GJW7 - Incursion
Second Darkness had come to an end. While some of the members of Tarentum had despised this petty game, others had done particularly well for themselves, and were called to attend the award ceremonies. The ships of Tarentum had gathered together and made the trip to the appointed location for the ceremony. The Vae Victus was designated as the stage for the ceremony, with the Grand Master himself sitting onboard to reward each participant who stood out amongst their peers, and finally, to reward the "winning Clans" for all that they had one.
After the ceremony had concluded, Tarentum's rotation had come as defensive force one. Each Clan had been designated a specific time frame to act as defenders for the ceremony, and once his allies and Clanmates had received their due rewards, Sith had returned to the Corsair. Some of the Clan had chosen to remain onboard the Vae Victus, but Sith had had enough of the festivities and political intrigue that always accompanied these type of events. He had actually been somewhat annoyed to have been "requested" to attend by the Grand Master himself; no doubt, Sarin had probably seen portents that said Tarentum's Consul likely would've skipped attending, and begun making the return trip to Yridia. Instead, the Sith Master had been in attendance, and after returning to his Clan's flagship, was discussing defensive plans with his Clan's Marshal, Maxamillian von Oberst-Tarentae.
"We resign duties of defending this location in three hours time," Oberst said, "and I suggest we withdraw from the Shroud at that time. The festivities have long since ended, and there is nothing more to detain us here, Consul."
"I agree, Marshal," Sith responded. "You and I both would've preferred to have foregone this ceremony. But, Tarenti were ofered rewards, and they have more than earned this recognition and honor. When everyone has returned from the Vae Victus, begin preparations to return to Yridia. Once our rotation has ended, I want to leave."
"Marshal!" One of the deck officers stood at attention to clarify where the shout had come from. "We're picking up readings, unidentified vessels exiting hyperspace in close proximity!"
"All officers, come to alert status!" Tarentum's Marshal barked the order quickly. "I want those ships identified. Someone alert the--"
"They have attacked the Vae Victus!"
Tarentum's Marshal turned and eyed the officer who had interrupted him. In other situations, such an interruption might bring punishment, but this was something to be expected at the moment. Tarenti were still onboard the Vae Victus, and a standing order among every ship's crew in Tarentum was that Tarenti were to be defended and kept watch over above all else.
"Move the fleet," Oberst commanded, "and begin forming up in a defensive position near the Vae Victus. We have Tarenti onboard that ship, and I want them defended at all cost. Contact them, and tell them they are to return to the Corsair with all due haste."
Oberst glanced over at Tarentum's Consul, who had moved over to stand near the larger Marshal. The Shaevalian was quiet for a long moment, and he knew that the Marshal was waiting for him to say something. The ship was alive with activity, each officer or crewman doing their job with practiced ease. The increase in activity and movement created a noticeable scent, as those men and women in their uniforms began to perspire from the increase activity and stress of the situation. You didn't need the Force to tell you that people were suddenly worried. It wasn't a friend or family member who was in trouble, it was Tarenti. Though the ship's crew had no blood ties to those Dark Siders onboard the Vae Victus, they were bonded with familial ties that went deeper than blood. They had all chosen to be family, to be Clan. And though the crew of the Corsair, as well as every other ship in Tarentum's fleet had nothing except that bond to the Tarenti, that bond was all that was needed to say "we need to get them back to our protective care, now."
"Marshal, I want to know when all of the Tarenti are returned safely to our ships," Bloodfyre said softly. "And, if you would be so kind, I'd like to know what is attacking us, and I'd like them to be destroyed as quickly as possible."
Korvyn had returned from his Guard duties on board the Vae Victus. It had been a dull assignment with little for him to do than look good in his uniform. The Ceremony had been something that he would have altogether had avoided if possible. He had seen many of them in his previous job. Having the first shift in Tarentum's rotation helped him get back earlier than most of his clan mates.
Returning to his Quarters after the debriefing Korvyn settled in for a nice long rest. His bunk mate was another new member that seemed to think the party was the greatest thing to happen in the galaxy since hover ball. At least he would be to drunk to return to the Corsair which would let Korvyn get some real rest.
He hadn’t really understood the reason behind all the guards. Of course the clans didn’t always have the greatest of relations but the would hardly break into a all out melee at an awards ceremony. And on the confines of a star ship his X-45 rifle was useless as well as his sniper skills. He did carry a Litch-Blade but it wouldn’t withstand a light saber. Instead Korvyn figured it was more for show to have a guard every five meters throughout the ship. Some no doubt considered it an honor to be assigned the role.
Just as he dosed off however the warning alarms went off. Summoning everyone to battle stations, this meant to the briefing room alpha just down the corridor.
“This had better not be a drill,” Korvyn said to himself.
Jason Hunter laid on his back, underneath the fuselage of his A-wing. A hysdrospanner was in his hands, and he was using it to torque down a bolt on a component of his deflector shield generator. Once he had reached the proper amount of torque, the tool beeped at him, letting him know to stop twisting. Releasing pressure and moving the hydrospanner away, the Corellian grabbed a rag and wiped some grease away from where he had been working.
This small Alliance ship had become a project for him. He used to pilot a TIE Defender, a ship he had stolen from the Emperor's Hammer during the Split. Since then, however, it had been destroyed, so Jason had been forced to choose another. The A-wing wasn't his primary choice, but it was all that was available that met his speed needs. A few upgrades later, however, and the light, nimble starfighter was almost as good as his old Defender.
Except that he kept on having to make adjustments. Those new parts weren't particularly designed for just such an application, and didn't quite mesh together as well as the stock components.
"Well, I hope that fixes the alignment problem," Jason said to himself as he rolled out from underneath his ship. Wiping grime from his hands with the same rag he had been using all day, he reached into the cockpit and flipped the switches that would start the starfighter. His shift from patrol was coming up, and he figured he might as well let the A-wing warm-up while he was changing into his flight suit.
Jason wouldn't get that time, however, as all the klaxons on all the decks of the Corsair suddenly came to life. Shortly after the startling cacophony began, the voice of Oberst, Marshal of the military forces of Tarentum, boomed over the loud speakers.
"All crew, to your battle stations! This is not a drill. I repeat, battle stations!"
"Son of a Hutt!" Jason cursed, tossing the hydrospanner into a nearby tool cart. Knowing that any hesitation in executing an order would result in a severe beating from the Marshal, the Krath Archpriest Force-leapt into the cockpit of his fighter, donned his helmet, and closed the canopy.
"Archpriest Hunter," the voice of the traffic controller came over his helmet's headset. "You are cleared for launch."
Jason responded with sending a double-click, an affirmative signal, and made a rapid exit through the magcon field. Once in the void of space, Jason angle towards the bow of the Corsair. Pushing the throttles all the way forward, he had cleared the massive hull of the ship in a matter of seconds. Suddenly, his tactical display--which had taken some time to come online--was filled with data. It took him a moment to understand it all, but when he did, he wish he hadn't.
There was a mammoth enemy fleet arrayed against the entirety of the Brotherhood. And it dwarfed them. Ships winked out of life, usually in pairs, every second. The comm boards were filled with threat assesments, damage reports, and the dying cry of some distant pilot.
"Kriff...I wish I was back on Yridia," he muttered, turning his eyes towards the carnage unfolding in the distance...
Deatharoc returned to his quarters from a night that was the very epitome of dull, in his opinion. The Guardian was bored at the entire ceremony. Deatharoc would've preferred to have stayed on Yridia but was made to go. To Deatharoc, going to the party was little more than an excuse to wear his best uniform and mingle with other members in the party. He left the Vae Victus as soon as he could.
"At least the food was alright."
Deatharoc said to himself. The Guardian was aboard the flagship of Tarentum, the Victory-Class Star Destroyer named the Corsair. The young Sith looked forward to returning to Castle Tarentum. His long awaited return was delayed by the fact that Tarentum was defending the location. Deatharoc would be on guard duty aboard the Corsair in an hour or so and decided to take a nap before that. Deatharoc began to lay on his bed and get comfortable.
Suddenly, out of the speakers boomed the familiar voice of Deatharoc's master Dark Side Adept Maxamillian von Oberst-Tarentae, the Marshal of the Armies of Tarentum.
"All aboard the ship, get to your battle stations immediately! This is not a drill! We're under attack!"
Deatharoc immediately sprang up from his bed and ran out of his room towards the hangar. As the journeyman ran through the halls leading to the hangars, he spotted an officer also running towards the hangar. Deatharoc was not known for his patience and wanted to find out what was going on. The Guardian vehemently grabbed the collar of the officer passing through the hangar. He glared at him for a moment then asked him belligerently,
"What the hell is going on? Who is attacking us?" The officer was shaking and mumbling to himself ramblingly. The Guardian used the force to enhance his strength. He contemplated slaughtering the useless officer but decided to let him keep his pitiful life. Deatharoc cast the officer away and continued sprinting towards the hangar.
It looked like Deatharoc's night was about to get more exciting. He had no idea at how exciting and dangerous this night would be. In fact, the night would be one that Deatharoc would never forget.
GRD Deatharoc (Sith)/TRP/Gladius of Tarentum [ACC: INI]
The wine in Odin’s glass spilled out, wetting his new uniform. A sudden shake had changed the overall content atmosphere of this ballroom. The melody of the charming music was replaced by the alerting echo, as the gathering crowd once shocked in silence for a few seconds before spinning into many directions. People were receiving orders through the barks of their leaders' there, some of them looking at their beeped communication tools inside their robes.
“We are being hit! We are being hit!” A journeyman ran across the Tarenti’s place and then suddenly turning his path, disappeared into the fully loaded exit door.
Odin blinked several times, reading the message he got. The happiness of witnessing the glory of his fellow Tarentis receiving their awards in the ceremony, a cheerful talk in a short break of the reception after that, was now turning into full uneasiness. Odin felt as if something had kicked his stomach again, revealing his suppressed edginess he had been overwhelmed by since several days ago. His nightmares of facing his end road.
“The Vae Victus is attacked? Back to the Corsair?” Odin mumbled
“Master, we should go,” Sikes hurried.
The hall trembled once more.
“Oh my, the important leaders are all in this ship. The grand master …we should protect the grand master as well, we are still in the GMRG, right?” Odin said to the ICTE Tribune who stood in front of him, as he saw the Battlemaster’s eyes scanning another option to exit the hall.
“He’s probably already left. Don’t you remember? They closed down the royal guards. And we received order to be back to the Corsair. That’s the most important one…That way!” Karel pointed at the other exit door, hidden behind a huge decorative statue as he then sprinted out against the crowd. Odin and Sikes followed in the same manner, maintaining their sight at the Tribune.
The door slid open as they bursting in, having their way to the hangar as fast as possible.
“I think this is the shortcut,” Karel shouted within his run.
Odin felt his hands getting soaked with sweat, a contrary to the cool air of the alley. The Warrior thought that was a bit too much oddness for him. He never experienced this kind of tenseness, even in his past deadly battles.
Soon, they arrived in the crowded hangar; various aircrafts flew out to reach their urgent destinations. Odin looked around, seeking his transport.
“They have departed apparently…, Karel…may I.. we join in your shuttle?” The Warrior saw a quick nod of the Tribune's and shoutet at his student, “ Sikes, here!”
Both Tarentis ran into the ICTE Tribune’s shuttle in time as it raised the ramp and closed the door, initiating the flight sequence.
“Find your seats, and prepare for the defense. We’re gonna reach the Corsair as quickly as we can,” Karel commanded as he then sat on his cockpit seat. Odin and Sikes sat before the navigation monitors, apparently also had the panels to launch weapon fires. The copilot had announced that the shuttle was ready to take off.
The shuttle flew across the battle space.
Balnazaar had just returned from the Vae Victus and from the ongoing festivities held on that ship. He thoroughly enjoyed the celebrations but decided that it would be best to return to the ship before he got too drunk. Though Balnazaar liked a good drink, he had a personal limit and trained himself to stop when he'd taken enough. The Protector arrived on board the Anubis and looked forward to a nice and long rest. The slightly drunken Protector walked towards his chambers uneasily and dropped on his bed, falling asleep instantly. Balnazaar would not rest for long however, for something unexpected would occur.
The Protector was woken up by a booming voice in the loudspeaker. The voice said,
"Attention all crew members! Board your starfighters immediately! We are being assaulted by an unknown enemy force! This is not a drill!"
Balnazaar, although still a bit confused, jumped of his bed with little hesitation and began heading towards the hangar. The Protector cursed as he ran to the hangar as he hated being woken up. However, Balnazaar knew that complaining would get him in a world of trouble and that it was best to keep silent.
When the Protector arrived at the hangar, he immediately rushed to a TIE Defender, his favorite type of starfighter. After putting on his helmet and gloves, he began to take off. A dull, almost robotic voice, said as Balnazaar lifted off,
"Protector Balnazaar, you may lift off."
When Balnazaar got out of the hangar, he saw a sight that inspired astonishment in him. A gigantic enemy fleet was assaulting the Brotherhood fleet. As the Protector continued his approach to the battle he said,
"Well this should be interesting." Then, Balnazaar prepared to engage the enemy.
The hideous screams continued unabated, they crashed into the mental barriers, scratching the surface and tearing at the corners of his concentration. The tiny metallic room was empty but for Kane’s slightly suspended form, floating free of the floor in a grotesquely rigid contortion of the human body. Excruciating pain marked the old man’s face, but despite the aesthetics not a single droplet of sweat emerged from his tortured body.
Situated deep within the Corsair, surrounded by the painful thrum of the engines, Kane had spent many months encased in this tiny tomb of metal. He had no use for extravagant chambers and comforting luxuries. A soft bed and clean linen could offer little comfort when the Dark Side was what sustained you. You breathed in the darkness, all external pleasantries – the acidic tinge in the air of a star destroyer, the cleansing flow of water – went unnoticed.
Every inch of the metal bulkheads was black, corroded and rusting from the sustained onslaught of unpredictable power unleashed when the energy became too much for the Grand Master to contain. The room was comforting. Kane did not care if the outbursts murdered his clanmates; in seeking privacy he could detach his mind from reality – ignore the commands of the Dark Side to murder, mutilate and engulf those he met – and focus on simply staying alive.
His mind floated in space around the ship, the mental barriers constructed to keep the Dark Side from the aging remnants of his self were easier to maintain when he focused on the vacuum. Nothing could combat the darkness, so he sought asylum in the relative nothingness of space.
Tiny specs glittered into his consciousness. Starfighters and their pilots were emerging from the Corsair and other ships were manoeuvring. Manipulations of the Force broke into his awareness; he felt the tiny fault-lines cracking his concentration. More life was entering his vacuum. His concentration failed and volcanic hatred flooded his being.
“I’ll get it!” called the young technician, urgently dashing away from his insignificant engineering station. He raced down the corridor of the Corsair, frantically looking for the case of drill bits required for his latest task. The urgency that had penetrated the ship had excited him: Finally he had a role to play that could contribute something to the effort against whatever enemy had just emerged.
The heavy metallic door buckled once. Twice. The hinges creaked. Silence. A storm shrieked, shattering the silence, sending the door sailing across the corridor with such speed and power that the young technician never saw it. The slab of metal impacted his right shoulder. Muscle quivered for an instant, then liquefied. Bone exploded into dust as the door continued its journey through the technician and disappeared into the opposite bulkhead. Kane stepped out of his little room, angry for the disturbance, furious, in need of answers, of why so much frantic effort was being drawn from the Dark Side and why it was aimed at ‘nothing’.
He stalked through the engineering desks, making his way towards the nerve centre of the Corsair.
Korras had been aboard the Vae Victus, inspecting the guard details that Tarentum had sent there. He had commanded this vessel before. As High Commander of the Obelisk, this had been his flagship. Old, almost venerable, it was an excellent vessel to use when attacking a planet, able to enter the atmosphere. But while powerful, he had no doubt of the vessel’s lack of chance in a sustained fleet battle.
It came as something of a surprise when the ship shuddered under the impact of something. Almost immediately, alarm claxons roared to life, and a voice joined in. “All hands, we are under attack. Man your battlestations.”
He had no battlestation assigned, and neither did the Tarenti he came with, and he knew that they would not make a difference in a prolonged fight. On top of that, his instructions were clear: Tarenti above all else.
“All Tarenti,” he started into his com-unit. “Report to me in Hangar-bay 1. We are returning to the Corsair.”
A Guardian was the first to join him as he sprinted down the corridors. Already, men were milling all over the place, heading to their assigned posts. Some would do damage control, others would man weapons, while still more would protect against boarding parties. All had a job to do – he could know, he was the one who had trained this crew into what it was now. Too bad they would not live much longer. The vessel roared under weapons fire once more, like a wounded beast.
“Bridge, Korras. What in the name of Alaeidon is going on?”
“We are under heavy attack. We could use your help up here.”
“as can my clan. I am no longer the commander, and I refuse to go down with her.”
“You will not be given clearance for depature.”
He terminated the link. “Let’s just hope my old command codes still work.”
Brimstone was aboard the ship M-CRV Creeping Death working on his ship, a personalized Nssis-class Clawcraft Yashuvhu's Brimstone, when there was a sudden explosion felt across the space over Antei. Wondering what had happened, he walked over to a view port, and saw what looked like another clan's ship exploding. Looking around, he noticed some seemingly familiar ships that didn't belong to the Brotherhood or the other clans. Blaring sirens arrive moments later as the loudspeakers blared a message of orders to battle stations.
Brimstone got on his comlink and and decided to message his Master, Cipher K'oranian Isradia.
“Master, what is going on?” asked Brimstone.
“We are getting attacked by an unknown fleet that just arrived” replied Master Cipher.
“What would you ask me to do, Master” replied Brimstone, “I am still not been able to achieve full Knighthood or get my lightsabre yet, so I am not able to defend against boarders.”
“Get in your ship and provide support to the fleet” Master Cipher replied, “Talk to the commander, Demos, and have him assign you to a squadron.”
Brimstone shut off his comlink and rushed to his Nssis-class Clawcraft and climbed aboard. It has been a bit since he has seen battle in his ship, but after 30+ years serving as not only a pilot for the Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet, but also as a commander of the Fourth Fleet. Checking his systems, he engaged active status on all weapons and did a check on his armament. Four laser cannons where maxed and a compliment of twenty homing torpedoes where at his beck and call. Brimstone asked for authorization to depart and engage and was granted immediately.
The ship lifted without any hesitation and he pushed forward the throttle as it sped off out the hanger bay, mere seconds after the lowering of the protective shields. He was immediately fired upon by what looked like animals from the oceans of Naboo, organic and highly maneuverable. Brimstone ran a diagnosis on the ship and when the final analysis arrived on his screen, a pull of hatred swelled up inside of Brimstone, Tsik vai. This was a ship of the Yuuzhan Vong, any enemy well known to him from prior battles he was involved with.
"Open channels to all Brotherhood starfighters" yelled Brimstone, "it is the Yuuzhan Vong. Target their eyes as they are the cockpits of the ships."
"Who is this?" yells back what sounds like a squad leader. "You have no authorization to give orders to anyone."
"Brimstone of the Clan Tarentum."
"Feel free to join in, but let us coordinate the attacks, you just follow orders" said the squad leader.
"Sir, I have dealt with these before and I know how to fight them. If they get close enough to you, your technology is useless against their Netting Beetles. It will ensnare you and you will lose all power to your ships."
Brimstone fired upon a nearby Tsik vai. the targeting was perfect as it hit the "eye" of the enemy ship and within seconds, the ship imploded in the vacuum of deep space. A “whoot!” from a fellow squad member was overheard over the comm system from the implosion and destruction.
The squad leader, also seeing this, voiced his turning over the attack to Brimstone on these ships. Brimstone knew how to deal with these ships, but also knew to stay away from the massive cruisers that was spewing them out like seeds. In fact the mother ships where living ships and these were their seedlings to it.
Co-ordinating attack efforts, Clan Tarentum's squadrons were having complete success against the advancing enemy. Minimal casualties where coming, but that was expected. Most of them coming to the Clan Scholae Palatine that the squadron's were using as shields between them and the advancing enemy. The larger enemy ships kept spewing ships after ships. They were also attacking the main fleet of all the clans.
Brimstone flew his ship nearby one of the large battle cruisers, and through a feeling in the Force, felt the disturbance of the ship getting ready to ensnare him. Banking to the left and rolling out of the way of the turbo-lasers, he was able to release 3 homing missiles into an opened cargo bay of the battle cruiser. As he pulled away, he can tell on his sensors that they did impact inside, but cause minimal damage.
Three Tsik vai were hot on his tail. Apparently they have broken into the transmissions he was relaying and declared him as the leader ship. They open fire on him, but due to his years of training and previous experience with the Yuuzhan Vong, they mostly missed him completely. Brimstone did a tactical short-hop hyper jump to put distance between him and them. The jump caught them off guard as he was able to move safely out of their trajectories. When he came back 1 second later, he was able to spin his ship around and fired 3 torpedoes simultaneously. Within seconds, the enemy ships hand no chance of moving out of the way as each missile hit their targets, causing all three to implode in the vacuum of space.
As the battle continue and the overwhelming odds were stacking against him and his squadron, a familiar voice came over the comm.
"All fleet" barked Master Muse, "we are taking casualties on the ships and some have been boarded. We are to retreat to the Shroud Nebula. Unless you have Force experience to guide you through the nebula, I suggest you return to your command ships and prepare for the retreat."
Brimstone fired his thrusters and banked hard against an oncoming swarm of Tsik vai, release his remaining missiles into the swarm to give him time to make the run for the capital ship. Pursuing ships banked hard to avoid contact with the oncoming missile attack, giving Brimstone and 3 of his squad time to head towards their command ship. The Vong numbers grew as the battle continued. More Tsik vai where closing in. Brimstone and his squad flew in between a squad of CSP ships, causing most of them to receive the full blunt of damage that destroyed them immediately.
Brimstone was nearly back at the M-CRV Creeping Death when he received a message over the comm.
“Guardian Brimstone, this is Dark Jedi Master Spears Tarentae, if you are receiving this message, come to the VSD Corsair. Your presence is requested by myself. Make haste, we need to talk.”
Brimstone altered his course towards the main capital ship. Using CSP ships as shielding against the Vong, he was able to safely make it to the command ship. Brimstone got out of his ship and noticed bodies of both Yuuzhan Vong and fellow comrades on the ship. Apparently they where part of a boarding party. Stepping over bodies, he pulled out his charric blaster and blasted the remaining living Yuuzhan Vong in the head, killing them instantly.
The ship headed to the Shroud Nebula and was followed by numerous other ships of the clan shortly afterwards. Some heavily damaged and some reporting only minor casualties. Brimstone cursed under his breathe as he decided to go look for Master Spears to find out what he needed. Going to the upper levels in a turbolift, it stopped at one of the earlier floors and the doors opened. Stepping inside was Master Sabers.
“Guardian Seabr'imsto'nedansr,” Dark Jedi Master Spears Tarentae tried to say in Cheunh, showing the Chiss respect with his full name, “I am Master Spears. Thank you for coming quickly.”
Brimstone bowed slightly since not much room in the turbolift. “Yes Master, you requested my presence.”
“I noticed that you were doing very well in your fight with the enemy and I felt in the Force that you know some pertinent information that could be useful to us.”
“I have faced them before. They are called Yuuzhan Vong. They have weaknesses we can exploit” explained Brimstone.
“I don't believe we have the time or resources right now to enact countermeasures” replied Master Spears, “We must regroup.”
“I am sure re-grouping is prudent” the Guardian says, “Give me command, and I will lead the Clan to victory.”
“We have our own military leaders” Master Spears replied back sternly. “If you choose to help your Clan mates, your efforts will be rewarded. But we will not turn over command to you.”
“Yes Master, as you wish” Brimstone replied with broken pride. “I am quite positive I could do the job best, but as you command.”
Brimstone's pride was hurt, but he did understand that he is but a small part of the overall Clan. Master Spears and Brimstone headed towards the command center to bring their reports and information that could be critical to the Clan's success in defeating the Vong.....
Stars swirled around the A-wing, the streaks being frequently broken by roaring rockets of plasma passing perilously close to the nimble starfighter. Jason was throwing his craft through the most evasive maneuvers he could, juking and jinking up and down, port to starboard, and never remaining on one heading for more than a moment.
The reason for the evasive action was due to the nearly full squadron of coralskippers that were hanging doggedly behind him. He had managed to vape a few of them, but all it did was serve to anger them more.
Or, at least make them SEEM more pissed, the Corellian reflected.
Jason's arms and legs were getting tired. He had been bounding about space for a good half hour now, and his body was screaming at him to stop. He kept himself going by drawing upon the Force to keep his energy stores filled, but even that was becoming taxing. And if that wasn't enough, he was running low on fuel. The constant changes in speed that he had been making was taking its' toll on his A-wing's reserves. He knew, though, that he had a good other thirty minutes or so before he lost power altoghter, but he wanted to end this fight well before then.
Unfortunatly, there wasn't much he could do. Those damned little blackhole-type singularities they kept using just swallowed up every blaster round and concussion missle he fired at them. And he most certainly couldn't risk flipping a one-eighty and making a head-on pass; that maneuver was suicidal against another starfighter, but the plasma these coralskippers used would melt through his weak shields, then his hull, and then he'd be sucking vacuum...if he wasn't incinerated in an explosion first.
So, the best he could hope for was to run.
And he hated running from a fight.
"Kriffing great," Jason muttered to himself. "I just hope my Event Horizons are faster than these nerf herders." In an extremely gutsy move, he shunted all power from his shields and weapons systems, and fed that power straight to his engines. The sudden acceleration overtook his inertial compensator's capabilities, and he was pushed back into his seat. He glanced down and watched his speed rise, until he was traveling almost as fast as his old TIE could. And that was damned fast.
A look at his tactical display showed that he was gaining ground on his pursuers. Very shortly, though, they seemed to lose interest in him, as they adjusted course and angled back towards the main fight.
Suckers. Chopping his speed back, Jason pulled back hard on the stick and get back heading the opposite direction. Pushing the throttles past the safety stops, he heard his engines roar in protest as he rocketed in on the coralskippers unprotected rear. He switched over to his last three missiles and, with his targetting computer disabled--he didn't want them to get any warning--unleashed the barely contained fury of his small projectiles. Just as the ballistics were about to their targets, and Jason thought they would be swallowed up again, another group of starfighters went streaking past the coralskippers. Their lasers were gulped into nothingness, but Jason's missle struck dead-on. The rocky craft erupted into small balls of flame, which quickly died out.
Just then, Jason's comm board came alive, with orders to retreat into the Shroud. "No problem there," he said to no one as he angled in towards the Tarentum battlegroup. The Corsair sat there in space, relentlessly pouring green gouts of conherent light into space, beckoning for his return. His heart raced as he neared the ship, and nearly exploded through his mouth as his A-wing was suddenly and violently shook.
Space began to spin once again, but this time he didn't want it to. Smoke started to fill the cockpit, and alarms were blaring in his ears. Looking around at his displays, Jason learned sullenly that he had sustained a major and crippling blow. His avionics were out, as were weapons, engines, and just about everything else. The only thing that seemed to be working were the damned alarms, and life support...but that, too, was damaged.
"This is Archpriest Jason Hunter, hailing Corsair, Jason spoke into the little microphone hanging before his mouth. "I was en route to rendezvous, but I have sustained heavy damage. I have no control, and am spinning out into open space. I will attempt to regroup, but chances seem unlikely. Requesting immediate help. I repeat, this is Archpriest Jason Hunter, sending a distress call." When he finished, he pressed the button for his distress beacon, and he hoped that someone aboard a friendly ship would find him. All he could do now was wait, try not to be nauseated by the swirling stars, and try to make contact.
Oh, and not get killed, but that seemed to be harder to do every second...
"I've got you Jason, stay calm." Came Telona's soothing voice over the comm channel.
The Adept pulled her aging ship alongside what was left of her fellow housemate's and cringed. The damage was rather extensive and looked as though there was no hope but to push the thing into a hanger. Corsair was the nearest ship and for the moment it seemed the enemy ships that buzzed all around were preoccupied. Her Red Talon was no real threat anyway. The Cloakshape Fighter had been old when she inherited it but she loved how it handled and so had never retired it.
"Looks bad but no worries, I think I can get you home." Her voice came over the channel again.
"You think? Where have you been this whole time! The fleet is in retreat and you're just now showing up. Fine timing!"
"I could just leave you here to die from a stray shot. But if you must know, I didn't feel this enemy so I figured this was just a military stunt and finished up my last reports for the Dark Voice. The staff jumped ship a little earlier than expected and left me to finish all the work. Thank Krath I'll be retiring."
A bolt of red fire crackled through the space between their two ships, lighting up the cockpits with its deadly blaze.
"Uh, why don't we just go? Now." Jason suggested.
"Why leave, this view is spectacular." The woman suggested as she took hold of the other ship with her mind. "Look at how all the turbolaser fire just bends around those ships. I still cannot feel them either, just empty space."
Telona moved her own ship around and settled the nose against a flat part of what was left of Jason's with a loud thunk. Plotting a reduced speed course, she held the other ship steady with the power of the Dark Side. All around them the flash of explosions lit up the darkness of space. It was difficult to concentrate as the settings was not something the woman felt comfortable in. She was no fighter pilot.
"Almost there. Jason, help me set your ship down."
The two coordinated their efforts as the two ships neared one of the Corsair's hanger bays. They passed through the shimmering barrier and almost immediately the crippled ship fell to the flight deck. Fire suppression droids immediately set to work as Telona set her own ship down. Other ships settled down as the Tarentum fleet continued its retreat. There were enough battered fighters to keep the mechanics busy for a week or three. A sad sight to see as the Adept's feet hit the metal decking.
"What kind of a landing was that?" Jason screamed across the way.
"Hey you are the pilot, not me. Don't get so beaten up next time." The woman retorted as she headed for the hallways.
Master Spears strode toward, the bridge with the Guardian he summoned behind him. Brimstone, incessantly spoke of the Vong their strengths their weakness, maneuvers and tactics.
As the two approached the doors to the bridge, the Master stopped several steps before the door, stopping the Guardian with him. Spears looked at the Guardian “You may accompany me to the bridge however; you are not to say a word from this point forward unless specifically asked to do so. Understood?” Brimstone nodded his understanding his frustration at being told to remain silent was evident upon his face.
The doors to the bridge slide, open as the two walked in. Spears walked directly towards the Elders already on the bridge, Bloodfyre, Oberst, and Doni who had already begun discussing the tactical retreat.. “I believe this Guardian has some information which may be of use offered.” Spears offered.
For the next several minutes Brimstone informed those gathered of his previous encounters with the Vong as well as the tactics used in those engagements.
“Thank you that information may prove to be of some worth.” Consul Bloodfyre said looking at the Guardian.”
Without skipping a beat Oberst continued his briefing of what the Clan’s forces should do next.
Brimstone stood, watching and listening to the briefing, yet every time he tried to speak he found himself unable to form the words. The harder he tried the more it seemed his throat closed in preventing him from uttering any sound at all. On his third attempt to speak up he caught, Spears eyeing him. It suddenly clicked with the Guardian that the Master was preventing him from speaking. Reaching out with the force, Brimstone tried to break the lock Spears seemed to have on his throat but it was of no use. He simply was not strong enough in the force to break the control of a Master.
At a lull in the conversation Spears looked over towards the Guardian. “Brimstone, we have some work to do here, in the mean time head to the hangar and gather your gear, see to it any damage to your ship is repaired, I will summon you again when I am done here.”
Brimstone nodded his understanding and if somewhat reluctant acceptance. The Chiss was proud, but he was also beginning to understand that he now found himself in a new world, with a very new set of rules. He was no longer in charge in this world, at least not yet.
The Arconan emissaries bowed and parted his company, for which Troutrooper was extremely grateful. Playing delegate and ambassador for Tarentum to the fleet meant a lot of smiling and bowing and ingratiating oneself with the delegates and ambassadors from other clans. He enjoyed the conversations with most parties; he alone out of the Tarentae would strike up a discussion with those from Clan Scholae Palatinae. Oddly enough, though, the clan Tarentum currently maintained a public alliance with was the clan Troutrooper thought lowest of. Arconan scumbags, the Nuncio thought as he watched the pair saunter off to congratulate some of their clanmates. Had I known Beefcake was going to ally us with their worthless— “Kraval,” he bowed, interrupting his acerbic thinking. “What can I do for the illustrious Master-at-Arms?”
“Nothing,” the human mused. “Just keeping a loose eye on the proceedings.”
The Mon Cal smiled devilishly. “You mean, the exciting and covert wheelings and dealings?” He frowned as Kraval shook his head. “Oh, come now. How can you be a Dark Councilor and yet be so blasé when it comes to the juicy aspect of the job? Who's plotting with whom? What clan is scheming against their mortal enemy?”
Kraval shrugged. “I'm a Dark Councilor. I'm above such petty comings and goings.”
“Lamer,” Troutrooper gurgled a laugh and clinked glasses with the Sith, who chuckled and bowed away from the fish. The Tarentae surveyed the room. Aside from a few anti-socialites and those who had drawn guard duty, the crowd remained. He saw a few Tarenti wandering about—Odin, Karel to name a couple—and decided to touch base when the entire ship shook.
The ship erupted into activity. Klaxons blared, crew members scrambled to their posts, and the guests were left stranded. Most headed for the exits, but Troutrooper waded through the stampeding herd to the window. Another stood at the window. “Keeping a loose eye on these new proceedings?”
“Quite and quiet, fishy,” the Master-at-Arms hissed, staring intently at the enemy fleet. The fishy stared out, too. Neither said a word, the din of battle providing the answers to all the questions they would ask the other. Several minutes passed as the situation grew dimmer for the Dark Brotherhood. A stomach-churning tremor rattled the two out of their comatose staring. Pale and visibly shaken, the Master-at-Arms nodded a silent excuse from the Nuncio's company and headed to the Vae Victus's bridge.
Troutrooper gathered himself and headed to the hangar bay. Step one: collect any Tarenti. Step two: get back to the Corsair. Step three...figure out what step three is.
The Creeping Death’s command centre was unnaturally quiet. The dismay at the destruction around the system was not something the crew witnessed normally. Even while the announcement of "Man your battlestations". The Outsiders were bearing upon the mighty ships as if they were mere plastic playthings. They looked on, stunned by the way the Outsider fleet deployed the fighters, the way they deflected the anti-starfighter weaponry, and the way they looked.
The fighter compliment of the Marauder Corvette had been deployed by a direct order from the Corsair’s bridge. The TIE Defenders were apparently doing their job well, seeing that they were the best fighters in use.
The captain of the Corvette was transfixed by the sight outside. He had never seen these types of ships before. Their organic build itself was sinister. The manner with which their capital ships deployed their fighters was magically mortifying.
“Bring me the Corsair on the comm. console” Kazarelth spoke in a voice which was as frightened as it was amazed.
The Communications’ Officer waited three full seconds before he did what he was asked. The dread in him coupled with the horror in the teal eyes of the Dark Jedi took some time to get over.
Hardly had the Holonet to the Corsair opened when the Eye of the Abyss exploded. A shudder ran down the Omwati’s spine. Even if their was an involuntary voice which said 'Very good. One less Arconan ship to be irritated by.', it was a Clan Flagship which had been destroyed very easily.
Simultaneously, the communications link was lost as the deployed enemy fighters bore down upon the Marauder Corvette.
They were fearsome as they let out a stream of charged bolts. A few it seemed had hit one of the communications’ subsystems.
“Effect immediate retreat of the TIE Defenders to us.” Kazarelth said grimly, “and get that comlink back on line.”
The Corvette shook as unknown energy blasts rent its hull. The bridge-crew rushed about to get their jobs done. The clockwork precision with which the officers managed their work slightly relaxed the Hunter. Welshman had trained them well. It almost seemed to Kazarelth, like an elite crew being handed to him in a silver hull to him when he took over as the captain.
"Sir, message from the Grand Master!" the Communications Officer shouted.
Kazarelth rushed over to the holonet ports. He could barely make out what was being said by the Grand Master. "...ships...int...he...Shroud...four-oh...tw...mark...seve...ecute..."
"It's garbled, sir. I presume--"
"Where is the communications' link with the Corsair, officer?" The Omwati asked darkly to the human.
He watched the damage-guages intently. There was practically no plan formulating in his mind.
After a few seconds it became clear that this skirmish was not in the Corvette's favour.
"Plot a retreat course to anywhere near the Corsair!" He ordered as the Communcation's Officer signalled to him that the VSD Corsair was com-linked to the Creeping Death.
Korvyn ran headlong down the hall toward the briefing room. Boots echoed up and down the corridors as the men and women aboard the Corsair rushed to their battle stations. Korvyn wheeled around the corner and ducked into an empty room.
It seems the briefing has been scrapped due to the suddenness of the attack. Or it was being held elsewhere. Korvyn turned and headed instead to the Hanger bay. Then in a completely brilliant moment Korvyn decided to radio in to find out what his orders are.
“This Is Korvyn What are my orders for defense of the ship.” Korvyn asked over the com link.
"Protector Korvyn Go to Turbo laser battery r47 and man the Controls. Your Rifle will do us no good on board this ship." Came the reply.
Korvyn made the quick run to r47 the ship starting to shudder under the assault of the Vong forces. Sliding into the controls Korvyn fired at the nearest star fighter and missed badly. They were just to maneuverable for the slower rate of fire. Instead Korvyn switched to the larger ships that looked somewhat like Troop Transports. These were less maneuverable and though armored well couldn't withstand larger turbo lasers for very long. The sheer number of them however made up for how few Korvyn was managing to take down.
Suddenly it dawned on Korvyn.
They were going to lose this battle.
By the time Deatharoc arrived at the hangar, he was practically sweating an entire ocean and heavily panting. The Guardian scanned the ships left for use in the hangar and in less than a heartbeat, chose a B-Wing bomber for his use in the ensuing battle. Deatharoc suited up and leaped into his ship. He hadn't been in a B-Wing bomber for quite sometime and took a moment to familiarize himself with the controls of the ship. By the time he lifted off, Deatharoc was already confident that he could effectively pilot the bomber and put it to good use in the battle.
Almost immediately, Deatharoc was forced to dodge from enemy fire. It was strange that instead of bolts of energy, molten slags were being blasted from the enemy ships. Deatharoc began bombing the enemy ships, but was soon chased by defending enemy starfighters. As Deatharoc evaded fire, he continued his bombardment. Suddenly, his pursuers were shot down by several Tarenti TIE Defenders, whom Deatharoc joined after and assisted them with their assault.
With the battle clearly not going in the favor of the Brotherhood, Deatharoc still continued his bombing runs, with the squad of TIE Defenders he joined, despite how insignificant to the battle's outcome the runs would've been. Suddenly, a blinding light emitted from the Brotherhood fleet. Deatharoc turned around and saw Taldryand's flaghsip, the Victory-Class Star Destroyer called the Dark Prophet, being obliterated and reduced to space dust. The Guardian could not help but grin and mutter to himself,
"Well at least some good came out of this battle." Perhaps Deatharoc had inherited some of Oberst's, his master's sadistic nature or he was simply dwelling deeper into the Dark Side of the Force. Either way, Deatharoc felt supremely pleased with the destruction of the Dark Prophet.
However, this moment of satisfaction and pleasure would be short lived, for a fierce battle was still going on and Deatharoc needed to keep concentrated if he wished to survive. After a few more bombing runs, Deatharoc received an order to return to the Corsair for a full tactical retreat. Though reluctant to do so, Deatharoc decided to comply with the order.
Deatharoc finished his final bombing run and headed back to the Corsair. The B-Wing he was piloting was practically crippled and he wasn't sure if he would make it back alive. Dozens of enemy fighters were swarming on him and he was under heavy fire. With the hangar straight before him, he put the ship into full throttle and flew straight to the hangar. My ship was already falling apart as he zoomed into the hangar and when he made my crash landing, Deatharoc was surprised and relieved that he was alive. The Guardian spent a moment regaining his composure before jumping of the wrecked B-Wing and removing his piloting gear. Deatharoc then heard that many other ships belonging to the other Clans were destroyed. Once more, the Guardian's sadism took over him and he grinned, though he tried to hide his pleasure when he heard of the other Clans' losses. He said,
"At least this battle wasn't all bad." Before walking away from the hangar.
Yet another explosion and yet another dozen Vae Victus crew members merged with the Force. By the time Troutrooper reached the nearest, a young female Twi'lek, her wounds had bled the life out of her. He sighed—Pretty young thing. Such tragedies are the repercussions of war—and kept moving.
Reaching the hangar bay, the Pontifex had a choice. As Nuncio, he had no specific duties on the battlefield, but he was an accomplished (albeit rusty) pilot. A TIE Advanced hung expectantly in front of him, waiting to prove itself an equal with the more modern TIE Defenders and Missile Boats. Before the fish could make a decision, a lieutenant commander climbed aboard and sped out of the hangar. The officer lasted barely half a minute before being overwhelmed by the aliens, a grim reminder of how even pilots with superior skills are cannon fodder when flying against far superior ships. Somewhat reluctantly, Troutrooper boarded one of the assault shuttles along with several rather scared journeymen. Tarentum had the best pilots in the Brotherhood; if any clan's shuttles had a chance of survival, it was Tarentum's. They would make the trek from nearly-destroyed Victory-class Star Destroyer to moderately-damaged Victory-class Star Destroyer quickly and jumpily. A couple of the lower-ranked journeymen looked positively witless, scared more than any amount of shaky stammering could convey. The fish stood up and tried to assuage their fears. “Tarenti, this is a battle, but fear not, for we will be carried safely back to the Corsair in this magnificent specimen of an assault—“
A missile analog flipped the boat 90 degrees and knocked out its shields. Protectors and Novices lay heaped atop the regretful Pontifex. A couple had very minor injuries, the worst being a bad case of spoke-too-soon syndrome. The captain yelled over the loudspeaker to expect more “turbulence.” Well, thought Troutrooper, just another day at the office.
Son of a... Jason Hunter thought to himself as he surveyed the damage to his A-wing. As Telona had said, it was extensive. Chunks of the hull were missing. The only thing that kept atmosphere from leaking through the damaged craft, was the fact that metal had been slagged and melted together, making a temporary and precarious airtight seal. He was trully fortunate that it hadn't ruptured, or else his meaty remains would be splattered all over the interior of the cockpit, the victim of sudden explosive decompression.
The Corsair's deck pitched as it took another hit. The retreat wasn't going particularly well. The enemy forces were quicker than that of the Brotherhood's, and they were following them into their fallback.
Fat lot of good I can do now, Jason thought. My A-wing's out of commision, and all the other fighters that aren't damaged or destroyed are already out there.
"Look out!" a deck technician yelled. Jason looked to his left, towards the gaping mouth of the Star Destroyer's hangar. Beyond the shimmering barrier that was the magnetic containment field, he spotted the rocky form of an enemy fighter analog, trailing dust and debris, and on a perilous course straight towards him.
The magcon field yielded to the fighter, which came to a crash as soon as the Corsair's gravity pulled it to the deck. Jason called upon the Force to quicken his movements as he dove out of the craft's skiding path, rolling back to his feet behind the cover his ruined A-wing offered. After the enemy craft slid to a halting stop, a fleshy-looking membrane that obviously served as a canopy, dilated and a humanoid jumped out and to the deck.
It was unlike anything Jason had seen before. Resembling a human in nearly every quality, however much larger, denser, and it had sick-looking blue sacks underneath the eyes, no lips or nose, and its' skin was grey, like the walking dead.
However, this warrior was most certainly not dead. A snake uncoiled from around his arm and immediatly stiffened into what appeared to be a living sword. It struck down a nearby tech with ease in a spray of blood, the woman screaming in agnoy as her life bled from her.
In the time it took Jason to retrieve his lightsaber from the cockpit, two more bystanders were dead on the deck, and the alien attacker was eyeing him murderously. Jason could feel his anger welling up inside him as he studied his opponent. He--as Jason was going to refer--was not only large and pale, but...mutilated. Missing nose, left ear gone, tattoos all over the place, scars that put Jason's own collection to shame, including a particularly nasty looking one, that appeared as though he had taken heavy blaster bolt to the right arm that tore an entire chunk away. And the armor this alien wore was wierd as well. It looked as though it was alive, and covered the warrior completely from the neck to his toes. The only weak points appeared to be the head and both arms.
"What the kriff are you?" Jason said, his voice low and dengerous as he waded cautiously forward, his lightsaber held inactive but ready at his side. The warrior simply snarled at him, revealing teeth that had been filed down to a sharp point, and emitted a disgusted sounding growl. In a flash, that snake-like blade was darting towards Jason's throat.
Shock flashed through the Corellian's mind for an instant, momentarily dazed by the combatant's speed. Shock soon turned to arrogance as Jason started to sidestep the dash and ignite his lightsaber. The newly-built blade, emerald in hue, erupted to life and cast a sickly light to the surroundings. He expected this to be a fast fight, since very few things could hold up to a lightsaber's edge.
That shock returned, however, when the strike that was meant to cleave the weapon in two abruptly stopped. Jason's eyes widened at that startling fact, and almost popped straight out of his head when a fist as solid as permacrete planted itself in his gut. His breath left him in a painful gasp, and he involuntarily doubled over around his attacker's arm.
The next thing he knew, he was lying on his back with the alien about to strike. The snake-sword was over his head and ready to cut Jason in half. When it started to come down, the Krath moved his lightsaber in line to block. The two weapons met in a shower of sparks, blinding him for an instant.
But the pressure on the other side kept mounting as the enemy warrior began pressing down, obviously hoping to cut Jason down with his own blade. Beyond the glow of his lightsaber, he saw a feral grin on the alien's lips as he pushed back, his lungs and arms burning in protest.
I can't go out like this...at least not so early in the game. Barely an inch remained between his lightsaber and his face, and he was losing. In a last ditch effort, Jason struck out with a leg while rolling to his side. His foot caught his foe behind the knee. The large figure toppled, leaning forward for a moment before tipping back, but that was enough force to cause Jason to sustain the worst injury of his life.
Pain blossomed in his mind. It originated in his left arm, and shot along the fiery tendrils of his nerves. It blinding him for a moment, and he felt sick to his stomach when he saw his arm...laying a few inches from the stump that was still attached to his torso. It had been removed just above the elbow.
Pain was replaced with unbriddled fury, as Jason heard his foe laughing from behind him. He straightened himself enough to swing out with his right arm, clutching his now blood-covered lightsaber. The blade made contact with the warrior's knee, but the strange organic armor impeded its' progress. That old shock would have set in again, if the pain in his arm didn't remind him of what this...creature had done to him, fueling his rage.
As the alien was readying a death blow, Jason acted too fast for him to counter. Redirecting the angle of his blade, he slid the green beam of light up the warrior's leg and up through the soft tissue of his right arm. No cry of agony escaped the warrior, but a startled gasp did as Jason passed his lightsaber blade through the top portion of his head.
The amputated section--eyebrows and up--slid to the deck, and the warrior fell with a dull thud.
The shuttle limped to the Corsair, landed with a sickening thud, and died. Its engines blown, hull held together by hastily-applied uses of Affect Matter (courtesy of Troutrooper). The passengers oozed out, most concussed and/or heavily bruised, some struggling to stay among Tarentum's living armies and not join their undead army. No fatalities, which Troutrooper attributed more to the vagaries of the Force than anything else. In other words, luck.
He saw Jason Hunter slice through one of the enemy. “Excellent work, Mr. Hunter,” the fish called as he walked to his Clanmate. “One less of these insidious demons to deal with.”
The Archpriest shook his head. “Yeah, but he killed far more than I did today.” He glanced at the ruined husk of a shuttle that carried the Pontifex here. “You came in that thing? You're braver than I thought,” he quipped with a smile.
“No, I'm not. Had that been the state of the shuttle when I was boarding, I would have waited for another flying coffin.” They chuckled then began herding people towards the core of the ship while keeping watchful eyes on the space beyond. Both knew if one ship could penetrate, more could. And even though the Corsair had retreated into the protective Shroud, caution was the order of this new day.
Once the people had been escorted from the hangar bay and the clean-up crews were busy attending to the wreckage of several ships, Troutrooper and Jason Hunter gazed upon the wounded Brotherhood fleet. The Archeron sailed well enough, some discernible damage, but nothing fatal. The Havoc and Stygian would need repairs—what Brotherhood ship would not?—and the Necrosis was not in view. Tarentum was surviving.
The other clans...not so much. “I say we go for it.”
Troutrooper shook his head. “No. Not now. This threat is too great. Once these invaders are expelled, then we turn our cannons on our blood rivals. But not now. Now, we lick our wounds and prepare for round two.”
Chaos was the only thing that came to mind when one looked upon the Corsair’s medical bay. The flood of wounded continued to flow in as the droids and staff struggled to keep up. Seeing an opportunity to help her Clan in a subtle way, Telona implanted herself into the staff and got to work. She took charge of some of the more serious cases and while those who were near death would make good additions to the undead army, she preferred that they stay alive for now.
As the ship silently slipped into the Shroud the familiar vibrations, though faint, seemed to sooth some of the wounded. The Adept took small comfort in the nebula the Brotherhood used as a security blanket. As many as there were, those aliens would eventually find a way through. Perhaps even the anomaly that bent turbolaser fire around their ships would also bend the energies of the Shroud harmlessly away. She left the figuring and battle planning to other Clan members. For now she turned her attention to a Yridian with a durasteel bar through his head.
He was a lost cause like so many others yet she tended him in a most gentle way. A touch melted the bar away so he could more comfortably lay his head. Medicines calmed the pain and as the Adept examined the extent of the damage through the Force she halted the flow of blood so he wouldn’t feel it pooling around his shoulders. The damage to his brain tissue was far too extensive for medicine and the Force to heal.
The only thing she could do was put him to sleep while his body caught up with the death of his brain. The last thing he would remember seeing though was her smiling down upon him in a soft, gentle, womanly way. It was the least she could do for him before he slipped into sleep. Perhaps she would see his body upon the battlefield one day but for now she allowed him his deathly peace. She moved on to the next wounded Yridian, blissfully ignorant of whatever planning was going on in the decks above.
Korvyn climbed from the turbo laser turret exhausted. Sweat poured off him soaking his inner robes. The Corsair had retreated into the shroud giving Tarentum and the Brotherhood time to regroup. Korvyn had wanted to cash in on the Nap he missed earlier but instead headed toward the medical bay. His training in medicine was minimal but he knew there would be ways that even he could help. In fact his playing gopher for supplies will most likely be a bigger help than his manning a turbo laser. He had only destroyed a handful of transports and did very little damage to the bigger ships he targeted.
Rounding the corner toward the Bridge Korvyn ran into Brimstone. That wasn’t his actual name but being a Chiss his real name was much to hard for Korvyn to even attempt to pronounce. The look on Brimstone’s face assured Korvyn that something other than the battle was bothering him. The Chiss were known for keeping their emotions in check. It had been no secret that Grand Admiral Thrawn had been a Chiss. He to be rarely known even to crack a smile. So the mood Korvyn sensed in Brimstone flowed not only through his face but also through the Force.
Grasping Brimstone on the Shoulder Korvyn said, “Why don’t you tell me what is bothering you as we head toward the medical bay to lend a hand. They are desperate for anyone that can breathe. Not mention you might find some of the nurses appealing.”
Deatharoc was sent to the medical bay by his master to have the nurses and doctors tend to his wounds. Deatharoc would've preferred to have been involved in the planning going on in the upper decks, but he knew better than to argue with his master. When he arrived at the medical bay, Deatharoc was stunned at how many injured people there were. The patients outnumbered the doctors and nurses by at least 10 times. He scanned his surroundings and saw many people in agony. Deatharoc couldn't help but pity the injured. The Guardian then observed Dark Adept Telona who, despite the bedlam going on in the medical bay, was trying her best to assist the injured and dying. Deatharoc couldn't understand why Telona continued tending to those who would inevitably be dead in a few moments.
Suddenly, a trembling man approached Deatharoc and began to speak. His voice was barely loud enough for the Guardian to hear.
"Guardian Deatharoc, I am Dr. Ernst Frola. I've been ordered to tend to your wounds, so if you would ... please show me your cuts." Deatharoc complied with the frightened Doctors request and also shot Dr. Frola a look that said,
"You better not screw my wound up." The Doctor began his work on Deatharoc's right arm then moved on to his left arm. The Guardian could feel the trembling of Frola as he stitched up his cuts. Once the Doctor was done, the Guardian said 'Thank You' in a most hostile voice. The doctor left and Deatharoc got up and prepared to leave the medical bay. However, just then, he saw Protector Korvyn and Guardian Brimstone enter the bay.
He approached them and said,
"Greetings Protector Korvyn and Guardian Brimstone." Deatharoc shook hands with both men.
"Guardian Deatharoc. We meet at last. I have heard quite a bit about you." the Protector said. Deatharoc smiled at the comment and said,
"Likewise Protector." Brimstone was silent. Deatharoc was curious as to why and decided to accompany the two men.
"So tell me, what brings you two to the medical bay? I hope it is not injuries."
"Greeting Deatharoc, I had heard the Med bays were terribly understaffed and drug Brimstone along to help as well." Korvyn replied to Deatharoc's greeting. "Care to join us?"
"Normally I would but I was ordered to go rest up my wounds." Deatharoc declared with a bit of irritation.
" Then I guess we will meet at the briefing when the Commanders get a plan of attack together." Korvyn said bowing in a sign of respect.
Korvyn and Brimstone set to work in the medical bay. Mostly Korvyn gathered supplies and it wasn't long before he had lost sight of brimstone in the chaos. Occasionally he would notice his blue skinned compatriot hurrying by. The scene in the medical bay was worse that he had thought possible. Though the doctors did their best, Korvyn still helped carry what seemed like a Hundred clan mates who had succumbed to their injuries out the morgue. Others were missing limbs and bleeding various colors of blood upon the once sterile metal floors. At times it seemed like he was more in the way than a help but the medical personnel were happy to have someone to run for various tools and equipment.
Finally as Korvyn was about to pass out from exhaustion one of the doctors approached Korvyn and said. Your help like Brimstones has been much appreciated but you area warrior and must rest for the coming battles. I hope it is never you lying in these beds.” The obviously tired and frazzled doctor said.
“Thank you,” was all Korvyn could muster before a low bow. Meeting up with Brimstone they talked finally about the troubles bothering him. Korvyn offered no advice but instead just listened. After the walk they both split up to their separate Bunks. Korvyn fell on his bunk and immediately succumbed to his exhaustion.
Deatharoc's cut was still most uncomfortable and prevented him from sleeping.
"The stupid doctor must've messed up my damn cut."
Deatharoc clenched his fist and barred his teeth. He stood up and prepared to go back to the medical bay to deal with the doctor. He was breathing heavily and calmed down just when he realized that he had just experienced a burst of Force Rage. This was not unexpected, for the Vong's attack greatly angered Deatharoc. The Guardian took a step away from the door and with a loud roar hit the wall with his arm. The impotent rage Deatharoc was expressing did nothing but make his cut hurt more. Force Rage could be as deadly to its user as it was to the foe. Deatharoc sat down, ignoring the swelling pain emitting from his arm, and reflected on this rage. He realized that the rage would be better used against the Vong in controlled doses than wasted on an insignificant doctor uncontrollably. Deatharoc was certain that the Vong would taste his wrath and, more importantly, the Clan's wrath.
Deatharoc's swelling arm hardly bothered him now as his mind was focused on the inevitable battle with the Yuuzhan Vong. The Guardian was suddenly looking forward to the briefing on the counter attack plan. He grinned slightly and said,
"It's only a matter of time now until the Vong see the true extent of Tarentum's power."
All Deatharoc could do now was wait.
Brimstone, after being dragged into a med bay, helped out with all the latest victims. Most of them were not worth the while to even waste a med pak on them.
"Typical humans" thought Brimstone, "wasting valuable time and resources to ease the pain on lost causes."
After talking to Deatharoc and Korvyn, he noticed another casualty being treated upon. Walking over to the helpless soldier, he asked the medic about his condition.
"He won't make it the next hour, just trying to ease his pain" replied the medic.
"Then stop wasting time and go help those who are worth saving" said Brimstone in a cold tone.
The medic walked away. Brimstone knelt down to the victim.
"Do you know you are dying?" he asked.
"Yes, and I hurt soooo badly" replied the moaning recruit.
Brimstone looked around to see if anyone was watching. Taking note that no one was paying attention, he force strangled the dying soldier, putting him out of his misery.
"Farewell my brother. You are in a better place" whispered Brimstone in his ear.
After he was gone, Brimstone placed the body in a body bag. Then he picked him up and took him over to the other bodies needed for disposal. They would likely receive a ceremony for their efforts, but in time, Brimstone knew, they would have been forgotten.
Brimstone decided to leave for his ship since that was what Master Spears wanted from him.
After coming down a turbo lift, he noticed that there was a security force that had captured 3 living Vong. He went to ask where they are taking them and was told to detention for questioning.
Brimstone ran over to his cockpit, opened a secured comm system and tried to access it. The interference from the Shroud made it impossible for him to transmit anything. So Brimstone grabbed some items out of his ship. Opening another compartment that was hidden, he pulled out a box that was tightly, vacuumed sealed.
He decided it was time to find Master Spears and see if he could request to be with the interogation security with the 3 prisoners.
Meanwhile, on the Anubis, MERLANCE was in the process of threatening some random crewman for some petty offense. "You will not wear green while on my bridge! I don't care *why* your cap is green, it must be grey! Grey like all others! Your duties for the next week are," MERLANCE glanced at the nametag of the crewman which stated his name as PRT Szordryn "to clean the coolant conduits down in the engine room! I don't care that your dark side powers could be more use to the clan as fodder out in the field, but get to work!"
As the lowly ranked Szordyn scurried away, the power mad captain turned his attention to his communication officer.
"Minions! BATTLESTATIONS! And get Oberst on the comm" shouted the mad captain. "Middle of a battle against an unknown and clearly superior foe? Perfect time to discuss changing the name of the ship!"
"But sir," replied the communications officer, "You are not authorized to launch the fighters. Also, the Field Marshal is most likely trying to strategize with the military elite of the clan. Are you sure it is wise to inter-." The crewman paused as he avoided a glass thrown by his enraged superior.
"Do I look like I want excuses? Get me Oberst! And do it now! Now now now now now!"
A moment later, after a priority transmission was sent to the Corsair, Oberst's voice boomed over the comm, and the bridge went silent. "MERLANCE, this had better be important! You have interrupted our strategy session, and as you can see we are in the middle of a war with these 'Yuuzhan Vong' as Brimstone has named them."
"Field Marshal, as we are under attack by these supposed Yuuzhan Vong. I would like to request some leave. Immediately. I will leave Saitou in charge of the Anubis. By the way, can we rename the ship from the Anubis to something more intimidating, like the Sith Bloodfyre?"
"MERLANCE, do not interrupt us again! Do so and your punishment will be most severe! Now recall your fighters, you did not have permission to launch them! Set course for the Shroud, ideally we can evade their pursuit long enough to abandon the rest of these fools to their fate and set course for Yridia."
"Very well, but should the need arise, I would wish to join the starfighter force. We have lost a lot of ships, and the addition of my personal skill and the TIE Defender, which I won in our Brotherhood wide piloting championships, could be the difference maker. Saitou is a perfectly capable replacement, and I am sure the crew would certainly welcome a reprieve from my command." MERLANCE waited a moment for a response , but none came. "Er, Oberst? Come in, Oberst?" No voice responded.
The communications officer chimed in at this point, relishing the look on MERLANCE's face "Sir, he closed the transmission before you started speaking. He has also rescinded your priority communications clearance."
MERLANCE sat back into his command chair, despondent. "Very well. Helmsman, lay in a course for the shroud. Engage!"
The Anubis was hardly the fastest ship in the fleet, but it was slightly closer to the mysterious nebula than the rest of the Tarentum ships, so it got to the edge of the nebula at about the same time as the other, faster ships. On the viewscreen, MERLANCE saw the other ships of the Brotherhood disappear from the radar, one by one, as the various gases and debris made it difficult to differentiate between space junk, space rocks, and starships.
The Tarentum battlegroup gathered at the edge of the shroud; the Corsair did its best to provide covering fire as the Tarentum fleet entered the Shroud as one. As the Anubis entered the Shroud, MERLANCE hoped the clan ships would make it to safety.
While heading to the detention center, Brimstone kept trying to contact Master Spears for further orders.
Once he got there, Brimstone noticed security carting out bodies on hovering platforms.
"What happened here?" asked Brimstone.
"Not that it is your concern Guardian, but the 3 Vong captives subcumed to the interogations" replied the captain.
"That's too bad, I could had had fun with them" Brimstone said with a smirk.
Brimstone knew his chances of getting these creatures to relay the info they possess was near impossible, but he knew that they hated his race.
Still trying to get ahold of Master Spears, Brimstone decided to head back to the control center he had went with him before, hoping that he was still there and maybe able to overhear something about the upcoming actions that would happen soon.
While standing outside, Brimstone could faintly hear what sounded like a report of the interogations. An visibly irate Counsil was overheard that he needed to get captives that would talk. Other comments Brimstone heard was the actual planning of Clan Tarentum attacking the Clan of Scholae Palatine while their forces was in dire shape, hoping to eradicate them and show who is the dominate clan.
Brimstone then decided to head back to his ship. The box he was holding was going to have to wait till the clan can get more captives.
“The Vong offensive continues to decimate the other Clans,” Oberst was saying, “but Tarentum remains relatively untouched since the assault began. All ships have reported in on a regular basis since entering the Shroud, and we have been doing well. In addition, there was an opportunity that we took, where the Palpatines were caught between ourselves and the Vong. We assaulted the ships of Scholae Palatinae, and I am able to say, we took relatively little damage, but did a great deal of damage to their ships, in addition to the pounding they took from the Vong ships.”
Those gathered together on the deck of the Corsair nodded receptively to the good news. The Consul and Proconsul of Tarentum, Sith Bloodfyre and Korras, stood close together to the right of the Clan’s Marshal. To Oberst’s left was Doni Tzu, the Yevethan General of the Clan. Grand Master Kane was also here, standing close to the Shaevalian Consul. Kane had made quite the entrance to the bridge when the doors exploded and killed three crewmen, the doors reconstructing afterwards due to Kane’s great powers over the Dark Side of the Force. The three corpses were taken away to be laid with the rest of the dead. The bodies would be preserved, and likely raised up. As Necromancers, Clan Tarentum could make use of the dead, as well as the living.
“Murderous rage in an empty void,” the Grand Master stated, somewhat cryptically. “We seek after those who are not there, and yet they are. Even our mightiest weapons fall upon their deaf ears. It would seem that the Dark Side is leaving us to figure out how to combat these creatures of mystery and nothing.”
It was not always easy to understand the somewhat insane and often cryptic words of the Grand Master, but those who had learned to understand him at least on some level knew what he was saying. The Vong were dead to the Force, and the forces of the Brotherhood could not sense them, and could not affect them, but there must be a way to destroy them, and fight them off. The Brotherhood had not yet suffered any real defeat from outsiders in most of the recorded history of the cult. This could be the first, but none of the Tarenti present wanted to admit that this could be the first.
“It would seem to me,” Korras spoke, “that our best bet would be to head to Antei. We are cut off from Yridia. There is no way for us to contact the rest of our ships and warriors to come and reinforce us. If we can make it to Antei, we can perhaps use the greater communications array available to Antei to put a call for help.”
“I ssssssssay that we forget the Proconssssssssssul’sssssss ssssssssuggessssssstion, and head for Yridia now,” the Yevethan General responded. “While there may be ssssssssssome worth to hissssssss idea, there isssssss nothing for ussssss here. We are not beholden to the Sssssssssssssshroud assssss are otherssssssss. Let usssss retire to Yridia and defend our own.”
Donitz was rather blunt and open in his thoughts, but they were certainly not limited to him. There were others who believed the same way, or would agree with the great experience and tested intellect of the veteran Adept.
“Arcona has still acted in honor, even if our alliance has been negated,” Spears switched the subject somewhat. “If we withdraw, we leave them to the fate that we know to be forthcoming. The Vong have hit them hard, and we have seen the treacherous actions of the Palpatines focus on Arcona even when we should be focusing on unity to repel the Vong invaders. If we leave now, we leave the Brotherhood to its fate, yes, but we also leave even a neutral ally such as Arcona to destruction. They will not survive this if we leave them on their own.”
Spears spoke the truth, perhaps. The Palpatines had been rather treacherous in attacking the Arconans, especially after Braecen had already fired upon the Arconans on his own in an effort to lay them as bait before the Vong. For certain, some of the other Clans would’ve acted in the same manner, but it was cowardly and vile, and Braecen had paid for it somewhat already. Tarentum had exacted some manner of vengeance upon the Palpatines for their treachery, but would Braecen renew his attack on Arcona if Tarentum fled the field of battle?
* * * * *
The crewmen deposited the newest additional body bags into the makeshift mortuary unceremoniously, tossing the black bags onto the growing pile. Two more of these rooms had been turned into mortuaries, in addition to the main body storage facility. It was quite a sign of impending doom, to those who watched such signs, that the body count was startling, even within a Clan such as Tarentum that had, thus far, fared quite well in the onslaught. The Vong were vicious, and had claimed many lives. In some ways, the eldest of the Dark Side had to view the Vong with some manner of favor. The aliens were dark, foreboding, terrifying, and exacting a great amount of death and destruction upon the galaxy. They were what the favored of the Dark Side intended to be.
Except for being a void in the Force, of course.
* * * * *
Telona was, in some ways, an oddity within the Dark Side. For certain, the woman could be cold, murderous and entirely evil, but there were times when she was as soft as a summer breeze, and as gentle as down feathers on infant skin. For those wounded and dying, who expected an Adept of Tarentum to come and claim them as eternal warriors in undeath, the fear upon seeing Telona’s robes was washed away upon seeing her face. All those who fought for the Clan of Death knew that Telona would be a face of life, if possible, or at least a face of comfort. She was not as cold and cruel as some of the eldest of this Clan.
As she tended to the victims, another of the Clan tended to others. Brimstone had been a strange and mostly-unknown face of doom to some of the Clan’s wounded, though his unseen murders ended abruptly without seeming cause. Perhaps the Chiss had decided that reaping the wounded and dying was no longer his concern. Whatever the case, those still in the infirmary went on caring for those who had already fought bravely against the Vong.
* * * * *
“The question is,” Spears restated his question, “what do we do now? Yes, Antei is one option, and retreating to Yridia is another. There are even a greater number of options than that. We could attempt to find out what has happened to the Autarch and Sarin with it. Whatever the options are, we need to choose a plan of attack, and carry it out.”
Nods came from other members of the Clan’s eldest and military council heads. They all waited for the decision to come from the Consul, but the Sith Master was somewhat quiet. Perhaps Bloodfyre was trying to discern the will of the Dark Side. More likely, however, the Consul was weighing each option in his mind. While the Shaevalian was indeed a Master of the Sith, he did not always need the Force to guide his every decision.
“I want all of our ships repaired with all due haste,” Bloodfyre finally said. “I am still unsure of our course. I do not know whether Antei is our safest destination, but it is possible that there are not only communications options there, but stores of weapons and other items of power that may serve us in our assault against the Vong. I suggest we remain here for the moment, attempt to figure out where Arcona and other potential allies are, and plot out every possible option to find our where we will be served best.
“Oberst, Donitz,” the Consul continued, “I would appreciate you two working on this. Korras, I want every warrior of Tarentum made ready. I want the infirmaries cleared when possible. Send down some of the Watchers if you must to ensure that all are healed or dispatched to Oblivion and recalled as Restless if they cannot be saved. They will serve in life, or they will serve in death. Either way, they will serve. Grand Master, I would appreciate your counsel on this matter, if you have any. I think we are going to need to call upon your counsel as much as your dark powers in this engagement, Master Kane.”
That old pain was still there, even as Jason Hunter neared the infirmary. Where his are had been severed, he had used his lightsaber to cauterize the end of his stump to prevent from bleeding to death. Some of his crimson fluid still leaked through, to hit the deck with a silent slapping noise. Shock was also starting to settle in, Jason knew, and he assumed that his very visage was a ghostly ashen color.
The sounds of droids, doctors and aids dashing about filtered into the corridor. The occassional pained scream punctured those sounds. Out of a side door, he could see bodies being taken from the room and stacked in the hallway, awaiting transport to the morgues. The stench of death permeated the bulkheads. It'll take weeks to get that smell out of the ship...
Jason turned the corner and walked through the hatchway into the infirmary. He saw the Clan's doctors dashing about, trying to help who they could. Interspersed with them, were some of the Clan's youngest Jedi, trying to help in their own way--holding paitients down, running for supplies--but seemingly getting more in the way than anything. He even spied Telona, tending to the wounded in a tender, motherly way that he rarely saw from her.
He had to lean against the wall suddenly, overtaken unexpectedly by a wave of nausea and exhaustion. As he struggled to keep from vomiting or collapsing, he muttered out a weak, "Medi....uh...medic...please.....need to..lie...down....MEDIC!" That last exertion took the last of the wounded Archpriest's energy, and he began to fall to the deck. He felt Telona reach out with the Force, and suddenly he was being lifted invisibly to a nearby bed...its' blankets already stained in someone else's blood.
"Lie still, Jason," the woman said, coming to his side. She took note of Jason's injury with a sad look on her face. "And how many times do I need to tell you, to be careful with your lightsaber?"
"Ha ha, funny, Telona," he managed to moan. "Just make sure they clean this damned thing well, and stitch it up. I'll worry about a replacement later." Darkness overtook him then, And the Corellian didn't fight it in the least. The rest felt good, and he knew he'd need it later on.
“New navigation maps shall be sent to you shortly.”
“Aye, Corsair.” the Captain of the Corvette said simply.
The com-link was shut down, as the Creeping Death blazed through the sheer beauty of nothingness.
The bizarre nebulosity that was the Shroud seemingly circled around the corvette as if it was a mere wisp of space-cloud and naught else. Yet the Dark Side’s veneer, however light, was immediately apparent to anyone who had more than a slight Knowledge of this gift.
“Sir – The combined damage done to us by the Palpatines and the Outsider fleet, the Vong, has been minimal. No casualties have been reported although thirteen gunners have suffered some injury.” An assistant read out a hard-copy of the damage-gauges’ report.
“Weaponry damage?” Kazarelth asked without taking his eyes off the new map and coordinates streaming from the VSD Corsair.
“Minimal, sir.” He answered.
The corvette had disengaged its engines as soon as its engagement with the Palpatines was over; and was merely floating along the mysterious screen that guarded Antei. It was sufficiently deep within the sanctuary to safely lick its wounds.
It had also tried to contact its lost retinue of TIE Defenders. Ten had found their way back, and were being attended to in the hangar of the corvette.
Still, the captain waited. The Guardians of the Shroud could definitely turn the tide of this war. He believed in this.
Yridian Capitol Building
Taras, Yridia II
All the way down the hallway to the Grand Chamber, Rekio dreaded the upcoming speech. He hated speaking publicly, even more so because of all the pomps involved in formal proceedings and flattery of Parliamentary proceedings. This was ironic consider it made up the majority of his duties as Governor-General.
Before Rekio had even entered the Grand Chamber of the Capitol building, the members Parliament's Common House had already been stirred by the unusual guest members of this emergency session. Normally absent from Parliamentary proceedings such as these, the three guests included the reserved and enigmatic Depreist, Reinthaler, chief architect of Castle Tarentum, and the Mad Krath, Sirrus; the later of which was adorned in a ostentatious powdered wig. The mere presence of these illustrious figures sent the floor bustling with rumors as to the exact nature of this emergency session.
Now standing at the speaker's dais of the large, spacious Grand Chamber, Rekio set his eyes around the room at the various delegates presented. There was of course, The Common House, made up of 21 representatives of all shapes, sizes, species and creeds. In addition, there was the Blond man from Bespian, Vice Admiral Kessian Armus, and the three elders sent as special representatives to the Tarentae. Of the Taretae, only two remained in the system: Sato and Dranik both of which were present. After a moment or two at the dais, the Rekio swung his gavel upon the podium with diligence and purpose, echoing the desire for the proceedings to be underway.
"Members of the Common House, and representatives of Clan Tarentum," Rekio began, "I have called this emergency session of Parliament to bare the unfortunately duty of delivering to you grim news form our forces a far. Earlier this day, I received confirmation that our forces abroad have fallen under attack and will not be returning Yridia." A few gasps of awe escape from members of Parliament.
"There have also been reports that Judecca, the Palatinaen throne world, and the Jusadih system, the Plaguen home, have been attacked. It has been speculated that these attacks were likely by the same invaders who attacked our own fleet. Though, at this time, we cannot confirm this." Rekio paused briefly, as he allowed the subtle, yet grim implications his words set in among assembled audience.
"As we do not know the extent of these attacks, nor the nature and intentions of our aggressors, we forced with preparing ourselves for the worst. An enemy that would attack our fleet and the combined fleet of the Brotherhood is a bold one, and so we too must be bold in our resolve to defend Yridia in this time of crisis."
"Therefore, as stated under article seven of our Constitution, in the absence of both the Prince and His Majesty, The King, I will be taking emergency command of the Yridia system. Additionally ... "Loud cries from the Members of Parliament, preventing the Governor from continuing. Once again, Rekio used his gavel to call for order.
"Additionally, in the absence of the Marshal, Vice Admiral Kessian Armus will assume command of our military forces and military is heighten to condition yellow. Effective immediately all traffic within system is to be monitored and documented and all travel will be delayed without prior approval. Vice-Admiral Armus has already closed all space lanes and increased our fighter patrols." Again the Parliamentary body responded with an uproar.
"Order, Gentlemen! Please!" Rekio exclaimed as the gavel once again found the podium. "Members of this august body, you are all urged to make a swift return to your respective cities and prepare as best you can to maintain stability in this time of crisis. We know not when or even if the Prince and our fleet will return. Our resources are stretched, and we may very well be the next target of these invaders. For now, we must concentrate what remains on the guardianship and continued prosperity of Yridia."
Then again, there's always the Alpha Site, Rekio thought to himself, but that's a hand we're not ready to play.
"Until further notice, this, the Seventh session of our Parliament is hereby closed." Rekio banged his gavel once more, as armed troops formed up near the dais to escort him from the Parliamentary Grand Chamber to a shuttle that awaited take him to Castle Tarentum where he would hold court.
As the Governor-General left, the Adepts and Tarentae stood and made their way to a secret dock below the building. There, they would catch a submarine that would take them to Castle Tarentum where another meeting would be help, the real reason for which they had arrived on Yridia II to begin with.
The Vong fighters swarmed around the Corsair, Stygian, and Havoc like locusts and all Melkor knew to do was scream the orders, “Protect the Corsair at all costs!” The DP20's laser batteries lit up like red orbs as the laser fire intensified and didn't stop. It was hard taking the larger coral vessels down even with the Corsair's turbo lasers making it easier for the two DP20's to do their job. The Stygian took to starboard and the Havoc stayed to port, taking down the stray fighter that wasn't caught by the other ship's firepower on it’s approach. With a occasional concussion missile that ripped into the smaller coral ships nearly shattering them in the empty space showing the Tarentum vessels could hold their ground against the Vong..
As Melkor stood on his bridge watching his crew work their hardest, he smiled in pride. It was a little over a year and a half since he joined the Brotherhood and Tarentum. He had made his home on Yridia at the Castle Tarentum. There was no way that the Yuuzhan Vong was going to take that from him nor any of his new family, which he felt closer to that anyone on his home world of Naboo. The young knight thought to himself, “No more thoughts, I have to keep my mind on the battle!” As he brought his mind back from adrift, he checked the reactor status and missile counts on board the gunship. Moments later the holonet began to come to life and Bloodfyre and Oberst began to speak, “Melkor, add incoming shuttle craft and personal fighters to your escort duty protect all of our craft.” And Melkor quickly replied,” Yes, my lords.” As the holonet went quiet, Melkor began to relay his orders to his crew. With an even, calm voice amidst the chaos of the combat going on, he said, "Bring the Stygian around to bare her port side and protect our incoming ships along with the Corsair.”
The Tarentum fleet held their ground and was winning against the Vong bio ships. Melkor smiled with every coral vessel that blew in a brilliant fireball of plasma energy, satisfying the hate that the young knight had already felt for the Yuuzhan Vong. Between the Corsair, and the Stygian, every Vong vessel that tried to penetrate the front line they created in the shroud was destroyed or left heavily damaged and adrift in cold black space as laser fire continued to be laid down. Melkor smiled and softly spoke, "Keep up the good work men!"
Deatharoc was rather relieved that he was not assigned to pilot against the hordes of the Vong fighters. Even though being part of the Corsair's ground security force meant that he would fight the Vong invasion force, that was inevitably coming; he would be far safer on the Corsair than out at the battle. The Guardian would've liked to believe that his master assigned him for defending duty because he saw potential in him. However, Deatharoc was smart enough to realize that he would've been lucky for his master held the merest sliver of affection for him and that it was probably luck that allowed Deatharoc to avoid the potential danger in the space battle. Still Deatharoc was grateful of his position and prepared for the coming battle.
Deatharoc looked at the rest of the defense force. He recognized Korvyn, Brimstone and a few others. Normally, he would've gone and talked to them but the preparation for the Vong strikeforce's attack occupied him too much. The loud explosions battle proved that the battle was intense but they gave no hint to who had the advantage. The ship suddenly shook violently and it caused several of the defense force to fall down. Deatharoc managed to grip onto railing and was the first to get back on his feet. The Guardian found himself staring at an organic Vong landing ship. He then pulled out his Sith Sword and said,
"And so it begins...." He knew he was ready. Ready to fight, ready to kill and if necessary, ready to die.
“Good lord. Lieutenant!”
Lt. Renzan turned to the Ensign who had shouted his name and stepped over to the human female quickly. Renzan was rarely one for formalities in a combat situation, so the woman hurried to report.
“We’re being boarded,” Ensign Va’leya said quickly.
“Deck on alert!” Lt. Renzan shouted.
“They slipped through the containment field in the main hangar bay, sir,” Va’leya continued, loudly. “We have at least three Vong ships deploying troops on the Corsair.”
The separate crews on the deck of the Corsair went about their duties, and alarms rang out immediately, warning the entire ship that they had been boarded by intruders. Master Zero glanced around the bridge to ensure that his command staff was following proper protocols and relaying troops to guard vital sections, and that others were being routed to the hangar bay. The almost eerie calm from the powerful Master seemed to reach out and affect everyone on the bridge. Even though officers and crewmen were hurrying and talking loudly, doing what they should, everything seemed to go smoothly, even to the point that no one accidentally bumped into each other, no orders had to be shouted twice. Such was the affect of the presence of the revered Master.
Oberst moved away from the gathered Elders and veterans of Tarentum and joined Master Zero, quickly discussing the situation before barking a few orders of his own to the Marshal’s own assistants.
The Consul and Proconsul glanced quickly at each other and nodded. Without a word, Korras ran out of the bridge and away towards the hangar bay, gathering troops on his way there. Bloodfyre took a different exit from the bridge, but not before asking Grand Master Kane and Master Spears to join him. The three powerful Sith moved out of the bridge with long, quick strides, and were soon on their way towards the hangar bay in a turbolift speeding them on their way.
Korras had found several Knights, Jedi Hunters and Guardians, along with a contingent of about 20 marines to follow him down to the hangar bay. The Proconsul had taken a longer route, but had done so to stop by the flagship’s armory to gain ammunition and other supplies that the troops already in the hangar bay would likely need. After a short visit, the Proconsul and those following him took their supplies and ammo and headed to another turbolift to take them down towards the main hangar bay.
* * * * *
The Vong were relentless. The blaster fire from the defending troops of the Corsair seemed almost completely ineffective against the crab armor that the invading aliens wore. The large, powerful warriors who had disembarked from the boarding ship had pushed the defending troops almost completely out into the hallway. It was highly likely that the Vong would soon take the hangar bay, and establish a well-defended post with which to bring more boarding parties on, and spread throughout the ship.
Each man and woman, each officer and enlisted man knew that the Vong could not be allowed to gain a permanent hold on the hangar bay, and continued to fight back and double their efforts, even after they had almost all taken wounds of some sort, some of them even fighting with missing limbs, eyes, fingers, and other grievous wounds. Guardians Deathroc and Balnazaar, as well as Prtector Korvyn, were doing what they could to help fight back against the invading Vong, and though they had not yet reached the greatest levels of mastery of their arts, the combat prowess of these three and those they fought with could not be denied. Were they fighting any other foe, perhaps the battle would have already been won.
And yet, the Vong were like no other foe. These aliens resisted nearly every power of the Force invoked by any of the Journeymen present. They continued to assault the soldiers of Tarentum with their strange, snake-like weapons, their own ranged weapons, and could not be contained. The Vong were starting to win the hangar bay.
And then came the Masters.
The Sith Master and Consul of the Clan, Sith Bloodfyre-Tarentae, was the first to enter the hangar bay. Master Spears Tarentae was right behind him, Sithswords in the hands of the Gen’Dai. The Shaevalian had ignited the blades on both ends of his weapon with the familiar pop-hiss and had become an instant target for the Vong warriors, who had thrown several strange-looking insects at the Sith Master, which exploded on impact with the floor of the hangar bay. Other insect projectiles met an end through the lightsaber blades of the Consul, some also met their end from the infinitely sharp blades of Master Spears. The two Sith Masters boosted the morale of the troops as they entered, and immediately, the soldiers of Tarentum began another impressive push back against the Vong forces.
And then came the Grand Master.
Kane was a vision of darkness. The very air cooled noticeably to the soldiers of Tarentum, and even to the Vong. While the alien intruders could never understand the Force, and were most-often immune to its effects, they could not be immune to the physical abnormalities that followed such a potent individual of power and Darkness as Grand Master Kane Vader.
A chill ran up the spine of every soldier who fought for Tarentum who had not the power or gifts of the Dark Side. Though each of these men and women were, in some ways, prepared for the effects of Kane’s presence, they could still not suppress the chill that ran up their spine, or the slight shudder upon seeing his dark gaze meet theirs, even for the briefest of moments.
The two Sith Masters, Sith Bloodfyre and Spears, led the charge, but Kane pushed the Vong back. With great volleys of Force Lightning, gouts of flame borne of ancient Sith magic, and vile creations of darkness who destroyed the deck of the Corsair and then re-created it once the Vong had been sucked out into the darkness of space, the fight was over within moments.
And then came another Vong boarding ship.
The alien intruders kept coming. Even Grand Master Kane, who was perhaps more powerful than even any other two Grand Master combined, could not hold off the Vong with his dark powers forever. The Grand Master called upon his ancient and unsettling arts to hold back the Vong and allow the soldiers of Tarentum, the Sith Masters he had come with, and others to do their job.
And then came Korras.
The marines who had accompanied the Proconsul ran into the hangar bay and immediately began firing on the enemy and helped extract the most wounded of the Clan’s soldiers out of the bay to the waiting medics, and then the marines once more entered the hangar bay with weapons blazing. Nearly a dozen lightsabers ignited in the hands of either the Knights who had accompanied Korras, or those Guardians and Jedi Hunters who had gained lightsabers from the armory to fight off the Vong. The warriors of the Dark Side threw grenades and projectiles of their own, taken from the armory, but also tossed crates and other items within the hangar bay through the powers of the Dark Side and the Telekinesis they wielded.
Another wave of Vong intruders was pushed back and defeated.
And yet, more waves awaited. It was only a matter of time before the alien intruders would come again.
The Vong have invaded. That was what exactly Brimstone was watching as the first ship landed and troops of vong started to attack anyone that would get in their way.
Brimstone yanked out his charric blaster and was able to get a blue beam shot off that hit with pinpoint accuracy the nearest vong, killing him instantly. The shot struck through its eye and out the back of its head.
Masters Spears, Kane, and an unfamiliar master arrived and started attacking relentlessly. Master Spears noticed the Brimstone over to the side firing away and the one vong slumping to the ground.
"Good shot Guardian" exclaimed Master Spears, "now go get some cover."
Brimstone wanted to tell him of the box he was carrying, but realized it wasn't the correct time with the invasion that was happening. So he took his leave to try to get to an armory to find something he could use.
Brimstone was on the first turbolift headed up to the armory when more alarms of incoming ships were landing.
Brimstone made it to the armory and found that there was multiple grenade launchers, as well as novice making lightsabres. He grab the nearest heavy assault rifle, some grenades, and what look like a doublebladed lightsabre hilt. He decided to go help fight.
Running to the turbolift, he notice it was on its way up. Trying to concetrate on the force he could feel nothing but emptyness in the elevator. Remember from prior engagements, the Jedi claimed that the Vong had no presence in the Force and except for the void, they are unseen in the Force. So Brimstone went back to the end of the hall.
His intuition proved correct as 10 Vong warriors poured out of the two turbolifts. Brimstone aimed with the assault rifle and hurled 2 grenades in their direction. The vong tried to duck from the explosion. One just stood there and looked at his direction, long enough for Brimstone to get a clean shot into his cranium, dropping the vong on the spot. The others decided to attack and gave chase.
Making it to the armory, he tried to seal the door, but when then tried to close, an ampistaff blocked the closure and the vongs pulled the doors open. Brimstone thought he was going to die, but not without a fight. Then he realized he still had his box. Opening it quickly, he was holding 4 cannisters that looked like grenades. He placed his hands behind his back and stood there in parade rest, waiting for his execution.
The first vong noticed him immediatle, but hesistated attacking as the other 8 vong barreled into the room. It was wondering why he was just standing there.
"Cheesssss" growled the lead vong.
"Vong" spoke back Brimstone, you will find I dont die easily.
The 9 vong held up their ampistaffs ready to kill, but Brimstone used his skill in the Force and with enhanced prowess, threw the 4 canisters at the vong. They were ready for a grenade attack, but these weren't ordinary grenades.
The grenades exploded and a yellow pollen-like substance was spewed all over them. within seconds, a chain reaction of spores and their armor started causing it to spasm and swell. The vong started gasping for air and grabbing their throats as the swelling of their living armor was suffocating them on the spot. The armor ws dying and was taking their hosts with them.
One by one, they dropped to the ground, dead from sufforcation. Brimstone, for good measures, blasted each body in the head, making sure they were dead.
"I certainly hope I got more on my ship" thought Brimstone as he headed back to the hangers to check.
Balnazaar was flying in formation with a TIE Defender squad. He and another pilot were flanking the squad leader as well as shooting Vong starfighters downand bombing Vong warships. The TIE Defender squadron's efforts seemed to be useless. Everytime a Vong starfighter was shot down, three took its place and the bombing runs seemed to do little more than scratch the organic armor of the enemy warships. Balnazaar startd to regret volunteering to be part of the TIE Defender squad.
"Maybe I should've asked to be part of the ground defense force." The Guardian muttered to himself. Balnazaar then realized that there was no time to regret his decision. He had to focus on staying alive and killing Vong.
As Balnazaar and the rest of the TIE Defender squad prepared for another bombing run, a volley of fire emitted from behind them. More Vong ships came after them. After several attempts to lose the Vong ships, the members of the squad realized that they had to get on a ship or die. The squad disbanded, with all its members heading towards a different ship. Much to Balnazaar's dismay, he was being followed by Vong starfighters. He was hit and found himself spinning uncontrolably in different directions. Now Balnazaar was almost certain that he'd never survive this battle. Still, there was no harm in trying to survive.
Deatharoc was both awed and honored to be fighting side by side with masters such as Consul Bloodfyre and Grandmaster Kane Vader. He was full of relief when the experienced Dark Jedi arrived as the Vong were starting to win. Now it seemed that the large Vong invasion force and Tarentum's defense force were both stalemated. Deatharoc continued relentlessly fighting the Vong as did the other Tarenti, determined to drive the filthy aliens of their ship.
The fighting got more and more intense. Waves of Yuuzhan Vong continously assaulted the ship and were held off by the warriors of Tarentum. Deatharoc fought a particularly vicious pair of Vong warriors whose aggressive attacks forced him to go on the defensive. The snake-like weapons of the Vong were able to cut Deatharoc. Though the cuts were not fatal, they were painful enough to draw a roar of agony from the Guardian. Immediately, Deatharoc felt a rush of Force Rage and he went on the offensive. He began striking both Vong's weapons again and again until the abominations were disarmed. Deatharoc struck both creatures without hesitation. Deatharoc basked in his satisfaction for a moment. But the deaths of two Vong was not enough. The Guardian's bloodlust wasn't satisfied yet. Deatharoc rejoined the other Tarenti in fighting the Vong. There was still a battle to be won.
“We are under attack, lieutenant! Assist the Corsair immediately!” the officer’s voice was a mixture of anger, restraint to show this anger, and a marked contour of dread.
“Aye.” Kazarelth shut the comm. console.
“What is the situation in the hangar?” The Hunter calmly spoke to the Officer in charge.
“Sir, four Defenders are in need of serious repairs--”
“Send the rest on a course towards the Corsair.” the captain said simply.
The hangar bay alarms were ringing as the few able, but tired, pilots scrambled on an alert. The engineers and repair crew of the Marauder worked twice as fast to ensure the few space-ready Defenders to help defend their Clan’s flagship.
The Executive Officer walked the Captain through the assault as they decided on the best mode of action. The port-bow of the Corsair had at least three ships latched onto it. The Defenders would try to destroy them, coupled with the two gunships that served as the guard of the Victory-class. The superior firepower of the Defenders could help the Star Destroyer.
A conference was soon arranged between the top officers of the Marauder class corvette, and soon a plan was formulated.
The Creeping Death would offer aggressive firepower and in a way tractor these ships away from the flagship like plucking out leeches from the skin.
Not entirely a foolproof plan, they knew. The success depended upon too many variables— the starfighters’ tactics against an entirely new ship, the time needed for it to work, and the size of the boarding vessel. This especially they hoped that the Outsider ships were not of the same size as the Creeping Death. Tractor beam projectors were hardly of any use if the ship being tractored in was larger than the ship projecting the beam.
“The squadron leader should also be made known of this.” Kazarelth said hastily as he looked on to a rough data sheet that had been compiled.
“Aye, sir.” The XO walked away.
“Pluck out the leeches ?”
“Whatever that means…”
“It means we are to force the boarding party to come out o’ Corsair’s soft underbelly.” The squadron leader said in an irritated tone to his wingmen. “Now focus on these crabby insects’ shielding. Y’all know what we did back there. Now try and repeat what we did outside o’ the Shroud within it.”
“Yes, sir!” the five wingmen breathed in at the same time, as they cruised through the Shroud’s cloak.
The six TIE Defenders could vaguely see the VSD Corsair being assaulted by myriads of tiny seeds. The two gunships could hardly do anything against the fighters, but the larger ships were receiving their steady dose of laser battery. The Stygian and the Havoc were doing their jobs with an uncharacteristic pride attached to each laser battery fire. The coral ships that avoided the DP-20s were many, but those that avoided the Tarentum fighters were rare. The Corsair’s compliment of fighters were buzzing like angry bees, while the Yuuzhan Vong ships blindly swam into these fighters’ heated sting.
The Squadron Leader opened a communications channel to all ships within his range, and in a tone of voice which bubbled with an enthusiasm that could only be termed ‘madness’ if it were but a notch higher, “HERE WE ARE!” and plunged into a full swoop straight to one of the boarding vessels and awarded it with a laser fire.
The vessel’s shields stopped it as easily as how one flicks off an irritating insect. Little did it know that the five starfighters behind this would follow the same pattern of assault…
The five wingmen fired shot after shot in the same way their leader had (and with the same bursts of energy in their voice as they dived to take their shot), and very soon the shields were down, and the ship itself looked like an invertebrate.
“Good work boys… now for the rest before She comes in.” The Squadron leader chuckled as he waited for the Creeping Death to come into battle.
The boarding party was holding back. The warriors had seen enough to use caution when dealing with these… Jeedai. Specifically Lord Kane, and the Elders. The Corsair was definitely filled with an unknown, and very dangerous type of the infidels that the Vong hated.
And then came the news of the violation of their boarding ships by the starfighters. If these infidels had indeed found a way to harm their vessels, then they were trapped.
[Kill the darker ones. They are the source.] The warlord growled, the scars on his biceps pulsing.
[But, my lord… we cannot break through their defenses…] a lowly warrior stammered uncertainly.
[Then you shall be instrumental--] the Warlord angrily said.
The superhuman reflexes, innate to a Dark Jedi cut through the warrior as he was thrown at the defense like a marionette being broken into pieces. The sabers crackled and hissed and were steady again. A few of them wavered, nonetheless.
Sensing a lull before the storm, the leaders swiftly gave hushed orders to fortify their present location. The Far-Outsiders would definitely pull in all their (presently) limited resources in an effort to take over this vassal vessel of Tarentum.
Another series of blows rocked the port-bow of the Corsair. The Defender pilots were doing their jobs with fluid efficiency.
And amidst all this, the Creeping Death had locked onto its first victim, ensuring that its name would not go in vain.
The TIE Defender finally stopped twirling. Balnazaar was feeling nauseous. It took a shot from a Vong fighter to get Balnazaar out of his state of disorientation. Now the Guardian was aware of situation an began dodging fire. He then realized that he'd need to land on a ship or he'd die.
The TIE Defender continued to fall apart and take enemy fire. He was desparately looking for a place to land but was unable to do so. Finally, the Guardian found a hangar, that of the Corsair. Balnazaar frantically contacted the hangar officer, trying his best to stay calm.
"Balnazaar to Corsair. I am in need of a landing place. Request for permission to land."
For several moments, Balnazaar was dodging enemy fire and flying in circle. He tried to stay calm but contacted the hangar officer again.
"What the hell is going on? I am in dire need of landing place so will you please give me permission to land?!?"
Balnazaar received no answer and thought that he was going to die. Suddenly, a transmition from the Corsair relieved the Guardian from his worries.
"Guardian Balnazaar, you are permitted to land in the hangar."
The Guardian put his ship on full throttle and despite all the odds, he made it to the Corsair. However, his landing was far from perfect. By the time he stopped, Balnazaar's TIE Defender's wing fell off and all its systems were off-line. He jumped out off the ship and sarcastically said,
"Well that was a nice landing."
Balnazaar was then approached by a soldier in the hangar. The man was shaking and was obviously terrified.
"We are being boarded. We could use your help in the battle."
Balnazaar nodded his head and then sprinted towards the battle's location. He pulled his swords out of his robe and prepared to fight the invading Vong. Balnazaar then said to himself,
"Well, it seems that I still may be of use to Tarentum."
A tremor through the deck of the Corsair drew Jason's attention back to the waking world. He still lay on that blood-soaked bed, but now it seemed to have his own fluids mixed in with it. He fought back through the foggy haze that had settled over his mind.
What am I doing here again? Oh yeah...my arm... With that sobering thought, Jason Hunter looked down at what remained of his left arm. Just above where his elbow should have been, was a knurled stump. A bacta bandage was wrapped around the end, and, despite the pain-killing drugs that had been injected at the site of the injury...it still felt like his arm was all there. "So that's what they mean by phantom pains," he muttered.
Taking a look around the room, it had been mostly emptied. A small handful of undead servants were changing sheets on beds and moping up blood. Jason thought he recognized some of the servants, from battles long past...but he couldn't be sure. He laid back again, weariness starting to take over again.
That is, until a new series of alarms started to sound.
"Boarders have landed in the hanger bays. I repeat, boarders have landed in the hanger bays!" The announcement was followed by the blaring of klaxons. Outside, Jason could hear personnel dashing about, either running toward or away from the battle. The only people that seemed undeterred by the alarms were the undead maids.
Suddenly awake, partially by the alarms and being suffused by the Force, Jason sat up and stood. He nearly lost his balance, in part because of the drugs, and because he was now lighter on one side. Patting down his right hip, he made sure his lightsaber was still there, and strode out of the room and into the bustling passageway. He made it a good forty meters or so before someone tried to stop him. It was some annoymous apprentice, who the Krath Equite didn't recognize.
"Lord Hunter," the young man said, his face full of fear. Obviously, he thought that calling Jason "Lord" when he hadn't earned such a title, would tarry some sort of favor that would keep Jason from murdering him. "Mistress Murrage left me in charge of making sure you don't do anything rash while recovering from your...injury."
Jason smirked down at the small human. It seemed like to Telona to keep him from hurting himself further, even when the balance of a conflict had to be turned in their favor. "Tell Telona that I'll be fine, and that she should mind her own business. But I do appreciate the thought." With that, he turned and left, disappearing into the roiling crowd of military personnel as they moved hurriedly up and down the hallway.
At the same hanger in which he had lost his arm, there was a pitched battle in progress. Jason could hear the hum and sharp biting sounds of lightsabers, the scream of blaster weaponry, the crackle of lightning, and the dying screams of various individuals. He only hoped that more of those Vong were dying.
Jason leapt over the marines and their sparse cover at the mouth of the hanger, and charged into the fray. His lightsaber came to life, the emerald blade shimmering in stark contrast to the crimson blood that littered the compartment. Nearest to him was his Consul, taking on two warriors at once. Sith's double-bladed lightsaber was a blur of constant movement, keeping the Vong at bay but doing little against the armor they wore.
Sith must have sensed Jason's arrival, for, without looking, he used one of his crimson blades to force a Vong warrior to swing his arm wide, right into the path of Jason's lightsaber. The warrior grunted in pain as his arm fell to the deck, and Jason was upon him instantly. He full-on body tackled the alien, knocking the beast to his back with the Krath on top. Unbridled rage flooded through him, and Jason drove his balled fist into the face of the Yuuzhan Vong.
"You mother kriffer!" he bellowed, bashing the dazed warrior with the pommel of his lightsaber. The rage he felt at having been mutilated earlier all came pouring out onto that one opponent, and Jason didn't stop until the Vong's face was little more than a bloodly, pulsating lump. Satisfied, the Krath turned his attention to the next target. That one was a little preoccupied throwing an insect at the marines, so Jason simply drove the tip of his weapon into the softspot of the warrior's armor, straight into the armpit. The warrior tensed for a moment, then dropped to the deck, very dead.
Looking around, Jason saw that the current wave had been beat back, but that more were waiting just outside the magcon. Rising from his knees, he readied himself for more.
The battle between Tarentum and the invading Yuuzhan Vong was getting more fierce by the second. Battle cries filled the air and men were dying agonizing deaths. Deatharoc's entire body was covered with bruises, sores and cut. However despite all the injuries he had sustained, Deatharoc kept fighting. However like many other Tarenti, Deatharoc was getting tired. Fighting in the seemingly eternal battle was exhausting but the Guardian would've died rather than abandon the battle.
More and more Vong abominations started to board the ship. Deatharoc found himself fighting side-by-side with Tarentum's Consul, Bloodfyre. The Dark Jedi Master's twirling lightsaber killed more Vong on that moment than Deatharoc's Sith Sword had in the past 10 minutes. The Consul saw Deatharoc decapitate a Vong warrior and took the time to compliment him on his kill saying
"Excellent job Guardian."
Deatharoc was about to thank him when a Vong soldier went behind the Consul and was about to strike him. Before Deatharoc could say anything, the Vong warrior had a crimson blade in his face courtesy of the Consul. Bloodfyre mearly smiled at Deatharoc's obvious astonishment and simply said,
"We have a battle to win, Guardian. Standing around will not get Tarentum anywhere."
Both the Consul and Deatharoc went their separate ways continuing to fight. Deatharoc was now fighting more furiously than he ever had in this battle. He realized through the Consul that if he wanted to win he had to fight harder. After all he was not only fighting for Tarentum. He was also fighting for his life.
Brimstone took his time to cover the dead vongs ampistaffs, knowning they are still lethal enough to turn back into serpents and attack others. So he bagged and tagged them "Not For Touching".
He then made a count of what he had on him. A assault rifle, charric blaster, 5 concussive grenades, and a box with 2 more "spore" grenades. "Kryffn Damn!" thought Brimstone. "I have to get more of these."
He headed out to the main hall way, but when he came around the corner, he noticed a vong standing over his fallen commrade. The vong notice Brimstone before he noticed him, and lept at Brimstone. Brimstone tried to bring up his assault rifle, but the speed of the vong was too fast as it brought down its ampistaff right onto the rifle, shattering it into pieces. The concussion of the powercell exploding, threw both Brimstone and the vong away from each other.
Brimstone noticed his jacket was on fire and threw it off. Just in time to see the vong was already up and charging for another assault. Its face was seared from the blast, but its armor was still glistening in the hallway lighting.
Brimstone had no chance to run, so he grabbed the first thing he could, the double bladed lightsabre he confiscated from the armory. Igniting one blade, he stood his ground waiting for the attack. The weapon felt unfamiliar in his hands. The other blade refused to turn on. Probably why it was in the armory for repairs.
"Jeedai" growed the vong, seeing the crimsom blade ignite, enhancing its fury it assaulted Brimstone unmercifully.
Brimstone showed his inexperience with this weapon, but his training in blocking and dodging was helpful. The vong was relentless. A low swing of its ampistaff to Brimstone's legs made him sommersalt backwards, but before he could land, the vong tackled him from behind, pulverizing him against the hall coridor walls.
Brimstone was trapped in its vice grip. The drool from the vong facing him was dripping onto his face, stinging his eyes. Brimstone knew he was either going to be dead, or if it got him back to the Embrace on their ship, would surely wish he was dead.
He grabbed the sabre to try to lop its head off, but it was too strong, as the vong grabbed, his arm, forcing it to the ground, trying to break the Guardian's hold on the weapon.
The vong smilled unmercifully.
"Sssssnnnaaapppp" was the sound Brimstone heard as one of his forarm bone broke. Brimstone wanted to cry out, but the next sound was music to his ears.
The other end of the blade ignited. The crimsom blade drove dee'p into the side of the vongs head on outside the other end. The look of surprise as its smile faded away was more than pleasant to Brimstone.
The Guardian turned off the two blades, rolled the vong's corpse off of him, and procedded to tie his arm around his waste with a makshift sling from one of the belts of a fallen vong.
He picked up what he had dropped, placing the spore grenades in a pocket on his shirt, and the lightsabre clipped to his belt. He then grabbed the charric blaster off the floor and proceeded to head back to the hanger in the turbolift.
"That is 12 vong I killed now" thought Brimstone. "I better get some medals or a promotion from this!"
As he was headed down the turbolift, he used the advanced healing abilities to work on his arm along with the reduce pain trick he learned while in the training rooms that he was learning the Force.
The turbolift door opened at the hanger. Brimstone could see many Dark Jedi Masters fighting briliantly against the vong. Brimstone ran over to Master Spears.
"Master, take these and use them against these vile creatures" yelled Brimstone as he handed Master Spears the last two spore grenades.
Puzzed as the Guardian's suggestion, he pulled the pins and threw them towards the Vong ship that just landed. Using the Force to hold them from exploding until the landing ramp opened on the incoming ship, Master Spears hurled the grenades into the bowel of the ship, where the exploded upon release from the Force.
Two loud bangs were heard, then screams came from inside the ship. A squad of about 8 vongs poured out of the ship, rolling on the ground and gasping at their throats for air. The spores were doing their job on suffercating them.
Master Spears looked at Brimstone and smiled.
"Very nice, Guardian. There is evil in you yet." said Master Spears. "You will have to tell me where you got those so we could use them again."
Brimstone smirked. "Bafforr tree pollen, Master!"
A crimson blade sung in the air as Master Bloodfyre ended another Vong life. We stopped to paused to take a breather by an open view port. What he saw brought a smile to his cold face. In the darkness of space a shim was pulling close to the Corsair. It's eight laser cannons lighting up space. as it maneuvered towards the hanger its inhabitants realized that there was an obstacle in their way. A Vong Transport carrier lay in the hanger, spewing Vong Warriors into the Corsair's belly. The ship's commander spoke spoke quietly to his staff. "Wipe it out."
Arcs of light flew from the Sentinel-Class Landing craft positioned itself directly behind the Vong craft. the So named ship, "Tiamat's Blade" opened up all of her offensive weaponry, eight laser cannons, two concussion-Missile Launchers, and repeating blasters, quickly wearing down the living ship's protective shell, and riping the ship apart before it could mount a defense. the ship landed in the hanger bay, learning from its enemy's mistake, landed backwards, so it could defend itself in the event of an attack. As the ship landed, the craft opened and at the top of the ladder was a group of Apprentices and Novices, new to the Brotherhood. Leading them was their Envoy, Krath Priest Sephiroth storm. As the ladder decended the Priest ignited his violet duelist saber, and prepared to charge the few Vong who had survived the destruction of their transport. the alien creatures prepared their weapons and the new Dark Jedi prepared theirs, blasters and swords. The Envoy led the down the ramp, and with a war crie the Dark Jedi, as a group, prepared to turn the tide of this battle, for Tarentum.
Brimstone watched more vong being slaughtered by the masters. Running to his clawcraft, he jumped in and saw he was lucky to have more canisters of Bafforr tree pollen. Grabbing all that was left, he proceeded to wait by the landing bay entrances out of the way and hidden, just incase more arrived. He took note on how Master Spears was able to use the Force to transport the grenades into the hulls of the ships.
He watched in amazment as another ship landed, but landed backwards. It was odd to see a ship take that aproach to get inside a capital ship like that. He noticed that alot of the weaponry was in the aft of the landing ship and it was pure genius that the captain of that ship knew what he was doing.
Brimstone could feel the Corsair was moving and looked like it was headed out of the Shroud into a vector of the Antei space station.
"What are they thinking?" thought Brimstone. They are setting themselves up to be slaughtered by the vong."
Once the Corsair cleared the nebula, it was transparent through the viewports that they were headed there to attack, not the Vong, but the other Clans that laid in waiting, doing repairs. He did remember that the Clans of the Brotherhood have had a long history of Hatred for one another. This was a brilliant strategy to wipe the other Clans out with the help of the Vong.
Brimstone started to ponder. "Hmmmmm!" thought Brimstone. "I wonder if the masters here gave some secret info to the Vong to bring them here to help in eradicating the other Clans?"
The questions were flowwing in his head now. It would make sense. The other clans were getting slaughtered, yet the Tarentum Clan was only having minor damage to their ranks. It would seem plausible to use an outside enemy to bring disoray to the Brotherhood to allow Tarentum to show superiority. Thus the way of the Sith.
Brimstone remember reading on the history of the Sith about how the deceased Emperor Palpatine had used the Neiomodians in his war with the Jedi to build sympathy with the Republic for his own greed of eradicating the cursed Jedi.
"Could Tarentum be so bold to use the same ploy" though Brimstone, "To use an old trick that all the Sith should know well of?"
Brimstone decided to go check for himself to see if his hunches were accurate. The only way was to see the Consul Bloodfyre and ask him himself.
As the Vong boarding vessel docked with the Corsair and began offloading warriors Melkor screamed out, “Come to bear on that thing and concentrate fire on its aft!” The DP-20’s laser cannons and turbo lasers unleashed a maelstrom of fire on the bioship, and for what seemed like forever the Vong ship withstood the firepower the Stygian dumped into it. Melkor knew that if he could take out the ships engines it would make it easier on his brethren aboard the Corsair.
Melkor knew his vessel well serving aboard the Stygian since he was a Guardian learning every part of the vessel and how to milk her to the max of her abilities, and the Knight thought about the power core and gave the order over the comm to the engineering deck, “I want all the power you guys can spare on the batteries, I want that bioship destroyed without damaging the Corsair.” The lasers and turbo laser were the only way to do it Melkor couldn’t risk firing any concussion missiles anywhere near the Corsair as well as they were to precious to waste this far from Aegis.
Melkor was growing agitated from the Vong ship resilience and started to tap his saber hilt on his command chair on the bridge. Finally the bioships engines started to overload from the constant barrage of fire, and after the ship started to implode Melkor ordered, "Come about and make sure she breaks away clean from the Corsair." The Stygian’s turbo laser turrets sliced thought the Vong vessel docking mechanism with ease, and the Vong boarding ship floated away still imploding in on itself finally exploding in open space.
Deatharoc found himself in a horrible position. He was disarmed and cornered by two Yuuzhan Vong warriors. Their amphistaffs were directed toward the Guardian who was in desparate need of a weapon to repel the Vong. Deatharoc scanned his surroundings and found a lightsaber beside a corpse of a dead Tarenti on the floor. Immediately, he telekinetically grabbed the weapon and ignited it. The saber's crimson blade met the two striking amphistaffs a split-second before they would've killed Deatharoc.
The ferocious Vong began pushing down Deatharoc and their amphistaffs were getting dangerously close to the Guardian's face. Deatharoc knew that he had to do something quickly or he would be destroyed. Deatharoc then remembered a lesson he learned in lightsaber studies about Darth Vader. Vader used the Force to hurl objects at opponents who were faster than him or when he was outnumbered. Deatharoc decided to do what the Dark Lord was so fond of doing and telekinetically threw objects at the Vong.
The two Vong were hit with a large piece of metal, which appeared to daze them. A second later, a blaster rifle also hit the Vong warrior. Soon the Vong's Crab armor was beginning to crack. Deatharoc puled himself up while continuing to hurl objects at the Vong. The monsters were defenseless and Deatharoc stabbed both monsters with his newfound weapon, killing them instantlly. Deatharoc then used the Force to put pieces of metal ontop of the amphistaffs.
The Guardian had learned a new trick whic he intended to use against the invading Vong. Though he knew that he wasn't even close to being as proficient a fighter as his personal idol Darth Vader was, Deatharoc knew that the only way to become better at something was to keep practicing. The Vong were the perfect targets for the Guardian's 'practice'. Before returning to the battle, Deatharoc looked at the lightsaber he had just picked up and said to himself,
"Too bad I won't be able to use a lightsaber for a while after the battle. It sure beats the hell out of a Sith Sword."
The Battle raged on outside the Corsair with the support ship fending off the swarms of Vong Coral skippers and the additional attempt to board reinforcement onto the Corsair.
Melkor stood on the bridge of the Stygian were he has been with little sleep since the war began with these infernal creatures that he has grown to despise over the waning days of ship to ship combat. The morale of the crew was still considerablily high after taking down the first of the Vong boarding craft that festered at the Corsair, and the attempts by the Vong to take down the Stygian that have failed as well along with the support of the Corsair and Anubis’s star fighters that greatly help tip the scales into Tarentum’s’ favor.
Looking out over the vast reaches of space the brilliant flashes of turbo laser fire and exploding fighter craft of both the Vong and as well sadly the Brotherhood also lit up the black void that hung around the battle. Both the Stygian and the Havoc began to come around the prow of the Corsair as a badly damaged Vong boarding ship came barreling in on what was either a suicide run or from being hit so hard that it was knocked off course, but Melkor had only one thing on his mind keeping ever Vong vessel away from the Corsair and both DP-20’s began lay down volleys of concussion missiles, and laser fire into the already flaming Vong craft to keep it from impacting on the hull of the Corsair. the vessel exploded into dust sized debris with the blast from all three ships concentrating fire on the doomed bio ship.
The quick meeting went well with the Consul Bloodfyre. Master Bloodfyre reassured the Guardian, while yet it was plausible to use the vong for bringing the other clans to their knees, it wasn't sensible as most clans knew about the history of Lord Sidious to fall for the same trick.
Master Bloodfyre then gave Brimstone orders to get back to his ship, the Nssis-class Clawcraft Yashuvhu's Brimstone, and assigned him 4 of the Corsair's elite TIE Interceptor pilots. The orders were to eradicate the Naga Sadow clan.
"Master, why specifically that clan?" asked Brimstone.
"Because, your old master, Ashura Isradia, defected to that clan and I don't take defections too lightly" spoke Sith Bloodfyre coldly. "I want him captured at all costs."
"That should be no problem, Master" nodded Brimstone. "I still have a Force connection with him. He abandoned me and I would feel pleasure in capturing him."
Brimstone bowed and left with the 4 other pilots. Before heading to his ship, he briefed the pilots on Master Ashura and what he flies, a modified Porax-38 fighter from Utapua.
"Orders are clear" exclaimed Brimstone. "We are to disable the craft and bring him back to the Corsair for the Tribunal on Treason and Defection."
The 4 other pilots agreed. After a salute, they left Brimstone, who took off to find Master Spears to alert him of his orders. After a while of looking for him, finding him in the Medical Bays tending to some of the wounded, he explained his new orders and handed him the remaining grenades of Bafforr tree pollen to use against other Vong.
Brimstone met up with his fellow wingmen and they all got into their ships. After clearance, the 5 ships take off for the clan Naga Sadow capital ship. After they head towards them, they are met with immediate resistance from the CNS ships. Despite their efforts, Brimstone and the 4 pilots have their way with multiple destruction of their fighters.
Then the prize flew past him. Master Ashura's Porax-38 fighter. The slick black vessel was flying past, opening fire with 6 wingmen of different types. As he turned to attack, a message came over the comm from Master Ashura.
"Brimstone, if you can hear me, do not attempt to engage me, or I will be forced to end your life" demanded the Master.
"Sorry, Master, but I have my orders" calmly spoke Brimstone.
Brimstone cut off the comm quickly. He then banked hard. So hard, his wingmen nearly flew into each other trying to compliment the man oeuvre. He noticed that Ashura's wingmen were attempting to build a defense perimeter around him. 2 concussion missiles later dropped that from six to four. Ashura was able to swing around and took out two of Brimstone's wingmen too.
Seconds later, a third wingman of his was nearly destroyed, but before the total explosion happened, the ship barreled its way into the right-side of Ashura's ship, causing severe damage to his wing and right engine, throwing the ship into a spin out into space.
Brimstone and his remaining lone wingman was able to out-man oeuvre the 4 remaining CNS fighters and destroyed them. Afterwards, he set his eyes on Ashura's remaining engine. After a couple of shots, it was disabled and left drifting into space. He then opened the comm to the Corsair on the emergency frequencies.
"To the Corsair. I have need of a transport with tractor beam capabilities. Respond asap!" spoke Brimstone
"Brimstone, this is Lieutenant Slaxtor. Please send co-ordinates to the location of the ship needing towed. Prepare to provide a defense perimeter to help with the transporting of ship."
"Roger. We will provide support, but do it quickly. Can not lose our prisoner."
"Roger, Brimstone. Over and Out."
Brimstone and his lone wingman flew around the area, keeping at bay other CNS's that tried to provide assistance to their comrade. Despite their efforts, the two kept them at bay. Moments later, the Tarentum shuttle arrived and locked onto the Porax-38 fighter. Brimstone could feel in the Force that his old Master was not too happy. He could tell he was seething to get his hands on his old student.
"Not this time Master" Brimstone thought to himself. "You will pay for abandoning me."
Brimstone and his wingman followed the Shuttle and Porax-38 to the Corsair, where in minutes, it landed in the hanger bay. As Brimstone landed, he noticed there was already a armed security detail there to escort their prisoner. Master Bloodfyre was there also. He walked up to the defector, took away his lightsabre, then backhand him across the face. The prisoner was led away by the security detail to the awaiting detention block.
Brimstone couldn't help to feel something swell up inside as he watched his old master led away. Thinking to himself, hopefully one day, he can find a master who isn't going to abandon him as this Master had.
The battle raged on, and it soon became quite clear that people were taking orders not as they were given, but as they chose to interpret them. And in this situation, with two enemy Clans at the front, and the Vong to the rear, Tarenti could not be taking matters into their own hands. People needed to follow orders, or the Clan would face terrible destruction.
It became clearer with each passing moment that the fate of the entire Brotherhood was resting on the shoulders of the Consul of Tarentum, and likely upon the shoulders of those who held the same position in six other Clans. The Clans would turn on each other time and again because, no matter what, this was certainly no Brotherhood. The cult that the six Clans made up was simply that, a cult, and a grouping of individuals who hated each other as much as they hated everyone else. Their hatred would destroy them if they allowed it, and the Dark Side was not undirected, chaotic anger. It was power and dominance, but sometimes, it also recognized that there was a need for control and direction.
The bridge had been alerted to the prisoner onboard, and though Naga Sadow was not an ally of Tarentum as it once had been, this was not the time for taking prisoners. This was the time to take ascension, even if it meant making concessions to the other Clans to do so. One of the people who recognized this was the Clan's Marshal and military head, Maxamillian von Oberst. When the reports came in, and specifically mentioned who had taken a prisoner, and the actions they had taken, Oberst stormed off the bridge and headed towards the hangar bay.
* * * * *
The Vong onslaught had died down; the enemy invaders were likely still working their way through the Shroud. Now, the fight was between the three Clans of Naga Sadow, Taldryan, and Tarentum, for space superiority over Antei. And the fight had taken a strange turn.
The prisoner being led away was strangely familiar. And then, the Consul of Tarentum recognized who it was.
In the aftermath of the Vong invasion of the Corsair, he recalled a brief conversation with Brimstone. The Chiss had been saying something about his former master, Ashura Isradia, and bringing him in. The Consul had been assaulted with reports of all kinds, and had nodded in passing to the Chiss, assuming that Brimstone had intended to meet with his former mentor, and try to gain support for Tarentum's victory over Antei. Only as he watched Ashura Isradia being led away as a prisoner did the entire conversation fully sink in.
"Stand fast with that prisoner!" Sith shouted to the guards leading him away. The Consul strode over quickly to join the guards, and looked Isradia straight in the eyes. The man who had spent some time in Tarentum in the past looked the Shaevalian directly in the eyes, head held high. "Release him."
No other words were spoken, because none were needed. The guards released Ashura into the custody of the Consul, and at a nod from Bloodfyre, the guards left the hangar bay, their duties fulfilled. Brimstone returned to the hangar bay, followed closely by Oberst, who looked as though he had just punted the young Guardian across the ship.
"Why was this man taken prisoner?" Bloodfyre asked the Chiss.
"You gave me approval to take him prisoner," the Chiss replied.
"What I believed you were saying, and what you chose to do, were apparently not the same thing," the Consul stated. "And to be perfectly honest, Brimstone. A man of your career and intelligence that you are so fond of reminding us of should realize, there are times when certain compromises must be made. One of them is not seeking to take specific prisoners at the risk of five ships and personnel, when we are in the middle of an engagement!"
"Perhaps a stay on kitchen detail would help you to understand your place in this Clan, Chiss," Oberst said flatly. "You have potential and are a valued member of the Clan, but that does not mean that you have free reign of this Clan's resources. And for your awareness, Brimstone, I am the military commander of this Clan, and no missions are valid and to be undertaken without my approval."
"The Marshal is correct, Guardian," Bloodfyre nodded. "I give him leave to conduct military matters during times of war, and he will be the one to seek out approval from me for future captures, not you."
The discussion continued for several minutes, which ended up being more of a one-sided discussion, with the Consul and Marshal reminding the Guardian of his duties and responsibilities which, above all else, meant thinking of Tarentum before himself. There was a lot more here at stake than the Chiss seemed to recognize.
The discussion likely would've continued further, except for the alarms that rang out, and called members to their stations. Sith turned to Ashura, expressed some diplomatic words of regret for the misunderstanding, and then assigned Brimstone detail to escort Isradia away from Tarentum's vessels and back to his own. The Consul then turned from the hangar bay and left to return to the bridge. And the battle continued on.
The automated distress beacon was exactly that, an automatic message sent out on private Tarentum frequecies at the same interval over and over again. There was nothing to the message but the standard order to return and report in to the clan immediately. Nothing was said about the surprise that was about to come to the pilot who's been asleep for the past few hours as his starfighter shoots through hyperspace.
Having been on extended leave since rejoining the Brotherhood months before hand, Archpriest Apollo streached and yawned as the counter slowly ticked away toward zero. Fuzzy dice secured (never know when they would swing into your line of sight in a fight) Apollo pulled back on his hyperspace lever a few seconds early. Thank the Force he did.
In front of him was as large a battle that his own eye's had not seen in may a year. Ships of an as yet un recognizable foe was attacking and really, defeating, his new home and friends.
"Oh Snap!" he yelled as he straightened up in his seat and hit the auto-adjust on his crash webbing.
Opening himself up to the Force, something he's not done since rejoining the Brotherhood, he could feel the death of many men and women from all races. He quickly brought up his tactical map to see where he was needed.
While some clans seemed to be in far worse shape than others, it was with no small ammount of relief that when his eyes fell upon the Corsair he let a bit of a smile creep across his face. It was still in one peice, though under attack. So it was still in one peice at the moment.
"Good enough for me." he said to himself. He flipped on his comm to open a channel.
"Corsair, this is Archpriest Apollo reporting in. I'll start with popping the rather large gross pimples you have on your hull then work my way inside. Call if you need me."
As the acknowledge came from the rather frazzled comm officer, Apollo was already on his first small and highly manuverable peice of metor within seconds. His lasers being swallowed into nothingness with apparent ease. His prey manuvering side to side, up and down. Leaving what shots that actually got past the black hole-thingy sucking space.
"That little sob..." he muttered to himself. Kicking in his auxillary generator, the lasers in his solar panels began to fire at a much faster rate. With a little sideslip to the right he fired slightly off target, hopeing to draw the black hole-thingy away from his real objective. As the meteor's (for current lack of a better term) defense slid off to the right he quickly fired two full powered bolts at where the craft would be in a seconds' time then began to pour on the energy on the craft's right side once more. The two bolts of energy hit directly in the middle forward section of the craft and with a satisfying crack the craft broke into two sections with the pilot caught in the middle. Ripped apart with a sudden explosion, the meteor ceased to exsist.
Preforming a standard Split-S with a 30 degree roll to port Apollo was certain his tail was clear. He targeted one of the asteroid-sized peices of rock attached to the Corsair and contined to employ his new found stratagy with surprising results all the while rather surprised that yes, their defenses really seemed to be black holes. Rather oblivious to anything not directly affecting him or his friends, he continued to work.
Anger. Hatred. Frustration.
These are what Brimstone would be showing if it wasn't for the level-headedness the Chiss are well known for. If it wasn't for the solid red eyes he also is born with, the dark side would be consuming him right now as he would have been seen seething after the tongue-lashing he just received from the Field Marshal and the Consul.
He did ask for orders, but apparently when he was told to follow through his suggestions, aparently, it wasn't what they thought. And now after performing briliantly by his standards in the capture of the prisoner, he is berated by his leaders for taking action in his own hands.
So he lost 4 of the five ships. That meant nothing to him when they performed briliantly, taking out numerous fighters on their way to capture their prize of the prisoner. 4 ships compare to 20+ enemy clan ships seems like a fair trade.
But were the leaders pleased with his results? No! In fact, they were furious at the Chiss for taking it upon himself.
Brimstone was new to the ways of the clan, but despite his efforts and his pleas to find out this so-called chain of command as well as military plans, he was forced to go with the one thing he found out, who was the one everyone really looked to for inspiration and leadership. The was Consul Bloodfyre. Hence the reason why he went to him with the suggestion of something to do.
Now his prisoner, the prize Ashura Isriada, stood before him smiling. The hatred swelling within Brimstone was almost to the point of lashing out against the freed prisoner, and despite knowing that the leaders would act swiftly on his punishment, was the only thing keeping him from killing the prisoner by jettesing him from the shuttle that he was using to transport him back to his freedom.
"I sense much anger and hatred in you" spoke Ashura. "You will be a very powerful Sith one day, just like I felt within you when I first took you as my apprentice."
The guardian refused to acknowledge him. Just staring straight ahead as they near the CNS main ship. They landed quickly and Brimstone released the landing ramp to allow the ex-prisoner off the ship.
"By the way, Brimstone, you owe me a new ship" said Ashura as he proceeded to walk off.
"Be grateful I didn't just kill you in space which is what I wanted to do" Brimstone said coldly.
"Be wary of......."
Brimstone didn't give him a chance to speak as he slammed the door shut and retracted the landing ramp. Climbing back into the pilots seat, he headed out and flew back to the Corsair.
Once back, despite alot of man euovers from avoiding getting killed in the piece of junk, Brimstone landed safely and walked off the landing ramp. In front of him was a guard detail waiting for him. Apparently, the Field Marshal wanted to make sure he made it to the kitchen to start the punishment.
Two of the guards were snickering at his predictament. This just set him off past the boiling point. He turned around and Force choked both dead in their tracks, crushing their windpipes and after they dropped to the ground, Brimstone pulled out his charric blaster and shot them through the heads for good measures.
He looked at the other 4 guards. Stairing at them as if begging for them to even say one word or make a noise that even sounded like humor or laughter. The four guards said nothing but followed Brimstone to the kitchen gallery.
Brimstone knew his time was going to be long in this new military, but he also knew he would eventually lead them to greatness, or die doing so.
“Got yourself in a bit of trouble have you?” Telona’s voice echoed as she appeared around a doorway.
Brimstone turned his angry glare over to her. The living guards quickly looked to the Elder as a smile drew itself upon her lips. She nodded to them and silently they knew they were dismissed. They quickly backed away but not out of sight. They didn’t want to disobey their Field Marshal and at the same time they didn’t want to disobey the woman.
“It’s not your concern.” Brimstone growled.
“Oh but it is. Not only do you represent Gladius but you also represent the Keepers. I allowed your actions in the MedBay but I’m curious as to what you’ve done now.”
“Why don’t you ask Oberst then?”
Telona chuckled. “No fun in that. Besides, he’s busy making war with other Clans over Antei and for the moment I am free from healing the ones who come back alive.”
Brimstone hesitated to tell her what had transpired. In his hesitation, the Adept swam into his mind to get the information she desired. It was a lot more fun to rifle through another’s mind, or it was to her at least. The Guardian felt the woman crawling under his skull but as he moved towards her to stop it she pulled away. She was satisfied with the amount of information she had gathered.
“Kitchen duty. A light sentence. I’ll take you there.” Telona said with amusement.
The Chiss grumbled as he began briskly walking down the hallways behind his Tetrarch. The other guards followed behind him nervously but with a small amount of confidence that the woman in front would keep the angry male in check. She decided it best to keep his attention ahead by giving him a small, slow lecture. Sure he had already heard one but she enjoyed correcting Journeymen.
“Your first mistake was bothering Sith while he was busy concentrating on the tasks that lay before him. Something I would have thought one who had been part of another military would understand. The warriors never bother their general while battle rages on. They await their orders while defending their base. They most certainly never abandon their fellow warriors to pursue an old grudge. You allow your anger to control you too much.”
“I didn’t see you out there 'defending the base'.” Brimstone shot back.
“No but you did see many of those I healed out there fighting. Had I not done what I did there would have been fewer pilots and fewer defendants. There would have been more bodies to raise too. Those you thought were as good as dead and so callously put down could be out there now taking shots at Taldryan. You allowed your limited view of the Force to control your actions then. Where you saw me being so gentle to the dying you did not realize that I was preparing their soul to return to this Clan.”
“What? You claim to study the path of the Death Dealers.”
“Yes but even one who had not chosen a path can prepare a soul to return. Give them the last memory of a gentle healer and they will more willingly return than if you give them the last memory of a fellow Clan member sucking their life away. That is especially true for those who have no real talent with the Force. But enough of such things. You will learn in due time if you allow yourself to learn. For now though, the kitchen staff is looking forward to having your help. I don’t want to learn of you killing anyone down here. They are as important as the warrior. When you have served your time here I would like to hear why the kitchen staff is as important as any warrior.”
Telona turned around and eyed the male Chiss. “Don’t allow your arrogance to steer you away from listening all I had to say and don’t find yourself failing me. You won’t want me discovering how tasty Chiss are.”
The Adept brushed past Brimstone and took the guards with her down the hallway. She had a hunch to head to medical and left him standing in front of the entrance to the mess hall.
Ships surrounded the space in orbit over Antei. Taldryan, Naga Sadow and Tarentum ships took shots at each other, and as Plagueis came in, followed closely by the ships of the Yuuzhan Vong, the Brotherhood ships took turns at each other, and at the strange ships of the alien intruders. The soon-to-be-called “Battle of Antei” had transpired not for dominance, but for hatred, revenge, and destruction.
Until the hail came from the Grand Master on Antei.
“Priority transmission from Antei, bearing the authentication code of the Lord of Antei,” the officer shouted out to the bridge, using another title given to Sarin, Grand Master of the Brotherhood.
The Shaevalian Consul of Tarentum strode quickly over to the communications console, followed closely by Korras. The two members of the Clan’s ruling body read through the communiqué from Sarin silently. It seemed as though the Brotherhood was now finally admitting defeat, and ordering a full retreat from Antei, something that most of the Elders of Tarentum had wanted to do for some time now.
“He’s lying,” a simple statement from Korras. “I don’t think it’s Sarin. We cannot take this as truth.”
“Are you so sure,” Bloodfyre asked, turning his head slightly to his Proconsul. “Naga Sadow and Taldryan accept it as fact. They have stopped attacking our own ships, and each other. They now focus on the Vong exclusively in order to retreat.”
“Whether they believe it as truth, affects us little, my friend,” Korras responded. “The question is, do we accept it as fact and retreat?”
“Korras, if someone is exercising the ‘Baraata Option’ as this suggests,” Bloodfyre turned fully to the Adept, “I am willing to believe it, if only for our own safety. The retreat from Antei is only one part of this doomsday scenario. Sarin plans to sacrifice his own ships to hurt the enemy to cover our escape. I would surmise that the Autarch is likely to blow up within the next few minutes. And whether fact or fiction, I would prefer not to be here waiting to find out.”
“Oberst, order a full retreat, if you please,” Korras called out, striding over to the Clan’s Marshal quickly. “I want all of Tarentum’s forces out of here as quickly as possible. Order every ship away from the Autarch and all DC ships as soon as possible. The Autarch is about to be destroyed in sacrifice, apparently.”
* * * * *
Telona headed past Brimstone on the way to the medical bay. Brimstone had an idea of where she was headed, but couldn’t quite understand why she’d head there. She had made mention of going back to recall the dead to the Clan’s aid, but the powers of the Adept were still quite the mystery to the Chiss Guardian. With a sigh of resignation, Brimstone entered the rather large kitchen of the Clan’s flagship, and reported to the mess officer as ordered to begin whatever duties the woman would assign to him. Brimstone certainly wouldn’t like what he was doing, but he would do it. And, until ordered to report once more to a fighter, or help defend the Clan, he would remain here.
The Chiss warrior couldn’t realize how quickly he would be relieved of these duties.
* * * * *
Melkor sat onboard his ship, the Gunship Stygian, and listen as his communications offer just informed him that the Marshal of Tarentum was now ordering a full retreat from the system. All ships of Tarentum were to head out of the system in a coordinated effort, to remain in defense of the Clan’s entire fleet, but still get out as quickly as possible.
“Very well,” Melkor nodded. “We will do as instructed. Helm, lay in an escape course as directed by the Corsair. Engage to destination once coordinates are given.”
* * * * *
Deatharoc, Balnazaar, Korvyn, and so many of the other young Journeymen of Tarentum had battled bravely, and their actions would certainly be commended. As the last of the Vong were repelled from around Tarentum’s ships, the warriors and military of Tarentum were told to remain at alert, but to prepare for retreat. The young Dark Siders of the Clan did what they could to assist the wounded to either reached the medical bay, or called over medics to aid them. Once all had been cared for, each of the Journeymen warriors of Tarentum headed to their assigned stations. There was still much to be done in order to reach Yridia.
After a few moments, the orders came over all comlinks that Journeymen of Tarentum were to get to their fighters as quickly as possible. Anyone who had an assigned ship was to get to it, and fly escort during the retreat. The fleet of Tarentum was on its way home, but the Vong were not defeated. Though the Brotherhood was giving up Antei to them, it would certainly take a lot more than retreat to end the assault of the Vong.
Little did the Vong know, however, that they would soon be taking on a last insult from the Grand Master.
* * * * *
MERLANCE shooks his head slightly as the Clan now headed into retreat away from Antei. Perfect time to take a vacation, the Battlemaster thought, and they had to decline my request. Ah well. As soon as we reach Antei, perhaps I will request to paint my quarters pink, and have naked paintings of my former master brought in to adorn my quarters.
The crew of the Anubis was quite used to their commanding officer lapsing into long moments of internal monologue. As MERLANCE drifted away into his thoughts, the fleet of Tarentum moved away, and was now quite out of range of the final flight of the Autarch, and the devastation it inflicted upon the Vong command ship. Even out of range, though, the ships of Tarentum were all intimately aware of what was happening on their displays, and the shock of losing the Brotherhood’s flagship shook even MERLANCE out of his reverie.
* * * * *
“The Autarch has been destroyed.”
The words rang out across the bridge, even over the clamor of the other orders and responses being given from each detail. The Consul nodded slightly, the only sign of recognition that the Brotherhood had lost its flagship. In reality, the loss of the Autarch meant very little to the Clan. But, as Master Spears was the chief architect on the ship, it was still worthy of note in passing.
Sith Bloodfyre tread slowly throughout the floor of the bridge, lost in his own thoughts. Master Zero and his command staff continued to direct the retreat of the Corsair, with the rest of the Clan’s fleet following closely behind.
Well, most of the fleet, Sith suddenly thought to himself.
The Acheron had been a casualty of the Battle of Antei. The Belarus-class Cruiser had been destroyed, and Sith would still seek out answers as to the reason for its destruction. So many things had seemingly happened at once, that the Consul had not yet had time to look into is destruction. Members of Tarentum and its military had been onboard that ship, and their deaths would not go without inquiry, its loss not easily accepted.
The Sith Master continued to pace, lost in his own thoughts, and in short moments, the Consul had actually wandered off of the bridge, towards an as of yet unknown location on his flagship…
Deatharoc returned to his B-Wing fighter. As he began to activate his ship, a monotonic voice cleared Deatharoc for launch saying,
"Guardian Deatharoc, you have been cleared for take off. Report to escort the Corsair."
Many other ships in the hangar also began to take off and they all began escorting the Corsair and several other of Tarentum's ships in their retreat. Deatharoc disdained running away from the Yuuzhan Vong but he knew that it was the best thing to do. The Guardian had some difficulty piloting due to the injuries he had sustained fighting against the Vong but he could fly well enough to escort the Corsair in its retreat.
There had been much speculation as to where the fleet was retreating to between the Journeymen flying. Deatharoc had heard some people say that they were retreating to the Unkown Regions while others said that they were retreating to some part of the Galaxy untouched by the Republic or Vong. There were even some rumors of the Brotherhood attempting to make an Alliance with the Imperial Forces or the Republic, though Deatharoc highly doubted that. The Guardian quite frankly didn't care where the fleet was retreating as he would follow Tarentum anywhere. His loyalty to the Clan would undoubtably keep him following them no matter what. All that remained to be seen now was where the Clan was going to.
The room was awkwardly quite amidst the chaos that rampaged unchecked among the rest of the complex. Only the low hum of a few appliances and the slow, steady, relaxed breathing of a young Novice sitting crossed legged on the floor could be heard in the darkened room. The room itself was unimpressive, a simple yet mildly comfortable design, for the most part all that was there were a few chairs, a table, a simple desk, and a small one person bed. A common arrangement for students of the Shadow Academy, as there was no sense to give a lot of extras to people who were committed to their studies and for the most part not staying here long before moving onto one of the brotherhood’s clans; that’s if they did move on.
The man that sat on the floor were one of the few that made it quickly through the trails for new recruits and had shown great potential; even creating enough merit to earn himself membership to Clan Tarentum. However due to the ceremonies taking place amongst the clans his transferred had been delayed till after the ceremonies had finished and an envoy could properly welcome him into his new home without unnecessary interruptions. Unfortunately that plan had disintegrated the moment the ceremonies were attacked by the alien Vong, and now the Novice waited for news among the rest of the students on the progression of the war. Or had been waiting up to a half hour ago, when news of the brotherhood’s defeat at Antei had reached them and the Headmaster had ordered the evacuation of the Academy.
Now Novice Raiju sat for the last time in the place he had called home till now, with bags packed and prayers spoken, meditating as he waited for news of an escape. The evacutation may have gone slowly in another time, but news of short space amidst fleeing ships had caused an uproar as staff tried loading materials and students ran for safety and a ride. Raiju had little cares for escape and even littler cares for the Academy materials, all he wanted was to make it to his new home and sat here searching for an answer to get there. The clans had been asked to help the Shadow Academy evacuate from the system but with each clan having received great losses during the battles, it seemed unlikely they would respond to the call. That only left they current Tarenti on the moon as an available option to Raiju, but how?
Almost as soon as the question was asked, his answer was given. The silence in his room was shattered by the loud knock at the door to his quarters. Before a greeting of any sort could be given, a large but muscular man entered. Though Raiju was of average height, he always felt like a mouse beside this man. His name was Azkan, a fellow former Initiate of the Shadow Academy and fellow Tarenti awaiting transfer. The two had met amidst the trials of the Academy and formed a great bond; and now that bond seemed worth it as even as the fear of the Vong set into them all Azkan rised time to find the meditating Obelisk.
“Raiju, I’ve-” Azkan started as he entered immediately as the door opened but paused at the sight of Raiju crossed legged on the floor. “By the gods, why do you sit there and waste time? There is a fine line between courage and stupidity, you know.”
“As there is in wasting time running around like a blind mynock instead of asking the force for answers.”
“The force doesn’t find you ships, Raiju.” Azkan snapped quickly, showing his impatience.
“Doesn’t it, my friend? Then why else are you here?” Raiju smiled as he rose from his spot on the floor and picked up his bag, throwing it over his shoulder. The frustration in Azkan’s face was priceless, but he knew he had lost. Azkan was never one for philosophy and theology, just perfection of combat but that was why they balanced each other so well - as each learned something new daily from the other and always had another angle to view from.
“One of the staff members here is also Tarenti, he’s arranged a shuttle to take him and other Tarenti to the Corsair before it leaves the system in exchange for taking some of the Academy’s materials with him to the safety of the Tarentum homeworld. We have two spots on that shuttle, but we must hurry. He is leaving once loaded, with or without us.”
“Then lead the way my friend.” Were the only words Raiju spoke as the two turned towards the exit and made their way into the chaos in the halls.
Space battles are strange. They rage in space akin to their cousins on land; and yet, all those lights and sounds and the rage and fear of them never translate into sound. The lasers shot from the sides of these great warships illuminate them according to their nature, the hulls gleaming with the color of the weapon-bolt. Yet, when it does reach the target, when it does puncture the hull, when it does rip off life from the men and women trapped at that moment, all that prevails is silence.
A silence that gives not a voice to its surroundings. A silence that is more of a scream tearing through an abyssal cemetery, waking its late inhabitants in an outburst of fury and desolation.
The Autarch’s destruction after the retreat of the Clans seemed to have deafened any onlooker’s senses, not just his ears, because the silence that prevailed in the Antei system was analogous to that silence.
The Tarenti aboard Shadow Academy shuttle which docked with the Corsair looked dazed. So much had happened in so little a time.
A few personnel removed the Academy’s supplies. Invaluable items. Most probably, they will be subject by the Clan members to something profitable.
The Corsair and her escorts floated through the Shroud with impeccable majesty. The Kraken Battlegroup, along with the Creeping Death was being directed on a course by the Tarentum Flagship. Yet the static monologues of conversation could not hide the fact that the Dark Jedi in the formation held their tongues and kept their anger in check. This was a defeat of the Brotherhood too – that somewhat mellowed their passion.
“How long before we hyperspace out, Corsair?” The Communications’ Officer aboard the Marauder Corvette hailed the Star Destroyer.
The Corsair was waiting for a few more of those who belonged to her Clan.
“Sir, we shall be hyper-spacing out in a few more moments.” The Comm. Officer spoke out to the captain of the Corvette.
‘The sword goes back to its sheath eh?’ Kazarelth mused.
“Of course. Inform the personnel monitoring the… medical bay about this, Officer.” The Jedi Hunter humored the human darkly; the ship did not have a medical bay per se.
The officer nodded curtly and went about his work.
‘What has come of this, hmm?’ Kazarelth found himself immersed in his own thoughts again.
As the order to withdraw came over the holonet Melkor winced with the thought of running, but knew that it was what had to be done. The knight and captain turned back around to face the command crew and said, “Put us between the Corsair and the Vong fleet hold the frontline till she can jump, and begin our own calculation for hyperspace jump as well!” The Stygian, Creeping Death and Havoc both held the line as the fighters and support ships finished regrouping to their vessels to be locked down for the jump. The DP-20’s turbo lasers still glowed like orbs in the cold black of space helping slice though although. It was is as if the Vong was allowing the brotherhood vessel to jump off the resistance was down to only Coral Skippers and the occasional barrage of plasma fire from the rest of the vong battle group that was settled off a few hundred thousand kilometers off.
With the fighters and other ships returning to the hangers of the Corsair the escort ships showed exactly what their purpose was as the concussion missiles of all three ships left Coral Skippers in flaming trails of debris. As the Tarentum vessels broke formation jumping of one by one starting with the Corsair as the last squadron of her fighter armament returned, and the Anubis followed right after leaving .Finally Melkor gave off a sigh of relief as the Stygian jumped off the stars streaking off into brilliant lines was a welcome sight after the horrors of the combat that his brethren and he had endured.
"Amusing" thought Brimstone.
He sat at the nearest table, drinking what some call a herbal tea. He was not doing kitchen duty at all. Instead, he had made subtle suggestions to the weak-minded kitchen staff and they performed all the tasks that they had hoped he was going to be stuck with.
The Corsair left the Antei space due to evacuation orders. Most of the pilots were flying escort duties. He would not be one of them. That gave hime time to relieve his frustrations by mind controlling the peons in the kitchens.
He would just wave his hand and seconds later, a new cup of tea was there for him to drink. It wasn't Chiss ale, but it was the only thing closly resembling the bitter taste of it.
Brimstone smiled. "I should have been doing this instead of wsting my time with the vong."
He took another sip and made a suggestion that a desert would be nice for this. The kitchen help ran off to bring him a cake of some sorts back.
"It is good to be in control."
As this TIE Defender touched down onto the battle-scared shuttle bay, Apollo's first reaction was to streach after the long fight. His mind stranded somewhere between anger and a daze, thinking of what happened to the Brotherhood minutes before, he popped the hatch to his fighter and climbed out. He sat perched upon his ship and surveyed the damages around him. The smell of burnt flesh and death still lay heavy in the air. As he looked around, he could see a few wounded fighter pilots struggling to climb out of thier battered ships.
Apollo jumped down and walked steadily over to the closest pilot, a Guardian, and guaged his injuries.
"Seems like someone needs to learn the art of "evasive flying". Don't they?" Apollo joked looking down at his wounded Clansman. With a painful groan echoing through the man's chest, Apollo reached down and picked him up. Craddling the man, he walked with a bit of quickness towards the Med Bay. On the way out, gesturing to the guards to help the other pilots as well.
Pain and death were all around him as he stepped through the doors. But there was also something else, something others might not see.. Hope. As he set the wounded pilot down on a bed and gestured a med droid to see to him he scaned the room around him. He could see young men and women tending to their commrades, assisting in restoring life in their friends and fellow Clansman. The chaos that was the med bay also shown that in this Brotherhood filled with fueds and indiscriminant death was this second exsistance. One of friendship and kindness. One of passion for their Clan and hope for thier future. One with loyalty and respect for one another. This is the brotherhood no one speaks of, nor really see. It's just another part of life to those around him. But for Apollo, this is something he'll never take for granted again.
Finally, his gaze fell on a beautiful woman caring to the sick and dying. Her face and presence had been a constant companion for close to a decade. Sensing a familiar presence in the Force, Telona's gaze lifted and she smiled at her old friend. Apollo returned the smile and nodded. Her face fell back to the young female gunner in pain. Apollo turned and made his way to the turbolift. He knew they would meet up once everything had calmed down a bit.
As he stepped out onto the bridge and gazed at the familiar crew pits he chuckled to himself. It's been too long since he's been on the bridge of a star destroyer, way too long. He did a quick scan and found another old friend, Sith. Apollo quietly approached him and gave his usual quirky smile as a hello. "So, whats new gents?"
"Control, this is Tie Defender Null requesting clearance to land."
Daryus tensed a little at the sight of the battle raging around him. Though he longed for the heat of battle, he knew that he must heed his Master's call and return to him first. Daryus had felt his masters call to return to him while he was off completing research into archaic Sith lore. Unfortunately he was now where close to his master's location, and the return trip took 8 days. But none of that mattered. He was here now, and would fulfill his duty.
"Tie Defender Null, state your name, rank and a good reason for not participating in the skermish around us, or risk being fired upon."
Daryus bristled at the admonision, and was sorely tempted to reach through space and prevent the controller from speaking another word again....ever. He did, however, speak with malice in his voice "Control, this is Dark Jedi Knight Daryus Zalyn'Cya-Bloodfyre, and I am here at my Masters -orders. Sith Master Sith Bloodfyre-Tarentae answers to very few beings, and you are not one of them.
"Y-y-ess Sir, I apologize. Please follow the landing beacon, and I will alert Master Bloodfyre emmediately."
Daryus looked down to his panel, saw the beacon locator, and altered course .
Master Bloodfyre was standing alone in the main bridge when he felt a presence that he had not sensed in such a long time. Sith briefly smiled to himself before turning to great his long lost apprentice.
Daryus stepped onto the bridge, and walked over to the Sith Master and bowed before him. The master let him linger for a moment. "Rise, my honorific and face me"
Daryus rose and stepped to his master, who briefly shook his outstretched hand before clasping his hands behind his back.
"My master, as instructed, I have completed my study of Sith lore and understand what my future role is to be within Tarentum. I shall renew my oath to you and take on an apprentice, and help maintain our strength and wisdom."
"Very well Daryus. But do not fail me or sway from the path again, for I shall not be nearly as forgiven as before."
"I understand my master, and I obey"
Still sitting in the kitchen watching the peon workers bust their asses at his "suggestions" was getting tiresome. Brimstone knew that if the higher-ups saw this, he would probably be cleaning the pet cages.
He was bored. So far in this war, he has done what he was asked and even went beyond his tasks too, but only to be reprimanded to mediocre activities.
"This was not the way of the Sith" Brimstone thought to himself.
He needed something to do. He took note that the grandmaster blew up a doomsday device as it was a last resort to the Vong. Was this guild really that far behind in military tactics that they have to succumb to giving up and blowing up themselves, than stand and fight, perhaps to the death. That was a more honorable means of war than to run like a tauntaun with its tails between its legs.
Brimstone was bored. He got up and decided to leave. As he walked out the door, the guards that brought him there proceeded to block his way.
"Sir, you must remain till the Field Marshall's orders are filled."
"Get out of my way or do I have to show you what pain really is like."
They pointed their rifles at Brimstone. "Sir we have our orders to not let you leave."
With a slight flick of a wrist, the 4 guards blasters were removed effortlessly from their grasps. Another motion and they were hurled up against the back wall of the corridor, unconscience from the hard hit.
"Pitiful humans. They know nothing of the Force or what even a inept weilder as myself can do with it" thought Brimstone as he left the kitchens in search of the higher-ups location.
He left quietly and proceeded to walk past the med bays. He glanced inside to see who was there. The familiar face of Telona was seen. Hoping she didn't see him, he walked past towards a turbolift that will take him to the leaders.
All he wants is a job. A legit job in this war instead of just having to rely upon his on intuitions.
He waited for the turbolift to arrive.
Telona was taking care of the injured when she felt Brimstone's presence walk past the doorway. After summoning a medic to take care of the person she was helping, she got up and left. She looked out the hallway and headed out the rightside of the door.
As she rounded the corner, she saw Brimstone standing there in parade-rest, waiting for the turbolift.
She stood up behind him, standing quietly to see what move he would make.
"I can tell you are behind me, Mistress Telona" said Brimstone in a low voice. "Are you going to punish me for violating the Field Marshall's orders?"
"No, we are going to take a walk to where he is at. You need to learn patience and I am sure he will be upset at you for ignoring his orders again."
"I am not ignoring his orders" said Brimstone as he turned towards her while pressing the turbolifts button again. "He told me to go do detail in the kitchen. He did not say what specific detail or how long I am to be subjected to mediocre tasks."
"You will learn one day to control your anger, Guardian" she replied sharply. "While it will work in the future to lash it out on your enemies, it will do you no good here."
The turbolift doors opened up and both of them stepped in. Telona pressed a button, knowing it wouldn't lead to the leaders battle room. Shortly the doors opened up. Brimstone didn't recognize the area.
"I think this is the wrong floor" he said.
"It is. You and I are going to the meditation rooms to talk about what is bothering you and why you won't listen to anyone who tells you what to do" she said softly.
"I don't need meditation, I need...."
Telona glared at him sharply and it cut him off in mid-sentence. They both walked down the hallway and entered a dimly-lit room. As soon as they entered, the lights brightened and there was in the middle, multiple floor mats that the students would use to sit and meditate. Telona sat in a cross-legged position and motioned for Brimstone to do likewise, across from her.
They both sat and stared at each other for a brief moment before closing their eyes. The meditation began......
The deck below him hummed ever so slightly with the vibrations of the powerful engines below. Even the bridge, far above, was not immune from it's effects. Apollo stood gazing out the bridge viewport slightly to port. His gaze had fallen on a peice of the hull that had apparently suffered quite a few hits from the enemy's turbolaser-sized weapons, whatever they were. The damage was slowly being repaired by the around the clock work of the valliant crew. Most never feeling the power of the Force. Just normal humans with a few other species thrown into the mix. Thier loyalty was tested this day, both from without and within. Rumors of young dark jedi running around killing some of their friends just to please thier own self-worship were running like wildfire. Talk of resigning were heard here and there, but they had so far stood their ground. Even so, they were still risking thier precious lives to keep this ship, and even the members of Tarentum, alive.
"What are you thinking about?" asked Trouttrooper beside him. Apollo had not even feel the Mon Cal stroll up. He couldnt help but give a small smile.
"Just about everything I guess." Apollo said nodding to the damage. "We were lucky this day."
"You don't know the half of it." Sith said stepping up to Apollo's left. "We're not even 100% sure if all the clans even survived, let alone how relatively little damage we have taken in comparison." There was a slight gaze upon the Consul that only those who have led men and women into battle could recognize. The gaze that often comes after a fight. After the lives had been lost, but before the letters home would beguin. The gaze of regret is not something one forgets. Sith will come to second-guess himself and his decisions during the next few days. But even after all of that, Apollo knew he probably will come to the same conclusion as the rest of them had. He had made the rigth decisions after all.
"Well, can't say I'm terribly upset over that." Trout said while giving a common Mon Cal grin. This lightened the heavy mood in the air. Sith gave a much needed smile of his own and nodded. "Yeah, too bad, huh?"
The three men had a small chuckle to themselves before Sith looked at the two in kind.
"This war is far from over. We are starting to peice together intelligence reports from as many sources as we can find. The enemy force that hit us might not be as big as we feared, but it's still very powerful."
So there might be a chance after all? Apollo said to himself. "Hit and run or divide and conquer." Trout said. "We keep chewing on them till there's nothing left over time. Or make them split their forces and engage a smaller peice one after another. Unless there's something I'm not seeing." he added.
Sith nodded, then added, "Either way, I need to get moving on this. See you around gentlemen, and fish." With that, Sith retreated with the other leaders of the clan to make a fast decision on what to do.
Apollo looked back out the viewport, then grinned like he hasn't in years.
With that, the two old friends made thier way to the turbolift and then to an old bottle of Corellian Ale that Trouttrooper had been holding on to. The two will be a long time helping to "brain storm" for Tarentum.
The end of an era.
That is what this war would be called. It would be the end of an age when the Dark Council thought itself unquestioned in its superiority. It would be the end of an age when the Clans saw themselves as the mightiest of all, and only fought among themselves for dominance at the Final Night. It would even be the end of the ideal of the Final Night, when the Brotherhood would conquer all. There would still be some who would seek this apocryphal end of days, when the Brotherhood would rule uncontested, but most people would realize that, if this dream would ever come about, it would likely be long after their natural lives had ended. They would only see this Final Night in their dreams of Oblivion.
Tarentum licked its proverbial wounds as it sped home to the Yridia system. Most of the other Clans had taken some hard hits from the Vong. Until the end, Tarentum had been able to avoid any real damage from the invading Vong. The destruction of the Acheron had been a blow that left most of Tarentum realizing how much the Vong had terrorized the Brotherhood. And yet, even with the loss of the Acheron and those on board, Tarentum had still fared much, much better than the rest. Taldryan had been hit hard, especially in the initial assault by the Vong.
The Corsair and the rest of Tarentum’s ships following would reach Yridia in about an hour. As soon as they entered the system, Tarentum’s ships would likely be met by the rest of the Clan’s fleet and re-supplied quickly to prepare for another assault. It was unlikely that the Vong would come to Yridia. In the time since Tarentum’s ships had left Antei, there had been no sign of the invaders, and everyone expected that the Vong were probably licking their own wounds, taken from the destruction of the Autarch, and perhaps the Vong were also taking over Antei as an occupied world. In any event, Yridia was likely to be one of the safest strongholds in any of the Clans. Tarentum would be kept safe, and prepared for any further intrusion.
* * * * *
Brimstone meditated with Telona. The Chiss still had much to learn, and Telona’s words were perhaps more relevant to the Chiss than he might be willing to accept. Brimstone seemed to believe that the way of the Sith was anger, and perpetual fights to prove one’s dominance. He also seemed to believe that no sacrifice was too great, if one’s personal goals were accomplished. That was not the way of the Sith. That was the way of greed.
As it stood now, Brimstone had no authority over anyone in Tarentum, military or Dark Sider. And until he learned his lessons, he never would. In every meeting and confrontation with him, the Elders of the Clan attempted to open Brimstone’s eyes to his true power, and to his true purpose. But the Chiss seemed to willing to hold onto what he had wanted among his own kind, and unwilling to realize that he was no longer a Chiss. Instead, he was now a Guardian of Tarentum, a supplicant of the Dark Side of the Force, and a being of power who merely looked like a Chiss. There was a huge difference, and Brimstone needed to see that his former life was gone, and his former self was dead. Meditating with Telona would be a good exercise. There was desire in the Chiss, there was an anger and a willingness to destroy, but it was mad and chaotic. Anger can even destroy one’s own power when it is left without purpose and direction.
Master Spears found his way to the meditation chamber that Telona and his seemingly wayward student now occupied. Spears found himself debating on whether to destroy the Chiss Guardian, banishing him from Tarentum, or allowing his studies to continue. Brimstone would be a handful, that was for certain. He was arrogant, prideful, and uncaring about the welfare of Tarentum. And yet, there was a satisfaction about the Chiss that said he was honored to be a part of the dark Clan of the Brotherhood, and that he looked forward to the days when he, Brimstone, would raise Tarentum’s banner as his own and help lead forth the armies of the Clan into victory. Brimstone had high hopes, and though he had much to learn, they were lessons he could certainly take to heart.
“I sense you, my Master,” Brimstone said softly. “You have come to decide my fate. I accept your judgment. But know this, death is not a sentence that you will carry out upon me easily.”
Spears stood and stared at Brimstone, who kept his eyes shut. Telona made no moves or words, even though she was acutely aware of the situation. This was between Spears and Brimstone, and her place was to watch over the both of them, and allow whatever they chose to happen – within reason. Spears maintained his position, and folded his arms across his chest.
“Your death would be an easy feat to accomplish, Guardian,” Spears responded, “but it is a fate I am not interested in forcing on you. You have great potential, my very young apprentice. We will break you of your ways, and build you up according to our ways. You style yourself a Sith, but you have not learned to divest yourself of your former self. That will change with time. For now, continue your meditations with Telona. She is a powerful woman, and has much to show you about being a true being of the Dark Side.”
Spears turned to leave, and though Brimstone was about to say something, it seemed that Telona was in his thoughts telling him to remain silent, and contemplate the words that Spears had spoken. Spears was telling him more than his words had said. Brimstone still had a lot to learn about his Masters. All of them.
“Oh,” Spears had one more thought. “Next time you are assigned duties by the Marshal of Tarentum, I suggest you follow through as instructed. We do not take lightly when our personnel’s minds and actions are tampered with. And neither do they. They are not our pawns, they are our allies and brothers. And we do not toy with the minds of our own. Do so again, and you will suffer.”
* * * * *
Troutrooper and Apollo sat alone, drinking the Corellian Ale both had agreed to in order to toast their fallen comrades, the successes of themselves and their Clan, and to relive old times. Neither seemed more interested in anything other than how empty the other’s glass must have been in relation to their own.
Unfortunately for Apollo, the old saying about one being able to “drink like a fish” had reason behind it. Some several hours after they had begun drinking, and shortly before arriving back in Yridia, Troutrooper tucked his drinking companion and friend into bed, and then finished off the Ale by himself, toasting the ghosts of the dead, who seemed to come to him more frequently.
* * * * *
Kazarelth sat in his chair onboard the Creeping Death, continuing on course to return to Yridia. Though Kazarelth was young in the Dark Side, he certainly did not lack experience. Although he could not know for sure, he had stood out among his peers in the eyes of his Clan, and the eyes of the Clan Summit, and would be rewarded for his efforts. But to the Jedi Hunter, these rewards were not the motivation for his actions. Kazarelth had found a true home in Tarentum, and would spend his every day defending the name of the Clan, and gaining in honor and prestige among his brethren. As the ships continued onward, a vision of darkness and power came over the Jedi Hunter. Kazarelth saw himself in robes of utter blackness, standing atop a pedestal, surrounded by those he knew as friends and allies of Tarentum. Surrounding him on the pedestal were those beings of darkness and power known as the Tarentae.
The vision faded quickly, and left Kazarelth wondering at the meaning of the vision. Elsewhere, there were others having the same vision as Kazarelth, and experiencing the same confusion. Each wondered what the future would bring for them, especially once they had returned home to Yridia. But as Kazarelth came out of his vision, his mind returned to his duties, and the expression on his face never changed. They would be home soon, and then he would try to make sense of things with the help of his Master, and with the help of the Summits.
* * * * *
As much as Tarenti had stood out as fierce and dedicated warriors among the Brotherhood, Korvyn, Deatharoc and Balnazaar had stood out among the rest of the Journeymen as dedicated warriors and Tarentum's faithful. The three of them had already returned to their normal duties, and were currently in lightsaber training classes being offered by the Proconsul of the Clan, Korras. The Obelisk Adept was a warrior of great skill, and his lessons would surely benefit these three, and the others who joined them.
Elsewhere, the military commanders of Tarentum met with the Clan's Marshal, Maxamillian von Oberst-Tarentae. Oberst was discussing potential changes in the Clan's military, and what the loss of the Acheron would mean to the Clan. New officers were discussed to replace what was lost, but there was also talk of bringing in new Journeymen and Equites to serve the Clan's military. Those who had stood out among their peers would likely be honored with rank and title in the Clan.
There was much to be rewarded, and many to receive those rewards. These things and more would be dealt with when the fleet returned to Yridia.
* * * * *
The Keepers of Tarentum, both the Death Dealers and the Watchers, were almost always acutely aware of the ghosts of the dead and the anciently-gone. One Keeper in particular seemed intent upon the newest dead who now seemed to gather around him in sorrow.
Tarentum’s dead. Those who had fallen to the Vong.
Sith Bloodfyre-Tarentae stood upon the bridge of the Clan’s flagship, the mighty Corsair, but it seemed to him that he was on a different plane entirely. All around him were the souls of the departed, but the closest to him were those who had fallen not so long ago. Especially close were those he had known and ruled over as Consul, who had died recently in the destruction of the Acheron. Each of them looked to him with rage, but with a certain longing in their eyes, as well. They begged to be returned to the plane of the living, brought back from Oblivion. And though Sith Bloodfyre was one of the most-powerful of the Watchers, it was beyond his ability to restore them to their bodies, when he wasn’t in possession of their physical forms. Those bodies had been lost to the evacuation of Antei. They were now the trophies of the Vong.
Avenge our deaths, oh Consul, the dead seemed to say, their mouths open in perpetual wails. Destroy those who claimed our lives! Return us to our bodies! Do not let us be forgotten to time and memory…
Sith could not respond. He could view their plane, but without calling on his dark powers, he could not interact with it. And at the moment, with the welfare of Tarentum such a large concern, the plane of the dead would have to wait. The Shaevalian wanted to bring back all those who had been lost, and claim their servitude once more for Tarentum. But they would be claimed again, anyway. The Watchers would grasp their souls and bind them to eternal servitude to Tarentum. That was the way of things, especially in the Clan of Life and Death. When you lived, you lived for Tarentum. When you died, the Watchers made sure you survived Oblivion to serve the Clan once more. Every member of Tarentum knew this fate would be their own. It was perhaps the biggest reason that so many of the darkest Clan sought out immortality. It was much better to rule in Tarentum, than to serve from Oblivion.
The Consul came out of his visions of death and despair, and was once more on the bridge of the Corsair. Someone had been alerting the deck that they were within ten minutes of regrouping with the rest of Tarentum’s ships.
The wayward children of Tarentum had returned. They were home. And now was the time of Tarentum’s rebirth. It was time to begin anew. And the Brotherhood would tremble in the face of the new Clan of Life and Death.
A new golden age of Tarentum was upon them. And it would be a glorious reign, indeed.
"Anger. Frustration. Hatred."
These same thoughts were swirlling through Brimstone's mind as he was meditating. Mistress Telona was probing his mind from what he could sense, replaying his earlier thoughts to try to make him see that these are no longer the ways of the Sith.
"Release your Anger. Wipe out your Frustration. Forgive your Hatred."
She kept telling him in his mind to do these things. They seemed like the answers that his mind was wanting to ask himself. What was causing him so much anger and hatred? He was so frustraited at his lack of accomplishments that it was building up inside.
"If you don't learn to control what is tearing you up, you will destroy yourself."
He was trying to understand what was consuming him. Was it pride? Was it jealosy? Was it lack of respect? or could it be as simple as he felt lonelyness due to the fact that his race, the Chiss Ascendency, had forced him into exilement and he was discarded by them, despite all he had done for them and all that the years he spent being one of them? He was also abandoned by one Master and yet another has not spoken to him also.
"Is that what you are feeling? Abandonment?"
Telona startled Brimstone with this question in his mind. Could it been that simple? He felt he was abandoned by his race and is fearing that this new "family" was going to do the same to him if he didn't prove his worth to them. Was he really that fearful to losing all he has gain again?
"Yes, that is what you fear. Abandon."
Brimstone opened his mind more to her. Despite this engagement that was going through his mind, on the outside, a single tear formed under his right, closed eye and trickled down his cheek.
"Yes, Mistress, this is what I fear. I worked so hard to make my old leaders respect me that they discarded me and threw me out, despite my accomplishments. I am sensing the exact thing happening here too. I do not want to be discarded again. That is whay I am trying so hard to please everyone" said the sullen Brimstone in his thoughts.
"Do not fear what will not happen" said Telona peacefully. "That used to be the old way of the Sith and why the Sith were pushed to brink of extinction. We no longer believe in those ways and are actually more cohesive as one, than as separate entities."
"Then why do all the clans fight to destroy each other instead of becoming this unison force that we can be?" asked the Guardian.
"Because some like you, still believe in the old ways. I feel in you that you could be one of many than can bring all the clans together in the future" replied Telona. "You are a powerful Force user and you will eventually fullfill your potential. Maybe one day even lead us to prosperity."
Brimstone pondered the thoughts of him leading again one day. He soon was realizing that it wasn't his desire to go back to the Chiss Ascendency to lead them. It was to lead the Brotherhood.
But to do that, he had to release his past. He had to give up the past to proceed to the future. And this war was what had to finally open his eyes to that though he was still Chiss, he was no longer just a Chiss. That he was part of a larger race than that of his former life. Today was the beginning of his new life. Today, he was no longer a Chiss. Today he was a brethren of the Brotherhood.
"Welcome brother. You have taken the first step to the long road of the Brotherhood" spoke Telona, welcoming him to the elightenment.
"Yes Brother, welcome home" spoke Master Spears and Bloodfyre in unison in the Guardian's mind.
Brimstone no longer felt alone. The anger and hatred was subsiding. Where once was frustration, was enlightment.