This will be a 3-week, Clan Wide Run-On with a focus on individual teams. Prompts will follow the main fiction.
Each Battleteam will work as a separate team for the Run-On, but will be contained in this
single thread. This means while you will be focused on your teams tasks, you also need to be conscious of what the other teams are doing. An OCC (Out of Character) Thread has been set up as well. Communication is the most important part of Run-Ons, and we have not done one as a unit like this in quite some time.
At the beginning of each post, use a Tag
to indicate your Battleteam or House Team.
Body of post
(Please disable signatures when posting.)
* Minimum of 250 words per post
* Maximum 1000 words per post
* Must post at least twice to count for participation credit
You can view the Introduction fiction here: http://wiki.darkjedibrotherhood.com/view/Operation:_Sojourn#Prelude
Your assignments will follow below.
Week 1 Prompt:
You each have your assignments. Spend the first week establishing your team and how they interact with one another. How do you rally together, what are your thoughts on the mission/your assignments.
Hapes Teams: You have leave to go so far as being in Hyperspace. Week 2 will start with us arriving at Hapes with a Fiction Update/Prompt.
(Consists of Marick, Galeres, Nighthawk, Soulfire, Dark Forge, Arete)
Home Teams: You can establish which areas of Arcona Space you'd like to investigate. Week 2 will start with a twist
(Legorii, Qel-Droma, Shadow Phyle, Arete)
You can find your assignemnts here: http://wiki.darkjedibrotherhood.com/view/Operation:_Sojourn#Phase_I_.28Week_1.29
NOTE: Arete Members. If you join a group/team, make sure you use their Tag.
The Arcona Special Forces RO Team uses a Master Google Doc that everyone shares, making sure that each post is proofed and approved by each or at least one or two members. This helps keep writing other people's characters consistent.
Soulfire Strike Team
Andrelious J. Inahj awoke first. He turned to briefly look at the female next to him. It had only been a few days since he had become engaged to Kookimarissia Mimosa, and the couple were still enjoying the ‘honeymoon period’. The Alderaanian had even persuaded her now-fiancé to give up cigarillos, though drinking was still very much a part of the Warlord’s life.
Laying a soft kiss on Kooki’s forehead, Andrelious smiled as she murmured before awaking, smiling gently at him. “Isn’t it a little early, my love?” she asked sleepily.
“Normally I’d agree with you, darling. But today we have our orders. It seems we may be off to the Hapes Cluster. Something to do with the Cythrauls. Did Atyiru tell you anything more?” the Warlord enquired, hoping that Kooki’s master had filled her in on the details.
The Knight simply shook her head. She had not seen the Miraluka since the incident at the sparring hall that had ended with Cethgus breaking her ribs. Though Atyiru had easily healed this damage, Inahj had sworn revenge on the Galeres Quaestor, unconvinced by the arguments that Cethgus was not attempting to murder his lover.
“Hang on. Since when do you have orders? Other than from Marick and Legorii?” Kooki questioned, taken aback by her fiancé’s unusual dedication to the Battleteam. Normally Inahj treated Soulfire, an old team though it was, as a secondary assignment to that of his main job as Rollmaster. In fact, he’d only enlisted with Soulfire to ‘get a piece of the action’, as he had put it, Void Squadron having been shut down weeks before.
“This mission is for Arcona. Our home. Our family. And do you really think I’ll let that bastard Cethgus go off and come back with Atyiru among the casualties? It would certainly suit him if your master was to perish.” Inahj replied rather cynically. Kooki just sighed - she too was not convinced by Cethgus’ motives, but trusted her master. Nevertheless, arguing with Andrelious when he was in this sort of mood was as futile as trying to find a date for Marick. There was of course the additional reason that Inahj was among those with a vested interest, with his own Cythraul, Stele, having been sent away in an attempt to avoid infection. The ex-Imperial had not liked this, having developed a tight bond with the Sith hound, but agreed it was for the best; he had seen for himself how the older Cythraul were doing.
Andrelious’ holocommunicator bleeped, before activating. A minute hologram of Nadrin Erinos appeared from the device.
“Rollmaster Inahj. It is time to prepare for our mission. You know where and when.” Nadrin declared briefly, giving enough time for his fellow Warlord to nod in response before ceasing the communication.
“I’ll see you on the other side, darling. I love you.” Andrelious said softly, kissing his beloved softly before quickly slipping on his old Imperial space suit and cloak.
“I love you too.” Kooki replied as the Rollmaster exited the room.
House Galeres Team
Galeres Home Base
Cethgus stood in the greeting hall of Galeres staring down towards the members of Galeres that were left with Atyriu and himself. Summoning them to this meeting place, he allowed his eyes to travel down each of them, scanning them for a moment in time. As he let his eyes glance to his side being flanked by his Aedile. Giving her a small nod he stepped forward, allowing a small cough to come from his lips to gather the attention of the crowd.
“Galeres, we are here today to once more be called into action for Arcona. It is our duty to do as requested by the Consul of Arcona and as such we are here to make sure that we do that role to its fullest” his voice low as he addressed the members of his house.
“I know that recently we have just come out of conflict but no we are asked to go back into it, we are only going to offer protection, we must find a solution to the growing problem that has writhed its way into the animals of this clan” as he turned his attention to the two Cythral that stood with the group.
“You have a few hours to prepare what you require, nothing more and I expect each of you to be ready by then. I want each to you to do this House and this Clan Proud. When you are ready the shuttles will take you aboard the Darkest Night.” With that his hand came out, dismissing those that stood around to do their duties.
Turning his attention to Atyiru it was clear that something slumbered inside of the Quaestor as he turned his attention towards her. Atyriu could easily mistake it for hate as his eyes flicked to the group walking away.
“Walk with me Sister” his voice calm as he strode towards the hanger.
Oh? Are we going sightseeing?" She chuckles. "Of course, Brother."
“I noticed that you have changed recently, know that if this change persists I see it as a weakness. You are still disposable at this point, do not change into something like me” his voice cold and dry but it was the best compliment she would get from the Quaestor.
Atyiru paused a step behind him, her face twisting through a quick myriad of emotions. "I...I will consider it, Brother." She said quietly, then louder. "But I want to protect you, and I know no other way to do it."
The two headed to the shuttle, finally turning to his Sister he stopped her at the ramp as he looked around for a few seconds watching the hustle and bustle of men making the shuttles ready for the House to head towards the Darkest Night.
“I will leave you incharge down here, meet me on the Darkest Night when you are done” his voice calm as he stepped into the shuttle letting the door seal itself as the shuttle took the Quaestor towards the Bothan Assault Cruiser.
BAC Darkest Night
Stepping off the shuttle he watched as Commander Irys Hoarth came sprinting up to him before giving a swift salute. He allowed himself to return the gesture before he walked with the Commander his eyes scanning the ship.
“Are we ready to leave as soon as the members of the House arrive Commander?” Cethgus strode towards the bridge.
“Yes Sir, we are ready to leave orbit and head with the rest of the forces that are going” indicating for the Quaestor to walk through a bulkhead first.
As he stepped onto the bridge of the BAC, his eyes scanned the scene as he let a small smile to come to his lips. It had been a while since he had been on the Bridge but it was exactly the same as he remembered it. Watching the command crew getting the ship ready for its departure, he stared out into the black void of space.
“Listen up, we are heading into the unknown on this one people. Once more I expect each of you to continue your jobs and do what is expected of you, our first priority is to gather the members, then we will meet with the Invicta and the Nighthawk and go from there” his voice echoed round the bridge as the crew listened to him.
As he turned his attention back around, he allowed himself to stand in the middle of the bridge as he observed the men and women serving aboard the ship. Everything seemed to fit in place at that moment in time. Now the Quaestor had to simply wait for the members to arrive, and then he would begin the preparations for departure.
The Phantom Complex Conference Room 1, Port Ol'Val.
Kanis Paced in front of the table at which the available members of his team were seated. Once the Tetrarch had finally gathered his words he stopped and turned to face the onlookers of Shadow Phyle. "We have a mission to accomplish, as you know this is our first assignment as a Battle Team, and I want our leadership to see that Shadow Phyle isn't a lost cause!" He said, raising his tone a little towards the end. "We have been assigned to security detail, it's our job to deal with any and all insurrectionists in Estele City." I will be deploying you in two man teams, any form of Insurrection should be seen as an act of aggression… It is our duty, to show these people that Arcona is as strong as ever and that no form of rebellion is acceptable and will be dealt with harshly. Keep in contact, if anything notable happens, don’t keep quiet about it. In the event that an insurrection outbreak gets out of your control, call in for assistance to the nearest Cell. Gunstinson Marrek… Your job will be the exact same as everyone else, just you may be called upon to handle the HVT’s we could not otherwise reach, but don’t put too much money on it, I doubt our enemy will be that organized, but I also refuse to exclude the possibility, so be ready.” He finished, the Coruscanti looked around at the faces of his members, stopping when he saw his apprentice. “Kinsha, Ellie.” he said, “You have an opportunity to prove yourself to me, your Battle Team, and all of Arcona. You will be serving at my side during the entirety of this mission.” he then performed a second scan. “The rest of you, when you leave this conference room, the first person whom you make eye contact with will be a member of your two man cell for the rest of your career in this Battle Team, are there any questions?” he asked.
Kordath tried to relax as he walked across the hangar deck of the Darkest Night, his tail moving fitfully behind him as he carried his pack. The Ryn always hated shuttle flights, and considering how much of the Clan's space force was 'battle tested' these days, he was even more adverse to it. Who knew when something would come loose? Or a seal suddenly gives up from a near-miss from a laser blast months ago, some little problem that the over taxed maintenance crews had over looked during war time. The Krath was certain that if he was to die, it would either be at the hands of his Quaestor, or a knife in the alley somewhere. Going out while on a shuttle would just be....embarrassing.
Halfway to the turbolifts that would take him to the habitat decks, he noted a pair of his Troopers had already made it on board. Seren was standing off to the side, trying to ignore Kooki as the Alderaanian woman spoke into a comlink, a smile on her face and an unfocused look in her eyes. Talking to her fiance, no doubt, thought the Ryn. Kordath didn't have much use for the man these days, military types were always far to rigid, set in their ways, quick to anger from misinterpreted comments. The older woman turned as she stowed the comlink, noting that her team mate was pointedly trying to ignore her, and that her Sergeant was in fact shaking his head and grinning slightly.
“Get that out of the way did we?” asked the Ryn, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips, “It's not like he'll be far, Kooki, Soulfire is coming along for the ride as well.”
Kooki nodded curtly, “On the Nighthawk, sir, not the Darkest Night though.”
A noise very much akin to a laugh and a derisve snort came from her companion, who quickly tried to straighten her features as the two turned to look at her.
“Well it's not like he'll ever be out of communications range, will he? I'm not sure what the bunking arrangements are, but if we're sharing, please try not to use that thing after lights out, or I'll smash it to bits,” said the Dantoonian, smiling sweetly.
Kordath shook his head, shouldering his back again and started heading for the turbolifts again.
“No doubt our good leader will have a briefing for us once everyone is aboard and we're underway, until then, find yourselves bunks. I'm sure there’s an officer about that is assigning them, or something...” muttered the Ryn. He wasn't actually sure how assignment worked on board the vessel, he'd just taken to sleeping on the small couch in the Dark Forge Leader office that was on board. It felt more right for the career stowaway.
“Oh, one more thing, ladies,” he said turning to face the two once more, 'If you see Anduriel, tell him to come to my office, I need to have words with the little wiseass.”
The Ryn walked off, muttering something about 'dogs' and 'booty'.
House Galeres Team
BAC Darkest Night
Lexi allowed her hand to come down and grab the bag that lay at her feet. hearing the familiar sound of the landing claws touching the metal surface of the hanger as she hauled herself to her feet. As the ramp began to lower she like many of the members of Galeres that arrived turned their attention to the hanger. As she gracefully stepped down off the ramp she noticed a man come sprinting towards her, he looked out of breath as he tried to address the Knight.
“Ma’am you are summoned to the bridge…….” trying to catch his breath as he spoke towards her.
She regards the man and nodded to him in acknowledgement of the summons. She moved towards the turbolift, after a quick stop at her quarters, she made her way to the bridge. She noticed the general urgency of everyone around her. She could sense the excitement and some trepidation over being mobilized in such short notice.
The turbo lift opened up onto the Darkest Night bridge, even being raised on freighters like she was, the bridge was an impressive sight. Before her was a long walk way, on either side of her were rows of computer banks with military officers pouring over their various tasks. As she walked forward the bridge tiered up on to the command dias where her master and Quaestor stood looking out the large windows into space. His dark robed figure dominated the command dias even though their were several command level officers with him. There was no mistaking who was in command here. She walked up next to her master, barely coming up to his shoulder as she stood next to him.
“You summoned me master?” she said in an even respectful tone.
“Hello Lexi, I see you found your way here without an issues” his voice cold, as he lifted his hand to dismiss the commanders around him watching them scurry away with ease. “Your first time in conflict it must be exciting?”
She smiled to herself, “Exciting? More of an anticipation to the kill, quite enjoyable really. Although, I have never seen the Clan mobilize like this before, it is exciting to see the levels of trepidation and anticipation of those around us. Their emotions are running the gambit,” she replied slightly amused with it all, “Tell me master, who do we go to destroy?”
She had never really gotten the why of this and was curious.
“Honestly, that question is one that will be unanswered, know that the fleet is heading towards Hapes. We are hunting for a cure and an answer. But for now we must make preparations for our departure” his voice echoed around bridge as he continued to stare out into space.
Her mind caught something amiss, but could not place her finger on it yet. There was something missing here, however, she wrote it off as her trying to deal with too many peoples emotions at this level for the first time. “As you say master,” accepting his words at face value. She simply remained silent at his side, where she had been summoned.
The Nighthawk would be the first and probably only ship constructed in Dusk Station. The star base had recently undergone a massive refit and expansion, and could construct craft as well as acting as a drydock for Arcona's flotilla. Dusk Station was to be the central military hub for all of Arcona’s operations, and the logistical centre of its entire Military. Teroch leant on a rail overlooking the Hawk's berth, watching the small army of droids and workers crawl over her superstructure, finalising her construction. It had cost the Shadow Clan a fortune to commission the small craft, but she was worth every credit. Unquestionably unique, she was the perfect craft to head up the DIA's interests. It'd be some time before she'd be finished, though. Truly finished, with all of her upgrades and modifications, that was.
Construction had been fraught with delays, complications and other barriers to overcome. With his usual diplomatic aplomb, Teroch had ignored them all and pushed the engineers beyond their limit, harassing them into working triple shifts to finish his ship. Even now, it wasn’t completed. It was only just space-worthy, however, the Mandalorian wasn’t waiting one second longer than he had to. If he didn’t hurry, Kote would die.
Arcia Cortel, his Executive Officer, sidled up to him, leaning on the railing to his left. “I’ve spoken to the construction chief. He says the ship is technically space-worthy, however, some of the interior still needs finishing. Also, he’s worried that we’ve not run any tests on the reactor handling the strain yet.”
Teroch shrugged, turning his back on the ship, still leaning on the railing, letting his messy hair hang over the precipice as he stared up into the depths of the station. “Screw the tests. Assemble the crew. Have Nadaras clear the techs off the ship. I want them gone in a maximum of forty-five minutes. If anyone not on my roster is still on board, I’ll kick their shebs off myself.”
Arcia grinned at the youth’s tired belligerence. “We still haven’t got a chief engineer or science officer-”
“We won’t need them for this. I’ll worry about that later.”
Arcia grimaced, but nodded. There was no point arguing with Teroch when he set his mind to something.
“I’ll see that your things are brought on board.”
It wasn’t the first time he’d set foot on the ship. No, he’d been deeply involved in her construction, much to the workers’ collective frustration, but this was the first real time. She was finally about to leave Dusk Station. Deck Two was dominated by the Command and Operations centre. Teroch strode down the passageway lined with consoles into the Command Centre proper, walked around the holographic centrepiece of the room, and took his placed on the raised area overlooking the entire room. Assembled before him was the entire crew; mostly hand-picked Force sensitives and a smattering of ‘mundane’ officers.
“My friends,” he began, using his Father’s opening to speeches. “The Nighthawk’s maiden voyage deserves more pomp and splendour than we can currently afford. That said, we are needed. Our Consul is ordering us into the Hapes Cluster to seek a cure for the disease currently affecting the Cythraul,” He swallowed slightly, pausing, “...Including mine. Some of you I’ve worked with before, and will enjoy doing so, albeit in a slightly different uniform. Others, this is a first, and I look forward to seeing what you’re all capable of. We will be joined by Soulfire Strike Team, who should be boarding soon. With them comes a fair volume of equipment, as well as a Stealth-X or two, so we’ll need to make them comfortable in the Hangar. I want us good to leave drydock in an hour. Get to your stations.”
There was a moment of pause, before Arcia spoke up. “Get moving! Kalon, man the helm and prepare the pre-flight checks. Celahir, get to Encrypt. Maaks, to the Med-bay. Valkish, prepare the hangar for our guests. Uji, get us clearance to leave from the station. Nadaras, make sure there’s no engineers hiding in the ducts. Nath… I don’t know. Sharpen your scalpel or something. I want a full report ten minutes ago. Go! Go! Go!”
House Qel-Droma Team
Ernordeth Puer-Irae strolled through Level Beta of the Phantom Complex from the Quaestor's Office towards a Briefing Room. He felt refreshed, his early morning meditation in his Suite allowing him to collect his thoughts for the coming meeting. This meeting required only slightly more space than the 15 his Office could fit. Shadow Gate wouldn’t be joining them today, so there was no need to utilize their impressive Main Auditorium. He paused at Nikola Valtiere’s Office. No presence could be felt, presumably because his Aedile had continued to become more and more involved in running House Qel-Droma. The red-hued humanoid valued his help and the two had started to form a bond. He felt he must be careful that he didn’t become the Plagueis to his Sidious.
He continued into the Briefing Room watching Valtiere prepare for the looming meeting with Shadow Phyle and the few Qel-Dromans who had not adopted Shadow Gate or Shadow Phyle as their own team. The Aedile’s cybernetic right eye focused on Ernordeth.
“They should be making their way through Kas Tunnel now.” He said, eye flicking back to his notes.
“Indeed. You’ve been proving yourself over this last year. No longer are you viewed as a pilot or a ruthless military tactician. You are now a crucial leader capable of influencing one of the greatest Houses in the Dark Brotherhood.” Ernordeth replied.
The human took a brief second to pause, but continued preparing, waiting for the Quaestor to continue.
“I’m here every step of the way for you and our House, but today I’m going to watch you lead. I want you to head today’s meeting and give Kanis and the rest their security assignment. This is crucial while others are away. I don’t even need to ask, but are you ready?”
Nikola Valtiere calmly nodded, asserting his readiness as he walked to the podium. “Here they are.”
Kanis appeared first followed by the rest. They all looked eager to hear the news they had been called for.
"Dzwol Châts Asha." The Quaestor slithered.
He continued, “To exist to gain victory. So without victory can you exist? Answer this question after our Aedile addresses you.”
House Qel-Droma Team
Valtiere cast his eyes over the assembled members of Qel-Droma. There were not many, but all had a passion and drive to serve their House and Clan. With them they would ensure the safety of the Dajorra system, from within and without. This was his first briefing as Aedile. He had briefed Void Squadron before battle, but that had been passing on the orders of the Summit, adapting them with his own discretion. This time, he was the one giving the overall plan. Before the briefing, he had been reviewing the state of Arcona’s defences after the Consul and Galeres had begun mobilising for their little vanity project. The Invicta, The Darkest Night, and the Nighthawk. Three capital ships gone. Not the best situation to be in. But it could be worse.
He began without preamble, a holo-projector whirring to life, the Dajorra system rendered in harsh blues before the assembled Dark Jedi.
“While your brethren in Shadow Gate and Galeres travel to the Hapes cluster, we have been tasked with reinforcing the Dajorra system, our home. We have been away on the Dark Council’s crusade for too long. They have forgotten about us. We need to remind them.”
“Shadow Phyle.” He turned his head to Kanis, the newest leader of Qel Droma’s newest Battleteam. He had been a rising star. He hoped he wouldn’t burn out, as many who rushed through their training did. Of course, if he burned out, it would show his weakness, and therefore, be easy to purge him. Weakness would not be tolerated.
“You will be assessing for threats from within, in Estle City. Any potential insurgents or insurrectionists. You are to root them out, and silence them. You have full discretion. But, If I find out about it in any way other than official reports, you will be disciplined.” His tone was dry, without menace. But it carried power. It carried throughout the room quietly. The image changed, showing a seemingly featureless asteroid, the facade hiding Port Ol’val, hiding the Shadow Complex itself.
“The rest of you. You will work with myself and your Quaestor in improving the defences of Dajorra. From external threats. Not the most glamorous job. But integral. We maintain a fleet and an army for a reason. They need to be kept in top form. We will start with Port Ol’Val. A full review of the Shadow Complex defence protocols. From there, we scale up. We will simulate invasion, a breach of our defences. Ernordeth will lead the attack. I will oversee defence. Full deployment orders will be given over the next hours. Prepare.” He gripped the podium, one hand organic, the other dark durasteel, pose ramrod straight as he loomed over them all.
Go, go, go? Naradas thought incredously with a faint sigh as he rose to his feet. Arica is beginning to sound like a gung-ho military type. Just what I wanted. He shrugged slightly to himself as he departed the Command Center in the turbolift, selecting the deck that held the security office before clasping his hands behind him. Arica will either prove herself or fall. Either outcome... acceptable. He thought with a grim smile.
Entering the outer security office, he was pleased to see his staff assembled and standing at parade rest, waiting for their commander. “At ease, gentlemen and ladies.”
The security staff relaxed slightly, all eyes on Naradas.
“There will be time for a more in-depth introduction later. For those of you that haven't met me, my name is Naradas, and I'm the new security chief aboard the Nighthawk. You people will report directly to me.” Naradas said, his voice calm and assured. “Right now we are due to depart in less than an hour, and we are to ensure that the only people aboard the Nighthawk is its present crew and our Soulfire guests. Anybody else should be considered an intruder and brought to the brig for confinement and interrogation. Any discrepancies or irregularities, alert me immediately. Your squad leaders will have your individual ship sweep assignments. Any questions?”
There was none.
“Good. Dismissed.” Naradas gave a tight smile as he watched his people filter out to sweep the ship. From the reports and dossiers he had been given on his new people, they were a competent lot and would serve well. He was pleased.
He paused at the door to his personal office, feeling a slight ripple in the Force. Ah. Zakath's Iridonian. Letting out a deep breath, he stepped inside, his face now carefully pleasant. “Greetings, Nath. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Naradas.” Nath greeted, her voice clipped and flat. “I wanted to talk about your spies.”
“Spies?” Naradas asked mildly as he circled around his desk and settled into his chair, activating the security computer as he did so. “Which ones are we talking about?”
“You know which spies.” The Iridonian said coldly, her mouth set into a severe frown. “The ones you have following me.”
“Ah. Those spies.” He let out a slight chuckle. “That really shouldn't surprise you, you know. Of course I'm going to keep tabs on you after I killed your Master. You may be a member of Arcona, but you are a threat to me, and I will conduct myself accordingly. They do have instructions not to interfere with you, only observe.”
“If they prove inconvenient, I will kill them.” Nath replied bitingly.
“If you like. I'll only send more.” Naradas shrugged slightly before his eyes suddenly glinted with interest. “Speaking of which, my spies did report that you went back to the remnants of Terok Nor and actually managed to retrieve what little remained of Zakath's skull. I have to say, that kind of persistance is very impressive... and just a slight bit ghoulish. Going to give him a proper burial or did you have something else in mind for it?”
She watched as the crew of the AGV Nighthawk suddenly snapped into a fray of shuffled feet and mixed shouts; a small smirk touching her lips. It had been several years since Arcia was in a position to direct order to chaos and it seems she hadn’t lost her touch. Glancing from port to starboard, aft to stern, the woman crossed her arms and looked over to where Teroch was sitting. The expression that played across his face told stories that she could only assume. She was still new to Arcona but she did her best to not let that show.
The situation with the Cythraul was somewhat foreign to Arcia; she didn’t understand why everyone was fretting over some animals, but she kept it to herself knowing they had a high praise in the Clan for whatever reason. Taking a deep breath, the Nighthawk XO moved from her standing position towards the Operations station. Since the crew did not have a designated Ops officer, she would fill in with what she knew until a replacement was commissioned. Gliding her fingers over the console, it all started to come back to her; life-support, gravity control, power regulation...the ‘easy’ stuff.
After a quick systems check, Arcia backed away from the console and made her way over to the aft and port side of the deck, where the Intel/Comms station was housed. Communications had been her field in the Imperial Navy, so when she heard of the Hypertransceiver on board, she just had to take a look at the console readouts for it.
Uji was already at work, speaking with Dusk Station’s command staff regarding their clearance to depart from the station. Idly listening to the back and forth, Arcia smiled and nodded before heading towards the aft turbolift. The Marines were at their post, as always, as she brushed past them and entered the lift. Hitting the option for Deck 3, she waited patiently as the cool hum of the electronics and mechanical features of the lift kicked in and took her down a level to where her office was situated.
The lift’s doors slid open with a hiss and two security officers hurried past, obviously performing their first sweep of the ship per Naradas’ orders. To the port was her office and attached quarters, but before making her way there, she popped her head into the Med-Bay to see if Maaks was performing his pre-flight checks; sure enough, he was. With another smile, Arcia turned and entered her office, sitting at her desk and handled a journalistic datapad.
~The crew of the Nighthawk are already exemplary. Performing their duties to their best and we haven’t even undocked yet. I can tell this should be a rather easy run.~
Arcia finished entering the text and placed the datapad on the desk before leaning back in her chair and closing her eyes. She reached out to into the Force and began to feel every part of the ship; every person, every thing. It was something she frequently did aboard a new ship since learning the ways of the Force, but the difference with this one was that it felt more alive than any she had ever been on.
Suddenly, a soft ‘chirp’ broke the silence.
Opening her eyes, Arcia looked at one of her screens and made note of an incoming message. She grabbed a different datapad, made some entries regarding the status of Ops and made her way back to the Command center to report the updates to the Captain before she would move to the lower decks to check on the status of other stations.
House Galeres Team
BAC Darkest Night
She shook her lekku, green eyes blazing with rage. The entire House was being made to travel across the galaxy for a reason that no one thought to tell her. Not that this really bothered her, she'd recently been away for several months, only coming back recently and realizing her previous self was not missed. Liera, K’tana’s pet Kowakian monkey-lizard, feeling her owner’s frustration, chattered at her Mistress, then proceeded to crawl up the Twi’lek’s leg for attention. The violet woman’s green eyes filled with affection momentarily, then faded back to their usual blank state.
“They never would have let you on if I hadn’t snuck you in. Please,” the violet woman begged the gibbering creature, “be silent and don’t make me regret bringing you aboard!” K’tana lifted the small being up and held her out at arm’s reach and the two females made eye contact. K’tana’s scowl finally silenced the creature, who scowled just as ferociously back at its owner, yet remained silent. K’tana scoffed at the attitude this tiny thing had and how much K’tana felt for it.
“Well fine, just pout. So long as you do it quietly.” K’tana’s voice softened, “Neither of us want you thrown out the airlock. So behave while I'm out and every night I'll bring you fresh meat and fruit.”
These words caused Liera to snicker and gibber quietly around her Mistress’s shoulders. K’tana picked Liera up, pet her soft, greyish-purple facial fur and set her down on the bed, where the monkey-lizard gave K’tana sad eyes.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can be. Behave!” she said as she walked out of the room and towards the main deck where she’d perhaps try to get answers...or at least aggravate the Quaestor. That last thought made her run her fingers down her slightly crooked nose and she flinched. Perhaps she'd attempt restraint...it was something new she was trying.
The door slid open with barely a sound and the emergency lights showed the dim silhouettes of fresh, new equipment in the med bay. Maaks took in a deep lungful before taking a step inside. The lights flickered on revealing the whole room. It was beautiful in a way; half uncovered equipment, fresh bacta tanks and a polished smell that could only be found in retail. Perfect.
The Miraluka walked through the first part of the med bay, the consoles starting up with basic commands lighting up the screen and a genetic synthesiser warmer up its systems. The second half of the med bay was mostly beds, the scanners regulating themselves overhead. He rubbed his hands together, a huge grin over his face. If Juda could see me now. It was far more spacious than he had imagined - and he had imagined it. All the poor, wounded souls coming to him to be healed, fixed and set right to go back to doing, well, whatever it was they did. He hadn’t quite learned enough of their names or purposes yet but he took their generous thanks in advance.
Looking over some of the larger equipment, he took out a datapad and started taking notes. Mostly to remember exactly what they were and how he could use them. It wasn’t that he was incompetent, just inexperienced, and he valued the few minutes he used to skim over the manuals. A two note chime sounded out above him and a firm female voice rang out of an unseen intercom.
“Maaks Erinos. I am Arcia Cortel, Executive Officer of the Nighthawk. I have been...asked to introduce your Captain to the med bay.” Her authoritative tone weakened towards the end of her statement, “Departure is expected soon.” The comm system deactivated and the med bay doors swung open. A darkened form stepped into the light and leant against the door frame. Maaks grinned immediately.
“So, this be my ship. Just had it built custom, good paint job, should see the hyperdrive on this thing-”
Maaks swept him up into a bear hug and dragged him inside.
“Ahhh, look how big you’ve grown! And-” He stopped halfway, holding Teroch closely to him for a moment before releasing him. He had always looked impressive, especially through the Force but it was completely different from last time he had seen him. The Miraluka easily saw the leaps and bounds the young Elder had taken to get to where he was. There was a strong sense of maturity and experience that easily seeped from his form but it was the look in his eye that relieved him the most. Still young, still ready to grow. He had taken good care of himself.
“-and as the Captain of this ship I want to make it a rule to never pick me up like that. Especially not in front of the others”
Maaks kissed him immediately and let all of his love spill out through his lips until there was no more struggling or protest. He pulled away as soon as he felt the Obelisks hands meet his waist.
“Hey, it isn’t that easy kiddo, give yourself a few more years”, he ruffled the roughly kept hair on Terochs head and smiled at him.
“Yeah, seems great kiddo, everything seems great. I bet you tried pretty hard to get this all to work.”
Immediately back on track, the Assassin straightened himself up to full height and looked around, a light in his eyes.
“Yeah, everything is either new or renovated - I know that some of the gurneys are from an older transport but they should work fine - they’re renovated. Oh and you have a direct link to the main deck in case of emergencies or any problems you might have. Here, this is the main console.”
Teroch led him to the first half if the room and began using the console. Half viewing it within his sight, he also watched the adolescents expression. Intense, focused and enthusiastic. He was recovering well and was probably well on his way past his grief. What pleased the Krath most was that there was only a tiny hint of Sashar in the way his lips parted when he concentrated or the way his eyes creased. He was his own man. It was difficult to feel both grief and pride at the same time but the Miraluka held that sight for a moment before returning his attention to the console.
“-and this is pretty much an encyclopedia of all encyclopedias for all species and potential diseases the crew may...accrue.”
They shared a look before the comm interrupted them.
“Captain to the bridge, Captain to the bridge. We are ready for final preparations.”
Sitting aboard the Nighthawk brought a sense of unease to Uji.
The native of Coruscant had grown up among large groups like the one inhabiting the Nighthawk throughout his life. His first few years among his family, then the Jedi Praxium, and his time working alongside the Galactic Alliance had seen him fill many roles aboard larger vessels. But, the years since leaving the Jedi and the GA had left him embittered towards working with others this closely, as life among bounty hunters, thieves, and mercenaries often had turned sour quickly once he had used them for what he needed. However, his role aboard the Nighthawk had been assigned to him after Teroch had approached Cethgus and Atyiru requesting his return for duty among the new Battleteam, and for the first time since he had abandoned the Order, Uji felt a certain forgotten pride to be part of something that would provide the safety of working closely with others.
His recent departure from active duty had been to fulfill his role for the Fist’s office, another uprising, another dissident, another voice silenced from the Universe at the Council’s orders. He hadn’t expected the push from the Galeres summit to have him returned. Then again, Atyiru had told him on his return, “You may work for the Council, but your place is with Galeres” and, thinking on that, it had taken Uji some time to figure out she had meant in more ways then one who he belonged to.
Uji returned his focus to his task at hand. As Arcia, his executive officer, walked past, he felt the slight brush of her awareness as she checked things over. They had spoken previously that Uji was taking the position she had expected to fulfill before Teroch had asked her to take a command role.
He had already brought order to the communications station, knowing in some ways he would be more closely watched then others to ensure he was meeting the XO’s expectations. He knew the in’s and out’s of the console, and had been working with it since its installation a few weeks ago. His eyes flickered across the monitors as he ran system checks throughout the ship, and ensured that internal communications were up, making a mental note of any slow responses in the system, and any areas that were still offline.
“Nighthawk, you are cleared for station departure. Good luck out there.”
“Copy that ops, try to stay out of trouble while we’re gone.”
His hands flickered across the console as he sent out the all-clear to Teroch, Arcia, and their helmsman Kalon. Once satisfied that the task was completed, he returned his focus to internal communication, considering his options and limited resources he opened another message addressed to Arcia.
“Officer Cortel, I could use any additional resources you may have on getting communications online. Currently several of the lower decks, including the brig, several of the remote engineering stations, and recreational areas are non-responsive. While not dangerous, this could lead to issues as we get underway. - Uji”
Kalon instantly turned on his heel as the team began to disperse through the bustling command deck and towards the helm. Normally he would be grinning, the chance to pilot one of the most advanced ships in the entire Dark Brotherhood was not common, and nothing the Mandalorian happy if it wasn’t for flying and fighting. It was his first time on the AGV Nighthawk and though he knew the details of the ship from browsing through schematics he was still keen to have a look through the various decks later on, most likely to see how accurately the engineers and construction workers had built the vessel. But no, the Templar was facing difficulty with the situation regarding Arcona’s Cythraul, not to mention his forced separation from his own one, Mirdala. This was a large part to his rather thin tolerance at that current moment in time.
Continuing a few metres after the passing the airlock, Kalon could examine the entirety of the cockpit. As far as Picket ships went, the station was quite luxurious. The chairs seemed comfortable and adjustable, ensuring maximum efficiency whilst on the job. The Mandalorian noted that the seat on the right was already occupied by a crewman, his designated Co-Helmsman. Kalon didn’t say anything, only nodding towards the Zabrak as he turned the Chief pilot seat towards him, letting himself sink into it as he spun back around to face the controls.
Even though he wore his Mandalorian Protector armour, Kalon could easily fit in the seat, resting his wrists on the arm chairs for several seconds as to get a feel for the ship he was going to fly. It was a mental thing really; a pilot thing. He needed to feel the vibrations in the hull from working mechanisms on the lower decks. He needed to listen to the life support systems supply oxygen throughout the Nighthawk. He needed to focus.
“Sir.” Mumbled the Co-Helmsman, holding out a datapad with a list of pre-flight procedures which needed to be completed before they could go anywhere.
Kalon snatched it off of him with some considerable speed, causing the Zabrak to jolt in surprise. The Obelisk Templar paid him no heed though, flicking several switches along one of the control panels, lighting various areas of the desk up. In honesty, it was also the first time the Mandalorian would be actually flying a vessel that could be designated as a ‘Capital ship’. He had done an impressive amount of hours on the flight sims on top of his Shadow Academy studies on the subject and so he was prepared for this first test that the Nighthawk would face.
A ping on his control consul alerted the Mandalorian that permission to take off had been given, and now the only thing waiting on their departure was the rest of his checks. It didn’t take too long for him to complete the checklist, promptly throwing it at the Iridonian crewman as soon as he was finished.
“Look’s like we’re done here.” Grumbled Kalon, nodding to his Co-pilot. “Send the word to the Teroch that we’re ready to leave on his go.”
Arcona Citadel Medical Labs
The consoles sighed gently along the walls of the labs, the rhythmic tap tap tap of the cane rising and falling upon the polished floor a stark contrast to the near silence that held dominion over the medical laboratory. In the back of the room the laboratory technicians were bent over the forms of the sick Cythraul keeping an eye on vital signs and ensuring the creatures conditions did not worsen. Reaching out and running his hand down one of the databanks to the side of him Deimos sighed as he eyed the information before him. The Arkanian had the knowledge of dozens of creatures and their anatomy, he had grown up a Xenobiologist on his own home planet and beyond, but these Cythraul were beyond him.
“Oh how I would love to know how they tick...a slice here and a slice there and perhaps I would know something more than what I do. Bah unacceptable!” He slammed his clawed fist into one of the data consoles suddenly forcing one of his orderlies to jump in shock and drop the box of medication he had been carrying.
“Idiotic mongrel do you think that this medication is something we can afford to throw away? Get this mess cleaned up before I ram this cane so far up you..” he stopped mid flow and sighed taking a deep breathe. There was no point in getting worked up over spilt medicine, it wasn’t after all the orderlies fault. They were all stressed after all considering the patients they currently cared for.
He stared at the terrified man before forcing a smile “As much as I hate to admit it, I apologise for my harsh words. Now get out of here before I truly lose my temper.”
The orderly nodded, and gave a small whimper “Yes...yes sir.” before he scurried off with the remaining medicine vials cradled in his arms like his first born child.
Deimos sighed again and ran his claws through his hair as he brought his hand down to his side he noticed the blood upon the tips and turning his head he realised he had managed to tear his scalps flesh in the action. He shook his head and wiped the blood on his medical apron before turning and moving to exit the labs.
Shadow Gate Temporary Command Post
Arcona Citadel Medical Wing
As the door slid open and locked behind him Deimos made his way over to the central console of the room and tapped a few buttons inputting his code symbols. As the room came to life a holodisplay ignited before him. To the casual eye the numerals, numbers and pictures continuously scrolling before him would make as much sense as Ancient Sith would to an Ewok, however contained within endless scrawl clear to the Gate Wardens eye’s was all the information required to run the Battle Team in perfect secrecy.
“Code Black, Operation Centre online. Welcome Gate Warden.” The automated voice of the centres command program greeted him as he ran his hand along the Holo.
“Initiate Operation parameters, begin recording. Transmit upon completion to all active Shadow Gate Agents. Maximum encryption.” Deimos sat himself down and rolled his shoulders.
“Transmitted along with this message is a full breakdown of your mission parameters. As per usual you will destroy all evidence you ever received this message and upon mission start be fully aware if you are caught you are required to reveal nothing as we will accept no responsibility for your failings. Should your capture be inevitable you know what you must do.” A momentary silence followed the last comment, death was the price of failing to abide by mission parameters and to give up information sensitive to the mission, so it was expected for all agents to take their own life rather than give anything up.
“You will rendezvous upon the Station Black Tempest. There you will meet your fellow agents and together under the leadership of the Gate Steward you will infiltrate the Hapan Pirate group know as the Swa’kata. From here you will be expected to acquire as much information as possible that can be used by our main forces in regards to our overall mission to save the Cythraul. Upon completion you will be required to prepare an extraction plan using the Pirates that will allow the rest of our Forces an easy way out. Failure is not an option.” He ran his hand down the console typing in commands and the centre went into shutdown mode. Everything went dark as Deimos exited the room and the door slid shut behind him the light from outside vanishing as it did bathing the room once again in Shadows.
Black Tempest Space Station
The Bar went up in flames as the explosion rocked the quadrant and over a dozen members of the Black Ghast Swa’kata ship burned to death as the mix of propellants took hold of their flesh and consumed them. The acrid stink of burning flesh filled the sector and the hurrying figures of the populace below rushed about as they attempted to extinguish the flames before they managed to spread any further. Looking down upon the scene from the balcony of the Hotel across the road a figure began watched in interest as he idly disassembled the detonator device in his hand and disposed of the pieces.
The Gate Steward sat down on the edge of the rooms bed and rolled his neck “Well that’s space aboard one of the ships created at least. Time to make the rest of the arrangements.” Within a few moments Etah had sent out contact information to his contacts, who would in turn forward it to the Swa’taka with very very high recommendations. “Now time to wait for the new Employers to call.”
Soulfire Strike Team
Andrelious had been the last member of his squad that Nadrin had needed to get in touch with, and he knew that his squad would be converging on the hangar to meet him, which meant that he needed to finish what he was doing. Turning back to the whimpering humanoid that was slumped in a chair that sat in the centre of the room, Nadrin began flicking the knife he held between his fingers as he slowly walked towards the Zabrak. Horns littered the floor and blood oozed down the male's face and upper body, his anguish palpable through the Force as the Warlord knelt down beside him.
“Well, looks like you've outlived your usefulness I'm afraid. Say hi to my dad for me.”
Nadrin rose up and planted the knife in the man's chest in one smooth motion before turning on his heel and walking towards the door that led out of the interrogation suite. Outside he accepted a small towel from the officer who met him and nodded his head back towards the room he had just vacated before walking off, idly wiping the blood from his hands as he made his way towards the hangar.
A few minutes later his commlink chirped and the young Sith took the device from his belt and activated it, wondering who it was that was trying to get in contact with him.
“Hurry up vode, my ship is ready to go as soon as you and your band of latecomers get here.”
Nadrin snorted at his brother's remark and replied, his tone bursting with mocking despair.
“Oh great Teroch, I am sorry that I have slowed your mighty warship's first operation. I prostrate myself before you and beg your forgiveness.”
“Asshole, just hurry up. I've set the hangar aside for your team's use so feel free to let me know when you're on board so we can get going. Teroch out.”
Nadrin shook his head and put the commlink back on his belt as he rounded one final corner and walked into the hangar bay where his team was waiting for him. Moving to stand in front of the group, he saw them come to attention as they began to notice his approach, and he appreciated their gesture even as he knew that half of them would rather gut him than follow him. He also knew, however, that fear was the greatest motivator known to man and it was this which allowed him to sleep soundly at night. Well, that and the Westar-34 he kept under his pillow.
“Listen up Soulfire, we've got a mission. Now, as you know we've been chosen to go with the team that's going to be finding a cure for whatever the hell is happening to the Clan's Cythrauls and for this mission we will be posted on the Nighthawk. Read up on hostile boardings during action and get ready, because someone clearly thinks that the crap's gonna hit the fan if they're sending us. Drel, you have the pilot's chair, take us over to our temporary home.”
Waving the squad towards the shuttle that stood behind them, Nadrin observed the group and was amused to see Andrelious puff up with pride at being given the piloting role, although the choice was essentially a no-brainer. Some of the squad he knew well, others were new arrivals that he was looking forward to moulding into a deadly part of his team, but for now he was confident in his team's ability to handle the mission at hand as he followed them up the ramp and onto the shuttle.
“We're here Ter, you can get going now.”
“Understood, Teroch out.”
Nadrin put his commlink back on his belt as he turned back to the squad that had finally finished filtering out of the shuttle and had lined themselves up.
“We were given the hangar to use as a sort of base, but feel free to explore the ship and do what you want. Just try not to break anything, and if anyone gives you any hassle point them towards me. I'll be on the bridge and I'll let you know as and when anything comes up, dismissed.”
Try and leave us in the hangar while you swank around on your shiny new ship? I don't think so.
With that Nadrin set off out of the hangar and into the Nighthawk proper, a mischievous grin mercifully hidden by the mask he wore as he went to look for the bridge and, hopefully, Teroch.
A bloodthirsty klaxon blared over the noise of the hundreds of bodies bustling with war-tempered efficiency around the hangar, signaling the departure of the shuttle along with a blast of heated air. No one so much as flinched, not a flicker or a jump of nerves in any of the people moving, clockwork, militant, around the room. Neither did she.
They were all too accustomed to this routine by now. War was breathing. A few months’ peace shaken off as easy as rain from overburdened clouds: easy, almost soothing. This was normal, simple, not the messy difficulty of settling back into a civilian role after a year of battle.
Atyiru found some small part of herself mollified, a tension between her shoulders lifting. Relief. She crushed it quickly, along with the accompanying sickness at the thought of more fighting, and arranged her features into calm assurance.
The Miraluka pivoted on her heel and made her way back into the base proper, stopping at every group of their people she came close to, directing preparations. As she drew closer to the exit, she noticed one bright presence hovering in the doorway, a displaced figure amidst the sea of rote activity, tinged with unsurety. Atyiru recognized one of their newer additions, and smiled as she approached.
“Verse Theris.” The woman greeted her fellow Krath. “Feeling a bit at a loss, my friend?” She asked gently, sensing the confusion under the Hapan’s quiet, composed exterior. “We are, perhaps, slightly more used to the melee than you may be, but you will find a place here, I assure you.”
There was a delicate pause, weighted and assessing.
“Lady Aedile.” The Jedi Hunter replied, her voice soft, lilting, much more noticeable than their Consul’s. There was a confident, stiff emphasis on the title, and Atyiru could not discern if it was a product of the accent or actual pride. “I am certain I will grow well-accustomed.”
The words were quite deliberately chosen, each with careful selection. The Hapan was by no means answering her, but was speaking for herself, and hardly with any obvious ambition. Atyiru found her lips curling higher.
“I’m sure you will, my political friend.” Atyiru said warmly. “Come, walk with me, if you like.”
There was another pause before Verse gave a feathery affirmative at length. The pair left the hangar and proceeded down the hall, the Hapan remaining silent as Atyiru took a moment to pull out a personal datapad and send a few messages.
They were nearly to the armory by the time Atyiru spoke. “Invictus found you, did he not? Over Ziost?”
“Yes, Aedile, he did.”
“Atyiru, please, my friend.” The Miraluka corrected offhandedly. “Verse, you are by no means beholden to me, as one of Timeros’ charges, but we could use your expertise with Hapes groundside, and I would be honored to have you join our team for this operation. I’ve just requested Invictus’ presence, if knowing your Master will be present makes you any more comfortable.” She paused, coming to a stand-still before the armory door, turning to the Hapan woman. “However, I would not ask you to hurt your own people. If you do not wish to move against them in any way, I will not require it of you, and I will protect that refusal to the best of my ability. It is your choice.”
Again, a stretch of silence. Atyiru waited, holding in a shallow breath.
“We are planning a ground assault as well? Surprising. I had assumed they would simply blast Hapes from the sky. Arcona, that is.” Verse said instead, her calculating tone offset by her polite diction. “Well, you've more experience than I.”
Atyiru exhaled, tilting her head with a grin. “Yes, that may make more sense were we intending an assault; but we don't, in fact, intend to destroy the place. It's more of a raid, for the medicine, and treasure, if you’re feeling dramatic.” She chuckled. “Pirate days come again.”
“...Very well then. If my mind is of use to you, I shall, but of course, provide for the Clan.”
“So be it.” Motioning her along, Atyiru ushered the Journeyman into their armory. “We will leave soon for the Darkest Night, as soon as I’ve rounded everyone up...ah! Socks!” The Aedile called suddenly, her smile brimming. She waved at the Human headed their way.
“Atty. Frakkin’ good to see ya, girl!” Socorra exclaimed with her natural swagger, clasping the Miraluka in a quick, tight hug that Atyiru returned.
“I’d say good to see you too, but...” Atyiru laughed, leaving the joke implied. She eased back from her friend, sombering. “Thank you for joining us, my dear. It will be a relief to have your support.”
A klaxon rang out again, a punctual reminder of the business at hand. The Aedile waited for it to quiet before addressing the two women. “You ladies already know one another, so I’ll leave off introductions and just hurry us all on out of here. We’re taking the next shuttle out and rendezvousing with Invictus, Cethgus, and the rest of our unit aboard the Darkest Night. Get any equipment you need, finish any preparations, and meet me back in the hangar in fifteen minutes. Understood?”
“Of course, Aedile.”
Atyiru almost laughed aloud at the sheer disparity between the two affirmatives. She controlled the impulse, though, and nodded. “Good, I’ll see you there.”
The Miraluka left, the echo of the klaxons chasing her down the corridor, soldiers and workers scrambling by. Her hand settled unconsciously, assuringly on her lightsaber hilt, and she thought, in rapid succession, of all her friends, hesitating longer on a few: Nath, Kordath, Timeros, the other Entars, Kooki...Cethgus...Marick…Uji…
“Ashla, Bogan, please give us a win this time, will you?” Atyiru muttered, walking on.
The alarms kept ringing.
The last few weeks had passed so quickly. In a relatively short space of time, this once lost Krath had since found her home and a Clan in which her friends were more like family, she had risen to Knighthood, found a companion AND suffered a few broken ribs. All part of the adventure and lifelong learning upon her.
It felt like only yesterday that Kooki had embarked upon on the vendetta with her fellow Arconans, and here she was about to participate in yet another mission. Although, to Kooki it felt like all she was doing was saving a few ill canines, yet she knew it would hold more sentimentality to others, and it meant uniting with her brothers and sisters in arms.
Kooki looked around excitedly and all the preparation for departure was giving her a rush of adrenaline. Her Battleteam Leader, Kordath seemed eager to get going, despite his own reservations about the event ahead. His paralanguage depicted that he was feeling uneasy, and only participating for the sake of it. Members of Galeres surrounded her, spread out throughout the ship, all deeply engaged in conversations with one another about what lie ahead. Amongst them Kooki spotted her Master and other Arconans, including Cethgus whom she hadn’t seen since their spar a short time previously.
I suppose we ought get going thought Kooki to herself, “The sooner we leave, the sooner we can return.”
Just as she was deep in thought, a familiar face appeared. Fellow team member Ood Bnar was approaching nearby to where she was stood. Before she could stop herself, she began venting at the poor Neti.
“This whole mission is a waste of frakking time!!” Kooki began complaining. “Why are we even bothering for the sake of a few measly dogs?”
“Miss Mimosa, none of us particularly want to be doing this mission, but it’s something we just have to do, and besides, it shouldn’t take us that long,” replied Ood.
Upon hearing this, Kooki sighed and realised there was no going back. This was what she signed up to do. No one said it was going to be easy or fun. So utilising her proficient skill of subterfuge, Kooki just buried her negative apprehensions, smiled and prepared for departure.
“Airlock is sealed. Hangar is closed. All personnel aboard. We’re ready when you are, Captain.” Uji reported as Teroch and Arcia came from the turbolift back onto the bridge.
“Good. Kalon, take us out.”
The two commanding officers took up their stations; Teroch facing out over the galactic display on the command podium, and Arcia to his left, at the operations console. To his right, Uji quietly conversed with Dusk Station’s traffic control, and for the first time, the Agave-class picket Nighthawk moved. The engines hummed beneath the decks like a Cythraul’s purr as Kalon pulled the craft from its berth, turned it gracefully through 180 degrees, then slowly accelerated towards the opening bay doors. Unsatisfied with the view, Teroch left his station and jogged up to the cockpit, where Kalon was busy pretending the Navigation Officer didn’t exist. The youth slapped his pilot upside the head.
“Ow! What was that for?!”
“Be nice.” Teroch chided as he leant over the pilot’s chair and stared out of the viewport at the vista before them. Selen stretched out below Dusk station, and there was a flurry of activity to the Nighthawk’s port, where the Nebula-class Star Destroyer Invicta and the Bothan Assault Carrier Darkest Night were both preparing for departure. Why the Consuls always insisted on taking the Invicta rather than their flagship, the Eye of the Abyss was a mystery to Teroch.
Probably something to do with it being all shiny and new, never mind the fact that the Abyss could kick the Invicta’s shebs in a fight. Stupid aruetiise.
“Shall I move into formation?” Kalon asked, his hands dancing over the flight controls as he brought the ship up to speed.
“No...let’s run a few tests of the systems. Plot a micro-jump to Sukhur’s orbit and engage as soon as you have a solution.”
As Teroch proceeded back down towards the Bridge, Kalon’s voice rang out over the shipwide intercom.
“All hands, brace for transition to FTL. Roughly seven seconds after initial jump, we’ll be de-canting, so, uh, brace for that too.”
Shaking his head ruefully, Teroch grinned at Arcia, who rolled her eyes at Kalon’s lack of comm discipline.
“I can’t believe you picked him to fly the Hawk.”
Teroch shrugged. “In a snubfighter, he’s above average. Not the best I’ve seen, but he’s solid. But with larger ships like this, that still have some legs on them...Oh, Arc, he makes them dance. You saw the simulator runs.”
“Yeah, but sims are one thing. Real life is another. Are you sure he’ll be able to keep his cool under pressure?”
Before they could respond, the ship bucked beneath them as it entered Hyperspace. A few seconds later, it decanted.
“Confirm position.” the youth ordered, staring at the galactic display. Obligingly, it zoomed in to the Dajorra system, and their position relative to Sukhur was highlighted.
“Confirmed. We’re in a geostationary orbit above the Blight. Hyperdrive and Nav-comp both working at peak efficiency.” Arcia answered immediately.
“Good. Raise shields, charge up the cannons and target the nearest bit of space debris in range.”
Arcia moved from the operations console to the tactical console, as their Barabel weapons officer was still performing a sweep of the ship. “Target acquired. Defunct satellite with deteriorating gradual orbit loss, roughly two klicks dead ahead. Positive lock with both turbolasers and three of the four laser cannons.”
“Kalon, adjust our yaw to give the last cannon a positive solution.”
The ship shifted slightly. Almost immediately, Arcia sounded out again. “All six guns have a lock.”
There was a sound of cannons discharging simultaneously, combined with the staccato snare of the laser cannons, and the sensor display showing the satellite winked out almost immediately.
“How’re our power levels?”
Arcia shot an irritated look at Teroch, who merely grinned smugly back and watched as she jogged back from the tactical console to the operations one. “Reactor handling the strain of maintaining shields, engines, and weapons firing simultaneously. We’re using perhaps five percent of its total output. It’s going to take a lot more than that to stress that mother out.”
Before Teroch could respond, a voice called out behind him. “Well, you certainly showed that satellite. We’ll be unstoppable with this swanky credit-sink when faced with unmanned small orbital bodies. Bravo, ner’vod.”
“Shut up, di’kut. You’re just jealous.” The Adept replied, smiling as his brother, Nadrin, walked onto the bridge. The ever-present mask faced left, then right, taking in the oversized bridge. Before walking over to Ter, briefly giving him a hug.
“Flashy boat, but it still needs teeth.”
“She’ll surprise you. But, she’s not designed to fight. She’s built to avoid fights all together. Arcia, let’s run the final test.”
His XO nodded, and tapped in a few controls. The already dim lighting of the bridge dropped off completely, so the only illumination came from the consoles.
“What? Mood lighting? You’re going to set our enemies at ease with some jazz next?” Nadrin jibed.
“Status?” Teroch inquired.
“Full cloak achieved. Reactor still nominal.” Arcia added before the teenager could ask.
Teroch grinned wolfishly. “Good. De-activate cloak, plot a micro-jump back to Selen, and execute at will. Wouldn’t want Marick to think we ran off with the Nighthawk yet, would we?”
Maintaining his bearings, Kanis shouted, "Dzwol Châts Asha." to the young Templar's surprise, his entire Battle Team echoed him in his cry. "Alright Shadow Phyle, you heard the man... Get ready, play time’s over!” he looked over his team with a scowl plastered onto his face. “Do what you need to prepare, make it quick, I expect Individual reports from each cell, no exceptions. Slip ups will be dealt with harshly, do I make myself clear?” he asked. “Yes, Tetrarch!” shouted the Tyro. “If any of you miss the deployment… So help me…” he muttered in a tone just loud enough for his team to make out. “Meet back here in an hour, brownie points to the cell that makes it back in half that.”
After making his announcement, the Coruscanti left the area headed back to his apartment to gear up. Pulling out his Datapad he mapped out the quickest route to and from his apartment, after issuing such a challenge to his team, he had to lead by example and beat them back. It wouldn’t look good if he was the last of his Battle Team to arrive.
“Come on Kanis, what’s the surprise?” K’ara’s words still echoed in his mind, this was one of the few memories that didn’t torment him, her death crippled him. But it also opened a new door for him to walk through, but who's to say she’s entirely gone? That is when his mind drifted back to the Sunken Sarlacc, the light he’d seen or at least, thought he’d seen.
The Equite unlocked the door to his apartment and rushed to his bedroom, he quickly dropped out of his Shadeborn armor and began suiting up in his Patriarch battle attire. Once he’d completely changed he clipped his saber hilt to his utility belt and sighed as he exited his bedroom. He made sure to lock the door to his apartment before he set off to the rally point at more than a quickened pace.
It took her moments to decide on her destination. Anger had been bubbling away for months, perhaps a discreet word would be enough. Internally she laughed; probably not.
Her thoughts had been so deep she hadn't realized her feet had taken her to her destination. Luckily Naradas had yet to enter his office and it afforded her a moment to collect her thoughts. Time seemed to move quickly, however, she barely noticed the Human walk through the entrance.
Thus far the conversation had been going as expected, the man was nothing if not predictable in some responses. It took much self control to not physically bristle at the mention of her deceased Master, a slight pang of mourning crossed her heart, her mind quickly let it go; she couldn't let it show.
"I decided I wanted to keep his head. I found the majority of it too, minus a few teeth. Zakath was buried, that much you saw to, since you blew up a station with his remains still within. A bit dramatic for my tastes, however, it was your show after all."
Naradas reclined back slightly in his chair, he studied the woman before him and couldn't help but wonder how insane she was. Her devotion had ran deeper than he believed, that much had become evident. He had studied the texts left behind. Zakath had not been the kindest of Masters, by all rights she should be dead after some of the experiments he had conducted. If he was honest, the one he had cooked up for Zakath could have killed her.
"That's a bit morbid even for you, Nath." His eyes glanced to the screen of the computer as he spoke. The upload of new data at least was running at optimal so he would not have to wait long before he could begin sifting through to find people of interest.
"My business is mine alone, if you dislike it I suggest you stop spying on me. I have no interest in you, or revenge. It may wound your ego but I have better things to do with my time." Nath shrugged her shoulders slightly, uncaring if he believed her or not before continuing without pause to get to the crux of the visit.
"I believe it would be quicker if we worked together to pick out individuals of interest through the data that is currently uploading. If you wish I can assist, if not I will find some other useful occupation." The Iridonian waited for the Human's response, her hands clasped behind her back as she stared down at Naradas. He could see his own reflection in her eyes, finding it disconcerting how little Nath blinked as she observed him.
Galeres House Team
BAC Darkest Night
Cethgus stood on the bridge of the Darkest Night as his eyes scanned the area, noting how their preparations seemed ready. His eyes dropped down briefly to the metal floor of the bridge, a smirk crossing his lips, before he glanced quickly back up. His mind wandered from the task at hand, however, as a cough to grabbed his attention. He spun sharply around to face the culprit.
“Sir, we have confirmation that the Aedile and the other members of the House have made their way aboard the ship.” One of the Cruiser’s soldiers said, his voice calm and serious as he addressed the Quaestor.
“Good. Summon the House to the hanger, I wish to address them.” He replied evenly as the man moved away to follow his orders. The Primarch watched as he left before his eyes caught the attention of his student.
“You will stay at my side for most of this, but for now, I must go address the House.” He said, watching as his student only nodded at that moment in time, knowing better than to reply. Saying little else, he turned on his heel and headed towards the bridge bulkhead, going to exit, when something soft smacked into his chest. He heard something clatter to the ground, and he allowed his eyes to fall down onto the figure that bumped into him.
“K’tana. I might have guessed as much.” He commented, his voice showing a hint of annoyance. Not even offering to help her get up, he stepped over her and continued his walk, only to stop a few feet down the corridor, calling back. “I expect to see you in the hanger, do not be late”
“‘I expect to see you in the hanger, do not be late’, right-o, Ceth.” Her petulant voice mimicked him briefly until his glare shot her into silence. She winced slightly, remembering their last encounter, and unthinkingly, her hand went to her ribs as she stood. The violet Twi’lek watched them go, the bulking mass of the Quaestor heading towards the hanger, trailed by his student who seemed hurried to not get involved.
Men moved simply out of the way as Cethgus walked down the corridor, knowing the temper that lingered underneath his calm look. As he entered the hanger, he saw the gathering in front of him, and waved Lexi off so she could join the group as well. His eyes fell onto Socorra, who was stood chatting away with Atyriu, and another female. The Iridonian pondered for a moment before realizing it was Verse. Shrugging it off, he approached the group, giving the Herald’s Praetor a slight nod as a sign of respect.
“Ready, Atyriu?” He asked, his voice gone cold as he addressed his sister.
“For any and always, dear Brother.” Atty replied, stepping to his side.
“Good, let’s get this started then.” With that, he allowed himself to walk to the head of the crowd that had been summoned to his attention, flanked by Atyriu on his right and Kordath on his left. The three of them positioned themselves in front of the rest of the group as silence lingered for a fleeting moment.
He kept it brief. “We are about to set off towards our destination. We will keep you informed, but for now, know that once more we serve our House and Clan. Dark Forge will be here to make sure that everything goes smoothly, and Galeres will also be present with some additional faces from Arete. Our aim is simple: complete the mission. No-one gets left behind or forgotten. We all come home as a unit. We will be with the Nighthawk and the Invicta, providing support and defense. For now, we are prepared to enter hyperspace and our journey will begin shortly. Dismissed.” With that, he watched the group begin to break up in front of him, his eye catching on a particular figure.
“Kookimarissia, a word.” The Quaestor said, stopping the Knight in her tracks, Lexi and Atyiru at his side as he walked towards her.
“Yes?” She seemed nervous, and had every right to be, knowing full well that the Quaestor had no reason to talk to her.
“I want to make it clear that if I see any form of your and Andrelious’ relationship taking effecting this mission, then I will be swift to make sure neither of you come back f--.”
“Check your tongue, Brother.” Atyiru interruped coolly, that hard edge to her he’d observed recently showing itself. ”You will not make threats to our members, least of all on a matter where you could be equally implicated. Do not be such a hypocrite or a callous fool. Kooki, disregard him. Go find Dark Forge. Now.”
The Knight practically ran.
Snorting slightly, Cethgus walked off, heading back towards the bridge of the ship, noticing that the corridor was empty but for them. Quick as a flash, the Quaestor’s temper got the better of him and he spun around, pinning his Aedile to the wall of the ship by her throat as he snarled at her.
“You never undermine me again.” He roared. “Once this House is yours, fine, but until that day remember your place. Am I clear?” His voice boomed down the corridor as he tightened his grip on Atyiru.
“Clear as the stars in the sky, Lord Quaestor.” She hissed back at him, drawing on limited air. “Allow me to return the favor: regardless of where I stand, I will not let you hurt one of our House.” Her voice grew weaker. “Now let go...of me...and control yourself.”
Cethgus growled and dropped her mercilessly. The trio moved on, and though it was clear that the Iridonian was still annoyed, he shrugged it off. They entered the bridge and he took his spot in the middle of the command deck, standing ready.
Battleteam Dark Forge
Walking out of the shuttle onto the Darkest Night, Anduriel couldn’t help but feel a ting of excitement at what would be happening in the futuredays and battles to come. This was his first independent mission as a Knight in full, and he felt energized and eager to spill some blood.
The first thing he noticed was the sheer size of the hanger bay, it was big, black, and emanated efficiently dealt death. He felt intimidation and awe flowing through him as he looked around. He’d seen some big ships in his lifetime at Worlport city and the Brotherhood, but this time he felt he was entering a whole new level of war and firepower. He could see workers bustling around and setting up various shuttles and fighters for travel and outfitting them for the battles to come.
After getting his bearings, he began to move away from the shuttle towards the main entrance doors, the boots of his heavy Mandalorian armor thudding on the deck with each footstep. On his way he recognized two familiar faces walking towards him, a fellow member of his battle team.
“Kooki!” Andy called out while grinning, “I didn’t realize I warranted a welcoming party. I’m touched.”
Kooki just gave him an unamused look, Someone’s not in the mood for humor right now. Guess this whole setup for battle has gotten to some people. Andy made a mental note to himself to watch for anybody else missing a sense of humor.
“Sargeant Kordath wanted to see you. He’s in his office right now. You should probably go see him right away.”
The Mantellian nodded, planning out the fastest route to his Sargeant’s office in his mind as soon as he heard the message. Right before he could even respond, he saw Kooki turn around to walk away, clearly with other matters on her mind.
Raising an eyebrow he called out, “Well, thanks! Don’t offer to give me the tour or anything.”
He began moving quickly down the winding halls of the ship, moving quickly towards the designated door. Even with his carbine rifle and heavy mandalorian armor he moved with a practiced swiftness and dexterity, sidestepping any obstacles or passerbys as he walked. Reaching the door, he paused to make sure he was at the right one before just stepping inside without prior warning or knocking.
“Anduriel, reporting for duty, sir. Your newbie is here and his body is ready,” The Dark Knight stood straight at attention and snapped off a quick salute.
Kordath stared at him before quirking one eyebrow.
BAC Darkest Night
Verse stared hard out at the blackness of space. She found nothing particularly interesting within the vast expanse, but nonetheless focused her rapt gaze on a passing speck of space debris. Leaning against one of the larger viewing ports on the observation deck, the Hapan had one clammy hand pressed against the interior acrylic, the other clutching her gut. She had hoped that looking out the viewport would help calm her churning stomach. It so far had not proven well. Verse contemplated locating the nearest refresher.
Her inner battle was interrupted by a presence to her rear. The Journeyman lifted her gaze from the viewport and turned to find a familiar Miraluka.
“Something I can help with?” Atyiru inquired, closing in nearer to the Hapan, voice full of compassion. “You seem unwell.”
The other female pursed her lips and renewed the pressure on her protesting intestines with her hand, wondering specifically how the Aedile came to the conclusion about her condition. A sense of humiliation washed over the Hapan as Verse suddenly realized she had been attempting to make eye contact with Atyiru’s colorful facial scarf. Cheeks reddening, she tore her gaze to the floor plates. Where was she supposed to look?
The Aedile chuckled airly. “It is alright,” she assured, although Verse was unsure whether the remark was addressing her stare or her starship-sickness. Atyiru continued, “This past day has been.. intense. You are not alone in your feeling.”
Verse sucked a breath of air through her teeth. “It is not this.” She began, clearly enunciating her consonants with Hapan lilt. “The last time I was…” the Hapan’s voice wavered. She had been going to tell Atyiru of her troubled venture aboard the slavers’ rickety cruiser that had brought her to the Brotherhood. It was not the first time Verse had become sickened with those thoughts.
“Go on?” Atyiru teetered on her ankles, as if she were a leaf blowing like the wind. Her tone, though, was patient as stone.
The Journeyman looked back up to the Miralukan’s head wrap with some hesitation. “Just thoughts of home.” As soon as the words left the Hapan’s lips, a tinge of adrenaline tingled up her spine, assaulting her already-soured stomach. “My former home.” Verse clarified sharply. While she refused to let herself dig for details, she knew that her sisters and the rest of her Hapan traveling companions had met a cruel end in a brig somewhere on a Arconan ship. The Journeyman was still anxious that fate could be her own, too, if she did not continue to show unwavering allegiance to her Clan.
The Aedile now stood still, one hand tugging at the collar of her medic’s uniform. She seemed to consider for a moment before spreading her arms and replying with a seasoned grace, “You do not need to feel shame for where you come from.” She continued, resolutely, “This mission is not intended to do harm to you. I meant what I said before.”
“Yes, and I thank you for this.” Verse replied. She rocked on her heels, unsure of what to make of the Aedile’s assurance, and how far she should trust it.
“You still are looking unwell. Would you like to come with me down to Med Bay? I am certain we could find something to ease your stomach.” Atyiru cocked her head somewhat stiffly, ushering to one of the doors on the observation deck.
“I.. I actually think I will find a refresher, for now. A sonic shower may benefit me most at this moment, Lady Aedile.” Verse responded, with a touch of levity intended to ease the seemingly concerned Miraluka.
“Very well. You will find one down that hall there,” Atyiru explained with a soft smile as she motioned with a wave of a petite hand, “The fourth door on the right side, I believe.”
Verse seemed eager to scamper off, but with restraint she stood in one place and spoke, “Much gratitude, Lady Aedile.”
The Journeyman awaited her senior to give a nod of dismissal before she began heading in the prescribed direction. The airy voice behind her caused her to stop short and look back at the Miraluka, still standing near the viewport where the pair had been conversing.
“Come find me if you change your mind about Med Bay.”
Verse nodded earnestly back in the Atyiru’s direction, before hurrying away down the hall.
Adi Ka' Taramas
Adi started looking around the room at all the members of Shadow Phyle and her eyes shifted to two of its members Marrek Gunstinson and Adam Bolera. She didn't know Marrek that well but knew that he was a pretty good shooter and would make for a great partner. Adam she knew nothing at all about but was willing to partner up with him as well. She didn't mind being partners with either of them for she was good at getting along with everyone. She made friends quite easy and was willing to give teaming up with them a shot. Seeing that she was on a time schedule she started off to the apartment to get ready.
Once back at the apartment she unlocked the door and went to her room. Finding her Katana that Kanis had given her when she became Dark Jedi Knight she hooked it to her belt. She remembered the day she got it like it was just yesterday. "I am proud to give you this, I had it specially crafted for such an event." She had been so excited when she received it she didn't even know what to say. She was completely caught off guard when he gave it to her. She grabbed her light saber and clipping it to her belt as well. She left after locking the apartment and made her way back to the rally point as fast as she could. She didn't want to be the last to get there for she knew that Kanis would be furious with her if she were the last to arrive.
House Galeres Team
Lexi looked at the Quaestor after his conflict with the Adile, an explosive one to say the least. Watching him cautiously knowing fully well that she was witnessing a small bust up and one that seemed to be dropped instantly as the two of them stood on the Bridge of the Darkest Night Darkest Night.
Lexi still seemed slight concerned after witnessing the outburst from the Quaestor, she assumed it had forced Atyiru to take leave from the bridge.
Lexi shuffled her feet beside her master quietly, she exhaled softly as if to steal her resolve, “Master, why are we going in force to Hapes?” Hoping she has not overstepped her boundaries with him.
“Its the Cythral’s they are coming down with something. We are going to find answers” his voice calm as he looked out of the bridge his attention turns fully to Lexi as he looked at her.
Lexi regarded him for a moment, the Cythral’s were like fellow clans mates yes, but to mobilize nearly everything they had for something that a research team could easily handle meant something else. “Coming down with? Or purposely infected with?” It was her natural Inquisitor self that sought clarification. After she said it she bit her lip hoping again she was not overstepping her boundaries. She remembered Atyriu up against the wall of the ship. Vividly remembered it.
Cethgus rubbed his temples knowing full well she was worried, as he turned around to face her fully his eyes staring at her. “I don’t know, but for this issue will require a delicate touch to it that much I know, for now though Lexi we can only hope we are doing the right thing…..I am sorry you had to witness what happened earlier”
She smiled almost giggled at the “delicate touch” part of the explanation, nearly half the Clan was on battle alert this was a delicate touch? She bit her lip to keep the smart ass remark and giggle back, as she did not want to seem flippant toward him. When he apologized for what she saw all of her musing went completely away. She nodded to him as to say thank you and I understand. Feeling that body language would be best at the moment.
“Right, I think that we sorted that out, lets focus on the task at hand Lexi, did you bring all of your gear you will need?” his voice calm as if nothing happened as he turned back away from his student.
She regarded him and the question, “I believe so it was placed in my quarters by me before I answered your summons to come here. I thought it best not to arrive and just throw down my duffle bag on the command bridge.” Getting a little of her sarcastic tongue back.
“Agreed, for now we wait” his voice calm as he gave her the instructions.
BAC Darkest Night
Atyiru waited until Verse’s lucid, graceful light retreaded far down the hallway, leaving her alone in the observation port, before she pressed her back against the glass and let her legs give out. The Miraluka slid down to the floor, sagging forward, limp arms propped on the soft tissue of her thighs, hands pressed over her face.
Her head throbbed, sharp metallic spikes in the base of her skull that radiated out like a flush of boiling water, cooling into a more tepid, deep aching by the time it reached her temples. She sighed and once again fought off the unconscious action of drawing on the Force to alleviate the pain. It would do nothing more. She had already healed the physical and chemical damages her brief asphyxiation had caused; this was psychological.
“Ashla and Bogan save me from myself.” The Miraluka murmured tiredly, mentally shutting away the memories of the earlier confrontation. She would—hopefully—have time to evaluate it later. Right now, they were mobilizing for war, and she needed to be leading her House at her Quaestor’s side, not gallivanting around the ship, chasing down sick people.
Still, Cethgus’ frigid voice haunted her, echoing in each of the drum-beats inside her head…
“…Have you considered…
… You ripped lovers apart in the Crusade, broke hearts, brought sadness to many…
… All because of a swing of your saber…
… your violence and hate…
… Strange to see the medic becoming the warrior…
…to see her letting men and women die under her for bloodlust…
… How can you sleep at night?...
… You are still disposable…
…remember your place!...”
The Priestess stood violently, pushing herself away from the window and striding out of the room. She needed to find her calm and focus.
Atyiru let herself fall into the familiar breathing patterns normally reserved to meditation as she walked the Darkest Night’s halls. She cast her mind out, anchoring herself in all the lights around her. She lingered on each of them for a brief moment, not too close, but there, like a mother at her door, gazing at her children playing. She unfolded single threads from the tapestry, finding her comrades, one by one, all the bright specks among the legion of dimmer souls…
And she could breathe easier. She felt her lips tremble into a smile. She exhaled slowly, and drew herself up, shoulders wide, the pain in her skull and the ache of her neck forgotten. As quickly as it had come, her upset bout was reigned in. Later, if it came, was the time for it. Now, there was work to be done.
The Aedile stepped into an elevator, nodding to the guards outside it, and pulled out her datapad as it began its ascent back up to bridge level. She brought up various contacts and typed rapid-fire, sending out several messages within a few seconds of each other, relaying orders and making inquiries and placing reminders.
The elevator slowed to a halt, gently lifting her stomach into the general and cramped vicinity of her lungs. The Miraluka stepped out and made her way down the hall, towards bridge command, already able to feel the volatile aura of her brother’s presence ahead.
She passed an adjacent hallway, and voices carried to her sensitive ears from a pair of Arcona’s soldiers further down.
“…Hapes cluster I heard…bett…going to get killed! Th…”
“Like they care…jus…to them…”
The remaining snatches of conversation faded into more garble as the men turned a corner and walked away. The Aedile paused, a deep, worried frown creasing her features. She bit her lip, reviewing what little she knew about their upcoming departure.
The Hapes Consortium was a powerful body, with one of the Galaxy’s strongest militant forces behind it, and with a Jedi-minded Queen at their head. Arcona, meanwhile, was one clan of Force-users, just-returned from a completely and utterly exhaustive war, treading blindly where they did not belong. The Hapes cluster was full of light; there would be few dark places for the Shadow Clan to hide here. She found herself envying the Nighthawk’s much-praised stealth capabilities. For all the strength the Darkest Night posed, the smaller ship was probably their best bet, and probably carried the most likely survivors.
And yet she had to believe—did believe—that that was enough.
Atyiru hesitated just outside the door to the bridge. She brought out her datapad again, only having to tick through a handful of names to find Uji’s. Typing briefly, she sent one more message, then stowed the device, smoothed out her expression, and advanced confidently and calmly onto the deck.
The Miraluka did not need to see to know her Quaestor’s eyes slid over her like a knife at the throat, sharp and adamant. His anger was a dangerous thing, but it cooled quickly, lava to immovable stone. He would not forgive her insubordinate outburst, nor would she his behavior; but they were still a team, and they would not be daunted.
“Takes more than a little rough play to drive me off, dearie.” Atyiru commented, pitching her voice lighter than her heart felt, forcing the routine humor. She pulled together a patient smile for Lexi, inclining her head to the Human at the Primarch’s side.
Cethgus merely grunted at her. Atyiru sighed a little, feeling a tiny flush of relief. Obstinate as ever. At the very least, they were both excellent at playing their parts together.
“We leave soon. Prepare yourself.” The Iridonian said shortly, voice cold and calm.
The Aedile nodded. “It shall be done. Remember to prepare yourself as well.”
And stay safe. She added silently, repeating that final, too-short message she’d sent.
Please, stay safe.
With the cloaking device now deactivated, Kalon had a better view of the controls as well as the rest of the deck behind him. He noticed his Navigation Officer was also tapping on his control panel, but the Mandalorian did not need to ask what he was doing, confident that the Iridonian was performing his task as efficiently as he could.
“Powering up the FTL drive, you know the drill.” The Helmsman said over the intercom, hands darting over the flight consoles. Instinctively he flicked the correct switches and sure enough, he could feel the ship below him begin to vibrate as the engines powered up to the next level.
The sudden jolt and subsequent force of the ship’s jump caused Kalon to be pushed down into his seat, the comfortable furnishing absorbing a lot of the impact without causing any damage to the Templar’s body.
“Better than those standard-issue seats I’ve had to use on transports.” He mumbled to himself, watching through the glass as the large silhouette of a planet began to rush up and greet them.
With expert timing, Kalon pulled back on one of the chunky flight levers to his right, instantly slowing the ship down to a halt. With a smirk, the Mandalorian took note that they were almost in the same position that they had been in before their jump to Sukhur, with Dusk station below them and both the BAC Darkest Night and NSD Invicta nearby.
Pressing a button, the Obelisk spoke into the communication unit once again.
“Captain. The jump was successful, energy readings are green across the board.”
After several seconds of silence Teroch answered.
“Good, move into formation with the rest of our ships. Uji, establish communication with the two vessels.”
The link went dead as Kalon guided the Nighthawk towards the much larger Arconan capital ships. He had swiftly grown accustomed to flying the expensive Picket, noting that the kick and feel of the vessel was much unlike the simulators that he had trained in over the past month.
As the vessel approached the waiting Star Destroyer and Assault Cruiser, the Mandalorian took in for the first time just how large those ships actually were. Despite having served tours of duty amongst both of them, he had set eyes upon each vessel from up close.
“Well that makes me feel insignificant.” He mused, allowing himself a brief chuckle. Kalon shifted in his seat, his armour not at all making him feel constricted. He had placed his helmet under the seat, bringing it with him as a precaution against the extremely unlikely chance of being boarded by hostiles in the upcoming Operation.
Uji glanced up and took note of the new-comer to the operations center, Nadrin Erinos Arconae stood beside Teroch exchanging friendly banter as though they were preparing to sit and watch a game of Huttball. Scanning across the operations center the calm presence of two of the most powerful members of Galeres had its effect, the entire crew seemed to relax even though each of them knew the danger they were flying into.
Turning back to the console Uji focused on his task, Teroch had brought him aboard to do more then act as a communication officers. the former Sentinel and now Magistrate had a quality that had forced Teroch’s hand in bringing him aboard. The Templar was a strategist and a damned good one at that, the fact that he now served as the Aedile’s advisor, continued to serve as a Magistrate to a Dark Councillor, and had moved so quickly threw the Brotherhood’s ranks were all proof his ability to align events to meet his goals.
Uji brought up every screen available and focused his mind to eliminate the hum of conversation around him. The monitors flickered between different reports each one having made some mention of the Hapes Cluster, ranging from Consortium politics, daily news, trade negotiations, and the like. The computer was already running an algorithm Celahir had helped Uji to design. It would process and eliminate any insubstantial information, and provide any reports that illustrated the current diplomatic affairs, military movement, or mention of the Cynthrall’s sickness.
He barely noticed the drop out of hyperspace, the pieces coming together in his mind as he calculated possibilities, gathered information on key players throughout Hapes, names, positions, ranks, worlds, known smugglers, everything coming together into a pattern he could recognize.
“What the hell is that disaster supposed to be?” Arcia’s voice broke his concentration,she stood above him, he hadn’t even noticed her approach.
Perhaps I’m as bad as the rest, growing relaxed when surrounded by Dark Jedi all capable of killing me at a moments notice.
“This is what I was brought aboard to do Arcia, as Teroch and you are both aware, if we attempt to engage the Hapan Fleets directly we would be blessed with a death barely remembered for our arrogance. We need another way into the Consortium to complete our mission, and I plan to provide us with that way.” Glancing back at the Anaxian woman, his thoughts filtered through her personnel records, a former Jedi for a time like himself, the two of them had much in common, and yet without intention on eithers part a rivalry had begun to form between them.
“If you intend to send a report to Teroch like that, I will personally have you thrown down with the Iridonian woman we keep below engineering. Clean it up, have it on my desk before we finish our jump into Hapes.” The challenge in Arcia’s eyes was clear and he well knew that she would have Naradas follow through with the threat.
Turning back to his work Uji glanced down at the message that appeared on his monitor the, two words standing out in his mind, and cementing why it was he had accepted the position aboard the Nighthawk
“I intend to stay out of harms way Atyiru, and keep as many of these people alive while doing so.”
“Good, move into formation with the rest of our ships. Uji, establish communication with the two vessels.” Teroch gave the order while he glanced down at his two officers, feigning disinterest as he watched their personalities clash before Arcia returned and stood to his left. A small smirk crossing his features as he took a seat with his Brother taking position to his right. Kalon brought the Nighthawk alongside the Invicta opposite to the Darkest Night as they awaited the order to enter Hyperspace
“Sir, I’ve got comms up and we’re awaiting the go ahead from the Invicta. Did you want to address the crew?”
Celevon Edraven pulled on the mask he had started wearing only a month before after an Assassination target had taken her own life in a rather explosive manner. Verin Estale had grown paranoid after the second botched assassination attempt before the Templar had been called on. As soon as he entered the room, the woman had already been half dead from starvation and lack of sleep. Her autopsy had revealed heavy-doses of spice in her system purposely designed to keep someone alert and awake, though with the fallback that it was known to induce paranoia.
As soon as she had seen a figure near the office, Estale had activated a thermal detonator. Only the warning in the Force had saved the Assassin from being incinerated, surviving with only burns on his face. They had healed but Xathia had insisted on him wearing a durasteel mask any time he was away from their home following that incident.
Flipping the hood of his cloak up, the Onderonian slid his katana into the sheath on his back just as the door to his quarters slammed shut behind him. Celevon started walking towards the Hangar Bay before slowing to a stop, turning his head slightly. “I take it you have received the same orders that I have?”
Saskia Ortega stepped out of the shadows, her hazel eyes narrowed. “I will figure out how you always know where I am someday, Edraven. Even if I have to get your wife drunk to get said answers.”
“You don’t need to get her drunk. She will tell you without hesitation that it is one of the unexplainable annoyances about me,” the Templar smirked beneath the mask as he continued walking. He would have passed an admiring glance over the svelte Cirran, but the Archpriestess always wore the same ensemble since joining the Dark Brotherhood: a tight-fitted amethyst light armour bodysuit with orange trim and several plates of durasteel, knee high black leather boots and a silken black hape, with the hood drawn up.
Everything below the woman’s eyes was concealed by some the same fabric as the cape, though it was stretched across her lower face and neck. The Krath abruptly changed the subject. “Did you receive the same orders as I did? And how does everyone know that we’re acquainted?”
“In order: yes, I did; You may be very much adept at concealing your reactions, but your eyes must have revealed recognition or something when you saw me for the first time. What did your orders say?” Celevon asked, wishing he could light a cigarette. Unfortunately, that would have to wait until he got on the shuttle to remove his mask.
“‘Have Templar Edraven escort you to the Darkest Night and both of you meet with me in my Office upon arrival. -Knight Kordath Bleu d’Tana’.”
“Well, then. Let us be on our way,” the Onderonian said, increasing his pace.
Hallway outside of Battleteam Dark Forge Sergeant Office
BAC Darkest Night
The Obelisk knocked hard on the door, passing a glance to the woman at his side.
“Oh, what the hell has gone wrong now... Enter!”
“Someone clearly needs to assist that one. Seems a bit slow,” the Archpriestess snarked before Celevon opened the door and the pair stepped inside, shutting the door behind them.
“Right. Why are you two here?” the Ryn asked, going through a thick file. “Wait, don’t answer that... umm... yes, right,” Kordath muttered, clearly distracted as he looked up at the Assassins.
“Templar Edraven and Archpriestess Ortega reporting for duty, Knight d’Tana,” the Onderonian explained, his voice muffled by the mask whilst Saskia cocked her hip to the right, looking bored at the formalities.
“Welcome to Dark Forge. Go down to the Quartermaster and get outfitted. Mission briefing will be in two hours in the Battleteam Barracks.”
Naradas leaned back into his chair and considered the Iridonian in front of him thoughtfully, his fingers lacing together before he unconsciously cracked his knuckles, sending sharp popping noises out into the sudden silence of the room. At Nath's emotionless gaze, he smiled slightly before turning to his computer terminal, his fingers now dancing on the keyboard as he began to organize and transmit several files.
“I am forwarding the relevant information to your terminal.” Naradas said softly, his eyes now on the monitor. “I don't think you need to suffer through my presence any more than necessary.”
“I will contact you when I find something.” Nath inclined her head in response before returning to her at-attention pose.
Before Naradas could respond, his door slid open and Elim, his personal secretary, slipped through, walking swiftly to his master's side before bending down to whisper into his ear. “First security sweep is complete, no intruders or irregularities found so far, and the second sweep is under way. Also, your Soulfire guest is ready to be brought in.”
“Thank you, Elim.” Naradas gave him a nod. “Bring him in.”
“Yes sir.” He bowed slightly before spinning on his heels to leave.
“Nath, that will be all for now.” Naradas finally replied to Nath, returning his gaze to the Iridonian. “Thank you.”
Nath merely nodded again before turning to leave. Naradas watched her carefully now, a slight smile now touching his lips as she reached the door, only for it to slide open unexpectedly, revealing a short human male about to step through before jerking back slightly in surprise.
“Miss Voth.” Andrelious J. Inahj greeted in a cold voice, his lips twisting into a slight smirk. “How are you faring since your master's... unfortunate demise?”
The slight pause before unfortunate did not go unnoticed by either Nath or Naradas.
“It has been beneficial.” Nath replied, her voice equally icy. “Thank you for your inquiry.”
Before Andrelious could reply, Nath stepped through the door and was gone. Andrelious' twisted smile changed into a slight frown as he gazed back through the door before turning his attention to Naradas. “Greetings, Naradas.”
“Andrelious.” Naradas smiled as he rose to his feet, his hand extended in welcome. Andrelious quickly clasped it and shook warmly. “I'm glad my man found you. My apologies for the presence of the Iridonian, she was not expected to arrive in my office so quickly.”
“That's fine.” Andrelious nodded before gesturing to a chair. “May I?”
“Of course.” Naradas nodded as he took his own seat. “I apologize if I disrupted any initial plans you might have had, but I wanted to personally welcome you aboard the Nighthawk and to provide a guard to escort you to your new quarters. As I understand it, most of Soulfire will be based in the hangar for the duration of our voyage, but I took the liberty of securing some personal quarters for you. Small, but better furnished than what most of Soulfire will be residing in. A small token of my thanks for smoothing my passage into Arcona.”
"But where are my manners?" Naradas smiled slightly and pressed the intercom button on his desk. "Elim? Please bring in a glass of Corellian whiskey for me and a glass of Ebla beer for Andrelious."
"Yes sir, it will be just a minute." Elim's voice crackled over the intercom.
"Now then..." Naradas settled back into his chair. "How have you been?"
Adam quietly but quickly walked the halls of the Citadel, preparing to meet with Marrek in order to equip himself for the upcoming patrol. He was attempting to come to terms with what and where he was at the moment. Months he had spent learning in the Shadow Academy, with knowledge available to him that the Jedi would have kept from him for several years more. He fumbled at the open zipper of his flight jacket; he was uncertain of how he felt about what was to come. Here he was, preparing to trample an insurrection which he was unsure was just or not. Was his House everything the Jedi taught him that Dark Side adherents were? Were these people under the thumb of those who had taken him in when he was desperate, asking for nothing but his help in return? Was he about to perpetuate everything he had once sworn to end? What would Master Katherion think of him now? How would Sarna feel about him? The thought of disappointing her, of breaking her heart upon her learning of Adam’s new place in the galaxy made his stomach churn.
He stopped in the hallway, inhaled and exhaled slowly, in through the nose and out the mouth. Even in the dark he closed his eyes to remind himself to calm down. "No, I know that these people aren’t what I was trained to wipe from the galaxy. Dark Side or no, it does not define them. They have been nothing but good to me." Adam thought defiantly. He reminded himself of his almost constant state of surprise since Marrek brought him here, He thought back to the meeting only a few minutes earlier, when he last saw the entirety of Shadow Phyle, the people with whom he would soon establish a working relationship.
He recalled how Kanis carried himself during the briefing, the air of commanding confidence he put on in order to bring the group’s attention to him. He regarded each person in the room in a unique way, but only with his gaze as he verbally addressed them all in the same manner. Adam respected him, having watched Kanis train several times. He had no small sense of pride for having him as a leader. Kanis had met Adam’s gaze with what Adam had sensed to be intense curiosity. Kanis had given him a chance to prove himself to the rest of the order, and Adam was prepared to do what was necessary in order to survive. Survival was the thought that calmed him, the one that pulled him back out of getting lost in his circumstances and realizing what was important; learning the skills Master Katherion did not finish teaching him, becoming the Knight he was meant to be, and earning the freedom and means to roam the galaxy on his own terms. Kanis’s unspoken confidence in Adam reminded him of what he had set out to do with his life since his travels began.
Tracking Kanis’s gaze around the room led Adam to the familiarly scarred visage of Marrek, stoic as ever, quietly attending the briefing. Commentary from him was scarce, and he was a hard taskmaster in Adam’s mind. He’s nothing like Katherion was. Adam thought, then bit back his criticism. He missed his old master, his friend, protector and constant guide, but he was beginning to come to terms with the fact that his time with her was past. He had not forgotten that his honor still bound him to Marrek, his life still within the tall and taciturn Arconan’s hands. Adam admitted to himself that he was waiting to see Marrek in action, if nothing else he would have another opportunity to argue with him about the merits of Soresu. His penchant for blaster fire over anything else rubbed Adam a bit the wrong way; if he was to be trained, he wanted a master swordsman directing his learning. Still, he felt what resembled a friendship from his master beginning to form, and started to believe that he really did have a place among these Dark Jedi, however different they were from what Adam expected.
Towards the end of the meeting, Adam observed someone who was apparently an old apprentice of Kanis’s; Adi. He hadn’t seen many Cathar in his travels, and certainly never met with one in person. She was a curious sight; silky chocolate-brown fur in place of skin, long and elegantly braided hair of the same color, and the oddly haunting cat-like green of her eyes, to say nothing of the unnerving slits the pupils of which would occasionally converge into. Still, Adam sensed little aggression or darkness in the cat-woman, but instead a friendliness towards him that had been previously unmatched by any of the other members of the group. It seemed that each had piqued the curiosity of the other, and they would likely be spending a great deal more time around each other on the coming assignment when Adam was put into a patrol cell with the two knights he had become acquainted with. Again, Kanis had an aura of curiosity about him as he declared the grouping, wondering what, if anything, Adam would amount to with these events set into motion. It was a question Adam had asked himself several times already.
“Are you coming or not, Adam? We aren’t going to be late for the next briefing.” a voice ripped through Adam’s mind, pulling him from his visit to memory lane. Marrek’s gruff tone always sounded the same. His telepathic discourse with Adam ranged from unexpected visits to skull splitting intrusions. Adam lazily replied in the affirmative, along with a sarcastic aside of "well hello to you too", and hurried down to Marrek’s living space, which was one quarter bedroom, and three quarters armory.
Nath did not stop walking until she was out of Elim's sight. She strode down the corridor and plucked her datapad out from her wide leather belt where she often stashed it if she needed to speak to someone. Her slender hands shook slightly so she placed the item back for a moment and stopped walking, leaning her back against the corridor's wall panelling before letting out a breath she hadn't noticed she had been holding.
Pain lanced through her chest so sharply it was difficult to breathe as she reflected on her meeting with Naradas. Andrelious had only rubbed salt further into the wounds but it was too much weakness to allow them to see just how much her previous Master had meant to her.
All that lives will die. Passing through nature to eternity...
The words offered no comfort to the Iridonian, they never did, but they were all she had left even if it was her mother that had spoken them.
Nath's obsidian eyes drifted down to her hands once more, her thumb trailed along the slender metal band she wore. The inanimate object managing to steal a small smile from her lips before her expression turned back to a stoic mask once more.
With a sigh she collected herself once more, looked up and began to make her way to the upper decks once more without stopping to speak to a soul, ignoring for the most part anyone who turned their gaze to her.
When she reached the bridge Nath eyed the occupants of the large room, Teroch seemed distracted by an acquaintance she recognised as Nadrin. Other than that she paid very little attention to the others, there were no threats here.
It took her a long moment to begin moving from her spot next to the turbolift, her eye caught by the impressive tactical display but she forced her eyes away once more and focused her attention toward the cockpit.
No one seemed to pay the Iridonian much mind, the door to the cockpit slid open without incident as she hit the door panel. Stepping inside she pulled out her datapad and eyed it to check on the information Naradas had said he would send, it seemed to have arrived without incident.
Looking up she noted the Navigation Officer but didn't acknowledge their presence, instead she turned her attention to Kalon who seemed to be settling in quite comfortably as the Nighthawk's Helmsman.
“Ori'vod...” She greeted him in her usual fashion, but tried to be as unobtrusive as possible to not distract him. Without invitation she sat on the flooring nearby and began looking through the new information Naradas had sent to her.
Battle Team: Soulfire Strike Team
Location: AGV Nighthawk
Riverche listened quietly as Nadrin turned and walked out of the hangar and into the halls of the Nighthawk. As the sound of his footsteps faded into the distance, Riverche took out a datapad and pulled up the equipment list, that she had prepared for this mission. She did not know if any of the new members of the team would think of making an equipment list, and the person who used to be in charge of the equipment for the team had recently moved onto another team. So, once she heard of the mission, she made a list of equipment that would be needed, based off of old lists from past missions.
“Team list... check. Personal... check. Everything is here. Never hurts to double check; besides, we need these. Now time to see the ship.”
Riverche scanned the hangar to see the rest of the team still checking their personal equipment or casually talking with each other. She placed her duffle bag in a corner, where it would be out of the way. She turned to the door of the hanger and walked out quietly.
The long, narrow, winding hallways of the Nighthawk stretched out in front of her. Most of the hallways were similar to each other, but one had an observation room with a viewport. The large, empty room had a few scattered chairs around it. Near the back wall, two chairs sat under a small viewport facing each other.
Riverche pulled out her datapad as she entered the room. She walked over to the the chairs near the back wall and sat in one of them. “Perfect. Set here and review the mission.” She thought as she looked over her notes on the Hapes Cluster and the mission briefing.
Soulfire Strike Team
“You’ve obviously seen me with Kooki?” Andrelious answered, smiling.
Naradas nodded. “Ah. Yes. Does she not know you’re an Imperial? Didn’t think anyone from her home planet would even go near either of us.”
“She knows. She nearly got herself killed when she found out,” the Warlord explained, remembering the night well. Kooki had jumped onto a table and attacked the Rollmaster, ending up in a heap on the floor after Andrelious had destroyed the table with his lightsaber.
Elim arrived, carrying a tray with the drinks that Naradas had ordered moments before. “Will there be anything else, sir?” he asked, placing the beverages onto the desk. “And may I remind you that you’re not supposed to have alco-”
“That will be all, Elim. I don’t need reminding of these regulations,” the Battlemaster hissed. The Force-deaf man quickly got the message and left the office, leaving the two Arconan Sith to their conversation.
“He seems the sort that I have no time for. Regulations indeed! Anyway, I’m glad to see that you have become settled into Arcona. May this alliance bring us both power and great riches,” Andrelious declared, raising his glass. His fellow Sith did the same, the two drinking vessels clinking gently. Inahj then took a large swig from the glass, consuming half of the Ebla Beer inside in one fell swoop.
Naradas raised an eyebrow at his ally’s enthusiastic drinking. “Be careful. That is Ebla Reserve. Not the swill that you were given back on the Zathura.”
“Ah yes. The stronger variety. You’ll have to show me to the ship’s cantina later,” the Warlord replied, finishing his drink. “But for now I’d better see what my team are doing. Nadrin aside I don’t believe half of them will last very long.”
Naradas nodded again, having a large swig of his own drink. “Of course. When you’re ready you can have Elim show you to your quarters.”
Andrelious turned to leave the office, affording Naradas a friendly nod as he left. “And I won’t tell anyone that mine are better,” he said.
Things had changed lately for Andrelious J. Inahj. Meeting Kookimarissia Mimosa had caused the blackness in his soul to soften a little, as if the grasp of his time on Byss was finally releasing itself from the Warlord. Certainly he was more tolerant of the peaceful actions of Atyiru, once having deemed her an Odan-Urr spy. Now he was regretting not having a closer relationship with the Miraluka, having largely ignored and berated her during her training. Having such a friend in the clan had proven useful to others, whilst Inahj remained mostly isolated. Before he hadn’t cared. Few in Arcona had ever been a ‘friend’. But it was after seeing how warmly that Kooki interacted with others that Andrelious realised that he too wanted that warmness with his clanmates.
As he made his way to the ship’s cantina, Andrelious peered out of a window towards the Darkest Night, knowing that the rest of Galeres were onboard their flagship. The Warlord was unsure of the value of sending the Assault Cruiser into the Hapes Cluster, fearing it would be overwhelmed by the local forces. The Nighthawk could easily hide itself, but the Galerean flagship had no such luxury.
“What in the name of Palpatine are you playing at, Lord Consul? You’ve doomed half of your clan for this..veterinary excursion,” Inahj mused to himself quietly as he reached the cantina.
Arcia watched the crew tending to the bridge carefully. Kalon was keeping tabs on the navigational controls with his co-helmsman while Nath sat in her corner like a punitive school child; Uji was monitoring coms chat between the three ships as well as attempting to keep his own private conversation hidden; Teroch was throwing his weight around already, running his XO all over the bridge to see what she was made of…
She laughed, more aloud than she had wanted to.
“Something funny, ner’vod?” Teroch inquired, looking over to his second.
“Oh...just reliving the ‘exercise’ you put me through during flight test.”
With a grunt, Teroch turned back to Nadrin and continued the conversation they were holding. Arcia straightened her uniform and made her way around the bridge once again, listening intently as she passed the Comms station as usual. With a hint of a smile, she passed by and entered the turbo-lift down to the habitation deck.
Exiting the lift, she frowned. Noise was coming from the dining and recreation area; surely some newcomer that wasn’t familiar with the ship had confused it with a cantina. Making her way to the doorway, she took a step in and shook her head. Someone was in the room, obviously searching for something.
“Could I help you with something, Inahj?” Arcia spoke, her voice carrying across the mostly empty and still rather incomplete room.
The former Imperial turned and stood up from his mid-cabinet search and smirked. “Ah, Miss Cortel. I was wondering when we would run into each other.”
The Nighthawk XO crossed her arms and raised a brow in question before repeating herself. “Can I help you?”
The Rollmaster cleared his throat. “Unless you can find me something to drink, or a tour of the ship, I would say ‘no.’”
Arcia watched the man for a lengthy moment before nodding towards one of the bulkheads that was stripped, wires hanging somewhat freely. “This section isn’t safe. I recommend you move to a different location.” she stated plainly.
She turned to leave, but before exiting the room, she paused, “...and you won’t find any booze openly on the ship...before you go asking anyone else.”
She made her way out of the rec room and pulled out a datapad as she walked through the corridors. Skimming through a few reports, she paused and frowned. With a heavy breath, Arcia made her way to the Security chamber, the one Naradas seemed to have designated as his ‘office’ due to the addition of what she considered to be a glorified broom closet. Once there, she didn’t even chime the door panel; instead she simply barged into the room.
Naradas was sitting at his desk, a few empty glasses on its top reeking of alcohol. With a blank stare, Arcia slowly walked up to the desk and dragged a finger across as if performing an inspection before picking up one of the glasses and rolling it in her hands. The sitting Human male watched her carefully and opened his mouth to speak, but Arcia cut him off.
“So, I see reports of you doing some barracks rearranging are true...Offering some ‘finer living’ for our guest, Inahj? I don’t suppose you cleared those orders with me, did you…? Or did, what is his name...Elim...get lost?” The Prelate grinned as she came to a halt and sat on the edge of the desk.
“Clear ord--are you serious, Arcia?” Naradas questioned instinctively.
“Do I look like I’m joking, Chief? We don’t have the time to be catering to old friends or taking on personal aides. The next time we port, he’s off the ship…” Arcia stated firmly. “...and Inahj chose to work with Soulfire, so he gets to bunk with the rest of the Strike Team.”
With those orders still ringing through the air, Arcia stood, turned and exited the meeting room with a smile touching her lips. She may have been a bit overzealous, but a simple security officer was the last in her mind to get to pull strings.
Dark Forge Battleteam
Looking up at a sudden intrusion to the peaceful little realm that the outside world had seen fit to dub as his 'office', Kordath stared at the younger Knight that had barged in.
Holding a hand up, signaling for silence, the Ryn waved vaguely towards the door, shutting it with the thoughtlessness of a lazy man with telekinesis at his disposal.
“One. Don't ever say anything like that again, especially with the door open. I've had enough trouble stamping rumors that Atyiru started about me. Just because I'm...a bit hairier then most members of our House, and have a bloody tail, doesn't mean I like to 'rut with taun-tauns in the moonlight', that comment of yours when you entered would cause likely as much trouble for the both of us.”
Anduriel started to open his mouth to speak, taken aback by the direct approach of his Sergeant, but was cut off with another gesture.
“Two, you might be my newbie, but your more of a solider then most of our Team put together, at least amongst we fresher folk and newly raised to Knighthood. I suspect this is when I'm supposed to tell you that you'll be pulling your weight, and all that garbage. I'm not military, man, I'm basically a bureaucrat, I should be studying in some dark hole within the libraries somewhere, not on board a ship going off to find a magic plant to cure some animals.”
Kordath sighed and rubbed at his eyes for a moment, leaning back in his chair.
“That said, don't tell anybody I said that about the Consul's pet, if you could? When the fighting does start, and you know there will be. There always is. For no apparent bloody reason, we'll end up in a fight we could have avoided, and they'll expect Dark Forge to go running in to make sure everything works out proper-like,” grumbled the Krath, stopping as he heard the small desk mounted holo-terminal ding at him.
It came to life, showing the image of the Iridonian who handed down the orders, who went on for a few minutes about duty.
“'Dark Forge will be here to make sure that everything goes smoothly'” spoke the Ryn, glaring at the now dissipated image, 'See? Told you.”
Kordath dug into a desk drawer, pulling a data pad from the darkened recesses, and thrust it towards the Obelisk, “Some...special orders, for while we're in transit, don't tell anybody what they are, mostly it's for when we're done, hear?”
Anduriel took a moment to peruse the strange orders, before looking up, questions painted all over his face.
“After party, should we survive all this, and I didn't put something on the list....should we get to involve ourselves in a bit of...raiding while we're in the Hapes cluster, which we probably will, make sure to bring some of the Hapan ladies back. It'll get the Aedile off our back when this is all over with, I believe.”
The Ryn dug into the desk once more, this time producing the sound of metal on metal, with the odd hollowness that only a tin cup can make. Slapping a pair of them onto the pitted desk, he produced a bottle of questionable liquid, deep in amber coloring, and poured off two drinks. Lifting one cup, motioning with the other hand for Anduriel to retrieve the other, he saluted the 'newbie'.
“Here's to all of us coming out of this alive, eh?” spoke the Krath, before downing the drink, “Now go, get to work, and make yourself familiar with your fellows....oh, and watch out for the Neti.”
“He's...just not quite right”
Several minutes passed in silence, the warm fuzzy feeling of solitude enveloping the Krath as he dug through one of the piles of datacards that had been haphazardly shoved into his bag when the orders for this farce had come through. Somewhere there was something worth studying, he knew, as he poured another drink, slapping the datacard into a reader and settling back to read about a rare lizard from the Turak IV lava plains, when somebody banged on the office door.
Slightly drunk, and more then a bit annoyed at being interrupted yet again, he shouted out, “Oh, what the hell has gone wrong now... Enter!”
After a brief exchange with the Templar and Archpriestess, both of which we're on the very border of respectful, at least to be shown to someone placed above them that was of significantly lower rank, he was left to his studies. And his whiskey.
Marrek looked up to the leaders as the briefing was finished, then he looked to his apprentice, Adam, the older man had been training under him for several weeks now, and his skills were improving nicely, his ways changing from what the Jedi had influenced him to believe, his link to the dark side grew stronger each day, and now would be the perfect opportunity to test his commitment to both House and Clan.
As Adam made eye contact with his master he knew that this task would be the perfect chance for him to prove what he had learned. After the Qel-Droman's had been dismissed from the briefing Adam found himself being lead by Marrek to the armory.
“Get some gear, we’ll move out shortly to start our patrols.” Marrek ordered his apprentice as he went to get together his standard loadout,a blast dampening vest, a SoroSuub X-45, Relby-K23, a BlasTech A280, a Prax-Arms AXM-50, a DH-17, a DL-44, and a few fragmentation grenades, the use of which he had proven on the Battle of Svolten. His lightsaber had already been on his side, its vibrant orange blade hadn’t seen combat in many weeks but he still wasn’t eager to have need of its use. The sword hanging from his belt tapped lightly against his leg as he turned to inspect Adam’s selections.
Adam glanced around and picked up a DH-17, along with a couple bags of ball bearings. He then turned to Marrek, after looking over Marrek he asked, “You ever think you overpack for these things?”
“You can never have too much firepower, make sure you get yourself a blast dampening vest and an Armory Saber then we’ll get back to Kanis.” Marrek directed.
Marrek and Adam walked out of the Armory as Adam was struggling to get the vest strapped on. Minutes later the two men had returned to Kanis and were ready and waiting on instruction for where they would be patrolling first, and who, if any, their targets were.
Naradas' eyes narrowed slightly as he watched the Executive Officer exit, not missing the slight smile touching her lips. Glancing down at the intercom and noting the open channel to his aide, he cleared his throat slightly.
“Elim, please step in.”
Elim stepped inside, his face as impassive as ever as he stationed himself in front of Naradas' desk, his hands clasped behind him.
“You heard everything, of course?” Naradas inquired mildly as he settled back into his chair, his fingers lacing together as he gazed thoughtfully at his aide.
“Yes.” Elim said, a slight smirk appearing as he stared unblinkingly at his master. “I assumed you left the channel open on purpose.”
“You know me so well.” Naradas smiled. “Impressions?”
“Strict on regulations. Blunt and undiplomatic. Didn't initially allow you to get a word in.” Elim's eyebrows rose slightly. “Her accent is also a little peculiar.”
“Mm, you noticed that too.” Naradas nodded slightly. “Yes, she's amusing if nothing else. It'll be interesting to observe how the crew will respond to her if she keeps wielding that tongue of hers around like a blunt hammer. Alright. You heard her orders. Inform Inahj that my instructions had been countermanded and that he is unfortunately to bunk with the rest of Soulfire. Relay my apologies but assure him that a case of Ebla Reserve will be waiting for him at the next port. The man deserves some drinks.”
“Yes sir.” Elim nodded slightly. “Shall I pack?”
“Yes. I will be transferring a sum of credits to your account so that you can pay for passage back to Selen.”
“Understood.” Elim bowed slightly. “Will there be anything else, sir?”
“Yes, just a second, Elim.” Naradas replied as he fished out a piece of flimsy and an old fashioned pen from inside his tunic. He began to dash off a quick note, the pen's ink flowed smoothly as the man wrote. After a minute, he handed the flimsy to Elim, who glanced down to read it.
When we dock at the next port, get yourself on the fastest ship back to Selen. Get in contact with our agents and begin compiling an intelligence profile on Arcia Cortel, no doubt that it's not her real name. I'm getting the strong odor of Imperial Intelligence from her. Contact our agents in the former Remnant to confirm. I expect a full dossier when I return to Selen. She's only a minor annoyance right now, but I want to be prepared if it escalates any further. Hopefully not, but better safe than sorry.
“I will see to it.” Elim gave Naradas a crisp nod before handing the note back to Naradas and slipping out the door.
Naradas smiled slightly to himself as he dropped the piece of flimsy into the shredder, watching as the small machine efficiently shredded the written note into millions of pieces. Turning his attention back to the terminal, he noted that his security teams were beginning to report in. Sighing slightly, he began to get back to work, his fingers tapping at the keyboard to compile the report that he would be making shortly.
“If it were thiz one, thiz one would have torn her throat out for zpeaking so disrezpectfully.” A low growling voice rasped into his ear.
Naradas' blood ran cold as his fingers froze on the keyboard.
You are not here, Beast. He snarled within his mind.
“No? Then why iz thiz one talking to you?”
Naradas' eyes narrowed as he raised them from the computer screen to glare at a dimly glowing apparition of a fearsomely tall Barabel standing in front of him, its eyes glowing a fiery violet as it smiled mockingly at him, its razor-sharp teeth on full display. Leaning forward until they were staring eye to eye, Zakath barked out a harsh laugh as he raised a hand, allowing his heavy talons to slide out right in front of Naradas’ eyes
“You killed thiz one. But not far enough it zeemz. Thiz one haz returned from the netherworld hungry.” Zakath's smile widened before he suddenly swiped his claws downward, seeking to rip out Naradas' face.
The former Imperial visibly flinched and gasped quietly as the ghostly claws ripped through him, leaving no marks behind. The Barabel only laughed louder.
“Yez, thiz one will be viziting you much more often. Count on it. Ezpecially when my apprentice arrivez. Then... then perhapz thiz one won't leave at all.” As the Barabel faded away, Naradas trembled with fury, his hands clenched into fists..
“Oh, I will be counting on it, Zakath. I will dispel that miserable soul of yours into the Void. My agents are already researching it. Your days on this plane are numbered, Beast!
A slight echo of mocking laughter was the only reply he received.
Naradas breathed deeply for a few minutes, trying to regain his composure. The ghostly visits had begun shortly after he had killed the Barabel, only short visions at first, but now they were becoming distressingly frequent and longer. Fortunately his former infiltration training allowed him to maintain his composure when among others, but he was beginning to wonder how long he could keep up this charade as the visits increased.
Sighing softly, he returned his attention back to his work, his fingers tapping away at the keyboard once more in the now comforting silence.
House Galeres Team
BAC Darkest Night
It was hard for her not to burst out in mocking laughter when the Quaestor said they’d all be coming home, that no one was to be left behind, only to then attempt to revoke those words from a Human female who was supposedly in a relationship with another member. Shortly before this was heard, Cethgus HAD dismissed the group and everyone began to disperse, especially when he called out that particular woman. K’tana took his dismissal as a vague direction and not quite an order. She merely waited for Ceth’s back to turn and someone to walk by her and she let her Force envelope her as she pressed herself to a wall, waited and listened.
“Contradictory ass.” she thought to herself as she watched the human woman nearly bolt and Cethgus and his posse swagger towards the command deck.
As she started to pull away from the wall she heard the familiar sound of someone getting slammed against a wall. K’tana nearly snapped her head towards the sound, her concentration breaking as she watched the violent encounter between the Iridonian and the Miraluka. When the beings parted and drifted back towards their destination, K’tana’s glowering eyes fell to the floor as another numb haze fell over her. Violence between comrades and allies.
“How can any trust him with so many lives?” Eyes still on the floor she turned and started towards her quarters. She nearly stepped on Liera who was about to jump onto her Mistresses leg.
“Karking Goddess of Hell!!” she shouted in shock and fury as the creature leapt suddenly onto K’tana’s thigh and dug her sharp nails into the flesh. K'tana's outburst reverberated down the corridor and she quickly snatched up Liera. She snapped her head towards the command deck, while silently praying to Kika'lekki that when she looked up, Cethgus’ green eyes would not be upon her. Hoping that Liera and she would be able to sneak back to their quarters without anymore ‘friendly’ violence...
Adam followed Marrek out of the briefing room, Adi not far behind. They had their patrol orders, at last. They were heading for the rough-and-tumble cantinas that cropped up when the cramped streets opened up here and there, and all the writhing masses of Estele occasionally gathered there to forget their inhibitions and embrace their delusions of grandeur. In this particular case, these delusions were the rallying calls of revolution, arrayed against the tyrants that sat in the mysterious Citadel into which the city’s inhabitants are not permitted.
They were the tyrants, these two Dark Jedi and the Guardian, or at least that was what their target referred to them and Arcona as. Jerex Talzuk, a Chiss crime lord, had suddenly developed an idealistic streak. No doubt he was unhappy with Arcona’s recent incursions into his business, and decided he would establish himself as a lieutenant of Estele's castoff masses who formed the Blue Talons insurrectionist group. He had a small team of experienced bounty hunters and mercenaries, and still more agitated civilians who felt that an enclave of powerful Force sensitives had no place in their lives.
Adam, Marrek, and Adi were about to teach Talzuk’s forces the meaning of respect. At Kanis’s order, they were on their way out of the Citadel, heading to Marrek’s speeder truck. Since arming up, Marrek and Adam stayed fairly quiet. Adam thumbed at the grip of the DH-17 Marrek had lent him, wondering if he would be forced to use that weapon on someone who might not deserve it. He wanted to fight a soldier, someone who wanted to kill him, anything but fighting someone who simply wanted to defend their home. Despite being steeped in the presence of the Dark Side, Adam still doubted his place. The armory lightsaber at his hip was of little comfort as well. It wasn’t his. He was coiling tighter and tighter, readying himself for when the fighting would begin. He breathed out, realizing that he was likely flying the team there, and had no need of mental disquiet like he felt. It wasn’t an assassination, at least on paper; hopefully Talzuk would cooperate, listen to reason. Either way, Adam would not be the hand that dealt with him; that duty fell to Adi. Since learning of her abilities, Adam developed a certain measure of discomfort with the notion that the seemingly innocent Cathar could rend a mind to pieces. Marrek designated himself as the hunter, he would handle what Adam could not. He was perhaps even less comforted by the notion that his somewhat trigger-happy master would be constantly watching him through the scope of a high-powered rifle, one that could kill with a single round from an impressive distance.
Adam refocused, upon realizing they had reached the truck. It was time for him to fly. At least he could do something they couldn’t. It was time for his trial by fire.
Adi Ka' Taramas
Adi wasn't the fighting type. She was the one that tried to take out her opponent while he wasn't looking or at least quick enough so he didn't know what hit him. Once they got their first orders she was quite excited to see how it would turn out. She was ready for anything at this point though and if need be she would have to fight face to face but if her interrogation skills were needed she was willing to use them and in fact was quite prepared to use them just in case. She remembered one of her other missions her old master Kanis had sent her on. She was told to capture and interrogate someone who she did. She felt immense power during her interrogation. Being able to control the mind of the one she was interrogating made her feel stronger since she wasn’t quite able to do much more than that.
Seeing that their target was Jerex Talzuk, a Zabrak crime lord she was ready. She couldn’t wait to get started and was excited to find out what would happen during the encounter. She for another couldn’t wait to start interrogating him if necessary for she was interested to see just how much torture he could take. Someone that was looked to as a crime lord had to be tough and had very little weaknesses so it would be hard to really scare them but she was used to tough situations like this. Once she saw that they were at the truck she got in and waited for things to get underway.
The patrol was putting them in the Ducts, Marrek always loved the Ducts, plenty of spots to hide out, areas where he could just disappear, maybe get a chance to meditate. They had a target though, and an assignment. Marrek glanced towards Adam and Adi as he opened the Trast A-A5 Heavy Speeder truck, the truck was too large to be taken all the way into the Ducts without gathering the attention of the people there, no, they would stop about half way there, Marrek and Adam would continue on foot, Adi would wait with the truck until called upon to bring it in to retrieve us. The plan was simple, run our patrol, if we come across our target of opportunity, we deal with him as is necessary. Any other opposition they face will simply be a matter of their own discretion. “You two understand what we’ll be doing here, right?”
“Remind me again what we’re doing in the Ducts.” Adam said sarcastically, hoping his master might have a little bit of a sense of humor.
Adam’s hopes were lost as he received a swift swat upside his head from his master before the scarred man spoke, “We’re patrolling to take care of local insurrectionists, they have lost their fear for us during our absence for the Dark Council’s war, we are going to remind them what fear is. With your skills I would prefer you stay back out of the way of the major action, Adi, I don’t intend to take the truck all the way into the Ducts, and someone will need to watch it. Adam, you will take point on the patrols, I trust you have learned enough to be capable of managing that, for the most part I will be moving from building to building, hidden, watching you and covering your back. Should a fight ensue, distract them and do what you can to disable them, I will support you. If we find the target, which I am quite confident that I can track him down, we will plan before striking on him.”
Adam and Adi both nodded to Marrek, neither one totally sure how he made such a detailed plan so quickly.
“I’ve been planning how we would go about doing this as soon as I knew our cell make up, then I just adjusted it for the location.” Marrek stated.
“Incoming transmission from the Citadel, sir.”
“Patch it through,” Teroch said as he absently rubbed the back of his neck. His mind was split between the mission at hand and his concern over Marick playing diplomat with the Hapes Consortium. The Consul was one of the best Arcona had, but he was a leader more by example than by his silver tongue. Hopefully he had spent enough time with Wuntila that some of the Consul Emeritus rubbed off.
“Teroch, this is Legorii,” the Anzat’s voice barked over the comm.
“Lego, how does the big seat feel?” Teroch grinned.
“Cold. I have important intel that should aid you on your mission.”
“Alright, send it over. You’re aware that Marick-”
“Yes. He knows what he’s doing.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“Files sent. Have Celahir decrypt. I don’t have to remind you that failure is not an option. Legorii out.”
Deimos and our team of researches believe that the key to curing the Cythraul is found in what we are called “Blood Cups”. We are confident your medic, Maaks is familiar with the scan of the book we found. Good luck.
“I have a bad feeling about this, Blinky.”
“You have a bad feeling about everything, Blue.” The Miraluka replied without missing a beat. The Aedile turned to Kordath. “However, for once, I agree with you. Be careful, my friend. Stay alert and—Kordath!” She exclaimed sharply.
The Ryn paused with the flask he kept in his robes halfway to his mouth. “What? Can’t break tradition. Whiskey before all
suicide missions, lady.”
Atyiru snatched the container away and tucked it into her own belt. “No, di’kut
. You’ve got to be clear-headed and alert. I don’t need to describe how hostile the situation is. We’re counting on you to guard the ship, y’know, our only way out of here
“Yeah, yeah, I know, don’t gotta lay it on so thick.” The Knight muttered. “Just bring back some of their drinks, would ya?”
“Deal.” The Aedile said, fitting a small blaster into her belt opposite her saber. “Be safe.” And then she walked off to join the small boarding party accompanying the Consul, every one of them looking rigid as they left the bridge, flanked by the Hapan ‘diplomatic greeters’ that had come to escort them.
“Bad feeling.” Dark Forge’s Battleteam leader repeated, grumbling to himself.
Kordath went over to where his team stood clustered in front of a curiously unoccupied comms station, his eyes darting around, skin crawling knowing how outnumbered they were.
He spotted the purple Twi’lek lady and her pet…something as he did so, and paused, watching her talk to the animal and wondering if he wanted to involve himself in that kind of crazy. Then again, he was already here, so, it wasn’t like it mattered.
“Hey, K’tana.” He called bluntly, catching the woman’s attention. “You’re with us. Aedile’s orders. Or something.”
“’Or something.’” K’tana parroted, screwing her pretty face up in a pout at him and laughing to herself. The Ryn just huffed and kept moving.
“Okay. So, er, right, listen up.” Kordath began, addressing his team, meeting everyone’s eyes—and leaves—in turn. “We’re holding down the fort. Guard duty and all that. So, get to it.”
Qel-Droma, Shadow Phyle
Kanis sighed as looked down at his datapad. Things were happening so fast. And yet, he had his orders. Shadow Phyle would not let Arcona down.
Target Group: The Blue Talon
The Blue Talon is being lead by a former member of the Dajorra Defense Force. He was discharged after being courtmartialed for disobedience, and has, with the help of an unknown member of the One Sith, gained the resources to fund his propaganda throughout Estele City.
They have numerous safe houses set up. Find them, eliminate them, and cut off the head of the serpent. Failure is not an option.
“Report,” Deimos said, busying himself with another set of experiments.
“Sir,” Condar spoke quietly, repeatedly glancing over his shoulder to make sure he was alone. “We have successfully infiltrated the Swa’kata pirates. We should be headed for a mission towards the Hapes Cluster soon, and our identities checked out solid. It almost seems too easy.”
“Yes. Too easy...” Deimos muttered. “Stay sharp. I have faith.”
“Yes sir,” Condar nodded and closed the link.
The Del’Abbot estate was a sight to behold. The ever present sun was clear in the cloudless sky, illuminating fields of green strewn with a vibrant array of flowers. Women dressed in fine silks and the latest fashions. They all seemed to be cut from the same beautiful statues of some forgotten goddess. In short, they were perfect, flawless.
Marick hated each of them. Memories of his past flooded through him as he lowered himself deeper into Heart of Stone. The Consul’s emotions had no place here. This entire operation was resting on his shoulders.
Atyiru, Cethgus, Socorra, Anduriel, Lexi and Verse took it all in with wonder. Even the gruff Cethgus, who played his role of silent bodyguard well, found himself looking where he shouldn't.
Erin Del’Abbot walked in front of them, her body moving with the feline grace of a hunting cat. Anduriel found his eyes drifting but caught himself. At Erin’s side, four armed soldiers with long blonde hair and similarly beautiful features kept their hands close to the blasters on their curved hips. All women, Andy noted.
They soon came to the large estate that served as home to Angelica Del’Abbot. Marick kept his face a stone mask as he continued to push away the memories that threatened to surface. Once inside, they entered a large room with high ceilings that was unmistakably a lounge. It was the largest lounge any of the Arconan’s had ever seen. Except for Marick, of course.
“Mother will meet with you in the main dining hall, little brother
,” Erin said, emphasizing the words at the end of her statement. “I am sure you remember the way? I’ve left two of my assistants to help just in case.”
“Thank you, but I know where to go.
Erin noticed Anduriel inadvertently admiring her figure and smirked, purposely swaying her hips as she turned to leave, barely glancing over her shoulder back at the young Knight.
When she left, Cethgus’ open palm smacked into the back of Andy’s head.
“Focus,” Cethgus said curtly.
Marick turned to address his cadre.
“Atyiru, Socorra, and Verse will accompany me to the meeting. I have my reasons for selecting them...I know how my mother can be," he started like he would explain further but stopped and shook his head slightly. "Anduriel, Lexi and Cethgus, I want you to study this,” he handed Anduriel a micro data-chip that could be inserted into a datapad. “That is a map of the entire estate. I want you to learn it quickly and make sure that if anything goes wrong we will be able to make an exit. Understood?”
They nodded. Andy found it odd that Marick would leave their stongest fighter behind in Cethgus. He also had slected three women to serve as his honor guard for the meeting which seemed out of character. From what he understood of Hapan culture, though, the Knight realized that a Consotirum member might not be too keen on a male alien at her table. With that, the Consul turned, Socorra and Atyiru falling into stride behind him. Verse seemed pensive, but did her best to hide her apprehension at being back among her people.
Galeres Run-On Team
Cethgus grunted at the assignment he was given, clearly displeased at having to wait around like a dog to heel. Hauling himself from the seating area where they’d been relegated, he looked around, noting the guards that were scattered around. He smirked to himself. His mind drifted, full of frustration and agitation, pondering on questions that needed answers, ones that only the boredom of time would see filled.
How far can I push the guards, till they break? Can I insult people here without breaking the truce?
The small smirk on his lips reappeared as he allowed himself to walk to the guards, looking at them before looking at the two Journeymen that were with him. He let the small grin creep further up his lips. Some would say that the Primarch didn’t follow rules and regulations, and most of them would be right. On this occasion, it seemed that he would be keeping to the tradition with some exploring.
“Guard, do we have to stay in here? I want to see what this Mansion is like.” He half-asked, his voice cold as he addressed the man.
“No, you are not required to stay; but please remain within the main corridors, and do not desecrate these sacred grounds.” The Hapan replied with robotic politeness to the favor of the Obelisk’s not-so-warm approach.
“I understand. It must be nice, to be the whipping boy for your masters.” The Obelisk’s voice trailed off as he turned his attention to the two Arconans that were currently with him.
“Shall we go and have a little bit of an exploration of these ’Sacred Grounds?’” He asked, his voice showing no care for his wording of this matter, more intrigued of leaving the comfort of this boring room and seeing what this place actually had to offer.
“I will be at your side, Master.” Lexi’s voice echoed around the room as she stood, walking over and making sure she was ready to go as soon as Cethgus started to speak to her.
“Eh, I got nothing better to do.” Anduriel piped up as he also stood.
Nodding to the two of them, Cethgus headed out the door and down a corridor, completely clueless as to where he was going. He ignored the map the Consul had given them. This would only see to his advantage though, and make things more interesting for the group. As his boots echoed gently down the corridor, a small smirk appeared on his face, knowing that he had some form of immunity, at least to the guards’ eyes that could easily be seen watching the group as they continued to walk down the corridor.
“This place just reminds me of being some posh, up-end, spoilt child with no respect for others.” Cethgus began to rant, his raving heard down the corridor. It was clear he was angry at Marick for the assignment he had been given.
“Um....don’t you think we should be polite around company, Master?” It was the voice of Lexi to pipe up first, unsure of the reaction she would get as he stopped in his tracks.
He didn’t answer her. Standing near a guard, his hand shot out, stopping an inch before the man’s face as his head turned back, his eyes glancing from the man to Lexi and then back again. “Not even a single movement, yet by our rules and theirs, I cannot lay a hand on this man in any form of aggression. What am I if not a warrior?”
“A leader?” Anduriel’s quick response brought the Quaestor’s full attention to the Human, glancing at him for a few seconds before he smirked.
“I suppose I will give you credit for the quick thinking.” He muttered, his voice trailing off as he left the guard standing there, looking bemused at what had just taken place. As the group continued on, the Primarch began to trying rooms once they were out of sight, his attention on seeing what secrets hid behind locked doors.
What secrets were held from the past, and what were held from the present in this location? He wanted to know, if nothing else, to satisfy his curiosity more than anything. The three of them kept moving, trying to look everywhere they could.
Soulfire Strike Team
Andrelious had watched the fleet movements carefully. The Darkest Night was holding position, whilst the Nighthawk had already cloaked as the Warlord had ascertained from the dimmed interior lighting. Inahj had wondered why the ship had not cloaked in hyperspace - as far as he was aware the ship was not operating the type of cloaking device that had doomed Grand Admiral Zaarin many years ago.
Now to find the alcohol. I’m sure that it does not have its own cloaking device. That fool Elim has obviously stowed it away somewhere that should be fairly easy to deduce. I certainly won’t be stopped by that Cortel bitch. Damn spooks. Inahj thought, remembering the rumours that Arcia had once served with Imperial Intelligence. Andrelious remembered that, like most of the pilots, he had found the Intel agents downright creepy at best, invariably avoiding them wherever and whenever they had shown themselves.
The Rollmaster took hold of a small hip-flask that he carried inside his outer robe, opening it and consuming some of the liquid inside. Replacing it, he strode along the corridor, peering at bulkheads in an attempt to find the location of the alcohol that Naradas had clearly smuggled aboard. It had been some time since the Warlord had attempted a mission completely sober; he had spent long enough on the field at New Tython for the effects of alcohol to wear off, whilst the Horizons plague had dulled his appetite for a drink as it had taken hold.
Noticing an unmarked door, Andrelious barged in, not sure what to expect. Soulfire had not been briefed as to the extent of the Nighthawk and its abilities. As guests on the ship, it was also clear that members of the strike team were not to trespass on certain areas. As much as he wanted to find a drink, the Warlord was not prepared to risk the lives of he and other Soulfire members just to answer the call of that particular vice.
The frustrating search continued, Inahj finding nothing but unoccupied offices and storage closets. Clearly the level of the ship he was on contained no secrets, nothing of any value.
I really cannot be bothered with this. I’m just going to have a rest. Inahj mused, almost surprised at his own lack of zeal. It was as if this mission was somehow more important to him than others he had partaken for the Shadow Clan. The Warlord began to contemplate this as he headed towards the Soulfire quarters, having been informed via his datapad that Naradas’ little indiscretion had been found out.
As he entered his assigned quarters, a fairly spartan room with a smallish but comfortable looking bunk, Andrelious relaxed, his unusual level of sobriety leading to a calmer, more considered contemplation. The Sith began to drift off with his thoughts, hoping he would get at least some rest before the mission proper.
Galeres Team (On Loan from Dark Forge)
What the hell am I even doing here?
From the moment the Consul had grabbed him from his room, Anduriel had been out of his element for a while. He was a soldier and a member of Dark Forge, and he had no idea what he had done to earn him a spot here.
He casually pulled a shento cigar from his pocket, twiddling it between his fingers as he walked behind Cethgus. He resisted the grin wanting to form on his face when he glanced towards the Primarch’s direction and saw the back of his head.
Shaking his head to refocus on the present, he began to let his eyes wander as they walked down the main corridor. The “sacred grounds” were big; bigger than anything he’d ever seen in his life on Ord Mantell, and even bigger than anything he had ever imagined. Lush colors seemed to paint the walls, and the columns held ornate carvings that rose up to a ceiling that Anduriel had to crane his neck to see.
“Enjoying the view, boy?” came a growl from in front of him.
He looked at Cethgus staring at him, a combination of lazy amusement and impatience glimmered in his eyes.
“Yes, sir I am. There’s a lot to see here,” Anduriel let his voice trail off as he kept pace with the Quaestor, “Do you think they’d let us into one of the rooms?”
A small smirk seemed to form on the Zabrak’s face, “They said we are allowed somewhere in the main corridor. A room is along the main corridor I suppose.”
Anduriel tried to listen to what his superior continued to say, however right then his sight was distracted by a dark haired beauty walking towards them down the main corridor. Her beauty was almost intoxicating. I’ve read the reports and the files. There’s an inhuman beauty to be found here, but I was not prepared for anything like this. Wow.
As she started to pass by the three of them, Anduriel saw that she had a small smile on her face at the attention she was getting from the visitors. Even while looking down though, the human could see the cunning glint in the eyes of the beautiful Hapan, and instantly the façade seemed to shatter like a mirror. I’m here to fulfill my duty (heehee “duty”), and these things are probably going to try and kill us if negotiations go south. I need to be vigilant.
He felt a slap hit him on the back of his head. Whirling, he turned to see Lexi staring at him with hard eyes, “Our master wants us to focus,” she hissed.
He rubbed the back of his head, Come on! I snapped out of it myself this time! He turned to see Cethgus giving him the same hard stare. The human knight walked forward in his Mandalorian armor, the durasteel lacking any shine in the light.
The Quaestor and Lexi began walking, and they fell into the familiar rhythm of footsteps.
“Do Zabraks even get erections?”
The Primarch turned to glare at him, “What?”
Anduriel managed to keep a straight face and pointed to an large, ornate door with gold trimmings and four guards outside, “That looks important. Shall we check it out?”
Galeres Run-On Team
Lexi heard the words form the younger member of the team as she allowed her eyes to fall to the newer members. She walked over to her younger team mate and smiled as he pointed out some of the things to look at, and simply said one word, “Yes.” and walked away back to her masters side with a little impish look on her face.
She looks back at her master with a straight face and looks over at the guards for the various rooms, she walked up to one and smiled, “Tell me, what is it like being someones property? Do you enjoy it? Does it turn you on? I really want to know.” The whole time she is walking around the guard almost touching them but not. Taking a lead from Ceithgus to see just how much rage she can get flowing through them.
She wandered into a door and stopped, “Oh goodies, more flowers and plants,”she mused sarcastically. She watches but not the people or the flora, the droids. She watches them they enter and exit from small doors in the walls. That meant one thing a series of access tunnels that ran parallel to the main ones.
She pulled out her cypher pad and began to make hand drawn lines over the map given to them, a speculative idea of what the access tunnels might run like. She sent it to Cethgus’ datapad with the title. “Access tunnels, possible parallel to main”
“Good point Lexi” as the Iridonian allowed his eyes to roll up at Lexi, still not impressed by her earlier comments, but it seemed that she had redeemed herself slightly with her new found route inside the place. “Lets explore the rest of this pace you two”
She walked by Anduriel getting slightly close to him and looked at him in the eyes and looked down, with that impish smile, “I already know the answer for humans.” and walks up next to her master and can not contain a poorly suppressed giggle, before moving on to explore the grounds more.
Wanting to explore as much as she could she allowed herself to skip off making the two males of the group continue to follow her. Hearing a sigh and a tut from the Quaestor she just ignored it. Letting them explore all possibilities that this treasure trove offered for them.
Lexi bounds off and into a doorway then pops back out, and addressed the guard, “Oh this room wasn’t off limits was it?” then without waiting for an answer she bounds into another huge room, it had many tiers of flora and at one point art exhibits or statues and paintings scattered about. She made her way quickly up the stairs making sure she wasn’t patient about it, taking herself the liberty of making sure that she got the best view in the house. Letting her hands begin to glide over the datapad as she made sure that she didn’t miss the chance to scan her surroundings. Checking the art out at the same she simply smirked and began to survey her surroundings.
The Nighthawk slid through space with impunity. About it, the transitory mists provided a beautiful, if impassable backdrop. It was 0205 on the ship (tuned to Galactic Standard Time), and the first shift had retired for the night. Arcia marched from the cockpit towards the bridge, the display lit up by a schematic of the brand new ship. Several areas still read yellow, meaning they weren’t operating at peak efficiency. A by-product of leaving drydock before being completed, she assumed. The XO didn’t envy the engineering staff, who were working around the clock to get the ship up to speed, and all that without a Chief Engineering officer. That would need to be remedied, and soon.
“Commander, we’re in position for the next jump.” Karth Orsai, (the young Zabrack Navigations officer, who was currently piloting the ship in Kalon’s absence) called to her from the cockpit.
“Thank you, Operative.” Arcia tapped the intercom control on the communications console. “All hands, brace for FTL transition.”
With a lurch, the ship entered hyperspace. Lighting improved as the Cloaking Device automatically de-activated just after the jump.
She sighed. This was the calm before the storm. Cortel had seen enough of Teroch now to know that he didn’t plan to simply fumble about in the Transitory Mists trying to find their location. A direct approach would be suicide, even for the Nighthawk. There were a cacophony of pirates, Hapan Patrols and Slice-knew-what-else between them and Milnar. He’d need to have a plan. It was telling that she felt no small amount of trepidation about hearing it.
Teroch emerged onto the bridge the next morning with a cup of steaming caf in hand. Already on the bridge was Uji, who looked behind and nodded as the Captain stepped from the turbolift. The two marines flanking the doors snapped to attention. The youth merely waved a hand absently, letting them know there was no need for pomp and ceremony.
He yawned and sat down in the captain’s chair, and looked over the sensor readings. They were moving through a particularly dicey part of the mists fraught with gravitational anomalies not quite as destructive as black holes, but still enough to warrant having full active sensors on, meaning they couldn’t activate their cloaking device.
Arcia walked over from her station, looking tired but alert.
“We’re proceeding along the Lorrelli Reach between Sennex and Daruvvia. Unfortunately this portion of the lane is particularly unstable. We can’t make a hyperspace jump, as the navicomputer simply can’t compute a safe route. It’ll take us roughly eighteen hours to traverse it. It also means we’re uncloaked, as we need full sensors to be able to detect the gravity anomalies with enough time to navigate around them. You, uh, seem to be out of uniform, Captain.” The XO noted, glancing over his attire.
Teroch looked down at himself and shrugged, apparently unconcerned that an orange tank top, black joggers and sneakers wasn’t exactly standard issue in the Dajorra Intelligence Agency. “Log a formal complaint to your Commanding Officer, Cortel.” He replied, grinning over his cup of caf.
Arcia rolled her eyes, tucked the datapad under one arm, and leant on the console next to Teroch’s command chair. “So, are we just going to keep pushing forward, with no idea what to expect?”
“No, obviously. I’ve, uh, got a plan.” He said, and then slurped loudly from the cup.
“Are the rest of us going to be let in on this stroke of genius?”
“Probably.” He let the silence drag on, inwardly smiling.
Exasperated, Arcia relented. “When, exactly?”
Laughing, Teroch shoved her in the arm, spilling caf all over himself, which started him swearing loudly and viciously, in at least half a dozen different tongues that the XO could identify. She suppressed a smirk, and said “Shall I call a senior staff meeting once you’ve got cleaned up?”
“Yeah, sure.” Teroch managed in between bouts of cursing.
Arcia Cortel, Kalon Dane, Uji, Naradas, Celahir, Maaks and Nadrin were already present when Teroch entered the holonet transceiver salon, which also doubled as a briefing room. A table had risen from the floor, and the department heads and Soulfire’s Sergeant watched as the youth pulled a hoody over his stained top, then grinned wildly.
“Okay, so, we’re pretty much flying blind, unable to hide, and this ship isn’t exactly made for a pitched battle.” He began without preamble. “This doesn’t fly with me. Pun fully intended.”
Nadrin openly groaned and Celahir threw some scrunched up flimsi at him in disgust. Teroch grinned and carried on. “On the LR sensors is a small Royal Hapan Communications Relay. My plan is simple. The Hawk will strafe it, draw off as much of its defences as it can, and generally be the worst stealth ship in existence. Whilst we’re doing that, a few of Soulfire’s finest will escort our very own Celahir on board. He’ll plant a tap on their communications, and also slice past their security and do a full dump of their archives. Hopefully in there will be a safe way to traverse these di’kutla mists and get us to Milnar faster, and help us avoid the Hapans while we’re at it.”
“You’re serious.” Nadrin managed eventually.
“Aren’t you supposed to be, like, ridiculously smart?” Arcia asked.
“What?” Teroch answered defensively.
“Well, it’s so simple it’s asinine-“
“That makes it perfect! Nobody would expect us to try something so stupid!”
“You’re serious.” Nadrin repeated, deadpan.
“Usenye. My ship. My plan. We’re doing it.”
With that, Teroch stormed out, his expression stormy.
There was a moment of stunned silence. “Did…did the captain just throw a tantrum?” Uji asked carefully, struggling not to smile.
“I’ll talk to him.” Maaks said, sighing.
“I guess I’d better pick my team.” Nadrin returned, getting up.
“Right, you heard your toddler of a Commanding Officer. Kalon, plot a course for the station and brief the crew. I can’t imagine this is going to be fun.” Arcia commanded, inwardly groaning. If this was her new Captain’s command style, she didn’t see the Nighthawk lasting very long at all.
Dark Forge Battleteam/Darkest Night team
Kordath sighed to himself as the members of Dark Forge, and the rest who'd been on the bridge, wandered off to keep themselves busy. Trying desperately to keep his back to the view ports and avoid a panic attack in front of the entire bridge crew, he sidled his way up to the command chair.
“Commander...Hoarth, right?” asked the Ryn, keeping his voice steady.
The short Bothan nodded, “Aye!” the little long haired alien practically yelled out, nodding and staring out the forward view port at the Hapan vessels floating in space.
The Krath winced, pulling away from the loud little man, “I, right okay. No need to shout, Commander, I'm sure you were told I wasn't being left in actual charge or anything, so don't, ya know, act like I'm giving orders or anything...” the Ryn trailed off.
At this, the XO of the Darkest Night turned to peer at the shifty Knight beside him, who seemed resolute in looking at the aft wall of the bridge. Head cocking sideways and hair rippling slightly in amusement, he grinned toothily and asked, 'Whatever does that mean? Do you intend to give me a...suggestion, little Krath?”
“Oh no, no no, nothing like that, hah!” Kordath was starting to sweat, he could see space out of the corner of both of his eyes, and knew that it was just his imagination that they we're trying to meet in front of him, 'Just that, well, they left me to watch things, so I'd just like to....ask, ask you too please comm me if something happens. With the Hapans. Or the ship. Or...you know, if a situation arises,” finished the Knight, lamely.
“Oh don't worry, if anything goes wrong, I'll be certain to let you know, so you can sort it out,” said the Bothan, his smile getting bigger as the Ryn nodded absently before he started to woodenly walk towards the hatch behind the command chair.
“Great, great! I'll just...I'll just be further inwards, ya know, keep an eye out from in...side, or something.”
Irys Hoarth shook his head, wondering where Arcona found these people at times.
Several minutes later, Kordath Bleu was feeling much better, wandering the brightly lit corridors of the Darkest Night, well away from any windows. A flash of purple and black caught his eye, crossing down a passage ahead of him, causing him to quicken his step slightly. Stopping just short of the corner, he peered around to see what had caught his eye. The Ryn wasn't surprised to see the lithe Twi'Lek woman wandering the corridor, she'd been left behind the same as the rest of them, but her behavior was a bit odd.
Stepping around the corner, trying to act as casual as could be for running into another person in a ship the size of a small town, he coughed, trying to get her attention. She studiously ignored him, appearing to be looking for something as she made her way down the hall.
“Oi! K'tana!” he tried instead, raising his voice, and immediately felt foolish for it when she turned to set her brilliant green eyes on him, “Umm, lose something?”
“How is that any of your bus-” she stared, before the lights in the hall made a strange noise, and started blowing out one after another, causing the Ryn to let out a very un-warrior like noise and dash towards the Twi'lek woman. Both pulled the hoods of their robes up and did their best to use telekinesis to keep the majority of glass from raining down on themselves.
“Bloody hell, what was that?” shouted Kordath, looking around as the red emergency lights clicked on, and his comlink started to chirp. Likely Command Hoarth had an answer, he thought, pulling out the device, 'Yes?”
“Ah, Knight Bleu, this is Command Hoarth...interestingly enough, we've begun experiencing some strange power surges throughout the mid-decks.”
“You don't say?” replied the Ryn, sarcasm thickly infusing his words.
“Yes, well, you did ask to be kept in the loop. I have technicians looking into it, if your people are lacking in tasks, perhaps they could assist,” said the Commander, making the 'suggestion' sound more like a command.
“We'll see,” growled the Krath, glaring at the broken glass scattered around he and K'tana.
Being left on the ship was supposed to be boring, not...this, he thought sullenly.
Galares, left behind/abandoned with Dark Forge
BAC Darkest Night
Restlessness flooded K’tana’s being as she paced the ship's corridors. Liera, her Kowakian monkey-lizard, perched upon her shoulders as they made their rounds. The small creature chattered away and occasionally poked at her Mistress with a dulled little dagger she liked to play with, really more letter opener then anything else. On and off, K’tana would frown in annoyance, flip her lekku at Liera’s face, and bat her away to the other shoulder. She hoped something would happen that she could, at the very least, be entertained by; at least, other than the amusing idea of having Liera attack the Ryn commander’s tail, which kept flitting about in her head.
Suddenly, it seemed Liera grew bored and, for the first time since the two had been together, she leapt off K’tanas shoulders...and bolted.
“Ah, kark,” K’tana growled, “get back here hirani’chod!”
She lost sight of the grey- and thistle-colored being when she heard her name called, and was about to snap at her commander for the distraction from her search when the Ryn squealed in a high-pitched voice as explosions shook place around them. Moments later, glass was spraying around her and Kordath. She heard words between the commander and someone on the comm, but she had no time for whatever that was. She had to find Liera and make sure her little friend was safe.
“Be right back!” she yelled over her shoulder as she took off at a dead run towards where Liera had gone, calling her name as she ran. Her heart thumped violently in her chest and she could feel herself nearly in a panic. K’tana would never forgive herself if she let something happen to her only friend. Almost immediately, Liera came from around the corner scurrying up K’tana’s leg and clinging to her waist. She began gibbering, eyes full of fear and as big as saucers.
Cooing to the frightened monkey-lizard, K’tana made it back to Kordath before he managed to get very far. She walked on pace with him and but said nothing to him whilst petting and speaking softly to the greyish ball of fur that was coddled in the Twi’lek’s arms like a child. After a slow bubbling sound K’tanas eye’s turned in the Ryn’s direction.
“So, where do we start the search, Sir?” she demanded, secretly hoping to finally get an order from someone after the hours of boredom she’d just dealt with. When the look he gave her was nearly the same as that which came from Liera when she’d come around the corner, K’tana’s heart nearly hit the floor.
“Sir, please tell me you know what to do…” she asked, eyes wide and face going blank.
“Yes sir..ma’am...sir.” Replied Kalon, snapping off a quick salute with a smirk on his face. He ignored the half-serious glare that followed and split off from the assembled crewmen, making his way to the cockpit. The couple of hours rest had been well-received, though he had spend a lot of the time pacing if nothing else, the leg cramps he had suffered from the considerable length of time spent sitting down were more than just a minor annoyance.
“Give me back my ship, Orsai.” He said as he reached his seat, spinning it towards him as he fell into it. Kalon quickly adjusted it until he felt comfortable and turned towards the controls.
Beside him, the Navigations Officer was relinquishing control of the vessel just as he had been ordered to. Despite his grudge against the Zabrak’s presence, Kalon was beginning to realise how useful he could be to him. “You should go take a break as well, you’ve earned it.”
“Thank you, sir.” Replied Karth, pulling himself away from his station, with a rather happy look on his face. No doubt he was glad for the chance to collect himself after spending even more time penned up against the flight controls than Kalon had.
The lack of people in the cockpit made the Mandalorian breathe easy, the privacy of his work something he dearly craved; such a thing was hard to achieve on a busy picket-class vessel in the early stages of one of the most daring operations undertaken in Arconan history. Reaching over, he activated the ship-wide communications unit, intent of briefing the crew as ordered.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Helmsman speaking.” As he spoke Kalon began plotting a course for the station. “Our plan of action has been finalised and we are now initiating the first phase of the operation. As you probably already know, we have broken off from the BAC Darkest Night and the NSD Invicta and will not be meeting up with them again for a while, that suits me just fine, as it should you now that we have the element of surprise. Our Captain has selected a nearby Hapan Communications platform that we are going to strafe, disable, board and sabotage so we can find out a good route to Milinar without getting caught up with the Hapan fleet. Ready yourselves and report to your posts, await the Captain for further orders.”
With his brief speech over, Kalon switched off the communication unit. He took hold of the flight controls and began to follow the route he had plotted. It wasn’t long until he felt a presence behind him.
“Shouldn’t you be interrogating some poor Gizka, ner’vod.” He said, turning his head to watch as Nath sat down in the vacant Co-pilot’s seat.
The Iridonian’s lip twitched into an ever so slight grin, it would have been impossible to tell that her mouth had moved at all to an outsider, but Kalon and Nath were familiar enough to note each other's mannerisms.
“Well, I find it quite boring down there. What with no two arm-two legged captives to burn and slice.”
The Mandalorian chuckled, looking down briefly to adjust the engine power and in extension the thrust level as the Nighthawk reached one of the more unstable points of the hyperlane.
Bits of space rock and ship wreckage as large as the Arconan flagship floated just outside of the safe zone around the ship. They weren’t really much of a problem for now, but if the amount of debris intensified then alternative routes would need to be calibrated. The Templar did not want it to come to that though, as this would put the Nighthawk behind schedule by a considerable amount of time.
“So you have resorted to coming up here with the intent of torturing your most beloved Pilot?” Kalon mused, turning his seat forty-five degrees so he was facing the Dark Jedi Knight as well as his flight station.
“You’re lucky I’ve decided to come to you to pass the time, ori’vod.”
“Executive Officer Arcia Cortel would not appreciate that.”
“I don’t give an osik what she thinks.” Grumbled Nath, her face showing that she was completely serious. Opinions about the mysterious XO varied across the entirety of the crew, but most held her in a similar regard. Kalon didn’t like her much, but he trusted in Teroch’s choice for a second in command.
“We shall see, Nath.” Replied the Mandalorian, turning his seat back to face the viewport and his waiting flight controls.
Nath reclined back in the chair, shifting uncomfortably, still feeling the warmth left by the previous occupant whom had walked past her. The pair exchanged a glance but neither had really spoken to the other as yet, not that Nath relished the prospect all that much. More and more, she had begun to find strangers a hindrance.
Every now and then her gaze drifted to Kalon's hands, observing the well-learnt reactions before returning back to the view before her once more, even though she didn't really process what she was seeing, her mind drifting back to the previous twelve hours. Once she had sat on the floor panelling and settled to work, it was as though the comings and goings of the ship had passed her by, hour after hour she read the dossiers without moving. When Kalon had been dismissed, he paused to look at her before getting her to leave also.
“Ner'vod, you need to sleep.” He had said, dragging her attention away reluctantly. He knew if it had been almost anyone else who had said this they would have been ignored.
“Hmm? How long has it been?”
“Close to twelve hours.” Came his reply. She hesitated before responding, finishing off the last paragraph quickly.
“...I see.” The Iridonian had rose to her feet quickly, unwilling to show that her joints had locked around five hours previously.
Nath had followed him into the turbolift and parted ways in comfortable silence, once he had left she jabbed the button to go to the lower levels, she had no idea where she would sleep, but she would be damned if she was going to bunk with others, the ship must have somewhere secluded. It had taken her a few hours but she had found somewhere, though she tried sleep had not come easily, eventually she had given up and accepted she would only receive a few hours, it was better than nothing.
The Iridonian's return to the cockpit had not been planned either, her feet seemed to have carried her there as her mind turned over the new information she had received. Realising that she had not responded to her brother she looked back to him and eventually replied.
“You trust Teroch's judgement in picking her?” She asked quietly.
“I believe she is a necessary balance for him.” Nath gave him a curious glance, she already knew what he alluded to but it was not his own feeling on the woman.
“And your own opinion?” She pressed on quizzically.
“...I am not overly fond of her.” His response was quite predictable for the Iridonian, neither of them were particularly sociable creatures, however, at times the silent company they gave one another was welcomed. Arcia struck as quite a vocal figure to both of them and though at times this was needed both Nath and Kalon felt there were also times a more diplomatic approach would be required.
Content now Kalon had rendered his own thoughts she fell back into silence, the only noise she made was when she removed her boots and pulled her legs up to rest her feet on the cusp of the chair, her arms coiled around her long lower limbs forcing her knees to press against her chest.
Sometimes I wonder if that guy has a screw loose, or is just messing us around for his own amusement.
Nadrin walked out of the impromptu briefing room and pushed the thought away, focusing instead on the mission he was about to undertake. He knew full well that he wouldn't be taking the whole squad, and so had been working out in his mind the members that he would take with him as he made his way towards the hangar where the rest of his squad would be waiting. Several names were coming to the front of his mind as he made the short trip, emerging into the hangar and seeing the members of Soulfire milling around the area they had been given, some looking more worse for wear than others.
“Right, we've been given a mission to complete and for it I'll be taking some of for it. Wes, River and Andrel, come with me and I'll brief you on the way to picking up our last member. The rest of you, stay on alert should anything go wrong, we'll be entering a combat situation and given the...slapdash nature of the plan that has been concocted, I want you all to be ready in a pinch if we need you.”
The three members that he had mentioned rose and joined him as the young Warlord once more left the hangar, this time making his way towards the small bridge of the ship, talking as he went.
“Basically, we're going to be escorted Celahir to some communication relay so that he can plug in, suck some data out that we need and we all high tail it out of there. No idea of enemy strength or potential resistance, all I know is that these sort of plans always hit bumps and so we're there to make sure the bumps don't derail what we're trying to do.”
They emerged onto the bridge and Nadrin looked around, noticing that the room was, for the moment at least, relatively quiet. Leaving his three companions for a moment, the Sith walked towards the two Arconan's who were sat at the front of the bridge, and tapped one of them on the shoulder.
“Put out a call for Celahir to come to the bridge, and might as well call Teroch as well while you're at it.”
Kalon didn't even look around, a bemused noise escaping his lips as he scoffed at Nadrin's words.
“You're not my supervisor, do it yourself.”
Red hot anger raced through the Arconae as he felt himself act almost on autopilot, his hand shooting out and going to grab the Obelisk's neck only to be stopped at the last second as Nadrin gained control of himself again and held back, his anger receding but not leaving him entirely. His voice lowered as he spoke, his tone clipped and precise as he leaned in closer towards the other man.
“I am your superior in every sense of the word. You are not indispensable little Mando boy, and I would advise you watch your tongue around those who could tear you apart without moving a muscle. I am Arconae, and I say make the call.”
Nadrin didn't wait for a response as he turned on his heel and stormed away, his expression cloudy beneath the mask that he wore as he approached the members of his squad who were stood by the entrance to the bridge. Riverche saw his approach and tilted her head slightly, her eyes narrowing as she looked at her leader.
“Everything alright Sarge? You seem a bit tense.”
“I'll be fine River, just doing some public relations work for the squad.”
Even as he said this, the ship-wide communication system activated and Kalon's voice came over it.
“Captain and Celahir to the bridge.”
Smart choice. Now, let's get them here and get this underway.
Deck 4 - Engineering
“What about now? Is it getting through?” Uji laid underneath the console and again marveled at the younger man, sitting in a chair, leaned back against the console, not even facing the controls.
“Nope… still no signal, You sure you know what you're doing?” Celahir mocked as he tested the comms again. His psicom interface felt every signal from the nearby consoles, systems, and reactors, every one of them accessible without him so much as thinking about it.
Growling, Uji removed another burnt-out fuse. The new cloaking device drew an incredible amount of energy, and had continued to burn out other systems when activated. The experimental device was going to take additional work to get running properly. To Uji’s growing discontent, most of the backlash from the cloak seemed to be hitting the communications systems that hadn’t been properly shielded before departure.
“Shab!” Celahir fell forward and covered his ear, instincts taking over even as useless as the gesture was.
“Yeah, you got it, and about blew my karking ear out.” Moving his jaw as he deactivated the commlink built into his body, Celahir turned to the console and started making adjustments to the systems manually as he re-routed and ran tests throughout the ship to ensure they had the new level online.
Uji came to his feet and stood above the younger man, watching the results of their work. Each of them had taken additional shifts from their primary roles to play maintenance, attempting to bring the ship as close to peak performance as possible they had both returned to engineering after the impromptu meeting that Teroch had stormed out of.
“If Arcia had ever bothered to get us some help, maybe we’d be done by now; instead we’re still pissing around with engineering instead of getting some sleep.” Celahir groused. The man had an issue with just about every officer aboard, specifically any officer who tried to give him orders outside of Teroch.
“If we had more then three people aboard who understood how to turn a wrench, maybe we’d get somewhere.” Uji commented, both men smirking before hearing the announcement over the freshly-working comm units.
“Captain and Celahir, report to the bridge.” Kalon’s voice came through, obvious irritation in the Mandalorian’s words.
“Oh kark, who pissed off grumpy?”
“Better go find out. I’m headed down to deck five. Stay sharp Celahir.”
Blue Talon Safehouse, Estele City, Selen
“Marrek, have your cell breach… no survivors.” Kanis said, he lowered his fingers from his ear mounted communicator and looked to his apprentice. “Ellie.” he said, “Today you will learn what the world is like, you kill them before they have a chance to take everything you love. Because when they hit you… They hit you hard.” The shard had experienced exactly what her master spoke of, but she realised he wasn’t necessarily talking about her, it was more of a flashback. A piece of his past that he’d tried to bury along with what he used to be.
The shard nodded. “I understand, but-” she didn’t have time to explain before Kanis cut her off.
“No survivors… No exceptions…” The Templar growled in a low tone.
Just then the Human whipped out his light saber and stabbed the locking mechanism, the door slid open and Kanis charged in. The militants were taken by surprise, or so Kanis had thought; he sliced through his first opponent almost as if he were a defenseless child. An assailant who’d just emerged from a near by room, grabbed him from behind. The Arconan thrashed around for a moment before he growled and threw his back into a nearby wall, the Equite spun around and threw his fist into the man’s face before pulling out the Fang which he planted directly into the assailant’s gut and promptly ripped it to the side, he threw the man down spilling out his intestinal tract and reactivated his light saber which he brought up in just enough time to cut through a vibrosword.
Ellie watched in an almost emotionless daze as her master slaughtered the insurgents, in fact this event almost acted as a trigger nearly taking her back to the day her parents were killed, but she quickly snapped out of it and proceeded into the room with her amory saber hilt in hand.
Kanis roared as a hidden assailant drove a vibroshiv into his left forearm, he tightened his muscles to hold the blade in place and spun around whipping his saber into a violent slash angled directly at the man’s neck. The Blue Talon thug gasped as the saber bit into him and slid through flesh, muscle, and bone as if it were non-existent; his severed head and body fell to the floor near simultaneously.
Ellie’s attention was directed towards one final assailant who dashed towards her master who had his back turned. Acting quickly, the Guardian sprinted forward and threw her saber into a swing cutting through her target’s left kneecap. The man yelped, and Kanis spun around and bashed his right fist into the man’s face throwing him back, just as he was about to drive his light saber into the man’s chest his apprentice stopped him.
“Kanis wait… We might be able to get information out of him.” she suggested.
She snapped Kanis out of his blood rage and lowered his right arm. The adrenaline slowly started to fade from his veins and he looked down at his left arm which now began to sting before a numbing pain settled in.
The Coruscanti gripped the handle of the vibroshiv and took in a deep breath, he then ripped the blade out of his arm, this feat caused a minor blood squirt. Placing his hand over the wound, he closed his eyes and began to focus on his healing abilities while Ellie watched over their newly gained informant. For a moment or two Kanis said nothing, but once his wound was healed to the point where he felt he could operate normally he left it alone and decided he’d finish the job later.
“Alright friend.” he said to the Blue Talon Insurrectionist, “Let’s have a little chat shall we?” he grabbed the man’s collar and dragged him into the back room.
“No, no! Please!” the man cried. The door slid shut and then everything was nearly quiet.
Battleteam Dark Forge
BAC Darkest Night
The Templar had taken to pacing the halls of the Darkest Night, restless energy urging him to constantly be moving. Celevon was used to being in the thick of things, not guarding a semi-quiet ship. Deciding what to, the Onderonian turned to walk off to the lifts in search of a sparring partner when an explosion from the level below made him stumble.
Quickly popping the comlink on by instinct alone, the Assassin barked out. “What the frak is going on? Are we under attack?! SitRep!”
There was a split-second of silence before a rich voice responded, a slightly amused lilt. “One was just wondering the very same. May one inquire as to whom is speaking?”
“Celevon Edraven,” the Onderonian replied, momentarily stumped as he tried to place the feminine voice.
“Ah, yes. The newest addition to Dark Forge. Shall we meet up near the turbolifts to investigate the disturbance and try to discover the reason for comm silence?”
“Certainly. It’s a level below me, so I’ll be waiting just outside of the lift,” Celevon replied in attempted polite tones, his voice muffled by the mask.
“One will be easy to recognize. Black and purple.”
“Very well. See you in a few,” the Templar said, flicking the comlink back to the channel that the Ryn had said was used exclusively with Dark Forge.
“I think I have seen you before with Rollmaster Inahj,” the Obelisk stated as soon as the Knight stepped off of the lift. The wisdom in the woman’s eyes along with the youthful appearance made guessing a general age difficult.
“That would be because he is one’s lover. One’s name is Kookimarissia Mimosa. Shall we investigate the disturbance?” She asked, tapping the hilt of her lightsaber against her hip in an almost impatient manner.
“Most certainly,” Celevon replied, gesturing for the Krath to proceed him.
Dark Forge Battleteam
BAC Darkest Night
Kordath stared at the woman in front of him and attempted to school his features. For some reason, he was in charge of this situation, and she was asking him what to do. And, in a detached part of his mind, she'd gained a small, beaked creature that was clinging fearfully to her.
'So she likes little hairy things, huh?' another part of his brain said, which he promptly tried to ignore.
Realizing that he was still staring at the green-eyed Twi'lek, he shook himself, “Could be..sabotage? Or just a failure in the system....this ship saw a lot of combat against the One Sith, afterall.”
'That sounded confident, right?' he thought to himself.
“Then what are we going to do?” K'tana asked him, petting her carry-on companion to soothe it.
Racking his brain, Kordath tried to recall the layout of the ship, before turning and gesturing down the hall, “This way! Engineering is down this way, I think. Maybe they can tell us what the hell is going on.”
A few steps down the hall, and the Ryn yelped, jumping nearly a foot in the air from both surprise and pain, as something pinched him through his robes. Turning, and superstitiously rubbing at the area near where his tail started, he found K'tana staring at him, a blush rising in her violet cheeks. Kordath felt a similar heat in his own ears.
“So, engineering?” said the Twi'lek, pushing past him and walking quickly. Distantly, and confusedly, Kordath wondered where the creature she'd been carrying had gone.
Blinking, trying to order his thoughts, he shouted out after her, 'Yes! Wait, not so fast...”
Several minutes of awkward silence later, the two Knights walked through a hatch into the organized, frantic chaos that was the engineering deck in a state of emergency. Kordath was at a loss, watching junior technicians run around in what appeared to be circles, but likely doing things of importance.
“Get out, or get to work!” barked a voice that any other time would have likely been pleasant to hear. Kordath and K'tana turned to find a Zeltron glaring at them, her skin pinkish in tone, and a patch that proclaimed her to be 'Chief' on her uniform.
“Umm, Knights Kordath and K'tana, at your service, Chief Yamalah,” said the Ryn, trying to read the strange name that was stitched across the woman's chest, before realizing that it looked quite like he was leering. That feeling of warmth was suffusing his ears again, he noticed.
“At my service, huh?” she said, eyebrow quirked, her tone changing to something far nicer, “Good, I got too many problems in the power system right now after that surge to let any techs go and actually find the karking problem. Access panels are over there,,”she said, gesturing over her shoulder to a set of small hatches set in the bulkhead.
“Find out what's going on, will you? If it's just a power regulator or something blown out, it will be very obvious, smoke and all that. Most everything is labeled, so just call back down to let us know what's broke.” said the Chief, before turning to yell at a passing tech.
“Ummm, after you?” said the Ryn to the Twi’lek, gesturing towards the nearest hatch.
Posted on behalf of KP Maaks Erinos, who had to step out before proofing was finished.
"Oi- osik, you're napping now?"
Stretched out on his bed, the young Adept rested his head against his arms facing the ceiling, a trail of smoke bending away from the cigarette in his mouth.
Maaks walked towards him with his arms folded, his hooded tunic stretched tightly over his chest. He waited patiently for a response but was met with a well-practiced indifference. Scowling, the Priest waited and watched but when the reply didn’t come he looked around the room. The Miraluka pretended to find interest in the simply furnished room until he felt Teroch glance at him, the cigarette nearly at its end. The youth reached out to smash it into an ashtray.
“Ad’ika, what’s wrong?”
At first he simply rubbed a hand through his dark hair, his eyes narrowed towards the ceiling. Then he shrugged and sighed. Maaks had to suppress a laugh but nevertheless wandered over to the bed and sat down, pushing away the many emotions now igniting in his vision through the Force.
“I dunno what’s wrong with me, I just can’t seem to concentrate for very long. And…”
The Elder rolled away from his friend, lifting his knees slightly to his chest.
"I dont know what to do. It’s just-”
Teroch nodded into his pillow. There was a short silence before Maaks stood again and walked to the other side of the bed and knelt down to face his captain. A gentle shift in the Force linked their minds for a moment and something passed between them. A leg swung out and kicked the Equite gently.
“Not now, Maaks.”
“Yes, now”, the Krath was on his feet with his arms crossed in seconds, attempting what he thought was closest to a glare, “You have an entire ship waiting for you to command, a crew that is baffled by your little display earlier but, thankfully, trustful enough in your skills to obey you and not to mention-”
“Enough, you don’t need to say-”
“And Kote. He’s waiting for you to act too”, he paused, watching as the youth curled up just a little more. Pushing his glasses closer to his nose he softened. The Force whispered to him and filled in the gaps, “You can’t lose Sashar, Teroch. You can’t lose him if you lose Kote. He’s your father, he’s part of you and is always there in your memories. And actually, if you get up off your butt, theres no chance of you losing Kote, either. You’ve done things that most can only dream of all by yourself. You’re strong, you can do this.”
Maaks let the words sink in for a moment whilst the spectrum of emotions in the room shimmied into a more appropriate shape, sighing with relief as he watched his friends body visibly relax. Teroch sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, a strong flickering of calm encompassing his aura. He looked up at the ceiling.
“But what if this-”
“Nope, we’ll have none of that, it’s beneath you. Now come on, get some real clothes on, get back and start telling people what to do. And make sure you smoke another before you do, everyone seems to react quicker to an authoritative voice with a little gravel in it.”
They smiled at each other and Teroch jumped to his feet.
“Okay, but if I have to change so do you. Too distracting”, he attempted a wink which made Maaks chuckle,”But these may have to go. Why do you wear them so much, Sash’buir gave you eye pearls, right?”
The youth reached up quickly and snatched the circular black glasses that Maaks wore. There was a soft pause because the Elder half gasped, half frowned. It only took fraction a second before the eye contact was too much. Maaks made a strangled sound. The walls became like water, still and firm. The Force coiled itself within him and then the walls fell down. The Force rushed over him and he was lost to it.
Location: Med Bay
A tower made of bodies, black and faceless, sleek and bathed in light that flowed above from whatever cavern it lay in. A speck of colour rimmed the top like a polished crown but too far to see detail. A woman’s hand, large but graceful, fingers lightly extended as it touched the tower affectionately. Then came the popping. Hideous screaming as the hand made subtle movements. It all happened in a few seconds and then the indiscernible images spat at him until he could no longer withstand it-
Maaks shifted on the gurney and flicked ash into a cup by the bedside. His arms were still shaking but he let his irritation fuel him to take another drag before dropping it in the cup. The door chimed making him jump.
“Ad’ika? You okay?”
Teroch walked in followed quickly by a stiff looking Arcia. The Miraluka nodded to them both, tensing himself to stop the shaking. Arcia looked at him once, then walked back to the door to gesture to someone. When she returned to the room, a droid joined them.
“What’s going on?”
“Don’t worry, nobody knows anything other than the people in this room. And that”, he gestured to the droid,”We just wanted to take some precautions.”
There was a distance to him that Maaks immediately disliked. Something was seriously wrong. He steeled himself and sat up, making sure to face them all head on.
“What did I say, Ter?”
“It’s okay, everythings fine-”
“Are you patronising me?”
“No, look, you weren’t...yourself, but everything is fine. I’ve got to run this mission real quick, and then we’re going to have a short meeting afterwards”, he glanced at Arcia as he said this and she nodded sternly,”2-1B is going to stay with you in the meantime. Don’t panic, everything is fine.”
“Captain and Celahir, report to the bridge.” Kalon’s voice came over the ship-wide intercom, and Teroch cast an irritated look towards the speaker. The Erinos managed a brave smile towards the invalid Maaks before sweeping from the room. Arcia gave him a quick, hard look before following and the droid stepped forward.
Teroch walked onto the bridge, his head awash with different problems all vying for his attention. On the one hand, he needed to manage the upcoming attack; the Nighthawk’s first official combat, during which time he was sending his brothers into a potentially fatal insertion just for a shortcut. Was it really worth the risk? On the other, there was Kote, his father’s last gift to him. Granted, Kote was just a pet, but he was as much a part of his life as hands. The Consul had decreed that they were to do everything in their power to get the cure for the Cythrauls, and Teroch was fully behind it, yet he knew there would be plenty of people within Arcona who couldn’t give a damn about the ‘dogs’ and their mysterious weakness. And on top of that, there was now Maaks, who appeared to have Force Visions, only a lot more intense. The Miraluka had become violent, speaking nonsense, then had dropped to the floor as if he were experiencing an epileptic fit.
He had to compartmentalise. Closing his eyes, he breathed in once and imagined Sashar was there, talking quietly to him.
“They look to you for cues on how to feel. If you look worried, they will be too. It’s a new crew, and they’re all unsure. You can’t appear to be. Even if you’re tearing your hair out in private, little explosions like in the briefing can’t fly. You’re their captain, and they’ve entrusted their lives to you. Show them the respect they deserve and be the leader they need. You’re my son. They expect nothing but the best. Do what you were bred to.”
He opened his eyes. A second had passed. Smiling amiably, Teroch proceeded up onto the small raised podium, leant down on it and stared intently at the local map.
“Okay, status report.”
Arcia cleared her throat from the operations console. “We’re at the drop-off point, just outside their sensor range. Nadrin and his team are ready-“
Celahir walked onto the bridge in his usual attire, looking tired, big bags under his startlingly green eyes.
“Oya. Get down to the hangar, ori’vod, Nad’ika’s waiting for you.”
“Not even a ‘hi’.” Celahir muttered as he stepped into the turbolift.
“Okay, let’s do this. Uji, sound general quarters. Tell me when all departments report ready.”
An alarm klaxon sounded, accompanied by Uji telling the crew to assume battle stations. A tense few minutes followed, and the bridge filled up considerably.
Teroch drummed a nervous tattoo on the rails with his fingers as one by one, the stations lit green, signalling readiness.
“All stations reported in. Also, the Shuttle has launched. They’re holding position a klick off our port bow.” Uji called out.
Nodding, Teroch left the podium and walked swiftly from the bridge to the cockpit, Arcia following on his heels.
“Okay, Karth, plot a micro-jump which will leave us less than two and a half klicks from the station. Be ready to engage on my signal.”
He turned about, patting Kalon on the shoulder as he passed and walked back onto the bridge proper.
“Naradas. On my mark, target their sensors with everything we’ve got. I want those down before they can raise the shields. We’ll then do a few strafing passes, then bug out. If their sensors are down, they won’t see the shuttle until they’re already in the hangar. It’ll help us avoid their fire, as their targeting computers won’t be nearly as efficient.”
The taciturn head of security nodded curtly from the tactical console, and the Captain and his XO resumed their stations.
“Course plotted, Captain.” Kalon called from the bridge.
“You’ve only got one shot at this, Naradas. Don’t miss.” Teroch cautioned, then nodded to Arcia.
“Operative Beviin, mark!” She called out.
“All hands, brace for FTL.” Kalon’s filtered voice came over the intercom.
As soon as he finished, the ship slipped into Hyperspace for the barest of seconds, then the craft decanted almost immediately afterwards.
“Raise shields, Naradas, mark!” Teroch barked out.
The Tactical officer’s hands danced across the console. A blue shimmer appeared around the 3D schematic of the Nighthawk and the floor beneath their feet rumbled repeatedly as all of the weapons on the craft fired repeatedly at the sensor array, mounted close to the top of the XQ-2 Platform which had appeared before them.
“Sensor installation damaged, but they’re still reading as operational. Firing another salvo.” Naradas calmly reported, no emotion detectable in his clipped accent.
Again, the ship’s floor rumbled. “Sensors destroyed. Shifting target to communications-“
“They’ve raised shields and we have approximately five targeting locks.” Arcia sounded out, glancing up at Teroch.
“Kalon, take evasive action. Naradas, continue firing with the laser cannons. Try to target non-critical systems.”
“Firing, minimal damage.” He reported. The interial compensators struggled to keep up with Kalon’s acrobatics and the crew felt a shift in gravity.
“The shuttle’s just dropped out of hyperspace. They’re holding position outside visual range. Hangar doors are opening. They’re launching fighters. So far, sixteen miy’til fighters are out. They’re assuming attack formation and approaching our stern.”
Teroch grinned. “We’ve kicked the hornet’s nest, people. Naradas, shift aft lasers to fire a suppressing barrage at the fighters.“
The ship rocked heavily from a sustained blast from the station. Teroch grimaced as several conduits rained sparks down across the bridge. A quick look confirmed that none of the crew were hurt.
“Aft shields down to sixty-four percent, and some power couplings attached to the cloaking device seem to have come loose. We can’t cloak until they’re repaired.” Naradas supplied, not looking from his console.
“Miy’tils have avoided our cannons and are moving to strafe us-“
Again, the ship rocked from a sustained turbolaser blast, and smaller auxiliary rumbles shook the ship.
“Shields down. Engines are taking fire.” Naradas reported.
“Okay, that’s enough for us. Kalon, get us out of here.”
Moments later, the ship performed a micro jump to safety.
BAC Darknest Night
“Sir, we are having power fluctuations around the ship, and Engineering is trying to work on fixing the issue as we speak.” The voice of Danni Yamalah could be heard thru the communication system.
Turning around on his heels, Irys allowed a small hiss to come to his lips, hating the creaking and groaning that was surrounding the Bothan Assault Cruiser. knowing full well that if anything happened to the Galeres flagship, it would be his well-being on the line; and he had already seen the temper that the Iridonian Captain carried around with him at all times.
Hearing his name being shouted out from down the corridor, his head snapped around as he listened to the sound of boots sprinting up to him with speed.
“We got problems, Sir! Hapan is sending a small greeting party to the Darkest Night.” From the shaking voice and choppy speech, it was obvious the boy had clearly been running to find the Executive Officer. The news made the Bothan’s eyes open up wide as his brain understood the words that were being spoken to him.
“You’re joking, right?” He asked with some effort, his voice calm and collected as he addressed the ensign, thinking that there had been some sort of mix up.
“Apparently not, Sir. They are waiting at the docking port for your welcome…”The man’s voice trailed off as the lighting system on the ship began to fluctuate.
“This ship is bugging up, and we have to meet a load of people and entertain them?” Irys spat, his voice cold, almost like a hiss as he spoke to the ensign.
“Then...but...we can’t just tell them no, Sir?” He questioned hesitantly, just knowing what the response would be.
“No, we can’t. Go find Lord Kordath; get Dark Forge to look after them. What could possibly go wrong?” The Bothan snarled, his voice almost inhuman now as his anger began to boil up at the address the young ensign was making with him.
Spinning on the balls of his feet, the man sprinted back off to gather the scattered members of the team, searching until finally he had the members of Dark Forge assembled in front of the docking bay.
“Instructions, Sir: you are to see to the guests that are coming onboard.” With that, the man ran back off to his post, the power still fluctuating with each passing moment.
Kordath sighed to himself. Once more, it seemed that he had been stuck with the task of being an inbetween guy, someone to simply get out of the way and have nothing to do with any of the important tasks like fixing the ship. Why they trusted him to diplomacy, he would never know, but he was really missing his flask about now.
Hearing the hissing noise of the docking doors, his eyes turned round towards the hanger. Looking out, his jaw nearly dropped slightly. In front of the team were what could be explained as twenty of the most beautiful ladies most of them would have ever seen. Each one was wearing what could be deceived as seductive clothing for most.
It seemed, for once, Kordath had a good assignment. An impish grin came across his lips as he realised how lucky things would be.
“Er, hello, ladies. I’m Kordath, this is my team, and we are here to escort you on your visit round this ship.” He managed, his voice squeaking a bit at firstas he spoke recovered from his speechlessness.
With a simple nod, the group began their way into the quiet, flickering corridors of the ship. As they walked, the supposed-leader of the Hapan group slowed her pace, dropping to the back.
“Find a point where we can begin operations. Take them in groups of two, and make sure they do not escape, sister.” She whispered to her cohorts, her voice cold and deceiving, not matching her shining complexion as she smiled at her hosts.
Galeres House Team
Cethgus and his team continued their tour of the house, the Quaestor’s impatience growing with each door they tried, with each room they searched. Finally, they entered somewhere of note, though the three of them could hardly believe their luck. Cethgus’ eyes light up like a hail of blaster-fire as he looked around, a small smile came onto his lips as he checked out his surroundings.
“This can't be?” His voice showed the excitement of the situation he had found himself in as he looked around the bedroom, obviously long-disused despite the immaculate state of the furniture. Still, one thing was clear: the small, aged nameplate embedded in the door, almost like a pet’s name, spelling [Marick, according to their translators.
“I think this was the Consul’s room...” Lexi was the first to speak as she entered the threshold scanning her surroundings.
“Is this him as a kid?” Anduriel picked a holoframe up from a counter as he studied it for a few seconds, a huge grin across his lips.
The other two of them flanked Anduriel as they looked at the picture. The Primarch had a childish grin on his face as he figured out what he was going to do before he stepped back slightly. His eyes glanced down to the photo then he walked away to study the rest of the room, allowing himself time to look around.
“Take it with you, Anduriel, I would love to remind Marick of his childhood.” He ordered, his voice cold, almost sinister as he watched the Knight pocket the object.
“He did look rather cute...” Lexi’s words were tinged with innocence as she watched the Iridonian turn around and shoot her a glare she simply giggled and continued to look around the room. Once the group was finished exploring, as with every room before them, they headed out of the room and on down the corridor. Lexi and Anduriel had become good at checking the rooms, taking little to no time at all, as well as jotting down notes as they went. They continued to progress around the mansion with speed.
As Cethgus watched from outside in the corridor, he heard footsteps approaching the group, and knew full-well that they were not alone. As he spun around to face the approachers, he noticed a female flanked by two guards. She stopped in front of him as the guard pointed to him as well. The two Knights were inside the room and out of sight.
“This is him, ma’am.” It was the guard from earlier, the man’s voice cold with clearly lingering sore feelings.
“You presume to flaunt about this estate without justification, Zabrak?” The women's words could be described as venom, the way she addressed the Quaestor, like spitting at vermin.
Growling slightly, Cethgus nearly removed her head, but remembered his duty as he noticed the hurried noise of boots behind him and he watched as the two Knights flanked him on either side. It seemed like a stand-off then, and tensions were rising. Cethgus knew that his position and Marick’s pride would be damaged if anything went wrong.
“We will leave, then. This conversation is something I do not wish to get involved in.” He stated frigidly, feeling his pride sink down he turned to lead away the group.
“You were not dismissed, ingrate. Know your place. You go where I command when told.” She commanded, her voice strong and haughty as she reached out and grabbed the Primarch by the shoulder.
Instinct kicked in at the grip and he spun around, his palm coming out to meet the woman’s nose, sending a blood-curdling scream into the air. Bone shattered, and the septum of her nose ripped its way up into her brain, dropping her instantly as blood seeped from her head. The guards were quick on the heel, calling in for back-up as their blasters came up, only to be cut at the barrels by the Obelisk’s sabers. Standing his ground, Cethgus noted the Knights posie themselves ready as the sound of boots thundering towards them could be heard. The team found themselves quickly surrounded, and as he looked towards the troops, he knew that they had no way to win, not without endangering the Journeymen in the carnage.
“Which one of you was it?” A new female commander’s voice rippled through the halls.
It was clear they didn’t have an advantage. Out gunned and out matched in fighting, it would seem. The Equite weighed the odds as he glanced to the Knights of the Clan, and a small sigh escaped his lips. His grips dropped as he let the two sabers roll from his fingers, clattering to the floor as they deactivated.
“It was only me. The other two are still in effect by your parley standards; or is your word meaningless, bitch?” Cethgus’ loathing voice towards the female made clear his feelings for them, making sure he took the focus of the blame.
Without warning, the cold but of a gun slammed into the Primarch’s stomach, sending him to his knees. Feeling his arms pinned from behind, he was hauled up to face the commander, his eyes glazed with hate, though he didn’t risk fighting back, even knowing he could snap her neck...
“We shall see what the Matriarch thinks of your murdering one of our own, scum.” Her voice chilled as she slapped Cethgus before the group of guards dragged him towards the central chamber.
Lexi hissed, though held back, knowing it was not Cethgus’s intention for her to get involved. She picked his sabers up from the ground as she followed her captured Master with Anduriel, knowing nothing good could come from his outburst of violence.
Galeres Run-On Team
Lexi anger flared instantly the sight of her Master being brought down so easily, this angered her, his sabers in her grip as she tightened her fingers around them.
What the hell are you doing Master? We could kill all of them without even getting scratched. her telepathy also conveyed her complete rage of the fact that the bitch slapped him and the one that hit you with the gun she has special plans for that one. She will die slow and screaming.
Outwardly, Lexi was admiring the Hapan female warriors, “Commander you will really have to tell me where a girl can get a few like you for herself. Fast, tough, well trained and simply better looking than any lowly male.”
“We are born and trained this way, unlike this one we are noble and forged in fire” her voice cold as she spoke towards the female knight, it seemed she would be agreeing with the act of Parley for the others for now.
“Forged in fire? Really how fascinating,” her voice that of a young impressionable youth, she walked up to the commander and smiled at her. Trying not to make it too predatory in nature, Lexi spoke again, “You said nobles, so you are learning to eventually command your own house then by being the commander here. Most impressive,” she looked over at Cethgus and sneared, “Unlike others near by.” trying to make it sound like she was utterly disappointed with him, in point of fact she was beginning to understand his move. How else do we get inside the inner chamber. armed.
I want to watch her burn slowly, I think I should have made use of the Krath sooner perhaps they know a power that ignites others, I want to watch her burn in her forge fires. I am going to burn this whole place to the ground my master, mark my words, forged in fire, indeed!
“It sounds like you have a dislike for this male?” the Woman stopped the group as she turned to face Lexi, addressing her directly now, ignoring Anduriel as she to see what Lexi would respond with.
Lexi stops and regards the commander, “Actually, I am less interested in him than I am in you.” She said taking a step into the commanders space, “You,” she hesitated for a moment, “You I could have a great liking to.”
“At the moment, we have a betrayer in our midsts, my hands are tied, I must fulfill my duties first” her voice showed dedication to her role, to her cause and to her position as she spoke.
“Dutiful, well trained and good looking, you sure I am not actually dreaming?” the tone told you she was somewhat impressed with the woman, however, Cethgus could tell she was more sizing the woman up for a kill than anything else, “Forged in fire,” Lexi said again, “I’ll remember that commander, shall we?” motioning for her to continue to the inner hall.
Abducted by Dark Forge
BAC Darkest Night
K’tana looked the Hapan women up and down, almost jealous of their pretty, and very revealing outfits. She blinked rapidly, smiled and shook her head trying to keep herself from staring at the gorgeous women. Looking over at the Ryn, whose ears had turned beet red, she smirked and stepped in front of the Commanding Officer.
“Ladies, as you are not use to taking direction from males, let me please offer my assistance, with the permission of my CO, of course.” she turned at the last bit, addressing Kordath.
He blinked at the Twi’lek, eyes widening by the second.
“Uuhm, well...I ugh, ahem,” he cleared his throat and tried again, “if it makes our guests more…”
Just as he was about to finish his sentence, four more Hapan women, who the group did not notice missing, came around the corner with Celevon and Kookimarissa. The women were clinging to the arms of the man and woman, two for each, giggling as they walked them towards the rest of the group. Celevon’s stance was unreadable, but he seemed to be enjoying the attention. K’tana’s glance flickered over Kookimarrisa so quickly, she barely registered the woman there.
Kordath briefly looked over his shoulder towards the giggling, ears going brighter, and he began stammering again, this time he was unintelligible with his speech. A few of the women crowded closer to him, their lilting laughter filling up the corridors. The women’s attention did not exclude K’tana. A few began pressing closer to her as well, their taller frames nearly towering over the petite Tyrian. A few of them even were lightly running their fingers down her lekku in a frolicsome manner.
Even though this was not going unnoticed by the Twi’lek, she found this behaviour highly suspicious. As one use to using her feminine wiles to get her way, she found that these women were really beginning to unnerve her, although she really wasn’t sure why. She gently took the womens hands away from her head-tails and took a step back out of the mass of beautiful women.
“Ladies, please give me a moment.” she said, her skull beginning to throb in pain as a massive headache began to make its way to the backs of her eyes, “One of my friends is missing the fun, and she’d really regret if I left her out of this...party.”
Several of the Hapan’s immediately began to beg K’tana to take them with her and she knew there was no way to get out of the mass of women without compromising. So she smiled and nodded exuberantly to the women.
“Of course I’ll take a couple of you with me!” she exclaimed with false coquettish bravado, “but I can only bring two of you. I’d hate to take you all away from the boys, despite that I’m sure we could have more fun without them.”
She pointed out two of the women, both with slender frames, close to her own size, and led them down the corridor, away from the rest of the group…
“Don’t wear them all down without me boys!” she called over her shoulder, winking. As she turned her back on the "boys", she drew her lekku up and over the the shoulders of the women clinging to her arms.
Battleteam Dark Forge
“Mi’ladies. Allow me to introduce you to Lady Kookimarissia Mimosa. Mistress, if I may?” Celevon said, sending a telepathic nudge to the Alderaanian along with the words ‘play along’.
With a small smirk of amusement at seeing her friend pretending to be submissive to her, Kooki gave a slight nod before the Templar gently removed the hood. “Go back to the giggling ones now, Edraven.”
“As you will it, m’lady,” the Onderonian replied politely, giving a small bow before making his way back to the two Hapans who once more took the man’s arms.
“Lady Mimosa, we would request that your servant remove the mask,” one of the better-poised Hapans said. The accent and speech patterns clearly indicated her as amongst the Upper-class.
Celevon stood as still as a statue, noting the slight hesitation in his friend’s motions before Kooki waved a hand towards him. With a small nod, the Assassin took down the hood and unstrapped the mask. Slowly, as though expecting to be attacked for it, the Amnesiac slipped the mask off, his ebony locks concealing his face in a curtain.
One of the women on his arms used a finger under his chin to lift the Onderonian’s face into view and gasped as his silver eyes locked onto her cinnamon ones. “From whence do you hail?”
“Onderon,” Celevon replied without hesitation, purposely looking down just below the woman’s eyes.
“Is this true, Lady Mimosa?”
“That one suffers from amnesia. He cannot remember anything prior to his twelfth year,” the Knight shrugged, looking uncomfortable as she tried to get the attention away from the Templar.
Erin Del’Abbot strode down the corridor like she owned it. Her cadre of female security officers followed her on either side like ducklings, if ducklings could somehow look dangerous and elegant at the same time. She came upon the group of officers who had handcuffed an Iridonian with pure white skin and black tribal tattoos over his face. Piercing green eyes stared daggers at her as she approached. Defiance. What a fascinatingly impertinent creature.
Erin smirked as she let a hand rest on her hip, angling in just a way that revealed her shapely body in her perfectly tailored silks. Anduriel couldn’t help but notice, but did a better job of looking away than Lexi, who drank in the other woman like a fine piece of art.
“Trouble, sir?” She asked almost playfully. The heavy lilt of her aristocratic accent only served to lend merit to her perceived superiority.
“He struck out at Hanna, my lady,” one of the officers said.
“Not much of a brain in that body, huh big boy? No wonder ‘Rikki brought you along.” Erin teased.
Cethgus told her where she could shove it.
Erin stepped right up the Primarch and looked directly into his eyes. Cethgus was taller and had muscles honed from years of training and dedication to combat. He was a Dark Jedi and could no doubt crush the woman where she stood should push come to shove. Erin did not seem to mind that notion, however. She simply matched his defiant gaze with an almost eery confidence. She didn’t just think she was better than him; she knew it.
“Come with me, then. Your underlings are free to continue under my protection as respected guests. You, however...I may have just the thing for that attitude.”
She drew her blaster in one fluid movement and leveled it with the Iridonian’s head. “This way please,” she said as she lead him down the corridor and towards her personal chambers.
Lexi Sarden and Anduriel looked at each other, suddenly unsure of what to do. Their “chaperone” had been taken prisoner. Andy tried to ring Marick on his PDA, but he was not able to find a signal. Strange, he thought. It couldn’t be a coincidence.
“So...” Andy started to say, but Lexi’s attention was focused on the female guard who had remained behind. She winked at the guard, but then turned to regard Andy.
“What about the datapad?” She asked offhandedly.
“Oh, right.” Andy pulled up the datapad Marick had originally handed to Cethgus. The Quaestor had purposely ignored the tablet of information, but upon closer look, Andy realized that the map was more than just a map. There was instructions, notes, and highlighted areas.
Anduriel: I’ve marked the areas of interest where items of wealth can be ascertained. They are heirlooms that have been in the Del’Abbot family for centuries, and some are probably worth more than your lives. Try and find these items and take them without being detected. Knowing Cethgus, he probably never read this and will most likely create some form of distraction, leaving you two a chance to find the artifacts and make your ways back towards the Darkest Night. I have every faith in your ability to carry out this task for me. Good luck.
"Hm, scarily accurate," Andy mused and looked over at Lexi. The female Knight wasn't paying attention however, a troubled and angry look playing over her features.
"We have to save Cethgus," she said resolutely. There was no command or deman din her tone. Just a statement of fact.
"But what about-"
Lexi's eyes flared, and she turned, formulating a plan.
Cethgus sneered as a pair of electro-staves numbed his muscles. Outmatched and with a score of Blasters honed in on him, he allowed himself to be tied down to the bed spread eagle, his robes left in a messy pile on the floor to expose his bare skin. He merely grunted. Even if he did somehow fight his way free, he would no doubt ruin whatever diplomacy Marick had planned. It also could mean that he'd never see Mamoru again. He would need to endure this, at least for now...
“I want him ready for me by the time my meeting is over,” Erin said, leaning over and stroking Cethgus' cheek momentarily. “But make sure some of that defiance is left. I want to break this one myself.” With a smirk, Lady Del’Abbot turned and walked out of her chambers, to attend a very important meeting with her long lost little brother. She left behind two burly eunuch guards at the door and a trio of women with sadistic glints in their eyes. Each bore a nasty looking three-pronged whip.
“Sithspit...” Cethgus grumbled.
Soul Fire, Nighthawk.
Inarya felt another round of fire hitting the hull of the Nighthawk, the impacts shaking the ship and causing the female to lose her balance. Her hand met with the cold metal of the ships interior as she braced herself, her amber eyes looking over towards the other two members of Soulfire that had been left behind. Gevaar sat in the corner, his metal mask covering his face, his legs were crossed over themselves as his body moved with the movements of ship, while Saskia seemed to match his calmness.
Sure, you two are calm even though we are going to be shot out of the sky. Die in a huge ball of fire as we fall out of space onto the planet. Or worse, implode from being sucked out an airlock or a hole in the hull and have our eyeballs and veins explode while we are still alive.
The Twi’lek started pacing again, she had been doing this for the past several hours and was pretty sure that she was wearing a hole in the nice new shiny flooring. The eyes of the human female fell on the Arch-priestess, who had been watching her erratic behaviour for sometime and now Saskia cocked her head slightly.
”Are you alright?” She didn’t sound concerned for her, more puzzled at the behaviour she was exhibiting. Inarya turned towards the female still pacing.
”Oh yes I am fine. Seeing as I am sat in a giant flying target. Do you know how much flammable material is onboard this ship? Or how many deaths occur annually due to space travel? Or the effect of rapid decompression on the human body?”
The Twi’lek started biting her nails. She knew that sometimes the best way to get over a phobia was to face it head on, however she was finding that this particular situation wasn’t helping one bit. Her mind went back to that time all those years ago when she was a simple Petty Officer and some idiot drove a warship into an asteroid field. Gevaar was now on his feet standing next to Saskia, watching as Inarya frantically dived for cover as the ships hulls was hit once again.
Since having accompanied her fellow teammate, Celevon to investigate the disturbance, Kooki had blurted out her dark secret from her past. Now with a clear conscience and clear mind, she was able to progress on the mission and focus on what was important to her. Despite her initial reservations, she was doing what was required to do- being loyal to her House and Clan.
Kookimarissia may have been newly engaged to her newly found companion, yet being captured by a group of beautiful Hapan women with Celevon by her side, she too was mesmerised by their stunning appearance. She couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy towards K’tana being led away by such appealing females. The matriarchal race and their strong beliefs of women being superior had Kooki’s head in a spin. It was almost like hypnosis.
When Celevon started addressing her formally, causing the Hapan women to take an interest in her, Kooki could hardly speak at first. Yet again this mission had unearthed more hidden memories from Kooki’s past that she had kept concealed for many years. She remained focussed and was not going to let fantasies deter him from this operation.
The Templar talking to her as if she was of high importance didn’t fail to make Kooki feel good. She was enjoying every second of it. However, this was accompanied by unease that Celevon was getting lots of female attention.
“So what do you intend on doing with one’s servant?” enquired the Knight unsure as to what was going to happen next.
Del’Abbot Estate, Hapes
"Lord Consul," Socorra spoke as they formed their groups. "A word, please." The woman gestured with a nod over to the side. Marick turned and moved without reply, the pair leaving Verse and Atyiru to themselves.
She stood close in front of him, her voice lowered and barely heard. "Marick, you know I don't like surprises. At the very least, look me in the eye and tell me that you will be alright with this.. confrontation."
"Yes," he replied curtly, without pause and seemingly very little consideration. His sapphire eyes met hers and they locked for a moment. It felt like an eternity that the female tried to read her former lover, but in the end, it was futile. His stoic impassiveness knew no bounds and Socorra felt even less confident in the confrontation than she had before. She sighed and subconsciously ran a hand through her hair out of frustration and then turned back to her companions.
"Ladies, I know this isn't your first rodeo, but I feel the need to reiterate the fact that we alone are accompanying Marick, of which I can't even begin to describe the sudden nervousness it gives me. This isn't a stroll in the park. Keep your eyes and ears open and ready for anything. And more importantly, always remember that the Consul comes first. Keep him safe."
The women nodded an affirmative as Marick turned back to the entourage. "There is one last thing," he said, his eyes peering to Verse. "I have asked you to attend because Socorra and Atyiru are not accustomed to Hapan culture and etiquette. They will need a guiding hand. In Socorra's case, a firm one." His eyes flicked to the older, more brazen woman. "Mind your curses. And the Mando'a."
Socorra grunted in reply.
Marick began to lead the way with a quick step, and the Hapan attendants followed suit.
The estate was remarkably pristine. Every landscape detail, down to the single leaves on the trees, was carefully sculpted in magnificent patterns. Large and lush, the property extended as far as the eye could see. Though the Consul’s ‘Royal Guard’ entourage was not given a tour of the enormous abode, the decor of the living rooms they passed through was just as beautiful as the outside. Clearly, no credits had been spared on designers.
Marick had promised to take Socorra to see his homeworld some day; but she didn't think this was exactly what he had in mind back then.
The Primarch led them to a grand dining hall that was as exquisite as the rest of the estate. A pair of guards flanked either side of the ornate doors like silent sentries. Neither looked towards the guests nor batted an eye as they moved past them and into the hall.
Marick strode swiftly over to the more intimate table of the hall where a lone woman sat, the much younger version of her standing at her side. Matriarch Angelica Del'Abbot, in both demeanor and fashion, was the epitome of high noble stature. Her long, blonde locks were piled high on her head, a lone braid falling down her back. Even at her middle age, the woman was strikingly beautiful, barely a whisper of wrinkles to her porcelain features.
She did not rise as they arrived, the first indication that the Lady was not impressed in any manner with the way Marick presented himself. His sister merely smirked to him, her hands clasped in front of her skirt.
Citadel Med labs
As the doors to the labs slide open Deimos started towards his work station. He hadn’t had a full report back from the Gate Steward since the operation began which either meant everything was going as planned or the entire team was dead. Either way Deimos’s mind at that current moment was drawn elsewhere for the Cythraul hadn’t responded to any of the treatments or concoctions he had tried upon the beasts. In fact if anything they were getting slowly and progressively worse, yet due to the unknown physiology of the creatures Deimos was unsure if this was part of the illness or if his medications had been slowing down the illness. He hoped for the latter.
His datapad blinked and he reached down to unhook it from his belt and scrolled through the latest message from the diagnoses droid that was currently monitoring the three hounds. No dire changes had been noted but if things didn't pick up any time soon the Consul’s trip to the Hapes Cluster would all be in vain. The discovery of the Blood Cups had been by pure chance, one of his research team had come across it in an old tome and though the tome was rather dated the plant looked like it may be able to help but in truth, like most things at the moment, it was all pure speculation and Deimos wouldn't know the outcome until all the tests had been carried out.
He hated it, the not knowing. He prided himself on his knowledge and especially on his knowledge of the physiology of a vast majority of the galaxies species but between the Cythraul and this barely known plant he was working himself into a state of nearly unchecked stress. On top of that if reports were to be believed uprisings had began in parts of Arcona’s domain.
He sighed in exasperation and turned on his heel. He was confident in his teams abilities that he didn’t need to be in the labs twenty four seven and as it stood he hadn’t slept in days. Even before all this started he had been in his private labs with some new prisoners and hadn’t kept an eye on things, first however he would go to the situation room before turning in for an hour or two. As he made his way back to the entrance the doors slide open and two technicians walked in, giving the Krath Priest a nod as they did so.
Deimos turned on his heel again as they walked past him, he knew all his tech’s and assistants by name and face and yet these two were unknown to him; “Hold it you two. Who are you?” The two men failed to acknowledge him again and in fact quickened their pace. “I said hold!” Deimos’s yell brought about two of his known aids who moved to step in front of the now jogging men. The next sound however was the discharge of blasters and a yelp of pain as one of his aids went down a smoking hole in his chest.
Deimos instantly turned and using the force triggered the alarm panel to his left, as the alarm began screeching he dropped his cane and surged forward putting his hand to his belt and drawing his saber from it’s holding place. The Sorcerer let loose a bolt of Force energy towards the nearest assailant, the energy let loose a crack and danced across the mans body stunning him and causing him to screech in pain as the shock danced across his body. A second Force Shock missed the second man but by the time the first had begun to recover Deimos’s saber danced forward skewering the unknown man through the throat.
Deimos turned in time to see two of his aids tackled the second man from behind the push him to the floor. His blasted echoed around the room twice more but the bolts struck the floor. Deimos moved over to the dogpile and kicked the blaster out of reach before helping the two aids lift the assailant to his feet.
“Who are you worm?” Deimos spat the words into the man’s face yet was met with a stony silence. Deimos reached out and placed his hand upon the prisoners brow, his intent was to trigger fear and terror in the man’s mind but before he could even begin a grunt was heard and one of his aids stumbled back, the next thing Deimos was aware of was the sensation of metal sliding into his flesh. He looked down as the man attempted to withdraw the hidden dagger from Deimos’s midriff and strike again but before he could Deimos smashed his unignited saber into the side of the man’s head knocking him cold and more than a few teeth loose.
The Arkanian stumbled back and held his hands to his stomach as he attempted to compose himself as the citadel guards finally turned up “Get that man out of here, take him to wherever and find out who he is! Then send a message to the Proconsul, make him aware of the situation here. Advise him there has been an attempt on the Cythraul and that I am may be out of service for a bit,..” He crumbled into one of the nearby chairs as the guardsman carried out his orders and the medics rushed to his side.
Del’Abbot Estate, Hapes
Atyiru had been exposed to the void of space once before, above Kalsunor's atmosphere. Her memory of the event was faulted by the trauma of asphyxiation, but two things she remembered clearly.
First was the cold. The word 'cold' alone could not be used, nor any of its more severe synonyms. Describing space as cold implied that there was a possibility of heat, a chance that it existed, once, and may again. Not so. The vacuum was devoid of warmth, and must have always been and would always be so. There was not a phrase to contain that sort of endless desolation.
Second was the emptiness. The depthlessness was beyond comprehension; what she could comprehend was the lack of life. The stars did not fill space. They were merely the pinpricks precious air fled through, never to return to such unwelcome blackness. The lights that cast her world in fervor were gone, just gone, plucked out of existence. And she was gone too. Nothingness. Omnipotent, infinite nothingness. Oblivion.
This was so much worse.
The void of space could not compare to Marick Arconae. The Miraluka stood behind his right shoulder and knew it was true. Her friend was gone. In his place was a black hole that threatened to swallow all the light in the world, and she could do little but drown in it.
All because of the woman seated before them.
Atyiru tasted hate on her tongue and couldn't bring herself to choke back the bile. Beside her, Socorra shifted on booted feet, the movement seeming to disturb the universe for all the tension that hung in the air.
As Verse had said, it seemed proper for Marick to speak first, for he tipped his chin infinitesimally with all the force of a glacier bowing a single inch to the ground it trampled, and said, "Lady Del'Abbot" in a voice like shattered glass.
"Son." Angelica Del’Abbot returned, melodic, lilting, sylvan. Perhaps she was an enchanting creature, and the arctic, oily poison of her aura was merely the Aedile's imagination.
Perhaps gravity pushed up and Timeros was a whore.
Greet her. The Consul whispered in her mind, a steel-and-shadow whisper, so cold.
Atyiru inhaled through clenched teeth and bowed at the waist, noting Socks do similarly, stiffer than Verse did.
"My Lady." She said hollowly, not recognizing her own voice. It should have raged like fire, like the anger under her skin towards this woman for whatever she had done to the man at her side. But it did not. It was flat and crisp.
Atyiru realized she felt cold and wondered when the chill had consumed her.
They were all seated at the dinner table, Angelica at the head.
“Lady Del’Abbot, I would petition for an economic alliance. Trade between us would be mutually beneficial. Our resources would quicken your recovery from the Vong War--” Marick started.
“Hold your tongue, if you please. I…” Marick’s mother began speaking in a perfunctory tone of easy, impertinent dignity. Her perfect enunciation was almost sonorous, and definitely beautiful.
It was the ugliest speech Atyiru had ever heard. She had to quell imaginations of surgically removing the woman’s tongue. The way the other Hapan spoke to her son was all velvet over an iron switch, too cruel to commit to memory. Marick, despite his durasteel exterior, seemed to harden a little more with every word. There wasn’t anger. There wasn’t humanity. There was just nothing.
Could black holes collapse in on themselves? She didn’t know. Her world was made up of the internal machinations of exploding stars, not this darkness that was stronger than gravity. All she did know was that it was like she was falling into the black, to wherever Marick had gone.
No. The Miraluka thought distantly, then stronger. No. She pushed past the negative presence that threatened to blot out her consciousness, throwing her mind into the Force, struggling past the void space and reaching out desperately for the lights nearby.
Atyiru found her friends’ minds and latched on, feeling Socorra’s awareness brush back. The Battlelord’s anger burned up some of the grayness the Krath’s world had become, reigniting her own vindictive rage. Verse’s, meanwhile, was calm and sharp, anchoring her steadily in flame. The heat of it was purifying, and Atyiru gasped shallowly, feeling like she’d just resurfaced from nearly drowning, her nerves shot through with cool fire.
She woke up.
“...Do you not consider that a connection with you must disgrace this family in the eyes of every respectable character in this society? You insignificant boy. Baring your face in my hall too proudly for yourself, come to trade, like an equal? As if we need you? I am astonished. I expected to find, if ever imposed again, that you were reasonable enough to well-remember your station. But do not deceive yourself into a belief that I will ever quail, or that you shall ever be greater--”
“Silence. I am by no means done. To all the objections I have already urged, I have still further to add--”
Atyiru chewed on the insults that bubbled on her lips, wanting to hurl them at the Hapan noblewoman; but one step out of place could undermine their entire cover. None of them could afford to affront her ladyship just yet.
But she had to do something. Together, she and the ladies, but before them, Marick turned to stone.
The Force take you, Marick Arconae, you don’t get to give up that quickly. You’re braver than this, frak it! The Aedile thought furiously, her mind racing.
The memory of a lonely rooftop duel came filtering back, carrying her Consul’s warning reprimand with it.
“Don’t ever try to soothe my emotions, Atyiru.” He’d stated.
Well, you never said anything about exacerbating things…
Atyiru steeled herself, centering herself with the Force and her companions’ bolstering presence, and focused on the Primarch, intent on calling him back.
Dark Forge Team (on loan to Galeres)
Anduriel stared at the message again as they walked down the hall behind the commander and her two guards in front them. his mind memorizing locations and details, as well as the quickest routes. Taking note of everything and making sure he had it in his mind, he closed the datapad and turned to see Lexi still turned away from him staring off across the estate. Her fists were balled up and he could almost hear the gears grinding in her mind.
So our Consul is occupied, our quaestor is currently being held prisoner for breaking parlay. We are fairly outgunned and outnumbered, and have no idea if we’ll be able to call for support, and the one person free here with me is a psychotic woman with an almost unhealthy obsession with her master.
The human sighed, Just another day in the brotherhood I suppose.
As they were escorted down the main hall, Anduriel began to recognize places that he had seen on the map. Hidden valuables and routes between various parts of the estate. Across the estate he saw one room which he knew contained some kind of artifact; a jewel or ornament of some kind.
He straightened, his mind whirring. Ah ha. His eyes flashed to the guards in front of them, then back to the door.
He looked down to see Lexi staring at him, her eyes burning with thought and frustration but clearly understanding that Andy had thought of something. She raised one eyebrow at him.
He leaned closer to her, his voice low as he could get it, “I’ve heard you might know a thing or two about interrogation. Just follow my lead, and point them to come to me when I give you the signal. We’re going to get Cethgus back, but first we need to find him.”
She looked at him mistrustingly, but said nothing.
Carefully, Anduriel slowed his steps so he was trailing behind Lexi, and then turned to his left and moved as quietly as he could. Making his way towards the other side of the estate, he approached the marked doors. Ornate as they were, he sensed nothing on the other side, and before approaching the guards, he turned to see Lexi staring at him intently watching his motions. He turned to the guard outside the door, staring at her with hard eyes as he began counting up in his head.
While the quiet guard did not seem perturbed at the knight staring down at her in his Mandalorian armor, she did seem shocked when he suddenly grabbed her head with both hands and snapped her neck, letting her body fall to the floor as he turned to see Lexi glaring at him wide-eyed. He nodded to her and turned to open the door.
He heard the commander’s voice from across the estate, “Get them! Stop her now!”
If Anduriel hadn’t been looking for it, he wouldn’t have seen Lexi move across the estate towards the door he’d just opened. She was a blur in motion, moving too fast for anybody to really take aim at her.
Once she was inside, he directed her to the one corner of the room behind the entrance, and he moved towards the other corner. As soon as the guards slammed slammed into the room, Anduriel sprung into action. He grabbed one guard by the neck, twisting as hard as he could. Hearing a satisfying pop sound, he let the body hit the floor before he shoulder charged the surprised commander.
Tackling her to the cold floor, Anduriel felt his opponent trying to move quickly and escape his grasp. He got a grip on one arm and used his strength and leverage to his advantage, holding her arm in a vice grip and slamming his other elbow into her face. Instantly he felt a lack of struggle, and loosened his grip on her arm, still wary of her suddenly awakening.
He looked up to see the lifeless body of the other guard at the feet of Lexi, but no clear signs of a broken neck or any kind of wound.
He looked up at his fellow Knight, “This is one of those times where I don’t want to know how you did that isn’t it?”
Lexi looked at him with burning eyes. Without response she grinned at him, “Is she still alive.”
Anduriel looked down at the unconscious body underneath him, “Still breathing. I’ll go close the door and look around for some rope or something. Ask her where our Quaestor is. You can have fun with her. She was forged in fire after all.”
Once the stars snapped back into view, Arcia cancelled the alarms shrieking from her console and grumbled to herself. The operation was completely against anything she would have authorized herself, but Teroch was of a completely different mind; his little ‘temper tantrum’ earlier proved that. Dismissing those thoughts, the Commander opened a channel throughout the ship.
~All Hands, damage report. Emergency teams to Engineering. Keeps those engines in one piece and get our cloak back to operational status.~
Her fingers flew across the Ops console as she initiated a full systems check and pushed herself away from the station to look across the rest of the Command Center. Her eyes scanned each station, watching their respective officers working diligently to ensure their systems were up and running. Arcia’s piercing gaze rested on Teroch. Standing up and straightening her uniform, she took a quick pace over to him.
“Well I hope our little infiltration team can do their job, now that we have to hide and repair your toys for when you want to play with them again…” The Commander stated, not caring that she was basically insulting her Captain.
Teroch immediately rose from his seat and looked his Executive Officer dead in the eyes. “Shove it, di’kut. How about you back off and go check with Comms to see if we have an update yet?”
With that, the Captain sank back into his chair and Arcia hid the twitch in her lips that tried to show itself as she nodded silently and made her way over to Uji. She noticed a few of the command staff had turned their attention to the two superior officers and her eyes narrowed.
“The ship isn’t going to fix itself, people!” Arcia bellowed authoritively.
Everyone quickly scrambled back to work and she took a deep breath before stopping next to the Comms station. “Uji, report status of the infiltration team. How’s Celahir doing?”
“Nothing back just yet, Commander. Radio silence,” the Senior Operative responded, his fingers gliding across several lit up panels.
The woman nodded and turned her back to the station. She reflected on the combat operation they had just performed and took a deep breath. Teroch was running her to her breaking point. She had made it clear that running Ops was a temporary station for her, as most of the training she received in the past was strictly Communications based. Being placed in a combat situation was tremendously stretching her abilities as a bridge officer, but she was doing all she could to keep everyone else from knowing her weakness.
The Nighthawk XO made her way back to the Ops station and took a look at the diagnostics and the reports coming in.
“All stations report repairs are underway. Engineering states the engines only took minimal damage but the cloak is going to take a few hours work before they can get the device back up to combat readiness. Until then, they can’t guarantee any effectiveness.”
A grunt was all she heard from Teroch in response.
After reviewing the status of the other sub-systems, Arcia made her way to the turbo-lift to personally check on the status of Engineering.
The doors of the lift hissed open as the platform came to a lurching stop and Arcia stepped out. Steam clouds hissed from various piping and the Hypermatter Reactor hummed loudly. Making her way further into Engineering, she glanced around at the various Systems Engineers working their hardest to get the Nighthawk back to full operational status.
“Who is acting Chief down here?” Arcia spoke loudly.
A couple of the engineers pointed to a very muscled male Human. The woman made her way over to him, to which he promptly saluted until Arcia dismissed it off.
“Yes, Commander. The engines simply took the strain badly as the foreman speculated before we departed on our mission. Nothing we can’t handle. However, the cloaking device nearly tore itself apart from the incoming power surges. It’s going to be a while, Ma’am.”
Her eye twitched. “Do your best and send a report to the bridge as soon as you have some good news.”
Arcia turned and exited Engineering, making her way back into the turbo-lift. The rise back to Deck 2 was long and drawn-out as she started thinking of the crew’s reactions to their first combat operation. They were good...but it had just been a skirmish. The ship already displayed that it was not made for combat and they would have to be prepared when it would be them that lost the element of surprise.
Galeres Team (kickin chick butt for Dark Forge)
BAC Darkest Night
K’tana led the two women down the corridors towards her room. She figured that if Liera was lost or finished her business, whatever that was, this was where the creature would be found. As she entered the room, casually giving the women on her arms a seductive grin, she slid her left lekku off the Hapan woman’s shoulder. Maya was her name...or maybe Marleah? It didn’t matter.
A few seconds later the vibroshiv she’d removed from its holster on her lower back passed into her left hand and was up. A simple move. Her right hand settled on her lightsaber, pointing it at the Hapan on her right. All K’tana had to do was hold the handle to the back of the other woman and ignite it. She wouldn’t even have to look if she pulled this off right. She looked at the back of Maya/Marleah’s neck and drove the shiv into the base of her skull at the same time the lightsabers hum awoke.
K’tana’s shiv went right into the spot she’d wanted it to, but her lightsaber hit the other woman off to the right of the Hapan’s spine. Not perfect, but it would have to do. As M-whatever hit the floor, the other gasped, unable to catch her breath due to the searing pain that shot from her back and out of her squishy center. As the peach-skinned woman’s knees buckled, the Twi’lek extinguished the purple blade, wrapped her violet arms around the injured woman and lowered her to the ground. She had several minutes, K’tana assumed, before this invader would die.
“What’s your name?” the Dark Jedi asked, smiling sweetly.
Rage and agony fueled the dying woman’s face, her grey-blue eyes flickering to her dead companion and a pathetic whimper shuddering from her throat. K’tana switched the saber back on, pointing it at the Hapan’s knee.
“Darling, I asked you a question. Let’s not make this anymore difficult than it has to be, mmkay?”
“Sasha.” The woman moaned and then spat at the Twi’lek, gasping after she did so. K’tana disregarded the liquid that hit her thigh and gently pushed the tip of the saber into the Sasha’s kneecap, the cartilage burning then popping. Sasha’s scream was angellic to K’tana’s ears. Stepping back and walking over to the dead woman on the floor, K’tana bent down and violently removed the shiv out of the corpse.
“I’m going to ask you a few more questions,” the Tyrian said as she walked over to Sasha and sat on her chest, “depending on how you answer I may make your death quick, or I may let that stomach wound slowly kill you. After adding a few more injuries to your pretty face, that is. Do you understand me?”
She held the blade in front of Sasha’s face, then pressed it slowly to the woman's cheek, drawing a thin line of blood, making sure the point was clear.
“Yes, yes! What do you want to know? Please, don’t ruin my face!” the woman shuddered and tears began to run down towards her temples and silvery-blond hair.
“Let’s start simple. Why are you here? Ooh! You know what? Don’t actually answer that!” K’tana suddenly grinned like a child. “Let me guess!”
Sasha began to cry harder as the sadistic woman on her chest took the blade and played it inside the wound on her stomach, causing it to gush vital fluid.
“You’re here because,” she paused as though to think about the answer, “you want to take over the ship, kill us or keep us here to prevent something?”
The silver haired woman sobbed and nodded her head. “We’re here to keep you from thinking there’s something going on planet side. Please, stop! I don’t know anything else! I’m just an entertainer!”
Rage flashed in the former slave’s eyes. She knew very well what “entertainers” could know...and accomplish. The Krath drove the shiv deep into the bleeding hole. She pulled up, causing the woman's scream to end abruptly with a gurgle. She holstered her shiv as she ignited the saber once more. K’tana drove it into the woman's tender throat, pulled it out and looked up as another two women came into her room. Obviously, they heard their sister’s scream.
She extended her hand, using her inner power to throw the closest woman from the doorway into the wall in the corridor. The Tyrian woman then leapt at the next Hapan, lightsaber glowing fiercely. She had no time to play, so she neatly removed her enemy’s head and moved in on the other who was about to stand up, blaster in her delicate fingers.
“What the…?” the woman yelled. As the Hapan brought the blaster up, she was cut off by another blast of Force and it drove her back against the wall. The Twi’lek’s saber drove through the pinned woman’s stomach, and this time it hit the mark, snapping her spine as it exited through her back, into the wall and the next room.
“I guess they expected their numbers to mean something.” K’tana giggled as she spun towards the direction of the shuttles. “But not if they split up!”
She took a moment to feel for anyone else close by. Leria was on the way there and close, but other then her there was no one else, at least no one she could sense. So she ran as fast as her feet could take her.
Del’Abbot Estate, Hapes
Dinner was served.
Verse slid a bite of tender nerf flank between her lips, plucking the meat off of her knife by her teeth. She chewed in cool complacency, trying to appear far more interested in the table conversation than she actually was. The succulent meat was spiced to a familiar palette; however dire the circumstance and tense the company, she would not let that stop her from enjoying the first good meal she had tasted in many months.
The young Hapan glanced over at Atyiru, to find her carving a similarly-sized chunk of nerf from her plate. As Verse understood, her mission was to be the pinnacle of Hapan etiquette, in order to earn favor from Lady Del’Abbot and others at the estate. This made the Journeyman somewhat self-conscious as both Socorra and the Miraluka observed Verse’s table manners closely and attempted to mime them during dinner. Atyiru had been matching Verse bite for bite for some time now.
But even in complement with her mannerisms, Verse knew her mood greatly differed from her non-Hapan tablemates. Their discomfort was clear, from the knit of Socorra’s brow to the cross of Atyiru’s ankles under the cloth-covered dining table. It was an odd reversal to Verse, as the Hapan felt quite at home. For months she had felt as an outsider under the Consul’s scrutiny, careful not to make one false move lest his welcome wear thin.
But here, she had power. While Lady Del’Abbot controlled this manor, Verse was on her home planet. Here she had her native tongue and customs, her credits and holdings, her connections. Even if negotiations went sour, Verse was confident that she would be able to maneuver her way out with grace.
There was no telling how Angelica Del’Abbot felt at this moment. Her expression was an indeterminate wash as she continued to spit fire at Marick with her silvered tongue. It could be that she was truly upset with her son for his presumption that she would be willing to trade with him. Or perhaps she was merely attempting to knock the wind from him, to gain an upper hand in negotiations. Verse was impressed with the Lady’s skills as she effortlessly parried any of the Consul’s talking points, before immediately lashing back.
“It greatly disturbs me, my son, to see you like this. While clearly limited by your sex, you seem to have gone above and beyond in betraying your betters.” Angelica speared a piece of root vegetable on her plate and popped it into her mouth without missing a beat.
Marick’s lips were a thin line as he did not offer a reply to this particular statement. He lifted his cup to his lips, drinking fully while he stoically studied his mother. Socorra cleared her throat loudly.
Angelica’s brow lifted, her focus shifting to woman. But no words came from the Human, only a look of bridled disgust.
This was becoming far too awkward.
“Flar et rellaren ta, Del’Abbot’Da…” Verse piped up in Hapan, complimenting the spices of the dishes that they had been served. Angelica appeared surprised for a second before her expressionless grace resumed. But it was not enough time to craft a reply.
“My apologies, Lady, my tongue is foreign to the others. I wished only to bring praise to your staff and your home for the hospitality of this meal.” Verse had the chance to continue, motioning with her left hand towards a keenly watchful servant as she spoke. Her accent was markedly more pronounced than usual.
“I am pleased to hear you find it well.” The mother Del’Abbot’s tone was faintly diffused, but she was by no means appeased. The noble Hapan’s snake-like eyes narrowed back to Marick. The young Journeyman took a gulpful of golden wine, shrugging internally. Verse sat poised and proper, an exemplary guest that any Hapan household would be happy to host. But she could only do so much… with such ire that the Del’Abbot woman had for her male kin, there would be nothing the Arconan could do to keep her away from her prey.
An ornate tracked door slid open, revealing a meek looking female Hapan with mousy features. Her livery identified her as part of the Del’Abbot’s serving company. Verse looked back towards the head of the table. Angelica did not seem pleased with the interruption. The Journeyman finished chewing and rested her eating utensils on her plate as the servant woman swept behind them towards her employer. Atyiru and Socorra, too, followed suit in setting down their silverware.
“Briefest pardons.” Lady Del’Abbot lifted a single, delicate finger before turning in her chair to face the serving woman. The mousy female leaned forward and whispered a few words to her Lady in clipped Hapan speech.
Verse took the pause in conversation as an opportunity to pick up her fork and finish the last of the steak on her plate. In any case, a whispered message from serving staff during dinner with guests was highly impolite, and thus likely rather urgent.
However dinner was to end, the young Hapan at least would have at least satisfied her stomach.
House Galeres Team
It was over before it began.
The blood curdling screams could be heard down the corridor for those that were not witness to what was taking place inside of the room. It was chaos, the unleashing of a monster. Iridonians where well known for their ability to snap, and that was what was taking place. Cethgus had broken, his chains unleashed, the rules disregarded, blood and metal meeting.
They tried to break you, tried to use you, tried to punish you, damn them, destroy them, show them what death is about.
Cethgus’ violence went into overdrive. The guards were first to drop, in a split second, the females scrambling for cover, trying to make sure they got out of the way, but it wasn’t going to be a simple case of mercy. They would never escape. The difference in power was clear as he stepped forward, grabbing one of them by her hair. In one motion, he twisted and smashed her head against the wall, her skull cracking and caving in, red-dyed brain matter seeping out between broken bone plates. The crunching sound ripped through the room, but the female’s screams quickly stopped.
“Your foolish error was thinking I would not fight back.” He growled, his voice cold and metallic as he spoke, blood dripping down his fingers, his gaze falling onto the two cowering females. Their control, dominance, and power had vanished, leaving the shells of a humans that were in front of the Quaestor now.
Launching himself at them, he slammed into the second female, his bulk sending her tumbling down to the ground with a crash. His hand grabbed at the skin surrounding her throat, feeling along the mass of cartilage there as he dug his fingers in and pulled. She tried to scream and couldn’t, her trachea being crushed, her hands scratching at his face, trying to get away from the animalistic Equite. Unable to keep a firm hold for long, he clenched his fingers, applying pressure as he pulled flesh from muscle, ripping her throat out. He watched her drown in her own blood, asphyxiating. Standing up, he left her to suffocate to death, his focus turned to the next female.
As he allowed himself to glance towards the last female, she slammed the open button on the door, only to be met by a cloaked figure. Fumbling herself backwards as she tried to escape, she found her hair grabbed by the slenderly-toned Knight. Stepping over the threshold of the room, the Human looked at the bloodied area before activating her saber and thrusting the weapon mercilessly through the girl’s gut. The Hapan shreked out and fumbled in an attempt to save herself.
It was too late. Lexi pulled the weapon back and gracefully cut the female in half before she could react. Her torso hit the ground first, organs and legs following shortly. Deactivating the green blade, she glanced over, noticing she’d caught the attention of the Quaestor, who stood before them, knowing full well that it was his own weapon. Lexi stopped in her tracks, looking at her Master, taking in the situation.
“You’re….well...ahh...safe, but go put clothes back on.” She managed, her voice surprised slightly as it took a moment for Cethgus to realize he was still missing his robes.
“Yea, you're probably right.” The man said, words causal but flat, his voice showing a tone of hate as he walked over to his discarded possessions, grabbing his robes and redressing, covering himself in the traditional armour.
“You found him?” Someone called, Anduriel’s voice, coming closer as he walked down the corridor and into the room, stopping at the door as he observed the survivors of the bloody mess in front of him.
“These are yours, Master.” Lexi spoke as if nothing had happened as she stepped forward, handing the Quaestor his two sabers. A small smirk came to Cethgus’ lips as he took the weapons back into his hands, though he refused to clip them onto his belt as he looked at the two Knights.
“Let’s go.” The Primarch commanded, his voice steely calm as he walked outside, his anger boiling inside of his body. His eyes filled with rage as he walked towards the guard who seemed to be on patrol. Without hesitation or seemingly reason, he lurched forward, his blades coming out and searing into the man's throat as he pulled them apart, severing head from torso with ease.
“We will make them suffer, we will make them pay. Parley is cancelled.” He snarled, his voice cold as he heard the hissing of Lexi and Anduriel’s sabers lightning up behind him.
Rear Entrance of Talon’s Roost Cantina, Estele City, Selen
Marrek nodded as he lowered his finger from his earpiece, and nodded to the left, indicating for the team to move further down the alleyway. Here Adam was, in a part of Estele that made him truly grateful the rest of the city was so picturesque. This stinking, slinking alleyway was awash with the glow of flickering neon, reflecting in the water on the cracked pavement. Marrek held his hand up in a fist, indicating for them to stop as they reached a door on the left side.
“Here we are; breach point. Confirmed gathering spot for militant insurrectionists. This back entrance goes into a makeshift barracks; eliminate any enemy fighters, ID and capture commanding officers if you can.” Marrek said dryly, as he re-briefed the party.
“What do the Arconae make of all this? The civilians aren’t usually like this, or for that matter, even the criminals. I don’t see the point in wiping every last cell of these innies out.” Adam replied, poorly concealing a Jedi tendency to fuss over collateral damage.
“So we won’t. It’ll be a waste of time with what we know now. House leaders are making a pretty safe bet that the Talons are just pawns in a shell game, and one powerful Sith is really holding the cards here.” Marrek explained as he pulled one of his many blasters from the myriad of holsters that adorned his armor, then nodded towards the grimy back entrance of the cantina. “After you, Adam.”
“Oh, wow, really? I’ve been promoted to doorman? This is the best day of my life!” Adam groaned, less than pleased to know they were walking into a firing line of trigger-happy revolutionaries. He adjusted the vest Marrek made him wear; uncomfortable, but reassuring.
“We’ll be right behind you, shouldn’t have any problems with whatever’s on the other side.” Marrek said, in a slightly mocking attempt at reassurance.
“Ever consider the quaint, old-fashioned notion of knocking? Or maybe not wearing so many guns as to look like you’re doing an impression of a dreadnought?” Adam replied as he slowly strode up to the door, and daintily raised his fist to it in an exaggerated, jesting motion.
“Open. The door. Now.” Marrek growled. Unsurprised by Marrek’s less-than-pleased reaction, Adam glanced over at Adi in hopes of a laugh from her, hopes that were dashed when she gave him the “please take this seriously” look.
“You guys are a galaxy's worth of fun, you know that?” Adam sighed with exasperation, then got to work. He ignited his armory saber, the bright green blade’s hum almost seemed excited as it prepared to do its work, and he jammed it through the locking mechanism. Metal turned to plasma, closed turned to open. He gave it a twist, then a stroke to the left, ripping the lock apart and rending the door in half. Adam then blasted what was left of the door in with a telekinetic push. The molten fragments ripped into an unsuspecting soldier, the shrapnel cutting him apart. Adam felt the danger of incoming blaster fire, and ducked toward some of the furniture. Marrek and Adi had already followed behind, the tall Corellian’s saber whirling about in orange streams alongside a torrent of his own blaster fire, and the powerful Cathar’s weapon flew across the room and into her foes, trailing vicious streaks of red.
Adam sensed a more immediate assailant; a Zabrak that appeared to be rushing him with a broken bottle. “Cute.” Adam thought smugly. He threw his armory saber up and over the couch, telekinetically whirling it towards the neck of an unfortunate Bothan on the other side of the room, and faced his new opponent. He smirked as he let the Force ripple through his arms, the surge of power causing his muscles to spasm slightly, his fingers to twitch and pop at their newfound strength. He caught the Zabrak’s arm in the crook of his own, then turned his opponent and snapped his elbow with ease. He leaned into his enemy, then dislocated his shoulder as well. Adam turned his enemy around to throw a left haymaker, and he felt the bone and teeth shatter on his knuckles. The bottle smashed across the floor as the Zabrak was hurled across the room.
The lightsaber whirled back to Adam's hand as he leapt up and over the couch, easily a height of seven or eight meters, and he telekinetically blasted two more gunmen to the floor. Adam landed on one and promptly planted his green blade into the soldier’s chest. Adam pulled his DH-17, and deftly placed three bolts into another aggressor who thought it would be fun to rush a Jedi with a vibroknife. Adam sensed another surprise; one of the gunmen, a Chiss, leapt to his feet, and pulled a vibroblade from a sheath on his hip. Adam took up the hilt, widely slashing at his opponent and unexpectedly locking blades with him. The weapon must have been forged with Phrik alloy. Pricey, but handy when picking a fight with a lightsaber-wielding maniac. A nice trick, but it wouldn't save him. Adam forced the blade to the left, a pressure wave blasted his foe to the wall and pinned him to it. Adam looked around to see a few soldiers shooting each other or themselves; Adi had been busy. Another soldier staggered backward as a dozen of Marrek’s blaster bolts shredded him to pieces, smoke drifting out of the holes as he fell onto his back.
Adam looked back at his catch, still pinned to the wall and was surprised to notice he fit Talzuk's description. “Guys, I think we've made a new friend.” he telepathically informed his comrades. Adi reappeared, her green eyes glimmering with delight, the Chiss’s red ones trembling with fear. It was time for Shadow Phyle to get some answers.
Del’Abbot Estate, Hapes
We are so karked, was the thought that kept running circles through her head as she sat, deceptively relaxed despite a ramrod-straight spine, at the silent dinner table. After a moment, the serving woman left and the failing conversation resumed, a distant buzz in her ears that was not really heard.
She couldn’t be bothered with the talk. The full purview of her mental facilities were too focused on keeping Marick rioted underneath his Deadheart state, not screwing up her manners, and remaining calm. Socorra and Verse were both blessings. She borrowed from their awareness, allowing her to remain barely knowledgeable of their attempts at diplomacy going to sithspit even while she abandoned herself to her concentration—
Awareness bloomed somewhere in the back of her mind, first whispers, carrying secrets of loathing and rage; and then, lights started disappearing into the void. That sensation of awareness exploded like a disturbed Killik hive in an angry flurry, alert and screeching and crawling down her spine, trailing stinging fire.
She recognized the presence that accompanied the disturbance in the Force instantly and with exasperated certainty.
Force take you, Brother, what have you done? The Entar thought furiously, shifting some of her attention away from stoking the emotions in the room to focus briefly on the warning sensation; but discerning anything was futile. Her mind was already split too many ways, and Cethgus’ group had to be some fair distance across the large mansion.
Her Quaestor was capable, and so were Galeres’ Knights. She had to believe they’d deal with whatever they’d gotten themselves into, because her place was the here and now.
Atyiru strained her mind, breaking it into one more miniscule part so she could cobble together a telepathic message to her Consul: There’s trouble.
She received no acknowledgement, not inwardly or outwardly; the Shadow Lord simply kept trying to bargain. Atyiru exhaled, swiping at the wayward strands of hair that stuck to her damp brow, hearing without listening as Angelica rejected her son again. With her concentration strained nearly to fracturing, the Krath found herself catching more of the table-talk.
While the Consul continued his attempts to persuade the Matriarch, Erin, to Socorra's left, spoke to the Arconan females. Her voice, though melodic, crafted a careful, near perfect harmony of contempt, snideness, superiority, and hatred.
"I honestly cannot fathom why in the galaxy you would not only traipse around with the likes of this male, but also be subservient to him. Has civilized society so far reverted that you would rather be enslaved than empowered?” She scoffed. “What do I say? Nonsense. You could not grasp at status were you fool to try. A true female could not be so shackled, would not bow her back so. It is little hidden that you are wretched things.”
She looked to each woman in turn, digging the knife deeper, beginning with Verse. “You: you are a ghastly creature. I shudder to ponder that you could be thought as one of the great Hapan women. I would eschew the very idea of you betraying your own people to whore yourself to the unintelligent serfs, for to do so would be to invest the belief that you were ever one of us and not a mere aberration in our midst, like some mutant bastard.”
Her gaze flickered to Atyiru. “And you, pitiful thing: too blind, too weak, little more than a pet, I dare hedge. I would acquaint it a fair match: invalids attract one another, do they not, as plagues fester in company? You would better be put down, you sick mongrel. And you…” Finally, she moved on to Socorra.
“Well...there is little enough I can say about a woman who would throw herself at dirt. Ahh, but the stains are there in your eyes, the way you gravitate towards dear 'Rikki, and they do tell...I must say, though, that I am faint surprised. A disfigured thing such as you yet matches the boy quaintly. I would voice my disgust further, but it is below me to insult a pair of filthy insects bred for one another so finely.”
Lovely diction, really, for such vitriolic speech. The Miraluka reflected. Atyiru could easily feel Verse’s worry and Socorra’s seething rage at the words. She knew the Battlelord would be gnawing on her ruby lip, and could sense the faint pain as Socks drilled her fingernails into the tabletop to keep from reaching for Erin’s throat. The Sith even started to snap a retort, but restrained herself as Atyiru stretched to stomp meaningfully on her booted foot.
Suddenly, Marick stood, the scrape of his heavy, ornate chair across the fine floors cutting off any more of Erin’s insults or Angelica’s pattering. “If you have so firmly decided against brooking any agreement, then we have nothing more to discuss here. We will take our leave.”
Atyiru thought she heard Lady Del’Abbot reply in the negative, something about not being able to let them go. She thought she heard Erin rise from her seat, to lord over them all. She thought she heard heavy-booted footsteps in the hallway. She thought—
The world blinked out. Everything that had ever existed died. Time shattered. The heavens fell. The universe imploded.
…no… Was the small, weak plea, like a dying man’s prayer, that whispered in her mind as reality fell away.
And then there were no more thoughts to think.
From the Main Fiction Update:
Marick Arconae stood tall, his entire being wrapped in the steel quietude of Deadheart, down to the last, silenced molecule, and locked his eyes on his mother’s. Her true-ice gaze was cold, sinister. He knew the cunning, proud monster that lay just beneath the fair skin of her mask. It sat there in her eyes and gleamed at him, critical, clever.
Her words were sure poison. “Hold now, if you please. I could not be fain to allow you merely to depart. Unkempt children do not traipse off with their mother’s possessions. The ships you arrived in belong to Hapes, and so do you.”
The Obelisk opened his mouth to rebuttal—
Something was wrong. The Shadeborn Assassin relied heavily on the gifts of precognition through the Force, but something more guttural churned. Very slowly, he eased himself out of Deadheart, and subtly reached out with the Force to swirl the liquid in his cup.
Marick froze. No wonder he had not sensed any immediate danger. Something was blocking out their connection to the Force.
She would have a Yslamari...cursed woman! Marick swore to himself as he bit down on his molars. He should have known better. He put everyone at jeopardy...and for what?
“It was brave of you, child, waltzing, feint of some distant king, back to this place. Did you presume I would not see through your facade? You are nil but a worthless bastard, and the only reason you still breathe is because I wished to make use of that wretched Tyris scum. The only thing of value he left was a Force-sensitive but otherwise uncouth knave. Do you at all fathom of the humiliation I endured? No, I do not think you would. You lack the mental capacity for such proper graces.”
The words rocked Marick to his core. Tyris? Was that a clue to who his father was? She had never so much as mentioned him before, other than in passing snears. He had grown immune to the word ‘bastard’, but without the protection of his zen-like state of mind, he could feel a pit form in his stomach.
“Thought you that these harlots you tamed could impress me to movement? Even bringing one of our own was clever, I will say, but like the rest of your gender, you comprehend so little. That Assault Cruiser will indeed make a lovely addition to our fleet, and I am most certain that this...Brotherhood will endeavor fine contributions to have their pawns returned to them.”
The Consul’s mind churned. Had Marick really lead them all to doom? What had he expected? He was no diplomat.
Across from him, Atyiru screamed. It snapped Marick out of his melancholy, the sudden realization that his friends were in danger taking control. Atyiru must have been terrified. The Force was her only visceral connection to the universe around her, and the sudden plunge into a black-hole would be overwhelming.
The sound was an agonized howl, ripped straight from every nightmare anyone had ever dreamed, lanced through with true horror. It was a dying scream, and it tore through the stifling tension in the room. Socorra bolted to her feet, her chair falling backwards, throwing herself forward, her hands slamming onto the table, as if she was barely keeping herself from leaping across it.
“What? What? Atyiru, what’s wrong?! Atty!” The Socorran half-demanded, half-shouted hysterically, but the Miraluka just kept wailing. She fell out of her seat, grabbing her head, tearing out gleaming white strands of hair. Verse stood, moving almost to help, and Socorra, enraged and distressed, nearly did too, only refraining from movement at her Consul’s cold eye.
”Atyiru.” Marick snapped, stealing his gaze to his subordinates despite keeping his awareness keenly fixed on his mother.
The Miraluka sobbed out an incoherent string of her own language, the volume of her shrieks fighting with her lack of breath. She choked on air, another scream morphing around half-recognizable, panicked, madly repeated words, “I can’t see! I can’t see! I can’t see!”
At any other time, Socorra would have pointed out the irony. Instead, she drew her blasters. Verse’s hand went to her lightsaber, but she seemed to realize it would not be as effective without the Force.
Erin rose and had her blaster in hand at the same time. From each of the room’s doors, a squad of soldiers piled in. Each wore stylized armor and bore blaster rifles and electro-staves. The Del’Abbot Royal Guard. Angelica remained seated, a smug smile drawn on her painted lips.
Diplomacy had come to an end.
Before the first blaster bolt could cry out, the Marick reflexively grabbed the edge of the table and flipped it upwards. But without the Force to augment his might, he was only able to get the heavy table onto its side. It was still enough to create separation between the trio and the opposition, a makeshift shield against the sudden volley of blaster fire.
The Arconae saw Atyiru off to his side and grabbed a hold of her by the back of the robes, dragging her towards him. He leaned her back against the wall, and actually frowned at seeing her in misery. A sudden pit reformed in his stomach as he once again felt helpless. As if memories of this place had not been enough.
Socorra had both her blasters free and was firing blindly over the top of their cover. Even without the Force she was a fine marksman, but they were pinned down and severely outnumbered. Verse kept low and looked for an exit. It would be risky, but she would probably be able to get away. Something inside of her churned as she thought back over the entire conversation and the way that the Del’Abbots had not only treated her, but the ones who had taken her in as their own.
She had a choice to make. Stand with her friends, or run.
Kordath was lost, in a special and new way, as this was a very strange experience for the Ryn. Several females, clad in silks and with bright smiles and not much more, were hanging on him and giggling. One was running her fingers through the hair upon his head, and he was almost certain that another was playing with his tail as it moved about fitfully. As much as he was trying to enjoy all of this, it just didn't sit right. Females didn't pay this much attention to him, especially ones that didn't know of his charming personality.
Trying to scan the room, wondering how what started as a 'tour of the ship' had turned into 'lets stop in a rec room and have a sit down for a bit', he tried to do a head count. Celevon was enjoying himself, that was obvious, Kooki sitting not far from him looking both pleased and uncomfortable at the same time, if that was possible. A pile of ladies in the corner chair had a pair of boots sticking out from under them, Kordath was almost certain that was Kyrun underneath it all. Ood was in the corner, rambling about something quite educational, and had several very bored and confused women around him.
Something was missing, or some one, he was certain, but the women hanging around him were proving to be quite distracting, asking questions about the ship and the Clan. Answering in a noncomittal manner, stuttering most of the time, they were simply giggling in reply for the most part, telling him he was 'silly' and 'could do better then that'. At this point another power surge blazed through the ship, causing the lights in the room to flicker erratically. The women froze, a look of confusion passing between the two hanging about the Krath.
“What the blazes was that?” asked one, her tone going from flirty to cautious suspicion.
The other glared at her, in a way that screamed, 'Don't break character you silly twit,' before turning her gaze back to Kordath and smiling.
“Ummm, yes,” said Kordath, his time with Arcona having exacerbated an already twisted sense of humor, “the weapon systems on this ship, quite powerful, they umm, make the lights flicker sometimes when they're discharged.”
“What?” said the second woman, her tone changing now as well, as she set her green eyes on the Ryn. Kordath had decided she must be in charge of the others, as she'd been the first to speak off the shuttle, and had clung to him exclusively since boarding the ship.
“Oh yes, mmm, all those turbolasers suck up quite a bit of the powergrid, probably has something to do with whatever is happening on the surface,” said the Ryn, grateful for all of the back alley deals he'd made in the last decade of life on Nar Shadda for the straight face he was maintaining now. He tried to give the woman a reassuring pat on the shoulder, uncertain of where else it was safe to place his hands at this point, before the green eyes jogged his memory.
Oh bloody hell, where'd K'tana get off too? That's whose missing, he thought, looking around the room again, before pushing out with his senses.
He found her quickly enough, which unsettled him, as she simply radiated gleeful malice that suggested violence was taking place, and that the Twi'lek was enjoying herself. The malice turned to focus, and the Ryn could feel something concerning....shuttles, she was headed to the shuttle bay?
Kordath turned back to the woman with green eyes, he'd never caught her name, and grinned, “Why are you here, anyways? It's not like the Hapans to send women to 'entertain' people, especially a group of Dark Jedi, so while it's been fun....”
The Ryn lifted his comlink, 'Security to the Recreation room, please, on the double. Multiple persons of interest to be apprehended,” he said with a malicious smile.
“What? Why? We've done nothing wrong...” the woman started to say, before the Krath cut her off with a gesture, feeling her mouth clamp shut from some outside force.
“Honestly, woman, we have a problem on the ship besides you, something that needs to be dealt with before the ambassadors that went planet-side come back, your far to suspicious, and I want you contained,” said the Ryn, in a strangely assertive manner.
Guess I can act 'sergeanty' when I have to, hah, shame Blinky isn't around to see...whatever, thought the Ryn.
Glowering, the woman stood up and produced a knife from somewhere, Kordath absently wondered where she could have even hidden it in that outfit, before speaking, 'You shall not hold me, male, this ship is a danger to the Hapan people, and your ground team will be dead within the hour, I guarntaaaaargh.”
“Arrgh?” asked the Ryn, grinning, as the body slumped to the ground, the security officer standing behind the fallen woman sweeping his blaster towards the other woman, rifle set to stun, 'Good timing, officer, very nicely done, now detail a team to go and hold their shuttle.”
“Yes sir!” shouted the man, making Kordath wince and want to cover his ears, “What shall we do with this lot, into the brig?”
“Mmm...round them up, I believe most of them are still here, though a few left with K'tana...though you may need a clean up crew for that,” he muttered the last bit, “Celevon, Kooki, I trust you can...question...this lot while I go and try to comm the Consul?”
Soulfire Strike Team
Andrelious gently landed the T-4a Lambda-class Shuttle in the station’s main hangar bay. The Nighthawk had done an excellent job in keeping the enemy fighters at bay, but re-launching would be tricky.
The Warlord wasted no time in heading to the passenger area to meet with his colleagues. Gone were the days that the ex-Imperial could just wait in the ship. He, like the rest of Soulfire, was a vital part in Arcona’s war machine. On such a dangerous mission resources as powerful as Inahj had become could simply not be wasted. Especially if Marick’s gamble failed: the Galeres leadership risked devastation if things went wrong.
“Rollmaster Inahj. I would imagine that this type of platform is familiar to you?” Nadrin asked as Andrelious took a seat among the team.
“XQ-2 design. Commonly used even by the Empire and Rebellion. Bengel really got everywhere, didn’t they? The design was made to allow maximum versatility, but we’ll probably want the central dome. So expect a fight. There could be as many as ten thousand on board - and that’s not counting the crew.” Inahj explained, recalling the details from memory. It had been some time since he had seen an XQ design, but its statistics were second nature to the ex-Imperial.
Nadrin frowned. “Ten thousand? To protect a comm relay?”
“UP TO ten thousand. Judging by the number of shuttles here, I doubt there’s even CLOSE to that.” Inahj answered. “The way to the dome is so simple that even Cethgus could follow it. We just get to the central turbolift.”
The Soulfire leader grinned. “Sending pros on a blue milk run like this. It’s child’s play.”
Remnants of Talon’s Roost Cantina, Estele City, Selen
“Secure him somewhere, Adam.” Adi said, with an excited sparkle to her gaze. The Chiss lieutenant struggled with futility against Adam’s great invisible hand that pressed him against the wall a meter off the ground. Adam threw him over to the ruined bar, the man’s blue face slamming into the edge. Broken as he was, he struggled to use it to get up as he spat out blood and teeth, but was again lifted by an intangible grip, and laid out onto the bar on his back. Adi admired her clawed fingers, with blurs of malicious energy shifting between them.
“By the Force, can we please just put him out of his misery? I’m sure the information we’re looking for is around here or on him, anyway. Why rip apart his mind too?” Adam implored the Cathar. He was a fighter who had seen some carnage in his time, but he was always conditioned to draw a line at torture. He jumped when he felt Marrek’s hand on his shoulder.
“We’d be wasting more time. Any information we’d find here would take hours, more likely days to decrypt. In that time, the whole city will likely be swept out from under our feet, ready to rip us apart. Fact of the matter is, letting Adi at him is the fastest way towards figuring out the leadership of the Talons. If you want to end this, you have to let Adi work.” Marrek explained, ever a source of cold pragmatism.
“Let go, Adam.” Adi spoke up, pulling her katana from its sheath. “This won’t take long, I promise.” Adam shut his eyes and sighed as he relinquished his grip on the man. At this point, the Chiss was barely conscious, but he was about to wake up in the worst way imaginable. Adi ran her fingers down the blade as she locked the lieutenant’s body in place on the bar, to avoid a struggle. Adam darted his gaze around the room, attempting to distract himself. He looked over at Marrek, who was calmly cycling out the heat sinks of his blasters and scrolling through the major public gathering places of Estele on his datapad. Adam’s focus on distraction was shattered by a scream; he looked over at the Chiss to find that Adi had cut off a section of one of his fingers with the razor sharp blade. He was awake.
“Rise and shine, lieutenant.” The Cathar said in a mocking, almost singsong tone. The Chiss stammered and cried as he attempted to assess what was going on. Adam looked at his eyes, the red pupils flooded with a level of fear that did not fit the Cathar’s diminutive appearance. It was clear that he wasn’t seeing Adi, the disarmingly quiet little cat woman, but something far more nightmarish. Still, the man eventually collected himself enough to dribble words from his mouth.
“Arconan…ph...pigs! We will leave… n-nothing of you to r-rot!” An equal mixture of words and blood poured from the Chiss’s mouth, his face now as crimson as his eyes.
“Oh, I’m shivering. Who taught you such eloquent and inspiring rhetoric? I bet they’re a brilliant leader. Why don’t you tell me a little about them?” Adi replied, mocking his pain. The Chiss seemed to have made himself more aware of the illusion, so she upped the ante by taking the end of another finger. The blue man seized on the bar, convulsing with pain. This scream was even worse, and Adam had taken a Broken Gate meditative stance on the other side of the room, blocking it all out however he could. It wasn’t working very well.
“N-n-no! I won’t...b-be the one wh-who breaks! I’ll die first!” the lieutenant replied, attempting to work his jaw to trigger a suicide capsule. He probably noticed that moving was quite impossible. Adi had him right where she wanted him, and he was realizing it. Adi grabbed a couple of bottles from the shelf, and nonchalantly poured herself a drink. She slid a glass down the bar to Adam. He drank the entire thing, the horrible liquid failing as a satisfactory distraction. Adam didn’t drink.
“Oh yes, I’ve heard all of this before.” Adi mused, preparing to bring her charade to an end. Adam sensed the man’s horror spiking to an unprecedented level as she changed her illusion again. Likely something involving the lieutenant’s family, Adam figured, if he knew Adi’s methods as well as he guessed. “Come on, I know you can’t keep something like that a secret. Think of familiar phrases, anything like that. I know that you know, so why bother?” she continued. The lieutenant’s face struggled and twitched for several minutes, frustrated, frightened, and perhaps slightly melancholy as well.
“F-fine! Es-es-p-p…ad-a. Espada… leads us, binds the… Talons together.” the Chiss struggled to say, falling in and out of consciousness. Adam suddenly realized that Adi hadn’t even bothered to learn the poor man’s name. “Take her, s-she’s not worth all of th-this. What will you do with… m-me?”
“Thank you for your cooperation, you’ve been very helpful.” Adi dismissed him, then finished her work. His body convulsed again, the last ounce of consciousness drifting out of his eyes, which were reduced to pale, empty windows of gibbering, fear-induced madness. Adam was dazed; Adi didn’t hesitate a second long enough for him to protest before she destroyed the man.
“We have the mission. Espada runs the biggest nightclub in town. Move, Adam.” Marrek regarded his apprentice gruffly. Adam looked at the pitiful mass on the bar, feeling sick. On an impulse, he raised his saber hilt and ignited the green blade into the lieutenant’s chest. A glimmer of gratitude danced across his vacant eyes. Marrek shrugged, then walked out with Adi. Adam deactivated the blade, and closed the lieutenant’s eyes. He hoped against hope that Sarna would never feel the disgust he felt for himself as he followed them.
Soulfire Strike Team
Child’s play? Riverche thought to herself. Remember your training, follow the leader and stay with the group. Noticing that Andrelious and Wes had their sabers out, and Nadrin had a blaster out. Riverche instinctively grabbed her blaster. She still had to get used to her saber even though she had received it six long months ago. The entry hatch of the shuttle gently lowered onto the landing hangar’s floor.
Before the shuttle’s doors finished opening, revealing a nearly empty landing hangar coming to life as uniforms with readied guns flowed in, one of the guards in front of the doors started to issue an order at the group. “Surrender…” Before she uttered the first word in her command, Nadrin’s blaster released a bolt into the center of her chest collapsing her to the floor and sending her gun across the hangar.
The other three followed Nadrin’s example by jumping at the incoming guards before they had time to react, and sunk their sabers and fists into their victims before moving onto the next. Riverche used the door of the shuttle as cover while she fired her blaster into a group of guards attempting to surround her and her companions.
Blaster bolts fired furiously at the pair near the shuttle. Riverche noticed more than one came close to hitting Nadrin only to be bounced away by an invisible force. She was not as lucky as he was, he was stronger and better trained than her, and so he could deflect the bolts better. She still needed a little more training and the ship only provided some protection. Having felt one bolt graze her, Riverche looked for a spot closer to the fight that would still provide a little coverage, realizing that she could not stay in one spot.
Locating a better cover spot closer to the action, Nadrin and Riverche decided to leave the cover of the shuttle. Moving from one cover to the next, Riverche was able to pick off a few guards on her own. Nadrin followed shortly behind, pausing at each cover spot to shoot a guard. By the time Riverche and Nadrin joined the other three, Andrelious was beheading the last guard in the hangar.
Teroch - Post I-have-no-idea-it’s-been-a-long-fortnight
XQ-2 Platform Relay 268
Only once the hangar had been cleared did Celahir proceed casually down the ramp from the shuttle. Where the Nighthawk had appropriated a Lambda-class shuttle, rather than using one of its complement of two Nu-class shuttles was completely beyond the Kiffar, but he paid it little heed. There were far more pressing concerns to be focusing on.
He’d not bothered to don his old armour from his time in Soulfire Strike Team. If the team around him did their jobs, he wouldn’t need it. He had originally been planning to, but then there was a stacking overflow error on the internal cache reserves on the Nighthawk which had required his attention, and before he’d realised it, Kalon was begging his attention over the intercom. No, whilst combat was definitely no foreign concept to the tattooed former Consul, it had never been his specialty. He was too easily absorbed in his true passion: electronics, computers, technology. Through tech, you could live forever.
He smiled at the thought and approached Nadrin, who had painted his mask white over the front of his otherwise-black face-plate.
“I don’t need to reach any central computer. Just get me to the nearest relay and cover me whilst I enter their network. It won’t take too long.”
Behind his mask, Nadrin blinked at his older brother’s blasé approach to their mission. Celahir wasn’t exactly a man of many words, but the nonchalance he displayed being behind enemy lines was worrying, even for a veteran of Soulfire.
“Okay. Inahj, we need somewhere with a scomp link. You take point. River, cover the rear. Wes, you stick with our slicer. I want you two to be new best friends. He sneezes, you offer him a tissue. He pisses, you help. Understood? Good. Move out.”
Celahir crouched down, rummaging through the pockets of his jump suit, until he found one of his remote scomp links. Unknown to most people, he was something of a savant when it came to computers. He spent so much time around them, that he’d had one implanted subdermally, and wired up to his brain. In effect, he was a cyborg. He’d worked closely with Sashar and Juda, his older brothers in the Erinos, to miniaturise a psicom cybernetic interface to be less noticeable. He’d also gone so far as to have a sub-dermal comlink outfitted. It made communicating with various computer systems far, far faster, and he could also store massive amounts of information, but there were drawbacks. The first was his susceptibility to communications jammers. They gave him intense migraines if he was exposed to one for any length of time. Likewise, the sheer mental strain the devices put him under resulted in him having to take painkillers almost hourly. And by far the worst was the threat of being hit by an ion blast. It could kill him, render him brain dead, paralyse him… any number of fun possibilities. He tried not to think about it, most of the time.
The Kiffar glanced at the scomp portal before him. Soulfire had advanced all of fifty meters into the station, where they found a droid repair bay. The commandoes had dispatched the sole occupant in under a second, and they had now barricaded the door, their rifles at the ready. He ignored them. They’d do their job.
Celahir plugged the scomp-link in
Mentally, he started attacking the firewalls, running hundreds of different worms simultaneously, quickly overrunning the innumerable anti-slicer defenses put in place.
“Hey, don’t you need a datapad?” Wes Biriuk, the hulking human assigned to guard him asked, looking over at Celahir, who seemed to simply be staring at a wall.
The Kiffar turned to regard him with a look of confusion. “No.” He replied, as if he were stating the obvious.
“Dick.” Wes muttered under his breath, then turned his attention back to the door, where his team were focused.
The Erinos began downloading the entire central archive, then, for good measure, installed a piggy-back algorithm to their communications which sent a duplicate transmission to the Nighthawk whenever a communique was sent or received. They’d never notice, as it sent within a millisecond of the transmission’s inception.
Satisfied, he pulled a cigarette from another pouch, lit it, and announced “I’m done.”
Nadrin’s head spun back in disbelief. “You’re kidding.”
“Stop saying that. No, I’m not kidding. let’s go.”
The fight back to the hangar was short and brutal. Wes took a blaster bolt to the shoulder, which spun him into Celahir, who roughly shoved him back into the fight, more irritated than actually hurt. Wes, suitably irritated in return, vented his anger on a hapless security droid, which exploded spectacularly.
Before they knew it, they were back on the shuttle, and Andrelious took the yolk. They weren’t out of the fire yet.
Commander Cortel had returned from Engineering several minutes prior to her Ops station spitting pings and beeps signifying all reports had been received. Hurrying over, she guided her hands across the panels, reviewing the responses. After her final checks, Arcia swung her chair around to face Teroch.
“Captain, all stations reported in. Minimal to no damage on all sub-systems minus those contained within Engineering. Engineering reports the cloaking device will be repaired in half the time previously calculated.”
“Perfect. Anything else?” The Captain answered.
“Med-Bay reports they could use your personal assistance for a matter at hand. Engineering could also use an additional hand getting things organized.”
Suddenly several beeps and a short alarm erupted from the Comms and Ops stations respectively. Arcia quickly spun back around and deciphered the incoming data streams. The shuttle from their covert mission was just blinking back into view and throwing a lot of chatter at the Nighthawk.
“Soulfire is reporting massive damage to their shuttle. Many of their systems are down. They may not be able to land it. Uji! Coordinate with Andrelious and get that ship here safely.” Arcia reported and ordered.
Uji immediately contacted the lambda and informed which direction to approach the Nighthawk from as Arcia sent commands to open the bay doors and pressurize the receiving hangar. That’s when the Ops station presented the XO a readout of just how badly damaged the shuttle was.
Arcia immediately ran a quick script to tap into communications and opened a channel to the shuttle.
“Strike team abandon ship. Right now!”
Quickly closing that channel and opening a general shipwide, she yelled. “All hands, brace for impact!”
No more than a minute later, the Nighthawk lurched and shuddered as a nearby detonation sent wave forces into the hull of the ship. Arcia quickly rose to her feet as if to run herself down to the hangar, but remained at her station and monitored the bays.
“Ops, Quartermaster. We’ve received an escape pod from the shuttle. Looks like they’re all in one piece.”
“Great news, Valk. Keep us posted.”
Arcia sighed in relief and turned to Teroch. “You’d best get yourself down to the Med-Bay. See what’s going on down there."
As the Captain rose to make his way to the turbo-lift, Arcia rose herself and paced over to the Comms station. “Uji, go check out Engineering. They could use an extra hand. Coordinate with the acting Chief and report as necessary.”
Uji quickly made his way over to the turbo-lift before Teroch made his way down as the Nighthawk XO routed incoming and outgoing communications to her Ops station. She sat back down to review the telemetry of the shuttle remains and called out to Kalon.
“Helmsman! Make sure we’re in secure space. I’d rather not be caught with our pants down...they need to hurry with that cloak…”
Stepping off the lift, Uji was confronted with the Engineering crew attempting to put out the last of the fires, the four standing crewmen scrambling throughout with no clear organization. It took only a few moments for him to access the situation and begin formulating a cohesive plan of action.
“Who’s in charge down here?!” Uji’s shout rang out across the score of men and women working. A single engineer approached. Stopping before the Bridge Officer he turned towards him and saluted.
“Sir! I’m glad to see someone down here, we’re down to five engineers.”
“Enough, these are our priorities: First, get the Cloak online. We have propulsion but if we can’t hide it won’t do us a hell of a lot of good, As long as we’re not running at full capacity we’re sitting an easy target. I want you and the auxiliary engineers to focus on getting it one hundred percent.”
“Second: Get someone working on the engines, they took the least damage so one or two people should be enough to get them back up and running. Just make sure we have the hyperdrive running, last thing we need is to blow ourselves the hell up.”
Uji simply nodded as the engineer began barking orders. The Templar lifted his hand, activating his commlink “Naradas, I need you to get us any of your security crew down here you can spare. I’ll be working with you on getting the shields back online.”
“Copy that, I’ll send down who I can. Get to a terminal. The computer’s located the issues, we’ve got junctions blown all over the damn ship.” Naradas certainly wasn’t thrilled, since, as the Chief of Security, his responsibility in keeping the ship combat ready was being made damned difficult.
Finding a working terminal, Uji started surveying the level of damage throughout the ship. Finding the most damaged units would be the most important task to getting the system functioning; anything was better than nothing if it came down to it.
“Alright, crew! We’ve got a lot of work to do, and not a lot of time before we get into our next scrap. Let’s get it done!” Uji set off for the first of the conduits.
Celahir stepped out of the lift, nodding to Arcia without word approaching Navigation. The Prelate closed his eyes momentarily as he entered the ships systems wirelessly. His mind reaching out instinctively to monitor the ship's status before pulling his attention back to the task at hand. “Arcia”
“Yes yes… Officer Cortel. I’m uploading the coordinates to our target. Millinar is our destination, I've located an escape route only used for emergencies by the Del’Abbots to evacuate from Inner Hapes it will bring us within two jumps of Millinar. There… will be a slight complication of how close we will be coming to one of the Consortiums Shipyards...”
“The Blood Cups are grown on the Planet Jovaria much further then we can trave we’re in luck however; Millinar houses their import of the final product we need for the Cythrauls” Celahir locked eyes with Arcia as he finished.
"Sithspit it can't ever be easy can it?"
Del’Abbot Estate, Hapes
Atyiru pressed her back into the wall and worshipped the cacophony of blaster fire that echoed over the sound of her heartbeat pounding in her ears.
Her gods were gone. The Force was gone. She gave herself over wholly as a devout to sound and touch, to her people, her blown-out stars. She needed them, needed them to catch her from falling.
She kicked off her boots, diggingher fingers and her toes into the carpet until her bones ached. Her shoulders bit deep into the wall as she clenched her jaw so hard, her head throbbed. Every time she heard a blaster shot, she breathed. She anchored herself in the salvation that was Socorra’s constant string of Mando’a curses, the eternal grace that was the vibrations of Verse’s movements through the floor, and the blessing of the whisper of Marick’s Shadeborn cloak fluttering against his robes; and behind it all, the rapturous commotion of the Del’Abbot’s guardsmen.
These were the things that let her know her friends were alive, that she was alive, that the universe had not ended and she was not just some lost ghost. The past was dead, and the life she’d had was gone; but there was this new world, here, and she would have to be brave enough for it.
I will not give up.
A delicate hand brushed her shaking one in passing—Verse, it had to be, too soft to be Marick—and Atyiru’s heart slowed its rapid drumming just a little. Some part of her mind recalled a time when she’d cared for a Rodian factory worker who’d been blinded by chemicals, back in Coruscant’s medcenter. He’d been terrified of being alone, and she, along with her fellow coworkers, had all taken shifts staying with him, holding his hand.
“Hold onto me, please. I’m scared. I can’t breathe.” He’d plead…
“Thank you…” Atyiru croaked to the Jedi Hunter, whether she’d meant the action or not.
She could do this.
Calm down. Breathe. Get your bearings. Evaluate.
If she listened and felt carefully, she could get a good sense of where her comrades were, where their enemies were, and how many people, roughly, were in the room. The Miraluka dropped a hand to her blaster--but no, she’d just be firing wildly. Better to give it to someone else.
Still, armaments aside, they were outgunned and outnumbered, and she was likely more harm than help. Would could they do?
Gingerly shifting forward onto her knees, and then into a crouch, slightly unsteady as she adjusted her frazzled senses, the Priestess shuffled carefully closer to her Consul, mindful of the blaster bolts searing overhead. About a foot away, Socks cursed extra-loudly, happily shouting at all the Hapan just what she would do to them and their mothers if given the chance.
“I don’t suppose you’ve any ideas?” She asked the Shadow Lord.
“Pardon?” It was Verse who interrupted, answering her over the mayhem instead of Marick. “I may have an idea.”
“Report, Chief.” The Executive Officer's voice barked from across the bridge towards Naradas, whose eyes were intent on his tactical station.
“Engineering reports that the cloaking device will be online shortly. They also requested that I dispatch any security man I can spare to assist with the repairs. Since we're not anticipating any boarding actions at this time, I'm dispatching one man per turbolift level to assist Uji in addition to any off-duty personnel.” Naradas paused as he tallied up the names on his list. “Uji will be getting about ten men to help.”
Naradas merely nodded before opening a comm channel to Uji. “Uji, I'm dispatching about ten men to assist you. They should be arriving momentarily.”
“Roger that. Thanks.” Uji's voice crackled over the comm before he cut the comm channel. Naradas merely smiled thinly before he keyed in the orders to his sergeants before he looked up and glanced around the bridge, noting that the urgency had now settled down into calm business-like efficiency.
Naradas shrugged slightly to himself, deciding that now was as good a time as any now that the situation was under control and they were more or less waiting on their subordinates to report in. Stepping up slightly behind Arcia, he cleared his throat slightly. “Commander, a word please?”
Commander Cortel turned, her green eyes flashing under the lighting as she stared coolly at Naradas. “What is it, Chief?”
“I want to apologize for my earlier indiscretion regarding the business with Andrelious. It was uncalled for.” Naradas' hands clasped behind his back. “I was merely used to serving on less stringent vessels, and acted as such. Not an excuse, merely an explanation. Clearly this will not be the case here.”
Cortel's lips twitched upwards slightly. “Clearly, Chief.”
Naradas allowed a faint smile as he regarded the Executive Officer. “Now that I understand the situation, it will not happen again.”
Cortel's jade eyes met Naradas, assessing him for a long moment before nodding slightly. “Apology accepted. Anything else?”
“A concern with the roster, but it can wait until things settle down.” Naradas shrugged slightly. “Nothing we can do about it right now, anyways.”
“Alright. Feel free to bring the issue back up when we get out of Hapes and back home.”
Naradas inclined his head slightly. “Understood, Commander. That's all I have for you right now.”
“Dismissed then, Chief.”
Naradas nodded curtly and clicked his heels before returning to his post at the tactical station, his fingers dancing across the board as he brought up the tactical layout of the ship, noting the status of the shields and weapons systems.
“Such a wonderful lap-dog you make.” A harsh guttural voice whispered into his ear.
Naradas stiffened slightly, keeping his eyes locked on the tactical board, his lips pressed into a tight thin line.
“What, you think ignoring thiz one will make thiz one go away?” Zakath's voice burst out into a loud guffaw that went unnoticed by everybody in the command center. “No, little hew-mon, thiz one iz here to stay.”
Naradas' fingers whitened as he gripped the tactical board, but otherwise did not say a word as he studiously ignored the voice speaking to him, focusing his attention onto assessing the ship's weapons and shielding systems.
It had been stagnant at best but finally, cogs were turning and progress was being made. Teroch swept out of the turbolift and through the corridor - every problem moving smoothly except one. The medbay door hissed open.
“Ad’ika, how is- wait what?”
He entered the room to the entire floor of the room covered in cotton balls and bandages as the 2-1B droid picked each one up one by one.
“It kept talking.” Maaks groaned from a gurney, an ice pack on his head. Something was off about him. The Elder tightened his jaw as he walked to his bedside.
“How many fingers am I holding up?”
The Captain spat out a curse and sat on the edge of the gurney, “What did you do?”
The Miraluka grimaced, “I tried forcing it. Just to see if I was right.”
“And now your connection is severed”, the youth said it flatly and with little remorse. Instantly he reached out through the Force and pulled the muddy connection back to life. The Priest sighed in relief. It was never as easy to be without the Force as a Miraluka. Thankfully Sashar put him through enough blackout training to make him at least stable. Teroch was there with him and he shuddered at the memory.
“Maaks, I have to be blunt at this point. We’re moving forward with the mission and at this rate you’ll be dead weight that we don’t need. There are injured crew members on their way here as soon as first aid-”
The Krath shot up and shivered under the duress, “What crew members? What happened? How long have I been out, Teroch?”
Ignoring the tone and running a hand through his dark hair, the youth stood quickly and walked towards the main console. A few holographic screens appeared above his hands, each with a different types of analytical algorithms.
“This is the data Celahir acquired on the target sample. We’re back on track but it’ll be anything but easy. I expect you to meet this task with appropriate competence.” He glanced at the droid and then at Maaks as he stalked out of the room.
The Miraluka sighed and offhandedly fixed his headache with a flicker in the Force. He felt the relief wash over him as his sight refocused. Begrudgingly he made his way over to the console and glanced over the data, the holograms brighter and more vivid in his special way of seeing. He ran some diagnostics on the predicted composition of the plant extract. His eyebrows raised as the list of components streamed in front of him. It was too much for a replicator to create an antidote just from the data, they would need the physical extract. Breathing in deeply, he racked his brains for what little he remembered of medicine and gave up almost instantly. It had simply been too long. Instead, he picked the easier option.
“Oi, crap-droid. You can stop now”, it immediately stood up and let out a metallic sigh of relief, “I need approximate amounts of these substances and anything we don’t have I need synthesised as closely as possible. Can you manage that?”
“B-but sir, according to the biological schematic it is impossible to artificially compose the cure. I fail to see how-”
“I do things a little bit differently”, he said offhandedly, another holographic screen appearing and showing the individual vitals of each cythraul, “I just need a little bit of time…” He trailed off as he began to make notes on a datapad. The surgical droid knew better than to question the Krath twice and left him to his devices.
Soulfire Strike Team
Not a moment had been wasted once the Shuttle’s Escape Pod had arrived. Andrelious had been the first to exit, storming off furiously whilst mentioning something about ‘sabotage’.
“Give him time. His pride took as big as hit as the shuttle today. He feels as if he was beaten by a group of girls.” Nadrin sighed as his fellow Warlord disappeared into the bowels of the Nighthawk.
“He WAS beaten by a group of girls. The Hapan military is mostly female.” Riverche noted.
The Soulfire leader shrugged. “He’s convinced that our ship was sabotaged. It certainly fell a lot easier than it should have with Inahj at the stick. The man was an Imperial Navy ace and a Void Commander. No way should he have taken that much damage.”
“We’ll find out. He salvaged the flight recorder. He may need it to survive the enquiry.” Wes added, remembering that the ex-Imperial had indeed removed the device.
Andrelious charged angrily along the corridors of the Picket-ship. It had been many years since he had lost a ship, and the Warlord had built up a strong reputation as a reliable pilot, to the point that he had been trusted with the clan’s only Lambda shuttle for the mission to Hapes. Now that reputation looked to be in tatters, and Inahj knew that he would be facing questions for trashing the ship.
“It was sabotaged. There’s no way that any woman, or even sixteen of them, could get the better of an Imperial Ace.” Andrelious seethed to himself, still clutching the extracted flight recorder that he hoped would salvage at least some pride. He would keep hold of it until he could make contact with Firmus Jeel, a technician that he trusted the care of his personal starfighter to. Jeel would bail him out, he reasoned, even it took a few credits.
15 minutes later
Soulfire had reassembled in the hangar. Andrelious had seemingly finished sulking, but still stood away from the main group, arms crossed.
As the team gathered around Nadrin, the ship lurched slightly as it entered hyperspace.
Soulfire would soon be at Millinar.
Del’Abbot Estate, Hapes
Ducked behind the dining table that Marick had flipped into the makeshift barricade, Verse knew they did not have long. Even if the Hapan guard continued to miss them with each flurry of blaster fire, their numbers were great enough that the Dark Jedi would be overwhelmed within seconds, surrender their only option.
The Hunter squeezed Atyiru’s forearm, a hurried attempt to comfort the frenzied Aedile, plunged into her private world of blackness. “Your blaster..” Verse did not have time to make a polite request and instead unclipped the Miraluka’s weapon from her holster, immediately shooting a few bolts over the side of the dining table along with Soccora. Hapan commands were shouted over the whoosh of blaster bolts. Verse had not imagined that this meeting could turn to blows so quickly; her own blasters were stowed uselessly in her pack.
But it was not the Hapan’s plan to join this firefight of insurmountable odds. Instead, Verse chanced a glance over to a fine seam in the crown moulding along the wall to their immediate left. It was, as suspected… it had to be, or there was no way. A servant’s passage, built into the wall. Verse’s own home growing up had many hidden doors such as these, built so the hired staff would be more easily able to navigate through the estate without having to be seen in the main corridors. If she was quick, Verse could possibly slip through the passage while the guards were distracted trying to secure the others.
Atyiru shuddered hard as Verse fired off another blaster bolt, feeling the minute vibration reach her through the Hapan. The Journeyman thought back to her capture on Myrkr by the Etti slavers, the similarities causing her to cringe. Things could only get worse from here. She refused to be detained for a second time.
She would take the Miraluka, as well, to allow her a chance to escape the force-neutral bubble. The Aedile’s condition of total blindness and resulting hysterics made the Hapan certain that she would require assistance getting away. Verse grabbed the white tablecloth from the floor, now stained with spilled food, wine, and blaster fire. She wrapped the long cloth about the Miraluka’s shoulders, as if to swaddle a crying infant.
“Egress to our left, let us go.” Verse spoke to both Marick and Soccora sharply, trying to be clear without being overheard by the approaching Guard. The Consul seemed to hear, but did not appear to catch the words; his teeth remained gritted and brows furrowed. Soccora replied, “Go with Atty, I will cover you both.” Her words were stern and clear in meaning.
“No!” Marick spouted, now catching their conversation. “Soccora, I order you accompany--”
Verse did not hear the rest of the Hapan male’s command. She was already to the wall, with the Aedile clinging tight to her, panting as she pushed it to open. The Aretan Human popped up from behind the barricade and delivered a frenetic volley of cover fire as the two made their escape, screaming and cursing with fury.
Verse heard Angelica’s voice as she finally felt the hinge turn, a slim section of the wall swinging back into itself to reveal the hidden passageway. “Stop them, they are getting away!” Lady Del’Abbot hissed in Hapan, gesticulating in the direction of Verse and Atyiru. On her command, three guards broke from one of the squads, closing on the pair. One of them did not get far, as Soccora’s blaster shot true, sending the Hapan flying helplessly back to smack on the floor.
“There is no escape!” One of the guards shouted the equivalent of this in Hapan to Verse, who was halfway through ushering Atyiru through the narrow passageway. Too close for comfort, the Journeyman had to act fast. She swept up the white tablecloth that had been settled around the Aedile’s shoulders, and immediately unfurled it back at the two approaching enemies. Verse heard curses as the two guards got tangled up in the tablecloth that had been hurled at them. She knew it would not be for long, however… once both inside the passage, Verse clicked the wall back, hiding them away from the blaster fire.
The shots continued to ring in their ears. “Go!” Verse hurried the worried Atyiru. The passage was much narrower than a normal corridor, the walls bare and unpainted and ceiling low. Thankfully, dim track lights glowed along the floor to light their way. With no means to barricade the passageway door shut, Verse knew she and the Miraluka simply had to run. The Hapan had actually imagined the guards would have followed them in much sooner, but for whatever reason, none came to give chase.
Verse could hear Atyiru whimpering as she took in deep breaths, running blind. The pair had to hustle through the passage, some points narrowing to the point where only one person could fit through. The thought occurred to the Journeyman that the Del’Abbot’s guards would have possibly considered the servant’s passage as a means of escape for their captives, and have posted coverage at this exit, too. After all, even though it was meant to look as if it did not exist, a trained Guard unit would most certainly be intimately aware of the floorplan of their estate.
“You may go no further!” Her suspicions were confirmed as she heard a male Hapan voice within the passage, this time speaking in Basic. “Nyrrr!” The man had barely raised his blaster before Verse planted her Vibroblade in his gut. She withdrew the bloodied weapon and nudged the Aedile along, Atyiru having to step over the Hapan as he crumpled to the floor.
“When you escape the influence of the ysalamari, you will be restored…” Verse assured the Miraluka. The passageway had come to an end. Knowing there would be guards on their tail soon, the Hapan did not hesitate to swing back the exit door inset in the wall.
“We must continue to run.”
Galeres House Team
Lexi’s blade continued its way through the guard, carving upward through his body as his screaming splintered through the hallway. Anduriel was just as brutal, his boot coming down into the floored guard, crushing his face into the metallic grates, ending his miserable life in a split second. The trio continued their warpath, though it seemed that most of the guards were distracted with more important matters. What was left was nothing important, only strays that needed killing. The path was mostly clear for the group, but it was obvious that the Arconans were strained without the Force.
“We need to hunt this thing down quickly.” The Quaestor’s voice cut though the tense air with ease as he looked at the other two.
“Master, you have a plan?” Lexi was quick to react to his comment. Her eyes scanned around, looking for any sign of danger.
“We could split up...” Anduriel sounded unsure of his actions, knowing the idea would probably be shot down instantly by the Primarch.
Hearing the thundering of boots, Cethgus allowed himself to breathe calmly as the three of them spread out. His resolve would not break here. He would make sure they got out, and then Marick would suffer for this.
The blasters the guards carried never got a shot off as he darted forward. The physical-fighting ability of the Primarch excelled in these environments, and it was clear as he lashed out with his sabers, catching the guards unprepared.
“Agreed. Lexi, take Anduriel and go. If you find the creature...kill it without hesitation, understand?” He ordered, his voice cold as he spoke, directing her focus to him instantly.
“Understood, Master. Let’s go Anduriel.” Her voice trailed off as the two of them sprinted down the corridors. It was an order they had been given, a directive from and the complete trust of Cethgus. Lexi was determined to make sure that the two of them didn’t let him down.
The Obelisk’s eyes watched his student and the Knight move off together, hoping to see them again. But for now, he focused on his own task.
Gripping his sabers firmly, his eyes scanned the room: there were two ways out, and one was already taken. Snarling slightly, he lurched forward and down the second route, hearing the sound of blaster fire rippling throughout the mansion now. It seemed that everything had not gone to plan. Containing his mark, he kept on, his bulking mass lurking through the corridors.
Anduriel and Lexi
Both Knights continued their advance deeper into the midst of combat, neither one backing down, neither one surrendering, a true showing of skill and dedication on their part. Lexi darted forward, her saber rotating in her fingers as she sliced through a man’s midriff, hearing him screaming, the cut deep but not enough to end his life completely. Collapsing onto the floor, he grabbed at his wound, writhing in agony.
Training took over for the two of them as they continued further towards what was assumed to be the course of this incidence, closer to where their fellows had been taken. Anduriel and Lexi moved quickly, taking their mission in there strides as they advanced. Despite not having the Force, it was little to no effort for the two of them, making it look nothing more than child's play with each slash of their sabers. The duo progressed through the building, checking rooms as they went to make sure that they found their goal.
“We should have run across it by now.” Andy’s voice echoed out to Lexi as they sprinted down a corridor.
“I agree. Let’s hurry up. We have an important mission from the sounds of it.” Lexi’s replied in with crisp determination at the assignement her Master had given her.
Sprinting down the halls, Cethgus could hear shouting from guards as he spun around the corner. He slammed a shoulder into one of the nearest ones, sending the man scuttling to the floor, while his saber caught the other by the hip, toppling him to one knee as he let out a hiss of pain and squeezed on the trigger of his rifle, missing the two familiar females before him.
Bringing his sabers to bear, he allowed the weapon to rip into the man's stomach as his head crashed into the downed guard. Fighting in brutal close combat was something he specialized in. Ignoring the two members of Arcona for a few moments, the Primarch grinned, bloodlust abating now that the men who dared stand in his way were savaged.
Launching himself up to his feet, he scanned the two in front of them without speaking to the Jedi Hunter, brushing her aside as nothing more than a distraction, something in the way. He noticed that Atyriu was still, and noted that she seemed lost, confused. Picking up that something was not right, his hand lurched for her shoulder instantly.
Her blindness giving her no warning. She just felt the touch against her, the grip firm. Her reflexes though were still lightning fast, and in an instant she had her saber up, activating it and running her enemy through with ease, feeling the blade cutting through the flesh like butter, hearing the grunt and stumbling of her target.
“Aedile!” Verse’s voice rang out in the corridor before Atyriu dealt the killing below. “It is the Quaestor!”
Atyriu froze for a second, her blade deactivating. The man before her crumpled to her knees, his hand grabbing at her robes. Unable to see, she stood in a panicked state, her thoughts obvious on her face: what had she just done?
“I thought you killed only to save lives…” Cethgus coughed, his voice raspy as he kept himself from collapsing, his body wracked in agony as the Quaestor’s eyes fell to his Aedile.
Galeres House Team
Lexi continued her descent into the corridors searching for the creature with Anduriel. This creature did not do what she thought it did, it did not cut you off from the Force, it just made it impossible for you to manipulate it while you were near. The difference was lost on those that spent years deep in the Force, like her master and others, but to her newly opened to it, there was a difference. She felt the Force just could not call to it, there was a small comfort to her in that. She also knew this would help her find the creature, finding the place where the Force was the most distant from her would tell her by that faint echo where it was. Instead of being repulsed by it she let her bring her deeper into that dark spot in her mind, that had to be where the creature was.
“It has to be where its the darkest for us,” she said out loud, “if there were more than one it could be kilometers away.” she took out her cypherpad and walked over to a wall port that an R2 unit would use, pulled out the attachment from her side belt and attached it to the port and her pad. She began combine the various conversations and requests, “Its a lizard it has to eat and it does not eat dead meat it eats live animals, or raw vegetables, come on where did the kitchen send these things? come on faster Lexi.” she chided herself as she looked through the food requests for the past month.
“What are you doing?” Anduriel interrupted her which only made her throw up a hand to silence him which annoyed her fellow knight, “you do know there is a fight going on?” He blocked a blaster bolt from one of the guard that were not chasing them.
“I am a bit busy, take care of it.” Lexi said back in a sarcastic sing song voice of someone being interupted while trying to find something.
Anduriel hissed at her giving him commands but he had no choice but to obey it because the blaster fire was zeroing in on them, “Whatever, you’re doing hurry up.” he used his Obelisk skill with the lightsaber to deflect the next blaster bolt back into the face of the guard firing it. Making the other two duck behind the archway.
“Got it! Raw meats and vegetables room 329, thats down this corridor on the right, thats where the little bastard is being held. Lets go!” Lexi unplugged her pad and stowed it as she ran down the hall full speed. Anduriel following still commenting on the fact that she did not see to understand that two guards were trying to kill them.
They rand down the hall and forced the door open with their sabers, then both of them ducked to the side of the door just in time for a hale of blaster fire to come at them, “Whoa!” Lexi said with a surprised yelp, “turret!”
“Really you think?” Anduriel retorted, “ Now what?”
“Hug the walls and hide behind stuff till you get to the far left or right of it.” Lexi said a matter of fact. Anduriel looked at her with the accusing face of me? Lexi looked at him and motioned to him, “You’re the Obelisk, you have a better chance to block it than I do,I will stay here and kill all the guards that try and follow you.”
“Oh thanks,”Anduriel started to go then hesitated, “You and I need to have a talk after this.”
Lexi waved him off, “Yes, yes, hurry.” She leapt past the door making the turret activate again but missing her and she launched herself into the guard that followed. Her red blade of her saber came alive and a vibro dagger came out in her other hand, Her style of combat is up front and personal which made blasters very much less effective. Closing the gap was of course the problem, she was determined no one would follow Anduriel while she breathed.
Dark Forge Team (on loan to Galeres)
Taking advantage of the momentary distraction Lexi had provided, Anduriel turned and move into the room, sprinting and sliding so his whole armored body was behind a large column. Crates hugged one side of the pillar, providing the human with a bit more cover to plan his next move.
Ok. So. Turret and their spotter friend. What to do What to do….., Andy felt his body tense as he scanned his options. The opposite end of the room mirrored his side, with a pillar and crates stacked next to it. He holstered his lightsaber, knowing it wouldn’t be much use at this distance.
He considered his choices for a second, pausing for breath, then pulled out his sidearm with his left hand and fired a shot at the other column. It achieved the desired effect; he heard the spotter yell, “Over there!” and taking advantage of the moment he ran the other direction, moving around the crates and forward. Rather than ducking under the next set of crates, Andy took his chances. He pushed himself forward, feeling his body begin the arc of a dive. In that split moment he took the best aim he could and pulled the trigger at the head of the spotter.
He tried to roll as he landed, and while not graceful it was effective such that he was able to press his back against the layers of crates preventing Anduriel from being fried by a blaster.
He breathed heavily; Did I get the spotter? Only one way to find out
“You know, without a spotter, won’t be easy to see through those turret sights. Might as well not use it. How you gonna see me come at you?”
He heard a pause and then an angry snarl followed by a rough female voice, “I don’t need much to see you, filthy armored dog."
Andy felt his cover shaking as he heard the turret fire in his general direction. Ok. She is not happy. Also, I don’t think this crate has much more defense left to it. Think fast Andy.
He closed his eyes and racked his brain, running his mind through all the possible options, narrowing it down to the best two. but why not both?
He removed the cloak that wrapped around his shoulders, grimacing that he was about to sacrifice such expensive cloth, he bundled it up again and tossed it over the crate in a high arc.
He remained silent and motionless until he heard the blaster fire die down. Instantly he laughed, “Ha. You fell for it a second time, and now you don’t even have a spotter to blame. Well done guardsman. Or is it woman. I still haven’t figured out what is up with you Hapans. How do you mate?”
He heard a roar in frustration and the clicking of boots moving towards him in the pace of a battle charge. Grinning he pushed himself upwards, using one hand to help him leap over the crates; in his other hand he pulled his saber from his belt igniting it as he moved.
He saw the rage turn to fear in his opponents eyes, and with the flash of his saber, those eyes were no longer staring at Anduriel, but at some unknown object from the vantage point of the floor.
He turned back to see Lexi standing guard outside the door, her red saber glowing as she stood alert surrounded by a pile of corpses.
“Lexi, you’re letting in a draft. How about you come inside and lock the door.”
The Knight turned to stare at him; her hard eyes were unamused, “You go ahead and finish the mission. I’ll stay here and guard you, whatever it takes.”
Anduriel sighed, “Cethgus gave us a mission to do together. He’s going to be mighty unhappy if one of us gets hurt because we split up again.”
He could see her eyes soften a bit at the mention of her master and a reminder of her real orders.
“We have a mission. Our mission. Together. You know. Teamwork. Isn’t that a thing to you,” He went up to the door and grabbed one, “Now get in and help me barricade this thing. We don’t want any nasty surprises.”
She nodded briskly and went inside, giving Anduriel room to slam the doors shut. As he turned around he saw pushing one of the crates over to the door. Moving briskly, he stacked two more. Its not a barricade, but we’re short on time and we’ll know when they come in
Turning around the went to the area behind the turret, seeing two smaller ornate boxes with holes at the top, clearly meant for something to be kept alive.
“Two lizards? Well aren’t they fancy,” the Obelisk muttered.
“The ysalamir are tenacious fighters. We should do this one at a time.” Lexi observed, her voice neutral and controlled, but Anduriel could feel the tension in her body coiled like a spring; she was excited to be close to succeeding.
He drew his blaster in one hand and opened the box with the other, firing two quick blaster bolts in succession at the object within. He heard scratching noises, and claws scampering before a soft thud. He lifted the cover completely and they both looked inside to see the reptile with blaster bolt marks all along its torso.
Moving efficiently they looked at the next one. Lexi moved to open the box, but as soon as the cover was loose a 2 foot blur shot out of the box, leaping at Anduriel’s face. The Obelisk stepped back in surprise as the scaly creature smacked directly into his face, pushing him off balance and onto his back on the floor.
Lexi moved fast reflexively, grabbing the creature on the Obelisks face she tossed it back into the box, drawing her saber and slashing through the box, cleaving the creature and box in two. She let her shoulders relax as she felt her ability to manipulate the Force returning, “We’ve done our part, we should go aid Master Cethgus and the Consul now.”
“hmmmmmmmmm” groaned the Mantellian as he stuck a thumbs-up in the air while laying on the hard floor.
It took a few hours to have all the components required and by then the Medbay was dotted with injured. Mostly superficial wounds but two or three with injuries sufficient for immediate medical attention. The Miraluka flittered from person to person, administering bacta packs, painkillers and bandages whilst 2-1B assisted. Thankfully, it had not just been the two of them. A few of the able bodied crew had helped get their colleagues aid. Not to mention one of Maaks’ colleagues.
“Nath, right? Thanks for the help.”
She nodded, her emotions tingly at his thanks. He smirked slightly before placing his hand lightly on her shoulder, his fingertips gently touching her shoulder blade. He leaned in slowly and watched as her aura lightened considerably, “You wouldn’t mind holding down the fort for a moment would you? I’ll owe you one.”
Her emotions said enough and he quickly paced away, wheeling a small tray out of the Medbay and across the hall into an office. He laughed to himself as he took the components off the tray and placed them in a circle on the floor. I suppose this is one way to get to know the crew. Moving the tray into a corner(and half saluting to the name plate on the desk) he locked the door and sat inside the circle. Finally, a little peace.
Instantly his sight dimmed and the Force began to speak to him like stars in a night sky. He had it all laid out, the components, the pieces and eventually the cure. More or less.
The vials and powders lifted up around him as he began a reconstruction. He could see the general outline of what he needed to create a simulacrum of the cure and guided the pieces together. The Force whispered to him, constantly guiding the pieces together to finally make the puzzle. A smile played on his lips as the final piece slotted together, becoming the blueprint for the medicine.
“What the frak…”
Everything fell to the ground and Maaks whirled around to face his executive officer. Jumping up he held up his hands, “Before you give me the lecture you’re about to give me, would it help if I told you I know how to make the cure?”
Arcia opened her mouth, closed it and let a good, strong frown form above her glaring eyes. She folded her arms and looked about the floor.
"I’ll let it pass just this once”, her lips pursed together in an almost-smile, “but only because you need to suit up. Bridge. One hour.”
The Miraluka looked about to complain when Officer Cortel allowed a single, perfectly shaped eyebrow to raise and silenced any query. She gestured to the door and he left without complaint.
(Teroch, Nath, Maaks, Kalon, Naradas)
The AGV Nighthawk hummed as its hyperdrive kicked in. Sub-space streaked by as the ship cut a quick route through to its destination: Millinar.
The Bridge was quiet. The faces of the crew were stoic, their bodies moving on fumes and nerves. Light flickered from consoles, a cool blue light settling over every shape.
Teroch bit his thumbnail, eyebrows furrowed in concentration as he lounged on the Captains seat. This was it. In and out; mission successful. But the young Elder couldn’t help but feel as though they had slipped through the chaos too easily.
He looked at Celahir who slouched by the comms console making offhand comments to its controller, Uji. Was the data reliable? Had it been planted? Could something have been overlooked? The Kiffar noticed him looking and sauntered over.
“Whats up, Ter?”
“You look a bit too tense for it to be nothing.”
The youth didn’t reply. Something was making him nervous. Celahir shrugged and sauntered back to pester Uji when a conversation cut halfway into the room.
“-so I said, what whale doesn’t look like a Hutt?”
Naradas guffawed into Maaks’ face, a large bottle in one hand with the other around the Miralukas neck. Nath trailed behind with barely contained rage. Teroch stood and raised an eyebrow. The Krath shrugged and grinned, throwing a bottle to the Captain.
“I thought we could have a toast”.
The doors quickly rushed aside once more, “I hope not without me. Captain, repairs are completed and the injured crew members are recovering within the medbay. Everything is a green light.”
All eyes were on the Elder, his smaller form cloaked in dark colours. His shoulders rose a few inches as he looked upon his officers and then his crew. The wine bottle suddenly felt a little lighter as he felt his worries lighten and he smiled with strength that would make his father proud. The top popped off and he raised it to everyone.
“Unity in Victory!”
Naradas cheered the loudest, but everyone kept up. The bottle was passed around as everyone toasted the mantra, their Captain and their mission. The floor hummed slightly as the ship left sub-space. A viewing screen glimmered into view.
“Captain”, Kalon stood, taking the final toast, helmet underarm, “We have arrived at our destination.”
Nath had left Kalon's side hours ago, when the male Iridonian navigation officer returned once more, she did not resent having to leave, and knew she had idled away her own down time just to not end up pacing the hallways with lack of occupation.
Of course these things changed quickly: the mission had become far more hazardous although she did not seem to mind; every occupation seemed to brighten her otherwise dark mood to those that knew what they were looking at.
Originally she had decided that now would be an appropriate time to see if she could get the stasis tubes active, however, the plan changed drastically when she arrived at the engineering level. It was chaos, if they had not collapsed the engineers were fixing things. With a muted sigh she began first aid and those that needed further treatment she dragged up to medbay.
On her journey back to the bridge the Iridonian female was unfortunate enough to be crammed into a turbolift with Naradas, silently she counted her blessings that his full attention was not on her but rather the Miraluka that stood next to him.
As she stepped away from the pair she froze for a moment, uncertain of what she had felt ripple across her mind. With conscious effort she kept herself moving, lest one of the others noted the unusual behaviour. Without any real thought she came to a stop next to Celahir, catching the tail end of his conversation with Uji she added:
"Perhaps next time..."
Nath was swiftly interrupted by the bellowing toast, as the other crew members carried the cheer, she remained mute not quite understanding what they had to celebrate yet. The wine bottle was merrily bounced from one person to the next when it reached her pale hand she immediately passed it on to Celahir without imbibing a drop.
After the Kiffar had taken a hearty swig he passed along the bottle and turned back to Nath watching her for a moment as she retreated back into the depths of her datapad once more.
"Sorry Nath, what were you saying?" Her obsidian gaze shifted back to him and her hand lowered the datapad once more, she didn't seem to hold any grudge at the interruption merely general exasperation at the chaos.
"I said, if you wish to ascertain the reliability of the data next time the team could bring a hostage on board for me to interrogate..." There was a slight pause before she continued speaking. "I would also appreciate if yourself or Uji could assist me in setting up the stasis tubes in the hangar, I can configure the settings, however, I dare not set them up any further in case I damage the delicate equilibrium the ship has now."
She did not turn her attention fully away from Celahir, but she also knew Uji could also hear every word she spoke. Silently she waited in the hopes on of them would volunteer to assist her.
Battleteam Dark Forge
BAC Darkest Night
“Where are you, you little frazlat?” K’tana thought in frustration as she crept through the vent. Liera was in here someone, the Twi’lek could feel her, but the kowakian monkey-lizard remained unseen. The woman huffed in agitation as she crawled on her hands and knees, cursing each time she bumped her shoulder or knelt on a lekku. Her little friend was totally not getting fresh fruit for a few days. As K’tana progressed through the vent, the air became cooler and suddenly, she found herself facing a set of legs that were standing at the exit of the vent.
Snaking her lightsaber up from her hip into her fingers, K’tana peered through the grate to see whose legs she was starting at. She saw another set of legs, then another. Both were bare. She heard grumbles and whispers, a moan and a pant. Celevon, you idiot.
He was standing directly in front of the grate to the vent and acting like a boy who’d never touched a woman before. K’tana was nearly tempted to slice through his calves to get to the women holding him. Yet, her patience knew no bounds. She waited. And waited. Time ticked by as she sat, lightsaber at the ready for her moment.
“Lets go to your quarters.” said a woman with a husky, breathy voice. A giggle from the other woman. Cel must have been nodding like a tongue-tied fool, as there was no vocalization from him. Then he sidestepped the vent and they began to walk away. It seemed her patience was to be rewarded.
K’tana threw the grate from her view, scooted out as quickly as she could manage, and then ignited her lightsaber and attacked.She didn’t bother to stand up; she literally slid herself across the floor and went for the legs of the two women. She didn’t want the Hapan women’s shock to dissipate before there was time to take down at least one of the vile whores. Her foresight and quickness was fortunate, for as she managed to close two-thirds of the distance, one woman had managed to turn and put her hand on a hidden blade. She had no chance to use it. K’tana severed her from her slightly too large ankles.
The violet blade passed through one set of legs, and K’tana quickly changed trajectory, cutting the other in an upward angle. The second woman was amputated from her knee and from her thigh. Celevon attempted to hold the first woman upright, not quite realizing what had gone on, and ended up knocking her over. That was when she started to scream. Without standing, K’tana pulled her legs beneath her and jumped up and onto the woman's chest, driving her saber down into her breast. She sat on the Hapan, panting.
“What the kark are you doing, you crazed woman?!” Celevon demanded. His saber ignited in his hand, his rage palatable in the air around him.
K’tana, who remained seated, looked up at him and simply shook her head at the man. He pointed his blade at her throat again demanding an answer. She slowly stood up, disengaging her own blade.
“Foolish male!” she snapped at him, “Can you not see a damn trap when it’s tonguing your tonsils?”
Celevon faltered and took a slight step back. K’tana stepped forward, rage in her eyes. She only came up to his chest and now she took her finger and jabbed it there.
“A bunch of women come onboard and you are so arrogant as to think them really attracted to you for some reason?! They’re taking over the ship!” she yelled, her smooth voice sounding like velvet rubbed the wrong way.
Eyes wide and feeling blindsided, Edraven stopped pointing his saber near the purple woman. Her lekku were writhing over her shoulders like possessed snakes and her green eyes flickered with gold. They stood and stared at each other, he in shock whilst she was enraged. The sound of footsteps snapped their attention back to the situation at hand.
“My Lord! My Lady!” a Human male in an Engineering outfit came racing towards them, panting as he stopped several feet away.
“Report!” K’tana yelled, not even recalling that Celevon was still her superior. She was so angry at his simple mind, or at least not realizing a trap for what it was, that she demanded information without so much as a wince.
“My Lady, Lord Kordath has rounded up a large number of the women. He tasked me with finding you both and telling you that there may still be a few left alive. You are to find and kill them. The ones captured will be questioned.”
K’tana began shaking her head.
“Go back to Kordath and tell him these women need to be executed immediately. There are to be no prisoners. We can’t afford any of them to live to escape or make contact with the planet. Right Lord Celevon?” she asked, her lip slightly curling with the partially snide remark.
He ignored her verbal attack and just nodded his head. As the officer left, K’tana spun on her heel and began to stalk off.
“Where are you going?” the Obelisk asked as he watched her walk away.
“I, your lordship,” K’tana called over her shoulder, “am going to hunt and kill every woman dressed more scantily clad than myself. You can either come with me or go make-out with more of the enemy. I don’t care. Just stop staring at my ass as I walk, or I’ll remove parts of you.”
Celevon couldn't help but snicker at that last bit as he debated his choices.
Location: Nighthawk Hangar
Riverche could feel the anger pour off Andrelious as he stormed out of the hangar; Nadrin followed close behind him. She had read Andrelious’ record before leaving Selen, and she felt honored to have one of the best pilots in Arcona join Soulfire.
He could be right, but they weren’t away from the shuttle long enough for them to do anything. Riverche contemplated to herself. Maybe… A grin formed across the Miraluka’s face when she spotted Saskia across the hangar looking bored.
Riverche strolled over to the engineer, and asked. “Can we talk in private for a moment?”
The two women walked to a secluded spot in the hangar; where Saskia turned towards Riverche and annoyingly said. “What?”
“Andrelious thinks the shuttle was sabotaged. I need your help…”
The human held up her hand to stop Riverche from finishing. “There is not enough time left to…”
“What about the other shuttles? We were not away from the shuttle-”
“If it was one of our own-” The engineer trailed off.
“You check the engine and controls; I get the crew sections.”
The two women simultaneously headed for the closest shuttle. Saskia laid on the floor of the cockpit, and opened the control panel. A half empty bottle of amber colored liquid rolled across the floor slightly tapping Riverche’s foot. “Maintenance worker’s stash?” Riverche inquired.
“Not sure, the shield is wired to fail. The engine looks tampered with.” Saskia replied. “Fixed.”
“Anything else?” Riverche made notations in her datapad.
“Not on this shuttle. You find anything?”
“Spent cartridge, old food… nothing unusual. Next shuttle?”
“Yep…” They closed the shuttle’s door and walked over to the next shuttle. Saskia didn’t take long to discover the issue. “Someone does not want us to get that cure. The engines are wired to overheat in this one.”
“Can you fix it?”
“It will take too long, so we are down a shuttle. Anything?”
“Nope, not even old food. The workers must have just cleaned. Last shuttle?”
As the pair searched the last shuttle, Saskia said. “While you guys were gone on the errand, I heard that the ship had a lot of problems. At first I didn’t think about it, but now…”
“Think they are related?” Riverche asked.
Saskia thought for a moment before answering with, “If so, the sabotage happened before we left.”
“Which means the person-”
“This one is clean. They did not have time to finish the job.” Saskia interrupted Riverche.
“I will let Andrelious and Nadrin know what we found. Thanks for your help.” Riverche said as they closed the shuttle’s door behind them. Before Riverche could leave the hangar, the door to the hangar swung open as Nadrin and Andrelious entered.
Del'Abbot Estate, Hapes
Between one breath…
The strain of pulled fabric around her forearm, the warmth of strong fingers through the cloth. The dying hum-snick-silence of deactivated lightsabers dropping to the floor, the echo of a warning shout still ringing in her ears. The tremble of his arm, the rattle of his breathing, the smell of burnt flesh. The thick, metallic stench of blood, the blood that dripped down onto her bare feet.
…and the next…
The rage, the fear, the desperation, all the anger, all the hate, all the violence. The wounds. The war. The pain, all the pain.
…there was only silence…
…and it broke the world…
Atyiru dropped to her knees like a shattered doll and screamed, "Brother, NO!"
…and only the darkness was left…
…for the light to reach...
And like her heartbeat, unconscious, constant, vital, all the radiance of the world came rushing back, shining, exploding stars bursting into life, bringing depth and wonder to the Void she adored.
...and so bright was the birth of it all…
...that it tore her apart.
Because before her was her brother’s light, dying by her hand.
“No, no, no, no…” The Priestess chanted, hands frozen, suspended, over her Quaestor.
“Aedile, you must control yourself.” Verse’s eloquent, controlled comments were now accompanied once more by her serene presence.
Atyiru took a breath, pulled herself together, and shut it all away. The unspeakable horror, the guilt, the terror...all of it, she slipped quietly beneath the mask. They were but echoes in her soundscape of ardor, but memories of light in her glittering void. In her mind, she recited her mantra, even as she drew the Dark Side to her, like embracing a long-lost lover.
Emotion, yet peace.
Ignorance, yet knowledge.
Passion, yet serenity.
Chaos, yet harmony.
Death, yet the Force.
She was pain, yet healing. She was a sickness, yet a cure. She was what she chose to be.
“Watch my back. The others are in the room thirty meters to our right. Guards are coming from the left.” Atyiru informed her Hapan teammate calmly, hands moving with steadfast efficiency as she lifted away Cethgus’ chestplate and ripped open his shirt.
The Miraluka reached down, probing the wound with her fingers. Cethgus growled in pain, and she deftly dodged the backhand that might have unhinged her jaw.
“Hold still.” She commanded, continuing her inspection despite his muttered commentary. Abdominal, cauterized edges, a complete puncture.
Focusing briefly, Atyiru channeled the power of the Force, molding it to her will, directing it to mend broken blood vessels and tortured flesh. In moments, she’d done what she could. Lightsaber wounds were always unfortunately hard to heal, and they could not afford to deal long enough for a complete healing session. At the least, the worst of the damage was repaired.
Snatching her lightsaber and reactivating it, the Aedile gripped the hem of her cloak and sheared through it, cutting several strips. She pressed the cloth over the wound in her superior’s abdomen, badgering him to sit up so she could bind it just tightly enough.
“Aedile…” Verse began warily, holding her borrowed blaster at the ready.
“I know.” Atyiru murmured, clipping Cethgus’ lightsabers to his belt with hissed instructions to only fight if utterly necessary, despite knowing she’d be disregarded in moments. She drew her own saber once more, ignoring how vile it felt in her hand, and beckoned the Hapan woman over to help support their bulking Quaestor.
Moving in front of the grudging pair, the Priestess held her blade before her and turned her body into the pristine, ultimate defensive stance of Soresu. Ahead of her, more guards, guns at the ready, spilled around the corner. Behind the guardsmen, down the hall, Marick and Socorra’s lights, amid their own miniature army of enemies, had flared back into being. Down the corridor to Verse’s left, she could vaguely sense Lexi and Anduriel.
“Talk about dramatic…” Atyiru whispered to herself, staving off insanity with weak humor, before she spun her saber in a tight arc and prepared to fight her way free of this godsforsaken place.
Streets of Estele
Adam passed out the door of the cantina, surprised to not see Adi and Marrek waiting for him. His mind rippled with Adi’s high pitched feline tones.
“Move for Espada’s club as fast as you can. We’re ‘borrowing’ someone’s transportation.”
How very much like Marrek it was to suggest the idea of stealing a vehicle without Adam along for the fun. Adam shrugged it off, uncertain if he would have wanted to be in their company after recent events anyway. He let the Force flood through his limbs again, and leapt up twelve meters to the roof of the cantina.
It had started raining in Estele as the day drew to a close, the sun lowering in the sky by the minute. Adam effortlessly cleared the gaps between the shoddy buildings that characterized the parts of town where the Talons thrived. He could see where he was going; Estele’s premiere nightclub, “Release”. Classier than most red-light establishments in the lower parts of town, but not entirely on the up-and-up either, it was easy to see how Espada used it to accumulate such myriad connections throughout Estele to set up such a troublesome insurrection. A shrewd Twi’lek, Espada herself avoided getting her hands dirty for the most part, using her pull with Estele’s criminal network and a little bit of charm to throw her weight around town.
One of the many odd elements of the insurrection was the rather sudden nature of the whole mess, as Adam attempted to connect the dots while he rushed toward the neon castle that Espada waited in. He blasted open a door, rushing through the living room of a very alarmed Bith as he dove through the window on the other side, landing on the rain-slick slanted windows below. He slid down and leapt the lengthy fifteen-meter gap to the next building as though the chasm were a small creek. Sometimes, the Force with one’s body was the best transportation one could ask for. Adam maintained his sprint, not losing an ounce of breath as he drew closer towards the shimmering neon lights of the district around Release.
He was reminded of an almost overlooked danger as a window he was passing shattered; the Talons had posted snipers near their major areas of influence. Adam blasted open a skylight and dropped into a room filled with scaffolding; these buildings were still under construction. He realized he still wasn’t quite safe, as the canvas wrapped around the scaffolds was quickly perforated by more blaster fire. He kept moving, too fast for them to hit, and shattered the glass wall leading into the next room. Four very surprised soldiers wheeled around to fill Adam with holes, only to find that they had chosen to shoot at a Jedi, the least cooperative kind of target in the galaxy.
Adam telekinetically hurled the glass shards into the first of the men, and threw his body at the gunman in the rear. The other two were stunned by the sudden carnage, and were even easier pickings. Adam’s muscles shuddered with the Force as he pounced at one, plunging his lightsaber through his neck, and kicked off of his body several meters into the air. A pressure wave sent the soldier crumpling to the floor as Adam’s weight crashed down onto his chest. The saber returned to his hand, and he stabbed it into the floor next to the man’s face.
“Next time you fight a Jedi, you’d better not miss.” Adam warned his chosen survivor, and deactivated the saber, disappearing as quickly as he burst into the room.
The rain poured down harder as Adam burst out onto the rooftops once more. He didn’t care; at least he was fighting warriors now. His mind reached out with the Force to attempt to sense the influence of the Sith ringleader in all of this mess; sure enough, the Dark Side rippled through the very air. Perhaps it was because Arcona assumed threats to its power would come from Jedi alone, or that it was mistaken for their own presence, but it was without question that this upstart Sith was quite powerful. Too many insurrectionist cells were taken out in raids for the revolt to continue with the fervor that it had been; any normal cabal’s will would surely have been broken by this point. Jedi were very difficult forces to resist, both physically and psychologically, let alone in the size that Arcona had unleashed on the insurrectionists in recent days. True, the soldiers fought with no more effectiveness than any uncoordinated rebel group, but their willpower was unnatural. Adam recalled Adi’s interrogation, and realized how odd it was that she couldn’t break the man in seconds, instead taking at least ten minutes to finally force an answer out of him. They were watching rudimentary Battle Meditation at work, with the Sith likely having a very strong hold over Espada herself, since their presence had been very well concealed up to that point.
Adam closed in on the street that Release occupied, the large glass and neon tower blinking and glowing through the rain and encroaching darkness. He saw a speeder touch down on one of the buildings opposite to him, as Marrek jumped out carrying what looked to be a rifle. Adam guessed at the plan; send the apprentice charging into the heavily-armed nightclub more or less on his own, as Marrek picks off anyone who passes in front of a window in relative safety. Adi might find her way in, maybe not before Adam was riddled with holes, but at least someone might be able to get an answer or two out of Espada. Adam sighed, slid down a pipe to the street, and began the lonely march up the steps to the club entrance.
Nadrin breezed into the hangar after his short sojourn out to meet up with Teroch and let him know how the mission had gone, only to see Riverche approaching him from one of the shuttles in the hangar, a determined look on her face.
“Something you might want to hear Sarge. We think the shuttle that we had to jettison out of was tampered with. We suspect that the shields were wired to fail on either remote or timer, and the engines might have been mucked about with as well. We found similar sabotage on one of the shuttles in this hangar too.”
“I knew it.”
Nadrin ignored Andrelious' indignant outburst and instead put his metaphorical thinking hat on, his mind racing through the possibilities.
“Right, this clearly happened before we boarded the Nighthawk. It's troubling, but not our immediate concern. We'll deal with it when we get back, but for now I need to give you all a quick briefing. Everyone, huddle up.”
The last sentence was a shout which echoed through the cavernous hangar and brought the other members of the team together as they dropped whatever they had been doing to join the collection of Jedi. Nadrin ran a hand through his hair as he waited for his team to assemble, and when they did he began to talk without any preamble.
“This is gonna be brief, because we probably won't have too much time before we head out. We're in hyperspace now enroute to Milinar where we need to steal whatever it is that is going to apparently save these Cythraul's lives. All in all, it's going to be a complete smash and grab and we suspect that there may be significant resistance, so I wanted to give you some time to come to terms with that. I'll be milling around so let me know if you need anything, otherwise we'll launch as soon as we exit hyperspace.”
With that the young Arconae walked away from the group, resolutely ignoring the butterflies that seemed to be making residence in his gut.
Just another fight, what is there to worry about?
Battleteam Dark Forge
BAC Darkest Night
The Templar quickly caught up with the Twi'lek, a small smirk curving his lips as he regained his composure. "If I'm not allowed to look at your ass, what am I supposed to admire?"
A cold glare was the only response, the influence of the Dark Side of the Force making K'tana's eyes appear a golden-green.
"Such a pity. It's quite a nice ass," Celevon muttered, his eyes almost instinctively drawn to her swaying hips before his head snapped up. "Kordath ordered those women to be taken prisoner?"
"Finally, the head on his shoulders takes over," she sighed, rolling her eyes. "Yes. Our brilliant Leader ordered one of the roving security patrols to take the ones still in the rec room captive. I'm assuming they used some type of knockout gas."
"That would make sense, considering their training. It would have been a bloodbath had one of our security forces gone against the Hapan military. Judging by their behavior, I would assume they are one of the elite teams," the Assassin mused, moving to type in the code to open their holding area.
A slight weight dropping onto the Onderonian's shoulder caused Celevon to pause, nearly drawing a dagger before it gave a slight laugh in his ear. The Amnesiac frowned and tried to remember who had a...
"K'tana, is this your monkey-lizard?"
"Liera, you silly little frang! Where have you been?" The purple-skinned female asked with a slight scowl towards her pet.
The Kowakian Monkey-lizard leapt from the Obelisk's shoulder to that of the Tyrian. It made an oddly cute chirruping noise in her ear.
"I'll go ahead and see if there is any information to be gathered from our prisoners. I trust you're aware of the passcode?"
The Twi'lek frowned and made a shooing motion towards the male. "I'll be along shortly. Don't kill them all before I come in."
"I'll try to not leave only leftovers for you," Celevon replied, typing in the passcode before entering the main area. As the door slid shut behind him, one of the security officers stood and snapped off a quick salute.
"My Lord, I-"
"Save it. Have you begun to question the prisoners?" the Onderonian dismissed the small talk with a sharp gesture, glaring at the man through the lenses of his mask.
"Of course not, mi'lord. Lord Kordath ordered-"
"And when have you known any of us to keep more than two alive?" Celevon interrupted again, his voice as cold as interstellar space. “Save your snivelling, I have a job to do. Place one of the prisoners in the interrogation room.”
“Yes, mi’lord,” the Officer saluted, quickly fleeing the room.
“Why are you terrifying the security?” K’tana asked curiously. “Why not save it for one of the Hapan girls?”
“Because they’re too simple, too pliable. They questioned orders the last time I was member of Arcona. Shall we see if we can get some answers?” the Assassin queried, gesturing for the Twi’lek to proceed him.
“Oh, no. You’re going first. I’m not having you stare at my ass again,” she snorted, mocking his gesture.
The Obelisk passed a glance across the other fifteen prisoners behind shields that gave a nasty shock and burn if you touched it. The woman seated in the room had a defiant, haughty look in her eyes. Her pale blue eyes burned with fury, likely due to the fact that most of her ‘captors’ were men.
“I understand that you have information for us,” the Onderonian said pleasantly as he unstrapped the mask and took it off.
“Why would I have information for you pigs? Your friend here is no better than a slave or a kark-toy, whereas you’re worse,” the Hapan spat.
“You’re the leader of your little outfit. I saw how they all deferred to you,” Celevon said, his fake smile becoming slightly more genuine whilst the Tyrian gave him an odd look. Of course, it was put off by how icy the look in his eyes were.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she hissed before spitting at his feet.
“A pity. And here I was hoping for a pleasant conversation,” the Assassin sighed, opening the folder that contained the weapons that had been concealed on the woman. “Oh, this is very nice. A kerambit. Nice, sharp... and likely a gift, judging by how much detail was put into it. Is this Mandalorian iron?”
“Keep your filthy paws off of it!”
Celevon twirled the gleaming weapon in his hands. “I’m afraid it’s about to get quite filthy,” was all he said before slowly sinking it in just below the Hapan’s ribs. “I would look away if I were you, my dear... things are about to get... messy.”
The Twi’lek’s eyes gleamed as she watched the Equite cut into the Hapan.
Over an hour had passed as Celevon tried different methods of torture both physical and psychological. The woman’s body was a mass of cuts, bruises and burns. She also was lacking her left ear along with several fingernails that had been slowly pulled out with a pair of pliers. The screams had caused the Security Officers to blare music just to block out the sounds.
“You know, I cannot help but admire her endurance. All we’ve managed to get out of her is her name. Isn’t that right, Isabella?” the Assassin cooed into her remaining ear.
“I won’t tell you anything that betrays the family I serve,” she said hoarsely.
“Pity, I suppose I must switch to extreme measures. K’tana, be a dear and go fetch the prisoner from cell three,” Celevon murmured, rinsing some of the blood off of his hands before grabbing a canister. Once the Twi’lek left the room, he poured a white crystalline substance into his hand. With a smile that didn’t reach his eyes, the Obelisk used the fingers of the opposite hand to open up one of the wounds and pushed the substance into it.
Isabella screamed, throwing her head back and fighting against the bonds.
“I’d ask you to pass the salt, but it’s currently soaking up your blood. Ah! The guest of honour arrives!” The Onderonian chuckled as the Tyrian drug in another Hapan. “Have a look at this face. The unfortunate thing about having your own team... it gets tempting to bring family in. Judging by her appearance, would this be your sister?”
The Assassin grabbed the other woman by the chin, lifting her face into view.
Isabella began shouting in her native tongue. Judging by the harsh sounds, she was likely swearing before she switched back to basic. “Keep your karking hands off of her, you filth!”
“Oh, don’t worry. I won’t hurt her too bad,” Celevon murmured, pretending not to notice the backhand the Twi’lek delivered to Isabella, sending two teeth and some viscous liquid flying. “So long as you tell me what I want to know.”
“Don’t tell him anything, Bella!”
“Are you going to listen to your sister?” the Obelisk asked, passing a glance to the leader.
“Please... don’t hurt her... I’ll tell you anything... Just don’t hurt my sister,” the woman said, visibly holding back tears.
“Very well, then. Goodbye, little one.” A second later, Celevon placed his other hand on the back of the younger woman’s head and twisted. A harsh snap echoed through the room as she appeared to fall in slow motion to the floor.
“You bastard! You said you wouldn’t hurt her!”
“Oh, I can guarantee that she didn’t feel a thing,” the Assassin smirked.
“Why kill her then?! I said I would talk!” Isabella screamed, saliva leaving her mouth with every word.
“You will talk, I can guarantee it. But this is only the beginning, I’m afraid,” the Equite said calmly, washing his hands once more. “K’tana, do what you please with her. Make certain to get all of the information on a recording, then dispose of the trash.”
“With pleasure, Edraven,” his fellow Arconan replied with clear relish in her tone. The screams started up again as Celevon shut the door behind him.
Soulfire Strike Team
Andrelious J. Inahj was feeling vindicated; the shuttle he had been piloting had been destroyed, but the Warlord immediately had placed the blame on sabotage. Now, it was clear that his theories were correct, after a detailed examination by Saskia Ortega and Riverche had found that other shuttles on board the Nighthawk had also been rigged.
“You can do what you want regarding this once we’re back in Dajorra. For now our priority is the mission on Millinar,” Nadrin Erinos stated, sensing that his fellow Warlord was out for blood. Whoever had sabotaged these ships was probably still on board the Nighthawk.
Andrelious nodded. “Very well, Nadrin. I shall stay my vengeance for now.”
5 minutes later
The Soulfire Strike Team were gathered in the passenger area of one of the Nighthawk’s Nu-class shuttles. Andrelious was once again in the pilot’s seat, and had insisted on Saskia Ortega joining him in the cockpit area, feeling that the mechanic’s expertise may be needed in the case of further sabotage attempts.
“I already told you, I’ve fixed this one up. It’s not going to blow.” Saskia stated with annoyance at the ex-Imperial’s paranoia.
“Even the best of us overlook things. And besides, this isn’t going to be an easy landing. I’ll need you here for damage control in case those Hapan bitches launch more fighters at us. I’ve already had one crash today, The last thing any of us want is another.” Inahj replied as he began the ship’s launch sequence. It had taken him mere moments to get a feel for the controls of the ship, though it was not one he had been trained on during his time in Imperial service.
The shuttle broke through the magcon field moments later, and Andrelious immediately pushed the sublight engines to full speed. A quick glance at the sensors indicated the area was currently clear, but Inahj was not a fool. He knew that defences were being scrambled and that they would soon be joined by Miy’til fighters. He had also opted to perform a rough landing, suspecting any landing zones would be defended heavily, and were likely a long distance away from their goal. According to the best intel, Blood Cups did not tend to grow near urban areas.
Andrelious peered at the planet briefly, before selecting an area that was well away from concentrated pockets of life forms. Although information available on exactly what else was on Millinar was sketchy, the relay’s databanks had indicated that the natives were Force sensitive, a fact that had worried the less experienced members of the Strike Team.
The former Imperial steered the ship expertly into Millinar’s upper atmosphere, returning the vessel to repulsor lift power to allow him to bring it in for an easy, if slightly rough landing. The immediate terrain was a fairly flat area of grasslands, dotted with the desired Blood Cups and other foliage.
“I’m a little surprised that the Consortium made it this easy. I know Millinar isn’t one of their more valuable worlds but you’d think they’d have some form of defence.” Saskia remarked as she performed a final check on the systems, confirming them to all be working as planned.
“Don’t count your blessings yet. This mission is far from over. I suspect that by now that the whole cluster are aware that we’re here. I just hope they’re too busy welcoming one of their own home...” Inahj answered, wondering for a moment what Marick and the others were up to.
Whatever it was, he suspected it was going to prove a lot harder than the mission on Millinar.
Stations signified assent, confirmed shots fires, and relayed data instantly. It all fed to the console Valtiere stood at, raised slightly above the other stations so he could oversee. Normally, a Quaestor would be in charge of Qel-Droma's Assault Cruiser, but the concession had been made to Valtiere's experience on such vessels. He had been drilling the crew whilst the Quaestor oversaw the operations of the Qel-Droman battle teams.
He looked over the numbers, a smile crossing his face. This was not the smile his fellow Dark Jedi were used to seeing. It was a true smile, actual warmth there. He revelled in this work. Working with the fleets, the iron heart of Arcona, was work that he saw as useful. If he could improve efficiency here, it might carry to the other ships. Lead by example.
"Good. Good! A well drilled crew will win any fight. It is the key to success in the void. Excellent work, Captain." He nodded to the officer stood to his side. He spoke up, addressing the crew.
"We have done well here. You have all done well here. Crew efficiency is up 58%. The highest quality crew in the fleet. I am proud to have served with you all. Now, we need to keep this efficiency. We will drill again in ten hours." He smiled and nodded at the crew. He was happy to see them react to his praise. A motivated crew was a driven crew.
A runner came in, a lower ranked Dark Jedi, sent by the Quaestor. His good humour instantly vanished as he rounded on the lesser being. He towered over them, exuding impatience and hate.
"What?" He sneered. The Dark Jedi handed him a datapad before running off, obviously glad to be leaving the Aedile's presence. Valtiere sighed as he looked at the contents.
"It seems the Quaestor requires my presence at my convenience. You have your bridge back, Captain." He clapped the man on the shoulder before leaving the bridge.
On hearing Kalon’s announcement, the smile dropped from his face. There was work to be done.
“Raise shields, full active sensor sweep of the area. Sound general quarters.”
The crew scrambled back to their stations. Arcia was first to report back. “Sensors clear. There’s a lot of dust and debris refracting the active pass, but nothing in our vicinity, unless they’re hiding behind one of the moons, or the other side of the planet. Long range telemetry also indicates we’re alone.”
Teroch frowned in confusion. That was not what he was expecting. “What? No Battle Dragons? No swarms of Miy’til fighters?”
“Nothing. All stations have reported in with battle readiness, and Soulfire are requesting permission to launch.” Uji confirmed, looking over his own console, which was bereft of any communication signals.
“Granted. Okay, focused sweep on the surface. Where’s the biggest city? Let’s buzz it and see if we can get their attention.”
Arcia was a long moment in replying, as she looked over her various readouts. “Uh, no cities, Captain. There are some massive life form readings down there, but…it’s mainly plains, forests, and subterranean networks. There could conceivably be cities below the surface...but we’ve got zero power emissions.”
Sighing in frustration, Teroch paced from the command station to the front of the ship and stared out of the viewport, leaning over Kalon’s shoulder. The world was truly beautiful. Shining blue sapphiric oceans contrasted with gently sloping predominantly green continents, and a garnish of pure, unpolluted clouds dotted the sky. Two identically coloured polar caps finished the image, and no less than eight tiny moons circled the mythic planet. He couldn’t believe that his father had found it.
How in Slice’s name did he get in and out without causing such a fuss? It’s been a rigmarole for us, and we’re in a Stealth ship!
“See anything?” he asked the helmsman, already knowing the answer.
“Actually...yeah.” Kalon replied, squinting out of the viewport.
Teroch leaned closer, and his eyes widened when he sighted what Kalon had seen. Space before them distorted, twisted and revealed a huge ship less than three klicks from their nose.
“Take evasive action!” he hollered, and Kalon’s hands were a frenzy of motion.
The ship lurched violently, and Kalon pounded on the console in frustration. “We’re caught in a tractor beam! I’m throttling down before we burn the engines out.”
“Tactical! Target the tractor beam and open fire!” The youth bellowed down to the bridge at Naradas, who obliged, but grimaced instead of complying.
“It’s no use. Their shields are up, and we’re not likely to put a dent in them.”
Celahir let out a yelp, pressing a hand instinctively to his temple, before looking up at the shocked glances. “We’re being jammed.” He explained, sounding glum.
Uji nodded. “Confirmed. Full spectrum jam. We can’t get in touch with Soulfire now. The Shotgun Hyper Transceiver is also out of action.”
How could everything go wrong so fast? the Adept thought briefly, before shaking himself into action.
“Okay, Do we still have sensors?”
Arcia nodded. “It’s not Hapan. I have absolutely no idea what this thing is, other than big and old. Oh, and the tractor beam that we’re caught in? The power levels are through the roof. This isn’t the sort of tractor you use to move fighters into hangars, this is a big industrial sucker you’d see on tugs meant for moving Destroyers.”
Closing his eyes, Teroch pinched his nose. He’d walked them straight into a trap with no escape whatsoever. After a moment, he opened them and looked around the bridge, meeting each of his crew’s gaze evenly. “I don’t know about you, but I’d rather die standing, than try to live on my knees. They may have caught the Hawk, but we’re still free. Ingress points are the hangar and that door right there.” He said, punctuating his statement by pointing towards the cockpit, where the airlock was nestled alongside.
“Arm yourselves and take up defensive positions in the Hangar. I’ll hold the airlock.”
“Uhh, by yourself?” Arcia asked.
Teroch turned to face her, his face miraculously serious. “You’ve never seen me fight, have you?”
“Yeah, and you’ve never seen me let my superior try to be some martyr, and you’re not going to, either.”
Teroch snorted. “Commander, I gave you an order-”
“-And I told you where to stick it. Now, if you want me to leave this bridge, then you can kill me, because there’s no way in hell your skinny ass is moving me any other way.”
“She’s right, Ter. We’re with you to the end.” Maaks piped up, grinning madly.
“Agreed.” Kalon chimed in.
“No. Absolutely not-”
“Ner’vod, shut up. We’re not going anywhere, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.” Celahir remarked frankly.
“And why’s that?”
“Because they’re docking.” He said, pointing at the display which showed the Nighthawk being positioned alongside what looked to be an airlock. They’d be attached in moments.
The Adept’s eyes glittered like chips of black glass as he caught up his lightsaber and started walking towards the airlock’s outer door, a headman’s grin plastered across his face.
“Fine. You all want to die? Get ready. It’s going to be one wild night.”
Adam thumbed at the hilt of his lightsaber. The smoothed metal cylinder was slick with rain and sweat from his nervous palms as he marched towards the club doors. He heard Marrek confirm that additional Qel-Dromans were en-route, and his line of sight on the club interior; he’d be able to cover Adam throughout much of the main floor as he bought time for stronger members to (perhaps literally) turn the place upside-down. Of course, Adam wasn’t certain if he found the fact that his occasionally-trigger-happy master was constantly watching him through the scope of a high-powered rifle (which could kill with a single shot from kilometers away) to be a comfort or an additional stressor. He caught his breath and inhaled deeply to calm his nerves. He gave his thoughts to the Force as best he could, turning some to Sarna. Somewhat focused now, Adam flung the door open telekinetically.
Adam was disoriented by the sudden cold-to-hot change in lighting; the greyed-out exterior was a far cry from the spastic neon lightshow that played out before him inside Release. The whirling rainbows of lights reminded him of gyroscoping lightsaber blades, like the ones that would soon tear through the place within minutes. Colorful dancers (ranging from Twi’lek to Mirialan to human in race) dominated the attention of most of the patrons, many of the latter waiting for some Arconan pigs to shoot or stick. Adam was certainly beginning to look like he fit that bill as he strode towards a group of tables. He felt eyes on him; the patrons somehow knew what he was.
“This Sith is getting a little too good at training his troops. He’s got to go, and fast.” Adam thought to himself. He estimated he had another twenty or thirty seconds before his game was up and House Qel-Droma would have to ruin a perfectly good club. Adam saw an opportunity to avoid at least some collateral damage as a lithe Mirialan dancer of a curious light yellow pigmentation slithered off one of the tables and sidled up to him.
“You look lonesome, sweetie,” she said in a seductive, though noticeably rehearsed lilt. “you want a little company?”
“Oh, don’t worry about me, my friends are on the way,” Adam smoothly replied, then flashed a couple hundred credits at her. “A little something for you and your coworkers, long as you get yourselves out of here now. My friends are hard partiers.” His suave smirk changed to a glare of warning. She took the hint and motioned to other dancers to plan on leaving soon. Adam sat down at an empty table, and it wasn’t long before other patrons approached, with evident menace. A Trandoshan placed his scaly hands on the table with some force; Adam guessed that dancer was this brute’s favorite.
Rather than risk the patrons getting the drop on him, Adam skipped pleasantries and threw them and the table across the room. They rolled into crumpled heaps as the table sailed through through the air onto the dance floor. He sensed an attack coming from behind; sure enough, a human was rushing him with a vibroknife. Adam deftly sidestepped the attack, grabbing the man’s wrist and slamming it on another table, knocking the blade from his grasp. Brave, but mostly stupid, the man wildly swung his arms at Adam, who grabbed one and snapped it at the elbow, turning him towards the window as a blaster bolt ripped into the man’s chest.
He felt an object hurtling through the air towards his head; Adam turned to telekinetically catch an incoming chair, and smashed it to pieces above him. Adam caught one of the legs of the chair and effortlessly closed the distance to his assailant, jabbing the blunt end of his weapon into the stomach of his foe, then knocking him over the head to the ground as he doubled over. Windows continued to shatter as Marrek’s covering fire took down a number of would-be assailants that passed too close to them. The body count piled up.
Three more assailants out of Marrek’s line of sight accosted Adam, this time armed with blasters. Adam sensed that he had mere seconds before they drew an effective bead on him; he reached into a belt pouch, hurling a dozen ball bearings into the air before him, and telekinetically accelerated them. They ripped into the men, stunning them as Adam turned to pull his DH-17 and took down all three with deftly placed bolts. As they dropped to the floor, Adam turned to scan the ruined nightclub. In mere minutes it had been torn asunder, with shattered glass and furniture strewn about, the bar devastated, and most of the light displays sparking and malfunctioning sporadically. “Qel-Dromans certainly know how to crash a party.” Adam mentally mused.
He had no idea how much of an understatement that was. He looked out ruined windows to see an unusual sight; a transport hurtling into the front entrance. It didn’t take him long to move out of the way as it slammed into the stairs and skidded to a halt through the front door of the nightclub. One black streak burst out, with streams of blue cutting apart several soldiers in the room. Kanis had arrived, and he brought the cavalry. A red blur streaked past Adam and buried itself in the chest of another insurrectionist, and flew back to Ernordeth’s hand. In the smoke from the crash, a single blue dot bobbed back and forth, followed by the snap-hiss of a lightsaber igniting and a yellow glow illuminating the dust; Valtiere’s towering cybernetic profile revealed itself. Marrek and Adi had also caught up, passing through the ruined entryway of the club. Even better, in the center of the room, an elevator door slid open to reveal a green Twi’lek; Espada had arrived to inspect the commotion downstairs. She had no idea how grave a mistake she’d just made in revealing herself.
Del’Abbot Estate, Hapes
Splinters and smoldering embers shot around all sides of the flipped table as it was pelted with blaster fire. Socorra remained rooted to the ground as she laid down cover fire for her companions, her lips pursed in concentration and resolve.
“They’re safe,” Marick announced from below.
The woman dropped to the floor like a lead weight, narrowly missing a crimson bolt flying over her head. Her back went up against the table and she held her pistols ready at her sides. Sweat was beginning to bead and roll down her tanned features. She hadn't come away unscathed, as evidenced by the scorch marks across her Invicta robe’s breastplate, as well as the burns to the exposed side of her torso. The pain was immense but was barely hinted at in her visage.
“Your turn,” she said, inhaling quickly to get her breath back. “They’re moving in, I’ll cover you.”
“No,” Marick growled. “I’ll cover you.” The Hapan unclipped his lightsaber to make a point.
Socorra shook her head. “Nope. Not leavin’ you. Besides--”
“This is my fault, my mess. I’ll take care of it--”
“Without the Force, they’ll shoot us both down with those rifles before we get halfway across the room--”
Marick sprang to his feet and brandished his sapphire lightsaber blade. “Go!”
“No!” she bellowed back in defiance with more than equal force, her voice tinged with pain and anger, nostrils nearly flaring. “Not while you’re still the Consul!”
Socorra suddenly spun around on one knee and aimed her pistols at the ceiling.
Pop! Pop pop!
One by one the dining room chandelier lights winked out before crashing to the floor, their precious and delicate crystals shattering over tables and chairs. The hall’s occupants scattered and shouted, some in pain, but most in panic.
“I can’t see anything!” Marick snapped at Socorra’s side.
“Good. It means they can’t either,” she hissed back and pushed him forward as she stood up, the dim wall atmospheric light panels guiding her. “Atty told me about your battle. You’ll be fine.”
Marick extinguished his lightsaber, withholding a massive scowl and lecture, and instead ducked his head and moved forward as Socorra pushed him from behind. Blaster bolts wildly flared around the room as the guards scrambled to find the exits and get into the light. Screams erupted as they tagged each other with friendly fire and tripped or ran into furniture and fell on sharp shards of crystals as well as their comrades downed from the chandeliers. The Mandalorian woman and the assassin both weaved their way in the dim light towards the less occupied back exit.
Both tanned arms raised straight out from her sides, and a single blaster shot each pelted two guards in the head, though slightly more off-center in the dark than Socorra had anticipated. Suddenly, the exit door burst open, bright light blossoming too soon in the Arconans’ eyes to focus in time. Socorra roughly grabbed Marick by the waist and twisted to swing her body around to face the doorway, her forearm veins throbbing from the death grip on her pistol as she continuously pulled the trigger...
...but nothing happened. The blaster had run empty, and the woman had not enough time to blink, let alone react, as the enemy weapons fired, striking her several times. His eyes adjusted enough, Marick swung back around under his charge’s extended arm and moved. His body carried him with such natural alacrity the contingent could not have possibly been prepared. His sapphire blade plunged into a gullet just as it flared into existence. The door shut behind him, leaving him alone, but his focus was centered squarely on the guards rushing forward. Even without the Force, Marick was more than capable of dispatching them without so much as a tear in his pristine robes.
Del’Abbot Estate, Hapes
Socorra had been in pain many, many times before. Her scars attested to it, represented her efforts, her failures and victories, like badges, more honorable than all her medals. She’d been beaten, bludgeoned, and burned more times than she could easily count. She knew pain.
The frakked part was that familiarity never made anything hurt less.
The Battlelord tottered on her feet, sagging to her knees in the dim darkness with a soft groan. Just for a second, she commanded her body, even though her limbs weren’t nearly as tenacious as her bold spirit. Her white-knuckled grip on her blasters faltered, and she conceded to releasing one weapon in favor of pressing a hand to her seriously injured side. Even with her fingers spread out, she couldn’t cover all the wounds. Her muscles gasped in agony--
Her battle-tested instincts screamed much louder though, even without the Force to aid them, and she lurched back to her feet just as a finely-manicured hand tangled viciously and blindly in her hair. Plush lips hovered close to her ear, birthing velvet-knife whispers made of ice and anger and insulted pride.
“Wretched beast!” Erin snarled, saccharinely accented, against her scarred cheek. The Soccoran moved to twist her body expertly and break free, but her bones did not cooperate. She only succeeded in wrenching herself aside, causing Erin’s viperous nails to dig into Socorra’s scalp, trailing bloody grooves and reaping small clumps of hair like chaff. “Abominable, putrid amalgamation! By my mother and my mother’s mothers and myself I shall not stand you pretend a moment longer, you fraughtful whore.”
One of the younger Lady Del’Abbot’s hands groped her waist for her lightsaber, fiddling blindly and somehow activating it without managing to kill them both. The Hapan struggled to keep any semblance of a hold on the Force-user’s weapon until two guards bumbled over to the dim light source and took it from her, holding it between them. Erin beckoned them to hold it close, its pinkish glow illuminating her gorgeous features with demonic shadows. More underlings bound the Sith’s wrists with shreds of the tablecloth.
“You are not fit to appear as I, as any we women, churl.” The Hapan hissed, producing one of the fine, long-pronged dinner forks from somewhere on her person that Socorra could not make out. “No longer. Never again shall we suffer so. Never again will you make us weak.”
Then Erin crudely raised the pale utensil and rammed it into Socorra’s left eye, not deep enough to kill, but to maim. She twisted her makeshift weapon and yanked, the ocular organ ripping free with a sickening squelch and a spray of blood.
Socorra didn’t scream, not aloud. She was too experienced with pain for that.
But she did know agony.
Just as the last golden-haired sentinel fell, the Consul recognized the forms and voices of his Clan members down the hall, Atyiru shouting in the distance as more guards closed in on their position. The door behind him opened, and two female forms emerged from the dining hall, one dragging the other. Guards spilled through behind them and stepped over bodies to form a haphazard formation around the women.
“I am certain this hideous beast wallows with you.” Erin decreed cruelly, mania in her ice eyes, smirking as she kicked Socorra to her knees. The Aretan dropped with a painful huff, barely able to keep herself upright. Blaster-burns marred her robes, armor, and flesh, and makeshift binders kept her from retaliating. A scowl lit her features, her ruby lips curled into a vicious snarl.
“For the love of all that’s still holy, kill this bitch already!” Socorra shrieked, one pale azure eye daring Marick to listen, the other a grisly, sad sign of what had transpired inside. Without warning, the Hapan female’s hand sliced through the air and her pistol collided with the Aretan’s face with a sickening crack, sending her sprawling to the floor.
Erin sneered. “Drop your weapons and call off your animals. You’re surrounded…little brother.”
Marick Arconae, encircled by the dead, righteous aquamarine blade held at his side, inhaled a furious breath through iron-clenched teeth.
And this time, the Force came with it.
“Naradas report to the Hangar, ensure you and your forces are prepared to defend the crew’s escape if necessary. Remember people, we just got everything working, try not to break it.” Teroch’s orders came across nonchalant. The youth abandoned the worry of what may come and instead set his focus to the task at hand whilst unholstering and checking his blaster.
Naradas stepped away and began moving towards the turbolift. Passing each of his fellow officers, he stopped beside the comm station. The human security chief smiled an almost wicked grin “Mrs. Voth, you are to report to the Hangar alongside our security forces. Also, while not the time, we will be addressing your lack of proper uniform.” The Iridonian woman’s glare in return brought about another smile from Naradas as they boarded the lift.
Every member of the crew moved to take up positions, Kalon stepped away from the helm, moving to the end of the short corridor into the cockpit. The Mandalorian donned his helmet before unhooking the saber at his waist and standing guard.
Maaks stepped away finding a position away from the line of fire that would come from the Airlock soon enough. The Miraluka focused on his allies. He had fought alongside Teroch before, yet the others were unfamiliar with his particular skill in battle Reaching out through the Force, every member of the crew felt his presence as his practiced form of battle meditation took hold throughout the bridge. The panic that had been building before the coming confrontation disappeared as he watched the crew’s emotions calm.
Teroch stepped forward a moment before a red bulge appeared on the Airlock door, the superheated metal being seared apart as a saber began cutting its way through the durasteel frame. Arcia took position to Teroch’s five and closed her eyes momentarily “They’re trying to block my senses, I would hazard at least a half-dozen outside the door directly, maybe more coming.” She raised her blasters and took cover.
“Sir… you should get down.” Arcia glanced up at her Captain.
“Let me take care of that.” Teroch challenged, his gaze flickering across the bridge as their communications officer disappeared. Bending the Force around him, the Assassin was nearly invisible. Should the bridge be taken, Uji would act.
The Airlock’s seal broke, the momentary change of pressure the only sound before Teroch moved. In a single blur his off hand come up as he gathered the Force momentarily before sending a telekinetic shove into the frame, knocking aside several of the boarding party. An exchange began the moment the battle started, a flurry of blaster fire from Teroch and Arcia poured into the airlock only to be returned as the bolts were often reflected back towards them. The Captain’s reflexes allowed him to avoid the return fire, his frustration building..
Finally, six of the Millinar natives stood shoulder to shoulder creating a barrier between Teroch and Arcia’s fire. Teroch danced aside another bolt stopping when he realized the intruders hadn’t moved further into the ship.
“Captain, I’d like to speak to you” A delicate voice spoke from behind the intruders in broken basic. Each of the hermaphroditic soldiers appeared nearly identical in height, the soldiers sheathed their sabers as the fighting drew to a hesitant end. Standing slightly taller than the average human males, long floor length robes covered the Force Sensitive’s bodies. They stood close enough to block sight of who spoke.
“Oh yeah? how about knocking before barging in, you pricks?” Teroch growled as the two central guardians stepped aside to allow the speaker to be seen. Older by far then the others, this one wore something resembling more political vestments then military.
“You’ve intruded where you are unwanted, Human. You sent your Brother and his soldiers to invade our world. You don’t belong to the consortium, and you are unwelcome. However, we do not wish to continue fighting. What is your reason for invading consortium space and seeking out Millinar?”
“We discovered a use for the Blood cups native only to your planet. We expected to land get what we needed, and get out. There is no Invasion force”
“And what do you need them for exactly that would make you so foolishly travel into consortium space and find yourselves here with your forces surrounded, and your ship moments from being torn apart?”
Turbolift enroute to Hangar
“I didn't think you would be so concerned with my state of dress.” Nath's voice was icily quiet.
“You can dress as you like while you're off ship, but when you are aboard the Nighthawk, you report to me.” Naradas replied, his hands clasped behind him as he watched the turbolift floor indicator. “And my people, you included, will wear the proper uniform when on duty.”
Naradas' gaze flicked over to the silent Iridonian, noting the impassive stare of Nath's obsidian eyes as she gazed back at him, her face as carefully blank as ever. He smiled slightly before continuing on. “You should know, however, that I instructed Elim to recall my agents.”
“What?” The word escaped from Nath before she could stop herself, and Naradas' smile widened at the unintentional display of surprise.
“I've been considering the matter for some time, and I've decided that you don't need to be trailed anymore. When we return home, my agents will be recalled and reassigned.”
Naradas now openly glanced over at Nath, her eyes widened slightly in surprise, but otherwise as expressionless as ever.
“When we arrive at the hangar, coordinate with one of the sergeants covering one side of the hangar, I will handle the other.” Naradas continued on as the turbolift began to slow to a stop. “If the enemy boards through the hangar bay, we will catch them in a crossfire.”
The turbolift door whisked open and the two individuals stepped out. Naradas turned toward Nath, pausing.
“Do not make me regret recalling those agents.” He said simply before striding over to talk with his officers to plan out the defense, leaving Nath behind.
Teroch swallowed. This was going to be the tricky part. “My Father came here. He left with a breeding pair of Cythrauls. They have become ill and using the blood cup is the only way to synthesize a cure.”
It could go either way. Either they’d not care that some semi-sentient canines were taken from their planet, or they’d be furious and kill them on the spot. The whole operation came to the toss of a coin.
The non-human before him tilted its head to the right slightly, its eyes narrowing in recognition. “You are the progeny of Sashar? Yes, we remember him. Our apologies. We did not recognise the resemblance. Your species is so unfamiliar.”
Teroch forced down the urge to groan. Of course his father would've made super best friends with the hermaphroditic gatekeepers of the mythical planet of the impenetrable Hapes cluster. His legend just got that little bit bigger, and that little bit harder to surpass.
“Will you allow us to leave?” he asked.
The Force user before him inclined its head, offering a faint smile. “Go with peace, Son of Sashar. And remember that it is not you who picks the Cythraul, but a meeting of both minds. You choose one another for life. I see that you and yours chose wisely.”
They filed from the bridge of the Nighthawk serenely, stepping delicately over the wreckage of what had been the outer airlock door. Teroch slumped against a bulkhead, tension fleeing his body in a rush.
“Seal the inner airlock door. Stand down from general quarters. Contact my brother and tell him to get his ass back to the ship with a few samples of this di’kutla flower. We need to get back to Marick before he puts his elbow in the butter at dinner and causes a diplomatic incident with mother. Oh, and someone find me Andrelious’ liquor. I need a drink.” he said, rubbing his eyes with the balls of his palms.
Obligingly, Arcia produced a hip-flask from inside her tunic and handed it to the youth.
He opened his eyes, then broke into a huge grin. “I shab’la knew you weren't that uptight!”
A young Marick, barely pushing ten-years of age, struggled against his handlers. Two large eunuchs with burly arms held the scrawny boy in place.
“Stop Erin, please, don’t!” he cried out as she took the knife to his hair and unceremoniously sawed it off.
His older sister slapped him across the face, hard. He whimpered and tried to thrash but was powerless to do anything.
“You’re just a worthless bastard, so you get a bastards haircut,” she said with an sadistic grin. “A pity, it is such lovely hair,” she said as she stroked it affectionately. Marick softened, thinking that she would stop, but of course she did not. Nothing was ever true with his sister, but everything seemed permitted to her.
A light flickered overhead. Marick stood surrounded by the members of his “families” royal guard. Anger coursed through his veins and threatened to tip him over the edge into a bloodlust and fury. Marick did not snap, however. There was no sudden revelation, no levy broken or hidden power unleashed. That moment had come long ago, an insignificant milestone in the grand scheme of his life, but one that had changed him forever.
At age fifteen, Marick was taller, but still lanky and far from grown into his body. His hair still looked to be ratty, uneven, and short. He would be handsome one day, but still had a baby face that made him look even younger.
Marick’s left eye was swollen and blackened, his hands bound behind his back with thick rope. He was on his knees. In front of him was a girl, no older than he. Her name was Jennie. She had been one of the few women of his mothers court who had shown him any kindness. He thought she was special, and despite being forbidden from seeing her, the two had met in secret. She was of a lesser family, but by nature of being female she was still higher on the ladder than Marick. There was nothing lower than a bastard. They talked of escaping the estate together, thought about their futures together and how everything would be alright. How foolish he had been to think he was allowed to be happy.
Jennie shrieked as her dress was torn open. She was only a few meters away from Marick, who's shoulders where held down by a pair of his sisters friends, women grown and future members of the Royal Guard just like Erin.
"You thought I wouldn't know about this harlot? " Erin Del'Abbots voice asked. She sat in a plush chair off the side, tapping her fingers against her chin. "You should know better, little Rikki." She said, using the nickname she had come up for him. It was an ironic twist on his inferior gender.
"Please, just leave her alone. I'll do anything you want Erin, please!" Marick pleaded. It earned him a hard slap that jerked his head sharply to the side. His lip trickled blood.
Two large men forced Jennie onto her hands and knees like a dog. They were both soldiers, well bred males who had been domesticated like dogs to obey the will of the Del'Abbot women. They both unbuckled their trousers and let them drop to their ankles. Jennie's eyes widened in horror. She tried to scream, but felt something force itself into her mouth at the same time as something pressed into her from behind. Blood poured freely down her thighs as she whimpered and tried to resist. Anytime she did she received a powerful slap to her face. Her eye became swollen and her body became a toy for the two men who did their duty like animals.
Marick cried out and yelled as loud as he could. He thrashed and whipped his lithe body around. He had to do something, but he was helpless. He tried to look away but earned a slap when ever he did. One of the women even held his chin in place to make sure he watched.
Eventually Jennie stopped fighting. Like a fish on a line her body went limp, the two men having at her until they were satisfied she had lost all her fight. They left her a mess of excrement, blood, and other bodily fluids. All the while, Erin watched, a sadistic grin ever painted on her lips. There was nothing more embarrassing for a Hapan female. The girl would be ruined for life.
Tears rolled down Marick's face. He wanted to break in half. He wanted to lash out with all the strength of the universe and kill them all. But he was powerless.
And then he was down on his knees. One of his sisters followers that had been detaining him moved in front of him, her hips level with his face. Marick looked up, and saw her grinning. The second women yanked his head back by the hair and he yelped.
"Open wide, Rikki," she said in a sultry voice as she pulled her dress up and gave the inferior little boy a golden drink.
It would be hours before Marick was allowed to crawl back to his little closet of a room. He tried to cry himself to sleep, but he had long since used up his reservoir of tears. He curled himself into a tight ball, shut his eyes, and tried to simply think of nothing.
Marick had been too weak. It had taken him almost two more years before he truly snapped. That's when everything had changed, and his affinity for the Force had been discovered. His key to salvation...his way out. And yet Maricks’ suffering was irrelevant. He had swore an oath to himself to never again be helpless. He would find power, seize it, and use it to protect himself and the ones he cared for. All that was left was a man. A man who had given his life for his Clan, his true family. Nothing else had mattered.
The Hapan looked over at Socorra laying helpless on the floor, beaten and battered. He had not seen her that bad since Timeros had done a number on her, and could still remember the chill he felt facing his master at the conclusion of that fight. This was worse, though. She had gotten hurt trying to protect him. He, who had cast her aside and not been able to give her what she longed for.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
The Force flowed freely through his body. And then Marick vanished, like a ghost in the night.
“Don’t be fooled by his parlor tricks! Get him!” Erin Del’Abbot yelled, her eyes straining against the now dim lighting of the room.
The first scream happened from her right. Serrah, one of her oldest friends and Lieutenants, shrieked before her head rolled towards Erin’s feet, her body toppling bonelessly to the floor. For a second, she saw the outline of her little brother and fired a volley of blaster bolts in his direction. He was already moving, blending into the shadows and disappearing yet again only to reappear behind another one of her Lieutenants, Shira. Erin cried out but it was too late. Marick’s saber punctured neatly through the woman’s lungs, quick as a space-viper. Blaster fire rang out, but again the bastard child was gone again, the dim lighting of the room enhancing the Force that shrouded his movements.
This time, Erin was able to track a ripple in the air and unloaded an entire clip from her blaster. Too late did she realize that she had missed her target, and instead was rewarded with another cry from one of her soldiers.
Erin spun, but helpless pleas and cries of terror created a haunting cacophony all around the chamber. How could her little, worthless brat of a Brother be doing this. It was impossible. He was just a worthless bastard. She was a pure blooded Del’Abbot, bred from the Galaxy’s most talented leaders. And yet she was helpless, her women dying all around her.
Eventually she stood alone, panting, retreating cautiously towards a corner, her blaster panning left and right frantically. Silence permeated the room. And then he appeared.
He stalked towards her, unblinking, his eyes burning with an ethereal fire. Surely she was imagining things..this was all just some form of illusion...a trick! She aimed her blaster at Marick and depressed the trigger. Each bolt met aquamarine light, crimson dashes deflecting harmlessly to the sides. She kept firing, but he kept getting closer and closer. Her clip emptied and she threw her blaster to the ground and drew a shiv from her wrist and dropped into a crouch.
“Come on then, little brother. I’m not afraid of you!” She yelled, her disheveled hair falling into her face. She lunged forward and slashed out across Marick’s neck, but the Primarch simply leaned away from the blades edge, dodging it effortlessly. He took a quick step, impossibly quick, and came up beside her guard, one hand gripping her long hair while the other worked his lightsaber like a sheer. Burnt hair stung her nostrils as she screamed.
And then she felt something cold and slender puncture her throat. The blade was slender, honed to a fine point like a stiletto. She hadn’t even seen her brother draw it, but her eyes followed it to his wrist.
Marick said nothing. There were no final words, no taunting. He just watched her dying. Unblinking. Cold. Sudden guilt flashed over her face as realization dawned. I helped create this...
And then the lights went out and her world went dark.
Angelica Del’Abbot was alone in her bedchamber. She poured herself a glass of fine wine, sniffing the drink and swirling it idly.
She heard the door to her chambers open. No doubt Erin had come to report her meddlesome son dead, and a Bothan Assault Cruiser secured for their fleet. The ship would no doubt give her the edge she needed over some of the other Consortium members. She smiled and turned to greet her daughter.
The glass in her hand dropped, shattering against the marble floor. Both guards at her door lay lifeless on the floor. She hadn’t even heard them die, and would not have known the intruder had entered the room unless he had purposely announced himself...
She turned and came face to face with her bastard son. His crystal blue eyes mirrored hers perfectly, but that dark hair and strong jawline were all his fathers. A mixture of anger and remorse flooded her as she swallowed and steeled herself. If Marick was here, it meant that Erin had failed.
“How dare you,” she said in a wounded, haughty voice.
Marick simply stared at his mother with cold eyes. His face was a perfect mask, revealing nothing.
“I should have killed you when I had the chance. Do you have any idea what I went through to keep you? The mockery I suffered at the others? I had allowed myself to be “seduced” by a Jedi. Hah! The fools. Jedwin Tyris was my play. And look at what it gave me. You truly are something!” Angelica reached out to touch her son's cheek, caressing it as only a mother could.
“And now you’ve come back to me...and together we can rule the Hapes Cluster-”
She felt something prick her skin. She looked down and saw a tiny needle jab into her ribs. She staggered back a step, and felt her vision blur. Her mouth opened aghast as she strared dumbly at her son.
“What have you done?”
“You can come in, Emi,” Marick said softly.
A slender woman with long golden hair, crystal blue eyes, and elfin features walked gracefully into the room. While only seventeen, she had the body of a woman, the mind of a veteran politician, and the a good natured smile that somehow perfectly mirror her genuine sincerity and compassion.
“It has been a long time, little sister,” Marick continued.
Angelica froze in place. She couldn’t move her muscles. Poison..it had to be poison, kark it!
“Likewise, brother,” she said with a smile and a courtesy. Even when they were younger, Emily had been the true sister to Marick. She was the one who helped dress his wounds in private, and had talked with him and gave him his only moments of sanity in the rare times they were able to hang out together without being yelled at by Erin.
“You were wrong to turn down his offer, mother,” Emily spoke calmly, stepping beside her brother. His face remained a stoic mask, but his posture slackened just so slightly. “I knew you would, though. And I knew that Marick was coming, and that this would be a great opportunity that would only benefit our House in the long run.”
Emily’s face hardened. “We are all products of our upbringings, mother.”
She turned to her brother, looking him over. She tried her best to smile, but saw that he had truly changed. “I’m sorry this was not under better circumstances. I will distract the council long enough with my take over of the Del’Abbot estate and make sure you can at least get out of the system before they realize what happened.”
Marick nodded and glanced back at his mother one last time. “Make sure she lives to see it happen, Emily,” Marick finally spoke. “Thank you,” he said with a slight bow of his head. She smiled at him, but he was already gone, walking away from a past he’d worked so hard to avoid. And yet, as Emily had said, he was product of his upbringing.
Only that, and nothing more.
“So, we’re not all going to die, be sold into slavery, and/or hung by our entrails by an primitive culture of savages?” Uji turned to address Teroch as he stepped back onto the bridge.
“Nope,” The Captain replied easily, taking a quick-swig out of the flask his XO had procured for him.
“Do...I want to know how?”
“I’m just that good,” Teroch replied, a grin stretching from ear to ear. “We have more than enough blood cups to save Kote and the others. Now we just need the lab geeks to uphold their part of the bargain, and hope that the others made it back in one piece.”
The crew of the Nighthawk that stood on the bridge nodded, a noticeable weight dropping from each of their shoulders. Teroch drank in the sense of accomplishment as glory-spren danced around his body. With a sidelong glance to Arcia, the Captain gave her a knowing nod. The Commander saluted, straightened her posture, and turned towards Kalon Entar.
“Yes sir-I mean ma’am?” The hulking Mandalorian replied, half-swiveling his piloting chair around and craning his neck the rest of the way to look at her.
“Take us home,” she said with a tight smile.
Kalon spun his chair back and let his fingers dance over the controls, moving as much on reflex as by intuition.
The permeating blackness of space gave way to a stream of white dashes, the ship lurching into Hyperspace and winking out of existence to leave the shrouded planet of Millinar to its own devices.