The Blood Hunt
The War had not gone well for the Dark Council.
At first, it seemed as though the Council would tear itself apart with the appearance of two persons claiming to be the "one and only" Jac Cotelin. As the rift deepened among the Council, the members of the two factions sought to sweep the Clans up into the conflict and force the entire Brotherhood to choose which "Jac" they would follow. At first, the Clans seemed unwilling to participate in the squabbles of the Dark Council, but eventually, all six Clans of Dark Siders took part in the many and varied battles and raids.
As the War came to Antei, Jac Cotelin met himself in battle. Whichever of the two had been the real Grand Master, none could say. In fact, it was highly likely that no one even cared. In the end, this was another petty struggle of the Council that simply allowed Clan hostilities to come to he surface, and even those old rivalries held no appeal for the Clans in this War. At the end, the six Clans united and laid siege to Antei, and threatened to destroy both the Council and Jac Cotelin; both of him.
The destruction of the Council never came. The two Cotelins battled, and one came out as the victor. Whether Jac was "reunited," or simply the surviving half of his essence mattered little. In his state of fatigue after the battle, warriors of the combined six Clans hunted him down and took him captive within the Dark Hall. It seemed as though the Grand Master would be brought before the Consuls in chains, and executed for "crimes."
One does not live as long as the Grand Masters without having a few tricks up their sleeves, however. Jac was both a force for the Dark Side, but also a capable negotiator, and commander of several fleets, since both "Red" and "Blue" forces had amassed several ships. Jac bargained for his life with the Consuls, and gave each Clan various prizes in exchange for his life. The Consuls were also given permanent seats on the Dark Council, to help ensure that the Clans would never again be drawn up into conflicts that were not their own. Even beyond this negotiated truce and the offerings of peace, many members of the six Clans were still full of rage, and ready to continue the assault upon the Dark Council. Someone had to take the blame for this...
* * * * * *
Welshman Corsair, Warlord and Consul of Tarentum, stood upon the deck of the Corsair as the great flagship of his Clan headed back to Yridia. The armies of Tarentum had stood down, and though they were eager to be away from Antei and return home, they were still seething with rage. Tarentum had been one of the last Clans to actually agree to choose sides within the conflict, and the warriors and Dark Siders of the Clan were unwilling to simply let that go; the members of Tarentum were often notorious about holding grudges, and this seemed to be one of their newest grudges in-the-making.
Over the course of several days, as the Corsair eventually came to rest once more in Yridian space, Welshman had been considering several things, least of which would be one of the specific terms of the negotiated truce with Jac Cotelin. Much had weighed upon the Consul’s mind, and he found himself thinking more and more of the freedoms he enjoyed less and less as he became wrapped up in the needs of his position. The time had come for a change, as Welshman saw it, and it was a change that would come about swiftly, and perhaps easily.
As the Corsair entered orbit around Yridia II, a shuttle was prepared for the Consul and ferried him down to the ancient home of the Clan, Castle Tarentum. Dating back to the era of House Tarentum, Castle Tarentum was much the spiritual heart of the Clan as it was one of its centers of strength. The Castle was home to House Tridens mainly, though the Consul and Proconsul also had permanent residence there.
As the specially-modified shuttle soared across the skies of Yridia II, and then sank beneath the ocean-covered surface of the planet towards the entrance of the ancient Castle, Welshman’s thoughts again raced with the changes he saw coming, and on the hunt that would soon be announced to his Clan. Though Welshman had neither the time, nor the desire to consider this occasion in full, the Consul was sure that Tarentum would engage this target with tenacity and all the rage the Clan possessed. The shuttle entered the bowels of the Castle, and came to rest moments later. The now-sealed shuttle bay entrance was drained of water and the landing ramp of the shuttle descended. Welshman quickly exited the shuttle, and left the landing bay. It was time to seek out an old friend, and time for a new era to dawn upon Tarentum.
* * * * * *
“Welshman’s reign as Consul has been a good one,” Sith Bloodfyre was saying to the gathered mass of the Clan, those within the Castle, and to the rest watching via the holonet. “This War has taken its toll upon many of us, and it should be no surprise that our esteemed brother and Consul desires a rest. Gladius will welcome the services of Welshman, and he will depart the position of Consul with our gratitude, and a Ruby Scepter in honor and recognition of his service. Welshman, you have my personal thanks, as well.”
Welshman stood next to the Sith Master upon the raised dais in the grand audience chamber of the ancient Castle, and the two bowed their heads slightly to each other as Sith presented Welshman with his Scepter. Various shouts and praise resounded throughout the chamber in honor of Welshman, and for several long moments, Welshman bathed in the respect and honor afforded him by his Clansmen. Welshman raised his hands for silence, but the members of Tarentum were not to be silenced yet. Several additional moments were spent to provide a fitting tribute to the now former Consul, and the praise was not lost upon Welshman. After another moment, though, Welshman raised his hands a bit higher, and the members of the Clan knew it was time for Welshman to speak.
“Tarentum, you have shown me great respect and honor, and for that, I am grateful,” Welshman began. “However, I am sure that he who follows me will receive the same respect, if not more. The choice for my successor was clear and easy; Tarentum will be returned to the leadership of one who led us before, Master Sith Bloodfyre. And though this may seem as a time for celebration, it is not.
“I have spoken with Sith about this,” Welshman continued, “and we decided that I should bear this news to all of you. Jac Cotelin is again one being, and has negotiated a truce with the Clans of the Brotherhood. You have already heard this news, but there are things which you have not heard. Lord Cotelin has placed the full blame for this conflict upon one head, his former Lord Hegemon, Kaiann Entar. Lord Cotelin has issued a Blood Hunt upon this man, and has decreed that the Clans should hunt down this man and return with his head to Antei. The Clan who brings Lord Cotelin the head of Kaiann Entar will receive additional rewards for the destruction of this new enemy of the Brotherhood. Given the past dealings between Kaiann and this Clan, I believe I can say with some certainty, that we will hunt him down with more tenacity and dedication than any of the other Clans.”
“You’ve heard the news, Tarentum,” Sith added. “I must admit, I felt some dark semblance of pleasure when Welshman informed me of this. I will offer my own rewards, as well. I will gift upon those of you who destroy this man many of the treasures held by our great and ancient Clan. Let us claim Entar’s head, and let us torment his soul throughout the eternities.”
More cheers, shouts and even battle cries rang throughout the great hall. In short order, the Clan began to file out of the hall, some leaving to grab their weapons and begin the hunt, others leaving to make final preparations and such for their journeys. Some would stay behind, of course, but only those who could not join the Blood Hunt because of duties or commitments. At the end, Welshman and Sith stood within the nearly-empty hall upon the dais, glancing down at a few of the Clan who had stayed behind. The Marshal of Tarentum’s armies, Warlord Maxamillian von Oberst glanced up at his allies, the now former Consul, and his newly-appointed successor. Standing beside Oberst was the Aedile of Tridens, the General of Tarentum’s Army and Dark Side Adept, Doni Tzu. Also remaining behind was Sato Khan.
“Ssssso. Changessssss are coming to Tridensssssss then, I take it,” Donitz said, his Yevethan accent heavy.
“Actually, yes,” Sith replied, “and sooner than you think. An ally of Tarentum will be arriving shortly to take command of Tridens. I believe you know him, and will work well with him. Take care of Korras, if you please, my friend.” Bloodfyre cast a slight glance towards the Marshal, but then quickly cast his eyes back to the Yevethan, and allowed his lips to curl into the barest of grins. Though Sith’s head and face were covered in by his hood and the shadows it made, all present were accustomed to the man, and could almost “sense” his slight grin as much as they couldn’t see it.
“Sato,” Welshman said, turning to the Warrior, “the time has come for you to take command of Gladius. Frosty will be returning shortly, but he has already spoken to me of his desire to return the Daemons to Gladius. You will reign over your House now, Quaestor.”
* * * * * *
The group discussed several other issues that affected the Summits of the two Houses and the Clan as a whole. The five men were so deeply involved in their discussion, that they perhaps did not notice a person within the far shadows of the room. Or, perhaps they did sense the presence of another, and did not concern themselves with the presence of the unknown person.
“I find it interesting,” the person whispered to the shadows surrounding them, “that Lord Cotelin would so quickly change from hailing Kaiann as a friend and advisor, and then turn on him when the noose was above the Grand Master’s head. I wonder if there is anything to be discovered from investigating Lord Cotelin…”
Spears stood outside of the busily working on his datapad making arrangements for the upcoming hunt. Those who knew the Master knew that he had been waiting for this opportunity for years, only the potential price the Clan would have to pay for one of its members killing a member of the Dark Council had prevented him for acting prior. With the Grand Master sanctioning this hunt there was nothing to prevent him from seeking his revenge.
Dranik walked up to his old friend, “This whole hunt seems a bit to convenient don’t you think?”
“Most convenient, but Jac is many things and he knows how to cover his own ass. However in this instance our interests are aligned and I intend to take full advantage of the situation.” Spears replied. “You!” the Master bellowed to a passing servant that was busy hauling a load of supplies, take this pad to the communications center and have them send the information off to my Estate NOW. Without another word the servant scurried off.
“What’s so important?” Dranik inquired.
“I need a few supplies brought over from my estate and few of my select servants to assist me in this hunt. I also need to speak with Bloodfyre before I complete my plans.”
Dranik nodded quietly “Enjoy Spears…. I know you, more than anyone want his head on a pike, so if I find him first, I will simply beat him then delver him to you to do with as you please.” Dranik smiled at his own comment as Spears simply laughed quietly before saying “And what of you? You served under his, incompetence too?” Dranik nodded once more “Yes, that I did. But not to the level you did, you did his job for him and I didn’t mind, I was but a Journeyman willing to please in those days.” With this, Dranik simply bowed to the Master, out of sheer respect for his old friend before he walked off and towards the shuttle bay of the Castle. “Dranik, where are you going?” Spears asked as Dranik walked off “To Lyspair, I have some arrangements to make before I set off to join in the Hunt with the rest of the clan.” Dranik stated as he turned the corner and left from view.
Dranik, as always, received many odd looks as he walked towards the Castle’s Shuttle bay. He shook his head quietly with a small chuckle “You would think that, in a clan of darkness, people would be used to the fully armed.” Dranik said to himself, and fully armed for the Templar was an understatement. He was already in full battle load-out, his navy blue storm trooper style armor worn under his, currently, dark green cloak that bore the Clan and House patches on one shoulder and the Shadow Academy symbol on the other with the word Commander above and SASF below. Dranik’s weapons included his Katana, Masume, sheathed on his left side, and his lightsaber on his right. Two Westar-34s in tactical holsters, one on each hip, and a SoroSuub x-45 slung over his shoulder by it’s a shoulder strap. Though Dranik was used to these looks, it still slightly annoyed him.
Dranik quietly walked into the shuttle bay and walked up the ramp to the waiting Lambda Shuttle. He sat down at the helm and spoke into the comm.. “This is Envoy 5 requesting permission to disembark for Lyspair.” A few moments later the flight officer responded with “Permission Granted, safe flights Envoy 5.” And with this the shuttle rose off the platform and started upon its trip to Lyspair.
“I am assuming reparations are on their way from the Council for the loss of materiel in this engagement?” Oberst’s voice carried an annoyed edge. “We are not the Empire, after all, gentlemen. We do not have the galaxy’s resources at our disposal.” Gesturing with his hand, a holographic projection blinked into life at the foot of the grand dais. Numbers scrolled past, detailing the costs of the War to the Clan.
The whirring and clicking of Welshman’s eyepiece cut through the short silence, “We are going to just bill the Council?”
Crossing one ankle over his thigh, Oberst looked up, “Someone has to foot the bill for this engagement. I’m not too keen on it being us.” Waving another hand, the ledger blinked out of existence. “Still, we could always raise prices and pass it on to the other Clans.”
A voice cut through the din, “Marshal, a communiqué has been received from Nivah City.”
Rising quickly, Oberst bowed before his compatriots, “If you will excuse me, gentlemen, our King requires my services.” Striding quickly from the grand hall, the staccato of the Marshal’s boots echoed off the stone floor and walls. Pausing before the grand double leafed doors, Oberst turned his head, “I think I may talk to the Ghost Lady about helping with this hunt.”
Meanwhile, On the planet Corellia...
"Jason, have you heard the news... Lord Jac Cotelin has issued a blood hunt for DJM Kaiann Entar. " Krae'hi piped down the hall from her personal quarters. She closed down her Holonet reciever and stood frome her desk. Recieving no answer she crossed the small space to her door, when the automactic door opened to allow her passage, she poked her head out to try again. " Jason, did you -" She stopped when she saw him exit the meditation room of their quaint three room home on the planet's lush surface in base of the mountain North east from the city Doaba Guerfel.
A dark and troubled look knotted his features, as if something deeply disturbed him. " Yes Krae..." Using her given pet name, " I did hear you, However, I did not hear what you were saying." He turned is gaze toward her as he approached. She straightened, to address her master.
She quietly studied his features for a moment, reaching to him with her fledgling force abilities. "Something is distressing you my master... Please share with me your burden." Krae stated plainly, reading him well.
"In a moment, please reinterate what you said..." He redirected the unwanted attention.
She paused only a moment, and began relating what she had learned on the Holonet. She added finally, "What should we do my master?" Jason chewed on this new information, going over every detail, mentally assesing and coming up with a plan of attack.
"So that was the disturbance I felt..." Jason mumured quietly as if making a mental note. "I do not agree with with our master Sith.... Nevertheless, I feel it is our duty to join Tarentum in this war for the better of the brotherhood..." He lifted his eyes to stare into her golden feline eyes. "No go and pack only what you need and I will go and prep our Fighters." Without waiting for a responce, he dissapeared into his own quarters across the hall.
Krae'hi turned and re-entered her room and lowered at the side of her large oval bed. She pressed a button that would release a storage bin from below, and withdrew a medium sized duffel bag and a shoulder holster. Below the bag, is a duralumin case that enclosed a Relby- K23 and the accompanying sound compressor. She slipped the holster around her shoulders, adusting it over her 3.25 sleeve v-neck shirt. Krae picked up the pistol, secured the saftey, and slid it into the holster. She picked up the sound compressor and slid it into her belt harness.
After returning the Duralumin case to the bin and closing it, she turned to her closet and removed a pair of form fitting work out pants and a light t-shirt. Then she reached into a small drawer and pulled out some personals, a pair of leg wraps, returned to the bedside with all the clothes she gathered and stuffed them into the duffle. Finally, Krae gathered her Electronic study book, handheld computer, and Holonet reciever and stuffed those as well into the bag.
Krae'hi Grabbed a faded black light canvas jacket, and slipped it on over her holster. She gave the room one more once over to be sure that she had everything she needed, she exited the room and the lock initiated behind her as she headed to her X-Wing fighter.
Somehow, Jason had beat Krae'hi to the hangar, and was already half-way through prepping their starfighters. His A-wing, specially modified by himself, was idleing smoothly with the canopy open, and he was currently seated in the cockpit of Krae'hi's X-wing, flicking switches and depressing buttons. The quad set of fusial thrust engines came to life, whining consistently as they warmed-up. Jason watched the readings on the engines, and decided they were within operational parameters with a curt nod. He then stood on the command couch and turned to the astromech droid situated in its' socket behind the cockpit.
"Keep an eye on those laser cannons, would you? I'm still not entirely sure I've got those power flucations figured out," he said, looking the little R5 droid straight in the photoreceptor. It gave an affirmative beep, then prattled on with a series of tweets and whistles. "Yeah, I know...I'm not trying to tell you how to do your job. Just keep an eye on things, ok?"
Jason then turned away from the droid and hopped to the hangar deck, using the Force to soften his landing. He was about to go back over to his fighter when he noticed Krae'hi approaching, and he redirected his course to meet her.
"Getting things ready, Master?" the Trianii inquired, giving him a small smile.
"You're X-wing's warming-up now, and it should be ready in a few minutes," Jason replied, stepping abreast of his apprentice and walking with her towards her starfighter. "I instructed your astromech to keep an electronic eye on the power levels of your cannons, but you should be fine. I'm sure we'll have some time to stop and rewire things as we go, anyways." Krae'hi simply nodded in acknowledgment, then, as they approached the formerly Republic starfighter, stowed her duffle in the cramped cargo hold underneath the fuselage.
"What's our first destination?" she asked, climbing the ladder towards the cockpit.
"I think we should head over towards Yridia II, and see exactly what the rest of the Clan is doing," Jason replied, scratching his scalp beneath his dark, duo-colored hair. "If I know a couple of my old allies, they'll be heading straight for where they think Kaiann will be. Maybe we can attach ourselves to someone, and make ourselves of use."
"Sounds like a plan, Master," Krae'hi responded, nodding her feline head as she strapped herself into the X-wing. "I'll follow you out, as always." Without letting Jason say anything further, she flicked the toggle to close the canopy and slipped her helmet on over her head.
"Just don't get lost in my vapor trail!" Jason yelled at her, grinning happily as he jogged off towards his A-wing. He Force-jumped into the cockpit, landing on the command couch firmly then dropped down to his rump. He started strapping himself in while waiting for the canopy to close, his eyes flicking over the readouts around the cockpit. Everything looks in the green, he thought.
"Ok, let's go, Krae'hi," he said into his helmet's comm mike, easing power into his repulsolifts and gently lifting the small, agile starfighter off the deck. Checking his tactical display, he saw his apprentice doing the same. Once they were both about three meters off the floor, they shoved their throttles past the safety stops, and rocketed out into the warm forrest air.
Demos surveyed the wreckage of the hangar deck. The military recluse had been called by his clan during the previous onslaught to take control of it's star fighter fleet. Part of an agreement of promise he had given to Oberst and Bloodfyre upon entering the clan. The clan would allow him sanctuary to study his arts in peace... but if war came he would have to lend his allegiance to the clan. In time... the recluse had started to fit in and recently became less reclusive.
The one thing Demos "known as Shadowfox by his wingmates" didn't miss about being a flagstaff officer... was reports. He would have to send a report to the S-4 Logistics Staff on the status of their star fighter fleet, S-1 personal strength, and he would have to brief Oberst and Armus on the over-all condition of their forces. With the amount of damage sustained the job of Guarding the Shroud had become much harder. But not impossible. However... he still did not trust Taldryan to lay off with Tarentum in it's damaged state. It was way to opportune for them to attempt to finish off their long time enemy, and they would be foolish not to try.
He didn't have time for foolish political "hunts". He knew it was a diversion to the clans... and hopefully the diversion would last long enough for Tarentum to rebuild it's strength.
The Sith Assassin keyed his comlink. A young 2nd LT answered on the other end. " Sir?" "LT Nior, patch me through to Marshall Oberst's comlink as soon as possible." "Aye Aye sir." responded the LT. "I am NOT a Marine LT... OUT."
He had much to discuss about the tactical situation with the military leaders of the clan. Things were not good. Although, it had been a long time since his intelligence gathering and assassination skills had been used. Master Firefox had not called on him for a long time. The thought of growing complacent disturbed him.
The ship moved slowly and deliberately, the TIEs yearning to move faster as they escorted the single ship toward the platform. Newly commissioned with credits from the Council, the landing pad was barely completed, and only one building stood, only three walls standing to shield the occupants from the elements.
The comm crackled to life in the castle, the insignia of the Dark Council splayed out across the holographic screen, awaiting entry of a consular code. The enigmatic Master arrived on deck, the salutes from the officers answered with a slight tilt of the head. Bloodfyre moved to the communications array, dismissing the technician and entering the code.
"Master Bloodfyre," The black-eyed Herald spoke, slowly and surely. The Tarentae had been allies with his home clan for many years, and his tone was formal, but carried an undercurrent of friendliness. "Your ship is waiting for you, outside the asteroids."
Bloodfyre nodded, his mind recalling the decision as to where they would place their new Belarus Cruiser. "As planned."
"Indeed." Muz nodded, a smile creeping across his face, restrained only by duty. "And I trust that you know of the other reason I am here."
Bloodfyre smiled. He knew that the Herald would not want to go after the former Hegemon without a few necromancers. And frankly, the Herald had more than a good idea as to the whereabouts of the Hegemon. "Yes, I believe I do."
"Excellent. I request permission to land at the Council Platform, and wait for... reinforcements."
Bloodfyre chuckled. "Permission granted, Sadow."
Throughout the meeting, the young dark sider had been deep within his own thoughts. He had worked for Kaiann in the Shadow Academy for a great long while, he recalled those days, though, and he never knew much of the man back then. What he knew of him, he knew from his former clan, Scholae Palatinae. The news that they were to hunt him down came as somewhat of a surprise to him, though, he did not outwardly show signs of the confusion that wracked his mind.
The meeting went by in a mess of voices to him as he thought things over, and soon found himself standing outside the hall. His eyes watched closely the fully armed Dranik, obviously very prepared for whatever could come his way. He then found himself glancing over to Spears, busying himself with his data pad.
Spears is going to participate in the hunt?
The boy watched him a moment longer before deciding it was only reasonable to think so… As he recalled, Spears had been made to do close to all the ex-Headmaster’s work in the Shadow Academy. He recalls himself having worked better with Spears in charge of things there. He found, more often than not, that he did not really have any memories to go against any decision to hunt down the man, no loyalties towards him, and if Kaiann had done what is being said he had done, then…
There was nothing to the debate in his head he decided, he was going to participate. He was part of this clan now, and he would prove himself as part of it. When would Saitou be arriving, he wondered to himself now as he headed towards his quarters to make his own preparations.
“So you are saying he was actually gone before even I had left?”
“Yea… Wasn’t even a definite reason why he had gone, though I am sure we understand now why that is.” Braecen responded.
Mune sighed deeply, he should have known he would not really get any useful information out of his former apprentice in this particular matter, seems no one knew much of anything. He pulled his katana in its scabbard from a wooden box. He slipped the blade free and examined its surface. The weapon had tasted much blood in the hands of the youth that held it.
Braecen’s voice spoke inquisitively; “Why so curious all of the sudden Master?”
Mune glances to the holonet, “You know me…”
“In that case, I’ll send any information I do have.”
“Until next we speak then, Braecen.” The fox cut off the communication and glanced back to his weapon.
He drew it completely from its sheath and spun it in one hand, checking the balance of the weapon, reacquainting himself with it almost. He would partake in the hunt, and he would be prepared to take down the traitor. Sheathing the blade he grabbed up a dagger and his throwing needles. He slipped all into his belt before grabbing his cloak and vanishing out the door. Hopefully he would run into Saitou on his way and they could join up…
Shinichi Endymiron K
"Council Platform Tarentae this is the Fallen Spear, awaiting docking instructions. Over." Krath Epis Shin'ichi spoke into the comm as he guided the personal Ship of the Herald towards the unfinished station. "Fallen Spear you are cleared to dock in bay fourteen. Cut sub-light engines and allow the tractor beam to pull you in. over." The Keibatsu's eyes narrowed. Even though Clan Tarentum would be acting as allies the recent hostilities made the Epis weary of dismissing his distrust of them. "Negative see-pee-tee. Disengage tractor beam. I will catch the trap myself." Not wishing to incur the possible wrath of a Dark Councilor the comm technician acknowledged. Moments later Muz, Shin'ichi and two troopers disembarked from the craft and made their way past the assembled officers in the hanger.
The Keibatsu spoke to one another through the hushed voices of their minds. They have begun discussions on the matter master. Muz nodded slightly. I felt their hatred and excitement before we landed, but no matter, the Grand Master has ordered me to lead this hunt. The Herald instructed his Praetor. Shin’ichi smiled and the Herald and his Praetor nodded to one another before Shin'ichi spoke to the senior officer. "Take us to Bloodfyre at once." With a curt nod the captain motioned for them to follow and headed down a corridor. Time was of the essence. The allies must assemble quickly, and plans must be made if Kaiann was to be neutralized.
Sato streched in his chair, enjoying the sensation of the overstuffed leather as it crackled beneath his weight. The Force roiled, as waves of anticipation rolled off of his assembled compatriots. The young Quaestor lost himself in the cooling grip of the Dark Side coupled with his own anticipation, which caused his attention to falter away from the discourse. He had never had much in the way of personal involvement or interaction with Kaiann, and truly didn't care about his treachery. This was the Dark Brotherhood afterall and treachery had its own benefits...if one could successfully pull it off.
"I asked what Gladius' readiness condition was," Bloodfyre intoned, his voice rising in pitch. Sato brought his focus back to the matter at hand and began running down the mental list he had already prepared.
"This latest row has left us woefully undermanned. A goodly amount of my Journeymen have been killed, and most of my Equites and Elders are still healing from wounds of varying degree." The Sith paused as he scanned the room, looking each darksider in the eye before continuing. "For some time now, agents acting under my orders have been witholding supplies from the over all Clan war effort." Sato paused again as he felt an immediate wave of anger echo through the force, he slipped his hand causally to the hilt of his sabre.
"Would you care to explain yourself Warrior?" Welshman queried, his voice pure ice.
"The concept is simple. The war was swift but extremely costly with sizable losses to our personnel and material. I reckoned it would be...prudent, to nick supplies bound for the fronts and stockpile them as a safeguard against the future. For all of our assembled power, none of us here knew what the future shape the structure of the Brotherhood would be. Despite our lack of manpower, Gladius now stands ready to supply, and re-equip Tridens as well as forces directly under the command of the Clan Summit. Whilst you talked, I transmitted the location and security codes of our caches to both Bloodfyre and Korras. I make no apologies for my actions, that is all I have to say on this matter."
Silence reigned, and all looked to the Consul to view his reaction. For his part, Bloodfyre had remained outwardly contemplative. After a few moments, the Master nodded his head.
"Your forethought serves us well Warrior. I will forgive your treachery...this one time."
Droveth Kathera Vectivi
Droveth shifted comfortably in his quarters, trying to keep the last haze of sleep in his mind. He had been unusually tired lately, he seemed to be using any and all force power unknowingly. Soon, a voice was heard coming towards his room.
" Droveth! Droveth! Wake up! It's a hunt, a hunt!" A chittering apprentice sped into the room, only to see the Rodian clipping his force-fan inside his robes. He looked up, sighing slightly.
" A hunt? For whom?"
" DJM Kaiaan Entar!"
Droveth's head bolted up, staring down the young darksider. having been in the Lounge for so long, he had heard bad things from fellow clanmates. He sighed and grabbed the latest data-disk as it was dropped off at his door.
" Okay, walk with me. I have to hear this for myself."
After Warlord Corsair Tarentae made his announcement of stepping down from the position of Tarentum's leader and Bloodfyre issued word of the hunt for Entar, Maarek left the hall immediately and decided to retire to his quarters to decide on his next course of action. As he strolled down the ancient castle halls his thoughts were centered on the recent 'war' in which he had become embroiled in. Feud was a more accurate term in Maarek's opinion, and a petty feud at that. The vaunted Dark Jedi were known as wielding great power, yet Maarek had just witnessed them squander their strength and resources on a trivial struggle for dominion. Even though his own tactical skills as a fighter pilot and military officer had proven useful to his own Clan in gaining a small amount of prestige, he felt as if he had been embroiled in a squabble between adolescent children. And now the leaders of the Brotherhood had proclaimed yet another traitor to the Dark Jedi order and that traitor's destruction. Even though Maarek had made progress in rising within the Brotherhood, the goals to which the order and its Clans committed themselves cast doubt on his very presence in it all.
This is not why I came here.
Maarek finally reached the door to his personal quarters. After the security system confirmed his identity the single door slid silenty into the wall and then slid back out again after Maarek entered. He entered into his bed chambers and sat down, trying still to make sense of his thoughts.
He could think of nothing to make sense of the myriad conflicting thoughts concerning the methods of Tarentum or the rest of Brotherhood for that matter. Maarek then looked up and his eyes fell upon the Warbanner which hung on the farside of his bedroom wall. The banner had been made for him recently upon his promotion to Guardian, a promotion which he suspected that Melkor the commander of his Battle Team may have had a hand in. Maarek did not request anything too extravegent when he commissioned the banner, but it held particular significence to him. The blood red cross, with the Imperial seal etched in the middle suddenly cut through the haze of the confusion that had plagued his mind and clarity once again returned to his thoughts.
If they only knew what that symbol actually meant.
His purpose for being in this cursed place was reinstilled in his mind once again. The goals of the Brotherhood's seemed petty but his own goals were what truly mattered in the end and they would be achieved no matter what. He had sworn to this.
Maarek considered the hunt for this Kaiann Entar to be just another petty grudge the Brotherhood's current leaders sought to settle, but what in fact if it was more. Maarek had still been unable to explain the appreance of the black clad Stormtroopers on Antei and the shuttle with Taldryan markings they had used to arrive on the planet. Even though Maarek had killed two of the troopers and destroyed the shuttle the rest of them had dissapeared in the confusion of the final battle of the Brotherhood's feud. The fact that Taldryan had been proclaimed the dominant clan of the feud had only filled Maarek with more suspicion that something else was happening behind the scenes.
Knowledge is power.
A course of action suddenly formed in his mind. If this man, Entar, possessed any information that would shed light on these events or any other critical information then that alone would justify Maarek seeking him out himself. If he knew nothing about these matters at all then perhaps the hunt itself would provide some information that would be of use.
The question now was where to start.
As he had since he first joined the Dark Jedi order and become active in its recent civil war, Maarek decided to pay a visit to the man who had been the most influential in helping him during his time within the Brotherhood.
“I have full confidence in their ability, My Liege,” Oberst intoned gravely. His head was bowed. He was upon one knee before the holonet platform. Before him, his King’s visage hovered.
The image of Khyron blinked twice before he replied, “Very well, Marshal. Proceed at your discretion.” Khyron’s visage disappeared, leaving the larger man kneeling. Oberst remained kneeling until he could tell that his Master had left the communications room hundreds of parsecs away. Rising, he kept his head bowed as he walked backwards, away from the platform. Upon reaching the doors, Oberst lifted his head. The doors slid open with the familiar hiss of compressed air as the Field Marshal turned on a booted heel.
As he stepped out into the hall, he noticed a young page barreling down the halls. Reaching out a gloved hand, he caught the young boy by the collar of his shirt. Oberst brought the boy to eye level, Oberst’s narrowed as the young page’s widened in shock. Calmly, Oberst asked, “Why are you running through my castle?”
Out of breath, the page replied, “Sir, the Herald is upon the Emissary Platform seeking an audience with Master Bloodfyre.” Each word was punctuated with a huff as the young man attempted to bring his breathing under control.
“I see,” Oberst paused, “Unfortunately I need the Consul’s ear right now.”
“But, the He- ,” the boy was cut off before he could continue.
“Find Master Spears. Let him know I would like him to speak with the Herald and his retinue.” Oberst set the young boy down and made to turn. Before he did, he reached into his coat and pulled out a ring on a chain. “You might want to hand this to the Master, sometime after you disturb him and before you speak. It is my seal and will let him know you approach him for me. Otherwise, you might find yourself missing supper tonight.” Oberst paused before continuing, “And every night from now to eternity. Go. He is within Master Zero’s library. The guardians will let you pass with that ring.”
The young man took off in the same direction that he had originally come from. Running as if some ghoul was chasing after him. Considering where he was, that wasn’t exactly impossible. Oberst turned and went in the opposite direction to wait in the Consul’s office.
* * * * * *
The Gen’Dai who’s face suddenly filled the screen startled the dark skinned human. That Shin’ichi did not flinch was a testament to his training. Unfortunately that was not the response the Gen’Dai Master was hoping for. Before either man could greet him he bellowed, “I hope you have a very good reason for disturbing me.”
“Master Spea -,” the Herald began and never got to finish.
“A young page said that my presence was requested. I am somewhat busy right now reading Master Sirrus’ notes on inducing dementia in test subjects,” Spears growled for emphasis.
“I spoke with Master Bloodfyre himself, before my Praetor requested his presence,” the Herald began slowly, “We figured he would already be in attendance.”
“Master Bloodfyre is currently engaged with the Field Marshal on more pressing matters, because of that I was called,” Spears flicked his gaze between the two men.
The Herald offered a grin, “Surely a new ship is more important than anything those two can discuss?”
“What part of ‘more pressing matters’ eludes you, Master Herald?” Spears snorted in disdain. “When he has a moment, I am sure he will arrive. Until then, I trust you both have the courtesy to not issue summons for your hosts?” Before a response could be rendered the screen went dark.
* * * * * *
Two sets of steps echoed along the Death Walk. The glass and transparisteel bridge that circled the three towers of the Castle. All around, the inky blackness of the ocean surrounded the two men. Lights dotted the walkway, allowing one to peer deeper into the abyss. Occasionally one of the many creatures in the depths ventured too close to the walk. In those instances, a force field kept them from colliding with the glass and damaging it.
“Were you able to contact Lady Nilani, Marshal?” The Consul’s voice cut through the repetitive echo of their footfall.
“Not as of yet, Master Bloodfyre,” the larger human paused, “She will be at my estate in the morning. I shall impose upon her schedule then.”
The soft rustle of cloth signaled a shift in Sith’s posture as the two continued to walk, “Impose?”
Feeling the Consul’s gaze upon him directly Oberst answered, “Master Shade has kept her busy locating the owners of some archaic texts and…bargaining…with them.” A flash of blue to his left signaled that some fish had attempted to travel too close to the lights. “Still, I might be able to underscore the relief she could render to us.” The two men continued, their discussions drifting off to matters of state.
Dranik looked up from the Shuttle’s control pads and raised a slight eyebrow as he passed a ship bearing the Herald’s Office’s logo. He silently wondered what Muz would be wanting with Tarentum as his own Lambda shuttle shuttered slightly as it made its jump into Hyperspace. Dranik checked the navigation panel one last time to insure that it was programmed for his return flight to the Shadow Academy’s landing pads.
Silently Dranik stood from his seat and headed into the back of the shuttle to sit down at a Comms panel and key in a few names, within moments the recorder came to life as his sent his message to the Soul Whisperers. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Soul Whisperers, this test has been imposed before us from our Clan Leadership and I expect that we will serve whatever purpose they have desire of us to do. I am, currently in route to the Shadow Academy to take care of some business but I expect each of you to report to Sato and ask him where you can help the Clan and House in this hunt. Do as he instructs and I shall see you all safely once again.” Dranik reached up and cut the transmission before starting to key in several other codes into the panel as he called up a lot of information, including the droid command interface for his personal landing pad on Lyspair. He keyed a few more commands to have the droids start preparing his Ship for departure.
Sometime later in his flight the alarm sounded that his shuttle had started landing at Lyspair. A few moments later the Templar was walking down its ramps and towards the main Security office of the Shadow Academy. Along his route several soldiers saluted him and spoke crisply “Commander”. Dranik nodded to each and looked down to his wrist mounted data-pad and keyed in a priority alert and opened a channel “Command to Patrol 3, Order 337.” Dranik then closed the link, knowing that the Guards knew that command meant for them to meet in Dranik’s personal hanger.
Dranik finally reached his office and opened the door with his personal security code and then walked over to a large vaulted safe door and opened it, the door was a manual lock and a computerized lock. He walked into the large weapons vault and picked up a backpack and loaded it with a few extra things before slinging it on his shoulder and walking back out of his office, sealing both doors on the way. Dranik made his way silently to his Hanger and made it a point to avoid as many people as he could by taking the long way around.
Dranik reached his personal hanger and unsealed the door. He smiled as he laid eyes upon his Modified YT-1930 and nodded to the two SASF guards that were waiting. “I trust you know what to do and I hope that you brought your equipment with you. Board the ship and I will speak with you both more later.” Both guards nodded and turned to board the ship. Dranik looked back to the ship itself and watched the droids busy at work. They were very quickly finishing up painting the ship its dark green color with black trim. He turned around as he head a hiss of the hanger door behind him and came face to face with the Headmaster.
“Master?” Dranik questioned slightly and lowered his head in respect to his Master. “Going somewhere Dranik?” Anshar asked quietly and received a nod from his student. “I am, Tarentum has issued a blood hunt per say. And I intend to join in; I will be off campus for sometime in this, though I already have plans to run my course via holonet. Besides, you yourself may be interested in joining in on this Hunt…the Hunt is for Kaiann.” Dranik stated a slight hint of distaste as he said the name however. Anshar simply nodded and spoke softly “Very well then….”
Anshar did not say anything else. Truth be told, he had nothing more to say on the matter. It would not be the first time that Dranik, or anyone else, had gone on missions. All Shadow Academy staff members worked for their clans, too, and were at the beck and call of their summits. The Shadow Academy would survive. As it was, students had not started to return to the Shadow Academy in great numbers just yet.
“Be wary, Dranik,” said Anshar as he turned to walk away. “Kaiann is a master, and no push over, no matter what others may claim. Even if the clan finds him, the battle will ultimately be decided master to master.” Dranik did not reply, but his silence told Anshar all that needed to be said. Dranik knew Anshar was right, and he knew that Kaiann was, quite simply, out of his league. But, Dranik could aid in the hunt. Dranik spoke up, stopping Anshar as he walked away.
“What will you do?” Dranik asked. “Will you join us in the hunt?” Anshar did not respond immediately. Anshar, like all other members of the Shadow Academy, had his clan loyalties. As a Tarentae, Anshar was dedicated to the clan. Yet, at the same time, Anshar had duties and responsibilities as the Headmaster, duties that extended to the entire Brotherhood. Anshar turned his gaze onto Dranik, and it was then that Dranik got a good look at Anshar’s face. He saw a tired, weariness in the Headmaster, something he had never noticed in all the time the two had known each other. After what seemed like several minutes, Anshar responded to Dranik’s question.
“There is much to do, and much to be done,” replied Anshar. “The Shadow Academy is still a mess from the war, and I have much to do. That I have had some disagreements with Kaiann over the years is not important to me. I will aid the clan in whatever ways I am able to, but I do not intend to participate in the actual hunt. I will leave that business to the clan’s hunters.” Dranik merely nodded, not mentioning how he perceived the Headmaster’s condition to be. It did strike him as odd, though, because Anshar had always been one to handle the ups and downs of whatever job he held. Something else was bothering the Headmaster, but now was not the time for Dranik to ask. Motioning to the two guards, Dranik prepared to leave the Shadow Academy.
Anshar returned to his quarters, his rounds of the Shadow Academy over with. Dranik had been long gone. He was tired and felt drained, and fell onto his bed. Anshar could only imagine that Dranik had noticed it; but, in the end, it didn’t really matter. Anshar himself wasn’t certain why he was worn out. He had been through hell and back before, and had managed to come out just fine. In reality, the Shadow Academy was in fairly good shape, as the fighting had not touched Lyspair, or the Shadow Academy. Even the Shadow Academy’s corvette had been untouched by the fighting. Perhaps Kaiann had ordered the blue forces to ignore the corvette, in hopes of capturing the vessel, if for nothing more than sentimental reasons.
Suddenly, Anshar’s comm pinged. It was followed by a small series of beeps that indicated it was a high priority message. Sighing to himself, Anshar flicked the comm on with the Force. A small holographic projection of one of the non-Force using staff officers appeared. “Sir, my apologies for disturbing you, but there’s a situation.”
“What is it, Lieutenant?” asked Anshar.
“Well, sir, the Palantir has left orbit, and is making its way towards the jump point. They’re not responding to our hails, either,” replied the young officer. “We can’t stop the ship, either; we have nothing to give chase.” Anshar jumped up.
“How long until they make the jump?” asked Anshar as he grabbed his two lightsabers and his cloak.
“They’re one minute out,” replied the officer. “Readings show that the engines are burning at a higher than normal rate; they’ve dumped all reserve power into the engines.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” said Anshar. “Have my ship prepared. Professor Juliani can handle the administration of the Shadow Academy until I return.” Juliani was a non force user who had fled with the Brotherhood during the split. Once working for the Emperor's Hammer research and development division, he saw the Brotherhood as his only way to escape. He was a very bright and intelligent teacher of astrophysics and he offered courses for those interested.
Anshar made his way to the hanger, where the Crimson Angel, his YT-2000, was docked. If nothing else, he would track the ship himself. Anshar could only guess that Kaiann had planned for this, and he had staffed the ship with loyal followers before he left the Headmaster’s position. As he reached the hanger, Anshar sighed to himself. So much to do, and not enough time to take a vacation.
Muz nodded as the hologram dissipated, shruggingaside as he looked to his praetor. "That's pretty unusual, even for Spears..."
"How's that?" Shin grimaced at the entire conversation as it replayed in his head.
"Spears and I have been friends since I joined the Brotherhood, more or less." Muz mused, pacing slowly in the reception hall. "Someone must be plaguing him..."
"Or it could just be that the Tarentae are presumptive and rude..." Shin countered, his eyebrow perking up as he goaded.
Muz chuckled at his praetor as he turned at the end of the room. "The bond between Spears and I runs deep. I suspect someone is forcing his hands."
"Well, we haven't terribly long to wait..."
"No, we don't." Muz scratched his chin. "They've only got a few hours before we have to leave, with or without their aid."
"Yes, but can we handle..."
Muz raised a hand to silence the equite. "Settle, now. They know full well that I know where He was going, and if they want a shot at him, they'll have to accompany me. And to be honest, I would enjoy Spears' or Bloodfyre's help. We're not after just any rogue."
Shin nodded, his eyes darting to the door as a page arrived.
Muz turned slowly to watch the servant advance. "Plus, little brother, we both know how much they hate him... they'd not give up this chance."
Szordryn found the steady hum of the hyperdrive provided a good background for his meditations, though he was finding it hard to concentrate right now. His absence from the Clan during the recent jedi war was possibly inexcusable and now he was returning to Yridia to rejoin them. He was feeling understandably apprehensive and his focus was not complete. Yet...it was not that which was troubling him. His reason for absence was genuine and not an issue here so why did he feel this way?
"Coming up on Yridia now, exiting hyperspace in 5 minutes. You awake in there Szord?". The voice of his cousin Shakta was a welcome excuse to call it quits and join him on the command deck. "Sure thing, thanks." he replied into the intercom. He left the passenger bay and went to the command pod.
Shakta heard him come in and greeted him, "Have a seat, we have a spare for you. You know, you really look out of it, even for you. Don't worry so much." "You know I am not worried," replied Szordryn calmly, "I feel something, a sense of excitement and danger. Make sure the shields are up when we exit hyperspace. Although I don't feel we are in danger it might be prudent." "Way ahead of you, warming them up now. Here we go" Shakta deftly manipulated the controls as the ship exited hyperspace neatly and as planned, near but not too close to the Clan base around Yridia II.
The intercom burst into life "Unknown freighter, identify yourself, you are in restricted space." Szordryn replied quickly, interrupting Shakta "Flight Leader Szordryn Telnos of House Tridens reporting for duty and requesting clearance for landing. Carrying cargo for unloading. Beaming identification now." "One moment while we verify your details....OK you are cleared Flight Leader, proceed to docking bay Sigma." The intercom fell silent. "OK Shakta, lets go in, that one over there." He directed Shakta to the docking bay. "I will see you soon Shakta, you oversee the unloading, give the manifest to Lt. Kryte who should be on duty now." He grabbed his long coat and left quickly.
He headed straight for the office of the duty commander to report and get up to date on the current situation. The officer was not someone he was too familiar with, so he curtly reported in and requested shuttle transfer to Castle Tarentum. He would be on the next flight down.
On his way back to the ship he ran into the person he most wanted to see, Merlance. "Commander!" he called out to him. Merlance spun to face him and he noticed his commander's new insignia. Bowing low to Merlance, Szordryn hesitated slightly. Merlance interrupted him "Glad to see you back, I trust all went well on your business? Is that your freighter in the docking bay?" "Yes it is, I managed to get some supplies too, pure grade Tibanna gas and some weapons from Dxun." Szordryn indicated the mandalorian design sidearm on his belt. "As for business I will fill you in on that later, but what is going on, who are they?" He indicated the personnel in the dark uniforms. Merlance replied "They are from the Dark Council, accompanying the Herald on business. There is a blood hunt to track down Kaiann Entar and the Herald has arrived to enlist the aid of the Clan. If you are looking to do something useful you could always assist." He smiled grimly at Szordryn, knowing that he wanted to make up for his absence in the war. "I might just do that Sir."
Szordryn ran back to the ship, and as he went he heard Merlance's voice in his head "By the way, you have a new wingman from the Battleteam. You may wish to take him along", then the voice was gone. Szordryn considered the option, a new wingman, well well. Better not make the mistake he made last time.
Melkor sat aboard the GSP Stygian made way back in his quarters on deck two holding his COM link in one hand. The Stygian rejoined the VSD Corsair in orbit of Yridia II after refueling and rearming it’s concussion missile storage on Aegis awaiting orders on his next move reading a data pad storing information already acquired on Kaiann and Araina. Aware that he alone could not hope to take on either alone he still studied the traitors and speculated to himself in thought of what shall happen next. Sitting his data pad down and got up to get him a drink from the officers’ galley.
Just as the knight stood and walked to his galley and poured himself his drink his COM link began to crackle to life and Welshman began to speak, “for the moment keep patrol of the system as normal, and I will let you know when farther action is needed." Melkor replied, “Yes master." He sat his drink down turned and walked back on to the bridge of the Stygian and ordered, "Set 250 degrees and enter patrol of the system." Just as the words left the knights mouth the ship began to come about and move towards breaking orbit alongside the Corsair.
Hidden in the shadows of the hall, a Dark Jedi Knight leaned against a wall, thinking about his first step on this hunt. “Jac didn’t tell the clans something, in know it.” Elric thought to himself. A spring of genius came to him. “And that is where I will start.”
Elric Kyes was now finally leaving the hall, his mind made up. Jac knew Kaiann well, and chances were that if anyone had some good starting clues to where he would be, it was Jac. Tyrus Bruth'Kothae had snuck up on him and jumped in front of him.
“Hey Elric, long time no see!” Elric was shocked, as he hadn’t seen him in such a long time, and they shook hands warmly as two Dark Jedi could. Immediately the conversation moved to the Blood Hunt.
“So, where are you going to start?” Tyrus asked.
Elric remembered that this was a Master they were bringing down, and he would need all the help he could get; even if it meant sharing some of the glory. So Elric unraveled his plan, and Tyrus was hooked. They would go to Antei, Elric would talk to Jac, and Tyrus would scour they records for any information on Kaiann. They entered the hangar, looking for the ship which would bring them glory.
Mune moved silently through the halls of the Tarentae base. The place remained still somewhat unfamiliar to him, even after spending the couple weeks here that he has since his arrival. He wondered just how long it would take… How long had it taken for him to get used to Scholae? He sighed a bit and growls at thinking of the place. He hadn’t left on good terms at all, and maybe this was the perfect chance for him to work off some steam…
He watches those rushing about in preparation for the hunt. He couldn’t help but wonder in the strategy being employed… was everyone simply scattering or were they to move in a force as a clan. “Damn it… Kaiann is not a push over…” he mutters to himself as he walks, tail swaying lightly.
He caught a few stray glances his way and he simply snarled, bearing his fangs only slightly to warn off the looks along the way. Was someone of his appearance so unusual here… of course it was, he chuckled. This place was a clan of necromancers, another area for him to study and explore... “I could grow to like it here, it is already far more comfortable than it was but moments ago…”
The Ktsma’at could not help but be annoyed as everyone seemed to simply go their own ways. What did they think they were going to do to Kaiann on their own? He listened to conversations, simple banter, and rumor floating about. One name caused ears to perk and he listened in silence. ‘Muz?’ He wondered mentally, ‘Coming here?’ A grin crossed his muzzle, if that were true, maybe they were all on the same mission, of course, speculation on his part but it never hurt. He reviewed what he knew of the clan workings thus far and knew the guest, even the Herald, would not be coming here… thus…
“I will see to them, Master Bloodfyre.” Oberst bowed to the consul before they went their separate ways.
Mune waited a moment before approaching and fell a step behind the Marshal. Being new to the clan, he was unsure as to how Oberst would take his presence. There was nothing said for a moment, and then the fox broke the silence as they walked through the busied corridors. “I do not mean to intrude, Sir Oberst.”
“Then why do you do so?” The Marshal shot a glance to the bestial one that spoke, studying and recognizing him.
“Okay… then I fully intent to intrude then, Sir.”
His voice betrayed no emotion whatsoever, even if he were slightly irritated. With a breath he continues. “I do not know your intentions at this time, nor do I claim to understand Tarentae yet… I do desire to join in this hunt, but, so many splitting up rather than going at Kaiann all together seems a bit… ludicrous… I believe that would be the best word for it.”
“Bold of you.” The Marshal continued his steady pace.
“I would like to request accompanying you, for the time being. I am certain another route will open upon this path to Kaiann…”
“You seem sure of yourself… umm…?”
“Mune, Sir. Munesanzun Mitsukai Isradia, Arch Priest.” The boy introduces himself, trying to have as much authority to his voice as he can, trying to make a good impression. When Oberst motions for him to follow, he takes it as a good impression made.
Droveth Kathera Vectivi
Droveth was grateful the apprentice had left him be, for he had important things to deal with. He entered the Hangar bay and found is special Tie Fighter, customized for multiple persons to fit inside it. Sliding in, he typed in his Access code. The machines set to whirring and buzzing. Droveth jumped out to refill the engine and grab his flight jacket.
He planned to find his Mentor, Sephiroth Storm. But, as luck would have it, he was no where to be seen. So he as on his own, for now.
" I have got to find someone else. I can't even get close to Kaiann alone." Droveth sighed, leaning back and strapping in.
" I feel like this is going to be a long flight."
Maarek was able to reach the Stygian and dock his TIE Avenger with the small Corellian Gunship just as it was breaking rank with the Corsair to begin its patrol of the system. After disembarking from his fighter Maarek immediately inquired to the whereabouts Dark Jedi Knight Melkor and was promptly informed by one of the docking crew that he was on the bridge. Stele immediately made his way to the bridge, being stopped just outside the entrance by a couple of sentries asking for his identification and purpose. He told them he needed to see the Stygian's captain and that it was important.
One of the sentries com'd the bridge from outside informing Melkor of the Guardian's arrival and request to see him. Melkor ordered the bridge crew to proceed with their duties and exited the bridge.
"Maarek. This is unexpected. To what do I owe this visit?" Melkor asked.
"It concerns the recent 'Blood Hunt'", Maarek replied, rolling the phrase around in his mouth like he was testing it out. He was still somewhat unused to the words that the Brotherood labeled matters of business such as tracking down a fugitive. "As leader of the Prophets I wished to consult with you before taking any further action. I'm still somewhat new to the Brotherhood and sought counsel."
"Very well. We'll speak in the meeting chamber."
The two men sat opposite each other at the large conference table in the meeting chamber. There Maarek relayed to his Battle Team commander his concerns and questions about the hunt. Specifically as to whether it was possibly a chance for advancement or just a fool's errand for the junior members of the Clan. Stele also confessed his suspicisions concerning his pursuit of the shuttle with the semi-Taldryan markings and the black Stormtroopers in the closing days of the recent war.
Melkor looked to be considering the information the Guardian had brought to him carefully, as Maarek waited for a reply and advice on a possible course of action.
As Szordryn made his way to the freighter to check on Shakta, he pondered on Merlance's words. Did this mean he had no personal instructions for him? Was he doing something on his own perhaps? Never mind, he had very little personal contact with his commander so did not know his mind well enough to question his track of thinking.
He arrived at the bay in time to see the last of the cargo being removed, "Damned efficient that, in my old squadron they were only that fast when there were Imperial ships attacking. Must commend the duty officer when I see him next" he mused. Then he considered he may have to refrain from any reference to his 'old profession' since most of the crew of the station probably were those imperials that he used to fight. "Oh well, times change. Now where is that cousin of mine?"
He found Shakta with the duty officer, filling in the paperwork. They seemed to be finished and he handed something over to the officer, who quickly slid it away out of sight. Szordryn looked the other way as he turned round, pretending not to notice. "I am all set to go now Szord, just refuelled so I will see you around." He turned to go but Szordryn waved him over to a quiet portion of the hangar bay. "Look, there is something I wanted to ask, how would you like to stick around for a while and maybe fly this somewhere?" He motioned to the YT-1300 now ready to depart. "Oh no you don't, there is no way that I am getting involved in your darksider dealings." Shakta was backing off from the friendly contact. "What makes you think you aren't already? After all whatever contraband you just handed over could probably get your ship confiscated and you fed to the fishies down below. Don't be forgetting how you came by that ship either. Now I am asking nicely." Szordryn looked at him carefully for his response, reaching out with the force to gauge his response. Shakta's response was exactly as he hoped, "Don't you be using your jedi mind tricks on me, you know it won't work, I was trained as a Beast Master you know!" Szordryn pushed his advantage, he knew his cousin well "and that is exactly why this is perfect for you. We are hunting." Shakta looked puzzled, "Hunting what?" "Not what, who. A dark side master and you are the expert on tracking down mad beasts from the dark side, remember the Novarro Canyon hunt, when it was your understanding that saved the team from the traps of the beast? We could certainly use your knowledge"
Shakta considered carefully, but his answer was not what Szordryn anticipated, "Sure I will help you out, here is a data cartridge from my archive, it has all my diary entries which explains everything. You have been on enough hunts yourself so you can figure it out. Now can I go?" he handed over the chip from his datapack and regarded Szordryn carefully. "Ok then, I guess that will do, see you around and all that." He took the chip and put it away, giving Shakta a salute, "Now get out of here before I remember why I shouldn't let you." Shakta called back to him as he went up the ramp "May the force..., you know. Your stuff is over by the wall."
Szordryn checked out his kit and called over a droid to move it to the shuttle bay. He still had to get on that flight to Castle Tarentum after all, and see what was going on in detail. The shuttle was getting ready to go so he stepped aboard. The flight was quick and uneventful, lacking in the niceties he thought, such as cheerful conversation or even a female flight attendant. All glum faces and serious demeanour. Was it just for him, that they dare not reveal humour in front of a Darkside Necromancer. Understandable, perhaps. He wondered if he asked them if they had seen a ghost, would they say yes? Probably would. Oh never mind then.
The ship landed, bringing his mind back to focus on more important matters. He planned on getting the dossier on this master, then reading through his notes from Shakta and then lets go see someone important.
Disembarking off of the I-7 Howlrunner, the two Tarentum strode out onto the Antei landing platform. Elric gave a quick glance to Tyrus, who slinked into the Dark Hall. He then gazed up at another platform where he could feel the overwhelming presence of Jac Cotelin.
Tyrus walked calmly through the halls, looking like he was on some casual, easy business. That changed once he hit the elevator. Closing the doors so no one could be with him, Tyrus threw a hood over his head and left for the library. Upon reaching the floor, The Jedi Hunter slid out, not making a sound as he passed Krath delving into knowledge of the books that lay on desks. Looking around for any curious eyes, he slipped next to the Archives doors. Reaching into his robes, Tyrus pulled out an electronic device and placed it on the security panel. Numbers started to flick across the small display, and one by one they fell into place and stopped moving.
A light flicked green, And Tyrus opened the door to the Archives. Moving his head side to side, he peered for any other occupants. None where to be seen, and Tyrus set down and a console and hit his first search.
Jac Cotelin was enjoying some nice drink, watching a solar eclipse on Antei. He sighed, and was thoroughly enjoying himself. A hiss of the door behind him, and he instinctively reached for a lightsaber on the table.
“No need for that Grand Master.” Elric said, coming up from behind.
Jac motioned, “Sit.” And a chair rose out of the floor. Elric did as asked. Jac continued, “You know that killing my guards is an offense I can lock you up on.” Jac sensed out and count the damage the knight had done to his droid guards.
Elric smiled a little, “yeah, get a better training module for them, they weren’t too tough for some one who is determined to ask questions.”
Jac raised an eyebrow, “About what?”
Elric leaned on the small table, “why did you lose control over the clone?”
Jac rolled his eyes. “Now why should I even answer a question that a trespasser and destroyer of my property ask?”
Elric kept his voice level. “I’ll give my own reasons to the Clans. You know better than anyone that the War didn’t end rivalries. It fed them. They won’t be happy to find that Kaiann tried to stop the War before it happened.”
Jac put his hand on the table with a bang. “Are you threatening me Knight? My, you are quite the fool.” Jac kept on. “Do you know what happens to your body when you have a Force-Clone?!?”
Elric put his head done and inaudibly, “No.”
Jac let out a quick laugh to further put down the young man. “You split your soul in half: one for each body. And when you come back together, your memories fuse, creating a hell of images and noises.” The Grand Master, in his disgust, got up. Elric thought and acted fast to prevent his source of information from leaving.
“I am not done with my questions, sir. And give me straight answers, I am not an Acolyte, I think I deserve them.” Elric boomed: his eyes still glued to the floor.
Jac eyes widened in disbelief, “How dare you tell me when the questions are done! I should treat you as an Acolyte! You are definitely as stupid as one.”
“Sir,” Elric began, raising his head, “you are quite the diplomat. You know about common courtesy. For the sake of such confusion never happening again, please let me continue.” Jac quietly slid back into his chair, his anger still seething inside. “Why do you want Kaiann dead? I must know.”
Jac drummed his fingers on the table a little before answering. “Because Kaiann tired to sell out the Brotherhood.” The Knight gave a quick gasp. Jac looked at him. “You have had that idea enter your mind have you not?”
Elric replied, “Yes sir. But I… I thought that it was you who were trying to sell the Brotherhood.”
Jac, in full rage for such effrontery, banged both fists on the table, sending his glass flying off. “Why should I sell you out?!?” he started. “I have the power, the fame, and money that go with this job. I can go no higher. If there was the One-Clan, I could and would lose my power to a unified front. Kaiann could take over, and hand the reigns to another organization. If there was no Grand Master, just six squabbling Clans, like there was in the War, another group could come and pick up the pieces. Kaiann would profit if he was with them, told them where and when to strike.”
Elric had been defeated he knew that now. This was high treason Kaiann, and Elric too if he kept with these questions, had played out. The anger that Jac had now was sown into the Knights heart. Elric stood, bowed to his superior, and said, “Forgive me of my insolence, sir.”
Jac peered into the young man’s heart and felt the rage burning him. “Your forgiveness will come when you bring Kaiann in the Dark Hall. Dead or Alive.”
Elric, realizing the luck he now had to escape with his life and bring down his anger of the greatest betrayal he had ever known, left.
Tyrus left the Archives and met with Elric at the entrance to the landing platform.
“Elric,” Tyrus asked, “What did you find out from our GM?”
Elric let the question sit in his mind and told him of the discussion. Then both walked in silence to the Howlrunner.
“So what do you want to do now?” Tyrus asked. Elric thought and said,
“We are going to Nar Shaddaa. I have family who can help us out.”
The duo loaded up, left the atmosphere and hit the hyperspace lanes to The Smuggler’s Moon.
Melkor inventively thought of how to word his response to Maarek about his concerns of these black armored stormtrooper's because, if he was correct in his assumption these troopers were some of the highest trained soldiers one could in counter, and he hoped that Taldryan just acquired the armor off the black market and his fears of Remnant agents in the mist as well as their other problems. Even with the armor just being in Taldryan’s hands the fact of the armor being coated in stygian-triprismatic polymer, and the rumors of this having properties of making sensors nearly useless was frightening at least. Especially knowing that a trained stormtrooper uses the tactic of Advance, Paralyze, and Destroy on top of the senor damping would be deadly. Not even considering yet if the soliders being force users of any amount of power.
Melkor then replied to the Guardian, “I have heard story's of such troops in the past and I will look into this farther. If this armor is what I think it is it would be invaluable for Intel applications due to this type of stormtrooper armor being used by Imperial Intelligence.” Maarek Replied, “Very Well.” Melkor knew the dangers of tracking down a trained elder much less two of them as well as logically knowing that him and his fellow journeyman as well as the equite level would have their hands full if Kaiann and Ariana have aquired any followers. If that Maareks findings with these stormtroopers are connected in anyway makes the situation even more worrisome and farther resources will be needed to get to the bottom of this.
Melkor then stated, “ As far as a move against Kaiann I am following the chain of command and awaiting appropriate means and farther intelligence.” Then sled over the data pad he was reading earlier. Maarek asked, “what's this?” Melkor told him, “ That is all I know if the situation at this moment, although at moment I'm following the clan summits orders to remain on patrol of the Yridia system till farther word is issued.” Knowing the last thing they needed was to leave the system open to attack that was always a risk of happening at any moment. Any farther damage to the clan’s resources would only hinder mustering forces to make a move in taking Kaiann.
Maarek got up out of his chair as he began reading. Melkor himself raised out of he seat and walked towards the officers' galley and prepared them both a drink and sat back down. And said, “There you go.” Maarek replied, “Thanks.” Sitting back down in his chair continuing to reading the Intel report Melkor handed him. Melkor said, “It’s all pretty superficial I thought.” Watching the look on Marrek’s face as he continued threw the report. Melkor continued, “There is no real course of action laid out yet and this is more than likely why nothing has been carried into a set of orders for a military action for any of the clan, but when I get new orders you will be one of the first to know.”
“So, I’m tracking the ship right now,” said Anshar to the small holographic image of Dranik. “I don’t know where it is heading, but I imagine Kaiann is involved.”
“Do you want me to turn around and help?” asked Dranik. Anshar shook his head.
“No, go ahead and continue on to the clan,” said Anshar. “Ask Sith or Oberst to put a warning out, though. If the Palantir enters Yridian space, or is even spotted by a Tarentum vessel, I want it disabled and returned intact. May the Force have mercy on anyone who destroys the ship.”
“Understood,” replied Dranik. With a small bow, the holoprojection flickered out of existence. As it did so, Anshar felt a small twinge in the Force that had a sense of familiarty, but it was to far away. Something had happened to a clan member, only very far away.
Anshar leaned back in the pilot’s chair of the Crimson Angel. The Palantir was ahead of him, and he had no idea where it was actually going. Also, since both ships had equally rated hyperdrives, Anshar could not catch up to the ship. There was no way that Kaiann would bring it straight to him, if that was even his intention. Of course, Anshar had no proof that the ship was actually under Kaiann’s control, just plenty of suspicion. The only thing that Kaiann had done to the ship before stepping down as Headmaster was to put droids in control of some areas of the ship. The ship ran with a skeleton crew most of the time and many of the permanent officers from Kaiann’s reign were either dead or had transferred to better commands elsewhere.
A beeping on the console indicated that the computer had located the Palantir nearby. Pulling his ship out of warp, Anshar quickly found the corvette on his sensors; it was a good thirty kilometers out, and it appeared to be shooting at something. A look at the sensors revealed a small shuttle bearing Emperor’s Hammer markings. “What the hell is that doing out here?” Anshar asked himself. Of course, why the Palantir was firing on it was fairly obvious: Kaiann had no love for the Emperor’s Hammer, and if he had programmed something into the Palantir, undoubtedly it included some instant offensive capabilities.
Reaching out with the Force, Anshar felt a familiar presence in the shuttle, one that he had not felt for a long time. Immediately, he threw reserve power into his engines as the small shuttle continued to dodge and flee from the attacking corvette. Anshar armed his laser cannons and fired a few shots at the corvette. At this range, he expected not to hit it, but perhaps he could draw some attention away from the shuttle. To Anshar’s surprise, the corvette ceased firing and immediately began to burn very fast. Moments later, Anshar saw the ship flicker and enter hyperspace. Making a note of its coordinates so he could go after it again, Anshar hailed the shuttle, which had suffered a hit to its engines and was stalled. He received no response, but he could still feel the lone person on the shuttle, and she was still alive.
Anshar brought the Crimson Angel along side the shuttle and docked with it. He took no weapons with him. He entered the code on the docking ring and the door slid open. There, on the other side, stood a female Zabrak, a lightsaber on her waist, and a smile on her face.
“Hello, Anshar,” she said. “It has been a long time.”
“Indeed, Tariija,” replied Anshar. “Indeed it has. Come, join me in my hunt.” She walked onto the ship, the two old friends back together again. Both had changed over the years, and there was much to catch up on. But, for now, they had a job to do.
The decision had been made to hunt Kaiann, and it seemed as though everyone had different ideas as to how this man would be hunted. It was not completely unexpected. In fact, with such a prize as Kaiann's head on the line, and the potential for reward from the Grand Master himself, it was very likely that things would possibly splinter as the various members sought to do things their own way.
The Sith Master and Consul of Tarentum, Sith Bloodfyre, had been delayed in directing the hunt for Kaiann. The Herald of the Brotherhood, Muz Keibatsu, had appeared with his brother, and had seemingly been sent to direct the hunt from the Grand Master. There were those members of Tarentum who were remaining behind to oversee the rebuilding efforts of the Clan fleet, and then there were those who were still either new, young, or both who needed guidance. The life of a Consul was ever the busy one, but it was certainly worth it.
Master Spears had taken charge of dealing with the Herald and his entourage, and Donitz was (as far as Sith knew) making preparations for the new Quaestor of Tridens, Korras, to arrive. Oberst was off making contact with Lady Nilani, and Sith had completely forgotten where Sato and his Aedile Kromtal were. The time had come and gone for allowing the members to make their own preparations, and to begin the hunt. It was now time to bring the Clan together as a cohesive force, and move together as one.
Sith made his way to the landing bay in the depths of the Castle, and found his friend and advisor, Doni Tzu, awaiting the arrival of Korras.
"I assume our new Quaestor is soon to arrive?" the Consul asked.
"Within momentsssssssss, Consssssssul," Donitz nodded, his accent heavy. "Korrassssss departed the Aegisssss platform twenty minutesssss ago."
"Excellent," Bloodfyre nodded. "My friend, I am placing you in charge until such time as you have brought Korras to speed and will discharge command to him, and assist him here. While I am gone, repairs must continue on schedule, and I would like for you to see to the Herald. He is here to seek assistance from Tarentum in the hunt for Kaiann. I have been given word that Muz is forming a task force from among the six Clans. I believe we are the first Clan he has visited, though I am unsure why. It does not make sense to visit us first, as we are the farthest from Antei."
"Perhapssssss the Herald was aware of our hatred of the hunted," Donitz suggested. "It isssss certainly no sssssssecret. He may have wanted to prevent usssss from reaching him firsssst."
"And that is certainly a possible reason," Sith said, nodding slightly. "In any event, I do not intend to commit any forces to the Herald's task force unless members choose to volunteer themselves. Still, see to the Herald, but let him know I do not intend to order any force from this Clan to accompany him. I do not believe he will tarry long after, but perhaps you can contain him here for a while and acquire any information about Kaiann's location from him, or from any aboard his ship. I have a feeling that Muz may know where Kaiann is."
"You sssssuggesssst Muz may be in collaboration with Kaiann?"
The Consul just looked at the Yevethan for a moment, and then shrugged, turned, and left the shuttle bay.
* * * * * *
"Greetings, Tarentum," Sith began. The communication had gone out across the Clan's urgent channel, and every member was tuned into the message. "Let it be known that Tarentum will hunt the traitor, Kaiann, not only by itself, but as itself. And what that means to all of you is, any of you who wish to travel on this hunt will meet at the coordinates that follow this message. I am taking command of this hunt, and I will be arriving at the coordinates within three hours time. Any of you outside of this three hour window, send word to our newest ship, the Belarus-class cruiser, which will be acting as my command ship during this hunt. I will see you shortly, and this hunt will continue. Success will be ours, and we will claim the head of Kaiann."
(OOC: My previous post was an attempt to create a plot device that would render my character unto madness for a time. I had not actually killed Elric, in reality it was to be an illusion created to serve another purpose, that purpose being my madness. Since my post was deleted and I got several messages to explain myself, I figured I would make this public explanation. I've sent my overall plot device details to Doni'Tzu and Anshar, hopefully my post can be restored and the arc I had in mind can be explored)
(OOC EDIT: Bloodfyre is trying to have my post restored, if it is restored please don't post any direct responses to it in your story lines. The killing of Elric is a hallucination, so none of your characters will even know about it. If my post is restored I will reveal the next part of my subplot which will then be an overt action that will be open to additions and replies by other posters)
Szordryn had been in his quarters for a while, reading through his notes and trying unsuccessfully to lift some information on the master Kaiann. There did not seem to be much on him that would be of use in locating him or in analysing his abilities or likely tactics. Not that it probably mattered that much anyway, the adepts and masters will know his techniques well enough, and it is likely to be one of them that will take him out anyway, well hopefully that is. He had known officers in the Imperial Navy that would not consider front line action themselves, preferring to send others to do their dirty work. He suspected this would not be the case in Tarentum. Nobody seemed to shy away from conflict, that is not the Sith way.
The most logical step would be to take up a support role so he contacted the communications centre, asking for a message to be passed to the Escort Carrier Anubis. He requested his XG-1 Starwing to be prepared for immediate departure, fully armed, and to be on the platform for him ASAP. Merlance had given him permission to take part in the hunt so he would do so.
He prepared his kit, combat flight suit, weapons and other necessaries, suited up and headed out for the command centre. His security pass got him through and he was in time to hear Sith's address to the clan. "Seems like some party then" he commented to one of the communication officers. "Have my orders been carried out?" "Sorry sir, who are you again?" replied the officer nervously. "Flight Leader Szordryn Telnos, my instructions were to get my XG-1 ready for launch from the Anubis". "Oh yes, the Anubis confirms the starfighter is ready and waiting for you, sorry sir but I am not familiar ..." Szordryn cut him off abruptly "It's OK officer, I am not offended, I am quite new here myself and have not been around for a while so don't worry yourself. Nice job. Do we have a shuttle ready to go to the platform?". "Yes sir, one has been requested to be ready for immediate launch and your security clearance will get you on board." Szordryn nodded thoughfully and took his leave, heading straight for the hangar bay mentioned.
He arrived in time to see Sith Bloodfyre directing people and guessed immediately who had requested the shuttle. "My Lord, I offer my skills to the hunt and am ready for immediate departure, my starfighter is ready on the platform". Sith looked at the new arrival appraisingly and waved him on board the shuttle. Without further ado Szordryn got on board and took up his position in the passenger compartment with his kit stowed safely away. Shucks, he thought to himself. No female steward again. This is going to be another laughter filled flight. He smiled at his own humour and settled in his seat in meditation.
Dranik sighed softly as he thought about the Palantir and how it could have possibly ended up going rogue. He had made a point of interviewing its entire command staff when he took over as Commander of the Shadow Academy Security Force (SASF) and Special Magistrate to the Headmaster. Dranik places the YT-1930, the Persephone, into autopilot as he sits back and starts to relax for a moment. His time is cut short however as the Emergency light starts flashing on his comm. panel. Dranik keyed in a few keys and listened quietly to Sith’s message before going back to the command seat of his ship and keyed in the new course.
After a long moment Dranik also started up the holo projector on the arm of his seat and sent out a message to Oberst and Bloodfyre. “Anshar has just informed me that the CR90 Palantir has gone rogue and set its course to...well, he never said. He did wish me to pass on this information however. He will be joining up with us when he can and wishes that if the Palantir is spotted for it to be disabled and returned in one piece.” Dranik then cut the holo projector and leaned back in his chair for a long while.
Dranik looked out at the space in front of the Persephone as it shuddered and dropped out of Hyperspace at the coordinates indicated by Sith’s message. “Perhaps I am early” Dranik said quietly as he looked out into the empty space around the ship and rechecked his sensors. Dranik keyed the comm. on his chair and spoke “Persephone to any Clan Tarentum vessel, can someone verify the coordinates for me, its rather empty out here at the moment.” Dranik cut the channel and started to monitor it, waiting for a response or the clan to arrive, he knew he was about an hour early however.
Krae'hi watched the swirling light of the stars in hyperspace fade, as her R5 unit began the procedure to make a routine coordinate change. Once out of hyperspace, The R5 unit bleeped at her, notifying her that Jason followed her out.
"How are you hangin in there?" Jason said as his voice crackled over the voice comm.
"My butt is a little sore from the ride, but otherwise, I am fine." She responded. She chuckled as she listened to her R5, tweet and bleep to itself merrily as it went through the process of adjusting the course to Yridia. Midway through it's work, it began it alerting beep telling her it has recieved an urgent holonet message from Lord Bloodfyre.
Krae'hi looked over to Jason's A-wing, "Jason..." She said in a firm tone," There's an urgent message from Master Bloodfyre!" Quickly she activated the installed Holonet reciever in her X-Wing and waited patienly for the message to begin.
When the message concluded, her Holonet projector shut itself down as she sat quietly in thought. Krae'hi glanced over in Jason's direction and noted that he too was in deep thought. Her R5 began it's process once more and she told it to put a pause on course setting. " Master? What should we do?" she queried.
He looked up, staring at her through the window of the A-Wing. "Well... I guess since we have the coordinates and Master Bloodfyre won't be there for about three hours..." After another moment's silence, he smirked slightly. "I think now would be a good time to practice your dogfighting skills."
The cockpit of the A-wing was alien to him. Jason Hunter had grown overly used to the spherical confines of his TIE Defender, but, alas, it had been destroyed several months ago, and he been forced to replace it. It almost seemed like heresy to pilot a New Republic starfighter, but it had been the only thing open to him at the time. I've also kind of grown attached to her, Jason thought, referring to his fighter as he knew many naval officers were found of doing.
Indeed, he had upgraded many of the wedge-shaped starfighter's abilities. It had started life fast and agile, but, by making a few key upgrades, he had increased his new ship's destructive capabilities. Two more laser cannons had been attached to the hull, coupled with a newer targeting sensor suite that made the most of the cannons. He had left the engines largely alone, only tweaking their power output to be only slightly slower than his old Sienar-designed Defender. A more rigid spaceframe was constructed, to better handle the increased stresses from the greater speed and maneuvering abilities, by way of a couple more maneuvering jets. Throw in a newer, more efficient generator and a current senor-jamming package, paint it matte black with purple accents, and that sums up the personal A-wing of Obelisk Prelate Jason Hunter.
Of course, none of this was to say that Krae'hi's X-wing was anything but stock. He had made many of the same improvements to the Incom fighter as he had to his A-wing, mainly focusing on greater speed and mobility, and giving it some tougher shields. They had both taken two Republic starfighters, both quite powerful in their own right, and had made them personalized tools of death...much like the lightsaber that Krae'hi would someday build.
But now was no time to think of lightsabers. Right now, Jason was hurtling towards his apprentice at full speed, both of them running a head-on pass that, if they weren't firing powered-down blasts that did little more than "paint" their shields, could end up fatal for them both.
"Stretch out with the Force," Jason said into the comm mic in his helmet, switching his shield power to project only to his front. "But, most importantly for space combat, follow your instincts. Whatever your gut tells you, is most often right." He heard a double click on the comm, that told him that Krae'hi had understood his message. He smiled to himself as the rangefinder ticked down the meters, and he started juking and jinking at a little under one-point-five kilometers. He saw Krae'hi try to mimic his movements, and his target warning beeped at him whenever she managed to get a momentary lock on him. Coherent light started to flash past his canopy--almosy a pink, instead of the usual deep X-wing red--as the bolts were unleashed from the tips of the X-wing's cannons. Jason managed to keep himself out of harm's way, for the most part, but the occasional burst would wash over his shields, and he would quickly juke out of the way.
After a few seconds, they had both closed range, and peeled off so they wouldn't collide. Jason used the agility of his craft to take a tighter angle onto Krae'hi's tail, cutting his throttle back. Within the span of a few heartbeats, he had turned the corner, and was streaking back towards the X-Wing.
She's learning quick, he thought, seeing that the Trianii was almost through her turn as well. Soon, they were going to be doing another head-on pass. Let's teach her another lesson, then.
Shunting power from his laser system, he poured the extra joules of power into his engines, giving him an amazing burst of speed. His cannons loosing power quickly, he switched over to his concussion missiles, and settled the reticle directly over the rotating form of the X-wing. She was obviously pushing the stick hard to port, for Krae'hi's fighter was corkscrewing through its last few meters of turn, trying to shake off a target lock.
Being nothing but a veteran flier, Jason as easily able to counteract the maneuver, and kept the targetting compuer busy as it worked to get a lock. Bare moments before the reticle went red and the computer gave him a solid tone, his A-wing was suddenly jolted off line. The nose was pushed downwards so quickly that it caught him by surprise, allowing a series of those low-powered lasers to strike against his shields.
Using the momentum of the unexpected Force-push--the sheer abruptness of the move is what allowed its' success, plus the fact that Jason never really learned how to used the Force while flying--he pushed the flight stick forward, taking the A-wing into an aggressive dive. After a few more quad-bursts of X-wing lasers were poured into his already almost-failed shields, Jason stomped his foot down on the left rudder, sending his tail to swap positions of the nose and pulled back, sending the A-wing skipping off at a sudden and random angle. He felt Krae'hi's surprise, but it quickly turned into a feral glee as she saw an opening to great back on his six.
At this point, Jason took himself through a series of hard evasive maneuvers. It was partly to test his apprentice's skills as a pilot, and also to test that new spaceframe and see if would hold up to his usual style of piloting.
Abruptly, breaking into his juking and jinking, came the steady tone of a lock warning, telling him that, in training terms, there was a torpedo that was about to slam its' way through his exhaust and turn him into a barely coherent collection of atoms. "Kriffing droid," Jason muttered under his breath, remembering that the R5 in Krae'hi's X-wing was specially designed to attain almost instantaneous locks...even on an incredibily difficult to hit target like himself.
"Ok, that's enough of this," he said into the microphone. He pulled back on the throttles and let Krae'hi catch up.
"Sore loser," was her response, a highly noticable hint of amusement in her voice.
"Well, we've been at this for almost two hours. Don't you think it's about time we got underway again?"
"Sounds like a sound plan, Master," Krae'hi stated, her tone back to her usual professionalism. He didn't really like being called "Master," though.
"Alright," he continued, ignoring his previous thought. "Resetting navicomputer coordinates to the ones Sith provided. Coordinates locked in. Hyperspace in three....two...one!"
In a flash, they were off again, lost in the sworling tempest of color that was known as hyperspace, streaking towards their unnamed destination at a speed faster than that of light.
Having left his own vessel behind at the Aegis platform, Korras was now in the back of a shuttle en route to Castle Tarentum. He took the time to reflect back on recent events, the things the led him to leave his former clan. After a bit, he just shrugged it off. That time was gone. Now, he would continue here, leading House Tridens.
A sudden shake through the frame of the shuttle announced the passage underwater. He was not unfamiliar with the effect, he had been here several times before. It wouldn’t be long now.
Indeed it was not. As the shuttle touched down, and the hatch doors opened, he smirked as he saw only his Aedile standing there. Just as he had expected, no pompous ceremony. This clan disliked that, just as he did.
“I trussssst your passsssage here wassss uneventful?”
“It was. What is the current situation with the blood hunt?”
“Muzzzz hassss arrived here.. Looking for help.”
“So, he is not able to do it alone, is he?” it was not widely known that the herald was his former apprentice. “If he creates any problems.. I’ll be glad to deal with him.” The former High Commander grinned. It was a very rare occasion if anyone bested him in man-to-man combat. The current Herald had, once, in the confines of the Antei Combat Center. The new Quaestor disliked that facility, it did not create the rush of blood that real battle did. And a real battle was were the Obelisk excelled.
“either way, we need to get on with business. I would prefer a meeting with you, and the battleteam leaders, in… my office. And I would prefer that right now. No need to delay things, is there?” he asked, with a mischevious grin. He didn’t like dallying around with things, and he saw from his Aedile’s reaction that he very much agreed.
“I ssshal have them informed. I trusssst you know the way.”
“Indeed I do.”
The sapphire blade twirled above the head of the Sith, his long brown hair swaying with each perfectly executed maneuver, the look of focus and determination was painted all over the warrior's face. A swift strike severed the droid's head from its steel neck, thus ending Archean's warm up exercise. The Bruth'Kothae disengaged his saber and returned it to his belt for the time being, beginning to crack his neck, he lowered his body and began stretching. As soon as he was done his comm link beeped, the Corellian jogged over to the bench where his robe and other belongings were, clicked a button and viewed the message.
“Hmm, i wonder what's happening?” Archean asked himself as he closed the message. Archean gathered his things and hurried from the training room, he sped towards his living quarters. Having just recently moved back to the Clan, things were still the very same, he knew where everything was within the castle, after all, it was his home from the beginning. Archean moved through the brown door into his room, he grabbed a towel off the bed and dried whatever sweat was left on his face. He walked over to his wardrobe and took out his combat gear. Black pants, black shirt, his leather jacket with the Tarentum patch and BK sign on both arms and his boots. He tied up his last boot and rose, he turned back to his bed and clipped his lightsaber to his belt. Giving his room the once over to make sure nothing valuable to what Korras and Doni'tzu have in store for him was left behind, he exited his quarters and made his way to the Quaestor's office.
Walking through the silent corridors of the Castle, Archean knew something was up, no one was around.
“Must be something pretty big.” The Sith told himself. Rounding the corner to the Quaestor's office, Archean grew anxious, even though not knowing why the summit requested his presence, he knew that whatever it was, it was going to be very important. Coming up to the door that would decide his fate, Archean heard a voice coming from behind him, it was leader of Battle Team Yu, Merlance.
“ I see you got the message too.” Merlance nodded at the Bruth'Kothae
“Nice to see you too.” Archean joked.
“Lets see what they have to say.” Archean nodded as Merlance motioned him to enter the room.
The Sith Warrior walked through to see Doni'tzu standing to the left of Korras, who was sitting at his desk, head down, writing. Korras lifted his head and greeted them.
“Welcome, lets not drag things out any longer.” Korras rose from his seat. “Doni'tzu, proceed.”
Not long after Melkor finished his conversation with Maarek and he had left the Stygian the coordinates that Bloodfyre issued came though, and Melkor was instantly enthused and looking forward to joining in on the fun. He as promised he got on the holonet and contacted Maarek letting him know to head to Aegis for pick up. There wasn’t much time to make the three hour window knowing that Bloodfyre had already made his jump to the staging area, and is awaiting everyone to rendezvous him.
Just after Melkor sent his message out Maarek returned a reply letting him know that he was on board Aegis and ready to go. Melkor replied to the crew, “Take us to Aegis for refuel and to pick up our addition to the crew.” Not long after The Gunship had docked with the station and began taking on fuel and supplies. Maarek walked threw the doors of the officers’ lounge and greeted Melkor and he replied you realize our primary role is to provide close starfighter defense of the batlegroup and that’s while we are moving with the rest of our ships.”
Maarek then quickly replied, “Yes I understand.”
With the role of the ship out of the way the two men walked onto the bridge and Melkor asked, “How much longer we have to all take on items is complete?” The bridge officer quickly replied, “All supplies are aboard and we are now awaiting fuel the remainder of our fuel, Sir.” Melkor replied, “Very well, get ready to depart to these coordinates when we are finished here.” The bridge officer quickly replied, “Yes sir.” Just after the ship was released from the docking clamps and was underway. Melkor ordered, feed the coordinates into the navigation computer and prepare to enter hyperspace. As the vessel began to jump off the stars began to distort into brilliant lines of light and within moment it was gone heading towards its destination.
The shuttle made the flight to the platform without incident. Immediately Szordryn went to the fighter launch bay to check and inspect his vessel. Everything checked out OK, full armament of his preferred package, proton torpedoes. He picked up the messages from the various clan members that had already filtered through. Szordryn noted with concern the information regarding the Palantir. "Now why they would disappear is not an issue, considering he must have friends. The concern is therefore how many friends does he have and are they all aboard that ship? Does he have other friends elsewhere? How well armed are they?" Szordryn looked up from the communication report to scan the surrounding technicians and officers in the bay. He stretched out with the force to feel each one of them, to ascertain who felt tension in his presence. He could find no evidence of treachery but was mindful to check others, just in case.
From this new development and train of thought he decided to amend his list of equipment. He used his clearance to get to the armoury and loaded up with the 'heavy stuff', which for him meant a Stouker concusion rifle and lots of ammo. Having been a pretty good shot too he decided on a Tenloss disruptor rifle too. "You never know when it might all come in handy" he said out loud to the droid armourer. "Excuse me sir, where you talking to me? You might find 2 hands better with that one." said the droid. "No, I meant...oh never mind what I meant. You are a bit literal minded aren't you?" The droid went on, "Yes indeed. My functioning is fully capable of advising you of the most suitable weaponry for the job in hand. You have made a very personal choice sir but is it the best? Do you know what you are hunting? How many? What terrain? The Stouker is not always a good choice given that it can clear a large area and at close range will endanger the operator too. The Tenloss will be ineffective against non-biologicals." Szordryn replied with "If you knew how many years experience I have you would not be making such obvious comments. That will be all." He stormed out of the armoury, annoyed at the fact that he let the droid's comments needle him but also annoyed that its appraisal was also 100% accurate. Damn droid. No he didnt know who he was after, nor how many, nor where they where, nor the terrain nor the likely circumstances of an encounter. Therefore how can you prepare? As ever, you go with the flow, rely on the force to guide you and keep mindful of the moment.
Once his starfighter was launched he took up escort position with the flagship. He had punched the coordinates to the nav computer and said on the intercom "I am heading out there now, your engines are rated faster than mine so we should arrive at the same time. Szordryn out." "Affirmative." came the intercom reply.
The starfield exploded in front of him, the usual thrill he always felt when heading off into hyperspace. He settled in to meditate and prepare for the coming conflict but 2 things stopped him from settling easily. The first was the thought of the missing ship. How many friends does Kaiann have? The second thought was also nagging at him. The droid. 'Do you know what you are hunting.' The thoughts swam around in his head and would not go away.
Exiting hyperspace, Elric gazed onto his homeworld. The night lights, the ships coming and going made it seem at first glance a bustling center of trade. And in a sense it was. But upon further inspections of the ships, almost all of them were marked with Huttese. This was Nar Shaddaa, the most crime infested rock in the galaxy. It was common for a new time visitor to be stabbed, robbed and conned all on the same day.
Tyrus relinquished control of the craft to Elric by request. The Howlrunner then took some daring risks running through traffic, zooming under bridges, and buzzing the general populace below. Tyrus gripped his chair, Elric seeming to go insane: humming to himself wile flying sideways, getting within a meter or two of incoming speeders and the like. Tyrus then saw a gigantic freighter coming for a head on collision; he shut his eyes and waited for the explosion. Instead he heard Elric yelling and shouting and rolling out of the way, making a sudden stop on a landing pad outside an impressively large warehouse, even for being in such a cramped urban area. Elric slumped forward in the chair, seemingly disappointed.
“Dang.” He said, “I used to make that run in two minutes flat. Now I barely came in under three. Oh well.”
Tyrus shook his head in disbelief and was about to make a comment when a holoprojection came in, it was Sith Bloodfyre. When the hologram ended, Elric hit his fist on the console.
“No! I risked my life talking to Jac, and am this close to finding Kaiann!” he signified with his forefinger and thumb, “This is not happening! Arrrrrgh!”
Tyrus thought for a moment. “Hey, Elric. Stay here; on the planet. I’ll tell them you got caught up with stuff. Then I’ll come back for you.” He paused and continued, “This is a good thing. We won’t fight our own Clan mates.”
Elric nodded in approval, and stepped off the small fighter. Tyrus waved his departure, and with a wisp of dust and a blast of the engines, he was gone. Elric turned his back on the pad. Taking no more than a couple of steps he was greeted with a visitor. Unfortunately, he had a blaster rifle in his hands, and didn’t seem too happy.
“Hey!” he grunted, “Who are you? You are not supposed to be here! This is a private landing pad, owned by Kyes Corp.” This guard was rather large, definitely into bouncer-size. The rifle looked like a large pistol in his hands. But something was so familiar to Elric. He thought, and finally it dawned on him.
“Orak! Don’t you recognize me?” Elric shouted. The guard still looked apprehensive at best. Then the knight turned to his right, giving a profile shot. The guard then burst into laughter.
“Elric! Holy… how did you… Welcome home!” They hugged, and Orak picked the Knight up off the ground and then set him back down. Elric asked,
“You’ve gotten huge! Where’s my rotten big brother, Juril?” The monster of a man answered
“Inside, filling out paperwork, but I’m sure he has time for family.” Entering the warehouse, Elric was greeted by old childhood friends, and brought back many a time. The office of Juril Kyes was obvious, the name posted on the door, and it was at the top, away from the conveyor belts and noise of the floor. Orak opened the door and said
“Boss, I have a runt here that claims to be your brother.” Juril was sitting down, and as said, had paper scattered all over the desk. He rose, and came and studied his visitor. He suddenly smiled and greeted his younger brother. The three sat down and Juril was the first to speak.
“Wow. Wow. This little runt isn’t the scrawny kid I remember. You seem to have some scars there, whats up?”
Elric then explained what had happened over the last two years, how he was maimed by a Jedi, how he left the Order itself, and how he had come to be in the service of the Brotherhood of Dark Jedi. Juril looked relieved and smiled.
“That’s good. If you were still a Jedi, I would have to either kill you or keep you away from my factory.” Juril said; a smirk across his face. “As you can see,” he motioned all around him, “I have done quite well for myself. I am now at the top of the pile. I say where the narcotics go, who gets what, and how much they get. Same way with the weapons dealing.”
Elric nodded. “So you are still in that stuff, huh? What do you use as a ruse for your main flow of cash?”
Juril chuckled, “Ironically, most of my legit money comes from your Brotherhood.”
Elric sat agape. “No way! Who are your contacts?”
The older brother replied, “A man named Jac Cotelin and this other guy… I think it was Kaiann… yeah, Kaiann sounds right.”
Elric lost his smile. “You know Kaiann?” he asked, his anxiety obvious.
Juril raised a brow, “uh huh. Why? Whats going on?”
Elric answered, “Kaiann is wanted. He supposedly tried to destroy the Brotherhood during a civil war we had going on.”
Juril sat, his hand on his chin, in deep thought. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He tried again, this time he was obviously disturbed. He commented,
“That would explain it.”
To this the Knight replied, “What, explain what?”
Juril flipped on a hol-vid, and up came a depiction of a starfighter. It looked very similar to an A-9, except that it had large fins on the rear of the wings, and it had small cannons.
“This,” Juril began “is the StarFlail interceptor. It is supposed to bridge the gap between Imperial Fighters and Interceptors. We have recently acquired this design and for some reason Kaiann took a special interest in it. He said to wait until he came for it. He said not to send any message of the fighter to Jac. And he just sent me a transmission a few minutes ago, and he is coming to claim the fighter.”
Elric leaned on the desk, inches from his brother’s face. “How far have you gone into production?”
Juril looked his younger sibling in the eyes. “We have just finished the first model. It still needs to be tested somewhere other than a lab.”
Then the thought dawned on both of them. The two got up and left the office, followed quickly by Orak. Juril bypassed several command checkpoints and entered a small hangar. And in front of them was the fighter that they had been talking about. It was a deep crimson in color, with white stripes on the back fins. The cannons were imbedded into the wings themselves. On the tips were missiles, one for each wing. Juril went over the specification of the beautifully striking craft. The feature that Juril seemed most proud of were the missiles detonation channels. One for a delayed explosion, which to use on transports; the other proximity detonation set to ten meters of intended target.
Elric was now overjoyed. Any anger Sith might have for him not being at the meeting would melt away once this fighter came into Tarentum hands.
“Any enemy of my customers is an enemy of mine.” Juril said. Elric now hopped in the fighter, and once finding the controls, said his goodbye, closed the cockpit, and zoomed to the coordinates provided by Bloodfyre.
Sith Bloodfyre paced the bridge of the Belarus cruiser, waiting impatiently for something to do. No one had given him anything. Could the Hunt end before it truly began?
Then, the first ship came in, an YT-1300, then another. Then a variety of ships came, nearly sixty in all. Sith now had new confidence in himself and he gave a message for all in attendance.
Consuls of the Brotherhood do not wait for others to give them something to do, especially not the Consul of Tarentum. Those who have held the peak position of the ancient Clan have recognized not only their abilities, but their responsibilities, and Sith Bloodfyre was no exception. He did not pace about as he waited onboard the deck of the Belarus-class cruiser, nor did he find reason to doubt his abilities. He was the leader of the greatest Clan in the Brotherhood, no matter what claims to greatness other Clans may point fingers to.
As the forces of his Clan began to gather near the Aegis platform, Sith sent a coded message out to Tarentum.
“To all ships and warriors loyal to the Clan of Tarentum, and subject to the Sith King,” Sith began, “this begins the hunt of the vile Kaiann Yetaru Entar. I am taking a select group with me; the entire Clan will not be dispatched to hunt down this enemy of Tarentum. Some of you must remain behind by necessity, others will remain behind for other reasons. Be aware; with the recent end of the “War of the Jacs,” as some are calling it, every Clan must rebuild, including Tarentum.
“The following names are those I have selected to accompany me,” the Sith Master continued. “You will join me onboard the newest acquisition of Tarentum, the Belarus-class cruiser docked at the Aegis platform. Grand Master Kane Vader, I would be honored if you would accompany me, as well as Master Spears Tarentae, Welshman Corsair Tarentae, Maxamillian von Oberst-Tarentae, and Mune Isradia. ShadowFoxx, Frosty Romanae Tarentae, Ganon Vae Victus, Bane, and Elric Kyes; you will also be joining me onboard the cruiser.
“In my absence, the House Summits of Gladius and Tridens will be in joint command,” Sith added. “Sato and Korras will be able to work to maintain things here, and they are complemented by two competent and experienced Aediles. I expect things to remain in proper order during my absence. Those of you who have been called, I expect you to join me aboard the cruisershortly. Good hunting to us all.”
Sith closed the channel and then waited a few moments, and opened another direct line to the Castle, and hailed Korras, who was with Doni Tzu, and their House team leaders.
“Korras, Donitz,” Sith stated, both nodding in acknowledgment of the Consul, “I want you to do something for me. Get rid of the Herald; I have a feeling that Muz knows where Kaiann is, or at the very least, where he may have been. He may know where to begin this hunt, at least. Once we have left the system, track him, and relay his trajectory to us. If he mentions where he is going, relay that as well.”
“Consul,” Korras replied, “I will be happy to fulfill your request. I did want to mention, though, that we have had reports that a certain few members of Tarentum did not fulfill your commands to gather at the platform. We are still working to track down their locations, and their reasons for refusing your command.”
“We’ll deal with that when I return,” Sith said, somewhat coldly. “In the meantime, deal with the Herald, if you will. Have someone, or something, shadow Muz. We will return when we have taken Entar’s head.”
It was rather obvious that the Consul was probably hinting at a spiritual detachment to follow the Herald from the plane of the dead. With only a few more messages for the Tridens Summit, some of which they were to relay for Sato and Kromtal, Sith ended the transmission, and turned to the deck officer of the Creeping Death.
“Commander, when those whom I have called are onboard, have them meet with me in my quarters,” the Consul said softly. “We have much to discuss. Also, when they are on board, take us out of the system, but do not go far. I want to see where the Herald will depart to once he is refused assistance.”
Oberst would likely be one of the last to join; Sith had still not heard from him since he had gone to seek the assistance of Lady Nilani, but it would be worth the wait. She was certainly a powerful ally, and would likely be necessary for this hunt to succeed. Spears was the first to join the Consul onboard, followed shortly by Welshman. Some time later, Grand Master Kane stepped onto the cruiser, and met up with the three on the deck of the ship.
“Master Kane,” Sith bowed in respect, as did Spears and Welshman.
“Master Bloodfyre,” Kane returned. “Our mighty steed rides forth in faceless fury. It is unfitting that we should trust our face to such a creature that does not speak forth its might and strength with identity, as well as great weapons.”
The Grand Master was speaking in something of a riddle, but in the time that Sith had spent with the ancient and powerful Grand Master, he had begun to get an idea of how the man spoke, and what he meant. Though the Consul was certainly not always capable of understanding Master Kane, he knew what he meant in this instance.
“Grand Master, you are correct,” Sith nodded slightly. “Oberst once spoke to me of a mighty river that separated the lands of the living, from the land of the dead. The river was much like a doorway to damnation and the fury of the lords of the dead. I believe this ship will certainly herald the doom and damnation of our enemies. The name Acheron should suit her well.”
“A strong name,” Spears said softly. “And poetically suitable. Kaiann crosses the Acheron and meets with the eternal torment that only Tarentum can impart.”
“Let us go forth soon,” Welshman added. “Death waits for no man, least of all Kaiann.”
The starfighter emerged from hyperspace at the approximate coordinates indicated by Sith, with a small number of ships having arrived there already. He made visual contact with waiting members of the clan and they listened for further instruction at the appointed hour.
Sith's broadcast came through loud and clear, the coded message interpreted by the comms suite of the starfighter. Szordryn was disappointed yet at the same time relieved. He had no plans to be cannon fodder in a dark master conflict. Who knows what might happen? In a moment he plotted in a course fo the Aegis platform to take up a standard patrol orbit. Pending further instruction he would rack up a few hours in the fighter in patrol duty and intercepting any incoming ships to the system.
Dranik listened quietly to the message coming over his comm. from Sith Bloodfyre. He muttered out a soft curse as his proximity alarms started sounding. He had already decided that the interference from the Shroud has caused him to have the wrong location since he was still alone out there and no one had responded to his message. Dranik quickly hit the throttle on the Persephone to full ahead as the Palantir appeared behind him. Dranik quickly piloted his ship around “The hells…what is that doing this far out.” Dranik said to himself as he watched the ship change direction and jump back into Hyperspace. “Oh no you don’t…” Dranik said as he piloted his ship to follow the Palantir and jumped into Hyperspace after it.
Dranik keyed in a few commands on his comm. and relayed his coordinates to Anshar with the message “I am in pursuit of the Palantir now, it crossed my path while I was reroute to Tarentum, apparently at the wrong place to be included on the hunt…” Dranik cut the channel before Anshar could really respond and watched his scanner screen for the Palantir to drop back out of Hyperspace. Dranik cut his Hyper-drive as the Palantir exited Hyperspace in front of him.
Dranik shook his head as he noticed two fighters practicing combat maneuvers in front of him and blinks as he realized what was about to happen. The Palantir was about to make another jump into Hyperspace as the blasters of the X-wing missed its targeted A-wing and skimmed the shields of the Palantir. The Palantir turned it’s attention upon the two smaller fighters and opened fire on them. Dranik shook his head and engaged his throttle to full as he opened up fire with the two duel ion cannon turrets he had mounted onto the front section of the YT-1930. After its first volley of fire upon the two smaller fighters the Palantir turned its attention upon the Persephone and started firing. Dranik entered into evasive maneuvers as the two fighters engaged the Palantir.
After a few moments of this combat the Palantir engaged its Hyper-drive and jumped into Hyperspace and left the area, apparently deciding that the three smaller ships were not worth its time. “This is the Persephone to unidentified fighters, I would like to apologize for the actions of the Palantir it has gone rogue on us.” Dranik said into his comm. to get this response “Dranik…this is Jason, its okay but can you explain what’s going on?”
Before Dranik could answer another ship exited Hyperspace and the voice of Anshar came over the comm. “I can. The Palantir is assumed to be somehow under Kaiann’s control. Jason you and your wingman have a choice to make. You can either return to Tarentum to help out with whatever is going on there…or you can help me and Dranik hunt the Palantir. However, I want to make it clear that I want that ship back in one piece. What is your decision, we need to be heading out soon.” Anshar said and awaited a response.
Krae'hi listened to the conversation over her comm, thinking quietly. When she heard Master Anshar ask Jason if they would like to accompany Dranik and himself in the chase of the Palantir, she then interjected with her own response. "Yes we will join you in your search for this ship."
"How bold of you to answer for your Master, Krae'hi," Jason admonished her over the comm. "But, despite that...yes, Anshar, we will join you in chasing down the Palantir."
Krae'hi glanced down at her X-wing's status readouts, making a series of mental notes. "Master," she started, switching over to the ship-to-ship communications. "I'm getting low on fuel here. When do you think we should stop to re-fuel?"
"Probably at our next convenience," the Corellian responded. "I'm starting to get low, too. Dranik and Anshar," he had obviously switched channels to broadcast to the other ships, "Krae'hi and I are both getting low on gas here. Between our flight from Corellia and our little exercises before you showed up, I guess we burned more than I thought we would. Is there a chance we could refuel at some point?"
"I don't want the Palantir to get too far away," Dranik said, his voice gaining an edge of impaitience. "If we stop, we might not be able to track it."
"I understand that," Jason replied. "In that case, let's get moving. We can try and stop for fuel later on."
"Agreed," Anshar said, already angling his ship towards the Palantir's exit point.
"Are you ready for another jump, Krae'hi?" she heard Jason's voice in her helmet's headphones.
"Of course, Master," she said, pointing her nose towards their next jump point.
Charon Lorcan "Ziltopia" Bláthnat steps off of the Fritjof, a smuggler's ship which is pulling in for repairs at the Telgorn Corporation Repair Yard. She was back, finally back. The months of travel, research, and interrogation had proved rather fruitless and she hoped that Masters Spears, Oberst, and Bloodfyre would not be too terribly disappointed. Ziltopia's Holonet reciever buzzed and rang with several different tones indicating the varying degrees of urgency of the multitude of messages coming in.
"[Expletive Deleted F-word] me! Leave for a few months ... Who the [Expletive Deleted F-word] closed down the Mystics?! [Expletive Deleted F-word]ing Frosty." Ziltopia sighs heavily and persits in looking through all the messages she has received. "Boring. Of no interest to me."
Ziltopia skims through messages and news, rolling her violet eyes occasionally and continues talking outloud to herself.
"More news than I care to keep up with really," she chuckles and proceeds towards the control deck, "political shifts, promotions, demotions, I will have to get used to knew titles for old friends. Interesting, Master Spears is back in Tar and I have been 'recruited' for the Cabal ... oh, and I missed yet another civil war."
Ziltopia abruptly stops in the middle of a passage way and a young Acolyte, not paying much attention due to the fact that he is looking over his daily reports, bumps into her; she turns on her heel and grabs the young man by the throat.
"What of the hunt?!"
The young Acolyte's eyes are nearly bugging out of his skull and his face is beginning to purple.
"Consul Bloodfyre, " the Acolyte attempts the phrase but cannot get a word out, he is suffocating due to the physical hold Ziltopia has on his body. Ziltopia relaxes her grip just enough for the Acolyte to get out.
"Consul Bloodfyre said to meet at some coordinates in several hours."
Ziltopia's eyes darken to a sinster shade of slate, luckily for the Acolyte they had not turned completely black, for if they had, he would have been sent to dungeons to be tortured before his death. As it was, Ziltopia steps over his body and remarks to a maintenance droid,
"You might want to have that cleaned up, I am a details person."
The droid responds, "Immediately Mistress Ziltopia."
Ziltopia smirks, "Oberst has been playing with the software again I see."
As the droid begins dragging off the lifeless body of yet another nameless journeyman, Ziltopia quickens her pace to the control deck, luckily her clearance pass still works on all of the levels. She goes through the secure doors on A-Deck,
"Commander Diggory, get me a shuttle to the Aegis immediately, make the necessary reports that I am back, file these," Ziltopia hands the commander a data crystal, "and find me something that is heading to the coordinates for the hunt."
"Priestess Ziltopia, Consul Bloodfyre indicated those who ..."
CDR Diggory suddently finds it difficult to breath due to the fact that Ziltopia's Force grip is crushing his trachea.
"Commander Diggory," the look on Diggory's face is one of sheer panic and fear, "I expect in the time that it takes me to walk down to the flight deck of this floating monstrousity, to have a shuttle to ferry me to the Aegis. When I reach the Aegis, I intend to board a ship heading for the hunt. Am I understood?"
Diggory nods his head and the levigation of his wind pipe ceases.
“So, I see your life has gotten busy,” commented Tariija from the co-pilots seat behind Anshar. It was the design of the YT-2000; the co-pilot sat behind the pilot. “Headmaster and now you’re chasing after your own ship.” Tariija and Anshar had known each other for a long time, both having joined the Brotherhood, in Arcona, at nearly the same time. After the split, Tariija had stayed with the Brotherhood initially, but after some disagreements with some fairly influential people at the time, she had gone back to the Emperor’s Hammer. Now she had returned to the Brotherhood, according to what she had told Anshar. She had been en route to Brotherhood space when the Palantir had randomly attacked her. Now she was along for the ride with Anshar. They both knew that she would be received with a sense of mistrust, but Anshar had faith that the Krath Priestess would prove herself a capable, hardworking member who was a benefit to the clan.
The two had spent as much time as possible catching up, but the hunt for the Palantir, which Anshar was sure was directly related to Kaiann, had become their top concern. “Anshar,” said Tariija, “take a look at this.” Anshar heard the small click of the buttons as Tariija brought a small holoprojection up on Anshar’s right hand side. It showed a stellar map; green dots marked where Anshar had tracked the Palantir to, each time dropping out of warp when the Palantir did. There had only been four jumps thus far, but Anshar saw the zig-zag pattern showing up. What appeared to be random jumps were not so random at all. A red line ran straight down the middle, with the curve passing over it with each hyperspace jump*. Each jump took the ship closer to a final target. Following the line, Anshar saw it go straight through Tarentum’s space. Tariija had always been excellent in recognizing patterns and presenting them. She had thrown herself into the work as soon as Anshar had described the situation. In an instant, Anshar’s mind quickly connected everything he knew thus far.
The Palantir wasn't just some ship for the Shadow Academy, as was the common assumption. It was very clear now that the ship was Kaiann’s weapon of vengeance, his trump card. Kaiann may or may not have gathered other ships over the years, especially after serving on the Dark Council for so long. But, the Palantir was going to be his weapon of choice for his biggest operation. The ship was fast and heavily modified, meaning it was no ordinary corvette. And, if Kaiann truly wanted to, he could turn the ship into a giant flying bomb.
It had fired on a ship with Emperor’s Hammer markings, which was considered by just about every member of the Brotherhood to be an enemy. Now the ship was on a course that would take it directly to Tarentum space, where it could do a good deal of damage. Tarentum’s forces were still rebuilding after the war, and unless there was a warning of any kind, no one would ever question the Palantir’s appearance in Tarentum space. Tarentum, or at least certain members within the clan, was probably Kaiann’s most implacable foe. Whatever he had planned, Anshar was certain the Palantir would do some damage to Tarentum. The question was where. There were many targets that it could strike: the Sword’s Sheath, the Aegis, Castle Tarentum, the new Dark Council ambassador platform, or perhaps, if the crew had really been programmed by a vindictive mind, any of the personal estates; Spears and Oberst topped that list.
It was not a promising venture. Tarentum had to be warned. And, the Palantir had to be stopped before it ever got there.
* * * *
*picture a dollar bill sign [ $ ] if you need to get an idea of what I’m talking about. Also, we have noted a continuity error, with Jason and Krae’hi entering hyperspace, but then meeting Dranik. We are working on fixing it. Continue as you would. This part of the story was meant to be posted earlier, but I did not have the time, so this is a back-track to fill in some details that weren’t originally there.
The black painted A-9b Vigilance Interceptor aply named Xenocide, cut thrusters and floated toward the hangar allowing its forward inertia to carry itself into the bay. A couple of bursts of thrusters with ruddering spun the craft around to face the bay doors and repulsor lifts kicked in stopping the backward momentum of the craft and then slowly lowering it to the hangar deck.
-Consul Bloodfyre has asked me to accompany him... I know my talents therefore I know his probable reasons. But I cannot shake the unalienable fact that the clan is vulnerable to a full on assault-
ShadowFoxx sat in his cockpit looking out at space through the blue humming force field. He closed his eyes and stretched out this feelings around him. Space in it's infinite void was still filled with teaming life. He could feel the humanoids on the Cruiser, he could feel, the ships in the massed fleet preparing to take up defensive positions for rebuilding. He could feel the micro-organisms floating on debris, hulls, and dust. Life... what did it all mean.
He still had not yet accepted any of Tarentum's Clan powers still as one of shadow. He did not know if it caused his clan mates concern, but he did not care. He would wait. Now it was time to serve again, and he would live up to the oath he made to his dark brethren.
As the Stygian dropped out of hyperspace the star shifted back from nothing but lines to being brilliant points of light in the back drop of cold space. The GSP quickly joined the other vessels waiting at the rendezvous point. Maarek stated, “Theres the Belarus-class cruiser along with several other vessels.” Melkor replied, “ Very well bring us in formation with her and the rest of the group.” The crew of the Stygian quickly enacted Melkor's orders positioning the vessel with expert precision. As her engines slowed to a hum and settled in with the other ships waiting in the area.
Melkor then stated, “ Well Maarek now we wait for farther orders, but first I must inform Bloodfyre we are here and ready.” Melkor then left the bridge after ordering, “Maarek you have the bridge.” Stepping into the officers' quarters and starting the comm Melkor quickly stated, What would you have me and the crew do my lord?” Bloodfyre replied, “ Nothing at the moment Melkor just keep positioning with the rest of the group while farther ships arrive.” Melkor quickly replied, “ Yes my lord.” They both ended comm connection and Melkor then walked back aboard the bridge and ordered, “Remian in position with the rest of the group till farther notice.” He then sat back down in his command chair and stared out into the stars clearly visible threw the view port of the Gunship.
Szordryn was busy monitoring his scanner, noting all the new ships arriving in system. Most were answering the call from the Consul, to assemble for the hunt. Presumably they were now picking up on Sith's recent broadcast, for specific clan members to assemble around the new clan vessel. He noted a fighter heading for it and entering the bay. The Stygian was also at the rendezvous point and seemed to be waiting for further instructions.
He cast his mind back to his days before joining the brotherhood. This motley assembly of different ships reminded him of the fleets of the rebel alliance and he knew all too well how devastatingly effective they were when properly led. He had a realisation that many of the personnel here were either ex-imperial, and that ex-alliance and smugglers, pirates and the like would be a minority. If that was the case then it was likely that any defensive setup was probably based upon a standard imperial style pattern. That is to say, a reliance on capital ships deploying fighters to overwhelm the target. The rebel pattern was to engage a sequence of hyperspace capable fighters on picket duty, who could respond quickly to a threat anywhere in the system, without risking the majority of the strength in a primary skirmish.
With this in mind he contacted the Anubis. "Flight leader Szordryn to Anubis. Prepare the other 5 XG-1 Fighters for immediate launch, according to my coded instructions.". "On whose authority?" "My own authority. I take full responsibility but the squadron needs to practice manouvers, and with all the ships preparing for a hunt it is a good opportunity to learn some new techniques." The intercom crackled back at him, "Affirmative Flight leader you have clearance".
He watched when a few minutes later there were 5 new blips on the scope, they started heading towards his coordinates. "This is Szordryn, you will use the combat channel of the day for all communications, set your comm systems for scanning mode to pick up stray transmissions." He divided them into two flight groups of 3 ships each and gave waypoints for patrol. The second group was to interrogate any vessels heading towards the Aegis while his group would keep an eye on ships entering the system elsewhere.
"Now heads up guys. The advantage we have is that a hyperspace capable fighter can jump insystem quickly to deal with threats, whereas the reliance on Tie fighters usually means a capital ship has to deploy you on target first, and a fighter can always react faster. These fighters are usually used for escort duty. I will show you how to fully exploit them as first strike fighters. So cut the chatter and learn."
Szordryn started to educate them fully in his own style of rebel tactics.
Sunlight was a luxury. Sunlight was a luxury beneath the oceans of Yridia II. In the deepest, darkest regions below the watery surface of Tarentum's home, sunlight was not to be found. To keep the members of Clan Tarentum and their retinue healthy, nutrients were added regularly to the foods prepared in the galleys and kitchens of Castle Tarentum. Especially for the humans of the Clan, the inability to produce Vitamin D would have been a disaster. The sick wards would have constantly teemed with victims of easily broken bones and gastrointestinal disorders.
Oberst greedily exploited this simple, brilliant luxury. His villa upon the Sea of Darkness indulged in it. The floor to ceiling windows greedily sucked in the sunlight. The paned doors leading to the various terrazzo covered balconies were thrown open, inviting the salt sea breeze into the expansive manse. Still, the luxury was lost on some. After all, not everyone spent as much time below the ocean’s waves as the members of House Tridens. It was why Oberst had the original residents of the small island subjugated. He wanted the land to build his manse. And he did so. In grand style. The island’s former residents now made their living tending to his gardens, home and boats.
Even his libraries were no exception. The windows were thrown open, allowing sunlight and the ocean breeze in. The salt sea air, the perfume of the jasmine outside the balcony, the carefully maintained plaster and the worn and weathered wood combined to make a heady scent. The scent spoke to all. The scent spoke of opulence. The scent spoke of money. But most of all, the scent spoke of power.
Munesanzun Mitsukai Isradia found himself in one of the libraries on the ground floor of the estate. Upon arrival on the island, Oberst had instructed his staff to guide the Ktsma’at to one of the master suites and the main library. Before departing, the Marshal and handed Mune a list of items to look up in the library. And that is what Mune was doing. His hands carefully thumbed through books and cross-referenced information on the datapads arrayed before him on the table. As he finished the last of his notes, the main door to the library opened. Turning his head slightly in the direction of the door, he noticed a silvery protocol droid. Upon seeing the Archpriest, the droid spoke, “Sir, the Master requests your presence upon the landing pad in two hours time. The staff is already moving your belongings.” Inclining his head, the droid continued, “A repast has been prepared in the main dining hall for you. We will of course, make sure your notes are safely aboard the shuttle.” Tapping a clawed finger on the table, Mune carefully gathered the notes together and followed the droid to the dining hall.
* * * * * *
The shuttle ride was largely uneventful. Being the Supreme Commander of Military Forces for Tarentum had its advantages, Mune supposed. After all, the shuttle wasn’t a standard shuttle. It was a converted Helix. It was also unmarked. Mune decided to not think too much on that detail. Although new to Tarentum, the rumors about the Field Marshal had reached his ears even in his former Clan.
“…Set up secondary and tertiary flights,” Oberst’s voice carried down the corridor towards the passenger area. “And recall that goddamned flight. Make sure all officers know that flight clearance comes from above in their chain of command. If they don’t have a commission, I don’t care if they’re the goddamned Grand Master. Nothing moves without clearance.”
Mune arched a brow, wondering who was the object of the large human’s ire.
“…Merlance, it’s your boat. With Demos sequestered for this mission, flight orders come from Armus and that’s it. Recall those fighters to the Anubis,” Oberst’s voice boomed even louder as he continued, “Admiral, I trust you will be able to keep a better hold on your resources?”
“Yes, sir,” Armus’ voice was just barely picked up by Mune’s keen sense of hearing.
“It is not always wise,” an elegant voice next to Mune began, “to eavesdrop on the Marshal’s conversations.” Mune turned his head to notice the ship’s other passenger. The lady Oberst had met on his estate. He could not see her face. She kept her hood drawn over her head and she kept herself in the shadows as much as possible. All he could make out was a thick braid of platinum blonde hair that fell across her left shoulder and down her bosom. “Too much information can be a bad thing at times, young one.”
“How do you know I’m young?” Mune replied evenly, calmly.
Mune could not see it, but he could sense her reply, “I serve those who keep their servants for as long as they prove useful. They can keep even Death waiting indefinitely. Everyone is young compared to me.”
“…General, work with the Admiral and make sure supplies are on time to the rebuilding efforts on Yridia IV. The Consul would like those farms ready for the planting season. That gives us 3 weeks.”
The lady pulled closer to Mune. His eyes could finally begin to make out features in the shadowy recesses of her hood. Her fine features, the skin like porcelain and the eyes as clear and blue as glacial ice. “Do you know who I am, Archpriest?” Fear suddenly gripped the fox. His vision swam. His heart raced. His stomach turned. “They call me the Ghost Lady.”
* * * * * *
Oberst gazed out the bridge of his newest ship. The ship smelled new. Chemicals. Polish. New leather. New rubber. New plastics. The metals were still new, untarnished. Not worn from years of polishing to keep rust from showing. Eyes fixed forward, Oberst barked out, “Recall fighters. Prepare to get underway. Helm, once all fighters are recalled, proceed to your coordinates.”
“Sir,” a crewer called out, “We have a message from the Aegis a shuttle is approaching.”
“Deter the shuttle, Ensign.”
“Sir, she won’t be delayed.”
Oberst scowled, “Very well, but this had better be damned good.” Striding towards the lift he called out, “Commander Lucas, take us out once the shuttle is secured. And have someone request Master Bloodfyre meet me in the bay.”
There was a lot of comms chatter going on, most of it coded. He observed the shuttle traffic to and from the Aegis, and a particularly swift shuttle heading out. He had a strong feeling that was one shuttle he would definitely not intercept or question. Szordryn allowed his feelings to stretch out, becoming one with the craft and the surrounding space. He was aware of a lot of tensions in the region, and of a feeling of growing unease.
"XG-1 group Gamma, return to Aegis immediately, priority code 1" the comm crackled at them. Szordryn smiled with amusement. It did not take long to ruffle the feathers of the commanders. He had been expecting a reaction and it was not long in coming. A calculated risk, taking the ships out instead of sticking to the simulators. But then again, there is no substitute for real flight time, as his old instructor had drummed into him again and again. "Affirmative. Returning to base. Close it up guys, claw formation in 5 seconds, keep it tight." He continued to push them, as much to reassure them he was in control of what was happening.
They docked aboard the Aegis, and he was informed to report to Captain Merlance one he came aboard the vessel. Szordryn headed straight to debriefing his men and continued to put his men through their paces, taking them to the tactical room to demonstrate his lessons and the intent behind them. Not a bad bunch of guys, he thought. All we need to do now is get them some practice. He checked with the flight deck, making sure the fighters were battle-ready and checked on the remaining forces. There was that feeling again, as he looked out past the magnetic screen into Tarentum space. Something out there was not quite right.
(OOC - edited the above post as it seems merlance will not be aboard at that time)
(OOC: I am going to go back in time a bit with my previous post to fix the errors found in timeline)
Dranik was sitting at his consol looking over different reports upon hearing Sith’s transmission of who was to attend the hunt with him. While Dranik made no effort to hide the fact that he was annoyed by not being chosen he knew that, in the back of his mind, he would still have a part to play in the hunt. After all, he had decided to join Anshar in the hunt for the Palantir, which most likely would lead them to them to Kaiann in the end.
Dranik watched as the Palantir appeared in front of his ship and then disappeared again as it changed direction and entered into Hyperspace. Dranik very quickly followed after the Palantir.
Krae’hi and Jason had entered into Hyperspace and were reroute to Clan Tarentum. Their trip was going nicely until alarms sounded inside both fighters and they dropped out of Hyperspace. Jason muttered a few quiet curses to himself as he looked up at the rather large Gas Giant in front of them “I must have messed up our course, the gravity from that planet has brought us out of Hypserspace..” Jason said and started to work on re piloting their course. Krae’hi took this opportunity to re-engage the training mode on her fighter and spoke into the Comm “Jason, think fast” she said as she fired upon him.
A few moments later the Palantir came out of Hyperspace in front of them, the planet causing it to drop out of Hypserspace too.
(OOC: That should fix the problem)
Dranik cut his comm. channel and opened up a secure and private link with Anshar “So, do we have any idea where the Palantir is heading?” Dranik asked as he engaged his hyperdrive and watched his displays as the other 3 ships did the same. Anshar responded “Yes we do actually. Tariija has noticed a pattern in its jumps.” Anshar said before sharing the discovery with Dranik. Dranik muttered a loud curse over his comm. and then spoke again “Should we warn Tarentum? Or can we figure out its exact jumps so that we can possibly get in front of the Palantir?” Dranik asked and then added “Because if it makes it to Tarentum before we can stop it, with the clan being engaged in the hunt and everything being chaos there I assume, It could cripple the clan, if not worse.”
Anshar nodded slightly from his seat and then spoke “Yes it could, but for now, keep this information between us. I don’t want to put anyone into a panic just yet. We need to figure out how to stop it without destroying it, especially if its loaded down with explosives.
“You have over-stayed your welcome, Sadow. Leave, right now.” Korras said as he approached the Herald and his shuttle. “And take your family with you.”
The arrogance with which he was answered didn’t surprise him. “According to the new treaty I will be welcome here as long as I..”
The Obelisk cut him short. “YOU might be. Your Praetor is not. So, you either leave together, or HE leaves alone. And neither is going to get a transport on our vessels. You have 10 minutes.” Turning around, the Quaestor made to leave them.
“You betrayed your clan, Korras.” the Herald yelled at him. Turning around, he looked at the Krath insulting him. “No. the clan betrayed me. Do not dare to tell me what I did or did not do, and especially not on these grounds. Unless you want me to take your other arm as well. You have your instructions.”
With that, he left the grounds, heading for a control room. As soon as he saw both the Krath leave in their vessel, he nodded to one of the yeomen. “you know what to do.”
As the junior left, Korras mumbled “and I know what I have to do..”.. he still had to get acquainted with his Battleteam leaders, after all.
Through a twist of fate, Anshar had met up with a few allies in the pursuit of the Panatir. The question now, of course, was what exactly could be done about the ship. There was still plenty of time before the ship reached Tarentum space, but Anshar wanted the Palantir brought back in one piece, preferably with everything still attached. Still, if he had to, Anshar could and would order the destruction of the ship. That would be the last resort, though. He would rather rip the weapons off with the Force, first.
The problem, then, was how to stop the ship. Anshar’s own vessel had a lone ion cannon, and he was fairly certain Dranik’s did as well. But, even combined, they would be hard pressed to disable the ship by themselves. Jason and Krae’hi did not have the weapons capable of disabling the ship, and in Jason’s own words, they would have to eventually refuel, or ditch their fighters. Somehow, Anshar doubted that they would choose the second option; and he didn’t blame them.
“Anshar,” said Tariija, breaking his train of thought. “A question. Does Tarentum play an important role to the Brotherhood at large?” Tariija had not been in the Brotherhood for some time, only choosing to return recently. It was only after she had hijacked an Emperor’s Hammer shuttle that she had been able to make her way towards Antei, or at least the outskirts of the shroud. She had been there before; she knew it well enough.
“Yes,” replied Anshar. “We do guard the shroud, but in terms of impacting all other clans, Tarentum is the major trading center for the Brotherhood. Those we deal with don’t know what we truly are and we keep it that way.”
“I thought that was the case,” said Tariija. “I just had another thought. If Kaiann’s goal is to cause harm to Tarentum, then what would be more harmful than interrupting the clan’s shipping? The Palantir is not truly a warship, based on what I know about it. But, it would make an excellent commerce raider; it has speed, the proper weaponry, and if it comes from Tarentum’s space, it will draw more attention to the clan than is warranted. Either Tarentum will have to provide better escorts to freighters, thus reducing the clan’s fleet strength, or those the clan trade with will insist on providing their own escorts. Either way, there is potential for the clan’s cover to be blown. And we both know that there are plenty of powers out there who would want to wipe us out.” Anshar grimaced. He had not thought about the trading problem.
It was a distinct possibility. How hard would it have been for Kaiann to wrangle a fake Tarentum transponder code for the ship? Or, far simpler, if Tarentum let the ship through its space and into the shipping lanes to the nearest planets, the blame would rest solely at the feet of Tarentum. Glancing down at the star chart in front of him, Anshar noted that they were about halfway to the Yridian system. Reaching over to the console on his right, Anshar opened a channel to Dranik and the others.
“This is Anshar,” he identified himself. “You are authorized to utilize whatever means necessary to bring the Palantir to a halt. Please try to contact the crew, but if need be, try to disable the weapons and engines first. I will be contacting the clan. Once we can retake the ship, we will see if it can lead us to Kaiann.” Brief acknowledgements were heard and the hunt for the Palantir took on a new edge.
And, it was only a smaller part of the overall campaign. What lay ahead for Tarentum, both those who had joined Sith and those left behind, was anyone’s guess. Anshar peered at the blue molted hyperspace around him. Virtually anything was within the realm of possibility.
The shuttle slowed as it approached the Acheron, and within moments was docked with the cruiser. After several long minutes, the landing ramp descended, and a robed woman descended from the craft. The woman was not heavily-robed, obscure female, but she was robed nonetheless. She was known to the Clan, and known to the crewmen who had been called to greet the shuttle’s arrival.
“Take me to the Consul.”
“My Lady, as far as I am aware, the Consul is coming to meet you,” one of the crewmen said. “I was told to greet you, and to keep you here until such time as the Consul and Marshal arrived.”
“They have me deterred from the Aegis, and then they keep me waiting. Wonderful,” the woman’s irritation was apparent. She wasn’t forced to wait long, however, as the doors to the shuttle bay opened to permit the Marshal entrance, followed moments later by the Consul.
“It’s about time,” Ziltopia said flatly.
“We’ve been plagued with delays, and have had other pressing issues to deal with,” Oberst responded, showing no reaction to the woman’s tone.
“I assume there’s a reason for you to delay us eve further?” Sith asked.
“The Consul you may be, but you know damned well why I’d want to come along, so don’t give me any of that,” Zil replied. “I have as much of a reason as anyone, if not more, to be involved in this. I’ll not only see Kaiann in hell, I’ll send him there.”
The conversation went on for several moments, as the female Krath caught up with her male Clanmates, informed them of her travels, and more. The trio eventually turned to leave the bay, and were nearly bowled over my a crewman running into the shuttle bay.
“My apologies, my Lords!” the crewman said hastily, backing up several steps before saluting and relaying his message. “My Lord, I have a message from the Captain. He says there is an incoming transmission from Anshar Kahn.”
* * * * * *
“The Palantir is headed directly for Tarentum space,” the Headmaster said. “Sith, we’ve got a problem. If the ship is under Kaiann’s control, and it’s headed your way, Kaiann has plans, and given our long-standing feud with him, I can’t believe they’d be good.”
There were reasons for everything, and perhaps this had been the reason for the delays in departure. The Clan had intended to seek out the hunted Entar, but in the end, it seemed as though he was heading straight to them.
“If it’s just the Palantir, there’s no real threat,” Oberst said.
“I have to agree,” Spears nodded. “Though the Palantir is valuable to the Academy, it has no real power or weaponry. We could easily destroy it.”
“If it’s alone, yes,” Welshman said. “What if it’s not alone? Anshar, it may be traveling by itself for now, but what if it’s meeting up with a larger force?”
“If that’s the case, this isn’t just a simple chase,” Anshar concluded. “I have no reason to doubt its eventual destination; my rogue ship is heading straight for—“
“We’ve got trouble,” Tariija broke in. “I’ve got several signatures, and we’re headed straight for them. We’re going to have company here in a few minutes, and I have the feeling we’re going to be bringing company to Yridia.”
“See if you can get an accurate identification on those signatures, and then make a run for us,” Oberst said, then turned to the deck officer of the Acheron. “Put a message through to Armus, and let him to know prepare for their arrival. We need to put together a welcoming party. Send a message to the Castle, and get everyone preparing now. Donitz will need to marshal his forces.”
Crew members went into high gear, and went about their duties to comply with Oberst’s commands. Sith continued to stare into the holographic projection of Anshar, and then turned to Welshman.
“Welshman, we need to make sure to have reinforcements ready to meet Anshar in case something goes wrong and those ships engage him prematurely,” Bloodfyre said. Welshman nodded once, and then turned to leave without needing further instruction. ShadowFoxx turned to leave with the Warlord, and turned his head slightly before he left earshot.
“If you need me, I’ll make sure Welshman’s wing is covered,” ShadowFoxx said.
“One of these days, he’s going to have himself surgically attached to his fighter,” Spears said, a slight smirk on his face. “I think I’m going to head back to the Castle, Sith. I have the feeling I’m going to be needed there more than I am here.”
“I think I may join you,” Frosty said.
“Go,” Sith nodded. “I wonder if Kaiann will have the intestinal fortitude to come to this gathering he’s been so kind to arrange for us.”
“Normally I would say no,” Spears responded, “simply because he doesn’t wear the pants in his family. But somehow, I believe he’s coming to see us.”
Continuity clarification, Did anshar find the ship? It seems to me in his post he's just talking about possibilities and conjecture. And the more pressing issue being the multiple ship sigs detected? Can some one clear this up?
Anshar has been trailing the Palantir. In his post(s), Tariija has doscovered a pattern, that the Palantir is heading for Tarentum. They are still trailing it. In my recent post, I added the fact that there are several ship signatures, and it appears that the Palantir is heading for them. Basically, the Palantir is joining a larger gathering of ships (which, we do not yet know), and they are going to be attacking Tarentum.
The bridge of the Acheron was awash in activity. Crewers raced to prepare for the drop from hyperspace. They knew what needed to be done, and they were preparing for it. Oberst stood before the holographic display, gazing at the blip that marked the Acheron and the blips that marked the other ships within the area. The Modified Corvette Palantir stood out in red against a sea of black, blue and green. It raced towards another group of blips, these in yellow, marking their status as “unknown.” The Acheron’s course was set to intercept. At their present speed, they’d come in on the tail of the rogue Corvette, as it met up with those blips.
“Sir, we are still out of range of a positive id of those ships,” a Lieutenant said, somewhere to Oberst’s left.
“Other ships in the area that can conduct the scan and relay the information?” Oberst asked casually, languidly.
“Negative. A-Wings did launch from the Anubis. They should be in range to conduct a scan shortly.”
Oberst turned on his heel to face the junior officer, “How long?”
The Lieutenant glanced down at his datapad, “Thirty seconds, sir.”
Returning his gaze to the display, Oberst asked, “How long until they reach Yridian space?”
“Confirm that all military units are on full alert. Request that the Admiral have all fighters on stand by.”
“Aye, Sir,” another officer replied. “Sir, units checking in confirmed. Admiral Armus has upped patrols and readied all fighters. Interceptors are moving from the Aegis to the Sword’s Sheath now.”
“Sir!” a pit crewer called out, “We have confirmation on the unknowns. We’re reading one Nebulon-B Frigate, two Carrack-class Cruisers, four Correllian Gunships, three more Assassin-class Corvettes and four CR90s. They’re forming up around the Palantir!”
Oberst snarled, “Have those A-Wings drop probes, and return to the Anubis. Now.”
“Aye, Sir. Sir, fighters are moving from the Frigate to intercept the A-wings. They’re Avengers.”
Oberst focused in on the area, “How long until our fighters can get there?”
“Those A-Wings will be dead in one minute,” Oberst turned to the communications pit, “Inform Captain Demos that his Defenders are to get out there and extract those A-Wings. I don’t want any heroics, I just want my fighters out of the area. They are not clear to engage the capital ships. And request Admiral Armus launch Missile Boats. I want to slow the advance of those capital ships.”
“Sir,” another crewer piped up, “Kaiann’s ships have just changed IFF’s. They’re broadcasting as Tarentum ships.”
Oberst swore under his breath.
That Kaiann had apparently built up a small fleet over the years was not all that surprising to Anshar. That he had obviously planned an intricate assault was the most troubling thing to the Headmaster. It wasn’t that particularly doubted Kaiann’s abilities to plan something, but Anshar reasoned that the assault would have been planned very recently, perhaps right at the end of the Great Jedi War, when Tarentum’s forces would have been weakest, and right after Kaiann had, according to every report, gone completely mad. Either the madness had inspired the plan, or Kaiann still had some sense, some core of rationality left.
“Anshar,” said Tariija. “We’ve got a problem. The attacking ships have switched IFFs to Tarentum codes.” Anshar grimaced. It would complicate things a bit, but Anshar knew the ships in Tarentum’s fleet, so identifying them would not be a problem for him. Exactly what the true intent behind such a ruse remained to be seen. Anshar keyed his comm. and contacted Dranik, Jason, and Krae’hi.
“I imagine you’re all aware of the situation,” he said. “We don’t have much of choice but to get involved. We’re to close to turn around, and, besides, it is our clan. We have a duty to defend it. Anything you can do to stop or delay the enemy is encouraged.”
“What about the Palantir?” asked Dranik. Anshar thought but for a split second.
“If we must destroy it, we must destroy it,” Anshar replied. Jason broke into the conversation.
“Anshar, Krae’hi and I are a bit low on fuel,” he said. “Guess we should have filled up sooner. Anyway, we’re not going to be any good in a fight if we run out. We’re going to keep going, fuel, and then get back as soon as possible.”
“Understood,” said Anshar. As useful as the two fighters might be, they would be helpless without fuel. “Get back soon.” The comm. cut off and Anshar looked at the timer. They were thirty seconds from dropping out of hyperspace right into the middle of TIE Avengers and a fleet of capital ships. Quietly, to himself, Anshar wondered if they’d have to retreat.
“Troubled?” asked Tariija. Anshar shook his head, not that Tariija could really see the motion.
“Tariija, you know how to work the quad laser cannons, right?” asked Anshar.
“I do,” she replied. Admittedly, it had been awhile since she had used one in a real combat situation, but she could do it.
“Good,” said Anshar. “Take the top turret. I can use the ion cannon.”
“Right,” said Tariija, getting up from his chair and jogging to the turret. Anshar keyed his comm. again, this time only to Dranik.
“Dranik, we go in, we do what we can, and then we get out of there,” said Anshar. “Neither ship is made for combat and we don’t have the weaponry to really stop anything.” Dranik replied affirmatively and Anshar watched as the final few seconds ticked away. . .
Jason's A-wing dropped back into realspace, and he made an immediate turn towards the Sword's Sheath. He felt Krae'hi mirror his move, and they both gunned it towards the Tarentum capital.
"We're going to land as quickly as possible, get refueled, and get back out into the fight," he said over the ship-to-ship communications link.
"Right," the Trianii replied. "Your ship's faster than mine, so you go ahead and get there first. That way, you can get back out sooner. You're more suited to this dogfighting anyways, so you'd probably be of more help."
"Yeah, makes sense. But, as soon as you can, get the kriff back out there, because I'm going to need a wingman." Without saying anything else, he pushed his throttles all the way forward, and rocketed off towards the asteroid base of House Gladius. It was about ten kilometers away, and at the speed he was going, it would only take a couple of minutes to get there.
He opened a comm link to the traffic controller on the asteroid and said, "Gladius traffic control, this is Prelate Jason Hunter. I'm coming in for a fast refuel in an A-wing, bearing a Gladius IFF code."
"Copy that, Prelate," the gruff voice of the controller commed back. "Technicians are standing by."
"Roger." Shutting down the comm system, Jason warmed his repulsors and prepared for a hot landing. Usually, when a craft neared the docking bay, a tractor beam would reach out and slowly maneuver it inside. But, given the urgency of the situation, the beam wouldn't catch him and slow his time any. As he neared it, though, he pulled back to fifty percent throttle and eased his way through the magcon field. Quickly chopping his speed back, he kicked in his repulsor lift and settled a little too roughly on his landing skids. A pair of techs, in oil-stained coveralls and helmets, rushed over with a fuel house.
"Get that hose hooked up, now!" Jason yelled down at the men as he popped open the canopy. "I've got a dogfight to get to, and if we lose, you're both out of a job!"
They seemed to respond positively to Jason's criticism, as they got his A-wing refueled in almost a quarter of the time it usually took. With a tank full of reactor fuel, he waved the technicians away and closed his canopy, goosing power to his lifts and shooting out the wide mouth of the hangar. As he was just lifting off the deck, Krae'hi was settling down on her skids, and those same two techs ran over to refuel her. She waved at him as he passed by, and sent urgent thoughts his way. Once he came around the shadow of a nearby asteroid, he could see way.
Ahead of him, the two fleets had begun squaring off. Bright flashes of light blossomed between the capital ships as starfighters engaged eachother, as the larger ships edged ever closer into firing range.
The Event Horizon engines strapped to the stern of his tiny starfighter groaned in complaint as he pushed the throttles past their safety stops, but he ignored the noise as he concentrated on the battle ahead of him. Krae'hi would be joining him soon, and he urgently wished that the techs would work faster. Tarentum was going to need every available ship, or it would be overrun.
Force be with us, he thought, coming around the belly of one of Tarentum's capital ships as he drew ever closer to combat.