get a message out before he annihilated them, and now the Shadow Clan wanted the Jedi eliminated. A thin smile spread across Valhavoc's face.
Obviously his true identity is still a mystery to them, if only they knew....
With a few keystrokes he transmitted the dossiers to Black and Raken. Attaching a short note, "Cyll and I have a history. I'll take care of him. Target three should be interesting." Storing his datapad Valhavoc continued to make his way to the Ducts.
0045 Standard Time
Val expected to be the last to arrive at the run down hotel. He found Dare, Rekal, and Warder present in the room. Waylen, however, was missing. Seeing Valhavoc arrive Rekal nodded to him and said, "He's gone to meet up with Red Tower."
Dare motioned Val over to a large case next to the room's lone table, "Thought you might want these, some of your kit that you didn't bring along to the casino." Valhavoc nodded at the man and placed the case on the table then began to inventory his equipment. Opening it he found three items: a black trench coat, a rangefinder, and his Erinos Miniature Magnetic Accelerator Rifle from the Spectre Cell armory.
Valhavoc slid out of his tailored suit jacket and put on the long coat. His time in the glamorous part of Port Ol'val, if the Besadii Casinos could be called galmorous, was over. It was time to go to work now. He carefully inspected each of the spare energy cells as well as ensuring all clips were full before placing them back into their respective pouches in his coat. Finally checking that the bolt to the weapon system was functioning properly and not jamming by cocking the weapon several times manually.
Suddenly the sound of blaster fire erupted in the distance. "Sounds like the Tower, right on time" Dare commented without looking up from his own gear, "might be able to catch a glimpse of what's going on out there from the roof."
Valhavoc left his rifle in the room and briskly walked through the hallway to the lift which would take him to the roof. Stepping out of the lift the recycled air from the hollowed asteroid's life support systems hit him in the face, humid and warmer than the climate controlled building's. He walked over to the edge of the roof and pulled out his rangefinder then sighted it in on where he could see blaster fire in the distance.
The team appeared to be about 1400 meters away... he magnified the zoom... the group was wearing black, except for the Red Tower. Valhavoc suddenly realized how appropriate the callsign was. The red Elomin appeared to be a giant compared to the operators surrounding him, as his crimson lightsaber ignited the enemy fire focused onto him. Valhavoc watched as the Adept's security maneuvered around the enemy element, it was like watching a rehearsed play on the holonet.
How many times have they executed that flanking movement together?
Just as suddenly as the firefight had started, it was over. Valhavoc watched as Raken's assault force moved through the streets, towards a lone figure standing casually in front of them.
The operators circled the figure, and Raken strode up to him. Valhavoc could see the Elomin's mouth move briefly, and his troops relax slightly. Placing the rangefinder back into his jacket Valhavoc turned to go back to the others.
Black had his business to deal with, and Val had an old acquaintance to kill. As he entered the room the three looked to him, "Black's linked up with the Tower. Wait here for any follow on orders from him. I'm going after Cyll." He picked up his rifle and began to place it back into the case.
"You'll need a spotter" Warder remarked, "any objection to me coming along?"
"No objections... as long as I'm the one pulling the trigger when we find him. Cyll and I go way back. He's mine" Valhavoc replied.
She nodded in response, "And where exactly on this rock will we find said Jedi?"
"Cyll's an idealist, always wants to be helping or saving someone" he snapped the rifle's case shut, "I can think of a few hundred people who need some help right now... after all, we just dropped a casino on them" Valhavoc answered with a smile.
Besadii Entertainment District
0230 Standard Time
The pair rented a room in a run down hotel whose clientele was primarily broke casino patrons. Walking through the dingy lobby Valhavoc heard multiple drunks claim how they were about to win "the big one" when half the damn building blew up.
Their room was on the top floor of the building at the end of a hallway. As they neared the doorway Valhavoc knelt down to adjust a boot, and attached a small motion sensor to the wall. There was no need to be surprised if they were going to have visitors.
The room was spartan, a bed and small table with two chairs comprised its furnishings. Further complementing the room was the lingering smell of alcohol and body odor. However, the field of fire it offered to the casino's debris, approximately 500 meters away, was perfect.
"Only the finest accommodations for our operation, huh?" Warder sarcastically commented while looking at the obviously unwashed bedsheets.
Valhavoc did not reply as he reassembled his rifle, then partially opened the window to give himself a clear shot. He set the windows to tint, filtering out the lights from the nearby casino and preventing anyone from seeing inside the room. Setting the rifle onto the table Val pulled a chair over near the window and placed the rangefinder visor on.
"I'll take first watch" he told Warder, then gestured towards the bed, "you might as well get some rest, no telling how long we'll be here." The female Umbaran gave a reluctant sigh and laid down on the bed, quickly falling into a light sleep.
As Valhavoc scanned the debris, waiting for Cyll to appear he thought back over recent events. The Jedi Hunter was no stranger to conflicts, having served during a period of the Yuuzhan Vong War, years before he knew he was force sensitive. This, however, was the first operation since he had begun his training with Darth Pravus.
Being an apprentice to a Dark Lord of the Sith certainly had advantages, but the cost of any failure would be staggering. The Dark Lords did not take apprentices often, Valhavoc knew that his actions would reflect on Pravus and anything short of perfection would be unacceptable to his Master. A slight smirk flashed across his bearded face, it would probably be better to die during the operation than return to face the horrors Pravus would surely inflict on him if he failed.
Years ago Valhavoc would have pushed these anxieties away, forcing himself to maintain his cool. He had since learned how foolish that exercise was. Any emotion was simply untapped power waiting to be harnessed and focused on his enemies.
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Suddenly the journeyman's introspection was cut short by a chirp from his rangefinder. The motion sensor outside the door had activated. Reaching out with the Force he nudged Warder's subconscious, waking up the sleeping Umbaran. She rolled out of bed, crouching next to it and aimed her Westar M-5 Rifle towards the door.
Drawing his Westar-34 Pistol Val moved to a dark corner near the door, keeping his pistol trained on the entrance.
Team Fucking Awesome: Etah I
Besadii Entertainment District
23:30 Standard Time
Evol stood out from the crowd, even among the glitz of the Besadii Entertainment District. His dark skin contrasted with his perfectly tailored white business suit. His height allowed him to see over everyone’s heads and his lithe, toned figure allowed him to look down on them. He walked with the confidence of a man who knew his station and was dauntless in the course of his life, though others might say presumptuous instead.
The middle aged Sakiyan had the lean of a gangster, the walk of a pimp, the fashion sense of a model and the looks of a holo star. He felt like a celebrity even though he was just the CEO of a small “medical” company. Kessel was the new production center of his Corulag based company, but it was a dry, dreary and boring place. So Evol lived for the weekends he spent on Port Ol’val. The wine, the women, the gambling, they all made him feel alive.
Loving this unreputable place so much is what got him in the pickle he is in now. He was caught between a rock and a Hutt, or a few as it were. Evol didn’t know it just yet, but his day was about to get much much worse.
Besadii Entertainment District
23:40 Standard Time
Legorii, Etah and Celevon stood off in the corner of a main entryway to the Besadii Entertainment District. The Mirialan stood alongside his Anzati and human companion, looking more conspicuously then they would have liked. Both Celevon and Etah looked like they had something Important to say, Legorii nodded in their direction as if to prod one or both to them into speaking.
“Legs, I have information about one of the individuals that was mentioned as a person of interest” Etah mentioned casually.
“What information do you have?” Legorii asked his team member.
“All of it,” Etah replied somewhat dismissively.
“Come again?” the Enter responded.
“Evol is a Sakiyan and the Chief Executive Officer for a small Spice Company from Corulag. They are setting up shop on Kessel in an attempt to dramatically increase Gwain Spices presence on the intergalactic market. He has butted heads with Tana Incorporated and me specifically, because our Fortress is sitting on one of the largest cashes of spice in the known galaxy. He may be here because the d’Tana Crime Family, and by extension me, is linked to Port Ol’val due to our Hutt dealings,” Etah related to Legorii.
“Excellent,” Legorii replied.
“I’m not sure if you heard me right, Legs. I might be personally responsible for part of this fiasco,” Etah explained with a note of confusion in his voice.
“I don’t care about the plight of Port Ol’val,” the Anzat explained, “Hell I’m not even a member of House Qel-Droma anymore. I just want to win!”
“How do you win in a situation like this?” Celevon asked, inserting himself into the conversation.
“By getting the job done, better and faster than your Clanmates, receiving the lion share of the credit and reaping the rewards of a job well done,” the Archpriest articulated for his teammates. “Now Etah, I know you have some contacts within the Besadii Clan. I want you to find out what you can about Evol while I and Celevon follow up on this Dromaine fellow.” The Aedile paused and shook his head a bit. “It bothers me that Dromaine is Hapan, like our dear old Proconsul. I am really hoping there is not more to that.”
With a nod Etah was off.
Casual Bar, Jarem Plaza
23:55 Standard Time
Etah had messaged one of his closest contacts, a human female retainer of the Besadii Clan, so deep into the Thrice Damned Swoop Club that to betray them would mean her own death. She was to meet her big scary looking friend at a bar, because they both distrusted electronic communication in this place. Etah spotted Mejo when she walked into the room. She was relatively attractive, but attractive women were a dime a dozen in Port Ol’val. She walked over to Etah and slid into the booth.
“So what did you find out about our boy Evol.” Etah asked her.
“He is not friends with the highest circles of the Besadii, but he has dealings with their drug smuggling arms and he is friends with the Hutt Counselor of the Besadii,” The woman explained simply enough.
“So he is friends with a leader of the Clan? Then why is he not privy to the inner circle of the Besadii?” Etah queried from his seat, across from her.
“No no. A Hutt Counselor is a non-Hutt, frequently a human, who can speak for a Kajidic. Kind of like a diplomat. They are important, but not as important as a Hutt,” Mejo continued.
“So what do you know about this Hutt Counselor?” Etah asked making it clear that he Is looking for details.
“Not much. I only know that his name is Alec and he looks human,” Mejo responded again.
“Hmmmm, thanks” Etah said nodding. “So back to Evol, where can I find him?” Etah asked again.
“I can show you…..” Mejo offered.
Stop’n Gamble, Jarem Plaza
00:25 Standard Time
Mejo made her way through the crowd and back to where Etah was standing. “He’s there, just like he has been every afternoon for the last few days,” she informed the big Swooper. He nodded, which was a silent dismissal. She left as soon as she could, wanting no part of what she knew would come next. Etah scanned the crowd for the black skin of his intended victim.
Etah found Evol at a roulette table from across the room, and creped silently forward. Gathering the force around him, he uses the force to alter his image to appear as a Mal Company Mercinary charged with keeping order around the Jarem Plaza.
“Excuse me,” Etah said tapping on Evol’s shoulder leaving a bit of blood on the man’s shoulder, which soaked through to the Sakiyan’s charcoal colored skin. “I need you to step outside for a moment Sir” Etah said with an air of professionalism, while using the force to persuade the man.
“Give me one moment to collect my winnings and I will speak with you as asked,” Evol said with grace, cluing Etah into the fact that the mind trick did not seem to work on the Sakiyan. A moment later the two were stepping out in the main hall of the Plaza. Etah silently suggested to the nearby Mal Company soldiers that he was a Mal Company Mercenary and was on official company business. He knew they fell for it that moment.
00:35 Standard Time
Etah moved with the speed of an Equite to cuff the dark skinned Evol, because he knew he would not be able to maintain the image of a Mal Company Mercenary much longer. But Evol sensed something was wrong, he moved out of reach and then bolted across the promenade. Etah ran after him as fast as he could, through the crowded corridor while being an inconspicuous as possible. As he was on the move, he hit his secured comline back to Legorii and Celevon.
“I have located Evol, am in pursuit. Headed toward the Ducts. Evol might have been involved with a human Hutt Counselor named Alec,” said into the coms, somewhat breathless.
“I read Etah, continue pursuit. I know you have this handled, myself and Celevon will continue pursuing Dromaine. Legs out.” Legorri said Into the Com system.
“I’m supposed to say out Legz” Etah said giving his temporary boss a hard time, even amidst a high stakes pursuit. “Etah, out.”
Evol fled through the Plaza and into the Ducts. Etah smiled to himself, as he tried to figure out a way to funnel the Sakiyan into his favorite bar and the only one that the Thrice Damned Swoop Club owned.
00:45 Standard Time
Etah watched as Evol ran into the tunnels of the Ducts, an area the Mirialan knew very well. The Obelisk Prelate did not find a foot chase with his archnemesis necessary, because his blood could tell him exactly where the Sakiyan ran too. Etah reached out with the force. He suggested to the weak minds of Port ol’val walking through the Ducts, which included the newly arriving, the about to be leaving and the scummy low lives like himself that went there of their own accord, to block certain paths in from of Evol. In this manner Etah carefully guided the Archpriest down the route of his own choosing.
Using a much more direct route and a little bit of Force speed, Etah caught up to Evol. Using the force to fortify his strength, he grabbed the tall mans leg and ripped it out from under him. Evol lost his balance and fell straight into a granitic wall, while running full speed, crashing into the hard stone and drawing blood just over his left eye. But Evol just jumped up and kept running. During this point in the chase, Etah kept forcing him to go a certain way and then into a certain bar, that a certain Mirialan was part owner of.
01:00 Standard Time
Running into a small dive bar in the far corner of the Ducts, came to a halt as he realized that this bar had several patched members of the Thrice Damned Motorcycle Club-Kessel. Etah, whom Evol recognized, stepped through the door after Evol, also wearing the leathers and cut of the Thrice Damned Motorcycle Club. Evol stood at the bar not sure what was going on, and not sure what to do.
Etah walked to the bar and asked for two sets of Three Shades of Black, which were six different shots. He set three besides him, and drank three shots himself, one right after the other in quick secession. “Black Vodka, Black Rum and Black Whiskey, this is a thinkin mans shot combo,” Etah said ironically.
Realizing who his hosts were and the danger he was now in, Evol still refused to give up. “I guess if I’m gonna die today I might as well die happy,” Evol said with a grin. He loosened his tie, removed his shredded blazer and did all three shots like a champ. Etah simply nodded to the other two patch wearing members of the Thrice Damned Swoop Club, who picked up chairs and walked over to Evol. The Sakiyan punched one in the face before the other broke a stool over the businessman’s head. Evol shook his head and punched the first guy in the face. “This suit was very expensive,” He said with a slight smile.
Etah chuckled to himself because his never say die attitude made Etah like Evol more than he had before. But all was lost. The Mirialan used the force to dissolute the poison that was now in his body from the shots, but his Sakiyan counterpart didn’t have that ability. So as the two patched members of the Thrice Damned Swoop Club began to stand, Evol slumped to the ground. The last thing that Evol saw was Etah’s face as his vision went dark.
Thrice Damned Safe House
01:30 Standard Time
Arcona’s safe houses had been overrun and could not be considered secure, up to and including Bulkhead itself. But Etah had his own safe house. Just one, a modest but secure area in back of the bar he was part owner of. The bar that Evol was led too and where he brawled a bit before passing out and the place that Etah spent much of his time at, while in Port Ol’val.
Etah stepped into the interrogation room with an awakening Evol.
“So it’s you. You are targeting me for trying to destroy your company?” Evol inquired.
“No, this is much bigger than me, and it’s much bigger than you. It’s bigger than Kessel even, or all the Spice in the galaxy. I represent some very important people and they are. Not. Happy,” Etah said somewhat dramatically. “Who do you represent, who is Alec , why are you involved with the Besadii and to what extent are you involved with the shenanigans that have been going on in Port Ol’val?” Etah said, barraging him with questions.
“Yes, yes, no and yes,” Evol replied like the overconfident Smart Ass Etah already knew he was.
Etah stepped in and punched the Sakiyan in the face using Equite Speed. This caused Evol’s vision to flash yellow and then black and his head to snap back and forth like a bobble head.
“Not. A. Game. You fuck!” Etah said spitting at the man and punching him again.
“For a self-proclaimed badass, you hit like a girl,” Evol commented with a snicker, even as he bled from a large gash above his eye.
Looking at the photo negative of himself, on Evol’s face, Etah stared intently at him. He was reaching out with all the force he had built up and forcefully siphoning the Sakiyan’s will. Etah could see the change on the businessman’s face as the will drained from him.
“I’ll tell you whatever you need, just please don’t hurt me,” Evol said with no small amount of concern present in his voice.
“Who do you represent?” Etah asked.
“Just myself, and Gwain Spices as per usual,” Evol responded concisely.
“Who is Alec?” Etah demanded.
“Alec Dromaine, he’s a Hutt Councilor for the Besadii Hutt Clan,” Evol responded quickly.
“How do you know him?” Etah pressed further.
“He’s an old client, the kind that owes me favors,” Evol revealed.
“Why does he owe you favors?” Etah said as he began looking into Evol’s mind.
“Let’s just say some of the skeletons in my closet are from him,” Evol said as diplomatically as possible. But his thoughts weren’t disciplined and they revealed to Etah that Evol had allowed Alec to get away with some major crimes committed on Corelag, by paying off all the right people.
“Why are you involved with the Besadii Clan?” Etah inquired of his counterpart.
“I knew the Thrice Damned and Tana Inc. distributed Spice through them. I tried to get them to go into legitimate business with me so they would cut you off, but so far it looks like they refuse,” Evol responded again, making Etah smile just a bit.
“What do you know about the recent goings on in Port Ol’val?” Etah asked Evol more forcefully than with prior questions.
“I don’t know much, but I know they all revolve around Alec Dromaine. That is all I know. Please believe me, I am terrified. If I knew anything else, I would tell you,” Evol pleaded.
Etah stepped out of the interrogation booth and signaled his coms.
“Legs this is Etah,” Etah said opening the Coms.
“Etah this is Legs go ahead,” Legorii responded.
“Evol’s not connected, but the Alec I mentioned earlier is the same Alec Dromaine you guys are looking for,” Etah informed Legorii.
“I figured as much. Hapan’s are ascetically identical to humans, and the names matching up was too much of a coincidence,” Legorii responded a second time.
“Alec Dromaine is a Hutt Councilor for the Besadii Clan and he is at the heart of all of this,” Etah said continuing.
“Understood. Wrap up there. Tie up loose ends and meet me and Celevon as soon as possible,” Legorii instructed.
“Copy that, Etah out,” the Mirialan responded.
Walking back to the interrogation booth, Etah found the door wide open and Evol gone, and the door to the safe had been opened from the inside out somehow.
02:00 Standard Time
Etah dashed into the Boozefighters Saloon to see two more broken stools and both of his Thrice Damned Swoopers unconscious. Evol was probably half way down the Ducts right now, most likely toward the Docks, so he could grab his ship and get of there.
“Oh well, I have bigger fish to fry” Etah said, knowing that this incident did nothing positive for his ongoing rivalry with Evol.
“Legs this is Etah,” Etah said opening the Coms again.
“Etah this is Legs go ahead,” Legorii responded again.
“He got away with some fancy footwork, none of my ties were revealed through, I used no obvious force power and he never saw my lightsaber,” Etah informed his team leader.
“Copy that Etah, move forward with prior instructions,” Legorii responded.
“Understood, Etah out,” the Mirialan said discontinuing the communications signal and moving into the Ducts.
Team Fucking Awesome: Legorii III
Besadii Entertainment District
02:02 Standard Time
As soon as the link ended, Legorii kicked a nearby stone with his foot. “This entire sector’s going to hell, and I have no idea what’s happening,” Legorii exclaimed, frustration heavy in his voice. Celevon continued coughing, covering his mouth with a sleeve as his lungs attempted to expel dust and smoke, even as it rushed right back in which each broken gasp. Glancing around, the Archpriest tried to peer through the discord in the streets, reaching out through the Force to any other Arconan.
There was nothing.
It was not as if his call went out unanswered. Though physically broken down, with people streaming through the rubble, the area was not a Force “dead zone”. No, what was afoot here was worse – far worse. There was an overpowering presence, pressuring the very air around the Galeran pair, blocking any attempt at communication through the Force. Something strange, very strange, was going on here.
Pushing aside his addled thoughts, Legorii’s mind returned to the urgent task at hand. Etah had finally hunted down Evol, and though he had somehow allowed the man to slip through his fingers again, they had gathered the needed information. Evol was just an accessary. The real target, the man pulling the strings, had to be this Alec Dromaine character. Legorii could tell that Celevon knew more about him than he was letting on, but the Entar did not push him.
“We need to get inside this wreckage, Celevon. The Hutts, or rather, their servants, will be here soon,” Legorii said thoughtfully. Bowing their heads, the two men picked their way through the rubble, past security droids who were attempting to control the crowds. Even now, well removed from the actual explosion, order had not yet been restored, and the building still smoldered. Rescue crews were still on scene – rumor had it, hundreds were trapped.
Leaning in toward Legorii, Celevon cracked a morbid grin. “Let them die, their bones will serve to fertilize the next crop of foolhardy aristocrats.” Nodding slightly in assent, the Krath pressed on. He cared nothing for the fates of those trapped in the casino, but he knew the Hutts would – each of those was a paying customer, with a credit figure attached to his name. They would be represented.
02:05 Standard Time
Etah checked his gear one last time and headed back into the Ducts. He was tired, but he knew the mission was far from over. His encounter with Evol had left him somewhat melancholy, and it was with forced effort that he quickened his pace as he made his way toward Jerem Plaza. Briefly, he wondered what the other Arconan teams were up to; surely, their missions could not compare to his in importance or difficulty.
Legorii and Celevon would not wait for him – that much he knew. Timing was critical, and the sooner they found and detained Dromaine, the sooner they could get their slice of the pie and head for the comfort of their quarters. Working with Legorii was exhausting, but rewarding. The Aedile was relentless, ruthless, and unforgiving. He was more driven, and more competitive, than any other Dark Jedi the d’Tana had crossed in all his years in the Brotherhood, and while it had gotten him into trouble at times, it had also gotten him to where he was in the pecking order.
The biker’s long strides carried him quickly through the shadowed tunnels, his mind wandering from topic to topic as he paced towards the prearranged rendezvous point. He wondered how Celevon and this Dromaine character knew one another, but he also knew it was not his business. Either they were going to kill the Hapan, or they were going to bring him to the Summit in chains.
Etah hoped it was the former.
Besadii Entertainment District
02:25 Standard Time
A trio of security droids raised their blasters mere centimeters from Legorii’s chest, their mechanical voices ringing out through the din of the shattered casino. “Sir, this area is off-limits. Please, turn back, or we will be forced to shoot.”
Raising an eyebrow, the Anzat cast a sidelong glance at his companion, who merely shrugged. In the time it took for their hearts to each beat twice, they turned the droids into scattered scraps of metal, adding them to the workload of the clean-up crews. Legorii ached to draw his lightsaber, but knew that doing so would call undue attention to them, and put the entire Clan’s operations in the city in jeopardy. Although he was foolhardy at times, he would never be so reckless.
The power in the casino had shut off, but emergency generators allowed the back-up lights to flicker hesitantly. Their hoods drawn up, the Galerans carefully navigated the outskirts of the bustling rescue operations, using the disorder to their advantage as they slipped past security forces and emergency respondents alike. Unperturbed by the dying men and women who surrounded them, Legorii and Celevon made their way towards the grand staircase, which was pockmarked by cracked stone, and covered with a film of dust and broken glass.
“It’s time we split up. Celevon, Alec Dromaine is your target. You know him, and you know him well. Find him. I have an idea, I know how we can force them out, but you have to trust me,” Legorii said.
Celevon smiled thinly, nodding. “Do what must be done. I’m going to search this place, but I don’t think it will matter. Dromaine will come to us, he’s too impatient to wait for us to find him. And I have no doubt that he knows we’re coming for him.”
Legorii’s crimson eyes scanned the scene before him. Without another word he turned, making his way back out into the night, intent on his new purpose.
Besadii Entertainment District
03:05 Standard Time
“Bolo Besadii Dior,” Legorii intoned solemnly with a curt bow. Flanked on either side by hulking Nikto guards, the Anzat appeared small – a rare feat for one so large. The Hutt that lounged before him seemed more obese and disgusting than his cousins, but if he was, it was only because he was more successful. Regarded as the most powerful of the Besadii Hutts in Ol’val, Legorii had heard whispers of him, but had never met the crime lord personally.
“Theo Thinhelm,” the Hutt bellowed, leaning in to get a better look at the Anzat before him. “Is it true, what they say? Are you as much of a fool as my contacts in Mal Company claim that you are?”
A flicker of a smile crossed the Entar’s features. Theo had been such a worthless lump of flesh, it was a surprise that he lived as long as he had. Perhaps more surprising still was that Bolo had granted an audience with one so openly ridiculed – relations between Mal Company and the Hutts were more cordial than they had supposed.
“My Lord Hutt, I will let you be the judge of that. I come to inquire about the recent, ahem, structural damage, in the Besadii Entertainment District.” The Arconan’s blood-red eyes carefully watched the Hutt and his closest retainers for any trace of a reaction. “The Corellians are, of course, concerned about their investments in the sector,” he continued.
Bolo slammed a meaty fist down with a boom, his bellowing voice commanding the attention of every man in the room. “Their investments are safe, as are ours. Our best men are there, and I am sure the offending party will be caught,” the Hutt responded. From his emotional outburst, Legorii knew the explosion had been as surprising to the crime lord as it had been for the rest of them.
Nodding, the Entar replied, “I understand, Lord Hutt. I have but one other request, before I take my leave of you – might I be able to be granted an audience with one Alec Dromaine? He is an old friend of mine.”
Bolo’s eyes narrowed. He appraised his guest once again, looking him from head to toe. “Guards! Take him.”
Surprised, the Arconan managed to draw his katana and slash through his two closest guards, each of whom tried to grab him, but found himself staring down the barrels of two dozen blaster rifles. Unable to use the Force in a crowded chamber, the Archpriest allowed his katana to drop, and offered his wrists to the shackles as he was led away.
Besadii Entertainment District
03:15 Standard Time
“Etah? Come in, Etah?”
Celevon’s voice cracked as he tried to contact the remaining member of Team Fucking Awesome. Crouched behind a cracked pillar in the lobby of the wrecked casino, the Obelisk watched corpse after corpse be hauled away from the casino.
“Celevon? This is Etah, you are go,” the hissing voice responded.
“Legorii’s gone silent, I don’t know where he is. We have no leads on Dromaine. Are you on your way?” Celevon grimaced as he looked around, painfully aware of how pathetic he sounded. He knew Etah would pick up on it as well.
“I’m in the Plaza, I’ll be there in ten. Etah out.”
Sighing, the Templar decided it was best to wait. He was reaching for another smoke from his pack when something near the entrance caught his eye. A group of mercenaries, mostly Niktos and Klatooinians, was making its way into the lobby, unmolested by the guards. Bingo. Reaching again for the comm, Celevon opened his mouth and –
“Don’t say a word, it’ll be your last,” came the gruff command. Celevon’s head began to turn, but before he could see who was behind him, he was hauled from his feet and slammed to the stone below. As his head bounced off the floor of the casino, the Galeran tried to reach for his lightsaber – only to remember that it was not there. He had left it in the penthouse.
Dazed, Celevon shook his head and tried to refocus. He felt a boot swiftly descend into his kidneys, and he doubled over in pain. Swearing through his teeth, the Obelisk looked up into the faces of his captors. Looming above him, chuckling with pleasure, was his sworn enemy: Alec Dromaine.
“Are you happy to see me, Celevon? Man, have I missed you.”
Another blow to the head, and darkness was all he knew.
Lightspeed Ice Cream
Incendus had backed away from the old man that he had so recently insulted on the return of Andrelious. His Master had questioned him as had earlier been rehearsed. Now, though, to avoid suspicion, Incendus would have to respond as Lerin Hitrok, not as himself.
“Why, Mr Blueen. I did not expect to see you here!” the young Sith replied, remembering his Master’s own cover alias.
“Is this man giving you trouble?” Inahj asked, disguising his voice with the Corellian accent he used as Jocjo Blueen. The old man, stared angrily, apparently unimpressed at Inahj’s rather small frame. He did, however, turn away to deal with a genuine customer who appeared very interested one of the dolls the man had for sale.
Incendus opened his mouth to reply, but was ushered into the far corner by his master.
Andrelious wasted no time in explaining, keeping his voice to little more than a whisper, “We have no time to talk, I have found Strategos. He has done exceedingly well – the FOTW idiots believed every word of his cover story.”
“What was that again?” Incendus asked; his master had not embellished the Hunter with Strategos’ role in the plan, for fear of betrayal.
“All will become clear to you soon, my Apprentice. Strat is a tricky bastard, it turns out that during his frequent absences he had already been infiltrating FOTW. They believe him to be quite a brilliant engineer. Right now he needs our help – he needs one more promotion and he’ll get the shutdown codes. That’s where we fit in.”
Incendus expression was that of a confused schoolchild who’d just been taught about the mechanics of hyperspace. “And how do we go about doing that? I thought Mr. Blueen was a legit businessman. It will look suss if he pulls out a lightsaber.”
“Strat, or rather a DIA agent that Socorra previously provided, has already arranged for the security cameras to display footage from three days ago on a 24 hour loop. All the FOTW HQ will see is a normal day’s trade for this..shop. It’s not like it’s busy, either. But it’s not this man we need. He’s an innocent trader – at least we think he is.”
Again Incendus seemed confused. “So what’s the master plan, Master?” he chuckled, though a frown from the elder Sith ceased any mirth.
“Just watch and learn, you’ll be a Knight soon if you watch me.” Inahj explained, before marching out of the shop, beckoning his apprentice to follow. After a quick stroll past several other small shops and stalls, the Battlelord entered a shop claiming to sell used datapads. The man inside looked up as Inahj entered, flanked by Incendus.
“Can I help you..gentle…” the shop owner began, but was cut off violently as Andrelious extracted his lightsaber from its hidden location about his person and plunged it deep into the torso of the surprised proprietor. As the man slumped to the ground, Inahj returned his lightsaber to its concealed clip, and turned to Incendus.
“This man has..or had..the position with FOTW that we need Strat to have. We must now allow for him to be discovered….” Inahj explained, before quickly striding towards the exit.
Inahj and Incendus would have to bide their time…
Tsainetomo walked in silence, his tripartite gaze taking in the wondrous sights associated with the feat of engineering that was Port Ol’val.
The system of tunnels had been bored over years and years of continuous work, and the various droids that abounded still maintained the coolant lines and bracing beams that criss-crossed the network, but aside from that, it looked to the Obelisk like any other thriving settlement. The varied storefronts - those that hadn’t been set upon by the newly released criminals, that is - shone brightly, their artificial lighting beckoning to passers-by with pockets laden with credits like flames to spend-heavy moths.
Marick strode with surety, leading both the Keibatsu and Timeros, his nose buried in his datapad as he quickly reviewed the reports from the teams setting about the messy business of completing their assignments. The Hapan scarcely tore his eyes away from the flood of coded messages save only to avoid a puddle of coolant here, a drunken sot there. Stepping over one such blissfully unaware citizen, he threw a question over his shoulder to Sai, knowing that as a newcomer, the Haruun-Kei may have a share of his own inquiries.
“What do you think?” Marick posed.
Sai whistled appreciatively. “Impressive...considering we’re surrounded by tons of solid rock threatening to crush us all at any moment.”
A derisive chuckle came from the rear. “I would’ve thought Naga Sadow had similar structures,” Timeros began, “and a Keibatsu made of sterner stuff.” The Elder’s suspicion had simmered within the Force, ever bubbling at the edges of Sai’s periphery. The Keibatsu, on the other hand, had remained a splinter within Timeros’ awareness, begging to be removed.
Sai cast a quick backwards glance at the Rollmaster. “Oh, Naga Sadow does have places like this...they just choose not to live in ‘em. ‘Different strokes’, and all that.” The new transfer used levity and irreverence to deflect the clumsy attempt at intelligence gathering. He supposed Timeros never really switched off when it came to that. “And my family is made of stern stuff; Iron, you might say.” His tone was still light, but the hint that, despite wishes to the contrary, his cousin still held the Throne was none too subtle.
“All things change,” Timeros growled, making sure to keep Marick in sight and Tsainetomo within reach.
Sai laughed. “I suppose they do...but not by your hand.” The tension between the two, taught as a rubber band, threatened to break under the strain of their conversation.
“Enough, both of you,” Marick warned, the annoyance creeping within his voice. The Proconsul’s mind was busy processing the deluge of information coming in from the rest of the Arconans, and in piecing the puzzle together, he was forced to take a less direct route to their destination: Bulkhead. He’d wanted to avoid any skirmishes for the time being; his business at the penal facility was too pressing.
Sai exhaled audibly, smiling as he tabled his impending ‘discussion’ with Timeros for another time. “But, when I said ‘impressive’, I meant how you were guiding us without looking up from that datapad.”
This time, it was Timeros to deflate a perceived attempt to gather intel. “He knows where he’s going, Keibatsu. So do I. That is all you need know.”
Marick agreed. “He’s right. As much as I support your being here, I do, after all, have to be careful. There are those with more influence than I who wish you gone, and should it come to that, not only will you be gone, but so will I for vouching for you, so the less you know, the better. This is a slippery slope for the both of us. I’m sure a man such as you can understand.”
“Sure, sure,” the Primarch said. “I’m just saying, it’s pretty uncanny. You, strolling without a care and him,” - Timeros let his annoyance flare within the Force - “stalking about, his face locked in perpetual-scowl. I just want to be sure we ain’t the ‘blind leading the blind’, is all.”
“We see more than you think,” Timeros warned. Sai ignored him.
“So, Marick, anyone else know where we’re going?” Between being in an unfamiliar place, and the constant verbal sparring between he and the Elder, the Korun was getting a bit impatient; after all, he hadn’t had a fight since he stepped under Arcona’s banner.
“No. Everyone else is busy with their roles, and we have ours. You’ll do well to remember that, Sai.” The Hapan’s own voice sharpened under his rising frustration. He’d anticipated detours, but this was getting ridiculous. It was taking too long to get to Bulkhead’s secret entrance.
“Oh. Well, if you expect to keep our destination uncommon knowledge, then I hope that our path doesn’t take us through them; they look eager to spill more than your wee secret.”
Both Marick and Timeros gave a start. The Summit members were too engrossed in either datapad or suspected spy to notice the small throng of roughly ten or so cutthroats and ruffians suddenly blocking their path down an otherwise abandoned shaft. It was something out of a holo-vid, each convict sporting a grimy, determined visage and a vicious looking bludgeon of one sort or another.
The next few moments unfolded with brutal inevitability.
Any thoughts of suspicion and unease were momentarily dispelled as the three Darksiders strode forward to meet the crush of men who, seeing their militaristic clothing and, once Marick had shrugged off his gray cloak’s hood, immediately became incensed at recognizing their jailor.
The distance between them swiftly evaporated as twin-Westars and an auto-repeater cleared their holsters with the creak of well-worn leather audible only to Force-enhanced ears. The trio of weapons only had time to bark and chatter briefly as Marick, Timeros and Sai rushed the crowd on Darkside-fueled legs; Timeros’ blasters found their homes at his hips just as swiftly as they’d been drawn as he and Marick, the three shot assaulters fallen and trampled underfoot, set upon the next men standing. Sai noted that both men fought as mirrors of one-another; where Timeros struck with surety, each knife-edged hand and snap-kicked foot hyper-extending joints and breaking bones with the practiced viciousness afforded only to a survivor of a battlefield.
Meanwhile, Marick, while only displaying an iota less conviction in his motions than his mentor, more than made up his relative inexperience with blinding speed. It seemed the Hapan’s fists found targets faster than the men could even register they’d been attacked. Noses splayed wickedly across bloodied faces and eyes blackened as Marick flowed throughout the melee.
Sai, on the other hand, was not as elaborate in his motions, but no less effective in his counter-assault. He’d flipped his auto-repeater so that he grasped the barrel, and the heavy stock of the slugthrower found hard forehead, brittle collarbone and soft temple equally. What was most disturbing, Timeros would recall as he later reflected on the short exchange, was the look on the Keibatsu’s bronzed face that could only be described as a mix between abject rage and unadulterated satisfaction, as if each convict here had slighted him personally and he was delighting in his revenge. Beating a man to death was a filthy, personal business, but Sai seemed to take it intimately, personally. Though it wasn’t common knowledge, Timeros had fought Sai before, and bested him; but what fought alongside them in the shaft was a far cry from the man he’d met before.
The Keibatsu would bear watching indeed.
Meanwhile, while Timeros was looking at Sai, a hidden thug was looking at Marick. The Hapan had just finished breaking another jaw and had his back turned to the encroaching threat. Timeros felt the eddies of murderous intent lap upon the shores of his subconscious; dropping the man he engaged, he whirled to face the man who rose from the shadows, the rusted shiv he brandished glinting in the artificial lighting of the tunnel.
The Elder’s hand moved of its own accord, moving to his right hip as it hungrily sought the hilt of one of his Westar’s. His fingers closed around the cool metal of its grip, but it was halted by a blur of motion.
Sai seemed to melt into Timeros’ vision as the Keibatsu rushed Marick’s would-be assassin. The Primarch’s arms wrapped snugly around the escapee’s head and neck, and the clattering of the shiv against the stone floor, other than the survivor’s heavy breathing, was punctuated by the sharp crack of vertebrae.
Marick turned at the sound, seeing Sai brush his hands as if he had simply moved a cord of firewood from the pile to the hearth.
The Korun’s eyes flashed as he spoke. “Well, that was an adventure,” he pronounced with excited relief as he cast his gaze about, admiring the trio’s handiwork. “Now, I believe you two were leading me somewhere..?”
Lightspeed Ice Cream
Incendus stopped and looked at the corpse of the man who was just slain by his master, impressed. Inahj, who was already leaving for the exit, beckoned to Incendus, who followed after the Battlelord quietly .
"Follow me," said Andrel. "And be fast and quiet, we don't want to get discovered...yet. Let's go."
They both walked at a fast but quiet pace, until they reached the exit. They then proceeded to the alleyway, where they would wait.
"I meant to ask you, what was all that with the old man in the store?" asked his master, obviously trying to strike a conversation to pass the time.
"He told me that I should cut my hair if I wanted a girl," replied Incendus. "So I told him that I don't think a woman would want a man that they would have to feed, and that he should piss off."
"Fair enough," responded Andrel. "So how do you feel about being promoted to Hunter?"
It took a moment for Incendus to respond. "Truthfully, in the haste of our actions, I forgot about that until now. I don't really mind it, I'll rejoice when I'm knighted."
Andrel nodded. "Just stick with me and you'll achieve that soon."
Silence lingered for about five minutes, until Incendus finally decided to say something. "These people must suck at business, they still haven't found the-" He was cut off by an alarm coming from inside the building. "Never mind."
His master hastily shifted across the alleyway. He then stopped and looked at Incendus. "What are you doing? Follow me!"
The two broke into a run, until they came up on the exit. Incendus was motioned to stop at a corner by his master. "Hold on. We've got to be careful about this."
"About what?" Incendus received a disapproving look from his master.
"Entering. We don't want to be seen."
"Ah." a few moments passed before anything else was said. "You know that there was a back door, right master?"
"No. How do you know?"
"I pop in through the back to steal some ice cream every once in a while." He once again got a glare from his master. "What? It wasn't for me. It was for some local girls who seemed to fancy me."
The two darted to the back, where they stopped to scan the area.
"Alright, we don't know who might be in here, so be careful, and have your blaster ready when I open the door," said Andrel.
"Yes, master," replied Incendus.
Andrel slowly opened the door. After checking to make sure that the coast was clear, the two popped inside. "Alright, we've got to find Strat. We've to wait on him to get promoted. We'll sneak around through the ventilation. You'll go that way," he said, pointing to the right, "And I'll go this way. I'll page you if I find him, and you'll do the same if you find him. Then, one of us will track the other on the blitmap. Now let's go."
Lightspeed Ice Cream
Incendus felt cramped in the small amount of space provided. He had crawled for several minutes, before finally arriving at the end of the vents. "Really?" he muttered to himself. "This is the end of the vent? Damn, I can't turn around."
He looked down at two FOTW workers, a Trandoshan and a Rodian. "Damn," he said once again.
Incendus ejected his armory saber, and pounced on the Trandoshan with it, while eliminating the Rodian with his blaster. After searching the two corpses, he found a key, which he used to lock the doors before exiting the room.
After stealthily sneaking through several rooms, Incendus heard a beep on his pager.
Lightspeed Ice Cream
Incendus took to the vents again, although he regretted it. He knew that if he popped in the room that his master was in unexpectedly, he would probably get killed.
Incendus thudded to the ground, where he faced his master and a surprise Strategos.
"What took you so long?" his master inquired.
"I had been looking for Strat for a while, and it eventually led me to the ground. I didn't wish to get killed by either of you, so I took to the vents."
"That makes sense. Anyway, we have the codes."
"It all went according to plan," said Strategos. "After the guy you killed was found, I was offered the position that he had for my excellent work. So, shall we proceed?"
Lightspeed Ice Cream
Andrelious smiled in Strategos’ general direction. “You’ve assisted us greatly, Adept Thanatos.”
“Thank you. Now, to assist you and Incendus further, I have had my DIA contacts create Jocjo Blueen and Lerin Hitrok as potential investors in Fly On The Wall. They will believe you’re here to examine one of their…newly acquired assets,” the Krath explained, bringing the relevant data up onto a datapad.
“I hate all this sneaking around…” Incendus muttered.
Inahj frowned at his apprentice. “Be quiet. You will learn more from this than you will from any pitched battle.”
Incendus nodded, but still seemed annoyed. His Master had recently told him the story when Inahj had taken on a pirate Corvette by himself. The young Sith now wanted such action himself, not all of the ‘cloak-and-vibroblade’ sort of missions that had been required of late.
Meanwhile, another alarm sounded. Strategos peered at his datapad; the two aliens that had been ambushed by Incendus had been discovered. Orders came through to beef up the security, as three FOTW employees had died in quick succession, and, worryingly for the organisation, they appeared to have no footage of the events.
Andrelious was unbothered by the news. “So you ARE paying attention to what I teach you. Excellent. Now, however, we must move quickly. Strat, get those shutdown codes in and come with us.”
The Krath input the codes into his datapad, then grinned smugly as its screen flashed red, indicating that a majority of the turrets had been shut down. There would still be a large amount of tricky enemies, but the amount of dangerous technology was greatly reduced. The shield batteries were unlikely to be able to withstand much from a lightsaber, whilst rockets could be easily diverted with the Force.
With their ‘Plan A’ ruined due to the heightened state of alert, Inahj knew that things would now be tricky. Before, the Battlelord had hoped to silently eliminate enough of the enemy’s number to force them to abandon the area. Now, the three Dark Jedi would need to virtually besiege some areas, whilst still taking care not to give themselves away. Even one hint that the trio were Arconans or indeed any sort of Force user would change the political situation on Ol’val immeasurably.
“Well, Mr Blueen, shall we see if you want to invest?” Strategos asked, as the three Gatekeepers, who had named themselves Team ‘Home Affair’, prepared to re-take Safe House Jackson…
TEAM EXPENDABLES [Sarin, Raken, Valhavoc]
Raken, Post 3
Soldier. Civilian. Arconae. Qel-Droman. Raken and his men killed them all. Street to street. House to house.
...The Force consumes that which cannot be...
While Raken's hands rent flesh from bone his mind worked nearly as efficiently considering his new partnership with Black/Pravus/Sarin. The trust between himself and Darth Sarin had been unshakable. Yet who or what Pravus really was remained a mystery. Pravus was Sarin in some way. But despite their common goal, the destruction of the Brotherhood, this new bond would only be cemented with time and blood...
The blood of the steward.
“Do you feel him?” Harque Nicanor asked.
“Yes, Matriarch,” the Spellweaver replied. “A fire this way comes.”
“Kill his Force-deaf. I would taste the flesh of He Who Resists.”
Raken's hand-picked men moved around him in a diamond formation. They cut down anything that moved per the orders of Pravus as they escorted Red Tower from one slaughter to the next. When the big Elomin stopped suddenly, they read his body language instantly and fanned out to cover.
Raken did not need the whispers to tell him she was here. He could taste the scent between her legs. She was in heat and had finally called on him. She had waited too long. Those long ago years when she had owned him as a slave he was but a boy.
Now he was a monster.
Nicanor's Spellweaver underling struck first. Her magic tasted like bitter flower in Raken's mouth. Materializing behind his men the Nightsister cackled madly, lightning dripping from her hooked fingers.
“Put 'er down!”
Several men fell prey to the dancing arcs of light. Two more were laid low by the poison lance the Spellweaver kept in constant motion. Raken wheeled to face the cackling whore but his attention was diverted.
“Husband,” Nicanor said. The word dripped from her mouth like a string of saliva.
Raken turned back to face her. She was tall, tattooed, older, but still attractive. A sprinter's body. Her legs were powerful allowing her to carry her impressive build with poise. Her robes absent breeze danced around her form revealing flesh here and there, distracting, enticing.
His chest rose and fell like shifting tectonic plates. Nostrils flared. A mighty heart pushed fuel through his veins priming muscle until skin threatened to split under the pressure. In the invisible world where only those who knew the Force could see, he was on fire. A white-hot star that burned all who came into its orbit.
“It's time for you to come home,” she said.
Harque Nicanor stalked her prey.
He was beautiful in a cruel way. His face was a record of brutal experience. His body heavily sculpted from a lifetime of surviving what should have killed him. There was nothing left of the sapling she had known.
Powerful he had become. He betrayed no thought, no emotion. There was nothing but the silent unease of being near something ominous. Swelling seas. An approaching storm.
“You are mine,” she said without parting the soft petals of her lips. “Come to me.”
Raken did not move.
Around him the cacophony of battle vibrated the air like something alive. His men screamed and died. The Spellweaver cackled madly. The Adept focused energy and thought on his soldiers. He watched Nicanor but did not see her as she smiled while his men bled. His mind was with his soldiers, he saw through their eyes. Moved with their movements. He enhanced their reactions. Quickened their blood. Guided their hands.
“HAAAAAAGHERRRR—” The Spellweaver's scream was cut off abruptly. A bolt of searing energy fired from one of his operator's rifles found the base of her skull.
She would beat him into submission, kill his Force-deaf, then command him to plant his seed deep inside her from where a new and powerful Clan would spring.
Lightning struck at him from every angle. Every surface arced deadly energy meant to sap his strength and return him to chains. Raken's blade erupted violently searing the air, deflecting lightning as he advanced. What his blade did not parry he crushed in the palm of his free hand intent on showing the aging whore that he was the master now and she the slave.
Every step she took was a trick. Every twist a seduction. She lured and danced, spat lightning and screamed like a madwoman. Raken fell for none of it. Advancing steadily he continued to absorb lighting supremely confident that his reserves far outstripped hers. She ceased the storm to slash at him with ancient stone daggers aglow with runes and magic as arcane as her notion that he was her property.
What was left of his men formed a loose perimeter around the duel knowing better than to interfere. This was personal and they could feel it as deeply as if they could touch the Force. A credit to their discipline, they faced outward and provided security despite the titanic battle taking place in their midst.
Nicanor whirled and screamed. He was powerful. She moistened at the thought of the children he would sire for her. She would return to Dathomir a mother of gods. If she lived. Despite her exhausting efforts she could not subdue or trick the beast. Desperate, tiring, she allowed the silk wrappings she wore to fall from her shoulders exposing pale breasts and large dark nipples that would have taken the breath from any man.
But Raken was no man.
Closing the gap between them his clawed hand found her throat and clamped down. As he did so she buried one of the stone blades in his shoulder to the hilt. There was no pain for him such was the pleasure of his iron claws inexorably closing her airway and dimming the light in her eyes. Twisting her violently, Raken faced her away from him, maintaining withering pressure on her neck and driving her to a nearby railing.
He ruthlessly bent her over the rail pressing firmly against her backside and pressed his lips to her ear.
“Is this...what...you want?” he asked in his raspy broken tongue.
She screamed. Her body arced wildly unguided lightning that cast the entire compartment aglow as he crushed down on the back of her neck. Raken brought the shaft of his lightsaber around and entered her slowly from the rear.
Blood and sound poured from her mouth as inch after inch of searing energy destroyed her from the inside out. Raken buried it deep then deactivated the blade before it severed her spine. The lightning ceased. The screams ended. He let her body double-over on the railing where it lay still.
“Still...mine...,” Nicanor gurgled through strings of blood.
Raken put away his blade and stretched out his right hand. An operator broke-off from the perimeter and un-slung a large and weathered hammer from his back placing it in his general's open palm.
Black claws curled around the thick helve squeezing the aged rancor hide until it creaked under the pressure. In one fell swing Raken brought the hammer down on Nicanor's head with the strength granted him from a lifetime of suffering.
Raken watched the twitching of her body for a long time.
An operator called out to the others:
“Prepare for exfil.”
TEAM EXPENDABLES [Sarin, Raken, Valhavoc]
Valhavoc, Post 3
Besadii Entertainment District
0400 Standard Time
The door to Valhavoc's room suddenly burst open as two individuals in grey jumpsuits charged into the room. Obviously escaped prisoners looking for easy marks to help facilitate their escape from Port Ol'val. Across the room Warder fired two shots from her rifle into the first man's chest, dropping him to the floor in a lifeless heap. Valhavoc stepped out from behind the door and fired one shot into the back of the second prisoner's head.
As Val was about to close the door the Force warned him of a third prisoner about to attack. Dropping his pistol Val spun about to engage the final ex-detainee in hand to hand combat. A quick jab broke the man's nose, but only slowed his advance slightly.
The man responded with a wild punch, which Valhavoc easily dodged, then used the prisoner's momentum to turn him off balance and throw him to the ground. Pouncing onto the sprawling convict Val placed the man into a choke, cutting off the bloodflow to his brain and causing him to black out. Dropping the unconscious man to the ground Valhavoc turned and closed the door.
"Kill him" he said to Warder, the instruction was followed by the sharp snap of a blaster rifle firing one time. As the door slid shut Val walked back across the room and began to pack up his equipment. "We're moving. This position is compromised, Besadii will be here any minute. "
"There's a lift that will take us directly to the street level. We can find another position on the opposite side of the casino, maybe we'll be able to spot him from there," Warder responded. Valhavoc nodded as he picked up his rifle and put it back into its case.
Besadii Entertainment District
0430 Standard Time
The pair moved through the alleys of the entertainment district. Every so often they would catch a glimpse of the debris from the casino and numerous rescue crews at work trying to free the victims still trapped inside the collapsed building.
Suddenly through the dust and smoke Valhavoc spotted a familiar silhouette only 200 meters away. He paused and watched the robed humanoid lift a victim from the rubble. There could be no mistaking the Zabrak Jedi, it was Cyll. If Warder hadn't spotted him earlier, she could now tell by her companions reaction that they had just found their target.
"I need to find a spot to setup, we can't lose him," he told Warder, never taking his eyes off of the Jedi.
"I'll keep eyes on, you go find somewhere to take a shot," the Umbaran responded.
As Valhavoc departed down a side-street Warder moved to the edge of the rubble, playing the role of a concerned samaritan. As she was feigning interest in helping the victims of the explosion she quickly surveyed the area. All throughout the rubble were Besadii rescue teams, droids attempting to free trapped casino patrons, and merely fifty meters away stood Garvin Cyll.
The Jedi was splitting his time aiding wounded beings, attempting to clear additional rubble, and trying to provide some form of order to the rescue efforts. His brown robes were covered in a thin layer of dust, some spots had been blemished with the blood of the fallen as he cared for them. A Nikto with her arm in a sling frantically came running over the crest of some of the rubble and called to Cyll, "Jedi! They found a group trapped in the rubble, but the droids can't clear it. We need your help!"
Never one to miss an opportunity to aid the galaxy's citizens the Zabrak rushed over to the top of some of the rubble and looked down to where a significant portion of the wall to the casino had fell. Salvage droids were moving about the edges, but any attempts to adjust the rubble risked it cracking and dropping onto the individuals underneath. Cyll reached out his arms and began focusing the Force to lift the rubble.
From a nearby rooftop Valhavoc scanned the area through the scope on his rifle. "Warder, I'm in position. Where did he move to?"
"About eighty meters north of me" she responded.
"Roger, I see him now. Move to rally point Foxtrot. I'll be on my way shortly. Cole out." Valhavoc watched as Warder began moving away from the destroyed casino, then activated his rangefinder to begin the calculations for his shot.
Target Distance 847 meters...
The first time he had seen the Zabrak's face was eight years ago. In the midst of an unsanctioned and brutal interrogation of a person linked to a bombing which had killed Valhavoc's father, the Jedi stumbled upon them. The young Gallactic Alliance Intelligence Agent tried to explain his actions, but Cyll had no desire to listen. Val had broken multiple regulations, and Garvin Cyll insisted on turning him over to his Chain of Command.
Wind speed 2 kph...
The court martial was swift, he was stripped of all rank and achievements then dishonorably discharged. He had been spared from additional punishment after the individual he had softened was more than willing to provide additional information to his subsequent interrogators. The memory of the court's security ripping rank and devices off his uniform as he stood at the sentencing still infuriated the Dark Jedi.
Elevation -57 meters...
Valhavoc sighted onto the center of the Zabrak Jedi's back. He slowed his breathing as his finger began to squeeze the trigger back ever so slightly. It felt like an eternity between each beat of his heart.
Make him suffer
The words had suddenly burst into Valhavoc's mind, he couldn't tell if it was Pravus instructing him through the Force or a desire deep within him bubbling to the surface. What he did know was that the thought of Cyll broken and tormented brought him immense pleasure. Adjusting his aim to Cyll's right shoulder he squeezed the trigger back.
A split second before the round struck Cyll the Force whispered to him and his head spun to face the building Val was perched on top of. Suddenly a voice Cyll had not heard in years manifest in his mind with a single word, "Choose." The Jedi knew if he turned to block the round with his lightsaber he would not be able to hold the rubble and it would crush the people under it. He focused on the debris and prepared for the impact.
Valhavoc watched the debris shudder as the round ripped through the Jedi's shoulder. The Zabrak's arm separated from his body, landing meters away from him. To his credit, Cyll managed to hold the rubble despite the trauma to his body. Again Valhavoc reached out with the Force to taunt his old adversary, "How noble..."
The Arconan then focused the anger which he had fostered for years since Cyll's decision to turn him in, using all his strength he commanded the Force to press down on the rubble. Inside the debris he could feel the lives of those who were trapped ending, their screams and terror fueled his crushing assault. Nearly exhausted from his efforts Val looked back towards Cyll's broken body, "... but ultimately, a pointless sacrifice."
Turning away Valhavoc keyed a message to Raken and Pravus, "Table's gone cold at this casino. Turning in my tokens. Let me know if you find a new venue."
He then began to make his way to the rally point where Warder and the others were waiting. As Valhavoc blended back into the crowd on the streets of Port Ol'val he heard Cyll's voice echo in his mind.
This isn't over Val.
A wicked smile cross the young Dark Jedi's face as he whispered to himself, "No, this is the only the beginning".
Lightspeed Ice Cream
Incendus grinned confidently as the team prepared to retake the safehouse. The trio left the room, silently but quickly, trying not to give themselves away.
Incendus continued to follow the two veterans, yearning for the action that the two Arconans in front of him had experienced. And he came face to face with it.
He was led into a room by the two dark Jedi, which seemed to be empty. Once they had entered, a Torgruta fell immediately from a staircase behind Incendus. As a reflex, Incendus turned around and stabbed the alien with his vibroblade, then kicking the alien back. Immediately, more enemies fell to the floor, engaging the 3 Jedi in a full on assault. Incendus finished off three, with the help of Strategos who had already taken out five. Andrelious took down the remaining enemies, and the trio kept on moving.
There was a trail of bodies left behind the jedi, some killed discreetly, others brutally eliminated. Eventually, the three were led to a door.
"Yep," said Strategos, viewing his datapad. "This is the room with the rockets and the shield battery."
"Alright then," grunted Andrel. "Incendus, get ready. I'll distract the missile stations for long enough that you and Strat can destroy the shield battery."
"Yes master," replied the apprentice.
"Under our current circumstances, I'd say that we are quite likely to be ambushed, and can expect maximum resistance," stated Strategos, his fingers' running across his datapad. "I've arranged for a defense turret in this room to be activated immediately when I press this button," said the Adept, pointing towards a glowing activator on his datapad. This is their main weapon, they'll want it guarded. I suspect that the noise coming from this room will attract the rest of the idiots stationed in the safehouse. Once Andrel destroys the missile turret, we'll leave them a little surprise."
Incendus pondered upon the difficulty of this mission. It all came to him at once. He was slightly confused, and a deep nervousness continued to expand within him. Nonetheless, team Home Affair trudged forward, prepared to return the safehouse to Arconan control.
Lightspeed Ice Cream
The first few seconds of the assault were a blur. A barrage of lasers soared through the air, some of them barely missing Incendus. The Hunter, and Strategos darted towards the shield battery, eliminating any flanks that tried to suppress them. The two came up on a bounty hunter clad in Mandalorian armor.
"Watch out, Cend!' bellowed the Adept, fending off two droids. "He'll be tough, all the guys with Mandalorian armor are tough for some reason!"
Incendus eagerly engaged the blaster wielding assassin, intent to kill him. He was met by a kick to the face, knocking him back across the room, while the hunter soared to him. Immediately, Strategos darted to Incendus' side, protecting him from the fire of the Mandalorian.
"Get up! I told you he'd be tough!"
Incendus got up, but not before noticing his master gracefully defending himself from droid after droid. He was given the willpower to fight again.
Immediately, the two Jedi were surrounded by a stream of fire projecting from the Bounty Hunter's arm.
"Incendus! Get to the turret! I'll hold him until then!" shouted Strategos. Incendus did his best to jump over the fire, nearly burning his foot. The bounty hunter tried to follow him, but was pulled back by the Dark Adept Strategos.
Incendus took down two droids before getting to the turret. It activated with the press of a button, allowing Incendus to aim at the Mandalorian. Before Incendus could pull the trigger, a droid grabbed him from behind, attempting to choke him. He relieved himself of the deadly prosthetic covering his throat before finally regaining his footing. He shot the bounty hunter, who fell to the ground, dead.
Operation Tempest Bravo – Phase 2
The Victory Class II Star Destroyer Aggressor accelerated through the blue tunnel of hyperspace on her final Imperial flight. “Three minutes to sublight reversion,” the navigations officer announced. “Acknowledged, Lieutenant,” the ship’s commander said, his face hidden behind the familiar helmet the crew had grown to accept. The Aggressor had served as a special operations platform for many years and unusual commanders were the norm, not the exception.
“Fires, load preplanned firing solutions one through five for starboard turbolasers,” the commander ordered. The hand selected crew responded with efficiency to the commander’s orders, their standard operating procedures had become second nature over the past three years of operations. Intelligence provided the targets, fires provided the firing solutions, and command provided the authorization. It was a simple and effective system used in lieu of a standard Star Destroyer’s targeting bureaucracy. The Aggressor did not check and double check orders through a series of midgrade officers. The Aggressor simply lived up to its name.
“Sir, realspace in five, four, three, two, one, mark.”
The Aggressor’s reversion to the stars was visually imperceptible. Her stealth armor provided a black matte coating that blended with the darkness of space and confused the most sophisticated of sensor arrays. She was a dagger designed for clandestine operations, but today the Aggressor role was something greater than the hit and runs she was so accustomed to.
“Imagery, magnify our primary target on the planet’s surface.”
The Bridge’s main targeting displays distorted as the onboard imagery systems calibrated interference from Ashtar’s atmosphere before focusing on a palatial estate on the planet’s surface. Designed as a replica of the inhabitant’s family estate, it was a waste of Imperial resources and symbol of trust gone wrong. “Sir, we have the High Inquisitor’s estate confirmed. Firing solutions one through five are hot,” fires announced.
The commander pivoted his command chair to the vastness of space out the port of his beloved vessel. This would be a day long remembered in the Empire and befitting the occasion, grandeur was called for.
“Commutations, status on the Battlegroup,” the commander asked. “Sir, they are coming out now,” communications announced.
In perfect timing, the Aggressor Strike Force reverted to real time. The dagger shaped wedges of the Imperial II class-Star Destroyers Predator, Grey Wolf, Intrepid, and Vanguard winked into existence. The aesthetics of the ships were designed to give a feeling of hostility, even to those they served with.
“Sir, Setii Two’s Platform Golgotha is hailing the Battlegroup. They are not tracking our arrival and would like to speak to the BGCOM.”
For a single moment the bridge of the Aggressor remained silent. Unknown within the Imperial Remnant, the Aggressor Strike Force Battlegroup and in particular the Special Operators on the VDS II Aggressor had one very unique feature. The Chain of Command consisted of a set of individuals who all shared a common bond. They were all members of House Oriens Obscurum.
“All craft, we are executing Tempest Bravo. Open fire.”
“Communications, open a channel to Lord Cotelin. Inform him we are coming home.”
Unknown Safe House
Much had changed in the seventeen years since operation Tempest Bravo. Oriens Obscurum was gone, the Imperial Remnant was a shell of her former glory, and the Dark Brotherhood had transitioned into something different. Aggression and the desire to conquer had been replaced with complacency and a willingness to accept mediocrity. There was no glory in being the best of the mediocre Clans and Houses remaining the Dark Brotherhood. Arcona would be forced to become something greater or she would eventually wither and die like the rest of the Brotherhood.
It was on this asteroid that Darth Pravus and his accomplices sought to test the mettle of their new comrades. For whatever reason, the Clan had allowed Hutts and pirates to use their asteroid for nonsensical business purposes. Pravus sought to cleanse that mistake in the fires of destruction.
Why hide your operations behind a fake business on Port Ol’val when the asteroid, by its very nature, was a hidden shadowport. Idiots.
Raken’s air assault on the tunnels had completely shut down incoming space craft, Valhavoc’s demolition team annihilated a large portion of the Besadii Entertainment District, and an extraction team had just released an infiltrator from Bulwark’s jaws. Port Ol’val was a smoking ruin and fortunately the other Dark Jedi of Arcona were fanning the flames of destruction.
Pravus turned his attention from his thoughts to the swirling crimson Sullustan wine within his glass. The vintage had a special place in Sith lore and marked the transition from one era to the next. Looking up from the glass, Pravus spoke to the blue holographic projection before him.
“Teroch, we have much to discuss.”
Event Horizon *
*[Mistakenly Labeled as Naruba Investments In the Original Post]
To many, the Event Horizon building looked just like any other building on Port Ol’val. Like its sister building in Estele City, the Investigation expansion complex was colored in the same drab tone of the Port Ol’val mining district. Likewise, a set of mechanical sliding doors gave way to an atypical lobby with an organic secretary and a few droids scattered about to miscellaneous tasks. Even the the lone sign outside was just as subtle and easy to miss, discouraging the casual customer.
It stood to reason, then, that no one took notice of the new occupants that had taken control of the establishment. Clad in full body armor and automatic weapons, the mercenary soldiers of the Triumvirate were well trained- consisting of former military commando’s, ex-convicts and bounty hunters that had grown tired of the hunt in favor of a more consistent paycheck.
They had each been briefed about the possibility of Dark Jedi attempting to retake the building. While some had encountered Jedi of both the darkness and light, others had never so much as seen one. Ol’val was a haven for the Triumvirate soldiers, and many considered it their home. For some, the thought of Dark Jedi pulling strings like puppetmasters and taking advantage of the ecosystem they worked hard to build and protect boiled their blood. For some, the notions were chalked up to superstition as if they were simple wives’ tales like ghosts in the night.
Derrick idly thumbed the safety of his rifle, a habit he had developed during his time in service. He paced back and forth across the lobby, his dark green eyes darting to the corners of the building, as if expecting the shadows themselves to lurch out. Derrick had never come across a Jedi. He had heard stories and seen the holovids, certainly, but the thought of people being able to call on a mystical energy sent shivers down his spine. All fiction has roots in reality, so who was he to doubt the existence of these “Jedi”. Would his rifle even be of any use? Would they aim to kill, or leave one alive to tell the tale? Thoughts raced through Derrick’s mind as his finger idly thumbed the safety.
The almost cliched sound of an electric generator failing filled the room just then, causing each of the soldiers to start at attention. The lights flickered once, twice and then promptly died. Everything went dark, and Derrick froze as terror crept up from his gut and grabbed hold of his mind.
The others must have felt it too, an air of terror settling over them that reached beyond the mere darkness, as if some demonic aura had suddenly taken control of their conscious.
“How did you know where the generator was?” Timeros asked quietly in a voice just above a whisper.
“...who do you think designed the building?” Marick replied as he leapt down from the rooftop and landed light on his toes with a slight nudge from the Force.
“Ah, touche. Shall we, then?”
“After you,” Marick gestured casually with one hand.
The Dark Adept nodded and took a step forward and extended his hand out in front of him. In response to the simple gesture, the mechanical doors of Event Horizon began to groan as it’s durasteel panels started to buckle and dent. The groaning stopped for a pair of heartbeats, but cried out as the durasteel caved in and flew wildly from its hinges.
Moonlight poured in from the artificial night of the shadowport, offering little reprise other than to reveal the three Arconan’s standing in silhouette.
“Open fire!” a voice cried out, as the sound of rifles clicking into firing position filled the room. There were a dozen in total, with an additional trio on the second floor balcony.
Blaster fire erupted from a few of the soldiers. The others hesitated, frozen in place by the mere presence of Timeros’ terrifying aura that he so naturally emanated.
Three fluorescent blades hissed to life in response, batting aside what few crimson dashes came remotely close to hitting their targets. Before a second volley could fired, the figures burst into motion, each going in a different direction.
Timeros darted forward and made a casual, dismissive gesture with his free hand, sending the closest soldier’s rifle hurtling out of his grip. His partner took aim at the Adept but when he went to depress the trigger, he found the rifle to be unresponsive. Energy not of the Force cannot be created nor destroyed. This basic principle was evident as Timeros syphoned the weapons lifeforce and redirected it into it’s handlers face. The soldier let out a yelp as intense wave of heat washed over his face and singed against his skin. Timero’s saber took care of the rest.
Off to the Krath’s right, Tsainetomo moved methodically through his first target with the poise of a seasoned warrior. His lightsaber burning with the glow of Tatooine's dual-suns, the Keibatsu’s blade arm came down and then across with frightening directness and surety, dissecting the unfortunate soldier in his path into four separate pieces. The second tried desperately to lash out with the butt of his rifle, but Sai was simply too quick. Not as fast as his two Arconae companions, per se, but there was an smooth, almost graceful efficiency in which the Primarch moved. Without pause or hesitation, Tsainetomo spun on his heel to avoid the melee. His trail leg came around and arched up and into his attackers jaw, the collision knocking the soldier cleanly off his feet with a nasty, resonate crack. There was no emotion on the Kei’s face as he continued to carve his way forward, showing neither pleasure nor distaste at the work his body executed as naturally as one combed their hair.
On the far side of the room, Marick Arconae’s cyan lightsaber was nothing more than a blur in the permeating blackness. With the Force flowing freely through his body, the Ataru master was never in one spot for more than a heartbeat, dashing and darting away from a volley of blaster bolts from the top balcony. His blade cut left then right in a set of deft flourishes, screams of agony filling the room as a pair of heads cleanly severed from the necks of their bodies rolled into the darkness. Without skipping a beat, the Hapan flew through the air with impossible grace, landing nimbly on the balcony.
It felt odd to be using his saber while on Port Ol’val, something he had spent the last two years of his life avoiding. It mattered not though - for none of the Triumvirate soldiers would be leaving Event Horizons alive.
The dead told no tales.
Shinn Ragga was fixated on the monitors, watching with mounting frustration at the events unfolding before him. His benefactor had promised - promised - that Port Ol’val would fall without any difficulty, and that he himself would be protected.
The reports flooding in that the Arconans were decimating the escapees and the images of the swiftly approaching trio of Dark Jedi - including the accursed Kei - seemed to make those assurances as empty as the dead Twi’lek in the corner’s eyes.
His face-tentacles quivered and trembled with rage, and he fought to still himself. The Quarren was, after all, still operating under Arcona’s authority, and he would act as such. His hand hovered over a keyboard and he quickly typed out a command. He registered a barely imperceptible shuddering all around him, and that, coupled with a seemingly innocuous green L.E.D. on his display lighting up told him all he needed to know.
“If this doesn’t slow them down...” Shinn’s watery voice trailed off, gurgling in his throat as he let the thought go unfinished.
It would slow them down.
It would have to.
Timeros and Sai extinguished their blades as Marick, having dispatched the trio on the balcony, leapt down and landed softly, the Force cushioning him. They wordlessly exchanged glances and began to move forward when Marick stopped them, his voice filled with a hushed urgency.
“Wait...Do you hear that?” The Hapan squinted as he strained to confirm his suspicion. Like most Hapan, his vision at night was poor without guidance from the Force.
“No,” his mentor replied. “You’re just jumpy. Fights will do tha...” The Adept cut his explanation short as he, too, heard something in the not-so-far-off distance. “Yes, I do.” Timeros’ blade once again sprang from his clenched fist, joining Marick’s own. Both men crouched slightly, looking into the gloom.
Tsainetomo stood at the rear of their formation, a puzzled look upon his face. “What are we looking for?” His own whisper had a mocking tone; he couldn’t help it, as they easily faced down everything that had crossed their path to this point.
The Krath’s eyes peered intently into the gloom as he spoke. “Sai, you ever hear of an ‘11-17’?”
The Haruun-Kei grunted his assent as his mind called up images of the Class-5 labor droid. Typically used for mining, these automatons were meter-high, treaded machines equipped with plasma drills, blow-torches and the like.
But what lumbered from the gloom was not a fresh-off-of-the-assembly-line model. The droid was clearly derived from the 11-17 series in that it did have a plasma drill, but the treads were replaced by articulated durasteel legs, four on each side, and it was decidedly larger than the models Sai had seen before. About five times larger.
“That’s what you use to maintain these tunnels?!" Even the Keibatsu had to pause at the sheer girth of the thing.
“Uh, yeah,” Marick answered, distraction creeping into his youthful voice as he concentrated on the droid making a beeline for them. He sensed Sai still staring incredulously at him.
The Hapan shrugged almost apologetically. “Some of these tunnels are pretty big.”
Timeros interrupted. “Probably expensive too. Oh well,” He sprinted forward, his ‘saber growling hungrily as he approached the droid’s left flank. Marick pinched the bridge of his nose momentarily between his fingers and sighed. He was a step behind his mentor then, causing the droid’s sensor suite to flash wildly as it struggled to track both targets. It decided on Timeros; probably because the Adept had drug his blade through the four left legs, leaving the droid to lurch violently and keel to port. The stumps of its legs glowed white-hot, then orange-red as they waved feebly, spraying small gobbets of molten metal about.
Marick had once again leapt skyward upon reaching the droid’s front, the Force bearing him aloft as a leaf upon the wind. The droid’s blowtorch arm located on its right flank craned upwards, struggling to track the arcing Proconsul. As it was, the nozzle loosed a gout of flame at Marick, who erected a barrier of the Dark Side around him so that the brief inferno would pass harmlessly around him. A cyanic column commanded by the Hapan carved a wicked parabola, and the torch-arm was severed, the super-heated liquid that fueled it exploding spectacularly.
Immobile though it was, the droid was far from neutralized. Marick’s leap had taken him clear over the massive machine, and he landed beside Timeros at its rear. As the Krath turned to face the droid, so too did its massive plasma drill rotate to face the two native-Arconans.
Meanwhile, Tsainetomo watched everything unfold with a smile upon his face that grew wild. “Relax, gents. I got this.”
The Adept felt an obscene amount of the Dark Side being marshalled into the Primarch and barely had time to yell a warning at the Proconsul; the eldritch energies coalesced into Sai’s palms as he punched them forward at the droid.
Tsainetomo, new addition to the Clan that boasted the Shadesworn, was not without his own unique skill-set. His years of study within the halls of Sadow had birthed his own talent: the Force Blast.
This talent manifested with shocking violence, meeting the droid’s front and crumpling it unmercifully. The energy’s inertia did not bleed outward from the point of impact, however. It traveled unimpeded through the droid’s circuited guts to punch a ragged hole at its rear; the hastily erected barrier that the Adept had thrown up caused the electronic detritus to rain harmlessly around the two Summit-members.
Timeros winced as he heard an amused baritone call out from in front of the ruined droid.
“I think it’s broken!”
“You do realise we could have probably just found the power-core and ripped it out, right?” Marick tried to say nonchalantly, but it came out flat with a helpless twinge of defeat.
“...I thought that’s what I did.” Timeros and Marick looked to see Sai scrambling atop the droid, then sliding down the ruined durasteel carapace of the miner. His frame was backlit by the smoldering wreckage, and he cast an impressive image. Marick felt, in that moment, vindicated by his decision to back Tsainetomo’s transfer.
Timeros, on the other hand, was a harder man to please. He would devise his own vetting process for the Apostate of Sadow, and would have the answers he sought one way or another.
Location: Entertainment District
Obelisk Obliterators: Cethgus
Cethgus slumped down one of the alleyways as he felt the pain reverberating through his arm. He knew that the damage that had been done would take time to heal, but the Exarch had more important matters to worry about. Looking at his tracker, he saw that the Mandalorian wasn’t that far from his current location. From what the Exarch could take into account, he was heading straight back to the safe house, and that was something that the Exarch couldn’t risk. Saarin and Putra needed time to take back the safe house and that was time that Cethgus would give to the two of them.
“Saarin, Putra, you haven’t got that long to complete the task. Clear that safe house out and hold that location, we need to make sure that we get the job done.” Cethgus voice was as quiet as possible, but at the same time he hoped the message got through to his team.
“Understood, we will be make a move onto location within minutes.” Saarin was the one to reply. Though it wasn’t a great answer, the Exarch could only take that as what it was, and hoped they managed to get the job done.
Throwing the comlink into his pocket, the Zabrak allowed his hand to grab a smoke before bringing it to his lips and lighting it. He followed the moving dot of the Mandalorian, knowing that the engagement to come would probably be an interesting one, since the Exarch had a small idea on what weapons the man had equipped. Moving swiftly through the streets, he headed to engage the leader of the small fraction of people that were currently occupying a safe house that belonged to Qel-Droma.
Ducking down the alleyway, he would have to cut the man off at the next turning he could find. As the Obelisk sprinted down the corridors, knowing that no matter what happened, he needed to make sure he was on the move first. Grabbing his saber from his belt, the Exarch allowed it to fall into his palm perfectly. As he sprinted round the corner, he found his target. With a burst of speed from the aid of the Force, he tackled the Mando to the ground, trying to get the upper hand on this matter. Yet feeling the metallic armour of his opponent crash to the ground only brought joy for a few seconds.
Instantly the rumble of the jet pack of the Mando kicked in, throwing the Exarch forward and off of his target, sending him spiralling across the floor. Coming to a halt, Cethgus scrambled to his feet, turning his full attention towards the male. Grinning at the man, he brought his saber up. Seeing that the area was clear of anyone that would spot the use of his saber, he instantly activated the blade letting it hiss to life. Standing there, he looked towards the male only to see the annoying mask of a Mandalorian return the look towards him.
“Looks like it’s just the two of us now. About the fact that I have to kill you, I think of it as just a small formality, I hope you’ll forgive me.” Cethgus grinned slightly as he brought himself up to his full height.
“Words are pointless, lets finish this right now.” Instantly the Mandalorian brought his blaster up from its holster and squeezed the trigger allowing shots to ring down the alleyway.
Cethgus instantly brought his saber up to block the oncoming bolts and deflected them into the walls. Years of experience using the exotic weapon allowed the Exarch to do so with ease. Finding himself in range of the mercenary, he slashed out towards his opponent only to find the man was quicker than he looked and evaded the blade as soon as possible. Rolling backwards, his right arm thrusted forward, the flamethrower attachment looking menacingly lethal.
Flames erupted down the alleyway forcing the Iridonian to duck out, knowing that he didn’t have any choice but to retreat at this current moment in time. Throwing himself away from the wall of fire, Cethgus lashed out with the Force, sending the Mando flying backwards to slam into a wall. Instantly closing the ground between the two of them, the Exarch lashed out in rage with his saber blade, catching the man off guard and severing his flamethrower, rendering it useless.
Instantly aiming for the man’s neck, he brought his blade across, trying to sever his head from his lips only to be denied the pleasure of a kill once more. Ducking a shot that would have left a hole in the Exarch’s head, Cethgus struck again, stabbing forward with his lightsaber. He felt the saber slip into the armour and flesh, smiling as he heard the cry of pain from the leader. Bringing his saber up and out of the man, he dragged him down to his knees. Knowing that the fight was over now, he allowed the blade to cleave through the man’s neck. The body crumpled onto the floor with a dull metallic thud, as he deactivated his blade. Cethgus turned and began sprinting towards the safe house, wondering how Putra and Saarin where doing.
Location: Safe House
Obelisk Obliterators: Saarin and Putra
Saarin and Putra sprinted out towards the safe house, knowing what was at stake if they failed their mission. They moved quickly as a team, heading towards the safe house before turning round a corner, they found that they were at the door of the safe house. Standing out in the street where the passers-by would offer them some protection, Putra held Saarin up to make sure that he didn’t over step and get seen, at the current moment in time the door was open leaving them a way inside without having to cut anything open.
“Right, let’s do this quickly and efficiently, and try and not get ourselves into too much trouble.” Putra was quick to talk, out of the two though, he was the more experienced one.
“Understood, I will follow your lead and we can go from there.” Saarin just waited for the order to be given.
The two Arconans waited as a group of what looked like men patrolling the nearby location walked round the corner. It didn’t take a genius to figure that they had to return at some point, but it was a choice that had to be made right now. They were in a weakened state, missing numbers would make it slightly easier for the two Galerians. But on the other side, they could wait and kill everyone at once, that was the choice that would have to be made and it was one that Putra found falling on his shoulders with the Battleteam Leader currently being busy.
“Right, we move in right now.” Putra’s voice was cold and measuring as he had to judge the situation that was happening around him.
The two men sprang into action as soon as the group was moving round the corner and out on patrol. Knowing that the patrol would be out for a while, the two Dark Jedi ran towards the compound at great speed, for a safe house the two men guarding the front of the door really didn’t have their eyes on the ball. As the two Obelisks were moving up quickly, Putra was the first to strike, slamming his fist into the man’s throat, closing the wind pipe and instantly dropping the man down against the wall. As the wounded man grabbed his throat, trying to shout the alarm, he found himself unable to do so before death grasped him and he stopped breathing.
Saarin wasn’t so touching with his movement. Grabbing a knife from one of his pouches, he stabbed it into the man’s heart, taking the life out of him and dropping him before he even managed to grab his blaster. Both of the guards slumped down dead, meaning the two Arconans could now advance straight into the safe house. They moved straight into the room, both of them gripping their sabers and allowing the weapons to hiss into life in their palms. The fighting that erupted was one that didn’t last for long.
The Obeliks were on the move constantly, using their speed to their advantage and cutting down anything that stood in the room. Though this tactic wasn’t as subtle as other approaches, it was one that would get the job done as people were being cut down quickly and efficiently. It didn’t take them long at all to get the room cleared of everyone that stood in their way. The screams could be heard from the room as people were falling down around them, the band seemed to be unorganised and unprepared, though it was doubtful that they were expecting two Dark Jedi to burst through the doors at that moment in time. Killing the last men, the safe house was finally clear of anyone inside, leaving the two of them alone. Looking at each other, the hiss of sabers deactivating could be heard from a mile off.
“Cethgus, this is Putra, we have secured the safe house. The last thing that needs doing is a clean-up of the mercenaries that are currently on patrol, we hope that you acknowledge.” With that, Putra put the comms down and waited. Keeping themselves out of sight, they hunkered down to await the return of the errant patrol.
Location: Safe House
Obelisk Obliterators: Cethgus, Putra and Saarin
Cethgus walked into the safe house, seeing a sight that could only be described as a slaughter house was the simplest way of putting it. Knowing that at this current moment in time, he had to make sure that the task had been cleared. From what the Exarch could see, it was all cleared and empty. Meaning that the mission had been achieved, though from the boot steps that were getting louder, the patrol was nearby. The fighting that ensued was finished quickly, seeing the completion of their task as a team. Cethgus ordered everyone to pile up the corpses, a task that would be boring and slightly grisly to say the least, but it was one that had to be completed.
“Looks like we finished the job here, I will report it now and then we are out of this hell hole before I lose it completely.” The Exarch’s voice was cold as always to his team as they finished the taking of the safe house.
Cethgus walked off to get in touch with Command and informed them of the information that had been given. Once everything was finalized and sorted, the Exarch allowed his team a little bit of time to relax before deciding to get them to get out of here. As he waited for a response, he knew that they had been a bit more unorthodox than what was requested but the Exarch didn’t care. The invaders had deserved to die for their crimes, and that’s what had happened, a purging of this filth that infested their safe house was eradicated like the pestilence they were.
Moving out,the team assigned as Obelisk Obliterators moved out from their objective, leaving the safe house in secure hands and determining that their job was done here. There was nothing left for them to do and it was a simple case of now returning home.
“This is Cethgus Entar reporting that the entertainment district safe house has been secured, we are now returning back.” ending the communication, the Exarch allowed a grin to come to his lips it had been a while since he had this much fun.
Lightspeed Ice Cream
After the initial chaos that the assault on the missile room had brought, things began to calm down as the Arconans worked their way through the varying enemies. Strategos in particular fought hard, the Elder using both his considerable prowess with the Force as well as his renowned combat ability to rack up nearly two dozen casualties. Andrelious had been set upon by a group of combat droids, but had eventually cut his way through them; his lightsaber proving more than enough to defeat even the more advanced models in use.
Incendus was still manning the defence turret; he had used it to great effect to eliminate the Mandalorian that had troubled him, but was now busying himself mopping up a pair of droids that had not joined in the attack on his master.
Eventually, the Gatekeepers were alone. Inahj beckoned Strategos and Incendus towards him, and the trio gathered towards the centre of the room.
“That was a little louder and more overt than Marick would have liked,” the Battlelord hissed. He knew that the Proconsul would be displeased at the method he had resorted to, although Andrelious was sure that nobody was going to live to tell the tale.
Moving over to the fallen Mandalorian, Inahj peered at the man’s armour. On part of it was what the ex-Imperial was looking for – a clan symbol. Andrelious used his datapad to obtain a copy of the symbol, before moving on.
“So, Strat, what’s left?” Incendus questioned as his master finished his brief investigation.
The Entar was smirking as he looked at his datapad. “It appears the commotion in here, as well as the losses taken have caused the remainder of our enemies to flee. They believe themselves to be under a large scale attack, judging by these messages I’ve just received,” he explained.
“Excellent. That will save us a great deal of work.” Inahj responded, pleased.
Though they had not had the hardest assignment, Team Home Affair had managed. Safe House: Jackson, and the service it provided to Qel-Droma had been secured with minimal fuss. As for the Mandalorian warrior, Inahj had transmitted the clan symbol to agents of the DIA- it was possible that piece of information would act as ‘Exibit A’ against the newcomer Tsainetomo, if the ex-Sadowan was shown to have links to any Mandalorian clans.
Andrelious was sure of one thing, though. Strategos once again had his smokes.
RUN ON CLOSED: