Raise Event 5. Runon. The Insight Of Lehon
RULES IN THIS RUN-ON
Even so I am not too fond of many restrictions; we need some rules as guidelines to make this run-on flow smoothly and fun to enjoy. I admit this is going to be the first house run-on that Tridens will have, at least in the span of several years’ way back. Or maybe, it will be the first time to each of you to join a run-on too. It doesn’t matter. We haven’t been adjusted so deeply and correctly as Gladians or Cestians take their run-ons in their daily expression. And no, we won’t try to imitate their best strength of writing; we will do this because we can. We all can write and can learn. Unless we explicitly state we don’t want to and therefore we never go anywhere to the thing called progress, and never see our potentials within.
So, do give our best try.
1. Run-on is a cooperative and continuous set of writing among some writers to develop finally a class of story. As a story, run-on will have the beginning, the middle and an end. The beginning will start from our castle, and then continue to have a mission to Lehon, and we will be going home. Simple. How we can develop the mission into interesting story plots, that’s the fun we are going to share.
2. We have set a limited time for the run-on, Nov 22-31, because as a story, there is always an end. The prologue and epilogue will be given by one or some people of the run-on team (i.e the House Summits+Kyra.)
3. A post will be counted for points if it is in the range of 300-750 words, and fits in the writing mechanics and determined by the judge. Leave the post as it is, once you have submitted it in the forum. Any edit will cause reduction of points. In the case of mistakes and continuity corrections that will need post editing, they will be done by the poster with the moderators’ assistance (Elols and myself).
4. The top three highest points will determine the winners placing.
5. We are here playing as Dark Jedi characters, necromancers, some of us having lightsabers but every character has limitation accompanying his or her power, strength and level. We aren’t gods and we don’t play godmoddings. A Jedi Hunter maybe wins over a low to mid level bounty hunter but hardly to the skilled one. We cannot overcome everything. If an Elder cannot handle the power of a darkside artifact, barely an Acolyte will. Realism takes place.
6. Severe injuries or even death may happen to a character. However don’t write so to others unless the owner of the character has given you his/her permission.
7. Talk and interactions. Different with the ACC, in the run-on, it is encouraged to have conversation part. Details and descriptions are written at necessary, although not excessively
8. Think before you write other characters into your post. Read their character sheets, wikis, and better consult to the members themselves. Find them in IRC or sending them a letter or just hook up your idea(s) in the run-on WarRoom.
9. Take a setting and happening from the prior posts to maintain continuity to your post. We cannot jump from place A to place C without logical Star Wars reasons. The same reasons will go at the fact if a character severely injured in post 11, he will not easily get up, healthily in post 16. Progress may take time, even with the healing power of the Force.
10. This run-on has a purpose as one of our character development sources. So anything that happens here will affect our characters. Think before you leap, however don’t be too afraid to explore.
11. Mistakes. There are chances that a post maybe accidentally has some errors. Proofreading will help before posting. The run-on team is ready to help. If editing should happen, read rule no 3.
12. Calling a post (you note in a quick posting “I am next”) is allowed for maximum 3 hours span. Beyond that, the next poster will be permitted to write his post without your permission. If the case happens, usually a discontinuity follows, and you (the prior caller), has to edit your post to maintain the continuity (with point reduction penalty).
13. You have to wait until at least one member to post before you are able to submit your next post.
14. Discussion is in the WarRoom.
15. Some guest posters will be invited here if they want to help (but not for placing), the Clan Summits, the fellow House summits (Gladius and Cestus), and some people if necessary.
16. Let’s be sweating and write! Have fun!
Cancellation, disappointment and failure. Those swamped Odin’s thought when the negotiation between House Tridens of Clan Tarentum and House Marka Ragnos of Clan Naga Sadow ended up at a stoppage. Anshar directly commanded his Quaestor to depart from the Orian System as soon as the meeting over. Odin quickly ran back towards his shuttle, instructing the pilot to move towards the Hydian Way as fast as he could. Nothing would hold him there, not even the amity that seemed forced and barely trustable. These things had strained his conscientiousness, weighing his shoulders profoundly.
“Sir. We will approach the ring in thirty seconds. Initiating hyperjump, “the pilot reported, breaking the Quaestor’s reverie.
“Hold it!” Suddenly Odin decided a new course, as a holographic galaxy map floating before him,” We won’t go to Yridia. Here…Sullust. It’s our next destination. I will make a contact to Tarentum from there. I need to meet someone.”
“Then the next jump will be from Eriadu. A bit complicated from there, Sir. The planet is not so friendly.”
“Then make it a fast turn. I want to dun a promise.”
The green stripes rapidly painted outside the windows of the shuttle, as they entered the hyperspace travel.
“We’ll land on Sulon, Sulluth Moon,” An authorized voice cracked the silence.
“The Fallen City, Sir?”
“Yeah, not too near, a mile or so will be fine. It’s not supposed to be an official visit.” The Warrior, now dressed in his cloak, sat back on his seat.
The shuttle landed smoothly on the ground, hidden by the shadows of several huge rocks. Behind them was the Fallen City, another black market site known in Odin’s list.
“Is the transmission okay?” Odin asked without turning his head, continued his attempt to contact Tarentum.
“Yes, Sir” the pilots nodded, “Tridens’ line is clear. Holograph or Two Dee, Sir?”
“Two Dee. Yeah, Consular link seems busy,” Odin smiled seeing his Aedile shown on the monitor.
“Hey you” Elols greeted casually,” How have you been?”
“Tired. How’s the plan B? Is it working?” Odin replied
“Observing the outcome of Samur contention? Yes, as you’ve ordered. Cestus has one shard and Gladius two. But the prizes have taken Windos down as the sacrifice,” The Aedile reported, “Oh…and Brimstone too.”
“We don’t know yet. Maybe. The Vong has wounded Windos severely but I heard he’s on Master Bloodfyre’s hands now. The Chiss? Only the Force knows.”
“Then, we shouldn’t need to worry,” Odin grinned in relief before continued,” I will find a way to supply the current need of our Clan. I will damn find a way…”
“How?” Elols inquired.
“I’ll let you know. I’ll leave this channel open. For now, I must go to meet someone, “Odin set his hood over his head and stood.
“May the Force serve you, Quaestor.”
The Aedile saw the image of an empty cockpit as Odin went out to have his journey on the Fallen City. The pilot glimpse was the only moment that attracted his attention half an hour later. It was followed by a dark figure and three men, clothed as a merchant and bounty hunters.
“Come in, Hedge.”
Odin sat and turned his seat 180 degrees. The Aedile could notice a finger pressing a button to set a one way contact.
“What the hell is he doing?” The Hunter mumbled.
“Is that necessary to bring those two? I only want to ply you”
“Yo, fella. Won’t they be a problem for ya, Jedi? Haha! Na..na…They’re my loyal fellas.”
“Bounty hunters aren’t that devoted. Anyway, back to business. You said you had the Insight of Lehon, the thing you wanted to give me once I saved your life couple years ago. Now, you want a price for it?”
“The situation is different. Yuuzhan Vong is still a problem. Not all of them accept the triumph of the Galactic Alliance. I don’t bring the piece everywhere, too risky. I left it in Bakura and the gate would be still in Lwhekk. Ya sure, ya still want it? Big price, fella.”
“Bring us there.”
Odin turned his seat and Elol could hear the engine activation
“Ya know fella, not so soon…”
An explosive sound disturbed the communication line but the monitor still showing white smoke filling the room. The next image would be a body slumped against the monitor. Elols could see the badge of Tridens on the black image.
“Ya follow me, fella… not the reverse.”
The screen had been shut off by the bounty hunters, yet the Bothan was still staring blankly at the black monitor. Hundreds of thoughts were swarming his mind. 'Who are these people? What were they talking about? Where was 'it' at? Why did they knock Odin unconscious?' He quickly brought himself back from these numerous questions buzzing in his mind and concluded that is was time to begin taking action. As he was pulling on his combat attire, he began sending an urgent message to the whole of Tridens.
Everyone, this is of extreme importance, so I'm going to skip the frills. Odin has been captured by three bounty hunters at minimum. Volunteers are needed to be sent on a rescue. Anyone willing to go, meet in my office prepared to leave in thirty minutes.
'I have thirty minutes to get a plan together and figure out how I‘m going to explain to Anshar and Dranik that Odin is missing.' thought Elols. He was silent as he was running countless idea's through his head. The young Aedile grabbed his Sai and his cloak and began to walk towards his doorway. As he was trotting through the hall to get to his office, idea's still buzzing, one stuck out from the many and left the Jedi Hunter with a smile on his face. 'If I play my cards right, maybe I can get something out of this that I've wanted all along...'
"Oh, the big bad Jedi is finally coming to now, is 'e?"
Odin was beginning to stir. He was bound with some type of metal wire. He could see his clothing and his weapons piled into the corner of the room. It was a dark, a single light directly above him. Four gray walls, with the only exit being a lone door to his right. As his senses were returning, he felt a throbbing in his head, and a severe pain in his chest. He felt the cold metal underneath him and got a full breath of the stench of the room. These bounty hunters were scum, and he believed that they lived in this disgusting place.
The Quaestor pulled himself into a sitting position with much difficulty and glared towards the bounty hunter directly in front of him. "Where am I?" He asked with anger in his voice.
"Ya in our home now Jedi. Ya can't boss us 'round no more. Ya see what happen when ya tell us what ta do?" He answered with a hint of arrogance floating in his deep voice.
The hunter to his left chimed in, "We tells ya that we cause ya trouble, but ya don't listen, do ya. Ya want what we have, but ya just wanna take it, don't ya Jedi? We don't let ya steal from us, and now ya have to pay!"
As the bounty hunter finished his sentence, a devastating blow was delivered to the back of Odin's head with a blunt elbow from the first bounty hunter, and he fell back to the ground, unconscious again.
“Odin has been captured by three bounty hunters at minimum,” came the announcement and Jedi Hunter Kyra bolted out of her quarters barely grabbing her lightsaber in the process. Sprinting to her Aedile’s office pushing several younger dark Jedi out of the way, which she cared little about as her master had just been captured. The young female hunter had only one thing on her mind as Elols’s door loomed in front of her, get her master and kill those who dare take the Tridens’ Quaestor.
“Kyra, no time for talk we have work to do, but first watch this,” said the Bothan Jedi Hunter as he played back the transmission.
Anger welled up inside the Dathomiri as she witnessed her Odin’s capture by those bounty hunters. “We must get him out of there, and Vong….Insight of Lehon?” bluntly stated Kyra.
“I don’t know, what you saw and heard is all I know, but I may have a plan?
Kyra knew others would come soon; two of them could not take on bounty hunters alone and anyone else who may be with the Sith Warrior. “Elols, those Hunters must not be working alone, someone else may be behind this, someone more powerful, shouldn’t we prepare for all possibilities,” said Kyra. “Yes, of course,” replied Elols as he went back to planning and preparation. The female Jedi Hunter continued to pace back and forth; very soon those hunters will have a taste of vengeance by House Tridens the Dathomiri thought as her head turned toward the Aedile, watching as he prepared to contact the Tarentum summit.
Odin regained consciousness once again.
“Why am I here?” Tridens Quaestor demanded from the bounty hunters
“Ya going to give us what belongs to us,” the hunter replied sneering at the Sith Warrior
“You will pay for this,” Odin said with a slight smirk, knowing the Dark Jedi of Tridens would come, but when.
“Hah, jedi, think your fellas would come, huh, oh but we are waiting for them, if they can find ya,” rasped the hunter as he jabbed Odin in the abdomen.
Odin fought back the pain, keeping himself as aware as possible. He would not give in to them, succumb to the wills of bounty hunters would be no option. Maybe I have what they want, but they are not getting anything from me thought Odin as the main bounty hunter grabbed his head and began to strike the Quaestor several times. He battled back the pain and humiliation of this torture, and all he could do right now is wait. Unless there was another option… thought Odin.
The door of the elevator silently opened to both sides in order to send out a few Dark Jedi, including a small black robe figure stepped out in the last. The figure was completely covered by the dark robe except for his green eyes to show his inner fire flaming deep inside the dark hood, and also, his footsteps echoed in the corridor clearly suggested his intense emotion wrapped inside the dark robe. As he hurried in the maze of Castle Tarentum, Guardian Cypha, an Arkanian and Anzat hybrid, recalled a conversation with his Quaester, Odin from a day ago. He looked doing very good, and his dignity and integrity almost overwhelmed Cypha even through the holo communication as always.
“Cypha, I’m sorry, the negotiation with the house Marka Ragnos didn’t go through well… I know you’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. But…”
“Don’t worry, Quaester, we will have a next chance, and we have a lot to do anyway.”
“Yeah, by the way, Cypha, what about the project I asked you a month ago, did you make any progress?”
“What? Oh, oh, that history thing… sorry, it’s been late. I started searching the database though, found something else in the library, some recent rumors about ancient Rakata Prime stuff. I thought that was interesting, and…”
“Rakata… well... Cypha, that hinted me something. I have to run now. We have to talk as soon as I get there, all right? Odin out.”
As his memory went that far, Cypha stopped in front of a door, and took off his food to reveal his pale white skin under shiny white hair both making a contrast with his dark outfit. Opening the robe in front to reveal his tight fit armor with his lightsaber on his waist, he abruptly slammed the door open to make his way inside the Aedile’s room.
“So, what is that all about this time?”
Interfered their conversation, the disturbed two Jedi Hunters, Kyra Starfire and Tlaloc Elols turned their face to the head strong Guardian just to return a bitter smile back to him.
The Warrior suffered some more severe hits on the head granted by the bounty hunters, before the merchant came in and took a hold of their bash. Hedge strode closer to Odin, whom now laying face down with blood pooled beneath his face.
"Having fun with my fellas, ya, Jedi?" Hedge's hand grabbed Odin's hair, forcing an eyes to eyes contact, "Ya'r no different with the one I met long time ago. Easy tricks. Ya pick a wrong man to trust, fella."
"Damm, Hedge," Odin spat some blood out of his mouth,"I could've left you died in Servacos II, and let the eel crunch you!"
"I'm no more the same man. Treasures are my desire. Just seeing ya back as like a gift comes freely to me. Now, I hunt these...see," Hedge took his datapad, and turned it on before Odin's face, "Need these pieces of a broken thing called...Crystal of Tears. The price is fantastic to all of them."
"Who... do you work f..?" Odin gasped as one of the bounty hunter zapped him on the back with an electrical shock.
"Stop, need him alive now." Hedge halted the bounty hunter seeing the second attempt to try the new toy," Who do I work for? Sure thing, myself. I ain't gonna disappoint ya old fella, we'll take ya to Bakura. With those pieces as the exchange. Hahaha!"
"You [Expletive Deleted] That Insight wasn't there, was it? You just fooled me over these past weeks!"
"Oh, it was...and I'm sure it's still on its place. I check my stuff, regularly. Though you'd be the best price to get it back!"
Hedge laughed out loud, stood, and had his way to the steel door. Odin glanced towards his lightsaber on the corner, but his hands must be freed first. Concentrating to have the Force work on his wirelocks on his wrists, he tried to change them into dust. However, the success was only a half as one of the bounty hunters witnessed strange black spots to the wires, as they began to loose. The bounty hunter quickly zapped a shock right onto the back of Odin's neck.
For the third time, Odin fell unconscious.
"The Jedi's trying to free himself!" the bounty hunter shouted.
"Haha, drag'im up to the shuttle. We'll leave soon. Should I not get the pieces, at least his price's worth a Bakura's fly-by."
The hunters then dragged the Quaestor by his shoulders, leaving the trails of blood as they went to the hangar. They soon got into the shuttle, throwing the lifeless pilot out before starting the flight. In seconds the shuttle flashed towards the Sullust' dark sky and had its way on the route to Bakura.
Meanwhile the big screen in front of Elols' desk flashing an urgent notice of contact from the Consul. As Elols pressed a button, Anshar appeared clearly.
"Aedile, report current Tridens' status."
"Anshar, Odin has been captured," stated the Bothan quickly as he waved Cypha and Kyra out the door. "He sent me a transmission that showed a conversation between him and three other bounty hunters outside the Fallen City. I suspect that they are Force Sensitive, as they knocked him unconscious without having a chance to react. I have a team of three ready to leave now, and I am contacting Priest Kazarelth as soon as I am done talking with you."
Elols could see the dismay on his Consul's face, "Alright. You know what to do. Report to me as soon as you return."
As the Aedile closed the link with Anshar, he motioned for Kyra and Cypha to reenter his office. "Cypha, I need you to get any weapons for us that you can find. Thermal grenades, pistols, snipers, etc. You know the drill. Find them and bring them back here immediately."
The young Roll Master began spun around hastily as he answered, "Yes, Aedile," and began running out of Elols' office.
Tlaloc stared into Kyra's eyes as he began his instructions for her, "I need you to do me a favor. Contact Apollo, and tell him our current situation and that I requested his help on this. Tell him we need a way to the Fallen City. He has two ships that we may be able to use. If we get there and are outnumbered or outgunned, I don't want us to be sitting ducks."
As the Jedi Hunter heard these last few words, she gave a swift nod and turned on her heels to face the door. "I will return shortly, Aedile."
A grin began to grow across the Bothan's face as he opened a communications link with his master, Priest Kazarelth Talismarr.
"Tlaloc Elols, my apprentice, what can I do for you?"
"Master, I desperately need your assistance. Odin has been captured by several bounty hunters." As Elols finishes his sentence, he begins the playback of the transmission. The Cestian Quaestor watches without showing any hint of emotion.
"Elols, I don't see why you need me. I have my own duties to take care of, you know that. You have others in your house just a capable as I. Take them."
As the young Bothan spoke his next words, a trace of anger laced his voice. "Kazarelth Talismarr! Odin is your friend, and fellow Clansman. All who have volunteered adds up to a Jedi Hunter and a Guardian. How are we supposed to take on three bounty hunters that might be Force Sensitive?" Tlaloc took a moment to calm himself, and leaned in closer to the screen. "Master, I am going to go after him, with or without you. But I will tell you this. As it looks now, we don't have the manpower to return."
The Omwati began scrounging around through his papers, looking for something. "Elols, when are you leaving?"
"As soon as we have ships and weapons. I'll say within 30 minutes we'll be in our ships ready to leave."
"Alright. Rendezvous with me in the Aegis platform.”
As the Cestian closed the communications link, running footsteps could be heard in the corridor outside the Aedile's office, growing louder. After a few moments, Cypha barged into his office, breathing heavily and carrying a large bag on his back. "Sir, I've collected several types of weapon that I believe will suffice."
"Good job Cypha, but I have one question, where did you find these weapons?"
A smirk appeared on the Roll Masters face, "I went to each of the Tridens members and told them we needed weapons. Some were more than happy to donate a grenade or two, others were made to be willing to give what they had."
Elols couldn‘t help but let out a laugh as he heard his friend‘s reply. “Heh. Cypha, one day you will make a fine Dark Jedi.”
As the two of them were still laughing, Elols’ comms link alerted him showing that Kyra needed to speak with him. He hastily opened the link, hoping for good news. “Yes Kyra, tell me you have some ships for us.”
“Apollo has agreed to help us, Aedile, but he says that if we take his ships, he is going to come along and pilot his fighter.”
Cypha noticed that Elols almost seemed relieved as Kyra said this. “That is no problem at all! Apollo is an excellent pilot, and will be a huge asset to the team. Good work Kyra.”
“So what are our plans now?”
The stern look most often seen upon Tlaloc’s face returned, “We leave now for the Aegis platform. I will tell Apollo on the way there, and we will meet with Kazarelth. Kyra, select what you want out of the weapons that Cypha hoarded for us on the trip there. Those we will keep on our persons. Others will be stored on the ships as backups.”
The Bothan walked silently towards the footlocker in his room. As the lid opened, a cache of decorative weapons could be found. Out of which he pulled four Sai, a couple grenades, and a large blaster rifle.
“Fellow journeymen, we leave now…”
The Aegis platform stood melancholically between the planet and its moon. A shuttle descended upon its landing area and rested upon it with a slight “whump”.
Priest Talismarr surveyed the surroundings as he got off, his sapphire blade gingerly taking a peek outside his cloak. Behind him, his Aedile descended curtly followed by her apprentice Jaron Kai. The Rollmaster of Cestus, Vai Azexel stayed inside the shuttle with the other members, waiting for a word from the Summit.
Kazarelth's apprentice did not have many members in the rescue mission; most were away on their separate training missions. And in the midst of this Tlaloc had called on him for support - Odin had been captured by Force sensitive bounty hunters.
Force-Sensitive bounty hunters? Surely his apprentice was overreacting. Yet, if they did manage to hold another man of equal power, they must be powerful… or have powerful friends.
Ronovi walked towards the cantina. She was restive; her last mission had gone well, yet the Epicanthix was nervous about this one. The Cestian Quaestor would not have asked for such a conglomeration of members on this mission unless he believed it was pretty dangerous.
As Vai checked his gear, he heard the sound of approach of two shuttles. He gestured to Talismarr who looked at the ships.
His mind involuntarily began probing the vessels for signs of life. Tlaloc, his apprentice was undoubtedly in the lead ship, with a large segment of Yridian special troops. The other ship had the Guardian rollmaster, Cypha and another unknown Jedi Hunter. As the two ships landed, men on the platform immediately began refuelling them.
The trip to the Fallen City would be a long one.
The vessels landed softly, and perfectly, and a figure jumped out of the hatch.
Elols walked out and bowed low in front of Kazarelth.
“Thank you for coming, master. Your presence will no doubt-”
‘I agreed to come only for Odin, Elols. Your words, insolent as they were, struck chords.’ A chilling, deathly voice evolved around the Bothan and his crew. Cypha shivered as he looked at Kazarelth with a slight bit of fear.
“I… I only ask your forgiveness, master.” Elols muttered.
‘You shall pay for what you said, apprentice. For now, what is your plan?’ Kazarelth’s Force-aided voice made up for his recently shattered voice-box, yet intimidated most Dark Jedi under his rank.
“We will be looking for our Quaestor in the Fallen City…” Kyra started, and then faltered as Talismarr looked at her with an alien expression, “…sir.”
“We have two attaché majors of the I Corps, Kyra and Cypha, master. They have brought their very best men on this mission.”
“We are confident that they will be capable of defeating any bounty hunter scum without even our help, sir.” Cypha stated, proudly.
‘So we will see.’ Kazarelth spoke slowly and looked towards Sword’s Sheath.
"And that is all Tridens has to offer for the rescue of their Quaestor?" Vai's tone was incredulous. He looked at the three Dark Jedi and almost involuntarily snickered.
Elols looked coldly at the rollmaster, while Cypha almost bared his teeth. This was not going to be a very cooperative mission.
Ronovi returned to the group to see that tension was already beginning to set in. Smirking, she was again reminded of the last mission on Samur, and though seeing curtness between the Houses got her eager for some conflict, she wasn't up for much infighting this time. Nonetheless, she kept up a grin as she stepped beside Kazarelth, handing him a full glass.
"Servo for you," she said as she sipped the Corellian whiskey she had ordered for herself. She then looked at the Tridenians, as Cypha glared at Vai. "Hey, now, what's the matter? We're off to rescue Odin, this should be an adventure."
"Tell your Rollmaster to mind his manners," Cypha growled.
Ronovi raised an eyebrow comically at the Tridens Rollmaster's command before looking at Vai, who remained silent with his brow furrowed. She then said robotically, "Rollmaster Azexel, I must tell you to mind your manners before someone backhands you."
Kazarelth snorted in his drink while Kyra rolled her eyes. Elols remained unamused as he eyed his fellow Aedile.
"Once you're done enjoying your drink there, Tavisaen, I suggest we board the shuttles and depart to Sulon," he said.
'We'll be leaving shortly, my apprentice. On another note, the Lieutenant Colonel has brought some men as well,' Kazarelth said, referring to Ronovi as he sipped his own drink. 'So we should be all set with military back-up. But don't any of you think this will be easy. You're fortunate that we're rested enough to take on this mission with you.'
"I'm not backing down from something like this," Ronovi said, taking a long drink and gritting her teeth as it burned her throat and heated up her ears. "Let's get to the Fallen City and get the Quaestor, shall we?"
Elols nodded before turning to Cypha and Kyra. "You both get the shuttle prepared for take-off. It'll be a long trip to Sulon."
As they departed, Elols looked to the group of Cestians before him. "Master, I couldn't be more grateful for this. Let's hope we can all cooperate."
'I'm not asking for a repeat of what happened on Samur,' replied Kazarelth, recalling the turmoil they has faced when encountering Gladius. 'This is a rescue mission, not a treasure hunt.'
Elols nodded and bowed before leaving for the shuttle. Ronovi emptied her glass in one more breath as Jaron looked on amusedly.
"I hope you enjoyed that," she said as the Cestians headed back to their shuttle, with Kazarelth and Vai leading the way.
"You'll find the comforts of it some day, my apprentice," Ronovi replied, grinning as she boarded the shuttle and the doors closed with a hiss. In a few moments, they would lift off, prepared for the long trip to the Fallen City.
“Did you see the look on Cypha’s face Jaron? It was priceless” said Vai with a grin as he practiced flipping a dagger in his right hand as the shuttle lifted off the Aegis platform and moved through Yridia space.
“Their devotion to the Quaestor is admirable, even if they weren’t able to gather more Dark Jedi to support this mission” added in the Firrerreon Rollmaster.
Over the COM, the shuttles pilot alerted those onboard that the hyperspace coordinates to Sulon had been locked in and awaiting final clearance from the Aegis platform.
“What the hell, we’re being targeted” sounded the pilot alertly. Those onboard clinched, then a moment of silence followed by Apollo over the COM, “hey cestians, couldn’t resist.”
Apollo’s fighter moved into formation by the other shuttles that then all jumped into hyperspace for Sulon.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
“Damn Vai that arrogant bastard. Were trying to save Odin, and he makes a joke out of us.” said Cypha with much anger as he looked out the window of the shuttle toward the shuttle carrying the Cestians.
“Calm down Cypha” said Kyra. “There is no good getting upset over a joke. He most likely didn’t mean anything by it”
Yet, for some reason, that simple joke had aggravated him and there was no telling what could happen next.
Cypha held a rifle firmly in his hands, occasionally adjusting the scope. He wasn’t the only one readying their weapon as members of the 2nd battalion of the 2nd brigade were doing the same as they prepared for hostilities. Major Kyra’s troopers were performing the same readiness tasks.
Jaron sat next to the Cestus Rollmaster, not too far away from her Quaestor and Aedile, who were conversing quietly about the situation. Their departure from the Aegis platform had been rather hasty, and while Jaron knew the essentials of the mission - go to Sulon, rescue Odin, bail out Tridens - she figured there had to be something more. She could hear bits and snatches of her Master's conversation with Kazarelth, and feel the edges of the tendrils of the Force that Kaz now used to communicate. Those were disquieting, but focusing her attention and growing power, she enhanced her hearing momentarily and reached out with tendrils of her own, trying to intercept something useful from her superiors' private meeting. Jaron was perfectly aware that Ronovi could tell what she was up to, but she pressed on, and sensed some small amount of approval from her, even as she glared, so Jaron turned away, returning their privacy.
"I caught some of that," Jaron announced to Vai, "they're talking about something called the Insight of Lehon."
"What do you suppose that is?" Vai asked.
Jaron fiddled a bit more with her blaster and its scope, she was still getting dried blood out of the little crevices, but that was all right, her E-11 had been through six years of combat, it had earned the right to wear a little blood. "Another prize?" she mused. "Maybe Anshar is testing us again, I suppose that means we eventually have to play nice with Tridens though, doesn't it?"
Vai grinned, "Not before we get to see the look on Cypha's face when Cestus claims this reward as well. And we certainly don't have to play nice with these bounty hunters."
The two journeymen laughed together, relishing the notion of some good hand-to-hand combat, until the pilot announced that they were approaching Sulon.
"Sir, we've come out of hyperspace on target, the Fallen City is below us."
The Tridens Aedile nodded, "Signal the others," he ordered a soldier at the comm station, "we'll put down... here." He pointed to flat area far enough outside the city to go relatively unnoticed, yet close enough to approach on foot. "Inform all units that this is our rally point, and that I'll brief them fully once we're on the ground.
"Message sent, sir. We're heading down now."
Tlaloc nodded again absently, he was reaching out with the Force, but he couldn't sense his Quaestor.
"No matter," he announced to no one in particular, and sounding not fully convinced "our search will yield results, they are only bounty hunters."
The two vessels landed with low hisses as Kazarelth, Vai, Jaron, and Ronovi exited one of them with a few foot soldiers behind them, all appropriately armed. Apollo landed his fighter shortly afterward, stepping out and walking over with his robes billowing behind him. Elols exited his shuttle only a moment later, with Kyra and Cypha behind him and all three looking concerned. Ronovi had not left for this mission without a full flask handy, which she opened and drank from with satisfaction. One glass of whiskey wasn't going to cut it as she stared at the outside walls of the Fallen City.
'What's the status on Odin's presence, Elols?' asked Kazarelth as the Bothan solemnly approached the Cestians and the Gladius Quaestor. 'I don't sense anything at all.'
"And you're right...I sense nothing, either," replied Elols. "I'm getting a bad feeling that Odin may not be here. And if he is still, he's hidden well within the city."
"Either way, I'd recommend doing a bit of detective work," said Ronovi.
"What do you mean by that, Aedile?" Cypha asked.
"Simple. If Odin's here, we seek him out. If he's been taken away from Sulon, we search for the trail left behind," Ronovi explained. "If these are bounty hunters, they've got a ship which engines probably left some radiation behind, and if we can sense that, we can pursue them from there."
"You sound confident of this plan," Apollo said, smirking, "but I hope you're not expecting to take these men in with you and do a raid."
Ronovi laughed. "Oh, no. There's no need for military intervention yet unless we want to ask for extraneous combat. My men and the majors' men will guard our shuttles and your fighter just in case someone finds them even this far away from the city. Of course, I'm only putting out this plan as a motion."
'I believe I'll have to second it,' Kaz said, and Vai and Jaron nodded in approval.
"I can't see how it'll hurt," Kyra said. "One way or another, we'll find something."
"What do you think, Elols?" Cypha asked, looking at the Tridens Aedile. He hesitated before nodding.
"All right, then. A short search in the city will do, so long as we don't attract too much attention. Everyone, keep your Force senses wide open. We want to make sure that we can find anything that can get us to Odin."
The group set off, approaching the walls of the Fallen City while extending their Force feelers toward anything that could detect the Quaestor's presence. What they were unaware of was that the ship Odin was on was already landing on Bakura, where orders awaited the seemingly independent captors.
The green and blue planet loomed in front of the bounty hunter shuttle as Hedge and his men prepared for a quick landing. Odin’s sore head was barely able to swim up the depths of his consciousness when another severe blow sunk his mind again.
“This ‘ere Jedi… why’re we takin’ ‘im along?” A bounty hunter asked Hedge, scratching his head with the same iron rod he hit Odin with.
“’Cause the boss asked us to bring ‘im in.”
“…the Boss did?”
“Aye, and that’s that lad. Ye’ll get ample credits for keepin’ yer mouth shut now.” Hedge growled and focused his attention on the planet.
“Can’t wait to get ter Gesco City, I want some namana…” The second bounty hunter sniffed invisible liquor, “… ah. It be addictive y’know? I bet Gesco has a lot of-”
“-we are not going to Gesco City, Marv. Now shuddup and prepare for landing.”
“Where’re we landin’ then, Hedge?” Marv asked, astonished.
“The Boss… told me. Now shuddup.”
“-And you will not go to Lwhekk, Hedge” A cunning, baritone voice streamed out of the hood. He was toying with his datapad, stopping now and then to answer Hedge.
Hedge frowned. The hooded man was very powerful, but it was entirely foolish to not get the Insight of Lehon and go on the search for the Shards.
“But… ehehe… Boss…” Hedge started gingerly, “you um do know that the uh… Insight is a necessity on our little ‘enterprise’ eh hehehe.” The man’s voice trailed off into a cowering laughter.
“I know that, Hedge.” The Boss replied curtly.
“So… uh…. If you don’t go to Lhwhekk… you won’t have the Insight, boss.”
“I have retrieved it from Lwhekk.”
The simple, yet decisive sentence rang out sharply to the group of bounty hunters. Their hearts missed a beat, as they heard his voice echoing in their minds.
Abruptly Marv blurted out, “But the Ssi-Ruu! They… they would’ve killed you!”
“They didn’t, as you can obviously see.” The bounty hunters associated a wicked smile with that sentence almost instantaneously.
“Anyway, gentlemen. We have business to take care of.” He slowly nodded to himself, and punched something on his datapad.
“You betcha. We ‘ave this Jedi’s friends comin’ after us.” Marv said enthusiastically.
“Or so he claims… Marv.” Hedge scathingly added.
“No, they will be here. And sooner than you think. But I believe I do have a few surprises ready for them. H’m” The Boss said.
“This search is leading us nowhere, Aedile.” Cypha spoke up after an eternity of searching.
“Everything leads to something, Cypha. I’ve shared a strong bond with Odin. I know I’ll get to him, somehow.” Elols concentrated more on his tendrils. They grew, but faltered, not extending properly, or searching effectively.
“Or maybe it doesn’t…” he mumbled to himself, frowning and retracting his tendrils.
‘Or maybe, you’re not looking for the right things, my apprentice.’ Kazarelth’s voice held sway over Elols’ head as his datapad suddenly beeped.
Tlaloc took it out, studying it intensely.
“Radiation records…” he mumbled as he read through the data, and suddenly realisation dawned upon him.
“Of course! Just like Ronovi said. And that is definitely the make of the bounty hunter ship. I saw its interiors.”
He shot a smile at Ronovi before curtly giving an order for the team to get back to their ship.
“That looks just like my ship.” Hedge said, approvingly.
A very believable clearing had been made on the forest floor, and a ship stood majestically in its centre.
“For all purposes from now on, that is your ship, Hedge. Your ship will be docking with mine.”
“We will be going much further. And my soldiers will definitely take care of the Jedi.”
“Whoa… waitaminute. What kinda ship d’ya have Boss?”
“Let’s just see it, shall we?” Again, the bounty hunters attached a smile involuntarily on the tone of the voice.
“Well… yeah. Okay. Yer the boss, Boss.” Hedge said, and shook his head slightly as they boarded the Hedge’s ship, Odin’s still-unconscious body being dragged behind them.
As the ship left the atmosphere of Bakura, a fine corvette peeked gingerly at the vessel from just beyond the curve of the planet.
“Tha’ corvette is yer ship?!” Marv blurted once more, barely able to contain his excitement.
“’Tis a Marauder Corvette ain’t it?” The other bounty hunter incredulously said.
“It sure is fella…”
“The radiation signs show the last planet as being Bakura, sir.” The pilot gestured at his visual panel.
“Good. Plot a trajectory to it. We have a Quaestor to catch.” Elols ordered.
“…But sir. It’s… it’s near the Ssi-Ruu--gck –gak--” the pilot felt bolts of pain shoot through his shoulder where Elols touched them.
“You will plot a trajectory, won’t you?”
“Yes… sir. Of… course. Sir.” The pilot panted, swallowing his breath.”
“Send the plot to the other ships. And make it fast, lieutenant.”
Elols stared out into the open sky, nervousness coursing through a face that felt the first few wrinkles of leadership and responsibility.
In the same ship, Kazarelth felt his apprentice’s concerns, smiling at the grit of the Bothan. This was set to be an adventure.
“Landing on Bakura in two minutes, sir.” The pilot gave Tlaloc a heads-up. The Jedi Hunter had been in conversation with his master when he was called.
“Alright. Inform the other ships. Apollo is to remain in orbit, while the other ships land.”
As the ships landed, a sort of dead weight settled on the Dark Jedi like a noxious cloud. As they saw the landed ship, they were delighted, but at the same time very nervous.
Something was not right.
‘I cannot sense anything inside the shuttle, Elols.’ Kazarelth said.
“What, you mean, it’s empty?” Kyra questioned.
“No, I understand what he means. It means his tendrils cannot penetrate it.” Ronovi quipped. The entire expedition had landed in front of the main hatch of the shuttle, forming a rudimentary crescent. The troops fanned out, led by the Dark Jedi.
Ronovi and Cypha cautiously walked towards the main door, with two soldiers standing beside the door, pressing themselves at the ship. They nodded at four more as they cautiously walked towards the door. Ronovi had ignited her lightsaber, and moved in.
The leading soldier stepped towards the hatch, and after a tentative stop nodded at his teammates. Receiving an approval, he hit the butt of the rifle against the hatch in an attempt to elicit a response.
He got his response.
A small bomb exploded on the hatchway, hurling him and everyone around him away. As the smoke billowed and the laser-bolts rang out, Ronovi’s cybernetic eye could see a reptilian foot step out.
“Ssi-Ruu!” She shouted, startled and dismayed.
“No…! P’w’eck! Three of them!” Cypha shouted harder, jumping out of the way of the Ssi-Ruu slaves.
Soldiers were strewn about on the ground as the P'w'ecks emerged from the shuttle. Cypha got up and readied his rifle as Ronovi startled by the explosion regained her composure.
Was this a trap, did the bounty hunters know we were coming, who else was involved thought Kyra as she ignited her lightsaber ready for a fight. She never before encountered a P'w'eck nor a Ssi-Ruu. Not knowing what to expect she readied her troops and began to yell orders at them.
The Dathomiri fired several shots at the reptilians with a blaster gained from Cypha's hoard of weapons. Not the most skilled with the weapon she hit one of the Ssi-Ruu slaves, but not enough to stop him.
Ronovi tore through one with her lightsaber as she had the advantage of being closest to the shuttle and attacked from behind.
"P'w'ecks aren't very bright" she shouted, and the more experienced Tarenti followed suit.
There did remain an air of caution , there may be more than three P'w'ecks in that shuttle, and others maybe lurking about ready to ambush them, including those bounty hunters.
The Dathomiri braced herself with an ignited lightsaber as a P'w'eck faced her, she dodged his blasts, but before Kyra could strike Kazarelth pierced the reptilian with his lightsaber. He glanced at the strange Jedi Hunter, but turned to face his apprentice engaged with the last remaining foe.
Kyra ran over to her aedile and Cypha as they stood over the last P'w'eck.
"Was that the last of them" Kyra said to the two Dark Jedi. "No one else had come out, but don't assume anything," replied Elols.
"Should we wait to find out or go search this planet for my master," Kyra bluntly stated to the Tarenti. "He obviously isn't in this ship."
"This ship was a set up, those bounty hunters tricked us," said Jaron as she came over, so to did Ronovi and Vai.
"We don't know were they took him," replied Elols.
"Wait, I hear something," Ronovi raised a hand to silence the Tridens Dark jedi.
"What?" whispered Elols.
"There's more or them," Cypha said gripping his rifle.
Jaron and Vai waited, as Kazarelth came forward to assess the situation.
Sensing something more powerful than the P'w'ecks, the Cestus Quaestor glared at the Tarenti saying "those P'w'ecks were only a deterrent, the real threat here has closed in on us".
Blaster fire resonated around the shuttle's clearing followed by a group of what appeared to be ten warriors coming out of the forest toward them.
"By now they have met my surprises," the hooded figure said to Hedge
Turning toward the half-conscious Odin he sneered "I have sent my best force-sensitive warriors to stop your little rescue party."
Odin could only sit there through the torment.
After the bounty Hunter's ship docked with the Marauder Corvette they dragged the Triden's Quaestor onto the ship.
"What are ya orders, Boss?" asked Hedge
The Hooded figure stared out at Bakura half ignoring the bounty hunter
this post will be fixed by odin, others continue to go on and post
As Ronovi watched in horror as ten warriors darted between the trees that surrounded the clearing, she realized that it wasn't all of them. As she dodged blaster fire and flanked her apprentice, she saw that about fifteen more combatants were coming toward them. While many were Ssi-ruuk carrying rifles and blasters, several also seemed to be average thugs, waving around vibroblades and the occasional Force pike. Ronovi furiously took a drink from her flask before activating her lightsaber and watching its blue blade dance as she twirled it.
"This is getting more and more hopeless by the minute, isn't it?" Cypha snapped as he ducked from more blaster fire.
Ronovi was about to respond when she heard the sound of fighter engines up ahead. With the warriors closing in, Apollo had taken the time to move away from his post. She heard her comm click as the Quaestor's voice crackled on the other end.
"Hold on, people, I'm coming in!" Apollo shouted as he swooped in about ten meters above the clearing. It was enough to get five or so of the enemy fleeing, but the rest kept pressing forward.
Ronovi found herself as well as the others shuffling backward as she adjusted her headset comm. "Apollo, we're gonna need back-up!"
"Back-up? What back-up?" Apollo demanded.
"I don't know! Some back-up! Any back-up!"
Apollo nodded to himself before lifting his fighter into higher altitude. As Ronovi moved into an offensive stance, she focused hard through the Force.
Doni Tzu...Doni, can you hear me?
She yelped as she barely dodged another blaster shot as Kazarelth ignited his lightsaber and deflected some of the bolts. To her relief, a low whisper came from the Force connection.
Ronovi, I'm surprised by how worried you sound.
Doni, where are you? I'm on Bakura and it's not looking good at all.
I see...and what makes you think I can help?
Aren't you capable of translocation?
Again, what makes you think I can help?
Ronovi flinched as she saw the glint of blades edging closer and closer to the group, which had moved tightly together with their lightsabers and firearms raised. Does the idea of beating down almost thirty baddies about to do us in sound good to you?
There was no response on the other end, just as a thug stepped up to the group and pointed the tip of his weapon at them. "Boss says yer to come with us," he said.
'Not if we can help it,' Kaz audaciously replied as the two Guardians, two Aediles, and Quaestor ambitiously pointed their weapons at the intimidating group.
"What? What do you mean, no Tarentum military support?" Apollo barked as he circled the clearing where his allies were surrounded. Oberst's calm, cold voice crackled from the communications in Apollo's fighter.
"I mean I'm not going to afford any military losses for this sort of mission."
"This is Quaestor Odin Vaaj we're talking about!"
"I can train another Quaestor," replied Oberst, "but I can't just snap my fingers and get a hold of another capital ship."
Apollo cursed as he dipped lower toward the trees. "All right, then, Marshal, what's your suggestion?"
There was silence on the other end before Oberst spoke. "You have connections, don't you? Use them."
Smirking, the Gladius Quaestor turned off his comm. It was true, he did have past connections, and one name came to mind. Still, the irony was overwhelming as Apollo thought how once a former rival of the Brotherhood would now rush to aid sooner than Tarentum would.
Turning back on his comm unit, he used an old frequency that he hasn't used in quite a while. The comm flickered before the connection was locked in. Suddenly there a burst of static and then silence. Apollo almost canceled the signal for another attempt when a familiar voice boomed in his ears. "This is Wing Commander Domi."
Apollo smiled at the sound of his old friend from the Emperor's Hammer and a past member of Clan Tarentum. "Domi, It's Joe...er, Hades. I have a very strange yet urgent request for you and I was wondering if you were in my neck of the woods..."
Apollo could feel the pause as his old friend and former Clanmate recognized his voice. Even though Domi was a Krath Pontifex and former QUA of House Tridens, it still took him a fraction of a second.
"Joe?! Holy.. It's been a long time! I heard you were coming back around.. where are you?" Domi asked, clearely interested.
"Well, heh, you see I'm in a pickle and I need some help old friend." Apollo asked as he banked his starfighter around and cut his speed by half.
"Well, the Quaestor from our House Tridens has been kidnapped by some-kind of bounty hunters. And well, they may or may not be force sensative. Long story but we're trying to find him. We tracked him down to Bakura and turns out it was a set up. I have another QUA and several members of our Clan Tarentum down there fighting for thier lives. I'm in a TIE Defender but there isn't much I can do. I'm affraid if they are captured we will never find them." Apollo took a deep breath as he looked through his Heads Up Display and selected single fire for his lasers.
"Bounty Hunters captured the Tridens QUA? How could that have happened?" Domi asked, openly getting upset.
Apollo lined up his target, the furthest three enemy combatants away from his poeple and opened up with a four round burst. The lancing high-energy bolts tore through two while partially exploding the third. Apollo pulled up slightly then went into a high speed turn as he kicked up the throttles. Years of basic starfighter tactics flowed back into his memory as if they were always freash on his mind.
"It's a long story Domi. And I hate to use your personal connection to Tridens like this.. but." Apollo said after he gained altitude, confident he wasn not being targeted as of yet.
"Understood, Hades. And you happen to be in luck!" Domi said and he could almost visualize his friend's generous smile. The small fleeting hope in the pit of his stomach that his friends wouldn't fall victim to this ambush finally began to sprout roots.
"I'm the Wing Commander on the ISD-II Challenge. With the New Republic's recent blessing, we're conducting a training mission around Endor. Somone on the Command Staff thought it would be good for the rookies to learn about space combat by actually being in the same vaccum where combat history occured." Domi's voice trailed off in Apollo's helmet as his mouth litterally came open.
"Wow. Your at Endor?? Your, what.. two hours away at lightspeed?" Apollo asked as he did some calculations in his head.
"Correct. I can get the Commadore on the horn and inform him that an EH flag officer is in distress at Bakura and we need to expedite a rescue attempt."
Apollo flipped his fighter around before closing his eyes and clentching the flight controls in a silent cheer. He took a long deep breath before responding.
"Domi.. thank you. You have no idea how important this is. I owe you, so does everyone on the ground your about to save. We can hold on until you arrive. "
"See you in two hours. Domi out." And with that, the comm clicked off.
Apollo quickly turned the frequency to the comm channel the search party had been using and keyed the mic.
" Listen up! I have military back up on its way! I have a heavy captial ship with starfighters en route. ETA two hours!"
"Two hours?!" Elols responded as he continued to battle a rather feirce blue Ssi-ruuk warrior.
"What makes you think we can wait two hours?!" He screamed, desperation and a bit of anger pouring into the Force from him.
"It's either that, or we die Elols." Apollo said brining his figher around for another pass, this time aiming just outside the fighting, hoping that he loud distraction could confuse the enemy enough to give his friends a fighting chance.
We can do it! Kaz's voice echoed through the Force as he peirced the lungs of the large reptile infront of him, not stopping to breathe before taking it's head.
"Finish thease guys off. Then.. escape and evade... We have all been trained on how to do this!" Ronovi yelled through her headset comm as she drove forward and two the right, immediately coming up behind her attacker with a suddenly strike as it's spine. The newest Knight in Tarentum attempted to catch her breath as she finished off her opponent.
Apollo began to hear others of the team start to pour positive feedback into the comm channel. The morale of each member began to rise. The though of defeat slowing loosing ground to the ever rising tide of hope. The Force began to flow with determination and strength as all Tarentum members could feel it within them, pushing them to fight harder. They had a window of oppertunity now. They just had to make it happen. They just had to survive.
Apollo rolled in and let loose with three laser bolts just to the side of the large melee unfolding below him. Feeling useless in his black TIE Defender, he rolled off right and continued evasive manuvers. He wanted to join the fight on the ground badly, but knew how big an asset air support was to ground personnel. It was hard to resist the urge to land, but he knew he needed to have faith in his team. They were well trained and knew how to fight.
"It's only a matter of time now.. " he said to himself.
Can you hear me?
The tenuous, ethereal force tether to his apprentice quivered, as a string stretched and blown in the wind. Fear. An emotion not very frequently conveyed by his newly Knighted student, and as such all the more reason to take seriously.
The adept gingerly replaced the antiquated volume he was poring over within the confines of his quarters in Castle Tarentum. Having just recently returned from a long hiatus, both physically and mentally, he was a changed being. Not quite alive anymore, not quite dead, voluminous robes and a plate steel mask hid the horror that he had become from the eyes of the living. Bereft of a lightsaber, he also seemed bereft of mass, and it was said by his apprentice upon first seeing him again that was a shadow filling out a sheet. Weapons were no longer a requirement for such entities.
Focusing on the force link, his consciousness followed it back, through space, past the stars between them, to her eyes. The adept saw what his apprentice saw, memorized the details, and in the second required to whisper the incantation...
the force binds all life
Despite the new infusion of vigor from Apollo circling overhead, the outnumbered Tarenti had only gained a little ground and killed a pithy few of their attackers. Fresh reinforcements poured out of the forest in waves, encircling the small group and hemming them into the clearing. That they had not yet delivered the coup de grace indicated their wish to capture the Dark Jedi alive.
Of course, the will to remain free for a Dark Side user is strong, and all present were aware that the mysterious force ambushing the Tarenti were willing to make certain... sacrifices in order to capture even one of them. The anticipation of wholesale death hung in the air as brother and sister in the Force stood shoulder to shoulder, for what many thought may be their last time. Knowing glances were exchanged between the few who perhaps wished they had more time to say things that they needed to say.
Suddenly most of the Tarenti froze. The younger seemed more confused, the elder more hesitant. Elols looked sideways at Ronovi and furrowed his brow, keeping one eye on the vicious P'w'eck dinosaur looming over him.
"Does anyone else feel that?"
The lead mercenary's jaw went slack as some... thing literally folded out of space not a few feet in front of him. Vaguely humanoid, it was a terror to behold. The will to survive gripped his mind and he turned to run.
A commanding shout crashed like thunder into the clearing and echoed through the trees.
"DRAIN... LIFE" the shadow roared, and the nearest four mercenaries gurgled sickeningly as they shriveled into withered corpses before the very eyes of their brothers-in-arms.
Some now turned to run, the braver raised their weapons and fired at the gleaming yellow eyes that burned behind their mask. Most scorched the dark purple robes of their nemesis and others were reflected back to their source by the lightsabers of the Tarenti behind him.
In an instant the tide had shifted. Their ranks collapsing, the hunters had become the hunted as the Dark Jedi of Tarentum sensed the change in momentum and rushed their opponents.
Doni Tzu took a deep breath, gathering the life force of the newly dead and channeling it into his being. The grass and plants around his feet turned ashen gray as he raised an arm and snapped it down with another thunderous command.
"WAKE THE DEAD"
With that, the bodies of six fresh corpses rose from their slumber. Mindless automatons, they slavered after their former allies, sending even the stoutest who remained to flee in terror.
As they bounded into the forest in voracious pursuit of their prey, Ronovi shouted their new perogative to her clanmates.
"Capture one alive!"
At the sight of her master, Ronovi could not help feeling excited as well as invigorated as he made his slaughter. While he obviously could not take them all down, the remaining warriors were frightened enough to flee, though of course not without turning to fire more shots at the pursuing Jedi. The Knight was barely able to catch up with Doni Tzu, sensing that any force-sensitives who may have been sent to fight them had already disengaged before the true action started.
"Think you can slow one of them down?" she asked her master as she deactivated her lightsaber and retrieved one of her SSK-7s.
Doni's eyes were on one human mercenary as he scrambled in and out of the interwoven trees. "One good shot should take that one," he replied.
Ronovi nodded as she aimed her SSK-7 at the mercenary, only to see Cypha appear with a yell as he landed a shot on the mercenary's leg with his rifle. He along with Kyra intercepted the writhing attacker as Ronovi saw Kazarelth and Elols take down a Ssi-ruu while Jaron and Vai took respective shots at those who were disappearing into the thick of the woods.
"One more's down!" Ronovi heard Vai shout as he and Jaron jumped toward a couple more thugs.
The group was gathering again as the captives were dragged over to a certain spot of dirt in the forest. With many of the warriors gone, Ronovi took the time to seize one thug by the collar, just as he screamed at the top of his lungs.
"Apollo. Come in, Apollo."
Apollo was still sweeping the trees attempting to detect his allies. "Domi? Is that you?"
"Yes. We're approaching quickly. It should be another hour before we arrive."
"One hour. Good. I'll tell my group. Oh, and Domi? Thank you again."
"Don't waste your time thanking me. Just watch out before we get there."
"Shut up!" Ronovi snarled as she pressed her SSK-7 against the thug's head, but he quickly kicked at her just as they heard more snarls and yells from the trees. He was able to break free just in time as Apollo's voice erupted from Ronovi's comm headset suddenly as she approached the fallen mercenary.
"Everyone, get back to the clearing and board your shuttles! Wing Commander Domi will be here in an hour."
"Whoa, it's been an hour already?" Vai panted as he watched in awe as Doni Tzu used a Force trick to submit the remaining mercenary to unconsciousness. "That went by faster than I thought."
"Be grateful that's the case," Elols said. "Here, I'll take the captive. We need to get back to our shuttle so we can at least hold off any remaining enemy attack in a cluster instead of running around."
He slung the mercenary over his shoulder just as Ronovi thought she saw more shadows appear behind them as they turned. They would have to resort to the original plan before Doni Tzu showed up - escape and evade.
As the rattled members of the rescue team began to make a hasty retreat back towards their shuttles, Apollo screamed by overhead. Gaining altitude he turned his nimble fighter back around and lined up the far side of the clearing in his HUD. The very ground where the ambush had taken place soon became riddled with laser fire from his cannons. He continued to strafe that particular treeline and those closest to it, allowing the team time to escape. At least for now. Pulling up his comm unit he keyed the group's frequency.
"Well, I don't see any pursuit yet. I'm still fine-tuning my sensors for life signs or signals but as far as I can tell, you're in the clear." Apollo said as he finished up his last run. Banking the fighter again he gained altitude over the tired Tarenti. He could tell they were keeping a quick pace for now.
"Thank the Force!" Jaron said as the Cestan aided Elols with one of the prisoners they had just captured.
"This Isn't over." Doni said as he seemed to effortlessly float quickly through the dense forest. And right he was. On cue, Apollo's sensors chirped at him. Bringing up the sensor data to a side screen he scanned the information and frowned.
"Damn." Apollo said over the open channel.
"What is it, Apollo?" Ronovi said as the team continued to make it's way to the distant shuttles.
"He's right. I have a sensor blip and I'm trying to identify it. Stand by." he said, flipping a few switches to his right side. Boosting his sensors did the trick.
"Ok kids. We have a GR-75 transport bearing down on us from the Northwest. It's heading for us in a straight line, which I bet Isn't an accident." Apollo slowly added some left rudder to his flight path. The move altered his course by a good twenty degrees.
"Apollo?" Doni asked, sensing the change in the fighter's position.
"They are more than likely heading in the general direction of the way you guys fled. So I am going to move off in a different direction to see if I cant lead them off course."
"Good plan, Apollo. If that doesn't work?" Elols asked.
"Ooh, gotcha. Good luck." said the AED.
"ETA to intercept is ten minutes. Hopefully they aren't just looking at their scanners and actually have their eyes open." Apollo said as he altered his laser cannons to periodically link up with his ion cannons.
Several minutes went by before Apollo seen the large transport was only off course from the rescue team by a few degrees. Pulling his fighter into a tight turn the Quaestor gained more altitude then increased speed as he nosed his fighter over towards his target.
"Sorry guys, it's time for Plan B. I'd pick up the pace if I were you." he said as he armed two of his advanced concussion missiles and began to lock onto the unsuspecting transport. As he did so, two of the transport's dual laser cannons began to fire randomly into the forest below it. Apollo's rage quickly reached a boiling point as he squeezed the trigger unleashing his first devastating volley.
With a flick of a switch, he was back to his linked laser cannons and began to open fire, aiming for the laser cannons on the top section of the ship. The missiles had just found their mark slightly in front of the small command module sticking up from the main body of the ship, as the laser bolts began to strike home. Apollo continued his attack as the ships defenses quickly turned to engage this new threat. Dodging from left to right, he gained speed and distance from target before coming back around for another pass. By this time the transport began to turn towards him, attempting to put all of it's cannons to bare on him at once.
"Apollo! Status!?" Ronovi yelled as she could hear the battle overhead unfold.
"I'm engaging the target. Get your people to the ship. I can take care of this!" Apollo said as he rolled his fighter onto it's port solar panel and into a quick turn before shooting sky-ward. He then switched his cannons to full link mode so when he fired, all four laser cannons as well as his two ion cannons would fire on the target simultaneously. He opened up with everything he had as the HUD turned green. Green and blue fire burst from his cannons towards the enemy ship with devastating results. As he pulled away again, his comm suddenly burst into static followed by silence.
" Un-identified vessel, this is the Bakuran Defense Fleet. Please identify yourself and prepare to be escorted to the nearest base immediately." said a calm male voice.
Crap.. He thought to himself, semi-surprised it had taken them this long to respond to all the blaster fire in this area. As he prepared to respond, he remembered that they shouldn't be able to detect his fighter on their sensors.
"Not likely Bakuran pukes!" shouted an angry voice. The voice was unfamiliar to him. Apollo noticed the incoming laser fire from the transport had ceased. Coming around he could see the transport making for high orbit and space with a smaller yet better armed Bakuran ship in close pursuit. Breathing a sigh of relief he turned his fighter back around. The team should be nearing their shuttles by now if his calculations were correct.
The comm unit crackled in his ear again.
"Did someone call for a rescue?" Domi's voice was un-mistakable.
"Domi! Good to hear you!" Apollo responded enthusiastically.
"What's your situation?"
"We were getting hammered by a bunch of ugly reptiles in a GR-75 transport, but it seems the Bakuran Defense Force woke up and is in pursuit. The ones in the transport have an idea where Odin is, Domi."
"I don't think we can intercept them, Joe. But we can get a good idea where they are going and go from there. Are your people safe?" he asked, clearly concerned.
"I believe we just made it out alive. And if I'm not mistaken, have a prisoner to show for it. I'm sure you will want to speak with him yourself." Apollo added with a smirk.
"Indeed. We just arrived in orbit, do you need a shuttle?" asked Domi.
"Negative. But thank you. Stand by." Apollo patched Domi through to the rescue team's frequency then keyed the mic.
"Status?" he asked.
"Starting up the shuttles now. No sign of foot pursuit." Ronovi stated as she made sure the prisoner was secured tightly in his seat.
"We will be lifting off in a moment." Elols added from the other shuttle.
"Good to hear it." Domi said. Then added, "You have priority clearance to land in the main docking bay. I have transmitted clearance codes for approach. See you when you get onboard Tarentum."
As the shuttles began to lift off Apollo took one last look at the fleeing transport, now only a small speck in the sky. He wasn't sure if there were any more survivors on the planet, but he knew that the team now had the resources to get the job done properly. He slowly eased into escort formation with the Tarentem shuttles as they powered up for the climb into space towards the large Imperial-II -class Star Destroyer looming over head in the evening sky. He could feel the tension in the shuttles as quite a few of the Tarenti were shocked that such a large ship responded and felt uneasy at the thought of landing on a ship of a former enemy.
His smirk grew into a full grin. He had to admit, he loved the irony of it all.
As the shuttles climbed through the atmosphere, Ronovi saw the Imperial-II class star destroyer for the first time. As they moved closer, she watched as the entry to the main docking bay slid open just as she heard Jaron's shocked voice.
"I know that ship. That's a ship from the Emperor's Hammer!"
"It is," Doni Tzu replied as he stood over the unconscious prisoner.
"But isn't the EH our enemy?" asked Vai.
"Not until recently," Ronovi whispered. "But what I don't get is why they're here and Tarentum forces aren't."
"That's...mind-boggling, to say the least," said Elols.
"Apollo has some friends in the Emperor's Hammer," said Doni Tzu. "They're not quite the baddies you've heard in stories. And now, they're our allies."
Ronovi nodded as the shuttle prepared to land. She looked at Kazarelth and knew that he was thinking the same thing, how weird it was that the Emperor's Hammer, a long-known enemy, had jumped to their aid first. It would prove to be a very interesting experience.
"Well, that didn't go the way y' had it planned, did it, Boss?" Marv asked, chuckling nervously as the hologram of the events of the attack disappeared. The hooded figure did not speak, merely rising slowly before extending his hand. Marv began to gasp and splutter as the Force choke took hold of him.
"You would do well not to attempt to humor me, hunter," the boss spoke calmly.
"Geez, Boss, let 'im go, 'e meant no harm!" cried Hedge, and surprisingly leniently, the boss let Marv drop to the floor. He turned and began to pace, still eyeing Odin's half-conscious body as the ship glided through space.
"In that case, we'll have to go to more extreme measures," the boss said. "I only meant to capture them, poor fools. Now they'll have actual blood to pay."
"What do y' plan to do, Boss?"
"Nothing like some back-up interception to do the trick," replied the boss. "If they're hoping to follow us, they'll have to break through some 'shields' first."
"You were sent by someone else other than bounty hunters, weren't you?" asked Elols.
The mercenary did not reply as he sat shackled to a chair in an empty room of the ISD-II Challenge. While Apollo had gone to the control room to speak with Domi, Ronovi, Kazarelth, and Elols were attempting to get some answers to where Odin could be now. And as it was turning out, bounty hunters weren't the only ones responsible for his capture.
"I ain't gonna tell y' nothin'."
"You think it'll do you any good to keep your mouth shut?" Ronovi snapped. "Just tell us who your boss is and where he's heading and we won't make your life Hell."
The mercenary smirked. "An' who says my life isn't already Hell as is?"
The Epicanthix fiercely cracked the mercenary in the jaw, watching the blood pool from his mouth as he laughed. She was ready to strike again when Elols grabbed her arm. "Enough! We want him to talk, not lose teeth!"
"My boss has me on pay fer workin' wi' him an' keepin' quiet," the mercenary said, snickering. "What do y' have to offer fer me, hmm?"
"Your damn life," Ronovi snarled, but Kaz's voice stopped her from making any more attempts to hit the prisoner.
'Enough, Ronovi. I expect better from you.'
In response, Ronovi angrily drained more from her flask as Doni Tzu moved from the wall he had been standing by, looking like a shadow until now. He walked over to the mercenary slowly, his yellow eyes glowing maliciously.
"It is better for you to cooperate, if you wish not to endure the same fate as your comrades," said Doni Tzu as the pulses of necromancy could be sensed throughout the room. For the first time, the mercenary flinched. "And let me remind you that we're not just capable of simply letting out your blood like a leech before you talk. Now who are you working for?"
There was silence in the room and Ronovi felt to urge to punch the mercenary again, but he finally spoke, albeit hesitantly and coldly. "My boss is not yer ordinary kinda guy, either, y'know. Y'think y' can take him out, even with yer toys an' magic tricks? He's got plenty o' resources, an' those bounty hunters ain't workin' fer him fer free, either. They'll be takin' yer friend to a place where the boss can carry out his wishes."
"Where is your boss?" Doni Tzu asked, his amplified voice even causing Ronovi to shudder. The mercenary sneered.
"And what do I get fer tellin' y' that?"
Doni Tzu replied, "As my apprentice so elegantly put it...'your damn life.'"
Two Tridenians, Cypha and Kyra had left in one of the mazed corridor of the star destroyer, seeing their Aedile disappeared behind the closing door of the interrogation room.
“I hate this happens. They always take the fun part.”
Cypha grinned without trying to hide his irritations at all, and continued.
“I hate it! I feel like everything is going wrong on this mission! How many times I have said I don’t like shooting guns or rifles? Did we have to go through this stupid trap? And, do we really need a help of that impertinent Firrerreo?”
On the other hand, the Dathomiri Jedi Hunter, who was used to the typical short temper and arrogance of Arkanians, just ignored him as always. She slowly turned her face to give him a serious look, and asked him back a question trying to change his focus on the practical matter at hand.
“They knew we were coming… and the enemy had some Force sensitive soldiers… I think this has been all planed. I think there must be mastermind behind Hedge, or the bounty hunters. Who are they, and what are all these for?”
“I don’t care who the hell they are. We will just slice down all of them until we find Odin!”
Kyra almost murmured moving her glassy eyes from Cypha’s eyes to down on the floor. Then, slowly she started walking down the corridor. As Cypha with frown on his face followed on her back, the young Obelisk Hunter continued her questions.
“What do you think, Cypha? What do you think they want? Their purpose is not Odin… Odin is bait. Do they want us, or something from us? Or…”
As Kyra paused her sentence, the two Dark Jedi stopped in the middle of corridor in front of the doors of an elevator. For a second, Cypha looked into Kyra’s dark blue eyes sinking deep into her memory, but suddenly came up with an idea from his own memory.
“Maybe… Something to do with the Insight of Lehon?”
With a slight smile, Kyra’s eyes pierced back into Cypha’s. But as the door of the elevator was soon opened, two Tridenians walked into the empty cell and kept silent for a while, trying to search their memories to get any kind of hint from the transmission between their Quaester and Aedile, which they saw in the Aediles room several hours ago. It felt almost eternal time for them until the elevator stopped to send them out to show the deep black space with tons of beautiful stars scattered through the huge transparasteel. It was the control bridge of the star destroyer.
“Well, well well… The Rollmaster of Tridens, and famous Jedi Hunter Kyra Starfire.”
Cypha quickly turned back to see the source of the familiar mocking voice, and found two tall figures from House Cestus. One is a Dark haired human woman with a hint of sneer on her face, and another humanoid muscular male with golden long hair with a full smile and a mockery tone.
“Vai, Jaron… Finally finished drinking, huh?”
Cypha’s sharp look was clearly expressing his inner flame, but he continued with a calm tone.
“Nice shot down on the planet.”
“You too, Cypha. You got one mercenary with a help of our Aedile.”
As soon as the tall female Protector replied, the Dathomiri Jedi stepped forward to get between three Dark Jedi before argument went further. But suddenly, all of their attention was gathered onto one of the radar operators who shouted from their back.
“Sir, take a look at this!”
All of the Dark Jedi sensed the unusual tension in the operator’s mind, which made all of them immediately gathered around the radar screen. From 2 o’clock direction of the circle screen, some red blinking dots appeared one by one as the ship went forward.
“What is this?”
Nobody answered to Jaron’s question coming out of her mouth almost unconsciously, but all of them felt the strong Dark Side of the Force drifting from the direction where the ship was approaching.
"Kirrek? Are you sure?"
The mercenary smirked and spat out whatever blood remained from Ronovi's prior punch to the mouth as he looked at the group of Dark Jedi. "Y'asked me wha' planet my boss is goin' to, didn't y'? An' I'm tellin' y' where he's goin'."
"Did he tell you why he was planning to go to Kirrek?" asked Elols.
The mercenary shrugged - as well as he could with his arms being shackled, anyway. "Jus' because I know where he's goin' don't mean I know anythin' else."
"Why not, though?"
"Whaddaya mean, 'why not'? I'm jus' a guy workin' fer him. Hell, I was meant to capture you, not the damn reverse. All I know is wha' the folks in my group was sayin'. Some word may get around fast from our higher-ups, but not much more."
Doni Tzu slowly nodded before turning to the two Aediles and Quaestor beside him. "It's good to know, nonetheless."
Ronovi nodded. "At least he finally cooperated," she said before casting a sharp glance at the mercenary while rubbing the knuckles on her right hand.
'It still leaves us with the question of why Kirrek, which I'm curious to know about even if we can't get it from this prisoner.' Kazarelth paced as he spoke through the Force, his eyes dim. 'It would be good to as least theorize, if nothing else.'
"Of course we can theorize," Doni Tzu retorted, "but in the end, that's all it is. Theory. Of course, I would agree that some ideas on the table wouldn't be a bad idea, as long as we don't abide to them as fact."
"State your ideas, then," said Elols.
"From what I know of Kirrek, its ancient cities were destroyed thousands of years ago by the Krath leader Satal Keto," replied Doni Tzu. "But I also know that a highly advanced race has been able to survive mostly off the planet's plantlife. Regardless, when there are ruins, there are opportunities to find many things."
"What, like secret cults or something?" asked Ronovi.
"Precisely. That, or secret laboratories. With destruction comes a lot of operations deep within the confines of archaic remnants." Doni Tzu looked at the mercenary before adding, "and from what I can tell, this captor we're chasing after has ties with a lot of species...including the Ssi-Ruu."
"And he'd probably be affiliated with the Ssi-Ruu for their technology!" Elols cried.
"Good, you're catching on. Yes, most likely for their entechment technology, to be precise. To have a Jedi, especially a Dark Jedi, is to have a great source of power. And when enteched, a Dark Jedi can become a powerful superweapon. So of course, with a Dark Jedi in his grip and more following..."
"Don't say that," Ronovi pleaded. "There's still got to be more to this. The Insight...what is that all about?"
"Again, all I have is theories," said Doni Tzu. "For all I know, I could be completely wrong and Odin may be serving another purpose for whomever we're chasing. As for this Insight, that's still something for us to find out."
There was a loud banging at the door as Doni Tzu finished up, and Kazarelth opened it to see a crewman outside the room. "Wing Commander Domi wants all of you in the control room. We've caught something on the radar."
'A blip on the radar, eh?' Kazarelth muttered, smiling. 'Perhaps it's who we've been looking for.'
"If so, good riddance. It's about time we found the bastard and got Odin," grumbled Ronovi, but she could see Doni Tzu already shaking his head.
"I highly doubt that it would be so easy to find them now...as we all know, this foe has more tricks up his sleeve than previously thought."
With that, the House Summits departed from the room, and Doni Tzu looked at the crewman before saying, "We'll need someone to keep this guy under watch."
"We can do that, sir," replied the crewman as he watched the four Dark Jedi stride down the corridor toward the control room.