Dark Crusade: Prologue Team 10
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 Dark Hall
A suicide mission....
Valhavoc quickly strode through the corridors leading from the briefing room to a nearby hangar. Eighteen strike teams of Dark Jedi had been assembled and briefed on the looming operation. Board and take control of the Avenger II Super Star Destroyer.
... but why?
The recent changes on the Dark Council had left many questions unanswered to the new Equite. First Raken had accepted the position of Deputy Grand Master, followed shortly by Pravus assuming the role of Voice. Initially Valhavoc had a glimmer of hope that Pravus had altered his plans, that he was seeking to destroy the rot from within. However, all communications from his former Master had stopped. Cut off when after the Sith Lord ascended to the Dark Council.
The final move by the Iron Throne left the Arconan even more confused. A Jedi from Odan-Urr appointed as the Headmaster to the Shadow Academy. How could a Jedi even begin to ensure that future recruits of the Dark Brotherhood had the mettle to survive the trials to reach the rank of Knight? New members of the Houses were likely to be spies planted for Odan Urr, or defectors attempting to wrest the power of the units from their true Dark Masters.
Raken and Pravus had long conspired to destroy the Dark Council. A group of like minded members had even been formed during the chaos of the Horizon Plague to see the goal through to fruition, albeit unsuccessfully. Now the core of that group stood in the midst of their former sworn enemies.
Could the remainder of it survive? Was this a plan whispered into the ears of Grand Master Ashen by the two Sith Elders recently added to his Dark Council? In one quick stroke the remainder of the former insurgence against the Iron Throne could be eliminated, all records of Pravus and Raken's conspired treason erased. No one would question the play, a Super Star Destroyer was a worth trophy for the Grand Master of the Dark Brotherhood. The true champions at the end of the day would be the Red Tower and Voice. No one could be trusted anymore.
Just like in Galactic Intelligence... I'm a liability to them now...
Valhavoc fumed as he continued forward down the dimly let corridor. On either side of him tapestries depicted the glory of past triumphs by the Brotherhood. He scoffed in digust and frustration. Future recruits would likely not be capable of stomaching these challenges after days of meditation and self reflection in the new Academy. The golden age had ended, and he had arrived too late to even see it.
Despite the certain doom surrounding him the Force had given him some semblance of light at the end of the tunnel. As luck would have it Valhavoc's new position as a Battle Team Leader did allow him to give him some input on the members of the strike team he was now placed with. His thoughts wandered to each of the strike team members he would soon meet in the hangar.
He had worked with Troutrooper and Montresor in Arcona's recent efforts to assist House Plagueis against other remnants of Zoraan's forces. The Mon Calamari had been a part of Pravus' earlier schemes as well, bringing him would be certain death if he was still coordinating with Pravus. Not bringing the Dark Jedi Master could be nearly as deadly as well, considering what enemies likely lay in wait on the Avenger II.
The heavy artillery...
Montresor had only recently joined the Brotherhood, after a brief apprenticeship to Pravus the Journeyman had ascended through the ranks like a freighter jumping to lightspeed. Throughout these trials Valhavoc had been keeping a close eye on the young Sith, the chances of his involvement with Pravus' schemes were small. When the human from Commenor wasn't sleeping he was tireless pouring over ancient tomes or practicing for combat to prove his worth to the Clan and the Brotherhood. Keeping the Sith Lord's newest prize apprentice around may make him less inclined to throw them into a rancor pit.
An insurance policy...
The Zabrak, Skye Dulovik, was still a bit of a mystery. Few seemed to know much about her or where she came from. Some rumors claimed she was a former member of the Jedi Order. Valhavoc had a brief opportunity to watch her sparing recently, her skill with the lightsaber was not to be trifled with.
A potential assassin trained by Pravus and Raken in secret? Possibly... but a powerful front line combatant as well...
Tirano, on the other hand, was a stalwart champion of Clan Arcona since before Valhavoc had even known of the Brotherhood. For six years he had served the Shadow Clan in multiple campaigns.
and a solid foundation to build from.
A small smile crossed the Sith's face as he approached the blast doors which marked the entrance to the Dark Hall's hangar. Across the area he could see numerous teams of Dark Jedi making their final preparations before launching to assault the Avenger II. Several groups of non-Force Sensitive Soldiers milled around the area. A small squad of eleven Troopers from Clan Arcona took notice of the Equite entering the hangar, the group's Sergeant confidently approached Valhavoc.
"Sir, Quaestor Sanguinius relayed that you requested our assistance in this operation. I'm-"
"You're honored to be a part of this mighty conquest. Yes, I know," Valhavoc interrupted with a sneer. "Prepare your troops Sergeant. We have little time before we launch and I have no patience for these formalities."
Turning Valhavoc walked up the boarding ramp to the Nu Class Attack Shuttle which had been designated for the strike team he was assigned to, anxious to see if the other Dark Jedi had already arrived. Over his shoulder he could hear the Sergeant addressing his Squad, "Alright troops, check your kits and load the shuttle. This is not a drill."
Nu Class Shuttle
A world removed…. haunted by the past…. apprehensive about the future…within Montresor’s mind there was no shelter from the demons that afflicted his every move and if ever left unattended would threaten his very existence…. It is very rare that one man’s success cannot be attributed to another man’s failure. For the Journeyman, there was little glory in the hallow victories and heralded success of the past that came at such a grave cost. Nearly methodical and robotic in its entirety… planets visited…raids ordered…. lives lost…. battles won…. accolades received. It would be impossible to tell at this point if the newly raised Dark Jedi Knight would ever be content as a instrument of implementation for someone else's self-serving agenda...only time would tell....
Nevertheless, to everyone else one thing was clear, and that is when called upon to do his duty Montresor would do just that. Since joining the Brotherhood he had trained relentlessly under the expert tutelage of Darth Pravus. Specifically, Pravus had instilled in him the ability to quell his inner fears and project the necessary warrior's resolve that would allow him to focus on the trials and tribulations ahead. It was this battle-hardened determination that he believed spurred Valhavoc to bring him to Dark Forge and ultimately what gave the Journeyman the confidence to make the move.
Jolted from his thoughts by the arrival of his Battle Team Leader, Montresor’s mind could not be clearer than it was at this very moment. With Valhavoc and the Soldiers' arrival on board, all members of the newly formed strike team were present and accounted for. On the cusp of what he supposed would be an epic battle, he had a good idea of the mission ahead. As with any good leader Valhavoc had provided initial guidance and given him the freedom to plan accordingly. The words of the Corellian resonated, “Opposition is expected to be extreme once on board.”
In preparation, the Dark Forge Team Leader had given the Knight operational control over a competent and capable squad of Soldiers. In the days prior, the Journeyman had run them through the gauntlet of respective battle drills and contingency plans. In his eyes there was no squad more prepared to carry out this mission than the one in which he was currently in charge of.
As Valhavoc settled into his seat on the shuttle his field of view narrowed on the newest addition to the team. “Montresor, I overheard the troops talking outside…. you had better hope that they are better prepared than their lackadaisical attitude suggests.”
“Sir, I assure you that I do not take my leadership responsibilities lightly. These troops are ready to swiftly and expertly accomplish any and all orders you may give.”
The Strike Team Leader leaned forward and in a tone barely audible to the Knight whispered, “I brought you to this team…. your actions from this day forward will dictate if you stay…. don’t make a fool out of me.” Montresor knew no words were needed in response. He simply nodded his head.
Seemingly, the weight of the world was on his shoulders as he broke eye contact with Valhavoc and uneasily scanned the passenger hold. His resolve quickly strengthened as his eyes caught a glimpse of Troutrooper, Skye, and Tirano a few seats down. He would not be alone in this fight and the track record of these individuals spoke for itself.
As the shuttle prepared for take off Montresor knew that no matter what daunting challenges awaited them aboard the Avenger II, together this Strike Team would battle valiantly in pursuit of an absolute victory…
Skye looked at the members seated on the shuttle with her, each held themselves differently and each had a different weight on their shoulders. She did smirk at the fact that she was the only female on the team, as well as the youngest. She shook her head twice quickly before going back to studying the floor in front of her seat, waiting for the shuttle to dock with the Avenger II.
As the young Zabrak thought back to what brought her to this place, a small smile graced her lips.>
One month prior
Skye laid quietly in the rubble of a small dwelling, she wasn’t sure what planet she was on currently. Only that she was trying to avoid being found by the small group of people looking for her, wanting to bring her before the Council to face charges.
She had hid in the rubble of this house for about a week before the woman found her. She remembered the look on the human's face, the look of the world on her shoulders as she carried a small human girl. The woman didn’t even falter when she spotted the Zabrak in the shadows.
She placed her child on the ground and handed her a couple of toys before moving towards Skye. Her blue eyes pierced the Zabrak's green, keeping the young adult there. “Who are you?”
Skye shrugged her shoulders. “I’m Skye.”
“What are you doing here?” Teu scowled slightly, pushing out with the Force to gauge the Zabraks emotions like an open book. “Nevermind. Give me that,” she demanded.
Skye looked at her waist and saw her lightsaber, reluctantly she unhooked it off her belt and handed it to the woman.
Teu inspected the lightsaber with a critical eye before tutting softly. She ignited the dark green blade and allowed it to hum in the air for several seconds before deactivating it. Clipping the newly acquired weapon to her waist she then pulled her own lightsaber off her belt, looking it over a sigh escaped the former Exarch’s lips.
“Take these. There is a place that will accept you for who you are, it's where I come from and where I left. This lightsaber will be known by the leaders of the Clan I’m sending you to. Hopefully it will be enough for them to not kill you when you arrive, they are a bit touchy. If you survive, give them the datachip..it will tell them who it is that sent you.” Teu handed both pieces over before returning to her daughter, picking her up she began walking down the dirt path again. Abruptly she turned back and handed Skye a small slip of paper with coordinates written on it before departing.
Skye looked down at her hands; the lightsaber was beautiful, if not a little worn from use. The datachip held a symbol on it that confused her for a moment. She tucked both in her belt and stood, then began making her way towards a nearby star port. Surely there would be someone who could take her to this place.
Skye opened her eyes on the shuttle and smiled, it was true from the moment she set foot here she felt as if she belonged. Now she had a chance to prove her worth. Hopefully it would be enough
A barrage from one of the Avenger II's turbolaser batteries rocked the shuttle as it approached, snapping the minds of all of its passengers to the present. The lighting in the shuttle switched to an amber hue, followed by a quick notification from the pilot, "Two minutes out. Make sure you're strapped in, things are about to get dicey."
The squad of troops quickly conducted a final check on their equipment and donned their helmets. Valhavoc activated his communicator, "Comms check. Respond in sequence, over." Each of the Dark Jedi, followed by the Sergeant and Soldiers of Tau Squad responded to his prompt. "Skye, you and I are first out of the door. Deflect as much of the blaster fire from the Squad as you can. Monty, coordinate with Tau Squad to find some good defensive positions for our troops. Tirano and Trouty, put those Krath sorceries to good use and tear up their first line of defense."
A quick look around the crew area of the shuttle showed each of the members of the team understood their tasks. The shuttle's movements became more erratic as it approached the hanger of the Super Star Destroyer. Lights switched to red, "Thirty seconds out" the pilot announced.
Avenger II SSD
Alarm sirens and strobe lights screamed as the Super Star Destroyer was boarded by multiple strike teams from the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. Inside Hangar 10 a Captain from the mercenary forces formerly allied with Zoraan directed a hasty defense.
"First squad, get some cover set up! You're going to get torn to ribbons standing in the open like some dim witted bantha. Heavy weapons, how long until those defense turrets are online?" he barked, "and will someone tell me where the frack our battle droids are!"
Abruptly the Captain's orders were interrupted by a priority communication, activating his comlink the cyan images of two Sith appeared. The Captain bowed his head and quickly responded, "Lord Reaper, Lord Frost. I live to serve."
"Come on Eileen" Reaper sighed.
"At this moment... you mean everything!" Frost finished his brother's sentence.
Just as quickly the communication ended. "Great... the insane twins. Why do they insist on calling me Eileen..." the Captain mumbled.
"Contact!" one of the stormtroopers yelled out. The Nu-Class Attack Shuttle came tearing into the hangar, laser cannons blared as the defending forces dove for cover. The boarding ramp lowered as crimson and blue lightsaber blades ignited, Valhavoc and Skye began to move forward down the ramp. Together they used the smooth arcs and parries of Soresu to deflect the volley of blaster bolts which was being focused on them.
Across the hanger one of the storm troopers swiveled their defense turret, taking aim on the team exiting the shuttle. Tirano was the first to catch sight of them, summoning power from the Dark Side of the Force the Krath Sorcerer let loose a blast of energy at the trooper and turret. The gun's barrels contorted from the impact and the stormtrooper was thrown from the controls, motionless on the ground.
Montresor was the next down the boarding ramp, followed closely by Tau Squad. Recognizing the need for cover and seeing little available the Knight decided to improvise. He sprinted towards a nearby Starfighter, using the Force to greatly outpace the Soldiers behind him. As he approached the fighter Monty activated his lightsaber and sheared off the landing gear from the vessel. Exiting the far side a slight push was all it took to topple the Starfighter from its landing gear.
"Sergeant, get your teams to this cover!" he called over his communicator. The Soldiers quickly complied, laying down suppressive fire as each element moved forward from the shuttle which had delivered them to the firefight.
As additional stormtroopers arrived in the hanger through a side entrance Troutrooper walked down the boarding ramp. The Dark Jedi Master was the epitome of calm at the eye of the storm raging around him. The Mon Cal quickly bent the Force to his will, creating a flash of energy in the vicinity of the reinforcements, blinding and disorienting them.
"Like nerf to the slaughter. They're all yours" he nonchalantly called to the rest of the team.
With all of the passengers of the shuttle disembarked Skye took advantage of the opportunity to engage the flailing reinforcements, leaping into the fray. She fed on the raw emotion and confusion that permeated the ranks of the stormtroopers as she cut them down in a blur of motion.
"Battle droids, right flank!" Valhavoc called out as a set of blast doors opened near the position Montresor and Tau Squad were located at.
"Bravo Team, shift fire to the droids!" Montresor called as he prepared to engage them.
Nearby Tirano watched the situation unfold, glancing to a Starfighter near Montesor and his Squad. Once again he siphoned energy from the Force, directing it towards the canopy of the fighter. As the canopy opened the Archpriest called over the communicator to Montresor, "Perhaps a more civilized approach?"
The Journeymen leapt up into the fighter's cockpit, and quickly began enabling the weapons systems. "Sixty percent power Sergeant, I need a few more seconds. Hold them in place!"
"Roger, sir" to his left a Soldier from Tauu Squad took a blaster round to the chest, dropping lifelessly to the ground. "Alpha Team, flank left on those droids!"
Valhavoc sprinted over to the Squad, leaping over them he continued weaving a defense with his lightsaber to allow Alpha Team room to maneuver. Drawing the fire of several of the Battle Droids, he grimaced and called over his communicator, "No time like the present Monty."
"Ninety percent... ninety five... full power!" the laser cannons spewed forth energy bolts into the ranks of the droids, obliterating the majority of them. The few which remained were dispatched quickly by Tau Squad's blasters and Valhavoc's lightsaber.
"We need an exit plan Val," Troutrooper stated while using the Force to throw a nearby cargo crate into a squad of stormtroopers.
"On it. Sergeant, I need some cover fire" Valhavoc responded as he sprinted to a nearby set of blast doors. Plunging his lightsaber to the hilt into the doors he began to slowly cut though.
Abruptly the doors opened, across the threshold from the Sith Warrior stood two pale twin Dark Jedi. Sensing even individually their strength was greater than his own he summoned the Force and leapt backwards towards Tau Squad and Montresor's position.
At the peak of his jump the twins each reached out with one hand as they channeled the Force. Valhavoc unceremoniously crashed into the deck of the hangar, his body lay unmoving on the ground as the pair glanced around the room curiously.
"You know where you are?" Frost shouted to the vessel's invaders.
Reaper responded, "You're in the jungle baby!"
"You gonna diiiieeeeeee!"
“Val!” Tirano exclaimed.
“Excellent plan, Val,” Troutrooper remarked, deflecting a blaster bolt back to its origin. “While you and the floor have an impromptu meeting, we'll clear the area. Monty?”
“Clear the room of troopers then take out that blast door.”
“I will not fail.”
“I know. Tirano, Skye, to me.” Troutrooper marched to the center of the room, twitching his purple blade ever so slightly: one twitch, another bolt bounced back to its master's face. Tirano and Skye joined him, their blades swatting shots as well. “Either of you know these guys?”
“If you don't know me by now...”
“...You will never, never, never know me.”
Tirano shook his head. “Crazy freaks.”
“Let 'em say we're crazy...”
“...What do they know?”
“Put your arms around me, baby...”
“...Don't ever let go!”
“Skye, Tirano, take the ugly one.”
“Which one is that?”
“Good point. Take the...Bah, just attack one of them. I'll take the other one.”
“Let's get physical, physical...”
“...I wanna get physical, let's get into physical.”
“Let me hear your body talk...”
“...Your body talk, let me hear your body talk!”
Four sabers ignited, two shafts of crimson and two of white. They took two steps towards the Brothers and Sister, then Frost jumped and Reaper sprinted, both aided by the Force. The Equites parried their attack and spun to the left, trying to outflank the twins. The Elder side-stepped the two blades aimed at him, holding the center.
“Cause you gotta be...”
“...Hangin' tough, hangin' tough.”
“...Are you tough enough?”
Tirano groaned. Skye sighed. Troutrooper blinked.
The twin's pressed, their four arms seemingly cutting through each other, so synchronized were their movements. Troutrooper could only block their attacks, no forward movement could be gained against their onslaught. Tirano and Skye tried to get around to the twin's backs, but their efforts were stymied as the twins kept swiveling. At no point did Reaper and Frost stop moving. A pair of pulsars weaving and intertwining, their defenses and attacks unrelenting, complex, intricate, and furious.
“Get into the groove...”
“...Boy you've got to prove”
“Your love to me, yeah...”
“...Get up on your feet, yeah”
“Step to the beat...”
“...Boy what will it be!”
The Dark Jedi Master gurgled a chuckle. “Step to the beat...Oh boy, what will it be, indeed!” He stepped back, then appeared to hop to his left in support of Skye and Tirano. Frost shifted to his left to re-engage while Reaper did not alter his course.
But the fish was not there, only an image of him in Frost's mind.
The twins collided.
“I'm never gonna dance again...”
“...Guilty feet have got no rhythm.”
“Though it's easy to pretend...”
“...I know you're not a fool.”
For most partners, a slight bump would have gone unnoticed. For Frost and Reaper, however, a unexpected bump unraveled their weaving. Reaper's red blade met Skye's blue blade...in the middle of Frost's red saber arm. Tirano's blade slid down Frost's white blade...and sliced off Reaper's white saber hand. The Equites pulled back as the twins stumbled back in agony.
“Hurt so good...”
“...Come on baby, make it hurt so good.”
“Sometimes love don't feel like it should...”
“...You make it hurt so good.”
Reaper and Frost forced back their pains and regrouped.
“We've won half the battle,” Troutrooper said. Skye and Tirano chuckled.
“A job half-finished...”
“...Isn't finished at all.”
The Mon Cal blinked. “You two aren't twins, are you?”
“Nope. Great minds think alike.”
He shook his bulbous head. “Nobody thinks like me. Monty, you've one minute to get that door open.” The ship's cannon rotated, the bolts tracing an arc towards the door, Montresor got the message.
“It's the final countdown...”
“...The final countdown.”
“You're right about that...” Troutrooper strode towards the twins, and pointed a flipper at a dead trooper's blaster. He swung his saber at Frost with one flipper, the other jerking back mid-swing. The trigger clicked, the shot rang out, and hit the Dark Jedi Master's saber on the downswing. The deflected shot and the saber reached Frost simultaneously. He was prepared for the saber, but not the shot. He crumpled, his leg useless and holey. One swift woosh of purple seared Frost's head from his shoulders.
Reaper slashed at Troutrooper, but his blow never landed. Tirano blocked the attack and Skye drove her saber into his exposed side. He collapsed in a heap beside his brother.
“Another one bites the dust.”
“Another one bites the dust.”
“Speaking of which,” Troutrooper looked around and saw Tau Squad's medic attending to Valhavoc. “Medic, how's our BTL?”
“Solid concussion. Should be okay. He won't remember this fight.”
The Mon Cal nodded. “Good to know, but we've got a timeline. Move.” The medic backed away and found another patient. “Tirano, Skye, the blast door is about to blow. Move Tau Squad into position in case we get another surprise.”
“Yessir.” They whistled and their support troops assembled, taking defensive positions around the soon-to-be-opened door.
Troutrooper put a flipper on Valhavoc's forehead, closed his eyes, and healed the damage the twins caused. The patient moaned, but the “doctor” kept him down. “Shh. Stay down and keep still. Your head's gonna hurt for a while. Man up and deal. At the mo—“
The blast door exploded. All waited for something to emerge. Nothing did. A trooper peered around the opening, and signaled all clear when he found nothing.
“—ment, we just opened the doors and are ready to move on.”
The Sith Warrior nodded. “Wha...twins...Am I a father...?”
“I don't know. Maybe. But the twins who made your brain mushy are themselves mushy. We've got a couple minutes, so take them and find yourself. We need you for the rest of the mission.”
Valhavoc nodded. “Anyone got pain meds?”
Tirano and Skye led the charge through the scorched blast doors with Tau squad closely behind them. The rest of the infiltration team followed, so far they had faced no opposition on this level. They were far from the bridge, the elevator business would only slow them down, it would never stop them, not when they were so determined to capture it. Their first objective was to find an alternate route after disabling the automated defense systems, that had yet to prove effective.
“Incoming!” shouted one of the troopers as he ducked behind a crate. One of the soldiers from Tau Squad fell to the ground with a smoking hole in his forehead, the enemy troops had finally come up with the guts to face them. Tau Squad scrambled for cover in the hall while returning fire to the battle droids that were charging at them. Val rushed forward deflecting blaster bolts as Tirano and Skye began throwing crates at the troopers crouched ahead of them.
The rush of battle fueled Tirano’s anger, he felt the pain of the wounded and the fear of those dying. It was pure energy that he used to magnify his Force attacks. It felt good, but this nonsense battle had bored him, he wanted to face those who were on the bridge. The Krath Archpriest grabbed one of the officers with a choke hold and blasted him with lightning in front of his squad. As he scratched at his throat his body began to convulse because of the electric that was penetrating his body, making a truly gory sight in the middle of battle. The lightning was just a visual effect, on a good day it would really hurt someone but never kill a man with armor. He could smell the fear that his little trick had caused amongst the enemy troops, the rush made him feel stronger as he turned that same fear into wide spread horror amongst those who still remained opposing them. They began to falter in their attack, some began to retreat giving Tau and the Dark Jedi the window of opportunity to finish them off.
“Nice trick, eh?” said Tirano as he stepped over the corpse of the officer. He noticed Val gave him a strange a look, but he brushed it off. Maybe he shouldn’t have shown off like that. After all it was an important mission and there was no time for games, at least not until they had reached the bridge.
He glanced over the Skye and smiled; even though she was young he could see much promise in her, Teu had picked well.
“Done socializing yet?” Val said with a tone of annoyance as he moved forward.
As the team continued down the corridors towards the nearest security control point Valhavoc considered the recent events that had unfolded on the Super Star Destroyer. Raken's appearance was unexpected. His message was even more enigmatic.
Traitors among the strike teams...
If the Deputy Grand Master were referring to his former co-conspirators why pass the message directly to the hands of one of them. However, in an organization like the Dark Brotherhood it was always possible that another faction had interests in taking the Super Star Destroyer for themselves.
Regardless of the reason, it was a message that Val had decided to share with the strike team. Considering three of the other members of the team were from Valhavoc's Battle Team, the likelihood of them doubting his motives would be slim. If anyone were to become suspect it would be the only member of the team from outside of Dark Forge.
Time will tell what game the Elders are playing. For now focus on survival.
Montresor was on point in the front of the group, weaving his way through the labyrinth of corridors that composed the level of the starship. As he turned a corner the Knight dove forward, the hum of two lightsabers activating filled the corridor.
Montresor was locked in combat against a female Devaronian. He staggered back as he blocked three quick strikes from his opponent.
"You're no match for me, human," she snarled. The Devaronian stalked toward Montresor preparing to unleash another flurry of attacks.
"Perhaps," Montresor retorted between parries, "but she is."
Skye lept forward from the nearby corner, her blue lightsaber flaring to life. The Devaronian barely blocked her first blow. Skye's second strike cleanly removed her opponents lightsaber arm. Montresor wasted no time in finishing off their opponent, with one swipe of his saber the Devaronian's head fell to the ground, her eyes still wide open in shock.
Nodding to his comrade Montresor wiped his brow, "Thanks." Skye smiled briefly before motioning further down the corridor.
"Seems we've found one of the security points. Lets see if it can be disarmed."
As the group approached the system a Soldier from Tau Squad stepped forward, pulling a computer spike from his pack. Connecting it into the security point it began flooding the system with random data files. Behind the group two automated defense turrets activated, swiveling to aim at the invading Dark Jedi.
"I thought that thing was supposed to shut down the security, not turn it on," Troutrooper commented as he activated his lightsaber.
Troutrooper glanced at the trooper. "Hmm, looks like Ms. Mysterioso has played her first hand." A quick blast of Force Lightning knocked the trooper away from the control panel before he could hit fire the batteries.
"Sergeant! Fix that traitor's handiwork!" Valhavoc yelled; the sergeant was already shoving another Tau member towards the panel before the Sith spoke.
The Dark Jedi turned. Flanked by her dead leader's Alion Nova Guard and with her trusty droid at her side, Dontella Novae made quite the entrance. "I didn't know you were on the lookout for a traitor. That makes this far more delectable. Who's mind should I warp next?" She scanned the five Dark Jedi then smiled. "Ah yes. The newest one, of course. So much power, so little connection to any of them." Novae half-closed her eyes...
...And Skye spun, saber blazing, eyes glazed over.
Troutrooper blinked. "Impressive. Let's see if you can keep it up." He half-closes his eyes...
...And four Alion Nova Guardsmen began yelling. "They're in our ranks!" "Gas 'em!" Their comrades screamed as the mind-twisted fired into their own ranks and lobbed grenades. "Wha--NO! That's us!" "Run!"
Dontella released her grip on Skye as the first gas grenade exploded. "You bastard fish! How dare you *cough* turn the tables on me! I'm the *cough* greatest mentalis--" her voice faded as the toxins took hold, forcing her to focus on her health.
More gas bombs went off, enveloping her and her guard in lethal gas. The unaffected droid diluted the air with a neutralizing agent but not before the guardsmen were dead and Novae was sickened, weakened.
Troutrooper gurgled a chuckle. "And that's why you don't allow legumes on ships' menus."
The team wasted no time in seizing the advantage. Troutrooper was the first to engage the Umbaran who was still hacking from the gas. His dual purple lightsabers worked in symphony as they clashed against her single blade. To her side the SCr-114 droid opened fire on the Dark Jedi Master with his blaster pistols.
An instant before the first bolt would have hit Troutrooper, the lightsaber in his left flipper leapt to intercept the approaching bolt, deflecting it wide. A second later Tau Squad began engaging the droid, forcing it to take cover around a nearby corner.
The four remaining Dark Jedi approached, each igniting their own blades while the Mon Cal and Zoraan's alchemist continued their duel. The group was about to engage Dantella when she abruptly released a wave of Force energy, sending Tirano, Valhavoc, and Montresor careening away from her. Skye staggered back a few steps, but managed to hold her ground as she prepared to engage the Adept with Troutrooper.
Tirano was the first to leap to his feet, only an instant after hitting the ground. He found himself the target of a group of battle droids that had just joined the fray. He slowly stalked towards the droids weaving his lightsaber to deflect their bolts as he approached striking distance.
Montresor found himself only a few feet from Tau Squad. One of the Soldiers grabbed him by his collar before he could stand and pulled him behind some nearby crates. "Sir, that damn SCr droid’s targeting system is working too fast. Its got us pinned down!"
"You can't be serious," Monresor replied, obviously frustrated. "Cover Fire! Its only one damn droid."
Montresor dashed from the cover and began to flank to the left of the droid. Revlo's left hand and sensor immediately picked up the human's movement, targeting, and firing at him with one of his pistols. The Knight's blade danced from side to side, blocking the blaster bolts, as Tau Squad increased their pressure on the droid.
A millisecond too slow, one blaster bolt barely deflected off of Montresor's lightsaber and instead struck him in his outer thigh. The Knight stumbled for a moment before channeling his frustration to numb away the pain.
Revlo's sensor detected the weakness in his auxiliary target, and the SCr-114 droid pivoted to engage the wounded Knight. Suddenly the remaining eight members of Tau Squad burst forth from behind their cover, blaster rifles all focused on the droid. As the SCr was peppered with bolts he stumbled back. The computer turned its focus back to the new imminent threat of the Squad, a second later Montresor's lightsaber neatly quartered the droid. In pieces Revlo collapsed to the ground.
Valhavoc had been thrown to the opposite side of the room from his companions. His head was still reeling from the intimate contact it had made with the hangar floor, followed shortly by several flash bang grenades in a confined elevator shaft, and then being tossed into a wall. The Equites head swam as he began to stand again. Across the room he could see Montresor downing Dantella's droid. Tirano sliced through the pack of battle droids which had joined the fight, as the remaining members of Tau Squad moved to support him.
In the center of it all was the maelstrom of combat being waged by Troutrooper, Skye, and Dantella Novae. A blur of motion with the occasional object flying from where it lay in the room, a distraction hoping to open the slightest gap in one of the combatants defenses. Despite Dantella's weakened state she maintained the pace against the pair.
As the Umbaran stepped back Valhavoc noticed an Eklot from one of the fallen Nova Guardsmen's laying near her heel. He hoped his comrades had kept the Adept occupied enough to overlook the weapon’s position. As she began to adjust her footing Valhavoc reached out with the Force. Abruptly the sword leapt from ground, the blade biting deep into Dantella's calf.
Zoraan's lackey grimaced and continued to press on against her opponents, seemingly unaware of the deadly nerve agent that had just been introduced to her system. Across the room Valhavoc stood up, watching her reaction carefully. First, an involuntary twich in the wounded leg. She compensated for it, continuing to fight. The small spasm in her saber arm a few seconds later proved more costly, Troutrooper wasted no time in amputating her forearm.
To her credit she continued pressing the attack, drawing a curved dagger in her remaining hand Novae roared as she swung at Skye. The Zabrak easily overpowered her as the neurotoxin’s symptoms persisted, Skye knocked the blade away and dropped the Umbaran to the ground with a sweep.
As he approached Valhavoc could tell the neurotoxin’s effects were progressing. Dantella's legs abruptly would stiffen and spasm, barely maintaining control of her limbs she stared up at her assailants.
"Neurotoxin is a painful way to die," Valhavoc remarked coolly as he picked up another fallen Eklot. Walking over he looked into the Umbaran's eyes, the pupils had constricted like to mere dots within a sea of her grey iris.
"You're probably having trouble breathing by now," Valhavoc lightly drug the Nova Guard's blade up the dieing Adept's remaining arm. Additional neurotoxin flooded her system, "Think you can counteract all of that with the Force? I doubt it."
Troutrooper looked down at the helpless Adept, "Tell us how to access the bridge, and you may still live."
The Adept's jaw briefly twitched, followed by a series of loud cracks and pops as the clenching muscles in her jaws began cracking teeth. Her head arched as her back and ribs spasmed, a muffled scream barely crossing her lips.
"I suppose there are other ways for us to find out what we need," the Mon Cal continued. Laying his flipper on her forehead the Krath began summoning the worst of Dantella's fears into her mind.
A normal being would writhe in the mental anguish they were suffering. Novae could not even move a muscle as she was assaulted mentally and physically. Slowly the former spymaster broke his subject, ripping long hidden secrets from her memory, names of contacts Zoraan had planted within the Brotherhood, individuals across the galaxy who had conspired with the former Grand Master, patrol routes of the ship’s security, and the path to the bridge.
Finally, Troutrooper looked back to his companions. Few individuals had the strength to crush an Adept’s mind, the Dark Jedi Master appeared as if it had been a game for his mere amusement. "We have our information, she's worthless to us now. Unless..."
"The Dark Council," Valhavoc agreed. "Quite the prize for the Grand Master don't you think?"
"Absolutely," Tirano grinned.
"We're playing a dangerous game letting her live Val," Troutrooper added.
Valhavoc nodded, "But one that has a high payout. Sergeant, have two of your men drag this wench along with us. She's got enough nerve agent in her to keep her down for a week. We'll bring her to a rendezvous point where an extraction team can link up with us, then head to the bridge."
The Sergeant nodded, and two Soldiers each grabbed one of her arms.
"I'll call in the coordinates for the link up point. This way," Troutrooper replied.
Perhaps there was no better way to describe the feeling coursing through Montresor’s body. It had been a long time since he had felt this level of pain.
Utter shock, complete embarrassment, and a gaping wound were all he was left with. He was conceivably a bit too eager and foolhardy for his own good. As the battle unfolded it had only made sense to maneuver on the droid that threatened Tau Squad. He would have been wise to stick to what he knew best. With reckless abandon he disregarded a simple flanking maneuver that could have potentially prevented the mess that was his leg. He would be more careful next time…earning the respect of his comrades was worth little if he was not alive to enjoy it.
The Dark Jedi looked around the room, “Troutrooper you mind patching me up before we move out?"
"No problem Monty, though you may want to consider being more careful next time. Let that that scar be a reminder that you are no good to anyone dead.”
“Tirano take point. Lets move out. Watch out for any more of the Ailon Nova Guard. We don't want to end up looking like her,” Valhavoc motioned back to the immobile Umbaran.
As instructed Tirano took point, shadowed by Tau Squad who was positioned along both sides of the corridor. It was a tactical movement they were very familiar with and the execution was immaculate.
At Troutrooper's direction the team moved along what seemed to be a series of endless corridors in to the rendezvous point with the Iron Thrones operatives. Montresor could not shake a foreboding feeling. In the Knight's opinion it would only be a matter of time before the enemy main effort pinned down their exact location and responds in force.
As the team rounded the corner they were met be a previously arranged squad of troopers.
“This prisoner is all yours. We don’t have much time, so make the exchange quick,” Valhavoc instructed.
“No problem sir, it's already done,” no sooner had the words left the Squad Leader's mouth and Tau Squad was on the move again….
Valhavoc bellowed, “Lets move… we still have work left to do.”
As the five Dark Jedi and Tau Squad entered the bridge the lone inhabitant turned to face them. Darth Necar's crooked smile greeting them.
"Brilliant! The Starship's culinary staff, here to deliver a delectable treat for my pets," the deranged Sith Lord exclaimed. His gaze fell towards Tirano, "Head Chef Morimoto, what have you prepared for me today?"
The stunned group turned towards Tirano, Valhavoc made a brief gesture towards Troutrooper, and the Archpriest replied, "Umm... today we have... the elusive amethyst Mon Calamari. Plucked straight from...."
"Spawning grounds," Troutrooper mumbled.
"Yes, his spawning grounds. He is a fine specimen, perfectly aged," Tirano lifted one of Troutrooper's flippers as if showing off a prize catch. The Dark Jedi Master glared at him and Tirano abruptly dropped the flipper.
"Brilliant! He seems quite spry for an old fish. My pets have needed some exercise, he should do nicely. Perhaps they can play with their food for a bit before dinner!" the Darth cackled maniacally as he finished his statement.
Valhavoc stepped forward and replied, "Of course sir, we wouldn't want to make a mess on your impeccable bridge though now would we," as he gestured around to the piles of bodies he continued, "Perhaps the pets would enjoy a good romp around the area back near the lift?"
"Yes! Discipline and order, we won't tolerate a dirty bridge. I'll give their dinner a head start," in the corner of the room the group could see some massive forms begin moving.
As the group turned to leave the bridge the Sith Lord's voice suddenly dropped, instead of the confused and excited persona he had portrayed the man's words were chilling, as if spoken by death himself.
"Wait. You," he pointed at Montresor. Striding across the bridge he came nose to nose with the Dark Jedi Knight, inspecting him closely.
Suddenly the awkward smile returned, "Ensign Cornelius, why aren't you piloting the ship? I specifically remember asking you to crash it into the nearest asteroid, star, or other appropriately sized pile of refuse."
Montresor coughed as cold sweat ran down his brow, then made his best attempt at a genuine smile and replied, "Of course sir! How could I forgot, let me see what convenient celestial objects we have in our area to fly into," then began walking over to a nearby Navicomputer.
Necar turned back to the shadows where his pets where looming, then stretching his arms out towards them yelled, "Fluffy! Rufus! Go chase the fishy!"
Two massive Terentateks burst forth from the shadows, charged past Montresor and the Sith Lord, and began bearing down on the remainder of the group. Trouty was the first to react, the Mon Cal only had to utter a single word, "Run."
As the group raced from the operations center of the bridge back to a more secluded area to attempt to deal with the Terentateks, Darth Necar walked over to Monty and put his arm around the man's shoulders.
"Cornelius, did I ever tell you about the time Zoraan and I vacationed in the gutters of Nar Shadda? It was quite lovely!" Montresor smiled weakly as he prepared for whatever nonsense the Sith Lord was about to spout next. Talking seemed to distract him from his current goal of destroying the vessel, and all its inhabitants.
As the remaining four Dark Jedi and Tau Squad reached the rear part of the bridge's deck they took a second to regroup as the Terentateks closed on them.
Troutrooper looked at Tirano suspiciously, "You were a little too good at that ad lib back there... and what was that remark about being perfectly aged?"
"Ensign Cornelius, why aren't you piloting the ship?”
This inquisitive directive was laughable at best, the young Dark Jedi thought to himself as he took his seat at the nearest Navicomputer.
“I specifically remember asking you to crash it into the nearest asteroid”
Mind racing as he contemplated his options, Montresor feared that there was a definitive chance the absent minded Sith Lord may just get that wish despite his best efforts to prevent it.
He continued to sweat profusely as he reflected upon the limited piloting training he had received advancing through the ranks. Never more than now had he wished he had paid more attention.
Capture the Avenger II
The Grand Master’s intent was very clear. However, Montresor never thought on his first mission with Tau Squad he would be put in such a predicament. It was a predicament that could very markedly influence the outcome of this endeavor. Certainly, the Shroud masking their galactic way ahead coupled with a Sith Lord standing directly behind him, teetering on the edge of complete insanity did little to quell feelings of hopelessness interlaced with the enormity of the situation.
With no warning his shoulder was clenched in a cutting embrace. The Knight winced in pain as Darth Necar barked in his ear, “You seem to be wasting my time Ensign. My guidance to you was very clear. Yet here you are staring at the controls like you have discovered some lost Sith temple. All the while your crew is taking a cue from you and lollygagging on the job.
His grip tightened, “Look around, it is not my job to tell you how to do your job, but you had better spark a little life in yourself and your trusted associates before I end yours.”
He could feel the grasp of death on his shoulder. It would only take a moment for his life to end. He stood no chance against the ticking time bomb that hovered behind him. With little time to formulate a plan Montresor began to confidently awaken the Navicomputer from its technological slumber. Simultaneously and unbeknownst to the lunatic in his presence he began to motion towards each respective member of the crew. He would buy time and “spark a little life” in the recently massacred crew.
Montresor convincingly barked out orders and those seated around him on cue nodded in compliance as their arms flopped onto respective terminals and their hands bounced up and down. Propelled by the Force, in turn, each crew member executed rudimentary control adjustments that would hopefully buy the rest of the team the valuable time needed to deal with the Sith Lord's demented pet creations. For now, the Sith Lord seemed to be buying the absurdity of it all as the Knight worked through the final nuances of navigation that would auto pilot the ship along a safe course.
“Sir, perhaps it would be best if you took a seat. I have just received word from Captain Crunch that we will be experiencing a good amount of turbulence as we progress through the Shroud. It seems the innumerable Crunch Berry Asteroids may not be our best option to crash into since our objective is total destruction of the ship.”
“Ain’t nobody got time for that Ensign. You had better figure it out. While your doing that I will take this seat right here and take a quick Terentatek nap. Dealing with the likes of the fools like you around here is enough to make any Sith Lord tired.”
As Dark Necar took his seat the Dark Jedi Knight wondered how much longer he could keep this charade up. He knew that at any moment Necar could awake from his lunacy and choke him to death with ease. With the path of the ship set to autopilot, the tense waiting game continued as Montresor hoped for additional guidance from Valhavoc on the next move... guidance that could not come soon enough…