Team 4 Run-On
Members: Archangel, Xen'Mordin Vismorsus, Thran Occassus, Kalia Phoenyx, Atra Ventus, Methyas Pepoi L'eonheart, Raiju, Wuntila, Wes Erinos, Tirano
* Individuals must have at least 2 posts at 250-words minimum apiece to count as having participated
* Overall each Run-On must have a minimum of 20 posts at 250-words minimum apiece
* Cannot edit a post once someone else has made a follow-up post
* Cannot make consecutive posts; At least one other must have posted after you
All Run-On fiction must follow from weekly fiction posted.
Week 1 Details
* No cure can be found for the Plague
* It is not known how this Plague came to be
* Currently all Journeymen are in Stage 1 of the Plague; Equites and Elders are not yet affected
Stage 1 Details
At Stage 1 the Plague has taken hold, feeding on the Force abilities of infected. As it “feeds” on the infected it transfers some of that energy back into their bodies. At this stage the infected gain +2 to all physical attributes (STR, CON & DEX). Although the ability to summon the Force is fully removed, they do not appear to feel pain in the same way and appear to be channelling the power [CTP] constantly.
Any Force powers used on the Infected seem to reinvigorate them, rather than stop them. The infection takes such usage into itself and adds to its feeding.
YCHT Pendragon One
Yridia II, Yridia System
...22 hours since Horizons' Outbreak...
The cabin was filled with more than just tension and frustration. Packed to capacity, each seat was filled with someone's butt and still there were asses being planted on shipping crates that were ratcheted to the deck. In total, including the sole person piloting the starship, they numbered ten. Yet, the entire crowd was strangely silent; only the roar of the starship’s engines tried to break the hush that had fallen upon the cabin, and it was just a low hum to all of them.
No one dared to be the first to offer an explanation at what they had just encountered. Whether they were plainly exhausted, still mentally processing what had happened, or just sitting in disbelief of their recent events; it was clear that they didn't expect to be here or amongst the company of certain others either. Glares were being exchanged, clenched jaws jerked up in challenge, and no one’s hand was weaponless. Given what had happened, it wasn’t surprising. War had returned to them all, just not along the same divisions as before.
“It serves us right for going to see Tarentum.” A young Corellian male finally sighed, seemingly to no one in particular. His focus was on his bare arms as he ran a hand over each examining the many tattoos inked into his skin.
“Aye, that keep of theirs has been the watery grave of many of us.” The calm voice of a Nautolan male answered before the hush seemed to settle back in. His place was furthest from the others, leaning against the bulkhead in a shadowy corner of the cabin.
“Us?” The only sense of emotion that came from the Corellian’s sharp tone was his frustration. “It’s ironic hearing that come from a Jedi in a ship filled with the rest of ‘us’.”
Despite the hand of the Miraluka beside him waving the Corellian to silence, the message still plainly hung out in the air for the Nautolan. Amongst a ship filled with a trio each of Arconans, Sadowites, and Scholae; he could still serve as the common enemy for them all if they wanted to use him. However, for the time being a larger threat would be uniting them all; even if that was with a Jedi Guardian too.
A long glance by the Nautolan around the cabin indicated the truth. Even as the ship’s pilot rejoined them from the cockpit, his eyes were downcast as his inquired to a female about another passenger. Everyone was taking this moment to reflected on their own unique journeys that had brought them here, and even the Nautolan felt inclined to at that realization. So much had happened to each of them in the past twenty-four hours…
Meditation Room, Mucenic
Tarthos, Orian System
Approximately one hour after the Horizons Outbreak
Chaos had erupted across the Brotherhood's dominion; the worlds under the guidance of Clan Naga Sadow were no different. Every major installation where Journeymen had been posted had already become a site of major conflict and yet Methyas had distanced himself from the ordeal shortly after receiving word through his House's discreet network of spies, the initial findings from the Shadow Academy coupled with the later briefing from his Consul had prompted the Miraluka to seek guidance from the Force itself.
He had been in a deep state of meditation here in the secluded temple of Mucenic, few members of House Marka Ragnos returning to their former home since the Clan's restoration; it had been the perfect place to remain uninterrupted. Even now Methyas's essence felt as though it were light-years away from his body, plying the Force for an answer to the question he sought. Concern nipped at the Jedi's heels, this outbreak had stripped the Journeymen of their connection to the Force and if it were to reach him...
A small chill ran up the Miraluka's spine as he considered the thought, being so cold and dark. Taking a deep breath, Methyas delved deeper, reaching into the Force before he felt a nagging tug at the edges of his consciousness. The tugging continued only for a few minutes more before the Jedi gave in, letting the source of the irritation pull him along to its source.
"The Yridia system? Why would the Force guide me to the Tarenti?"
Had Methyas not travelled there alongside Tsainetomo to assist with the Rakghoul outbreak, the Miraluka would have been completely lost as to his objective. Even as it stood, Methyas knew it would be difficult to enter Yridian space; the Tarenti let few enter their territory past the no-fly zone at Yridia IX. The Jedi would need another way into Yridia space, specifically Yridia II and the Castle Tarentum. While his former Master had once been an influential member of the Tarenti, or so he had heard, he knew better than to drop the name of the former Lord Marshal and rogue Jedi Master without raising questions about his own allegiances.
A prick caught his attention yet again, Methyas swiftly turning his attention to the next point of interest. Fremoc had been at Yridia, it seemed like the Force had given the Miraluka his opening, if only he could wrangle a member of the Fist's staff into accompanying him on this personal mission.
Shaking off the sleepy twilight of his mediation, Methyas started to his feet and left the meditation chamber quickly, his legs starting him towards the temple's catacombs and hanger when a familiar voice spoke up, "You've been awfully distant lately blind man. I didn't think the loss of a limb would be so disarming."
Shaking his head at the terrible pun, Methyas waved his former apprentice to his side as he continued towards hanger, a small smirk crossing his face as he responded, "Funny, Atra. Care for a trip to Yridia?"
"Why Yridia?" The Corellian responded with a slight interest in his voice, an eyebrow cocking at his Master's need to leave the Orian system.
"Let's just say it's a mission of discovery, I'll explain on the way."
YCHT Pendragon One
Yridia II, Yridia System
His long fingers tapped impatiently upon the soft fabric that made up his designer clothing. If the restricting cling of cloth to his skin did not upset his natural state enough, he found himself among enemies of the Empire and worse; a Jedi. Xen’mordin and Brent Ligur Vitae had strategically placed themselves on either side of him. One sudden movement and Archangel would snap his arm back to restrain him. It reminded him of when he was young and an adult would instinctively hold him back if a landspeeder happened to come to an abrupt halt. Only this time, the arm was not protecting him from any danger. That one brutish arm kept him from causing the danger.
The scowl pulled over his visage did not adequately show his discomfort with this whole situation. He had been pulled from his life of luxury and debauchery at the behest of the Emperor; the one thing that could possibly draw him away. He had been brought back to Ohmen on false pretenses, crammed into an Arconan yacht, if you could even call it that, and shipped off to the realm of the Tarentae. In all their infinite wisdom, the Dark Council didn’t see this coming. Now, more than ever, he was beginning to believe that they knew about these conflicts and they simply didn’t care to act. Feigning ignorance could keep the Clans and Houses under their banner and more importantly keep them under control.
His hand slipped into his pocket. The hulking Sith to his right snagged his hand, unsure of what he was going for. His gaze snapped to meet Archangel’s, who timidly released the Warlord’s hand. When he withdrew it, his fist clenched a small vial. With a nod from the Emperor, he was free to consume the contents. He spun the cap free and the vial met his nostril. His rigid posture melted in seconds.
Archangel and Xen couldn’t help but silently agree that it was better that he be sedated, knowing full well that they would have to find grounds to cooperate with the other occupants of the vessel. His eyes shut and his mind drifted away to where he had come from.
4 days before Horizons Outbreak
“I can’t work like this. He can’t stick with the script.” She said, frustrated.
“Naiya, give me a minute. Why don’t you go take lunch now?” the director said, rubbing the migraine away from his temples.
His attention turned towards the male lead. He didn’t have the reputation of being hard to work with, but he was certainly being difficult with this picture. The director wondered if he was overworked and he could practically cut the sexual tension between the two lead actors with a knife. Romantic Comedy was a new venture for the Bakuran. With the success of the Rog Films, he fell into comfort as an action star. Comedy was a different beast entirely.
“Derc, baby, what’s going on with you?” he asked, placing a calm hand on his shoulder.
“I can’t stick with the script? Your writing is shit. Even I can’t make shit sell…” the actor said, posturing like a peacock.
“Baby, you know this script is gold. What’s really going on here? Can’t you and Naiya work it out?” he said.
“I don’t have the problem here, Randall. She does.” He said indignantly.
“Well, why don’t you try to talk to give her a wider berth? Clearly, she’s not as talented as you are. She’s new to this gig, you know…Why don’t you see if you two can work it out? I’m sure if you help her feel less intimidated by you it’ll make things easier. I really need you to find a way to get this to work.” He said.
“That sounds reasonable. I’ll see what I can do.” The actor replied.
“Good. Good.” He ushered the Actor off and sat back down in his folding chair. “Someone get me a frackin’ bottle of water!” he screamed.
Production assistants rushed about like busy bees, tending to every last need of the cast and crew. Actors were easy to deal with. All you had to do is stroke their tender egos and they would do just about anything you asked. He expected the two actors to be gone for the standard time of a sexual liaison. He was certain that if they spent time some time together unsupervised, they would eventual sort their frustrations out.
After a few hours or so, the young starlet returned to Stage 4. He was shocked to see her alone. The director approached her, puzzled.
“Niaya…have you…errr…seen Derc?” he asked.
“Yeah…He stopped by my dressing room to…apologize…It was really heartfelt. I think we worked everything out. We won’t have any more problems. He got some message and then rushed off. I assumed he was coming back here.” She said.
Just then, a production assistant came to their side. He nervously hoisted a datapad. It had a simple message. It read: “I quit – DK”
YCHT Pendragon One
Yridia II, Yridia System
Despite his comments, the half-breed Corellian that was the Quaestor of Shar Dakhan counted few among his ‘us’. Somehow, through a twist of fate or some curse, Atra found himself among friend and foe alike. His tattoos burned as if alive with fire, a grim reminder of the combat the Obelisk had so recently experienced as his gold eyes shifted warily between the Palatinae and Arconans before him. The Jedi was of little concern to him, especially considering the questionable alignment of Atra’s own former master.
Trust was something hard to come by within the Brotherhood, even within the Houses themselves. The fact that this ship held such a variety of loyalties and had not broken out into a blood bath was a miracle. Even the fact that one of the Palatinae was being sedated did not set Atra at ease.
For the Dark Jedi of the Brotherhood, nothing was ever what it seemed…
Yridia II, Yridia System
Approximately 9 hours after Horizons Outbreak
“Remind me… Why did I come with you?”
The voice of Atra Ventus rang out over the chaos as the young Quaestor took cover below the burning wreckage of their once viable shuttle. Blood and dirt matt the half-breed’s hair upon his forehead as grey eyes searched the surroundings. Methyas simply frowned as he drew a fist across his brow. Crimson stained his pale flesh as sightless eyes stared on. Too late had the warning been felt through the Force. Whether it was due to his connection weakening or simply the chaos of the events was hard for the Miraluka to guess.
“A flawed sense of comradery perhaps?” Methyas’ tone was calm despite their surroundings.
“Right. Remind me to get checked for insanity if we get back.”
The Jedi couldn’t help but grin. Despite the Darkness of their lives, the constant fighting that had plagued Naga Sadow of late; Atra still maintained a hint of the innocence with which the Obelisk had discovered him. It was harder to come by, the Quaestor having survived the proverbial trial by fire and coming out a hardened being of indifference. The Miraluka’s apprentice walked in the shadows at the border between the Light and the Dark.
Centering himself, Methyas let the world melt away and focused on the stray strands of Fate that made up the Living Force. Feeling with invisible hands he searched until purpose filled him once more, clinging to the strand and the knowledge it embodied.
The Miraluka’s words echoed within Atra’s mind as a whisper, a sound he had not heard in some time. The half-breed moved without hesitation, matching his former master’s movements with almost weightless ease. The Jedi had never been one for speed, without the Force at his aid, and it was a fact that Atra often forgot.
The voice and the Force cried out in unison as debris fell from the buildings above.
A trio of ex-Journeyman leaped into view as Methyas brought the Force to bear, redirecting the potentially fatal durasteel from its intended target. Both Master and Apprentice lashed out with invisible strikes aimed to incapacitate their attackers, though their attacks seemed to dissipate the instant they made contact with their foes.
Atra raised an eyebrow before adjusting accordingly. Methyas reacted in kind, crushing what appeared to be the favoured leg of the lead Journeyman between two durasteel panes. The remaining two leaped for the Quaestor who had already reached deep into the pool of power at his core, allowing the energy to flow freely through his muscles with electric fury. His movements became a blur, ducking under the leaping advance of an incredibly young looking Journeyman; he was probably a mere Acolyte amongst his older peers. Rising to his full height, Atra’s arm snapped out like a piston for three quick strikes to the last Journeyman’s core. The man crumpled to the ground unconscious in an instant.
Already the Templar was turning, his focus upon the Acolyte as the poor infected soul turned with crazed eyes. Without expression the Corellian dashed forward once more, his fist crashing into the young man’s gut with sickening force. Saliva and worse things spewed from the Acolyte’s gaping mouth as he crumpled to the ground.
“Let’s keep moving. Kalia’s message said to meet at the emergency docks.” Methyas spoke quickly, his sightless eyes having already surveyed the area thanks to the Miralukan’s affinity for the Force.
Atra nodded, the Quaestor more than willing to move on. Still, the Templar found himself wondering how such a large-scale outbreak as this couldn’t have been foreseen by the Council; or perhaps it had been, and they chose merely to allow it.
YCHT Pendragon One
Yridia II, Yridia System
Xen’Mordin relaxed his muscles ever so slightly as Thran drifted off. He was relieved that the diva of a Warlord was exercising some caution. Relations were volatile within Scholae Palatinae itself when it came to Thran. Throwing other units into the mix just made it worse. But right now wasn’t a time for glory or domination, it was a time for survival. Behind Xen’s determined and focused eyes, there was a hint of terror.
The Scholae Palatinaean Quaestor made eye contact with Nautolan Jedi. There was the one who had helped him along the paths to greater knowledge and power, and yet now shined in the light. Xen almost felt sad for the loss of the person that had been his master. Yet with his own system in chaos, and everything he felt he had known about the force in shambles it just wasn’t quite enough to over power the pressing matters at hand.
Xen looked over to Archangel and let out a sigh.
“Still think I am over reacting to this?” He asked. Archangel’s empty look back was all the response he got.
The Royal Palace
3 days before Horizons Outbreak
“Thran I’m telling you something is wrong.” Xen said, annoyed.
“It was a fluke. So she survived for a while against an Equite, its called toying with them. We’ve all done it.” Thran said. Xen let out a sigh. All the people sitting around the conference room seemed to agree with the Warlord on this one. Xen could feel it. Xen pushed play on the recording again.
“Look at the blade flicker. That can’t happen. And it isn’t just her. Some of these other new recruits from the Shadow Academy are showing unheard of levels of strength, stamina and pain tolerance.”
“Xen, do you think you are over reacting just a bit much?” Archangel interjected.
“No. Not at all. Something is happening. Something big.” Xen responded. Xen knew it was true, he knew through to his soul. And at the back of his mind there was a small voice saying one thing over and over and over.
Shortly after the Outbreak
The Krath Archpriest sat meditating in his ship’s chambers. It had become considerably harder to attain the right set of mind in the past few weeks. Something didn’t seem to be right, a dark shadow was approaching, one that even the Dark Jedi should fear. His network of spies had been telling him about a series of strange events, events that involved the younger members of the brotherhood. They seemed to be stronger and faster, not one or two, but the majority a statistical anomaly that worried him.
What worried him the most was the fact that they seemed to lose all connection to the force after a while. A terrible tragedy to any force sensitive being who had used its power. The only case that came to mind that was similar to one that happened a long time ago, during the age of Darth Traya. He knew nothing good would come out of it. Could the force be balancing the universe? Many documents suggested that Darth Plagueis had spoken of such events of stabilization. For everything the dark side gained, the light side won. Some even claim his death was an act of rebalancing. Would this be the price the Dark Jedi had to pay for the power they had acquired in recent years? Losing all their young apprentices?
Tirano could not imagine how it would be not to feel force, it would be like a losing a part of him, like dying. He had to check it out for himself, his long meditation would have to end and he would return to the house his brothers and offer assistance. There was no time for personal feuds anymore, it was time for action, the force willed it so.
“Dargo, takes us in.”
“Yes, master,” replied the human pilot.
YCHT Pendragon One
Yridia II, Yridia System
He seemed to fill the space in which he found himself. Both the presence of the man as well as his sheer size attracted a sizable chunk of the attention of the group. He was solidly built, tall and broad, with a firm jaw which was now set tight as he held his tongue. His crimson armour almost shone in the faintly blue florescent light of the yacht’s interior. It was still itchy in places, a normal problem with brand new sets of armour. Brand new, however, was more a relative term in this situation.
The Spire – Third Floor
Approximately ten hours after Horizons Outbreak
“Form a line!” he bellowed, his lightsaber casting a viridian glow about him. The hue turned the marble around him a sickly shade, but did little to alter that of his brand new armour. Cast and forged by the finest armoursmiths in the Dark Brotherhood, it fit him snugly, padded and cushioned for comfort and protection. It gleamed in the moonlight, which had made its way through the gaping hole beside the gathering troopers.
The soldiers jostled for position, dropping to one knee, or standing up, but all with their weapons shouldered, and trained on the distant shadows. They seemed to loom towards them, like a gaping maw of some great predator, waiting to snap up any absentminded fool.
“Hold, and wait for my command”
The tip of his lightsaber rose and fell as he shifted his grip, testing its weight and reassuring himself of both its stability and his. He was in command here, he was their leader. And it would not do for the leader of this unit to appear cowardly, or even worried. He was a Battlemaster, one of the finest in the Dark Brotherhood. He could vanquish any foe who thought to attack him.
But these were not ordinary foes. They were unthinking, rage-filled fiends, former colleagues and comrades, who had been altered by some pathogen. This was no time for mercy, however. Mercy is just a weakness, a failing in the soul of a man who is little more than a peon. One must vanquish the pointless emotions of mercy and replace them with fortitude, pride and strength, the true vestments of a Sith.
The call came from shaking lips, rattled out from somewhere down the line of troopers. Fear was a contagion in of itself. It spreads through a unit, infecting the minds of lesser beings and allowing them to hope for salvation, for freedom, to live beyond a few moments of time. Fear was a useful tool in the hands of a Sith, but not as it were, in the minds of a soldier of the Iron Throne.
“I said hold!” he shouted, projecting his voice through the Force almost to that of a scream, his saber blade rising viciously as if to punctuate his point. His eyes did, however, dart to the darkness, and he could hear above the small cacophony of noises from the troopers, a pair of running feet, slapping hard on the marble floors. He stopped his slow meander behind the line of troopers and stood firm. They were coming.
The ignition and hum of a lightsaber joined that of his own just behind him. He turned his head to the side to see who it was, to identify this new combatant. What he saw was not what he had expected.
“Kalia? What are you doing here?” he asked, turning his head back to the shadows, and the rapidly advancing feet, which seemed to have multiplied. Clad in similar armour, though cut to a far more feminine shape, Kalia Phoenyx bristled at his attempted dismissal of her presence.
“I am a Royal Guardsman, Archangel, or do you forget the rankings?” she replied coolly, a dark smile appearing on her lips.
“I do remember our rankings. Stay and fight if you must. Where is Fremoc?”
“Yridia” she replied, her lightsaber coming up into a classic pose of readiness, as prescribed by the combat masters of Clan Naga Sadow. Archangel turned to regard her for a long moment.
“Yridia? Why Yridia?”
“Korras was meant to be there. The Grand Master sent him there to retrieve the Master-At…”
The slapping feet had risen to a crescendo, as the charging infected seemed to appear all at once from all the directions possible. They wore the same uniforms they’d been dressed in hours ago, though perhaps more tattered and torn than before. Their lips seemed drenched with spittle and their eyes raged against everything and everyone .
“FIRE!” he bellowed, cutting off Kalia’s reply. The soldiers responded an instant later, and the corridor was filled with red and green bursts of laser, cutting through their former comrades. They maintained the barrage for a few moments longer, before breaking formation and disappearing past the pair of Jedi.
“What are they doing?!” Kalia shouted over the din. She glared at Archangel , as if he were crazy for letting the defensive line disperse so easily. He flashed a grin back.
“They will return to the command center, and reinforce the battlements here. I was going to stand here and delay them as long as possible. I believe there are two journeymen in this pack”
“Are you talking about us, Mr. Praetor?” a shrill voice echoed down the hallway, over the groans and sighs of the dead and dying in the corridor, “I can only hope it’s yet another one of your reports on our lack of discipline! It wouldn’t be the same otherwise!”
A pair of shadows detached themselves from the darkness down the corridor, stepping into the moonlight. One, generously female, had been the one to speak. The other, male and portly, followed her, as a puppy might to its master.
“Reda and Jed” Archangel said and sighed. These two had already killed three Guardsmen and Archangel had already had to fend them off once. He’d lost his helmet in the process. That helmet had been worn for all of three hours.
“Ah!” Reda continued, stepping forward one sultry step at a time, in a hollow attempt at being alluring “Shall we dance, Mr. Praetor? The moonlight is so romantic! Don’t you think, Jed?”
The fat robed boy beside her nodded dumbly, and glared at Kalia, his eyes betraying his horror-filled mind. They were the eyes of a mass murderer, a fiend, a terrorist. Archangel hated him more than even Reda, in spite of her wantonness towards him. He turned his head to Kalia for a moment.
“They need to die”
YCHT Pendragon One
Yridia II, Yridia System
A curtain of golden strands shifted slightly as the female warrior surveyed the others within the cabin. She held many titles: Praetor, Magistrate, Quaestor… Yet amongst the carnage of war those things often lost meaning. Of those who had come together here, rank was something they all shared in their own capacity.
Kalia Phoenyx fidgeted uncomfortably within her red armor, a hand running absentmindedly to the damaged portion at her ribs. Her pale, blue eyes winced slightly as her slender fingers came into contact with the tender flesh there. Letting out a deep sigh, her long lashes came to a close as her mind wandered to the wound’s origin.
The Spire – Third Floor
“So let’s do this.”
The Royal Guard’s eyes burned with an ice cold fire, the blue seeming white in the pale light of the corridor. Her crimson saber hummed with a reassuring glow, the Quaester of Marka Ragnos all too familiar with the lethal nature of the weightless blade. Kalia eyed Jed with disgust filling her gaze. Despite the man’s grotesque form, she could almost see a tangible sickness to him, something born of the mind and not the body. Meeting his glare filled her mind with images of his intent, and the things found there made the Sith nauseous. Letting out a long, cleansing breath, the Sadowan turned towards Reda.
The girl was trying far too hard. Seduction was an art form, not something you wantonly displayed. It was slow, subtle, and when plied by a master it was nigh unnoticeable. Even with the knowledge that Reda had succumbed to this crazed infection did not overcome the need Kalia now felt to beat her down.
“She’s mine.” Kalia’s words were refined silk with an almost icy dread underlying them.
Archangel nodded, a grim smile spreading on his lips. The decision worked fine for him as he allowed the hate he felt for the mass murderer to feed into his growing power.
Reda put on an extravagant pout as Kalia’s words registered. “And I was so looking forward to playing with my Archy-poo.” The infected woman moved her hands from her neck to her sides, allowing them to slide over and accentuate her curves as she spoke. “Come and play, little girl.”
Contained rage colored the Ragnosian’s porcelain flesh as she stepped past Archangel, stalking with long strides that caused her ample hips to sway to and fro. It was a show, put on as a demonstration for Reda. Even in the constricting armor of the Royal Guard, Kalia still exuded a tangible sex appeal, a fact further punctuated by her partially Zeltron genetics. The infected woman bristled with rage, clearly used to being the prettiest little thing in the room.
The Fist Praetor’s attention was already locked on Jed, each seemingly awaiting the other’s first move. Finally, the madness of the virus took hold and forced the mass murderer into action. Jed charged forward with surprising speed given his size, each step echoing with a thud throughout the corridor. Archangel had been caught off guard the first time he had encountered the man, not realizing the extent of the changes the virus had caused. This time he was ready for it, and his attention was no longer split between two opponents.
A boulder sized fist came crashing through the air, intent on crushing the Praetor’s jaw. The former Aedile shifted with ease, sliding past the blow. “Die!” Archangel hissed the word as his fist slammed into the man’s gut. Ripples of flesh concussed out from the blow, a low oof escaping Jed’s throat as he took a staggering step back. Despite the force of the attack, the infected murderer was still standing. The Praetor ground his teeth together in frustration, reaching deep into the Force as he flourished his saber with deadly intent. Jed was going to die; Archangel just had to catch him first.
Kalia’s saber clattered to the ground with a metallic echo down the corridor, the Sith’s hand twisted violently by Reda’s newly revealed whip. The woman licked her lips with a psychotic ting to her eyes, savoring the fact that she had relieved Phoenyx of her weapon. The blonde woman’s head tilted to the side, giving her infected opponent an almost disbelieving stare. Tapping into her still viable connection to the Force, the Royal Guard tugged hard with enhanced strength, pulling Reda to the ground hard as her left hand pulled a coiled chain-whip free from her belt.
The infected woman was on her feet with a hiss, cracking her whip towards Kalia once more. The Sith spun elegantly to the side, switching to her dominant right hand as she lashed out with the whip. The chain clicked mechanically through the air as the bladed tip licked at Reda’s face. A splash of crimson rubies flew into the air as a long gash appeared to mar the woman’s features. The infected woman audibly gasped as registration entered her crazed mind, clearly offended by the slight as Kalia couldn’t help but grin.
The pair began to dance about, whips snapping through the air sporadically. It was like watching a pair of dancers portraying their ribbon gymnastics. The Sith’s whip was clearly superior to her opponents, each connecting strike leaving a severe wound whereas Reda’s would simply bounce off the armor ineffectually. Finally, the infected journeyman let out a screech and charged forward. The movement was surprisingly quick and caught Kalia off guard. Before she could react, Reda was upon her with the Force screaming warnings in the back of the Sith’s mind.
The infected woman’s words hissed out like acid, accompanied by the foreboding beep of a frag grenades detonator switch. The explosion was fierce, yet contained as Reda pressed her fist against Kalia’s side, the grenade gripped tightly inside. Both women were sent flying, though Reda’s unprotected form took the worst of it.
The world spun in the Royal Guard’s vision, a loud ringing reverberating through her ears as she fought to stand. Pain, fiery and strong, ripped through her core from the wound at her side. Kalia coughed, pain coming in waves as her chest rose and fell. Across the corridor from her, Reda lay broken and burnt as she laughed maniacally. Anger fueling her, Pheonyx let her power flow to the wound, numbing her mind to the damage there as she rose to her full height. Each step was carefully placed as the Sith approached her fallen opponent, careful not to cause any unnecessary damage as her power worked to heal the wound. Reda was still laughing as she arrived and placed a boot upon the woman’s throat. The laughter was silenced as Kalia twisted the boot firmly and pressed down with all her strength.
“We have to move out.” Archangel’s voice called from across the corridor, catching Kalia’s attention as she turned to look at him.
Jed was gone, the only record of his existence being a series of limbs scattered across the ground. Kalia breathed deeply, summoning her saber hilt back into her hand and gripping it reassuringly.
“I just got a message from Fremoc, he couldn’t locate Korras.”
The Praetor to the Master-At-Arms sighed in frustration, running a hand through her hair as she focused on the task at hand before responding.
“Looks like we’re going to Yridia.”
YCHT Pendragon One
Yridia II, Yridia System
As the assembled group remained lost in their various memories the subtle coughing from Wes seemed to all but stop for a moment before the Mandalorian shuddered and whispered something inaudible to those across the hold from him. The sound was enough to draw Methyas from his thoughts, it also gave the Miraluka enough of a chance to notice his surroundings.
"Frak," Was the singular word to cross the Exarch's mind as his natural sight noted the change in several of those around him; their barely noticeable symptoms had blown up in the time that had passed and even Methyas himself had begun to feel a slight itch in his throat. Almost as soon as Methyas had noticed the changes a voice rose up from beside him, "Well this is interesting."
Atra had spoken first, breaking the assumed silence of the Yacht's hold as he glanced about to see who else amongst them had succumb to the plague, "You all right blind man?"
Methyas nodded slightly before he responded, "Yes, I'm still unaffected, though many of you can't say the same."
Another cough escaped one amongst them, this one seeming to pronounce the Miraluka's statement before the Disciple of Odan-Urr spoke, "So it seems."
A small glance seemed to be shared between the Consul and Quaestor of Arcona and Scholae Palatinae before the pair looked to the Consul emeritus of Naga Sadow; the Miraluka still remaining serene amidst the potentially dangerous situation. Before anyone else could speak, the pilot returned from a brief recluse in the cockpit and speaking plainly, "Lord Consul? We have a bit of an issue."
The Arconae simply gestured, waiting for the Captain to continue as his cool gaze set upon the man who now crossed the hold to a nearby holocomunicator. In a few simply movements of the man's fingers, the chatter started swiftly, the sounds of chaos outside the hull of the Yacht becoming more apparent. The Captain continuing after a moment of various chatter, "Yridia is under attack, my Lord. The Tarenti are requesting assistance from any able-bodied member of the Brotherhood. We're receiving intelligence that this isn't an isolated occurrence and even Dajorra is under siege."
A pause filled the hold, a minute one but still enough to be noticed, "We've been trying to maintain our distance from the engaged fleets but it will only be so long before they close the gap and try to strike at us."
Taking a deep breath, Methyas couldn't ignore his Jedi training and spoke calmly, "If I may, the Tarenti have been on hard times if my reports have any merit. They'll need all the help they can get if they want to repel this invasion and I remember someone amongst us being a very skilled pilot when your forces engaged our fleet not so long ago."
As the Miraluka finished he gestured towards Xen'Mordin and the form of Thran, the Warlord's skills behind a fighter yoke having been an asset when the forces of Scholae Palatinae had engaged the Sadowan fleet with their former Plagueian allies.
"What about us?" Kalia's voice rose up quickly, a slight irritation in her tone as she shifted her weight and placed her hands on her hips.
"You're still soldiers, aren't you?" Wuntila replied plainly as his eyes fell upon the Royal Guardsmen, "You still seem able, and if you're anything like what we found on Yridia then you can still fight."
"Focus your frustrations and anger at these invaders, for the sake of the Brotherhood and the hope for a cure." Methyas added, nodding as he agreed with the Arconan's statements.
"I assume there's an Interdictor active, or we would've jumped system as soon as we received word that Dajorra was under siege." Wuntila continued, his pointed statement aimed precisely at the Captain who simply nodded in return.
"Then we fight or die, it's not like this plague has given us any better options." Archangel responded flatly, a same irritation in his voice as Kalia's likely caused by the same infection he spoke of.
"Yeah, but some of us aren't exactly skilled pilots, if we can fly at all." Atra added, a fair assessment of the assembled group's varied skills.
"Then we return to Yridia, assemble whatever forces we can and try to gather the survivors. The Tarenti and their subjects deserve better than mindless slaughter and senseless death." Raiju retorted, his hands resting near his weapons as he spoke.
Eyes about the Yacht's hold began to settle upon Wuntila, waiting for the order that would come from the Arconan Consul and determine their course of action.
"Hail the Tarenti Flagship and get permission to come aboard, I'm sure Anshar would appreciate the assistance."
YCHT Pendragon One
Yridia II, Yridia System
That was the sensation that scorched through the Quaestor of Shar Dakhan's veins. He had lost his connection to the Force, it had been a slow process but the actual sense of loss had been something more instantaneous. A cold sweat caused his clothes to stick to his skin in places. Atra leaned back and let out a long breath. He could feel the rage building within him but fought to focus it as his logical mind recognized the sickness within.
Horizons had claimed him.
Just as it had claimed many of the others trapped within the confined space. Atra could feel the Fist Praetor's rage as if it were a tangible thing, radiating from every facet of the man's being. Even his fellow Quaestor, Kalia, had succumbed to the effects. He hadn't had a chance to get to know his mirrored role within Naga Sadow but he could tell that being without the Force was having a similar effect upon her, though her rage was better hidden. Glancing around with hazy eyes all the half-breed Dakhani could feel was the tightening of the walls around him. Fear fought to grip him as his gaze turned to his old master.
"That's a great plan. Rage-filled plague bearers trapped in a confined space." Atra's words dripped sarcasm as he glanced around at those gathered. "It's great if you guys want to go help out, but I for one will do more good planet-side."
There the rage can be released without worry.
Raiju nodded in silent agreement with Atra, though his reasoning was far removed and already expressed. Archangel's eyes lit with fire as he strode across to face Atra. The Dakhani was a Magistrate to the Fist, though among the staff he was one of the most far removed and silent. The pair stared at one another in silence, as if a silent conversation was transpiring. Finally, the Praetor broke the silence.
"He's right. We need to separate the infected... While we can still think straight." Arch's flat tone implied that there wasn't much debate to be found.
"We lack too much information. We don't know how this infection will progress and when we'll turn--" Kalia's voice broke off, unwilling to vocalize the mindless fate that many of the infected had succumbed to. Though she hid it well, the woman feared losing her sense of self.
"Then it's decided," Atra clasped his hands together in finality, staring across the cabin towards Wuntila as he spoke. "We'll take a shuttle planet-side when we board, while you guys do whatever it is your type does with Anshar."
The Arconan Consul shuffled slightly, somewhat flustered at the outright lack of respect shown by the Dakhani. Still, even he understood the gravity of the situation and could only nod in agreement. Silence hanging heavily upon the cabin, the Captain returned once more to inform of their permission to land before guiding the Yacht into the waiting hangar.
72 hours before the outbreak
“No. This is not right.” The Arconan Consul stepped up from the Serpentine Throne and paced up and down the dais, hands clutched in the small of his back. “It is not the way. It has never been the way. We train. Decades of training. We refine our skills, we don’t just possess them. Even if it is raw skill, it still needs direction.”
“Perhaps they have received training.” Marick reasoned, looking up at the Dragon.
“Perhaps. But from where? And from whom of the highest order? You saw their abilities. No one so green possesses skills so highly attuned-”
“You’re forgetting something, Lord Consul,” the Arconan Proconsul interjected, his piercing eyes locking with the Dragon’s own. “We have seen this before.”
“With whom?” Wuntila stopped, his brow furrowing as he looked down at the Hapan.
“…Teroch.” Marick said the name with an air of uncertainty. He expected some kind of derogatory remark or scorning lecture about loyalty, principle and what the Arconans of old would have done. But it never came. He received nothing from the Consul but a simple nod.
“You are correct,” Wuntila replied, running a finger across his bearded chin. His face seemed to relax, his stare was softer, and his voice became noticeably quieter. “But we cannot attribute this extraordinary practice to mass cloning. Especially not in the circumstance of Teroch. The boy was Sashar. And Sashar was exceptional. Garan and Jareese Na'Sel do not derive from Arconan heroes or their counterparts. They are something entirely different.”
Marick stood motionless as the looming bulk of his Consul stepped down from the dais and walked towards him, illuminated by the sapphire flames of the Citadel’s Throne Room.
“Come,” Wuntila said, brushing past Marick, “We should meet with the Arconae.”
12 hours before the outbreak
The 2-1B Medical Droid shuffled awkwardly about the medical bay. They were not the most agile of medical assistants, nor the most advanced, but they were resilient, practical and easy to repair. It was the reason they were used so widely across Brotherhood space.
It tended to its newest patient – Wes Biriuk Erinos, the newest of the Erinos Clan. He had emerged after the death of Xar’Khan and had begun his service quietly, assisting Soulfire Strike Team and soon becoming a permanent addition to the team. Now, though, he was a different. A changed being. Roped muscle pulsated under his fair skin and thick veins bulged and throbbed in his neck. Sweat glistened in his thick beard and dark hair, and penetrating blue eyes rolled around uncontrollably in their sockets. He writhed and wrenched and wriggled and wrought. If it were not for the numerous leather straps fastening him to the bed, the violence of the Erinos’ convulsions would have easily thrown him around the medical bay.
To the right of the bed stood Celahir Erinos and to the left, the Quaestor of House Galeres, Sanguinius Entar, and his Aedile, Legorii Entar.
“This is the first circumstance in which we have seen the pathogen go viral in a Knight.” The 2-1B continued its treatments as it relayed the information back to the Galereans.
“I fear it is something far greater than we understand.” Celahir’s voice was laced with pain.
“We cannot allow this to continue. Send correspondence to Estle City. We leave at once.” Sanguinius nodded to Legorii. The Aedile replied in kind and slinked off into the corridors of Kurs’kranak.
“And what of Wes?” Celahir looked up to his old Aedile.
“He’s coming with me to Selen.” Sanguinius gestured for the 2-1B to begin preparations. They would leave for the Citadel within the hour.
1 hour after outbreak
Tirano Yamayura, identification number eight two six eight, the hologram of the spacecraft controller flickered in the cockpit, you are cleared for hangar 63-B. Welcome home.
ISD-II Magnus Kaerner
House Tarentum Fleet Flagship
Yridia II, Yridia System
The strongest of us are leaving, he thought, and we have to take up the yoke and change into the masses? We are thrown to the dogs while these ‘leaders’ hide in orbit, away from the blood, guts and death? Why should we be the ones to be sent away? Why should they be the ones preserved?
All these thoughts, and many more besides, ran through Archangel’s mind as Thran and Methyas descended the gangplank to the flight deck of the Imperial II-Class Star Destroyer Magnus Kaerner. Wuntila, and Xen had already exited the Pendragon, charging ahead to meet with Anshar or whoever was in charge of the Magnus Kaerner at the time.
A team of men appeared at the bottom of the ramp, escorting a cargo hoversled, packed to the gills with equipment and supplies. They retreated in a hurry, letting the sled drift its way up the gangplank to the waiting Dark Jedi. Archangel surveyed the supplies and frowned.
“What would they have us do with radiation suits? Look fluorescent when we rip each other limb from limb?” he said under his breath, as he pulled container after container open, examining their content.
“Let’s not get too maudlin” said a voice behind him, in a tone which suggested a smile was on the lips used to say them, and not a kind on at that.
“Let’s not start, Raiju. I remember when you were an Obelisk” he shot back, his glare flashing from the pile of ration packs to the Nautolan. He had fought the alien before, a long time ago, during the Great Jedi War with the Yuuzhan Vong, and then beside him against the rogue Jedi House of Odan-Urr. Now? Now the fool resides in this rogue house’s protection, like some puppet alien, ready to do the bidding of his deranged masters.
Raiju made a start, his hand dropping to his lightsaber belt, but any action was forestalled by the arrival of the rest of the party still left on board. Atra looked from the Nautolan to the Shaevalian, and shook his head.
“Now is not the time to start anything. We are going to make our descent immediately. Who is going to fly us down?”
“I will” Raiju replied and pushed past the gathered Dark Jedi towards the cockpit. A moment of nearly uncontrollable rage washed over Archangel, his fist clenching down on a ration bar with enough force to squash it into a paste. He was not a fan of the Jedi, or most aliens so far removed from the Shaevalian.
“Are all of our supplies here?” Atra asked, quickly changing the subject, hoping to stem the rage building within his dangerous colleague. He too felt the draw and the power of the anger within himself, and it worried him. But with a man so used to using his wrath for combat, Archangel would have a far more difficult time of keeping his cool.
“For the most part. Some of it is useless, but then, we never know what we’ll expect”
The intercom buzzed briefly, and was replaced a slightly tinned and echoed voice.
“We’re taking off, strap in and prepare for descent” Raiju announced from the cockpit.
“Once more into the fray” Archangel replied, under his breath. He did not want to die because some Jedi fool couldn’t fly a shuttle… but he would have to trust someone. There were few shuttles built large enough to accommodate a Shaevalian pilot.
The Royal Palace
1 hour after Horizons Outbreak
“None of this makes sense. None of it. Can anyone reach the Council? The Other systems?” Xen barked frantically to the room of advisors and analysts. There was something more behind the growing riots on the streets of Ohmen than met the eye. Journeymen had been seen on the streets ramping up chaos among the civilians.
“Communications are still patchy. The rioters are heading for the palace. We need to get out of here. Something has taken the Journeymen.” said Xan Phraz-Etar.
“I told you all something was coming… but this. I never would have seen or expected something like this.” Xen said. His heart was full of fear, not anger. They couldn’t fight this, not alone. There was a tugging at the back of his mind. The image of Yridia II continued to pop into conscious stream of thought. Thran leaned over.
“You feel it too. We need to go to the Tarenti.” The Warlord said. Xen nodded in agreement.
ISD-II Magnus Kaerner
House Tarentum Fleet Flagship
Yridia II, Yridia System
Sweat ran down the back of the Battlelord’s neck. Warships were always so cold, flying in the freezing vacuum of space, yet here and now Xen felt like his body was on fire. He was unusually okay with the idea of being left behind on Tarentum Flagship while his friends and allies made their way to the battlefield. He could feel something stir within himself. This is where he was meant to be.
Xen glanced over to the Arconan Consul. Sweat was lightly visible on the Exarch’s blue forehead. This plague would take them all. The ever present support and comfort of the force was gone from them. Even still, Xen tried again and again to reach out through the force to feel. The world was grey and empty. He couldn’t even feel the emotions Wuntila who was mere feet away.
“Interesting isn’t it? Arcona and Palatinae walking down a hall and not trying to kill each other.” Xen remarked. Wuntila gave him a cold but understanding look. The small team of Tarenti escorts ignored the exchange, unaware of what was happening within the two leaders.
“So much for the idea of a quarantine.” Wuntila said. They had reached the bridge. They were met by Scion Altera, Commanding Officer of the Ship. At the three Dark Side users came together, each stifled a little cough.
“I guess this means Anshar is still on the surface.” Xen said shaking Scion’s hand in greeting.
“We’ve been… unable to extract him.” Scion said.
“He is probably hiding in fear. He knows that what has been done to us requires revenge.” Wuntila said.
“You two as well then.” Scion said. The Consul and Quaestor nodded.
“To battle then.” Scion said stepping away. He began to issue commands to those on the bridge.
ISD II Magnus Kaerner
Hangar Bay – Pilot’s Ready Room
Yridia II, Yridia System
The cold air of the starship felt extra-cold as Thran pulled a thick black flight suit over his hindquarters. His skin prickled up with goose bumps and his forehead moistened with saline drops of sweat. The notion that the sickness had reached even him floated through his mind. He had been crammed into a small ship with a group of what he considered undesirables; emissaries and representatives of many Houses and Clans. He swatted the thought away and attributed his chills to withdraw from the illicit tranquilizers he had taken aboard the Pendragon One. That feeling was nothing new to him.
He sat calmly on the bench of the ready room deep within the belly of the Magnus Kaerner and did his typical preflight ritual. He’d been doing the same thing for years now, a quick dip into the Force and he was ready for the thrills of space combat. Only this time, the Force did not answer his call. He was infected too. There was emptiness in his soul. The Force was like his lover; it calmed him and centered him, it drove him to excel, and it made him feel safe. Without it, he would be more reckless and less confident than he was in good health.
There was little he could do to stop it at this time. An enemy Force of massive proportions was bearing down on the forces of House Tarentum and it would take a miracle for them to get out of this alive. The Warlord lifted his helmet and placed it upon his head. He connected the two tubes to his life support system mounted in on his chest plate. He stood up, double-checked the connections and tested his radio system.
“Ace One, Empire Actual come back, over.” He said, clenching his fists in final preparation for battle.
“Yes, Thran…I’m here.” Xen said, answering the test.
Occasus couldn’t help but smirk at Xen’mordin’s lack of military protocol. The Emperor often sought refuge on the bridge of a command ship. The Bakuran fighter-jock couldn’t help but wonder what he actually did up there. He speculated that Xen munched on snacks and watched the real soldiers fight. Thran was loyal to the Empire, there was no doubt about it. However, it was a well-known fact that he considered himself to be the rightful Emperor. That fact made Xen tense. He never doubted how dangerous the Warlord was and he always exercised caution when he was around. Xen knew how bloodthirsty the Sith was; He was a TIE Defender Pilot. He’d sent him to the Hangar to keep Thran occupied. It was the right call.
“Awaiting mission objectives, Empire Actual. Come back.” He said, following radio etiquette to a t.
“Thran, get to the Tarenti fighters. You’ll be with Hammerhead Squadron. Get out there…Give them Hell. Leave nothing alive.” Xen said, knowing that giving that command to Occasus was like turning him loose in a warehouse of Cognac barrels.
Thran practically squealed with excitement. He double-timed it to the flight deck. He descended the boarding ladder and mounted one of the Tarenti Defenders. He imagined that there was a big commotion about relinquishing one of the prized ships to him, but somehow they knew they could not let this battle go without him behind the controls. The twin engines came to life, spinning up to their typical shrieking roar.
In quick succession, the twelve TIE Defenders took to the heavens. They met the might of the enemy fleet face on. Thran couldn’t stop smiling, he was ready to prove how truly skilled he was.
Lambda-class T-4a Shuttle
Yridia II, Yridia System
Raiju had enough of the Archpriest. From something deeply rooted inside him, anger swelled and began to boil. Had he stopped and reflected on the feeling, the Jedi Guardian would have recognized this wasn't the same old anger he once used as a Obelisk...it was something else entirely. But he didn't, all he could focus on was the stupid Krath sitting next to him in the fracken co-pilot chair. He wanted to tear off his face, in fact he wanted to do it to everyone in the group sitting in the cabin behind him, and even the beeping of the shuttle controls didn't quiet the voice whispering in his ear to just do it already.
Sweat beaded down the side of the Nautolan's face as he checked the sensors of the shuttle. Despite coming across the familiar beaches of the mainland on the way to Castle Tarentum, Raiju couldn't sense them himself. Years spent on these beaches as a Tarenti had given him a great familiarity with them, but even demanding the force didn't allow him to mentally touch the area below. The realization heated the Guardian more than just in his forehead where a fever burned. Disgusted that these damn dark jedi had infected him, Raiju turned his head and gazed at Tirano drawing his attention.
"What the hell, Raiju, focus..." The Archpriest snarled, their first interaction since taking off from the Magnus Kraener.
The command set the Nautolan off, like lightning the elbow of the Jedi planted itself into the Krath's jaw knocking his head back. Immediately following this, the Nautolan's hand firmly gripped Tirano's head and drove it into the console. Sirens sounded from behind the Jedi as something on the console was activated and lights blinked on warning of the ramp to the cabin was lowering; no doubt filling the cabin with a dreadful drag from outside that threatened to jettison the group over the beach below.
A sinister smirk seemed to fall over the Jedi's face from the events. Like he had appeased the evil voice of the infection within him, a calm fell upon the Jedi. Slapping the belt clip on the slumped Krath so it sprung apart, the Nautolan's knuckles whitened as his grip guided the shuttle down hard towards the beach.
Judecca, Cocytus System
2 hours since Horizons' Outbreak
The compartment was tight, certainly not made for the creature that had stuffed itself in it. It had been a long ride so far as they headed towards Tarentum space for answers, and they had yet to even depart from the Cocytus System. All the Nautolan could do was hope Xen came to the Emperor's cabin soon.
It had been a lengthly process for the Jedi Guardian to make it here. Worrisome events on New Tython regarding new journeymen had quickly encouraged the former Dark Jedi to seek out answers from his past relationships. However, it was clear the philosophy of 'brotherhood' stopped when one chose the path of a Jedi. Turned away, or rather attacked and hunted, by contacts in Plagueis; Raiju couldn't scout the start of this sweeping illness. Knowing Tarentum would just be as hostile given the events of the attack of New Tython, Raiju had hoped his old apprentice in Scholae Palatinae would be a little more receptive and have some information for the Jedi.
Yet, connecting with the "Emperor" had been just as much a challenge. Mere hours ago the illness had become a full blown outbreak against Brotherhood space and the Scholae leader had become tied up in the matter; making the matter impossible for a Jedi to sneak into the Palace unknown. Thankfully, a deal with one of Raiju's former spice dealers had set the Nautolan held up here to wait - costing the Jedi his packet of natural substances from New Tython.
The exchange appeared to be worth it a few moments later, the voice of Thran called faintly through an opening door beckoning the Emperor to take his time in the cabin; fore the Warlord was enjoying the company of one of the female pilots. A huff escaped the Emperor's lips before the door to his cabin closed, and Raiju could hear the Battlelord cross the cabin to the refresher before a pause broke the pattern of his footsteps.
"I haven't felt your presence in a long time..." The voice was directed straight to the container. "Get out of there you fool."
A smile warmed the Jedi's lips as he emerged. He was proud despite the man's darkness, that the Sith at least remained calm in unsettling situations. He could think of few Dark Jedi who would pause like this with a Jedi.
"It's good to see you my old apprentice."
"When I left you I was but an apprentice. Now I am so much more." Xen'Mordin was quick to retort coldly. "And you should know after New Tython that Jedi aren't welcome."
"Yes, 'Emperor'." The Nautolan mocked. "But I also know you struggle to save your house, and this disease threatens us all. I am here to help. Heading to Yridia, you are certainly going to need me."
A pause held in the air as a frown crossed Xen's face. His cold demeanor sent a chill down the Nautolan's spine as he realized the fear that had consumed the Quaestor. Xen had already seen the future, and knew this to be true.
"More than you realize, Raiju." Xen's face angered with those words.
Several hours after the outbreak
It was worse than he had imagined. The rage-filled fiends were stronger and more careless than he thought. The few he had found fought him viciously; they had to be destroyed completely in order for them to stop their attack. The fiends were strong, fast, careless and brutal. They did anything to land a hit, all their skills were enhanced by the infection. He was enjoying the bloodshed; it had been a long time since he had fought such brutal enemies. He was being worn out, the force was starting to leave him little by little. Each new enemy slowed him down, his only goal was to reach the citadel to join up with his brothers. However, the void was starting to scare him. The emptiness was not a pleasant feeling. He did not want to imagine what it would be to lose all connection to the force.
“Let whoever is in charge know that I am nearing the citadel.” Tirano said through his comlink.
Did the infection spread to him because of the proximity with the fiends? Or had it mutated so quickly? One way or another it was not good. He was a skilled warrior and he could still serve his brothers, as long he had control over his mind. The fiends seemed to have lost their common sense, how could they be attacking their brothers in arms?
“Yes, Archpriest,” replied a male voice.
“Let them know that I am infected, I have not yet lost my connection to the force but slowly it is starting to fail me. The emptiness is eating me from the inside out. Tell them I need clear path to the med bay. Studying me at this stage can help us learn the disease. There must be a cure, we can still save them.” Tirano said.
As Tirano got closer to the Citadel he began to see bodies lying around, bodies that had been scorched by light sabers. The bodies of the young and the old laid side by the side, it was clear that many had died bringing the fiends down. He must be going the right way dead bodies always marked the way. Tirano hoped he was not late, while he was confident the citadel was still intact, the emptiness inside him made him wonder if anyone inside the Arconan command had been infected. Would it be possible for the Arconae to be infected as well? Fighting a battle in two fronts against those who had served with you for so many years was not easy, regardless of what the dark arts had taught them. If an acolyte could be so strong, he could only imagine what a warlord could do if he was infected.
ISD-II Magnus Kaerner
Yridia II, Yridia System
The chill had ran down his spine swiftly almost mirrored seconds later by his skin feeling set ablaze and his body doubling over from a violent coughing fit. Horizon had taken him, his field of vision leaping from a vibrant field of colours to nothingness, pitch black. A sense of alarm overtook the Miraluka in moments, though the Jedi took care to ask a member of their escort to take him to the Envoy's Quarters so as to not concern the others.
He was a liability now, his heart racing as his mind became a chaotic mess. The young Miraluka had never, ever, been disconnected from the Force like this; at least, not in a conscious state. There were no whispers or an embrace from the soothing, ever flowing energy Methyas had grown accustomed to for well over two decades. Were it not for the other symptoms and the astonishingly loud sounds of the combat nearby, Methyas would have assumed he were dead.
Sitting upon the bed it seemed as though the world about him were electric, his own thoughts screaming through his head unrestrained as there was nothing else for the Miraluka to focus on.
They don't trust you. What are you doing here? Why help the darksiders? Do you truly think they accept you? Skywalker should know the truth. You could save your Wife. You don't have to hide anymore. Odan-Urr would take you in. Take control, Locke can't stop you. Think of all the power they've taken from you.
"Enough, enough..." Methyas spoke to no one in particular, his voice pained as the thoughts continued to harass him. Each movement of his body seemed almost foreign in the darkness, his muscles quaking as the Jedi attempted to control his fear, to keep himself from simply breaking down in the midst of the Tarenti's warship.
Explosions tore down the side of the ship, the sound nearly deafening to the Miraluka as he leapt to his feet, his pulse racing as his blood boiled. Each sound seemed to cause Methyas to jump: footfalls down the hall, doors opening and closing, starships racing past and thundering explosions from the engaging fleets. The Miraluka was seriously quaking now, everything frazzled as he stumbled about the room looking for a glass of water or something, anything to calm his shattered nerves.
So much power wasted on such a fragile form. You're not worthy to call yourself a Sadowan. Mirado should have put you out of your misery when he had the chance. Claim what's yours, take control! None can stand in your way; make them pay for this slight! All of these Sith deserve what they've wrought. Such a little baby, afraid of the dark...
"Enough! ENOUGH!" Methyas boomed, his quaking seeming to stop for the moment as took charge, "I need something...something to focus on, I need to meditate."
The Jedi stumbled a few steps further, finally finding a glass and a carafe, pouring himself a drink while expelling a large volume of the liquid across the table and his arm before succeeding in overfilling the glass. Bringing the vessel to his lips with trembling hands, the Miraluka took a sip, the cool liquid going down smoothly. "Water, thank the Force."
Finishing the glass, Methyas set the object down roughly, his usual finesse dampened without the Force, and started back towards where he could recall the bed being. Kicking a chair caused him to bite his tongue, the nearby desk stifled a cry and another chair evoked an expletive before the Miraluka finally found the bed. The well pressed sheets and somewhat comfortable mattress greeting the Jedi as he sat upon it, folding his legs slightly before he took a deep breath. He needed to focus on something besides the loss of the Force, something besides the thoughts now haunting him. It didn't take long for him to find something, taking another few steady breaths and focusing his thoughts on his wife. Memories filled his head as he continued to breathe, his shakes steadily stopping as he slipped into an almost familiar state of being; but it would be enough, for now. Until he was cured though, the others would have to do without him.
Yridia II, Yridia System
“Looks like the Jedi didn’t kill us.”
Archangel growled in response to yet more sarcasm from the Quaestor of Shar Dakhan. A cold sweat covered the half-breed’s skin as his lungs worked slowly to take a cleansing breath. He could feel the plague within him like living fire. Atra had never felt stronger than he now did, but it was wrong. His mind had become distant, crazed, and checkered with spots of insanity. Things were getting out of hand quickly and the young man was unsure what would happen if a cure wasn’t discovered.
“I’m going to escort the civilians, I could use a hand—“
Raiju’s words were cut off quickly as the large form of the Fist’s Praetor stomped past, an almost feral growl escaping the man’s lips before he spoke.
“I’m going to kill something.”
The embodiment of Wrath charged down the ramp and into the chaos of the city. Enemy troops had already landed and intel was slim. Atra didn’t like not knowing, and it was a sentiment that his fellow Sadowan shared as Kalia tried to steady her fevered mind.
Once more the female Sith touched the tender wound at her side. The pain had faded as the plague intensified but she was still unsure if she could even trust herself in all out combat. Feeling eyes upon her the Quaestor of Marka Ragnos snapped her head up, pale blue eyes meeting Atra’s grey for a moment before he turned away.
“I’ll follow our resident juggernaut.”
The Dakhani Templar turned and slipped out of the shuttle in a single, smooth motion. It was almost as if he simply disappeared with how quickly he had left. Kali nodded slightly, knowing he was already gone but wanting to acknowledge none-the-less. She could coordinate better alongside Raiju and, as much as she hated to admit it, her counter-part was better suited for handling Archangel if things got out of hand.
It was a terrible time indeed, a time when the no one could truly be trusted. They couldn’t even place faith in their own sanity as the plague twisted their minds into something sub-human and crazed. Fear, tangible and real, had fallen upon the once proud members of the Brotherhood. Whether they survived or lived long enough to lose themselves seemed the only options.
Stepping out into the open, Kalia’s armor flashed crimson in the light, as if burning with inner fire. Her jaw was set and every action screamed conviction.
“Listen up! If we’re evacuating I will not have any wasted efforts!” Cold eyes snapped to the nearest commanding officer as the lone Jedi moved to run escort duty. “You are to form a line, each man between the civilians and the incoming forces. I will not accept anything less than your lives before you allow them through.”
The officer stood in stunned silence for a moment as he gazed upon Kalia. Mixed feelings rattled his mind as he wondered who the hell she thought she was. Slowly, he measured his options as he gazed upon her conviction and attire. The voice of survival at the back of the officer’s mind screamed for his compliance. It was a voice he often listened to.
Turning to relay the orders the officer put his back to the Sith, a slight grin spreading over her crimson lips as she turned back to oversee the area. If they were going to be sacrificial beasts, she would be damned if they didn’t have claws.
ISD-II Magnus Kaerner
House Tarentum Fleet Flagship
Yridia II, Yridia System
It was a vice. A cold, hard grip. It enveloped him. Embraced him. And he was powerless against its will. Nothing was within his reach. He could barely feel the effects of the Force. It was something he — and every other Force-user — took for granted. That much was evident, now. It was what the Dragon could only conceive as an alloy of anguish. That grip, the vice-like, crushing embrace, and its counterpoint: the great void, the hollowness in his being.
He batted away a renegade blaster bolt and turned to Xen’Mordin, Palatinae Quaestor, and Scion, the trusted Tarenti.
“Hav–” The Arconan Consul shook his head, feeling thoughts heretofore non-existent creep into his consciousness. “Have we located Anshar?”
“We can’t seem to coordinate his position.” Scion ran a hand through his long, white beard and contemplated. A bead of claret ran from his nose, clinging to the bristles on his upper lip. Another bead seemed to collect at the corner of his mouth. They didn’t have much time. And they all knew it.
“Okay,” Wuntila patted Xen on the shoulder and turned, guiding the Palatinian Quaestor around with him, “Scion can give us the directions whilst he tries to pinpoint Anshar. We can then launch to the surface, using Scion’ guidance.” The Dragon of Selen peered over one shoulder, “Does that seem satisfactory, Scion?”
“Aye.” The Tarenti replied, busying himself with the datapad in front of him.
“Then it is settled,” Xen chimed in. “We move for the hangar bay before this… affliction inhibits us too much…”
The two men disappeared into the turbolifts and down into the belly of the Brotherhood’s most famous capital ship.
Their destinies were in the hands of Scion.
The tri-winged fighter rolled over its axis in a dizzying action. Where the Force would have buffered some of the motion, he was left without that comfort. The Sith could not help but feel nauseous. The sickness was beginning to hit him forcefully. Hammerhead squadron had formed a defensive screen around the Tarenti Flagship, hoping to hold out for long enough for them to escape. Yet, Thran knew the necromancers would not abandon their home so easily. It earned them the slightest respect in his book. He would not have abandoned the Cocytus system, if it were not for the commands of the Emperor, why would they abandon their home?
The TIE’s engines screamed as he targeted a flight of inbound TIE Avengers. Their enemy was well equipped. Their ships were the best that the Galactic Empire had to offer. Even their TIE Interceptors had been outfitted with shields. Giving an Interceptor pilot shield made them particularly dangerous. Where they would have charged in recklessly and swiftly met their doom, shields gave them the opportunity to turn and make another pass. The small fighter group House Tarentum could provide was no match for the overwhelming force of the enemy ships, but they fought their hardest.
The Tarentai navy had designated the Enemy flagship “The Halberd”. It was an apt name, given that they would soon be pierced from afar, without having caused much damage to the enemy fleet. Thran jerked back on his stick sending his craft roaring around the underbelly of the Imperial Class II Magnus Kaerner. The enemy Avengers had been sent with the expressed mission of destroying the enemy fighter screen and with their numbers the task would be a simple one. The Ace pilot adjusted the focusing range of his quad laser cannons and set them to alternating linked fire. The top laser on the right and the bottom laser on the left would merge 100 meters off his bow and upon depressing the trigger again, the alternate weapons would fire at the same range.
The TIE Avenger was a deadly craft in its own right and with a good pilot it could easily best the superior technology aboard a TIE Defender. The enemy would need a pilot of inhuman ability to best the Son of Palpatine. On one occasion he had caused an entire wing of Pirates in Z-95s to flee in terror. Had they not fled, he would have wiped them all out. There was no doubt that behind the controls of this TIE beast, he was a God among men. He need not wipe these enemies out himself, he need only bide his time.
Sometime soon, the Iron Throne would realize that the Houses were under a coordinated assault and they would muster the might of their fleet. Thran did not know when, but he was certain it would happen. Something in the pit of his stomach new that even the Lion of Tarthos could not abandon the Clans and Houses. His own security depended upon the security of his subordinates.
The Sith stifled the hope that the Fleet of the Iron Throne would be there soon. Hope alone would not keep him alive, he had to destroy some of the enemy fighters. As soon as he found himself behind an Enemy TIE he depressed the fire controls, unleashing lancing streaks of vibrant green lasers. The fighter’s shields flared, absorbing the blasts. The alternating blasts punched through after several cycles. The TIE sparked as it was torn to ribbons. Thran turned his attention to the nearest enemy fighter, when his eye caught his targeting computer. The display read “54 Ships Detected”. The display was a bright green.
He was right; The Iron Throne had answered the enemy incursion.
Yridia II, Yridia System
“This is going to end poorly…”
Atra’s words were lost to the wind as he dove into cover. Blaster – they always had blasters. The Dakhani grit his teeth together from frustration. He couldn’t wield the weapons himself, but everyone else sure as hell could. Without his saber to deflect the incoming blasts, or the Force at his side, the Templar had become a moving target.
That was unacceptable.
A roar followed by crushed sinew and bone drew the half-breed’s attention back to the conflict at hand. Despite at an earlier stage of infection, the Praetor that Atra had trailed seemed lost to its control. Rage was clearly something the man had relied on heavily to fuel his power, and now it fueled his mind with a sea of red. Someone had to pay for this transgression upon them, and without a direct assailant to assault it was clear Archangel had labelled any soul unfortunate enough to be in his path as an effigy.
Truth be told, it was a concept Atra was finding enticing as well. With a grunt of conviction the Quaestor launched from cover, activating the electrostaff he had retrieved from the equipment bay before departure. The staff spun with deft skill, a blur of motion as it swung to and fro between targets. Each point of contact was punctuated with static sparks as the staff discharged. For all his size, Atra was truly dexterous, and his mastery of the staff was certainly on display as he moved as a blur.
Whether through cognisant thought or happenstance, the pair had become an ambushing death squad; they pounced on any roaming squad that happened to have moved away from the main force. Despite the half-breed Corellian’s usual reluctance to kill, dead bodies were certainly piling up. Still, even with the plague fueling them they wouldn’t be able to keep the offensive up for long. Hope was something they couldn’t afford. Hope was something that was lost.
Reinforcements weren’t coming.
This grim realization had set in long before they had committed to combat. It was a reality they had accepted. Through the rage, Archangel appeared to shout something to his companion, as if only now realizing Atra was there. The action pulled the Quaestor’s attention just long enough for his world to become pain.
A bolt of energy scorched through the air with a scream before heat surged out from Atra’s throat. The man stood stunned for a moment, rocking back and forth before his muscles went limp. Despite the plague, the pain was exquisite as the world went black. It was only in the moments of clarity before unconsciousness claimed him that Atra realized the darkening of the world was from the shapes growing larger overhead, blotting out the sun as if a flock of birds.
I wonder just how much Firrerreon I have in me… The half-breed thought to himself solemnly as the world faded away.