Taldryan 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.
Sweat beaded on the top of his lips and trickled down his forehead. He wiped away at it again, rubbing his wet sleeve across his mouth. It was hot; almost too hot to bear. The hangar bay was surely pleasant and cool on the average, but it was filled to the brim with soldiers and airmen. Their body heat radiated from them, and after a time so did the stench. They were anxious, breathing heavy and sweating in anticipation.
Haldrin Kettalic was even hotter than the next for he had donned his full battle gear before the assembly. Apparently I didn’t get the message about what to wear, he thought as he marched in behind his comrades, quickly noticing that no one else had yet to don their gear. He studied those around him, each of them--men and women both--hardened soldiers ready for action. As they all waited for the briefing to begin, the soldiers talked amongst themselves. Haldrin overheard war stories from the last conquest--some being the conquest on the battlefield and others being last night’s conquest in the cantina. He listened to a group behind him talk about a newly quartermastered weapon system, available only to those with special training. He heard the nervous joking of a small man a few rows to his right.
But none talked to Haldrin Kettalic. He knew no one; not even the small squad that he was deployed with. The fact that he was the only one in his full battle gear, sweating it out, made it worse. He was uncomfortable.
Of course, the mercenary had never been comfortable on the Justice. He had arrived shortly after the conquest of Ch’hodos concluded at the behest of his newest employer. It was clear from the start that he and the men he travelled with were unwelcome. The house leadership had made certain they knew as well. “You are not wanted nor welcome among us,” the Quaestor, Rian, had said. “But as the Dark Council believes we need you, we will allow you to assist us where you can. Know your place, however; you are not of Taldryan.” That had been the more welcoming of the two speeches. The Aedile--a crass, bearded monster of a man--had not been so kind.
Haldrin cared not. He had a mission to accomplish and he would do so despite the misgivings of those he served around him. Just a few more months, he told himself. Just a few more months and I’ll have enough to take some time off. The risks were great, but so was the pay. In three missions time he had sent back enough to his wife to feed and house his children for two years. If he could just make it through a few more assignments, he and Atiaya could see each other again, if she would have him back.
“Ashas Ree is our next target.” The booming voice of Rian Aslar sounded out over the mulling voices of the crowd and kicked Haldrin from his thoughts. Cheers went up through the masses and all around the mercenary as the Taldryan Quaestor walked to a central dais to begin the briefing. Haldrin quickly pulled his audio transcriber from an inner pocket of his combat vest. The Council will want to hear this, I know, Kettalic thought as he switched the recording device on. Maybe I’ll have a chance to send word on our progress before we leave off.
Rian raised his hands to silence the crowd. The blue skinned Wroonian looked confident before his men, his fiery hair standing out and making him easy to see among all of the others around him. Similarly easy to recognize was the Aedile, Keirdagh, with his impressive beard. It was the Aedile that spoke next.
“We have been assigned to take Ashas Ree from the prying hands of the One Sith. Their hold on this planet is tenuous at best, but we are not taking anything for granted. There are major strategic needs for this world. The planet served as a major trade hub for the Ancient Sith Empire due to its close proximity to various hyperlanes that the Dark Council seeks to reopen and Taldryan intends to use for its own purposes.” Haldrin hoped Keirdagh would continue on that train of thought; it seemed to be an interesting morsel of information to provide the Dark Lord, but the Aedile moved on.
“Our intelligence on the ground is sparse; Lord Halcyon will discuss those details in a moment. As to our air superiority, our advanced scouting has identified a flotilla consisting of a Bulwark Mark III, multiple corvettes, and a mixed fighter group. Of more concern than the capital forces are the mines that have been laid. We will not be able to move quickly with our full complement to the surface. Instead, a small team of Dark Jedi has been assembled to advance our interests on the planet. We intend to be the first to capture and hold a temple of immense value there. It will be held against the One Sith, and the prying interests of the remainder of the Brotherhood. Lord Halcyon will lead this detachment and will give further details now.”
The Aedile turned to a nearby door that opened to reveal the green-haired Prophet. Immediately, Haldrin felt unease as the man entered the room. His heart began to beat heavily in his chest; something was wrong. The mercenary looked around nervously, scanning to see if anyone else looked to have the same reaction to this new man before them. If they were, no one showed any sign.
Halcyon took the dais near Rian and Keirdagh and stared out into the audience, looking over the men and women before him. And as if he found what he was looking for, Halcyon stared directly into the eyes of Haldrin Kettalic.
Kettalic strained to keep his face neutral as his eyes briefly made contact with those of the Prophet. The former Shadow Hand stood silently staring at the mercenary. Haldrin could feel the eyes of those around him begin to turn to him as well as they followed Halcyon’s line-of-sight.
Look away, look away, look away! Haldrin willed as he fought to keep any more sweat from running down his neck. He almost shook with relief as Halcyon broke the silence and began detailing the ground mission.
“The Strike Force shall consist of Lord Cotelin, Lord Cantor, Primarch Quejo, Primarch Kor, Exarch Shaz’air, Prelate Aslar, Hunter Marr and myself.”
Eclectic group, Kettalic mumbled in his mind, before turning his attention back to the speaker.
“We also have a traitor in our midst,” continued Halcyon.
No! Haldrin screamed out in his mind. He meant to scream out loud, but the words themselves were caught in his throat as invisible fingers seemed to wrap around and cut off his air supply.
“We do not look kindly upon spies. Especially those from the Dark Council.”
“H-h-how?” Kettalic managed to choke out as his hands clawed at his throat, trying to loosen the invisible grip. He didn’t bother trying to defend himself, hoping that co-operating could get him out of this situation alive.
“I know how they operate,” Halcyon growled as his piercing gaze stared right through the traitor.
My family! Hadrin screamed out in his mind as his throat ceased to be his to command. It burned; his lungs pounded hard with no resolve.
“I’m sure your family will manage,” Rokir replied aloud without moving his gaze.
Hadrin’s eyes bulged to nearly twice their size as his face moved through various shades of red and purple. His mouth opened and closed in short gasps. He could no longer feel the floor beneath him as his feet kicked around with futility. Spots of white clouded his vision.
“Atiaya,” he called out as his wife appeared before him. “I’m so sorry.”
“Shhh, it’s ok. You can finally come home,” called back a dreamy voice.
“Do you forgive me?”
“Of course my love,” she said as she cupped his face. He could feel the warmth of her hands against his cheeks.
“I miss you. And the kids. They must be so big now.”
“It’s almost over.” soothed the voice.
There was an audible SNAP. Atiaya was gone. A tear replaced her absence before the Dark Council’s spy was gone as well.
Commander Kara Ardellian was just one of the many hard luck cases aboard the Drusilla, but she had the dubious honour of being Jrep Roeo's executive officer. He'd been drummed out of the New Republic fleet for his heavy handed tactics, and somehow had managed to ruin Kara's career along with his own. She still wasn't sure why she'd stuck around this long, other than the fact that she'd at least gotten used to being the buffer in between Roeo and his crew, and if nobody else was going to watch out for them, then she might as well.
However, working for the One Sith had left Ardellian with a sour taste in her mouth. It wasn’t just from the fact that all the people who were invading the sparsely populated One Sith territories were even worse, or so went the scuttlebutt in the mercenary camps. It was also the fact that serving people with as little regard for sentient life as these Dark Jedi has made Roeo's already significant mean streak much worse. Snap out of it Kara, she reproached herself, self-doubt and recriminations are best saved for a time when you're not likely to get killed.
Despite the fact that the entire crew had been waiting for this moment after being informed by their overseers to expect imminent action, klaxons began to wail throughout the bridge taking the entire crew by surprise. "Action stations!" bellowed the Captain, mixed with a steady stream of curses under his breath. "Commander, give me a status report!"
Kara scanned the readouts, feeling the first whispers of fear beginning to take hold. Clamping down on those emotions, she called out with a loud voice "Vindicator-Class Heavy Cruiser, and two Lancer Frigates dropping out of hyperspace near our first line of anti-ship mines; first Lancer driving hard toward us, Vindicator and second Lancer are maneuvering for positions."
"Get the fighters out there to intercept them. Not a single one of those kriffing bastards are going to get to that planet, or the One Sith won't need to execute you, I'll do it myself!" screamed Roeo, and Kara knew better than to not take him at his word. Better get those defensive screens active!, she thought, as her fingers began to fly over the console.
The bridge of the Drusilla was dark, lit only by dim lights and the glow of consoles. Kara had already relayed Captain Jrep Roeo’s orders to the two Corvettes to concentrate fire on the quickly advancing enemy Lancer frigate, which was currently cutting a bloody score against Roeo’s Starfighter pickets and anti-starship mines. At the same time, the starfighters were ordered to conduct hit and run assaults against the enemy Vindicator that had somehow managed to slip past the minefield and was now deploying its own starfighters.
Even though the minefield was meant to serve as a sufficient line of defense against any intruder, Ardellian was sure that it was just a matter of time until the enemy fleet would break through the blockade entirely; then, even the Drusilla would have its hands full against the remaining three capital ships which had yet to engage in the skirmish.
Suddenly the monitor that bathed her delicate features in cerulean light began to flash with twenty-six signatures blinking into existence on the scanners as they dropped out of hyperspace about one kilometer in front of the Vindicator, their courses locked on a rapid intercept course to the blockade perimeter.
The newest arrivals wavered left and right on her screen, dodging one mine after another while shooting down One Sith starfighters with the slightest of efforts. Boy oh boy, these guys are good.
Seeing the immediate danger coming from the new arrivals she radioed the corvettes. “Lazarus and Loirelle, disengage and reform to engage enemy forces at 233 point 174!” Kara growled, her hands flying over the controls in front of her, doing sensor sweeps to estimate how much a danger they were when suddenly the twenty-six broke formation and only two of them continued to advance toward the planet.
“Status report,” The captain’s harsh military voice remanded.
“Our blockade is still holding, Sir. So far two enemy craft have managed to slip past; they are going to enter atmosphere in approximately a minute and a half.”
Roeo nodded, though Kara knew that her commander wasn’t very happy about the latter fact. “Send word to our ground forces, they will find a way to take care of them.”
“Yes, Sir.” She confirmed.
Orders squawked in over their commlinks, the somewhat familiar sound of Commander Ardellian's voice issuing personal orders to the scouting group. "Two enemy ships confirmed to have breached the blockade. Enemy forces incoming. Move to intercept at Landing Area One. Prepare to hold position at all costs! We can't allow them to gain an inch, especially prime landing area!"
As the squad settled into position, Haffar's hand trembled slightly with both fury and anticipation as it tightly held his blaster rifle, his eyes scanning the incoming force with contempt. Worthless dogs think they can take the temple from us, do they? Their very existence is an insult, a profanity, a contemptible parasite upon the power of the Dark Side! They had only just found the temple to begin with, and they wouldn’t let it slip from their grasps now.
Beside him a squad-mate loaded a missile launcher with ordnance. It was a new model of the weapon, Haffar noted. In a way it seemed proper, something deadly yet untarnished, almost poetically suited for purging the filth that now sought to bear down upon them. The enemy sought to take this landing zone from them, to spread their ilk across the planet like an infestation, scrabbling vermin seeking a place to root in and burrow. No, they wouldn't spread their sickness, their twisted ways, here. The One Sith would not allow it.
Haffar was shocked when the enemy did finally appear, filtering from their vessels in a rush of bodies. His squadron was far too outfitted, far too armed, to fall to such a small group, he was sure. The might of the One Sith was behind them, their purity and power; their strength. Who did these animals think they were to turn against their masters, especially in such a small number? Fools, they were fools.
With a sadistic grin the devout One Sith soldier looked down his sights, the squeeze of a trigger like a release of emotion, each blaster shot a beam of his own concentrated hate, the angry red blast racing across the open air to his enemy. Beside him the noise of his comrade's missile launcher was thunderous, a constant cascade of noise and explosions filling the air, accompanied by a chorus of yelling, screaming, and the groans of dying men. Somewhere behind him he vaguely heard the shouts of his commander. "Suppressing fire! Slow these karking invaders down!"
However, the enemy force was upon them far too quickly, their sabers deflecting the barrage of blaster bolts and their force sense allowing them to evade missiles far before they hit pay dirt. Already the front lines fell in swathes, the glowing lightsabers like scythes to crops, mowing through flesh like a blade through grain. Haffar could feel the grip of despair, his hatred only fueled by the horror before him.
Haffar let loose another volley of blaster fire, timing his attack with the fire of the heavy missile support, hoping to hit the scum as they tried to dodge the heavy weaponry, only to see the futile attempt easily deflected by the skilled blades of what seemed to be one of the older Dark Jedi. For a brief moment the man seemed to look at him, a sort of sadistic amusement in his storm-gray eyes, before scanning over to look at his launcher-wielding comrade.
In a smooth motion, almost instant to Haffar’s eyes, the Dark Jedi tossed his saber through the air at the man. From the gray-eyed man came forth the saber like a bolt of white lightning from a furious storm. The projectile hummed loudly as it flew through the air, the ghost-white blade nearly invisible to the eye at the speed it traveled, the spiked hilt looking almost as deadly as the blade itself. He watched in despair and fear as his comrade was cut down as he ran, his torso flying forward still with momentum as his legs collapsed beneath him, his mid-section sliced nearly clean in half by the saber.
The weapon was almost enchanting in its deadliness as it flew through the air speeding back to its wielder. Or, at least, at first. The perfect path of the saber wavered strangely, almost as if the power of the Force was not enough to hold it, before its changed trajectory brought it speeding towards him. Years of instinct and honed reactions caused Haffar to drop down long before he ever fully realized what was happening. But it was not enough - pain shot through him, a groan of both fear and agony bursting forth a second after the weapon sliced through his leg, the air filling with a vomit-inducing smell of seared flesh.
Behind him he heard the commander's voice one final time. "E chu ta! Hold your ground! Fight back! Stop letting th-" The voice was cut off by the distinctive crackle of Force Lightning, followed by the solid thump of a body hitting the ground.
It couldn't be happening. His leg was gone. His comrades were doomed. They were losing, and there was nothing they could do about it. The heretics were winning.
Screams of pain and agony filled the shallow trenches where Haffar lay wasted amongst his fallen comrades. The battle had ended almost as quickly as it had begun. Swarms of the oppressing Dark Jedi ravaged the encampment, their lightsabers creating a chorus of impending doom.
Gripping the air where his left leg had been only moments earlier put an unsatisfactory pit in the bottom of his stomach; Fear had finally begun to creep in. ”No! No, no, no! this can’t be!” A hoarse, frantic squeal left the man’s lips as he glanced at the dismembered limb; the icy hot blade of his attacker’s weapon left a seared stump just above where his kneecap had been.
Sand kicked up and around Haffar as a whirlwind of Dark Jedi trampled the ground around the area, their brightly colored weapons finishing off the wounded. A tear streaked down the soldier’s cheek while the sun beat down hot rays upon the ground. He saw vivid memories dashing across his field of vision as he recollected the times he spent squandering his money in cantinas and brothels.
The Corellian’s thoughts were quickly brought back to the harsh reality of battle as he heard a loud voice booming over the eerie sound of war. A tall, pale figure garbed in ornate armor and brandishing a Mohawk marched amongst a slew of Dark Jedi only a few leaps away from where Haffar lay. His pace was level and concentrated. In one hand he held a lightsaber its hue changing from blue to violet in segmented rotations. The emblem of the oppressors adorned the man’s armor.
The Dark Jedi banner man stopped his march while the rest of his troop carried on and lifted his chin to the sky as if he was soaking up the very thing that Haffar was emanating: Fear.
Rage began to replace the pain that spread through Haffar’s body as he watched the Taldryanite feed off of the grim aura that surrounded the encampment. The soldier glanced around his immediate surroundings in search of a weapon to feign off the Dark Jedi. A moment of joy entered his mind as he saw a hand-blaster strapped to the hip of his deceased comrade just a meter away. Without hesitation he rolled over onto his stomach and began to crawl over to the corpse, his heavy breathing stifling the small whimpers of pain.
Grabbing hold of the dead body’s leg he hoisted his weight up close to the weapon and unclipped it. Removing the small weapon from its holster, the Corellian felt a sense of panic wash over him. You took your eyes off of your target. YOU TOOK YOUR EYES OFF OF YOUR TARGET! Haffar yelled to himself as he moved his sun burnt neck back towards where the Taldryanite had been.
Mixed emotions rippled through his senses as his brown eyes met the blank, grey stair of his opponent. The Dark Jedi smirked at the dismembered soldier as he lay on the ground before him. With each long, calculated step the Dark Jedi got closer to the Corellian. Now was the time for panic.
You fool. You idiot! How could you be so stupid?! Closing his eyes the One Sith took one last shot at survival. It's now or never. He only had one chance to get this right and kill this Jedi. He had to get it right. He had to wait for the right time.
The thud of his attacker’s feet became ever clearer and louder as he got closer. Haffar counted as the seconds went by, each moment feeling like a lifetime. Almost there. Just a few steps closer, then he’ll be in range. Come on… come on! Suddenly, a thin red bolt of energy erupted from the barrel of the blaster and scattered across the trench. Disbelief echoed across Haffar’s face as he saw his finger pressed up against the trigger. His body froze up, mind reeling with unexpected dismay.
The Dark Jedi didn’t slow his pace. The violet color of the weapon slowly began to transform into royal blue as the man lifted his free hand into the air towards the downed soldier. An invisible force began to crush Haffar’s hand until he had no choice but to let go of the blaster, its metallic body flying through the air and crashing to the ground meters away. Hopeless, he began to cry out, “Damn your cursed kind! I hope you all die in this battle and then the galaxy will be free of your stain-”
Pressure began to weld up inside of his throat, as if there was a metal pipe in his esophagus. He couldn’t speak, he could only hear. The dark figure now stood before him, his black armor muting the sun’s rays against their hard plating, weapon held at his side.
“My name is Shaz’air Taldrya, Exarch of the great House Taldryan. I know my place in the galaxy; in life. And now you will know yours.”
Haffar’s mind became a blank slate, visions of his One Sith masters bellowing about how the Dark Jedi from Antei were nothing more than hooded figures wielding swords. How wrong they were. How wrong he was for believing it. He did not try to move his body. He didn’t even blink as he watched the once again violet-white blade coarse through the air towards his head.
He accepted his fate as Shaz’air’s voice become drowned out by the hum of the Jedi weapon, a bright white light encompassing his vision. The soft hum turned into a violent, razor sharp chain of daggers as it entered into his temple, viciously vibrating his skull until it bore a hole through the bone, penetrating into his neural lobe.
In the skies above Ashas Ree, things were not going well for Captain Jrep Roeo and his ship, the Drusilla; in fact, things were not going well for the entire One Sith fleet orbiting the planet. Taldryan’s Navy was swiftly and efficiently laying waste to the One Sith blockade. Drusilla’s bridge was filled with a chorus of varying sounds, ranging from yelling orders to computer screens screaming with warnings as the prolonged battle whittled away at their prospects, a prelude to a grim defeat.
Roeo turned to his executive officer and screamed, “Patch Biliy through to me immediately! I must send him down to secure the Temple!”
“But sir-” began Commander Ardellian before Roeo screamed even louder, spitting everywhere “Patch him through to me IMMEDIATELY!”
Not wanting to risk her unstable Captain’s wrath, Kara’s hands flew over her terminal and connected the most dangerous man on the ship with the potentially most deranged. Before too long, a miniature hologram materialized in front of her superior’s face: Commander of the Marine Detachment, Biliy. Well over six feet tall and more than 240 pounds of solid muscle, Biliy was one of the deadliest men Kara has ever encountered. To compound the danger Biliy represented, his team of Marines has for a long time been considered amongst the most brutally efficient killing team in the known galaxy. Thankfully, Biliy and his men have to answer to us.
Kara watched as Captain Roeo cleared his throat, as though he were mentally preparing himself to face Biliy, even over a hologram. The marine commander was one of the most terrifying men Kara had ever had the misfortune of meeting, and it appeared as though her Captain felt the same way.
“Biliy,” began Roeo with a confidence as empty as the vacuum of space. “I need you and your team to go down to the Temple and prevent the Brotherhood landing team from taking it over.”
“What happened to your regular squad?” replied Biliy, his tone betraying his annoyance at the turn of events.
“They are most likely dead. And even if they are not, I am confident that you and your team could provide the necessary backup.” explained Roeo. Kara winced.
“Eh, I don’t think that-” Biliy was suddenly cut off by another of Roeo’s outbursts, causing Kara to jump in surprise. “I don’t care what you think! You are here to follow orders, my orders! I’m ordering you to get your team assembled within 15 minutes and fly down to the Temple! I will not be responsible for losing this objective for our Masters, and you will not fail me!”
Biliy’s hologram glared at Roeo in silence for so long that Commander Ardellian thought the feed might have frozen. After what seemed like an eternity, Biliy slightly nodded his head and grumbled “Aye Captain, roger that.” The holographic image winked out of existence.
Kara looked back at her monitor and wondered if her Captain knew how close he was to his death, for speaking to Biliy in that way. He probably doesn’t realize it at all, she resolved.
“Commander Ardellian,” Roeo said, his words pulling Kara back from her thoughts. “I need eyes and ears on the ground. You will accompany our marine detachment.”
Kara knew better than to argue. She looked at her Captain for the briefest of moments. She always knew he would be her downfall.
Kara was not welcome, she knew that before they had told her. “No,” had been Biliy’s response when she told him of the Captain’s orders. But she was stubborn, not daring to counter the Captain’s orders. So she was finally allowed to come and took a seat out of the way.
Biliy stood closest to the small door that connected the cockpit and the compartment of Roeo’s modified ETR-3 transport. It had debarked from the hold of the Drusilla moments earlier. Behind him stood two squads of his finest men; each hand picked from militias all over the galaxy by him personally, their armors bristling with weapons, dings and scorch-marks from past battles with grim determination on each of their faces.
The floor beneath them shook. The internal compensators that allowed them to stand upright inside the compartment did their best to balance the maneuverings of the pilot as he took them through Ashas Ree’s atmosphere toward the landing zone near the Dark Temple of Garu. Through the viewport, Kara could now see the landmass that held the Dark Temple grow in detail. The land fell from her sight as the transport altered its trajectory until it showed the green-and-blue hemisphere of the planet.
“Ninety seconds to the LZ.” The pilot yelled over the intercom from the cockpit.
Biliy nodded at him then turned to his troops. “You all know our orders. A group of unknown strength has entered the perimeter around the temple and it is up to us to stop them from taking the temple.”
Taking a step toward the landing bay he added, “There will be no witnesses. Whoever stands in between us the temple will die, One Sith and insurgents alike. Remember that.” Turning, he faced Kara. “You,” he started, beckoning a squirm from her, “stay out of the way.”
The intercom squawked again. “LZ is hot. Prepare for rapid deployment.”
The transport came to a halt one foot over the surface, and Biliy leapt onto the ground, his own blaster rifle trained onto his shoulder to spill death at whoever was unlucky enough to get in sight of its barrel. Kara watched as the other soldiers followed in tight formation. Ensuring she was the last one off she gripped the handle of her blaster tightly and jumped out. The pilot immediately veered the transport away as her feet touched the ground and headed back up into the raging battle.
It had been a long time since Kara Ardellian had been to the front lines of a battle. Not long enough, she thought as she quickly scanned the scene. Broken bodies lay before her, strewn about among their matching limbs and weapons. The Commander ran for the closest cover she could find, a hastily erected stack of crates that had once carried provisions. She wasn’t sure whether it was fear that took her there or her training. Either way, she was fortunate for the cover. Not ten seconds from when she stepped off of her transport, a loud popping sound caught her attention. She looked up to see the ETR-3 ripped from the sky, as if it had been swatted by a god. The crunch of metal preceded a fiery explosion when the ship collided with the ground. Shrapnel--consisting of pieces of the transport and debris from the ground--darted past her, some lodging into her barrier where she cowered.
The detachment had landed behind the action, their hope being to take the advancing force from behind. It was an aspirational plan, one that she knew in her heart had no hope of working. Calm, she told herself. Kara pulled her comlink and tried for a connection to her Captain. Silence answered. A second call proved just as futile, and when it did the Commander looked skyward. She saw the end of the Drusilla in the distance, the red face of destruction peering at her through the trees and clouds. Kara counted herself lucky to be off the ship, then she remembered where she was.
The Commander turned out from safety to gauge the battle and attempt a shot or two. She saw devastation. The two squads of soldiers had barely advanced before the Dark Jedi turned on them and levied their attack. She counted more than a dozen, though it was obvious that but a handful were the most lethal. Kara was mesmerized by the fluidity of the attack. A Dark Jedi with a white blade charged on his target, deflecting blaster bolts accurately toward other foes. She watched as the white saber curled through the arm of one man and was brought back around to stab at the heart of another. Other Dark Jedi swept in behind the front lines, their red, orange and purple sabers tearing into those soldiers that were so fortunate to survive the vanguard.
Kara looked for Biliy, the menace of so many prior battles. She heard him first, barking orders while he backpedaled with his other men. The marine commander had discarded his normal assault rifle and donned a heavy repeater. The high-pitched whirl of its motors and rapid spitfire of its ammo filled Kara’s senses. Biliy seemed to be the only man having any success at keeping the Dark Jedi at bay. Kara watched as one of his sweeps of the weapon even managed to take down a member of their foe’s rear guard. Yes! she cheered internally, as the young female bowled over.
Her enthusiasm lasted but for moments. A golden blade flew through the air towards Biliy with fierce accuracy. The burly marine pulled up, arching his back to avoid the cut, but the blade sliced through his repeater. Kara watched Biliy drop the damaged weapon to the ground. As he pulled for his blaster, a beast of a man barreled into him, shoulder first. The blaster went flying and so did the fists. The attacker moved with such furious speed that Ardellian could not keep track. For every block managed by the marine, three fists connected. The bearded Dark Jedi, decked out in red armor, took his foe high and low. Biliy staggered backwards, almost tripping over a soldier that had been standing but a moment prior. He took another blow to the face and Kara could see the blood and spittle fly through the air. The bearded man paused for a moment, almost as if he was allowing Biliy to counter, as if he were playing with his food. We never had a chance, Kara thought.
The stubborn marine did counter. He growled something fierce and charged his foe. That was when the lightning took him. The blue and white streaks arced about his body, and Biliy was lifted from the air. For a long moment he shook violently, the white of his bones flashing through the lines of electricity. The Commander tracked the lightning to its source. It wasn’t from the bearded one, but rather from an old man in gold-lined robes.
When Biliy was finally dead, and the body dropped back to the ground, the bearded Dark Jedi pointed to his chest and yelled something fierce at the older man. Neither seemed concerned for their safety as they just stood there, arguing over whose kill was whose. It was then that Kara knew the battle was over; she hadn’t even fired a shot.
Fear took her. They had to know she was there. They had to know. I won’t go down without taking one of them with me. Kara turned around her cover in the opposite direction and was surprised and pleased to see her mark not more than two meters away.
Kara gripped her weapon tightly in her hands, leaning into it for stability. In a lot of ways, it reminded her of being a child, of clinging to toys and blankets desperately for comfort and security, using that singular inanimate presence to bring some amount of comfort in the frightening, inexplicable, unfriendly world. Yes, this gun was her reassurance, her last chance to find some amount of comfort before it was all over, stolen from her.
She stilled her breath, years of marksmen training and of battle flooding into that one moment of lucidity. She was sure she was going to die. She was also sure she was going to make one of them go with her. One final shot to claim vengeance for her comrades. Before her was the most obviously junior of the group - it showed in his face, his stance, his careless and wind-tossed dark hair. His lightsaber was still stored at his belt, his hands clutching somewhat tensely, nervously, at his blaster, a weapon he still seemingly found far more familiar than the tools of the Dark Jedi. It was almost shameful, she felt, that she would take out the one who had caused the least damage out of the mighty group, the one who still had a tinge of naiveté and youth upon him.
But she pushed those thoughts aside as quickly as they began to spring forth unwanted like a wellspring, quelling the tide of unnecessary thoughts. All that was left was her, the gun, and her target. He was not a person, he was the enemy. With one final breath and a steadying of her aim, Kara slowly squeezed the trigger. The mark never realized it was coming, distracted so by the bickering elders, his blue-gray eyes bright and so eager to take in the actions and skills of the masters. So involved in learning, in self-improvement, of acclimation, that he never felt the danger that was so inevitably coming his way, a sick irony that would cost him his life. The angry red beam spat forth from the blaster in the blink of an eye, and for a moment Kara felt the pride of a job well done, of her skill as a soldier and her steady aim.
But it was all for naught. It was amusing, in a way. If she were a child clutching at her weapon, her last shot for one final sense of security and comfort, then the young man was the nestling protected over by predatory guardians. In a blur of blue, undoubtedly force-enhanced speed, one of the young man's fellows dove in front of the blast, the beam burying deep into the alien being's left shoulder. And with just that, all her efforts had been in vain. Her perfect shot at the weakest of the group had been blocked by an alien obviously far more experienced, not to mention physically powerful.
What kind of Dark Jedi throws himself in front of a weapon for an out-of-place weakling? His strangeness had cost her the minor victory. He had cast her into the final depths of despair with no respite.
Even when saved, she noted, the inexperienced one was incompetent, immediately ducking down and trying to aid his savior rather than eliminating the immediate threat. Emotional. Careless. She hated him that moment, hated that she, an experienced soldier, a commander even, had failed to erase one as insignificant and ignorant as he, that only through the efforts of another had he survived in the battlefield.
It was mere moments later, though an eternity of thought, that she felt a blast of force knock her off her feet, throwing her against the ground. Undoubtedly the reaction of one of the more competent of the group. As her sight dimmed she could faintly see and hear them speak. With a near unperceivable limp, now more noticeable from ground level, a gray haired man bent down to help up the blue-skinned alien, murmuring under his breath.
"How will he learn if you coddle him?" With a grunt of discomfort the large blue humanoid stood, sparing a glance to the man.
"It is hard to teach them when they are dead, Keirdagh."
She could vaguely sense one of their number standing next to her, her body being tossed about a moment thereafter, before darkness claimed her vision and her mind.
The Sith Lord opened his eyes. He could feel the presence of mighty warriors in the distance. He could feel their war cries, their overconfident victory. Let them come…
The Twi’lek paced, his frame was short yet built like a wampa’s: broad and muscular. His face was littered with scars and gouges adorned his armor; a sign that he had made it through many battles.
“Ahaha, yes! Let them come! Bring the mighty, bring the weak. I will end them all!” shouted the man in a maniacal tone. “You don’t have to tell me twice. What? No. Of course I can fend for myself. You’re just upset that I was christened as Guard of the temple, watcher of the skies, soldier of the dead! You’ll see. I have taken on armies all at once!”
Argaal spat over his shoulder as he talked to the open air, a crazed grimace in his eye as he watched the horizon. His vision spotted a small mass of bodies engaging in the distance, their numbers growing steadily as they came closer to the temple. “AH! There you are!” He yelled aloud. “Come on, little ones! Come along and see what a true Sith Lord has to offer! Though I can’t speak for my men…” Once again the One Sith looked over his shoulder and scowled as if he was disapproving the words of a fellow comrade
Silence clung on the grounds of the temple. The vast open space was scarce of any lifeforms aside from Argaal and his imaginary companions. The sun was beginning to set, its bright orange light bathing the northern side of the temple where the Sith Lord stood. He watched eagerly as the masses of Dark Jedi stormed towards him.
The Sith Lord stepped towards the edge of the balcony, ripping the two lightsabers that hung across his chest on a baldric. He held them outright, and then held one to his ear and shook it. There was a slight rattle emanating from the metallic casing. He frowned, bringing the weapon into vision. “Kriffing piece of bantha-“
They are coming…
Argaal quickly returned his gaze towards the horizon. He laughed smugly, “They certainly know how to pick up the pace. Better keep an eye out on that one. He is a real go-getter!” As he spoke, the Twi’lek positioned his left leg behind him and his right leg forward, putting all of his weight on the balls of his feet in a defensive position. His leather boots were tattered and beaten, forsaken by the amount of use put upon them.
The Dark Jedi were close now. Argaal could feel the tension in their hearts as they neared the Temple of Garu; their passion and dedication to the cause.
The man ignited his weapons as two short red blades came rushing from their hilts, bathing the small balcony with ruby red light. The Sith’s eyes became engulfed with passion as he reviewed his lightsabers with infamy.
“YES!” He shouted at the Dark Jedi. “COME ON! I will teach you what it means to trespass on holy land!” The Sith Lord removed himself from his stance and lifted one of his hands into the air, purple-white electricity reaching high into the sky as a beacon.
The Dark Jedi were now close enough that Argaal could see their various-colored lightsabers and their ornate garments. The large group of men split from a large mass into a wide string to increase their range of assault on the temple. The Sith Lord grimaced. “That’s not fair! I see what you are doing! Come on and face me!” As he yelled, the bulky alien leapt off of the balcony and landed in front of the Temple’s gates several meters below.
At last, he could see them for what they were. He could see the hate in their eyes, the malice in their strides and the triumphant glow around their presence. A man garbed in black and gold robes was at the forefront of the assault, speaking a language that Argaal had only heard his masters speaking. His hair was cut short and neat, his gold lightsabers ready at his side. This man was different than the others. His eyes were closed, yet the One Sith Lord could feel the man’s gaze piercing through his soul. He saw him for what he was: a reject.
“How dare you! Now you will face my judgment!“ Lightning protruded once again from his fingertips, the surge of energy relieving some of the anger that Argaal had built up in his body.
They are here…
Rage was all that Argaal knew, rage and the desire to cause these invaders as much pain as he could. His men were useless; they hadn’t uttered a peep or moved off their lazy backsides in what felt like millennia. All the more retribution to be had by him, then! There were eight men who were hell bent on approaching the holy temple of his Lord Garu, some were worthy of his notice, and others were just distractions.
“You will feel the pain of a thousand piranha beetles before I am through with you!” Leaping into the fray, Argaal felt like taking care of the minor nuisances before he took a bite out of the main course. Charging with both blades drawn, he crashed upon the ridiculous looking man with the Mohawk, holding a blue short sword and a saber, overwhelming his defenses quickly, he leaned backward to strike for the kill, when suddenly he was thrown back across the courtyard by an invisible sledge hammer. Flipping backward and landing on his feet, the massive Twi'lek roared in frustration. "Who would dare deny the great Argaal his kill? SHOW YOURSELF WORM!"
"Frakking hell," muttered the man in crimson armor with a golden blade, "this one just won't shut the hell up."
"You insolent dog! You craven whelp, you will be the first to fall to my blades!" Raising his fists in challenge, with his sabers held high, Argaal screamed his defiance; and the blade that had been rattling around before sputtered out. "I don't need it! You'll fall to my blade!" he screamed, charging in a direct line for the bearded man.
With no appreciable size difference, Argaal chose to bulrush him, hoping to take him by surprise, but before he could reach his target, one of the whelps opened fire with a blaster rifle, aiming at his feet to distract his charge. Changing tactics mid-rush would be a challenge for a lesser warrior, but not for the great Argaal. Leaving his feet in a Force-assisted leap, he began a corkscrewing maneuver—lekku twirling around him as he went—and prepared to smite his foe.
Barely heard over his own screaming, Argaal heard the man mutter to the other dung beetles in the clearing, "I got this guys." Amusement wrinkled Argaal's brow when he realized that the fool of a man thought he could stand up against his might. He who had guarded over this temple for years upon years, never failing in his charge; he knew what the golden man had thought of him, but he knew better. He was a Sith, and there was no force in the universe that could resist his power.
As he felt his remaining blade begin to tear into the old greybeard's shoulder, Argaal knew his belief was true, and that only he was worthy of knowing the power of the temple behind him. Somehow though, before his blade could penetrate any further, the man twisted and hammered an armored gauntlet into the base of one of his brain tails, sending him tumbling past and swallowing dirt and shame at not having completed the kill.
As he was preparing to redouble his attacks, a bright lance of fire suddenly began burning a hole through his lower back. His legs went numb, and he could no longer move the lower half of his body. Too late; he realized that a lightsaber was sticking into his back, and burning a hole in the dirt below him. Pushing himself up on his hands, he stared down at the blue blade sticking out of him and heard arguments from around him. The last words he heard were a simple indictment of everything he had believed in for so long. "Be quiet Yacko, Quejo is right, you need to stop toying with people, and we're on a deadline here." He was just a toy to these people, these monsters.
All his life had been a lie.
He has failed.
The voice awoke him from his slumber. Time had passed. Much time. The layers of dust and dirt surrounding him attested to as much. Time had no meaning for him. He was Taral; he who protects. The Temple was all.
He was not of us, Taral responded as he rose. Time had no impact on him. The Temple protected him during his slumber. He would now protect the Temple.
He was powerful.
He was not of us, he repeated as he moved to his designated area. He strode to the great circle. He felt the stirrings of power along the runes that covered his entire body. They vibrated against his skin as he stepped into the indentation designed for him. His senses came alive as they reached out to the surrounding area. He could smell the acrid stench of ozone from the blasters and lightsabers; feel the blood that had been poured on the land.
Above it all he felt power. It filled everything. He was nearly overcome. He took deep breaths and focused his thoughts. He sensed the individual threads that made the whole. Each was unique and their differences vast. Three pulsated with colour; gold, green and red. The threads had stayed for a time around the body of the Other. He did not remember the name of the Other. He was not of them.
The threads now moved in unison toward the Temple.
We must replace the Other with one of these.
Agreed, Taral responded, but there was doubt hidden within his mind. He had felt the threads. The Other had never been this strong.
The threads had passed the threshold of the Temple. They came in tentatively. In the lead was the green thread. His was powerful, but the golden thread at his right was his better. At his left was the thread of red, but his was the least of the three. Others threads there were, but they were beneath his notice.
His words were drilled into the minds of those before him. He saw many fall to their knees as they clutched their heads; all, but the three. They staggered at their feet. The one of crimson fought to control his balance, but remained upright.
“No!” the green-one screamed. Taral felt those words as much as heard them. He teetered on his spot, but kept control of the location.
The others had begun to recover and rose to stand and defy him and the Temple. Wordlessly, with eyes closed, he delved into the core of the Temple. The runes on his body pulsated with incandescent energy. The Temple suddenly glowed in the same energy, mimicking Taral. His eyes shot open as orbs of blinding white. Power flowed from him and over the beings that threatened what had been entrusted to him.
There were screams as he felt threads come under his sway. One by one they fell to his will, and then it stopped. He was blocked. The three wavered, but did not break. He focused on the thread of red and felt the cords snapping. The golden thread vibrated as unintelligible words came from the mouth of the being behind the thread. In an instant the room was once more lit only by the sunlight streaming in the entrance. The runes had all faded away.
The power, Taral thought, I cannot stand against such power.
You know what must be done, Taral
Yes, my brother.
Once more the runes of the Temple glowed in tandem with the runes of Taral’s body. They grew brighter as he stretched out his arms and flames flickered over his fingertips.
As the flames engulfing Taral's fingers began to spread to the rest of his body, he could feel the apprehension of the beings in front of him. He was a construct of the Force, and his purpose was clear, the Temple of the Lord Garu was not to be violated. The rising tenor of the beings in front of him began to alarm him. Never had he failed to dominate a will before, and he was uncertain what they would do if they had the opportunity to try to stop him.
The minds before him seemed to be focused on finding the source of Taral's power, that which gave him strength, and were preparing themselves for an attack from him.
They will never know the source of our strength.
No brother, our secrets will be kept safe, replied Taral. Rest well.
The least of the threads arrayed in front of him was finally recovering, and his fear and bewilderment outshone them all. There would be no respite for him though, the preparations were almost complete. As the flames engulfed him, swirling outward from his runes in scarlet and violet whorls, he could feel his time culminating, and with it, his final rest.
As the ancient guardian finished his concentration, it was the child thread who exclaimed "This place is going to blow!", surprising Taral completely. With the plan laid bare, he redoubled his efforts, sending the pulses of fire outward at a rapid pace, preparing to collapse the Temple of Garu and hide their secrets for all eternity. It was the purpose he was designed for, the only mission that guided him. The Temple was knowledge. Knowledge was power. No other could have such power and Taral was the instrument to ensure the Temple fell to no one else
Suddenly though, the mind of the golden strand was wrapping itself around Taral's own. Its power both beguiling Taral's mind and stealing its power; it was sorcery that was completely unknown to Garu's champion. He could feel its intent, the wizened one was using the destructive force of Temple's enchantments and combining it with his own will, and the will Taral itself to form a protective shielding for his allies.
It is unworthy of us to protect the weak. objected Taral in desperation. Despite the old one's efforts, the enchantments finally took root, and exploded outward, engulfing the Temple in destructive fire.
Answering him came the voice of the golden thread, there is no greater calling than to sacrifice for one's friends, no matter the cost. Even as the sorceries guttered, and Taral's power flowed out of his constructs, the realization that he had failed to protect the temple dawned on him.
I am sorry, brother.
Tears came unbidden to Taral’s eyes as memories flooded over him. He was alive to relive those memories, but his brother was not. He had survived the destruction of the Temple. Only a piece of it still survived and he currently sat upon it. The rest of the rubble was gathered around him and the other beings who had entered.
He looked up with watered eyes. He no longer could feel their threads; he felt nothing from within. He found the one who fought him, though, his body covered in black and gold. He was prone on the ground, his chest seemingly not moving.
It was the green one, clearly. He had bent over the prone figure and laid his hands on his chest. The other had gathered around and ignored Taral; all but the young one who had thwarted him earlier. Blue-grey eyes bore into him. Taral felt anger filling in his gut. It was this one’s fault for what happened and why he hadn’t joined his brother.
Taral made to move, but pains gripped his stomach, doubling him over. He had forgotten what pain felt like. A high-pitched whine escaped his throat and alerted the others.
“What the frack is happening,” he heard one of them yell, but he couldn’t look up. He twisted in agony. His skin was one fire. Pain was all he had.
“His runes are disappearing,” another voice said.
No! Taral screamed in his mind, this cannot be happening! Brother! Lord Garu! Why have you forsaken me?!
“Jac’s alive, but that’s all I know. He needs attention.” It was the green-one speaking. “Leave him.”
“Alive?” another asked.
An unknown sound filled Taral’s ears before searing pain exploded within his skull. Unimaginable pain were his final thoughts.
For Kara Ardellian, this was the worst day of her life. After the disastrous defeat her forces suffered on the surface of Ashas Ree, she was brought back to one of the enemy ships by the large, blue alien she managed to shoot in the shoulder. She sat in the cramped interrogation room, hands tied uncomfortably behind her back, staring at no particular spot on the wall on the other side. With the hours dragging on, she began mulling over the decisions she’d made in the last ten years; lifestyle decisions, career decisions, moral decisions, all of them. She wondered what she could have done differently to avoid her present fate, yet every alternate scenario always ended up with her where she is now.
As the reality of her current situation kept taking hold, Kara finally broke down and began to cry. For nearly an hour tears streaked down her face, causing her eyes to puff up and cheeks to turn red. During that time, she was sure that she was being watched by her captors. When her tears finally came to an end, Kara heard muffled voices from behind the one-way transparisteel viewport. She got out of her chair and leaned up against the wall closest to the noise, hoping to hear something of value.
“...we don’t know how badly he’s injured, but it seems pretty severe. He’s still in a coma.” a voice finished saying. Kara wondered who they were talking about; was it the blue alien? Surely he survived the blaster shot to the shoulder. A cold weight settled in her stomach. If they blame her for his death, she knew she wouldn’t survive the night. A louder voice, perhaps closer to her, continued the conversation “I’m sure he’ll make it through. He’s been through much worse, many more times.”
Damnit, use names! Kara frustratingly thought to herself, hoping to get as much knowledge about her captors before the inevitable, and possibly fatal, interrogation session.
“It’s not that simple, Tarax,” responded a deeper, somewhat older voice “Jac has seen more combat and been through more than most Grand Masters combined. We’re lucky he only suffered as much as he did, you know. He’s not as young as we all think him to be.” Kara began to wonder what had happened to this group after she was knocked unconscious. Was it possible that they might forget about her and let her go? More. I need to know more!
The voice belonging to Tarax began talking again, “What about the woman? The battle is almost over and I don’t believe she’ll be useful to us.” A third voice replied, “Easy, Kor. We will find out what she knows, and if it’s of any use to us we might keep her around for some time. If not...then you can do with her as you please.” A wave of terror washed over the One Sith commander. She had to figure out how to stall her probable fate. I can make a deal with them! she frantically thought. Yes! I’ll tell them everything I know! Even frequencies to disable Roeo’s ships’ shields! That’ll buy me time!
“In fact...” the third voice trailed off, as if it was mid-thought, “She seems to be listening to us now. We may as well begin the interrogation.” Kara cursed at the turn of events and looked for a place to hide. There was nowhere. Knowing she only had seconds before her captors - No, killers. - entered the small room, she kicked over the table and hid behind it.
A second later the interrogation room door slid open. There were two steps as someone walked into the room, a light chuckle, and then Kara felt herself being lifted into the air against her will, unable to move her limbs. Suddenly, her entire body turned to face her tormentor, a human man of above average height who seemed to have been born with a mysterious mutation; his hair and eyes were emerald green. He chose to complement his natural oddity with fitted green and black robes as well. “W-w-what do you want from me?” Kara’s voice was almost shrill with fear.
The green man smiled at her briefly before replying, “You will tell me what I need to know. You will not use your words, since undoubtedly you will lie. I will take what I need from you, and if it is useful, you might live to see another day. If not...well, my dear friend Kor hasn’t yet sated his appetite for dismemberment. I’m sure he’d like to get a chance to meet you.”
Kara’s face lost all colour, and before she could raise any protest felt a sledgehammer hit her in the head. The Dark Jedi used the Force to enter her psyche, and was pulling out everything she knew. It felt like someone took a chainsaw and stuck it into her brain. Before long, the pain became too unbearable to handle and Kara started screaming until her voice gave out.
After what felt like a century, the painful presence finally vanished and Kara was dropped to the floor of the interrogation room as she was let go from her invisible hold. She wanted to yell at her assailant, the monster who psychically raped her, but found that her throat was raw and voice was gone due to the screams. For the second time in as many hours, she began to cry uncontrollably.
She looked up to see the Dark Jedi turn on his heels and leave the interrogation room, only to turn to a tall cyborg standing outside and say, “She knows nothing of use. Do with her as you wish.” The cyborg looked at Kara and gave her a sadistic, bloodthirsty smile as he approached her. The last things she knew were pain, blood, and screams before the end.
Almost as if they were again headed to battle, men and women clamored about the corridors of the Justice, running in various directions, but most toward the hangar bay. “What is going on, Keirdagh?” asked Rathus, who had been tailing the elder Dark Jedi since they returned from the surface.
“I have no idea, but I will find out.” The Aedile of House Taldryan paused for a moment, his eyes closing slightly. Rathus wished that probing the Force would come as easily to him; the Elder barely looked to be concentrating. Suddenly, the man’s eyes opened wide. “Bugger me,” he cried and turned to walk towards the hangar. “Come on, Rathus. Apparently the Grand Master wants to speak with us.”
“Jac’s out of the coma?” Rathus perked up at the thought.
“No. Not that one. The current Grand Master.” Rathus picked up the pace to catch up with the Master. In a few minutes, they had reached the hangar, only to find that the were two of the last to arrive. As was common when the Dark Lord arrived to any house’s ship, the forces were assembled to greet him. Soldiers and Dark Jedi lined the massive room in an orderly fashion, showing a symbol of the strength of House Taldryan.
Among the soldiers, the fiery-haired Quaestor moved about. Keirdagh moved quickly to him. “Rian, what’s the reason for this?” the Aedile got straight to the point. Rathus saw that Rian’s injured shoulder seemed to be on the mend, though he walked gingerly on his left side, so as not to aggravate it.
The Quaestor shrugged at his second. “I received word that he was coming, but there was no reason given. He’s been silent, and you know that a silent Muz is an angry Muz. And dangerous.”
Keirdagh scoffed. “It’s about the Temple of Garu, I’m sure.” He looked around. “Are the others coming?”
“No. Halcyon would make things worse, so I told him to stay away. Sid is with Cotelin. Who knows where Tarax is. The three of us will greet him.” Rian nodded at Rathus.
When the shuttle finally landed, the Taldryan Aedile greeted the Dark Lord politely. Rathus kept to himself, and Rian did most of the talking. After retiring to an anteroom, they recounted for Muz the details of the mission, Keirdagh taking over after Rian’s injury was detailed. Muz seemed to feign interest, only listening intently when the details of the temple explosion were given.
Rian apologized to the Dark Lord. “We failed in our mission to secure the Temple of Garu safely, Lord.”
“I care not about the temple,” Ashen stated cooley, finally breaking his silence. “That is Taldryan’s loss.” He paused. “I care about the Brotherhood’s loss. What of Cotelin? I will see him.”
Keirdagh looked genuinely surprised, and almost pleased at the Grand Master’s response. They took Muz to the medical bay, where Sid and Tarax were watching over the comatose Grand Master. The Lion of Tarthos put his hand on the face and forehead of his counterpart, and for a moment the anticipation of Jac waking loomed in the air. Instead, Cotelin writhed on the bed for a moment before calming back into his deep sleep.
“Leave us,” commanded the Dark Lord, and so they did.
It was some time until Muz Ashen emerged from the medical bay. The others had remained to wait outside, hopeful that whatever the Dark Lord had planned would revive the older Grand Master. Rian made to say something to Muz, but received nothing but a glare and a cold shoulder. The Dark Lord made his way back toward the hangar bay without saying a word. Dutifully, Rian followed behind.
The others went into the medical bay and again took their places by Jac’s side. They were pleased to see him breathing still, but concerned that even the Dark Lord could not revive Cotelin from this state. And there they stood, waiting and hoping.