Naga Sadow Special Forces Run On
Run-on Competition: The Chain of Duty
This will be a unscripted runon event. Each unit will have two teams: the special forces runon, where only members of the special forces may post, and the regular runon, where all members (even those in the special forces) may post. The Special Forces runons will be the official submission for qualitative judging.
1. 250 word minimum per post.
2. 1000 word maximum per post.
3. Players must post a minimum of 2 times.
4. Players may post as many times as they desire.
5. Edits may occur on a post until a follow on post has been made (follow on posts include "reserving" a space). Only the author may edit their post on the forums. Admin use on the forums during the run on is expressly prohibited for participants. (Email Sarin and myself for anything)
6. Members may reserve post, but no posts can occur until after the reserved post is written.
7. The event will be graded by Raken, Sarin, and Muz using a rubric that focuses on creativity, plot development, realism, and grammar.
8. (Special Forces) Only two members of the Special Forces will be permitted to sit this event out.
9. Members failing to post 2 x times per phase will be disqualified and will not be given credit for participating in the event.
A slight drone filled the air and the eight members of the strike team stood still as another reconnaissance scout passed overhead. The foliage overhead rustled a little, but after a few moments the noise faded away and the group were able to step out of the shadows underneath the large, established trees again.
An oversized statue formed the only point of interest in the small woodland clearing. The face was recognisable as one of the extinct Sith species, although its facial tentacles had either been defaced in later centuries by the humanocentric purist element of later Sith factions, or else been worn away by the elements over the long millennia since the golden age of the Sith Empire. But time had not eroded the dark tendrils that all of the group could feel pervading from the statue.
It was the Alchemist who strode over and inspected the lone monument first. The Dark Adept was, after all, the member of the strike team most familiar with Vodal Kressh; the fellow Sith Alchemist had played a key role during Macron’s own discoveries when searching for his cure to the Horizon plague the year before.
“Well?” asked Korras, to whom the Grand Master himself had recently entrusted stewardship of Clan Naga Sadow after the sudden departures of Consul Sonjie and both of his Quaestors.
The Alchemist, however, did not answer right away.
There was clearly a tension in the group, but for the time being the eight remained focused on the task at hand. Most of them, at least. Between them, Raistlin, Sanjuro and Vaar had all taken up position around the clearing’s perimeter, and had the area fully covered, should any further One Sith surveillance devices happen to pass through the area, searching for hostiles.
For the time being, everything appeared to remain clear, which each of the three silently confirmed with an unspoken hand gesture.
Off to one side, the Prophet and Sorceress remained by themselves, not that that was anything out of the ordinary. Those two rarely got their own hands involved in things directly, and most of the strike team felt they were better off because of it. Why the pair had accompanied them would reveal itself when the time came, and that was good enough for most of the others.
Macron’s armoured glove tapped on a stone plate on the foot of the statue. It gave no response.
“If there’s an entrance,” the Alchemist finally answered, “this doesn’t seem to be—”
The Elder was cut off when the earth under his feet suddenly opened wide.
The tumble of granitic rock and stone would have killed anyone but Dark Jedi. Even with the powerful Elders and Equites present, the trap still had great power. It almost seemed to suck them down into the blackness. As the billowing dust and debris settled, ahead of the group yawned a well-worked stone tunnel. To the right loomed a statue that was remarkably similar to the one above except for the damage caused the rockfall.
“That was no ordinary pitfall,” commented Korras he he gazed around in the gloom. “That had potent Dark Side pressure. Is everyone intact?” The Master gestured at his charges. “I’m certain there are other traps about. Be on your guard.”
“I’m good,” replied Sajuro. “Where the frack are we?” The Archpriest pulled his lightsaber from his belt unlit and peered into the gloom. “Anyone else notice that the darkness in here is somewhat resistant to Force sight?”
“I noticed. I’m guessing one of those secret Sith tunnels that Athiss is rumored to possess,” replied Raistlin. “This Vodal guy sure likes his own image.”
“Some rumor,” Vaar commented dryly. “I would say fact, rather.” The Sith Warrior touched the rockfall. “This is solid. I’m suspecting that the way out would not be up.”
“I’d say that’s an accurate assessment,” giggled the mad alchemist as he touched a stud on his gauntlet and activated a helm light. “You know the Sith of old are known to be arrogant in regards to statuary of their likeness. These tunnels... do not appear to be of entirely Sith manufacture. See this bas-relief? That is most definitely not Sith. It’s a rather strange melange.”
“You are correct, my apprentice,” hissed Xanos dryly. “These tunnels pre-date Vodal’s appearance on this world. In this place, a greater understanding may be reached. Perhaps.” The Prophet lapsed back in characteristic silence, appearing to be unfazed by the situation.
Besides him the Blind Dragon ran her sensitive fingers across the hoary stone. “They will be here soon,” she whispered. “I can feel their bound and endless torment resonating in the cold granite.”
“They?” asked Vaar quickly.
“The defenders of secrets,” replied Sanjuro. “They are always defenders in these rat-holes. Always.”
"I'm sure of that." Korras began to lead the way forward with efficient steps. "Let's move out. Be alert."
From the back of the group Malik observed the others and thought to himself that perhaps it hadn’t been the best idea for the whole Clan summit and many of the senior members all being part of the same mission, it would after all be a big loss to Naga Sadow if they all ended up dead.
He tried to shake the feeling of impending doom from his mind but he could sense something that seemingly wanted to force its way into his mind, he looked at the others to see if they were sensing the same, most of them looked like they were fighting to keep whatever it was out but he couldn’t see any such struggles on the faces of the three Elders of the group, well something did seem to be alive just under the skin of the face of the man who he had once known as Xanos Sadow and now could hardly recognize. Meanwhile Korras was increasing his pace at the front of the group.
The Neti stopped, “Don’t be hasty young Master Korras.” The whole group stopped, some making for their lightsabers.
They turned towards the old tree, Korras was the first to speak, “Why are you stopping? We should be finding a way out of this place.”
Malik looked at each of the members of the team, “Don’t tell me you haven’t felt the presence trying to assault our minds, I can see it in the faces of most of you.”
The Neti was right. The unspoken dread flashed across their faces, as if they were all afraid that it was their own weakness that caused that dull throb behind their eyes. In his own way, the proconsul gave them all a momentary release.
He harrumphed as Korras turned back away, the steel blade across his knuckles glinting in the dimness.
Acknowledgement did not stop the pain, though. Each footfall reverberated from the floor, through bone and sinew, shaking loose something in their sinuses. Sanjuro stopped in stride, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Macron, can you feel that?"
The helmet turned his way, and nodded. It wasn't atmospheric, wasn't some twisted disease that had laid dormant since before the dawn of time. At least there was that.
He touched the Force, pushed past the pain, letting it build in his chest. Every step added more fuel to the fire. He could feel his teeth grinding before he recognized that he was doing it.
Korras froze midstep, the ionized scowl of his lightsaber filling the tunnel. Sanjuro's own weapon hummed, the cylinder spinning faster and faster before spilling the violent light into the air. The Sadowan weapons cast eerie shadows, warped by minute adjustments as each tried to see what lay ahead.
It was bad tactics. They could only stand two abreast, except for the Neti, who was too big for that. Whatever lay ahead could use the narrowness as a way to neutralize their numbers.
The blind dragon seemed to acknowledge that thought, flattening herself against the wall, pale fingers drawing strength from the stone, feeling the carvings of a people long dead.
"Well, now." Korras muttered low, the light of their weapons showing what he had nearly tripped on in the utter shade. Two humans, one togruta, all tattooed deep red and black. Heads were caved in, the gore cold across the stone floor, strange footprints led away, further into the dark.
It was strange how so many of the One Sith wore the ink when the brotherhood did not. Most chalked it up to different traditions, traditions that much of the Brotherhood cast aside. To hide who they once were, to symbolize rebirth into their order, new patterns to commemorate great victories and duels, to celebrate the warrior culture. But there was more than just that. The old purebloods were known for two things: their strength in the Force and their intolerance of other races. As the pureblood lineages faded to inbreeding and attrition, the ink beneath the skin was taken up as a way to emulate the ancient race, to masquerade as though they were just as formidable as the Sith of Old. Naga Sadow, Marka Ragnos, King Adas, Dathka Graush...and Exal Kressh.
Macron stooped close to the corpses, a gauntleted hand delving deep into the wounds, half coagulating blood coating the armor. "Nasty nasty. Blunt force trauma." He turned to the togruta. "No carbon scoring, no burns."
"No sabers or blasters." Malik's deep voice boomed behind them.
"What killed these Sith was surprise." Korras nodded, turning back to the trail. "Let's not join them."
A strange scent filled the tunnels; eyes were fixed on the clansmen of Naga Sadow. A stench that brought a foul taste into their mouths. Their eyes attempted to penetrate the darkness of the dim lit tunnels. It was quiet enough to make them doubt their own senses - always lurking just out of reach.
Korras knelt, frowning at the trail. He waved Macron closer: “Any idea what kind of creature this could be?”
Carefully the Alchemist examined what seemed to be footprints. Meanwhile the other clansmen secured the room. Sildrin carefully tiptoed through the gore, lifting her robe to not stain it, her face clearly showing disgust. A small pebble was cast away by one of her steps. Guided by tension Sanjuro ignited his blade, aiming at the direction of the sound’s source.
A red and green eye opened wide at the blade pointing at her. And with her hands lightly raised Sildrin hissed: “Sorry. Was a pebble I kicked away.”
Sanjuro’s eyes seemed to say: Be more careful next time.
Sildrin approached those examining the footprints. She leaned against a wall only to back away from it quickly - the walls were greasy from organic waste. She screwed up her nose. Suddenly a scratching sound deep from within the dark tunnel made her turn. Something hard scratched across the stoney ground. Sanjuro turned his head in Sildrin’s direction, frowning. But Sildrin replied with a telepathic message: “This time it wasn’t me... there.. is somethi.....”
A hoarse scream from deep within the tunnel made them twitch - the scream ended in a gurgling cough then the sound died. Macron grinned: “A predator found its victim.”
Sildrin whispered: “I hope not to be the next one.” The clansmen reached for their sabres.
Sildrin looked down a dark tunnel. Everything was quiet. Calm. Just like before a storm broke loose. Something attempted to contact her in a telepathic way. A sentient mind wished for communication? The Blind Dragon allowed the request to pass her mental barriers.
At once her mind were filled with chaotic nightmare images. Something monstrous loomed indistinct in the half-light of the tunnel. Its fangs glinted, ready to rake unprotected skin. Images appeared in Sildrin’s mind and she gasped. From equites’ reaction she could tell they shared the same vision as her. The Elders, however, remained calm as the imagery pounded into their minds. Victory and pride, paired with bloodlust! Images of people wielding sabres, torn apart by long claws. Blood spraying against the walls. A feast for those who lingered in the tunnels of Athiss - ablazed with the joy of slaughter. Sildrin raised her arms, trying to distinguish her true surroundings from the telepathic images invading her mind.
A horrible twisted body leaped out of the tunnel into their sight - the source of the telepathic sending. Poisonous drool dripped from its huge mouth onto the ground.
Roots and branches extended, wrapping around the abomination. The beast gave a surprised snarl as it was immobilized by Malik’s limbs. Macron grabbed his sabres and leaped onto the predator on the ground. With a precise movement he impaled the beast’s head. The upper eye of the monster opened, as if surprised by this, gazing at the group in front of it. And finally the spark of life faded within the sentient eyes.
Sildrin got up, slightly trembling: “What was this?... The images... it was able to communicate in a telepathic way... It.. was terrible...” she reached a hand at her temple.
Macron poked it with a boot: “Kark! No! But this is definitely something I want to dissect. As soon as we are done here.”
Sanjuro muttered: “I am sure there are more of these out there.”
Korras nodded. “Let’s focus and watch our backs,” he said as he advanced into a dark tunnel, hoping to quickly and safely guide his group to the inner sanctum of these ruins.
Approaching The Tomb
“Amazing,” chuckled Macron. The Alchemist could not help but scoop a vial of pustulent filth from the quivering abomination’s corpse. He capped it and hung it from his harness that crossed over the Sith armor. “The Dark Council will want this data.” The Sith capped it and inspected his surroundings. “So are my... orders after the Plague. I am commanded.”
“Completely,” remarked Sanjuro coldly. The veteran son of a Nightsister eyed the scene like a true warrior. “There will be more. Count on it.” Sanjuro loosened his gear and took a battle-ready stance. “It won’t be long.” The man was a veteran of many awful wars. Those scars rode with one across their entire lifetime. You could see it in his mannerisms, his readiness.
“I am counting on it,” replied Korras cooly. “We’ll move forward. These One Sith bodies indicate that they are here searching, just like us. We live, and the ones we have seen...” The Master sought guidance from within as the old and filthy walls spoke with their psychometric stories.
“Did not,” commented Xanos in his weird voice. Again he was silent after as his face crawled with muscular spasms. “They come.” The Dark Prophet remained an enigma. His body seemed to crawl briefly.
Sildrin held her Master’s arm as she peered about blindly, seeking the subtle currents of the Force with second sight. “I feel a disturbance. I feel those who would rest, can not do so and are filled with the power of the Dark Side as they were in life. They fight still to sanctify this place.”
Behind them the Neti rustled. Malik’s lignant body was formidable. The fall had been nothing to him with the aid of the Force. Still, the living plant felt energies that wished to suck out his cellular life at a base level ahead. “ I feel... drainers,” commented the Proconsul. “Leachers of life. Unhealers.”
“I feel it too. It is a discipline of absorption I am familiar with.” Macron gestured to the Equites. “I am not so far removed from you, nor am I arrogant. My beginnings are simple, and they remain so. I am humble. I serve Sadow. I am you.... and you, and you...” The Alchemist pointed his armored fingers one by one at the motley crew. “Sildrin, Raistlin, Vaar, Malik. Help me, Proconsul!”
“Let us combine. All of us have a point to prove, and a purpose. We have fought the Vong together, the usurpers... The Dark Side moves through us like a wicked fire, every one. We feel the power of Sadow! I am with you. With the Power of the Dark Side, we will destroy every living and unliving thing in this accursed hole!”
The other Elders watched as was their wont. Xanos and Korras gave their own silent approval as Macron led the meld. The Master and Prophet gave their own puissance to the mix. In an instant the bond of blood and battle was forged. The Dark Side was concentrated to pinpoints of unholy power and then served into the bodies of the faithful. The Battlemeld had been forged.
And just in time as shuffling Dark Side fueld ancient Sith corpses wielding swords of ancient scarlet fire strode menacingly into the light cast by the intruding lightsabers of the Brotherhood cadre.
“They are upon us!” shouted Korras as the Master’s sizzling blades smote down corpses that began to rise again.. “Destroy them and make way to the chamber beyond! We must breach that chamber! To me, Sadows!”
Approaching the Tomb
Reanimated tomb guardians poured into the cramped antechamber where the eight dark side practitioners had unexpectedly found themselves. The attack was not so much of a flood as it was an unceasing march, with more creatures—most mostly humanoid, others more like something that had been plucked out of the worn tome on occult Krath death rituals that quietly hung from the sorceress among them’s belt—joining the deathly march as the corpses filled the chamber, only to be struck down for the second—and occasionally third—times in their millennia-lived existences.
In the shadows, another triple oversized statue, this one again looking distinctly Sith in origin, stood watch, looming overhead. Unlike the weathered likeness of Vodal Kressh that had stood guard in the forests back aboveground, however, this statue was distinctly unlike anything of the Sith Empire:
The Sith—and with its facial tentacles and pronounced eye ridges, it was most certainly one of the ancient extinct race from which the Sith Order had been birthed—did not stand guard over the antechamber in dominance, no. Its head was bowed, doubled over in supplication.
The Red Sith sculpted in the antechamber was paying reverence to some as of yet still unclear greater power. This fact had clearly not gone unnoticed by the Alchemist, as his armoured fist punched through the midsection of another tomb guardian, the cracking ribs and punctured flesh filling the chamber with a sticky squelch when the creature’s insides were flown out of the other side by the red gauntlet and impacted against the skull of another guardian immediately behind it.
In the brief second before the next attack, Macron allowed himself a quick glance upwards.
“I was right—” the Elder said, then stopped as he diagonally cleaved his tangerine blade up through the next corpse from underneath its crotch up to its left shoulder, “—this place pre-dates Vodal Kressh.”
No response was immediately forthcoming to greet the Alchemist’s observation, but then the Equites were presently fully engaged in halting the attack, but the battle was now slowing, with fewer reanimated bodies ambling up from the deeper catacombs. After another few guardians were dispatched, the Dark Councillor among them and his Neti deputy both enjoyed a momentary respite to study the towering bas relief for themselves. In the end, it was the Proconsul who answered:
“The galaxy is older than the Sith,” Malik said, himself centuries old. “We should remain cautious.”
While Vaar, Sanjuro and Raistlin were still dealing with the last few of the guardians and Macron and the Clan’s two consuls inspected the statue overhead, the two apostates who had accompanied them merely remained where they had remained the entire time, standing quietly at the back of the room, beside the entrance to the tunnels from which they had entered the antechamber.
If the others had not known any better, then one of them might have thought that the grey-green Falleen had come down with some serious malaise, but they all knew that whatever afflicted Darth Vexatus, it was almost without any doubt not of the natural world. Right then, the Dark Prophet and the sorceress who knelt before him as apprentice were both studying the runic engravings that years ago had been painstakingly etched into the cold stone walls of the underground tomb complex.
Even if they were, for the time being at least, on the same side, it didn’t lessen the feeling radiating off the Elder in the battle meld, as if the Falleen was only joined with them to leech something.
“It is written in Ikalik,” Darth Vexatus said, knowing that the others could hear, even though he gave no indication that he was talking to them. “The language of the crimson Rakata.”
There was a strain to the Falleen’s voice, which Macron surmised was presently probably less to do with the Elder’s constant affliction, and right then more likely because of how the Prophet had been forced back down to everyone else’s level, with his all-seeing insight blocked by the dark energies that pervaded the underground tunnels. Inside his mask, the Alchemist stifled a small snicker.
Approaching the Tomb
“What now?” asked Sanjuro impatiently. He stopped in front of a huge gate at the back of the antechamber. Mighty heavy doors of stone, held by invisible hinges, rose high above them. “No lock. No key.”
The warrior raised his hand to touch the door - pushing. He stepped back, shrugging as the result was what he expected. Malik approached. “There must be some way to open it.” Branches touched the surface, seeking for any kind of embossment.
Grating sounds made everyone whirl around. Their eyes settled upon the Red Sith statue. Its head moved, slowly it rose to settle it’s gaze upon the door. Red beams appeared. Sanjuro’s excellent reflexes kicked in, tossing quickly Malik to the side, before the beam could hit him. Macron yelled. “A trap!”
Korras rose his hand: “No. Look!” The beam traced the crack between the gate doors and vanished after it’s work was done. The statue’s head lowered again. An old mechanism whirred and slowly the gates opened.
“Huh.” Sanjuro exclaimed. “Why did that happen when Malik touched it? And not with me?” He prepared his saber, but the inner tomb seemed unguarded.
Sildrin frowned, nibbling on her lower lip as a thought came to her mind. “Weren’t you in House Ludo Kressh, Malik?”
“Ahh. Yes. That was it probably. Sanjuro is from House Marka Ragnos,” the Neti answered.
Xanos’s ghostly voice answered: “Entrance is only granted to ‘Sons’ of Ludo Kressh.” One of his talon-like fingers traced a gravure on the gate.
Some were filled with excitement as they entered the inner tomb, others showed no sign of emotions to tell whether they shared that excitement or not. Sildrin could barely contain hers. There was so much to study. So much to find. If not for those scary monsters earlier she would have run inside, trying to discover and examine all that what awaited them.
But soon their excitement was met with disappointment. The inner tomb’s walls were covered with withered runes. No artefacts. No statues. But yet again another gate. This time it was a small locked tomb in front of them. “Again no lock. No key.” Sanjuro smirked. “Malik?”
The Neti stepped forward. Branch-like limbs touched the gates to the Inner Sanctum. A few inhaled deeply, holding their breath. A lingering suspense and finally...
Malik attempted to push. “It’s not opening.”
Raistlin shuddered: “No. But there is something powerful inside.” Those with a higher affinity to the sorcerous side agreed. Sildrin sighed in frustration.
“There must be a way.” Macron growled: “Step aside. If not by this way....” His hands shot forward, lightning crawled over the gate. “.. then this way!!!!!!!!!”
Sildrin coughed from the ozone polluting the air. A cloud of dust covered their vision. Then a Force induced gust cleansed the air. Their eyes fixed the gate. Nothing. “Any ideas?” Macron scowled.
Sildrin leaned closer to the door. She mumbled: “There are runes. Ancient ones, like those back in the corridor. Maybe if I can decipher them... “
A distant snarl made them turn around. Korras raised a hand: “More of those monsters. Sildrin, you decipher that! The rest.. to me. We need more blood to be spilled.” Grimly they picked their sabers. Only Xanos stayed behind with his Apprentice.
A distant whisper escaped his lips: “It will do no good to kill them.”
Sildrin rose her head, her red and green eye looked at Xanos. “Why?” But her Master’s mind had already drifted away, and again no answer was given. She turned back to the runes, starting to decipher them.
He was entirely out of his element. Sanjuro held his saber loosely in his hand, watching. The heretic paced in front of the problem, occasionally stopping to shoot filthy looks at the conundrum, his pale shadow, the blind dragon tracing the grooves and swirls in the stone with light fingertips. The madman cursed and tittered beneath his helmet, the most familiar to him of the team deployed to the ruin.
Memory seethed back despite the stress in the tunnel. Watching the swarm of the Nihilgenia rushing into battle, the snow stained with blood and carbon as they tore through enemies of both their blood and their clan. Battle was such an easier solution. It was much easier than these macabre puzzles, riddles in the dark writ in stone by men madder than even the Sith Alchemist.
The futility began to set in. They could all feel the failure, as sure as they could smell it. Korras was pale, sickened by the whole thing. Vexatus stared at it, as though sheer force of will could undo the ancient locks. Malik stepped forward yet again, trying to wedge root-like fingers into the cracks of the stone, finding no purchase. There was nothing, no hidden latch deep in the crevasse. Nothing but smooth hewn stone.
His head shook, the limb retracting from the wall. They all but groaned at the reaction. There was so few options left. It was not something that any of them were used to. Failure was writ large in those runes on the wall, and they all could see it.
It was a bitter pill, and no one wanted to take it.
Outside the tomb
Malik stared at the door in front of them, he couldn’t believe they had come this far just to fail in their mission. He refused to believe a mere door would stop some of the strongest people Naga Sadow had. He searched the surface and edges of the door again, looking for even the tiniest gap, he was sure that if he could find that he’d be able to split the stone with his roots and branches but after a thorough search he sighed.
In frustration Vaar ignited his lightsaber giving the familiar *snap hiss* sound and drove it towards the door but as it made contact it stopped and no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t penetrate the stone.
The madman cursed again behind him, “Alchemy… and powerful alchemy at that.” He said.
“Whichever frakkin’ hutt scrotum built this tomb did not want people to break in. There seems to be no way to open that door, I can’t see any clues when using force enhanced vision either.” The Proconsul said.
Raistlin punched the door in anger, “I guess this is one treasure Lord Ashen won’t be getting his hands on” Were the only words coming from him.
The Prophet turned to leave the place but stopped and said, “We shouldn’t have killed the guardians.”
Korras eyed the Sith Lord, “What do you mean? Do you think they were the key to enter the tomb?”
Vexatus remained silent. “I guess we will never know.” Sildrin whispered.