Great Jedi War X: The Taste of Blood: Run-On
New Sadow Palace
Sepros, Orian System
“For thousands of years, the Jedi have committed genocide on our people...”
The words of the Dark Lord repeated across the galaxy, to the hands and spies of the Iron Throne at work on Nar Shaddaa, to the agents and assassins spread throughout the Galactic Alliance and the Imperial Remnant, and to the living swords and sabers sharpening their steel in the shadows of the lost homeland of the fallen Sith Empire.
On Sepros, the huge holographic image of Darth Ashen stood tall at the center of the War Room of Sadow Palace, looming over the men and women who had gathered, as the assembled crowd of Dark Jedi and heirs to the true Sith Empire listened to their Grand Master, their Sith Lord, and more: their brother.
“...on anyone who dares believe the way we do; blaming us for the nerve of those few who sought to even the score.”
While the seat upstairs in the throne room of Sadow Palace may have sat empty, waiting for the day when the next rightful Sith Emperor ruled the galaxy, right now that did not matter, for a Son of Sadow sat on the Iron Throne of Antei, ruler of the Dark Brotherhood, lord and commander of the three orders of the dark side.
Astronicus Sadow stood at the front of the crowd in silence, listening to the Dark Lord like everyone else. Where Lord Sadow may have seen himself the future empire’s steward, Lord Ashen was its sword—the blade that would cleave the path for the fulfilment of Naga Sadow’s dream. No other Son of Sadow had risen as high; no other Son of Sadow had served the Sith Empire better.
This was their day.
This was the day all the burden, distrust and loathing of the past would be forever cast aside.
“Let the blood of our enemies taste sweet on our lips!”
Snarls rose from the collective gathering of the Sons and Disciples of Clan Naga Sadow, the hisses and murmurings as heated amongst those elders who had served in Sadow’s name for decades as amongst the freshest faced acolytes and apprentices not long from dark academy halls of Lyspair.
“Filth...” whispered one of the crowd, as they all continued to listen to their Dark Lord. “Filth, all of them.”
Betrayal lingered fresh on each of their lips—betrayal by one of their own. Jonuss Rai, one of the oldest followers of the Sadow path, now stood at the front of the blind harpies and charlatans of the knights of Odan-Urr. None stepped away from the Sadow household without paying a heavy price. None drank from the font of Sadow power just to then cast the cup aside.
“Let our names be screamed so loudly that the gods sit up and take notice.”
And for his betrayal, Jonuss Rai’s head would pay more than the rest.
“For today, the Brotherhood goes to war!”
The listeners roared, those who were still seated jumping to their feet, and dozens of lightsabers snapping to life and casting the electrum-lined walls of the War Room in a blood red haze.
There was a heady scent of fury in the air; the rage of the Sons and Daughters of Sadow was almost palpable. Their battlecries fell into conversation, spoken and shouted, that filled the War Room with noise and confusion. As the noise spiralled upwards, becoming louder and more insistent as the Dark Jedi fed off each other's fury, a robed figure with a silken scarf wrapped across his eyes strode onto the small platform in front of the huge holoprojector, raising himself above the others in the room. He did not raise his voice, but projected it with the Force, cutting through the clamor.
"Brothers and sisters, hear me."
Slowly the tumult subsided as the warriors of the Clan turned their attention to their Consul. Methyas brought his arms up, his own usually-stoic persona slipping somewhat in the face of the fury of his Clanmates.
"By the orders of Darth Ashen... it is war. We are to rendezvous with the Dark Council fleet and make our way to New Tython, where we will strike down with great vengeance and furious anger upon the Lightsiders who have defied us."
The tumult rose again, shouts of support and cries for blood rising out of the crowd. Methyas raised his voice slightly, his delivery becoming more strident.
"Report to your Quaestors; they are co-ordinating our shuttles. Brothers and sisters, we march this day to glory!"
The roar of approval lasted even longer this time, lit sabers stabbing the air. Even as the echoes died away, the War Room filled with activity; younger Dark Jedi dashing to report to their Quaestors, elder warriors moving with more measured steps, feeling the fire of warfare course through their blood. From the back of the crowd, Manji Keibatsu Sadow lowered his own twin silver blades and thrust them back through his belt, his grin wide and predatory. He could already feel the ice that had encased his muscles from a long period of leave back on Kyataru cracking and breaking away; the drums of war thundered in his ears, an insistent beat that would be satisfied only by carnage. The Dragon had awoken and thirsted for blood.
Moving easily through the crowd and ignoring the Journeymen darting past him, Manji looked around for Jeric, one hand resting nonchalantly on the hilt of his saber. He'd be taking the ship he'd brought from Kuroshin up to the Sadowan fleet, but he'd been away for a long while- it'd be rude not to say hello. As he neared the Quaestor, standing on the base of one of the statues scattered around the War Room and scrolling through a list of personnel on his datapad, the Keibatsu allowed himself another reflective smirk.
Perhaps he'd find the Nautolan on New Tython?
New Sadow Palace
Sepros, Orian System
Manji turned suddenly at the familiar presence creeping up behind him. This time, the madman had gotten much closer then usual. “Nice try,” chuckled the Kyataran. “You’ve gotten better., Mononoke.” His single eye peered into the yellow eyes of the Alchemist. Something had changed, but it was hard to put a finger on it. The emptiness of space showed in the blazing eyeballs of his erstwhile student. That seemed to be a common theme with many experienced Sith.
“Thanks Master,” replied the armor-clad Warlord. “Welcome back. I do try. Unlike most Sith, I’m not particularly interested in killing my Masters. I already did that once, you see. Although I hear the Betrayer has been spotted recently.” Macron Sadow winced. “Heh heh.”
“Not that you’d be able to take me, Tin Can.” Manji smiled. “I heard that too,” commented Manji-sama. “And from a solid source. That can’t be good. Let’s hope his attention is on New Tython.” The Krath stoked his chin thoughtfully. “I’m intending to have some fun myself with those so-called Jedi.”
“I certainly hope to do so as well. You know, I just have a hard time fathoming why Jonuss would become a betrayer himself. It certainly can’t be good for your health.” Macron snickered as his flexed his armored gauntlets. “Maybe I’ll kill him myself.”
“Only if you beat me to it,” snickered the Kyataran. “A thousand creds says I get him first.”
“You’re on, One Eye,” giggled the mad alchemist. “I’ve got to find Tsainetomo. See you there?”
“Absolutely. Once more into the breach, dogs of war and all that. It’s what a warrior’s life is for.” Manji and Macron bowed to each other and parted ways, each heading for their respective House staging areas.
War Room, Sadow Palace
Sepros, Orian System
Jeric Cyrin stood at the base of a Lord Ragnos’s statue inside the war room. Journeymen scurried about the war room while the elders and senior equites of the clan just slowly moved with the shadows. Shifting though the shuttle assignments for his house Jeric could feel a strong but familiar presence working its way thru the crowds.
“Protector Nyine, reporting for duty Executive Director.” The young but promising Rosh Nyine announced as he reach the front of the line.
Jeric scrolled down to Rosh’s name. “You will be with two other members from the Raptors along with a D-SOG detachment. Shuttle 2-Delta”
Protector Nyine gave a quick bow and rushed off into the sea of dark jedi. The power Jeric was sensing grew strong. The Sith was able to process a few more Journeymen until he made eye contact with the dark dressed man approach the base of the statue.
“Quaestor Cyrin, I am hear to fight.”
“Glad you could join the party.” Jeric said with a slight bow to the one eyed dragon.
“I’ll be meeting up with the fleet in my own ship if that is ok with you.”
“By all means, I know you wouldn’t miss this fight.”
“For Sadow!” Manji smirked
“For Glory!” Jeric replied.
In a swift movement the Son of Sadow returned into the shadows. Jeric return to his datapad only six members left to process and shuffle them off to their assignments. It only took about 10 minutes for those last disciples of ragnos to find their Quaestor. Jeric tucked his datapad away and move into the crowd. "The threat these Jedi pose is a serious one. They have deceived us and now they will all pay." Jeric whispered as he made his way to his personal shuttle.
"I'm on board we can depart."
“Roger Director Cyrin, sit back and enjoy the ride.” The pilot said as he punch the ion engines upward. Jeric’s assignment was on the RSD Final Way with fellow Executive Director L’eonheart. He could only assume the President and Vice would be on the Harbinger. As the shuttle broke free from Sepros’s atmosphere Jeric’s comlink chirped.
“Executive Director Cyrin speaking.”
“Lord Cyrin. Its Niko, I wish to offer my assistants to you. I have a ship and a small crew. My debt to you is still unpaid to your family, please allow me to fight for you.”
“Any extra help we can get in destroying the Jedi would be appreciated Baron. Meet me at these coordinate.” Jeric said to his former aid on the Privy Council as he sent the coordinates for New Tython. “They have deceived us and now they will beg for mercy.” Jeric said to himself as the sight of the Final Way came into the viewport.
Tiberius walks into the Grand Hall, where there was an array of Dark
Jedi queuing, to see where they could help with the Great Jedi War,
the Dark Knight was jumping up and down looking over the heads, of the
others trying to see what was going on.
The Sith reached out with the Force, and could sense the buzz of the
moment, sensing that he was close to the front of the queue he forced
his way forward, and he had to shout to get himself heard above the
rest of the crowd.
As looked on he could see his Quaestor before him sitting on his throne,
Looking down on his people as Tiberius reached the Throne he bowed down low,
In respect of his leader, and said “Sir I am here to report for duty
and if need be die for my Clan and House, I am a loyal member of my
House I want to fight, and kill our enemies”.
The Quaestror looked down on Tiberius and said “Good we need men like
you to fight on our side, now go and fight for your Clan and House
with my blessings”.
With that Tiberius made his way out from his Leaders presents .
As Tiberius made his way through the crowd, being pushed and jostled
about as he walked through, the Knight could not help but feel proud
and yet sad, as he had fought before in the GJW, and he lost many of
his friends before, he really didn’t want to have to go through that
again, but as he said to himself, “War is War, he must do his duty”.
This is what Tiberius was waiting for to get revenge, on those who
killed and hurt his friends before, he wanted those enemies died and
hurt the angry and hateful side of Tiberius came out, and he was in no
mood for saying hello, to anyone thinking of the friends he had, and
their deaths brought back memories of them, there was an ever so
slight tear coming from one of the Dark Knights eye, he could not bear
the hate and anger inside of him any longer, the Sith let out a loud
“Arrr” Tiberius let this out in anger and hate, as he approached his
fellow Clan’s men, they asked if he was alright, The Knight replied
“Yer, just had some bad memories, came back to me I am o:k”.
New Sadow Palace
Sepros, Orian System
The orders for war echoed in the great halls, but they didn’t echo in the halls like they did in the Sergeant’s head. Roxas punched a button on his wrist communicator, opening a channel to his battle team.
“Regulators, meet at the Crossroads for a short briefing.” Roxas closed the channel before he could receive any replies.
The bar tender stepped outside the palace and got into an awaiting speeder and headed for the Crossroads.
15 minutes later
The Knight opened the back door to the bar and entered his apartment. He took off his coat and shook it once before tossing it onto the coat rack next to the door. He pulled off his shirt, revealing many scars from past battles. The Obelisk walked to the safe in the corner of the room and punched in the security code. The locks disengaged with an audible, clanging click and the door swung open. The man reached his hands inside and pulled out what he had been ordered to keep locked away. He set the heavy armor on the nearby work bench and slid out of the rest of his clothing except for undergarments. Roxas pulled the flight suit onto his body, then the vest, and last his boots. He grabbed his buy’ce and closed the safe. It’s locks moved and once again the heavy door was solid. The Mandalorian left the apartment and walked into the bar to see that the Regulators were already gathered and were waiting for him.
The Mandalorian set his buy’ce on the bar and started to tie The Regulator bandana around his bicep.
“It’s good to see that you all answered the call so quickly. As I am sure you know, we have been given the order for war. I know that most of you haven’t been here long and aren’t sure what to do. That’s fine, just follow my orders and you’ll survive.”
With that Roxas slid his buy’ce over his head. The helmet sealed to the suit with a metallic whine.
“The first thing we need to do is meet up with the invasion forces, so let’s go.”
The team followed their leader out the doors of the bar. They were worried as most of them had never seen war, but their leader was confident that Naga Sadow would come out on top.
Sepros, Orian System
As he strode through the corridors of Sadow Palace on his way to the hangar, weaving through the stream of Dark Jedi and servicemen all heading the same way, Manji felt a presence fall into step beside him. Glancing to his left, the Pontifex flashed a grin at his former apprentice, Dyrra Skye. She returned the grin with a smirk of her own and nodded back towards the War Room that they'd both just left.
"I saw you talking to Jeric- looked like he nearly kriffed himself when you wafted out of the shadows like a bad smell."
They took a corner, Manji reaching up to straighten the lapels of his kimono.
"What can I say, I like to make an impression," the Pontifex chuckled. Before them, the great doors to the hangar stood open, revealing a scene of organised chaos beyond as Dark Jedi, Journeymen, Equites and Elders alike, swarmed around the transports and ships that would take them up to the fleet. To one side stood the Kiba fighter that Manji had brought from Kyataru. "I take it you're coming with me? It's not quite the Fallen Spear, but it'll get us up to the Final Way in one piece."
Feigning a lack of interest, Dyrra grabbed hold of the ladder leading up to the co-pilot's seat and hauled herself up. "Only because it's a short flight, Master," she mocked, "'cos there's no way I'd let you fly me anywhere else!"
Manji followed her up the ladder and took his seat, beginning the routine control checks before take-off as several engineers removed the fuel cable from the craft and gave him a thumbs up.
"Hey, I got here fine from Kyataru, didn't I?" the Pontifex muttered, his pride at the achievement dented.
Dyrra deigned to respond and with a whine of engines igniting, the Kiba lifted smoothly off the hangar floor and turned to shoot out of the wide-open doors at the other end, joining the queue of starship traffic heading up into orbit.
Some time later...
RSD Final Way
In orbit over Sepros
Gazing out of the main viewscreen, hands clasped behind his back, Methyas radiated calm tranquility. His head did not turn as he addressed the Commanding Officer of the Final Way.
"Admiral Simonetti- how many of our forces are still boarding?"
The picture of cold, military precision, Araic Simonetti inclined his head formally and lifted a datapad to consult the information within.
"The Harbinger and the Orian Legacy are fully loaded, my lord. Some stragglers are still boarding the Final Way, but I expect that we will be ready to jump in just a few more clicks."
"Excellent. It would not do for us to be late to the battle," Methyas answered. "Especially considering how enthusiastic our warriors are to taste Jedi blood."
Aboard the CEC YT-2400 transport Nighthawk
Indeterminate location, somewhere in deep space
In his quarters, a small circular room that served the prophet well during his meditations – which meant most of the time these days, for the Falleen rarely did anything outside of meditate anymore – Xanos Zorrixor sat cross-legged on a gold electrum-lined mat in the center of the floor. The physical world, the former Sith Lord said, rarely commanded his interest, that the voices forever clawing at the back of his mind warranted his full focus. He was their warden now; the jailor who kept at bay the lingering nightmares that filled the former Deputy Grand Master’s thoughts most nights – and, for that matter, filled his thoughts most days, too.
Right now, though, beads of sweat were currently pooling across the Falleen’s face, causing the distinctive tattoo of an open eye that decorated his forehead to seem as if it was glowing under the bright red light from the single overhead lamp that constituted the only illumination in the room. While the ‘Mark’, as it was called, may have been nothing more than a symbol, a physical sign of his place as Trevarus Caerick’s foremost apprentice and of the Force bond they shared, as many Masters and apprentices often did, the inner eye nevertheless represented exactly what the fellow sorcerer was: a seer; a dark prophet.
Recently, however, the third eye had become a mockery.
For the past two years, Xanos and his Master had been unable to see what they had been spending every waking and non-waking moment searching for since Xanos had reawakened from his six-year-long slumber, back when he had been trapped within his own mind by the nightmares he now fought to contain. Their quarry, Jaspen Kraitus, was, in many ways, like them: an outcast; an exile. Seen by Skywalker and the Jedi Order as a devotee of the dark side, Kraitus had been trained in the Jedi arts by the only man he had known who had trusted and understood him for what he was: himself.
Unfortunately for the two dark sorcerers, Kraitus had become a master of hiding his presence.
There was nothing worse for a seer than for all their powers of clairvoyance and divination to be made useless. Xanos’s strength had always come from seeing ahead, from knowing where his opponent’s next attack would come, from being instinctively attuned to the flow of the Force. Intuition, some might call it. In a starfighter, you knew when to jink and dive; in a duel, which way to parry or roll. He was no natural swordsman like Muz Ashen or man of steel like Shin’ichi Keibatsu; but, then, one did not need be, when one could see one’s opponents’ attacks before they had themselves.
But what good was divine intuition when one had been rendered blind?
In the shadows, there was the peace and tranquillity to find one’s way; however, standing directly in front of a star, all sight became blind; his visions were being foggied; his inner eye dazzled by the light blazing in the presence of far too many suns. He desired the silence and blackness of the void, but he could not find it when there were too many candles flickering, hidden, somewhere in the beyond.
For the first time in many years, the pair had returned to the Orian system during the recent crisis on San Korinar to see Stacia, his Master’s contact in the criminal underworld. If anyone knew of a bounty hunter who could track down a missing Jedi, Trevarus had thought she would. Stacia, however, had known nothing. Only that Kraitus had moved on and that he was now outside the reach of her circle of scum and villainy.
Nevertheless, ‘There are no coincidences,’ Xanos’s Master had always taught him, ‘only connections one has so far been unable to see.’ The Oracle, as Trevarus had once been called and indeed still saw himself as, had never been one to give up. Will, as the man said, held the key to unlocking anything.
And neither Master nor apprentice had surrendered to defeat yet. They would find Kraitus.
It was just a matter of searching the folds of space and time for the right connection...
“LET OUR NAMES BE SCREAMED SO LOUDLY THAT THE GODS SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE.”
Out of the blue, the voice of the Grand Master of the Dark Brotherhood exploded inside the Falleen’s head.
“TODAY, THE BROTHERHOOD GOES TO WAR!”
Xanos hunched forward, both his hands flying to his temples as angry, hate-filled fangs of psychic thunder stabbed at his mind, his fingers frantically trying to massage or at the very least soften the cacophony of noise that had erupted, as around the galaxy hundreds of voices responded to Darth Ashen’s rallying cry, hatred and bloodlust bursting through the Force like a burning river of rage.
House Odan-Urr. The Jedi who were not Jedi. The home of outcasts and exiles of the light.
Trevarus’s reply came the exact same moment, the two sorcerer’s thoughts simultaneously colliding in an explosion of psychic energy that sent another eruption rippling through Xanos’s mind, causing him to wince and the tattoo on his forehead to look as if it had closed where his brow now wrinkled.
I know, his Master said. We go to New Tython.
It was time to hunt a Jedi.
RSD Final Way
In orbit over Sepros
Malik exited the shuttle and as he set foot on the deck of the Final Way again for the first time in what seemed like ages he noticed how some of the others in the hangar seemed to avoid him. He figured he couldn’t blame them, most of them knew he had spent a year on New Tython in House Odan Urr, but none of them knew why he had returned. Had he just been spying on the Jedi? Was he now a spy for the Jedi? The Neti Warlord didn’t really care. If anyone had any doubts as to where his loyalties were he would just have to prove on the battlegrounds that he remained loyal to Naga Sadow just as he had been for decades.
RSD Final Way
In orbit over Sepros
Malik sat in his quarters meditating on the coming war. Having himself survived the Jedi purge 54 years before he took a twisted pleasure in being able to take part in a new purge, this time being the one to do the actual killing.
After clearing his thoughts, he got up and picked up his lightsabres and headed for the nearest sparring room so he could practice his lightsaber forms. He had spent too little time honing his skills while he had been on New Tython.
New Sadow Palace,
Sepros, Orian System
The fervor of the Sadowans could be tasted within the Courtyard of the Palace grounds, the Force itself thick with emotion as each of the beings within the Clan sought out their Quaestors before leaving to prepare themselves for the invasion. It had been a while since anyone had been able to truly let themselves loose, to make the enemies of Sadow pay for their indiscretions. For many, the War between Orders had been a sore spot and the Independence Games had been for personal glory. Now, however, the Clan had a place to prove themselves. A target to eliminate and it had never been closer to home. These Jedi, the Light-siders who had infected their Brotherhood and stolen Sons of Sadow from them; they would feel the might of a Clan of the Brotherhood.
Standing nearly alone near the stage where he had just given a rousing speech, following Tsainetomo's own rallying call, the Consul of Naga Sadow appeared to be in a state of standing Meditation. His periods of extended meditation were nothing new, the man had done that since before he was Knighted; even his Guardsman seemed unfazed by the action. But inside, Methyas could feel his own turmoil; the feeling of filth having covered his entity as he gave his speech. A shiver crawled up his spine as he recalled it, telling his Brothers and Sisters to openly attack the only place that he at one point could have considered home outside of Orian. The entire ordeal stank something fierce, the Grand Master suddenly allowing an open genocide of these Light-siders after accepting them willingly and protecting them for all these months.
Another shiver passed through the young Consul, his mind darting away from his time with Michael Halcyon. The truth behind those months would remain buried and while his family were the only ones who knew of his capture by the Jedi Master, none knew of just what had transpired behind those enemy lines. His summit was loyal, defending him and accepting his orders without a second guess; but he had needed the voice of a Son to help fuel the Clan's hunger into this invasion...this "War". Tsainetomo had come without needing persuasion, the former Consul had placed much faith in Methyas when he had left on his self-imposed exile. How well placed was that faith though?
The shuffling of armour woke Methyas from his thoughts; his Guardsman was growing anxious and ready to feed his battle lust. A smile crossed the Miraluka's face as he started moving, feeling the younger Obelisk on his flank as he did so, "I want you to cast off your armour for this conflict, Guardsman."
The young man froze for a second, his training causing him to instinctively reject the Consul's statement, "I...I'm sorry, my lord. I cannot do that."
"And I am ordering you as your Consul, to join your brethren and fight for personal glory upon the battlefield. The Clan will need every asset against these crafty Jedi."
"I...but what about your protection, my lord?"
Methyas spun quickly to look upon his Guardsman, the Order of the Black Guard had obviously grown much more persistent in their duties since he had dispelled his last Guard and been captured, "I have an army of Disciples with which to protect me. As much as I'd love to lead by example; I'm sure the Sons and Daughters, not to mention my family, will be sure to keep me defended and out of sight."
The Guardsman seemed to stand there, perplexed for a moment, before Methyas spoke again, the Force a silent whisper behind his words, "Go on, I'm certain your Master would appreciate your aid."
The extra push seemed to be all that was needed to convince the young Zabrak to leave; Creon had been growing more powerful with Jeric's aid, but he still had much to learn about the ways of the Force. Though, he was talented in his own right.
Methyas turned towards a waiting shuttle as his Guardsman started away, looking for his Master and trying to think of what he'd need to bring for the invasion. Moving towards the shuttle, his solitude gave him some room to breathe, his barriers still up high as his Brother or his family able to touch upon his mind were they to focus; a quantum of solace for the Consul that he possessed the greatest skill in the Family with the Force. As the ramp began to close behind him and the pilot began plotting the course for the Final Way, Methyas couldn't help but mutter to himself, "What are you planning, Master?"
RSD Final Way
Some time later
"The Harbinger and the Orian Legacy are fully loaded, my lord. Some stragglers are still boarding the Final Way, but I expect that we will be ready to jump in just a few more clicks."
"Excellent. It would not do for us to be late to the battle," Methyas answered. "Especially considering how enthusiastic our warriors are to taste Jedi blood."
Even as he spoke the words, he could feel that distaste fill him again before he focused once more upon the stars before him, the serene and tranquil state flooding upon him once more. Remaining focused and calm was far more beneficial for the Consul than getting consumed by the thoughts that were against his better nature, "Simonetti, inform all vessels that we are to jump to the staging area outside the Stygian Caldera, on the system's edge of the Thurra system."
Simonetti simply nodded as he relayed the orders to his subordinates, who then relayed the orders to their associates aboard their supporting vessels. Still within his tranquil state, Methyas continued, "Perhaps the Grand Master had a plan when he permitted the Jedi a world in the Esstran sector, within the reach of our Disciples." The Prelate paused, if only for a second before he continued, "Please make sure that the Board of Directors is summoned to the Bridge upon their arrival; we'll want to jump into our strategizing as soon as we can."
RSD Final Way
Mirado stood in the forward observation of the warship, his arms crossed over his chest and with his perpetual scowl on his face. His lightsaber… Fremoc’s old lightsaber, was clipped to the belt that was part of his assassin’s rig. This was no time for the suits and affectations of the Dakhani boardroom, this was war, and war was something Mirado’s time in the great Clan of Naga Sadow was steeped in.
He was known as Venator then, still carrying the moniker given to him by his old owner, a man he himself had ended with a swift boot to the skull. The Ombi had invaded their holdings, coming out of hiding and indeed, even back from the dead with their Vongspawned forces. Such was the life of the sword which the Dark Jedi lived on a daily basis.
The door hissed open and his colleague Jeric strode in, the arrogance of a Sith in his step. “Fine day for a slaughter,” he quipped to the Miraluka who still stood in his usual stern humor. “They won’t know what hit them.”
Mirado turned to face Jeric, a habit built out of what little courtesy he cared to exercise with even his own family, let alone someone he was fully prepared to kill at a moment’s notice. “They already know what’s going to hit them, Jeric,” he retorted in his calm, measured baritone. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
“Doom and gloom isn’t the attitude these men want to see, Director L’eonheart.” Jeric said in a tone both mocking and scolding. “They want to know that blood will be spilled this day.”
“And it will be,” Mirado replied. He didn’t let the taunting words of a Sith get under his skin, it would’ve been worse than the bleak study he was already in. “in spades. Their defenses are negligible, but if they weren’t planning for this, I’d hazard not to call them Jedi at all.”
Jeric nodded at this. He’d been expecting to be surprised as well, there was too much easy in this operation. He just wasn’t the type to concern himself with it until it became necessary to concern himself with it. “We’re close enough to call the rest of the fleet in at a moment’s notice.”
“We are, and if that time comes, we can hold, it’s just…” Mirado let his words hang. He wasn’t going to tell his opposite that he was more worried that Odan-Urr’s secret weapon was his own brother, and the man nominally in charge of this whole shindig. There was a lot Methyas was still hiding, and had no problem in doing so against his Force weak younger brother. Halcyon had kept him a long time, and one of the great truths in the Galaxy is, EVERYONE breaks.
The largest concern was, how broken was their Consul? Was he leading them into a trap? He wanted to tell himself that it didn’t matter, that he’d burn that bridge when he came to it, but it did matter. He had a HOUSE full of people to concern himself with. As one of the few Quaestors in the Brotherhood serving a proper Clan, he was responsible for these people, several more powerful than himself, but even the lowest ranked among them might yet one day assume the throne of Emperor (Or Empress, Mirado was equal opportunity Dark Side).
Mirado banished these thoughts from his mind and turned back to face the viewport. He was blind to the pinpricks of light that made up the heavens over his home system, but saw the radiant energy they provided all the same. Each light was a burning fire, magnificent energy barely restrained, much like his people, a thought which eased him slightly out of his bleak study.
There was a hum of energy which Mirado saw as much as he felt, which prompted him to speak again. “We’re about to jump.” He said plainly to Jeric, even as they were rocketed into hyperspace.
Kano Tor Pepoi
Sepros, Orian System
Kano had been home for only a few hours and already hushed whispers filled the hall of his death at the hands of his brother as well as stories of the Clan's last Rollmaster turning traitor and making a run for it out of the system. These whispered messages were nothing compared to what was being said out loud by every person that the Mandalorian passed by. The Clan was going to war. The Brotherhood was going to war. The Jedi were in line to greet the brilliant glow of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood's lightsabers.
The Templar made his way down a hall of the beautiful Sadow Palace, every few minutes he saw a face from before his time of capture but mostly new members that looked as if they were fresh from the Shadow Academy. Somewhere within the sea of strange faces a voice emerged that nobody could ever forget.
“I see that a corpse joins us for battle.”
The strange giggle that came from the crowd ended all doubts of who had made the statement. Kano pushed two unknown people aside and there he saw the wild hair, evil grin, and red armor of the madman himself.
“Well you know how it goes Macron, war is war without a real Mandalorian.”
The madman let out another strange laugh as the two continued their path towards the Final Way.
“I can tell you one thing Macron.”
“And what is that, Mandalorian?”
“I am ready to pull a Jedi’s spine out and place it in my trophy room.”
The giggle that left the madman’s mouth was a sound that would traumatize any small child.
“You will get your chance Kano. That is if I don’t destroy them first.”
RSD Final Way
The Nachzerer docked, landing struts barely touching the deck. The battered transport looked like Hell. A landing ramp extended from the rear of the blaster-seared beetle shaped craft. Three figures stalked from it. One was a red armored madman with a snickering grin. The second was a wild-looking woman with a fierce expression and sharp teeth. The third was a surprise. The third- was a walking corpse. Of sorts- A walking corpse with the armor and weapons of a dying race.
The klaxon wailed as the three strode towards the turbolifts.
“I see we arrived just in time,” frowned Macron. “They would leave without us. How annoying.”
“Not surprising,” replied Jade Sadow dryly. “We do have a bit of a bad reputation. Especially you, Master.” They continued to walk towards the turbolift, ignoring the klaxon sounds and the scurrying troopers.
“Your own reputation is quite deservedly evil as well, my Apprentice,” chortled the alchemist. “And we have a Mandalorian with us, returned from the Beyond,” chuckled the mad Sith. “It is a good omen. In the old days, they gave the Republic the what-for more than once. What say you, Kano?”
“I’m ready,” said the Mandalorian warrior coolly. “More than ready. I’ve been away too long. I miss the joy of honest battle.”
“You may get that spine yet,” whispered Jade. “I wonder what species it will be? Any preference?”
“A nice one,” smiled Kano tightly as they entered the turbolift. “From a Jedi.”
“A fitting trophy,” nodded Macron approvingly. “Not easy to get. I had no idea you were a collector of such things.” He eyed Kano with new respect. “I wish Tsainetomo was here.”
“Oh , I imagine he will be,” commented Jade. “The Korun cannot stand to miss a chance to test his warrior’s blood such as this.”
RSD Final Way
The door hissed open as the ship rocketed into hyperspace. Macron Sadow, Jade Sadow, and Kano stepped forth from the portal. Macron smiled evilly as he regarded the collected people before him. “Master Manji, Consul Methyas…. Jeric, Admiral Simonetti, and Quaestor,” he giggled. “I hear I have nothing more to teach you, Mirado. I hope for all our sake that is not true. This War is something different than you have seen, perhaps.” The menace and challenge was as clear as crystal in the now-hushed air of the jumping capital class ship. “I have seen many. Many comrades killed... And this day, I intend to kill many of our enemies. Again, as ever, for more than a decade in service to this mighty Clan.”
RSD Final Way
En Route to the Thuura System
The Sergeant entered the bridge and stopped at Mirado’s side “The Regulators are accounted for and ready for war.”
Mirado gave a nod to reply before saying “The summit will be working out the plan of attack in a few moments, if you care to stick around.”
The Knight removed his buy’ce and set it on a nearby panel “Sure, I wouldn’t mind helping if you need me.”
Roxas turned as the door opened, he saw Macron, Jade, and familiar black suit of armor enter the command center. He knew that it couldn’t be Kano because he was dead. Roxas was at the funeral and even suffered through the proceedings afterward at the Pepoi compound. He clinched his fist in anger and the knuckles popped. He focused his mind on the alchemist to communicate through the Force.
“Who is that?” Roxas asked trying to stay polite toward the alchemist.
Macron’s response was a giggle followed by “Kano has returned from the dead.”
The Mandalorian was in disbelief. How could he come back from the dead? Fremoc sliced him into bits. The Knight tried to ease his anger, but it wasn’t working. All the Dark Jedi of the ship could feel the Sergeant’s anger. Mirado placed his hand on Roxas’s shoulder in an attempt to ease his anger as he whispered “Calm down. Save it for the Jedi.”
Mirado was one of the few that Roxas trusted, especially since Roxas owed him his life. He took Mirado’s words to heart and started taking deep breaths. He knew Mirado was right and that he should save his energy for the Jedi. The people gathered on the bridge were all staring at the man they believed to be dead. They were all waiting to see if it was a ploy or if it was true and he had risen from the dead.
Roxas roared in his native tongue at the man “Meg gar? Kano taab'echaaj'la! Ni sha haar funeral!” (Mando’a translator : Who are you? Kano is dead! I was at the funeral!)
RSD Final Way
Jade thought about Macrons last words. ‘Again, as ever, for more than a decade in service to this mighty Clan.’ It hadn’t occurred to her the amount of blood she had spilled in the name of Naga Sadow before. Like her master standing beside her and other members on the bridge, she had been there many many years. The strokes of humming saber, the delightful swift movements of daggers and swords cutting into and away flesh from traitors and enemies bones, the screams and pleas for mercy all falling into the darkened abyss around her. Perhaps the years adding up were what was changing her. Her taste for evil deeds becoming stronger by the day. No doubt instilled in her by her very own master, and dear friend, Macron. But would she change it? Would she stop the change she was facing now?...Not for all the dark side power in the galaxy.
Though as she changed she realized she was remembering more and more of her so called training with Macron, the odd nights of “helping” him with his experiments coming back as though once blocked out by traumatic experiences in the mind, replaying images she never remembered happening certain ways before. Though her mind still held many secrets, ones she may soon be daring enough to ask the madman to clarify on, she was almost positive he was the one responsible for her...as Tsainetomo had once said to her in battle before, “Little dental problem.” Like Macron, she hoped Tsainetomo would make it for the fight, he was truly like a brother to her and she knew he wouldn’t be able to resist defending the Clan or even just taking blood.
Her attention turned towards the surge of anger in the room. She couldn’t resist the slight evil smirk on her face as Roxas confronted the Mando in Mando’a. She turned her attention towards Macron, using her “inner voice” she reached out to him. “Looks like that evil reputation is following you yet again Master.” She laughed. She was tempted to speak to Roxas within the same tongue, learning it from a, lack of better term, friend years ago, and bid him the same words as Mirado. All of their energies, at least for the time being, were better spent on the task waiting them. But she decided against it for now. The two would have to work something out if they would fight side by side anyway, she just wondered how Kano and Roxas would come about doing so.
Macron responded to her in kind, his inner voice darkened but carried with it the same evil grin that she had given to him. “I just can’t seem to help myself.”
Aboard the CEC YT-2400 transport Nighthawk
The stretched white lines of hyperspace contracted back into distant pinpricks of starlight as the transport pulled back from light speed and reverted to realspace. A chime sounded from above the pilot’s chair where Christine Zara was seated and text scrolled across the main bulletin console, reporting that the Nighthawk had arrived at the Brotherhood fleet’s rendezvous point, on the edge of the Thurra system, where the Navy of the Iron Throne was presently holding. Chris glanced back over her shoulder at the two Dark Jedi Masters.
“Want me to hail them?”
Trevarus remained silent, his eyes looking slightly glassy as he stared out the front viewport. Chris sighed and turned back to the controls; she’d known Trev long enough to recognise when he was speaking to someone in his head. Looking at the naviconsole as she waited, there were already dozens of cruisers and starships assembled at the rallying point. From outdated Strike-class cruisers to the Dark Council’s top of the line Cotelin-class flagship, it almost looked like overkill to invade a single planet – but Christine knew better. The Jedi didn’t need numbers.
There was something else happening here, the woman was sure of it.
Looking at Trev’s reflection in the cockpit’s viewport, he still seemed caught in conversation. Xanos was paying her no notice either, but that wasn’t any surprise; like most members of his species, the Falleen always had been rather detached, but then, that was the problem with aliens that used pheromones to communicate rather than body language like any normal species. Xanos might have been drumming his fingers and just as impatient as she was at Trev’s delay, but she wouldn’t know.
Finally, Trevarus blinked and lowered his head to look at her.
“There’ll be no need to hail,” Trevarus said, “I have it on the highest authority we’ve been given the all clear. Feel free to move us closer.”
The woman nodded. “Copy. I’ll bring us in under Cotelin.”
She caught the man’s raised eyebrow in his reflection. “Make that above the Cotelin, Chris.”
Chris rolled her eyes. “You’re the boss,” she sighed, shaking her head at the childishness of his objection.
As the woman pushed the thrusters back to maximum, steering the ship towards the starless black cloud of the Stygian Caldera which filled the view to the galactic east, the Nighthawk’s sensor console started beeping, as new specks of grey and white appeared in the distance, emerging from within the forgotten Sith Worlds of old – the first of the Brotherhood’s clans had arrived.
During the hyperspace jump,
RSD Final Way
Locke stood alone near a view port on some private hall along the outer walls of the ship. He watched the surreal vortex of hyperspace pass by, deep in thought. Rather than the suit he usually wore, Locke was clad in the simple green flight suit he had worn before. None of his fellow Dark Jedi had approached him, and he assumed this was because he blended into the background. They might have mistaken him for a pilot. Then again, he didn't have many allies among them.
Allies were something he would need very soon, if he were to secure his position. House Shar Dakhan followed him in lieu of Mirado's presence, but aside from that, he had very few friends. Perhaps this conflict would be his chance to make more, or at least prove he wasn't just another dying flame. Regardless of what it proved, he wasn't very surprised to find himself eager at the prospect of combat. Though he had not practiced his skills in quite a long time due to his duties as Aedile, he was looking forward to showing the Jedi why their ways were weak and outdated. He would show them how they should have used their power. Maybe some would even see the light – so to speak – and embrace the dark side as he had. It would be nice to return with more allies than he left with; though Locke wondered what the Dark Council would think of that: a traitor was a traitor. Locke sighed; he was inclined to agree.
Then he wondered, why was the 'Brotherhood taking every House and Clan to fight this threat? These Jedi must have been powerful, but Locke did not think they were that powerful. What else did the Dark Council foresee? He felt there must be something else to it. He didn't like surprises; preferring to know the possible outcomes of any situation. A vague feeling of unease washed over Locke; something would happen. He just didn't know what.
Turning from the view port; Locke walked back into the ship, thinking perhaps he could confide in one of his fellow Sadowans and see if they felt the same way. At the very least, he could get some caf and some last minute exercises in before they arrived at New Tython.
Republic-class Star Destroyer Final Way
Brotherhood Rendezvous Point
Blue holograms of the Grand Master and the Fist hovered above table-shaped holo-projector in the center of the briefing room. The Final Way had arrived at the rendezvous point at Thurra, which was one micro-jump out from the Yhi system. Astronicus inclined his head, his deferential gesture being echoed around the table by Methyas, Jeric and the other commanders of the Sadow Task Force who had all assembled to hear the details of their role in the upcoming invasion of New Tython.
“Assets from Tarentum have already begun establishing space superiority,” the Fist was currently explaining. “The Jedi fighter pilots are proving resilient, but their numbers are limited. Your drop ships and transports should find it easy to proceed along their assigned invasion headings.” Although Fremoc’s voice remained even, to those who knew him it was obvious from the occasional shifts in his tone that he was as eager as they were – probably more – to see the Jedi suffer. While the head of the Pepoi household did his best to hide it, they all knew he had never fully recovered from the death of his son Thomas. “But I suggest keeping your fighter wings on standby because there may still be some stragglers you will need to avoid during your insertion,” the Fist added. “Michael Halcyon has proven himself to be duplicitous in the past. Take nothing for granted.”
Jeric and Roxas were nodding as the Fist spoke. “Understood,” the Mandalorian said. “My Regulators are ready and waiting to taste the blood of these Jedi traitors.”
That brought a disquieting giggle from the rear of the group. “I concur,” came the artificial baritone voice from Macron’s suit, projected out of the speakers that were built into the base of his armour’s helmet. “Rai will pay the price of all who renounce the Sadow path.”
The holograms flickered for a moment, the interference from the nearby Stygian Caldera clearly interrupting the transmission slightly. The image of Lord Ashen turned its head toward the madman. “That reminds me...” reflected the Grand Master, his voice sending a shiver through some of the younger Sadowites standing around the holo-table. “Once on the ground, you will be joined by Ashia and assets from Clan Taldryan, who will clear out the anti-air defences to enable your troops’ deployment.” Another series of nods followed the Dark Lord’s instructions, Teu noting the battle plan down on her datapad. “You will also be joined by Master Caerick, who arrived shortly before you.”
The images of Darth Ashen and Fremoc shifted to one side and were joined by the blue-white shape of the tattooed sorcerer. And his apprentice. A sharp hiss shot up from the back of the room.
“Betrayer,” snarled Macron, his hand instinctively shooting to his waist for his lightsaber.
At the front of the group, Astronicus held up a hand to silence the Sith Warlord, then looked back at the hologram of the Grand Master. “My lord, I do not mean to question your judgement, but—”
“Master Caerick has my full confidence,” interrupted Lord Ashen, cutting the Sadow Overlord off. Before anyone else could object, he added: “As does his apprentice.” The Grand Master looked around the crowd, his eyes mainly settling on those Sons of Sadow whose history with the pair he knew had at times been heated. “No harm is to come to either of them. Is that clear?”
For the next few moments, nobody spoke, the room falling silent; then, begrudgingly, Astronicus finally forced himself to nod. “Understood, my lord. We will meet up with Ashia’s forces and... Trevarus on New Tython,” the Overlord said, somewhat stiffly. “I assume our main target is the leadership of Odan-Urr?”
It was Fremoc who answered. “No,” the Fist shook his head. “Jonuss Rai may be a priority target however your initial focus will be on the native population. We know from our own agents that the Harakoans live in peace with the Jedi and will fight by their side if their home is threatened.” Fremoc allowed the words sink in before continuing. “You must show them the superiority of the Brotherhood and break them. You will be issued with further orders after the threat of any possible native uprising has been well and truly crushed.”
“Understood, cousin,” Methyas replied quickly, not wanting to give Macron or any of the others time to turn the conversation back to a discussion about Clan loyalties. The eyeless Miraluka smirked. “Just another Ekind crisis,” he said, referring to the uprising by Tarthos’s natives two years earlier, “we know how to deal with those.”
“Which is why the Dark Council has assigned this task to Clan Naga Sadow,” said the Fist dryly, no longer sounding quite as fraternal to his family members as he had a few years ago.
“You all know your roles,” said the Grand Master; it was not a question. “See to it that these Jedi learn the consequence of siding with a traitor to the Dark Brotherhood.”
And with that the two holograms abruptly vanished.
Republic-class Star Destroyer Final Way
Brotherhood Rendezvous Point
“Unbelievable,” snarled Macron as he and Jade entered the bridge. The Final Way was beginning the short jump to the New Tython system. “Not only does Xanos live, now we have to actually work with him.”
“Not much you can do really,” replied the Krath. “I mean, you can’t kill him. Again.”
“True,” giggled the Warlord. “I did get that satisfaction once. As a Sith, it was very liberating.”
“I can only imagine,” smiled Jade with a toothy grin. She eyed the alchemist very pointedly.
“Don’t get any ideas,” snarled Macron in reply. “Not yet.”
<Jump Commencing> blared over the ship’s comm. system. <All hands to stations.>
The comlink opened with an outside signal. “This is Commander Sonjie. All fighters are ready for jump. The combat zone is hot.”
Macron looked around the helm as the assembled Dark Jedi began scrambling to their places. Many wore pilot suits. Piloting was not one of Macron’s fortes. He grumbled as the two headed for a turbolift. “Pacify the natives. How ignoble. I’ll pacify them, alright. With Death. That’s pretty damn well pacified.”
Jade merely snickered in response. She quickly checked her gear as the sound of the turbolift returning spun up.
“True, you do have a point.” Methyas stood by the turbolift as it arrived. Astronicus strode toward the three of them in battle gear.
“My Lord, Consul,” commented Macron. “Will you be joining us?”
“I will,” said the Overlord calmly. “You and your Apprentice are going to assist the Consul and I personally. Especially given that the Betrayer will be down there somewhere. Jade, we will need your expertise as a Krath in psy-ops to influence and subvert the locals. Macron- well… your expertise lies in other areas. Once we have an estimate of what we are up against, I want you to devise a method for breaking their wills by inflicting maximum casualties. We will also be utilizing both your personal combat abilities in our vanguard.”
“My pleasure,” chuckled Macron as he flexed his Armor Fist. “It’s something I relish.”
Republic-class Star Destroyer Final Way
Brotherhood Rendezvous Point
Jeric exited the briefing room with the look of a man hungry for blood, but in the back of his mind was the thought of confusion. The Overlord of Marka Ragnos, the house he now commanded would be on the battlefield. Yet it seems there are a few who are either threatened or worried about him joining them on New Tython. Sith are greedy, they like to take all the glory, they want to spill as much blood as they can, but in a time of war against a threat like the Jedi, and that traitor, we need to forgot about individual glory or pride and work as brothers. It brought a smirk to Jeric’s face knowing someone as powerful as Master Caerick would be on the battlefield, fighting along with the Disciples of Ragnos.
Jeric’s aide came running up to the Sith Battlemaster right before he entered the Bridge. “Executive Director, your armor is in your quarters.”
“Thank you.” Jeric said as he waved his aide off.
The door to the bridge hissed open and the sea of crew members wrapped around the Sith as he made his way to the head. “Fine day for a slaughter,” the self proclaimed Sith Pirate said as he stopped next to his colleague. The two carried on a conversation, one that sounded like two enemy's speaking as friends.
“We are, and if that time comes, we can hold, it’s just…” Mirado stopped himself. Jeric eyed his colleague with a confused stare. Jeric didn’t bother to ask the Knight to finish his sentence, he just continued to look of into the darkness. Jeric could hear the commands to jump into hyperspace come from Commander Sonjie. The stars around the Final Way began to stretch and warp. “We’re about to jump.” Mirado said almost stating the obvious to the Sith. Jeric just gave a simple nod to acknowledge his colleague. A few minutes passed as the two Executive Directors watch the warping starts wiz pass. Nither said a word until Jeric turned to leave.
“If you’ll excuse me, I have a few matters to attend, see you on the battlefield.”
“Unfortunately so.” Mirado said. Unfortunate meaning him having to be on the battlefield or unfortunate that they would have to work together? Either way, Jeric paid it no mind. What needs to be done will be done at any coast and that is the massacre of the jedi scum and the destruction of their planet.
Republic-class Star Destroyer Final Way
Brotherhood Rendezvous Point
Tiberius sat himself down on board the Transport, awaiting to get down on the Planet to kick the Light side, off it as he did so the Transport began to run its engines and began the start up checks.
The engine sound became louder and louder, then all of a sudden the Transporter began to move slowly across to the hanger bay doors which were open, and ready for the Transporter to move out from, the transporter gave a jolt as it began its journey towards the outside world.
As the transporter headed towards the doors the Pilot looked behind him and said “O:k Folks we are going to have a bumpy ride but we get you there in time and safe and sound so hang on and here we go”.
The Dark Jedi Knight could feel the Transporter’s engines push the Transporter across the Hanger and then, a loud boom and we were off the transporter easy lifted off the ground and began its upward journey into the night skies, as the other Dark Jedi looked out of the window of the Transporter, they could all see that there were flashes, off red and blue light around the ground where they were going to land.
Even though they were far off still before they could reach the landing spot in New Tython, the leader of the group looked out from the windows of the transporter, and said “listen Folks it going to be hell down there, we need to be on our toes, and remember we must look out for each other, and be aware we need to win this thing, we need to beat the Crap out of the Lighties, we can, not afford mistakes people, remember we are Markas Ragnos, Naga Sadow, be aware be alert”.
We all looked at our Leader and shouted “For Naga Sadow”.
DP20 frigate Flamewind
New Tython, Yhi system
Two clicks out from Menat Ombo
The Corellian gunship was aptly named, its octuplet of heavy turbolaser cannons raining red blades of fire and fury down into the forest beyond the capital city of Menat Ombo. Flames roared from a nearby surface-to-space ion battery that had been hidden under a dense layer of foliage when a passing team of Scimitars dropped their ordinance on the anti-air emplacement, the weapons silo exploding and sending twisted girders and mangled orange balls of superheated debris spraying out into the trees, which then joined the ion cannon in flames.
The native Harakoans, who had amassed beneath the Flamewind, futilely fired at the gunship with the small arms that the Jedi had been able to provide the tribal warriors; however, the ship’s blue shields simply shimmered and dissipated the blaster attacks harmlessly. A few of the natives had even turned to climbing the highest trees and hurling rocks and stones – only to have the ship’s point defence cannons launch the tree-mounted Harakoans into the distance.
The wife of the Grand Master shook her head and smirked at the man standing alongside her on the bridge. “Why do they even bother?” Ashia said to Trevarus, who had joined the Taldryan ships back at the Brotherhood’s initial rendezvous point in the Thurra system. “They know they can’t win.”
The sorcerer shrugged his shoulders. “Those without hope often have the strongest convictions.”
The former Nightsister raised an eyebrow, the act looking slightly comical because of the war paint she currently had on. Noticing the man’s amused expression, Ashia scowled and said: “You’re one to talk, Trev. That tattoo on your face makes you look like a cartoon character.”
Trevarus didn’t rise to the bait, but simply turned back to the viewport. Alongside him, his Falleen apprentice didn’t appear to have heard the conversation at all, Xanos’s eyes looking vacant as his mind doubtlessly wandered somewhere in the valleys beyond, his senses searching for the pair’s target. Jaspen Kraitus was out there somewhere; they both knew it.
And the Jedi Knight would die by their hand and their hand alone. Trevarus had foreseen it.
Another explosion rang up from the forest as the gunship rained ever more firepower down, burning away the woodland to form a reasonably large clearing in which to set down and unload. Despite not being a dedicated carrier, the Flamewind didn’t need to be: it wasn’t going to take an army to break the spines of a few native chieftains. The floor of the bridge rumbled a little as the gunship’s repulsors echoed through its superstructure and the ship set down on the freshly scorched earth.
Off to the three Dark Jedi’s left, the captain swivelled in his chair to look at them.
“The group from Phoenix are ready and waiting in the landing bay, ma’am.”
Ashia nodded at the Devaronian captain. “Understood. Tell them we’ll be down momentarily.” The Taldryan Aedile swung back to the two Dark Jedi Masters, an eager grin on her face. “Let’s go scalp some locals.” Before leaving, she glanced back over her shoulder. “And captain, inform me as soon as the task force from Naga Sadow begin their landing. Make sure they know the correct L Z.”
Entering New Tython Atmo
New Tython System
“Kark’s sake,” snarled Macron as the dropship vibrated like an insane cat in heat. “This sumofabitch is gonna come apart. God help Teu if we get sh@tcanned.” His voice sounded strange coming from the vocoders in his Sith armor. "She's the last option."
“Not likely, my Son,” replied Astronicus Sadow calmly. Not much rippled his countenance and serenity. “And if it is, she will serve our Clan well. She has Spirit and Will. We are dropping hard and hot, as you well know. Our fighters and bombers have already cleared the Landing Zone. Teu is in charge if we are- dispersed.” Around him was gathered some of the best of Naga Sadow. Many of the Sons and Daughters were gathered in one place for once. "Or we are killed. I chose her personally."
Generally they were dispersed far between the stars at The Overlord’s will, but now they had drawn together like moths to a flame. Teu was tantamount to the entire structure as Rollmaster and was deemed too valued to risk in this drop. If they all died, it would be Her who was left with the charge of the Clan’s Forces. This was a vital, and terribly important position. Rollmaster, contrary to popular belief, was the person who held the Clan together. If everyone on the ground died Teu would be Naga Sadow’s only hope.
Macron Sadow, Jade Sadow, Manji Keibatsu Sadow, Tsainetomo Keibatsu Sadow, Robert Sadow, Malisane Sadow, Shin’Ichi Keibatsu, Raistlin Sadow, Jeric Cyrin, Methyas Pepoi L’eonheart, Mirado Pepoi L’eonheart, and Sanjuro Keibatsu had been shoehorned into this transport. It was a miasma of compressed wills. People who had literally not seen each other in years now eyed each other across the mere few meters of a dropship. The tension could be cut with a dull butterknife. It stank of body odor, sweat, and the lust for blood. The only absent stench was that of fear.
“Dying time,” chuckled Macron as Astronicus looked at tactical readouts. The Alchemist closed his eyes and muttered to himself as he sought clarity within the Mark and the Dark Side. “By whatever Gods your serve, or not, we are going to give them a taste of the Dark Side. Every one of us is here to serve, and we have done so well many times before. This day, we will do so again and by God give them Hell. We will be the Unholy Fist of the Dark Gods. I have a feeling… the Mark tells me there will be more foes than the Jedi.”
“What do you mean?” asked Manji, ever succinct and to the point. “Spit it out clearly, my Apprentice. Time is wasting, and warriors do not waste it. We have no time for your Sith paradigms.” The hallowed warrior adjusted his warkit and checked his saber and sword calmly. “Or do you think my missing eye is a problem?”
“Oh no! Yes, Master, hehe.” Macron bowed his armored head as well as he could in the cramped space. Many training beatings flitted about in his insane head. “I can’t say exactly. But- something is coming. Be on your guard. Something beyond the obvious, beyond the Betrayer, beyond the Jedi. Expect more.”
Tsainetomo spoke quietly next. “I feel it too, cousin.” The Korun had not been seen for some time, and had not said a single word to anyone just yet. Rumor had it he and Macron had dueled, and the upshot was that Tsainetomo had been brought forth from his drunken reverie in order to kill and raise hell. “My friends and Clan, we need to be solid. To be strong. To move as one, and to destroy our enemies with alacrity and efficiency.” Tsainetomo sat back down on the bench with a blank expression in his tripartite eyes as the drop ship came to a grinding halt. “Now. We do.”
Methyas spoke quietly as the grinding and clanging stopped. “Bob… it’s time. Tell them the plan.” The Consul looked defiantly at the assembled personas. “These are my orders, as your Consul.” Authority in this time of war had crept into his voice. He had truly come into his own, and was now comfortable delegating responsibility appropriately as a Consul should. This is what allowed a Clan to survive.
“Time to play,” remarked Robert Sadow. “With your permission, Methyas, and Overlord as you wish. Methyas and I, along with the Overlord are in command. Mirado, Jeric, as befitting your positions you are the Overlord’s Council. Attend him well. Manji, you will command our warriors. Macron, you and Tsainetomo will attend the Overlord personally. Deal with any strategic and scientific issues and be Manji’s second in battle, as befits you both. Jade, you will usurp and convert all that we encounter. You are our Krath psy-ops leader. Raistlin, Shin’Ichi, Malisane, Sanjuro, you are our heavy shock troopers and vanguard. Today we move, and we destroy our enemies. I know many of you have questions. Ask them later. Now we do our jobs.”
‘Move Out,” ordered Astronicus as the exit hatch opened with a lurch. “Rendezvous with Taldryan and Ashia. Conserve your energies, and leave no Jedi alive. You are my Vanguard, and together we will destroy our enemies.” The screech of many igniting lightsabers was his only reply as the evil began to direct itself forth like dark lightning.
“Kill them all.”
“Gods help us,” thought Jade as she jumped from the open hatch to the battlefield with the Force. “Let our brethren fight and do well. For Sadow!”
In the cockpit of his X-Wing, Locke sighed with relief as the transport carrying many of Sadow's greatest warriors made landfall without incident. He and his flight made another low pass, meters off the grassy plains and then rising slightly to cross over dense forests. Occasionally he shot over villages and could see their inhabitants as a blur running for cover. Rarely he heard the distinctive sound of distant blaster fire, no doubt shooting at him. They'd never do damage like that, but then, they couldn't be very smart if they were following a primitive group of rogue Jedi.
Suddenly red fire laced across the back of the craft next to Locke's. He rolled hard away from it, catching a glimpse of an explosion out of the corner of his eye. His roll turned his cockpit back toward his damaged wingman for a moment; and he could tell the other X-Wing was damaged and descending, but not destroyed. That was good; that pilot might live to continue the fight.
Two X-Wing's streaked through the space Locke and his wingman had just occupied. Locke tried to roll in behind one, but it immediately broke away before he could even settle for a lock. The other was a bit slower. Locke allowed his Force presence to expand briefly, and it confirmed his fears: at least one of those X-Wings was piloted by a Jedi. It seemed they had attracted some of the few Jedi pilots defending the planet after all. Locke's knuckles whitened on the yoke; anger seething through his usual calm exterior. The Jedi's ineptitude had cost the life of his sister and millions of others in the 'Vong War. He shook his head. He couldn't let his anger get the best of him. Besides, from this angle, it was just another X-Wing. That made it easier. He relaxed a bit.
Rolling up to port, Locke tailed the X-Wing, attempting to stay behind it as he signaled his remaining two wingmen to go after the other X-Wing. That left him to go one to one with the Jedi, or at least hold them off until his wingmen finished off the other. As he struggled to get a lock, Locke studied his opponent's movements. He knew little of the other pilots in the Brotherhood, but wondered if this was someone he knew of. They were clearly a good pilot; they didn't give Locke a chance to even let off one good shot.
Though Locke's X-Wing was much newer then the Jedi's, Locke still could not hit them. Frustrated, he switched his lasers over to dual fire. That way he wouldn't pack the punch as if his cannons were quad-linked, but he would have a faster fire rate. He began taking more numerous shots; careful not to waste too much energy. He couldn't afford to lose speed.
Laser fire shot across Locke's bow and he was forced to juke to avoid it, causing him to lose his advantageous position over the Jedi craft. He silently cursed and scanned his radar. One of his allies was gone and the other was pursuing the Jedi's wingman, who had nearly killed Locke a moment before. He'd have to be careful. Now where was that Jedi?
Just as Locke located the blip on his radar he felt the hair on his neck stand up and he instinctively rolled to starboard. The Jedi pilot stayed on his tail. Now Locke was the Womp Rat; he dodged and weaved and did everything he could to avoid being hit.
His astromech chirped; Locke risked a glance at the screen on his console. His wingman had defeated the Jedi's, and now it was two to one. Locke's wingman settled in behind the Jedi X-Wing and began firing quickly, but the Jedi rolled away just as Locke had. In the meantime, Locke oriented himself so he could aim at the Jedi. Then he felt a very familiar feeling. Something, maybe the Force, maybe luck, told him now was a good moment to fire. He quickly switched to torpedoes and fired one before he could get a lock. The Jedi's X-Wing rolled almost directly in the path of it. As the torpedo exploded next to it, Locke saw the X-Wing's shields fail and it began to smoke and careen uncontrollably toward the forest below. He breathed with relief. His first Jedi kill.
Duelling X-Wings screeched overhead as the feet of Sadow's finest touched the verdant grass of New Tython. Untold hordes of native Tythonians stretched before them at the bottom of a sloping hill, scattered blaster fire blazing up towards them from some sections of the native army- not many of the natives had blasters, but there were enough of them to make a straightforward advance into enemy fire a tricky proposition. In addition, Jedi moved between the native Tythonians, their presence burning brightly in the Force; the Lightsiders were undoubtedly combining their efforts into a battle meld to enhance the fighting prowess of the natives. Behind the Sadowans, more dropships swooped down from the atmosphere, depositing the rest of the Clan's warriors and their military support.
Sanjuro, Malisane, Shin'ichi and Raistlin immediately fanned out at the front of the group, sabers out and ignited to deflect any incoming blaster bolts from where the Overlord stood. Astronicus gave the assembled horde of their enemies one contemptuous glance and then turned back towards the dropship, barking orders at the Dlarit troopers who had stepped down from the craft.
"Establish an F.O.B immediately," the Overlord said, turning back to the Sons and Daughters of Sadow. "The rest of you- you have your orders. Let us bring the fury of Sadow to these worthless insects!"
No further encouragement was needed. Flanked by a line of Dlarit soldiers and the armoured elites under the command of the Dark Council, the Sadowan vanguard advanced towards the lip of the hill before pausing momentarily, breathlessly waiting for the command to attack.
Manji's voice rippled with the Dark Side as he raised his blazing silver blades and screamed a war cry.
The line surged over the lip of the hill and downwards, gathering momentum as it went. The natives with blasters opened fire, red bolts scorching across the advancing force; in response the elite troops of the Brotherhood began firing from the hip, training sending their shots home with unerring accuracy. The skies above burned as Jedi pilots scrambled their ships and struggled to snatch air supremacy from the Dark Jedi; the plain below erupted into chaos as the vanguard reached the enemy lines, smashing into the lightly-armoured natives with the force of a tidal wave. The native army recoiled from the impact but seemed to visibly steel itself as the Jedi across the plain refocussed their energy into the battle meld. Like a hammer of destruction, the Dark-clad lines of the Brotherhood smashed their way through the Tythonian front line and let slip the dogs of war.
Two clicks out from Menat Ombo
The three cerulean-skinned natives fled into the field, staining the tall yellow shoots of long grass purple as blood continued pouring from the light cuts along their arms. The lucky Harakoans had already been killed outright by the other Dark Jedi who’d disembarked from the gunship in the forest outside the farm; but these three Harakoans were not lucky: they were being hunted.
At least, that’s what it felt like to Syara. The nineteen-year-old knew the feeling from the natural sonance she shared with the farm animals when they were chased, as they so often were, by a feral wolf or bear that had wandered out of the forests and into the grasslands in search of food.
But now she was the hunted and the invaders the hunter.
The teenager coughed, struggling to breathe through the thick clouds of caustic smoke that were still billowing out of the forest fires blazing beyond the farmstead where the invaders had landed. Another explosion rang out somewhere behind her. They had to get to the grasslands. They had to.
Breaking through the last of the long grass, Syara eyed a lone outbuilding in the small clearing.
The Harakoan glanced back – and saw nothing. She turned back to the outbuilding again. “In there, in there!” she whispered, making her voice only as loud as she dared. “Quickly!” The two younger Harakoans rushed across the clearing, pulling open the lower part of the stable door and darting inside as fast as they could. Syara followed, double checking that no one had followed them again.
Once inside, Syara collapsed against the nearest wall, gasping audibly for air. She hadn’t realised just how exhausted she was. Blease slowly shifted himself across the room and held something out for her. Syara looked up. It was the boy’s green scarf. “Here,” the ten-year-old said. “You’re bleeding.”
Syara stared at Blease for a moment, before following his concerned gaze down to her own arm. He was right. Her arm was virtually purple from all the blood loss. The third Harakoan, Blease’s younger sister Lorey, gently lifted Syara’s arm so that Blease could wrap his scarf around the wound.
“Thank you,” Syara said to the two children. She smiled softly at them. “I’ll buy another one for you when we next go to Menat Ombo.” She wouldn’t. She knew that. Syara just wanted to disappear back into the woods and live in the forest, like her people had before the Jedi brought this doom upon them. The Jedi city was cursed. Even if they all survived this, she wouldn’t be going back to Menat Ombo, never again. Syara pulled the children into a one-arm hug. “It’ll all be okay. I promise.”
The door to the stable suddenly crashed open. The children screamed. Before Syara could stand, two figures appeared inside the doorway. The Harakoan gasped. On both of her pursuers’ faces—
“That tattoo...” she whispered, rising to her feet and pushing both of the children behind her. “Run.” Somewhere, she had managed to find the strength to speak again. “Run,” she repeated, forcefully this time. “Go kids. Head for the farmstead. Someone there will help you.”
The two figures eyed her but did not speak. Strangely, neither had their lightsaber lit either.
Syara looked up at the human of the two – the other was of a green-skinned species she hadn’t seen before. “Let the children go,” Syara hissed. “They’ve done nothing wrong!”
The man studied her closely, frowning, making the jagged shape on his forehead appear to shift ever so slightly under his skin. It was just like the one Kalia’s boyfriend had; the Jedi’s tattoo had creeped her out ever since she first saw it. “Quite right, they haven’t,” the human replied. “It’s you we want to speak with.”
Behind her, Blease and Lorey started breathing heavily. “Sy...Syara...” the boy mumbled fearfully.
“Shh,” she hissed sternly, but gently. Syara cleared her throat, the smoke particles beginning to tickle again. “Well? What is it?”
“Jaspen Kraitus,” replied the human, evenly. “Tell us where we can find Jaspen Kraitus.”
Entering New Tython Atmo
New Tython System
Tiberius was on board the Dropship Prima, with the other well known Sadowans, and looked at them with pride, he was new to Naga Sadow and Marka Ragnos, but he could feel the pride that was the Summit and what was Naga Sadow.
He looked at Macron who he had worked with in his last mission, and walked over and introduced himself again to Macron, “Hi Man how you doing” said Tiberius.
“Fine Man, long time on see Tiberius”, Macron said with a warm welcome.
Tiberius walked round the Ship and introduced himself to the rest of the Team on board the Drop ship, he was enjoying himself catching up with this from the Summit and the rest of the Naga Sadow Team.
As the Drop ship, was moving at speed towards the drop point, in the New Tython Atmo, in the New Tython System Tiberius sat back in his seat and watched the rest of the team jumping down from the Drop Ship.
As he was watching he also was cleaning his, saber and and guns, oiling the the parts so that the gun was running smoothly, has he did so there was a smile which was beginning to came on his face, as he remembered what he got up to with his newly found friend Macron, and the friends that he knew on board the Drop ship.
As the Drop Ship came close to its mark, he looked once more at the ground below, and saw fighting that was going on and took a deep breathe.
Sadow Landing Zone
Owyhyee, New Tython
Jeric was the fourth to jump out of the dropship, Mirado was close behind. The two immediately surveyed the landing zone. Tsainetomo and Marcon exited the dropship shadowing Astronicus. The other sons and daughters of Sadow scattered out into the open field heading towards the nearby Harakoan Tribes. From the woodline an element of the native army emerged and opened fire on the Sadowans.
Jeric deflected a few blaster blots that came his way. He turn to see the Overlord waiting for his or Mirado’s council. As Jeric moved towards the Overlord he heard Tsainetomo’s voice. “Jedi Scum!”
Naga Sadow’s madman snickered as he ignited the orange blade of his lightsaber. Jeric turned to see jedi weaving in and out of the natives that were advancing on their position. Mirado step in right behind Jeric as the sith began speaking.
“Lord Sadow, I suggest we establish a forward operating base in this field.”
“I must agree with Director Cyrin, we are in a perfect location, just 3 clicks from Menat Ombo and surrounded by a number of native tribes.”
The Overlord nodded in agreement while starring at the advancing enemy. Astronicus turn to an element of Dlarit troopers that had just unloaded from a dropship. "Establish an FOB immediately," the Overlord said, turning back to the Sadowans still gathered. “The rest of you, you have your orders. Let us bring the fury of Sadow to these worthless insects!”
Jeric could hear Manji’s war cry as he lifted his silver blades into the air, dozens more dark jedi raised their sabers into the air as their cries echo across the field. Like a hailstorm the Disciples of Lord Naga Sadow crashed into the army of natives and jedi. Flashes of blue, green, red, silver, yellow danced across the field. Bodies began to fall, most were natives, some where jedi, and even fewer were dark jedi.
A few natives and two jedi broke out of the battle and dashed straight towards Astronicus and the six dark jedi that stood with him. A wave of telekinetic energy from Macron took out the natives, Jeric lept into the air as the body's of the natives hit the floor. The Sith Pirate’s crimson blade met the blue blade of one of the Jedi. He must have been a padawan cause it didn’t take much effort from the Sith to strike down the jedi. The other Jedi fell with a few quick strikes from Tsainetomo’s blades. Methyas and Robert watched the onslaught from just behind the Overlord. Now more than ever the thirst for blood and the hungry for war could be felt by all of Sadow.
Naga Sadow FOB
Owyhyee, New Tython
The Dropships descended swiftly as the combined aerial support from Sadow and Taldryan maintained as strict a perimeter as could be permitted over the assigned landing zone. The Vanguard of the Overlord moved swiftly as Astronicus barked out his orders, the men and women of the Special Operations Group swiftly moving to set up the temporary base of operations as more dropships started towards their position. With a fierce shriek, a series of fighters chased each other overhead as the sound of repeating blaster fire tore into the side of one of the transports overhead.
Methyas' sightless gaze cast up to the unlucky transport, flames and smoke billowing from the point of impact, as it carefully made its way to the ground for some swift repairs. As the chaos ensued, the Consul spoke quickly through his comlink, "November Sierra Actual to Final Way. Araic, scramble more fighters and secure our aerial superiority over our FOB. All future dropships may need an escort."
Before the Admiral could respond another series of shrieks passed overhead as the sound of more repeating blaster fire tore through the surrounding air. The air grew electrified as numerous Jedi, both light and dark, reached out to get a glimpse of what had just passed overhead. Amongst them, the Vanguard of the Overlord seemed unfazed; chief amongst them the Consul as a thin smile crossed his face before a simple phrase escaped him as a whisper, "More fuel for the fire..."
A familiar voice burst out from the crowd before anyone else, though Methyas and Bob could just as easily have recognized the figures who now threatened to encroach upon their field of battle, Roxas' cry could be heard above the rest, "Mando'ade!"
As though hail raining down from the sky, the figures of Mandalorians began to mingle in amongst the assorted natives and their few Jedi associates. The voice of Ashia Keibatsu quickly called out across their headsets as the proverbial poodoo hit the fan, "Why the hell didn't we see these guys? Should we divide and conquer?"
A silence glance passed between each member of the Vanguard before a curt nod between Methyas and Bob confirmed all they needed to say, Bob's voice speaking swiftly, "Ashia, see if you can focus all of your assets on the newcomers and we'll take care of the natives. The Mandalorians seem to be focused on our aerial support anyway."
As Bob turned to look at his Consul, Methyas finished relaying the message to Simonetti to cease all shuttles to the surface until a path was made. The pair spoke another wordless conversation, comparing notes mentally as they tried not to alarm their subordinates, "Do you recognize that emblem? Which Clan they belong to?"
"Only got a glimpse, do they feel familiar?"
"It's been years since Mandalore, I can't quite recognize them from here."
"I thought there was a glimpse of..."
The Consul's mind moved quickly, "Roxas! Kano! Someone get me eyes on the Clan insignia of these newcomers, we need to figure out who these guys take orders from!"
The sound of Astronicus clearing his throat could be heard as Methyas and Bob's faces snapped back to face their Overlord, "Perhaps it would not be wise for us to remain in the open then?"
Methyas nodded as the assembled Vanguard seemed to be torn between feeding their thirst for combat, for the blood of their enemies...and their duties to the Overlord. The only pair seeming at an eerie calm to be their Overlord and Consul, the latter of the pair responding, "Indeed, let's move, my lord. I believe some of our troopers have already established a small bunker for us over in this direction."
As the Miraluka gestured, the vanguard began to move for their small recluse as the Special Ops troopers continued to expand their forward base.
Sadow Landing Zone
Owyhyee, New Tython
Tsainetomo extinguished his blades a heartbeat after one of the fallen Jedi’s own heart ceased and quickly reassembled his batons into a staff. He hefted it absently, ensuring that his Clanmates had things well in hand before he allowed himself a moment of reflection. Unlike others in the Clan, who would don their finest before heading into battle, Sai kept his robes from his time spent in Sadowan slums. His boots were scuffed, but well-worn and broken in. His tunic, ripped and pocked from cuts and blaster bolts, had been cleaned, but still bore the stitches from hasty repairs. The chrome of his buckles had long since tarnished, but Tsainetomo no longer had a need for finery. His was a warrior's garb, as scarred and proven as the man who wore it.
A quick glance about the field gave the Korun-Keibatsu confirmation: the Sadowan war-machine was beginning to warm up, the cogs different but the results just the same. A heady breeze wafted over the battlefield, enveloping him with the smells of conflict; oil mixed with ozone, lightly tinged with earth and blood.
He whirled to find Astronicus’ gaze similarly scanning the field, and the Overlord began to beam with pride at his Children’s effectiveness. Too many times had those of Clan Naga Sadow been pitted against those of similar bent, and it gladdened his dark heart to see them fighting not for dominion, but for supremacy. Those who rallied behind the banner of Odan Urr would soon learn the folly of challenging the Heirs to the True Throne.
The Overlord’s eye caught Tsainetomo’s and he mouthed the words “Well done, my Son.” Sai’s reply was not the customary “as you will, my Lord”, but something uncomfortably familiar.
“Aurelius,” and a curt nod. Clearly, something had changed in Tsainetomo, perhaps well before his self-imposed exile, and it would need to be dealt with. But, as long as his Son kept fighting and killing in his name, it could wait. His patience was infinite, and he would have his reckoning with the Keibatsu. In time. All in the fullness of Time.
Tsainetomo readied himself for the next wave as he saw Sanjuro, Manji, Shin’ichi and Raistlin establishing the Sadowan front as the rank and file began to solidify their foothold. Crates of varying sizes were being unloaded from the dropships and quickly unpacked; communications suites and command structures were being assembled and erected, and here is where the Clan’s most powerful Obelisk found his own sense of pride. Yes the Sadowan War-Machine was effective, but these lowly workers were the ones who made it work. Darth Vader had it right when he began his own ascent through Palpatine’s ranks; take care of the men that you commanded, and they would bend over backwards to take care of you.
A dark presence filled Tsainetomo’s ethereal peripheral senses, and he craned his head around to espy Macron and Jade stalking through severed limbs and blaster craters towards him. A barely discernable hiss of air escaping a pressurized helm reached his ear, and a second later was the Alchemist’s throaty laugh.
“Sai, my friend! Aren’t you glad that I dragged you out of that womp-rathole and sobered you up? What better cure for your blues than this, fighting in the name of our Father?” he asked sarcastically. Jade nodded emphatically, the joke clearly lost on her, and she looked at Tsainetomo.
Sai had gotten the meaning behind his friend's mutual disillusioned utterance, but the Keibatsu’s mask hadn’t broken, and his eyes didn’t lose their flatness. “I must correct you, Mononoke,” Tsainetomo began. “I don’t fight for your…our Father. I fight for myself.” Jade’s jaw dropped.
“Careful, Sai,” hissed the Krath. “Treasonous thoughts are usually better given voice after the action..and in private.”
This time, Sai’s mask did crack. A slight upturning of the corner of the mouth, but it was there. A ghost of a smile. “You didn’t let me finish. I fight for myself, because the Fight is All. Though titles mean little, I am arguably the most powerful pure warrior the Clan has to offer. My thoughts are not muddled by subterfuge” – Macron shifted slightly at that – “nor are they clouded by study, of tomes, anyway. I am a weapon, as my Master originally intended me to be. And in dozens of battles on dozens of worlds, I’ve never met my equal. Perhaps, here, on New Tython, I will.”
Almost on cue, waves of warning began to lap against the shores of the three Darksiders’ consciousness. Sai assessed the situation while Jade and Macron furtively scanned the immediate area for threats to the Overlord. None seemed evident to them, as Astronicus was flanked by Methyas and Robert.
Sai, however, was a different story. Those who'd established the beachhead, as it were, had been fanning out in a crecent motion, ever expanding outward from the landing zone. However, in their fervor to begin the killing, the Sadowans had committed a crucial gaffe in such maneuvers; they had neglected their rear.
Tsainetomo cast his attention to a small copse behind the command dropship, and bade the Force to guide him. Whisper it did, its ebon voice carrying the agitation, the nervousness, the heated anticipation common to those who were about to spring an ambush. It was what was underlying that interested Sai. A current of discipline. Of organization. Of purpose. Electric with murder.
“The natives are being led,” muttered the Korun. No sooner had the baritone scape his lips did the copse erupt with blaster-fire, howling natives…and helmed and breastplated warriors.
Tsainetomo’s teeth shone brightly as this time, he allowed the smile that had alit upon his face full release. “With me,” he said in a tone as light and as nonchalant as one commenting on the weather, and he disassembled his staff so the pair of batons were nestled snugly in his sun-darkened hands. He hadn’t ignited them as yet; nonetheless, he brandished them excitedly as Macron and Jade ignited their own. They moved as a trio of Dark Side fueled cruise missiles towards the cluster of treachery.
Naga Sadow FOB
Owyhyee, New Tython
"Roxas! Kano! Someone get me eyes on the Clan insignia of these newcomers, we need to figure out who these guys take orders from!" Methyas shouted, his orders were immediately followed as the two Mandalorians began looking into the sky to find the insignia.
The gears in Roxas’s helmet turned, forcing the range finder down. Inside the helmet the screen zoomed in to scan each fighter and ship that was flying over head. A Mando’ade drop ship turned as it descended, and this gave Roxas the perfect view of the insignia. When he saw it his eyes widened in disbelief.
“Methyas, it’s Ordo. Clan Ordo is helping the Jedi.” The Knight said to his Consul.
Methyas displayed his disbelief as best as a blind man could as he queried “Are you sure?”
Roxas nodded “I’m a hundred percent sure.”
Methyas wasn't exactly surprised that the Jedi hired mandos to help them, but he didn’t expect it. Luckily he had some knowledge of Mandalorians, being raised by a Mandalorian along with Kano being his cousin and Roxas being a summit member.
“Roxas take some troops into the forest and stop the natives from firing at us.”
“Sounds like fun to me” Roxas replied to Methyas.
The Sergeant signaled his Regulators and they ran for the forest. An increase in blaster bolts flew from the trees as the Regulators neared the forest. They bobbed and weaved as they ran, with blaster bolts narrowly missing them. From the forest came a large number of explosions and blaster shots. The Sadowans outside the forest noticed a small decrease in shots coming from the dense foliage. Suddenly they saw a green light swinging wildly in the darkness of the trees and heard even more blaster shots. A few minutes later the shots coming from the forest were significantly lowered.
Methyas heard his com chirp and picked up “Yes?”
“All done, anything else for me to do?” The Sergeant replied with a laugh.
Airspace Over New Tython
Clan Naga Sadow Strike Vector
Locke bracketed another fighter of the militia – this time a Y-Wing – and pulled the trigger. Four scarlet bolts lanced out together. The Y-Wing turned to port just as all four shots slammed into its starboard engine, causing it to explode and sending the rest of the craft to the ground. Locke immediately turned away from it, rolling to port himself. He silently chided himself; he had a bad habit of rolling the same way all the time. Luckily no enemy had noticed so far.
Far ahead Locke saw a transport descending in flames. That was frustrating; he had missed something and lost good people because of it. Locke sought out the culprit – a Z-95; easy kill. He accelerated and came at it at an angle, firing again, four bolts easily overpowering its weak shields and causing it to disappear in a fiery explosion. It couldn't bring his people back, but at least they were avenged.
Abruptly Locke's comlink beeped. "Fire Heralds…Fire Heralds, do you read?"
It sounded like Teu, addressing the whole squadron Locke had been flying with; they were only a few scattered fighters now. Even though he was temporarily assigned, Locke was the most senior member present at this point. "This is Five, reading clearly, everything alright up there?"
Her voice sounded stressed, "no, get up here. We've got company!"
"More of them?" Locke asked. He briefly addressed the squadron. "Seven, you have command. Keep up the good work, I have to check on something." He received a series of clicks in response, turning his starfighter toward space at the same time. He wasn't sure what good one X-Wing could do up there.
"We've got unidentified contacts…everywhere. We don't know what they are, but there's a lot of them, " Teu continued. "The Admiral is ordering our fighters to intercept, but we could use you too."
"I'm already on my way up. Leave some for me. 'Fire Five out." His only response was a nervous giggle. What could be going on up there?
As Locke cleared a cloud layer he suddenly found himself surrounded by strange transports. "What the…" he whispered, juking right and left to avoid fire from their guns. There were starfighters with them too; they flashed by Locke faster than he could see, evidently ignoring him. They must have had a high priority target.
"Listen up Fires, " Locke said, "you'd better have vaped the last of that militia, cause you've got more company. No idea what they are, but they've got transports and fighters. Looked ugly."
There was a series of clicks, then: "Not as ugly as you, Five."
"Gee, thanks. Good hunting anyway." Locke cleared the group and they didn't pursue. He hoped the remaining Fire Heralds could hold them off long enough for him to get back. He grimly looked ahead, toward the distant shape of the Final Way.
Orbit Over New Tython
Clan Naga Sadow Blockade Sector
Locke approached the battle over the Final Way's bow. Numerous explosions ahead, punctuated by irregular shapes here and there indicated that the enemy fleet had already engaged. Beyond them, a brilliant violet nebula in the distance silhouetted the enemy ships, but at this distance Locke couldn't tell what they were.
"Fire Five, " it was Admiral Simonetti's voice.
"Yes Sir?" Locke answered curtly.
"Glad you could make it. Your new designation is SH3, your predecessor just got vaped."
That was Shadow Heralds Three. "Understood Sir, " Locke replied, then, quietly to himself: "ooh nice, a promotion."
"Three eh?" Came a new voice over the comm. It was gruff and casual, the same as countless experienced pilots Locke had flown with. "Hope you do better than the last one. Form up, we're making a run on NB2-1."
Not bothering to put the squadron commander in his place, Locke smiled and found a position with the squadron as they broke off prior commitments. Together they vectored toward the Modifed Nebulon-B Frigate the leader had identified. It was spearheading the enemy invasion fleet. In moments they were upon it.
"Torps kiddies, " the leader reminded. Locke switched his over a second later, then to dual fire, just as the leader spoke those same words. They were almost upon it, breaking up slightly to avoid the flare of turbolaser fire from the frigate. "On my mark, fire!" More than eight pairs of torpedoes flared out, almost in a neat row. "Good, break!".
Locke turned his fighter up on its starboard wing this time, his wingman following. Out of the corner of his eyes he could see the frigate's shields buckling. "Shadows, " the leader said, "break and accelerate to attack speed. Leave the caps to the Final Way and her escorts, we'll deal with the fighters."
Responding with a click like the rest, Locke's flight element broke from the squadron, angling toward a group of fighters of a type Locke had not seen for a long time; R-41 Starchasers, unless he missed his guess. He wondered if they were pirates. Would they have a fleet this large? They all wore the same emblem, Locke had no idea what it meant. On his sensors the enemy fighters and capital ships outnumbered the 'Brotherhood's in this sector at least 2:1. They'd have to be good to hold the blockade. At least the enemy didn't seem to be Force Sensitive.
In their twin X-Wings, Locke and his wingman passed between four Starchasers, cannons lighting up on both sides. Locke rolled, his wingman following, but the Starchasers were doing the same. Though they were older fighters, usually used by pirates, these seemed flown by skilled pilots. Rather than come back at Locke's pair straight on, they came at an angle, presenting a narrow profile to strike.
The hair on Locke's neck suddenly stood on end. "Four, break right!" He shouted. Four jumped starboard, just as Locke juked hard to port. A flurry of blue-red filled the space between them; the Starchasers firing their ion and laser cannons linked. One good hit from that would likely make an X-Wing dead in the water, if not totally destroy it. Even with his Force-enhanced reflexes, Locke found them an even match.
As they looped back again, Locke found himself falling in behind a different group of fighters. He fired on instinct, his wingman doing the same a split-second later, and together they blasted apart one Starchaser; then another. "Woo!" His wingman said.
"Sorry Three, that was my fifth."
Locke fought down the urge to correct the pilot a second time; he remembered becoming an Ace himself like it was yesterday. "Great, now let's focus on finishing the battle so you can brag about it during downtime."
"Yessir," the two fighters vectored away, looking for targets of opportunity. They kept dodging their pursuit until it was blown away by the leader and his wing.
"That's how you do it kids."
"Thanks Lead, " Locke replied.
Then a new voice joined the chatter, Locke didn't have to recognize the voice to know it was the Admiral. "All fighters, we're in the thick of it now." Locke watched the Final Way converge on the enemy fleet as the voice continued. "Draw their fire so we can bring our big guns to bear. We've identified E-Wings and Y-Wings targeting us."
"Understood, " Lead replied. "You heard the man, " he continued, addressing the squadron, "let's make scrap of some bombers, Bloods, cover us."
"Babysitting again?" Came a new voice, it was dark, gravely.
"Blood Lead, " Shadow Leader said, "any time you want to go up against me and my boys in the sims you just let me know."
Blood Lead just laughed. The comm fell quiet as the two squadrons approached what seemed to be a wall of bombers. Locke primed his torpedoes and fired, one, then another; the slow Y-Wings being unable to adapt.
"A-Wings at .03, watch them suckers!" Lead said loudly. Locke watched his fighter dodge away as a flight of A-Wings opened up. Locke flipped his X-Wing up, dodged, and found himself along the spine of the Modified Nebulon-B. He saw an explosion, vaguely felt someone die, but wasn't sure who.
"Lost Two, Bloods, wheres our cover?" Lead's voice was only slightly hurried; it had the sound of a man who had been in this position many times.
"Gotcha!" This voice was female, exciting.
Then the gravely voice spoke again, "excellent shooting Two, hold tight." Locke had to smile; those two as wingmen seemed like such an odd pair, but they were effective.
Locke curved away from the frigate, hot on the tail of two more Y-Wings. One broke to starboard quickly, while Locke's lasers clipped the other's engine and it exploded. These were surprisingly easy; but Locke suspected it was more because of the class of fighters they were.
"Dance Three!" Lead said. Locke jumped his X-Wing back and forth instinctively. He looked up, over his shoulders, catching a glimpse of an A-Wing. "You've got two on you, bloody stunt fighters," the leader continued. "Hold on."
Locke didn't have much choice, between the two of them, with their superior agility, the A-Wings were more than a match for Locke. Then his canopy brightened with an explosion. The other broke away.
"Thanks again Lead."
"How many drinks is that now?" Lead replied sarcastically.
"I've got you guys covered, don't worry, " Locke answered. He settled behind an E-Wing at the same moment; fired, and it danced away. He kept at it, eventually finding himself face-to-face with a Y-Wing. He fired immediately, so close he could see the other pilot, a quick shot on instinct. The Y-Wing exploded and Locke shot through the explosion, his console beeping as his shields struggled to recharge.
"Nice Three, we've lost a couple that way. Amazing you noticed in time." Locke was amazed too, but he knew it was the Force that had saved him. These pilots were mad, no doubt about it.
He found himself outside the battle for a moment. Just then, his comlink chimed to life with Teu's voice again. "Private channel - Locke, they're getting pounded on the ground, they need you again."
"Back and forth, eh Master?" Locke replied. "If only there were two of me." He switched channels momentarily. "Lead?"
"The Admiral just told me. Thanks for the help, never knew I'd get to fly with one of you; never thought you'd be so icy. See you after the fight."
"Likewise Lead, good hunting, " he switched back to the private channel as he closed his S-foils and aimed for the planet again. "Just me, Teu?"
"Yes, the Fires are still alive, but barely. Its hectic down there. We're assigning Stone and Steel Heralds to assist you."
"HLAFs, like A-Wings, but not."
"Not as good, you mean."
She sighed exasperatedly. "We're working with what we've got."
"Ah, uh, who are these new enemies?"
"Mandalorians, apparently, " she said.
Mandalorians? What were they doing here? Helping the Jedi? Why? Question after question ran through Locke's head, but only one left his lips. "Like Roxas?"
"Kinda. More deadly, less annoying, " Teu answered.
"I find things trying to kill me very annoying."
"Then go kill them. You've got work to do. Get to it."
"Understood, you gonna join us down there?"
"Don't know yet. Someone has to coordinate us."
"Oh, they stuck you with that job huh? I'll say hi for you, maybe kill a couple of Jedi."
"Ha-ha, now hush, you're leading two squadrons into battle."
"Thanks Master, see you later." He watched out his canopy as he entered the upper atmosphere of New Tython again. This time more than fifteen HLAF fighters settled into formation around him, their wedge-shaped bodies seeming undersized compared to the cannons flanking them. "Hey guys, glad you could make it." Then he realized he didn't know his designation. He checked his main console and sighed. That wouldn't do. It could get confusing, and the Dark Council might not appreciate it.
"This is Herald One, - redesignate Dakhan One - looks like some Mandos have come to play. Let's send them back to whatever corner of the galaxy they crawled out of. Target priority: dropships first, fighters when you can."
Like usual, clicks answered him. These guys must have been unsure of him. Then one said "One, this is Stone Two, like that one guy?"
Locke laughed. He had no doubts about who that one guy was. "Sorta, but these are trying to kill you."
"Ah, uh, I still don't see the difference."
Locke rolled his eyes. He knew some of the others could be cruel at times, but it was kind of brave to make light of it. "Two."
They passed through the clouds in silence. "Spread out, pick targets and go, " Locke said. Then they were out of the clouds, the sprawling patchwork grasslands-forest of New Tython spread out beneath them. Fires dotted the landscape here and there, some in villages, some not. Forests burned. The city of Menat Ombo occupied a spot along the horizon. All over, closer to the surface, Locke could see weapons fire; that must have been the enemy fighters.
As he got closer, he could see the tiny figures of both sides of the ground battle, a thin beam of colorful light here and there indicating a Force User. There was one large cluster, seemingly surrounded by darkness but appearing normal visually. Locke guessed that was his Clan's main force. Above them, the Mandalorian's A-Wings, X-Wings, and other craft vastly outnumbered friendlies. Locke switched his comm over to the Fire Herald's frequency.
"Fire Heralds, reading?"
"Oh boy, you again. I hope you brought help, " answered the reply.
"Actually, I did. Glad to hear you're still alive. Check your long-range sensors."
The voice on the other end seemed a little excited for a moment. "Great, reinforcements. Can we go home now?"
"Never, " Locke replied. He and the HLAFs entered the battle moments later, adding their number to the maelstrom of action over the ground forces. With no wingman of his own, Locke took targets where he could. He could tell that, without someone to watch out for him directly, he wasn't going to last forever. Just as he thought that, an A-wing set up behind him and his astromech squealed as it blew off one of his wings.
"Stone, Steel Leads, you guys got this?"
"Sure, " one said, "where are you going? Oh, you got shot - "
"Yep, ha-ha, have fun." As his X-Wing tipped almost straight down toward the surface, Locke signaled his astromech to eject, which it did, with a series of beeps that Locke didn't recognize. Just before the craft slammed the surface, Locke hit his own ejector. Time seemed to slow to a crawl. Beneath him, the X-Wing's nose shifted to a right angle to the rest of the craft. An explosion lit up under the fighter's body, bulbous clouds of fire rising under Locke. He watched in horror, feeling the heat, hoping it didn't rise high enough to engulf him. He tried to focus on the matter at hand; the flames seeming to momentarily engulf him.
The flames receded as the craft disappeared beneath Locke, his ejector's thrusters cut out a moment later, his parachute activated and he found himself falling some distance away from the blackened hulk of his X-Wing. When he landed, he found himself in wavy, head-high grasses. He quickly cut his parachute loose and stood straight up, stretching. He realized for the first time that his flight suit was smoldering.
"That was too close, " he mumbled, fishing his lightsaber from its clip at the flight suit's belt and beginning to work his way through the grass. He fished a small backup comlink from a pocket on the suit, hoping its signal would reach someone he knew. Broadcasting on open channels was dangerous, but being alone out here was probably more risky.
"Anyone read me?" He said. "This is Dakhan One. Come in? If you can hear me, I'm in a field somewhere." He hoped, if any of his fellow Dark Jedi heard, they could find him by the smoke rising from his X-Wing, or his presence in the Force. He only hoped someone else didn't find him first.
Two clicks out from Menat Ombo
The two younger Harakoans huddled behind Syara at the back of the abandoned farm outbuilding, little Lorey clinging onto the coattails of the farmhand’s now purple and bloodied works jacket.
“Jaspen who?” Syara asked, doing her best to keep herself calm.
The human in the doorway raised an eyebrow, creasing the tattoo on his forehead further, then he shook his head. “We can do this the easy way... or the less easy way.” The Dark Jedi who had chased the Harakoans through the fields around the farmstead paused for a second, allowing his warning to sink in. “Tell us what we want to know,” he continued, “and you will all walk away, unharmed.”
After what Syara had seen in the fields when the other Dark Jedi and their death squads landed, she was surprised to now hear an offer of ‘mercy’. It had to be a lie. “But I’m telling you the truth,” the girl insisted, urgency now beginning to creep into her voice. Sith didn’t do peace. The Jedi had said so. “I don’t know any Jaspen.” It was true. She didn’t, did she? “I just look after the livestock!”
The Dark Jedi studied her for an uncomfortably long moment. “I believe you,” replied the human calmly, “but not knowing does not necessarily mean you do not know.” The man glanced sideways at the second Dark Jedi, the grey-green humanoid whose species Syara didn’t recognise. “Xanos.”
The alien, who had so far remained silent, stepped towards her.
“No!” shouted Blease, springing in front of her. “Leave Auntie Sy alone!” Syara tried to stop him, but the boy leapt forward, pushing past her hand and into the green-skinned alien. Blease balled his fists and punched at the Dark Jedi’s leg. The alien did nothing. Blease punched again. Then a third time. The alien finally looked down at him, the Dark Jedi’s black eyes blank and expressionless.
Blease gulped and froze.
“Get back, Blease,” said Syara, placing her hand on the boy’s shoulder. The alien Dark Jedi’s eyes remained fixed on the Harakoan child, unblinking, until Blease finally shuffled back behind Syara, the harmless boy now shaking, his burst of adrenaline having clearly subsided. “Take me,” Syara said. It was a statement, not an offer. “Take me and let them go.”
The alien looked back up at her. When he finally spoke, the Dark Jedi’s face remained unmoved: “Look into my eyes,” the alien said, his voice not at all what the Harakoan had expected. It was at the same time both soft and cold as ice. Without even thinking, Syara found herself doing exactly as the Dark Jedi had said, gazing into his black eyes, which were as expressionless as his tattoo.
A firestorm exploded inside her head, like a migraine, only worse, much, much worse, like her skull had cracked open like an egg. Her mouth opened to scream, except she found she couldn’t, her body frozen. You cannot hide from me, whispered an ethereal voice in her head, the words echoing over and over, more spikes of pain shooting through her mind each time, like little shards of glass tearing through her thoughts without care or discretion. Syara saw Blease and Lorey sitting around a kitchen table – her kitchen table – that very morning, laughing and giggling and having fun.
The alien’s voice – or was it her voice? – whispered that if she just told him what he wanted to know, then this would end quickly. Memories and indistinct images rapidly flashed through her mind, from the streets and general shops in Menat Ombo, to the white-haired Jedi, to... she couldn’t make the next memory out. Syara tried to tell him the truth – she didn’t know! – pleading, urging the Dark Jedi with all her willpower that wasn’t lying! She felt her eyes starting to water, but like with her mouth, she couldn’t close them anymore than she could scream, couldn’t even blink.
More psychic shards dug into her thoughts, digging even deeper into her memories. Her mother’s pale face appeared in front of her as Syara stood by her bedside, holding one of her mother’s hands the say she had died. The skin was cold, clammy. She didn’t want to see this again, not again. Syara began to beg, the tears in her eyes starting to fall freely. The trespasser in her mind didn’t seem to care, violating her further, penetrating even deeper into her most secret, most private thoughts, dispassionately sifting for memories she knew weren’t even there. I DON’T KNOW WHO HE IS!
There is no ignorance, only knowledge, the voice whispered. Syara had heard that before. The Jedi said it. But not this way, she pleaded again, tears now spilling down her cheeks from her eyes, which she still couldn’t will herself to blink. The intruder didn’t seem to hear her, or didn’t care. The fog in her mind became more and more cloudy the deeper the Dark Jedi went. She made out a figure in the woods, a male, a human maybe, but it was too long ago. Too faint. Too indistinct. Even she couldn’t make sense of it anymore. She tried to make out his face, but couldn’t, no matter how hard she fought to bring the memory to the surface.
Just do it, Syara sobbed, kill me. She meant it. I’m not afraid, cried to Harakoan. There is no death, that’s what the Jedi say. A note of optimism entered her mind. There is only the Force. I’ll be with you again, mother. The alien didn’t reply. He seemed somewhere else.
I’ve found you.
For the first time, a note of passion entered the Dark Jedi’s voice as an explosion of thunderbolts erupted inside Syara’s mind, as if every neuron in her brain had suddenly activated all at once, and a memory she had somehow forgotten slowly floated to the surface of her thoughts. The face she had been trying to picture finally became visible. It wasn’t a man at all. It was a girl. Her friend. Kalia.
She should have known. It was obvious all along. The tattoo. Kalia’s boyfriend!
Finally blinking again, distantly, Syara saw Blease and Lorey running to her side, pulling her head up, tears flooding down both the children’s faces. But she didn’t register either. Instead, she called out for the Dark Jedi to put her misery at an end and heard the alien whisper back, for one final time: There is no emotion, there is peace, the Dark Jedi said, his voice soft. Let the Force free you.
With that thought, the brutal violation suddenly came to an end and Syara crashed to the wooden floorboards. The two children cried out as Syara half fell on top of them, not moving. Lorey lifted up her aunt’s hand to find it limp. The youngster didn’t seem to understand, her eyes never leaving the top of Syara’s head. Blease, however, understood all too well.
“MURDERER!” the boy snarled. “The Jedi promised there was no death!”
“Correct, there is no death, there is the Force,” replied the alien, hollowly reciting the Jedi Code, “and as its master, I have granted your friend freedom. That is something your Jedi would never do.”
“Freedom?!” The boy looked about to fall apart.
The Dark Jedi looked down at Blease, the alien’s eyes still devoid of empathy. “I liberated her from the lie she has clung to since her mother’s death.” With that, the Dark Jedi turned his back on the Harakoan and looked at his human counterpart. The alien mouthed two words: “Ghost Angel.”
A brief flash of understanding shot through the human Dark Jedi’s eyes.
“We must regroup with Ashia and the allied forces,” the human said, turning to leave. Before he reached the exit, the Dark Jedi glanced back at the two surviving Harakoans. “Think about what the Jedi gave you when you remember this day,” the man said coldly, “then about the gift my apprentice and I have bestowed.” Blease couldn’t speak. He didn’t understand. The Dark Jedi’s words were too painful to respond to. The only thing the boy could think about were the black eyes of his aunt’s murderer. “Your people will find no victory with the Jedi or the Sith,” added the human as he left.
With the two Dark Jedi gone, the two children found themselves all alone in the now empty stable, in silence. Blease pulled Lorey close. Neither spoke. No words could convey the pain. This was all the Jedi’s fault. If only they hadn’t come here. If only the Harakoans had been left alone in peace. If only.
But ‘if only’ hadn’t happened. The Jedi had come. And they’d brought the Sith and their wars with them. Blease wanted to hate the Jedi, just as much as he hated the Sith. There was no point them fighting. This wasn’t his people’s fight. The Harakoans had been used.
A voice behind them said: “There, there. I told you it’d be all right.”
The children spun – and saw Syara looking up at them! Lorey dropped to her knees and hugged her aunt; Blease did the same. Both children’s muscles relaxed, the three Harakoans holding each other tight. Syara hugged the children back, seeming to have forgotten all about her injured arm. But none of them cared. They were all safe. “It’s okay,” Syara said, stroking Blease’s head, “it’s all over.”
“Aunt Sy!” sniffed Blease, releasing his emotions in a new flood of tears. “I thought you...” Tears fell from the boy’s eyes as the three comforted each other.
Syara looked at him and smiled. “It’s okay,” the teenage girl said, “it’s okay, mummy.”
Blease’s hold slacked and he pulled back slightly. “Mum...mummy?”
“I wasn’t there for you, mummy,” his aunt said, not seeming to hear him, “but I’m here now. I’ll never let you go again.” Syara pulled Blease back into her arms, hugging him as tightly as she could. “We’ll be together forever now, mummy. There is no death, only the Force...”
Sadow Landing Zone
Owyhyee, New Tython
For Sadow...the words had echoed through each of them as they had shouted their loyalties and rushed out to draw blood. It was true, they all fought for one common purpose, fighting together, yet able to draw and fight on their own. But Sai’s words had surprised her. Sure he fought for himself, they all did on some level, at the very least for survival, but this, she could sense wasn’t his true meaning. Naga Sadow was her home her family, Sai was like her brother showing her this very bond, and treachery didn’t bode well for any one. Jade glanced at Macron as he shuffled at Sai’s words, something was going on inside his mind, maybe even his darkened soul, yet now was not the time or place to be able to sift through it. Part of her wondered if perhaps that wasn’t the reason why Tsainetomo was more ready to show it, knowing he wouldn’t be pestered by friends and family, as they would be too busy fighting. Jade simply shrugged her shoulders and gave Macron a side look. Fight they would, and fight together.
The force radiated with warning signs. They were so strong it was as though the air crackled around them and smelled of burning flesh. Whether that could have been from the recent kills, no one was going to take the risk, especially with the Overlord present.
Their attention turned towards the vibrations in the ground and the noise of oncoming warriors. An evil smirk of delight fell across her face, as she lowered her glare, her eyes looking almost soulless black in the shadows cast over them.
Tsainetomo neared the mass of fighters first, expertly dodging the blaster fire, almost moving as though he dared the heated lasers to touch him. Jade activated her violet blade, leaving her other saber at her side, using it to deflect the bolts that came closer to her after nearly missing Sai. Tiring of merely deflecting the bolts she angled the next couple of rounds, taking out a few roudy natives, who had obviously been to pissed off and likely drunk to really care about preparing for the fight, but came along for it as their friends convinced them it was a good idea.
Macron moved up along her side, nearly matching Tasinetomo in pace as the Sith sprung from the ground and summer salted to land behind a couple leaders in the group. Making swift use of his saber he managed to get 4 of them to back up, avoiding the deadly blade, but when one of them grinned as though they had the Sith trapped, he cocked his head to the side, as if to say, ‘that’s what you think’ before using the force to pick up and push the two nearest to him into the next mini wave, giving him the time to turn around and sever the head of a more decked out fighter. His head covered in what appeared to be some sort of crude helmet.
As the body crumpled to the ground the helmet portion rolled to Jades feet. She kicked it out of the way. “Hey, watch where you’re flinging your body parts!”
The madman gave a shrug, as he spun low, bringing his leg out and around as he did so, taking out another warrior’s knees with a blow to the back of them. The man who never even stood a chance met his fate as Macrons saber, uncharacteristically stabbed clean and somewhat mercifully through the heart, the body falling where it had been slain. “Better?” He smirked, turning around to take on another opponent.
Jade moved from the small pile of kills from the first wave and moved up behind Sai, kicking at a body that was somehow propped up on its knees still, knocking it over. “Much.” She joked.
Tsainetomos’ energy still ran raw with the flow of murderous discipline. His batons in his hands he struck swiftly and fiercely. One fighter came up to him and he let the man get close, almost to within striking range, when he faked the man out by moving as though to kick him in the abdomen, Sai’s body suddenly changed course, bringing one of the still extinguished baton hilts to the fighters’ temple, it was a clean kill, but it got the effect he wanted. The others in the crew who had seen the almost too easy and what he sensed in them as unfair kill, drove their sense of purpose to new heights, and they rushed at him with feverous intent. He had no doubt he would be victorious, after all, they had anger, but they had no idea how to use or control like he did. They wouldn’t be the match he was looking for, but perhaps they would somehow lead him to the match he was searching for.
Jade pivoted on the balls of her feet, almost looking like a ballet dancer as she spun out and around from her position to better her battle stance. As the first few warriors fell, the three quickly realized that the fighting styles of the ones behind them were more developed, not to the extent of years of training, but enough to notice that someone was indeed leading and even possibly providing basic training. A puff of dirt flew up from her feet as she danced around with the fighter. He was taller than her, by at least a foot, and he carried himself as though that meant he would be victorious and the first one to win against the three dark siders who had sensed their ambush from behind. A quiver in the force told her to duck and move to the right as blaster fire aimed in her direction, bared down on her. As she moved her opponent followed, as though hoping he would not only miss the direct line of fire but also to change the aim of the one firing it, so as to take her out as his challenger. Using her saber she deflected the next beam away, kicking out with her right foot at the same time, connecting with the lower section of his body. The man took a few steps back from the momentum of her kick, allowing her to push off the ground with her feet and bring down her saber, cutting the fighter in an angle from left shoulder to about mid rib cage. As she turned, a blaster landed in front of her boot as though it had been tossed.
Macron gave her a slight nod of his head. “How do you feel about weapons?”
Jade gave him a mischievous grin to say she would get even at some point.
Sadow Landing Zone
Owyhyee, New Tython
“Very funny, Master,” chuckled Jade Sadow. All around them Hell was raised. Although the Sadow forces were far superior to their opponents, they did not have the sheer numbers that the locals did. They fought furiously, and those natives that encountered them, or their soldiers, died. But there were so very many. And having Jedi leading them made it even worse.
“Our orders are to rendezvous with the Taldryan forces and Ashia,” commented Macron as he absentmindedly kicked a corpse out of the way. “It appears the others have done so.” The mad Sith noticed a waft of smoke drifting from behind a nearby hillock. His comlink crackled inside his helmet. Macron touched a finger to his temple as he thoughtfully listened to the high-gain signal from his internal armor circuits. Beside him, Tsainetomo and Jade dispatched two more of the barbaric natives with a twin dance of death. The rush to attack the Sadow LZ from the rear appeared to have been abated, for now.
"Anyone read me?" the familiar voice said. "This is Dakhan One. Come in? If you can hear me, I'm in a field somewhere."
“I copy you, Dakhan One.” replied Macron from his helm comlink. “This is the Alchemist. I see the smoke. We are en route to your coordinates.”
“What’s going on?” asked Tsainetomo calmly as he took stock of his weaponry. “I must say, they were not worthy. I learned very little from them.” The Obelisk regarded the slain with an air of near-boredom.
Jade sauntered up, casually stepping over- or on- the abundant bodies. She chewed some sort of gum and punctuated her words with the *pop* of a red bubble. “Anoat Blood Gum,” she smirked. “Helps me concentrate. So. What’s the word?” Her reddened tongue swept the remains of the scarlet gum from her pointed teeth as she smiled evilly.
“Locke is down that way,” replied Macron as he pointed. “Also according to the com chatter it appears the LZ has reached a static situation. It holds, for now especially since the threat of the rear assault has been nullified. We have confirmed reports of well-equipped Mandalorian soldiers among them, at least near the front lines.”
“Our next move is clear then. We must secure Locke. The boy is alright, as far as leaders go.” Tsainetomo smiled coldly. “For now.”
“Agreed,” replied Jade resolutely. "Damn fine pilot too."
“Agreed,” Macron canted. “However, I sense something that may intrigue you near to the crash, my cousin. The Mark you so hate speaks to me, and it speaks of one worthy of your violent attentions.”
“Jedi?” asked Tsainetomo with renewed battle-lust in his weird tripartite eyes. “That would be satisfying.”
“No,” giggled Macron as the three killers began to jog towards the hill. “Local shaman. Native Force-user,” snickered the madman. “Of some skill. And his three acolytes.”
“Too bad for them,” remarked Jade as they broke into a combat run. “Time to die.”
Naga Sadow Forward Operating Base
The Regulators sat in a circle waiting for their Sergeant to show up with their rations for the next few hours. The Mandalorian walked up with his arms full of military ready-to-eat meals. The Obelisk handed them out to his team, so that they could eat. With one left for him, he sat down to eat. As Roxas sat down to eat, a chill ran up his spine.
“That devil woman, talking about me again” he said to himself.
Cyril turned to her Sergeant “What did you say, Sir?”
Roxas realized he must have said it louder than he thought “Nothing, just thinking aloud.”
She shrugged and went back to eating. The team was exhausted and nearly starved. Most of them had never seen combat like this. Roxas was used to war, to him it was almost like a lullaby. The Sergeant watched his team as they ate. He felt that if there ever was any time to prove themselves that this war was that time. He had noticed that a few of his team were doing well and he felt proud of their success up to this point. Blaster bolts were still flying toward the FOB, but they were steadily decreasing.
Roxas’s comm link chirped with the alert tone on the private summit channel, so he answered eager to find out what the problem was.
“Alert Message to all Summit Members of Naga Sadow…” The voice started “…Senoir Director Sonjie has crashed his x-wing. Reports state that he is alive and that Lord Macron Sadow is on his way to the crash site.”
Roxas felt as if he should help his senior officer, but with the news that the crazy Alchemist was already on his way there gave the Obelisk some peace of mind. He knew that Macron was dedicated to his Clan and allies, and that Macron was more than capable of handling the job on his own.
Outside Looking In
War is noisy. The sound of blaster fire was echoing from almost every direction on a compass. If someone stood back and watched, then they could describe it as watching fireworks with blue and red bolts of energy being exchanged. The bodies of the dead were stacked up and used to protect the living from enemy fire. The ground was soaked in blood and littered with body parts. New craters were scattered across the landscape and more were being created, either with air strikes or artillery rounds. Many groups were fighting the Jedi; the natives, and the Mandalorians of Ordo, but none were conquering the enemy like the disciples Naga Sadow. The Sadowans had already set up a forward base of operations and a stable landing zone for their armed forces.
Two clicks outside Menat Ombo
The Aedile tossed the head of the latest farmer she had decapitated on top of the nearby pile of blue heads, the three members of the Phoenix Phyle doing the same as the Flamewind passed by overhead, the Taldryan gunship setting the surrounding fields on fire with its turbolasers as it went. The Harakoans had been naive to think the Jedi could be relied on to protect them. Outside the farmstead, the forest where they had set down still roared, painting the horizon red with flames, the crackling audible even at this distance. If not addressed – which she knew it wouldn’t be – the forest fire would spread, forcing more natives to abandon their farms and flee for the outlying grasslands.
Leaving Menat Ombo defenceless.
The Nephilim would hopefully have already cleared most of the city and, much like her and Sadow’s efforts in the surrounding forests, shortly have metaphorically beheaded the Council of Urr. It would only be a matter of time now before they located the Jedi’s hidden bunker. And her husband have his revenge. It was all slowly coming together – even with the Mandalorians unplanned interruption.
As a group of startled nerfs came rushing out of the field ahead of her, chased by an equally startled rancor, a chime sounded on her comlink. It was Shadow. “Ashia,” she said, keying the channel open.
In the pause it took the Taldrya to respond, one of the nerfs staggered into another, almost knocking the youngster to its knees. “We nearly—,” grunted Shadow, who was clearly presently engaged, “—reached Sadow’s position.” Another grunt, then a scream as the comm channel was filled with the thrum of a lightsaber and the hiss of something burning, presumably flesh. “Got ya, goddam nerf herder.” Ashia couldn’t help but laugh given the actual group of nerfs currently fleeing the rancor.
A heavy rumble sounded overhead before Shad continued: “We got problems, Ash,” the Obelisk said, sounding unusually serious, meaning that ‘problem’ must have been an understatement. “The Mandos—”
“I know,” she said, cutting him short, “we had a couple here, too.” It seemed to her, though, that the Mandalorians must have let anyone wear their armour these days, as the pair she had encountered had both been pushovers. It was almost a disappointment.
“No,” said Shad, a blaster bolt sounding over the comlink, “those were just the scouts.” Ashia had to focus to make out what he was saying, the drone above rapidly getting louder. “The main group—”
Shad’s voice was interrupted by an explosion to the north east. Ashia spun, looking toward the grassland where the strike teams from Naga Sadow had established their beachhead: smoke and ash were now rising in giant plumes. “What in the kriff was that?” swore the former Nightsister.
“Reinforcements,” replied Shad. “They have some sort of... battle droids.” Rather than a scream, this time it was a whir, like a machine shutting down. “They’re trying to split us up.” There was a renewed sense of urgency in the man’s voice as more lightsaber strokes crackled over the channel. Distantly, she thought she heard Shad say something about someone being good looking.
While she waited for Shad to continue, Ashia stared at what could only be the landing site of another group of Mandalorians—or perhaps something else. It was a classic pincer manoeuvre. Mandos and Jedi from the front—natives to the rear. Naga Sadow had thought they had it under control...
They were about to get a big wake up call.
Ashia reached out in the Force to her husband... being the Grand Master’s wife had its perks, and she knew far more about what was really going on than anyone from either Taldryan or Naga Sadow.
“That was Halc.” Shad’s voice broke her connection with Muz. “Ash?”
The woman shook her head to clear her thoughts. “Lord Ashen requires my presence elsewhere, but rendezvous your troops at the Sadow base and help them deal with the rest of these natives.”
A brief pause, then Shad replied: “Got it.”
Ashia clipped her comlink back to her belt and looked up at the sky. Reinforcements were on their way. The Jedi and Mandalorians might have thought they were the ones holding all the cards... what fools. A rustle in the long grass behind her brought her attention back to the burning farmstead.
Ashia looked down to see Trevarus and Xanos standing on the edge of the field.
The sorcerer eyed the pile of severed heads behind her. “You’ve been busy.”
She allowed herself a brief laugh. “And you’d better hope the family of the two children who ran by earlier don’t want your heads added to the pile.” She shook her head with mock disapproval. “Even for you, that was cold, Trev, cold.” Whatever had happened, both children had been terrified enough to distract one of the Mandalorians whose helmet was now somewhere in the nearby pile.
“Always in service to the throne, milady,” the sorcerer replied with a small flourish of his hand.
Ashia rolled her eyes. “If only that were true,” she said, dryly. “But at least the local farmers will think twice about regrouping for a second attack.” She paused a moment, then turned to face the new black plume of smoke rising in the north east. “Trev, there’s been a new development.”
“I know,” Trevarus replied, “we ran into the Mandalorians on our way here through the next field.”
Ashia shook her head. “No,” she replied, “the situation has changed.” She paused a second, unused to the expression on Trevarus’s face – the man was not normally taken by surprise. “The Dark Council are on their way.” She explained what Shadow and Muz had told her, about not just the additional supercommandos, but now the battle droids that were appearing across the battlefront. “I need to head west to rendezvous with my cousin when he lands. He’s going after the captain.”
The sorcerer was silent for a moment, his wandering eyes drifting to focus on something beyond the burning horizon. “Very well,” Trevarus said finally, turning his head back to the group from Phoenix Phyle who were still standing alongside the pile of severed heads. “Are your team going with you?”
“They’ll be rejoining Shad and the main group—” She was cut off by a roar as another rancor came hurtling out of the burning crops. She sighed and shook her head. “With their attention focused on the natives,” Ashia continued, “Naga Sadow risk being flanked by the new wave of Mandalorians.”
Instead of reply, Trevarus shut his eyes. “There... is a Harakoan village... not far,” the sorcerer said, his voice slightly strained as he peered into the Force, “if we...” The man was silent for a moment, the tattoo on his forehead creasing as he clearly focused on some unknown permutation. He opened his eyes again and glanced sideways at his apprentice, whatever his question was going unspoken.
“The girl is not as good at covering her tracks,” replied the Falleen cryptically.
Trevarus nodded and turned back to Ashia. “We will deal with the Harakoan village.”
Ashia looked between the two Dark Jedi Masters and then shrugged. “I’d say there was something you weren’t telling me, but what’s new?” She was used to the pair’s riddles. “I must get going.” She turned to the lone rancor that was still blundering about nearby. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“I wouldn’t think of it, milady,” she heard Trevarus call behind her as she started toward the rancor.
Sadow Landing Zone
Owyhyee, New Tython
Jade cast a sideways glance at one of the bodies as she stepped on its chest, coming up alongside the other two. Tsainetomo radiated his hopes for a good battle, something that was actually a challenge, something that allowed him to grow in his abilities, rather than rust by teaching those less experienced then he and hoping for a victory, in the ways of true battle. She popped another bubble and headed towards the smoke. It was time to save one of their own.
“Local Shaman huh?” Jade replaced her saber on her hip. “Sounds interesting.” She cast a look towards Macron, “Wonder how he’d fair against you in certain departments?” She laughed at the look he gave her.
“You might get to find out first hand.” His eyes narrowed though he smirked, his words holding double meaning.
Jade put up her hands and waved them jokingly. Tsainetomo shook his head mockingly at the two as they took off.
Crouching low as they climbed up the small hill, the three Dark Jedi looked over at the crash site. The smoke was beginning to turn a greyish white, signalling the wreckage was running out of things to burn. Around the site were a few casual, what she was calling, drones. But mixed in and moving to investigate further were three individuals. They weren’t overally tall, or so it looked from their current position, but stood out due to the way they moved and their robes. The three were more cautious as though taking more of the situation in, though the movement of their strange robes suggested their hands and arms were moving, likely dealing in some local magic folklore.
“Those three must be the Acolytes you were talking about Mac.” Jade motioned with her head.
“Hmmm...and that one over there must be the shaman,” Sai motioned, bringing their attention to the far right. A man was standing as though watching how everything was playing out, though was obliviously excited for the possible catch within the crash. Tsainetomo’s voice was dripping with intrigue. He hoped the shaman would have at least half the skills of his cousin, than the man might just be the fight he was looking for.
“So, I think Tsainetomo wants the shaman...you calling any dibs Macron?” Jade looked at the madman.
“I’ll take the ugly one.” Macron commented as they crested the hill.
Jade laughed as she followed him, “But they are all ugly!”
Naga Sadow Forward Operating Base
Mud, blood and oil splattered across his face and kimono, Manji withdrew his long-saber from the chest of a youngish Kel Dor Jedi Knight who had darted across the battlefield to challenge the Pontifex. The Knight had put up a good fight, but hadn't expected Manji to blast the churned mud beneath his feet with a wave of telekinesis, dropping him onto his back. The finishing blow had sizzled straight through his chest and into the mud beneath. Looking up with an exasperated growl, Manji whacked his shoto through the neck of a battledroid that was running towards him as another group of Mandalorians crested the hill towards the brawling mass of Sadowans, Jedi, Mandalorians and battledroids that were slowly turning this part of the field into a mass grave.
The Keibatsu had plenty of experience with large-scale battles- Kyataru, Antei, the battles on Salas V, to name but a few- but he usually preferred to leave the tactical thinking to other members of the Clan and lose himself in the slaughter. The sight of yet more Mandalorians rushing to reinforce the enemy, with dropships still hovering over the horizon to deposit their own cargo of warriors or droids, suggested that the Sadowans would soon be overwhelmed if they were not reinforced, and that Manji should probably start considering his own immediate future. He was, after all, mostly here to settle a grudge, and the Nautolan's absence from the field suggested that he would be holed up inside Menat Ombo like the stinking coward he was.
A sudden bellowing roar from the east cut into his musings. Turning to face the sound, Manji felt a grin slink across his face as a rancor smashed into a crowd of Mandalorians and Jedi on the eastern side of the battle, huge arms sweeping several armoured figures aside. The creature roared again, at close-range, the sheer sonic force of the roar bludgeoning the ear drums of those in front of it. On its back sat a war-painted figure who the Pontifex recognised, his one eye lent clarity through the Force.
"Ashia. About time."
The Sadowans, filled with a renewed sense of vigour as Ashia and her rancor smashed through the enemy and headed westwards leaving devastation in their wake, let out a war-cry of their own, scattered voices mingling over the clamour of battle. Reinforcement was surely on the way, and their pride would not let them wait meekly for it to arrive.
Secure Bunker, Sadow FOB
Owyhyee, New Tython
The makeshift command center had been secured well by the senior members of the Special Operations Group; their dedication to the Clan in these moments made a difference, although the assistance of the eager Journeymen of the Clan had helped. The "bunker", if the tent covering the entrenched Command could be called a bunker, was buzzing with activity as Jeric and Mirado argued over the best course of action, Robert spoke plainly with Astronicus and the other would-be advisors tried to add their own two cents wherever possible. Add this internal chaos to the sudden arrival of the full Mandalorian army and suddenly everything had become absurd. Their younger Summit was really beginning to show, though in truth the shift to and from their status as a Clan had to have been taxing on the few who now led the legions of his Disciples.
Yet amongst it all, the Consul had remained silent. Almost serene amongst the noise that surrounded him, his thoughts almost elsewhere as he took in the scenario that had fallen into his lap. Things had not gone anywhere near what he had anticipated, what he had been led to believe had never occurred and what occurred had never been discussed. A bemuzed smiled crossed the Miraluka's face for but a second, secrets apparently came regardless of your rank or allegiance. The Miraluka's sightless eyes seemed to focus upon the small holoprojector giving those present an overlay of the field, an ironic motion from the Miraluka as he spoke, "Jeric, Mirado. Please quit your squabbling in front of our Lord. Ensure your channels remain open with us and get out there leading your Houses from the field. We'll need every body we can get out on that field."
As the pair seemed to nod before taking their leave, Methyas continued, "Bob, see if you can co-ordinate the Sons in taking charge of the stragglers who are caught up by their lust for battle. We'll need a co-ordinated offensive with the Taldryan assets."
As Methyas finished speaking, another voice chimed up in the entrance to the bunker, "I'd say you will. The Council appears to have a vested interest in your successes."
The Miraluka's eyebrows furrowed slightly as Halcyon, Deputy Grand Master of the Brotherhood entered their bunker; closely flanked by Shaz'air. If Halcyon had arrived to assist Sadow and Taldryan in this affair...either things had gone poorly in orbit, or his Master had mis-stepped somewhere. Regardless, this was not a set-back.
Methyas nodded courteously to the new arrivals as he greeted them, "Welcome esteemed Taldrya, I hope the mess outside wasn't too troublesome to sort through."
The attempt at humour seemed lost on the pair for the moment at least before Methyas motioned for them to give him a moment, his voice reaching a channel separate from the ground, "Admiral, signal for our secondary task force to make the jump from their local staging. We'll need them in the air and on the ground ASAP."
A simple chirp responded as Methyas turned to face the Deputy and Taldryan Quaestor once more, "Gentlemen, how shall we proceed?"
Naga Sadow FOB
Owyhyee, New Tython
“Jeric, Mirado. Please quit your squabbling in front of our Lord. Ensure your channels remain open with us and get out there leading your Houses from the field. We'll need every body we can get out on that field.” Naga Sadow’s Consul final spoke amongst the chaos inside the makeshift Command Center. Jeric looked over at his obelisk counterpart and the two nodded. Bolting out of the bunker, it didn’t take more than thirty seconds before Jeric activated the blood red blade of his lightsaber. Mirado broke off from the Sith and headed towards the rear of the bunker where his forces were. Jeric worked his way towards the forward defense lines were many Journeymen from Marka Ragnos and hundreds of soldiers were holding the enemies at bay. Deflecting blaster bolts, Jeric final made it to OP Marka Ragnos.
“Director Cyrin, we are holding ground against the natives,” the DSOG Commander stop as he heard one of the soldiers yelling “Mandos” from the front lines. “The Jedi stopped advancing after we took out the squad of mandalorians that showed up. Unfortunately it sounds like more just showed up.”
“Roger, what are our numbers?” the Sith said starring out into the front lines.
“We have an entire battalion of soldiers along with a handful of your journeymen.”
“Do you know if Senior Commanders Farron and Pepoi are down there?” the Sith ask about two of his best warriors.
“Senior Commander Farron has yet to show up and Senior Commander Pepoi was last seen on the rear lines with the Regulators.”
Jeric nodded and looked out into the battlefield. It was chaos, but among it he saw the twin silver blades of Manji dancing about. From the wood line he could see at least a dozen jedi and many more Mandalorians advancing on his forces. I am gonna to need Araxis and Kano here now. Jeric thought to himself.
“Recall Senior Commander Pepoi and find out were the hell Senior Commander Farron is, I need them both!” the Sith ordered his Field Commander before activating his saber and hurrying out into the chaos.
The Sith danced among the chaos deflecting blaster bolts and striking down any native that came within range. Fighting side by side with two of younger journeymen was right were Jeric wanted to be, leading by example. “Lord Quaestor, are we losing this fight?” the younger one asked.
“I am just a mere soldier of darkness, an instrument of the dark side, on this day no need for formality. As long as I am here though I will make sure we do not loose.” Jeric said proudly right as he cut into a native from shoulder to hip. Seconds later an explosion thru Jeric to his back. He looked over and saw the two journeymen lifeless on the ground.
Recovering the Sith noticed two Mandalorians and a Jedi. One of the mandos was missing his jetpack’s missile. The other shot the bodies of the two journeymen just to make sure. The Jedi noticed Jeric and rushed towards him. But Jeric was not about to play games. With a quick motion Jeric unleashed a blast of force energy right at the charging Jedi. The blast picked the jedi off his feet and threw him back towards the two manalorians. One of the mandalorians was caught by the blast and thrown to his feet the other launched himself into the air and began firing at Jeric. The Sith easily blocked and deflected each bolt then noticed the Jedi was again charging him. Jeric timed it perfectly deflecting one of the mandalorian’s bolts right into the ground making a cloud of dust. From up in the air the mandalorian couldn’t see, but inside red and green danced as Jeric and the jedi clashed. The mandalorian landed next to his partner and the two began moving towards the dust cloud. As it began to settle the two could only see one blade, a crimson blade. They opened fire, Jeric twirled and twisted his blade blocking the shots. One made it thru and struck Jeric in the leg but he paid it no mind. Again one of the mando’s leapt into the air, the one on the ground activated his flamethrower causing Jeric to roll backwards. As the Sith came back to his feet the jetpack missile from the airborne mando exploded in the air no less than two meters from his face. The sounds of the battlefield faded, everything was suddenly dark, as Jeric laid motionless in the mud.
As Tiberius took a deep breathe, he could feel the urge to jump with the others, but he was under orders from the Summit to stay behind in the Drop Ship.
He had his holo-gram at hand and he hauled Jeric, “Sir do you want me to go down with you Guys as yet”. Tiberius sounded afraid and worried, about his fellow Sadowans.
The answer come as quickly as the Dark Jedi Knight had asked the question “Tiberius stay were you are, do your best up there and keep the enemy, were they are at arm’s reach”. Jeric sounded confident and at the same time firm.
With his instructions Tiberius looked at the ground, once more and grabbed one of the Drop Ships automatic, cannon gun’s and began to fire at the enemy below, careful not to hit any of the Dark Jedi below, he could see where he was from the array of sabers flashing lighting the air crimson, blue, purple, of the Dark Jedi, the enemy had the same array of weapons as the Dark Jedi, it was difficult to figure who was who, but Tiberius did what he did best reached out to the Force, and he once again looked down and saw the battle field and where people were.
He began to fire the gun, from the Drop Ship and the crimson rays from the gun came to life, firing with some angry confidence he found his target, at the enemy and were he hit them they started to fly into the air and scream out loud in pain as he hit them one by one.
He could see the enemy was dying, but there was to many to kill by himself, and he could not keep up firing as the weapon would soon run out of ammo.
Owyhyee, New Tython
Locke’s X-Wing Crash Site
The Children of Sadow walked towards the smoldering wreckage of Locke’s craft, strolling as if they had just emerged from under a summer squall rather than the storms of war being waged at their rear. The trio of natives regarded them as the number of invaders dwindled from three to two, the dark one peeling off towards their shaman, his strides confident and nonchalant.
The trio took up a defensive posture around the wreck; they were of the mind that their people’s time of tribulation was over, as too often had their fates been decided by outlanders – the ones who called themselves Tythonians and their Jedi ilk, namely – and now, this new crop who brought death from the skies and refused, like their predecessors, to come to a harmonious accord with them and their verdant world.
It was too bad that Jade and Macron did not share the blue-skinned natives’ conviction.
The Krath and Sith each bolstered their muscles with the Force. A practice done out of habit, really, as the acolytes had no answer for even their most rudimentary attacks. Jade was upon her target first, her lightsaber leaving the Harakoan’s corpse hissing and smoking. The other two made to set upon her, and had taken only one step before Macron’s command of the Dark Side hefted them bodily into the air and crashing into one another, once, twice, before they too were deposited upon the grassy plain, their corpses broken and bloodied.
The shaman watched the proceedings in horror, then returned his attention to the last of them, who was nearly upon his position. Hefting a great wooden staff, he, too, took up a defensive posture, and his face couldn’t hide his chagrin at being ignored.
“Hail! Locke!” shouted Tsainetomo through cupped hands. The Son cast about, as if looking for a lost family member (which, after a fashion, he was), and then saw the look of incredulity plastered upon the shaman’s face. “Oh, I almost forgot you were there. I’ll be with you in a moment, I just have to – hey!” Sai’s tone changed from dismissive to relieved as Locke, still clad in his slightly charred flight suit, poked his head up out of a thicket of tall grasses. Tsainetomo waved him over, gesturing back towards the crash site where Macron and Jade awaited.
“Just like the rest of them; haughty, arrogant!” denounced the shaman, casting a baleful glare upon the Keibatsu. “You come here just to take what isn’t yours…just like the colonists and their bloody peacekeepers!” The shaman’s denouncement fell upon deaf, unfeeling ears.
“That’s where you’re wrong, shaman. This isn’t about any of that. I don’t care about your people, nor do I care about this planet. This is about you, about me, about this moment in time. That’s where your concern should lie. It was you and yours who allowed this piteous cycle of capitulation to perpetuate. You shouldn’t have given in to the Tythonians, nor should you have the Jedi.” Tsainetomo’s voice was flat as he laid the Harakoans' foibles bare. “Had you not…” Sai shrugged, hefting his batons as he did so. “Well, let’s just say I may never have had occasion to cross your path, and your day might have gone better.”
The shaman was not without his confidence, even though death itself radiated from his addressor. “Ah, but if more like you were like your witch out there,” – Sai could only assume the shaman meant Ashia astride her rancor, an insult that the Keibatsu was sure not to brook – “you might have more respect for life, for our lands, and leave us in peace!” A low hum began to emanate from the Harakoan as he fell fully under the thrall of his race’s particular Force talent. The sonance ability, much like Beast Control, could be useful on a planet like this, teeming with life as it was. Sai didn’t so much hear the shaman as he felt the vibrations in the Force…which were soon punctuated by rumbles in the earth.
Sai took a breath as a giant war-beast, sporting six limbs and very basic leather armor, burst from a thicket and lumbered towards the shaman. The shaman, displaying a fantastic amount of agility, leapt skyward, and executing a nigh-perfect somersault, landed adroitly upon the beast’s back. Triumph flashed in the blue-skin’s eyes for the briefest of moments as he pronounced, “Leave now, interloper, or I cannot be held responsible for – ah?!”
The shaman’s warning caught in his throat as he tracked Tsainetomo, who himself had leapt skyward along a similar trajectory as the shaman did seconds ago. Mid somersault, the Obelisk ignited his left-handed ‘saber, the orange beam flashing and gouging a sunset-hued trench of ruination in the warbeast’s head from snout to stern; the skull fell apart, connective tissue and gore spouting in a spray of ichor as some ghastly blossom opening itself to the Tythonian sun. The beast's body canted forward, and Sai’s right handed saber hilt met the shaman’s skull whip-crack sharp. The shaman’s eyelids fluttered as the orbs themselves rolled backwards into his skull, unconsciousness claiming him as his blue body crashed unceremoniously into the earth, an ugly and bruised welt blooming on his head where Sai's hilt had struck it.
Jade and Macron joined Sai and Locke as the Keibatsu extinguished his one lit blade and fit the hilts back together. The Alchemist let a long whistle escape his tattooed lips as Jade asked if Sai was going to finish the shaman off.
“No, he isn’t,” Macron said. “He’s going to let this one go.” He’d quickly picked up on Sai’s intent by years of shared fighting.
“These are nomadic peoples, Jade,” Sai began. “Truthfully, our quarrel isn’t with the Harakoan’s, per se, but with the Tythonians and their Jedi pets. I’ve fed enough into his skull to plant the seeds of doubt. He’ll go back, tell the tale, and we may end up having a trump card to play in the days to come.”
Macron nodded sagely. “Hearts and minds, my apprentice,” he advised Jade, tapping his temple twice. “Win their hearts and minds,” he started.
“…and their arses will follow.” Locke finished, nodding in admiration at the Keibatsu. A killing machine, Sai had become. Mindless? Far from it.
A manicured finger to a delicate ear told of Jade’s receiving an incoming transmission. “Gents,” she said between snaps and pops of her gum, “HQ needs us back at the FOB. Something about reining in those ‘dogs o’ war’ we let slip.” A knowing smile crossed her lips, as they all had at one time been young to the ways of Sadow and eager to prove their mettle by shedding blood by the gallon. They needed to focus their efforts.
Locke retrieved his remaining gear from the ruined snubfighter and before long, the quartet started an easy lope back to the FOB.
Three clicks out from Menat Ombo
The looks on the two Harakoan children’s faces when they had burst into Kalia’s home had been expected. The planet was being invaded, after all; inevitably, the children would be scared. True as that was, however, Kalia had quickly realised that this had been something different, something worse. Between their tearful sobs, Blease and Lorey had recounted the story of what had happened with Syara in the farmstead just outside the woods, and how their aunt had refused to leave the burning fields.
“She just wouldn’t listen!” cried Lorey. “She didn’t want to go!”
The small girl clung onto Kalia’s legs, tears streaming down her cheeks as she told the woman she was sorry for leaving Syara in that stable, that they didn’t mean to, that they’d had no choice! Syara, they said, had just kept talking about their nanna, mistaking Blease for their grandmother, and didn’t even seem to remember the fire! Eventually, the children had managed to find the strength to drag themselves away, having to flee into the forest to get away from the roaring red flames. Blease had described how they had both watched, powerless, as the crop fire reached the stable, and... and...
Kalia patted the boy gently. “It’s okay,” she said softly, “you’re okay. That’s all that matters now.” It had always been inevitable that the Harakoans would be caught in the crossfire between the Jedi and the Sith. It was always the innocent ones who suffered.
In their retelling of what had happened out in the farm, Blease had also confirmed Kalia’s worst fear:
Her old master had finally found them.
The woman looked into the mirror on the wall. It had hardly been cleaned in years. She hated mirrors because they were an ever present reminder of her past, of all the things she wished she was able to forget. The raven-haired woman slowly shut her eyes and blinked before looking back into the half-reflection that was now visible in the smeared section of the pane which she had wiped with the back of her hand. Her emerald eyes stared back at her; they looked haunted, but then, she supposed, they probably were.
It had been ten years since she’d turned her back on everything she once believed in. In truth, her hesitancy had in fact probably set in much earlier, maybe as far back as the Hammer’s betrayal when she found herself trapped on the strange world of Klind’arith nearly two decades ago. But whenever her doubts had first started, the straw that finally broke the eopie’s back remained the same.
Blease tugged at her waist. “Aunty Kalia...” mumbled the boy, shakily. His eyes were still damp from his tears.
Kalia smiled before she knelt and picked the boy up. “It’s okay,” she repeated, hating herself for the lie. It was people like Blease and Lorey who she’d wanted to save when she foolishly turned down that dark road twenty years ago. Back then, her master had promised her the future, vowing to train her in the arts of the seers. However, it had all been a lie. There had been no magic powers. The only ‘mark’ she had earned for her gullibility was the foul brand that had been forever etched into her forehead.
In the mirror behind Blease, the third eye stared back at them both, mocking her.
How many different ways had she tried to remove the accursed thing? When she first came to New Tython – which she had found by using her insight, not his – she had pleaded with the Knights of Odan-Urr for help. Unlike the puritans in Skywalker’s order, the Jedi Knights in Menat Ombo had tried their best, searching through the ancient holocrons and scrolls which they had managed to collect for something, anything that might be of use. But the Tythonians’ efforts had all been in vain. Whatever kind of ink or old Sith poison had been used, the stain had proven indelible.
She only knew of one man who had ever removed the tattoo. But he was now leading the very armies invading this world. A Dark Lord of the Sith was unlikely to want to help a Krath deserter.
Not that it made much difference. It was one thing for someone of Muz Ashen’s power to break a Force bond between Master and apprentice; it was another altogether for someone of her relative strength to finally sever the tie that had bound her to Trevarus Caerick for the past two decades.
She had done her best to hide.
But in the end, though, it seemed her best had not been good enough.
At the other end of the bedroom, Jaspen was presently strapping on his armour, which consisted of two leather shoulder pads and a cuirass made from the skin of one of the Harakoans’ six-legged war beasts. It was hardly something which would resist a lightsaber, but mobility was more important than to try and mimic the Mandalorians that Michael Halcyon had recruited to ‘protect’ them.
There was another man Kalia didn’t like, but that was for entirely different reasons.
“He’s coming,” Jaspen said, his voice unusually stiff. “After all this time searching...”
She brushed her hair over her forehead with her fingers to cover up the tattoo, then walked over to Jaspen and put an arm around his shoulder. “Remember,” Kalia began soothingly, “there is no emotion, there is—”
“Peace,” Jaspen finished. “I know.” He let out a sigh, relaxing slightly as he turned around to take her into his arms. “It’s just...” Jaspen looked her in the eyes. “I’m scared, Kalia.”
She looked back at him, her own composure no doubt melting away.
Back when Jaspen arrived on New Tython three years ago, it was understandable he had wanted to speak with her of all Tythonians. Like her, he had shared the same tattoo on his forehead; unlike her, however, he had been born with it. Ever since a boy, he had been searching for someone to explain what it meant, who had given it to him, why. When he first walked into her home in the woods, he had been carrying a wanted poster for the same man whose face haunted her dreams each night.
Sadly for Jaspen, Kalia had not had any answers. Only more questions.
But they shared the same goal.
Jaspen had always seen himself as a Jedi, but the tattoo had kept him locked outside the halls of Yavin 4. Regardless of what the Order thought, Kalia thought he was the perfect Jedi Knight, resisting the dark taint he carried with him at all times. Indeed, had it not been for Jaspen, she was sure Trevarus would have found her years ago, but Jaspen had learned long ago how to hold back the darkness. It gave her a smug sense of satisfaction to think that each time her old master came close to finding her, the more she and Jaspen clouded his mind’s eye, making Trevarus powerless.
What good was a seer when he couldn’t see?
Finally, Kalia’s eyes softened and she smiled at the man she cared most about in the whole galaxy. “Don’t be,” she said at last, with the tiniest shake of her head, “he’s just an illusionist.”
“I know...” Jaspen replied, slowly, “I’m just... afraid of the answers.”
“Don’t be,” she repeated, more confidently this time. “Trevarus might think he knows it all, but he doesn’t.” She hugged Jaspen back tightly. “The only thing Trevarus Caerick knows is how to lie.”
Jaspen smiled back, reaching up to brush the strand of hair away from her eyes. “You shouldn’t hide your face,” he said softly, stroking her tattoo, “nothing will ever take away how beautiful you are.”
A brief chuckle escaped Kalia’s lips before Jaspen cupped her face and touched his lips to hers.
Battle Field of the Planet
With the ammo running out quickly Tiberius had no choice, he asked the Pilot to lower the drop ship a bit more and circle were the rest of the Summit were fighting hard against the enemy.
And as the Drop Ship landed on the point the Dark Jedi Knight, gave a loud “Hiss” and jumped from the side of the Drop Ship, as he was falling from the ship the Knight flicked the switch on his saber, and the saber came to life and he saw the crimson blade, this gave Tiberius a warm feeling of hope and he looked down to where he saw going to jump, and did a summersault in mid-air as he landed in his two feet he found that there were, the enemy around him he looked to the side and saw that he was about to be struck by a blue saber, he looked at the blue blade coming toward him and stay there for a moment and ducked down and swiftly, took out the enemies legs as he fell Tiberius gave out a “War Cry”, and plunged the saber through the enemies heart, Tiberius saw the enemy face became strained with pain and he dead quickly.
Tiberius turned quickly and rasied his saber above his head and struck another enemy across the face the smell of burning filled the air and the Knight could see blue crimson purple blades flashing in an array of colour filling the air, like a fire work display, the gun and cannons were making the same display, which was fantastic display before any-ones eyes.
- New Tython
There was a shuffle of footsteps in the New Tythonian forests, so quiet as to be blamed on the wind, or worse on a day like this. The battle had enjoined hours earlier, and had shown no signs of slowing, which was just as well. The Ordoan mercenaries had received their orders the moment they’d set foot on the ground, orders which sent them circling about the position of one of the groups of Dark Jedi. They would spearhead an eventual assault, throwing their enemy into disarray so that reinforcements could clear them. It was a risky plan, but worth the gamble. After all, you have to play with fire to extinguish it.
“We’re five klicks from their position,” the scout said, his voice hushed even through comms. He slung his rifle, and signaled their precision shooter to follow him. They climbed the hillside, and laid down, both using their in-armor macrobinoculars to scout the Jedi’s forward oberservation base.
“Too far for a laser rifle,” the shooter said, stating the obvious. Whoever was paying them was expecting results in the worst possible way, and he wasn’t too keen on picking the wrong fight to satisfy their client’s bloodlust. “But I see a hide about eight hundred meters southeast of their position, should give me plenty of space and visibility. “
“I’ll work out an approach,” the scout said “Cover me.” And with a nod from the shooter, the scout slithered down the hill on his stomach before pulling himself up in a low draw, and became one with the trees. It was several minutes before he commed back to his squad, having found a difficult, but not impossible route.
“Recon to squad, we have an approach.” He said, and made his way back towards his team, keeping low and quiet. There was enough trouble out here, he didn’t want to add to it.
“Acknowledged Recon,” came the voice of the squad leader. “Rifle, bring us up.” He ordered, and expected very quickly to see his precision shooter arrive to deliver them to their next rally point.
“Rifle,” he said again. “Rifle, acknowledge.” There was a tinge of concern in his voice, but nothing too serious. They’d seen much, and this place, while dangerous, wasn’t any worse than any other place they’d ‘visited’. The hazards were simply different. When another five minutes had passed, that’s when concern became paranoia.
The squad leader signaled the rest of his team, and they began heading towards the direction their scout and shooter had gone. The going was slow as neither of the men were prone to making it easy to be tracked, but the ridgeline wasn’t that far away either.
“Alpha,” Their scout said over the comms after a moment. “I found Rifle.” He sounded green, even over the comms. “This is, this is sick boss.”
There was a flurry of movement then, as the squad made a controlled rush towards the ridgeline, getting almost there before they spotted their scout. He was standing over their shooter, helmet off, and near a puddle of vomit.
Their shooter was front down on the ground, with a jagged semicircle cut into the very base of his skull, his scalp was missing, and his head was jerked at an unwholesome angle. All of his ammunition and his weapon were missing, as well as his jump pack.
“What did this?” the medic asked, knowing full well she wasn’t necessary. “Natives?”
“No,” the leader said. “They’re more interested in killing Jedi.”
Their heavy gunner turned, looking up into the trees for a moment. Satisfied, he flicked the safety off of his weapon, and took a knee. “Can you track whoever did this?” He asked, hoping to let his lover cut loose.
The scout looked around the body of their rifleman, just a couple of meters from where he was last seen alive, and scowled. “Nothing leading anywhere, just some mangled bootprints, might have been the killer, might have been Rifle’s. On an off chance, the Scout flicked his thermal imaging system on, and began snooping around. “Nothing on thermal either.”
“Hey,” said their medic, as she dusted off something small and slightly grenade like, though nothing like any explosive she’d ever seen before. It was painted matte green and black, and had she not stepped on it, she wouldn’t have noticed it.
Inside his helmet, the squad leader’s eyes grew wide. He knew exactly what it was, and why it was there. He rushed to the Medic, grabbed it out of her hands, and threw it over the ridgeline. “It’s a comm tracker, they’re used to mark places for orbital bombardment, we need to move, NOW.”
- Up in space
- Bridge of the Final Way
“Commander, the locator just moved,” came the call from weapons control. “Your cousin works fast.”
“That he does,” Teu said with a malicious look on her face. “Open fire on the last stable lock before the locator moved. Sixty meter kill zone.”
“Aye,” came from the weapons officer as he green lit the port side batteries of the RSD up, raining hell and damnation on the planet below.
This went on for just the shortest of seconds before Teu made a cutting gesture across her throat with her hand. “Taldryan is moving forces into the area. We don’t need to fight them off as well.”
Owyhyee, New Tython
The battle was intensifying, more mandalorians had shown up and more jedi and natives were starting to emerge from the woodline. Most of those wielding lightsabers weren’t even jedi. Odan-Urr was desperate to win this war, sending anyone who had a connection to the force, trained or not, into battle. Two dropships both full with a fresh complement of DSOG Troopers touched down. The Overlord watched from the FOB as more and more of his loyal servants rushed into battle. Sadow’s Pro-Consul got on the comms and began getting SITREPs from the two field commanders, Mirado and Jeric.
“Rear-lines holding, running low on supplies, reinforcements from Taldryan just arrived, Mandalorian numbers dropping, steady flow of jedi and natives. Rear-lines extended five-zero meters. Permission to ignite the forest.” Mirado responded to the Pro-Consul.
“Supplies en-route, ignition is a go once our people are clear of the woodline. Sadow One Actual needs you to return to the FOB, special detail.”
“Thats a good copy Sadow One Bravo, I’ll be en-route a few mikes. Sadow Three Alpha out.” Mirado closed the comlink and began briefing his Lieutenant.
The sounds of the battlefield slowly began returning, Jeric could hear a high pitch noise, then the distance screams and blaster shots slowly got louder and louder. He could hear a DSOG Trooper ask his Sergeant if they should leave him there in the mud. The Sergeant replied “One of his own will aid him, we can’t do nothing for him but fight!” As his hearing fully came about he could hear is comlink.
“Sadow Two Alpha, do you read? Sadow Two Alpha this is One Bravo, come in.”
Jeric tried to open his eyes, it felt like there were hundred pounds on each eyelid. As his eyelids opened he felt noting but pain, tremendous pain. Above all else, he still saw nothing but darkness. Jeric was blinded by that Mandalorian, he could only assume his face was torn up by the blast. The Sith slowly sat up and felt around for his comlink.
“This is Two Alpha, go ahead.”
“SITREP” the Pro-Consul replied very swiftly.
“Front-lines were holding, mandalorian forces growing, native and jedi number were the same. Supplied good, reinforcements arrived a few mikes ago.”
“Why are something in past-tense?”
“I’ve been wounded, unaware of current situation.”
“Roger, return to FOB for medical.”
“Negative, I will stay out here. Non-life threatening.”
The comlink closed after that. The Pro-Consul was either pissed Jeric refused to obey his order to return or pleased that he would rather stay on the battlefield and show his troops that an injury wasn’t going to stop him. However Jeric had one problem, how would he battle and survive without seeing?
Owyhyee, New Tython
As Jeric slowly stumbled to his feet, his head still spinning, he felt a presence in the Force draw near. There was something familiar about it, something that he couldn't quite put his finger on... until the presence spoke in a familiar growling voice.
"Y'look a bit peaky, Jeric- need a hand?"
Manji. Jeric felt a smile sneak across his features as his wits slowly returned to him and he was able to reach out with the Force, the power painting the outlines of those around him over the blackness behind his eyes. It wasn't as good as normal vision, not yet, but he could at least discern where he was and where the enemy was. Manji glanced once at his Quaestor before jolting his blades to the side to smash back a blaster bolt, recognising Jeric's situation at once. He raised his voice over the clamour of the battle.
"I remember when I lost my eye. Spent a few days still tryin' to see out of it before I figured the Force could do the work for me, and I never bothered to get a cybernetic after that."
Jeric nodded silently, still reaching out with his senses. His lightsaber blazed in his fist, the burnished durasteel comforting as he brought the weapon up into a guard position. A blurred outline that seemed to be a Jedi lunged at Jeric from one side, forcing him into a defensive scramble backwards, his blade whipping back and forth to deflect the attacks of the Knight. Then Manji rolled towards the attacking Jedi with viper-like speed, his shoto blade clipping the Kel'Dor's hand off at the wrist before his long-saber thudded into the Jedi's chest. Grinning at Jeric despite the Quaestor's impaired vision, the Pontifex backed away and turned his attention back to the chaos around them; the combined weight of the DSOG forces, reinforcements from Taldryan and the sheer ferocity of the Sadowan assault was beginning to push the enemy back, slowly.
"Sorry about that," Manji called over his shoulder as another few blaster bolts were returned swiftly to the Mandalorians who'd fired them. "I figured you'd rather be alive and worryin' about your eyes than dead and not worryin' about anything."
The Final Way
In orbit above New Tython
Leaning over his control console, the gunnery officer of the Final Way was nervous. There was a Dark Jedi, the Proconsul of Naga Sadow, standing right behind him, watching his every move like a hawk. The smell of alcohol wafted from the man like a physical blow, and yet he didn't seem drunk- just calm, very, very calm. Suddenly Robert Sadow spoke, breaking into the gunnery officer's thought process.
"Are our people clear of the forest yet?"
The gunnery officer swallowed and keyed open a comm channel to the FOB.
"FOB, update on Foxtrot Uniform forces in the woodline."
The response snapped back immediately, clipped and precise.
"All Foxtrot Uniform forces clear of the woodline. You are cleared to fire."
Before the gunnery officer could speak, Robert cut in, his voice dark with malevolent glee.
"Target the woodline. Fire!"
Owyhyee, New Tython
The sudden burst of crimson fire that rained down from the skies smashed into the forest with a vengeance, throwing up plumes of earth and debris and inciting mustered cries of shock and surprise from the battling crowd. It had been a long, dry summer on New Tython, and the woods needed only a little encouragement as the heat and energy of the blasts set several trees ablaze, the wind carrying the fire across the canopy. In the blink of an eye, a sheet of flame whoomphed across the woodline, casting a hellish glow over the field before Menat Ombo.
From the middle of the conflict, Manji had a moment of brief respite as the battle swirled around him and Jeric. Keeping his sabers up, the Pontifex scouted around, still on the look-out for one particular Jedi. His eye narrowed as he spotted another group of figures moving towards the eastern side of the battlefield, the Force enhancing his vision on command. Slowly, a grin stretched across the Keibatsu's face.
"Sai, you old dog..." Manji muttered. Nudging Jeric, he gestured towards the advancing figure of the Korun-Keibatsu, flanked by the cackling alchemist, Jade and the flight-suited Locke with his long-saber. "Now that my cousin is here we can get this offensive back on track!"
Owyhyee, New Tython
The native forces and their support hesitated briefly as the forest erupted in smoke. They seemed to take a breath all as one, but then with renewed vigor they surged forward together, closing around the Sadow FOB.
Along with the three that had rescued him, Locke turned back toward the throng of Harakoans they had just cut their way through. As they moved forward, he could see Mandalorians supporting them. Macron, Sai, and Jade spread out, Sadow's non-Force sensitive soldiers filling the gaps between them, prepared to hold the line. Locke saw a familiarity between those three, and decided he had no place in it. He breathed a deep sigh of relief, and hurried up to the FOB, hoping to get a glimpse of how the battle was going.
When Locke arrived at the large tent, he found he was on a hill overlooking the battlefield. It was flat for miles around; the landscape divided by farms and their borders, with the occasional patch of forest here and there. While the area immediately around the FOB was clear, there were patches of forest burning all around its rear flank, whether west, south, or east. Northward, the forces of Sadow were holding the line some distance from the hill. Beyond that were a few farms, broken here and there by low stone walls that must have divided property and ditches that looked like they were some primitive irrigation system. After that lay the city of Menat Ombo, already burning in several places. Clearly, some of the Dark Brotherhood's forces had already reached it.
Locke frowned; Sadow's lines did not seem to be moving forward much. Wherever there was a Dark Jedi in the lines, they were slaughtering the enemy, but without a concerted effort they might never move forward. Something had to be done to make progress, but who was Locke to say anything?
He watched a little bit longer. None of the Dark Jedi were dying, but many of the normal soldiers were falling. His brethren might not care, but to Locke each of those men and women were valuable. Their deaths lay heavily on his heart and quickly overpowered his fear and reluctance. Swallowing deeply, he turned and made his way to the heart of the camp.
There, Locke found far more than he expected. He recognized Methyas, though the two had never truly met. There were others who felt very strong in the Force, but Locke had no idea who they were. He did, however, recognize Sadow's Overlord. Any member of the Clan should have recognized that face.
Ignoring the others, Locke approached him. He wasn't quite sure what was expected here, so he steeled his nerves and bowed deeply. "Overlord Sadow?" He said.
The reply was one simple word, voice level and cold. "Yes?"
Locke raised his head, seeing the aged, stone-cut face of Astronicus for the first time. "Overlord, I have noticed, " he swallowed, this wasn't a time to stumble over his words. "I've noticed that we aren't making much progress. I have some experience with battles. With your permission, I have some suggestions as to how we could move forward more quickly."
Astronicus frowned. There was a cough, and what might have been a chuckle somewhere behind Locke. He ignored them; good people were dying on the battlefield, and he wasn't going to let his fear or his station deny them survival. Furthermore, this was a battle they had to win. Locke favored victory; stagnation would not garner any favors from the Dark Council.
There was a moment of silence in which Locke half expected to lose his head. "Speak then, " Astronicus said.
Locke took a deep breath. He turned toward the battlefield, pointing beyond the line of battle. "There is a low stone wall there. If we can reach it, our soldiers can use it for cover. There are more like it beyond the field. These fields don't offer much for cover, but if we can push forward, we can hop from one wall to the next, using each one for cover, right up to Menat Ombo itself. Our enemies will be cut down on the open fields. All we need is a good push forward to begin, but the enemy is strong there.
"That is why I suggest a classic pincer maneuver. We must have groups break through the enemy flanking us on either side and together we can strike. One group can push up the middle and hold the enemy back, while others come from the east and west and we smash the enemy from three sides. Macron, Tsainetomo, and Jade Sadow are already on the east flank. They have already cut through the line to get back here. Given perhaps another Dark Jedi and a few more of our special forces, they can punch through and loop around to strike the east flank of the enemy formation." Locke paused. He had fought many battles in the Vong War, and had studied the plans of his superiors. He had a good understanding of the value of most types of units, but a Dark Jedi was another matter entirely. How far could one be pushed? How many soldiers were they equal to?
Astronicus nodded, but did not speak. Cautiously, Locke took it for a cue to continue. "Given proper support of our infantry, the Regulators can break through our west flank, led by Sergeant Roxas. Lord Cyrin and those under him – Tiberius included - should also go that direction. Together they can break the enemy there. That just leaves the middle." Locke paused again.
"That's all well and good, Locke, " Methyas said, breaking the silence, "and I see where this is going, but won't it leave us defenseless here?"
"I don't think so, " Locke said, "while the enemy has been aggressive, we must remember that their primary job is to protect Menat Ombo. If we push them and crush the bulk of their forces, the rest will be forced to move back."
Methyas nodded. "A bold plan, but it could work."
Locke returned the nod. "Yes, finally, we have to push the middle back. Since we'll be pushing and holding the bulk of their forces in place for our flankers to move into position, we'll need to be strong. I don't know everyone who is present, but I volunteer myself as one for this position."
"I'll come." That was a new voice.
"Teu?" Locke asked, "when did you get here?"
"Arrived on the last drop ship, " she said.
"I will too, " Methyas added. "Also, Locke, I believe the two standing behind you would be a great help; the Deputy Grandmaster, Halcyon Taldrya and Quaestor of our allies in Taldryan – Shaz'air Taldrya."
Locke felt his face go pale. He had ignored someone on the Dark Council as if they weren't there? Realizing he was lucky to be alive, he quickly continued "Sounds good to me. That should definitely give us enough to hold that line. Our ultimate goal is the stone wall there." Locke pointed to a low line of grey between two fields. "Once we crush the bulk of the enemy's forces ahead of us, we can take that wall, and then we can truly begin to push forward. That's all there is to it." Locke took a deep breath. He had said what there was to say, now it was out of his hands.
There was a long silence. Teu gave Locke a confusing look that was somewhere between approving and all but naming him a fool. Methyas looked between the Overlord, Halcyon, and Shaz'air, his face unreadable. Finally, Astronicus broke the silence. "Methyas, Teu, do you have faith in this man?"
"Yes, " they said together, Teu just a bit more quickly than Methyas. He nodded to her and she continued. "I trained him, and I know he has experience in this type of situation prior to joining the 'Brotherhood. His Quaestor, Mirado, would also vouch for him, if he was present."
"I can get him via comlink, " Methyas added.
"No need, " Astronicus replied, "Let us see how this works. Methyas, it is your decision."
"I say we do it. I'll contact Mirado and Manji and have them join the east flank. My Proconsul and I, as well as Teu and the Deputy Grandmaster and Taldryan Quaestor will help with the middle. I believe that rounds out everybody. I'll make the necessary orders."
"Let's not waste any time then, " Halcyon said. Without another word, he turned and headed down the slope to the front line of the battle, expecting the others to follow. Locke waited for Methyas and Bob before he followed them beside Teu.
Once they started down the hill, Locke became more relaxed. He had been tense for that entire meeting. He was still worried; if the plan failed, no doubt the blame would fall fully on his shoulders, but for now he could mostly focus on the battle. Teu allowed herself a little laugh. "I know, " Locke said. "Crazy of me, but it felt like the right thing to do."
"You can tell me later, " Teu said, igniting her lightsaber. Locke saw that they had reached the line. He ignited his own weapon.
Suddenly Methyas let out a loud cry of "For Sadow!" echoed by Shaz'air's for his own House. Then they were upon the enemy, lightsabers flashing, their support soldiers firing where they could. The last of Locke's worry was washed away as he was absorbed in battle.
Three clicks out from Menat Ombo
In a matter of seconds, the secluded village had gone from a group of already terrified Harakoans huddled inside their antiquated wooden homes to a scene which could have been taken straight out of one of the Nine Corellian Hells. Kalia and Jaspen had rushed outside the moment they heard the explosion – to see the glowing blades of fire raining down from the heavens, the red hot turbolaser blasts instantly vaporising everything they hit and setting the surrounding forestry ablaze.
Blease and Lorey screamed behind her.
“Get to the ship!” Kalia had to shout at the top of her voice to be heard over the roar of the fire that was fast enveloping the village in an orange red funeral shroud. Her old CloakShape fighter was still there, for now; it was a miracle it hadn’t been struck by one of the stray blasts from the main volley, which it seemed had been aimed elsewhere. The woman pointed beyond the small home she had shared with the two Harakoans and their late aunt. “Go!” she cried. “We’ll be right behind you!”
Everywhere she looked, startled Harakoans were fleeing from the rapidly expanding flames. Over in the animal enclosure, the native war beasts were thrashing about in panic. One of their keepers was trying to get near enough to undo their collars and free them. Before the Harakoan could do so, the restraints snapped on their own free will. Acting out of survival instinct, the six-legged beasts reared up, and... Kalia shut her eyes, wishing she could just as easily shut out the keeper’s ensuing screams.
“This is all our fault,” whispered Kalia, turning to Jaspen, “the Jedi should never have come here.”
Free of their restraints, the war beasts smashed through the wooden fencing around their enclosure, and then began a stampede down the lone street which ran through the center of the village. Other Harakoans had to jump out of the way to avoid being crushed as the beasts charged toward ‘safety’.
“It’s never your fault when someone else commits evil,” said Jaspen. He put a hand on her shoulder, but it felt cold from the metal lightsaber hilt he was already holding. “The Jedi did what they could.”
“Michael Halcyon isn’t a Jedi,” Kalia muttered. “Not a real one.”
Suddenly, Jaspen staggered forward and gripped her shoulder for balance, pinching her. “I feel...”
Kalia looked over to the forest. The orange flames lashed and whipped about uncontrollably. She swallowed hard. She could feel it too; like a chill wind had swept through the air; a darkness in the Force. With that thought, the flames up ahead seemed to part and two dark robed figures emerged.
Trevarus Caerick and Xanos Zorrixor looked back at them.
Kalia started forward, but Jaspen held out his arm to stop her.
“No,” Jaspen said. “We do this together.”
Kalia paused, glancing back to check the starfighter was currently still in one piece, then she nodded.
The two Dark Jedi Masters made their way straight through the middle of the carnage, seemingly oblivious to both the rampaging war beasts and the distressed crowds of Harakoans. Neither Trevarus nor Xanos had their weapons out. Jaspen, however, had ignited both his blue and green lightsabers.
“It’s been a long time, Ghost Angel,” called Trevarus as the pair of Dark Jedi approached.
“Not long enough,” the former Krath replied dryly, calmly moving her hand to the purple hilt of the lightsaber hanging from her belt. “And the name is Kalia. I stopped pretending I was not her a long time ago.”
The sorcerer raised an amused eyebrow, then turned to the man standing next to her. “And you must be Jaspen Kraitus.” Trevarus’s expression darkened as he studied the man for a moment. “I must commend you,” he said somewhat bitterly, “on making finding you all that much harder.”
Kalia snorted. “It must hurt not to know everything.”
When neither Trevarus nor Jaspen said anything in reply, Kalia glanced sideways to see that Jaspen wasn’t even looking at her old master but instead gazing intently at his Falleen apprentice. While Xanos remained impassive, there was a glimmer of something else in Jaspen’s eyes... recognition?
“I know you...” Jaspen said slowly, clearly trying hard to remember something.
Out of nowhere, a violent explosion high above abruptly brought all four of them out of what was currently happening in the middle of the burning village and they all simultaneously inclined their heads to the small patch of sky that was still visible through the clouds of smoke. Overhead, one of the Mandalorian dreadnaughts was on fire, and rapidly dropping through the atmosphere. Beyond it, a quartet of dagger-shaped warships was pouring green death into the doomed ship’s exhaust.
“A little late to the party, Muz,” Trevarus said, seemingly to himself, “but better late than never.”
A few moments after the Dreadnaught-class heavy cruiser had vanished from sight, a deafening blast thundered through the forest, the short-lived earthquake accompanying it toppling one of the burning trees onto a nearby house and blowing embers and branches across the village clearing.
Kalia pulled her eyes away from the crushed house to see the sorcerer looking back at her.
“With the Dark Council’s rather rude interruption out of the way,” said Trevarus with a sly smile, the dark side pulsing from his two violet lightsabers as they both crackled to life, “where were we?”
Naga Sadow rear lines
The Regulators were trudging through the forest looking for natives to exterminate. Instead of finding natives, they found a group of dead Sadowan scouts. The Sergeant raised his hand, signaling the rest of the team to stop, so he could inspect the bodies.
“What would make a would like that Sir?” Roxas heard as he turned one of the bodies on its side.
He replied almost casually because he knew “A Mandalorian enhanced weapon does damage like this…” Roxas felt as if he was being watched “… Make a circle and stand back to back, now.”
“But, why wo..” the sentence was cut short as a blaster shot flew toward them, but they were able to move out of its trajectory. Instantly they did as they were ordered and stood back to back.
“Leave this to me. I’ve been waiting for this since I saw their drop ships.” Roxas demanded proudly.
He wanted this fight for himself. This one would be Mandalorian verse Mandalorian. The sound of a jetpack was heard and the enemy landed in front of Roxas. An evil grin formed under the Obelisk’s T-shaped visor when he saw the hand print on the man’s armor.
“Megin Mando’ade aliit gar the?” The Ordoan asked (translator: What Mandalorian clan are you from?)
Roxas replied with a proud voice “Ni teh aliit Buurenaar” (translator: I’m from clan Buurenaar)
The Ordoan’s eyes widened under his visor in surprise. All the other clans had heard of Clan Buurenaar’s destruction down to the last man. The Hand was excited, as he might be the person to end a clan, if he defeats the very last one. He leveled his blaster at Roxas and fired, but the Knight ducked and rolled, drawing his pistol as he did so. As Roxas came back to his feet, he fired at his enemy. The Ordoan ignited his jetpack and launched into the air to escape the shots. He rocketed around before flying head first toward Roxas. The Sergeant saw him coming, but didn’t move. The Obelisk jumped into the air as his enemy came close, and the Ordoan slammed into him. Roxas grabbed on and held tight. The two of them spun out of control as they fought in mid air. Roxas slammed his fists into the helmet of his foe before ripping off his jetpack and tossing it away, which caused them to crash into a tree.
Owyhyee, New Tython
Macron waved at Manji as he sprinted towards the east flank though the mass of conflict. Jeric was right beside him. “Tsainetomo, you old cur,” chuckled Manji-sama. “I hear we are to break the east flank.” Around them elite Sadow troopers from DSOG wearing the insignia of Rapid Force Alpha fanned out and began to take up assault positions. Behind them, a Canderous class assault tank and an A6 Juggernaut tank lumbered into view. “I brought the cavalry.”
“So I hear cousin,” commented the Korun. “So I hear.” His tripartite eyes regarded the scene in front of them on the east flank. He counted droids, natives, Mandalorians, and a very few scattered Jedi by the light of their sabers. “Looks like a serious fight. Jeric, you got the stones for this?”
“Hell yes,” Jeric replied. “But I can’t see too well. The Force compensates some.”
Macron nodded and grabbed Jeric’s arm with lightning speed, popping an auto-inject into it as Cyrin yelled at him in surprise. “I’m not exactly a medic but I can help sometimes. Just ask Tsainetomo. Heh heh. Helped that shaman we met already.”
“What-did-you-do now?” asked Jade with a rising tone, like questioning a child. “Good lord.”
“Little diluted Sith poison on a mutie bug-fly. One little bite is all. Won’t drive him mad, hehe. But every time he touches his fear… his hate… anger, arrogance, pride… he will feel really good. High, even. It will slowly drive him towards the Dark Side. He will soon be the Brotherhood- and our -puppet.” The madman shrugged. “Or perhaps die. Interesting to me either way.” One group of men lugged an E-web blaster and pack, to which Macron nonchalantly walked over and helped them set into position.
“That’s fracked up, but I like it,” remarked Jeric as he supplied himself with a new power cell and reloads for his equipment from one of the supply boxes the troopers had set into the foxholes nearby. “My vision is returning somewhat. I feel kinda strange though.”
“Get used to it,” said Manji and Tsainetomo simultaneously. They looked at each other and laughed briefly.
“Crazy bastard,” commented Manji as he drank lustily from a water canteen. Dehydration was a warrior’s worst enemy.
“You made him,” replied Tsainetomo quickly. “It’s your fault. My eyes. Indirectly, your responsibility as his teacher.”
“I don’t hear you complaining too much Cousin. Blame the Betrayer,” snapped the Keibatsu with a verbal riposte. “Mac went all to hell after that.” He looked at Macron as the alchemist strode up from the final setup of the E-web pits. “Anyone that survived the Vong, as we did, won’t ever be right again. Him even more so. I feel as much, as a warrior can, a little pity. Not for his hard situation but that he can’t ever feel like you and I. To be human,” whispered the kimono-clad warrior. “The simplicity and pure artistry of battle and the Way will ever escape him.”
“Maybe so. But Cousin- refined he is not, except in his alchemical arts. He is a broadsword and not a katana, as I have said before. And if artistry of battle escapes him, many enemies do not. That’s a useful trait.” Tsainetomo regarded the approaching figure of Mirado. “Our Quaestor approaches.”
“Once again, into the breach me hearties, and all that,” snickered Jade. She popped another sanguine bubble as Mirado joined them. “Join the fun, Senior Commander.” The Krath quickly checked her weapons and grabbed a bandolier of grenades.
Macron walked to the group of Dark Jedi and touched the side of his helm as his internal comlink buzzed. “Central command says move out. Locke is at the front.”
Mirado eyed the group. “I’m here at Methyas’ and the Overlord’s orders. The main assault is about to begin.” He regarded his erstwhile Master coolly.
Manji spoke. “Got something to say?” the one-eyed Dragon stood quietly, his sere kimono flapping in the wind as he wiped guts off his shoto with a piece of fine hand pressed paper. “This is the first time we have officially met, Quaestor. And Grand-student. I hope my worthless student taught you well. The pudu is about to hit the fan.”
Around them, the feeling shifted as the troopers began to signal with hand gestures and shouts. “He did,” said Mirado. “Let’s kick the hell out of these bastards. We are to take the eastern flank in a pincer maneuver.” Behind him, a long stream of red turbolaser light tore through the woods nearby. It was highly unlikely anything- or anyone- would be attacking them from that direction.
Amplified cries came from the center front lines. “For Sadow!” “For Taldryan!” The roar of clashing bodies and souls began to ripple from the front.
“You heard them! For SADOW!” screamed Mirado as a crescendo of igniting lightsabers and howls of battle lust ripped from the Dark Jedi. Mirado, Manji, Tsainetomo, Jeric, Jade, and Macron all charged first leading the front of the vicious shockwave. The Dark Side rippled around them like a black miasma. Rocks flew, bodies were slashed with swords of fire, and ripples of fear rolled off them like a palatable stench of evil. They were a spear of Heaven directly into the eastern flank of the enemy line. Hell had finally come to this field of battle, and soon to Menat Ombo.
Naga Sadow rear lines
The Obelisk slammed hard enough to have the wind knocked out of him. As he lay there catching his breath, the other Mandalorian jumped up and ignited his flamethrower, sending flames toward the Sadowan. Roxas rolled in an attempt to escape the flames, but his arm caught on fire. He kept rolling to put out the flames, before he got to his feet his flight suit singed. The Sergeant charged the other Mandalorian with as much speed as he could muster without the aid of the Force. The Ordoan punched, but Roxas grabbed his wrist and turned, to fling him over his shoulder. Roxas let go, sending his foe crashing to the ground with extreme force. Roxas quickly drew his blaster pistol and fired a few rounds into random body parts on his enemy. The man got back up anyway, and charged Roxas while dropping into the basic stance of Jakelian. The Sergeant did the exact same. Two Mandalorians exchanged blow for blow for a few minutes until the injured Ordoan began to feel the effects of his wounds. The Ordoan began slowing and his strength was leaving him as more and more crimson escaped his wounds. Roxas gave a kick to the man’s head, sending him to the ground with a loud thud. The last of Buurenaar bent down and removed the helmet of his foe before drawing his pistol and putting against the Ordoan’s temple. The trigger was squeezed and crimson chunks littered the ground around the now lifeless Mandalorian.
The Regulators came rushing to their Sergeant’s side.
Cyril called out “Are you alright, Sir?”
The Knight replied with an almost overjoyed tone “Yeah, that was fun. I don’t think I would be able to handle a large group though.”
“What was that language you were using?”
“Mando’a, it’s the language of the Mandalorians.” Roxas replied, not sure who exactly was asking him.
Roxas continued “We need to keep going. We can’t be to far from the natives’ camp.”
The Regulators quickly got into formation and continued heading for the native camp, to either convert or kill them.
Three clicks out from Menat Ombo
The village center turned white as lightsabers collided. The blue blade of Kalia’s lightsaber hissed as it snapped to life, narrowly catching Trevarus’s twin violet blades as the sorcerer flew across the muddy path, so fast that she was lucky she hadn’t blinked. Even though it had been years since she had last wielded the weapon in battle, her body automatically fell back into her old training, muscle memory moving on sheer survival instinct. The sorcerer’s attacks came in quick succession, sweeping left, cleaving right, from above, then below, the Dark Jedi Master’s body weaving and contorting so fluidly it was like fighting a tentacled Krevaaki, his every action in direct anticipation of her own, his arms almost bending like rubber.
Trevarus smirked as he darted back and forth in front of her. “All this time worrying how best to hide,” the sorcerer scoffed, his voice cutting through the howls of protest each time the pair’s blades met, “you’ve forgotten how best to see when your opponent is right here in front of you.” The Dark Jedi Master shook his head and Kalia ducked as he crossed both his lightsabers right where her head had been a split-second earlier.
“It’s better to know how to hide,” she jeered, dodging another attack, “than live in a fantasy.” Kalia waved her free hand dismissively. “The future is always in motion, not fixed as you want to believe.”
The sorcerer’s smirk turned to a sneer. “You can still end this like a good little Jedi.” He jerked his head toward Jaspen, who was still standing on the other side of the path, waiting for Xanos to attack. “Tell your friend to kneel before me, and neither of you need to die.”
When she didn’t bother to reply, Trevarus simply bolted forwards again for the kill.
Opposite Kalia and her former master, Jaspen had at last remembered where he had seen the face of Trevarus’s Falleen apprentice before. The Jedi Knight roared, hurling himself across the street and lunged toward the Dark Jedi with both his lightsabers. “You are the one from my dreams!” Xanos did not move until the very last minute, a blood red blade springing from his palm to intercept Jaspen’s attack, but then vanishing again just as quickly as it had appeared. The unfamiliar tràkata caught the Jedi off guard and the Falleen shoved Jaspen away again with a concentrated Force punch to his stomach. Unable to block the attack in time, Jaspen crashed through a fence behind him, stumbling over the wooden pegs but still managing to remain on two feet. “Who are you!” shouted the Jedi.
Jaspen readied himself, expecting the Dark Jedi to attack, but Xanos just stood there, waiting for the Jedi to come to him. While the Falleen’s black eyes remained as bereft of empathy as the tattoo on his forehead, Jaspen thought he caught a brief flash of something in the bottom of them. “It is not for anyone to tell you, child of the wanderers,” the Dark Jedi Master finally answered, “but for you to remember yourself.” The Falleen drew a triangular shape in the air with one of his clawed fingers; for a moment, Jaspen thought he was about to be hit with a volley of Force lightning, but no attack came. “Past. Present. Future.” Xanos said each word as he traced the three corners of the triangle. “Look into your past and remember, Jaspen Kraitus. Look into your past and finally understand what you are.”
The Jedi Knight scowled. Use the dark side, in other words? If the only way to ever understand where he came from and who carved the eye into his forehead was that, then he would rather never know. Jaspen raised his sabers for a new attack. “Never. I will never turn to the dark side. If the will of the Force chooses not to show me the truth, then so be it.” Jaspen launched himself into the air, ready this time for if the Falleen performed another last minute parry.
Kalia blocked another attack. For all the soresu she had once learned, it was doing her no good to break through Trevarus’s relentless onslaught. An ordinary opponent would eventually wear out, but a Dark Jedi Master was no ordinary opponent, especially when fuelled on the dark side from all the death and destruction currently happening right across New Tython. She had to think of something.
Owyhyee, New Tython
Smoke and fire buried them all in a hellish cauldron of death. Down on the field, visibility cut to almost nothing, sightlines choked by falling bodies, clouds of ash and smoke from the burning forests, and frenzied blaster fire all around. Each Dark Jedi was fully opened to the Dark Side in a way that they were rarely forced to be; a one-to-one duel on Antei, in the mostly-safe confines of the Combat Centre, did not usually require this level of intense concentration. Nobody wanted to fall to a stray blaster bolt tearing through the melee.
Side-by-side-by-side, the Darksiders slashed their way through the brawling crowds like a charging column of inevitable death. Tsainetomo's baton-sabers rose and fell with ice-cold precision; Macron's twin-blades slashed through flesh, armour and machinery alike with feral eagerness and broiling hatred; Manji's gleaming silver sabers, charged with the refined swordsmanship of a noble warrior culture, cut with ruthless efficiency through the enemies before them. Jade followed with her own silver blade, elegantly carving through the crowd, while Jeric and Mirado brought their own styles to bear just behind and outside of the honed razor-tip of their formation that was the two Keibatsu and the cackling Alchemist.
The apocalyptic thunder of battle seemed to have called the last of Odan-Urr's reserves to the front line; in the chaos of battle, Manji could not tell for sure, but more Jedi seemed to be appearing at the fringes of the battle, hoping to bolster their forces in this last defence of Menat Ombo. The thought filled the Pontifex with renewed vigour and he ripped his long-saber through a droid's skull and downwards before bisecting another droid with the shoto blade, keeping his good eye moving in search.
Suddenly, the pressure against them lessened; their pincer movement had carried them slicing through the eastern flank of the battle, to push them up against the central prong of the attack. Through the chaos emerged two Miraluka- one the esteemed Consul of their Clan, the other bearing the insignia of Taldryan. Beside them stood a figure they all recognised.
"Halcyon," Macron hissed, his usual sniggering quieting down as his wild eyes narrowed into a deathlike glare. The green-haired Deputy Grand Master of the Brotherhood ignored their arrival, his emerald blade cutting the throat of a lunging Jedi, but Macron could not tear his hateful gaze from the Master's back. As Manji and Tsainetomo paused in their slaughter, glancing at the Alchemist to see if he would act on his hatred for the Taldrya, another wave of enemies pressed in towards them and forced their attention.
Manji stepped back from a frenzied, close-range flurry of blaster bolts fired at him by one Mandalorian, bouncing the shots back to their source and whirling round as the Mando'ade dropped lifelessly to the churned ground. Then he froze, saber halting in mid-spin.
Before him stood a Nautolan Jedi Master, his face calm despite the madness that reigned around them. His eyes, sorrowful and filled with the years he had lived, bored into Manji's face as though accepting the inevitability of the situation. His voice, filled with sadness and tinged by the Force, rose above the clamour of battle and floated into Manji's ears.
"You have been searching for me, son of the Keibatsu."
The Pontifex whirled his blades furiously, teeth bared into a feral snarl. His response was spat into the mud below.
"I have been hunting you, Jedi- back, Cousin! This fight is mine."
The last few words were directed at Tsainetomo, whose own movements had brought him towards the two fighters. Although curious at the hatred burning in Manji's eye for this particular Jedi, Tsainetomo moved back with a shrug and sought another opponent. Doubtless he would learn later the reason for this grudge. Manji transferred his gaze back to the Nautolan and growled, slowly circling 'round the Jedi.
"So... murderer. Did you tell these rural fools of your past? Of the innocents you've killed?"
Ayln'ohn lifted his gaze to the smoke-filled horizon. An aura of peace seemed to surround him, holding back the brawling storm of battle for the time being. His voice barely reached Manji's ears, even amplified by the Force.
"They forgive... much. Even one such as me can find redemption for his crimes."
"There is no redemption for you, Jedi," Manji snarled, his anger suddenly exploding into a furious roar. "Only death at my hands!"
Ayln'ohn shifted his eyes back to the Keibatsu, and a ghost of a smile flickered around his features for a few brief moments. "Sometimes..." he muttered, "I would welcome it."
The Nautolan's twin green sabers twitched as Manji let out a snarl, mentally bolstering his fury, then flew to his defence as the Pontifex attacked, feet stampeding across the battered ground. Sparks flew as silver and emerald clashed together, entangled in a mesh of blazing energy. Then Manji felt his muscles tense and surged forwards, hurling the Nautolan back into a whirling, saber-clad defensive pirouette.
In the teeming clouds of battle, they duelled, rage and sorrow fuelling their blades.
Tiberius was in the thick of the battle trying to protect his fellow, Sadowans from the enemy his saber was being swung from left to right and right to left, Tiberius started pushing himself and his saber forward and pushing against the enemy.
He saw that his fellow Sadowns were behind him fighting as hard as they could against the Lighties, as they were pushing against the enemy Tiberius had a chance for a one to one with one of the Lighties he drew his saber, and at the same-time drew on the Force, to get his strength, he looked up at the enemy and said to the Jedi in a loud voice.
“You remember Order 66, I hope you do Jedi as I and my fellow Dark side user’s destroy you and your kind from the face of this Planet, I hope you enjoy pain my Friend cause you’re going to get a lot of it”.
The Dark Jedi more drew his saber and drew on the Force, he stood wating for the enemy to make his first strike the Jedis saber glowed bright blue, and he ran towards the Dark Jedi with some great speed, Tiberius looked up and stood there and laughed as he saw the Jedi ran towards the Dark Knight, the Jedi stopped suddenly as he bagen his first strike against Tiberius, still the Dark Knight stood still, the Jedi reached out with his saber and saw about to strike but still Tiberius laughed, with a sudden burst of speed Tiberius drew his gun and fired the weapon at the Jedis heart and the Jedi just fell to the floor in a bump, and looked at Tiberius, the Dark Knight just looked at the Jedi and said.
“Now you know what pain is enjoy”.
Tiberius continued his fight against the enemy with his fellow Sadowans and Tiberius thought this would lead to a Victory as the Naga Sadow Force were gaining the ground.
“To Naga Sadow To Victory”.
He shouted as he continued his fight.
Owyhyee, New Tython
A thunderous boom punctuated with a bright flash that lit the entire battlefield and came from behind the enemy line was soon swallowed by the overall din of the battle. Tall as he was, Locke looked up, over the heads of Harakoans and droid alike and saw the massive superstructure of a dreadnought-class heavy cruiser crumpling inward on itself. He didn't have time to think much of it, but noted that it added a whole new element to the battle now; they would have to go straight through that wreckage to reach Menat Ombo, or spend precious time going around it. It would be an obstacle, but at the same time broke up the battlefield, allowing for the Jedi's obvious close-range skills to be even more useful.
They were in the thick of it now. Locke cut through Harakoan after Harakoan, Teu right beside him, shifting from blocking blaster bolts to striking out and back smoothly. Locke steeled his nerves; these people were fighting for their homes, but this was a war. If he didn't kill them; they would kill him or one of his own. If he hadn’t been in the middle of combat with enemies all around him he might find it somewhat humorous that battle could erase morals such as his.
A flurry of blaster bolts suddenly came straight at them; Teu deflecting it away with her lightsaber. Locke looked beyond her to their origin and saw a battle droid, its arm cannon still smoldering. Teu deflected it again, her stance tight and controlled. Locke ducked behind her, cutting down another Harakoan who had gotten close enough to attempt to stab him with a spear weapon.
Realizing he could not block blaster bolts as efficiently as his Master, Locke scanned the battlefield around him. He could be much more useful with a blaster. Letting his Force presence expand around him, Locke picked one out from the fighting; still in the death grip of one of his fallen soldiers. Locke clipped his lightsaber back to his belt and dived for the weapon, clutching it with both hands. He came up to one knee and scanned around him, picking out the droid Teu had been parrying against. Locke pulled the trigger and sent a short burst of blaster fire straight into the droid's torso. It took a little more than killing a normal being, but soon fell.
Trusting the Force to guide him – finally coming to accept that was what it was rather than luck – Locke aimed the rifle and found another droid target. It raised its arm to fire at Teu and dropped as Locke's flurry of blasts hit its chest. He and the rifle weren't very accurate, but its firepower and his Force senses were enough to guarantee most shots met their mark.
Joining back up with Teu, Locke continued to fire off short bursts. She blocked any stray bolt with her lightsaber, including ones that would have caught Locke, while he focused on killing enemies at a distance before they could get close. When he saw a Harakoan with a melee weapon, he passed over him, noting Teu would cut him down easily when he got closer. Locke looked specifically for droids; knowing they were far deadlier at range than anyone else.
All of a sudden the enemy's numbers intensified. Locke sensed – not through the Force, but through the experience of many battles – a shift in the enemy forces. They were moving west slightly. That could only mean the eastern front had arrived and that group was pressing the enemy forces inward. Now was the crucial moment, Jeric and Roxas's group had to move in on the west; pinning the Harakoans and their support in place.
Three clicks out from Menat Ombo
The fire from the bombardment by the Star Destroyers overhead was fast closing in around the four of them. In the corner of her eye, Kalia caught sight of Xanos toying with Jaspen like one would a kath hound. Her attention whirled back to Trevarus as the sorcerer pushed forward, driving her back again, but she blocked his attacks, holding her guard. “He’s turned into a good little pet,” she snorted. The woman shook her head and leapt, slashing at Trevarus as she somersaulted over him.
“Like all Jedi,” retorted Trevarus, deflecting her attack as she vaulted behind him, “you presume too much.” His hands crackled with thunder as electricity spiralled up the violet barrels of his lightsabers.
Across the muddy, smoke-filled street, Jaspen’s lightsabers swirled through the smoke in a cyclone of colours, the rainbow repeatedly being disrupted as Xanos’s red blade blinked on and off like a strobe. “And you don’t?” Jaspen countered. The Jedi Knight leapt and sprung like a ballet dancer, twisting and turning as he gave himself over to the Force, letting its will guide his actions. “If you don’t care for the Brotherhood anymore than the Jedi, what reason have you to come here?”
Neither of the Dark Jedi answered.
Jaspen scowled; Kalia did the same as the lightning wrapped around Trevarus’s blades fired towards her. She caught one blast on her lightsaber, but was struck by the second and hurled into the muddy street. The sorcerer eased off while she pulled herself to her feet. “Your friend,” Trevarus said finally, while he let Kalia recover, “knows a great many secrets.” Kalia was about to reply, but the sorcerer was on her again the instant she had righted herself, circling around to slash her across the back. She screamed, pulling away. She wasn’t dead. Not yet. Miraculously, it had only been a surface burn.
It was becoming clear that there would be no talking their way out of this. Their duel had become a microcosm of the entire war across the surface of New Tython. Kalia looked across the street to Jaspen and fought to project a single thought into her fellow Jedi Knight’s mind:
It was the only way. To defeat a farseer, one had to cloud his mind into not seeing what was coming. It was what the Jedi should have done all along. Michael Halcyon had been a fool. They were no match for the Dark Brotherhood; they never had been. Trevarus might dismiss hiding as worthless, but she knew better. Her eyes glanced between the two Dark Jedi Masters as she carried on parrying Trevarus’s never ending flurry attacks. Only this time, she began to focus on making herself small... tiny... minute... invisible. Trevarus was too powerful to mask her presence completely, but if she could just focus hard enough, he might just—
The sorcerer’s attack swung wide and she ducked early, slashing as she rolled out of the way. A thin wisp of smoke rose from the tail of Trevarus’s robe. The Dark Jedi Master glanced down, a rare look of surprise crossing his face. “Impressive,” said the man bitterly. “But hiding won’t save you.”
Opposite her, Jaspen was visibly beginning to tire compared to his opponent, who – not unlike her, she now realised – remained a wall of defence. But Jaspen was doing as she said; he had gone small in the Force, becoming just another dust mote blowing away from the nearby flames. Xanos’s arms twisted as he passed his deactivated lightsaber between his hands, before the blade briefly blazed into existence for a few seconds again, but this time it only caught Jaspen’s attack just in time.
Twirling for another attempt, Jaspen launched himself into the air at the Dark Jedi Master, bringing his two lightsabers down in a blue and green vanguard before him. As usual, the Falleen stood; that was nothing new. But this time there was not the spark of anticipation that normally preceded Xanos’s blocks. The Falleen had not sensed the direction of Jaspen’s attack before it happened.
Jaspen dropped through the air—
And buried his lightsabers in the Dark Jedi Master’s chest.
Jaspen withdrew his lightsabers and stepped back. Smoke rose from the two holes in the Falleen’s chest. The Dark Jedi Master released his lightsaber and the weapon clanged as it hit the dirt.
Xanos’s eyes rolled to face Jaspen.
In the back of Jaspen’s ear, he heard the same voice as the heat of the red lightsaber burst through the middle of his own chest: “Yourself.”
The figure in front of Jaspen disappeared and his own lightsabers clattered to the ground.
The last thing the Jedi Knight saw was a blood coloured flash underneath his neck.
Owyhyee, New Tython
Macron mastered his hatred. This was not the time, nor was he in a position of power. Instead, his thoughts wandered to Astronicus. He could hear the Overlord’s whispers in his head among the many others.
“It is time,” commanded the voice of the Overlord in the madman’s mind. “The Grandmaster begins.”
“Yes, my Lord,” replied the Warlord. “Battlemeld.”
The wave of Force-born thought echoed throughout the battlefield. Every single Dark Jedi felt it. It trickled from the top down, from Elder to Equite to Journeymen and Woman. The Dark Side connected, coordinating their efforts, maximizing their potential, filling any weakness. They became a stronger, coordinated engine of destruction. One the pathetic Jedi could not stop.
The fury stoked the fire in their black souls. Hell came to earth. All across the battlefield, the Brotherhood faithful began to push their enemies back. Push them to make mistakes… push them to be destroyed. Even the mundane troopers and soldiers felt the meld, as the Elders made their presence in the Force known. In the days of the Empire Palpatine did something similar with his forces. Now, with the direction on the Grandmaster and the Star Chamber, it was happening again. As a unified whole juggernaut of destruction they worked.
On the eastern flank, Macron snarled as he strode willfully forward in his battlesuit. Beside him his Master Manji was locked in a furious combat with a Nautolan who was destined to die. Macron gave no thought to his Master’s battle. He knew the man on the receiving end of the Keibatsu’s blades was soon to be a dead man. Anyone on the end of those weapons was, to be sure. Ayln'ohn was a dead man walking, and his vital organs would soon figure it out when they were split and quit working. Or his severed head was deposited rudely in the dirt. No one fought the One-eyed Dragon and lived.
The alchemist yelled a fierce battle cry as Tsainetomo and Jade disengaged from their dead foes. The pressure of the battlemeld and his own training seared Macron’s brain, or what was left of it. It was not Vong they faced this time. Instead, it was enemies whose will and bodies could be broken. Truly, the Sith may not have been the pure battle enthusiasts that the Obelisk were, or the scholars that the Krath emulated. But on the field of battle they shined like a supernova of pure destruction. Like the superglue of War.
“To me,” screamed the Sith Warlord in hatred and passion as the Force Scream ripped from his lungs. “To me! We will break them! Now!” Beside him, Tsainetomo grinned approvingly as Jade bolstered herself with the Force. The three of them were the Spear of Destiny that split the heart of the massed force in front of them. They had no fear, and no hesitation. They were the scythe of the Grim Reaper incarnate. They charged. Behind the three Sadows, a huge mass of troopers and Journeymen followed and charged forth to crush the Eastern Flank of their enemies before them.
Sadow Front lines
The village turned out to be a waste of time. It had been evacuated by the Jedi. A few minutes after entering the village Roxas’s comm chirped, it was Locke “Roxas we need the Regulators to lend a hand on the west front.”
So with that the Regulators went to where they were needed and now they were in the thick of battle. Corpses were piled all around them and the ground was soaked with crimson. The blood and seared flesh dampened the air with a terrible stench. The sounds of blasters, sabers and death were ringing loudly through the trees. They fought their way into the lines by slashing and blasting left over enemies that were left behind. It was almost like they were running a clean up operation, until they caught up to Jeric.
“Executive Cyrin…” The Sergeant called out “…Director Buurenaar here to back you up!.”
Jeric replied with a nod as he near perfectly slashed a droid in twain with his ruby blade and then spoke “About time someone showed up. We’re getting short handed.”
Jeric turned and spun his crimson sword, deflecting a blaster shot back at a droid.
“You heard him Regulators!” The Mandalorian shouted “Get to work!”
The Regulators lined up and opened fire. Bolts hit natives, Jedi, droids, and anything else that got in the way. Roxas ignited his wolf’s fang while running into enemy lines, so he could use Shii-Cho for what it was intended. The growling of his green blade was easily heard over the blaster shots and screams, even while he slashed through droids and natives.
The Sadowans on the west flank were pushing hard. This war would be won; not by Jedi, but by Dark Jedi.
Owyhyee, New Tython
As Roxas pushed into the enemy lines he came up right behind the Sith Battlemaster and was almost decapitated by the crimson blade as Jeric twirled it around his back blocking a blaster bolt not even seconds after he cut a native clean in half.
“Damn your fast. If I was just inches closer to you I think I would have been dead!” the Sergeant exclaimed.
“Well that would have been a shame,” the sith said with a disappointed tone almost.
The two Sadowans fought back to back striking down anything that broke thru the wall of blaster fire being created by the Regulators. The enemy lines were beginning to get overwhelmed by the dark jedi forces. The pincer maneuver that Senior Director Sonjie suggested was working and the forces of Odan-Urr were slowly thinning.
“Jeric! Look over there.” Roxas yelled out. He was pointing to the red, orange, and silver blades of the three Sadowans on the East flank. They were less than thirty meters away. Jeric still couldn’t see, even with the Medicine that Macron gave him, his vision was blurry at best. None the least Jeric could still sense the power of the three Sadowan’s that were getting closer with each passing minute. Bodies of natives and young jedi fell left and right, turing the muddy ground into a pool of blood. Sparks filled the air as driods where cut down. This was the last push, if the forces of Sadow and Taldyran could break through this line Menat Ombo would be open to siege.
Jeric reached out with the force and sensed a Jedi charging him, the Sith raised his lightsaber to meet the sky colored blade of the Jedi. The Jedi immediately opened into a barrage of hight speed attacks. Jeric could sense it was a female and was more than just a mere padawan. A Knight maybe, she was clearly well trained in ataru and if it weren’t Jeric’s mastery of soresu he would have been easily overwhelmed. The female Jedi knight didn’t last long against the half-blinded sith, tiring herself out her rapid attacks slowed allowing Jeric to unleash a brutal shii-cho combination. The Jedi’s body fell limp in the mud missing an arm and a burning hole in her chest.
“No mercy.” Jeric said as the sky continued to pour down on the battlefield as if crying for the countless deaths.
Owyhyee, New Tython
The battlemeld flowed through Manji's veins, but was ignored; consumed by the fires of rage, the Pontifex cared not for the fate of the battle and would not co-ordinate with his fellow warriors. He cared about only one thing- Ayln'ohn's head rolling in the dirt before him. Another frenzied lunge hurled him at the implacable defence of the Jedi, whose feet moved with precise deliberation, twin emerald sabers batting aside the fangs of the Dragon. A circle had opened up around the two warriors; even in the heart of the battle, where friend and foe were pushed together by the inexorable advance of the eastern and western pincers of the Sadowan forces and the incoming pressure from Dark Jedi of other Clans, neither Mandalorian, droid, Jedi or Dark Jedi wanted to step near the Nautolan and the Keibatsu, their twin sabers creating a blurring wall of green and silver around them.
Lunging forwards with a frighteningly quick Makashi thrust, Manji snarled as Ayln'ohn danced away from the attack and brought his silver shoto round to scythe towards the Nautolan's throat. His eye widened as the green-skinned Jedi directed a blast through the Force to smash the short hilt out of the Keibatsu's hand- it tumbled away to fall into the churned ground below. In the next breath, Ayln'ohn launched an attack of his own, his style suddenly more aggressive than any Jedi would utilise. Both green sabers bludgeoned at Manji's long-saber as he was forced backwards, around the open circle.
Fury coiled up Manji's arm and smashed towards Ayln'ohn in a wave of telekinetic force. The Nautolan grunted, his grip on the Force ensnaring the attack and hurling it to one side to smash harmlessly against the muddy ground. Then he darted forwards, sabers flickering forwards with razor-sharp precision, one mere seconds after the other.
The tip of one blade sliced through the middle of Manji's saber hilt, carving cleanly through the precise electronics. As the silver blade fizzled and died, the other blade curved through the point where Manji's saber had been and opened a slash across the Pontifex's chest.
His good eye drawn down to the useless, fizzling pieces of the hilt in his hands, Manji sank to his knees as Ayln'ohn's blades curved back round to hover before him. The wound in his chest seared painfully into his nervous system, but above all the pain of failure seared into his mind. Saliva trickled from between bared teeth as he looked up at the Nautolan and roared his fury over the clamour of battle.
"Why?! Why are you better than me? Why won't you die?!"
Ayln'ohn stared at him sadly, his blades rock-still.
"I wronged you, son of the Keibatsu. I know and accept this, but... I cannot let you kill me with such hatred in your heart. You would simply travel further down this dark path."
For a moment, the Nautolan paused, completely ignoring the brawling chaos around them. Then he spoke again, his eyes still fixed on Manji and his voice distant.
"In one month's time, outside the gates of Kuroshin Castle. We will settle this there, with no distractions."
Deactivating his sabers, the Nautolan turned and strode away from the kneeling Pontifex towards the encircling crowd of death and chaos. His final words drifted on the wind towards the Keibatsu's ears as he faded away into the fog of war.
"Then, perhaps, I will know peace..."
For a moment, as the melee pressed inwards towards him, Manji simply stared at the ground. Then his face twisted, dark hatred painting every scar-line and etching violent fury onto his features. The Dark Side swelled from the Pontifex, closing over the wound in his chest and yanking his shoto back into his hand as he stood, tucking the useless pieces of his long-saber hilt into a pouch at his belt and surging into a nearby crowd of droids with a terrifying scream. He would catch up with Macron, Tsainetomo and Jade and bury the stench of his failure beneath a mountain of corpses.
Suddenly his commlink chirruped, a familiar female voice breaking into the murderous thoughts of the Keibatsu.
"You would not believe the day I've had."
Owyhyee, New Tython
For a few minutes the fighting was at its fiercest. Locke heard a thousand whispers, felt a hundred voices converging on him in the Force, until one finally broke through and entered his mind. He could not discern words, but his limbs moved more smoothly; he worked more in concert with those around him. They were one.
The enemy fell under that onslaught. Harakoan, droid, Mandalorian, Jedi – no matter, all were crushed under the combined force of the Dark Jedi attacking from three sides. They were pressed back against the ruins of their ally's dreadnought, pushed back and crushed as they struggled to retreat inside the wreckage, the many who could not get inside dying in waves to the forces of the Brotherhood.
At once they were through, the three groups had converged and met in the middle. They spread out now, advancing on the wrecked ship at a steady pace. They became hunters, charging down ruined corridors to catch fleeing enemies. This was a different arena than the field they had crossed only minutes before, but this was an arena the Dark Jedi excelled at even more than the plains. The enemy's situation was hopeless – and perhaps they realized that – but they still fought on among the wrecked hulk, making one last attempt to preserve their home.
That wreckage still burned in a thousand places. Locke entered that maelstrom, blaster rifle whining as he cut down fleeing Harakoans. The Mandalorians and droids fought on; fearless even in the face of insurmountable odds, but their numbers were thinning. Here, with the battlefield concealed in a twisted mass of metal, flames, and smoke, the Force truly shown. Only the last remaining Jedi could hope to see through it, and even their vision must have been clouded by the imposing shroud of the dark side.
There were others among that wreckage as well. More than once, Locke felt a strange eddy in the Force, one familiar, but not one he recognized. Through openings in the smoke he could see markings he recognized. A moment passed and it dawned on him that they were other units of the Brotherhood – Arconan, Palatinae, Plaguein, and more – all had converged on a singular area as they got close to Menat Ombo, all wanted the same prizes.
Locke wondered how much longer the battle could go on before Dark Jedi turned against Dark Jedi.
Aboard the CloakShape fighter Angel Star
Kalia had called his name as she shared his pain when the blade speared the other Jedi from behind. In a single blow, her world had ended; her heart, her life, snuffed out as Jaspen crumpled to the floor right in front of her. Distracted, she had felt Trevarus’s telekinetic volley before she had even seen, let alone sensed it, the thunderous blast hurling her across the village, smashing through fences and smouldering walls. She had no idea what had happened to her lightsaber or where it had ended up.
Nobody had come to her aid. There was no-one left. The village had been abandoned. The native Harakoans having fled toward the desert while she and Jaspen had held the two Dark Jedi Masters at bay. There had been no point in resisting anymore; she couldn’t keep running forever. She’d shut her eyes, unable to watch as her old master withdrew a mirror-polished obsidian knife from somewhere in the much too small pouch on his waist and... and...
It had all been too much. She’d wished she had been able to block out the sound as easily as she could spare herself from the sight as the sorcerer mutilated the man who had become her lover. A few minutes of silence had passed; a few minutes in which she had genuinely wished that it had all come to an end; that she had somehow already died without having noticed; that it was all a dream. But then Trevarus had spoken to her, and she had had to open her eyes, to see him standing right there over her, his wrists and arms covered in blood, and something reddish brown in his hand.
No. No it wasn’t. It couldn’t have been.
More tears, if that was even possible, had spilled down her cheeks.
“There is much to be said for alchemy, my dear,” Trevarus had said absentmindedly before he had bitten down into what could only have been Jaspen’s heart and then drunk what was inside.
“MONSTERS!” Kalia had screamed. “I knew you were sick, but not like this, not like this!”
A thin smile had graced the Falleen’s usually placid face. “There is no death,” Xanos had said.
“Only the Force,” Trevarus had finished as he lowered the organ and completed the final line of the Jedi Code.
“And we are its masters,” the pair had added, speaking together in unison, as if it was one voice.
That had been an hour ago.
Kalia hadn’t moved. Her body paralysed. Unable to get up, at one point, she thought she’d seen a lone Mandalorian, but it might have just been a hallucination; if real, the man hadn’t come to her aid when she held up a hand. Yet more proof, if any had been needed, of how blind the Jedi had been to trust Michael Halcyon. The Mandalorian had simply shook his head and turned back from the village to wherever he’d come from. Her paralysis was not through any sorcery on Trevarus’s part, though, but simply refusal to keep on trying. Everything she had tried to run away from had come back and destroyed her. The life she had sought to build had been washed away in a tide of blood and death.
Trevarus and Xanos had left her there. Alive.
“Go,” one of the pair had said, although she hadn’t been sure which one, if it even made any real difference, “run away, little angel. Hide. Become a ghost, again, and pretend you’re someone else.”
The words had stung because they had been true.
All she had ever done in her life was to try and run away. And when she had finally tried to be herself again? It had only brought more pain to those she had loved. Trevarus had told her how the Jedi, just like the Sith, clung to their false heroes, their Revans and their Skywalkers, blind to the fact that all the power in the galaxy meant nothing when it could all be swept away in a single heartbeat.
She hadn’t had any comeback. The people of New Tython – including the colonists like her – had all seen their lives destroyed in a matter of hours. As Trevarus had said, there was no death, no; he had taken even that from her, forcing her to live with the memories of everything that had happened.
The CloakShape’s navicomputer chimed to signal that they had reached the jump point out of the Yhi system. She looked back in her chair at the two Harakoans who had both squeezed into the small passenger chair. Blease and Lorey looked back at her, the pain of the war etched on their faces.
“It’s over,” she said to them both.
If it hadn’t been for Blease and Lorey, she’d still be down there, lying in the cold, damp mud, the heat of the flames against her cheeks. They’d come to her. Their voices having somehow managed to pull her back from her tears. Aunty Kalia, they’d repeated until she had finally opened her eyes.
“We’re going home.”
She just didn’t know where home was anymore.
Ghost Angel hit the hyperdrive switch and the stars stretched into starlines.
Outskirts of the battlefield
Owyhyee, New Tython
The two Dark Jedi Masters stood on a small hill at the edge of the forest, the flames lashing at their backs. Trevarus tossed the helmet of the Mandalorian he had just killed and watched it tumble down the slope. In front of them, the battlefield stretched for miles, littered with burning starfighters and tanks, limbs and helmets. Directly ahead, the central killing field was dominated by the still smoking wreckage of the Dreadnaught cruiser that they had seen pass overhead back in the Harakoan village.
There was no sign of any Harakoan reinforcements from the forest. The natives had been broken. The Jedi and their Mandalorian allies on the retreat.
Trevarus ignited his two violet lightsabers and the pair started toward the nearest battle line.
They had done their mercy for the day, now it was time for their fill of death.
Owyhyee, New Tython
An ultramarine flash slipped past the Harkoan, giving it just enough time to think the eyeless man wielding such a deep blue blade had missed his mark, before the Dark Jedi pulled his own arm back while he twisted his wrist. The drawing cut split the humanoid near in two, and a kick to its gut put it to the ground.
Turning, Mirado could see his Master, engaged with the rest of the clan within a clan. Jedi had been filtering into the field, and though meeting their ends, they’d taken their own toll as well. Exhaustion was beginning to overtake the aggressors, lending a slightly lower pace to their slaughter. These Jedi were defensive things, and while originally considered speedbumps, were becoming more and more walls. This would not do.
Mirado tickled the internal activation switch in his lightsaber with the Force, powering the blade down and quieting its hum. Once replaced on his belt, he drew his razors, and took a moment to let the lay of the battle sink into his mind. A riot of color covered the field like a nebula, from lightsabers, blaster bolts, droid power cells, and the bright lights of the Force users. It ebbed and flowed like an ocean’s tide, and were he deaf, it would have been a serene picture.
Serenity wasn’t the order of the day, however, but murder. Mirado picked his route, as much by where people were as well as where they were going to be. Battle was a tricky thing, but predictable. Study it long enough, and you not only understood the concept, but how to engage within it.
The Miraluka became movement then, running as fast as his long legs would carry him. He ducked, slashed, rolled, slashed more, kicked, spun, slid, stabbed, pirouetted a time or two, all while keeping both of his blades in motion. He struck several people, caring only if they were familiar to him or not. Often they were left bleeding, but alive, as his goal wasn’t to waste time murdering, but instead to spend his time injuring. Every bleeding wound, every severed muscle and tendon slowed the enemy advance, forcing them to either ignore their allies, or waste time tending to them. It exhausted the Jedi who were capable of healing, leaving them less prepared to defend against the sorceries of his comrades.
His trip had brought him closer, though in a roundabout way, to the rest of his people. Sai’s mighty hair swayed with its own life as he fought, the puffy queue bouncing against the back of his head in a staccato manner. Macron, well, Macron laughed, and when he laughed, people died. Jeric and Roxas were busy as well on the west end as well, keeping the fight moving in a nice, productive manner.
Not far away, Manji stood, dusted himself off, and re-lit his shoto saber to meet the incoming attack of a Jedi. He stepped in peculiar ways, putting himself exactly not where the Jedi was currently swinging, and made economical attacks in response, targeting undefended areas. It wasn’t good for the Jedi, but again, in speedbump fashion, they were engaging only so long as it took for several more of the lightsiders to gather. In addition to cowardice, such an act was just plain uncalled for.
Mirado darted, whistling a shrill hawk’s whistle towards his master and the other Sons of Sadow, before aiming himself towards one of the Jedi on the outside of the ring.
“So, it’s like this, is it?” Manji said, his tone acidic. “So be it.” He brought his shoto saber to bear, and adjusted his footing accordingly, before three Jedi advanced on him. In the span of a heartbeat, the number was down to two, however, as the third, a Shistavanian wolfman, found himself on the business end of a hard body check.
“Catch!” Mirado yelled from the ground, before shooting his left arm towards his Master’s master. His lightsaber popped out, propelled by the spring-loaded sheath, and launched towards the Pontifex. With the aid of the Force, Manji caught it, and deftly blocked the two other Jedi as he inspected the weapon. It was certainly not his.
“Is this Fremoc’s old lightsaber?” He asked, thumbing the blade alive to join his other in killing.
From the ground, Mirado croaked out an affirmative grunt as he struggled to break the Shistavanian’s hold of his throat. He rabbit punched it twice in the kidneys before beckoning to the thing’s own discarded lightsaber laying nearby. He activated it, and drew the violet blade across the thing’s abdomen, cutting it nearly in half. Still, he laid there a moment, catching his breath, as two dead bodies fell near him, smoking and stinking, and irredeemably undone.
Above the Miraluka, the Krath simply reached for his commlink. “You were saying?” He asked, as he walked away.
Somewhere in the Western Flank
Owyhyee, New Tython
Dyrra blocked a few blaster bolts and sent them back to the shooters with a muttered swear-word as Manji's voice burst out of the commlink. Raising her voice over the noise of battle, she shouted back at him.
"I'm not even supposed to be here today! Oh, kark, one sec-"
A jetpack-wearing Mandalorian leaped towards the Templar, only to have a cobalt-blue lightsaber blade shoved through his windpipe and out the other side. Ripping the blade out, Dyrra pushed the corpse to the floor and stepped over it, keeping her eyes peeled for other enemies.
"First the shuttle crashed somewhere in the Hutt-karkin' woods. Then we got attacked by kriffing Mandalorians- I've mentioned I hate Mandalorians, haven't I? Really can't stand 'em. Then that kriffing dreadnought came down-"
Manji's voice cut her off, his manic growl sounding even angrier than usual.
"You have not picked a good time, Dyrra. Assuming you somehow survive this, I'm going to beat you around the training room until you beg for mercy. Now get the frell over to this dreadnought and help us finish off these fracking Jedi!"
The last words came out as a furious shout, and Dyrra's face twisted into a frown as the commlink clicked shut. She'd been on the receiving end of plenty of tongue-lashings from the Keibatsu over the years, but something was different- he didn't sound like he was secretly laughing at her. He just sounded violently, aggressively angry. Normally he'd at least be happy about killing Jedi, so something must have gone wrong...
With a shrug, the red-haired girl darted away through the smoke and confusion of battle towards the fallen dreadnought. She'd find out soon enough- and if nothing else, standing behind the grumpy old git would reduce the chances of her getting shot in the head by a kriffing Mandalorian.
Owyhyee, New Tython
The burning wreckage of the doomed Mandalorian dreadnought loomed overhead as Macron, Jade, Sai and all the rest drank of the Brotherhood-wide battlemeld and converged toward the center of the killing fields outside Menat Ombo. Arms, legs and even heads went flying into the air, one after another as the Jedi and Mandalorians were pressed back ever more, their rear lines being squeezed back against the bent and buckled durasteel girders of the starship that were still glowing red from the heat.
One of the battle droid’s gyros whirred as its motors spun its torso toward the alchemist, the blaster barrels built into its arms unleashing a horizontal plasmatic waterfall in his direction. In any other situation, it might normally have been all the Warlord could be expected of to stand there and deflect the machine gun volley of lasers, but fuelled by the endless river of death and the power of the Force Meld, Macron advanced, turning the droid’s fire back against it.
As he brought his lightsaber across what passed for the automaton’s equivalent of a neck, Macron heard something soft squelch on the ground behind him. A head or some other severed body part, most likely, he thought; he had much experience with those. Through his armour’s external sensors, he felt the breath of whoever was behind him on the back of his neck—and heard a snap-hiss.
“Silly, Sadow,” a high voice whispered over the clashes of battle around them, “you should watch your—”
Macron began to turn, his own lightsaber rising to parry whatever the opportunist behind him had intended to try, only for the figure – a Twi’lek male, he now saw, wearing what he believed to be the blood-smeared insignia of House Scholae Palatinae – to be cut off mid sentence. Literally. The Twi’lek’s skull spun atop its spine for a moment, then dropped to join the severed head underneath.
Behind the opportunist Palatinae, the violet eyes of Trevarus Caerick stared back at Macron.
Alongside the sorcerer stood the Betrayer, Xanos Zorrixor.
“How absurd,” Trevarus said, looking down at the Twi’lek’s head. “Did a mere mundane soldier really think picking up a Jedi’s lightsaber would make him an assassin?” The man shook his head. “Not that I expect much better from someone who works for the Palatinae.”
Acting out of sheer instinct, Macron raised his lightsaber again back into guard position; however, neither of the two sorcerers moved, and the three remained still for a moment, a strange bubble of calm in the otherwise chaotic battlefield just outside the downed dreadnought.
“So it’s true,” Macron said finally, his eyes not leaving the Betrayer. “Everyone told me I was mad, which I may be, but I knew what I saw on Runculo hadn’t been a lie.” An uncomfortable silence passed as the alchemist stared at his old Sith Master. “What brings you back now? Why help us?”
It was Trevarus who answered. “As I told your Overlord,” the sorcerer said, avoiding Macron’s question, “Xanos and I were never your enemy.”
“If only that were true,” Macron snorted. He shook his head and jerked his lightsaber at the two severed heads on the ground between them. “If it were down to me, you’d both be on that pile with Rai and the rest of the traitors.”
The sorcerer raised an eyebrow and smiled, seemingly oblivious to the ongoing flashes of lightsabers continuing around them. “Then it is fortunate for us,” Trevarus said, “that the Grand Master trusts us.”
The madman laughed, the sound harsh and cold, even through his mask’s vocabulators. “Darth Ashen also trusted the Jedi.” Macron sighed and shook his head in resignation. “But unlike you, I do as my Dark Lord commands. And if for now he commands you to live, then so be it.”
Macron turned his back, unafraid of either of them anymore.
“Well?” he called back as he moved away. “Are you here to fight for us or not?”
The madman charged back into the battle and sprung at a nearby Jedi Knight. Behind him, he heard the snap of another pair of lightsabers as the two former Sadow Elders joined the battle themselves, screams and bolts of blue-white lightning crackling in their wake. It wouldn’t be long now. The last of the Jedi had nowhere left to hide. Inside the corridors of the dreadnought, it would soon be over.
Macron giggled with satisfaction as he plunged his lightsaber through the Jedi Knight’s chest.
Owyhyee, New Tython
"Director Sonjie, come in."
It was hard to freeze in the middle of a battlefield. It tended to be the kind of thing that got you killed, rather swiftly. Despite that knowledge, Locke very nearly did so when he recognised the voice emerging from his commlink.
He lifted a hand from his blaster and hit the button.
"Yes, my Lord?"
The Overlord's voice was as cold as it had been earlier as he replied.
"Your earlier suggestion was effective. The last of the enemy's forces are holding up inside the fallen dreadnought. The bridge is still intact- you and your forces are to activate the self-destruct and burn the rats out of their hole."
That was as close to a 'well done' as Locke was likely to get. He silently thanked his lucky stars.
"At once, my Lord."
The commlink clicked shut and Locke looked around for the rest of the Sadowans. Luck and the tides of battle had pulled them together into a kind of valley formed by two destroyed chunks of starship. Raising his voice over the blaster fire, Locke shouted to the others, letting the Force amplify his words.
"Sadowans, form up! We have a mission from the Overlord!"
Dyrra stumbled through a pile of starship wreckage and destroyed droids to see the welcoming sight of a cluster of dark-clad lightsaber wielders. Her feet caught on a droid's arm and she tripped forward, collapsing down the pile towards the group. As her head stopped spinning, she looked up to see a familiar, grouchy figure.
"Look who it is. What kind of time do you call this?!"
Meeting Manji's one eyed glare with her own customary scowl, Dyrra's response was equally snarled.
"For your information, I got shot down! I've just trekked through five frackin' acres of farmland to find you people! And since when were there Mandalorians here? Or karkin' droids? What in the nine hells is going on?!"
The Keibatsu reached out and grabbed the scruff of Dyrra's neck. He yanked the redhead to her feet, his voice a low growl that suggested she was stepping on his last remaining nerve and should count herself lucky that he wasn't a complete and utter sociopath.
"Lucky for you, kid, you're here just in time to help carry out some of the Overlord's orders. Get moving, we've got a big boom to engineer."
The throbbing pain humming through her feet declared that he was perhaps half a sociopath.
The remnants of the ship were somewhat less noisy than the battle outside, but the echoes made the ship feel much more claustrophobic. The Sadowans advanced through a wide corridor, the only sounds the scraping of boots on durasteel and the hum of expectant lightsabers.
The relative peace was broken by a blaster bolt flying into the path of a waiting saber blade, as a swarm of bodies poured out of a side corridor to test the Sadowan's resolve.
Owyhyee, New Tython
Whatever the attackers- Mandalorians and a few bedraggled Jedi, with a ragtag group of battle droids moving alongside them- were expecting, it wasn't the flurry of carnage that the Sadowans unleashed upon them. Trevarus and Xanos led the charge, their blades dancing through the forms and coruscating bolts of crackling electricity searing from outstretched fingers to blow the heads off the battle droids and render every blaster useless. Behind such elemental fury, the rest of the Sadowans were largely unnecessary, but they leapt upon those Mandalorians who managed to escape the power of the Elders and butchered them with considerable relish.
The conflict was short, sharp and brutal. As it ended, bodies and mechanical parts lay scattered across the floor of the corridor- none of them belonging to the Sadowans. Without a word, the group continued to move through the downed ship, following their instincts and the Force to the elevated spire in which the bridge of the ship rested, almost entirely intact despite the shock of the impact.
As they reached another crossroads, another group of lightsaber-wielding figures jumped out at them; but these enemies bore the insignia of House Scholae Palatinae, subtly stamped onto armour or woven into their robes. For a moment, the two groups halted, not sure how to proceed. Then Trevarus broke the silence.
"Stand aside, whelps. We have business here."
At the front of the group, an Equite frowned, waving his saber towards the sorceror.
"And who do you think you are, some kind of big sh-"
He never finished the sentence as Xanos raised his empty hand like a claw, and the Equite's essence was ripped, screaming, from his body. The sound faded away into nothingness as the Equite's body slumped, lifelessly to the floor, all the energy drained from him. There was another silence, this time full of shocked horror, and Trevarus spoke again.
The Sadowans needed no greater urging. En masse they fell upon the Dark Jedi before them, blades flashing. The fight was again quick and brutal- a Knight fell with two blades rammed through his throat while his companion was ripped apart by multiple saber blades, the steaming chunks of his corpse scattered across the corridor. Trevarus did not spare them a glance, striding away towards the elevator to the bridge.
Owyhyee, New Tython
The doors to the bridge pinged open before the Sadowans, revealing a room full of Jedi and Mandalorians- some wounded, most healthy, all begrimed and coated in the filth of battle. Like a rolling tide of darkness, the Sadowans surged from the lift through a wave of crackling lightning provided by Trevarus and Xanos, blades scorching through the nearest Jedi before they could defend themselves.
Macron's saber thrummed maniacally as he cackled, reaching into the mind of the Jedi he faced to hit every button that he could find. Overwhelmed by his fears, the Jedi staggered backwards and Macron ended him violently.
Locke picked his Mandalorian targets with cold precision, blaster bolts searing towards their skulls through the Force. Most fell, and those that avoided his first shot were taken down by his second.
Mirado hurled himself at a Kel Dor Jedi, borrowed violet blade thrumming dreadfully as he ripped it through the Jedi's arm before reversing the strike to take off the Jedi's head.
The fighting devolved into a curious dance as each and every Sadowan picked their foe, blades flashing through the forms as though they had been training since birth. In the middle of the brawling crowd, Trevarus and Xanos moved through the bridge to the command console. A Mandalorian leapt in front of them, his flamethrowers blazing fire at the two Elders. They did not flinch, ignoring the burning napalm; Xanos hurled his ignited saber towards the Mandalorian, the weapon calmly hacking the Mandalorian's head off and snaking back to the Falleen's hand. Ignoring the interruption, Trevarus looked down at the console and tapped in a few commands, almost carelessly.
An automated voice kicked into life over the ship's PA, cold and emotionless.
"Self-destruct sequence activated. Detonation in five minutes."
Owyhyee, New Tython
Sirens blared in the Sadowans’ ears as they raced back through the collapsing corridors of the crashed dreadnought. Red emergency lights had begun flashing along the scorched walls that had already been pocketed with blaster burns and lightsaber grazes from the earlier fighting, whilst now and then another durasteel girder fell from the broken ceiling, clanging as it hit the deck, or, in rare cases, eliciting a pained screech when one landed atop one of the Sadow strike team’s heads.
In the protective casing of his Mandalorian armour, Roxas led from the front, his lightsaber in one hand, a heavy blaster rifle in the other. The Dark Jedi Knight clambered over the dismantled droid parts and scorched and severed limbs of the beings that had been slaughtered a few minutes earlier on their way to the bridge. As he neared the end of the latest corridor, another of the enemy’s battle droids stalked into view, its photoreceptors blinking as it turned toward the group of Dark Jedi. A second later, the Mandalorian’s blade had torn through the droid, before it had even spotted him.
“Oh dear...” whined the droid’s artificially high-pitched voice as its torso slid away from the lower half of its metal body, leaving its legs still standing there, upright, on their own.
As he passed, Roxas kicked the droid’s free-standing legs off their mechanical feet. Manji and Dyrra were close on the younger man’s tail, their lightsabers catching the stray bolts that made their way past the Mandalorian’s otherwise perfect guard. Reaching the doorway at the end of the corridor, the markings, despite being spotted with dots of fresh blood, were still visible: DOCKING BAY 1138.
“Just a little further!” called Mirado’s voice from near the back of the group.
The baritone sound of the main computer sputtered over the surrounding speakerphones:
“Detonat—krrssh—in two minu—krssshzt.”
The doorway to the docking bay slid open. On the other side, a pair of Mandalorians stood alert on either side of the open boarding area. The one on the right had an entire EWHB-10 repeating blaster in one hand, presumably holding it with the support of his or her power suit’s enhanced strength; either that, or there was really a Wookiee somehow hidden underneath all its beskar armour.
The two hostile Mandalorians spent no time in opening fire, plastering the entrance to the docking bay with blaster bolts from their oversized weaponry.
Roxas switched to his own tricks, a flamethrower built into his wrist-gauntlet popping into sight and filling the corridor with a dense wall of red and yellow flame. The blaster bolts carried on coming, but the two Mandalorians seemed to have momentarily lost a clear visual on any of the Dark Jedi.
Manji looked over at Dyrra and the red-haired woman nodded.
His kimono flapping behind him, the one-eyed Keibatsu leapt into the flames, propelled through the air with the aid of a Force push from Dyrra behind him. Manji shot into the docking bay, his outstretched lightsaber skewering the Mandalorian that was holding the E-Web. The second Mandalorian barely registered what had happened when Roxas’s faceplate emerged through the wall of flames directly in front and summarily slashed his lightsaber across the Mandalorian’s throat.
“Nice work,” Dyrra said as she came up behind him, briefly clapping a hand on the man’s shoulder.
“Krssh—onation in one—krrsssssszt.”
Ignoring the PA’s warning, the Mandalorian paused for a moment, tilting his head to look down at the helmet. He hummed thoughtfully. “No insignia,” Roxas noted, looking back up at Manji.
The Keibatsu shrugged. “They were in our way,” Manji replied, then continued on through the docking bay. The clock was ticking. They could worry about the hows and whys of who died later.
A Mon Calamari Jedi stepped into view as the group reached the ramp at the front of the docking bay, the amphibian’s blue and green lightsabers shimmering in a fittingly marine contrast to the red hazard lights flashing down either side of the ramp.
“There is emotion, there is peace,” the Jedi Knight said, his voice serene as he brandished his twin weapons in front of them, blocking their path. “No chaos, only harmony.” The man looked as if he was already resigned to his fate as his eyes looked down toward the emergency lights.
Dyrra had no time for this. “Get out of the way!” the Obelisk shouted, pushing her way past the others and hurling her lightsaber toward the Jedi Knight, the sapphire blade spinning like a buzz saw.
The Mon Calamari looked up at her and gently batted aside the incoming weapon—only to be struck by an incoming blast of concentrated Force energy, as Dyrra punched both her fists toward the Jedi. The Mon Calamari was flung down the ramp, his bulbous head whipping back and slamming into the bulkhead underneath. “And no death?” hissed Dyrra as she surged forward before her opponent could right himself, summoning her lightsaber back into her hand, and then speared the Jedi Knight straight through his gut. “Come on!” she called, gesturing with her blade for the others to hurry.
The sound of the battle outside filled the strike team’s ears as they charged down the ramp, the sound of their boots hammering on the floor echoing back up into the docking bay. Jeric led the charge. “Move! Move!” shouted the Sith, hacking his way through a figure brandishing a lightsaber, who just as easily could have been another Sith. “Out of the way!”
Lightning filled the air as the two Sadow Elders brought up the rear, charging across the mountain of corpses littering the battlefield as bolts of dark side energy flew in all directions and the strike team raced up the nearby hill that had been carved in the landscape by the dreadnought’s collision.
“Self-destr—krrsssh—mencing now. Please have a good day.”
The dreadnought wreckage detonated like a supernova. The battlefield directly in front of the team lit up like a nuclear blast, a deafening explosion erupting in the ears of those not wearing helmets as the Sadowans who had not yet cleared the immediate fields outside the ship were hurled skywards. Around them, the Jedi and soldiers who had not been prepared for the explosion were thrown in all directions, many flinging their lightsabers through their neighbours or else skewering themselves on their own weapons. Pieces of burning or flat out molten debris launched outwards from the wrecked hulk like torpedoes, barrelling through the assembled tanks and walkers like they were bowling pins.
A few seconds later, the ringing sound of the explosion receded, and the scene reversed itself, with everything that had been tossed into the air coming crashing down, and a quiet, almost eerie, nearly serene, calm, settling across what had previously been the chaotic killing field, punctuated now only by the crackling of the flames in the pit where had previously rested the downed dreadnought.
For a long few moments, nothing in the Tythonian field moved.
Then, Macron pulled himself to his feet first, his battle armour having automatically locked up and buffeted most of the impact from the strike team’s inevitably rather less than graceful landing. The Son of Sadow looked around, taking in the motionless plains where countless Dark Jedi suddenly found themselves no longer under attack, the Jedi forces having been incinerated by the explosion.
A footstep crunched as it stepped on the cheap plastisteel armour that had been worn by one of the Harakoans, and the alchemist turned to see the two Sadow Elders were already back on their feet. If they had even been knocked over, he reflected. Behind them, Locke, Mirado, Roxas and the others were all slowly pulling themselves back up. Everyone looked the same, covered head to toe in mud.
Macron turned back to the burning hole where the Mandalorian dreadnought had been.
A voice crackled over his comlink as the rest of the strike team staggered toward him.
“November Sierra Actual to strike team. Repeat, November Sie—”
“Strike team here,” coughed Locke, still slightly winded from the team’s impromptu crash landing.
“The Overlord thought you’d like to know that the Jedi forces are in full retreat,” replied Methyas with a distinct air of pride in his voice. “Your plan was a resounding success. You’ve been offered a field promotion to Equite.”
Locke blinked, not having expected anything like that. The sudden elevation struck him almost as much as the self-destruct had. Dyrra stepped over and clapped an arm on the new Krath Priest’s shoulder. “Great job, Director.” The redhead smirked. “You actually put that gorram dreadnought to good use.” The woman pecked him on the cheek affectionately and then stepped back to Manji.
“What about Michael Halcyon?” asked Mirado cautiously.
“The Deputy Grand Master is currently dealing with his brother,” the Consul replied. “Our mission for now is done, however. Rendezvous at the forward operating base until we receive new orders.”
The fellow Miraluka nodded. “Understood.” Mirado nodded again, this time at Macron, and the alchemist closed the channel. It was time to head home. “Great job, everyone. For Sadow!”
The other members of the strike team echoed the cry as they all began back toward the FOB.
Owyhyee, New Tython
The Sadowans marched back to the FOB. Each of them still covered with mud that was now drying and caking to their bodies. Locke noticed Roxas as he was trying to sling the mud from his cape and the crevices of his armor.
“How long will it take to get all that off Roxas?” The Krath asked with a jest.
Roxas removed his helmet and with replied with a grimace “Do you want an honest guess or sarcasm?”
Mirado laughed at the remark while stating “You should go through an auto speeder wash.”
Locke laughed “I would advise against the hot wax though.”
The Mandalorian chuckled “Hot wax might be a bad idea.“
The group crossed from the field into the forest.
Enroute to the Sadow FOB
“Is there a stream or something up ahead? I really need to get some mud off.” Macron asked annoyed that the mud was making it difficult to move.
“No sir.” Was the only reply he got back.
“Well I hope everyone comes to the Crossroads after this; free drinks all around.” The Sergeant said to give the group something to look forward to besides going home.
The mad Alchemist’s vocabulator resonated “Sounds good to me. I could go for a drink.”
Sadowans all across the group chimed in to say that they could all use a drink.
Manji knocked a clump of mud from his kimono as he said “Roxas how far are we from the FOB?”
The Mandalorian lowered his rangefinder before replying “No more than a four clicks…Oh, they didn’t…”
Manji queried with a surprised tone “What?!”
“Well I see large cases of booze at the FOB.” The Obelisk replied with excitement.
Instantly the group began sprinting to the FOB and all at once shouted “BOOOOZE!”
They truly were “Never Sober”.