Scholae Palatinae Chapters
Chapter I – Dark Crusade
36 ABY, Judecca, Imperial Palace, Emperor’s Office
Three figures knelt down in front of a holographic image of a human with long, brown hair – the Grand Master of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood himself. They remained silent until the Grand Master spoke, “Rise my loyal servants. I have a task for you.”
“What can we do for you, my Lord?” asked the human, as the leader of the trio.
“Xen’Mordin, prepare the House for a mission of utmost importance,” replied Muz Ashen. “We begin our march on ancient Sith worlds. All other Clans and Houses have already been informed about our goals. It is crucial to our success to see all of your House, and its naval and ground forces joining the rest of the Brotherhood at the rendezvous point.”
“My Lord, we need time to prepare ourselves. Our fleets and armies have been severely weakened during the recent conflict with Zoraan,” said the Quaestor of House Scholae Palatinae. “Consider that we have suffered severe casualties within our ranks, due to the Plague. Many of them have left us with no prior message or unusual behaviour.”
“I understand your situation, but I expect your House to arrive at the rendevous point, when summoned by the Iron Throne,” replied Muz Ashen with steel voice. “This is an order; I am sure that you will not disappoint me.”
“Certainly, my Lord, we will not fail you. We will be there.”
“I am glad to hear this. You may decide which planet you wish to invade, Krayiss II or Nfolgai. You will receive more intel later. Take your time and think it over carefully. Your future depends on your decision in this matter.”
“We understand, my Lord.”
“Very well, then. Meanwhile, we need to achieve another important goal. We need to obtain resources, which are necessary to launch the assault on the Sith planets. Zoraan’s attack has brought certain advantages. We have located his flagship, the SSD Avenger II. It is an opportunity we have been waiting for since we had planned this campaign. The issue is that the ship is still fully crewed and we have reasons to believe that Zoraan’s apprentice is aboard. We are looking for volunteers who would agree to join a small strike team which will take over the ship. If either you or your subordinates want to play a significant role in the upcoming mission, let them go.”
“As you wish, my Lord,” replied Xen’Mordin as the hologram faded to nothingness.
The Quaestor looked at the other members of his Summit. He did not have to say a word. Despite the fact that the Duro and the Rodian had been appointed as Aedile and Rollmaster respectively only recently, they were already a good team with Xen’Mordin. All three started to make plans on how to fulfill the wishes of the Grand Master.
After a moment of thinking, Xantros was first to speak, “We are in a difficult situation. We should assemble a team for Lord Ashen, but our resources are extremely limited.”
“What do you suggest, Xantros?” Koryn asked the Aedile.
“I believe that we should focus on preparing our House for the campaign ahead. Lord Ashen said that the volunteers must be allowed to take part in the mission, but we shall not send anyone else.”
“The Summit should go; we should lead by example,” said Koryn. “We should take Dante, Archangel, Evant and Shadow Nighthunter too; they're mad enough to join us.”
“It is far too risky,” immediately replied Xantros. “What if any of us are killed during the mission? The House has been struck with heavy casualties and the sudden departure of Akatsuki and Xan Phraz-Etar. If it loses its Summit once again in so short period of time, it will fall apart. We cannot allow that to happen.”
“You are correct, Xantros,” told Xen’Mordin. “If we fail the mission, we fail the Brotherhood itself. We need to focus on making the House stronger and to serve the Brotherhood in this way. "Our comrades may go, but if either of you wish to, I am afraid I must object".”
“I think one of us must go,” spoke Koryn. “We can not be seen to ignore Lord Ashen’s wishes. I shall gather together a number of our brethren and join the strike team.”
The three Dark Jedi nodded in agreement. There was no time to lose. If they were to prepare the House for the upcoming campaign, they had to act quickly, but also wisely. It was an opportunity to gain glory, power, and respect. It was a chance to impress the Dark Council and to convince the members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood ruling body that House Scholae Palatinae was an extremely valuable part of the Brotherhood as a unit. Still, it required much preparation to achieve such a goal.
Two weeks later, Cocytus system, HSP flagship Warspite
The Summit was present on the bridge of Warspite, the flagship of House Scholae Palatiane. The Aedile, as the commander of the fleet and army, was receiving reports from all units that belonged to the House. Meanwhile, the Rollmaster decided to conduct the last inspections of the Dark Jedi, and left the bridge.
The walk through the corridors of the Warspite was very insightful. It was clearly visible that the whole crew was excited, despite recent experiences in battle. More importantly, the excitement did not pass even the Dark Jedi; not only the Journeymen, but also the Equites and the Elders of the House. It was definitely justified. The vision of claiming the ancient worlds of the Sith was very tempting and the minds of all Dark Jedi were kindled with that prospect, no matter their rank, experience or power. Every Dark Jedi desired to return to the home planets of that sacred group of the followers of the Dark Side.
The Journeymen were thrilled yet anxious as they whispered about the monstrous beasts and ancient spirits, which probably inhabited the remnants of the Sith facilities and tombs. Some of the less experienced members of the House were not eager to take part in the expeditions, as they were fearful for their lives. However, they did not dare to refuse direct orders.
The Equites saw the invasion on the ancient Sith worlds as a chance to grow in power and to prove themselves. Their hunger for power led them to impatiently wait for an opportunity to impress their superiors with their abilities, dedication and excellent service during the campaign.
Koryn did not even attempt to determine what whispers were exchanged between the Elders concerning the upcoming campaign. Their ways of thinking were so twisted that none below their position could follow their plots or understand their goals. Any attempt to unravel the mysteries of their secret meetings behind closed doors would result in severe punishment of anyone who would make such an attempt.
Finally, Koryn returned to the bridge and took his seat. Xen’Mordin raised his eyebrows in a silent question regarding the inspection.
“They are as ready as they will ever be, especially if we take our situation under the consideration. The Journeymen are apprehensive, but looking to prove themselves. The Equites are making last minute preparations, and the Elders are plotting as usually,” answered the Rollmaster. “There is nothing more that we can do for them at this moment.”
“I see,” replied Xen’Mordin. “Xantros, is the the fleet ready?”
“Yes, all ships, fighter squadrons and ground forces reported in and confirmed their positive status; green lights across the board,” said the Aedile. “We are awaiting your orders.”
The Quaestor nodded. “Let’s move out. Lieutenant, relay the order to the fleet to jump to the hyperspace. We make for Nfolgai. The Brotherhood awaits us there; our destiny and our future await us there.”
Undisclosed location, HSP flagship Warspite, a few days after the invasion of Nfolgai
The Summit and a few Equites of House Scholae Palatinae were summoned to the war room of Warspite by Sith Battlelord Xen’Mordin Vismorsus, the Quaestor of the Imperial House. They were gathered there in order to analyse the situation of their unit and the discussion had become heated. The assault on Nfolgai had ruthlessly revealed the extensive weakness of the House. Despite the efforts of some of its members, one thing was obvious to all present: the first of the battles in the campaign to claim ancient Sith worlds had been won by the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, but lost by Scholae Palatinae.
“Our House is in a critical situation,” spoke Xen’Mordin Vismorsus. “The assault on Nfolgai has proven that we are lacking independent members who could carry out important missions for our House.”
“In recent weeks, we have seen a drastic rise of Apprentices from the Shadow Academy,” replied Koryn Thraagus, the Rollmaster of the House. “Our numbers have increased from thirty five to fifty four.”
“Honestly, Koryn, it is not a number of our subordinates what worries me,” said the Quaestor. “What worries is the fact that twenty two of our members are still Apprentices. Eleven more have yet to claim Knighthood. We need to make sure that they have a chance to learn more about the Dark Side and to grow in power.”
“What do you suggest?” asked Dante
“Apprentices still have much to learn. Their power is no match for that of a Dark Jedi Knight, not to mention Equites, some of whom are gathered here. But they have great potential and they are just as important to us as our Equites and Elders.”
“What?!” asked Rayne with slight anger in her voice.
“They are the future of our House. Not me, not you, not any of us. They are the future of our House. One day, we will be unable to continue our service to the Brotherhood,” answered Xen’Mordin with calm voice. “It will be the time to pass the torch of leadership to other members of Scholae Palatinae. Other members means these, our current Apprentices and Journeymen of the House.”
“We all need to learn this lesson, my friends, and to understand all the aspects of our situation,” spoke Xantros, the Aedile of the House. “Despite our powers, we are not immortal nor undefeatable. We need to prepare our comrades to take over command of our House and to lead it to the glorious future.”
“Indeed, we cannot neglect our duties and ignore obvious and clearly visible facts,” added Rasilvenaira Kaishera Nal’Kethar. “But what shall we do to achieve this?”
“First of all, our Dark Brethren and Sisters need to know that they are not alone. We need to do all we can to support them in their career with our advice and help,” said Xen’Mordin Vismorsus. “We can share our knowledge and experience with the younger members of our House and guide them on their way to power.”
“We shall also make them feel that their service to our House is more appreciated,” continued Xantros, as he immediately picked up the Quaestor’s way of thinking. “We shall review their efforts in various missions and tasks given out by the House Summit or by the Dark Council. Our comrades must know that their dedication does not remain unseen and unrewarded.”
“Exactly,” confirmed Xen’Mordin with a smile. “Xantros, we need to encourage our Dark Brethren and Sisters to take a more active role in the upcoming battles of this Crusade. Can I count on you?”
“Yes, my lord,” replied the Aedile. “I shall speak to every Journeyman in person and try to make them more willing to take part in the missions. I will report back to you immediately after receiving feedback from them.”
“All of you know your duties. Do not waste time.”
It was a clear order to leave the war room that no one dared to refuse to carry out. The will of the Emperor was law especially during wartime. Every Dark Jedi present in the war room was aware that their own success was bound to the success of the whole House. They immediately rushed to do what they were supposed to do. There were just a few days remaining until the next assault and all of the House members needed to prepare themselves for battle. There was no time to waste…
Twenty four hours before the assault on Rhelg, HSP Flagship Warspite
A small holographic figure of the Duro Aedile appeared in the air, when Xen’Mordin Vismorsus activated the communication console.
“Yes, Xantros?” asked the Quaestor. “Do you have anything for me, as far as the Journeymen of our House are concerned?”
“Certainly. I have some important news for you, Emperor,” replied the Krath Priest. “Could you meet me in the briefing room?”
“Certainly, give me few minutes and I’ll be there.”
Xen’Mordin hurried to the briefing room of the Warspite with dignity and self-confidence, which were the results of a long standing service to the Brotherhood, both as the Quaestor and a common Dark Jedi. He was one of the most admired members of House Scholae Palatinae: steadfast, stalwart, brave. An excellent example to follow and one of the strongest pillars of the Imperial House. With his typical determination, he was going to face his destiny very soon…
“What do you have for me, Xantros?” asked the Quaestor, as he entered the briefing room.
“As promised, I have spoken with the Journeymen of our House,” answered the Aedile.
“Honestly? I managed to achieve nothing!” his voice was laced with anger. “Most of them are too afraid to convince that there is no other way to grow in ranks than to serve the House.”
“Is there any chance that they will change their mind before the invasion on Rhelg? Their fear should drive them, after all.”
“I do not think so, but well, I will do my best to convince them to do so.”
“Good to hear that. I expect results…”
Several hours before the assault on Rhelg, HSP Flagship Warspite
“Status report,” ordered Quaestor of House Scholae Palatinae.
“Naval and ground forces prepped and ready,” replied Xantros.
“Dark Jedi ready, as much as they can be,” spoke Koryn.
“We are just awaiting your command to proceed to the rendevouz-point,” said Xantros.
It was the time to give out the order to invade Rhelg, but Xen’Mordin Vismorsus remained silent. The battle was going to be tough. The target planet was the location of the former headquarters of Ludo Kressh. The Sith Battlelord predicted that casualties were going to be high, especially among the numerous Apprentices of the House, who were easy targets for monsters and descendants of the fortress’ guards, inhabiting the planet. There were very few Dark Jedi Knights, Equites and Elders in the ranks of Scholae Palatinae. They counted up less than half of all Dark Jedi of the Imperial House numbers. It would not be a very urgent issue, if the less experienced Journeymen were likely to grow in power, even if that meant less dangerous tasks to be taken up. It would allow them to gain in confidence and then take up missions that would require greater abilities.
However, there was no way to change that before the invasion on Rhelg. They could only hope that the presence of Equites and Elders was going to limit casualties and help the Journeymen overcome their lack of confidence and fear. At the moment, it was the only chance to make the Journeymen grow in ranks and increase their power. The Journeymen of the House were the dominant force of Scholae Palatinae, as far as their number was concerned. Despite their weakness, their presence on the battlefield could change the outcome of the invasion and allow the Imperial House to claim the planet. It would certainly be an important and spectacular success, especially if Scholae Palatinae hoped to regain the status of Clan. The only way to achieve this goal was to prove that the Imperial House was a significant power in the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. No matter the situation, refusing to follow the orders of the Grand Master would meet with harsh consequences and, in the best case scenario, delay the moment of reclanning of the House.
“All right, let’s move out,” ordered Xen’Mordin. “We need to arrive at Rhelg on time, in order to join the rest of the Brotherhood for the invasion of this planet.”
3rd day of the invasion of Rhelg
Temporary HSP headquarters on the planetary surface
It was one of very few moments when Xantros could return to his temporary quarters on Rhelg and rest for a moment. The invasion was in its initial stages and various military affairs required the attention of the Aedile, who was responsible for leading ground and naval forces of the Imperial House.
He was not given a chance to rest, however; a few minutes after he entered the quarters, a communication console bipped. There was an incoming transmission awaiting his attention. “Damn it…Why do they always have to disturb me, when the only thing I wish to do is rest?” thought Xantros with tiredness. He activated the console and immediately recognized the holographic figure of the Master-At-Arms.
“What can I do for you, sir?” asked Xantros as politely as he could.
“I want to inform you that your request has found approval among the members of the Dark Council,” spoke Dark Jedi Master Korras. “As all other members of the Brotherhood, I am currently focused on the invasion and I do not have enough time to announce the decision personally. I leave it to you.”
“Thank you, sir,” replied Xantros and few seconds later the transmission was finished.
The Aedile smiled and thought, “Good news at the end of the day.”
4th day of the invasion of Rhelg
Temporary HSP headquarters on the planetary surface
All members of the Imperial House were present in the briefing room of the temporal House headquarters on planet Rhelg. Reconnaissance was still ongoing and the Dark Jedi of Scholae Palatinae were close enough to complete their tasks and return to the encampment.
However, it was not going to be an average briefing before another mission or an average report on the progress of the invasion on Rhelg. Xantros had clearly stated that it was a priority meeting and promised that all of the participants would be satisfied with attending.
Finally, the Aedile walked into the room, where all members of the House were assembled. Even the Quaestor was already there. People were starting to get impatient.
“At last, here you are,” spoke Xen’Mordin Vismorsus with slight impatience in his voice. “Where have you been, Xantros?”
“Preparing myself, my lord,” explained the Aedile. “I have important news for all of us.”
“We hope so; we are in the middle of an invasion. There is a war waiting for us to win.”
“The news I have is important for all of us and it shall help morale.”
“What’s the news?”
“We all risk our lives in service to our House and the Brotherhood on a daily basis. We do our best to perform our day-to-day duties, which we are given by our superiors. We are persistent in our quest for battle prowess, mystical knowledge and power. However, there are people among us, who shine like stars in the night sky. Their service to the House and to the Brotherhood is excellent and no one may find any flaw in what they do. They prove themselves to be the pillars of our House.”
11th day of the invasion of Rhelg
Temporary HSP headquarters on the planetary surface
All Dark Jedi of House Scholae Palatinae were recalled by the Quaestor to the temporary headquarters on Rhelg; only a few were on missions too sensitive to return. Finally, Xen’Mordin Vismorsus, Xantros and Koryn Thraagus entered the room. The very nature of being asked to stop their exploration of the planet indicated an announcement of the utmost importance. The room fell silent as the three entered, previously filled with the buzz of excited but hushed voices. The only audible sounds were the footsteps of the House Summit.
As he approached the dais at the front of the hall, Xen’Mordin Vismorsus looked around and spoke, “As you have no doubt gathered, there is something important that we need to announce.” All gathered looked at the Quaestor, who seemed a bit troubled and tired. After a short pause, he continued his speech. “Our position on Rhelg has not yet been secured. However, it is a well-known truth that hard and demanding conditions give birth to hard working and tough people.”
“Sometimes, one may find a diamond in the sand. It rarely takes place, but when it does, it is an excellent opportunity to celebrate, even in tough times,” spoke Xantros.
“Stalwart, loyal and dedicated to the Final Way. A willingness to learn, an open mind and persistent in the quest for power. Courageous, valorous and determined to serve the House in all that they do,” continued Koryn. Rayne rose from her seat in the crowd and made her way to stand beside the summit.
“Such a Dark Jedi is a diamond for our House. It would be a sin not to celebrate finding such a diamond; it would be a crime to block the career of such a Dark Jedi and deprive them of what is rightfully theirs,” said Rayne.
“Jedi Hunter Shadow Nighthunter, please approach!” announced Xen, his voice thundering through the hall. Satisfaction and pride filled his voice as he continued, when the Jedi Hunter stood next to him. “You are no longer a Jedi Hunter. Your unmatched dedication, unquestioned loyalty and excellent service to the Imperial House has earned you the promotion to the Dark Jedi Knight. You are now eligible to carry your own real lightsaber. Welcome among the Knights!”
The Dark Jedi gathered in the briefing room erupted in cheers and congratulations for Shadow on her great success. It was indeed a good reason to celebrate. Despite the tough situation, the House Summit hoped to see more of such opportunities to celebrate in the future. A single voice rose above the commotion: "Drinks on Shadow!"
1 day after the invasion of Rhelg
Aboard ISDII Warspite
All members of the Imperial House were assembled in the briefing room of the Warspite. Despite the fact that the invasion on Rhelg ended just several hours earlier and everyone was fatigued after conducting their various missions during the assault, the Aedile insisted on meeting to discuss an urgent matter.
“As you already know, we have decided to create a new task force, in order to keep our archives updated regularly,” spoke Xantros. “Despite what some of you may think about it, it is an extremely important job for our House and requires great skills and courage. Thus, we have carefully studied applications, which we have received, and after thourough consideration, we have decided to appoint Varkain Athanas and Evant Taelyan as the first Wardens of Legacy.”
After short pause, the Duro Krath Priest continued his speech, “You may wonder why we could not wait until more suitable time to announce the creation of the Wardens of Legacy. The Wardens are an immediate necessity in order to secure any documents, holocrons, or other artifacts that may be intercepted during the Dark Crusade on the sacred worlds of the ancient Sith and may turn out to be very valuable and extremely important for the future of our House. I expect that the Wardens will receive all necessary support from all members of our House, no matter their position or rank.”
7 days after the invasion of Rhelg
Aboard ISDII Warspite
Xantros looked at the final report from the operations of the House on Rhelg. Once again, they had turned out to be no match for other units of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, which had taken part in the invasion on the planet. In the eyes of the Dark Council, House Plagueis and Clan Arcona were far more useful in the assault, with Arcona taking Rhelg in their ownership. Once again, Dark Jedi of the Imperial House had nothing to look for on the conquered planet. They had to move on and hope that they would gain a new planet in the future assaults.
However, no matter how bitter another defeat was, there was something sweet in the report. During the assault on Rhelg, the Quaestor was promoted to the rank of Sith Warlord and Shadow Nighthunter was Knighted. It was definitely good news as Scholae Palatinae was in dire need of Knights and high ranked Equites. Fortunately, there were several members in the ranks of the House, who held great potential. The whole House Summit hoped them to see them grow in power quickly. Their presence in the next phases of the Dark Crusade might decide upon claiming one of the ancient Sith worlds.
However, it was not the only issue. Participation in the Dark Crusade was just a part of a greater scheme; a scheme aimed to help Scholae Palatinae regain Clan status again. Successes in the Crusade would be a good sign for the Dark Council and would bring the Imperial House one or two steps closer to their goal. Increased number of Knights and Equites would be another strong argument for reclanning the Heirs of the Emperor.
14 days after the invasion of Rhelg
Aboard ISDII Warspite
En route to Cocytus System
The rumours were true. The Independence Games – A long standing tradition of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood – were going to take place in a few weeks. Commemorating the Day of Exodus, the Independence Games were a celebration of secession from the Emperor’s Hammer. While those factions allied themselves, the Day of Exodus was still commemorated as a part of Dark Jedi Brotherhood history and identity. It would definitely prove to be an interesting event. A show of personal prowess and skill of many Dark Jedi; another chance to shine and prove one’s worthiness for the House and for the Brotherhood.
For the Imperial House it was also a good opportunity to resupply ships and to give soldiers time to rest a bit before the next phase of the Dark Crusade. Thus, the fleet was en route back to the headquarters of Scholae Palatinae, where necessary repairs would be done and wounded soldiers would be provided with excellent medical service. The Dark Jedi willing to take part in the Independence Games were going to reach the location of the event aboard Indomidable, which had not suffered any damages. The rest would enjoy comfort of their own quarters on Judecca, Ptolemea, Antenora, or Caina.
The House Summit was quite happy with both the news about the Independence Games and other events of the previous weeks, especially with the promotion of Kelvis Xavier to the rank of Krath Epis. It was very much unexpected for almost the entire House, with news being kept secret till the last minute and no rumors circulating. It was a great pleasure to hear the news relayed directly by the Fist, Dark Side Adept Fremoc Pepoi. It was an honour both for Kelvis and for the House.
In addition to Epis promotion for Kelvis, two Journeymen – Aquarius and DarJinn – received promotions to the rank of Acolytes. Through excellent service to the House, they had proved themselves ready to learn more about the Dark Side in recent days. It was definitely great news for the whole House, and the Summit was pleased with their actions. The Heirs of Palpatine were in need of comrades like them: those who would shape the future of the House.
It seemed as though there was a light in the darkness.
Heritage of the secession
36 ABY, first day of the Independence Games, the Antei Colliseum
It was the first day of the Independence Games. It was an exceptional day, rarely seen on the main world of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. All members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood were assemblied in the Antei Colliseum, which was going to witness the sumptuous celebrations of the Day of Exodus. Suddenly, a giant holographic image of the Grand Master appeared in the air and all voices went silent at once. All Dark Jedi wanted to listen what the leader of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood wanted to say.
“Dark Brethren and Sisters,” he started. “We have celebrated the Day of Exodus with the Independence Games four times so far. Now, we are about to start the fifth Independence Games in the history of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. However, this edition has very special meaning to all of us, especially to veterans of the Brotherhood. This year, we celebrate the tenth anniversary of secession from the Emperor’s Hammer.”
The Grand Master stopped for a moment to let the audience think his words over.
“Our relationships with the Emperor’s Hammer have been bitter and hostile for many years. However, we have managed to overcome them and we are the allies with the Emperor’s Hammer. Still, we celebrate the Day of the Exodus in order to save our identity and continue our heritage. We all crave power and glory. Now, it is the chance to take the glory you believe is rightfully yours. The Independence Games are now officially started!”
The holographic image of the Grand Master disappeared and the gathered Dark Jedi raised their heads to admire the fireworks show on the sky. Soon, the elder members of the Brotherhood realized that it depicted the most important events in the history of the organisation.
Few hours later
Impressive acrobatic performances, exciting fights against wild animals, mercurial duels and small battles of the Dark Jedi. The Independence Games were definitely not a time of boredom and dull events. No, it was something that completely took one’s attention. Mere observing was interesting enough not to leave the Antei Colliseum before the day’s end. However, all members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood waited for their chance to grab the glory on the sands of the giant structure, observed by hundreds of people. The role of spectators was not enough for the Dark Jedi. They had to prove themselves as skilled and courageous warriors. They had to test their abilities and to enjoy admiration and respect of their Dark Brethren and Dark Sisters. The only way to get their attention was to walk to the center of the Colliseum and accept the challenge, no matter whether it was a fight against wild beasts, duel against another Dark Jedi or acrobatic stunts, which require high level of mastery in the use of the Force.
The excitement spread over all members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. Not only the Journeymen, despite being a bit intimidated by presence of the Equites and Elders, were nervous, but also more experienced and more powerful Dark Jedi were excited with the Independence Games. That old tradition, meant to celebrate the Day of Exodus, made all people stand up to the challenges and fights on the equal rights. Every Dark Jedi was given a chance to test their abilities and earn glory in less or more difficult tasks and performances.
However, for the Summit of House Scholae Palatinae, the Independence Games played even more significant role. Certainly, as everyone else, they aimed to gain as much of the personal glory as it was only possible, but they also observed all members of the House. They were aware that the Independence Games were an excellent opportunity to determine, who were the most skilled and the most courageous members of the unit. The Quaestor, the Aedile and the Rollmaster of Scholae Palatinae were going to discuss their observations after the Games only, but they needed to carefully watch their comrades, as they wanted to learn as many details about them as possible. It was necessary to further their plans for the Imperial House, as these plans required detailed knowledge about strenghts, weakness and dedication of all Dark Jedi in the House. Definitely, the Independence Games were one of these events in the history of the Brotherhood, which might be quite useful for evaluating status of Houses and Clans of the Brotherhood.
10 days after the Independence Games, aboard Warspite, hyperspace
The House Summit held an urgent council meeting. They were still discussing the results of the Independence Games, but they had even more important matter to review. They had decided to go for Bhargebba during the next episode in the Dark Crusade and they needed to come up with a plan, which would increase their chances to prove their value to the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, both whole House and its individual members.
“Our operations on Rhelg were sabotaged by other units present on the planetary surface,” spoke Koryn. “ I believe that we all agree with this fact.”
“Yes,” replied Xen’mordin Vismorsus.
“I might agree with your statement, Koryn, but we need to see the situation in a wider perspective,” said Xatros. “Especially you, as a Krath should be wiser.”
“Our actions on Rhelg were sabotaged by other units of the Brotherhood. That is correct. However, we have made several serious mistakes too and that strongly limited our chances to be more successful than we have been.”
“We need to make sure that we set top priorities before every assault. Such plans must be based upon as rich intel data as it is only possible. In this way, we shall possess greater knowledge about valuable targets, which shall help us to locate our camps near them and to take up quick actions to secure our presence there.”
“It means that we need to access every single document about the target planets, which is available in the libraries of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, in order to learn about their past as much as it is only possible.”
“It means that we need to send scouts to the systems as soon as we learn the names of the target planets in order to learn more about the valuable targets located on their surface.”
“It means that we need to utilize any contacts among the scums of the Galaxy we have, in order to learn about the operations of the One Sith on the ancient Sith worlds.
“I agree, but I am afraid that the Dark Council may not be happy with these actions and I am not sure if I am happy with your suggestions,” said the Quaestor of the House. “I can see your point, but if do all you say to gain an upper hand over our ‘allied’ Houses and Clans of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, we may expose our operations. If the Jedi Order learns about our presence and activities, it may lead to our own doom. I just want to remind you that we have been forced to fight joint teams of the One Sith and the Mecrosa Order. It was difficult enough without the involvement of the Jedi Order.”
“Indeed. Only an idiot fights on two fronts. Only the heir of the throne in the kingdom of idiots fights on twelve fronts. We need to avoid unnecessary attention, as you just said,” replied Xantros. “That is why I suggest to assign the missions to proper people. Our elite Force-sensitive pilots, Equites and Elders, should go for the recon missions. They shall go in unmarked fighters, so that no one else may discover their true identity. These, who have network of contacts, shall utilize their agents without explaining the real goal of the missions. If they manage to get few additional fighters involved, especially if they will be marked with emblems of pirate organisations, it will be even better. The Journeyman may take a search in the libraries.”
“Hmmm...it sounds like a plan,” said Xen’Mordin and looked at the Rollmaster. “What do you think about it?”
“I see the point of Xantros’ idea,” said Koryn after a short moment. “However, it is connected an extremely high risk and if we fail, we will not only lack the intel information, which seek for, but also will undermine the plans of the Dark Council. This will lead to severe consequences for our House.”
“We may limit the risk by sending ships to all ancient Sith worlds. It will not give a hint to our enemies as far as our further moves are concerned.”
“They may shot down our fighters and hold our members as the prisoners, torturing them and interrogating to learn as much about our forces and plans as it is only possible.”
“That is why only the best of our Force-sensitive pilots shall be sent on the recon missions, in order to minimalize the risk of being captured.”
“Give me some time,” spoke the Quaestor, “I will make my decision in two or three days, as soon as I consult with the Dark Council.”
“As you wish.”
24 hours before the next assault, ISD Warspite, hyperspace
The House Summit of Scholae Palatinae gathered on the bridge of the Warspite, as usually before the attack on the next planet. They were discussing the final details of the assault, as they had already chosen the planet to invade – Bhargebba. They knew very few details about it and its characterstic features, as it remained unknown to the larger population of the Galaxy and there were no results of any specific studies of the planet available. The Dark Council probably held some information in secret, but they hardly ever published such data before it was necessary and they did that always very reluctantly. That was why, it was hardly impossible to make any certain predictions.
However, members of House Scholae Palatinae were not afraid of taking a risk. During the Dark Crusade, they had chosen planets with very limited information about them. Now, on Bhargebba, they were going into unknown, probably hostile environment too, but they saw it as their chance. It was far harder to be successful in such situation, but it only proved the battle prowess of the heirs of the Emperor and their usefulness to the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.
They never surrendered. They never gave up. They never stopped doing their best to serve the Dark Council and to save the heritage of Darth Sidious, known as Emperor Palpatine. They were always there, in the first lines on the battlefield. When necessary, they acted as courageous leaders, brave warriors, silent assassins and secret puppeteers. They were afraid of no mission and no enemy. Their loyalty to the Iron Throne was unqestionable. Despite the fact that their efforts were underestimated, members of the Imperial House continued their quest for glory and power.
But the storm was coming…
12 hours after departure from Bhargebba, ISD Warspite, hyperspace
It had been done. Bhargebba had been conquered by the forces of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. Now, the orders of the Dark Council spoke that the Dark Crusade was going to be delayed by one month. The Summit of House Scholae Palatinae was satisfied with the break from the military operations. Certainly, additional month gave the One Sith time to prepare themselves for the next phases of the Crusade, but members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood as well as regular soldiers, who served in its army, required a bit of rest.
Also, the Summit of the Imperial House was not going to waste the time given by the decision of the Dark Council. Heirs of the Emperor were going to consolidate their ranks and prepare for the next phase of the Dark Crusade. It was an excellent time to mastermind new agenda of the House and to start pulling the strings behind the scene. The Imperial House started its march for glory and power that was rightfully belonging to the successors of Emperor Palpatine. Slowly, hiding in the shadows, but they were moving towards their mysterious goals.
The storm was coming…
Three weeks later, Colliseum, Judecca
Games of the Imperial House had proven themselves as a useful tool to train members of the Scholae Palatinae and to warm them up before important missions for many times. In 36 ABY, the House Summit decided to run the Summer Games, as a break off from the Dark Crusade, as the Dark Jedi Brotherhood took a tactical break of one month before attacking another targets during the campaign against the One Sith.
It was visible that troops and the Dark Jedi required something what would keep them busy, but be relaxing at the same time and would give them a chance to gain glory within the ranks of the House. Competing in non-lethal contest of skills was a perfect opportunity to satisfy the needs of the House members and its Summit.
In the meantime, as the Games attracted people’s attention, the secret preparations continued…
One week later, ISD Warspite, hyperspace
Finally, the Dark Crusade was going entering its second phase soon. It was going to be different than previous one, though no one was completely aware of how these differences were going to affect their situation. What were going to be the orders? What planets were they going to invade? What was going to be the exact role of special teams, which all units of the Brotherhood were supposed to select from their members? These and many other questions were going remain without an answer for some time, until they would emerge from the fire of future battles.
However, before the next phase of the Dark Crusade would start, the Summit of the Imperial House was working hard to further their plans. At the moment, they were holding a secret meeting, which was organised in order to clarify certain issues.
“Are you sure that no one knows about our operations?” asked the Quaestor. “Remember, Xantros, if that leaks out before we are ready to push the button, we will reject cooperation with you and you will be blamed for all these actions.”
“Do not worry, my lord,” spoke the Duro. “The Dark Crusade is an excellent way to cover our true agenda. Meetings like this one may be easily explained with the needs to prepare strategy for the next assaults. Temporal disappearance of singular ships shall not attract anyone’s attention. We need to scout future targets after all. There is no way that someone might discover our goals in.”
“If you are wrong…”
“I am not…When we are ready to start our campaign, no one will be able to stop us. Not even the Grand Master himself…”
“I feel like if we were teasing a sleeping rancor.”
“Well, without the risk, there is no real gain. We may see our House being pushed over by other units of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood or take up the initiative and make the first move, before anyone may react…or before it is too late to avoid grim fate of House Revan.”
“What do we need to arrange?”
“We need to make sure that no other House or Clans, not even the Dark Council, will interfere during our operation. We need to keep them on the distance for long enough to carry out our mission and to regroup our forces, so that we may repel any attack on our troops.”
“Quite vague goal…and hard to achieve…”
“Do not worry, we still have few months before we will be able to launch our operation…There is enough time to make all necessary preparations and few other arrangements, if possible.”
“No matter of all, we cannot waste the time. Remember that this is going to be far harder time for us…Our next assault target is not a safe place…”
“We are aware of that. Stay calm.”
The storm was coming…
Arcanes of the Alchemy
37 ABY, high orbit over Ashas Ree
Loyal servants of the Empire!
Our quest against the One Sith continues! We have succeeded in all attacks against these treacherous cultists so far and we are not going to fail this time! Ashas Ree conceals invaluable treasures and a key to our rise to a major galactic power! As loyal heirs of Emperor Palpatine, we shall claim this planet in His name!
Fight bravely! Bring havoc to those who dare oppose the mighty Imperial Army! Spread death among those who dare to challenge the mighty Imperial Navy! Show no mercy to anyone who dares to fight us and sabotage our operations!
Your service and dedication shall be rewarded properly! Help us further our agenda, achieve our goals and conquer this planet in the name of the Emperor! You will be awarded beyond your imagination! Fear not! If you die trying, we shall make sure that your families are well looked after! We never forget about our brave soldiers and skilled pilots!
For the Empire!
The holovid of the Emperor was transmitted to all ships and fighters in the fleet of the Imperial House in order to improve the morale of the soldiers, pilots and officers. Even the Dark Jedi were tiring from the long campaign against the One Sith. Everyone was in need of a break, but the orders from the Grand Master were clear: they were to attack Ashas Ree and claim it for the dominion of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. There was no time to hesitate and only a fool would question direct orders from the Grand Master. The invasion was to begin in just a few minutes and the final preparations were being overseen by Grand Marshall Xantros, Aedile of Scholae Palatinae.
Quaestor Xen’Mordin spent the remaining time considering the situation of the House. Were they going to be successful in their task? What would happen if not? The chances to conquer the planet with two other Houses of the Brotherhood, Taldryan and Tarentum, were unfortunately low. Certainly members of Scholae Palatinae were going to do their best to secure the planet, but it would be a tough fight.
On the other hand, it was a fascinating experience to see units of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood fight the One Sith under the united banner of the Iron Throne, but infighting between the units to impress the Grand Master was inevitable. While the efforts of all units made the Brotherhood one step closer to victory against the One Sith, the tensions between them might actually make it harder to operate on the invaded planets. Each unit tried to impress the Grand Master not only by securing vital areas of target planets but also by sabotaging the operations of other units present in the same territory.
Still, there was always the hope of victory; if not this time, then maybe the next…
Two weeks later, hyperspace, ISDII Warspite
Once again, the forces of the Imperial House had been defeated by the other units of the Brotherhood. Not in the sense of a direct battle, but the Dark Council had once again decided in favour of House Taldryan, giving them control over Ashas Ree. Taldryan controlled two planets that had previously been under the influence of the One Sith, while Scholae Palatinae had not received any planet yet despite their significant efforts to secure victory.
The House Summit, Xen’Mordin Vismorsus, Xantros and Koryn Thraagus discussed the situation at great length, but there was nothing that they could really do to change it. They only hoped that being as involved as possible would be enough to conquer at least one planet in the future. There was very little time remaining until the end of the Dark Crusade and it would be a great shame if they did not gain any additions to their current dominion.
The leaders of the Imperial House were frustrated with what was happening and they were aware that their subordinates were probably even more dissatisfied with the situation. Only a victory could make a difference and the next chapter of the Dark Crusade had to be written down by Scholae Palatinae. After all, the victors write the history…
Two weeks later, en route to Korriz, ISDII Warspite
The invasion on Korriz was going to be quite different. By a mixture of fortune and wise planning, the forces of the Imperial House were to face only Clan Naga Sadow, who had suffered great casualties in the weeks prior to the invasion of Korriz. Their operational capability was greatly limited and it was the perfect opportunity for Scholae Palatinae to focus their efforts on conquering the planet. Despite being heavily fatigued from the long campaign, the hope for victory was awoken among the members of the Imperial House. Everyone was aware that there would be no excuse for defeat in such situation. Everyone was aware that it was one of the last chances to claim a new planet during the Dark Crusade and a similar campaign would not take place any time soon if ever.
Korriz was another planet related to one of the ancient Sith Lords, Lord Garu. Getting their hands on his workshop, as well as the knowledge and artifacts contained within, would make the position of House Scholae Palatinae much stronger among the Brotherhood. It would not be an easy mission, but the opportunity to prove themselves on the battleground greatly increased the spirit and zeal of the Dark Jedi and soldiers of the Imperial House.
The Summit, also, was hoping to conquer the planet. It would not only be an excellent addition to the dominion of the Empire but it would perfectly suit the future plans for the House. They had to get Korriz under their control for the sake of further expansion of the Imperial Domain, further studies and as a base of operations within Sith Space.
Two days later, nearby Tritos Nal’s workshop.
Due to numerous gravity generators, which made it impossible to launch a full scale invasion, the leaders of Scholae Palatinae were forced to adjust their strategy. As a result, they had to resign from sending all ships into the battle and had to carefully pick a small team to operate on the planetary surface until reinforcements could punch their way through the blockade. The decision had to be made very carefully, as the group would be alone for days.
Finally, the Special Forces team of the Imperial House, which consisted of Xen’Mordin Vismorsus, Xantros, Kell Dante, Archangel, Mayda Ferium, Koryn Thraagus, Evant Taelyan, Eetherbiail, as well as a company of elite troopers, were dropped onto the planetary surface in order to protect the workshop of Tritos Nal from destruction by the hands of hostile forces. It would be an extremely tough mission; they would face a battalion of elite Sun Guard light infantry.
It was a long battle, but resulted in repelling the Sun Guard troopers from the surroundings of the ancient facility. However, the objective was not completed without casualties. Many loyal soldiers of the Empire sacrificed their lives to defend the workshop. The leaders of the Special Forces were aware that they would not be able to defeat another group of the Sun Guard infantry of such size. However, repelling the hostile soldiers allowed them to continue their missions on the planetary surface and cause as much havoc and chaos among their enemies in order to make it at least a little bit easier for the main invasion army to deal with opposition.
Fifteen days later, en route back to Judecca,
The Imperial House celebrated. Finally, the Dark Council had admitted that the forces of Scholae Palatinae played the most significant role in conquering Korriz. The Grand Master granted them the planet as reward for their efforts in another phase of the Dark Crusade. The Dark Jedi of the Imperial House showed their true value and courage on the battlefield. They were proud of themselves and the House Summit was proud of their achievements. A new planet in the Imperial Dominion was what they were in need of.
However, there was no rose without thorns: the casualties were high. Not only numerous soldiers had been killed, but also few Dark Jedi of the Imperial House had decided to give up and leave the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, unsatisfied with what it could have offered them. It was a powerful blow to the House as they lost one member of the Special Forces team and one promising Journeyman. Such loss would heavily affect their abilities to fight on the next planet, wherever they would be sent.
Still, the Dark Council planned a two month tactical break from the Crusade. Ships required refueling and repairs. Soldiers, pilots and crew were fatigued and not as effective as they once were. Even the Dark Jedi required rest. Continuing the campaign against the One Sith, when everyone was so fatigued could lead to terrible mistakes and defeat by the One Sith forces. In the worst case scenario, they would retake all of the territory that had been conquered by the Brotherhood.
There was undeniable wisdom in the decision of the Dark Council. While it could have theoretically happened, very few were concerned with a possible counterattack from the One Sith. Even though they still had a substantial number of soldiers and ships, their forces were scattered and it would take a significant time to muster enough firepower to be of any significant threat to the fleets of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.
For the Imperial House, it was high time they return to the Cocytus system and make the necessary preparations for the next invasion. The soldiers and the Dark Jedi of the Empire required not only rest and medical treatment, but also additional training so that they were ready for action when the time came. In the meanwhile, the House Summit continued to mastermind their own plans for the future and pull the necessary strings…
Some things ends, others begin
Two weeks before the assault on Dromund Kaas,
Antei, headquarters of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood
Xantros disembarked the shuttle, which brought him to Antei, the homeworld of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. He had been called there by the Grand Master, Muz Ashen, who wished to speak with him. The Krath Priest rushed to the office of the Grand Master, as he was aware that it would be highly unwise to make the leader of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood wait. The guards, informed about his arrival, let him go after brief check. Few minutes later, he knocked on the door and entered the room. He kneeled down to show the respect to the Grand Master.
“Rise and take a sit.”
“Thank you, my Lord.”
“I would like to speak with you, because I wish to inform you about new assignment. Apart from your current duties as the Aedile of your House, I have decided to ask you with searching of possible candidates to support our cause.”
“What exactly do you expect from me, my Lord?
“The Dark Crusade has cost us lives of many Dark Jedi. We need to rebuild our ranks. Thus, I would like you to go here and there and discreetly speak with Force-sensitive beings, that might be willing to join us. It is a difficult and dangerous task, but someone needs to fulfill it. You are smart and can be quite convincing, when necessary.”
“Will I get someone to help me, my Lord? The Galaxy is quite vast. It will take a lot of time to visit just one tenth of all inhabited planets.”
“Yes, you may pick up a team of three people, but be careful in your choice. They need to be well-headed people, who are able to work undercover, apart from displaying other useful skills.”
“Certainly, my Lord. I will choose wisely.”
“Now, you may go. You have duties to carry out and I am sure that you will be busy. You will work a lot for me and other members of the Dark Council.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
Xantros bowed, left the room and headed to the spaceport. He had indeed a lot of work, but he had to discuss few things with his Quaestor, at first.
Several days later, Judecca, Quaestor’s office.
“Yes, it is indeed a great news,” said Xen’Mordin. “It is a rare chance for our House.”
“As for every other unit in the Dark Jedi Brotherhood,” replied Xantros.
“We need more recruits. Your new position provides us with a set of tools to improve our position in the Brotherhood.”
“Certainly, but you should remember that I cannot use my new privileges to make our House stronger by direct cost of other units. If it got revealed, I would lose more than my new position.”
“I am aware of this fact, but I hope that our situation will improve. I expect you to fulfill your new duties with at least the same efficiency and determination as you carry out your duties in our House, as my the Aedile and my second in command.”
“I will do my best, but it means that my time to carry out my Aedile duties will be a bit limited. Still, I will make what I will be able to make our House as strong as it is only possible. I am aware that stronger unit makes myself stronger.”
Few days later, high orbit over Dromuund Kaas
The final assault on the One Sith was right about to start. The Dark Crusade was getting very close to its end. It was the last chance to beat other Houses, which were sent to Dromund Kaas, and to claim another planet for the Imperial Dominion. The Summit of House Scholae Palatinae was making the last inspections, before setting off to the surface of Dromund Kaas. In accordance to the intel data, it was going to be a relatively easy invasion. The forces of the One Sith were significantly smaller and less dangerous than before. It could have helped the Imperial House to achieve the goals set by the Dark Council and to secure the planet for their own needs. Korriz was a nice acquisition to start with, but second planet would make the presence of Scholae Palatinae in the area a bit stronger. Everyone was aware that conquering another planet would be a significant success and would greatly improve the position of Scholae Palatinae in the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.
Thus, the Dark Jedi of the Imperial House were eager to remove any possible obstacle and to make sure that they were as prepared for the invasion as it was possible. Despite being fatigued with a very long campaign, they did not refuse to take part in yet another battle against the One Sith. In the corridors, between themselves, they complained about being exploited by the Dark Council. Even the most bloodthirsty members of Scholae Palatinae were satiated with the constant warfare, but their loyalty to the Iron Throne remained unshaken. The news about the last episode of the Dark Crusade made them satisfied and vigorous. They once again arrived on the battlefield to conquer another planet in the name of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.
Two weeks later, aboard the ISD-II Warspite, hyperspace
The members of House Scholae Palatinae fought bravely. They showed excellence and dedication in their actions on the fields of Dromund Kaas. The Grand Master had noticed their presence out there, as they were going to be awarded with unit specific robes. However, it was not what they had expected to receive. Their efforts to conquer Dromund Kaas were significant, but once again, they were underestimated and Taldryan was allowed to gain yet another planet under their control.
Still, the members of the Imperial House saw the Dark Crusade as a military campaign with a positive outcome. Certainly, they had suffered numerous casualties and losses in equipment and average soldiers. Certainly, few members of House Scholae Palatinae had not endured the tension and had resigned from the service in the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, seeking for luck outside the Brotherhood. Certainly, Evant Taelyan had been converted to the Light Sight and had decided to join House Odan-Urr as their Rollmaster. Certainly, it was going to take a lot of time to rebuild the Imperial House.
Still, they had conquered one of the sacred worlds of the ancient Sith, Korriz. It was going to be an extremely valuable addition to the Imperial Dominion. On the contrary to House Tarentum, House Odan-Urr and, more importantly, Clan Naga Sadow, they had expanded their territories. They had proven themselves extremely valuable for the Iron Throne and whole Dark Jedi Brotherhood, despite serious limits like low numbers of House members and even fewer Equites and Elders, who played significant role throughout the Dark Crusade. What is more, they had learnt much during the conflict against the One Sith and their overall position had become stronger with the appointment of Xantros to the position of the Tribune, who was responsible for recruiting new members into the ranks of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.
There was a lot of work ahead of the Imperial House. Protracted campaign against the One Sith made them leave Cocytus system for a very long long time. Some of the governors and politicians started to think that they could do whatever they wished to without suffering any consequences. Some of the criminal organizations grew bold and acted openly in the streets, like if they were convinced that no one could stop them. The Dark Jedi had to bring order to their headquarters again and get rid of all hostile elements, before they could deal with accommodating Korriz to their needs.
Despite the Dark Crusade focusing most of the efforts of all members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, the Summit of the Imperial House continued to hatch their plans.