"Emergency activation in progress," a voice said both in Basic and a foreign language. A hum suddenly filled the air, and lights started to blink on the bacta tanks.
"Holy mother of..." Drodik growled. Yep, he should have left the tanks alone, right from the beginning. Some emergency system was probably thinking of system failure and now revived the remaining Jedi. He could feel it, the Force strengthened and there was some movement in the tanks. Additionally, the air got fresher. Could it be that the ship had been on reduced life support only until those people woke up, whoever they were?
Drodik reacted instinctively and sliced the saber he had taken through the next tank, in the hopes of killing as many of them as possible before they would fully wake. It was a Calamari, he noticed - somehow this ship must have a connection to the Republic of old. Even if the design was still confusing to him.
The Quarren woke, but he, too, died before he could react. But Drodik's luck ended there. The other tanks had managed to activate their contents and the Jedi woke up. Still very weak, but this would make no difference when it was 22 to 1 and he was not even a full Knight.
"Something's wrong," Uzbad said all of a sudden. He had felt something - a wave of force swapping over him like summer heat, trying to burn his soul.
"We know that, Uz. It's..." Macron stopped as he felt it, too. "Now what was that?"
Comm links bleeped into life, as the same question was asked by almost everyone.
"We should all meet up somewhere," Tiberius said. "But we have just a slight problem there." The sound of firing droids explained what he meant.
"Come down here," Ban was heard. "They'll shoot each other at such close parameters..."
"Sounds like you need help," Uzbad felt the need to comment.
"Yeah alright, smartass," Tib shouted. The sound of an explosion followed. "we... WATCH IT!"
Then there was silence. "It's only the comm, they are still alive," Uzbad suggested.
"Yeah well, but is Drodik?" Gaidal was heard. "He's not said anything."
At that moment, the ship vibrated in a certain way, and the hyperdrive sounds ended. They had reached their destination.
"They sound pressed, and the ship just stopped." Macron spoke. "C'mon Uzbad, we're getting out of this cabin. No lightsaber necessary. I got just the thing right here."
Macron extracted some incendiary acid from his portable analysis kit, and slipped it into the lock mechanism. He always carried an array of chemicals, and not all of them were recreational in nature. Any good alchemist would.
"Cover your nose and stand back..." the alchemist warned Uzbad. "This is some bad juju here. This stuff would ruin your whole day."
Macron activated the internal air supply in his combat jumpsuit, and watched closely as the acrid fluid did its work. The acid sizzled and popped, and ate right through the mechanism with a horrid stench. Wisps of thin green vapor still curled from the hole where the lock mechanism used to be.
Macron nodded to Uzbad, and the two slowly slid the door open with a grinding sound using the Force and sheer evil strength.
Standing outside was a droid, insane after the ages and ready to kill. It was a labor droid, with large cutting shears and drills. Macron realized immediately that the droid was responsible for the pounding sounds on the door earlier.
The droid moved to attack, trying to grasp Macron with its shears and sever an appendage. Any appendage. Uzbad circled to the side, and attempted to deactivate the droid as Macron fought it.
"I'll be damned if you repair me, you bucket of bolts," growled Macron.
The Sith drew his blaster, and pounded the droid with sizzling green fire as it moved forward. The droid was terribly strong, but slow as hell. Several shots slowed it down enough for Uzbad to find the deactivation switch.
Uzbad grinned and gave a thumbs up as the droid stopped moving. "Hey, let's go find the others. I wonder what happened to Drodik... you never can tell in this nutty ship," he said.
Macron keyed his comm. "Alright, Tiberius and Ban, we are inbound on your position. What is our primary target?" The two Dark Jedi ran at breakneck speed down the deserted dusty corridors to aid their comrades.
“Drodik left his post”, Koi mumbled. The three men looked at each other and saw the dilemma they were confronted with.
“We should look for any sign of Drodik; he might need our assistance”, said Semyon.
“When we would search for Macron and Uzbad, we might be able to save two men instead of one”, Koi stated.
“I believe you’re both right in this matter; we can’t leave anyone behind. This ship is like a living curse and it will haunt us forever if we stay here or leave someone behind. But we need to set out priorities…” The two men looked at Gaidal like they were expecting a full explanation for his response.
“Yes, Semyon”, Gaidal explained, “The fact is that we still have contact with Uzbad and Macron and lost all communication with Drodik. So we don’t know anything about his situation, but at least we know that the other two are still alive. Besides, like Koi mentioned, they are with the two of them and Drodik is alone. I know that last argument works both ways, but first we’ll assist Macron and Uzbad. After that we’ll decide what to do next, which will most likely be to start looking for our companion.”
“And what about Ban and Tiberius?”, Semyon asked.
“Well, I think those two can save themselves for now”, Gaidal concluded, “What’s your opinion about their situation, Koi?”
“I think they’ll be able to save themselves for now, sir. Uzbad and Macron asked for our immediate assistance and Tiberius and the Rodian did no such thing. We should get moving”, Koi explained his point of view.
“Excellent”, Gaidal said, “But we have to keep our eyes open. You probably felt it too; there is a great wave of Force going through the ship. If I’m right, and the prophecy is right, this ship maintains more secrets than Darth Revan ever had in that brilliant mind of his. The Usita Clan was a gathering of mostly collectors instead of warriors and they collected a specimen of every interesting life form or example of technology they encountered. Even from far beyond the borders of known space. Still, I can’t explain the presence or the source of this tremendous Force power. I also feel strong echoes in the Force, which means a lot of people died extremely horrible and painful deaths here. But we have to go, no time to waste now.”
The three started running through the corridors and were getting closer and Gaidal felt the presence of Force power growing and growing step by step. What in Sith’s name was happening? What did Drodik do? Gaidal believed that he was somehow responsible for its appearance, probably by accident. So typical Drodik, but he would get him out of here. That ignorant brother in arms was supposed to die elsewhere in another time and not here.
The humming kept filling his mind with the same monotone and annoying sound, as well as the red flashing lights, indicating a certain alert phase, were getting very unpleasant. Meanwhile they were running through another corridor with huge windows at their right hand. Suddenly, Semyon stopped and pointed his finger to the window. “Gai… Gaidal! Look!”, he mumbled.
“Well, this is very interesting”, Gaidal replied, “I believe we have reached our destination… or what is left of it.”
“Indeed”, Koi finished.
The three of them were looking at a huge dark planet covered with volcanic activity and magma bursting out. A huge space station was floating around it in orbit. The station was in a very bad condition and nearly destroyed. It looked like it had survived an enormous battle and a lot of debris of the station itself, but also of destroyed ships were floating here like a meteor field. What the hell happened here and why did the ship come to this particular region of space?
“Wait…”, Koi declared and grabbed his DL-18 blaster and was prepared for battle, “I heard something, a noise.”
“Footsteps”, Semyon whispered and rested with his hand on his Togorian Sc'Rath.
“They’re getting closer”, Gaidal mumbled, who equipped his lightsaber. He desperately hoped that it would work this time.
Macron and Uzbad ran for their lives, because of the droid rapidly following them. The huge labour droid was only a prologue. A huge army of enraged droids followed. Sometimes he and Uzbad stopped to fire at the droids and to rest for a short moment, then to continue their run again.
“Just go around the corner, Uzbad”, Macron yelled at his companion, while he fired a couple of blasts at the droids.
He followed Uzbad around the corner and stopped. Finally, they found some of the others! Koi, Semyon and Gaidal were standing in front of some huge windows.
“Under these circumstances it’s good to see you”, Uzbad declared.
“The same here”, Semyon sneered back.
“Well, we’re in a difficult situation here, a droid army is following us and they’re not exactly friendly. I believe we really need to go.”
“We should go the chambers of the Usitan Commendatore, these are nearby”, Gaidal stated.
“The chambers of who?”, Uzbad responded.
“Long story Uzbad, but I’ll explain it there. Those chambers are easy to defend, which I would prefer in this situation.”
The five men left the corridor and ran as quickly as they could to the chambers. Gaidal explained every detail about this ship, the Usitan Overseer, its prophecy and what they could expect for unpleasant surprises there.
“Interesting”, Macron concluded, “and I think this ship travelled to far. It encountered ‘something’ and it wasn’t supposed to encounter or shouldn’t have encountered this ‘something’. I believe the Black Nebula Crime Syndicate eventually got this ship in their greedy claws. It was programmed to go to this region of space, but it looks like the Syndicate’s residence here was destroyed by something extremely powerful. The original Usitan crew and the criminals of the Syndicate; they both suffered greatly because of this ship. Don’t forget about that Jedi you found, Gaidal! It looks like this ship might indeed be a living curse to its inhabitants, like it’s almost alive.”
“What about the others”, Semyon came up with.
“Well, we lost all communications with Tiberius and Ban. They were having some troubles as well with the droids. No sign from Drodik”, Uzbad answered.
“I think we should go looking for Drodik. I believe he found something very unpleasant in the lower cargo compartments. Something very unpleasant with a tremendous Force power”, Gaidal concluded.
“True, so that’s what we’ll do”, Macron answered.
Gaidal started moving into the direction of the door, when it slid open and something cut him in the chest. He fell on his back on the ground and saw that he was bleeding, but not mortally. He looked at the doorstep and two tall Twi’lek males entered the room, wearing grey robes. One had a white double-bladed lightsaber and the other two black lightsabers. The first had a blood red skin and the other dark blue. The red skinned Twi’lek with white saber looked at Gaidal and there was no emotion at all in the cold silver eyes of this man.
The other one spoke with a deep and loud voice.
“You have a nice Sith reunion here. Are you as strong as your companion, who was below? Haha, in that case we have nothing to worry about. Everyone remains here until our general is ready to meet you, and none moves unless we say so. Do I make myself clear? Remember that we could destroy you without even blinking, foolish followers of the Dark Side! As long as we, Martrim and Nezrim Terakius, are standing here, none will pass…”
Gaidal crawled back at the others and got on his feet again. The group looked at each other and knew they were trapped.
Drodik opened his eyes carefully and realised his vision was extremely blurry. He felt on his head, which had a huge bump on top of it. Darn, what happened to him? He tried to sit and felt really sick. It looked like he had been unconscious for quite a while. What was this place? He was sitting on a small bed and looked at a force field. A man in white robes with short white hair was looking at him and was grinning.
“Well, well, you’re finally awaken. It took a while…”, the man sneered.
“Where am I?”, Drodik asked.
“In the brig of the Usitan Overseer, dark Padawan”, the man answered, “the only place where we could monitor you safely. Sorry for the bump on your head, but you should know that you could killed quite a few of our group. We couldn’t take the risk of you killing some more.”
Drodik did not know what to say. A man was standing in front of him, with a tremendous force power and who could easily kill him, which he had every reason too because Drodik killed quite a lot members of his Jedi group, and this man apologised for a bump on the head? Strange, very strange.
All communications were out and Tiberius looked at his battered com link. Darn, it meant that he and Ban were on their own now. Ban was still shooting at the droids that were crawling through the door. If only he, Tiberius, could close the door. He looked at the door, when he heard a click behind him. He turned around and saw rhe elevator opening its doors. Somehow the elevator was brought back to life. How was that possible? Tiberius had been trying everything to get that thing to work. He looked at the control panel and noticed something strange. Like the air was moving or the wall was coming to live. It had the shape of a person and was moving away from the panel. A cloaking device perhaps? Intriguing, but no time to waste under these circumstances. The lift opened and Tibrius went straight to the doors, while looking behind him.
“My dearest Ban, somehow the cursed elevator started moving. I suggest that we should use this splendid opportunity to get out of this unpleasant situation”, Tiberius yelled to Ban.
Ban started moving and jumped to the door and landed on both feet, while saying: “Am right here!”
The elevator started moving and went down, while they both heard a strange rattling sound on top of the elevator. Suddenly the bloody thing stopped with a squeaking sound.
“I got to say Tib that this was most definitely not your best plan. I think I’d rather be taking my chances with the droids out there in the annex then waiting for them to open this lift like a big can and spray us all with fire.” Muttered Ban in uncontrolled fury.
“We are out of immediate danger Hunter. Now we must sit and wait for the lift to start moving again.”
“It’s not like we have a choice is it?” Bit Ban back.
“Rodian, I must admit you have a pretty large vocabulary for someone of your lesser species but if you carry on with all these words all they are going to get you into is an early grave. Now silence and let me think.”
Muttering something in his native tongue Ban sat down in the corner furthest away from Ban and checked his weapon. The modified DL-44 blaster he had had with him on landing had eaten through half of his first power pack so that meant he had nigh on twenty shots left in the pack. He was lucky he always had the foresight to carry more then one pack. As a matter of fact it was a running joke in the Equite circles of Tarentum that Ban always carried enough ammunition to take down a Battalion on his own! Pressing the removal stud on its hand grip he slammed in a fresh pack and stowed the other in his belt, reaching into another pocket he extracted a ration bar and began ingesting it.
“That any good?” Asked Tiberius.
“Rodians think so.”
Settling back to eat the remainder of the bar Ban’s ears pricked. Cocking his head towards the roof he directed a question towards Tiberius.
“Did you hear that?”
“Hear what Rodian?”
“A kind of squeaking sound coupled with a scraping sound. Something’s on the roof!”
“Don’t be stupid I would have felt anything through the Force.”
It was at this moment that the roof of the elevator began to glow. The metal of the roof began melting and peeling away from the centre-point of the concave roof.
“Some Force talents you have” Muttered Ban as he used the Force to deflect some of the molten globules away from him. Tiberius did not reply.
Cocking his blaster he pointed the muzzle up towards the roof and waited. After a few seconds the roof disappeared and in its place came…nothing…
“This doesn’t make sense!” Spluttered Tiberius.
It was then Ban noticed a slight shimmer in the gap where the roof and once been, squeezing the trigger Ban sent three bolts flashing into the darkness above.
“What was the point of that…” The remainder of Tiberius’s rebuke was interrupted when a reptilian humanoid materialised in thin air and collapsed to the floor of the shaft between the two Hunters. Kneeling beside the corpse Ban shook his head and looked up the hole again.
“What is it!” Asked Tiberius his voice rising in panic.
“And how would you know that?”
“Our Aedile in Gladius is one, funny thing is though I thought he was the only one of his kind left.”
“Carry on with the History lesson please Rodian.”
“Dashade were apparently wiped out during the Great Sith War when their planet was destroyed by a Sith induced supernova. The ironic thing is the Dashade were amongst the most loyal warriors the Sith had, strong, quick, cunning and most importantly immune to the Force, which would explain why you failed to detect that one.”
“But if they are extinct how come there is one on this ship!”
“This ship is ancient I can only assume that they were imprisoned when their colonies were still alive. The Dashade also have a history of using cryogenic suspension so that their greatest warriors can be spared until their time of direst need. It looks like it’s either a dire time or some faulty mechanics has resulted in this batch waking up. Oh and another thing….”
“Yes what is it?!”
“They always hunt in packs!”
Rising his blaster again he unleashed a dozen scarlet, searing bolts into the elevator shaft and was rewarded with hearing another scream and a thud against the turbo lift roof remnants.
“By the Force I love it when I’m right.” Said Ban arrogantly, it was at this time that he noticed a shimmering apparition appear in his peripheral vision next to Tiberius.
“Tib, look out!!!!”
Uzbad watched as the two Twi'leks set about tying the journeymen to chairs. The approached him and roughly grabbed his arms and wrenched them behind his back. He felt them slip over the back of a chair and a rope was fastened around his wrists, binding them together. They then walked over to Gaidal, who was still bleeding openly from his wound. The smiled at each other and roughly tied him to another chair and then walked out of the room.
Gaidal seemed to be healing himself with the force, for the next time Uzbad looked at him, the blood flow has stopped and the skin around it had started to grow back together. Then the Twi'leks strode back in.
"Who has been using the force?" One demanded, looking at each of them in turn. None replied and the Twi'leks eyes fell on Gaidal's healed cut.
"You!" He barked. Gaidal looked away. The other Twi'lek walked up to him and cut him loose. They each grabbed one of his arms and dragged him from the room.
"You're going to see the general now." He sneered.
Uzbad looked at the other, before snapping the rope in a display of brute strength. He stood up and massaged the muscles on his arm. He undid the other's bindings, and walked out the door, his mace held at the ready in one hand, the blaster held out in front of him in the other. He motioned for the others to follow him, it would be a fight they could not win, a fight they had no chance in, but Uzbad was prepared to fight all the same.
Semyon rubbed his wrists from the tight bindings that had previously held him in thrall, it infuriated him so to be tied up in that manner. The greater puzzle in his mind was that the Twi'leks had left them armed, an unusual tactic. Which led him to believe either they were extremely trusting or this group of Journeymen were about to willingly walk into a trap.
Uzbad motioned for the others to follow, his mace beckoning the others into motion. Cain reached out and grasped one of his companions hands, "Do not rush heedlessly into a confrontation, perhaps Gaidal will find a way to free himself and come back to us." The words seemed to wash over the younger member, but instantly were erased once Uzbad spoke again,"To War!"
Shaking his head the young Protector did the only thing left to him, he grasped his Togorian blade and followed the others out of the room. The hall was deserted and eerily silent. A chuckle erupted from Cain and left the others looking at him in surprise. "What is so..." Koi began. "Funny?" started Semyon, "It's quiet... too quiet." Shaking his head he waved a hand to dismiss the odd incident. Koi looked towards the other two members in the group sharing their concern. Perhaps their comrade was beginning to mentally become unstable.
They began to inch forward, spread out in a team formation, as they advanced down the long hall towards the General's quarters they had previously perused. The length of the short path seemed to ebb into eternity, but finally they made their way to the edge of the wide open door. Macron reached out through the Force and found Gaidal, or more precisely his form, in a sitting position. "Gaidal is restrained in a seat before the General, I bet he is getting hell for bein' a Sith." The alchemist started rumaging though his bags in search of something for this current problem.
Laughter erupted from behind the group and they simultaneously spun about on their heels to see whom had so carefully sneaked upon them. It was the Twi'leks whom had apprehended them before. "So you escaped our bindings a bit quicker than we had expected, congratulations." They withdrew the hilts of their sabers and the blades exploded into existence, the 'snap-hiss' ricocheting down the corridor.
Koi reached for Macron through the Force, ~Buy me enough time for a single shot~ The alchemist who stood before him nodded then exploded into motion. His hand flew from his bag of tricks towards the Twi'leks; whom froze into a defensive posture. The single withdrawl into a defensive posture was enough for Koi who leveled his blaster at the controls behind the Twi'leks and let loose a bolt from his blaster. Seconds later his shot rang true and the control pannel went up in flames...
The blast doors sheered shut in rapid succession, placing one Twi'lek apart from the other. Giving the Journeymen a four to one advantage. Another plus seemed that the double-bladed saber had not quite made the precision move through the closing doors. Half of it lie upon the floor in a crumpled heap, the other half presumably on the opposite side of the blast doors.
The four warriors fell into an attack formation, combining their skills in hopes of defeating, running off or retreating from their present foe.