Here you go, peeps, hope you enjoy it.
(14 pages, 4825 words, 11 hours of typing)
Cleansing the Blood Forest
By Dark Jedi Knight Brent Ligur Victae
Clan Scholae Palatinae
Brent Ligur Victae – Commander, One
Erianna Victae – Two
Xathia Dan Locut’Hal – Three
Fionn Dan Locut’Hal - Four
Tyno – Five
Malaki – Six
Yeldarb Vohkou – Seven
Cethgus – Eight
Yzarc Rellik Kaeth – Nine
Jimmy – Ten
Ricky – Eleven
Brajna – Twelve (Prajna’s identical brother)
Small White rabbit – Comic effect
Gul Yuz’ark – Shaper
Jil Yuz’ark’khan – Warrior, commander of Yuuzhan Vong in Forest
Huryum Gut – Assistant to the Shaper
The dense mass of trees and foliage known as the Blood Forest stretched forth in front of him. He stood on the slope of a mountain not far from the edge of the trees, and could see some of the work that the invaders had accomplished already in their short occupation. Masses of organic looking coral jutted out above the tree tops, cutting away from the beauty of the land. Deathly black clouds of some kind of gas or smoke rose through the formerly pristine skies of Judecca.
He could see a spire, or maybe it was a turret, rising up near the center of the forest. That was his target. It was his House’s temple, probably ransacked for anything useful, and ‘sanctified’ after the removal of all the ‘heretical’ machinery. Having been charged with its recapture, he found a kind of longing to be there already, in the thick of battle where his skills and knowledge would be best used. His training as a warrior of the Dark Arts of the Force has been long, and even though, at times, he wished he’d never started, he was proud that he’d finished where so many had failed.
His years of training and the recent invasion by the Yuuzhan Vong have left him scarred and torn. His once bright emerald eyes were dulled by the ravages of war, their spark dimmed by the countless lost friends, whose faces he cannot ever forget. His outward appearance had deteriorated during the war, his clothes getting more worn and torn, his body more battered, and scars multiplying. The most obvious sign of a man who’d survived a war by the skin of his teeth was the trio of scars which cut deep down the right side of his face. The parallel cuts were from a vornskyr who managed to get close to him. It had killed most of the unit he’d been in command of at the time, and went after him.
The timely appearance of one Staff Sergeant Farskimmer saved his life at the cost of his own. The undying loyalty and utter devotion to their Sith commanders almost sickened him, but he owed his life to it. He always sets a new parcel of flowers on Farskimmer’s grave every week. Unconsciously, he raised his hand to his scars, running along their soft edges. He could smell the acid on the beast’s breath, and feel its exhilaration at capturing a new prey.
“Commander?” a quiet voice stabbed through the solidness of the memory. The voice was female, and not far from him to the right. He recognized the voice as one very dear to his heart.
“You don’t need to call me Commander, Erianna. I think we’re past that” Brent replied, flashing a smile back at his wife. She smiled back, and half turned towards the others gathered a short distance away.
“I think we’re ready to go.”
“Excellent,” Brent replied, his eyes returning to the horizon. The sun had started to set, allowing a red and orange glow bleed into the pristine blue skies. The calls of the night animals started to being, calling out to each other, or trying to find their prey in the dusk.
“Brent, are you alright?” came the same voice, this time closer, near his right shoulder, as a hand squeezed his opposite shoulder. His semi-trance broke slowly as she pressed herself up against his side gently, her eyes looking up at him. He turned to Erianna, and smiled, slipping an arm around her back, squeezing her softly against him.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart. I have no need for revenge these days. Just my will and need to protect those I love and respect.”
She cooed softly, and kisses his shoulder, before slipping out of his embrace, moving over to the assembled group. They’d remained at a polite distance during his survey of the land, and his little interaction with his wife. A fine group of men and women, a hand-picked one, who he hoped would be good enough to accomplish the job at hand.
“Everyone is suited up, and all readings are normal, sir” one of the armoured figures replied. The unit was dressed in the newly designed Souls of Darkness Commando armour, which Brent himself had been the mastermind of. They were designed to be flexible, and strong, much more so than your average Stormtrooper set. Forgoing the silly shiny white of the Stormtroopers, Brent had ordered a camouflage of matte greens and black to decorate the sets of armour, hoping to utilize the natural surroundings of the area to assist with this unit’s infiltration.
“Callsigns from now on please. Six, is my weapon ready?”
One of the men in the group, Malaki handed over Brent’s modified sniper rifle, as well as a standard E-11 Blaster rifle, and combat knife. Brent nodded his thanks, and attached the weapons to his body.
“Helmets on, comlinks on, Two take point” he said, securing his helmet in place with a slight gust of air as the pressurization lock sealed. The sights and sounds of the mountain side were cut off by the neatly cooled air of the helmet, and the heads up display bombarded him with information. He took a moment to readjust to the new environment, and shouldered his sniper rifle, falling in line behind his wife.
“You sure this is the right way, One?” said the same voice for the umpteenth time in the last hour. Though he knew the question had come over the comlink system in his helmet, it still felt too loud. He’s opened up his audio system to the outside world, so he could hear anything approaching, or gauge their stealth. So far they’d been lucky.
“Yes, Seven. Ask me again, and I’ll shoot you in the knees, and leave you for the Yuuzhan Vong” Brent said, letting his annoyance drift into the Force. Those around him radiated amusement while one bled with sudden fear, and dread. That’d keep his mouth shut for a while.
“Sir! Communications from headquarters, priority level one” said Nine, their communications officer for the mission. He seemed to have a slight twinge in his voice; one Brent couldn’t put a finger on. He shook it off as he accepted the communication, using his hand to signal a five minute break.
“This is One, go ahead” he said, wondering who would be on the other end. He knew that Yuuzhan Vong could mimic technological devices, and could tap into their enemy’s communications frequencies. He couldn’t be too careful.
“One, this is Raven’s Nest, confirm identity voorpak.” The voice was feminine, but he didn’t recognize it. Perhaps a new controller he hadn’t had the chance to meet or maybe those boffins in the House laboratories finally came up with an artificial intelligence that sounded reasonably normal.
“Confirmation answer Tiska. What can I do for you, Raven’s Nest?”
“Commander, some updates to your mission require your attention immediately. Patching you through to the warroom.”
“Thank you,” Brent replied, waiting a moment for the mute click which signaled the change of the channel. He heard some whispering voices just after the click, several male, and maybe one or two female. Realizing that the voices were directed at him, he waited a moment.
“Commander, are you with us?” spoke up one of the female voices, one he knew far too well.
“Yes, Raven. Just being polite” he replied. His eyes started to survey the area. The forest became more and denser as they moved closer to their objective, plenty of areas to set up ambushes, by the Yuuzhan Vong, or by his team. His mind began to work through some ideas and tactics that had been hiding in the back, waiting for a chance to come and play.
“We’re just waiting for another to join the channel, and we’ll update your mission”
“Understood, Raven” Brent smiled. The ‘Raven’ was his mistress, Rasilvenaira StormRaven. Raven was her codename, though it was a tad obvious. Brent turned to watch a mildly animated conversation between two of his team, Malaki and Tyno. He couldn’t hear the exchange; his comlink was on a different channel. By their body language however, there seemed to be a problem. He was about to change the channel to their local one, but was stopped by the muted click of a new connection to the headquarters channel.
“This is Eight, go ahead, headquarters.”
“Eight, this is Raven’s Nest, confirm identity whisperkit”
“Confirmation answer Taliesin. What’s up?”
“Welcome, Eight. This is Raven” Rasilvenaira’s voice cast its strength through the comlink. Brent hadn’t thought Cethgus would be the one they’d been waiting for.
“We thought we could get two issues out of the way straight away,” continued Rasilvenaira, her voice slightly stressed, and almost annoyed. Brent leaned back against a tree, his eyes looking over to where Cethgus was standing, looking away from the group. He shook his head at the Souls of Darkness battle team leader, and listened in on the channel.
“The first of the two issues, gentlemen, is that your mission has been updated. Disrupting the operations of the Yuuzhan Vong in the forest is your primary goal as it was originally. We’d like to see if you can push them out too, but do your best. Your secondary goal is to capture a Shaper, alive.”
Brent smiled as he heard the gasp from Cethgus, and the shock melting into the Force surrounding him. He managed to keep himself composed enough not to show it outwardly in his body language.
“Capture a shaper? Pardon my candor, Raven, but are you insane? That’s a very tall order for just twelve commandos” replied Cethgus, his voice retaining a bit of the shock that had bled in the Force moments before.
“No, Eight, I am not insane. And I must say this really does illustrate my reasoning for the second issue. You filed a complaint that the House summit put One in charge of the operation, over a more experienced Jedi. I should point out that while an experienced Jedi is usually a great asset as a leader, not every operation needs a Jedi. One has vast amounts of training and experience from his service in the Hammer’s Fist Legion, as well as many ground operations during the last war” Raven replied.
Brent’s heart soared as his mistress complimented him at every step. He smiled inwardly at the frustration he imagined to be building up inside Cethgus.
“That may be all well and good, but that doesn’t change the fact that even with all his experience, and what not, he still has to capture a shaper.”
“One has five reported captures, three of which were warriors. I think he can handle a shaper. You are to assist him in his endeavors as much as possible. Understood?”
“Yes, ma’am” Cethgus replied grudgingly, before clicking off the channel. Brent could almost hear him swearing inside his helm.
The Yuuzhan Vong are not from this galaxy. They travelled the vast gap between their galaxy and this, intent on invasion. Their society is highly structured, with each person placed into a caste. Each caste has a distinct objective: The warriors are for fighting, the Intendents are the political and economic masters, and so on. There is one caste, however, which is highly exclusive. The Shapers, as they are called, are the scientists of the Yuuzhan Vong, although the term scientist is often a very broad use of the word. These ‘scientists’ are charged with the maintenance and the development of the bio-technology that the Yuuzhan Vong use for everything from communications, in the case of the villip, to their massive World Ships.
This secretive caste has many secrets that it wishes to keep to itself, many of which only the most powerful of Shapers can learn, let alone master. With this in mind, one might not be surprised at the strictness within the caste. And as such, assignments could easily be renamed as exiles.
Gul Yuz’ark surveyed his ‘quaint’ quarters, a grimace of disgust spreading across his tattooed face. He sneered at the filth before him. The stench of the mechanical abominations which had once resided within its walls still remained, even after the warriors in the taskforce had smashed them to bits, and removed the remains. He feared that he might befoul himself if he were to touch anything not made by a Yuuzhan Vong.
“Huryum!” he shouted, the volume of his voice dislodging a few particles of dust from the ceiling. The shout echoed through the corridor beyond his door, reaching the intended recipient. Huryum groaned with pain as he rose from his broken slumber. Huryum looked towards the doorway, light bleeding through it. He grunted, and made his way towards his master’s quarters.
Huryum is a member of the only caste in the Yuuzhan Vong society where its members are not there by choice. The Shamed Ones are abominations of life, deformed, and befouled by the Gods. Officially they are a worker class, but even the normal worker class shuns these disgusting creatures. Often these beings have had additions to their body become diseased and putrid, or fail completely, leaving a bloody gap. Huryum’s case is more original that. His right arm was many times the size it was meant to be, an addition which had been administered by his own master, Gul Yuz’ark. He didn’t blame his master, but still had a lingering doubt in the back of his mind that something deceitful had occurred in the process.
“Huryum, you disgusting wretch! Where are you?!” Gul shouted, the anger in his voice burning deep into Huryum. He rushed down the corridor quickly, bowing as he reached the entrance to his master’s quarters.
“What took you so long, you pitiful worm? Clear up this room, it is despicable!”
“Right away, master” Huryum replied, his voice cracking between an answer and a plea for forgiveness. He moved quickly into the room, maintaining a low bow as a sign of respect and fear. He was almost knocked flying by a Warrior as he burst into the room.
“Master Yuz’ark!” he exclaimed, before kneeling before the shaper as a sign of his inferiority in rank. Gul turned to the warrior, a spark of interest flashing across his face.
“Yes, warrior?” he said slowly, to make the warrior strain between the poles of urgency, and respect.
“Infidels, master. Commandoes! They have landed and are approaching. We have intercepted a transmission, but have had trouble breaking the code. The commander wishes to evacuate all non warrior Yuuzhan Vong to a safer location.”
“Retreat? Are you seriously thinking that I would flee before these infidels? I am more might than that puny commander of yours. Go and tell him I shall remain here, and defend myself, and my research as needed.”
Night had fallen, casting the forest into a dense blue black haze. Animals called to each other, echoing loudly through the trees around them. The unit had split up to accomplish two missions. Seven to Twelve has split off and headed around the perimeter of the Yuuzhan Vong base. The plan had been to cause a distraction so that Brent’s team could move in and plant charges as well as find and capture a shaper. That was, of course, before Cethgus, and only two others from his team came running out of the forest, razor bugs buzzing around their heads.
“Son of a Gundark!” Tyno shouted, lifting his blaster rifle, and opening fire, picking off the razor bugs quickly. Cethgus removed his lightsaber from his belt, and moved to ignite it. Brent flicked his arm out quickly, wrenching the weapon from Ceth’s hands, catching it carefully, before taking out a trio of razor bugs with the same amount of shots.
“VICTAE!” screamed Cethgus, all guise of deception fading away. His face was crimson with anger, as he raced towards Brent. He swung his fist, barely missing Brent’s jaw as the larger man sidestepped, pushing his opponent to the ground. Brent shook his head, and tossed Ceth’s lightsaber to his feet.
“No sabers. That was the very first thing we said. This is a commando raid. We don’t want it connected to the Jedi.”
But just as the words left Brent’s lips, a familiar cry rang out through the trees.
The throaty scream of a Yuuzhan Vong warrior was quiet clear, and it gave Brent a short moment to pause, and survey the battlefield. There were a few Yuuzhan Vong warriors nearby, barely a dozen. One or two of his commandos had lacerations from the razor bugs, and he was missing three men from Cethgus’ group.
“Get up, Ceth!” he sneered down at the man at his feet, before drawing his own lightsaber from his hip pouch.
“All units, this is One, you are free to use any weapons available, Lightsabers included. Give them hell!”
Brent lit his lightsaber, the blue-white blade extending quickly to fighting height. He gritted his teeth, his face bathed in the light from his weapon. A Yuuzhan Vong warrior stepped forward towards him, his amphistaff held across his chest in a defensive grip. Brent surged forward quickly, trying to put his opponent off balance. He felt his anger build up inside him like a dam ready to burst. He let out a near feral roar, and engaged the warrior with a quick series of slashes, and stabs, aiming at the gaps in the armour.
“You die, Jeedai!” the Yuuzhan Vong screamed in his face, his putrid breath almost overwhelming the sensors in Brent’s helmet. The alien had managed to block most of Brent attacks, proving a worthwhile opponent for a Dark Jedi of Brent’s skill. But enough attacks were being allowed through, and the damage was visible in the armour. This warrior wouldn’t be alive for much longer. Brent put him down with a Force pulled log, and a quick slash to the neck extinguished the life from the creature.
“Unit! Rally on me! We’re going to have to do it the hard way!”
Leaving Malaki in a sniper covering position up one of the trees near the edge of the compound, and Yzarc to ready their escape craft, Brent’s modified transport called the Heart of Gold; Brent led the rest of the unit into the compound. He recognized much of the area, having visited it when it was under the control of House Caliburnus. He swore under his breath at what the Yuuzhan Vong had done to this once beautiful monument. He looked to his unit, and lifted his rifle up to rest against his shoulder.
“Cethgus, you and Tyno set up some detonation charges. I want this place obliterated. Yeld, you protect them. The rest of us will head into the main building, and find the shaper”
The others nodded, and after gathering the charges from the packs of the unit, they sped off into the darkness. Brent looked to the remains of his unit: Fionn, Xathia, and his wife, Erianna. He smiled, and pulled off his helmet, taking in the cool night air. He took several deep breaths, allowing his eyes to adjust to the non-filtered atmosphere. He smiled at his companions, and slipped his helmet into his pack.
He looked to the wall of one of the buildings to an inscription he’d read the very first time he’d been to this sanctuary. It was a piece of philosophy, which he’d remembered from that day onwards. He smiled, and started reading it out loud.
“For my own part, I have never had a thought which I could not set down in words with even more distinctness than that with which I conceived it. There is, however, a class of fancies of exquisite delicacy which are not thoughts, and to which as yet I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt to language. These fancies arise in the soul, alas how rarely. Only at epochs of most intense tranquility, when the bodily and mental health are in perfection. And at those weird points of time, where the confines of the waking world blend with the world of dreams. And so I captured this fancy, where all that we see, or seem, is but a dream within a dream.”
Brent smiled after he’d finished, and turned to his unit, his eyes ablaze with a renewed vigor.
“If I’m going to do some killing, they’re going to know who killed them” he said, his voice flooded with confidence, and angry pride. He lit his lightsaber, and turned towards the compound’s main building. Fionn chuckled over the comlink, and slipped his own helmet off.
“Whatever floats your boat, Brent” he said, slipping his own lightsaber from his belt, and marching after his commander. Xathia followed suit quickly, Erianna bringing up the rear. She didn’t have a lightsaber, but had Brent’s sniper rifle, and planned to put it to some use.
The compound was dingy, and smelt of wet mould. Brent’s nosed cringed at the filth, but he didn’t waver, pressing forward. He was surprised by the lack of resistance in this area. He reached a corner, which should lead to the main control center of the compound, before his combat senses pricked up a warning in the back of his mind. He stepped back away from the corner as a amphistaff stabbed through the area where his midriff had been.
“Ambush! Fall back” Brent shouted, pulling back. But a blur slipped past him, and was already leveling a sniper rifle around the corner before he had a chance to register it. The deafening whoo-thump of Brent’s sniper rifle echoed down the corridors as Erianna fired round after round into the ambushing Yuuzhan Vong party. She shrieked with delight as her shots landed true, blasting Yuuzhan Vong off their feet, and completely decapitating some.
A hail of thud bugs flew towards her, and Brent only just managed to slip in front of her before they exploded on his back. He staggered slightly, dropping to one knee with a pained grunt. Erianna screamed, firing the rifle as fast as it could manage. She marched forward, the Force flooded with her anguish, fear and anger at the attack on her husband. When it was over, twenty three Yuuzhan Vong bodies lay in various states of dismemberment, along with the commander of the warriors, who’d taken two shots to the head to take down.
Brent stood up with his wife in his arms, hold her as she sobbed. His back still smoked slightly, and was pitted and mangled beyond repair. He retrieved his lightsaber with a touch of Force power, and released Erianna.
“We can cry later, sweetheart. We have a job to do. Fionn, take point, Xathia take rear guard. Let’s find this damn Shaper”
Huryum heard the approach of the Jeedai, but didn’t warn his master. He had fought within his own mind, part of him wanting to tell his master, and receive thanks, but his other half wanting nothing more than seeing the burnt carcass of that wretch. He instead decided not to do anything, and stayed within his quarters away from everything. He could survive on this planet once the Yuuzhan Vong leave, and before the infidels could return. He gathered up his few belongings, and some food, and awaited the death of his master.
“So, Jeedai, we meet at last” came the guttery basic of the Yuuzhan Vong shaper Fionn had tracked to a quiet room at the back of the compound. He was adorned in all his finery, if one could call it that. A cloak of human and alien skins was draped over his shoulders, he grinned maliciously at the Dark Jedi, a blood red amphistaff cradled in his arms.
“I am Gul Yuz’ark! Master Shaper of the Yuz’ark World Ship! I shaped this compound into what it is now, I helped design the weapons which helped our fleet to take this puny world. And this is all you send to kill me? A quartet of weak Jeedai? One of them doesn’t even have a light sword!” he shouted, a hint of mockery in his voice. Erianna’s cheeks flushed red with rage and embarrassment. She lifted Brent’s sniper rifle up to her shoulder, aimed at the Shaper’s forehead.
“No, don’t, Erianna. We’re here to capture him, not kill him” he whispered, hopefully out of earshot of the Shaper.
“Capture!? You think you can capture one as powerful as myself? You are sadly mistaken, my dear little Jeedai” Gul grinned, trying to provoke anger and hate in the Jedi before him. Brent’s blue lightsaber had probably caused Gul to mistake the party for Light Jedi, where making them angry would’ve probably helped. But this group was as Dark as they came, and their lips just grinned with evil intent, as they stared daggers at the Shaper.
Brent stepped forward, his lit lightsaber ready, and waiting.
“Surrender, and come quietly, and we promise to allow you a warriors death. Resist, and we’ll show you how much you can live through without dying” Brent said, his face dark with controlled anger, his tone deathly calm. Gul stared down at the smaller Jeedai. This infidel had unnerved him, such calm in the face of danger, such evil in his eyes. His mind raced with ideas, and plans, trying to think of a way to escape.
“You have thirty seconds, or we’ll use force.”
“He’s heavier than he looks” complained Xathia, as she, Fionn and Erianna dragged the stunned and drugged body of Shaper. Brent had his lightsaber out and ready. They’d already run into two warriors who’d escaped the blade before. Their senses were already high strung, and they were all ready to collapse on a bunk somewhere.
A sudden screech rang out behind the party. Brent turned quickly, and Force-leapt over his companions to face the new opponent. There before him was a Shamed One, with a massive right arm, which held the red amphistaff of the Shaper. His eyes were wide with fright, and anger.
“Master must die! Kill!” he charged straight at Brent, amphistaff raised. Brent dipped slightly, and slide the lightsaber deep into the Shamed One’s flesh, a blow that should’ve been a fatal one. But the Shamed One kept coming, pushing Brent with him as he screamed in a manic rage. Brent’s three companions dropped the prone Shaper, and reached for their weapons.
“DIE!” screamed the Shamed One, thrusting the red amphistaff into the body of the Shaper repeatedly. His screams slowly turned into blood-choked grunts, as the Dark Jedi assault him. He finally slumped down beside his master, a deathly grin on his face.
“This one thanks you, master Jeedai” he said slowly, before passing on. Brent looked down at the poor creature, his heart welling up with grief and pity.
“Brent, we need to get moving! Now!” shouted Xathia, grabbing Brent’s arm, and tugging him down the corridor. Such needless slaughter shouldn’t need to occur, he thought as he followed his companions out the compound and into the waiting hold of the Heart of Gold
The room was dimly lit, as the only source of light was the lightsaber in the hands of a lone man in the center. The sapphire blade slide through the darkness slowly, slicing through invisible enemies, blocking non-existant attacks. His body flowed with control, and finesse, as well as striking power, and martial prowess. His brow was drenched with sweat, and was wrinkled with concentration.
A beam of light appeared in the darkness as a door opened. The lone man stopped, and turned to the intruder. Rasilvenaira StormRaven stepped into the room, and smiled, looking to her former apprentice.
“Practicing when you should be resting isn’t a good idea, Brent” she said, padding towards him in a quiet, feline style. Brent had never gotten used to that.
“My apologies, mistress. I always need to concentrate after a mission, and this is the best way I know”
“Very well. I read your report. There was nothing you could do. You are to be commended at the next Clan meeting as well as be nominated for the next Dark Paladin”
“Thank you, mistress”
But in the back of Brent’s mind, he could only think of the deathly grin on the face of the Shamed One, honestly wishing him a quiet sleep of death.