Arcona Ro: Uneasy Alliances Week One
The stigma attached to homeless travellers was as old as it was unwarranted. Gypsies, vagabonds, nomads – all viewed with the same suspicion, derision and lack of respect. It was why the Ryn were kicked from spaceport to spaceport, devoid of a home planet, devoid of any social standing, devoid of any chance of survival if they ran into another Vong armada.
The flotilla limped through deep space, far from the grutchin swarms, the dovin basal mines and the picket forces that had run them haggared in the first few weeks of the clan’s exile – whilst all of the ships were fighting ready, the crews rested and healthy, there was still a sense of doom hanging about the small collection of warships. Some blamed it on the worry of the crews for their families left behind in Dajorra to face the Vong. Others attested it to the general mood of the Galaxy, still torn up in war. Sashar Arconae knew better: Mejas Doto was losing his nerve. The Consul was an indomitable wrecking ball of ego, force of will and sheer arrogance that battered through anything in his obstacle – it was a small miracle that he had chosen Arcona to tie his allegiances to, however a lot of this stemmed from the complete faith thathe was a demi-god and avatar for the Force’s dark will, blessed with the gifts of Shadow Crafting.
Sashar snorted quietly to himself in amusement. Shadowcrafting, the true bastion of the Consul’s strength, the heart of darkness personified through the neon blue skinned Zabrak – and since they’d lost Dajorra, their power was waning. Only the Arconae had noticed it so far, and none had dared mention it to Mejas, but Sashar was closer to the Shadowlord than anyone; he knew that Mejas was feeling it to, and thus his oppressive will, those niggling doubts forming in the back of his twisted mind were permeating the flotilla, spreading from Arconan to Dajorran like a plague of ill will and despair, barely kept in check by military discipline and the simple human drive to survive.
He was brought back from his reverie by a small shudder under the decking – the ISD had changed course.
“Bridge, report.” He said into his comlink as he left the TAM barracks complex (formerly the forward-10 cantina) and made for the nearest turbolift.
OOC: Ok gents, a soft warmup, just introduce yourselves and where you all are. No plot movement just yet – you’ll get the clues from me or Mejas when we’re ready to advance a little =P
And above all, have fun!
Legorii stormed through the Dark Orb barracks, or the small room that had been arranged for the team despite the awkward sleeping arrangements that had been made in the months following the retreat from Clan Arcona's beloved home, the Dajorra System. The Tetrarch wasn't exactly angry, but he was irritated. His men had overslept, something that was quite uncommon under the strict discipline within the Phyle. Apparently the ISD was changing course, and Legorii didn't know why yet.
This was the cause of his irritation, because it could mean an interesting event concerning the Clan's future; such an event had not occurred in a long time, and many Arconans were beginning to lose hope as morale sunk ever lower. This was the challenge of every leader in the Clan, to keep up the spirits of the Dark Jedi they led, and keep them ready for the future. To have his warriors sleeping on the job pissed Legorii off.
The Dark Jedi ripped back the covers on his men’s cots, shouting in their ears and giving them healthy shoves as he quickly roused them from their sleep. Zandro was one of the first up; dressing quickly and helping Legorii get the rest on their feet. In didn’t take long, Dark Orb was still one of the most disciplined teams in the Brotherhood, and Legorii was not playing games this time. After everyone was up, Legorii briefed them on what he knew, or rather, what he didn’t know.
“Alright boys, while you were all getting your beauty sleep I felt the Eye of the Abyss shift its course underneath us. I didn’t get any word of it beforehand, and that means something is up. Now that you are up, I want Zandro and Strategos to come with me to the bridge, and I want the rest of you to wait here at the barracks for further orders. Any questions?” Legorii spoke quickly, the commanding edge in his tone signifying that there had better not be any questions or there would be hell to pay.
Only nods answered the Tetrarch’s orders, and Legorii was glad of that. He spun on his heel without a further word, and pushed open the barrack door as he set off on a brisk pace to the bridge, with Zandro and Strategos hot on his heels. Immediately, the Dark Orb team members took up positions inside and outside of the barracks, although they were amongst friends on the Abyss and were a bit confused by Legorii’s orders.
Legorii hoped that there was something exciting going on, he had done nothing but train for the past few months, biding his time. Maybe now it was time for a change. Maybe now Dark Orb would get the chance it needed. Either way, the trio of Dark Orb warriors were nearing the bridge, and hopefully nearing the truth.
The area that passed for Soulfire's training grounds were not tidy at the best of times. On a good day, there would be remnants of training droids, random weaponry, and the smell of stale beer hanging in the air. On a bad day, the Strike Team's areas would reek of blood. Their recent relocation to the Bothan Assault Cruiser Darkest Night had not actually made matters any better.
And neither, reflected Timeros as he kicked one plate of half-eaten food out of the way, had his own ascension to the Battleteam's top slot. Absentmindedly, the Epis raised his lightsaber, giving his foe a curt salute. Across him, Malidir did the same. Half a second later, Timeros went into immediate offense, thrusting at his adversary's midriff. The other, Communications Specialist in Soulfire and the fabled Blade of Galeres, responded by deftly stepping back and swiping the blade aside. They struggled, for a few more moments, blades flying around at seemingly random, but actually following highly precise patterns.
Then, Timeros disengaged his weaponry and took a backstep himself, activating the blade. “That will be all,” he noted, although the gentleness sounded forced even to him. “You may leave, if you want.”
“Thank you, sir,” the Erinos noted, as he too deactivated his saber and walked away.
'Sir', Timeros noted absently. Not 'Sarge'. For a few moments, he watched the other's receding back. Then,
“...Yes?” The other's voice was audibly strained...and impatient. No 'Sirs', this time.
“Sir?” The Prelate turned around, watching his new Sergeant. Somewhere inside, the Entar felt jealous of the man in front of him. Technically, Timeros was the Executive to Kieran, and he was certainly the greater with the Force...but for some reason, the Rollmaster and Erinos made the Epis feel...inferior. Part of it was his obvious stature within the Clan...while Timeros was a former Consul, it was Malidir who had gained the title of Arconae, through unflagging devotion and inexhaustible effort of will. They were criteria the Epis has sorely failed on.
“You know what I mean,” Timeros said, voice without inflection. “I sparred with Strategos earlier today, and he's as on-edge as you are. It's not a big difference...but I know you two.” A shadow crossed the Sergeant's face -literally, for the living shadow Timeros had nurtured ever since his return to Dajorra shifted suddenly, for no discernible reason. “It's that, isn't it?”
“...Yes,” Malidir breathed, softly, and at last. “Something's wrong with the Shadowcrafting.”
“Are you sure?” the Epis asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Positive,” the Arconae replied. “It's slight...but I know the Dark Side as well as you do. It's there.”
The Entar raised an eyebrow. The news was...disturbing. “All right,” he said, finally. “Gather the Strike Team. I don't know what's going on...but if you know, so does Mejas. And if we are losing Shadowcrafting, he will want something done about it.”
And at that point, the ship gave a slight tremor as it changed course.
“Ah, yes,” the Sergeant sighed. “That will be it.”
“Are you certain, Tim?” Malidir asked.
“No. But...frankly, I don't want to know what else might be doing it. Gather the Strike Team, I want us ready in half an hour.”
“And if it's nothing?”
“Then we'll do practice runs. We've been slacking off lately, and it ends right now.”
Or it'll be the end of us, Timeros did not say.
As the turbolift opened Sashar strode out onto the gangway, his boots clunking on the metallic surface that led straight to the Shadow Lord's throne room. Sashar was uneasy in venturing into the Consul's chamber without being summoned, but the change in direction by the fleet puzzled him and it was unheard of for the Consul not to have consulted with his apprentice over military issues.
"Master Doto, it is I, your Shadow Scion, I request an audience with you immediately." said Sashar through the communication panel on the outside of the door.
"................." Sashar waited patiently for several minutes but there was nothing to hear except static-y snow over the channel. Reaching out through the Force Sashar could sense his Zabrak Master and it was then that he could feel something was not normal.
"Master Doto, I must enter and speak with you, forgive my impatience." uttered Sashar as he busily entered manual data into the computer terminal.
Slowly the doors hissed open and Sashar entered the chamber. The dark room was sparse, with Clan symbols adorning most of the walls and the main podium - now devoid of the Serpentine Throne - furnished with an ornate chair upon which sat an overly animated Arconan Consul.
Sashar walked up to the podium and bowed low to the Shadow Lord, while always maintaining some form of eye contact. Mejas Doto was more unpredictable than most. Sashar knew the Consul would not take kindly to his Proconsul's impetuous interuption and he braced himself for the "repsonse"........ but it did not come.
As Sashar stood up again he looked on at his Master. The Zabrak was sitting upright, his right hand firmly gripping the arm of the chair with the left hand locked onto the Abyssal Tome. The Arconan Consul's eyes were shut tight and his head, unhooded for once, swayed in the ambient lighting while his lips tremored as inaudible words passed forth between them.
The Shadow Lord appeared to be in some form of trance and as Sashar watched he could tell the Zabrak was searching for answers. Communicating with the Abyss...was it even possible? But before Sashar could muse over the question any further he was sent hurtling from his stance, against the near wall.
"Who are you to disturb me Shadow Scion?" spat the Zabrak, already standing in front of his slumped Proconsul having moved at unimaginable speeds.
"Master Doto, forgive my brashness..... the ship has changed course...... the Clan is restless and on edge." replied the Obelisk Exarch as he rose to his feet again.
Sliding forward Mejas's hand slid underneath the chin and around the neck of his subordinate. His grip was merciless and as the blue skinned face drew close to Sashar's beads of sweat began to trickle from the Proconsul's brow.
"You think I am unaware of the actions of MY own fleet?" whispered Mejas as he pivoted on his feet, still gripping his Shadow Scion's throat with his head now at his other ear. "You believe I am unable to guide this Clan any longer?"
"N..o........Co....n......sul." wheezed Sashar as he struggled to release the words, his eyes closed in an attempt to focus on the correct answers for the mad Consul before him.
"Goooooood." replied Mejas, now sitting back on his podium chair as Sashar opened his eyes. "For you are not yet ready to inherit this Clan from me."
Sashar felt at his neck and loosed the clothing that now clung to it. "Consul, there is something wrong. There is something that we have not forseen and Arcona grows weaker because of it - I know you are aware of this."
Raising his hood the Zabrak Master sighed deeply before motioning with his right hand. In doing so, the shadow cast from below his form travelled up to the Arconan's hand before exploding into Force lightning like tendrils that spewed all over Sashar.
Calling upon the Force, Sashar prepared to asborb as much of the energy as he could. The Shadow Lord would fill him with fear through this assault of the Inner Darkness, but Sashar knew he would survive.
As the tendrils struck his body, the Exarch braced himself, but after a few seconds realised something was wrong. The assault was having little effect and the Shadow Scion's defenses seemed more than resilient enough. What had happened to the Shadow Lord for such a flawed attack to occur?
"So you see it for yourself my apprentice. The Abyssal Tome holds no more answers for us. My very essence seems disconnected and lost, the same as our Clan. I have consulted the Abyss and nothing I have asked has made any difference. I hear but one answer, that our fate lies in the chaos of our Brotherhood and the consumation of our exsitence with the Dark Side. The Arconae are loosing control over the Shadows; with Dajorra, so goes our power over the nexus. We are but Dark Jedi with puppets of light and I, as the Shadow Lord, am unravelling fast." mumbled Mejas, his voice slow and empty of emotion.
"But what has this to do with the fleet Lord Consul? Have we been alerted to new oppertunities for a homeworld?" asked Sashar.
"Not quite..." replied Mejas, his right hand still spewing forth the shadowy tendrils of energy and making them dance around the walls and roof where his Proconsul stood. "...we are going to end what we should have done countless times before. We are going to rise from the Shadows that abandon and falt us. We will consume and devour the systems we desire. We will rise up above the lesser Clans and we will start with the treacherous Scholae Palatinae. I have altered our course my Proconsul, for we are going to take Judecca as our own and from there each Clan thereafter! It has been spoken from the Abyss, so mote it be Sashar."
"Mejas, we have lost our home and we are a wandering fleet. We barely escaped the Vong and now you wish to take us into open conflict against the largest Brotherhood Clan? As your Proconsul and apprentice I must question whether you are right in your actions? Even the Dark Cou..."
"Enough Sashar. There is no longer any right and wrong, there is only chaos for us. As we abandoned Dajorra, so in turn have the Shadows abandoned us. Now we must simply exist and thrive on what we are offered. Arcona is all that remains and we will not reside as travellers in space. Today we claim Judecca as our own...either that or we fade away with the Shadows. The decision is no longer mine my apprentice, chaos governs us now."
"As you wish, my Lord." replied Sashar, dropping to one knee and bowing curtly to the clearly unhinged Consul. "I will inform the Clan."
BAC Darkest Night
Talos Shadowblood d'Tana, the brand new Aedile of House Galeres, stood on the bridge of the House's flagship of Galeres, right next to the Nagai Quaestor, Rho Ozrei d'Tana. As brothers stared out into the flotilla of Arcona, Talos's comlink went off. With a swipe of his cybernetic hand, Talos grabbed the beeping device from his Dar'Verd armors utility belt and answered it, without taking his eyes off the flotilla. "d'Tana here" he said simply. "Sir...they're here" came the voice of JScumm, the star pilot of Blue Mist. "Right on my way" Talos said quickly and excusing himself from Rho, quickly strode down the corridor and took the turbo-lift down to the hangar. Striding into the hangar, the Aedile met JS as he overlooked a squad of V-38 TIE Phantoms being flown into the hangar. "Beautiful aren't they sir?" asked JS as he fast-walked to his new ship...the old A-9s in a secluded corner of the stuffed hangar. The Knight walked among the ships, running his gloved hand across his own. Dathka, Raith, Miroya and Dorn all emerged from behind their fighters. "They look amazing from the inside...shall we check em out?" asked Miroya, as the Protector came to stand beside his Master.
An hour later saw Talos sitting on his bunk in the BAC, cleaning his SSK-7 Heavy Pistol. As he wiped off the slide, he attached the silencer and slipped it into his hip-holster and he rose and made his way back towards the bridge. Sitting down in a seat next to his former Master, he stared silently as Blue Mists TIE Phantoms flew past in a angular manuver. "They are truly Elite aren't they Talos?" asked Rho, the Nagai letting a brief grin play over his lips. So much had happened in these past weeks and it was all good and Rho, against his usual nature, let some of his approval show. The grin vanished as he answered the comlink built into his command chair and the voice of Sashar Arconae, the Shadow Scion and Proconsul of Arcona, played. "Quaestor and Aedile d'Tana...we request your presence via COM in ten minutes. It is of utter importance. That is all". Sashar clicked off before Rho had a chance to respond and the Nagai turned to his friend. "Let us go and see what developments we can uncover" he said simply and he rose from his command chair and Talos followed suite. The two black armored figures walked down the corridor and into the Communications room and Talos nodded to the two officers and they took the cue and walked out of the room. Hitting the Recieve button, Rho and Talos leaned against the console as the holo-image of Sashar's head appeared.
En Route to the Cocytus System
"Assuming the jungle moon of Judas as the first staging area for a full invasion - it meets the criteria of habitat and atmosphere, as well as being reasonable terrain to establish entrenchments - we can move with relative alarcrity." Emilie Lauraugina
, Tactical Analyst of the Shadow
, mused thoughtfully as she leaned forward in her ergonomically-curved seat, hunching over the azure-blue holodisplay, her streaked ginger hair falling in curtain over her emerald eyes as she squinted at the detailed tactical read-out.
Captain Vorion, Prime Steward of Dajorra and Quaestor of Qel-Droma, seated on the opposite side of the holotable, ran a palm down the leg of his rumpled flightsuit and raked his ominous, sterile gaze across the moving diagram, the blue light reflected pale and bleak in his glimmering eyes. He spoke softly and slowly, with the pensive tone of a man constructing a plan as he went.
"Yes. Standard procedure in an invasion operation such as this usually involves sending an immediate starfighter taskforce to disable or destroy the planetary deflector shield generators; Commander Ruddle
's bomber squadron will do fine - along with an escort, we can form a full heavy-attack line, provided the Fleet's willing to commit a like starfighter compliment from each cruiser. If we can manage to disable the deflector shields we can commence an orbital bombardment right away."
The young Ubese concealed a smirk behind the veil of his dreadlocked hair which obscured his face in the deep shadows of the lounge's oval expanse.
"Astute as ever, Captain." Emilie said with a flustered half-smile of pleasure, brushing her streaked hair from her face as she recovered her composure. "It's not often that a serving Captain of this vessel has a working knowledge of the finer points of invasion warfare. I suppose that's a reflection of my own inexperience. I've not worked with many younger officers as seasoned as yourself." She smiled again courteously.
Vorion managed a grim smirk as he sank down further into his chair, lost in thought. "My 'working knowledge' as you so acutely put it stems only from my familiarity with decidedly-unfavorable circumstances. As I've made it this far...I suppose I've picked up a thing or two. At any rate, it's all conjecture and sound stand procedure; I haven't the faintest clue what we'll be up against, and Command has yet to relay any significant intelligence on the matter. This may be drastically altered or scrapped all together. Depends on what's actually arrayed before us when we exit hyperspace in the Cocytus System."
Vorion stood, noting his tactical officer's curious glance at the lightsaber swinging from his belt as he padded to the transparisteel panoramic viewport, gazing into the the inky darkness of space. "Inform Commander Hodezan
that my we are to jump to hyperspace as scheduled and as per Command's orders. You are to immediately transmit the our tactical outline to the Sovereign Imperator for review. Fish for any details or intelligence they may be willing to reveal; I don't want to go in blind, and this is a little too textbook a plan we've got here."
Emilie nodded, saluting crisply. "At once, Captain."
“It’s…as if I can feel, feel the strain of fear. Feel the pull of hate, and slip into the eyes of another; a gorgeous sight to behold. Hmmm….change. The air of change has sparked, am I ready, no, I couldn’t be. But I will”
I couldn’t tell you exactly how I felt when we departed the system; the Vong came down in such chaos, such destruction. Bodies, literally everywhere. But we were concentrated. Heart and soul we concentrated on staying alive, but what was the meaning? To drift in space, devoid of a home, devoid of a place to rest? I find no comfort within these metal walls.
In a small meeting room aboard the ship, the Nagai Jedi sat in meditation with a few journeymen fledglings.
“This enemy is unlike any you have faced?” He said smoothly, breaking the silence.
“No matter what you’ve come across, it is nothing in comparison. My only wish is that I could have more comforting words, words, that I hope are not the last I speak, nor the last you hear.”
Their faces grew pale and hands clammy as images of the black clad warriors filled their heads and dominated their thoughts.
“Study this enemy.” And with a deep breath, he released
“He has already studied you.”
Indominatable was the situation, and impossible was its outcome, or so it seemed. Victory could always squeeze by the skin of its teeth. Incessantly, the Jedi commanded, “Think of your enemy, think of yourself: What are you? Who are you? What do you have worth defending? Are you worth defending? Are you worth dying for? Would you die for? Can you die for?.....Will, you die for?”
The entire group was in consternation as a response to the questions posed.
“Surely they weren’t meant to die. If they were, what prolongs their life? Why should death come so much sooner for so many than later for the rest?”
”There are no answers in these meditations. Only more questions. Delving into the logic, the meaning of these events is to break down a ship. Each and every component no matter the size has meaning. But can do without if necessary”
“Come” he said as he picked up his Vibrosword and led the group out of the room and into a vacant corner of the hangar.
“Journeymen, we continue; Arm yourselves.”
The entire group of young Arconans began their daily ritual of strike and repeat, slash and stab.
“1, 2, 3, 4. Slash, Stab, Block, Parry!” He continually said to his group in repetition; their Vibroblades slicing and cutting through the air.
“No better time to learn.”
The sharp smell of sweat and blood permeated the cramped training hall as Illian drilled the troopers of Blue Mist for the umpteenth time. The white-haired Obelisk paced up and down between his men, scowling dangerously.
‘AGAIN! Shadow-fist… strike… strike… flow into Bacch’nal… strike… strike… I said flow Dorn, not stumble! You will all repeat this until you get it right! AGAIN!’ A chorus of groans accompanied his command, which he quickly silenced with a chilling stare. JS was absent from the group, his duties taking him away for the afternoon.
It had been several days since Talos had tendered his resignation as commander to take up the mantle of Aedile of Galeres, and dumped the temporary care of the battle team on Illian. The insane Jedi was about as comfortable with leadership as he was with Rodians, that being not at all (he still had to convince himself that Dorn was just a very strange looking Bothan in order to function around him). Some notes from Sashar had provided the basis for the training regime he had implemented since, driving the Blue Mistians as hard as he could.
As he skulked through his team he felt the ground suddenly shift beneath him. The ‘Eye was shifting course, which meant they had a destination. And a destination meant they may have a mission, something the green-eyed Obelisk had been craving for a while.
‘Alright maggots, gear up and get ready to receive orders. Dismissed.’ Illian Syn, Major of Blue Mist, gave a sinister laugh as his neon eyes blazed out. ‘Well now lets see what mayhem my mad Consul will grant me this time…’
It seemed like forever since Xar'Kahn had set foot on solid terrestrial ground and over the past few weeks it was getting to Xar, his usually cool and calm character slowly giving way to a more aggressive and unforgiving persona. Surprisingly it was what his team and Clan needed. Xar's laid back look on life was not particularly the best way to progress down the path of Darkness. Xar had felt his connection with the force strengthen slightly as he became more frustrated. Today, like every other, his frustrations were being taken out on training bots. It had been a while though since he had re-lit his lightsaber, preferring to train in personal combat in recent times. Xar was in a world of his own, using his need to set foot on earth against the dozen droids he had set to attempt to fight him. Within minutes he had slain them all, still though his anger was not dimmed in the slightest.
"Xar! I thought we left you back at Dajorra!" came an excited voice from somewhere behind him. Since the Vong invasion Xar had been very reclusive, speaking to no one save for those who stumbled upon him.
"No, no. I have just been busy. You'll never get rid of me, Mal." Xar replied without turning.
"Good to hear. Nice job with those droids. Keep it up. Timeros wants us all to be alert and ready for something. He thinks maybe a bit of fun is coming our way."
Xar's eyes lit up at the prospect of getting off this god-forsaken ship. "Mal, you got time for a duel?"
BAC Darkest Night
Talos sat in quiet, contemplative, meditation in the Communications Room of the Galeres Flagship, his lightsaber floating before him. "Well...your thoughts Talos?" asked Rho d'Tana, the Quaestor leaning back in his flo-form chair and running a hand through his long, spiky, black hair. "It's an interesting move and will either make us or break us further" replied the Aedile. The Human turned his head as his best friend rose from his chair and walked over to the viewport and leaned his head against it. "I agree. Yet our current predicament makes me wonder...can we broken any further?" Rho d'Tana asked, a grim look on his face as he once again stared out at the nomads of Clan Arcona.
"High, low, parry, strike!" issued a Marine Captain as he held onto combat targets for the Aedile as Talos followed the precise instructions of the captain. Talos was in the main training area of the flagship, practicing melee combat, without the Force. Ever since the fate of Arcona had sunk in, Talos had enlisted the help of Marine Squad Alpha to help him learn melee combat without using the Force, as the Force wouldn't help when Arcona went to fight the Yuuzhan Vong for Dajorra back. "Spin, duck, jump-kick!" yelled the Captain as he moved the targets accordinly. Talos pivoted on his right, ducked and leapt into the air into what was called a 'running kick', nailing the targets perfectly. "That's the end of the squence sir. Again?" asked the captain. Talos was about to say yes, as he went through routines about 10 times a day, but a familiar Force-presence spoke into his mind, 30 minutes, which him decline. "That will be enough, thank you Captain" responded Talos as he wiped his brow with a cloth that a Marine Corporal brought him.
Talos stepped out of the training gyms sani-steam and quickly dressed in his Dar'Verd Combat suit. He emerged from the gym to find Malidir Erinos Arconae leaning against the bulkhead across from him, similary dressed in his own Dar'Verd armor. "Greetings Aedile" he said. "Hey Malidir. What can I do for you?" the Scout asked. "Timeros wants us in the Soulfire training area as soon as possible. I sensed you in the area so I thought I'd be nice and relay the news in person" the Clan Rollmaster said. "Thanks. Shall we go?" asked Talos. "Indeed" replied the Arconae and he led the way towards the turbo-lift.
Draco Maligo pushed the Tie bomber as hard as it would go. The Eye of the Abyss was scheduled to go to lightspeed, and the Dark Jedi Knight didn’t want to be left behind. He didn’t know the situation, only that he had gotten an immediate recall order. The craft was more sluggish than the normal Phantom he flew, but with needing a larger ship to enable the Tetrarch to carry an extra gunslinger he didn’t have a choice.
The passenger, one of the mercenaries recruited to Prophecy Phyle as an auxiliary force, showed no outward signs of distress. But a brief flare through the Force betrayed her anxiety. Maligo ignored it. It was going to be close and he didn’t need the distraction.
“Signal the flag to drop the shields,” Draco ordered. The gray slab of ship was looming up in the viewport now, the blue fringe girding the docking bay entrance, the haven for which the Tie sped. Then the muff was gone, the tiny craft swallowed up by the behemoth of a star destroyer, and just as Maligo set the bomber down, the deck shuddered as the flagship of the Arcona fleet jumped to hyperspace and its unknown destination.
The two beings climbed out of the ship. “Check on the readiness of the mercenary force, and report back to me immediately. We need to be ready for action.” With a curt salute the gunslinger departed, leaving Maligo headed alone for the clan briefing room.
Soulfire stood gathered around in a tight circle listening intently to the drills there stand-in commander wished to train. After ten minutes of detailed explanation the team was ready to face there individual and team challenges. First up, a simple door breach manoeuvre, one the boys had trained for over a thousand times. It was now standard practice. Zandro laid the charge, boom. Timeros and Malidir breach the door mirroring each other, one to the left, one to the right. Xar and Juda follow closely. Then pair by pair, the others enter the room, taking down targets as they see them, the battlemeld already in effect, the team as efficient as ever. Then into a standard capture procedure. Then hostages, then open combat. Finally, the team assembled for a final battle. One-on-one, close quarters training. Soulfiran vs Soulfiran. The best way to train is to train against the best.
Xar had been paired against the leaner, but meaner, Talos. A new recruit into the ranks of Soulfire, though very well deserved. Xar realised it was actually the first time they had ever really come into contact. Prior to this it was all brief acknowledgments of existence, otherwise nothing. This should be a good intitation for the newbie.
The pair took centre stage. Timeros spoke "Begin." And it was on.
Dark Orb Bay
Eye of the Abyss II
Etah rose from his slumber. He had been late in his meditations and this early rise annoyed him slightly, but he remained silent. He watched Lego and two of his comrade’s step purposely from the bay doors. ‘So, the ship has changed course’ the Sakiyan thought to himself. ‘They could be going to rescue Antei, but that is unlikely’. Etah hoped they were going to retake Dajorra. It was probably a futile effort in the face of the Vong, but if they weren’t gonna scatter and resist in small pockets, the Obelisk Templar preferred to face his enemy and die a soldier. Shoving these thoughts aside the Scout reached over and grabbed a cleaning kit and his EE-3 carbine rifle. Cracking the weapon open he grabbed the bore brush and began to clean, hoping he would get a chance to fire it soon.
ISDII Eye of the Abyss II
Legorii, Zandro, and Strategos entered the bridge, looking around at the officers hard at work at their positions. The Tetrarch scanned the room, looking for the Proconsul or Consul, but didn't see either. The Dark Jedi Knight nodded to Strategos and Zandro, giving them leave to do as they pleased, but to be around if they were needed.
The leader of a sixty man team of tactical assault marines made his way across the pristine floor of the bridge, past the navigators and pilots hard at work keeping the ship on course. At the far end of the room stood Commodore Sulaco, staring out the viewport. Legorii's heels clicked as he walked, in a perfect rhythm, but Sulaco did not turn to look at the Dark Jedi.
"Commodore...?" Legorii asked hesitantly, as the officer still hadn't acknowledged Legorii's presence. The Tetrarch stood beside Sulaco, his hands clasped tightly behind his back, quite a bit taller than the commanding officer of Arcona's flagship. It took a few moments for the Selenian to turn and even look at the Knight.
"Yes, Lieutenant?" Sulaco turned and looked grimly at Legorii, who coughed once and cleared his throat. The powerfully built Anzat could have easily crushed Sulaco, but even though he was a Dark Jedi the commodore had higher security clearance and command in the Clan than he did.
"Commodore, could you tell me why the Eye of the Abyss has shifted its course? This is a matter of obvious importance, and as Tetrarch of the Dark Orb Phyle I feel that it is my duty to be familiar with the circumstances regarding the movements of this ship." Legorii finished with a harder edge to his tone than he had taken before, causing the Commodore to raise an eyebrow.
“You presume too much, Anzati. The movements of this ship are the business of its commanding officers and the Clan Summit. I do not believe you are cleared to know the information regarding our course shift, and I don’t think that I am at liberty to share those details with you. My most humble apologies.” Sulaco finished sarcastically, as though he was taunting the Lieutenant.
Legorii’s eyes flashed in momentary anger, but he saluted crisply before turning on his heel. So be it. If not even the Commodore would tell him, he’d have to find Sashar or Mejas. The Tetrarch was fuming on the inside, how dare Sulaco refuse him like that? The Anzat would have to speak with someone about it.
As the Dark Jedi Knight left the bridge in search of the Consul, he wondered how his Quaestor, back onboard the BAC Shadow, was coping with the sudden changes. He’d probably already been notified by someone, as was customary. Legorii hoped that Mejas or Dash would be just leaving their quarters, so that he could run in to them on the way.
Illian was on his way to the bridge himself when he caught sight of his old Anzat Lieutenant heading in the opposite direction. From the way Legorii was stalking down the corridor, his face a mask of anger, it seemed he had attempted to divulge the ‘Eye’s destination without success.
‘Why so serious?’ the slim Knight called out jestingly, causing the Dark Orb Phyle commander to look up sharply. Seeing Illian the Anzat relaxed slightly.
‘I just got royally shafted by Sulaco. If your heading up towards the bridge, don’t bother. There’s nothing there but military stone-walling.’ The mad Knight laughed at his comrade’s response, causing Legorii to frown slightly. ‘You’re in a good mood Ill. Know something I don’t?’
‘Old friend, I know many things you do not. None of them are any use to us now of course…’ The Obelisk trailed off as his eyes went slightly unfocussed. Legorii just laughed, recognising one of Illian’s lapses into mental disfunction.
‘Well, if you have any luck finding Sashar or Mejas, tell them I’m looking for them. Darkness protect you clan-brother.’ With that the Anzat strode away.
Illian continued to gaze off into nothingness for a moment, strange images pounding through his mind like fragmented pieces of glass. He had given up trying to harness the visions a long time ago, as he had never been able to focus long enough to do so. Despite this, small slivers of the future resolved just clearly enough to show the chaos awaiting Arcona at their mysterious destination. Shaking his head, the mad Knight tried to clear his mind, rubbing his temple with a black metal claw. Pulling his communicator free he sent a brief message to all members of Blue Mist.
‘Meet in the training hall in one hour. Don’t be late or ill rip out your intestines and skip rope with them.’
Dathka put down his communicator. Frustrated about Illian's command of a meeting for all the members of blue mist. They had just finished training extremely not long before and then Illian left them for a while.
The switch from Talos to Illian as leader was kinda unsettling. Dathka was used to Talos' training, but Illian was a much different leader.. He was much harsher and just all around different from Talos.. But Talos had moved on to higher leadership so he just had to wait to see who the new long term leader would be....
Dathka flicked on his lightsaber and started pacing, swinging it around in boredom...
Just then Raith walked in to the training room. "Hey Dathka, why the saber?"
"Just thinking about all the happenings lately. Things have been much different without Talos as our leader and its just on my mind,"
"Well things will get better, we will get a leader soon and we are in a feud right now so we need to focus on the fight for now."
"I know, I just need a battle to get me in a better mood. Hey care for a friendly fight?"
"Sure just take it easy on me this time."
"Ok, i wont take you as fast this time." T
The two grabbed a couple training sabers and started fighting.
Just then, Illian walked in.
Illian strode into the hall, seeing Dathka and Wraith cycling through basic lightsaber techniques as they fought each other in the make-shift hall. Instead of stopping them, Illian only watched, nodding approvingly as Wraith nearly disarmed Dathka, only to receive a vicious upper-cut for his efforts. The troops were still young but showed incredible promise, apparent even to the mad Knight.
Taking a seat in the shadows of the cramped hall, he let them continue for a while. As soon as the rest of the team arrived, he would tell them of his vision and begin the preparations they would require to be ready for deployment, but for now he was content to let them hone their skills. They had trained hard the last few days, with little rest and no respite, and yet they still had enough fight left in them for a friendly brawl.
Illian wondered what it would be like to lead them, to show them the madness that he found so useful in battle. As his eyes flared up Dathka spotted him, and Illian emerged from his hiding place. Approaching the Trooper he bowed deeply, before pulling his sabre Torment free and taking on the duellist stance and igniting the blade.
‘Unity is strength battle-brother. If you have a problem with me, let us not hold back. Speak your mind so that we may be of one mind.’
BAC Darkest Night: Soulfire Training Gym
Talos pulled his combat helmet on just as Timeros started the drill. Moving forward, with Rho by his side, they breached through the door and each scored a target apiece before assuming proper cover positions.
A half hour later, Talos was sitting on a makeshift crate, drinking a cup of water and smiling broadly. For the longest time he had wanted to work with Soulfire Strike Team and now he was finally getting his wish. His thoughts were ended quickly when Timeros called out the next two combatants.
"Knight Xar'Kahn and Knight Talos d'Tana, report to the training circle" Timeros called out.
Talos and Xar'Kahn stood facing each other and for the first time, Talos got the chance to really stare into the face of the Heavy Weapons Specalist. Sure they had seen each other plenty of times around the BAC and when they still owned Dajorra, but never this close or ever participating in the same action.
"Begin!" instructed Timeros.
With that, the two black-clad figures charged.
En Route to the Cocytus System
"I sense great tumult already." Vorion murmured, his eyes on the flickering holodisplay. The Quaestor sighed, adjusting one glossy black pauldron, his inquisitive squint never relenting as he watched the tiny holographic ships floating about in the simulation. "Commodore Sulaco's stone-walling is a likely indicator that the current plan of action is unusually drastic - if not downright desperate."
Tetrarch Legorii's voice crackled across the commlink. "Sir, I'm inclined to agree with you there. Ever since Dark Orb Phyle has been quartered aboard the Eye, I've observed a tension amongst the Clan and a...dampened morale and deflated ego. The crew is simply ready to go home." Legorii finished, the broad Anzati nostrils flaring, the frustration evident in every line of his body.
Vorion sighed, raking a gloved hand through the the thick tangle of his sepia dreads. "Report to me in person, immediately. There's time for a last-minute shuttle. I have briefing for your ears only, Tetrarch. I think I can answer some of your questions."
ISDII Eye of the Abyss II
Legorii closed the comlink quietly, listening to the sound of the flagships officers going about their business on the bridge behind him. It was grim business, and morale really was down since the Yuuzhan Vong had so cruelly stolen the Dajorra System out from under the noses of Clan Arcona. The Anzat was frustrated that neither the Proconsul or Consul had come to explain the situation to him, and the Commodore had been most unhelpful, as usual.
If his Quaestor wanted him to report onboard the BAC Shadow, Legorii supposed it was his duty as Tetrarch to go and report there. The offer of questions answered was what really drew the Knight to his friend and superior, Vorion. If his fellow Knight could help explain this peculiar situation, getting around the stonewalling of the upper echelons of the Arcona military, then Dark Orb would finally have a purpose.
The Anzati warrior flipped open his comlink again, immediately connecting with his own Master, Strategos. "Master, Quaestor Vorion has called me privately to the Shadow. I will most likely be there when this [Expletive Deleted] breaks down, and will be in contact with the team over the comlinks until our fighter squadrons take to the sky, where I plan to rejoin you. I want you and Zandro lurking around the bridge, ring me up if you hear anything important. Kryptknight out."
Then, the Anzat figured his boys could take it from there, and strode off toward the hangar to find his personal fighter, Incizor. The TIE Avenger had carried Legorii in the last few major battles and skirmishes Arcona had been involved in, and the Knight loved the feel of the craft at his fingertips in the chaos of combat.
Legorii landed his Avenger silently, quickly bringing it to a halt and powering down all of its systems. The capital ships were nearing the jump to hyperspace, and Legorii had barely made it inside the hangar in time. He definitely wouldn't be making it back to the Abyss in time to rejoin his team before the jump.
The Knight vaulted out of the cockpit, landing lightly and setting off at a brisk pace towards the Captain's Lounge, where Vorion had instructed him to meet at. Legorii knew his way around the cruiser, and it didn't take long to arrive at the door to the Lounge. Legorii knocked lightly on the door, to be polite.
Vorion pulled open the door immediately, ushering Legorii in and pointing to a couch opposite the chair he was sitting in. “Legorii, we need to talk.”
En Route to the Cocytus System
"So." Vorion said simply.
The tall and slender Quaestor sat impasively, hunched over his steepled fingers. His sepia eyes glinted with malevolence as they watched those of the Anzati Tetrarch, and he merely brooded as he curled the Dark Side around him like a malignant and indefinable shroud.
Legorii sank weakly down onto the well-made Corellian couch, his jaw agape as he surveyed the ever-revolving battle diagram above the holotable. "Madness. Sheerest folly." he managed weakly, tearing his eyes away to meet those of his Quaestor. The Anzat's smooth, broad features tightened, his abject disbelief swiftly revolving into unbridled rage. "Idiocy! The Consul is a madman!" Legorri spat.
"We shall see, my friend. We shall see." Vorion said softly, pensively, as the cruiser around him buzzed with activity in preparation for what he hoped wasn't a voyage to their graves.
BAC Darkest Night:Soulfire Training Gym
Talos and Xar'Kahn danced an elegant dance of clashing lightsabers, the two Elite Commandos focusing on only the defeat of their opponent. Talos's scarlet saber locked against Xar'Kahns cerulean blade and the two Soulfire men came to a stop for the first time in 15 minutes.
"You're pretty good, newbie" said Xar'Kahn over his lightsaber.
"Thanks. Same goes to you" replied the Aedile.
Then the Heavy Weapons Specalilst unleashed a vicous kick, sending the lesser Knights lightsaber high into the air, where Xar's blue lightsaber flicked upwards and sliced straight through the hilt.
"There will only be Mele`e only!" boomed the voice of Timeros, the acting Soulfire Sergeant.
Xar nodded and tossed his lightsaber aside, where Malidir quickly picked it up and put it on a crate.
"Shadow Boxing!" commanded the Epis.
Talos and Kahn went through the Movements with Talos winning the set.
Kahn lashed out violently at the Aedile, sending Talos sprawling to the ground.
"Alright boys, get all your weapons from the armory! Talos, grab a Soulfire lightsaber to use. We're powering up the Fleet Plan Capture SIM.
Excidium II (SIM)
Talos Shadowblood d’Tana, Soulfire Strike Team Scout and Aedile of Galeres stood with his Erinos Plasma Projector-2 Assault Carbine at the ready. “On my mark Team…3…2…1” said Timeros Entar over the Strike Teams secure channel. “Breach! Breach!” announced Timeros and he signaled to Lucius d’Tana with a nod. Lucius pressed the detonator to a C4 explosive charge and the door to the Excidium II’s hangar door exploded. The Strike Team breached the door, shuffling down the hall, their weapons swinging this way and that as they cleared all the alcoves of the Star Destroyer.
“Crew quarters on our left, Sarge” said Malidir Arconae.
“Copy; Strike Team, prepare to enter” replied the Entar. Timeros motioned and Talos stepped forward, extending his right arm and activating the scanner to crack the lock.
Within a minute, the Strike Team was sweeping down the corridor. “Sir, AEF Intel reports that the fleet organization plans should be one floor above, under heavy guard in the Intelligence Officers quarters.” Rho d’Tana reported, having just gotten a report from the Arcona Expeditionary Force Intelligence Section.
“Right, move down and up. Talos; prepare to bypass the turbo-lifts holo-recorders and hack the lift codes” ordered the Epis.
“Gotcha Sergeant” said the Aedile and he quickly moved down the corridor. Talos came to a quick halt and extended his arm to the holo-pad by the turbo-lift. A series of flashes and a small ‘whooshing’ sound was heard as the turbo-lift came to a stop and the door opened with next to no sound. The rest of the Commando’s quickly arrived and piled into the tubro-lift, quickly arranging themselves in a 50/50 formation, which was when half the Strike Team knelt on one knee by the door to the lift and the other half stood directly behind them, both sections with their weapons at the ready.
When the turbo-lift door opened, the black-armored Commando’s came face to face with two Excidium Security Agents. Without any hesitation, Xar’Kahn and Talos opened fire with their silenced SSK-7 Heavy Blaster Pistols, a headshot for each of them.
“Tango 1 down” reported the Heavy Weapons Specialist
“Tango 2 down” comm’d in Talos, as he holstered his SSK-7.
“Good work guys, continue on towards the target area” congratulated Juda, the Mandalorian taking point as they neared their target.
“Alright boys, we’re here. Lucius, set up a det-pack” ordered Timeros as the Commando’s pulled up to the door of the Intelligence Officers quarters.
“Yes sir!” answered Lucius as he began setting up a remote-det-pack.
Five minutes later saw Timeros nod and Lucius press a red button on his armor’s Datapad. The door flashed as the silent det-pack melted the lock. Malidir kicked out and the door thundered down and hit the floor with a loud ‘crash’. The Intel officer sprung from his bed, only to come face-to-muzzle with Rho’s SSK-7. “Don’t move” ordered the Nagai.
“Right scum, where are the fleet plans?” asked Timeros. The officer just stared defiantly at Timeros, but in a quick glance, his eyes darted up towards a hidden camera. Juda caught the gaze and spun on his heel and fired two shots from his own SSK-7, rendering the camera all but a sparking pile of scrap.
“Fierfek! They know we’re here” cursed Juda.
“Damn! Rho, get the fleet plans. Talos, get the Drexl warmed up, we’ll be making a hot escape. All the Strike members nodded and set to work.
“Sir! Officer Dentil says that the gunship will be ready for our arrival” reported Talos.
“Timeros; I have the plans!” announced Rho, holding up a dataplan.
“Excellent work; Strike Team, pull back and double-time it back to the Drexl” ordered the Krath as he took point and charged out of the room. As the Strike Team ran for the elevator, the doors opened and three Security Agents stepped out, raising Prax-Arms AXM 50 Assault Rifles. Timeros, Malidir, and Juda raised their Lancers and fired once each and the Security Guards fell.
“Nice shooting guys” said Timeros as the unit took the lift down and charged down the crew quarter corridor, paying no attention to stealth. By the time that the Strike Team rushed back into the hangar, Malidir, Rho, Talos, and Timeros were engaged in lightsaber duels with Scholae Dark Jedi.
“Sergeant, we are ready to lift off” reported Weapons Officer Jade Dentil.
“Right then. DO IT!!!” Timeros shouted as he pulled Rho and Talos onboard and Malidir leapt aboard.
"SIM over. Average grade: 97%. Congratulations Soulfire Strike Team" said the female voice of the Darkest Nights main computer.
"With that performance, we'll hit Scholae Palatinae hard...get some rest. We'll be cracking skulls soon enough" announced Timeros.
Legorii sat on the couch, his head in his hands. What were they gonna do about the situation. "Alright, explain the situation again. Surely we can make sense of the situation and decide the appropriate course of action." The Anzati Tetrach was still angry, of course, but he realized that they had to make something of the issue.
For a minute, Vorion did not respond. His fingers were interlocked before him, the gears of his mind whirling as he was deep in thought. He then turned and looked at the younger Dark Jedi, a grim look on his face. “The situation won’t matter, when everything breaks down. Well, I suppose we’ll just have to follow orders like good little boys. You know, trust that the top knows what they’re doing. Let’s hope.”
Legorii stared at the ceiling for a few minutes, letting out a great sigh. “I suppose so…”
With the training Timeros had set completed, the Soulfire team retreated to there private team quarters. Each member made final preparations for whatever was about to unfold. There was a surge in the force that did not waver, every one of Arconas brothers and sisters could feel it. Battle was closing in. The Elders were very quiet about what was to come. No non-summit members were able to get an audience with the Consul, or his Apprentice. There was a distinct separation between the powers that be and the rest. This was typical. Consul Mejas played his cards close to his chest, during times of war, this is often the wisest move. There had been rumours of infiltration in Arconas fleet. Since leaving Dajorra, the possibility of a spy on board one of the ships was increased as everyone else was worried about more important things.
Xar'Kahn sat silently checking his weapons, making sue they were all in proper working condition. He had broken down each of his guns and cleaned them at least four times today. Xar's mind was not working properly, his routine for battle wasn't making sense, so he was doing everything out of order and forgetting what he had done already. He needed fresh air. Air that only came from feet on solid ground. He longed for land. Space was fine for short periods of time, but months on end was not for Xar. He left his team to have a cold shower and clear his mind. He was not fit for war in this state of mind.
<<Thirty minutes later...>>
Xar re-entered the team room fresh and ready. No sooner had he taken his seat then Timeros entered. There was a feel of desperation in the air. Timeros coughed to get his teams attention.
"Boys, we have orders."
En Route to the Cocytus System
The audio feedback crackled as the holovid feed flickered erratically. The glowing blue projection of Tyren Atema, sharply dressed in a Coruscanti business suit smirked roguishly at his friend and former apprentice who hovered like a titan over the holotable. "How goes, Vorion?"
The Ubese shrugged stoically. "Nothing terribly extraordinary. Staging an impossible invasion of the heavily-fortified Palatinae system. Highly likely we'll meet a blazing death in the thick of raging battle."
"Oh. That's rather pedestrian." Tyren remarked, deflated.
"Yeah. It's dull. How's business?" Vorion inquired curiously.
"It's going. Synergy is digging it's finger into many pies amongst the Mid-Rim interests; it's just a matter of time before we've got the sizable financial backing we need to expand." Tyren replied.
Vorion nodded. "Excellent. Keep me posted on what's going on. I've got to go prepare for the invasion, I'll talk to you soon, hopefully from the comfort of our newly-conquered homeworld."
Tyren grinned, tapping his eyepatch. "Sounds alright. I'll come by and we can have whatever passes for booze out in that backwater system. Don't get yourself killed."
"Count on it." Vorion grinned humorlessly, terminating the transmission and once again turning to face Tetrarch Legorii. "Come. Let's see to the preparations personally." The two strode out of the lounge, towards the turbolift, determined to occupy themselves with inspection of the marines whom their lives now rested upon.
Dark Orb Bay
ISDII Eye of the Abyss II
Etah lay on his rack, staring at a piece of paper in his hands. He had already broke his weapon down and cleaned it twice, he had done pre-combat inspections on his gear like any good soldier should, but it was a wasted effort. He would not be joining the Dark Orb in any Combat Missions. The paper he was looking at was an order of transfer. He was to be appointed Battle Team Leader of the Blue Mist Squadron. The gear he had so carefully inspected was now packed and ready for word from the Qel-Droma and Galeres summits that the transfer had officially taken place.
Rather than risking his life on ground and firing his weapon at the enemy like he was accustomed, he was set to face a Proconsul who wasn’t his biggest fan and some members of the Blue Mist who would likely resent the new leadership. He would inherit command of the Elite Battleteam of Arcona and would experience the pressure to keep them Elite. Most importantly to him however, was living up to the confidence both Rho and Talos had placed in him. Looking over the words in the transfer order, Etah mused that staying with the Dark Orb would have been much simpler.
Arador noted Etah laying, staring all too blatantly at a paper. Arador thought to himself, ‘either Etah can’t read, or…’ he couldn’t think of another explanation for it. One coming in and one going out, Dark Orb was changing slowly, but this change wasn’t without direction from someone.
Arador was new to Dark Orb, inexperienced, and all to ready for war. To him it seemed like it was just a few days ago that he had joined the brotherhood and was worried about passing exams at the Shadow Academy. In fact it was. He had noticed most of the men about the ship were down trodden; their spirits had suffered from the insufferably long time they had spent in space. Everyone, the past few days, had been preparing for whatever was coming, going over exorcizes, dueling, and trading insults. Arcona was trying to purge itself of all inner turmoil so they would be ready.
There was an easily discernable unease over the ship, a troubling energy trembling in the Force that often came before massive confrontation. The men could sense it. Unlike most of the men on the ship who were anxious and disturbed over what was coming, Arador had another trouble. Rumors, whispers really, were moving and floating around about spies having infiltrated Arcona’s ranks. It wasn’t so troubling, the fact that there could be sabotage just at the wrong moment, or the fact that one of Arcona’s most vital leaders could be assassinated. What troubled Arador was the suspicion.
The dirty, smelly, unwashed —who knows where that’s been- finger of an accuser always had to point somewhere. It certainly wouldn’t have been the first time Arador hade been in an area of high mistrust by his fellows. Arador was one of the newest people in Arcona, it was perfectly reasonable to suspect him, except that Arador knew the spies weren’t members of the Clan. His knowledge had come to him just the previous night, but Arador was far over his head, and hadn’t had time to speak with Legorii.
There were countless jobs to be done on the ship, and one extra worker could go unnoticed easily. What was not understandable was who that one worker was reporting to. ‘But why would the Proconsul need to…’ The inner machinations of Arador’s mind were abruptly interrupted by the loud clanking of boots on the floor, and then a diffused shadow encroaching over him. A darkened voice grated out, “We need to speak.”
The Dark Jedi Knight walked slowly among the ranks of mercenaries, inspecting their equipment and searching their feelings through the Force. Maligo had scoured the galaxy for the hard-bitten men and women who stood before him. Due to the war with the Vong, most of the mercenaries and retired military personnel had joined up with the New Republic, lately called the Galactic Alliance, so Draco had to find the beings he needed in prison and in pirate groups.
Which was fine. Sometimes, with proper motivation and leadership the dregs of humanity proved exceptional spies and commandos. And in the case of prisoners waiting on death row, a certain amount of gratitude increased their obedience. Since these beings weren’t being used as front-line soldiers, and got a healthy cut of any booty Prophecy Phyle pulled in from their missions, they were about as dedicated as they could be.
Gulith Yarnn, a member of the special forces on Tarento before his recruitment, stepped out of line and saluted. “Sir, what is the nature of the mission before us?”
Draco stopped a moment. “I haven’t been briefed yet, but I want you all at top readiness. Most likely we’ll be thrown into action as soon as we come out of hyperspace. So whenever I receive my orders I’ll pass yours on down to you.” He saluted the man. Somewhat impertinent, but a good soldier.
A young naval officer ran up to the Dark Jedi Knight and saluted. “Sir, clan summit is meeting up on B deck in ten minutes.”
Maligo waved his hand, and the youth dashed away. Now, perhaps, it was time for answers.
A dark figure stirred in his sleep as his lone Firespray-class ship stormed through hyperspace. Something in the Force was not right. Not right at all, and whatever it was had caused him to be unable to sleep well for a while now.
"Arriving at Dajorra System in thirty minutes. Disengaging autopilot in five, four, three..."
The female voice of the ship's computer caused the figure to awake. Rubbing his eyes, James Lucius Entar looked at one of the blinking displays. Something was amiss. The former Lord Archon had been away from his clan's adopted home planet for quite a while, researching alien technology in the faraway reaches of the galaxy, and he was sure he had seen this void in space somewhere before. Then it dawned on him. The Vong! But how could that be?. Quickly, the Adept drew his ship to a halt, then reversed course. Sighing deeply, he turned to the on-board holovid and opened a transmission to the Eye of the Abyss.
"This is Adept James Entar Arconae. I need to contact Consul Doto or another member of the Inner Order immediately!"
OT: My attempt to insert my character into the runon storyline, as there's no way I can claim James was with the fleet since the beginning. Feel free to pick up this branch and continue it.
In orbit over Judecca, Scholae Palatinae homeworld
Officers and marines scurried across the deck of the Shadow
's bridge as Commander Hodezan barked out orders, his gravelly voice piercing the fevered chatter as he demanded status reports from each of the bridge's stations.
The ploy had worked, Vorion noted with satisfaction. At the very last moment, as the fleet had emerged from hyperspace, Vorion had become frighteningly aware of the intense void in the Force surrounding them - which he had quickly learned was the efforts of the Inner Order. They fleet had advanced as a silent, monolithic shade under the cloak cast around them by the Arconan Elders.
And without warning, they had struck, the flotilla emerging from the shroud to to fall like ravenous pirates upon the unsuspecting fleet of the Children of Palpatine. The opening battery had been swift and relentless, and from the transparisteel viewport the Shadow Lord's ordained guardian of Qel-Droma could see the heavy turbolaser fire, green bolts lancing against the pitch backdrop of space.
"Captain; the starfighter detachment for the bombing run has been deployed, and the Shadow
's fighter screen has been scrambled!" No sooner than Commander Lauraugina
saluted and breathlessly issued the status report, the familiar TIE
Interceptors of Silver Night Squadron
sped past the viewport as the Shadow
continued it's advance.
"Well done. Concentrate all turbolaser fire on the Excidium II
the moment we enter range. Let's slaughter these impudents!" Vorion snarled, his dark eyes gleaming with malice.
The massive, verdant world of Judecca loomed beneath the Bothan assault cruiser as it slid forward as one with the looming specter of the Arcona armada, fast approaching the massing Scholae forces.
Cocytus System: Judecca: Soulfire Shuttle
Talos d'Tana, Xar'Kahn, and Malidir Arconae sat in the cockpit of the stealth shuttle, watching the start of the engagement between Scholae Palatinae and Arcona.
"We'll win this. We hit them hard and with the element of surprise on our side" said Xar'Kahn as he saw an Arconan snubfighter destroy a CSP fighter.
"Hopefully Xar. Remeber that CSPs fleet is larger" responded Malidir, stroking his well-groomed beard.
Talos was reading a holo-briefing when a familiar Force-nudge made him look up. With an intake of breath, he realized who it was from.
"Here they come" whispered the Aedile, his attention glued to the viewport.
"Who?" asked the Heavy Weapons Specalilst.
"Blue Mist..." said Talos with pride in his voice. A second later the V-38 TIE Phantoms of Blue Mist flew past the Soulfire shuttle, their blue lasers spitting out a torent of death against the snubs of Scholae.
As the three Commando's watched Blue Mist, Timeros entered the cockpit.
"Briefing now gents" said the Sergeant.
"Alright, so we move out in roughly 2.5 days and infiltrate the Excidium, which will be the most dangerous part of this mission and the most complicated, seeing as we have our fleet and Scholae's engaged and a thick of it between us and our entry point" briefing Timeros, the Heragan flipping through holo-images.
"We'll actually begin our entry tomorrow at 0430, which will take us about a day and a half to get to Entry Point Alpha, for we have to maximize our stealth. For if we are caught, we'll be killed and Arcona will lose this fight" continued the Sergeant.
"Everyone got that?" concluded the Epis.
Getting nods of affirmation from all his men, he ordered them to their bunks, for a rare chance at sleep.
Talos quickly stripped down into his armor-weave pants and climbed into his military-issue cot in a back part of the shuttle. Across from him, Xar'Kahn was already fast asleep, his electronic eye dimmed.
Talos sat up and rubbed his d'Tana crest on his left shoulder and his Soulfire tattoo on his right, as was his nightly ritual and then layed down and pulled the thin cover over him. Clearing his mind as he hadn't in many months, the Knight was asleep before he hit the pillow.
0430 hours: Soulfire Stealth Shuttle Cockpit
Talos sat down in the cockpit of the Shuttle and leaned back against the cushions of the pilots chair. He hadn't opted to put his armor on this early and was dressed in his sleeping garments, armor-weave pants, with the addition of rancor-leather boots. He was still shirtless as he gripped the control yoke and powered up the shuttle. The matte-black shuttle eased forward and started its slow journey toward the Excidium II. The space battle was still ongoing but lesser pilots were around, as the best had tired or the main bulk had been sent to their death. Leaning back in the chair, Talos opened up a tight-scan-secure channel to the BAC Shadow, knowing that Emilie Lauraugina would be up, for his girlfriend never slept when a battle was going on, no matter how small.
Emilie smiled at Talos sleepily, her concentration on the waning battle. However she was not so absorbed in the battle that she didn't take in her lovers well-musceled body. Her commanders had always told her that not enough concentration would get her killed, but to much would cause emotional distress, which would lead to stupid decisions that would cause the deaths of many. So, she mused, noting her boyfriends features would not kill her.
"Vorion keeping the fleet together then, love?" asked the Commando.
"Oh very much so. Quaestor Vorion is quite the tactical commander. He is to tactics what you are to being a Special Forces Commando" replied the Tac Lyst, the navy slang for Tactical Analyst.
"Excellent. From what I'm seeing, Arcona is really pulling through. Keep up the good work my love" the Commando said.
They chatted for the next hour, until Talos had to cut off the link as he began to weave through the thick of the waning space battle.
Talos was relieved at 0600 by Timeros and made his way back to his cot for another hour and a half of rest. at 0730, Talos slipped into the sani-shower and showered off, the hot water pouring over him. At the end of his shower, Talos flipped the temperature nozzle to all the way cold to wake him up.
Dressed in his Dar'Verd armor, Talos sat on his bunk, cleaning his Erinos Plasma Projector 2. As he finished cleaning the carbine, he looked out the small viewport towards the looming shadow of the Excidium II. Looking down, he moved to his Verpine Projectile Rifle, his demeanor alright lighting up as he thought of his maiden mission with the renowned Soulfire Strike Team.
Legorii jogged through the chaotic corridors of the BAC Shadow, remaining calm and collected in the face of the start of a high-risk invasion. He was headed towards the hangar, where his TIE Interceptor, Incizor, was waiting for him. Officers rushed here and there, some calm and some frenzied. Contact had been made with Clan Scholae Palatinae, and the forces were clashing over the planet Judecca.
The hangar bay doors were already open, and Legorii walked briskly past the rows of fighters launching, with mechanics and pilots scurrying around. His starfighter was waiting in one of the back corners, and he quickly vaulted into the cockpit. The rest of the cruiser’s fighter complement was being launched, to fend off the sixty ships being shot out of the Excidium II.
The Tetrarch slipped his headset on as he switched power to the fighter. The comlink flared to life with a crackle of static, and Legorii wasted no time in connecting to the rest of his commanders. “Dark Orb, I want each of you in a fighter and out here in less than five minutes. We will be giving the enemy clan’s fighters some headaches, and there’s no way I’m doing it alone.”
The comlink beeped rapidly, as he got twelve “Yes sir.” responses. Legorii nodded to himself, glad that he could depend on his team in times like these. They were over on the Eye of the Abyss II, but still Legorii count rely on them as though they were standing beside him.
The Anzat slowly lifted his fighter off the hangar floor, easing it forward and out into space. Among the stars, he felt a small burden disappear, and knew the true bliss and freedom of flight. The feeling faded immediately, as two enemy fighters hurtled towards him spraying blaster fire. Legorii yanked the control stick hard, rolling right. The blaster fire shot past, shortly followed by the fighters.
Legorii turned Incizor around to follow, firing his primary weapons as he tried to take out his first of many enemy pilots in this skirmish. The Palatinae were better than the Arconan would have thought, however, and yawed in a wide arc to dodge. In this way, the space around the capital ships collapsed into the chaos of dozens of mini dogfights.
The battleteam leader wondered where his men were. He knew that they would recognize his ship if they saw it, but in a hellish skirmish like this, chances were they wouldn’t. He checked his comm, but nobody had radioed in yet. Legorii had faith in his comrades and loyal warriors, however, and waited patiently.
Excidium II: Exhaust Port
The Stealth Shuttle unloaded its 6 passengers into the workrooms along the exhaust port alpha. Convening on the catwalk above the shuttle, the un-armored Commandos knelt down around their Sergeant as he unzipped a black duffle bag, revealing 6 sets of white, plasteel Stormtrooper Armor.
"Alright boys, suit up" said Kieran as he threw each member of the Strike Team a set of armor. Since the men were already dressed in the black bodyglove undersuits, the attaching of the plates took only moments.
"Ok, we have our orders. We move out and up to Deck 14, the Armory. Once there, we await further orders from the Shadow Scion. Copy?" asked the Mandalorian, now disguised behind the expression-less helmet of Stormtrooper armor.
Recieveing a chorus of affirimatives, the Commando's snuck through the engine rooms and emerged out in the hangar, where they mixed with the other Stormtroopers and officers of Scholae's Legions.
Sergeant Cethgus Zor-El, leader of the Blades of Chaos, rounded the corner with his men and walked by a squad of Stormtroopers. As they continued down the hall, Cethgus and Dante noticied differences about these Stormtroopers, compared to the rest of the Legions. For one, they were walking straight and with a purpose, not showing even an iota of being disturbed by the constant barrage of turbo-laser fire coming from the Arconans. Another tell was that they were actually walking away from their stations. The biggest problem, and the one that put Dante's mind on red-alert, was that there were no unit IDs or ranks on these Stormtroopers. Going with his gut and the Force, he tapped the last Stormtrooper of this unusual squad.
OOC: The following lines are taken from the Week 3 Storyline
"Name and Unit, trooper" the High Marshal ordered.
"Corporal Hamlin, 2nd Platoon Bravo, 4th Legion, sir!" the trooper replied from behind his helmet.
"Hamlin, how's Colonel Howe these days?" Dante shot back, eager to hear the trooper's response.
"He's not bad sir. Looking to get into the fray, just like the rest of us".
OOC: End of Week 3 Storyline lines
Talos knew this High Marshal had sensed a discrepency when he had tapped Talos on the shoulder, and already a silent alarm was going out to his fellow Commandos.
Sure enough, the corridor was soon lit by a violet lightsaber, which Dante swung not at Talos, but at the lead trooper, who raised his rifle to save his life. The rest of the Blades saw this exchange and activated their lightsabers as well, as Sergeant Zor-El stepped up to the squad leader.
"Who the hell are you?!" Cethgus demanded.
"I am Kieran Kodiak Erinos, and this," he said, as the team brought their own sabers to bear, "is Soulfire Strike Team...."
Primary Star Fighter Bay
ISDII Eye of the Abyss II
“Yes sir” Etah parroted to his Battle Team Leader rising. Dropping the stupid transfer paper, he grabbed up his gear including his battle harness, his drop down holster and his rifle. Instead of donning the gear, he threw it over his shoulder and made a beeline for the door with the rest of the battle team just behind him. It seems they were to be pilots. Not the mission he was expecting, but it was their mission none-the-less. It was a darkly ironic mission given his pending transfer to the Blue Mist squadron.
Making his way out of the bay and down the corridor at a mild run, Etah headed toward the closest Star Fighter bay. The young Monk and former Mercenary was not the galaxies greatest pilot. He could make the Star Fighter go and he could make the weapons go bang, but he wasn’t a match for the average Star Fighter pilot. But orders were orders and half-ass piloting a Star Ship and trying to get a few shots off was better than sitting there and watching the Blue Mist from portholes.
The Equate burst into the fighter bay with several other members of the Dark Orb in tow, how many? He could only guess. But he assumed most if not all of the Battle Team was there. Etah located the hanger Chief, “Do you have a Squadron prepped?” he asked the man he vaguely recognized.
“Yes sir. Twelve Tie-Avengers, prepped, manned and ready to deploy” the husky human replied to the dark skinned demon.
“Unman them, Dark Orb has been ordered into space,” the Sakiyan said as he grabbed a flightsuit and began pulling off his gear.
The man recognized Etah from his short stint as Aedile of the house Galeres and began shouting off orders in various directions. Those orders saw the hatches on the twelve fighters pop open and their pilots stumbling out, wondering what was going on. Having donned his flightsuit and zipped it up, he grabbed his discarded gear and threw it over his shoulder. Looking around he located the closest Tie-Avenger, who’s pilot had fully exited. Running over, he ran up the boarding ramp and began entering the opened hatch.
The Blades of Chaos and Soulfire Strike Team seemed to leap at the same moment, the two Elite fighting with their Jedi weapons. The Legions of Stormtroopers had stopped to watch the ruckus, but two had run off, eager to inform their Proconsul.
Excidium II: Bridge
"Proconsul! Proconsul!" said a Stormtrooper, Private Jacob Nion. Lucien whirled around, already ready to smite the person who had forgone protocol.
"What!?!" he snapped.
"Sir, intruders are fighting the Blades of Chaos, Deck 14 Armory, sir!" stumbled the Stormtrooper.
"Really? Take me to them" ordered the Proconsul, walking briskly out of the bridge.
Excidium II: Deck 14
Rho d'Tana, Quaestor of Galeres, stood back-to-back with Talos d'Tana, Aedile of Galeres as they quickly dispatched two Stormtroopers who had the mistake of firing into their skirmish with the Blades. However, Talos was quickly kicked in the gut by Cethgus, giving time for Dante to move in for a killing blow at Rho. Suddenly, Dante's blade hand stopped before he could take the life of Rho.
Standing at the entrance to the corridor was Lucien Kaeth, the Proconsul of Scholae.
"Dante...hold. Take these men into custody, they will be quite useful. Actually, cut that, Nion, take these men into custody with the rest of the Blades, Dante, with me" ordered Lucien.
Exicidum II: Brig
So you're the renowned Soulfire Strike Team of Arcona?" asked Private Jacob Nion, for the 100th time since the Strike Team's capture.
"Yes" replied Xar'Kahn, so wishing that he didn't have the anti-force-cuffs that negated his Force powers, so he could show the Private how renowed they really were.
Then, Sergeant Cethgus Zor-El walked in, with a look equal to as if he had just seen a rancor baby on his face.
"You're being released..." said the Prelate, unlocking the brig door and motioning them out.
Eye of the Abyss II: Moments ago
"All I ask is that you return Soulfire Strike Team to the flagship, unmolested and unharmed and that you help us find a fertile homeworld upon chasing the Yuuzhan Vong away from Plagueis.
"I suppose I can deal with that" said Phoniex, Emperor of the Cocytus System.
"Then once I see Soulfire Strike Team with my own eyes, on my ship, we will move out?" asked Mejas Doto.
"That would be acceptable" said the Consul of Scolae.
"Very well then. We will talk again when we are ready to move our fleets" said Mejas.
"Of course" responded Phoniex, then he cut off the communication with a curt nod.
While the battle was engulfing space with its kaleidoscopic fury, Prophecy Phyle’s shuttle hurtled toward the planet Judecca, dodging random turbolaser fire that happened in its path. For despite the fury of the engagement, the elders of Arcona used the Force void to protect the ship and its mixed team of dark Jedi and hardened mercenaries speeding their way to the planet surface.
So no one, not even the Arconan space navy, could detect the shuttle in any way, technologically or through the Force. Draco Maligo, Dark Jedi Knight and Tetrarch of the phyle, sat in the navigator’s seat behind the copilot. He was given the coordinates for the insertion by Vorion, and had every intention of proving himself worthy of leadership. For despite his efforts, he still felt the battle team could be better, more coordinated, and deadlier.
“Draco, what are our orders?” asked Yarnn. Gulith Yarnn was a special operations sergeant on Tarento, and was recruited to lead the mercenary forces of Prophecy Phyle. He was a no-nonsense human who set his sights squarely on his objective, and like a bulldog could rarely be dissuaded from doing his duty.
“Put ourselves in position,” Maligo answered blandly.
“Position for what, if I may ask?”
The Dark Jedi Knight sighed. “We wait until the battle between Clan Scholae Palatinae and the Vong is over, then we destroy the winner.”
Gulith blinked several times. “Why?” he finally blurted out.
“Because everyone in Arcona is tired of living crammed into the holds of our remaining star destroyers, and we need a home. Ask no more questions. When action is imminent I will issue your orders.”
The shuttle landed without incident, and the phyle shuffled out into the forest. This would be their biggest accomplishment as a battle team, the stealing of a planet.