The Taste of Blood
War is a cruel mistress. She brings out the best and the worst in men. Great innovation, exceptional bravery and astounding leadership comes with the unfathomable cruelty and loss. Your House goes to war, seeking individual glory and the pride of victory.
This runon event is a cooperative, forum-based fiction event. Fictional cues will be given to each House and Clan at the start of the week. “Cues”, along with plot details released that week, will form the basis of the Run-On.
* The run-on will be conducted in specially designated forums, already set up for each House/Clan. Passwords may be obtained from Consuls and Quaestors
* No one but the author of the post is permitted to make changes to it. The Author may freely edit his post up until another person posts on the run-on.
* 2 posts of 250 words each is required to be counted as a participant.
* Each run-on must have at least 20 posts containing a minimum of 250 words in each post.
* Runon posts may be posted until 22 October 2359 (11:59 EST).
Week 1 Orders: War has been called on the Jedi of Odan-Urr and their home planet of New Tython. You have just received word to prepare and meet the rest of the Dark Council fleet before making your way to New Tython and attacking.
Week 2 Orders: Detail the invasion of New Tython, as Scholae works with DB-allied forces both in space and on the ground. Detail also the sudden arrival of the Mandalorians. Scholae has been partnered with Plagueis to deal with these efforts
Week 3 Orders: The battle rages on as the Mandalorians and light jedi managing to hold their own against the combined forces of the Brotherhood. The Dark Council has joined into the fray. As more of the Brotherhood fleet arrives, Taigikori has appeared within your zone of battle. Along with Plagueis you are to ensure his survival as he battles his nemesis.
Week 4 Orders: Arcona, Tarentum, Naga Sadow, Taldryan, Scholae Palatinae and Plagueis have all begun to converge on the same point as they make the final thrust at Odan-Urr and their allies. The blending of Houses and Clans causes chaos between the "allied" forces, and old tensions rise in the midst of battle
Xen was still in shock from the news as he sped-walked down the halls. War was not uncommon for the Brotherhood but this was different. He had always thought it was odd to allow the Jedi scum into the ranks of the Brotherhood but now that they had been there for some time, he began to wonder what was going on in the mind of the Iron Throne. Not that it mattered to him, he was a servant to the will of the Grandmaster and he had learned that lesson well. The memories of the Grandmaster following the death of Dante and the actions taken against that coward and fool Fremoc was still seared into his head. It was a lesson he would not soon forget.
Somehow word seemed to travel faster than he had expected. There were excited whispers of those who belonged to the Brotherhood in the halls of the Royal Palace. Xen hadn’t even had a chance to tell his Summit in person and yet everyone knew. He sighed and refused to be stopped by anyone en route to his office. His summit and House Advisors should already be there waiting to receive official word.
“Is it true?” Archangel asked as soon as Xen entered his office. Xen glared and carefully shut the door, making sure no one would over hear.
“Yes. New Tython. We are to prepare and meet the rest of the fleet there.”
Xen made eye contact with everyone in the room. Familiar and trusted faces all. Archangel, Rayne, Thran, Xantros, Kell Dante. They were all there ready to send word out to the rest of the house.
“There are certain, traditions that need to be held. We should contact Ood, he knows them better than most,” Xantros added. Xen nodded in agreement.
The eyes of the Great Sith Lords followed them out of the hall. They had made their vows in the eyes of their lords, Palpatine in particular. The normal whispering among the members of the house was absent as they left. It was only once out of the presence of the large statues of their role models did it pick back up.
“With that done should we begin in earnest to move out to New Tython?” Rayne asked as she walked along with the group of house leaders.
“Yes, we need to get the entire fleet outfitted and on the ships. Final work needs to be done to insure all our ships are ready to go… There is a lot to get done now the traditions have been fulfilled,” Kell Dante said, always the soldier like his father had been.
“How much time do we have?” Xantros asked.
“Not enough, there is never enough when the call for war comes,” Thran responded, looking rather refreshed from more time out promoting his movies and fame as Derc Kast. Thran was not one to abandon his true identity when the time came.
“This war has been raging for millennia. If I could I would have us out to meet the Dark Council’s Fleet yesterday,” Xen said with fervor. The group nodded. Xen looked around at the group of Dark Jedi that were following. They were his brothers and sisters, his followers now he was Quaestor and Emperor. These were the people who would command the rest of the soldiers of Scholae Palatinae in battle against the Jedi. They were the heart of an Empire and they were moving for war.
His heartbeat echoed loudly In his ears. The addictive caress of adrenaline surged through his veins, an old friend long missed, but not forgotten. His lungs filled to the brim as he puffed his chest. His muscles twanged as he stretched them, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. His hand flexed, knuckles cracking firmly as gas was expelled from the joints in his fingers.
War. The word tasted so sweet on his lips. Where many warriors lamented the beginning on a conflict, he relished it. The opportunity for bloodshed, for victory, for defeating one's enemies in mortal combat. There was no greater venture in all the galaxy. To be feared, to rule over one's enemies, to cast them down and let the animals rip them limb from limb. War was his playground, and he intended to be the biggest bully in the sandpit.
He snatched his commlink from his belt, and flicked it to a seldom used frequency.
“Attention, all Expeditionary Force units. Prepare for war. I repeat, prepare for war”
A chorus of affirmatives blasted from his communications device, but he wasn't listening. He returned it to his belt, and began to pace the length of room. The others in the office, forgotten until now, watched him.
“The tiger has seen his prey, and now paces in anticipation” a quiet female voice said, with a slight jovial tone. Archangel shot the speaker a glare, before his expression softened. He smiled, and bowed his head in acknowledgment of the speakers insight.
“A caged beast sees freedom ahead, where his muscles and soul yearn for the blood of his enemies. Perhaps, Rayne, your analogy has merit” he replied, flashing a toothy smile to his wife. Her elegant features bore an icy blue lipped smile. Knowing her husband's mind before he did was a trick he had yet to figure out.
“The Expeditionary Force will be ready by tomorrow morning, my lord” Archangel said, his gaze switching to his Quaestor, Xen'Mordin. An able comrade, and one of the finest leaders Scholae Palatinae had ever known, Xen would be a perfect figurehead for the Dark Brotherhood's victory over the Jedi.
“The Warspite will be yours, Rayne. Keep her intact” Xen said, as he surveyed the Dark Jedi before him, “And Archangel, you have the Indomitable. You can command the Expeditionary Force from there.”
“I will take Reiden as my Exec. He needs the experience”
“Very well” Xen replied, “Do you all know what you need to do before tomorrow?”
A silent shadow watched the gathered Summit and advisors from the corner. No one had seen her enter the room. All of them were too busy with their own thoughts of the coming war. Rasilvenaira was a veteran of many wars and conflicts. For the Sith, there was no hyper, excited frenzy like she saw in so many of the fresher members of the House. It was just another war, business as usual.
“So the Dark Council’s decided to finally get rid of their pet Jedi, which means we get to go hunting. Sounds like fun.”
Archangel glared at his former master, “About time you showed up.”
“I’ve been here, gizka brain. You were too busy stomping around like a hungry rancor to notice.”
Her dark eyes met his pale gaze steadily, daring him to make any other quips.
“Ras, I trust you will be ready?” Xen interjected before the two Sith ended up fighting again. One office worth of broken furniture was enough; he wasn’t looking to remodel another room.
The Battlelord responded without breaking eye contact with her former apprentice. “It’s a war. What is there to be ready for? I kill people or blow up ships. It doesn’t matter to me who or what they are. This isn’t my first bloodbath, Xen. I’ve been killing people since before you were born. If you ever ask me if I’m ready again, I’ll add you to the list.”
“Save your threats for the Jedi, Ras. It’s my job to make sure everyone’s ready.”
She slowly turned her obsidian eyes to the Quaestor, “I don’t make threats, Xen.”
Rasilvenaira turned her back on Xen and glanced around the room again. Her mind was also going over the roster of the House, so many untried in War. Quietly, she hoped they could keep casualties to a minimum.
Akatsuki had been in the library studying when the call from Xantros came through over the commlink. He asked that she meet him at Xen’Mordin’s office ASAP. He also noted that he’d been accurate with knowing about the Call to Arms, that the War was about to be announced...
Akatsuki arrived to hear the analogy that Rayne had made about a caged tiger. It was a very fitting comparison to how she felt as the only Horansi in the Brotherhood. It was the Jedi Hunter's first taste of war, and she couldn't help that she was getting excited in anticipation. The power and anticipation of war was palpable, Scholae Palatinae wanted bloodshed; she was feeling a growing thirst for blood herself. She had a solid moment of self-doubt, and fear, but pushed it down deep inside to fuel her then paused to look around the room. She was surrounded by her elders, mentors and, her direct superior, Xantros, was nearby.
"I remember studying about when Darth Maul fought..." Akatsuki whispered to Xantros, "he was restless and anticipating the battle just as I am."
Xantros shot her a glare that said 'quiet'. She then steeled and calmed herself focusing her eyes on Xen. She realized that Xantros knew about the 'call to arms' ahead of time, so in turn, she knew it was coming too. She awaited instructions from the Emperor, her Emperor. She knew she might die, but it would be for the glory of Scholae, it would be for the Empire.
'House Scholae Palatinae has the best that the Brotherhood offers.' Akatsuki thought to herself, 'I've been training for this moment. Every battle, every lesson and every moment as an apprentice leads to now. If Palpatine is watching over me, may I honor him with my battle.’
She glanced around the room. She spotted Rasilvenaira in the shadows and wondered what she was planning. Akatsuki then looked about at the Sith that had seen war before and wondered what she, a Jedi Hunter, could bring to this war. ‘I did go spy on them’ she thought to herself, ‘perhaps I can point out crucial locations to attack.’
The Jedi Hunter stood at attention, making sure she didn't fidget or move about too much and waited for orders, her eyes fixed on Xantros and Xen.
Xantros smiled with satisfaction. He awaited that moment for very long time...from the very first moments ot existence of the pathetic Jedi House. His conclusion, based upon vague suggestions from the Dark Council and rumours spreading among members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, turned out to be correct.
"The war has been coming for a long time...now, at last, it has been declared." thought Xantros to himself, "Perfect timing, as I no longer could stand presence of the Jedi in the ranks of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. They deserve to die and I want to kill as many of them as possible."
Definitely, killing numerous was going to have positive influence on the career of the Dark Jedi Knight. Not only it would bring the attention of higher ranked members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, maybe even the Grand Master himselfl, to his dedication, but also there was a bounty put on every single Jedi of House Odan-Urr. Two thousand credits paid per one lightsaber brought to the Dark Council. More Jedi killed, more lightsabers obtained. More lightsabers obtained, more credits to receive. Xantros had strong motivation to fight the enemies of the Brotherhood, which had its source in the desire of glory and power.
However, there was something more that made him strive for the best. It was his loyalty to the Dark Brotherhood and to his House...House Scholae Palatinae. He felt strong desire of reclanning the House and he was aware that the performance of the House members during the Great Jedi War, would greatly affect their quest. Poor performance would shatter their dream about regaining the status of Clan, but outstanding service during the war would bring fame to the House and might convince the Dark Council to grant Scholae Palatine the status of Clan.
Xantros was aware that everything depended on the members of the House. He had to do his best during the war. Otherwise, it would be unfair to expect the same thing from the others. He also hoped that his example would make other members of the House, especially his subordinates from Caliburnus, strive for the best.
Though in deep thought, Xantros carefully listened to the discussion of the House Summit. At one moment, he noticed Akatsuki, who just arrived at the meeting, and silenced her with a glare. Despite interesting remark, she made, there were more important matters to talk about at the moment. Using short time of silence, the Dark Jedi Knight decided to ask about his assignment.
"All right, what ship shall I be assigned to? Shall I be of any assistance to the commanders of the fleet or will I join the ground assault?"
The Royal Palace
Two hours before dawn. On any other night, Janiss Reklin would be one hour into a beauty nap, lulled to sleep by the utter stillness found at the front reception desk of the Imperial Palace. Fortunately for her, Janiss did not need much in the way of beauty sleep as her nails frantically tapped the keys on her computer station. Ever since the call to war, she had been working nonstop processing and coordinating outgoing resources between various agencies of the Empire and the Palace.
Who knew how long it would take to regrow her nails.
The teal skinned Twilek tried to keep up the pace as her body ached for rest, distracted by the hussling and bussling hordes entering and leaving the Palace. She glanced up once, then twice, then a third time as a lone figure staggered about in the sea of focused, disciplined marching masses. "How did a homeless man make it into the Palace?" she thought to herself. Although she wanted to focus on her work, the bald hobo took notice of her and began to shuffle his way over.
"He- Hey, Beautiful. I'm...I'm back."
Janiss almost felt herself getting a buzz off the man's breath. She looked into his iris-less eyes trying to identify him. Upon closer examination, it became clear that his head was shaved rather than bald, his white beard as unkempt and ragged as could be. He was an Arkanian, obviously, but the only Arkanian in Scholae had disappeared some time ago.
"Don't yous say to me you don't remember me. I may have added...a few dozen pounds....but...maybe yous could help me work that off?" The drunk tried his best to give a million credit smile. On his best day, he may of had one, but tonight he came up several hundred thousand short.
"Sir, I'm quite busy tonight. Perhaps you would be better off at one of the local clinics?" Janiss picked up her comm and prepared to call security before the man's hurt face convinced her the missing Arkanian had returned. "Master Fayne? I apologize. It's just that you look....well, it was assumed you had gone AWOL. I didn't expect to see you tonight."
Kael Fayne scratched his beard and tried to focus himself. The past few months had not treated him kindly in the least. He had thought he needed to get away, to go on a search to find himself. The search had failed. "I know you're busy tonight, girlie, but...Hey. Hey! Yeah, now that you mention it, what in the damn is going on here tonight?"
"Master Fayne, the Brotherhood is preparing for war with the Jedi." The Twilek began to feel bad for the drunken Jedi before her. She knew the highlights of his life, as she did that of most of the Jedi in the Empire, and knew his proclivities towards self destruction. His blank eyes, however, suddenly drew to a focused gaze at the mention of war.
"Ah, ah. If yous would be so...so...nice as to get old man Angelo on the comm...?" The Arkanian, blind and incompacitated as he was, could still sense a sudden change in Janiss' demeanor. "What is it, m'lady? Your blood has run as cold as mine."
"Sir...Master Dante was killed several months ago."
The Jedi said nothing, but then again he didn't need to. It took mere seconds for his face to go through a complete range of emotions and back again. The tearful drunk quickly turned into a vengeful, abusive brute as he swipped a stack of datapads off the desk, spreading them across the busy Palace floor. The Arkanian's four digit claws rubbed his bare head several times over as he tried to come to grips with the loss.
Kael looked at Janiss with a sober embarrasment, so as to say "I'm sorry" without having to pronounce the words. After a few glances around for direction, Fayne stormed off in silence towards one of the Palace's inner hallways.
Rayne, Aedile of the House as well as the only female Firrerreo in the Dark Brotherhood, was no stranger to the ravages of war, the thought of her lightsaber tasting blood once again brought a clarity to her vision, sounds sharpened to a keen pitch, and the caress of air sent a subtle chill up her spine. She felt a rush of excitement and her right hand ached the grasp her lightsaber once again in combat.
She suddenly dwelt on the enormity of the situation. Thousands of men, hundreds of vehicles, almost a million tons of supplies, the logistics alone were staggering. She disguised the momentary look of anxiety with a brave smile and nodded to her superior standing next to her, Xen'Mordin.
"Xen, don't worry about the Warspite. I'll take good care of her. She won't get a scratch." Rayne winked with a slight nod.
Rayne then turned to her husband. A juggernaut of a man, she had to look up to meet his gaze. She didn't speak a word and neither did he. They knew the magnitude of what was to come, as always. She tapped her temple with her fingertip, a mutual signal for him to keep in touch through the Force.
With that, she left Xen's office, heading for her quarters. She touched her ear where her comlink lay mostly concealed and called directly to her apprentice to meet her at her quarters. She accessed a panel hidden in the corner, causing a section of the wall, previous unremarkable to slide away into a hidden recess. Her personal armory lay before her. Dozens of pistols, of every make and size, lined one of the walls. Opposite, she had arranged a rack which was now almost over burdened with the amount of swords it was allowed to hold, but directly in front of her, hung her primary battle attire. A composite reinforced leather suit, form-fitting and sporting a range of shades, varying from pale gray to black, gleamed in the pale blue moonlight. She donned the suit, taking special care to tighten each strap in turn. She slung her pistol belt around her shapely hips, and slide her prized DH-17 into its holster. She clipped her father's staffsword into a specially designed scabbard in the small of her back.
The door signal chimed once, intruding on her solemn ritual, with a sigh of exacerbation, she clipped her lightsaber to her belt. Her eyes fell upon her final garment. It was her finest protection, stronger than any armor. She slipped her hood over her head once again shrouding her face in a veil of shadow. Her full lips creased into a smile as she gazed at her reflection in a nearby mirror. Death had never looked so alluring.
The door chimed again. She spun on her heals and with the flick of her hand, the door slide open. Beyond, her apprentice, Shadow Nighthunter, stood in the doorway. She was a Human and almost as tall as Rayne with long brown hair. Anticipation was obvious in her golden eyes.
"Shadow, are you prepared for your first taste of combat?" Rayne said, her voice etched with excitement. Shadow nodded, words escaping her as she witnessed her Master's transformation from a noble Sith into an Imperial assassin.
"Well then let's go." Rayne smiled brazenly.
Rayne swept out of the room with Shadow following. She raised her hand to her ear, activating her comlink, keying it to the bridge of the Warspite. The voice of the Captain of the Imperial Star Destoyer filled her ear.
"Yes, my lady?"
"Warspite, this is Rayne. Captain, take on supplies, recall your men, and prepare to make way in the morning. I'll be arriving shortly" she said stoically.
"Aye, my lady" was the reply.
Rayne stopped at a turbolift and turned to Shadow, a wicked smile on her lips.
"Come Shadow, we will use one of Xen's private shuttles. He won't need all of them where we're going.
Reiden Karr stood with the other gathered leaders and advisors of Scholae as they listened to the news of war that was being delivered. He had always been suspicious of the Dark Council’s decision to allow the group of Light-siders to become a part of the Brotherhood and that it was simply a matter of time until war eventually broke out. He watched the faces of those around him carefully, noting how each reacted. He saw many familiar faces here: Xen’Mordin, Archangel, Rayne, Rasilvenaira, and Xantros; he also saw some less familiar ones. He scanned those faces as well until his gaze finally settled on one countenance in particular: Kell Dante, the son of his murdered master, Angelo Dante. Before his mind began to wander, his attention snapped back to the present as he heard his name mentioned and turned to look at Archangel.
He nodded at the giant of a man, “Thanks Arch, I appreciate it. I’ll do whatever I can to help out.” He cleared his mind and called upon the long-suppressed fury he’d had ever since news of his master’s death reached his ears. Eyes now full of fire, he cracked his neck and grinned, “Now, let’s do this.”
As he’d been standing there his hand had unconsciously drifted to rest on the hilt of his lightsaber, which he felt reassuring and gave him strength, as this was only the second time he would be tested in the field of battle during wartime on such a large scale. He was eager to prove himself once again, but he would remain cautious and alert at all times. Although the man was now dead, Reiden would be sure not to disappoint his master; he would fight for the empire with all the strength he could summon, and then some.
The Tie Phantom glided into the hanger, repulsor lifts howling as the ship set down in an empty slot amidst the other warbirds. As soon as the landing struts hit permacrete the engines shut down, and the ambient noise in the cavernous hall was reduced to the level of the bustling work crews working to ready the fleet. The deck officer jogged from his office to the new arrival just as the canopy popped open, and the black-robed figure leapt the three meters to the ground.
Daros Mitre snapped to attention. "Draco, its good to have you back."
The haunted eyes of the dark Jedi briefly scanned the room before resting on the officer. "I wish I could say I was glad to be back, Captain. Weren't you a lieutenant last time I saw you?"
The man smiled. "Yes sir."
"Congratulations. Hard work pays off. Sometimes." Maligo strode off toward the corridor connecting to the rest of the palace, the welcome heft of his lightsaber knocking against his thigh on each step.
Mitre hurried to keep pace. "Are you back for the war?"
"But how . . ? They said you were out of contact."
The green eyes, shining from the shadows of the hooded cloak, locked onto the Captain's for a moment. "Gearing up for war sends tension through the Force, like the gentle strumming of a Hassarian war harp. I will always be sensitive to its strident tunes. The Empire graciously allows me a great deal of freedom, but whenever they need me I'll be here."
"Um, should we fuel and prep your ship?"
Draco thought for a moment. "Yes, but don't make it a priority. I feel I'll be with the infantry. I usually am." And the black-clad Krath paced quickly away toward the administrative center.
* * *
The musty corridors were unusually busy with the various dark Jedi, military personnel, and administrative beings rushing to fulfill their duties. Draco spotted the green-skinned Duro heading in his general direction. Their eyes met, and the two Krath halted.
"Maligo, nice of you to show. Come back for a moment of glory?" the battle team leader said.
Draco smiled mirthlessly. "There is no glory in war. Only the hell you can make for your enemies. Don't try to provoke me. The Jedi are neither as weak nor as foolish as you'd like to believe. You'll have your hands full with them without conducting a feud with me, Xantros."
"While you've been gallivanting around the galaxy there have been important matters to attend to here."
"There have been no important matters since the Cause was destroyed. It's 'all hands on deck' now, and I'm here. I don't want to keep you from your important duties, so why don't you just give me my assignment and go on your happy way?" the Priest said.
Xantros shook his head. "Just be in the hanger in three hours, ready to go."
As Xen paced his office, the bleep of the communication suite drew his attention. Activating it, he saw the holographic figure of a servant. “Your Majesty, someone is trying to form a connection to you from Lyspair, using the outdated codes. Your orders Sire?”, the servant asked, in a slightly shaking voice. “Allow the connection, before patching us through, could you get me a list of which of our members is on Lyspair at the moment?”, the Sovereign responded. “That is easily answered Sire, we recalled our students and those who were there to hone their skills seven hours ago. The only ones still there are those who are part of the Staff and I have that listing before me now.” The fear in her voice was like a fine wine to Xen’Mordin, knowing that he was the one instilling it, “Well don’t dawdle, who do we have on Staff there?” “Of…Of course Sire,” the woman audibly stuttered, faced with the burning eyes of her Overlord “Mistress Arania Lawakiro Palpatine, who should be there, though we cannot guarantee her exact location at this time or even if she is on Lyspair at all. Then there is Pontifex RevengeX who should be on Lyspair at this time, yet again, we cannot with absolute certainty ascertain his exact location. Oh and then there is the Archpriest, your predecessor, Professor Ood Bnar Scythe’rae, who we have the exact whereabouts of. One of our Apprentices claims he helped Master Scythe’rae with carrying documents into one of the private Staff libraries before being recalled here.” “Patch the connection through instantly! I have been trying to contact Ood since the word came, it must be him! It simply must!”, the Sith’s voice roared. Turning from his desk to the expensive priority projection suite the old Neti had bought and installed, he waited for a few seconds, until the lifesized appearance of the subject of his thoughts materialised as charged photons filled his considerable bulk.
“You requested my guidance Xen?”, the deep rumbling voice echoed slightly through the room, making the Quaestor remember the past. He really ought to figure out how the Neti threw his voice like that, it could be handy to discipline the Journeymen, “Yes my friend, we have been ordered to gather the fleet and move to New Tython. It seems the Grand Master grows tired of our Light Allies.” “Indeed he does? It is as it was foreseen then, have you considered this may have been the plan all along? He’s uniting the Houses behind his banner, focusing us on a common foe, with him as our undisputed Lord and Master…”, the old being whispered, drawing Xen to lean in reflexively. “I’ll beg my pardon of Master Taigikori, gather my research and be awaiting the transportation you’ll have undoubtedly prepared to pick me up. Oh and your Majesty?”, the Archpriest continued on, far louder then needed, making the Quaestor draw back, slightly shocked by the outburst, “Yes Ood, what is it?”
“See if you can’t gather me some Krath Sorcerers, I’ve been waiting to try out some of the more destructive Krath Magicks and would like to see if I can create illusions in the minds of our foes from within a Force Meld. Let’s face it, when will I have a better chance at such an experiment then when we’re at war? I’d prefer 6, two of which with at least a second echelon education in the arts…”, the Krath Professor seemed far more excited at the prospect of his experiment then at the idea of fighting Jedi. “Oh and … Sire, will I be stationed aboard your vessel or do you plan to give me a command of my own? I don’t mind either way but if you do give me a ship, make sure I have a decent second in command. If this experiment is to work, then I’ll need my concentration focussed elsewhere for rather long periods of time. So let’s give a lower brother, the chance to command and gain prestige.”
“I’ll send you a ship, Ood. It will be excellent to have another subordinate I can trust fully trust!” the Sith responded. “Trust, are you a Jedi my friend?” Ood replied, smiling deviously, “And nice reaffirmation of your authority, it seems someone taught you well! I must be on my way and settle my affairs on this end though Xen, I’ll be with you shortly.”
Entrance to the Staff Wing of the Shadow Academy, Lyspair
“Ronovi? There you are! I need to see the Master quite urgently.”, the Neti spoke, as he forced his way through a group of giggling students, ‘How our standards have sunk’ rushing through his, formidable, mind as he did so. “What is the matter Professor Scythe’rae?”, the Praetor inquired, blocking his path with her lithe form. “I have been recalled to active duty it seems… And am hear to beg pardon of the Headmaster to follow these orders.”, it seems the Iron Throne is going to war. Now where is our illustrious leader?” “As usual, at this time, he is in his private meditation room. You know the way, don’t you?” the Arconan responded as she stepped out of his path. “Indeed, we spent many an hour in there when we were discussing the future of this Academy.”, the Archpriest stated as he rushed by.
Headmaster’s Private Meditation Chamber, Lyspair
“You required my attention, my very, very old friend?”, the mechanical drone of the Headmaster’s voice reached his ears even as he moved to enter. At that level of power, no Councillor would be surprised by the arrival of a mere Staff member. Indeed, it paid off to sit at the side of the Dark Lord. Just thinking of those locked archives and artefacts made the Neti salivate. “Indeed Master Aybara, I have been recalled to my House. It seems the Throne declared war on the Light Siders and I’ve been summoned to his Imperial Majesties side.”
“You are the last to leave my friend, the Docents left yesterday and the other Professors earlier today. The only ones here to mind the Initiates are the Magistrates, Praetor and myself. And I am not sure how long even we will remain.”, the Headmaster declared, in his harsh voice, “Yet, you are the only one who is either courteous enough or old fashioned enough to come and ask permission to leave your post. We shall have to remedy that after this conflict.” “Of course my Headmaster, I assume I have your clearance to leave once my transport arrives?” the Archpriest requested. “indeed you have, now do tell me. It can’t be this war that has you giddy. What is causing your mind, formidable as it is, to jump around like a Gungan on stims, or even a Cathar on Catnip?”
“You will be interested to know that I am planning to conduct an experiment which may alter the way we look at the warfare sir. I intend to form a cohort of seven Krath Sorcerers and discover if it is indeed possible to use Illusion to boost our ranks from within a Force Meld. I am hoping to replicate the effect created during the Great Hyperspace War when the Dark Lord Naga Sadow meditated from a sphere and increased the numbers of his army by sheer force of will. Though since I am not a Dark Lord, I will have to use a Force Meld to boost my power. You will have a written report on your desk after this conflict has been resolved, my Master.” The Neti stated, explaining the details behind his experiment. “And if the events don’t loan themselves to that effect?” the human questioned. “Well Master Aybara, then I shall have to gather some Sorcerers from amidst the Staff and find ourselves a nice civil war to play with…”, as both figures laughed the Headmaster’s focus was once more drawn inward. Leaving the room and his Headmaster in a respectful silence, the Neti returned to his office to gather his belongings for the coming battle. “Now where did I put that lightsaber? I’m sure I saw it in here somewhere, three months ago…”, was all that could be heard from him as the sounds of shuffling papers and holobooks filtered from behind his office door.
Eetherbiail sat on a balcony outside of the building of the residencies. He was meditating when something intense rippled through the force, breaking his concentration. Sighing heavily, Eether sat at the edge of the balcony, feet dangling off the end as he surveyed the landscape. Creatures flew around the air despite the ever growing commotion below them on the ground. People sprinted around like tulgah's with their heads cut off. He watched some ships come in and out of the hangar and noticed one in particular, Draco Maligo's ship. He recalled a distant memory of the ship, he did not expect to see it again anytime soon.
Eether thought to himself Hm...so it looks like the wandering priest is back, wonder what he's been up to He had left his comm in his quarters. Not entirely sure what was going on, but he knew that he would most likely be needed in Xen's office.
Slowly but steadily, Eether stood up and absent minded checked his hip where his lightsaber rested, double checking it didn't fall off to the ground below. Opening the door and striding through, Eether pulled his hood up over his head and avoided bumping into people in the hall as they raced off to their stations, packing belongings and getting their preparations done.
As he strode through the hall, Eether bumped into Reiden, one of the few other Dark Jedi Knights here in Scholae Palatinae. Reiden looked almost gleeful with the look on his face. Most likely excited about the what ever it is that everyone is so excited about... Eether thought.
He rolled his eyes at him, "Excited I take it then Rei?"
"Heck yeah!" Reiden replied, they fell in step together in silence, both deep in thought. "Aren't you excited Eether? This will be our second battle confrontation while in the Brotherhood, but this one will be so much bigger than the Vendetta. We are going to war against those Jedi"
Stopping mid-step to let Janiss Reklin pass them and quickly, backing up against the wall she ran past him. Turning back to Reiden, finally replying, "War Huh? No...not really. With more war comes more death. With confrontation, comes backlash. The people you see here, our friends, family and comrades, not all of them will return you know. Sure, I do love battle, but the end result is not always what we wish. Sadly it is what i learned when my planet was invaded and my family killed, it is a part of life, but not one in which I relish it all the time."
With a heavy heart, they bade each other good bye. Reiden barley holding back skipping down the hall in joy.
After walking for some time, taking detours as to not get in other people's way, Eether made his way towards his Emperor'soffice. Stepping up to the door and knocking twice, Eether went in. Kneeling down on one knee and bowing his head towards his former master and now great friend, Xen'Mordin.
"Ah there you are Eether, you missed the meeting." Xen glowered down at him slightly.
"Sorry sir, I did not have my comm on me and was meditating, disconnected myself from everything in the present." Eether stood and nodded at Xen, "Where do you need me?"
"Right now I am not too sure, just go make preparations and be ready to leave first thing in the morning alright? I have so much work I need to take care of right now." Sighing heavily, Xen sat down and looked at some paperwork, dismissing Eether with a wave of his hand. "Alright sir, I will have my comm on me at all times now, if you need me, just send a message my way.
Bowing once more, Eether left the office and went to go make preparations of his own, taking care of some last minute business and got set to work.
Akatsuki stood off to the side observing the growing group. She was seeing senior Dark Brothers and sisters appearing; the stuff of legends. She began to feel quite green in the midst of these seasoned veterans and looked around more to distract her self. She once again glanced over at Rasilvenaira. She knew Ras was a Sith Battlelord, but there was something that felt familiar and very Krath about the way she was in the corner, silently observing. The Jedi Hunter approached her dark sister, and in respect bowed her head, "Hello Ras. Are you ready?" Akatsuki whispered. "Yes, I know…it's a rhetorical question. Wouldn't it be a hoot if I draw first blood?" Akatsuki's tone, a bit too perky, as usual, annoyed the Sith, who responded with a low growl.
Deciding that standing by Stormraven wasn't the smartest of ideas, Akatsuki went close to Xantros. As her direct superior, she felt more comfortable in offering him whatever assistance she could. She waited for a break in the many conversations the Dark Jedi Knight was having. “Excuse me, Xantros?” Akatsuki approached him with all of the fortitude she had. “I have been studying in the Force and working on my Krath powers, as you advised, as well as taking a variety of classes at the Shadow Academy.…and well, I just want to assure you; whatever you need me to do, I will do it.”
Xantros eyed her sternly, but then the look softened a bit. “You have been working very hard, Aka. This is what all the dedication and time invested was for. War. It is possible that you may die. The reason I suggested to train and learn more, focusing on the Force, is so you may be that Krath you are destined to be. Stay close by; I will be giving you some assignments shortly.”
Akatsuki stayed a bit behind the Tetrarch. She pulled her hood up and low over her face then remained still. Using her excellent vision and acute hearing she was learning many new things through simple observation. The one thing she knew for certain: knowledge is power…and this gathering contained plenty of both.
Xen took a deep sharp inhale and then slowly exhaled. His office had been a revolving door since the announcement. Leaders and friends, some he had not seen for a long time, had begun to flock to the capital. More were en route as well. He pushed a button on his comm device.
“Eelysa. I need a moment of your time.”
In less than a minute the main door to the Emperor’s Quarters opened, and in stepped Eelysa. Xen motioned for her to take a seat.
“You know what must happen.” Xen said to his assistant. She nodded and remained silent. Xen paused for a moment and reached into concealed pocked in the breast of his robes.
“The final details are here. The people can never know what is happening, where we are going, what we are doing… who we are,” He emphasized on the last point with a solemn look deep into Eelysa’s eyes. She remained silent.
“Very well… For the Empire.” Xen said and waved a hand to motion her out of the room.
“Sir… And should something happen to…” Eelysa looked down, ashamed for even asking.
“The plans are there. This isn’t my first time in the pilot’s seat as it were. You know that. Should something happen. We have our measures. Just make sure Thran doesn’t drunkenly piss on my corpse at the memorial.” Xen said. Eelysa managed a slight smile. For a moment Xen felt pity at the burden she was going to have to bear while he and the rest of the house went off to heed the Iron Throne’s call. They stayed in silence for a moment.
“Very well sir. Good luck. May… uh the force be with you.” She said awkwardly and left the room. Xen stared out the window.
“It always is…” He whispered.
Hotel Weary Wookie
Eether was sound asleep in his rack. Xen looked down passively; his fingers tapping silently on the edges of a bucket. Xen’s mind wrestled, part wanting to give in to and enjoy the childish maneuver, another focused solely his duty and responsibility as Quaestor. Underneath were thoughts of the war, a lust for battle, a lust for that random citizen he had seen en route to here. Letting out a sigh, Xen threw the bucket of water on the sleeping Zeltron.
Eether shot up with a start screaming bloody murder and trying to reach for his lightsaber.
“Get up Eether, sleep is for the dead and you are going to help me with something.” Xen said mysteriously. Eether sputtered and stared up at his former Master.
“I was SLEEPING!” He responded as if Xen has completely lost all rationality. But he got out of bed and rushed to find dry clothing anyway.
“Your office?!?! You woke me up and dragged me to your office?!?! I was here earlier.” Eether protested. Xen smirked but remained silent. It took Eether a moment to get the point. After a moment he stopped arguing and let Xen speak.
“This war is… different. Different than anything you have ever experienced. You think you understand the force. You do not. And that right there is what is going to get you killed when we strike at New Tython.”
Eether looked down at his feet.
“Now that I have your attention. This is what is going to happen. You are going as part of my escort. Maybe you will even stay alive long enough to come back here.” Xen said and pushed some files to Eether before continuing, “I suggest you read up and memorize this information. I need a handy source for this stuff when we arrive. Now leave and prepare. Sleep does no one good this night. You can sleep en route to the rest of the Brotherhood’s fleet.”
The conversations around the war room turned toward the more political aspects, and Rasilvenaira decided it was time to leave. Politics always bored her. She glanced over, catching Xan’s eye and nodding toward the door. He returned the nod and turned to follow her out of the room.
Xan exhaled sharply once they were out in the corridor. He was an Obelisk, a man of action, not talk. He always hated meetings like that. He glanced over at his former apprentice.
“What are you up to, Ras?”
She tilted her head and smiled, “Up to? I’m not up to anything, why?”
He shook his head, “I know you too well. That slippery mind of yours is always plotting and planning something.”
The Battlelord shrugged. “I am a Sith, master.”
He sighed, “Yeah, I know. Surprised you haven’t tried to kill me yet.”
She smirked, “I don’t kill people I actually like, Xan.”
“I thought you liked your apprentices.”
“I do, until they get in my way.”
Xan paused and turned to face her. Rasilvenaira’s dark eyes were as unfathomable as ever, completely unreadable to anyone who didn’t know her well. However, over the years, he’d gotten used to the subtleties of the Sith. He could sense the ambitions she kept concealed.
“I think that’s the real reason you haven’t tried killing me, isn’t it?”
She leaned against the wall, folding her arms across her chest. “Xan, you know better. We’ve been through too much together, I have no reason to kill you. As for my plans, yes, I always have something in motion. If I didn’t, I’d get bored to easily.”
Xan nodded and they continued walking. Rasilvenaira looked over at him.
“I imagine you’ll be joining the ground assaults?”
He grinned, “Of course, that’s what I live for.”
“You could always join me.”
He shook his head, “Oh no, I’ve seen how you fly. I’m not flying with you on anything smaller than a Star Destroyer.”
The Sith laughed. She always enjoyed the opportunity to tease Xan about his dislike of flying. They walked on in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Rasilvenaira was looking forward to the War, but not for the same reasons others were. The Battlelord was no longer motivated by the simple concept of glory or honor. There was no glory in war, and honor was easily forgotten. But she would play her part as usual, fighting for the glory of the Empire. She’d seen enough conflicts to know the one common truth. People die. She knew that of course, having ended countless lives in one way or another. War, however was different from assassinations. The one thing she enjoyed most about a war is that one could easily engineer the right casualties, with a bit of planning. Xan was quite right, the Sith’s restless mind sifted through one plot after another as she walked. She wondered how many obstacles she’d be able to eliminate during the war, letting the enemy take the blame.
She had a second reason for enjoying the prospect of war. Rasilvenaira had spent many hours reconstructing and reprogramming her favorite IT droid. The sadistic part of her twisted mind looked forward to the chance to test its abilities on some unsuspecting Jedi. So many options and possibilities for torture existed; it was always disappointing when the subject died too quickly. That was what made Jedi so much more fun, they tended to be capable of resisting and surviving longer.
Thran hadn’t delayed a second in heeding the call of his Empire. He had been called to Judecca, far away from the relative safety of the holofilm studios in the inner rim worlds. Nevertheless, he was eager to defend the Empire. Between living the superficial and shallow lifestyle of a famous actor and the veiled secret life of a Sith, he was more than ready to release some of his pent up energy.
“Is everything ready, Em?” he asked quizzically.
“I’ve arranged for everything. Your shuttle leaves in 20 minutes, it will be transporting you to meet with the Black Aces. From there you are to rendezvous with the fleet. The rest is for your eyes only.” She replied, nervously.
“20 Minutes? So, I have time for a drink?” he replied, stepping over to a carafe of liquor.
“Are you sure it’s a good idea?” Emily Coral asked.
“What do you mean? The drink?” replying as he so often did with another question.
“Well, I couldn’t stop you could I?” she said.
“No, you could not. Neither can our enemies. Don’t worry, I’ll be back.” He said, slamming down a mouthful of liquor straight from the vessel.
“I’m not worried.” She said, as if taking some offense to the comment.
“Right, and I am actually going out there to fight for Xen…” he said, voice rich with sarcasm.
She let out a little laugh in an attempt to mask her nerves. Her eyes scanned him over. He was stoic and cold, but was seemingly filled with vigor and passion; a walking contradiction. He poured himself a real glass of the brandy, lifting it to his lips and staring out over the city of Ohmen. Silence held heavy in the air for what felt like forever, until he broke the silence.
“This war will redefine this Empire. It will change everything. It will change our youth, change our elders, and it will change me. I can feel it in my bones. Everything will change.” He said, pouring the last droplets of amber liquid into his mouth.
“You sound…” she spoke, unable to finish before he spoke again.
“Afraid?” He said. “I am. And I should be.”
1 hour later Above Judecca
“Roger, Ace One. You’re cleared for approach.” Chirped a mysterious voice over the intercom of the TIE Defender.
“Roger, Tower. Coming about to heading one-two-zero, preparing for landing.” He spoke.
The pilot’s fingers drifted over the buttons and nobs, preparing the vehicle to land aboard the gigantic star ship. His eyes drifted off into the stars, lost in their wondrous majesty. They instilled a quiet reverence within him. Another voice broke the silence, crackling over the radio.
“It’s good to have you back, Thran.” He said.
“Good to be back, Nichos.” He replied.
“Do you think that the Emperor will let you fly with us for the whole campaign?” the Commander asked
“I doubt it. He knows that he’ll need The Usurper. He’ll use me in some way or another.” Thran replied.
“To take care of the Jedi?” Nichos Dressadin asked.
“Something like that…” he replied.
Their conversation was cut short by the automated docking procedures of the Nebula Class Star Destroyer droning on. They had made this landing hundreds of time, it was routine. Each member of the Squadron took turns mocking the childish safety warnings. They were Defender pilots; headstrong, talented, and dangerous. The vessels drifted aboard, one by one, never breaking formation. As each triwinged fighter connected with the docking clamps, the final campy message rung out over their intercoms.
“Welcome aboard the Excidium, Ace Squadron. Enjoy your stay.”
The Indomitable. The mightiest jewel in the crown that was the Scholae Palatinae Fleet. Bristling with weaponry of an almost unimaginable destructive capacity, it orbited Judecca with impunity. It soared through the emptiness, like a skull white dagger through black velvet. It was a symbol of dominance and power, of Imperial fortitude and belief, and it could be used to bring yet another opponent to the Empire to their knees.
The Lambda-class shuttle lifted up from the Judeccan Military Complex with ease, it's folded wings hinging back into it's open position. It's vector slowly shifted towards the heavens, jetting towards the blackness and the spearhead of the fleet in orbit. The sight from the window would have been enthralling and mystifying, if the two occupants of the shuttle's passenger compartment cared to look.
“You would do well to steel yourself, Reiden” Archangel said, eyes closed as the turbulence bumped the shuttle slightly, his massive frame moving very little as a result. Reiden, on the other hand, bounced half out of his seat, saved only by the strapping on the seat. He shot a glare at the Battlemaster across from him, and pulled himself back into his seat.
“I didn't expect this ride to be as bumpy” he said, pulling the strapping tighter around him. Finally, the turbulence ceased, and the view through the window darkened considerably. An audible thunk, from just behind a nearby bulkhead, informed the passengers that the artificial gravity had engaged.
“I wasn't talking about the shuttle ride, Knight.”
He crossed his arms across his barrel-like chest, and pulled on his elbow gently. A resounding pop echoed throughout the cabin. He rolled his shoulder and smiled, satisfied with the effect.
“I'm not sure I understand what you mean, Master”
“Have you ever bombarded a planet, Reiden?”
His tone was grave, a husky darkness invading the clarity it usually maintained. His eyes, still closed, seemed to flick back and forth behind their eyelids, as if watching a memory. His brow furrowed with emotion. Was it pain? Regret?
“Have you ever ordered heavy turbolaser batteries to reduce entire settlements to dust? Have you ever watched as plumes of smoke rise from the vaporized earth where a regiment of soldiers had stood moments before?”
Reiden was silent. Though he was a Knight, capable and skilled in the Dark Arts, his experience of war was limited to ground warfare during a previous Vendetta. Ordering orbital bombardments were almost alien to him, and he had not considered their use or results before.
“No, master” he rasped, quietly, his throat suddenly dry.
“You will soon enough, Knight. Remember the feeling as the deck vibrates underneath your feet as the batteries begin their volleys. Remember the atmospheric disturbances caused by the super heated laser slicing through it. Remember the impact marks of our bombardments, and remember the lives taken. If we do not remember, Reiden, who will?”
Before Reiden could reply, the pilot chirped through the intercom that they were about to land on the Indomitable. Archangel stood, slightly hunched in the small cabin, and moved towards back ramp. It began to descend as the shuttle landed. As it touched down, Archangel strode forth, finally being able to stand at his full height once out from under the shuttle. A detachment of Expeditionary Force officers and the Captain of the Indomitable were there to meet him.
“My lord, welcome to the Indomitable. She is at your disposal”
“Very good, Captain. This Knight will be accompanying me. Accord him the same rights and privileges I have.”
“Of course, my lord”
“How are preparations coming?” Archangel said, clasping his hands behind his back as he began to walk across in front of the arrayed lines of EF officers. He had inspected them many times before, and his keen eye searched for anything out of place.
“Our supplies are halfway stored, and the last squadron of fighters will come aboard within the hour, my lord”
The captain was forward with the far more powerful Battlemaster, even so much as to walk beside him instead of a step behind. Archangel smiled, and stopped in front of a particularly young looking second lieutenant.
“And are our troops and vehicles aboard?” Archangel said, louder so the EF officers could here. One man, at the head of one of the lines, stepped forward and saluted.
“All present and accounted for, sir!”
“Excellent news. Colonel, Captain, prepare for war!”
Shadow Nighthunter, Protector of Scholae Palatinae and apprentice to Rayne, never thought that this day could come any sooner. She had been waiting for this moment for a long time. When she heard that war was declared against the Jedi, she couldn’t believe that the time had come. She had been seeking vengeance on the Jedi ever since that day two Jedi had taken away her lover. Now, she would have her chance to at least fight the Jedi.
When Rayne had asked her if she was ready for war, she wanted to shout to the whole universe that she indeed was, but she restrained that impulse to just a simple nod. She only wished she could have done the same when she witness the conversion of Rayne from a Sith to an Imperial Assassin. She only hoped that one day she would be just as powerful and skilled as her Master.
While in the turbolift, Shadow felt the urge to ask the one question that she had wanted to ask ever since she heard that the war was declared.
“You have a question, my apprentice?” Rayne asked Shadow.
Shadow realized that she should have hidden her thoughts and quietly cursed herself for it before answering.
“Yes, I do. I have been wondering about if I’ll even have a chance to perform in the war. I just don’t see what role I can play as a Protector…will I get to do anything at all?”
Rayne smiled, “You’ll have to wait and see, Shadow. Time will tell, but I’m sure you’ll play some sort of role in the war. I can feel your anxiousness for battle. Trust me, I know how you feel.”
Feeling a bit more relieved to at least hear that she would be of some use in the fight to come; Shadow smiled and straightened her shoulders.
“Whatever you duty you want me to perform, then so shall I carry out. Just say the word.”
Kazumi suddenly felt very nervous. Her heart started beating very fast. She felt a great feeling of tension in the Force. Something was wrong, but what? She knew the one person who could answer her questions would be her master, Rasilvenaira. She tried to calm herself as she went in search of Ras.
Passing people in the hallways, she heard some of them talking about how the House was preparing for War. Dumbfounded Kazumi stopped and stood stiffly. She was first nervous and surprised and said with a soft voice, “What? A war? Me? Fighting people that I don`t know? ” Her mouth was still open and she finally put a hand over her mouth. “ It can’t be. This must be a dream.” She began to smile and thought that she still in her bed and dreaming.
In her early training Kazumi had learned some about the last Wars the House had been in. This was something unusual to happen. There hadn’t been a War in over three years. She went on, continuing her search for Ras.
Kazumi came closer to the main hall and heard Ras’ voice as she spoke to Xan. Some of her master’s words made her even more nervous as she overheard the conversation-
“I know you too well. That slippery mind of yours is always plotting and planning something.”
“I am a Sith, master.”
“Yeah, I know. Surprised you haven’t tried to kill me yet.”
“I don’t kill people I actually like, Xan.”
“I thought you liked your apprentices.”
“I do, until they get in my way.”
That reminded Kazumi of stories she had heard of some of Rasilvenaira’s apprentices disappearing. She swallowed hard, but felt she could trust her master. She heard footsteps coming closer to her, and looked to see Rasilvenaira approaching.
“Ah, hello Kazumi. I imagine you were looking for me?”
Kazumi nodded, she had so many questions for Ras, she did not know where to begin. The Battlelord grinned and guided her apprentice back down the hallway.
“We’re going Jedi hunting, my apprentice. Time for you to put your training to the test.”
Xantros smiled with satisfaction, when the war meeting ended. He did not receive direct instructions about his assignment, but that only meant that he was free to decide on his on own. The decision was very hard to make. He could learn much, if he assisted one of the House leaders in their tasks as the commanders of expeditionary forces. However, he wished to test his abilities in heat of battle. Also, two thousand credits high prize on every lightsaber brought to the Dark Council was very tempting. Finally, he made his mind.
Xantros looked at Akatsuki, who was right behind him. Recently promoted Jedi Hunter was definitely eager to find herself in the battle. To test her body, skills and Force abilities. There was no better way to do that than to fight these, who might turn out to be match for the Dark Ones. Jedi.
"Akatsuki, do you want to have some fun?"
"Then, join me on the battlefield. I want to kick some Jedi butts, when we reach the surface of New Tython."
"Gladly, Xantros. Any suggestions on preparations?"
"Well, I don't want to misguide you in the matter of equipment. I have my own full power lightsaber, which I believe to be the best weapon against other Force users, like Jedi, but you don't. I can't really help you in this matter, as my view on this matter is somehow distorted by the years of wielding the lightsaber. I find it difficult to consider other types of weapons as useful against Jedi."
"I think I understand what you mean."
"Glad to hear that. However, I strongly recommend you to familiarize yourself with any intel data on House Odan-Urr and New Tython we have. Even if it's only the most general set of information about the planet and the Jedi House. You know that the knowledge is the key to power. If you know your enemy, you have achieved your goal in 70%, as you can come up with a way to defeat your enemy. If you do not know your enemy, your abilities, Force powers and physical attributes may not be enough to defeat your enemy. Bear that in mind."
"Yes, Tetrarch. Like you, I am Krath, after all."
"That is correct. Both of us are members of Caliburnus and we serve as the intelligence unit of Scholae Palatinae. Knowledge is our utmost power. Knowledge is our best weapon. Do you understand it, Akatsuki?"
"Then, go and get yourself ready now. I'll contact other members of Caliburnus to see, if they want to join us."
For couple of moments, Xantros observed Akatsuki moving quickly through the corridors to get some weapons for the ground battle. The Dark Jedi Knight needed nothing more than his lightsaber, E-11 blaster rifle and some thermal detonators. He always kept his lightsaber attached to his belt and he could obtain the other things from the armory aboard one of the ships of Scholae Palatinae Navy.
According to Xantros' knowledge, all members of Caliburnus, apart from Archpriest Ood Bnar Scythe'rae, who temporarily stationed on Lyspair, were present on Judecca. He focused and sent a message through the Force, asking all members of the Battleteam to meet him in a hangar bay, if they were interested in fighting along him on the fields of New Tython. It would be good to get aboard the same ship, after all. Though not all members of Caliburnus were able to respond in the same manner, Xantros was sure that all of them received his telepathic message.
Now, it was time to get ready for transport aboard one of the ships in the fleet.
Infuriated at his former master, Eether grudgingly wiped his hair and face with the irritating fluffy towel....it just had to be fluffy. He had finally fallen asleep after believing that preparations had been completed and shut his mind off to get a few hours shut eye before the heat of the war finally dawned upon them all.
He had listened to Xen's words carefully analyzing everything with details and outcomes. Wiping off his hands to make sure they were dry, Eether picked up the stack of papers and folders that Xen pushed at him. He quickly rifelled through them and made note of which were the highest importance and which could be sorted out later, he stacked them in the order of importance and looked back up to his master.
"You are going as part of my escort. Maybe you will even stay alive long enough to come back here." Eether took a quick sharp breath. hm...escort...well I guess I was expecting that.
"Yes sir, I'll make you proud." Eether said.
"Good, you are dismissed. I will see you first thing in the morning, make sure you are prepared, because there is absolutely NO going back once we depart." Xen waved his hand at the door and sat at his desk. He let out a sigh as Eether left the door, sitting heavily at his desk, with even more piles of paper than he had given Eether.
Eether popped his head head back into the door and spoke to Xen, "By the way....you sir are a jerk, just thought you should know."
As he started to close the door again, Eether threw the soaked towel in Xen's general direction. Making sure to throw it over the paperwork so he wasn't going to get killed before the war even started, smacked Xen in the face as he looked up at the inquire. Eether quickly left to the sounds of Xen cursing at him, he imagined Xen shaking his fist angrily but laughing about it all the same.
Two hours later
Hotel Weary Wookie
With the desk lamp on, papers sprawled across his desk, Eether had gained so much information on the files provided. He had learned many of the leaders in Odan-Urr, their styles, as well as many of their abilities that the Brotherhood knew about them. Their preferences and habits. He would be ready to assist Xen in this war.
Eether didn't like the thought of what was to come as he leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms and legs. It was roughly three hours or so until he had to meet with Xen and the rest of the guard onto what ever ship they were designated. Drinking more caf, Eether got to work on the second half of the paperwork that Xen had given him.
Around an hour later, Eether couldn't stare at the paper any longer. He stood up, grabbed his cup of caf and exited his room, wandering the halls. In the late morning, there were very few people roaming the halls. All looked exhausted, either grunting in acknowledgement or nodding slightly.
Eether came across a pair silently conversion in the corner. He recognized the taller one easily, Eether stepped up to them, "Well hello Ras, I do hope I'm not intruding."
Their conversation broke swiftly as they each turned towards him, "Well hello Eether. I'm just explaining some things to Kazumi here. How are you?"
"Oh...I guess I'm alright, reading stacks of paperwork that Xen gave me to study on Odan-Urr. Are you per chance busy? I'm taking a little break from memorizing a lot of this information and could really use a break. Would you be interested in sparring a little?" He asked.
She stared at him for a few moments, finally grinning devilishly, "Why I would like that, it would get me warmed up for later today."
She turned to her apprentice Kazumi, "I will see you in a bit, it's time to show this guy who's in charge." With that, Eether and Ras turned to head to the sparring arena.
"I can't spar too long, I do have to get back to the last bit of paperwork. Though a short break shouldn't be too bad."
Aboard the ISDII Indomitable
Above Judecca, Cocytus System
Reiden quietly watched as Archangel walked with the captain of the Indomitable and inspected the men before falling into step behind them. He couldn’t help but take the time to quickly look over the men himself, if only for his own experience in hopes that he would be able to do so more effectively should he need to do so at some point in the future. Judging from the looks on their faces, the Battlemaster clearly held the respect of the men before him – as well as a scattering of fear from a few of them.
Reiden paused when Archangel finished speaking with the captain and the other men and turned to face him, with what Reiden could only think of as a look of amusement on his face.
“Reiden…I have a job for you.” the Sith said.
“Yes, master? What do you need me to do?” Reiden replied.
“Go inspect the turbolaser batteries and make sure everything is running smoothly. Once you’re done, join the captain and myself on the bridge.”
“Yes, master. I’ll check them out right away. You shall have my report momentarily,” Reiden bowed and then walked off.
Not sure where to go, he paused after leaving the hangar and asked a passing crew member where to find the batteries, as this was his first time being aboard a ship of this size. After getting directions, he made his way towards the batteries, trying to memorize the route he had taken so that it would be one less area of the ship to map out in his mind.
He finally wound his way to the right location and walked over to the batteries. A few nearby crew members had managed to summon the courage to talk to him, demanding to know what he was doing there. He simply grinned and stood facing them, making sure that his stance showed the lightsaber clipped to his belt.
“Surface Marshal Archangel had wanted me to inspect the batteries in preparation for the orbital bombardment on New Tython. Now, I must get back to work. So if you’ll excuse me I’ll do just that, unless perhaps you’d like to explain to the Surface Marshal why he hasn’t heard the results of the inspection yet?” Reiden said, a fiendish smile playing along his lips.
“N-No, sir, that won't be necessary! We’ll let you c-continue about your business now,” one crewman managed to stutter before hurrying off to complete his work, along with the others that had stopped to watch the exchange.
Reiden turned back to the batteries and carefully inspected them, making sure that there was nothing out of the ordinary. When he was done he made his way to the next battery and inspected them as well.
He then asked for directions from a crew member on how to reach the bridge, where he was to meet with Archangel and the captain. He quickly memorized the route there as he walked, taking note of his surroundings as he made his way to the entrance before walking up to Archangel and bowing.
“I have finished my inspections of the turbolaser batteries, my lord. Everything appears to be in perfect working order and ready for the orbital bombardment once we arrive at New Tython,” Reiden informed him.
“Glad to hear that. Good work, Reiden,” Archangel replied before turning to face the captain. “Captain, form up with the rest of the fleet and complete all final preparations for departure. We need to be ready for anything the very instant we come into range of New Tython. There is no room for error here; we are at war.”
“Yes, my lord,” the captain said, saluting Archangel curtly before turning to the rest of the crew on the bridge. “You heard him men. Join with the rest of the fleet and get into position!”
Reiden watched through the viewport as the Indomitable began its carefully-maneuvered path to form up with the rest of the fleet above Judecca. He was surprised at the almost elegant movements of the ship, not expecting something so large to be able to move so fluidly. He knew that this was most likely due to the crew’s constant practice of such maneuvers, but he was surprised and impressed nonetheless. He would soon experience another taste of war, and he only hoped that his performance would make his House proud.
Face of the Duro Dark Jedi Knight expressed no feelings, when he left the shuttle. Finally, he and his fellow Dark Brethren were aboard one of the ships of Scholae Palatinae Navy. They were going to set off to New Tython as soon as possible, in no more than an hour. It was the war. Xantros looked at Akatsuki, who walked on his right, slighlty behind him. He could sense a mix of feelings, coming from her mind.
"Do you fear, Akatsuki?"
"A bit, Tetrarch. I have never been involved in the war like this. I do not know what to expect."
"I know what you mean. I've taken part in several large scale conflicts during my life. However, this is much different and we fight strange enemies."
"You seem to be worried, Xantros. What do you mean by 'strange enemies'?" asked Akatsuki.
"Yes, I am worried, my dear. What is more, I am afraid of the upcoming battle. We fight strange enemies. Theoretically, the Jedi are our sworn enemies. We should have no doubts, when eradicating them. However, I feel that this War has a deeper meaning. I believe that there is something happening behind the scenes. Also, while the Jedi are definitely inferior to us and the Light Side of the Force is inferior to the Dark Side, the battle with them is always dangerous. Many Dark Jedi shall die in order to achieve the goals of the Dark Council. I fear that one of the victims will be you."
"Me? Why are you afraid of that?"
"I...believe that...you have...great potential, Akatsuki," said Xantros, seemingly intending to say something else, "Our House...and me... would suffer great lose, if you died during the battle against the Jedi of House Odan-Urr. I don't think we can allow ourselves on such a lose."
"I understand, Xantros."
The group of the Dark Jedi continued their quick march to the command bridge in silence. Finally, some time later, they reached it. Xantros walked to the commanding officer and said, "Hail the Indomitable at once!"
"I am here to command, not you!" the officer was definitely not happy with the tone of Xantros' voice.
"Shall we wait for Marshal Archangel to hail us? He knows, we should be here right now and he does not like if his time is wasted. I hope you will find an excuse, which will be less lame than 'it's my seat, not his'. You would not be here, if you were not a professional after all!"
"Yes...sir. I understand." stuttered the officer. "Hail the flagship!"
Few seconds later, the image of the Indomitable command bridge appeared on the holoscreen.
"Marshal, the intelligence squad reports for duty! We are at your services."
"Glad to hear that, Xantros. Perfect timing, I must admit."
"You know our unofficial motto, Make them wait!?"
"Yeah. We are almost ready to set off. Get yourself and your comrades ready! Indomitable out!
Xantros nodded and when the transmission ended, he smiled to himself. They were finally setting off to deal with these pathetic Jedi, who somehow sneaked into the ranks of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. They shall learn the wrath of the Dark Side!
NSD Excidium II
The shuttle landed with a soft thud. There was a familiar hiss as the door cracked open and the ramp lowered. Xen stayed seated for a moment. He glanced over at Eether who shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
“Anxious?” Xen asked. Eether nodded.
“Excited. This is real now.” Eether added. Xen understood. He remembered the wars he had fought in. You could prepare all you want, nothing could stop the excitement of heading out to the battlefront.
“Attention!” A voice rang loud and clear from outside the ship. “The Emperor is on board.”
Xen stood and walked to the doorway, the hanger was spotless and rows of soldiers stood at attention. Xen walked briskly down the ramp.
“Sir,” came a familiar voice. Xen smiled.
“Admiral Sommetra, I trust everything is going well?” He asked earnestly. Admiral Sommetra had been serving the might of the Empire for a longer than most had even been a member.
“As well as it can be. The fleet stands ready for war, by your command.” She said. My command. The command of the Iron Throne is more like it. We all have our masters. Xen thought to himself.
“I am ready to escort you to the bridge sir,” Ail’en Sommetra said. Xen nodded and motioned to Eether to keep up.
NSD Excidium II
Xen glanced around at the screens showing the positioning of the fleet. The Warspite, its escorts, and Rayne were to the right. The Indomitable, its escorts, and Archangel were to the left. Out of the windows of the bridge Xen saw parts of the Excidium’s own escort, the Dauntless and the Conqueror.
The bridge was alive with activity, finalizing prep-work for the jump out to New Tython. The last of supplies and soldiers were now arriving on all ships in the fleet. These soldiers had played this game before, watching them was like watching a well-oiled machine do its job, automatic and precise.
“War.” Xen said to Eether as he marveled at officers on the bridge. “We go to war.”
Akatsuki listened intently as Xantros spoke, “Our House...and I... would suffer a great loss, if you died during the battle…” she knew her superior was meaning something underneath that statement, he often spoke in riddle. ‘Was she going to be trusted with some weaponry? Was she going to have to go to the front lines to fight? Would her budding abilities in psychological warfare be put to the test?’ These things were racing through the Jedi Hunter’s mind.
‘I am on my own.’ Akatsuki thought, ‘Master Valkas isn’t around…he has been preparing me for battle though, he and his teachings are within.’ “Xantros,” Akatsuki spoke boldly, “I don’t fear dying, my mentors and Master have been preparing me for these days of bloodshed…it will not be my blood that is shed.”
Akatsuki waited until the Tetrarch was finished barking information at other members of the group. She proceeded to show her leader what she’d gathered. “For weaponry, I’ve selected a Krath War Blade and a fibercord whip. I also will carry an Armory Lightsaber. I have this huge stack of paperwork that is research on the Jedi, plus my own notes from when I spied…Master Valkas gave me all of his research as well, hence why the stack is large. I am at an advantage over the rest of you on the layout of the ground though Xan…have you forgotten that New Tython’s forests and jungles are much like home? This is like fighting on home turf!”
Xantros blinked, a little shocked at the boldness of Akatsuki’s words and her thorough preparation. “I see you have prepared. Good, let today be the day the Jedi learn of your wrath, show them why you’re a part of the brotherhood…Akatsuki….remember your loss….”
Fire welled up behind Akatsuki’s eyes and she growled a growl unheard by her peers and mentors. “I will remain with you during this mission Xantros, and do as asked. However, this will be the moment that all will see they’ve underestimated me. I intend on drawing first blood.”
Thran tucked his flight helmet under his arm as he stepped into the turbolift. The small lift made him feel slightly claustrophobic for a fleeting moment. The doors slid open and he stepped onto the bridge of the Excidium. He expected everyone on the deck to turn and salute. They didn’t.
It had been over two years since Occasus was the sovereign of the Empire and for all of his time on the Throne, he had been quickly forgotten. He felt like throwing one of his famous temper tantrums, but he held himself. Something about being replaced so readily bothered him immensely. His lips drew taught, holding back his discontent with the proceeding on the bridge. Though he was no longer the Emperor, the men could show respect for the House’s Top Ace pilot.
In all the years he’d fought for the Empire, for all the blood he had spilled, he earned the right to be acknowledged. Then again, he had abandoned the Empire after nearly bankrupting the treasury, perhaps the busyness of the bridge was their way of showing how they felt betrayed by him. Then a thought crept into his mind. It was a small seed of a thought, but enough to shake the Warlord. Perhaps, he thought, he was just not that important anymore.
His emerald eyes darted around the room as he tried to shake the thought. He gripped his helmet a bit tighter, as he stepped forward to meet Xen and a Journeyman he did not recognize. The Knight was a Zeltron. He was handsome, even by his people’s standards. It only added to Thran’s discontent with this situation. He eyed the redskinned man, then turned to the Emperor.
“Xen.” Thran said nodding to him.
The Emperor did not expect the Bakuran to pass along pleasantries. In fact, Xen partly expected the Warlord to draw his weapon. He put his hand to his saber, as a precaution.
“Relax, Xen. If I were going to kill you, you’d be dead already.” He said, calming the Emperor’s nerves.
“Thran…This is Eetherb-“ the Emperor said, cut off before he could finish the introduction.
“I don’t care who it is. The Aces are on standby. We’ll be ready to fly at the fleet’s command.” Spoke Thran, his voice dripping with an easily detestable arrogance.
“Good. Am I to expect that you will be flying alongside them? Or have you become rusty during your time away?” Xen said, fully intending to dent Thran’s ego.
Thran didn’t dignify the comment with a response. He looked to the knight again, scoffing as he did so. He postured himself, peacocking as it were. The Zeltron’s eyes met Thran’s. Occasus let out a slight chuckle and turned back to the Emperor.
“We were born ready for war. Unless, the Throne requires some extra bodyguards…ones who could actually protect you, I will be flying alongside my boys.” The fighter jockey said, repositioning his helmet.
“What’s your problem?” Eether snipped.
Xen put his arm between the two men, as they both took a step towards each other. The two backed off, snorting as if they were two prized bulls.
“No, Thran…That will be all. Should I need something else from you, I will contact you personally.” The Emperor said, dismissing him.
Thran turned, fuming from the gall shown by the knight in challenging him. He marched off, back to the lift. He stepped inside the tiny box. As the lift whirred to life, his communicator chirped. He looked at it, it was a call from home. He lifted the device to his mouth.
“Go for Thran.” He said.
The voice of a girl came back to him, soft and sweet.
“Daddy, you’re so lame.” She said.
“Hey baby, why are you calling?” he replied.
“Miss Coral won’t let me go to the school dance on Friday. She says that I’m not ready to dance with boys.” She said, whining her complaints.
“Then just sneak out…” Thran said, forgetting to whom he was speaking. He caught himself. “Wait...Boys?No! Umm…You’re grounded.”
“What!? Daddy that’s not fair, you get to go out and have fun. I have to stay here all weekend?” she said.
“I’m not having fun, my sweet. Daddy has been called up by the Empire…They need me to fly for them.” Thran replied.
“The Empire? Is Ras there? Does she know what you did?” the child asked in rapid succession.
“I don’t know, Jasmin. Look, I have to go…We’ve got pre-flight checks to complete.” He said.
“Alright, Daddy. I’m going to the dance anyway. Happy hunting, Daddy. I love you.” She said.
He sighed, his daughter was so valuable to him that he’d been forced to hide her for years. The child was growing up and that fact scared him more than any enemy pilot could. He mustered the strength to reply.
“I love you too, baby. Be safe. Don’t do anything that I would do…you understand?” he said somberly
Xan smiled at his apprentice.
“Seems like we have some company”. Nodding over to Kazumi.
Rasilvenaira sighed. “I’ll talk to you later, Xan”
Xan smiled once more and nodded, then made his leave as Ras and Kazumi walked down the hall.
War. The word itself invigorated Xan. The fast pace of hand to hand combat, the sweat, adrenaline, fluidity and chaos of ground conflict is what Xan lived for, bled for, annihilated for. Xan smiled to himself as he tried to count how many jedi he’d ruthlessly killed in combat, but honestly, the number was far too great to recollect.
Xan made his way towards his quarters, passing many busy looking individuals going about the preparations for the upcoming conflict. He recognised a few, and shot a few nods of recognition, but hadn’t the time to stop and talk. After a few more minutes of walking, Xan finally arrived at his quarters. He sighed and entered his cozy abode, into silence. It was always nice, so quiet, an excellent environment for his meditations. He always liked to meditate before a major conflict, but he was already almost out of time before his ship left. Xan gathered what he needed, and stopped for a minute to recollect his thoughts.
Xan let out a slow, deep breath, and reached for his lightsaber. The weight of the hilt, the shape, the ease it slipped into his hands made him feel whole. Xan smiled and ignited his saber, observing the radiant yellow color on his surroundings. He loved his yellow blade, deciding to keep it from his initial training as a jedi, before becoming what he is today. It was symbolic, to remind him of what he was, and never will be again. He is an Obelisk Prelate of Scholae Palatinae, and he will slaughter those who oppose him.
Xan disengaged his saber, and rested it in its holster. He looked around his quarters one last time, then made his way to the ship. Ready to kill for his Emperor, and for his own personal enjoyment.
NSD Excidium II
Rasilvenaira was still fuming as her ship touched down in the Excidium’s hangar bay. Her obsidian hued eyes burned with barely controlled rage as she considered her Emperor’s newest orders for her.
“Try to ground me, will he. We’ll see about that, Xen.” She growled under her breath as she exited her ship.
The Sith decided to take the long way to the Bridge. It would give her time to walk off her infamous temper, and readjust her plans. Her thoughts turned over and around themselves in her mind as she walked. By the time she’d reached the command level of the ship, she had almost calmed down. This could still work, it will work somehow. I’ll make it fit my plans one way or another.
She was headed for the bridge as one of the other lifts opened, and she glanced over feeling a familiar presence. Rasilvenaira smiled as Xan stepped out, grinning with anticipation of the war to come.
“Oh hey, Ras.” He grinned, and then tilted his head to look more closely at her, “What’s wrong? You look like someone stole your favorite mouse droid.”
Rasilvenaira paused, eyes narrowing, “You know something I don’t? Squeaks better still be on my ship. You haven’t seen Thran have you?”
He laughed, “Calm down, Ras. Don’t be so suspicious.”
She shrugged, “I’m Sith, being suspicious is part of what keeps me alive.”
They turned and continued walking toward the bridge. “So really, something’s bothering you, out with it.”
“Our… illustrious Emperor,” she coughed, “seems to have changed his plans again before we even get started. I’ll be going planetside with you when we hit New Tython.” She gave Xan a mischievous grin, “I think he’s just afraid I’ll break some of his ships again.”
“Well, you know planetside is where all the real fun is going to be, Ras.”
She nodded, “True enough. Hunting Jedi is always fun. More trophies for my collection.”
“Bet I get more than you do.”
Rasilvenaira laughed, “A challenge, master? You’re on.”
Military Staging Area
Outside Ohmen, Judecca
Mirex Alastor marched down the colorless halls of the makeshift medical bay as she fumed within. As the head of the psychiatric ward of the Empire's military, she had enough on her hands than to have to deal with this. This was a job for droids. She rounded the corner and counted the numbers on the door until she arrived at her destination: Room 147, Psych Evaluation. The rather tall lady pressed her thumb against the reader until she heard the ever familiar chime and began to enter.
"Okay, Mister Fayne, what seems to be..." The sudden whiff of smoke stopped Mirex in her tracks before she realized why she needed to fill in for a droid.
"Your robot there said I failed the psych eval. I wanted a second opinion." said the Arkanian, his legs dangling rather happily off the side of the examination table. Truly, severing the droid in half had helped his mood greatly.
"Weapons are not allowed in this wing, Fayne, and you know it." Mirex tried to maintain some sense of authority even though she seceretly worried her fate could be the same as the droid. Normally, the Empire's Jedi got a pass on such evaluations, but Kael's long absence made him a special case. No one knew what state, mentally or physically, he could be in. She had read the results of the test on her way down, believing the basic language had been exhausted of its synonyms for "unstable". Of course, she had her suspicions as to the cause, with Fayne's master being at the top of the list. "You do understand why the droid came to the conclusion that it did?"
Fayne hopped off the examination table and turned his back to Mirex, rubbing the back of his neck as he thought about the situation. "Not exactly. I mean, you have a whole base full of Dark Jedi, many of whom have never met a real Jedi, who get sexually aroused at the thought of killing one...and I'm the psychopath?"
"No one has, of yet, called you a psychopath, Mister Fayne. But, in your experience, you must know how dangerous it is to go to war with someone who fits, well, your description."
The blind Obelisk felt around at the cut marks around his wrist and various needle injection points along the inside of his elbow. He knew his mental resolve wasn't exactly what it once was, and arriving back on Judecca inebriated hadn't helped. Neither had throwing a tantraum on live security feeds either. "You're right, I know. But this...this is what I do. War isn't pretty, and the things I do to people to get them to talk or to break their spirit is probably the reason I'm here, but the Empire needs men like me. So, if you want to tell the Emperor he is going to be short a Templar, you go right ahead."
There was nothing Mirex hated more than being threatened, even if it was from a Dark Jedi. "I stand by my office's evaluation, sir. I'll deal with the consequences. Good day to you."
Doctor Alastor began to head for the door before an unseen wave of Force energy threw her forward into the door, knocking her out cold. Kael shook his head at the situation as he walked over and picked up the Doctor's datapad. After redacting the appropriate information, he picked up Mirex's thumb and pressed it to the datapad's reader, approving him for active duty.
Within an hour, the Obelisk Templar was already on a military transport heading towards the Warspite. Hopefully, the Empire would be too in the thick of it by the time Doctor Alastor could lodge a formal complaint.
NSD Excidium II
Xen’Mordin let out a long sigh. Some days dealing with the egos of his fellow Sith was enough to make him want to just kill them all. Even now they were en route to battle, and they were still so caught up in themselves they didn’t care. Thran he understood, he had been Emperor and had always been arrogant. However he could feel the waves of hate coming off Ras even though she wasn’t even near him. Then there was Eether who was so hot headed he was ready to challenge a Warlord. Children, all of them. The people didn’t care about what power you use to hold, or what power you may hold in the future, they only cared about the power you held in the moment.
“Sir, Thran reports that he and the rest of the Fighters are ready to drop out into the fray the instant we drop out of lightspeed. First ground troop are in the transports to head to the surface immediately as well. The Warspite should have just arrived in orbit over the planet. Indomitable should be there momentarily. Our ETA is 3 minutes,” Admiral Sommetra said. Xen nodded. He walked over to the window and stood next to Eether.
“Ready?” Xen asked.
“Very.” Eether replied.
NSD Excidium II
New Tython Orbit
“Are they even going to put up a fight?” Thran’s voice came in over the comm system. He was bored and you could tell. Xen knew that meant Thran would get pissy. He came all the way back home from flaunting his new fame to fly in a ship with no enemies.
“First set of troops have landed. Are you ready head to the surface?” Admiral Sommetra asked.
“Any word from the troops there?” Xen asked.
“Yes they are saying it is a non event. It is like the Jedi aren’t even there. A few have been taken down, but not enough to merit all these forces.” Ail’en replied. Xen nodded.
“Very well. To the surface.” Xen said, “Wait... one moment. Open a line to Thran.”
“Thran, was it worth coming back?” He asked.
“I will kill you. I know where you sleep.” Thran’s voice came through with a buzz.
“Love you too Thrano.” Xen said with a grin. He walked off without another word, Eether following closely behind.
The Twin Ion Engines let out their iconic scream as Thran rolled the Defender over, reexamining the empty space around New Tython. The forces of House Scholae Palatinae had jumped into the system expecting little resistance, but the complete lack of enemy fighters set the Black Aces on edge. Not only were they bloodthirsty, but they had been in situations like this before and knew how quickly it could go awry. Their heads remained on a swivel, constantly scanning their targeting computer screen and the blackness of space outside.
Occasus chirped over the intercom “Ace One to Ace Squadron. Keep your eyes open, boys. Something is not right here.”
Nichos Dressadin, proud Commander of the Black Ace squadron, had no qualms with taking the moniker “Ace 2”. He’d flown with Thran for years, knowing that he was second best to him. It didn’t bother him. The Force gave Thran a sort of secret peek into every move his opponents made. He became one with the ships he flew, as if they were a simple extension of his body. Nichos admired him.
“Roger, Ace One. You’re right about that. Where are the enemy fighters?” the man asked.
“I don’t know, Ace Two.” Thran replied, thumbing the vessels speed down to two-thirds maximum velocity.
Occasus looked from the porthole at his 4 o’clock high. The planet was above them. The assembled fleets of the Brotherhood littered the atmosphere, hiding vast spans of blue behind the worn steel and black hued vessels. It was inspiring to see.
A warning flashed on his heads up display. New contact 12k. It caught his eye, drawing his gaze forward once again. The target identifier labeled the vessel in orange, a threat. The Classification was listed as MAN. The computer stalled for a moment, processing the vast number of vessel that followed the lead ship. It processed the numbers, the fleet was gigantic.
Occasus couldn’t even relay the message to his squadron before the vessels opened fire. The pilot rolled his vessel, narrowly missing a shot from the ships.
“ACES EVASIVE ACTIONS! ENEMY CONTACTS 12k AND CLOSING!” he roared over the radio.
The pilots kicked their vessels over and under the incoming hail of turbolaser bolts. Their engines roared, shrieking as they danced between crimson streaks of death. They were almost elegant. Thran focused his mind enough to relay the message to the House’s fleet.
“EXCIDIUM, ACE SQUADRON UNDER FIRE. UNKNOWN ENEMY FORCE, REQUEST PERMISSION TO ENGAGE!” he screamed, begging for the Emperor to let his fighters off their leash.
“ACE ONE, ENGAGE ALL HOSTILE FORCES.” Was the phrase that came back to him, he smiled under his black helmet.
From the massive fleet a swarm of fighters emerged. Like a hive of angry wasps, they buzzed from every enemy ship. Their sights were set on every ship and every Dark Jedi within them. The Brotherhood had been caught by surprise.
Without words, Ace Squadron formed up in pairs. They called them “Hunting Parties”. Two TIE Defenders could take down just about anything that came their way. Ace One, Thran Occasus, was paired with Ace Eight. The pilot, a small Twi’lek girl, was his preferred wingman. The pair of pilots simultaneously chose a flight of inbound Mandalorian fighters, easy pickings. Their hands dialed in the distance at which their lasers would converge, adjusted their speed, and increased power output to shields and lasers cannons. This fight would get gritty soon.
Arcing in from behind the flight of four fighters, the Defenders caught them off guard. Both fighters opened fire. Green spears of light fired in harmony. Two bolts at a time from each of the Aces, top right and bottom left, then top left and bottom right. TIE Defenders were armed to the teeth and had a gigantic powerplant. Even while charging lasers and shields, the fighters could still outrun almost any fighter.
Two ships lit up in an explosion as the little stores of oxygen within them ignited upon meeting a series of well-placed shots. The rest of Ace Squadron had also engaged targets. The entire sky was ablaze with arcs of red and green, littered with twinkles of light from the canopies of thousands of starfighters. This was the war that Thran had hoped for. This was for glory, for honor, and for the Empire.
As Akatsuki stood on the grassy field of Odan-Urr she breathed in deeply. "It reminds me of home," she said softly.
"This is nothing like your home. There are strange enemies here Aka, use all of your abilities. Listen. Sense. Focus." Xantros spoke urgently.
As the two stood shoulder to shoulder, they noted the silence. This wasn't the blood-bath they were expecting. "Something’s not right..." the Duro uttered.
At that moment, a human approached rapidly from the right, the side Akatsuki was on. Akatsuki recognized from her studies, and her spy stint: this was a Jedi, a lightsider, the enemy. She quickly pulled her fibercord whip out, hurling it towards the approaching human. With precision, the razor covered end wrapped around the fragile flesh of the human, severing the hand completely, lightsaber and all.
Akatsuki dropped to all fours. She went into her primal instincts and didn't hear, "Aka wai..." She lunged at the weak human; he was young and as unprepared as she was to face a 'strange enemy'. She was much larger and stronger than this youngling and killed him much as she did her first prey, a mouse, by ripping his trachea out.
The human remained on its back, flopping before a rattling final breath escaped his lips. Akatsuki looked at the lightsaber which had disengaged. She picked it up in her jaw, and then stood up to her bipedal position. She walked over to Xantros and dropped the blood covered saber in his hand.
"First blood, first kill...one down?" Akatsuki said in a tone never heard by her superior.
"Disgusting…you slobbered on it. This is just the beginning, stay aware...apprentice." Xantros hissed, reminding Akatsuki that she was still wet behind the ears.
The deck was awash with activity. Troops loaded their drop ships with supplies and eventually themselves. In the midst of the chaos Vynn Salm stood erect, his armour shining as he listened to the orders coming from Kell. Each member of the Nightstalkers was given individual orders on their role in the upcoming battle. Vynn would be droping down to New Tython with a squad of troopers and would link up with Kell and more of the battle team. He had been anticipating this moment for what seemed liked eons in reality he was only 19.
Grabbing what is left of his gear he boarded the drop ship and watched the doors close as the repulsors kicked in. the familiar rock of lift-off soon greeted him as he made his way to the cabin. Drop ships were not new to him as he had served with the Marines and been on many boarding operations. However, his anxiety level was at a all time high as he had never been a part of such a large scale operation.
He felt the change in the force about the time the radio chatter went from normal to chaotic. Star fighters and Dreadnaughts had entered the system right on top of the fleet. His pilot though stayed his course. They had a job to do and unless directly engaged would not deviate from the mission at hand.
“Night 3 incoming” came across the comm. System.
“On the guns!” Vynn and what was normally the squad leader barked out in unison.
The fighters came in hard and fast but the shields held and moments later they had entered the atmosphere. The gunners worked at a frantic pace and had taken down three of the enemy ships before the missile lock warning went off. They all knew there was no evading it drop ships weren’t meant for that. The impact threw Vynn into the bulkhead nearly knocking him unconscious. The ship dropped altitude and everyone braced for impact. Vynn saw the ground rushing up at them as the pilots tried their best to level the ship off. They hit hard and the world went black.
The shuttle, one among many, swooped out of the Excidium II's hangar, through the blue tinged containment field, and into the black of space. The star destroyer itself was following its fighters, angling into attack position. But the ground forces sped planetward, the laser flashes of engagement streaking the dark void.
Upon entering the atmosphere the ride grew turbulent. Without the preliminary bombardment from space, ground forces were able to concentrate their fire skyward without retaliation. Even a near miss caused danger. The super-heated air expanded and disturbed the normal flow that kept winged aircraft stable.
Maligo sat in his chair, harness gripping his body tight. He suppressed a smile. Whilst he could use the Force to achieve a harmony that his body respected, the rest of the fourth battalion had no such advantage. The beings were turning green, in peril of losing their last meals. The Priest hoped that once their wobbly legs were on the ground and the blaster bolts firing, their nausea would disappear in the life-and-death scenario.
Death nearby. Draco reacted instinctively. He sent a pulse of the Force under the right wing of the transport, causing it to lurch to the left just as an explosion blossomed nearby. The damaged ship careened toward that of the fourth battalion, sliding underneath it on its plummet, the fire from the damaged engine scorching the underside of its sister ship.
The pilot increased the angle of the dive, anxious to get out of the cross-fire. The Priest knew the repulsors wouldn't be able to compensate. "Legs up!" he shouted, using the Force to increase the obedience. Five hundred pairs of legs pulled up off the deck just as the ship crashed onto the surface, bottom of the hull crumpling, rows of chairs breaking under the impact, yet cushioning the bodies they cradled.
A few moans filled the air as Draco hit the harness release and jumped up. The soldiers began streaming toward the hatch. Damaged in the landing, the dark Jedi used the Force to blast the door outward, freeing his command. By twos the armed and armored beings charged into the verdant field to set up a perimeter, preliminary to the expected advance.
The flight crew staggered toward Maligo. "Grab blasters and whatever gear you can carry. This ship is no longer space-worthy," he said and strode out into the morning sunshine.
His head swam as he awoke to the glow of the emergency lights. As he regained his bearing Vynn began to scan around the crashed ship for signs of life. Both pilots were dead at impact most likely. Turning his attention to the troopers he realized only two of the eight had survived the makeshift landing. Vynn released the straps on his chair and searched for his helmet. Finding it he put it on and began scanning the house channels. It was in a state of chaos it seemed that the Jedi had hired Mandolorians as their personal Army.
Switching the comm channel to the Nightstalkers personal frequency he tried to reach anyone in his unit but received only static as an answer. They were either busy or dead whichever mattered not he would gather his squad or what was left of it and head to the Rendezvous point.
“Gather your supplies we are moving out” Korvyn ordered the two troopers that were attempting the help their already dead or soon to be dead companions.
“Sir we got two still breathing” one of the troopers replied.
“Not for long.”
Grabbing what he could Vynn opened the emergency hatch and stepped out into the field of New Tython. Looking up he could see the battle in the skies raging in full force. Ships were still landing troops and setting up the Landing Zones.
“Rendezvous is five clicks to the east lets move out” Vynn ordered not bothering to see if they actually followed. He knew that the Mando’s would eventually be back to check for survivors and strip the ship of anything useful. So before leaving the crash site he tossed a couple detonation packs back through the hatch and took off into the nearby woods. They hadn’t made it far when the familiar sound of a ship exploding could be heard just behind the trio.
Xen’Mordin’s eyes snapped open. He was latched into his seat staring down. There were a few voices screaming out in agony. He tensed up as the pain from trying move his head, shot through him. Glancing around he saw the carnage. Sparks fell out of some exposed wires. One of his guard was impaled on a large piece of the shuttle that had been torn open. Sunlight came in majestically through the holes in the damaged walls. Xen hit the button on the restraints and fell forward.
His mind raced back to what had happened. He, Eether and several of his personal guard were heading to the surface of New Tython. Then there was a panicked sound as the warning sensors went off around the whole of the shuttle; there were shots incoming. Then a loud boom shook the shuttle. Xen and those in the main cabin quickly utilized the emergency restraints incase they crashed into the planet. Not that it would do much good, a real crash would incinerate them all, but the illusion of safety helped greatly. Then there was another boom and they were dropping hard.
Xen slapped Eether hard in the face, and then again.
“Wake up!” He yelled. Eether groggily came to.
“Wha…What happened?” Eether asked.
“We made it to the war. Great fun isn’t it?” Xen replied. Xen punched the release sending Eether crashing down to the floor.
“The ship is on its side…” Eether said as he tried to get to his feet.
“Worked that out all on your own? Smart lad you are. Make sure you have your equipment, we sure as hell weren’t shot down by these Jedi, something else is at work.” Xen snapped. He headed to where the doors of the shuttle were, jammed wonderfully against the ground. Xen let out a sigh. None of the holes where big enough or safe enough for the two to crawl out of. Xen ignited his saber. Out of mix of frustration and pity he sliced off the head of a wounded guard before setting to work cutting out a hole to get out through.
“Who ever did this owes me a new shuttle.” He muttered under his breath.
Xen and Eether had been limping along for several minutes away from their crashed shuttle. The fields of New Tython seemed to stretch on forever. Above they could see flashes in the sky, signs of the battle overhead. Ships were landing all around, but if they were friend or foe, it wasn’t clear.
As Xen and Eether came to the top of another hill, Xen stuck his arm out forcing Eether to stop. He put a finger up to his lips, signaling the Zeltron to be silent. He glanced over the crest of the hill to look down at the group on the other side. Xen relaxed and let out a relieved sigh.
“Tra’an.” Xen yelled out. One of the group turned and looked up. Xen and Eether rushed down the hill to their Plagueian allies.
“Looks like you had a rough landing.” Tra’an said with a cocky grin. Xen set aside the rage and desire to shoot Tra’an in the crotch before replying.
“I don’t recommend the inflight meal service.” Xen said glancing around. Other Brotherhood members were a relief, as two shaken Sith were no match for any group of enemies here on the plains. But what Xen really wanted were his own troops, ones he could trust. Well trust more than members of another house, even if they were allies.
“Mandalorians know how to ruin a meal.” Tra’an replied. Eether gave a startled gasp.
“Mandalorians? Here?” The Knight asked. Xen gave him a glance. Mandalorians were bad news; the Jedi must have known what was coming to hire out their defenses.
“These Jedi have no real honor then. If we must kill some Mandalorians, then we will kill some Mandalorians. Even these famed warriors can bleed and die.” Xen said glancing back up at the sky. The Brotherhood came for war, and the war came for them.
The trees were dense in this area of the forest creating a clear forest floor. The lack of light penetrating the canopy made it much darker than it would have been in the fields. His companions were not unaccustomed to the march and held pace with Vynn. It had taken some time but they neared the edge leading to the Rendezvous point.
Motioning for the troopers to wait below Vynn bound into the tree using the force to leap higher and higher. Once in a good vantage point he scanned the clearing. It seemed that the spot had been picked out by another of the Brotherhood as a landing zone. It was Plagius which gave him some breathing room. While alliances in the Brotherhood were shaky at best it was still an ally.
Further to the north he spied out the advancing troops of the Mandolorians and Jedi. There were many of them and already the troops at the landing zone were preparing for the coming fight. His decision to join the battle was made for him as he saw both Xen and Tra’an preparing to join the fray. With his quaestor already there he had no choice and began climbing back down the tree.
“Mandos and Jedi advancing on Plageius troopers in the LZ” Korvyn told the two troopers. “Normally we’d just let it go but Xen is there. Wait until the battle starts then we will flank them.”
“Plus if they start getting hammered we can always stay back.” On of the troopers replied.
The vessel spun through the plume of flame and debris released by the destroyed Mandalorian fighter. Ace Twelve drifted back into formation behind her flight leader, coving him as their focus turned to the Captial Ships. The TIE Defenders let out a shrill howl, as the turned to engage a gunship. They never let up. Fighters, Gunships, even the Mandalorian Dreadnaughts were fair game for the Aces. Ace Twelve activated her Ion cannons. She held down the trigger, watching as alternating shots of blue and green energy lit up the Gunship’s shields.
On their displays, the enemy shields ticked away like a countdown. The closer it got to zero, the longer it seemed to take. Thran flipped a toggle, activating the Defender’s warhead launcher. He released two advanced concussion missiles. His eyes followed the tail of flames as the projectiles hurtled towards the gunship’s bridge. They tore into the Mandalorian vessel, ripping open a sizable gash in the ships command center.
The vessel flickered as it died. Several small escape pods blasted away from the ship, moments before it erupted in flame.
“WOOOOOOWEEEE!” Ace Twelve howled out over the intercom, expressing her joy.
“Focus, Twelve. We aren’t done here.” Thran replied.
The Ships fled the scene, arcing around the crowed airspace to level their eyes on another target. The massive Mandalorian vessel had not let up on its bombardment of the Brotherhood’s vessels. The Aces flipped through their target locators, praying to find the vessel in front of them. When they had successfully identified the ship, they toggled their targeting computers onto the shield generator. A vessel of this size had a deflector shield system that was designed to take on vessels of the same size, so it would take precision attacks to bring it down.
The vessels flew in low over the battleship, close enough that the enemy vessels laser batteries did not have time to lock on to the swift Defenders. They slid in, firing at every prickly protrusion hanging off of the Mandal ship. As they completed their first pass, Ace Twelve caught sight of a flight of TIE Avengers. They were not from House Scholae Palatinae, they were an ally’s vessels. She flipped her targeting computer to find them PLA: TIE Adv. They were from House Plagueis.
She didn’t bother to ask Thran if they could join in the raid. She opened a channel to the lead fighter.
“Plagueis Fighters, form up on us. We need to join forces.” She said.
Occasus’ teeth were grinding loud enough to be heard over the radio. He was the type of person that hated to ask for help, and when he did he felt vastly inconvenienced. The ally ships changed course, it seemed they agreed with the idea. Their lead pilot replied to the Twi’lek girl’s command.
“Roger, Request ID.” A woman replied.
“Ace Squadron. House Scholae Palatinae. Ace Twelve here. Flying with Ace One.” The confident twelfth pilot replied.
“Roger Ace Twelve. Foxtrot Uniform here. Foxtrot Uniform one speaking. Knight Octavia Kuga here. Ace One, Identify.” The pilot inquired as the Avengers fell in behind the two defenders.
Thran growled. “Ace One. Thran Occasus.” He said curtly.
Several members of the flight thought for a moment. They remembered the name Thran from years ago. He had once served among their ranks. Then he defected, they didn’t trust him. Virulence and Vessicant opened a private channel between them.
“Vess…This is going to get messy. Occasus is a danger to everyone.” The reptile said.
“I know Vir. Keep your eyes open. Do what he says for now…” the other Sith replied.
Thran lead the vessels in on another strafing run of the Mandalorian man-o-war. Now, 14 vessels descended on the dreadnaught unleashing a hell storm of vibrant green laser fire. As they came in closer, several of the less skilled pilots from Plagueis found their shields drained.
“Shields full forward. FRAK…I shouldn’t have to be giving lessons!” Thran raged over the intercom.
The two Defenders finally laid eyes on the shield generator and they swooped in for the kill. Their lasers ripped into the small dome, leaving small scars of burned steel on its surface. The Mandalorians had built their ships from their legendary iron. It was a tough, durable metal, capable of absorbing a great amount of energy.
The Avengers swarmed around the ship, picking at it like carrion feeders. They did no damage. Thran devised a plan, it was devilish but it might work.
“Foxtrot One. I need you on my left. Get here now!” he called out.
“Roger, Ace One, moving into position.” She replied.
The smaller Avenger nestled in beside the TIE Defender. She followed the vessel through every turn as they lined up for another run on the shield generator. Thran lead the pair in towards the target.
“Orders, Ace One? What are my orders?” the Plagueian asked, weary of the Sith’s plan.
“JUST STAY ON MY LEFT!” he barked.
As the bulbous shield generator came close, Occasus jerked his vessel to the left. The ship made contact with the lead fighter from Plagueis’ flight. It sent him into a dizzying spin. His shields dropped to sixty percent. The vessel stabilized just in time to see the ally’s Avenger smash into the shield generator. The target exploded, sending bits of metal and flame out into the space surrounding it.
“OCTAVIA!!!” screamed one of the Plagueian pilots.
“ALL FIGHTERS, FOCUS ATTACK ON THE BRIDGE!” Occasus commanded.
As Eether and Xen stepped up to their new allies, after some banter between them, the tension was gone. Sure they would normally be at each others throats, but right now they had a common enemy. As a few more Brotherhood members joined them, the sound of battle seemed to cease.
Eether looked around them, in the low dip, there were some trees and vegetation. If this wasn't a war, he would be tempted to meditate here, he could feel the force, it was connected to this area. Eether let his hand rest around his hip and casually brushed it against his saber, making sure he still had it. Escaping the wreckage has happened so quickly, he had to grab everything as quickly as he could, not one hundred percent sure that he had grabbed everything. Oh well.... he thought, I just really need my saber to do damage, I have my training.
Eether looked at Tra'an, "Is this everyone you're expecting? I think we have some more of our guard around here that we need to make sure aren't dead. We need to be on the look out for those blasted mando's."
Tra'an nodded and they all turned to go up the small hill. Eether slowed his pace so that he was diagonally back from his master, Xen. Quickly, Eether glanced around to make sure there was no immanent danger. He lowered his hand and jerked back two fingers, sending a small pull in the force to Xen's right leg. Xen tripped and rolled down the small hill and glared up at Eether.
"Hehe, that's for the cold water this morning master. Now get back up here before anyone come's and attacks us. Eether held his hand out for Xen and pulled him up. When everyone was up to the top of the hill, it was too quiet. There was someone else about 15 feet away in dark robes, clearly someone from the Brotherhood.
He waved slightly and started walking towards the small group one second and the next, there was a small crater from a rocket above him. Suddenly, there were mando's flying all around the group with their packs, all had guns or wrists pointed at them.
Eether ignited his lightsaber and heaved a heavy sigh, getting ready for his first battle in the war.
After receiving a summons from her master over the commlink, Shadow had left her quarters and was running to meet up with Rayne. She knew that she would be contacted sooner or later and she was already out the door when she heard her commlink go off. With all the commotion that she felt going on the planet’s surface, she knew that Rayne would eventually call her, whether it be news or some duty that she had for Shadow. With her chosen weapon, an Armory Lightsaber, in her hand and a dagger that she kept just in case she ever needed it, she quickened her pace so as not to keep her master waiting.
As she was going down a corridor, she couldn’t help but to wonder what her master had in store for her. Would she send her to the surface to fight Jedi or would she be told to stay on the ship and make sure everyone was doing their job while Rayne would go down to the surface herself? She didn’t know exactly what to expect, but she kept hoping that she would hear some news and be given some kind of order.
Another think that was on her mind was her friend and fellow apprentice, Kazumi. They had met one day after Shadow had finished studying in her quarters and had decided to take a walk. She ended up bumping into Kazumi and somehow both she and the Zabrak got into a random conservation. From that day forward, the two had become good friends.
Now however, Shadow was wondering what Kazumi was doing and if she was safe. Maybe she would contact her later if she had time, but now she had important matters to deal with. As she reached the bridge, she saw Rayne talking to an officer until she saw Shadow approaching and dismissed the man.
“Shadow, you’re finally here. I have some things to discuss with you.”
The team was landed on the New Tython and everything went all so quickly. Rasilvenaira took kazumi with her and Xan was nearly them. Rasilvenaira said to kazumi: “Kazumi now it`s time to fight.”
It was back and forth shooting and suddenly saw kazumi how a bounty hunter killed one sith and scared to death first but she can`t recognized this sith. She said to herself: “OH MY GOSH! It`s no time pity it. We`re in the war!” and received more hate to the Jedi’s.
Rasilvenaira: “That`s good, kaz! I can see your angry and if you feel the hate so you can understand our order.”
Kazumi: ”YEAH! I know. We`re siths.”
Rasilvenaira and kazumi hid after the stone quickly in the shooting while Xan fought with the clones. Suddenly saw Xan who stood behind the tree nearly Rasilvenaira and kazumi that the death itself, rained fired down apon him held quick to the air with him fingers tenacious on his nose and ran away quickly.
It was a surprise. The Mandalorians came for helping hands for scholae on the ground. This Mandalorians was fron house Plagueis. They has also covenant with Scholae and suddenly they saw that kazumi was still new here and wanted to help her. They came right on time. Kazumi saw also Rayne together with her apprentice Shadow Nighthunter and from that day forward the two Shadow Nighthunter and kazumi had become good friends. It was no time now to spent time with them. Rasilvenaira thought it wise together with kazumi to go to a safe place. She said to kazumi: “It`s wise now that we go to a safe place and then I want to do a few light saber and force powers exercise with you because you`re too nervous and too uncertain you not to leave the wolves.”
And so they went to a safe place quick to do a light saber and force powers exercise and taught her all the techniques of the light saber and the force powers.
New Tython, Orbit
NSD Excidium II
As the small ship was spotted exiting hyperspace, an ensign turned to his lieutenant, reporting the arrival of an unknown vessel, transmitting a high ranking Imperial code towards the NSD Excidium II. Spotting a chance to curry favour, the lieutenant ignored his captain and decided to report the news directly to the figure near the portside holosuite “Sir?”. “Yes, what is it?”, the dark Jedi looked upon the young officer with a look of annoyance. “We…we…well Sir, a small vessel entered the system. It is transmitting our codes, and requesting a parking space be made available for it to be tractored in…. Sir, it appears Master Bnar has arrived.” “Hmm, do send someone to greet him and bring him up here.” As he stated this, his mind had already moved on.
Three Emperors, two former and he the current. Thank the Force that the Neti was too unstable to really bother with contesting the odd change of regime. Well, not really a change, more the first smooth transition of power the throne had known. All it took Xen, according to the stories was to quietly whisper into the Neti’s ear that being Emperor drew time away from his studies. Followed by giving the old creature some tomes he’d found in a subbasement of an old section of the base, and the throne was his. The Archpriest had even left for Lyspair to reference the archives there when one of the concepts in the second tome seemed to be rather obscure, even for the Imperial Library on Judecca.
He also recalled the problem he had been trying to solve since the Emperor had stated Ood was coming along. Technically the Neti had to receive a high ranking position, his rank, past and presence demanded it. If they slighted the old thing by not appointing him someplace suitable for a former Emperor and someone who at one point held the post of Grand Marshall, then the segment of troops who had accepted his rule simply because the Archpriest hadn’t objected to it would surely feel that it meant an insult. And in times like these, he had no wish to start disciplining his more senior officers based on something which could be avoided easily.
Then there was the other issue, for the Neti to be allowed into the armed forces again, he’d have to undergo a psych evaluation. There was no possibility that any medical officer, droid or other, would allow the old Krath near a weapon once they realised that aside from the sociopath tendencies, he also had more then one personality locked in that ancient brain of his. Oh what had his Majesty been thinking when he added the regulation concerning mental stability into the military rulebook. Oh yes, he was attempting to decrease the level of highly capable officers being slaughtered because the Dark Jedi in question didn’t wish to own up to their errors. Hell, not even Darth Vader, notoriously known for killing incompetents, had been able to slaughter so many troops as to necessitate such a ruling from the late Emperor Palpatine.
All around him, bridge officers were doing their job. Occasionally glancing towards an unarmed ship, gliding towards them. seemingly ignored by the enemy for not a single turbolaser battery took aim towards the defenceless vessel. “Most tend to forget, that Ood is, beside a former emperor, also a high ranking Krath Sorcerer Eether.” he stated, for the benefit of the troops and the Admiral beside him. “He is particularly adept at using the minds of his opponents against him. If you are ever fighting him, remember that your eyes are deceiving you.” “What is he doing Master Jedi?” the admiral asked. “He is meditating, allowing the enemy to come to the conclusion that there is nobody there, and letting them conclude that he is to be ignored. It is a dangerous tactic since he can only do so for a limited time, and with limited range but when we are fighting Mandalorians who cannot touch the force themselves, it is adequate to get him to us safely. Mind the codes though, he is sending out a layered signal. On the outside, it is a Shadow Academy identification code that is sent to our fleet, buried within is a code which identifies the ship as carrying someone on the Staff of a Dark Council member. And even further down he’s hidden a HSP code indicating who he is and what ship he’ll dock into.”
As the small ship entered the Excidium’s dock, both felt a shiver in the dark side as the ancient mind released his meditations and allowed his presence to wash over the ship. Alerting all Dark Jedi on board that he’d arrived. Sending out a reply, he conferred upon his former superior the wish for him to make his way to the bridge. Receiving a quick response, he gestured a young officer to fetch an orb of water, knowing that the old one would be thirsty and cranky from being late to the action.
New Tython, Orbit
Hangar Bay 1
From the moment the battle started, the hangar had been awash with activity. Appearing to an outsider as a hive of well coordinated activity, the deckhands went about their duties as pilots launched their ships or landed them in order to refuel and replace spent missiles. In between this, junior Dark Jedi, accompanied by sergeants moved between the vessels, taking careful inventory as to what was being loaded on which vessel, to insure the ship’s weapons master had a clear and up to date view of what was in the armoury and what had been spent already.
As the small vessel landed, the eyes of all the Journeymen was drawn to it, not by it’s appearance but by the wash of darkness coming from within. Most of these were either too junior to have been granted an audience with this being or too young to remember his reign. With closely watched steps the Archpriest exited the vessel, drawing salutes from the older Sergeants as he went by. These same sergeants whispered to their Force-sensitive superiors exactly who he was before going back to work. The hangar bay would not stop working simply because the former Emperor had arrived onboard.
Pausing near a Dark Jedi beside the doorway to the ship’s interior the Neti focused more closely, “I know you…”. “Aye your eminence, you do. I served as assistant librarian of your closed library during your reign, you sensed my potential force ability and ordered I’d be given the chance to attend the Shadow Academy.” “Hmm, it appears to have paid off. Keep up the good work. No need to inform the bridge, his Majesty’s appointed official already knows I’m here.” Ood replied as he strode out of the hangar, turning left on his way to the elevators which would lead him to the bridge.
Not in the mood to wait, the Archpriest entered his old command sequence into the pad next to the elevator causing an override to occur, turning his, otherwise, long journey into a much shorter one as the system moved to allow for a level 1 command to supersede all other calls on that elevator. As the elevator stopped, the two troopers aboard felt themselves be scoped out as they watched a cloaked person step into the cabin before, once more entering an 18 digit code which cancelled the security blocks which keep an elevator from going from the docks to the bridge level without at least two security stops along the way.
Planning his next move, the Neti knew he’d be sent planetside. He had excelled in Intelligence work, strategy and had at one time been a Fleet Admiral. But Xen would have ordered him placed out of his comfort zone for many a reason. Best to plan ahead before being thrown into a General’s role and sent down. Maybe if he got down without his troops, he’d be able to do some actual fun work. Then again, he could be the one stuck commanding Excidium and the remaining HSP forces from the flagship’s bridge…
Xen’Mordin stepped back switching from Vaapad to the more defensive Soresu stance. He was facing two very large Mandalorians who didn’t seem all that bothered by his crimson lightsaber. Several feet away he heard Eether curse and hit the ground, rolling away from the grips of another Mandalorian. Xen spun deflecting several blaster bolts back at his opponents while kicking dirt up into the face of the Mandalorian attacking Eether.
Xen’s body was still aching from the crash landing and these Mandalorians were fully rested. Xen pressed forward switching back into the fluid motions of Vaapad, channeling his hatred and will to survive into a focused attack forward. He let his pains and aches disappear from his mind, focused solely on the thrills of real combat.
With the skills of a master of the form, Xen disabled and killed one of his two opponents; first he sliced off the Mandalorians right hand followed quickly by an downward slice cutting his enemy from left shoulder through to above his right waist line. The second of Xen’s opponents reached from behind the Battlelord yanking on the back of his robes. Xen was thrown to the ground with a hard thud.
A boot came crashing down towards Xen’s head, he rolled out of the way just in time. He jumped to his feet and found himself back-to-back with Eether, who was sporting a bloody nose.
“Fun isn’t it?” Xen said through gritted teeth.
“Loads.” Eether replied. Battle hardened Mandalorians, common foot soldiers and even some Jedi were flooding into to the area surround the Dark Jedi.
“I have a very bad feeling about this.” Eether said, realizing how outnumbered they were. Then sudden cries got the attention of everyone. Brotherhood troops were pouring down the hill to join the battle. Xen recognized the official seal of Scholae Palatinae on the armor. He broke out into a grin, glad it was his own that were showing up.
“For the EMPIRE!” Xen shouted. He focused back into the battle at hand. Blaster shots were being fired everywhere creating utter chaos. Xen deflected bolts as he closed in on another Mandalorian going in for the kill. He heard a familiar voice scream out in pain but paid no mind, he mad the killing blow with his lightsaber. He turned and saw Tra’an laying on the ground rolling in agony, holding his crotch with a soldier of the Jedi standing over him, looking shocked at landing his kick. Xen leaped forward and severed the man in half.
“Just stay there and play dead Tra’an. I’m sure some medics will be able to come bring you ice soon. They are retreating back to reform. We will have enough time to do the same.” Xen said holding back a laugh. He felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned and came eye to eye with Vynn Salm.
“Good to see you were holding your own. I almost didn’t bring our forces down here to help.” Vynn said. Xen picked up on the unsaid meaning behind the words. Everyone always wanted the throne.
“Glad you did. Even with Plaguies as allies, their main body was otherwise… occupied. Dying in the first hours of the war isn’t exactly how I planned on this war ending.” Xen said. Vynn nodded, noting the gratitude but threatening tone in Xen’s voice. Now was not the time for power plays.
“Mandalorians… I thought the Jedi held to the idea of Honor.” Vynn spat.
“Who needs honor when you can have power.” Xen said. He gave a jerk of the head giving a nonverbal cue that a discussion was better served in a secured location, not in the open where more Mandalorians could show up.
“Menat Ombo is still the key. The Brotherhood has to unite if we are to destroy the Jedi and fight off Mandos at the same time.” Xen said. Vynn made a motion signaling his men to reform and move out. They didn’t have long before the Mandalorians would press forward once again, reorganized.
With blood running down his arm and dripping down on the grass below, Kael Fayne sat uncomfortably on a rather small tree branch as he focused on deadening his nerves using the Force. A sudden yank, and the barb of shrapnel came out. Perhaps going it alone was a bad idea, the Arkanian thought to himself. He hadn't asked for a command from Rayne when he reached the Warspite, barely making his presence known at all. His mind wasn't really ready for the responsibility, nor was he ready to look any of his fellow Jedi in the eye. For now, all he wanted to do was reek havoc, and for an hour or so he had done just that. Nevertheless, the arrival of the Mandalorians had caught him by surprise as it had the rest of the Jedi, leaving Kael's body riddled with several pieces from various different frag grenades. Despite his willingness to go out in a blaze of whatever, Fayne felt he wasn't through causing havoc just yet.
"Let's split up. You two move toward the west, me and Splin will explore the east. He's got to be close." The four Mandalorians nodded towards each other before the leader and his comrade started heading Kael's direction. The Templar thought about letting them simply pass on by until an thought came to mind. A few seconds of toying with the idea and Kael was persuaded to follow it.
"Sir, look! Blood!" The slightly shorter Mando, "Splin" as the leader had called him, rushed up to the spot where Kael's blood had fallen. The leader followed suit, beginning to look around with his rifle at the ready. Knowing it wouldn't be long before his presence would be discovered, Kael slid off the branch silently, landing behind Splin as the leaves crunched underneath his feet. The Arkanian quickly grabbed the smaller Mando's helmet, finding the rangefinder gave him plenty of leverage to break the man's neck.
The leader swiftly snapped to attention, drawing the barrel of his rifle towards Kael. However, the Arkanian was close enough to reach out and block the barrel's movement, using it to pull the Mandalorian forward into an elbow to the chin. The armored merc surprised Kael by letting go of the rifle, taking on a familiar fight stance as he threw two stiff punches into the latter's side. Ah...just like a clone trooper... Kael thought to himself, adopting a Jakelian stance of his own as the two begin trading sharp punches and blunt elbows.
Both men's forearms began to ache as they blocked each other's every move until suddenly a folly of blaster fire slipped through the weaker sections of the Mandalorian's armor and dropped him near to his comrade. Kael quickly withdrew both of his blasters towards the source of the attack, reaching out with the Force to find the man wearing glasses before him. "What are you doing here, Koga?"
Koga Kage, one of the elite of Plagueis, kept his blaster trained on his fellow Obelisk as well, knowing how quickly alliances shift in the Brotherhood. They had shared the same side of the battlefield only months ago as the Orders fought amongst themselves, but now... "Look like you needed help, Fayne. Where is your lightsaber?"
Kael holstered his sidearms and let out a groan of disgust before bending down and taking off the helmet of the leader. He looked at it a moment, and then tried it on. "I didn't need it, or your help. Cutting up their armor wasn't a part of my plan. Hmm..." Fayne pulled off the leader's helmet and tossed it toward Koga, who held it in mid air with the Force as he put down his own blaster. "If you want to tag along, you better take the larger helmet. Maybe your glasses will fit under them."
A smirk stretch across Koga's face as he realized what the Arkanian was up to. "A cunning plan, Fayne. But how will we keep our own people from firing on us?"
"I haven't thought that far ahead. Hopefully when we call to them through the Force, they'll be listening."
Both men quickly finished suiting up, hiding their sabers beneath the armor to avoid suspicion. Koga slid on the large helmet slowly to complete the ensemble as Kael handed him one of the Mandos' rifles. "Alright...now, where to?"
Kael thought for a second before both Jedi's attentions were snatched away by a communication coming over the commlinks in their new helmets. "Attention all units in the southern fields and forest. Make haste toward the coordinates currently being loaded into your heads up display. One of our Jedi benefactors is in need of assistance taking down a member of the Brotherhood's Dark Council."
Koga let out a light chuckle at the circumstances, knowing the Arkanian wouldn't be able to see the coordinates. "The Force isn't without a bit of irony today, Fayne. Follow me."
Xantros clipped the fallen Jedi’s lightsaber on his belt. “I’ll hang on to this, you get the credit for the kill, but you don’t want someone to turn it against you.”
The silence of that clear day was quickly shattered when the sound of a shuttle crash-landing followed by a hail of blaster-fire rang through the air. “It sounds like one of our shuttles has crashed; I hope the Emperor is alright.” Xantros whispered.
The two stood side by side looking in the direction of the hill where the noises were coming from. Many outlines and figures began appearing over the hill and blaster bolts were flying in their direction.
“Armor, heavy armor…they look like…Mando…” Akatsuki said crouched looking in the direction of the opposition. Xantros quickly interrupted, “Mandalorians…many of them, possibly hundreds. We didn’t anticipate this Aka,” he pulled his lightsaber out igniting it standing at the ready to fight. “Watch for the blaster fire, your Krath War Blade will make you more difficult to hit, but you cannot deflect the bolts with it. Use your speed.”
A dozen Mandalorians began approaching the two Scholae members. Akatsuki darted for a nearby tree and climbed to the top. It provided protection, and a place to attack from that they wouldn’t expect.
Akatsuki watched Xantros deflecting blaster bolts with his lightsaber. Some were deflected back to the Mandos, injuring a couple and killing two. Two Plagueis members quickly approached Xantros from his six-o’clock. Akatsuki recognized them immediately, it was Furios and nariah. Furios was wielding a lightsaber, and nariah was returning blaster fire. “Kimachs” Akatsuki muttered, “but today the Brotherhood is one…” She watched with distaste as nariah returned blaster fire. Even in war, Akatsuki found blasters classless and distasteful but observed the Jedi Hunter as she was killing Mandalorians easily.
One solitary Mando was approaching from the 3 o’clock position, he was going to walk right under Akatsuki. She watched as the Mandalorian fired at Xantros and the Plagueians. He made the fatal mistake of pausing under the tree where the Jedi Hunter waited. Akatsuki dropped down on him and with one swat of her front paw decapitated him.
The fighting had calmed where Xantros was; the Mandos that weren't dead were retreating. Akatsuki picked up the blaster gingerly as she respected but feared the blasters and carried it over to Xantros handing it to him. “You keep bringing me these treasures you should be happy to capture, Akatsuki...” Xantros said wryly, knowing her distaste for blasters.
“Ick, keep that thing away from me, “the Jedi Hunter said with a sneer. She took a moment to greet Furios and nariah. “So where did all those Mandos come from?” Akatsuki asked Xantros.
“The Jedi must’ve hired them, so much for honor huh?” the Dark Jedi Knight responded.
“What does it mean?” Akatsuki asked, a little fear in her voice.
“It means it’s going to be a long day.” Xantros said, “Rest when you can, meditate, focus, remember all you’ve been taught….oh, and Aka?”
“Don’t die today.” Xantros said with a small grin.
Rasilvenaira glared at her apprentice and took a step back as another wave of enemy troops moved to over run their position. The Sith growled and muttered curses in various languages as she used the Force to pull one Mandalorian into the angry silver blade of her lightsaber. Xan moved in, his bright yellow saber a golden blur as he cut a swath of destruction through the Mandalorians’ left flank.
The Battlelord circled around; with Xan at her back she shifted her focus to rallying the small group of Scholae infantry that fought alongside the dark Jedi. Rasilvenaira dodged blaster fire and spun around as she heard Kazumi’s yelp of pain. The Protector found herself overwhelmed as a group of Jedi swarmed her.
StormRaven motioned to Xan who nodded and closed the distance between them. Rasilvenaira turned her attention to the Jedi, a feral grin spreading across her lips as she slipped deeper into the bloodlust of battle. Kazumi fell, clutching her side. The Jedi glanced at one another and slowly backed up. While the inexperienced Protector might have been easy prey for them, they reconsidered the folly of engaging a bloodthirsty and enraged Sith when they realized their Mandalorian reinforcements had been severely decimated.
Distracted by the obvious threat in front of them, the Jedi failed to notice the death approaching from behind them. Xan and three of the troopers finished the Jedi off. Rasilvenaira helped Kazumi back to her feet. Her wound was painful but not life threatening. The Sith motioned to two of the troopers.
“I need you two to get Kazumi out of here. Fall back.” One of the soldiers looked somewhat dissatisfied with the orders, and Rasilvenaira caught him by the throat. “She is my apprentice. Her life is mine to take, if and when I choose. I will not give these Jedi and Mandalorian bastards that pleasure. Follow orders or you die here with them.”
The trooper paled visibly and nodded, “Yes, Ma’am.”
They moved off, keeping a hold of Kazumi. The older of the two troopers was not about to let the Protector out of his sight. He had served under Rasilvenaira’s command before, and was well aware of her deadly temper.
Rasilvenaira turned back to Xan as she clipped her saber back on her belt. “Ready for some real fun?”
Xan grinned and pointed to the three Jedi sabers tucked in his own belt. “Aye, that was a nice warm up; but I need more of a challenge, and you’re behind by three.”
The Sith smirked. “For now.”
The troops were reforming while Xen got some much-needed medical attention. He hoped his wounds would heal enough from the bacta to get him right back into the fight. More and more Brotherhood and Mandalorian forces were landing by the minute. He looked over at Tra’an who was holding an ice pack to his groin.
“The endless possible injuries of war, eh?” Xen joked. Tra’an glared and remained silent. Xen shrugged it off, he was still alive, having survived both a crash landing and the rapid attacks of the preliminary Mandolorian forces. It was a good day in his book.
“Eether, face feeling better?” Xen said turning to the Knight. Eether nodded.
“The snapped it back into place. Hurts but atleast my eyes aren’t watering so badly I can’t see anymore.” Eether responded. Suddenly a messenger burst into the medical tent.
“The Council is in play.” He said gasping for breath. Xen snapped from lying down to sitting straight up. His eyes were wide in anticipation.
“Fresh robes, now.” He snapped to the medical droid who quickly brought over generic black robes. Xen redressed, grabbed his gear and was followed out of the tent by Eether. Tra’an hobbled along as fast as he could to command his own forces.
“Have any of the council landed on the surface yet?” Xen asked frantically to a Scholae Palatinae army member. The member looked shocked at being addressed so frankly by his Quaestor but nodded yes. Xen broke out into a wide grin. The council had more forces than any house or clan did.
Xen and Eether reached one of the command areas. Xen quickly joined into the battle planning for defending against future Mandalorian attacks and the house’s own plans for taking Menat Ombo.
“Sir, we have reports that Taigikori is near by. He is in a blood lust and acting quite recklessly. Word from the Council is that we and Plagueis are to ensure nothing happens to him.” A voice through the comm. interrupted the planning. Xen paused, searching out with the force around him. He could sense the blinding rage of the Headmaster near by in the fields of New Tython. He could feel something else as well.
“He is looking for revenge. He is going to attack Liu.” Xen gasped. Keeping Taigikori alive in the middle of the nearby Jedi and Mandalorian forces would not be easy.
“I need Thran on the horn now.” Xen said. It took a minute to connect to the former leader of Scholae Palatinae who was still engaging enemy forces above the planet.
“Look Xen I know you love me but I am kind of busy up here.” Thran said with sounds of the battle coming through as well.
“Ace One, Priority Mission. Code Zed-One-One-Niner.” Xen said. Thran had shut up the instant Xen referred to him by his call sign. Thran paused for a moment due to the battle.
“I’m inbound to your location. Who is the target?” Thran replied.
“The Headmaster. He is looking for Liu. Ground forces will be following.” Xen said and then closed the comm.. Eether looked confused.
“Benefits of being the leaders, you get to have codes to memorize for everything. Go get the men ready. We have a headmaster to protect.” Xen said answering the look Eether was giving. Xen then reached out and picked up the comm. again.
“Tra’an. Going to need Plagueis support on this one. You game?” Xen said with a tone of distaste at having to ask the question.
“Game.” Tra’an replied.
“What in the seven hells happened here?” One of the men asked with a gasp. The forces of Scholae Palatinae had moved within minutes to protect the Headmaster. Bodies littered the ground, but in particular there was a solid line of hacked apart bodies leading straight toward the enemy forces.
Xen looked around but kept his transport moving.
“Taig experienced a lot due to this Jedi. Don’t get in his way. This battle is his, but keep other enemies from interfering.” Xen commanded to the soldiers. The familiar sound of Twin Ion Engines began to be heard over the sound of the moving troops. The forces looked up to see a TIE fighter do a barrel roll and then a loop before proceeding toward enemy forces. Thran never could do things the simply.
“Pick up the pace. We have a war to win.” Xen said.
Darkness was falling on New Tython. Draco and the command staff were ensconced in the basement of a bombed-out building, the rubble having been brushed off into a corner and great sweeps of red and gold streaked across the sky over the demolished roof. Occasional flashes of green darted across the twilight and the deep bass rumble of artillery strikes vibrated the ground.
The rest of the battalion, butted up against forces of Plagueis, were hunkered down as best they could across their zone of control, taking whatever local cover they could while sniping at the Jedi army. Naturally the Jedi were cowards, skulking around the rear whilst their proxies bore the brunt of the fighting. Not that the Mandalorians were slouches, of course. They were, perhaps, the most potent non-Force using fighters in the galaxy. But even the ability to destroy an entire planet was insignificant next to the power of the Force.
The Priest reached out through the Force, his eyes staring into the depths. The situation had become complicated. Rarely had the various clans cooperated without the end being back-stabbing and strife. And now members and the military of the Dark Council show up, and instead of leading them to victory, the might of the clan was ordered to "protect" the vaunted leaders of the Brotherhood.
Maligo sneered. It was a far cry from Palpatine facing four Jedi Council members alone, and then the legendary Yoda. All the military power concentrated around this ridiculous planet had been reduced to bodyguards. Draco sighed. He would like nothing more than to decapitate a few Jedi, but he hadn't sensed any in this small sector of the front. He had spent all his time trying to manage this battle of attrition while keeping an eye out that Plagueis didn't stab him in the back. Many a Mando had fallen under his blade that day, but it didn't compare to a duel.
Following the orders of the Dark Council and the Quaestor of House Scholae Palatinae, Xantros and his fellow comrades, who fought with him against the Mandalorians, moved towards the location of the Headmaster. The Dark Jedi Knight was not happy to do so, as it interrupted their plans. However, the orders were to be carried out with no objection or no sign of hesitation. Also, Xantros learnt to search for positive aspects of any situation, no matter of how bad it would be. Their role of bodyguards was in the contrary of their plans, but it could be perfect opportunity to show off and to get noticed by the Headmaster himself. Xantros realized that it might be very beneficial both for him and for his House. Such opportunity could never happen again.
"Come on, Akatsuki. Let's not waste the time. If you fulfill our task well, we may get noticed by an important member of the Dark Council." grinned Xantros. "I know that you wish to see our House become a Clan again and there is no better way to achieve that than to get an ally in the Dark Council."
"You are correct, Xantros. I'm with you!"
Xantros nodded and continued quick march in silence. He was doubtful, if he could trust anyone from Plagueis. No matter of any alliances and non-aggression pacts, they were still the Dark Jedi. Even despite the best intentions, years of common hatred and mistrusts could not have been overcome so easily. Maybe their joint efforts during the war were going to change that, but Xantros was not willing to wake up with a lightsaber blade sticking out of his chest. His acquired suspiciousness warned him that the members of Plagueis would turn out to be traitors. On the other hand, there was a fleet of the Dark Council above the planet and the members of the ruling body of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood could enforce peace and cooperation among the Clans and the Houses with ease.
Still, Xantros was not happy that so many things depended on fragile alliance with Plagueis. He could only hope that everyonewould be fine.
Shadow and Rayne had arrived not too long ago when already they were thrown into a fray of lightsabers and blaster fire. She had been waiting for this moment, but she hadn’t expected to be met by a mess like this. Already she was trying to deflect baster fire while her master was already charging at a Jedi. She saw Kazumi and her master doing their best to fight back with all the others that were there doing their best to survive. This was war and she knew that she had to expect the unexpected.
Only, she couldn’t have expected the yelp of pain that came from Kazumi’s direction. She turned and saw that Kazumi had been wounded. She wanted to run to her, but she knew she had to focus on her enemies unless she wanted to be in the position Kazumi was or worse. She was relieved however when she saw two troopers take her friend away from the battle.
“At least I won’t have to worry about her getting killed anymore. Now to the fighting.”
She was deflecting blaster fire again with her armory saber when she heard StormRaven yell to fall back. Waiting for Rayne to turn and follow the others, Shadow turned and dived for safety with her master as more fire was directed their way. She silently cursed to herself for nearly getting herself killed and then awaited her master’s orders.
“Shadow, I think it’s time you contacted your cousins to join us here on New Tython. I’ll have a shuttle sent for them.”
Shadow was shocked to hear this. Her cousins, Death Nightwatcher and Vengence Nightstalker hadn’t been trained for as long as she had and bringing them here seemed like an invitation to their death. Of course, it’s wasn’t like she couldn’t die either.
“I guess. They’ll probably come with blasters or maybe some kind of swords, but I’ll tell them that we could use their assistance.”
Pulling her commlink out of her pouch from her belt, she decided to contact the older of the two. Within twenty seconds she heard someone answer.
“Altair, I need you and your brother to come assist us on New Tython. Get whatever weapons you can get and be prepared for a shuttle to pick you up.” Shadow replied. She still called her cousins by their old names.
“Us assist you? Okay, we’ll be there as soon as possible. Meanwhile, stay alive so that we don’t arrive and find out that the fun is over.”
“I’ll do my best. Gotta go. It’s hell over here right now. Shadow out.”
She put her commlink back in her belt pouch and turned her attention to Rayne.
“They’re coming. I hope they just get here soon.”
“That’s nice to hear. Let’s get ready to make a run for it and meet with the others.”
When they heard the firing stop, Shadow and Rayne dashed from behind the boulder and kept running until they rejoined the others. Shadow was relieved to have escaped from death, but she couldn’t help but wonder if she could actually deal with the burden having to make sure her cousins stayed out of trouble.
Bodies littered the ground, some still warm from the initial onslaught of New Tython. The fields were stained red catching the setting sunlight, drawing attention to its presence. The players were in position, the board excited from the first moments of action… The real game had begun.
“Watch your fire!” Xen barked from his seat in the hastily set up command center. The forces of Scholae Palatinae and Plagueis had finally caught up to where Taigikori was engaging the enemy. They quickly established a perimeter to allow the Headmaster a place to fall back to. However it seemed he would refuse to back down. He wanted Liu’s head on a platter and wouldn’t stop until he had succeeded.
“Sir, we are doing our best, he keeps moving around! He is like a madman!” came the response. Xen sighed. The artillery wasn’t going to be of use if they couldn’t safely avoid hitting Taig. The sounds of a TIE Fighter once again broke over the sounds of the firing artillery. Thran was making another pass around the battle trying to keep Taig safe.
“We do this the old fashioned way. Get the men in there. Let Taig do his thing with Liu and get him out of there. I will NOT have him die on our watch.” Xen commanded. He stood and stretched out his neck and then rolled his shoulders. Back into the fray it would be.
“Sir, word from Plagueis. Tra’an is ordering his troops to move and flank the Mandalorians.” A communication officer reported. Xen sighed. The battle was spread out too far to flank properly. Plagueis would have to cut in to the middle of the battle to attempt to come from the side towards Taig.
Xen stood with out anything to say about the choice. He muttered some curses under his breath out of frustration of the entire situation. He had hoped to be cleaning up from an easy take over of Menat Ombo by now.
“So much for an easy war.” He said. And with that he left to join the men on the front line.
Eether looked at his aggravated master and completely agreed with him. At this current moment in the battle, a flanking patrol would be immensely difficult to pull off because of the layout. There were just simply too many people spread out around the clearing to do it properly with the little or no casualties. But since Scholae was to work with Plagueis, this was their order, they had to help them out.
He looked at his master and sighed heavily but lit his lightsaber, its light blue blade illuminating the area in the light. "So Xen, what should we do? Help them flank or let them go one way and therefore us the other?"
Xen looked at him and then at the Plagueis members, surveyed the field once more in a quick sweep and barked orders, "Plagueis, do what Tra'an ordered, you go around, we'll sneak the other way, it'll be tough, don't get killed."
The two groups separated and moved around Taig. The Plagueis members engaged in combat with some more Mando's and Jedi, with quick procession, they easily destroyed them. A rancor controlled by someone sitting up top lumbered around stepping on anyone that was not in the Brotherhood.
The members of Scholae bound the other way to secure the area for Taig with no interruptions. Thran did another sweep, using his perfect aim and taking out a Mando in the process before heading off. Eether dug his right foot into the ground and bound into the air. Using the force, he pulled a Mando out of the fray from behind and sliced his saber downward, severing his arm off. Eether swiftly turned around and swung upward cutting the man in two.
The members flooded in, leaving room for Taig, occasionally pulling a member who strayed too far. After a few snag and pulls, they began to charge at us, actually paying attention.
Eether turned to Xen, "Well...that was fun huh?"
They kept coming, but their top priority was taking care of Taig
Xan took up the lead, with the troopers falling into formation behind him as they moved off towards their original destination. He glanced around, and then shook his head. He was used to his former apprentice’s habit of vanishing into thin air. The sky was darkening, and that provided ample shadows for the sneaky Sith to hide in.
The Obelisk felt the ripple of warning through the Force and he motioned to the troopers to be ready. Another group of Mandalorians rushed over the hill ahead of them, and Xan grinned as his lightsaber snapped to life again. As the forces of Scholae Palatinae engaged the enemy, Xan thought he caught a glimpse of the flash of a blue lightsaber off to his right. He dismissed it however, as he needed to focus on the immediate threat.
Finally the last Mandalorian fell, and Xan clipped his saber back to his belt. He heard a scream as a Jedi came running in their direction. Xan started to ignite his saber once more but the Jedi was dropped by an angry silver blade from behind. He sighed as he watched Rasilvenaira tuck the Jedi’s weapon into a pocket.
“So where’d you disappear to?”
Rasilvenaira grinned, “I went hunting.” She pulled six Jedi sabers out of her pocket to show for her efforts, and then put them away again.
Xan nodded to the carnage around him, “We got side tracked playing with some Mandos.”
She looked her master over and laughed. “I’d almost think you were a Sith with so much red on you.”
He glanced at his blood stained armor and shrugged, “None of it is mine, which is what counts.”
“True enough, and I’m sure there are a lot more Jedi out there for us to kill.”
He nodded, “Aye, though, it almost doesn’t seem fair. Two of us, against all of them? Should probably be nice and give them a chance to surrender, but that wouldn’t be any fun.”
“I’m a Sith, I’m never nice. I say we kill them all.”
He grinned, “Agreed.”
They started to move out again when one of the troopers stepped forward, “Commander?”
Xan tilted his head, “Yes?”
“New orders, Sir. From the Emp…”
The withering glare from Rasilvenaira caused the words to die in the soldier’s throat. He swallowed hard and hesitated.
She shrugged, “What does he want?”
“We’re to rendezvous with the main Scholae force, and we were also advised that we’re to ensure the safety of the Headmaster who is in that general vicinity.”
Rasilvenaira scowled, “Oh goody. I would assume that means the Dark Council finally arrived to the party?”
The trooper nodded, “Yes, Ma’am.”
“Alright, let’s get moving then. It’s getting dark; we can use the cover of night to our advantage.”
Rasilvenaira walked beside Xan, letting her thoughts drift. The Sith’s plotting, scheming mind added a few more names to the list of people she hoped would find their way onto the casualty list during the war. Some were stupidly lucky or well protected, however, so she remained realistic that most of her desired targets would somehow survive despite the odds against them. As her mind continued down various paths of thought, the Battlelord amused herself even more as she considered several possibilities.
Xan glanced over at her, “What’s so funny?”
“Hm?” Realizing that she’d chuckled to herself, she shook her head, “Oh, nothing really. Ever have something you keep as a dream or fantasy, even if you know it’s totally impossible and will likely never happen, but it still makes you happy or amuses you to think about anyway?”
The Obelisk quirked a curios eyebrow at his former apprentice, “Yeah, I suppose so. Why?”
A devious grin spread across her lips, “I was just amusing myself, thinking about mine.”
“What would that be? Or do I even want to know, knowing that slippery mind of yours?”
She gave him a feigned look of indignation and then smirked, “I was just thinking how enjoyable it would be to see Muz’s ship blasted to bits with him on it, and then those bits blasted into smaller bits, and those bits blasted into bits of bits, until there weren’t any bits left.”
Xan’s eyes widened slightly, “Uh, Ras, I think you’re forgetting something.”
She considered for a moment, and then her smile grew even more. “Of course! I should probably leave a few Muz bits to be collected, and then I can stuff those bits in a box, and put that box inside another box, and send it to myself. And when it arrives, I can enjoy myself smashing the box to bits with a hydrospanner.”
Xan just shook his head, “Ras, you truly are crazy.”
The Battlelord blinked and reached over to put a hand on his forehead, “Are you sick, Xan? When the hell have I ever claimed to be sane?”
He swatted her hand away and laughed, “You know talk like that could be dangerous, he is the Grand Master.”
She shrugged, “What’s he going to do if he found out? Kill me? Please, he can stand in line with half the galaxy that wants me dead. Pfft. I’m not worried about it. Besides that, it’s not like I’m actually doing anything, just thinking how enjoyable it would be if it did happen. It’s just a long time fantasy of mine.”
“Aight. Just be careful, ok? Maybe we’ll get lucky and run into a few more Jedi on the way. You still need to catch up.”
Rasilvenaira looked over at him, “What do you mean ‘catch up’? I have more Jedi sabers than you now.”
He grinned, “But I have more kills.”
She shrugged, “Whatever. There’s no bounty on the Mandos yet.”
“Kills are still kills, my apprentice.”
“Fine, loser’s buying?”
He nodded, “Always.”
Rasilvenaira grinned, “Let’s get to it then. Too many Jedi still alive by my counts.”
Akatsuki scowled at the commands of Xantros. "Aye, we should do as directed by Xen and the Dark Council, but we still can enjoy the journey there..." Akatsuki said quickly as she dropped to all fours and ran off to the lush jungle edge.
"Akat...argh...why can you not do as I ask?" Xantros said aloud. The two Plagueis members chuckled under their breath as the Jedi Hunter disappeared from view.
Akatsuki made her way to a clearing in the middle of some shrubbery. With nightfall, the moon shone brightly. She looked up at it and thought, 'Where is my Master?' She knew with her training she'd be able to contact Valkas so she did as she had been instructed. The large Horansi sat calmly and reached out to her Master. 'I am afraid, I am alone...' was all she managed to get out.
Her Masters voice came to her clearly in the Force. "Patience my apprentice, do as I taught you, use your abilities...your time is coming where you can stand alone and don't need me beside you...consider this a test."
Akatsuki growled in response. "Test! A fine time for a test!" She stood up, rage building deeply within, to two feet and started walking parallel to the path she knew Xantros and the Plaguians were on.
Ahead, Akatsuki could make out a Jedi meditating under a tree. She couldn't determine if he was sleeping or meditating at first, but then she could feel the Force around the perimeter.
She pulled her Krath War Blade from its sheath. Playing the odds that most humans are right handed, and the fact that the Jedi's lightsaber was on his right hip, she aimed the blade at his right shoulder. With one slash, the Krath Blade easily severed the Jedi's right arm. "Aaaaaaaaaah." The Jedi cried out before Akatsuki dealt another, and final, stab through the heart of the scourge.
Pleased with herself, Akatsuki picked up the lightsaber and decided to ignite it. As the green beam grew, she lost control of it and cut down a medium sized tree right in front of her. It landed only 1 meter short of landing on Xantros.
"That is why you don't get one of those yet!" Xantros yelled, "Give me that Aka!" and confiscated the Horansi's treasure. "If you are done fooling around, shall we go do as ordered?"
Akatsuki nodded in response and followed but smiled wickedly to herself as she sent a message out to her Master, "Test passed."
Altair knew that in a matter of hours, he and his brother Sabin would be reunited with their cousin Shadow. Altair only knew that it would be a chance for Sabin and him to show to their House that they were not just here to fight, but to conquer and rule.
“You know this is not going to be easy, right?” Sabin said to his older brother.
“I know, Sabin. I know.”
Altair looked out into space and wondered about his place in the battlefield and then looked at his brother once again. Altair then noticed his A280 rifle lying on his lap. It was the weapon he picked out from the armory. He picked it out for its ability to be effective from long range. To him, it seemed to be perfect for any ideal situation. If he needed to, he could take off the scope to make it effective at medium to long range, and add the scope if it was necessary to take targets from afar.
Sabin preferred a rifle that had enough stopping power to force the opponent to flinch and then finish him or her with a headshot. Accuracy mattered to Sabin. He knew a couple of well-placed shots was much effective than blasting away all his ammunition. That was why he picked out his Prax-Arms AXM-50.
Altair and Sabin had never actually been in actual combat. They knew what to do in battle situations; they just never had been in a real battle where they could actually put themselves the test. Altair grabbed another clip of ammo. He knew he would need it. He also knew that here, people would die.
He looked outside the shuttle once again to see if they were getting closer to the landing area. His brother just grabbed a few more clips of ammo and chuckled to himself.
“What is so funny huh, Sabin?” asked Altair.
“That look on your face, Altair. You know this is why we’re here. You know the dark side and its glories guide our people through every battle.”
“You are right, Sabin. The dark side will always protect us through every battle. Our goals shall soon be within our grasp, younger brother,” said Altair.
Their shuttle neared closer to their destination with every passing minute. The planet’s surface was clear to them now.
“We are close to the planet, Altair. Are you ready for this?” questioned Sabin.
“We shall show them why standing up to the Dark Side is of no use. They will watch their brethren fall beneath the might of our glorious empire. This is why we are here.”
“Then let us see how we can help Shadow out,” said Sabin
“Agreed,” said Altair.
The shuttle landed at that moment and the doors opened clearly for Altair and Sabin to see the land they stepped into. There, waiting for them was Shadow.
“Long times no see eh, Shadow?” was the only thing Sabin said to Shadow as they met with her.
“It has been a while huh, Shadow? What is the situation?” asked Altair.
“You will see, Altair. I’m just glad that we have some reinforcements.” replied Shadow.
“Yes, now it is time to show these wretched creatures why fighting against us is just useless. This is why glory and honor guides our ascension.”
Shadow looked at her cousins pensively as the shuttle began to take off. She knew that Death Nightwatcher, or Altair, was pretty much ready for battle and concluded that he had a chance to live. She about thought the same for Sabin until she noticed the furtive look on his face that suggested mischief. As long as he didn’t do anything dumb and didn’t go overboard, she could see that he had a chance as well.
“Well, I guess we better get going, but let me inform you of how things go here. First, my master, Rayne, will be the one issuing orders to the both of you as she does me. Second, I think it’s safe to say that if she passes an order to me so that I can pass it to you, listen to me as you would her. Last, don’t question orders. It’s for your own good and it makes things easier on everyone.”
She saw both of her cousins’ face covered in annoyance and boredom. She knew that if they were to survive that they needed to not think of her as someone who was going to be on their backs all the time.
“Anyways, you two, let’s go have a wonderful and bloody time.” She said, knowing that she failed miserably trying to be humorous.
“Okay, now let’s turn our attention to Rayne and she what orders she as for us.”
As Shadow turned to face her master, she couldn’t help but feel that she had sounded a bit too harsh.
“Thanks, Shadow. Anyway, I have received orders that we are to meet with the others and help them protect the Headmaster. So, while we head in that direction, keep sharp. There could be Jedi or Mandos hiding around and ready to strike when we least expect it.” Rayne said already tuning to leave.
Keeping in pace with her master, Shadow looked behind and saw her cousins following with confidence in each step. She wondered if the two would ever live to see knighthood. Looking at their eyes, she found them full of anticipation and lust of killing their first Jedi. She too hoped to make her first kill, but she wasn’t sure if that would ever happen.
“You aren’t sure if you’ll ever kill your first Jedi.”
Shadow was irritated with herself. She knew that she should have hid her thoughts better.
“Yes, I guess you could say that.”
Rayne smiled. “You’ll have your chance. You’ll just need to know when that chance is and how to act upon it before you lose it. Have patience, Shadow. You’ll eventually have your revenge.”
Shadow was shocked. She had never told Rayne about how she had wanted vengeance on the Jedi for what they had done to her in the past. What else did her master know about her? She wondered what other surprises her master had in store for her.
“And by the way, you’ll have a better chance than those two,” Rayne whispered in her ear.
All Shadow could do was laugh.
The time of the final assault on the Jedi came. All Clans and Houses of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood joined their forces in order to strike their enemies and their allies down. Definitely, there was a bloodshed going to happen...However, Xantros was not sure if it was a good idea to force members of different Clans and Houses to fight arm to arm. Tensions and conflicts between them were inevitable. It was enough to remember that members of House Scholae Palatinae and House Tarentum were sworn enemies due to the intrigues of Tarentum, which almost led to the fall of Scholae Palatinae.
Xantros did not even wanted to think about possible conflicts between other Clans and Houses. Amidst the chaos of the battle, it was important to have loyal comrades guarding your back. In such situation like they were in, it was impossible to trust anyone from the outside of House Scholae Palatinae, not even members of Plagueis, who were allied with the Imperial House.
Xantros did not like the situation, as he had very bad feelings about that. It could end up in internal conflicts only. Internal conflicts could end up in friendly fighting only. Fight on two fronts would bring terrible casualties and loses in the numbers of Scholae Palatinae warriors. They had to prevent that from happening...somehow. But how? Xantros decided to answer that question as soon as possible, as there was no time to lose. He would never allow unnecessary casualties weaken the position of House Scholae Palatinae among other Clans and Houses.
However, Xantros did not have much time to think, as he and his comrades almost reached the rendevouz point of the forces of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.
“GET DOWN!” Xen yelled over the din of the battle. He lunged and tackled Eether to the ground just as a large chunk of earth was blown away from an enemy’s blast. Or was it an ally’s? It was impossible to tell. Jedi, Mandalorians, Sith, Krath, Obelisk, Soldiers all littered the battlefield. What had once been an organized assault was a level beyond chaos.
Xen rolled off of his former apprentice and got to his feet. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the red swirl of a lightsaber and the glint of a metal jaw. Taig was still alive, continuing his duel with Liu. Xen let out a relieved sigh that the Headmaster was still alive at least. Xen tightened his grip on his lightsaber hilt and reactivated it.
Strike, deflect blaster bolt, downward slash, side step. Xen moved with precision through the battlefield. He cut through the common soldiers like a hot knife through butter. He would slow down as he found himself facing Mandalorians, but never stopped moving. He stepped over a body marked with the symbol of Naga Sadow; He stepped over another body this time from Tarentum.
There was a yell of rage, he turned seeing an unknown Arconan charging straight at him. Xen side stepped the attacked and swung up with his blade severing the man’s raised arms.
“Do I look like a Jedi fool?!” Xen yelled as the Arconan fell to his knees. Xen kicked the man in the back sending him face first into the dirt. The history between Arcona and Scholae Palatinae was a long one but one Xen had thought was mostly settled.
Xen turned and nearly ran into Eether again, who was keeping close behind. Xen was glad to have someone around who would have his back. The two ran into a troop of Taldryan soldiers and quickly moved away from them, not wanting to get in the way. They needed to find their own people. Ones they could at least somewhat trust out here on the battlefield.
Eether grunted as he fell to the ground and muttered a thanks to Xen for making him duck below the explosion radius. His former master got off and jumped back into battle. He coughed heavily and stood up, pulling his saber out and re-igniting it once more, he started hacking, slashing and maneuvering through the battlefield.
Eether caught up to Xen just as the Acronan had attempted to kill him as he fell to the ground. As Xen turned back around, a ridiculous Jedi thought he could take this opportunity to strike Xen down. Eether pooled a little force in his feet and jumped forward. As Eether landed between Xen and the Jedi, Eether made a downward slash from shoulder to hip, severing the Jedi in half out of the surprise attack.
Eether picked up the saber and clipped it to his belt, making a total of only 5 sabers. Eether took a moment to glance down and thought to himself, man..why'd I have to find more Mandos' than Jedi?
As bolts came from every direction, Eether easily blocked them, defending his master, no man or women could look out for everything, "Don't worry sir, you are safe here, just worry about what's ahead of us and we'll find our men!"
Xen nodded a quick agreement and they surged forward, avoiding the Taldryan's. Eether squinted at them, he didn't trust them, he hardly trusted anyone but his unit on this. They were his family, he would protect them with his life if need be.
They kept walking, killing any opponent that got in their way, their sabers melding in a flash of bright red and light blue. If one were to look at them, they might see purple from how the two of them kept switching forms within each others' guard. The two kicked over one another, ducked beneath each other, twisted around and slashed. Seeing no other Scholae Palatinae members, they protected each other.
The two of them added a few more sabers to their collection to turn in at the end of this. As the two of them reached the top of a small hill, Eether spotted Xantros across the way. Xantros looked at Eether and Xen and waved slightly, shouting a greeting. Eether's eyes grew wide and pointed above Xantros, "WATCH OUT!"
Above the small group flew two Mandos' with their wrists aimed at the small group. Eether turned to Xen, "THROW ME!"
Without hesitation, Xen grabbed Eether's shoulders, spun around a few times, concentrated in the force and threw Eether at them. As Eether flew through the air, used the force to push the further Mando away and slashed at the closer one's jet pack. The Mando fell to the ground, rocket just barely missing Xantros.
Eether kept rocketing forward into the Mando he threw back, his saber in front of him as he plunged it into him. Together they fell to the ground again, Eether pushed the Mando towards the ground and landed on him just in time to see Xantros behead the other mando.
Eether grinned and looked at his friend, "Glad to see you made it this far, now let's go!"
Xen made his way towards him and a few others Scholae members and nodded, "Eether, you're completely ridiculous, just saying."
Everyone turned outward to protect each other and kept moving on.
Definitely, it was good to have Eether and Xen'Mordin, as well as other of his Dark Brethren from Scholae Palatinae, protecting each other's back. Xantros was sure that he could trust them...at least to some extend, as they shared the same agenda and philosophy. They knew that only joint efforts could provide them due respect and position within all Clans and Houses of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. Thus, Xantros could be sure that his comrades were not going to betray and to attack him. "At least, not now," he thought. No matter of all, it was much more comfortable situation than to fight alongside members of other House only.
Xantros and his Dark Brethren pushed their way through the Mandalorians and the Jedi. The next minutes seemed to last forever. Dodge, block, attack. Block, dodge, attack. Short moment of rest behind the protective lightsabers of Xen'Mordin and Eether and joining danse macabre again. Soon after, Xantros stopped counting their victims. Their path was marked with dead bodies, most of which lacked heads, arms or legs. They wanted to deal as much damage to their enemies before any other Clan or House could interrupt their killing spree.
Even Xantros could sense that the inevitable conflict between the Dark Jedi was arising quickly. It could not be avoided and was going to happen soon, in the moment of victory. Xantros knew that everything might be lost, if the conflict broke out too soon. All efforts might be wasted, all plans and hopes might be shattered...There was only one thing was sure...Members of the Imperial House were going to follow the orders of the Dark Council and to strike anyone, who would dare to oppose them...No matter if it was going to be Jedi and Mandalorians or Dark Jedi.
Xantros gripped his lightsaber even stronger and faced another Mandalorian...
Rayne could feel the quiet breeze, its caress soothing her amidst of the mayhem of war. She was no stranger to war but the smell of blood in the air invigorated her. She glanced to the side to her companions, her apprentice Shadow, and her cousins simply known as Death and Vengeance. It was up to Rayne to ensure their protection and although most Sith would find this job distasteful, to Rayne it was a privilege to guide the younger Sith.
Atop the small hillock they had just credited, they could see the entire eastern portion of the battle waging between Odan-Urr and their Mandalorian lackeys and the combined forces of Plagueis and Scholae Palatinae. Rayne nodded down to the battlefield and spoke to the group "Tell me what you see."
Shadow gazed down at the battlefield. Her lips moving almost imperceptibly as she counted the units before her. Rayne watched her young apprentice, evaluating her, searching for any signs of weakness.
"I see a column of Mandalorians. Assaulting what appears a Palatinaean position." Shadow responded.
"And what do you think we should do about it?" Rayne asked calmly.
Shadow's golden eyes darting to Death.
"We attack. Assault them from the rear. Perhaps find the general." Death spoke for the first time in Rayne's presence.
"Very good." she acknowledged his answer with an approving smile before once again addressing her apprentice as her gaze returned to the battlefield. "Shadow, how fast are you?"
"I am... capable, why?" she inquired.
"Death. Vengeance. You two stay back and lay down a base of fire on those Mandalorians. On my mark only. Shadow and I will flank them." Rayne ordered. "Understood?"
They nodded. Shadow drew her lightsaber and nodded as well. Rayne strode confidently down the other side of the hillock, Shadow quickly falling in step.
“How do you suppose we will attack, Master?”
“We surprise them, Shadow.”
With a sigh of relief, Kael Fayne threw to the ground the Mandalorian helmet he had been wearing for the past hour. "I can't wait to wash off that smell."
Koga Kage silently agreed, his own helmet landing next to Kael's on the tank's metal floor. In the midst of the utter chaos of war, no one had noticed how many Mandos and Jedi alike were being taken down due to "friendly" fire. The pair of Obelisk had fought from the back of the pack the whole time, firing wide of any Brotherhood forces while carefully picking off their true enemies.
Nevertheless, an opportunity had presented itself as they managed to gun down the crew to a Canderous-Class Assault Tank before they could mount the vessel. Kael adjusted himself to the tank's controls, having played around with such a tank while training with Scholae's Expeditionary Forces. The tank suddenly jerked forward and took its position near the rear of a column of Mandalorians approaching the epicenter of the conflict.
Koga sat in front of one of the gunner's control stations, reading the tank's Concussion Missle launchers. "Kael, we need to make our presence known to our people. If your driving doesn't kill us, their artilary bombardments will."
"The problem is, by now, all the proper channels are either jammed or tapped." The Arkanian thought to himself for a minute before reconfiguring the tank's comm to an ordinarily unused, antiquated freqency protocol. "Attention, attention...any bastards out there?"
"What the---How did you get this frequency? Identify yourself!" came an unfamiliar voice on the other end of the comm.
"Good, you've kept your Dad's old as Force SOS line open. This is Kael Fayne. I'm behind enemy lines operating a Cando-Tank coming up behind a column of reinforcements to the south of the main battlefield. Do me a favor and make sure Arch doesn't take any pot shots at me."
"Wait a minute--Yeah, we have you on radar. IFFs updated." The voice of Kell Dante answered much calmer than before. "Give them Chaos!"
"Kael, that line of troops is getting close to firing range. I say we plug a missile in the back of those other two tanks and plow through the infantry."
"Finally, my reckless driving will pay off. Don't let that cannon go cold once we're on the other side...Alright, I'm ready. When the feeling hits ya, fire."
Within seconds the tank jolted back as the first missle screamed out, sending pyrotechnics high into the air as it collided with the enemy tank's rear. A second of lag to reload seperated the next strike before Kael pushed the accelerator all the way in. Several of the Mandos managed to dodge the charging, reek-like tank.
Many more didn't.
There was a sick squishing noise as Xen’Mordin walked along the fields of New Tython. The ground, stained red from blood, had turned into a dark muddy mix of earth and the lifeforce that had been spilt there.
“Ick. You are going to need some new boots.” Eether said after looking down to see how deep and sticky the blood-mud was. Xen smirked for a moment and then took a long swig from a canteen. His mouth felt as dry as Tatoonie and his throat raw.
The troops of Scholae Palatinae, at least the ones Xen had been able to make contact with so far, were marching in pursuit of the retreating Jedi forces. There was little desire to allow any of the Jedi a moment of rest. Of course this meant none of the Brotherhood forces would receive rest either.
But then again, they could rest when they were dead.
And now there were rumors sweeping through the ranks of the Brotherhood. Muz had landed on the surface. Landed and was facing his own master.
Xen looked around, he could feel the surge of power coming from all the members of the council but could not see them.
“Sir, report.” Said a runner. Xen grabbed the file and looked at it. Kael had hijacked a tank, Rayne was moving around the forces Xen now pursued. A list of confirmed casualties. Typical
“Good.” Xen said. The men around him suddenly picked up their pace. Eether looked around excitedly.
“Looks like they had to stop their retreat, we’ve got them blocked in.” Eether said craning his neck to look in the direction the soldiers were running. Xen smiled and adjusted his cloak before running off along with the troops toward the excitement.
They could rest when they were dead.
Eether stretched his neck and cracked it, and took off following Xen. Eether thought to himself while running past men on the ground, some dead, others screaming in pain with missing limbs. This war had not been the best, but he had survived it, he had proven himself and his rank; he had even protected his master and emperor a few times.
With the current forces rounding up the last of the Jedi and Mandos, this war was nearly finished and he could not believe that. He had been part of the vendetta, rite of supremacy and even the cause, but nothing quite compared to this. He was not even sure if some of his friends had survived, he had only run into Xantros and a few others, most were still missing and unaccounted for.
As the small force of Scholae ran to meet up with the other troops surrounding the retreat of the Jedi, Eether caught up to Xen, "So how do you think Muz will fair? I mean I know he is extremely powerful, but if he is fighting the man who trained him...? Dang."
Xen just scoffed, "You need to believe in your leader you schmuck, now let's get this done so we can go home and get this over with got it?"
They found themselves coming up with some other members of their house, Reiden was out front, "You two made it eh? What a shame"
He made that second comment mostly to Xen who arched an eyebrow at him, "Shame huh? Guess I will have to show you the reasons after this is done."
Eether just looked at Reiden and laughed, he did not know what he had just gotten himself into. They turned back to their enemies and got to work at finishing this war.
Xan pointed to the gathering forces across the landscape.
“There’s our gathering forces. It seems the Jedi are retreating, and we’re to chase them like the dogs they are.”
“Aye” said Ras.
“More for us to kill, but we need to hurry, they wont last long against our massed forces.”
Xan smiled at his apprentice. “True. All these crazed folk going after the saber bounty, might give us a little more trouble than usual.”
Ras lets out an evil grin. “Anyone, anyone who gets in our way will die. Besides, I’m still ahead on the sabers.”
Xan flashed a mischievous smile. “I don’t think that will be true for very long, my apprentice.”
Xan then rushed ahead, in full sprint towards the heart of the battle with Ras close behind. He loved this feeling. The rush, the vigour of open battle, the chaos, brutality and energy of it was sustaining him. He could see Jedi retreating close by, and immediately pursued them without a moment’s hesitation. He concentrated, and leaped into the air, igniting his yellow blade. The jedi sensed his presence, and tried to retaliate, but the Prelate’s attacks were too intense, too brutal. Xan attacked the nearest jedi, his blade crashing against his opponent’s. He overpowered the jedi, knocking him back with sheer brutality. As the jedi staggered back, Xan swept low, severing both legs in one sweep, spun, and decapitated the jedi and kicked his lifeless corpse away. The other jedi were clearly angered by the death, and all attacked at once. Xan welcomed the challenge, 2 against 1 was a walk in the park to him, it was only fair. Xan’s movements were fluid, graceful, but brutal and relentless. He deflected a killing blow, and force pushed his opponents away, but then picked out the nearest, force pulled the jedi into his yellow blade, impaling. He grinned wickedly at the dying jedi, reversed his grip, and brutally cut him in half. He turned his attention to his remaining opponent. The jedi rushed towards Xan, hoping to overpower him with a flurry of attacks, striking low and high, trying to throw off Xan’s defenses. It was unsuccessful, Xan’s lust for battle, for the adrenaline and rush of combat was only increasing his senses, and the jedi’s attacks were clumsy and unrefined. Xan was caught in a beautiful dance of defenses, parrying, dodging, jumping, spinning...it was all so beautiful to watch. Xan was toying with his prey, but it was time to move on. He quickly overpowered the jedi and gracefully severed his head from his body.
Xan smiled and disengaged his saber.
“Now THAT was fun.”
He then gathered his 3 trophies and looked down the valley. Ras was running up the hill to meet him, silver blade ignited.
Xan smiled at her as she looked at the corpses around them.
“No fair, I wanted to kill them.” Ras groaned.
“Well, where were you? There were plenty for both of us.” Xan smiled.
Ras sighed. “Some blasted Mando’s decided to try and riddled me with holes.”
Xan smiled at his apprentice. “Well, it seems we’re tied. I suppose this tie can be decided on a duel back home?”
Ras grinned at her Master. “You’re on.”