Team Ughfinewhatever: House Taldryan
Team Ughfinewhatever consists of:
DJM Pandala D. Howlader, #10279
OE Chaosrain Taldrya, #3931
OE Tarax Eosphoros Taldrya Kor, #3239
SBM Anubis Annedu, #9056
OT Kazmir Natas, #10416
PRT Markus Krane, #13455
It has been a long and nigh uncomfortable journey.
For four full days Tarax and his troupe have trekked through Rhelg's wretched and unforgiving terrain to get to their destination, Ludo Kressh's ancient fortress. What seemed like an unfavourable mission to begin with quickly became outright despised as the Exarch's team was attacked by adversaries marked with Black Sun insignia.
And then there was the snow. So much frakking snow. This cursed planet must've been Hoth's long-lost twin, separated at birth. The constant, non-stop blizzard made the cold temperatures almost unbearable; Tarax's half-metallic torso kept aching with uncontrollable pain, no matter how hard he tried to soothe it with the Force. The ridiculous amount of layers of thermal clothing didn't seem to alleviate the chill whipped around by the heavy winds.
If we don't reach this fraktard fortress soon, thought the cyborg, I'm going to kill something. A lot of somethings.
Behind him a voice shouted "Tarax! Stop!" He was beginning to hate that voice. He turned around to see his team mates trailing through the path in the snow behind him; Chaosrain, a fellow Taldrya, was waving at him to get his attention. Behind Chaos the rest of their group finally caught up: Howlader, the Dark Jedi Master of the bunch; Anubis Annedu, the armoured Battlemaster; Kazmir Natas, the young Templar; Markus Krane, Tarax's Zabrak apprentice.
Every single one of them was beginning to get on Tarax's nerves. Grinding his teeth in frustration, he walked back to Chaos to see what the commotion was about. "What is it?" he asked with a slight edge in his voice.
The fellow Exarch gave Tarax a cool glance before responding, "The map given to us by the Dark Council shows that the fortress is just around the next hill, barely more than a klick away." He tapped the datapad to zoom in on their location.
"So what's the issue? Why are we stopping?" asked Tarax, annoyance creeping into his voice. "We're stopping because your apprentice and old Howie need a break; we don't know what we'll face when we get to the fortress, so let's regain our strength before moving onward." Chaos replied flatly.
"Ugh. Fine, whatever. Just make it quick." snapped Tarax as he dropped his supply kit to the ground and thought Sithtits help me, this will be a long mission.
4 day earlier
“What is it, Tarax?”
“We have a mission. And before you ask, I volunteered you.” Tarax continued. Tarax hurried his speech in an effort to prevent his fellow Exarch from arguing. “The first part of the mission is easy. We have to collect some members to our group. You need to convince one of them; I’ll do the rest. It’ll be very simple for you. You should be happy.”
“Enough.” Chaos said cutting off his fellow Taldrya. Chaos began pacing the room while deliberating what he'd been told. With a sigh Chaos asked, “Who do I have to convince?”
“Oh, go screw yourself. You said this would be easy!” Chaos shouted as he turned to face his fellow Taldrya. To his surprise, Tarax was no where to be found. “Ugh, fine. Whatever!” Chaos said as he shook his head and sighed. It was time to formulate a plan.
“No.” Howlader said flatly.
“You don’t want the beer? I find that shocking, and slightly insulting. I got it just for you.”
“Don’t you worry, that'll be gone faster than you can blink, but I'm not going on any mission.”
“But that’s not how bribes work. If you take the bribe, you have to do me a favor.”
“Tough.” the Dark Jedi Master said as he drank.
The two “Old Folks” sat and drank while Chaos worked his verbal magic on Howie. After another drink, the Master had come around. Howie was enjoying his latest drink; the first one hadn’t quite tasted right. Before long the DJM was face down on the table; a vast majority of his fourth drink sat in its glass.
After draping Howlader over his shower, Chaos gave Tarax a ring.
“I got him.” said Chaos.
“Really? You convinced Howie?” Tarax asked, with a small tone of shock in his voice.
“You could say that. But you should definitely get the ship ready. And fast. I don’t know how long he’ll stay 'convinced.'” replied the former Consul, as he dragged the old Chancellor along. After a short while, the two dark Jedi made it to the ship to meet with the rest of their group. Not long after take off the Dark Jedi Master awoke in a new location. This did not please him.
Howlader’s feet ached, his back was sore and he was tired – so tired. This is the longest he had been without a chair or a bed in decades, not since field exercises at the Academy all those years before. Stomping around on secret missions on some forsaken world was a task for the young – not for a Sith Master of his advanced age. "I’m too old for this," he muttered, "there’s not even a place to hold my drink – if I had a drink. Could we not have used some of the speeders from the army? It’s not like they’re using all of them," Howlader’s complaints continued.
"This is why I don’t leave the ship!" Howlader shouted in the direction of the others, especially at Chaosrain and Tarax Kor – the architects of Howlader’s aches and pains. "Explain to me again why I’m even on this rock? Hauling my ass, or more particularly - Chaos is carrying my ass, across this infernal cold landscape when I could have just waited on the ship?"
Tarax Kor, the expedition’s leader growled, "We needed a heavy hitter, and all the other masters were busy on other operations. It’s not like you were my first choice – but I had to make the best of the situation."
Howlader was resigned. "Ugh. Fine, whatever! How much further, anyway?"
"I just said…" Tarax responded with a sigh, "just over the next hill, Howie. Less than a klick."
Howlader’s ears perked up for a moment. "Then Howie can sleep?" he asked with tired desperation.
"No. Then the real work begins."
Kazmir gazed into the distance. Absent from the world around him as he drew back into himself. Desperately trying to focus on the Force to keep warm, his thoughts carried him home.
Karufr is nice this time of year. What’s with this council and their fetish for barren rocks in space. First Krayiss Two, now this ball of ice. Should’ve bailed when the summit informed us we were going on this stupid Crusade.
Howlader was moaning that he’d rather have been sitting in a climate-controlled ship. Markus Krane, a fresh recruit from the Shadow Academy, was desperately trying to center himself in the Force to stop his limbs from falling off due to the worsening weather conditions.
The Templar snapped back into the physical world when Tarax raised his voice at him. Kazmir could barely make out what the Exarch was shouting due to the howling winds screaming in his ears.
“Echani, I hate to say it, but you seem to have the least problems with this frakking weather. Go scout on ahead for any defenses that might slow us down and report back to me. I heard Benevolent worked on those fancy cybernetic eyes of yours, might as well give them a test run. And please, don’t get yourself killed. We might need you later on.”
“Ugh. Fine, whatever.” Kazmir sighed. The words had been dropped so frequently the past days that they had become the official team motto.
Tarax’s face had become a cocktail of blank staring and sheer annoyance. Kazmir merely responded with a close-eyed grin before rising to his feet. The cracking sound of snow drowned out the howl of the blizzard winds. He gazed around before setting off in the direction they had been hiking toward for the past few hours.
Markus Krane was the picture of irritation and paranoia. Being the last in line in this trek, any trek for that matter, made him nervous. He couldn’t see a damn thing in this blizzard. He was worried that if he got too far behind, he would lose the group. Every fifteen steps he would check his weapons. Since he had no lightsaber, Markus had brought along a few of his own weapons. A small blaster pistol sat in a holster around his thigh. An assault blaster of his own design hung from a strap over his shoulder. He continued to check the weapons to make sure they didn’t freeze, even though he had designed them specifically for this mission.
“Krane!” His master, Tarax called back to him over the howling winds of the blizzard. “Get your ass moving! This is the last time we’re stopping. We don’t have that much farther to go. The Fortress is just over the next hill. Hurry it up!”
“Ugh. Fine, whatever.” Markus muttered to himself. He looked behind himself nervously. He picked up his pace and was soon standing along with the others. He noticed Howie had all but fallen into the snow in exhaustion.
“You ok Howie?” He asked,
“I’m fine Markus, These old bones just can’t handle the hard crap like they used to.” Howie replied. “I just need a little break, maybe a short nap.”
“Well, you better enjoy it old man.” Tarax snapped, obviously annoyed. “Cause as soon as we get over the hill, there won’t be any time for rest. We have a mission to do, and no tired ass old man is going to get in the way of it.”
Well thought Krane. This can only get better….hopefully. He looked around nervously and checked his weapons again.
Anubis looked down at Howie, the Dark Jedi Master face down in the snow. Half his black armour was completely covered in sheer white ice, the other half blasted with snow - only the face plate was still black, partly because Annedu had been cleaning it every now and then and the heat from the computer systems inside his helmet had been keeping him plenty warm. His bodyglove was almost stiff, just barely keeping the cold at bay. Still, the large snowdrifts and blasted winds had made the trip horrendous for him, often causing him to cringe at what the others might have been going through.
The rest of the group stopped, allowing everyone time to rest up. Tarax was anxious, and Annedu didn't need Kinetic Communication to determine that. It was clear that he had not wanted to accept this mission; hell, none of them did. Who wanted to walk around some barren ice ball in five foot snow drifts? Not this guy. Curse that Ashen, the Old Folks' Home thought to himself. The Sith had plenty of love for his former master, Ashen's wife, but this was getting ridiculous. Why not put them on a lush and green planet for once.
As the Battlemaster snapped back in to reality, he could hear the voices of the other's calling him to get his ass in gear and start moving. They already had a head start, more than seven meters apart. Not being one to fall behind, the Inquisitor began moving.
"Ugh... Fine, whatever" were the only words out of Annedu's mouth as Tarax rhymed off their plan.
"What, you have something better? Please, do tell Anubis. You're the Sith, I thought you people were good at strategy." Tarax was fuming. He was sick of this work, he was sick of these people, he just wanted to get this over with and get back to Karufr where he could enjoy a nice big drink. His metallic parts killed, and after this mission he'd be visiting a nice warm sauna.
"No, I don't.. I just don't know if that effective," came Annedu's reply, the man crossing his arms. He truly had no idea if Tarax's plan would work or not. Kazmir had returned, his cybernetic eyes having scouted the defenses of Kressh's fortress. Ben had done a fantastic job. After several minutes of intense conversation between the group on their course of action, all five turned to stare at the looming black fortress ahead.
"Lets get going, before they spot us," begun Chaos. "Any moron with a thermal scanner could pick us up out here." The group had stopped on the crest of the hill, fortress just in view. It was true, the cold winds made their warm body temperatures stick out like a bull in a china shop. The five Taldryans began their trek down the hill towards the fortress, preparing themselves for the battle they knew lay ahead.
The weather and the hills' shape made traversing the slope a slow process. Tarax led the way; his will and agitation pushing him forward. The others followed behind the Exarch; the path he cut made their journey down a bit easier. Chaos followed the footsteps until he got to their creator. He found the other Exarch staring up at a majestic fortress. Soon, the group had reassembled outside the temple. They were excited to get into this temple and out of this sub-zero hell.
Entering the fortress was an experience unmatched in intensity. An unseen wave washed over the group. The wave revitalized each member; washing away the aches, and weariness that four days of trudging through snow had imparted on them. Next, the chill that encompassed their beings, and defined their existence for the entirety of the mission, melted away. Then a feeling of pure power sank into their bones.
Having the bitter cold melt away freed their bodies, but not their minds. The wintery hell they had just traversed was the unifying obstacle the group united against during the first part of the mission. The bitter cold had led to bitter feelings throughout their trek. Innocuous actions were exaggerated into much larger slights. Each person’s agitation with the rest of group had piled high, much like the snow they fought through. Now that they had overcome the frozen wasteland, all the things that had bothered them began to boil with in each person.
Now that their common enemy had melted away, a corrupting power had flowed into the empty space. A power to avenge the wrongs they had received during the journey, a power to take this temple in the name of his brotherhood or, perhaps, a power to do both. A power to take all of the glory while removing those who would slight him.
“Take it all for yourself.” a voice whispered. “You’ve earned it. You’ve put up with their shit though this whole ordeal.”
Each of the five men looked as if they were contemplating something.
Howlader sat in his dimly candlelit hovel on Eos, the musty odor of the high-piled medal requests strewn about the office filled the air, while the Chancellor’s eyes darted around the room looking for his favorite stamp and ink pad. Howlader pondered his situation for a moment, and then began to reach out with the force, trying to sense out the location of his prized stamp – and yet it appeared curiously absent. Perhaps the Boy had taken it for repair and had yet to retrieve it? That could not be, his Praetor would never be so impertinent as to take his master’s favorite stamp without permission.
"BOY!" the Chancellor shouted into the darkness, "where is the good denied stamp? Another medal request came in for Arania – and I get no pleasure out of denying it with some two-bit knock-off stamp!"
The Boy was nowhere to be found, "perhaps he is out retrieving the good denied stamp from the shop," Howlader muttered to himself, "no matter – I will move onto the approvals."
Howlader’s eyes scanned the room. No stamps. Something was terribly wrong. The sensed something…
Suddenly, the wooden door to the Chancellor’s office exploded inwards, while five shadowy figures rushed into the office and immediately drew their lightsabers and prepared for combat.
As they drew closer, the Chancellor realized. They had betrayed him.
"Oh! I see how it is!" Howlader shouted at the figures in the office’s foyer, "first you steal away all of my stamps, and now you’re here to finish the job!" Howlader scrambled for his pants and lightsaber and…
Howlader found Chaosrain, Kor, Annedu, Natas, and Krane illuminating the darkness of the fortress with their drawn lightsabers - not just at him but also at each other, ready to strike at any moment. Something had gone wrong. Very wrong.
Krane felt power surge through him as soon as he set foot in the Fortress. His nervous twitch disappeared, and his paranoia faded away. He also felt an urge to break something, several somethings. He was in the middle of looking over his gun again and cursing his eye twitch when he bumped into Anubis.
“Watch it, kid!” Anubis growled angrily. “We’re all just as cold as you are. No need to get pushy.”
“It was an accident.” Krane replied, seemingly more angrily than he meant to. “No need to be a dick.”
“What was that, you little shit?” Anubis backed Krane up to a wall. He wrapped a hand around Krane’s throat and lifted him easily. He drew back his other hand and curled it into a fist.
“How bout I show you a thing or two about respect?” He spat. He started to bring his fist down on Krane, and probably would have if not for the cyborg hand that gripped it.
“Touch my apprentice, and I will paint the walls with your insides.” Tarax growled at Anubis.
Anubis let Krane go. And he slid to the ground panting for breath. He very much wanted to take his rifle and blast Anubis into a thousand tiny pieces. His head swam from lack of oxygen. When his vision cleared, and his head stopped pounding, Krane noticed that everyone was arguing. Tarax and Anubis were in each other’s faces growling curses at each other. Chaos and Kazmir were shouting and waving their arms at each other.
Kazmir felt an icy knot tangle in his stomach. A great weight was pressing down on his chest causing his breath to come in shallow whiffs. Clouds of steam rose from his breath. Rhelg truly was an unforgiving planet. The throbbing at the base of his skull, and a tingling sensation at the back of his throat warned him of imminent danger. Yet the Force told him nothing specific. A blurred sense of danger, an easily overlooked warning that stuff was about to get messy.
When the mixed team of old and new entered the temple, they had all but frozen in place at first. The intricate architecture of the fortress caused a shiver to run down Kazmir’s spine. The air was charged with electricity and howling winds whipped up clouds of dust and smoke. He was sure the others had felt it too, this sudden surge of boundless power. Balling his hands into fists and relaxing them a few times, he was unsure what to make of the entire situation.
Time seemingly slowed to a near halt. Seconds turning into minutes, minutes into hours. The visages of his team members began to warp, twisting into ferocious sneers. The throbbing in his skull became louder, the tempo speeding up until it sounded like a drum of war. Without thought, the Templar reached for his saber, and moments later the mantis hued pillar of power split the air. It was a thought seemingly shared by the rest of the team, and shrieks and hisses of activating sabers drowned out the howling winds.
Tarax and Anubis were still arguing over an incident between the later and Markus, who just happened to be Tarax’ apprentice. Chaos shoved Kazmir back with a fierce push. Howie was looking on, his brow and eyes giving off a confused, if somewhat amused look.
“The frak is your problem, bugslut.” Kazmir’s cyan cybernetics focused exclusively on Chaos.
“What did you call me?!” Chaos’ voice roared throughout the entry hall, the stone walls reflecting the wave of sound.
This doesn’t feel right. We shouldn’t be fighting amongst ourselves.
The tension between companions was quickly broken when Howie diverted their anger towards something else. The elder master had felt presences in the Force, lurking in the shadows beyond.
"ENOUGH!" roared Tarax as his hand wrapped around the girth of his newly-constructed lightsaber hilt. He whipped it out of its holster and activated its pearly white blade as another wave of uncontrolled rage washed over him, persuading him to end the armored Battlemaster's life where he stood.
For his part, Anubis Annedu quickly activated his bronze blade and brought it up against Tarax's own, sparks flying where the two Old Folks' Home's weapons rubbed against each other. Snarling behind his helmet, Anubis drew upon the dark side, let the heightened power flow through him, and sent the bigger Exarch flying across the room into the opposite wall with a loud THUD.
Elsewhere in the Fortress' main hall, Kazmir and Chaosrain were engaged in a fierce lightsaber battle, the light from their green blades casting ghostly shadows as the two Obelisks danced around each other, intent on their opponent's death.
Markus Krane was unsure how to react to the insanity before him, but he was damned sure that he wasn't going to just sit by and let his team destroy themselves. But why not? whispered a voice in his ear. You're right, Markus' thoughts responded they all just need to go away!
Eyeing the hallucinating Dark Jedi Master, Tarax's apprentice let the invasive dark side energy flow through him and charge him up. He raised his hands and let loose a chain of Force Lightening at Howlader, engulfing the older man with an electric cage.
Smoke rising from his body, Howlader looked up at the Journeyman and with a yell that shook every stone in the ancient Fortress shouted "GIVE ME BACK MY WAR CROSS YOU BASTARDS!"
Howlader's rage could be felt throughout the temple, four of his comrades engaged in life threatening battles. Without skipping a beat, the Dark Jedi Master took advantage of the dark power pulsing throughout the area and funneled it into a large, destructive burst of energy. The wave of dark energy blasted outward towards Markus Krane, whose eyes went wide with fear as he encountered an attack he had never experienced. Bracing himself for collision, even with his boost in power the Protector was no match for the onslaught that was unleashed. Careening backwards in the air from the blast, Krane impacted the wall behind him. First the base of his skull, and then his backside.
Falling to his hands and knees, Krane cried out in pain. He was dazed and confused, and yet the Dark Side of the Force still offered clarity to him. Drawing upon the heightened power that he had access to, the Obelisk instantly stemmed his pain and healed the would inflicted to his skull. Slowly climbing to his feet, his untrained mind began to become consumed by the taint of the temple. His eyes half closed, he could feel his consciousness expanding. "Wretched old man," grumbled the cyborg's apprentice, "I will show you to your deathbed."
"We'll see about that, you little punk," called Howlader, moving towards the youngster.
On the grand staircase within the main hall of Kressh's temple, Chaosrain and Kazmir were still engaged in lightsaber combat. The three emerald blades of the two Obelisk clashed, both snarling and hissing as both failed to gain the upper hand. "So this is the power of the Taldrya? Pathetic! I'll sweep you away, you fool!" roared Natas as the dark energy too fueled his combat abilities. Parrying one of the Exarch's strikes, the Taldryan Assassin brought his blade down upon his comrade with intense might. The Dark Side flowed through his veins; his muscles; even his nerves, supercharging him and empowering him as a herald of darkness.
Chaos brought both of his weapons up to block the attack in a classic 'X' form, Kazmir's blow forcing him downward. The Taldrya's stance became lowered, as he fought the increased power of the Knight before him. "Silly child. While this place may have granted you power, it has done nothing to make you smarter. You never fight on a slope." Drawing every available piece of energy within himself, Chaos forced his legs and weapons upwards, causing the Knight to lose his balance and fall backward. He tumbled down the cold stone steps, eventually landing at the bottom bruised and battered. Lifting his head, the form of Chaosrain Taldrya slowly descended the staircase with a sense of pride.
"Why you little!" screeched Tarax, regaining his footing and launching himself towards the Sith that stood before him. A sinister smirk formed beneath the black face plate of the Battlemaster, feeling power surge within him. He brought the bronze blade of his lightsaber up to block the shining silver beam of Adegan energy from his comrade's newly crafted lightsaber hilt, but did not anticipate another move by the Exarch. Kor had brought his lightsaber up to attack, yes, but had also sent a cold fist careening towards the stomach of the Sith. For once, Annedu had failed to anticipate the movements of another.
The cool steel left hand of the Taldrya had hit the Sith square in the gut, knocking the wind out of him and diminishing his defense. Rather than giving the Lorrdian the satisfaction of a quick death, Tarax chose an alternative that would give him immense satisfaction. Bent over and clutching his gut from the powerful punch of his comrade, Annedu's mind raced for a way out of the situation when a swift scissor kick by the Obelisk sent him to the cold stone floor. Stomping into the back of the Battlemaster, Tarax rubbed his foot into the back of the Sith's armour as he scoffed the man.
"I always knew you were a pathetic fool, Annedu. Always. Now that Biask isn't here to save you, I'll do what I should of done a decade ago when you first surfaced in Taldryan."
The six Dark Jedi burst through closed doors in an explosion of debris and splinters. Their rage and anger manipulating their movements like marionettes on a string. Each warrior moved with power and grace fueled by a near limitless supply of the Dark Side.
Engulfed in the blood lust of battle, Tarax unhinged an ornate Tulgah statue and flung it across the chamber at his former allies. Instantly the statue was reduced to rubble as it met with the combined blast of five arcs of force lightning. The battle ebbed and flowed for minutes stretching on to hours before the staccato of combat was interrupted by the manic sound of insane laughter.
Turning in unison the six members of Taldrya gazed upon the lone throne centered within the room. Within the chair rested the ghostly apparition of Ludo Kressh.
"Come, come...you fight like twi'lek whores...."
Without pause, Tarax leapt at the specter resting comfortably on the ornate throne shouting "DON'T YOU CALL MY MOMMA A WHORE!" His white lightsaber crackling with Force energy.
Frustration coloured Kressh's features and with a wave of his hand he sent the cyborg flying backwards at his Taldryan team mates, all of whom parted and allowed Tarax to hit the floor between them with an unceremonious crash.
"This wretched 'One Sith' couldn't take over my Fortress, what makes you think that you pathetic worms can?" rasped Ludo Kressh's spirit mockingly.
For a full second all of the Taldryan warriors stared at the apparition in silence, then with a myriad of battle cries attacked the ancient Sith Lord, throwing Force powers around with crazed insanity; the different colours of their lightsaber blades cast a dazzling display on the fortress' dark walls, bringing the inscriptions on them to life.
"STAMPS!" roared Howlader.
"Who do you think we are, bloody Krath?!" spat Chaosrain Taldrya, hurling Force Lightning at Ludo Kressh; "I love lamp!" echoed Anubis in agreement.
The old Sith Lord kept each of the Taldryan Dark Jedi at bay, deflecting their attacks with minimal effort, his hallowed voice laughing and taunting them as they poured all they had into their attacks.
Amidst the pandemonium between the Sith Lord Force Ghost and his five opponents, a frenzied, unintelligible roar echoed throughout the throne chamber; from behind the group, Tarax ran up and leapt up in the air, his white lightsaber held in both hands and pointed downwards, ready to land a killing blow on his intended target: Ludo Kressh.
The Exarch landed in a crouch in front of the throne and its occupant, his lightsaber stabbing the Sith Lord's specter though its non-corporeal chest and damaging the stone slab behind it.
Ludo Kressh looked down with a smirk; his eyes meeting those of the Taldryan cyborg. No sooner had Tarax’s eyes met Kressh’s glassy voids, the Exarch found himself flying backwards out of control. Some part of the Exarch, deep down, knew he was in trouble; the vast majority of him was raging too much to care. Before he knew it, rubble rained down around the Taldrya as he slammed into an icy hill; pain rushed through him as he slid to the base of the hill.
Howlader’s rage burned bright; a smoldering fire, long thought dead, erupted into a raging torrent within the Dark Jedi Master. This feeling was familiar to him, and yet it felt new. The rage that boiled over inside of him had rekindled a side of Howlader that hadn’t arisen in many a year; the last time it surfaced was before Krane had been born.
“Stamps! And Medals! All mine! My domain! No one touches!” Howlader yelled vehemently as bits of the fortress' wall fell to the ground behind him.
Decades of inattentiveness and laziness had worn the former Chancellor down, but the power that flooded into him; it filled him to the brim with anger. It bolstered the old man; it made him young. The vigor that had left Howlader ages ago, back on Eos, had returned to him half a galaxy away. His brain churned back to life, back into full activity. The anger had filled his, now, over active mind and tainted his thoughts. Every thought was stuck in time. His brain melded the past and present into an anachronistic amalgam only he could understand.
I’m the Chancellor! thought Howlader. Why does that jackass get a chair! Who does he think he is!
“You! Yes you! The spooky jackass with the chair! Where are my stamps?!” screamed Howlader.
“Shut up Howie. No one’s talking about your damn stamps.” spit Chaosrain in contempt.
“Boy.” Howlader yelled as he reached into the Force and grasped the only Exarch still in the room. “Go get my stamps back!” roared the Dark Jedi Master as he threw Taldryan’s former Consul at Kressh's laughing ghost.
Chaosrain Taldrya flew through the air under the power of Howlader’s force throw, and somehow (mid-flight) managed to adjust himself from the flailing grouping of limbs and terror he started in - into an appropriate combat stance with his lightsaber aimed squarely at the spectre of Ludo Kressh, or so he thought. Unfortunately, Howlader’s aim was not as good as it once was - and Chaos (being himself) was unable to compensate. Chaosrain’s lightsaber ended up lodged in the wall - while the Exarch himself crashed into the long dead Jedi’s throne.
"Damn," Howlader muttered, "I need to work on my aim. Sorry Boy!"
"Howie! You jackass!" Chaosrain began, "you missed the damned ghost! Why in the hell can’t you…" the Exarch suddenly trailed off, noticing that the glowing shape of Kressh looked less complete and more transparent than it had before. It was as if the wind had been knocked out of the spectre, "Howie, you magnificent fool, the chair! The source of the power is in the…"
Chaosrain’s explanation was interrupted by his sounds of distress as he once again flew across the throne chamber – not of his own accord. "Yes. The throne is the source of my power. Well done - and you will never get close to it again" Ludo Kressh taunted the members of Taldryan.
"Like hell we won’t!" Annedu screamed from the rear of the chamber, "we are Taldryan - and we will fuck you up."
"Necrophilia. Lovely. Your personal failings will be your undoing - and that is why I will never be defeated," Kressh taunted them.
"Pithy retort, Kressh. That’s the best you can come up after thousands of years of practice?" Kor mocked, returning seemingly from nowhere, joined by the remaining members of the expedition.
Krane’s head hurt. After Howie had thrown him against the wall he had used his newfound power to stem the pain, but it was still there. He was enjoying this though. Whatever was in this fortress gave him powers he had never known about. He used these powers to defend himself when the old ass man/ghost up on the throne had attacked them. He watched somewhat delightedly when Chaos and Tarax flew over his head and hit the wall behind him.
When he heard Chaos shout that the chair was the ghost source of ability, he had jumped at the chance to use a new setting on his gun. He flicked the switch and held down the trigger, he felt the gun heat up in his hands and was about to release a blast at the ghost when a frantic Howlader charged into him, which threw off his aim and sent the shot spinning into a wall.
“Give me back my goddamn stamps!” Howie screamed in his face.
“Get the fuck off me old man!” Krane screamed back and used the force to push Howlader off him.
“Will you two girls get up and help us?” Kazmir asked sarcastically. “If you hadn’t noticed, we have an asshole of a ghost to fight. And you two squabbling at each other doesn’t help.”
“You fools, you really don’t realize that no matter what you try, you will never touch this chair again.” Kressh taunted. “You should really just give up.”
“Fuck that!” Yelled Anubis. “I’d rather kick your ass than give up and cry like a twilek.”
"Maybe not even a Twi'lek. Have you been listening to Howie? All he does is bitch about those stupid stamps. NEWS FLASH HOWLADER! NO ONE GIVES A FUCK!" With renewed resolve, Annedu once again rushed the throne. It seems that the other five had the same idea, all rushing in. It was a fruitless endevour, as Kressh whipped them away with telekinesis. With each Taldryan mumbling and grumbling, Kressh's laughter continued to fill the chamber.
"And this is why none of you will ever feel the true power of the Dark Side. Why none of you will ever become lords of the Sith. You're pathetic. Naga Sadow put up more of a fight in his sleep," Kressh's ghostly form had a widespread grin, as he continued to play with his new toys. With the realization that this battle could not be won from simply rushing Kressh and the stone throne he sat upon, Annedu devised another plan.
Unholstering the KD-30 Dissuader slugthrower pistol from his left hip, the Sith took a quick gaze around the room and called out "Howie, catch!" before throwing the weapon to him. Shifting his gaze over to his fellow Taldryan, the Dark Jedi Master extended a hand and easy caught the weapon, giving the Lorrdian a puzzled 'what do you expect me to do with this?' look.
Shaking his head, the Sith turned back towards Kressh and drew the other KD-30 from his right hip holster and began unloading into the thrown while Kressh was occupied with his team mates. Six shot rang out in rapid succession, colliding with the throne. As each round impacted it delivered it's acid payload, which slowly began to eat away at the stone. Kressh snarled, realizing what was transpiring as his form dimmed slightly.
Grappling the Battlemaster in a telekinetic grip, the Dark Lord raised him off the ground and tossed him into a wall. Instantly, Howie was aware of what he needed to do.
Pillars of vile green vapor snaked towards the ceiling as the acidic properties of the rounds ate their way through the stone throne. With the spiritual anchor of Kressh damaged, the specter let out a bone chilling howl.
“Damn you, you cursed wannabe Sith.” The specter’s voice sounded vague and distant. The assault by Anubis clearly had more of an impact than any of the Taldryan could have hoped for.
Tarax’s voice boomed from behind Kazmir. “Old man! Shoot those damn rounds! Now!” Howie shot Kor an angry gaze that would have been able to kill the Exarch before roaring “JESUS CHRIST FINE! JUST SHUT UP BOY!”
Clumsily aiming for the throne, the elderly chancellor started to pull the trigger of the KD-30. The loud booms of the pistol firing drowned out the hisses and shrieks of Kressh who, in order to keep himself anchored to this world, let out a storm of cold fire. The acidic rounds exploded as the lightning super-heated them, causing them to burst and spray their contents all over the throne room. Krane and Kazmir, while having a tremendous boost in their powers still lacked the understanding to wield them fully, were caught in the violent purple and blue storm of bolts.
The caustic contents of the slugs burned holes and craters in the stone walls and flooring. The sharp sizzling sound being drowned out my Kressh’s unnatural howls that would haveve been called laughter.
“You kids really are idiots if you think you can defeat a Dark Lord of the Sith this easily”
“Oh yeah? Last I heard, Sadow was the official Dark Lord of the Sith. Makes you a failure, doesn’t it ?!” Chaos shouted.
The Exarch's cocky shout was ill advised; a fact he came to understand while his upper body was imbedded into the ceiling. Thankfully enough, the ceiling provided the former Consul of Taldryan a dark, calm location where just enough air could squeeze around his body so he didn't suffocate. The rage the Exarch had been feeling continued to give him power; however, the fortresses stone ceiling didn't give two shits. The trapped man thrashed about, but only succeeded in flailing his legs about like a buffoon.
Slivers of rubble fell to the floor, but only Kressh seemed to notice. Everyone else's attention was focused on the growing divots being eaten into the fortresses floor and walls. A smirk had returned to the apparition's hollow visage. He quite enjoyed how foolish these lesser beings could act. He enjoyed taunting them; he enjoyed tainting their minds, as well. This band of Dark Jedi had waltzed into his fortress, as if asking to be played with; and he obliged. He obliged with gusto. He enjoyed permeating each of their beings with his madness. He had expected them to break completely, but they had not. They were shaken, battered, and bruised; but to the surprise of the spectral Sith Lord, they were not beaten. Not yet, at least; not if he had anything to do about it.
With a wave of his hand, Kressh unleashed a vicious shock wave onto the group. Krane and Kazmir tried to resist the blast, but were unable to keep their feet on the ground. Tarax, Howlader, and Anubis were pushed back a ways, but were able to keep their footing. Chaosrain deftly dodged the blast by continuing to be stuck in the ceiling. The Force Ghost smiled to himself, and began to speak.
"I would wish you good luck in what's about to come, but it would do you no good," the Sith Lord said with a sadistic grin.
The fortress began to rumble and shake as slivering clouds of dust trailed down from the cracks in the ceiling. The stench of melting stone and vile acids clogged up the nostrils of everyone in the room. Rising to their feet with awkward, hampering motions; the two youngest heads of the team were visibly nearing the end of their strengths. Grasping his saber, the young Templar reactivated it’s emerald green blade. He then hard-headedly rejoined the others in what would be their last stand against an overwhelming, intangible, form-given will of the Dark Side of the Force.
Krane, being far less athletic and physically trained, took a while longer to recompose himself. But with his blaster drawn, he too rejoined the band that would have to fight against all odds to survive, let stand dominate the upcoming battle.
Chaos, still stubbornly pressing himself against the ceiling by ways of the Force, carefully monitored the entire situation from above. Usually the Son of Taldryan had a knack for spreading malice and bad luck in his immediate vicinity, yet somehow, not much had happened around him today. It was as much a blessing as a curse, and in their current situation, a bit of bad luck might actually work to their advantage.
Howie, standing with his back arched forward, and his old-man yellowing teeth barred at the specter merely growled like a savage, wild beast. Kazmir pondered how ferocious the master might have been in his youthful prime. The man’s silver blade hummed in resonance with those of Anubis and Tarax, their sabers left an impression of blood lust in the Force, yet they provided poor weaponry when it came to fighting ghosts.
Howlader’s back ached, he had not seen this much physical combat in decades – this lightsaber combat – especially with a Force Ghost of all things - truly was a young man’s game and he was too old for this shit. The old Chancellor pondered how he had gotten here – and how he would extricate himself from this seemingly impossible situation. The first step was dealing with the man who made this whole death defying clusterfuck of a mission possible. Howlader reached out with the Force, pulled Chaosrain Taldrya from the apparent safety of the ceiling, and flung him towards the ground.
“You’re not getting out of the hard work that easy, Chaos,” Howlader snarled as the Exarch came crashing to the ground. Chaos recovered quickly, steadying himself in the combat stance that was so familiar to a battle-hardened Obelisk ready to face the apparition – and quite possibly his death. “So what’s your plan here, Howie? Tossing me about the chamber in the hopes that I hit something important?”
“Not this time. Think fast, assface Sith Lord scum!” As Howlader used what little was left of his strength to Force throw Chaosrain through the chamber towards Ludo Kressh, in hopes of creating a momentary distraction to gain the upper hand – and perhaps an opportunity to put this story to bed by destroying the throne.
Hoping the opportunity would present itself, Howlader gathered what was left of his wits, summoned as much rage as a Master who had spent the last number of years bitterly disappointed at the state of his former home - and charged with all due Force-speed-enhanced haste towards the throne. With lightsaber drawn, he crashed into the throne…
Krane watched as Howie charged the throne. And, with a hint of immature humor, he watched as Howie was clothes lined by the sudden force wall the ghost threw up. But, it seemed that Howie’s idea of a distraction worked, while the Ghost had been focused on Howie and Chaos, he had let his guard down ever so slightly toward the other four Dark Jedi.
Tarax, Kazmir, Annubis, and Krane all rushed the throne, Krane firing his blaster rifle as fast as the trigger would let him. A few of the blasts impacted on the throne, but most of them dissipated in the newly created Force storm the Kressh had conjured up.
All four dark jedi were hurled in the direction they had come. Fruststrated, Tarax desperately tried to come up with a plan on the spot.
“Every goddamn thing we throw at him he literally throws back in our faces!” Tarax yelled in anger as Howie and Chaos flew over his head and hit the ground behind him with a thud and a few curses. Howie’s voice could be heard yelling something about “too old for this shit.”
“I might have an idea.” Kazmir stated. “If we can get someone to sneak a few hits on that throne while the others put on a huge show and dance to try and distract Kressh and keep his force focus occupied, then we might have a chance to kick this guy’s ass.”
“That might work. Tarax replied. “But who’s gonna be the one to take him out?”
"Well obviously, I am. So I can get my fuckin' stamps back" roared Howlader as he launched himself in a fiery rage towards the right side of the throne. Groaning, the other five members of the Taldryan team fought their way towards the left side of Kressh's throne, putting on a huge performance to ensure they would get the spirit's attention. While the Dark Jedi Master had received some on his approach to the throne, by the time he had gotten there Ludo's attention was solely on the other five Taldryan as they assaulted the dark force. They rushed in one after another; when one was tossed back another took their place. This was used to continuously distract Kressh from the Taldryan on the other side of the throne, and what's worse? He fell for it! That fucker fell for it! Anyway, anyway, so Howie's out there doing his thing, all stealthy and the like. As the Dark Jedi Master approached the throne, he was increasingly surprised at how easy a dead Dark Lord couldn't suspect someone would come up behind him. Ripping his lightsaber off his belt, the Sith Master would wait until the last second to activate the weapon.
As Tarax was thrown backwards, Anubis took his place. Flurrying his way towards the Dark Lord, the Sith Battlemaster felt confident in their plan to distract the Sith spirit while someone struck from behind. It worked for Shadow Taldrya all the time. I mean really dude, that's all he does these days. So where was I? Right, right! As Anubis was thrown back just as swiftly as Tarax had been, Krane instantly appeared and was firing off bolts towards the throne. Each member was thrown away, but they never gave up. The Taldryan stuck it out, even though they were clearly outmatched. At the exact moment that each member of the six-man team realized this, Howlader had successfully made it to the throne where Kressh's form sat. Activating the crimson blade of his lightsaber, the Sith rushed the thrown with a wide swing of his blade.
Realizing just what was happening as the blade impacted the throne, the soul of Ludo Kressh expired in a horrific motion as the throne was cut into two by the Chancellor. Each member breathed a sigh of relief. Each had been unsure if they would overcome this enemy, but you know what dude? They overcame the odds. They did it. And they are badass motherfuckers for it! They re-killed a Dark Lord of the Sith! Each Taldryan simply flopped to the floor, exhaling exuberantly. Chaos glared at Tarax, attempting to speak. "I-I-I... am never takin'... a mission from... YOU again!"
The mission was over. They had won. The fortress secure, the evil ghost vanquished, and mission complete. Every member of the semi-Old Folks' Home team could barely stay conscious; not because they were injured, but because they were tired and wanted to go to sleep, especially the old Dark Jedi Master Howlader who couldn't stop muttering about the boy and stamps.
Krane was hugging his blaster rifle and sucking on his thumb, already dreaming of further improvements he could make to his assorted arsenal. Kazmir was streaming pornography through his cybernetic eye, a creepy grin etched onto his face. Anubis would not stop making giggling noises from inside his helmet, something severely affecting his mood.
Chaos was still pissed at Tarax for dragging him along this mission, but as he's prone to failure he completely forgot all of the glory that Taldryan and the Dark Council will throw at them once they report their mission's success. And the bitches; so many bitches!
While everyone was still sleeping off the recent battle, Tarax got up and walked around the now-demolished throne, inspecting its disassembled pieces closely. It was then that he noticed a strange object sticking out of one of the broken stone slabs; it resembled a Holocron, but it wasn't one. Tarax knew it was a vessel of some sort, felt its power, but did not know of its purpose, or if it even had one.
Suddenly, Ludo Kressh's ghost re-formed, a rage-filled shriek escaping its ethereal lips, and it lunged at the tired Exarch. As he jumped in surprise, Tarax rubbed the Holocron-like vessel, and suddenly the Sith Lord's was sucked into the object, forever bound and trapped inside.