Tarentum: Team 1
SBL Scion Altera
DJM Anshar Kahn Tarentae
KP Altheseus Levathan
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!!!!!!!
Whatever being had created the universe had some sick sense of humor, Anshar thought to himself as he weaved through the muddy terrain, dodging blaster fire from Imperial Stormtroopers. While Anshar had long ago adapted to wetter and cooler climates, sometimes he missed the desert of Jaguada. Or even Tatooine, even though that planet was not home. The darkening sky only threatened to unleash more rain, and more rain would only turn the already muddy ground into a quagmire. Anshar had heard of soldiers being swallowed alive by the mud on various worlds. Krath Master that he was, Anshar did not want to meet that fate. He would rather face off against one of the elders supporting the One Sith than deal with a sinkhole with an appetite.
Anshar heard a garbled “ompf” sound behind him. Half skidding, half sliding, Anshar spun around to see Saronyx and Levathan intertwined, one or the other having slipped in the mud and taking their comrade down with them and into the shadow of what once was the wall of some building, now leaning precariously on a few pillars of misshapen stones. It had not been the first slip and fall in the hour or two that the team had been planetside; all of their uniforms now came with unique camouflage patterns of mud brown.
“Hurry up!” shouted Hades angrily. “You're going to get us killed!” He lobbed some type of explosive in the general direction of the attacking forces. While perhaps a good distraction, the Imperials responded with mortars. Only quick application of Force push from Scion and Anshar prevented the explosive rounds from landing on top of them. By this time, Levathan and Saronyx had gotten back on their feet, but they remained low to the ground and behind the rubble wall. The blaster fire continued around the small squad of Tarenti, though there was a gradual shift away as counter fire could be heard coming from another direction. At the moment, no one on the Tarentum team knew who was attacking their attackers, but they did not care. It gave them the moment they needed to finally regroup and alter their plan.
“Alright, here's the deal,” said Scion. “We're on our own right now. Everything is way too hot for an extraction, and since our pilot put us way off course, I guess we can count ourselves lucky that those weren't commandos. Almost every other team is running into them, based on what the fleet relayed.”
“Sounds like the Stormies are heading to fight the conventional forces,” suggested Hades. “Like good little grunts.”
“Which also means we're a target for the commandos,” countered Scion. “Anyway, we still have a mission. Perhaps we can use our misfortune to benefit us. We're near an Arconan drop site.”
“Certainly preferable to some of the other houses,” commented Anshar. Scion produced a small holoprojector and pulled up the map of the battlefield. “Let's head to this point here, Gamma-West, and then proceed towards our objective. Let the Arconans keep the enemy busy while we make our move.” The team acknowledged with affirmative glances.
“Keep your heads down and feet firm,” advised Hades to everyone. “I don't doubt that the Stormies relayed our position for some more talented people to come find us.” The group moved out from their temporary shelter, darting along the rubble of Xlopora City outskirts.
As the team continued its trek, Saronyx glanced at Levathan out of the corner of her eye. She had been the one to slip, to cause both of them to fall. However, it had not been the mud, or a blaster shot, or anything else. It had been the voice in her head. A sweet, almost empathetic voice, that echoed in her mind. A short statement, but one of profound meaning and full of intent.
“I will guide you.”
So distracted was Saroynx by the voice that she failed to catch Levathan's own glance. Had she done so, she might have realized that he, too, had heard a voice.
Annoyed at having rolled around in the mud, avoiding blasters from storm troopers, and sneaking through the dreary rain to the accompaniment of distant explosions, Levathan decided to keep his eyes on the ground and trudge, finally having a moment to his thoughts.
What the kark was going on?
Levathan mind was filled with questions about the current situation; first they missed their drop zone, have to trudging through boot sucking mud, then getting accosted by solders almost immediately after, Imperials no less, and now an another accursed voice is speaking to him. If it wasn’t for Horizons and the half dozen other Dark Side tomb worlds he’d visited on this grinding crusade, the young Krath Priest would have sworn he’d started falling into the internal madness of his Order.
I will guide you he went over in his mind, as he followed his elders deeper into the ruins of the city.
“Guide me straight into a Sarlacc pit more like,” he said spitefully under his breath and caught a startled glance thrown at him from the Twi’lek at his side.
“What?” he asked, looking questioningly at her and realizing he had voiced his thoughts, “it’s not all that uncom-“he started to say, as he was pushed, face first, into the mud with a crushing force.
“Ambush,” Yelled Anshar, who already had his lightsaber ignited and threw Levathan to the ground, narrowly avoiding a bolt of plasma to the heart but clipping his shoulder.
Blaster bolts rained down from the ruins around them, as Anshar, Scion and Hades had all but their backs to the fallen priest whilst deflecting bolts with both lightsaber and Force, the sheer rain of plasma from elevated positions seemed to light up the atmosphere under the dark sky.
Scion, knowing they weren’t going to last like this called out, “Get in cover!” before narrowly stepping out of the path of a blot to his leg.
Saronyx roughly hauled the injured Krath a short distance through the muck and into one of the ruined buildings that was still standing, while the others followed suit, covering her all the while. Taking positions behind the wall facing the street, the blaster fire stopped immediately, leaving only the sound of rain, and the sound of labored breathing.
“Commandos,” said Hades from beside the narrow hole where a door should have been, “if they still follow Imperial spec ops training, they’ll be bringing this shack down on our heads. We might have two minutes...”
The unmistakable crackle of electricity scraped through the din of combat outside the building. A heavily modulated voice boomed like thunder following it; not with words but simply a maniacal cackle that raised the hairs on the back of Scion's neck. He couldn't see its source, but he could feel the overwhelming presence of the Sith Lord Esoteric laying waste to everything on the battlefield.
Scion reached out toward the back wall of the building with his thoughts, seeping through the cracks and fissures to find the weakest points. A noise startled him as a number of mud-splattered figures ducked in from the front entrance. The last one in wiped the mud off her shoulder, revealing the insignia of Clan Arcona.
"Knight Kookimarissia, Team Dark Forge. Who are you?"
"Scion." It was all the introduction he needed.
Scion made his best effort to mask his displeasure at seeing his Arconan allies. He had never cared for the Arconans' arrogance and to his reckoning they had never done anything to improve his poor opinion of them. They did have a strange knack of showing up wherever he was on the battlefield though. And he couldn't deny they were a powerful ally.
"Don't stop here, Knight. We're all about to turn into rubble."
Scion pointed his DL-44 blaster at the back wall, but did not pull the trigger. A shockwave of pure willpower emanated from around his weapon and shattered the wall, creating a wide opening. Tarenti and Arconan began filing out through the gap toward the next bit of cover.
"I can see you, little Prince."
The mechanized voice froze Scion, the last to emerge from the doomed building, in his tracks. He placed the DL-44 back in its holster and pulled the flask from within his jacket. He saw Hades peek his head from behind his cover, gesturing at him to hurry up. He took a swig and turned around just as the building was ripped from his foundation and hurled toward the sky.
Duracrete and shards of transparisteel rose into the air, lifted by a torrent of energy that pummeled its construction into mere gravel. It whirled around the Quaestor, ricocheting off an invisible spherical barrier. It was all Scion could do to keep his feet planted on the ground. He thought he could make out the Lord Esoteric's larger than life silhouette on the other side.
"Taldryan have decided to join me, little Prince. Arcona has scattered to the wind. Compared to them your little band is less than insignificant. What have you achieved in this war aside from tragedy and heartbreak, Prince of Yridia?"
The battered flask dropped, empty, into the mud. Dual crimson blades sparked to life. The Prince of Yridia said nothing as he anticipated the Sith Lord's approach.
"You stupid son of a.." Hades began to swear under his breath as he watched Scion hold his ground firm to what he probably knew to be certain death. Anshar squeezed his shoulder and nodded towards the rubble behind them.
"This is our chance. We need to break contact and regroup. Sar and Lev could never hope to survive prolonged close proximity to this guy. We need to get them and the Arconan team out of here." He knew Anshar was thinking of others first, which was noble. But it just felt....cold. Scion has been Tarentum's Quaestor for a long time and had proven himself time and again. Hades couldn't help but wonder, deep down, if Anshar was hoping Scion would fall to make room for his ascension back to the position of Prince of Yridia. Hades bit his tongue. It would not do anyone any good to voice his thoughts at the moment. But Anshar did have a point.
"Fine, let's get them out of the immediate vicinity. But if you think I'm leaving Scion for more than a minute or two you've been sucking on some bad spice." Anshar's smirk surprised Hades a little but he was too focused to let it show. "You take point. I'll bring up the rear. Be quick so we can put a few hundred yards between them and this son of a wampa."
Without a word Anshar moved off in a quick pace motioning both teams to follow. Sar and Lev followed quickly, and even the Arconans knew they were in better hands with a Dark Jedi Master of Tarentum as they were right then. Hades began to move off after the group but turned his head to see Lord Esoteric start to cackle at Scion as his Quaestor and best friend stood his ground against the monster before him.
Anshar's pace was a swift one as well as stealthy. So much so they were quite shocked to stumble on a squad of Imperial Stormtroopers of some sort setting up a communication post just a few blocks away from where they had left Scion. There were only seven troopers with the two leaders, an old war weary sergeant and a fresh face and bright eyed Lieutenant with their helmet's off going over what Hades could only assume is a map of the area.
"Leave the leaders alive, kill the rest." Hades said as he ignited his purple lightsaber and sprang forward with Anshar quick on his heels. The rest of the two teams set up to cover the two with blaster fire. Hades' first strike split the first trooper from crown to pelvis. As he landed he went into a forward roll and came up with telekinetic force blast that knocked the Sergeant and the Lieutenant against the wall behind them, knocked them unconscious. Anshar was just as quick with his attack as the heads of his first two troopers rolled off their former bodies. He quickly brought his blade around and jabbed half of its length into the back of the third trooper as Hades was finishing off his second.
"Secure their weapons. Top of your power packs and keep watch." Hades ordered the two teams who covered their attack. Anshar frowned at that but let it go almost immediately. Hades, frankly, didn't care what Anshar thought. Every second that was wasted now was one more second Scion didn't have. But he had a plan.
The two Tarentum Battle Team Leaders secured the hands behind the bodies of the two remaining troopers whom Hades wanted alive. He then smacked them to bring them around. He then sat them up on their knees as he stood before them. The sergeant's face was what he expected. Rough and worn, and very determined. And the Lieutenant's was exactly what he had hoped. His eyes were full of fear and he had a slight shake to his body.
"Hello. Quick question. What is your unit ID and what is your code words to order an artillery strike?" Hades asked in tone much more polite and even than he felt. The Lieutenant looked to the side before the Sergeant spit in Hades' face and growled. "You will never break us you Sith scum. You will die here. Our forces will track you down and kill you!"
"Are you sure?" Hades asked. The sergeant spit again.
"Ok, then." Hades smiled as he produced his viroblade and made a slash across the sergeant's stomach, exposing his abdomen before reaching in and pulling out the sergeant's small intestine. The scream was so horrific even the other Tarenti and Arconans looked away. Hades finished with a deep slice across the sergeant's throat. The blood from the arterial spray drenched Hades' face. He then forced the sergeant's head down while the trooper was still alive so he could get a good look at his own intestine.
"See what you made me do?" Hades said as he let go of the dying man. The trooper slumped over to one side and let out a few more gurgles before expiring before his Lieutenant's horrified eyes. Hades then turned his full attention to the Lieutenant. He could almost swear he smelled piss on the Lieutenant's gear.
"Now. Let's try this again. Your Unit ID and Codes for artillery strike, please."
Within seconds he had what he wanted. Grabbing the portable comm unit and slinging it over his shoulder Hades looked over to Anshar.
"Get them out. I'll be back with Scion. Do what you want with the Lieutenant." Without another word Hades was gone, sprinting towards Scion as fast as the Force would allow him. He was there in twenty seconds.
That spawn of everything unholy was still facing off against his friend, cackling as he moved this way and that, easily moving in and out of the path of Scion's blades. The Quaestor was never even coming close. It reminded Hades of a nexu playing with its meal before dinner. Hades cursed to himself as he climbed into an elevated position fifty yards away and one story up and slightly behind Lord Esoteric. He lifted the comm unit into place and keyed the mic.
"Net call, net call. This is Redbird 6 to Starlight 2. Come in Starlight 2. Emergency request."
"This is Starlight 2 . Redbird 6, go ahead. Over."
"Starlight 2 requesting fire mission. Coordinates is as follows, Xlopora City sector 2. Raise 8, right 4. Repeating, Xlopora City Sector 2. Raise 8, right 4. Confirm."
"Redbird 6, Confirm. Xlopora City Sector 2. Raise 8, right 4. Sending one. Ten seconds."
Hades lowered the comm unit and brought out his own pack and quickly pulled out his automatic slugthrower. He stood and aimed at Lord Esoteric and screamed.
"SCION! RAINING IN FIVE! EVAC! EVAC! EVAC!" Hades then pulled the trigger and unleashed and steady stream of slugs towards the Dark Lord. The evil cackle, which seemed to be the only thing the Dark Lord did, just seemed to piss off Hades more than it scared him, at least for now. Lord Esoteric raised a single hand in Hades' direction. The bullets slowed and held in mid air in front of him. Thankfully the years in the military came in handy to Scion, who knew what "Rain" meant. The Quaestor was quick to move away as fast as he could in the same direction as Anshar. With a flick of his wrist Lord Esoteric sent the slugs flying back at Hades who dropped behind the stone half wall, but not before taking one in the left arm. Hades cried out in pain, as he was sure, much to the Lord's delight. But that was when the artillery shot hit, just behind Esoteric's position.
Hades heard him yell, more in anger than anything else. Hades managed to peek over the rail and see the smoking crater just twenty feet to the West of where Esoteric stood, looking up at the sky. Hades wasted no time in grabbing the comm gear and running as fast as he could the other way towards where his team was last located. As he did so he keyed the mic once more.
"Starlight 2, Redbird 6. Right one. Fire for effect! Fire for effect! Dark Jedi Brotherhood team in force! Send everything you have! Make it rain! Redbird 6, out."
Hades was halfway to the Tarenti's last known position when he heard the artillery strike hit. The ground shook and the sky rumbled. Hades knew that Lord Esoteric was probably still alive, and very, very pissed.
The cluster of explosions created a dense and muddy cloud, a strange mix of mud brown and cinder block gray. Hades and Scion scrambled to meet up with the rest of the team. A few more lingering explosions were heard.
“Nice,” said Hades, trying to catch his breath. “Delay timers on some of the rounds.”
“It buys us time,” said Anshar as the group continued along their original course, their erstwhile Arconan escorts with them. As the combined group made their way, Anshar dared to reach out with the Force, scanning for Esoteric. Rather unsurprisingly, there was no trace of him. Anshar had no doubt that Esoteric had survived the attack and the next time, if there was a next time, there would be no escape. Anshar shot a quick glance at Scion. Perhaps his recent promotion to Battlelord had gone to his head, but even a worrt could see how downright stupid Scion's action had been.
The combined group soon came upon what appeared to be the remains of an archway, perhaps a city gate of some sort. Their battlefield datapads beeped to indicate that they had arrived at their intended destination.
“Alright, Tar-folks, this is where we bug out,” said Kookimarissia. “You guys are on your own.” The knight turned to address the other Arconan forces. “We've got new orders! Let's move!” With that, the two groups split up, both secretly wishing they could stay together for the added protection of the numbers. Still, orders were orders, and there were still plenty in Arcona and Tarentum that would follow them.
“I wonder what's so important,” commented Levathan as the Arconans disappeared over a pile of unassuming rocks.
“Who cares?” asked Scion sardonically as he knelt down to help Hades pull the slug out of his arm before bandaging it.
“They're going to run a feint maneuver,” said Saronyx. The rest of the team looked up at her. “What?” Saronyx asked, surprised at the reaction.
“And did one of the Arcies just share this with you?” asked Scion.
“In a manner of speaking,” replied the Twi'lek. “It seems that they didn't think I was listening when you wanted to fight the big bad. I simply overheard something about Ernorderth's team making progress towards the main objective, and that Dark Forge was going to support through a diversionary effort; to quote them.”
“I'll be damned if I let that ladder hopper get to the target before us,” said Scion, almost hissing in frustration.
“Well,” said Hades, “we are at an entrance to the city, or what is left of it. We can still beat them to it, I bet, if we go through the sewer system.”
“Assuming we can get through the sewers in the first place, how does that help us?” asked Levathan.
“The fighting is on the surface, as are everyone's eyes,” said Hades. “We go underground, avoid everyone, and make better time.”
“You hope, anyway,” said Anshar.
“Yeah, I hope,” replied Hades with a hint of scorn in his voice.
“Let's at least try,” said Scion. “We need to make up some lost time if we're going to get to the prize.” Scion stood up and walked underneath the archway, his eyes scanning the area. “There!” he said, pointing down one road, or at least what was left of it. He began walking towards a grated sewer run-off receiver. If it wasn't large enough at the moment, lightsabers would do the trick.
* * *
As the group began to follow Scion, Saronyx felt a hand on her shoulder. Turning, she saw Anshar looking at her, almost as if he was peering into her soul. He spoke before she could, but the two kept walking.
“Why did you overhear the Arconans?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“There was a lot going on,” replied Anshar. “There were things far more important going on. Why did you hear what they said?”
“But, it is helpful, what I heard,” said Saronyx, a hint of protest in her voice.
“True as that may be,” said Anshar, “I'm surprised how clearly you seemed to hear it.” A silence lingered before the Twi'lek finally answered.
“I was scared,” she admitted. “I've not seen that much power coming from anyone before. I tried to find something else to focus on, something to distract me.” She paused. “At the same time, I want that kind of power.” Anshar did not reply immediately.
“Just stay focused,” said Anshar. “We were lucky this time. And maybe we'll get you to that level one day.” Saronyx only nodded as they reached the rusted sewer grate, now much larger thanks to Levathan's quick lightsaber work. As Anshar and Saronyx joined their teammates below, no one was present to see the pile of rocks next to the archway shift and fall apart rock by rock as a decayed pair of hands began to push the rubble away.
The sewer was damp, but didn't smell nearly as bad as Saronyx expected. Thousands of years of disuse had evaporated away most of the foul things you'd expect to find in a sewer, leaving only a dry crust that crunched under her feet. What bothered her the most were the echoes. The slightest movement reverberated a thousand times down the network of tunnels, so it was impossible to move at all without everyone for kilometers hearing you coming.
It was pitch black in the tunnels. The entire group was drawing upon its link with the Force to feel their way through what would otherwise be a treacherous and utterly impassable labyrinth riddled with pits, gaps, and uneven floors of all kinds. But what was the most unsettling were the corpses.
As a Dark Jedi Knight, Saronyx was no stranger to corpses and the trappings of death, but there was something odd about these. Beyond the simple fact that an ancient sewer system was a truly unusual place to share a dual purpose as a crypt, her sense of them through the Force felt different from other decaying bodies she had encountered. Almost as if...
"Stay alert, everyone." Scion's voice murmured softly through her mind, not unlike the news headlines scrolling across the bottom of a news feed on the holonet. "I don't think we're alone down here. These corpses don't seem quite as dead as they ought to be. Weapons at wits at the ready."
The thought sent a tingle across the back of Saronyx's neck, as she stepped across the dessicated chest of an ancient Xloporan citizen. She took extra care not to disturb it. She could feel hundreds of others just like it in the passages ahead of them.
With a shiver in her spine, Saronyx pressed forward. She followed her leaders as best she could while also concentrating on the layout of the city.
“Alright, judging by the layout of the city, as well as prior experiences in sewer systems…” they paused briefly, and Saronyx felt every eye turn on her, even in the pitch black darkness, “…we should be coming up on a division in the path. I believe we should take the left path.” The group started walking once again.
“And how certain are you of this, Saronyx?” Scion asked.
Saronyx managed a smirk. “This town may be unfamiliar to me, but sewers are not. I recall well how sewers, ventilation systems, and the like are laid out to best suit the needs of cities, ships, or buildings.”
“Yeah, but your fear shows here. It may alter your thinking a bit.” Levathan chimed in.
“Oh, shush.” Saronyx sighed. “I know my fear may alter my thinking. I’m just trying to quell the fear a bit.”
Levathan nodded. “I don’t blame you.”
“There’s a fork in the road a few feet ahead.” Scion said. “But there seems to be less obstacles on the right path. Plus, I can sense someone down the left path.”
“The right path may be safer, but it’s completely out of the way of our objective.” The group stopped walking once more to discuss the best course of action. “If we go right, it will take at least half an hour longer to reach our goal. The left path has more obstacles, and likely some enemies, but it’s much shorter.” She paused for a moment to calculate. “It should take a couple of hours if we go left, at least two and a half hours if we go right. This includes the possibility of a battle, as well as possible obstacles.”
Scion sighed. “Alright; I’m going to trust your judgment.” He began to walk down the left path.
The rest of the group followed their Quaestor.
A sewer… well that’s a first Levathan thought to himself, as he was following his clan mates. Throughout all the combat and tactics training in his early years within the Brotherhood, there was always a sewer level to those simulations, yet he had never actually been in a sewer, till now.
It was eerie to say the least, they had been walking for a while now, yet still everything felt off. Pitch blackness beyond the multicolored lights of their lightsaber, making the eyes play tricks on their owners, seeing moving shadows and shapes that weren’t there. The thick, stale air that had been sitting there for centuries, made it impossible to smell anything but dust and mold. The sound of everyone’s footsteps and breathing carrying further and longer then they felt it should. Everyone was on edge, gripping weapons tighter than they usually would, straining their senses, both physical and through the Force to detect that thing they felt brushing at the edge of their detection.
“Sith Spit!” cursed Anshar, his foot having sunk into a pile of debris and trying, unsuccessfully to yank it out, “little help?”
Levathan knelt down to get a better look at it, bringing his icy blue lightsaber close for light, “you be careful Lev, else you’re going to look very strange with without arm.”
Chuckling, “don’t worry boss, I’ll try to keep your foot attached,” replied Levathan.
Digging away the loose debris and dust, he felt a shiver go down his spine as he saw what was, literally, holding onto Anshar’s boot; a desiccated hand of bones and tendons had somehow wrapped it fingers firmly around the boot. Thinking it strange that someone as strong as Anshar couldn’t simply rip his foot free, he tried to pry the fingers open, expecting them to break off. Yet even planting his feet on the ground and using both hands to gain leverage didn’t work, it was in his third attempt that the blood curdling shriek came, reverberating throughout the tunnel and making their ears ring. They had made a terrible mistake.
Other shrieks and howls soon answered the original call, signaling to the group that only more trouble would be headed their way. For the moment, though, Anshar focused on the trouble around his foot. The more he tried to pry it open, the tighter it gripped, and Anshar could even begin to feel the tingling in his toes indicating a loss of blood flow. The last thing he needed right now was a dead foot in a zombie infested sewer. To Anshar's left, another hand appeared. Ghoulish and half rotting, the arm still apparently worked as the zombie began to push with its free hand while simultaneously pulling with its right hand, hold Anshar in place while lifting itself out.
A sudden firestorm of blaster fire erupted around Anshar's foot. If the blaster fire from Levathan and the others hit the zombie, it was impossible to tell. There was too much gunk, and not enough zombie, to get an accurate shot. “Enough!” roared Anshar, channeling the Force and unleashing wave after wave of Force energy into the ground around him, causing some of his team to fall, and others to barely stay standing. This also had the added impact of clearing much of the sewer gunk that covered the zombie, revealing the rotting features as well as a sword strapped to its back.
The zombie recoiled from the sheer impact, its grip finally loosening enough for Anshar to withdraw his foot and scramble out of the way. Once Anshar was clear, Scion was quick to attack, slashing the zombie's head clean through with his lightsaber. The pitiful creature, still half stuck in the sewer gunk, collapsed with the loss of its head.
“I think we've made a bad decision,” quipped Levathan.
“Obviously, the intel was wrong with how far out the zombies might be,” stated Hades. “What now? Anshar, you're the necromancy expert here.”
“Unfortunately, my experimentation with that never really dealt with the undead- zombies, draugrs, and such,” replied Anshar. “I focused on other aspects.”
“Ah, yes, the great philosophical discussion between you, Beef, and Oberst,” commented Hades.
“Which we don't have time for,” cut in Scion. “There's obviously more of these zombies here, and Force knows what else. We don't have time to wade through a horde of zombies.”
“Way I hear it, these things are quite tough anyway,” said Levathan. “I read once that even Exar Kun had some trouble in dealing with them.”
“All the more reason to get out of here,” said Hades. “We backtrack and figure out a way to get where we're going.”
“That may not be an issue,” cut in Saronyx, her voice oddly different, as if she was in some sort of hypnotic trance. “Arcona team claims to have the sword. We have a chance to get it from them if we act quickly.” There was a pause and Saronyx looked at everyone. “Well? What are we waiting for? The zombies to come and get us?”
“Hold on, now,” said Hades before Scion cut him off with a quick gesture.
“I don't know what just happened, but at this point, I'm willing to take a chance,” said Scion. “Where are we supposed to go?” Saronyx's brow furrowed.
“I'll lead you,” came the voice again. Saronyx cut a quick glance at Levathan, but he seemed to show no reaction. “Grab the creature's sword and come with me.” Saronyx stood up, yanked the sword off the now inanimate zombie and gestured for the team to follow her.
* * *
Dantella reclined back in the pilot's chair of the shuttle. The Tarentum Twi'lek was proving most useful, and she had needed very little direction up until this point. Still, Dantella wanted to ensure that Tarentum came away with the sword. Asides from proving her own worth to the Grand Master, Dantella believed that Arcona was simply too strong. Tarentum, weaker by comparison thought not in history, would benefit more, and destabilize things in the Brotherhood's complex power structure.
“That's right,” said Dantella to herself. “Time to play a little dress up.”
Dantella changed clothes as her shuttle's autopilot settled it to the ground some distance away from the battlefield. She pulled on a black uniform adorned with the insignia from Arcona's House Qel-Droma. Topping it off with a blacked out helmet that covered her face, she palmed the hatch control and walked out into the muck.
Her boots squelched through the deep mud as she ran. The Force lending strength to her strides was the only thing keeping her from becoming hopelessly mired. She had to move fast to make her rendezvous; there was no time to waste.
*** *** ***
The Tarenti team sprinted deeper into the tunnels, all lightsabers ignited as well as several other small portable light sources. Abandoning their former regard for stealth, the Dark Jedi simply cleaved their way through obstacles both inanimate and re-animated, falling upon the small groups of zombies they encountered with a cruel efficiency and purpose. After the first few encounters, they had reduced their strategy to its simplest form. Scion dared to think that this insane plan might actually work.
They had been running and fighting for more than an hour and a half, and had rounded dozens of corners. The Quaestor had long since lost track of their course, deferring instead to Saronyx's apparently infallible sense of direction.
"Almost there," panted Saronyx. "There's a big room coming up around the next bend, and the exit we want is a grating in the ceiling at the other end. There should be a ladder up to it."
Sure enough, there was an enormous room around the next bend. Scion could see the ladder leading up the far wall and the grating at the top of it. The problem was getting there: he stood on a ledge at the top of a fifty foot drop into the room, which appeared to have once been a cistern or reservoir of some kind. Below, the floor appeared black and shimmering. Writhing. It was difficult to make out, but he thought he could make out the forms of hundreds of zombies packed shoulder to shoulder there in the dark. Moments later his fears were confirmed as the living corpses began to notice the light from their weapons and become agitated. They groaned and clawed at the wall, but it seemed they could not get up to where the Tarenti were standing.
Scion deactivated his lightsabers and put them away.
"Alright folks. Time to get creative. I need explosives and weapons with range. We'll need everything we have to clear a path through this room to that ladder over there."
Hades peered over the edge and grinned. This is going to be fun! He thought to himself.
"Okay, those with blasters start shooting by the walls. If you have thermal detonators start tossing them in a line from near to far. Try to not take the ladder out, okay? Be mindful of your blast radius."
Anshar frowned at Hades.
"I assume you have a better plan then?" asked the Sith Battlemaster. The elder man just shook his head. Hades nodded and extended the stock on his slugthrower and fed a fresh magazine into bottom. He unhooked his ever present three pack of thermal detonators and set them in front of him, then looked to the group as they made their own preparations.
"On your order, Scion." Hades said as he held one of the detonators in his hand.
"Light `em up.!" Ordered the Sith QUA. Sar and Lev began to pour fire into the sides as Hades let loose his first thermal detonator. The room full of zombies became not so full after the first minute of sustained fire.
"They are moving towards our fire. Start picking off the ones at the rear so we can get most of them in the next two detonator tosses."
"Understood!" Lev while making almost perfect head shots with each trigger pull. As the zombies surged forward towards the foot of the ledge the Tarenti were standing on, Hades dropped the first, and then the second, thermal detonator several feet apart. The corresponding blasts took most of the Zombies with them. He then began to unload his slugthrower into those that were left. Soon after, only a few remained. And those were dispatched via lightsaber once the Tarenti jumped below.
The group quickly made its way to the ladder and began to climb as the stench of smoldering corpses filled the team's nostrils.
"My, what a wonderful smell you've discovered." Anshar quipped in Hades' general direction.