… have tracked Drayne down to a Sith One Space Station within the Rhelg system. Only blood can pay for blood. Avenge your Journeyman. For the Brotherhood. For Taldryan.
May the Dark Side guide you.
- Wuntila Arconae
Shaz’air Taldrya looked up from the datapad in his hand into the eyes of his Quaestor. “When did we get this message?”
“The message was delivered only a couple of hours ago and has been verified.”
The Exarch’s gaze went back to the pad, except the original message there were two other files saved, a short dossier of the One Sith known as Scyosen Drayne and a special message granting them passage through the Rhelg-System. “Can we trust them?”
“Intelligence copy that there is a space station in the Rhelg system still under control of the One Sith. If Drayne is still within the Rhelg system he will most probably be there and we should take care of the situation as soon as possible.”
“So I guess you want to set an example. Wanna send the Old Folks Home?”
“No, they were currently indisposed, and the Wardens were currently on a special training mission on Taruma. They did a good job during the Krayiss campaign but they still need to grow together.”
“And whom else do you have in mind to come with you then?”
Rian smirked. “You don’t even try to talk me out of this, who are you and what did you do with my Aedile?”
Now a smile crossed the lips of the Miraluka too. “Rian, we know each other for too long now and I know there is nothing I can do to talk you out of this idea, so tell me whom you want to take with you?”
“First Talon comes to my mind. He has proven himself as a good team-player during the Avenger run.”
“True, what about Quejo, the Nautolan?”
“No, but despite Talon I planned to take our Sentinels with me.”
Battle group Vigilance
Hyperspace near Rhelg-System
2 days later
“My Lord we are now entering the Rhelg-System, sensors picking up Arconan signatures.”
“Thank you Admiral Slaxton. Hail their flagship once we are leaving hyperspace.”
“As you wish my Lord. Communications Officer you have heard the Lord Quaestor, open frequencies.”
A few seconds later the unreal tunnel of streaks turned stars, painting the blackness of space with countless dots. “My Lord, the leading Arconan capital ship is the NSD Invicta.”
The Wroonian Quaestor nodded at the Admiral. “NSD Invicta, this is BSD Relentless, requesting passage through the Rhelg-system.”
“Copy Relentless, please hold your position and name the reason for this request.”
“Sir, the Arconan capital ships were steering by, I suggest to raise the shields.” The main tactical officer queried.
“Invicta, we have personal business to do, please feel free to check back with the message we were now sending on a secured frequency.” Rian nodded at the com officer, motioning him to submit the second file attached to the original message he has received from the Arconan Summit two days earlier.
“Receiving transmission, please wait for verification.”
For a brief moment there was silence, none of them exactly knowing what might come next when finally the voice from the other side responded: “Relentless, verification successful, good luck hunting them down. If you need help call us on frequency 113.4.”
“Thank you Invicta, Relentless out.”
“Admiral you know your duties, prep the ship, and Admiral, remember the attack is just to cover our transfer to the station, do not destroy it until I give you the order.”
“Yes my Lord.” The Admiral responded then turned to his com officer. “Alert condition red, all Pilots to the fighters, tell Compulsor and Honor to take position on our flanks. Orthanc and Paragon are to back us up.”
Already on the move the Wroonian Quaestor left the Command deck, his pace almost a run through Relentless’s passages and corridors to the Hangar bay where Talon Drear, who has been briefed on the very detail of their task during the flight, was already waiting for him. The freshly promoted Equite nodded toward the azure skinned Quaestor, who briefly returned the nod before the two of them entered the DX-9 Stormtrooper transport and started the vessel’s engines.
The transports powerful sublight engines surged with smooth acceleration as Talon’s hands moved swiftly over the controls. The Prelate watched his Housemate closely, he was a skilled pilot and of all Taldryanites Rian has worked with so far, the human male with the distinguishing scar on his left thigh was a real asset to the House, having completely succumbed to the motto of Taldryan. Once they had left the hangar, Rian turned his attention to the four gargantuan warriors in the vessel’s compartment.
Force-Sentinels, as they were called, armored and cloaked warriors with almost no personality, serving at the will of the Taldryan Summit and Elders. They neither feel pain nor the fear of failing.
Rian expanded his mind, touching the little of personality in each of their minds, giving them their purpose for the mission until one after another’s red eyes started to gleam. “You know your orders.”
Up in the cockpit Talon couldn’t hide a contemptuous sneer as he veered the transport closer to the One Sith space station through the streaks of Battle group Vigilance’s heavy artillery. The space station was almost the size of the Cardan III stations used by various Clans and Houses of the Brotherhood, including Taldryan. The sneer became a frown as the Templar remembered Rian’s words: Drayne is a berserker. Wild and reckless, he lets his hatred fuel his power. Unpredictable, well versed and surgeon with his lightsaber. He has solely slaughtered a squad of Taldryan journeyman and for that he needed to be punished. Talon felt no fear about facing a powerful enemy, he has already fought along Rian and more fellow Taldryanites during the retake of the Avenger II, he knew about his Quaestors powers as he did about his, but would that be enough for someone like Drayne?
“Are you alright Tally?” Talon felt the warmth of the Wroonian’s hand on his shoulder.
“I am just a bit nervous Rian; you know Drayne must have known that the Brotherhood would track him down, so why did he come out of hiding?”
Rian became silent for a brief moment. He had been considering the very same question himself. “Perhaps he wanted to be found.”
“So this might reveal itself to be a trap we were just up to snap.”
“That’s how this game is played Talon.” The Quaestor responded, clasping on the Templar’s shoulder once more. “Look, Slaxton has obviously been busy,” The Prelate peered through the small viewport. “The station already has sustained reasonable damage.”
The DX-9 wove between gouts of turbo-laser bursts. “See that turret emplacement there.” He said, pointing at a round platform deriving from the rest of the station. “That seems like the perfect place to board.”
Talon nodded tightly.”Slaxton might have been busy but those turrets were still online.”
“Copy, proceed on the set course, I’ll handle the turrets.”
Seating in the Co-pilot’s seat it now were Rian’s hands flying over the controls, activating the transport’s weapons systems. Taking a bead on the first turret, he waited for its targeting computer registered their presence and swiveled to take aim at the DX-9. Then with two precise volleys from their laser cannons, he destroyed the turrets and thus cleared the way for them to attach the transport to the stations hull. The two Taldryanites were on their feet as soon as the magnetic clamps locked the transport in place.
On the Stations command center Scyosen Drayne watched through a view screen as a dozen of One Sith trooper in dark combat uniforms marched into the hallway section where the DX-9 has locked itself against the hull. Smoke and sparks fell from a red-hot line cutting through the reinforced durasteel hull. The trooper approached with their blasters ready to open fire. When the red-hot cutting line vanished the fresh-cut “door” turned into a fierce projectile, scattering their lines temporary. In the next instant the Dark Jedi appeared, charging into the hallway with lightsabers ablaze. The two men worked in unison against their adversaries, anticipating every of their moves. Their blades flashed and stabbed in brilliant bursts of colors. Those with enough will to live retreated. From his point of view Drayne mumbled a curse at the cowards, then popped open a com channel.
“All squads maintain offensive stance. I repeat all squads maintain offensive stance!”
“All squads maintain offensive stance. I repeat all squads maintain offensive stance!” The two Obelisks grinned, following their welcoming committee deeper into the station.
“My Lord, can you hear me?” Slaxton said through the Quaestor’s comlink.
“We have tracked down Draynes position through the stations com system, showing his position to be on the stations command center.”
“Then this should be where we were going.” Rian stepped over the body of a trooper whose arm he has cut at the elbow, following the Admirals guiding level by level up a huge chasm leading to the top of the station. The walls shook from an explosion followed by a series of order that became progressively more alarmed. “Multiple hull breaches located reinforce local security stations immediately!”
“Sector 3-8 damage report!”
“Threat status upgraded, eliminate all unauthorized personnel!”
So the Sentinels have finished their tasks he told himself. No sooner was the Prelate’s thought complete then another shock wave rolled through the structure, only much stronger than the last one. They barely kept their footing on the heaving deck. Slaxton was shouting at him, but it was a moment before the Prelate could hear him over the blaring of the intercom.
“My Lord… we did a lucky shot…the power supply…”
“What did you say?” Rian shouted back into the comlink. “Repeat.”
“Sir, a lucky shot, we have hit the station where it hurts,” the Admiral summarized.”Finish up soon, or the whole station blows up.”
“Copy.” The deck was still moving underfoot as they made their way through the quaking station, guided by the Admiral. “Where did you say this command center was?”
The ambience became noticeably darker by the time they reached the hallway that Slaxton assured them led to the stations command center, coming face-to-face with what must be the One Sith’s apprentices.
The two males were clad in black armor and sported the fierce facial tattoos common to the adherents of the One Sith Tribe. Their lightsabers were drawn and ready, casting a ruby glow over the dimly lit corridor. Clearly their master has dispatched them to guard the doors leading into the command center.
Without hesitation the two apprentices fell on them, the sound of their humming blades echoing off the walls of the hallway. Their attacks, wild and reckless as they were, were basic variations of the Ataru Form.
Their skills were basic, raw and unshaven, nevertheless they were relentless in their attacks, calling on the fury of the Dark Side to move with astonishing speed, but neither of them has mastered the subtle advantages of their chosen combat forms nor were they used to fight against combatants trained to move as a team.
Talon lunged forward interjecting a wide vertical blow before letting the crimson blade slide sizzling along his own emerald one, tearing it deep into the floor. Following the momentarily distracted One Sith Talon unleashed a series of savage jabs and thrusts, driving him into a stumbling retreat.
His fellow apprentice wasn’t faring any better being face-to-face with the blue-skinned Taldryan Quaestor whose blade seemingly arrived a split-second before his own and then counter-attacked from creative and unexpected angles, sometimes even altering its plane during mid-thrust.
Eventually the Quaestor changed his style slipping into the more defensive arts of the Soresu, forcing his foe into making a fatal mistake. Taking opportunity the One Sith thrust his crimson blade forward, while Rian stepped aside, spinning around in a tight circle, severing the apprentice’s head from his body. The headless corpse’s knees buckled before it, finally, folded to the floor, smoke curling from the neck.
The death of his fellow apprentice caught the other one completely off guard, hesitating only for the fraction of a second, but in the brief interval of his distraction the fair skinned man had sprung forward, jabbing the tip of one of his blades toward his chest like a spear. The apprentice snapped his blade up at the last possible instant but it was too late, hearing the hiss as the blade burned through his armor and into his heart.
The thrill of combat still rushed through Talon’s veins, when the Templar nodded at Rian before gesturing at an access panel, and the heavy blast doors slid open. Beyond lay the command center, a room identical to hundreds in the known galaxy: metallic floor and walls, lined with display screens in all shades of colors, keeping staff updated on the station’s status. A long, elevated walkway led to a command post where Drayne stood in a gesture deliberated in its confidence. Approaching the One Sith Zealot, the Taldryan Quaestor inclined his head. “Scyosen Drayne, at least.”
The elevated walkway provided an appropriate view upon the entire command center and of course the two Taldryanites that have just entered. They stood there with their lean bodies, blades still activated in their hands. Drayne called upon the Force, gathering it, wrapping himself within it. He let his hatred whirl inside his heart, clenching down upon it until he could feel the spin of the galaxy around him. This was the real power of the Dark Side, not what those heretic think of it.
He drew power from and into his innermost being, until the Force itself existed only to serve his will. “Scyosen Drayne, at least.” The one, the One Sith Intelligence identified to be one of the lower leaders of the heretics raised his voice before whispering to his companion. “Talon, we do this together, don’t let him split us up.”
Drayne’s enhanced vision picked up the subtle shifting in the tightness on their lightsaber’s grip, as the One Sith stepped down to the command center’s main level in a slow deliberated moves, while the pair fell into a similar crouch, slightly turned sideways, the tips of their blades pointing to the ground. Regarding the two Dark Jedi from under a lifted brow, Drayne cast his own lightsaber into his hand, its brilliant scarlet blade angled downward like theirs.
The pair started circling toward him with a slow, hypnotic grace, seeking to get on either of the zealot’s flanks. “Just because there are two of you, do not presume you have the advantage. Remember those unworthy Journeymen of yours… I savored their pain when I killed them.”
Rian clenched his teeth, barely giving into the remark of the slaughtered Journeymen. The Force crackled between them, and the station pitched and bucked under the endless array of turbolaser barrage, and then Drayne decided that the time had come. He flicked a faked glance behind – a hint of distraction to draw the attack – And all three of them moved at once.
The station shuddered and when Drayne gave the slightest glance of concern over his shoulder, distracted for half an instant, Talon lunged, lightsaber angled into a thrusting jab.
Rian leapt from the other side in perfect coordination – and lightsabers clashed at waist-height, for the One Sith wasn’t no longer there.
Looking up just in time the Templar glimpsed the sole of Drayne’s combat boot as it came down on his face and smacked him tumbling toward the floor; he summoned onto the Force to effortlessly to negate his motion and spring back again toward the clashing lightsabers, crimson against blueish-green that sprayed from clashing lightsabers as Drayne pressed the Prelate toward a computer station with a succession of weaving thrusts that drove the Obelisk’s blade out of line, while they reached for his heart.
Drear launched himself at Scyosen’s back – and the One Sith half turned gesturing with his free hand while holding the blue-skinned at bay with a flourishing one-handed bind. A near situation table lifts off and whirled toward Talon’s head. Just in time the freshly risen Equite lifted himself enough to barrel-roll over it instead of being crushed by it.
The barrel-roll brought him to his feet directly in front of its sender lifting his blade again to slash at the back of Drayne’s head.
Rolling free from them Drayne confirmed his analysis on their match so far, the two were certainly skilled in their ways of combat, relying heavily on their knowledge of Makashi. It would be a simple matter of countering their attacks, where as he only needed to do was slip from one side to another – and occasionally place a thrust or two of his own here and there – so that he could outmaneuver them thoroughly. Probably between theirs, they actually prove reasonable effective; the fact that their style had been developed by fighting as a team underscored the falsity in the ways of their so-called Brotherhood. They were simply not prepared to fight together against a true adherent of the Dark Side, yet alone one of his kind; he on the other hand, had always fought alone.
They didn’t even see how utterly he dominated the combat. He drew their strikes to his parries, and drove his own ripostes with his thrusts of the Dark side that subtle altered their balance and disrupted their timing.
Scyosen leaned into a thrust at Rian’s gut that the Dark Jedi deflected with a rising parry, bringing them chest-to-chest in a saber-lock, only mere centimeters from each other’s throats.
Too slow. And as if the blue-skinned man had heard his remark, the Quaestor leaped over Drayne’s head with astonishing speed. And where Aslar has been an instant ago, now only was the emerald lightning from the other ones blade, thrusting for Scyosen’s heart.
Whirling desperately to one side saved him from sure death. What? Leaping back from the two Dark Jedi onto the leveled walkway bought him some time to regain his footing – that last exchange has been too close – but by the time he touched down on the walkway Aslar was there, engaging him heads on with heavy strokes, brilliant in their velocity that Drayne dared not even tried to mount a counter-attack. Finally taking an opportunity the One Sith feinted a side-step, then spun into a reverse spin-kick, but not only did Aslar easily dodge the kick by cart-wheeling away from him, Drayne nearly was pinned by the green blade of Drear, who suddenly appeared out of the nowhere and now slid along his ruby blade into a near console.
And again there was Aslar, slashing at him with chirurgical precision, each step a blow, each blow a step. Drayne backed away – right into the waiting blade of Drear. Slowly understanding fell upon the One Sith that he had been deceived. Both of their ready stances have been ruses, while the fair skinned was a far more skilled fencer than his clumsy openings have told and that the other ones velocities were in realty the work of a Vapaad adherent. This fight has suddenly spun into an unexpectedly dangerous disadvantage.
The pair of Dark Jedi pressed on relentlessly, Drayne no longer even tried to strike back at them. Their blades where everywhere, flashing and thrusting, whirling and jabbing faster and faster until his vision was overwhelmed by an electrical haze. More and more strokes went past his defense, tearing gaps in his robes, burning through his flesh, normally he savored the smell of blood and the pain delivered with it but this time he felt nothing. Exhaustion fell on him, all he wanted was it to be over and then finally he felt a sudden agony in his gut as one of the blades pierced through his abdomen and came out the other side. Drayne hung there, impaled by the blueish-green line. The Prelate waited for the last remains of life to disappear from the One Sith’s body, and then jerked his blade free allowing the corpse to fall to the rumbling floor… Rumbling floor…
“My Lord, the station is about to tear itself into pieces.” came the voice of Slaxton over the comlink. “Can you hear me? There is a small hangar near your position; I was keen enough to arrange a pick-up for you.”
“On our way Admiral.” Heading along the Templar toward the door, Rian paused only to shoot a last glance at the corpse of Scyosen Drayne then they ran for the hangar to meet their pick-up.
Contract 017: Complete
Debriefing: Scyosen Drayne was eliminated, and the Journeyman of Taldryan were properly avenged by their Quaestor.
Really impressive work, Rian. I remember fighting you in the ACC maybe about 3 years ago. We were both Guardians I think at the time. You've really come a long way since then. I know English isn't your first language, but I honestly wouldn't have known that reading this. There were a few parts here and there where I could tell, tense errors and syntax issues. The flow of the writing was easy to read, though, and I never found myself re-reading anything to understand what was going on. The combat was detailed and vivid. The plot was structured in a typical manner, but I still enjoyed reading the journey. You worked in the interaction with Arcona's flagship well as well, and were clever in using a distraction to get to your target.
I really would have loved some more character development. I would have loved to see more dialogue between Talon and Rian. To really get Rian's feelings on what was going on, his emotions at avenging his members. Or his lack of them. I feel like it was just missing that extra little bit of spice and flavor, though.
It's a quality piece of writing. I think that a lot of your technical issues could have been easily spotted by having a proof-reader go over your work. With that little extra attention to detail, I think you can get into the tier of nailing a Superior contract. For now, I'm grading this as "Excellent." Good work, and I look forward to seeing more contracts from you going forward.
B-Class = 2 points;
"Excellent" Contract = 3 points;
Total = 5 points.