Team Paladins: House Scholae Palatinae
The members of Team Paladins are:
OPM Kell Palpatine Dante - 8955
SWL Thran Occasus - 5101
SBM Archangel - 7589
KP Evant Taelyan - 9118
KP Koryn Thraagus - 9761
The hall was alive with the remnants of a forlorn past. The broken pillars and crumbling walls had been restored to their original greatness. The spirits of warriors and the essence of sorcerers breathed life into the cold dead corridors and chambers. Each haunted soul whispered unintelligible secrets and inaudible advice and the room felt alive. His attention stumbled through the muted clamor of ancient ghosts, searching for their words to reach out and grab hold of him. He felt like a stranger, caught in a strange land. It was a magnificent world, distinctly alien in its grandeur.
In the indistinguishable chaos, he could feel a looming sense of death. It hung in the walls as freely as tapestries. At that moment, the ubiquitous snap of a Sith’s weapon appeared at his back. There was no telling who it was. It could have been any one of his agitated compatriots. Their four day journey had been arduous, filled with growing tensions and inflated egos. They had been at each other’s throat long before they had reached the abandoned fortress and once inside the hallowed halls each man felt his ambition swell. He could only hope that it was one of his companions, but fear of the ancient evils imprisoned in this dreadful place compelled him to draw his own blade.
He stood there still as the stone statues tucked away in alcoves and recesses in the wall for a moment, preparing himself to cut down whoever stood behind him. Time slowed to a crawl in that instant and every possible rival appeared in his mind’s eye. When his gaze settled on where the sound originated, neither ancient ghosts, nor Black Sun members stood before him. There was no mysterious figure in a black robe and veiled face. His companions stood there, halting defensively. None had raised arms against him yet.
His mind ran wild and the confused words of the ancient spirits pour from his lips. He mumbled incoherently as the reality of this place settled upon his eyes. He fell from the faded fuzzy haze and an unsettling sobriety came over him. Their voices came through clear as bells, one at a time.
“Oh. Great… Here we go again. More empty thoughts from an empty head.” Archangel said.
“Thran, just put your lightsaber away, so we don’t have to listen to him complain anymore.” Kell replied, annoyedly.
Koryn added his own insight to Thran’s domineering Ego and penchant for flamboyant peacocking of his potential leathality. Evant provided an absolutely clear proclamation of his thoughts. The Warlord stood silently, confused that not one among them had drawn their weapons. He glanced off to the floor, before lowering his weapon and depressing the small activator button.
“And this is a nonsensical riddle of evils older than the light of stars…”Thran said, hearing clearly what he’d said for the first time. He didn’t know what he was talking about.
With his weapon tucked away into his flowing robes, he moved aside and sat down. He opened his pack and gathered his thoughts. His hands fumbled over a canteen, struggling to spin off the cap. His teammates looked at him in shock and they gathered around.
“We stop here for a while. I…just…need a moment. This place is dangerous. I can tell you that for certain. We'll need to prepare for what is waiting deeper inside.” Thran said.
He sat there waiting for a barrage of hot headed words and finger pointing. Something about this place, this mission frightened him. He took a pull of water, contemplating on the implications of his vision. Was it merely a haunting vision of lives past or was there something greater? Was it even the past he was seeing? He couldn’t yet be certain. The only certainty was conflict. There would be no peace in this place. There is no peace.
He watched as the Sith Warlord sat up against the wall, staring hauntingly into his distorted reflection in his canteen. The man had paled visibly, his normally tanned and toned features now a cold and shallow caricature of their former glory. Thran had heard the call from the darkness, the quiet whisperings which had risen like a gale around them, assaulting their senses and their minds. The veil of darkness hung like mist around them, causing an almost greasy feel to the air.
The hall was barren, bar several stone bricks which had become dislodged somehow. The corridor they had entered seemed to run for at least several hundred meters ahead, disappearing into the darkness. Their only light sources inside this castle-made-mausoleum were their wrist-mounted flashlights, or in Archangel’s case, shoulder mounted lanterns. Though their glow was more than sufficient to illuminate their surroundings, the shadows seemed to lengthen and almost attack the intrusive light, diminishing their effectiveness.
Archangel crossed his arms over his chest, and turned away from Thran, his face set in a stony frown. He too had heard the whispers, the ghosts of long dead Sith offering untold riches, glories and victories far surpassing that of the Grand Master himself, and countless other deviations on the theme of dreams of any man, woman and child in the galaxy. Personal glory was a goal which most beings could be corrupted by, or at the very least influenced. Dark Jedi are especially vulnerable to these kinds of offer, their minds already full of dreams of commanding a fleet of Star Destroyers or ruling over the galaxy as the ancient Sith had.
And if they could affect someone with Thran’s power, they would need to be quick and resolute.
“Let’s get moving” he grumbled, his arms falling to his side, armor plates clicking together in a muted ceramic manner. The desire to draw his lightsaber suddenly spiked as his fingers grazed its hilt, and he pulled his hand into a tight fist in response. He closed his eyes for a few long moments, before punching the stone wall, sending a crack through the masonry, but doing little damage to himself.
“What was that for?!” half-shouted Evant, his eyes wide with shock and anger, “You’ve just given away our position! We’ll be surrounded in moments”
Archangel turned to Evant, and flashed him one of his rare smiles.
“Excellent, then we can fight in every direction”
“We are already in a fight in every direction, and the enemy isn’t even upon us.” Thran spoke up to diffuse the situation.
The quintet of Dark Jedi continued down the corridor before reaching another massive chamber of the fortress. Their lights bounced around the ancient corners of the room reflecting haunting shadows off the various statutes that lay before them. Standing in silence they all sought out their next route as beams of light searched the corners.
“Evil older than the light of stars, which of your holodramas is that from?” Archangel broke the silence trying to distract his mind from the temptation of the whispers.
Evant could feel the emotion hanging on Thran beside him at the jab, finding anything but amusement. Normally quick to pick up on the topic of holodramas, in any other place he would have welcomed the distraction, but not here. Fear kept them all alert. Fear of the unknown.
“I also don’t think your dashing good looks, flowing sandy blonde hair and gorgeous green eyes are going to impress anything in this fortress.” Koryn added, hoping to ground Thran in reality of what lay ahead before he got them all killed with more of his grandstanding.
“Will you two shut the hell up? I know you’ve felt the chaos of this place, we aren’t rushing down the corridors into possible traps and anything else waiting for us.” Kell responded, attempting to regain control of the group.
All around him the walls swelled, they seemed to breathe as if alive. The sensation of a thousand foreign voices shouting advice and encouragement filled his mind all at once. It was overwhelming yet invigorating. Evant could sense the dissenting discussion amongst his companions but it felt beneath him.
A large plinth glowed across the room, slowly illuminating before his eyes, catching the Krath’s attention and locking onto his curiosity. Atop it, a large statue of Ludo Kressh unnoticed when he first arrived beckoned to him, drawing him in. Whatever his companions were complaining about could wait. It was as if he was alone in the world with infinite knowledge swelling in his mind with every step.
The ground began to shake as he approached. He held his balance as if unaffected by the turbulence as if existent only in a world beyond his comprehension. With each careful step the great room of statues shone around him in all its former glory. Cracks filled and debris cleared. Sharp clean lines traced every corner of the ancient room from the corner of his eye still glued on the inscription at the base of the statue calling him in.
A great power swelled in his chest as he was within reach of the great statue. He could hear dissenting voices among those flooding his head. Angry voices struggled to find a way through those of encouragement and promises of great secrets and knowledge.
Reaching out, it all was pulled away from him. The sensation of falling filled his frail human body. The ancient voices rushed from his head as if being pulled from water back into reality, quickly replaced by those of his companion’s protests. Unprepared for the rapid change in velocity, the Krath Priest was even less prepared for the impact his body made with the floor as he quickly realized he was only falling because he had been thrown through the air.
A bright emerald flash flooded his vision, the face of Archangel all that he could make out as he struggled with his senses, “…the hell are you an ewok? Drawn to shiny objects?”
“Put away the lightsaber Arch, killing him won’t get us the answers we seek.” Kell demanded, he had an aggressive stance but had not drawn his own blade.
“You might want to put a leash on your Krath here, they can’t help themselves around dusty old ruins.” Archangel deactivated his lightsaber and glared at Evant menacingly as he walked away, “At least now we can get on with the fighting the whole fortress must know we’re here.”
The Priest fought back against the pain of his injuries from the hard landing as Koryn walked over and extended his green reptilian hand, “Are you trying to get us all killed? You were shaking the whole room apart around us.”
A blank look came across his face in response as he was pulled to his feet with a painful wince. Uncertain of what had just transpired. Unsure of what he had just seen, or if it was even real. He felt as if he had never been in a place so foreign, unsure if it was even within his own galaxy.
“Calm yourself,” hissed Koryn firmly, as another quake shook the room. Cracks twisted their way up the stonework like vines sending clouds of dust billowing outwards. The unblinking gaze of the monument to Ludo Kressh watched his fortress deteriorate impassively, and yet the two Krath could hear it yelling its disapproval. The Rodian shook his head to clear his mind and turned away. “Come on. We should keep moving.” He half-pulled Evant away, the human’s eyes still transfixed on Kressh’s likeness.
“Yeah... Yeah, I think you’re right.” His tone was uncharacteristically lazy as though he had just been woken from a dream; perhaps in a manner he had. They followed after the rest of the group as the click-clack of rubble falling from the wall broke the silence of the room. They were stood in a small thoroughfare, four doorways sat at each of the compass points. Aside from one blocked with debris, there was no indication of the path they should take. Without a word, Archangel made his decision and headed west. The rest fell in behind him as they twisted through the citadel.
“Something’s not right,” muttered Kell as they entered what appeared to be a barracks. All of them had felt it but none had vocalised the thought. Five torches scanned across the room looking for anything out of the ordinary. On the far side of the room, they glimpsed it. Rats had swarmed all over it, but there was no mistaking it for anything but a corpse. It was fresh: two days old at most. The scavengers were yet to pick the bones completely clean, and muscle tissue still clung desperately to skeleton. “We’re not alone then,” said the Palpatine with a shrug. A deep guttural roar echoed through the halls, emanating from a nearby room. It was joined by another, and another, until it sounded as though the fortress itself was bellowing at them.
“Trandos,” murmured Koryn as his fingers traced over both his lightsaber and the grip of his pistol. “They’ve probably been tracking us since we arrived. But how did we not sense them, I wonder?”
“They masquerade in the shadows of darkness,” Thran’s lightsaber was grasped in his hand, unlit. His eyes had glazed over once more and his voice took on a monotonous tone as if being spoken through as a conduit. “Souls succumb to corruption that the mind’s eye no longer sees that which is in front of it.” The nonsense continued to pour forth as he thumbed the switch and cast the room in an amber glow that looked as if a great fire were raging. The light startled the rats, which scuttled away letting out frightened squeaks. “The heart of the universe shall be torn asunder, and so will those who stand against us.” Finally, Archangel had heard enough. He barged passed Thran, shoving him hard against the wall and breaking him from his trance-like state. The Battlemaster called his lightsaber to his hand as he closed in on the Trandoshans. Thran stared down at the blade in his hand, his brow furrowing as he pondered how it had got there.
“Thran!” Urged Evant, prompting the Sith to look up. “I said ‘are you alright?’” After a moment, he nodded uncertainly. He slid down the wall until he was seated on the ground still staring at the hilt. Evant reached into the pocket of his robes and pulled out a small rectangular packet. Tearing into it he broke something off and offered it to Thran. “You should eat something.” As he took it, Kell approached and knelt beside him, patting him firmly on the shoulder.
“Don’t freak out on me, eh?” A wry smile was etched on his face, but his eyes betrayed a hint of concern for his Palpatine brother. “Besides, we can’t let Arch have all the fun with those Trandos, can we?”
Darkness took on many meanings within the fortress as the strike force moved deeper into the enemy held base.
Watching Kell kneel beside the skinny Sith, Archangel just shook his head. While Thran could be a powerful ally, it was always a crap shoot on whether the powerful former Emperor would be a hindrance or a help to them on this mission.
The stench of death was pervasive throughout the structure.
Although not as blocked off telepathically as his father was, Kell seemed to be able to control himself compared to Thran and Evant. As a strict adherent to the doctrine of the Obelisk Paladins, the Field Marshal was more interested in becoming a better warrior than the delusions of grandeur that his father’s comrade and his mentor, Thran, held close to his heart.
“See if you two can help each other keep going,” Kell said to Evant as he stood back up and looked in the direction of their destination.
Archangel took point again, and the five members of Scholae Palatinae continued on their mission after Evant managed to drag the still mumbling Thran to his feet.
A narrowing of the chamber was glaringly evident the further that the group moved into the confines of the massive, ancient structure. Thousands of years of history had passed between these walls. Untold horrors had left their Dark Side imprint on the entire area, and the sway of the Dark Side increased the further that they traveled. Soon they would reach the epicenter of the Dark Side, and they would have to continue on with their mission of defeating the One Sith that were on the planet as well as the various other inhabitants and creatures that would be thrown at them.
Suddenly, the advancing force was ambushed by a unit of unruly Trandoshans Dressed in the remnants of well-worn armor, the three thick reptilians jumped into the middle of the group and began attacking.
Ducking the first blow that the nearest mercenary tried to land, Kell rolled to his right and quickly brought up his now lit lightsaber.
Thran, however, was too enthralled in the hidden thoughts that were coming to him faster than he could process to notice the attack. Combat was the furthest thing from his mind at this point. The punch aimed at the former Emperor’s head landed solidly, and the underwear model went flying through the air. Crashing into the wall of the ancient fortress, the Sith’s howls of disgust and pain threatened to overshadow the entire match.
Koryn and Archangel had also managed to ignite their own sabers, and the three armed warriors advanced on the remaining bounty hunters as Evant and Thran tried to pull themselves together enough to join the counter attack.
Evant crouched in the shadows, still unnoticed, his companions under assault. He had rushed to his Warlord companion’s aid despite a ringing in his ears and a piercing headache. Though susceptible to the draw of the voices to satiate his intellect, the Krath was hard pressed to lose control of his mind. Punching walls and falling back on military doctrine couldn’t help. It was a mental fight alone and one that left him helpless in the current assault.
Fortunately there was no need to encourage Thran to join the fight after the cheap hit. More the opposite was true. If the intense howl was not enough, the fiery passion burning deep in the Sith’s eyes reflected pure unbridled rage as he engaged the attacker, overconfident and anxious to finish what he started after scoring the opening hit.
His human form, drunk on the Dark Side, lunged forward directly into an oncoming blow from the mercenary, his small human hand a blur as it landed square with the large clawed reptilian hand. As if a wrecking ball, the fist crushed every bone in the Trandoshan’s hand, continuing its arc as it inflicted further damage dislocating the scaled creatures shoulder causing it to bend unnaturally in response.
An unintelligible curse erupted from the hunter’s lips, followed quickly by a torrent of blood in a violent cough, as Thran’s second fist came around and buried itself deep in its abdomen effortlessly puncturing the protection of the thick armor. The hallow sound of death echoing the ancient halls as if the entire fortress spoke in approval of the ruthless slaying.
The Krath Priest hesitated in the shadows as he looked on in pure fear of the Warlord. He watched intently and could feel the void left in its wake as the hunter’s life slipped beyond the veil. Thran spared no momentum in pushing the creature aside in his rampage. The Warlords lightsaber ignited as if in triumph, filling the chamber with a brilliant fiery orange matching his aura.
Moving quickly onward and with one swing, decapitating another Trandoshan from behind who was sparring with Kell and Koryn. Its head lifelessly toppling from the body as it was kicked aside by Kell who immediately scanned for his next target.
An emerald blade emerged from the back of the third and final of the first assault by the cold-blooded reptiles, incinerating the creature’s insides and spilling them out through the incision as Archangel pulled the blade out, seizing the opportunity of distraction. The smell of burning flesh and death filled every corner of the small area of the fortress.
Evant had to do a double take as Kell quickly brought up his own violet blade to parry an unexpected blow from Thran, still in relentless assault. The familiar hiss of lightsabers clashing together filled the room.
“Thran, snap out of it!” Kell spat as the skilled Obelisk easily defended against the undisciplined raw attacks from the Sith.
To either side of him Archangel and Koryn stood on the defensive as well, their sabers motionless but ready, piercing the darkness around them. In the distance more of the unmistakable guttural roars from additional attackers could be heard approaching. The fortress had already proven more dangerous than the enemies that inhabited it. With every step the Dark Side tightened its grip.
The former emperor kept the saber engaged as he tried to take back control of his sanity. Strain, both mentally and physically was evident as the Sith tried to keep himself from hurting those around him.
“Thran!” yelled Kell as he reached around with his other hand and grabbed the arm of his father’s longtime ally and friend. Trying to think of something that might give the normally insane Sith something to lock onto, the Field Marshal screamed “Bwana!” as he continued to keep his and Thran’s sabers locked together.
Such a random word to be said in such an unusual circumstance, but it seemed to do the trick. The underwear model muttered “Funny word that is… Your father used to call me that… Where am I?” Thran suddenly said as he looked around at the Trandoshan bodies that littered the area around them. “This place… it’s fueling my paranoia and powers.” The human tried to put all away all that he had experienced thus far, but it was hard.
Archangel just shook his head and said “Thran… can’t you just be normal…” and headed further up the tunnel to scout ahead so that there would be no more surprises today.
The guttural sounds that the group had been hearing increased as they mopped up the first wave of Trandos, and they needed to prepare for what lay ahead. Another mob of reptilian mercenaries barreled into the area and engaged the Dark Jedi.
Blaster fire ricocheted off the fortress walls as the firefight devolved into a grand free for all melee between the members of the Brotherhood and the mercenary forces of the One Sith.
With their sabers in one hand and blasters in the other, Kell and Archangel worked their way back through the Trandoshans using aimed blasts and quick slashes in order to reach the other three members of Scholae Palatinae.
The fight was brutal, but the two large warriors were well experienced in this type of close combat after years of leading troopers in the field.
A clawed hand, scaled with green leaves of carapace, landed wetly on the cobblestone. The blood leaking from the severed end flowed slowly, as the majority of the flesh had been cauterized by an intense source of energy. The hand was soon followed by another splash of blood, and the hand’s former owners lifeless corpse, a dozen injuries adding to the expanding crimson puddle. The liquid, alien and familiar at the same time, flowed down between the cobbles, creating rivulets and channels, outlining the stones with red. It was almost artistic, in a way, Archangel though, as he stepped over his former adversary.
“Evant!” he shouted over his shoulder, eyeing a group of Trandoshans who were gathering on a balcony at the far end of the great hall they’d fought their way into. They were wretches, barely above a rabble in fighting style. But they were Trandoshans, fierce reptiles, each clearing two meters tall, and stronger than most humans. Their teeth and claws were as sharp as vibroblades, and these savages knew how to use them. But they were battling seasoned veterans, and Dark Jedi to boot.
Evant’s head came up, looking away from his charge. Thran still yammered away, reciting a litany of pseudo-proclamatory gibberish. He’d pressed himself into a shallow recess, which might have once held a decorative set of armor, or a tapestry of some battle fought long ago. Now, it held a psychotic Sith Warlord in the throes of the Dark Side, and a befuddled Priest of the Krath, who now stared at the blood-drenched berserker shielding them.
“We’re moving,” Archangel spat, his face set in an annoyed, nearly disgusted grimace. It pained him to see Thran in such a predicament, but this war took precedent over him and his break from reality. He turned to his blood-stained comrade, Dante, the son of one of his greatest friends. With a nod, he moved out into the great hall, taking stray blaster bolts on his viridian lightsaber, deflecting them harmlessly away. He glared up at the Trandoshans, their efforts from such a range almost comical.
“Dante!” he shouted, not turning or taking his attention away from the assaulters, “Send them a present!”
A chunk of masonry, as large as Archangel was tall, flew out of the darkness, slamming into the group of Trandoshans. It struck with such velocity that the balcony, weighed down with age and a group of heavy aliens, cracked along the stem, and crumbled. The reptiles, moments before were caught in the revelry of battle, dropped suddenly, falling a half-dozen meters onto the hard stone floor. Dozens of loud cracks, as bones snapped under their weight, echoed throughout the hall, were soon followed by the chunk of masonry, ending the torment of the Trandoshans. Archangel nodded to Dante, and smiled.
“Not bad for a boy” he murmured, before stepping forward, examining the fallen pile with mild interest. Kell smirked slightly, and turned to kneel beside Evant. Koryn, his blaster and lightsaber held ready, had been watching over them. He moved to stand beside Archangel, and rattled off a question in Rodian. The huge Battlemaster turned to the former bounty hunter, and smiled.
“I have no idea where to go now” he confessed, as he deactivated his lightsaber, “But I think if we follow the trail of reptiles, we might at least find who is in command of them”
As Koryn’s head turned to regard him, his huge black eyes seeming to take him all in, not just focusing on his face, a rattling chittering rang out through the halls. Chitin armor plates clanking against one another, and against stone, huge legs, tipped with claws, clicking firmly against cobblestones. It seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. Koryn rattled off a question, his head swiveling from side to side, looking for whatever was making the noise. Dante stood up from his crouch, and even Evant was looking around. This moment of confusion allowed Thran to surge forward, breaking free from his captors, and charged forward, his lightsaber coming to life in his hand. He leapt, clearing his comrades in a single bound, and landing at the edge where the balcony had once been attached to the wall. He disappearing down the dark passage, his mutterings now shouts, full of conviction.
“FOLLOW HIM!” Archangel bellowed, surging forward, with Dante barely a step behind.
Alone with his thoughts for a moment and with distance between his pursuers, Thran Occasus searched for a clear picture of what had transpired and what would yet happen. It was nigh impossible to distinguish between the two. He saw the past as his future and his future as the past. All the while he was caught in a dangerous limbo called the present, unsure if his next breathe would be his last. The power in terrible place had taken hold of him long before his compatriots. The ease with which it had wormed into his subconscious frightened him. Perhaps it had gotten to them as well, but with such unrefined
He was used to the cavalier lifestyle he lived in the inner rim worlds, with young starlets, bright lights, and endless fans. He could hide easily when he was center stage. He could hide, right there in plain sight. The inner worlds seemed to revolve around news of sex scandal and drug addiction among their brightest stars, but for all the caring about celebrity that they did not one of them was bright enough see beyond the pretty face. He was a perfect chameleon, living a double life. One was secret from the galaxy, known only to a few. The other was omnipresent. He was hanging on banners on the side of every commuter shuttle from Coruscant to Corellia.
Here, in this hellish spring of corrupting commands and mire of lost tales, he could hide from nothing. He was alone in the darkness, yet entombed in the essences of lost empires radiating towards his confused conciousness. Sorting through the schizophrenic mélange of thought would be the easy part. Getting out of the tomb would be the difficult part, for if he could not escape he would surely join the rest of the spirits there. He would need to do what he’d always done; Eschew control and let the Force guide him. And he did simply that.
His eyes, received no light. They were useless. So, he shut them. There was no sound, he was alone. His ears ceased to listen. The cold musty stink of this ancient stagnate pond of power lost its pungency. The world faded away. As simply as one might pull the sheets over one’s head to hide from the monsters they feared as a child, the outside world and the fear of it melted away. For the moment, he felt protected and safe. Soon, that safety and comfort too evaporated. As all his trepidation and chaotic insanity fell to the wayside, the body that was Thran Occasus no longer held the man.
He was gone to the world, he’d become nothing a passive observer in his own mind; unable to act, unable to think, at the whim of the Force. In the blackness, a terrible evil arose. For millennia it had remained trapped in this place, scouring the halls for a vessel through which it could make its grand escape. It had a name. It had control. It was hungry for retribution.
All the while, tucked away in the farthest recesses of his own mind, a Sith watched a new realm of reality appear. All that was dark had been filled with a confluence of energy, revealing all of the secrets hidden in the shadows. Even as he was powerless to act, the entity known as Thran felt he had been destined to be in this place. Everything he saw felt so familiar to him; it was as if he could point out any imperfection on any of the massive stone blocks without needing to inspect a single one.
His body reacted flawless, only he did not command it. His eyes darted about seeing everything as if it were the light of day. His ears were tickled by the sound of shouting and the patter of running feet. His hand gripped tight the lightsaber he’d carried for years and it felt alien to him. As four others met him, his voice spoke out though not of his own thoughts.
“I have been set free…I shall reward you with a quick death.” He croaked, as every last drop of color faded from his skin and eyes.
The man who once was Emperor disappeared before their very eyes. Only a husk of Thran remained. His movements were simultaneously immediately recognisable and completely alien. It was now more than unnerving to look him in the eye: where they once shone the most brilliant green, it was now like looking into the eyes of a dead man. Even his complexion mirrored that of a corpse. The corners of his mouth twisted upwards in a sinister smile. He clicked his fingers – a sharp crack echoing around the cavernous room – and turned his back on his former comrades and began to ascend a flight of steps. At the top were waiting three thrones of darkest obsidian. The centre, and most ornate, had obviously belonged to Kressh himself. The man walked passed this and took the seat to its left.
“You are beneath my personal attention,” announced the possessed human, as the clicking of chitin and claws on stone grew immensely louder. A dark shadow passed across the Dark Jedi. They turned to witness the mandibles of the great beast clacking furiously at them, already slick with Trandoshan blood. The Silooth watched them, awaiting an order from its master. The Sith Lord revelled in his victims’ torment for a moment before clicking his fingers twice more. A jet of acid shot out at incredible speed, scattering the four in all directions. Almost simultaneously their lightsabers were lit and arcing through the air to assault the creature. The Silooth was surprisingly agile for such a monstrosity: its claws danced expertly around its assailants before turning and blasting acid at its chosen target.
Letting out a roar of unbridled aggression, Archangel charged at the beast head-on. The Silooth lunged forwards, its vast jaws snapping triumphantly. As they made to clamp down on the Kiffar, his fist collided with the mandible and splintered it in two with an impressive display of the Force.
The wounded Silooth roared and recoiled in shock from the stagging blow delivered by Archangel. The enhanced beast clacked and scraped the floor, spinning in a semi circle, squealing in anger.
And summoning its brood.
The click and clack of multiple silooths sounded in the distance, the noise of their movement increasing with each passing second, until six creatures exploded into the chamber with insatiable hunger.
Alone, and lost, high above the stage, roared the maniacal laugh of the former Scholae Emperor.
The brood looked on, slavering jaws awaiting the taste of the Dark Jedi before them. The injured Silooth was driven into a berserker's rage, its claws attempting to impale its attackers. Neatly sidestepping the strike, Dante slashed through the beast's leg causing it to stumble. Seizing the opportunity in the Silooth's disorganised state, Archangel leapt astride the beast and severed the horn-like protrusion atop its head. As it fell to ground, Kell caught it with the Force - working perfectly in synchronicity with the Battlemaster - and hurled it in the direction of the advancing brood. The horn bounced relatively harmlessly off the chitin, causing only a small crack to appear in the Silooth's armour. Deep green blood spurted from the wounds, dripping into the creature's eyes and blinding it. It lashed out in what it thought was the direction of its opponents, meeting no contact until a lightsaber was plunged through its eye socket, directly into its brain. From his throne, the husk of the Emperor emeritus gave a grunt of disapproval.
Meanwhile, Koryn and Evant were doing their best to keep the six remaining beetles at bay. Tapping into the mind of one Silooth, the Rodian attempted to calm it, to make it fight for them. The beast stopped in place for a moment before releasing a roar, its mandibles clacking together in frustration. The creature charged at the Priest who rolled away, directly into the path of another. Its claw came down, narrowly missing the Krath, but tearing his cloak to tatters. Twisting his body, he aimed his Westar at the gap in the chitinous armour between its legs and body. Pulling the trigger caused little permanent damage, instead releasing the Silooth’s fury, which it decided to take out on Evant. Koryn shouted an alert to his comrade. The Caliburnan’s blade arced through the air as he staved off another of the beasts. Glancing over towards Koryn, he gave a slight nod as he ran at the massive insect. He dodged around the mandibles that gnashed at him, seeking blood. Evant thrust his violet lightsaber skyward, slicing into the Silooth’s gut. A vile cascade of entrails fell to the floor with a faloop. The creature howled in its death throes as Koryn climbed onto its back and pierced the skull with his blade to ensure it was dead.
“Enough!” roared possessed human. He held out his hand and clenched it into a fist; the very air, heavy with Dark energy, seemed to come alive. The remaining insects let out strangled cries as they collapsed to the ground, their legs curling in towards their bodies. The Dark Jedi watched as their foes ceased to be, marvelling at the power exhibited by the Sith spirit. As suddenly as they came to admire it, they feared it. It became difficult for them to breathe. Each desperately tried to swallow an urgent gasp of air to no avail. “Kneel before your Lord,” ordered the human. Their oesophagi were released and they drank in the air as though it were water offered in a desert. Slowly each did as commanded with varying degrees of hatred and loathing. “For years I supported Lord Kressh’s claim to the throne of the Sith, only to die in service to him,” he explained. “For millennia my spirit roamed these halls. But with this vessel,” his palm lay flat across his chest as a cruel smile spread across his face, “the reign of Dor Gal-ram begins. My reign begins as it will end: with death. You shall each fight for the honour of becoming my Apprentice.” He cradled his head in his hand as he clicked his fingers once more, signalling for them to begin.
“You will obey” the voice whispered, as if right behind his ear, but echoing around his skull. It spoke with a voice both ancient and young, vile and sultry, hungry and gluttonous. Definitely male, elements of feminine tone had crept into the speech, creating a transgendered facsimile of a voice. The voice sought to both quell and uplift him. It was up to him, and his decision, to tip the scale either way.
“You will OBEY!” the voice suddenly rose in volume, deafening and booming within his mind. He staggered, his hands shooting to his head, gripping his ears as if to block the noise, protect them from the aural assault. Their presence did little for him, however, and he reeled in pain. The others around him were in a similar situation, Evant doubled over and emptying his last meal onto the stone flooring.
Only Dante and Archangel remained unbowed, that very fact conveying their immense physical fortitude. With a jerk, and a moment of extreme physical exertion, the Sith Battlemaster’s head lifted, his eyes glaring up at the former Emperor of Scholae Palatinae. Thran, more mannequin now than man, smiled down at him, his alabaster features twisted cruelly as the possessing spirit exerted its dominance over the man.
“Ah, a challenger?” Dor Gal-ram asked, spoken in a voice from Thran’s lips which were not his own. He lifted his hand, raising a cluster of mason-prepared stone slabs, and flicked them at Archangel, as if he were an insignificant bug, an afterthought. Archangel roared in response, his saber sweeping up in a slow arc to meet the oncoming projectiles. He sliced one in half, just barely dipping his head below the second, before taking the third in the shoulder, spinning him away from the attack, and sprawling on the floor.
Dante started forward suddenly, charging at the possessed Emperor, his lightsaber leading the way. Archangel could only struggle under the weight of the Sith Lord’s presence, and watch out the corner of his eye.
A shockwave through the Force rippled to every corner of the room as the violet blade of Kell locked in combat with the lightsaber belonging to Thran. Brilliant flashes of light and violent cracks at every strike of their dual atop the stairs. Exhaustion came on only one side, as Dor Gal-ram effortlessly parried each blow with one arm and giving up no ground on the assault.
Evant could feel energy flowing into every inch of his body. The fortress itself radiated the dark side of the Force, now focused in on the throne room as if drawn to the conflict. Again it spoke out to him, less chaotic now as if their prolonged presence had calmed it. Yet it felt more as if it had corrupted his own mind so that it could communicate.
It spoke not in words, but in raw emotion. It expressed betrayal. Along with it, a flood of emotions so primal it threatened his very core. Unable to control the flood of emotions he screamed at the top of his lungs, desperate for intervention. Yet his mind was left wondering if he had really made a sound at all.
The Priest opened his eyes, desperate to ground himself back in reality. Escape from the nightmare currently corrupting his mind. Yet when he did so the formerly dark and ancient throne room shone brilliantly. Massive ancient tapestries caught his eye as they adorned the walls to either side. Lights shone high into the air from below illuminating them, as well every corner of the impressive room. In his eyes, restored to its former glory.
The Krath blinked over and over, knowing his eyes were deceiving him. Turning away and forcing his eyes closed as the voice still whispered ancient words to him. As he did so he realized his foolishness. He had listened.
Evant looked down at himself, then began to turn to look back only to once again find himself looking up the age worn stairs. Atop it stood the crimson skinned Sith, Dor Gal-ram. Yet, atop it stood the pale skinned human, Thran. He could see both images at once.
Before his mind could fully comprehend where it was his mind existed or what was real, tendrils of lightning erupted from his fingers reaching out for Evant. He quickly ignited his lightsaber in defense as the blade deflected the attack and consumed the energy.
The Krath could feel the Dark Side swelling in him as he reached out through the Force. It answered him in a way it had never done before as the Sith figure before him was sent flying up the stairs crashing into the top few before tumbling over out of sight. He stood there for a moment in awe gazing at his lightsaber.
If this was even a hint of the power a Grand Master of the Dark Side felt, he feared them now more than ever. The human took a moment to look around the room for his companions. Trying to piece together what had transpired as two versions of the world ran parallel in his mind. A crippling pain overtook his mind forcing him to the ground curling into the fetal position crying out in pain.
Rising quickly from the ground, the almost gaunt figure of a Sith stretched out his hands and retrieved his lightsaber with the Force. That momentary weakness that he had just shown by being flung across the room by Evant had opened up new possibilities for the three equites of Scholae Palatinae who moved in on the attack as a single unit.
Blades clashed and blasters fired as the three Dark Jedi attempted to overcome the spirit that had taken over the body and mind of the former Emperor. Only Evant had yet to join the fight as the massive amounts of Dark Force energy that was flowing through them had turned the Krath into a crying human in a fetal position.
“You are all sniveling cowards who are not fit to be my apprentices!” screamed the possessed pilot. Turning on Koryn, Thran yelled “Fight to show me who is worthy to join me in my conquest of the universe! I am now the infinite power of the galaxy!”
The Rodian attempted to press the attack against the now rambling human, but Force Lightning leapt from the hands of the Thran-Ghost, and Koryn was flung back against the chamber’s walls. Consciousness was fleeting for the Rollmaster as he tried to come back to his feet and continue the assault.
Pirouetting to block a slash from Thran, Kell responded with an uppercut to his face that did little damage to the body searching soul, but it would leave a mark on the underwear model’s perfect complexion. The Palpatine was moving around the Sith spirit with a slow deliberateness, but the fight was beginning to take its toll on Dante both mentally and physically. Only engaging when he had to, the Obelisk was almost mirroring the large Sith trooper from across the room who was also attacking the long dead Sith.
Archangel cleared his mind as he pressed the attack on Thran with a variety of slashes and thrusts that forced the former Emperor of Scholae Palatinae back on his heels. A Force enhanced kick to the abdomen sent the possessed human flying back against the chamber’s wall.
Shrouding himself in the shadows, Dante leapt at the downed figure and slugged Thran as hard as he could. Even though the spirit that possessed the husk was powerful, it still had to be conscious for him to be inhabited to the fullest extent.
The ashen body dropped back down to the ground and flopped around as the spirit tried to resuscitate the body. His attempt was successful, and he rose to counterattack against the members of the Brotherhood. Finally, the being unleashed a Force blast that sent Archangel and Dante rolling down the stairs, but the Sith ghost was beginning to feel the effects of the extended battle against the ever increasing powers of the other Dark Jedi who were feeding off of the Dark Side energy within the complex.
A single bead of crimson blood trickled from the corner of his lips. With a quick push on the ground, the cadaverous marionette rose without much effort. It was as if the hijacker of the body could overwhelm the cosmic forces of gravity by power of his will alone. His lightsaber rose to meet the quartet of contestants in this game of death. Surely, one of these souls would not make it out alive. The power of this place had enriched all of their abilities beyond anything that they would ever experience again.
As his body moved, free of his control, Thran began to see the universe clearer than he had ever seen it before. Everything which he sought to access within himself while conscious he could suddenly see. Even as this battle with his brothers raged on, endangering his body, the Emperor Emeritus realized that this real danger had not yet arrived. Constant observation of the psyche and thoughts of his body’s captor allowed him to focus on what was yet to transpire.
The Silooth were dangerous, this Sith was dangerous, but death incarnate would come from the stars embodied by the one thing that would test him most. He had yet to see the face, but he knew it would be beautiful in its ferocity and malevolence. It would stare into his eyes and he into hers. In those cold eyes, he would see himself and everything that he loved fade to black Fear embraced him tightly, choking him with gasping thought and wild visions of his fate.
He could feel the pain cast aside by Dor Gal-Ram and it stung him, but fear paralyzed every thought left in his disembodied ego numbing even the pain his corporeal form was enduring. Death would come and she would be beautiful and he could not warn the others. With each passing second, the secret of why they had been sent and why death would come to them elucidated. It was as if he was a prismatic crystal, waiting for a beam of light to strike it in just the right way so that he could shed light on the deepest darkest secrets of this godforsaken world. It would reveal the tool that would crack open the cask of death and truly set him free, not only of the binds of this ancient Sith subjugator but of the binds he had woven into himself.
He watched the lightsaber spin and whirr as the toppled targets regained their footing as well. He watched as his hand rose, casting forth a web of shadows. The webbing entangled the fighters for a moment, sucking the very essence of life from them. It was a power that he had only ever seen used once before, by a drunken master as punishment for too many ice cubes in a glass. It’s brutality was matched only by the volume of their shrill screams when they roared out in pain.
“You shall have to do better than that if any one of you wishes to live.” The bold spirit proclaimed.
A deep visceral and guttural rumble filled the halls and chambers as Dor Gal-Ram let out an unnatural warcry. The stone walls began to rattle and shake, setting loose particles of dust and sand trapped in the crevices and cracks between the rock. Dor Gal-Ram had died once before and the fear of death no longer gripped him as it would the mortals who prepared themselves for another attack.
Archangel and Kell Dante flew back up the shaking stone staircase as quickly as they had been cast down them. In a single bound they were back on the heels of the Sith. Though they hoped that they could save their compatriots lost soul and banish the true Sith forever, they would not hesitate to cast Thran asunder if that was the only solution to present itself. Their lightsabers moved with an alacrity so unnatural an unaware eye would witness only a blur of colors. This battle would soon reach it’s denouvment, but there were twists left in what would become the tale of their lives.
The violent hiss of clashing sabers ground at his psyche as the Priest struggled to come to terms with how willingly the Force responded. He opened his mind and willingly let the ancient voices translate in his mind. It was addicting, he beckoned out in the Force for more. His body felt as if the Force was dripping from his pores as he stood at the base of the stairs.
His emerald eyes pierced through time and space to look upon the Sith figure of Dor Gal-Ram standing before Ludo Kressh’s throne. He looked up to the image of a Sith lashing out with an angry fury that was only capable of someone with the title of Sith Lord. The brilliant fiery orange lightsaber in his hands slowed before the Krath’s eyes as time itself allowed him to carefully track its movements.
Passion began to swell uncomfortably in the Krath, he would have likely vomited again had his body been capable of it. Instead only a gasp was released as the air around him began to hum. The sensation was uncomfortable as Evant’s body was transitioned to more of a beacon for the Dark Side power growing in the room. The room began to shake more violently with each clash of the sabers at the top of the stairs. The room itself engaged in the conflict within.
Hate was the only emotion that the Krath felt. It was an intense hostility towards the corruption of his mind by unknown Forces. Yet, the fear and anger that came with it was only a catalyst to the unknown enemy playing in his mind. The room itself felt as though it wanted to consume him. The past, present and future all became one as the room itself began to spin.
Desperate to regain control of his mind, he found a focal point on the only tangible enemy around. Without hesitation at all, the growing power erupted from his arms in a torrent as tendrils of lightning bore their way through the stale ancient air, climbing their way to the top.
Disengaging from the combat Archangel and Kell held up their lightsabers in defense. The emerald and green blades glowing brightly as the weapons defended those that wielded them from harm absorbing the energy. The human figure of Thran did the same, but the direct force of the attack was almost too much to bear. A sharp bright bolt shot out filling the entire room, the crackling energy barely held at bay by the spirit of the Sith Lord.
As if unable to control the torrent of Dark Side energy, Evant lashed out in frustration, the lightning rushing in every direction. The tangled web of lightning streaked itself to every corner of the throne room harmlessly absorbed back into the fortress itself. Koryn ignited his own crimson blade at the last moment as the Rodian himself realizing the impending chaos.
The Krath screamed out in an involuntary reaction to feeling so much raw passion and power. The lightning crawled its way through the air and down the tunnels of the fortress winding their way through. As if feeding off the Dark Side energies as it went it, venting a furnace of condensed fuel and power growing in the throne room.
It was over almost as quickly as it started. The mad Krath struggled to get control of his mind as he looked up at the weakened spirit of Dor Gal-Ram. For Evant it was almost as if time itself stood still. The future showed only pain, yet not for whom. For his companions it was an opportunity to strike at the weakened Sith Lord still standing defiantly before him, seething with so much hate.
For a brief moment, the walls of the fortress melted around Koryn. He watched as they crumbled into dust, revealing an arid desert landscape a world away from the alpine tundra of Rhelg. Rocky outcrops dotted the horizon with no sign of civilisation for miles. Where Thran had once stood, there was now the visage of a Sith pureblood radiating malevolence: Dor Gal-ram in his prime. Beside him, stood another Sith, likely Horak-mul. Formless beings clashed around them as they threw impressive displays of their power across the battlefield: a group was hurled backwards into the lightsabers of their own allies, lightning disintegrated their enemies sometimes dozens at a time, and if any managed to get close enough, their lightsabers made short work of the would-be assassins. Three faces emerged from the crowd of the formless, three faces Koryn knew all too well. Horak-mul stepped back, deactivating his blade and taking a seat on a throne that solidified from nothingness. The ground beneath the Sith swelled and a hill formed beneath him. The three continued their assault unperturbed, dodging or absorbing Gal-ram's ranged attacks. When they were upon him, events seemed to blur into everything and nothingness; time accelerated and ceased to exist, happening in an instant and failing to arrive. The aftermath, however, was unmistakable. The lifeless bodies of Archangel, Dante, and Evant lay at the Sith's feet. Horak-mul looked on impassively while Gal-ram laughed victoriously. Koryn found that he could not move from the scene, could not look away. The Sith strode towards him, taking each step with purpose, revelling in his triumph. He was standing above the Rodian within a heartbeat. The Krath looked up and his face was no longer the crimson of the Sith, but the striking features of Thran. He held out his hand, and a pulse of electricity shot through Koryn's body.
A flash of light briefly blinded him, and he was back in the fortress. Thran still towered over him as another bolt of lightning struck his body. He attempted to ward it off with his blade, but tendrils of electricity arced away from the lightsaber. Evant approached cautiously behind the Sith Lord, his weapon held ready to strike his foe down. Even through the pain, Koryn noticed the hint of a smile play on the edges of Thran's mouth, the subtle change in stance. The Rollmaster gritted his teeth, fighting against the agony coursing through his body. It was a struggle to lift his arm from the stone floor, but he controlled the pain as well as he could and pushed Evant away, less than a second before Gal-ram slashed backwards. Misjudging his newfound power, he flung the human back against the far wall with enough force to fracture ribs. Gal-ram turned his ire back towards the Rodian, delivering a swift, sharp kick. Koryn attempted to roll away, but his aches made him lethargic. Thran’s foot connected with his left arm, causing the bone to splinter and eliciting a cry of pain from Thraagus.
Levelling his lightsaber at the Rodian, Gal-ram became aware of Archangel and Kell approaching from opposing flanks. With superhuman speed he was upon Dante, immediately forcing him onto the defensive as he unleashed a flurry of Dun Moch blows. Twisting his grip, he caught Archangel’s strike to his back, before spinning and pushing outwards with the Force. Bracing himself, the Kiffar dug his heels into the stone, moving only a short distance as Dante foot connected sharply with the back of Thran’s knee, causing him to stumble to the ground.
“Any last words, ‘my Lord’?” asked Archangel as he pointed his blade at the Sith Lord. Gal-ram said nothing as he focused his energy into the room around him. The room shook violently as stonework broke free from the roof and fell towards the Battlemaster.
Sensing the falling piece of masonry, Archangel took his eyes off of the possessed former Emperor in order to deflect it away from him. The inattention only lasted for a moment, but it left a slight opening for his opponent.
As the nearly exhausted Gal-Ram/Thran tried to take advantage of the situation brought on by his Force blast on the ceiling, the ashen figure drove a foot out to sweep the much larger Sith. Even in his reduced physical and mental status, the Dark Side’s power allowed him to make contact with the armored calf of the Kiffar and send him flopping down onto the throne room’s dais. “You foolish oafs… you shall both die!” screamed the possessed fighter pilot.
Just as Gal-Ram/Thran finished his comments, the armored fist of Dante slammed into the side of the Sith. Kell was taking advantage of seeing the many times that his father and Thran had sparred, and it always had come down to the use of physical violence on the pretty exterior of the Emperor emeritus when they had matched up. Thran’s superior focus on the Force had led to both Dante’s increasing their knowledge of defense against attacks through the Force.
The Sith fell hard once again as Dante pressed his attack and grabbed the smaller man before he could slump to the ground. “Now… it’s our turn” he said as he threw his mentor’s body down from the elevated platform. With a loud thump, the possessed one landed roughly on the ground below. Even after all of the damage, Gal-Ram began to rise yet again.
Before the trio of Dante, Archangel, and Koryn could go on the offensive again, a scream permeated the room.
Crawling on his hands and knees, Evant yelled “No… not another!” as a new presence was felt coming into the cavernous room of Darkness.
She moved like a viper. She seemed to glide into the room on a microscopic film of superconductors. She was tattooed and marked by pure unadulterated evils. She was beautiful. Her sudden appearance broke the ancient spirit’s grip on Thran only for a second.
He had seen her arrival while entombed in his own body. He was expecting her. He was ready. The others were not.
Her saberstaff buzzed to life as she took aim at the cacophonic melee in front of her. She had no intention to leave a single one of them alive. No ancient immortal or band of misfit Dark Jedi would stand in the way of her Empire’s total domination.
The Bakuran dug deep into his ego, he had the power to utter but a single phrase. He thought of who would best receive his message. It was Kell. The Dante Family had long served him, but the two were friends. Dante would listen. The others wouldn’t
Thran mustered the energy to spit out words.
“Dante! You cannot stop her!” Thran said, with his own words for the first time in what felt like eons.
The spirit regained control of his shell and turned to the newest of his potential apprentices. But this body before him had power far superior to the husk of a man he was currently inhabiting. Gal-ram licked his lips, enticed by the new bounty that stood before him.
Dante heard the words spat forth by the body. He knew its words were true; that Thran was warning them. He was telling them to run. Kell began to step back as he watched the Ancient Sith turn to the woman. When he looked upon Thran’s body, he knew that the fight within the Sith’s mind was just as vicious as the one they were engaged in. But when the body spoke again, he knew that Thran could only break through for that split second.
The Sith spoke “You are most powerful…What are you called?”
The woman looked dead into his eyes. “I am Maxyn Vonnisia. Conqueror of Worlds. Lady of the One Sith.”
“…Lady of the One Sith”
The syllables danced through the air, as if borne on perfumed clouds. Her voice was silken, as befit a woman of her caliber, but had a coldness which dampened its possibly sultry nature. The corner of her lips had curled slightly, giving just a hint of a smile, as she stood before the possessed Thran. She bore her staff saber comfortable, as a seasoned warrior might in a sparring arena. She didn’t seem threatened at all. And why should she? Her opponents were a possessed Sith Warlord, a pair of injured and tired warriors and two delusional Dark Jedi, whose influence on the fight had been negligible.
“My lady” Gal-Ram said, bowing his marionette body gracefully before Maxyn, a show of confidence, to lower one’s head in easy reach of an opponent. Maxyn was not impressed, however, as her eyes turned to survey the battlefield, masonry strewn across the once-opulent hall.
“My, my, you could have at least cleaned up” she said, a tone of admonition in her voice. She clicked her tongue quietly, as if scolding her servant for not performing their tasks up to par. Her eyes fell on Archangel, his prostrate body groaning, trying to breath against the press of bruised ribs. A golden star emblazoned on his shoulder drew her attention, and her ghost of a smile vanished.
“You, man in red” she called, projecting her voice through the Force, causing echoes throughout the chamber, and down the corridors attached to it. Archangel grunted, and slowly pushed himself over, laying on his back and breathing heavily.
“Yes, your worship?” he muttered, the dust of the ground coating and drying his lips. He tried to dampen them with his tongue, but only got thousand year old dust in his mouth for his trouble. Maxyn took several steps towards him, her staff saber bobbing slightly with each movement of her graceful hips. The toe of her combat boot tapped at the golden star on his pauldron as she glared down at him.
“What is this?” she asked, her voice dripping with malice. Archangel turned his head to the side to see what she was referring to, and earned a kick in the head, snapping his neck to the side, and actually shifting his bulk several feet. He groaned, and swore, a particularly nasty Corellian one he’d heard from Thran several years previously.
“You are Vos?!” she screamed, her hatred and rage flaring in the Force. She seemed to be gathering herself up for an attack, a burst of lightning, or simple pummeling him to death with masonry. Her distraction with the prone Battlemaster would prove to be costly. Behind her, the Thran puppet had approached, silent as death, to within arm’s length of the woman, with a sickly, predatory grin on his face. Archangel had seen a look similar to that one on Thran’s face before, especially when directed at women, but the cruel sickness of the grin created a far more sinister pall.
In a movement as fluid as mercury, his hands shot out, capturing the woman’s head in a steely grasp. Momentarily stunned, and still slightly distracted by the Vos hulk at her feet, she struggled, and tried to pull away. But Gal-Ram had planted his feet firmly on the stone floor, anchoring himself and her with the Force.
“YOU WILL BE MINE!” he screamed, followed with a cackle of crazed laughter. A moment of fear crossed her features as she tried to twist away from her attacker, bringing her saber to bear. Thran’s body slithered out of the way of the strike, and his hands remained firmly clamped onto the sides of her head. With a final scream of hunger, he ground his fingertips into her head. She let out a horrifying scream, deafening and blood-curdling. It went on for several long moments before the air in her lungs gave out, and she slowly slumped down her knees, her throat hoarse, but still gasping in pain. Thran’s body was breathing heavily, however, as if fighting a duel. Archangel pushed himself onto his hands and knees and moved away as quickly as he could, putting some distance between them.
The Sith Lord and Lady stood as if statues, though breathing, they moved very little else. Their eyes were closed, brows furrowed with concentration, as a battle of minds was waged. Beads of sweat slowly dripped from the faces of the combatants, but neither moved, neither spoke nor cried out, just quiet gasps and momentary grunts. The Scholae Palatinae Dark Jedi could only look on in horror and amazement.
Except for Dante, who stood facing the two. He looked to Archangel , knowing that the large man was not too injured to assist him, and that as the mental battle was fought, the pair were draining the Dark Side energies of the area. He had to act quickly. With a mighty roar, he unleashed a torrent of force lightning, cerulean and white, arcing towards Thran and Maxyn. A moment later, another bolt shot out from the hands of Archangel, slamming hard into the Sith Lords.
They were flung away from one another, screaming horribly as the connection was broken. They slammed against the stonework, bodies crumpling slightly as the mental exertion was replaced with physical injury.
“Quick, Evant, Koryn, bind them, and get them out of here” Dante shouted, as he ran up to inspect Thran. He was unconscious, dead to the world, as was the Lady of the One Sith. Archangel gathered the woman’s discarded belongings, several nasty weapons and a scroll, and tucked them away for safe keeping. He helped bind the two, and hoisted the woman easily onto his back. The team limped away, mission complete, but how successful?