Contract 003 - Sashar Erinos Arconae
Marick sighed and rubbed his eyes, irritation seeping through his pores as he prepared to tackle yet another batch of paperwork.
Give me anything to distract me, please just something to get my mind off this work for a second or so.
As if answering the unspoken prayer, a knock at the door sounded and a man walked into Marick’s office without even waiting for a reply. Normally, the Hapan would have said something, but he made an exception as he always did for Sashar Erinos, one of his closest friends and one of Arcona’s greatest.
“I want another contract, but make it a bit less cloak and daggers this time. I want a challenge, so give me what you got.”
Marick barely tried to hide a tired smile as he searched through the papers and pads that littered his desk, looking for a specific one that he felt might pique the Elder’s interest. Finding the desired data pad, he chucked it over towards the Adept who deftly caught it and opened it, already scanning it’s contents as Marick spoke.
“There you go, difficult enough for you? Now if you don’t mind, I have paperwork to do.”
Target: Zefran Adelai
The word ‘ruthless’ seems to be a rather weak way of describing just how vicious this man can be. He used to be a member of the Brotherhood but left before he rose too high up the ranks, making his way to some backwater planet in the Outer Rim which he eventually took over and then tastefully named after himself. Referred to simply as “Zefran’s Paradiso”, we have a sneaking suspicion that he managed to rise up and take over the planet so quickly because he stole from the Brotherhood before he left and used what he stole to gain power quickly, possibly shattering his mind and sanity in the process.
Said to have a palace in the centre of the largest and only real city on the planet, he rarely leaves and has grown quite paranoid, so be prepared to have to go to him, rather than catching him elsewhere. The palace is heavily guarded, although he seems to prefer guards who can’t think to those who can, again a likely by-product of his paranoia.
Your mission is fairly simple. Kill him, we don’t mind how as he won’t be too easy to take down anyway. If you can find what he stole from the Brotherhood and retrieve it, it could be useful for Arcona in the future but don’t sweat it if you can’t, it’s a bonus objective only.
Height: Roughly 5’10
Body Type: Muscular
Manipulation: ** (2/5)
Unarmed: ***** (5/5)
Melee: **** (4/5)
Ranged: ** (2/5)
Lightsaber: ***** (5/5)
Force skill: ***** (5/5)
Sashar scanned the information and grinned, knowing that if nothing else this contract would be interesting.
“I’ll bring you his head, don’t worry.”
Marick pulled a face that almost set the Elder laughing as the Erinos turned to leave. Marick’s voice caught up with him as he opened the door, ready to head out.
“Please don’t, rotting head is hardly a good decoration for my office. Good luck.”
“Someone’s compensating…” Sashar’s lip quirked as he stared up at the massive tower hill overlooking the City of Paradiso (clearly the megalomaniac’s nomenclature left something to be desired in regards to its imagination).
In the Shadesworn’s opinion, the entire planet was definitely not a paradise of any kind. He’d smuggled himself aboard a slave ship refitted to transport livestock such as nerfs, and had made it to the surface without being detected, however, deciding his Mandalorian Armour was a little too conspicuous, he’d simply thrown on his old grey cloak and robes (making sure to keep his lightsabers hidden), and emerged into the city.
A massive industrial complex that seemed to be full of large towers, gaudy lights and drab grey surfaces, Paradiso wasn’t helped by the fact that it seemed to be perpetually raining. Almost all of the people Sashar had seen were similarly adorned with long, dull-coloured cloaks. Whilst there was a diversity of species amongst the denizens, there was a furtive, almost fearful atmosphere. After wandering aimlessly for around an hour, hoping the force would give him some direction. Unfortunately, the force seemed to be a close-lipped mysterious bitch.
He stopped in on a small food restaurant that opened directly onto one of the many winding streets, smelling the savoury aroma of freshly-baked dumplings. He sat down at the table, pulled down his hood and tried to shake the moisture from his fringe as he waited for a aging lady to make her way to his seat.
“You’re not from around here, are you?” She smiled, looking at him as one would a favoured child. He instantly warmed to her.
“Am I that obvious?” He was pleased that he was still able to blush on cue – a rare trait among mandalorians.
“Your cloak isn’t waterproof. You’ll be soaked through in minutes!”
“Yeah, I noticed. I’m going to have to get a new one while I’m here conducting my research.”
“Oooh, what research are you doing?” She asked, sitting down opposite him.
“I’m a reporter. I work for NewsNet. The galactic food section, actually. We’ve had a tip that this is the place to go if you want the best dumplings this side of the Hydian Way.”
At this she burst out laughing and slapped him none-too-gently on the arm and pretended to wipe a tear from her eye.
“No, I’m serious!” he replied, rubbing the spot she’d just hit him as if massaging a bruise away. “One of our scouts came back the other month raving about them. Well, I just had to taste them for myself. I’m a big fan of home cooking.”
“Well, we’ll have to make sure you get comfortable then, won’t we? What can I get you?”
“Let’s have some of the dumplings aaaaand… What’ve you got on tap?”
“We’ve got a passable Corellian Spiced Ale, if that tickles your fancy.”
“Sounds good to me. Hey, what’s that?” He asked pointing at a white ornament hanging in the doorway, seemingly made of paper.
“That? Ohhhhh, that’s nothing.” She said, not meeting his eyes as she struggled to get up.
“C’mon, it won’t go in my report. I try to get a feel of the local culture when I’m sampling the cuisine. It helps me get a better feel.”
She frowned, looked about, then leant over, her back cracking audibly.
“It’s a totem of the angel. We keep them about in homage to the Angel, who acts as…his agent. They protect us.”
“What, are they like police units?” He asked, already knowing the answer.
“He’s our Lord. Don’t talk about him. He has agents everywhere.” She chastised.
Sashar smirked, knowing he was closing in on his target. Any extra info could be useful. “What? He’s gonna have me taken away and shot for mentioning him?” He scoffed, hoping to come across as an ignorant traveller.
“Up until about seven years ago, this planet was a smuggler’s outpost.Lots of them came in and out of here. Most of the pipes are either part of the refuelling system, the cargo loading and unloading system, or old storage silos. Then…he came. He killed all of them. He then systematically hunted down everyone who’d heard of the planet and killed them too. It was a bloodbath. He purged every single possible threat to us, then re-established the community as a utopia. He’s never lost a fight.”
Sashar raised his eyebrows in surprise. “He sounds fascinating. How does one seek an audience with him?”
The old woman chuckled a bit, then made a small hand-sign across her chest and looked him in the eye. “Nobody sees him. His angel is his voice. The Angel speaks to us, and we do as we’re directed. He is like a God to us and we love him.”
Deciding that he’d trodden on delicate ground, he resumed his line of questioning about the food whilst she prepared it for him, and he had to admit the dunplings were good. He left with the recipe.
He found a small hotel later that evening and set up shop in the small room overlooking a square. Nobody stopped to talk to one another outside, and the air of desperation seemed to intensify the closer night came. After hearing the story of the ‘God and Angel’ from Ellysandra, he started noticing the paper ‘angels’ hanging in nearly every doorway, as if to ward him off.
”No way will this guy show his face in public. I’m going to need to go to him. The population seem pretty loyal, so not a chance of staging a revolt. He’s probably in that tower, but the security’s pretty tight. I wonder if he’s got an ego…
Sashar mulled over his plans as he grabbed a quick shower, then, as he was getting dressed, he glanced out of his window. He froze mid-way through pulling up his pants.
There were half a dozen armoured beings in pure white. Every single facet of them was covered, and from the configuration of their breath masks, he surmised that they were Ubese. Standing in the middle, gathering a crowd with his raised voice, was a vision from Sashar’s past.
Long curled blonde hair, like a doll’s. A frilly ancient jacket with a high collar, gold trimming and a set of heavy metal gauntlets. Hanging from his belt; a lightsaber.
“Illian Syn.” Sashar murmured, his own eyes narrowing.
The dandified human smiled brilliantly as he soliloquised to the gathered crowd and gestured with his free hand. One of the white-armoured beings went back into the building across from the square and pulled out a bound and gagged rodian youth.
Sashar slid the window open a crack and reached for a blaster.
“…His vile base actions have sullied this planet, and our God will not stand for it anymore. For his crime of rape, he has been sentenced to death by flaying.”
”Oh shab. This is not going to be pretty.”
Indecision struck Sashar. He could probably save the rodian from his grizzly fate, but it would cost him the element of surprise. Why should he save a rapist, though? He hovered momentarily by the window, mulling the issue over before moving. He started to get dressed as the screaming rodian was tied down to a vertical bed on the wooden platform. When the screams intensified and Sashar’s former apprentice properly set to work on him, the Elder was only half ready.
It took nearly fifteen minutes for the rodian to finally die and more than a few of the onlookers were sick during the proceedings. When he finally breathed his last, Sashar pulled down his helmet, locked it on and activated the HUD. His grey cloak enshrouded him once more and he fully opened the window. He took aim at the group of clustered beings in white armour with his LJ-50 and squeezed the trigger.
The blue bolt of kinetic concussive energy sailed over the heads of the crowd and smashed into the podium, scattering any ubese it didn’t instantly flatten and kill. Illian’s head whipped around, his long blond hair catching in his momentum and he immediately sighted Sashar, silhouetted in the window.
“Master! Come to get me at long last?” He shouted over the chaos.
“Not you, Illian. Who’s at the other end of your leash now?” Sashar projected his voice across the square, knowing the insane torturer would hear him.
“Oh, he’d just love to meet you, Master.” Illian’s smile was lacking any sanity. His saber was clenched in an armoured hand, yet unactivated.
“Well, I’d hate to disappoint him. Why don’t you introduce us?” He replied, dropping down from the window ledge, letting the force slow his fall.
“Not before testing your resolve, Master.” Illian punctuated the sarcastic use of Sashar’s former honorific by stabbing the activator on his lightsaber, letting the yellow blade come to life and hiss against the ever-present rain.
“I thought you’d never ask.”
Illian let out a manic scream and charged across the square at his old master, his saber trailing a line through the ferrocrete floor and the puddles, one hand extended out in front of him as if to physically push the Mandalorian back.
Sashar fired off another burst from the Conk rifle, which was sent flying straight back at him. He redirected it away harmlessly into the sky and pulled his bes’bev from its holster slung over one shoulder and charged the weapon with the force, imbuing it with his life energy (albeit temporarily).
The yellow blade came swinging in and bounced musically off Sashar’s flute. Illian blinked in confusion as his old master bolstered his speed with the force and smashed the durasteel tube into his left kneecap, hobbling him. Rather than surrender ground or kneel at Sashar’s feet, he swung at the Obelisk’s thighs, only for his blade to rebound off the bes’bev once more.
The dandified human swore, his electric green eyes flashing in annoyance and his crazed state only seemed to intensify. He got up, ignoring the fact that his kneecap must’ve been in pieces and slashed as if to bisect Sashar from crotch to the crown of his head. A punch from the Mando’s free hand sent him flying back across the courtyard (such was its intensity in the force) before slamming against the far wall, cracking the stone. Illian coughed blood.
“It doesn’t matter how strong you are! I must have the blade! It’s mine! MINE!” He trailed off into a manic scream and threw his blade at Sashar, who caught it mid-air.
He looked over the glowing yellow blade and frowned. Illian had vanished. Stretching out into the Force, he detected no life-signs in the immediate vicinity, however Illian’s was impossible to pin down. The force didn’t mix well with clinical insanity.
He snatched the lightsaber from the air before him and clipped it to his belt, eager to trace the madness permeating the area back to its source. Unfortuantely, the sound of approaching speeders hastened his leaping back up to his room and quickly gathering his gear back together. He didn’t want to be around when reinforcements arrived.
The tallest tower in Paradiso was actually a method of expelling noxious gasses, originally. The designers had added a certain to flare to its design by making a huge ‘face’ the emitter of the fumes. The face protruded into the sky, facing in a southern direction, overlooking most of the city. Its tongue stuck out as if it were trying to touch the next tallest building, and the ‘skin’ of the face was painted a faded white. All about its perimeter, pipes seemed to attach themselves to the white sheet metal, giving the impression that the face was pushing its way through the overlapping industry of Paradiso. On the tongue, overlooking his city, sat Zefran Adelai. He was oblivious to the rain.
“So, who is it?” he asked without looking back into the mouth at Illian as he crashed into the chamber, breathless.
“My old master, Sashar Erinos. He’s a Mandalorian Grey Jedi. He’s very powerful.” He answered, bowing.
“He’ll be here soon. Stop him from entering the tower. Use the Ghost Cells as help. I’ll come down if needed.”
“How will you kn-“ Illian began, but stopped short when Zefran turned around and pinned him with a stare.
“I’ll know. Go.”
Strangely, the tower’s main entrance only had four of those white guards on it. They did seem alert, though.
Annoyed at the simplicity of it, he stretched out his feelings, through the murk of Illian’s madness that seemed to dowse the area, and pinpointed a further dozen alien minds at various vantage points all around the small courtyard that acted as a bailey to the tower. He took aim at the furthest pair with his Conk rifle and let loose blue hell.
It smacked into the stone wall and smashed through, scattering them both. Before the shock could register, he shifted his aim to the sniper pair nearly three hundred meters away on one of the smaller towers. Again, the shot lanced out, sailed through the rain and blasted the top few meters off the tower, sending the two snipers flailing into the sky, already dead.
By the time he’d fired his third shot, they’d pinpointed his position and an E-Web revealed itself in a window across the square. His position was instantly peppered. Sashar pulled back, not even bothering to watch the cluster of troops inside a truck struggle to get out before the landspeeder exploded and charged out of the room, slinging the rifle back over his shoulder. Instead, he pulled his T-6 Thunderer from its resting place at his left hip and opened up on the wooden door just as a pair of Ubese were coming through. The wood evaporated and sprayed shrapnel into their helmets, but the blaster bolt that hadn’t even lost a tenth of its strength passing through the door toasted the face of one Ubese then slammed through the neck of his colleague, taking his head off. They dropped to the floor, the pipes from their helmets hissing as they came loose. He stepped over the corpses and grabbed the burning landspeeder with the force, then lifted it up and hurled it at the E-Web’s position. Both the truck and the building it hit exploded brilliantly, knocking all the occupants of the courtyard off their feet.
“That’ll wake the neighbours.” He muttered to himself, shaking his head to remove the ringing. It didn’t work.
”Eight left. Four by the door, two on the rooftop, two in the lobby across the courtyard. Poor lads.”
He yanked his Rifle back over his shoulder and fired at the doors, obliterating them as well as the four guards stationed outside, who were still struggling to get their bearings. Another shot took the roof off the building opposite the tower, and a final shot into the ground floor where the last two members of the ambush squad were stationed collapsed the entire structure down upon them. Only then did Sashar’s hearing return.
The silence was unnerving.
“C’mon, Illian. Show yourself.” He called out, turning in a full circle, trying to spot his crazed former apprentice.
There was no sound of a gunshot, but a projectile round bounced off his helmet and knocked him to the floor, dazed. Another shot bounced off his chest-plate as he hit the floor and he instinctively curled up around the point of impact, winded. Bad move. Another shot lanced out, and this time hit skin, tearing through the back of his calf. He cried out in pain and reached into the ether, calling forth the Runt. The being came to be perched protectively over Sashar’s fallen form, its eyes scanning about the ruined, smoking courtyard for any sign of Illian. Another shot lanced out, passed through the Runt and stabbed into the ground. Its Ayumarka eyes focused on the Dark Jedi Knight’s position and it pushed off, launching itself at the nearest building. It hung to one side of the wall, then jumped again, landing on the roof of the building. It’s tongue lashed out and snagged the madman’s neck, yanking him from his sniper hole in one of the roof windows across the courtyard. He was dragged down two stories to the floor and landed heavily, struggling to breathe despite the constricting semi-ethereal rope about his neck.
He snarled in disgust at himself and fuelled his rage with the force, then blasted the Runt’s tongue with a powerful telekinetic strike, just in time to receive a punch to the face from Sashar that sent him back to the floor.
The Runt’s tongue lashed out again, grabbing Illian by the arm and yanked him up into a rough approximation of a standing position. Sashar’s knee came up and folded the madman’s body around it, then a hammerblow to the back of the head knocked him to the floor again, dazed.
He lifted Illian up with the force, then strode over and headbutted him in the chest, augmenting the strike with the force. Illian shot back through the crushed doors to the tower. Sashar stalked after him.
Illian was crawling into an ante-chamber when Sashar entered the tower. He followed him, keeping to a steady pace and stopped short when he looked about. Lining both walls of the square chamber were shelves filled with glass vials. In each of them were two eyes, presumably collected from the madman’s many kills. The shelves filled the walls to the ceiling from the floor, and each was meticulously labelled. Illian stopped as he reached a workbench-cum-operating table in the centre of the room and turned around to face his old master, his breath rapid and halting. The last headbutt must’ve cracked his sternum.
“Even if you kill me, you’ll fall to his blade! It’s unstobbable! It was meant to be mine! How dare you impede me?!”
The mandalorian sighed and lifted Illian up in a crushing force grip. He screamed in pain and as a last act of desperation, he flailed out telekinetically. Every single one of the jars on the shelves exploded fantastically, spraying both of them in nutrient fluid.
A blue line crossed over the Mandalorian’s visor, clearing it of liquid and he stepped over the corpse of his former apprentice without so much as a glance.
He felt the attack coming minutes before it actually struck. It wasn’t Zefran he could sense; but a permeating feel of dread filled the tower’s spiralling staircase – the only access to the top of the tower. Walking silently next to him, its head close to the floor as if sniffing, was the Hunter, whilst the Runt kept hidden in the shadows above him, crawling on the underside of the staircase.
It took him nearly fifteen minutes to reach the top of the tower, during which time the closer he got to the top the more the oppressive feeling of dread filled him, making him feel sick and like he had the beginnings of a headache. He considered both to be parlour tricks and tried his best to ignore them, however he was impressed that Zefran could manage to subvert his force defences so easily.
A large set of double doors awaited him. He gestured with his left hand and both of the doors were blasted off their hinges by a telekinetic strike. Without breaking his stride, he entered what appeared to be a throne room. The chamber was large, lined with pillars along each wall, and behind a deceptively simple throne the back wall seemed to open out to the elements. Rain soaked the curtains that flanked the opening, and water seemed to line the floor of the entire room. Sitting lazily on the throne with one leg draped over the arm of the stone chair was his target.
The Force filled Sashar like a conflagaration. His speed reached the speed of masters, his reactions honed to make a cat’s look sluggish, and he darted forward, drawing his saber-staff in the process. At five meters from his target, he activated one end of the staff at three meters, and then stabbed at his target’s face-
Zefran tilted his head to one side and let the blade stab into the throne. His face was less than thirty centimetres from Sashar’s.
“Sashar Erinos, it’s an honour to meet you.”
A hideously powerful telekinetic sphere expanded outwards from the throne itself, blasting Sashar back. He lost his grip and landed on the floor heavily, his armour clanking against the stone. A concerted blast of Force Lightning immediately followed and coursed over the Mandalorian’s form, causing him to writhe and scream. Abruptly, he shimmered and vanished. Zefran blinked in confusion, still having not risen from his seat.
A blue shaft of light stabbed through his chest from behind and abruptly he clicked onto what had happened.
“An illusion…” He whispered, staring intently at the blade protruding from his chest.
Sashar twisted the blade around and started dragging it up, but backed off in surprise when the throne and Zefran’s form turned jet black, then formed into the shape of numerous birds, all of whom scattered instantly.
He glanced over his shoulder and spied another throne behind him with Zefran Adelai sitting in it, smiling faintly. The room had expanded slightly to make room for the prior illusion.
“You had me since I stepped in?” He asked, turning to face his true adversary.
“I had you since you started climbing the stairs. You’re too dangerous to be left alive, especially with those pets of yours. Goodbye, Sashar Erinos.”
Another blast of force lightning came out and the Mandalorian flung himself into the air, yanking his staff into position. One blade intercepted the majority of the lightning, however it knocked him off balance. He smacked into a pillar and fell to the floor in a pile of armour and folded grey cloth.
The Runt’s tongue lashed out from the ceiling and Zefran shot up off the throne, his own speed preternaturally boosted. A strange saber emerged from the folds of his robes – a black cylinder with bronze detailing, the mouth of a dragon acting as its emitter. An obsidian cored blade sprung up, shining amethyst through the room. The blade was easily a meter and a half long, and all along it crimson flecks permeated the shaft, as if it were coated in blood. The blade slashed through The Runt’s tongue-
But the hit landed. The Runt howled in pain and Sashar visibly flinched, then forced himself to look up. A weapon had been able to harm a semi-corporeal Wraith. Such a feat was supposed to be impossible.
“So, that’ll be the artefact you stole?” He asked, gathering himself to his feet.
“That’s no ordinary lightsaber; it’s as if it is a Dark Side nexus in itself.”
“It’s called the Soulsaber. It is a manifestation of the Dark Side. It’s embued with the Force and chooses its owner. I didn’t steal it. It stole me.” Adelai replied evenly, watching Sashar.
Sighing in vexation, the mandalorian shook his head and the Hunter charged from its position at the door, howling eerily. The Runt also dove at him from the ceiling. The Soulsaber slashed out horizontally as the Hunter leapt and the being disappeared back to the ether. The runt followed when it was impaled mid-way through its dive. Sashar staggered slightly as he felt his force reserves wane.
“What?” He murmured to himself, looking at his foe in confusion.
Adelai returned the stare evenly, waiting for him to make his next move.
”So the saber drains the force from an opponent and gives it to the wielder? Nasty. I’m not gonna be able to overpower him with the force, so it’s going to have to be some saber play.”
He shrugged off his cloak slowly, then took off his helmet and placed it on the floor gently. Finally able to lock eyes with his deader, he glared imperiously and sent a telekinetic spike out. The saber intercepted it, but the black blade had to come up between them. Zefran was blinded for a quarter-second.
A blue blade scythed horizontally at his neck and the insane Adept caught it, however he didn’t expect the blade to spin away and another crash into a hastily erected defense almost immediately afterwards.
“That claymore of yours is too slow to deal with a staff, chakaar.” Sashar observed, swinging his staff around in a flourish, then unloading a flurry of horizontal slashes using alternate ends; informally called the scissor. He carried on pressing the advantage and turned his static attack into a mobile one, literally putting up a wall of attacks and pushing forwards. Zefran’s face was impassive throughout and soon the Mandalorian began to tire. They backed up a pace, Adelai’s defence having sustained the blitz attack.
“Disappointing.” He commented mildly, preparing his own attack.
“That’s not the main act. This is.”
Zefran’s world turned black. He looked about, confused, but couldn’t see a thing. Sashar had used a rare force technique, Twilight, on him to temporarily blind him. He heard the buzz of a saber’s blade incoming and felt a stab of pain in his shoulder, then both arms were slashed and finally a stab to the gut sent him reeling back to the floor. His vision returned to see the Mandalorian standing over him, taking the now-deactivated soulsaber from his severed hand. Almost distractedly, Sashar flicked his wrist and sent Zefran Adelai’s torso flying back out into the rain, not bothering to watch him fall countless stories to the ground below.
Marick hadn't heard the doors slide open, but a loud clunk drew him from his work. Glancing down at his desk, the Arena Master saw an ancient looking saber-hilt resting before him. As his eyes flicked up to meet the person who had brought him the item, Marick had to try very hard to stifle a grin.
Sashar looked haggard. His hair was matted from sweat and his robes where stained with blood that he could only assume where a mixture of his own and countless others. The former Consul looked, dare he say...his age. The young Hapan did well to hide his amusement, though.
"Ah, right then. My research team will be thrilled to get their hands on this. Hope it wasn't too much trouble for you."
"Please," the Mandalorian dismissed with the slight wave of his hand, bowing his head ever so slightly and turning to leave.
"Don't get too comfortable. Your new member of SoulFire has requested a B-Class mission. I think you should accompany him, though. He's waiting for you at your ship with the datapad.
Sashar did well to hide his reaction to the news. All he offered was a slight grin.
"No rest for the wicked,"
he mumbled to himself as he walked off.
Well, another prime example of how a missions should be carried out. Dash once again demonstrates why he is considered one of the best writers not just in Arcona, but in the entire brotherhood.
As per the contract request, Zefran Adelai is dead, and as a bonus the artifact has been recovered.
Missions Grade: "Excellent"
Technical - As sound as to be expected by a classy Brit such as Dash. No glaring errors.
Story - A simple yet effective story. With the introduction of a former apprentice, I felt more interested in the story right from the beginning, and found myself waiting to see how it actually turned out. Dash showed that although powerful, he is human, and didn't godmode at all. Everything felt as "realistic" as it could for a fictional story about a Dark Side Adept
Style - Fluent and easy to read, though it was a bit hard to follow at times as to all the different little steps that Sashar was taking to complete his mission. I said this in the last grading, and it holds true now. There where just a few parts I had a hard time drawing in my head, but they where made up for by other instances of great imagery.