The Seventh Great Jedi War - Incursion
The awards ceremony for the Rites of Supremacy had concluded several hours ago. While most of the Clans elected to stay aboard the ship, those of the Royal Clan had quickly departed for their flagship: the Victory-Class Star Destroyer Excidium. There were several exceptions, but, the majority of the Clan's population was already aboard and preparing to depart for Judecca.
Already those whom claimed the Cocytus System as their home were deep in celebration. Several prominent individuals - Cuchulain and Thran, primarily - were freely encouraging the celebration from a formal party to a brouhaha. The azure orbs of the Corellian Consul fluttered back and forth as he watched with rapt admiration the Clan whom had grown so much, in such a short period of time. When war comes, they will be ready. Braecen spun on heel, deciding he could use the peace and quiet of the bridge for the remainder of the evening.
As the doors to the bridge opened, a tactical officer cried out. "Enemy forces spilling out of hyperspace at oh-two-bravo! Brotherhood vessel Vae Victus ordering us about to support Clan Tarentum!"
The newly minted Pontifex dashed down the platform suspended above his officers, his feet pounding in a crescendo as he slid into the Excidium's command salon. "Get me Thran Occasus and Timbal up here immediately," the Consul barked as he began to review the information pouring through the three-dimensional radars. His eyes flashed to a series of scrolling orders, or messages, from the forward battle groups. Organic ships, gravity wells sucking up lasers... what has our hubris gotten us into, the Krath thought.
"Emperor's Shield destroyed," a tactical officer said, "Negative pod launches, no survivors." The man calmly updated his log.
"Sommetra," Braecen summoned the ship's captain with feigned calm.
The human female turned instantly from the display she'd been studying. Her copper eyes met the Jedi Consul's. "Lord Kunar?"
"Get me off this butcher's block. Now."
The death in his voice was apparent. He was freeing her to do what was necessary to spare the Clan more losses. "Yes, my lord," was all she said, though sure the Jedi could gather her intent easily enough.
"Ion Control!" she barked. "Target! Oh-oh-two-five mark, seven-nine-three-eight. Identify!"
The gunner seated at the Fire Direction Control console swiftly created a firing solution. Sweat rolled down his nose to splatter against the solution screen. Looking up in shock at his gunnery officer, the mate stammered, "Sir, that's Arco—"
The gunnery officer interjected, "Identified: Modified Strike Cruiser Eye of the Abyss. Crippling solution locked in," the officer said, keying controls around his stunned gunner. He knew better than to question the Jedi or his minion. "At your command, captain."
Braecen recalled the Sith Code. Through victory my chains are broken...
Sommetra looked to Braecen a last time. With no objection forthcoming, she nodded to the gunnery officer.
The salvo proved capable, leaving the Eye of the Abyss in Scholae Palatinae's wake as they moved towards the pre-determined exit vector. The Communications Officer called out, "Grand Master ordered us to rendezvous point Gamma, Lord Kunar." A hint of deception belied her tone, leaving the Equite to consider the veracity of her statement.
"How old is that transmission?" Sheepishly, the Communications officer dropped her head, lowering her line of sight. The excitement of actual combat, opposed to simulated, had proved too much for the Junior Officer. "Find me new or-"
A holo-projection of Deputy Grand Master, and Shadow Hand, Muz Keibatsu appeared before the Corellian. The Communications Officer called out from her station, once more. "He is communicating in the clear!" The words confirmed a deep anguish in the gut of the Consul, if the situation was so dire to forgo Brotherhood security... heavily, the Krath sighed as he listened to the words of the Dark Councilor.
"All ships are to execute a jump into the Shroud." The transmission blinked out a moment later.
The Navigation Officer was off his chair, "That is suicide! We cannot go in there, its highly volatile and will eat away our remaining shields."
Braecen growled, "Make it happen, Captain. And once we are away, summon the Clan to the hangar... it is the only place to comfortably gather that many people."
Krath Epis Timbal was starting to relax. There were so many new faces around that he did not know, but then again there was the smattering of old faces that made his heart content. He had been gone far too long, and although Timbal knew that he had to choose his own path away from the Clan for a time, he was glad that the Force had guided him back to his true home.
Here and there he caught glimpses of random people do random things. There was RevengeX, trying to arm-wrestle Cooch, but of course failing miserably. Then there was Phoenix trying to con some random Acolyte out of her robes, which was a pretty typical picture. Master Natth a'Niel was on the other side of the Excidium's cantina, throwing empty shot glasses at whomever got in his view of the side betting that was going on with the Cooch-Rev match. As for himself, Timbal sat in a corner and nursed his Timbal Vodka Special, with a faint smile on his lips. Yes, although there were new faces everywhere, the same spirit of the Clan remained.
Unexpectedly, a triumphant Cooch tossed RevengeX into the air, and it just so happened that he landed right next to Timbal. He cushioned his landing somewhat with the Force, but he made up for it by ordering the loser of the match a fresh drink. Semi-upset at losing the match, he just let it go by shrugging his shoulders and taking the drink offered to him by the droid server.
“So, old haggard one, it’s really good to have you back!” RevengeX told him after gulping down about half of his lum.
“I’m not sure about the haggard part, but yeah, it’s good to be home.” The Epis smiled freely, and waved his glass in a general direction towards Cooch. “You know, you cost me money. I bet on you winning…”
The Quaestor glanced at him with a wicked and rueful smile, “Well, you might get paid back if we pull off the same thing we did off of Nal-Hutta about a year ago…”
Timbal snorted, and a full-grown smile leapt to his face. “You see! That’s what I’m talking about, some ingenuity and panache! I swear that none of these new born cubs-“
He stopped at mid-sentence. On his right, RevengeX also stood stock still, so Timbal knew he felt the same thing. Timbal recovered first. “Get HAD ready, bro.”
The other Epis nodded, “Yep. Now that you’re here, I actually feel better about our chances at whatever happened…” He left the statement hanging, but they both knew why.
Both of them had sensed it. A sheer sense of panic and terror out there amongst the beings of the rest of the Fleet, including the command bridge of the Excidium, was threatening to overwhelm them.
The Quaestor stood up, and started to shout for attention, when the deck officer of the Excidium asked for Timbal's attention.
“Sir, Consul Braecen and Commander Sommetra request your presence immediately on the bridge.”
The Epis nodded somberly, and followed the deck officer out.
“Consul, I’m reporting in as requested.” A split second afterwards, Than Occasus joined him.
Braecen looked about as worried as he had ever seen him. “Good, you’re here. We’ve got a situation. We are currently retreating from the system. We’ve lost the Emperor’s Shield, and some other ships from other Clans have been also lost or seriously damaged. We’ve got about a few more seconds until we get enough clearance from the gravity well to jump out to rendezvous point Gamma.”
Thran and Timbal just glanced at each other, and knew what each was thinking. What the hell…?
Then they jumped out, and with them, the last of CSP’s presence in the immediate area.
Safely in hyperspace, both Commander Sommetra and the Consul breathed a sigh of relief.
“Ok, you two,” the Consul said in a low voice, full of fury. “We’re going to go over the entire fiasco of what just happened, and I want to know exactly what hit us. Then we’re going to figure out whom they were, because I want them flayed alive. We’ve lost a ship to them, and I want their heads on the top of my bridge, and their blood to be boiled in their bodies while they die.”
Timbal’s eyes narrowed, and got to work….
"Come in Excidium...Come in."
"Excidium bridge command. This is Templar Lucien. Open hangar bay 4 and prepare for crash landing."
"Roger Templar. Make your heading 1-oh-niner and reduce to approach speed."
"I don't think you heard me the first time. I don't have all that much control over this thing right now. Set up a net, I'll steer."
Lucien did what he could to set his Interceptor down easy on the deck, but the damage he had taken just trying to get to the Excidium was more than even he knew how to deal with. He was coming in hot and heavy and there was little he could do about it.
As soon as he felt the wings hit the desk, he popped the canopy and leapt out of the cockpit onto the catwalk surrounding the hangar bay. He watched in amazement as the fire crew went to work putting the flames out from his broken craft. He chuckled to himself as he walked out of the hangar into the main concourse.
"Lucien to bridge," he spoke into his comm unit. "Tell the Consul I'm on my way. Tell him that we need to get out of here as soon as possible."
"Received Templar. Consul has been informed and the fleet is retreating into the Shroud. Consul has requested that you proceed to the main hangar bay for debriefing."
"Understood. Proceeding directly."
On board the Excidium most of the Mandalores looked forward to enjoying some R&R after being placed in charged of keeping safe the participating Scholae members during the Right of Supremacy events.
Maximus looked forward to returning to Jedecca where he could catch up with one of his dearest fellow Mandalores, Templar Phantom Mandalore, who had been on emergency leave for a long period of time.
The Sith Warlord wanted nothing more than to get back home and resume his long awaited time off when suddenly distressing news from the bridge was heard on his commlink, "Enemy forces spilling out of hyperspace at oh-two-bravo! Brotherhood vessel Vae Victus ordering us about to support Clan Tarentum!".
Immediately the Sith Warlord ordered all Mandalorian guards to report to the entrance of the Excidium's command salon to await further orders from the Consul.
Maximus ordered them to stand guard as he called in the Excidium's hangar to have all fighter ships prepped and ready for possible combat deployment.
The Sith Warlord patiently waited further orders along side the guards as Battlemaster Thran Occasus and Epis Timbal sprinted towards the command salon, both men despite their hurry both sith and krath nodded at the Sith Warlord as a sign of respect as they passed the Mandalore.
Maximus smiled as he knew that soon he and his fellow Mandalores would be in the heat of battle.
The space battle had taken a toll on the fighter complement of the Clan Scholae Palatinae capital ships and of the other clans. A good two hundred fighters erased from existence, along with their pilots. This new enemy did not seem to use any form of weaponry that he had ever seen, though all of theirs were built for utter destruction. Giant balls of what looked like molten metal flying through space at laser speeds were hard to dodge, let alone weather.
His TIE Defender touched down with feather gentleness, even with the extensive battle damage. One of the wings was barely attached to the frame, and only three of the weapons systems still worked. Inside, it was a mess of wires, smoke, and heat. His heart pounded deep in his chest, as his helmeted head lay back against the headrest. He panted several deep breaths, trying to calm himself down. It had been a very long while since he’d had to fight in space, and the flying simulators could never give you the same feeling of fear and dread.
He undid his helmet, letting it fall away from him, down into his lap. He breathed several more deep pants before looking around at the wreckage of his fighter. ‘Malevolence’ he had called it before taking off in defense of his clan’s fleet. He had been given command of the TIE Defender squadron of the clan, one of its greatest military possessions. This squadron could easily demolish a conventional fleet. But these new living ships were a step up from what he was used to.
A technician came over and patted the front viewport of his fighter, which was now burnt and blacked in most places. He looked down at the tech, and nodded his head to show he was alive. He undid his crash webbing, and retrieved his helmet, climbing slowly and tiredly out of the top hatch of the fighter. He staggered slightly, though being his normal rather arrogant self, put it down to the change of gravity. In truth he had never staggered or felt this weak after exiting a fighter after a battle.
“Are you alright, sir?” the tech asked, placing his hand on the pilot’s shoulder. He was just a human, unable to understand the pressures on the pilot’s mind at the moment. The pilot stood up, and cracked his neck, the fatigue draining away from his muscles.
“I am fine, Technician. Go see if there is anyone else who needs assistance. Thank you” Brent said, dismissing the tech before he collapsed. He searched his inner pockets for his communicator, and opened a channel to his Quaestor, Thran Occassus.
“Master, this is Brent. Just got in. Has the ship entered hyperspace?”
There was a short delay, a possible problem with the vessel’s systems.
“Yes, Victae. Are you injured?”
“No master, just furious.”
“We will hit back at them in time. Return to the House quarters, and clean up. The Clan summit and the Dark Council will decide what we do next.”
Brent lifted his hand to his forehead, his fingers coming away covered with blood. He grinned, not having been injured in battle for far too long. He felt the warm liquid wetting the collar of his flightsuit, as well as several other areas in his body. For some reason, he felt good. A new enemy, a new challenge, exactly what he loved. He gathered himself, and strode off along the corridors, proud of his fresh injuries.
Never a fan of big award ceremonies Templar Jaysun Adumarii instead decided to spend his time catching up on some sleep after the hectic pace of the recent wargames wore his 52 year old body out. Years of training with Alliance spec forces had made Jaysun a lite sleeper so he was instantly awake when the battle alert klaxon's began to wail throughout the ship. He sprang from his bunk and practically leaped for the small chest seated at the foot of his bed. Tearing it open the Obelisk began to pull on the various pieces of battle armor he kept stored there.
He finally managed to pull on his final boot before strapping his needra hide gun belt around his waist and sliding his dual Westar 34's home. Hooking his lightsaber to the belt he snatched up his BlasTech A280 rifle and ran into the corridor. Pulling a small comm unit from a pouch on his belt he punched in the code for the clan's Consul and Jaysun's long time friend and said “Brae it's Jaysun, what's going on?” but he was greeted with only static.
Trying again the Templar was again greeted with static before the voice of some random ship's officer came through the comm's tiny speaker saying “All member's of Clan Scholae Palatinae please report to the main hangar on the double, the Consul will meet you there shortly”. Setting off at a sprint Jaysun made his way to the hangar bay desperate to find out just what the hell was going on.
Back leaning against a stack of crates, Koskian surveyed the hangar bay, drinking in the chaos of what had occurred. He had been in an observation room, watching the six Brotherhood Fleets in one area of space, not firing a shot, just appreciating the view. And then he watched the strange ships come out of hyperspace, and felt the huge void in the Force. The Obelisk had seen much in his time with the Brotherhood, but very few things had ever given him a spark of fear.
He also watched the Excidium's ion cannons play havoc over the Eye of the Abyss, a ship he once commanded while in Arcona. That had actually made him smile a little, understanding his new Consul's tactic quite well.
'Give them something to chew on so we have the time to get out, not bad boss.'
Now in the hangar bay, answering the general quarters call for assembly, he stood alone in a room full of people, none coming near the former Arconan. Most tried to ignore the Primarch's mere presence, some glared, and a few stood together whispering and watching. He was not trusted yet, and he knew that. Closing his eyes, Koskian felt the Krath long before he arrived, and could sense the mix of emotions playing through the man. Paramount of them was a cold anger, one that Koskian was just as well glad to have never dealt with.
The feeling of being watched increased, but this time it brought a smile to the Primarch's tired looking face, as he spotted one of his first Apprentices grinning at him. Maximus was enjoying this it seemed, and that was a welcome familiarity compared to the sudden shift in reality that everyone was dealing with. Koskian's attention was torn away at the sound of an angry sniff, and barely caught sight of his new Quaestor, Thran, before the man had passed him.
'Still angry over the beating in the Feud I suppose...ah well'
A hush fell over the hangar bay as the doors opened, and the Consul came through. Koskian closed his eyes, blocking out the rest of humanoids milling about, and waited for an explanation, or orders.
Makurth was running down the corridors of the Excidium, strapping on armor as he went, occaisonally wiping sleep from his eyes.
The young Mandalorian had been dead asleep when his buzzer went off, jarring him from nightmare laden dreams and into the darkness of his room. The next few minutes had been rushed, half-asleep confusion as he grabbed his gear and rushed out the door, barely dressed and angry to boot.
Makurth had just slid his battered Mandalorian helmet over his head and patched himself into the private helmet-to-helmet comm each of member of the Mandalore family possessed, when he arrived in the almost empty hangar bay.
Raid, what in the name of Palpatine is going on? Makurth spat, strapping his belt and clipping his lightsaber onto its leather holster.
The silence of in the huge room startled him, setting off instincts buried deep in his being, screaming at him that something was terribly wrong. Makurth's dark T-visor surved the room, noting his Patriarch's presence along with a few others he didn't reconize.
Quietly moving to stand beside Maximus, Makurth accidentally bumped shoulder plates with him and winced at the seeming loudness of the sound.
Still using the helmet-to-helmet comm, Makurth added on to his previous statement. "Something really, really, bad has happened, hasn't it?"
The Consul's office on the Excidium was nothing extravagant. In fact, for a Corellian's office it was clean and plain. At least the chair was nice. It was covered in fine Corellian grass snakeskin. Prajna's right hand tingled as it slowly slid up and down the cool surface of the arm of the chair. The Cerean's tall head protruded over the top of the chair. He leaned back with his eyes closed. The lazy rocking of the chair was rhythmic and helped his mind wander around the Victory Star Destroyer through the force. With no small effort, Prajna had learned to keep a link with his old Master through a tendril of the force. The Krath Pontifex and Obelisk Knight could often have entire conversations with each other across whole buildings or cities by simply thinking to each other.
Deep blue eyes flashed open for just a moment as Braecen's moment of surprise sent a shot down Prajna's spine. As his eyes closed again, his dual minds shifted complete focus onto the mighty clan's leader. An image formed and the Cerean was suddenly barreling down the bridge walkway in a speed much faster than he had ever experienced. "Get me Thran Occasus and Timbal up here immediately." Braecen's words came out of Prajna's mouth.
The Knight forcefully lifted himself up out of the command salon. He half walked, half floated toward the viewport. He was looking out at space, but as he was really looking through the force, all Prajna saw was an invisible hand decimate a screen of Imperial fighters and other small craft. Organic ships, gravity wells sucking up lasers... what has our hubris gotten us into... Braecen's thoughts filtered in and Prajna began to imagine what could be out there.
A fleet of mynocks flew through the depths of space and fired acid from their mouths, laying waste to the Brotherhood fleet. Prajna's mouth formed a small smile in the snakeskin chair. What an event that would be if mynocks destroyed the Dark Brotherhood!
The thought projection jumped back into the body of the Corellian male and again Prajna saw what Braecen saw. An image of Sarin issued a fleet wide command. Again Prajna's spine shuddered and goose bumps popped up across his skin. This time it wasn't from a reaction of surprise but of fear. What could be so dreadful that is was less intimidating to blindly jump into the Shroud to escape from?
Zeron was one of the last members whom arrived at the hanger, but he sensed there were still more making their way to the Consul's summons. The Knight Class Envoy shook his head, he had been detained at the forward gunnery emplacements when the incursion had begun. With his own eyes, the Sith had seen how effective the offensive was and how ineffective the Brotherhood had been to the opposing threat. Zeron entered the hangar, his boots pounding on the metal flooring as he searched out for the Pontifex. The Warrior felt, rather than saw, the Pontifex through the Force. Additionally, a myriad of primal emotions flooded through his connection to the Living Force: fear, shock, lust. He made a mental note that some were looking forward to this fight.
As a member of the Clan Summit, Zeron was permitted access to information directly from the bridge; which arrived via a secure, wireless datapad. He grunted as the first casualty list arrived, recognizing some of the names on the list. But a sense of regret was replaced with awe as he noted the Aedile of House Caliburnus on the Missing In Action list. Zeron shook his head, forcing the dark, demoralizing feelings out of his head. New emotions surged within and he forced his anger, this hatred, to concentrate on the conflicts ahead; as he clearly knew there were many forthcoming. Zeron could feel a vibration through the Force, interpreting it as sign that the debriefing would soon begin and place his Clan at the foot of this new path. A single thought passed the Sith's consciousness, This is the darkest moment of Scholae Palatinae history, even if we have yet to realize it.
Back in the war room of the Excidium, a single robed figure was hunched over a number of displays, mumbling and grumbling occasionally while fiddling with the controls of the various devices. Master Natth a'Niel was going over the recordings the destroyed and escaping fighters had still been able to transmit of the short and deadly encounter with the new enemy.
Natth stopped each recording whenever there was a shot fired and impacted a hull, regardless of what side it was on, mentally assessing and calculating the damage each of the weapons should have done, then comparing it with the actual effect on the vessels. The results were disheartening - while the opponents' shots always did at least their full expected damage and sometimes more, the ones fired by the Scholae Palatinae ships had at best a marginal impact. The only two instances where Natth could see any significant damage done was one full broadside blast by the Excidium's starboard turbolasers - this seemed to leave the small craft slowed and barely maneuverable - and one single instance of an opposing ship actually being destroyed thanks to a triple hit from three different sides within a few milliseconds.
He marked the latter result as promising, but could not imagine how the Clan or the Brotherhood would ever be able to gain a three to one advantage over the small and maneuverable enemy craft on any consistent basis.
Moving to a different readout, the Acclivis Draco Aedile and senior strategic planner checked the status of the Excidium. The port hangar was completely eradicated and with it, C flight of Blue Squadron had been taken out without having fired a single shot. Two of the pilots had survived the take-off crash and were being treated. The remainder of the Squadron was now aboard the Valkyrie in various states of damage, but the ships were all still spaceworthy. Yellow squadron had lost two pilots in a short skirmish, but in total, Scholae Palatinae had been lucky in terms of fighter losses. Natth's greater concern was a power fluctuation in the starboard reactor. He had seen this kind of pattern once before and the result of it had been devastating. He picked up a comm link and yelled into it:
"Whoever is sitting in Engineering, get yourself to Delta Niner Five Three starboard and initiate a manual valve shutdown or you will have a major detonation on hand in three minutes!"
Sitting in his Master's meditation chamber, Yzarc Rellik felt the ship shake. The newly promoted Jedi Hunter woke up from his meditation to hear over the comlink, "All Dark Jedi, report to the main hanger." The Obelisk got up and grabbed his outer robes, training lightsaber, katana, and DL-44. He ran out of the meditation room, running towards the main hanger.
He knew he was late, but what he was late for, he didn't know. He couldn't feel what was attacking them. "This could be a problem," he thought to himself.
When he got to the hanger, he looked around. He saw a few of the Clan's Jedi, all of them more powerful than him. He looked at his master, who nodded towards him. Braecen Kaeth Kunar, the Consul of the Clan, and Yzarc’s master came towards Yzarc. Kunar whispered, “You didn’t have to come, you know.” Yzarc shook his head. He wanted to help fight for the Clan
“Has anyone else not been able to feel the enemy,” asked the Jedi Hunter. The assembled people nodded.
"This really could be a problem,” the blue-haired man thought.
Yzarc looked out of a viewport. These ships looked like nothing he had ever seen before. Their weapons fire was far more powerful than that of the Brotherhood’s. The ships seemed almost as if they were living, but that was impossible because someone would have been able to feel the ships through the Force.
Yzarc turned back towards the group and waited for whatever was coming for them.
The awards ceremony had just barely finished and the well deserved celebrations were in full swing when Phantom Mandalore had decided to return to her quarters. Feeling somewhat drained from trying to catch up on her Clans issues and relations, she was looking forward to a night of relaxation when the feelings of all out hell seemed to break loose.
Instinctively, the Templar moved to a chest which held her traditional silver plated Mandalore armor, feeling the senses of pain, anger, and confusion as she equipped her chest piece and bracers. As she reached for her gun belt and saber, the feelings of fear and revenge we beginning to come from her fellow Clansmen. As she headed out the door to the ships corridor, Phantom grabbed her cloak and started to make her way to the hangar where everyone had already started assembling.
Reaching the hangar, Phantom began looking around the room. Spotting a small group of the Mandalore family, the Templar made her way to the group.
“Good to have you back, Phantom,” said Maximus as he noticed the family matriarch heading towards the group.
Others chimed in as Phantom joined the group.
“Thank you,” she replied. “Any news on what just happened?”
“We should be getting that information soon”
Disoriented and dizzied from the recent events, Demious almost didn't hear his Master's request for engineering assistance. Unfortunately, Natth's other apprentice, Jedi Hunter Cornix was nearby. In an attempt to gain favor with his respective master, the Nikto Jedi Hunter grabbed Demious's arm and yanked him to his feet.
"C'mon. Master wants us to help lockdown that reactor," Cornix said plainly, yanking a resistant Demious behind him.
"He didn't say that. He asked for anyone sitting in engineering. We are not in engineering, therefore he did not ask for us," the Protector argued, pulling against Cornix's iron grip. But his words turned the serious Nikto around, and stared Demious straight in the eye.
"So you did hear the orders?" Cornix asked, and Demious suddenly looked sheepish.
"Well....I...maybe...." he answered, trying to avoid Cornix's stare.
"So, what you're saying is, that if you don't come with me, either you were too incompetent to listen to the communications, or you directly violated the chain of command by ignoring your superior?" the Jedi Hunter asked in a threatening voice. Demious shook his head, trying frantically to come up with an excuse to keep himself uninvolved, but none came to him. He gave a quiet, resigned sigh, shook off Cornix's loosening grip, and followed him in a brisk jog to the area Natth a'Niel designated.
Finally, they came up to the last door leading into the starboard reactor area. Cornix entered a key code to enter, and the door slid away to reveal a view no one wanted to see. Before them lay a room in near-ruin. Sparks and flames leapt from random corners, and small jolts of visible electricity could be found jumping from the dozens of valves in the room. The two journeymen stared stupidly at the mess in abject terror and awe. But Demious managed to slowly lift his comm link. Pressing the button with weakened hands, he spoke sheepishly and quietly into it.
"Uh.....whoever's in engineering.....you better hurry up...."
Fionn dan LocutHal
Sat still in his Combat robes, his sword tied to his back, the Jedi Hunter Fionn dan Locut'Hal tried to gather a few moments of peace and quiet, something which he hadn't been able to get at all during the latest Rite of Supremacy. As the state of trance enveloped his conscioous self, he felt had detached from his mortal coil, existing simply in the space around him. The Rollmaster's hut aboard the Excidium illuminated only by the dim light of the blanket of stars cast against the view from his hut.
Suddenly the serene peace of mind was abruptly broken, disrupted by the blaring sounds of Sirens all around him as the ship rocked from side to side in heavy swaying movements, knocking the Combat veteran and impressively sized Jedi Hunter from his bed onto the floor. Though still disorriented from the sudden end of a moment of mental calmth, a familiar and clear voice filled the air with an aura of distress and panic.
"Now hear this! Now hear this! All staff report immediately to Hangar Bay! I repeat, All staff report immediately to Hangar Bay!" the Consul's voice burst through the air, a tone of emergency clear in the communique.
"This has got to be the most lifelike nightmare I've ever had!" The Sith recalled to himself, wondering what in Bane's name had gone off. The thought had yet traversed his mind, or he could feel the light in the room intensify a thousand fold. Turning his gaze over to the viewport, his pupil-less eyes, left bare by his mutations on Korriban ages ago, dared not believe what they saw; A massive fleet attacking ship after ship, several of the Brotherhood transports and flagships burst up into flame after being hit with salvo after salvo from the very much alien appearing ships attacking the convoy. The Transport Emperor's Shield engulfed by flame as it exploded in a massive ball of fire.
"No way! This is not a nightmare! This is real!" the Tenaciously built hunter thought to himself, the whispers of thought running through his mind like a locomotive on dynamite. Wasting no time, the Caliburnus Rollmaster grabbed his additional gear and made through the door, well made.... Let's say the door won't close all that well anymore as the enormous Hunter simply burst through it, not giving the door a moment's chance to open itself at its usual pace.
The hallways glaring a bright red with Sirens and alarms, panic all abound, Fionn tried to get his mind to get a grip on reality, formulate a plan of action for himself and set his priorities. First priority for him would be to get the lower Journeymen and unassigned Journeymen to safety. Racing against the tide of personnel going in the opposite direction of the Hunter, the Sith got to the Journeymen barracks aboard the VSD to find the door barred by a defective switchboard, the control panel to the door looking absolutely demolished.
Quick thinking made him deduce, that as this was a door to a barracks onboard, the door was most likely reinforced, the thoughts only reinforced as he kicked and hit the door with all the Strength in his body, but it didn't give way under the force of impact. Taking out the Large Sith Claymore bound to his back, forged through ancient and secret techniques, predating even the time of Okemi himself, the Blade had an un-natural strong edge, capable of easily cutting through the standard Durasteel alloys most ships were made of. With ease the Neophyte sliced through the door with a couple of hacks and slashes. Putting his full weight on his bulky shoulders, the Envoy burst through the door as it folded open, unable to hold the weight on the compromised integrity of the door.
Immediately through the door, the Enormous figure was immediately hit repeatedly with sharply burning objects, although merely bruising the toughened skin, the impacts send shivers of pain through his central nervous system. Looking up, he could see 3 or 4 vastly frightened Journeymen with their ignited trainingsabers at the ready, holding back only because they had noticed whom they were hitting.
"Master Envoy sir. We're very sorry, we didn't realise it was you, we thought it was one of the enemies!" One of the more senior amongst them spoke out, stowing his trainingsaber.
"Trust me, if it were the enemy, no trainingsaber would have been good enough! All of you know this, you would only have pissed him off even more." the Battle-hardened Tzimisce replied, adding no soothing balm to the open wounds of fear. "Now come, we must get you to safety, grab only your gear, weaponry and valuables, leave the rest behind. Senior ranks in front, lower behind, I'll follow, Go!" the Protector of these younglings shouted out.
"b-But Master Envoy, where are we going?!" A Guardian questioned. only to be cut off mid-sentence by the more senior Companion Class Envoy.
"To the Hangar bay! Now quickly! Go!"
Sword drawn, and with the older Journeymen in front, Fionn swiftly made his way to the lower hangarbay of the VSD, with an already impressive company amassed, the Consul of the clan readying himself for his address with his aides besides him.
"Ahhh Hunter dan Locut'Hal, glad you could join us." Braecen spoke, panic still clear in his voice as he motioned the Journeymen to come closer with their mentor.
After Yeldarb and his companions Led by Jedi Hunter Fionn arrived in the hanger bay, He noticed he was not the only journeyman dazed and confused in this messy ordeal. This was his first taste of true combat. Nothing in his training could have possibly prepared him against this vicious enemy. He never suspected so many Dark Jedi could lose their loves so easily.
Finally Finding a spot somewhere near the back of the crowd, Yeldarb was told to stand by for a moment While Consul Braecan Addressed the Clan. As he waited for the speech to begin he could over hear several Apprentices and Novices conversing together, Afraid for their lives. He stepped in and attempted to calm their nerves Letting them all know that they will be lead by the most capable leaders the Brotherhood has, And that we will win certain victory.
Consul Braecen was just not walking to the head of the crowd to address the Clan. He spoke firmly and confidently “Today is a day that will always be Remembered. We have lost many Fellow brethren to this vial foe that dare to attack us, The Dark Jedi Brotherhood, on our own ground. They do not know what they have just done……”
Somewhere aboard enemy vessel
The NyghtFyre was forced down into the cavernous structure that served as a hangar on board the massive enemy ship. Rasilvenaira gathered herself up, forcing her emotions under control, and then moved toward the exit ramp. The array of weapons concealed within her clothing might not be enough, but the Sith planned on making them work to take her captive, or to kill her, whatever their intent. As the ramp descended, Rasilvenaira caught her first glimpse of the enemy and it sent a shiver down her spine.
Huge, grotesque beings quickly moved to surround her. Leaping from the ship’s ramp as she hit the close and lock control, Rasilvenaira twisted in midair and ignited her saber. The molten silver blade hissed angrily as the Battlemaster sought to kill these creatures. Fear settled like a rock in the pit of her stomach as she realized that her saber was having little effect upon the strange armor the enemy warriors wore.
Hearing the sound of another human in combat, she spun just in time to see others, some she recognized as fellow members of the Brotherhood, also desperately trying to fight their captors. The warriors closed in around her, remarkably agile for their size, and immensely strong, StormRaven tried to slip between them. Suddenly a solid blow from behind forced the Battlemaster to the floor with a groan of pain. She heard words she couldn’t understand, and then felt hands grabbing her arms firmly and jerking her back up to her feet.
A constant tidal wave of agony surged through the Aedile’s battered body and she struggled to hold on to even the slightest conscious thought beyond the excruciating pain. The alien devise that held her, like most of what she saw of the ship, seemed at least partially alive. Rasilvenaira could feel it gnawing away at her mind, as though it sought to destroy her spirit, to break her completely. Anger and hatred stirred within the dark corners of her mind and her soul. While she was no stranger to pain, the agony searing through her nerves now truly threatened to overwhelm her.
“No… damn you all… whatever you are.” Fighting with every bit of strength she had left, the Battlemaster drew upon her emotions, the anger, and the hatred, even her own fear, and channeled it all into one thought. “I… will… not… die… easily.” Rasilvenaira knew she had to somehow break this creature’s hold on her, had to get free, or the thing would succeed in destroying her.
Gradually, she was able to take a deep breath as the pain seemed to lessen just enough to give her a moment’s respite. Opening her eyes, Rasilvenaira looked around, and a slight smile flickered across her features even as the creature holding her renewed its efforts of torture. Her belongings, what weapons they had discovered upon her, including her saber, were stacked on a shelf nearby.
Delving deeper into her reserves of energy and strength, Rasilvenaira redoubled her fight against the living device that held her. If she could just break free of it, there was a chance she could find her way back to her ship and escape. Thoughts of escaping brought another thought to mind, thoughts of the one she loved dearly, Thran.
“I have to get out of here, for him, for the clan, they need me.” The thought ran through her mind repeatedly as Rasilvenaira clenched her jaws against another wave of pain crashing down on her senses. Her struggles intensified, and the Sith drew on everything she could muster, the force seemed dead on this enemy vessel, but she could still faintly feel the force beyond the ship. The tenuous threads of dark energy were just enough to boost her waning natural strength.
Finally StormRaven was rewarded with the snapping of vine like tendrils that had held her prisoner, and the agony slowly faded. Wriggling free of the last of the restraining tendrils, Rasilvenaira dropped to the floor and stifled a groan as her weary body protested the exertion. Quickly moving over to the shelf, she grabbed her weapons and belongings and hurried off in search of her ship.
Led through the ship by the faint but steady homing signal from R5, Rasilvenaira managed to avoid the groups of enemy warriors she spotted. Finally entering the hangar structure, she signaled R5 to unlock and open the entry ramp. As the ramp began descending, Rasilvenaira sprinted for it as fast as she could go.
“R5! Get us out of here, now!” Rasilvenaira locked the ramp and ran for the front of the ship as the droid started the engines up.
R5 beeped and complied, getting the NyghtFyre ready for launch as quickly as possible. The ship had been relatively unbothered, and R5 had been able to repair the damage to the shield generators and that news brought a smile to the Battlemaster’s face.
“Good, I have a feeling we’ll need them, I’m not sure they’re likely to let us go easily after catching us, so hang on for a bumpy ride.” Launching her vessel, Rasilvenaira set the course for the Shroud, the last known location of the Clan’s fleet. Scanning the radar and sensors, the Aedile increased the throttle as they cleared the enemy ship as hostile fighters appeared in pursuit.
“R5, please tell me we can jump to hyperspace soon.”
The little droid whistled and chirped.
“Then do it, jump, now!”
Space, within the Shroud
It was a risky maneuver jumping into the Shroud, but far less dangerous than another fight with the enemy vessels. Rasilvenaira leaned back in her seat, every fiber of her body aching and exhausted. Extreme fatigue and stress from the ordeal now slammed fully into her senses as the NyghtFyre approached the relative safety offered by the Shroud. The Battlemaster had nearly fallen asleep when the shrill beeping from R5 pierced the haze of her thoughts.
“Excellent, when we drop out of hyperspace, send a priority one signal to the Excidium. Tell them we’re coming home.” Her voice almost trembled with relief at having survived the encounter with the enemy.
Aboard the VSD Excidium
“Sir!” the communications officer quickly opened the comlink and spoke anxiously to the Consul.
Braecen had been trying to calm the Quaestor of Caliburnus who paced the hangar deck furiously. Braecen answered the comlink, “Yes?”
“Sir, we’re receiving a priority one transmission from a ship that just dropped out of hyperspace in the Shroud.”
“Put it through.”
“VSD Excidium, this is the NyghtFyre. Damn your hides, I hope you haven’t gotten into too much trouble without me. Get that hangar ready, I’m coming in, and this ship’s taken quite a beating. So have I, but we’ll talk about that when I’m there.”
As the link was closed a cheer spread through the crowd at the sound of the Caliburnus Aedile’s voice. Thran, however, left the area, heading straight for the hangar where her ship would be landing.
After the award ceremony the young knight slowly walk through the tangle of hall ways of the command ship, The Excidium. As Malaki approached his personal quarters, the last light from the deep sectors of space shun over his medal, its glow blinding him, then suddenly there was darkness.
The corridor light’s flickered, there were noises booming around the ship as if it were struck by thunder. It felt as if the ship began to shake violently, the knight tripped off balance crashing head first into the wall. He felt an incredibly pain by his left eye, he stumbled a bit then caught his first site of the Emperor's Shield, it seemed battered to pieces, then suddenly it exploded in to thousands of pieces and killing everyone aboard the ship instantly. In shock and guilt, he thought to himself ……who, what know, how could this happen, this is impossible.
The ship shook again, Malaki stumbled around, hearing a broadcast over the ships communication system, a noticeable voice, Braecen’s. He heard shouts and screams down the corridor.
“ We Under Attack!”
“ What’s going on , What’s happened”
“Just get to the hanger you idiots!”
Malaki had a throbbing head ache, he felt as if he was going to pass out. He walked down the corridor he came from, he slowly regained his balance, and regained a full sight of vision. Outside ships were twisted in point blank range combat, most of them trying to escape. After a while he managed to get back to the hanger, it seemed as if hundred of people were already there, he saw his apprentice Lithas, his friend Cethgus and many other noticeable faces.
He checked his left eye again, feeling a minor scratch to the head, nothing much, only the odd whimper of blood. He looked around noticing everyone was in astonishment, and all were alert ready for a new day, a new challenge .Their frustration quietened down, Braecen was now stood high in front, as if he stood as a hero. The crowd went silent and remorse began to show.
Deep in the bowels of The Excidium, Exodius meditated. After the past war games, the Trandoshan Templar was trying to calm his storm-like rage. He had just recieved his awards and was inducted into the Order of the Dragon as the Fang of Aggression. His eyes snapped open a moment before the announcement came.
"All Members report to the hanger bay."
Exodius grabbed his cloak and lightsaber and left his hideaway to meet up with the other clan members.
The glass chimed against the coloured bottle lightly, sending shivers up and down the spine of the Guardian. The glass held an unnatural looking mixture that strongly smelt of a pure alcoholic concoction, as Xathia lowered both the glass and the bottle unsteadily using the Force. The Omwati wasn’t sure if she would be able to walk in a straight line as her thoughts wandered over to leaving the dormitory aboard the Victory-Class destroyer for the first time during the day. As she downed the glass in one, a comms unit went off violently with the message for every single clan member to make their way immediately down to the Hanger. Though Xathia could pick nothing out of importance from the message, the tone was urgent.
’Well, this should be fun. Turning up completely drunk to an urgent meeting. Ah well, might as well try walking quickly to the Hanger now, someone might be able to pick me up on the way.’ ’
The Sith thought as she grabbed her litch blade and Training sabre before heading out the door.
The Omwati stumbled through to the Hanger, and tripped over her own feet. A couple of Jedi Hunters spotted the girl and put her back onto her feet before the last few members made their way through the door. Taking a seat on the floor, resting against some crates, Xathia let the drunkenness take over her system.
Out of the corner of his eye, Braecen caught the auspicious Bakuran marching away from the clamor and chaos of the bridge. For a man of his notoriety, he did an abnormally small amount of thinking. Sith as his nature, his heart or other extremities often did the majority of thinking for him. Imperator Kaeth Kunar, a long time purporter of the rambunctious Quaestor, raised a silent hand. Three suspiciously Mandalorians followed Thran down the monotonous hollow body of the gigantic metallic behemoth named Exicidium. A two word bribe was all the Consul gave “Free Cognac.” the Corellian called to the pursuing Mandalorians.
The progeny of the Vectivian line walked with a panicked cadence, trembling with a thick concern for his brunette lover. Raidoner nodded to his warrior cabal. Following in step, he signaled to them to raise their weapons. Occasus stopped in midstep.
“Let me go, Mandalore. You can begin to understand what the consequences of what has transpired here.” Thran said with a bone-chill calm in his voice.
“I know exactly what has perspired here. You aren't going anywhere, Quaestor.” Raid said, proudly displaying an Obelisk's abnormal and terribly incorrect vocabulary. “Please...Cooperate.”
Every ounce of calm and restraint left the empty corridor, causing Thran's heart to palpitate. The T-shaped visors glared on him, expecting him to reach for his holstered weapon. However, much to their surprise, he never did. His shoulders relaxed and he stepped out of the challenged Alpha Male posture he had adopted.
“Good.” the Mandalore Patriarch said, continuing the execution of his orders.
It was as the group began herding the Quaestor back towards the bridge, that Mandalore began to feel the tension alleviate. Feeling a nauseating bout of sympathy for the Battlemaster, Raid ushered the rest of his cadre along. Ziggy and the other, an unnamed and otherwise faceless being, turned and left.
Once they were out of sight, Raidoner lowered his blaster. “Look...I know what she means to you. But, if you go out chasing her with brass balls, you are only going to end up dead. Don't think this means I am looking out for you...but, if it is any consolation...If I were you...I would have done the same thing.” The Mandalorian said, tapping a seldom seen pool of human-like emotion.
“If you were me, then I would be you and I wouldn't have stopped me.” Occasus said, slurring his words just enough to show that the prior evening had caught up with him.
The more seasoned Sith paused, unsure how to respond. “I suppose I should be lucky that is not the case.” he said conceding the argument to the younger man. “I'm just saying...I understand. Come on, Emperor Kunar is waiting for you. Free Cognac.” the Armored man finished.
As soon as the first syllable in the name of his favorite libation filled the air, Thran perked up. He followed Raidoner, intermittantly asking questions about the nature of said cognac. “Vintage?” “Aromas?” “Producer?” “Bottler?” “Planet?” and “Proof?” were only some of the one word questions the Bakuran asked as he was surreptitiously lead to a secure lock up. Braecen sent a thaumaturgic message, which successfully evaded interception by the well trained Occasus, informing Raidoner Mandalore of the command to detain the Caliburnii Quaestor. From a distance, Braecen was watching the Sith as the interacted. Somewhere along the lines, the Consul got an idea.
Lock him in the ready room before he can hurt someone or the more likely option hurt himself. He'll be useful later.
Slept through the beginning of a battle! I’ll never hear the end of that!, were several thoughts going through Syphoc Rilkel’s mind as he got dressed. As he got dressed, he watched the preliminary reports of the battle on the wall view-screen.
The Krath exited his cabin and rushed through the hallways to the hangar throwing his cloak over his plain robes as he went. Braecen would kill me if I, his former apprentice, were late to this!. Running through the corridors he attempted to get to the hangar before Braecen started the proceedings.
Syphoc entered the hangar at a light jog, his cloak billowing behind him. He examined the occupants of the expansive room, noting that many of the clan were already present, and then walked over to the wall and leaned against it.
The ship shuddered gently as it sustained fire from the enemy ships. Syphoc had viewed the preliminary reports as he had thrown his robes on, and was very confused as to why the enemies could not be sensed through the Force.
Syphoc sat down and continued leaning against the wall. He fiddled with the tuning devices on the side of his newly created lightsaber. He had created it the night before, before he had fallen asleep, and it wasn’t calibrated quite the way he wanted.
He was so involved in his work that he didn’t notice the shadow that fell over him. Only when his blue-haired friend, Yzarc Rellik, cleared his throat did the Knight finally look up and recognize him.
“Zarc!,” Syphoc exclaimed, greeting his friend who had, until recently, been his fellow apprentice. “I wondered if I would see you here.”
“Wouldn’t miss this for the world, Sy,” the blue haired man responded. He jumped right to business saying, “So listen, can you sense these things in the Force?”
The Krath responded with a negative shake of his head. “Nothing. Their ships look strangely organic as well, have you noticed? But they can’t be, because they can’t be sensed in the Force either!”
Yzarc nodded, “I hope Brae starts this show soon, I want to know what’s going on.”
You wouldn’t be alone, Yzarc Syphoc thought.
Maximus looked Thran up as ordered and made good on his word about the cognac, he actually ordered a bottle of his own private stock to be placed in the ready room along with a basket of rare culinary treats that the ships kitchen stockroom carried in case of any high ranking dignitaries such as the Grand Master and/or Deputy Grand Master would decide to come aboard and pay us a visit.
The ready room was not exactly a stock aid nor a prison, its accommodation's where fit for any high ranking officer, it rivaled the quarters of any of the Equite class.
As soon as Maximus noticed Thran had calmed down and sat to enjoy what the Sith Warlord had left for him, Maximus looked over to Zaknafein and with out saying a word pointed at the Dark Jedi Knight with a signal. Zaknafein nodded as he used his commlink in his helmet ..."Bring her in"...
Phantom walked in with two other escorts that surrounded Rasilvenaira Stormraven. The Mandalorian Matriarch walked up to Maximus and made way for Rasilvenaira to walk up to the Mandalore patriarch.
"Whats this all about Mandalore?" Rasilvenaira asked with noticeable anger in her voice.
"I understand your fatigued from your mission but I need you to help out a mutual friend" Maximus replied calmly as he extended his arm towards the ready room door.
Rasilvenaira hesitantly stepped up to the door window slot and looked inside. The expression on the Battlemaster's face quickly changed as she saw Thran in the room, she was quite prompt to join him.
Maximus unlocked the door for Rasilvenaira.
The Battlemaster thanked Maximus with out realizing that Maximus would lock the door behind her.
Maximus only watched Rasilvenaira embrace her husband with great affection, the mandalorian cracked a smile under his helmet as he walked away from the entrance of the ready room.
Zaknafein kept watching mesmerized with what Thran and Rasilvenaira where doing, Maximus pulled the young Dark Jedi Knight away as he stated; "Let them have their privacy before either one notices you and decide to gauge eyes out!"
"Ahhh come onnnn Raid!" Zaknafein said as he was being pulled away.
Within his private quarters aboard the VSD Excidium Tyno sat meditating, his thoughts picking up the many emotions and feelings of the crew. From most he felt relief and anticipation to the upcoming leave. Then something changed as the crews emotion changed from relief to anxiety and fear, the knowledge that something was wrong snapping the warrior to full awareness. Grabbing his lightsaber from under the beds pillow he exited into a hallway filled with frantic personnel just as the emergency alarms and battle klaxons came on, the comms filling the hall with “All hands on deck!” orders
“What’s going on.” he inquired to a crew member he had grabbed out of the crowd.
“We’re under attack!” responded the panicked crew member.
“I gathered as much, but who is attacking us?” Tyno asked calmly in an attempt to keep the man from running off.
“We don’t know a fleet of ships just jumped into the system!” said the man as he tried to break free of the siths grip.
Seconds later the ship rocked with a muffed explosion causing Tyno to release the man and grab the wall for support. Running in the direction of the sound from the explosion the warrior fought his way through the waves of panicked crew trying to get to a safe area. The ship shook again as the shields buckled under the assault as Tyno reached a repair crew trying to cut open a closed blast door.
“Chief, what’s the situation?” Tyno called out to the leader of the repair team.
Obviously relieved to see a dark jedi the Chief explained “Sir, The damage has caused the blast doors circuits to fuse, several crew are trapped on the other side but were having trouble getting through it.”
“Have your men step back, I’ll handle it” said Tyno as the bluish-white blade of his lightsaber snapped into existence.
Stabbing his blade into the center of the blast door the warrior began to cut his way through in a circular pattern. In conjunction with the force to aid in the process Tyno had reduced most of the door to slag and created a two meter hole to pass through in only a few minutes. Quickly thanking him the Chief and his team moved through the door and began to work on their repairs as the trapped crew fled the damaged section of the ship. He saw where several bulkheads had collapsed filling several hallways with bent and twisted circuits and durasteel. Using his lightsaber and the force Tyno continued to help with the rescue of trapped crew members until a slight lurch signaled that the ship had entered hyperspace. Moments later he was approached by particularly disheveled Ensign.
“Sir, your presence is requested in the main hanger by order of Lord Kunar” spoke the haggard man.
Throwing aside a large chunk of twisted medal Tyno acknowledged him “I’ll head there at once.”
Leaving the chief and his team to their job the sith made way for the hanger.
Rollmaster Cuchulain was walking along the back of the ranks of Acclivis Draco, the electronic roster in the datapad being ticked off as he saw the individuals falling in alongside their House-mates. The datapad wasn't needed as Cooch knew everyone in the House and where they were. As he watched the last of the junior HAD members fall in automatically ticking them off with his thumb he stopped as he looked up at Timbal, standing next to Braecen on the hastily erected stage at the front of all of the Clan. For a second he allowed his jealousy to over take him, his anger manifesting in an electrical charge that threatened to blow his cybernetic eyes, his wounded pride that Timbal had been called into conference with Braecen and not he. Not even RevengeX. Way to go to keep your Quaestor happy Brae. He wondered why he had not been called, wondered what it was that he had or hadn't done that had left him out of Braecen's circle. As the anger bubbled up he mad an oath to show Braecen was wrong in not consulting him. He growled at the people who had come in to take lazy positions, leaning against walls or standing with their hands in their robes' pockets. He sneered until they took the hint and joined everyone else. The Pontifex had never been in the military but would force everyone into a formation worthy of a Consular address. Even those in Caliburnus who saw the imposing figure of the old man hastily moved themselves into line with their own House.
The last few stragglers hurried through the doors, including Xathia half-stumbling into the hangar. Cuchulain winked at her and grinned that grin he does. They had spent several evenings together in the cantina pouring different concoction of alcohol down their throats, which had since finished since her wedding to his opposite number in Caliburnus. What a waste.
Cuchulain didn't need to reach out to feel the anger and fear in the huge room - it swelled in front of him, pulsing and throbbing so much he could feel it, so much he could almost touch it. Many of the Dark Jedi here before him had not been in a proper battle before. So many had never swung a sabre in battle, never blasted a ship apart throwing the pilot into the cold death of vacuum, never taken a life in anger. And now here they were with this puzzling enemy. They couldn't be felt in the Force, no sign was given of their attack until the Dark Jedi in on other ships felt the pain and torment as so many of their comrades had died in the impending explosions. Ships disintegrating outside their own was how most Palatinae members discovered they were under attack. And that was not good. In such a small area of space, arguably the strongest collection of Dark Jedi had not sensed their enemy's intent, that malevolence that comes hand-in-hand with surprise attacks. And now all Cuchulain could think about was how many of these un-bloodied warriors would return to be counted. Would he be here to count them off? He was feeding on that fear and anger, in much the same way he fed off the devastation that had happened before they had leapt into hyperspace, and although he couldn't feel this strange enemy, he could feel that it was only going to get worse. He lloked up and down the ranks, eyeing those he knew would have an impact on the preceedings. Syphoc gave a dark look, having been forced away from the reletive comfort of leaning against the wall. Yzarc, mouthy young Dark Jedi, but with a ferocity that matched his sarcasm. And Yeldarb. An older Journey man, his attitude and maturity as much of an asset as his work ethic. He hoped they would all return safe.
Phoenix worked his best game on the young ACO, but she was playing very hard to get.
"Trust me, I am a professional," Whispered the Firrerreon. "You'll enjoy every moment." The Firrerreon grinned, showing the tip of his canines. The inebriated woman blushed as she took another sip of her rum. Out of the corner of his eye, Phoenix saw RevengeX being tossed like a ragdoll by Cuchulain, landing next to Timbal.
"Cooch, don't hurt little brother now, we may need him for something," said Phoenix.
"Maybe if he wasn't so tiny," replied Cuchulain, taking another swig of his drink. Phoenix shrugged and then finished off the rest of the bottle he was drinking.
"So my dear, lets find us a more hospitable location to finish this conversation," said Phoenix, slowly wrapping his arm around the woman. The ProConsul stumbled slightly as he felt the massive amounts of alcohol rush through his body. Not wanting to give the impression he was obliterated. "This way, t..his way."
"My lord...Do you know where we are?" asked the young female. Phoenix looked around blankly, he thought that his quarters were this way.
"Yes....Um....Maybe....Right," stammered Phoenix. Suddenly alarms and sirens went off. The female jumped as Phoenix looked around wondering if he stole something again.
"Bah woman, Phoenix will be sufficient, and no don't worry bout the alarms. Thran most likely broke something. Now, ah, I think this is it," replied the drunk PCON. The door to the hangar bay slammed open as Phoenix and the young female fell through it. Braecen looked up from a conversation he was having with a fellow member of Scholae Palatinae at his intoxicated second-in-command.
"You drunk baffoon," The Krath stated plainly before a wave of the Dark Side passed from the Krath over the Sith, eroding the effects of the poison - alcohol - had on his Grand Marshall. Phoenix looked at Braecen, then back to the young woman.
"My bad, we'll finish later," said Phoenix to the girl, who looked both disappointed and afraid.
A myriad of beginnings to a single tale pulsed through the mind of a
Master of the Dark Side. Though only in the beginning of his years,
Niemand had already proven the ability to manipulate the Force to his
will. And perhaps it was his youth that allowed him to commune so openly
with the mystical essence of the galaxy... he was free of the corruption
and manipulation that so many of his peers had acquired as baggage
before their formal training.
Master Niemand "Duda" Machweg opened his eyes to find himself still in
his quarters aboard the Flagship of Scholae Palatinae. Not only had he
felt the giant, invisible hand of the enemy force stretch across the
black void of stars to grapple the Allied Forces of the Brotherhood, he
had felt the sheer panic and terror of the convened parties as they were
left powerless to combat this newfound foe. An external threat had
finally presented itself capable of overcoming the hidden Brotherhood
upon Antei... a new nemesis had been created.
A flicker of an image - love reunited - crossed the consciousness of
Duda as he arose from his cross-legged position upon the floor. The boy
shook his head, attempting to force the image from his mind... blessing
or curse, he had been in such deep commune with the Living Force that he
had seen how several prominent members had reacted to the situation. A
series of quick images that led towards the main hangar aboard the Excidium.
The boy nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders and began to make his way
towards the action. An amusing thought crossed his mind as he began his
journey. 'Phoenix and Braecen have probably bitten off more than they
can chew... again.'
* * *
Braecen stood atop a munitions crate before the convened members of the
Royal Clan. Gone was the formal pomp and ceremony from the occasion of a
Clan gathering. Scholae Palatinae was at war.
"One hour ago, enemy forces spilled from hyperspace into Antei's orbit."
The Consul gave the news with the slightest tinge of regret in his
voice. "Worse yet, I have received a communication that suggests the
Cocytus System - our home - is under attack."
A gasp issued through the crowd, before a low buzz began as the
individuals discussed the implications of their home worlds being
overcome and invaded. Phoenix opened his mouth to call for silence, but
was waived off by his lone superior. Braecen wanted them to be riled up,
he wanted their fear to evolve into palpable anger. The Warlord reached
out with the Force, sensing that the mob was no longer in shock... they
Braecen's voice lost it's luster, air passing over rotted vocal chords
as he spoke. "We have jumped, blindly, into the Shroud that surrounds
Antei. As such, it is safe to assume that our new foes will follow the
Brotherhood. So it is my intent to keep our rivals between the
approaching threat and ourselves." His voice dropped to a whisper, "Even
should it mean engaging our enemy forces."
Phoenix stepped forward, drawing all eyes to his position. "To fight a
war on two fronts, I will be in need of an additional servant to
assist. Archpriestess Impetus will continue to serve as Dark Paladin for
the duration of the war; however..." The Sith's tone firmed as he
continued to speak. "I will be appointing a second Paladin during this
time. For consistent service, dedication and being the role model of
what every member should strive to attain... I appoint Epis Adam
Anderson as the newest Dark Paladin."
The Consul, and Heir of Kun, nodded in the direction of the Epis; two
brothers exchanging brief nods. "Congratulations on your appointment,
Epis. It is well earned." To the rest of the individuals he said, "Do
not be disheartened, warriors. If each of us fight for the glory of our
Clan, if we all contribute to our maximum ability, we will depose of
this new threat and claim the respect of the Iron Throne."
Master Natth a'Niel appeared at the forefront of the throng and Braecen
knew he possessed information of vital importance. "I now give the floor
to Master Palpatine."
"I will be brief", the old Master announced. "While we have been thoroughly defeated in the last hours, we have at least found a very minor weakness in our enemy. My assistant, Ood Bnar, will demonstrate you the appropriate footage."
Natth nodded to the Neti who pushed two buttons on his datapad. "The Master has located a single instance where we have been able to destroy an opposing fighter with the weaponry of our own fighters. Here is the very scene. You see the frontal attack of Blue Four while Yellow Six and Twelve were crisscrossing the path of the enemy vessel from the rear. The two pilots narrowly avoided each other but concentrated fire on the opposing vessel. Now watch closely."
Ood Bnar stepped the scene ahead one frame by one. At several moments, the strange fighter was hit by two blasts at a time, from different ships, but each time, the two laser salvos were sucked into a black nothingness just outside the hull.
"As you can see, two blasts have no effect, regardless from where they come. They do have something to absorb them."
He stepped the scene a few more frames. Suddenly, a blast of light replaced the fighter.
Natth a'Niel spoke up. "This is the key scene. In this very situation, we have hit the enemy ship in three places. If you look closely,..."
Ood Bnar cued a pointer to a specific area in the explosion.
"..., you see that two of our blasts were eaten up by the blackness just as before, but it could not catch the third due to it being behind the hull. In fact, it almost seems as if the black spot has drawn the third beam to itself as well, literally pulling it through the vessel and dooming it."
A murmur rose in the room. Several pilots were vividly discussing the folly and impossibility of attacking these ships with a perfectly executed three on one maneuver.
"Silence, if I may", Natth demanded, more in the Force than in words.
"I have been unable to determine what exactly the dark spots were, but a comment from our resident Neti genius opened my eyes: These strange spots behave like Black Holes and in fact might be small Black Holes in their own right. Now if I am right, this opens an avenue of attack that is just slightly easier than the three-fighter attack. We need to distract the defensive spot, pull it to one side, and then attack from the directly opposite side at the same time."
"I am now asking the Squadron and Wing Commanders to consider this and come up with viable tactics to execute such a maneuver with two fighters, or, even better, one and a drone. Run some simulations on it while we still have the time. That will be all."
Jaysun was shocked by the news he'd just heard but didn't let it show on his face. He'd been a soldier for years and knew how quickly morale could be destroyed if the higher ups showed any sign of fear or defeat. While the loss of Judecca was a tremendous loss the news of the invaders weakness seemed to lift spirits and show the gathered members of Scholae Palatinae there new enemy wasn't invulnerable.
The news however didn't make Jaysun feel any better about what was coming. This was news for the pilot's of the clan, and while Jaysun was more than capable of piloting a ship he was no combat pilot. And after seeing the sort of maneuvers the invaders had pulled off in the footage shown by Natth the Templar held no illusions about how long he'd last in a dogfight with one of them.
As the Sith Jedi Master finished speaking Jaysun cleared his throat and said “A question Master Natth a'Niel if I may?”
With a quick nod Natth said “Yes Templar”
With a short bow of thanks Jaysun asked “Do we have any intel on the ground forces at all? What they look like , there weapons, troop deployment style. Anything that can help us grunts out when we face em on the ground?”
Makurth had just returned with his father when Braecen and the other man addressed the gathered Dark Jedi. He listened, feeling the cold hand of anger, dread, and worry pressed down on his muscular frame.
"Indeed sir," Makurth piped up, moving his way up towards the front of the crowd, his large armored form easily spotted in the mob of dark robed beings.
He popped the seal on his battered Mandalorian helmet and removed the heavy armor to stare Natth a'Niel directly in the eye like he would have any other warrior he greatly respected. The Knight's long, black dreadlocked hair hung down past his shoulders and the pale yellow strip tattooed across his cheeks and nose gave him an almost feral appearance. His Sith red-yellow eyes glared out from under the shadows of his brows, testament to his deep delving in the darkside.
"Master," Makurth said as he quickly bowed and hooked his arm around his bucket. "More especially, the troops need to know the weak points of these di'kutla so we can exploit them to full advantage," He pointed at the display. "And if their warriors fight anything like those odd space hunks, it'll be hard enough to try to take them down,"
The Mandalorian's brow was furrowed with suppressed anger and sweat had beaded on his brow that had nothing to do with the temperature of his suit. He was worried about the six month old son he had left on Concord Dawn, and the child's fate.
As Makurth waited for a reply, his thumb rubbed absent-mindedly against the leather belt pouch that contained the small paper photo of his son. He was trying to keep the worry and smidgen of fear shoved to the back of his mind, knowing he didn't have the luxury of feeling them without consequences. But that didn't stop the small dark snake from slithering around his heart and squeezing it mercilessly.
An impatient sound was heard from the back rows in the hangar. "How, by the Emperor's black bones, could anyone really know what their ground troops are like?" A boy they almost all knew well enough pushed through the assembled people. "However, if the Brotherhood's intelligence is correct, the situation for ground troops would be much the same." Niemand stepped close to the summit and vaguely pointed to where he supposed the enemy would be if they could see that far. "Anyone remember the reports from the core? The Grand Master's warnings about a new enemy out there, ripping through the Republic's forces?"
All eyes turned towards the boy, and not all of them were appreciating his interruption. Braecen's eyes in particular were not very friendly right now, but Niemand did not care. "Before I came here, I had several visions through the Force. I saw several versions of the attack which just happened. I could feel most of you, yet I did not get enough information on the enemy. As I am sure you have noticed, they just don't seem to be there... not in the Force." Several Clan members nodded, and a murmur arose. It was the most disturbing thing about this whole incident.
"I know one thing for sure, though. Victory can only come through unity. There is little point in fighting with Arcona while there is a common enemy." Braecen's eyes narrowed, but Niemand chose to ignore it. The essence inside him would not allow him to shut up in either case. "Some of the things I saw might not come true, and have not happened. Well, I even saw..." The boy's eyes fixed on Braecen thoughtfully. "I even saw you locking up Thran just because he wanted to meet up with Ras when she returned."
Murmurs became louder in the room. Niemand noted the Maldalorians shifting nervously. Phoenix stared at Braecen and then coughed a little. Master Natth a'Niel lifted an eyebrow and frowned at the same time, which looked rather strange. Cooch lifted up his arms, looked around and broke the silence. "Where are the two of them? I heard Ras has indeed survived. If we are to stand united..."
Right then, the door slid open again to reveal Thran half carrying an exhausted looking Aedile. "Sorry for being late," he mumbled, sounding somewhat amused.
Phoenix mumbled something undecipherable, and Brae threw his arms up. "As you see, he isn't locked up. Yet." His warning glance took in all of them. "We will talk about your... visions... later, Duda. Right now, we have other matters to discuss. You are right, though, there is no info at all about possible ground forces. And yes, it may be possible this foe is the same which rips through the Republic. But we do not know this for sure."
"How bad are our losses?" Rasilvenaira's voice was weaker than she looked, and Braecen was sure she was not aware of it or she would have tried to hide the state of her exhaustion. "How many of us were captured?"
Niemand blinked as another vision appeared in front of him, overlapping with reality. The explosion of the Brotherhood's flagship and... before he could hold on to that image, he felt Thran's hand on his shoulder. The quaestor was clearly signaling him not to reveal too much just yet, but it made him lose the image. Giving a shake, the boy tried to listen as Braecen listed their losses.
Vail held his breath, shifting balance rapidly from one foot to another, as if he wanted to express his impatience, or perhaps, excitement, concerning the latest events. His face, however, revealed something different: the Adept was disturbed.
Consul Braecen didn’t read the report at once. First, he skimmed it quickly, absorbing the information. His eyes moved downward, in a fast contemplation of how the members of the Clan would accept the information. The barely noticeable sight told the careful observant that the results of his contemplation were not satisfactory.
He looked up at the people around him without flinching. “The reports are confusing. The only thing certain so far is that Emperor’s Shield has been destroyed together with its entire crew.”
“What about the estimates?” Asked someone from the crowd. Vail did not recognize the voice of the person speaking, nor could he see his face. “We do have an estimate, right?”
The Consul nodded. More to reassure himself he was doing the right thing than as a confirmation to the person asking the question. “The early estimates – and I will repeat, these is not a confirmed information, it might not mean a thing – we project at least two thousand casualties so far.”
Vail almost released a gasp of surprise, but managed to cover it with a short cough. Some others were not that adept at hiding their amazement. He could see the surprise on the faces of the people, shock in the ways their muscles contracted, fear in the way their voice shivered.
“Two thousand?” someone said loudly enough for the voice to echo throughout the hangar “In a matter of minutes?”
“Guess that makes us kind of special” said one of the people wearing a mandalorian armor.
“It will make you dead if you do not start treating this more seriously” Vail finally broke his silence, with an angry-sounding, impatient comment. The surprise of hearing the Adept speak brought everyone’s attention to him. He used that moment to stand in the middle of the circle and address the present Clan members.
“You have felt it yourselves” he said as he raised the tone of his voice. “I have felt it too. They do not exist in the Force. Do I really need to tell you what that means?”
Exodius looked at him calmly. “No, you don’t need to.”
Vail nodded to his old comrade. Then, he turned around to face the Consul.
“Give me any enemy I can sense” Vail continued speaking as if he was never interrupted “And I will find a way to beat him, for Force is my strength. But we cannot feel these… these things”
“What do you suggest then?” asked Phoenix, visibly impatient.
“Retreat. Order evacuation of Cocytus. Let us all meet at Antei – find safety in numbers, as well as in the Shroud. Let us use other Clans as our shield – let them learn how to fight these new enemies for us. Then, we will join the war and smite them once they pose no danger to ourselves anymore.”
“Do you really think we will have a luxury of safety and caution in this war, Adept Unteminar?” asked Braecen. Vail’s monologue gave him time to recover from reading the report, discard the doubt and stand once more as a figure of authority – as the Consul of Scholae Palatinae.
In response to his question, Vail shrugged. “No, I guess not. It seems times like these remind us that in this universe, safety and caution are true luxuries, and that life comes and goes – for Dark Jedi, as well as others”
The hangar was still buzzing with the news of the events that had just unfolded. Question after question were still being asked at such a pace that it was becoming very obvious that Braecen was starting to lose his patience with the Dark Jedi that had gathered. Just before the Consul had a chance to quiet the crowd, a demanding voice startled the crowd.
“Quiet!” Phantom shouted. “It’s quite obvious to me that our esteemed leaders are just as confused as we are in the matter at hand. We are all trying to fathom whom, or what has executed an attack on the Brotherhood.
“Seeing how I personally escorted Rasilvenaira from her ship a few minutes ago,” the Obelisk continued, “ I’m quite positive that she has yet to go through a debriefing of the events pertaining to her captivity. Until then, we should let our Elders do their job.”
Looking back to the makeshift podium, Phantom noticed Braecen give a nod of approval to her.
Engineering was in total chaos. Too many people had been injured, killed or locked up in several other sections of the ship. Despite the turmoil, Yarzec Reen, deputy chief of the section, had rushed to the starboard generator room immaediately. The thread of imminent explosion and the fact that he had not noticed it himself had made him run much faster than his overeight body would usually permit.
When he had arrived at the starboard generator, he found two of the Dark Jedi apprentices staring at the generator in helpless confusion. What they were doing here when Reen had clearly heard them all being ordered into the hangar, he did not know. He just hoped they would not be in his way or try to give orders.
Aside of watching him closely while he was busy initiating an emergency shutdown they had done nothing, though. Now, with the shutdown complete and repair on the way, they were still standing there staring at him, the Nikto mumbling something every now and then.
"I'm done," Reen announced, his nervousness clearly showing. "I'm short of staff right now, so would you two mind to watch this here for a bit?" The fat man indicated two sensor arrays. It's not supposed to go into red," he explained. "But I believe you can deduct that, Sirs."
Demius was about to refuse, they should have been in the hangar all along, but then he noticed the Nikto's eager face and sighed. Maybe watching those scales was as important as listening to the Consul. Asides, not many people called him sir - usually it was student this, apprentice that, and occassionally someone would call him by his actual rank. "Fine," he said, trying to put some authority in his voice. "But make sure someone will come to replace us soon."
Reen nodded and hurried out of the room. There were other things to fix, and he needed more people. A few moments later he had totally forgotten about the two wannabe-heroes.
Cornix and Demious stood slightly dumbfounded, looking at the various gauges and displays in the room. The sensor that Reen had indicated was wavering back and forth slightly, acting slightly strange. Cornix fingered a switch on the panel next to him, idly wondering what it might do.
“Are you a bloody moron, don't touch that!” yelled his fellow Apprentice.
“Bah, I can't hurt anything with a switch this small,” replied the Jedi Hunter.
“Sure, and while your busy blowing up the ship, I'll be busy getting as far away from you as possible,” said the Protector.
Cornix grinned as he watched his fellow turn away, and switched the flip. A collective angry moan could be heard throughout the ship as the lights went out. All of them.
“What...what did you do Cornix?”
“Uhm, me!? You! What did you do!?”
“I didn't touch anything!”
“Oh man, if we can't find that switch again we are in so much bantha poodoo...”
“Ah, I think I found it!” yelled Cornix, flipping another switch.
Another collective curse could be heard throughout the ship as gravity suddenly disappeared.
“I hate you so much right now, Cornix.”
“Right, as far as the Master is concerned, this is so your fault.”
“Sure. Lets see...” the Protector muttered, igniting his training saber, bringing a yelp to his Jedi Hunter companion.
“Oops,” Demious said with a slight grin, awkwardly making his way to the panel that Cornix had been fiddling with, first finding the switch for the lights, then gravity.
Once more, a collective sound of anger went throughout the ship as people, pets, and furniture crashed to the deck.
“Hate you. So much.”
Redirecting his gaze from the eyes of the Mandalore, Braecen looked out over the vast expanse of people once more. His resolve returned, he brought a conclusion to the meeting, "While it is tragic that Cocytus is under attack, we have an opportunity - here and now - to learn from our folly. We can utilize the Arcona Fleet, which is believed to be directly at our backs, as our engagement zone with the Yuuzhan Vong."
Silence swelled in the hangar. "Erm," the Proconsul attempted to convey his counterparts message in laymen's terms, "By keeping the Arcona Fleet between, as a buffer, we can allow them to sustain the greatest amount of damages while collecting additional information on our newfound threat." He was also greeted with continued silence with the exception of the Elders and several senior members. Spreading his arms, in a final attempt, he plainly stated, "We are going to screw Arcona over. And beat these invaders ass." A collective nod rippled through the crowd as they all seemed to grasp the strategic concept.
Pontifex Cuchulain leaned in close to Vail and Exodius - fellow Senators of the Scholae Palatinae Senate - before whispering into their ears, "Is it me, or do these new recruits keep getting dumber?"
Once again, the Consul controlled the floor. "I encourage each of you to utilize this down time, as you are able. I will take Rasilvenaira through debriefing in an attempt to ascertain any helpful details that will aide our cause." He stood motionless, watching the collective group. "Disperse!"
The Grand Marshall, Phoenix Olkyssagh d'Tana Palpatine, assumed control of the situation. "Thran and Rasilvenaira, if you would be so kind to accompany myself and the Consul. The rest of you-" Suddenly the lights in the ship went out. The Proconsul's tone changed from authoritative to curiosity, "What the hell?" A collective rumble loosed through the throng as the convened members attempted to figure out what was amiss. A moment later each of the Dark Jedi began to float above the flight deck. Phoenix fumed in the dark, "I am so going to kill someone."
The lights flickered on a moment before the gravity returned, sending everyone crashing onto the floor. The Proconsul rolled into a sitting position, "Kill... you... dead."
* * *
"I need to know everything, Silver." The Corellian cooed to the woman sitting opposite of him in his quarters. He could feel the tense presence of Phoenix and Thran standing just outside, obviously engaged in a discussion on the Caliburnus Quaestor being denied access. "The sooner you tell me your tale, the sooner we can begin preparing to defend our Clan."
Her voice - deep with strength, but obviously shaken - came in measured bursts, "I was running, we were all running when the invaders attacked. The Vae Victus was torn into a frenzy, everyone running and shouting in panic. I boarded my ship, but I could not escape..."
Her tale drug on for a long time, its telling taking longer as the Consul pushed for every detail and nuance. He listened with rapt attention as she conveyed the parts of her story that dealt directly with her contact to the presumed Yuuzhan Vong. His eyes clouding with tears as she explained the device that tore at her mind and will - embracing her in constant pain.
As she discussed her escape and return to the Clan flagship, Braecen half-listened as his mind chewed over the information she had imparted on him - his connection with Prajna allowing him to use two sharp-witted minds to process the content. He blinked, noting that his companion had gone silent. "Braecen?" The Sith Battlemaster inquired. "Do you mind if I get back to Thran? I can sense his displeasure at not having me at his side."
"Very well, go on." The Corellian leaned back in his chair as she departed and the Proconsul entered the room. Braecen looked into Phoenix's eyes, "We have a chance... though it may be slim."
With a thought, the Krath summoned his Cerean Apprentice. He had special orders to impart on the Knight... orders that required face-to-face discussion.
Freshly showered, and dressed in his usual combat garb, Brent marched down the corridor towards the pilot’s ready room. His temple still bled, a haphazardly applied bandage was clotted crimson and maroon. In his hand he held the datapad he’d been holding before taking off to protect his clan’s fleet. It held the data and information about the pilot and fighter compliment of the Clan’s capital ships. He entered the pilot’s ready room, and surveyed the gathered men and women.
“Commander on deck!” came a shout from his right. A young flight officer with his eye bandaged up was at full attention, saluting him. Several of the other pilots, the least injured it seemed, stood and saluted. Most of the others nodded their heads, or gave a quick wave. Brent saluted them back casually.
“At ease, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t get up on my account.”
Several pilots lay back or shifted around. Various groans of pain rose from the gathered personnel. Brent strode across the room to the flight group command office. Ten men and women stood or sat around a holo table. There seemed to be an argument in full swing.
“For the love of fierfek, Nichos! Our lasers were ineffectual, our missiles were just sucked into something, no matter what angle we fired at” said a man dressed in a New Republic-style flightsuit, which was dark grey-black, with a set of major insignia on his chest. Cal Martin was the commander of the Golden Crusaders, a group of six X-Wings in the clan’s fighter corps. He was pretty green behind the ears, but was exceptionally skilled.
“Calm yourself, Cal,” said Nichos Dressadin, the commander of the premier TIE Defender squadron, Black Aces, “No matter what enemy we face, they will always have a weakness, a way of exploiting them. We can trust in the Clan’s strategists that a weakness will be found”
Several of the other commanders nodded, the Twi’lek Andreit Lavicq still seemed skeptical. Brent cleared his throat as he walked up to the holotable. The commanders looked up and nodded to him. He was just a Dark Jedi Knight, but years in the fighter corps of various imperial forces meant he was the most skills and qualified to lead the fighter corps.
“Ladies, gentlemen. Damage assessment”
“Two X-Wings lost, sir” said Cal.
“Just one TIE Defenders, but most are battered up. Your fighter, sir, is probably in the best condition” said Nichos, fiddling with a pen between his fingers.
“Five TIE Fighterz, zir. No real repair azzezzment for you, too many fighterz to fix at the moment” said Captain Swaebhass, a Trandoshan whose deathly calm only showed how angry he was.
“Three TIE Bombers, sir. We did some damage to one of their corvette analogs, but three of our fighters was sucked into what looked like a singularity” came the voice of Commander Nor from the back.
“Not great, but we’ve done a lot better than most of the clans. Get your pilots rested, and fixed up. I want reports from you on your roster status,” Brent said, looking around the holotable. He smiled, and plugged his datapad into the table, bringing up the information that had been handed to him by the strategists of the clan, namely Master Nathaniel.
“Watch these videos, and brainstorm, gents. I’ll be back to check on you soon. Good luck,” he patted Nichos on the back, and nodded to the rest. As he exited the fighter command office, a technician stopped him. He was the same technician who helped him out of his fighter a little earlier.
“Pardon me, sir. I have something you might want to look at” he said, handing Brent a datapad. Brent looked at the techie, trying not to use the Force to read his thoughts or emotions. He started reading the report on the datapad.
“Many of the fighters who returned damaged exhibited signs inconsistent with conventional weaponry. It appears that some of the fighters have been burnt by lava, though not conventional rock-based lava, but with a biological form. It is obviously of a high temperature, but the biological component leads me to believe that there is also an acid involved. We’ve collected biological material for analysis. We also have a specimen of what looks like a large locust-style insect. It has extra appendages that seem to be created for the sole purpose of cutting through ship hulls. Most of the alien weapons, and vessels seem to have been bio-engineered for that purpose, but these insects can survive in void, and can be used as a sort of minefield. Further analysis to follow soon.”
Brent looked to the techie, and nodded.
“Thanks, techie. Do me a favor and get some of these pilots into the fighter simulators with the new YV-1 simulator pack. I’ll have some guys down here to fight against them soon”
“Aye aye sir,”
He nodded to the techie, and smiled, moving out into the corridor. Suddenly the lights turned off suddenly. Brent swore under his breath, drawing his saber, and igniting it. He looked around to make sure everyone around he was ok. Before he could continue on his way, the gravity gave out. His forward movement sent him forward, but without his feet on the deck. His stomach churned. He hated zero-g, and always would. The gravity returned, along with the lights, quickly. With a grunt, he hit the deck, hard. He got up slowly, swearing profusely.
“Damn this is getting out of hand.” He stood up, retrieving his datapad and commlink from the deck. He realized he’d forgotten something rather important. He lifted his commlink.
“Umm… Thran, your fighter group commanders have been debriefed, and all are accounted for.”
The lights in the hallway were bright. Prajna had been in the dark office for over an hour, analyzing facts as his Consul heard them, and helping to bounce ideas for his friend and mentor. The Cerean's eyes squinted for a moment as he stood in shock while his vision adjusted to the unnatural light. Braecen's quarters weren't far, so Prajna set off on a brisk pace. The news was quite startling, Prajna could not understand how humans could possible process the overwhelming information, it was trouble enough with twice the brain cells ticking.
The door was cracked open. Phoenix was the only person that could be seen. He was leaning back in a cheep plasteel chair. Prajna grinned as he sensed a slight push of the force keeping the Proconsul from tipping over. In any other situation, PJ would have taken advantage of it, but now was not the time.
Berkana approached silently; still both summit leaders sat up instantly when the Dark Knight reached the entrance. "Come in and close the door." Sometimes when they were together, Prajna couldn't tell if they were audibly talking or not. Yet, the message was conveyed.
"Sit down and relax." The Sith member gestured toward a third chair in the room. "We have some time so there is no rush." Prajna nodded. He had been sitting for a while, and would have prefered to stand, but this was his Clan leaders. Prajna flushed his tight muscles with a wave of the force as he tried to get into a comfortable posistion in the cheep folding chair.
"Thank you." Prajna looked first at the Firrerreon, and then the other. He sat upright a little more. A drink would be good right now. This is too serious.
Braecen hid a sly grin. He leaned to the side and opened a cabinet. "Crellian Ale?" Prajna motioned to respond, but the Consul was already pouring a few drinks. Prajna took a swig before they continued.
The Corellian spoke with a hint of an accent. He normally spoke very clear, being trained a Krathian poet. Prajna knew that already his Master's nerves were tight. "The report from Silver comfirms this enemy looks in person as fierce as their space armada was. We need the Legions to be ready for anything from a heavily armed boarding party to full scale invasion. I only wish I could give you more intel on what we are fighting."
Prajna finished his drink in one motion. The cup hit the table with a loud Thud as the Cerean stood. Troop leadership was a Cerean Jedi's tradition. While he might not fully respect his homeworld's greatest hero, Jedi Master Mundi had invented unique ways to coordinate a fighting force. "It will be my honor." Thanks for the drink Brae. Let me know when we are needed.
"Will do PJ." Phoenix was smart enough that he didn't even try to understand what went through those two's heads sometimes. The two summit leaders shuffled out on the Knight's heals, headed off in the other direction to further prepare the clan members.
RevengeX’s eyes widened more and more as he scanned reports of the
damage sustained in the previous battle. The list of casualties were
enormous, made worse still by the odd reference of a familiar name. The
situation was a crisis in every sense of the word. Extra help was needed
in the analysis of these reports, and faithful assistant Aedile Natth
a’Niel was busy looking over footage of the catastrophic fight. “Dragon
Seraphim, report to the Acclivis Draco conference room.”
The Quaestor’s guard were never far from their leader, and arrived in
the large office almost immediately. Impetus Korin entered the room
after Siyavash, Exodius, Gavan and Adam Anderson, with her husband
Ararin Korin close behind. Laurus and Syphoc Rilkel entered within the
“The situation with this unknown threat has gotten out of hand in only
the first battle.” RevengeX started the second Rilkel entered the room.
“We are helpless to stop their unknown ships, not only to their lasers
seem to bend time and space to hit us, it seems impossible to hit them.”
The Wookie Knight Laurus growled roughly in various pitches. “Can we not
fight them on the ground?” Impetus translated.
“I’m not sure that would be wise even for a wookie with a lightsaber.
Rasilvenaira claims she’s seen them up close, but no-one’s fought with
“They can’t be a match for the Force?” Ararin Korin questioned, his lack
of Force Sensitivity often led to inaccurate assumptions.
“They are devoid of the Force, Ararin.” Epis Adam Anderson clarified.
“As their life energy does not send off waves within the Force it would
seem the Force cannot even affect them.” Ararin looked to his twi’lek
wife for confirmation, who merely nodded gravely. “And we still don’t
know what they are like in combat. But we do know what they are like in
the air, and none of us have seen anything like what just happened.
Surely they can’t be anything like that on ground?” Impetus questioned
impatiently, never a fan of space combat, eager to get her feet on the
RevengeX spoke above Ararin as he opened his mouth to reply. “I’ll try
to make contact with the other Clans, maybe they have information to
trade on what they are like at close quarters. Dragon Seraphim
dismissed, when I have made contact you shall be recalled.”
“Make some space!” shouted a trooper, garbed in the well known Storm Trooper armor. A heavy weapon squad - possessing a minimum of a light repeater blaster, probably more - rushed towards the auxiliary engineering section, where the gravitation, lights and other minor, but important, control systems of the ship were housed. Although the Legions were not Force sensitive, few would dare try to stop these troopers from executing their orders. First, because they were the highest trained warriors of Cocytus - the best the Clan had to offer. Second, they swarmed over and through everything between themselves and their targe - like a mad Krayt dragon. The zero gravity had caused injuries and damages to many devices and sentient, whom were not locked in when the gravity had previously disengaged.
Of all the areas effected the most, the cantina and the medbay suffered the worst from light and gravity loss. It came as no surprise that Sommetra - Commanding Officer aboard the Excidium - ordered increased security to the key points of the ship: the bridge, engineering, hangars, pilot corridors, and the armory. The Bravo Company, attached to the 1st Legion, assigned platoons to secure the key areas.
As the ship found itself in a state of war, the security levels had increased. This meant a level “A” entry code was now only acceptable for the level “B” locks. Meant to secure the critical zones from being breached by unauthorized persons. No more sabotage should be reported from any critical point of the ship. The troopers formed into assault formation; based on their squad assignment. A few meters before they reached the engineering, they slowed to a crawl with weapons at the ready. Cautiously, the entered the compartment as several troopers took up guard outside.
What they saw was chaos, the engineering room in ruins with cables and consoles everywhere. “A Squad to bridge. We are in the Aux. Engineering room, we need technicians here as soon as possible. No visible threats. It may be the short was caused by the damages sustained from battle. We are moving in for a closer look.”
Not waiting for an answer from the bridge, the Storm Troopers systematically swept the room, finding two Dark JedI rolling around on the ground - engaged in combat . Had the standard helmet of the Sergeant not been present, his face would have belayed his confusion.
“What are you two doing here?”
The older one, possibly the higher ranked, opened his mouth to explain, “Uhm… we just heard… there is a problem here… so we came to fix it…” He gulped as he finished what he felt was an acceptable explanation.
“Are you qualified to work on this piece of machinery?” The Commando barked. The warriors still had their weapon ready and aimed on the two saboteurs.
“We just..” The sergeant interrupted, explaining how they could be taken to prison until the end of the war. And how future charges could be levied by higher ranking leadership. Suddenly, a person wearing a cloak and the standard robes of the envoys stepped through the portal into the engineering room. The young warrior had arrived, by the order of the Consul, to check out why the shorts had happened.
“Sergeant, would you enlighten me to what happened here?” asked the Equite.
The sergeant explained what he could, not withholding his suggested course of punishment for the reckless Journeymen.
“Sergeant, you and your troops make sure an incident like this cannot happen again.” Zeron said before assuming a more ’final’ tone, “And I will make sure these two will not cause any further problems.” The Knight Class Envoy turned his gaze upon the two, “Since I do not believe you two have the capabilities to be spies of the Jedi Order, or this newfound invincible enemy, you will live; however, you will report to the Proconsul. Which, in my opinion, is worse than ending up dead. Now head back to your quarters while I report to the summit.”
As Zeron briefed the Clan Leaders - Braecen and Phoenix - he received two dramatically different responses. The Proconsul wanted to toss both individuals out an air lock, basing it on his displeasure with both individuals. The Consul, however, handled the situation differently by vetoing the order to send them to their demise; instead, assigning them to cantina duty for the next several days.
They will learn not to mess with multimillion credit ships, the Sith thought.
Timbal was standing on the bridge, observing the crew operations. It seemed as if he was satisfied by just making sure that everything was right; that the crew performed the same procedures he expected of them. Only rarely would he make a suggestion, or issue an order, more as a mean of encouragement than of control, as if to remind the people onboard the ship that present with them was one of the Dark Jedi of the Scholae Palatinae – the man who, if everything else fails, could find the way through the Shroud.
Still, whether he judged that they did not need his guidance or he was puzzled by the situation the Excidium found itself in, none of Timbal’s orders had anything to do with the navigation course. Rather, he would make small comments and adjustments to ship’s systems, the shield distribution, energy flows, or generator power, as if there was absolutely no threat to the ship’s safety other than those simple things.
He heard the footsteps of slim, light boots approaching him from behind. The footsteps were regular, echoed lightly off the floor, and had a rhythm of a stride accomplished with an uncanny ease. The footsteps were so distinct Timbal didn’t even find necessary to turn around and see who was coming to him.
“Vail” he said, still turned toward the front window of the bridge. “Why did you come here? Aren’t people trying to prepare for war?”
“The rest are. I made my choices already” Vail replied nonchalantly. “I just came here because I like seeing the Shroud. Wonders of the galaxy such as that… never cease to amaze me”
Timbal turned to look at the Adept’s profile as he gazed into the space, focused at no specific point. He looked a bit more composed then he had appeared at the meeting earlier. His robe seemed tidier, its belt tightened more, its sleeves straighter. Vail’s facial lines were showing some hidden determination in the way the muscles under his skin tightened.
And, he had a bottle in his hand.
“Actually, I also came to check some things” Vail continued to speak in his relaxed, casual tone. “Did we get any news from Cocytus? Any reports on the events going on there?”
Timbal shook his head “No. Nothing definite. Well, maybe Braecen did, but nothing came to the bridge.”
Vail sighed. “Are you telling me that our entire Clan Home was attacked by this enemy, and they didn’t report anything except that they’re under attack and that they’re dying?”
Timbal nodded “I’m afraid so. I think your curiosity will have to wait for us to arrive at Antei to be satisfied.”
“Oh well” Vail shrugged. “One last thing – I heard they found the cause of recent… problems with certain ship systems. Apparently, two retards were playing in the engineering. Its been resolved”
“I’m glad to heard that” Timbal replied absent-mindedly.
“However” Vail continued “I somehow do not feel that gravity is strong enough. Could you maybe increase it just a bit? A degree or something?”
Timbal nodded as he issued the order for the increase in ship’s gravity. Vail sent a fain smile his way as the two of them felt just a bit heavier, and then the Adept opened his bottle, running the brownish liquor down his throat.
“Thanks” Vail replied in a same nonchalant manner that he began the conversation in “It flows much smoother now”
The consul’s speech seemed dreading enough, knowing what loss we already suffered, Malaki didn’t really want to know more about this horrid crisis. Looking around at everyone, he guessed that everyone felt the same way. He kept his eye on a bunch of journeymen, whispering to each other , some were even s[Expletive Deleted]ing. The knight slowly got frustrated, their laughter stuck inside his mind, as if they were just torturing him. But as he looked inside each of them he knew that they wished different, trying to pass the destruction by simple jokes, they fell silent and clearly showed their true feelings for the time that passes. As Braecen walked off, everyone seemed as if they were all motivated in some way, more than others.
The knight decided he should find his battle teams leader, Cethgus, for any jobs that needed to be done. That was when the light began to flicker again, as darkness shun through every gap of light the gravity failed and slowly reconnected sending everyone from mid air straight into the cold metallic floor. Malaki felt clumsy yet again, just after taking a injury to the head this time he fell backwards head first, striking the floor with a thump.
“Ouch” The knight said, rubbing the back of his head, letting his hand pass throw the tangles of hair.
Everyone was slightly startled, the boxes of equipment lay in pieces with everything in side laying somewhere around the hall. Malaki decided to depart on search for Cethgus, as he walked out the door he bumped into Yzarc who was accompanied by Tyno.
“Well this is odd, I was just about to come and find you lot, right now one thing where’s Cethgus got to?” Malaki said in a slight surprised tone.
There was no reply, but Tyno pointed down the hall, Malaki turned his head noticing he was pointing straight at the people he was looking for, Cethgus and their house leader, Thran.
Voldemort left the hangar in a daze. nothing really seemed to make sense. Before he knew it, he was on the way back to the cantina. Now was as good a time to get drunk than any.
The cantina was overly full, as was to be expected. Voldemort noticed Cooch ordering two people around who looked like Master Natth a'Niels' apprentices. Laughter in the corner, albeit forced, brought enlightenment here - they were the oney who had messed up in engineering. Voldemort snorted. Just what they needed.
The Nikto passed him with a scowl on his face, but the other guy looked ready to kill the Nikto. "All his fault," Voldemort heard him mumble. "He had to play the hero and drag me down to engineering instead of going to the hangar."
Not bothering to point out that he had followed the nikto, after all, Voldemort picked a place close to the bar. Trewbacca, his strange wookie brother, was sitting there with something green in a glass, growling at him to come over. Was it his imagination, Voldemort wondered, or was gravity suddenly higher?
"Where are Marr and Aliena?" Voldemort inquired about his other siblings. "And Cem." How he wished his mother would be present, her power in the Force would be so helpful now. And how he disliked him thinking about it at the same time. He was not supposed to rely on others.
The Wookie growled that he did not know and wanted to add something, when suddenly a collective sigh echoed through the cantina. The panorama window showed them dropping out of hyperspace and entering the shroud. The next danger in a probably long row of dangers.
Lucien had heard the call to disperse, but he had other things in mind. He had news for the Consul’s ears only and he knew there was going to be a long line to see the Corellian. As the Clan flooded out of the hangar, off to their various duties, Lucien grabbed a nearby Protector by the arm and dragged him out the hangar door.
“Hey, what in the hell…..” Protested the Protector.
“Quiet you. Just follow me and keep your mouth shut and you might just survive this whole thing.” Lucien responded. “What’s your name anyway?”
“Yeldarb Vokhou. And I don’t appreciate…”
“Yeldarb, do you fully understand what is going on here? It’s not just us that are being attacked here. Planets all over the galaxy are being terraformed by these creatures. Up until now, they were only worried about the Core Worlds. For some reason, they see us as a sufficient enough threat to make the trip out here to the Outer Rim. Now, I have to go about seeing the Consul with this information. You are going to help me see him.”
With that, Lucien spun on his heel and marched off in the direction he remembered seeing Braecen head. Having never been on the Excidium before, Lucien got lost quite quickly. When he finally found the office of the Consul, it was just as Prajna was exiting. Just as Lucien had predicted, there was a long line outside the office. Everyone wanted more information, and they all thought the Consul would have it.
“Now, here is where you come in. I need you to distract all these people so that I can cut in line. Do whatever you have to.” Lucien nodded towards the line and sent the Protector off on his mission.
Lucien chuckled as Yeldarb began running down the corridor, yelling incomprehensibly. It was just the distraction Lucien needed. As everyone turned their heads to look at the crazy Protector running down the hall, the Templar slipped into Braecen’s office.
“What is going on out there?” Braecen half yelled.
“Just my new Apprentice making sure I get to the head of the line sire.” Lucien replied. “I have news of Corellia.”
Braecen’s ears perked up at the name of his home world, but tried his hardest not to let it show.
“What of Corellia. Does it stand?”
“It does Consul. But maybe not for long. On my way back from the Core Worlds when I first learned of the invaders, I encountered a fleet that was on a direct course sir. It is not long before they fall. I just thought you should know. What we are dealing with here is attacking on a massive scale.” Lucien went on to recount his entire experience with the supposed Vong from his chase away from Coruscant to witnessing the fleet beginning the attack on the Brotherhood. He included everything he had just told his new Apprentice as well. Lucien knew well that Braecen would need all the information available to him if he were to lead this Clan to survival, let alone victory.
Timbal was glad for Vail’s quiet presence on the bridge of the Excidium. He was quietly horrified at the losses that they’ve sustained, and was furious at the loss of the Emperor’s Shield. Granted, the ship was crewed by a green crew, and he didn’t even really remember any of them, but still, they were fellow Clan members, and that made all the difference.
I swear that they will be avenged two-fold, he thought darkly. Still, the former Consul knew better than to let his emotions cloud his thinking. He needed to be as clear headed as much as possible. Dispassionately, he oversaw the running repairs of the Clan’s flagship, trying his best to keep the crew as busy as possibly getting the ship back to normal. A busy crew is a happy crew, or so he learned from Xanos way back in his Naval Corps days. Keeping them calm was his top priority, since he knew how they were all quietly horrified as he was. Keeping an eye on a multi-screen hypercomm transmission from the Ogmio’s Whip and the Victory and their own status of repairs, he also needed to talk to their captains directly. With that, he had an idea and keyed the ship’s intercom system.
“Consul, Bridge here. Could I get one of the Mandalores sent up here, I need one for a quick mission.”
On the other end, Braecen called Maximus Raidoner Mandalore into his office, and sent a simple acknowledgement to Timbal, and sent the Mandalore on his way.
While he waited for his arrival, he keyed in another display feed to display the events that Master Natth a'Niel had pointed out in his presentation. He left it on a repeat loop, as Raidoner just walked in.
“Sir, reporting in as ordered!”
The senior Clansmen faced the impressive warrior in front of him. “Warlord, I have a mission for you. It’s simple, but critical. I need you to pilot one of our shuttles over to both the Whip and the Victory, and bring Captains Lanas and Noscondra. Please escort them here. Feel free to take an honor squad with you if you deem necessary.”
The Mandalore broke once again to attention, saluted, and departed. He wasn’t bored anymore!
Timbal turned away, and continued his vigilant watch, watching everything. However, he kept being attracted to the running loop of the battle that was being displayed. His highly analytical mind, he knew, was processing the information...
His eyes narrowed... Wait a minute! he thought to himself... An idea was forming...
Maximus called the Excidium's hanger and requested his VT49 Decimator be ready and fully manned and armed together with two TIE-Aggressors and four TIE-Interceptors of the Honor Squad.
The Mandalore planned on a heavy escort for both Captains.
The VT49 Decimator is most correctly classified as an Assault ship, a ship built to out-fight anything it can outrun, and outrun anything it can’t outfight. Armor and deflector shielding is particularly heavy, and the weapons load-out is fearsome and includes turrets capable of engaging any target fast enough to out-maneuver the VT49. Decimators make simple supply runs to listening outposts in dangerous areas like asteroid belts, perform long-range reconnaissance, serve as temporary listening posts themselves, or act as picket ships at the perimeter of an Imperial fleet. They are also called upon to use their weaponry to carve a path through enemy defenses and insert shock troops and raiding parties, or destroy their targets outright. A more recent duty that has fallen into favor sees Decimators being used more and more as long-duration medium patrol vessels. Also, being easier to hide than a frigate or Star Destroyer, Decimators have been used to set up ambushes in areas believed frequented by enemy shipping; their cargo space being used to store food for the crew and ammunition ranging from missiles to torpedoes to mines. So you can see why the Mandalorian would take this ship over his firespray. "Theres a ship suited for every mission" and a high security escort called for a VT49.
This with the two TIe-Aggressors as its wingmen and the TIE-Interceptors as wingmen to the TIE-Aggressors it would be hard for even a full fleet of A-wings to interrupt the escort.
Maximus requested to the security team of both the Whip and the Victory to have their Captains ready to board the VT49 as soon as it docked and reminded them that time was of the essence.
OOC: Info on the VT49 was researched in http://starwarsgalaxies.station.sony.com/e...source=features
The corridor to the quarters Rasilvenaira had been assigned on the Excidium seemed to get longer as the weary Battlemaster made her way back to them from the debriefing with Braecen. All the way, Thran walked beside her, bristling like an angry vornskr at anyone who dared to come too close to the pair. His usually emerald green eyes had taken on a greyer shade as his concern for his Aedile was clearly evident.
Cethgus and a couple other members of Souls of Darkness tried to catch up to Thran as he escorted Rasilvenaira. “Thran…” The Warrior started; only to be stopped cold by the furious look on his Quaestor’s face.
“Go find something to do, Cethgus, I’m busy right now, leave me alone.” Thran growled.
Entering her quarters, Rasilvenaira sank down into the nearest comfortable chair and closed her eyes. Thran paced around the room a few times until Rasilvenaira looked up at him and pointed to the chair across from her.
“Thran, please, sit. Your pacing around is making me dizzy.”
“You had your eyes closed.”
“I don’t need my eyes to see you, dear, or to feel you pacing around like a caged Krayt.”
The Sith settled into the chair with a resigned sigh, regarding his companion. “Are you sure you’re alright? After…” His voice trailed off, leaving the thought unfinished. He had picked up bits of what Rasilvenaira had been through during her debriefing but had refrained from pressing her on details left unsaid.
“I will be fine. I’m tired and sore, and need to rest, but I will be just fine.” She looked over at him, smiling softly. Standing up, Rasilvenaira walked over and placed her hand lightly on his shoulder. “I am going to fix a cup of tea and then try to relax, care to join me or are you needed elsewhere?”
He looked up at her, the color gradually returning to his eyes as he slowly relaxed. “You get comfortable and relax, I’ll get it.” She nodded and moved over to the more comfortable sofa.
It did not take long for Voldemort to get nervous in the cantina. Trewbacca had left him soon to take over bridge duty. He was a good enough pilot to help steer the Excidium in this madness that was the shroud. Voldemort himself did not like having to watch the oh-so-great phenomenon so he left soon after his furry brother. At the door, he almost bumped into Master Natth a'Niel - no doubt the Sith was here to beat some sense into his two foolish apprentices. Under other circumstances, Voldemort would have stayed to watch, but right now he could only think of the trouble his Clan, no, the whole Brotherhood was in.
The corridors were silent but not empty. Most people he met had worry written in their faces, if not outright fear. The Obelisk was not so sure if he didn't look the same. He was not even sure where he was going, until he noticed he was standing in front of the observation deck doors. Hesitating, he looked around and noticed he was the only one around. How come the others always seemed to know just what to do in a crisis while he did not? Even knowing that he was made for ground combat did not help making him feel less inadequat.
Finally, he entered, expecting to find himself all alone. Instead, there were two other people present. Sith Warrior Tyno was one of them. He did not know the other man. They were looking up as he came in.
After a few minutes of running up and down the halls screaming his lungs out Yeldarb was finally confronted by his new master Lucien.
"Shut up Yeldarb, right now'" shouted Lucien as he reappeared from his meeting with Braecen. " I can not say that I am impressed with how you handled the task I had assigned you, but neverless it was very effective. It did not have the smarts of a Krath, or the cunning of a Sith, but it was in nature of your order to charge head first kicking and screaming to cause that Diversion.
Yeldarb responded, "Hey I am not know for my smarts, but you asked for a job done and I did it. So what do we do now master."
"We wait for any more word that we can get from the top on our next step," Lucien stted, " But me and you we will go train. You are still young in the force and I have much that I must teach you in a short amount of time. So please pay close attention."
"Yes Master." responded Yeldarb.
And off the two walked to find a quiet place aboard the ship where the protector could concentrate on the lessons he was to learn.
There was an air of complete anger and frustration around Cuchulain. He looked off through a view-port from the cantina at the Shroud they were hiding in. Hiding. Hiding wasn't natural to him though everyone else seemed to be happy to hole up here and work on the ship. Life had returned to exercise-mode as if most people were ignoring the fact that an alien race had just kicked the Dark Jedi Brotherhood's ass. And not only had he been ignored when Braecen requested advisors to go through his withdrawal plans with, (Withdrawal plans!!) he'd been put in charge of the two idiots who had been messing about with the lighting and gravitational systems. No plans were being put together to go and see what could be done to help on Judecca, the planet that Cuchulain had guided the Clan to when the split from the Emperor's Hammer had occurred. All that people were doing was making repairs to the ship. Not concentrating on the area that would make the ship battle-worthy, or bring it back up as soon as possible to attack the enemy again, but it was getting a complete over-haul.
Being Rollmaster he knew exactly who these two were and who their Master was but refused to speak to them by name. There were referred to as Muppet and Mong. Muppet and Mong were currently cleaning the chewing gum from the bottles of the tables in the cantina using their toothbrushes. Shortly they would be cleaning the stormtroopers latrines. With their toothbrushes. Cooch looked up as Master Natth a'Niel walked towards them.
Cooch had known Natth a'Niel for many years, but that didn't particularly mean they were friends. His friends in CSP were becoming few and far between, and he treated pretty much everyone with the same disdain. "Hey Natth." The words were meant to get a reaction, the blatant disregard for his rank and position in front of junior members of the House was sure to annoy the Aedile.
"Rollmaster Cuchulain. You are relinquished of your duties here. I shall take care of these two. You may return to your rosters." The scorn in the voice and accentuation of the work relayed the Aedile's recognition of Cooch's frustration. Cooch his hid own reactions well.
"As you wish, Natth. Bar-keep! Bottle of Alderanian Ale, and don't give me any of that crap that you've run out." He strode off and picked up the bottom, moving towards a dark corner of the cantina to sit on his own and think of how he was to make a difference in this empty Clan. The whole DJB were hiding from an almost unknown enemy, having been given a severe bloody nose. The Clan leadership ignored their home-world and sat here in the cloud slowly licking its wounds waiting for something to drag them into action.
Each member of the Dragon’s Seraphim was interrupted by a recording on their comlink. “Get the hell back here.” The voice was familiar and had a deep stalker-like quality to it.
The Epis had stayed at the command bridge, too pained to continue looking at the list of fatalities and personnel stamped as “Missing In Action.” RevengeX sighed as the members of his guard ran up to him, eager to serve and fight.
“Consul Kunar has communicated with the other Clans’ leaders, but nothing helpful was discerned.” A ripple of confusion snagged at the Quaestor’s mind. “We know that similar attacks were made on the other Clans and, cumulatively, over eight thousand were killed in action.”
The number forced a gasp from some of their lips. Revenge decided not to mention the number missing in action.
“Impetus,” the Krath turned to address the yellow-skinned Twi’lek, “I need you to call up all Acclivis Draco members. I have something I need to address.” The grave tone of his voice told the Archpriestess to sprint away hurriedly back to the hangar.
“Quaestor Palpatine, why did the Vong attack the Brotherhood?” It was the newest Knight of Scholae Palatinae, Syphoc Rilkel.
“I have no frackin’ clue.” It was the truth, plain and uncensored.
The members of the Seraphim continued to stand around and fidget uncomfortably.
“What are you doing standing here? Shouldn’t you be finding someway to help?” Exaggerating hand motions, Revenge shooed them away. “Dismissed.”
After being blown off by their Quaestor, the Souls of Darkness, except for Tyno, who wasn't there, made their way to the hangar. On the way the elite battleteam talked amongst themselves about what had happened.
They were interrupted by the sound of a pipe bursting. They all as one ran into the engineering room where they heard the noise. Looking around they found tools that would help them to weld the pipe back together. The pipe had been broken into three pieces and smoke was pouring out.
"I wonder what this pipe connects," the newest Proselyte, Yzarc said to the others.
"That's a good question," said the Sith Warrior Cethgus, the leader of the group, who pulled his comlink out and tossed it to the Jedi Hunter.
Calling into engineering, Yzarc asked, "There's a burst pipe in sublevel 3-B2, we're trying to close it up, where does it lead?"
The reply was that of an engineer, replied "Uh, looking into it, I've got no idea. Commander, do you know what the pipe in sublevel 3-B2 leads to?"
The commander replied, "Some of the turrets, I believe. Why?"
Yzarc clicked the comlink off, "This is turret power, we've got to do this."
"Right," Cethgus said, "Let's get to work".
The battleteam worked to seal the pipe back together. Cethgus stood by and directed. Yzarc and Malaki did the welding. While they were welding, they continued to talk about the rumors and ideas about what attacked them. When it was finished they continued on their way back to the hanger.
(For the judges: posting this for Impetus, who currently cannot access the MB. Muz said we can do that)
Impetus was slightly confused that her Quaestor dismissed her so abruptly, and leave her husband behind, but not completely surprised. She slowed down while out of his sight to take in what was happening. The situation at hand had struck fear into even the bravest of Clan Scholae Palatinae, and a lot of people had started to act irrationally. It seemed to her that this plague had reached RevengeX too, but it was not her job to contemplate as to why people were acting strangely, but to go to the hangar and bring the Acclivis Draco members together.
As with the end of most large meetings, the majority of the participants stayed around to discuss things further. A murmur of talk had broken out across the entire room by the time Impetus entered. “Members of Acclivis Draco!” Impetus shouted above them. Nothing. “Listen to me!” She roared louder still, her voice amplified by the Force. The majority of the talk died down. The twi’lek drew her whip and lashed it off the floor between two bickering journeymen. This seemed to speak louder than her roar, as almost all the attention was solely on her.
“All Acclivis Draco members, wait here until RevengeX arrives to address you!” Wanting at first to direct them to the nearest conference chamber, she changed the plan a little, noticing there were too many of them to fit inside the small room. There was another buzz of mixed voices as she said into a comlink to the Quaestor. “Change of plan, meet the house in the hangar, it’ll be easier this way.”
Makurth grumbled something about Correllians and Rancors, as he did an about face and stomped back to the hangar, the red rank paint on his shoulders arms, and chest faintly glowing in the dim lights. Even the gravity felt funny, but the Mandalorian chalked that up to the ship’s systems having been recently screwed around with.
"Raid, go on ahead and take your escort where you need to go. I'll be with the ground troops in the hanger." The Sith spat into his comm as he fingered his lightsaber.
He yanked his helmet back off and glared up at the improvised stage that had been set up out of used crates, wondering what was up now.
Needless to say, things were proving very exciting, even for the non-pilots. Even Makurth was beginning to have a little fun, however tiny.
Scuffing one armored boot against the deck, Mandalore snapped his head up to stare at a much younger Dark Brotherhood member who had accidentally tripped over his robes and careened into his armored form.
"Hey freshie, watch where you're going!" Mandalore snarled as he righted himself. He brushed off his armor where the Novice had scuffed it and turned to glare again at the stage. Whatever the reason was, Makurth hoped that it was good enough to make him miss a rare flight with his Patriarch.
RevengeX deactivated his comlink and sighed after hearing Impetus’ suggestion. He was feeling very lazy today and did not feel like walking to the hangar. Nevertheless, he willed his legs to carry him slowly through the halls.
Arriving at the hangar, RevengeX called over the remaining Acclivis Draco members with a wave. Those who did not immediately join him were pulled over with the Force. The Epis noted that not all of the members were there, especially prominent ones like Adept Unteminar and Epis Timbal. The members of the Dragon Seraphim were there.
He cleared his throat to catch everyone’s attention.
“Members of House Acclivis Draco,” he began. “I have a few things to talk to you about.”
There was a ripple of discomfort and suspicion.
“I’m sure that some of you already know this, but, similar attacks were made on the other Clans of the Brotherhood. The attackers are immensely powerful.”
The Quaestor scratched his head uncertainly. “I suppose I wanted to tell you all that some of us may not survive this conflict. Already a huge number are missing or dead.”
Someone whispered to his neighbors. Another fidgeted. One rocked back and forth on his legs.
“I am fairly certain that none of us have engaged in one-on-one ground combat with a member of this faction, so I cannot tell you what that would be like. But, I do know that their starfighters just destroyed a bunch of ships in a few minutes. I can guarantee that we will be engaging in combat with them - I can feel it in the Force, so don’t even try to hide in a corner and avoid the conflict.
If you have any more information about these attackers, talk to Aedile Natth a’Niel. If you caught a glimpse of these people or anything, contact him.”
An awkward silence settled over the members of the House of the Rising Dragon.
“Why are you standing here?” RevengeX roared. “There are still leftover drinks!”
Fionn dan LocutHal
The air quiet in the hangarbay of the VSD Excidium, it slowly rolled it-self through the dense nebula called the Shroud of Antei. Inside the main hangarbay, Jedi Hunter Fionn dan Locut'Hal, Envoy for House Caliburnus, was busy keeping the Caliburni Journeymen in check. Most of the older Journeymen had been called away, to perform chores on the Victory Class Star Destroyer. Some cleaning up the rubble from the attack, while others were helping in every way they could by aiding the engineers on simple repairs around the ship.
Though still, a fair few younger Apprentices, Novices and Acolytes were kept seperately, some far too young, some too panicked to be of effective use, all were kept in the main Hangar, under the guidance of the Rollmaster, kept mixed with the younger Acclivis Draco Journeymen, as their Envoy, Cuchulain Darkblade Palpatine, had to leave on some urgent business
We're never going to make it out of here alive! We're doomed! said one of the younger, an Acolyte
You know thats not true! Don't say that! We're gonna get out of here alive! said a Novice, a little younger then the Acolyte, desperately trying to rebuke the words of his older companion. We're gonna get out of here alive, aren't we Master Envoy?! he frantically asked the Rollmaster.
Sure we are kid, we're in the Shroud now, nothing can happen to us. The enemy is far away, and they can't hurt us anymore. said Fionn in his most re-assuring tones, although hints of nervousness were clear in his rasped voice.
Don't lie to us! They're out there! They're waiting for us, and when they find us, they're gonna kill us all! cried the destitute Acolyte, his morale dropped down to Zero. First time on a Starship, and now this happens! he continued, sobbing heavily as tears billowed down his ashengrey cheeks.
This was overheard by a passing Guardian, the Draconian Guardian sped towards the group, settled in a quiet corner of the Hangar, anger violently clear on his face. With booming steps full of anger he burst into the little commune, grabbing the younger Acolyte by his robes, threateningly shaking his fist at the desperate boy.
Don't you start as well! I've had about all I can take of this crap! First the attack and now you little snots, didn't you hear the Consul?! Go and do something instead of just standing around here and sobbing! The Guardian screamed at the dimunitive young Acolyte as the strong arm of the Rollmaster pulled him away.
You stay in that corner, keep quiet and shut up! Fionn barked at the group, holding the Guardian in a restraining lock as he took him to the Quartermaster. Find this young runt something to do, and do it quickly! the nervous and angry voice shouted at the Quartermaster of the Hangarbay. Preferably sending him somewhere up deck so he can't do anymore harm then he already does.
As the towering Sith walked back towards the group, he was suddenly apprehended by one of the ship's engineering crew, who came up to him literally gasping for breath as he tried to relay the message he was given.
*pant*... They're... asking... for you in engineering *pant* a Fight broke out between 2 of your Journeymen and an Engineer. *gasps* the exhausted crewmember told Fionn, trying to catch his breath.
Without a split second of thought, he told the Corporal to go to the Journeymen, to keep them company and keep them occupied.
What should I do?!? Im an engineer, not a baby-sitter! objected the much smaller Enlisted man.
Just keep them busy, tell em some fascinating stories about your career,.. if you have any at all that is. snapped the nervous Hunter back at the Corporal.
Stories of my career.. oh dear... the Engineer mumbled, whilst strolling nervously towards the huddled group of young ones.
Arriving in the Engineering room, it didn't take Fionn long to discern where the fighting had broke out, shouting was literally all over the place, and a group had gathered around the actual fighting scene. Leaving no time to waste, the enormous Sith pushed himself into the surrounding group of people, automatically driving the crew-men back, as they were told not to meddle, or pay any disrespect towards any House or Clan Summit members, lest suffering severe punishments.
What in the name of Hell is going on here?!?! the towering Roll-master shouted, loud enough to immediately startle the two fighting parties. You two are supposed to help fix this ship! Not start fights with the resident engineering crews! What have you got to say for yourselves?! Fionn baked to the two Protectors assigned to the Engineering station.
Save it! I don't want to hear it! You two report immediately to the Aedile's Office! What are you two still doing here, you could have been there already! March! he commanded the mischievous Protectors.
Turning his face about, he walked over to the chief engineer.
I offer my apologies for these brash youths under my command, they will be severely disciplined for this breach of regulations the ancient Jedi Hunter said, bowing slightly to the elderly, but respected man.
After having made due with the situation, and assured himself it was only a brash act of the moment, he made his way back to the group of Journeymen in the main hangar bay.
Phoenix grinned at the Corellian.
"This is where I take my leave.....I have some, um, unfinished business to attend to." Braecen eyed the firrerreon as he followed shortly after his apprentice, then back at his secret stash of booze.
"That son of a......" The door shut quickly as Phoenix picked up the pace to get away from the office.
"Hasn't that fool learned never to reveal where his secret stash is when I'm around," thought the PCON as he pulled out one fine looking bottle of liquor.
"This should liven things up a bit. Now, where the hell did I leave that fine lil woman at." Muttered Phoenix to himself. He stared out into the void of the shroud, sensing the combination of fear and anger coming from the Arconans.
They are close, and so is our new friends. Taking a swig from the bottle, Phoenix gave no more thought to the sadistic beings chasing after the Brotherhood. The idea of not being able to sense the enemy made the PCON sit uneasily, and he needed his wits for what he was planning to do.
"This destructive behavior will never bring Temptress back, nor quell the pain of her murder," said the voice in Phoenix's head.
"Shut up, no one is talking to you!" snapped Phoenix, scaring a group of journeymen.
"Was he talking to...." stammered the one ACO.
"Quiet. That's Phoenix, he is insane. So lets get out of here before he kills us." replied the PRT.
"You see, reckless..."
"Didn't I just tell you to shut up. I don't care what you think. You are just some worthless voice in my head. Now if you don't mind, I am going to find a young journeymen to corrupt and if I hear even a peep out of you, I'm taken a plasma cutter to my head,"
"You created me you prat. If not for Kaycida's betrayal..."
"Enough!" yelled Phoenix. A couple of journeymen were thrown and a handful of wall covers crushed under the power of the force emanating from the Sith Warlord.
"Her name is Selena you jackass," snapped the voice as it faded into the darkness of the Sith's mind.
"Ah, Selena, time for you to know the true meaning of the darkside. MWHAHAHAHA!!" Phoenix walked over to the comm. panel and began to search for the young girls quarters.
"Ugh...there must be an easi..... Wait a minute, I'm the bloody PCON," Phoenix open a channel to the ship. "PRT Selena please report to the PCON's office." The firrerreon grinned evilly.
The door to the ProConsul's office open very slowly. The lights were dimmed and the smell of incense was intoxicating.
"You wanted to see me My Lord," said the PRT curtly.
"No need to call me My Lord. Sit, drink, relax," replied Phoenix.
Tyno had only bothered to stay for about half of the consuls meeting. The point had been obvious from a few minutes into the start that neither the consul nor anyone else in the clan had any real Intel on the new enemy they now faced. As he walked down the halls of the Excidium toward his destination he could see the fear and despair in crew and dark jedi aboard. In most it was veiled behind their work or a cheerful face while in others painfully obvious by the looks they carried or the posture they had. The warrior opened the door and walked onto the observation deck. He was not surprised to find the clans Neti member there as well.
“There is a shadow on the force Tyno” Ood said in a detached manner.
“I have felt it as well, that this happens at the same time as an invasion cannot be a coincidence” Tyno replied calmly.
The Neti didn’t respond but Tyno knew he was thinking the same thing. Tyno did not fear this new enemy but found them more as a curiosity. Perhaps they have some technology that negates or shields them from the force? He found the alternative even more intriguing since it went against all that he had known. Could they not be a part of the force? The warrior’s thoughts droned over this uninterrupted until he sensed someone standing outside the doors to the deck. Tyno was not familiar with whoever it was but this person was rank with fear and doubt. Neither turned to face Voldemort as he entered the observation deck.
They met in a quiet room on the Excidium, each bringing questions that none had answers to yet. They banded together, a group of friends, of colleagues, several hundred light-years from their adopted homeworld.
The members of the Dragon Seraphim settled around the table in the conference room. The seven members fit at the table with room to spare; Impetus Korin’s husband, Ararin Korin stood at the viewport, staring out at the nebulae of the Shroud.
Impetus started the informal gathering, “Well, RevengeX was very clear when he said that we should be doing something to help. The best that we could do is attempt to pool our not-inconsiderable resources and attempt to discover what is happening.”
“Well,” responded the newest member of the growing Order of the Dragon, Syphoc Rilkel, “I believe Lucien has some information that he gave to Braecen. Due to the Shroud however, we cannot access the HoloNet so we cannot find out what is happening.”
Adam Anderson, the Fang of Wisdom, said, “Indeed. However, that does not mean that we cannot attempt to reach an understanding of what is going on.”
Silence engulfed the room as they each pondered a method to do that. Inexorably, each came up with their own way of gathering the necessary information, ranging from ideas such as going to help Master Natth a’Niel analyze the recordings of the battle or to survey the damage caused in an attempt to strengthen the old Victory-Class Star Destroyer.
The meeting lasted only as long as the suggestions on what to do were all bounced around. Then Impetus recommended that they break up so that they could all gather intelligence and bring it all together later to get a clearer picture.
Syphoc Rilkel joined Ararin Korin at the viewport, gazing into the depths of the Shroud. Who are you?, he questioned the darkness, before turned and striding out the door of the conference room.
Makurth had made his way into cantina and settled into a quiet table, brooding and spoiling for a fight. His fingers drummed against the hard table top, pounding out a relentless rhythm that most would have recognized as the old Empire’s anthem.
Nearly two dozen empty bottles of extremely strong alcohol of various tastes, and several hundred shot-glasses were scattered all over the table and surrounding area like some type of bizarre blizzard. A broken bar-droid laid nearby, testament to the Mandalorian’s violent temper, made worse by the fact that he had consumed enough liquor to kill several Rancors. His helmet lay on its side in the middle of the mess, boasting its own collection of shot-glasses balanced precariously on its dome. Next to it laid his lightsaber and heavily used Dainslaif, both nearly buried underneath the “snow”.
Yellow-red eyes glared at each and every being that passed by him, regardless of rank or relation to him. At this point in his drunkenness he would have assaulted his own father without a second’s hesitation.
Though the Mandalore had himself contained in his own little world, a loud-mouthed Jedi Hunter continued to jar him from a light doze with sharp jests about the long-haired Dark Jedi Knight that hid behind a dying cult’s armor. Makurth endured the provoking for several long minutes before he silently rose to his feet and pulled his lightsaber out from under its covering of shot-glasses, ignited its crimson blade, and turned to face the other Dark Jedi. Both were equally drunk, so neither of them had very good control over their balance.
Makurth broke the tense silence first with his loud retort. “At least I don’t disturb other patrons when they’re drinking. Especially if they’re just coming off the adrenaline high of a very stressful situation.”
The man responded with a rude gesture and that was all the provoking the Mandalorian needed to come flying across the table and bring his lightsaber across to sear the man’s head from his shoulders. The dead man’s two compatriots tried to leap in and finish the drunken Makurth off at the same time, but they both wound up as smoking corpses on the floor.
After that, the entire bar broke out into a ferocious fight between the dead Journeyman’s friends and the armored Mandalorian, who was maiming the majority of the new, very raw members of the Brotherhood.
When the ship’s security force arrived to quell the brawling, Makurth was more than willing to take them on, saber slashing through the air at the leader’s head.
Someone tried to comm Braecen before Makurth got to them, but the man was only half-way through the message before the Mandalorian separated his head from the rest of his body. The angry and drunken Dark Jedi provided a hideous background noise of a blood-curdling battle cry and he engaged the remaining security force arranged against him.
With a trembling hand, Thran sat down in the small galley. He had just put a kettle on, so it would be only a moment before the tea was ready. He reached into his cloak, retrieving a cornucopia of small glass vials. In each, there was a ruthless combination of psychoactives. Three were set aside and the others were returned. One substance looked as if it was an accoutrement to a fine Krath feast, as it was a spice in a deep healthy violet. The others were a vomit inducing shade of orange, obviously from the Mines of Kessel. The seizing Sith cracked the later pair, pouring the contents on the small galley table. With a slow drag of his nose across the surface and a deep chesty inhale, the powder disappeared.
The pleasant green irises of the Quaestor rolled into his skull, painting the ecstasy within a big huff of spice. Blood flowed to his head and when the pressure felt too much, the kettle began to whistle. He caught his breath, gasping as if he had suddenly awaken, and removed the percolating pot from the hot range.
“Tea is up. You take sugar?” he called from the kitchen.
“No thank you, darling. I am sweet enough.” She replied, already showing hints of recovery
He smiled to himself, yet clutched the other vial tightly in his hand. Taking the kettle, he poured the woman a cup of tea. The piping hot liquid poured over the rim and scalded the day-dreaming Bakuran, though the spice had already removed the conception of pain from his mind. Shaking it off like a wet Wookiee, he served the cup.
The instant he placed the cup on the table, her eyes found their way to meet his.
Rasilvenaira looked sad, as if she was disappointed in him. She was keen, so she was expecting something. Without noting his clenched fist, she asked “What have you got there? Something else to help erase your traumatic life experiences?”
He stood up, shocked. She had never spoken to him like that before, ever.
“Actually, it is for you...I was going to put in in your tea, but you are smarter than that. Take it, if you want. If you want to sleep, that is.” Thran said, straighting himself out.
“You said you were going to stop with the spice...” she noted in an abnormal manner of nitpicking.
“You need to rest and we both know you won't unless you take this...” He said, calm, detached. Just then, he turned. She said nothing, he said nothing.
“Thran...Sit.” Rasilvenaira said, attempting to command him with the aid of the Force.
The attempt stopped there, like a gnat bouncing off the hide of an Acklay. Thran looked back over his shoulder, addressing her as he made for the door.
“I will be back soon to check on you. I just need to see the Consul. Stay here, relax.” he said,getting to the point.
Thran stood beside his long time mentor, who wore a face like a father who had lost his only son. The tension was thick, but something unseen kept both men from jumping.
The Emperor turned to his underling and spoke “Quaestor, the Clan is in a panic.”
Braecen looked as if he was going to say more, but this moment called for well chosen wording. Like every time before, Thran spoke when it was not his time.
“No, my bygone blocker, you are in a panic.” The sandy haired gentleman said.
Braecen rose his hand to strike, but couldn't muster the reason to do so. After all, there was a shade of truth to what he said.
“I ought to wipe you from the face of the Force, but your moronic luck seems to have found you safe passage once again.” Braecen said, turning back to broad observation window
“Oh, get over yourself. If it wasn't for me, you wouldn't be here.” Thran snipped, bringing up several sore memories.
“And the same applies to you, Master Occasus.” Braecen hissed with an overwhelming sarcastic tone.
“Look, B...” Thran said
No one had called him that for a long time, not since he was made Emperor. The monosyllabic title brought him down for a moment.
“I don't care if you want to lock me up. I am reckless, dangerous, and entirely unpredictable. But...” Thran said, pausing dramatically.
Braecen had returned the same conversational courtesy, cutting in to finish the statement. “But that is what you do best.”
“I am telling you, Braecen, address the ship. Assume official control of this vessel. If we can avoid our attackers, we will still be destroyed. However, it will be from within.” Thran said, flaunting his gift of foresight like a newlywed with a diamond ring.
Braecen paused for a moment, looking out over the ghastly nebulae and anomalies of the Shroud. With a pensive 'hmm', he turned to the Battlemaster.
“Thran, do you know where the Proconsul is?” the cloaked Pontifex inquired.
“Not where he ought to be...” Thran replied, smugly noting where he was located.
“Good answer. Go, check on your Aedile, my Sithly friend. Be back here in exactly one hour...I have a favor to ask of you...” the Scholae Consul said, clearly dismissing the miscreant Quaestor of all would-be charges against him.
Thran's eyes lit up, like a child with candy. “Do I get to?” he asked, leaving his question with open implication.
The Consul turned back with one final command, “Prep the pilots, too. I don't know much about that...So, do what ever it is that you people do...”
Nearing the door, Thran called out to the Consul, “You people? You people! What the hell do you mean by 'you people'?!”
Though the offense taken was only in jest, the magnetic sealing of the bulkhead doors was perfectly timed, ending the conversation there. Thran raised his communicator, “Brent. Archangel. Umm...right...Thran here. Get all pilots into simulators, Per my orders. Raise General Uoya, Colonel Jururi, Capitan Dressadin, Lieutenant Colonel Cesti, and General Granger. Get those who are on board to a meeting room, now. Find Malaki. Find Cethgus. Find yourself, then bring the three of you to me. Understood?”
A fuzzy response came back. “I had to write it down...But you got it, Boss.”
Koskian grumbled, punching in random numbers on the keypad outside the Pro-Consul's office. He could sense his cousin inside, and was sure he wasn't alone. That really didn't matter to him, privacy between family was almost nonexistent. Muttering to himself, he punched in the number sequence corresponding with one of Phoenix's favorite curse words, and was rewarded with a green light and the door opening to the darkened office.
Stepping in, Kosk looked around, peering into the darkness, before finally reaching over and hitting the button to turn the lights on.
"What..! Who? I swear I will...uhh, what Kosk?" came from behind the Pro Consul's desk, Phoenix peering out from behind it, obviously shirtless.
"Your kidding me. Arcona is at our backs, with some unknown enemy behind us, and your...your...," Koskian began, trailing off into a sigh. Kids today, he thought.
"I'm kinda busy here, what do you want?"
"Uhh, I'm...I'm...so uncomfortable right now, I can't even remember. Are you...are you alone?"
"My Lord, should I go?" came a small voice behind the desk. Koskian lifted his eyebrows in question, a smile forming on his face. Phoenix had a look of murder in his eyes as he glared at his cousin.
"No, Koskian is leaving...right?"
"Sure...but find me later."
"I didn't mean you, cousin."
Koskian closed the door behind him and chuckled, heading towards the cantina.
After a long days training spent going over the very basics of combat with his newly appointed master, Yeldarb has decided to take a small break and head back to his room. Along the long walk back he had heard from one of the pilots that they were being sent into the simulator to go test their skills to see how they might fare against this new enemy.
Puzzled Yeldarb asked, "How can you test your skills against them if we know nothing about them."
The pilot responded, "simple we have good intelligence they already set up the simulator to use some of their tactics we were able to record in the attack, and just to spice things up I hear BattleMaster Thran Occasus is looking for a few pilots to actually flight against us so add a more human interaction with our foe."
With that Yeldarb figured he would go hunt Thran down and ask to assist, Since he had an amazing history as a pilot and figured it would be relaxing and a good way to practice staying calm during combat. One of the key points Lucien was trying to teach him.
As soon as Yeldarb made it back to his room he dropped his gear into his locker and headed out to the simulator. upon arriving he saw the pilots getting suited up and climbing inside, and over to his right by the controll station he Saw Thran talking to the controll operator giving him detail instructions on the scenario and little hints on how to stir up the pilots a little bit more when they flew.
As soon as Thran was finished yeldarb approached him and asked, "Battlemaster Thran I wish to assist you in the simulators, would you please allow me to fly with you.
the BattleMasters response was, "You must be Protector Yeldarb Vohokou. Yes! I have heard alot about you and I have personally read over your file a few times. I see you have a few years history as a Fighter Pilot for the Inquisition. I must say your record has impressed me. Please do join me today we will be flying the Tie Interceptor against the pilots who will be in a mix if Imperial fighters.
The Protectors smirked and stated," I appreciate this , it is all my pleasure."
Than humbly bowed, and before embarking off to the simulator pods, responded back, "I hope you are as good as your paperwork says, I will be Gamma 1, and you will be Gamma 2, I have never had a wingman make it out of a simulation alive."
Captain Junli Zero was the always seeking approval from his troops. His often insecure command was only made up for unequal skill with any given weapon on the battlefield. Zero had been in 19 duals with unruly Legionnaires, and never lost one with even a scratch. It was completely in his act to doubt any Jedi assigned to run his unit. How could he be the most popular officer of the Legions of Scholae if he wasn't in charge?
It was with a big grin he watched the Knight walk into the barracks firing lanes. He stumbled over his words as laughter came out with the sentence. "The mighty Cerean returns!" A few of the senior soldiers joined in the joust.
"How long are you staying this time... 3 hours?"
"I'll bet you 10 credits he lasts a whole day this time."
Prajna kept his face impartial, instead picking up a blaster rifle. "Zero, a shoot-off?" There were 5 targets at the other end of the room. Zero took the offered rifle and calmly took aim. The others paused the laughing to watch their leader. He pierced three bolts in the precise center of the middle target.
"Good, now my turn." PJ Berkana took the same rifle and stepped up to the plate. He pointed the still warm rifle in the general direction of the left-most target. His eyes closed and he smiled. Five beams of laser left the barrel. Prajna swept the gun most carefully as he unloaded the rounds. As he completed, he spun around and the officers jumped back a bit. Two lost control of their jaws.
Zero began a slow clap. "If you are here a day or three years, I will die if you so command." Rumors already began to spread through the ranks of the Legions.
"We have work to plan." Prajna's voice was even and his face blank. "I want you in the briefing room with a full report of battle scenarios in 0030 minutes."
As Prajna Berkana did a perfect turn-about face, Zero spoke firm. "Officer on deck." The boots of everyone in the room clicked in perfect form and PJ could see in his peripherals that the troops were saluting.
Voldemort returned the greeting from Tyno, but kept away from the two of them. He had come here to ponder the meaning of the new enemy and it's effects, or lack thereoff, on the Force. The young man's believes had been shaken completely and he was not sure how to rebuild his picture of the universe. If he even could. Walking towards the window, Voldemort proceeded to stare outside, lost in thoughts.
Ood, knowing who the Obelisk was, followed Voldemort with his eyes. "This one is as disturbed as most others are. I would have thought..." The Neti trailed off. He had been about to mention Voldemort's past and how it should have made him more steadfast, but he realized the circumstances were unique.
"Well, I would have thought we would enver encounter something like today," Tyno said. "Maybe... what's that?"
A small distance away, a ship was moving uncontrolled through the shroud. Both of them thought it looked vaguely familiar but it was hard to say with the outside conditions.
"Someone has trouble there," Voldemort said, not aware he had spoken aloud.
"I call that stating the obvious." With a satisfied expression, Tyno watched the ship move out of sight again. "It's none of ours. I'm sure."
Ood agreed, but he did not bother to say so. An idea had come to him when the ship spun out of sight. "Maybe it is time we need to make some sacrifices. I need to see the Consul immediately." With that, the Neti left the observation deck.
As the neti sped of the observation deck he nearly ran over Master Natth a’Niel. After mumbling an apology and something about a ship in trouble and speaking to the Consul, the Aedile took his shoulders and told him he would look into it, told him that Ood’s skills were needed elsewhere. As Ood watched the Master walk away, he couldn’t stop feeling weird about it. Master Natth a’Niel had instantly taken control, given him something to do and taken his idea away within seconds. “Well, better not go against the old elder.”, Ood thought as he raced down towards the stern of the ship.
Ood sat quietly in one of the many smaller briefing rooms aboard the Excidium. Whilst his eyes slithered their way through thousands of terabytes of data, his mind locked upon the consciousness of the two Guardians outside the door. Posted their by Master Natth a’Niel to ensure the Neti wasn’t disturbed while doing his work, the knight couldn’t help but notice they were there to keep him inside working as well. No matter what happened, the Aedile wanted more information and Ood was unlucky enough to have proven an aptitude with large amounts of data during his initial training in the academy.
Each page the neti finished, five more poured in. Every clan ship that was still out there sent shuttles with sensory readings and recordings over to the Excidium for further study. All this intelligence was uploaded directly in the general mainframe and poured on the seven screens infront of the former Rollmaster.
Undoubtedly the Master was right though. Somewhere in here, in this informational black hole, there must be another weakness hidden. Some feat the Excidium didn’t spot during the initial attack. All information relevant to the task at hand was printed as well as stored in a vacant holo-book. The mountain of paper on the other ‘free’ desk in the room was piling up with every new addition, the very table bending ever so slightly at the weight of that which was stored ontop. The big screen that filled the entire far side of the room displayed the initial attack in an unending loop. Through the big windows to his right, the neti could see the hangar bay and it’s liveliness of technicians and pilots as well as droids, apprentices and Officers coordinating the complete chaos. It looked similar to an ant-colony, everywhere activity. Ood wouldn’t want to be down there for the world, he never liked big crowds since they blocked his movement and flying had never been a pleasure, there didn’t seem to be even one shipwright that made starships fit to carry a neti pilot. What had happened to his own ship? The Explorer had sat on Antenora’s shipdocks for maintenance during the ceremony. It was probably destroyed by now, lost to the vong hordes that were rumoured to have invaded Cocytus. Too bad, he liked that yacht, it had been his companion for decades now.
Regaining his train of thought, the neti focussed on the task at hand again and continued to browse through the data. From the hangar bay beneath, only a lit window and a shadow of the tree were visable.
Impetus and Ararin Korin stayed in the conference room after the meeting with Dragon Seraphim, trying to make sense of the situation, but were getting no-where. Questioned still remained such as ‘why were we attacked?’, ‘who is it that’s attacking us?’, and ‘how do we respond?’. After about 10 minutes discussing them, these matters faded from conversations, and they moved on to more meaningless conversations, such as whether they should adopt a child together.
“We should really be making ourselves busy somewhere.” Impetus said serenely after realising how long they had been standing there.
“What can we do? None of us are any good with technical stuff, we’d only get in the way and distract people.”
“So we just stay here and let things unfold? I can’t just sit around while other people work, I’m going to see what I can do, you’re more than welcome to stay here.”
“No no, I’m going.” Impetus smiled, knowing Ararin was afraid of being alone without her. “So where exactly are we going?”
“There’s bound to be something we could do in the medical facility.” She said pleasantly. Ararin replied in the affirmative, and they set off for the medical facility.
Meanwhile, panic was brewing elsewhere in the ship. Chaos reigned. “Intruder alert! Intruder in the medical facility!” The words echoed across every speaker on the Excidium.
There was a sudden rush of movement everywhere as weapons were drawn. Impetus drew her whip and ran at full tilt, Ararin following close behind her with two blaster pistols.
Lucien had just finished the first of many training sessions with his new Apprentice when he heard the klaxons and warnings go off above him.
INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER IN THE MEDICAL FACILITY! ALL FORCES IN THE VICINITY PLEASE RESPOND!
In a flash, the Templar forgot about the aches and pains that were bothering him from the training. His lightsaber was out and he was on the run. He was one floor down and two corridors over from the medical facility, and every ounce of his being was being funneled into getting there as soon as possible.
When he reached the hallway outside the sickbay, smoke was billowing out the door and Lucien could hear blaster fire resonating from inside. There was also another noise, something more guttural and sinister. It was when he heard this noise, that Lucien forced open the door and quickly surveyed the area.
Impetus and Ararin were hunkered down behind two medical capsules that contained what was left of two of the Excidium’s crewmen. The two had firmly ensconced themselves from the enemy and were trading long range weaponry. Just as Lucien was about to get a good look at one of the attackers, something flew past his head with a buzzing sound.
“What the…..” The Templar sputtered. He barely had time to form an opinion of what had happened when the object came back around for another try. This time, Lucien was ready. When the object came within range, Lucien sidestepped it and slashed out with his saber. The result was a squish that almost made Lucien lose his lunch. Bending down to survey what had transpired, Lucien looked upon the remains of what looked to be a bug.
“Just what the hell are these things!?! AND WHERE THE HELL IS OUR BACKUP!?!?" Lucien shouted into the smoke and blaster fire. Just then, there was a shout.
"Watch out!" The only thing Lucien heard was the crack of a whip and another squishing sound right near his left eye.
"Thanks Impetus. That was close."
The alarm warning shook through the ship, everyone was getting more nervous as it rang past their ears. The intruder alert woke everyone’s souls up, that is just when the real action began. Malaki was on his way to finding Cethgus, just when he heard screams of pain and terror coming down from the lower deck. He thought to himself he best go check it out. The elevator down to the level below was sealed off so he took the inner stair way down there. The deck was pitch black, everything seemed dead. Malaki stood under a flickering light, he heard movement and the saw this most ugly looking figure. Its teeth stuck out of its mouth all sharp and blood stained., he had claws that could most likely rip through any type of armour and it had a odd body colour an very abnormal brownish tone. Its body had already been attacked, fresh grazes into the creatures armour covered its torso. It looked like it had suffered a critical wound from several blaster shots, its eyes stood out against the darkness as they stared at the knight. The creature grinned, its bloodlust overcame its sense, it jumped up and began to approach Malaki
“Whoa !” Malaki shouted
The creature wasnt armed with any weapon, it must have lost it or its weapon were its teeth and claws. Malaki quickly drew his sabre, as the creature raised its claws to slash out at its new opposer. The knight struck back with his saber, slowly burying its blade deeply into the gut of the hiddeus creature. Its other hand reached around and sliced into Malaki's flesh of his arm. The knight groaned and then felt the creatures breath slowly stop. Malaki deactivated his sabre and the creatures corpse fell to the floor, it scrambled a bit, twitching then nothing. The knight looked around for any more of these creature, he saw nothing. A light beamed bright over this one door, showing its name off in the darkness. Medical Bay, however there was a deep claw mark along it and then a stain of blood.
There was a crackle inside the room, and then he heard a welcoming voice, Impetus’s. He opened the door only to have a blaster pistol shot just miss his face by mere inches.
“Holy [Expletive Deleted]!” Lucien shouted as he jumped out of his skin.
“Yer, nice welcome…What’s going on down here, I heard a scream.” Malaki
“Oh its you........Hmm only a few alien scrums hanging around, well I hope there is no more, You gave us quite a fright” Impetus stated, she looked behind the knights Head and saw another person coming to aid in this battle, a zabrak with his crimson saber glowing in the dark .
“Ah Cethgus nice of you to join us” Malaki whispered as the sith warrior walked over.
The decks lights flicked again but hardly lit up anything, then from the corner of the room Ararin pointed out to the darkness of the hall way. There were growls, snarls as a group, at least six creatures came charging down the corridor.
“Crap, defensive line Now!” Cethgus bellowed.
Then out of no where blaster fire rattled through the deck tearing apart these creatures, one by one their bodies scrambled to the floor. A marine squad, the back up had finally arrived. As the last creature fell to the floor rattled to bits by blaster fire the commander of the squad step down and said something into a com link
“Get the bloody emergency power up now! It helps if we can Bloody see down here!”
He slowly walked over into a flickering light, he wasn’t a normal Marine, he was a Dark Jedi Knight, it was Archangel.
“ Marines stay down here! Scan the area for any more of these bugs……That’s an Order!” He screamed and then approached the others.
“Nice to see the backup arrived” Lucien said.
“ Must be, how did you survive in there, these creatures their deadly…anyways Lucien Impetus and hmm Impetus friend you can stay here if you want Cethgus, Malaki You’ve been requested by Thran, come with me” Brent replied and turned around heading back for the stairs.
Malaki ran off to catch up, followed shortly by Cethgus. The three men walked through the ever lasting halls and corridors until they eventually reached Thran’s Office, as they entered they were greeted by their Aedile and Quaestor.
“ Thran, The pilots are rounded up down in the docking bay, ready to be prepped. As you ordered I’ve brought Malaki and Cethgus.” Archangel said politely
Their Queastor nodded and then spoke “ Thank you, Now that you have found them and yourself, gentlemen you may take a seat if you please, we have to get down to business.”
Tra'an was not in a good mood. He had been practicing his vibro-saber technique with the Marines when they had been mobilized, so he had tagged along. They had run into the medical bay to find several of the upper echelon Jedi already there. His Master was among them. He walked over to his Master, glad he practiced in his armor while in normal form. It would not save him from a Lightsaber, but it would from a vibro-blade or blaster shot. "Master", he called as he approached Lucien. Three of the other Jedi whom he did not know had left, leaving Impetus, Lucien, and a male handling two blaster pistols. His vibro-sabers were still drawn and active, sending a hum through the air.
He stopped next to his Master and deactivated the blades with the thumb switches, but kept them out in case they were attacked again. His attention shifted briefly to the remaining people. "Mistress Impetus, it is nice to see you again." He nodded politely at the stranger, before turning back to his Master. "Sir, I was training with the Marines when we were dispatched here. What should I do?" He had several power packs inside him for his sabers, as well as a com and a thermal detonator, as he never left his room without them. Too many smuggling runs had gone to hell because he did not have some basic necessities due to assumptions of ignorance, lessons he had learned well.
Lucien looked at his apprentice and stated, "My young Apprentice, what you should do now is to remain ready to fight. And you should stay close to me from now on." He smiled and nodded at the words of his Master. He assumed a position towards one of the openings while remaining next to his Master, ready for what was to come, for surely, it was not over.
"They must have waited in the damaged hangar section to see what we'd do!"
"Well, that's stating the obvious." Machweg moved around the corner and found one of the things neatly slashed by a lightsaber. This encouraged him, because the early reports had been that their enemy was in possession of some saber repelling armour.
"But how did they go undetected?" the man following him asked, slightly out of breath.
"That should be obvious as well, with all the damage in the ship - probably took out the respective sensors deliberately just to study us."
"Or maybe they were just locked in and..."
"Whatever," interrupted Niemand as they reached the heat of battle. "Here they are, and it looks like at least blasters do some damage."
"Uhm, but you don't have a blaster, Master," Niemand's student commented.
“I’ve noticed,“ the boy replied drily. “But you have, so I suggest you hop to it. I’ll get myself a weapon.“ Despite these words, Niemand’s blue blade flashed up with the comforting hissing sound. There was a weapons locker down here somewhere – he wished he had taken more time to study the Excidium‘s plans.
Before he found what he was looking for, one of the strange looking creatures stood in front of him with teeth bared. Niemand couldn’t help to notice the tatoos on it’s head and the twisted looking ears. “Wow you are sure ugly,“ he commented before he could stop himself.
The reply was some strange noise what could have been a language – or a burp. In any case it was the start of battle as the enemy rushed at him with a staff looking suprisingly like a snake.
The imposing creature rushed forward at Niemand, spinning its snake-like staff before he brought it down like a mace. Only the quick reflexes and slim body of a child saved him from the initial attack as he stumbled backwards, outside of the creature's reach.
The alien did not hesitate; immediately he pressed forward, preparing for another strike that would tear the boy's head off. This time though, his swing was intercepted; blocked in mid-air, between the creature itself and Niemand, by a red blade of a lightsaber.
“Really, kid” said Vail as he held the creature's attack “You are far too young to go to places like this”
Vail's face glittered with sweat; he smelled of alcohol to the point it had seemingly offended the creature. Yet, his eyes were focused on his opponent, with a weird, excited shine in them, that seemingly reflected the Adept's grin of excitement he wore into battle. Certainly, the Adept was in his element.
“Now, let us see what these crapheads do”
The creature's strength was prodigious; his speed, almost equal to that of the Adept. And Vail could not predict the alien's movements through Force. Yet, the son of Palpatine had the advantage of speed and had combat experience and ferocity that would put some of the galaxy's most fearsome warriors to trouble. He held his ground.
He did withdraw, of course, fell back a number of times in order to escape the weapon of his opponent and his inhuman strength; performed complex body maneuvers in order to put more momentum behind his strikes in order to block his opponent's staff; but he proved himself equal to the creature whose kind decimated the Brotherhood's fleet in a matter of minutes. Soon, if no one else came to his aid, Adept would begin to attack. He would turn the situation to his advantage.
The thought seemed to make both combatants excited. As alien's attacks became more furious, Vail's grin became a bit wider.
“Really, kid, you sure know how to provide me with entertainment”
The intruder alert came just when Voldemort had resolved to ask Tyno a question he had had in his mind since the attack. Immediately, his Obelisk training kicked in and he run towards where the com link info sent him. "I wonder who that is," he mumbled, but in the back of his mind he knew they would soon find out how those unknown enemies held up when they could not hide themselves behind their strange ships.
Tyno left the observation deck right behind him, then overtook the Obelisk with quick steps. Voldemort realized he had slowed down instinctively. It seemed, he thought, that he was not ready to face whoever that was, yet he would not back out. To run away was not the way of a Dark Jedi. But they had done just that, not too long ago...
Tyno jumped into a lift ahead of him and didn't bother to wait, so Voldemort had to take the next one. Grumbling to himself, he readied his blaster, saber and vibroblade. There had been no time for something to go boom, but if there would be a certain wookie around, it would not matter. Laurus usually provided for all things boom.
With a screeching noise, the lift came to a halt between two levels, and the light flickered for a moment. Voldemort blinked, ready to defend himself, until he noticed there had been a malfunction. He was stuck in a fierfecking lift!
"Has to me me," he shouted at the uncaring walls. "Of all the ground fighters on this ship, it has to be me getting stuck in a stupid elevator!" He wondered if Tyno shared his fate or if the Sith, at least, had made it to his destination.
Cuchulain wasn't impressed, but these days nothing much made him happy. An air of inactivity had embraced most of the Clan since they had gone into hiding in the Shroud. Not only did the fact that they were hiding grate on his very soul, but members of the Clan had been left to their own devices. The Consul was locked up in his office doing smeg knows what. The Pro-Consul had reverted to drugging young female members to have his wicked way with them - at least when Cuchulain had been part of the Clan Summit he had used the Force to coerce junior females into nakedness. RevengeX had ordered everyone to the bar, happy to leave all the planning and strategies to Natth a'Niel, and even Revvy's opposite number in Caliburnus had disappeared to pollute his blood with spice, and his mind with Aedile Rasilvenaira. In disgust Cuchulain had returned to his quarters, where not even watching those holo-vids of Impetus and Xathia together could raise his spirits. All that did was batter home the knowledge that his ex-lover Impetus was now married to some half-breed Twi'lek that Cooch couldn't stand, and even Xathia was off limits due to her relationship with his own opposite number, the Rollmaster of Caliburnus. To return to the good old days...
When the alarms had gone off to warn everyone on the ship if an intruder he hadn't gone to help. More than enough CSP'ers would be on the scene to take care of the problem. When he bothered to leave his small quarters on the ship he went back to the bar to find most of HAD still there, ignoring the fighting going on a few decks away. He shook his head at the paralytic Quaestor goosing the girls along with Timbal curled up with a bottle of Chiss brandy. Most of the Journeymen who had Masters had all gone off to help wherever they could, but many were left here, happily consuming so much alcohol that the bar-tender wanted the seige to end now, not because of the fear of the enemy but because of the fear of the Dark Jedi once the booze ran out. Cuchulain gladly noted that most of the Mandalorians were not here, still off on their errand from the Consul. At least one group was taking this all seriously. Perhaps he should go and un-opack his old helmet, dust off the visor and see if they would take him in.
Cuchulain lifted a random Novice with the Force and slammed him into the wall next to a view-port looking out onto the battered fleet of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. All conversation stopped as all eyes, mostly blurred by drunkeness, turned to the Dark Senator.
"I am glad to see that war preparations are going so well." His voice boomed through the room and he glared at RevengeX and Timbal, their growing looks of hazy anger burning into him. He directed the remainder of his tirade towards the crowd in general. "In case it had escaped your noticed, the ship is still under attack, with at least one intruder in the Medical Facility. That does not mean there are not more. You!" Cuchulain pointed directly at a Jedi Hunter, who leapt backwards as the ex-Consul barked at him. "Where is the squad of soldiers that you should have under your command?!"
"Squad of soldiers, Master? I haven't been assigned one." The quivering Dark Jedi knew as soon as the words had left his mouth that he should have acted more strongly and answered with more resolution. No matter what, he knew the answer was it was going to be wrong no matter what he said.
"Master ?! Do I look like a Dark Jedi Master to you? I work for a smegging living!" If Cuchulain had longer hair it would have been standing on end, the dark energy coursing through him acting like a beacon of the Dark Side. "The fact you haven't been assigned a squad highlights the fact that you haven't fulfilled your duties in going and getting a squad yourself." The KPN raised his arm out, his hand tightly balled. The Jedi Hunter suddenly found that he couldn't move his body, and attempted to scream as it lifted into the air. It hung stationary for a second before dipping slightly and flying forwards into the out-stretched fist, which connected with his chin with a sickening crunch. The Hunter went limp as he crashed to the floor unconscious. Cuchulain ignored this fact as he leant over the prone body and growled. "Not fulfilling your duties as a Jedi Hunter means that you are now demoted to Guardian. Your possessions will be removed from your quarters in Cocytus and relocated to quarters more fitting of your rank and ability. Be thankful you are not an Apprentice again."
The Rollmaster stood upright again. No-one in the room dared question his actions, all terrified that they would be his next target. "Dark Jedi Knights will each take at least one other Journeyman and a squad of troops. The ship will systematically be searched from top to bottom, the search controlled by the Equite Ranks. All will review the information gained from Aedile Rasilvenaira's capture. You will not directly assault any of these creatures without first informing myself and the Quaestor beforehand of your location. Any questions?"
The stunned silence pleased his ears.
"Now get out of my sight..." Members of Acclivis Draco leapt into action, forming small teams and darted past the Rollmaster to get some troopers under their command. All gave him a lot of room as they ran past him out of the Cantina. Cuchulain stood for a few seconds more, glaring still at RevengeX and Timbal before follwong the other House members out the door.
Niemand's eyes went from the weird looking enemy to the somehow weirder looking Vail and back again and again. Surely, the man had saved him, but the boy was not sure if the old fart was still solid in his mind. Probably not. But sometimes he knew he wasn't in his right mind, either, and the same could be said for half of the Clan. In any case, Vail seemed to have his opponent in check well enough – or was the thing just testing the Scholaean’s skill? Maybe he... or was it a she... it didn’t really press on, wanted them alive probably?
Carefully, Niemand circled around the two fighters, looking for an opening to help Vail, no matter if the man wanted his help or not. A few times the boy was ready to throw his saber into what looked like a bad defense, but he noticed Vail’s saber dance across the thing’s armour without leaving a mark. So Duda did not dare to throw his saber.
The enemy growled something Niemand could as well have taken for a stomach problem. To the boy it sounded totally revolting. Vail nodded, grinning slightly, as if he pondered what had been said. “Yes, and as my mother always said, brush your teeth after dinner,“ the Adept then replied.
Obviously, their foe knew their language, because it stopped for a moment to contemplate the reply which was, of course, totally off topic. That was the moment Vail needed. With a loud, despising cry he kicked the thing where it should have hurt other males in any case.
There was the sound of a loud CLONK as his foot connected with the armour, then Niemand could see Vail was supressing the pain from the contact. Maybe now would be the right time to act.
The course of combat for Vail changed from an almost indisputable victory to the utter defeat in a matter of seconds; the creature's armour blocked even the most elegant and directed of the Aquillarum's attacks; its bulk was too heavy and too strong to be seriously affected by his hand-to-hand skills.
And the Force was oblivious to the creature.
To top that, as if the alien felt that the Dark Jedi had no response to his mysteries, he attacked him with redoubled efforts, as if Adept's distress made it find within itself sources of new strength. Vail could do little else but defend, slowly backing down the corridor, his red lightsaber flashing sporadically as he moved it from left to right in a desperate attempt to defend himself from his opponent's attacks.
Then, finally, the Force stirred.
Darkness began forming around the Vong. Quickly it formed around his shoulders, elbows and wrists, slowing him attack just enough to give Vail an opportunity for a single attack. Lightning quick, a dagger appeared in his right hand, as he moved it in a straight arc which went directly over the creature's armor, aiming for its neck. The alien saved itself by jumping backwards, causing Vail's dagger to miss widely. As if his attack did not miss, Vail continued to move the blade in the straight arc, driving it deep into the wall to the side.
Shaking off the darkness which he did not understand, the alien proceeded again to attack the Adept. The creature misinterpreted the grin on the face of the Dark Jedi - or perhaps it contributed no significance to it - but for whatever reason, it charged directly, wielding its staff, as if hoping to trample the Dark Jedi with the ferociousness of its charge.
That lack of care brought the creature to a sudden end. As it made a step, the both warriors were embraced by an instant surge of darkness, a complete and utter blackness surging from the little child behind the Dark Jedi. In an instant, both warriors were blind. It forced the creature to stop, to wonder where its opponent might be, to raise the guard against the attack...
The attack came straight from the front, as sudden and precise as death itself. Vail grabbed the dagger which was in the wall, drawing it out in a return swing that went right across the creature's neck, severing its arteries, bathing them both in creature's blood.
As darkness dissipated, Vail was found standing over the fallen body of their foe, his dagger still dipping blood on the floor. His face revealed a state of shock as he looked at the dead body of his enemy with a gaze of utter amazement, approaching lunacy.
"Dammit kid" he said as he turned around to face Niemand, his face getting a bit more composite now. "Lets get out of here. We must warn others. These things will mutilate us otherwise."
Lucien and Tra’an exited the medical bay with Impetus in tow. Ensuring that the corridor was in fact empty, at least of invaders, the trio ran back towards the main hangar. On the run, Lucien made contact with his Rollmaster.
“Cooch, I’ve just been in some nastiness. What is your position?”
“I just cleared the bar out. Some people just need a swift kick in the backside. Who’s with you?”
“I have Tra’an and Impetus. Changing direction and on our way to you now.”
“Negative. Go grab a squad and start searching the ship for more of these things. Report in before you attack. You hear me? BEFORE you attack.”
“Understood. Lucien out.” Lucien switched off his comm unit and stopped running. “You two heard the man, let’s go grab us a squad.”
“Lucien, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to the others.” Impetus said.
“Understood. Guess it’s just you and me Tra’an. How good are you at impersonating one of these things?” Lucien inquired of his Shi’ido Apprentice.
“I’d need a month or more of study, Master. Unless we have a corpse. What did you have in mind?” Reith replied.
“Nothing yet, just good to know, ya know?”
Tra’an nodded and looked down both hallways off the main corridor and looked back at his Master for direction. “Which way Master?”
“You know, I am not entirely sure. This is only my second time on this ship and I seem to have forgotten my map.” Lucien looked down the hallways as well and made a command decision to go down the left hallway. This decision would not be his most fortuitous. As they rounded a corner down yet another taupe colored hallway, they ran smack dab into a Vong and 4 Chazracs.
“Crap!” Lucien hissed under his breath. “You let me worry about the ugly one. You take the little ones.” Lucien shucked off his outer cloak, grabbed up his lightsaber, ignited the azure blade and ran headfirst into combat.
Tra'an skidded as they rounded the corner, bracing himself before hurtling into combat right behind his Master. He did not bother to acknowledge the command, his vibrosaber sliding out of its quick-release sheathe as it had many times before. He also slid his training saber out of his arm and into his hand, activating its brilliant blue blade. They both ignited immediately, silver vibrosaber against blue training lightsaber. His speed propelled him towards the closest of the four Trandoshan-like beings. He angled to squeeze between the bulkhead and the creature, raking it with the blades. His training saber blocked the staff-like weapon as it angled for a blow, the vibroblade moved too high by the change in position. As he was moving sideways past the creature, his high blade hit the protrusion from its head by accident, as he had not judged the angle shift correctly. It sliced cleanly through the first one, the angle slicing a good chunk of the head below the other dome.
He was momentarily stunned as he kept moving, because the creature simply collapsed. He made a quick judgement as he braced against the bulkhead to combat the next one, deciding to attempt this time what he had done at first by accident. Meanwhile, Lucien had engaged the Vong in combat, his Lightsaber of absolutely no use against the Vong's armor. They had exchange blows several times with Lucien in a slow retreat back to the corner they had rounded. He was a little more concerned for himself at the moment, as he now had three enemies for himself.
He missed the forehand slice at his opponent's forehead domes, but slid his vibrblade through the creature's arms in a spin as it had raised them to block the first blow with its staff. He was faster than they were, and his second blow set slid two slashes across the creature's body. The strike from the training saber went across the armor, doing little but scoring it, the vibroblade across the throat, which killed it instantly. Dodging the combined attack of the other two was not entirely successful, and earned them a score across his upper right arm. The pain was intense, but he suppressed it as he shifted the portion of his arm to repair the muscle damage.
Deciding he wasn't fast enough, he gave himself an edge by increasing his speed. He moved in such a way as almost to be seen dancing away from his enemies. He shifted grips on the blades and rushed back in as fast as he had rushed away. He spun out of reach of the creature on the right, blocking the staff strike of the one on his left with his training saber, and stabbing the creature through the face with his vibroblade. He had begun to breathe hard, not used to prolonged multiple opponent combat. When faced with his last opponent, he braced himself and charged. Again, he danced aside from the impending strike and this time dealt a spinning double handed strike to the head of the creature.
He leaned against the bulkhead briefly before examining the combat his Master was engaged in. If Lucien could just hold out for a minute while Tra'an regained his breath, the creature would face an attack from behind.
Koskian cursed, his molten blade working overtime against the pair of hulking aliens. One minute your going for a drink, the next your fighting for your life.
Chuckling at that thought, and how it pretty much summed up his entire life within the Brotherhood, he spun under the strange staff like weapon one of his foes was using, before jumping into the air and thrusting his blade back. The seasoned Primarch heard the sizzle of flesh and then the dull thud of a heavy body hitting the plating before he landed. Landing lightly despite his age, Koskian spun around, blade at the ready and a grin on his face, for some reason enjoying the wanton killing of these beasts. A hail of blaster fire came down the hall, peppering the alien's armor before a trio of shots burned it's skull out.
Whistling in appreciation, Koskian approached the unexpected help, five soldiers with blaster rifles and nervous looks on their faces.
“Whose in charge?”
“Uhhh, actually, our CO got torn by one of those big guys, took his head clean off.”
“Yah, we've just been running and trying to kill those things when we see 'em, uhh, you got a plan, Master?”
“I'm no Master...but I can't see the harm of you kids tagging along,” replied the Obelisk, noting one of the older soldiers stiffening up at the usage of 'kid', the man easily being near his fourth decade in life.
Reaching out with the Force, Koskian could feel distress in various quarters of the ship, as well as quite a few drunken minds. What interested him most were the dead spots though, such as he had felt when trying to get an impression from the ships that had attacked the fleet.
'I may not be able to sense what they want or are thinking, but I can sense where something isn't right in the Force....time to hunt,' he thought, a vicious smile crossing his face as he lead his newly acquired squad towards the nearest 'dead' spot.
Blue eyes snapped open suddenly, the darkness of the small chamber not affecting the size of the pupils very much. The eyes were not focusing on anything within this silent damp compartment, but looking off through the space and time at something that was about to happen, pain and surprise that was about to infect everything. Those eyes began to reflect the suffering and anguish that was building up in distant comrades and about to erupt through the whole of the Clan.
Jedi Hunter Dom B’ltan stirred from his meditation within the small room, rising to his feet, ducking low to avoid the low ceiling. He pushed open the wood-composite door to leave the chamber, one of five that made up the Meditation Shrine. The small group of alcoves had been dug out of the rock on the pinnacle of one of the smaller mountains in this range next to the Scholae Palatinae Clan Headquarters on Judecca. The location was chosen for the Shrine due to the small natural fountain that bubbled in the centre of a hollow in the rock faces. The air was still and silent and all those who used the area found that they could reach further with the Force than within the confines of the Citadel, their perception heightened, their thoughts clear. Members of CSP visited this shrine for the solitude it offered, but now that solitude felt like a noose around B’ltan’s neck. The isolation and peace he had yearned for a few hours ago when he had first come here had been destroyed by the immanent emotional explosion of his comrades, which tore at him through the Force, emanating from the Citadel a few miles away. He jumped nimbly over the fountain, the distant shock and anger subsiding as the meditative state slipped away from him, but somehow deepening in strength as IT got closer. Whatever IT was, great agony was going to befall his Clan.
B’ltan sprinted, using the Force to augment his speed. He watched as TIE Fighters screamed and roared their way out of the hangars, tearing through the atmosphere on a fraction of their normal flying speed, the frictive force of the atmosphere slowing them down. The mountains still blocked most of the view of the Citadel though the top of the pyramid structure was just visible from Dom’s current locations as he dashed down the path. He could imagine the hangar bays along the bottom edge of the structure all open spitting out the fighters.
Realisation had already taken hold that the fighters kept here on the planet were the last line of defence. Depending on the approach vector an enemy might take they could easily skirt past the other planets of the system, home to the Houses and out-stations. They would definitely have to pass close by the asteroid field. This field was home not only to a huge array of interplanetary defence mechanisms, but was also the hidden location of the system starship dock. The dock held well over one hundred TIE fighters, at least thirty of which could be deployed within minutes, and various other craft of different classes, primed and ready to launch against attacking forces.
Hovering almost above the Citadel was the near-geostationary moon of Judas, the closest moon to the planet. Judas was home to the planet’s primary defence systems. They wouldn’t call for back up from the planet unless it was specifically required, and that knowledge made B’ltan’s stomach lurch. He watched in awe as the fighters which had been first away from the hangars suddenly burst into flames, the oxygen rich atmosphere causing them to burn longer than TIE’s normally burnt, debris beginning its’ swift return to the planet surface. The movement of the smouldering solar panels and shattered carapaces wasn’t as swift as the ships that chased them. Purple blob-like craft screamed through the smoke and fragments of destroyed ships. Looking like enlarged B-Wing cockpits they seemed to spit fire at the defending TIE’s, each direct hit taking a few seconds to turn the unshielded craft into flames. B’ltan slowed momentarily to attempt to recognise the craft but in no way could he identify this strange flying rocks that seemed to sweep the TIE fighters to one side with a minimum of effort. They darted back and forwards in ways that B’ltan had never witnessed, spitting fire and plasma never before imagined. B’ltan would be shocked to know that in the atmosphere their potential was harried even more than that of the TIE fighters, the freedom of space liberating the living craft. He dropped his head and ran faster.
Lucien was fighting for his life with his azure lightsaber as his apprentice Tra’an was still regaining his breath. Struggling to parry the powerful and relentless attacks from the alien warrior, the Templar surrendered ground quickly to avoid the deadly sharp blade along the serpentine staff. In a swift, smooth motion, he took two steps back to avoid an attack before retaliating, bringing his cyan blade down with force towards the unknown attacker. His attack stopped dead against the staff, locked for a few seconds, and then he was pushed backwards due to the raw power of the armoured warrior.
As the staff span around the back of it’s owner’s hand, a bright red, burning metal whip arced over Lucien’s head, striking the centre of the chest plate of the crab armour before cracking back, a small volley of blaster fire hit the same spot before the warrior stumbled back a few steps.
“Need any help?” Came a serene female voice from behind Lucien. He turned to find Impetus moving with her typical dancer’s grace, her husband Ararin stood back with two smoking blaster pistols. Impetus switched her whip for her lightsaber and engaged the Yuuzhan Vong warrior with an elegant acrobatic flurry. Lucien quickly re-joined the fight with a variety of strikes from his own saber, and combined with the occasional shot from Ararin, the tide of the battle began to turn.
Tra’an re-joined the fray, slashing wildly with his vibroblade at the back of the warrior, stranded between the four attackers, not knowing who to focus on. The incredibly strong crab armour caused even the combined attack to last for about a minute before Lucien’s lightsaber found it’s place in the underside of the Vong’s arm and through it’s head. As he retracted his weapon, the armour clad fighter hit the ground with a colossal thud that shook the room.
Lucien turned to Impetus. “Weren’t you going to find the others?”
“We heard fighting.” Said Impetus serenely. “Thought it best to help out a bit. Let’s stick together and find ourselves a squad as Cooch said.” Impetus then established contact again with the Rollmaster. “We got delayed a bit Cooch, we’re searching for a suitable squad now.”
Cuchulain clicked the button on his wrist-pad to reply. "Better late than never, Imp!" Impetus was one of the few people still in the House that Cuchulain joked with.
"Make sure and report to Cuchulain who is here in our group." The voice overheard on the link made Cooch grimace. That half-blood Twi'lek Ararin to whom Impetus had actually got married to. He wasn't even Force sensitive! Cooch grinned wickedly as he thought of cutting off the Half-blood's lekku, leaving him brain damaged, then quickly disregarded that thought as he realised what Impetus would do to him if he killed or permanently damaged her husband. Perhaps he'd have to settle for aputating an arm or something.
"Hello? Did you get that, Cooch? Are you still there?" Impetus had been reporting who was in their group, while the RollMaster had let his mind drift, thinking of the damage he could do to Ararin, and then what he could do to Impetus afterwards when she was single again. He shook his head back to the here and now, ignoring the looks he was getting from the white-clad armoured troopers around him.
"Yeah, yeah. You, Lucien, Tra'an and Anadin are all together..."
"Yeah, whatever. I have two squads here with me, and I'll send one to meet up with you. Head to Deck 17, C-Block and meet up with Master Sergeant Az'emar Feri who's looking after this rabble. He's a Sakiyan but don't let that worry you, he knows what he's doing. Out"
Cuchulain keyed the wrist-pad again to end the conversation, happy to go back to his thoughts of male-Twi'lek torture rituals as he and his squad broke off from the group assigned to Impetus, Lucien and Tra'an, and went off to bolster numbers on other areas of the ship. He opened a Clan-wide comms channel.
"Right you bunch of Muppets! Who needs help?"
Defence batteries within the CSP Citadel spat their own energy weapons up into the sky at the oncoming vessels, having little or no effect. Some of the small ships slowed down as strange black voids appeared where the bolts of energy almost hit them. With the amount of energy being dispersed by the cannons JH Dom B’ltan looked on in disbelief as none of the small fighters went down – if anything the cannons were causing the CSP ships even more trouble as the cross-fire picked off a few friendly craft. Smoke and flames plumed in the air hanging for a few seconds before the countless craft zooming about ripped the small clouds apart in their wake.
This morning it had taken B'ltan thirty minutes to reach the Shrine, strolling up the meandering path into the mountains, relaxing his mind, opening himself to the Force in preparation for the effect that that Shrine would have on his meditation. Three minutes after leaving the Shrine he was only a few dozen yards from smooth walls of the Citadel, his focused body cutting down the side of the mountain to help his allies as best he could. Sweat was flung off his face as he dodged around smouldering debris. He realised that ships were barely getting a few hundred metres into the air before they were under attack from this invader. His senses allowed him to jump clear to dodge a smaller piece of wreckage as it thudded into the ground in his path.
The speed at which he had come back down the mountain meant that he was back at the Citadel in time to see the first of the explosions rocks its foundations and send sections of the pyramid into the air.
As a pair of the attacking fighters broke away they dived down towards the Citadel, ignoring all the TIE fighters they zoomed past, intent on causing as much damage as they could to the building. A formation of three TIE’s hooked up and swung in on an interception course, unleashing their own fury towards these invaders in vain. Dom fought with his legs to stop, skidding to a halt, sliding in the rocky dust and tipped and rolled over. The top quarter of one wall disappeared in flames and wreckage as it erupted outwards, showering the area with white-hot metal and shards of transparisteel. The two craft that had delivered the blow skipped above B’ltan’s head and suddenly flew back on themselves in perfect unison to attack the three TIE fighters that had converged on them. All three TIE’s opened up on one craft, their concentrated fire finally getting through the strange shields to strike home and send the ship spinning off into the mountains. Their victory was short lived. The remaining Skipper spun backwards, inverting momentarily to dodge the imcoming fire, unleashed a volley of it's own, righted itself and continues firing wiped out two TIE fighters and damaged the third. Dom B-ltan wiped his face as he looked on helpless at those explosions, not noticing that his dust-covered hand was now covered in blood.
RevengeX sighed with pleasure, a goofy, inebriated grin spread across his face as a Twi’lek massaged his upper back with soft blue-hued fingers.
“A little lower, baby,” he muttered as Timbal’s voice, mingled with another Twi’lek’s laughter, entered his ears.
“Y’know, Rev,” Timbal began, his words slurred and slow, “we sho’d follow Cooch and ge’ ‘im one these girls. They’re re’lly good…”
“Yea, he’d like that.”
“Where’d he go?”
“No clue, let’s go look fer ‘im.”
Timbal and RevengeX stood up out of their chairs. Revenge said lustily, “Wait here fer me, I’ll b’back.”
The two Dark Jedi stumbled out of the bar and looked down the corridors for Cuchulain.
“Don’t see ‘im…”
The two scrambled down the right corridor, bumping into frantic uniformed personnel on their way. Their footing was irregular and they took frequent breaks since Timbal kept complaining about cramps. They weaved down the halls until the bumped into five armed soldiers and a man who looked like he needed to take a bathroom break – Primarch Koskian.
RevengeX was still wary of Koskian ever since he had joined the Clan after going Rogue after a stint as Proconsul of Clan Arcona.
Revenge nudged Timbal who spun around and yelled, “I’m a spinny top!” Timbal instantly fell over and smacked into a wall.
“What was tha’ fer?”
The two stared at Koskian until the Primarch noticed the two drunkards.
“Revenge! Timbal! Get over here and we’ll go hunting together!”
“Ooh… hunting!” the two said in unison as they scampered over to Koskian. The five soldiers looked even more frightened now, but the three Dark Jedi waved it away and tried to trade stories.
Getting out of stuck lifts was hard work. Voldemort had not known that. Most of the time, he had considered people being stuck a joke, especially when they needed to visit a toilet. Right now, with an enemy inside the ship, he just thought it a desaster.
Getting the hatch at the top of the lift to open had not been hard with the Force. Jumping out onto the top of the lift was that much harder, except the lift was swaying wildly back and forth, and he couldn’t get a grip on it with the Force at all. Voldemort became nauseated quickly. And whenever he felt like barfing, it was over with touching the Force. One of his few big weaknesses.
One of the other weaknesses was a distinct fear of heights, one of the reason he hated piloting so much. As the lift stopped swaying and he puked over the edge, he was happy there was only darkness around him, save the dim lights of the emergency light.
“Now,“ he said to himself to make the thought less scary. “Do I do up, or do I go down?“ Downward it was less distance, but he could not bear to look downwards, even when he would not be able to see much beyond a few steps on the emergency ladder. “Up it is,“ he decided. Climbing itself had never been a problem for him. With a sigh which echoed strangely in the shaft, he carefully went over to the ladder and gripped it with shaky fingers. “A real Dark Jedi I am,“ he mocked himself. “Next thing I’ll run from something completely harmless like...“
A giant spider lowered itself right in front of his nose right then. “...a spider!“ he shouted and lost his grip A moment later, his survival instinct and reflexes kicked in, and he managed to grab the ladder again. His body crashed against the wall of the shaft, and he had white sparks burning behind his eyelids. As he opened his eyes again, his feet still looking for hold on the ladder, he noticed that the lower door he had not wanted to consider was now right above him. “So there is good in something bad, after all,“ he growled and started to push himself up to open the exit.
Niemand tagged behind Vail for some time now, lost to time and almost lost to the situation. He had thought he could deal with weird creatures not being touched by the Force, but he was not. And what was worse, the thing inside him was not, either. Trying to make believe there was no insecurity of him, he followed the older man who was rusning down one corridor after the other towards where they had heard the sounds of more battle. Every now and then, Vail stopped for a moment to spread his warnings, but it seemed most people were aware of the situation already.
Despite calling on the Force, the boy's legs grew heavy. Just when he was about to tell Vail he could not keep up any longer, they rounded a corner and saw a weird sight. A lift door was half open, and a dirty young man was pushing himself out of it. "Voldemort?" niemand asked. "What happened to you?"
"I don't wanna know how you'd look like after climbing out of a malfunctioning lift," the Obelisk growled. "These things really need to be cleaned more often. I don't think..." He blinked, then added "You do not happen to know where this battle is, do you?"
Niemand thought he sounded about as eager as himself to confront the mass of those creatures. He didn't know what to answer, but Vail came to his rescue. "Down there, young one," he said and pointed vaguely into the direction they had been running toward.
"Mind if I join you? In unity is strength." Voldemort already fell in behind Vail without waiting for an answer.
The transport with the Mandalorians and the people they were escorting landed in the hangar completely battered. It was more of a crash landing, really, and it caused the already overtaxed repair crews to throw in another shift, or maybe two. One for the ship and one for the hangar itself.
Standing at the hangar exit, Adam Anderson was awaiting the group. His orders were to bring them directly to the Consul. As the cursing mass of Mandalores left the transport, he grimaced. Why did he always had to end up with the unpleasant tasks? But he would not complain. After all, his Consul would have to deal with the lot as well. And longer than he himself, Anderson was sure.
The Mandalorians, on the other hand, did not like the sight of Anderson standing there so seemingly relaxed. “Darn Krath,“ one of them grumbled. “Hasn’t been him getting caught up in one of those stupid shroud anomalies.
Several levels lower and several curses later, Vail, Niemand and Voldemort arrived at a badly demolished engine room – obviously the work of the enemy as some of the weird beetle like thingies were still stuck in the leftovers – totally out of breath except for Vail who was at least breathing more heavily now. One of the main battles seemed to be right in next room. A headless trooper came flying out while they were still contemplating joining the fight at this olace or go on, which convinced them.
“Go in with all glory,“ Voldemort said in mockery. Where he wanted to be now was a nice, safe bathroom or his bed.
“What about...catching...some breath... first?” Niemand panted, leaning against the wall.
The head of the trooper followed it’s decapitated body and landed in front of the boy with a dull thud. “Does that answer your question, kid?” Vail asked. His breathing frequency was already back to normal. So was Voldemort’s.
Duda wondered what he was doing wrong. Since the first encounter with the enemy, a part of him seemed not to want to obey the rest of him anymore, and for some reason, this also seemed to be the part responsible for connecting to the Force. It took a great deal of effort to slow his breathing quickly, then follow the other two into the room where the fight took place.
He recognized another room ladden with the remains of technical things and the occassional dot of one of those organic type thingies in it. Niemand noticed one of the enemy fighters had been ripped apart somehow, and it gave him a little hope. His strength seemed to flood back into him. “Are you coming, kid?” Vail asked as he took up a battle stance.
“Yeah yeah, I’m coming,” the boy answered i n such a low voice no one else but himself could hear him. “I’m all ready to get myself killed early in life.” For a moment, he wished no one had ever told him he was a Force sensitive.
An engineer flew past him, propelled by an explosion caught by the bug thingies. She crashed into the wall, only unconscious as Duda could feel in the Force. “I don’t care if I’m not of age, if I live through this I’ll get myself completely drunk,” he said a good deal louder.
After a nice long flight in the simulator training some of the younger pilots, Yeldarb felt it was time to call it quits for the night and head back to his room for some sleep. As he stepped out of the simulator he had realized the invasion alarms had sounded. He he was in a fighter suit with no weapons what so ever. Could he make it to a weapon or back to his gear, he did not know, but it was worth a chance. Maybe he finally would get a chance to utalize his weapons in real combat instead of some stupid training exercise.
After running through the halls seeing barely anyone and what seemed like ages he made it back to his room. The gaurdian darted straight towards his locker and started throwing things across the room untill he finally had his robes and training saber in hand. With in a minute or two he was fully changed and rushing back out the room screaming " stupid [Expletive Deleted F-word]ing training saber, I dont know how your going to help me out in this fight, and since I am a stupid retard and never trained in anything other than my own body I will blame you if I die here today."
after what must have been thirty minutes of wandering the halls aimlessly looking for anything he could to smash in the heads of who ever just invaded this ship he spotted a group of jedi down a long hall. As he approached to his surprise it was his master Lucien, and Luciens other apprentice Tra'an along with two other people he had never met but recognized the female as being Impetus.
Noticing 4 bodies laying on the ground not far fromt he group Yeldarb stopped, put a pissed off look on his face, the screamed "God Damnit I always miss the good [Expletive Deleted]."
Lucien looked over and said, "well if you would have went to bed like I told you I would have known where to find you now wouldn't I?"
The Guardian responded with a simple "Yes Master." still angry he missed the fight he asked "So whats the plan now?"
His Master responded, "Well we go find more maybe you will get your first kill today."
There was total chaos in the engine room. Voldemort could not tell who was fighting on what site at first, it seemed to be everyone against everyone else. Then he saw some creatures definitely not belonging to any known race. Those must be the invaders. Hot anger burned inside him now. After being stuck in the lift, he was ready to do some slaughter. He had completely forgotten about the enemy's repotation of nearly unbeatable armour.
Someone large and furry pressed a bag of different types of detonators into his free left hand - the right was now holding his activated saber - and grunted some instructions. Voldemort knew Laurus would get him things to go boom and started to feel a lot better. Force or no Force, those weird intruders would not be immune to a good explosion or ten. Taking the first detonator out - a cryo grenade, just the right thing, he hoped - he was trying to locate a good target in the dust and debries and low burning fires with acid smoke.
There were, he now saw, only five of those monster things. Only five against a good deal of their troopers and several crew members - although most of the latter were now dead and didn't help their defense much - and yet they seemed to be ten times more effective. Probably the fear they instilled, the boy thought. "I'm the one usually instilling fear," he mumbled. "You, monster, freeze!"
The cryo had the desired effect, and it was obvious the alien took some cold damage, albeit not as much as Voldemort had hoped. The gear of the enemy seemed to absorb a lot. Well, if cold wouldn't do the trick, he would have to try with a real boom, with heat. Grabbing a thermo, the Obelisk aimed at the same guy, deciding in all arrogance to take them out one by one. Right then, someone familiar stepped into his line of throw, though. Someone fighting another of those creatures, getting almost killed in the process. Voldemort could not throw the thermo without endangering one of their own. "MEEP" he shouted - one of the standard CSP commands for "move your sorry ass out of the way now - but the guy didn't obey. As he came to think of it, Voldemort had to admit the man probably had other worries. Trying to stay alive, for example.
As Voldemort tried to think of a way to come to the unknown man's aid, someone threw a blueish liquid at the alien's back, and a moment later the same liquid burst into flames. It was obvious that this had a good effect on the enemy, who was now trying to extinguish the flames albeit not bothered by the pain, as it seemed. "It is a total waste!" Predator shouted, and his fish head poked out of the smoke. "But it works. Everyone, grab the Chiss brandy and throw, everyone who can create fire with the Force, burn them. It's only tem who are untouchable. not the liquids on their backs."
"Whoohooo..." someone shouted. "Liquid fight."
"Yeah, like I always wanted to do that," Voldemort commented sarcastically. "Especially with expensive stuff like this."
Laurus grunted behind him.
"You are right, at least it's totally in style," Voldemort agreed with the Wookie, then he run to one of the frequent brandy cases - nowhere better to get drunk than in engineering, not counting the cantina and, if you were female, Phoenix's quarters, of course. Engineers always had their special stash.
From the moment on bottles with different alcoholic liquids begun to fly, Niemand lost overview. A short glimpse towards Voldemort proved that the Obelisk, at least, seemed to know perfectly well what to do. For the young Master, confusion began to grow.
When he was confused, his grip on the Force was not as good, and this was made worse by the constant scond guessing of the nature of the enemy he involuntarily did. Not knowing wat else to do, Duda looked for Vail, but the man was lost in the smoke and debris.
Crouching on the ground and supressing a cough, Niemand made his way back towards the doors. By now he was absolutely sure his destiny lay elsewhere.
OVER JUDECCA AT ABOUT THE SAME TIME...
"Are you sure this is a god idea?" the copilot asked, throwing nervous looks at the instuments and the cockpit window. "We are only a transport, after all."
The pilot grinned widely and showed not-so-white teeth. "But we are transporting explosives. We can do quite some damage here. Trust me in this." The small, boxy ship, seemed to have lost stability, but the pilot was only pretending. "These things usually leave ships which aren't a thread to them alone. We've seen that."
"But we ARE a thread to them. I'm not so sure your idea makes any sense..."
"They don't know, they don't know." The pilot, all eager to play the hero, gripped his stick harder and turned the transport slightly towards one of the large alien ships. "If this won't tear a hole into the, then nothing will."
"But how do we... you know... get out alive?" the copilot dared to ask.
"Uh..." Obviously, this was something the pilot had not considered. "Well... we could... maybe..." The Vong ships was very close already, and as predicted, no one had paid them any mind. If these things had any minds to pay anything to.
"Maybe you forget this braindamaged idea and we just slide by?" the copilot asked.
Right then, a larger Brotherhood ship came out of hyperspace. "That's one of ours. and it looks undamaged!" the pilot cried.
"Yeah, we'll see how long it'll stay that way," the copilot mumbled.
"Dang, they have detected we aren't all dead and turn towards us," cried the pilot. "The ugly mofos, I mean."
"Run for it, run for it!"
"Too late, mate," sighed the pilot. He did not sound happy about it all of a sudden, but he turned the frighter around and gave full power heading towards what looked to be a vulnerable place in the alien ship's hull. "Die, mofos."
On the CSP ship, their heroic - or idiotic, depending on who you asked - deed was watched in amazement. With yet more amazement everyone watched as the alien ship ended up far from being destroyed, although it seemed slightly damaged. "We're doomed," someone muttered in the background.
On the bridge of the Excidium, more and more new damage reports from the areas where fighting took place came in. No one seemed to know exactly how many aliens had come on board, but there had been at least two confirmed accidents where ship's troops had fired at each other. The Mandalores had been sent to engineering a few seconds before, seeing how there had been sightings of at least 5 of those creatures. Three enemy ships had been found outside the Excidium's hull - they had somehow cut the hull opened and just stepped in. This had, of course, happened before they had retreated to the shroud. Right now, there were teams trying to dislodge the insectoid crafts and seal the breaches. But it did not look too hopeful.
Sommetra stared at the incoming reports, trying frantically to think up a new way to fight the fearsome opponent. "If we have insect ships,2 she muttered to herself so no one else culd hear her, " then maybe we can use some type of insect repellant." It was more a silly thought than anything else, but the idea was now stuck in her mind. "Has it been possible for our science department to find out anything about the nature of the alien weapons' cell structure?" for all biological things, so her tought, there must exist something to kill it. Even if it was an obscure poison and the subject hard to kill.
"No, Ma'am. Science is understaffed and badly damaged and..."
"...and small to begin with," Sommetra finished the sentence. This was not a science vessel, after all. "Thanks you." Her voice had become steel cold now. "I want everyone to think about insect repellants, insecticides, anything that may be helpful. If we treat those creatures and their arsenals as bugs, then what would a bug killing substance look like?"
"Sticky paper?" someone said in a whisper.
"Something like tha. Keep thinking, but you just gave me an idea..." Quickly, the woman gave some orders to the engineering section. If it wouldn't work, the joke would be on her, but in that case they would probably all not live for much longer anyway.
"We are to do what?" Voldemort shouted.
Laurus repeated his grunt, loud enough for all of them to hear. The Wookie threw a burned enemy aside and started looking for the last. Half of their own people were dead, wounded or suffering from various forms of smoke poisoning. Laurus paid no heed to anyone bu made his way to the back of the badly messed up room.
"What if we do not find out how? Most of the engoneering staff is not here or is not in any state to assist."
Again the Wookie howled.
"Alright, i trust a Wookie's inborn sense for technology. Just tell me what to do, now." Volemort supressed a sigh and followed his furry fellow Clan member.
At the back of the room, the mess was slightly less. Mostly, there were no bodies, no blood and no fire damage. Also very little smoke. But there were as many broken levels, buttons, in fact whole instrument panels were destroyed. A single service droid had gone to his maker and left a puddle of oil on the ground. Laurus almost slipped on it. He growled angrily.
"Yeah of course you'd look dumb with oil in your fur, but hurry up. I don't get why you Wooks are so obsessed with your appearances anyway." Voldemort pushed ahead of the large furry guy and found when they were looking for. "Here we go. Damage control for automatic fire response systems - they're dead or we'd be wrapped in foam by now - chemical substances control, gas binders..."
Growling even more loudly, Laurus banged at the fire control.
"Yes I know we need it, but banging it is only going to damage it further, you stubborn... what do you mean, it's a technician's most used approach?"
Right then, the fire cntrols came back on with a loud beeping sound. Foamy water with a weird smell begun to rain down on them immediately and formed a very slippery surface on everything. Laurus howled triumphantly. Predator was laughing somewhere while Vail was heard cursing loudly. Laurus stood upright and banged his head on something and activated yet another howling sound.
"I'd congratulate you but I worry you do not really know what you were doing," Voldemort cried over the noise. The wookie howled back, rubbing his head. "What do you mean all systems needed came on? Hurry up, we need to find a way to redirect the flows of... well, this stuff." Another weird smelling substance met with the fire extinguishing foam, causing the mass to be sticky.
It took Laurus a few buttons and weird, indecipherable technical babble to stop the damage control systems in here and redirect it to where the ship's commander had ordered them - to the ship's hull. "Let's hope this works," Voldemort sighed, wiping sticky foam out of his eyes. "I need a shower."
On the bridge of the Excidium, everyone watched the screens showing the intruder ships covered by droid cameras. One by one, they were flooded with a sticky, greyish substance which took a while to freeze in the cold of space. Within minutes, the insectoid fighters were covered with the mass, and a few minutes later, the mass was frozen. No enemy would get off this ship again. The crew shouted their excitement and Sommetra opened a cannel to the Clan summit.
The Knight Commander had just dispatched of the intruders with the help of his Clanmates when his Apprentice showed up, late as usual. Lucien allowed his displeasure to be displayed plainly on his face and after uttering the orders to move out, the Templar took up the rear of the group with Impetus leading the way. The human yelled up to the Twi’lek to remember Cooch’s orders and head to deck 17.
“I know damn well what the hell he wants and he’s not going to get it. Get on the comm unit and let him know I want to have a talk with him.” Impetus fired back. “He and I have some words to exchange.”
Lucien clicked a button on his wrist and the comm unit was active. Opening a channel to the Rollmaster, the Templar relayed the Archpriestess’ message. The Pontifex was less than pleased and used several choice words that Lucien dared not repeat to Impetus. He simply took the directions and passed them along.
“Imp: Cooch said that you can talk after we kill these things.” Just then, the fire control system activated, covering the ship in fire resistant material that quickly froze the outer hull of the Excidium shut. No one was getting on or off until Braecen wanted it so. The force of the material hitting the ship and freezing made the inner hull creak unnaturally. The sounds sent a slight shiver up Lucien’s spine.
“What the hell was that?” Tra’an yelled back.
“Don’t know. Just keep going. We can’t afford to slow down now. Eyes forward, ears open, weapons at the ready. Focus will be your friend and savior in this fight, of this I can promise you.” Lucien imparted to his young Apprentice. Yeldarb laughed to himself, having learned the lesson all too well already.
The Templar pushed the file of Dark Jedi down one corridor to the next, each on their singular mission to rid the Excidium of the attackers. The group was on deck 15, about to enter the lift to deck 17, when they rounded a corner and ran smack dab into the Rollmaster and his squad of troopers.
“Just the person I was looking for.” Impetus growled.
While the twi’lek tried to make her words sound harsh, her cheeks flushed a deep shade of crimson upon sight of him, her left hand started to sweat, enclosed in her husband’s right. Cuchulain smiled at her, knowing full well knowing what was going on in her mind. “You were looking for me? I thought you’d come back.” He seemed to disregard even the existence Ararin Korin, knowing his ex-lover well enough to realise that showing anger towards her half-breed husband wasn’t going to impress her.
Impetus wanted to say that she didn’t want him back, to warn him to stay away from her husband, but the words never came, transfixed as she was by Cuchulain’s eyes. She forced herself to look away from him, trying to think of something appropriate to say in this time of war. Her sweating hand attracted sideward looks from Ararin, unaware of the rather active night-life his wife once had.
Impetus stammered, trying to think of something worthwhile to say, before Lucien jumped in. “Do you know how many of the aliens are left?” It was the exact question Impetus was trying to ask.
“Their numbers seem to be decreasing.” Cuchulain spoke to Lucien, but looked at Impetus. “We encountered one on the way here, but a Krath Pontifex with an entire squad of troopers against one Vong warrior isn’t going to take long. If we stay in a large group they’re easy to overpower on their own.” Impetus wasn’t completely surprised that Cuchulain wanted to stay near her, but wasn’t entirely sure his motives were as he claimed.
“Shall we patrol the Excidium and hint them down?” Ararin’s nervous suggestion earned him a menacing glare from the Rollmaster, not because of what was said, but because of who said it. Without a word of acknowledgement to Ararin, Cuchulain led him, the Dark Jedi and the squads of troopers on a route around the ship.
Rasilvenaire left the room and returned to her own quarters, she was still in shook from her encounter of the Yuuzhan Vong, which left Thran alone with his two newly appointed body guards. They continued their conversation on a plan, mostly how their Quaestor wanted protection against any warrior that opposed them. Malaki froze, he felt fear. It had been hours since he saw his apprentice, after the ceremony the knight never saw him return to the Excidium. Whilst being stuck in his day dream, he overheard a discussion Thran was having to an officer on the command deck.
“Sir, the fleet has been dispatched; however the Excidium shall remain here in the shroud. All other ships have already jumped into hyperspace to Judecca to aid our defense there” The officer stated then was interrupted by Thran
“You Must be joking, Judecca under attack, Dam it what else can happen!”
Malaki was now more concerned about the attack on Judecca, and then rudely butted in as he already felt a loss in his soul.
“Where is Lithas, Thran can I please find out where my apprentice has gone?” The knight said quickly
Cethgus signed and looked over at Malaki, the Zabrak seemed offended by what the knight had said. He reached out at the Krath but Malaki refused any contact. Thran looked at both of them and then smirked.
“You two really need to learn how to work with each other, Officer thank you for this update however I would like to know one thing, Where is Lithas Pota?”
There was a pause in the conversation and then another person spoke, by the sound of his voice he seemed more authoritive.
“My Lord, Lithas was last seen boarding the Emperor’s Sword. The assault cruiser left with the fleet to Judecca sir, I’m sorry” The line cut off and Malaki felt his heart beat slower as a tear ran down his cheek.
“Sir I must Do something, its worse enough losing the presence of my apprentice but not to be able to have him by my side is worse, I must leave, I cant just give up on him” Malaki stood from his seat, inside he was angry but really in was in fear.
Thran shook his head and stood from his own seat. He was already under enough stress and didn’t need any more grief from a Knight who had lost his apprentice.
“Malaki your orders are clear, you can’t go, if I'd had the authority to let you go then I would...but your orders are to remain here along side me and Cethgus on this ship and no where else, clear ok?” Thran said.
The knight looked down at the floor, he felt ashamed, upset and angry. He stared back up at Thran and nodded.
“Sorry Sir, I was only concerned”
The knight sat back down and remained silent during the last of the meeting. He also felt somewhat lost, thinking about the many other dark jedi on the ship, hunting the Vong boarding party through out the levels of the victory class star destroyer. And the many men that left with the rest of the fleet to Judecca.
The meeting between Braecen and the ship’s captains of what remained of the Dark Brotherhood’s fleet, was still in process as reports from Clan members extinguishing the invasion parties kept coming over the comms. The Mandalores were stationed in various positions in the corridors leading to the conference rooms to be sure the meeting went uninterrupted.
Feeling a bit disappointed from missing out on a good fight, Phantom concluded that it was probably for the best, where she had been away for so long. She made a mental note to schedule herself a bit of time in the training arena’s, if the Excidium successfully makes it back to Judecca.
A sudden movement to the Templar’s left and the sound of something buzzing quickly brought Phantom’s attention to the here and now. Before she had time to react, a sharp pain surged through her arm.
Fighting back the pain, the Mandalore activated the comm unit on her bracer.
“Intruders in Briefing Area Four, corridor….!” A buzzing noise could be heard in the background before the link went dead. This time, the thrown object cut through the armored bracer, damaging the circuitry and sending more pain through the Templar’s already injured arm.
Three strange assailants finally came into full view, carrying what looked to be a strange looking lance or staff to the Mandalore. Reaching for her saber, she knew she was one of few that was between the strange armor clad intruders and the Clan’s Consul a few corridors back.
One of the assailants charged towards the Templar. Pushing back the pain, Phantom managed to parry the attack and quickly lashed back at the intruder with her saber, trying to force the Vong intruder back.
A second assault quickly followed, this time two of the intruders attacked. With each blow from the attack, the Mandalore was finding it more and more difficult to hold her ground. The strength of the Vong intruders combined with the effort of trying to quell the pain from her injuries, the Templar made a desperate slash at one of the closer assailants. Finally, mostly out of sheer luck, Phantom’s saber managed to slash a fatal wound just above a piece of the strange armor plating.
As she watched the intruder hit the floor, Phantom felt a sharp pain surge through her back, forcing her to the floor. Fighting to stay conscious from the overwhelming pain, the Mandalore struggled to get back on her feet.
The sound of reinforcements could be heard echoing through the corridors.
Dark spots and dazzling stars both swan in front of Phantom's eyes, and she struggled to get to her feet. A scarred foot slammed down into her spine smacking her into the once highly-polished steel of the corridor, now covered with smeared blood. The wind knocked out of her, she struggled again to turn round and face her attackers. They allowed her to roll onto her back and looked down at her in disgust. Blood flowed easily from a gash torn up from her lip a few centimetres across her cheek.
"Jee'dai!" One creature planted its foot on her throat, keeping their enemy from struggling as she fought for breath, as the other raised its' staff up, evil glinting in its eyes. Before he could bring it slamming down into her face both the creatures faces suddenly leapt off towards her right and grimaced. The sound of boots hammering down the corridor was almost ocevered over by the creatures' screams as they forgot about Phantom and sprinted to meet their new attackers. Phantom tried to turn her head to look on, but she could not make out what was happening, even with the dark blurs only a few yards away. Some of the light blurs were probably stormtroopers though. She closed her eyes, slowed her breathing and focused on the pain coursing through her body She concentrated on the anger burning inside her that these things had been able to hurt her so badly. That fury that raged within her began to heal her, the blood stopped flowing, her legs moved when she wanted them to, and she opened her eyes to see a Tw'lek leaning over her.
"Get up! Come with me!" Ararin Korin held out his hand, got Phantom to her feet then handed her back her sabre. "You'll be needing this." He turned and went back to the fight where Lucien, Yedarb and Tra'an were battling one creature and where the second was being danced around by Cuchualin and Impetus. Ararin raised his firearm to give cover and watched in awe as his wife spun perfectly in time with the Pontifex, her single purple sabre swirling in harmony with his dual-bladed attacks, making very short work of the Vong warrior, cutting chunks of flesh off as they toyed with him. It was almost balletic. The Vong fell to his knees in front of them, barely alive and with his face racked in pain. Cuchulain deactivated his sabres, hooked them inside his tunic and turned his back, opening a connection on his comm-link. That left Impetus to step forwards, drop her shoulder and lance her sabre straight through the alien's face. Ararin hadn't even noticed that Lucien and Yeldarb had worked their Vong warrior into a position so that Tra'an could easily dispatch the beast, slicing its throat so deeply it almost severed its' head clean from its shoulders, spraying both Students with dark blood.
Cuchulain strode towards Phantom and the briefing room, as Lucien struggled to catch up with him. "What is it Cooch?" Cuchulain nudged Ararin into the wall as he passed.
"I think the number of five Yuuzhan Vong warriors on the ship is mildly underestimated."
B’ltan struggled to his feet, and focused on his slight injuries caused by the heat of the blast from the Citadel. As he shook the weariness from his head he looked up at the battle, recoiling in shock yet again as he saw a new craft diving through the battle. The fish shaped Yorik-trema didn’t bother to attack the TIE fighters, its sole mission to land on the planet. And it wasn’t alone. A long line of the flesh-like chunks tore through the atmosphere, leaving long streaks of ozone as the red-hot craft burnt through the air. As each ship slammed into the ground a cloud of rock and dust mushroomed above it, before the craft sent out their Molleung worms.
B’ltan made the worst decision of his life, as he staggered towards one to investigate. Having just come from the Meditation Shrine he had no weapons, no armour, and no chance. The Molleung worms started laying out their cargo, as thirty soldiers came charging out of the tubes. B’ltan thought briefly that these creatures were Trandoshan but they were much smaller. He wiped the blood from his eyes as he watched his Dark Jedi colleagues lead the Citadel’s troops in a charge. The fierce creatures died easily, but their numbers put Scholae Palatinae’s ground forces on the back foot immediately.
Staggering slightly more now, B’ltan moved towards the Dark Jedi fighting. Several had been downed and he quickly found a blood-stained sabre on the ground. As he activated it the Jedi Hunter realised he should not even have this weapon yet. A small smile spread across his lips as his battered senses looked at the shimmering blade. He looked up again in time to see a Chazrach heading straight for him. He sliced through the beast with a minimum at effort and stood for a second transfixed again by the blade. The Force alerted him to another of the beasts and it too went down quickly.
But it wasn't alone.
Lancer Class Frigate Ogmio's Whip, the Strike Class Cruisers Valkyrie and Dark Predator all broke into real-space in perfect unison. For a second Captain Lanas of the Whip thought that they had broken out too early and she had flown into the asteroid belt just outside Judecca's orbit of Cocytus, but these rocks moved in ways asteroids could not.
"Shields up! And dispatch ALL fighters! Signal for all Dark Jedi on board to get up here into the bridge." She stood up as she surveyed the desolation in space about her Head-Quarters' planet. "What the smeg are these things?"
"Ma'am, 80%of fighters launched, Valkyrie showing 70% launched and Dark Predator 75% launched so far" Holding back defensive reserves was standard and each Captain made the decision on how much back-up they needed.
"Ma'am, Dark Jedi are all en-route" She needed thier help and their guidance now more than ever. They might know something of these ships she did not, or show up some weakness. Especially the Krath tacticians.
"Ma'am, sensors indicate a large alien presence on the planet surface converging on the Citadel, which is under heavy attack and badly damaged"
All tactical thoughts suddenly left her mind as she regarded that last report. The Whip couldn't,and neither could the Valkyrie nor Dark Predator, could get down to the surface to assist. Commands were very quickly issued for most Dark Jedi and ground troops to be diverted to the landing parties as she looked on at the mass of ships filling the view-screen. The three ships in this Line were definitely nowhere near enough.
"May the Force be with us all..."
***On the bridge of the Excidium***
“Exiting Hyperspace Consul.” The navigation officer, a true pilot, had always hated his posting on the Excidium. The real fight was out there, not in here in the relative comfort of surrounding Dark Jedi. He had gladly relegated his seat to Natth when Braecen saw the need to flee the Shroud and head directly back here. The Dark Jedi Master had navigated them through the Shroud and into Hyperspace simply by placing his hand on the navigation controls, closing his eyes, and concentrating.
That was four hours ago. The situation on and above Judecca had become increasingly more dangerous since they exited. Braecen had dispatched Phoenix to “take care” of the ground forces commander and the Proconsul was slowly weaving his way in between the ships of the enemy and those ships of Arcona that he could see.
Flying on limited power as to appear adrift, Phoenix made it into the upper atmosphere of Judecca before firing his ion engines and hurtling towards the surface. It was all the Firrerreon could do to right his TIE Fighter before nearly crashing into the planet.
Well, that ought to have disguised my entrance. Phoenix said with a grin.
***On the surface of Judecca***
The sheer number of invaders had overwhelmed most of the regular armed forces of Scholae. Only those truly battle hardened and skilled had survived to welcome the Proconsul back.
Stepping up to meet Phoenix as he arrived was the very person he had been sent to dispatch. The Commander stopped short of the Firrerreon and snapped a hasty salute. The descendant of Palpatine responded with the snap-hiss of his lightsaber, cleaving the head clean off the shoulders of the errant human.
“You have all failed,” Phoenix said to the remaining troops. “I have been sent to rectify that failure. Emperor Kunar is not pleased to say the least. Now, let’s fortify these positions and get ready for the next wave, which I assure you is coming.”
The troopers went about the business of gathering the dead and reinforcing their positions, each of them keeping a keen eye on the Proconsul and his lightsaber.
“Emperor’s Sword has been destroyed Consul. All hands extinguished.” Braecen was becoming increasingly hot tempered with each letdown. With every breath, he cursed those who sought to topple him and his regime. “It does not appear that the torpedoes came from the surface however. They seem to have originated from the orbit of Caina.”
“Launch all available fighter squadrons. I want to know right now who else is out there.”
The knight stood outside Thran’s office as he and Cethgus talked privately alone, he stood there wondering what was going to happen next. Already hundreds lay dead at our feet, but not the enemy, our men left dead each of them faced certain death from a Amphistaff or another weird Yuuzhan vong weapon. He waited there patiently thinking about everyone’s fate and where we lay as a clan in this war. His mind fixed upon his apprentice, where could he be now and what was his on fate.
Thran came out of his office; his face looked even paler than before. Cethgus stood behind shaking his head; Malaki looked down to see what his Quaestor was holding. It was a message fro the command deck. “Emperors Sword Destroyed, few escapes pods launched, one docking bay fighter launched. It was torpedo fire Sir, Braecen has requested that a squad of fighters to search the Orbit above Caina. Sorry Sir”
Malaki looked away, it was the first time he ever felt like this since he lost his uncle in battle, tears ran down his cold pale pace. He coughed and sniffed a bit and then began to walk off heading in the direction of the elevator.
“Im sorry Malaki, There is still a chance that he got away” Thran said just as he left.
He took the elevator to the command deck and walks straight towards the bridge, ignoring away disruptions. He entered the security code then walked into a room that was full of officers rushing around, all on high alert, trying to do their job.
**** Bridge of the Excidium******
“Braecen! I want an update on the Emperors Sword; surely you must have received a message on who escaped?” Malaki shouted when he saw his Consul
“Ah Malaki, I thought id be expecting you shortly. And yes I have received one message and well its best for you to hear it.” Braecen replied and pointed to the communications station on the deck.
The officer working their played the recent message they had received from a lone pilot that escaped the Emperors Sword before it exploded.
“Anyone there? Dam it! Engines failing, looks like this hump of junk was useless. What the hell…*Static* Oh my god the Emperor’s Sword just exploded it’s totally destroyed what’s going on, dam it I’ve lost stabilizes looks like im paying a crash landing down into Judecca. Anyone there, reply?!? Crap! Lithas out”
Braecen touched Malaki on the shoulder, smiling he looked up and said “Your Apprentice has survived for now I guess, don’t worry we will find him down on the surface now return to Thran I have heard he wants you with him again”
Timbal and RevengeX were about to engage their opponents when the ceiling and walls around them burst open and started to enthusiastically spray the area. Through his alcoholic haze Timbal noted that the ship’s firefighting control systems were attempting to fight a fire in here, but that was strange because there was no fire here.
However, he also noticed that it wasn’t the standard firefighting foam that was being sprayed. Groaning because he knew he had to waste good liquor, Timbal flushed his system clean with the Force, and gained an instant soberness, which he always hated.
Yelling out to clear the room, Timbal pulled a flashbang grenade from his pocket, pulled the pin, and tossed it at the charging enemy combatants. Tossing himself out of the room’s door, one of the troopers slammed the airtight door shut, and locked it down. An instant later a dull thud was felt through the deck, and that was that. Timbal got up, annoyed at the stickiness of the foam, and looked at the others.
“Someone is finally thinking. That wasn’t firefighting foam; instead it was some sort of chemical, possibly a binder of some sort. The grenade should daze them enough to let the chemicals do their work.” They nodded in sudden relief and understanding, and he turned to his fellow brother. “Revvy, I’m headed back up to the bridge. I think we’re about due to drop back into realspace. It’ll be likely to be a battle on some of the planets, so HAD might need to reinforce the current forces fighting, assuming they’re still alive.”
RevengeX nodded, already detoxed, and motioned the troopers to follow him. Timbal headed up for the bridge.
***On the bridge of the Excidium***
Timbal saw Malaki walk out of the bridge with a smile on his face, and rushing off. Mentally shrugging that off, he walked into the bridge and his eyes automatically went towards the holographic tactical display.
“Where’s the Sword?” he asked. The look of shock and hatred in the eyes of the bridge crew told the story. “Damn.” Seeing that Braecen was busy with directing the fighter screen, he walked over to Commander Sommetra, and she quietly filled him in on the current situation.
“Sir, we’ve dropped out of hyperspace right next to Judecca. We’ve entered orbit to provide fire support, but it seems that all enemy troops have left the surfaces of both Judecca and Caina. We have no confirmed enemy ships in the area, but the Sword was just suddenly attacked and destroyed by torpedoes. The Emperor has dispatched the fighter screen to search for the source, but it might take a bit of time.”
Timbal frowned at that one, but he wasn’t sure why. Something was nagging at him at the back of his head, but it wasn’t popping up right now. “What of the rest of the fleet?”
“Most starfighters deployed and searching for the source of the torps, since there’s too much debris in the system to get proper sensor readings. No other capital ship losses, although some are pretty damaged. It’s pretty confusing otherwise.”
Timbal nodded. He could get the details later, but the source of the torps is what was bugging him. Their enemy just used biological weapons, so that made whomever launch those torps as a normal enemy. They weren’t on sensors, but if they were “normal” enemies…
He looked over at Master Natth a’Niel, and he must have read his mind as he saw the Master nod, then concentrate.
“There, I have them.” The Master walked to the threat plot, and marked the positions. “Two life forces each, and they’re all piloted by Journeymen. Also,” he marked another few plots, “Here is an enemy fleet. One relatively big one, and two smaller ones,” he noted.
Braecen immediately ordered the fighter search screen in that direction, and almost immediately got a result.
The communications officer spoke up, “Sir, Patrol Ten has identified a medium capital ship, she’s heading in for a positive identification.” Braecen nodded, and waited for a tense couple of minutes. In the meantime, Sommetra began issuing orders to the Clan fleet and started to organize a combat formation.
The communications officer spoke up again. “Sir, Patrol Ten has positively identified the medium capital ship as an Acclamator-class assault ship, with two Carrack-class light cruisers.”
Timbal’s eyes narrowed at that news. There weren’t too many people running around out there with those kinds of ships. “Sir, Patrol Ten is reporting that she’s under attack from an unknown source!”
Natth a’Niel nodded. “One of the first contacts is attacking. Hold on, I’ll help.” With a concentrated effort, he then said, “No problem. They can’t fly their ship anymore, I destroyed their controls.”
Timbal in the meantime was thinking hard. Ships that weren’t able to picked up by sensors, two people in each, able to engage enemy fighters…
“They’re TIE Phantoms. Nothing else fits their profile.” Sommetra nodded, clearly having come to the same conclusion at the same time. Braecen looked over to the Master. “Natth a’Niel, anything else out there?”
The Master concentrated, then shook his head. “No, nothing else conventional out there.” They all knew what that meant.
“Ok,” Timbal said. “At least we can fight against this threat.” Turning to Braecen, Timbal braced to attention. “Sir, requesting permission to kill these murderers.”
With a look of battle lust in his eyes, he nodded. Timbal took a deep breath and started to issue orders, fully into his role as the premier space combat strategist of the Clan fleet.
“Ok, we’ll take the Excidium in to deal with this threat. Have the Victory and Dark Predator fall into formation with us. The Valkyrie with follow along with the Palpatine’s Hammer. All other ships will stay in orbit, in case trouble appears while we’re eliminating this threat. Here’s the combat plan. First, the Valkyrie will power up their gravity wells to keep them from running, while the Hammer follows as close escort. The Predator will engage and eliminate the Carrack’s, and the Excidium will engage the Acclamator, with the Victory as support. Someone tell Thran that we need some Brotherhood pilots in fighters to wipe out the TIE Phantoms, and then reform into a covering screen and harass the Carrack’s. The rest of the fighters I want with the rest of the fleet, just in case.
Then Timbal feel silent as everyone snapped to obey his orders. He and his close friend Sommetra looked at each other for a moment, each knowing what the other was thinking.
Time for some revenge.
***Excidium: Inside The Secondary Launch Bay***
They Jedi and accompanying persons stood down, having dispatched the last of the Vong running around on the Excidium. They sheathed, turned off, and cleaned their weapons, breathing rather heavily from prolonged combat. Tra'an nursed a rather wicked shoulder wound that didn't want to heal because of the way the poison from the Apmhistaffs worked with his physiology. He was immune to the poison itself, but the wound would take time to heal, as the flesh around it was paralyzed so it couldn't shift.
They had a decently sized container filled with a live amphistaff that hadn't been paying attention when Cooch had been using the impervium canister as a weapon. He had been flinging it around with the force to distract the Vong, and saw his opportunity when one of them tried to use the amphistaff as a javelin. The canister was moved in front of the thrown weapon which was in snake form, and fit inside and was locked inside before it had a chance to change shape. The canister was currently in the care of their only non-combatant, Yeldarb.
Cuchulain thumbed his communicator. "Braecen, we've finished the extermination and have a live pet for you to look at. We're returning to the bridge." Lucien smiled a bit, looking forward to returning to Braecen's side, and getting back to what he did best. Impetus and her husband were lost in conversation by a far wall, Cooch idly thumbing the saber at his belt, irritated at the presence of the inferior that Impetus had chosen for a mate. When they were ready, the worked back to a turbolift in the stern section and were whisked right up to the bridge.
They left the Marine squad to stand guard outside the Bridge as they filed in, Tra'an still working on healing his wound with a medical cocktail that was being improvised every second. Cuchulain strode over to Timbal as Lucien moved subtly behind Braecen. "Report." Impetus and her husband were resting against the wall, huddling together in conversation again as everyone else absorbed themselves in the current situation. Yeldarb was holding on to the canister with the amphistaff as it shook and bounced, the snake trying its very best to escape confinement in one of the few canisters made of a material strong enough to hold it.
“Brethren…we have failed…”
The message was broadcast loud and clear throughout the bridge. Braecen drooped his head as the Grand Master announced the Baraata Option. Few knew exactly what this meant, but given the Consul’s countenance, it could not have been good. The Corellian turned to the group of his Clanmates and said only three words: “Antei is gone.”
All around the bridge there were hushed conversations taking place. The older of the Jedi, those that had been around for a while, knew that this was the last straw, the final salvo against these aggressors. The Grand Master would destroy the Autarch and with it a large number of Vong. Still, the place that most of them knew as home of the Brotherhood would now be in the control of some warmongering group of outsiders.
Lucien looked at his two Apprentices and from the look in his eyes, they knew to scatter and quickly. Yeldarb turned to Tra’an and said “Follow me. We need to put this snake somewhere it can’t hurt anyone. I think I know just the spot.” The two Journeymen curtly bowed to their Master and ran off the bridge to the lift. As the doors closed, Lucien looked back to his weary and battered Consul and offered a small bit of wisdom.
“At least none of the other Clans got her. Of that we can find some measure of peace.”
“That is true old friend. But now I fear that the enemy will have a more hardened resolve to take Judecca. The terraforming has already started on Caina and we are powerless to stop it. I cannot, nay, will not allow them to take Judecca. Do you all understand that?” The Consul half screamed at the Dark Jedi he commanded.
They nodded in unison, each one knowing what to do in this situation. Caina was an expendable planet, home to the now defunct House Dorimad Sol. Their focus must now be on Judecca, Antenora and Ptolomea. If they could hold or retake those planets, Caina would come in time. The gaggle of Palatinae each bowed to Braecen in turn and shuffled off to perform the duty for which they were singularly trained; defending the Clan.
On his way to the hangar bay to retrieve a shuttle to the surface, Lucien communicated with his Apprentices.
“Yeldarb and Tra’an. We are going to the surface. Pack a lunch; we may be there for some time.”
-----Surface of Judecca-----
"Clear these bodies now, and fortify positions!" Screamed the Firrerreon. "Nothing will get through these lines." Phoenix waved his hand to help in clearing bodies as the troops moved furiously to not anger their Lord Marshal any further. The unknown attackers had devastated the Legions of Scholae. Phoenix grabbed the lifeless body of one of the "monsters" and studied it closely.
"How many of these things have you killed?" asked Phoenix.
"Not many my lord. Their armor deflects most blaster fire and all other types of hand held weapons. We have surmised that there are 4 main men, 8 support, and 1 large animal in each group. Though, we did learn if we took out the larger animals, the "support" troops became uncontrollable, and would attack anything that moved," replied the Sergeant.
This is good news, Phoenix thought to himself. "Regroup all remaining troops, replenish these lines. We must stop anything that tries to get through. The headquarters will not fall!"
"Well, maybe we can be of assistance my dear Proconsul," replied a voice through the rubble. With sabers drawn, Consuls Emeritus Epis Karva Dronaal and Battlemaster Dakari stepped forward with a large group of Journeymen and Equites.
"I had feared you old fogies were killed, glad my assumptions were wrong," grinned Phoenix.
"Who you calling old," grumbled Dakari. All the Jedi began to form around the Warlord. He eyed Kalak, Kel, Yadar, Adam, Vasily and a handful of others before his eyesight began to strain.
This group will make the final stand for Judecca. This battle will be glorious. Thought the Firrerreon.
"Brethren, today marks a dark period ahead for the Royal Clan. We have been decimated by this unknown foe. Their fury and aggression knows no bounds to the might that is the DarkSide. Yes, some of us will die on this day. But fear not death, for it will not be in vain. The rage of our fallen brethren will only strengthen our resolve. The earth with be stained with the blood of our foes. Today we will be victorious!!!" The gathered crowd of Jedi and troopers let out a thunderous cry that would have weakened the resolve of any enemy. But what now festered on Judecca was no ordinary enemy, something that could not be felt, could not be intimidated, an enemy that left death and destruction in its wake.
"It feels empty, like a void in the force," whispered some of the Journeymen. Suddenly, the ground began to tremble, as if a massive army approached. Phoenix stood tall and looked towards the horizon, the unknown force slowly marching over the hills just outside the city.
"It is time," Phoenix said to the Equites at his side. "Prepare for War!!!"
Feeling slightly useless, young Dark Jedi Master Niemand sat at the back of the bridge, staring at the information about the changes on Caina. Not having scientific training, he could not make much of it, except that he considered it unnatural. It was, in a way, funny - those Vong hating anything they considered unnatural, yet what they did was as unnatural to anyone in this galaxy.
"What are you thinking?"
The boy turned to find Vail standing behind him, looking as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened since they got on board of the ship. In fact, Duda thought the man looked completely relaxed. Of course Duda tried to give the same inpression, but he knew it did not work quite as well. "I was wondering if there are any Vong still down there, preparing some type of surprise for us."
"Quite possible. Though I am under the impression they are either impressed enough to need some pre-planning for further attacks, or they consider us too insignificant to bother with."
"Hmm... quite the opposite possibilities. but I am tired of sitting around, I need something to do."
"Voldemort followed our brave Proconsul to Judecca, didn't he?" Vail grinned, and there was a mischievous expression in his eyes.
"Yeah." Niemand, not much use in ground battles but still useful in many other ways in battle, would have gone along, but the group around Phoenix had departed so fast, he had not had a chance. And he was not good enough a pilot to maneuver the current hazards. "I'd love to go there, too, but they didn't wait for me."
"Well, same here. Let's move then, I have a shuttle ready."
Duda got up at once. "Who else is coming?"
"Oh, just the two of us, baby." Vail did a mock bow and pointed at the door.
Voldemort was right behind Phoenix as the battle raged on. Despite usual policies to keep the commander of all troops in safety, Phoenix was at the heat of the battle, using his knowledge of their troops' former experiences to their advantage. "Dispatch that ugly beast only when they look as if they are setting on a target," he ordered just now. "Gives most confusion then."
Voldemort's brother, Marr, nodded wisely. The Obelisk was always thinking ahead in battle, which had saved his life often enough. Liara and Aishea, on the other hand, fighting a bit away from them, cleaving their way through several Vong and crushing them with boulders and whatever else was there, only snorted. Both women were too powerful in the Force to use much care, all they wanted was the blood of their enemies.
"Now!" Phoenix shouted, and Marr, Voldemort and some others shot at the beast at the same time. It did not die instantly; it seemed anything the Vong made could endure a lot. But it succumbed, finally. The usual chaos in the group of Vong support troops began, and for a while, they were busy dismembering them. A cry to Voldemort's right spoke of a death in their own rows, and Marr was suddenly bleeding heavily from his right arm. "Nothing a bit of Force can't get under control," he growled as he saw Voldemort looking.
Having a moment of respite, Phoenix lowered his blade and looked around. They were standing on a rise close to the outer defenses of their headquarter - or what was left of them. The weapons of the enemy had destroyed most of it. His stare fixed on Liara and Aishea, who were searching the bodies of their foes for possible survivors. "You," he growled. "I don't care if you can use the Force better than I do, right now you are going to do as I say or you are out of here."
Both women lifted an eyebrow at him. "Of course," Liara said coldly. "What makes you think I won't?"
Phoenix knew better than to mention he had heard their snorting at his orders. "Just making sure," he growled back as coldly.
"One would think men would stop talking and concentrate on the battle at hand," Aishea muttered loudly to Liara as they turned away, marching in unison towards another rise where regular troops had a hard time.
"Women," Phoenix said to himself. "They would always come to each other's aid, no matter if they were right or wrong."
"Alright, let's get to the power station that used to power the defense here. If it still stands, I have an idea," he said out loud. And let's hurry, we are running out of time.
Out of earshot of Phoenix, Liara grinned at the other woman. "At least he's right with what he says most of the time."
Aishea shook her head and jumped back into battle, sommersaulting over some Vong troops to get in their side. 'Sith," she thought. 'Always coming to each other's aid, no matter who is right or wrong.'
Marr and Voldemort were somehow separated from the main group and found themselves battling with all sorts of bugs and warriors with their weird, living staffs. Back to back, they were doing their best. Marr stepped on the chest of one of their own fallen to beat back a rather sloppy enemy attack - it seemed they were not immune to tiredness, after all. "We can't do this alone," he muttered.
Voldemort agreed, but didn't have the time to say it. He barely avoided one of those explosive bugs. All in thought, he had tried to repell it with the Force before he remembered that would not work. So what he did instead was putting pressure on the air around it. The bug stopped dead in mid air and then exploded. "Hey!" he shouted. "Look at this!"
"We could have thought of that earlier," growled his brother.
The method to stop their bugs spread quickly though the Dark Jedi on the battlefield. They fought with renewed vigor as some others reported additional ways to make those bugs stop. Especially the higher ranks became creative now.
Voldemort stepped backwards to get a better aim at one of the beasts; he felt his foot step on something round and almost lost balance. Crouching to avoid enemy fire, he checked what he had stepped on and found a familiar lightsaber. It was next to the corpse of it's former master. "Tessel," he whispered.
The empty eyes of the young Ishi Tib he had considered a brother in his own rights stared up at him. There was a large hole in the Krath's chest. Why had he not stayed away from the fight? He had always lacked battle skills, with his nose in this lore or that. Tessel with his colourful clothing, to make up for his average appearance, with his troubles to understand most jokes and his allergy to alcohol. Voldemort knew he would miss his forgetfulness, his intensity, his ability to calm him down when needed.
"There are more coming," Marr shouted.
Voldemort stood up again and roared his hatred towards the enemy. This battle had just become very personal.
"Where are we going to land?" Niemand stared at the chaos on the shuttle's limited tactical displays.
"Where we are needed most," Vail replied.
"And where would that be?"
With a vague gesture, Vail included about half of the area now filling their screen. "There," he said.
The trio of Master and Apprentices hit the surface running. As soon as they were within range, Lucien called to Phoenix on the secure comm link.
“I’m a little busy right now Lucien. How bout you just get your ass over here and we can try and beat these things back?” Phoenix snarled.
“On my way……..sir.” The Templar responded. His two young Apprentices in tow, Lucien quickly made his way to the hatch that led to the underground tunnels under the main complex. He hoped that this corridor had not been found and compromised, otherwise he was in for some serious hurting.
Lifting the heavy iron hatch, Lucien dropped in a flash grenade and waited to hear for enemy noises. When none came, the Knight Commander dropped himself into the hole and ignited his lightsaber. Waving the light to and fro, he made sure that the tunnel was empty and motioned for Tra’an and Yeldarb to follow. The group made their way carefully through the hidden maze. If this were to fall, there would be no way at all that Scholae could hope to hold the headquarters. These corridors led to everywhere and were, at present, unguarded.
When they finally made it to the ladder that led up to the main hall, Lucien put a finger to his lips and slowly pushed the iron grate upward. Slowly he peeked through the crack and made sure that the room was clear. When he was satisfied that their path to the great foyer would be clear, he sprang up and called to his two apprentices.
“Quickly! This is our chance for glory!” Lucien called down into the hole.
Rushing forward, the Templar reached his Proconsul just in time to hear the end of his speech. Looking towards the hillside, a chill ran down his spine. The force was much larger than Lucien had expected and in that instant, he knew that this battle would no be won with ease. Turning to Yeldarb, he motioned to one of the unmanned turrets. The young Apprentice nodded and ran to his new mission.
Turning to the other side, Lucien caught sight of Tra’an standing over a dead enemy, studying it. In a split second, Tra’an’s face became that of a Vong warrior and then slowly melted back to the visage he allowed everyone else to see. Stretching his shoulders and neck “muscles,” Tra’an hefted a heavy repeater and took silent aim at the mass of troops headed their way.
We are ready for war, Lucien thought to himself. Now we see if they are prepared to die for their beliefs.
“This ugly’s mine!” Koskian snarled as his blade leapt and hummed at another Vong’s amphistaff. Revenge did not see the outcome of the Obelisk’s attack as his legs took him full tilt in the opposite direction.
I could use that massage right now, a voice whined inside RevengeX’s head as he sprinted around the Excidium to look for other members of Acclivis Draco who were not already engaged in combat with the invaders. The squad of troops followed him obediently like a herd of sheep. Numerous private duels between Dark Jedi and Vong congested the narrow hallways of the Star Destroyer, forcing the perspiring Epis to take detours.
As the Krath rounded a tight corner with the troops several meters behind him, he skidded to a halt as a set of Vonduun crab armor blocked his view. Instinctively rolling backwards, he dodged a slash aimed for his forehead. He jumped to his feet and saw two other Vong warriors behind the one who had attacked him.
I don’t have time for this.
Frustration and anger washed over him, coursed through his bloodstream, and fueled his movements as the troopers finally reached him.
“I want holes in their necks!” directed Revenge as he parried an amphistaff. The Quaestor lashed out with a wave of invisible energy, sending the blast directly into the Vong’s abdomen. The warrior took the attack squarely, but was only pushed back a centimeter towards his confused counterparts.
A series of grunts, snarls, and throaty clucks escaped the Vong’s mouth as he tried to stop his fellow Children of Yun-Yuuzhan trampling him into the ground. The invaders were simply too broad and tall for the sleek corridors of the Excidium.
Taking advantage of the momentary confusion between the three Vong, RevengeX threw his lightsaber at the first one, directing its trajectory with the Force. The blade lodged itself in the Vong’s left armpit and the Epis knew that he had successfully penetrated its heart as the warrior fell to his knees and the metal cylinder flew back to his outstretched palm.
Two to go.
“Can you do a sweep of the battlefield, right from… about… here, to… here, before we land?“, Niemand asked Vail, indicating two points on the tactical display between which there was an unusually strong concentration of opponents.
“What would that get us?”, the former Consul replied, puzzled.
“About… fifty dead opponents, if you can maintain an altitude”, the boy answered, with a broad grin, setting to work on removing a certain plate from the bottom of the cockpit. “Give me three minutes and then take her through, maintaining just over four meters.”
Vail began to understand what the young Master intended to do. Unquestioningly, he pulled the vessel up a bit again, descending in a long and soft right turn that would, at the end of a full 270 degrees, bring him right to the starting point Niemand had indicated. He had to admit the boy had guts – to try and fight Vong while hanging out of a shuttlecraft, head down, and travelling at over 300 klicks per hour even at the slowest speed was nothing for the squeamish, but it did have one advantage: You were an extremely fast-moving target and the impacts of a lightsaber blade travelling at this speed were bound to be too much even for Vong armor, while at the same time, it was almost impossible to hit the wielder.
A sudden burst of howling wind entered the shuttle as Niemand removed the outer plating. He dropped the piece of Durasteel outside, knowing the inner plate would be enough to keep the cockpit airtight on relaunching… that was, of course, for the unlikely case there was a relaunch.
He secured his feet with two loops of cable, testing the strength of his impromptu harness. It held well and even if one of the two loops were to give or break, it would keep him safely attached to the shuttle, while also providing him with the option to cut himself free with a swipe of his lightsaber.
“Off we go, give me as many Vong as you can”, Niemand shouted over the wind entering the cabin. He gave his harness one last tug and dove out of the opening. The device did what it was supposed to do, leaving the boy’s slender body suspended and dangling between the two landing rails of the shuttle where he would be impossible to hit from anywhere but dead center front and rear – and he knew that Vail would give his opponents few if any opportunities to do just that.
Still at a speed of almost 500 per hour and descending rapidly, Niemand found himself entering an unusual calm. He focused on the Force, opening his senses to his daring mission, then unclipped his lightsaber and blaster, intending to go in dual-handed even if his position meant that hardly any of his shots would hit. But even one was better than none.
Vail stabilized the shuttle just a few hundred meters outside the agglomeration that was Scholae Palatinae warriors fighting and being vastly outnumbered by the Vong. If the boy’s plan worked, he thought, the ratio might become a bit more even in the next thirty seconds.
Screaming a cry of rage and concentration, Niemand was deposited into the thick of the enemy reinforcements. He swung his saber left and right as fast as he could, not caring for how many opponents he felled. Only several seconds in, when the gusts of air turned him to look back, he noticed the effectiveness of his tactic. At least two dozen Vong had fallen with various states of injuries, just in the area he could still overlook and there was a visible commotion further away. Now the battle however began in earnest with warned warriors raising their fully extended amphistaffs at him and some firing their energy weapons and throwing bugs.
In the cockpit, Vail realized the danger and began flying narrow evasive maneuvers, bringing Niemand out of the direct path of danger into a new group of Vong that was also left several individuals down in the head count a mere second later. They were two thirds across the field now and the enemy was now spread further apart.
[Come in, now], Vail telepathically commanded to Niemand just before a grenade impacted the starboard engine of the shuttle.
Under the shuttle, the impact had thrown Niemand around and his right foot was suddenly dangling freely in the air. [I’m wounded but okay, coming now], the boy signalled to Vail as he made his move to pull himself up into the shuttle that was now beginning to list to starboard with that side’s engine failing. Vail did the only thing he could and jettisoned the entire engine before it could explode or, just as badly, emit some plasma that would fry the still suspended Master on the spot.
[Faster, I don’t know how long I can hold her], Vail sent to Niemand.
[I can’t, the cables have become entangled – Cutting myself free now. See you on the battlefield.]
He ignited his saber again, aiming the stroke for the cables still holding his feet, when another impact shook the shuttle. He was violently thrown around and the weapon fell from his grip, too fast for him to make any attempt at retrieving it with the Force.
[Pull up, I lost my weapon], Niemand literally yelled in his mind. Then, the violent air turned him forward again and with shock and horror, he saw the quickly approaching rocks the shuttle would, with the little energy it had left, just be able to clear, but not high enough for him, hanging precariously almost two meters below it. He made a final attempt to pull himself up, at least closer to the safe bottom of the damaged vessel.
Then, there was only blackness.
The battle raged on, the tattered forces of the Royal clan fought with unrelenting fervor to push back their would be oppressors. Blaster fire erupted from the lines, most being deflected by the powerful armor of the Vong. The Vong slaves, Chazrachs, hit the lines first, crushing and slicing those unprepared for the assault. Soon the troops reformed their tattered ranks and pushed the assault onto the Vong. Soldiers and Jedi alike fell to the ground before the Vong. Phoenix caught out of the corner of his eye, Voldemort's friend fall to the Vong.
Phoenix watched as Voldemort flew into a blind rage.
"That is it, let it flow. Release your hate and cut them down," Yelled the Firrerreon and he grabbed the throat of a Chazrach. Moving its head back and forth to get a better look at the reptilian creature, he taunted it. "I have no idea what you are, but you are one ugly bastard." And with a jolt of his wrist, the Warlord broke the Chazrach's neck as it screamed out at him.
"Why is it I get the cronies, why can't I have one of them."
Jeedai, spoke one of the Vong near Phoenix. He watched as one of the journeyman had his arm ripped off and then tossed off to the side. The Vong turned and charged at Phoenix brandishing a blade type weapon. Phoenix brought up his sapphire blade just in time to catch the Vong weapon. The two engaged in a furious battle, blades slashing and slicing through anything and anyone in its path.
"Just give up, you can't beat me you ugly, piece of...." Phoenix was cut off as the Vong grabbed his throat.
Master Jeedai will make a fine offering, spat the Vong as Phoenix felt the life draining from him.
"I AM A SITH!!" screamed Phoenix as he forced the Vong back with all his might, then severing its arm. Without flinching, the Vong grinned and then swung its weapon at Phoenix, resuming the fight. Phoenix called upon the force to strengthen himself and push his speed up. The Vong furiously tried to keep up with Phoenix, but his disadvantage caused him to lose ground against the Sith.
"Now you die," spat Phoenix as his blade found the Vong's throat. "You head will look wonderful on my wall." Suddenly Phoenix heard the low hum of a shuttle coming into view. The Warlord smiled as he felt Vail and Niemand descending to the battlefield.
"Your late!" yelled Phoenix with a grin. Watching intently, he eyed Niemand jumping from the shuttle, attached to a line. Ballzy lil git he is. Thought Phoenix. Suddenly a bright flash of light hit the shuttle. Phoenix watched intently as the shuttle careened towards the ground. He had lost sight of it just over the growing party and lost sight of the dangling person.
No, not now. thought Phoenix as he felt the life force failing of those in the wreck.
Voldemort was torn from his blind rage only when the engine of the shuttle hit a bunch of Vong and unfortunately a few of CSP's troops after Vail had ejected it. Blinking, he looked at his surroundings.
Marr was on the ground unconscious but breathing regularly. He had just stopped massive bleeding from his left leg, which had been cut off, earlier. There were as many Vong dead, if not more, than their own folks. The new strategies worked.
With a heavy sigh, the young man turned, looking for more enemies, but they seem to be scattered now and nowhere close to him. As he resolved to run towards Phoenix, he felt the death of one of their own.
Niemand's essence, and the essence that had bonded with him, were released with a tremor in thr Force - although tremor was not quite the right word. It was more a shift as if reality was suddenly not there anymore, and then it was again, but altered. Voldemort had not had that close a relationship with Duda - in fact he had felt rather uncomfortable in his presence - but his death shocked him to his core. Partly because Niemand had been younger than him - and more powerful, too.
Voldemort dropped to his knees and did what he had not even done for his Ishi Tib friend or his mother's unexplained absence. He shouted to the sky and cried for all to see.
At several spots on the battlefield, those who had known Machweg did the same. Vail, who left the shuttle to confront a bunch of scattered Vong support troops, was among those who didn't though.
Those whom served the will of the Iron Throne - members of the Dark Council - were known to be afflicted with a degree of madness from the essence of the Dark Side that coalesced about the Grand Master. As representatives of Antei's Overlord they were often found in his presence, their own defenses eroded as he confided secrets of the Force upon their fragile minds. Should the strain prove too much... the minds of great men, and women, were known to break.
Shattered, broken... weak... the Consul of Scholae Palatinae sat aboard the vessel in orbit above the planet of Judecca. The Excidium was in geocentric orbit, the Task Force regrouping as it prepared for an assault from one, or both, of the present Yuuzhan Vong Fleets that crept in from the fringes of the system. The massive worldships, miniature moons that bored the aliens, moved to encroach upon the Clan's meager forces. It would be inevitable that several more ships would perish under the might of the alien invaders and their tenacious, zealous thirst for violence, war and subjugation. 'Sacrifice,' the Heir of Kun thought. 'How much more will we have to give... how many more debts must we pay with our blood?'
His com-link chimed a distinct tone - the Proconsul was attempting contact. "Lord Kunar, the day is ours." His voice broke over the static with a sense of pride, but great remorse lingered in his tone. "I am saddened to report that young Master Niemand perished in the battle." The news from the Grand Marshall confirmed the subtle shift the Consul had felt earlier - the young boy was no more. The azure eyes of Braecen fell across multiple reports and data streams crossing before his tactical panel... indeed, the Clan had found victory on this day. But it was one battle of, what he felt would be, a long war.
"He will be remembered for his part in this War. No, he will be immortalized for his contributions to this Clan and his ultimate courage and sacrifice." There it was again... that accursed word... more blood spilt on behalf of the Dark Brotherhood in the name of the Iron Throne. "Phoenix," the Corellian's tone trembled with rage, "we are going to retake this system. One inch at a time, if need be.We will uproot these extragalactic warriors and rebuild Cocytus. Brotherhood be damned... we fight for Scholae Palatinae from this point forward!"
"Aye, Lord Consul." The Proconsul listened with rapt attention, but was torn between his responsibilities as aide to the Clan's figurehead and his duties as Grand Marshall. Braecen could feel the emotions of Phoenix as if they were his own; so long had they served as the leading tandem.
"Go on, Son of Palpatine," the Krath cooed, "mop up the spots of resistance and secure our newfound battlefield. Summon the Clan, assemble the Legions... we address them all to discuss recapturing our home and the changes we will make to ensure our success."
"What of Antei?"
"What of it?" The Pontifex's tone did not veil his malice or disgust with the larger entity. "Are they here helping us reclaim our Dominion? Nay, and so we will not bother with them!"
Phoenix closed his link with the mad Krath. Silently, under his breath, he whispered his greatest fears, "We can no longer look to the Corellian for guidance." The Warlord hardened his resolve, knowing that the upcoming months would fall to him... he would carry Scholae Palatinae upon his shoulders until the madness left the Heir of Kun.
Indeed a 'shift' had occurred. The Royal Clan would never be the same; though, for better or worse... only time could tell. It would be the actions of each member, young or old, that would determine the direction the Clan would take.