Team Fishstick - Arcona
The following Arconans are part of Team Fishstick:
Dark Jedi Master Troutrooper - 7656
Epis Ood Bnar - 3317
Exarch Skye Dulovic - 9811
Templar Vynn Salm - 8930
Dark Jedi Knight Incendus Layon Krayt - 13033
Acolyte Valeriuskane - 12773
Troutrooper blinked. “Who lit their saber and why?” As he turned to berate the person, four more lightsabers snap-hissed to life. The Mon Cal stared at the five sabers wavering in front of him, at the five would-be combatants slowly fanning out around him. Eyes narrowed, glances exchanged, muscles flexed, all five soaking in the Dark Side.
The fish frowned. “Uh, ungoverned? I feel as though I'm missing something. I'm fairly new to Arcona. I know there may be some secret rituals or three that no one's informed me of—I still don't know why Cethgus screams whenever he sees a tattoo now—but I'm certain someone would have told me of a synonym game.”
“No, fishy,” Ood Bnar said, his branches twisting and writhing as he began to shift forms. “We've been missing something....Something you and your kind have withheld from us...”
Troutrooper blinked. “'My kind'?”
Incendus lowered his horned head. “Yes,” he snarled, “from all of us...”
“Pray tell what that may be.”
Valeriuskane screamed. “POWER! SO MUCH POWER!”
Vynn nodded. “Had we known how much power you Masters have, we would have dispatched you when we had the chance.”
“Without question or hesitation,” Skye acceded.
The Dark Jedi Master covered his face with his flipper. “We enter this place, a wind blows, I get a little Dark Side dream of golden-robed glory, and y'all's dreams become reality. Unfortunately for me, this means we get to relive the Horizons plague, or at least its odd and dangerous side effect known as power ballooning.” Troutrooper held up a flipper. “I think we should take some time before continuing. De-escalate the situation. Some food and rest, perhaps a little training on how to wield your new-found powers, then we plumb the depths of this temple.”
“I know your conniving, devious ways, Krath,” Skye sneered, sliding surreptitiously towards the Mon Cal. “As they failed Wun, so have they failed you.”
“Aye,” the Nati continued his transformation, “now that I, too, am a Krath Dark Jedi Master, I see so much more: so much wasted potential, so much left untapped, so much you could do. Teach us? Ha! We'll teach you how to wield these powers.” The ends of his branch-hands sparked and crackled in bluish white.
“And then, we'll take what's in this temple,” Vynn edged closer to the Mon Cal. “The glory shall be mine.”
Troutrooper frowned. “—Ours?”
The five would-be assailants jumped away from each other, lightsabers still humming but now swinging side-to-side instead of being pointed only at the group's original Dark Jedi Master.
Troutrooper gurgled a chuckle. “Class, welcome to the Elder class. Lesson one: reason and logic are your friends. Let us reacquaint ourselves with them, shall we? Please step outside so that we might refresh ourselves and being our quest anew tomorrow.”
“I will NEVER relinquish this POWER!” Valeriuskane roared. He spun, pointed at the fortress doors, and, with a wave of his hands, slammed them shut.
Five sabers prevented the darkness from being absolute. Two more sprung to life, their purple glow glinting off their master's bulbous eyes. “Lesson two: when you decide to unfriend reason and logic, you had better be prepared for their replacements: chaos and insanity.”
The force flowed through Vynn like electricity. It was pure unadulterated power. His skin felt like it was on fire and his mind raced with flow of power he now had. It was a power he had coveted his entire life. With this he could conquer the system and set up his own empire. No longer would he be forced to take orders from the Iron Throne. He would fight his battles on his terms. All that stood between him and infinite power was the five members of his team.
He knew they could feel the power in these ruins too. Power however was not something to share. As the members stood in the dark he knew no one wanted to flinch. Now was the time to seize their place in the galaxy. Each member of the team was cascaded in the multicolored lights emanating from the sabers held up in defensive stances. It was a Sullustan Standoff at its finest. Each wanted to take the power they now felt as their own. Yet somewhere deep down each was reluctant to strike out first.
Playing the situation out in his mind Vynn could see the order they would fall in. Valeriuskane would go first, falling to the Mon Calamari and his dual blades, followed by Ood at the hands of both Skye and Incendus. He himself would be next; Skye would kill him by stabbing her saber in his back as he tried to kill the Dark Jedi Master. In the end they would all die. All it needed was a catalyst, something to start the Brawl.
Instead Vynn stepped back and deactivated his saber fading into the darkness.
The surge of power crashing through Valeriuskanes skull was the most intense pain and the sweetest caress he had ever felt. Being still young and modestly under-trained thus far in his journey with the Dark Side, he could do nothing but surrender to it's call to arms. The scene before him was much like a dream as though he was viewing the scene not as himself but as a third party removed from the group and standing alone cloaked in shadows. Of course this came with the added draw back of having lost some control over motor control of his body. He was aware of the sabers ignited around the room but was not quite sure how, when or why he had ignited his own feeble weapon. It became slowly apparent that the others in this little group of barely contained volatility were experiencing this surge of power in a much different way, as though they basked in its rawness and relished the berserker state it put them in momentarily.
Very slowly cognition came to Valeriuskane and he rapidly assessed his probability of survival should he choose to engage his fellow squad mates. Ultimately his chances for survival were near zero unless he simply ran to regroup and ascertain how best to use this new found power to gain the upper hand. Unfortunately his body was still not cooperating and he had actually already lunged ahead, wildly stabbing his light saber towards the imposing figure of Dark Jedi Master Trouttrooper. There was a hiss and the crackling of energy being released as the sabers collided with horrific force. The Dark Jedi Master seemed perplexed by the fact that a mere Acolyte was currently inexplicably matching his own colossal strength, no doubt due to the augmentation in force abilities when they entered the area.
One of the little group it seemed had taken advantage of the distraction and has disappeared into the shadows, Vynn seemed to be missing from the fray. the remaining three in the group were taken aback by Valerisukane's brutal yet reckless attack for a split second and then decided to take advantage of the distraction of the Master, temporary though it may be. Skye, Ood Bnar and Incendus began to lunge towards the Dark Master as well but it was already too late for them all. The Mon Calamari stepped back with his right foot while still engaging the blade of the foolish Acolyte and with one deft motion summoned the power of the dark side to his right hand and unleashed a Force Push that knocked all four would be combatants across the room and scattered them like so much straw in the wind. Sent sprawling and barely dazed by the unexpected move, they slowly began to pick themselves up from where they were so violently thrown seconds before.
Vynn felt this was his chance and he could strike down a Dark Jedi Master so easily as he crept behind the Dark Master and readied his blade for what he felt certain would be a killing blow, but before the blade could descend the big purple and orange fish seemed to just vanish. Trouttrooper smiled coldly to himself from the darkness of his concealment spell, now he may be able to finish them off one by one and save some strength for whatever it was that surely lay ahead waiting in the ruins. He thought to himself, "Well I guess I could just knock them all out and see if some sleep helps temper their rage and volatility. What is a Dark Master to do?"
Acolyte Valeriuskane - #12773
Skye felt the voices on the edge of her subconscious tempting her to attack the Dark Jedi Master in front of her. Her borrowed lightsaber held tightly in her grasp the blue blade glinted in the darkness, her green eyes turned teal. Yet she stood back, watching the others in the group waiting for them to make a move first. She hadn’t gotten where she was by acting without thought, however she misjudged the voices compelling taunt in her head.
Without thinking she lunged at the Dark Jedi Master, her blade held high only to be stopped by a hard energy of the dark side of the Force sent her catapulting backwards. She landed with a hard thud against the ground. Her breath wretched from her chest, she groaned as she took shallow gasps trying to get the bones to expand again. Certain she was that several were cracked, but she had no time to investigate further.
The group was falling to the shallow promises of voices long dead and would further slide towards more chaos. She slowly righted herself and called her fallen lightsaber to her grasp, the blade extinguished as it had fallen from her grasp…she was thankful for that feature that the original owner had built into the device. She clipped it to her belt, her eyes seeking out Trouttrooper.
Skye came back to her feet, her eyes locked with the Mon Cals, her hands held in front of her in a peaceful fashion. She quickly looked at the rest of the group, they stood patient watching her moves.
“We cant be fighting this way, we need to work together to get through there to get what lies inside to help better Arcona.” Skye spoke crisply, she was easily the youngest on the team and they knew that however her age did not make her a door mat unable to make her own decisions. “We can settle any spat after we get through there. If they are already talk to us and we are barely on their door step imagine what the voices will be like once we open the door. We are about to piss off some long dead Sith…they wont be happy.”
The Exarch looked at each member in the eye once, she waited her hands not moving for the attack that would come if her words did not have their desired effect.
An absolute cacophony of voices echoed around inside the Neti’s mind, yelling suggestions, ideas and tactics. While these hundreds of voices vied for attention, a table stood in their midst. Nine chairs surrounded the table, each with their own, distinct voice. These voices held sway inside the fractured mind of the Epis. ‘Hatred’ and ‘Rage’ ordered the limbs to move, swathing a yellow blade around; ‘Fear’ sat in silence, rocking back and forth while ‘Madness’ and his sister ‘Paranoia’ jubilantly drank in the rising darkness. Two seats stood vacant, as ‘Logic’ and ‘Reason’ lay forgotten in a distant corner; ‘Greed’ easily keeping them from interfering too much. At the head of the table, ‘Knowledge’ remained silent, content to watch his brethren play …
It is not hard for a mind to shatter, all it takes is just enough trauma or shock. In Ood’s case, he had avoided it for a long time. As he felt the psychic shock that were the purges approach, he had hidden. Once the Ysalamir had been removed, though, the shockwave had hit him. Every death, every piece of suffering that occurred between the years of 19 BBY and 20 ABY washed over him like a violent, unexpected wave.
Why had the blades stopped moving? Why was nobody attacking anymore? Had they realised it was futile to try and oppose him? No wait! The horned female was speaking.
“We can’t be fighting this way, we need to work together to get through there to get what lies inside to help better Arcona.”
Should he listen? A small, rarely heard voice managed to reach above the cacophony and address ‘Knowledge’ directly. ‘Loyalty’ hadn’t attempted to be heard in years, thus ‘Knowledge’ listened, shocked that the former tenth of their number had decided to make it’s point known.
Making up his mind, he sent a quick look towards ‘Greed’ to release his prisoners. The cacophony quieted down from an all-consuming roar to a level of background chatter that was the usual standard.
A simple nod towards the Exarch was the only outward sign the old Krath gave to display his agreement. Realising his blade was still in his hand, the Neti quickly de-activated it and replaced it on his belt, beside the other blade already there.
"where did he go?" muttered Incendus. The new knight could feel the power of the temple not only inside him, but around him. It cloaked him. Don't do this, you aren't strong enough, said his conscience but it was too late. His body and his mind seemed to have separated themselves by a chasm of rage. He raised his lightsaber. He could sense the presence of the Dark Jedi Master, though normally his ability was nothing compared to what he was feeling now. As he flurried his blade in preparation to attack, he saw Ood lunge forward, at which point to purple blades ejected, blocking the Neti master's yellow blades before grabbing onto one of his branches and shooting a jolt of electricity from his hands. When Ood realized he was on fire, he let out a deep, hollowed scream as he fell to the ground, rolling in a pitiful attempt to put out the flames. Vynn Salm then reattempted his attack, flying forward towards the Mon Cal. He was sent flying back, and Troutrooper started pacing towards Incendus.
"So, when do you plan to attacking me again?" said Troutrooper.
"I don't," said Incendus as he turned off his lightsaber. "I just watched you take out Ood like that. I don't want that to happen to me." Some way, somehow, the Knight was able to come to his senses and analize the current situation.
"Hmm...You were able to resist the temple's effect at some point. That's interesting." replied the Mon Cal. Suddenly, the three younger Arconans dashed forward, closing in on the Dark Jedi Master. "Incendus, close your eyes."
A blinding flash of light illuminated the room for a moment, and it was gone. All of the Dark Jedi besides Troutrooper and Incendus lay on the ground. Incendus stood in awe, his thoughts interrupted by the voice of the Dark Jedi Master.
"You're going to have to help me carry them outside."
Snow fell gently from the night’s sky as Vynn slowly opened his eyes. Looking up into the darkness it appeared almost like being in hyperspace. The snow fell heavily and as he regained his senses he felt bitterly cold. Memories of the earlier events began to flood his mind. The last thing he remembered was slipping in quietly behind the esteemed Dark Master accompanying the team. He shuddered as he thought about how he had raised his deep blue blade high into the air and started bringing it down swiftly into the back of his friend. Trouty! He screamed in his mind, or at least he thought it was.
“I’m here,” the calm voice he knew to be Troutrooper answered, “the rest are already awake. Your weapons are here beside me though. I’m apt to keep them until you prove you’re in your right mind again.”
“What happened in there?” Asked the Templar.
“The spirits of the dark lords die slow deaths. They sought out the weaker and enticed them with power. By turning us on ourselves they eliminate us without even lifting a finger. It was quite proficient if I say so myself.”
“I prefer enemies I can meet with a blade in my hands. How do we get past them or orders were to take these ruins or die trying I just don’t want it to be the second.”
“Yeah we all want that.” Skye quipped.
“I will teach you some trick to thwart and shield your mind from them. Come let me show you.” The Krath motioned for him to join him and they spent the remaining hours until daybreak going over the techniques. Once the team felt secure in their abilities and more importantly the Elder Mon Calamari felt secure they were once again poised at the gates. Vynn Grabbed his helmet off the ground and put it one. He reached down with his hand and wrapped it around his Light saber.
“Let’s do this.” said Incendus as Ood used the Force to open the doors again.
As he watched the doors swing open for the second time in a day, the Zabrak Acolyte could feel a tingle, akin to a chill, run down his spine.
"So exactly how the hell am I supposed to keep from going insane again?" The question was general and not really directed at anyone in particular.
"Don't worry, if you lose control again I guess I will just incapacitate you....again." quipped Trouttrooper.
Complete loss of control was not something Valeriuskane was used to, he prided himself on being able to keep his cool even when he was blinded by rage or unadulterated hatred. He turned to the Mon Cal and found not the disdain he had expected but a look of unusual understanding and reassurance. He was startled from his momentary day dream by a light touch on his elbow leading him slightly away from the group. The lightness and strength of the touch made it apparent in his mind whom this was. The two stopped a few meters from the rest of the group and as expected he found himself face to face with the deep green eyes of the female Zabrak in the party, Skye. Looking into her eyes he felt a sense of ease and comfort.
"Try to focus your mind on the strongest image of your most cherished loved one, or perhaps most serene battle frenzy when you felt as though control of yourself was effortless and automatic. If you can focus hard enough then the mind control of the dead Sith Lords who are trying to rip apart your mind with raw uncontrollable power will seem less absolute and you will have at least some control of yourself and your actions." She turned on her heel and lithely slipped back to the group giving the young Acolyte time to think on what he had just been told. Since he was not fond of the idea of ending impaled on the end of a Dark Jedi Masters lightsaber, or anyone elses for that matter, he knew he better get it together.
"Valeriuskane get your big red ass back over here." barked Incendus.
With the group now as ready as they could be, they plunged back into the madness of the power within the ruins. He could sense the calm that all others but himself somehow felt against this unseen and overwhelming obstacle. Resolving themselves to the task ahead for the good of the clan they proceeded into the unknown. The fortress of Ludo Kressh had lay in wait for those brash enough to attempt its' plunder for centuries and now it was apparent why few even knew of it's existence. The insistence to leave the team behind and grasp the glory just ahead was a cacophony in each members mind, one they had to push back with the internal thought, Arcona Invicta. Without hesitation the group somehow managed to make it past the entrance chamber and through a large set of very ornate doors at the far end of what seemed like a giant gathering hall for Sith of the past. Infused with the rush of Dark Side power it was no wonder that even the Acolyte could easily move these giant five ton doors with ease and the wave of a hand. The Sith who had been here before them, and died here, were formidable indeed to posses such immense power.
As the the group followed a long corridor with intricately detailed frescoes lining each wall depicting past battles and victories for the Sith Empire, they were brought out of their reverie by a piercing scream from ahead. Further down the corridor a light began to grow and approach the now alert Brotherhood team. A figure began to emerge as it closed on the party until they could make out the uniform and insignia of a member of the Black Sun. The same insignia had appeared on the clothing of the corpses they had left in their wake during the long and arduous journey to get here. The figure seemed to not register the presence of any but himself in the corridor and ran as though being chased by death itself looking pale as a force apparition.
Ood commented, "So who wants to keep walking down the creepy dark tunnel in the fortress first?"
The gaping maw of the fortress before them. Looming shadows attempting to grab hold of their extremities …
At least, Ood realised, that would be how it would be written down. Well, if they survived to complete their mission that is.
“So, who wants to keep walking down the creepy dark tunnel in the fortress first?” the Neti’s deadpan comment made even the Mon Calamari turn to look at who had uttered those words, “Well, it’s true isn’t it? I’m all for etiquette, thus I’ll hospitably let you lot go first. I think I’ll bring up the rear”.
As the Neti moved towards the back of the group, a sound ended the silence. The sound of Troutrooper’s flipper hitting his own forehead echoed into the tunnel and seemed to be having great fun bouncing off walls and amplifying itself inside the fortress. “Well, now that we apparently rang the doorbell, we should probably head on inside.” Having said this, the Dark Jedi Master started down the tunnel at a brisk pace, “Come on little ones! There’s fun to be had in there … I hope.”
Slowly the others followed the senior ranking Krath into the dark. As in the distance, sounds of footfalls on stone began to echo down the tunnel. Seemingly unable to stand such background noise, the Epis decided to liven up the atmosphere. “So, you have to admit though. They don’t make creepy fortresses like these anymore. No sir, that’s quite the lost art in and of itself. I wonder why that is though, did the dark and evil masterminds just decide they didn’t want to walk through endless corridors full of rather tacky artwork? Or was there a shortage on dark spectres willing to haunt such places and did it go out of fashion due to that? Because, you have to admit. A place like this without a nice phantom, would really not fetch the same price on the Galactic market for evil lairs then a haunted one …”
A small tendril of lightning, originating at the front of the group, silenced the senior Equite quite aptly. As the last echoing sounds of the nervous rant left the group. They trudged onwards into the fortress.
The shadows on the walls of the dark tunnel crept by as the Dark Jedi trudged on towards their destination. A few times, they team had the odd feeling that they were being followed, but they just brushed it away, as if it was nothing. They just wanted to hurry up and get the job done. For a while it was silent, until the team heard an odd, hollow sound that echoed through the tunnel.
"Val, that's disgusting," said Incendus.
"Hey, that was Vynn," replied Valeriuskane.
"Nah, it wasn't me," said Vynn.
"I get the feeling that it wasn't any of us," cut-in Troutrooper. "It seemed to be coming from further into the tunnel."
"You're just saying that, Trouty," quipped Incendus. "I bet it was you."
"Guys, there isn't time for this," said Skye. "Whatever that was, we're likely to find out later. Now let's keep walking."
The rest of the team nodded in strained agreement and returned to their original course. As they continued walking, they heard the sound a few more times, continuing to get louder as the progressed. At some point, a few levitating shadows moved passed the team. Not a word was said. They didn't even seem to take notice of the Dark Jedi.
"Disembodied souls," said Troutrooper. "tsk tsk tsk... Usually they're found at sites where massive amounts of people have been killed. Well, guys and girl, we seem to be walking into something big. At this time, it's really important that we are focused and ready for anything."
"I'd like to mess around with these spirits for just a moment," said Incendus, allowing his blade to be released. "It's kind of a creepy yet interesting circumstance that I get to see ghosts in a Sith temple. This, my friends, is the opportunity of a lifetime," he finished, as he paced towards one of the ghosts.
"Cend, I wouldn't suggest doing that," said Ood. "We don't know what could happen."
"What? They're dead," replied Incendus as he waved his lightsaber through the Sith spirit. The spectre replied by dashing through Incendus, letting out a loud screaming sound. Everything stopped. The rest of the team just stood there, watching the Zabrak, as if waiting for a possessed Dark Jedi to lunge at one of them.
He just turned around, eyes widened. "I didn't expect that to happen."
Skye looked at the man with a look of disbelief.
"Expect what to happen?" the teen asked in an exasperated tone. She was the youngest one of them but compared to a few of them she was mature then they were. "I mean you did put your lightsaber through some poor sods spirit...they don’t really like that when you do it..."
The youth’s thought was drowned out as a noise was heard behind them, at once they all turned around and looked behind them. Nothing.
Skye felt the air chill as darkness loomed over the group; it nearly blinded them they could just barely make out each other shadows. The Exarch reached for her lightsaber, the sapphire blade dulled considerable.
A dull constant keening noise filled her ears as if thousands of years of pain was being echoed through the halls. Behind her she heard the voice the Trouttrooper cut through the darkness, his voice strained.
“Move it now, we need to escape this cloud.”
Skye turned quickly on her heel; she heard the others around her rather than see them. The dark mist was getting thicker and thicker as more filled the area around them. The thicker the mist grew the louder and more painful the keening noise got.
She felt the darkness fill her body and mind, almost as if she couldn’t get away from it. Her body wanted to run to get away from it. After several minutes of running down the tunnel, the mist thinned until it was completely gone. The young female looked at the others of her team and let out a deep breath.
“This just a lot more interesting...Whatever is here I think we just woke up.” She looked behind her and it was dark.
The group caught their breath, winded from outrunning the spirits. Skye did a quick headcount and nodded. “We're good.”
Valeriuskane eyes were as big as a Hutt's. “What was that?”
Vynn wiped sweat from his brow. “More importantly, where are we?”
Cend's chest heaved. “Most importantly, are we out of harm's way?”
Troutrooper shook his bulbous head, panting. “You're a Dark Jedi. You and harm are either striding hand-in-hand towards an unsuspecting third party, or you and harm will soon collide. Try to be in the former situation more than the latter.” He closed his eyes and stretched out.
“Master,” Skye asked, “what do you feel?”
She nodded. “So the danger has passed?”
“No...Ugh! Ahhh,” he said, arms flopping back to his sides. “Nope, a little tightness. This fish isn't as spry as he once was, which, honestly, wasn't spry at all.” Displeased faces replied his jocularity. “Bad timing, I know. What that was, I'm unsure. My best guess is, those are the spirits of the Black Sun members who served as the fortress's inner sanctum's welcome mat.”
Vynn frowned. “Tell us something we don't know.”
“How about two somethings?” The Dark Jedi Master held up a flipper with two fingers raised. “One, those spirits were enticed from the bodies. They were extracted, rent from their fleshy homes while they still had pulses.”
“They were alive when their souls were 'extracted'?” Valeriuskane's eyes stayed Hutt-like.
“Yup. You can tell because saber waving still frightens them. They still think that they're flesh and bone, that they can be harmed through physical attack. Takes a while for such spirits to adjust.”
“Great,” Vynn said with as much sarcasm as he could infuse into a monosyllabic response. “What's the other thing?”
“Well, there's a lot of them around, so I assume the Black Sun sent a sizable force to secure the fortress. Since they're all dead, I assume whatever killed them is a force not to be taken lightly.”
“Neither are we! We've made it this far without anyone dying and no one going insane!” The Acolyte pumped his fist.
“I'm getting there...” Ood mumbled.
“True, but I would note that this force, person, emancipated spirit, whatever also imbued y'all with Master-level powers for a moment. That's a skill not even our Grand Masters have. Plus, he knows who we are. We don't know who or what awaits us.” Troutrooper shrugged. “We'll find out soon enough.”
...and there were many dead Black Sun within the fortress. The corpses of the fallen mercenaries groaned as their bodies attempted to rise once again. Vertebrae snapped and joints popped as the newly formed undead army rose.
Troutrooper could sense them all. Spirits ripped from the living, reanimated corpses, and the source of this power still roamed the halls of Ludo Kressh's fortress.
The Mon Cal shook his bulbous head.
I should have stayed retired.
The team drew their weapons in anticipation of the coming fight. Everyone felt the change in the temple. It seemed somehow even colder than it had been. The specters of the dead had also vanished. Vynn was the first to spot one of the enemies though it took him a few moments to figure out exactly what they were up against. It seemed to stumble around the corner and with a slow deliberate gait moved forward. Its uniform was that of a Black Sun member with the familiar insignia upon the upper left chest of his armor.
A sudden flash of lighting flowed from the leathery flipper of Troutrooper. It hit the new combatant and began to course throughout his body. The stench of burning flesh filled the room. Yet instead of convulsing on the ground like most everyone Vynn had seen struck by such a powerful volley of Force induced Lightening the man kept walking.
It was the Neti that acted next using the force to hurtle the abomination into the wall. Bones could be heard breaking with the force of the blow. From down the corridor the shuffling of feet could be heard and soon more of the creatures appeared from around the corner. Vynn looked toward the crumbled form on the ground and watched it start to pick itself back up off the ground. Taking his saber Vynn used a vicious slash to separate the creatures head from the rest of its body.
“I got a bad feeling about this!” Stated Vynn
The Dark Jedi Master frowned. “I guess that doesn't work on the reanimated. Good to know. I mean, good to know for the future provided we escape this fortress of fright.”
“You know,” Incendus remarked as he decapitated a pair of walking corpses, “I think they're lonely. All they want to do is hug us. Look at them: plodding towards us, arms outstretched, eyes glazed over. They love us!”
“Perhaps,” Ood replied, splitting the skull of another, “but we don't want to be friends with them.”
“Who doesn't want undead friends!” The acolyte shouted above the moaning and fighting.
Skye cut down a corpse then leapt back behind the line. “That's it! Undead friends!”
Troutrooper Force Pushed a pile of corpses away only to see them reconfigure themselves and re-engage combat. “We're a little busy with wisecracking and unliving mayhem to interpret in-jokes, Skye. Exposition, please.”
“I have undead friends. Well, not friends, but my wraiths. I'll need a few moments to conjure them. If you don't mind, please keep them occupied so I can give them something with which to be occupied.” She sat down and began chanting.
“I have no idea what she just said,” Valeriuskane chuckled.
“She said, keep fighting until you see ghosts.” Vynn sidestepped a clumsy punch and lopped off the attacker's arm and head in one smooth stroke.
“If you don't keep fighting, it'll be your ghost. Now shut up and keep the monstrosities off her.”
“Acolyte, focus!” Troutrooper's admonishment silenced Valeriuskane. The men held their line, protecting the group's chanting female. Skye channeled the Dark Side that permeated the room, that infused the corpses with life unreal, and funneled it into her phantasmal creations.
After a couple minutes, three ephemeral forms floated past the defenders' line and effervescently glided among the undead. The mindless wanderers slowed and turned, following the feminine wraiths around the room.
Troutrooper wiped his clammy brow. “Excellent work, Skye. Very clever.”
Valeriuskane raised his hand.
“So, uh, what now? We've got them rounded up, but she can't maintain those wraiths forever.”
“Well, cutting them into pieces doesn’t seem to work … perhaps we should try blunt force trauma instead …”, having said his say, the Neti moved to the side of the corridor and picked up a durasteel bar, attached to a small block of permacrete, “Trouty? I was wondering. When I was last in your office on Lyspair to discuss those new course ideas … you were wearing your Ruby Sceptre on your belt. Do you have it on you now? It would make a rather lovely mace to bash in those skulls that come too close to you.”
Slowly the group made their way towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Before them, the tunnel opened into a large ornamentally decorated entry hall. Statues of Ludo Kressh in various poses lined the room, tall enough to support the massive stone ceiling roughly three floors higher. Light fell onto the group, cast from within alcoves that lined the walkways surrounding the room. The Epis grinned, this was worth a research paper for the Academy. Also, his theory was now confirmed: Ancient Sith artists did have a rebellious streak! Why else would they have given Kressh a simian appearance?
“It’s too quiet guys? Where are all those moaning zombies? Also, very clean isn’t it? I’d have expected there to be ancient skeletons, spider webs, zombie ooze on the floor. Perhaps even some eerie music playing over the intercom …” the Neti mumbled, “This is incredibly disappointing. And odd, did Kressh bestow his janitor with sorcery induced immortality? Also, those lights. That flickering means it’s candles, who lights those? Better yet, who’s been replacing them anyw… YEOUWCH!”
Lowering his hand once the electricity had hit the Equite, Troutrooper grinned grimly, “You really like the sound of your own voice don’t you Treeman? You have a point though; we’re missing something here. Keep your eyes open guys, something isn’t right here.”
“Way to be creepy dude!” the words sailed from the Knight’s lips before he could stop himself. Oh god, did I just say that to a Dark Jedi Master?
As the thought sailed through the relatively unprotected mind of the Knight, the Neti snorted. Looking towards the Elder, Ood realised Troutrooper knew he was listening in. Quickly cutting his connection to the lower members of the group, the Epis started moving further into the chamber.
Skye felt sweat form on her brow as she concentrated on keeping her wraiths up. The voices of her companions more a static in the background than something she was trying to focus on. One thing she knew for sure when they got back home she would go to take a long vacation. The inside of this temple felt like a cruel sick joke the One Sith were playing on them. This young Zabrak hated jokes.
She felt her concentration slip slightly as she heard silence around her causing the wraiths to disappear completely. She turned to look at her companions and glared at them.
“It’s your fault. All your guys bickering caused my attention to slip.” Skye looked around and crinkled her nose. “Where is everything…also the undead…are probably coming back.”
Suddenly a loud behind one of the statues caused the group to jump, a large undead was coming out from behind it. Similar to a giant spider like creature, it looked right at the group and hissed.
“Well…that was unexpected.” One of the guys said.
“Really? You mean not all giant spooky temples have giant undead spiders emerge behind a giant statue?” Skye shook her head and frowned, muttering under her breath a single word. “Men.”
“Erm I think we should solve the more important problem of the giant spider coming at us before we start bickering again.” Trouttrooper wiped his brow again. “It looks pretty hungry.”
“No duh sherlok” Vynn spat as he stepped closer towards the one next to him.
“Well…this out to be fun.”
The creature shrieked again as it moved closer to the team. The members fanned out in a wide arc trying to find different angles to attack it from. It large head held a dozen eyes and fangs easily as tall as Vynn himself was. A strange glowing liquid dripped from its mouth and even through his helmet the Templar smelled the stench of its breath.
Sabers drawn the team started to attack as a unit. Striking at the creature then backing away. It was remarkably agile and though numerous strikes landed home it did not phase the creature. Vynn narrowly dodged one of the large legs that came down trying to pin him to the ground. He watched as the Mon Calamari deftly weaved in and out of the creatures attacks never even seeming to break a sweat.
Sky and the Neti were backed off a little more using various Force techniques to both help the other members of the team as well as slow down the Creature they now faced. Sweat poured off Vynn as he tried to close in enough to deliver a blow to the torso of the beast. It was to no avail every time there appeared to be an opening the creature closed it off as quickly as it appears.
“We need to get someone on top of the damned thing to strike at its back, any volunteers?” Vynn yelled.
“Well it is your idea.” Cried out the Dark Jedi Master
“Then figure out how I’m supposed to get up there.”
“Err guys, wouldn’t the exo-skeleton protect it? If I recall, don’t most critters have a weakness in the belly? Why else would the spider show it’s back but guard the underside?”, as the Neti realised the focus on him he turned towards the others, “Don’t look so surprised! I’ve taught Alchemy in the Academy for years. You wouldn’t believe what exam submissions get turned in under the misnomer of enhanced beast. I’m glad Sanguinius got assigned that course, every time we had exams I ended up fighting badly constructed Sith wyrms in my office! … Ugh, tangeant! Skye, go left, I go right. Trouty? Keep it focussed on you!” Turning towards the others the Epis sighed, “Knight, Acolyte, stay with Master Troutrooper and help … just don’t run into any lightning he tosses around okay?”
“What do I do?” Vynn asked, seeing the others get assigned tasks. “Kid, Skye and myself are going to lob off at least two of it’s legs on each side. Trouty is going to flip it over and you’re going to either Force Leap or be thrown at it, saber first. Am for the kinks in the armour, just follow the line formed by the legs and see where those lines would intersect if they didn’t stop.” Turning around, Ood asked if everyone understood their tasks before moving to the right side of the creature, “hmm, probably should have told them that no plan survives the encounter with the enemy!” the former professor of Tactics muttered to himself once he was out of earshot.
With a shriek, the creature moved to attack the larger group of opponents before it, faceted eyes taking in it’s surroundings while it’s Dark Side enhancements gave it indications that the soft fishlike being before it was it’s most dangerous opponent …
Troutrooper met the spider's stare, two bulbous eyes focused on two sets of faceted eyes. The fish blinked first. “Hold up a second. Status report. We've got a giant spider in front of us. Valeriuskane, what's behind us?”
“A bunch of reanimated corpses.”
“Copy that. Cend, what's to our right?”
“Uh, a wall?”
“Good to see you're still paying attention. Vynn, what's to our left?”
“Love the enthusiasm. No-Dog Barkman, what's beneath us?”
“I would say tile, but, considering the amount of blood on it—both ours and the undead corpses'—I think I shall say...Hmmm...”
“Answer now please.”
“Good enough. Skye, what's above us?”
The Zabrak cocked her horned head. “Did you really make us do a status report just to make a stupid pun on my name?”
She sighed as the boys chuckled. “Y'all are a bunch of dumbshits, I hope you know that. The ceiling is above us. So sayeth Skye. Now could we please kill this monstrosity?”
Troutrooper raised a flipper. “Hold on a moment.”
“We don't have a moment,” the Acolyte said, watching the stumbling horrors approach.
“The best things come to those who wait.”
Even Ood was getting perturbed. “Now is not the time for trite sayings, fishy.”
“Class, I have another lesson.”
“Really, TT, now is not the time!” Vynn's saber shook.
“Truly, some of life's greatest pleasures—“
Incendus burned with anxiety. “Trouty! We need to attack! Now!”
“—can only be savored at an exact moment. Timing is everyth—“
“WILL YOU FUCKING GO ALREADY, YOU POMPOUS BLOWHARD?!”
The douche-y Mon Cal smirked. “There it is. Pure, unadulterated rage. Tasty. Just what I needed.” With a wave of his flipper, the spider somersaulted, its soft underbelly exposed for all to exploit. “Have at it, peeps. Just remember we've got old frenemies coming our way.”
Now that the soft and more vulnerable underbelly of the beast had been exposed it seemed almost certain that this would spell the end for it. The big red male Zabrak could feel the rush of victory, yet then as quickly a chill of fear at the encroaching of a familiar presence became clear. It was the very same feeling that accompanied the mad rush of Dark Side power upon their entrance to the fortress. This time Valeriuskane would be ready to protect his mind.
The spider lay writhing for a few seconds on it's back and it was just long enough for Vynn to gather the Force and use it to launch himself skyward aiming at the exposed fleshy underbelly of the spider. It seemed that he was momentarily suspended in the air, then suddenly hurtling down towards the spiders underbelly saber straight ahead for a stabbing thrust. Just before he made contact the beast seemed to twitch and suddenly slapped Vynn from the air with one of its remaining legs. Quickly it rolled over and seemed to inhale the great cloud of Force they had seen earlier in the halls just before the zombie corpses of Black Sun had begun to chase them. The eyes changed and began to glow a malevolent red as its dripping mandibles parting as though to speak.
"Did you puny Jedi think that I would make things so easy."
"What the hell, did that damn thing just talk." shouted Ood.
"Yes I did speak and I will be your demise. I am Dartan Onath, a former member of the Black Sun, my forces were sent here to capture this place many years ago and I posses power equal to any of your Dark Masters. It was I who attempted to poison your minds with power some of you could not control in hopes I could easily be rid of you without doing the dirty work myself but you have proven more resourceful than I had anticipated. Now I will use this creature to end you all."
Without hesitation the spider wheeled on Troutie and spewed what looked to be an acid from it's mouth, barely missing the quick Mon Cal as he dodged left of it's path. The Dark Master was becoming angry and instinctively released a bolt of force lightning towards the monstrosities face. His aim was true and it crackled across the spiders body and smoke came from a burned patch on it's face where the bolt had hit home. Another fired directly after from a pointed flipper missed as it vaulted into the air to avoid it.
Valeriuskane only had time to think "Oh shit why me." before the beast came crashing over his head knocking him to the ground and forcing the wind from his lungs.
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As the spirit took possession of the spider, it had to refocus. The energies reanimating the corpses left them, being visibly sucked into the spider. As it’s wounds healed, the dead bodies fell apart into dust. “Oh wonderful, now the damn thing’s talking and is that thing growing bigger too?” the Neti wondered aloud, watching as the spider’s head brushed up against the ceiling of the corridor, “Anyone in the mood to move back towards that massive hall so we won’t be ducking strikes at all points?”
As a flipper moved from side to side, gesturing the Arconans back, the Epis smiled. Had he just convinced the Master? Or was this his plan all along? Oh, what he wouldn’t give to just be in his little corner office of the Academy Library, feet into his little nutrient pond, just savouring nature while reading a text written before this planet had been colonised. This ice was getting to him, so little life exuded from the Force. Even to the Dark Side this world was a void like plane…
So why was it keeping him distracted? What was this planet doing to him? Why was he so juvenile? Focussing on benign abstract things over the matter at hand.
Ever since that wave of darkness had hit them, they had been bungling around. Who was this Black Sun boy with powers over the Dark Side? How had a Black Sun minion, of a rank low enough to merit being banished to an icy hell like Rhelg become powerful enough to near the ranks of the Dark Lords? Logic would dictate that if any Force Ghost had set up here, it would have been the original commander … A lieutenant or such serving under Kressh would be a much better suspect for this mess … However, a power of such a level would have been sensed before … Unless he had been too weak to fully manifest … But how did he manage now? Unless that high of darkness they had felt before entering had been a distraction, and the creature was leeching their powers even as they fought …
"So, what now?" asked Incendus, his eyes focused on the monstrosity that the team faced. There was a short pause before the team turned to look at Troutrooper.
"Okay, I'm not sure how this plan is going to...Val, look out!" The squadron's faces turned as they noticed the giant spider soaring at the Zabrak, a second time.
The Dark Jedi jumped to the side, but before he could make it out of the creature's range.
"Val!" Skye pounced toward the spider in an attempt to stab it, but was pulled back by Troutrooper.
"Hold on now, we've got to take a careful approach," said Ood. "Valeriuskane will be alright."
"NO THE HELL I WON'T!" yelled the acolyte, who seemed to be being crushed. "WHATEVER YOU DECIDE TO DO, MAKE IT FAST, OR YOU'll HAVE TO DEAL WITH MY FORCE GHOST NEXT!!!"
"Oh, shut your damn mouth, we'll be as fast as I can," replied Ood.
Thoughts were rushing through Incendus' head as the young Knight saw what was happening before him. Do I try to kill it myself? No....If I just let Val die, I'll have one less to compete with...But, Val is my friend...Or is he?
"You might want to go get your head looked at, Cend." Incendus looked up to see Troutrooper's raised eyebrow.
"Well, what are we going to do?" asked the Zabrak. "Val is getting crushed under a giant spider, and we have made no attempt to approach the situation. We need to do something, and fast."
"I don't know, your thoughts seem to speak differently," replied the Mon Cal. "You won't have to worry about us, at least you'll have each other."
"WHY THE HELL DOES THIS THING SEEM TO BE ATTRACTED TO ME?!!!" yelled Val. "KNOCKED DOWN, TWICE! HURRY UP DUMBASSES!!!"
"Well it seems as though the big dumb red one will be our first meal."
Val could smell the stench of the icor coming from the spiders mandibles. Just as it turned to try and snap at his head, Troutie let out a bolt of force lightning catching it again square in the face. Now that it had healed it seemed like this would never end. Somehow the male Zabrak managed to gather his thoughts and focus his rage enough to get his lightsaber to his hand. In a flash of speed that was uncommon for the big guy, he ignited the saber and lopped off one of the legs attempting to crush him, severing it about half way up and catching the thing off guard.
Once again Skye lurched towards the creature with her own saber only to see it flinch when she accidentally feigned towards his eyes.
"Hey guys I think it may be sensitive to light if it is up close to it's eyes." she yelled.
"Ok then here comes the light show, cover your damn eyes people." It was Incendus, what the hell was he planning? He raised his hand and focused his mind to create a huge ball of light right in front of the things face, then in an instant it exploded into a force flash of sorts. The spider let out an ear piercing scream as it was momentarily blinded by the tactic.
Only one of their group had noticed they had managed to lead this fray back to the large open hall from earlier with the jumble of statues and pillars, some broken in half and weighing many tons each.
"I got it, take out all of it's legs right now." It was Ood who had an idea of how to use one of those massive chunks of rock to their advantage and finally end this fight once and for all.
Moving almost as one body, the five dark jedi moved in for the kill. Trouttrooper force leapt to the front of the face and lopped off the two front left legs, Incendus flanked to it's right and took out the second one from the front, behind the one that Valeriuskane had been lucky enough to sever moments before. Skye used her agility and grace to slide behind and to the left, bringing her saber across in a wicked slash taking out the two remaining legs on the left and causing the creature to flop to that side. As it fell and attempted to right itself with its only two remaining appendages on the right side, Vynn was there, a wicked smile on his face as his saber arced out and neatly cleaved the last two legs remaining.
"MOVE NOW!" shouted Ood who had been focusing his energy moving a giant broken piece of one of the pillars that was strewn on the floor of the hall directly above the body of the giant spider, then releasing it and hearing the sickening and wonderful crunch as it crushed the hard carapace of the spider, pinning it to the floor for a short time.
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"You're not finished yet." The voice seemed to originate from the spider.
Suddenly, a large red ball of energy started originated in the middle of the corridor, quickly expanding. In a sudden burst, it shrunk, seemingly bringing the entire room with it.
"I can't see anything....What's going on?" said Incendus.
"He...or it...Seems to have one, blinded us all, or two, turned off all of the lights," said Troutrooper.
"If it touches me anywhere, I'm yelling rape," replied Incendus, who was trying to feel his way around the room.
"Guys, I think that I might have found the damn thing," said Ood, ejecting his lightsaber. "Give me a minute."
"Ood, hold up!" said Skye. "It's me!"
"Can you see anything?" asked the tree-man.
"No, but I can here you, and I don't plan on being chopped up."
"Hey, if we chopped up Trouty, would he be considered sushi?" asked Val in a struggling voice. "I'm pretty hungry."
"Don't you dare try anything, or Zabrak stew will be my new specialty." said the Mon Cal.
"Remind me not to cross you, Trouty," said Incendus. "I don't want to be a cannibal."
"Guys, what will we be doing tonight? I'd rather eat than be eaten," said Skye.
"Well, either we're blinded, or the room's light is gone." said Incendus. "We might as well look for a light switch."
"Screw that." said Troutrooper. "I'll handle this."
"What do you plan on doing?" asked Skye, right before the lights came on. "Okay, then what did you do?"
"I hit the light switch." replied the Mon Cal.
"But I thought you said screw...Never mind," said Skye.
"Well, it doesn't seem that our spider friend happens to be here anymore," said Incendus. "But if the lights were turned off by a switch, then what was that red ball?"
"Perhaps it was telepathy that turned off the switch, and the red ball served another purpose... wait a minute. Incendus, what's that beside your feet?" asked Ood.
Incendus looked down to notice a slimy green substance, and then saw another small amount drop into that puddle. Slowly, he raised his head up to the ceiling.
Incendus looked up at the tall ceiling and noted a giant green slime puddle above his head one drop came down and hit him square in the head. “I think I found the spider.”
“Ew.” The young female Zabrak face scrunched up in disgust. “You might want to take a shower to get the spider guts from off your head.”
“You think?!” Incendus looked at the Exarch and glared at her obvious statement. “Thanks captain obvious.”
“No problem.” She grinned at the young man and then looked around once more. “So...we were promised riches. Where are said riches?
“Over here guys!” Trouttrooper’s voice came from the far corner of the room behind the statue that the giant spider came from behind. “I think I found the riches…I hope..i don’t want to go farther into the temple. I mean undead…giant spiders…what could be next a machete wielding clown zombie?”
Skye suppressed a giggle as she stepped next to the Dark Jedi Master, “You never know what is around the next corner.
“I don’t want to find out.” There was a murmur of agreement from the team as they looked into the room that they had found, inside while it wasn’t much could be considered riches. Forgotten swords, some tapestries, various rotting droids of unknown make or model and some other knick-knacks, however the Force tugged them all towards on particular object it was a small holorecorder however it was not a normal one, it was covered in the taint of the dark side.
“The dark council might want to see this.” Vynn nodded towards the item.
“Yeah…let’s take that back for them. “ Skye nodded and watched as Trouttrooper picked up the small item. As they all turned and started out of the room, from the far end of the chamber shrouded in darkness a maniacal laughing was heard.
“Sooo who wants to play a game of tag…that thing laughing is it…” Ood spoke up suddenly, looking in the direction the laugh was coming from.
“I sure as hell do not want to meet the thing making it..so im in.” Skye nodded slightly and looked around; the others were nodding their head in agreement.
Without looking back, Skye ran forward, she had had enough of the temple of tricks and doom and from the sounds of it the others did as well.