Restricted Access File
Welcome, Dark Brethren.
This is the thread for the competition [HSK] Shot Down. I shall make the opening post tomorrow when the competition begins. In this Run-On, a group of Jusadih's troops are en route to put down a group of rebels when their transports are shot down. While the survivors of the attack are forced to dig in and wait for assistance, it is up to the rest of the House to rescue them before completing the objective proper. This contest will run from tomorrow, the 6th of May, until the 20th.
Here are a set of guideline rules. I can't stop you from breaking them, but know that it will affect your final placing in the event.
1. No God-moding. We are all mortal and have challenges and weaknesses to work around.
2. No killing one another. At least, not without permission. Feel free to kill yourself, if the desire overtakes you.
3. Any enemy Force users will be revealed in main storyline updates. That means no random Jedi/Sith or members from other Clans.
4. Keep to realism and continuity. If it happened in a prior post, work with it. If it couldn't happen in Star Wars, it shouldn't happen here.
5. Wanton slaughter is frowned upon. Our Clan's military doesn't function well when you randomly get mad and decapitate officers.
6. No double-posting. If you posted, give someone else a chance. If it's accidental, simply edit the post to say so.
7. Your character sheet is a complete description of what your character can do, stick to it.
Follow these rules and all should go well. The top posters shall be determined by overall post count, post quality, and adherence to these rules. The top three will be rewarded with Fourth-Level Crescents, and additional rewards may wind up with those who go above and beyond the call of duty. Remember to check back often for updates!
May the Force serve you well!
43 Miles NW from Alpha Base
The rumbling engines of the DX-9 Defiant tore through the howling wind as it flew through the air, its troop bay filled with muffled conversation. The words that passed between the men and women were almost impossible to understand over the roar. It seemed to permeate the very air, filled with tiny rattles and sounds of a starship. Distant memories of Kal di Plagia Vorrac's past drifted to the surface of his mind, identifying a specific rattle from a loose bolt, a minor flaw in an engine housing. The Battlemaster made a mental note to have the ship inspected by living technicians, as droids had clearly missed the flaws. They had probably relied entirely on a damned scanner readout.
Glancing about the ship, the Sith subconsciously noted the differences between the men and women. Their armor was all nearly the same, only a couple of helmets showing a faint adjustment. The Army didn't allow very many non-humanoids, as a matter of equipment. A few had gloves meant for a varied finger count, or an increase in specific body part size. Such changes were simple, a quick change of numbers in the computers of the factory that pumped out the black plastoid armor they all wore. Glancing at the Farghul that stood nearby, his outfit a stark white contrast to the black that seemed to permeate all else. It was snow gear, along with a belt pouch at his hips that held his coiled tail. Only his grey-furred face was clear.
"You seem tense," Kal said, emerald eyes sparkling with thinly-veiled amusement.
"I feel like a fool in this outfit." Necal replied, hand brushing the armory lightsaber on his belt from time to time. "Why are we out here anyways? Isn't this a task for the troops?"
"Your training is nearly complete," Kal said in a voice of boredom, as if he'd explained this a hundred times. "Before you build a lightsaber of your own and become a Knight, I want to see that you can put down dissent."
* * *
The snow was intensifying bit by bit, clouds rolling in over the yellow and orange hues of the twilight sky that Morroth so often had. Here and there, hidden from view, the rebels waited. They lay beneath obscuring blankets, coated in a thin layer of snow, kept warm by the armor and equipment they all wore. As the ship came near, the commander peered out, lifting a pair of electrobinoculars to his nikto eyes.
"Get ready," He whispered, looking back as the men and women slapped clips into rifles or tightened pieces of armor. "We won't get another chance."
They were a ragtag assortment, all wearing armor and gear purchased from black market dealers or refurbished, little or none of it matching and almost all of it modified for cold weather. The Jusadih Independence Coalition had been smashed into small pieces by the War of Ascension, falling into disparity as the Crimson Tide was cast aside. Now, the damned government had found their base, here on the planet furthest from the star called Sigil in the entire system. They couldn't let the usurpers tear apart what they'd struggled to keep together, especially not with the contact at the base. Especially not if what the contact had said was true, concerning the Dark Side of the Force.
"Rockets, into position!" He said over the comlink, watching as the three men turned from the rocks they hid behind and lined up their sights, letting their weapons lock onto the DX-9 that approached.
He watched with bated breath as they waited until the last moment, three rockets blasting forth on tails of smoke just as the ship had passed over them.
* * *
The Battlemaster looked about the others jammed into the transport, noting the other Dark Jedi there. He wore a suit of black armor, insulated like that of the soldiers and only slightly lighter, but was content with his heavy cloak and a speeder mask he had yet to draw over his face. He didn't like relying too heavily on electronics for vision, though they were necessary in the suit to keep his mechanical arm and legs moving in cold weather. His lightsaber, with its pronged end and round pommel, was clipped to his belt in plain view, along with a pair of blaster pistols to go with the hold-out pistols tucked into his armguards and boot. Only the blade was anything near high-powered, though the Sith preferred to rely on precision over power.
Joining him among the Force users onboard were Wuntila, his cobalt-blue face speckled with orange sun spots from his homeworld before he pulled on a black helmet to go with his Obelisk armor, and Fang Ao Tian, dressed in white armor with a helmet closer to that of a snowtrooper. It went with his unorthodox white cloak and silvery hair. Kal doubted he'd need more than two Force users to complement the men and women of the 6th Heavy Weapons company, but he was eager to test his Apprentice's resolve and skill. Besides, it had been too long since he'd been in the field. Looking about, he began idly noting the different weapons used by soldiers. That was, until he felt the prickling in his spine that he knew so well, the Force's warning of danger. It only grew stronger as his fellows picked it up.
"Brace yourselves!" He had almost finished yelling, before the impacts hit the transport.
Vorrac thought he'd counted three explosions, only one of them blasting a fiery hole into the troop compartment before the final sent the ship tumbling. Fang yelled a few words of a mayday into a comlink before he was thrown to the side, the device smashing against a wall. Men and women tumbled and smashed into the walls of the transport, cries of surprise and grunts of pain joining the smell of smoke and the heat of the explosions. Kal barely had time to catch a rung and throw up a barrier of Force energy to protect himself before his head hit a wall and everything went black.
A deep sigh graced the soft lips of the young Rollmaster as she looked over the list of tasks still needing to be completed by the house Journeymen. Her mind was chalked full of ideas for moving forward, yet she wished to talk them over with the leaders of each house. She had come to Morroth with the hope to be able to talk to Kal. However, he was out on some mission that needed to be handled.
It had been hours since they had left and really, Kaira wondered if something had happened. The Krath stood up to stretch. She thought a nice walk might do her some good after the long morning of paper work. With the use of the force, Kaira opened her office door as she headed for the communications office. If she was up, she might as well check in with them to see if they had heard anything from the group yet.
The cold, dank halls seemed even more so since she wasn’t here all the time now. Her new position as Clan Rollmaster had her floating all over the system. For now, she was here helping out with Satal Keto. Tomorrow who knows where she would be. Just then, she rounded a corner to only have three young apprences dart out of the way. With a soft smile, Kaira shook her head and opened the door to the commistions center.
The moment she foced on the room it hit her that she had not seen the room look quit this busy before. Then the voice came over the comm. “MayDay Ship hit….” Fangs voice Kaira thought. He had went with Kal so did this mean that they were in trouble or oly there ship went down and they were pissed off. Would they need help? A million and one questions came to mind.
Then she turned to officer in charge. “I want the last known location of Quaster Vorrac ship. Also I wish to hear the missage again in my office. Please send this to Aedile Kuga and to the clan summit. They will want to know. “
Kaira turned to leave but saw the man just standing there she turned quickly to him with an angry seeming to just float off her. “Did I studder Sir? You have your orders.” Kaira watched the man then get to work without any trouble then.
Necal awoke with a groan; he had not been able to put up much of a defense against the crash, but he had managed to shield the major parts of his body, his feline mobility working in his favor.
Most of his body was rather bruised, and he suspected a minor concussion, if the throbbing in his head was any indication. His shoulder was also in immense pain, though he didn't know whether this was a broken bone, or just an extremely painful bruise. Deciding not to risk it, Necal flooded his arm with the force, feeling the almost narcotic energy flowing through his shoulder. Within a moment, he was, more or less, healed. He didn't risk trying that on the concussion, fearing brain damage.
Necal checked his clothes, looking for blood. He found none, though this was rather heavy and thick; it might have been hidden. He tried to remember how many were on; he could recal himself, his Master, Wuntila.... and fang. He knew there was a company of soldiers with him, but he couldn't remember how many. He thought that they were.... heavy weapons, yes.
Necal looked around; there was a little smoke, but not much. He counted three soldiers in an obviously dead position, one of which had his head separated from his body... two appeared to be dieing, and he didn't think anything could have been done for them. Three were damaged; they would live, but they wouldn't be of any use to them. These were just what he could see, though he suspected that, based on the troops he could see total, that maybe... twenty of the troops were dead or dieing, and plenty were wounded, but only a handful would be useless
He saw that he came out the worst of it among the force users. He just realized he was deaf for a short time; he master was shouting orders, which were just beginning to get through. Wuntila had moved over during Necal's thought processes, and, while Necal didn't make complete sense of what he was saying, he managed to understand the general gist; attacked, defend. Necal nodded, or at least he thought he did, and stood up, rather wobbly and slowly. Fang was cutting a hole in the edge of the craft. Kal yelled to Necal to do the same, creating a second path for troops to leave.
Necal nodded, his hearing mostly back as he could hear the searing of Fangs saber, Kal shouting orders, and Wuntila trying to get the soldiers into better positions. Necal rushed over to the wall on the same side as Fang, positioned his saber about eight inches from the right of his head in a slightly crouched position, and began to cut a circular hole. In a few moments, Fang turned off his saber, backed up, and nodded to Kal. Kal stood in front of the melted circle, three quarters complete, and hit it with a powerful Force throw, breaking it off. Necal understood better; he would get his to about the same, then he would do the same. The soldiers were funneling through Fang's hole, but it would take a while. Necal finished his partial circle, stepped back, and did the same thing as his master, blowing out a section of his own.
The soldiers began to funnel through both, setting up a defense. Fang had gone through the first, probably to defend the troops from opponents. When the holes were clear, Necal, Wuntila, and Kal quickly walked out, Kal drawing a blaster in his left hand, and took the position of commander.
"Get ready! Necal, Fang, Wuntila! I want you out there defending the troops while they prepare!"
Necal then saw what Kal had undoubtedly felt; Rebel troopers. Necal guessed around fourty. They were wearing snow gear, and would be upon the Plaguians and Jusadih military with a few minutes. The force users moved to cover, which was really just under some large snow banks and, for Fang, a big rock. They made sure to stay in between the rebels and home troopers. Within a moment after settling, blaster shots were being fired, an occasional shot being sent back, and a few fired from Kal's pistol.
Kal's saber hand shot outward and he snarled as his telekinetic blast hit an advancing rebel in the chest, the defenseless man flying backward with a crunch of breaking ribs. He ducked back beneath the snow bank as more shots were fired his way, leaning out from the other side to put a round into a rebel's eye. The woman's shriek of pain was ignored as the Sith again ducked away from other blasts. His red blade flashed as it knocked a shot that was too accurate away from his face. Looking back to the transport, he yelled out a few commands as men and women spilled from the holes in its hull.
"Sir!" The CO, a Second Lieutenant, yelled. His accent sounded like it came from Adumar, even through the helmet speakers, "We're getting hammered too hard for standard positions! What do we-"
"Standard positions won't do, Lieutenant," The Sith replied, his eyes beginning to glaze over with a golden hue. "Get your forces organized behind cover, and get something that explodes into that enemy line!"
"Explosives? But sir, they don't have any vehicles deployed! It won't do effective damage to-" Kal growled once as a blaster bolt hit the snow beside his head before impaling his blade into the Second Lieutenant's chest. He pulled it free with a loud crackle.
"You!" He shouted, pointing at a passing soldier with the tip of his weapon. "You're promoted. Get some rockets in there and ready your men. I don't have time for questions right now!"
She nodded, though her body language spoke of horror. "Yes sir!" She shouted, turning to her troops and yelling orders.
Kal turned back to look over at the enemy, who had stepped over those with smoking holes in them without hesitation. Kal shut down his blade, clipping it to his belt and drawing his second pistol. Leaning out, he fired a wild volley into the foes, putting down two and wounding another three before he was forced back to cover. He saw Fang dart from behind a rock for a moment to deflect bolts back at three men, taking one in the shoulder and another two in the abdomen region. Even with this, the battle couldn't last. Even a Grand Master couldn't deflect this many bolts. Looking at the transport, Kal caught sight of troops climbing atop the transport, heavy weapons on their shoulders. One of them took a bolt and fell with a scream, but the other three knelt, lining up their shots in seconds and firing.
"Rockets!" The enemy commander screamed, his men trying to dive aside. They scattered, a handful killed by the explosion as others got free of its range.
The commander's ringing ears barely gave him time to percieve the roar before it began. A glowing spike of blue ripped through a man's chest as another lopped a woman in half as if she were butter, the former running to slice apart another two. A crimson blade thrummed and sparked as it took a twi'lek's arm off, her cry piercing the night as the farghul's boot came around to smash into her jaw. Another red blade darted about, sending an omwat's helmeted head rolling into the snow before rolling elegantly to put deep gashes in the torsos of three other men. The roar turned out to be black-armored troopers, their heavy blasters and explosive rounds joining the Dark Jedi moments after the initial attacks. Men and women alike had body parts sliced to pieces, blaster bolts ripping through them like wasps. Grenades took men and women off the ground and turned them to paste even as the ragtag group struggled to fight back. It was over in a span of a few minutes, the Commander raising his sidearm as the black-armored man with the red lightsaber strode toward him. His bolt shot for the man, who seemed to catch it in his left hand before driving his blade down through the man's throat. He held it there for a moment before letting it deactivate and clipping it to his belt, watching as the commander's mind fell into blackness.
"Get a perimeter set up." Kal said, his voice loud and clear to the troopers. "I want this area swept as best you can. Anything big we have that still works, set it up."
"Kal," Wuntila, who looked battered and bruised but otherwise alright, wore the grim look of a warrior on his face. "We still have a job to do, and we need help."
"Those clouds mean that there's a blizzard coming." Kal raised his right hand, pointing to the eastern horizon. He barely kept himself from wincing as pain shot up his side. "We have wounded and dead to deal with, our transport's karked up beyond all reason, and the enemy could be anywhere."
"Kal's right," Fang said, taking off his helmet and letting his silver hair spill down. "Right now, our best option is to dig in and hold tight. Clearly, we're expected."
"Necal," Kal said, looking around. He got no response. "Necal!"
"I'm here, Master," The Farghul said as he stepped from behind a rock, his red lightsaber still lit and smoking whenever the odd snowflake hit the blade. Kal hadn't known he'd switched to a weapon with a synthetic crystal until now. "Just making sure they're all down for the count."
"Well, stop. Some of them might have useable intel for us." The human replied, his golden eyes receding back to green. "Try to find a working comlink and get us some help." Pointing at passing troops, he shouted, "You and you! Gather up any working tools and patch up the ship as best you can. Wuntila, assist them, and make a more practical doorway. Until we get out of here, that's our HQ."
"Even with our gear, the blizzard is bound to be rough." Fang said to Kal, more quietly now that the others were moving. "We didn't come equipped to sit through it; this was supposed to be a surgical strike."
"I know," Kal replied, taking off his mask and rubbing at his temple with his right hand. "But what choice do we have?"
"None." Fang replied, nodding in agreement. "We'll have to wait it out, take shifts as we can to keep ourselves protected, and hope our gear outlasts the blizzard." Pointing to a couple of troops that were moving to help with the perimeter, Fang yelled to them, his voice strong and commanding. "You two! Get any help you can, and get the seriously-wounded into the ship. After that, I want the dead in strategic piles. They'll help for cover."
"Not all of the dead," Kal said, looking to the men. Fang gave the Sith an odd look. "Anyone who's in pieces, get what you can together and get it stowed away in the ship."
"Sir?" One of them asked, clearly not understanding.
"We'll need fuel for a fire when that blizzard hits." Vorrac replied, wearing a grim expression as the soldier lost his composure. "I don't see any trees around, do you?"
With haste, Mograine connected the last strappings on his boots, before marching out from the Armory. He was clad in an all-black winterized jumpsuit with light armor plates on his torso and his traditional black cloak, and in addition, Mograine carried a full-face mask to protect him from the cold. While pacing at a rapid speed through the armory exit, he clipped his lightsaber to his belt and connected his comunit to his right ear. Outside the armory, he met Vazh Kessler, lieutenant in Morroth’s Wind’s 13th Line Company, and a soldier, whom Mograine had served with at several prior occasions. While forgetting about the formalities, Mograine continued walking down the hall, quickly followed by the lieutenant.
“Are the men assembled?” the battleteam commander asked, referring to the men under Kessler’s command. “Yes sir. First platoon of the 13th is ready to go, while the rest will join with the rest of the reinforcement”.
Mograine nodded. The moment he had heard about the accident he’d called Kessler to assemble as many of his men as they could bring on short notice. Command still spent time organizing the rest of the 4th Line Battalion to support their 6th Heavy Weapon Company, and while working as fast as they could, it took time. Time that Mograine didn’t think they have, so he’d assemble a smaller force that could get out there in the meanwhile. Stepping into the vehicle garage, Mograine noticed a group of a total of forty men, all wearing the same standard issue black armor of the Plagueian military. The men, who had been standing at ease until Mograine and Kessler arrived, jumped into attention when noticing their arriving superiors
Mograine told the men to stand at ease again, before addressing, “Okay, we got the 6th Heavy Weapons shot down approximately fifty miles north-west of us, and the organizing of reinforcement are going too slow for my taste, so I think it would be best to lend the 6th some help until the cavalry arrives”. The men all nodded and agreed to Mograine’s suggestion.
“However, there’s an incoming blizzard on the way, and our speeders might fail due to the cold out there. I cannot guarantee that all of you might live through the trip up to the 6th, and we cannot afford to slow down to pick up the ones falling behind on the way up there…” Mograine said before pausing, and he could hear some of the men whisper among each other, “…I won’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself, so if you rather want to stay back and wait for better transports, you’re free to go”. When there was no one protesting in the short silence that followed, Kessler stepped forward and ordered the men to go start their speederbikes.
Kessler tapped Mograine on his shoulder and signaled him to the garage door leading back to where they’d come from. Just walking in the door was an Army officer of captain rank. The captain walked up to the duo standing in the middle of the garage, “Commander Mograine, I do not recall ordering you to take a division of the 4th Battalion’s men and go up there on your own” he sneered at Mograine.
The commander arched a smile at the Captain, “No you did not, Captain, but since you didn’t take the initative to do so, I did it myself”. The Captain stepped forward, “Commander, even if you’re dark jedi, you have preceded your authority in the Jusadih Army, and I’m countermanding your orders to the men”.
Mograine stepped a foot closer to the Captain, their eyes meeting, and Mograine put some of his anger into his voice, “Do that and I’ll make sure the words never escapes your mouth”. The Captain stepped back, his face reflecting both fear and outrage, and he cursed, “Bloody dark jedi! This will go down into my report, Commander. Mark my words…”.
As the captain left the garage, Mograine turned to see all of the men stood ready with their own speeder bikes, and at the head of the formation, there was a couple of empty bikes that had been turned on to the two officers. “Nice touch, Mog, but you’ll get your ass grilled if there’s no one alive up there” Kessler said, as they walked toward the bikes. “Tommorow’s problems…” Mograine answered without any worries in his voice.
It had been roughly half an hour since the Rebel attack. Necal had found a communicator, made sure it worked, and contacted Alpha Base. Help was on the way, though he had given the communicator to Kal first, in order to allow him to get all the details and any new information.
Tensions were high among the troops, though that was understandable; Necal doubted that it was in the men's training to pick up their dead and use them as fuel for fire. The usage of them as defense was expected, and the usage of them as fuel was.... logical, if not expected. Still... the smell of burning hair was apparently fowel to the Men, though Necal rather liked it. Their equipment had been taken off, and used as extra padding, both for the living men, and for the improvised barricades. The bodies were being cooked one by one, so as not to waste them, which meant that all the guys resting at that moment had to be in the same room, with no ventilation. They didn't complain. It was better than sitting around in the cold. They were all given short periods of rest. Enough to keep them from being overworked, but not enough to make them slow. Even when their rest was finished, they would still be useful.
Necal, Fang, and Wuntila were not allowed to rest. Kal, being in charge and keeping order, did not rest. The men were about half way through a resting period when Kal's head snapped to the left. Necal had been on guard duty, and he figured he heard the approaching rebel troopers a moment before Kal felt them, if the fact that he picked them up and heard Kal shout at roughly the same time was any indication.
"Troops! Get ready!"
The Jusadih military readied their weapons; all fights would be defensive till they got reinforcements, and the troops would rely mainly on the Force users. Kal, Fang, Necal, and Wuntila activated their sabers, Kal drawing his blaster a second time. All were hidden behind defensive positions, prefering not to give away their positions until necessary. More than likely the rebels did not know the specifics of the Jusadih troops and the Plaguians. Behind him, Necal could see Fand and Kal, meaning Wuntila had the front most position. Unless Kal said something, Wuntila would decide when the battle begins. Wuntila decided.
A scream of pain and the searing of a lightsaber was heard throughout the field. The shouts of the rebels retreating to prepare a proper attack were given, though they were not retreating long. Blaster shots were quickly fired, most of which ended up hitting the barricades of dead bodies, some went off in random directions, and a handful were deflected. But it wasn't enough; this was a much larger force. Necal had noticed a few blaster bolts flying toward the enemy, more than could be accounted for by the efforts of the Dark Jedi. Necal figured it was their troops.
Necal stood up, and ran out of cover. Deflecting a few blaster bolts, Necal aimed a blast of force energy toward the ground, throwing snow up in the air and forming an impromptu smokescreen. The four force users rushed through this improvised shield of snow, directly going after the rebels.
They seemed to unconsciously split up into three groups; Kal and Fang rushed into the center, with Wuntila and Necal taking the left and right respectively. On his side, Necal rushed toward a human on the fringe of the battlefield. Deflecting two bolts along the way, Necal stabbed the human through the chest. Grabbing the front of his armor, Necal used the corpse as a shield, deflecting the handful of bolts that might have hit him even with it. The Farghul continued in this manner, getting close to an enemy and slaying them, with one of their fellows as a shield. He failed, however, to acknowledge all the battlefield, and had to block a shot on his left with the body, which left his front open. When more shots came, one of which managed to get past him and hit his left arm, he dropped the corpse, and veered to the side, staying on the fringe so that he would not get surrounded. His ears picked a human, male voice shouting for a retreat. When he saw the rebels begin to run, he was glad; he could not have kept that up for that much longer.
This time he did not delay himself with the not yet dead; he rushed back to the camp, and awaited the orders of his Master.
With a quick flick of the wrist, Wuntila ordered the attack on the rebel forces. The seemingly choreographed divide into the three strike groups by the Dark Jedi occurred instinctively, with Wuntila holding the left flank. The visibility was extremely impaired as the onset of the Blizzard provided cover for the Dark Jedi. Wuntila heavily thudded across the fresh snow, his lightsaber spinning in his left hand as he ran. A prism of colours in the form of blaster bolts relentlessly peppered Wuntila’s location as he circled round behind the attacking force, far beyond the accepted fighting boundaries. Batting the bolts back in the opposite direction, Wuntila trudged closer to the strike team that had assembled to halt his flanking manoeuvre; the blue haze of his lightsaber, arcing and rejecting bolts, was the only thing visible to the strike team of rebels, fully assembled and waiting.
The low hum of the lightsaber was the only thing he could hear, his mind peaceful and eyes half closed as he approached. The battlemind fine-tuned his senses and almost slowed time to a dead halt when Wuntila struck. His first victim was knelt on the floor as Wuntila dropped down and thrashed his legs from under him with a powerful sweeping roundhouse kick. Upon rising, Wuntila spun anti-clockwise elegantly severing his next opponents hands from his forearms, before forcefully pushing his lightsaber blade into the back of the first opponents head, who was, by this time, trying to claw to his feet. An air of rage could be felt through Wuntila’s chaotic, yet controlled form; the blizzard ran snowflakes forcefully through his wiry hair which was replicated in Wuntila running his saber through the chests of two more opponents. He glanced over his shoulder to see the outline of Necal, consumed by large patches of snow clinging to his smooth mane, running his red blade through a rebel’s chest. This slight lapse of concentration on Wuntila’s behalf only acted to his detriment as he turned to see a rebel’s head, only inches away, erupt in a charred ball of fleshy tissue; a quick glance at Kal to receive a wink was the only thing he needed to acknowledge, as Kal had saved him once more.
Wuntila was at home on the battlefield, and this was shown through his mastery of the blade; as Kal and Fang tore through the ranks of the rebels and Necal punctured the right hand side, Wuntila was able to flank the regiment of varying skills, eclectic mixes of salvaged armour and differing weapons, driving a hole deep into the centre. The form produced by Wuntila’s battle meditation was almost mesmerising as he dipped and leant into strikes, strategically slashing and slicing the full 360 degrees around his body.
The retreat had been sounded and Wuntila watched as the densely populated area around him faded into the blizzard, quickly chased by blue blaster bolts and a line of advancing Brotherhood troops.
“Wuntila,” Kal shouted, “Get over here.”
“Yes, Master?” Wuntila inquired, still lugging his mammoth body towards Kal.
“None of that flashy crap again.” Kal said, turning with Fang to return to the makeshift bunker established only hours before.
Upon arrival at the base, things had stretched from bad to worse as the numbers of wounded and dead rose. The stench of burning flesh singed up the noses of all within a two-mile radius of the camp.
“What’s the report, Necal?” Kal asked, knowing full well that Necal had returned to the camp first.
“Wounded numbers have risen, Master. As for the dead…” Necal looked out vacantly to the battleground, where one could clearly make out the bodies of several of the brotherhood troopers. “This is Sergeant Ashemi Takkar, the private you promoted and ordered to take hold of the situation, Master. She’ll fill you in.”
Kal and Sgt. Takkar walked slowly towards the centre of the crash site as the three remaining Jedi found cover under the twisted metal of Defiant’s hull.
“Come in, Alpha Base,” Necal shouted down the comlink as Fang prepped Wuntila on the defence of the makeshift command centre. Wuntila swiftly proceeded to jog into the miasma of white and establish a more effective defensive line with the mounted repeating blasters from the Heavy Weapons Company.
“Any luck?” Fang asked, his Malkii dialect resonating through.
“None as of yet, Master Fang,” Necal said, tapping the comlink on his head. “None as of…”
“13th Company on their way, hang in there…” A static voice rang through the comlink, cut off by the increasing veracity of the blizzard. Upon receiving the message Necal and Fang were stunned by an almighty resonating clank. They looked up to see yet another battalion of rebels approaching from the South-West, this time accompanied by a 2-M Saber-class Repulsor Tank.
“Situation hostile!” Necal screamed down the comlink, also intended to warn the surrounding troops.
Kal, already approaching Necal and Fang, saw them both take defensive positions behind the now established lines of repeating blasters and sprinted to their position. Before he could make it to the dip in the snowy plateau; however, a renegade blaster bolt struck him, blasting through the wall of repeating blaster fire and colliding with his right-hand side. Kal toppled into the two Dark Jedi, burying himself in the snow, motionless.
For a few seconds, pain was all Kal knew. It flashed in his side, a focal point of heat that lit every nerve ending within a foot of it on fire. He groaned as he landed in the snow, only the spasm of pain keeping the hilt of his lightsaber in his hand as the blade flashed away. He became momentarily blind, deaf, and dumb as it overwhelmed his mind, only to reawaken to the world and give his head a shake as the freezing snow and wind began to seep into his body. Even with insulated armor, one couldn't lay in the snow, especially with a breach in the side.
"Sir!" He heard, looking up to see a helmeted head. The words sounded like they had a Huttese accent, or maybe Weequay. "Sir, are you alright? Sir!"
"Calm yourself." The Sith hissed, growling from the dulled but persistent pain. "I'm still here. What happened?"
"You've been shot. Looked like a long-range bolt." The soldier began pulling him up, his black-armored hands wrapping around Vorrac's left arm. "Let's get you up."
"I'm fine." Kal said to him, pulling free of his grip. As he did so, he groaned, another spike of pain bursting out in his ribs.
The trooper caught him, even as he put his gloved right hand to the wound. It came away bloody, to match the red pool where he'd been laying. He growled as he saw it. He was no stranger to wounds or injuries, from the slight to the extreme. Now, however, he had to rely on another, someone he'd just met. Paranoia set into his mind as he nodded to the trooper, letting the man help him up and walk him over toward the makeshift HQ. Anyone could have sent this man, just another Force-deaf pawn. He could die in the snow and none would notice. Except...
"Fierfek!" The trooper yelled as a blaster bolt sizzled past their heads, smashing into the durasteel of the Defiant. "Hold on, sir!" He shouted, setting Kal down against the ship and lifting his rifle as he turned.
The man was a blur of activity as he pivoted, firing a burst of shots into one oncoming enemy before turning to put two down with excellent headshots. Dropping the clip and slapping a new one in, the man booted a thrown grenade just before it exploded about ten feet from his position. Turning to the man firing, he knocked him backward with a burst to the chest before rolling aside from two more shots. As he stood, he shot an omwati woman as two smaller bolts smashed into a whiphid beside her and what looked like a combat-modified protocol droid. Looking back, the soldier saw Kal, his eyes gold through his visor as his pistol smoked.
"What's your name, trooper?" Vorrac asked, gasps coming from his lips.
"Unus, sir." The man said, checking his rifle. "Unus Domus. It means..."
"Sorry to interrupt," The voice of Necal yelled from a distance away, "But we've got a pretty karking big problem here!" His words were followed by the report of a laser cannon as it punched a hole in the side of the Defiant, mere feet away from Kal's head.
"Unus, you need to get me in sight of that tank." Kal yelled, his ears ringing.
"Sir, we need to get you inside and patched up." Unus replied, still roving about.
"We need to get rid of that tank before it puts a missile into the fuel tank!" Kal replied. "I can heal after the fight, but for now we've got a battle to win!"
The trooper looked undecided for a moment, but Kal focused, nudging his mind to push him toward a decision. Unus nodded, lifting Kal onto his shoulders before trotting to the back of the transport. Hurling Kal up onto a missile launcher, he quickly jumped and dragged himself up before lifting Vorrac yet again and running to the highest point. Setting him down, he looked about before cursing.
"We can barely see it here." He said to the Sith. "We'll just have to hope that..."
"I can find it, soldier." Kal replied. "Go, find anyone with a lightsaber and give them cover."
Unus looked undecided for a moment before nodding, jumping off of the transport and rolling across the snow. Kal nodded to himself as he went. He was definitely a Weequay, and Force-sensitive, though untrained. Furthermore, he was dangerous and well-trained, full of discipline. Focusing back onto the task at hand, Kal stretched out his senses, feeling the operator of the saber tank, the faint pulses of its machinery and deflector shield. It was barely damaged, too powerful for the ordinary soldiers in the blizzard. It was time to change that. Reaching out to it, Kal focused all of his anger, wrath, and pain into fuel for the Dark Side. At first, the machine only listed to the side, its left repulsor lifted from the ground by Kal's telekinesis. Sweat broke on his brow beneath the mask, his concentration broken by the pain in his side.
"Come on..." Kal snarled, trying to lift the tank higher.
The vehicle groaned, its missiles firing in surprise to sail high over the ship as it lifted into the air. Kal glanced to the right, seeing Fang's hands lifted, his telekinetic abilities helping Kal's. The ship lifted high, its weapons still firing madly as surprised soldiers shouted and pointed. Only the rifle of Unus kept Fang from being shot, but it gave Kal the time he needed to communicate. Flip it, he projected, the thought entering Fang's mind. He acknowledged it with a nod, seconds before the ship seemed to roll in the air. Fang and Kal broke away simultaneously, watching it fall and land in the snow. Tian wasted no time, leaping atop its unprotected bottom and slicing a hole into the transport. The crew was dead before they could finish screaming.
Kal grinned, moments before he sensed danger. Forcing himself to roll over and drawing his sidearm, he saw the form of Necal standing over him, saber lit at his side. "Master."
"Necal," Kal said, eyes wide and wary. "Help me up. I need a bacta patch." As the Farghul approached him, Kal unclipped his lightsaber, waiting until his student couldn't see to slip it into his palm. Pointing the emitter at the feline's back, he kept his thumb on the activation stud as the pair entered the ship. The Force had warned him of danger at Necal's approach.
The Force didn't lie.
Du’moth had been training for hours when he was summoned to Rollmaster’s office. He didn’t know Kaira to well but having spoken to her a few times they were as close as anyone Du’moth had bothered to be social with. Friends only weigh you down He thought as he walked down an almost empty hall. Passing by the communications office, he could have sworn he head a distress call. But that was not why he was summoned. He knew that Kaira was going to have him flogged for the behavior he showed on his last mission but he hoped with that distress call he would have no problem getting out of trouble yet again.
As he strode into Kaira’s office he noticed that she was sitting at her desk hastily going over documents and listening to a message all over again. It was a report from Kal’s unit if Du’moth was correct on his guess. But is sounded as though he was in trouble. Du’moth chuckled as the Rollmaster looked up, “Has the all mighty Kal Vorrac gone and given himself a cut again Kaira?” The Clawdite said, but seeing the look on her face brought a snarl to his lips, but keeping himself silent he knew that this was going to be a long day.
“It’s about time you showed up Du’moth” Kaira spat, apparently he had no sense of time. “I said for you to be here over an hour ago and you still defy orders and take your time when members of your battle team are in danger.”
Raising his eyebrows Du’moth swept into a mock bow and strode up to the Rollmaster’s desk placing his hands face down and looking straight at Kaira. “Now why don’t you tell me what has been going on with members of my battle team to I can decide whether I should give my help.” Du’moth said with a snicker.
Kaira took a deep breath steadying her anger and looking back at the Clawdite. “Very funny Du’moth but like every other Dark Jedi in the brotherhood your to have to follow orders when they are assigned.” She knew that if there was another choice to send with the platoon in the hangar bay that she would send someone else and have Du’moth serve a nice long sentence in a cell thinking about his attitude but for now that must wait. “You’re to report to Mograine in the hangar, I’ve already sent word to him that you would be under his command and he has permission to use any force necessary to get you to cooperate.”
Du’moth snarled as he turned his back. At least it’s Moraine, he thought as he walked out of the Rollmaster’s office before she could finish, turning he walked down the corridor, one quick stop and he would be in the hangar bay willing to help. He stopped at the armory, suiting up in his snow gear he wore his usual black and red armor but with one simple change it was weather proofed to even withstand a Morroth blizzard. He had seen to that, although he was not satisfied with being sent out again he knew that if Kal was in trouble then there would be heavy resistance. Grabbing his Relby-K23 blaster pistol, Sorosuub GLX “Firelance” blaster rifle, and his specially made Xerrol Nightstinger he slung them on his back and ran out to the hangar bay knowing that Mograine would want to waste no time getting to Kal with reinforcements.
“Mograine?” Du’moth shouted over the roar of speeder bikes.
“Finally you arrive Du’moth” Mograine shouted back as he pointed to a speeder bike on his flank.
So I’m going in blind am I Du’moth thought as he hopped onto the bike. Well if that’s the case then I’m more then prepared. As he started up his bike he saw Mograine motion to have his troops move out. Du’moth’s last thought before being hit with a wave of freezing cold was that he was glad he always kept his saber on him now.
Approximately 35 miles NW from Alpha Base
In the middle of the desert of snow, a group of forty or so speederbikes rode forward in a double-column formation. At the double-column’s spearhead there were three speeders leading the group, two of which was dark jedi and members of Keto’s Vengeance, while the last one was Lieutenant Kessler. The ongoing blizzard was making it hard to see anything but within a forty feet radius, and Mograine couldn’t even see the rear of the speeder column behind him. But he could clearly as day feel them, or at least what remained of it. The last couple of miles, one after one, men had felled back in the formation all until falling behind it entirely, probably an outcome of the immense cold in the blizzard. Mograine could feel his own engine was slowly failing on him, and that he not in too long, had to come to a halt himself.
Even with a full-face mask on, Mograine could feel the ice cold air enter the air filter on his mask and fill his lungs. The cold air made his blood freeze, and Mograine felt the unsettling chill creep up his back. This was not only due to the fact that they were riding through a planet of snow and ice, but also because there was danger ahead and around them.
“Commander, how do you know that we’re heading into the right direction? I for one wouldn’t spot a Wampa before impaling it on my bike’s handlebars” a sophisticated Coruscanti accent cracked over the com.
“The Force, Vazh. While I can’t determine exactly where, I do know they’re not too far ahead, and that they’re in trouble” Mograine replied.
“Could you feel yourself to a warm meal?” Vazh joked.
“Could we focus on the mission and our survival, perhaps? My speeder is failing…” Du’moth snapped, and you could hear Vazh’s disapproving snort at Du’moth’s remark.
“Alright, Du’moth. Mine’s failing as well; we’ll proceed on foot, men” Mograine ordered, and the group came to a halt, and dismounted their vehicles.
Finally getting a chance to regroup, Mograine could count that they had lost seven men on the ride so far, and now they had to walk a couple of miles in snow varying from ankle-to-knee- height. For a couple of seconds, doubt hit Mograine’s mind, and he wondered if he had led forty men and himself into a certain doom. But he couldn’t stop now. He couldn’t let his men down. With a reassuring tone and a bolstering nudge in the force to increase the morale, he turned to his men and yelled: “Okay, gather your stuff. Tight formation, march-speed!” The men, clearly bolstered by the reassuring tone of their commanding officer, regrouped at a tight formation behind Mograine, and the group head about again into the hazy blizzard. As they walked, Mograine ordered them to keep regular check-ins through the com. He didn’t want anyone passing out, so they were going to help out the most fatigued one, and even after two miles, walking in the cold blizzard, most of the men seemed to at least coping well. That was until there was a red flash, coming from their left side, followed by a thzaat-sound.
“Sniper!” one man called out, as the man behind buckled due to a large scorch-hole in his helmet. The formation broke, and everyone ran to the pile of snow closest to them. The sniper shot out once more, while they ran, and another soldier fell down. Beside Mograine, covered behind a meter high snow-pile, Du’moth prepared his own Xerrol Nightstinger. Mograine let out a heavy-breath, as the attack had come all too un-expected on them, and he was puzzled why he hadn’t been alerted in the Force.
“The Sniper is somewhere to our eleven o’clock. Around five hundred meters…” Mograine told his clawdite companion.
“I’ve noticed…” Du’moth returned, his voice filled with arrogance and pride.
“Well, make sure to calibrate to the wind, the blizzard is making it ha-…” Mograine began saying, when a sudden sense of imminent danger erupted into his mind. He ducked, as a blaster bolt sizzled past his head. Behind them, a group of perhaps ten white-clad rebels ran up to their own covers and opened fire at the various groups of soldier and dark jedi behind the snow-piles, now lying in the middle of the kill zone. As more bolts came at them, Mograine jumped forward, igniting his lightsaber. Although the snow was making it harder to move, Mograine easily deflected the incoming blaster fire, covering Du’moth and four other guys behind him. While Du’moth looked out for the sniper, Mograine and the rest of the men could focus on the new group of enemies. Four additional men had fallen over at Vazh’s group, and more went down, either by sniper fire or fire from the rear enemy group. Mograine cursed, and yelled at one of the men behind him to throw a grenade to the ten enemies behind them. Snow exploded to all sides as grenades were exchanged between friends and foes the next couple of minutes, and Mograine had tried as good as he could, to re-direct incoming grenades either to the sides or back again at the enemies.
Du’moth, who had been sitting and calibrating his shot at the sniper, finally got a clear shot at the faint silhouette that had occasionally reappeared in the blizzard. Then a large and clearer silhouette appeared in Du’moth’s scope, completely swallowing the figure of the sniper whole. “What the heck?” Du’moth asked himself, as the ground rumbled deeply.
Meanwhile, Mograine had worked himself closer to the enemy group behind them. Seeing the incoming dark jedi, most of the ten rebels were focusing their fire at him, making his progress toward them slower and slower for each step he took. Luckily, a group of the remaining soldiers of the 13th Line Company, were flanking the enemies, and from time to time, gave Mograine an opportunity to decrease the proximity to the enemy group as well. Then Mograine felt a deep tremor in the ground beneath his feet, followed by more intensified tremors. . He wanted to peer over his shoulder, but the intense blaster fire at him, prevented it. Then a familiar voice cried out: “Mograine, watch out!” Mograine kicked off the ground, as he heard Du’moth’s warning, and while flying in a backward-somersault, Mograine saw something large sweeping over where he had stood a second ago. When he landed down again, he could clearly see what had run underneath him.
Standing in the middle of the enemy group, was a long and thick beast of which Mograine had never seen before. The creature was perhaps fifty feet long and all from a meter or two wide. It had several reptilian features such as a long snakelike body, four strong legs with sharp claws to get good hold on the ice with and a long pointy muzzle with razor sharp teeth. The reptilian-like beast had a gray layer of pointy scales on its body, and Mograine guessed that the skin was working as a pretty good defense mechanism and body armor for the creature, as it seemed as if the enemies’ blaster fire didn’t leave a mark on its scales. Distinctive for the animal was a long an dark mane-looking thing going down the creature’s neck until meeting a pair of large spikes sticking out just above its shoulder joints. It looked like some kind of wyrm.
Mograine was almost set out by the creature’s amazing features; so unique and distinctive, that he almost forgot about their mission and the ongoing fight. The commander snapped out of it, as the beast turned around after slicking the last of the enemies’ stomach open with its claws. The creatures opened its mouth and screeched out a sharp and deafening roar at the 13th Line Company, who had more or less regrouped while the carnage had gone on at the enemies’ location. The men jumped at the screech, and raised their rifles at the wyrm. As it slowly stepped forward, they opened fire, making it shriek out again before charging the men. Most of them had the time to run out of the way, but an unlucky soldier was taken by its mouth and bit in half. Mograine heard a lightsaber ignite behind him, and when he turned to look, he saw Du’moth with his purple lightsaber in hand, charge past him and jump the wyrm. His stroke came down at the wyrm’s neck, but didn’t leave more than a faint black scorch mark.
Mograine smiled, as he felt Du’moth’s astonishment in the force and then yelled out an order to the men to hold their fire. He raised his right arm and gripped the wyrm’s head with the force, and at the same time projected an image of himself in the beast’s mind. He felt the wyrm’s confused and angry emotions at the men change, and its focus go at the image of a dark-clad man with a green blade in his hand. Mograine pressed on in the force, tampering with the creatures's emotions toward the projected picture of himself. It turned toward him, and while being examined by its yellow eyes, Mograine slowly stepped forward. It could almost seem as if the wyrm hesitated before taking a step toward Mograine. Behind the beast, Du’moth, Vazh and most of the men stood puzzled, while looking at the strange event. When it was about two meters from the dark jedi, the wyrm lowered its head toward Mograine welcoming either a blessing or a killing stroke. Mograine deactivated his lightsaber, and clipped the weapon to his belt, while he walked to the head of the strange creature. He patted its head slowly and easy, before walking a couple of meters ahead and mounted it behind the pair of spikes on its back. He turned his head to Du’moth and the rest of the men:
“You want a ride?”
They had set up a make shift command center in an office right off the communications room. Kaira stood next to a table as her eyes scanned a map of the area where the ship went down. They had a bit more communication now with the survivors. The sad thing was they were taking heavy fire. Kaira knew the group needed back up and fast. Mograine should already be on his way with fresh troops. They would send more as soon as the weather cleared up a bit.
Kaira looked over to troop numbers she started to set up teams to head out in waves the sooner the better. The one thing she made sure of was that she could stay behind. There weren’t enough credits within the whole Clan to get the Krath to leave the warmth of the base. Truth was Kaira didn’t want to have to go out to save Kal’s butt. If he didn’t come back then that was fine with her it would help move her up with in the clan.
For now the Krath push all thoughts from her mind about how she felt personally. There was a job to do right now and that was bringing some of their troop’s home alive. Kaira knew full well that not everyone would come home from this mission. Just then Kaira heard someone beside her; she turned her head to see Octavia the house Aedile.
“Well, about time you showed up.” It was no secret that the pair didn’t get along at times.
“What’s the problem? Kal get himself into more trouble than he can handle again?” Octavia said with a rather sly smile.
“But of course. Mograine left all ready with a number of troops. For some reason he wouldn’t wait for the storm to let up. I was just trying to set up the other groups of back up to send out there. The storm should move out of the area within the next half hour. The troops are ready and awaiting there orders.”
Kaira looked at Octavia and wondered if the woman would now take over command. It was her job to do that when the Quaestor was gone but did she want to step in at this point? Without a word Kaira moved aside how ever to allow the Aedile the job, after all it was hers. Even if she didn’t care for the Knight she would do as she was supposed to.
Something in her gut told her this situation, as a whole, was strange. She had been at Kal's side when they planned the excursion, they made sure there was no room for error and now things had gone terribly wrong and their planning had been a waste. She studied the map they had of the terrain, and wanting a closer look she pulled out her data pad and pulled up the coordinates, local terrain, weather and the ship information from the crash, all the while with Kaira and the rest of the makeshift crew the Rollmaster had quickly put together looked on.
She looked up and scanned the room, she had a quick plan, and hoped everyone would respect and follow her orders. The Aedile unclipped her cloak and flung it over the closest chair before speaking to the young, pink Twi'lek standing near the chair where he just placed her cloak.
"You, what's your name?"
She could see the Twi'lek swallow nervously as she spoke, and for the first time in a long time, she dismissed her instinct to calm the journeyman who she was speaking. Rather, she was firm, didn't smile or show an ounce of emotion during this time of crisis.
"Insanya, get two more crews together and get to the hanger. The coordinates of the crash site are being sent to the shuttles as we speak. The storm is lifting, we need to move quickly."
She watched the pink Twi'lek nod as she grabbed her data pad and motion for those left in the command center to follow her. Watching them all leave she rolled her eyes as she was reminded that her Rollmaster was still with her as Kaira's voice broke her concentration.
"What are you doing? Don't we need them?"
The Aedile turned to find Kaira with her arms crossed over her chest and a rather peeved expression filling her normally graceful features. For some reason Kaira's annoyance amused Octavia, and if this were a normal situation she would continue to push her buttons. However, this wasn't a normal situation, thier House was at risk, and they needed to stop it.
"No Kaira, we don't need them. We're big girls, we can handle this on our own."
Octavia looked around the room, making sure no one else was in ear shot before using the force to close the hydraulic doors.
"However, right now there is a much more pressing matter at hand."
Kal had to dart his head back from the hole he'd carved in the Defiant's hull as a blaster shot blackened the durasteel near his left eye. He couldn't see much of the battle, but as his sensory abilities were diminished, he'd craved some knowledge of what was happening. As he peeked out once more, he saw the glow of Fang's sapphire weapon as he ran from behind a pile of bodies, his blade twirling to the left and then flashing to the right as he went. A rebel fell with each stroke, one bisected at the hip, the other beheaded. Kal couldn't help but grin as he saw the manoeuver; While he had some ability with the defensive lightsaber form called Soresu, the Kiffar's main form was Makashi, the duelling form Kal preferred. The duelist's form, it was perfect against blades but lacked against too many opponents with rifles. Where Kal used stealth and blasters, Fang relied on speed and efficiency.
"Sir, you should be resting." The soldier, her helmet off to reveal the blue head and red eyes of a Duros, said. "No one will think less of you for being shot."
Kal waved her off with a light shake of his head. The pain had been intense, and he couldn't afford to look away or break his concentration; such agony required his full concentration to dull with the Force. If he'd had access to better painkillers, or the time to assume a calm and peaceful state of mind, he could have healed. As it was, his eyes were still the hue of molten gold and bloodshot from the Dark Side; bacta patches and the ability to ignore pain would have to do. Looking behind him, he saw the men and women about, most of them with their helmets off. It had been hours since their crash, and now only the efforts of the Dark Jedi present to dissect more enemy corpses with their lightsabers had kept the fire they all crowded around burning. Multiple times, they'd had to use helmets to scoop some of the ash out of the transport; the smell of burning flesh and hair drowned out the smell of multiple species' sweat. They kept the hole in the floor, cut by a saber and used as a latrine, covered at all times when it wasn't being used. Even if Kal had seen worse from a battle, even if he was used to the sight of blood and screams of pain and death, he'd never forget the stench of burnt flesh.
"Damn it," One of the troops, a bothan named Dyan, said under his breath. "Blasters up, ladies and gents! They're back in force!"
With groans and sighs of frustration, those men and women who weren't too injured or dead got up, grabbing rifles and checking clips. Almost no one had a stock weapon anymore; they'd been relying on what little enemy munitions they'd gathered before the snow of the blizzard had covered it up. For the most part, they hadn't been able to score many kills in the snow; the enemy knew they couldn't go anywhere, and had relied on killing a few men and running when bolts started flying their way. In total, Kal thought he'd counted twenty nine new bodies among the enemy dead; if it weren't for the weapons of Kal, Wuntila, Fang, and Necal, there'd be around twelve. Now they were overwhelmed by huge margins, numbering in the twenties for troops, several wounded but still alive. Their ammunition was running out, their few turrets and missiles long since spent. Now, the enemy sought to overwhelm them.
Standing and clamping his teeth together to keep from groaning with pain as his concentration was broken, Kal drew out his two blaster pistols. Checking the ammo, he nodded to himself; he had fifteen shots left to put into the enemy. Following the group of black-armored men and women out as they donned their helmets, he sprinted to a large rock and hid behind it, joining the rest of the survivors as they ran back toward the ship and took cover. Looking about, he gave the signal for "hold position", a closed fist. Every muscle in his body tensed, pain rippling up his side from his wound; he waited until he heard the sound of many boots crunching in the snow nearby.
"Now!" He shouted, ducking from his cover as all of the survivors followed suit, shots pouring out in unision as saber blades snapped to life and began to twist through enemy ranks.
His first two shots hit separate rebels in the eye and chest, dropping them both to the snow. His third, fourth, and fifth took another three in the abdomen region as he twisted behind another rock. Peeking out, he put a round into a woman's knee, only to silence her yell of pain with a bolt in her open mouth. Five more he fired into the ranks of enemies, a blaster bolt blackening the side of his visor as it knocked back his hood. Finally, he rolled out, firing two more headshots before shooting a rodian man in the groin. With that, he gathered the Force to his hands before hurling it outward, letting the telekinetic blasts from both hands take the pistols as they smashed into the chests of two men. His saber was in his hand in a split second, flashing to crimson life as he ran into the crowd of enemies. Soon, more screams joined the auditory assault.
"Fall back and regroup!" The rebel commander yelled, his voice loud and deep. "Fall back and regroup! Everyone, fall ba- augh!" His voice was cut off with a scream as a red blade sprouted from his chest.
Vorrac was like a snake, letting his momentum carry him as he drew on the rage of the Dark Side to give himself confidence. His red blade thrummed as it twirled left and cut a black slash through a woman's throat, spinning about to take the right leg from a twi'lek. Swinging his blade about in one motion to lance through the chests of two more men, he ducked and stabbed upward to pierce the throat of yet another. On and on he spun, seeming as if he were dancing as he put down those near him. As he stood, he took a stock strike to the face, ignoring it as he took the attacker's head off. A combat knife slashed at his arm, catching the gap in his armor where his hand met his wrist and drawing blood. On and on he went, taking a grazing shot from a rifle here, catching a bolt with his right hand and dissipating it with the Force there; as the pain built up and his motions grew sloppy, he knew he was doomed. Only his enemies falling back to cover and the soldier called Unus yanking him behind a rock saved him from the volley that followed.
"Let me go!" He roared as the man caught him in a hold. "Let me..." His words trailed off as he felt it, a rumbling in the ground. For a moment, as it grew, everyone stopped.
The wyrm seemed to burst into the clearing as it came forward, its roar reverberating around the area as everyone ran and shouted in panic. Diving toward the rebels, its serpentine body smashed toward the snow as its bulk crushed those beneath it. Catching a man in its mouth and crushing him before swallowing his frame. Its tail lashed around, throwing men and women left and right. Kal almost gave the order to fire on it, until he saw the shapes leap and spring from its back. New blades, violet, green, and others among them, joined the fray with vigor unseen in the survivors. Heavy rifles fired by those untouched by fatigue ripped through surprised men and women, explosives blasting people back and forth. Finally, the smoke trails of rockets flashed through the air, hitting the wyrm square in the chin and blasting its head aside. The thing toppled into the snow, taking a few more people with it. As Kal looked onward to the chaos, he couldn't help but grin as he saw the form of Mograine and those with him join them.
"Thought you'd have all the fun?" Mog's voice had to be the best sound he'd ever heard. "Even through the wind and snow, Master, you smell like a dead bantha."
"I'll have a sanisteam when I get back. Now, let's press to cover!" Kal shouted, smiling under his mask. "The blizzard's thinning out. We might just live through this!"
Running to the beast's corpse, he was soon joined by the other survivors and Jedi as they ducked behind its apparently blast-proof scales. Grabbing an old E-11 from an enemy corpse, Kal deactivated his blade and clipped it back to his belt before ducking to one knee and shooting as his foes; he didn't care about the pain anymore. The air became a stain of multicolored light, men and women falling on both sides, rocket blasts slowly ripping through the corpse before them. The snow and the wind fell away, giving them all a twilit view of both sides as men and women fell. Kal's right shoulder took a grazing hit, cutting through the armor and knocking him back in time to see Fang grasp his ear. Until his attention was drawn to the fighter craft that passed over them, lasers and missiles raining over the survivors to pulverize the line of rebels. A cheer ripped free from the line of survivors as people fled, watching as transports set down and lines of troops ran out to fire shots at them.
"Sir!" The Captain of the 4th Line Battalion, named Stonewall, shouted to Kal. "We've got the situation under control! We evac in ten minutes, get your gear and-"
"Wrong, Captain," Kal replied, clutching his shoulder as he spoke. "Unless you'd like my blade in your sternum, get everyone together and pack us into those ships."
"Sir?" The captain replied, his body language speaking of confusion.
"We've still got a job to do, captain," Vorrac said, removing his mask. "And a rebel outpost to destroy."
It annoyed her that Octavia had sent out so many troops but at the same time she could feel there was something that was bothered the woman. The Krath moved to come to stand right next to Octavia. Part of her was rather grateful that the woman had not sent her out into that ice cold world right now but why? What was it that they needed to do here other then hold down the fort so to speak?
“There is something you’re not telling me Octavia.” Her voice was calm as was her body.
“We will talk else where.” There was something about the area that Octavia felt would be bad if they talked more openly here.
The pair walked from the communications room down the hall to head to Octavia’s office. Had she over stepped her bounds at some point Kaira ran over in her head? No she had done what any one would have in her suitration. As they walked into the office the door closed but Octavia still didn’t talk. She raised her hand to her mouth to keep Kaira quiet as well.
It was only a moment later that Octavia pulled up on a computer at her desk messages that had been sent from Alpha base. They were dated over the last two weeks and went into details about the planned assault on the enemy. The angry that built up in Kaira was clear as she got to the last message.
“You know what this means Octavia. Our mean were ambushed. Kal didn’t sense any thing was wrong. Do you feel he has been clouded in the force as to not know something was a miss?” Kaira knew she was reaching for even she had not sense any thing was wrong with this mission. There judgment could all be clouded for all she knew.
Octavia looked at Kaira with the same angry expression. “Yes, it means we have to find the person who sent the messages quickly. I have traced where they were sent from but it was sent from the communications room. Any one could have used a computer in there to send out a message.”
Kaira simply nodded to Octavia. They did have a problem and it was going to be handled before Kal came back. If he came back and it was still unresolved he would more then likely sees every one has a threat. Kaira wanted this handled quickly and quietly. The faster they acted the better off for every one in the house and clan.
Removing his mask for the first time since leaving Alpha Base, Mograine felt that his face was covered in sweat. He let out a deep breath, as he was still amazed that they had survived long enough to get through the blizzard and join Kal’s group, without too many casualties. The warm air of the troop transport was a most welcoming sensation, but unluckily it wouldn’t last for too long. Their transports were already directed toward a supposed enemy base, and they still had the standing orders to take them out. While the wounded and dead was being taken back to Alpha base, the still combat-ready soldiers, as well as the fresh reinforcement was being transported in separate ships due the location of this enemy base.
He stepped over to Lieutenant Kessler, who was briefing the rest of the 13th Line Company that had arrived with the reinforcement. Kessler turned around as Mograine approached and gave a slight bow with his head, “Commander, I’ve just briefed the men. We’re good to go, sir.”
Mograine nodded, “Alright, inform Kal and the commanders of the rest of the ships, before rejoining me at the bridge”.
While walking past the rest of the 13th Line Company, Mograine examined the men, whose only identifiers were the small nametags on their chests and the marks of the recent battle on some of the men’s standard-issue black armor. Some of the men that had fought in the recent battle had more marks than others, and their emotions were tenser; all from tired to angry, in the force. Others that had arrived with the reinforcement had shiny untouched armors and weapons, and in the force, they felt mostly excited. But something that lingered in most of the men, beside the portion of veterans from prior conflicts in the Plagueian history, was fear. Mograine guessed even a few of these men were rookies that just had come from the Academy. He sighed, before nudging a reassuring touch to their minds with the force. While it wasn’t much of a battle-meditation, which was far beyond Mograine’s reach in the Force, he felt most of the men cheer up. Most of them knew of him and stories about him, and that probably felt reassuring to them, Mograine guessed. He smiled and nodded to the passing men, before walking through a liftdoor into the corridor that led from the troop compartment to the bridge.
In the mid-sized room that barely could be called a bridge, there sat approximately six people; a pilot, co-pilot, a couple of communication officers and a couple of crewmembers handling the ship’s shield and other technical compartments. Mograine stepped over to the frontal viewport, beside the pilot. “See those objects down there? Rapid-establishing structures and a few vehicles; tanks and speeders”, the pilot said. A few hundred meters ahead, Mograine could see small structures and tents in various shapes forming what was the rebel outpost. He could also see a large group of tiny figures running around preparing for being attacked. Almost too stealthy, Lieutenant Kessler snuck up at Mograine’s side saying, “The other commanders have been informed, we’re to take point in the assault.”
Send the fighters on a low-run, try take out some of those vehicles!” the pilot ordered, and seconds later, Mograine could hear the voice of a female bothan repeating the order in her own comset, probably to the pilots of the fighters. The same instant, two flights of TIE Interceptors roared past the side of the transport, toward the base. Suddenly, Mograine could feel a tingle of danger in the force. He extended his awareness in the force, and could feel incoming enemy vehicles, from above. “Ambush!” he cried out, “Fighters incoming from starboard high”. The bothan female then cried out on the com, “All channels, incoming fighters from starboard high. I repeat, incoming fighters fro—“. The bridge was filled with the light of an explosion, as the rear Interceptor of the second flight blew up by a burst of laser fire. Mograine looked to his right, seeing flights of out-of-date starships diving toward the TIE Interceptors. The ships varied from the old and classic Z-95 Headhunter to Galactic Civil War-era T-65 X-wings and Y-wings, and although they ultimately were no match to the superb TIE Interceptors of Clan Plagueis, they still were a potential risk. Chatter over the com re-directed the fighters toward the incoming ships, and from the other transports, additional TIE Interceptors were sent forth to reinforce the first two flights.
“I’m putting you down at the western side of the base. Less chance of getting those fighters on our back!” the pilot exclaimed. Mograine nodded, and unclipped the hilt of his lightsaber. “Let’s go”, he told Kessler, before pivoting and marching back toward the troop compartment, where the men stood ready before the opening landing hatch.
Kal stood at the doors of the Shiver as the ship swerved and dived to avoid lasers from the cannons of starfighters, some still splashing across the ship's hull and rocking the soldiers within. Hearing the reassuring hiss of hydraulics as the landing gear began to extend, the Sith looked over to his student. Necal's eyes were focused intently on the doors ahead, his hands clenching with anticipation, his eyes hungry for a fight. Kal couldn't help but wonder who his student was after during the conflict; the Force warning he'd received had made him certain of his student's plans to assassinate him. They were interrupted only by cowardice on the farghul's behalf, but it was well-justified. More than once, Kal had shown dueling and Force supremacy to his student. He just had to make sure to avoid being caught off guard.
"Look sharp!," Kal shouted, ignoring the twinge of pain from his heavily-medicated side. His armor had a patch applied over it, the actual wound treated temporarily by bacta patches. "Weapons up, let's get out there!"
As the doors began to hiss open, Necal moved to rush out, only to be caught by the grip of Kal's metallic left arm. "Don't be hasty." He chided the feline, keeping his voice low. "Let the pawns go first."
"Yes, Master," Necal replied, waiting until the ship was well-emptied of troopers before dashing into the fray.
Kal's footsteps followed quickly, drawing the two new pistols he'd been given aboard the Shiver. SoroSuub ELG-3A models, they had the power he needed with the precision and size he desired. Darting from the transport and putting a few shots out at the scattered enemies before them, he waited until the thick line of black-armored troopers ripped apart the competition before taking cover beside a landspeeder that had been under repairs. Already, black-armored forms and towed equipment could be seen everywhere, the figures in a combination of robes and armor leaping to join them as their lightsabers burst to life. It would only be a matter of time, now. As the soldiers moved out and secured positions, he grabbed a comlink, shouting orders.
"Get some bombers on those kriffing vehicles!" He shouted, looking about. "Infantry priority is gun emplacements, those things are ripping us apart. Capture or destroy!"
With that, he took aim again, stretching out with the senses of a Force user to feel the environment around him. He was rewarded with a brilliant pulse of energy, surrounded by what had to be other important leaders and commanders. Holstering his weapons, he ran between a pair of buildings, smashing a rebel woman aside with a ball of Force energy as he went. There was a Force-sensitive there; whoever they were, they likely had some very important answers.
* * *
"Get those blasted anti-air batteries up and running!" The bothan, a man named Felku Dyro, shouted at the personnel and droids that rushed about. "Intensify fire on their transports! We don't want to be followed."
The woman in white stood there, watching the men and women as they ran about, her eyes seeming vacant as she drew on the Force for peace. Formerly a student of the light, she now drew on both sides of the Force, letting determination and confidence flow to bolster passion and love for her cause. Her hands brushing her lightsaber, she watched the tactical display, seeing the units that danced back and forth as blips along the glass. An older, obsolete model, it served its purpose well enough.
"If this isn't a sign that you need to join with our cause, Felku, I don't know what is." Her tone was all calm and serenity; appearing as a Jedi helped in these situations. "We can supply you with better arms, better equipment. We have contacts, we have personnel."
"So you've told me, Lady Xanthe," The bothan replied in mid-command. "Tell you what, our little group gets out of this one alive, we'll sign right up. Focus them in choke-points! Try to hold them off!"
"No!" Xanthe shouted over the din. "If you want your group to live, Dyro, then you must retreat. We can-" Her eyes widened seconds before she grabbed the bothan, pulling him to safety.
The doorway tore a bloody path through men, women, and droids as the explosives took it from its hinges, a black wave of soldiers following it. Their rifles soon lit the room in red hues as men and women tried to fight back, Xanthe's lightsaber bursting to emerald life and twirling about in the patterns of the Soresu lightsaber form. Her blade soon became a wall, sending bolts wide and redirecting them as she edged away from the soldiers. Rolling to hide behind a tactical computer, she plunged her saber into the wall of the prefab, drawing a quick circle and blasting it free with a push of the Force.
"What are you doing?!" Felku shouted, looking at her with outrage. "We need you here!"
"Wrong, this engagement is doomed." Deactivating her weapon and knocking the bothan out with a smack to the temple, she dragged him through the hole, throwing him over her shoulder before sprinting off.
As she went, a dark form rolled from behind a building, its fingers lashing out with volts of electricity that she barely caught with her saber. Hurling the Force at her new assailant, she watched the black-armored Sith fly backward, smashing into a pole with a groan. She leapt over him, his crimson blade catching the hem of her cloak as he jumped. Making it to her shuttle, she threw the Bothan onto the ground, typing in a few commands and lifting off. Sending a full-retreat command, she quickly span to fire at a passing Interceptor before making a beeline for space.
"I can't help you here, Felku," She muttered, looking back at the now-stirring Bothan, "But we need you elsewhere."
* * *
Kal was back on his feet just as his foe dived into her shuttle, taking off and fleeing. For a fleeting moment he worried she was a Jedi, but dismissed it as impossible; the entire Alliance would be on their doorstep if the Jedi Order knew of their existence. Standing up, he gave his head a shake, rubbing at his side. By some fleeting act of fate, she'd happened to hurl his wounded side into the pole; already he could feel it bleeding again. Turning, the human stopped in his tracks, taking his saber hilt in hand as his student walked from behind a building.
"Hello, Master," Necal said. "I told you once that I'd kill you..." igniting his saber, the farghul took a battle stance. "Today, I'm going to make good on that oath."
Necal noticed that his master did not seem surprised. No matter. The man would die. Necal had promised the Human he would die. There was no other option.
Kal would be holding back; his maneuverability was limited by his twice damaged side, while Necal was in a far better condition for the fight. Necal knew that his master could not move too much, even with the Bacta patches on his skin; his sensitive nose picked up the humans fresh blood, which was pumping even harder, possibly worried that Necal's advantage might be enough.
Deciding to test something, Necal's left hand shot out, along with small burst from his hand, Striking his master in the wounded side. Kal reacted, but just barely. Still, that told him all he needed to know; if Kal could think clearly, he wouldn't have reacted at all. The Human's attention was distracted by the pain. And, thus, his ability to use the force was also slightly hurt. Not enough to make it easy on Necal, but, when combined with his limited maneuverability, enough to even the odds.
Preferring not to give his Master a period of rest, Necal charged the Human, bringing his blade up towards Kal's wound. Kal quickly blocked it, pushing away Necal's blade with little effort, and with good reason; there was barely any strength behind it. Bringing his blade over and around Kal, staying well out of reach, Necal delivered another strike towards the mans left side, moving closer to give the man reason to block. Kal twisted his blade to parry it, slightly pulling his own side and sending more pain through his body. Applying more power than necessary, Kal pushed Necal's blade away and struck diagonally at Necal's chest, who managed to move back enough to not get wounded, but his snow gear was damaged.
Seeing the opening caused by his Master's pain, Necal pumped the Force through his body, and sped towards Kal, bringing his saber towards Kal in a vicious arc. Kal parried the incoming strike, pushing it farther along its course, his arm hurting from the strain associated. Rather than strike again with his blade, Necal instead kicked Kal in his right side. Utilizing the pain and turning it into anger, Kal sent a powerful blast with the Force towards Necal, knocking him away and into the Snow.
Rather than let the anger die out, Kal focused it once more in an attempt to stall Necal till he could control his own mind enough to fight effectively. He let out a small jolt of electricity, shocking Necal, who had just gotten up. Feeling the force course through him, Necal dropped the metal armory saber.
Fearing what would happen if Kal attacked while Necal was defenseless, Necal used a tactic that he found to be very useful on this planet; he aimed a small burst of the Force at the ground in front of Kal, shielding the Human in snow, giving Necal some time to find his saber.
Necal quickly found a cylindrical metal object, but it was anything but a saber; it was a thermal detonator. Picking it up, Necal pocketed it and continued searching for the blade. Within a few seconds, he had found it, picked it up and turned around. Despite the snow being cleared away, Necal could not find his master. Necal breathed in deeply through his nose, and found the blood; it was close. The area was very white, though he could easily make out the large shape of a building, probably a bunker the scent of blood being right behind it.
Necal's predator instincts began to take over his body and mind, twisting him even more. He began to stalk towards the bunker.
“Master.... I told you I would kill you. I promised you, I would kill you. Isn't that what you want from your students; death? Well that's what I'm giving you.”
Necal broke into a run, activating his saber when he had almost crossed over into the building. He was face to face with twin blaster barrels. Either thinking quickly, or not thinking at all, Necal both ducked and raised his left arm at the same time. Near his elbow, the blaster on Necal's left was bumped away before it fired. His hand missed the one on the right, instead getting shot, the heated gas melting through his snow gear.
Screaming, almost roaring, out in pain, Necal charged and tackled Kal, bringing them both down to the ground. Though he could not use his left hand, he used the arm to pin the Human and raised his saber to kill Kal in a single sweep.
Kal's roar matched Necal's, then surpassed it, as his rage burst forth in a Dark Side-bolstered scream. The noise rattled surrounding windows, making the farghul clutch his ears and stumble back. As he did, Kal hooked a foot behind his knee, curling his leg back and planting the feline on the ground before bringing his other foot up and down into Necal's groin. As his student let out a groan of pain, the Sith stumbled away, fumbling about in the snow for his saber hilt. Feeling the tiny blades near its emitter on his artificial fingertips, he seized it in his left hand, whirling around to block his student's wild strike just as the farghul stood. Reaching to his pistol with his free hand, he grasped it with the power of his mind, throwing it at the back of his student's head. It bounced off, giving Kal a chance to break the would-be saber lock and dart his blade forth. It grazed across the alien's cheek, making him back away and letting Kal shakily stand.
"I'll make you proud yet, Master." Necal hissed, gingerly pressing the wrist of his injured hand to his cheek. "I can smell your blood. I'll kill you soon. I'll be the Master!"
"You think you're ready to usurp me?" Kal growled in reply, his eyes glazing over completely to the gold of the Dark Side. "You're a bigger fool than I'd thought!"
The feline grinned before roaring, coming at his Master in a flurry of wild saberwork. Kal could only back away, switching his blade to his real hand as his left hand clasped his wounded side. The pain was growing worse by the second, taking his concentration. His moves went from elegant to desperate, too pressured to even call on the Force to ebb the agony. Finally, he stumbled, his pupil rushing forward to pin him against the wall in a saber lock. Soon, both of his hands were on the hilt, all of his ebbing strength holding back the farghul. Necal cackled as his right hand kept his Master's two at bay, his wounded left behind his back in a display of arrogance. Without warning, he laughed, backing off and crouching before flipping away, hands at his sides.
"Toying with me? Just kill me, you coward!" Kal roared, rage overtaking him. He would not die a pitiful wretch.
"You're already dead," The student laughed, his eyes flicking down.
Kal glanced down, seeing the flashing red light just as he heard the sequence of beeps. Adrenaline and fear flooded him, giving him the boost of emotion to leap sideways, a desperate attempt to get away. He was only halfway into a roll when the device exploded, launching him end over end to smash into the pole of a rebel tent. Heat and pain blossomed along the left side of his face, the circuits in his limbs sparking and sending a plethora of odd sensations along their synthetic nerves. They continued to flicker before going dead, the Sith looking out of his bleary left eye and his clear right one to see the cause. His left arm and leg were simply gone, the armor on his left side blackened and smoking. He suspected his face was in worse shape, his cloak burnt halfway into ashes.
Looking up, he saw the Farghul stalk forward, his eyes tinted a deep gold, the gold of the Dark Side. The human raised his red blade feebly in his right hand with a snarl, only to have it bashed away, the force of Necal's blow sending it spinning to land in the snow. The Farghul stood above him, growling under his breath, his ears flat against his head. He raised his saber for the strike.
"Traitor!" The cry came from behind Necal, from a black figure Kal couldn't really see.
The retort of a blaster rifle on automatic fire was joined by expressions of pain on Necal's face as he dropped his saber, his hand twitching open. Seeing the hilt, Kal reached up, catching it. Snapping the blade to life, he plunged it forward, his burnt face glaring into Necal's horrified expression as his growl became a yelp. The young one seemed to quiver as his Master twisted the blade, its crimson point sticking out of the middle of his back before he pulled it to the left, yanking it free of the feline's side as he toppled into the snow. The black form rushed forward, Necal's stolen saber coming up to defend until the man raised a hand in peace.
"It's me, sir. It's Unus." Kal deactivated his weapon, gasping in relief as he let it drop beside his student.
Reaching up at the trooper, he felt the soldier throw Kal's remaining arm over his shoulder, carrying him away. As they went, he nodded at the hilt of his own saber, sticking out of the snow. Looking at Unus, he saw that the man's helmet was gone, lost in the battle. He was definitely a Weequay, though his head was shaved, probably a military thing. The Force radiated from him. Kal could feel his anger, his determination and the power he'd probably tapped unconsciously over the years as luck and burst of ability. He had the reaction time and reflexes for it, certainly; the entire exchange between he and Necal had taken less than a complete second. At the thought, Kal's mind turned to his dead pupil, laying in the snow. Emotions raced through him, anger, excitement, and... a strange sense of disappointment.
"Orders, sir?" The man asked, getting Kal to the Shiver, avoiding battles. "The enemy's retreating and surrendering. What should we do?"
"Have the others... mop up... and pack up..." He said, grabbing a handrail on his right side as the trooper set him down and gasping between words, "As for you... get me the kark... out of here."
"Could you work any slower?" Kaira asked, her voice clearly irritated.
"Does this look easy?" Octavia retorted, her frustration growing as she typed in commands and keywords. Some serious encryption had gone into the message. "It takes longer when you shout at me."
The Archpriestess paced, clearly eager to solve the problem as fast as possible. Octavia shared the feeling, wanting to deal with this leak before the Quaestor returned. They'd sent too many soldiers out for the defeat of the rebels to take too long. Cutting through another level of programming, she grabbed a computer spike from the bin she'd had a Novice bring in, plugging it in and letting the garbage data on it overwhelm more security measures. Holding her breath, she prayed to the Force that it would work.
"Oh, while we're young!" Kaira shouted, clearly tired of waiting.
"Got it!" Octavia shouted, reading the message over. "It's cryptic, but we know where it came from. It was sent on a datapad, tracking..." Kuga stopped, her face looking sad.
"What? What is it?" Rohana asked, seeing the other woman wilt.
"It was sent by an Apprentice." Staring into space for a moment, she finally drew a breath and nodded. "We've got work to do. Let's go."
* * *
The two women moved quickly to the Apprentice's quarters, having told the security personnel not to interfere. They'd quietly cleared out the corridors, telling everyone but the Apprentice what was going on. An omwati woman by the name of Cheska Yovin, what little they knew of her said that she had a weaker connection to the Force than some, and wasn't as physically fit as others. She'd been progressing slowly. Octavia couldn't help but wonder what had made her betray them, or if she even had. Either way, they were going to resolve this. Going to either side of her barracks' door, they took their saber hilts in hand, hearing conversation through the tiny gap in the durasteel.
"...indeed, my Lady," the voice, definitely Yovin's said. "I'll try harder next time. I'm sorry you were defeated. May the Force be with you."
Raising their eyebrows at that last, the two pressed the open switch on the door, which hissed up into the cieling. The omwat turned in panic, a blaster pistol coming free of her robes and firing wildly at the two women. Kaira, who was in front, lit her purple blade to deflect it, only to have the woman barrel into Octavia and run down the hall. Kaira ran after her as Kuga ducked into a hallway to the left, turning to cut the woman off. As she predicted, Cheska nearly ran into her, gasping in surprise as Octavia's lightsaber burst to life. Her powder-blue blade flashed as she span it, deflecting the shot from Yovin's pistol easily and ducking behind it to take her hand off at the wrist. As the woman screamed in pain, dropping to her knees, Kaira caught up. Smiling, she lifted her purple blade and brought it down.
Octavia caught it before it could strike. "No, Kaira. We have her."
"She's a traitor!" Rohana shouted, her face furious. "How dare you..."
"She is a traitor. And she will face charges for treason." Kuga replied, looking the Krath in the eye. "She will be tried for it, and will be punished, after we know what this is all about."
Kaira looked at her in cold wrath for a moment, before pulling her blade back and switching it off. "As you wish, Aedile."
The booted feet of troopers sounded, and Octavia switched off her own blade. Walking away, she heard the voice of the Apprentice , screaming, "No! No!!! You teach lies, you hear me?! Lies!!!" She couldn't help frowning in sadness as the screams were ended by the smack of a rifle butt.
Sigil 5 - Morroth
2 weeks After JIC Strike
Kal di Plagia Vorrac's green eyes read over reports and intel as he sat at his desk, tapping the exposed metal fingers of his new left hand impatiently. As with anyone with prosthetics, he had spare parts available when things broke. Like the old ones, they had the same matte-black paint coat, the same stealthy lack of lustre. These ones, however, felt too smooth at times. Joints in his new arm and leg that had moved easily and out of habit now creaked or slid oddly, not worn in the way the old ones had. To make it worse, the new nervous systems in these weren't as well-adjusted as the old limbs. They felt new, alien, and gave him a limp that had more to do with difference between the two legs than any real physical problem. He could make it stop, when he thought about it.
As he read the casualty listing for the Jusadih Government forces present, he stopped when he eyed the name Necal. The Farghul's body had been rounded up and disposed of at the Mekduaa pits, the armory lightsaber he'd taken to using sent in to be serviced and cleaned for the next user. His status was listed as MIA, no search efforts were being made. Nothing would remain for anyone to trace back to Clan Plagueis, House Satal Keto, or the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. Still, Kal could remember the trials he'd put his student to. He'd succeeded at escaping Raxus Prime, killing the one who helped him at Kal's instruction. He'd embraced Kal's teachings, facing his madness in an effort to grow strong. He'd even struck at his Master, nearly killing him, showing prowess that few others could and nearly completing the Sith circle of Master and Student.
So why did Kal feel such deep disappointment?
Necal had twice come at his Master, stopping the first time when surprise fled. Later, when Kal was too injured to properly fight back, he ambushed his Master. Normally, Kal would have applauded such a tactic, but the wrongness of it jumped in his face. Necal had tried to kill him out of mad urges. There was nothing of power, nothing of ambition in it. It was purely hatred and insanity. His student had been too weak, had let his own sick desires stop him from making a killing blow. In that, he had failed.
"Weakness." Kal said to himself. "Necal was weak."
Looking to the man in the room with him, he took in the sight of Unus. The man trained with a practice lightsaber, following the motions of the hologram on Kal's desk, too focused on what he did to pay any attention to Kal's words. He was a fast learner, one who already knew combat. He was smarter than Necal, free of mental defect. He had supreme loyalties, to Clan and his superior Officers. Kal could twist that; he could make him strive to be strong and work weakness out of his precious Clan. He could make the Force superior, and show the man how he did his fellows a service by forcing strength on them. If needed, he would break him. If not, he would bend him. Kal didn't believe in luck; in the coming weeks, he would deal with the intel they gathered from the rebel camp, with the mysterious Force User helping them. Until then, one thing was clear.The Force had thrown Necal forward, the Force had saved Vorrac. The Force had provided him with a new Apprentice.
The Force did indeed serve him well.
* * *
Thus concludes our May Run-On, Shot Down! Read on in June for the follow-up, Ashern: Black Market!