Thirteen. Thirteen warriors of Light. Thirteen charged the barricades of Dark. Thirteen vaulted through the halls of the Dark lords. Thirteen reached the sanctum of the Darkest lord of them all. Thirteen met the Dark Lord in combat. One survived to see the life fade from the Dark Lord’s eyes. One remains. One is the last of the Thirteen.
One is lost in time. One is forever missed from the ranks of Light. One is alone. One is secluded. One is quiet and alone.
Darkness spreads throughout the galaxy. Darkness corrupts. Darkness invades. Darkness beats back the Light. The Light calls for a champion. The call is left unanswered.
The One hears the plea. The One is angered. The One returns from exile. One searches out the den of evil. One sees the house of the sword. One sets his sights on the sons and daughters of the royal sword. One is indomitable. One is invincible. One is forever and cannot be stopped.
(Prophecy of the One, transcribed by Archangel after a Force-induced dream state)
The darkness in the room flicked slightly as the lone candle dimmed and danced in the breeze across the window sill. The Ptolomea night was quiet and still, with the soft patting of drizzle echoing clearly throughout the marble room. He stared at the page before him, a mixture of disbelief and awe filling his mind. He had been the recipient of several prophecies before today. But none had prophesied the destruction of his House or anything on that scale.
A drop of cold sweat rolled down the crease of his spine. The words seemed to bury themselves in his subconscious and scream their meaning throughout his core. He leaned back in his chair and drew his gaze to the ceiling. This was a problem, he thought to himself, his cerebrum still reeling from the Force-induced trance he had entered to perform the transcription.
Thirteen, he thought. It could not be a coincidence that that was his lucky number, nor was it impossible that the House was a major focal point of Dark Force energy in the galaxy. That being said, there must have been better targets out there. A few came immediately to mind, such as the Dark Council or the Star Chamber.
Then why the House of the Sword?
“Of course!” he exclaimed, almost falling backwards out of his chair. He knew exactly why the One was coming here and he had to prepare. He looked to the transcription, and thought carefully. He slipped the note onto his hand and stood slowly, before walking over to the window. His eyes glanced over the words once more, letting them imprint themselves on his mind. A moment later, the corner of the page was in the flame of the candle, before being cast out into the night. He watched the burning page float into the depths below his window, and sighed, almost to make himself feel better for having done that.
“Members of House Caliburnus. Effective immediately, everyone will be on active military duty. No exceptions. Full military alert and full training regimen. Effective immediately, I, the Aedile of the House, am in command. The Quaestor has vanished. He is to be considered armed and dangerous. Effective immediately, Brent Ligur Victae is to be considered a kill on sight target for all members of the House and its armed forces.”
Many thoughts rang through the mind of the ancient as he meditated in his solace. Having finally returned to Scholae Palatinae, the Anzat had much to think over. His absence had been one unforeseen, but was very much needed. House Caliburnus was now his home; his heritage, and he would embrace that fact and protect it as he did once before in Clan’s before. A small chime indicated a message was being transmitted to him through a communications device he kept with him at all times. With a grumble, Ethran let go of the Dark Side coursing throughout the Blood Forest and checked to see what was so ‘urgent.’ A smile slowly snuck unto his lips as he read the contents.
“My my…won’t this be interesting…” muttered the Isradia.
If there was a Rogue in the midst of the House and Clan, then something would surely have to be done. In fact, the Clan Summit would surely have something to say on the matter, but this was also a matter of Caliburnus internal security. In that aspect, more experienced Dark Jedi would be called upon to rally the others in order to find this ‘Rogue.’ Indeed this would prove to be very…entertaining, at the least.
Succumbing to the Dark Side once again, the Archpriest took in all that it had to tell of the events that had just transpired. There were many abilities the Krath knew when it came to the Force and how to read the streams of it, though none of his level could truly harness it. However, he could pick out the reminiscence of a foresight wafting in the streams of the Force around him. Something had alarmed the ‘Rogue’ it had seemed.
Opening his eyes once more, only to narrow them ever so slightly, Ethran decided that his course of action would not be to ‘kill on sight.’ There would have to be something more beyond this than just a mere ‘kill on sight’ order. He was determined to find out what exactly it was. Rising to his feet, Ethran began to make his way to the ship he used to reach the forest, deciding where in fact his first steps would take him. Most likely the ‘acting Quaestor’ would have a meeting to call, so best action would be to await their instructions and act then.
Yes…play their game at first, only then find the answers.
Yes…let’s play a game…
Guardian Camord had just arrived at his quarters at Alberigo Station when the message came through his commlink.
With his inaugural fight at the Antei Combat Center still fresh in his mind after 8 months of recovery, facing a Sith Warrior was not exactly a thrilling idea.
Nevertheless duty called.
He took of his flight suit and put on his fighting robes, his newly acquired lightsaber attached to his belt and he rushed to the Alberigo Station Control Dome.
He clicked his commlink and patching through the long range communication relays and contacted the first commlink that responded to his ping at that unglodly hour.
"Ethran here, who is it?"
"Milord, this is Guardian Camord, can't seem to reach anyone else."
"Well milord, I'm at Alberigo Station, there isn't much I can do in a fight, but I got a plan to help the hunt"
"Alright, let's see what you got"
"I'll return to you in a second sir" Mordred said clicking off his commlink.
Pushing away some technicians, he reached a console. Seeing the commotion, the officer in charge came his way.
"Sire, may I inquire what is going on?"
Typing frenetically on the console, Camord replied in a whisper, not really paying attention. "Yes you may".
"I mean, sir, we just got the message concerning Lord Brent and now this..."
"Yeah I got it too... now gimme a minute"
With a twisted face of resignation, the officer finally shut up and let Camord work on the console. Few minutes later he stroke the final key and the monitor blinked with a diagram of the Obsidian Palace with tiny white spots all over it.
"Alright Larry... "Camord said to the officer.
"My name is Captain Tschulb sir"
"Right, whatever Larry, may I continue with the mandatory plot exposition? I did some engineering work on the Obsidian Palace and I got a nice routine on the Central Computer to allow me to operate it's basic functions, in this case, sensor data."
"I expect you put the base on attention as the message implied?"
"Uh yes sir, all movement in and out the system are being monitored and the base is in full alert"
"Very well, keep it that way. I shall be working from this carefully selected safe position with the others down there"
Ignoring any further comments from the officer, Camord called Archpriest Ethran again.
"Sir, I can feed you and any hunting parties down there with movement and life signs data, just tell me what sector you want scanned"
"That might spoil the fun of the hunt, Guardian, but I'll give you a chance"
Asani Vosa eyed the message from behind her private console in her quarters. “Kill on sight?” she whispered as her brows furled. This was insane… Arch wasn’t a rogue, he was a friend. He helped her during the feud. He trusted her, even when no one else would. She owed him much and had always felt greater loyalty to people that organisations. Something flared up in Asani’s stomach. The words were all a lie, she knew it. But what could she do? By now, the whole House was searching for him, or was it?
Asani quickly accessed a file from her console. A list of names from a very exclusive group. If there were any people prepared to help her, they would be on this list. She selected one of the names and chose the option to contact that person directly. For a few moments there was a black screen. Until a very familiar and kind face appeared.
“Asani…” the luscious female lips spoke, not able to loose any of their appeal over the digital screen. “I’m a little busy, baby.” The woman was clearly disturbed by something she had just seen. Asani hoped it would mean what she suspected. Asani swallowed and then spoke. “Lynx, I need your help…”
Ludy had been in confrence with her legion commanders when she got the message over the house secure command channels. The words "rogue" and *traitor" were being used to describe the second person to lead her in the house.
She read further and her face hardened and her commanders backed away as she read the words on her comlink, "Kill on Sight." She waved them all off and began to move with a purpose towards the Aedile's office she made a coded message and sent it to the members of the Souls of Darkness.
<< IN COMING CODED MESSAGE : SoD Members: Top Secret Eyes Only:>>
All members of the Souls of Darkness are to make there way to the Vanguard Area, Until the disposition of the Aedile is certain, you will act only on my direct commands.
Until I varify this house message all action on it is suspended with regards to the kill on sight order. If it checks out then we will gather our resources and find Arch and eliminate him, if not be prepared to place the Aedile under house arrest for attempting a coup.
<< end coded message>>
As she continued down the hallway towards Daniels office her comlink lit up and she saw Asani...
“Asani…” the luscious female lips spoke, not able to loose any of their appeal over the digital screen. “I’m a little busy, baby.” The woman was clearly disturbed by something she had just seen. Asani hoped it would mean what she suspected. Asani swallowed and then spoke. “Lynx, I need your help…”
Smiling at Asnai using her nickname she looked up at her with her full attention. "Fox, things are a little off right now," she thought for a moment, "You got the message I take it..."
Impetus received her wife’s message as she meditated, concentrating on the situation of the missing Quaestor. Dark Jedi went missing all the time, but a leader in such a prominent role just vanishing was almost unheard of.
Something was wrong, clearly, but Daniel Stephens seemed awfully quick to make a ‘kill on sight’ order. Impetus never killed on sight anyway, she would always attempt to capture her targets alive if it meant defying direct orders, nevertheless, it made her suspicious of the Aedile. To jump so quickly from Archangel vanishing to ordering his death seemed like a plot to eliminate him from the leadership structure. In her time in the brotherhood, she had seen many drastic moves for power, many of them successful.
Eludajae’s message alerted her from her trance and broke her concentration. Acting only on Eludajae’s direct commands... that didn’t sound too bad. It seemed that both the M’Nars had the same suspicions about Daniel Stephens. Impetus left her quarters, not towards the Vanguard Area, but in search of Eludajae. The two shared an exceptionally close bond, and both always seemed to know where the other was.
She found her walking up the corridor towards the Aedile’s office. “I’m coming in with you, Mistress.” She said softly as she approached the door.
“Message?” Asani said with much resentment towards the words she had read. “That communication was nothing more than a death sentence.” The young woman was very concerned. “I see Impie is with you. Is it possible we can meet somewhere private. We need to discuss this. I won’t leave Arch’s fait to the whims of politicians.”
Eludajae seemed to be taken aback a bit by Asani’s explicit rebellious tone. Was it possible that the three women could be a front for the defence of their Aedile? “Meet Impetus and myself at our usual garden retreat. There, we can talk undisturbed and unheard by others.” Ludy looked worried, but her loveliness was not obscured by her emotions. She still had that warm tone in her voice that she reserved for close friends.
“I’ll meet you there in ten minutes. Fox out…” Asani closed the comm. channel and double checked if the call had been traced. She found no evidence for this and relaxed a bit. Putting on her black, close fitting pants, her tight, red top and black leather jacket with the torn off sleeves. She then strapped her saber to her left hip and tied her fiery red hair in a tight pony tail. She took a deep breath and exited her quarters in a fast stride.
These days have been nothing but constant hand to hand combat and sword duels inside Acolyte Chiron's holo-chamber. For every true Obelisk there is always room for perfection, especially since he was soon to receive a lightsaber.
The sweet suffering...
He was not of a kind who back down after many blows...
Days have passed since he was in contact with the rest of the House. They respected his wish for solitude. A House that truly promotes uniqueness... As he was about to finish his holographic opponent, the armband chimed alerting him to an incoming message. Instantaneous reaction was hatred and rage by this interruption in his preparations. However, the contents of the message were disturbing...
Chiron did not like coups and this message was reeking of it.
But he did not think that the Aedile would act this foolishly.... Something was way off here...
"It seems like we have an intruder in the system..."
Then, out of the blue it struck him... "DIVIDE AND CONQUER!!!"
"I must warn the others! This is not how it seems..."
"The Quaestor is dangerous to us as I am a Jubba bird and the Aedile surely hasn't lost his mind to give a "kill on sight" order. Friendship has nothing to do with this. We must stay unbiased! We are dealing with a non living entity that is using our very code against us! It is counting on our passion and emotions! It is waiting for us to take sides!" The Acolyte was enraged as he was putting on his black robes in haste.
"I do not know if the others have taken this option into consideration... Weapons will not do any good in this situation." He decided now was not the time for direct confrontation. The power of the mind was to be used in order to resolve this conflict.
"Must move quickly before innocent blood is shed..."
The holo – emitters remained activated as the black robed figure disappeared into the darkness of the hallway.
Virtual opponents were left waiting, for now was a time to confront a real threat – one that was to undermine the very foundations this honorable House was based on.
Excited beeping and chirps from R5 shattered the Battlelord’s concentration and she spun around to glare at the astromech as he wheeled into the room.
“What now?!” Rasilvenaira growled.
More beeps as the bold droid stopped in front of his mistress, well accustomed to her temper.
“Hmm, Arch is missing is he?” The Sith chuckled, “Kill on sight, indeed. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve threatened to kill him, maybe this time I’ll actually do it if he annoys me enough.”
Nodding to herself as she walked, the former Quaestor’s mind wandered over her intricate knowledge of the Serpent’s Vanguard and surrounding area, then her thoughts drifted to her knowledge of her former apprentice as she made her way to her quarters. A hunt of any kind needed proper preparation to be successful, and Rasilvenaira had spent the majority of her adult life hunting others for profit or sport, or occasionally for vengeance.
“This will be fun.”
With the practiced ease of experience, various weapons found their way to concealed places as the Sith made the final additions to her attire. Two weapons however, remained in plain sight, the wicked Arashi-kumori and her lightsaber. Soon the Battlelord was on her way to the Serpent’s Vanguard, and more specifically the Obsidian Palace.
The sudden beep alerting her to a visitor at the door of their quarters caused Rayne’s heart to skip a beat given the latest news causing a frenzy throughout the House. The Jedi Hunter was nearly to the door when it slid open and she stopped in her tracks as the cloaked figure stepped into the room letting the door close.
“You’ll forgive me for not waiting too long. I’ve never been very patient.” The icy tone mirrored the emotionless gaze that met the girl as Rayne recognized the Battlelord.
“What are you doing here and how’d you get in?!” She demanded, trying to hide the shock at seeing the StormRaven standing in her quarters.
A casual wave of the Sith’s hand forced the younger female into the nearest chair, “Be silent, child, or have you forgotten who I am?” Rasilvenaira’s ebony eyes swept over the rooms around them, scanning for anything that might be useful.
Rayne’s aqua eyes burned with anger, contained only by the knowledge that she was vastly out ranked in any confrontation with Rasilvenaira. Her eyes narrowed suspiciously as the Equite turned finally to face her.
“You’re just out to kill him like the rest aren’t you? Don’t expect me to help you.” The girl raised her head in defiance.
“Oh, my dear, I don’t need you to help me, I could just as easily kill you and find him anyway. However, if you wish to cooperate, it would go a great ways towards keeping you both alive. That is what you want is it not? For him to stay safe and alive?” StormRaven’s dark eyes searched the Journeyman’s bright eyes, waiting for any hint to betray the girl’s thoughts.
Emotions clearly warred with one another in the Jedi Hunter’s mind and heart as she considered Rasilvenaira’s words. Something in the Battlelord’s haughty demeanor left Rayne suspicious, unwilling to trust the Equite at all. However, the cards seemed stacked against her at the moment, so with a resigned sigh, Rayne just nodded. Her heart ached not knowing if Arch was still safe or not, and the idea that even Rasilvenaira was on his trail made her even more uncomfortable.
“Excellent, now, let’s go find the lost one before he does anything else foolish. Gather your things.” Turning Rasilvenaira left the Quaestor’s quarters and leaned against the balcony railing overlooking the decorated courtyard below. If Arch is going to die this time, it’ll be me who kills him. StormRaven’s dark thoughts wound their way through her mind as she considered the best place to start the search.
The One found the jungles not to his liking. His home for the last while had been a featureless desert of crimson sands. A jungle was too claustrophobic for him. Too many sounds assaulted him, too many smells and sensations flooded his senses. He was used to the open desert plain, the sweltering heat and the brief respite provided by a gust of wind.
But his target was in sight. He would complete his mission.
From the continued transcription by Archangel
|Bastion Regimental Headquarters
Colonel Malcom Falgri sat at his desk, grimacing at a supply report. According to this report, a pair of speeder bikes had gone missing. He could feeling his finger nails scratching the steel backing of the datapad. As the logistics officer of the entire base, it was his responsibility if something goes missing. And two speeder bikes weren’t cheap nor expendable.
An almost nervous tapping at his door pulled his attention from the ill-received datapad.
“Enter” he said, his voice barely louder than a growl. His body was taut with frustration and anger at his apparent lapse of security. An armoured Stormtrooper, helmet removed, stepped through the opening doorway. He had a neutral expression on his face, a face which had seen a lot of action and killing, as well as disappointment, and knew how to hide them all.
“Lieutenant Rand reporting as ordered” the trooper said, snapping his hand against his breastplate as a sign of respect. The Colonel nodded in reply and placed the datapad flat on his desk.
“Lieutenant, how did your search progress?” he said, his words measured and forced, biting back his preferred remarks. The Lieutenant visibly cowered back from the Colonel.
“Our search of the immediate area revealed no trace of the speeder bikes, sir... not even a repulsor trail.”
“Are you absolutely sure, Lieutenant? Because if you aren’t, I promise you, demoting you to Private will be the first a very long line of troubles in your future”
“One hundred percent sure, Colonel. We searched a 40 klick wide zone four times in overlapping pattern sweeps. There’s no chance anything got past our sensors, at least not without help from the Force.”
“Great... just great” the Colonel said, picking up his commlink, flashing one last angry glance at the near forgotten datapad.
“Captain Benning, put me in touch with the Aedile... he’ll want to know about this”
| Aedile’s Office
“I see, Colonel” Aedile Daniel Stephens said, in his usual cool, calm tones. It was often disconcerting to those he conversed with, as it allowed the listener no clues into his reaction or even if he was tired or not.
“I’ll have my men maintain the search, sir” the Colonel said, his own voice cracking slightly. Force users always gave him the hibby-gibbies.
“No need, Colonel. I know where he’s going.”
Stephens turned off the commlink without waiting for a reply. He allowed himself a moment or two to contemplate the situation. This was an unfortunate set of circumstances.
He looked up at the doorway, and with a touch of Force power, the entrance pad activated, shifting opening before the trio before it could.
“Good evening, ladies. How may I help you?” he said, standing and bowing graciously to them.”
As Rayne watched the former Quaestor before her, a moment of anxiety and fear burst into her mind. She kept herself from exclaiming, but only just. She searched her mind for what had caused this sudden shock of emotion, but only one thing presented itself readily to her.
Her husband’s voice saying “The power is in the hand of the first of many, the one of fifteen, the first of Caliburnus”
Turning away from the balcony, Rasilvenaira’s eyes narrowed at the Jedi Hunter as she felt the girl tense up and saw the flicker of concentration in her expression. Arching one eye in question, she moved closer.
“What is it?”
Rayne shook her head, regaining her composure, “Nothing, let’s go.”
The Battlelord studied Rayne for a moment, then nodded, “Indeed, we need to find him before anyone else does.”
Her dark cloak fluttered behind her like the black wings of the bird who was her namesake as she spun back around and the StormRaven strode toward the lift to the lower floors. Leading the way out of the Obsidian Palace in silence, the Sith’s hand absently rested on the clawed hilt of her saber. They were nearly to the main door when the House security officer on duty stood up.
“Oh m’lady StormRaven, wait!” He hurried over and held out a folded piece of paper. “This arrived for you, I wasn’t sure if you were still in the Palace so I was about to dispatch a messenger.”
Rasilvenaira took the paper, “Thank you.” She opened the note, and quickly scanned it before tucking the paper away in a pocket.
“What is it?” Inquired Rayne as she moved up beside the Equite.
“Nothing, let’s go.”
Moving out into the night air, Rasilvenaira took a deep breath and glanced up at the stars. Dawn was only a few hours away; with the coming of daylight the search for the missing Quaestor would be greatly intensified. There was no time to waste. Rasilvenaira stopped and looked over at Rayne.
“We should probably split up, take this.” She tossed the girl a small comlink, “It will let you stay in touch with me. Let me know if you find anything, I’m sure you have some ideas of where to start looking.”
Rayne tucked the comlink into a pocket, “What about you, where are you going?”
“I have some ideas of my own. I’ll let you know if I find him.”
Rayne’s brows came together in a half scowl, uncertain how to read the enigmatic Battlelord. “Alright.” Turning she sprinted off towards the vehicle depot.
As the Jedi Hunter took off, Rasilvenaira pulled a small orb from her pocket, and activated a small spy droid which she’d already programmed with Rayne’s image and basic instructions. Releasing the orb she nodded as it hovered, “Go, stay with her, but do not be seen.” The droid bobbed in midair in response and sped away to follow its target. It would alert the Sith if anything of importance happened.
StormRaven made her own way to the massive menagerie complex, and after a brief force aided explanation, she came away from the building with her pet Varactyl, Ithilla. The Varactyl was clearly excited to be out and about and danced with joy as her rider mounted, and nudged her into the ground covering lope that they were famous for. Rasilvenaira smiled, mechanical things could be heard too easily when they drew near, but the fast gait of the Varactyl could travel over the rough terrain just as easily and much more quietly.
Following a hunch, the Sith headed south, into the deeper jungles where large groups and vehicles searching would be hindered by the thick growth. However the agile beast moved gracefully through, over and around the undergrowth, letting her rider focus on stretching her senses out searching for signs of her former apprentice. The joy of the hunt stirred the more feral instincts in the Sith as the Varactyl carried her further into the jungle.
Asani arrived at the garden where she, Eludajae and Impetus had often met. She looked around as she waited with growing anxiety, but her lovers were not to be seen. Where could they be?
After fifteen minutes, Asani decided she could not wait any longer. She had to act now, for many would already be hunting Archangel. Checking if her weapons were still at her side, she sped off towards the main courtyard, halting as she realised there was no form of transport there. No speeders or beast of burden. She would have to travel on foot, but that was hardly realistic. She needed something else…
Thinking for a minute, she decided that desperate times called for desperate measures. She would have to steal a transport. Preferably from those with the intent to harm Arch. Quickly she hooded her fiery head and re-entered the complex in search of transportation.
"That's it... almost... got... it," Ginnafae said aloud as she sat at her desk, hunched over an ancient hook shaped cylinder. The antique weapon sat secured to her desk by three shiny steel clamps; various optics surrounded the item at different spots, all magnifying specific portions of the non-functioning weapon. Hot overhead lamps bore down on the young Protector's head, making her scalp sweat beneath her lank, shapeless hair.
Gently, the young woman chipped at the edges of the power cell base plate with a thin, sharp probe. Small grains of sand drifted to the surface of the work table as Ginnafae scraped lightly with her right hand. The third finger of her cybernetic left hand spasmed uncontrollably, a sure sign of her anxiety.
The antique covering, held in place more by packed dirt and grime than by the 4 tiny screws at the edges, began to loosen from the main housing. With the faintest of taps the small shielding cover dropped to the table with a metallic *tink*. As the young woman swiveled the x50 lens over the opening, she felt the bitter wave of disappointment sweep over her. The entire power cell chamber was packed full of hardened silt.
This will take forever, Ginnafae thought as she sat back in her chair, stretching her back and relishing the relief of her vertebrae popping back into place. As she stretched, her third digit began fluttering again; mild annoyance displacing the relief she had just felt. Looking at her hand and the glitching digit, she grabbed the finger with her right hand and concentrated, trying to quell the anxiety she felt. As her emotions calmed, the servos in her finger began to slow, then stopped completely.
Grabbing her outer cloak, Ginnafae decided to take a break from her research and get some fresh air. As she was reaching for the door, a small chirp emitted from the datapad she was given when she was accepted into House Caliburnus.
As she read the bulletin her scarred brow furrowed in confusion. So she was expected first to try to kill the very same man that had just accepted her as his apprentice? Ginnafae began to laugh, a shrill and discordant sound that usually annoyed others around her.
Maybe I'll use my pocket Death Star on him! she thought. Flipping the reader off with a casual gesture and tossing it on her sleeping billet, Ginnafae decided to take a walk around the House common. While she doubted she could be of any value in a fight, being a young learner as she was, at least she could watch the drama unfold.
Nothing like a ring side seat to a slaughter, she thought as her scar-laced lips bent into a smile.
Rayne slowed as she nearly reached her target of the vehicle depot. Her long ice white hair flew around her face. Suddenly she leaned against the cold wall of the place as she felt her heart wrench. Everywhere she looked, nearly everyone was hunting her husband, the man she loved. The pain in her stomach didn't help matters either.
Her eyes shut, desperately searching through the Force for her husband's presence to no avail. All she could determine was through their bond that he still lived. It didn't make her feel any better. Rayne took a long calming breath to clear her thoughts and her emotions.
The hybrid Shaevalian brushed her hair out of her face before slowly opening her vivid aqua eyes. Now with a clearer head, Rayne looked around at the depot.
Not much selection left.
'Terrific' Rayne thought sarcastically. Her thoughts drifted back a moment to her husband. She had something of importance to discuss with him.
"No.." she whispered and shook her head. Dwelling on the situation wasn't going to help matters. She pushed herself off the wall and walked further into the vehicle depot.
Rayne thought to herself all the places Brent would go for such a dire occasion as she explored the place and what would be best way to find him. Abruptly, that same feeling of fear and anxiety consumed her she had felt earlier. She had to brace herself against the side of the vehicle closest to her and placed her hand on her forehead as the feeling overwhelmed her.
The trees around him felt even closer in as he sped between them. His heart pounded harshly in his chest, pumping his Force-energized blood throughout his body. The cold night air lashed at his skin, turning him pale as the moon above. He felt his rebellious nature well up inside him, and he allowed himself a grin. It had been years since his last ‘jaunt’.
Keeping his eyes forward and open, despite the whipping winds, he scanned the trees for his destination. He needed an open area for his purpose. The forest had been a tactical choice on his part; AT-STs and AT-ATs would have plenty of trouble making their way through the dense foliage, and even a trained Jedi would think twice before zooming into it on a speeder bike.
Suddenly, off to his right, he spotted a troop carrier. A thin, long speeder, it was capable of slipping between the trees, but was having a hard time manoeuvring. A platoon of men stood around it, in what looked like a simple ‘bastion’ formation, an attempt to defend the carrier as it moved. Their sergeant, a gruff man, looked up just as Brent zipped by. He lifted his arm, and pointed, shouting out orders into his commlink.
“So much for the element of surprise” he said to himself, as he elegantly dismounted the speeder, before nudging it at the trooper carrier. The speeder connected with the far sturdier vehicle and exploded, sending spinning blades of shrapnel out in all directions. The troopers scrambled away from the burning wreckage, trying to douse the flames on their uniforms.
Sufficiently pleased at the distraction, the Quaestor made his way into the centre of the nearby clearing, the moon light casting an eerie spotlight on him. He moved his hand down to his belt, gripping the less familiar of the two lightsaber hilts attached to it. He unclipped it, and squeezed it tight in his fist, letting the weapon’s power leak into the air around him. He smiled to himself.
“Well, now, Caliburnus, time to see if you’re really worth it” he said, looking at the intricate designs on the hilt. The power had greatly diminished since the first time he’d held the weapon, and he felt the need to somehow fix it.
“Time for the bait...”
Drawing his hands slowly up from his sides to a V-shape above his head, he drew the Force power directly from the ground below him, through his legs, and into his chest. Force power crackled over his skin in little bolts of lightning, his skin prickling with energy. He felt his soul lifting as if it had just been made lighter than air. The Force power he drew from the ground surged through him, saturating his cells. The area around his feet began to blacken, the life force being drawn directly from the plants and earth.
“Come to me, Galron!” he shouted at the heavens, before letting out his fury and anger. His Force presence suddenly exploded. It was as if a lit match burst into a volcano. A vast plume of blue and red light surged up into the sky, splitting the darkness with eerie colour. He screamed as his cells relinquished their recently received energy.
As suddenly as it had begun, it ended. The light faded away, his body felt as if it had been burnt in a vat of acid. He slumped to his knees, breathing haggardly.
“Now... we wait” he said, both to himself, and to those who would be here soon.
Closing in on her prey like a hunting Vornskr, Rasilvenaira spurred her mount towards the surge in the force energy. Eyes narrowed as she felt not only the clearly readable force signature of her former apprentice, Archangel, but also that of another presence. A hunger deep inside the Sith flared as she felt the pull from the ancient lightsaber Caliburnus. Having once commanded that blade’s power, the Battlelord had be reluctant to relinquish it when she resigned, now she felt its call again.
Shaking her head, Rasilvenaira turned her focus to the task at hand, and turned her Varactyl down a narrow path through the jungle that would lead to her to the errant Quaestor. The explosions in the distance only confirmed that she was on the right path and she nudged the Varactyl to move faster lest someone beat her to Arch.
Slowing her mount down as she felt the energy grow even stronger, Rasilvenaira slid from the creatures back, motioning for it to stay. The Varactyl growled but crouched down to remain where her mistress had told her to wait. Resting her hand on the saber hilt at her side, Rasilvenaira slipped through the trees.
Pausing, the Battlelord crouched down and flipped on her comlink, “Chiron, where are you?”
“Master?” Came the reply, “On my way to catch up with you.”
“Negative, go find and intercept Rayne.” The Sith’s voice held an icy chill, “I don’t need her interfering when I find Archangel… I’d hate to have to kill them both.”
A moment of silence, then Chiron acknowledged his orders, “Understood, Master, I’ll keep her busy.”
Archangel knelt, feeling almost dizzy from the flowing force that swirled around him but something prickled at the edges of the Warrior’s awareness. Without turning around he recognized the deadly shadow that was his Mistress as she stepped just into the clearing and stopped.
“You’re losing your touch, Mistress, I felt you coming.” He smirked slightly.
“Wrong, whelp, I wasn’t trying to hide.” Came the Sith’s snarled response.
“I don’t have time to fight with you, Rasilvenaira, there’s something more important coming.”
“Indeed, and what makes you think I’ll just stand by and let you do whatever it is you think you’re going to accomplish.”
He glanced over his shoulder as the all too familiar angry snap-hiss came from the clawed saber as it was ignited. “I see, so is that what you intend to do? Kill me and reclaim Caliburnus for yourself?”
Finally turning to fully face the StormRaven, Archangel clipped Caliburnus back to his belt and drew his own saber. Their eyes met and time seemed to grind to a stop as countless unspoken thoughts passed between them.
“Very well, my apprentice, I won’t kill you, yet.” Jet dark eyes burned with unfathomable emotions as the silver blade was extinguished and the hilt returned to Rasilvenaira’s side.
As he ran through the hallways Chiron received an order via his armband to mislead and occupy the Jedi Hunter at any cost.
Now was also the time to reveal the hidden apprentice of Master Rasilvenaira. Chiron was not only prepared and trained to be an assassin, he was a true hand of the Dark Side that extended the reach of his Sith Master beyond her physical and Force capability.
“Tell me what you regard as your greatest strength, so I will know how best to undermine you; tell me of your greatest fear, so I will know which I must force you to face; tell me what you cherish most, so I will know what to take from you; and tell me what you crave, so that I might deny you…”
Sudennly, these wise words by Darth Plagueis made much sense as he focused on intercepting the Jedi Hunter. "Yes... My Master will confront the Quaestor and I will capture his prize possession – his wife! Although... She will not even suspect it! Not every battle is won by using weapons..." Chiron smiled as he jumped on his new speeder bike he was working on for some time now and opened the fuel injectors all the way for extra boost. In flight, noise suppressors were engaged to compensate for the extra power and roar the engine was emitting.
"Everything is proceeding as planned. The trio is distracted with Daniel Stephens, Queastor is confronted by my Master and his wife is walking into a trap. Perfect..." – Chiron thought to himself as he evaded a few of the Stormtrooper Patrols in the woods. The vehicle depot was near. He could sense her fear and worry about her husband. "My Master was right. Her emotions would help me locate her through the Force." He stopped and took his binoculars confirming her position near a small wall in the depot. By pressing a button on his armband, a small spy droid was launched from the back of the speeder bike and continued to the coordinates locked by Chiron upon determining the position of the Huntress. Chiron continued so that he could intercept her from the opposite direction...
"While I stall her with pointless smalltalk and boasting with my new lightsaber the spy droid will film everything and transmit it in the holographic form to my Master when she confronts the Quaestor. It will look like I captured her and that will assure us the leverage needed to make him back down. Now everything depends on his intentions with the holy Sith weapon. Rayne is our bargaining chip. By securing this transmission he will be forced to resist the lust for ultimate power and put down the weapon when confronting my Master. Whatever possessed him to do what he is doing will be prevented in it's Dark plans. House Caliburnus will prevail, because it's members have matured and evolved beyond the old Sith contests for power. The sacred Caliburnus will be returned to it's rightful place as all three factors – Passion, Power, Knowledge come into place." Chiron continued to analyze the unfolding situation as he was approaching the beautiful Shaevalian.
"Chiron?" Rayne whispered while taking a defensive posture.
"Chiron! It is you!" She couldn't hide her joy by recognizing the approaching cloaked figure.
"Greetings Huntress! I was sent to protect you. As we speak, Troops are searching for you counting that if they catch you, they will have the means to blackmail the Quaestor and force him to surrender. It is imperative that you stay here with me. In case some Dark Jedi hot shot decides to apprehend you, he will first have to come through me m'lady... and my new lightsaber." A bright red blade hissed through the air as Chiron ignited the new lightsaber and assumed the Shien opening stance.
"Very well, we shall stay in the depot and wait to see how things develop. I know I can count on one of the Nightshades."
Rayne knew better than to trust people in this House. It was a Sith house tried and true. Experience had taught her well since she arrived in the Clan over a year ago. She didn't know what this Protector's motive was, but she wasn't buying its sincerity in the least. Especially not now. Chiron was one of our good members, still the fact remained. She wouldn't underestimate him or his motives and Rayne kept on her guard.
Suddenly, she froze. She knew where Archangel was. His Force presence was screaming at her like a TIE Fighter through space and where to find him. The time to act was now. Rayne started for a standard speeder still left in the depot.
Chiron made his move, intercepting her. "My apologies, m'lady. But I cannot permit you to leave. Not until I bring you to my Master" he said with a definitive remark, lightsaber in hand.
Rayne's eyes pierced through him with anger. She had no time for this and she ignited her own red lightsaber, taking a defensive stance.
She quickly feigned an attack upwards at the Protector. He went to block, which Rayne took this oppurtunity and then used the Force to blast him back away from her. He flew back, but caught himself. But it was just enough time for Rayne to mount a speeder, knock into gear and sped off into the forest surrounding them. Rayne let the Force guide her through the trees and to her husband.
Chiron extinguished his lightsaber, and went for his comlink "Mistress, the woman has escaped... she is enroute to your location..."
Rayne used the speeder for as fast as it could manage. The wind stung her face, but she pushed past it. Her eyes scanning for any sight in the night of something useful that could direct her to her destination. Her eyes caught sight of the flashing of lightsabers in the distance.
Her eyes widened a bit. She sped on through the foliage, heading directly for the brightness of the lightsabers that invaded the night air.
Ginnafae made her way to the main vehicle bay. Seeing the area barren of transportation, a thought occurred to the young Protector. Seldom has the house been this empty... perhaps this would be a good time to steal away into the Basilisk M & R facility to do some research without prying eyes hovering over her. Her pale blue eyes narrowed as a mischievous grin splayed on her torn face.
Limping off towards the research labs, the whine and click of her artificial leg echoing loudly in the cavernous area, she headed off to do what most followers of the Dark Side do best... use any and all situations to their own personal advantage.
The sabers clashed in a thunderous clash of light, sending sparks up into the night air. The duelists held their pose, glaring angrily at one another, trying to psych the other out. By far the stronger of the pair, Brent flexed his biceps, pushing his former mistress back onto her heels. She held her ground, however, her superior powers matching up well against Brent’s brute strength.
“Now, now, apprentice. We know this doesn’t work” she purred, a slight smirk curling on her lips. A burst of Force energy surged through her, allowing her already remarkable dexterity to deftly slip her out of the saber lock, rolling away from her opponent. Brent grunted with frustration, pulling himself into a simple combat stance, staring her down.
“You have no idea what is going on here, Rasilvenaira! You have no idea what will happen if I fail!”
“You are under the impression I care about your intentions.”
Rasilvenaira allowed herself a moment’s smile, as she flicked a sizable rock at her former apprentice. Brent barely registered the incoming projectile, his eyes dead set on his Aedile. As the rock neared him, he tossed his saber to his off-hand, and struck out at the projectile. His fist connected hard with the rock, with a flash of Force energy, shattering it into splinters.
The shower of rock splinters was a perfect distraction. Rasilvenaira charged forward, slicing across her opponent’s stomach, the tip aimed at his belt. Brent rolled away from the strike, and struck out, his off-hand hold perfectly placed to attack her. His strike sliced through a few folds of her robes, not injuring her, but still it was the first hit.
Ras turned and glared at him, her fury suddenly flaring in the Force. Brent grinned, his green lightsaber casting an emerald glean on his white teeth. He cast his eyes up towards the heavens, his grin closing into a smile.
“The One comes, Rasilvenaira. The Caliburnus can feel it” he said quietly, almost to himself. He could hear her words as she spoke to him. He could feel her in the Force. But he didn’t pay her any more heed. His hand enclosed the Caliburnus, unclipping it from his belt. He allowed the weapon’s energy to power him.
“The Caliburnus will be mine!” Ras shouted, charging forward. She feigned left, then struck up. He continued to smile. Without looking to her, he pushed the energy from the Caliburnus into the ground, creating a massive wave of earth and rock to well up before his assailant.
Rasilvenaira let out a startled gasp before being covered by rubble. Brent smiled. A small blue light floated down from the heavens towards him.
“A pity, mistress. You’ll miss the show”
"A pinch of theruss root..." Ginnafae said to herself as she sat hunched over one of the ancient musty texts in the house research library. While leafing through a book is one of the most inefficient methods of studying, the young woman had to admit to herself that she was enjoying the process... slow as it was. Her right hand scribbled down the listing of ingredients deftly, her eyes never leaving the opened page. Her mechanical fingers of her left hand began to flutter slightly as her eyes quickly absorbed the material before her.
As Ginnafae leaned back in the chair, mentally digesting the alchemic formulae before her, she felt a sudden intrusion in her head. Knowing she was not supposed to be here, she instinctively snapped her eyes shut while simultaneously slamming the heavy book closed. While whoever was attempting to crawl inside her skull would probably read her thoughts and know what she was up to, at least they would not see through her eyes, further compounding the infraction.
Ginnafae... I have a task for you, the Quaestor said, her new Master's will compelling her even from a great distance.
Things are unfolding fast now and I don't want added complications. Cause a distraction in the House... I don't care what or how, just keep everyone there busy.
As abruptly as it began, the connection was severed. Ginnafae took in a sharp shuddering breath as her head cleared and her will became her own again. "A distraction..." she said to herself softly. Like a blooming flower, a plan began to unfurl in her head. Her pale, scarred face split into a devilish grin as she maliciously thought of the havoc she was about to unleash.
Without even returning the book she was reading to its proper shelf, Ginnafae left the library and walked in the direction of the Menagerie as fast as her limping form would allow.