Contract 36: Celevon Edraven and Talos Erinos
Contract Bureau Offices
“Ah, good. Sit down.” Sashar gestured Talos and Celevon to sit down as soon as they came through the door.
He didn’t glance up from the datapad as he began the briefing. “We’ve garnered some very interesting intelligence; The flagship of Dash Kuatirs’s PMC, the Wrath of Achilles was recently in action with some pirates. The ship won, but it’s disabled. I want you to go and finish it off. Remember, a cornered maalras is more dangerous than a zakkeg. Here.” He handed his brother the pad.
:: Contract 036 ::
*Target: Wrath of Achilles
The Wrath of Achilles is a Nomad-class Corvette. It’s a pocket-carrier, and has a complement of twelve E-Wing fighters, four K-Wing bombers and two Assault Transports. On board there are potentially as many as two hundred troops on board. It’s currently holed up undergoing repairs in the Hoth Asteriod Belt. I want that ship slagged and only one survivor. Bring said survivor back to Selen. I want a witness to send back to Dash. Good luck.
:: END DOSSIER ::
“What resources will we have?” Talos asked, all business.
Sashar grinned conspiratorially. “I’ve been able to weasel the Dark Artisan and the Broken Blade for the assault. Don’t mess them up or I’ll take it out of your hides. Get going and good hunting.”
Talos Erinos, House Galeres Aedile and Army CorpsFirst Lieutenant, stepped out of the sonic-shower in the cramped refresher of the Artisan’s captain. As he looked at himself in the mirror, a spike in the Force caused the Equite to whirl around with a single thread of Force Lightning dancing across his fingertips.
“Nice towel. Please tell me you plan on wearingsomething else into battle?” Celevon Edraven asked as he leaned casuallyagainst the doorframe of the refresher. Talos’ shoulders sagged as thelightning vanished from his fingers, only to be replaced by a flush of crimson color in his cheeks.
“Of course I am, di’kut,” Talos replied, flipping his blood-brother the bird as he turned on the sonic-faucet and began to shave the light coating of stubble that had gathered on his face since his last shave.
“Good, ‘cause I have just the thing. So when you’redone primping yourself for Dash Kuatir’s cronies…” Edraven quipped before heturned around and vanished into the dark room.
Talos merely shook his head as he guided the razor lightly over his upper lip.
“Cheeky di’kut,” the Aedile thought. “He probably has some holo-recording fromSashar telling me to go into battle shirtless.”
Nevertheless, when the Humanoid had finished shaving some five minutes later, he entered the bedroom proper to find Celevon sitting at the small desk in the corner idly drumming a pair of his usuallyconcealed daggers against the durasteel desktop.
“Well, those tattoos aren’t going to help you win any awards, vod,” the Jedi Hunter said as he got up and crossed over to the bed, where a garment bag had been laid.
“Have you looked in a mirror recently? There’s one just through there if you missed it,” Talos shot back, a smile tugging at thecorners of his mouth. In true brotherly fashion, Celevon gave the Erinos thedouble-finger and unzipped the bag.
“Well, take a look,” the assassin ordered as Talosstepped closer to the bed and peered into the garment bag…and gasped. Lying neatly within the bag was a set of armored robes, highly similar to the uniform worn by the Jedi Generals in the Clone Wars. Indeed, there were only two noticeable differences; the color of the robes were varying shades of black instead of the lighter colors worn by the Jedi and a hooded cape was attached at the neck.
Once the shock passed, Talos spoke distractedly tohis blood-brother in an awed whisper. “Celevon… I thought you were joking”
“Yeah, my deaders have a bad habit of thinking thattoo…until I hasten their departure from this world. Anyway, I never really congratulated you on assuming the Aedileship of Galeres. So, here it is.” Edraven explained. His voice had dropped to a low murmur by the end.
Celevon was a man who was proficient in many areas,but expressing genuine feeling that wasn’t anger, rage, or cold calculation was not one of them. Looking away from his shirtless superior, Celevon cleared histhroat with a cough and finished his spiel:
“Right, well I’ll leave you to try it on…though I know it’ll fit. But in any case, you’d better hurry; we still have to brief the task force”
With that, the Jedi Hunter nodded to his brotherand withdrew from the room.
:: Dark Artisan Bridge::
Ten minutes later, Talos Erinos strode onto thebridge of the Warrior-class Gunship Dark Artisan. As he had fast become accustomed to since taking on the role of Galeres Aedile, all of the military servicemen present jumped to their feet at attention:
“ATTEN-SHUN! Officer on deck!” an anonymous soldier, most likely Sergeant Major Loch Lorien, bellowed.
“At ease, men. Return to your stations…except for the Team Leaders. If you four would kindly join me in the Tactical Saloon” heordered, raising a gloved hand and gesturing for Celevon, SGM Lorien, and two other senior Noncommissioned Officers to join him.
With a smile to the soldiers closest to him and aflick of his new armor’s cape, Talos led the entourage from the bridge.
:: Dark Artisan Tactical Saloon ::
“Right gentlemen, if you’d take your seats, we’ll get this show on the road.” Talos said as the five men entered the narrow room, most of which had been taken up by a square table and a holo-projector.
The soldiers did as they were asked though Celevon opted to lean against the bulkhead, putting himself at equidistance between the NCOs and his brother.
“Now I’m sure that despite your professionalism and years of experience, you all are dying to know what’s going on here,” the Erinos began. “After all, it isn’t every day that you are called away on an Above-Top-Secret mission at moment’s notice.”
The NCOs, two Master Sergeants and Sergeant Major Loch Lorien, knew the Galerian Aedile’s reputation for being easy going andinformal except in times of combat or ceremony so they nodded their heads.
“You’ve hit the nail on the head, sir. And, I meanno offense, but I hope this is good…my daughter’s birthday is today,” Loch Lorien replied from his seat.
Talos inclined his head towards the Sergeant Major.“Rest assured, Sergeant Major, it’s good. Just how good, I’ll leave up to Serviceman Edraven to explain.”
The Obelisk Templar looked to his blood-brother andmotioned for the Jedi Hunter to come forward. After Edraven had taken his spot,Talos pulled ever so slightly on the Force to dim the lights in the room and kickstart the holo-projector.
Seconds later, a blue-washed image of a Corvette appeared in the projector’s field.
“Yes, well as Lieutenant Erinos hinted at…we’ve got quite the mission ahead of us. Our target is the Nomad-class Corvette Wrath of Achilles…”
:: W/GSPDark Artisan Bridge ::
::Nearing Hoth Asteroid Belt ::
“The plan is this, men,” Talos explained from the commander’s chair on the bridge of the Dark Artisan.
Gathered around him were21 combat-rated troopers from the Arcona Special Operations Command that hadbeen placed under his temporary command. All were dressed in the matte black Tactical Assault Uniform of the Army, with carbine rifles slung over theirchests.
“Minutes ago our sister ship,the W/GSP Broken Blade, has given us eyes-on confirmation that the Wrath of Achilles, a Nomad-class Corvette, is indeed located in the Hoth AsteroidBelt, undergoing repairs from a recent pirate attack. Our objective is to destroy the Wrath of Achilles and thereby cripple the PMC fleet that she is a part of,” the Erinos paused there to consider how best to continue, as tacthad never really been a strong suit of his.
“However,” he continued “The odds are stacked high against us…even with the pirate attack, the enemy has 6 E-Wing snub-fighters, 2 K-Wing bombers, and 2 Assault Transports at her disposal. But that’s alright,as we have a plan to make the odds more manageable,” Talos paused again and looked at his blood-brother who gave him a nod of encouragement. The plan that the two Dark Jedi and three NCOs had devised was risky at best.
“When we decant from hyperspace, I will give the order for a distress signal to be sent out over public channels…undoubtedly,the Wrath will pick it up and deploy one of their Assault Transports tocome and investigate. When the hostiles board the Artisan, we will ambush them and capture their Transport. That will be our ticket onto the Wrath of Achilles.” Talos finished.
The air on the bridge was palpable and for a briefmoment, Talos seriously feared mutiny until one of the crowd thrust his hand up into the air.
“What about the Broken Blade, Lieutenant?”
Talos nodded at the soldier and went into another explanation.
“Concurrent with our boarding of the hostile corvette, I will order both the Broken Blade and the Dark Artisan to come out of cover and begin assault runs on the Wrath. Not only will this soften the ship up, but it’ll also provide us a smokescreen to work with until we gain a foothold on the enemy ship. Our primary objective is to lay charges at pre-designated areas, which your respective squad leaders will explain to you.”
Although the Aedile didn’t expect an answer from the soldier who had posed the question, he got one anyway.
“Ok…then LETS DO IT!” the soldier shouted, punching the air. His enthusiasm was quickly mirrored by the other special operators as they scurried to find their squad leaders and get into position.
“Lets do it indeed,” Talos muttered as he leaned back into the padded command chair.
:: Assault Transport DK-1B ::
:: Approaching W/GSP “Dark Artisan” ::
“Hokay ladies, remember what we discussed back onthe Wrath. We go in there, loot anything that looks like it’ll get usmore than 10 creds, and blast anyone who’s still alive. Capice?” the team leader from the Wrath of Achilles asked.
A hulking brute of a man and the type who people were afraid to be in the same room with, the team leader walked up and down the rows of the Assault Transport, eyeing each of his men in turn. Whether it was becausegreed, bloodlust, or fear of the man who had more ink on his body than skin,each of the PMC troopers nodded and readied their weapons.
“Good. CAP-TAIN!” the leader bellowed. “How long until we get to that crippled ship?!”
“We’re beginning forced boarding procedures now, sir. T-4 minutes until entry” the pilot replied over the transport’s PA system.
“Oh, good. Very good” the team leader chuckled, his voice raspy from 15+ years of smoking. That didn’t stop him from lighting another cigarette and shoving it between his lips.
“Yes…very good ” he said to himself, breathing in deep the tendrils of scented smoke.
:: W/GSP Dark Artisan::
From his position next to the access hatch, Talos Erinos watched the edges of the hatch begin to wither and melt as on the other side, Dash Kuatir’s PMC thugs applied a fusion-torch to it. Tracing the pattern with his eyes, Talos began a mental countdown.
“5…4…3…2…1” the Erinos thought.
Sure enough, right as thenumber ‘0’ crossed his mind, the access hatch buckled and a large clump of private contractors, about 20 by the Templar’s estimate, charged into the darkened bridge…right past the two waiting Dark Jedi and their Army soldiers.
“Place is as bloody dark as a tomb…get a light up in here!” a raspy voice boomed and Talos heard rather than saw a contractor run back past him. Shortly after, a sharp light illuminated a small swath of the Artisan’s bridge and Raspy Voice swung the lamp around in a wide arc...stopping suddenly when the light was cast on the dark-clad figureof Talos Erinos.
“You got our distress callthen?” Talos asked innocently.
“Who the fierfek are you?”the team leader demanded, surprise creasing his face and twisting his tattoos into grotesque shapes.
“Oh no one special…justyour death” the Aedile replied matter-of-factly and the last syllable had barely dropped from his mouth before his lightsaber was twirling, beheading the tattooed thug in an arc of crimson death.
Concurrent with the PMC team leader’s head hitting the floor, the 21 soldiers of the task force sprung up from their concealed positions and leveled weapons at the utterly shocked private contractors.
“Well, what the hell areyou waiting for?” Celevon Edraven said from somewhere off to the right. “You all have your orders.”
With that said, the Special Forces men depressed their carbine rifles triggers and sprayed the entire bridge with a barrage of cerulean blaster bolts. They didn’t let up until every single one of Kuatir’s employees laid dead.
“You think that was a bit much, brother?” Talos asked when the carnage had concluded and the SpecForce troopers were reloading and checking their gear for the upcoming assault.
Celevon paused in the counting of his daggers and looked up:
“Maybe so, but it sure was fun! Even you have to admit that, Talos…your little display with the leader was very ‘Sith Lord’,” the Jedi Hunter replied with a wide smirk creasing his young features. Talos rolled his eyes and tried to fix his brother with a serious stare but failed as his own face stretched into a smile.
“Ok, so it was fun,” he admitted. “But highly uncivilized, so don’t be expecting repeat performances!”Talos quipped.
The two brothers paused a moment and looked around at the mess they had facilitated….
“Sashar and the Naval Corps sure aren't going to like this.” the Erinos thought ruefully. His mental deliberations were suddenly cut short by the appearance of Sergeant Major Lorien.
“Do we have orders, Lieutenant?”the NCO inquired after exchanging salutes with the two Force Adepts.
Talos turned from where he had been staring at the headless corpse of the PMC team leader and looked at Lorien:
“Yes. Go with Serviceman Edraven and help him marshal the troops for the actual assault. I want them ready to go in 10 minutes.”
The Sergeant Major nodded and snapped another salute. “Sir, yes sir!”
“Is there a reason we are not leaving now, vod?” Celevon asked quietly, dismissing the SGM with a promise that he’d be along shortly.
Talos nodded and explained: “Indeed, dear brother. I want to do a pre-flight inspection and then have a word with the pilots of our new shuttle”
“The pilots, vod? What do you need with them…I thought you could fly this type of transport?”
“Oh I can and with little trouble at that. But I’d still like to…uh, speak with them,” Talos said ominously as he turned away from the Jedi Hunter and made his way towards the access hatch.
Edraven merely stared after him in complete confusion. He wasn’t confused long however, as Talos was barely halfway to the hatch when the crimson blade of his lightsaber slithered back into existence.
“Oh! That kind of word…”Celevon chuckled as he slid a fresh plasma-pack into his AAC Conscript Carbine.
Post 1 of 4
Celevon chuckled to himself quietly as he watched Talos enter the hatch to go ‘speak’ with the pilots. Only a few seconds had gone by when he remembered that the Sergeant Major was waiting for him. He lit a cigarette as he walked to where the rest of the troops were waiting. He shook his head at a scream for mercy behind his back as he took a pull from the smoke. Barely two minutes had passed when he walked into the room where the troops were doing last minute checks on their equipment. Celevon glared fiercely at the man who had opened his mouth, likely about to bellow ‘Attention!’ to the men. The officer hastily gulped and shut his mouth.
Celevon spoke in a soft voice which carried throughout the room. “I don’t like going with formalities with people who are either equal to or above my rank. So save the salutes for Lieutenant Erinos.” A few had jumped when his voice suddenly broke the silence permeating the room. An intense glare stopped the reflexive salutes from the rest. “Our teams will split up and assault different parts of the ship as soon as the assault transport docks with the Wrath. Lt. Erinos may have forgotten to mention it, but there will be one prisoner taken from this. We have five minutes before the First Lieutenant wants us ready outside of the transport. So, grab whatever necessities you will and head to the transport.” To conclude the statement, he grabbed three plasma-packs for the Conscript Carbine he held and walked back to where the screams had echoed from earlier.
At the last second, Celevon had an idea. Seeing Talos busy at the controls, the Jedi Hunter ordered all of the cadavers to be placed back in the transport. Once all the bodies were back in the ship, Celevon used telekinesis to spread the gore around the walls of the transport. When he was done, the younger man noticed Talos giving him an odd look. Celevon gave him the universal ‘wait and see’ gesture. The Aedile nodded and ordered the assault teams onto the transport. A few minutes later, with younger members of the AAC looking green around the gills, Talos piloted the ship towards the Wrath. During the flight, Celevon gave quick orders for the moment they arrived.
Wrath of Achilles
A five-man squad silently approached the Assault Transport that had returned almost ten minutes before and had maintained radio silence the whole trip back. When all of his team was in position, the team leader slammed his hand against the manual lock to open the hatch. The sight that met their eyes would haunt them in their dreams and most vivid nightmares. The entire team sent in the transport lay dead on the ground of the transport, eyes wide open. The fear in their eyes still remained, despite the glazed look of death apparent. Several had their mouths opened in a silent scream. The team leader who had volunteered to check the damaged vessel had a look of surprise permanently etched on his severed head. A look behind him showed his team were terrified of the spectacle before them. The youngest hadn’t taken his eyes off of his twin brother, who had fallen halfway out of the door as soon as the hatch opened. This was one of the bodies that had a silent scream.
The youngest of his team started vomiting when he stepped over the lad’s twin and walked towards the cockpit of the transport and gasped at the pilots remains: it looked as though a wild animal had ripped the head pilot to pieces; the co-pilot had somehow been crushed into himself. The team leader could see pointed shards of bone sticking out of the remains. He activated his comlink to the bridge as soon as he exited. “Commander, we have a problem. I repeat, we have a gurk…”
The assault team leader held his hand to his throat in an attempt to stem the blood pouring out of his neck. His eyes fell on the dead strike team he had chosen as he heard the Commander’s voice echoing faintly through the comlink, “What’s the situation, Vard? Can you hear me…-” The transmission ended abruptly when an armoured boot slammed down on the comlink. The last thing that registered was a pair of glowing silver eyes staring back at him as he fell into darkness…
Celevon ground the comlink into the durasteel beneath his boot before he wiped the gore off of his dagger onto the black tactical uniform of the dead enemy strike team leader. He slid the blade into its sheath as he heard Talos giving the order to commence the aerial attack. The Jedi Hunter took a moment to study his blood-brother as the beginning of the firefight approached. Physically, Talos had become more formal, more composed. Within the force, Talos was a maelstrom of swirling force energy, coiled like a snake prepared to strike. This angle revealed the weapons the Templar was carrying: The lightsaber dangled from the clip that had been built-in to the armour; a closer look at what Celevon had originally assumed to be an SSK-7 was actually the more compact SSK-7b; and a set of throwing knives that looked to be off-white in color.
Talos, apparently, had noticed Celevon staring. “Is something wrong, vod?”
Celevon quickly stepped towards Talos and drew one of the throwing knives that had intrigued him. Closer inspection made him realize… “Are these knives made of bone?”
Talos grabbed the blade which had been offered hilt-first as he explained. “Indeed. They were a gift from Sashar. He flayed some Vongese slayers and turned their bones into weapons. They were gifted to me after the mission was completed. Nice, eh?” He finished as he slid the bone-blade back where it had been before Celevon grabbed it.
Celevon offered a nod and a smirk as he quickly rechecked his weapons. The Jedi Hunter laughed to himself when he noticed the Templar was mirroring his actions. Celevon ejected the mag for his SSK-7 and chambered a round before slamming the clip back into place. The weight still takes some getting used to without the suppressor, the Journeyman thought to himself as he holstered the pistol in the tactical holster at his thigh. A look at the Templar revealed that man was grinning as he caressed the lightsaber hilt to tease Celevon’s lack thereof.
While Talos moved to give orders to the seven man teams, Celevon focused inward. One of the plans they had come up with was a form of telepathy between the blood brothers. All sounds faded to the background while Celevon reached deep within the force, searching for the connection that had been forged by the sharing of blood between the duo. He extended a tendril of force energy across the link and found himself looking from atop a mountain at a fierce hurricane. A look behind him showed the inferno that was his own mindscape. A mental wave of his hand had a rope of the flame extending towards the water. An answering serpent-like tendril of water came towards him. The two connected and infused, with the fire trapped within a layer of ice. The two fought for dominance before balancing out. Satisfied, Celevon woke from his trance to see Talos giving him an odd look. Celevon could feel the surprise across his senses. He sent a mental di’kut across the link to explain what he had done.
A telepathic nudge made Celevon grin as he drew the katana and twirled it before replacing it within the sheath where the hilt hung over his left shoulder. He stretched his arms before he grabbed his Conscript Carbine and released the safety as he walked up to stand next to Talos who appeared to be nearly finished with giving orders. The Jedi Hunter jumped slightly when he heard Talos’ voice in his head, ‘Do you want to lead one of these teams by yourself to divide and conquer? Or do you want us to be on the same squad?’
Celevon smirked as he remembered a phrase he had recently learned in Mando’a, which he directed across the link to Talos. ‘Tion'ad hukaat'kama, ner vod?(Who’s watching your back, my brother?)’
Talos continued to the troops, “Serviceman Edraven will be with me on team Alpha. Beta, Charlie and Delta squad: You know your orders. Dismissed.” The three other teams left the hangar, all headed in different directions. Alpha squad still stood awaiting further orders. “I will be engaging in combat with the tangos from time to time and may be separated from you. If that happens: consider any order Serviceman Edraven gives you the same as mine. Understood?”
A chorus of ‘Sir, yes sir!’ rang out while they saluted. Talos walked in the direction the vessel’s schematics showed led to the bridge. As the other members of Alpha followed Celevon and Talos, the Jedi Hunter heard his blood-brother’s voice come through the telepathic link, ‘Hukaat'kama, vod. (Watch my six/back, brother)’
Celevon reassured his Blood Brother, ‘Nu jurkad Mando'ade, burc'ya! (I’ve got your six, mate)’
Faster than Celevon could blink, Talos had drawn one of his throwing knives and flung it at an enemy patrol that had rounded the corner. The Journeyman pressed the stock of the Conscript Carbine to his shoulder and dropped to a knee when the rest of the patrol came around the corner. He squeezed the trigger while choosing his targets centre mass. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the crimson blade of the Templar’s saber ignite and begin deflecting blaster bolts. Celevon placed a bolt through the eye of a tango he saw calling for backup.
The shot was too late, as the alarms starting going off all over the ship seconds later. The Journeyman ejected the plasma-pack and was in the motion of slamming another when the force gave a sharp warning. A burly man was twirling a Vibrosword not far from where Celevon kneeled. The world slowed when Celevon noticed a grenade flipping through the air towards them. A well-placed telekinetic strike had the grenade changing course towards the group of tangos before it exploded. The Conscript Carbine was dropped while Celevon drew his katana and moved quickly towards the blade-wielding tango. The Templar’s mental warning barely registered as Celevon focused on the menacing grin that grew on his opponent’s face.
The Journeyman’s blade came at a high parry to deflect the opponent’s overhand strike. A voice from Celevon’s past whispered something in his mind as he spun his body a full three hundred and sixty degrees to knock the blade aside. The spin was continued with a roundhouse kick to his opponent’s jaw. The enemy jumped back towards Celevon with a single-handed grip on the Vibrosword when the Jedi Hunter saw the opening and took it. An upward slice of the katana send both the opponent’s blade and half of his forearm flying as it still gripped the hilt. The sound of blaster bolts being fired disappeared when the enemy dropped to his knees, cradling his bleeding stump. Whatever the man opened his mouth to say was cut short as Celevon swung his body around again, cleanly decapitating the man. The arteries sprayed across the Journeyman and the room while the body continued to pour blood to the absent brain. The severed head bounced several times as Celevon swung his blade, sending more of the fluid across the floor and wall before the katana was sheathed.
The Jedi Hunter pivoted as he drew his SSK-7 and emptied the clip into the enemies that were still firing at his squad. The force was flowing through his veins at a much stronger rate than it ever had before, giving him a feeling of euphoria. Had he been looking in the mirror at this exact moment, Celevon would have seen a sulfuric yellow swirling within the depths of his piercing silver eyes blending to a shade of amber as the colors flickered back and forth.
Nomad-class Corvette 'Wrath of Achilles'
Hoth Asteroid Belt
Due to the lucky Private Contractor that had managed to raise the alarm in the Wrath of Achille’s hangar bay, the men of Dash Kuatir’s PMC had had sufficient time to fortify the key areas of the Nomad-class Corvette, such as the Central Armory.
Nevertheless the 7 hand-picked Special Forces Operators of Alpha Squad, with Talos Erinos and Celevon Edraven at the fore, met the private contractors head-on…and the ensuing battle had a result similar to what would happen to a yacht if faced with a tsunami.
In a matter of minutes, the two squads of PMC personnel that had been guarding the armory were dead, some looking up at the ceiling serenely with a neat line of blaster holes stitched dismemberment (courtesy of Talos’ lightsaber or Celevon’s katana) or had their faces demolished by the SpecForce trooper’s nasty affinity for “double-tapping”, a series of two bursts in which the first burst hit the target in the chest and the second in the head.
“Brutal…but effective” Celevon remarked as he looked down at one such contractor, gently prodding the corpse with the toe of his boot.
“I think the boys prefer the term ‘professional’, vod,” Talos said from across the armory. Without waiting for his blood-brother’s reply, the Erinos turned to the black-armored special operators, who had taken up defensive positions around the armory, and snapped his fingers:
“Demo Tech, get up here and work your magic” he ordered and immediately, one of the special operators got up from his crouched position and made a beeline for the Army Lieutenant.
“Just tell me where, sir” the technician said as he snapped a crisp salute. Talos looked at the demo man, a young Kiffar, and saw a boy who couldn’t be more then 19.
“Sithspit, he’s just a boy…he shouldn’t be out doing this sort of thing,” the Templar thought but then he snorted and mentally chided himself. “Stang, you’re a hypocrite. You were younger than him when you began doing this osik”
“Sir?” the Kiffar repeated and Talos snapped out of his reverie and clapped the young non-Human on the shoulder.
“Line the E-ME charges at the back of the armory, around the heavy weapons rack, and put some in the ventiliation system for good measure” he said, pointing to the various places he wanted charges set.
The technician, a Private First Class by the insignia on his shoulder, nodded his understanding and scrambled for the first location.
From across the room, where Celevon had taken the liberty of pilfering the armory’s supply of plasma-paks, the Jedi Hunter spoke into the Force-meld that was coursing between the two:
“What now, dear brother?”
“Now we wai—“ Talos began to reply but a shout from one of the SpecForce pointmen broke his concentration.
“Lieutenant! PMC reinforcements closing in from the far turbolift! 4 basic infantrymen by the looks of them!”
“Then take them out, Sergeant Bulvok” the Aedile replied.
“With pleasure, sir. Open fi—wait a sec…what are they holding?” Bulvok said as he momentarily lowered his carbine rifle.
As an adherent of the Obelisk Order, Talos Erinos rarely received visions from the Force (as that wasn’t his focus), but the Force made an exception for the young man this time and exactly 15 seconds before it happened, Talos foresaw Sergeant First Class M. Bulvok’s life wink out in the Force.
“Oh my God…disrupt-“ Bulvok began to shout….But before he could finish, those 15 seconds ran out and a glittering sphere of white light collided with the special operator’s chest and sure enough, his Force-presence winked out of existence just as his body collapsed into a pile of ash.
If anyone would ask Talos what exactly happened in those next few minutes, the Obelisk Templar would honestly reply that he didn’t know.
One second, he was standing at the back of the armory, watching one of his subordinates die…and the next, he was leaping through the armory doors even as Celevon roared for everyone to take cover.
Indeed, all the Erinos would remember of the 2.5 minutes following the death of SFC Bulvok was a haze of red…though whether it was the blood he spilt or merely the reflection of his lightsaber blade, he couldn’t say.
Talos’ Force-Leap deposited him right in front of one of the private contractors and the Templar merely flashed the surprised Bith an evil smile before his crimson lightsaber sheared through both of the alien’s wrists before finding purchase in the chestplate of the contractor.
Talos snarled and pulled his pulsing sword from the Bith’s chest and kicked the corpse to the ground, just in time for the Force to warn him of the incoming disruptor blast.
He ducked underneath the lethal ball of energy and, relying purely on the Force, thrust out his free hand and curled his fingers. The contractor who had just shot at the Templar had a look of immense pain cross his face…right before his head crumpled inwards in an explosion of gore.
As Talos turned on the man that he knew was directly behind him, he began to feel the consequences of his Force usage.
The momentary pause in what to do next, really no more than a second, cost the young Templar as the stock of the third Elite Contractor’s rifle whipped across his face. Talos felt bone break as he was sent to the floor, his lightsaber falling from his hand and deactivating with a “snap-hiss”.
Talos blinked away stars and his eyes re-focused just in time to see the third contractor, a Human male with pockmarked skin, place his boot on his throat and begin to push downwards. The brightly lit corridor quickly began to darken at the edges as Talos slowly had his throat crushed…but despite the lack of oxygen that was getting to his brain, a series of thoughts flew across his mind, quick as a blaster bolt:
“Damn it, Talos…you’re not dying now. You are not failing your family…you are—for stang’s sake, you surviv..vived Mandalorian training. You. Are. Not. Dying.”
The Force, mixed with Talos’ training and resolve, heard his thoughts as it was then that Talos saw the butt of his SSK-7b pistol lying right by his left hand. Summoning the last vestiges of Force energy that he possessed, despite the immense pressure in his head that just told the Templar to close his eyes, Talos summoned the compact pistol to his hand. Hoping against all hope, the Erinos squeezed a series of haphazard shots, not evening caring to the aim.
But apparently the Force had further use for Talos Erinos as suddenly, the pressure on his throat vanished and Talos heard the “thud” of a body hitting the floor. Talos breathed a huge sigh of relief, ignoring the pain it caused, and was about to attempt to get up when the muzzle of yet another disruptor rifle was shoved into his face.
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me” he thought slowly.
“I’m going to enjoy this so karking much, you little piece of mystic-wielding shit, you don’t even kno—“ the fourth Elite Contractor never finished his sentence as blood began to bubble at his lips and, similar to the fate of his comrade, he fell to the floor.
“I got him, dear brother. Or should I say ‘you impulsive di’kut!!” Celevon Edraven said from above the prone Templar as he offered his blood-brother a hand.
Sighing in relief, Talos grabbed the hand and he was hauled up just as Celevon began to rant:
“I swear to the Manda, Talos! If any of my Guildmates had pulled osik like that, I would’ve…”
Talos grinned wearily and held up a hand. “It’s a good thing I’m your boss, then. Give me a sit rep” the Aedile said.
Celevon merely shook his head and took a deep breath to calm himself before launching into what had happened while Talos was busy having a date with his own dark side.
“Well due to your absolutely stupid, yet impressive, display, we had 0 causalities other than Sergeant Bulvok. And Private Michros laid and put all the charges on standby, so we’re ready to move out. Oh, and we got word from Beta and Delta Squad…they ran into some resistance and suffered 2 causalities a piece, but laid their own charges and are now awaiting orders.”
Edraven finished his explanation before raising an eyebrow and smirking: “Sir” he added teasingly, earning himself a finger from his brother.
“Well, it’s good to know that some of us are efficient. Very well, Celev, rally the men and move them to the next location. Have our ComTech get in touch with Beta and Delta and tell them to meet up and secure a foothold outside the bridge. And then find out how Charlie is doing”
As the men of Alpha Squad began to move out, the Erinos focused inwards on his mostly-replenished stores of Force energy and sighed in relief as waves of cooling healing energy pulsed through his body.
However, Talos had barely emerged from his healing trance when he saw Alpha Squad’s Communications Technician close down a communication line and turn to look at the Dark Jedi in trepidation.
“Something wrong, Corporal?” Talos rasped as the turbo-lift that Alpha had boarded rose towards the upper levels of the Wrath. The Lieutenant rubbed his sore throat as he waited for the Corporal to muster up the nerve to speak.
“And what would that be?” the Aedile prompted, inwardly rolling his eyes.
“Err..umm…well, sir…Charlie Squad is gone. They all got blown away, or captured…I can’t tell. Their charges aren’t set and I’m getting no reports from them.”
Talos was perfectly silent for a moment before he turned to look at Celevon:
“You know what we have to do, dear brother?”
“Aye,” Edraven replied slowly “We have to go make sure that Sergeant Major Lorien goes home to his daughter”
Talos nodded and let the Force flow through his veins once again. “Exactly”
PMC Officer Quarters
“You no good dog! You bloody traitor! You piece of god-forsaken filth!” Sergeant Major Loch Lorien roared as he was thrown into a chair and bound with shock-cuffs.
When he didn’t stopper his stream of profanity as ordered, the man holding the cuff’s remote let the Special Forces NCO have a dose of the high voltage restraining device.
“Now, now Sergeant Major…would you believe me if I said this wasn’t anything personal?” another voice said and Loch heard the scraping of a chair being pulled over as a new man plunked down in front of the career Army man.
Lorien merely grunted.
The new man slapped Lorien across the face. “That wasn’t an answer, Sergeant Major”
Loch shrugged off the pain of post-electro torture and looked up.
“Then no. I wouldn’t believe it. But then again, I wouldn’t believe anything that came out of the mouth of a man who would slaughter his own brothers-in-arms…who would betray Arcona’s cause…for credits”
The new man raised his hand again, ready to slap the SGM but then lowered it. “At least you were honest, Sergeant Major. I’ve always appreciated that. Not as much as I appreciate the cold hard feel of cred-chips running through my fingers, but hey…it counts for something”
Loch Lorien ran his tongue over his dry lips and stared the man right in the eyes:
“I have a daughter, you sick fuck. She turns 9 today.”
The new man nodded. “I know…I’ve seen her picture on your desk. A real beauty”
Lorien pretended not to hear the man’s words as he finished his sentence.
“And you…you would take her..her father away from..her. On her birthday…for credits? Mere credits?”
From the chair that was facing the bound Sergeant Major, the new man got up and kicked the chair back. He then shoved his face towards the NCO, stopping an inch away, and whispered with venom in his voice:
“Why…yes…yes I would”
Withdrawing his face, Sergeant First Class Dirk Jetor, until moments ago a member of the elite Arcona Special Operations Command, threw his head back and laughed a cruel, wicked laugh.
And Sergeant Major Loch Lorien, still a member of the elite Special Operations Command, knew he wasn’t going to Selen again.
Wasn’t going to see his wife again. Wasn’t going to see his daughter again.
"Ever again." he thought slowly as unconciousness fell around him.
Celevon shook his head sadly as he looked over what remained of Charlie Squad. By the look of things, they had been ambushed from two directions. The only anomaly he couldn’t figure out was why one had been shot in the head at point blank range, apparently by one of his own squadmates. Two men were missing from the pile of bodies he had expected to find: Sergeant Major Lorien and Sergeant First Class Jetor.
He removed the dog tags from the bodies, careful to wipe any signs of gore from them. Their families deserved that much. Their weapons and ammo had already been stripped off of their bodies before Alpha Squad found their remains. Celevon could feel the anger pouring off Talos in waves. Private Michros was saying a prayer to his fallen comrades. The remaining members of Alpha squad maintained a respective silence during the prayer. Once the young man finished, Celevon spoke in a raspy whisper. “Semotus de somes, memor en sententia.”
Celevon noticed the curious looks he received and repeated the phrase in Basic. “Removed of body, remembered in thought.” While they composed themselves, Celevon ran a quick check on the Conscript Carbine he had retrieved earlier. Once he was sure that everything was in working order, he turned to his blood-brother and spoke through the telepathic link he had established between the duo, “I hate to say it, vod, but I think we had a traitor in Charlie Squad.”
Talos sighed to himself before he responded in the same manner. “I had come to that conclusion myself when you were observing the bodies. Apparently this link you forged does more than enable us to communicate. Your thoughts were being broadcast across the link along with wisps of memories. I have to agree with your mental assessment. Which one do you think it is?”
Celevon thought for a moment before he responded, even as he chose to ignore the bit about projecting his thoughts. “Sergeant Major Lorien is not the traitor. I sensed no deception from him whatsoever. What little I could see showed that he is loyal to a fault and genuinely wants to survive and return before he completely misses his daughter’s birthday. SFC Jetor, on the other hand…”
“He is inspired by greed and bloodlust alone. You need not say more, vod. I agree with you on that. All they had to do was offer him more credits than he’s currently making with the Arconan Military and he would jump at it.” Talos finished Celevon’s train of thought. Their telepathic conversation finished, Talos turned and proceeded to inform Alpha Squad of almost exactly what the duo had just discussed. While Talos spoke to Alpha Squad, Celevon called Beta and Delta and gave the order to regroup on Alpha’s position.
Ten minutes had passed before what remained of the original group had regrouped. The members of Beta and Delta stared in dismay at Charlie’s fate. Talos let them give a moment of silence to their fallen before he spoke up, which regained their attention. “As you can see, Charlie has fallen. We believe SFC Jetor to be a turncoat.” Talos’ voice was drowned out by shouts of outrage.
Celevon gave a sharp whistle and glared at those who hadn’t ceased their grumblings. “I know that you’re angry. Hell, I am too. But we still have a mission to complete. Talos, continue.” With that, he turned his attention to his brother.
Talos sent a grateful nod to Celevon before he returned to what he had been saying. “This is based on observations of what remains of Charlie squad. But, knowing Jetor’s reputation, I believe this is true. That means that Sergeant Major Lorien is being held hostage by the turncoat. I can sense that he is still alive. And he feels betrayed, which leads further credibility to our belief that Jetor is a traitor to Arcona. Judging by the ship’s schematics, he is being held in the Officer’s Quarters. While we are still pursuing our original objective, we now have an updated objective of saving Sergeant Major Lorien and capturing Jetor. I will be taking the remains of Alpha and half of Delta Squad along with me to rescue the Sergeant Major. Serviceman Edraven will be leading the rest of you to the bridge. Dismissed. Let’s go capture a traitor.” Talos nodded to Celevon and passed a telepathic, Good luck, vod” before he lead his chosen team in the other direction.
Celevon looked over the team he had been assigned. “You know our objective. I won’t go over it again. I know I’m tired of hearing it. Is everyone ready?” He received a round of nods at the question. “Then let’s go kick some arse.”
Wrath of Achilles
Captain Zerach took a sip of the drink he held in his hand before he turned to his second-in-command. “Lieutenant, give me a sitrep on the enemy progress.”
Lieutenant Mikel sighed to himself as he turned away from the onboard holocams located all around the ship. “The last time we had a visual was when they regrouped around the dead squad. They separated into two groups, with the first going in one direction while the other stood there. They disabled our hearing capabilities when the leader began to speak, sir. All we managed to catch was that they had somehow identified the traitor before all sound shifted to white noise. Moments after the first team left, the man we’ve identified only as the second-in-command looked at the cam, smiled slightly and… well… Have a look for yourself, sir.”
Captain Zerach moved towards the holoprojector to see a dark-haired man making gestures to the team in front of him. The other soldiers walked off the screen before the man looked up, directly at the hidden camera. An eerie smile slowly stretched across his face before the camera was disabled. This had occurred fifteen minutes before. He remembered how his tech crew had panicked when all the cameras had disabled for almost a minute before the came back online. When it did, the enemy soldiers on his ship had seemingly vanished. The Tech Sergeant had babbled something in what seemed like another language before Captain Zerach had leveled his pistol at the man to shut him. The only discernable words then were ‘glitch’ and ‘I’ll get right on it, sir.’
The Captain turned back to his second-in-command. “And you haven’t seen hide nor hair from them since that last captured image?” The Lieutenant gulped, shook his head, and opened his mouth to respond when the Captain spoke across him with a barked, “How the [Expletive Deleted] could you completely lose them? There are cameras hidden all over this ship!” The Captain turned back towards the Observation platform without waiting for a response. He reached for the computer terminal when the lights flickered before shutting off completely.
He yelled for a status report before screams erupted one after another. The lights flickered on for only a moment. That one moment was enough for his throat to clench in terror. Unless his mind was playing tricks on him, he had just seen a shadow extend the tip in a glint of silver before his Lieutenant fell in a spray of blood. Not long after, the room was silent as the lights flickered again before coming back to full power. A glance around showed that he was the only one alive on the bridge. He turned around to sound another alarm, this one a full alert. He was stopped in his tracks as the shadow nearby the console extended, before it coalesced into a humanoid shape.
Seconds later, he was staring into the icy silver eyes of the man who had somehow managed to disrupt the cameras all around the vessel. The lights flickered again. This caused him to release a gasp, as the shadows had reached toward the man and engulfed him during the flicker. He reached for the console again, only to stop abruptly at the sight of a bloody dagger embedded within it. He felt a sharp jerk at his side and quickly turned around. His eyes focused long enough to recognize the butt of his blaster pistol before he felt a burst of pain and fell into the merciful darkness.
Celevon gave a sharp whistle after he knocked the man unconscious. As he was doing this, he pulled the still blood drenched dagger from the computer terminal. Once his team dropped from the ventilation shaft above the bridge, he gestured at the Captain, said ‘Our prisoner’ and fell inward to intensify the connection between him and Talos. Vod, can you hear me?”
A voice responded almost immediately from the connection which suddenly flared to life from within Celevon’s mindscape. “Yes, vod, I can hear you. Have you been successful in your mission’s objective?”
Celevon watched for a moment as the serpents of fire and ice fought for dominance while the two spoke before he returned from his mindscape to see one of the SpecOps members had the tango captain over his shoulder. The man was restrained and had likely just received a hefty dose of a powerful sedative. He responded to the question seconds after he ordered one of the squad to set the explosives. “Yes, it’s done. Explosives are being set along the bridge. The captive officer has been dosed with the sedative. Give us… twenty minutes and we will join you in the hangar bay. Make sure the bodies are cleared out of the assault craft. We’ll need the room. How’s the Sergeant Major?”
Talos responded after a second, “Aside from a few bumps and bruises, he’ll be fine. I had to stop him from killing the turncoat once he was released from his bonds. I’ll see you in the Hangar Bay.”
It wasn’t long after that Celevon entered the Hangar Bay with his team right behind him. The Captain was haphazardly tossed into the Assault transport. The traitor was tied up, screaming insults and profanities at them. It took seconds for Celevon to lose his patience and he walked towards the man. He hadn’t cleaned the blood off of the dagger. It had been in his hand the entire walk. The traitor stopped his yelling when Celevon crouched before him and lightly drew the blade down the man’s face, leaving a trail of blood in its wake. The man opened his mouth again. Celevon’s eyes flashed and he stuck the blade in the man’s mouth and pressed it against the right cheek. His glare intensified as he whispered, “Give me a reason, filth. I’ll give you a smile that’ll remain with you for the rest of your days.”
Jetor’s eyes widened moments before Talos called Celevon off. The Jedi Hunter snarled, wiped the blade clean on the man’s shirt and entered the Assault Transport. Minutes later, they were traveling towards the flagship. Celevon reached deep within himself and quickly disconnected the temporary link he had established with Talos and sighed in relief when his force pool regenerated. Once they were walking onto the Dark Artisan, Talos' hand shot out just as his blood-brother reached for the comlink to ping Sashar, "Not yet, vod," the Templar said as the two gazed out into the velvetine blackness of space and at the now-desolate Wrath of Achilles.
Celevon looked to his Aedile and merely raised an eyebrow in inquiry, to which Talos held up a finger in the universal sign for "wait".
"Ensign Teford" the Mandalorian snapped, not unkindly.
"Yes, sir?" the pilot said from his seat in the crew pits below the two Dark Jedi.
"Get us out of here and take us home...but put the thrusters in reverse"
To his credit, the pilot (an Epicanthix) didn't even flinch at the odd and potentially dangerous request. Instead, he made himself content with a question. "Of course, Lieutenant...but may I ask why?"
Talos turned to Ensign Teford and flashed him his best charismatic smile as he put a hand on Celevon's shoulder, one of the few times he displayed physical evidence of his bond with the Jedi Hunter.
"Because," he said slowly, savoring every word, "I think we all want to see what happens next."
Teford shrugged and began to work his magic over the control panel; 120 seconds later, the W/GSP Dark Artisan began to move backwards through the Hoth Asteroid Belt.
Sixty seconds after that, Talos pushed the button on the detonator that PFC Michros had given him....
The ensuing explosion lit up the Asteroid Belt, sending pieces of metal, plastic, rock, and other debries hurtling in every direction. As Talos lowered his hand from where it had been shielding his eyes from the blast, he scanned the area for the Nomad-class Corvette.
There was nothing left.
"Now you can call Sashar," Talos said to his brother, "Tell him we're on our way home."