The Taste of Blood
War is a cruel mistress. She brings out the best and the worst in men. Great innovation, exceptional bravery and astounding leadership comes with the unfathomable cruelty and loss. Your House goes to war, seeking individual glory and the pride of victory.
This runon event is a cooperative, forum-based fiction event. Fictional cues will be given to each House and Clan at the start of the week. “Cues”, along with plot details released that week, will form the basis of the Run-On.
* The run-on will be conducted in specially designated forums, already set up for each House/Clan. Passwords may be obtained from Consuls and Quaestors
* No one but the author of the post is permitted to make changes to it. The Author may freely edit his post up until another person posts on the run-on.
* 2 posts of 250 words each is required to be counted as a participant.
* Each run-on must have at least 20 posts containing a minimum of 250 words in each post.
* Runon posts may be posted until 22 October 2359 (11:59 EST).
Week 1 Orders: War has been called on the Jedi of Odan-Urr and their home planet of New Tython. You have just received word to prepare and meet the rest of the Dark Council fleet before making your way to New Tython and attacking.
Week 2 Orders: New Tython has been invaded by Dark Brotherhood forces. Tarentum joins the fray on both counts and are ordered to assist Arcona in these endeavours, including being the first to engage the Mandalorian units
Week 3 Orders: The battle rages on as the Mandalorians and light jedi managing to hold their own against the combined forces of the Brotherhood. The Dark Council has joined into the fray. Shikyo and Korras has joined up with Tarentum and Arcona, sent to deal with the Mando-leaders
Week 4 Orders: Arcona, Tarentum, Naga Sadow, Taldryan, Scholae Palatinae and Plagueis have all begun to converge on the same point as they make the final thrust at Odan-Urr and their allies. The blending of Houses and Clans causes chaos between the "allied" forces, and old tensions rise in the midst of battle
Anshar stood patiently on the transport as it glided towards the surface. All around him, a mix of suspicion, uncertainty, hatred, and so many other emotions swirled. It was an old figure of speech to call it “mixed emotions,” but being Force sensitive and Force using put a whole new spin on that cliché. Regardless, Anshar let the emotions of the others on the transport slide off of him. His own calm confidence kept him settled.
There was one thing that was gnawing at Anshar’s own mind, something that he kept hidden from his house mates. Why in the hell was he even here, volunteering to lead on the front line? His days of official leadership were over with, at least for now. He was a Master, capable of feats and skills that others only dreamed of; nevertheless, he could sense, and had been told in briefing, that things had changed. Mandalorians were fighting alongside the Jedi, which was perhaps as strange a combination as a Hutt’s taste for Twi’leks or Humans. The regular troops of the Brotherhood already on the surface were taking a beating, and Anshar could only surmise that this was a replay of the ancient wars. It came down to skills versus numbers; more precisely, it was how many numbers the skilled, in this case the Mandalorians, would rack up before the numbers won out. If they were skilled enough, their fewer numbers meant nothing. Of course, Tarentum’s Force users would be some of the first in the Brotherhood, save for a few from Arcona, to meet the Mandalorians in battle.
So, why was he here? Anshar could only think of a few reasons, not the least of which was that his House had called upon him. There was always the other issues, such as following the Grand Master and, most immediately, assisting their friends and allies in Clan Arcona. But it went beyond that, and Anshar had finally concluded as to why he was there. Simply put, there was nothing else for him to do. After all that he been through, having his spirit torn from his body and having it sealed back after a year of feeling like it was getting ready to split away entirely, Anshar had nothing else to do. His meditations and studies had brought him a new answer and he looked at a physical death not as an impediment, but as a new horizon. Anshar did not seek or want death, nor had he ever truly feared it, but now it seemed so much more of an inconvenience.
Anshar’s mind settled back on the battle to come. Jedi and Mandalorians both awaited them now, but Anshar was already on his guard. He had been in these Brotherhood conflicts far too often, far too many times, and they inevitably resulted in the Brotherhood descending into some sort of civil war. No matter how small, whether by accident or design, Anshar had already prepared himself mentally for the possibility that he would have to fight others members of the Brotherhood. It was, unfortunately, an old routine.
“Landing in two minutes,” said some pilot as the transport buffeted from some explosions, though none of them were close. Bloodfyre’s final commands still rang in Anshar’s mind: “First, stop the route of the regular troops. We’ll regroup at the established rendezvous and from there…”
"You may open fire when ready, Commander."
The younger man nodded his acquiescence before turning to repeat the orders to the tactical crew. Seconds later, the Magnus Kaerner reverberated with the roar of all its power plants spinning up to full power. Outside the aging ship, every turbolaser that could acquire a target had opened fire. Scion Altera's eyes scanned the view from the bridge, noting the positions of the rest of Tarentum's fleet as it mingled with Arcona's in New Tython's upper atmosphere. The few others of Tarentum's fleet capable of orbital bombardment had receieved their orders as well. A rain of yellow energy fell upon the planet. The Admiral noted with some satisfaction that the combined Arconan and Tarenti fighter screen seemed to be effective, at least for the time being.
He stifled a yawn with the back of his fist - it had always been difficult to sleep the night before an engagement, even now when it seemed all he did was stand on the bridge and put his signature to paperwork. Not to belittle the job's importance, of course; often times those signatures meant dozens, or in this case thousands, of lives. But the activities of the past months had taken their toll on him. Bloodfyre had tasked him with rebuilding and restructuring the House's Navy. He had cheerfully accepted the assignment, but it had become a much more troublesome endeavor than he could have imagined. Plagued with unexpected repairs, incompetent and insubordinate personnel, inadequate equipment and funding, he now knew why the task had bested the several officers that had preceded him. It all made the old man long for the simplicity of his TIE.
The interim skipper of the Magnus Kaerner wasn't a full Captain. Nor was he a Foxtrot Uniform. It seemed to Scion that he was barely old enough to have grown the faint stubble that grew across his chin. He was a talented officer, but in Scion's estimation not truly talented enough to command the Navy's flagship. At least he was quick to follow orders and didn't seem to resent having the Fleet Admiral on his bridge. Especially considering it had been his own bridge not so long ago.
"The bombardment is proceeding as planned, Sir. Most of the structures down there are reinforced as we expected. Crews report we have caught several units of enemy infantry in the open, and pinned several others. Our fighter screen is holding."
"Good. Maintain communication with Arcona's Naval Command. Oblige any of our boys if they request artillery support in their zones, otherwise look for any enemy in the open or unprotected infrastructure targets that we can hit without risking friendly fire. Keep up the bombardment as long as you can until the fighter screen weakens and we have to protect ourselves."
Tarentum and Arcona had spent time focusing on the Jedi and their Mandalorian allies, but the tide had not yet turned as had been anticipated. Though Anshar and Bloodfyre had both entered the fray, there was still a great deal of ground left ahead, and still, Tarentum was taking its losses. The orbital bombardments kept some of the Jedi and their allies away from the present field of battle, but it seemed somewhat grim. The Council must have seen the need for reinforcements, as well. A blip at his wrist caught Bloodfyre’s attention, but he was unable to acknowledge it for a few moments. The troops at his flanks were keeping the several Mandalorians pitted against him tied up, but it was a momentary distraction, and his own concentration was needed, as well. Reaching out with his senses, with his feelings, and all the rage welled up within him, the Sith Master and head of Tarentum knelt to the ground, placing his hands palms-down, and sent his own consciousness through the soil at his feet. The troops surrounding him were well-trained, and they had to be. They knew at this very moment, his life and their own victory against these particular Mandos required they lay their lives down, if need be, to allow the Shaevalian the time to work his arts.
“Watch that one, boys! A Hutt’s bounty to whomever claims his head!”
The Mandalorians knew a Force-user when they saw one, and their efforts focused in on Bloodfyre, and though his mind and senses were able to recognize their interest in taking his life, he couldn’t act to prevent it. And yet, those surrounding him were in tune with his needs, and all of his own troopers focused their own fire to keep the Mandos away from him, and offer him but the few scant moments he had needed. His powers flowed through the soil, through the earth as his feet, and seemed to rip the very bones of the planet away from the depths of the firmament and sent them in waves of hatred towards the Mandos. Tarentum’s troopers went down slowly, one by one, but still, Bloodfyre had not completed his magics. The Mandos had not been claimed, and the Quaestor was running out of protection.
“Keep back, scum, and meet your own doom!”
Two lightsabers claimed and deflected Mandalorian fire that had been meant for the head of the Sith Master. Korras and Shikyo, sent by the Grand Master himself, now stood guard on behalf of the Shaevalian, with the last trooper or two who had managed to avoid being cut down by Mandolorian fire, and were amazed at the sight of claws of molten lava and bedrock that shot up from the feet of the Mandalorian mercenaries, and washed over them. The firmament clasped at them like claws of Gaia, and pulled them down beneath the earth, drawing them back towards the center of the planet, where the Shaevalian had called the hands of his opponents’ doom. It was not a battle that had been won, merely a small fight, but it was still something of a victory.
Bloodfyre slowly came back to the field around him, and his consciousness was his own once more. Where nearly a dozen of his House’s troopers had formerly stood with him, now only two remained, joined by two from the Council, one of Tarentum’s own greatest, Korras, and Shikyo, the Herald. The two of them were great warriors, and would bolster what Tarentum had been able to bring to the fight against the Jedi. New Tython would be doomed, in the presence of these two.
“Korras, Shikyo,” Bloodfyre nodded to each. “Tarentum is at your disposal. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“We aren’t gaining ground as we had anticipated, and the Mandalorians still add favor to the Jedi and their ability to hold us back,” Korras answered.
“We need to provide one concerted stab with Arcona, and find a hole in their lines to exploit,” Shikyo added.
“Again, Tarentum is at your disposal,” Bloodfyre nodded. “How can we assist your goals here?”
“We’re going after a cadre of the Mandos not far from here,” Shikyo answered. “We’ve been informed that some of the leadership is directing their own efforts from a defensible spot in the area. We need you and your forces to get us into the area, and draw their attention and help us create a weak spot in their lines to break through.”
“I think I have an idea where we might be able to draw them into committing their forces against us and get you past their defenses,” the Shaevalian nodded. “I need to get a hold of Zandro and time things with his forces. We’ll get you where you need to be.”
The scene was chaotic. Dotted across the terrain, wild fires scarred the landscape - ignited from star crafts in orbit. What were once the grassy, peaceful fields of New Tython now stood ablaze with rage of the attacking forces. The screech of fighter engines soaring low overhead would often accompany the roar of an explosion before a new flame spotted the battlefield. Yet, it was the screams, wails, moans and smoke filling the air that was most noticeable to those upon the ground.
The smoke left the battlefield in a haze. Dark clad figures would seem to dart out of the black clouds into groups of troops and tear through them before disappearing again when they’re own armored troops advanced into position. Injured troops protecting the planet whom were spared the slaughter would be left to cry and beg for their lives before they were murdered by the trailing troops of the attackers. War often produced these tragedies, yet it still struck a nerve with the tall young man who witnessed the scene. He often hoped it always would as he watched the horrors produced by the dark side of the force.
Ja’kel Nolan knew the Council didn’t want him here on the front lines. They had taken the advisement of the Jedi Master from Corellia, stressing that they let the Mandolorians take the brunt of the force from the Dark Jedi. They didn’t seem to remember they’re commitment to the people of this world that took them in, and he and a few others had opted to respect that commitment. Now he stood perched on the ridge of a small hill overlooking the flank of the Dark Jedi armies.
The Mandalorians wanted the centre of the field to their selves, that was more than clear. Maybe just as violent and eager for this engagement as the Dark Jedi, they wanted straight into the fray and Ja’kel was more than happy to engage the less chaotic part of the battlefield. However, things weren’t going as planned. His forces were still being forced back with the slowly moving centre of the battlefield and he was concerned about leaving this position to the attackers. Retreat and they would be closer to the people of New Tython, but if he stayed then their lines could become too thin.
The decision soon presented itself to Ja’kel as black and green troops quickly came into firing range of him. The familiar snap-hiss of his weapon accompanied the emerald hue that fell over the yellow grasses of the hilltop before the blade of his weapon quickly darted around his body. The dance of his blade was graceful as it intercepted the incoming fire and reflected it smartly back. In moments, the attackers
found their selves halted as many drove to the ground for cover while the few unfortunate sagged to the ground already dead. He would hold them here.
Shouts for support seemed to go unanswered by his forces. A quick gaze behind him noticed that the undertrained militia had already broke upon sight of the advancing forces. A snarl towards their incompetence quickly fell over the man’s mouth as he focused his attention back on the attackers. Yet, they seemed to be holding they’re positions with no attempt to flank him. They’re tactic seemed odd, till he noticed the figure who quickly emerged from the smoke drifting across the field.
Spiriting towards Ja’kel’s position on the hill, the dark figure was impressive as he managed to dance around the blaster bolts Ja’kel reflected towards him. At one moment, Ja’kel was almost concerned that this person was a frightened settler who the force was protecting till a yellow blade became visible in the person’s hand. Immediately, Ja’kel knew this to be one of the invading Dark Jedi as a shadowy aura
seemed to follow it as it leapt within striking distance of him.
The Dark Jedi’s seemed to be driven by rage as he landed before Ja’kel and wildly struck at his emerald blade. The crackle of the blades drowned distant battle from Ja’kel’s focus as he concentrated on the Dark Jedi’s attacks. Parrying the amber blade from dissecting his legs and quickly deflecting an aimed shot from one of the trooper’s at the base of the hill, Ja’kel felt both peace and joy as he let the force
direct his movements. Another quick attack from the Dark Jedi was avoided and just slightly left him open to a swift kick from Ja’kel that he attempted to capitalize on.
A shocked gasp broke the sequence of humming from the two lightsabers, but it was Ja’kel that choked it out in surprise. As his foot lashed out at the Dark Jedi’s torso, the shadowy figure seemed to phase its body right around the attack like a cloud of smoke. Not only did his attack fail to connect, but immediately afterwards a yellow light quickly emerged from the Dark Jedi’s chest and struck Ja’kel in the shoulder. The painful smell of burnt flesh in Ja’kel’s nose almost rivaled the pain that shot through the nerve ending of his shoulder.
Demanding the force to help his body ignore the pain, Ja’kel felt rage take command of his actions and suddenly felt his other arm swinging his green blade through the paused Dark Jedi. An acidic smell drowned the smell of his burnt flesh as the shadowy figure seemed to melt away as Ja’kel’s blade burnt through its body. As the figure collapsed on the ground before him, Ja’kel was quick to notice the hilt of
the lightsaber quickly leapt from the Dark Jedi’s hand and drew his attention to the Nautolan standing behind it. Once the weapon landed in the alien’s outstretched hand, the bryar pistol he was holding in his other quickly shot forward and its yellow blots angrily burned into Ja’kel’s chest.
“You killed my smoke demon, nerfherder.” The words almost hissed out of the Nautolan’s mouth as he looked down into Ja’kel’s face.
“Like you care, Sith.” Ja’kel defiantly spat back as he watched the Nautolan stand over him. No doubt existed in his mind that this was really a Dark Jedi, the master to the smoke demon he had battled. But a booming voice filled the air with laughter as a dagger blade shot out of the outstretched wrist of the Nautolan’s armour.
“I’m an Obelisk, fool.” The Nautolan laughed out, stabbing the blade deep into Ja’kel throat. Gasping for his last breath of air, his mouth and tongue wiggled with it, Ja’kel barely heard the Obelisk’s last words before he blacked out.
“Not a Sith.”
* * *
“Aye, Bloodfyre.” The militant voice answered. “I’ll commit some of my Foxtrot Uniforms to the attack with a few squads to match. You let Shikyo and Korras know that I can have more to follow them into the break in their lines if they want it.”
“Thanks, Zandro.” Bloodfyre nodded towards the blue image of the Arconcan before the mini holo-projector cut the feed. The Quaestor was quick to turn over his shoulder to the few troops waiting behind him to dispatch his orders. “Inform the F.O.B. of the plan so they can direct Anshar’s group to help Shiyko and Korras with their attack. You; contact Scion, and get some artillery fire past that ridge
on their flank that we just took while I get into position. Five minutes, then I should be able to take our forces there towards the crypts hidden in the forest’s edge.”
A few smart nods from the soldiers were all that answered the Quaestor’s words. Confident in their abilities, Bloodfyre quickly abandoned the ditch he had been taking cover in and sailed out into the battlefield.
The sky above New Tython was ablaze. From his vantage point aboard the Magnus Kaerner, the Fleet Admiral watched the fighters scurry by like ants while the capital ships began to blister and burn under luminescent crimson and emerald rain. The fight seemed to be going well so far; his meager Tarenti fleet huddled in amongst the larger from Clan Arcona, but was holding its own. The orbital bombardment had only been called off once, as an enemy cruiser had drawn within range. The combined firepower of the Corsair and the Magnus Kaerner had quickly eviscerated the Jedi vessel, leaving its husk to float silently past. As he had known for years now, the Tarenti were made of strong stuff. A premonition caught the old Admiral's attention, but he did not turn away from the window.
"Captain! Sensors report a hull breach on deck eight, sir. Repair crews went down there, but did not detect any depressurization. The foreman says it's probably a faulty sensor from the beating we're taking. He wants permission to open the pressure doors and have a look at it. Shall I authorize it?"
"Yes, go ahea--"
"No," Scion's voice boomed across the bridge. Commander Piersen's eyes narrowed imperceptibly for an instant until the Admiral's eyes locked on his. Beads of sweat rose unbidden from the young skipper's brow. "I will go myself."
"Tell that repair crew to stand down," Scion ordered. "Have a well armed security detail, and any Foxtrot Uniforms you can find aboard, meet me at the forward pressure door for deck eight immediately. Keep my commlink open and prepare to sound the general intruder alert at my signal." The young Commander's doubt was written plainly across his face. "Sound it before my signal and I will personally escort you out the nearest airlock, Piersen."
"Sir." The Commander's voice trembled, but he did an admirable job of hiding it.
Scion strode briskly off the bridge, his black overcoat billowing out behind him. His mind raced as he headed for the pressure doors, but of one thing he was certain: a hull breach with no pressure loss could only mean a boarding party had cut their way in. They had been careless enough to trigger the hull integrity sensors, but they had been cautious enough to avoid detection by the security network. They would almost certainly be Jedi.
The Sith reached out with his thoughts as he walked. Thousands of minds surrounded him, focused on their jobs. He felt firing crews, damage control teams, even pilots in nearby starfighters. Now there's an idea. He reached out a little farther, probing the minds of the pilots around the ship. He latched onto one, siezing a glimpse of the man's most recent memories. MK's been boarded, the man had thought. The image of a Gamma assault shuttle latched onto the outer hull of his Magnus Kaerner was all he needed before releasing the pilot's mind. How in Khyron's name did they sneak a craft that big past me? Past everyone?
Rage at having been deceived welled up in the Fleet Admiral's mind as he approached the pressure door. The security detail he had requested was not yet present and no fellow Tarenti had arrived yet, so he chose to wait. Concentrating on the thick door, the Battlemaster poured his rage through it as if to bore a hole through willpower alone. To his mind's eye the metal parted, granting a view into the corridor beyond. It looked much like the one he had just left on deck seven, except for the security team lying in the middle of the floor. The six-man team had their hands and legs bound and were unconscious, but Scion could feel that they still lived. Their weapons were missing. He readied his own, anticipating the challenge to come.
So often in holo-movies and action novels, there is a grand fight between the hero and the villain. No matter how many people surrounded them, no matter how many other great warriors filled the battlefield, opposing warriors seemed to find a single opponent with whom they could duel. For all the dramatic purposes in a story, Anshar had no such luck, if one could call that. Leading his group of Tarenti and “Foxtrot Uniforms,” as they were often called, Anshar ensured that Korras and Shikyo had ample room to do the damage they had been charged with doing. A blue lightsaber blade waved in Anshar’s periphery, but it only belonged to Dranik as he deflected another blaster bolt.
“This is all too convenient,” said Dranik as he closed ranks with Anshar. “Muz is planning something much more than just eliminating these Jedi.”
“I know,” said Anshar as the two fell into a well rehearsed and oft-utilized combat routine. Anshar would cut through the enemy ranks with his skillful use of Jar’Kai, the blue and purple blades swinging and lashing out. Dranik followed up, eliminating anyone or anything unlucky enough to remain standing.
“It’s getting a bit tight in here,” commented Dranik, this time telepathically. Sure enough, Anshar could see and sense other clan and house members near him. He could only sigh to himself, for he could foresee what was to come. By accident or design, there would be bloodshed amongst the members of the Brotherhood. Even as they fought a common enemy, Anshar could only surmise that many in the Brotherhood would try to take advantage of the situation and strike out at their enemies, real or perceived, in other clans and houses. Anshar shook the thought away; he had no enemies in the Brotherhood.
As he continued to fight, Anshar saw Korras and Shikyo taking on a new group of Mandalorians. Something seemed different though, and it did not take Anshar long to sense what Korras and Shikyo were thinking. They had a specific target, or targets, and this was one of them. There was an air of familiarity about the target, but Anshar could not quite place it. It seemed more that Korras’ target had a grudge against the Brotherhood than something very personal and direct.
“Anshar,” came Bloodfyre’s voice telepathically. “Update.”
“Making progress,” replied Anshar. “Korras and Shikyo have found their target, or at least one of them. The battle is a bit light in this area.”
“Alright; let Korras and Shikyo do their thing and leave the Foxtrot Uniforms with them as support. We’ve got another issue in the middle of this mess.”
“And that would be?”
“It seems like they're not the only ones here with some specific targets. I don’t know where, if at all, we fall on the list, but it is fair to say that you, Dranik, and myself are all on it. Meet me at the crypts…” Suddenly, as if he had gotten a glimpse into Bloodfyre’s mind just enough, everything clicked to Anshar. He saw clearly both sides waging personal vendettas wrapped up in the larger conflict. It could not have been a coincidence that the Jedi happened to call upon Mandalorian mercenaries. There was some connection between them in the background.
“What’s going on,?” inquired Dranik. “Why does BF think we’re a target?” Anshar turned to look at his friend and student, his mind racing back. They had both been on the Shadow Academy staff and involved in reporting the incidents; Bloodfyre had been the Left Hand of Justice. Perhaps he had simply not defended them well enough before the Chamber of Justice. His answer was only one word.
Holy kriff, am I late, Jason Hunter thought as he pushed his TIE Defender through the New Tython atmosphere. Alarms buzzed and beeped and chimed at him, but he ignored them as flew with all possible haste towards the continuing battle on the surface below him. Besides, the Force would truly let him know when he was in trouble, not a computer.
The fireball that engulfed his craft continued until he was almost halfway to ground. He was in such a hurry to assist his House-mates, that by then he was contemplating just popping the top hatch and jumping. Most likely suicidal, yes, but he wouldn't have to wait to land. Instead, he just rode it out, impatiently tapping his toe on the rudder pedals, following his instincts towards where his allies were battling the Jedi.
Now that was a foe he hadn't fought in some time. Jason had gotten used to fighting the Yuuzhan Vong, those extragalactic aliens that one couldn't sense through the Force. That always made for an interesting day. It had been some time since he'd battled for his life against another Force-sensitive.
Instants before becoming another burning crater on the war-torn landscape, Jason snapped back the throttle to one-third, kicked in the repulsors to two-thirds and ruddered the nose around to face due north. This brought him to a rapid, but mostly smooth crawl, which he eventually killed and settled the ship to the ground. Doffing his flight helmet and releasing the restraints, he snatched his lightsaber off his belt. Suddenly, he noticed something outside the cockpit viewport.
Looks like a Mandalorian, he thought. Perhaps it's time to show him my "Vong Rapid Escape" exit technique.
Holding his lightsaber hilt securely in hand, he got up on the command couch in a squat, ready to leap. He raised one hand up towards the hatch above him and gathered the Force to him. Thrusting it out both directions, he blasted the hatch and the top solar array clean off, and vaulted himself out of the confines of the cockpit at the same moment. The Mando was momentarily stunned and, much to his credit, began tracing blaster fire in Jason's direction within seconds.
Activating the sulfurous blade of his weapon, the Krath deflected any bolt that wandered too close as he sailed back towards the ground. As his feet touched, he was using the Force to augment his speed, for he closed the gap on the Mandalorian in a matter of a few strides. The armored warrior ditched the blaster carbine and pulled a long, forward-curved blade out of a thigh scabbard.
"Beskar, huh?" Jason said as the met, and his lightsaber didn't just carry through the metal to meet flesh. "Can't say that I'm surprised."
"Only way to fight Jedi," the Mando quipped back, his voice augmented through a vocabulator in his helmet.
Jason gave the Mandalorian a cruel grin before savagely batting the curved blade away and hitting him with a powerful Force shove. The Mando stumbled backwards, clumsily trying to defend himself from a powerful slash of Jason's lightsaber. The long blade just ended up tumbling from his fingers, and the Krath rewarded him for his efforts by finding the sweet spot between the helmet and breast plate, and removed his head.
Jason had moved on down the field before the Mando's body had even finished falling. He had to find Anshar, Sith and the rest of Tarentum.
As far as explosions go, that one was dramatic. The Y-Wing began to spin end over end as it's starboard engine was blown away. The helpless craft spinning directly into the bridge of a Jedi Corvette, the front half of the small ship exploding violently as the section was turned into molten slag. The later half starting a slow roll to port and moving down towards the planet. The TIE cockpit buffeting against the explosion as Apollo smirked. He quickly commed Scion's bridge on the MK. "Buy one get one free. If that thing kills any Jedi on the ground, I get credit. Just saying."
"Captain Apollo, The Admiral has left the bridge." replied the comm officer. Apollo raised an eye brow at that response. He knew that any flag officer leaving the bridge for any reason during an engagement was unheard of. Especially for Scion.
"Why in the frak for?" Apollo demanded.
"Sir, he said there were intruders on deck eight. He went to investigate."
"Understood. On my way." Apollo said as he cut off the reply from the comm officer. The TIE Defender was already speeding towards the MK. Once he was half a klick away he began to search around deck eight until he seen the source of the problem. A Gamma class shuttle was attached like some insect to his friend's ship. His first instinct was to blow it away, but he knew he might kill his friend if he was close by. Instead he had a crazy idea. Moving his TIE behind then below the Gamma class shuttle he shut down his TIE and made sure his suit was sealed. He reached out to Scion through the Force.
"I'm coming buddy. Just don't do anything stupid until I get there." Apollo said through the Force. Scion's reply was quick.
"You know me."
Apollo rolled his eyes and popped the hatch to his fighter. Grabbing his lightsaber and a small pack he attached both to his belt before he pushed off with the aid of the Force. He landed against the shuttle's docking sleeve softly. Knowing that at least one of the old ISD's double airlock system doors would be closed he made his gamble. Grabbing a datapad out of his pack he hooked up to the sleeve. Hoping that all his time going over hardware and what-if scenarios with Scion would pay off. Apollo found the manufacturer's codes and inputted them. The sleeve depressurized and unlocked. Apollo was up and inside quickly. He took position by the shuttle door. As someone inside the shuttle resealed the airlock and pressurized it. The door to the shuttle opened to find a very young Jedi pilot holding a blaster rifle aimed at the airlock door.
Apollo sprang up, lightsaber ignited in hand. The swing was quick as his blade sliced through the hand of the Jedi, taking the blaster with it. Apollo slammed a knee into the kid's stomach before pushing him over.
"You scum! You will pay with your lives you Sith!" screamed the teary-eyed kid Jedi. "You will meet your en AAAHHHHH!!!"
Apollo shook his head after cutting through the kid's left leg.
"I'm a KRATH you idiot! They don't teach you a damn thing do they you brain washed waste of space!" Apollo yelled.
The young Jedi was holding his leg as he was writhing in pain.
"My brethren will destroy you!" he screamed.
"You're one of those little bastards that will track me down when I'm 80 and try to kill me in my sleep, aren't ya?" Apollo asked. The hatred on the boy's face was all the answer he needed.
With a quick slice Apollo severed the boy's head from his shoulders. The body slumping to the floor.
"Yeah, you are." Apollo pulled out a spare blaster pack and set it to overload, giving himself a 15 minute window and placed it near the fuel lines for the ship. Moving quickly he ran to the MK's outer doors. Sensing Scion and the MK's security personnel about to act he pulled off his helmet and gloves and took a deep breath.
Using the Force he flung open both doors and sprinted in. Quickly dropping the first guard with a kick to the neck, Apollo sent his lightsaber flying into the chest of the second guard before retrieving it and planting it in the chest of the first. He then smiled at the stunned intruders.
Cold, wet, and rubbery to the touch, the small dirty object in the Nautolan’s hand failed to remain still. Turned over finger to finger, it flipped through the alien’s knuckle as a coin would while the creature sat propped up on the few ammunition crates that had made it to the front line. Together, they sat in silence while the Nautolan continued to fidget; likely reflecting on the events that brought him here.
The pause in battle he currently enjoyed was well earned, even for a Tarenti such as him. Moments after ripping his blade from the throat of the Jedi that had held the north-west bank of the battlefield, his troops had received orders to hold position until the arrival of Sith Bloodfyre which would be followed by an orbital bombardment of the enemy’s position before them. While the Nautolan had hardly desired to wait in the heat of battle for re-enforcements, even if they were the Prince of Yridia himself, he had used the time to procure his current treasure from the side of the Jedi’s head.
Not long after he had cut the hunk of meat from his victim, the first of the air strikes had begun just as the Quaestor arrived and quickly afterwards they had been consumed by war again. A few brief minutes of infernos igniting the tree line as the Jedi and militia and their droids retreated from the battlefield, then chaos for the Nautolan and his troop erupted again. Commanded by the Prince, they had taken the tree line and advanced towards the crypts and burial grounds of the native species as they further closed in on the planet’s capital. Yet, the fighting continued to be fierce.
Pursing Jedi and militia while being slowed by the attacks of Mandolarian mercenaries, the Tarenti forces were forced to halt their advance and dig in as they captured the last of the crypts. While ambitious members of the Foxtrot Uniforms could be heard abandoning their commands to take in some exploration and possible treasure raiding from their current location, the supply lines had to be strengthened before they could continue forward. It was an realistic annoyance of the underfunded house as they waited and prayed there was no counterattack in the meantime.
* * *
This silence could cause more anxiety amongst the troops than hours spent on the battlefield, Dranik thought while he ducked under a branch as it was snapped back into the trail of his friend and mentor Anshar. Moving a quickly and quietly as possible through the thick underbrush of the forest floor, the pair maintained their guards as they soon broke into the large clearing of the local natives’ burial grounds. Eyes cautiously scanning the dead environment surrounding them while their ears strained to hear even the slightest sound of a possible threat, the two immediately found their selves escorted by Tarenti troops into a makeshift F.O.B. – formerly one of the many crypts that littered the grounds.
“Anshar, Dranik.” The voice of Bloodfyre filled the single roomed bunker as the two entered one after another into the darkness. “Managed to break away from Korras and Shiyko okay, I see?”
“Aye, Frosty, Dox and a crew stayed behind to assist them in their mission for Muz. If anything comes up they can handle it.” Anshar was quick to answer for both, his hands pulling the hood of his cloak down for better visibility. “What have you figured out about the Tang’va?”
“Reports have confirmed that a few of the Mandolarians are sporting their family crest, more likely by the more prideful members of their group.” Bloodfyre stated while waving the pair to a glowing holopad, before continuing. “To the east. Along our front from here back to the plains.”
“Think they know they are our forces?” Dranik was quick to wonder aloud looking at the display.
“I have no idea.” Bloodfyre muttered casting his eyes down at the display. “But I think I’d be best if we dealt with them as soon as possible.”
“How do we stand here?” Anshar agreed with a nod before saying.
“Not bad. Our forces captured the forest grounds from the plains to here without too many causalities. After they captured the cemetery they halted their advance until we could get more supplies to them. Our only issue is Plagueis has pushed into a position adjacent to our western flank and I worry that’ll cause tensions with our Tarenti there.”
“Who’s that?” Anshar questioned after a moment of pondering the situation, pointing to the Foxtrot Uniform’s icon on the display.
“Raiju Kang.” The name came out in a sigh, as if Bloodfyre recognized the Nautolan's history
* * *
"Major!" Came the shout down into the crypt, knocking the Nautolan off his crate and onto his feet. "We have movement to the west."
Climbing out of the stony staircase of the makeshift bunker, Raiju failed to response as he attempted to get a look for himself. Indeed, even in the twilight here along the graveyard's edge, he could make out the faint shadows of figures moving deeper against the Jedi. As one pair of soldiers crashed through the underbrush into sight of the Tarenti before leaping back out of sight and carrying on after their team, Raiju smirked as he noticed the colours of his helms and collars. Glancing down at the treasure still in his hands, the Nautolan gripped the torn ear of the human Jedi in own palm tightly as his other arm waved his troops in the direction of the intruders.
The symbol indicating Raiju’s position on the holo-map flashed indicating that his troops had opened fire at the Plagueis troops, undoubtedly on purpose. Raiju had his good moments and he had his bad moments and it was obvious that he had fired first.
“What’s the plan?” asked Dranik. “Do we let these Tang’va sit around and maybe find us, or do we stop Raiju?” Everyone present, Force using or not, could sense both Bloodfyre’s and Anshar’s displeasure at the situation and the two Elders eyed each other as if speaking in some strange language reserved only for them. Finally, in a relaxation that was almost tangible to everyone in the room, Bloodfyre and Anshar broke their eye contact. Bloodfyre then spoke:
“I think we can make this easy enough,” said Bloodfyre. “We don’t particular care for Plagueis, but we’re not enemies either. Nothing like those nerf-herders in Scholae. I’m not one to waste an opportunity, but Raiju has definitely set us up for some bigger trouble if we don’t stop this. So, we are going to move towards Raiju’s position and try to stop this, preferably over the comm. system. If he doesn’t stop, then we have to intervene more forcefully. In the meantime, if you’re up for it, we’ll broadcast our location to these Tang’va wannabes.”
“And how do we do that?” asked Dranik.
“Simple,” replied Bloodfyre, waving at two of the Tarentum soldiers who promptly disappeared for a moment before returning, dragging a limp body up to the feet of the Tarentum Quaestor. The armor was badly burned and scorched, but it was definitely a Mandalorian, and they could see the Tang’va crest lightly imprinted on the left shoulder, though it was clearly overshadowed by the Ordo markings. Bloodfyre knelt down and gripped the dead man’s throat with his hand, letting the Force flow through him. “I learned everything from this splendid volunteer,” Bloodfyre stated. With a flick of his eyes, the man’s comm. system came on and scanned wildly before Bloodfyre found the channel he was looking for.
“Faris, found targets six through nine,” said the dead man. “Heading towards the following coordinates. We’ll need some back-up though- heavy stuff. Sith scum from two houses are over there.” There was some silence, long enough to let doubts settle into their minds as to whether or not the ruse would work. Finally, a reply came.
“Copy that,” came a terse reply. “Units being dispatched. Good work! Maintain observation.”
“Understood,” replied the dead man. When the comm. clicked off, Bloodfyre released the man’s throat and stood up.
“Alright,” he said. “Let’s get going. With any luck, we’ll draw out the remaining Tang’va and give both Raiju’s forces and the Plagueis lads a common enemy.” Bloodfyre, Anshar, and Dranik exited the makeshift post quickly, almost running into Jason, who had finally caught up.
“Got room for one more?” asked the Krath Priest and long ago quaestor of House Gladius.
“Eager as ever, I see,” said Bloodfyre. “By all means.” The four Tarenti hopped on a skiff and zoomed off towards Raiju’s instigated battle. As they made their way towards the location, Bloodfyre turned to Anshar.
“You’re the diplomatic one,” he said. “Think you can calm Plagueis down?”
“Is this before or after you drop some Tang-Mandos on them?” asked Anshar.
“Preferably before,” replied Bloodfyre. “But, I’m not picky.” Anshar shrugged.
“I sense Alaris is near there,” replied Anshar. “I have some sort of working relationship with him. This would be the one good time to have Braecen around; at least he and I got along.” Bloodfyre only nodded before he turned his head to Dranik and Jason.
“You guys can help with the Tang-Mandos, and they are our top priority since they want three of us dead,” said the Quaestor. “But, I may need you two to restrain Raiju. Don’t kill him, just keep him down.” Dranik and Jason both nodded an acknowledgement. Both knew that Plagueis had no elders on their roster, but that was precisely why Bloodfyre and Anshar would be the ones to deal with them: a show of strength might be needed.
“I have just one question,” said Jason. “Why do you guys only rate six through nine?” Bloodfyre merely laughed, mostly to himself. Sometimes a bit of humor could be found in the midst of a war.
The Fleet Admiral tapped his foot impatiently. He would have to have a word with the security chief about this lackadaisical response to his orders. Finally, the thumping of boots around the corner signalled the security team's arrival.
"Piersen," he said calmly into his commlink as the first of them arrived. "Please open the forward pressure door on deck eight. When my team and I are through, seal it back up."
"Yes, Sir. The door will open momentarily."
Scion noted that at least part of his order had been followed: the security team was armed to the teeth. The twelve men arrayed themselves strategically around the door as the magnetic seals clicked open in succession. A faint hiss emitted as the door groaned open, revealing the corridor just as the Battlemaster's vision had foretold. The Fleet Admiral strode through the door first, his crimson blade humming softly in his right hand.
"Two of you stay behind. Unbind these men and wake them up. Catch up with us as soon as you can."
The remaining ten men fanned out around Scion as he stepped over one of the unconscious figures and continued towards a bend in the corridor. A loud crash erupted somewhere further down the deck, followed by yelling. Scion's pace quickened to a jog as he rounded the bend, and into a sprint when he saw Apollo engaged with a large group of men near the airlock.
With a roar, the old man leapt into the fray. Most of these foes seemed to be typical security personnel, armed with blasters and durasteel batons. The shuttle must have been packed much beyond its rated capacity to bring all these men aboard. The Sith slashed his way through the nearest man like a farmer harvesting wheat, when a glimmer of blue flashed in his peripheral vision. He spun just in time to deflect a low blow to his hamstrings. The red blade pushed the blue in a wide circle up and over both men's heads. Scion's eyes locked with the young Jedi's for an instant as the blades locked above their heads. Seemingly out of nowhere, Apollo's violet blade lodged itself in the Jedi's midsection. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but only a gout of blood emerged before he sank to the floor.
A low whine caught Scion's ear, and he risked a glance back in the direction from where he had come. The security team had set up two mounted weapons some distance from the fighting, each manned by three men. Within moments, they had opened fire. A blistering flurry of red blasts ripped through the crowd, and in mere seconds it was brutally clear which combatants were Jedi and which were dead. Scion and Apollo stood back to back, surrounded by six men wielding green and blue lightsabers. Another pair faced the turrets, expertly protecting their companions from the onslaught.
"How're you feelin' old man?"