"Warriors of Naga Sadow, you have been chosen to undertake a long, perilous mission."
The tatami under Manji's feet squeaked in protest as he continued, one brown eye staring fiercely at the Dark Jedi kneeling before him.
"The sole purpose of this operation is to travel to the ice world Loki and determine the state of the old Ragnosian Cathedral there. Whether it is fit for habitation, whether there are any artefacts to be recovered..." At the mention of the word 'artefacts', the eyes of Hunter Macron Goura lit up greedily. "...whether there is any chance that the Cathedral can be transformed into a base of operations- for the benefit of the entire Clan."
A few amongst the group stirred, seeing visions of glory- and rewards. Noticing the ripple, Manji chuckled darkly, lip curving upwards into a superior sneer. For a moment, his language slipped back into it's usual surly, insulting growl.
"Tell me, dogs- you think you've got what it takes?"
A series of nods and chuckles the response, accompanied by a cold, almost reptilian laugh. Glancing sideways at the Falleen Aedile lounging calmly against a paper-screen wall, Manji grinned then looked back at the crowd.
"I'll be blunt- desertion will not be tolerated on this mission- if you try to flee while we are on Loki you will be captured, and your neck will be used for cutting practice to test the edge of my blade."
For emphasis, Manji unsheathed the ancient weapon and levelled it at the group, light glinting off the surface of the polished blade. An awkward silence permeated the room, broken only by nervous laughter as Manji span the blade round and slid it back into it's sheath, grinning widely.
"Understood? Good. Any complaints? No, didn't think so. Now... everyone to the hangar. Operation: Frozen Fortress has begun!"
Xizor observed the seven Dark Jedi, all eager to participate in his Quaestor's expedition. All hungry for power and glory. As they should. The Dark Prince felt no such need for things of that sort. He already had more power and glory than he could possibly wish for. Yet something nagged him, carved deep within his mind.
He felt a thirst... An unending curiosity for the unknown, and Loki would be perfect to satisfy that need. He approached Manji, who was currently studying holopad readouts for the expedition.
"You do realise there is a possibility our party shall be considerably smaller with our return."
"Well," replied Manji cheerfully, "I like to call it 'taking out the garbage'".
Xizor gave his Quaestor a small smile. "I approve of your vileness, Keibatsu."
"As I approve of your shrewdness, Falleen."
Macron Goura, Kat Pridemore, Konar Siosk-Baas, Phantom and his own Apprentice, Lech. All Knights and below. Xizor rolled his eyes inwardly. What could amateurs offer in a mission of that magnitude? Still, some of them had proven their worth on Falleen. Perhaps they would have some uses on Loki, too. Raidoner and Xhedias would be slightly more useful, as Warriors.
He was also annoyed by the percentage of Sith warriors on the mission. The small number of Krath made him feel slightly uneasy. He quickly shrugged the feeling off, however. Empty-headed the Sith might be, most of the time, they were handy in combat.
He fixed his sabre dangling from his belt, as well as his longbow strapped across his back. It had been quite some time since he last used them. Now was the time to do so.
The average height Zabrak stood straight as if showing himself off in front of his peers. Looking slender, none of them knew the ripped muscles underneath his robes that he cared for and toned for optimum use. He half smirked at the Falleen, in which was returned with an uneasy glare.
Turning his head more he looked apon his good freind Raidoner..*but he was in Arcona wasn't he? No matter, he is my brother and shall be watched apon with intense care. Macron, another good freind of his, Konar, an extemelly interesting young sith, Kat, this one will be trouble, she is smart and will use everything to move competition out of the way in case something might happen to the Aedile or Quaestor, leaving the position open all for herself.*
Crossing his arms across his chest he looked back down the line once more and piped in, "Can we move this party down the galaxy or are we going to stop and have a tea party?"
From the darkness a voice sounded, "We will move, when our superiors begin to lead the way, Sith." The last word was emphazized in a mocking manner.
A gleam of reflected light echoed off Xhedias' eye as he turned his head in the direction of the voice. Lech stepped out of the corner he stood in, gripping his double-bladed pike in one hand utilizing it as if it were a cane. He wrapped his robes around him to make it seem as if only his face and pike existed against the dark black background.
Lech strode over to Xizor while the sound of his "cane" tapping the cold floor echoed off the room's walls. "I am prepared to sacrifice my life in the name of darkness, Master." He bowed slightly toward the Falleen and surveyed the rest of the crew.
Snarling at the imbecile Krath, Xhedias unclipped the safety on his saber from the belt and held it in his huge hand. Rolling up the sleeve on his right arm up to the elbow he revealed tendons standing out under the stress and resist to him kicking in the face of the Stennes Shifter. A voice came into the back of his head " Doooooo iittt... crruuusssshhhh himmmmm heee isss weeeaaaker."
"You will not get the glorious opprotunity to sacrafice your life if you talk to me like that again, because I will take it before we even leave for Loki." Xhedias looked around daring for anyone to challenge his skill with the blade.
"For frell's sake," Macron groaned as he laid his hand gently on Xhedias' arm. "We are allies here, yes? So let's stick to fighting our enemies for once, my Sith brother."
Macron sidled up to Lech. "I am sure you meant that as a compliment designed to spur us into great actions, yes?" he spoke with an evil grin as he turned around.
"Empty headed Sith..." Macron muttered. He intended to do his very best to disprove that concept, as he had heard Xizor mention it. Macron was no dolt, and neither were the others here. The dolts had not come. Many of his friends had, however. He was looking forward to this hunt.
"So let's get cracking, there is no time to waste. What recon data do we have? Numbers? Climate? Inhabitants? What? Nobody did the recon yet? " Macron punched in some coordinates as he talked. " Ah, I have it. Let's see... CNS databank, Entry: Loki." Macron read the data to everyone:
"The last of the original home planets of Clan Naga Sadow was Loki. It served as the ice cold home of House Marka Ragnos inside their cathedral, carved from the frozen rock itself. House Marka Ragnos always kept their operations secret and it is presumed that their ice palace still stands, hidden somewhere on the barren surface of Loki. This is especially notable for the Clan tore down all of its other bases during the Great Exodus to ensure none of its secrets would ever be stolen by the false empire of the Imperial Remnant."
The Dark Jedi listened, and then began to formulate a plan.
Χizor listened to Macron, while he fixed his stare on the Zabrak. He was disgusted by the Warrior's nerve, but would never consider him a challenge. He shrugged, and approached Lech.
"I know you feel this mission is beneath you," he spoke in his sibilant whisper. "For now, try to be patient. If not for anything else, for the looting that is to come."
Lech lowered his head. "Yes, Master."
Xizor then turned his attention to the group. Something that Macron said made him intervene. "I believe CNS readings are mistaken. The recon mission we have sent indicates the palace is within the planet, not on it."
"Are you certain?" Macron inquired.
"Well, if it is not the palace, certainly something else of quite immense size is hidden deep in the ice."
"But, if your readouts are correct," said Kat, "to dig through so much ice will take weeks-months!"
"I am certain we shall find an easier way around, Mrs. Pridemore," said Xizor. "Now, let us wait until Manji is ready."
Pushing the two swords through his obi, Manji checked the new, still shiny, custom-built lightsabre hanging from the belt then straightened up and relaxed his shoulders with a sigh. Turning to face the assorted Dark Jedi, he smacked his hands together and gestured towards the door of the office.
"What're you all standin' around for? Get to the ships!"
As they darted out of the office, moving purposefully through the corridors of the Cathedral, Manji followed with one arm inside his kimono, scratching the stubble on his chin idly. Stepping through the automated door into the hangar, Manji looked around at the chaos of various Dark Jedi trying to find their fighters then nodded.
"Leave your fighters. Everybody on board Astronicus' Reach."
As they moved on board the beetle-shaped Cruiser, admiring the sleek exterior of the mighty ship, Manji and Xizor followed calmly, exchanging ideas. Rubbing the back of his neck, the Archpriest chuckled wryly.
"I have no doubt that we'll face opposition on Loki- from what I've found, the indigenous population isn't exactly friendly. And they'll probably take offence to nine heavily-armed warriors landing on their planet. We should prepare for battle during the trip."
Easing the first few inches of the katana out of it's scabbard, Manji inspected the delicate temper line of the weapon and grinned excitedly.
"Yes, precious- you'll get to taste blood soon."
Moments later a roar of sound filled the hangar as the engines of the Astronicus' Reach ignited, the ship slowly lifting off and maneuvring it's way out of the open roof of the hangar. Twisting round, the craft soared up into Tarthos' atmosphere, slicing through thin clouds as it burst upwards through the atmosphere and into the cosmos beyond.
Finding the flight through the cathedral amusing, the Zabrak plopped himself down on one of the chairs inside the cruiser. Immediately he felt the comfortably of it and leaned back, ready to take a cat nap before he drove his saber of light into any aliens, or other Dark Jedi for that fact. Hearing the lulling of the engine, it began to put him to sleep until his friend sat down next to him.
"Hey Xhed, ready for some adventuring?" Raidoner said enthusiastically.
"You know it, most of all, I'm ready to prove myself to all these fools."
Raidoner looked at him helplessly, Xhedias looked back, tilted his head and closed his eyes. With the murmur of idle chat, the slender being quickly fell asleep, keeping one hand on his saber, not trusting many of the people on the ship. He wasn't sure what he saw, it looked like a tall pyramid, then it quickly changed into a building that resembled a manor. He saw many other sentient beings around him that didn't look much like his comrades.
He could see the sabers of the Dark Knights around him and the occasional gleam of reflection of metal. Xhedias had the thought that it would be fun, but he couldn't tell if it was his imagination playing tricks on him or if it was an actual scene he was picturing in his head.
Lech and Kat sat at a table playing a game of pazaak while they waited for the ship to arrive on the cold surface of the ancient planet. Although their activity was meant to kill time, Lech was hardly able to concentrate through the steady rain of thoughts in his head.
He had never been to Loki, but he had a feeling that he would enjoy the weather there. He had always been more comfortable in cold weather and the extremes that this planet would bring would be welcome.
Another thought crossed his mind. What kind of creatures inhabited this planet? Quite possibly there would be Wampa commonly seen on another now famous planet, but what else could survive in those elements? Perhaps the only way to answer this was to actually wait until the ship touched the surface.
"Hey Kat," Lech said in a curious tone, "What exactly are we looking for?"
"The cathedral of course." Kat replied.
"I don't know, I think we are actually searching for something a little more important than that. I mean, why would we look for the cathedral now? I understand that it would be helpful for us to have another base of operations, but I've got a feeling that there is something a little more important down there than just simple artefacts and a cathedral. I..." He immediatly stopped speaking as Manji walked into the room.
Manji narrowed his eyes as he saw Lech suddenly stop talking. "You have something to say?"
"No...sir. Nothing." Lech gulped.
"Well next time you decide to whisper, remember that I can listen in from anywhere on the ship if I wish." Manji said in a defiant tone.
"Yes sir." Lech and Kat said simultaniously.
Xizor, who was sitting nearby, studying the planetary readouts, approached Manji. "He suspects," he whispered.
"As was to be expected," the Quaestor replied. "Hopefully we'll keep those suspicions being just that. Until, at least, the time is right."
"Understand that our group is not comprised of fools, Keibatsu," the Falleen said, his voice now barely audible. "If they find out about our plan, I can not guarantee our safety."
"Trust me," said Manji, winking.
Xizor merely stared into space for some time, and then turned to his Apprentice. "Something troubles you, Apprentice."
"Truly, Master," Lech replied. "It feels as if... It feels as if I'm being goaded into this mission by something beyond my grasp."
"Perfectly normal suspicion, given the fact that we are facing the unknown. I would suggest you ignore it. It would do you nothing but harm."
"As you wish, Master."
Χizor smiled inwardly. And so it begins..
The Spear was traveling through hyperspace, and Macron was gazing out the window.
The prismatic streaks of light reminded him of atoms, like the acicular molecules in a cortosis alloy.
Watching the stars like this was a mediatation for him. Every Jedi had their own method, and this was his. The Jedi Hunter's mind stilled like a quiet black pond.
Macron felt a presence in his mind briefly, one of the Dark spirit that haunted his dreams. Darth Malak had not spoken to him in a long time, ever since a battle with Manji some time ago. The spirit did not speak now, but rather fed Macron an impression of ice and cold.
And something else. Some horrible thing, awaiting them all beneath the ice. Then the breath of the spectre was gone, like fog on a hot morning. The Dark shade manifesting always meant pain for the Sith apprentice.
Macron snapped to, and sought his master for an explanation of the omen. Manji was chatting with Xizor, who then turned away and was conversing with his apprentice Lech.
"Master, I feel death awaits us there," spoke Macron.
"Of course it does, you idiot," said Manji. "Death and change are true certainties in life, and they are related. Study the texts I gave you to learn more. Look inside yourself.
And get me a coffee."
Macron bowed and poured, and then went to study as directed. As he walked away, Manji spoke again. "And if you learn something about that portent, tell us immediately."
Xhedias' eyes snapped open in a eerie manner when he heard those words uttered. He continued to look up at the ceiling as if he hadn't waken.
"Master, I feel death awaits us there," spoke Macron.
"Of course it does, you idiot." said Manji.
Not knowing whether he was just in a meditation or actually sleeping he actually thought the vision to be true.
"The feeling is suppressing not just me, but others on their way to this planet also." whispering to himself the Zabrak brought his head down and looked around the cabin. Macron was walking past him and he managed to catch a look from Kat.
"Hey sleepy head, want somethin' to drink?"
Not saying a word the Sith nodded, Kat giggled and poured liquid from two bottles into a container. Handing it to Xhedias, Kat giggled once more and waited for him to taste it. Bringing the cup to his mouth he sipped it, wondering what kind of foul poison that she could have put in it, waiting to quickly call the force to extract it from his body. Tilting his head to the side his face scrunched together.
"Burben and blue milk?"
Kat giggled again, "Vodka and pink lemonade."
Making a satisfied noise with his throat he began to sip more of it. "You always know how to surprise me while making it taste great." Kat took the compliment silently and winked at him, beginning to screen her datapad for any usable information on the road ahead. Xhedias saw Nekura chatting with the Aedile, wondering what he was saying, trying to read his lips for anything possible that he would need to know about, most of all, the feelings that have been coming over Macron and himself.
As the 'Reach glided through the corridors of hyperspace, through a vortex of swirling blue light, Manji excused himself then strode through the innards of the ship towards the bridge. Stepping through the sliding doors, the Archpriest glanced around then calmly moved towards the control deck.
Turning swiftly, the Twi'lek clicked his heels together and saluted, all too aware of the penalties for not showing the correct respect to a Dark Jedi.
"What's our position?"
Glancing back at the display, Sarafin checked over the numbers then nodded.
"We're just nearing the Minos Cluster now, sir... we'll be entering the system in a couple of cycles."
Grinning slightly, Manji nodded to the Captain then turned away, hand still on the hilt of his katana out of habit. As he strode away from the bridge the Captain breathed a silent sigh of relief, wiping the sweat from his forehead then turning back to the controls.
In an almost frightening jolt Astronicus' Reach burst into being, darting out of hyperspace to cruise through the outskirts of the Minos Cluster. Shifting course slightly, the ship began to veer towards a floating ball of ice in the distance, the ice world Loki. Glancing out of the front window, Captain Sarafin reached down to the comm system and began to speak into it.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Loki is dead ahead. We'll be touching down ASAP."
Newly transferred to Clan Naga Sadow Raidoner a long time member of Naga Sado's rival Clan Arcona appeared to be at ease when he heard that the expedition was finally arriving to its destination Planet Loki.
Raidoner, a true follower of the Dark Side meditated thru the entire voyage while keeping to himself. He remembers battling Quaestor Keibatsu a while back at the Antei, but now he follows his former rival in an expedition to seek a temple of great importance value to the Clan.
Loki a frozen planet seemed like the perfect to center ones focus with the force, Raidoner knew this and that is why he volunteered for this expedition. The knowledge of the First Sith Lords always raised Raidoner's interest.
As the ship began its landing sequence, Raidoner checked his lightsaber and made sure it was well in tuned to its crystal, his Mandalorian armor was as much weather resistant as it was combat sturdy.
Xhedias still a bit annoyed by Lech's behavior before the expedition departed asked Raidoner if he saw the purpose of having Kraths on this expedition?
Raidoner replies "They will serve their purpose"
At that moment Captain Sarafin announces that they have landed on Loki and for all personnel to please stand by for further orders from Quaestor Keibatsu.
Raidoner eagerly awaits to get out and explore these ruins deep with in the planets icecaps, this is truly Raidoners chance to prove himself as a worthy new member to Clan Naga Sadow.
Xhedias stood up and looked around, watching the movements of the other Dark Jedi. Keeping completely silent he poked his comrade, Raidoner. Getting a dirty look from the other Warrior, he threw a rather large fur lined robe over him that he found. Smirking, he made his way to the equipment hold and grabbed a small pack full of rations and equipment that would be necessary on the trip to the ice planet.
Hearing foot steps down the corridor the Sith quickly glanced toward the sounds, putting a hand on his saber he realized it was Macron. Easing his hand off his saber, he finished packing up and before he was ready to leave the Hunter began to speak.
"Are you ready to die for your Clan?"
"I won't being dieing any time soon."
"You are so unloyal that you wouldn't die for your Clan?"
"You misunderstand me Hunter, I WON'T be dieing on this frozen hell hole, if it's the last thing I do."
Xhedias walked past Macron and proceeded down to the ramp. Crossing his arms he began to tap his foot impatiently, ready to start any possibly slaying and loot any possible items that might be of worth to Clan Summit. Kat stood across from him now, grinning she leaned on the hull of the ship while Xhedias wanted to laugh, but couldn't force it out. With the two standing at the ramp way they waited for the moronic Captain to put the ship down on the surface.
As the ships main hatch opened Raidoner could smell the cold dry climate air as it hit his armors helmet main filter, for miles all that the eye can see was an eerie blue glow from the ice. It was night in Loki and the twin moons shine reflected on the icy surface making it look like it was almost daylight.
"I have traveled many worlds and I have not encountered anything like this before, the Dark Side of the force is strong here undisturbed for eons" Raidoner says to Xhedias, who is sneaking snips of Correlian Brandy while shivering.
"So what? Yavin 4 and the moon of Dxun in the Onderon system had the same Dark aura and yet it isolated its followers" Xhedias answered.
"This is different, this is a pure, clean sence of the Dark Side of the force...As if the Dark Side is meant to be here...Can you not feel its flow?" Raidoner say to Xhedias.
"Of Course I do, Xhedias answers as he takes another swig from his flask making sure he is not spotted by the other members of the expedition.
Raidoner walks up to Quaester Keibatsu to await orders of his assignment and to find out wether the team was branching out in groups or staying together.
Macron knew Xhedias felt the darkness as well. His question in the halls of the ship was rhetorical, really.
This icy ball of rock contained a dark power, and it seemed innate rather than acquired like Dxun or Yavin four. This made Macron wonder. He double checked his suit controls on his Sith Combat Jumpsuit as he made sure his gear was properly rigged.The dim reddish lights of the display lit Macron's face from below, blending in with his black and red tattoos.
The alchemist began a full geological scan of the surface, using the sensors aboard Astronicus' Reach. Deep penetrating scans reported a large mass under the ice some few kilometers away. Other things showed their telltale signatures. Ice, rock, and some metal ores were the most plentiful, with nonmetallics like sulfur being relatively uncommon.
Very little tectonic activity was shown, as evidenced by the cold dead surface of this world. No volcanism to speak of recently, but some had occured in the far distant past.
Macron concentrated continued to peck at the keyboard as Kat walked up. "What's up Mac?" asked the Krath Jedi Hunter. The Sith looked up from his data as he grinned a broad smile.
"We're in luck- this planet has some unusual mineral formations. Not the least of which is a small deposit of adegan. And possibly a vein of cortosis ore, but the readings are really weird."
Manji walked up, and surveyed the results. "I think the deposits have sometihng to do with the Dark side power here," spoke the Hunter as his master nodded.
Casually following the armoured Warrior, he to went to go find out his new orders, hoping it would be searching and destroying something. Now seeing the four huddled around a datapad, Kat, Macron, Raidoner and Nekura seemed to be peering at it. Not thinking anything of it he hurried over and pushed his way into the circle. Looking around everyone looked back at him at once, the Zabrak thought that was a tad odd and had to ask.
"What are you fools looking at?"
Nekura instantly put his hand on his sword, Xhedias smirked and thought he would challenge it this time. Knowing it would do the Quaestor no good to lose a Warrior this soon in the expedition, he removed his hand from the hilt and continued with what he was saying.
"Maybe these deposits have something to do with where the Cathedral is at..."
Xhedias laughed at the thought and wondered what the Krath wanted him to do. Rubbing his biceps from the chilliness he continued to wait for his orders.
"Rich in resources, Water plentiful cause of the ice and cold weather adapted creatures that are usually always fat to resist the low temperature, that means we can remain on this planet for as long as it takes to find these temples" Raidoner says to Nekura Manji.
The Quaestor of Marka Ragnos only smiles as he is extremely pleased with the findings of the Alchemist.
"Yes but we still will have to deal with the indigenous inhabitants of this planet for we are now invading their space and using their resources, so lets not make ourselves at home just as yet" Manji says to the group.
"Yes the initial probe droids we sent out to recon the area where destroyed by these so called indigenous inhabitants" Macron say to the group backing up Manji's statement.
"We know nothing of these inhabitants because all that make the mistake or better said the misfortune of landing here have never left the planet or ever heard of again and with the Dark Side of the force flowing strongly in this planet I can bet that these indigenous aliens will be 100 times more fierce than a Tuskan Warrior back on Tatooine" Raidoner says calmly as he fills his backpack with bacta stims and strength enhancing spice.
Raidoner watches Xhedias as he preps up some scanning droids with blasters in case they run into any animals or alien life forms as they scan the area for activity and asks him for a swig of his Correlian Brandy.
"I brought an extra bottle" Xhedias says as he tosses it to Raidoner.
Raidoner slowly sips the brandy as its effects broaden his sences, then tosses Xhedias a bottle of Mandalorian wine.
"That's for when we arrive to the temple" Raidoner says to Xhedias as Xhedias quickly packs the rare Mandalorian wine in his satchel.
Lech keeps a keen eye Xhedias as he is getting ready to issue out the datapads to the entire expedition, a precaution that will help surviving members learn to avoid the possible ill-fate of their comrades.
Kat was quiet, watching the group. She had made certain her pack was together shortly before they arrived. No need to make a last minute rush. But, there seemed to be some tension in the group already between the Sith and Krath… between Xhedias and Lech… and she was certain she noted some frowning coming from Xizor as he noticed the group composition. She could only hope to keep peace.
The Huntress smiled to each of them in turn, keeping the group mood slightly elevated, while she kept her thoughts about the mission to herself. She knew how to keep her mouth closed and observe, and some of the glances between Manji and Xizor made her worry. Kat didn’t have time to think about it – the tension in her group was a more pressing concern.
Slipping in next to Xhedias as he packed his bag, she quietly queried, “Heya Xhed?” Kat offered Xhedias her flask again.
With a slight grin, he looked down at Kat. “No, thanks. What’s up?”
“I know Lech was a bit much back there…” she started, without confirming or denying any sort of wrongdoing, “but would you mind horribly being a little bit more patient? I don’ think you have a problem with me, and I’m Krath.” Xhedias started to glower a little at the mention of Lech, but seeing the hopeful expression, he softened.
“I’ll let him be if he keeps away from me.” Kat leapt up thrilled, giving Xhedias a quick hug, “Thank you.” As Xhedias laughed, she turned back to find Lech. She would get some peace from the two of them if she had to shake them. But if it worked, this would be a better way.
Kat slowly approached Lech. He was packing his bag. “Lech?” He looked up with a small smile.
“What’s up Kat?”
“I was just wondering if you could give Xhedias a bit of a break…” trailing off, the Huntress smiled convincingly at Lech. “He’s just trying to make certain he has a place. Would you just try for me?”
Lech shrugged. “I don’ intend on harassing him, if he leaves me alone.” With a nod and a smile, Kat gave him a quick hug. “Thanks Lech. We don’t need to be fighting among ourselves if we can help it.”
Kat sighed as she walked away, wondering how long the peace would last. She didn’t think it would take much to shatter it.
Looking around he pulled the top of his Correlian Brandy and took another swig, letting the warm feeling over take his body. He dropped down, sitting on his knees and put his hands on his hips. Putting his head down and closing his eyes he dozed off into a medative sleep, slowing his heartbeat into that of a coma, except he had full control of it. He tried to focus his thoughts on the possible upcoming battle from the shape those drones were in, but he seemed to be concentrating more the Krath, a certain one to be exact. Kat Pridemore. The statement seemed to play back over and over in his head but he couldn't figure out why. "I don’ think you have a problem with me, and I’m Krath.”
Why would I have a problem with her? She is one of the few friends I have here in Naga Sadow. I would die for her...
He thoughts shattered, he was being poked in the side by someone that should lose their head for disturbing him. It was Nekura..
"Get up, get ready to move, we found a band that destroyed our drones, the blasters you attached to them seemed to give us the split second needed to send coordinates back here. Your in charge, I want you to make friends with them or I want you to destroy every LAST one of them. Take with you who you think will be suitable for the expedition."
Looking around he looked at the possible candidates, Raidoner, a must, but who else would he take? Macron would be busy with data reads around camp, Nekura and Xizor busy running things, Konar and Phantom, who were now playing sabacc, Lech, who he promised to stay away from then there was the final person. Kat...who he did not want to see get hurt but he knew she was capable of handling herself in combat, that she proved time over time. What do I do?
The ice core drilling machine rumbled as Macron coaxed it deeper into the frozen crust.
"C'mon baby, just a few more meters....," the Alchemist chanted. The rig stopped in mid-spin with a rending sound, sending shards of metal flying everywhere.
"That's odd," Macron wondered aloud as he ducked for cover. Hot shards of metal pinged around him, bouncing off the canopy of the machine.
"That damn thing was rated high-torsion, and should have been capable of cracking much tougher material. What in the name of Darkness did I hit?"
Several shards of metal came up with the shattered drill bit as Macron retrieved it. He grasped one, and promptly walked off to his auto analyzer. He noticed Xhedias deep in thought, and walked by with a nod as there was precious little time to waste.
The sample was fresh, and yielded some surprising results. The components included hydrogen and oxygen as water ice, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and minor neon gas.
That was not unusual, but the high concentration of duranium was. Duranium was rare, expensive, and very tough. It was perfect for the walls of an armored fortress.
Traces of radioactive wastes confirmed the existance of a power source at one time, and radioactive decay analysis gave an age that fit with the supposed fortress.
" I'll be damned," said Macron as Xizor and Manji arrived to query him. "I think I have found your fortress, gentlemen. Right here."
The Sith put his foot on the ground beneath him. "Only catch- it's a kilometer straight down."
As Lech stood and watched Macron telling the crew they had hit the fortress, Lech brushed off the snow that had been building up on his shoulders. A quick shiver coursed through his body, but it was unclear wether it was due to the cold Loki air, or some unseen force they had just uncovered.
Lech walked over to the duranium, bent down and rapped on the surface with his knuckles.
Xizor explained, "We're going to need to get down there."
Lech replied, "There might be a vent of some sort that penetrates the surface. Without one, this stronghold might be deadly to enter due to gaseous fumes built up over the years."
Xizor turned to Manji and exchanged a momentary glance with the quaester. Macron looked at them curiously wondering what the two had in mind but was cut short by Lech.
"We need to get some cover soon. I've been to planets similar to this one and judging by the color and paterns of the clouds, we're in for a brutal storm."
"If you don't stop cheating, I swear I'll kick your little Obelisk ass goodbye!"
Konar was pissed. He had been secretly knocking off stubbies ever since the start of the journey, and was eager to start skiing. Phantom had the upper hand again, and Konar was too drunk to be able to use force telepathy to uncover the faces on all of Phantom's cards.
As he was just about to make his next move the words, "I think I have found your fortress, gentlemen. Right here.", grabbed his attention. The Jedi Hunter had sure done his homework and was beginning to make Konar jealous at his ability to best the group in certain areas. He immediatly spun around to face the Jedi Hunter when he fell off his chair and into the cold snow. He barely even noticed it was cold, and within seconds he was asleep. A dream followed in due course:
'' "You have been a naughty boy. It's time Katy taught you a lesson" '
'He was tied to the post of a bed as he heard the cracking of a whip against the hard marbled floor he was kneeling on. Soon the whip would be on him and he'd be licking his own blood. He liked the idea, but liked to create a scene where possible and thus he started to respond.'
' "Merci. Merci! I have been a good boy. I really have..." '
' The whip began to whistle through the air behind Konar as he started to get excited '' ''
"Konar! Konar! Wake the hell up! We've found it no thanks to you."
It was Xhedias.
((OOC: Sorry to come in late but I had a busy week (as most of the weeks will be this year). Forgive me if I seem a bit lost. And what the hell is Sabaac?
(I assumed it was a card game
"Now that I have your attention, grab your stuff, we are going on a little trip."
"Huh?" Konar replied stupidly.
"Don't make me repeat it again, hurry up."
Konar still had the dumbfounded look on his face and picked up his pack from where it was laying. He rose to his feet and slung the pack over his shoulders then hurrying along like a dog behind his master. Xhedias and Raidoner were a decent way to their destination. Finally catching up to the two Sith, he quickly had to imply his thoughts.
"So, uh, what are we doing?"
"Either making friends or decimating their whole tribe." Xhedias spat.
"I can't wait to see some combat, but I think it would be more beneficial if we befriended them."
Xhedias shot Raidoner a look that would have turned water to ice. Raidoner smiled beneath his helmet, then suddenly tapping it to see if the sensors were right.
The Knight and Warriors were to busy chatting to feel them coming, all three were hit from behind by the beasts. On their stomachs they all stood up with lightsabers in hand, the blades snapped to life, a mix of red, white and blue light reflecting off the ice and snow they were standing on.
"They look like squills from the planet Tatooine, tough hide to endure the heat of Tatooine and the chill of Loki....." Raidoner said astonished.
Snarling and raking their claws through the air they formed a circle around the three Dark Jedi, closing the circle slowly, with nine of them making up the circle.
"Just out of sight of the camp to call for help too..." Konar said as if almost depressed.
"We won't need help if they continue on their path to death." Xhedias said with Raidoner nodding in agreement.
The three Dark Jedi thought they heard something from the biggest of the nine, in its raspy and gurgling voice it said something... "Home. Follow."
"What the f-." Raidoner couldn't believe it.
"Deactivate sabers, we will follow them, for now." Xhedias said reluctantly as he began to follow the disgusting looking squill.
The three came to a halt as the squills looked back at them curiously. Raidoner pulled the comm unit out of his pocket to contact Nekura, tapping it to receive connection and see if it was working he began to speak into it.
"Sir...you may want to see this, I believe we found an alternate route inside..."
"Wh-- Y-- -ak-- -- sense, ---our breaking --p."
Xhedias smirked devishly. "Well, looks like we get to explore a tad more."
"Xhed, it looks like they nested inside the cave....or outside it..." Konar said distraught.
"Unbelievable... this is going to be fun, proceed, don’t let any of them stop you." Xhedias commanded. "This is going to be a riot."
((OOC: Sabacc is a game of "21" with cards. You guessed it
. Let the fun begin....))
EDIT: spelling error, sorry
Ambient light glinted off ice crystals and stalactites inside the cave, casting a chill light over the three Dark Jedi. As they strode deeper into the cave, glancing around curiously, a deep, throaty roar came from inside the cave. Suddenly light burst from several large crystals within the cave, illuminating a crowd of dark shapes.
Four of the squills lay calmly at the feet of a human- or humanoid- figure, the other five circling warily, eyes on the Dark Jedi. As Xhedias, Raidoner and Konar moved closer a growl rose amongst the group. Instantly the human figure stepped forward, raising it's hand. The squill quietened obediently, calming down. Slowly the figure moved forwards, into the light.
Cold blue light shone off a flint-topped spear, silver dreadlocks hanging from the figure's head and down his back. A cold sneer crossed his face as he surveyed the three Dark Jedi, unimpressed by their outlandish clothes and strange laser swords.
Stepping back, Xhedias pulled his radio out and spoke urgently into it.
"Nekura, I think we need reinforcements. Nine squill and a native warrior- he seems pretty strong. If he can control the squill like that, he must be."
On the other end of the commlink Manji frowned in annoyance.
"Damn Sith, show them an enemy and they flake out. Let's get over there."
Ignoring the slight to his order's honour, Macron packed his gear away then straightened up, pulling out the long chain that was his trademark weapon. Around them the other Dark Jedi got
their weapons ready then marched after the Archpriest as he strode into the blizzard.
"Raid? Any ideas?"
"Well, we could annihilate him."
As the Sith stared fiercely at the native warrior he chuckled darkly, laughter echoing off the walls of the cavern. Then he moved forward, spear moving into what was unmistakably an attack position. Suddenly a harsh voice rang out behind the three Sith.
"Drop that weapon or lose a hand."
Glancing up, the warrior grinned then pulled his spear back, staring at the new group of Dark Jedi just moving into the cave. Then he spoke in a harsh, guttural language.
"Ak'tur sehr shyran?"
Gesturing mildly to the Dark Jedi around him, Manji folded his arms and sneered as they swarmed past- Lech, Kat, Phantom, Xizor and Macron, all armed and ready to slay.
"Have fun, guys."
((For now, please do not post; pending approval, the ACC event will begin ASAP. Watch your inboxes for the battle notification. ^_^))
As the bloodied corpse of the primitive warrior fell to the icy ground, Manji began to clap slowly, a dry chuckle emanating from his throat.
"That took long enough..."
Turning, the Archpriest moved out of the cave and into the howling blizzard outside. The wind had picked up as the fight progressed, whipping up the snow falling to the surface of Loki and transforming it into a raging snowstorm. Ignoring the cold wind that bit into his skin, Manji looked back at the Dark Jedi still inside the cave and waved a hand.
"Come on, back to the camp. Before we had this little fiasco Macron found our fortress in the ice. I want to dig that thing out and have a look around."
As they neared the encampment, Macron was studying the Duranium barely protruding from the vast nothingness of white snow. “Have we found a way in yet?” Manji asked the hunter as he tread through the snow that was now up to his shins.
“Well, I scanned the ground beneath us using a thermal scanner and I was able to produce a crude rough image of what the fortress actually looks like. An entrance appears to be about 70 paces north of here and perhaps 25 paces below the surface. It looks to be a roof hatch of some sort,” replied Macron.
Lech pulled his hood up over his head to protect himself from the wind that seemed to penetrate his clothing anyway. The wind howled so loud that the conversation would have been inaudible had they not been screaming.
“We’re going to need to get in that blasted fortress soon or my robotic arm will freeze up from the damage I took in my fight.” Lech replied while examining the loose wires protruding from his arm.
Xizor nodded, “Let’s get moving then. We can only warm up if we stay mobile.” Macron led the way while examining his data pad followed by the Quaester and Aedile of House Marka Ragnos. The rest followed, looking around, hoping to see further than only the 10 paces ahead of them that the snow allowed them to see. If there were still some natives in the area, they could easily catch their group off guard.
The group walked single file. Lech could only see Kat walking in front of him. He could not see whom she followed but he was sure they all were still following Macron. “Hey Kat! I don’t remember where we left our ship!”
“I don’t remember either but we’ll handle that problem when the time arrives. For now, we must get inside the fortress!”
Kat walked, watching the back of Raidoner as they stumbled along the icy cave. The sound of Lech's voice startled her from her internal monologue. She didn't know what to expect, but something wasn't quite right. Figuring that out would take a bit more than just her intuition.
She would keep spirits up the best she could, but this was going to be a tough trek. She smiled at Lech as she told him that she didn't know exactly where they left the ship, but that really was only one of the many things they had to worry about here. The Huntress nursed her bruises in silence, as she stumbled along. Raidoner glanced back everyone once in awhile to make certain she was there, and she checked on Lech. The only way they were going to make it was to stick together.
The shadows in the tunnels made everything seem even more treacherous. Keeping her eyes on her feet wasn't the answer, since then she would run into Raidoner. That combined with the sounds through the tunnel made the group a little jumpy. The whistling wind through the cavern was a bit eerie, and the blinding snow kept them close together.
The team trudged along in silence, with the wind biting at any bare skin. The wind pulled and pushed its way under most of their clothing, chilling them to the bone. They finally stopped when Macron’s voice whipped past them; "This is the place."
As they all huddled around Macron and his scanner, the area was just a drift of ice and snow. No sign of any inhabitation was obvious in that vicinity. Although not saying it aloud, all Kat could think was "Now what?"
The extreme conditions that the Zabrak was use to growing up on his home planet of Iridonia was similiar in a way to the biting winds. Tilting his head to the side he cracked his neck, readjusting it from the fight with the so called warrior. Xhedias forced his eyes shut, demanding the force around him to obey and do as he wishes. A bead of sweat dripped down from his hairless head as the cut in her shoulder slowly began to mend together. Doubled over, he stopped controling the force due to his exhaustion.
"Well lets go in already, kind of the point we came here. Where is it Macron?"
Kat glared at him and rubbed her shoulder tenderly.
"Uh, the door...is riiiiight..." his outstreched finger hovered around the wall before settling down in one spot, "here."
"Xhed, break the door down." The slave driving Manji commanded.
"I'm not YOUR lackey. If memory serves me right you choose Macron's ability with a blade over mine." Xhedias smirked at the fact that he was causing trouble purley for the sake of causing trouble. Manji commanded him once again to crush the door with a low growl.
Laughing he lifted one foot up and slammed it into the wooden door. One of the boards strained under the pressure of the Warrior, lifting his foot back up, he repeated the technique several times. Now standing on the door Kat sighed heavily.
"Always so abusive with things, the door WAS unlocked." She said demonstrating the free twisting handle.
"Then....someone was...EXPECTING us..." Macron said still peering at his scanner.
Feeling a little perplexed as to what was happening following another few bottles being knocked off, Konar trudged over to the broken down doorway, giving Xhed a knock to the side in the process and calling out in a nearly incomprehensible phrase.
"Sawwwright. Deese folks az mines!"
(It's alright. These folks are mine!)
The Sith warrior scowled at the drunk and bewildered dark jedi knight as he continued trudging into the darkness that lay beyond the opening. Kat asked completely astonished,
"Should we go off after him? He's drunk and could end up hurting himself if not killed by the hostile primitives that possibly lurk in these caves beforehand"
Xhed began to fold his arms as he quickly reassured her.
"Don't worry, it's Konar. He often goes walk about when in a completely drunk state. He usually finds his way out of these circumstances and returns in reasonably good tact."
Suddenly a frown swept over the Zabrak's face as he continued.
"Unfortunately when the effects of the alcohol wear off he has been known to get very edgy, and might even end up causing the whole cave to tumble in anger, if not upsetting the abundant wildlife around in a saber involved haste"
Macron began to shudder at the thought of one of his squadron members becoming uncontrollable as he started to suggest in a slightly hurried tone.
"Can we please just proceed? Manji seems to be getting quite agitated at our recent lack of progress, and I suggest we move on before he does something he might regret"
The whole pack nodded in agreement before stomping through the opening. The impact of the group's stomps causing slight vibrations and making miniature icicles fall to the ground.
Kat hurried in, watching Konar stumble before her. She stepped out of the door way, carefully looking around, but holding tight to her whip handle, just in case.
Lech, Xhedias, Raidoner, and Macron all took the same approach, sliding into the darkness but keeping their weapons at the ready. A noise of something scurrying brough their attention momentarily - but it was just a small creature, not a threat.
Kat stepped forward again, watching Konar crash into the wall before standing upright again. He seemed to get his bearing again for a moment, before he landed on the floor. But, this time it didn't appear that he was getting up.
As concern covered her face, she started to hurry a bit down the path. Xhedias noticed, and he quickly followed, concerned that she would miss an obvious threat. They moved down the darkened hallway towards their companion. Raidoner, Lech, and Macron followed, with Manji bringing up the rear of the party. They were trying to find a way into the palace, but they didn't need to get seperated and lost.
The first thing she noticed as she started walking was the change of footing. The floor here was smooth - not rough and icy like the rest. This section seemed much more refined - the walls were much smoother, and their were beams in sections of the cavern, ensuring stability to the roof. This area had been preserved by someone. Kat had a feeling they would know who made these changes soon enough.
As Xhedias and Kat made it to Konar, they noticed that he was still. Very still. With a frown, Kat leaned to take his pulse.
Lech almost bumped into Kat while scouting behind him to make sure Manji followed the crew. “Why did we stop? What is everyone looking at?”
“Back away slowly.” Konar whispered through clenched teeth. He started treading carefully backwards making sure he did not trip over his fellow Jedi. They moved as one, each moving their feet at the same instant with Lech still unsure of what they had seen.
As they carefully retreated, all Lech could see was cold ebony shadows of an unlit hall. As he tried to focus his eyes in the pitch-blackness there was an instant where he thought he saw a flash of burgundy against the ebony. Were they eyes? If so, whatever creature owned them was very large as the diameter of the eyes was twice the size of Lech’s head.
The ground began to shift under their feet, accompanied by thunderous thumps. Lech squinted harder to see what pursued them then laughed as he realized what the creature was. “It’s just a fambaa guys! Although I’m not sure why one is here on Loki.”
“Perhaps it is protecting something,” replied Raidoner. “I know the gungans like to use them to carry shield generators. Perhaps there is something nearby.”
“Hmmm. Makes sense. Although, wouldn’t someone need to feed it on occasion? Either this is some kind of immortal beast, which is highly unlikely, or someone else is down here,” said Lech with a frown.
"If someone is down here, lets go knock on their door and wake them up." Xhedias said with a dark attitude.
"Sounds like a good a plan as any." Phantom said from the rear of the party, Raidoner nodding to her words.
"Well then, if nobody cares, we can go find Mr. Im-gonna-hide-in-my-room. First, sparky is going to have to get out of the way."
Kat looked at Xhedias with an astonished look on her face. "Xhed, you CAN'T kill it, we have to find some way to get around it."
"We could be going through it if you didn't have such a loving aspect for stupid animals that get in my way."
Konar stood up and looked at the two fighting with eachother.
"Ummm, konar....Why do you have a wet spot in your pants?" Kat said a little curiously but trying not to giggle as she said it. Xhedias shook his head and came back to the topic at hand.
"I wanna go see the fruit that owns this place, and I WILL take control of this cathedral. To do that the fastest way is to go through sparky. Anyone else have a problem with it?"
Edit : gotta love spelling errors
"I have a problem with it. Isn't that enough?" Kat glowered at Xhedias. She glanced around at the rest of the team. "Its a plant eater. Why don't we just go around it?" Kat shrugged and stood back, watching to see how this would turn out. It appeared that no one wanted to challenge Xhedias. Lech, the only one who would, didn't care.
The group looked uncertain, but mutters finally emerged. "Let's try it. If he gives us a problem, Xhedias, then you can kill it." In the chorus of agreement, they began retracing their steps to the monstrous reptile. The beast just looked at them, a mild interest seeming to flick through the beasts eyes before he returned to the stack of greenery that has been provided for his dinner.
Whispering, Lech commented, "Its obvious that someone has been here recently - otherwise the food wouldn't be so green anylonger."
Nodding in agreement, Kat kept alert. Any movement could be a sign of trouble. Any second another obstacle could appear. Just as the though crossed through her mind, a movement crossed her vision. Stopping to look closer, she noticed a shadow from behind the Fambaa. As it darted away, Kat pointed and gave chase. She kept silent to avoid bringing attention to her persuit from the one being chased.
Noticing her sudden speed, Lech started to follow. As he hurried to follow, the rest of the group began to take action as well. Kat followed quietly, tugging her whip out as she ran down the winding corridor in the darkened cavern.
The animal obviously frightened from the quick movements, reared back. With enough space in the room for the large animal to rear, kat stopped in her tracks with the whole party looking up.
"Can't say I didn't warn ya.." Xhedias said mockingly.
Kats eyes went big as the faamba came back down to the palace floor, creating a rumbling shockwave through the ground. Being so close to the shockwave, everyone was knocked down momentarily, dazed and limbs numb. Konar groaned, the pounding made his headache worse than it already was. Xhedias stood up gingerly and rubbed the back of his head, unclipping the saber from his belt. Igniting the red saber with a hiss, he walked silently over to the bucking beast.
"NO! Xhed!" Kat protested as quickly got up and put herself between the dangerous beast and the Zabrak.
"We tried to get around, now we will get around."
The human women closed her eyes and began to access the mind of the beast, using her unatural caring and finesse to calm it. The beast settled down and even layed down, allowing them the pass.
"You make things difficult."
"You're right, I take the more challenging road."
"Your care for need of life could mark you as a Lightsider, maybe even a follower of that pitiful Mike Halcyon." Xhedias smirked while stating.
"Wh-!? How could yo-? I would never!"
Manji stood behind Kat and put his hand on her shoulder, whispering into her ear. "Now isn't the time. We will show him, the arrogance of the Sith, and the cocky ways of that young one." Kat nodded as she sprinted to go find remaining tracks of the shadow.
"You make more enemies than freinds, Zabrak." The Archpriest mused.
"I didn't come here to make freinds and play with dolls. I came to find this place, take it over and gain a little credits in the mean time."
Manji scowled at the Warrior as he rudely walked away from him, showing the disrespect, arrogance, confidence and power within his stride.
Staring coldly at the Zabrak as he strode away, Manji felt his hand twitch slightly as he restrained the urge to grab Xhedias' head and crush it against the wall for failing to show him the proper respect. Only one thought beat in his head:
'Sooner or later I'll have to deal with him... arrogant son of a rancor.'
Slowly Manji managed to recover his composure and sneered, moving into the darkness after Kat.
Moving down the winding corridor the group followed the faint footprints in the snow beneath their feet, guided by their senses and the strange light glinting from the glowing crystals along the corridor. Suddenly, ahead of them, they heard a voice.
"Guys, I've found something!"
Looking up, Kat ran her fingers across a smooth stone door that stretched up into the darkness. Moving towards her Manji looked up at the door and chuckled darkly.
"Looks like we've found it. Step back."
As the Knight moved aside, Manji moved in front of the door and stared up at the stone. Then he glanced down, shaking his head with a grin.
In a flurry of movement the Archpriest pulled his lightsabre off his belt and ignited the weapon, spinning it around his body before he thrust the blade into the stone, sparks hissing up from the door. Slowly, Manji dragged the silver blade up through the stone then pulled it across, carving out a doorway from the thick stone.
Sliding the blade out of, Manji glanced at the rough doorway he had created, then reached out and poked it. Slowly the slab toppled to the ground with a loud, echoing 'boom'. Moving through the hole, Manji glanced around and nodded in approval.
Fingering the remainder of the doorway, she grinned. "This was an effective door you made, Manji, but I don't think we needed it. Once again, it wasn't locked." Kat fingered the slight indent that worked as a handle, and the rest of the door shifted, until it hit the large piece on the floor.
Kat stepped aside as the rest of the group crowded in, trying to peer around Manji to see what the opening had revealed. Her eyes were still examining the hall, wondering where the 'shadow' went, since she didn't hear the door open before them. Although it was possible that she just missed the sound in the commotion, somehow she didn't think so.
And if that person knew they were coming this way, why didn't they head into the door? Was there a trap?
As soon as she thought it, Kat's eyes drifted to the door way. A wire was strung to the top of the door, but she couldn't see where it went as they didn't open the door. Manji started to step into the doorway, with the eager followers behind him.
As Kat shouted "Wait!" Lech reached and grabbed Manji's shoulder, stopping him abruptly. The Archpriest stopped, glowering at them. Looking at her comrade, she nodded.
"Go ahead, Lech. It looks like you noticed it as well."
As Lech pointed out the problem, Macron began examining what might be connected to that wire. Although it may or may not be a trap, they had better be certain before they got caught in it.
“Crude,” Lech said to himself as he examined the thin wire.
Macron’s eyes hovered inches away from the wire almost as if he were taunting the wire to carry out its duty. “I can’t see the source of the wire from our position,” Macron said as he pointed out the wire’s ends receding off into the darkness.
“Well, it looks as though our pet’s master may be hidden within this room,” Xizor noted.
“Or he may want us to think that,” Manji retorted.
“Perhaps you are right. We should split up. I want one group to survey the eastern section of this main entry hall,” his hand casually motioned to his left as he described his strategy to the group, “and another group to survey the western section. I will remain here to make sure our little friend does not double-back on us.”
Everyone nodded simultaneously while pairing up with the people they least trusted. No one wanted to leave their counterpart out of their sight for fear of being double-crossed by them.
Lech, Xhedias, and Raidoner ventured east. Manji, Macron, and Kat traveled west. Xizor stood alone in the darkness of the main hall. He leaned up against the wall hoping to reach a comfortable position. He closed his eyes and began to meditate.
Moving down the hall and turning around the corner of the stone corridor. Out of sight from the Epis and other search party, the Zabrak chimed in.
"So what is it that we are looking for?"
"Something that will help us figure out who is here." Raidoner said through the comlink in his helmet.
"What exactly would that be?"
"We'll know when we find it." Lech also said quietly, half hoping the Commander wouldn't hear.
"That's some reassurance." Xhedias said sarcastically.
Their boots clicking on the stone floor, they quickly came up to a wooden door, just slightly taller than them. Raidoner outstretched his hand and grabbed at the door handle. Twisting it, it stopped suddenly.
"Wonderful, its locked." Xhedias said.
Simotaneously the two Sith Warriors drew their lightsabers ignited them with a snap-hiss and plunged them into the lock of the door, melting it twice as fast. Lech kicked the door open, to find a deep, dark, dank room smelling of sulfur.
"I've got a bad feeling about this." Lech said unreassured of the two Warriors.
Raistlin leaned back in the pilot’s chair onboard the “Enforcer”, letting himself go over the readouts. On nobody’s authority but his own, Raist had followed the small group of Ragnosians to Loki, staying undetected via the state-of-the-art cloaking device onboard. While the resistance was expected to be minimal, a Plan B was never frowned upon, and the fact that everyone seemed so cautious about venturing back into Hammer territory put Raist on edge.
The Jedi had managed to get through undetected, but merely ten minutes after they landed, part of the flotilla for the Aggressor Taskforce hyperjumped into the system, using it to renavigate themselves and jump elsewhere. Indeed, Raist had been shocked that the Imperial listening posts didn’t pick them up and notify Intelligence immediately.
‘Perhaps the Hammer is in a worse state then she lets on….’ Raist thought. Though still technically considered loyal to the Hammer, one of only a handful still to bear that distinction, Raist showed little love for Astatine, the newly appointed Fleet Commander, and kept himself aloof from it. When not on Meyu or in Lyarna on Hunter business, or in Carrida, Raist tried to stay far away from all Hammer territories, and the even stricter-then-usual regime made the organization even less homely.
“Soon the Hammer will fall, and we’ll be there to pick up the pieces.” He grinned maliciously, allowing his mind to wander before a silence startled him.
He had been monitoring the comm. frequency the group had been on and it suddenly fell silent. Realizing trouble might have befallen them he attempted to raise them.
“Raist to Away team…. Come in…” He said through the comm…. but got only static as a reply. He hesitated, floating in orbit above the frozen planet. If he left, the Ragnosians had no life line, however, he needed to still complete surveillance on the rest of the Hammer territories, as his work in the former system of Phare was nearly finished.
Raist hit the holonet trasciever, and sent a message to the Spear, on a coded frequency.
“Manji, this is Raist, I will be in the neighboring systems on a personal assignment. If there is trouble on Loki please contact me, Raist out.”
He pushed the button to send the message and hit the throttle, sailing out toward his HS route.
Macron returned from a long walk in the darkness. He had slipped off to find a particular crystal he had sensed earlier with his equipment. Now he had it, and his latest device was complete.
Manji and Kat were just wondering where the hell he had been, as Macron approached.
Macron smiled, and held up a newly constructed lightsaber hilt.
He had been working on it for months, and had just now found the right focusing lens crystal in the rock wall. He thumbed the switch, and a red Sith blade lit from it with a snap and evil hiss.
"Check this out!" Macron chuckled. "Sorry I was away. I had to do it. It was time, and my master commanded me."
The Knight looked around, and noticed the wire again as the light from the blade dimly lit the wall.
"Hmm. This wire ends here at this junction, and goes into the wall. I sense a hidden door... Kat? Master? What do you think?"
Grinning, Kat felt along the wall. "As usual, Macron, you are probably right." Running her hands across the rough surface, she checked for a crack or some indiciation that there was an opening. Although she searched, she wasn't finding anything.
Manji shook his head and grinned. Unhooking his lightsaber from his belt, he gestured to the two.
"Move aside, Kat."
Just as she was about to move, her hands caught something. "Just a second."
Macron reached in over her shoulders and felt in the same area on the wall.
"Yeah, there's definately something here." As the words escaped, the section of wall started to shift. Quickly backing away, all sets of eyes cautiously peered into the waiting darkness on the other side of the wall. The utter stillness was eerie, after the grumbling of the moving door finally disappated.
"Lucy, I'm home." Grinning, Manji entered the dim lit room. Macron and Kat quickly followed.
In the other corridor, a play for control of the team was underway. Raidoner and Xhedias had their lightsabers out, and the locked wooden door waited. Lech shook his head, a worried expression crossing his face.
Raidoner and Xhedias glared at each other for awhile, waiting for one to make a wrong move or to back down. But neither wanted to. Lech's gaze moved from the door to the pair.
Footsteps approached from around the corner.
The crimson sabers glowed on the faces of the three standing in front of the door. Each of them heard muffled steps get louder and louder. Taking their attention off the door for a moment, the stances of the Warriors shifted towards the corridor they just came down. Lech readied his double bladed pike in an arc meant to intimidate his fellow companions. The Sith found no intimidation in it though, he almost wanted to laugh, but scowl at the same time.
Around the corner came a set of black, flowing robes trimmed in white and purple. The light of the sabers gleamed off the scales on the reptiles head. He bared his teeth at the sight of Xhedias but quickly closed his mouth as he saw Lech.
“Lets go my Apprentice. I believe we have found something, and you also Sith.” He said in a hissing but powerful voice. It was the Epis Xizor. Xhedias snarled as he extinguished his saber, as did Raidoner. “Hurry or we will miss everything.”
The Warriors broke into a run behind the two Krath along the hallway. An echoing of foot falls could be heard from the walls. The chests of the four companions heaved up and down to get oxygen into their bodies faster as they pushed their bodies to go as fast as they could possibly move. Rounding a corner, then another they saw the other three down the hall. Desperately trying to make it in time before they found something without them.
Glancing up slowly, Manji shook his head slowly as the Sith pounded down the hallway, faces contorted with the unfamiliar effort of thinking. A short laugh emerged from the Archpriest's lips before he turned back to the darkness and looked around for some kind of light.
A glint of metal caught his eye- a primitive torch in a metal holder, attached to the wall. Lifting his sabre, Manji lit the torch then moved along the wall, lighting more and more to provide a good light. He ignored the gasps of wonder from his companions until he had lit every torch and moved back to his previous position- then he turned and stared at the sight before them.
They stood in a towering hall, created from some kind of black stone that curved around in a circular pattern. But that was not what had drawn gasps from the Dark Jedi. In the centre of the hall, spiralling upwards to the high ceiling, a jagged sliver of crystalline ice stood as the foundation of the Cathedral, radiating an inner violet light that seemed to magnify as Manji strode forward and stared up at it.
Two sets of steps curved round to form a platform just underneath the base of the ice crystal, elevated above the floor of the hall. Leaping up onto the platform Manji leant forward and stared at the symbol carved into the base of the crystal, obscured by ice dust from years of abandonment. Then the Archpriest turned and called out to the group, trying to conceal his excitement.
"Hey, somebody get up here and tell me what this symbol is!"
((Next event- I want you to create a graphic for me depicting the symbol on the ice crystal. Use your imagination, make it look like whatever you think the old House Marka Ragnos would have as their logo, then send it to me. You have until the 21st of June, then the run-on will restart. Until then, please do not post.))
Instantly Konar leaped onto the platform and moved forwards, hands brushing away the remaining ice crystals. Peering carefully at the symbol, Konar began to speak slowly.
"Right. I'll explain it to you. The basic letter is an R, for Ragnos. One spoke of the R curves off and becomes an arrow which points up and to the right - to the future. This symbolises the ever increasing might of the house. On the slope of the R is the snake- note that it is on top of the R, symbolising not only that anybody that tries to best the house will be destroyed, but that the house knows no fear, and is fuelled on pure anger- making it strong and mighty. Inside the R gap is a depiction of a cluster of three crystals- the crystal of Adega, the crystal of Ilum and most importantly in the middle the crystal of Marka Ragnos himself. His very essence lives on in this crystal and it is perhaps the most sacred and prized posession of the house, hence why it is guarded by all of that around it and is the most concealed and protected item. What looks like a sun, carried on the back of the R, is the ancient depiction of Ragnos's powers- he who, through use of the Force as the Dark lord of the Sith had powers enough to elevate the sun- the very bringer of life. The divider between the sun and the R shows the deviation from the norm that all Dark Jedi take- they have power to destroy, they can offput the life brought about by the sun in masses. Finally, below the R and perhaps of least consequence shows the dark lord of the Sith's dominance over the stars- they hold up and support his throne- the divider between the R and the stars- the universe supports him. Of course these days we know it was not the universe that supported him, but rather the ancient civilisations of the time - but try explaning that to the ancient civilisations of the time, especially those here, who only knew the universe to be their civilisations and their god to be the Dark Lord of the Sith. They were generally ignorant when it came to the rest of the universe... and who could blame them? They lacked the technology."
Manji's mouth hung open as he stared at the Knight.
"Wow... Konar, that was the longest time I've ever heard you speak for without mentioning beer or Twi'lek strippers."
Quiet chuckles came from the group around, broken suddenly by a shout from the other side of the hall.
Looking up swiftly, the Dark Jedi saw a strangely dressed figure raising a finger to point accusingly at them. Clad in pale blue robes with the hood pulled back, the figure had long, frost-rimed hair that stretched down to it's shoulders and a cold, cruel expression. Moving forwards, Manji spread his arms slowly.
"Intruders? I am the Quaestor of Marka Ragnos, come to reclaim this Cathedral-"
Before he could finish a commotion filled the room as a crowd of similarly-clad figures poured into the grand hall, carrying shards of crystal fashioned into daggers and staves as weaponry. Sighing, Manji rolled his eyes and let his hand stray to the hilt of his lightsabre.
"Looks like we'll have to fight our way out yet again..."
"A fight. And they have crystals..." Everyone knew what that meant. The Alchemist was a freak for minerals of any sort. Just like a crack fiend, except for crystals.
Macron salivated as he ignited his red blade. He intended to increase his collection of crystals. Of course, the frostlings would have to die first. Too bad for them.
As the melee began, Macron, Kat and Xhedias began to work as a team. They were all friends, and knew each other's styles well. Kat lured each victim in with a taunt, while Macron and Xhedias finished them off. Flankers also died under Kat's sizzling blade as she cleared the edges.
This was an unusual scene- a Krath and Two Sith fighting together. And fighting well, as was soon evidenced by the pile of severed flesh that began to lay about them.
Manji and Lech had their own problems. Their initial opponent was a Force wielder, and had some considerable power. Could this be a hold out from the old days? Only time and the battle would tell the sordid tale.
With her grin spreading a little further every time another corpse collapsed to the floor, Kat continued to dance among the dying, working in harmony with Xhedias and Macron. The crimson streaking the pale blue tatters... the sounds of steel connecting with flesh... the scent of blood clinging to the air... all made the warriors battle harder for their lives.
Manji and Lech were engaged in their own battle, but with the fray, Kat couldn't see what was happening. The sounds of combat roared throughout the hall, and the crystal seemed to pulse with an eerie glow in the center of it all. Konar, in the middle of the room, quickly joined the chaos, and his face was lost to Kat in the sea of confusion.
A quick dart by one of the opponents startled Kat, and she tripped backwards. The flashing crystal threatened devestatingly close to her. While the sword blocked the first attack, she was quickly losing ground. Xhedias, noticing the stumble quickly darted in, to step between her and the fighter.
The reprieve allowed her time to quickly regain her footing. Kat immediately rejoined the fight, taking over her position. The team covered each other - when one would fall, the other would watch over them. They prevented any serious injuries... and the battle raged on.
The battle progressed, but it seemed that their opponents seemed to return, over and over again, never letting up in the onslaught. They were outnumbed, easily, but their spirit was strong, and the will to live even stronger.
Xhedias watched the force sensitives crowd through the door, sometimes five or six at a time. His red blade held high, he waited for Kat to bring in a few more of the cultists into the cross fray. It was ingenious really, though the Warrior did have a habit of getting rough instead of just getting the job done.
What sense does it make? I'm going to die anyway, I might as well have fun.
The Warrior threw a wild punch that connected with the back of head, innocently pushing the cultist into Macron's blade. A quarter of the cultist's head was cut off leaving a pretty neat looking scene. Bodies began to pile up in the area between the two Sith while Kat ran around the room like a chicken with her head cut off.
Xhedias couldn't find Manji, it was quite interesting seeing as he was the one that said HE was taking over the Cathedral.
I know what he is doing...hiding until the battle is over, if we lose, he escapes undetected. But if we win...he takes the riches...THAT BASTARD....he acts like such a krath sometimes...
Swinging the red saber at anything that came within its path, the Forkall shouted something obscene at the cultists as he crushed the face of another fallen warrior with his boot. Xhedias leveled his blaster and shot another one in the head, causing brain and bone fragments to cover the walls. Noticing that the energy cell on it wore out, he tossed it aside carelessly. The artery in the neck of the Sith was standing out now, the anger increasingly taking over.
As his lightsabre slid out of one cultist's stomach, hissing steam rising into the air from the wound, Manji span the weapon round and stabbed it neatly backwards into another cultist's forehead. His gaze swept across the room to see the Dark Jedi handling themselves well- then his eyes connected with those of the Zabrak, who seemed furious. With a patronising grin, Manji bowed slightly to the Warrior before reaching down to his belt.
His other hand on the hilt of his katana Manji lunged forward and threw himself into a spinning whirl of death, blades flashing as he hacked, gouged, tore his way through the crowd of cultists. As the bodies fell, some spurting crimson blood and some simply sliced into pieces, the leader of the cultists was revealed, stumbling slowly backwards.
As Manji stood and moved towards him, the cultist snarled and pushed his hands towards the Archpriest, aiming a telekinetic blow at Manji's head. Swiftly the Archpriest jumped aside and darted forwards again, katana slashing towards the cultists stomach. However, before the blade hit the cultist reached down and grabbed it, halting the deadly attack.
Manji's eyebrows rose in surprise before he yanked the katana back and twisted it round, sheathing the blade slowly. The lightsabre was deactivated and tucked away, leaving Manji unarmed. Going into a crouch, he raised his fists and chuckled quietly at the leader of the cultists.
"Let's settle this without weapons, shall we?"
As he finished speaking the cultist lashed out with another telekinetic strike that slammed into the ice by Manji's foot. Looking down, the Archpriest shook his head slowly.
"Or not, as the case may be..."
Around them the battle raged, but a wide ring of space was created around the two warriors- giving them room to duel.
Konar whirled his Sith Warblade around his body as if he was performing some kind of ritual. He was fast and strong and barely even relied upon his skills to knock off his victims - who so pathetically just came in his range and copped what was coming to them.
He called out for a second as he continued to spin the blade around his body - knocking off more and more individuals in the process.
The reply came promptly though its clarity was poor amidst the groans of countless victims falling prey to the ever so talented saber style of the Krath knight.
"My lucky beanie's missing. You wouldn't have seen it around by chance, would you?"
"Xhed said he saw something a fair way back... looked like a pile of fabric from a distance... had a kind of capital K on the front"
Konar's blade cut through one last ice dagger before the Sith knight froze still on the spot - his face turning surprisingly pale as his eyes widened and pupils dilated. A hand flew through the air, and within no time the dark jedi was knocked out cold.
Xhedias quickly finished off yet another cultist before glancing at the unconscious knight and shaking his head.
Macron shouted "Konar's down! Cover me guys!" as he moved toward the prone Konar. There was no way in Hades he would let a Sapphire team member down, and Konar needed help.
The Sith Commander let out a ferocious roar, illustrating the duality of his persona. He was quiet and calculating most of the time, but when the pudu hit the fan he was a monster. Macron triggered a switch on his armor, and the flood of strength he felt from the Sith chemicals was a maddening rush of truth.
All he could do was scream inarticulate bestial cries as he ran toward his comrade, Xhedias and Kat following. They had never seen Macron like this, and it was a little scary to see how their friend connected with the Dark Side in this way. And refreshing, in an odd way.
The alchemist severed one frostling's arm as he grabbed it with his free hand, and began to use it like a gruesome club, laying about him with both arm and crimson saber. One frostling had his head cracked by his friend's flailing appendage, as another recieved a saber blade through his kidneys. Syrupy congealing blood sprayed across the walls in an insane work of homicidal art.
The team worked together like a piece of fine and deadly machinery. The flashing blue and red blades smote the bodies of their foes, who seemed now to be decreasing in number.
As he finally made it to Konar, he gasped "Get up. I have your hat... and a beer." He hoped that roused the Flight Leader.
Kat and Xhedias nodded, noticing the hat not only had a "K" but also 2 round black ears resembling a mouse.
Xhedias shook his head in disbelief, something so pointless caused Konar to get knocked out. He quickly turned his back to the group and stabbed his saber through the head of a cultist, then kicking him in the midsection to get him off his blade. Looking on, the bloodshed continued still unable to find Manji in the crowd of fighters. Xhedias went on fighting, hoping to find the leader so he can crush him like the bug he is.
Macron was still holding Konar up, Xhedias risked a look back to see how he was doing. The Sith had Konar's head tilted back and pouring some kind of blue liquid down his throat. The Warrior would have known it was alcohol, but it wasn't clearly by the look on Konar's face. His face contourted into a sour disgusting look, turning back around he kicked a cultist in the midsection that was foolishly lying on the ground.
Xhedias looked around for his comrades and just realized something that the others hadn't caught on to.
"Where is Phantom and Raidoner?"
The blank faces of his comrades suggested that they didn't know either, for now. Xhedias want back on to kicking and punching, sabering cultists and pushing his way through the pack. He was determined to find that leader and he knew there was a leader, he could feel the power resinating from him. It became a maddened drive, almost like an addiction, where someone HAS to have something. This addiction was for the Warrior to have the leaders blood on his hands. The room was getting packed, Xhedias could swing his saber and strike down three or four opponents at one time. Catching a glimpse of of the leader the Sith began to get tunnel vision and charged on, hoping to reclaim the Cathedral for himself, instead of that krath of a Dark Sider Manji.
Kat took back her flask from Macron, now empty of the blue liquid. Konar's face was still puckered, but he was standing of his own violition. Using her saber, she fended off anything that made it past Xhedias, which wasn't much.
Konar's beanie back in place, they were ready to battle again. Xhedias in the lead, Macron and Kat on the wings, and Konar following, grinning with his "K" back in place... and the ears, of course.
With the singled minded Sith Xhedias in the lead, they ended up approaching the rest of their team. The missing Raidoner, Phantom, and Xizor had to be forgotten for the moment. Hopefully they would show up shortly.
Kat's hands twitched above her whip - she really wanted to play a bit with this enemies - but, the necessity of the blade kept her focused. She would get to play later... hopefully not too much later.
The team was clearing through these people a little too easily. Something was bound to change...
Leaping forwards, Manji thrust a fist at the leading cultist's jaw. Swiftly the cultist jumped aside, pushing the blow away and throwing his own blow with the Force into Manji's stomach. Doubling over, the Archpriest snarled and ignored the pain then tightened his grip on the cultist's arm and turned, hurling him away.
Smashing down onto the ice, the cultist coughed painfully then began to push himself up and turn- only for Manji's boot to slam into his stomach. As the cultist slid across the ice, Manji moved after him- only to stop as the cultists back hit a solid object. Standing over the fallen leader was the Zabrak, sabre ignited.
Looking up at Manji, the Warrior sneered coldly then raised his sabre and thrust it down, into the cultists body. An agonised scream rose into the air followed by a hiss of searing flesh before the Zabrak withdrew his sabre from the corpse and stepped towards the Archpriest.
"'Without weapons'? Pathetic. Only a fool tries to fight on the opponent's terms."
Moving forwards, an unpleasant smile on his face, Manji confronted the Zabrak. Despite the stature of the Warrior, the Archpriest was still taller, but leaner. Staring down at Xhedias, the scars on his face adding to the anger twisting in his eyes, Manji spoke quietly.
"I've had enough of your insubordination, Zabrak. From now on you do what I say, when I say. Got it?"
Spitting contemptuously to one side, Xhedias squared up to the Archpriest and sneered.
"I don't take orders from you, Krathling."
In a flash Manji brought his fist up, anger infusing his arm with the power of the Dark Side as he smashed it into the Zabrak's stomach. As Xhedias doubled over, coughing in pain, Manji stared down at him.
"Once this mission is over, I will kill you."
Bringing his hand up, still filled with the power of the Force, Manji backhanded the Zabrak viciously across the face, throwing him to the ground. Then the Archpriest turned and moved away, the rest of the group still staring at Xhedias as the Zabrak began to push himself up, a smear of blood trickling from his mouth. Heading towards the entrance from which so many cultists had appeared moments previously, Manji stood in the doorway and gazed down the corridor.
"Looks like this leads to the ritual chamber. Unless I've missed my guess that's where we'll find the power behind all this."
Macron shrugged and took his hand off his saber hilt as he walked toward the door with the group. Strife between the members was nothing new, they were Dark Jedi after all.
Xhedias had a bit of a reputation as a hot head, which was fine with Macron. It was just his way. Besides, fighting Manji was a bad idea, as he knew from personal experience.
The door slid open at Manji's touch, revealing a dark passage that gaped at them all like a hungry mouth. The faint sound of chanting could be heard from within.
One of the nearby cultists was still alive, and groaned. Macron had an idea, and bent down to speak to the woman. He whispered something in her ear, and she spat at him.
With another shrug, he drew a nasty looking syringe from his pack.
"Well, you could do this this the easy way, but no. You have to be a bad ass. You will tell us what we what is down there when this Sith poison hits your system. Oh yes," he chuckled.
Macron squirted the juice into her neck, and she screamed in agony. The sweat dripped down her face as all her nerves seemed to be on fire with the Dark Side. Several moans later, she began babbling like a drunken monkey lizard.
"Chamber... aaagh... Great Crystal... Ambush.. the pain!"
" I knew it," Kat said as they all nodded in agreement.
"As far as I'm concerned, I am doing what you tell me. I'm sick of hiding in your shadow while you point and tell me to kill. I have a bit more intelligence than you give me credit for, fool."
Xhedias looked away and spat on one of the corpses, an insult meant for Manji. Looking back back into the eyes of the Quaestor without flinching. The fists clenched on the Krath once again as he rolled his own knuckles. Xhedias stood there waiting expecantly to get struck, but it never came. The fire in the Zabrak eased as Kat began to speak up, drawing Manji's attention.
"She knows something useful...goood..."
Konar stuck his finger in his ear while the look of excitement drained from his face from Manji and Xhedias' "who's [Deleted] is bigger" match. Macron was sickly giggling over his new "patient" as Kat observed his work. Manji also seemed interested, Xhedias turned his back on the group and extened one fist into the the stone wall with the crunching noise of his knuckles.
"That's brilliant Xhed." Kat said with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
"It's better than being sent to the Justicar for killing a superior."
Macron giggled a little bit more, rubbing his hands toghether he stated in a maniacal voice. "Lets go find us a crystal..."
Whilst he heard Macron’s words as clear as daylight, Konar was upset. He wanted to see some brother blood spilled, as the useless massacring of pathetically weak cultists was not exactly a spectacle. Furthermore, he even pondered over sticking a fist into one of them as the fight progressed. No one would know, and what would either of them care when they’re engaged in a mortal conflict?
Xhed’s fist looked a complete mess, but he duly declined any offer of medical treatment from Macron as the group set down the half lit - half-dull corridor. The warrior wanted to show his scares. He needed that large mark. - If not to fulfil the purpose of looking tough, to remind him that he had a fight to attend to after this process of base retrieval was finalised.
Konar walked ridiculously close to Kat. It was as if the whip was a beacon and it was summoning him to it.
“You stood on my foot!”
“I’m sorry, it’s just…”
“Look. Can we talk about it later?”
The Sith knight couldn’t help but wonder what made her so snappish at that instant, but he tended to forget that other people did feel the pain when trodden on, or at least hated the inconvenience of being nearly tripped by clumsiness which could be simply avoided with a little bit of care. Either way she seemed to get over it fairly quickly and returned to her happy and seductive self within no time.
Macron smiled caringly at his new patient, and then a look of hatred came over his painted face. "It appears the patient... has complications," he hissed as his armored boot came down hard and crushed her neck with a furious stomp.
The writhing gurgling corpse was left behind on the floor as he caught up with the gang. Macron was pleased, as his first ever dose of Sith poison had worked fairly well. It was a tad too strong, though. He would have to be more careful with his lab work next time.
As he drifted along in the back of the party, he stopped for a second. One of the glyphs on the wall was familiar to him. It represented a Battle Hydra, and the glyph of creation was right next to it. And these weren't old inscriptions, they were fresh as evidenced by their lighter tone.
"Urm, guys. Check this out. They may have been using that crystal to make Battle Hydras. That is bad, as Hydras are way tougher than idiot cultists. No wonder they left the door open. They probably sent their scrubs out to piss us off and draw us in. "
The group circled up, and planned an attack strategy.
Kat reviewed the glyph carefully, as Manji and Xhedias began a new arguement about tactics. Konar was drinking again and admiring his beanine, and Macron was examining the crystal. They were distracting themselves until the other two decided to move. Lech sat in the middle of the floor waiting.
"I will take the lead, and then..."
"No, you will not."
"But it only makes since, as I am..."
The arguing continued, and the volume gradually increased. After listening to them bicker for a few minutes, Kat sighed and stepped in the middle. Though not a very smart move when tempers were rising, she couldn't take another second of it.
Dropping her voice to an ominous growl, her icy gaze took in both Manji and Xhedias. "If you two don't stop it, I will get my whip out and use it on both of you." Though the rest of the team couldn't understand the words, they could easily tell the meaning.
After a suprised moment, Manji and Xhedias just chuckled at the Knight. The confusion that clouded her face had the two laughing even more.
Kat realized the ease that their mind had traveled to a different realm, and she shook her head with a grin.
"Now that you two have that out of your system, shall we make real plans now?"
Kat put a couple of ideas on the table, and Macron added a few more. Within minutes, they had a plan that all could agree on. Especially if there were indeed Battle Hydras involved.
Xhedias scratched his chin for a second, pondering about the battle hydras. He recalled about a tome he found in the Shadow Academy doing some research about some of the Sith Lords. Only in one out of the serveral tomes he found said something about battle hydras.
"Battle Hydras....weren't they created by a certain Sith Lord? I read it somewhere but I can't think of his name."
Macron jumped up quickly. "You're right! So maybe he was in league with Ragnos at some point."
Rolling his knuckles a bit more, they began to pop back into place causing the pain to slowly dull away. Wiping his face on his robe sleeve, removing some of the blood splatter he walked over to Manji again.
"What we should do, is form a circle with all the lightsaber wielders on the outside, and let Lech attack anything that gets inside. That will give us a deadly perimeter able to cut anything up. What do you think?"
Manji looked away from the Zabrak and scratched his head, thinking about the plan.
Lech smiled to himself enjoying the idea. "Maybe you will accidentally be pushed into the circle and I will be "unfortunatly" be forced to attack and kill you."
"Listen you shape-shifting freak, I'm only trying to help you! You are the weakest one of us all and you could use a little workout," answered Xhedias
"So you think," Lech replied as he got into a defensive stance while his hand motioned for Xhedias to come to him.
"Quit it!" Kat said as her frustration with the two began to show on her face. "I like the idea Xhedias, but I think we could alternate people on the inside of the circle to battle the Hydras.
"Sounds like a plan to me," replied Manji.
Groaning, the Sith caught everyone's attention with a cough.
"Come on guys. Let's get real. The hydras fly, for frell's sake. Maybe spit poison too, depending on the maker. If it is who I think it was, this could be bad. Only one Sith was known to have engineered them originally- and that, my friends was Exar Kun." The name fell like a lead pipe from his lips, bringing a shudder.
"It is possible he visited here, or his spirit communicated with the frostlings before it was slain recently." Macron said.
"Dark Side spirits can travel between places of Dark Power freely, and over long distances with ease. This Cathedral certainly qualifies," he said as he he gestured about.
"And also, a set formation is a bad idea. We have be like water, flow around our enemies and adapt to them. Inside, outside, it doesn't matter. There will be plenty of time to dance with death for all of us. I just hope to come out on top!" Macron smiled.
The chanting had stopped, and a door hissed open down the long corridor. A powerful reptilian stench, along with the smell of acid vapors wafted from it....
Konar immediately glanced up at the direction the stench was coming from, fitting his beanie back over his head as he did this.
"And this is what makes you shudder, commander?", demanded the flight leader with a look of self-pride and overconfidence. He took his last gulp of alcohol before throwing the bottle to the side.
"Come to think of it, I've tried lots of crazy things over the years but I've never tried a hydra sandwich", continued Konar as he whipped out his Warblade and swerved it around his body.
The large reptilian beast was now encroaching on the small group of dark jedi, but despite the fact all the other dark jedi were preparing themselves for this engagement, Konar continued to speak.
"Tell you what commander. My plans for engagement are as thus: That thing's big so we'll need some time to penetrate it. Therefore Kat, Xhed and I will approach it and keep it distracted for a few minutes as you prepare some chemicals to blind the thing and distort its sense of smell so it can't locate us. Once you've blinded it I think you should join us and help in the slaughter fest. Jedi Hunter Lech can stay at the door and keep a look out for any other approaching problems as Manji focuses his force powers on the original beast - making it slower for it to activate its acid glands (if not putting an end to its ability to use them altogether) and thus giving us a chance to cause some real damage"
Xhedias shook his head at the two sith. Closing his fist and cracking his knuckles he looked at all of his other comrades.
"Put your saber in front of the acid, the heat will cause it to evaporate. This is why I had the circle formation, nobody's back was exposed to acid. Do what you feel is right."
The Sith felt slightly more invigorated with power, the seemed to be running through his body. His perception of the force instantly got stronger as he could deeply feel his comrades around him.
"Do...you guys...feel that?"
The group all gave Xhedias some kind of no answer, followed by a "what are you talking about?" question. The Sith shook his head and didn't answer, looking down at his feet he hid his smile from the rest of the group.
Whispering to himself, nobody else heard him, "Elevation..."
"Let's move, I'm sick of bickering about how we are going to fight, we might as well go with a plan as we go.'
The Archpriest pushed through the group into the narrow stone hallway. The dark hall had no light coming from it, except from underneath the wooden doors where a strip come up and shined into the eyes of the warriors. Following the Quaestor in rows of two they stopped at the door wondering how they would get in.
“This is pretty routine, Xhed, get over here.”
The Warrior pushed his way through, elbowing Kat on the way by, which was replied by with a grunt of pain. The Sith was getting used to this tactic, at the end of this trip he could be called the expert in gaining access to any building. Putting his weight onto his back foot he dropped his shoulders and kicked the door, transferring his weight to the kicking foot. Nothing visible could be seen, bringing his foot down he did it again, hearing a cracking noise from the wood around the hinges and handle. Once more, he put his foot into the door, wrecking it completely from its hinges creating a narrow one person entry to the room. A rush of foul smelling stale air hit them in a wave.
“For Christ’s sake Macron, close your legs…” Manji said.
The Dark Siders rubbed or pinched their noses in some fashion to keep the smell out of their nostrils. Xhedias rolled his neck side to side, popping noises made Kat uneasy while Konar was singing “It’s a small world…”. Macron checked the status of his suit, all readers reached normal, Lech looked around at the various stone patterns. Xizor, Raidoner and Phantom stood in the back quietly while Manji drummed his fingers over his katana idly.
“Lets go, I have a feeling that what we are looking for is just beyond this ro-“ Manji was cut off by a nearby rattling noise followed by a sound of dry skin rubbing on stone. Konar and Macron looked at each other then back to Manji, looking for some sort of directions.
Xhedias was the first one to step through the door, just out of lightsaber reach the hydra slithered between his legs and wrapped around one leg. Jerking suddenly caused the Zabrak to loss his footing and fall to his back. The hydra moved across the chest of the Sith and wrapped around his neck, choking the life and breath out of the Zabrak to a deep purple.
Manji jumped through the door and spun his katana around before slashing it downwards torwards Xhedias’ chest, cutting a deep gouge in the hydra. Unwrapping itself from the fallen Dark Sider it slithered away before any of the other companions could get to it, hiding it self behind a series of statues that filled the room. A blood trail of dark red blood could be seen snaking its way through the statues.
Kat knelt next to Xhedias while everyone else looked on at the two. Manji stood with an emotionless face and crossed his arms. Well, it seems that the “Conqueror of Loki” shall be me. The purple started to fade from the Zabrak’s face and white began to restore in his cheeks. One eye lid opened and looked at everyone, coughing he asked curiously. “Was that dramatic enough?” Kat punched him in the stomach and stood up, gliding her thumb over the button of her lightsaber.
Hissing noises came from the group as the light moved to the walls. Sabers were ignited as the pressed on through the statue room, small torches were held on the wall and provided a dim light to see by. At the front of the maze of statues, was a extremely interesting statue. It was a multiple headed snake on a pillar of sorts, coiled up on the base of the pillar and extending its heads outwards. The rest of the statues were normal, men standing tall bearing a weapon of some sort…the cultists…
The injured hydra popped its head around the corner and leaned back, extending the fans on its head. Opening its mouth it ejected a purple venom from its teeth, like the Zabrak had told, the Archpriest extended his saber out making sure none of the hilt was exposed and let the liquid sizzle on the saber. Macron come out from behind his Master and tossed a greenish looking liquid on it, burning holes into the skin of the hydra but not much more. Kat lopped the head off of a statue with her saber, causing it to fall on the tail of the hydra, pinning it to the floor.
“You’re done now beast.” Manji said.
Konar jumped on the tail of the snake, causing one of the heads to turn his way and spit some acid out. Catching the Knight on the shoulder, burning away his robe and leaving a red patch of irritated skin. Yelping in pain, he stomped harder and grinded the heel of his boot into the tail. Raidoner hopped from one of the statues and dived at the hydra, slicing a head off in a fountain of gore. Wiping the T visor off with the glove, Raidoner turned around and dropped into stance. Manji threw his saber in the air and guided it with the force, spinning it around in a blur of white light. The blade came arcing back to its owner, followed by the multiple heads falling off to the floor just under the joint. Nekura straightened up and put his saber back on the belt.
The group walked to the back of the large room, before reaching it they saw the door and thought the end of this journey would be over. None of them knew what was in store, each of them had their quirks, together they worked and eliminated their weaknesses so there was nothing but strength left, brutal strength that would dominate anything.
At that moment, the door swung open. Before the group could move or attack, a strangely dressed figure stepped into the room, hands inside the sleeves of a bulky white robe. Glancing up at them, the figure sneered quietly.
"Hmm. I did not expect you to make it this far... you are resilient."
Moving forwards, Manji stared at the figure.
"Listen, pal, I'm getting tired of this. Who the hell are you, and what are you doing here?"
The figure reached up and pulled back its hood to reveal unkempt silvery hair frozen into a myriad untidy spikes and grey eyes staring out of a pale face. Frost seemed to linger in its breath as it spoke.
"We are the true disciples of Ragnos, boy. We have remained faithful to the Dark Lord for thousands of years, drawing power from the Dark Side energy present within the core of this planet."
Raising his hands, the figure cackled viciously.
"As you are about to die anyway, I may as well inform you of our plan. We have been constructing many beasts of war, like the hydra you just defeated. But for what purpose, you ask...? Simple. To fall upon those who follow Astronicus Sadow, those traitors to the name of Marka Ragnos, and CRUSH THEM!"
Aware of the sudden shock radiating through the group, the old man smirked.
"You know of whom I speak?"
Staring into the old mans eyes, Manji spoke again.
"I am Nekura Manji Keibatsu, Quaestor of Marka Ragnos."
Fury leapt into the figures gaze and he staggered back. Then, to their shock, the old man raised his hands with a screech of rage. They all felt the spark in the Force that meant danger as a telekinetic blow slammed into Manjis shoulder, knocking him back slightly. Shaking his head, the Archpriest growled quietly then darted forwards, bringing his lightsabre up, the silver blade igniting swiftly. Bringing the weapon across, Manji found himself staring into the old mans eyes. Slowly, a few words hissed from between the cultists lips.
Then his body split apart, falling to the ground in two pieces. Breathing out heavily, Manji deactivated the sabre and stepped contemptuously over the cultists body, moving into the room beyond. Suddenly he stopped, staring upwards. Slowly the others filed in behind him, Macron gibbering in barely contained excitement.
Before them, turning slowly upon a high podium, was a huge crystal filled with shining light. Stepping forwards, Macron spoke quietly.
"This must be what's powering the Cathedral, and stopping it from being crushed by the ice..."
Manji grinned widely and turned to face them.
"Well... we've recovered the Cathedral. Xanos should be pleased with this..."