Naga Sadow: Team 4
Jades A. Sadow
IC: You are a member of an elite task force assigned to conduct a rapid entry raid in Xlopora City. Your team is tasked with recovering the the lost blade of Ferran, known as Revelation. Intelligence reporting indicates four distinct opposition Forces operating within Xlopora City.
1. One Sith Forces: The Sith Lord Esoteric has been identified by Taldyran reconnaissance teams. Esoteric is an unpredictable Sith Lord and has been connected to the death of multiple members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.
2. Unknown Imperial Forces: Arconan agents have reported multiple engagements with Storm Commandos and unidentified Imperial Storm Troopers. These unknown Imperial Forces appear to be coordinating their operation with the One Sith.
3. Sith Revenants and Ancient Sith Magic: Xlopora City is the seat of ancient Sith powers and is protected by unknown quantities of arcane wards and traps. Sith Zombies have been identified within the catacombs underneath the towered palace located in the center of the city. Shadow Academy Scholars have reported multiple deaths resulting from failed attempts to breach warded doorways and structures.
4. The Dark Brotherhood: The Dark Brotherhood is a fragmented organization designed to reward those who excel. Infighting, backstabbing, and treachery are acceptable tactics to achieve results. Dark Council reports indicate at least three skirmishes have occurred between opposition Clans and Houses.
The Sith Medium, Dantella Novae, has provided the Dark Council with a rough sketch of the chamber housing Revelation. She believes that a ritual, of some sort, will be required to gain access to the weapon. This ritual will require a significant cost from the team who discovers it.
This is a time sensitive operation that will conclude in 96 hours (16 real life days!) with the commencement of an orbital bombardment. Due to the short nature of the operation, your team will be limited to light infantry operations (no mechanized forces are to be deployed in Xlopora City). You may use any other equipment from your organization's order of battle.
OOC: The following links provide additional information.
Plot Update Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0rPsJ1Xn54cZ1VFYjY3SElrMU0/edit?usp=sharing
Bosthirda Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0rPsJ1Xn54cbmNOMURTM3R0R3M/edit?usp=sharing
Dantella Novae Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0rPsJ1Xn54cY1piSHZJOHhlMEU/edit?usp=sharing
Welcome to the Dark Crusade Epilogue: Bosthirda, a Run-On Event.
The following rules are in effect:
This is a run-on event based on the most recent Dark Brotherhood Plot Update, Bosthirda Planet Document, and event hook placed at the beginning of each run on.
Sign-ups for the event will begin on 22 February 2014 and end at 2359 EST on 27 February 2014.
The Team Captain from each team will email their team name and team roster to Muz, Raken, and Sarin.
Teams will consist of no less than 5 members and no more than 7 members. Units may submit as many teams as they can field.
250 word minimum per post. No maximum word limit. A post under 250 words will not be considered in a participant’s 3 post total. If a player writes five entries, 3 over 250 words and 2 under, they will still be given credit for reaching the minimum post limit.
Each team member must post at least three times during the event. There is no maximum post limit, but members cannot post consecutively. A single member failing to post three times will result in their teams DQ and elimination from the top 3.
Edits may occur on a post until a follow on post has been made (follow on posts include "reserving" a space). Edits may only be made by the posts original author (as in, if you have Forum Administration Rights, you cannot edit another member’s work).
Members may reserve post, but no posts can occur until after the reserved post is written.
The event will be graded by Raken, Sarin, and Muz using a rubric that focuses on creativity, plot development, realism, and grammar.
The winning team will win the Run-On for their unit. A single Independent Unit can finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in this event. This is a nova producing event.
22-27 February Sign-Ups
28 February: Event Hook Published on all Team Threads (You can read the plot update and potentially divine your mission!)
28 February to 16 March: Members Post on the Forums! This event will be plugged into the Database, but will not conclude on the forums until 2359 EST on 16 March 2014!!!!!!!
The MAAT gunship rocked as a particularly close explosion sent shockwaves rippling through it. With the side doors closed, it was impossible to tell how close it had really been or what had happened, but inside the occupants braced themselves on the handrails at the edge the troop compartment. The five Dark Jedi steadied themselves quickly, but the squad of elite clonetroopers was only a moment behind.
Krath Epis Locke Sonjie - long-time servant of Clan Naga Sadow and former soldier of the Galactic Alliance military - was barely fazed by the blast. They had been fighting this Crusade for a year now. He had found himself in the middle of battle at every world, even when he had been the Clan's Consul. It had worn him down to a grim focused state at times, the One Sith proving to be just as treacherous an opponent as the Yuuzhan Vong had been all those years ago. Fazed or not, Locke needed to know what was happening. The MAAT's armored doors were thick, but he hated not being able to see beyond them.
"Jeof! What was that?" he shouted over the din of distant explosions and the gunship's roaring engines as it maneuvered through the madness outside.
"Just some turbulence," the pilot replied, his voice betraying a hint of anxiety. Locke imagined that even veteran pilots found a hot insertion such as this to be stressful. Countless gunships had been lost and replaced in these conflicts. Locke had been carried into battle on Jeof's gunship at least twice before, though. The man was one of the best in the Sadow military, surviving the entire Crusade, including the bloody consolidation into the Warhost of Sadow, as it was called today.
"Open the doors, " another voice said, speaking in a bored tone as if he was requesting a refill of ale, rather than in the middle of battle. That was Malik Sadow, Sith Warlord and Consul of Clan Naga Sadow. True to his title, the Neti claimed to have seen more war than the entire rest of his Clan Summit put together. He acted as if he had lived this experience a thousand times. The pilot hesitated. Before Jeof could object that there was too much chaos outside, Malik cut him off, voice taking on a commanding tone. "Now!"
With a screeching hiss, the gunship's side doors retracted. Cold, wet, freezing wind immediately bombarded Locke as he was exposed to atmosphere. Icy daggers of rain stung his face, but the Krath barely blinked.
"Another wonderful world of the One Sith, " Krath Epis Jade Sadow hissed, showing her teeth slightly in what might have been a grin. Locke forced a chuckle. He did not trust the other Krath. She was apprentice to Macron Goura Sadow, and the Mad Alchemist was Locke's greatest rival within the Clan. For usurping Macron's position and overthrowing the Elder Sith at the beginning of his own reign as Consul, Locke was sure that Macron's followers would relish any chance to bring him before their Master. He had no intention of letting them, now or ever.
Locke turned away to look outside again, enduring the stinging rain. Below lay the sprawling ruins of an ancient city. Towering spires rose around them, obscuring distant battles as other teams made their own insertions. Every unit of the Brotherhood was represented here, each barely tolerating each other as they answered the call of the Dark Council. Looking toward the sky, Locke could see distinctive dagger shapes far above, distant explosions appearing between them as well. It seemed that reports of Imperial forces were true. That made no sense to Locke. Everyone knew the Imperial Remnant had allied with the Galactic Alliance. Why would they be here? There must have been some reason for it, but what?
Jeof's voice suddenly came over their comlinks. "Found an abandoned alleyway, prepare for battle! ETA - now!"
The gunship's drives screamed as it decelerated and turned. Locke's side came around to face an empty, muddy alleyway, crumbling, multi-story stone structures on either side.
"Consul, " Locke said, addressing Malik, "by your leave, I will take point." As Malik's Black Guard, Locke had an additional duty to protect the Consul above all else. The Krath pulled an AXM-50 blaster rifle from it's magnetic berth on the side of the gunship's interior. Though few of the weapons existed in the Warhost arsenal, Locke tried to take one whenever he went into an engagement such as this. The combination of blaster rifle and micro-grenade launcher made for a formidable and versatile weapon. At a nod from the Neti, Locke leaped from the gunship before it had come to a full stop. He readied the AXM-50, holding it level and surveying the alley, one hand subconsciously dropping down to feel the DL-44 blaster pistol and lightsaber at his waist for a moment. The Warhost clonetroopers disembarked right behind Locke, their own weapons raised.
Obelisk Templar Karius stepped up beside Locke, unignited lightsaber in his hand. Locke was aware of the others dropping into the street behind him. The gunship's engine whine grew distant as it retreated from the battlefield, but something else replaced it.
The top of one of the nearby ruined building exploded, causing a chain reaction that led to the whole structure collapsing on itself. There were other explosions from other structures as well.
"Starship debris!" Locke bellowed, his mind racing. They could take cover, but would it matter?
"Director!" Kairus shouted, addressing Izanami Kurai by her title within the hierarchy of Dakhani Solutions. The company served as one of the elite Battleteams of House Shar Dakhan, and every Dark Jedi present save Malik were members. He was pointing ahead, where a few pieces of falling debris had landed right in the street. Another hit the ground with a deafening sound mere meters away from the group, flinging mud and metal into the air.
No, it wasn't just debris. Something else was there.
"Take cover!" Locke yelled, flipping his weapon up on it's side and switching to the grenade launcher function. He fired into the cloud, sensing the life there. The first small explosions from the grenade launcher were swallowed by smoke and answered with pale green blaster fire, lancing back at them across the several meters between the crash site and the Sadowan group. Their clonetrooper support opened fire, everyone moving toward one side of the alley or the other for cover.
"Why black armor?" Kairus asked.
Locke had no answer for that as he fought for his life, firing the AXM-50 in short bursts.
Izanami looked around her slightly alarmed by the explosions and debris flying around them. Large hunks of twisted metal landed nearby that caused Kairus some more extreme worry as the frail Krath dodged adroitly under the hail of wreckage. She looked curiously at Locke, but made no real mention of the armor before glancing at her datapad. For the most part, she largely ignored the falling debris.
The young Archpriestess looked at Kairus and nodded as the man moved to shield her from oncoming threats. The Obelisk took his job as her head of security very seriously as they moved almost in tandem as she quickly surveyed the routes into and out of the city. They proceeded down the street a few more blocks before she stopped suddenly and looked around.
“Aside from things blowing up, what are we looking for again?” she asked Locke carefully.
“Some kind of labyrinth beneath the city.” the man responded softly.
She had noticed that Locke was never very loud when he spoke and that suited her just fine. She hated loud noises. The explosions falling around them were starting to wear on her nerves finally as she looked towards the impact crater left by the nearest one.
“Look alive! That isn’t debris!” she let her datapad drop to her side where the specially designed sling caught it harmlessly from the air to rest against her hip. Izanami grabbed the grips of her slugthrowers and drew them quickly, gesturing toward the wrecked building with one of the large bore barrels.
“That’s a drop pod! Contact incoming!” Kairus shouted toward the others, as he moved to protect the Archpriestess and Locke moved to stand in front of Malik. Jade followed suit, standing between the two men. Kairus brought his lightsaber to bear with the tell-tale snap-hiss.
The clone troopers seemed to sense the trouble as well because they quickly fell into a tactical formation around the elite members of the insertion force. The team looked around them as things began to happen. Several drop pods remained dormant, but one opened quickly as Storm Commandos moved into position outside of their transport.
Izanami pointed down the avenue toward the center of the city. “We need to go that way!”
“You heard the Director”, Kairus shouted above the sound of crashing and blaster fire. Raising his lightsaber he deflected a volley of shots from the commandos, scoring a kill on the lead trooper. Locke laid down a masterful suppressive fire with his rifle, Kairus nodded his approval. Malik and Jade rallied to Izanami as she ordered the clonetroopers in formation between them and the two defending dark jedi.
Slowly making their way down the avenue, the Krath’s datapad began to chirp. She pulled the device from its sling, but did not like the data the unit was displaying. According to the map, the avenue ended in a cul-de-sac several meters ahead. “Kairus”, she yelled quickly, “buy us time…as much as you can!”
“We need to run, now”, the archpriestess said to her companions.
The defending Obelisk and Krath stopped back-peddling to try and force a stand still. Constantly deflecting blaster shots was starting to wear on the Templar. Even though their forces were starting to dwindle, the storm commandos' training made up for their lack of numbers. Locke let out a small cry of triumph as he landed two hits in a row. “C’mon Kairus, keep up”, he chuckled as precisely landed another shot. The Templar smirked, but only for a second as a blaster bolt flew inches from his head and struck one of the clonetroopers in his helmet.
His mind went blank for a moment. No, he didn’t know that particular trooper personally; and no, they probably never would have been friends, but Kairus’s ego was stung. It was rare that he let anyone die, especially one that he could have prevented had he been paying attention. Adjusting his grip on his lightsaber, he picked his first target.
Malik was the first to the end of the avenue, and as the datapad had suggested there didn’t appear to be anywhere else to go. Jade and Izanami caught up to the Neti, “what now…Director?” Frustrated the Krath took up her datapad again, but nothing new popped out at her.
“Look for yourself”, she handed the pad over to the Sith. He scanned the area and compared the map…everything was identical. Then he noticed the only anomaly on the map, a small fountain built into the middle of the cul-de-sac…it was missing from the datapad. Malik handed her the datapad and approached the fountain, noticing it seemed far younger than its surrounding structure. Concentrating, he gestured towards the fountain and the stone began to crumble easily as if it had been made too hastily. It only took a few seconds for the fountain to collapse, falling into the hole it was concealing.
Jade silenced her saber and hooked it back to her waist as she and Izanami caught up to Locke and Malik. As much a she loved fighting, she had to admit the saber wasn't her most stealthy of weapons. Though it was certainly smoother than her metal blades. She watched as the team assembled around the fountain.
Locke was an interesting Krath, one she had fought and served with before, but there had been that incident with Macron...and though she would like to believe it wouldn't be a pattern, and yes part of her considered revenge, there was just something shimmering in the force around him. She'd have to keep an eye on him. Izanami and Kairu had just shown to be fine warriors, and Jade was looking forward to fighting alongside them. And then there was Malik, a fellow Son of Sadow, she had no doubt, especially with him taking point as Consul that he had the Clans best interest at heart, and truth be told she was honoured to be fighting and serving with the fellow Son.
She looked at the fountain as Malik gave the datapad back to Izanami and walked up to it. It was definitely newer than the rest of their surroundings, but someone had gone to the trouble of trying to make it look older. Likely tossed a few handfuls of dust and dirt on it, maybe even kicked some pretending to be windswept damage. A few cracks even made it appear they may have hit it with a rock or some blunt object to give it that cracking, aged look. Feeble attempts really. It reminded her of an escaped captive running through the forest and suddenly seeing their footprints, steps backward sin them, hoping to throw off anyone that might come looking for them....at least they had tried...Jade smirked.
As the fountain creaked and moaned it suddenly folded in on itself, pieces falling in and down..and down and down. They all watched as it looked they it was sucked into a black hole. Jade waved away some of the dust that swirled around them as the fountains' purpose rumbled like it did. "Great..."she looked at the hole. "Nothing good ever came from holes."
Malik gave a slight grin, "Sure there has...your enemies grave."
Jade laughed, he was right.
Kairus walked closer to the edge of the hole, followed close by Locke, taking his blackguard role seriously, almost pushing Malik to the side in the process to make sure he would get the chance to shoot first and ask any questions later. Kairus put one foot near the opening, the other back, keeping his weight just in case he needed to suddenly step back, if the hole decided to open itself any larger. "Wonder where it leads too?" He raised his saber, seeing if any of the light would reflect down the hole...but not much showed other then more blackness.
Izanami moved closer and kicked a piece of the fountain with her toe into the hole. They all waited to hear it hit the bottom, but no one did. "Wonder how deep it is?" She looked at the clone troopers, preparing them for orders.
Malik stretched out with the force then looked at them all. "Only one way to find out." He moved and suddenly stepped off the edge of the hole. Everyone watched as the Consul just disappeared.
Locke swore, "Spice!" Taking out his blaster and following Malik down the hole.
Jade laughed, she had no worries, Malik knew what he was doing, would use the force to catch himself, and of course kill anything in his way. She shrugged at Kairus and Izanami then jumped in after the two Dark Jedis. As she fell it felt eerily silent and still. Like the darkness both welcomed them and wanted to protect its secrets at the same time. She landed silently, like a cat stalking prey, two feet and one hand outstretched on the ground, next to Malik and Locke.
Locke signaled for the clone troopers to follow the quintet down the hole. Meanwhile Malik closed his eyes and reached out into the darkness of the tunnels but his limited abilities with seeing through the force meant that he didn’t learn much from it other than that they were standing in a tunnel and had two choices when it came to which direction they should move in.
The Neti opened his eyes again and turned to the leader of Dakhani Solutions who had already gotten her datapad out again and seemed to be studying it intensely. In the meantime most of the clone troopers had rappelled safely down to the group of dark jedi, a handful had stayed behind to hold off the imperials for as long as possible but the Consul knew it would only be a matter of minutes before they would be overpowered which would result in the imperials coming down after them.
“Well Director, which direction do we go?” he asked the young woman, who seemed to double-check the readings a final time before setting off in one direction. “This way!” she said, almost as an afterthought. The group followed suit with most of the clone troopers acting as the rearguard. Locke had insisted that the Consul stay in the center of the group for protection, even if he didn’t really need it. Locke himself had taken point together with Izanami, his AXM-50 at the ready.
The group walked for quite a while, it was difficult to sense the passage of time in the catacombs, the only light came from helmet or blaster mounted units and several times along the way they had to stop and prepare for one imminent ambush or another but no attackers were visible, the Neti was beginning to suspect that they couldn’t fully trust their force enhanced senses in this place, it felt as if the labyrinthine catacombs had been designed to specifically mislead force users. The group was sure the imperials were following them but so far they hadn’t made contact, Intel also indicated that there were Sith zombies in the catacombs but none of those had appeared so far either, so for the moment they just kept moving closer and closer to the center of Xlopora City.
Xlopora City Underground
Izanami moved lightly through the halls, unsure of what the darkness held for them. She briefly thought about using her saber to light their way, but decided against it as she halted the group suddenly. From further down the corridor, the young Archpriestess heard the sounds of hurried footfalls. She listened intently in the gloom, looking about sharply as her eyes slowly became accustomed to the lack of light.
“Kairus,” the girl murmured softly, “lead us forward slowly. Locke, you’re behind him. Consul, you will be next, with Jade and myself protecting the rear flank.”
The group quietly nodded assent as everyone took their positions. The quintet and their diminished collection of clone troopers made their way down the corridor and into a large, dimly lit expanse. The footfalls still echoed in Izanami’s ears as she urged them forward from the hallway. As soon as they were clear from the bottlenecked passage, she spoke swiftly.
“Troopers, form a tight perimeter and keep us posted of any movement. Locke, make sure your weapon is ready; we may need you to clear a path. Kairus, you’ve got Locke’s back. Assist him in the termination of anything that comes close to us. Malik, you’re with Jade. Take a position near the center of the circle with her. Is everyone clear?”
As one, the group nodded again and swiftly took up their positions before moving out. Moving cohesively, they stealthily made their way across the room, still listening for the footsteps they kept hearing. It was not long before they found themselves caught between a group of sith zombies on one side and Imperial troopers on the other.
“Well,” remarked Kairus, “we found the source of the footsteps.”
Izanami shot her chief of security a withering glance that spoke novels as she pulled her slugthrowers from her belt.
“Thanks for the update,” she retorted acerbically. “That thought never even crossed my mind.”
A single glance from the Neti silenced them. “There is no time for that.”
The rebuke stung the Dakhani duo. Izanami responded almost meekly, “Yes, Lord Consul.”
No sooner had the words left her mouth than the two groups surged towards them. One held primitive, deadly weapons whilst the other held modern, deadlier weapons. The Dark Jedi were caught between two hard places and they felt like a rock would be nicer.
"No time, indeed," Locke muttered. He double-checked the AXM-50; it was still set on the micro-grenade launcher function.
"Who wants what?" Kairus asked.
"Sabers fight Imps, blasters to zombies," Malik said. "If one of those bites you, you're one of them." He could have been talking about the weather.
Locke didn't question how the Neti knew what he said. Locke and Izanami turned to face the way they had come, joined by a couple of the surviving clonetroopers. In the palpable quagmire of the dark side that permeated the catacombs, Locke had barely an inkling that Kairus and Jade were turning toward the stormtroopers. Content that they would do their jobs, Locke focused on his immediate task.
The Sith zombies came lumbering down the hallway at a slow walk. Their bodies seemed to be in an advanced state of decay, as if they had been in this place for a very long time. Their hands were mostly empty, though some held ancient martial weapons. The air cracked as Izanami's dual slugthrowers fired, punctuated a moment later by the first of Locke's micro-grenades. Though the Archpriestess didn't have the best aim, the combined flurry of slugs she unleashed put down zombies at a steady rate, though they rarely stopped moving completely. Locke aimed his weapon at their feet, causing rotting muscle and sinew to explode, dropping the abominations to their stomachs. They still crawled forward, determined to reach the group of Sadowans.
"Consul! Any idea how to stop these?" Locke shouted over the din of pops and cracks, of blaster fire and lightsabers arcing through the air. He could hear something else beneath that - it almost sounded like a long chorus of groans. It was almost...mournful.
"They will not truly die unless you blow apart their heads," Malik answered, sighing. He raised one clawed hand over Locke's shoulder, palm out-stretched toward the oncoming zombies. Something seemed to shove the creatures back, beating against individuals, knocking those on their feet to the ground and those on their stomachs to their sides. The monsters clawed at the air, desperate to continue, while those who had been walking lumbered on, their limbs occasionally hanging at odd angles.
Seeing he was almost out of grenades, Locke switched his weapon to the rifle function and held down the trigger in short bursts, ensuring each one reduced one of the creature's heads to slag. Izanami did the same, aiming her twin weapons at one zombie's head in concert.
Yet, despite their efforts, the creatures kept coming. The darkness seemed to shroud an army of them.
"Back!" Malik shouted over the din.. Locke glanced over his shoulder at the sight of his Dakhani allies cutting a path through the stormtroopers. He fired a couple more bursts before turning and charging back toward them, forcing his way through the stunned stormtroopers. Locke was dimly aware of one of Malik's lightsabers flashing to life, blade cutting down any stormtrooper who got in his way. One of their clones had a large knife in hand, having lost his rifle somewhere behind them.
In another moment, the group was through the stormtroopers. They ran down a large hallway, finding themselves in a wide room, it's edges disappearing in darkness. It had branching paths in three different directions besides the one they had come from. Locke could see some kind of carved runes on the visible walls, as well as horizontal berths in them, possibly occupied by mummified bodies. The distant sound of screams, shouts, and blaster fire barely reached Locke's ears. It seemed as if the dark side presence here swallowed it, along with their light.
"I hope those don't get up, " Kairus said.
Then something groaned. Then there was another, and another, amidst the shuffling of bodies.
"You have got to be kidding me!" Locke growled. He heard someone curse.
"Above!" Izanami said, raising her slugthowers to fire directly into the skull of what looked like a zombie leaning down from some ledge above them. Part of it's skull collapsed to the floor at her feet.
"Where's the ceiling?" someone yelled.
Malik threw one of his lightsabers straight up, igniting the other at the same time. The weapon ascended for meters before it reached the peak of it's ascent. The blade cast a blood-colored hue across the walls of the room, which were covered in stirring corpses that descended toward them.
"They're everywhere!" one of the clones shouted.
Then the room devolved into chaos. Locke tossed down his rifle and ignited his lightsaber a moment later, chopping down the nearest zombie. They were among the Sadowan party now, the group spreading out to fight the new threat, which advanced on them without care for limb or life.
In that maelstrom, Locke found himself back to back with Jade. "If we stay here they will smother us, " she yelled.
Locke looked around frantically for the others, but they were lost in the sea of bodies. "Right, through that hall!" He pointed, and the two cut their way to the edge of the room, dipping inside the narrow passage. Only a few of the zombies followed, which the pair quickly cut down as they moved a few meters into the corridor.
They were about to turn back to the main room when an explosion resounded from that direction, blurring the hall in dust. When it cleared, the passage was blocked by the ruined ceiling of the hallway, parts having collapsed and formed a wall of rubble.
Well, now what? Locke thought, looking toward Jade. He wondered what she would do in this situation.
Jade waved some dust from in front of her face, coughing as she expelled it from her lungs. She looked behind her at their entrance way...well what was left of it. "Spice!" She turned off her saber and put her hands on her hips. "Well...let's see if we can't get back to the others this way." Even as she said it he had a sneaking suspicion that it wasn't going to work...no...was that a whisper in her mind that it wasn't? She shook her head, that was impossible. She looked at Locke who did the same thing and he couldn't help but wonder if maybe it was something more than dust and the occasional rock and debris shifting to the ground from their blocked entrance.
Locke looked at the rubble pile and shrugged, it was worth a try. But as they both used the force to try and move some bigger pieces it was like they were magnetically sealed to where they had landed. Odd, Locke thought. They both moved towards the pile, Locke grabbing one of the smaller boulders but it didn't budge. Jade tried kicking a smaller piece out of the way but it just stayed. She frowned and looked at him. He spoke first, "Something tells me we aren't going to get out the same way we got in."
Jade was tempted to ask if he heard something too, but didn't want to seem paranoid when he was more than likely pointing out the obvious. "Ya..." she looked around the hallway, it seemed slightly smaller in the darkness then it had when they had run into it. "Least this place doesn't smell like dead zombie!" She waved more dust out of the air around her and looked at the ruble pile. "Let's just hope the others used the explosion to their advantage."
Locke nodded, "So, I repeat...what now?"
Jade smiled and looked down the hallway, "Well...I say we go this way."
"Considering it's the only way left...I'd say that was a great plan." She laughed and the two started down the hallway. Locke took point but not by much, each watching each other's back as they moved as a team through the hallway. He was concerned as he moved, as whenever he reached out with the force it was more like he was sending out high pitched echo frequencies as the force felt like it just bounced off the walls back at him. He suddenly wished he were more bat like and could figure out what the echo location was telling him...he was certain it would be a key to something...but what.
Jade looked at the walls as they walked, what at first seemed carved out and executed perfectly was turning into something older...really carved out. She was tempted to run a hand along the walls, having a feeling they may feel as though they were carved out with a saber...or some other tool like it, but decided against it. Suddenly Locke stopped and she nearly ran into him, stopping just inches from him and taking a step back.
"Which way do you want to go?" He pointed his saber hand towards the right tunnel, wishing he hadn't tossed his rifle back in the main cavern before they ducked into the hallway. "Left..." he motioned then to the left, "Or right?"
Both Kraths felt an eerie chill creep up their spine and whisper against their neck. Jade looked at Locke, her eyebrows furrowing, her violet eyes almost glowing. He just looked at her and moved his saber towards the left, as though the force, or even the strange whispers that she swore had to be all in her mind, had guided it. She shrugged and nodded.
Locke looked at her, he had no idea why she was just nodding, it wasn't as though they could just walk through the middle, they had to pick a way. He felt a darkness surround him and move up his spine. Jade started to move past him and he looked towards his hand...it now pointed towards the left tunnel. As he watched her shimmy into the dark as though she were floating and not really walking, he started to think that maybe the darkness had been her. Maybe she had moved his hand to point to the left. Maybe she was leading him into a trap...no...couldn't be...he lowered his hand and quickly caught up to her.
The whispers got stronger, toying with their senses. Every time they reached out with the force it just bounced back and gave the whispers energy to get stronger. They hated walking in the dark, blinded from the force, or at least by something that muted it. Neither of them wanting to admit it to the other. Locke still not entirely sure Jade wasn't going to murder and torture him for his betrayal to Macron. Jade not sure if Locke was trying to toy with her senses. After all he had asked her what to do next. Maybe he just wanted her to think he was innocent in all this.
The force sprang through her and she dropped to the floor, shocked at the sudden intensity. Locke watched as Jade disappeared into the shadows at their feet, moving out the way, just as a wooden spear shot past his leg. Jade glared up at him from the ground...He had avoided that far to easily...had he somehow planned that? Locke looked down at her and followed her with his eyes as Jade pushed herself off the ground and regained her balance. She moved like a stealthy predator. Quick, agile, stalking even the darkness itself. And what had made her move so quickly to get out of the way of the spear? He knew his force abilities were heavily dampened by the hallway, surely hers would be to...How did she know to duck?...or did she just go for cover as a ruse and shoot the spear at him? He would have to keep an eye on her.
The two kept walking down the hallway, though in silence, each one feeling a strange pull to keep going, while when they had started out watch each other's backs, were now focused on protecting their own...from each other.
Locke froze as he felt a click and a hiss...was it a saber? Was it Jade activating hers to take revenge on him in the bitter darkness? Jade turned to face him as if sensing the same thing. Both of them igniting their sabers in defense and looking at each other. But as the blades sparked to life, both Kraths were left tucking and rolling for cover as the blades ignited some gas coming from the walls. It burned hot and seeped from the walls. They looked at each other from the ground.
"How did you manage this?!" Locke looked at her, his saber in a position to guard his body as he moved into a crouching position.
"What do you mean, how could I manage this?!" She stood but crouched a bit, as the flames moved unnaturally from crawling in whips across the ground to climbing up the walls and hovering above their heads. It didn't occur to either of them that at any time they could be doused in a rain of fire. No, right now they were locked onto each other. The whispers growing stronger the more they tried to use the force to sense each other's reaction and have it move their own bodies and sabers to either attack or defend. "It wasn't like I came to Xlopora City before we all landed and set this all up!"
"Well it wasn't like that fountain was built with any precision or effort in time. You could have come here and planned this. Though maybe you had hoped to trap the Consul in here with you instead of his Black Guard!" He made a motion towards her, bringing his saber up. The effort caused the flames to grow brighter and hotter. Both Kraths feeling as though the air were being sucked out from around them.
"Are you on Spice?! I'm a Daughter of Sadow! Like I'd do anything to hurt the Clan...or the Brotherhood for that matter!" Jade moved out of the way of his attack, her back towards where they had just come, the two switching positions.
Locke didn't like this one bit. He suddenly started to feel trapped. The fire above him crackling like it was eating through wood, yet there was nothing there for it to be burning through. The air around him was tick...though not with smoke...no it felt more like it was all being used up in the fire and there would be none left for them to breath. But what he really didn't like was that his back was now against a wall, and Jade now had the ability to back out and run down the hall in an easy escape. He sent a surge through the force to try and regain air and force her to switch positions once again. But as he did, the strange whispers grew stronger. He bet she had a hand in them, she had to. Her and her dark predatory ways. "Or maybe that's what you want us to believe?! Maybe you are in on this whole thing and had this trap laid for us, expecting an easy escape!" He tucked and rolled towards her, forcing her to jump over him as he rolled under her feet and turned to face him, giving him the advantage of an easy escape...wait...escape?...but they had been walking down a hallway...why had he suddenly felt like his back had been up against a wall like they had just entered a room?...it didn't matter. The whispers wrapped around him and he raised his blade. He'd kill her if he needed to.
Jade jumped over him as he rolled towards her, his saber primed to do maximal damage as he did so. As she landed her eyes narrowed and burned in the bright light of the fire. She did her best to slow her breathing, it was getting harder and harder to catch her breath. He had to be nuts. "You are insane!" Her eyes hurt in the fire, why was it glowing brighter?! She swung her blade into a defensive position and felt heat rise above her head. She wanted to look up, but she didn't dare risk taking her eyes off Locke. She guessed flames were dangling just above her head like they were his. She noticed that each time he attacked or defended in the force the flames moved down towards him like an orchestrated stalactite, so figured she must have that too. Wait...every time they used the force?... Her eyes dared to move from him to a corner near him..there was a door, it was slowly closing behind them trapping them in. "Turn your saber off!" She yelled at him.
Locke laughed, "Now I think you must be insane! Like I'm going to let down my weapon against you!"
Jade was enraged and felt the fire practically swirl around her, tempting her to use it and throw it at him, engulfing the Krath in the deadly flames. Something was even telling her to do it. She swallowed and did her best to keep the anger inside of herself, letting the fire burn inside rather than out...she could use the power it gave her later on. "I'm serious!" She watched as the door was now at about his shoulder blades. She turned off her blade and clipped it to her side.
"Stupid move." He looked at her and charged. Jade sprang forward, using both her momentum and his as she kicked out with her back feet, hitting him in the middle of his body, forcing him backwards. They flew out of the cavern. Lockes saber swigging out to the side as he was hit unexpectedly, flying backwards.
Jade rolled over and watched as the door slammed down onto the ground. Locke coughed and looked towards her, bringing his saber up from his side to protect his body, but saw her looking at a wall...oh crap, it had been a trap. He was ready to blame her again but this time it was different. Like the whispers that had been in his mind telling him she had planned it all, were gone...no...faded like the force had been. Jade sat on her knees and looked at him. Seeing he wasn't going to attack she stood up and dusted herself off. "I think we should go right."
Locke looked at the door against and then stood up. "Agreed." As they headed back the way they had come, to take the other fork in the road, he couldn't help but kick himself for his earlier thoughts. He should have seen it was trap long before she sucker kicked him, forcing him out of it. He was more skilled in battle then that. What had managed to make him see differently than normal? Why had he been so sure she was about to take revenge on him...or even betray her own Clan? Hell, he should have seen it coming the moment he thought she had shot the spear at him.
It didn't matter he couldn't figure out how she would have gotten the wooden spear at the time, but it did now. He looked at her as they neared the opening of the left fork, they were going to have to be more careful.
The Templar rubbed the back of his head where debris had struck him after the explosion. He looked up, the only direction he figured the charge could have come from and pondered who set the damn thing off. On the other hand, he did notice for the time being that there was a wall between him and the dead sith, but unfortunately his whole team as well. Had someone in their own ranks intentionally separated them, or was this the plan of another power at work?
“Hello”, was all he tried as his voice echoed back to him, the rock packed far too tight to allow sound through. Realizing if he did try to break through the rubble, nothing but a horde of undead awaited him anyways so he turned to the opposite direction. The sapphire hue of his lightsaber revealed the entrance to a dark corridor, the light barely penetrating the thick, almost suffocating darkness. He weighed his options as he approached the corridor; keeping the blade ignited would give his position away, but proceeding blind seemed like a poor tactical decision.
Kairus kept track of each foot step as he slowly advanced down the corridor, “…1,075, 1,076”, he noted mentally. Several other things were also racing through his mind which only added to his unnerving situation. First, this corridor was unnaturally straight, no turns, no angles, just a straight line. Second, at any moment the next step could set off a trap, revealing more zombies or worse. Malik’s words echoed in his memory, “If one of those bites you, you’re one of them.” Finally, Izanami was now without her head of security. He knew perfectly well she could defend her own, however these catacombs were hardly “normal circumstances”, and he took it as a personal failure the he wasn’t by her side.
The Obelisk could hardly believe when the blue hue began to reflect off a wall further ahead. He approached what looked like a chamber and as far as he could tell there was no going forward from this point. He could not sense danger upon reaching the entrance, so holding his breath he quickly stepped into the chamber. The moment his first foot touched the ground four giant braziers hanging from the ceiling roared to life with bright orange flames.
It did not take long for Kairus to access the purpose of this chamber. In the middle rest an alter about 3 meters in length. The back wall had elaborate pictures painstakingly carved into them, no doubt telling the story of the room. A man in very ceremonious looking garb held a knife above another man tied to the alter. He muttered one word, “Sacrifice”, as he surveyed the rest of the room. Under each brazier against the wall was a statue of a man, closely resembling the one that was depicted tied to the alter. Each had a different weapon and slightly different pose, but their faces were identical. He walked around the alter and lying on the ground was a knife that looked similar to the one depicted on the etched wall. Holding the knife he walked back around the alter and sighed, “I hope this is what you’re looking for”, as he pushed the blade into the palm of his left hand and let the blood drip.
Much to his astonishment, a small coffer opened from the alter at his feet. Inside was a cylindrical stone with writing he could not translate etched into its face. Taking the stone from its resting place, the coffer snapped shut, and a doorway in the middle of the etched wall opened. At the same time the four statues spun in place, revealing four tombs that each had a sith zombie waiting in them. Kairus stowed the stone in his belt and vaulted the alter, igniting his saber once more and turning around as he made it to the doorway. These four would not be following him to whatever lie ahead.
Locke shook his head as he looked away from Jade. The dark side had been oppressive on most of the worlds they had visited during the Crusade, but Bosthirda was different. First there were the Sith revenants and now some voice seemed to speak to them. There was something more going on here. The Krath could feel the dark side pressing in on his mind. His temples pounded with pain as he struggled to suppress thoughts he knew could not be his own. It didn't help that the only light now came from their emergency glow rods.
Jade is not the enemy here.
True, she was Macron's apprentice, but Locke knew that his recent words and thoughts had not come from himself. He wouldn't usually speak that way. It was as if the dark side was piercing his mind and trying to reshape it. He had to hold it together somehow.
The next room they entered was quite different. It was a large hall, with a vaulted ceiling far above them. For a moment, Locke expected to be attacked by zombies again, but this time there was only silence. Flanking the long hall were life-size statues, seemingly of Jedi or Sith of different species. Locke could pick out humans, Twi'leks, Bith, Chiss, and even pureblood Sith. The two Krath cautiously passed beyond the statues, approaching the exit from the room.
Before they left, Jade stopped, gesturing at a nearby statue of an elderly human Jedi. "Is that a real lightsaber in it's hand? What's with that cord coming from it?"
Locke looked at what she shined her glowrod by. The lightsaber seemed to have a long cord leading up to a pack on the back of it. "Odd, " he said. Only one or two others had the same piece of equipment. Many of the statues were holding swords or other ancient martial weapons, similar to what the zombies had used.
"We should continue, though." Just as Locke turned back toward the doorway, an iron gate slid shut across it, trapping them in the room.
Locke heard Jade curse, followed by the sound of a lightsaber igniting. He spun around, finding that Jade had dropped her glowrod and stepped back from the statue they had been looking at. It's lightsaber was ignited, a pale blue blade illuminating the area. Locke shivered as it's head turned to regard him with expressionless, stone eyes.
"Oh, nine hells…" Jade ignited her lightsaber, parrying as the statue stepped down from it's pedestal and attacked her. Locke heard the sound of stone grating on stone in the darkness beyond. More of the statues must have been active, but he saw no other lightsabers.
"I'll get the others, " Locke said, sliding past Jade and the human statue. He ignited his own weapon, blade erupting like a solar flare in deep space.
"Come on," he muttered, forcing thoughts of Jade from his mind. She was not the enemy, the enemy was ahead. Whatever it was. Breathing deeply, Locke made himself perform the Makashi salute. It was not for any concept of honor in this situation; he merely used it as a tool to prepare for battle.
Two statues lumbered out of the darkness, one of a twi'lek, the other a pureblood Sith. The first carried what looked like a long-handled axe of some sort, the other a longsword.
As the pureblood attacked, Locke flicked his wrist, seeking to chop the blade in two. He was startled when plasma met steel, sparks showering. Reeling in surprise, Locke was forced to duck a wide, incoming swing from the other's axe. The weapons must have been laced with cortosis. Locke had heard of such on the other worlds they had visited, though this was the first time he had had to go up against such weapons himself.
Backing away until the statues were on the edge of his limited vision, the Krath thought about calling on the Force, but stopped himself. As much as he hated to admit it, Locke was terrified of the dark side on this world. What would it do to him if he tried to use it to augment his own abilities?
Instead, Locke tried to attack the Sith. Before he could get near, the Epis had to sidestep and backpedal to avoid a sweeping horizontal slash from the Twi'lek, the axe smashing into another statue and shattering it into hundreds of pieces. As it was, Locke would never be able to engage with them both coming after him; that axe prevented him from engaging the Sith, and likewise he could not be safe inside the Twi'lek's reach with the Sith's sword there. Locke continued to retreat, finding himself near the dueling Jade and the human statue.
She looked over her shoulder for a brief moment, teeth reflecting even in the dim light. "Trade," she said.
"Sure," Locke agreed. In one quick movement he backed away from all three statues, Jade crossing in front of him, her second lightsaber blinking into existence as she danced into position in front of the two Locke had been fighting. The Bakuran had just a moment to watch as Jade used her momentum and both lightsabers to shove the Twi'lek's axe away for a brief moment, giving her enough time to go on the offensive. In a flurry of violet streaks the Daughter of Sadow pushed the Sith pureblood back away from it's companion.
That was all Locke saw before he blocked an overhand strike from his human opponent. He could tell Jade was deep in the dark side. She evidently had no problem taking advantage of the intense aura of this place. Focusing on the human-like statue before him, Locke deflected it's strikes, finding this fight almost easy by comparison to the previous one. The statue's blade seemed to be thin and fragile, as if it's powerpack was fading and nearly ready to wink out. Locke pressed the attack, blade pointed up, pushing the statue's to the side, using it's own momentum against it to make it overextend.
That brief opening allowed Locke the chance to spin his own weapon's hilt and strike with a downward cut, slicing the cable connecting the statue's lightsaber to the power pack on it's back in half. It's blade instantly winked out, but the statue charged at Locke. He smiled grimly, side-stepping and decapitating the statue. It collapsed to the ground, the head shattering as it hit the ground.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Locke turned toward Jade and the others. Her flowing movements and aggressive strikes had separated the two statues to a fair distance. Locke leaped in behind Jade as she spun, ducking under the Twi'lek's axe, the tips of her blade grazing it as she did so. Locke attacked the Sith, coherent energy beam meeting ancient cortosis-weave blade. There was an almost constant flurry of sparks as Locke attacked, parried, and counterattacked. This statue seemed much more skilled than the human one had been. More, it seemed to use Makashi as well, proving a difficult opponent for Locke.
It seemed the fight would come down to swordsmanship. Locke didn't know how the statue became skilled, but he drew on what he had learned from his mentors and those he had faced in the Brotherhood. He remembered a few key lessons from Shikyo Keibatsu, as well as his own duel against Macron Goura Sadow. Drawing on that knowledge of the Elders of the Brotherhood, Locke advanced steadily. This statue was good, but the Krath had the knowledge of one of the most long-lasting, successful, and powerful organizations of dark side practitioners on his side. If he could not bring himself to drink of the dark side aura of this place, Locke would draw on their knowledge. He had to win this duel, and by right he would.
Fueled by his newfound confidence, Locke found his second wind. The statue attacked from an angle down toward the ground, flicking it's weapon at the last moment to come horizontally from the other side. Then Locke saw his chance - an opening in the statue's movements. It thought only of attack, not guarding it's vitals as well as a living opponent who valued them might. That was the Epis' chance. Almost chuckling, Locke realized it was a paradox; he would have to act the same way to exploit that opportunity.
Snarling, Locke struck, overextending his own arm, blade stabbing toward the next of the statue. The Krath threw his free hand out wide, stretching out his body behind his own weapon, the statue's counterattack coming ever nearer to Locke's midsection as time seemed to slow to a crawl. The Epis closed his eyes. His life was in the hands of the Force now.
Then he heard the sound of metal clattering against stone. Locke opened his eyes and stumbled forward. He had been completely exposed for moments, but the statue's decapitated body had dropped it's weapon before it could hurt the Krath.
Sweating, Locke looked toward the light of Jade's weapons. He didn't dare get between her and the axe-wielding Twi'lek.
Teeth bared in what might have been a grin or a snarl, Jade deftly leaped away from the statue's axe, diving forward a moment later, blades spinning as she somersaulted and rolled by her opponent's legs, just close enough for one of her weapons to graze a stone ankle. The statue stumbled for a moment, swinging the axe back around in an attempt to cleave the Krath in two as she dived out of the way.
Locke winced, thinking the battle might be over as the statue brought it's axe straight down toward Jade's body, but that gave her the time to roll out of the way and come up to a crouch, narrowly avoiding the statue's attack.
She surged upward, inside the statue's defenses, lightsabers scissoring across it's chest. In one swift motion they rose and separated, slicing the statue's neck apart. As it fell and collapsed, Jade ignored it almost contemptuously.
"What now?" Locke breathed.
"We have to find a way out of this room," Jade said.
Jade disengaged her lightsaber and took a breath. Flicking her head, she tossed a piece of hair out off her face, and back over her shoulder. Even though they had just been fighting living statues, she felt empowered. The Darkside was truly strong here, and she wanted more. She took another breath...if she wasn't careful she could see it easily taking control of her mind, as it had already tried to do back in the other cavern. She walked up to the iron gate, as her hand reached out to touch it she noticed a strange marking on the metal. "Hey Locke..."
"Ya?" He moved closer, seeing her crouching down.
"Hold your glowrod up here." As he moved his hand and shone the light over the spot she showed him, they both saw an odd shape... yet it was strangely familiar. "I swear I saw something just like this not long ago." She ran her fingers over the shape, as if feel would jog her memory.
"You did." Locke agreed, turning from the fence and moving back to the rubble of broken statues. Kicking a piece out of his way he picked up the longsword the Sith pureblood had been holding. He blew some dust off of it. Sometimes it paid to be so battle trained you recognised every detail, even after the fight. "The statue was holding it." He saw Jade turn around and grin, her pointy teeth reflecting in the glowrod.
"Excellent!" She moved quickly and took the sword from him and moved back to the fence.
Locke was about to follow her when something caught his eye. It was shiny, or at least it reflected in the light of the glowrod when he moved his hand just right. Looking down he kicked at the ruble to find it again.
Jade placed the longsword in the hole on the fence and it shuddered. A grinding sound echoed in the room as the fence slid back to where it came from. "Well...I hate to say it, but...that was rather...easy...don't you think?" She turned back to face Locke and saw him digging at the mess they had made. "What is it?"
Locke stood back up and held a piece of stone in his hand, he looked at her. "I'm not sure...I just caught it as I was turning to go."
Jade walked up to him and shone her glowrod on it as he held it in his hand. An oval shaped stone, carved with time and dignity was in his palm. "That came from the statue?"
"I think so," he rolled it in his hand and both of them caught the symbols on the back of it. He looked at her, "Sith..."
Jade looked at him and they both shone their light past where the fence had been. Oh sure, she just had to be right. Beyond the simple gate was a rock wall, smooth and strong, standing in their way. Obviously someone wanted whoever was in this room to really have to be worthy to get out of it. "This could be interesting." They took the stone up to the wall and waved the rods back and forth.
The wall had fairly straight edges, but it held three interesting oval holes, each with lettering beside them. Jade stepped closer and ran her hand over one of the phrases, wiping off some the dirt and dust time had put there.
"It's Sith alright...and it figures it has to be High Sith." She looked over her shoulder at Locke who brushed dirt off one of the other phrases. "You remember much of your High Sith from studies?"
"Bit and pieces...it's not like I use it that often." Locke suddenly regretted not spending more time looking at old scrolls.
"It's a good thing for you I had a master who was into alchemy." She shot him a look. Locke knew she was talking about Macron...should he worry? "And that I spent a lot of time sneaking into his lab to gain more knowledge." She smirked. "Still not sure how I survived doing that." Locke was surprised...was Jade maybe taking his side after his battle with Macron? Or maybe she was just reminding him how lucky he was to still be breathing himself. "Still...I'm not overly versed in it."
"Great." He shone the light over the wall again and held up the stone. "Looks like we are missing a couple other stones."
"Here," She walked up to him to take the stone. "See if the other two statues have the other ones, since the Sith did, it only makes sense, right?" Locke nodded. "I'll see if I can start figuring this out."
Locke nodded and moved back towards the statues. His glowrod making eerie shadows he wasn't too sure wouldn't be the next to come alive. Despite the fact that zombies awaited them in the main chamber, he had to admit, he was looking forward to fighting something that was alive, at least in some sense of the word. And seeing what the others had found. He kicked over a rock and found another stone. "Found one!" He heard Jade whispering to herself before she answered.
"If I remember right, this stone should mean strength..." she turned towards him. "Great! I think I'm figuring this out."
Locke hoped so, though he would add what he remembered, he wasn't sure it would be enough to get him out of the cavern...what he wouldn't give for a thermal detonator...He looked back down, shining the glowrod and heading over to where Jade had destroyed the Twi'lik. As he moved some pieces with his boots and was tempted to move more with the force, he wondered how far Jade was letting the dark side touch her here. Was she using it to help her with the ruins like she had with the statues? They had both fallen prey to it back in the fire cavern...could she fall deeper and maybe end up mad like her former master? His boot kicked over a piece of the twi'lik that he swore use to be an eye, the emptiness staring at him, taunting him. He was tempted to destroy it, but just then noticed the other stone. Saying a small battle prayer he headed back to Jade.
When Locke got to the wall he saw Jade had cleaned off all three of the phrases. She looked at him. "I think..."she pointed to the stones in his hand. "We have to find something that matches, or fits, with the phrases." She held up the stone he had found first. "This stone says Tyûk, which means strength." She pointed to the phrase Locke had brushed off before leaving to find the other two stones. "And if I remember right, I believe that Châtsatul nyu midwan is gaining power, or that I gain power."
"Fitting for a Sith."
Jade smiled and nodded. "So it's possible this stone could fit here."
"Great," Locke took the stone and headed to put it in the hole. Jade gasped and used the force to snatch it out of his hand, whispers started to swirl around her as she did. Locke looked at her. "What are you doing?!"
"After everything we just went through, you sure you want to just stick it in there?!" Locke faced her. "I'm betting if we get this wrong, we get more unwanted surprises."
She had a point. "Ok, let's lay them on the ground in front of where we think they should go first, that way we can double check."
"Good idea." She placed the stone on the ground in front of the wall.
Locke looked at one of the stones in his hand. "Hmmm, I think..and I could be wrong, but doesn't Jiaasjen have something to do with shadows?"
Jade looked at the wall as he spoke, trying to think of what shadows could do with it. "I think it means something like assimilate shadows."
"Ok...so what would shadows have to do with gaining power?" Locke looked confused. He hated puzzles, though loved to study them at the same time. They could hold some very interesting battle strategies or history that he could learn from, but so far, this puzzle wasn't providing him with any battle tactics.
Jade laughed. "Nothing...but I think..."She ran a hand over the group of letterings in front of her. "Well I think, Hoyakut is something like dead or death, and Tsaiwinokka means to resurrect or reanimate."
"Considering our zombie friends we left behind, that could make sense."
"Haha, true...and considering the darkside is flowing all over this place, I'm guessing that shadows of some sort are used to make those zombies come back." She said it more like a question, hoping Locke would agree.
Locke looked at the wall then back over his shoulder at the ruble. A few moments ago, while searching through the stones, he could have sworn the shadows were going to come to life on him, so why not? "Sure." He shrugged.
Jade placed the stone on the ground in front of the wall. "Well that's not very reassuring."
Locke just shrugged, he didn't know what to say. "Ok, what about this one?" He held the stone up and looked it over... Midwan...Doesn't that mean power?"
Jade nodded and they both looked up at the last phrase. It was one they knew well, and likely one of only very few they would never need a translator for. Dzworokka yun; nyâshqûwai, nwiqûwai. Wotok tsawakmidwanottoi, yuntok hyarutmidwanottoi, or Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody power, the other to crave it. They both looked at each other. Locke placed the stone on the ground in front of the wall.
"Shall we?" He looked at all the rocks then picked up the one representing power. As a fighter, he loved the idea of power, and holding the ancient ruin seemed perfect. Locke put the stone in the hole and twisted it so it was in place. Dust circled around them as the wall shook. They only hopped that was a good sign.
Jade picked up the stone at her feet. Assimilate shadows...somehow it seemed fitting she was holding this rock. She looked at Locke then placed it in the hole, pausing before she twisted it, expecting a spear or something to fly out. The wall shook again, adding more dust and dirt. She looked down at the last rock then at Locke. "I think we should do the last one together."
Locke nodded, it did mention two after all. They both picked up the stone and holding it in front of the hole they gave each other a quick nod and then twisted it into place. The wall shook, and they felt the ground at their feet start to tremble. Oh spice! Had they been wrong? Had they put the stones in the wrong spots? Had they translated wrong? They both looked at each other, wondering if they should run or be expected to fall into a bottomless pit...but just as the rumbling started, it dissipated. They looked at the wall. New scribes were being written right in front of them, in blood red. Won Qyâsik...The Force Frees me.
The wall crumbled as they looked at the blood red message, as though it meant more to them now, then it would have before they started down the dark hallway. As they stepped through the wall, Jades' boot rolled on a cylindrical rock. She picked it up cautiously and looked at it. She handed it to Locke.
Locke looked at the symbols on it. "Looks like we aren't finished yet."
Malik tried to get his bearings after the explosion, it appeared that a Sith zombie had triggered one or more of the grenades carried by one of the clone troopers and the Neti could see no signs of Locke, Jade or Kairus, all he could see was Izanami and a few surviving troopers who were slowly getting back up after the explosion had knocked them out. The only sign of any surviving zombies was some random scattered body parts, including a mostly intact head at the Consul’s feet.
The Neti reached down and grabbed the head, lifting it up so he was looking into the dead eyes. Malik sighed and then proceeded to examine the head, the owner appeared to have been a member of the Sith species prior to being turned into a zombie, even the Warlord, as old as he was, had never seen a living Sith, as far as he knew they had been extinct since well before he had sprouted over a millennia earlier.
Malik took in some of the exceptionally potent dark side energy that seemed to permeate the city and especially the catacombs and began channeling it into the head and watched as the eyes that had been lifeless a few seconds ago began to shine with an unnatural red glow. “You do not belong here!” a voice shouted in his mind, Izanami turned her attention to the head in the Consul’s hand as well and then shot a quizzical look at the Neti. “We go where we please. Now, tell me of Revelation.” Malik said calmly, the reanimated head appeared to be considering its reply, which the Warlord found amusing since half the skull had caved in, “Revelation is not for you. Leave this place!” The Neti shook his head. “We go where we please. Reveal the secrets of this place.” This time Malik’s voice sounded more strained, almost as if he was in the middle of a fight. “You will never make it to the crypt where Revelation lies, you will die before finding the keys.” The head laughed, “Enough!” Malik yelled as he crushed the head with the Force.
Izanami looked once more at the Consul who now looked exhausted, “I suppose we should get to work finding those keys then, she said.
Malik nodded, “Lead the way Archpriestess.”
Izanami looked around the dimly lit room taking account of what it held for them. The corridor before them was dimly lit by the glowrod in her hands. The young Archpriestess looked at the Neti. “Let’s see where this one leads. What’s the worst that can happen?”
She silently cursed herself as soon as the words escaped from her mouth. Of course everything would turn to utter hell now that those fateful words were uttered. Malik also seemed to sense her unease and lightly touched her shoulder. “You know, this reminds me of another adventure from long before you were born…”
The Neti’s words trailed off in Izanami’s mind as his droning seemed to distract her from the imminent horrors that lurked beyond the gloom. Her glowrod led them down the corridor which, after what seemed like days of walking, led them into a well-lit, expansive cavern. Her eyes darted along the walls, scanning the surfaces of each. She briefly wondered how the rest of her team was getting on when the sounds of rushed footfalls entered the room around them.
Izanami was shaken from her thoughts to find that nearly a full platoon of Imperial troopers had surrounded her and Malik. “Stang,” she muttered darkly.
Izanami dropped her glowrod and adroitly drew her slugthrowers as Malik’s lightsabers ignited once more. The two stood almost back to back, each looking at one half of the room. She looked over her shoulder at Malik and frowned. They had been caught seemingly unaware in their desire to figure out their location.
She turned back towards the soldiers in front of her with a wicked smile. A rune on the wall caught her attention and the young woman called it to the Neti’s attention. They turned as one looking at the soldiers surrounding them until Malik could see the symbol.
“Power,” he read, “this is one of the test chambers. I think we need only be the last ones standing in the end.”
The Krath staggered at the words and barely caught herself. Her voice urgent and almost scared, “You think?!”
The Neti nodded slightly, preparing his blades for combat. The girl mimicked his movements, armed with the ballistic firepower of her slugthrowers. She steeled herself against the coming storm as both of the Sadowans smiled darkly. The remaining Sadow troopers rushed into the room, carving a swath in the ranks of the enemy. Chaos erupted around the Dark Jedi once again, only this time their foes were living and not living dead. Live enemies were much easier to kill.
Izanami surged forward, firing several shots at one of the intact clusters of Imperials. Her rounds each found a different target, knocking them from their feet. They moved only slightly on the ground as the girl continued to move on nimble feet. The Neti had launched one of his sabers at a group and was busy chasing them down with the Force-controlled blade.
The troopers continued to use whatever weapons they had left on the enemy forces. One swung his empty rifle like a club while others used vibroblades to ensure quick kills with gory effect. Troopers on both sides were falling to the ground dead or dying, as the two Dark Jedi moved in a bizarre dance among the remaining forces.
The girl’s luck was indeed working with her for quite some time until a trooper fired his weapon shortly before the Sith’s saber sliced him in twain. The stray round caught the Archpriestess solidly in the shoulder, burning through clothing and flesh before scoring deeply onto Izanami’s rotator cuff. A cry of pain elicited from her lips as her arm became dead weight at her side and her weapon fell from numb fingers.
She turned as she fell, firing blindly at a crowd and mowing down Sadow and Imperial troops alike. Her vision turned red as she rose to a killing field in her own mind and managed to ignore the searing pain in her left shoulder, even if only temporarily. She dropped her remaining firearm and drew her saber, moving in to quickly dispatching the remaining forces.
Malik worked in tandem with the girl, moving as swiftly as he could to keep up with the lithe young human. His blades worked an intricate dance of death as he also carved his way through imperial troopers.
In the end, both of the Dark Jedi were covered from head to toe with gore and other viscera and the room shuddered around them. The blood ran from the corpses to the center of the room where it coagulated into several large, shallow divots. The two watched attentively, on guard for anything else that might attempt an ambush. The room continued to shudder as one of the walls opened to reveal a dimly lit doorway.
Izanami looked at her companion and shrugged with her only working shoulder, “I think we passed.”
Malik blinked at her once and shook his head, “You think?”
The young Krath smiled wanly as she walked over to retrieve her lost firearms. The sounds of a dying Sadow trooper caught her attention, calling her to the side of the young man. His breathing was ragged and his face deathly pale.
“I-I don’t want to die,” began the trooper, his voice weak from blood loss.
Izanami touched his chest lightly and called on the Force, channeling healing energies into him, “Then don’t.”
The trooper’s wounds began to heal as Malik approached quietly, “You will stay behind and guard this entrance, soldier. We are depending on you to protect our rear flank. Find as many explosives as you can on the deceased and prepare them as a trap on each entrance. Seal the tunnels if you must.”
The trooper nodded as an increasingly weary Izanami pulled her hand away, allowing the final knitting of flesh to take place. She looked up at Malik and nodded, “Let’s be on our way then, Consul.”
The Neti responded in kind with a slight nod, “Right behind you, Director.”
The girl moved toward the doorway and stopped to look at a strange cylinder resting on the pillar support around the entryway, “That looks important.”
Izanami picked up the object and felt centuries of rage and hatred inside of it. She looked down the hallway and headed off with Malik in tow.
Having dispatched the four guardians of the sacrifice chamber, Kairus made his way to the corridor that had opened before him when he took the cylindrical stone. He was somewhat uncomfortable has he walked yet another hallway. Everything was so…linear, no turns and seemingly perfect construction, this place was designed for something very important.
Ahead he could see faint light coming from a small opening. Stowing his saber on his belt he approached slowly so his eyes could adjust to the provided lighting. His desire for change was immediately answered as he crossed the threshold of the doorway. The new chamber was huge in comparison to the last. The room he noticed was spherical in nature, adorned with many of the same statues he had encountered earlier. In the middle resided a structure he was quite familiar with, it was an obelisk, but highly decorated and adorned with the same symbols as the stone cylinder he now hold in his hand.
“So, we actually did find the resting place of Revelation.”
Examining the stone carefully the Templar tried to match the symbols on his stone to those on Revelation’s resting place. Unfortunately a greater understanding of the ancient language was needed, and Kairus just didn’t possess that knowledge.
“Where’s a fraken Krath when you actually need one”, he said out loud as he continued looking at his stone.
“Ask and you shall receive”, rang through the chamber as Kairus swiveled on his heel to come face to face with a smiling Locke and Jade. He didn’t know what made him angry more, the laugh at his expense or the fact that he was concentrating so hard on a language he knew he didn’t know that he was ambushed by the two Krath. Locke noticed the Templar’s anger and tried to diffuse the situation, “We’re sorry Kairus, given what’s gone on around here that wasn’t appropriate. We have run into this language previously and were somewhat successful in interpreting the symbols, if I may”, as he gestured for the cylinder. Kairus sighed heavily, but gladly handed over the stone as Jade joined Locke and they began interpreting the symbols.
Still somewhat angry he walked away from the two jabbering scholars. He decided to stretch his senses out a bit, not wanting to be caught unaware again. He heard Jade say something like “still need another one.” Sensing two presences Kairus smiled slightly and in a confident boast shouted, “Ask and you shall receive”, while pointing towards another doorway. The two Krath looked to where the Templar was pointing and were relieved to see Izanami and Malik enter the chamber.
Malik looked around in the room he had just entered, first noticing that the other Sadowans appeared to be relatively unscathed. He also noticed that Locke and Jade were studying two cylindrical objects that appeared similar to the one Izanami had picked up and deduced that they were the keys they required to get to Revelation.
While Izanami walked over to her fellow Krath to help them figure out exactly what they had to do with them, the Neti set off further into the chamber, noticing the eerie emerald hue the whole chamber seemed to be bathed in from the green torch fires all around the room. He walked closer to the obelisk and the raised dais in the center of the chamber and once again felt the strange presence he had been feeling whenever he had tapped into the dark side of the force ever since they group had set foot in the catacombs, it appeared to be emanating from the statue that was set on the dais and that’s when he noticed it. In the sheath of the statue the sword once belonging to Ferran sat, his hand still grasping the pommel, withered and mummified.
The Neti reached towards the sword when he heard a faint voice in the background, “Consul, do you think that is wise?” Malik couldn’t remember who that voice belonged to, in fact he didn’t remember bringing company to this place. He was about to grab the sword when the voice called out again, “Are you alright Consul?” the old Warlord shook his head and slowly came to his senses again and turned around to see Locke looking at him worriedly.
Locke watched Malik worriedly, as did the others in their party. The sword had done something to the Neti, but the effects were currently unknown. Izanami’s eyes darted around the room, looking at the slots for the keys they had each collected. Her quick mind worked over the situation as she scanned the room and Locke approached the Consul.
“Consul…” Locke began.
“The sword is tainted,” said the Consul slowly. His cadence was slower, causing the others to worry a little more.
Kairus looked at the sword for a moment before the young Archpriestess stepped forward and leveled her slugthrower at the joints of the statue as she fired rounds into the stone. The chipping away of the surrounding area by the soft metal projectiles eventually caused both the sheath and the blade to fall to the ground.
“Lord Consul, would you be willing to carry that by the sheath only? Please refrain from touching the actual weapon,” spoke to girl softly.
Malik nodded almost covetously as he approached the weapon and cradled it gently in his arms after picking it up. He moved to stand towards the center of the room, almost as though daring someone to try and take it from him.
Izanami moved to the wall and stood at Jade’s side, her eyes looking between their Consul and the walls. Each cylinder was marked and the wall had markings that seemed to correspond with the cylinders. She sighed softly as she rolled the dice and directed Jade to the holes. The woman’s face showed understanding at the same time as the first cylinder was pulled into the recess on the wall.
The room began to rumble, causing Malik to clutch the sword tighter, as the stone face accepted the cylinders. When the third and final key was place into the wall, the room was groaning under the strain of some ancient mechanism. The floor beneath Malik began to rise as the other Dark Jedi scrambled to get on the moving platform.
They rose toward the ceiling as a large man came crashing through the corridors, his face seething with rage.
Locke was shocked as the entire floor began to shift, rising upward. Then, just as the corridor they had come in on started to fade from sight, someone leaped into the room. The dark side washed over Locke anew. Somehow, this individual radiated it's power, piercing even the already thick miasma that permeated the ruins.
The man held no lightsaber, but Locke thought he saw his lips twitch in a smile. The man raised a hand, clenched his fist, and then there was a deafening roar and terrible cracking sound as rock exploded from the walls as the room's floor continued to ascend.
"Duck!" Locke screamed. He dived for the ground just as a large section of wall soared through the space he had just occupied. Rolling onto his back, the Krath risked a glance toward the ceiling and saw nothing. At least they weren't going to be crushed.
Igniting his lightsaber, Locke came up to a crouch and looked around. He saw Malik release a telekinetic strike of his own to shatter a large stone before it could hit the Neti. He had one hand raised, the other clutching Ferran's sword.
Then a voice howled above the rumble. "The sword is mine, Dark Jedi! Drop it now!"
Locke turned toward the newcomer as he realized this man was challenging the Consul that the Krath was sworn to protect. He doubted even Malik's power could stand against this man. After a moment, Locke remembered the intelligence briefing from before the mission and the man's identity clicked into place. Esoteric!
Yelling wordlessly, Locke held his lightsaber up over his head and charged at the newcomer. There was no finesse involved - no Makashi opening. His only desire was to get the Sith Lord's attention.
Esoteric turned toward Locke with a casual grace, flicking one hand in the Krath's direction. Locke grunted as something slammed into his chest, sending him flying backward. He tumbled through the air, hitting the opposite wall hard and sagging against it.
As he coughed up blood, Locke tried to steady himself, but an unseen force soon picked him up again, hurling the Krath toward Kairus, who had just enough time to turn so Locke would not be impaled on the Obelisk's lightsaber. Their collision caused the two to go sprawling across the floor.
"Pathetic, " Esoteric said, turning to approach Malik again, who had a lightsaber ignited in his free hand.
Jade stepped up beside him as Izanami leveled her slugthrower and fired at the Sith Lord, but Esoteric responded with lightning speed, dodging the young Krath woman's shots as if to show how futile attacking him was.
Then the platform suddenly lurched to a stop. Locke looked up. He saw towering silhouettes all around them, and between those, tiny twinkles. His mind took a moment to register; those were buildings and stars. The room had taken them all the way to the surface! It's ceiling had apparently retracted under the buildings directly above it, as evidenced by the high amount of rubble surrounding them.
"Night," Kairus breathed, "it wasn't night when we went in."
"Do you not know?" Esoteric smirked. "Pitiful Dark Jedi. It has been days since your teams arrived. The catacombs are full of such tricks that might bewilder the unworthy."
"And still the sword is ours," Malik said.
"I don't think so," Esoteric replied. He raised a hand and Locke felt the dark side begin to gather.
Suddenly, the sky exploded in light. Turbolaser fire rained down on the area, indiscriminately striking the city. Structures vaporized around them. Great, glowing craters appeared in the earth. Esoteric disappeared in the fires as the team of Sadowans clustered around Locke and Kairus, who had gotten to his feet.
"The bombardment has started!" Izanami said.
"But this is oddly sporadic," Locke noted. "Normally, the entire area would have been vaporized."
"Look! Above!" Kairus said.
Locke looked where the Obelisk was pointing. He could see a ship high in the sky, dwarfed by the outline of a star destroyer further above. From this distance, the Bakuran could hardly tell, but he thought the lower ship was a Majestic - class heavy cruiser.
"Are they…" Locke began.
"They're preventing the star destroyer above from saturating this area," Malik said. He turned his comlink's volume all the way up so all of them could hear as the bombardment continued to rake it's way through the city.
"...cruiser Retribution," someone was saying, "you are in the bombardment zone. Move at once or we will not hesitate to bombard through you. Repeat, you are in the bombardment zone! Ascend to fleet position A03 or you will be fired on!"
A timid voice came back over the channel. "This is Retribution, we apologize, something must be wrong with our nav computer. Correcting now. Please give us a few moments."
"Nav computer my ass," Locke laughed. His ribs hurt like hell, but he still laughed. Someone out there had put their career, their life, and their ship on the line to save the team, even going so far as to lie to other elements of the fleet.
"Still, how do we escape?" Jade asked.
A MAAT gunship arrived moments later, descending almost straight down, settling in just over the surface a few meters from the group.
"There's your answer," Izanami said. The group jumped aboard, Malik and Kairus having to carry Locke up and settle him in the cargo bay.
Immediately afterward, Malik changed the channel on his comlink. Locke thought it must have been to the private Warhost channel. "We're on the gunship. Good work captain."
There was a click of acknowledgement before the world below exploded in fire, turbolaser blasts raining down all around them as the Retribution joined the bombardment again, firing around it's returning gunship.