Since the long awaited ships had arrived, 49T8 had tried to contact the smaller one, the command ship as he had been told, for mission information and docking instructions. But there had been no reply but the automated stand by signal. This was not a situation the droid was pogrammed for or had adapted to. 49T8 stared at the computers, unsure how to proceed.
Part of his logic circles wanted to inform his master right away. Other parts conflicted with that, reminding him of his emergency instructions regarding the master's weird behaviour in the last decades - he could not place himself at risk. But if not informing his master, then what other options did he have?
There wa sno systems malfunction, not here and not on the ship. This could only mean there was no one on board anymore. To 49T8, this was not completely suprising. After all, most organic beings from the times of old would be dead by now. His master was an exception, and seem to think he was not the only long lived being. But then, his master was by now completely unaware of time.
Their enemy of old, strange as that was, was still alive though, albeit only due to a trick of fate 49T8 would never managed to understand. And ancient Sith Lord, still present and still dangerous, and not aged at all. Yes, the danger was still very real, but it would need more than his master and two unresponsive ships to deal with the situation.
49T8 made a decision. He initiated automatic docking procedures with the emergency override - without informing his master about it. This also caused more droids to wake, servants to take care of the ship's inhabitants, who should be mostly in stasis. As soon as he knew the details, 49T8 would inform his master.
The flaw in this logic was that the droid could not know, nor would have thought it possible, that most of the ship's inhabitants were awake as he didn't know the protocol completely. He also couldn't know there was fighting. He had no idea he would bring a battle into the base and thus seal the fate of the mission.
A deep humming sound was heard through the entire vessel named the ‘Usitan Overseer’. It was the prologue the ship had been waiting for. After arriving at the final coordinates the ship activated a special procedure. The ‘Sentinel-program’ was a procedure only a few people knew of and most of those were dead for over a thousand years now.
Somewhere hidden in a forgotten and sealed sector of the ship life-support systems were activated in a small chamber. After four short clicks the ancient kolto-tank opened and spread large clouds of fumes in the small room. After a while the fumes vanished and two old-fashioned medical droids were energized, which followed their ancient protocols. A large figure fell out of the tank on the ground. The droids started their labor to get the individual conscious and well. After a few seconds the figure placed his huge claws on the ground and raised his torso into the air. While he got on his knees, he opened his eyes carefully. He was still a bit sleepy and his eyes were hurting because of the light. A tremendous Force wave went through the entire ship when he definitely woke up, which everyone could feel: the Sentinel was awake now.
The droids kept doing their work, until one of them got to close and the person used the Force to grab the droid and trashed it on the wall of the chamber.
“Who dares to disturb the rest of Jesul Pirius Moktar”, he shouted out loud. His presence was enormous and not only due to the incredible Force powers he had. Jesul was at least 2.50 meters tall and his shiny, deep red skin explained his origin. With the two small tentacles attached on his face, one could easily say that this man was one of the rightful heirs of the Sith. He had always been proud of his heritage and started sensing the entire ship. The special identification chip in his body made it possible for him to sense other Force signatures more easily.
Jesul was still trying to find out what exactly happened a long time ago in the Third Sith Empire beyond the borders of the Outer Rim. He and four loyal brothers in arms were sent to the uninhabited planet of Therax. They had orders of the ‘Higher Circle of the Anointed’ to colonize it and give it a rightful place in the empire. The group of five realized that this was a splendid opportunity to gain control of the planet and rule it as kings. Jesul and the others named themselves the ‘Dark Movement’ and started a rebellion against the empire and the Circle and were able to let the economy flourish, attract other colonists and create an army. The Anointed were very displeased and sent a large force to end this rebellion. In the end, two of their comrades were killed, their army was crushed and the planet destroyed. The three remaining rebels had to face trial because of their high treason and were found guilty. For some reason the rebels were not sentenced to death, but were kept in stasis and locked up for many years. Jesul remembered the first time he woke up again and he realized that had been gone for a while, a very long while. He looked at his horrible claws and knew that he was the only one left. The Keeper made him champion after he continued to win every confrontation, but during those battles his comrades were killed. If only he could his pawns on the Keeper. The man rarely spoke to him and he could be dead by now, because Jesul had no recollection of what time he was in. In fact, he could not even remember what happened to him during the time he was in stasis and when he woke up again.
The game, it was all about the game. Every now and then new specimens were collected for a new round. It was the main function of the ship now: to collect Force specimens to compete against each other. But with what reason would someone do that? The Sith Lord had been sleeping for a long time, but was still not able to come up with the answer.
Before the Sith even knew it another droid came towards him. It was not a medical droid, but the one who kept his gear and double-bladed lightsaber. He started dressing himself and continued to think how it was always possible for someone or something to easily neutralize him after a duel and put him back in his kolto tank. It made him furious, because that was just another answer he could not give himself. There was no possibility of explaining everything.
All specimens had a special chip in their bodies, which resonated through the Force. It made it a lot easier to track someone down who was a Force user. There were always opponents and sometimes it was actually a confrontation between light –and darksiders, like in the current situation. Specimens had to face each other and through fighting you would gain new ranks, but it came with a terrible price. The chip also had a more dark purpose. Inflicting pain or even killing would cause a terrible pain for the perpetrator. Somehow the chips were linked to each other during a duel and there would a mutual pain to endure for both parties. The more experienced and higher-ranked you got, the stronger you would sense the others and the less pain you would have to endure. Jesul knew this all to well; he was the Sentinel.
Finally, he finished up dressing himself and he looked like Lord Marka Ragnos himself. He wore a strong and shiny armor with a helmet. Under it were his black robes with a fine touch of red, and over the armor he wore a grey cloak. Jesul touched his battered face and knew that it was the result of abusing the Dark Side for his own greedy purpose many years in a row. His eyes were black and no longer had any irises or other details left, like he represented death himself. It gave him the image of being the incarnation of the Dark Side itself, bad to the bone. The Sith Lord looked around the room once more, grinned and opened the doors by using the Force. The hunt had begun once more and he was the Sentinel, the champion.
Drodik and general Quicksilver looked at each other and they both realized that there was more going on in the ship right now, than just their fight.
“It seems like someone awoke your master”, the general said, while he ignited his two golden lightsabers. One was longer than the other, Drodik noticed. He kept an eye on the bleeding Gaidal, who was still unconscious on the floor. Drodik whirled his yellow and blue lightsabers and jumped towards his opponent with a very aggressive technique. The general did not move more muscles than necessary and easily defended himself against the brutal attacks of the Sith. Dodging attack after attack Drodik started to feel worried. He was no match for this powerful Jedi Master and before he would even know it he would find his decapitated head next to his body on the floor. The moment the Guardian thought about that cruel possibility, he let his guard down. Unprotected and vulnerable was what the general had been waiting for. He easily jumped away from his opponent, started a little spurt and attacked Drodik in the flank. Before the Sith even knew what happened, he felt an aching pain in his body. He looked at his left side and saw it was bleeding due to a large and deep wound. He fell on his knees and tried to fight the pain, but it was hard. He dropped his lightsabers and tried to get up again.
The general saw that he seriously injured his prey and was walking circles around him like a predator just waiting for that final moment to kill. Likewise he would enjoy and celebrate that moment.
“It seems you ran out of luck, young one”, Quicksilver sneered, “and there is still so much to learn for you, but somehow I doubt it if you’ll have the necessary time!”
Drodik looked up to see the sparkling eyes of his opponent. The member of the Brotherhood was sweating all over his body, which was tired due to the torment and the heavily bleeding wound. Meanwhile, blood was covering the floor and Drodik whispered silently: “You’re nothing that comes from the light, you’re more evil, dark and twisted than most of the Dark Jedi will ever be. You claim that the Sith are your enemy, but I believe your enemy comes from within. You’re your own enemy, but it’s hard to fight yourself isn’t it? Especially because of the temptations of the Dark Side, right? You said that you felt disgusted by the Dark Side during my torment, but that is only partially true. We both know that. Due to your training you hate and adore the Dark Side at the same time. You’re the incarnation of the light, as well as darkness itself. It kills you, tears you apart, is becoming an obsession for you, because you can’t live with or without it. It’s sad, but that’s your faith, General. You’re your own enemy and you can’t destroy yourself!”
“SILENCE! You ignorant brat, trying to teach me a lesson”, the general growled and his emotions ran free, “if you think you know my pains, my struggling and me: YOU’RE WRONG! I should kill you instantly for being so rude and unpolite, Dark Padawan!”
Drodik sensed that the general was filling his entire being with the Force and that it was raging through his body. He formed a pair of scissors with his lightsabers around his neck. This was it, the young Sith realized. His life would most likely end here. Defenseless and harmless he was sitting on his knees. He looked at the general who just smiled at him.
“Time to depart and no longer be a pattern in the Force”, the Jedi stated. Drodik closed his eyes and was waiting for his death penalty, when he suddenly heard someone screaming from behind him: “NO!”
The Guardian looked around and saw that Gaidal was trying to get up. He lifted his torso with his hands and Drodik saw the bloody face of his companion. The man looked angrier than ever before and was willing to fight the general with even his last breath.
“We will not die here and today, general”, the Protector shouted and after that he used the Force push with his last remaining strength from his spirit. After that he passed out again. The general flew through the air and slammed on the wall. Argos fell on the floor, lost his small lightsaber during the fall and looked like a wild animal that can not stand it when someone surprises him. He cleaned his clothes from any dust and walked back to Drodik. The Sith tried to get away by crawling over the floor, leaving a blood trail, until he felt the wall in his back.
“Well, no time to waste now”, the general declared, “you’ll die immediately, darkling!” He raised his long lightsaber in the air and was ready to strike his enemy down.
Out of the blue, the doors slid open and the huge Jedi named Gormon entered the headquarters of the ‘Inquisitors of the Light’. He looked at the general and the mess, which forced a huge grin on his face. The Jedi Knight dropped the two young journeymen, whom he was carrying, on the floor.
“Some more darklings to torment, general”, Gormon growled with his deep and rumbling voice.
The general turned around and left Drodik. He walked over to the tall man and they talked silently for a while.
“Good, very good”, the general said, “we’ll leave these two behind and seal the doors. They will mostly likely die because of their wounds anyway, so why would we end their suffering so easily? We’ll let them perish and none will ever find them! There isn’t much time, so we’ll take the two new specimens to the brig and start another round of tormenting. After that we’ll hunt down the Sith Lord present onboard.”
Both grabbed a journeyman and left the room. Drodik heard they locked it down and he knew he did not have the strength to do anything. He looked at his companion was unconscious again. The Guardian concluded that he misjudged the ambitious and proud brother in arms completely. Drodik knew that Gaidal had to be under a lot of pressure. Otherwise the Protector could never have used the Force push. After that Drodik passed out as well.
The four companions and the tall Twi’lek Sith stopped for a short moment. Nezrim Terakius looked around a bit puzzled.
“This is bad, my young friends”, he began, “very bad. I can sense a great darkness walking among us. It has an incredible power, the kind of power I’ve never seen before. We have to move quickly in order to get this job done.” The others nodded towards the Sith in secrecy.
“Where are your current headquarters?”, Semyon asked without hesitation.
“We have to follow this corridor and we’ll find the entrance at the end of it”, the Twi’lek answered.
“Will there be a possibility to find some kind of data transponder?”, Macron mentioned, “because I think it is of absolute importance to find out what exactly happened with this ship through the years. It might explain in what kind of trouble we’re in and where we’re. I don’t actually believe in cursed ships, but there is something very unusual about this.”
“I agree on that”, the young Zabrak Uzbad showed his sympathy, “it will give us an opportunity to set out new goals in order to survive this voyage safely!”
“Excellent thinking of you all”, Nezrim stated, “but we’ll have to keep moving now. Yes Macron, I believe we can at least find one data transponder in the HQ, otherwise we’ll have the opportunity to find one from there. There is plenty of equipment there and it will provide us with the chances we so desperately require.”
The journeymen continued their run towards the headquarters. Finally they reached the closed and locked doors they had been looking for. Nezrim used the Force to investigate the room and sensed two weak signals.
“No sign of the general and I believe there are two of your friends in here”, this part of the twins explained, “but we’ll have to force ourselves a way through the doors. They locked and sealed, so the general is the only one able to open them!”
Koi felt restless and looked around. Suddenly he saw another image of a dead Sith standing in the shadows of the pillars in this corridor. He looked at the person hiding is his long hooded cloak and saw that he was pointing a thin finger into a certain direction behind Koi. The clone tried to scan the environment with his helmet, but he knew there was not much time. Once a dead Sith appeared in his presence it always meant bad news was about to follow him in his footsteps.
“Sir”, he said to the Sith, “we should not stay here any longer. I have a bad feeling about this strategic position.” After that he loaded his rifle and kneeled to give cover fire to the others, who were still looking to the doors.
“You’re right, dark one”, a sudden voice stated coming from the shadows between the pillars the dead Sith was pointing to. The twin brother of Nezrim came out of the darkness and ignited his lightsabers.
“My lovely brother Nezrim, somehow I never trusted you after our training”, he continued his monologue, “Now I can see why! I see you don’t have a saber anymore. Not to worry, I’ll lend you one. Not that it matters, because you’ll fall today. Or should I say; you fell a long, long time ago. You’re no longer my brother, Nezrim!”
“Give me a lightsaber and we’ll end this”, Nezrim yelled to his brother and then to his followers, “Once I have my lightsaber, you break yourself a way into the room. Stay there and hide until this battle is over. You’re no match for him, keep that in mind! It was a pleasure working with you young lads, as long as it lasted. Let the darkness guide you!”
After that he caught the lightsaber of his brother and took a defensive position. Martrim started his charge and so the former brothers started their duel until the death of one another. It looked like the battle of the galaxy and both of them were excellent duelists. The companions saw the movements of the dark blue Twi’lek and they could easily tell that they were no match for him at all; not even when they with four of them.
Meanwhile, Macron grabbed another bottle from his alchemy set and dropped it on the lock of the door.
“Get back”, he said, “this toxin is highly poisonous.”
A lot of strangely colored fumes came from the lock and it started to melt away. Before they knew it the entire lock was vaporized and the companions were able to open the doors manually and so they got into the former headquarters of the Jedi.
“What happened here?”, Uzbad said, while he grinned a bit, “it looks like someone kept a rancor in here!”
Blood and debris were all over the walls and floor. Semyon looked around and yelled to the others: “Before we inspect this chamber, we need to defend the doors. They do no longer have a lock, so we need to barricade them as soon as possible!”
Koi wrecked a couple of shutdown terminals and pushed them towards the doors. Uzbad and Semyon helped him. After a couple minutes the doors were secured and they could still hear the fight going on.
“Look, Drodik and Gaidal are here as well”, Macron pointed out, “and they are in really bad shape. What did they do to them?”
“A lot of physical torment, I presume”, Koi concluded.
“In what kind of epic battle did we end up?”, Semyon mumbled.
Uzbad breathed slowly. The air was terrible smelling. No one should have to endure such stink.
"Macron." Uzbad started, "Do you have any healing potions in that little bag of yours?"
"Only a few. Not enoughto heal them properly. But It may take some of the edge off. Help return them to a state of alertness. Two breathing logs wont help us."
The two of them moved closer. Macron knelt beside Gaidal and uzbad beside Drodik.
"You work with your potions. I'll try and help Drodik, using the force."
Macron nodded and set to work. He pulled some dried powders from his bag, and a small vial filled with a bright green liqiud. He mixed half of the powder into a lager vial and poured three drops of the liquid inside. The power and liquid combined to form a black goo.
He poured it slowly out of the vial and onto Gaidals face. He rubbed it into the cuts, working it into his skin, and gently covering the rest of Gaidals face with the goo.
He then brought out another powder, which he poured into Gaidals mouth, forcing it down his throat. Uzbad looked at him quizzingly.
"It'll help him breath. Give some to Drodik."
"No way. You pour the powder."
Macron nodded and began to pour it down Drodik's throat. At that moment Gaidal began to cough.
Gaidal looked up at Macron with a joyful expression upon his face, "Gah, i thought we were going to die" anounced Gaidal. Still looking around Looked at Drodik laying on the ground next to him. Worn out and injured, the black potion slowly made it's way down the Zabrak's insides.
Rapidly sitting up Drodik gasped for air and coughed. "Where were you two, first thing I know I escape once then come back for Ga--"
"We dont have any time for discussion. I presume you will be able to hold your own so Uzbad will help Gaidal while I lead and you follow behind, lets go"
Kneeling over Drodik grabbed one of the lightsabers and put it in his robe's. At the same moment two guards came in and noticed the extra companions in the room. "Hands up, drop your weapons!!"
"Which one, Hands up or Drop our weapons" Taunted Uzbad
nodding to the other one, the guard on the right came forward with his blaser rifle raised pointed directly at Uzbad. As the guard approached, Uzbad knocked the blaster rifle from under, the guard got pushed by Uzbad toward Macron while Uzbad struck the other guard in the neck with the stock of the Blaster rifle.
"hurry up lets go" whispered Macron.
The companions slowly rushed down the corridor from the brig. "Come on, we can find our way out of here through the vent shafts" Said Drodik.