Keto's Vengeance Run On
Fang Ao Tian
Fang Ao Tian walked toward his office in Gryffon Prison, one hand tugging at the collar of his military uniform. Though he was uncomfortable in the smothering robes many Dark Jedi wore, that was nothing compared to the discomfort of the starched, pressed, and too formal uniform.
When he finally walked into the office, he glanced at the little red, black, and white droid sitting in a corner. The droid swiveled its transparisteel head to regard the Kiffar and began to hover toward him.
"Everything is secure on this end, boss," the droid said in its too human voice.
Fang nodded and sat behind his desk, regarding the holoprojector on its surface. He hesitated to turn it on, knowing that to do so would bring him in direct contact with one of his superiors. Things had, more or less, quieted down on Morroth, and Fang did not relish the thought of anything upsetting the momentary peace.
He finally reached forward and pressed a button, bringing into life a holographic representation of Kal Vorrac. The quaestor and battle team leader stared at each other in guarded silence for several long moments, both trying to read the other while not giving anything away themselves.
"Greetings," Fang said at last, nodding respectfully, "I did not expect to hear from you this day."
"No doubt," Kal said absently, clearly not interested in any small talk, "A most unusual situation has come up, and I require the services of Keto's Vengeance to deal with it."
Fang smiled faintly. "I had assumed as much," he replied, leaning forward a bit, "Tell me about this situation."
"Approximately sixteen hours ago, sensors have detected a ship far out beyond Morroth. It seemed to be barely moving, so I ordered a probe be sent out to gather information." Kal sighed and glanced at a datapad, then looked back at Fang. "The ship is a MC80 Liberty-type Mon Calamari Cruiser called the Gelnika."
"What is a Mon Cal doing out here?" Fang exclaimed, confusion and worry beginning to work at the edges of his mind.
Kal clasped his gloved hands before him. "That's what I want you and the battle team to find out," he replied, "The ship has been severely damaged and seems to be drifting aimlessly. The shields and engines seem to be offline, one of the wings and many standard weapons have been destroyed, and there are multiple breaches all over the hull, many of them significant."
"Life signs?" Fang asked.
"We can't get a good reading on that," Kal said, his brow furrowing a bit, "We do know that life support is still online for a little over half of the ship, but that's all."
Fang nodded and relaxed a bit. Perhaps this operation would be incident-free. "So when are we departing?"
"I want Keto's Vengeance to mobilize and be at Alpha Base in two standard hours," Kal said, "Once you and your team get here, you'll be debriefed on any updates and issued thinsuits. Those with the aptitude for piloting will take TIE Avengers from Discord Squadron. The rest will fly out aboard the Calm Sea."
"I see," Fang said, shifting in his chair. Now that he knew the details, he was getting anxious. "It will be done."
Kal nodded in acknowledgment. "This is an intelligence gathering information, Fang, but if anyone engages the team, you're cleared to use lethal force. Live capture is preferred, but I know that is not always an option."
"I understand." Fang said, standing and absently smoothing out his uniform.
"One last thing," Kal said, holding a hand up, "I am uneasy about an Alliance ship so close to the clan. I want answers, Fang, but maintaining the secrecy of our presence is paramount."
"Of course," Fang said before both Dark Jedi turned off their holoprojectors. The Kiffar glanced at the pilot droid hovering a few inches off the floor and smirked. "Alright Servo, time to go to work."
Dark lids covered the mysterious eyes of the Warlord as he sat in meditation. His mind was tuned in to his room, the Prison, Morroth, and the Galaxy as a whole. His muscles became tense and his sensory tentacles flared as he dialed in on a distant object, it was like a shadow, creeping through the night, quiet, lifeless, but existent. He felt fear, anger, pain, and death. However there was a false hope that could not be denied. Someone or some thing was clinging to life amidst the carnage, the feeding ground. As his premonition slowly began to fade, his eyes opened as did his ears, to an incoming message on the commlink clipped to his belt.
The veteran Sith heard the familiar voice of his new Battle Team Leader. There was a sense of urgency in his voice, but not desperation. The Kiffar had remained calm and collected as he projected his voice through the tiny device.
"Quejo..." He began. "I want you to get ready for a recon mission. There is a dead ship adrift beyond Morroth, Keto's Vengeance is to investigate. Your talents will be useful when things get out of control." While he hoped for the best and hoped that this mission would be easy, he expected the worst and would deal with it accordingly.
The hulking Nautolan smirked as he rose from the mat he had been kneeling on.
"A dead ship?" Quejo questioned. "The ship isnt dead Sarge....Something yet lives..." He finished, clasping the hilt of his lightsaber to his belt, the carved skulls tied to it's core disappearing beneath the heavy black robes which kept him warm on the planet he was growing to despise.
"How do you know this?"
"A little bird told me...I could be right, I could be wrong, either way I want to be prepared....As you said, my talents will be useful. This leads me to believe that you're expecting things to become....difficult. You said 'when' things get out of control, not if. You may only be a Jedi Hunter but you know something isnt right. You're trained enough to anticipate these things. It's no different than if you were in the morph halls of the Combat Centre. Nevertheless, I'll be your tank..." He finished, turning off his commlink.
As he turned, he waved his hand and the doors to his room slid open. The robes hiding his muscle began to flow in the wake of his self created breeze as he then proceeded to storm down the hallway.
What was it with this clan lately? Kaira had only just settled in and she was about to be sent off on yet another job with her battleteam. It seemed she spent more time away from this prison then she did here. Her quarters were cold like the rest of this world. It would not be so bad leaving if it was not with the whole battle team. She sat on her bed right now wrapped up in a heavy blanket. The orders from Fang were clear but she could not bring herself to unwrap from the warmth of her blanket just yet.
It was time she invested in some warmer cloths she knew but she had not yet had time. Every time she went to look at getting a few hours to go shopping she had been given yet another job to do. Now they whole team was being sent out to check out a dead ship in there clans space. To her it seemed like a job for normal clan military and not the battle team. If Kal felt that he needed to send his battleteam there had to be more to this then a simple recon of a dead ship.
The priestess let her warm blanket fall from her shoulders as she pushed her body off the bed. Now that she was up the cold of the room hit her again. She shivered as she grabbed a few things shoving them into a small pack. Then Kaira turned around to her desk as she reached out to pick up a date pad. It was her own personal pad that she used for her own notes. As she put it into her pack she scanned the room for any thing else she might need. There was nothing else she could think of at that time so she put the pack on her shoulder as she walked form her room.
Kaira headed right for the hanger knowing that Fang would not take kindly to her being late. As she walked into the hanger she did not see any one else right off so she went to stand off to the side and wait for orders. Really she was unclear on how she was getting to the ship they were investigating. This was why she stood there to wait for further orders.
The door connecting the corridors between the turbolift lobby and the hangar, hissed open as the lone figure marched through. He was clad in high boots and black flight suit, wearing the officer insignia of a 1st class lieutenant of the Intelligence Branch, making the suit look almost like a uniform rather than a protective life support clothing. Almost invisible due to the thick layer of shadow that his long shimmersilk cloak provided along with the poor lightning in the corridors, which were still being rebuilded, his lightsaber flashed into view as he walked. Grumpy as ever, Mograine were snarling silently into his comlink, trying to convince the flight control that he and the rest of the battle team were cleared to take off in Discord Squadron’s TIE Avengers. By the time he got into the hangar, he could see Kaira was sitting in the back, waiting for the others. She smiled as she recalled his face, hoping that he would join her, but Mograine waved her off by turning his vision at the series of TIE ships in the hangar, and rather chose to walk over to the line of Avengers.
He closed his comlink after finally talked sense into the flight officer, and tapped his boots in the ground while waiting. He had summoned technicians from the starfighter corps to bring him some special armament for his Avenger for over fifteen minutes ago, and he had expected to see them loading the weapons into one of the ships as he had arrived. After an additional two minutes, he waited until a pair of buzz-cutted men arrived, driving a small hover-truck that had a couple of durasteel crates with them.
“Where the Kriff have you been?” the Sith roared at them. The men stepped off the vehicle and walked toward him. “Look, Lieutenant. Don’t expect packing proton torpedoes with baradium is an easy job. One mistake and we’re all dead…” one of them complained, adding a certain distasteful tone to the word ‘Lieutenant’. Mograine scoffed at the man, as he technically outranked him, but due to the privileges of being both a powerful dark jedi and a member of Keto’s Vengenace, the elite of House Satal Keto, the two ranks between them didn’t matter. “What’s the matter, Lt. Commander? Anything you would want to share with me?” The officer waved his comrade to start opening the missile crates, while he talked to the Sith. “I’m just curious about this ‘test flight’ as the roster says the ships are hold off for, my ships… If you were going on a training mission, you wouldn’t need proton torpedoes, nor the special cargo as you ordered”, the Commander motioned the crates behind him, “You can say that I just don’t like you dark jedi stealing our ships each time you’re going to play aces…” Mograine made a grasping motion with his hand, and the Lt. Commander gasped and grabbed his throat as the windpipe was squeezed shut. “You are questioning my authority?” Mograine asked, with a hint of pleasure in his smooth voice. The Commander gasped violently as he struggled to breathe, not even getting a word out. Mograine let go of his force choke, as the other starfighter marine stopped working with the missiles and ran up to his CO, stuttering “He just don’t know why you are bringing assault armament on training missions, Sir”.
The Commander caught some breath, then pointed his angry and by now red-pink face, after the lack of blood circulation to the brain, at Mograine “You may have jurisdiction here, Sith. But space combat is our job, and should be left to the Navy and the Starfighter Corps”. The dark jedi rolled his eyes, whose irises by now hinted to faint sulfuric color, from the younger officer to the pink-skinned commander. “However, I respect your wishes. Orders are orders…”, the commander said. “Capital, then I suppose I could leave you to finish my ship’s loading, while I join my battle team…” The two men saluted politely, yet quickly due to fear, then turned around to get the work done. Mograine spun his heels and walked in the direction of where he had seen Kaira, his arms clasped formally behind his back.
Sigil 5 - Morroth
The Battlemaster strode calmly into the briefing room, his emerald eyes sweeping over the assembled Dark Jedi of Keto's Vengeance. A smile briefly touched his lips as he considered that name, as he thought of what the future held for the strike team. Placing himself before the group, he looked them all over, from the tiny twi'lek to the enormous hutt. Each and every one of them had their gazes locked on him, on the Sith that had called them here. For this Sith was Kal Vorrac, and they all knew enough of him to be wary of his motives.
"Well, ladies and gentlemen, I doubt any of you has any question as to why you're here," he said, his voice almost sounding bored as it cut through the chill air with a calm, clear note.
"Surely, you'll enlighten us." Fang said to him, eyes locking onto Kal's own with that same challenging stare. "Sir." He added, almost as an afterthought.
Kal let a grin take his pale lips before he continued. "An MC80 Liberty-type Mon Calamari Cruiser with the designation Gelnika has been spotted in our system. It's on the edges, far beyond this planet. Nevertheless, scans reveal that its been adrift for at least five hours, probably more. This cannot be ignored."
"Why is an Alliance ship so close to our system?" Mograine asked, his cold voice carrying similarly to Kal's own. "Do the Jedi know of us?"
"Unlikely," Kaira put in. "If that were the case, we'd have a fleet on our doorstep."
"Shall I continue?" Kal cut in, not really expecting any answer. "I want to know why it's here and what it's doing." Pulling a datapad from his robes, he handed it to Fang, maintaining the intense stare the whole time. "This will give you everything we've got, from the ship's schematics to the data from the probes. You will be utilizing the Calm Sea for those of you who cannot pilot a fighter. Those of you who can will be escorting the Calm Sea with TIE Avengers from Discord Squadron." Glancing between the hulking Quejo and the monstrous Drocko, he couldn't help but grin. "I can't emphasize enough the importance of secrecy here. Defend yourselves and be wary, destroy our enemies, but do not reveal us. Primary targets should be the ship's communications array and engine systems." Walking to the doorway, he glanced back and looked Fang in the eye as the Force passed words between them and only them.
Don't fail me.
Fang Ao Tian
Fang stood behind the Calm Sea's copilot seat, looking out the inky blackness of space. He had never liked entering or exiting a planet's atmosphere, though the logical part of his mind reassured him that the yacht's shields were more than up to the task.
"We're clear," Kaira said from the pilot's seat, glancing at Fang. Though unfamiliar with this particular ship's controls, her hands flowed over the various buttons and switches with a practiced ease.
Fang nodded at her and looked at the diminutive droid in the copilot's seat. Instead of piloting with his hands, which appeared to hang useless at his sides, the droid was hooked into the ship by a single probe-like interface. "Open a channel to the fighters," Fang ordered the droid.
"On it," Servo said, quickly carrying out the order.
"Discord squadron, status report," Fang said once the channel was open.
The first voice to respond was the one Fang most wanted to hear, the leader of the group and the one Fang considered to be the most capable pilot.
"Discord One reporting in, everything's fine," Quejo said, his voice minimized by the communications channel.
"Discord Two," Mograine followed, "Nothing unusual."
The last member of the flight element was quickly to respond. "Discord Three, no problems here," Onteron said.
Fang listened to Discord Four, Five, and Six report in as well. Piloted by capable pilots from the Jusadih military, the latter three Tie Avenger fighters were there more as escorts for the yacht than anything else.
Nodding to himself, Fang turned and walked into the yacht's passenger area. Necal and Tiberius Solidor were sitting at a table, their nervous expressions hinting at their inexperience. Drocko the Hutt dominated the room with both his size and his voice as he talked to a calm, composed Valerian di Plagia Orzon.
Fang opened his mouth to speak to them, but his words were cut off by Kaira's tense voice over the ship's intercom. "Fang, we've got a problem. Some pirates have just come out of hyperspace."
The members of Keto's Vengeance looked at each other with expressions of alarm and surprise. Fang pivoted on his heel and hurried to the bridge. Once again leaning over Servo's chair, Fang read the sensors even as Kaira told him what they said.
"Eight X-Wings and six Y-Wings, plus a pair of Muurian transports," the Human said, her eyes wide.
Fang snarled and hit a button, opening communications to the fighters. "Discord, go on the offensive. The X-Wings are your highest priority. No survivors."
As Fang’s order came through the comm.., Mograine didn’t hesitate to jam the throttle full forward. The TIE Avenger reacted instantly to his command, and kicked forward through the vast space, past the Starwind-class pleasure yacht, Calm Sea, taking point. His intentions were to go head on against the enemy fighters and keep them away from the yacht.
Another TIE joined him at his port side, and Quejo voiced over the comm. channel, “Discord One here, what’s your plan, two?”
“Keeping starfighters away from Calm Sea, you’re joining my wing?” Mograine asked calmly.
“Copy, two. I’m at your side…” the Nautolan replied.
“Good, the rest of us will try taking out one of those Muurian transports. Onteron, care to take the lead?” Fang command from the yacht, placing a huge amount of responsibility at the Protector’s shoulder.
“Yes sir…” came a hesitant reply from Discord Three.
“Good, break at maximum firing range” Fang ordered.
The Plagueian formation kept going forward until they were at maximum range to open fire, and then the entire formation split, the yacht turning slightly to the port side to intercept the Muurian transports, who was obviously trying to flank the battle team’s flight, while Discord Three through Six made a protective crescent pattern around Calm Sea. The only ones who had kept to the original flight path were Mograine and Quejo, flying directly toward the enemy main formation. Two enemy X-wings and one Y-wings had broke to join the Muurian transports, but Mograine believed the friendly starfighter pilots were good enough to be a sufficient escort to Calm Sea.
He turned his gaze directly forward, eyeing the lead enemy X-wing, trying through the force to anticipate his move. A ripple of warning touched his mind, and he alerted Quejo through the force, though he most likely had felt it too, and they both rolled out of the way as the enemies opened fire, Quejo to port, Mograine to starboard. They opened fire from their own cannons, spraying verdant laser at the approaching enemies, while gliding around to dodge the enemy laser storm. They shot past their enemies, angled around to hunt the pirates, only to find the enemy starfighter formation to have turned to follow their friends in engaging Calm Sea. The pirates hadn’t fallen for the bait.
Stang! Mograine thought to himself, and accelerated after them. By the time Quejo and Mograine had reached them, they were in range to open fire at Fang and Onteron’s flight. So far, no ships on either sides had been lost.
“Discord Three here, intercept those incoming fighters! I repeat, break the attack on the Muurian transports and protect Calm Sea at any costs!” Onteron cried over the comm.
“Don’t worry about it Discord Three, me and Mograine can keep those flying-pieces-of-scrapmetal busy” Quejo said, “Lead, just break off and retreat, we’ll handle it”.
“Copy, Discord Three, we’ll—“ Fang got to say before being interrupted by Mograine, “Negative, Lead. Keep on going toward the transports”
There was a series of murmur over the comm., and the battleteam leader asked inquiringly with a hint of irritation in his voice, “Say again, Discord Two? Mograine, have you gone from your mind? Those transports’ armament will tear Calm Sea apart!”
“Fang! Trust me, I’ll handle it, just dodge their fire and press them to put all shields on their bow”, Mograine assured him.
Fang grunted over the comm. and complied, and the yacht turned back to face the hunting transports, which was starting to pepper all they had at the yacht, while it struggled to dodge the laser and projectile missiles. Mograine grinned, and jerked his yoke to the side, swinging his Avenger in at the transports aft. He checked the weapon status, and when confirmed that missiles were ready at the missile tubes, he switched onto manual weapon aim. He steered in behind the transports, decelerating the thrusters, putting his ship in good behind the transports, not too far or too close to them, and triggered the missile launch tubes to open. He then got a perfect hold on one of the missiles, and through the force, threw it out into space, guiding it, and directing it in at the back of one transport. The missile, which he had ordered to have been removed of its guidance package and propellant fuel, was filled with extra baradium. The missile hit the transport, and the entire viewport of Mograine’s Avenger got illuminated with a brilliant argent light of a detonation that had blown the transport into pieces, and slightly damaged the other transport’s port side and forced it to fly out to the side.
There was another series of chatting over the comm., and this time it was of cheer and joy. Then Fang asked coldly, “Mograine… what the kriff was that?”
Mograine grinned, “Shadow bombs, Fang. Shadow bombs…”
The trouble that Kaira seemed to be in at the moment did not seem to faze the young Dark Jedi. She sat in the pilot’s chair as her hands danced over the controls with her copilot, a droid, helping her out when needed. Yet the battle was far from over. They were going to need to defend this shuttle to help keep those fighters off of them. It was not like she had no faith in the fighters with them, it was just Kaira wanted to help them out a bit. The Krath turned her head to her battleteam leader as her mouth opened.
“Fang, get up to the guns. Take Tiberius with you. Help the fighters keep those ships off us. I will do my best to get you in a position for some clear shots, but this ship was not built to be a starfighter.”
Before she finished, she was already turned back around letting her hands dance over the controls. Then with the help of Servo, Kaira started a new strategy to keep the shuttle from getting too much damage but at the same time allowing their guns clear shots. If anyone thought this was easy, they had never flown a shuttle before. Right now all her concentration was on this task; nothing was left to think about other then the battle.