It was night in the City of Seng Karash, capital of Aeotheran and principle city of the Orion System. Malisane watched out of the window of his private quarters of the immense Marakith Skyhook. The city was a spiders web of glittering nights, the carbon processing plants that operated day and night pouring out smoke, the residential homes where employees ate and slept, the mass of people surging in and out of the casinos bars and clubs, and the ships arriving and departing the spaceport. Two hundred thousand souls living their lives unknowingly for the profit and glory of the Dark Jedi of Clan Naga Sadow.
He turned as the door slid open revealing a simple grey robed journeyman. He bowed “Quaestor your shuttle is ready.”
Malisane nodded. “Are the rest of the party ready?” he asked.
The journeyman nodded. “They await you in the hangar Quaestor.”
“Good.” Malisane replied. He picked up his saber and clipped it to his belt, before holstering his blaster and striding out of the door.
“I still don't see the point of this,” Ashia remarked, “this is hardly work for a Dark Jedi.”
Macron glanced over at the Aedile. She was sat calmly on a plastisteel bench across from the one the Tribune was casually reclining on. “Business drek,” he replied with a shrug, “so long as the Clan maintains this pretence that we're legitimate miners I guess it's necessary. Plus it fills the coffers.”
Ashia snorted. “And why do we get dragged along? I have better things to do.”
“Because we've only just made contact with the Adradis Corporation,” a voice replied, “and until we know a bit more I'm not walking in there without someone at my back. They have a reputation for being tough customers.”
Macron turned his head towards the voice. “Hey Mal, was wondering when you'd turn up.”
Malisane studied at them both. Like himself they were simply dressed, there would be time to change into official regalia later. He walked over to the waiting Delta Class shuttle that bore the Dlarit Corporation logo. Outside six guards, likewise wearing the company logo, stood to attention, blaster rifles at ease.
Ashia stood up and came to join him. “You wouldn't be happier taking the Fire of Sepros if we don't know what to expect?
Malisane grinned, “Much happier,” he replied, “but as this is supposed to be a diplomatic mission they might react badly if we turn up in a frigate.”
“True,” Ashia laughed.
Macron sauntered over. “You not bringing your pet?” he asked.
“I don't think Gmork really fits the corporate image,” the Quaestor replied, “unless we were posing as pirates. Anyway, come on we're wasting time.”
“Damn poky little ship.” Ashia grumbled once they were inside and settled in the main passenger area.
Malisane shrugged. “We'll be there in thirty hours. Besides we have a room each it will be adequate.”
Macron was fiddling with a data pad. He looked up. “We ready to go?”
Malisane nodded. He clicked a button. “Depart immediately.” he ordered into the communicator.
A few minutes later the ship hummed as the engines fired up and it slowly manoeuvred out of the hangar and into the Aeotheran sky.
“I'm going for a lie down,” Ashia announced getting to her feet, “wake me if anything interesting happens.”
It was ten hours later. Malisane lay on his bunk staring up at the grey ceiling. Macron had been busy with whatever he'd been working on and not much conversation. After a quick meal the Quaestor had followed Ashia's example and retired to his room to try and get some sleep. However so far it had eluded him. The next few days would be boring. Discussions about carbon and tibanna gas prices, receptions with polite conversation, it sounded tedious.
Suddenly he sat bolt upright as an explosion rocked the ship, followed by alarms filling his senses. . He got to his feet and rushed out into the main cabin. The room was full of smoke. Macron was stood up next to his table and Ashia also stood in the doorway of her room. “What happened?” she demanded, coughing.
“Don't know,” Macron said, a breath mask clamped to his face. Malisane grabbed one off the wall and pulled it on.
“Check out the cockpit.” he ordered. As the Tribune darted off the Warrior clicked a communicator. “This is the Quaestor, report status.” There was no response. “What is going on?” he asked.
“Lets find out,” Ashia said from behind her mask.
Macron was stood in the cockpit. “Crews dead,” he reported, “and we've venting plasma. Safety shielding failing around the reactor. Whole ship could blow in minutes.”
“Where are we?” Malisane asked staring at the navicomputer.
“Umbala system,” Macron replied, “uncharted.. Computers taken us out of hyperspace.”
“Umbala?” Ashia repeated, “never heard of it.”
“One terrestrial planet,” Macron replied, pushing the dead pilot from his seat and strapping himself in, “heading for it. We need to ditch this thing.” The others strapped themselves into the other two chairs.
The former Sapphire Commander expertly controlled the shuttle as it screamed into the atmosphere. “Having to take us in steep this is going to be bumpy.” he shouted.
“Do your best,” Malisane replied.
The shuttle glowed hot as the atmospheric shielding tried to compensate for the angle of descent. Macron piloted it over the treetops, nearly skimming the branches, struggling to keep it under control as the engines began to fail. He spotted a patch of clear grassland and aimed for it. The shuttle cleared the trees and bounced once as with no time to engage the landing boosters, it hit the grass and bounced, the breaking systems working on overdrive to slow the ship down. Malisane and Ashia gripped their seats beneath them as the ship bounced once more then slid along the ground leaving a furrow of scorched earth. Finally it stopped.
The console was smoking and on fire as the three of them unstrapped themselves and stood up. “We need to get out of here!” Malisane said making for the door.
“You're not kidding!” Ashia replied.
“Damn hatch is stuck the Quaestor said, hitting the button.
With a hiss Ashia drew ignited her saber, slicing through the lock and the door slid open. Malisane leapt out to the ground followed by the other two. “Run!” Macron shouted.
They ran across the grass away from the burning shuttle, the force giving them superhuman speed. They dived to the ground as the explosion filled the air with burning debris and fire and the ground shook. They lay their for a few minutes as red hot durasteel and plastic rained around them. Finally they got to their feet and turned to view the burning husk that had been their ship.
“What the hell happened?” Malisane demanded, breathing heavily.
“I don't know,” Macron replied, “I don't know how much that will tell us.
Ashia sighed. She looked around. “I doubt this place has much by the way of civilisation. I don't sense anything in our immediate vicinity. We might be stuck here.”
Macron nodded. “With a bit of luck someone will come lucking for us.”
Malisane thought for a minute, considering the explosion and the crash. “Maybe, but I wonder who?”
The pale moonlight glistened through the curtains in the master bedroom of Misahide Castle. Shikyo was enjoying his first night away from Tarthos laying next to the slender, youthful body of a young woman, when his commlink went off. The visage of his new Aedile, Ylith Atema, wore an expression of concern and worry.
"Shikyo, we have a situation. I need you back to Tarthos as soon as possible."
With a half-hearted sigh, Shikyo nodded.
"Understood. I'll be there soon."
Noriko's head perked up from underneath the silk sheets, looking up at the Quaestor with sorrow in her eyes.
"You're leaving again?"
"They need me at Naga Sadow. They are family just as much as my blood."
The young woman nodded, as the Sith planted a kiss on her. Leaving his home planet behind, Shikyo boarded the Adraelech and input the coordinates to Tarthos, curious as to what the situation was.
Ylith paced back and forth in the great hall of the cathedral, anticipating the arrival of his Quaestor and friend. Shikyo walked into the hall, taking great steps towards the Battlemaster. Ylith smiled and nodded towards the Warrior.
"It's about time ya showed up."
"Hey, every wolf needs a bone once in a while."
The two chuckled as they proceeded to get down to business.
"So, what's got ya rattled, Ylith?"
"Bob passed on some information to me. He said that Malisane, Ashia, and Macron were heading on some kind of business meeting when their shuttle lost contact about a couple days ago."
"Do you know where they were heading?"
"I'm not sure, but their last recorded signal was somewhere in the Umbala system."
"What the frell kind of system is that?"
"Not sure. That's why I called you back here."
The Quaestor went to scratch his head, looking down at the metallic casing that shielded his arm before switching to his left hand. Deciding to look into it with the Battlemaster, Rurouni informed Manesh of the situation and his solution. With a slight moment of hesitation, the Consul approved of the decision. Shikyo made his way back to his quarters in the Cathedral, packing his belongings and double checking his weapons. Before he left his quarters, he made his way to his desk, bringing up the commlink within.
"Get me the Herald and the Seneschal."
Macron stood up and dusted himself off. A slight grimace crossed his face as he looked at the smoldering wreckage.
“Damn.” He mumbled. “Well, let's see if any of our equipment and supplies survived.” They poked through the pile of rubble, careful not to set off another explosion.
After a few minutes the three were able to pull some rations and other various survival items out.
“Hehe, at least I had my alchemy bag with me. Wouldn't want to be without that.” Macron cackled.
“Oh look, a microscope survived.” He stuffed it into his bag and poked a bit more.
Malisane had been fiddling with some of the wiring for a bit near what remained of the cockpit. “There, a distress signal is being beamed. If anyone from the Brotherhood gets close enough to pick it up, they'll know we are here.
“Yeah but what are the chances that someone from the Brotherhood ends up out here?”
“Dunno, but it's better then nothing.”
Ash glanced at the sky. “It'll be dark soon. We'd better find shelter.” The Krath Priestess moved off towards the tree line. Her sombre mood catching the eye of her friends.
Malisane moved to catch up with her as Macron followed, muttering to himself.
“What's up, Ash? You ok?” His dark brown eyes showed a measure of concern for his newly appointed Aedile.
“Yeah, just didn't expect my first mission as Aedile to drop me...here.” She looked around at the meager landscape and sighed heavily.
“It'll be alright. We shouldn't be here long, and I'm betting it's pretty uneventful.”
The Zabrak nodded as Macron cackled about nothing in particular behind them.
“Where were they headed?” The Herald's cool collectiveness giving strength to his brother. Shikyo mused that nothing seem to rattle Muz much, not even his missing wife. Shin'ichi on the other had would have been pacing back and forth and grumbling a lot. He was glad he was otherwise occupied at the moment.
“They were headed to speak with the Adradis Corporation.”
The hologram of the Herald nodded briefly, he was some what familiar with the Quaestor's business dealings.
“Ok, I'll find Sil and we'll catch up to you in the Spear. I'm sure they're alright. Send me coordinates. Muz out.”
Shikyo sat back and let a long sigh out just as Ylith entered.
“What'd he say?”
“He's gonna find Sil and catch up with us. He says they'll be fine, that we'll find them.”
“What do you think?” The Aedile watch his Quaestor quietly.
“I dunno. I hope so.” Shikyo stared out the window at the stars flying by.
"Well, lets go then" Draken said and Shikyo turned his chair around to see his
Aedile walk out the door. It didnt take long for the Quaestor to rise as well and
follow the Battlemaster into the hallway.
"We are following them?" Shikyo asked his Aedile and Driken grinned and nodded.
"Can't let the Ludo Kressh summit have all the fun, can we? Besides, it'll be
amusing." The Valheru said, a glitter in his lizard like eyes awaiting adventure.
"How are we going to get there? It's uncharted!" Shikyo said and Draken simply
walked to the nearest shuttle.
"There is a chance that their corporation will find out they will be missing and
probably will search for them. I think a shuttle would be best in case any of them
"Good Idea, got your gear?" Shikyo asked and Draken simply motioned his Valheru
sword and his lightsaber. "All the gear I need."
"What about Muz and Sildrin?" Shikyo asked and Draken simply entered the shuttle.
"They will follow with the big ship in case we need it. Probably best if we tell our ships
to stand by too, if needed."
"For what? Are you expecting something?"
"Quaestor, I have lived throughout millenia, and I can say without doubt that you
should always expect the unexpected."
Shikyo smiled and moved to the cockpit to give the coördinates to the pilots and
then joined Draken in the main passenger area. Killing time before they would
arrive at the place they had last noted the Ludo Kressh shuttle.
Nighttime had closed in, and the crash survivors had built crude survival shelters with their salvaged gear. Fusion lanterns lit the area as the Dark Jedi huddled in their metallic foil blankets. Rations were divvied up, and water supplies reckoned. Things were tight, but they had a fair amount of supplies.
Macron sat high on a large granite boulder, watching the unfamiliar stars on this forsaken planet. Even in this sparse place, the life forms were a source of annoyance. At least there weren’t many filthy bugs here, just the boring vegetative matter growing about. His electrobinocs whirred as they zoomed in on a bluish glow back toward the site of the crash.“ Uneventful trip, Echuta! As I suspected, it has begun,” he mumbled whilst regarding the distant scene. “Not good.”
The others huddled around a campfire some meters away, sharing stories and laughing at old follies. A crunching of leaves and a familiar presence alerted the Battlelord to the approach of friends. “Hello Malisane, Ashia… hop on up here, if you would sir and lady,” invited the alchemist as he squatted atop the rock. “You need to see this.”
“What’s with the lone-wolf act, Mac?” asked Ashia with a grin unseen in the dark.
A rush of Force power carried her on top of the rock with ease.
Malisane glided up on silent invisible wings. His Imperial-issue boots clicked on the stone as he landed. The three resembled vultures, or perhaps wicked gargoyles of old as they sat on their stony perch. They were predators of the gloom.
“Leave it to you two to make me smile in a bad situation,” replied Mononoke as he passed the electrobinocs. “Take a look for yourself, vector 337.4,” he responded quietly. “You should understand, being old spacers.”
“I don’t see anything but a…hmm,” said Malisane. “I remember seeing a Cherenkov glow just like that on an old Imperial vessel with a leaking reactor core. It was bad, a few techs died repairing it. I had to give the orders to send them in and seal the bulkhead,” reminisced the Sith. “Their eyes looked like boiled Krakana when they came out. It was really tragic, but if it had blown well… that would have been even worse for the whole crew.”
Mononoke nodded silently in agreement as the gear was passed to Ashia. “The plasma we vented in flight was the neutron coolant- and the reactor is still intact, powered, and unshielded. It will detonate soon.”
“That is not good,” said Malisane with a frown.
“Not good at all. Perhaps we can make it far enough on foot to avoid the detonation radius,” calculated Ashia as she worked out the rough blast area mentally.
“Not likely. There were…things… on there that neither of you knew about. Like a whole bunch of enhanced baradium,” sighed the lunatic heavily. “And other bad stuff.”
“What the hell?” rasped the furious Quaestor. “Who gave that order, or did you do it yourself? I would ask if you are nuts, but that would be a moot point. Who else knows about this snafu?”
Ashia regarded the two with a close eye, sensing the flare of anger that began to boil forth. Such was the Dark Path.
“No one. Royal Guard business, I am sorry,” said Mononoke with a shrug simply as he winced with conflicting emotions. “I was under need-to-know orders from very high up. The life of an officer is hard, as you have told me yourself. I am just now beginning to understand that aspect since I have been in the Brotherhood,” stated the Tribune. “Especially right now," Mac said while standing up. "I'm going."
“You won’t last long near that thing,” observed the Quaestor seriously. “You’ll cook like a bad nerf steak."
Ashia spoke up with confidence. "Do you value your life so poorly, brother?”
“I’ll last longer than any of you,” whispered Mac as he leaned close. “The armor is heavily rad-shielded. I hold up well to cellular damage, given my unfortunate ‘heritage’. I’m going now. Please, by Darth, be ready with med-skills and a field decontamination kit. I’ll keep in touch via comm and telepathy until the ionic interference gets too bad."
The unspoken consequences were clear to all of them as they clasped hands.
"And if I fail, well. May the Force be with us all,” canted Macron as he triggered his helm to rise from the shoulder plates about his face. The Keibatsu glided down from the rock, and began to jog toward the wreck with a frantic speed borne of determined purpose. He checked and inventoried his gear mentally as he slogged trhough the moist grass.
Malisane turned and strode toward the campfire with a look of frustration and concern in his eyes. He often wondered why Mononoke cared so little for his own life. Time and time again, the Sith had reached out to his House mate and tried to help, often with cold results. Still, the madman was a trusted ally.
* Kyataran for idiot
Onboard of the spears the holoimage of the Seneschal flickered in front of sable eyes. "Ashia, Malisane and Macron you say?!", the voice of the Seneschal couldn't hide the concern as the Herald nodded in reply. The Herald leaned back in the seat onboard the Spears: "I didn't know you were away from Antei on a mission." Sildrin shrugged: "I was surprised myself when this mission was arranged rather... hastily. A couple of hours ago I was about to return from some other freaking place and then had to reroute immediately - I haven't ever heard of the Umbala system, ... oh well."
Muz leaned forward, narrowing his eyes: "Umbala you say...?" Surprised by the Herald's reaction, the Seneschal confirmed his question: "Yes,.. Umbala. Don't tell me you know of that place. I didn't even know there was something at all worth our attention."
Black eyes stared hard at the holoimage, his hand tightning around his saber: "They crashed in the Umbala system." For a few seconds there was utter silence as the meaning of the words kicked in, then the Sildrin took a deep breath: "No, this can't be any coincidence. I will meet up with your ship. Although I am pretty sure the Dark Council isn't too happy about two of their members being involved,... I was heading to this place anyways." With a low growl she added: "Not my fault when the right hand doesn't know what the left hand does."
Sildrin entered the bridge of the Fallen Spear, knowing her own ship was heading back to Antei. With a sigh she sat down on one of the comfortable chairs, sensing the engines of the ship firing up: "What a mess. Not easy to shake them off." Muz grinned, handing her the datapad with the informations he could gather about Malisane's mission: "I know what you mean." After taking the datapad, she thoroughly began to study it, her face remained emotionless. The hard stare of her eyes meant nothing good. Finally the Seneschal turned her head into Muz's direction: "Those are the same people I am suppossed to talk to..."
Malisane sat staring up at the stars, his face a mask of cold annoyance.
“You alright?” Ashia asked him from across the fire.
“I don’t like being anyone’s errand boy,” he replied, “I follow my orders but I appreciate being given all the facts.”
She shrugged. “What you going do to do about it?” she asked.
The Warrior shrugged. “What can I do? You know we don’t question the Dark Council.”
She nodded. “True.”
They sat in silence. Suddenly Ashia looked up. “I sense something.”
Malisane nodded. “So do I. Over there,” he said pointing into the darkness below them. He lay down quickly, motioning Ashia to do the same.
“Can’t see anything,” she muttered.
“I can sense them.” He closed his eyes then reopened them, “Stormtroopers. About fourty.”
She nodded. “Yes. What do you think they’re doing here? This an Imperial settlement?”
“Could be,” he replied, “they’re moving in the dark without lights which means they’re either here on a covert mission or they’re hunting someone.”
“Us?” she asked.
“I doubt it,” The Quaestor considered this. “Well,” he mused, “we could keep down and watch them go by, we could follow them, or we could simply go down there and question them.”
She considered this and shrugged. “Well they’re pretty surceptable to the force so that might work.”
Suddenly her eyes widened. “There’s something wrong there, those troopers are afraid, very afraid.”
“Stormtroopers afraid?” He scoffed, “they don’t have the imagination. Training and conditioning pushes it out of them. I’ve seen them face down charging rancors without even wavering, and fight against overwhelming odds without retreat.”
“These ones are.” The Krath replied.
“What of?” the Sith demanded curiously.
“They’re stopping,” she muttered.
“Defensive formation.” The Quaestor said with a nod.
They waited. Then the ground below was lit up with the stormtrooper’s blaster fire, shots aimed into the foliage around them. In response blue beam weapons fired back, pitching several of the troopers to the ground twitching.
“Stun weapons?” Ashia asked.
Malisane nodded, “Yes, don’t recognise them though.”
The battle raged below, though oddly one sided as more of the Imperials fell Several fires had broken out in the foliage from the troopers blasts, and were spreading, further lighting the scene up and they could make out shapes silhouetted against the glare, tall reptilian shapes carrying weapons. Malisane stiffened, his eyes widening. He recognised those shapes, the academy on Carida had images of them, and reports from the events on Bakura two decades ago.
“Gather what you need we’re moving out.” He ordered.
“What?” the Aedile demanded, “are you crazy.”
“We’re upwind,” he replied, his mind racing, “the stormtroopers ought to deceive them for now but we can’t stay here. Leave the camp just what we can carry quickly.”
“Malisane!” she protested, “what are those creatures, and what the hells up with you suddenly?
“No time to discuss it with the Conclave,” he replied, grabbing his cloak and blaster, “come on!”
She moved, startled by the usually unruffled. “What about Macron?” she demanded picking her things up.
“We’re not going to do Macron much good if they find us,” Malisane replied. He sighed. “Him and his bloody GMRG business. There’s nothing we can do right now.”
Ashia glanced back over her shoulders at the fires below, watching the silhouettes of the reptilian creatures loading the troopers onto repulsors. Then she silently followed the Quaestor.
As the shuttle entered the Umbala system, Shikyo peeked through the cockpit to scan the vastness of the space. It was an area he was unfamiliar with, which led to more questions about why his friend and family had gotten out so far. Ylith stood behind him, looking over his shoulder and took in the view. Turning back toward his Aedile, Rurouni raised his eyebrow slightly.
"What would tempt them to come out this far? There's nothing out here."
"Beats me but I'm sure we'll find out more when we catch up with them."
The Keibatsu nodded and allowed the pilots to follow the distress signal they had picked up moments ago. It would only be a matter of time they would catch up with them and investigate into the situation. Double checking his equipment, the Warrior began to spin his lightsaber hilt in his metallic hand, learning to maintain control of his weapon as if he was using his bare hand. The Battlemaster looked as if the constant clinking of metal was annoying him.
With a smirk on his face, Shikyo sheathed the hilt inside his coat, as the shuttle began to break into the planet's atmosphere. Looking out through the cockpit, foilage and greenery seemed to stretch across the horizon, from what the night sky did not conceal. The pilot turned back to the two Sith, yelling out his observations.
"Sirs, I have multiple heat sources on scanner. They appear-"
The shuttle began to rattle out of control, making a sharp plummet towards the ground. Shikyo grabbed a hold of something and yelled out to the pilot.
"What the frell happened?"
"Radiation levels have spiked. Our systems are shot to pieces."
Ylith snarled at the sentance.
With a massive thud, the shuttle crashed into the plant life below them, bouncing across the earth like a stone across a serene pond. The Keibatsu flew forward, bracing himself before colliding into a nearby wall. The impact brough instant darkness to the Warrior, as his senses failed him and he passed out.
Shikyo woke up in a rush, quickly overlooking the surroundings and found himself away from the shuttle,
lying underneath his own robe with a small campfire next to him. His vision still blurry, he suddenly felt
his head pulse of pain and decided it would be best to lie down again, for now.
"How do you feel?" A familiar voice said and Shikyo opened his eyes to see Draken crouching next to
"I had better days...What happened?" the Warrior said and Draken threw some more alien wood onto the small
"We hit the ground pretty bad, our crew killed instantly, you, ironically enough, got your head thrown against
the medical supplies kit and passed out. The Shuttle is a total wreck, I managed to salvage as much as I could
and as much as we need. We're alright for now." The Battlemaster said, sitting down at the fire, getting some water
boiled up to drink.
"How long was I out?"
"Almost a hour, you took quite a hit."
Shikyo sat back up again and felt on his head, which was already bandaged. The Keibatsu examined the Valheru
and saw that his right shoulder was bandaged and bleeding heavily.
"What happened to you?"
"My shoulder got impaled by a metal shaft as we crashed. No serious damage as far as I can tell. Besides, wounds
are the least of our worries."
"Well, I scouted around while you were out, to keep a look around. I say we are two to three hours of walking away from
Malisane's shuttle crash site. Though that surprised me already, I found out that we aren't alone."
"What do you mean?"
"I found a camp, Imperial by the looks of it. A small scout group of approximately ten members. They seemed to
map the surroundings. Other than that I think we have something else too."
"O great, it just gets better doesn't it?" Shikyo said and he ate some of the rations to gain some strength and drank
some distillate water.
"Well, you tell me." Was all Draken said when he pointed right of the Sith, showing a footprint of a large reptile.
"Are you well enough to travel Quaestor? We can't stay much longer." Draken said as he rose and looked around.
"Expecting trouble?" Shikyo said and he rose carefully, slowly regaining strength and balance.
"It's dark soon, it'll be best to travel in the dark. but since we have no gear, I guess you will have to rely on my
eyes." Draken said and he pointed at his reptilian eyes. Shikyo nodded and grabbed his gear and put out the fire
with his boot.
"Southwest, use the force to contact any of Malisane's crew, I'll lead the way through the dark."
The Keibatsu nodded and followed the Valheru, trusting his instincts and trying to contact Malisane, Ashia and
Macron through the force, hoping they were still alive.
The alchemist had jogged the several kilometers in his heavy powered armor and used the Force to make his body tough, oxygenated, and resilient for the grueling run. Shin’Ichi had taught him this unpleasant discipline many mornings as they ran together on Kuroshin with heavy gear. The memories of the training flooded back as he gasped for filtered air in his mask.
The Tribune hated every minute of it, but recognized the powerful lesson learned. “A Soldier is always ready to move, and move out. Now get off your lazy and run, Soldier! Move! Move! Move! Move Now damn your hide!” Shin had said more than once while slapping him effectually about the head. Mac had taken the grizzled warrior’s lesson to heart gratefully. Now, the wise veteran’s words served him well.
A few hours of dedicated slogging had brought him to the wreck of the vessel that had brought them all to this forsaken nerf-hole of a planet. Fortunately, his environmental battlesuit systems recycled the moisture and biogases given off by an exerting Sith. Otherwise, he would have been badly dehydrated by now. He checked his feet for damage, and ran a dehydration check on his body. All involved systems were go.
“What the hell?” mumbled Mac to himself as he surveyed the still-smoking wreckage from behind a hillock with his electrobinocs. Things had been displaced from his mental inventory of the scene before he left. A quick run through the eyepiece recorder images in his helm confirmed the fact. Things had definitely been moved.
The enhanced Baradium in it’s sealed shockproof crates and the signature face-melting biogas tubules were not present. The waving grass had died, turning to a brown slumped color in a radius all about the wreck. No insects moved or sang, and no creatures were evident. It was an unexpected nuclear hell.
“That’s really odd…. Well, no time to waste. This thing is gonna blow hard like a cheap Twilek dancer on a Saturday night… er. Heh heh.” The tasteless crude joke made him chuckle as he approached the contaminated vessel. The Imperial Remnants were not going to get their hyperdrive trade today from the Royal Guard .
A ping sounded in his helm as the internal computer warned him of the hard ionizing radiation. “Ignore, protocol alpha two,” Mac responded automatically.
“Query? Situation rad code Five Ultra, fatal potentiality. Response?”
“Override, authorization Mac alpha foxtrot deuce Darth dammit,” growled the madman.
“Gods. Now my fracking suit is going to argue with me. What the hell is up with my computers and droids lately? Man, I need Sildrin’s genius to check this out sometime, assuming I live.” The installation of the processor was somewhat regrettable at the moment. Not to mention the chafing… ack.
Mononoke approached the heavily ionized area of the former reactor and tried to report in to Malisane with a hand-held comlink. “Mac…Rep…Mali…#zzttt# report… Hot zone…#zzzt#… reached radiation threat site … danger…*pop*… move…things have been moved about….need backup… to…#zzzttt#..Crack *pop* … neutralize….stay away. Will need decontam…*pop*…going to face atomic pile …#zzt# Got it under…#zzt#”
“Well that sucked some nashtah pudu,” hissed the madman as he threw the fried comlink to the ground. It was useless, and his internal suit unit did not have the range of the external one. Pulsing actinic blue light assailed his eyes through the protective smoked lens shields of the armor. He already felt nauseous, and that was a bad sign. A lesser unshielded being would be boiled by now from the energy loosed from the blazing atomic core.
“Go time, baby,” the Battlemaster giggled as he moved toward the cracked fusion pile. This was undoubtedly the worst opponent he had ever faced, and the most unforgiving. He could feel the skin and organs inside his synthetic body beginning to cook and squirm under the immense invisible radiation pressure. “Never done this before- I’m a virgin,” he laughed out loud as the seething blue mass of the split unit became apparent. “Show me baby! Let’s get it on and let me burn!! Give Clan Naga Sadow some love, beeyotch!”
Thirty minutes later, the lunatic collapsed numbly to the ground with a helmeted groan. A successful re-weld, cooling connection, control dampening, and power systems step-down had lowered the near critical seething mass to quiescence. It was still hot, and would be for some time. The meltdown had been avoided, however. It would not blow on his watch. His friends would not die. However, he most likely would cease.
“Ashia….help me” ripped the intense telepathic sending. “I burn…”
As the helpless Flight Leader collapsed in the polluted soil surrounded by crisped blades of irradiated grass that wisped about, he had a vision. Reptilian bipedal creatures approached him and sprayed the cooked human with some unknown fluids. They spoke in some fluted, sibilant tone that he could not comprehend. His limp and weakened body offered no succor as they drug the Sith away…
"They have me......"
Malisane stood on the hilltop. The sun had come up. This ought to be safe. The high, pungeant bushes out to hide them from sight or smell. For now anyway. Where was truly safe?
Ashia sat nearby, munching on some rations. "You need to calm down you know," she said between mouthfuls, "we've been in worse scrapes."
Malisane shrugged. "I'm not convinced. I've read about what these Ssi-ruu do. The place might be crawling with them and we've got no way off this planet. I think I felt more optimistic laid on the altar with Severak waving knives over me."
"We turned on the beacon," Ashia replied, "someones bound to come sooner or later."
"Thats whats worrying me."
"I mean help for us,"
Malisane turned. "And then what? You saw those burned out hulls when we were on the move. Freighers, troop transports, pleasure liners. This place is one huge spiders web. Interdict some ship out of hyperspace, force it to land somehow, then come along and pick out the survivors to entech safe in the knowledge they can't escape. They could have been here years without anyone knowing."
She nodded. "Wonder how big their setup is. They an isolated group or are they trying to push into our space again?"
"No idea," the Quaestor replied. "What we do need is to bring the fleet here and burn the place out, erase any trace. We're not far from Orion don't forget, I don't want these things on our doorstep."
She stretched and stood up. "I'm going to get some sleep. We're probably better moving at night."
Malisane nodded. "Alright, I'll keep watch." He sighed once she'd gone. "Move to where," he muttered, "we're stuck here."
Shikyo made his way trough the dense forest and cursed underneath his brreath,
trying to catch it as he often lost it in the dense air, sweat dripping off of his forehead.
Draken however, seemed in his element, moving faster and more agile than before,
noting this, the Quaestor requested for a halt.
"Aren't you affected by this unbearable heat?" The Warrior asked and the Battlemaster
shook his head. "On my home planet the air was just as dense outside the forest, and
I am cold blooded, I need warmth to survive."
Shikyo nodded and caught his breath, suddenly there was a snap of a twig and both
Dark Jedi emerged into silence. It was quiet, too quiet as even the maller creatures
stopped singing. Suddenly a blue bolt erupted from the tall bush and Shikyo was barely
on time to deflect to with his Lightsaber.
"What the...?" Shikyo said and he deflected more bolts aimed at him, while none were
aimed at Draken. The Valheru ignited it's saber and helped Shikyo deflect the bolts.
"Why don't they aim at you?!" Shikyo shouted and Draken smiled. "I'm cold blooded,
if they use heat detection goggles, they can't see me. Now play dead." Draken shouted
and Shikyo dropped into the floor, commencing a force hibernation to regain his strength
while Draken de-activated his saber.
The bushes moved and two Saurians stepped into the open spot, confronting the
Valheru. The Battlemaster opened his eyes and gazed into theirs, awaiting a
They made clicking sounds and were unsure on how to handle, Draken tried to use his
own native tongue to see if it would have effect.
"Caru anra le-sí?" Draken spoke, asking them why they came. The Saurians looked at
each other questioning and didn't really know how to respond. The Sith ignited his saber
and killed them both before they would call on re-enforcements.
Shikyo rose from the ground and watched as Draken examined the creatures.
"Strange, they seem to adapted intelligence over animal instinct, while not evolving
their body's to match that intelligence. They are cold blooded as well, and if they
cannot wear clothes than they would need some sort of energysource. "
"This is bad, they are Ssi-ruu, I heard about them. they are vicious creatures, only few
stood against them unarmed and lived. I guess you are one of them." Shikyo said.
"Come now, I sense that Malisane and Ashia aren't far off. I do hope Macron is
with them, I can't sense him anywhere." The Quaestor said and Draken shook his
head, "Neither can I, lets go and we'll see what happened."
The Warrior nodded and they both moved to wards the west, heading for Malisane and
Ashia, hoping they would be alright.