Ok Gladius, this is the Run-On I've been telling you about. This event will deal with all members of House Gladius immediately after the last Great Jedi War. As you know, we lost a few members and we also gained new ones since then. We have had a swap in leadership (myself and Scion switching places) and plenty of other things to write about.
This run-on will give everyone a chance to explain what happens to themselves after the war, and to describe how it has, and might affect them.
All standard Clan Run-on rules apply. Myself and Scion reserve the right to delete any posts we deem unfit or just plain crosses the line. Make sure to read up on any other person's characters you need to before posting about them. Have fun but be respectful to others (as much as possible).
(Remember, this run-on starts immediately after the GJW. Scion and I haven't switched positions yet. Just keep in mind exactly what part of the timeline your in.
"Cocytus, this is Central Control. The Field Marshal has released all ships to return to their home ports. You are free to leave at any time. Safe journey."
The Comm Officer blinked at the sudden transmission from control then gave a quick acknowledgement before beeping into the Captain's ready room near the bridge. A gruff voice answered the quere.
Clearing her throat the officer surprised a smile before she began.
"Sir, Marshal Oberst has released the Task Force to return to their home ports. We're free to leave at any time."
"Very well. Alert AED Scion and any Gladius personnel that is still onboard any clan ships, platforms or planets that we will be departing within the hour."
"Yes, sir." the Comm Officer replied, barely able to keep the excitement in her voice in check.
The crew of the B/CR Cocytus had learned to call the large asteroid House Gladius is based on home over the past year. And now, with the war only days behind them, they were free to return once more. It seemed like a lifetime since they were last there.
Quaestor Apollo opened himself up to the Force as the anouncement was made to the onboard crew. He could feel the sense of eagerness and jubilation fall over them. They were ready for a normal life again. And Apollo was just as happy to give it to them.
The few remaining datapads on his desk could wait for their return trip to the Sword's Sheath. It would take many hours to complete and It would give him something to do. But for now, getting the ship ready to leave took priority. Apollo stood for the first time in hours and streached his body, at least one joint popping which he met with a groan. He was not as old as his body sounded. He was still trying to convince himself of that fact when he finally exited onto the bridge. He walked into a working bridge that was starting to get a little bit busier than they had been just a few minutes ago.
Task Force Piranha had been ordered to remain around Tarentum's home planet as soon as they had returned from Antei. That had been several days ago at best. But for all the groaning and complaining the crew had caused while here, he knew that members of Gladius were busy taking advantage of the situation. Apollo had his team members crawling all over the Clan's ships and planets trying to gather as many supplies and bits and peices of information that they could. As they say, Knowledge is Power.
Apollo's personal comm unit began to buzz, grabbing his attention from his crew for a moment. Grabbing the device from his belt he brought it to his lips.
"Apollo." he said dryly.
"Hey, its Scion. I hear we are returning. I managed to grab everything we talked about. As far as I can tell, the other teams have done just as well. We should bring in a good ammount this time."
"Good to hear. Be back in half an hour, we'll be leaving thirty minutes later." Apollo instructed his AED.
"Aye aye skipper. Scion out."
Apollo smirked a little at his comm unit before replacing it on his belt. He caught his reflection in the transparisteel viewport to his right side. The two new healing scars on his face suddenly brought back the pain and the memories of the war. He knew that he had changed while on Antei, he just did not know how much. But he did know others had changed, and some quite dramaticly. It was going to be a long road to recovery for the House, but they were just about to take their first step.
"Helm, calculate our return trip back to the Sword's Sheath. Communications, inform them that we will be departing within the hour. Make sure they are ready for our arrival."
Both officers acknowledge their orders and started to work.
Having no true military rank, Dralin Fortea, newly-raised Dark Jedi Knight, had tagged along with Tarentum's strike teams on Antei, along with the new recruit he was acting as a mentor for, Chaaron Mar.
She needed the combat experience, I suppose,
the taciturn Knight thought to himself as he stared out of the view ports of the Cocytus
. After that mess with the Vong and the Hutt, I wasn't too eager to get into the thick of things again.
When Fortea first joined, he had felt the thrill at the prospect of battle, even entertained thoughts on joining Tarentum's military. However, with his first taste of combat, as well as the instruction of the esteemed Telona Murrage, Dralin learned that a knife in the shadows, armed with poisons and knowledge, was a role that suited him far better. As the ship made the short hyperspace jump from Yridia II to Sword's Sheath, the Rollmaster wondered what he could take from the short experience he had with the rogue Jedi that infested Antei, as well as the effects on the rest of his beloved House.
The death of the Grandmaster, the destruction of the Arcanum
, the subsequent culling of the ranks of Dark Jedi, all would take a toll on Gladius, and would serve as a catalyst to remake the proud House.
As Protector Severon Vercingetorix once again settled on to the Cocytus, the aftershock hit him in a wave. All the destrution and carnage lingered in his mind. The dead dying again and again as he walked through the corridors. He could still see Brimstone's body being flung like a rag doll down the mountainside.
However, as bad as the war had been, Severon was able to make use of it. Throughout the war, Severon made new friends and allies while bonding with his fellow Gladians and Tarentae. He and Brimstone had become fast friends and even Brin Chaser grew fond of the Protector. Also, a member of House Cestus, Vai Azexel, had formally asked Severon to be his apprentice. The Protector was overwhelmed with gratitude.
The war also built Severon's abilities, allowing him combat practice on its open plain. Droids fell to his emerald blade on the battlefield and the experience still made the Protector giddy inside. Though it was over, the war would stick with him, as it would in all of the Gladians and Tarentae. He knew he wasn't the only one who felt the effects of the war.
The Protector calmly walked into the training room and shed his cloak. He activated his emerald saber and marveled at its majesty. True, it wasn't a full lightsaber, but it was his. The Protector began to practice and noted the ease with which his moves came now. They weren't as uncoordinated as before the war, but they still needed work. Fortunately for the Protector, he had plenty of time to practice up.
Scion made his way through one of the many corridors on the B/CR Cocytus, his mind ticking off the names on the Gladius roster. They were so few now. The Aedile got to the end of the list, and other names started to enter his mind. Mostly the young had been claimed by this terrible war; Novices, Acolytes, even Apprentices who he had tried his best to shield from combat by giving them assignments on board the ship or in the supply lines. It had not been enough to spare their lives.
Friends had turned out to be enemies. The Aedile felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck as he remembered the times he had been paired with Dark Jedi from other Clans. Nearly all of them had tried to betray him at one point or another. Many had done so at the cost of the mission. At least with Crask's Jedi and the droids he knew where he stood. This war was a foolish endeavor, both in its objective and in how it was waged. It was a miracle they had been able to retake Antei at all.
The old man realized he was clenching his fists. A couple of frightened technicians stood with their backs to the wall, making themselves as small as they could as he passed. They trembled at the sight of him.
"As you were," he muttered, trying to smile but failing miserably at it.
What spoils had the mighty Clan Tarentum won for all the blood and tears? A single miserable squadron of E-Wings, and hundreds of unmarked graves. All so that a Grand Master might once again sit on his Iron Throne. That Grand Master hadn't even survived the conflict to sit in his blasted chair; it was his apprentice who now did so. A hundred times the trinkets and supplies his teams had "recovered" from Antei could not repay the cost of that blood soaked Iron Throne.
The Gladian reached the door he had been seeking, and pressed the pad to open it. The room was a small combat training room, the white floor bearing a large blue circle inside which students could practice. Along one wall was a weapon rack containing training lightsabers. A lithe young Twi'lek bearing a white training lightsaber was in the middle of the circle. She was facing off against a nearly seven foot tall scaled green Trandoshan who made his own training 'saber look comically tiny in comparison.
"Hello Master," growled the Trandoshan. The Twi'lek turned her head towards the Sith Warrior, but her blank white mask betrayed nothing.
The Sith Warrior shrugged his cloak off his shoulder, allowing it to drop to the dusty floor. He reached out a hand toward the weapon rack. A training lightsaber sailed across the room and hissed to life in his hand. Without any further hesitation, the old man leapt into the air with a guttural roar, unleashing on the two Guardians all the anger that had been boiling within him.
As Mechronage fought his Master, he silently thanked his Maker that Scion had remembered to use a training 'saber this time.
The Aegis Platform and the sight of the clan's sole ISDII was nothing more than a point of light in the rear viewport. The Cocytus had left the assembled clan fleet, the first to do so, to return to her Captain's base and her default home port. The asteroids where the Gladius base was hidden were still several hours off at present speed, plenty of time to catch a bite to eat and contemplate all the thoughts swirling through his mind. Apollo scanned the bridge from the comfort of his command observation chair. The men and women that staffed the bridge seemed to be lifeless robots. Going through the motions of work without actually mentally being there, and being ready as a good crew should be. He knew he couldn't fault them much for all the war and death they had seen. Their ship was not without it's own horror stories. This he knew.
Apollo stood from his chair and moved to the forward viewport, his hands clasped behind his back. A habit his twenty-five years in Imperial service have ingrained in him. He closed his eyes and let himself open to the Force. He carefully reached back to the Force echoes of those that had died on this ship while the Dark Jedi of the clan were down below on Antei. The small meteor strike that grazed it's forward dorsal turbolaser battery. The heavy fire it took from the enemy's Super-class Star Destroyer. The starboard main corridor leading from engineering to the forward compartments taking a direct hit. The dozens of crew members silently screaming into the vast coldness of space as the corridor decompressed and the vacuum ushered them away into their awaiting endless tomb. Apollo could feel the sudden terror in their hearts and minds as they instantly knew their fate, though each one desperately reaching out to grab something, anything, to save themselves. He then could feel the sudden flash freeze of their bodies as the coldness took them almost instantly. Still, there were others onboard who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Others that fought and died for Tarentum on that forsaken field of battle, both on the ground and off. Was their sacrifice as harsh as those who were lost to the bleakness of space? Was it meaningful? Was it just?
Apollo turned and exited the bridge, nodding to the Lieutenant at Communications that she had the bridge. He had to get away for a moment. The anger welling up inside him from all the deaths Gladius had to pay for someone else's play toy was getting too much to bear. He wanted to snap, he wanted to kill something. He wanted to strangle the enemy with his bare hands and watch the life fade from their eyes. He wanted... he wanted revenge. Yes revenge on those who made his people pay the ultimate price for their useless planet. He was tired of loosing good men and women to this nonsense. Tired of having to write home to their loved ones and spew lies about how they died in the glorious service to their Emperor, their Fleet Commander, their Grand Master, their Consul. How their actions helped save this number or that.
No more. He's had enough, Apollo decided right then and there. If another had to die in service to this House it would be on his terms and on his missions. Enough was enough.
Walking briskly towards the training room Scion was in, the door silently slid open to reveal the Sith Warrior dueling his apprentice and another young member of Gladius. Reaching down to Scion's belt he unhooked the Warrior's own newly created lightsaber. It was then that the Twi'lek bowed suddenly towards Apollo's direction.
"Quaestor." the Twi'lek said respectfully. Scion whirled at the sudden intrusion into his training. Quaestor or not, it wasn't right. The two friends looked at each other and knew they both needed to blow off some steam. Apollo threw Scion's lightsaber at him before withdrawing and igniting his own purple blade.
"Pick on someone your own size, Sith.." Apollo growled as he lowered himself slightly, his bright blade high above his head.
Scion dropped the training saber and kicked it away after it deactivated. He then ignited his own real saber. The two younger members of Gladius attempted to make themselves as much of a part of the wall behind them as they could and stared wide eyed at their house summit, shocked at what they were seeing.
"Let it begin.." Scion muttered to his Quaestor.
Still staring out of the viewport, Dralin extended his senses, the Force flowing through him like water through a sieve. In the training room, the silent Knight could feel two forces coming together in combat, could feel the emotions coming off of Apollo and Scion like heat thrown from a bonfire.
Turning on his heal, the Deathdealer heading towards the training room to witness what was sure to be a fine battle, catching sight of Brin Chaser, the 'new' recruit and old friend of the Summit's.
"Come along," Dralin muttered to the Protector as he passed by, the older man following closely. As they approached the training room, the sounds of combat could be easily heard, the constant hum and screech of two lightsabers rising above the sounds of the ship, growing louder as the Rollmaster drew closer.
"If you want to see real talent," Dralin quietly told Brin, "watch this."
Opening the door, the first thing seen was the red and purple sabers of the House Summit. If one could call such a terrible thing a dance, then a dance was what those two blades were locked in. Having known each other for such a long time, even serving together in the Emperor's Hammer, Apollo and Scion knew each others strengths and weaknesses, each knowing exactly where to spin, where to block, where to lunge.
Glancing over to Brin, Dralin noted the look on his face. He had known both Apollo and Scion from back in their EH days, back when they had been officers in the Navy. The Knight was sure that Brin, like his fellow ex-EH members, would grow to be a fierce, tactical fighter in time, but for the time being, his own command of the Force was meager compared to the Summit's.
Most of the House is in this room. How many did we lose to the greed of the Dark Council? Too many were sacrificed for the sake of a dead planet.
Dralin's thoughts turned sour as he regarded the dueling Summit, all too well knowing what was driving their intense fight.
We have been reduced to the smallest House in the Clan. Dralin smirked. Even so, those who survived have proven to be tough survivalists. We cannot afford to take such loses again, especially for others' gain.
Severon, interrupted from his own training by the battle, walked into the room to stand calmly by Brin and Dralin. He watched the Summit carefully, noting mistakes with newfound knowledge in his studies. There were few, which made the battle all the more interesting to watch. The Protector had to admit that Scion was a great warrior and sometimes a downright [explicitive deleted].
Severon tore his eyes away from the battle and studied the young protector next to him. Although recently promoted during the war, Brin was proving a great member for the House. He was young, but sturdy and had good temperament. He then looked to Dralin, who caught the Protector's gaze. He knew that Dralin could sense everything about him, for the Dark Jedi Knight was far more advanced in the force than the Protector.
Severon ran his hand along his chin feeling the growth caused by weeks of no shaving. He had to admit, the scruffy look had fit him as a bounty hunter so he decided to keep the hair for a while.
Severon left the room and went somewhere quiet to study the materials given to him by his new master, the Dark Jedi Knight Vai Azexel of House Cestus. While most of the Cestians got on his nerves, Severon felt calm around Vai, though the Vultan was a bit rough. He had to admit, that Scion was great when it came to picking masters for his House journeymen. Vai was the perfect complement to the Protector and Severon knew it. He flipped out his datapad, and began to steadily read.
Brin did his best to study the movements of the two combatants in front of him as Severon made his exit.
The ground combat on Antei had scared the proverbial stuffing out of the young pilot, so the first thing he had done with his datapad on the departure shuttle was to complete his Training Saber test. Under the bluff and bluster, the Protector was an anxious fellow, by keeping himself busy - he didn't have to think about the carnage on the surface that he had barely avoided.
When his Rollmaster had offered to take him through the training forms, Brin had leapt at the chance to do something, anything to keep him from thinking about the charred corpses left planet side. So here he was, in the Training Room watching the Aedile and Quaestor of Gladius duel, all gentlemanly conduct left at the door.
Apollo was taking the initiative, pushing Scion back with a well-timed thrust. His subsequent advance was tempered by the Sith Warrior connecting his left foot to the Krath Archpriest’s right shin. Apollo howled in sudden agony, de-activating his lightsaber before launching a right-hook at Scion’s startled features. Scion had barely enough time to thumb his lightsaber activation stub before the haymaker collected his jaw, launching the Aedile backwards and bouncing him off a nearby bulkhead.
As Scion lay sprawled on the floor, Apollo took a few heaving gasps of air – before turning to stalk from the training room. Scion rubbed his jaw, tweaked his left pinky absent-mindedly, and Apollo was swept up mid-stalk and brought to a firm THUD on the hard plating.
Brin cast a quick look at Dralin, who threw a quick smirk at Scion, who hefted a short chuckle at Apollo, who laboured a scowl at Dralin, who quickly tossed Brin a training saber.
“Okay Brin, your training form is called Banlanth. If I move too fast for you, stop me and ask a question.”
Dralin’s green blade sprung into life as the Rollmaster assumed a relatively simple stance, his leading left foot pointing straight ahead, with the trailing right resting perpendicular for balance.
“Now the first stance-”
Brin raised his hand. Dralin looked up from his positioning.
“What is it?”
“So, if I study really hard…” Brin began.
“And I survive long enough to get the genuine article…” Brin continued.
“Unlikely” Apollo interjected.
“…I could be as good as these two guys sprawled on the floor?”
Scion guffawed in response, before coughing up a faint trace of blood. He winced and dug into his outfit for a handkerchief.
“If you’re lucky” the Rollmaster answered. “Now, Banlanth. This form is focused on a few essential tenets that will be important when it comes to developing your own style…”
[Later, in the Captain's Office]
"Are you sure you want to do this?"
Apollo hesitated, his hand resting on a data pad on his desk. The pad displayed a message from the Consul, authorizing them to switch positions. The Quaestor could feel the conflict within his friend and former Apprentice. The old man had always been ambitious, but he had always shown respect even when it meant making sacrifices. The Krath knew Scion wanted to take command of the House. He also knew Scion's question was sincere.
"Yes," said the Quaestor. "I'm sure. Gladius needs you at the helm now, while we recover from our losses and rebuild. You have a calming effect on people."
Apollo handed the data pad to Scion.
"Heh. Thanks." Scion rubbed his chin for a moment while he read the message, then furrowed his brow. "Though, I'm not sure this will really change anything."
Apollo pulled a bottle from behind his desk and opened it. He offered it to Scion, who took a sip.
"The first thing I'm gonna do as Quaestor is have them paint your ship pink," remarked Scion offhandedly as he took a seat and propped his feet up on the desk. He tossed the data pad back onto the desk.
"I'll feed you to the Hssiss
"I'll set you up on a blind date with a Hutt. I know a guy who knew a guy who was Duetta's cousin or something. I could probably pull that off."
"Do you enjoy breathing air?"
"Seriously though. I'm thinking we should relax the restrictions on decorating the TIEs. We'll do yours up pink with some glitter, write 'Sweet 16' on the side, it'll be great."
"Hey, don't let me forget I need to go back in time and murder your parents. Way back in time. When the galaxy was a young and innocent place."
"Ha, ha." Scion said dryly.
Scion leaned back in his chair, staring up at the ceiling. He passed the bottle back to his friend, who took a long drink. For several minutes the two sat in silence as the harsh realities of the past few months settled down and again dampened their good spirits.
"I don't suppose we can trust the Clan Summit anymore," remarked Scion, still staring at the ceiling. "They kept us blind and hungry, and we died for it. For nothing but a ball of dust and a big iron chair."
Apollo looked across his desk at Scion. That old soldier had been with him through so much. They had saved each others' lives countless times and vanquished innumerable enemies together. Never had he talked like this before, though. He seemed defeated, somehow.
"We did what we were required to do," Apollo replied. He chose his words carefully, unsure of where this was going to lead. "That's what soldiers do. That's what we do."
"Things are different now. I'm not sure just doing what is required is good enough anymore. We need to be smarter than that, if we're going to survive."
"Survive what? The war is over, Scion. Now we need to rebuild and prepare for the next one. Are you sure you're up for taking command of this House? Have I made a mistake?"
Scion sat up in his chair, planting his hands in front of him on the desk and looking directly into Apollo's eyes.
"I know you feel it too, Krath." Scion's sudden intensity made Apollo instinctively sit back in his chair. "We barely survived the last war by sheer grace of the Force. There's another big storm coming, and we don't have any time to prepare for it. We can't trust the Clan to get us out of this one, so we must survive it alone. They would put us in its way just to spare themselves a few seconds more. I will not be a martyr, Apollo."
Apollo raised an eyebrow.
Scion's next question lingered in the air like acrid smoke: "Do you trust me?"
Striding into the Captain's office, Dralin smirked at his leaders.
"Musical chairs? Nice of you to include me."
The Death Dealer's usual short-cut manner of speaking did little to convey how he truly felt.
"I think you forgot to knock, Rollmaster," Scion replied, his crisp appearance turning cold at the breach in protocol.
Apollo raised his hand, getting a better feeling about the Knight's intentions, having worked with Dralin for longer.
"So, what are we doing? You two usually have a plan," the Knight continued. "We got chewed up at Antei for nothing, and I'm not one to crawl back home with my tail between my legs.
The two Equites looked at each other; that was a speech in comparison for Dralin.
"Well, I was about to go into that before you interrupted," replied Scion, stroking his finely-trimmed goatee. "I do have a plan for this House..."
The Journeyman all sat in the mess hall, each of them silent as they think about what they witnessed. None of them had seen the Summit fight before like they had earlier. Even their Rollmaster calmly stood aside while the fight progressed. Something was changing in their House, from the Summit down, and they weren't sure if it was a good thing or not.
Every one of them wondered, in some form or another, Why do I feel so pissed off too?
While they weren't as in-the-know about the goings on of the Dark Brotherhood as a whole, they also recognized that, as a group, Gladius got almost nothing except corpses and a hole-ridden roster.
But we survived, they could think to themselves. And for their Summit, they would be enough.
Apollo took a long slow breath and held it for a moment. But he couldn't delay, it was time. Walking out from a doorway in the corner of the mess hall both Apollo and Scion stood in front of their house to address those left from the war.
"Gladians. I'll make this short. This will be my last address to you as your Quaestor." Apollo's tone was firm and loud. Muffled whispers and gasps could be heard amoungst the gathered members. Apollo raised his hand to silence them.
"Affective Immediately, Sith Warrior Scion Altera will be your Quaestor. And I have assumed his roll as Aedile. Its a simple switch, but a needed one." Again, more muffled whispers that quickly faded before Scion stepped forward.
" As you know, we lost a lot of good people on Antei. Too many. We will be getting back down to basics. We will be training more often and a lot harder. We will never loose so many again." The new Quaestors words seemed to strike a chord in all who heard them. Several members were nodding, a new determined look on their faces. That made Apollo smile.
"We are Gladius. We are the the most Honored house in Tarentum. We have produced legends of the Brotherhood, and I'm sure we will again. But now we need to rebuild and reform into a fighting unit. But, more on that later. Right now, I want all members to begin daily lightsaber and close-quarter tactics drills. This is an order. Follow it. "
Apollo smiled once more at Scion before stepping back up beside his friend.
"For right now, as we do not have an active Battleteam Leader, DJK Dralin will be assuming the task of coordinating training schedules. Get with him to find out your times and partners. That is all."
With that the two summits exited the room to a roar of questions and excited voices. Once by themselves they turned to one another.
"Think that did it?" Scion said, smirking.
"Oh, just a bit. This is going to be a good ride." Apollo said looking down at his datapad. "I'll see you tomorrow at 0600."
Severon just stared at Apollo and Scion, not believing that Apollo had really stepped down. After studying, the journeyman had changed out of his old soldier robe and dressed in something a little more...rugged. He again touched the beard that now covered his chin and smiled. He stood and left the mess hall.
So, a new training regimen, he thought to himself, this should be interesting. Although his master was a Cestian, Severon was a deep rooted Gladian. As with all the other journeymen, he was pissed off at the Clan summit. The war itself had been hell, but the Clan leaders didn't help a thing.
As Severon entered his quarters, he couldn't help but feel the change in the air. All of the Gladians felt betrayed and somehow, more independant. It didn't make sense. Severon walked to his bed and was about to sit down when there came a knock at his door.
"Come in," he growled, a little testily. When it was Scion who entered the room, Severon bit his tongue and hoped he hadn't angered the new Quaestor. However, Scion pulled up a chair and pulled out a datapad.
"Severon, it is my honor as your new Quaestor, to promote you to Guardian for your efforts in the GJW. I know that this is a bit late, but here it is. You had better take it before I change my mind."
Severon took the datapad and stared at the words Guardian Severon Vercingetorix on the screen. " Th-Th-Thanks Scion," he managed to gasp.
"Don't mention it. Oh, and next time, watch your tongue when you speak to me kid."
As soon as Scion had left the room, Severon shouted with joy and hurried to call Vai.
[Captain's Office - B/CR Cocytus]
"You have got to be frakking kidding me."
Apollo stood, staring at a data pad that Scion had just brought in. Scion's fists clenched and unclenched spasmodically as he paced around the office.
"This is just unbelievable," he said.
"Really?" Apollo asked, his voice the definition of disbelief. "They're sending auditors to the Sword's Sheath? Have they ever done that before?"
Scion pulled his flask from his jacket and took a long drink from it. Looking back at Apollo he shook his head in disgust.
"Apparently they'll already be there when we get there," he said.
"Well they better not frakking touch anything. Bastards."
[Many Hours Later - Itaana Belt]
The Cocytus floated serenely in space just outside of the ship crushing asteroids of the Itaana Belt. Shuttles ferried back and forth between it and the mile-long asteroid base known to Clan Tarentum as the Sword's Sheath, carrying passengers and cargo. Among the first to leave the Cocytus had been the Dark Jedi of House Gladius, all anxious to return to their home and relieve themselves of the pressures of the Ninth Great Jedi War.
Some were more anxious to get home than others. Aboard the very first shuttle, Scion and Apollo stalked around the enclosed space. Every few seconds, Apollo took his lightsaber from his belt and held it in his hands. Then he thought better of it and put it back. Scion's flask had long gone empty, but he often reached into his jacket just to be sure it was still there.
"ETA?" he barked.
"Three minutes," came the response from the slightly annoyed shuttle pilot.
The three minutes eventually passed. The very instant that the shuttle's platform thudded down on the hangar bay floor, the Quaestor and Aedile rushed down it and back into their home. At the bottom, they were met by a bald man in red and gold robes, flanked by a dozen heavily armed Dark Council soldiers.
"Ah, there you are, Quaestor," said the man, turning to face Apollo.
"Excuse me?" Scion said, risking a conspiratorial wink at his friend. "I'm the Quaestor here. Who in Oblivion are you, and why are you on my asteroid?"
"Many apologies. Ah, you are Apollo? My dossier had this man's picture..." The words trailed off, and neither Scion nor Apollo made any attempt to fill in the awkward silence. By this time, Apollo had completely failed to stifle the grin that spread across his face.
Scion finally filled in the blanks. "Your dossier was correct. That is Apollo, and I am Scion."
"Ah, I was told that you were the Aedile," the bald man interrupted.
"We switched during the journey back. I am the Quaestor, and Apollo is my Aedile. You still haven't told me why you're on my asteroid."
"Ah. This is highly irregular. I should have been informed of this. Again, many apologies, Scion. Furthermore, you should have been informed of my arrival. Were you not?"
"Ah," said Scion, imitating the man's obnoxious verbal tic. "You must be the Auditor. Here to make a list of everything else the Dark Council wants to take in addition to Antei, yes?"
"Honestly, I think you should just leave," Apollo chimed in. "We'll forward a list to the Dark Council ourselves. It'll save you some time, and frankly I'm not sure our boys will be very pleased to see your friends here snooping around in their home."
The Auditor shifted uncomfortably. Two more shuttles had come in while they had been talking, and a small group of Gladians had formed behind Scion and Apollo. All of them were fidgeting with the hilts of their lightsabers and blasters, and were sizing up the armored soldiers.
"Ah... Unfortunately that," the bald man was choosing his words carefully. "That, ah, will not be possible. I will need quarters for myself and my men. We have brought our own supplies, which your technicians have already taken care of. Ah, we won't be here more than a week, then we'll be out of your hair."
"Fine," Scion spat. "Dralin, please see to it that this man and his Dark Council soldiers find their way to their quarters. Then check that their supplies have been stowed appropriately. The rest of you, get out of here unless Dralin needs your assistance."
Dralin took one look at the Auditor and his men and scowled.
"Come with me," he muttered, giving them one last glare before turning in a seemingly random direction.
The Auditor hesitated, then hurried after the Rollmaster, beckoning his men to follow. Catching up with the pale Death Dealer, the DC representative- much to Dralin's chagrin- began to engage him in conversation.
"You must feel honored to have seen action at Antei, Dralin." The skin around the assassin's eyes tightened. He disliked being called by name by beings he doesn't trust. The oblivious Auditor continued. "Your House does seem to be missing a few members. Ah, well, better to die for the glory of the Iron Throne than to live out your days in a rock."
Snarling, Dralin rounded on the graying man. "The glory of the Iron Throne? The man who wanted the damned chair was killed in action, and we lost numerous Gladians for his ego! How many times have you had to watch your friends die for others' goals?"
Stammering, the older man tried to collect his thoughts in the face of the visage of an angry Necromancer. "Ah, well, um. I have not seen much action at all. I, ah, am not very Force-sensitive, thus my role as Auditor..."
Turning on his heal, Dralin continued his march, feeling the dislike that the Auditor's men felt for him, like having a heater against his back.
Never mind them, Fortea. They are merely Dark Council stooges, fit for nothing but accompanying a lowly Auditor. Prioritize. They are going to take your much-needed supplies. You live inside an asteroid; those supplies are rather crucial.
Turning down numerous corridors, the mental map of Sword's Sheath that Dralin had constructed in his mind never wavered; he counted on the fact that the DC men would not have this aptitude. Taking them through the twists and turns of his asteroid home, he led them deeper into the base.
"Ah, we seem to be rather far from the living quarters, do we not?"
The old man catches on. Too late for him, we're here already.
Rounding on the Auditor, the Rollmaster held his hand out towards the large door he had stopped at.
"Ah," he began, mocking the Auditor's verbal tic as Scion had," I have found just the place for you."
"But the living quarters..." the older man began.
"...are filled up with loyal Gladians. I'm sure you wouldn't want them to be in your way." Pressing the pad next to the door with his fingertips, the doors opened, revealing a dark corridor. "Surely you wouldn't like to be crammed into one room, so I am opening a corridor of the inner asteroid for you to stay in. That would hardly be playing the part of a gracious host."
Gulping visibly, the Auditor led his men in, unsure of what the DC had sent them into.
Mechronage was walking through the halls of the Sword's Sheath, still healing from the battle he had with his Master on the way back from Antei. He was just about to make it to his room when he heard the familiar voice of his Master and the new Quaestor.
"Mechronage, I have been looking for you. I have something I want to give you."
"Well maybe we could find a place where we will have some privacy." Mechronage said well staring at the approaching crowd of Gladians who looked more like a crowd of blind zombies.
"Sounds like a good plan." Scion noticed the crowd as he entered Mechronage's sleeping quarters.
Mechronage followed but hesitated as he felt a wave of emotion envelope his entire room. His Master was already sitting down as he entered the door. He took a seat, noticing his Master's emotions were starting to settle, like something was no longer bothering him while something else was.
"Mechronage, I have been your mentor since before this war and I have noticed your power growing." Scion said while pulling his flask out, only to remember it was empty.
Mechronage noticed this as he reached behind his bed for the bottle he had been saving since his second slave raid. "I have been saving this for years, for a special occasion." He grabbed two glasses from his dresser and filled them both half way. He handed it to his Master and they both gave cheers. Mechronage and his Master took a swig each, his Master choked on the fiery liquid as it burned its way down his throat. Mechronage coughed before saying.
"Cortyg brandy straight from Kashyyyk, aged for over 8 years."
"A warning might help next time, but as I was saying. You have grown in power, and as a person. You survived the GJW and you have become a close friend." Scion said.
Scion pulled out his flask. Then he pulled out a second one before filling them both up with the Cortyg brandy. He then handed one to his apprentice before saying one last thing.
"I know its not a lot, but I thought this might come in handy."
Mechronage acknowledged the gesture before saying. "I could not have done any of this without your training."
Scion flashed a quick smile in his direction before leaving the room.
As Severon wandered the halls, he noticed Dralin and the auditors. What in Vader's toilet are they doing here? he wondered. He watched as Dralin led them away from the living quarters. Although knowing that Dralin would sense him, he followed the group deeper into the Sword's Sheath.
He could hear the nervousness in the old man's voice when he realized how far they were from the living quarters and smiled and Dralin's cleverness. He was exceptionally glad when Dralin introduced them to where they were staying and nearly laughed at the expressions on the DC men's faces. As soon as they dissappeared into the corridor Severon walked up to Dralin. "That will make the Council angry." he said calmly.
"I don't care." Dralin said simply, his mind still on the auditor.
"Don't you have something better to do Guardian, than to pester me?" Dralin snapped.
Taken aback, Severon left the Rollmaster to his own company and wandered back to his quarters. There, he began to study.
Apollo finished washing his hands and splashed a little cool water on his face before taking a long, hard look into the mirror in front of him. Thoughts of the future and memories of the past flooded him once more. Closing his eyes he tried to calm himself before the might storm brewing in his mind could fully unleash it's wrath. He did not have time for this non-sense. His mind needed focus if he was to accomplish what he needed to do. Slowly, his mind began to clear once more. Finally, his eyes flashed opened and he scowled at his reflection. He had not the time for this, there was work to be done.
Drying off his face he tossed the small hand towel into the basin and adjusted his comfortable flight suit and left his quarters, calling Scion as he did.
"What's up, Apollo?"
"Meet me at the rear airlock, bring Dralin with you. I have an idea."
"That, is God damn brilliant." Dralin said with a grin on his face. The first he's shown since before the war. Scion smiled and nodded.
"Can we pull this off?" Scion asked as he was running their chances in his mind.
"Absolutely. It's simple slight of hand. You keep their attention focused on the right hand while the left hand is stealing their wallet."
Dralin laughed at the analogy.
"If we assign someone to enthusiastically show them around we can keep them focused where we want them to while we will have our supplies shuttled out from this rear airlock. If they see how little we have they probably wont try to take anything. And if they do, its no big deal we will have the rest ready to replace it."
"And they wont notice a shuttle back here at this airlock?" Scion asked.
"Not if we disable the internal sensors here and use my Escort Shuttle. They can't pick up the shuttle on sense scans so we can move the supplies to the Cocytus with impunity."
"I love it. When do we start?" Dralin asked rather enthusiastically.
"Right now. I say we have Sev take them around. He's not as cynical as the rest of us yet. But all he needs to know is that he needs to keep them occupied with mundane stuff. Keep him informed where we are so we can divert them." Apollo said with a grin.
"All right. Let's do this." Scion nodded to the others as he brought out his comm and dialed in Sev's signal.
"Severon, I have a job opportunity for you and it's non-negotiable." Scion chuckled at the audible groan on the other end.
As soon as Severon heard Scion's voice he knew he wasn't going to like what he heard.
"Severon, I have a job opportunity for you and it's non-negotiable." he heard on the comlink and groaned. "Really?" he said non-chalantly.
"Listen Sev, we need you to show our..." Scion's voice trailed off a bit.
"Guests sir. Scumbags, dirty rotten..." Sev put in.
"Guests around the facility. Just show them the little things while we work on disappointing the council staff." Scion said.
"Let me guess, you want me to show them the not-vitally-important-but-important-stuff right?"
"Correct. You catch on fast."
"Yeah, I try."
"Get started immediately."
"Understood." Just so they got the point, Severon added another sigh and signed off, then walked dejectedly to where the auditor was camped.
[0330 Hours, Aboard the Sword's Sheath]
Weary technicians trudged through the corridors of the Sword's Sheath, pushing cargo lifts loaded with boxes out of the store rooms. Each group of technicians was accompanied by a Gladian Dark Jedi, scowling at having to be up working so early in the morning. Scion Altera sipped from his flask as he stalked down the hall with his group. His thoughts stretched out through the mile-long asteroid, pinpointing his Force sensitive brethren easily, but focusing on one in particular. In a distant, rarely used section of the asteroid, Severon Vercingetorix was leading the Dark Council's Auditor through an empty storage room.
"This is where we keep our food, but as you can see we're out right now," he lied. "A new shipment is expected any day now, but piracy in this sector has increased substantially since we were all called out to retake Antei. Now that we're back to defend Tarentum's holdings against the pirates, shipments should be able to get through. If we don't starve to death first."
A smile crept over Scion's face as the techs loaded the last of their cargo onto Apollo's shuttle. The airlock closed with a satisfying hiss. The shuttle would carry it safely to the Cocytus, where it would be stored until the Auditor departed. Apollo had really come through this time.
"Good work, now let's go get the next load ready. That shuttle will be back in an hour. Move it!"
[About a Week Later]
Severon Vercingetorix had been following his Quaestor's orders, leading the Dark Council Auditor around the Sword's Sheath to take inventory. It had been almost a week now, and the Auditor was clearly getting bored.
"I am certain we have seen this storage room before, Guardian," he murmured as he was led into yet another nearly empty room. The Jedi's path twisted and turned like the Gordian Knot, so much that even the seasoned Auditor was having trouble keeping up.
Fortunately, he didn't have to. As he walked, a tiny bit of clear fluid secreted out of his boot with each step, and onto the stone floor. At the same time, a tiny video recorder pinned to his jacket recorded each day's walk through the base. It recorded the ultraviolet spectrum, so his own footsteps glowed brightly in the video. He was anxious to get back to the "quarters" he had been given. There, he had a computer that would process the data from the recorder and produce a map of the base.
"This way," said the Guardian. As he did so, a tall reptilian man turned the corner and approached Vercingetorix.
"Severon, have you seen my Master? I can't seem to find him anywhere."
"No, Mechronage, I haven't," answered the Guardian. "Actually, I haven't seen Apollo or Dralin lately either. I've been busy showing my friend here around the base." Severon's finger strayed momentarily to the logo on the cuff of his jacket. It sported the Gladus logo, plus a tiny pair of letters: "TG". The gesture did not go unnoticed by the Jedi Hunter. He nodded solemnly, and turned to leave.