Team BoatsNHoes: Clan Naga Sadow
Raistlin Sadow - 114
Manji Keibatsu Sadow - 3415
Dyrra Skye - 10466
Malik - 97
Setsuna Sakurazaki - 6377
Kairus - 7547
M/CRV Primuus Goluud
Raistlin sat, half-slumped in the captain's chair onboard the Primus Goluud. Only a skeleton crew was left, most were on the planet's surface, enjoying a brief R&R as the ship was refitted, and rearmed. THe Battle of Nfolgai had gone well according to Consul Sonije, but Raistlin saw it differently.
As part of the early insertion team, he had been on the planet for almost 3 weeks, and had caused a substantial amount of damage to both One Sith forces, and the infrastructure on the planet. By the time the rest of the Clan and Brotherhood had arrived, Nfolgai had been softened up, and would be ripe for the picking, a glorious vicory for Clan Naga Sadow
After overwhelming success against the One Sith, CNS and DSOG forces were quickly besieged on all sides by House Plagueis. Forced to make a final stand at the Mausoleum of Sorzus Syn. Outnumbered two-to-one they had fought admirably, but when the order to retreat was given, they basically ceded control of the planet to House Plagueis. It was a defeat Raistlin would not soon forget.
The Exarch had earned the dubious honor of being the last member of Naga Sadow on the surface of the planet. It was a useless trivia fact Raist swore to change.
"F*CK" Raist screamed, slamming his fist into the arm of the captain's chair. The sound reverberated loudly through the nearly empty deck, and Lieutenant Shartinlier turned toward him, her arms thrown up in exasperation. "I don't even know what to say to you anymore Raist. Chill out?"
"Nothing works just as well Lieutenant..." Raist spat venomously. The two were close, and using her rank told Elia all she needed to know about the Exarch's current mood. "How far along schedule are we?" he asked, quickly changing the subject.
"Refit will be complete in an hour, crew is scheduled to be back in the next 6, and we should be launching in 8. Any idea where we're headed?" she asked
"Back to the front lines, the Council has ordered us to press the attack. Our next target is Khar Delba, a world that will be infinitely more difficult to take. Resistance is going to be heavy." Raist said, matter-of-factly. All true statements, the world of Khar Delba was incredibly important to the One Sith, and with an established presence already, the insertion would not be easy.
"Understood, nothing we haven't dealt with before right?" She said, managing to smirk and hoping he did the same. He didn't.
"Admiral Raistlin Sir," the XO stated, "I have a request to dock from a Shuttle. Clearance code checks out. Won't give me names, but say they're friends of yours." The XO said.
Raistlin stood up, puzzled. He had no idea who it could be, and as far as he knew, he was inserting into Khar Delba alone. "Let them aboard. Elia, you have the bridge." Raist turned, and headed toward the turbolift. As he did so, he pulled a hand-rolled cigarra from his pocket, and lit it.
"Nothing like uninvited dinner guests." Raist said, exhaling a long cloud of smoke back into the bridge as the turbolift doors closed behind him. "Hangar" the Exarch shouted, and the turbolift began to descend.
M/CRV Primuus Goluud
Turbojets blazed white-hot as they fired downwards, smoothing the descent of the shuttle as it drifted into the Hangar bay through the invisible forcefields. Delicately, the ship eased down onto the floor, steam hissing from the vents as it settled down on its suspension. The landing ramp came to rest on the floor with a quiet 'tnk' noise as the few remaining workers in the hangar bay turned to look at the shuttle, each coming to attention.
The doors of the turbolift opened with a hiss of air and Raist strode into the hangar bay just as a group of men and women began to descend the landing ramp. As they emerged, Raist felt a wry smile sneaking across his face.
"About time you lot showed up," he chuckled, removing the cigarra from between his lips. "Didn't want to miss the fun, eh?"
Flashing a wide grin back at the Exarch, Manji Keibatsu Sadow shrugged. Behind him, the flame-haired Dyrra Skye leant nonchalantly back against one of the landing struts, quiet confidence writ large upon her face. The aged Warlord Malik, another scion of Sadow, stood next to her with his arms crossed and a smile on his face.
"Locke finally got through to me," Manji said. "I left Kyataru, picked up Dyrra en-route and then ran into the rest of these scurvy dogs on Aeotheran. You thought you'd try and jump ahead, eh? Grab some glory before we arrived?"
The joke was well-received; Raist chuckled quietly, his ill mood dispersed by the presence of some of the other veterans of Sadow. Their task- to take Khar Delba- had just become somewhat less arduous with the saber-arms of the One-Eyed Dragon involved.
"Who are your friends?" the Exarch asked, craning to look around the Pontifex. Manji turned and gestured to the two Obelisk who had now joined them on the hangar floor.
"Kairus, Setsuna. This is Raistlin Sadow."
The honorific widened both their eyes a little, and Kairus and Setsuna both nodded their heads slightly in deference to the son of Sadow standing before them. For his part, Raist sized them both up, his gaze lingering somewhat longer on Setsuna. Before the silence could stretch out too far he turned away, boots smacking smartly against the hangar floor, and called back over his shoulder to the group.
"We've got eight hours before launch, so make yourselves comfortable. Briefing is at 2100 hours."
As he marched away and the group filed after him towards the turbolifts, Dyrra pushed herself upright and glanced across at the Keibatsu next to her. She had become adept at reading his emotions, and was a little surprised at what she could sense in him now.
"You're not happy to be here?" she hissed, as they walked several paces behind Kairus and Setsuna.
"It's not that," Manji replied in a low voice, not looking at her. "I've... been away for some time now. I need to get adjusted to... all of this."
He looked across at her and flashed a wolfish smile.
"Was that genuine concern, Apprentice?" he chuckled.
"Well, you might have gone soft in your old age," Dyrra snapped back at him, a grin lighting up her own features. "Don't let some One Sith punk take your head off before I get the chance to!"
Manji snorted derisively in response, both at the implication that his former student might one day best him and the idea that the enemies they fought today might be anything other than business as usual. The One Eyed Dragon had never been one to consider his own mortality.
"You're not the only one who hasn't been around much," Dyrra commented, gesturing at Kairus and Setsuna. "I don't even recognise half the people in the clan, anymore."
"Now, who's getting old?" chuckled the Keibatsu, turning at the sound of a second shuttle landing. A journeyman stumbled off and hurried towards them, clearly not sure where he was meant to be.
"A late arrival?" Dyrra murmured. "Must be," replied Manji, stepping forward to greet him.
Entering the atmosphere of Khar Delba
"I knew this was a bad idea," hissed Dyrra, already wishing she were back aboard the Primus Goluud. The shuttle shuddered as she spoke, as if in response, eliciting a fresh wave of nausea. There was a snarl from the front as Malik wrestled ineffectually with the controls. "There shouldn't be this much frackin' turbulence!" the Neti swore as the shudders redoubled and the frostbitten surface of Khar Delba loomed ever closer through the viewscreen.
"I thought you said you could fly this thing!" Manji growled, a note of frustration evident in his voice.
"Oh, I am sorry," Malik replied, distractedly, thumping the console in frustration, "Would you like to take over?!"
Kairus found himself nearly deafened as the shrieking voice of the red-head in the back seat explained to each of them why allowing the Keibatsu near the controls of a shuttle was not a plan they were going to pursue at this point in time.
"...and then, the Hutt-karking son-of-a-bantha killed the pilot! The only pilot! I barely gorram survived!"
Unfortunately, this wasn't helping with their current predicament. Raistlin, thankfully, had a more practical solution and attempted to call for help, eventually throwing the comm down in disgust, and roaring at the assembled team.
"Everyone, shut up and listen to me!"
Silence fell, briefly, but for the insistent beeping of the console.
"The only way we're going to survive this is through the Force," Raistlin snarled, his words clipped. "And I don't know about you, but I don't intend to die up here while some worthless fake Sith try to lay claim to this world, our rightful homeworld, as Disciples of Sadow!"
As he finished speaking, the Exarch drew upon the Force and reached out to the rest of the squad, trying to unite their strength.
United, Naga Sadow had achieved it's greatest victories. They'd become a Clan, through unity.
Now, united, the Sadowans would try to save their own skins.
Malik felt the combined Force power of the group wash over him and extended outwards to envelop the shuttle, with that help he managed to get just enough control of the shuttle to prevent the team perishing in a ball of fire as he leveled it out and brought it into a slightly less uncontrolled crash landing.
The shuttle came crashing out of the sky over Khar Delba, the last second change of course made it skip off the edge of a crater and slide to a stop near the bottom of it.
As Malik stumbled from the pilot seat he saw that the others were more or less unscathed but still quite shook up from the crash.
“So another successful landing it is then,” He said as he opened the hatch and exited the shuttle to inspect the damage, “Feel free to fly with Neti Air again in the future.”
“That’s a negative Ghost Rider,” he heard someone say behind him, not taking much notice of who had said it.
“You call this a successful landing?” Dyrra said as she stumbled out the shuttle. “The frakkin wings are gone!”
“Are you not alive young one?” The old Warlord said as he shrugged and walked off to the other side of the shuttle.
Dyrra shook her head, clearly believing Malik was at least a little crazy.
As Malik returned from the other side of the shuttle he found the remaining members of the group waiting at the hatch. “It looks very much like it wasn’t just turbulence that drove us down,” he said.
“What are you talking about?” Kairus asked.
“It appears someone sabotaged the shuttle, Quaestor. The communications array is also in a state of complete disrepair so we have no way of calling for an evac,” Malik said.
Khar Delba Crash Site
Setsuna looked at the different members of the team and shook her head slightly. Each of them had an extensive file in her quarters with the lone exception of the latecomer. She wasn’t entirely sure who this man was and she didn’t entirely care so long as he didn’t hinder the mission. Checking her weapons quickly, the girl listened at the Neti explained that the shuttle had been sabotaged. The young Prelate pulled her datapad from the depths of her pack and quickly looked over the information she had on the planet.
“Curious,” was the first word uttered by her the entire trip.
The others turned to look at her as Kairus asked, “Care to share with the class?”
Setsuna smiled at the man she’d become closer too during their foray on the Avenger. “Aside from the One Sith, our largest problem will likely be the behemoths.”
As she spoke, she replaced her datapad inside her pack and smiled almost beatifically. “This might actually be kind of fun, Kairus.”
Turning away from the others, she took a few steps and looked out over the icy terrain. The girl pulled her cloak around her in an attempt to ward off the cold and sighed. This world would not be a terribly pleasant living space, but in the long run important to her Clan by way of their namesake’s reputation.
Kairus came to stand beside her with a grin, casting his features into a slightly demonic visage in the early hours of the day. “I don’t see why this should be any harder than what we’ve already been through.”
Setsuna shrugged as the rest of the group joined them. “We’re flying blind here, Kairus,” she remarked softly. “Let’s not go out of our way to find trouble. It’s not much fun, but at least we’l all survive.”
She looked around herself almost nervously before casting a glance at the Knight. “For his sake, I hope there’s nothing the rest of us can’t handle. The herd is already thin enough.”
The group began to move towards the rendezvous point they’d been given in the briefing. The others moved in a tight formation, constantly watching all sides as the two Assassins, Kairus and Setsuna, melting into the shadows and followed closely.
Setsuna simply couldn’t shake the feeling they were being watched and followed.
"Don't worry about me Prelate, Master Drodik taught me well."
Alex looked around at all the Equates he was with. The Prelate was right about one thing. The herd was thin, and he was still just a journeyman. As the group started to head to the rendezvous he checked to make sure his blaster had a full e-clip, and his saber was secured.
"I may be new to Clan Naga Sadow, but I did my research before leaving New Tython. And the way I see it this should be a Walk in the park with someone of your stature in the mission. Besides you were a journeyman at one time as well. "
Alex scanned the icy horizon for the source of his uneasiness.
"With 2 Sons of Sadow a single sith would be crazy to try and stop us. And the Prelate is more then a match for a simple herd beast."
Alex engaged the heating unit on his armor. Of all the planets it is a frozen hell that he may become one with the force. It also would be fitting for it to be Khar Delba since it was a world that held a fortress of Naga Sadow. Before leaving House Odan-Urr he had found some teachings of Naga Sadow shortly after his Knighthood. He cleared his mind, he need to concentrate on the here and now not the past.
"So anyone have any idea who this Sith is, how to stop a 10,000 kg 12 m war beast, and how to get off this planet."
He waited to see if anyone had an idea or if the Prelate was going to lash out. The short awkward silence had him betting on the second option.
Khar Delba Surface
The blasted surface stretched out before them in a cascade of barren, rolling tundra and craters. A light dusting of snow clung to the surface of the rock beneath their feet, making the going treacherous- the slightest lapse of concentration could plunge the unwary traveller down the side of a jagged hill and to their death.
And worse than all of that, Manji had a splitting headache.
The taint of the Dark Side was almost overwhelming here- greater than he'd felt on any other planet, even in the dominion of the Sadowans or on Antei, the home of the Brotherhood. It permeated the very bedrock below them and leeched out into the air, a choking, invisible cloud of stinking power. The more powerful members of the group- Malik, Raist, Manji and Setsuna- could feel it settling around them, whispering into their ears- urging them to abandon what reason remained, to embrace the Dark Side with all of their being.
With a snarl, Manji shook his head, fighting the voices down. He'd drifted off into contemplation- a dangerous move. The overwhelming stench of the Dark Side would effectively mask the approach of any foes, so he needed to keep his wits about him and his eyes and ears open. They had descended from the open hills into a small canyon of blasted, icy rock- welcome shelter from the biting winds.
Even as the thought surfaced in his mind, he heard the roar. A huge beast suddenly appeared at the far end of the canyon, legs carrying it ferociously towards the Sadowans. Its tusks gouged huge channels out of the ground below as it surged forwards as if driven by the hounds of hell.
"Blades out!" Manji shouted, his voice reverberating off the rocks. The frantic hum of igniting lightsabers bit into the air as the group scattered before the behemoth, forcing it to slow to a halt. It turned and let out another guttural roar, swinging its head round menacingly.
As they circled it, Malik moved backwards, his eyes narrowed as he stared at the beast, his mind racing. The realisation hit him like a hammerblow- the focus and anger in the creature's blood-red eyes wasn't natural.
"Be careful! The beast is being controlled by someone!" Malik shouted, lifting his own saber into a defensive position.
The shroud of the Dark Side throbbed around the war behemoth as it darted forward with startling speed, aiming its tusks at Raist's chest.
Khar Delba Surface
Kairus cursed the groups luck silently as the beast charged Raist, his one remaining eye almost snow blind due to the icy terrain. Worse, something unnatural was blocking his ability to sense his counterparts to use as a guide. Unwilling to lose anyone so early in the game, the Obelisk reacted with the first idea that came to him. He engaged the lock on his blade and threw it towards the head of the raging beast.
Raist seemed to have the same idea of not being taken out as he attempted to hurtle the giant. Malik was correct, whoever was controlling this beast was no novice; the creature not only reared its head up, but the whole front of its body, as if it were going to stand on its hind legs.
The lightsaber flew harmlessly past where the animal’s head had been, and in mid-air the beast connected with Raist’s feet, causing him to tumble down its back into the snow.
The Templar made sure Raist had cleared the behemoth’s rear legs before looking to where his lightsaber had landed. Already it had begun to melt its way into the snow and ice leaving a meter sized scar in the terrain. Setsuna was closest and reached into the void to retrieve the sapphire blade. She deactivated the blade and threw the hilt to Kairus, which he caught and relit.
Another idea flashed into his mind, and he hoped the other team members could keep this dark beast occupied so he could try. He ran a few meters from the circle of fighters and plunged his blade into the snow and ice. Tracing a large square almost 5 meters by 5 meters, he extinguished his blade and clipped it to his belt.
Focusing on his target Kairus began to lift the huge cube he had cut from the terrain. It slowly began to rise, but it wasn’t going fast enough. Fortunately Setsuna saw what he was doing and aided the fellow assassin. Through their combined might they tossed the huge block onto the monster and watched it disappear under the white mass.
Only seconds went by before the cube shattered and the beast emerged once more, its eyes glowing even brighter red. The team could not tell who was angrier, the beast or the one controlling it.
Khar Delba Surface
Alex had deja vu. He was certain he had been here before. Or maybe it was in a dream. Or the fact that he had been ambushed on Coruscant. Either way it did not matter. He was not the target of the war beast which meant he could look for its controller. He scanned the cliff's above for the Sith controller. As he did the wind suddenly pick up, and the power like snow started to swirl and blind the team.
The beast snorted, blowing a cloud of snow around it. The beast reared back and charged Raistlin again. Rasitlin stood his ground till the last second, as the beast went to gore Raistlin he leapt over the best. Striking the beast on its back. The beast tusk gouged the ice sending a shower of ice chunks at Alex.
As the beast turned to Rasitlin, Setsuna unleashed a bolt of lighting at the beast stunning it for a few seconds. Giving Alex a chance to Jump at the beast, drawing his saber and impaling the beast in the back. The beast reared, Alex did his beast to maintain his balance, and fell off the beast. The beast reared and tried to stomp him, but he rolled out of the way. Setsuna unleashed another bolt stunning the beast for just a few seconds again. Alex moved from under the beast moving toward Setsuna.
As Alex did the Beast seem confused. Looking from one team member to another.
"Manji, why didn't the Sith build temples on a resort world like Zeltron?" Raist asked into his baffled mic as he narrowly dodged being crushed by the appendage of a Sith Behemoth.
".... Is that a real question, or hypothetical?" Manji asked back. The two men stood between the gigantic.... thing Raist currently the subject of its anger and Manji directly behind it. As the Exarch deftly avoided being crushed by the War Beast's flailing appendages, he knew there was only one way out of this predicament.
The massive, hulking monstrosity in front of him was pure rage, and even though his team was formidable, no amount of Force conjuring, or mind trickery was going to work here. What was worse, Raist couldn't even read the creature's thoughts, it was as if a huge wall had been erected just outside of the creature's conscious, which could only mean it was being controlled like a marionette on a string. He knew that he was not strong enough in the Force to perform such an act, nor was it an area he had focused in over his many years of study and practice.
"Ladies... Gents..... Malik,' Raist joked, contorting his body midair into a ball as he somsersaulted away from the creature. It's movements were unpredictable, and it seemed to be able to react to Raist's every reaction. If the Exarch made a wrong move, this assault would be over before it even began.
"Manji, stay here and let's try to carve our friend here down to size. The rest of you get to higher ground and try to flank or circle this SOB." Raist went and performed a backflip, but as he planted his left hand, it caught ice which forced him to fall flat on his face. Were it not for the Royal Guard armor he wore, he might have dislocated his wrist. As he looked up, he could see nothing but inky blackness descending on him. He quickly pointed his lightsaber straight up and it slammed into the Behemoth's foot, which caused the creature to let out a roar so loud that the valley walls themselves shook.
The One-Eyed Dragon pounced, realizing the opportunity he had, and jumped easily 15 feet into the air before slamming his saber into the creature's back. Inky ichor spewed out of the creature's duraplast-like skin, and Manji quickly dropped to the ground to better react to what was coming. Raistlin smiled as a strategy began to formulate in his head, but it would require the rest of his group to execute to perfection. Other then the legendary Dyrra Skye, and his longtime friend Malik, the Exarch didn't know if the rest could be trusted, and he hated planning around variables.
"Manji we might hold out for a few if we can keep your grandma between us. You up for it friend?" Raist asked.
"Raist, I could have sworn that our dancing partner here said she was YOUR date for the evening." Manji shot right back, which caused Raist to chuckle.
"Alright Tall, Dark and Gruesome...." Raist trailed off as he planted his feet in the ground. With the aid of the Force, Raistlin launched high into the air, to the others, it looked almost like he was in slow motion, his green saber slicing through the air as the wind and snow beat relentlessly, casting an eerie light as he flew toward the creature's face. As the Sith Behemoth opened it's gaping maw, Raist quickly clicked the button on his saber to activate its lower half. The *snap-hiss* of his blade, the howling of the wind, and the smacking of lips were the only sounds to be heard before the Exarch threw his saber directly into the left eye socket of the creature.
It slammed home and as he began to drop down, the creature began to stomp and rage wildly. Rather then killing it, he just made it even more angry.
He recalled his saber and adopted a defensive posture. Raistlin and Manji were overmatched, and heavily out-muscled. Without the aid of those whom he had barely met, let alone fought with in the heat of countless battles, he and Manji would probbaly die here, on the former fortress-world of their Overlord's namesake.
Time was running out..
Setsuna moved through the snow one silent footsteps. She did not seem to be in any real hurry as she separated herself from the group and watched the fight from a distance. The ones called Raistlin and Manji were squaring off with the beast and she recently saved the brash Knight from becoming nothing more than a puddle of gore on the beast’s foot.
Shaking her head slowly, the young Prelate continued her own mission and as the snowfall caked onto the black places of her clothing, she blended into the background almost perfectly.
Release your anger. Let us help you, the wind seemed to call to her.
She tilted her head to the side, listening to the voices for a moment before turning around with a sadistic grin on her face. Want to help me, do you? Sorry, but I don’t think I’m in need just yet.
Her footfalls were quick, but silent as she almost dashed across the terrain. She wasn’t physically intimidating, but she was fast. Allowing the Force to flow through her body, Setsuna ran even faster towards the beast.
As she approached the beast, the young Prelate empowered herself with the Force once again and lept through the air towards the hulking monstrosity. Setsuna ghosted through the air towards her target and landed lightly on its back. Bracing herself between the spikes on the beast’s back, the girl rode in silence until it was time for an orchestrated strike against the creature.
She watched the other members of her team closely with her saber still in her free hand as she waited patiently for the proper time to strike against the behemoth.
Khar Delba Surface
Kairus calculated all the variables going for the team, one the behemoth had a gash on his back and two, it was missing an eye. The other Dark Jedi had done well in wounding the beast, and the time had come to put the atrocity to its final rest. He maneuvered himself to its blind side and called out to Setsuna who was still on the creature’s back. “The gash Setsuna”, he yelled, “see if you can inflict more damage!” She acknowledged by flipping her lightsaber in her hand hilt down and thrusting the blade into the open wound. The behemoth let out a massive wail as it reared up as if to dislodge the weapon from its back.
Rearing up on its hind legs Setsuna slid safely down the monster’s back and Kairus moved in for its exposed stomach. Malik also saw the advantage and joined the assassin as they both jumped several feet in the air cleaving their blades into the creature’s mid-section. Both had to disengage their attack prematurely as the creature fell back down on all four legs. The beast wailed again, but it had finally started to show signs of slowing. A small pool of the inky life-essence of the behemoth began to form on the icy terrain, the other Jedi reacted quickly.
Setsuna alternated slashes at the back of the hulk’s legs, but with all her effort she could not get them to give out. Raistlin and Manji put themselves in full view of the gargantuan animal’s eye, trying to re-engage the beast. Even with its current wounds, the sith behemoth would not stop fighting the Dark Jedi.
I hate fighting in the snow.
The conditions almost reminded Dyrra of home. Tarthos was certainly this chilly- but not quite this forbidding. As a long time Disciple of Sadow, she was used to planets strong in the Dark Side- but this was different. Quite apart from anything, Naga Sadow himself had set foot here: worthy motivation for any Sadowan to fight for the right to call this planet home.
Unfortunately, there was something big, ugly and smelly in their way, first. Dyrra found himself fervently wishing she was cracking not very funny quips about her former master's hygiene habits, instead of facing down an angry behemoth, even if it was wounded.
It had been an unsettling encounter. The presence of the Dark Side on the planet had masked the beast's approach, until it had charged into their midst. Dyrra didn't relish being unable to sense her attackers through the force - like so many Dark Jedi, she had learned to rely on those faint impressions of danger. Perhaps too heavily, she considered briefly.
Setsuna's blade had done some serious damage- Dyrra had never seen the female Kyataran in action before and this was a hell of a first impression. The Templar decided it was time for her to help her clan mates and focusing her anger, sent Naga Sadow's signature force blast into the behemoth's face.
It turned it's maddened gaze on Dyrra and she had five seconds to recognise the rabid look in its eyes, before the other Sadowans drove their blades into it's throat, having sensed it's weakness.
The beast staggered, more blood oozing from its numerous wounds onto the snow. It slumped forward onto its knees, the fire in its eyes fading slowly. It would soon be another corpse left to freeze on this desolate world.
There was a sudden silence, broken only by the ragged breaths of the Sadowans and Dyrra's voice, a note of nervousness ringing clearly to those assembled.
"This is a herd creature. We should get out of here before the rest of its family show up."
As the party got ready to walk on towards their rendezvous location Malik couldn’t help wondering at who might have been controlling the behemoth, whoever it was he had been powerful enough to foil his own attempt at controlling the beast even from a considerable distance since he hadn’t been able to sense the mysterious opponent.
“I take it the rest of you also sensed that the behemoth was being controlled,” the Neti said and added “I don’t suppose any of you sensed or saw the puppeteer?”
None of them had sensed anyone as he had suspected.
“Another question we should ask is if whoever is behind this only controlled that one beast or if he controls the whole herd because if that’s the case then we could be in trouble,” Manji stated.
“Let’s assume he controls the herd and be on the lookout for now,” Raist said.
The others nodded in agreement as they set off. Malik was lost in his own thoughts while they walked when he suddenly said, “I think we can assume that if he does control the herd then he will have less control over the individual behemoth if he sends the rest after us at the same time,” as he added under his breath, “I hope.”
“What was that last bit?” Dyrra asked.
“Never mind that, it was nothing,” the Warlord said as he looked up and saw the outline of their destination in the distance, “I feel the need, the need for speed,” he mumbled.
Some of the others gave him a puzzled look, “Our destination lies straight ahead, so let’s pick up the pace is what I meant,” He said as he pointed in the direction they were heading.
The Sadowans were correct.
There was a Puppeteer.
And he did control the herd.
Waves of the Force tugged and pulled at the war behemoths and compelled their will to devour. The beasts roared and the Puppeteer wove his hands, invisible strings guiding the beasts in a frenzied charge across the open tundra towards the unsuspecting Sadowans.
But this time, the Puppeteer would not watch, he would ride.....
Khar Delba Surface
The landscape continued to roll on before the group as they drew nearer to the rendezvous point and to Naga Sadow's temple. It was visible in the distance, now- a looming mass of grey stone that rose up out of the icy tundra, casting a pall across the terrain surrounding it. Malik led the way, with the others filing along behind him and reaching out with the Force in case of any more danger. They would be unable to sense it, but touching the Dark Side seemed oddly comforting in a place like this.
Manji walked at the back of the group, his head constantly moving to survey the land around them. Malik's words had put him on edge- the Pontifex did not like the feeling of being hunted, and was not about to relax his guard while the enemy that had sent the behemoth at them was still breathing.
His thoughts were interrupted as they moved onto a wide, icy plain bordered by sheer glacial walls, leading directly towards the citadel. It towered above them, a monument to the glory of the Golden Age of the Sith and a testament to the power of the Sith Lord from whom the Sadowans took their heritage. For a moment, the group halted to gaze up at the vast walls, decorated with scenes from the life of Sadow as a tribute to his might. His victories over Ludo Kressh and his subjugation of the war behemoths native to Khar Delba were detailed in bas-relief. Each member of the group felt a surge of pride fill their chest- as the disciples, sons and daughters of Sadow, this place was theirs by right.
Suddenly, the moment was rudely shattered as the ground began to shake from a thunderous stampede. At the far end of the plain, a herd of behemoths surged towards the group, bellowing at the top of their lungs. At the head of the group was a larger, black-skinned behemoth with cruelly twisted horns, and standing on its back they could dimly make out a black-robed and hooded figure with a blazing crimson saber clutched in his fist.
"Oh, kark," Dyrra shouted over the din.
Khar Delba Surface
Alex felt oddly at home while looking at the scenes from the life of Naga Sadow. His time with the Grey Jedi of Odan-Urr never seemed right. The moment was broken by shaking of the ground. Alex turned his head and seen the thundering herd coming for them. He knew that this Sith would have greater power then him and he would be foolish to try and attack him. But the beast were a different story. Those he had an idea for.
“You six handle the Sith and his beast. I have an Idea for the rest of the heard. I doubt he can fully control the beast his is on, fight you six, and fully control the heard.”
As the group formed a semi circle the two assassins Setsuna and Kairus moved to right while Malik, Dyrra, and Manji formed the center. Raistlin moved to the left with Alex. ”Don't go doing something stupid or foolish”
“Don't worry about me, you just make sure that the Sith stays busy.” As the Sith and the heard got closer Alex executed the only plan he could think of. Hoping the the “Herd” mentality we still somewhere inside.
When the heard was close the group attacked from the front and right. The Sith fended off the the multiple attacks. With his attention on the Equates, Alex took two flash grenades and tossed them at the normal war beast. As the grenades detonated the herd turned to the left. The black war beast reared up but did not break. As the herd turned back Alex drew his saber to join the attack on the Sith.
Khar Delba Surface
Malik used the temporary confusion amongst the behemoths to leap up and over the puppeteer intending to strike with both lightsabers at the same time but right as he was about to make contact the cloaked raised a hand towards the Neti and unleashed a wave of force lightning, only a well-timed force blast from Manji saved Malik. As he got back on his feet the Warlord gave a quick nod of thanks towards the One-eyed Dragon, “Your ego is writing cheques your body can’t cash,” he said to himself under his breath.
“Everyone who can should aim their force blasts at his chest, we need to get him down from that thing to fight him,” he heard Raist’s voice say in his mind.
Malik, Manji, Dyrra and Kairus all sent force blasts as directed but only managed to unbalance the puppeteer who seemed to have absorbed most of the attacks but it was enough for Setsuna to leap from the shadows she had disappeared into and swing her saber at the One Sith’s neck. The Sith had sensed the attack but hadn’t regained his balance to fully dodge it resulting in Setsuna’s blade punching through his shoulder.
Meanwhile the rest of the group charged the behemoth, he was mounted on, trying to land blows on its legs and head. The beast roared and swung its head at the attackers trying to hit them with its enormous tusks. Raist easily dodged the incoming tusk but Malik wasn’t nearly as fast and was sent flying into the side of the glacial wall.
Khar Delba Surface
Kairus followed the form of Mailk flying towards the icy wall and quickly tried to send out a buffer with the Force. He was confident it had succeeded when Malik stood again, winded but conscious. Focusing his concentration back on the Sith Behemoth, he realized his teammates were in strategically decent positions. Dyrra and Setsuna were attempting to disable the monster’s hind legs while Manji and Raistlin were provoking the beast up front. The assassin looked up to the Sith rider who was holding a firm hand to his wounded shoulder.
The Obelisk planted both of his feet into the snow and sent another Force Blast towards the wounded man. Alone the blast did little to phase the enraged Sith, but the others took note of his attempt and began assailing him with attacks from all sides. Malik managed his way back to the fight, joining the two at the front of the colossus. Together all three sent their strongest Force Blast which all hit the Sith at once full on. A stunned look crossed the rider’s face as his remaining hand holding on to the make-shift bridle began to slide.
The Sith tumbled backwards and started to slide down his mount’s back when his foot became entangled in the harness. Once again Kairus engaged the lock on his lightsaber and threw it into the air hoping what happened next wouldn’t enrage the beast further. The saber cut the harness free of the behemoth, but left a large score on the creature’s neck. Bellowing loudly it shook its head which in turn shook the harness free and the Sith fell to the ground. At last, everyone was on even ground for the moment.
Adrenaline sang it's siren song in Dyrra's blood, ensuring that the young Obelisk was able to keep one step ahead of the behemoth's limbs. At it's rear end, she was mercifully free of having to worry about it's tusks - but getting kicked was likely to be more than a little bit painful.
That wasn't even counting the Sith rider, who had fallen somewhere nearby, legs entangled in the remains of the harness. Not being able to sense him coming had not stopped making Dyrra more than a little nervous - her customary confidence and love of violence noticeably absent on this particular planet. It wasn't a sensation she'd felt since, well, last time she'd left her home planet.
The behemoth charged at Kairus, feet thundering across the ice and snow, clearly seeking vengeance for the huge slice the Jedi's blade had taken out of it's neck. Kairus was nothing if not cool in the face of the creature's horns - waiting until the last moment and diving out of the way with the kind of speed that was the stock in trade for Dark Jedi. The behemoth, deprived of its prey at the last moment, charged straight into the outer wall of the temple.
The cracking noise echoed around the area, and the beast staggered backwards a little - having broken a horn against the wall. The creature was stunned, and Dyrra charged forwards to capitalise on it's sudden weakness, only to find herself flying forwards at a distressing speed. She hit the wall next to the creature with a thud. Falling on all fours in the snow, she gasped for breath, the wind driven out of her. She cradled her ribs with one arm, hoping against hope that none of them were broken.
The beastmaster had cut himself free of the harness and chosen his moment to rejoin the fight.
Dyrra glimpsed Raistlin and Manji charging straight for the Sith, before realising she had bigger problems herself, as the behemoth swung it's head to face her, clearly no longer dazed from it's collision.
Setsuna jumped clear from the behemoth and landed lightly in the snow. Acrobatics came naturally to the Prelate as she scanned quickly for her target. Finding the large creature, she dashed through the snow, white dust flying in her wake. Having rammed into the wall, the beast was more than enraged now having been deprived of several quick meals. The girl grinned to herself as her feet led her up the tail of the creature.
The young Prelate darted through the spines just as she had in their previous encounter with such a creature. Her saber ignited shortly before being slammed into the thick hide of the beast. It bellowed its rage and ran that much faster towards Dyrra. Setsuna leaned out slightly and saw their destination with an oath so vile that the air around her considered turning blue.
Engaging the lock on her saber, the girl gripped it tight and began to slowly walk between the spines, leaving a large gaping rent through the beasts hide. After what seemed like eternity, the beast slowed its charge as Dyrra managed to lash out against the forelegs of the behemoth, which nearly drove the beast to its knees. Setsuna looked at the blood bursting from the grievous wound on the creatures back. She almost felt a surge of pity for the beast before she drove her blade deep into the gash.
As the girl’s hand became covered in blood, she rocked her blade side to side in search of the beast’s spine.
Alex was surprised that the distraction had worked as well as it had. But often it was just that little opening one would need.
Setsuna continued to rock her black back and forth when the beast let out a thundering roar. It launched itself up as if trying to dislodge Setsuna, or bring its front hoofs down on Dyraa. . With the most of it weight on its hind legs the assassin found her mark. The hide legs buckled, and the beast hit the ground hard. As the beast hit the ground Setsuna easily landed on the ground and rolled to avoid any injury. The tried to stand and turn toward the assassin, but was unable. As the lifeblood flowed from the gaping wound on the beast it slowly lost all strength. Moments later it lay in a large pool of it's blood lifeless.
As the beast died, Malik and Manji could almost fell the rage from the Sith as if he was somehow connected to the beast. They took the moment to both strike with the force. The blast found there mark and the Sith stumbled. Kairus took the moment to leap at the Sith with his saber raised over his head in both hands. Just as he was about to strike the Sith was able to bring his own saber up into a defensive position. The power from Kairus's strike was greater then the Sith expected, and Kairus landed a glancing blow on the Sith. As the blow landed the Sith stuck with the force sending Kairus tumbling away from him.
Kairus crashed into the floor hard, but the Puppeteer was already moving, crimson saber arcing through the air. He moved with frightening grace and precision, channeling no style that Raist, Manji or Malik had seen before. They fell back with the ease of many years of practice in the arts of war, sabers flashing to bat away the strikes of the One Sith. He pursued voraciously, his teeth bared, his eyes flashing with hatred.
Manji felt his blood singing as he stepped into a block with both silver sabers up, meeting the Puppeteer's descending blade. This was what he lived for- locking blades with a new opponent, someone skilled and ferocious, not fighting these karking animals. With a grunt of effort as the Force surged through him, the Pontifex hurled the One Sith backwards as Malik and Raist stepped in, their own sabers arcing through the air. The Puppeteer wasn't strong, but he was swift- almost inhumanly swift, as he danced away from even Raist's strike, the after-touch of the Exarch's viridian saber-staff catching the edge of his robe.
Backpedaling from the three Sadowans, the Puppeteer let a snarl twitch across his face. His fingers went out towards the icy wall nearby and then yanked back towards the three of them in a gesture they could all recognise. Their feet moved without thought as cracks instantly burst across the wall and huge chunks of primal ice broke free, flying at high speed towards them.
Manji's feet carried him forwards, towards the Puppeteer. The Dark Side blasted outwards through his legs, hurling him up into the air in a Force-assisted leap that lifted him over the Puppeteer. His blades smashed down on the One Sith's guard, driving the crimson saber down towards the ground. However, as the Pontifex exulted in his dominance, the Puppeteer moved into action.
His saber, in a snakelike move, slipped out from underneath the overbearing power of Manji's twin blades and stabbed forwards into the Keibatsu's shoulder, withdrawing before the shock of the injury could even register on Manji's face. The sizzle of cooking flesh wafted into the air as Manji let out a grunting snarl of pain, the grin on his face twisting into a look of black hatred. His good eye met the twin, yellowing eyes of the Puppeteer as the One Sith chuckled darkly, deep in his throat.
Raistlin shook his head as he slowly circled his current foe. He lived for this, and hoped that the rest of the One Sith would prove as arduous a challenge. As Manji reeled back, clutching at his wound, the Exarch stepped up, coming between the Krath and the One Sith menace. While Dyrra and the rest had their hands full, Raistlin could only hope they could continue to hold off the Sith monstrosities long enough for them to defeat their nemesis.
"Can you count sucker?" Raist asked, drawing his right hand to show his Sadowan brethren for dramatic effect. His left hand ignited the second half of his saber, the two glowing green beams of light cast eerie shadows, and made the Puppeteer's eyes glow all the more menacingly. "Outnumbered, and outmatched. If you are what the One Sith has to offer then WE.." he paused emphasizing the word and letting it hang before continuing, "are the TRUE heirs to the galaxy. This planet is ours by RIGHT... because it's all... our... turf." Raist said finishing. His One Sith adversary said nothing and clearly didn't appreciate the Exarch's flair for dramatics.
Raistlin screamed and charged, bringing his twin-bladed lightsaber up high above his head as he closed the distance rapidly. He swung, and as the Puppeteer parried, Raistlin twirled his blade behind his back and flipped in the air sideways. He used the Force to power his acrobatic maneuver, and even Malik, who had seen him fight hundreds of times, saw his jaw drop as he witnessed the 6'2 Human effortlessly vault over the taller foe. The Puppeteer brought his weapon up high to counter the incoming blows and only narrowly avoided being decapitated as Raist deftly contorted midair to land behind him.
In a moment, Nfolgai flashed before Raist's eyes and the emotions that came with it came roaring back. The overwhelming feeling of defeat, the sting of victory snatched at the last moment, and the realization that despite their best efforts, Naga Sadow had failed and lost to a group of jokers. Clowns. Amateurs at BEST. This time, there would be no question. The Council had granted them the perfect target. The plan, intelligence and execution had been far from flawless, yet here they stood, on the precipice of victory once more.
This time, there would be... NO..... QUESTION.
Raistlin began to unleash a flurry of blows, each becoming faster as they struck in rapid succession. The Exarch began to build momentum, and his hands started to become a blur. The One Sith's eyes narrowed to yellow slits, almost like a Cathar as he began to struggle to keep up with the parries. Raist went faster, pressing the advantage and building to what he hoped would be a shattering crescendo. The Exarch already felt it beginning to fade, almost as quickly as it came. He suddenly stopped, swinging the lower half of his saber at his opponent's knees, to which he jumped. Raist immediately capitalized, and with the last bit of Force energy he could muster he jumped as well. The two met gazes midair, and the last thing the One Sith would see was Raist smiling as the Exarch's saber swung right through his head. It cut with such power that as the head detached from the body, it fell several feet away and bounced twice before a geyser of blood squirted from the recently deceased Puppeteer's neck.
The Exarch dropped to the ground and immediately fell to one knee. He would need some time to recuperate, and Raist felt as if he had been hit with a sack of duracrete bricks. He reached out and grabbed the One Sith's black saber, which immediately felt ice cold to the touch. Though their rival had been defeated, the behemoths remained, and for the moment, Raistlin could not deal with them. He only hoped the others could.
Khar Delba Surface
A surge of energy renewed Kairus as he drew in the death of the puppeteer. Looking at the mad eyes of the decapitated head he silently bid the Sith a farewell to his own personal hell. He snapped back to his senses when he realized, although the strings were no longer being pulled, the behemoths they had engaged were still fighting. Much to his relief the ones the rider had not yet sent to kill the team were not actively seeking targets. They appeared to be much more defensive, and hoping to scare them off the assassin aimed a Force blast which caused an eruption of ice a couple yards away from the beasts. Relieved he watched as the nearest one reared up frightened which startled the others who turned and ran in the opposite direction.
The remaining trio of beasts were much less coordinated without their controller. Instead of cold, calculated attacks, they appeared much more dominant, even territorial. A simple strategy came to the Obelisk which he was sure would take one of the creatures out for good. He ran to the closest beast which was being assaulted by Dyrra and Setsuna. Getting in front of it he began waving his lightsaber in front of the giant and sending Force pushes at its head to anger it. “What the frak are you doing”, someone yelled, but the Templar couldn’t look back to see who had said it as his tactic had finally worked.
Kairus thanked the Force as he allowed it to help him barely keep out of the leg span of the hulking behemoth. He had to alter his course slightly to align himself with his target, the side of another behemoth. The angry creature following him kept pursuing, unaware of its predicament. “A few more yards”, Kairus pleaded as his force usage began to sap him. “Gotcha”, he exclaimed loudly as he passed under the second behemoth, making sure to run a little longer for the oncoming collision. The charging behemoth’s momentum was too great coupled with the icy terrain, the two monsters collided with a sickening thud/crunch. The charging behemoth was lying in the snow, alive but obviously dazed. The second was not as fortunate, the impact had definitely ruptured its internals. Kairus let himself fall to the ground to catch his breath. “One dead, one down, one to go”, he said in gasping breaths.
The third behemoth came stampeding at Raist, who was still on one knee trying to regain his energy. Malik reached out to the behemoths mind with the force trying to control it, luckily due to the beast having been controlled for so long by the Puppeteer it was easy to assume control of it and he managed to make it avoid running down the kneeling Exarch.
The beast stopped and the Neti jumped on to the back of it and ordered it to charge the last of the behemoths. The behemoth, while still dazed, turned its attention to this new threat and lumbered towards it. Luckily for Malik the two behemoths weren’t far enough from each other to gather much speed as they charged each other, otherwise he would have been sent flying through the air as the two beasts rammed into each other and started swinging their heads at each other trying to land a lethal blow with either tusks or horns.
After nearly getting hit by a tusk again the Warlord leapt from the behemoths back and landed behind the opposing beast igniting his lightsabers, “You can be my wingman any time,” he said to the controlled behemoth. He was joined by Kairus, Setsuna and Dyrra who immediately attacked the hulking creature in front of them their lightsabers biting into its hind legs. Malik ran underneath the beasts gut and cut into it with both his sabers causing the behemoth to roar in agony. Setsuna jumped onto its back and proceeded to slash at it with her lightsaber.
The Sadowans were getting tired. Their saber strokes were less crisp, and the Force blasts were few and far between as every bit of the Force their tired minds could seize was being pushed into keeping their aching muscles moving. Thankfully, the final behemoth wasn't exactly in good shape. Seperated from its herd, no longer puppeted, the war beast was confused, alone, and had an assassin riding on its back.
It wasn't really a recipe for survival.
Setsuna drove her blade into its back, as she had the previous two, expertly avoiding the thick armoured plate on its back while Kairus hamstrung it. Every time the Sadowans sank their lightsaber blades into the behemoth, a little more of its life ebbed away. Slowly, eventually, the great beast was brought down, to fall with a great shuddering cry on the icy tundra beneath it.
Finally, the exhausted group of Dark Jedi had a moment to catch their breath. Dyrra forced glacial air into her lungs, wincing with each breath. Her ribs ached as she tried to call on the Force and knit the bones back together. She glanced over and saw Malik helping a spent Raistlin to his feet, while Manji stomped over, clutching the hole in his shoulder.
"On your feet, apprentice," he grumbled as he passed her. "Look lively."
"Easy for you to say, Dyrra growled in response, her arms wrapped around her tender ribcage. Manji chose not to dignify her comment with a response and stomped away to round up the others.
Raistlin slowly stood and unclipped a a container on his belt. The Exarch pressed a button and his visor retracted. Though he was battered, they had been victorious, his team had managed to secure the base of the temple of Naga Sadow. Elated, the team ran up the stairs as Dyrra kicked the doors open and what few One Sith were mulling around were quickly finished off by the unstoppable force. Raist lit a cigarra and took a long drag off of it, exhaling a massive cloud of smoke as his team began to relax. Manji slumped into a corner as Dyrra tended to him. Setsuna and Alex began to wander off and Raist stopped them.
"Remember... this is because of us! Our brethren will never forget the day that we secured the Temple of Naga Sadow in the name of our Overlord. Setsuna, see if you and Kairus can't finish clearing the temple out. Alex, Malik, get us comms to the rest of the fleet. Let the rest of the Clan's forces know to rally on our position here. I'm going to secure the perimiter." Raist said before striding back outside the temple. The wind had died down, and he paused for a moment, allowing himself to enjoy the victory, his cigarra, and the moment.
It had been a LONG journey, and the past few days had been incredibly arduous, yet they had persevered. A task that he thought he could handle alone would have proven impossible without the help of his team. As he pondered his good fortune, the night sky begin to light up with points of light, and the comm in his ear crackled to life.
"...lin Raist you there?" Elia's voice crackled in his ear.
"You don't sound disapointed." Raist mused, his mood lightened considerably with the recent victory.
"Relieved more then anything." she quickly retorted before continuing. "I'm here with the rest of the fleet, ground troops will be at your position in an hour. Do you have exfil coordinates?" She asked.
"Negative, no exfil for me. Manji is wounded and might possibly require extraction, the rest of the team I'm making it optional. I'm not leaving until this is finished." Raist muttered back, fully intending to finish what had been started.
"I knew you'd say that," she answered back. "We'll be in orbit if you need us. Elia out." As the communication severed, Raistlin took one last drag before flicking his cigarra into the wind, which quickly took it away. Soon his brothers would join him and they would realize the enormity of the accomplishment that Raist and the others had achieved. It would inspire them and drive them towards victory at any cost. That fervor would mean the difference between success and failure.
And they would not fail... not this time. Raistlin would see to that.
"For Sadow," Raist muttered before activating the visor on his helmet, and running down the stairs to secure the LZ for his clan.
Setsuna nodded briefly at Raistlin. She didn’t know the man, but if the others were willing to listen, she would do just the same. The girl prowled through the temple being nothing more than a ghost. She made little noise as her footfalls echoed only enough for her to hear.
Stepping to one of the corners, Setsuna peeked around the corner and spotted a small complement of guards left to ensure that the Sadowans did not manage to do exactly what they were about to do. A soft, sadistic smile crept onto her lips.
The Prelate closed her eyes and focused on one of the men. Tendrils of the Force crept from her and began to take seat in the guard’s mind. After a few moments, a light sheen of sweat appeared on Setsuna’s brow from the sheer concentration.
Suddenly the area just down the corridor exploded into action as the guard was dominated by the young Assassin. She continued to hold her grip on his mind as shots from his weapon echoed through the halls. After a few moments, the hallway fell silent as the dominated guard collapsed from the wounds he had suffered from his own ‘friends’.
Setsuna stepped into the hallways to admire her handiwork as Kairus came running down the hallway.
“I hea...never mind.” the Quaestor said softly. “So, I guess the drinks are on me this time?”
The Assassin looked over her shoulder at him with a lazy, predatory smile. “Aren’t they usually?”
The two headed in the direction of the main ante chamber looking forward to claiming their prize for their Clan. She felt weary from the exertion of the Force, but she would be able to rest soon. Just a little further to go.