Dark Crusade: Prologue Team 1
Welcome to the Dark Crusade Prologue. The following rules are in effect:
1. 250 word minimum per post.
2. 1 post per player, per phase (this will be a three phase run-on separated conducted in 7 day intervals). If a member fails to post during a phase, the team will lose points.
3. Edits may occur on a post until a follow on post has been made (follow on posts include "reserving" a space).
4. Members may reserve post, but no posts can occur until after the reserved post is written.
5. The event will be graded by Raken, Sarin, and Muz using a rubric that focuses on creativity, plot development, realism, and grammar.
1. 1-7 January - Signups, Set up starting posts on 7th
2. 8-14 January - Phase 1 posts, 15th = Sarin post, start new phase.
3. 16-22 January - Phase 2 posts, 23rd = Sarin post, start new phase.
4. 24-31 January - Phase 3 posts, and the joys of grading.
You will find the details for phase one here: http://wiki.darkjedibrotherhood.com/view/Dark_Crusade_-_Prologue
The Lambda-class shuttle rocked as the pilot kicked in the repulsorlifts late, preparing for a hot drop inside the hangar bay. A difficult drop for even the most experienced pilot, hitting a specific hangar bay on the underside of a Super-class Star Destroyer travelling through the Shroud. The five Jedi inside all rose to their feet quickly moving towards the entry ramp to begin their assault.
As the ramp cracked open, the sounds and bright orange flashes of the two powerful stationary defensive turrets in the hangar bay quickly filled the small cabin. The blasts crashed harmlessly into the shuttles powerful shield generators as the forward twin laser cannons blasted back in response, pounding into the heavily armored turrets own individual shields. The stalemate was attracting the attention of units stationed in that area of the massive starship and stormtroopers began to turn their attention to the incursion as one by one the assault team dropped from the embattled shuttle.
As the fifth and final Jedi of the assault team leapt off the ramp towards the solid steel floor of the hangar, an explosion from the bottom of the shuttle quickly knocked his dark hooded form forward before he could fully land. He met the ground in a less than graceful roll, pulling himself into a crouch at the feet of another of his allies, turning his head back up towards the shuttle in the direction of the blast, pulling away his hood.
The dark blue eyes of Evant Taelyan winced as the repulsorlifts on the underside shuttle failed at the impact of a surface to air rocket. He looked up from the feet of Shadow Nighthunter, a fellow Dark Jedi and ally who under incredible concentration hadn’t taken notice of him, her red blade flying in through the air in a panicked manner overblowing her form and struggling to deflect the heavy incoming blaster fire from the ground units who joined the fight.
The Dark Jedi Knight ignited his own purple blade with a wicked grin and leapt to his feet to join her. His own blade joining hers, and the Jedi Hunter’s form quickly came back under control. Beside the duo, a small Rodian Krath Priest, Koryn Thraagus, more effortlessly spun his red blade against the relentless blaster fire. He deflected a good portion of the blaster fire back causing the attacking troops to take cover and slowing their own assault.
The colorful flashes of lightsaber blades of the five assaulting Jedi whirling through the air under assault of stormtrooper blaster fire concentrated on the small assault team filled the small hangar with a brilliant lightshow. Behind them the shuttle rolled to the port side into the failed repulsorlift, and the sound of the main ion engines filled the room in response to keep the shuttle under power, still in a firefight with the automated defenses of the hangar.
As the closest nearby defensive turrets own shield generators failed under the barrage of laser cannon fire of the shuttle, the blasts now slammed into its durasteel armoring superheating it. It quickly failed as several blasts penetrated the armoring and blew the turret to shreds in a blinding explosion. In response, another surface to air rocket cruised across the hangar and slammed this time harmlessly into the shielded side of the shuttle, the resulting heat of the blast could be felt filling the entire small area.
Another of the assaulting Jedi, Morotheri , responded quickly to the blast. Although the Miraluka had no eyes he could see the entire hangar as clearly as any other through the force. He immediately located the source of the rocket and with deep concentration began pulled the offending stormtrooper the short distance across the hangar towards his ready blade. As the body hurled towards him like a rag doll, he lost his concentration to deflect incoming fire from other troops who took notice of his actions. His fellow Odan-Urr brother, a Nautolan who went simply by Raiju, quickly sidestepped to the right with his own amber blade drawn and effortlessly sliced the flying trooper in half.
The shuttle turned further still into its failed repulsorlifts towards the exist now to expose new shields as the remaining defensive turret began to penetrate through with several blasts slamming now into the strong durasteel hull of the shuttle harmlessly scoring the surface. The rear mounted defensive turrets of the shuttle still hammering back finally breaking through the defenses of the second of the turrets leaving a smoking hole in its place. The shuttle poured all energy now to its engines as it blasted its way from the hangar and back into the Shroud and out of sight.
The volume and commotion in the hangar dropped considerably as the heavy laser cannon fire of the shuttle and defensive turrets ceased. All attention now focused on the five Jedi who took a quick defensive position into a maintenance bay on the edge of the hangar still battling back against what remained of the stormtroopers.
A terrible screech reverberated throughout the tight confines of the hangar bay, the sound reflected from the bulkhead as the heaping wreck of a TIE bomber skidded to a halt on the far side of the hangar, leaving the twisted and broken remains of various sensors and arrays in its wake. A dangerous mixure of various chemicals spilled forth from the ion engines, igniting into an inferno of orange and red. A gaping hole in the side of the bulkhead was left in its place as a squadron of stormtroopers surged forwards through the voluminous cloud of dust obstructing the vision of the five Jedi, their blasters already firing rapidly in the expectation of a large-scale assault. Leaping into the thick of the action, Koryn Thraagus soared through the air, his lightsaber tracing a crimson arc as he planted it through the skull of his target, killing him instantly. Horrified and slightly in shock, his comrades faltered for a brief moment before bringing their weapons to bear.
Carving a bloody swath towards the ruined bulkhead, the remaining four Jedi charged forwards, batting away blaster bolts that came in range with their deadly blades of red, orange and amethyst. Surrounded on all sides by foes, the green-skinned Rodian conformed to the highly defensive posture of the Soresu style, swatting away the deadly bolts of energy as he eliminated his foes with attacks derived from the more offensive form of Makashi.
Before one stormtrooper could react, the Miralukan Aedile sent a wave of confusion rippling to his target, rendering him sluggish as he struggled to defend himself from the onslaught of the other’s crimson blade. A moment later, Koryn sensed the opportunity, thrusting his lightsaber forward, he lodged the tip of his blade through the soldier’s abdomen. The blade sizzled as it cauterized the wound, and with one swift motion Koryn dislodged the lightsaber, raising it in a defensive posture as he dispatched the last of the group.
“Look how they scurry about, my brother.” Said a voice beyond the impenetrable mist that faintly lingered beyond the tear in the bulkhead. Through the Force, Morotheri knew there were no ordinary beings. He could ‘see’ the Dark Side of the Force radiating from their bodies through the cloud of dust before it dissipated.
“It seems to me, my brother that these retches might actually prove an ample challenge.” Called the other. The snap-hiss of multiple lightsabers could be heard as they stepped beyond the threshold onto a twisted piece of what had once been the left wing of the TIE bomber, their staves of red and white blazed in a challenge to the five Jedi spread throughout the confines of the hangar. A massive explosion shook the very ground beneath them as the raging flames made contact with a heap of proton torpedoes, knocked loose from the bomber’s rack of torpedoes, sending them hurtling in all directions. The trajectory of the deadly missiles collided with various bulkhead and objects strewn throughout the battlefield. The impact caused each of the five Jedi to lose balance as they collapsed onto the cold durasteel floor. Across the chamber, the paired chuckles of Reaper and Frost further ignited the three Dark Jedi's hatred as they swept back to their feet.
“Frost, will you do the honors, my brother?”
The amount of power Shadow sensed from the brothers through the force was strong. However, she wasn’t about to let it intimidate her. Being the only on in her group not having achieved Knighthood meant she wasn’t highly skilled as her companions, but that didn’t mean she would just let them have all the fun. With right amount of quick planning and timing, she would find a way to contribute to the killing of the two freaks standing in their way.
As the brother known as Frost began to approach, Shadow sensed her companions getting ready for the attack. Were they going to charge or were they just going to jump in individually to fight Frost? Were they going to attack the other brother at the same time? She was finding it a bit difficult to anticipate what the plan was, like she was able to in the past with former allies that she knew well, including her master. Confusion started to fill her mind, but she quickly swept it away. Now wasn’t the time to blind herself with misunderstanding.
To her left she saw Koryn advance on the brother with Evant joining him. The Miraluken some feet away also began his engagement with the enemy and the other Dark Jedi with him as well. With the idea of the plan dawning on her, she rushed in to join the fight, her armory saber ready in her hand and her other hand making sure that her hidden dagger was where it should be in case she needed it. Within just a few seconds, she was already part of the tempest of sabers.
One does not dismiss an order of the Iron Throne; to do so would be suicide. And so it was that Koryn found himself united with those who chose to walk the path of light. He had learned long ago, however, to take assistance in whatever form it manifested. So his path had led to standing side-by-side with two Odanites, their lightsabers drawn against common foes.
"Do you feel it, brother?" Asked Frost as his dual white lightsabers worked tirelessly to parry the Platinaeans' strikes. "It's as though the Force is in balance." Adjusting the grip of his off-hand blade, Frost locked lightsabers with Evant and countered with his strong hand. The Knight was forced to roll to the side to dodge the attack, landing in the midst of what appeared to be custom-built battle droids built from the scavenged remains of other droids. No two were identical; there were B2 torsos melded with SD-9-series heads and armaments, the upper half of a Phase III Dark Trooper planted atop Tao-Ni Security Elite legs, scavenged droideka weapons systems attached to ZQ Infantry Droid bodies, amongst many other combinations. It was quite a feat of engineering that was to be as admired as feared. The Tetrarch's violet lightsaber swept across a group of them, severing circuitry and rendering armour plating obsolete. He backed away towards the duel, his weapon twirling in the air to deflect blaster fire back towards the droids.
"I feel it, brother," replied Reaper, pressing the attack against the two Acolytes of Urr; their Soresu defences were holding up well, but Reapers assault came wildly and relentlessly. "It will be a pleasure to tilt the balance back in our favour." Working as one, the twins nimbly switched opponents, momentarily throwing the Jedi of the Brotherhood off balance. They pushed the attack, combining pushes and pulls with the Force to further unbalance their challengers.
"You don't have to walk this path," The Miralukan spoke softly but with purpose as though the very essence of the Force laced his every word, even as he and Raiju attempted to turn the tide of battle. "The Light will welcome you with open arms." The brothers simply laughed at his attempts to sway them from the Dark Side. If nothing else, it distracted them enough for the Palatinaeans and Odanites to seize the attack. Their combined use of Banlanth, Shii-Cho, Makashi, and Soresu forms made the brothers work hard to parry the assault. Learning from the brothers' own tactics, the group began to rapidly adjust their targets. Koryn feinted an attack to Reapers right flank before leaping high and bringing his crimson blade crashing down towards Frost. Shadow darted between the two, attacking in tight efficient arcs before disengaging and returning to the other brother. Raiju's brutal mastery of Shii-Cho coupled with enhancements through the Force allowed him to unbalance the brothers' Jar'Kai styles opening them up for swift strikes. The anger grew within Frost and Reaper until the group was hurled backwards by two potent Force throws. The brothers minds worked together perfectly, each anticipating the other, as two fighter craft were lifted into the air and thrown on a collision course with the Jedi.
The panic and disbelief created from the immediate threat was enough to freeze bodies in place. Though the huffing cackle that each of the annoying pair released in their effort proved they were pushing their selves to their limits; the strength of the twins was incredible. It seemed very much that when they worked together, they drew stronger. Yet, for the moment, the lone Nautolan of the strike team was more concerned on the star crafts then the twins.
“Moro…” Raiju began in almost a whisper. “Even if you had one eye, I don’t think you would believe what I’m seeing.”
“Shut up and move!”
The command from the Miralukan was quickly obeyed by Krath of the team, but the lone Sith struggled to make it out of the path of the fighters. In a display of selflessness, the Miraluka forfeited his escape and gave the girl his aid by hurling what looked like a cloud of energy at Shadow’s back; drawing her like a wave to shore out of the path of the fighters. Yet, while the Sith was pushed to safety; the Sentinel remained in the fighters’ path.
Naïve, fool. The Nautolan thought, gazing at the scene from over his shoulders. Save the bitch now, and she will stab us in the back later.
Raiju didn’t consider himself foolish enough to trust the Dark Jedi. Time and time again he had served the many thrones that the clans and houses of the brotherhood had carved for themselves, and each time he had been burned worse than the previous dark lord. Most recently, the damnable servants of the Sith King had seen him abandoned on New Tython and casted him out of the Brotherhood ranks; leaving the Nautolan to seek refuge with the Jedi. While he had grown to accept many of the views of the Acolytes, the Guardian still held onto the notion that the only good Sith was a dead one. But, Sentinels weren’t like that.
Without skipping a beat, the path of the Guardian turned sharply. Pouring from the pores of his heels, an unseen energy fueled the Guardian’s flight into a blur while he charged into the Miralukan. As hard as a freight train, the Guardian smashed into the man’s chest and lifted him from the floor as the pair sped from serious harm and flew out of the path of the crashing fighters. Behind them sparks lit the air as steel shrieked in protest while the star fighters deformed into hemps of wreckage that swept across the hanger floor. Narrowly, the entire strike team all had evaded the carnage but no battle droids were able to share that fate.
“Bet you wish you hadn’t jumped onto our ship now, don’t you?” A voice bellowed over the last of the wreckages’ explosions.
“Yeah, Frost. I bet they don’t even have clean underwear anymore.” Continued the other.
“Would you both shut the frack up!” Responded the Nautolan as anger swelled within him and he ignited his amber blade again. “Before the smoke clears, I swear I will be crushing one of your throats!”
Laughter was all that responded to the Nautolan’s threats before a chorus of humming from ignited lightsabers flooded the hangar. First amber and red collided as the Jedi Guardian charged the closest twin, but immediately a second amber blade batted away a threatening swipe of a white blade as Morotheri joined the fray. Grunts and shouts quickly began to overtake the volume of the crackling exchanges of blades as Raiju’s blows hammered hard on the defense of the first twin while Morotheri’s swift strikes attempted to drill through openings.
Suddenly, the exchange was thrown into discourse as the second twin came to the defense of his brother. Pulled onto different targets, the pair of Jedi became dancing the twins away from one another as they were pushed onto the defensive and sought to withdraw from the dual blades of each twin. Relief came as another crimson blade was added to the exchanges from the hands of Koryn, whom narrowly caught a quick counter to his throat for his bravery. Yet, the white blade was batted away and a yelp of pain echoed from the twin as the Krath drove a heavy foot into the twin’s thigh.
From the other battle, Raiju was losing ground quick as he was forced to retreat under the wing one the last remaining starfighter parked in the hangar. Only laughter came from this twin’s mouth as the Jedi Guardian attempted a quick counter that bit nothing but air while dropping his guard, his only saving grace came from the quick fist of Evant who drove it into the face of the attacking twin and driving him away from the Nautolan and to the floor. But for his own bravery, Evant was quckly targeted by the twin and an outstretched hand seem to guide the Dark Jedi Knight off the ground and threatened to send him dangerously hard into the ground. Yet, the smell of melting metal filled the air suddenly as the amber blade of the Jedi Guardian lashed out at the leg of the park starfighter, hacking it in two. Immediately the cries of the twins died to a single voice of protest as the starfighter slumped onto the throat and all of the twin that had been Frost.
Reaper appeared to take the event painfully, as his attention was drawn to the fading energy of his brother and away from his foes. As if destined to only exist together, a new crimson blade emerged swiftly from the twin’s chest from behind as Shadow suddenly leapt from the smoke of burning rubble. With a heavy, meaty sound of flesh smacking steel; Reaper’s corpse dropped to the ground just as the remaining members of the strike team regained their feet and gazed at the captured hangar through the clearing haze of smoke.
As he rolled out of the turbo-lift car, a slight ringing still burning in his ears, Morotheri could sense numbness to the world amongst the rest of his team. Unable to see with his eyes what was going on, the Force showed him battle droids from two fronts down hallways both in front of and to the left of the team. With the lift behind them out of commission that left the five cornered. The Jedi stepped forward into a defensive position and his amber blade moved through the air connecting with incoming blaster fire against the assault. Behind him, the rest of the disoriented team backed to the wall struggling to regain composure.
“That flash was about as bright as the prospects of our situation,” Evant spat out gritting his teeth while blinking exhaustibly and struggling with his sight, the Dark Jedi Knight could only see bright flashes against the sound of endless blaster fire and the hum of lightsaber. He held back the pain in his ears while the Force allowed him some amount of clarity.
The Miraluka among them, at ease with the absence of sight now understood the dilemma of the flash bang, continuing to defend the group as they regained their composure. He reached out to his fellow Jedi connecting with his mind. Raiju moved up alongside his fellow Jedi, aided by his vision of the Force the two took up arms in defense of the team, as he barked back a retort to the Dark Jedi’s sarcastic yet cynical comment, “Well I suggest you help dim the situation then.”
While Jedi of Odan-Urr took flank to defend against the oncoming blaster fire, the Dark Jedi seethed behind them. Evant ignited his violet saber and took a defensive stance behind Raiju, as he stepped forward to connect with an incoming blaster bolt and deflected it straight up and into the fire suppression systems on the ceiling, filling the already chaotic hallway with klaxon alarms and an endless spray of water and mist.
“I said dim, not damp,” Raiju spat as his amber blade continued to connect with the dangerous blaster fire from his flank.
“I was starting to regain my sight, thought I’d do away with the hearing again,” Evant grinned as his violet blade now moved with purpose to deflect additional blasts as the Krath regained his composure and confidence. The move hadn’t improved the situation much but it had lessened the effectiveness of the attacking battle droids whose sensors were now soaking wet and working through the new conditions to keep locked on their targets.
“Grenade,” Morothiri yelled out, sensing it moving down the hallway before it was even thrown. Behind him Koryn’s eyes still closed analyzing the situation on the entire floor his lightsaber still attached to his belt, reached a hand out and grabbed the grenade with the Force the moment it was launched by the droid and pushed it back. A violent explosion erupted as the concussion grenade detonated behind the enemy lines. It caused a chain reaction as the explosion not only heavily damaged the droids, but also ignited the gas tank of a flame thrower as the droids jostled to advance their lines.
As the flame thrower erupted, a brilliant fireball filled the entire hallway taking out the remaining droids before immediately going out again unable to sustain itself on the now drenched walls and floor. Koryn immediately took charge as team leader and stepped forward, quickly accounting for the health of his team before issuing his command, “That’s our exit, let’s move.”
All five of them moved down the hall towards the explosion. Morotheri and Shadow covered their rear flank deflecting the blaster fire as they moved away from the second flank deflecting bolts where possible to keep them from advancing. As they approached the destroyed flank, Evant and Raiju kept their lightsabers engaged and ready for an attack that never came as they reached another T-intersection.
“Well that blast was highly effective,” Koryn stated the obvious as he stopped and planned their next move, his mind analyzing the entire floor, “and they couldn’t have picked a better floor to stop us on, this entire floor is a bastion of destruction and heavily cloaked in the Dark Side.”
Evant stood ready alongside his fellow Scholae brother, his lightsaber reflecting off the pools of water and casting a faint violet glow onto the walls before going dark as he turned it off and reattached it to his belt. His hair now flat, soaked from the fire suppression system as water ran down his face and then beaded up and rolled down his dark robes. Completely numb to his own situation, all his focus was down the hallway as a Sith Warrior could be seen in the distance slowly approaching.
“That makes our decision easy, everyone this way,” Koryn led the team to the right away from the incoming enemy Dark Jedi and all five of them piled into a room filled with droid parts and technicians. The technicians looked at them numbly as Raiju and Morotheri moved back towards the doorway, their amber blades still lit staring down the incoming Dark Jedi. Behind them Shadow looked on, her red armory saber held behind her ready to attack.
Evant Taelyan quickly scanned the room, the Tetrarch smiled realizing where they had ended up, “Hold that Dark Jedi off and buy me some time, Koryn take care of these technicians, I only need a little time with the defense system but I think I can gain us some allies.”
As the Krath spoke a technician quickly turned to the computer terminal and began franticly typing as Evant reached out through the force and pulled him away. The Dark Jedi Knight quickly moved across the room while igniting his saber and without hesitation cut down the technician slicing him in two, the halves of his body slumping over as the contents poured out onto the floor. He simply walked through the mess as he approached the now vacant terminal and began his frantic work to reprogram enemy droids.
Two technicians were attempting to undo Evant's work, their fingers rapidly moving across the control panels, tapping buttons, and pulling levers to activate any system failsafe procedures. With a wave of the Rodian's hand, one was slammed face first into the console. His nose shattered, spraying blood over the once pristine white interface. Gripping the other's shoulder, Koryn's crimson blade slid easily through the man's stomach. He wheezed for breath as his hands lashed out to press one final button. Behind him, the Tetrarch cursed loudly.
"They've locked me out of the system," he stated matter-of-factly. "I can create a workaround, but it'll take some time." Scanning the corridors while deactivating his lightsaber, Koryn could sense more squads closing in on their position. Not droids though, they moved with a purpose as if they were trained for dealing with Force users. Not to mention the Sith Warrior who was swiftly closing the distance.
"Hold the line," ordered the Rollmaster. "They're going to hit us hard. Raiju, Morotheri, you take the west doorway; Shadow you're with me on the south. We can't let any of them through." They all moved to cover their respective positions, except for Raiju who just stared at Koryn.
"Now might be a good time to tell us what’s on that datapad," it was more of a command than a request from the Nautolan. Subconsciously, Thraagus’ hand went to his pocket, his sucker-tipped fingers tracing over the surface of the datapad. He weighed up the advantages of telling them the secrets contained within against the potential threat it could cause. “You have no right to keep it from us.” Removing his hand from the pocket, his hand closed around the grip of the Westar-34 holstered at his belt. Both Jedi activated their lightsabers simultaneously as Koryn sighted his target and pulled back on the trigger. The emerald bolt flew dangerously close to Raiju’s head before finding the weak point of a soldier’s armour in the neck.
“We have company,” said the Rodian, ignoring the forceful request for information and turning away from the Odanite. The soldiers drew their battle lines, many falling to one knee in order to stabilise their aim, and began to open fire. Lightsabers became blurs as they deflected the torrent of fire. Raiju’s hand thrust forward, scattering the enemy lines and giving him and Morotheri ample time to push the offensive. Shadow glanced over at the Rodian, who nodded his approval to follow the Prelate’s example as he took potshots at the troops. In a matter of moments, the right flank was equally decimated. Advancing forwards, a whisper in the Force made Koryn backpedal as a sword came crashing down towards him. His crimson blade came arcing down to slice through the weapon and disarm his opponent. Instead, it collided as if meeting another lightsaber; the sword must have been made from a Phrik alloy, it was the only explanation. The soldier saw the brief flash of puzzlement and took the opening, thrusting forward with the weapon, attempting to impale his target. Spinning aside, the Rodian used his momentum to slash horizontally at his opponent’s midriff, cutting deep into his chest.
Koryn surveyed the scene: the two Jedi had finished cleaning up their assailants, while Shadow was ending the life of the last soldier of this squad. The soldiers hadn’t served as great resistance; they were probably recon units sent in as fodder to detail the group’s weaknesses, which meant more were on their way soon. Kneeling down beside one of the corpses, the Priest studied the insignia emblazoned on the chest of each soldier.
“Does anyone recognise this?” He asked, his finger tapping the chest of the soldier to draw attention to it.
“Ailon Nova Guard,” replied Shadow. “They’re one of the most elite and fiercest mercenary companies in the galaxy. That sword they attacked you with I believe is an Eklot.” She summoned the sword to her hand. Testing its weight, she spun it in an extravagant series of loops. “The blade is treated with a neurotoxin – very dangerous... I think I’ll hold on to it.” With a smile she sheathed it on her belt.
“Evant, are you in their system yet?” queried the Rodian. The Tetrarch was silent for a moment as he typed rapidly.
“Done. I’ve managed to shut off some of the security systems blocking us from reaching the bridge, but there are three more terminals, all isolated from each other.”He explained, talking quickly while continuing to type. “Also, I think I’ve managed to change most of the turrets targeting priorities on this level. I’ll need another terminal in order to do the same with the droids though, and that will likely take more time. Hand me that datapad; I’ll download the schematics for this level.” Koryn hesitated, still deciding whether to share the information delivered by the Shadow Hand and the Herald’s Praetor. After a moment he withdrew it from his pocket and handed it over. Evant cast his eyes across the message, as he downloaded the relevant files and returned it to the Priest. “Sith’s Blood, is that true?” Koryn shook his head slowly as he looked around at the rest of the group.
“I don’t know... Probably,” All looked at him quizzically, each silently asking the same question. “We have been deceived; there are traitors assisting this mission.” A figure stepped towards them accompanied by the soft thrum of his red lightsaber. Behind him, another Sith Warrior emerged from a door along with his Apprentice.
“You know who has betrayed you, Rodian,” hissed the Sith as he brushed a loose strand of white hair away from his face. His slim build directly contrasted that of the muscular behemoth of a Sith who had just joined him. The behemoth drew a saberstaff from his belt, activating both blades with a flourish. Beside him, his apprentice shuffled nervously as he gripped the hilt of his weapon. “It is those of the Light you call ‘allies’. Join us and we will wipe them out together; resist and you will share their fate.” As one, five lightsabers ignited in response.
Once again, Koryn’s mind turned back towards the encoded message. Could there really be a traitor in their group? While the datapad didn’t specify the details, the shadow of doubt had occurred more than once in the Rodian’s mind. Even so, he knew better than to trust the advice of one aligned with Zoraan’s forces. For now, he was willing to take that risk.
“That may be so, but I would rather be more inclined to take that risk, than fall victim to the words of one who has aligned himself with a traitor.”
The comment made the Dark Jedi’s blood boil as he harnessed the power of the Dark Side, unleashing a tempest of electricity at the Rodian. Familiar with the ways of the Dark Side, Koryn was easily able to sense the attack, raising his lightsaber to absorb and deflect the deadly blue streams of lightning.
Fully engrossed in the beginnings of a battle, Koryn concentrated on the dull thrum of the lightsabers as he rushed towards them in an effort to escape the confines of the smaller space. The behemoth of a man lunged forwards in an unexpected thrust, catching the Rodian off guard. However, this was quickly batted away by Raiju, who took up a second flank to the side of his target. The behemoth drew deeply on the dark side energies of the Force, focusing primarily on aggression as he sought to find a flaw in his enemies’ defenses. Meanwhile, his apprentice took up arms against Shadow, seeming to favor defensive techniques meant to tire an opponent into revealing a flaw that could be easily exploited.
Morotheri stood a safe distance away as he observed the situation, aiding where his knowledge of the Force would benefit most. Seeing the opportunity, he rushed forwards to meet the apprentice from his unguarded flank, sending a ripple of Force energy towards the legs of his opponent as he did so. Suddenly outmatched and caught off-balance, the apprentice tapped all of his seething rage into one powerful gust of Force energy, sending Shadow flying backwards several meters. He barely raised his crimson blade in time to deflect a thrust aimed for his chest, instead allowing the tip of the Miraluka’s amber blade to graze over his exposed forearm as his skin sizzled and burned on contact. A small furrow ran halfway the length up his forearm as he strained against the pain, nearly passing out from the sheer agony of the experience.
“Shadow, now!” Called the Aedile as a thin blade traced its way horizontally above the apprentice’s shoulders, cleanly slicing its way through sinew and bone as the Eklot decapitated its target. A fountain of blood occupied the space where the head had once been, as it rolled onto the floor with a sickening 'thud'. The behemoth roared in anger of his fallen apprentice as he lashed forward, unleashing an unrelenting flurry of attacks directed at the Rodian before following up with a powerful force-augmented kick towards Koryn’s head, resulting in the rodian being send back several meters before meeting with the cold, hard floor.
“I’m in!” Evant Shouted from around the corner of a nearby interrogation room. He tapped frantically at the console in front of him as the pained groans of the head interrogator informed him of the inquisitor's attempted escape as he crawled towards the exit with his one good arm. Grinning to himself, Evant allowed himself a brief moment to put the man out of his misery with his own blaster, tossing it aside leisurely as he continued his work. His mouth gaping open in surprise, the behemoth had little time to react as blaster bolts from all directions trained on him as the room’s turret defenses came to life, easily blasting their way through his defenses. One shot caught him in the abdomen as he toppled onto his knees; his body sliced from shoulder to hip by Raiju's amber blade before it hit the ground.
“Bit excessive, don’t you think?” Remarked Shadow as she deactivated her lightsaber. Holding a hand up to his face to stop the bleeding, the Rodian regained his balance as he made his way back to his feet, with the aid of Evant.
Shortly afterwards, the five Jedi were nearly deafened from the piercing cries of a stage four alarm. Across the room, a heavy door was sent flying inwards from the deck’s laboratory, landing on the durasteel floor in a crumpled heap of steel.
“I thought you had dealt with the security systems!” Called Raiju, already having re-activated the amber blade of his lightsaber and taken up a defensive position in front of the Miraluka. A black-clad Umbaran greeted them all with a blast of Force energy as she crossed the threshold, hurling them in all directions. A modified S Cr-114 maintenance droid followed the figure in as the real battle began.
Surprised by the impact of the force, Shadow had hit the wall hard enough to nearly daze her. Knowing she had no time for a slow recovery, she pushed herself up unto her feet and found the others already standing and prepared to fight.
I must look like a foolish weakling to them. She thought looking at how the others were fully ready while she was still trying to recover from the shock. Damn, I bet the stupid Jedi are laughing at me too.
Koryn and Raiju quickly met the Umbaran and Evant and the other Jedi quickly went for the maintenance droid. Shadow quickly joined in the fray against the Umbaran, looking for an opening where she could at least try to wound, if not kill, their adversary. She instantly felt some annoyance coming from Raiju as she tried to parry the Umbaran’s blows, which nearly distracted her. Barely able to block the oncoming blow she quickly dodged and accidentally bumped into the Jedi.
“Watch it, sith!” He yelled with a scowl on his face.
I really hate that Jedi. She thought as she watched him slash at their foe. I wouldn’t mind if he died, but life’s not that fair.
She returned to the fight, only this time doing her best to stay out of the Jedi’s way. As much as she wanted to kill him, she knew she probably wouldn’t stand a chance and also reminded herself that the mission was more important, not her hate. However, the idea of hating him seemed to inspire her morale. She pictured the Umbaran as the Jedi and thus she was more determined than ever to kill her foe.
Her swings became faster and more precise, but all effort seemed to disappear when her saber somehow got knocked from her hands. She pulled out her newest addition to her armory, the Eklot, and her hidden dagger. She caught sight of the Jedi snickering at her, and her rage began to take over. She wasn’t about to let herself be Raiju’s entertainment.
I’ll give him a reason to respect me, and I’ll prove that I am just as good as him and everyone else.
Continuing to attack with her allies, she sensed the Umbaran begin to tire out. If they timed everything right, the battle could end in minutes. Such timing meant cooperating with the Jedi and putting her hatred aside. That was just a sacrifice she’d have to take.
Morotheri cautiously approached the SCr-114 maintenance droid known as Revlo, his amber blade in a defensive grip as he moved in. The Miraluka Aedile was undeceived by the harmless facade covering the weaponry and hidden talents of the droid, sensing it only through the Force. On his right flank Evant did the same, trying to sense the droids response to their assault.
As they closed in blaster fire headed their way, immediately deflected by the two Jedi. As the blasts continued, the unlikely allies worked together against their foe. While the Jedi broke left, the Dark Jedi broke right, giving the sole droid two fronts to attack on and splitting the blaster fire. Sensing an opening, Evant pressed for the offensive first, closing quickly on Revlo. As the human reached striking distance of the droid it engaged a cutting torch.
The flames shot out in a brilliant blue and white with intense heat capable of burning through thick metal. Fortunately for Evant, the torch was not directly applied, and his robes were still soaked from the fire suppression system earlier. He rolled quickly to the right and out of the heat, extinguishing the embers. As he regained his footing, he quickly reignited his lightsaber to deflect more blaster fire heading his direction.
To the other side of the droid, Morotheri was getting more precise now in his deflections under less duress, now sending a flurry of blasts back at the droid. The hits struck in various points on the armor, scoring it but still not inflicting any lasting damage. The two locked in a stalemate with the droid for a moment, neither side pressing for the offensive.
Frustrated with the stalemate, Evant sought out an advantage and began to sidestep. Both he and Morotheri, still deflecting blaster bolts occasionally landed a shot back on the droid but still not inflicting any serious damage. As the Dark Jedi Knight reached out with the Force and pulled in one of the lightsabers from the fallen Sith, immediately igniting and hurling the spinning blade towards the droid.
As the crimson blade created brilliant arches in the air, Evant’s own blade rapidly swung around to connect with an incoming blaster bolt destined for his face. The swing came around to a controlled point before adjusting hi grip and rotating left to deflect another blast heading for his abdomen.
The airborne blade smashed recklessly into the maintenance droid. It cut deep into one of the blaster’s power packs causing it to overload and blow charring the arm it was attached to. After deflecting off the blaster the lightsaber spun around again and bounced off a sensor array sending a flurry of sparks flying before hitting the ground and deactivating.
As the incoming fire ceased and the last blaster bolt was deflected harmlessly into the bulkhead, Evant moved in for the kill. However, as he went to take his first step he felt his entire body push back against his momentum. He recognized the impending powerful attack through the Force, his mind for a brief moment caught up in the sheer power of it, and what possible futile attempts could be made to stop it.
A brief moment later the Dark Jedi Knight found himself upended and moving uncontrollably across the room, contorting his body with what little control he did have as he crashed – left shoulder first – into a security console. He fought back against the pain controlling it, focusing intently on his lightsaber still gripped tightly in his hand as he rolled over to check on his team still heavily engaged in combat with Novae and her crippled droid Revlo.
With a flick of her wrist, Novae demonstrated her mastery of the Force, sending the other four Jedi cascading away from her. Evant was already back on his feet, swiftly followed by Raiju. The Nautolan rushed the Adept with an impressive display of Shii-Cho; his strikes were smooth and precise but were parried aside as Novae mixed the First Form with Makashi. Assaulting the woman’s flank, Evant’s violet blade swept in with tight, efficient arcs but was countered all the same. The Umbaran kicked out at the Krath, throwing him off-balance for a moment. It was all the time she needed to launch into a series of devastating Vapaad strikes crashed violently against the amber blade as Raiju was pushed back.
Evant swivelled on his heel as he sensed an impending assault by the droid. His blade gracefully cut a path through the air as he deflected the bolts from the one remaining heavy blaster. Closing the distance between them, the Knight deflected a series of bolts back at the droid’s torso, charring the armour but causing no lasting damage. Once in range he struck quick and true, severing Revlo’s wrist and rendering the metal man defenceless. With a thrust of his lightsaber, Evant cut into the droid’s body. A deep orange washed outwards as the intense heat melted the metalwork. Pulling his weapon free, wiring and circuitry sparked as it tried desperately to find a connection; to find some way to keep the shell moving, to no avail.
Seeing the danger Raiju was in, Koryn pulled himself to his feet and leapt through the air, intercepting an attack aimed at the Odanite’s neck in the process. Without skipping a beat, Novae slammed the Rodian into the ground with the Force and continued her assault against Raiju. Thraagus heard a loud snap as he landed painfully. Breathing was difficult and he took a moment to gather his senses as Morotheri came to the Prelate’s aid, followed begrudgingly by Shadow, the Eklot swinging dangerously close to the Elder’s midriff. The Sith Huntress’ thoughts were clear: leave him to his fate. If they had not been thrown together by the will of the Iron Throne, Koryn may have been inclined to agree with her. Spitting blood onto the grey floor, the Krath attempted to move and was met with intense pain: he had been left with a broken rib. Focusing his mind, he willed the bone to meld together. The process was more than uncomfortable, but at least he would be able to rejoin the fight.
As much as he hated to admit it, Koryn had to admire the Umbaran. Her mastery of the Force was matched by scarce few he had met before, and her lightsaber skills were nothing to be laughed at. Lashing out with both her blade and the Force simultaneously made her a dangerous foe not to be underestimated. As he watched the battle play out as he recovered, the Rodian attempted to ascertain a weakness that could be exploited. With her mind focused to near-perfection, she had completed control of the combat. Her flanks seemed impervious as she simply threw any who got close away or struck out telekinetically.
As Morotheri locked lightsabers with Novae, the Umbaran found herself physically overpowered, and out of sheer desperation grabbed for a dagger on her belt. Slashing out with the small blade, the Miraluka disengaged from the lock, backpedalling away. The metal had a strange hue to it: a faint yellow colouring could just be made out around the edge of the dagger. Obviously the blade had been treated with some form of poison. What the nature of the venom was would be impossible to say without scientific analysis, something they didn’t exactly have the liberty of in their situation.
Finally, the Priest rose to his feet, taking a few cautious paces as he ensured there was no more damage to his body. As Koryn approached, a wave of energy shot outwards, with the epicentre focused on the Elder. The Rollmaster’s comrades were tossed away like ragdolls as Novae’s attention focused on the Palatinaean. She launched a flurry of strikes with both her lightsaber and dagger as Koryn fell into a Makashi stance. Pushed back, his foot collided with something metallic. Glancing down, he called it to his free hand with a determined gleam in his eye. Activating Shadow’s armoury lightsaber, he pressed the attack. His off hand attacks may have been somewhat slow and imprecise, but they certainly added another element to the duel for the Umbaran to consider. Raiju once more returned to the battle, following Koryn’s lead and taking up the lightsaber of one of the fallen Sith. The others were also moving to reengage, but there were other matters that needed to be taken care of too.
“Evant, you need to get to the other security terminals on this level,” said the Rodian through gritted teeth as he parried a barrage of strikes. “Take the datapad. Raiju and I will hold her off. Morotheri, Shadow, go with him.” A vicious cross slash made Novae retreat a few feet, allowing the Krath time to turn away. “Shadow, your lightsaber!” he called as he hurled the deactivated hilt through the air and pulled the other fallen Apprentice’s lightsaber to his grasp. Calling her weapon to her, Shadow turned and left, leaving the three alone to finish the fight. Koryn and Raiju began to circle their opponent, none making an attack, all focusing their minds. A snarl escaped the Nautolan’s lips as he hissed a challenge.
“Let’s dance, Sithspawn.”
The blatant whirr of the alarms were deafening as the trio approached the source of the commotion, their lightsabers drawn in anticipation as they rounded the corner towards the nearest security console. Blackness swallowed the room whole as additional security protocols engaged, leaving only a sickly red glow radiating from emergency lighting systems lined across the floor. Morotheri gripped the polished of his lightsaber securely, his fingers biting down on the cold steel as a precaution as he advanced further into the room, using only the Force to sense any nearby hostiles as the vision of his comrades succumbed to the darkness that enveloped them.
A blaster roared from across the room, sending tight grouping of shots raining down on the three Jedi as they quickly batted them away without hesitation. Knowing that their position had been compromised by the origin of the shots, the small squad of Ailon Nova Guardsmen relocated to their right as they lined up their second barrage. Before they could properly co-ordinate their assault, the front most Guardsmen was pulled directly into the awaiting blade of Evant as his body slumped over Evant's shoulder, impaled by the violet blade. The Ailon Nova Guardsmen retaliated, firing wildly at the Dark Jedi as their shots were stopped short, hitting the body instead of their intended target.
Morotheri responded by launching a counter-offensive, hurling the body with the Force towards the cluster of Ailon Nova Guard as they struggled to get away in time, resulting in one being crushed between the body of his fallen comrade and the sturdy bulkhead behind him. Evant quickly jumped into the fray, letting the lightsaber glide from his hand as it whirled around its axis in a deadly amethyst arc, decapitating one unlucky soldier who failed to respond in time. Shadow took the queue as she leapt in, trailing a crimson arc behind her as she sliced the next soldier cleanly in halves. The two remaining Ailon Nova Guardsmen drew their Eklots, tossing their blasters aside as they brought the deadly venom-tipped weapons up in defensive postures, easily switching between aggressive stances as they descended upon Shadow, desperate to avenge their fallen comrades.
Grinning to herself, Shadow brought her lightsaber up high in preparation for an attack meant to hold her opponent at bay. However, she had underestimated the skill of the Guardsmen as the nearest Guardsman took an unexpected step forwards directly into the line of attack, taking hold of the Jedi’s arm and pulling hard, wrenching it in one direction as Shadow’s hand opened instinctively so that the lightsaber fell harmlessly onto the ground, the blade extinguished. For a moment, she stared into the transparent visor of her adversary, their eyes locking as she reached for the Eklot.
Unaware of the Jedi’s sudden manouver, the Guardsman was completely surprised as the Eklot was driven through his chest, severing his spine. His comrade stared in in equal amounts of surprise and horror as he faltered for a moment, completely enthralled by the spectacle as he himself fell victim to the Miralukan’s amber blade.
“Great work, Shadow.” Commented Morotheri as he deactivated his lightsaber. “Now let’s get to the terminal, there’s work to be done, and quickly.” He reminded as the trio continued on to their next destination, their path blocked by a small durasteel door. Evant set to work with carving a circular entrance, with the aid of the Aedile. Sparks showered from overhead as they traced a glowing line of molten metal into the door’s surface. Satisfied with the work, Evant summoned the Force to throw the door inwards as they stepped through the threshold.
“Emperor’s bones.” Gasped Shadow from behind as she stared ahead in disbelief. From left to right, the room was stocked full of various weapons and equipment. Everything from E-web blaster emplacements to vibroknives and thermal detonators adorned the various shelves. Most notable perhaps was the small contingent of battledroids in the far corner of the room, deactivated but otherwise battle-worthy. “There’s no time to admire. Help me with this console.” Shouted Evant, as he set to work re-programming various defensive programs and recalibrating the friend-or-foe systems of the droids. Servomotors buzzed to life as the contingent marched single-file out the doors and into the fray.
The uniform clanging of steel sent a piercing ring echoing through the halls. With the cut entrance to the storage room only large enough for a single being to pass through at a time, the annoying clunking of their new “allies” put the Miralukan on edge while attempting to listen to the last mumblings of Evant. His impatience seemed to be swelling against the cage of his Jedi teachings as he briefly wondered if the battledroids would be enough to clear their path and assist Koryn and Raiju.
“There we are.” Evant finally exclaimed, as if the pair would understand what he was doing. Immediately, upon glancing up to notice the Sentinel’s and Sith’s puzzled looks, the Krath caught them up. “The battledroids should distract them enough for us to make it to the last terminal and shut down any last security issues. We can also finish our map there and figure out the best way to get to the bridge.”
“What about the others?” Morotheri’s eye patches shifted as his brow drew forward in concern. “Can you not reroute a few of the battledroids to help them?”
“Our mission was to get to the bridge, if those two can hold off that bitch until we get there; why not use that?” The expression on Evant’s face was as plain and cold as his words as he looked from the Jedi to Shadow for support.
“Because we won’t be able to hold the bridge ourselves, Krath.” Nervousness quickly could become worry, Morotheri found, as he recalled the possibility of traitors. “Certainly a member of your order isn’t as glory hungry as the Sith…”
“What are you suggesting…Jedi?”
“Tell me Jedi!” The words seemed to snarl out of the pale white lips with a heavy croak. “Why would a servant of the light aid the damned?”
“Oh, you know.” The words came out of the Nautolan in a series of huffs, his body struggling to catch enough air. Fatigue was setting in, as if the glistening green skin covered in sweat wasn’t evidence enough, and the Jedi Guardian was having a hard time remaining on his tired feet. “This guy, with skin redder than your evil, little, bloodshot eyes; told me that if I did this favour for him I would get a chance to drive a super star destroyer.”
“I think you mean 'pilot'!” Koryn quipped from the other side of the circle, his interruption drawing a glare from both the Dark Adept and Jedi Guardian. “Seriously, you drive landspeeders. You pilot ships.”
“You know what, Krath.” Raiju’s tone shone with his annoyance as he lowered his lightsaber and put a hand on his hip. “If you are lucky enough to be allowed by me to touch the helm, you can call the action whatever you damn well please. But for now, its drive.”
“Enough!” The word attempted to shake the hallway quiet, and succeeded besides the hums of the combatant’s blades.
Immediately the Adept struck hard at the Jedi Guardian, the collision crackling on contact with the Guardian’s blade. A fluid motion, the blade then swiped and thrust at the Nautolan while his firm hammer grip guided his own blade back and forth in defensive.
It was then that the Adept’s back was turned to the Jedi Guardian, as Novae catch her own assailant’s attacks on her blade and parried away a hard strike from Koryn that drilled heavily into the ground; the contact leaving a bright red spot on the floor. Time and time again the pair of combatants held the circle around the Adept as they attempted to break her defenses but nothing bared fruit. Koryn would gain her attention, and immediately before Raiju could strike the Adept was ready to engage him again. Even when they attacked together, the Adept’s mastery of the force coupled with her lightsaber to beat the pair back. Then Novae went on the attack.
In a flash, the woman’s hand pointed at the Guardian and she clenched it into a fist. Agony burned over the Nautolan immediately dropping him to his knees, across every inch of the fish alien’s body an unseen force radiated pressure. Raiju’s hands felt like they were in a vice, his head felt like a foot was pressing on it, even his chest burned as if a fat girl had passed out on top of him and refused to move; crushing him. When relief came from the Adept’s release, air flooded into the Nautolan’’s lungs around with a deep and heavy gasp drawing it in before he further collapsed to his hands.
When the time came to look up from his bowed position, fear flooded the Nautolan’s mind as his large black eyes blinked for clarity. Yet, the picture before him didn’t change as he now witnessed the other hand of the Adept waving the Priest forward; a slumped tone overtaking the Krath’s expression. A simple whisper from the Adept’s snake-like tongue directed the Priest to take something from her belt and before the Guardian could recover the confused Priest was standing over him.
Held firmly in a raised hand, the poison covered dagger of the Adept’s flickered from the light as it shook in the Priest’s possession. As quick as the Adept’s wrist flicked, so too did the Priest drive the knife down.
Shadow Nighthunter tensed up standing between Evant and Morotheri as the Dark Jedi Krath and Jedi Sentinel stood as statues in an awkward moment of silence working to read each other’s feelings. It was obvious from the tension in the room the unlikely alliance was wearing on both sides. Her own golden eyes dare not take themselves off the Jedi in the room, who had just implied her own order of the Sith as prone to treason. Even if the Miraluka wasn’t a traitor to the Dark Jedi Brotherhood he wasn’t to be trusted. She wasn’t scared of the Jedi, but her hand still found itself at her thigh ready to make a move for her hidden dagger.
The sound of distant blaster fire broke the silence as the battledroids engaged in combat in the corridors outside the armory. Evant took a quick glance down at the security terminal, and casually walked passed Shadow moving face to face with the brother of Odan-Urr and finally broke the silence in a firm tone, “Don’t you ever accuse one of my brothers as traitor. The path Shadow follows will lead to more power than you Jedi will ever wield.”
Morotheri was taken aback by the response, he had spoken rashly but meant only to try and persuade the Krath with reason. He had clearly hit the moral limits of the Dark Jedi Knight as he carefully worded a response, “I serve on this mission with no delusions of grandeur, and I will defend and protect my allies. The path I walk has no need for power. You and your new weapons shouldn’t need me to carry out the last part of your mission.”
As he finished speaking the Jedi Sentinel turned towards the door, igniting his amber blade and rushing out into the corridors with incredible speed to aid Raiju and Koryn, all he could sense was that they still lived. As he moved he pushed back intense feelings of emotion and passion from his recent interaction with the Dark Jedi. Distancing himself from the Dark Jedi more with each step, time and his Jedi teachings allowed him to find the peace and harmony necessary to continue with the mission at hand.
Evant shook his head as he looked away from the door as Morotheri went out of sight and met Shadow’s glance both realizing the need to move on. The two didn’t need to exchange words as they knew what they must do next. The Dark Jedi Knight ignited his own violet blade with Shadow behind him with her Eklot as they entered the corridors and moved quickly towards the final security terminal.
The trip was quick. The battle droids had done a fine job of clearing the path as they rounded the corner at the end of the hallway towards the final security checkpoint, a terminal in a room at the far end of the corridor should allow control of the floor and bring them the information they needed to proceed to their ultimate destination on the bridge of the super star destroyer. They proceeded more cautiously as they sensed danger close to their destination.
The two Dark Jedi moved slowly down the hallway scored with blaster fire along with freshly fallen soldiers and still smoldering droid parts strewn about as they closed in on the heat of the action. The smell of burning flesh and melted metal filled their nostrils and the sounds of explosions and endless blaster fire became louder. They finally reached their destination, their battledroids entrenched in combat at the end of the hall just past the door they needed.
As the two saw their objective they began the rush towards the door. The Krath’s violet blade deflecting blaster fire as he moved aiding the battledroids in their assault as they went. To his left flank Shadow protected herself from blaster fire with her own armory saber moving and contorting her body where necessary to avoid harm to herself. Right as they reached the room a thermal detonator rolled across the floor towards the pair, Evant sensed it before they saw it, grabbing Shadow and pulled her into the room just as it exploded, the intense heat moving passed the pair well protected by the bulkhead now safely inside the room.
“Who doesn’t love a good explosion, you mind watching the door while I finish up here?” Evant spoke casually as he quickly went to work on the terminal plugging in Koryn’s datapad and typing away at the keys.
As the former slicer and Krath took only several minutes to disable the last of the security on the floor and download what he needed, the Sith Jedi Hunter aided the battledroids outside the room in their engagement with additional Ailon Nova Guards. The droids started falling back against the onslaught and losing their hold on the corridor as more and more soldiers showed up with more heavy weaponry. The distinct sound of an e-web heavy repeating blaster filled the hallway changing the tune of the battle.
Shadow turned back into the room and shouted in response to the turn in events, “Evant, I really hope you’re about done because we are out of time.”
Evant had a wicked grin as he finished his last few keystrokes with a flourish and disconnected the datapad, turning away from the terminal and meeting Shadows glance with his own. He didn’t even need to speak as he walked casually away from the terminal as the automated defense turrets outside the room not programmed to assault the floors own battledroids now turned on the Ailon Nova Guards and began to tear apart their ranks. The sound of the e-web went silent as the enemy guards scrambled to re-establish a position. The remaining battledroids took advantage of the situation and quickly recovered ground and pushed their own offensive. The pair of Dark Jedi emerged from the room having got what they came for and headed down the corridor.
The two moved quickly, but more casually, down the scarred battle worn hallway as they made their way away from the combat. They continued further down and quickly were out of sight, Shadow in tow behind the Tetrarch not sure what their current course of action was before he responded to make their course clear, “Not surprisingly the best route to the bridge seems to be close to where the rest of our team is so we should head back and regroup with Koryn, he’s the leader of this operation. I can sense they are still alive, but there is much conflict in their feelings. Something is wrong. The entire concept of a traitor amongst our ranks has ignited fear, but let that fear fuel you Shadow. We will get out of this alive.”
Evant didn’t fancy himself any sort of mentor but he needed his Scholae brothers united against the new threat the Jedi faced to their objectives. He chuckled a bit as they continued on which struck Shadow as a bit sinister in light of their situation as the Krath noticed his actions and spoke up as small box shaped droids began to scurry down the hall passed them, “Oh yes, I noticed the place was a mess, so I activated the cleaning protocols. We’ll need this place looking sharp once we hand the keys over to the Dark Council.”
The blade sank deeply into the flesh of the Nautolan. Buried down to the guard of the knife’s grip, Koryn shoved the weapon firmly into the left side of the Nautolan’s chest; just below the creature’s collar bone and perfectly between the top two ribs. Before the Krath could wrench the knife out; blood dibbled quickly from the wound and began to stain the front of the Jedi Guardian’s shirt, in no time it was completely wet and stained as Koryn heaved the knife out and stood back to take in his work.
“Doesn’t that relieve you?” The words slithered from the mouth of Novae. “You were right to stab him, the light always will attempt to cast out the dark. You would do so much better with me, young one.”
“I didn’t do this because of you.” The words struggled to be said, as Koryn’s mind raced through the fog that had consumed it. “Raken had warned us that there were traitors in our midst, who else but the Jedi? Perhaps they have taken another house’s place, the plague had brought so much chaos. I…I…”
“You did what was needed.” Again the words struck hard from the Adept. “You have been strong enough to turn away the light before now, yet your ‘superiors’ have allowed these heretics to continue. You will not follow their error.”
“No…you are right.” Koryn quickly accepted as he looked from the Nautoan slumped on the ground to the bloodshot eyes of the Adept. “I wanted to use them, but they are too much danger to our mission. Like they would willingly give a Sith lord a ship they helped captured, let alone this ship.”
The snarl that held permanently on the Adept’s lips broke for a split second as it creeped into a brief smirk. Yet both Dark Jedi had their attention drawn to the hacking cough of the Nautolan, whom slumped against the wall and had began to wheeze and stir. Crouching down to examine the Jedi, Koryn peered deep into the black orbs the Nautolan called eyes.
“What happens to him now?” Koryn called over his shoulder.
“The wound itself wouldn’t be enough to kill someone with his stamina, unless allowed to bleed out.” Novae cackled back. “Yet, the paralyzing agent covered on the blade will do just that and more. Caged to that body he will either be unable to stop the bleeding himself or his heart will be stopped by the agent….it's a pity, I’ve never tested it on a Nautolan before and I’m curious how multiple hearts would effect the agent’s delivery…”
However numb the Nautolan currently felt didn’t fog up that information. In a last effort before he had lost his body’s control, the Jedi Guardian’s brows rose in panic; it was then that all feeling was gone. Mountains could have been moved by the screaming the Nautolan bellowed in his head as he demanded his limbs to heed his commands. Yet, nothing happened.
No matter how much he wanted to blink to get even a brief pause from the sight of the dumbfounded Krath staring into his eyes, no relief came to him. Left to sit here and wait for death was painful in itself, but listening to the lies the Adept fed to the Krath to convert him to her cause made the Nautolan almost wish for death. Then the heavy heaving of his chest once again gained their attention.
“Ah…his lungs will be the first to go.” The Adept snickered.
“I’m not going to leave him like this.” Koryn quickly stated, perhaps a clearing in the fog.
In a familiar tone, the Priest was quickly standing over the Jedi again with the dagger raised once more. No doubt the intent was to drive the blade into a more lethal spot, yet immediately it flew from the Priest’s hand. A gasp of surprise and a snarl of annoyance quickly cut out the clank the weapon made as it landed some distance away on the floor.
Curses and exclamations were made, that much Raiju could understand, but immediately the Krath had his lightsaber ignited again and lunged at an unknown target outside of the Nautolan’s view. A haze soon faded the Nautolan’s sight, allowing him to barely note the Adept move to follow the Krath but in a more casual tone. Whatever was happening, Raiju’s only focus was on getting his body clean.
Turning his screaming away from demands on his body, the mental voice of the Nautolan quickly begged for assistance from the universe. Not one to deem the force as a type of God as some Odanites, Raiju had learned to call on it now with respect. No longer did he command it, and bend it to his will; placing his shackles as a dark sider on it. With calm and patience, he beckoned now for its help.
His joy at the warmth he immediately felt could be described nothing short of glee. While the warmth was slow to spread over the Nautolan’s body, sometimes scratching tooth and nail to push back the venom, Raiju soon had his breathing back to a comfortable level as the force detoxed the creature’s body. Yet, when the numbness of the drug receded; pain swelled in the Nautolan’s chest as he once more felt the heat of his wound. Tensing with the pain, the Nautolan was slow to turn his head in the direction of the pair’s flight.
In a blur, the scene soon cleared for the Nautolan’s interpretation and Raiju was able to see who had saved him. Arriving just in time, Morotheri had thrown the knife from the Krath’s hand and now was in a bitter fight for his own survival. Hacking at and parrying with the Priest now, Morotheri then lunged quickly at the Adept whom should back from the fight. Blade crackled in protest as they were smashed together, but immediately the Sentinel was back to hacking at the Priest.
“That’s right.” Choosing to remain back from the fight, the Adept was quick to shout from the sidelines to encourage the Krath. “Strike down this Jedi too, you know you want to…”
Eager to see her puppet strike down another light sider, Novae bounced with every collision the pair of sabers made. Soon her own saber was deactivated, her focus enthralled with the events before her eyes. Yet, while she was so quick to whisper and shout at the Krath; when an amber blade burned clear through her right thigh, the Adept only choked a curse from her lips. Collapsing to the floor beside the prone Nautolan, who had stretched out enough from his position with his blade ignited, Novae’s sudden wail of pain brought an end to the fight.
Puzzled looks were exchanged between the Sentinel and the Priest as both pulled back their weapons. Morotheri was quick to circle the retreating Koryn and hop over the crying Adept, arriving beside Raiju but keeping his blade pointed out towards both the Dark Siders. Long minutes passed as the Miralukan looked over the Jedi Guardian and began to beckon the force to close the Gaurdian's wound. His focus divided between the possible threats and the wound, the attempt took several tries before Morotheri was able to stop the bleeding with a raw, crusty scab. Even with this though, the Guardian was slow to rise and sloppy on his feet as the pair retreat back from the newly arriving pair as Evant and Shadow entered.
"What happened here?" Shadow was the first to form words as she looked from the cut down Novae to the guilty-face Koryn and then to Morotheri with his blade still pointed towards them.
"What I think we all knew was going to happen ever since we touched down in that hangar!" Morotheri shouted from the opposite end of the corridor. "Your dark sided brother stabbed Raiju and was working with that bitch!"
Immediately blades ignited in the hands of Shadow and Evant, and while Shadow was quick to step in forward of the Priest in defense; Evant hesitated examined Koryn's sheepish demeanor.
"I...I didn't want to." Koryn started as Evant now pointed his blade at the Priest and Shadow was placed in the awkward position of drawing back from both. "I don't know what happened."
"What do you mean you don't know?!" Anger boiled in the shouting Evant.
"It wasn't him..." The words were faint, almost a whisper, from the Jedi Guardian as he slumped against Morotheri and was held up by the Sentinel. "It was her...some sort of compulsion."
While disbelief flooded the face of Morotheri as he looked over to the recovering Nautolan, Evant was quick to react to the new information. Blood soaked the floor of the hallway, yet that didn't concern him as he stomped into a puddle of it by the dying Adept. Anger and hatred seemed to consume the Dark Jedi Knight as he thrashed the body of the Adept and demanded to know what she knew about Zoraan, the plague and anything else that sprang into his mind.
Sheepishly, Koryn just watched as Shadow lounged to help the Dark Jedi Knight and the trio that stood at either ends of the corridor were forced to watch in horror as boots, blades and fists attempt draw some sort of information from the disabled woman. Protests were shouted from Morotheri that they couldn't do this, but his words were given pause when Raiju pointed out they weren't capable of taking prisoners at this point. It was at this moment that sense seemed to return to Koryn, who marched forward and parted the pair of Dark Jedi beating the woman. The familiar sound of a lightsaber igniting accompanied the crimson glow that bathed the hallway before the blade's tip was drill through the woman's skull.
"Follow me." Was all Koryn's could manage at this point to the rest of the team as he lead them away from the scene.
The battle worn assault team stood at their final destination on the bridge of the super star destroyer. They hadn’t put much thought to what they might face since the abrupt visit to the high security levels now far below them. Their moment of relief at finally arriving was quickly wiped out by what lay before them. The five stood together and took in the bridge, but while physically together the animosity ran deep as the threat of a traitor and competing ideologies hung in their minds.
They all froze in place as Darth Necar slowly turned to face them, with a deranged smile and crazy absent look to his face. He casually leaned back into the forward bridge windows the nebulous cloud of the Shroud parting for the bridge of the massive super star destroyer adding to the insanity of the situation when it gave perspective and reminder of exactly where they were only a matter of time before it crashed on its current course. To either side below his elevated position down in the crew pits were the bodies of most of the bridge crew torn to parts with blood, flesh and bones all over the terminals and floor. It was only after taking in the visual sight of it all that the stench made its way to their noses.
Beyond the crew pits that looked more like a butcher’s the group could sense movement on either side. As the top half of a human form was bumped from a terminal to their left and onto the floor in a wet thud to the soaked pools of blood below the tusks of a terentatek raised up dripping with blood. The creature raised its massive clawed hand and crushed the terminal using it to rise to its feet. The creature rose to its feet and stretched out only about the size of a human but more closely resembling the build of a rancor as it made its way across the crew pit towards the assembled assaulting Jedi. It was apparent now what had caused all the carnage.
To their right the spine on back of another terentatek nearly identical to the first rose up into view before turning and moving towards them as well. The sounds of their clawed feet on the durasteel floor and the hum of the engines were the only sounds of the eerie scene on the bridge as the heavily robed Sith Lord at the helm turned away from them disinterested to stare back out into the Shroud as he spoke for the first time in a twisted almost comical tone, “I have all the things under control up here, I have no needs at all for additional crews. You are, dismiss…” he paused for a moment before correcting himself responding with a satisfied flourish, “dismembered!”
Koryn held out his arm to hold the team in position as he had a quizzical look on his face looking intently at Darth Necar. He then slowly pulled his arm in close to his chest and winced, his rib still obviously in pain despite his quick attempts to heal it earlier in the assault. Evant watched as his fellow Scholae brother controlled the pain and stepped forward reaching out and holding his fellow Krath’s shoulder coming to the same conclusion he had. They were so worn down and relatively weak in the Force Necar figured them more replacement crew to assist him. That or perhaps he was just as disconnected from reality as intelligence suggested.
Koryn regained composure and addressed the rest of the team in a low voice masked by the clawing movement of the impending terentateks, “If he thinks we’re replacement crew, we best start acting the part,” he looked down at the claw of the creature to the right as it reached up and grasped at the edge of the floor pulling itself up to their level and yelled out, “run!”
The five quickly moved away from the creatures passed the turbolift that brought them and quickly found themselves at a command center. A large table in the middle of the room projected nothing but the super star destroyer itself moving through the Shroud with various colors indicating different alarms in sections all over the ship currently under assault below them. Elsewhere around them were more limbs and bodies of the bridge crew. The smell of death intensified as they all took a defensive stance on the far end of the room and watched as the creatures, fueled by the dark side of the Force, picked up their pace now out of the crew pits and moved across the bridge after them.
The hideous rancor-like monstrosities advanced towards the five Jedi that waited on the other end of the command center. Subject to the horrible experiments inflicted upon them by the psychotic Darth Necar, the creatures’ hides had grown hard and thick to the points of near impenetrability. As they circled around the edges of the room, they seemed to the Miraluka to feast on the Dark Side energies present throughout the carnage. Their claws had mutated into massive barbed hooks, digging into flesh and splitting bone with a sickening ‘crack’ as their made their cautious advance towards the five Jedi, savoring the thrill of the hunt, and the smell of fresh meat.
Shadow carefully backed away behind her fellow Palatinaeans, backpedaling in slow, cautious steps as to not shock the terentateks into outright aggression. Her attempts were ineffective as she took one step too wide, stepping onto the ravaged body of one poor bastard who had been savagely carved into bits, nearly tripping if not for the timely intervention of Evant, who, gripping her by the elbow hauled her back up to her feet. Unfortunately, the recovery forced Shadow to place additional weight on the heel of her boot, cracking what remained of the ribs of the unfortunate crewman. The sound of breaking bones reverberated throughout the command center, slightly muffled by the piles of various body parts scattered along the floor. Instantly, both beasts snapped their attention to the pair, circling around the room as they descended on their prey.
Careful as to not alert the deranged apprentice of Zoraan to the presence of five Jedi, the group was careful to avoid igniting their lightsabers, despite Raiju’s silent protest in fear that they would attract unwanted attention from the oblivious Darth Necar. Instead, the five Jedi brought to bear what little arms they had taken from the armory on the high security level. While Shadow still wielded her Eklot taken from a fallen Ailon Nova guardsman, Morotheri brought to bear dual vibroswords he had managed to liberate from the armory before their departure from the high security level. Meanwhile, Koryn rested the palm of his hands on the two Westar-34 blaster pistols sheathed in their hip holsters, the Rodian’s fingers twitching in anticipation. In addition, Evant reached down to pick up a bloodied E-11 blaster rifle from the floor. He held it with a slight tinge of disgust as lumps of flesh still dangled from underneath the barrel. Lastly, the Nautolan gripped the hilt of one of Dantella Novae's neurotoxin-tipped daggers.
“Let’s dance, sithspawn.” Raiju whispered venomously in a challenge directed at the nearest terentatek. The monstrosity responded viciously, lashing out with its serrated talon-like fingernails in the expectation of easily slaughtering its prey. However, the massive beast underestimated the skill of its quarry as Raiju rolled underneath the gargantuan claws of the creature, thrusting the venomous dagger upwards as it sliced through the creature’s flesh, raining crimson droplets upon him as he recovered from the manouver.
“Evant! I need a distraction!” Called out Shadow Nighthunter from the other corner of the room, as the three Dark Jedi struggled to find a weakness in their own terentatek. A terrible howl echoed through the small space as a series of blaster bolts found their mark. While the shots were largely inaccurate and ineffective, a number of them managed to hit the massive target as he squeezed the trigger for all it was worth. Although unable to burn through the tough hide of the beast, the sting of blasterfire was enough to enrage the terentatek, causing it to rush forwards, pushing aside the two other Dark Jedi. “Run! Evant! Run!” Shouted Shadow as she clambered onto her feet. Seeing that the terentatek was preoccupied, she saw her opening. With supernatural speed, she leapt over the bodies, and directly onto the rigid spined back of the great beast, the blade of the Eklot sinking deep into the soft flesh next to the creature’s chitinous spine, opening a severe wound as the terentatek roared in pain. This, coupled with the wild blaster shots fired from both Evant and Koryn was enough to drive the beast into frenzy.
In desperation, the monstrosity reached behind its back with its dagger-like claws, catching the Dark Jedi around the abdomen and hurling her towards the far corner of the room. The impact was somewhat lessened as she made contact with a body propped up against the wall. The sickening sound of cartiladge breaking as she collided with the body was more than enough to make her grimace. Although momentarily stunned from the shock of having been tossed across the room like a ragdoll, the thought of clinging to the broken and bloodied body any longer than she had to was reason enough to get back to her feet. Disgusted, she eagerly pushed herself back up, and once more into the fray, her Eklot whirling in a flourish as she ran back to support her fellow Dark Jedi.
Meanwhile, the two Acolytes of Odan-Urr attempted a more direct approach, attacking their terentatek on opposite flanks. They moved with precision, acting as one as their minds were melded through the Force. With fluid, graceful strokes, Morotheri adopted an unorthodox stance as he crouched low to the ground, raising the twin blades high over his head to intercept one of the barbed talons of the rancor-like beast. While the Force-fueled beast was currently focused on the Miraluka, Raiju took advantage of the opportunity, scoring a few direct hits to the creature’s less hardened back. Without warning, the creature sweeped its great limbs towards the Nautolan, toppling him over as it turned, seemingly drawn to the other’s plea for help.
“Koryn! Watch out!”
The Rodian turned to see the sight of the great beast lumbering towards him. Switching targets, he began firing at the second terentatek; an emerald bolt found its mark, blinding the rancor-like creature’s left eye. It released a bloodcurdling howl, saliva and flesh dripping from its gaping jaws. Staying in the brute’s newly-created blind spot, Raiju stalked towards the terentatek. The venomous dagger slashed across the beasts, cutting a deep wound and briefly bringing it to its knees. The toxin did little to discourage it, instead making it more determined to reach its prey, even as the two Odanites brought their blades to bear against it. Most strikes did little more than bounce off the chitinous armour, with only a few managing to draw blood.
The creature lashed out, its razor sharp claws glinting in the artificial light of the ship. Koryn ducked below the talon just a fraction too late. The barbs scratched across the Krath’s chest, fortunately not deep enough to cause a serious worry. He was thrown back against the hull of the ship; his entire body ached profusely as a drop of scarlet oozed from the chest wound, staining his robes. Koryn’s hand moved for his lightsaber. He wanted desperately to use it against these abominations, but to do so would be to alert Necar of their true allegiance. With a feat of willpower, he drew his hand away, instead returning to the Westars that had fallen from his grasp. Once more, the beast advanced on the Rodian. He let loose a series of uncharacteristic imprecise shots, hoping to slow the terentatek rather than wound it.
“Damn it, not now,” Koryn muttered to himself as he desperately fumbled to replace the energy cells of his weapons. His eyes darted between the creature and his blasters. The beast roared its annoyance as Morotheri and Raiju continued their assault to no avail. It swatted at them as if shooing a fly. The Miraluka dived forward to dodge the attack and almost colliding with the terentatek. With controlled assistance from the Force, the Jedi struck the leg of the creature with supernatural might. The pommels of his weapons splintered bone, causing it to pierce the flesh. The monstrosity howled as it collapsed to the metallic floor causing a dull clang to reverberate around the room. The other terentatek briefly disengaged its assault on Evant and Shadow as it released a guttural growl of sympathy before redoubling its attack. The beast began flailing around wildly as Morotheri gripped the bone and snapped it in two. Although not perfect, it would be good enough for the job at hand. Standing before the creature, the Odanite held the bone above his head and brought it down in a smooth arc, stabbing through the brute’s throat. Its howl became a gurgle as the blood spurted from the wound, before fading to nothingness. Evant and Shadow were visibly beginning to tire against the remaining terentatek. Its hide seemed thicker than the other, likely a result of considerably more alchemical experiments conducted on the beast. It bellowed a mourning cry as it descended into a berserker-like rage.
Beads of sweat ran down Shadow’s brow, as the Jedi Hunter struggled in frustration to defend herself against the enraged strikes of the terentatek let alone press her own attack. The Sith may as well be engaging the beast on her own as Evant slid around on the bloody floor of the bridge for a replacement to his spent E-11 blaster, and the rest of the team had started to engage but weren’t close enough to offer immediate assistance.
Finally finding another identical version of the standard issue weapon, the Krath sloppily pulled the scoped weapon up and pointed the barrel towards the beast, putting the massive spiked creature into view and resuming his uncontrolled fire. The green blaster bolts still harmlessly scored the thick hide of the creature, now joined by additional emerald bolts from Koryn’s Westar-34 blaster pistols, quick to redirect and offer aid from across the room.
As the two Odanites rushed to offer their aid to the Sith as well, the rancor-like creature began to swing even more wildly as the rage grew. In one powerful thrust of its clawed hand it connected with the Eklot crushing it. Shadow wisely released her grip and slid back away from the creature, now weaponless. As it pulled back its other arm for a powerful swing at the unarmed Jedi Hunter, frustrated with his lack of skills with a blaster, Evant leapt to his feet and threw his weapon across the room. With guidance from the Force the weapon crashed hard into the tusked head of the creature.
The gesture had its intended effect, as the Dark Jedi Knight took a step back and braced himself against the wall. Uncertain if it was the Force fueled momentum that caught the creatures enraged attention, or simply displeasure at being hit in the head, the tarentatek turned in his direction and let out an incredible cry exposing its impressive rows of sharp bloody teeth. The massive creatures clawed feet dug into the ground as it pushed its spiked, horned mass towards the source of the irritation. The small framed human didn’t have as much luck as his boots slipped on the bloody floor, catching himself on the wall before finally finding momentum and moving back towards the front of the bridge.
As Evant began to run towards the front of the bridge, he could hear the clawed feet of the tarentatek moving behind him. Continuing his run he looked up and caught the silhouette of Darth Necar staring mindlessly into the Shroud. The Dark Jedi’s mind raced as he began to slow, taking in the whole situation, caught between the insane apprentice to a Grand Master and a dark side fueled abomination of a creature hurling itself at him.
Looking back over his shoulder at the creature none of his team was nearby. The Krath took the only option left available to him, redirected all his momentum and rushed towards the turbo-lift that took his entire team to the bridge. The rest of the assault team watched as the creature followed hurling into the lift after him.
As the two Odanites and Koryn approached the turbo-lift, Shadow drew upon the Force to give her strength. The terentatek had nearly worn her out, and had it not been for Evant’s distraction, it might have been the end of her.
“I wonder if he made it,” Raiju said leaning next to the lift, looking casual.
“Of course he did,” Shadow said. “Don’t you even think about doubting that, Jedi.”
Sensing tension, Koryn stepped in between them. He had been noticing Shadow’s discontent for the Jedi growing as they had progressed on with their mission. If not controlled, there just might be one less member to their group. Koryn couldn’t help but to feel the same way about the Jedi, but he couldn’t let differences get in between him and the mission.
“It’s okay Shadow. Raiju knows better than to doubt or even underestimate someone like Evant. Am I right, Raiju?”
As the Guardian nodded and the tension slowly began to subside between him and the Huntress, Koryn turned his attention back to the matter at hand. If Evant’s last minute plan had gone the way Koryn had hoped, then that meant Darth Necar was their next objective.
Reminding himself how powerful their enemy was, a tinge of worry began to nag at Koryn’s mind. They would all have to work together to bring Necar down, but that may not happen if a certain Huntress let her hate get in the way.
Debating whether or not to bring the issue up with the Sith, a sudden noise from the lift caught his attention. Turning around, he found Evant standing at the opening in one piece. The smile on his face told Koryn that his fellow Krath had accomplished what he had hoped.
“The creature?” he asked gesturing towards the lift.
“Captured,” Evant replied
“Good, now time to move on to our next objective.”
As they began to make their way towards Necar, Shadow made her way towards Evant.
“I’m not much for thanking people, Evant, “she said walking beside him. “But thanks, I might not have made it if it wasn’t for you.”
Evant smiled. “You have much to learn, yet. But, who knows? You might save me one of these days.”
The two caught up to the rest of the group, which was already observing Darth Necar continue staring into the Shroud. Shadow was awed by his madness and the power radiating from him through the Force. Fighting him head on would be dangerous, she knew that much. However, she was eager to test her skills against him. She reminded herself that Necar was a grand master level Sith, and decided that suicide wasn’t worth finding out how strong she was against him.
“So, gents, what’s the plan?” she asked, already making sure her armory lightsaber was where it was supposed to be along with her dagger.
“I may have a plan,” Koryn said half smiling.
Exactly what I wanted to hear. Shadow thought. Time to get this over with.
Patience. The Nautolan had to force himself to think as he listened to the Krath’s plan with the moments ticking past the strike team at what felt like an hourly pace. Now is not the time to be impulsive and drastic.
“It’s at that point we strike and pray-”
“Pray?!” Raiju’s brow deepened as he shot the Priest a look of complete disgust. “Are you fracken kidding me?”
Good work, asshole. The thought jumped into the Nautolan’s mind before anyone else could react to his objection. Immediately the interrupted Krath and his pair of brethren glared at the Jedi Guardian while a nervous Morotheri shook his head in disappointment.
“You want to take on the apprentice of a former Grandmaster, who has gone mad over the loss of his master, and you want to bank on a prayer?” Raiju said and was quick to uncross his arms before stepping away from the wall. A brief pause from the Jedi Guardian allowed him to rotate his left arm while his fist clenched the still fragile wound; there was only so much the force could heal on the fly so he had to rely on it to control his body’s pain. “Given that your cult of worshippers idolizes Sidious, you would think the three of you would understand the importance of proper planning and flexibility; not living on prayers.”
“And I would think a Jedi would understand how costly arrogance could be given your knowledge of the Emperor...” The bitter response was quickly delivered by the lips of the Jedi Hunter whom had pushed herself past the shoulders of the other Dark Jedi to stand defiantly before the Nautolan. “And it's not like you didn’t already experience our bite.”
“Your emotions are much too free and simple, child.” Raiju was quick to snap back before tensing up and making a snarling face in mockery. “‘Grrr....I’m a Dark Jedi, I feel nothing but power and hate. Grrr...’ I get it; you have daddy issues and rather than working them out with the navy boys on leave, you have turned his rejection into a tool for yourself - but it’s not too late to turn back and start playing with other people’s tools...”
The crimson blade that immediately snapped to life did a great job painting the room in a glow that best described the mood of the command center. Battle worn, tired, and mistrusting of each other, it was clear the strike team had finally pulled away at the fragile ties that had brought them this far. Not even the protests on both sides from the more level headed minds of Morotheri and Koryn could stop the confrontation.
Flashes of light shone over the surrounding walls as the woman’s blade batted at the strong stance of an amber blade that hissed its presence. Held in a firm, hammer like grip in his green skinned hands, Raiju’s weapon immediately countered the Jedi Hunter’s assault with a quick darting fury of swipes. Raining on the woman from each side, the group quickly cleared from the danger of the Nautolan’s attack while the commands and pleas of the Priest and Sentinel were drowned by the weapons’ own protest. In quick time the furious assault had driven the Jedi Hunter back into a corner of the room, yet not before the entry of the violet blade of Evant into the fray.
Facing two fronts, the Nautolan’s strategy quickly changed to the defensive. While Raiju would have preferred to use his strength to shrug off assaults on his guard, his wound screamed on his first attempt and he found himself relying on his speed to parry and dodge the other combatant’s weapons. Batting away one blade before twirling out of way of another, the fight transformed into a dance displaying the soaring flight of the amber blade and nimble footwork of the Nautolan. Yet, Morotheri appeared to have no desire to see his last ally cut down.
Doubling the amber blades, Morotheri’s leap into the battle hammered Shadow to the ground when a well-placed parry left the woman open to a strong foot being planted into her gut. The woman’s cries were enough to shake the fifth blade into action, thrusting dangerously close to the Miralukan’s torso after a quick deflection before Koryn and Morotheri started to circle one another. Then a gasp of pain vented from the lips of Evant across the room accompanying his collapse to the ground following a hard telekinetic blow delivered from Raiju. With two Dark Jedi reeling in pain on the ground and the third hesitant to attack, it was the sudden maddening laughter that filled the room that made everyone’s hair stand on edge.
“Are you all really the filth that Ashen has sent to strike down me?” The question boomed with laughter from the command deck as the sound of cold, hard steps announced Darth Necar’s approach.
"Come forward," beckoned the voice in the teams' heads. "Let me look upon the faces of my assassins." Refusing to lower his weapon against the Jedi, Koryn motioned for them to step forward as he pulled Evant and Shadow to their feet, a new plan forming in his head. The Dark Jedi approached the bridge behind the Odanites. "Lower your weapons; you've already lost," ordered the Sith Lord.
"My Lord, we mean you no harm," announced the Rodian, drawing a fleeting look from Evant as he soon comprehended his comrade's intentions. The pair understood each other well enough that words were unnecessary when it came to the art of deception. "We have brought before you these Jedi as a peace offering, and submit to your teachings." Koryn bowed low, dropping to his knee, followed closely by Evant and Shadow, a wide grin spread across her face; the Jedi would finally realise her superiority over them. Raiju turned to face the traitor, his face the vision of pure ire. Glancing up at the Nautolan, Koryn shot him a look as if to say ‘trust me’. Whether he saw the expression and played along with the ruse, or he truly believed the Palatinaeans were handing them over was unclear as Raiju’s knee collided with the Krath’s face. Thraagus was thrown backwards, scarlet streaming from his nose and further staining the front of his robes.
“You bastard!” roared the Jedi as he lunged for the Priest, briefly forgetting the injury to his chest. Evant’s timely pull on the puppet strings of the Force sent the Prelate hurtling backwards. “Why do this? What purpose is there to sell out the Brotherhood like this?” Sitting up, Koryn wiped the blood away from his face with his sleeve, leaving a red smear across his cheek.
“Power, glory, knowledge, take your pick,” the Rodian said with a shrug. “You knew who my Master was, right? Maybe she passed on her ideologies to me.” Necar began to laugh maniacally at the exchange.
“Very entertaining. This has been a very entertaining... distraction.” The Sith Lord pointed at Raiju. “You are curious for a Jedi. So brash; so full of spirit.” His hand moved through the air towards Morotheri, who had not moved an inch throughout the commotion. “And you are his opposite; a stereotype for the Jedi Order. Believing you can achieve perfection in meditation and passiveness. You are wrong. Your Order is wrong. Your Brotherhood is wrong. This nebula is wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong-” Turning away from the broken team, his cloak billowing as he walked, he gazed out of the forward viewport into the darkness of the Shroud and began muttering a string of nonsensical gibberish to himself as his psychosis grew stronger. Few clear words could be made out, but a single phrase caught Evant’s attention.
“My Lord, you mean to destroy the Avenger?” The Miraluka was broken from his meditation at the Krath’s words. This he had already sensed, but the why of it the Force could not answer; either the Sith Lord’s mind had been honed to perfection, or even he did not know the reasons behind his actions. “We could pilot this to New Tython and begin our destruction of both the Jedi and the Brotherhood in one swoop.” Necar turned on his heel, drawing his sword as he did; his features were contorted into a scowl. He began swinging his war blade wildly, seemingly striking at something the others could not see.
“Get them away!” He screamed, as the blade hacked into a control panel. Sparks sputtered from the crack highlighting the Sith Lord’s features and making him look even more menacing. As quickly as the hallucinations overtook him, they disappeared and he stood still as if contemplating. “Yes. Yes yes yes. No! Questions, suggestions, decisions, implications. To war! But how? Crew is dead; no match for my perfection. No, better to destroy evidence.” Rather unnervingly, Necar’s thoughts suddenly became more coherent. He pointed his blade towards Shadow; both Koryn and Evant tensed up, fearing the worst and preparing to move to defend her. “Step forward, my dear.” Shadow did as she was asked and Zoraan’s Apprentice lowered his weapon. “I can sense the ambition in you; the unbridled hate, anger, resentment. Your training is incomplete, but I shall remedy that.” Cautiously, the Huntress moved to his side, her hand hovering close to the hilt of her lightsaber. “We don’t have much time, soon we will be free of the Shroud, at which point the ship will be on a direct collision course with the nearest asteroid field. My Apprentices, we will enter a higher plane of existence through my actions. We shall be beyond the will of the Force; we shall become gods!”
A chill shook the Miraluka to the bone, how long would it be before the ship reached its destination, only to bring destruction to the great vessel they now stood on, surely the rest realized the inevitable destruction that would cost them their lives? Tossing one of his vibroswords aside, Morotheri grasped the handle of his lightsaber with one hand, the other gripping the hilt of his remaining vibrosword. Raiju stepped beside him, his teeth clenched in both anticipation and anger. “Let go of your hatred. Don’t let it fuel your enemies.” Whispered the Miraluka to his one remaining friend and ally. Relaxing his posture, the Nautolan settled into the more defensive Soresu form, drawing a deep breath before the real fight began.
“Prove your allegiance to me. Kill them both, achieve perfection!” Shouted the insane Dark Jedi in a commanding voice. Grinning, Shadow stepped forward, whirling her lightsaber in a flourish before bringing it back up, eager for the assault. On either side of her, Koryn and Evant closed in around the Jedi, closing off any foolish notions of escape they might have; not that there was any hope of escaping the Avenger before it reached its final destination. As one, the three Dark Jedi surged forwards, Darth Necar shouting his enthusiasm at them as lightsabers clashed frantically.
Evant was forced on the defensive as he parried a blow from Morotheri’s amber blade, only to narrowly dodge the steel vibrosword that came after. Meanwhile, Raiju battled away at the remaining two, concentrating his defense against Koryn, while lashing out at the less experienced Shadow when the opportunity presented itself. The two fought back-to-back in perfect unity, their minds once again melded through the Force, somewhat exhausting the mind of the Miraluka. “Good, good. No! Wrong! Captain goes down with his ship, crew is dead. Wrong!” Rambled Darth Necar, as he descended into insanity once again, plagued by his illusions. The last word, amplified through the Force was enough to startle the five Jedi.
Caught off guard by the insane Jedi’s boisterous ramblings, the five Jedi momentarily paused, the sudden lapse giving Raiju the opening he was looking for. With a swift kick to the abdomen, Shadow Nighthunter was sent stumbling backwards as the hilt of her lightsaber fell from her grasp. In an attempt to eliminate one of the traitors with one fell strike, the Nautolan swooped forwards, breaking into a full sprint with the amber blade of his lightsaber held high, casting an orange glow over the face of the huntress as he slashed his blade down.
“Raiju!” Shouted Morotheri from the center of the bridge, who was currently struggling for his life as the blades of both Evant and Koryn approached him. Letting forth a terrible screech of laughter, the unpredictable apprentice of Zoraan lashed out with the Force, stopping Raiju in his tracks as he held in place, momentarily paralyzed by the mad Jedi’s power. “Enough!” He shouted, as the remaining four Jedi disengaged from one another. Beckoning to the Force, Darth Necar summoned the extinguished hilt of Shadow’s lightsaber to his hand. Revelling in the crimson glow, he flourished it for a moment as he spoke before returning it to his new found apprentice.
“Has Ashen really stooped this low as to send you two to face me? I had expected someone more… worthy of my presence. And what of my pets, hmm? You insult me!” He shouted, his madness further fuelling his hatred as he took several threatening strides towards the Jedi while his new found ‘allies’ parted, clearing the way for him to carry out his judgement on the two interlopers. Shifting his gaze from one to the other, the maddened Jedi finally locked his attention on Raiju, who had only just recovered from the Force stasis.
“Raiju! Run!” Shouted Morotheri, sensing that the battle with the three Dark Jedi may have aggravated his earlier injury. Raiju didn’t need to be told twice. Calling upon the Force, the Nautolan burst forward, struggling to get away as Darth Necar paused in the center of the room in uncontrolled laughter. With his rage focused against the Nautolan, the insane apprentice of Zoraan outstretched the palms of his hands towards his target, releasing a crackling energy in the form of purple bolts of lightning. Realizing the futility of running, Raiju held his ground, his lightsaber raised to deflect the worst of the assault. However, the sheer power was enough to knock him from his feet, hurling him back several meters and out of Necar’s line of sight.
While the battle took place, and with the Dark Jedi’s attention focused elsewhere, Evant set to work with finding the defense station’s console that would allow him access to the Super Star Destroyer’s shields. Tinkering with the machines, he could hear the fighting going on outside with Darth Necar’s customary cackle. “Kriff it!” He shouted, hitting the control boards in realization of the console’s lack of power. Activating his lightsaber, he began the task of making careful incisions into the panel in front of the console. One false move and he could completely sever all hope of ever salvaging this vessel. Once that was off, he set to work with restoring it’s power, attempting to make sense of the clumps of cables and wires. He needed to work fast, before he caught the attention of Darth Necar.
Evant struggled with the wires in the face of the situation, desperately trying to clear his mind as he could begin to hear the first of the collisions between the asteroids and the ship. The super star destroyer hurled now unguided through the Shroud at their distraction of its crazed pilot. Survival now was all that drove the Krath as his nimble fingers reached out and pulled at the exposed wires twisting them together to reroute power to the console display. There was loud commotion around the corner out of his view as the rest of his team still distracted the insane Sith Lord.
The former slicer struggled to push it out of his mind, wiping sweat from his brow as he slid around to the back of the console to finish his handy work. His bright blue eyes squinted against the dim lighting behind the console into the large gash that cut off the main power, almost certainly done by the massive sharp claws of the terentatek that had roamed the bridge earlier. He reached in to pull away the thin metal frame and expose the circuitry when violent muscle contractions began to trigger throughout the humans entire body.
The electrical shock caused his body to twist and contort and threw him back into the wall behind the console before finally coming to a rest. The Dark Jedi Knight felt a sharp abdominal pain, looking down at the black burned flesh of his left hand that had connected his body to the large shock. He gave his body a moment fighting the pain with the Force to continue on. Unable to move for the moment he tried to sense others in the ship hoping they might arrive to support him, before his mind began to let itself pick up on the commotion just around the corner.
Darth Necar turned his focus now on Morotheri, Koryn backing slowly away as the mad alchemist closed the distance. The Jedi’s body calm and relaxed, but distracted in concern for Raiju and in pain at the betrayal by those he protected earlier, words escaped him as Necar spoke, his words punctuated by the Force, “How novel, you Jedi, your evaluation of things, it’s insipid, really, yet fanatical, so insecure, this pervasive fear. You have always been too obstinate on the validity of your Jedi Code.”
Shadow sat and seethed at each rambling word from the lips of Necar, fueling her growing passion before quickly pulling her armory saber from the hands of the Sith Lord and rushing on Morotheri. Obviously drunk on dark power the Jedi Hunter wildly swung and attacked the Jedi Priest with every ounce of her energy. His own amber blade igniting and countered her unbalanced attacks effortlessly, easily moving around in one wide swing hitting the armory blade near the base and destroying the inferior weapon, its blade falling dark as the golden eyes of Shadow Nighthunter gleamed against the Jedi's amber blade finding she was once again defenseless.
Darth Necar laughed maniacally throughout the exchange but fell silent at the destruction of the saber. Shadow hesitated on further unarmed attacks as Morotheri stood on the offensive ready to cut her down, instead deactivating his saber and reattaching it to his hilt before speaking softly, directly at Shadow, “You don’t have to do this, he’s corrupted your mind. Let go of your fears and insecurities, let go of your hate, and help us, please.”
With his plea Darth Necar flew into an even more unstable rage, Koryn took notice of the growing Dark Power in the bridge and slid down into the crew pit to seek refuge to find himself alongside Raiju’s fallen body. The Rodian looked down and met the eyes of the Nautolan fighting for his life at the injuries sustained from the earlier attack by Darth Necar. It was obvious now how powerful he really was, realizing even he had gone too far with his plan, Koryn moved in close to the Odanite and held his cold green skinned hand against the Jedi’s forehead. He could feel the pain and suffering in his body, and as the Dark Jedi closed his eyes the Krath connected with the Jedi's mind and willed him to aid his own healing efforts.
Above him out of sight the air began to crackle more with every word from Darth Necar’s lips, “Please, please please, please?” He stopped on the last word hanging onto it as almost a question to himself before continuing, “Oh the weakness, pathetic, no the Force. I am insulted by all, you mock me. I will be more powerful than your Jedi order, more powerful than your pathetic Dark Jedi Brotherhood, what an inane concept is your brotherhood. Behold, I will ascend to power beyond the veil. The Force will set me free!”
With his last words the Sith Lord unleashed the powerful growing force storm that consumed the entire area. Morotheri moved forward and grabbed Shadow into his arms pulling her down to the ground and rolling with her into the crew pit. The two fell hard the short distance into a console as it erupted in sparks in protest of the electrical charge in the air before finally landing. The Jedi shielded the Jedi Hunter from harm using his saber as a beacon to absorb the dark energy seeping through the air.
On the opposite side Koryn did the same, looking up as the purple bolts moved to every corner of the bridge as Raiju was still defenseless mending his wounds. Below him he could feel the Avenger II almost in protest of the deadly concentration of dark energy as the massive super star destroyer pushed deeper into the Shroud into heavier debris. The Priest reached out to the Force to connect with the mind of his fellow Palatinaean across the bridge working to keep the shields up and offered no words, but simply a sense of support.
Evant moved much more slowly with use of only one hand, suppressing the pain but without enough time for any significant repairs. His charred left hand aided him only as a worthless stump as he carefully restored power to the terminal. The force storm on the bridge that finally erupted in full backed by the insane maniacal laughter of a broken man brought discomfort to the clarity of his mind as the Krath moved quickly around to the display and brought up a full status report on the ship.
His eyes darted around the screen as he reinforced shields transferring power forward as the ship plowed into the asteroids. His one hand pecked at the keys moving power to a sector that just deflected a rock the size of a small moon pushing it aside. He could feel collisions with the massive ship as it moved deeper towards objects even larger than itself, into parts of the Shroud where they would most certainly never survive.
The force storm slowly ended with what Evant could have sworn was a childish giggle as he watched critical status scroll across the screen. The shields had failed on the bridge again, and the terminal now protested any attempt to reinforce them. Something had mechanically gone wrong with the power distribution. Fear of death crossed the Krath’s mind as he sought guidance from the brotherhood on the ship below him. It was all their lives too, their destinies, that would be determined by what happened on the bridge.
Charged with electricity, the ionized particles in the air of the command bridge grew thicker, more frequent and unpredictable as bolts of electricity raced in all directions, threatening to electrocute those who came out of hiding. As unpredictable as the storm he was conjuring, the delirious Alchemist drew one of his lightsabers, whirling it as he brandished a sword of diamond; its intricate faceted design had it reflecting shades of purple as the Force storm still took its toll on nearby consoles. “Witness my ascension! My rise to immortality!” He screamed, as he descended upon the nearest Jedi. Raising his lightsaber in defense, Morotheri defended himself against the first strokes of Necar’s unrelenting barrage. As they locked their blades in protest of one another, their blades sparked, Darth Necar’s seemed to crackle, charged with the same Dark Side energy that fuelled the deadly storm as it died down.
Though it was difficult to anticipate the Dark Jedi’s attacks, unpredictable as he was, the Force gave the Miraluka a clearer vision of what was to come. Eventually, Koryn had sensed the weariness taking a toll once more on the Aedile. Rushing forward, the Rodian held the crimson blade at an angle, clashing with the insane Dath Necar’s own amethyst blade as the Alchemist found himself overwhelmed physically. Launching a series of counter-attacks when he could to keep his enemies at bay, Darth Necar was forced to back away from his prey, backpedalling towards the viewport. “Fools! No one is my equal! I will become a God!”
Steeling himself and drawing frantically on the Force, Darth Necar outstretched his lightsaber, releasing the charge towards Koryn who was not prepared for the sudden retaliation. He screamed in pain as the lightning seared his flesh around the shoulders, the sheer force of it lifting him from his feet and slamming hard into the nearby crew pit. Letting forth his hideous screech of laughter, the insane Jedi continued releasing volleys of devastating attacks towards Morotheri as he tried his best to parry or avoid the onslaught. His lightsaber engaged in a lock, Necar lashed out with the crystalline weapon while Morotheri struggled to raise his vibrosword in desperation. The steel blade was no match for the nearly indestructible properties of Necar’s own sparkling blade, shattering on contact as the crystalline weapon continued to make contact with flesh.
A razor-sharp pain unlike any he had experienced pierced his ribs as the Miraluka’s body stood rigid, paralyzed by the deadly weapon’s effects. The Miralukan's blood dripped from the weapon as the deluded Darth Necar held it over his head in triumph, eager to strike the killing blow. Raiju looked towards his incapacitated comrade, his eyes grown wide while he attempted to run to his friend’s aid, despite his own injuries. Painfully he rose to his feet, limping forwards as a sharp pain shot into his muscles in protest, causing the Nautolan to trip over the cold, bloodied floor.
Witnessing the nearby pandemonium, Evant gained a brief glimpse through the Force seconds before he saw it. Sparing a brief glimpse towards the viewport as he sprinted towards the defenseless Miraluka, he caught sight of a large asteroid carving its destructive path towards the bridge, its shape not unlike that of a boulder. Leaping forwards in a desperate attempt to rescue the Jedi, he caught the Miraluka in his arms as the pair continued on his trajectory through towards the crew pit. His laughter ceasing all at once, the oblivious Darth Necar looked over his shoulder to face his doom. Incredulous, the mad Alchemist’s last words were the utterance of his former master’s name, before the massive boulder smashed through the viewport, killing him instantly. Machines roared to life as the bridge sealed itself off before the atmosphere completely vented out to space, nearly suffocating the five Jedi before the seal was completed, and trapping what remained of the atmosphere in the bridge.
Exhausted, Raiju clambered onto his feet, taking in the scene; bodies littered the bridge, in the center of the room stretching from the viewport back towards the command room a deep furrow of scraped durasteel existed on the ground where the gigantic asteroid had wrought it's destruction, smears of blood traced the path it took before coming to rest. Shadow Nighthunter lay in the crew pits still clutching the hilt of her hidden dagger, a large gash ran across her cheek where a stray piece of debris had struck, her vision slightly blurred. Unexpectedly, the foggy form of Raiju stood above her, holding out his outstretched palm as he heaved her up. Morotheri looked through the debris in search of Evant, who lay groaning under a heavy plate of durasteel. Heaving it out of the way, the Miralukan helped Evant up to his feet. Meanwhile, Koryn had already made his way towards the viewport, looking down at the broken body of Darth Necar who stared back up with maddened, bloodshot eyes. Behind him, the four Jedi gathered around the ravaged corpse in disbelief. There they stood victorious, the insane prophecy of Darth Necar put to an end. A moment of silence passed as the five Jedi simply stared down in silence before Evant cleared his throat.
“I only have one good hand, who else knows how to pilot this thing?” Chimed in Evant, looking around the space at his comrades for volunteers. Raiju stumbled forward, placing his hands on a nearby console to support himself; somewhat recovered through the Force as he hobbled about, favoring his left leg. Koryn simply grinned at the comment.
“You see? Pilot, we need a pilot. Not a driver.” Teased Koryn as he glowered mischievously at Raiju from the other side of the crew pit. Somewhat annoyed, both Morotheri and Shadow glanced at each other. Raiju considered it for a moment before replying, “Fine. Call it what you want, so long as I’m driving.”
“Pilot!” Yelled the two Dark Jedi together as Raiju stepped towards the controls.