The Enemy Within
Chapter 1: Incidents
The sun was blistering over the trees on this hot summer day. The creatures of the jungle – if they were visible at all – were lazily basking in the warmth or the shadow, moving only occasionally to follow a sunray or avoid it - each to his taste. A stirring in the distance betrayed the approach of a small starfighter on its way towards Taldryan headquarters. The denizens of the undergrowth were long used to such happenings, their home being located under one of the main approach corridors to the vast complex that housed one of the Brotherhood’s most powerful Clans.
"Palpatine Four to Taldryan base", the young Acolyte piloting the Y-Wing radioed. "Taldryan base here, state your request". "Request landing on cargo platform six with trade supplies." "Enter holding pattern while we confirm your identity". "Roger, entering hold at 18 kilometers, radius seven km, right circles. Palpatine four out."
In Taldryan’s flight center, the routine checks for the approaching ship from Scholae Palatinae began. It was customary for the Clans of the Brotherhood to exchange small amounts of vital supplies – electronics, data too sensitive to be sent over the holonet, scrolls, and medicines – via older 2-seater fighters refurbished to have a cargo capacity of approximately half a metric ton. Not only was this an efficient and fast network, it gave the junior pilots vital hours at the controls and on empty returns, they were expected to put in a few minutes of individual, self-paced maneuver practice at the least. The deputy shift leader examined the data on the screen. The flight plan was valid, the consular authority for the wares exchange present from both Clans and the manifest listed vaccines and blood replacements Taldryan was recently running short on. The deputy nodded and turned to his microphone.
"Taldryan base to Palpatine Four, come in." "Palpatine Four here." "You are clear to approach and land on platform six." "Belay that for a minute, I have some sensor troubles. My guidance systems are behaving strangely and I need to recalibrate." "Roger that, you have no traffic, take your time. Keep the channel open."
Twenty seconds passed in silence.
"Palpatine Four, can you read ? Are you maneuverable ?"
"I… everything is falling apart. My stabilizers are going. Give me a visual to a emergency landing site, I don’t know how much longer… I need to…"
"Palpatine Four, steady yourself and use the Force as you’ve learned it!"
"I am… oh noooooooooooooOOOOOOOO…"
Before the flight controller could say anything more, an aggressive yellow blast on the southern horizon, like a second sun rising and then fading, betrayed the fate of the Y-Wing, its pilot and the supplies on board, not to mention a multitude of jungle creatures. Thirty seconds past that, the shock wave of a massive explosion rocked the citadel to the basement. A plume of acrid black smoke began to rise over the site of the wreckage.
"It is an outrage", Consul Dakari complained to the Deputy Grand Master. "We have been putting up with Taldryan’s little games for a long time even though nearly every pilot who came back from there reported sensor and guidance failures on approach, sometimes to the point of having to do everything with the Force. But we put that more under ‘nuisance’ than under real attacks since they all made it. But we cannot and will not accept to lose a ship, a promising talent and all the cargo and not see so much as an investigation from Taldryan into what causes these failures. And yes, we have asked the other Clans about it – no other pilot has ever experienced the same phenomenon, so it is not a natural disturbance."
Quietly, Xanos Zorrixor nodded. He had, since the last Clan feuds, become accustomed to complaints like this. While on the surface, the hostilities seemed terminated, these little pin-pricks into other Clans’ workings had become all too common. He was tired of hearing the complaints and he was even more tired of hearing the excuses brought forth by the leaders of the accused Clans.
From behind a desk on which various files threatened to completely hide – or, with a careless move, bury – the desk’s occupant, the Justicar of the Brotherhood similarly nodded towards a Consul. It was Taldryan’s leader, Duga Arkaso, who had addressed him with a forensic analysis of the crash site where the Scholae Palatinae fighter had detonated three days before.
"You are saying that the ship was loaded with high explosives ? I cannot believe this, the pilot has passed through Antei before heading to you and the shroud guardians have scanned his vessel twice, on the way in and on the way out. There was not so much as a gram of anything volatile outside of his normal fuel."
"Yet, the evidence is overwhelming and allows no other interpretation. Here is the forensic report – you will see it’s been made by Plagueis specialists so that you cannot say we fabricated it – and I have a crate of wreckage outside for your own lab to confirm my report. Something is very foul here and it seems we might have been very lucky to escape an attack of the most atrocious kind. If he had managed to fly into…"
"LEAVE THE IFS TO ME!" Firefox boomed. "You may notice my desk more cluttered than usual, in fact all this here is reports, accusations, analyses, expertises and interviews related to what Clans supposedly did to other Clans in the last four weeks. We are getting three times more cases than we can process and as you know, I have already requisitioned extra staffing from the Clans. And your case is not the worst in this stack. So please at least spare me the speculation. That would be it unless you have something to add."
Duga gulped. "Um… I guess it would be a wrong time then to ask for an update about the incidents where Tarentum security staff detained Taldryan clansmen without giving reason ?"
"More than wrong. And if you would now kindly leave this office and hopefully stay away for a few hours, I would really like to close at least ONE of these cases today."
"…and that was only a fraction of it, I had seventy-six such complaints in the last six weeks", Xanos Zorrixor ended his presentation to the Grand Master. "I can confirm him," Firefox added, "sixty-one cases and we’re getting them much faster than we can process them. And in the end, ‘not guilty because of inconclusive evidence’ is almost universally the result. The interesting pattern is that a very high percentage of these acts are committed by young journeymen, usually Acolytes and Protectors who join the Brotherhood, pass the Shadow Academy with flying colors, just begin to make themselves a name in the Clan and then are implicated in one way or another in one of these cases. That is, if they survive in the first place, we have seen more than a few of these attempts misfire and kill the perpetrator – or, as the case may be, messenger because I have my doubts that all of these even knew what they were doing."
Jac nodded absentmindedly. He seemed in dire want of some sleep and food and yet was unlikely to ever get enough of one or the other with the schedules he had imposed on himself since ascending to the Iron Throne. Yet, Xanos thought to himself, he looked a bit better than in the winter even though, if anything, the schedule had become even more busy with back to back appointments being the norm for the entire day. But what truly worried him was the slightly trance-like state of the Grand Master. It was often as if he did not truly understand what his advisors were saying, yet, give it a day or two, nearly all of the points would be acted upon.
"Any decisions, my lord?", Zorrixor gently reminded the Grand Master that he was hoping for some help from above in dealing with these affairs.
"Prepare an address in the name of the iron throne and deliver it. I would deal with it myself, but as you know my travels cannot be postponed any longer and I am already being awaited in the hangars. You have full authority to act if it needs be, but I would appreciate if you could keep the situation in check without invoking it until I am back. And now, please excuse me."
Not awaiting so much as another word, Jac Cotelin turned on his heel and left his office through the back door leading to his quarters.
"At this rate, I give him another six months before he burns himself out", Firefox muttered to the Deputy Grand Master.
"You would be surprised – I had him on no more than three just before Independence Day and it was even worse in the winter," Xanos replied.
"I will grant you that one although I have no idea how he can manage this workload. I know that my powers would be far from adequate for doing what he does," Firefox concluded before leaving in deep thought. Xanos followed him, equally quietly.
Chapter 2: Heart of the Enemy
On the third day of the Grand Master’s absence, the cover story of the Dark Voice was the verbatim transcript and a commentary of the first formal address Xanos Zorrixor made in the Iron Throne’s name. The general consensus on the address was that it did indeed touch the important problems in the Brotherhood but that it essentially was not much more than a mild reminder to behave, hardly a show of strength from the Council. Especially the fact that there was not one word said about rectifying the wrongs that had already been done enraged the senior membership of the Clans.
"If that is all the help I can get from above", an enraged Consul declared to the Clan summit from below his raised hood, "I will have to take things into my own hands. Other Clans may tolerate when some wannabe lighty calling himself Deputy Grand tells us to just be quiet and act as if nothing had happened, but what they did to us was just too much. We will take matters into our own hands."
"But Sire, is that a wise choice?" one of the Aediles remarked.
"Do not worry, I know what I am doing," the Consul chided. "Granted, open attack is out of the question so that we will not appear to be the one breaking the peace, but who says we can’t take it behind the scenes. Quaestors and Aediles, you should find my instructions on your terminals when you return to your offices. We will strike them where it hurts, right at their very heart!" The last words were almost a rallying cry and were punctuated by the sound of a steel-gloved fist hitting the table, leaving a deep and ugly scar in the polished wood.
He would not remain the only one to harbor similar plans…
Korras was angry, very angry, though not showing it. "you really think Tarentum would perform terrorist acts against an ally... and leave evidence behind? I find that hard to believe. VERY hard to believe. now go.", he told the Novice, who scowled away. "and the same goes for Arcona's crest on the fragments onboard the Soul. someone is trying to play us all for fools.", he told the assembled conclave. "I've yet to see a terrorist stupid enough to leave a ready made note saying where he came from. and where to strike back."
"so we do nothing?", Sildrin asked.
"no, I did not say that. someone is trying to disrupt us. trying to disrupt our dealings with other clans, and our alliance with Tarentum. what would that lead to? what would that prepare for?", he asked no-one in particular, already aware of the answer. "increase all military assets to full readiness. I want units on patrol on maximum alert. training time is to be increased to maximum. every ship, every fighter, and every vehicle is to be ready to go at all times. make the crew sleep at their controls if they have to. all irregularities are to be reported to me and Manesh directly. get your units ready. Dismissed."
they all left the hall. only Manesh remained. "so, Field Marshal, what are we going to do now?", he asked, reffering to the Adept's title of Field Marshall of Antei.
"we prepare for the worst."
Lucius walked through the hallways of the underground passage. He carried the blueprints of the B-2 Naga Sadow has just won. Lucius also carried with him a few recorded messages and a hologram to help him find his way.
As he walked into one of the tunnels he turned right, opening a hidden door and entering a small room lit with a dim light and with the smell of cigars and gin. Lucius looked around, walked to the chair and set down, putting his possessions on the table. He sat looking at the wall for a few minutes when a man in the hood walked in, smoking his usual cigar. The stranger looked pleased when he saw the Templar. Lucius on the other hand did not show a single emotion.
"Well I see you are here" The stranger gave a laugh "Good thing too, my boss is getting worried...Anyways you got what I told you to?"
Lucius motioned his hand over at the bunch of papers and discs on the table. "yah"
Hooded stranger walked over to the table greedily grabbing the brought stuff and putting everything in a bag he brought with him. "Is this everything?"
"He is not attacking yet, there is nothing else."
The man looked at the Templar and gave a sigh
"well that will please Master any way..." He looked at Lucius "I will not be needing you again Obelisk, go and forget what what said here. And drink this every day, we dont want you breaking free from my hold now do we"
As the man left the room Lucius looked absent-mindedly around the room, got up and headed for the exit.
Stratled Obelisk Templar Lucius Entar rose from his sleep. He looked around his room startled. "aaaah this headache" Lucius took a few pills and drank some water. He's been having these headaches for a few weeks now, started about the same time that damn Arconan trade ship came, probably had some virus.
Lucius looked at his dirty cloak and sighed "where did I get this that dirty?" Finally given in to his sleep he mumbled to himself "Probably sleepwalking"
Shimura smirked when he heard the news. So far what was known, or what told to the members of Naga Sadow was that a group of terrorists was out blowing stuff up, causing clans to start pointing fingers at each other. He had just gotten the transmission from Korras with the information and the request that all members return to the Orian systems. The zabrak sighed at the fact that he had to leave his ancestral home so shortly after the reclamation. Castle Kuroshin would be rebuilt from the damage during the civil war while he was away soothing the needs of his Consul.
Sildrin, Macron, Manji, Sanjuro, Shin’ichi, Shikyo, Ashia and Shimura stood before the Pontifex in front of Castle Kuroshin with the Fallen Spear landed in a clearing not far away. The group could not tell who Muz was looking at due to his blacked eyes. His long brown hair buffeted in the wind as his arms folded across his chest. They all knew why they were here and what would have to be accomplished in the near future.
“Brothers, Sisters, Cousins, Thank you for your effort in the reclamation. I can honestly say that it wouldn’t have been as easy without you; you saved many more lives than you’ve taken in during this civil war. I will manage the operations of the castle and country while I am called back to Antei. As for you all, I told Korras I would be returning you soon, and that I will do. Find these terrorists, smite them so you can come back to Kyataru and actually enjoy it. I’ll be in touch.”
The group had their individual way of saluting and thanking the Pontifex. Through the war few of the members have risen in rank, Shikyo to Samurai while Manji and Shin’ichi moved to Daimyos. They moved in a cluster to board the Fallen Spear while Captain Blackwind saluted them and congratulated them of their success as they boarded. The crowded into a turbolaser so they could see the Castle and what they fought for grow smaller and smaller as they entered Kyataru orbit.
" -- I don't care what it takes, Damnit!" A familiar voice rang out from a darkened hallway. The young Nautolan slowly walked down the hallway towards the source of the voices. "Why do you think Im so hesitant? -- The Throne would have my head!" A male voice rang out again. Xaviar came to a door marked 'Administration Databanks, Authorized Personal Only'. Withdrawing a small blade that was attached to his right calf, he began quickly picking apart entry console. Seconds later, a salvo of sparks was emitted from the console, and the hallway floodlights quickly activated. 'That’s not good..' the Nautolan thought to himself, "Hold on, someone’s in the building, Ill be back in a minute," Came the voice, and Xaviar quickly ran off down the hallway.
As he was about to turn to the exiting hallway, the Nautolan shot his head to the side to catch a glimpse of his "hunter". Captain Ai'Lia Tysk, a Rodian who was employed by both the Royal Naboo Throne and The New Republic Intelligence, of course keeping her second profession under-wraps.
Withdrawing her pistol, Ai'Lia quickly fired two shots at the Nautolan, hoping to bring him down. "That won't be enough!" Xaviar howled out with a laugh, as he quickly forced open the buildings' exit door and quickly ran down the quiet streets of Theed, breaking the somber silence of the dead of night. Ai'Lia quickly followed seconds later, but she remained at the door, and fired three shots towards Xaviar. "Traitor!" Xaviar's voice echoed out from down the street.
The Hunter quickly awoke from his dream, rubbing his forehead in pain. "Ugh, I cant stand this anymore.." His voice trailed off, slowly flicking on his table-side lamp. Illuminating the small room, Xaviar quietly rose from his bed and put on his outer Krath robes and activated his door and entered the hallway. After closing the blast door, the Nautolan turned his head, and began walking, in a almost lifeless state, down the hallway towards an old friends room, Lucius.
Upon arriving at the door to Lucius's room, Xaviar pounded on the door with his fist several times. From under the door, the lights in the room quickly turned on and a few heavy footsteps could be heard.
"Whadda want?" Spoke the Templar. Xaviar quickly scanned the body of Lucius with his eyes, and noticed heavy bags under his friends' eyes.
"We need to talk, now." Replied the Hunter.
"Cant it wait?" Questioned Lucius.
"No." With a sigh, the Zabrak opened the door with his mechanical arm and motioned for Xaviar to sit in a chair facing his own. Grabbing two cups of soothing tea, the Templar handed the Hunter a cup, and sipped at the steaming drink. After scolding his lower lip and giving a quiet gasp, Lucius spoke first.
"You woke me up at 2 a.m. Xav, this better be important." Coughed Lucius. "Well...as you know Lucius, activity has been picking up around here. That Arconan ship came, those down fighters over at Taldryan, and I've been getting these weird dreams --" Xaviar was cut off by the Zabrak Equite, "Don't start having those thoughts Xaviar, not now. Is this what you came at 2 A.M. to tell me? That you had you thought something was up? Talk it over with Korras or someone in the morning, I'm going back to bed!" Frustrated with Lucius's arrogance, Xaviar quickly rose from the chair, walked out of the room and slammed the door shut.
"I don't see why he doesn't understand..." The Journeyman said to himself. Half way to his room, the Hunter suddenly stopped in the hallway, and fell to his knees. 'The headache...' Xaviar thought to himself, as he fell over to the side, alone in the darkened hallway.
The ride back was filled with anticipation, as well as despair. It was the first time Shikyo had been to his home planet since he found out his true identity. He had enjoyed the small times of peace during the war and enjoyed being home. However, war at erupted at his home in Naga Sadow and he would make sure to prepare his team for the upcoming events. The Fallen Spear landed on Sephros, unloading the Dark Jedi before taking off for Kyataru once more. Transports awaited for Sanjuro, Ashia, and Sildrin to take them back to Ludo Kressh areas, as Macron planned on taking the rest of his family back to Marka Ragnos in the Silooth.
It was sad to see eveyrone depart, but Shikyo knew they would be coming together again for the war. He approached the Blind Dragon and gave her a kiss on the cheek, thanking her for the ribbons. They were a reminder for him of the time he spent in Kyataru, which he wore on his lightsaber and bicep. The Keibatsu family parted ways, each one moving to their respected areas. Shin'ichi and Manji were discussing their new status as Daimyos and plans for their home, as Shikyo and Shimura talked about the war itself.
Afterwards, the zabrak and human parted ways, leaving Rurouni to head towards the training facility for his battleteam. As the door opened, he noticed that it was shrouded in darkness. Apparently, they were stealth training. It was interesting to see how they had gone from being more of an assassin squad than a brigade. He preferred it that way. He preferred to kill swiftly and silently. With the door closing behind him, Shikyo unsheathed his katana and moved off to the side, focusing on the Force around him.
The Sergeant could feel the Force flow through his troopers, alerting him to their presense. A Protector lunged out, slashing for his neck. Sparks flew between the two weapons, dimly lighting up the area around them. As soon as the Protector disappeared into the darkness, a Guardian was the next to unleash his fury. The blades danced around one another, providing a sign for the two Novices to strike. Shikyo pushed the Guardian away, swinging his foot into the chest of one of the Novices. Just as he was about to bring his weapon down on the other, the lights came on.
An alram rang throught the room, as well as the halls of the houses. Something big was going on and there was news to be given. Shikyo walked out with his team, meeting up with his brother Nekura. An announcement gave over the comm system, telling everyone to report to the docking bay. It was big enough for everyone to gather at and it was where Marka Ragnos and Ludo Kressh shared the same areas. As he entered the area, he noticed that the Clan Summit, as well as the Quaestors had already gathered their, awaiting the rest of the clan.
This was scary. Shikyo had never seen the clan gather together like this. Whatever it was that gathered them together was big... and big enough to go to war for.
Sith Warrior Derev Niroth entered the Consul's office, excited, hoping he would be getting orders to lead a mission, or at least make a move against someone. All of the waiting had begun to drive him crazy. "I sense a great deal of excitment in you, my young apprentice", the Consul stated. "Yes Master, I'm ready to serve my clan. What would you have me do Master?". Korras looked at Derev, and stated plainly "You aren't going anywhere. This...this conflict will not end easy, and not even I can see where it will lead. Your place is here, in the Sadow Palace..you are Lord Chamberlain, and Rollmaster".
"Damnit Korras, let me go to battle!" Derev yelled, his voice betraying his emotion. "I've served you for years now Master, you've trained me in all your arts, and I'm no longer a meager Journeyman! Let me go!"
"NO!" Korras yelled. You will command the Combat Operations Centre, and liason between myself and the Naga Sadow forces, should we deploy in anyway. You will have a garrison of our best troopers, and you'll have some battle worthy Knights."
"This is a task for a damn Guardian Korras, not a Warrior!" Derev yelled again. "No, it is no!" replied the Consul "Should we deploy, you will be the last line of defense for the Sadow Palace, and that is no task for a Guardian". Derev stopped, and thought for a moment. "Very well Master, I will do as you say".
Korras laughed "Good, Good. Now get to your station Chamberlain..and should things turn evil for us, defend it in the name of Sadow!"
Derev bowed deeply and exited his office, making his way to the Combat Operations Centre.
As Derev made his way through the winding paths of the Sadow Palace, he saw in the distance a body heaped on the floor. He picked up his pace and ran to the body. He slammed his hand to a communication device "Derev to Korras - Master, it may have begun...Jedi Hunter Xaviar is incapacitated in the hallway near the Operations Centre" Korras thought to himself...and thought some more....
Derev picked up the body of the Hunter, relieved to sense he was still alive, and threw him on his shoulder, making his way to the Operations Centre. Once there, Derev probed the force, and was disturbed by what he found. Xaviar slowly came to, and saw the troubled face of Derev starring back at him. "Derev to Korras...Master, we have a problem"
Many Dark Jedi from Clan Naga Sadow had assembled to hear this interesting news. The threat of war loomed large and every one of them wondered how they figured into this conflict. Shikyo stood with Sildrin and Malisane, and the rest of House Ludo Kressh. Macron was oddly absent.
Sildrin looked at her holopad as it buzzed. Macron was on the line, with news from his hidden location. She nodded and stepped into the refresher, one of the few places with a modicum of privacy at the gathering.
“I have the data,” he said as he smiled a twisted grin across the secure encrypted link.
“And? I am curious,” murmured Xia Long as Mononoke prepared to reply. The Black Guardsman had been analyzing the debris from the explosion aboard the Wandering Soul covertly.
“The explosives bore a chemical tag, and are clearly Arconan. The crest verifies this as well. However, the triggering device resembles one used by our own Black Guard. Also, the charge appears to have been placed in such a manner as to have minimal impact. Most interesting, don’t you think?” asked the Sith.
“And potentially devastating. Well done alchemist,” responded Sildrin as she shut off the link. The meeting was about to begin.
Derev took his post in the Operations Centre. Around him, screens, monitors and displays all of kinds showed the forces and status of Naga Sadow, quickly assembling for battle. Xaviar stood near his side, having inherited the role of running errands and messages for the Chamberlain.
Derev was hunched over a monitor, reviewing the recent information that had been uncovered. Evidence that attacks on the Sadow Palace had been orchestrated by the Black Guard. The information began to make sense, that someone was setting up a war that maybe did not exist.
Korras stood in the Great Hall, waiting for the rest of Naga Sadow to assemble. He, with assistant from his summit, sent out a call in the force for all of Naga Sadow to return home immediately. The Clan stood in formation, waiting to hear whatever information the Consul had.
"Rollmaster, Call the Roll" Korras demanded, and Derev began calling off, one by one, the name of every member of Naga Sadow. Nearly half way through the roll, the clan began to murmer and whisper. It was apparantly clear all of Naga Sadow was here...except for several members of the Black Guard.
"Consul, all present and account for, four members of the Black Guard are not present".
"Very well" declared the Consul. "Hence forth, all members of the Clan will move in authorized two man teams only. There is mischief within the clan, and we have uncovered information that my implicate members of the Black Guard in attacking our own brethern". Korras nodded to his Proconsul, who issued orders to several Knights. "Place the Black Guard under arrest" Manesh ordered. Everyone marveled at this move, as Korras continued to speak "Henceforth, all members will report in to the Operations Centre every hour. Any member seen moving alone should be immediately detained, using any force neccessary, and it should be reported to the Operations Centre. Any sighting of the Black Guard, or anything else suspicious, should be reported immediately. Dismissed!"
The Summit retreated to a private conversation, as the rest of the clan stood in amazement and wonder. Many looked to thier left and right, wondering who was to be trusted and who not. Whatever force was behind this was beginning to succeed.
OOC: I've left the names of the Black Guards out for now...to leave more options for developing the story
OOC: Im going to try to work with Thorin to exploit this Plagueis thing.
Battlelord Talon Jade walked down the halls to the prison wing highly intrigued. He did not believe the Black Guard was completely guilty of what they were being accused, he was more getting a feeling that they had been used and manipulated into doing so. Standing in the prison wing he dove deep into the Force with all his dark side training and tryed to grasp at anything that might form a clue or hint at a suggestion. Suddenly something came to him, just a word and nothing more...misdirection.
Striding briskly to find Derev, he walked into the Operations center. Pulling the Warrior to a side he quietly whispered.
"I've looked into these Plagueis attacks. I believe another clan somehow manipulated our Guard into those attacks against Plagueis. By doing so it opens rifts between our two clans and makes us both turn towards eachother ignoring the other clans. I think we need to invetigate this further."
Derev nodded, "Indeed. Let us go through the databases and see where we can start."
Zaknafein stood at the rear of House Ludo Kressh's ranks, dressed in his usual full armor. He had been absent from Clan Naga Sadow for quite some time, and had been almost oblivious to the growing tensions between the Clans of the Dark Brotherhood.
With a blink of his right eye he closed out the scrolling HUD display of information availible to all members of the Clan. While most of the information struck him as absurdly obvious, it also made him wonder if the perpetrator had purposly mislead them away from the true answer.
Maybe. Maybe not. Only time would tell, and time was a commodity they did not have in great quantity.
After a few moments of indecision, Mandalore wrestled his whirling mind back into its cage and tuned back into the announcement.
"... From now on everyone will move about in pairs.."
Crap, now I've got to find a partner.
The Chiss ground his teeth together in frustration. How on earth was he going to find a partner? Most of everyone he knew, both as friends and his Mandalore family, had left. The few that hadn't, he had absolutly no idea where they could be.
As the crowd began to disperse into groups of two, Zak lifted the charred muzzle of his DC-11 rifle and shouldered his way to where a small knot of Ludo Kressh members had gathered.
Time to mingle he thought to himself as he approached the group.
After hours of mind numbing research, Derev believed they had found something. Korras had granted Derev and Talon access to the Chamber of Justice complaints filed by Clan Plagueis, as well as the evidence supplied by Plagueis. "Talon, look at this" Derev announced excited. On the screen, was the remains of a triggering device. "What do you think?" Derev asked. Talon pulled up several images on another monitor..a standard triggering device used by the Black Guard, and an image of the remains of the one used in the Sadow Palace. "You're onto something Derev" Talon concurred. "We need to speak with Korras"
Korras answered the summons of his Apprentice, and joined Talon and Derev in the Operations Centre. Manesh had not yet joined them. "Wheres Manesh?" Derev asked. No one could answer. "We don't have time Korras, look!" Talon declared. Talon proceeded in tell him about his probe into the force, and the information uncovered. "This is not good" Korras responded. We've got to get to the bottom of the Black Guard. Four of them are missing..and now my Proconsul. Get me answers, however you can!" Korras snapped, and walked out of the room with his bodyguard.
Lucius ran up the hallway to the small group of the Jedi gathered around the room. So far his day was not going well, and the night was even worse. The headaches got bigger and he suspected sleepwalking at night. Lucius walked up to the group and saw no familiar facesm he noticed a few apprentices and guardians gathered around looking around in excitement.
Walking through the group Lucius noticed a black robe through the group of white robes. Running to what seemed like an Elder Obelisk reached Zaknafein. Mandalore saw Lucius approach and his face showed a relief.
"Thank God all I saw are Guardians around here" He smiled and shook Lucius' hand.
"Yeah, saw your robe" Lucius explained "So what is the commotion about?"
Quickly explaining the situation to Lucius Zacnafein looked around. "We have to reach Sildrin or Malisane. I think I have an idea about what is causing these commotions."
As the two walked down the hall to look for the house Summit Lucius'; thought went back to his dream. The place looked so real, the little room, the sewers, the secret passage...Lucius decided to go back and see if he could find that place...if it existed at all.
Zak's heavy boots echoed down the empty halls. Out from the corner of his eye he thought he saw his Clanmate wince slightly, as though he were in mild pain. That was the thing about people. They always seemed to think a trooper was looking in the direction his visor faced.
Through the Force Mandalore felt his partner's uneasiness, mainly around...
Headaches? His partner was concerned about headaches?!
"Lucius, is there something wrong? And I mean with you, not with what's going on now."
He turned to look at Zak.
"No," he paused. "at least, I don't think so."
Even through the helmet's tinted T-visor, Lucius could feel the directness of the Chiss's gaze.
"OK, maybe there is something wrong, but I can't tell you until we reach Sildrin."
"True enough. These halls aren't safe anymore, no matter what the Elders say is going on, something much more is going on than what they are letting on." The Chiss growled.
Derev sat in his chair in the Operations Centre, listening to teams check in. So far, no one else had turned up missing, and all teams had been checking in on time. The four Black Guards were still missing, and Manesh apparantly had disappeared as well. He pushed a button on his panel, and spoke "J'Rai Sadow...this is Derev, can you meet me in the Operations Centre please?"
"Of course" responded J'Rai "On My Way".
J'Rai entered the Operations Centre with a young Hunter at his side.
"Excuse us" he said to the Hunter. "What can I do for you Derev?" he asked.
"We've been reviewing all of the information we have on the various accusations against our Clan, and there is one mystery in particular we've yet to make any headway on. A Case of E-2100 rifles was requisitioned and issued to Raidoner...or at least, his access codes, several weeks AFTER he left the clan. We need to know who really has those rifles, and where they are. You can understand the issues if Naga Sadow rifles show up somewhere else".
"Indeed" replied J'Rai "I shall use all of my resources"
Shimura sighed as he heard this rule of two throughout the halls. His gloved hand covered his face as he shook his head back and forth. “I think I’m a big boy now! I don’t need a babysitter!” He managed to yell out in all the cries of protest though his went unheard. He sighed again as he walked into a crowd of people hoping someone would jump on him and claim him.
He wasn’t to worried about who he partnered up with, he would just kill them if they irked him to much. He was fairly skilled combatant, they are either afraid of me, or will be more than happy to accompany me, he thought to himself. It mattered not to the Battlemaster, he would defy the Consuls wishes and wander the halls if he had to.
J`Rai sat in his office staring at the screen of the terminal on his desk as he burned the information displayed into his brain. He had spent hours working on tracking the weapons that Raidoner apparently requisitioned after the end of the conflict between the four clans of Naga Sadow, Tarentum, CSP and CP. The conflict in which Naga Sadow and Tarentum emerged victorious in.
"Hmm." He said to himself as he stroked the beard stubble forming on his chin. "This is interesting." He scanned the display and smiled. "That's too obvious. And yet..." The Pontifex's wall mounted communication terminal chirped and J`Rai waved his finger to answer it. "Speak." he said clearly and loudly, slightly annoyed.
"How goes the search, Rai?"
Thorin. J`Rai rubbed his eyes before responding. "I've found something interesting, but I don't know whether or not to believe it just yet."
"What is it?" The rollmaster asked of the Son of Sadow.
"Apparently the transmission that sent in the requisition for the rifles was sent from Plagueis territory. But it was too easy to figure out. I'll let you know when I have more." With a wave, J`Rai shut down the comm unit not waiting for Thorin's reply.
"Even though he's not here anymore, Raidoner is still a pain." He sighed as he scrolled to another display and continued his research.
Lucius and Zaknafein stood outside of Sildrin's office. They faced the stony black door in silence, broken only when the armored Chiss reached forward and pressed his palm against the pad next to the passage. A sharp beep emitted from it, then the heavy door swished silently open.
They both marched to the front of the woman's desk and saluted. Sildrin glared at them, as if berating them for daring to disturb him.
"What is it, you two?" she asked tiredly.
Zak said nothing but turned to look at his Clanmate, as if to say well?
Tired of prowling for a partner alone, Shimura left the area in a swirl of foul moods and black cloak. His datapad had been beeping at him insistantly for the past 2 minutes. Finally fed up with the infernal machine, the Sith whipped it off his belt and stared at the screen.
Master, those ship parts you requested are in my quarters. You know where they are. Normally I would tell you in case I moved, but considering the current situation with dissapearing Clan members, I decided against it.
Let me know when you have them.
The Zabrak let his mouth curl at the corners in a grin. No matter how long his former apprentice left, he never forgot what he asked of him.
The grin didn't leave his face, even when he reached Zak's "home" in the Ludo Kressh dungeons. Apparently the Chiss had set up shop in one of the old prison warden's offices.
Shimura stepped inside Zak's quarters, eyes roaming them in search of his newest shipment of parts.
"Great, looks like I've got to dig through his crap, and I know how much he hates that." he muttered to himself.
Sneezing from the layer of dust that seemed to coat everything, he finally found what he was looking for. He turned to leave just as he caught an frequent flashing of light from the room's darkest corner.
The Zabrak pressed the button on Mandalore's private holo/comm, curiosity getting the better of him. His eyes narrowed as Raidoner's image ballooned out from the center of his palm.
"Zaknafein, I need you drop your package at these coordinates. I know it's a few days out from your course back to Naga Sadow, but it's imperative I get it."
Package? I wonder if he means those codes.. Or maybe it was the explosives used in the shuttle attack? Shimura thought.
The Elder Sith checked the date on the holo. Sure enough, it was two weeks before the attack.
If this was true, and if Zak suspected something (Which, as his old Master, the Zabrak knew he would) why hadn't he told anyone?
The Sith openly defied the wishes of the Consul, and for his actions he would only get more trouble, more trouble than what Korras was going to give him. He played the message again as if he couldn’t believe what was going on. Shimura sneezed again and he debated what he should do with the new found information. He didn’t want to betray one of his many student but yet again, more lives were depending on it if the clans did go to war.
“Damn those Mandalores and damn Zak for ever wishing to be apart of them.” The Sith sighed again.
Shimura growled as he produced his datapad from his robes and began sending a message back to his former student. You little runt, this isn’t what I asked for, you need to get back here now and explain to me why these parts are all shot. If you aren’t here in a few hours I’ll come look for you and you won’t like it when I find you. Get. Here. Now. While you’re at it, bring that runt Lucius with you, I want to ask him a question.
Slamming his fist down on the nearby workshop desk he began to tear the room apart, searching through each case hoping to find something that would further explain the message on his comm. unit. He paced back and forth waiting for his student to get there so he could repay his long debt to him and bash his head against the wall. Shimura balled his hand into a fist and pounded it against his other hand.
“He better have his saber with him. He’s going to need it, he’s getting some tough love.”
Talon considered the facts they had already assembled. Someone was obviously trying to start a conflict between naga sadow and plaguies. The only questions were who and why. Who had the most to gain from a fight between the clans? Obviously they had a mole in both clans so the best place to start would be new members and recent transfers.
Talon walked up to Derev. "Here is a new tangent we can take this investigation on. I would suggest compiling a list of new members and transfers from both clans and seeing if there are any correlations and then we can go from there."
Derev nodded. "I will have one of the krath acolytes start on this now."
Talon shook his head. "No. Do this yourself...we don't know who we can trust any longer."
Derev sobered at that particular thought but nodded. "It will be done."
The small porcelain cup of liquid steamed slightly as Manji raised it to his lips, savouring the exquisite smell and appearance of the prime saké he had "liberated" during the campaign on Kyataru. This particular stash had been maturing in the cellars of Kuroshin castle, and the Epis hated to see good saké go to waste. However, just as he raised the cup to his lips to taste it- a loud ringing disturbed him, a call coming through on his holopanel.
Sighing heavily, the Epis swung his boots off the desk and laid the saké down, tapping a key on the holopanel. Instantly an image sprang to life- the tattooed face of his adopted brother, Mononoke.
"How are ya, bro?"
With a grimace, Manji replied.
"I was about to have a drink. This had better be important, kid."
An insane chuckle broke from the alchemist's lips before he recovered himself and spoke again.
"Oh, it is, it is. I did some analysis on that debris from the explosion on the Wandering Soul, and I thought you'd be interested to know that although the explosives themselves and the crest are definitely Arconan, it looks like they were placed by a member of our Black Guard, and in a place that would cause minimal damage. Pity, huh?"
"Oh yes, that is a shame. I was looking forward to maiming some pathetic Arconans in retaliation. Oh well- I guess we can still butcher Koskian, anyway, since that's personal rather than Clan business."
"My thoughts exactly. Well, have fun with your saké-"
Just before the alchemist disconnected, Manji cut him off.
"Oh, one more thing, Mac. You realise that since you're a Black Guardsman, you're bound to be under threat from these developments?"
The Battlemaster nodded, baring his sharpened teeth in a grin.
"Oh, I know. I've already had to "persuade" a couple of Journeyman sent to take me in of my innocence. It was most entertaining."
Chuckling, Manji cut off the connection and sat back, staring into space. Then he glanced, ruefully, at the saké on his desk and picked it up, downing it quickly. The taste was everything he'd imagined- but unfortunately, he no longer had time to savour it. Lightsabre and katana were thrust through his belt as he strode out of his room, heading for the Operations Centre.
It seemed to the Epis that those explosives had been placed in the hope of incriminating not only Clan Arcona but also Naga Sadow's own Black Guard- otherwise, an Arconan triggering device would have been used. Perhaps it was all an elaborate double bluff, carried out by someone unknown? Pinning the blame, however subtly, on the Black Guard would be an effective way of dividing the Clan as it would also place suspicion on the Summit members who those Guardsmen worked for. When nerves were on edge about who was to blame, it would only take one stupid Journeyman to trigger an explosion.
The door to the Operations Centre hissed open smoothly, admitting the Epis. Striding towards where Derev and Talon sat staring at the blue glow of a monitor, oblivious to everything around them, the Epis stood behind them and stared at the screen for a few moments. Then temptation got the better of him and he spoke.
"Wow, that's really interesting. Not."
Jumping slightly, the two Dark Jedi turned with twin grimaces as Manji straightened up, chuckling. Before they could unleash a torrent of invective, the Epis spoke.
"Just thought you'd like a pointer- in case nobody's started doing it yet, you might want to check all the holocam records from the Wandering Soul to see if you can catch who actually placed those explosives."
Two grim stares greeted him. The Epis sighed.
"Urgh, fine. I'll do it then, shall I?"
Moving away from the two Sith, Manji threw himself into a chair and began to type carelessly, his eyes flickering back and forth as they scanned through the information on the screens. He would have much preferred to be out killing things... perhaps he could try and finish this job quickly then get back to the real business of slaughtering anyone who threatened his clan.
The blue glow of the monitors washed over Manji's features as he settled back to scan through the hours of holocam footage.
Manesh looked around to find what appeared to be a large desert. However, he wasn't supposed to be in a desert. "What am I doing here?"
Despite being surrounded by bare desert with no discernable features, a woman appeared seemingly out of nowhere and said, "You're in a remarkable, yet unremarkable place. A special place, but a place many others have seen before."
Manesh looked at the woman, and asked, "Who are you?"
"That is not important. You are here because you are conflicted."
"You are unlike many of your peers. While they have embraced the dark, you continuously wage a war between light and dark in your mind. You are not sure if you belong here."
Manesh didn't like that kind of response. "If I were having doubts as to my allegiance to the dark side, how is it possible that I have become so powerful in the Dark Side?"
"It is possible to have come this far in your development while retaining this much confusion. Do you think Tron before you was infallible in his loyalty to the Dark Side?"
"I don't know." Manesh then remembered a more pressing situation. "If this is just a dream, I'd like to wake up. There are important things happening."
Manesh woke up. He found himself in a forest, which looked familiar, but he couldn't find Sadow Palace anywhere. As far as he remembered, he was heading towards the landing pad to go up to the Frigate Foresight. He was going to mobilize the clan's space forces.
However, he had no idea where he was. No bearing to find the landing pad. Not even his force intuition could help him.
Manesh picked a direction and started walking.
The Deathshead slowly descended onto the Sapphire Star's hangar deck, it's repulsors powering down until it was still.
The ramp slowly descended and Malisane walked down it. The Aedile looked around the bay curiously then looked at the group of black suited pilots opposite. Revenant came over. "Greetings Mal." he said with a smile.
Malisane looked at him, then at Acara, Sin and Xayun behind him, his former squadron mates and four of the house he trusted the most for thier solid reliabilty "Hi guys," he said simply.
"We weren't expecting you," the other Warrior replied, "what brings you here?"
"I'm here to make sure you're ready." the Aedile replied.
Revenant shrugged, "Sapphire is always ready," he replied confidently, "ready for what anyway?"
"I don't know thats the annoying thing." Malisane replied with a frown.
Revenant stared at him. He sensed the Aedile wasn't quite himself. "Come to my office we can have a drink."
Malisane nodded, following the Commander to the turbolift, the two flight leaders and the Clan Envoy behind them.
They entered the spacious high tech office of the Commander and Revenant sat on one chair around the table, the rest joining him. Sin poured them out a drink each.
"I don't get what's going on," Acara said simply, "we're getting reports from all over the Brotherhood of strange goings on. None of it makes sense, this isn't just the clans rattling the saber this is something else."
Revenant glanced at his flight leader, then at Malisane and Xayun. "Is the Society of Envoys following all this?"
Xayun glanced at Malisane who shrugged. "We're keeping an eye on things," the Knight Adjutant replied, "I spoke to Siyavash earlier. The problem is this puts the Society in a difficult position. We're loyal to both the Academy and to the Clans. Bit hard to ask the Clan Envoys to spy on their own Clans, and it doesn't help that both Siyavash and I are Naga Sadow members. We don't want to test anyones loyalty. We're getting reports but they're not saying much."
Revenant nodded. "So what do you want us to do?"
Malisane sipped his drink. "Just be ready like I said," he replied, "I can't help feeling something is imminent. At the moment half the clan is probably digging about looking for whats going on, and I imagine they're going to end up getting in each others way a hell of a lot doing it. I'd prefer to monitor the situation and wait for developments. Just stay on your guard."
The blind blank eyes of Ludo Kressh's Quaestor Xia Long stared beyond Lucius and Zaknafein, still her force senses were fixed on her clansmen. Her face remained unreadable as tendrils of the force quickly moved across the holopad in front of her and with a quiet bleep it shut off. This whole plot smelled fishy and she couldn't believe that the Black Guards had anything to do with this. She once had been one of them herself and knew about their loyalty. She ran a hand through her crimson hair that framed her pale face.
She sensed Zaknafein's look at Lucius, a questioning look and a tingle within her mind told her immediately that Zaknafein had no idea why Lucius had dragged him here. Threads of the force passed her inner eye, showing the intertwined weaving of the current events and Lucius's force emanations. Gravely she spoke up, a tone leaving no space for objection: "Knight Zaknafein, please leave me and Lucius alone." Zaknafein scowled but bowed his head in respect then he left the office of his Quaestor.
The silence that followed made Lucius feel uneasy, sinking with a dull density into his mind. Then with a soft sigh the question was raised: "What do you have to tell me, Lucius?".
"I was .. having dreams, Sildrin", Lucius slowly started, adressing her with the name she usually went by. Although she had been given the name Xia Long - the Blind Dragon - she was adressed as Sildrin Sadow.
Lucius was unsure how she would react on this. Recently he had left the clan, probably even leaving behing a little chaos and now he had returned home to Clan Naga Sadow. Maybe she hadn't forgotten about this. A frown appeared on her face, concern showed up. With a hasty movement she wiped a crimson bang from her face: "Tell me about them...."
The knot within his throat slowly dissolved, maybe resulting from the concern she was showing. He clenched a fist: "I dreamt I was walking down a secret passage. Here within the base. A stranger was stuffing papers into a bag and then...", he hesitated, lowering his voice: "I was drinking something. And words linger within my mind ... they suddenly appear, saying that I am suppossed to drink something every day..." Lucius took a deep breath as suddenly Sildrin stood up, laying her pale slender fingers on his temples. Hushed words reached his ears: "Shhh.. relax... ", then he felt the mental touch of her - penetrating his mental barriers. Mental tendrils slided deeper into his mind - searching, scanning.
Suddenly he groaned as he was overwhelmed by a massive headache; he staggered holding onto a chair next to him. Sildrin removed her hands, whispering: "Something is wrong. Some of your memories are... ", she searched for the right words to express what she had been shown by the force: "... blurred, behind a heavy curtain, I cannot push away without damaging your mind." Lucius slammed a fist on the table: "So this is true! It really happened!" The Quaestor nodded, her blind eyes stared through him and she continued: "We need to talk to Korras... and Thorin. Don't tell anyone about this." She made a mental note to inform Macron and a few people about this as soon as possible. Lucius stared at her, then he said: "We don't want to warn those whoever are behind this?" The Blind Dragon replied his words only with a grin.
Sildrin came back after what seemed like centuries to Lucius. Seated in Sildrin's office Lucius was trying to remember who the man in his "dreams" was or what were the papers he handed the stranger.
The cloak ticked 6 o'clock and Lucius reached inside his pocket. He got out a small bottle of liquid and drained it. After he was done he threw the empty container in the trash. Lucius sat in the chair for a few minutes and then shrugged, closed and opened his eyes and shook his head. The feeling came back again, he could not remember what happened and felt like this room was a dream.
Sildrin allowed her mind to enter a deep trance. She reached out with the force, calling upon the given powers of modify senses and altered state to see through the eyes of Lucius. Watching through the eyes of the Templar Sildrin smiled. I sence alchemist at work she said to Zaknafein quietly Seems like our Obelisk here is under some sort of a drug, mixed with a little Sith magic
Zak nodded as he watched Lucius look around the room and shrug in a tiny camera Sildrin provided for him.
Minutes later Sildrin walked into her office.
Korras is nowhere to be found she stated. But I have a plan. Since I cannot see through your mind we must know who the stranger is. We have to spy on him. And you my friend, have just volunteered to be bait.
Korras had locked himself away. he knew his clan needed him right now, but they had Manesh as well. not only that, but he needed to meditate. he needed to know what was going on.
the future, as usual, was hard to discern. decisions that had not yet been made, could all lead to different paths, and different images of the future. the worst was ever present, reminding all of what could someday come, if they became careless: the brotherhood, in shambles, Antei burning.
but today, some paths were blurry, as if concealed by a thick mist. he probed them, trying to get through the mist, but the mist pushed him out. it was preventing him from seeing what could be. and this puzzled him. the force could be awkward at times, hazy, but it never pushed back. something, or someone, was always responsible for that. and he knew better then to try to force his way through alone.
who could be behind it.. another clan? unlikely. no one clan could keep the other clans out. unless one clan was trying to set the others up against eachother. but that, right now, was being done too obviously.
for Plagueis, which seemed to be incriminated right now, it would mean suicide. they would not be so foolish as to risk retaliation by Naga Sadow as well as Tarentum.
no, something else was behind this. something which wanted the brotherhood in confusion. and that indeed was working. he had recieved copies of the numurous complaints the CoJ had gotten. everyone was blaming everyone. and now, some black guard were missing. people who knew an unauthorized mission would mean death. people of unquestionable loyalty. not people who would set a bomb on their own ship.
he got out of his trance, and made his way to the CoC. there, he found Talon and Derev, staring over Manji, who was looking at vidrec's of the Wandering Soul, trying to find out who set up the explosion. and indeed, the face of the culprit was not one of the Black Guard.
"I'd say that rules out that option.", Korras said, unnoticed before. startled, the three looked at him. "no clan, not even Plagueis, would be foolish enough to risk implication, and be attacked by one clan, let alone, an alliance of clans. we need to be looking for something else. some outside influence trying to disrupt the brotherhood. if a war is coming, it won't be caused by one of the clans; it would mean suicide. right now, I need more time spent on securing our system. whatever is coming is coming, one way or the other. all we can do, is be prepared for it. but, so far, they are succesful at hiding their identity. so, first get all units up to full readiness, then, see if you can find out more."
“Hello, Shimura,” Macron said with a smile as he stepped from a hidden access panel in the workshop wall. The gases from the sealed tunnel puffed out around him acridly as he shut the subtle hatch. Xhedias knew of the gas tubes, but no sane person would move through them. The tibanna gas would fry anyone without special protection. Of course, Macron was not sane, and tended to be well protected.
The Zabrak fingered his lightsaber hilt, bringing it into open view. His fingertips were on the igniter switch as Mononoke smiled. They had a long history, and the last time they had clashed the alchemist had lost badly. Macron fondled his own custom saber hilt as he swept his cloak back from his Sith Battlesuit. The beating had not been forgotten, especially in this time of strife and chaos. Thoughts of revenge clouded his judgment temporarily.
“What the hell are you doing here,” snarled Shimura “I should kill you. You are under an arrest ban, not that I give a damn.”
Mononoke tensed as he chortled. “You will find my knowledge of the Dark Side has increased significantly,” warned the madman. “I am every bit as powerful as you are now,” he whispered prophetically. “But I am not here for that, Brother. Some other time perhaps,” canted Mononoke. The Zabrak Battlemaster relaxed visibly.
“I am here to see those parts,” Macron said as he gestured toward the pile. “They have something to do with the weapons, I think. Someone is trying to frame the Black Guard. I will get to the bottom of this, under orders. Want to be my partner? ”
"Well I see no point in holding the Black Guard anymore. Order thier release Derev" the Consul said matter of factly.
"Very Well Master" Derev replied, tapping buttons on his control panel. "Done".
Derev was alone in the CoC, save the guard on either door. The lowly Guardians were in above thier heads. He sat, appearing to be in a daze, starring off into nothingness, or so thats what the Guardians beleived. Ever since his betrayal in the Imperial Fleets, and the loss of his Star Destroyer, Derev has spent much of his time devoted to mastering the Dark Side of the Force. On this evening in the CoC, the results of his studies became apparant.
Derev was employing Effect Mind, a simple, yet difficult use of the force. Quite simply, the young Guardians didn't see Derev communicating over the Holonet on a secure channel with a member of the Dark Council. With his access codes in the CoC, no one would ever see record of the communications. And Derev had two perfectly honest Guardians to declare Derev did nothing but sit in a trance all night...
Talon Jade paced the halls of the Sadow Palace, unable to put his mind at rest, unable to forget the mysteries at hand. After several hours of attempting to clear his mind, he gave up, and returned to the Combat Operations Centre. As he approached, he felt an unusual disturbance in the force. He carefully probed the room himself, and felt the prescense of Derev, and two lowly Guardians, with barely an imprint in the force. "What the he..." he thought to himself. Talon allowed to the disturbance to momentarily affect himself, and saw a glimpse of the room, and was completely confused. Sensing a problem, Talon groped the hilt of his lightsabre, and entered the room, carefully masking his own prescense within the force.
"Yes Master, the time is nearing, it won't be long now" was all Talon heard when he entered the room. Immediately, he went to full alert, and shook the force hold Derev had on the Guardians off. Derev immediately felt the new body in the room, and cleared his comm panel, abruptly ending the conversation.
Derev and Talon looked each other in the eye for several long moments, as two confused guardians watched. Talon walked over the panel, and pressed several buttons.
"What in the name of Sadow are you doing talking to the Master at Arms? No one is permitted to make transmissions out of Sadow space at this time!"
Derev unleashed a grin, and began to laugh.
Zaknafein nodded at Lucius as they stepped outside of Sildrin's office.
"You feeling allright?"
"Yeah, just give me a few."
The datapad on Zak's belt buzzed and vibrated, signaling he had received a message. The Chiss's glowing eyes narrowed as he saw the number on the screen.
Why would he be contacting me? I bought those parts brand new and tested them myself. There's no possible way they could be screwed up..
Mandalore ground his teeth together as he read the message. A faint probe through his old bond with Shimura hinted at rage, and the presence of someone else.. Macron.
Crap. This doesn't look good.
He turned to Lucius and growled. "Hey, you mind if I stop at the 'fresher?"
"Nope, but hurry up."
Working as quickly as he could, Zak sent a cryptic message through a system that was not used by either the Dark Brotherhood or New Republic. It was known only to mercanaries, bounty hunters, and several other unsavory types.
Pat, the Krayt is becoming wary. Expect delays.
Stepping out of the stall, he pushed his way out of the 'fresher to face Lucius.
"Yeah, but do you mind if we take a small detour? It's a short-cut to my quarters."
Shimura rocked on the balls of his feet as he waited for his apprentice to arrive. He wasn't stupid, or blind, and he had felt Zak's faint probe of their bond. However, it seemed he was getting farther away, not closer.
The Chiss was running. Obviously he knew something was up, or he would have been here now.
“As a former member of the Black Guard and looking to get back into the order, there is no doubt in my mind a finger will be pointed at me too, Mac.”
The adopted Keibatsu flashed an invisible grin through his battle suit. “You know,” Mononoke continued, “where you gained your power through combat, I gained mine through knowledge.” He mused at the statement while Shimura quickly snapped back.
“A deadly combination, brains and brawn, divided between two where each can focus on what they do best” Shimura said as Mononoke nodded to him without saying a word. “Very deadly indeed.” Macron finally replied. “You said you were working to get back in the order?”
“Yep. I need another excuse to go out and shed blood.”
”The great Shimura needs an excuse to kill? Wow, thought I would never see the day. Well then, you should be interested in this investigation, I may have a lead.”
“What is it that you have in mind? I still want to interrogate Zak…shall we go find him, or do you have something else on your mind right now?”
The small tumbler slid across the polished though rather scratched surface of the cantina table. Picking it up, A Rodian surveyed the dirty glass with disgust before placing it back down and sliding it back towards his drinking companion. The man wore a simple, well worn coat but nothing could hide his blue blood roots. Beneath the simple clothes were fine silk garments, glittering sash and a signet ring baring the family crest. Unlike the other denizens of the shabby Cantina his hair was finely kept and he wore banded shades.
Lifting an equally dirty bottle the man attempted to pour out the contents into the recently disgarded glass. A mere trickle emerged.
“I do hope this…umm, what did you say his name was?”
The Rodian shifted uncomfortably in his seat before speaking “Lord Raisell”
“Yes, that’s the fellow. I do hope he won’t be long, I have functions to attend and a banquet to arrange. Busy, busy! You know how it is.”
The man beamed a smile as he spoke, still gripping the empty bottle and waving it around. He went to speak again when he noticed the Rodians attention was elsewhere. Turning on his stool he noticed the crowd were parting to allow for the arrival of ‘Lord Raisell’. Flanked on either side were a pair of especially vile looking Gamorians, who grunted and squealed periodically.
The man himself had assumed the name ‘Lord’ no doubt to appear a legitimate businessmen. His appearance however demonstrated otherwise, he bore two nasty scars. One about the face, no doubt caused by some sort of vibroblade and another about his throat, though quite how he acquired and survived that one was any ones guess. His eyes bulged slightly and he had the appearance of a mad bullfrog. His smile was thin and cruel, in short very bad news.
He reached the table and took a seat, his bodyguards remained standing. Their vast hands gripping the shafts of their axes tightly.
“Welcome my friends, so sorry to keep you waiting. I had some…” Rasiell thought about it for a moment and simply finished “business to take care of”
“No, no. Not at all. Allow me to formerly introduce myself. I am Doog Kuron the third earl of Teral of the Noble House Naidar. And this Rodian is Bainaar my man servant.”
Raisell nodded enthusiastically before turning towards the bar raising his hand for drinks. He turned back with a broad smile. “I have heard so much about the Noble House Naidar, very…wealthy indeed.”
Doog Kuron nodded and reached into his coat and instantly tensed, pressing on the back of his neck was something cold and sharp. Rasiell shot his bodyguard a murderous look, the Gamorian lifted his axe away from the now coweing form of Doog Kuron.
“So sorry, my friends get very protective of me.”
Doog responded with barely surpressed terror “No, err…quite alright, can’t be too careful. Umm…yes, I have my order from Noble House Naidar. I umm…hope there wont be any problem with it?”
The datapad slid across the table towards the waiting hand of Rasiell, he read through the list and his grin became ever wider. “Oh yes, don’t think we’ll have any trouble here. Though I’m afraid it’ll be very expensive”
Doog made a dismissive gesture with his hand “Oh, funds are not an issue”
“Excellent. I just need to make a quick call to confirm costs”
Raisell rose and left through the milling crowds, though is bodyguards remained at the table. The bartender waddled up and dropped a murky coloured bottle and two ‘fresh’ tumblers on the table before leaving. Doog immediately filled the contents of his glass and downed it. Bitter, strong and undoubtedly lethal. Perfect!
Feeling more relaxed he took a closer look at his surroundings. It was a noisy place, filled with the worst kind of scum in the galaxy. Mercs, smugglers, assassins and pirates of all descriptions used this space platform. It was ideally situated, just off a main shipping route. Plus it was a place with few rules and even fewer questions, if ever you wanted a deal doing without any complications, this was the place to do it. A smog seemed to hang in the air, a combination of faulty air circulators and narcotics.
His first Black Guard assignment, and what a task it was. It had taken weeks to setup this meeting, taking the time to create a convincing cover story. Over the course of several months Naga Sadow had lost one too many shipments to pirates and Manesh wanted it stopped. It had been a thankless task and despite the additional training, skills and abilities acquired through the job he would be glad when it was over.
Godo noticed an area of the Cantina devoid of anyone save three black robed and hooded individuals. They walked in unison towards the table, their expressions masked by indifference. One of them spoke “By order of his Lord Consul, Korras of Naga Sadow you are here by condemned to death.”
Rising to his feet Godo held his glass aloft and spoke with an exaggerated slur “Friends! My dear friends! I would like to offer you all a drink to my Noble House Naidar!” Then promptly downed another glass before stumbling backwards. As if on cue a crowd surged towards the bar, pushing aside or in some cases knocking down anyone who got in their way. Once the wave had passed, five lay on the floor motionless. Three robed men and two Gamorians. All killed with a lightsaber.
Malisane sat idly in the Star's bar sipping a wine and watching the view of the planet Sepros through the viewport. What was going on down there. Suddenly his communicator beeped. "Malisane." he answered.
"Mal it's Rev, can you come to the bridge?"
"On my way." Malisane replied downing his drink and heading for the door.
On the bridge Revenant and Acara stood watching the display. "What's up guys?" he asked them.
Revenant looked up at him. "We're detecting an unmarked Delta shuttle coming in from on a redevue course with us. It doesn't have a recognised signature."
"You made contact?" Malisane asked.
"No reply on hails," Acara replied.
"Well the Star doesn't exactly have much to worry about from a Delta shuttle but it's unusual." Malisane said thoughtfully.
"Indeed." Rev replied.
They watched the shuttle approaching. "Want us to get a tractor beam on it?" Rev asked.
Malisane nodded. "Yeah not a bad idea."
Suddenly the console beeped. "Incoming signal." Acara reported.
"What does it say?" Malisane asked.
"It's a code," Acara replied, "ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha."
Malisane nodded. "Allow it to land, evacuate all staff from the hangar and switch off the internal cameras in that section." he ordered.
"Do you mind explaining why?" Revenant asked.
"No, just trust me." Malisane replied.
He entered the hangar, sensing that the cavernous room was clear and the camera's had indeed been terminated. The Delta shuttle was parked quietly on the deck, not far from where he'd left the Deathshead. As he approached the ramp lowered and he strode up it, hearing it close behind him. He walked down to the cockpit and the door opened in front of him. "Hello Siyavash."
The Knight Commander of the Brotherhood swivelled around in her chair. "So you knew it was me?" the Knight replied.
Malisane nodded. "Well the code fitted," he replied, "so what you doing here and why so secretive?"
She shrugged. "I am not satisfied to sit back and wait for answers," she replied, "I'm still not getting any response from the other Envoys, nothing of interest anyway, and the Dark Council aren't saying much either."
"So you came for a look yourself?" he asked.
She nodded, "I'm still a member of this Clan. If there's a threat to it I take an interest."
"You're supposed to be neutral." he pointed out to her.
"I'm just investigating," she replied, "I'm not conducting any hostile action against the other clans."
He nodded, "Fair enough."
"I want to get down there and see what's going on." she replied, "and you're coming with me."
He nodded. "If you wish."
"Who's in charge down there.?" Siyavash asked.
"Well in theory Korras but a lot of his orders seem to be going through Derev Niroth."
"The Rollmaster?" Siyavash replied curiously, "he doesn't have any particular authority does he?"
"Well aside from the MSP and keeping records not particularly," Malisane replied, "however he's Korras student and he did suprise a number of us by getting his job back rather abruptly after the circumstances he originaly left the Clan. Anyway, so long as he's the Clan Summits blue eyed boy he's capable of throwing his weight around and causing bother. Plus he's the sort of person who if you followed him into a revolving door he'd come out behind you. We need to watch him."
She nodded. "Anything else we need to worry about?"
"I don't know," Malisane replied, "a number of people seem to be getting under each others feet down there, at least this Black Guard nonsense seems to have died out."
"Did they arrest Xayun?" Siyavash asked.
"No they weren't about to arrest the Clan Envoy. He just stayed out of the way here."
"Good," she replied.
"Lets get down there and see what's going on." he suggested.
Malisane hit the communicator "This is the Aedile, requesting immediate launch clearance."
"Granted," the reply came back.
Siyavash launched the shuttle from the hangar, clearing the orbiting base and plotting a course for the Sepros base. She hit the thrusters angling the craft towards Sepros and the Sadow base.
Siya pushed a few more buttons on the flight controls and locked in the coordinates. Auto-pilot set, she unlocked her seat and turned around to face Malisane.
"So, what have you learned so far?"
"In truth, not much." he responded "A small number of the Black Guard have gone missing, so Korras issued an arrest decree for all Black Guard members. They were cleared of suspicion shortly after and the decree rescinded. Aside from that, it's just a lot of suspicion and false accusations. No one really knows what to expect or think at this point."
She nodded and settled back in her seat, her mind moving faster than her ship, trying in vain to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
"What are you doing here Si? You're the Knight Commander, a neutral player, you're being here could be taken wrong by some people."
"I'm here Malisane, because the Knight Commander is neutral. I should have the ability to talk to anyone from any clan and get information about why all my journeymen are being used as pawns or killed in some stupid mission no one ever knows anything about. Yet, tensions are so high, even I can't get information from anyone. People are looking at me, and my office with suspicion, claiming I know more than I say I do because of my position. So I left a message for Anshar telling him where I was going and what I was doing. If he needs to get ahold of me, he knows how to contact me, but for the duration, I'm not the KCB, I'm just Siyavash Kaida, Dark Jedi Knight of Ludo Kressh of Naga Sadow."
A beep on the control panel pulled her attention away. She pushed a few buttons and reclaimed the flight controls while handing the comm to Malisane.
"This is Aedile Malisane de'Ath requesting permission to land, over"
"Permission granted Mal, platform six, over"
"We're here, what next?" he asked.
"I need to find Sildrin and check in, she may have something for me."
With a hiss the back of her ship lowered and they stepped onto the platform. They entered the Sadow complex and began walking through the halls at a brisk pace. Sildrin's office wasn't too much further from where they were, and Siya unhooked the clasp on her cloak, folded it neatly over her arm, grabbed a passing Protector and sent him ahead to let Sildrin know that she and Malisane were on their way.
Another turn brought them to her corridor and, as she saw the Protector scurry off the other direction, Siya rapped on the door.
"Come" she heard from the inside and she and Malisane both entered the office to stand before the Quaestor's desk.
"Siyavash Kaida, reporting in for duty Sil. What would you have me do?"
Derev and Talon continued to play thier games, starring back and forth, neither making a move to do anything. Talon couldn't believe it was bad, despite how it looked. Derev didn't know if he could trust Talon to know the reason.
Several hours later, Talon left the CoC, satisfied with Derev's explanation. Un-nerving perhaps, but satisfied, he said to himself, as he finally thought he could get some sleep.
Derev continued monitoring the situation in the CoC, beginning to remember why he didn't want to be stuck commanding the CoC for the duration of this....it would definately be mostly boring. A chirp came from a panel, and he leaned over and pressed a button, reading the display.
"Siyavash, here?" he said aloud, to noone in particular.
Derev mused to himself over his former students arrival...whats the Knight Commander doing here...she should be on Antei with the Dark Council, where they're needed. He sat back in his chair, absorbing the recent events, trying once again to formulate a path to the truth. He slowly fell into a deep meditation, as he allowed the force to flow through him, his body merely a conduit for the knowledge it contained.
"Awaken!" a voice went through Derev's head.
'Im Dreaming' Derev said to himself, as he saw the Grand Master in a white light, floating above him.
"You must be wise to solve the riddle" the image of the Grand Master said to him.
Suddenly, his lord disappeared, to be replaced by a scantily clad woman, whom Derev did not appear to know.
"Consider the facts at hand Master..look past the deceptions" the young, sexy woman said to him as she approached, and leaned over his lap.
"All is not what it appears to be" she said again, emphasizing her point once again.
As soon as she had appeared, she was gone, and this time replaced by his friend, the Deputy Grand.
'Master, what is this?' Derev spoke aloud to the image he knew wasen't real.
"The Force" Xanos replied, Matter of Factly.
Derev stood up, and circled the Deputy Grand
"Look within yourself" he said to Derev, "Explore what you know".
Derev thought long and hard, and suddenly, as if an explosion hit him, he woke up.
He looked around, grogily, fully aware of his visions. Jumping up, he ran to the computer, rapidly typing commands, sending an urgent message to all of the Summit.
Throughout the Sadow Palace, members of the Summit of Naga Sadow were awoken from thier slumber with an annoying beeping from thier comm panels. Korras walked to his panel, swearing in an unknown language, and read the message.
Derev headed along the corridor to the CoC, Korras had gathered the summit and he didn't know why. Had there been developments? Surely it was a bit early yet, but the Clan's resources were strong and widespread. Who knew what they had turned up?
The doors slid open and the Rolemaster entered. He looked around the room. Xia Long, the Ludo Kressh Quaestor sat at the table, with Malisane stood behind her, his pet redoras hound sat at his feet, regarding the Rolemaster calmly with it's black eyes staring out from the horned head.
The Knight Commander stood nearby, studying him. What was she doing there? She had no direct involvement in Clan affairs. And Xayun Erinos, Black Guard and Clan Envoy stood directly to the left of the door Derev had just entered.
"Shut the door Xayun." The Quaestor ordered and the Envoy clicked the button, the door sliding shut and locking.
"Korras not here yet?" Derev asked, his senses feeling something wrong.
"We have already spoken to the Consul." the Blind Dragon told him, her sightless eyes directly focused on him.
"And?" Derev demanded.
She studied him. "Clan Naga Sadow has some very talented members Derev, and we notice things. When I enter a room and sense two warped and confused Guardians, I take an interest in them and look further into their minds, which as you appreciate I have considerable talents in. And what I found displeases me."
Derev looked at her. "So?" he asked, "what's that got to do with me?"
"Sloppy Derev, very sloppy. I had little problems working out what had been done or who did it. And once I had reversed your little trick they told me much. Including your transmission, interesting how the subconsious mind notices things even when directed not to. We do not know who it is to yet but we have people working to break your code."
Derev looked around the room, thinking quickly. Xayun had moved behind him to block the door and was waiting silently at his shoulder. The Warrior could take the Knight, but he could see Malisane watching him tensed for action. He couldn't handle his fellow Warrior at the same time, let alone the Archpriest opposite.
"I suppose you have an explanation?" the Blind Dragon asked him quietly.
Derev looked ahead, staring resolutley at the wall. It was not the time, not yet.
"Very well," Xia said finally. "Derev Niroth, under my authority as Quaestor of House Ludo Kressh, and under the power granted to me by the Consul of Clan Naga Sadow, I am placing you under house arrest on suspicion of treason against the Clan, and suspending you as Rolemaster of Clan Naga Sadow."
Derev continued to say nothing, he didn't even react, but kept his face neutral.
Xia turned to Siyavash. "Knight Commander, as an independant witness are you satisfied this has been carried out correctly?"
"I am." the Envoy replied.
"Good," the Blind Dragon said. "Surrender your saber." she ordered the Rolemaster.
Derev took his hilt from the belt and shoved it into to Xayuns outstretched hand
"Malisane, Xayun, take the Rolemaster into custody and lock him in a holding cell. I will report to the Consul."
The Aedile came forward, Gmork the hound padding along with him. "Move." he said simply.
Derev turned and Xayun clicked the door release button. The Rolemaster waited then followed the Clan Envoy from the room, the Aedile and his pet closely following.
Derev walked down the hall, contempt flowing. He considered the chances of effecting an escape, but with everyone except Xayun having a firm grip on thier Sabres, he knew it wouldn't work. He followed along, somewhat thankful they ran into no body on the way to the 'dungeon', as it was called.
Once locked away in his cell, Derev's force powers were useless. He was trapped, unable to fulfill his mission, unable to explain his actions. He was trapped, and likely to be implicated for many things.
Throughout the night, many people came and questioned, and to each of them, the answer was the same. Nothing. Derev refused to say anything, and it wasen't missed that that alone was very unusual.
Finally, as the sun began to rise, the Consul himself came, and excused the guards, and sat opposite Derev's cell. "What the [Expletive Deleted F-word] are you doing?!" Korras demanded, losing all semblence of order and patience. "I appoint you as Rollmaster, and THIS is your thanks! So help me god, when this is over, I'll have your head on a platter for the Justicar! You're finished in this clan, you're finished in the Brotherhood, I'll sign your execution order myself if you don't tell me what's going on!"
Derev sat, absorbing everything that had been said. Korras looked closely into Derev's eyes, and found that he didn't see anything he expected..he saw a look of defeat, almost asking for help. Korras starred, as if to say "Tell me whats wrong". Derev continued to stare back.
"I'm following orders" Derev finally said, breaking the silence of the room.
At this, Korras flipped.
"Do you not understand what is happening here? You're risking execution! Who's orders can possibly be that important, surely only mine!" Korras yelled...but then he stopped, realizing he wasen't the highest authority.
"You are, aren't you" Korras asked. Derev gave no response, only starring back at his Master.
Korras walked out of the room, deep in thought, as Xayun re-entered the room, none to thrilled with being the one assigned to guard thier new prisoner.
Xayun leaned against the cell wall, arms folded across his chest. He shot Derev a look of pure contempt, then looked around the room. Just my luck to have to stand here for who knows how long....whatever this idiot is up to, it had better be something worth my time.
"Bored, are you?" Xayun looked up at the sound of the Warrior's voice.
"Stow it, Niroth, I've no interest in talking to you. I'm here to guard you, that's what I'm doing."
Derev gave the Knight a pitying look, then spoke again.
"You know, I'm only following orders from the higher-ups. I've done nothing wrong."
"Sure you haven't, that's why they decided to put you in a cell." replied Xayun, mockingly. Derev shook his head, remaining calm despite the obvious sarcasm inherent in the Knight's words.
"Listen, I'm doing what I've been told to do, but as you can see, I can't do it alone. I need some help." he gave the Knight a pleading look and continued;
"I want you to join me, help out my cause. There are others already working on getting me out, and when they release me I'd rather you came with us instead of ending up out of it.......or worse."
Xayun glared at the Warrior, and when he next spoke, there was nothing but anger in his voice.
"Are you threatening me, Niroth? I'll have no part in whatever idiotic scheme you're trying to accomplish. Now shut up before I call Korras and tell him you're being difficult." the Zabrak turned away, and Derev stared at the ceiling of the cell, waiting.
Talon was not happy upon hearing that Derev had been imprisoned. Going to Xia, he pled his case.
"Xia, he has been wrongfully imprisoned."
Xia had a puzzled look on her face, "And you have proof of this?"
Talon looked aggravated, "Nothing I can tell you at this time." Talon was plainly torn between his duty and his loyalty and it was pissing him off.
Xia showed no mercy, "Then he stays imprisoned."
Talon stormed down the hall plainly frustrated. The MAA had chosen a secret mission for one member from each clan. He had a good idea of who was causing all the troubles in the clans and was using trusted clan members to try to root out the moles that were being used as pawns. Talon opened his comlink to his personal droid, ordering him to prep his YT-2000, Jade's Agony, for flight. Heading towards his room he focused the Force, he had things to meditate on.
Derev and Xayun looked up as Malisane entered.
The Aedile looked down at the other Warrior. "So you still remain quiet."
"Looks that way." Derev said staring ahead.
Malisane shook his head. "This is bloody stupid you know. We're being patient with you, sooner or later we call in Macron and he goes to work on you. At that point you'll tell us everything."
"You think so?" Derev spat.
"I know so. I've seen him in action. Personally I don't approve of torture it's not my style, but I have to admitt his methods are effective."
Derev didn't reply, but stared at the cell wall.
Malisane looked at him, and took a seat. "Cards on the table Derev. I don't like you, I resent the fact you left the Clan after a better job, I resent the fact that Korras accepted you back as Rollmaster when half of the summit wouldn't trust you with a TIE."
"You think I care for your opinion?" the Rolemaster replied.
"No, I don't imagine you do." the Aedile replied.
Malisane studied him. "I love this Clan Derev. I don't want it to come to harm and if anything threatens it I'll work hard to put a stop to it. Right now I think you're a threat. I could dispose of you now." he indicated the saber hanging from his belt, "I have the advantage. And if I tell him to, Xayun here will swear blind you went for your saber and I had no choice and the Clan Summit and the Chamber of Justice will accept that."
He shrugged. "But I believe in what the Dark Brotherhood stands for, it's system of Justice. I know what Lord Cotelin and Lord Firefox and the others went through to get us here and what they put in place to protect the members and create fairness and I respect that."
Derev glanced at him then looked away again.
"So you have a choice, you tell us what you know and what you've been doing and it will go in your favour with the Justicar and I'm sure your sentance will be merciful compared with what you face otherwise. It's up to you."
He waited, studying the Rolemaster who sat looking at the wall without blinking, then he sighed. "You're a bloody stuborn fool man," Malisane told him. "So be it, your way is going to be painful." He stood up. "Watch him Xayun. Goodbye Derev I don't suspect we'll meet again."
He turned and left the room.
Talon came to his decision. Getting up and walking out of his room, black cloak billowing like the storm that raged inside him, he headed for the cell block. Upon entering he was stopped by Xayun, "You can not be in here Talon, Consul's orders." Talon looked at Xayun as if noticing him for the first time and his green eyes seemed to glow with an intense fire, "I am countermanding those orders."
Xayun to his credit took a step backward and ignited his lightsaber. Talon didn't even bother igniting either of his crimson blades. He picked Xayun up with the Force and waved his hands across his body, leaving Xayun wreathing in agony. As the young knight began to near unconciousness Talon flung him against a wall like a sack of grain.
Waving his hand, the Force cell was deactivated and the sigh of relief that hit Derev as the Force flooded through him was evident. Talon, impatient as always said, "Lets go."
As he walked past Xayun he shook his head, "Kid really should of listened. At least Talon was nice about it." Sprinting to keep up with Talon they headed for the Hangar and the Jade Agony.
The Master at Arms of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood sat in his office, furious. The situation had gotten out of control in the Orian System. His attempt to gather information on the happenings had been working, however, it appeared Naga Sadow had gotten over-zealous, his spy had been imprisoned, and was apparantly being accused of all the wrong doings against Naga Sadow. However, his hands were tied, Derev knew his orders, and the Master at Arms couldn't reveal his involvement in the escalating situation, not yet.
The two Sith ran through the corridors of the Sadow Palace, as of yet, undetected. Being Chamberlain of the Sadow Palace, Derev had a few tricks up his sleeves to deal with anything they should run into. As they approached the hanger bay, they came to a halt, for the one trick he didn't have. Four Knights stood before the entrance, and any combat would alert the CoC to thier prescense.
"So whats your brilliant plan for this?" Derev asked Talon
"Quiet, you ass" Talon quipped back "Practiced your telekinisis lately?" he asked
Derev grinned, realizing his plan. Together, the two Sith reached into the force, and met each others minds, as they prepared to strike. In a moment of clarity, the two threw a Telekenitic Strike, and the four Knights slammed against the bulkhead and fell to the ground.
"They'll have a headache when they wake up" Talon said grinning.
"Here" he yelled, as he threw Derev his sabre, and Derev bent down, and grabbed one of the Knights sabres and added it to his belt .
"Just in case" Derev said, as they made thier way into the Hanger.
"Im taking the Orcist" Derev declared, running towards his Modified TIE Advance, courtesy of the TIE Corps.
"I'll meet you at the coordinates" Talon announced, as he boarded his ship.
Within moments, both were gone, heading into Space. Derev keyed in a command, sending a message to the Master at Arms, and another to a servant of the Master at Arms, still within the Sadow Palace.
The Quaestor sat at her meager desk, deep in meditation, as the comm panel beeped, and she saw a message from Derev. Upon examination, it was just a forwarded message from the Master at Arms.
'Strange' Sildrin thought, we've been inactive for sometime, what would Kaek want now?' as she read the message
Continue observation of clan members. Strong belief there is mole or moles within the clan, working together to caus the chaos spreading through the Brotherhood. Report any findings immediately using secure channel delta-nine-xray. Do not disclose mission under any circumstances. If neccassary, you are authorized to take any action against these moles if apprehended.
Dark Jedi Knight Xayun awoke in the cellblock with a major headache. Quickly, he recalled what happened, and immediately ran to the Summit to inform them of the happenings, already fearful of thier response
The Quaestor Xia Long, usually called Sildrin Sadow leaned back, her blind eyes staring beyond the comm panel as she thought about the message of the Master at Arms. .... so this had been Derev's reasons... and he even refused to talk to our Consul Korras about this...
Finally insight trickled into her mind and her eyes widened. ... but how could Derev send me that messa..... her thoughts were disturbed by her former student Xayun. Who had rushed into her office without awaiting her allowence to enter.
"Derev... Talon... he escaped...", Xayun started.
For a moment there was silence then Sildrin began to curse, she would have loved to talk to Derev first, wanting to know if he had found out anything by now. Xayun misunderstood her curses, excusing himself: "I was overwhelmed by Talon... I stood no chance... I am sorry, my Quaestor. Derev is gone"
Sildrin scowled, bending over the control panel. Her slender fingers danced across the controlls as she loaded the camera feed onto the screen. ... Did Talon kidnap Derev? Or did he free him?... , she wondered. Her force senses were fixed on the camera feed and with relief she saw them both escaping.
"Shouldn't we alert the rest of the summit?", Xayun looked at her. From that position he couldnt see that she already had loaded the camera feed from the hangar. She knew that Derev had escaped together with Talon. Her fingers danced across the controls, sending off a small encrypted message to Derev's ship:
exchange of data might be vital.
use security channel echo-foxtrot-charly-1024 for contact.
Then she deleted any logs from their departure and the transmission. Derev was indeed the Chamberlain, but meanwhile the Quaestor had developed the new commmunication system of Clan Naga Sadow, knowing every part of it. And every backdoor. ... this should give him some time...
She activated the comm system: "Alert the hangar personel. No one is allowed to depart without my permission! I repeat: No one is allowed to depart without my permission.". A few seconds later her Aedile Malisane entered her office: "What is the meaning of this? Does this have to do with Derev's escape?". Sildrin arched an eyebrow, smirking: "One day you have to tell me about your fast information channels, my Aedile."
Malisane and Xayun listened to the Quaestor while she explained the situation about Derev.
"I want to go after him." Malisane said finally.
"Why?" Xayun asked.
"I don't know what he's playing at, but if he is working for the MAA I can verifty that."
The Blind Dragon stared at him curiously. "Who do you want to take?"
"Just myself," the Aedile replied, "if I take a force it could get unpleasant and people will die before this pans out. If I go alone I can find him and talk to him and maybe this ends without bloodshed."
"It could be a trap," Xayun reasoned, "how do you know he won't just kill you when he sees you? He's got a Battlelord with him, and you don't know who he might be joining."
Malisane walked over to the other Envoy and poked him in the arm deliberatley. "You're alive. They could easily have killed you before they left. They didn't. That's what makes me think they might be willing to negotiate this peacefully."
"Very well," the Blind Dragon agreed, "go then but be careful. Don't take any risks."
"I think I should go as well," Xayun added, "I was responsible for his security and I'm your Black Guard."
Malisane glanced at Xia who nodded. "Agreed," Malisane replied, "I've had the Deathshead ferried down from the Sapphire Star. We'd better move quickly."
Xia nodded and clicked her communicator. "This is the Quaestor, Aedile De Ath is cleared to leave the hangar on my authority." She clicked it off. "Good luck, both of you."
Xayun joined Malisane in the cockpit of the Firespray. "Alright we're off," he said sitting in the co-pilots chair, "how are you planning on following him?"
Malisane smiled. "Derev isn't the only one with tricks up his sleeve. When we arrested him I took the precaution of slipping a homing device on his TIE. We can't match him in speed but we can follow him." He clicked a button and the console started to flash.
"Excellant," the Clan Envoy replied with a grin.
As the Deathshead cleared the hangar and soared up into the atmosphere Xayun studied the tracking device. "I've got his signal, inputting co-ordinates into the navi-computer."
Malisane nodded. "Let's get after him then, I just hope what he sent the boss is true, we'll see anyway."
A few seconds later the Firespray flickered into hyperspace.
“So,” continued Sin, flicking to another of the crew manifests he had downloaded to his datapad. “We can safely say that everything appears normal as far as our day to day duties are involved. Nothing more to report except that the Deathshead has been sent to the surface as per your orders Commander.” He waited at attention for Revenant to reply and half hoped to be assigned some menial chore or other to keep his mind off the recent events. Perhaps even more so to distract himself from the faint sense that his Sith master Macron was up to something.
“No Sin that’s fine for now, please take a seat.” The Commander gestured to one of the high backed chairs that sat opposite him at his desk. “We are on a knife’s edge my friend. The troops grow restless confined to the hangars, half of Sapphire Squadron is on leave or away in other fields of battle,”
Sin nodded. “Yes, I can feel the tension in the crew. I would even go as far as saying that it’s upped their efficiency a small amount.” He cracked a wry smile but quickly realised the stony serious expression on the commander’s face.
“That may be,” continued Revenant. “But there’s something I need you to do for me…
Turbo-lift doors hissed open and Sin stepped out into the bridge of the Sapphire Star. A few of the crew began to look furiously busy, mapping out flight trajectories or scanning com-channels, obviously scared they would be reprimanded in some way or another by the Sith.
“Ensign Garak,” Ordered the Flight Leader as he strode up the central ramp and onto the bridge’s main platform “make ready to bring defence systems online. We are ordered to destroy anyone that approaches the station unless they are transmitting on Sapphire Squadron encryption channels.” Sin cracked his knuckles and peered out at the stars as Malisane’s deathshead could be seen entering hyperspace. “And ensign,”
“yes Sir?” a tone of fear in the Sulustan’s voice.
“Detach the turbo-lift tether from ground-base and bring the engines up to operation status. We may very well be entering a war.”
Ashia strode through the corridors, her thigh high boots clicking on the dursteel flooring. She turned the corner abruptly, her long coat swirling about her ankles and came to a halt outside the chambers of her son, Sanjuro. She rapped on the door and rested her hand on the hilt of her katana tapping it impatiently as she waited for the door to swish open.
"Are you ready?" She asked as he finished putting some things in a bag.
"Yes, I think so, but why couldn't I have just met you there?" His purple eyes met hers, a frustration building behind them that reminded her of his father.
"Because Korras doesn't want us roaming the halls alone and I don't want anything happening to you. Horus should have the rest of the battle team assembled by now, let's go." They left his room, the door sliding shut behind them as they exited and moved to the the training rooms.
The rest of the battle team was there, milling about and talking quietly amoung themselves about the current events. They snapped to attention as the Tetrach strode through the door. Sanjuro, went to stand with the rest of his battleteam and waited for his mother to speak. The Guardians and Protectors looked a bit nervous as none of them really knew what was going on. Tension within the Clan was so thick, you could cut it with a sabre.
"As you all know, there have been some...incidents amoung the Clans. We do not know whose to blame for this, but one thing is for sure, whoever it is, justice will be dealt to them. Our loyalty is to our Clan and our Clan's leaders. Therefore, we are putting ourselves at the disposal of our Quaestor."
"What about the Black Guards? I heard they had something to do with this."
One of the Guardians spoke up and cringed when thier Tetrach's gaze turned towards them. Fear was not something she intended to impart on her Battle Team, but her ties with the Keibatsu seemed to follow her.
"The Black Guards were released not to long ago. They are no longer under the suspicion of the Consul." Her azure eyes swept over her team.
"Now, Horus is going to take you through a few training maneuvers. Horus?"
Horus bowed to his Tetrach then proceeded to orgainize them in to training groups. Ashia moved to the side and sent a coded message to Sildrin.
'The Jade Serpents are at your disposal, Sil. We are ready and willing to do what is necessary for Clan Naga Sadow.'
She switched it off and turned to watch her battle team, an uneasy feeling developing in her stomach. She reached out with the Force and searched for her family, looking for security in the ones she trusted and loved.
'We're still here, Ashia. We haven't gone far.' Shikyo's voiceless thought passed through her and made her smile slightly. She could feel that his presence wasn't too far away. Sanjuro looked up at her the same instant, he too had heard his uncle's resassuring thought.
“Sure, we can interrogate Zak,” shrugged the alchemist. “You want the hard or soft option?” Macron cracked his fingers with zest, imagining the amount of punishment that someone of Zak’s abilities could take. It could take a long time, and be most entertaining.
He had become pretty bored lately anyhow.
“Not like that man, just questions. I think he is trying to split,” replied Shimura. “You fiend. You just love the torture, don’t you?”
“I see,” Macron said in disappointment. “Yeah, as much as you love crushing people. Oh well. In any case, I have been slicing off-site transmissions for some time.” Mononoke produced his datapad. “I found the fragments of this one through my channels. It may have something to do with Zaknafein.”
<“Krayt is becoming wary…”>
“How the hell did you get that frequency? “ wondered Shimura as they began to walk rapidly toward the hangar bay. They passed a few Knights who seemed to the worse for wear, and heard Sildrin’s message to close the launch bays.
“Dude. I have lots of nasty friends, of course. You remember I used to be ganger, right? No high and mighty origins for me, I’m afraid. I suppose we won’t be going anywhere now,” Macron sighed. “Neither will he.”
“Right. Let’s go track him down. I have questions for him,” growled Shimura.
“Excellent,” smiled Macron forebodingly.
*OOC: I KNOW WE DON'T LIKE OOC POSTS BUT IF YOU GUYS COULD KEEP ME IN THE STORY WHILE I'M ON VACATION I'D REALLY APPRICIATE IT. JUST SAY LIKE "CALLUS DOES THIS, CALLUS DOES THAT" AND YOU CAN EVEN HAVE ME SPEEK IF YOU WANT. THANKS GUYS*
Callus was sitting in the cockpit of his fighter, where he felt the most comfortable, he knew some crap was going on inside the clan. As usual some other clan, Taldryan, had messed somthing up and had made it look like an attack on another clan. Then that crazy sith, Thorin, had done somthing and gone off and was probably about to cause some trouble.
He was able to keep tabs on some people throughout the clan who he thought might have influence on the events to come and most of them were in the same room. He was using the sliced comlink channels that were opened into most of the rooms inside the main complex of the clan. He had come across these hidden comlink channels when he was Tetrarch and had his apprentice slice them open for him.
He was dropping in on a conversation about the nextcourse of action and picked up about some corruption within the clan. He heard the Black Guard mentioned and a few other names. He heard that they wanted to interrogate Zak and decided that that could be interesting depending on how willing he was to talk, he was sure not to be "that" willing.
He heard some people moving through the room very quickly and heard an order from Sildrin to lock down the hangar bay doors. He leaned his head back and rolled his eyes. Well I guess that means they're going after him then, guess I'd better help. He thought as he was moving out of the cockpit an Acolyte stepped up beside him holding a blaster to him.
"Are you crazy? Step away." Callus said jumping from the cockpit and came with a thud to the ground. The Acolyte fired her blaster and the shot went wide hitting his fighter. The bay suddenly got silent as Callus grabbed the young darksider by the throat and slung her across the bay into a crate.
Xedias and Macron came charging to his position with a contigent of knights. Callus looked at them with a little grin on his face "What? I didn't do anything, you should tell these guys to be a bit more cautious when they could get killed. So where do you need me?"
Shikyo smirked at Ashia and Sanjuro, making his way back to the training facility for his battleteam. If he was caught, they would have locked him away, making it that much important that he stayed in the shadows. Using his abilities as an assassin, he moved in the quiet corridors, making his way back to his team longer than usual. Making his way there with no problems, Shikyo entered the facility, catching a glimpse of his team members. They were just as restless as him.
"What do ya think we should do, Sarge?"
Joseem spoke up, breaking the akward silence.
"I want you and Tsingtao to stay together, leaving Sakura and Genesis to pair up."
"Yeah, but what about you?"
"I'm gonna try to talk to Manji, see what he knows about the Wandering Soul."
His team nodded in unison, watching their leader walk out of the room. Something seemed unusual about the attack on the ship. If it was indeed Arconans attacking his clan, Shikyo wanted to know every bit of information he could.
The approach to Manji's chambers was not as easy as the one towards his Raptors. A couple of Journeymen were bugging him as to why he did not have a partner along side him. Hopefully, they would wake up peacefully from their temporary slumbers.
Shikyo opened the doors to his brother's room, finding his nose buried into the blue screens of the datapads. He had never seen the One-Eyed Dragon glare so hard at something since he joined the clan. With the clearing of his throat, Rurouni caught the attention of the Epis.
"Oh. Hey, Shik. Sorry man, but I'm not lending you anymore sake."
"Don't worry about it. I was just bumming stuff off of ya. I dropped by to ask about the incident with the Wandering Soul."
"There's not much I can say... I wish I had something for you. If I know something more than you do, I'll make sure to relay it to ya."
"In the meantime, practice your skills. Hone them. We're gonna need everyone ready for this one."
With a bow of his head, Shikyo excused himself from the chambers. He proceeded back to the training facility, running his thumb across the decorated hilts of his new swords. Hopefully, he would learn something new about everything that was going on. Only time would tell.
Eragon found Lucius in one of the many lounges of Naga Sadow’s base on Aranna. He was staring blankly at a wall, banging an empty glass up and down in frustration.
“Hello Lucius. What’s wrong?” Eragon asked
“I can’t remember. One moment I was here, and the next moment I was in the tunnels.”
“Tunnels? What tunnels?”
“Oh, you know, the ones under the building. Anyways, I can’t remember how I got there. I don’t exactly think that I was sleepwalking, though that is the only likely choice.”
“Hmmm. How exactly do you get to these tunnels?” Eragon asked.
Lucius looked at him suspiciously.
“I don’t know.” He said vaguely.
“I better get going.” He said looking down.
Just then he noticed that Lucius’ shoes were covered in mud. And mud left tracks. If Eragon could find those tracks, he could find the tunnels!
He looked around the floor of the room quickly. Sure enough, there were tracks leading away from the room. The Protector followed the tracks through many corridors. They finally stopped at the basement. Eragon bounded down the rotting wooden stairs, and reached the basement floor. As soon as he hit the floor, darkness surrounded him. The Protector used the Force to enhance his eyesight. Sure enough, he found a door on the floor that was ajar. These were the tunnels.
Acara rolled his TIE Interceptor to the right, avoiding fire from the two TIE fighters behind him as he chased another close to the hull of the Sapphire Star. Smiling to himself the Jedi hunter continued to chase the TIE as it turned round to underneath one of the Star’s hanger bays. Directing the Interceptor slightly to the left Rayden watched with pleasure as his target locked. Acara fired and watched with pleasure as the TIE exploded.
A quick erratic series of dips climbs and rolls were required from Acara next to avoid being hit by the two craft behind him. Pulling out of a climb Acara tapped in a few commands putting his engines to full reverse. It was an old trick but it worked both the perusing TIEs were now in front of Acara and in his sights. Letting a volley of fire off Acara turned slightly to the left, allowing him to pursue the now damaged and only adversary left. Acara quickly caught up with the craft and fired watching the fighter being consumed in a fireball.
The lid of the flight simulator popped open and Acara climbed out of his seat. Turning to face the officer present there he gave him a glance. The officer brought out a Datapad to record the orders he knew were coming.
Acara’s voice was level as he spoke, “Still too easy. Have all flight simulation flown with… let me see… Double opponents and give the opponents’ craft double normal weapon strength. That should improve some of our TIE detachments flying.”
Rayden waited for a nod of confirmation before walking out of the room and heading for the Star’s bridge.
It was all silence in that star dotted void. No walls, no restraints, nothing at all to impede the movements. Or even to impede floating thoughts...
It sure was like meditating to Battlemaster Scithe when he was on his Zero-Gravity Gear. Just him, the 0GG, as he liked to call it, and void. The suit fitted him well and carried various of his much needed tools for those things like sattelite fixing, one thing he had to do way too often those days. Afterall, whose idea it was to put the sat relay system near an asteroid belt?!
Well... Yes, he could just dump another technician to do that work for him, but he rather waste a little more time floating around, not even the sound of the jet thrusters to bother his mind. And the Quaestor would trust no other tech after all the efford she spent on the new comm protocols she helped develop. Scithe was somewhat proud of their "offspring" too, and was always finding time to polish and tune the hardware.
The open hatch was visible under the structure of the Obsidian, and Scithe jumped out of his reverie into it. He was supposed to report back to Sildrin some minutes ago and could almost touch the angry aura emanating from the planet's surface.
He was soon seated on the comm room, the 0GG helmet resting near the display. "Battlemaster Scithe to Sepros Palace. Requesting contact with Quaestor Xia Long."
The calmness of the voice could not hide some dissatidfaction. "Scithe, you are late."
"Yeah, I know. I needed to be sure." He countered.
"What did you find?" Concern was palpable.
"Absolutely nothing. They are as smooth as new. If something is rigged, it's the software. I managed to get a backup from the EPROMs for you."
Puzzlement seemed to fill the Quaestor. "How can it be? I checked it all from here. Twice!"
"I say you. The boards are intact. Not even a solder moved. Besides, you are the codebreaker, not me." Scithe stated with cold certainty.
"If you say so, I have to take it. But how can they relay information from inside the system without the automatic redirect catching it?"
Scithe stopped for a time as if thinking. "Well, one can beam the message out by hyperspace, but it would need either a very precise aiming and a very good reception system at the edge of the system or they are carrying it physically out. Either way they would need to avoid the main buildings' areas to evade radar detection."
"Then we lock the place down and shut them, in or out." Sildrin concluded.
The shuttle emerged from hyperspace with a shudder, slowing almost to a stop, it began its journey to Sepros. As it approached the planets atmosphere a squadron of TIE's appeared, its target sights firmly set on the alien vessel.
"This is base command, you will shutdown your engines and prepare to be boarded"
Sitting in the cockpit of the shuttle was Sith Battlemaster Godo Nurok, a now wanted criminal who had abandoned his mission as a Blackguard in the hope of finding answers. He was nursing another raging headache with gentle circular motions on his temples. He stopped at the hail, fingering a button on the console, he responded.
"This is Sith Battlemaster Godo Nurok, Black Guard of Naga Sadow seeking permission for landing." He promptly returned to dealing with the pain in his head, waiting patiently for clearence.
"You will shutdown your engines or you will be fired upon!"
What the hell was going on Godo wondered with considerable frustration. First he is sent out to track down missing munitions, the next he's fending off an assassination attempt apparently authorised by the Consul and now his own Clan were threatening to shoot him from the skies should he approach.
"Commander, not that I wish to question your diligence but I do hold authority. Permit me to land or I will see your head on a silver plater!"
A moments silence "You will be escorted to the following co-ordinates, any deviation and you will be fired upon. Uploading to your nav computer now."
The shuttle was led down, through the planets atmosphere and into the bright sunny skies of Sepros. Skimming over the jungle cannopy the shuttle along with its TIE escorts finally came into sight of Naga Sadows headquarters. The TIE's peeled off allowing the shuttle to fold its wings and land unhindered.
Once down the loading ramp slowly released with a soft hiss and the dark form of Godo Nurok stalked out, his face normerly passive and unreadible now one of rage and utter frustration. The deck officer came to meet him, clicked his heels together and saluted. A few paces behind were a squad of heavily armed security officers, their weapons drawn and ready.
"Though honoured to receive such a welcoming commitee I would dearly love to know what the hell is going on!"
The officer cleared his throat "I have been instructed to escort you to the briefing room at once."
Godo sighed "Very well, I would appreciate some answers."
And with that he was led off with the security personnel falling into step behind the Battlemaster.
Kat sat at her desk and stared into space. The tension in the hallways was overwhelming. After spending the afternoon in the bar, and watching the people sit and scowl, or only whisper to each other, she had to get away. Normally tending bar would give her information. Today it didn’t seem to help any.
The sanctity of her office didn't relieve her stress. Mass confusion and distrust had spread across Marka Ragnos, and the sectoring of people into little factions didn't seem to help matters. Somehow, everyone needed to get on the same page. Or someone had to find some new information.
Unfortunately, her Aedile was hiding somewhere… something about Raidoner again. He seemed almost obsessed. And her apprentices were gone, as far as she could tell. Korras was trying to direct from afar, which didn't seem to help with contradictory direction, and Manesh seemed to have disappeared. That left her.
The mistress pulled out her whip, mindlessly tapping the tip on her desk as her emerald eyes blankly stared at the wall, her thoughts wrapped up in how to best pull the house together. It might be best if I called a meeting of the battle team leaders... they should be able to help keep things calm, if I can calm them. Since they have disappeared, that might be my next best option.
A noise pulled her from the revere. Looking up, she noticed her apprentice in the doorway. "Shouldn't you have a partner, Eragon?" As she noticed his excited face, she continued, "What's going on?"
The apprentice rushed through his tale, which seemed rather long and drawn out, but the Archpriestess realized his excitement as he explained about the tunnels.
Thoughtfully, the Quaestor smiled. "Let's get the battle team leaders together then. Eragon - go find Lucius. I will call Shikyo, Imperial, and Shaung Long here. Maybe I can even get Shimura to help out, as I'm not sure where Imperial is."
As the apprentice delayed for a moment, she cracked the whip. Jumping, he scurried out, heading to find Lucius. Nodding as the door closed behind Eragon, she hoped this would help things, instead of causing mass confusion. Next, she would need to contact Xia-Long, and see what she knew. Lucius was one of her house members. Something told Kat that she might have more information.
Shimura groaned as his old time friend asked him where he needed him. The Sith made the motion to follow as they continued down the halls, feeling the presence of Zak somewhere on planet. A chirping noise abruptly called the zabrak out of his thoughts. Extracting his holoreceiver from his robes he flicked it on, producing the Archpriest, Kat Pridemore.
“Shimura, I can’t find Imperial, do you know where she is?”
“Your best guess is as good as mine.”
“You’re no help.” She said frustratingly.
“Yea, well uh, I’m a tad bit busy right now. Do you need something?”
“What are you doing?”
“Following up a lead…”
“Ah, well, since you’re the closest thing I have to a commander right now, I need your assistance. Can you come to Tarthos?”
“Maybe once I’m done destroying Zak, and assuming that Xia will open the shuttle doors again.”
“Exactly, Shimura out.”
The Sith put the projector/receiver back into his robes and continued walking down the halls. Macron looked to his cousin and started talking. “I feel him around here somewhere, maybe we should split up?”
“Yea, do that, Callus go with Macron, and if you have to, restrain the loon from torturing Zak before I get there.”
“Will do Xhed.”
“Shim, you’re the biggest kill joy I know.”
Shimura shrugged as the went their separate ways, the Battlemaster heading the check out the cantina while he had no idea where the other two where going. He was getting antsy, he wanted to hurt something and hurt it bad. It was about time they knew what was going on.
Imperial thinks to herself, Sure, I finally get use to everything around here and all hell has to breaks loose. Watches as everyone gathers, and listens, to the opening conversations, glad that no one seemed to notice her ‘just in the nick of time’ arrival. The word “Partners” was obviously not only on her mind, but on every one else’s mind as well. Here they all were, expected to trust each other, as they were all clansman, and at the same time told to be cautious and suspicious of everyone. Some brotherhood…trust no one.
She could see the odd looks people gave each other as they looked around. Some people looked to possible partners, to their friends and colleges, but you could still see the hint of betrayal, and hurt, in their eyes.
Sure, I don't know anyone as it is; find a partner… like that will be easy. Crosses her arms and scans the crowd looking for someone she might possibly know, and yet at the same time looking for someone she doesn’t. Keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer.
Steam floated across the T-visor of Zaknafein's Mandalorian armor, briefly shrouding everything in a white mist. Anxiety chewed at the ends of his mind, relieved only by the thought that Naga Sadow superiors must not have been notified of his actions yet. However, he couldn't bank on this for long, and had to make good his escape, that is, if he chose.
Shadow had better be nearby whenever we do get there. I’d hate for something to happen to his new “friend.” Mandalore thought viciously.
Checking his chrono, he saw that it was again time to check-in with Command, so he motioned for Lucius to do the same. They paused and sent in their information and resumed their walk down the dank hallway.
"Zak, are you sure this is the correct way?" Lucius whispered.
The armored Chiss spun around and snarled "I live in the dungeon area, and as such, it takes a little while to get there!!"
Touchy, touchy. Lucius thought.
He kept his eyes fixed on the sky blue blaster bolt ridden cape and Kama (Skirt worn by ARC Troopers), trying to fight off the feeling of deja veu. The stench more than anything told him that they were moving through the sewers, and the faintest of breezes told him that they were going up, not down.
From the way the Chiss's shoulders were moving, Lucius could tell he was fiddling with something on his armor. A few moments later a soft plunk of something hitting the fetid water echoed down the passage.
This all looks far too familiar to be merely a dream I had.
A loud clang! of duraplast on steel, followed by low swearing broke the silence between the two Naga Sadow members.
Before Lucius could ask anything about it, they were moved on, taking up a brisk jog instead of the cautious walk they had adopted when they first entered the sewers.
Obviously he knows where we’re going. But why all the secrecy? This just doesn’t add up. He’s up to something and I’ll be damned if I help him, knowingly or not.
Lucius’s train of thought was broken as he spied what looked like torches flaming a little way up the walkway. Reaching by his waist he pulled his deadly vibroblade from its holster and moved to attack his former partner.
Just before he could bring the knife under the back of Zak’s helmet, the cold muzzle of a blaster pressed against the base of his skull.
“Hands where I can see them, and no funny stuff.” a modulated voice growled at him.
Lucius had no choice but to comply as he now had both his unknown assailant’s blaster against his head and Zaknafein’s DC-11 aimed at him.
“Zak, what the hell? You could be executed for this!”
The impersonal helmet regarded him for a moment, then the Chiss spoke.
“Lucius, I was a dead man the moment I stepped foot back on Naga Sadow turf with the intentions I had. Do you not think this has weighed on my mind since day one?”
His head tilted a fraction of an inch as if he were listening to something very soft.
“Feirfeck. Shadow, we need to finish quickly. My former Master and his partner are intent on hunting me down for whatever information I have. It is critical at this point that they not get their hands on it. Should they capture me, do not hesitate to kill me. The harm I carry within my mind could damn many people should it fall into the hands of those two.”
“Fine. However, I don’t intend to let one of my best mercenaries fall to the likes of them.”
Zaknafein’s anger was evident in his tone. “Do not underestimate them. Let’s get moving before they figure out where I’m at.”
Turning to his captive, Shadow hissed. “Make no mistake, we will kill you if you do anything stupid. So, be a good boy, and you might get out of this alive.”
Mandalore grabbed Lucius’s arm after he was handcuffed and marched him at gunpoint after the robed and hooded shadow.
“Report!” Acara barked the command as he walked onto the Sapphire Star’s bridge.
A nearby bridge officer turned round and walked over to speak with the Flight leader. “Not much happening sir. We maintain combat readiness. Noticed system traffic includes the launch of two ships from ground base one of which was identified as belonging to the Rollmaster followed after a short gap by one with Aedile Malisane on board. The ground base hanger is now under lockdown by the order of Queastor Xia-Long.”
Acara gave a slight nod before he next spoke, “Not much seems to be out of the ordinary with those ship launches. However I am curious as to what Malisane is doing, we had to shutdown security in a hanger for a Delta Shuttles arrival earlier. Transmit an encoded message to Sildrin, ask for any available information to the state of affairs down there. Oh… Make sure all Sapphire ships are ready for an immeadiate launch I don’t want to be caught napping up here, particularly with the way things are going.”
“Yes sir.” The bridge officer turned round and retreated to carry out his orders.
“Helm, move us completely out of the planets atmosphere into a wide orbit. I want to be able to make a hyperspace jump at a moments notice if we have to.” Acara directed his gaze out into space as the Sapphire star was raised into a higher orbit around the planet.
Draken sighed as he lay on his back on the soft bed cover in his room. The Valheru silently wishing he knew more about the clan and had the authorisation to do something usefull for the clan. Usually he had his friend Archean to watch his back, the one he startted in the DB with in the same time and who was his best friend. Now the Valheru was alone, to await his destiny as it was about to unfold himself.
He had been appointed to a battle team, the thought of this brought him back to Daemoni, a battle team in tarentum he had led when he was still there. The thoughts of Ylith didn't feel important to Draken. The spirit of his former host was still there, but more in counsil rather than actually being there.
Draken pushed himself up grabbing his prized Valheru sword gently, the blue flame aura gently stroking the sword and engulfing his hand. The flame was soothing, a gentle heat like a gently touch glimmered onto his hand, the bluish flame casting light into the darkened room.
His red lizard like eyes were watching the blade carefully, the ancient weapon was the Obelisk's pride and anyone offending it or touching it without his permission. Suddenly a bleep echoed through the still empty room of Draken.
*Draken-Korin, you are to report to Ashia, your Battle Team Leader at once.*
Draken smiled silently and dressed himself in the robes that made him famous, a blue trench coat with underneath a very old fashined suit. He looked like he wore a suit that used to be worn by blue bloods in the time before space travel. The interest in the elder times made Draken famous.
The Valheru walked towards the door and opened it, moving trough the base heading towards Ashia, ready to join his fellow team members.
When he walked along the corridor he checked his lightsaber and fastened the belt that kept the holder of the Valheru Sword onto his back.
"Lets see what this is all about..."
Talon was awaken from his meditative sleep by alarms going off all over the Agony. Coming to full alertness he swore in huttese. Halfway to Antei they had been dragged out of hyperspace by an interdictor and two beat up looking dreadnaughts. The later were already dispensing their two squadrons of fighters which were mostly imperial but had a mix of a few others combined in. Spinning his ship into a three sixty flat spin, he checked his sensors for Derev. He was already hightailing it out of the interdictors gravity shadow. Knowing that the Warrior needed time to make it out to accomplish his mission, Talon dove headlong into the enemy formation, quad blasters firing red hot destruction at the people who dared to piss him off.
Derev looked at his sensors and sighed. Talon was doing the typical Talon thing...rushing headlong into battle. Well he knew why the Battlelord was doing it and he wasn't going to waste the opportunity. Dumping lasers and shields into his engines he leaped forward gunning the ship for all it was worth.
Derev was scared for the first time. What we're interdictors doing here of all places. Several thoughts jumped through his head...but none appeared to make sense. His paranoia was running high.
"Talon, Im out of range, get your ass out of there!" Derev yelled into his comm panel
"I'll meet you at the rendevous if I ...[static]" Talon's transmission was cut off.
Derev reached deep into the force, and was relieved to find Talon still alive, simply missing a communications array.
A short hour later, Talon arrived at the rendevous point, and found Derev waiting. After putting down thier ships, Derev shared the communique with Talon.
"Look what came across the holonet" Derev said, handing Talon the message
"Good lord" Talon replied, after reading the message "Looks like we'll have a war afterall"
"Indeed" Dereb replied, "But we must find a way back to Orian..I must contact the Master at Arms" Derev stated, and walked to his fighter.
Malisane and Xayun sat in the cockpit of the firespray, Malisane piloting and Xayun carefully watching the display of Derev's tracking device.
"Message coming through Mali." The Clan Envoy reported.
"What does it say?" Malisane replied.
"The six Consuls have blamed the entire recent events on the Dark Council and are threatening to declare war on Antei."
Malisane considered this. "Wow what a strange and unexpected turn of events. I appreciate I'm not an expert on strategy but it seems like a somewhat insane idea, considering how much strength the Dark Council has compared to the Clans, plus they're going to have difficulty suddenly convincing the Clans to attack the Council considering the general level of confusion this is likely to cause."
"Indeed," Xayun replied, "well what shall we do?"
"I don't know," Malisane replied, "with these developments obviously pursuing Derev has become completely pointless as he's clearly innocent, so I guess we may as well make oour way back to Sepros."
"Fair enough," Xayun agreed.
A bleeping sound emerged from within the trench coat of the Valheru. When he took the small communicator out of his pocket he sighed silently. Who would contact me at this hour? Draken thought as he checked the communicator to find there was only a text based message. When he held it in his hand and read it his eyes widened. The clans are all staging a war against the Dark Council? Are they out of their mind? Draken thought when he read the message. He stopped for a moment then thought about that he could do. The message came from the Grand Master Royal Guard, giving him orders to cease the growing corruption of the Clan Summits.
Draken stood silently for a moment, deep within thought and not clearly knowing what to do. Already banished from two clans was not a very helpfull thing to have written onto you when getting such orders to stop a clan summit. The Valheru shook his head for a moment, pushing away the past as he now faced a dilemma not often found. He moved on towards Ashia, Leader of the Jade Serpents. After she told him what their plan was he would probably have enough knowledge to find a way to stop this madness.
Draken, when you find Korras I suggest you talk to him. I know him because he once was the Obelisk High Commander, he repects the opinions of Obelisks and I am sure he would listen to you, even if we were banished twice. Ylith whispered into Draken's mind. The Valheru narrowed his eyes, his mind wandering about searching for answers. Draken opened his eyes and approached the point where he was supposed to meet Ashia. They aren't direct orders, they can wait for a few minutes. After I am done here I will seek out Korras and hope this can end better than the destruction of the brotherhood... Draken thought and he opened the door the the meeting room. The Jade Serpents were all present and Draken turned to Ashia.
"Obelisk Templar Draken-Korin Elariël reporting for duty."
“What the hell….” Acara looked down at the datapad containing the message the Sapphire Star had just received. “Ensign, take a copy of this to Flight Leader Sin and Commander Revenant Immediately.” Seeing a nod of approval from the ensign Acara looked back out to space. What was going on, the Consuls ganging up on the DC, suicide.
The ensign who took the pads to Eldrad Sin and Revenant returned after a short while and handed another Data device to Acara. Shaking his head slightly after reading it’s contents Acara walked over to the Communications terminal and sat down, bringing up the battleteam’s encrypted channel to all Sapphire members.
Transmission from the Sapphire Star, encrypted frequency
By the order of Commander Revenant with the permission of Queastor Long:
As you are aware the Consul of our clan has recently made a move for war on the Dark Council. As aggressive acts towards the DC would effectively mean our deaths, it has been deemed that Consul Korras is a traitor to the Clan. You are hereby ordered to arrest Korras Immediately. This is neither a drill nor a Joke. All messages to and from the Sapphire Star should be made on encrypted Channels.
Flight Leader Acara Rayden Mandalore
Acara pushed the command to send and stood back up. This was just getting worse and worse.
Derev and Talon came out of hyperspace in the Orion System, finding themselves in the middle of what could easily turn into a civil war.
"What the hell?" Talon declared, to no one in particular.
"I don't know" replied Derev.
Derev watched his sensors..seeing a net of fighters running sorties over the Sadow Palace. Ground forces surrounded the Sadow Palace.
Derev opened a secure channel
"Blacksheep to Blue Leader, Blacksheep to Blue Leader, Come In Blue Leader"
"This is Blacksheep"
"What the hell is going on Master?" Derev asked
"It seems some of the clan has a mind to arrest me" Korras responded, a combatful laughter in his voice.
"How can I help Master?" Derev replied
Korras began outlining his plan, and Derev listened carefully.
"Oh hell, I've already been arrested once this week" Derev replied
Derev communicated the plan to Talon, and began contacting certain people in the Clan he knew were loyal to Korras. The plan was made, and they set to rendevous outside of Korras' quarters.
Korras yelled in an ancient tounge as he continued to fire his blasters at the pesky intruders. For a little over twenty minutes, several equites and journeymen had tried to gain access to Korras' quarters, but neither side made much progress. Korras grinned as another Hunter fell to a heap on the ground
"Get me now, traitors!" he yelled at the equites he knew were outside his door, but who haden't yet figured plan to arrest him. Korras fingered his lightsabres, and his array of other weapons quick to hand. He knew the hard part of this haden't come yet, but he waited just the same.
The Deathshead left hyperspace into the Sepros system. Xayun sat in the co-pilots chair, monitoring communications. "There's a mess on the planet, Korras is holed up, Sildrins forces have the Sadow palace surrounded but Korras is keeping them out."
Malisane nodded quietly. "We'll make for the Sapphire Star."
"We've got Derev on sensors now, we can catch him when he lands." Xayun pointed out.
Malisane shook his head. "Nope." Xayun looked at him but didn't say anything.
The firespray docked in the hangar and the ramp descended. Xayun looked at Malisane. "We'd better find Rev or one of the flight leaders."
"You do that Xayun, I've brought you here to your squadron. I'm out of here."
"To the planet?" Xayun asked.
Malisane shook his head. "I'm off back to Aeotheran."
Xayun stared at him. "Why?"
"I'm done with this Xayun. It's got stupid. What happens now? They capture Korras? He kills a load of them and escapes? The Dark Council send a fleet and annihlate us? This is a situation where no-one wins Xayun, a few scores get settled. Then what? I'm out of here."
Xayun nodded. "Fair enough."
"Good luck Xayun." Malisane said and watched the Envoy walk down the ramp.
A few minutes later Deathshead left the Star and entered hyperspace, bound for the Ludo Kressh World.
Shimura plopped himself down on a nearby stool. The search of the cantina resulted in nothing as a chirp emitted from his datapad. He reached for it expecting it to be a message from Macron saying he found him. He probed the force and felt Zak nearby still, but not with Macron. He looked down at the datapad and punched a few buttons in. His jaw dropped as he read the message.
“What in the name of….”
Shimura snatched the holoprojecter from his waist and set it down on the counter in front of him. He flicked the button on as he waited for a response from his cousin. Callus and Macron appeared in front of him with their arms crossed. Their faces painted the picture for him, they had just found out about what had happened too.
“I see you two lovely ladies got the news too.”
“Yea….crazy…” Callus said.
“Not good Xhed. I don’t know what he was thinking.”
“Well, I don’t know either, but I’m giving up the pursuit on Zak. I’m going to Antei, you two are welcome to join me.”
“And how do you plan on getting out? Sild has the hangar on lockdown.” Macron said with a bit of inquisitive demeanor in his voice.
“By whatever means necessary.”
The young Sith Warrior stood on the steps of the Sadow Palace, alone and in Darkness. Betrayal and hatred flowed through his blood. Shrouding himself from all others around him, Derev sunk deep into meditation.
The Light pulsed in the Darkness. The Darkness was still superior, but the Light was there. This was Derev's existance. An internal battle raged, Light and Dark.
Derev probed deeper into the Force, seeing life events pass before him. The death of his parents, his initiation to the Dark Brotherhood, meeting Korras for the first time, the bridge of his Star Destroyer, the ISD Relentless, his life, and his conflicts, passed through his mind in an instant.
Suddenly, the Darkness overwhelmed the Light, and it ceased to exist. The Darkness flowed through him, and he sensed the force flow through him like it never had before. He rose, flinging his cloak from his body, feeling new outlets in the force previously unknown to him.
Here, in the crisis surrounding the Brotherhood, Derev arose, for the first time in his existance fully embracing the Dark Side. He felt powerful, he felt greed, he felt jealousy.
Deep in the force, Derev called for his Master, and found him. Korras felt nothing new, had no reason to doubt thier plan, had no reason to suspect a thing from his apprentice.
Suddenly, Derev felt powerful..overwhelmingly powerful. He wavered, barely able to stand, as power flowed through him. The link with his Master was now stronger. Derev removed his comm device, keying in a channel.
"It is done" Derev spoke to Sildrin, and put the device back in his robes.
Derev walked to the door of the Sadow Palace, feeling Korras' powers surging through him, as Korras lay on the floor of his quarters, feeling empty, agonizing at the loss of the force within himself. Never before had the Adept transfered his powers, never did he imagine how empty he would feel without them. The downsides of Force Transfer were quickly becoming aparant to him.
Two Prelates at the doors of the palace drew thier sabres.
"You are under arrest Derev" one of them spoke.
"I believe you are mistaken, now move!" Derev replied
"You're dreaming Derev" the second guard spoke, as he rose his Sabre.
Derev laughed, and waved his hands at the two Obelisk, has a short burst of Force Lightning flew at the Prelates. As the Prelates fell to the ground, Derev screamed in agonizing pain. His fingers were black and burnt. He suddenly realized the danger of his situation. He had amazing powers, but lacked the ability to use them effectively.
Derev stared at his hands, scorched, melted skin, was all he saw.
Filled with anger, Derev made his way through the halls of the Sadow Palace, to the hallway outside of Korras' quarters.
Awaiting him in the hallway, between his Consul and Master, were over a dozen of his comrades, all of whom instantly ignited thier sabres, and stared at the robed figure.
"Derev!" one of the Knights announced, barely believing his eyes. Before him was indeed the person they had known as Derev..but he was not the same person. His eyes were blackened, his face has changed, and his hands we're mere burnt nubs of skin.
"Out of my way!" Derev yelled.
Many of the younger Knights moved, feeling as if a Sith Lord was commanding them. The older Equites however held thier ground, and prepared for a fight.
Red light flashed through Derev's eyes, as he felt his masters prescense inside the room.
"MOVE" Derev said again. This time more threatening.
Two Warriors drew thier blades, but Derev was too quick. Thier sabres flew across the room, falling harmlessly to the ground.
The Warrior was interrupted as Derev flung the bodies in the hallway against the bulkhead with a massive telekinetic strike. His brethern looked at him with disbelief in thier eyes. Derev drew his sabre, and looked at them as if to say 'Get up and fight me'. No one did.
Derev walked into the room, seeing his master on the ground, and sensing his master's urging to return the power. Suddenly, Derev waivered, not wanting to lose his new found powers. Korras felt the betrayal at once, and realized his great peril. He had given Derev too much of his power, and was unable to force it back. He was at the mercy of his apprentice.
"Now, I am the Master" Derev said, as he slowly began to circle Korras on the ground. Derev began to inflict pain on his Master, merely by thought. Korras squirmed in agony on the ground, slowing slipping away.
"Stop...plea..ssee.eeee....st.." Korras pleaded, and suddenly stopped, falling into unconsciousness. The Quaestor of the First House ran into the room, only to sense Derev fall over lifelessly, no signs of anything...nothing.
Sildrin stood over her Consul, relieved to find he wasen't dead as she feared, merely unconscious. As she turned her head to Derev, she sensed a different fate. She probed into him, finding only the most rudimentary signs of life. The force was utterly gone from him, his brain appeared dumb to her..nothing was there.
The black exotic liquid slipped down his throat immediately giving him a burning sensation that travelled to his stomache and spread. Godo put the glass down and savoured the taste for a moment and considered all that had happened. Things were getting out of hand, the fear, the hate and distrust were now rife. It wasn't unusual, indeed being a Dark Jedi invited these base emotions but what was so startling was the sudden and dramatic onset. From the lowest Novice to the most prestigous Consul, anarky was no ruling.
Taking a more liberal sip he leaned back on his chair and watched the data screen, mounted just above the Cantina's bar. It scrolled all manner of propeganda and news of strikes 'committed against our soverign Clan'. Bombings, assassinations and disappearences were on the rise. Open war was now threatening to seize and consume the Dark Brotherhood.
He went for a third sip and stopped half way to his mouth, his eyebrow raised in surprise then lowered his glass. The low murmers of his fellow clansmen had also died away into silence. All attention was now directed on the news screen as it flashed up, Open war had indeed been declared and more shocking still the Naga Sadow Consul, Korras had been taken into custody.
Godo downed his drink and left, heading for his quarters. He didn't stop for idle conversation, nor did he attempt to contact his Quaestor in the vain hope for answers. The place was now under martial rule, guards openly carried their weapons, everyones ID was being double checked and all vital routes were heavily patrolled. The state of paranoia had reached new heights.
Upon reaching his quarters he immediately accessed the comm network hoping to reach some old friends, to his dismay most channels had been locked out. Even his Black Guard privilages were useless, no doubt suspicon would fall squarely on himself, he was afterall a former elite guard in Taldryan and of course of prominent Quaestor of Plagueis, one of Naga Sadows most hated enemies.
He tried using his knowledge of security and infiltration to get an outside line but his efforts merely locked him out of the comms altogether. He approached his secure locker and with a slow wave of his hand the secure bolts released with a gentle hiss, opening out to reveal his robes and combat suit. A black velvet cushion cradled his beloved lightsaber and hanging nearby was his long black cloak.
"I guess we go to war" Godo mused outloud.
Eragon paused just before entering the tunnels. What was down there? Was it a human or a hominoid? If so, was it the terrorist that the consul was looking for? The young Protector considered going back and getting someone, but decided against it. It was better to find out (and capture if possible) what had mind wiped Lucius. He drew his Sith Sword for reassurance, and climbed down the cold metal ladder. He did not know that two other people were watching and following him.
Eragon scanned the floor of the tunnels for any sign or clue of Lucius being here. Sure enough, there were steady footprints of someone walking away from the entrance of the tunnel, and footprints indicating that someone ran back.
“Why am I always the one who gets these dangerous missions?” he thought.
He headed onwards, following the footprints as his guide.
Bats screeched overhead and rocks pounded against the ground, blocking the Protector’s path. A damp, putrid smell wafted from the ends of caverns that lay ahead. As he walked, Eragon used the Force to find life forms ahead of him. He found none.
The footprints finally came to a stop. Then, they turned around.
“Why stop here and turn around.” Eragon wondered.
The answer came to him in a flash: something had happened here. He looked down, and saw a piece of red cloth. Bending down, the Protector picked up the shimmering tatter. It was smooth. It was part of a cloak. And Lucius was not wearing a red cloak. Someone else had been here.
“Knock him out, Malisane.” A gruff voice commanded.
The figure behind the Protector swung the hilt of a lightsaber and connected it to Eragon’s head. Pain exploded inside the Protector’s head, and everything went dark.
suddenly, Korras' eyes flared open. all those around him suddenly felt the force absent from the area, and themselves choked. "good. now I have you all here, lets talk. you can either listen, or simply die trying to attack me. am I understood?", he asked coldly, as he let them go, still blocking the force out of them.
"for one, let's make one thing understood. you will need a lot more then this if you are to take me on. I let myself be taken, I needed you here. I needed to talk to you. for one, this will not be suicide. no war was declared, at least not yet. a demand for answers was ensued. and we have one thing to tip the balance.. Lord Kane. do not think these decisions are made easily. a suicide war will not be declared. and the Council knows that. they will now be under alert, and just as hard at work to find and supply answers. if they are not.. Jac can answer to Kane. and as powerful as Jac might be, it will be over shortly if he fights Kane. the entire war will be over fast. now, does anyone still want to kill me, or can we return to preparing again?"
Callus had heard the word he wanted to hear, "War". The clans were going to war. Callus had been itching for an all out conflict for a long time he knew he wanted to spill the blood of an Arconan or two before the conflict was over. He dropped his hand to his lightsaber and felt the cool hilt against his skin as his comlink beeped.
He activated the comm and it was Godo Nurok.
"Callus here." Callus grunted into his comlink
"Callus, it's Godo are you busy?"
"Busy? Does getting ready to spill some blood count as busy?" Callus said with a smile on his face. Godo laughed on the other end of the channel and told Callus he'd meet him in the sith's quarters and that Godo still owed Callus that drink. Callus told Godo to have his lomin ale cold when he got there.
He shut off the comlink and nodded to the others as he made his way to the cantina. Callus knew that if Godo needed to talk to him then it was definately important. Godo had taught Callus the in's and out's of leadership during his time as Aedile of House Exar Kun. Callus and Godo had an interesting relationship. They were thrust togeather when the Clans merged and had gone from enimies to friends almost overnight.
He let himself remember the first time they'd met Callus had just beat the stuffing out of a member of House Exar Kun and Godo had grabbed Callus by the scruff of his neck and bashed his nose in. Since then Callus had the utmost respect for Godo since that moment and knew that if Godo had somthing to say it was important. He saw the Sith sitting at a comm terminal in his room.
"So what's so important boss?"
Sometimes it is necessary to step away and look to the situation from a distance if one is to see the whole picture. Most of it, everyone is just too close to realise the obvious, even when it's facing them.
It was really a huge work trying to sort all the encoded messages that went in and out of the relay stations, but Scithe finally was able to put most of it together in a logical order. Now he needed to warn someone who would listen and, maybe, help him convince the others.
The long-range scanners blinked as the Deathshed entered Aeotheran's orbit. Scithe ran for the comm link and barked for some response.
"Deathshed, this is Obsidian space control. Do you copy?"
The signal came clear to the display. "Deathshed to Aeotheran base control. This is Aedile Malisane approaching Kressh fortress. Someone give me clearance for landing quick or I'll smack my way in."
Scithe tried to be more incisive. "Hey Malisane. It's me, Scithe. I need to talk to you. And I need it now."
"What's it now? I'm in a bit of a hurry here. More news from those crazed people?" Malisane replied already impatient.
"Do you have a problem?! Can't you see where all this stuff is leading us?" Scithe yelled to make him point.
"Yes, I can see I'm full of those twits and I'm going home to fend off anything that sprays down my way." The Aedile was quick to answer.
Scithe tried one last time. "Hey dumb, someone is trying to stage a coup against the Dark Council. And it's using the clans as battering rams! Maybe luring every combat capable vessel and individual to a single location in hopes that we decimate ourselves."
"So what? I'm not going to be slaughtered, doesn't matter in the name of who." Malisane seemed skeptical.
"We can do nothing and wait here while the survivors hunt us down one by one for the treason of not joining them or we can call back our forces and allies and prepare catch the spider as it gets out to bite the caught flea." Scithe concluded and tensed, waiting the reply.
"... Hmm... If you're not hallucinating, this can even work." The Aedile finally answered. "If you're right, I guess I'll need to pack everyone on Aeotheran and send a message to Sapphire and Sildrin right away..."
"That was my first thought..." Scithe smiled, relieved.
Blue-white light splashed across the Orian system as the Fearless reverted to normal space. Raven reclined further in the captains seat, and the alarm to wake him up starting screaming. He tried not to break anything in the process of turning it off. Sevral pings told him he had visitors in firing range. The scanner readouts canfirmed what the viewscreens showed him, the ship had no viewports, the two TIEs forming around him were Sapphires.
"Fearless, what is your destination? You have twenty seconds to comply." barked his comm unit.
"What has gotten into this bunch now?" Raven grumbled to himself. He keyed in the comm, "I'd like to see you try to stop me. This is Hunter Raven. I'm headed to Sepros. Or do you have a problem with that too? And who is this anyway?"
"This is Sapphire Star. You can keep on going, but you are going to have to keep the escort." Raven couldn't exactly make out the voice coming through the comlink. He checked it to the ship's computer database. Acara Rayden.
"Acara, ok, I thought you were just another mindless drone following orders. Good to talk to someone I know, if only veagly. I got a summons to return to Orian immediatly. What the hell is going on?"
"I'm sending you a bundle of news you can read on your way down. Don't do anything stupid." he said flatly, and killed the link.
It didn't take Raven long to read the news. He was dumbfounded. This was insane! Black Guard arrested, then released, Clans declare war on the Dark Council. He got to the last line. Korras under arrest and surrounded by Ludo Kressh forces. "NO. OH NO." Raven threw the paper down. "No way in hell are they going to put Korras under arrest while I'm alive!" He clasped his masamune to his belt and threw his cloak over him as the ship landed in the Sepros hangar. He marched out of the Fearless and into the hangar bay. Things were bad, and from the looks of things, they were about to get worse. Raven grimaced.
Callus marched into the quarters of Godo, keen to get some answers if there were any to gain but also to meet an old friend. Upon entering he saw the familiar figure of Godo Nurok, former Quaestor and warrior. Despite being so familiar he was also so different. He had lost weight, his large muscular bulk had been replaced with a thin and pale shape. Even the flesh about his face seemed to have shrunk making his skull seem all the more obvious. Despite his appearence of a frail human there was also a power about him, the light about him seemed to dim and a perceivable aura of hate and untold bitterness seemed to pulse out from his friend. He wore robes of black about an equally black combat suit with a cloak lined with crimson draped off his shoulders and in clear view was his lightsaber.
"So, what's so important boss?" Callus spoke with a wicked grin
Rising to his feet slowly Godo extended an arm, Callus seized it firmly and they both grinned, old friends reunited.
"My apologies for not meeting up with you sooner but I've been pre-occupied with settling in."
Callus made a dismissive gesture before responding "Just glad to finally see you again, Black Guard too? Same old Godo. So learnt anything?"
Godo sat down and gestured to a seat opposite which Callus took. Reaching across his desk he lifted a large urn
"No thanks Godo, had enough of your 'tonics' to last a life time"
He shook his face slowly, removing the stopper in the top and upending the urn. A small crumpled piece of parchment fell out, rolling across the table and gently coming to a stop. "I no longer find much pleasure in drink, food or life for that matter old friend. I am traveling along a dark path, one which I fear I shall travel alone. Regardless this urn has followed me around for quite sometime."
Callus regarded the large turqoise urn with interest. "It's different, how old is it? Stole it from Korriban?"
Godo merely chuckled "No, no. I bought it from a local merchant on some far flung world. It's completely worthless."
Reaching across the desk Callus picked up the small piece of parchment and began unrolling it. "Is this what you wanted me to see? A piece of scrap paper."
"A lot is happening and there is little doubt that someone within this Clan is pulling the strings. This entire place is falling apart, misdirection and shadow play. I should know from my work alongside Grand Master Chi Long. This is different though, its pandemic and it's spreading rapidly. Despite my accomplishments I am an outsider here and few will trust me, I am afterall a former member of Clan Plagueis. You on the other hand, are a different matter."
Callus nodded, understanding.
"What do you need?"
"I fully expect further attempts on myself and quite possibly against the leadership in this Clan. I can do nothing to prevent or effect the outcome. But I am not completely blunted." Godo gestured to the piece of parchment that Callus clutched before continuing "I owe you Callus, on that piece of paper are the hidden arts I learnt from Clan Taldryan plus one or two other little tricks. I am going to keep close to our Quaestor so I may at least learn something. You have a better chance to succeed than I do."
Frowning Callus slowly rose to his feet "I understand, I'll see what I can learn. People are already disappearing. No one has seen Eragon for hours not to mention some of the Clan summit. I'll do some digging, see what I can find out."
Once Callus had left, Godo made straight for Sil, Quaestor of Ludo Kressh. He would of course offer his services for whatever they were worth and hopefully learn something useful.
The drums of both armies rumbled through the slight breeze as both hosts neared each other. Draken watched from the most forward position, a small hill in the middle of the grass field where the battle would be likely to take place. Draken breathed deeply as he held his sword with pride, the newly made weapon being ready to collect his blood to activate the ancient alchemy, an offer of some sorts. This sword would grant him immortality someday, he wondered if the ancient warlock who made it held his word before he killed him.
Draken was snapped back to the present as both drums stopped with a loud final drum, catching himself smirking broadly as he held his sword tightly. He glanced backward and he saw Argain from the distance, nodding slowly to make sure Draken got the hint. The Warlord got the hint and his smirk widened, knowing his plan was in place. Now the standard routine would take place, first there would be a sergeant from the Valkyri asking for peace and most probably be killed in the progress, after that the Valkyri will launch a full scale attack onto the Valheru host. Hiding his smirk behind his hand before getting rid of the thoughts that placed it there.
Draken shook his head and his gaze returned back into the chamber. Ashia was adressing the other members of the Battleteam and Draken watched and waited patiently before she had the time to talk to him about orders and standings. the Valheru didnt like waiting but he knew he needed it, as he knew about nothing of the Clan nor about how they operate.
He sighed silently and unnoticed and turned into his mind again, wondering why and how he suddenly got flashbacks of his past before he entered the body of Ylith Romanae, the Dark Jedi who once was. He glanced backwards to his Valheru sword and smiled slightly as he slowly began to remember his first kill with this sword, back in a time where blasters and lightsabers didnt excist yet.
As predicted, a male Valkyri warrior, Corporal by the look of it, walked towards Draken, the Valkyri had a hawk like beak and his head had feathers flat on it running backwards to his neck and partly over his shoulders. He had a light blue colour, almost cyan like and if Draken thought right than this was of the Corporal rank, since dark blue was definitely a Sergeants rank, as Draken had seen it many times before.
Secretly the Valheru warlord glanced upwards and saw that every dragon was airborne except the green ones, returning the lost smirk on his face. If his intuitions were correct, then soon there would be havoc and a major advantage within the Valheru host. As the elite warrior turned back towards the Corporal he couldn’t help to smirk like a child not willing to wait to get his present unwrapped.
”Valheru, we of the Valkyri have come to claim these lands as it belongs to us, leave now and live in gratitude of our mercy.” The Corporal said in a squeaky tone, common among the Valkyri but it annoyed Draken every time he had to listen to those pitiful rants.
”Our God, the merciful one, has offered peace and justice, we will be at peace as soon as you clear the holy land of our people.” The Corporal continued, unaware of Draken’s growing anger.
In a split second the Valheru slammed the sword trough the bird’s abdomen, silencing him from his pleads.
”I serve no God...” Draken said as he watched the Corporal being engulfed in blue flames before his last breath left him. When the flame took hold of it’s prey Draken felt a slight pull onto his mind, his head light for a moment. The wizard wasn’t lying – Draken thought. As the blood tainted the colour of the blade for a moment, the flame, though cold to the touch of one worthy of wielding it, burned away the bloodstains on the Valheru steel. As the drums started to roll and shouts filled the air Draken moved the sword back up again ready to strike.
The battle had begun
"Draken?" A female voice said suddenly and Draken shook his head before saluting to Ashia, in the Valheru way, meaning he slammed his right fist against the left side of his chest and bowed slightly.
"Miss Ashia, I am here to serve you, what may your orders be?"
“Frell, what a nerf-storm,” muttered Macron as he read the news readout. “Am I- the madman, nonetheless- the only one around here who hasn’t lost their head?’ The alchemist slammed the off key and shut the holoscreen down. “Perhaps some fun work will distract me from this nonsense.” He had returned to his lab after Callus left, seeking solace amongst the tinkling glass and bubbling fluids.
Mononoke turned to his lab table, and began examining the schemata from the greater Holocron forge he had found in the ruins of Trayus. A small twisted reddish form hopped up and down on the table, tittering “What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?” Mononoke rubbed his forehead in consternation.
Macron grabbed the homunculus by the head with one hand, and squeezed gently. “I’ll tell you what’s next, you little turd. If you don’t shut the hell up and let me think, I am going to rip off your head and sew it to your arse with rusty old barbed wire. No anesthesia.”
The small maniacal creature gulped audibly and shut up, sulking back in the corner. Macron switched on a glowlamp and began to read. It was quiet in the lab, and even the dust motes seemed to drift slowly to the floor. His thoughts raced. “Korras fighting with Kressh… Sepros locked down… the Clans massing against the DC. Madness, and for once I want no part of it.”
The sounds of blaster fire filled the halls just outside the doors of the Raptor Training Hall. Shikyo sat in the middle of the room, sipping on his sake and basking in the echoes of the war. He could hear the rumors floating in the air. Korras was attacked... Sephos on lockdown... Ludo Kressh engaged... It was sheer pandemonium and Rurouni was loving it.
Raptors entered their terrain in twos, as the entire battleteam gathered together. They were out of breth, running from wherever they were at to his location. Tsingtao was the first one to speak up.
"Shikyo, it's hell out there."
"Yeah, I noticed."
Joseem step forward, looking at his Sergeant in a puzzled way.
"What would you suggest we do?"
Shikyo looked up at him and finished the last sip of the chilled liquid. Grabbing a hold of the daisho set of the Kyataru campaign, the Sith walked towards his team.
"Right now, we await the command of our Quaestor. It's up to her on whether we bail Korras out or assist Ludo Kressh. Until we get the word, we stand still."
He could see the rage in their eyes. They were not people to just sit around while conflicts erupted all over their home. The Knight didn't like issuing the command but that's what they had to do. He would make sure that the Raptors would hold their position until other commands were given.
As soon as the thought had passed his mind, the Archpriestess entered the doors, bringing the Raptors to the tips of their toes. Many of them had hands on their weapons; Shikyo's saber ignited in a frenzy. Kat stopped just slightly ahead of the doorway, letting the doors close behind her. She let out a deep sigh of relief.
"Shikyo... I figured you'd be here."
"How goes it, Kat?"
"Pretty bad. Can't ya tell?"
"Oh, I can hear it. I just prefer to sip on sake when the poodoo hits the fan."
"Well, I need your help. I need you to put as many of these battles down as ya can. I'm requesting the rest of the House to do the same. We don't need a civil war going on here when war is at our doorsteps."
"Eh... ya gotta point. I'd rather kill a couple of Arconans more than I would one Sadowian."
"Then, you understand my concern."
The team turned toward their leader, hopeful to assist him in any means possible.
"Ya heard the lady. We gotta end this conflict and get ourselves ready for the real thing. Your objective: to neutralize any and all conflicts here in Sephos. The only thing I ask is that if there is a problem with all of Ludo Kressh, let me handle Sildrin. Is that understood?"
Rurouni smirked at his team, proud to see such fire burning within them.
"Then, let's roll with it."
A cheer of approval was enough to energize the Knight into action. He walked out with the Krath Quaestor, going in a different direction however. The Keibatsu looked down at the purple ribbon tied around his arm and prepared for the worse. With the unsheathing of his hammer, Shikyo swung at the first group of journeymen and put them to a temporary sleep.
Talon stalked the halls of the citadel towards Sildrin's quarters. His bloodlust was still high after taking on that ambush fleet and he was in the best of moods. He ran into Godo on his way and stopped in shock when he seen his close friend.
"Godo are you alright?"
Godo smiled and said, "Yes old friend I'm alright. Just about to offer my services to Sildrin."
Talon smirked, "I was just about to go chew her ass so lets go say hi together."
The two sith walked side by side and entered the young quaestors office. Talon seemed to grow taller and darker as his anger got fueled even more by seeing the quaestor. Godo ever the diplomat bowed to Sil, "How may I be of service my master?" Sil smiled at Godo.
"Always the loyal guardian. I have a mission for you and Talon." Talon glared, "I'm not so sure I'm going to be doing anything for you other then maybe slapping you around with my lightsaber. In the past two days I've almost been arrested, blown up and killed and I'm slightly annoyed."
Sildrin sighed and looked at the Battlelord, "Talon I am most truely sorry. You were used to protect Derev. We never thought you would be in so much danger. I need you and Godo to look into this plot against Korras. Somone in this clan is out to get him and I want to know who." Godo looked across at the enraged Sith and said in a calming voice,"Relax old friend we will do this together."
Talon sighed, "I'm getting to old for this."
Acara turned off the Star’s communications system with a smile, this situation had become more to him liking, the orders had changed very quickly from arrest to protective custody. At least this would put an end to the useless attempt to Take Korras that had been going on for a while. Evidence of a traitor had been pointing first one way then another and had given the Flight Leader a headache.
Seeing the end of the present problem in sight he typed in a new message to all Sildrin’s forces now around Korras.
Messege from the Sapphire Star, Encrypted frequency.
Cease all hostile activity toward our Consul immediately, there has been some form of mistake brought about by the present state of confusion within the Clan. Your new orders are to secure Korras’ office and secure against any and all intruders, any not authorised to be there should be arrested and the incident reported immediately to Korras or the Queastors and Aediles…. Manesh too if you can find him.
Also could someone do something about Derev, as I understand it he is not conscious. If all else fails to revive him threaten him with the prospect of being used in one of Macron’s experiments. I find that usually gets them back on their feet pretty quickly.
Flight Leader Acara Rayden Mandalore
End of transmission
Leaning back in his chair Acara began to think about what could possibly happen next. He hoped this might help to solve the complete mayhem in the clan recently.
Astronicus' Reach - in orbit of Tarthos
The sleek black stone surface of the sarcophagus began to split down the middle and white light began to shine out from it's interior. Soon the two halves achieved the extent of their reach and stiopped. Inside lay the body of a Sith Darkside Adept, his arms laying acrossed his chest in an X formation. He lay there motionless as a uniformed individual checked his life signs on a nearby readout. Glancing over at his master, the uniformed officer pressed a button and a stasis field surrounding the body in the sarcophagus deactivated, evident only by a brief electical shimmering around his motionless form.
"Master, pardon the disuption but I felt it necessary to take you out of stasis." Said Ximeno Chal, captain of the Astronicus' Reach
and former Sith Warrior. "Events within the Brotherhood and more importantly your Clan have necessitated your urgent attention."
"Very well," replied Lord Tron Sadow, Overlord of Clan Naga Sadow, his body remaining as it was in stasis - motionless and at rest, "bring me up to speed."
Ximeno told Tron of everything he had learned through the Brotherhood's communication network as well as through Clan Naga Sadow's. A former Quaestor himself, Ximeno was rather disgusted with the way things had been carried out, but it was neither his place nor his duty to worry about such things anymore.
Tron sat in his throne aboard the Reach
and petted his loyal tuk'ata
which was named Kril. Kril's younger sibling Farok, lay over by front viewport gazing out at the stars. Tron had come into their ownership shortly before he had gone into stasis. It was on a mission with Macron and a number of others to Yavin IV sometime back, there they had found the tuk'ata guarding an old Sadow temple. The loyal tuk'ata recognized the smell of Sadow blood flowing through Tron and attatched themselves to him. Farok was also particular to Sildrin, Quaestor of House Ludo Kressh.
"Contact Captain Nurt Andar, commander of the Tarthos Defence Line, and inform him I'll be taking the reach back to Sepros. It appears my presence is needed at Sadow Palace, perhaps I can help unite the clan and bring them to reason." Tron ordered Ximeno. "And get me Lieutenant Colonels Zeravin Disha and Malc’harno’chaf and the Holonet, they are loyalists who have served me a long time. I'll more than liekly be in need of their regiments."
Lieutenant Colonel Zeravin Disha was a Human male in command of the Armored Palace Regiment on Sepros and his counterpart, Lieutenant Colonel Malc’harno’chaf was a Chiss male in charge of the Infantry Palace Regiment on Sepros. Both had served Clan Naga Sadow for as long as Tron could remember dating back to when they were Palace Guards at the old Sadow Palace on Sif under his reign as Consul.
"Oh and Ximeno." Tron added as a final note, "You say no one knows where Manesh has disappeared to during all of the confusion? Have Lieutenant Colonel Malc’harno’chaf send out a search party for him. The Proconsul must be found, he is a leading member of the Clan Summit and should be a key priority."
The Astronicus' Reach
entered orbit of Sepros undetected thanks to it's stealth sheilding that all Vibre-class Assault Cruisers were equipped with. Boarding a shuttle of the same technology but a smaller scale than the Reach
, Tron headed to the surface of Sepros. Soon the glorious majesty of Sadow Palace was in view and his pilot set the shuttle down on a landing pad on the rooftop.
The boarding ramp descended and out strolled Dark Adept Astronicus Aurelius Sadow, former Consul and Founder of Clan Naga Sadow, Emissary of the Brotherhood Emeritus(under which title he ruled the clans as Consul of the Consuls, reporting directly to the Grand Master and his Deputy only), and Overlord of Clan Naga Sadow. He had no escorts with him, for his former Black Guard had gone on to become the Knight Commander of the Brotherhood and he had yet to appoint a successor to Siyavash Kaida, unless you counted his two pet tuk'ata as escorts.
He had arrived and would now get to the bottom of what was tearing his clan apart and setting Sons of Sadow against each other.
The Quaestor of House Ludo Kressh walked down the corridors, heading to the medical center. The words of Talon still lingered in her head and she still felt a bit sorry that he had been in quite some dangers, but she was glad that she had found such a skilful battlelord. Although his idea of slapping her around with his saber didn't appeal to her very much. He was of a rank higher than her.
Finally she reached the room where Derev was lying and she sat down next to him. His face was pale, and his brain still was an empty shell. Gently she ran a fingertip along his temple. She took a deep breath, slipping into a deep meditation as she began the search for his spirit.
It felt like hours, but only several minutes had passed when his mind rose to touch the surface of consciousness. Derev Niroth's eyes fluttered open, squinting from the bright light of the room. A face framed by fiery red hair hovered over him. "... Sil...?"
Blind white orbs stared beyond him, but still he felt her force senses scanning him constantly - replacing what her eyes couldnt give her. "... welcome back, Rollmaster. You should rest a while."
Derev tried to sit up, but was pushed down again: "What about my master..."
"Shhh, rest. Korras is ok. It was a false accusation ... we are still trying to figure out what and who is behind this.", Sildrin interrupted him. The Blind Dragon sighed, remembering the fear that had risen within her when Korras had stripped them from the force. It was an experience she had to endure not only for the first time now, and still for a blind one it was a terrible moment additionally. She hated how vulnerable she felt although she had special training in Blind Fighting. A skill that helped her to compensate nearly the blindness, a skill that helped her to survive. ".. really.. rest now. We still need you Derev....". She sensed the faint nod and his slipping away into the dreamscapes.
Suddenly the small communication device attached to the inner side of her arm sent off a faint current to her skin. With a flick of the force she activated it. Tendrils of the force reached out to read the informations that scrolled down the small screen in an enormeous speed. Her blind eyes widened.
Xia Long, usually known as Sildrin Sadow groaned as the huge young tuk'ata licked off her face. A tuk'ata was always an impressive beast, with the claws and huge fangs adding more to it. Her slender fingers scratched it behind its ears, trying to lift her uneasyness being face to face to the tuk'ata. The Archpriestress had to grin, very pleased to see those tuk'atas as the loyal guards of the Founder of Clan Naga Sadow. It had been quite some time when she had seen him and the last time she was simply a Priestress. And now she was the Quaestor and Daughter of Sadow.
Korras meanwhile had welcomed the Overlord with a respectful bow and Sildrin soon followed his example after freeing herself from the attention of the tuk'ata.
[removed - double post O.o ]
Zaknafein allowed himself to smirk as he felt both his Master's and Macron's attention focus on something else, pushing him a little bit further towards being momentarily forgotten. He felt like applauding whoever had managed to cause so much disruption in the Brotherhood, especially with the Clans preparing to attack the DC.
Lucius was strapped to a steel chair at the wrists, waist, and ankles, but was not gagged. His eyes glittered meanly at them through the gloom promising an agonizing death whenever he was released. His hands clenched the chair arms like a docking vise, knuckles showing bone white beneath the skin.
“What, is the Templar not feeling well?” Shadow taunted.
The T-visor on Zak’s helmet whipped around to face his associate in crime. “Careful, we don’t want to risk him kicking our behinds when we least expect it.”
Shadow’s hidden eyes seem to flare out at the Dark Jedi Knight, but words didn’t pursue the subject any farther.
Then to both their surprise, they sensed someone creeping down the sewer corridor behind them.
“I though you made sure that you were not followed!” hissed Shadow.
“I did, unless you’ve managed to let a telepathic yell for help escape Lucius.”
“Or, do you think they somehow tracked you a different way?”
“Maybe, but I’ll go take care of the trespasser.”
“Fine, I’ll be cleaning up here.”
Mandalore dipped his head in agreement before turning away. The Chiss was careful about remaining in the shadows and making little to no noise that the rushing sewer water wouldn’t mask. His thumb crept over to lightly rest on his lightsaber’s ignition switch as his keen eyes un-shrouded the form stalking down the corridor.
Zak let the being take another step, then he leaped out of the shadows, energy blade slicing the darkness into two halves, throwing the Mandalorian helmet into a deep backwash of dark blue.
“What the-“ the man growled as he dodged the lightsaber blade only to nearly meet an armored fist intent on breaking his jaw.
Eragon certainly got an eyeful, and that Mandalorian armor looked awfully familiar. His eyes crept over to stare at the sword pommel peeking over Zaknafein’s right shoulder. Silver glinted, then it dawned on him.
And to Eragon’s knowledge, only one person in Naga Sadow had one in their possession.
Macron continued to toil late into the night, oblivious to the unstable environment on Sepros. He sought comfort in the forbidden experiments of old. Even now, his research on the legendary Glove of Vader was nearing completion. The actual device was hidden somewhere, but Macron had collected all the known data and was poring over it. Soon, he would publish it in the dark Voice for all the Brotherhood to see.
"Mandalorian Crushgaunt and Sith Amulet. What a bizarre combination," he murmured as his holopad beeped. "Damn. One sec," he said as he fingered the cool swtich in annoyance. His demeanor changed immediately when he recognized the caller. "Hello, Quaestor Xia Long. You rang? How may I serve you?"
"The Overlord has awoken," she replied. "I think you should join me up here and show him your data on the bomb explosion earlier, My Black Guard. Besides, I need you by my side if things get rough later on. Bring your... friends if you will."
Macron eyed his homonculus, droids, and various beasts in hibernation cells around the lab. He raised and eyebrow as he grabbed his armor and began to don it quickly. "Which ones?" he chuckled.
"The homonculus and the Dark Eyes. They may be useful," said the Krath Archpriestess.
"As you command, my Liege," he replied with a grin that distorted his garish features. "I am on the way." Tron was an enigma that Macron found fascinating, as well as inspiring. He could hardly wait to see the Hounds again. "I bet they have grown," he giggled. the alchemist grabbed the little red bipedal form and opened the door. "Come on you," he hissed at the homonculus as the Dark Eye droid followed.
Derev lay in his bed, barely clinging to life, but still alive. The force once again flowed through his body. The powers he had gained through Korras were now gone, but left behind were the memories, and, perhaps, insight he would not have gained for many more years.
Left behind also, were the scars. His wounds had, mostly, been healed, however, his right hand would never function the same. Devices were implanted in his hand, and it appeared normal, however, he would have never have full use of the hand. Macron had ensured him the device would allow him to use a lightsabre just as well, if not better, then before, but tactile touch and sensations would be lost. Derev would never forget the Force Lightning.
Derev looked up from his thoughts to see Kat walk in the door, and a brief smile came to his face before the pain again overtook him.
Kat sauntered into the room, watching the bed for signs of life. The pain that stretched across the Rollmaster's face made concern fill her emerald eyes.
"How are you doing? Obviously not great..." Her voice trailed off as a small smile spread across Derev's face. "Better now, I take it?"
"Only if you get me the h@ll out of here..." The agony in his voice was clear, but she understood the need to get out of the hospital.
"Well then, let's go."
Kat stepped close to the bed, helping the Warrior up from the bed carefully, keeping her gaze turned away from the pain in his eyes, in order to prevent herself from crooning. "This won't be easy, but we will manage. As long as you work with me a bit."
The Warrior climbed out of bed, leaning on the Archpriestess as she helped him to his rooms. Although the progress was slow, they managed. Kat anxiously watched the hallways, hoping that no one would stop them. Retrieving a patient from the care of the hospital was generally frowned upon.
As they neared the sleeping quarters, Derev seemed to be getting weaker, his weight pushing down more heavily on the Quaestor. Stabilizing her frame in order to help him, they managed to make it into the room and he collapsed against the bed.
Breathing heavily from the journey, the Warrior climbed into his bed as Kat tucked him under the covers. "Alright, now that you are safely tucked in..." her eyes glittered and she smirked, letting her eyes tease briefly as she trailed off. While Derev smiled at her tease, she settled down onto a chair. Her eyes seemed distant she began on a more serious train of thought, her mind distracted by the events at hand.
On board the Wandering Soul Consul Korras sat in the command chair, the three dimensional display showing the Sadow fleet flanking the Clan flagship. The Astronicus Reach under Lord Tron Sadow and the Sabers Edge lay either side of the command ship. Elsewhere in the system, the Foresight waited amongst the asteroid field, along with the Crimson Angel, and he could sense his Ludo Kressh Quaestor awaiting his orders. In the gas nebula Kat Pridemore kept the Fire of Sepros and the Keepsake concealed.
Korras watched the display, glancing up at the Rolemaster. “Our fleet is in position.” Derev noted.
Korras nodded. “I can sense them. We are ready.”
“Estimated time of arrival two minutes.” Derev said looking at the screens.
“Maintain the link with our allies, “Korras ordered, “I will signal them when the time is right. Request that they remain silent until then.”
Derev nodded. “As you say.”
On board the Foresight Xia Long watched the Clan flagship and its escorts move into position. Beside the Blind Dragon the former Quaestor stood quietly. She could sense his annoyance. Macron had been against this strategy and hadn’t been backward in pointing this out. He and Malisane had argued with her and the Consul well into the previous evening that the confrontation was foolish and dangerous. Privately she had her own doubts, but they were committed to this course. Her Aedile had finally departed to take command of the Crimson Angel and at least seemed compliant to her orders if not happy.
“Incoming.” Derev reported as the display flashed. The Consul and the rolemaster watched as three Victory class destroyers left hyperspace, inbound for the Sepros system.
Korras nodded. “Move to intercept course and slow to half speed. Draw them in.”
The Wandering Soul and its two escorts adjusted their vector heading towards the three Dark Council Vessels, their velocity slowing to a crawl.
“Have Lord Tron and the Sabers Edge concentrate fire on the lead destroyer. We will do likewise. As soon as we open fire have Sildrin and Kat move to outflank them and draw the other two vessels away from them.”
As the lead council vessel drew within range it opened fire on the Wandering Soul, turbo lasers raking the flagships shields, and the cruiser rocked. The Sadow vessels returned fire, their own weapons scoring hits on the lead destroyer.
“We’d better get in there.” Xia ordered and the Foresight moved out of the asteroid field, the Crimson Angel following. As they opened fire on the port destroyer, the Victory class vessel turned to face these two foes The Blind Dragon could sense the Fire of Sepros and the Keepsake doing likewise, her fellow Quaestor also responding well against the third VSD.
Korras watched the display as the Wandering Soul began to take heavy hits, the Sabers Edge moving to block some of the turbo laser fire striking the flagship.
“We can’t last much longer Lord Korras” Derev reported, “all forces engaged and taking heavy casualties.
Korras nodded. He closed his eyes, reaching out with the force. “Halcyon, Welshman, the time has come.”
A few seconds later the scanners flashed again, as the combined fleets of Clans Tarentum and Arcona left hyperspace. “Now we’ll see.” Korras said grimly.
He watched the displays as the other two fleets moved into flanking positions to back up the Quaestors forces.
Suddenly a surge of the force hit him and he rocked. He looked at the display to see the Fire of Sepros burning in space, and could no longer sense his Ragnos Quaestor or her Aedile. “What happened?” Korras demanded, “that Victory Destroyer wasn’t that close!
“Korras!” Derev said pointing at the screen, “The Arcona forces have attacked our fleet.”
“What?” Korras demanded. He looked at the display, as a second later nearby the Sabers Edge exploded, debris striking the flagship.
Derev looked at him. “We’re being massacred we need to get out of here!”
Korras watched as the cruiser that had been engaging Kat joined the attack on the flagship, whose shields were now flashing desperately.
Malisane targeted his weapons on the Tarentum fleet, whose vessels were mopping up the Sapphire and Jade Serpents fighters. He’d seen them die, Revenant, Acara, Sin, Ashia. Sildrin had moved her forces away from the VSD to regroup with the Tarentum vessels, which in turn had opened fire on them. Malisane watched the Foresight exchanging fire with two of the enemy clan’s capital ships. It wasn’t going to last much longer.
Malisane watched helplessly as the frigate commanded by his Quaestor rocked then exploded, his Quaestor and his former Quaestor drifting lifelessly in space. He hung his head, the two he respected most were gone forever.
Xayun stood beside him. “We have to get out of here Malisane,” he said desperately.
“Where to?” the Aedile demanded, as the assault cruiser took hit after hit from the enemy, who free of the frigate concentrated the fire on them now.
“There goes Lord Tron,” Xayun said quietly watching the display, “just us and the Korras left now.”
As if on cue, under the barrage of two destroyers the Wandering Soul exploded, the finest crew and officers Naga Sadow had burning into space along with the Consul.
The Crimson Angel had moved into the cover of the asteroid belt again, but it was nearly finished. Xayun looked at Malisane. “There’s just you left now, you’re in charge.”
“In charge of what?” Malisane demanded, “they’re dead, we’re going to die. The Clan is finished, and for what?”
Xayun watched the Tarentum forces moving closer. “Incoming torpedo!”
Malisane watched the display silently. He felt a sense of euphoria, this was the end. The Crimson Angel’s engines were fried, they couldn’t avoid this.
“Malisane we’ve got to do something!” Xayun shouted watching the torpedo homing in on them. “Malisane! Malisane!”
“Malisane!” The Aedile's eyes opened to see Scithe standing over him. The former Quaestor looked down at him, the Warrior was laying on the metal deck of the platform.
Malisane got to his feet. “We’ve got to do something,” he said groggily, looking at his surroundings “I’ve seen it. A vision. We have to stop them.”
“Lord Tron is there now,” Scithe replied, “he and Korras will sort it out. Korras has promised we’re not going to attack the Council.”
“It won’t work,” Malisane replied, “events will move against us, I’ve seen it. We need to get back there, speak to them.”
“What are you going to do?” Scithe demanded.
“Prepare the Crimson Angel,” Malisane replied, “I’m going to speak to the Summit.”
Conference Room A, Sadow Palace - Sepros, Orian System
"We must gather our forces and prepare to defend the Orian system and all on Clan Naga Sadow's holdings." Said Korras. "I've already given orders for fleet deployment."
"And the Orian Navy Squadron is at your disposal m'lord." Added Admiral Aramis Nestor, commander of the ONS.
"The Orian Army Corps likewise are ready, "said Major General Torik Iskra reservedly, "though we do have some concerns about where you want some of our battlegroups and regiments redeployed to."
"I have looked over tactical schematics of our holdings and have assigned those units to where I see them best suited to our defense, General." Replied Korras.
"As you wish, m'lord." Iskra said with a nod of acknowledgement to his superior.
"I noticed that Vice Admiral Brandon Danarel is not present at this tactical briefing." Said Quaestor Kat Pridemore. She was refering to the commander of the 2nd Antei Defence Group which supported the Orian Armed Forces. The 2nd ADG consisted of 1772 troops and 181 ships, which would be needed for defense of the system should another clan strike. "Is everything alright with the Admiral?"
"I purposefully did not invite him here should the need arise that we have to…" Korras made a gesture with his hand as he thought of the appropriate word.
"Should we need to isolate ourselves and trust no one?" Asked Lord Sadow cooly and matter-of-factly. He had been quiet throughout the entire briefing and surprised everyone by this comment.
"Well…yes." Replied Korras, "We don't know just yet who we can trust at this time and need to consolidate those loyal to us and then investigate into what is happening within the Brotherhood, more specifically in CNS. We need to tighten security and stop any and all sabotage and other disasterous acts that are being perpetrated against us and being blamed on us.
"The Black Guard have all returned and been cleared of any wrong doing by us, however, we will have a bit of a harder time convincing the other clans." Continued Korras. "All in and out bound space traffic has been halted by my decree. We will get to the bottom of this. Therefore, I have the following orders for the Quaestors and their Aediles: Kat and J'Rai will investigate or appoint someone henceforth to do so, the connection between our Black Guard and the recent happenings. Find out if it is the work of former BlackGuard members - investigating all former members all the way up to Xanos. Xia Long, that is Sildrin, and Malisane will investigate Manesh's disappearance. Find out where he disappeared from, where to, where he is and who is responsible. And then once found you will prepare a strike team to recover him, he could be incapacitated.
"By the way," began Korras, "where is your Aedile, Malisane?"
"He is on his way my Consul." Replied Sildrin. "He reports he has important information to relay to us all concerning upcoming events."
"Very well, those of the OAF are dismissed, I ask for the rest of the Clan Summit to stay behind for this revelation Malisane has to offer us upon his arrival."
The room grew quiet as the commanding officers of the Orian Armed Forces shuffled out of the room. Tron scrathed the head of his pet tuk'ata Kril and relaxed as he was overcome with a force vision of the future.
The VAC Crimson Angel cleared hyperspace coming into Sepros space. Malisane sat in the captains ready room searching through some of the data coming in from CNS agents. Some of it had a ring of possibility but some of it seemed hard to believe. "Xanos is having his hutt wife executed for an affair with some senior officer from the Imperial Remnant?" he muttered to himself in disbelief, "Well they'd never make something like that up there must be some truth in it."
It wasn't his business anyway, he had more pressing concerns. They'd be at the planet soon and he had to decide what to say. Who was going to believe something like that? He wasn't sure he believed it himself, it was too horrendous to conceive, and yet the vision was so real, so vivid.
The communicator buzzed. "Aedile, there is an incoming transmission for you from Quaestor Xia Long."
"Put her on screen in here." he replied. A small holographic image of his Quaestor appeared on the desktop. "Hi Sildrin," he said using her informal name.
"Malisane," she said with a nodd, "we have just detected you entering the system. I thought we should have a talk first. Scithe has contacted me. He is concerned as he should be about this dream of yours."
Malisane took a deep breath. "It was more than a dream Sildrin," he replied, "it was a clear vision, showing the future if current events play themselves out."
"These things are not always clear Malisane," she replied, "you may have seen one possible future, but answer me this. Do you know with any details the events leading up to what you saw?"
He shook his head. "No," he admitted.
"How do you know what you saw was not a result of your warning, and that you did not set the Clan on that path?" the Blind Dragon pressed him.
"I do not." he replied.
"I would advise you to keep that vision to yourself then Malisane, for now. At the moment neither the Consul nor Lord Tron have made any hostile plans against the council, or the other clans. If they do maybe then will be the time to voice your concerns."
He nodded. "Very well."
"In the time being," the Blind dragon continued, "we have a more pressing matter to investigate."
"The rumours about Xanos wife and Astanine?"
"No," she replied, "we have been set the task of finding the Pro-Consul, when you reach the planet turn command of the Crimson Angel over to it's captain and meet me in my office."
Macron stood a respectful distance behind Sildrin on her right as she transmitted to Malisane. After she finished, she turned to the alchemist. He was whispering to the hopping little red creature he had sitting on his shoulder. "Shut up, you. One word and I swear, I’ll..."
Sildrin spoke. "Who is your little friend," she said with a snicker. Mononoke looked embarrassed, which was unusual. "My homunculus George," he replied hesitantly with a weak grin.
"So you need someone else besides yourself to talk to now?" queried the Quaestor with a chuckle. Macron smiled a wistful grin. Sildrin knew him well." He didn't exactly turn out as planned. He's a little hyperactive. Quite entertaining, but a very useful spy. I can’t really leave him alone in the lab. The last time I did, he let the blasted Taozin mutant loose. It killed my two cleaning servants,” recounted the Gladiator Prime.
“I see,” she said as the turbolift chimed. Malisane had arrived with alacrity. “Hello Malisane,” Xia spoke as she greeted her Aedile. Macron remained silent, merely winking at the Warrior.
“Let’s cut to the chase. Malisane, we have to find Manesh. He has gone missing for some time. I expect you to lead this expedition while I try to keep things stable here in Kressh. I am sending my Black Guard with you. You guys work well together,” stated the Archpriestess. Macron smiled a twisted grin as Malisane nodded his assent.
In the hangar, Malisane and Macron were quickly finishing their final systems check on their respective vessels. Malisane was taking the Death’s Head, and Macron the Silooth. The combination of speed and stealth the two possessed complimented the long-range capabilities necessary for this mission.
“Thank Darth,” canted the Keibatsu as he fiddled with his stealth package. “I was beginning to think I would never get out. So, a Warrior now eh Malisane?” queried the Battlemaster.
“Indeed,” replied Malisane with a smile. “Now that the Summit is back in session after lunch, it is time for us to go give them their revelations before we depart.”
“Aye, aye!” giggled the madman with a salute. The two stepped into the turbolift that would bring them to the council chambers.
Eragon woke up to a horrible smell. As his eyes cleared, he saw that he was sitting in a chair with wires running into his arms. In front of him was someone wearing a black mask.
“Finally! It took you forever to get up!”
“Who are you” Eragon asked. The voice under the mask was very familiar.
“You’re interrogator. See that chair that you are strapped to? That’s an Ionic Chair. Any time I turn the knob, charged ions shoot into your body. It is extremely painful.”
“What the heck is this for? I’m a loyal member of the Clan.”
“From what I have been told, you are not. Now, let’s begin.”
“I want to know why you were in the tunnels when we were informed that terrorists lurk there.”
“I was trying to look for the terrorists. Lucius-”
“That’s a lie. Lucius is on our side.” He said turning up the knob. Pain shot up Eragon’s arms simultaneously, and he screamed in horror and shock.
“I ask you again.” He boomed over the humming of the machine. “Why were you in the tunnels?”
He turned the knob up. The Protector could not do anything but scream.
“Eragon, I’m giving you one last chance before it gets really painful.”
“I’ll tell you!” the Protector screamed.
He turned the machine off.
“Ok. Listen first. I found Lucius in a room, and he was acting weird. He told me that he had found himself in the tunnels, so I went to investigate.”
The man in the mask sighed.
“Torture will not get the truth out of you.” He said quietly.
He opened up a syringe and put something in it.
“This is glitterstim.” He said.
Eragon felt overjoyed. This would prove him innocent!
The man searched through his memories and found nothing.
“You were telling the truth.” He murmured.
He took of his mask revealing the face of Muz.
“Sorry for knocking you out in the tunnels.” He said.
“Malisane did.” Eragon replied.
“Nope. Tron was so excited about catching the “terrorist” he called me Malisane. Anyways, are you going to help us out with finding the terrorists?”
“What do you think? Why wouldn’t I?” The Protector asked.
Ilum was far enough from the rest of the planets. It was the same ice planet where an Adegan crystals cave had been, and later was destroyed. On that remote planet, a man climbed up a giant ice mountain. He was almost to the top; his big coat engulfing him completely, hiding all but his eyes.
The man continued climbing, his muscles flexing at the exeration. After two or three more steps up, he received a message in his datapad.
“Ruluk, I need you here to talk about a problem that has lately been in Ludo Kressh and the clan itself. The rest of the battleteam is already here. Sildrin needs us for a mission. It is a problem that affects us all and can end in a terrible war. Stop what you’re doing now and come here. Last time I asked Horus to call everyone for the first meeting, but you weren’t there and nor him neither me noticed that. This is the second meeting, and I want you here this time.
The climber stayed still for awhile then he shouted to the bottom of the mountain, “Crow!!”
A minute later he heard a voice call back, “What??”
“Can you help me get down? We’re getting all our stuff out of this cold place!!”
Both Dark Crow and Ruluk took their coats off once inside the starfighter; Ruluk took the controls and ignited the engines.
“Are we returning to Sepros?” asked Crow.
“Yeah, but I don’t know what has happened all this time. If Ashia needs us now, is because something big is going on. We’ll find out when we get there…”
The sublevels were often described as a challange all to themselves, they lacked lighting any sort of efficient sanitation and were also the place where young or even old hopefuls came before being initiated into the ranks of Naga Sadow. It was brutal, cold and murder was rife. Amongst the miserable shanty towns strode two Dark Jedi, one a Battlelord by the name of Talon the other a Battlemaster by the name of Godo Nurok.
"If I was Consul I'd exterminate these wretches, a breach of security if you should ask me" commented Talon with a sneer.
A women wearing torn rags and a scared face threw herself at Talons feet, she gazed up at him with fierce blue eyes "Dark Master, I can be a loyal servant. Please take me as your apprentice!" She lowered her head to the muddy waste filled floor. Talon struck out with his right boot hitting her square across the head with an audible crack. She fell sideways and lay motionless, blood pooling about her.
"Damn beggers." Talon commented with disdain
"Don't worry old friend, our time here will be brief. If Callus's information is correct, the majority of the Novices who have caused our Clan so much woe came from these sub levels. Including, it must be noted the three who tried to 'arrest' me."
Talon nodded and the two continued through the wastelands, though most took a very wide bearth. After several minutes they finally reached a simple corridor, originally it had been used as a storage post each room being used for mining equipment, first aid supplies and other useful items for subterrainean work. Now they had been made into make shift rooms for the more wealthy or dangerous hopefuls.
"Shall we knock?" Godo offered
Stepping forward Talon raised his hand and with a slight wave the door was torn off its hinges and cast aside, the light seemed to dim as the dark side pulsed from him. Not waiting for any invititation Talon strode forward his lightsaber already out and buzzing with malice. He met no opposition, infact the room didnt seem to have been used in quite some time.
Talon deactivated his saber "I suppose whilst we're here we may as well search the place."
Godo nodded in agreement and the two began searching for any clues that might reveal the true origins of the chaos now engulfing the Dark Brotherhood.
Talon searched the abandoned place thoroughly not finding much of anything until he picked up a paper that sent him back about seventy years. Godo picking up on his sense through the Force looked over.
"What is it?"
Talon blinked as if just noticing Godo for the first time, "This is a statement of charges from the planet Kamino."
When Godo stared back blankly Talon clarified, "Its a planet made up of mostly rough oceans but it's also known for its clones. The Old Republic's grand army was created there secretly by Sidious. I know, I trained some of them."
When Godo looked at him with shock evident on his face Talon could see in his minds eye the past. He could see the white aniseptic walls that had nearly driven him insane and the endless clone vats that had disgusted him everytime he had seen them. Looking at Godo he explained, "When I was expelled from the Jedi Order I had no where to go so I became a mercenary. Using my limited Force abilities I became quite good at it doing everything from smuggling to bounty hunting. I was so good at it that a bounty hunter by the name of Jano Fett hired me to train the clones in combat. He had hired a lot of us to do that job. I got stuck with the ARC troopers...supposedly untrainable clones."
He shook the memories away, "This could very well explain the appearence of a second Jac Cotelin. Let's go speak with Korras."
Godo nodded and the two sith walked away.
Draken sat inside his shuttlecraft as he moved his hand to one of the control panels to Karufr, the main planet of Taldryan with only a few touches on the panel. Draken had heard in the briefing with Ashia about the two Jac’s who battled each other. One was left and one disappeared into thin air. Though Draken felt that he should be loyal to the Jac now on the throne, something didn’t feel right. Reports had reached his ear that the Grand Master himself was seeking refuge on the planet of Taldryan. Though with Manesh missing a whole lot of rumours passing trough the halls of the Dark Jedi clan, the Valheru lord knew he had to seek it out, maybe even finding a clue on Manesh’s location.
The Valheru sighed as for the first time in his life he felt alone. Already banished from two clans he now sought refuge in Clan Naga Sadow, though he wondered if he was really welcome there. He had met only few of Naga Sadow and didn’t know who he could call a friend just yet, those thoughts made him a loner and one who would rather be mistrusted than to trust someone blindly. The Valheru sighed and wished back for the times when things were easier, people knew him and friends were there everywhere he looked. Those days were over now, he had made many mistakes and no real way to set them right again.
Draken sighed once more, his stare going out onto the galaxy in front of him. Stars who were pinholes in the curtain of night now torn open into cuts as the shuttle went into hyperspace and was surrounded by a vast blue twirling tunnel. The Valheru was still amazed by the possibilities of this and the colour spectrum of it all. His gaze went into the distance and he retreated into his mind, the travel would be longer than usual and he could use this moment to clear his head a while and remember some things that were of Valheru past…
”From the daybreak to the night
Forever will the stolen might.
Thus Dragon will return to fly
when the red is in the sky.
A final verse of Valheru lore
will echo trough hearts forever more.
A dying wish, one final desire
Do not put out the Valheru fire.”
Draken suddenly woke up as a loud bang filled space and time. The shuttle clashed out of hyperspace and revealed a small sphere in the distance. It was Karufr and the home planet of Taldryan, soon he would be there and hopefully he would get to see the true Jac. The shuttle moved with a agile speed trough the black of space as suddenly his communications panel began to bleep. The Valhery narrowed his eyes and moved to the panel to see who might have contacted him here, on the edge of Taldryan space.
Suddenly Draken saw it was an encrypted message, the computer confirmed it was of Naga Sadow and decoded it before the holographic projector took over and showed a vague image of Manesh. His robes were torn and the message he spoke was too hard to decipher.
Too much interference – Draken thought and he used the computer to clear some of it, but nothing that could help him.
Suddenly Draken pushed a few other buttons and started to re-transmit it trough to Xia Long, his Quaestor. She would know what to do with it.
”Miss Long, my Quaestor, I have received a coded transmission from Manesh I sent to you just now. I think it originated from the Taldryan planet of Karufr. I was on my way to see Jac, I heard rumours he was hiding here and I went to check up on him and to pledge my allegiance to him. I will be there sh…”
Before Draken could finish his message he was attacked hard and before he could find out who or what was attacking him he was already falling trough the orbit of Karufr.
The Sharan of the Valheru entered his tent, dressed in a gold with white armor, holding a long shield and a broadsword, which a red cape following him behind.
When he entered the tent all Valheru bowed before their king of kings. The tent wasn’t very royally dressed, they were two barrack tents sewn together to create a larger one. In the middle stood a oak round table, and behind each chair stood an other shield, marking the regions of the Shi world. The Sharan addressed his Generals to sit down and a servant filled their cups with red wine. The Generals had similar armors yet the White overweighed the gold, and most of the generals were covered in blood. From the twelve seats only 5 were filled aside the Sharan.
”General Alwares, General Rachar, Admiral Turnad, Drageneral Draken-Korin and Marshal Pentai. It is good to see you once more.” The king said with a heavy and loud voice.
In a fluid motion the army men rose, slammed the front of the their fist against their armor, held it in position and bowed slightly. Simultaneously they began their salute of royal honor.
Hail the Sharan!
The Rightful one!
The Honored one!
May thee be praised up the heavens!
Where the Might Dragon flies!
Where the God will await!
Hail the Sharan!
The Rightful one!
The Ruler of all!
The Sharan slightly nodded in approval and the men sat down.
”Sharan Galerius.” General Rachar said with a scent of grief in his voice. “The other 6 Generals and warlords, they have been defeated by the alien invaders. Their weapons without honor wiped them out before they could make first blood.”
“Damn those incompetent dishonest hell spawns from the sky above. They will have to pay every drop of blood for the losses we have sacrificed!”
Draken opened his eyes again and shook his head as flashes of his memories were haunting him only a few seconds before. He looked around and found himself intact inside of the shuttle, or at least half of it as the back side of the shuttle was torn off by trees and thickening bushes.
’Damnit..’ was all he said an needed to say as he was now stranded on the Taldryan planet.
Siya wrinkled her nose as the colorful odor of stale water, sewer sediment, and dead animals wafted up to her nose, triggering her sense of smell. Her concentration was slipping, well, not slipping but focusing now on the pin prick of light up ahead and the Force she was channeling to mask her force ability and life sense more than blocking the stench of the sewer. Echo's of pain reached her hearing from where she stood some 300 yards from the spot of light ahead and for just a brief moment she considered going back to her rooms and leaving this crap to others; last thing she needed was to be dragged into the middle of another conflict, even if this one was considerably smaller than the other.
Cursing her luck, and cursing Xia-Long for sending her on this errand, she leaned against the curved wall of the sewer, immediatly regretting the decision as her hand slipped easily across the slime covering the bricks. Her boots were full of water and her cape was dragging through the layer of slime laying on top. Cursing again she bent to remove her boots, trying hard to ignore the twinge in her stomach as her toes buried themselves in the sludge made up of who knows what that created a cusion on the bottom of the sewer floor. Un-clasping her cloak and letting it fall into the water, she took another step towards the light.
"Lucius came down this way...but why? I know he wasn't dreaming or under anyone's control.." she mused as she moved.
She neared the entrance to a small room and slowly climbed the steps, the water rippling away from her feet as she left the water, small droplets leaving their place in the weave of her robes to gather together in a puddle on the rough rock of the stairs. A dark hooded figure inside the room lifted his head as if listening to something and Siya quickly ducked to the side of the opening in the wall, cloaked in shadows, waiting until she felt it was safe to continue on.
Calming her mind and squashing the quiver of doubt that still lingered in her mind she grabbed her lightsabre and ignited it in one quick move as she entered the small room and slammed the hooded figure to the wall with the force, holding him up off the floor and unable to move for his weapons.
"Now, who are you and what are you doing?" she demanded "and why is Lucius imprisoned in that chair?"
After the two Equites gave their respective reports, they made for the hangar and the readied ships. Macron wondered about Malisane, as he had given a very abbreviated report after speaking with Sildrin. “Perhaps it is best I do not know,” he mused mentally.
“Everyone has their own path to tread with the Dark Side.”
The Deaths Head and the Silooth were perfectly suited for this mission. Each was fast, long range, stealthy, and their pilots were given to fits of unusual behavior. Before they left, Godo rattled Macron’s com.
“Greetings, Macron. Did you get the analysis I asked for?” came the Battlemaster’s query.
“Sure, man. The issue of cloning is a delicate one. The Kaminoans are geniuses, and I have dealt with them personally. However, they got much knowledge from Sidious. I think cloning the Two of them is impossible. Each one would have to have a Dark Shade inhabiting it, and as there is only one Grandmaster...”
“I copy Macron. Thanks for your time, I’ll share this with Talon.”
“Roger and good luck.”
Malisane keyed his com as they later left the Seprosian dock. “Where are we headed? You seemed so sure of yourself back there,” said the Warrior.
“I was frightened, to tell the truth. Ah, let’s keep this quiet. Follow me to the coordinates we last adventured at. I’ll brief you there…” came the alchemist’s reply. “Consider this a black op.” The Silooth bucked as Macron drove toward his destination. He was grateful for the beer cooler in the back.
As they regrouped later off of Malachor V, Macron sighed in relief and switched to short range communication. “Hiyas,” he giggled as Malisane broke out of hyperspace. “Alright, sorry to not want to chat back there. Too many ears about. We are headed to Kyataru to seek Muz. He may know where to look for Manesh,” came Mononoke’s voice across the crackling comlink as he fed the coordinates and appropriate calculations to Malisane directly.
The Death’s head had a larger and more advanced computer than the gunboat, and easily extrapolated the destination. Malisane keyed his link. “You mean way out there? Of course, I am reading this right. A long ways out. You aren’t pulling any of your crazy tricks, are you?”
“No man. I always shoot straight with you, Mal. It is really that far. At least 48 hours from our current position, even with military grade hyper drives. This seat is really uncomfortable… we should get moving. Follow me to these jump coordinates. I suspect Muz may have insight others are unwilling to share,” replied the Keibatsu. “And the local populace is superstitious and backwards. Be careful. As well, my sources indicate he has Eragon out there in questioning.”
Draken stood in the middle of the battlefield as he watched the Valkyri host running towards the Valheru opposition. The sword of darkness was pulsing as the flames grew hungry for blood. Draken pushed forward, the ground underneath his feet giving way as he leaped off towards the enemy. The armour of the Valheru shone bright in the small amount of sunlight that was cast upon the darkened the fields of battle.
Argain watched as Draken was the first to meet the host and he saw the Valheru warlord throw his immense sword ahead of him, the large blade whistling sharply trough the air before slamming trough the chest of a daring Valkyri warrior. Just before the Warrior fell onto the mud covered soil Draken already took hold onto the hilt of his sword once more before spinning it around his body, cutting trough limbs and burning those who dared to oppose the mighty blade of Valheru valour.
Argain returned his gaze onto the trenches that were dug before the enemy had expected it the trenches and were dug and manned, ready to welcome the first barrage of Valkyri that stood into their way. Draken watched as Argain laid an oppressive counter against the Valkyri host and was proud of his clever thinking about the Valheru Diamond technique, a technique that never failed in the history of the Valheru. Suddenly the Valheru Warlord heard a deep rumbling tone coming from a huge horn from the back of the Valkyri army and not long after the tone was given green Valkyri flyers were sent up into the air armed and ready to strike from above. Though the Valkyri were bird like creatures, only few of them were gifted by the power of flight and those who could mostly joined the Valkyri flight squads. Dangerous and agile, these birds could take out a small army by themselves if needed. Their strength surpassed the normal Valkyri by far and that made them a threat. However, the Drageneral and Silivren Amlug had a plan that could make this threat as minor as a child.
A Drageneral was a General, a normal one by most counts but a Drageneral was mostly specialized in the usage and ways of the Dragon. Those who ever became a Drageneral were considered to be the most praised in the entire army. Any Dragon, large or small, would listen to his every need and command by instinct. Though the Valheru were known as Dragon-riders, only the Dragenerals could tame the mightiest of Dragons or command a squad of them without riders to hold them.
Draken smiled inwards as this was the moment he waited for. He jumped up through the mass of Valkyri to grab a flying Valkyri by the ankle and lifting on his back up towards the sky.
Argain watched as his friend decided to ride a Valkyri flight member up and figured this would be Draken’s translation to a ‘sign’.
”Leithia!” Argain shouted in his native tongue and from the back of the Valheru army a mass of green coloured dragons took flight into the air.
Draken woke up again, he was still in the wreckage of the shuttle as he was when the shuttle crashed onto the main Taldryan planet. The Valheru watched as he saw soldiers crawl trough the bushes, probably thinking he wouldnt see them. A normal human wouldnt have possibly seen the soldiers come close, a Jedi might have seen them if he was finetuned into the force. A Valheru however, with their enhanced sight, could see the men coming from a long distance before even becoming a threat.
The men were dressed in black, and camouflage. a black mask cloacked their face and optic goggles enhancing their vision drastically. None of them really spoke but rather used hand gestures to coördinate their strikes. It was appearent that they were trained to take out a Jedi silently without the loss of men.
The soldiers surrounded the shuttle and two were sent in to investigate. It was silent, a bit too silent as some of the soldier twisted nervously around to double check the area. A silence swept over the forest like area again and after a whipe the two men walked back out again both making shrugging notions.
Suddenly a silent thud was heard and the soldiers took their guns in hand, crouching and moving around, keeping everything in sight. Silence again, one of the soldiers made a move with his hand, telling the others to be silent and for three of the ten men to check the area around the shuttle into the bushes.
When they left a short gashing sound was heard, but after that only silence followed. The leader became restless and ordered two to stay behind as he took the other 4 with him into the bush. When he left Draken landed behind the shuttle without a sound. The Soldiers moved around the shuttle and suddenly a sharp whistly filled the air. One of the two soldier wanted to shout but before sound left his throat the huge Valheru sword slammed trough the man's chest, muting him quickly before he could warn others.
The second soldier moved towards the first one in reply to the whistling sound. When he found the body of his comrade he was shocked. A large gaping wound showed that he was impaled by something huge and the fact that that thing was missing and this only happened seconds before suddenly frightened the soldier to his very soul. He closed his eyes and grinned silently, admitting defeat as he sensed the Dark Jedi behind him before he was decapitated and laid to rest like his comrade.
The leader was already dead before he heard the Valheru approach and Draken smiled inwardly. Only ten soldier elites...what an insult... - Draken thought as he crouched over the Leader's body and searched his pocket and noticed a GPS locator in his chestpocket. Draken grinned and took it with him as it guided him directly to the main taldryan base.
Lets see what secret things Taldryan has in store for me...and I hope the Grand Master is here as well.. - Draken thought and suddenly he narrowed his eyes - And maybe I can find some clues about Manesh as well...
Two days later, the Silooth cleared hyperspace on the night side of the planet, the Deathshead flicking into realspace a few seconds later. "We're here." Macron announced happily over the communicator, "Kyataru, home of the Keibatsus."
Malisane scanned the surface. "Seems ok, mixed terrain, fairly terrestrial. Reasonable piopulation."
"That will be the natives," Macron replied, "they're fairly harmless provided we don't provoke them."
"Massive devastation in parts," Malisane continued studying the reports.
"Well we have just had a war," Macorn replied, "things are being restored."
"So where are we headed?" Malisane asked.
"Kyataru Castle," Macron replied, "my adopted families ancestoral home."
"A castle," Malisane replied feigning sounding impressed, "very posh."
"You were born in a castle as well." Macron pointed out.
"That was Usharak Keep that was hardly an ancestoral home," Malisane replied, "anyway I was taken away an hour later."
"Heh, true." Macron replied, "that was lucky all things considered."
The two ships landed on the grounds of the castle. Macron lead the way inside. Malisane studied the fortress as they moved through it. Decay and damage were apparent everywhere but so were the signs that Muz and his family were going to great lengths to restore their home. "Muz's chambers are this way," Macron told the Aedile as e lead the way past the cloned troopers who stood aside as thier General glanced at them.
Muz turned as the two Sith entered the room. "Greetings Cousin," the Herald said to the alchemist.
"Hi Muz," Macron replied.
Muz looked at Malisane. "Welcome to our home," he said calmly, "what brings you here."
"We're trying to find Manesh," Macron replied, "no-one, not even Korras or Tron know where he is, and naturally with current events we need him back."
Malisane nodded, "We'd appreciate anything you can tell us Councilor."
Muz thought for a minute. "I have heard a few rumours," Muz replied, "though in truth the Council is aware of the Pro-consuls absence and also is unaware of his current location."
Macron nodded. He wandered over to a table and poured the three of them a drink from a antique crystal decanter into three simular glasses. He handed them around.
Malisane took his greatfully and sipped it. It was a particularly good vintage, and he took a deep gulp of it."
Muz indicated three chairs and they sat. The Herald thought carefully. "Manesh left Orion space a few weeks back," he told them, "apparently something he was interested in lead him on a journey of several worlds."
"Which worlds," Macron asked, eager for this insight.
Muz thought. "An odd collection of worlds, with no obvious pattern between them, Hoth, Dantooine, Geonosis."
Malisane groaned internally. All three were scattered far from either Orion, their current location or indeed each other. He took another deep swig draining the glass.
"Help yourself to some more Malisane," Macron told the Aedile and Malisane stood up walking over to the cabinet and picked up the decanter to refill his glass.
"There was one more as well, one we are not familiar with except for a mention inthe Galactic databank." the Herald added thoughtfully.
"Which is it?" Malisane asked curiously as the liquid trickled into the crystal glass.
"An ice world," the Herald replied, "Koplar."
Bother Keibatsus turned at the crash of breaking crystal and splashing as the wine poured all over the fragment covered surface.
"That crystal set has been in our family for twelve generations," the Herald said coldly, glaring at the Warrior.
"What's wrong Malisane?" Macron interupted, suprised at seeing the usually composed and relaxed Aedile looking pale and his hands still shaking.
"Not Koplar," Malisane replied, his voice trembling as memories surged back, "he can't be on Koplar."
Time was an invaluable asset under most circunstances, mainly before some major conflict. But, amidst all this chaotic bursts of information and random fits of rage from the membership, came a sudden calmness. Time seemed to crawl away as if suspended by the heavy curtain of anticipation. The membership was ordered to resume their posts and prepare for either offensive or defensive maneuvers. There were little to no people left to wander the cantina or roaming the corridors. Everyone was either standing guard or keeping low profiles. The once loud and hot reveries were exchanged for low murmurs and soft whispers.
There was no real way to tell what was going on. The Proconsul missing, the clan almost plunging headlong into open warfare against the Dark Council, and now the endless waves of rumors about two Grand Masters, two Jac Cotelins, fighting for supremacy over the Brotherhood.
The sides-taking game was open, the membership left to only guess who to follow. Even the Dark Council fractured, unable to reach a conclusion as to which one is the legitimate Grand Master of the Dark Brotherhood.
The situation in Naga Sadow was no worse. The leadership pointed one way following the Deputy Grand Master and former Consul of the Clan, Lord Xanos Sadow, while many respected members pointed another, including the Keibatsus who followed their Daymio, Muz Ashen Keibatsu. Some were trapped in the middle, either too afraid to voice an opinion or even waiting to see what was going to happen.
Soon, the two behemoths would clash, and so would the members of the Brotherhood fight themselves, and this would prove deadly to all those blinded by bloodlust. Or at least it was Scithe's fears as he pondered in his small office aboard the Obsidian. Aedile Malisane was gone in search of Manesh, and Quaestor Sildrin was submerged into her own preparations. Consul Korras reached a state of maniacal paranoia, the siege staged by Ludo Kressh making him forbid anyone near his office.
Stranded, he just waited for the message that would put them all aflame.
The Quaestor of House Ludo Kressh rushed to the medical lab, two guards followed her, watching her every move. Sildrin felt still uneasy and wished that her own Black Guard would be here to protect her. The trust into that crazy Sith Alchemist Mononoke Macron Keibatsu-Goura had grown during the Kyataru campaign - the reclamation of the homelands of the Keibatsu family. But at times the same paranoia haunted her that many higher ranked darksiders were possessed with.
Her force senses turned back to the guards .... can I trust them... ? No flickering of the force surrounded them, no warning of betrayal and she tried to relax. ... this war is taking its toll. Sooner or later we will kill each other and the enemy is the one to laugh...., she thought.
The door slid open after she authorized herself and she entered: "Guard the doors", she said with a resolute voice. Siyavash already awaited her within the room. The door closed behind her and Sildrin motioned with her hand as the Knight Commander was about to bow. "Skip the formalities.. we are alone anyways... What is this about Lucius and Eragon? And why is Eragon here? Last time I was informed that he is on Kyataru.". The Quaestor's blank eyes appeared to fix Siyavash, though the Knight Commander knew that Sildrin was blind. An eerie look that made Siyavash feel uneasy. Sildrin turned her force senses onto the bacta tanks that stood in the room behind the security glass. The two bruised bodies twitched within them, their faces distorted by disturbing memories that surfaced their minds.
Siyavash walked over to the security glass, standing next to Sildrin: "I found both of them - down in the sewers. Obviously someone wanted to make us believe Eragon is on Kyataru, so no one would miss him. Barely anyone would bother the Herald to ask for Eragon." Sildrin nodded slowly, listening to Siyavash as she continued: "Both are suffering heavily from the drugs they had been given. They were babbling all the time. Eragon was swearing that Muz had been talking to him. But we know that the Herald is on Kyataru. Obviously this drug is also causing hallucinations - along the fact that it appears to be a serum to weaken their mental defences." The Blind Dragon stood quietly, thinking. Suddenly her voice snapped Siyavash out of her thoughts: "I guess you don't know what kind of internal informations they had given away, don't you?". Siyavash shook her head, knowing that Sildrin would still sense this motion: "But maybe we can find out. I was able to capture someone down there. Obviously he was responsible for this."
Sildrin started to grin broadly: "Very well done. I want someone to check the communication channels, maybe someone can find out who spreaded those rumours about Eragon being on Kyatatu. And we will see what we can get out of this guy. A pity Macron isn't here. He would love to torture every single detail from that poor bastard. Even the color of his mother's panties." Siyavash turned her head to Sildrin, realising her Quaestor's last sentence. For a moment there was silence and suddenly they both bursted out in laughter and giggles.
They both made their way to the detention block. "Are there any news about Malisane, my Quaestor?", Siyavash turned her eyes upon Sildrin, who replied quietly: "Not yet. I hope he and Macron will find something to bring more order into this chaos." For a moment the Quaestor looked very worried. This conflict was straining her nerves and she wasn't sure what would be left of this clan after this. It all appeared so confusing, all those clans fighting each other and suddenly the appearing of two Jac Cotelins. A small spark and a raging inferno would be unleashed. ....or has this spark already fallen onto the ground beneath our feet?...
Hasted movements in front of her caught her attention. Guards were rushing along the corridors into the direction of a cell block. Siyavash grabbed for one of them, snapping off at one: "What is going on?" The guard replied breathless: "The prisoner you captured... Knight Commander... he.. he.. was murdered.!"
"What?", Sildrin growled. "Who did it?". The eyes of the guard widened as the enraged Quaestor stepped closer to him. Although he had to look down at her, he was trembling from fear. She was of a lithe form, yet she was surrounded by an aura of authority and domination: "We.. we don't know, my Quaestor.... we were about to search for .." The Blind Dragon narrowed her eyes: "Send out the guards, seal the sector. No one is allowed IN nor OUT! I want that person... alive." The guard saluted and rushed off to obey her orders, but something within her told Sildrin it was already too late.
Two hours later she stood within the cell. Frustrated she nudged the body of the prisoner with a foot, dead eyes stared at the blood covered ceiling. Siyavash entered the cell: "They cancelled the search. After all this time there is no chance we will find the responsible person. Surely escaped already." The Quaestor's face was wearing a grim expression: "We appear to be always one step behind whatever faces us. Double the guards within the lab. I don't want Lucius nor Eragon being killed. Ohh.. and also send some guards over to Derev's room, he is still weak and I fear he might be also in danger." Siyavash nodded and turned away.
With a sigh Sildrin let herself drop into the seat of her office. And a flashing light signaled her that there was a new encrypted message for her. ... maybe from Kaek. We do indeed have moles here... To her surprise it was a message from Draken. "What in Zandru's hell is he doing on the main planet of Taldryan?", she cursed.
Derev lay in his quarters, still unable to perform anything more then the most basic tasks. Being effectively cut off from his clan, his room has become his own prison. Perhaps more lavishly decorated then most prisons, but a prison all the same.
Other then the infrequent visits of his friends, the clan was preparing for war, and had little time to visit him.
It was generally accepted that Derev had done nothing wrong. His willingness to aide his Consul and Master, and the overwhelming situation he had been placed in, was deemed to be no fault of his own. Many questioned how they would act with that much power bestowed into them, and all agreed it would have been a similiar incident.
Kat however, had made the entire ordeal bearable for Derev. She made time every day to visit with him in his quarters, spending her free time comforting him, and conveying the days events.
Kat would often leave Derev wondering if, perhaps, her visits were anything more then platonic.
Sadow Palace - Sepros, Orian System
The Overlord sat in his meditative position, legs crossed and his arms parallel to the chest with his hands touching each others palms in a steeple fashion. It had been days since his meeting with the remaining Clan Summit, the various leaders returning to their house's respective planet. Tron had stayed behind at the palace, setting up a nerve center of information gathering from his various sources that he had acquired during his days as Emissary of the Brotherhood. Korras had secluded himself in the Consul's office. And Manesh had yet to be heard from for some time.
Out of the shadows an old friend approached and took up a waiting position behind the Overlord, his stance ever ridged and always at attention. Ximeno Chal had been an Imperial officer and fighter pilot long before he had been a Dark Jedi, but Tron had found his potential and drawn him to House Naga Sadow in it's time of rebirth. Now a tested Sith Warrior, Ximeno had put aside his dark ambitions and served Tron as the Captain of his personal craft - The Astronicus' Reach.
"Sire, the Clan's forces are now gathered and ready to defend the system." Said Ximeno. "However, there are those within the clan that are striving to up their readiness to full offensive. Perhaps we should ask the Consul to appoint a new Prefect to command the Sepros forces. With the absence of the Proconsul that position is vacant and in need of someone."
"No my old friend, if Korras would want it filled, he would do so." Replied Tron. "Manesh will soon be found and resume that role. I need not worry about a trivial post of such anyhow."
"Actually I was thinking about myself." Joked Ximeno.
"Hardy har har." Mused Tron. "Nevertheless it's of no consequence. I've consulted the latest intel and all reports show that all of the Clans are reacting similarly to ours and heightening only to full defensive mode. Soon that will spill over, but when it does the one behind all of this warmongering will tip his hand and we will be there to catch them."
"And what of the reports of two Jacs?" Asked Ximeno.
"It's of little consequence, either the Dark Council will deal with the imposter or shall through their support behind the more of the two and the Brotherhood will be all the better for the added strength of force." Replied Tron.
"One last thing, sir." Mentioned Ximeno, "It appears that there has been an incident over at the Ludo Kressh base. They have a mole and it needs dealt with - unfortunately they have no experts at routing such vulgar pests."
"Very well, inform Lady Sildrin that I will be arriving within the next three hours to investigate the recent events and deal with this mole." Ordered Tron.
"As you wish m'lord."
Silence swept over the thickened forests of Karufr when night darkened the sky above. Draken sat motionless, ripping his sleeve off to tend to a wound in his right arm. During his time on the planet he encountered another two squads of the Taldryan army. The Valheru tried to reason with them untill they opened fire onto him, appearently they didnt feel pleased of the Obelisk's first approach.
The Valheru pushed his hair back again, the white hair was a Valheru trademark and since he was the last of his kind, the only one who had natural white hair. He narrowed his lizard like eyes to check upon himself, he suffered 2 minor blaster wounds, his metallic arm has suffered some damage due to swordfights and he had a large cut in his right arm.
Draken watched as the sun settled fully into the horizon and he turned his gaze downwards. The tree he was in served as a hising place for now untill he could find his way out again. Draken wondered what made the Taldryans so on edge, however, Draken was more worried on how his Quaestor would react when he should return....if he would return.
The Valheru let himself fall from the twelve feet high tree and landed between the bodies of the last set of soldiers who tried to defy him. He walked to what he thought was the squad leader and removed his mask. The Dark Jedi smiled as he took an earpiece and placed it in his, and suddenly he heard every squad leader telling their positions. His lips curled in delight over his foe's ignorance and took hold of his Valheru sword that was still impaling the fallen leader.
Suddenly a bleep came from his personal communicator. Draken was planning on throwing it away due to lack of range and use. He grabbed it and watched as it was a message from his Quaestor on an encrypted wavelength.
Draken, I do not know what your intentions were, or still are, I do not approve of this and you will be dealt with. Or ofcourse...you can be of use and sniff around to see what you can find. Quaestor Xia Long
Draken couldnt resist but to grin, he knew his Quaestor long enough to know that she needed to say that. They had an understanding not many had. She was a member of the family of Dragons. When he found out at first he was surprised beyond belief. Now he has pledged a blood promise to protect the last line of ancient Dragons.
The Valheru were also known as the Dragonlords. The race had a natural sense of taming Dragons and have them as allies in battles and companions. Draken was no different in the matter. In the time before the Old Republic, when the Valheru were with many, Draken used to be a Drageneral, a general who could command dragons to his will.
Though his past showed that no Dragon could stand against him, he found the leadership of Xia Long interesting and special. Now he was commanded by a Dragon instead of the other way around, this surprised him but he also found it Intriguing.
Draken walked on and used his earpiece to avoid any detection by enemy squads. Now that the Valheru knew where every defense was and how to be rid of them, it was time to see what Taldryan had to hide...
The two bowed low, and left the compound. Muz had returned to his reveries, and Eragon was not on this planet. Obviously, this was another planted rumor. They approached their vessels and began the pre-flight checks that all good pilots performed before each voyage.
Macron spoke, breaking the pregnant silence. “Koplar, isn’t that the home of that infernal crystal Malisane?”
“Indeed,” replied Malisane as he winced.
“I read your debriefing on that trip,” Macron said as they walked. “It would appear you had a vision of the future. Or perhaps it was a Dark illusion, designed to cloud your mind and intent. I am very interested to see the device.”
“I am pretty sure it wasn’t a vision. Andredi seemed awfully real,” replied the Warrior. “She tried to kill me to prevent a future catastrophe. Perhaps Manesh has been lured there as well.”
“I see,” said the alchemist as he furrowed his scarred brow. Manesh was powerful, and the two of them would be able to do little against someone who could detain him. He did not relish the task before them both, but it needed to be done.
The comlink in Macron’s wrist armor lit up. He thumbed the button with his other hand, and spoke. “This is Macron,” he cackled.
“Macron, this is Sildrin. I surely could use your expertise right now on this target we wish to interrogate. One of the prisoners has been murdered also. However, finding Manesh is more important.”
“Yes, my Quaestor. I understand. My apprentice Eldrad Sin has some skill in that area, as does Ashia Kagan. They may be able to assist you until I get back. Blinky is also at your disposal. The IT-3 has developed his own personality of late,” said the Sith. “Besides, you could always use some Krath witchery and ask the dead prisoner directly.”
The image of Sildrin smiled. “Of course. Hurry back, my Guardsman. Bring us news that our Proconsul will be united with us again.”
“Yes, my Lady,” replied the alchemist as the screen went dark. “Okay Malisane, we are off to that ice world. At least there won’t be any accursed bugs and filthy vermin there,” he spat.
NOTE: I am calling myself the Krath, and Archidal the Sith..
Eragon sat in a lounge, healing his wounds and controlling any pains. He now was once again a trusted member of the clan, and he had a team of three spies at his disposal. The Protector’s comlink signaled, and the face of Archidal Falgorn appeared.
“Eragon.” The scared Acolyte said. “I have spotted a figure approaching the shipyards. Should I go in?”
“Stay there. I will be there in a second.” Eragon replied.
“But...” Archidal mumbled.
“But what? Stay there until I get there, then you can leave.”
“Fine” said the Sith Acolyte. His face disappeared from the comlink.
Eragon ran outside of the base, the darkness of the night swirling around his black cloak. He quickly ran into the shipyard. If something was going to happen, it would have to be now. A tired and shocked looking Archidal greeted him.
“Someone was coming towards the shipyard. After we finished speaking, he just disappeared.” The Acolyte said.
“Hmmm.... Maybe he got in another way.” The Krath said. “Let’s go inside and check it out.”
“No way!” the Sith shivered. “I’ll stay outside. You go on.”
“Ok.” The Krath said.
He stepped inside the shipyard.
The Protector looked around the dark station. The air was tinged with a smell of oil and grease. At first, he saw nothing but supplies, but when he looked towards the place that he knew was where the Nebulon Frigate was kept, he saw a dark figure standing by it.
Amon was in his corters. It was well known his hatred for the Grand Master niether side could risk having him. Although the real grand master was stronger then Amon he would sertainly try to kill him. Amon needed to take a ship. He took his normal robe of the kreath order and and a all black one to wear. He kne what he had to do he had a feeling that he knew who the real one was. Although he may have hate Jac Amon had to edmit he was a good leader. He needed to investigate independently. He was thier to steal a ship. So far he didn't see anyone comming.
“Ashia, this problem of the two Jac Cotelins is really amusing,” said Ruluk, “You know well what happened with the republic once the clones became the republic army. This army became loyal to someone higher than them and only to him, whatever he wanted to do, his soldiers would do that. So if now the cloned person is the high-ranked man, then the ones who did this should be the “army.” This “army” doesn’t control enough and wants more and more power. So they use Jac as the power. The only bad thing is that I don’t know who they could be, why they want the power and how Jac was succesfully cloned.”
Ashia looked Ruluk for a while, then talked, “but, who is the cloned one?” “maybe we should ask the Jacs, not who is the real one, but things that even if they are the same on mind too, one of them will not answer correctly. It is just an idea, but I don’t think that question exists. Someone that doesn’t support none of them should search for it.”
“And who is that person, you?” said Ashia.
“no, I would really like to do that but I’m already suupporting the Jac that is still here with us; the same that you support.”
Ashia and Ruluk went to the place where Horus was practicing with the other eight members of the Jade Serpents. This training began since their last meeting, but this new meeting was about a small mission.
Ashia looked to her members and began talking, “We, the Jade Serpents, were chosen by our Quaestor, Sildrin, for a small mission. I’m not informed about what the mission is, but once Sildrin arrives here, we will talk about that, the only thing to do is to wait. I know it involves the problem Derev and Lucius had.”
Then Ashia walked towards Ruluk and talked, “you weren’t here last time. If you were, I wouldn’t have to explain everything to you and you wouldn’t lost a big part of your training with Horus. There’s nothing to do now, except for waiting. But you are the less prepared for this.”
All the members of the battleteam sat once Ashia sat, almost at the same time, making a loud noise on the place. But Sepros was quiet enough to make everyone understand what was happening there. This struggle would end in a war, and everyone knew that. But the things to stop it should have been done the earliest possible.
Derev awoke from his long slumber, and found for the first time in many days, the pain wasen't there. He moved his fingers and toes...still nothing. Derev went to rise from his bed, and was suddenly shocked in pain. He lay back down, surrendering himself to yet more time in bed.
As the clans were ready for war, Derev found himself angered for his actions, unable to participae, unable to make a contribution. The visits had become less frequent, and much shorter, it had become very apparant that everyone was busy with other things.
"Oh well" Derev sighed, as he pulled out his terminal and continued to work on his revisions to his documents.
Raven was thristy. Really thirsty, as he entered the Sadow lounge. With all the excitement and tension in the clan over the recent developments, had taken his relief at Korras being proved inoccent into paronoia as then second Jac appeared. He told the droid server to get him a whole jug of sake, which he'd accquired a taste for during his apprenticeship under Manji Keibatsu, who had something of a fetish for the rice wine.
The Krath was about to take a swig, when a flash of movement caught his eye. Alert but not so much as to attract unwanted attention, he caually glanced towards the side exit to the outside of the fortress. A black cloak shot throught the doorway, and the door shut silently. Ten seconds passed, and Raven set down his drink, ran to the door, and slipped outside.
His quarry was easy enough to follow, he didn't seem worried about being caught outside. Raven followed the black clad figure away from the fortress to the shipyards, noticing that he entered the dock with the new frigate.
Archidial felt something on his neck, he reached back to wipe the bug or whatever it was away, and went rigid at the touch of cold steel. Something breathed behind him.
"What the hell are you doing out here Archidial?" came the voice from behind him.
"None of your business. Who are you?"
"You can trust me, it's Raven, but first, what are you doing?" the voice returned.
The Sith felt the Force reinforce the the last part, but not the first. He told Raven what had happened, and released him. Archidial didn't even get to ask when the Hunter dragged him to the door, and found it jammed shut. After a moment of concentration, the greater Krath battered the door aside with the force, and motioned for Archidial to follow.
The Protector immeadiatly drew his weapon when he entered. Raven drew his masamune, blade outstreched to his side. Inside the metallic room, Eragon was unconcious on the floor, and a dark robed being stooped over him. Why hadn't he heard the battle, Archidial wondered, and dropped into a fighting stance.
Acara Rayden sat in his quarters on board Sapphire Squadrons base, the Sapphire Star. His mind was searching thought a deep darkness for the answers he required. He knew that sitting about wouldn’t get those answers however it could give him a start. Sighing the newly knighted Sith stood up, he was no closer to solving the problem. Standing up from his sitting position he walked over to his desk and after picking up his communications device spoke to the bridge.
“Prepare my Blade for immediate launch,” Turning off the device Acara gathered up his things, including his new lightsaber and headed out towards the hanger.
Walking into the Hanger Rayden once more looked at his Blade with satisfaction, the upgrades to the fighters Shield and Weapons had been a complete success, shield as in now it had some and weapons as in they were more like standard weapons. He climbed in and was about to leave the hanger when a communication came in from the bridge.
“Sir,” It was a familiar voice though Rayden did not yet know his name, “We have just received a status update from one of our Patrols.
“Send it down in text form to my Blade.” Rayden started up the Blade and got ready to leave as this was being said.
“Transfer complete sir.”
Smiling slightly Acara guided his Blade out the Star’s hanger and set a course for the planet below, time to have a closer look at what was going on.
The Deathshead and the Silooth left hyperspace around the iceworld. "We're here." Malisane's voice crackled over the communicator.
Macron nodded. "Scanning the surface," he replied, "minimal lifeform readings, no signals or energy readings."
"Yeah sounds about right," Malisane replied, "one big rock of ice. Lets get down there. I have to co-ordinates of the tunnel entrance, but the ground surrounding it is unstable and prone to avalanches I don't want us to have to dig our ships out after this is over. We'd better land futher afield and make our way there on foot."
"Agreed," Macron replied viewing the co-ordinates Malisane transmitted him, "reading stable landing site one mile from our destination. Lets get down there. Don't forget to wrap up warm."
The two ships entered the planets atmosphere.
Malisane descended the Deathsheads ramp, Gmork the reduras hound following him into the icy wind, the creature apparently unfased by the biting cold. The Aedile was wearing a snow suit and adjusted the temperature settings to compensate for the enviroment.
He could make out the red armoured figure of the battlemaster walking towards him, followed by his pet silooth. Gmork bounded over then stopped in front of the beetle and growled, his mouth drawing up revealing his razor sharp teeth. The beetle calmly observed the hound in a disinterested manner.
"Gmork!" Malisane called, "leave it alone and get back here."
Macron pressed a button and a repulsor sled drifted towards them, containing supplies and drilling equipment. "If what you say is true from the last time you were here the tunnel entrance is likely to be under a heavy ice covering, we'll probably have to dig down."
Malisane nodded. "Lets go then."
The two Sith and their respective pets made their way across the snow, the blowing flakes obscuring their vision. "I don't sense anything much," Macron said into his communicator, "something near but I don't know what."
Malisane nodded. Then he stopped suddenly. "I don't sense anything." he said quietly echoing the other Siths words.
"What?" Macron asked. turning to the Aedile.
"Last time I was here the draw from the crystal was so powerful I could feel it as soon as I entered the system Now nothing."
Macron considered this . "Maybe it's not active with Andredi gone," he replied.
Malisane shrugged. "I don't know."
"I sense something though," Macron said looking around, "something near." Suddenly he drew his saber as white shapes reared up around them. "Wampas!" he said igniting the blade.
Malisane drew his own, the red blade flaring up as the attacking creatures bore down on them. With a deep growl the black horned shape of Gmork bound past him, leaping at the throat of one of the beasts, his teeth ripping through the thick fur and turning it crimson, and tearing his claws down the beasts flanks.
The two Sith and the beetle followed into the attack, as the wampas pressed their assault.
The night was hot. The red sands were reluctant to give up their heat. Dozens of red-skinned warriors gathered around an intricately carved stone altar, atop which sat a weathered skull bleached white by the oppressive sun over many years. The largest of the red-skined beings raised a chalice of obsidian, blacker than night, above his head. The vessel was filled with blood. Who's blood was unknown. The warrior - chanting something in a language forgotten to all but the most dedicated Sith scholars - tipped the chalice, pouring some of the blood onto the skull. The blood flowed over the cranium, into the eye sockets and seeped out through the teeth. The altar was carved with small channels through which the blood flowed into a large bowl shaped hollow at the opposite end of the altar from the skull. Each of the red-skinned beings lined up, taking turns to anoint their foreheads with blood from the altar.
Revenant awoke with a start. It took him a few moments to get over the sense of disorentation that always followed these dreams. He was in his quarters aboard the Sapphire Star. For weeks now he had been dreaming of the ancient Sith, practising some unknown arcane ritual, the purpose of which was as much a mystery as the meaning of these visions.
He stood up and stretched. There were more important things going on right now than his dreams. The Brotherhood was on the verge of a civil war the likes of which hadn't been seen since the split from the Emperor's Hammer.
Clans had been accused of all sorts - from malicious acts of sabotage against each other, to plotting an all out war against the Dark Council itself. The Proconsul of Naga Sadow was still missing, and to top it all off there now seemed to be two Grand Masters, each almost indistinguishable from the other.
Revenant knew Jac reasonably well. He had handled many operations for the Dark Lord personally during the invasion of Antei's sunside. And one thing that the Commander was sure of was that Jac was a Sith - through and through. This new Jac seemed to have more in common with the Obelisk. It was not beyond reason that the Obelisk, tired of being viewed as little more than cannon fodder, had somehow cloned the Dark Lord in an effort to secure a greater base of power and influence.
Suddenly, his comm bleeped and he thumbed the 'recieve' button. "Go ahead," he spoke, and was answered by a young sounding deck officer.
"Commander Revenant," the officer addressed him," there's an incoming communique for you."
"Who's it from?" the Warrior asked. There weren't many people who would be contacting him at this time. Perhaps it was Malisane with new orders. He was sick of simply being ready for an attack. He'd prefer to be doing something about the situation. Or perhaps Manesh had been found.
"It's from Overlord Tron himself."
"Patch it through."
There was a brief crackle and the ethereal blue figure of Overlord Astronicus Aurelius Sadow coalesced in front of him. Revenant dropped to one knee. "Lord Sadow, how may I serve?"
"Greetings, Commander, you may rise." Revenant moved to his chair as the founder of Clan Naga Sadow continued. "As you are no doubt aware, these are troubled times. It would be beneficial to me to have a hand that can reach where ordinary methods cannot."
Understanding dawned on the Mandalore's face. "You're talking about the Black Guard."
A sly smile crossed the Overlords lips for the briefest of moments. "I have dispatched a 'care package' to the Sapphire Star, prepare to receive a Theta class shuttle."
The holocomm switched off and the Commander headed for the bridge to prepare, a vicious grin stretched across his countenance.
Zaknafein's head pounded as he slumped against the slick black steel of his prison. How he got here he didn't know, but his memories were taking their sweet time returning to him. His glowing eyes slitted against the bright glare, knowing that the lighting was intentionally made that way.
Mandalore's wrists burned and itched from the stun-cuffs and his feet were numb from the chains around his ankles, preventing him from making more than child-like steps if he wished to walk.
Man, this is worse than when I had to spend 10 years on Klipto IV for pirating the shipping lanes.
He groaned as he rolled over onto his stomach and somehow managed to flop on the low slung, brick hard, bunk a few feet away. The Chiss was shirtless, stripped of his boots, and left only with raggedy, ill-fitting, trousers that were shredded at the knees. A gash crossed his face, making his face feel like a mask of stone each time he blinked.
Heavy boot steps echoed down the prison block, and Zak cringed as the high-pitched whistled started up again. Slowly, he remembered just what had happened down in those sewers.
After he had dragged one CNS member back to be hand-cuffed by Shadow, another had hidden in the shadows, watching, waiting for the right moment to strike. Zaknafein remembered the jarring kick he had given the man he had fought earlier, and the slap from Shadow for doing it.
It seemed like hours that the man tortured the two, using both the arcane arts and Dark Side powers to slowly break down their defenses. The fact that Mandalore had been ambushed from behind had not registered until he felt the sharp sting of a tranquilizer needle in the flesh of his neck.
He remembered cursing Shadow as the man cleaned up his mess and fled, leaving the armored Chiss to face the wrath of his Clan alone. Then darkness had decended upon him like the black wings of ravens.
Deciding he had better get rest while he still could, Zaknafein forced himself into the velvet folds of sleep.
3 months before the beginning of the GJW
Sand crunched under his boots as he squinted across Yavin's dense jungle landscape, his nose wrinkling at a smell even his helmet scrubbers couldn't quite get out. His old DC-17 rested in his grip, its long muzzle blackened by years of hard use. The rifle that would eventually replace it rested in the hands of a nearby comrade, their armor nearly the same except for the color of their trim and kamas.
Both men saluted sharply as their "father" stepped out of the thick treeline, his own Mandalorian armor resplendent in the muggy air.
"As you know, I have a task for you, one that I have chosen you two to perform. Sachari, you will take the codes I have provided every Mandalore with, and use them as I will later dictate." Raidoner paused, the brought his full attention onto Zak.
"Should you succeed, you will be rewarded thusly. However," The steel in his voice was audible as Raid drew his own blaster and placed its barrel against the side of the Chiss' helmet. "should you fail, the consequences with be terrible to bear. Should you betray me, I will wreak my vengence on what is left of your corpse, and pronounce you Dae' Murmar, and leave your soul to the abyss."
"Yes, sir. I shall not fail. Your secrets will not pass from me."
"Good. Now leave. There is much work to be done......."
Zaknafein felt his dark skin break out in goosebumps as he reconized the one tread he would not have wished to hear in a thousand years.
Oh, Sithis, here we go.... he thought
Sildrin..... Accompanied by two soldiers and one droid that Macron had allowed her to use. It was not the fact that they had brought a torture 'bot, (He had expected that) but the fact that it had come from Macron chilled him to the core. Mandalore had seen what horrors the man was capable of, having seen him in action in the KROS, and he was not looking forward to the next couple of hours.
The Chiss' teeth ground sharply together as the heavy door slid open wide to admit Sildrin, who stalked into the room, followed by a hovering nightmare, but the two soldiers took their posts outside the cell.
"Well, traitor scum, you ready to meet your new best friend?"
The door to the Sapphire Star's bridge slid open with a hiss and Revenant stood in the portal for a moment, surveying the crew scurrying about the command deck in a desperate attempt to look busy. Gorg, the crow he had found on Korriban and Sapphire Squadron's unofficial mascot, flapped over and landed on his shoulder, making a playful snap towards the Commander's eyeball.
He stepped through the door and it hissed closed behind him. Still he struggled to shake the images of the ancient Sith from his mind. After this war, he vowed, he was going to do some research. A good place to start may be to pick Macron's brains.
Suddenly he was snapped from his reverie by the sound of bootheels ringing on the durasteel floors growing steadily louder. He looked up to see an ensign approaching. "Sir, we have a theta-class shuttle approaching. Should I open fire?"
Ah, the unbridled enthusiasm of youth, thought Revenant. "No, allow it to dock in my personal hangar. Inform the pilot that I will be waiting."
Half an hour later, Revenant returned to the bridge, dressed once again in the armour of the Black Guard of Naga Sadow. "Prepare my Interceptor," he barked to a nearby officer. "I'm heading planetside." With that, the Commander spun on his heel and strode off to the hangars.
Furred white shapes reared up around them, attacking with multiple roars. The silent approach and camouflage had served them well. However, they were now facing Force-users. Things were about to go badly for the unsuspecting Wampas. Their dense hide and tough fur offered no protection against lightsabers.
The twin Kresshian Sith swung their screaming blades, filling the biting cold air with the smell of burnt flash and hair. Gmork worried at the neck of one, tearing out the delicate flesh with a hungry chomp. The Silooth beetle was slurping up the remains of a Wampa that had been dissolved with it’s acid spray.
Malisane and Mononoke had their collective hands full. Over ten of the things had attacked, and several were quite large. A particularly robust blue tinted beast swung at Malisane. The Aedile responded by severing a paw with a flash of his sanguine beam. Macron crushed another's heart with the Force as he clenched his fist and yelled with glee.
The fight was soon over. Most of the wampas fled to seek easier prey. Some hid, awaiting the promise of carrion from the bodies of their own kind. Either way, the scouting party was left alone. Both Coruscanti asessed their surroundings.
The scene resembled the interior of a bloody icebox at a butcher’s shop. Even the spilled blood froze eventually, leaving dead wampa fur standing on end with clotted rime ice. It became eerily quiet. Nothing but a cold wind and the faint patter of light snow broke the silence.
"Hello from Coruscant," laughed Macron as he punched the auto-injector in his suit. The power of Orbalisk venom coursed through his veins. He clenched his metal teeth against the pain.
“I wonder what they eat. Probably each other and tauntauns. Anyhow, are you okay?” asked Malisane as he shut off his saber.
“No, I think I broke my left arm,” replied the alchemist as he winced under his faceplate. “That big one smacked me pretty hard while my guard was down. Thank Darth for the armor, or my arm would be off.”
“Can you still travel?” queried De’Ath.
“Certainly. It’s only a flesh wound,” giggled the Keibatsu. “The Orbalisk venom is working just fine. It doesn’t hurt so much. Anyhow, the terrain indicates we are almost right on top of the spot. I suggest we get that blas-drill rig set up and working.”
The machine was soon running. Perhaps they would have answers soon.
Amon was able to steal a Theta-class Shuttle due to another distraction. He saw some one ealse ealse in the ship yard with a shadowy fiqure. He didn't care who it was as long as Amon wouldn't regret who he was.(Occ:I don't mean to god-mod sorry if I am). He then noticed a ship. Not knowing it was the Sapphire Star he wanted to get away so that he wouldn't be attacked. But then he got a call on the com-link. It was a invitation. "The Commander Personal hangar?" Amon said rather suprised. "Yes he will be waiting for you." Amon at this time was confused but he began to wonder the possiblilities. Amon noticed a force essence he belived he felt before so he he slowly flew into the hangar that opned up for him.
The planet Aeotheran in the Orian system
Situated in orbit above the House Ludo Kressh world of Aeotheran was a flotilla of starships. It was the Aeotheran Defence Line, comprised of eighteen ships. The flagship, the Vibre-class Assault Cruiser Crimson Angel, was at the head of the flotilla. Blood Wings Squadron and Hawk Squadron were deployed on patrol missions.
The Crimson Angel's twin sister ship, the Astronicus' Reach approached the flotilla at half impulse.
"Signal the Crimson Angel and tell Line Captain Mass’ipa’skora that Lord Sadow has arrived to conduct an investigation at Ludo Kressh Base." Ordered the Astronicus' Reach's captain, Ximeno Chal.
The blue white holographic image of Line Captain Mass’ipa’skora appeared before Ximeno moments later. Despite the bluish glow of the hologram, Ximeno knew he was speaking with a calculating Chiss who would do everything by the book and request that even the Overlord, Lord Sadow, do the same.
"Captain Chal, we have been informed of your visit by the Quaestor." Began the Chiss, "However, I must insist that we follow Clan Regulations for Starship Proficiency before Lord Sadow launches his shuttle."
"We could do that, Captain," replied Ximeno, "but Lord Sadow has already launched and is on his way to the surface. He's in a bit of a hurry you see."
"This is outrageous!" Responded Mass’ipa’skora. "I shall place a formal complaint with the Consul at once."
The VAS Astronicus' Point landed on the platform designated to it by ground control. The ramp descended and out of the steam and jets of cooling gases walked Lord Sadow. Clad in his official robes and cloak he made his way along the walkway. The door at the other end of the walkway hissed open and the archpriestess Sildrin Rys, better known to her subordinates as Xia Long but always Sildrin to Tron, approached with open arms.
"Lord Tron, it is good to see you again." Sildrin said as she embraced him. Then turning about and walking alongside the Overlord she bagan to relate what had happened, what had been found out and what services would be required of him. "I wish to put this matter behind us so that we can deal with some other more important issues as soon as possible."
"I will do what I will do." Is all Tron simply said.
Sildrin walked next to Lord Tron, speaking quietly to him. "Our Consul Korras stepped down, with Manesh stepping up. If we only knew where he is. My Aedile Malisane and my Black Guard Macron are on a search for him. Yet I heard no news. Our newest member Ylith... ", the Quaestor sighed ".. he crashed onto Karufr.."
The Overlord stared at her: "What is he doing on the planet of Clan Taldryan..?" Sildrin shrugged: "I guess collecting informations. He could bring us very intersting data. And in case he is captured... he would be a great loss." Tron nodded, understanding that she would never admit to Taldryan in case of capture that Ylith had been send out on her command.
Finally they reached the interior, guards following them step by step. Sildrin continued: "A lot of things happened. I am indeed worried. One of our members is under arrest.. Zaknafein. As far as I was able to .. question him, he acted on order of Raidoner." Something within her voice told Tron that this questioning involved more than just kind words. ".. Raidoner... ", Lord Tron began, but was interrupted as the Dark Jedi Knight Ashia, accompanied by Protector Ruluk.
"You called for me, my Quaestor?" the dark haired Zabrak began. Icy blue eyes filled with pride looked at Sildrin. The Quaestor nodded: "I want you to send out a few people into the sewers, where Lucius and Eragon had been found. The other part...", the Blind Dragon held her breath, lowering her voice: "should go to Karufr and help Ylith Romanae. He crashed there. Find out what you can do. You have acess to all the resources we can offer you.. ships, weapons, the best equipment." Ashia saluted, and turned on her heels. "And Ashia... if anyone of the Jade Serpents is captured ... you will be on your own." The Dark Jedi Knight rested a hand on her hilt, a gesture as if she was saying: "They will never capture this one.."
The Valheru narrowed his eyes as he glanced onto the landing platform of the Taldryan base. He is here… The Obelisk thought as he moved close and closer, finally stepping onto the platform. Draken intended to be careless, now that he found the actual base he wanted to be found. He managed to escape capture from the guards encircling the perimeter. He could sense the Grand Master from far away as his force abilities were radiant enough to be felt widely over this sector. Draken took off what was left of his trench coat and threw it away, only wearing a vest to protect his upper body.
With a concentration of his strength mixed with the powers of the force, Draken leaped off of his treetop and landed with a somersault onto the landing platform. His eyes suddenly widened as he saw the Grand Master himself. The one known as the Blue Jac moved silently towards Draken.
“An Obelisk Templar trying to break into my home? Amusing…” The Grand Master stated as he took his lightsaber in hand and a smirk appeared onto his face. “Prove your worth in combat boy!”
Draken narrowed his eyes quickly as the tremendous speed, aided by the power of the force, took Jac to Draken in a split second, his figure a blur as he travelled towards him. Draken felt a sharp pain over his face and he suddenly found himself sliding across the landing platform, almost falling over the edge.
”Come on Valheru! You are better than this!” Jac shouted, taunting the younger Jedi. Draken pushed himself up, keeping his wits even after having survived for weeks and fatigue and hunger catching onto him fast.
Draken used his Valheru sword and pushed onto the Grand Master. The sharp metal catching onto the deck, screeching as it came closer to Jac. Though Draken came to pledge his allegiance to Jac, his loyalty was still questioned.
Draken stretched his legs as he pushed himself up. The Valheru Sword reflecting the last lines of sunlight back as it swung trough the air. In a slow motion Jac smirked as he touched the force, and before Draken’s prized sword could strike the Grand Master of the Dark Side, a massive explosion of force energy erupted between the two Jedi.
Draken flew backwards, landing hard onto the landing platform with a sickening crack, his right leg broken on two places while his mechanical arm was severed badly beyond repair.
The Valheru pushed himself up, growling at Jac before his eyes rolled backwards and he lost consciousness.
“Sir…are you alright? We heard fighting.” A security officer said and when he saw Draken onto the floor he turned back to the Grand Master, who waved away the comment before it was made. “I am fine. Put him in an escape pod and fire him back to Naga Sadow.”
”He has proven his loyalty, for that, I repay him by sparing his life…now do as I command before you suffer his fate may he not be so loyal.”
The officer nodded and moved Draken into the small hangar bay and placed him into a one person escape pod, though still crippled and bleeding, Draken was shot back into space hoping to be found soon.
tly.The two Sith unclipped the harnesses then looked around the tunnel. It was as Malisane remembered it, wide and dark, with daylight shining through the enterance above them the Tribunes drilling equipment had made. They broke out torches and shone them around the tunnel.
"Is that going to stay clear?" the Aedile asked dubiously, "last time I was here the entrance was covered up by drifting snow shortly after. There's no-one to transport us out this time."
Macron nodded. "The equipment will keep the entrance clear, and we can use these lines to pull ourselves up when we need to. We're fine."
"Good," Malisane replied, "friends though we are I have no wish to spend my final few days of this life trapped in here with you while the air slowly runs out."
Macron chuckled, "Don't worry."
The two Sith walked along the corridor, both feeling a sense of foreboding growing stronger with each step. For Malisane memories kept flashing back from a year ago, limping along here in the darkness, alone and injured by the fall.
"You never told me," Macron said quietly, "what happened to Andredi."
Malisane shrugged, "I assume after she rescued me she died of the parasite."
"I don't mean that," the Tribune replied. "You said she told you that you met as a Jedi Hunter. That was only a month or so after your encounter. What happened to her?"
Malisane stopped, his face wary. "I arranged things so we never met."
Macron turned to look at him. "How?"
"As you know the Society sends one of us out to investigate new force sensitives. By the tiem the report came in about her I was already Clan Envoy. I was able to cover up the information about her, and since as Adjutant I've kept her off the Society's radar as it were."
Macron considered this grimly. Malisane had taken an enormous risk. "Why?"
"Firstly to try and prevent a future that cannot happen." the Aedile replied.
Malisane considered this. "Her last words were that she wanted there to be an Andredi Gorbano somewhere who grew up happy. I felt I owed her that."
"Hardly characteristic of you," Macron said thoughtfully.
"I felt I had a debt to her for saving me," the Aedile replied, "I discharged it.
"You may have made things worse," Macron pointed out, "at least if you had brought her back to the Brotherhood she'd have been under our influence, right now she could be anywhere, you may have solved nothing."
Malisane shrugged and continued to walk. "We will see, I did what I thought was best at the time."
The continued to walk through the darkness, the sense of foreboding still with them. "This doesn't make sense." Malisane said thoughtfully.
"What doesn't?" Macron responded.
"We should be able to see the light by now, the chamber is just around the next corner. Last time this area was lit up by the crystal."
They moved quickly forward, rounded the next corner into a large dark area." Macron shone his torch forward. "Is that the crystal?" he asked illuminating a large object that faintly reflected the light from the beam.
"Yeah," Malisane replied, "that's why I haven't been able to sense anything, it's dead."
They slowly entered the chamber, shining their torches around at the walls. "Come on we'd better see if we can find Manesh," Malisane said quietly.
Black rage poured through Zak's body as the day's latest "questioning" brigade left his cell, which was now splattered with bloody hand-prints. Even as exhausted as the Chiss was, he could not banish the feeling of dread that made his stomach writh in slippery knots.
He knew he had told them something, but Sachari couldn't quite place his finger on it. While under the heavy influence of mind-altering drugs, and Sildrin's considerable Force powers, Zak could only hope he hadn't said anything that would cause his already crashing mission to end in flames.
I'll bet Thrawn would be doing 360's in his grave
A snicker echoed through his cell.
The mental picture that accompanied that only made him laugh harder.
"I'm glad someone's having fun."
Zak's head whipped around to glare at the door, and immediatly regretted it. His face was gripped in the vice-grip like hands of a black cloaked figure, but he only had to look at the Correllian Sand Panther decals on the man's boots to know who it was.
Yellow and red eyes bored into Zak's glowing ones, then foul breath, smelling of corruption and death washed over his face.
"I told you I wouldn't leave you behind. My contract will become null and void if I allow these Force users to kill you."
"Shad-" Shock made the Chiss' eyes widen weirdly.
The grip on his jaw stopped Sachari.
"I thought you left me here to save your own hide." the Knight hissed.
"I did, then was verbally vomited at by my superiors."
Zak face twisted into a snarl. "Why should I trust you?"
Shadow's face imitated a grin, but it did not reach his eyes. "You don't, especially since I'm the only way out of here for you." He tossed the pile of armor and weapons beside Zaknafein.
Without being told the Chiss strapped on his gear, placing his battered helmet on last, his weaponry clinking together softly.
"Fine, just get me the hell outta here."
The two men flew down the cell block like shadows, then dissapeared down another sewer entrance. They continued sprinting until they reached an makeshift hangar bay (Really just a large slab of steel piping), where one ship and a modified ARC-170 huddled beside each other.
Surprise lit up Zak's face as he reconized the R2 unit snugged behind the main cockpit.
Excited beeps and whistles erupted from the droid, which wobbled in its socket.
"I never thought I'd see the day when I would be glad to see you."
"Hurry up, it won't take long for them to miss you, especially Sildrin." Shadow snapped.
The Chiss climbed into the cockpit, and was surprised that it was already idling and ready to fly. Another point toward Scrap's new paint-job.
Zak flipped the repulsors on and turned his ship around, narrowly avoiding Shadow's black YT-1300, and began to slip down the pipe.
A tray clattered to the floor as the two troopers discovered the empty cell where the Dark Jedi Knight should have been placed. One of them paniced as he tried to contact Sildrin, but on the second attempt he succeeded.
"Mistress, the Chiss is gone. From the look of things, though, he can't have gotten far!"
An audible curse sounded from the comm's grill.
"I want him found!! Noone leaves or enters ANYWHERE until he is back in my cell!!!" she paused. "And I want the security holos of his block brought to me."
"As you wish."
Sildrin ground her teeth together. That Knight was only causing more trouble than he and his dispecable family was worth. She wished them a week in the Sith hell for that.
“ I agree, it’s quite useless. Whatever Force potential this crystal had, it’s gone now,” said the alchemist in disappointment as he took a sample. “Damn, that sucks bantha balls,” he muttered in sheer disappointment. “You see Manesh anywhere?” he asked as he shone his glow lamp around.
“No, but I found… her,” replied Malisane. The corpse of Andredi lay nearby. The parasite had consumed her from within, leaving a gory dried husk. It was a sad sight.
“Gross,” giggled Macron as he brought out a sample kit. He wondered what had done this foul deed. The results were grimly fascinating.
Malisane laid a hand upon his armored suit arm. “Not this time Macron, if you don’t mind,” the Aedile stated. His countenance was firm, but a powerful emotion struggled under his skin. “Sith live on passion. Surely you understand?”
Macron narrowed his bloody yellow eyes under his helmplate. Any other time, a person interfering with his alchemical research would be an annoying liability. Usually, they would shortly find themselves being used as the next experimental victim. However, even in the grip of Dark Side madness the Tribune realized the significance of the event. He respected the path to power borne of passion as a Sith. Besides, Malisane was a friend.
“As you wish my comrade,” he said with a silly giggle. “Anyhow, we should… hey what’s that?” he wondered as he pointed his light beam at the corner. A crumpled body lay there, and it appeared to be Manesh.
Both Sith swept over to the body. Macron and Malisane quickly realized he was still alive, although burnt from some energy discharge. Malisane administered first aid as he remembered his basic training. Macron prepared the vile chemicals that would restore the man to health.
Macron keyed his comlink, hoping the secure encrypted signal would be transmitted by the powerful relay aboard the Death’s Head al the way to Naga Sadow space. “My Lady Xia, we have him. He lives, albeit barely. We will depart immediately.”
Ashia stood before the Jade Serpents. Haggard faces stared back at her as they awaited word of their next assignment.
"Our Quaestor has charged us with two missions. As such, I will be dividing us up. Horus will lead, Kairus and Yukimura, your mission is go into the sewers where Lucius and Eragon were found and see what you can find out." She handed Horus a datapad with the mission details.
"I will take, Sanjuro, Ruluk and Xaviar and go to Karufr to find Draken. Let's get geared up and go." The Jedi Knight looked at the other datapad in her hands as the team dispearsed. Horus approached her hesitantly.
"Ma'am?" The Sith Warrior cleared his throat. "May I ask...the sewers?" He looked confused.
"Yes, that's where they were." She blinked at him for a moment.
"Why, me though?" He finally said what was truly on his mind.
Ashia's azure eyes darken as she turned towards him, her hand resting absentmindly on the hilt of her katana.
"Because I need someone who can lead these kids and keep them safe. Something or someone is in those sewers. I need to know they are coming back. Draken is an accomplished pilot, something severe must have happened for him to have crashed. I prefer giving this my full attention. Now is there anything else or are you done questioning my authority?"
"No, Miss Ashia. My apologies, I didn't mean to imply..."
"Horus, it's ok, I understand. I appreciate your wisdom and your counsel. I need you to lead them, for Naga Sadow."
He bowed quickly. "Yes, I will find out what happened to them down there and be in touch."
"Thank you, Horus, I knew I could count on you."
She watched as he moved away to give mission details to Kairus & Yukimura. She felt Sanjuro move to her elbow before he spoke.
"Mother? What about Uncle Shin'ichi? Isn't he coming too?"
"No, he has other things to attend to for the clan." She turned towards the young boy, his amethyst eyes were ringed with circles. The past few weeks had been hard on everybody.
"Don't worry, this will all be over with before you know it and we'll be back home with dad." She gave him a reassuring smile as he went to gather his things. The Jedi Knight watched with pride as her team gathered thier gear together, eagerly looking towards the next mission for thier clan.
Malisane waited, watching curiously as Macron began to attack small rings on the Consuls elbows and knees. "What are you doing?" he asked finally.
"Miniature repulsors," the Tribune replied, "they won't make him float but it's going to be easier to carry him out of here. Just take a few minutes to align them."
"Fair enough." the Aedile replied.
He waited, feeling the now cold surface of the crystal, still unable to work out what had happened. Suddenly his head snapped up as a tremendous creaking noise came from above. "What was that?" he asked.
"Dunno." Macron replied, still adjusting the settings.
Another loud noise came from above, this time a cracking noise, and a little shower of dust fell down on the Aedile. His eyes closed for a second, sensing his surroundings, then his face blanched. "Mac we're out of here, now, the damn caves collapsing!"
Macron looked up, "You sure?" Another creaking noise came from above, louder now and a few rocks bounced down onto the floor. "Yes you're sure." The tribune hoisted the Consul over his shoulder and they began to move for the tunnel.
"Quickly," Malisane said as they headed down the tunnel. As if to encourage them there was a large ripping sound then the ground shook and the walls rattled as tonnes of rock and ice collapsed behind them into the cave. "Come on!"
Macron grunted and began to move quicker, the repulsors weren't entirely correctly aligned but they helped as the Tribune half loped and half ran under the reduced weight of the Elder. He winced slightly at his injury but ignored it and continued.
As they cleared a corner, the Aedile leading the way shining his torch ahead, with another crash the section of tunnel behind them collapsed, shaking the ground and making them stumble. "If that happens ahead of us we're screwed!" Macron gasped, still half running.
"I know!" Malisane replied, "Do you want me to take him?" he said glancing back.
"I'm fine lead on!"
They continued, the tunnel shaking and rocks falling behind them until they reached the entrance, the ropes still dangling down. "You go ahead." Macron said quietly, "I'll tie him and you can pull him up."
The Aedile quickly climbed up the rope, out of sight of the Tribune, as Macron secured a makeshift harness around the Consul. "Ready!" Macron called up and Malisane pulled the Consul upwards.
Macron waited a few moments then as a final crash rocked the area behind him he followed.
On the surface the Tribune found the Aedile waiting next to Manesh. The Elder was laid on the snow next to him, Gmork and the beetle stood nearby. The ground under them was shaking now, as was the mountain above. "Don't know how but that crystal seems to have been keeping this thing up, we're about to get a thousand tonnes of snow on us!" Macron shouted above the rumbling.
"Yeah I agree!" Malisane shouted back, looking up into the falling snow.
"We need to get out of here!" Macron told him.
"Taken care of!" as the sound of repulsors came from above, and the Tribune could make out the Firespray descending towards them, "got it on beckon call!"
"Cool!" Macron shouted back as he watched the ramp lowering.
A few minutes later they lifted off, Malisane piloting as he nosed the craft upwards. Beneath them the ground collapsed and the avalanche roared down to fill the gap. "We're clear!" Malisane shouted as the Deathshead soared above the ice and next to him Gmork grinned, his tongue lolling.
Macron entered the cockpit. "Got Manesh secured in the prisoner storage. He's stable but need to get him back to Sepros."
"Want to stop and pick up the Silooth?"
Macron shook his head. "We can slave it," he replied tapping at a few controls, "got it!"
As they left the atmosphere, Macron watched as the Silooth pulled along side in formation.
Macron stood up. "I'll go and check on the Consul."
Malisane nodded quietly, looking at the rear display and the iceworld.
"Whats up?" the Tribune asked, stopping.
"It's over," Malisane said quietly, his eyes still on the planet, "the crystal destroyed, the cave collapsed, and I'll probably never see Andredi now"
"That's good," Macron said clapping his hand on the Aediles shoulder, "you're free of that destiny. You're your own man."
"Yeah," Malisane replied, "I suppose so."
Macron turned and headed back to Manesh.
A few seconds later the two ships entered hyperspace, bound for Sepros.
Archidial lept out to get Eragon, and Raven sprang at the cloaked being. The thing moved at incredible speed; Archidial never made it close to his fellow Protector before the dark figure grabbed him and bolted away, dissapearing out the door and into the cold night outside.
"Damn," Raven cursed as he ran to the door, and stopped there, shaking his head. Archidial started ou the door, but Raven put his arm in the way. "No point, we should tell the summit." A low rumble echoed in the hangar.
Raven abruptly broke into a run in the direction of the sound, and Archidial ran to keep up. The Hunter weaved around the huge Frigate that had yet to be put into space, and into the main hangar area. The Silooth and the Deathshead were coming down, carrying two people Raven knew he could trust.
Macron and Malisane emerged from their respective ships, bearing a repulsorlift stretcher between them. Raven walked up to meet them, stopping dead at the sight of his Consul in the stretcher. Forgetting about all his other worries, he looked over Manesh through the Force. Alive at the least he concluded.
"How bad is it?" Archidial asked.
Malisane looked at the two Krath. "We don't know, he needs medical attention now. Where is the ProConsul?"
"I can help with that. Kat's in her office I beleive," Raven replied, "Should I go get her or do you want come along? I need to talk to her anyway."
The journey to the Taldryan Planet of Karufr did not take too long. Karufr was located on the Taldryan system of Kr`Tal. The four members of the Jade Serpents were going to rescue another member of theirs. Ylith had crashed and Taldryan patrols would surely destroy him, viewing him as a spy. He had to have some help from his battleteam, and Ashia, Ruluk, Xaviar, and Sanjuro were the right people to do the job.
They didn’t knew, however, that Ylith had already been sent back to Sepros after a rough battle with the blue Grand Master. They were going to search for someone that wasn’t there. And they could end up in serious trouble with Taldryan forces if found.
They weren’t discovered by the Taldryan forces when they landed. They arrived without too much danger. Without losing any time, they began searching for their friend. It didn't take very long for the Taldryan clan to find the four Naga Sadow members.
As fast as an animal could surround it's prey, the Taldryan clan had surrounded the Naga Sadow patrol.
“Not this time, people,” said Ashia her lightsaber igniting swiftly. The amethyst light exploded out of the handle, lighting the area around them. Xaviar and Sanjuro grabbed a Force Pike and Ruluk grabbed his Shock Boxing Gloves. The four were ready for a battle with enemy forces.
Whether or not those were Taldryan forces or not, the Naga Sadow people couldn’t tell in the dark of night. One thing that could defeat them, however, and that they didn’t know was there, was the blue Jac.
Xaviar and Sanjuro both were real experts with Quarterstaff weapons, they worked together to battle enemies by joining their strength and using one another as help. Both were doing a great job as Jedi Hunters. Ruluk would leave enemies stunned for Ashia to take down easily, a few he defeated alone though.
Ashia was surrounded by three men with swords, but she was better than them, and could defeat one with the lightsaber and use him to defeat another easily. Only one of the three was left and Ruluk jumped him from behind, allowing Ashia to finish him.
After a few minutes, the enemy was down, some hurting, others dead, and others just slightly hurt and trying to escape. The jungle was covered by their defeated foes and the dark of the night.
The Sadow Palace, three days later.
The hall bustled with black robed figures as over fifty members of Clan Naga Sadow stood within it, from Apprentice to Elder. Speculation concerning recent reports from Antei had caused intrigue and debate and many expected the answers to come now. The summons from the Consul, Dark Adept Manesh Sadow, had brought all available members back to Sepros and into this hall. All expected something important to come out of this gathering. All had been pleased that their Consul had made a near full recovery following his return from the iceworld Koplar.
The doors swung open and a figure entered, dressed from head to toe in the ceremonial armour of the Captain of the Black Guard. Battlemaster Godo Nurok strode to the front and shouted "Silence all of you, for his eminence, the Consul of Clan Naga Sadow, Dark Adept Manesh Sadow!" The hall fell silent as the robed figure of Manesh entered the room, followed by Pro Consul Kat Pridemore and former Consul Korras. The three walked up onto the platform. Manesh looked at the assembled faces. "Dark Greetings members of Clan Naga Sadow. I have come before you to bring you up to date of recent events within the Brotherhood and our Clan's response to them."
He looked around the hall. "As you are all aware Clan Naga Sadow has sworn allegiance to the Red Grandmaster, who we have an unwavering belief is the true Dark Lord of the Sith. Two other Clans, Tarentum and Plagueis share our faith and support us in this. As you are also aware, the three other misguided Clans have pledged their support to the false Grandmaster. They must be made to regret their foolishness and misguidance!"
A burst of applause rocked the room and the Consul let it continue for a few moments before waving his hand and the room fell silent again.
"Between us and our allies we have over the last three days begun preparations to capture Antei, the centre of the Dark Brotherhood, in support of Lord Cotelin. With that in mind today I am dispatching a taskforce to Antei, as are Clans Plagueis and Tarentum. This taskforce waits in orbit around Sepros, and many of you will be joining it following this announcement to lead our forces in battle on Antei."
He paused, then indicated the Obelisk Elder next to him. "Dark Adept Korras, Consul Emeritus and Field Marshal of Antei has agreed to take command of our forces leaving for Antei, assisted by your Pro Consul."
Korras next to him nodded. "We have co-ordinated our strategy with Clans Tarentum and Plagueis. We will be supporting Plagueis attack on the Dark Hall, and securing the area, and destroying any forces of the three misguided Clans we encounter. I will be informing members of their individual assignments once we reach Antei. For all of you who are accompanying the taskforce, we have no doubt whatsoever that we will be successful in this venture and each and every one of you has a part to play in this. For those of you who are remaining behind the safety of the Orion system is with you, and your Consul and myself have absolute faith you willl protect our home worlds during this time."
Manesh nodded. "We will be victorious, have no doubt of that in your minds. The return of the true Grandmaster to the Iron throne will bring a time of renewed prosperity and strength to the Brotherhood and to Clan Naga Sadow. We will be victorious!"
Following these words once more the hall burst into applause and cheering and this time the Consul let it continue as the Clan expressed it's desire for triumph.
A few hours later, Korras sat in the command chair of the Wandering Soul, flagship of Clan Naga Sadow, and Pro Consul Kat Pridemore and Rolemaster Derev Niroth stood either side of him.
"Are we ready?" the Obelisk demanded.
Kat nodded. "All members and crew have reported in. The Fire of Sepros and the the Crimson Angel and the other task force vessels report their readyness to depart."
"We're packed in tight," Derev added, "Each of our vessels burst at the seams with troopers and equipment. Ideally we could have used more ships, but I understand the reasoning of a decent defence force remaining behind."
"Indeed," Korras replied. He smiled in satisfaction. "Order all ships to prepare the jump to hyperspace, we can not delay a moment longer."
A few minutes later the taskforce entered hyperspace.
The Rollmaster of Nagas Sadow stood uneasily, staring out of his window. He'd been lucky to have his own room, nearly everyone not on the summit was bunked up with at least one other person, but thankfully the journey wasen't overly long.
Reflection had been the rule for the last few hours, as everything that'd happened in the last two months was coming to focus. Not a month ago, he'd nearly killed Korras, as the powers of an Elder flowed through him. The injuries he sustained still were with him, merely holding a lightsabre was a source of pain. However, in this, pain would be no obstacle. Fighitng for the future of the Brotherhood was all that mattered.
His orders lay on his bed, his exact role in this mission. Even having read them a hundread times, he still couldn't comprehend what was about to happen. To lead forces into battle, on Antei, of all places, surely no one ever thought it woulc come to this.
Having spent the duration of the journey in the flight simulator, Derev felt slightly more comfortable with his mission. Overall command of the air assault and air support missions had been given to him, with Lucius and Ylith as his two wing commanders, each with thier own mission.
While the thoughts of protecting Plagueis' ground troops was rather annoying, it was more then that now. War was coming, and the Warrior would be fighting for control of the very air over the Dark Hall.
"Commanders to the Bridge" a naval officer announced over the comm system. Derev quickly made his way to the command deck, already ready for war. As he arrived, he took a place at a navigation panel, and took in the situation. The other commanders arrived in short order, and all took positions around the bridge.
"We're closing in on Antei" the same naval officer announced.
"Very Good!" Korras announced, adorned in his Field Marshall's garb. "I do believe I'll take my planet back now" Korras smirked, referring to his title.
"All pilots report to your ships, I say again, all pilots report to your ships, Wing Commanders to the Bridge" Derev announced over the comm system. As Lucius and Ylith appeared on the command deck, Korras continued speaking with his commanders about the ground invasion. Derev knew his role, and the current discussion was irrelevant. However, Lucius and Ylith were another matter. They had very important roles to secure the skies, and ward off enemy fighters. The skies of Antei would be nasty tonight.
"Get to your ships gentlemen" Korras announced as they neared the drop off point. As the three of them went to thier ships, Korras called Derev back.
"You might need this" Korras said quietly, handing him an old, beat up looking blaster. "It's done me well, if you should have to leave your ship, you'll need it".
Derev took the blaster, embracing his old Master, and left the bridge, nodding to his fellow commanders.
"All Groups Report In" Derev yelled into his helmet as he completed his pre-flight checklist in his Modified TIE Advance, recently renamed the 'Relentless'.
"Group 1 Ready" Lucius announced
"Group 2s Good to Go" Ylith added
"Alright gentleman, good luck, I'll see you on Antei"
Moments later, the ships dropped out of hyperspace just short of Antei, and a swarm of fighters came forth from Naga Sadow.
"Our friends are waiting just ahead" Derev announced, as he picked up thier allied clans fighter signals. Derev sent the Plageuis and Tarentum groups thier orders, and watched as his small fleet of fighters formed up, representing three clans of the Brotherhood.
"Derev to Korras, Operation Firefly is a go. Repeat, Firefly is a go"
"Very well Derev, Godspeed" Korras responded
With that, the task force of fighters took off towards thier targets, and the landings began for Naga Sadows ground forces.
Draken grumbled as he pushed his fighter forward. Enemy fighters whizzed by and some were picked off by Draken's
fire. Suddenly a bleeping sound indicated an incoming message from Lucius who was flying right beside him.
"How are you coping Ylith? Lucius said while Draken made a barrel roll to avoid enemy blasters.
"...I dispise flying...what the hell was Derev thinking?" Draken replied, still angry about the position he was in.
The Tie Interceptor that he chose was not a very bad choice regarding his foe's, still, Draken saw no honour
gained in fighting from within a mechanical bird.
Draken flew low over the battleground, seeing the enemy army aproach his friends with a force that was not to
be underestimated and the more Draken glanced upon their numbers, the more he longed for the taste of their blood.
Suddenly the Obelisk was awoken by an alarming bleep and when he glanced onto his radar screen he could see multiple
dots closing onto the center of the screen, indicating that some people on the ground had missile packs and used them.
"Ylith! You have missiles on your tail! evade!" Lucius shouted trough the commlink. Draken sighed and replied
dryly while manouvering, "You think?!"
Draken pushed upwards as a missle homed in too close for comford. But instead of whizzing by, the missile exploded
below the craft the Valheru was trying to fly. He cursed as every statistic went into the red and engines failed. Smoke
erupted from the tail of the craft as it lost altitude.
Y..th...aw..er me....re...y.o...l.r.ght?...c.me..in..!" The commlink cracked as Lucius was trying to reach him, but
before Draken could answer the console exploded.
Using every bit of Valheru strength he had he punched the door on top open then jumped out to find the Tie exploding
onto the enemy forces only two seconds later. Draken fell down, twirling around the length of his body to slow down a
little before he landed onto his feet with a large thud.
The Valheru narrowed his eyes and the lizard like pupil slids narrowed as well into thin lines, watching the surrounding
forces carefully trough the dust and smoke without hurting his eyes. Appearently no one really saw him land onto the
ground due to the smoke development and the explosion. As an Obelisk, Draken wanted to go out and slaughter them,
but as a former Valheru General ages before, he knew that without help he wouldnt stand a chance.
Draken thought about how the Blue Jac betrayed him for his loyalty and erupted a vicious attack onto Draken, causing
him to almost die before he reached the home planet of Naga Sadow.
Time for revenge... - he thought - If I die now, I shall die with honour!
Draken pulled the Valheru sword from his back, the huge sword engulfed in the sapphire blue flames was pulsing,
hungry for blood and the destruction of flesh. With a roar that caused nearby soldiers to flinch, Draken erupted from
the black smoke that shrouded his presence only moments ago. And at the same time he pushed his attack, another
shout filled the air as Korras commanded his forces to attack.
The Valheru General forced a grin as he noticed how wonderful Korras' timing was placed. Draken ran towards the first
line of soldiers, his robotic and metal armoured arm held in front of him while his right arm held the impressive blade
behind him, scratching trough the soil as he moved towards the group. Blasters were fired and Draken got hit at his metal
arm a few times but none did any impressive damage, and before they could fire a new round the blade shot up, cutting
trough flesh and bone diagonally.
Quickly the Obelisk unsheated his short left handed Katana with his left metal arm and threw it to his left, taking down a
sniper that was ready to pick him off from a relatively short distance. Behind him, soldiers fired shots again and with his
strength he pushed himself into the air, avoiding laser fire and throwing his huge blade towards the band of soldiers.
Their captain was the first to die as the impressive blade smashed trough his chest and engulfed him in blue flames,
taking his soul.
Draken landed before the ground and those left standing only heard a hiss before being slaughtered by the yellow
bladed lightsaber of the Valheru.
"This is more like it..." Draken silently told himself as he placed his Valheru sword onto his back again and glanced onto
a new set of soldiers running his way.
"Bring it on..."
“… firefly is a go..” crackled the comlink aboard the Silooth as the alchemist entered the atmosphere.
“Copy that,” replied Macron as he fiddled with the switches. “Am proceeding to landing area seven-foxtrot. Will begin artillery assault as soon as I link up with the supplies and recon info. Macron out.”
As the fighters swirled and dueled above, Mononoke slipped by them with the rest of the ground transports. The Naga Sadow sky warriors had done a nice job of clearing the way, and a landing strip was already bombed clean. “Excellent,” he muttered as R-3 landed the Silooth smoothly.
The cockpit popped open with a hiss, and his Sith security droid jumped from the backseat to follow him. Mononoke strode up to the officer in charge of the unloading.
“Seargeant… Sarthim, I presume?” The Seprosian looked at him quizzically until the identification was made.
“Yes, Tribune. The weapons and ammunition are ready and awaiting your orders,” replied the grim faced man.
“Very well. Take me to the barrage command center, and let’s get this vicious party started. I think we should open up with the chemical weapons on their communications centers first, to give them time to disperse before the ground forces go in.”
“As you wish,” responded the sallow faced Seprosian with a bow. The two entered a mobile artillery platform, and set to work. Soon, all hell broke loose upon the Blue forces as the skies rained exploding death upon them.
Shinichi Endymiron K
Warm winds made warmer by the throng of people blew through the crowded streets of the city. Shin'ichi made his way about like any other citizen of Antei. His head was not downcast, yet he didn't challenge anyone, he walked with purpose, but not a soldier’s determination. With any luck he'd be long gone before the power sub-station blew. He hoped the rest of the teams would meet with similar success, but he'd been in too many scrapes to hope too hard.
He landed on Antei a week ago, as a refugee from one of the war torn worlds of the Great Jedi War. Several teams of Black Guard had all arrived separately and at different times, some masquerading as refugees like Shin'ichi, some as workers, some even as volunteers for the City Guard. For days they planned their strikes, coordinated escape routes, and secured safe houses. Yet they never met. Each two man cell operated independently of the others. Each was given a list of primary and secondary targets. The secondary’s being the primary of another cell.
The Archpriests thoughts snapped back to the present as an explosion rocked the sector and the power died all along the avenue. He stood in mock awe for several moments. Surely someone would notice a person going about as if nothing had happened. So he stood and waited, and when the power failed to kick back on after several moments he allowed himself a small smile. Ashia, his partner in this endeavor had also succeeded. Her task was to disable the emergency backup generators for this sector.
When the awe of the moment passed and the people returned to their own realities the Archpriest began to move again. The assault should begin soon. The Forces of Naga Sadow should be preparing and advancing on the city even now. He prayed that the cell responsible for knocking out the city's communication grid had brought their A-Game. Anything less and they'd be dead, and a lot of good soldiers with them. Shin'ichi wound his way back to the safe house. Tomorrow he would hit the next target on his list. Tonight he would rest.
The planet looked sureally calm from Derev's vantage point, high in the atmosphere of Antei. The Modified T/A was holding steady in position, the cloaking device working perfectly, however draining it was on himself to keep it going.
"..have...sev..mission proceeding" the commlink crackled as Derev continued making marks on his displays, tracking the various missions of the air and ground landings. For what seemed like hours, checkins continued as various grounnd assault forces landed at thier targets. Combat engagement reports were beginning to trickle in, indicating his fighter forces were now engaging. Arcona in particular seemed to be causing trouble.
"N-S Seven-D to N-S Seven, Come in N-S Seven"
"This is N-S Seven, go ahead Lucius" Derev replied
"Ylith is down, say again, Ylith is down. Looks like he survived, but he bit the big one" Lucius replied
"Very well, I'll take his spot" Derev replied, killing the comm signal
Derev keyed in several commands, and disengaged his cloaking device, and quickly fell into the atmosphere, as if a rock falling from the sky. His sensors picked up the signals from Yliths wing, and he adjusted course to fall into step with them. As he approached, he saw a squadron of fighters intermixed with the wing, and Derev began targetting and subsequently shooting down the Arcona craft with missiles.
Quickly, Derev's advantage was lost, and he was in the fight just as much as everyone else. Switching to blasters, he performed some rather unorthadox moves, granting him several kills.
On the ground far below, the first of Naga Sadow's ground forces were landing, finding a great deal of enemy resistance.
The dark skies overhead were filled with flashes and bursts of light as the battle raged high above the Antei hills. Mononoke watched with awe as the occasional fireballing fighter burned it’s way down through the atmosphere. Rarely, something bigger would come down far away with long trails of light and a faint thunder. The ecological damage to Antei would be catastrophic.
Macon’s artillery command group had delivered a short initial salvo of rapid dispersant light chemical weapons against a particular targeted Communications node in Milmefia. It was now night as they sat in the mobile platform, and Shin’Ichi had just called in.
The Archpriest huddled in the bathroom of the safe house, hoping the pipes, water and wires would help defeat listening devices. “What’s going on, NS-Twenty?” asked the Krath as he fed text through the secure encrypted beam. “You awake at this hour, and not a soldier? I didn’t know you had the like that.”
“I don’t sleep much, N-S Nineteen. It takes away from my studies. The chemicals take care of that. In any case, we had a couple of droids and a few regulars drop by for a spell,” replied the alchemist as he pecked at the pad. “They are a non-issue now. In fact, one might be good for… well never mind that.” It was unfortunate that the text could not fully express his emotions.
“Any news on target alpha two from N-S 3?” queried the infiltrator impatiently. He did not mince words. This information was vital. He had to know if the spy and informational network had assessed the status of the targets accurately. He already had the burst of data stream, but verification was always good.
“Your communications target should be quite weak right now. They have been stressed. We hit them hard with chem-ordnance earlier this evening.” hissed Macron as his fingers rippled across the keys. “As well, we have their locale programmed so we can suppress them with accurate force at will. And there is the usual cocktail of other… things. Let me know if you need anything.”
“Roger that. I hope to hell we don’t, you sick bastard. I’ll be in touch and will finish the neutralization of the node. Does that stuff hang in the situational area long?” asked the Black Guard with concern as he smiled wryly. “I’m bringing the sealed gear of course.”
“No, it should have dispersed by now. It only resides and collects in organic tissue, a light debilitating agent. At least, that's what the command folks tell me. Just don’t eat any food or game thereabouts. Or any of them,” replied Mononoke as the ghostly green datapad link was closed.
Lt. Colonel Jvis Tranesti of the 9th Talydran Battalion paced around the command room. He was apprehensive. Reports of Naga Sadow forces landing had become to drift in, and reports of shelling elsewhere on the planet were coming in, along with air attacks against installations. What was rumour and what was accurate needed discerning. He was damned if this base was going to fall.
"You would do well to calm down Colonel," Haradar said from nearby. The Obelisk Templar was sat calmly with his feet up on a console, much to the private annoyance of several of the officers staff who were sat nearby. "Your scouts will return soon and then we will know the enemies intentions. Besides, this facility we chose to reinforce is well defended and has too many anti personell weapons I do not personally believe they will be foolish enough to try an open attack, they would loose too many troops."
Tranesti nodded. "I hope you are right." He looked around at the staff working at the terminals. They were all intensely studying them and the officer could feel their apprehension just like his own, none of them shared the Obelisk's confidence.
The door opened and a lieutenant entered and saluted. "Colonel the scouts have returned with news." he reported.
"Show them in immediately!" Tranesti ordered as Haradar swung his legs off the console and stood up.
Three Talydran troopers, wearing helmets and light armour, entered the room. The corporal saluted while the others stood to attention, rifles by their sides. The door slid shut behind them.
"Report corporal." the Colonel ordered.
"Sir, the enemy forces are five miles to the west of here, they have made a landing but do not appear to be moving in this direction."
"Good," Tranesti said with a surge of relief, "we need to keep watch on them and report if they change their plans."
The corporal nodded. "Yes sir."
"Wait a minute," Haradar said, the Templar coming forward. He stared at the corporal. "Spies!" he shouted, reaching for his saber.
"What?" Tranesti asked stepping back in alarm.
He watched in horror as the corporal dropped his rifle and drew a lightsaber, blade igniting as he leapt forward to meet the blue blade of Haradar.
Tranesti reached for his sidearm as the other crew in the room got to their feet. He watched helplessly as one of the scout troopers brought his rifle up and fired, before pain surged through his chest and he fell, his uniform smoking. The other trooper fired as well, quickly scything down another two of the command staff as they reacted slowly to the threat.
Haradar faced the corporal, saber in hand. "Who are you?"
The corporal wrenched off his helmet. "Aedile de Ath, House Ludo Kressh."
"Curse you," Haradar said as he leapt forward, saber arching towards the Sith's head.
Malisane blocked, and struck back, their blades crackling as they fought.
As the remainder of the command staff lay on the floor dead and dying, Sin wrenched off his helmet and moved to the door, quickly sealing and locking it before fusing the lock. He glanced at the Obelisk and the Aedile fighting. "Acara, signal Xayun to proceed, I'll start disabling the weapons."
Outside, another figure in the armour of the Talydran forces crept through the ranks, as yet the alarm didn't seem to have been raised. Xayun smiled to himself, this was too easy. As the Black Guard moved forward a few troopers glanced in his direction and then looked away. Security was pretty lax he noted with disapproval. He moved forward to the entrance to the power generator, slipping inside. A guard stood in front of him. "What do you want?" he demanded.
Xayun moved closer to him, and the guard began to raise his rifle as the Sith failed to respond. Xayuns fist surged forward and poleaxed the guard before he could fire. The Sith quickly dragged the body over to a quiet corner out of view of the door.
The Black Guard glanced around the room, sensing no other guards. "Very sloppy." he muttered as he took his helmet off. He reached into his backpack and took out the charge, before clamping it onto the shell of the generator and setting the timer. He smiled to himself. "Device planted."
"Get clear then Xayun and find somewhere to hold up." Sin replied. Xayun nodded and put his helmet back on before leaving.
Haradar stiffened as Malisane's saber sliced through his chest cavity, before falling to his knees, blood bursting out of his mouth. Malisane kicked his body aside. "Whats the status Acara?" he asked.
"I'm scrambling the turrets Mal," he replied, "taking out the auto targeting. Best I can do. They can still fire them manually but once Xayuns device goes off the power should be cut to them, or most of them at least."
Malisane nodded. He glanced at Sin, who was stood by the door, saber in hand listening to the banging.
"They're going to be through this in a few minutes." The Knight reported.
Malisane nodded. "Well in less than that they should have other things to worry about."
A minute later, the installation rocked as the power generator exploded, sending nearby troops rolling in flames. Another nearby building was on fire and confused troops milled about trying to extiguish it and their stricken comrades.
In the communication room Malisane nodded as he heard it and the lights in the room flickered and went out, before they were replaced by the red emergency lighting.
"Thats it he said, signal Lt. Colonel Terel and order him to bring the 1st Aeotheran in, these fools won't stand against him. Then we'd better get out and join the fighting."
"Yes Mal." Acara replied with a grin.
Like chess pieces on a life sized board, things began to fall into place. Reports coming in indicated that Malisane had been successful in his mission, and the the Taldryan Base Camp would soon belong to Naga Sadow, allowing refueling and re-arming of the task forces fighters and bombers.
"Tee Eff El to Shiyko" Derev buzzed over his comms panel, narrowly avoiding a barrage of anti aircraft lasers
"This is Skikyo, go ahead Task Force Leader" the Aedile replied
"Bring down Sapphire Squadron and the Night Falcons, and I need you to take over for a while, I'm due in the rear for a briefing. We're doing well, but we're gonna need our force using pilots to finish this up."
"Very good Derev, I'm on my way"
"Imperial, Revanant, Get your butts to your fighters, we're going down" Shikyo announced "Apparantly Derev's tired already" he laughed, as Sapphire Squadron and the Night Falcons prepared to launch thier fighters. Soon, the might of Naga Sadow's best fighters would be upon the battlefield.
"Shikyo, I'm breaking off, I'll contact you later, cover my retreat due east"
"Roger that, see ya later Derev" Shikyo replied, as Sapphire Squadron cleared an escape route to the east, allowing Derev to escape. Derev wasen't going to the rear for a briefing however, he had somewhere else he needed to be, and that couldn't risk going over the open channels.
The city appeared as though it was made of pure metal. The exterior walls valuted 10 meters into the sky, its factories and machines of war towered above the rising sun of Antei. Turrets and SAMs covered the city. It was here the the Brotherhood manufactured it's weapons of war, and it was here that Taldryan had made thier final stand on Antei. Down below, the Black Guards reports insinuated as many as 15,000 Taldryan troops awaited us. On the vast airfields of the city, lay in wait the fighters that would defend her skies. 50,000 innocent civillians also populated this vast dark side city.
Derev held his distance 40km above the cities, not visible to anyone who might be looking. 50km to the west, Malisane was currently on a mission to capture Taldryan's last command post outside of the city. Far below, the Black Guard operations had already hit some critical targets, more would be hit in the coming hours.
Throughout the plains surrounding the city, Naga Sadow ground forces were quietly beginning to take up positions, however, the distinct lack of reports from thier scouts should have alerted Taldryan to thier prescense already.
Everything was in place. Coded communications confirmed the Black Guard were underground and ready for the engagement. With a final sensor sweep, Derev sent out the coded communication to all of the task force.
"Begin Operation Cleansweep"
With those three words, every fighter and bomber broke off thier mission, and made a direct run for the city. Milmefia was now a war-zone. Far to the west, the Sith Alchemist himself also took action, setting all artillery towards Milmefia. High above the city, near Derev's position, Lucius also steadied his position, now directing artillery to key locations.
The final battle had begun.
Shinichi Endymiron K
The sounds of artillery thundered throughout the city as people ran, panicking for the shelters. They had grown lax living on the Grand Master's throne world. The citizens of Milmefia thought themselves immune to the horrors of war as they thrived under the protection of the Grand Master. Their delusions had been shattered as their city crumbled all around them.
Debris lay all along the streets and avenues as Ashia Kagan and Shin'ichi Keibatsu made their way to the LCA. Using the cover of night and the confusion of the diversionary artillery barrage they slipped in and out of alleys and side streets, ducking, running and sometimes crawling to avoid detection. Up ahead lay what used to be the main gate for the Large Communications Array. Shin'ichi sniffed the air. Macron had said the chemical agents he had spread would have dissipated by now. That sick bastard either lied or didn't bother to check the weather reports. he thought to himself as he signaled for Ashia to put on her rebreather mask. He hated things covering his face. This would make the task all the more complicated.
Slipping through the debris the two rounded the corner of a guardhouse and dropped to the ground immediately as a masked and armored Obelisk Trooper turned around to face in their direction. Hidden behind a pile of concrete Shin'ichi swore under his mask then keyed the comm.
"You think he's dumb enough to fall for a bait and trap?" he asked the knight by his side.
Ashia smiled and suddenly jumped up and took off in the direction they had come from. The trooper never knew what hit him as he lept over the debris field and the amethyst saber cleft him in twain. Not even a yelp escaped the covered mouth of the Taldryan Dark Jedi as his body fell in two distinct and very separate places.
The Archpriest spoke into his comm again. "I thought we would be a little more subtle than that."
Ashia looked at him with something akin to amusement. "It worked didn't it?" Shin'ichi did not deign to answer, instead signaling for them to proceed to the main control building.
Three more times they were forced to deviate from their mission to deal with problematic guards, or enemy Dark Jedi. During one such episode Shin'ichi could no longer restrain himself and took the time to strangle the life from a guard using his durasteel garrote wire. Ashia looked on, a mix of horror and fascination upon her face.
The artillery barrage was distant and quiet now. There were no sounds of boots crunching on gravel, or debris. The only noise came from the masks of the two Sadow Krath as they came within ten yards of the main building.
Smoke peered from the buildings as the bombing runs and the fireworks display the Black Guard created left the city in a bit of a smolder, devastating the enemy's supplies and artillery. Imperial and Revenant were sweeping back through, laying the city to waste. Shikyo smiled and turned back around, laying his carpet down and obliterating turrets and SAMs alike.
An explosion echoed in the background, causing Shikyo to turn his head instinctively. It seemed like the Guards were making their presence well known. A massive explosion could be heard from deep within the cockpit, leaving a smirk on the Warrior's face. It seemed like the first communications tower was down.
As he turned his head back towards the front, dots closed in to the form of fighters. He didn't recognize them as Naga Sadow and took notice of the Taldryan symbol on their wings. Rurouni brought his mic to his lips, double checking his comm-channel. Revenant and Imperial were still on the channel. Good.
"Falcon Leader, Blue Leader. We got incoming bogies from behind us. Watch your tails and take them out. Imperial, Revenant. Sweep through and reduce their numbers. I'll continue the bombing raid. Clear as many as ya can then fall back for rearming and refueling."
"Roger, Dark Leader."
Sapphire and Falcons rushed through the formattions. It seemed like there weren't many to fight against. Either they were in space or they were already destroyed. Either way is fine for me, thought Shikyo.
Watching the Commanders demolish everything in their paths, the Keibatsu turned back and prepared to bomb the city to the ground once more.
Shin'ichi peered around the corner making sure the chemical agents Macron had laid down had done thier job. Silence was returned to the Krath Archpriest as he moved forward, slipping quietly through the shadows and making his way to the main control box for the LCA. Ashia moved right behind him, keeping watch as he proceeded to tap into the buffer.
A twig snapped, bringing them both to full alert. A lone figure moved through the darkness some 100 meters away. Stillness. Neither of them breathed hoping they wouldn't be spotted. The figure started to move off in the opposite direction before turning at the last minute and looking their direction.
'Great' Shin's voice floated through Ashia's mind with an exasperated sound.
'Don't move a muscle' Was all she said as she walked towards the man, removing her mask and hanging it from her belt quickly.
'Don't!...' He started to argue but realized that the wind had picked up a bit and had probably blown the remaining vestiges of poison from the air. He sighed quietly as he remember that it was Ashia and once her mind was made up there was no changing it.
The Krath Witch sauntered towards the young Guard, a sly smile playing upon her ruby lips as she got closer.
"Miss? What are you doing here?" He looked around her for a moment but she leaned in, forcing his attention back to her.
"I got lost. All these explosions, I got scared trying to find a safe place to hide and some how ended up here." Her azure eyes fluttered for a moment as they grapped his, holding him captive. She wove a bit of Force through her words, making her sound vulnerable as she took his arm and leaned closer, moving him away from the Large Communications Array and Shin'ichi. His eyes lit for a moment as her cleavage brushed his arm; a broad smile exploding on his lips as he willingly walked with her.
She led him to a corner of the yard were some crates had been stacked. Smiling up at him, she caressed his cheek with her finger tips as leaned in, brushing her lips across his briefly. His smile faded almost instantly as he collapsed in her arms. She moved his inanimate body behind the crates, then ran back to where Shin'ichi stood, plastered to the shadows.
"What the frell was that?" The Archpriest looked about momentarily to make sure there were no others.
"Poisonous lipstick. Macron made it for me. Kills them instantly; no noise." An evil grin crossed her visage as the Keibatsu blinked in stunned silence for a moment as she quickly wipped the remaining residue from her lips.
"And Muz is ok with you using this?" He asked quizically.
"Yeah, as long as I don't use it on him." She chuckled softly as Shin'ichi went back to hacking into the communications buffer.
The Aedile of Ludo Kressh stood in the command centre sipping a cup of coffee. The fighting had been quick and violent. As the Talydran troops had struggled to contain the fires, Colonel Terel's troops had hit them, swarming over their lines as the assault ships dropped more men into the compound. The three Sith had broken out of the command centre and joined Xayun causeing mayhem right in the middle of the enemy forces.
Faced with this and the superior numbers of Ludo Kressh forces bearing down on them, fully half of the defending battalian had surrended there and then, an indicator of the decreasing morale and the general confusion that seemed to be infiltrating the Talydran ranks. They were now sat in lines in a warehouse guarded by Kressh troops while the Aedile decided what to do with them.
The harder task had begun now. Engineers were rushing to restore power with the backup generators they had landed following the end of the fighting, to prepare the maintainance and refueling bays the Rolemasters returning air forces would soon need following the first round of strikes.
Only he and Xayun remained now of the four Sith. Following Sapphire Squadron taking to the air, flight leaders Sin and Acara had taken to their ships to join the bombardment. The Aediles Black Guard was outside helping supervise the resoration.
Lieutenant Colonel Wes Terel entered the room and saluted. "Sir, I am pleased to report full power has been restored to the base and the ground crews are prepared to receive the TIEs when they arrive."
"Good," Malisane said in satisfaction, "that is impressive work you and your staff are to be congratulated."
"Thank you Aedile."
"Contact the Rolemaster and inform him our preparations are complete."
Colonel Terel saluted and left.
One of the staff at the terminals turned to him. "Aedile we have the Pro Consul on the communicator for you."
Malisane nodded. "I'll take it in the ante room." He walked into the attached smaller room. "Ok"
Kat Pridemores' face appeared on the screen. "What's your report Malisane?"
"We now have control of this base and have restored it to working efficiency in preparation for the return of the first air crews. We have over two hundred prisoners locked in the warehouse. Our losses were minimal. The 1st Aeotheran is now camped around the base awaiting orders."
She nodded, "Good. Korras has moved the 2nd Tarthos regiment and the 1st Orion Legion to occupy a disused installation fourty miles to the southeast of the city. I'm keeping the 2nd Sepros in reserve to the south."
Malisane nodded. "What are our orders?"
"For the moment, nothing We're keeping our forces concealed as best we can while we give Derev, Macron and Shin'Ichi time to de-stabilise their forces in the city. The last thing we want is to alarm them enough to send a large force out to meet us, if they attack our regiments seperately they could wipe out half our army before we could reinforce them."
"Very well," the Aedile replied, "we will await your orders."
"Good," Kat replied, "so far the reports from Macron and Derev are extremily positive. When the time comes we can roll over that city like an anthill."
Malisane smiled. "Excellant."
“We’re in. Like the lipstick you did for Ashia. More later,” came Shin’Ichi’s voice over the com in the platform.
Macron nodded and continued to study the battlemap. That area of the city was not on his list of priorities now. The combined shelling and terrorist activities had that place shut down, for the most part. It would soon be blown straight to embracing arms of the many Hells if Shin'Ichi and Ashia did their jobs. And that was a likely conclusion.
“…Falcon Leader, Blue Leader. We got incoming bogies from behind us…” came Skikyo’s voice next faintly.
What was troubling was the continued role the airbases in the city were playing. Lucius and Shikyo reported that a few were still operational and sending coveys of craft into atmospheric combat. Recon reports from the Black Guard infiltrators verified that.
It was time to shut them down. However, they would be needed later to land more CNS craft, so outright obliteration was out of the question.
“Seargeant Sarthim, prepare the reserve shells,” said Macron as he poked his fingers through the holomap. “Deliver them there.”
“But that is the face-melting gas, Sir?” queried the concerned Seprosian. The infamous visage-removing gas that Macron had wrought was the stuff of nasty legends.
“Indeed it is. It disperses and works on them quickly, and will leave the facilities intact for our use. Besides, most of CNS is inoculated anyhow,” replied the alchemist in an annoyed tone as he turned his yellow eyes to face the serviceman. “Don’t question me again. You've done well so far, Seargeant. You may be up for a promotion, that is unless you become my next experiment by not following orders.”
“Yes, it will be done as you say, Tribune. I shall inform our forces to avoid that area for now. Shall we continue the regular shelling?” asked the sallow faced man with a gulp as he punched in the coordinates quickly.
“Of course. Try to de-stabilize their police and medical facilities. Target them with regular high explosive shells. That should put the fear in the populace,” spat the madman as he rubbed his hands together in glee. Things were about to get interesting.
Shinichi Endymiron K
His fingers worked fast over the control console. The data streams began to download onto the holodisc he inserted into the main drive. Ashia kept watch on the entrance, ensuring they would not be foiled at the last minute. As the data continued to be downloaded Shin'ichi inserted a second disc into another drive. I hope this works as we were told it would. he said wordlessly in Ashia's mind. She turned and nodded. If it doesn't we're humped. she responded in kind.
With a keystroke he released the virus into the communications control terminal. A moment later the datastream was complete. Shin'ichi removed the disc and slipped it into a pouch on his tactical vest. As he turned and motioned for Ashia to begin placing charges the sounds of tromping boots on the metal floor echoed back to them via the long hallway.
Both Dark Jedi cursed silently to themselves. "They just won't stop trying to secure this place will they?" Ashia spoke in exasperation as the duo unclipped their lightsabers. The Archpriest smiled slightly. "If they did we wouldn't have so much fun Ash." he said as the first soldier came through the door and was decapitated by his violet blade. Ashia ignited her own and brought it down on the nest man through the door.
The rest of the soldiers, recognizing what they were facing, set up a firing line in the hallway and awaited the Dark Jedi. They didn't realize that these were practical Jedi, Jedi with guns...and explosives. Both Krath removed a single grenade from their vests and activated them, sending them rolling down the hall towards the soldiers.
Kyran Vance peered over the open sights of his blaster rifle. He was determined to kill a Jedi and earn himself some glory. When the small silver sphere rolled up to his foot he looked down for a moment. What the.... was all he had time to get out before the explosion immolated him and his entire squad.
The Krath replaced their sabers and began to set the charges that would send the building crashing down on itself. Hopefully the virus would spread to the smaller relay stations rendering even the simplest communications inoperable. The two placed their last charge several moments later and exited out the front.
The explosion could be seen for miles. The communications center, the satellite arrays, everything was now a burning pile of rubble, and a virus was racing to every smaller relay station in the city. The Dark Jedi slid into the darkness of the aftermath. Other targets awaited them.
The virtual horizon expanded with a shudder in front of the Blind Dragon's inner sight. The glowing nodes that carried vital informations pulsated beneath her, glowing lines that simulated the streets during the midnight aspect of a city. The silent Quaestor's avatar flickered within this virtual surrounded as it descended towards the surface. Cleary she saw the effects of the virus that raced through the relays and nodes, having been released by Shin'ichi and Ashia Kagan. The Blind Dragon saw the nodes collapsing one after the other. The piercing blue eyes of her avatar stared down at the chaos, emotionless. Finally she reached a wall, a polished surface of the main defence system of the base. The black surface flickered and sparkled as she slowly reached out at it.
The Quaestor's body was sitting in front of the computer panel, a hand gently resting on the input field. Her white eyes stared blankly at the screen in front of her, not taking notice of anything going around her in the physical world. More and more she had found it easier to shrug off the physical world around her and diving into the artificial architectured worlds of the networks. Several people rushed through the small commando center, at times throwing a worried glance at the motionless body of the Quaestor, but soon to fully concentrate onto their own bussiness in this war. Only one person stood next to her, guarding her. He watched how ocasionally her fingers danced across the input field, entering commands.
.... now lets see what this data I was sent by Ashia and Shin'ichi is about...
Parts of the data showed a way to defragment the defences of the Taldryan network, and she was going to slice into it. Patiently she waited in front of the black wall with the palm of her hand touching it. Only a few moments later - which could be also minutes in the real world outside - parts of the wall began to disolve. .... it begins ....
Nervously she scanned for further defences, but there were no signs. When the opening was big enough she slipped inside. The glowing pyramid that represented the data pool of Taldryan's network system hovered in front of her. A smile appeared on her avatar's face as she slipped into it. With a frown she suddenly picked up a flow of informations. .. a trap... they are trying to kill us with an ambush.... Quickly she sent the informations to her Aedile and the Black Guards to take care of it. Then her main work began - she started to easily tug apart the glowing nodes that established the defence systems of the bases.
Trevarus Irad Caerick patiently waited a few miles away from the heavily defended Taldryan's base. Finally a small bleep of his datapad woke him from his torpor. The small holographic of Xia Long appeared: "Brother Dragon... the defences of the basis are down. Now it is your turn to unleash the wrath of Sadow upon them." His lips curled into a cold smile as he rose to his feet and started to walk towards the basis. Step by step he approached it, passing the wreckage of the buildings that had been destroyed by the Naga Sadow forces. An unnatural wind picked up the long black coat of the Son of Sadow, tugging hard on it and parts of the debris was swept across the ground around him. Spiders and buglike creatures and all kind of small animals began to flee in panic from the figure that was Trevarus as if they knew instinctively the source of this upcoming storm.
Dark tentacles of the force began to waft around the graceful figure as the two sabers were translocated into his hands and ignited with a snapping hiss into a dark ultraviolet fire. The cold eyes began to sparkle blue.
A small insane cackle slipped the Quaestor's lips as she felt the rising wrath of her Brother Dragon. For a brief moment her eyes flickered, containing the same blue sparkles as her brother. The essence named Sildrin Sadow flinched within her, feeling the dragon moving inside of herself, more and more waking to its full power. She felt its testing of the bars that still held it back within her - a seed planted by the Long that had taken her as his apprentice.
Shinichi Endymiron K
"oh frack" The Archpriest said as he received the Emergency Action Message on his Comm pad. Ashia looked at him with a worried expression. "What is it? She asked softly." The Keibatsu looked at her and shook his head, then in an instant grabbed his vest and saber and took off yelling; "Come on, I'll explain along the way."
As the two ran through the debris strewn streets Ashia caught up to him and running along side prodded for an answer to her question. Shin'ichi looked at her briefly before speaking. "They're going to blow up the city." The pair kept running and Ashia merely shrugged saying "So?" The trod on in silence for a moment before Shin'ichi continued. "They're going to use a nuke."
Shin'ichi kept jogging as he slipped on his tactical vest. Ashia suddenly stopped as if taking stock of the situation before shaking her head and chasing after him. "The other BG have been notified, we're to meet at the meat packing plant in sector seven-zulu to coordinate. We have to disable that nuke before ground troops enter the city."
The two accelerated their pace with the aid of the Force.
With the battle for air superiority continuing, Derev slipped out of the battle, his ship 10 minutes into its emergency fuel reserve. Taldryan was smart, he'd give them that.
For the past 45 minutes, pilots continued to fly up above the battle area, trying to find thier artillery spotter. Lucius had hidden well enough, but Derev, unable to use his cloaking device anymore, was another story. Now, his fighter was falling apart, a round of direct hits from a Taldryan fighter.
Darkness enveloped Milmefia, as the Star of Antei continued it's slow drift away.
"Derev to Malisane, I need emergency visual indicators, I don't know if I'm gonna make it back" Derev yelled into his comm.
Malisane perked up at his desk, hearing the panic in the Rollmasters voice "Uhh, right away Derev, we'll get you in, calm down".
Malisane ran out of the command post and shouted orders to nearby soldiers.
"Hows that Derev?" Malisane called back into the comm
Derev looked due west, and sure enough, there were two long green strips of light, calling him home from his mission.
"Aye, I see it, lets see if I can land this tub of lard" Derev smirked
Fighting his stick, Derev thanked Naga Sadow and even Yoda there was no cross wind. He cut back his power, and slowly glided in.
"Rollmaster! You're not coming in straig..." an airfield attendant shouted into his comm, but it was too late. Derev had no stablization, and try as he might, a T/A wasen't graceful. Sparks flew as his fighter slid to a landing, not at all landing the way it should. As the modified T/A skid down the runway, a figure popped out of the top of the fighter, and floated to the ground gracefully.
"In the name of.." a naval captain yelled as Derev walked past him.
"Shut up, and fix it" Derev yelled to the captain
"Sir, theres no way-" the captain responded
"I assure you, there is, and you will" the Warrior responded, gripping his lightsabre tightly.
"Yy..Yes Sir" the captain responded, immediately ordering his ground crews to find a miracle.
"What the hell happened Derev?" Malisane asked as Derev walked into the command center
"Friggen Taldryan pricks" Derev muttered as he sat down at a secure comm panel
Derev issued orders for his forces to begin staggered refueling and rest operations
"The forces are mostly done" Derev finally said "They've gotta few squadrons of force users, but for they'll be done with soon" he added
Derev threw himself down on the floor, and fell into a peaceful slumber, awaiting word his fighter was repaired.
"Derev...Derev wake up..you're snoring" Malisane laughed as Derev cocked his right eye open and looked around, and closed his eyes again. "Your fighter is ready?" Malisane teased him, and suddenly Derev jumped up.
"What when ?" he asked
"Just now, a very uneasy captain informed me your fighter was repaired, but, its not at 100%"? Malisane said
"Fine, it dosen't have to be" Derev said, typing in commands into his comm panel. After getting several responses, he suddenly smiled "Signal the commanders, they can start thier invasion. Lucius says they're down to two squadrons, I'll go deal with them myself" Derev snickered. "Is my package here?"
"Of course, it arrived a few hours ago." Malisane said, curious as to its contents, as he handed it to him. Derev walked into the ante room, and quickly emerged, no longer wearing his flightsuit, but his favorite black robes.
"Robes..for flying?" Malisane asked ? "Todays a big day" Derev replied, as he grinned and walked out of the command center to his quite sad looking fighter. As he completed his pre-flight checklist, he smiled appreciatively at the efforts that were taken to capture this base, and ensure his fighters could stay up constantly with a proper rotation.
Kat Pridemore paced back and forth, eager for news of the battle. Finally, her wait was ended. Malisane quickly briefed her on the events in the city, and gave her Derev's reccomendation to begin the ground assault. Kat quickly consulted her commanders, and the orders were given.
As Derev was closing back in on the city, the order came across his TacNav screen. He smiled as he locked onto a Taldryan fighter with his newly re-supplied missiles.
"All Ground Forces, Advance to 5km" was the order, moving all of Naga Sadow's ground forces to within eyesight of the city.
“Where is the Tribune?” demanded Sarthim of a nearby junior grade officer.
“Sir, he went outside,” The human said as he looked on with uneasiness.
“Well, then find him. We have been ordered to advance,” replied the Seprosian as the human stepped out.
“No need,” announced Macron as he stepped back into the mobile platform command center. He was replacing his lightsaber on his belt and chuckling to himself. He flicked a bit of gore from the knuckles of his gauntlet.
“Sir, what happened?” asked the sergeant with concern.
“Taldryan infiltrators. I picked up on them with telepathy. Pathetic weaklings, they are not at all like our own Black Guard,” replied the alchemist with a sneer.
“I see. Do we need the military police to take them in?” asked the Seprosian officer.
“Only if they can fit them in numerous small trash bags,” giggled Macron insanely. “We might need a clean up crew though. In any case, are we ready to move?”
“Yes, we are. Orders from the Proconsul advise us to advance within 5 klicks.”
“Excellent. Was the gas attack successful at nullifying those airbases?” queried the Sith.
“I believe so, Mononoke. You can see from this droid and aerial recon the results for your own satisfaction,” he replied with a grimace. "I sent the information to Quaestor Xia as you ordered."
The scene was awful. Bodies lay strewn about in various states of deliquescence, their faces having slid from their sanguine bleeding skulls to pool on the ground. Fingers and limbs were twisted into clutching poses of agony. Nothing moved, and the carrion-eaters were even avoiding the area. The air bases in question were completely abandoned.
“Well done, Sergeant. Switch to normal ordnance, as we are now getting close to our own forces,” said Macron as he smiled at the fine job his gas had performed. “Make ready, and then we move out as ordered.”
"I... we must go alone..."
Vibrations echoed in thick leather boots, resounded through heavy heels in each measured stride. He heard the crunch of gravel through their ears, and the final gasping breathes of the desperately dying, or the newly dead. Melody became the rapture of small-arms fire in the distance, a smell of smoke and charred flesh. Each molecule that passed their lips became a discordant wine. Chaos such as only the most practiced of vinters might capture in every sweet bouquet.
He had waited very patiently for confirmation, for the final word of his suspicions. This was a presence they had not felt for some time. So long ago that it might have been another lifetime.
The very storms followed in his wake as he walked among the dying. His clansmen had wrought great misery upon the guilty and innocent alike. A city that would never survive this conflict unfolded between his perceptions. Each sensations of nerve guided his path.
Desperate men met his steps with a hail of laser fire. As do the gaping yawns of the Maw, his lightsabers screamed to answer. Violet-black beams tore through bright air with unnatural swiftness; a retort against lesser intellects. His posture was somehow evil, a corruption of a noble art. Two blades swept through the defensive postures of the ancient Soresu Masters, but seemed somehow tainted. as thought the bearer thought them somehow meaningless.
An instant before the shimmering violet-blackness touched their mortal flesh, every soldier was left feeling cold, staring into the face of insanity, into evil itself.
Yet Trevarus was perfectly calm.
The Master Sadow was a shark in deep waters: unmmatched, graceful, blood-wrathed deadly.
Under the surface, a Dragon screamed to life. Shan Long leapt, their fury driving spikes into charred concrete, into blistering chemical air. Their talons tore through living and dying flesh, sundering a battalion of proud warriors, armor and arms shredding as linens in a hurricane. Maniac fangs tore into a throat, drinking deep of crimson life until blood stained shone wetly on black robes.
They followed an impression, a hunch; insight gleaned from the Sight of his Sister Dragon. An aura of eldritch wile and battle-hardened foresight surrounded this ruin of a city. Trevarus Sadow followed the tangled lines of his own perception to its very center, a spider climbing down its silken web.
He stood in a shattered threshold surrounded by countless bodies. His prey stood at the fore of a large battalion of weary and anxious troops. With gestures and words, they scurried forth in futile effort. This day would see his death.
Master Sadow touched the living Darkness, probing across the battered courtyard, filling the minds of every breathing soul with dread, nervous apprehension. Through them, he spoke.
"Greetings Elder Taldrya" Trevarus said, in the cacophony voice of every soldier, now bearing arms on their Commander. If Kir Katarn was surprised, he regained his composure faster than Trevarus could detect.
"I thought you might come, Trev" He said, speaking to his soldiers, looking for his face in the crowd. "Let them go. We'll settle this in the old ways."
"As you wish." Trevarus replied. He closed his mind, and the assembled dropped their arms in a clatter of metal and stone, fleeing the storm as might dogs or rodents. Katarn's hand released the clasp on his heavy cloak, showing sapphire robes that covered highly advanced field armor.
Trevarus stepped out of the shadows, removing his own cloak. It disappeared in a moment, replaced with a lightsaber in each hand, appearing in a thunderclap of displaced air. The sound carried across ruined buildings, disguising the sound of his boots crunching over stone, glass, and bone.
Several clicks away, Manji straightened up and breathed out heavily. For the past couple of hours, he and a force of troopers had been battling through the Taldryan forces alongside, or just behind, Master Shan Long. As the Master cut a bloody swathe of destruction through the battlefield, the Epis and his comrades had moved along at a slower pace, eliminating those enemies who somehow managed to evade the blazing twin lightsabres of the Dragon.
However, recently Trevarus had moved too far ahead for them to catch up. Shaking his head, Manji decided to leave Master Caerick to his own devices- the Son of Sadow was too hardy to be brought down by anyone other than the Grand Master himself. Turning his attention back to the Taldryan forces around him, the Epis s[Expletive Deleted]ed wickedly as his sabre turned it's fury on one hapless trooper. The silver blade slashed into his chest viciously, carving out a huge chunk of flesh that steamed violently.
As the corpse dropped to the sodden ground, Manji heard a shout, rising above the furor of battle. Turning, the Epis locked eyes with a Taldryan Equite, his sapphire sabre raising to point towards the Keibatsu in a gesture of challenge.
However, Manji did not bother with such formalities. Crouching slightly, the Epis charged forwards, his sabre whirling round his body as he leapt into the air and dived down upon the Taldryanite. Sparks flew, sabres clashing violently together before rebounding then colliding again. The two fighters struggled for position as around them, the tapestry of battle continued to unravel- troopers firing into each other's flesh, other Dark Jedi hacking each other to pieces.
Then the Epis surged forwards forcefully, one boot coming up to smash into his opponent's colon. An agonised groan was the response- before the sabre came back and severed his foe's head. Catching the dismembered skull by the hair, Manji grinned wildly.
"Excellent. That's another one for the kill tally."
Raising his sabre into the air, a blazing beacon of silver amongst the darkness and bloodshed, the One-Eyed Dragon let out a roar and surged into the surrounding mob, finding solitude amongst the carnage.
With Naga Sadow's ground forces slowly making the march to the city, shuttles began collecting the field commanders and leaders. Intelligence indicated no enemy forces more then 5 klicks from the city, and the summit desperately needed a face to face meeting.
In the rear, most of the commanders and summit had arrived, in fact, they were only waiting now on Manesh's shuttle.
"What the hell?" Malisane asked openly "They don't put 15,000 troops in the city, and then plan to nuke it! If thats the case, lets retreat to 75 klicks, and get some good meat out, sounds perfect for a barbeque"
Kat and Derev laughed at the Aedile's comment
"You know, he is right" Sildrin added "Somethings up here"
"I sure as hell haven't seen 15,000 troops, and I've been all over that city" Derev remarked "tho Shin'ichi is reporting quite a bit of enemy movement"
"Could it be a ploy?" J'Rai asked
Before anyone could answer, Manesh's shuttle began it's approach, and the summit rose in respect as it landed. Manesh quickly exited his craft, a few new slashes in his robes
"Where are we?" Manesh asked
"Debating logic" Derev quipped
"Something just dosen't add up" Malisane began "You don't staff a city with 15,000 soldiers and force weilders, and then plant a nuke to blow it all up. There's either no nuke, or theres no bloody 15,000 soldiers in there waiting for us"
"Several sensor scans have confirmed our counts" Kat rebuted
"I don't care, scans can be tricked. I've been over that city for 6 hours now, and I've seen but a handful of troops. It's a ploy, its got to be. I bet you all told theres 200 people in that city, they'll fake a defense, and blow us all to Sepros when we go in" Derev argued
"He must be right" Malisane added "We've given in thought, and seriously, theres no logic.
"So do we go on that assumption?" Manesh asked
"It's our best course..we let the Black Guard neutralize that bomb, and then we flood it with everything. If we're right, we'll have the city in an hour..if we're wrong, its no worse then what we were up against at first." Malisane responded
"And of course, if they fail, thats what the Black Guard is for, and we won't have to take the city anymore" Derev grinned
"Very well gentleman. Derev, get back in the air. Finish thier fighters off. and when Shin'ichi gives you the signal, we'll sweep the city."
Derev nodded, and walked towards the exit.
"Oh Derev, one moment" Manesh added, walking to catch up with him "If we're successful, remember you're other mission" Manesh added in a whisper. Derev nodded, and walked out the door, glad to see his fighter had recieved further work, and was now refueled and re-armed.
As Derev took into the air, he saw the shuttles dispersing, taking the summit and commanders back to thier troops.
Inside the Fearless, Raven dove headlong into the battle, Blasting through the screen of enemy fighters at the execution of operation "Cleansweep". Fire enveloped the gunboat as sixty missles, each the size of man, cleared the launch pylons, along with streaks of blue-white proton torpedoes, laserfire and two blasts from the gravitic cannons on the ships bow, each the rough equivilant in firepower as a heavy turbolaser. Raven jerked the stick up, pulling off while the salvo streaked towards the surface, allowing the ship to recharge the weapons systems.
Around him, TIE fighters swarmed, and Raven noticed a large chunk of his shields gone.
"Little bastards are going to pay for that." Raven grumbled, picking the first of many Taldryan lives he planned to take.
Over and over again he blew apart unwary Taldryan pilots, most pre-occuspied with other dogfights. Behind him, the thrum of the Fearless' rear firing laser was heard as it obliterated one over several pursuers, only to have three more take it's place.
"Morons are catching on!" Raven exclaimed as the vicious TIE's beat at his shields, crushing them is second under their combined firepower. Raven's cold heart beat faster, and he cut the engines, engaging auxiliary maneuvering thrusters, and spinning around to face the fighters, and unleashed another salvo of gravatic bursts and laser fire into them.
Aboard one small ship were Acolyte Dark Crow and Protector Ruluk Okoth talking, with Guardian Corin Falgron driving the ship. The ship was just going to arrive Antei grounds.
“So what happened after you defeated those men on Karufr?” Asked Crow after some talk Ruluk had done. “You don’t want to know,” Ruluk replied.
“No, really, tell me,” Crow insisted. “Ok, ok. Look, this is dissapointing. After that rough battle with Taldryan forces on Karufr Sildrin called Ashia by the commlink, telling her that Ylith had returned, with many injuries, and that we had to return to Sepros and go now to Antei.”
“Oh, I wanted an interesting ending.” Said Crow. After that small comment from Crow, Corin said, “Ok, we arrived to Antei, we arranged to meet Xayun. We just have to search for him.”
Then the three men went out of the small ship and put their feet on the soil of Antei. They left the ship and began looking for Xayun. They met some of the soldiers of Naga Sadow, which told them where to go to possibly find the Dark Jedi they were looking for. Corin was leading the group by the way. After some walk on the terrain of Antei, they found more soldiers, telling them where to go next.
“Looks like Xayun is far away!” Exclaimed Crow, showing really tired and with a good need of a rest. Crow sat on the floor while Corin and Ruluk decided what to do. after all, they all were tired. They just decided to rest some time on the trees they were at, hoping Milmefia and Xayun were right ahead and not far, far away.
you need to wake up to survive!
The clan needs you!
Yes...now lets go
Draken woke up and felt a large amount of pressure onto his chest. he found himself on the bottom of a stockpile of
body's, probably nated as dead and left to be forgotten in time. The huge amounts of pain that flowed troughout his
body told him he was not far of. Using what he could of the Force, he meditated and healed his broken body the best he
could. The Valheru tried to body the bodies up but had no luck, he astimated that it was piled up to be 20 men high in
total. Draken breathed deep as air was little and the smell of the dead almost to much to bear.
Outside of the pile Korras was standing closeby, detecting no sign of life trough the thick layer of bodies and decay.
"Pile the bodies and burn them, save the bodies that are genuinely good for Tarentum and their Necromancy." Korras
said and he narrowed his eyes before walking towards the Base of Operations CNS had pulled up near the lines of defence.
Draken pushed again, his arms straining under the pressure he was in. He couldnt even remember how he got where he
was now. Probably a small walker or an elite team that knocked him down. He gasped for air and started digging trough
bodies and bodyparts missing their owner. As he managed to reach his back, he fellt onto his back to feel that his
Valheru sword was still strapped onto his back. The blue flames granting him a thin layer of light trough the darkness
The Valheru pushed on, to find smoke coming his way. cutting off his air as the flames sucked the air away to fuel itself.
Draken narrowed his eyes as the thick black smoke covered him, air was taken and sight as well. The Valheru startted
to push himself harder to the outer layer, and while he did he suddenly found a lightsaber. It was not his but if it worked
he wouldnt care less. Draken ignited the cyan blue blade with a his and startted cutting his way trough the bodies.
"Sir?" a soldier said as he ran to Korras. The commander turned around and watched as the face of the soldier read horror.
"What is wrong Soldier, you look like you have seen a ghost." Korras said and the Soldier quickly saluted in a form of
coutesy. "Sir...there is something moving within the pile of bodies. I dont know what to do."
"Those are reflexes made by the dead soldier...you should know this." Korras said mocking but the Soldier shook his
head. "The hiss of a lightsaber was to be heard Commander."
Korras narrowed his eyes and followed the soldier back to the pile. When the Commander reacher it, the his and the
sounds of a lightsaber cutting trough flesh was to be heard. Suddenly a lightsaber cut trough the flaming layer of bodies
and someone jumped out , landing a few steps before Korras with a trail of blood spraying and fire trailing behind him.
Draken rose, blood running all over his body, his own body mangled. his mechanical arm destroyed beyond repair, his
side split open and his leg badly injured. It did not take long for the Valheru to collapse again, kneeling in some sort,
trying to regain his strengths.
"Sir...I crashed and attended to the attack on ground...I was attacked by an AT ST and was blown away, falling unconscious
and left for dead. I woke up just now." Draken said, still gasping for air.
Korras nodded and motioned for a few men to take Draken to the Medic station at the base. Though Korras said little, he
was glad to see his clan member to be alive, but was wondering how many casualties this war was going to have.
Draken closed his eyes, hoping he had not failed his clan. he was missing in action for quite some time, people will
probably think he had died.
Malisane sat in the mobile command centre of the 1st Aeotheran Regiment studying the map of the city on the display. Colonel Teral sat next to him. "We need to make a breach in the south wall," Malisane mused, "the gates reinforced but we there's a weak spot here caused by Macron's bombardment. A few corrosive shells should have us through."
Terel nodded. "Indeed, our skirmishers should be able to force a way through and secure this clear area here while we bring the rest of the regiment through." he said pointing to the map.
Malisane nodded. "Sounds sensible. The 2nd Tarthos is going to come in on the west side. We can move forward knocking out resistance and join up with them."
"Yes Aedile," Terel agreed.
Malisane stood up and rushed outside quickly as the sounds of laser fire rochked the building. "What's going on?" he shouted.
Ahead a squadron of Talydran fighters were raking the ground as the Ludo Kressh troops fired back from weapons platforms.
"I thought we had air superiority! They shouldn't be anywhere near here!" Terel shouted back as he joined him. He glanced over to where Xayun was directing the defensive fire.
Malisane watched as the two lead fighters soared towards him, reaching out with his mind. They weren't force users, just normal Talydran pilots. He smiled evily, the two TIEs were flying in close formation, combining their fire as they targeted the defences. The Sith Equite calmly stretched out his hand, concentrating on the left hand fighter with the force, feeling the metalic hull then made a casual flicking motion with his wrist.
The explosion as the two TIE fighters smashed together was deafening, and the burning wrecked remains hit the ground with a further explosion. He smiled in satisfaction as a cheer broke up around him from the Kressh troopers and he concentrated on another of the attacking craft, sending it spinning off into another of it's fellow ships, sending them to a firey death on the ground. Xayun followed his example accounting for two more and with half their squadron destroyed the remaining fighters broke off the attack, climbing upwards as the weapons platforms raked the air surrounding them. The Aeotheran troops cheered as the few remaining fighters fled and Malisane smiled. "I've waited a long time to try that," he said triumphantly.
Xayun grinned. "Satisfying wasn't it?" he agreed.
Two TIE fighters smashed together overhead and away a bit, and sailed down in flames to smack the ground. “I sure hope those were Taldryan’s,” wondered Macron as he watched with the electro-binoculars.
The comlink buzz brought Macron out of his reverie. “Macron, this is Malisane,” came the crackling voice. “Come in, Macron.”
“Yes, Aedile De Ath. How may I serve you today?” asked the alchemist as he chuckled evilly while fiddling with the com controls. “I am at your command.”
“There is a weak spot in the defenses at this point,” Malisane replied as the holomap opened up and zoomed in on the south city wall. “We need you to open it the rest of the way with corrosive shells.”
“It will be done as you say,” said Macron as he shut the screen down with a bow.
He turned to Sgt. Sarthim. “Make your target these vectors in the south wall. Use type seven corrosive weapons, and follow with a salvo of bunker-busters. Hell, put in one or two anti-personnel shells right after in case they come up and try to stabilize the breach before our troops get there to secure it properly. That should open the wall nicely,” Mononoke said with a smile. “Then begin shelling the nearby emergency services targets. That ought to distract them a bit while our ground forces make their move.”
“Yes Sir,” replied the Seprosian as he punched in the data. “As you wish, Sir.”
Shinichi Endymiron K
The place stank of rancid meat. Piles of it lay everywhere. The streets outside had started to smell the same way. Decaying bodies smelled an awful lot like bad bantha. All in all conditions could have been worse. Shin'ichi watched from a platform near the high ceiling. Ashia situated herself on the crane a little lower. The rest of the Black Guard started coming in moments after they had arrived. The two dropped silently to the ground and stood to face their comrades.
The Guard Captain Godo was the first to break the silence. "What's going on Shin? Why are we gathered in one place when we should be out there causing all kinds of havoc?" He asked a little annoyed at being summoned. Ashia was about to speak but the Keibatsu cut her off.
"There's a nuke under the city...a big one."
The Guardsmen stood in stunned silence. Someone spoke up. "But the army is only five kilometers out of the city limits, in the outer suburbs." Shin'ichi turned to the guard. His gaze cold and hard. "I know." The Archpriest took out a datapad and sent the pertinent data to the pads of the other guardsmen. "We don't have much time. The army is on the move, if they halt their advance they'll lose momentum. We need to take out that nuke and we need to do it now."
The rest of the Black Guard nodded in agreement. "Now here is what I propose..."
- One hour Later -
Conditions were now worse as Shin'ichi found himself beneath the streets in the city's sewer system. He had to make his way to the main waste water treatment plant and then from there to the abandoned underground tram center. Why the city officials decided to build the waste water plant atop of the old hub was beyond him. The Keibatsu would have preferred to just go to the old site and climb down, but no, now he had to trek through miles of waste filled, vermin infested tunnel to get to where he needed to go. He knew if he made it out alive he'd be scrubbing the smell off of himself for weeks. He hoped the rest of the team was faring better than he was at this particular moment. He stretched out his senses for any sign of guards or other Dark Jedi, but failed to notice the device attached to the sewer wall under the water where he just passed.
Ashia wove her way through the city's electrical work tunnels. The main and auxiliary power systems had been shut down by her and Shin'ichi two days ago. No workers wandered the tunnels right now trying to repair it. Most likely they had all fled when word of the approaching army hit the civilian population. Come to think of it, Ashia couldn't remember seeing too many people in the city since the power went out, military or otherwise. This thought drove her on. If there were few civilians and only a minimal number of troops in the city, then the nuke must be real. As she passed an intersection of connecting tunnels she checked her map for the proper direction. Turning left she kept on, not noticing the tiny green light flickering in one corner of the hub.
In every underground tunnel, shaft, or other pathway Black Guardsmen made their way to the suspected location of the nuclear device. It was hoped that by splitting up at least one member could reach the chamber in time to deactivate the explosive.
On a large map of the city small green lights flickered here and there. Duga turned to the assembled clan summit and smiled. "You see soon their 'elite' black Guard" he spat those words "will be no more." He turned to a technician and spoke. "Is the false signal ready to go?" he asked calmly. The technician responded immediately. "Yes sir!" Another smile creased the Consul's face. Soon Naga Sadow will flood the city, thinking the nuke deactivated. I hope they don't disappoint us." Akarso laughed manically as thoughts of his enemies incinerated in a holocaust danced in his mind.
High in the skies above Milmefia, Sith Warrior Derev Niroth grinned as he watched a portion of the city wall crumble under Macron's artillery bombardment. As a small contingent of Taldryan forces rushed to fill the gap, a small series of anti-personel shells landed, leveling the reinforcements. His manic grinning was interupted by a beeping on his communications panel.
Suddenly, Derev threw his fighter into a downward spiral to get one last look of the city from a low altitude pass. Satisfied there were no further surprises awaiting him, he opened his channels.
On the ground, the armies of Naga Sadow were now in a quick camp, awaiting the orders to take the city. Scouts on the forward end of the army began hearing cheering and shouting from the main force of the army, and were quickly contacted with thier orders.
"Forces of Naga Sadow. Today, we shall reward Taldryan for thier disloyalty to the Iron Throne, and thier treasonous behavior. For the past several days, the brave pilots have systematically eliminated the primary defenses of the city, and taken air superiority from the claws of Taldryan. With assistance from Tribune Macrons artillery, we now have a hole in the city wall. Today, Sons and Daughters of Sadow, Disciples of Ragnos and Kressh, today, Naga Sadow shall rise above the lesser clans of the Brotherhood! On my order, all forces will advance towards the coordinates I have indicated, there will be no retreat, there will be no loss. We will be victorious over Taldryan!" With that, Manesh broke off his communication, as smaller unit commanders began issuing specific orders.
Naga Sadow's forces formed up the ranks, and began advancing towards the city, under fighter escort from Sapphire and the Night Falcons. Above the city, the remainder of Derev's forces began taking out targets of opportunity on the ground.
The final battle for Milmefia had begun.
Shinichi Endymiron K
"What do you mean good work the army is advancing?" Shin'ichi spoke into the static filled comm. at his wrist. The signal cut out just then as he made his way through the tram tunnels. FRACK! he thought to himself. I've got to get to that bomb. Trying again and again to raise the rest of his team he was met with continual failure. He was too far deep now for transmissions to be sent or received.
A blast shook the ground beneath his feet and a flash in the force told him that one of his team was injured. In rapid succession several more blasts occurred. He could feel pain and fear. Then a blast took the floor from below his feet and he fell. Debris from the blast crashed through several other tunnels causing his fall to lengthen. Composing himself quickly the Krath used the force to slow his decent. The Archpriest still landed with a hard thud and rolled for several feet. Slowly he stood, his muscles aching from the fall, and looked around. Staring back were the faces of several soldiers, blasters drawn.
"Anyone know where the bathroom is? I think I got lost..." Shin'ichi's joking statement was cut short as one of the troopers fired. His violet saber activated in an instant deflecting the blaster bolt back at the man who fired it. Within moments the rest of the dead soldiers compatriots followed him into the afterlife. The Archpriest deactivated his blade and slowly opened the door sticking his head out. Looking both ways he realized he was in the underground bunker where the bomb would be. The poor soldiers guarding it had no idea that they were going to be sacrificed. Shin'ichi would have cared if they hadn't done their best to kill him, and were doing their best to kill his friends up top. As for the five in the room with him, they were dead and he was alive, and that's the way he liked it.
Ashia continued to make her way down via the electrical service tunnels. She heard the blasts and felt a shimmer in the force as her comrades fell. She silently prayed that her friend, Shin'ichi was alright. After several long moments she found herself in the underground complex of Clan Taldryan. For some reason the trap meant for her never activated, maybe the idiots linked it to the dead power supply that was routed to her location. At any rate she had made it without a scratch. The lights were on here so she had to be careful. A lone technician rounded the corner. He died before his body hit the ground.
Godo found himself staring down at two Taldryan soldiers conversing in a hallway. If he moved, they would notice him. his only hope was to wait until they left. Suddenly a shout came from the other end of the corridor sending the two men running towards the disturbance. Smiling, the captain slowly moved the diffuser and slid down to the floor below.
Shin'ichi saw two guards speaking to each other the next time he peered out of the room. It had been a long time since he'd worn the armor of a trooper, but he smiled at remembering how to put it on. When he called to the two to come help him a pang of guilt hit him. They thought they were helping a friend, and their kindness would be repaid with death. As the two entered the room a single wave of the Archpriest's arm sent their heads flying from their bodies. The hum of his lightsaber the only sound in the room before the corpses hit the floor. He switched the blade off and exited the room.
Ashia stepped through a doorway into the main bunker complex. The technician's uniform didn't quite fit, but in any military there were only too sizes of clothes, too big and too small so she didn't think anyone would notice. Raising her head as she exited the portal she was taken aback, before her stood Shin'ichi in the armor of a Taldryan stormtrooper. Directly in front of him Godo was crouched as if ready to attack.
Shin'ichi placed the helmet over his head and spoke through the voicebox. "There's more armor in there Godo. Get it and let's get to that bomb." The captain nodded and moved into the soldier's quarters. A few moments later he emerged in armor similar to Shin'ichi's. The Archpriest laughed. "I get it man, you want to be in charge." Ashia restrained a chuckle at seeing Godo in the armor of a sergeant, while Shin'ichi wore the marks of a lowly private. Godo smiled before donning his own helmet.
Ashia looked at them both. "What's the plan?" Godo spoke up. "Simple. We're escorting you to do some maintenance on the device. They'll either buy it and let us right in, or they won't in which case we'll have to have to kill the guards. Either way these disguises should get us the rest of the way without detection. The trio headed off towards the last known location of the nuke, each making a silent prayer for their own safe return from this suicide mission.
Malisane stood on top of a repulsor craft watching the shelling of the wall by Macrons corrosive artillery. The masses battalions of the Aeotheran 1st Regiment were massed behind half a mile from the city walls.
"Should be through there soon, you have to admire their accuracy."
Terel nodded. "Indeed, we need a pretty big breach though, if we squeeze two few forces through it even if it's lightly defended we'll get picked off as we come through."
"I'm sure Macron's thougth of that Colonel," Malisane replied calmly.
"That corrosive stuff doesn't hang around does it?" Xayun asked.
The Aedile nodded. "I'm not an alchemist but I imagine it doesn't disapates fairly quickly. We'll give it a few minutes time to be sure but I don't think there's a risk."
Teral was listening to his communicator. "We have reports of the Tarthos and Orion regiments advancing on the city," he reported.
Malisane nodded. "We'll be there soon enough."
They watched as another couple of shells hit the wall, spilling out more of the corrosive material. "Any time soon in fact." he added.
Shinichi Endymiron K
Neman Ferndar and Jann Dorlic were on watch by the "device" again. They had been third watch on the blasted thing for over a week now. Neither man knew exactly what it was; just that it would help them win the war against Naga Sadow, and that it would keep their enemy from claiming the city above them. The city was a distant memory to them. No one who was chosen for this special assignment had been to the surface in almost a month. Instead they ate, slept, and worked in the sterile, too-white underground bunker. Over the course of a week the two had become friends often joking about their "glorious" assignment and how they would be well rewarded for keeping the secret weapon safe as it sat in a hidden and unknown compound deep beneath the surface of Antei. They also joked about how it couldn't be much of a weapon as technicians were always entering and leaving the secure room.
So when a lone techie with two trooper guards came down the hall neither man became alarmed. They stiffened a bit at seeing one was a sergeant, but otherwise remained unaware of their true identities. The trio stopped before the guards, Neman spoke up. "Identcards please gentlemen." he spoke to the faux-troopers. The two handed over the identcards of the deceased men whose armor they now occupied. Jann took them and ran them through the wall terminal. A moment later the all clear came from the computer.
As he handed the identcards back Dorlic looked towards the technician and smiled appreciatively at her as he asked for her card. With a nod of her head and a smile of her own she said "You don't need to see my identification." The guards shook their heads and Jann repeated "We don't need to see her identification." Neman opened the door for them and the three infiltrators walked right in.
Looking around at the large chamber Godo remarked casually "Well that was easier than I thought." The other two nodded. Shin'ichi began to remove his helmet but was stopped when Godo placed his hand on the Archpriest's arm. "There might be camera's in here." he stated quietly. Shin'ichi nodded and kept the helmet on, then turned towards Ashia. "Get to it techie, we haven't got all day." he said roughly. The Knight turned and looked at him sideways but set about her task when she realized their might also be sound recording devices.
Godo sat down at a communications terminal and set work trying to send a coded signal to the Army outside the city. Shin'ichi kept an eye out for everything else that could go wrong. Several long moments later Ashia stood up and reported that the bomb had been deactivated. The hand full of wires she held in her left hand were a testament to that statement. Godo nodded and gave a thumbs up indicating that the signal had been sent. For once it seemed as if everything had gone pretty much to plan.
As they opened the door to exit the chamber they came face to face with four stormtroopers and a technician. Shin'ichi looked at Godo and Ashia and then back at the five people facing them. "Well...looks like you did need to see her identification." he said before igniting his violet saber. Godo and Ashia followed suite and soon three from Naga Sadow were running from five corpses and desperately trying to find a way out. They passed the Electrical Service Tunnel access and Ashia grabbed Godo who in turn grabbed Shin'ichi. As they ran down the tunnel the trio began to shed their disguises. It would do no good for them to get up top and be shot by their own soldiers as Taldryan troops. Alarms began to wail and lights flashed in the corridor as they fled faster and faster towards the surface.
After a long and grueling crawl/climb they emerged into the streets of Milmefia. "What now?" Ashia asked. "Now we find a safe place and wait for the army to make contact." Godo responded. Shin'ichi nodded and started to walk away. "It'll be better if we split up for now. They’ll be looking for three people traveling together. I'll see you both once we've taken the city." Ashia and Godo dispersed as well.
Somewhere in the distance the crack of artillery could be heard pounding on the city walls. Thunder roared overhead as lightning lit up the night sky. The excitement in the air was as electrifying as the incoming storm. Soon the army would breakthrough, and then the real fun would commence. Shin'ichi smiled to himself as pulled the hood over his head and kept on down the alley.
“Sir, we have breached the wall,” said Sergeant Sarthim as he turned in the dim blue lights of the artillery command platform. “The reinforcements were blown to…er, neutralized Sir.”
“Excellent. Notify the appropriate persons. I want you to drop back to support fire shelling only now, as the ground attack will soon commence. I assume you can handle this by yourself?” queried the Sith.
‘Yes, Sir!” replied the Seprosian.
“Good. I will be moving to assist in the ground assault personally. Keep in touch with the spotters and myself via comlink. May the Force be with you,” said Macron as he got up and popped the hatch.
The insane alchemist strode forward and sat firmly on a speeder bike. He was rapidly whizzing his way toward the forward troop staging areas. There was no way he was going to miss the fun of a direct ground assault.
Being cooped up in a can that lobbed shells was necessary, but not very satisfying. He had been itching for some personal combat for quite a while now. Now he could have some playtime with the Taldryan forces in person.
As the dawn cracked through the city of Milmefia, the ground forces of Naga Sadow were fast approaching the city. On the horizon, a small speeder bike crept over a hill, and came up behind the Naga Sadow forces. Above Milmefia, six fighters flew in a constant circle around the city, ensuring no more surprises would arise.
"Field Marshall, the time has come" a Lieutenant Colonel stated.
"Indeed it has" Korras remarked, as he turned towards the Army, his title of Field Marshall granting him the right to be the overall leader of the engagement forces. Without a speech, or even making eye contact, Korras shed his outter robes on the ground, and simply began a moderate jog towards the city walls, lightsabres drawn. The armies of Naga Sadow cheered, as each unit commander in quick sucession led thier forces forward.
Sith Warrior Derev Niroth hovered over the gaping hole in the walls of the city, watching his Army advance. Seeing his Master nearing the breech, the Warrior swooped down, forcing his Master to jump out of the way of the fighter. Korras cursed something, and continued his trot towards the city.
Sapphire and the Night Falcons swept through the city, ready to strike at the first sign of a viable target. The first batallions of Naga Sadow poured through the breech, and they began to systematically clear the nearby buildings.
Suddenly, Derev's humor was cut short. His sensors suddenly lit up, indicating enemy fighters emerging from the city. "What the hell?" Derev yelled as 3 squadrons of fighters poured from a hidden hanger.
"ALL FIGHTERS TO THE CITY CENTER NOW" Derev yelled into his comm panel. Quickly typing in a command, a message was sent to thier captured airbase, instructing any available pilot to get in the air.
On the ground, Naga Sadow's forces had yet to find a single soldier, however, they all now took cover within the buildings, those not yet in the city running for any nearby cover.
The Sith Warrior turned off his piloting computer, the force flowing through his controls. As if a lightsabe weilded by the most Masterful Jedi Masters, the modified TIE advance darted through the air, carefully evading enemy lasers, setting up his attack runs. Sapphire and the Night Falcons took up positions on either side of the Rollmaster, as Naga Sadows best pilots fought for the lives of thier clan.
Electricity thrummed in the air, two Elders pacing their way, circling hungry tigers around a fresh kill. True to his nature, Katarn swept his lightsaber in a tight swirl in his right hand and leapt at the Krath Master. Bringing his blade into a quick thrust, Trevarus parried the blow in the manner of the ancient Makashi swordsmen. Yet his technique was more subtle than mere saber blows.
"Death awaits you, Katarn" Trevarus said, his voice a rasp on hot steel.
These sparks ignited primal rage in the Taldryan Elder, who swept the close distance between with an unrelenting storm of blows. With deft assurance, Trevarus guided his movements. The Master slashed quickly, throwing his adversary into a minute stumble. Touching the Force, Trevarus shifted the loose ground under him, where he toppled to concrete. Again, he recovered quickly, throwing his legs forward, propelling himself back to a ready stance.
"Bring it, Sadow." He spat. "I'll take you down, both of you."
A brief snicker escaped from Trevarus' lips.
The Taldryan renewed his attack, bearing low on his shoulder with his blade across his left side, landing a sweep that forced Trevarus to quickly step to the side. The Master brought his short blade to a quick jab at Katarn's back. Swiftly, he spun on his heels, breaking the Master's deathblow with a single crack of his sapphire lightsaber.
"Excellent. But futile. Surrender, and your suffering will be lessened."
"Not a chance"
"Insolence." They whispered. The Dragon reached into the darkest places of the Force, drawing out all the pain of a thousand dying souls. Lightsabers vanished from theirs hands, gripped the Adept's neck in a vice of silver-flowing metal. His screams echoed through every living soul.
Shin'ichi gasped under his deep cowl, drawing it back to better gauge his surroundings. He felt the tremor echoing through ruined stone walls, as if a beacon to guide him. He quickened his step, ducking down a side-street, and across another alleyway. He leapt over fallen bodies, scrambling around a ruined armored vehicle, its dead crew burning half-strewn from an open hatch. His bones reverberated as he drew closer, but nothing could prepare him for the sight in the open courtyard between the ruins of six high buildings.
Dozens of bodies and the abandoned weapons of countless soldiers littered the level, if shattered concrete ground. Corpses seemed almost ripped apart, blood had covered almost every surface with a deep sheen of rancid decay and pain. At the center of everything, Kir Katarn stood slashing at a black-clad figure, who ducked and dodged, landing screaming blows upon his body from every possible angle. He recognized the features of his Master, the black tattoo in the center of his forehead barely visible from distance and his ferocious movements. Yet, even from so far, he saw the hollowed-eyed, blood drippping snarl of another beast. Kir Katarn was battling the Thunder Dragon, dread Shan Long.
Almost instinctively, he shied into a small recess behind a strew of bodies and broken boulders, yet still within sight of an epic battle.
Silver claws ripped at the Adept, struggling hopelessly to evade, mend his broken body, and land even a single blow on the moster circling around him. The Dragon flashed lightning from his hands, and Katarn caught it on the blade of his lightsaber, gripping the hilt with a steadfast resignation in his eyes. He held the stare of a man committed to dying with honor.
"DIE!" Shan Long screamed, his thousand-voices echoing from walls with a resounding cacophony of limitless insanity.
The very air grew hot, and a bead of sweat trickled down into Shin'ichi's eyes. Blinking them rapidly, afraid to miss a moment, an explosion deadened his ears forced him to take cover. Stone pelted his hiding place, a ruined slab fell not even a foot from his position. The Krath dove away, filling his soul with the necessary terror to preserve his life in the aftermath of the Dragon's powerful Rage.
After a moment, all was still. Tentatively, he stood, looking back to the center of the courtyard. A crater sixteen meters wide had been blasted into the air. Ducking to its edge, he looked down.
Trevarus stood over the broken body of the Taldryan Elder, his lightsaber held loosely in his hand. With one desicive stroke, he severed Kir Katarn's head at his neck.
"It is finished." Master Sadow said evenly, brushing dust from his robes. A heavy cloak appeared in the Master's hands, and throwing it over his shoulder, he fastened the three of the heavy coat's silver buttons before turning up the collar.
He looked up at Shin'ichi from the pit. "This battle is over, but there is much to be done."
The Archpriest nodded. "We've almost finished routing scum from here."
"Excellent, lead the way."
"Of course, Master"
Godo was almost thrown to the floor yet again, earning a scrape across his left cheek from flying debris. The bombardment had become much more intense, the large office block he'd taken up residence in vibrated with each dull thud from the allied shelling. Since the 'encounter' with the bomb Godo had opted to find a place with a commanding view and had on occasion acted as spotter. His intention to meet up with the main strike force hit a problem with the arrival of enemy fighters. Belching out from hidden hangers across the city, a clever ploy and no doubt anticipated losing their main hanger.
Scooping up a fallen wooden chair he dragged it alongside the nearest window facing the fighting, turning the chair round he sat down. He scanned the now blackening horizon, what looked like a swarm of flies were sending out streams of coloured light with the occasional bright spark that faded like a dying ember signalled the destruction of another fighter. Despite well organised resistance by Taldryan and their strategic use of choke points amongst the city districts the shear scale of the military operation was taking a heavy toll. Even here, towards the centre of the city breeches in the walls were visible. Fires had also sprung up about the city casting a hellish glow in the sky.
From within his robes he produced a military grade communicator, setting the frequency and pumping up the volume he set it down on the floor. Getting up he walked over to a jet black case, releasing the catches he removed a modified Tenlos disrupter rifle. Ideal for a bit of sniping.
Sitting down and using the back of the chair as support for the long grey rifle he began scanning the largely deserted streets.
"Requesting immediate reinforcements! They have breeched the southern quarter reque....bzzt..."
"All units, move to sector 17 through to 34. Reinforce all stationed devisions."
"Reaper is down, repeat repear is down! All units fall back to secure lines."
Godo raised an eyebrow, 'reaper'? His confusion was answered with a disturbance in the force. He knew it, he remembered it. His former friend and mentor Kir Katarn was dead. He could feel the shift in the air, the growing fear in the Taldryan ranks. The enemy resistance was beginning to collapse. Putting his weight into the rifle he began picking off targets.
"May as well help with Taldryans morale" Godo mused aloud.
Shinichi Endymiron K
The two Krath trotted from the courtyard towards the sounds of battle, debris crunching beneath their boots. A slight beeping emanated from the comm. held by Shin'ichi. He read the message and clicked out a response before speaking to his master. "My Lord, Macron has advanced into the city ahead of the army and requests that we rally the Black Guard for a special operation." The dragon looked to his apprentice as they ran. "What does your adopted brother have in mind young one?" Young One. Those words rubbed at him. He was a veteran of many battles and had been in combat from one end of the galaxy to the other. He was an Equite fast approaching the ranks of the Elders, and yet his new master made him seem as if he was an insignificant pawn, but if that was true it was only in comparison to the power wielded by the great dragon that Shin'ichi was made insignificant.
"Macron says that there's a hidden hanger somewhere towards the center of the city. Our fighters are on their way to engage the enemy there, but we've got to seal up that hole before more craft can launch. We have the rest of their airfields under our guns, so if we close this one up their birds in the air will be stranded without a place to refuel and re-arm." Trevarus smiled at the common language used by his apprentice. He hoped to one day turn the rough soldier into more than a remorseless killing machine. For now though it was the killer that the clan needed. "I assume you have a rendezvous point picked out?" Now it was Shin'ichi's turn to be amused. "Master...I'm a professional soldier. Of course we have a rendezvous picked out." The elder smiled. "What was I thinking my young apprentice? Lead the way."
The Archpriest picked up on the slight mocking tone but understood it for the warm joke that it was. As they headed towards the bombed out office park that would act as their rally point he signaled to the surviving members of the Black Guard strike team to meet there. Sadow fighters flew overhead and both Master and Apprentice heard the sounds of aerial combat. Moments later a fighter crashed a few blocks from their location. Shin'ichi silently hoped that none of his clanmates occupied the downed craft.
Slowly he pulled the Kyataran designed pistol from its holster. “I have a bad feeling about something master.” He muttered as the two slowed their brisk pace. A shot rang out and landed where only seconds ago Trevarus had been standing. The Elder moved like lightning, sensing the blast before it was fired. In an instant Shin’ichi raised his weapon and fired. From a third story window, devoid of glass, a lone body fell to the pavement with a thud. The Archpriest holstered his weapon and motioned silently for the two men to circle around the parking lot. Once clear of the building and behind cover Trevarus asked of his student “Why did you not check the body?” Shin’ichi said with as much matter-of-factness as if he were watching the holonews, “They Bobbie trap the bodies of their snipers sometimes. Get within twenty or so feet and boom. You’re all gone.”
The two men continued towards the abandoned office park. The sounds of battle growing louder in the distance.
Mononoke slunk back in the shadows as he eyed the hangar. Even now, the Sadow forces were crushing this city in their iron grip but this place remained functional. An “abandoned” office park was merely a front for a concealed hangar bay complex.
“Clever,” he mumbled in annoyance as he watched. His request had been sent, and he had stowed his Sith speeder bike in some debris for now. A clear shot sound out, and the meaty thud of a body hitting the ground sounded nearby. Macron grinned, twisting the tattoos on his face. The cavalry had arrived.
Master Shan and Shin’Ichi gestured from a hidden spot beside a fallen tramline. Ashia had already arrived, and was hiding with Macron. Godo had taken refuge high above them all in a building to act as a counter-sniper.
Hand gestures served as a silent means of communication between the Sadowites. Shin’Ichi and Trevarus moved to the site where Macron and Ashia hid. The rubble of the computer shop was a perfect vantage point. As they stealthily arrived, another damaged Taldryan fighter limped into the hangar from the aerial combat.
The Dark Jedi communicated telepathically.
“We are here, young ones,” said Shan Long simply.
“Indeed,” replied Macron.
“That airbase has to be closed,” said Shin’Ichi mentally. The others nodded in agreement.
The group of Sadow warriors slipped into the complex stealthily as Shan Long wrapped the shadows and silence about them. Each one was focused on the grim mission ahead.
The Darksiders entered the hangar and soon raised unholy hell.
Macron was busy chopping and Force-choking the Taldryan filth in the open as a distraction, counting on his armor to let him take some fire. Shin’Ichi’s saber sought the flesh of his distracted foes with aplomb. Ashia worked silently with Shin’Ichi, killing the enemy from the shadows. Shan was a vile terror unto himself. None stood before the Master’s might.
The airbase was soon neutralized. Lightning flew, sabers slashed smoking limbs away, and blaster shots scattered brains throughout the area. The small group of non-Force users had been caught by surprise and completely annihilated.
Ashia broke the com silence after the deed was done. “Derev, the rear airbase is secure from the enemy. The birds have no place to land and re-supply now. The nest is closed,” she said with a satisfied evil smile.
"Thank Darth" Derev yelled into his comms panel. The unexpected surprise Taldryan had given them was over, the rat hole plugged.
Concentrating on the enemy fighter to his right, Derev banked and took up position behind the fighter. Before he was able to get off a shot, the engine flucuated for several seconds, and the Taldryan fighter fell from the sky.
"I suppose that serves them right" Lucius said over the comms in between his bouts of laughter.
Derev and the remaining fighters quickly went after the remaining fighters who had launched later in the engagement, and still had enough fuel left to fight. Within the hour, the Naga Sadow forces had taken down Taldryan's final fighter.
"You're all clear" Derev spoke into his comm to the Field Marshall
"Good Shooting Derev, next time try not to run me over" Korras replied
Grinning, Derev ordered his fighters back to the base, and Derev carefully landed his TIE at the cities edge.
Kat smirked as the comm unit crackled with the news, "All's clear in this sector." Her whip was still wrapped around the lifeless leg of a fallen enemy, the leather seemingly strangling the limb. Although the whip didn't do the damage, it certainly kept him from going far from her saber. The remaining enemy forces were not gone, but they were certainly on their way.
Glancing up as she unwound her weapon, her emerald eyes scanned the horizon. A few of her unit were nearby, hunting through the carcasses for treasures. The remainder could be heard laughing to each other, not far off. It appeared the enemy were few and far between. They had cleared up the tail end of the problem, now they needed to help finish off the rest.
Growling low, Kat watched as another single soldier was brought before her, his snarl twisting his face into a horrid grimace, as he was forced into a kneeling position. Looking up at the auburn haired leader, he spat out the words, "I'm not talking."
Grinning, the Proconsul placed her booted heel against his shoulder, leaning forward to grind it in painfully as the soldiers kept him upright. Leaning forward, she slowly caressed down the side of his dirt stained face with a single finger, mesmerizing him with her eyes until she reached his chin. She whispered, "Its a good thing I have no questions to ask, then."
At that instant, she ignited her saber. The hiss and the gutteral scream echoing over the nearly cleared street, the quick stench of burnt flesh and fresh blood catching her nose. Licking her lips and pushing the corpse back, Kat gathered her troops to find the rest of the stragglers.
"Well, I take it that'll about end the Battle of Milmefia" Manesh remarked to the assembled summit. With the battle for the city having become a sport of entertainment for the Equites, the morale of the few remaining Taldryan troops failed, and they were now gathered at the north gate of the city, prepared to make thier final stand.
"So, do we sent in the troops, or should we go have fun with thier survivors?" Trev asked the group, a sick grin on his face.
"Ohh, I wanna kill someone, my sabres still clean" Derev added, with a jestful frown on his face "Besides, I wanna practice my telekinetics" he added.
"Fine, go on Derev, and take whoever wants to with you. Don't make it too bloody" Manesh finally said. Like a child in a candy store, Derev walked, feeling all giddy. Close beyond followed Skikyo and Kat, ever groping her whip.
"Now then" Manesh began "Send the forces to sweep the city again, I want every room searched, there'll be no surprises this time." Manesh continued laying out his plans for the army, as a few screams rose above the noise of the city. "Ah, I see Derev's having fun" Trev laughed.
As the forces cleared the city, and the remaining soldiers of Taldryan were obliterated, Consul Sadow and Shan-Long were deep in conversation.
"Ahh, you sense it too" Manesh said to Trev as he noticed the concern on the masters face.
"Yes, I do. I fear the Grand Master's have met again" Trev admitted
"What should we do?"
"Nothing. To go near the Dark Hall is suicide, they could easily destroy it and all around it. Hell, if they get into it, they could destroy the entire system"
"Truly. So, we hold up here and wait?"
"Yes. Guard the city and hold it, and we find out what happens with the clones"
"Very well" Manesh closed, as he walked away from the Master in deep thought.
* * * * *
As night enveloped the city, the Brethern of Naga Sadow were scattered throughout the city. With landing ships now bringing down supplies, many of the Sadowans took to consuming vast ammounts of liquor to toast thier defeat of Taldryan. Those sensitive to the force were now deep in thought, all feeling the shockwaves within the force of the Dual of the Grand Masters. For hours it had gone on, and yet there seemed no clear signs of victory, no signs of defeat. Sith Warrior Derev Niroth walked out of the administration center the summit had taken as thier command post. Robed in his dark robes, hood covering his face, he made his way towards his TIE Advanced. Under a cloak of darkness, the fighter took off, none nearby noticing its accent into the skies of Antei.
Inside the administration building, Manesh and Trev sat by the communications panel, waiting for the communication.
Malisane sat happily sipping a beer in one of the city squares. The fighting hadn't been as hard as he expected, his regiment sweeping through the defenders like a hot knife through butter then moving out to secure the area. As a long time opponent to random slaughter, on his orders the Talydran survivors they'd captured had been marched out of Milmefia under armed guard and sent back to the airbase, to join the three hundred or so they'd captured earlier.
"Not a bad fight," Xayun said happily from nearby.
"Indeed," the Aedile agreed, "not much of a challenge in the end, but we kept our casualties down low and it was useful experience for our Ludo Kressh troops."
"True," Xayun replied.
The Aedile glanced around the nearby area. A carnival atmosphere had broken out in the square. Many off duty Aeotheran troopers were chatting and drinking beer, and a barbeque was under way. He idly made a note to keep the drinking under control, they had liberated this city for the Grandmaster and he wanted to keep the pillaging down to a minimum where possible.
He frowned at one odd group of dancing revellers who were singing and banging drums. "Where did all these ewoks come from I don't recall them being here earlier."
"Not sure," Xayun replied, taking a swig, "I think they just turn up at these times," he replied, "it's probably one of those things." He listened for a minute, "you have to admitt they can carry a tune."
Malisane nodded, "Yeah they're not bad." he admited.
One of the troopers wandered over and deposited a plate of what he hoped was nerf meat in front of him. He nodded a quick thanks and took a bite.
"How is it?" Xayun asked.
"Not bad," he replied when he'd finished a mouthful, "little undercooked in the middle but I can live with that."
"Wonder how the battle in the Dark Hall is going?" Xayun asked.
Malisane shrugged, "I suppose we'll find out soon enough," he replied, "if the wrong side wins I suppose we'll have to get ready to move out back to Sepros, but for now not much we can do." He took another bite and followed it with a swig of beer.
"Yeah you're right." Xayun replied.
Shinichi Endymiron K
Shin'ichi sat alone in one of the bombed out buildings. Glass and debris were strewn about the floor. Dead bodies lay here and there, the corpses looted by ground troops for anything valuable. The Archpriest had not come here to loot, or to celebrate. The battle was over, Thorin and a few others were enjoying a moment of senseless slaughter, Malisane and his men were distancing themselves from this war by enjoying a few moments as if they were civilians on vacation.
The Krath sat in silent meditation. His eyes were closed yet his mind was open to the currents of the force. He felt lives being snuffed out and in the distance he sensed the battle raging within the Dark Hall on Antei. He remembered when the Dark Hall was on Eos, way back when. He reached out with his mind to touch the Grand Master's locked in combat. He knew that what he did was dangerous, yet he did it all the same. He craved greater power, and to gain power as a Dark Jedi one has to take risks. His masters had taught him that fact very well, during his training with Daihok, the battles he fought along side Muz, and now in his apprenticeship with Trevarus. He walked a long hard road, but one that would bring him glory in the end.
His thoughts burst like a bubble as he sensed a terrible disturbance in the force. His blue eyes snapped open. And he couldn't tell where the scream came from or why it sounded like his own voice.
Macron continued to work on the Taldryan spy on the table. Horrible screams emanated from the ruined Gungan’s throat. The alchemist laughed manically as he let vicious acid slugs crawl on the victim. He loved his work immensely, but having so many clients was tiring. It was difficult to do quality art in a short time.
“Now. You will tell me where the secret Taldryan cash horde is,” said the Sith sternly. He gestured to a nearby interrogator droid that came to assist his probing. Soon, the screams were even louder.
Malisane and Xayun winced at the sounds as they ate outside the tent. “The Doctor is In,” laughed Xayun with his weird sense of humor. Many people milled about in the festive atmosphere. The carnival atmosphere near the “medical” tent was muted.
“Yeah. Doesn’t make it easy to eat though,” replied Malisane with a grimace. “But you know, if anyone can get the job done it’s Mr. Lunatic in there.”
Macron washed off the gore and let the droid take over for a bit. He stepped outside the tent, and grabbed a burger and a glass of water from a nearby griller. The madman ate it with gusto, juices dripping down his face as he waved at Malisane and Xayun. He then stepped quickly back into the tent and resumed his grisly work.
“Gotta give him credit, he’s dedicated,” said Xayun as the two ate their chow.
The Dragons had laid to rest within the dark souls of their physical bearers. The battle was fought and won. Clan Naga Sadow had claimed this city as their own. The bottle of the delicate and expensive bottle of brandy stood on a small table - one of the few things that weren't broken, standing on a balcony of a building. The sight of the chaos and destruction that had been brought by the members of Clan Naga Sadow over this city spread beneath the calm gaze of the Dark Jedi Master. Trevarus lifted his glass and the golden liquid touched his lips for a kiss as he drank. Laughter of celebrating clansmen echoed through the night.
"Our fight is over - but they are fighting", the Blind Dragon whispered. "I can feel them. The two Jacs.". A dense cloak of force origining from that battle had fallen upon them - having replaced the former intensity of the battle for the city. She felt the burning desire for power within her - and the twist of her soul. ... who am I? ... what am I? ... what is happening to me? ... Her pale fingers ran through the crimson of her hair. She wondered if she was about to follow the path Trevarus had walked. But something told her that there she was destined to follow a different path. "You have also taken Shin'ichi as your apprentice?", the Archpriestress tilted her head lightly, her blind eyes stared unblinking into Trevarus's direction.
"Yes, it was destined for him to be woven into our fate - this thread begins here and now." Trevarus said calmly. Sildrin faintly smiled, replying: "Oh, Shin'ichi and I were already woven into the tapestry of the force as part of one bigger pattern. He had taken part in the battle that destroyed my planet, my people ...my family. In return I destroyed a facility, killing his family. We first didn't know of this, but we found out a few months ago." Slowly Trevarus nodded, then he felt a mental shift within his Sister Dragon. Mild curiousity rose within him as he watched the black dancing across the milky white of her eyes. Prophetic words quietly rolled from her lips like a murmering river over stones: "...a pattern within the woven threads of the force... a quivering mass ... I see a fierce black wolf with gleaming white fangs..." Her face had turned into a mask of transcendence and her breath quickened. " ...a flash of light cuts through the threads, through the pattern... a paw... no.. a hand was cut off ...a scream.. a terrible scream...." A hand laying on her shoulder brought her back to reality, letting her essence emerge from the pool of prophecies. She gasped for air and lowered her head, crimson strands covering her face as she was left in confusion after the last prophetic word had left her mouth. "You are to walk the path of prophecies from now on, Blind Dragon. It was your destined way since you became my apprentice.", Trevarus quietly said.
The Blind Dragon whispered, wrapping her arms around herself: "I don't want to follow this path of prohecies. Everyone will fear for what I may say. Each of my words will make them tremble, fearing my visions make the actions come true.... Each of my words will make them avoid me more and more... " A scream broke through the silence that followed her words. A fluent motion and crimson flaming hair traced her as she jumped up - it was a voice she had recognised immediately. It was Shin'ichi himself. The brilliant purple light came to live in her hand as she ignited her saber - quickly she ran towards the source of the scream.
"But this is your destiny... and you cannot escape", Trevarus murmered, taking another sip from the Brandy.
The ash and debris began sticking to his boots as he made his through yet another blasted wasteland. The shells had hit this area with considerable intensity and the heat of their fires could still be felt hours on. Occasionally his boot would kick up a bone of a fallen solider or fleeing civilian. It mattered little to Godo, since the bulk of the enemy had been destroyed he had made for the huge city walls though broken and shattered with flames still leaping high into the nights sky. Reaching the foot of the defensive wall he began purposefully climbing until he reached the top. The air was much cooler here and offered a commanding view of the surrounding region and the city itself.
From this vantage point he could make out the many thousands of small camp fires that had sprung up, mingling with the still burning structures. In the cooling breeze he could occasionally make out the sound of small arms fire or the odd scream. No doubt the work of Macron, Godo mused. He preferred solitude after the blood and sweat of a battle, needing the time to rest and meditate. The war had seen him kill many old friends, once his Clansmen. It was often curious to see how his allegiances had shifted, Taldryan were once his home and loyalty as had Plagueis after it yet here he was in a foreign Clan. He was suddenly aware of a familiar presence.
"Horus, surprised to see you scaling the heights. Come to admire the view?"
Emerging from the shadows came the stern faced Horus Blackheart, a fairly new recruit to Naga Sadow but one of the more experienced fighters in the Brotherhood. Years of combat experience who never minced his words, this in turn had made him many enemies.
"Hello old friend thought you'd be down below sampling the beer and ales."
Godo shook his head slowly, turning away from the burning city. "I just needed a bit of solitude, doesn't feel much of a victory."
Horus nodded slowly "I know what you mean, I feel it too. Like...thunder, a storm that you can't see but sense."
The two stood for a moment in silence listening to the sound of celebration, distant but clearly audible and allowing the wind to pick up causing their cloaks to flutter violently.
"Something puzzles me, in all the years we have known each other you have never once told me about where you came from. Or for that matter why you drift from Clan to Clan"
Godo’s hand began drifting towards his Lightsaber, whilst Horus continued "Where did you say your from again?"
"It hardly matters where any of us come from, only that we are here. We all have our parts to play and at least for now we can celebrate a victory over a very deadly enemy."
Horus nodded slowly, then allowing a grin to creep across his face "Well, I'm heading back down. Time for me to get involved in the party. Coming?"
Godo merely shook his head "Perhaps later."
With that his old friend was gone, leaving Godo to his own thoughts, his Lightsaber clenched in his hand.
Shinichi Endymiron K
The Blind Dragon entered the bombed out building, her breath ragged, her saber ignited in a surge of amethyst violence. What she saw was horrid. Three rogue Taldryan Dark Jedi had a hold of Shin'ichi and were binding him to a cement column. His eyes were glazed over; she didn't even think he knew what was happening to him. The saber he kept at his side was gone, lying on the floor. Beside the fallen saber was his severed right hand. The wound had been cauterized, proof that it was cut by a saber.
In an instant Sildrin was upon the renegade Dark Jedi. Her saber flashed in the darkness. In an instant the three were dead. She approached Shin'ichi and spoke to him. His eyes continued to stare straight ahead, he said nothing, his body hung limp against the column held up only by the steel cables meant to bind him. The Archpriestess whispered a single word into his ear as she undid the bonds. She caught him before he could hit the floor and laid him down gently so that she may retrieve his saber.
From his lips came a single word "...done" as he passed out. Using the force to augment her strength Sildrin carried him back to the CNS camp. As she left the medical tent, holding his severed hand in a sealed jar, she felt him touch her mind again and had to fight back the emotions. What have we done. she thought. ...what have we done.
Unaware of Shin'ichi's fate, the majority of the Naga Sadow troops continued their celebrations in the many squares and plazas of Milmefia. A periodic trickle of warriors continued to make their way into the celebrations, following the sounds of laughter and booze-fuelled revelry through the darkened streets of the city.
Amongst the stream of troopers and Journeyman strode the Epis, his garments soaked with dried blood and gore, numerous severed heads hanging from his belt. Looking around curiously, Manji suddenly noticed an Ewok dancing madly past him, banging a large drum. Acting on instinct, the Epis drew his sabre and gutted the pest, the hiss of burnt flesh and a terrible scream cutting through the music. Suddenly realising that every person (or alien) in the courtyard was looking at him, Manji withdrew the sabre and chuckled.
"Eheh... damn Ewoks are like lightsabre magnets."
With a wave of his hand, Manji reached into the Force and convinced the Ewoks to continue dancing and singing as if nothing had happened. Moving over to Malisane, he sat down next to the Aedile and sighed loudly.
"You're lucky Macron is still in the tent. As I recall, Ewoks are amongst the alien species he hates. Along with Gungans and Wookiees. Anyway, where's the sake?"
Grabbing a nearby Apprentice, the Epis communicated his desire for sake, chuckling as the Journeyman scuttled off in confusion. Then Manji noticed something strange.
"Hmm? Where's Shin'ichi? Come to think of it, where are the other Keibatsu? Macron's dissecting some poor bastard, fair enough, but Shikyo and Shin should be around... Lord Darth knows they love a party."
Shrugging, Malisane responded between bites.
"No idea. I haven't seen him for a while."
Stroking his chin slowly, the Epis stared into the blackness of the night sky, his senses reaching out into the Force, seeking the other members of his family. He could sense Muz in the direction of the Dark Hall, but that was out of his remit- the Adept could most definitely take care of himself. Shikyo was somewhere in the city, probably making his way towards the celebrations... and Shin'ichi was...
"In the medical tent?!"
Jumping up quickly, the Epis looked around and spotted the Apprentice hurrying towards him. Snatching the jug of sake from the Journeyman's hands, Manji moved over to the tent and opened the flap.
"Macron, can you let the droid take over? I think Shin'ichi might need some help..."
Wiping the gore from his face, Mononoke nodded and followed the Epis out of the tent. The two made their way to the medical tent, passing the jug of sake back and forth as they moved past other revellers.
Macron nodded, motioning to the IT-3 droid as he stepped out of the tent. The dancing Ewoks immediately caught his attention, but they would have to wait for now. A low growl bubbled deep in his sake-laden throat at the frustration of not having time to kill them all. He hated the furry vermin, and loved to make pajamas out of their soft pelts.
“Yes, Master,” he replied to Manji as they hurried to the other medical tent.
Shinichi Endymiron K
The form of a crumpled droid lay a few yards outside of the medical tent. Manji and Macron looked at it briefly and then at each other. They felt their brother’s pain, and his sadness. As they approached they saw Sildrin sitting in the debris before the tent sobbing and clutching a jar. Manji knelt down to speak with her but she simply pointed towards the medical tent.
As they entered they saw Shin'ichi on an operating table, more destroyed medical droids lay strewn about and a doctor clutched his arm in one corner. Several soldiers were attempting to hold the Archpriest down with minimal success. Macron whirled his armored form towards the terrified doctor. "What happened here?" The doctor began to stammer and then realizing to whom he was speaking with took a deep breath and explained as best he could. "Archpriestess Xia-Long brought in Archpriest Shin'ichi. His right hand had been severed by a lightsaber, and he was in a near catatonic state. We bagan the process for prosthetic replacement and all of a sudden he shot upright and flung one of the medical droids right out of the tent. We thought he might be having an adverse reaction to the anesthetic so we attempted to restrain him, but he destroyed several of the droids as well as crushing my arm." As if to punctuate the doctor’s statements a soldier went flying into another operating table and landed with a loud clang.
Slowly Manji approached his struggling brother touching his mind with the force. The Epis' knees seemed to go weak for an instant and he had to extend a hand to steady himself. He clutched his right hand as he came the rest of the way and laid a hand on his older brother kneeling down beside him. "Macron...leave the doctor and come here." The armored Sith turned and ambled towards his brothers. Shin'ichi reached out and touched the Alchemists mind as he had done with Sildrin and Manji. Were it not for the armor Macron too would have succumbed to the vision projected into his minds eye.
The Herald and Lord Hegemon locked in combat. A single blast of force energy. Their brother being flung from the railing to land on the marble several stories below. His essence in the force growing faint. The two Grand Masters meeting in battle. A tremendous blast of energy. Then the image faded and was replaced with pain. The Sith too grasped for his armored right hand.
A tent flap moved to the side as Sildrin entered wiping a tear from her face. In her left arm she cradled the jar that contained Shin'ichi's severed hand. The Keibatsu Archpriest lay back down and was calm once again. "Will he be alright?" She asked of him. Macron turned his head towards her and spoke through the helmet. "He'll be fine." The Archpriestess nodded in understanding. "What about..." her voice trailed off not wanting to mention the eldest Keibatsu and the possibility of his death. Manji spoke softly. "We don't know."
A few hours later Shin'ichi lay on a gurney testing the range of motion and strength on his new cybernetic hand. Sildrin, Manji, Macron and Shikyo sat and stood around him. "We're getting conflicting reports from the Dark Hall." Shikyo spoke up. Shin'ichi's voice was raspy as he responded. "What do they say?" The younger Keibatsu looked around the assembly. "Some say the Dark Hall is decimated..." his voice trailed off. Manji looked at the younger man with an ice filled glare. "What else do they say?" His voice was hard as stone. The Sith looked down, barely containing a sob. "That Muz is dead."
Raven leaned on the side of one of the buildings, meditating casually. He felt anguish form the two Grand Masters off in the distance. Through the invisible world he wandered, his particular attunement to emotion giving him a little extra insight into the battle taking place in the Dark Hall. Obviously they were both in great pain, although controlling pain, he knew, was subconcious for someone as powerful as a Grand Master.
Abruptly a new emotion entered and overloaded his mind, something much closer to him than the Dark Hall. A few people saw the Knight cringe, and nearly double over. It was too powerful to stop, and he couldn't disconnect form the Force now. "More...than.....one.." he grumbled, collapsing to the ground, and passed out.
Some time later, he woke up in the medical tent. His eyes slowly adjusted to the light, and he looked around him. Slowly he lifted himself up. No one noticed. All were focused on the man laying in the next cot over, or in their own thoughts. Beside him lay Shin'ichi. He dare not touch the Force, so he looked to his Aedile and friend Shikyo.
He got no answer from his friend, and nor would Sildrin or the other Keibatsu. He could only sit there in silence, pondering the fate of the Archpriest before him.
In middle of the Ewok party was Ruluk approaching the tent where Xayun was. He advanced to the tent and went directly to talk with Xayun.
“Eh, master?” asked Ruluk as Xayun turned to see him from behind. “You can call me Xayun, don’t worry. What is happening?” “It is Crow, he just dissapeared from my sight in middle of the battle on Milmefia. I’m asking permission from you to go search him on the nearby lands.”
With a deep breath just taken, Xayun answered, “Ok, you can go, but be careful not to get in any trouble like him. I want you back here quickly.” With that words Ruluk made a gesture of thank you and went away to the forest where he came from, running. Xayun saw him go until the trees didn’t let Xayun see him, then he turned back to the tent.
Some hours, like three or four in total, passed until Ruluk could be seen coming from the forest. Ruluk, with Dark Crow at his left side, was walking to the tent. Ruluk then told Xayun where Dark Crow was. He told that Crow wanted to investigate some things on the city, that he found nothing, and that he then decided to go to the Dark Hall to see if the rumor of the two Jac Cotelins fighting was true. He told also that Ruluk found Crow before he arrived to that Dark Hall and that he wanted him to return to the camp, and then they got there. With everything clear Ruluk went to talk and comment with Crow about the things that have just happened in a small battle that had decided the good fate of Naga Sadow in the war.
As dawn crept over the distant mountains, the skies appeared soaked in blood, whispering the tales of the Battle of Milmefia. The crimson skies were interrupted, far to the north of the city, gray overtook red. The force was present in all things, and the skies above the Dark Hall were no exception. For hundreds of miles around, all could see the whirling storm engulfing the capitol of Antei.
As the first breaths of morning light reached out and caressed the buildings of Milmefia, Master Trevarus awoke peacefully from his brief slumber. Not far away, Consul Sadow slept, his breath slow and steady.
On the southern wall, Godo and Lucius had met neither able nor desiring sleep. Together, they reflected upon the events of the last fortnight, and their personal experiences in the civil war.
One of the few sounds of the morning came from the tent Macron had occupied for the last day. Blood curdling screams could still be heard from within.
* * * *
“Wake Up Manesh!”
Master Trevarus tapped insistently tapped on Manesh’s cot with his lightsabre.
“Wake up Sadow! He’s nearing the Dark Hall.” At the mention of the Dark Hall, Manesh seemed to stir from his slumber, shooting up as if he had been shocked.
“Lets Go” Trevarus said, leading the way to the communications room.
* * * *
Throughout Milmefia, the fires let in the celebrations of the night before were now mere embers, the smoldering ruins of the city emitted their black smoke. The laughter and celebration of the night before had been replaced with silence. Soldiers lay about the city, cramming their bodies into whatever forms of shelter they could find. Tents of the officers were spread sporadically through the city. The only movement in the city was that of a few force wielders, unable to let go of the growing disturbance in the force. Throughout the night, the dueling Grand Masters had continued their fight. None knew when the battle would finally end.
* * * *
“What in the name of Naga Sadow is happening?” Manesh demanded as he entered the communications room.
“My Lord, he approached the Dark Hall, and immediately experienced trouble with his systems, it appears there is some form of interference.”
“It’s the force storms.” Trevarus stated, matter of factly. “I feared this would happen, they’re literally tearing the fabric of the force apart.”
Master Trevarus sat down on the floor, and closed his eyes. Concentrating intently, he searched the force to locate the Warrior.
* * * *
‘Derev…this is Trevarus …can you hear me?’
‘You’re controls will be useless, you must use the force as you’ve been trained …the interference from the Grand Masters could destroy your craft. You need to abort your mission; you’ll never be able to get above the Dark Hall’
‘Negative Trevarus, this is too important’
* * * *
Warrior Derev Niroth gave up fighting against his controls, instead immersing himself into the force, letting it guide his craft through the eddies and currents of the force storm. The Dark Hall was literally unrecognizable. The great statues that lay in guard of the sacred building were now mere ruins, none recognizable as whom they represented. The structure of the hall itself was in ruins, great sections of the ceiling having crumbled into small debris fields in and around the once great building.
It was as if a giant tornado encompassed the whole of the Dark Hall, debris flying in the wind, not away from, but simply around the Dark Hall. In rare moments of clarity, the telling tendrils of blue lightning were visible, the gruesome powers of the Grand Masters apparent. Suddenly, the hull of the fighter began to vibrate violently. Every emergency signal and warning light within the craft began to squeal and flash.
* * * *
“He’s not doing well” Trevarus stated matter of fact like, apparently showing no remorse.
“Is there nothing we can do?” Manesh asked
“Surely not, not even I could use the force effectively in that arena” Trevarus replied.
“Damn” Manesh yelled, angry at himself for suggesting the mission.
* * * *
All of the systems within the fighter failed. As the TIE Advanced began a fatal acceleration towards the rapidly approaching ground, a purple lightsabre blade appeared in the hull of the fighter. Moments later, part of the hull flew away, and was quickly followed by a robed figure, landing violently on the ground only seconds before the TIE crashed into the ground a few hundred feet away.
Seconds later, as if triggered by the crash of the fighter, a large section of the wall of the Dark Hall exploded outwards. Sections of masonry the size of a man flew away from the Dark Hall. A shockwave in the very fabric of Antei emanated from the Dark Hall. The Warrior flew away from where he was just standing, landing several meters away. Suddenly, as quickly as it happened, it ended. The explosion within the force was replaced with a void.
He rose disorientated, confused, missing the force from his mind. The confusion was replaced with realization. Jac Cotelin was dead. His mind raced, wondering which Jac had been victorious. The thought was quickly replaced with one far more disturbing. We’re both Grand Masters dead? His mind continued to draw blanks, unable to make any connection with the force. Without any purpose or intent, he began to move quickly towards the Dark Hall.
As the Warrior approached the Dark Hall, he suddenly felt revitalized, complete. The void seemingly closed, the Warrior was able to sense everything around him. Without needing to go any further, he sensed what he sought in the Dark Hall. Reaching into his robes, he pulled out a small communications device.
* * * *
The radio inside the communications room crackled as it came to life.
“rev …sadow base… do you copy?”
“We hear you, what the hell happened?” Manesh answered excitedly, clearly about to have a heart attack.
“I’m not sure” Derev started “But it’s safe to say, this wars over. I don’t know how to explain it, Jac is dead, but he isin’t. There was a great disturbance in the force”
“Yes, we felt it” Trevarus concurred
“One of the Grand Masters is dead, but he is not red or blue. I don’t know how to explain it, but the Grand Master still alive is the real Grand Master. Whatever happened, whatever caused the doppelganger, it’s over. Regardless, you should contact the other Consul’s Manesh, this war is over.”
“Find Lucius, and fetch him to retrieve his charge” Manesh ordered, as Trevarus stepped onto the balcony overlooking the city. Below, the full might of Naga Sadow had gathered, anxious to learn who had won the battle. Behind Trevarus stood Manesh and Tron, Consul and Overlord of Naga Sadow.
“Sons and Daughters of Sadow” Trevarus proclaimed “Disciples of Ragnos and Kressh, and all the loyal forces of Naga Sadow, this war has ended!” he announced. Below, thousands of voices erupted in cheers. Blaster fire cut through the air. In the center of the group, a mysterious group of Ewok’s began a triumphant salvo of drum beats. All those who heard the words of Master Trevarus felt overjoyed. Even those thought incapable of joy smiled, hugging the man or woman beside them.
“Through your loyalty and dedication” Trevarus continued “We have been able to unite as a Clan, and put down those who would oppress us! These are great days for Naga Sadow, for you have all achieved something we have never had before!” Trevarus paused, taking in the moment before his finale. “Long Live Naga Sadow!” he finally proclaimed.
Below, thousands of voices repeated the chant, and the true celebration began. None worried of the impending issues that would surely arise. None worried of the losses and rebuilding. At this moment in time, all that mattered to the assembled might of Naga Sadow was their victory, their success, and that the war was over.
[OOC: THIS IS THE END OF THE RUNON. DO NOT MAKE ANY FURTHER POSTS. ANY FURTHER POSTS WILL NOT BE INCLUDED IN THE FINAL SUBMISSION]
OOC: The runon is over. Manesh is now compiling and completing the final edit of the submission to be made for the GJW. DO NOT POST ANY MORE ON THIS TOPIC