Wanting It Over.
This is an invite only runon between Sith Battlelord Malisane de Ath and Sith Warlord Macron Sadow.
Sith Warlord Macron Sadow followed the quiet figure of Senth around the outside of the two story white marble villa, along the tiled path with bushes and trees either side. Finally they reached the rear of the property, a large walled area with a pool in the middle, and an artificially grown lawn beyond with more trees. By the pool on a sun lounger lay the relaxed figure of Malisane de Ath, the owner of the property, dressed in a plain white linen shirt and knee length shorts, and a pair of reflective glasses. A large glass of cool blue liquid lay on the floor next to him.
He looked up and raised the glasses onto his forehead as they approached. Senth was wearing a plain grey outfit similar to that usually preferred by the Battlelord, whereas Macron had on his usual red armour. “I see you dressed for the weather,” Malisane observed.
“My suit has environment controls,” the alchemist replied, “plus heat and cold are of no concern to a Sith.”
“Suppose so,” Malisane replied. “Senth fetch our guest a drink.”
Macron studied the Battlelord. Malisane had changed over the last few years, from the young enthusiastic former officer, to the determined and fiercely loyal Summit member, to what? A businessman? His behaviour had been erratic during the Vong war, and even more erratic during the recapture of Orian. “So what did you invite me
here for?” the alchemist asked finally as the DAC fetched his drink.
Malisane paused for a second, then said. “Did you come alone?”
The Warlord frowned at the question, “Not quite, I brought Zuglaq. He’s waiting onboard my ship.”
Malisane sighed. “That has caused a problem you know?” he replied “Urtarg wants him destroying, and I’m inclined to agree with him. ”
“I don’t care what Urtarg wants, I made those creatures. You give them too much independence, they serve us.” Macron replied, “so why the invite?”
Malisane paused, “I know where he is.”
There was no need to ask who, Macron knew of the other Sith’s search. “The Belaris system?”
Malisane skook his head. “No, he left there two months ago. Gave an impressive speech to the officers of that tame moff Severina told me he’d joined. I imagine they swore allegiance to him on the spot he has charisma. Anyway his entire fleet jumped to hyperspace and disappeared, I imagine Pellaeon has too much on his hands with the Vong to do anything.”
“So how do you know where he is now?”
“Jenna, one of my associates, ran a shipping company up to a year ago. She still has contacts. A few of them got requests to supply goods to a system designated K240 recently, one of them reported seeing an Imperial fleet hiding out there, a large one.”
“Where is this K240?”
“It’s an uninhabited system in the outer rim, no planets, one small neutron star and a lot of asteroids. Good place to hide. Wait to see who comes out on top in the Vong war.”
“Have you reported this to the Summit?” Macron asked.
“No,” Malisane replied, “this is a personal matter. He tried to kill me last year, he may try again. I want it over.” He studied the alchemist. “Besides taking a fleet would be a mistake, with the numbers he’s got, to have D:SOG move in there would be disaster. We can slip in and find him. I know how the Remnant works I used to be one of them. ”
“Probably so,” Macron agreed, then grinned “I don’t have much on my plate at the moment, when do we leave?”
“I have my stuff packed, the Deathshead is at Seng Karash but your ship seems suitable. I’ve got a shuttle to take us back to the port.”
Macron nodded. “Excellent.”
As the shuttle winged it’s way through the Aeotheran skies, Macron was deep in thought. “A large fleet,” he wondered to himself. “That’s an interesting situation. I wonder how Malisane intends to slip us by that… good thing the Nachzerer is stealthy.” Images of his fist crushing the life out of Remnant troops flitted across his mental theater, causing the Sith to giggle quietly.
The vessel lurched to a stop on the port hangar duracete as Malisane turned to the alchemist. “I know that giggle, Mac. What’s on your mind?” he asked. “Death? Destruction? Holovid soaps?”
“Oh, the usual,” snickered Mononoke. “I quit watching Days of Our Deaths a while back. Just thinking of killing a few impies viciously, is all. I was also wondering previous to that derailed train of thought how you intended to sneak us in there,” he replied. “I mean, if they have a large fleet, that’s a problem. I don’t have the clearance for any large scale operations anymore,” he mused. “And I’m not exactly the military type, in case you were thinking of a ruse. Doesn’t play well with others comes to mind.”
“I have some ideas,” responded the Prefect. “I still have quite a few connections in the right places. I’m not as anti-social as you are,” he said with a smile. " I can actually be rather charismatic when needed."
Macron frowned. “I bet. Anti-social? I’m disappointed, I thought I was downright misanthropic,” he chuckled. "I'll have to work on it."
“Splitting hairs, my friend. In any case, I’ll reveal my ideas once we lift off and are away from Clan space and prying eyes,” retorted de Ath. He gestured to Senth. “Let’s debark, and load up. I’m all for a vacation from the political crap floating around Brotherhood space these days anyhow.”
“Indeed,” murmured the madman. “Me too. We’ll load up the Nachzerer, and stop by my orbiting lab on the Miner’s Brother for a few supplies first. I'd like to meet this Jenna contact of yours,” smiled the Warlord. "Is she cute?"
"Very. However, she likes her men to be stable in the cranial area," said Malisane by way of dismissal. "Too bad for you."
The two Sith and their shadow Senth strode confidently up to the unusual beetle-shaped vessel, and were stopped by a DSOG trooper stationed by the vessel. “My lords, clearance please,” stated the soldier flatly. Although he knew exactly who the pair were confronting him, he was a polished and competent soldier.
Macron smiled, raising his ID card with the Marshall Commander rank clearly displayed. The security was tight in this area, and he was pleased with the professionalism exhibited by the elite troopers in DSOG.
“Granted. Have a nice trip gentlemen,” smiled the soldier as he saluted crisply.
“Copy that,” said Malisane with a nod as they climbed aboard through the open hatch. Soon, the hum of repulsors reverberated through the vessel as it lifted from the deck. All 3 had taken seats in the control area, and the ship was now underway.
"Say, where’s the Ewok?” asked Malisane.
“Down below, stowing gear and making room,” replied Mac as the ship hurtled through the cloudy atmosphere. "He'll be along shortly."
Approaching System Reg: K240
Malisane sat at a computer terminal, trying to concentrate on the job at hand. He'd done this sort of thing before, and it ought to be easy, but his mind was elsewhere. He was worried. It wasn't an emotion he had experienced for a long time, the Vong, facing Severina, Kangaras, Jaginos, and all the stuff before, all of it he'd gone into eagerly, cautious but he'd taken it in his stride. This was different. He didn't know why.
Last time he'd faced his enemy he was a newly promoted Dark Jedi Knight, now three years later he was a an Equite now, he'd learned a lot, become stronger. Macron had as well, despite the alchemists erratic and sometimes insane behavior the Warlord was a powerful and resourcefull ally. Could they succeed finally?
Severina's words, Jin'gi Moksunas report and Imgormiels testimony indicated maybe the enemy had grown stronger as well. Last time he'd been charismatic but unstable, and over confident and made mistakes. The new picture they'd painted was a more focused and in control opponent, and that made him a lot more dangerous. Could they win, or were they flying to their deaths?
He shook his head, clearing it, and took a sip of over sweetened strong coffee, just the way he liked it. He finished tapping away at the terminal, and checked his work for any error that would give them away. Finally he turned the terminal off, satisfied, as he heard footsteps behind him. He turned to see the relaxed confident figure of Senth. The DAC saluted. "Sir, we are coming up on K240, estimated time to real space thirty minutes."
Malisane nodded, getting to his feet and followed the advanced clone to the cockpit.
Macron was sat idly at the controls, and he looked up as the others joined them. His ewok "apprentice" stood nearby, watching the blurred starlines mutely. Malisane took the co-pilots seat.
"You succeed?" Macron asked.
Malisane nodded. "Our new identities are solid, a trained slicer would take an hour sifting through them without suspecting a thing."
Macron nodded. "Good, Major Var, then you'd better go off and get changed."
Malisane nodded, and went to the hold to find his luggage.
Approaching System Reg: K240
“Will I be staying on the ship, Master?” asked the Ewok in his crude Basic. The black fanged and furry monster had an almost concerned look to his twisted face.
“How many times have I told you not to call me that?” snarled the alchemist. “Dren. Yes of course you will be. I mean, look at you.” A chuckle escaped the madman’s lips as he regarded his charge fondly. “Ugly you may be, but you are well-made my friend. As am I- we share some commonality there. I trust you to keep things in order here. And you will do exactly that, or I will do bad stuff to you. Understand?”
“Yes, my… Macron,” hissed Zuglaq. “I understand.” The sullen Ewok turned his face to the viewscreen, pretending to read the scrolling holo-readouts.
“Good, good,” mumbled the Sith. He regarded the holoscreen. “Major Var… and I am Morlin Yeed, a Corusca gemfisher. This might actually work. I suppose I ought to finish my dye job,” he whispered as he smeared dark dye on his tattooed face.
“You missed a spot sir,” remarked Senth cooly. “Right hand side, near your nose.”
“Thank you,” replied Macron as he smeared the goo about. “That get it?”
“It did,” answered the trooper. Senth, ever the professional, was double-checking his gear as he spoke.
A sound pinged in the control, room. A pleasant female voice resounded in the cockpit from hidden speakers. “Real space reversion in 5 minutes.”
Malisane re-entered the cockpit shortly thereafter. The Sith was wearing the outfit of an Imperial soldier, fresh and crisp with impressive trim.
“Stang nice duds,” chuckled the Warlord with a whistle. “Ladies of various species, watch out!” tittered the madman.
Malisane frowned, but with a gleam in his eye. “That’s Major Var to you, ‘Captain’ Yeed. Hmm, doubt you’ll be able to wear the armor. It's a dead giveaway.”
“I know, I know,” replied Macron with a frown. “That is unfortunate. However, I do have this new saber- and it is almost fully organic. Unscannable as such, as far as I know from my tests. It goes in this walking stick, and reads as a glowlamp.”
System Reg: K240
The Nachzerer entered normal space with the usual jolt, and automatically the warning light flashed as rocks began to hit the vessel. "Asteroids." Macron said, taking the controls.
"You don't say." Malisane replied.
"Only a thin belt we'll be out in a minute, the shields are fine."
"Good. I'll check the long range scanners." He did so, his eyes widening as a list of numbers began to scroll up the screen, corvettes, gunships, Victory Class, Imperial Class, it kept going.. "This isn't good."
"What?" the alchemist replied.
"There's some serious hardware here. He's got quite the battlefleet here."
Macron turned and looked at the scanner, "Wow, glad he didn't decide to bring this to Orian."
Malisane nodded. "He's sitting tight, won't want to make a move until he knows who comes out on top. If the republic wins but is weakened he'll make a move for Coruscant."
"Interesting," Macron mused.
"We're here to put an end to him, his plans don't concern us." Malisane said firmly.
"We're being hailed, its the flagship." Senth said from a seat behind, pointing to a white spearhead in the distance, flanked by several more.
Malisane shrugged. "On screen. Let me do the talking."
"A face of a young Imperial Lieutenant. "This is Lieutenant Maruse of the Imperial Class Eradicator. Identify yourselves."
Malisane sat back in his chair, fixing the officer with a cool look. "This is Major Jagos Var of the D company, 13th reconnaisance brigade, on board the civilian craft Nachzerer."
There was a pause, presumably while his identity was checked. It would hold out. He'd gone through the Belaris sector army order of battle and picked a company that had been sent out prior to the flleet leaving to to a recon of a border world, presumably at the orders of the then Mr Kareves. Malisane had amended a few names here and there.
"Welcome back Major," the Lieutenant replied, "we will send you a docking vector. Do not deviate from this course."
"Sweet," Macron replied. "Will anyone expect to meet us?"
Malisane shook his head. "Did a few days research on this. The company we're claiming to have been in command of had new officers prior to them being sent out, a Major Delos and Captain Guaranst, transfers from another disbanded regiment. that got trawled. These officers no longer exist on the database, and no-one on board the Eradicator would likely know them. We won't be hanging around long anyway."
"Good," Macron replied, as they drifted past other destroyers towards the flagship, "taking us in."
System Reg: K240
Docking with the Eradicator
Macron looked around at the looming vessels as they approached the ISD Eradicator. "That’s a lot of firepower, Malisane. Although, most of these ships look pretty old. I don’t see any of the newer models except…” At that point, three TIE Defenders whipped by in a ‘V’ formation. “Well, some newer stuff anyhow,” mumbled the alchemist.
“Not surprising, really. You have to figure most of the modern dockyards have been grabbed by the Republic or the official Remnant,” remarked Malisane. “They still have a lot of stuff out here though, and it looks fairly undamaged. It appears they haven’t yet tangled with the Vong much.”
“No kidding,” said Mac as he waved his hands through the holo-controls. The yawning mouth of the docking bay loomed before them as they slowly eased in. The craft settled with a hiss of repulsors into the bay. The standard complement of stormtroopers stood at attention outside, some ten in all with what appeared to be a junior docking bay officer.
Macron stood up from the control chair and smoothed his flight suit. “Umm. Well, I suppose it’s Showtime Major,” he smiled.
“Just remember, let me do the talking,” remarked Malisane as he stood. “Senth, you all squared away?”
The clone clad in stormtrooper armor nodded his impassive white helmet. “Yes sir,” he stated calmly. "Locked, cocked, and ready to rock."
“Off we go then,” stated the ‘Major’. The docking bay door opened with a hiss of gas as it slid down to the deck. The stormtroopers looked alert and ready for action as the trio strode down the deck plating. The junior officer, a lieutenant by his rank badge, looked slightly annoyed.
Down the gangway walked a stern-faced man wearing the uniform of an Imperial Major, another scarred dark-skinned man wearing the uniform of a Captain and walking with a cane and a limp, and a stormtrooper carrying a blaster carbine and well-used armor.
‘Major Var?” queried the Lieutenant. “I am Lieutenant Maruse, docking bay officer on duty,” he yawned. “Please follow me this way to your berths. Of course, I’ll have to check your documents first and have a look at your hold. A most unusual vessel…” remarked the officer as he regarded the Nachzerer. “And you are?” he said, turning to the other two.
“This is artillery Captain Yeed and TK-726.” Malisane frowned as he regarded the junior officer and drew himself up. “Just what sort of ship are you running here? We are your superior officers, Lieutenant. We are both veterans as well. I expect the proper respect out of you,” growled Major Var. “Now then, it’s been a long trip and we’d like some chow and a shower,” stated the man impassively as he turned toward the walkway.
System Reg: K240
"Do we know where out quarters are?" Macron asked as they entered a turbolift and the doors shut, "you didn't ask him."
"We're supposed to know ourselves, it would have looked suspicious," Malisane replied, "Besides we're not going to our quarters."
"Why not?" Macron asked.
"Because whatever the computer says about us being active officers if we meet "our" Colonel or someone else who knew the men we're replacing we'll have problems."
"So where are we going?" Macron asked.
"We'll find alternate accomodation."
The lift stopped a level below the area their supposed unit lived in. This floor was also reserved for the Imperial Army stationed aboard and they were confident they'd blend in. Several troopers and junior officers saluted as they walked calmly past, the figure of Senth walking silently behind them. Malisane stopped and read a display on the door. "This ought to do."
Macron nodded. He reached out and pressed the button, and after a few seconds the door slid open to reveal an army lieutenant, whose eyes opened wide at the two senior officers and the stormtrooper outside his room. The Major was staring at him. He snapped a salute. "Sir."
"May we come in?" Malisane asked coldly.
"Of course sir!" The Lieutenant was puzzled, the two officers weren't of his regimiment, but a major and a captain was a major and a captain.
Malisane walked past the saluting officer and looked around the small quarters, with the neat single bed and metal table, several drawers and a clothes rail, and a door leading off to a shower and lavatory. Basic but at least it was en suite.
The Lieutenant faced Malisane politely. "How can I help sir?" Senth was stood quietly by the door as it closed, and Macron was walking calmly across the small room, drifting behind the Lieutenant.
"We need your quarters," Malisane said, and as the junior officer's face creased in puzzlement Macron calmly reached his hands around the other mans head and twisted, before lowering the body onto the floor.
"Neat," Malisane commented. He'd done it himself a few times but admired craftmanship.
Macron shrugged, "No blood." He looked around in distain at the basic facilities. "This place is a hole."
"We're not here for a two week cruise," Malisane replied, "it will suit our purposes. Senth put our host in the shower, if anyone comes in hopefully they won't need to use it." Senth nodded and disposed of the body.
Macron sat down on the bed, swinging his legs up and getting comfy. "So whats the plan?"
Malisane shrugged. "This is as far as I got. From here we improvise."
System Reg: K240
“Fair enough,” remarked Mac as he pulled a vial from his belt pouch. “One sec,” he said with a grunt as he entered the privy area. “Hold your nose.”
“Umm. You got that Deneban stomach bug again?” asked Malisane with a wince. “I had something like that back in my service days. Pretty rough customer.”
“Nah. It’s a deliquescent,” he replied. “It’ll loosen our deceased pal here right up, and he’ll slide down the drain straightaway.” The madman giggled as he closed the door and cut on the sonic shower. “No traces. Keeps him loose and flowing, you know?”
“Disgusting. You always deliver on that account,” stated Major Var as he rolled his eyes. “Senth, anything come out of that autochef yet?
“Nothing you’d want to eat, sir. Not even fit for a clone, as they say,” remarked the trooper as he fiddled with the controls. “The Captain is correct in calling this a hole.”
“Well, good thing I brought these food pills.” Malisane handed out three small brown pills, and each person swallowed them with a gulp from a passed around water flask.
“Ugh. Tastes like cardboard,” grimaced the alchemist. “Gonna have to fight that one to keep it down.” He thumped himself in the gut with a fist as he gagged slightly.
“Speaking of improvisation, you know some intelligence gathering could be of use,” remarked Malisane as he swallowed. “Get a feel for the place and location of the target.”
“Sure. Have anything special in mind?” asked the Warlord as his eyes lit up. “Although I don’t have my usual palette of tools with me, I can still manage a fumbling bit of art as it were.”
“I have no doubt of that, Captain Yeed,” said Malisane. “We collar an officer or intel agent and sweat it out of them. Too bad about our gooey friend in there, but oh well. Senth, you up for a supply run?”
“Yessir,” said the trooper as he stood and grasped his helmet. “TK-726 reporting for duty.”
“Excellent. See if you can move about and get a feel for the place. Usually people don’t pay attention to Stormtroopers, much to their chagrin. Keep an eye out for any intel or databank access ports nearby,” canted the Battlelord. “Captain, let’s you and I take a walk.”
The two disguised Imperials and their Stormtrooper shadow stepped though the now-open door and strode down the hall…
System Reg: K240
The two equites walked down the corridor past Remnant officers and personell, who saluted as the pair passed. "We need to check out the exact situation here," Malisane suggested once they were in an empty corridor, "Jin'gi Moksuna told Severina that he was posing as an aide to less significant moff, I imagine now though he's pushed him aside. Question is, do they know who and what he is now?"
"Do we?" Macron replied.
Malisane stopped and turned to him. "What do you mean?"
The Warlord studied the other Sith. "You're not the only one who's been studying him," he replied, "I've watched the security tapes from Usharak of the Vong attack, and the hours before. We beat Severak twice because he was irrational, and out of control, and made mistakes, and we played on them. Severina told you it was because he'd become obsessed with his rituals, and burned out with frustration as he watched Palpatine and the Empire, then Skywalker and the Republic grow powerful. But the person I saw in those security tapes wasn't like that, he was in control, rational, controlled. We can't go into a confrontation with a misconception of who we face."
"Is single handledly infiltrating Usharak rational?" Malisane countered.
"You tell me," Macron replied, "you did it yourself once against far worse odds as a Knight, not to mention playing chicken with another corvette over Yavin, getting drunk beating up our own docking personell and stealing a shuttle to find Xhedias and crashing it into the hangar doors, going on a trek through the bowels of the Covenant on your own Vong hunting, or sneaking off and infiltrating the True Brotherhood."
"I take your point." Malisane replied. He wasn't used to Macron's thoughtful side.
Macron nodded, "He reminded me of someone actually," he said with a grin, "someone not a million miles away from me now."
"Get out of here!" Malisane snapped back.
"It's true, maybe what happened to him is a lesson for the future, about focusing on where we want to go?"
They turned suddenly as a vid screen burst into life nearby. Several people further up the corridor rushed over to stand next to the two Sith. The face of an imperial officer appeared. "Good afternoon," he said, "all personell gather around for an address from our leader."
Malisane and Macron felt a surge of excitement from the men and women gathered around them.
A second face replaced the first, that of a blonde man in his twenties, cold but relaxed features. A stab of recognition hit both Sith, this was the man from the security video.
"My loyal followers," he began, "four months ago we began a journey together, we left behind our old lives, the Belaris sector, the failing forces of those who have lead the Empire to disaster since the death of the great and wise Emperor Palpatine, who have made peace with and allowed us to be weakened and corrupted by our enemies, the foul Jedi and the so called Republic. We have not left behind our loyalty though. There is not a man or woman aboard this fleet who does not share a vision of the restoration of the Empire over the galaxy. We are no longer known as the Remnant, a term that reeks of defeat. We are the future, we are the Heirs to the Empire."
"Cheeky plagurising..." Macron began before Malisane elbowed him in the ribs. In any case it was drowned out by a cheer from the crew around him, and echoed from nearby corridors as other imperials viewed the transmission.
"The Yuuzhan Vong currently rampage across the galaxy, they are winning, but like the Republic they will become complacent, and vunerable. Maybe they will defeat the Jedi and the Republic, or maybe they will loose. But whichever side triumphs they will be weakened, and unsuspecting of a counter strike. We do not hide in this system, we prepare ourselves to seize the advantage, to hit our enemies when they least expect it."
The figure paused, then smiled, though there wasn't much warmth there. "Recently I have dispatched loyal officers from this system, to seek out contacts and share our vision with them, good solid Imperials who share our previous frustration with the Remnants failures. I will now direct your attention to the view from the cameras outside our ship."
The screen now showed the blackness of space, and the surrounding fleet, then zoomed and focused on an empty space on the outskirts. Malisane and Macron studied it curiously, as the Imperials around them gathered closer. There was a pause for a few second, then the screen flickered and three familiar diamond shapes left hyperspace, heading for the fleet, an Imperial Class and two Victory Class.
As the three ships approached on the screen, the familiar voice continued. "The ISD Supremcy, the VSDs Reknowned and Fearless. Until last week they faced destruction through poor leadership. Now their brave commanders and crew join our cause, to bolster our forces. More will come as our message , indeed our vision spreads."
The sound of cheering burst out again, and this time Malisane began to clap, nudging Macron to join in for the sake of appearance.
The blonde figure returned to the screen. "We will grow stronger every day, as more join us, and you yourself train and learn. We will be ready and I will lead you. I share the great and powerful Emperor's vision of an strong united Empire spanning the galaxy, and I will continue his work, I will not give up until the Empire once more is supreme. I am your leader, I am the one who will raise you up to rule the galaxy. I am Lord Severak!"
The cheering echoing across the corridors, across the ship, across the entire fleet was deafening, and both Sith felt it around them, wave after wave of adoration and hope and triumph, almost strong enough to overwhelm them, as voices began to shout, "Severak, Severak, Severak!"
Malisane pulled Macron quickly away, the crew around not noticing as they continued to cheer at the smiling figure on the screen.
"These aren't Imperials anymore they're fanatics," he said once they were once more alone.
"The Remnant have seen decades of disapointment and frustration since Palpatine died for the last time," Macron replied, "leaders came and went with promises unfulfilled, their territory shrunk, their ideals were sacrificed by men like Pellaeon. Suddenly out of the blue with a crippling defeat by the Vong on the horizon a Sith Lord appears with promises of glory to take Palpatine's place and they're desperate to believe him. Severak's playing them like a a string puppet. Charismatic isn't he?"
"We can trace that signal," Malisane replied, "it will have gone through the main terminal but it will lead to a source. Then we find him. We're not leaving until that man is dead for good."
please delete this
“He’s in this section here,” Malisane said after a few minutes, pointing to a map of the ship.
“How can you tell?” Macron asked.
“For one thing that’s where the transmission came from,” he replied, “and secondly there’s been some modification here. This part of the aft section should be the Flag Officers quarters, which are usually extensive, but they’ve hollowed out several levels above and below and reinforced them to leave one entrance. It’s also got one hell of a powerful force field reinforcing the bulkheads. If I was going to build myself an inner sanctum aboard an Imperial Class that’s how I’d do it.”
“One entrance you say,” Macron repeated, “what about air vents, service ducts and so on.”
“None,” Malisane said, “it’s like a sealed bubble, guess they’ve got generators in there. “
“So how do we get in?” the alchemist asked.
“Good question,” Malisane replied thoughtfully, “short of storming it through the entrance I can’t see how, and that’s certain death even if Severak doesn’t decide to kill us personally they’d be any number of troopers guarding it.”
Macron studied the display for a few moments, and then he placed his finger on the display. “This point here,” he mused, “looks like a service tunnel, and it runs near the exterior of the bubble.”
Malisane followed his glance. “It’s disused,” he replied, “it would have run through the floors they ripped out. I imagine they didn’t think it was worth filling in. They’ve sealed it off at each end. They’d have cut the power, no lights, no atmosphere and no gravity.”
“We can use that,” Macron said quietly, “pierce the bulkheads and forcefield from the nearest point.”
“How?” Malisane asked, “and assuming we do we could be dropping into anything, from a great height maybe.”
“You want to storm the main entrance?” the Warlord asked.
“Then this way. I’ve got some items on the Nachezzer that might suit out purpose,” Macron said confidently, “if you secure us some breathing apparatus and magnetic clamps I’ll meet you at the upper entrance.”
Malisane nodded. “Very well.”
Malisane held the seal against the wall as Macron lasered around it, then carefully lowered it slowly to the floor to avoid making any noise. They slipped on their breathing masks and slowly slipped through the atmospheric shielding that covered the vent, quickly clamping onto the walls as they found themselves in the weightless environment.
“Long climb down,” Malisane muttered.
“Use the force Malisane,” Macron said, his eyes sparkling, and released his clamps, pushing out behind him as he drifted through the tunnel, Malisane following after a few seconds.
After a while Macron stopped and clamped himself onto the vent. “We’re here.”
Malisane clamped himself near the alchemist, “We must be close to the force field,” he said.
Macron nodded. He took out a device and pressed it against the wall, studying the display. “This wall is two feet thick,” he replied, “Then there’s a gap beyond where the field is, then the reinforced bulkhead.”
“So how do we get through?”
Macron didn’t reply but took a cutting device out and slowly burned a hole through the wall, making a gap about metre square. Beyond that they could see the faint glimmer of the forcefield in the empty space. “Now for the tricky bit.” He took out four small devices and clamped them at the corners of the hole, and clicked them on. There was a hum and the field flickered.
“Forcefield jammers?” Malisane asked.
“Projectors,” the alchemist replied, “they’re pushing out against the field, creating a gap for us. Won’t last long though it’s an immense drain on their power.”
“Can’t you use more?”
“I don’t have more,” Macron replied pushing himself into the gap, “now if you don’t mind giving me a minute’s peace. I’d rather not be laid here when the forcefield comes back on.”
Malisane watched as Macron slowly burned through the reinforced bulkhead. It was slow going. “Don’t you have a chemical solution that would do that?”
“The scanners would detect it,” Macron asked, “and I’d rather it didn’t continue eating away at the structure the chamber we’re about to go into would collapse in and trigger the alarms.”
After a few minutes Macron pushed himself beyond the gap through the hole he was burning. “Almost there,” he replied, “squash yourself in the forcefield is about to come back on.”
“Can’t you keep it blocked longer?” Malisane said following him.
“No,” Macron replied, “need to pressurise this gap before I break through fully, otherwise we’ll get blasted out into the tunnel again.” He made a small hole and they heard a hissing, while Macron studied a display monitoring the air pressure.
He looked through the small hole. “Looks like some sort of ante room,” he said, “can see a few boxes. Only about a five foot drop.”
After a few minutes the two Sith dropped through the hole into the room. “Good it’s quiet,” Macron said taking and discarding his mask. “We ought to be able to get back out this way, I’ll plug the forcefield jammers into the main power and recharge them.”
Malisane walked to the door and opened it, “Leads into a corridor.”
“Anyone about?” Macron asked, crouched near a power socket.
“No, can’t sense anyone nearby. Guess he doesn’t like visitors.”
“No guards?” Macron said thoughtfully.
“He probably isn’t expecting anyone to come in this way,” Malisane replied.
“More fool him then,” Macron said getting up with a grin.
They walked along the corridor. Several rooms lead off it, some storage, a couple of bedrooms, a dining room and a meeting room. “Quite the little palace,” Macron observed, as they passed several expensive paintings.
”Judging from what he left hanging in Usharak he has expensive tastes,” Malisane replied, “I sold some of it to buy my share in Dystopian Leisure. If I sold the lot I could buy out the other investors.”
“Nice,” Macron chuckled.
They stopped at a door at the end. “Large chamber beyond here. Someone is inside,” Macron said, searching with the force.
“Severak?” Malisane asked, his hand on his unlit saber.
“Could be,” Macron asked, “he’s good at masking his presence.”
“What’s the plan?” Malisane asked.
Macron grinned. “Go in and kill him.”
They entered the chamber, and looked around in surprise. The room was large, with a high ceiling. Stone pillars that had no place on a star destroyer dotted the room, and the floor underfoot and walls were also stone. Torches hung from the walls lighting the room, and above several chandeliers burned away. Tapestries hung below the torches. Malisane recognised the whole thing as copy of the great hall in Usharak Keep.
“Greetings,” a voice said from across the room. They turned, sabers igniting, to see a figure in black robes sat on a throne at the end.
“Severak,” Macron whispered.
“You think?” Malisane hissed back sarcastically.
“Come closer,” the figure told them.
They drew closer, sabers lit and ready as the figure sat confidently on his throne. “Macron Goura,” the figure said, “and my son. It has been a long time.”
This wasn’t what they expected. They paused, studying the figure, unsure of the next course of action. “Severak,” Malisane said quietly.
The figure reached up and drew back his hood, revealing the cold young blonde features of the man on the screen. Closer now they both recognised the aura of the Sith Lord.
“You knew we were here.” Malisane said.
“I knew as soon as you came onboard,” Severak replied, “I have watched your progress with interest. I have your clone soldier in a holding cell. He chose to tell us nothing. I did not need him to. I knew your every move.”
“Why?” Malisane asked, “why let us draw so close?”
“It suits my purposes,” Severak replied, “I did consider sending troopers to intercept you, or simply sending out a ship wide announcement inviting you here. But I decided to be patient.”
Macron was snarling, “Well that was your mistake,” he said coldly, “we are here to kill you. You were foolish to let us walk in.” He advanced on the Sith Lord, sabers raised. Malisane followed, spreading out to flank the Sith. Macron was an expert saberist, and Malisane was accomplished. They would end this quickly.
Severak frowned, then got to his feet, casting off the heavy robe to reveal a plane black outfit similar to Malisane’s own. He ignited a double bladed saber and stood ready.
Macron attacked, sabers whirling, Severak spun his saber one way then the other blocking both blades, before spinning to block an incoming thrust from Malisane. Severak backed off toward the throne, forcing them to both come at him from the front, and they both battered at his twirling saber. He was faster than they could have imagined. Last time they had met Severak had been old, and slower, and Muz Ashen had dispatched him with ease. Now he was younger and faster, and had obviously spent four years rediscovering the skills he had let slip over his decades of obsessive study and brooding. The two equites pressed their attacks, Macron’s speed being complimented by Malisane’s aggression and strength, and the skilled Sith Lord was forced back, concentrating on blocking, his face unconcerned as he watched their dazzling sabers launch at him and moved his own to match them. Malisane felt a stab of doubt. Was Severak playing with them. A second later Macron caught the Sith Lords blade and laughed in triumph as he sent it spinning away. Severak leapt backwards to avoid Malisane’s next strike.
They advanced after him, not concerned who gave the deadly blow that would kill the Sith Lord, but wanting this to end.
“Wait,” Severak said, studying them, “I let you in here for a purpose.”
“Enough talk Severak,” Malisane told him.
“You cannot plead for your life.” Macron added.
“Plead?” Severak repeated, as if fascinated by the word, “I have never pleaded in my life.”
“Die then,” Macron said drawing both his sabers back to strike.
Malisane’s eyes widened as the alchemist’s body slammed against one of the pillars, the metal of his enhanced armour making a loud clang. A second later the Battlelord gripped his stomach as a burning sensation gripped him and he grit his teeth, involuntarily doubling over in agony, trying to resist Severak’s grip. A second later it stopped as Macron exploded into action again and the Sith Lord’s attention moved to him, raising a hand and blasting the advancing Warlord with lightning sending him falling to the floor, his armour smoking.
Malisane aimed a powerful telekinetic strike at the Elder and Severak snarled as he brushed it away then slammed the Battlelord across the room with a returning blow.
Macron rolled to his feet and raised one of his sabers, catching the lightning that seared towards him again. Severak raised a hand as it arched back towards him and dissipated it harmlessly.
“You have both grown powerful since we last met,” he observed as Macron backed off towards where Malisane was getting to his feet, “I am impressed. But I have regained myself now. All those decades I wasted time with rituals and study, declining, becoming decadent, neglecting my meditation and letting my strength die. I was as you say a fool. Death at the hands of your friend with the beard, and weeks trapped in hyperspace cleared my mind. Allowed me to focus on what was important. I should thank you for that.”
”Thank me?” Malisane spat back, “you came to Kangaras last year to kill me.”
Severak paused. “No,” he replied, “I did not. What I told that Zabrak was what he and the rest of you wanted to believe. I came there to offer you a chance to join me.”
Malisane was taken aback, pausing for a few seconds.
“This is a trick!” Macron shouted raising his sabers as Malisane stood observing the Sith Lord. The alchemist charged the Sith Lord who raised a hand and Macron slowed, his face straining as he moved as if in thick mud under Severak’s grip.
“I do not need tricks,” he told the alchemist, “however as you are unwilling to listen so be it.” He concentrated and Macron fought not to roar out in pain, thrashing as he struggled to free the crushing force that held him. Suddenly he fell silent and his head slumped down. Severak let him topple to the floor.“ He is unharmed. I do not wish to kill him, yet.”
Malisane hadn’t moved during this, a thousand possibilities racing through his mind. Severak studied him. “Any more rash moves Malisane,” he asked, “or are you willing to listen. The next time one of you attacks me I will cut my losses and slay both of you. I think I have sufficiently proved I am more than capable of carrying out that threat?”
Malisane nodded, walking over and helping Macron to his feet. The Warlord looked malevolently at the Sith Lord but made no further moves.
Severak nodded. “So you have decided to be sensible. Good. We will adjourn to somewhere more comfortable.”
They sat in a study, which again bore a remarkable resemblance to his own in Usharak. Severak sat back in a leather chair and studied the two equites. “I spoke the truth when I said I came looking for you Malisane, and you interest me as well Macron Sadow, if that is your title now. Anaxela spoke at great lengths of your talent, grudgingly I gather there is no sibling love there.”
Macron shrugged but did not reply.
“I have plans for this fleet, you would have seen the broadcast I made.” Severak studied them both. “It is a little more complex than that. I told you I have had time to think since the events on Mustafar. I firmly believe that the Jedi will triumph over the Yuuzhan Vong, probably in a few short years.”
“They’re not doing well currently,” Malisane observed.
Severak nodded. “They will do though. History shows their reluctance to use the strength in the force they have aggressively. Eventually they will have no choice. I am sure then they will surprise everyone especially the Vong.”
“And you intend to take advantage of the confusion afterwards?” Macron surmised.
“I intend to take advantage of the fear afterwards,” Severak corrected. He paused for a few seconds. “I am a great admirer of Palpatine, though for decades I plotted his downfall. When he took over the old Galactic Republic he did not do it as a dictator, or a conquering warlord. He did so as a benefactor. He manipulated the fears of the senate who cried out for him to take over and lead them. I have no such grand ambitions initially, but I will partly follow his example. When the war is over the Galactic Alliance fleet will be weak, and many systems though liberated will also be weak, and frightened, other alien races, pirates. Someone with a powerful fleet and experienced soldiers will be accepted as a protector, welcomed and perhaps begged to watch over them. I will form an alliance of independent worlds under my benevolent rule. From there I can build.
“What about the Jedi and the Alliance?” Malisane asked.
“What about them?” Severak asked with a smile, “they will have their own problems, and the leader of a group of free worlds is hardly a threat to them. In time maybe they will offer me a place on their senate.”
Malisane was fascinated. It seemed more than plausible. “Why tell us this?”
“You could be of great use to me,” Severak replied, “both of you. You have demonstrated skills in leadership, strategy, logistics. In return I will offer you knowledge, the ability to prolong your lives indefinitely, rule over fleets and worlds. Power you can not acquire in the Dark Brotherhood.”
“What makes you think that,” Macron demanded.
“I know how it works, Severina infiltrated it. You were Consul of your clan once Macron. You know the truth. Did you dare move without the approval of the Elders, or the Dark Council? Do the Dark Council act without the Grandmaster’s approval, and even he will have his predecessors watching over his shoulder. Who truly has power there? Your entire structure is based on everyone scrabbling for a bigger slice of a frankly insignificant pie. I offer you so much more.”
Malisane avoided Macron’s eye. His mind was racing. Macron asked the next question. “And what do you intend to do about the Dark Brotherhood?”
“Nothing at first. It does not interest me. It sits in the middle of nowhere with its internal squabbles, hiding from the Jedi. It is of no significance. Once I am established I will have it destroyed.”
“How?” Malisane demanded, “you will attack it?”
“Of course not,” Severak replied with a smile, “I will not risk all. I will have others do it. When I am ready, and the Jedi and the Alliance have rearmed I will give them the Dark Brotherhood, locations, estimated military forces, key figures. And they will fall on the Dark Brotherhood in a quick and vicious war. And they will thank me for it when it is over for alerting them to a serious threat. Another significant step in gaining their trust and regard.”
“You take a great risk Severak,” Macron told him, “how do you know we will not return and warn our leaders of your intentions?”
“Because I think you are tempted, and because with the plans to recapture Antei and because they watch each other they will not risk a major engagement with my forces. And because you yourselves would gain nothing except maybe a medal and a pat on the head from your Summit.”
Malisane studied the Sith Lord, his father who he had despised for four years, and who now offered him a potentially glorious future. Could he trust him? Could Severak’s plans work as the elder intended? Was he ever going to gain any sort of prominence in the Dark Brotherhood as things stood currently?
Macron spoke for him. “You expect an answer now?”
“I am patient,” Severak replied, “I have perhaps another year or so here while matters resolve themselves, and my strength grows. You know how to find me. Consider what you truly want.”
Macron nodded. “Very well.”
Malisane thought for a minute. “What of the True Brotherhood? Do you intend to re-establish it?”
“No. It was Severina’s dream to create a perfect Sith order. She failed. It would never have matched the strength of the Dark Brotherhood, and certainly not the Jedi. I gather you destroyed it and Anaxela. With Severina dead and gone it will not return.”
“She is not dead.” Malisane told him.
For the first time since they met there was a crack in Severak’s confidence. Both equites felt a powerful surge of emotion. “What did you say?”
“She is not dead. Her spirit aided Anaxela in the invasion of Orian. In return for her betraying the force witch and a promise not to return I had a new body cloned from DNA samples we took from her corpse. We do not know of her whereabouts but she is alive.”
Severak did not speak, and they could sense further surges of conflicting emotions from the Sith Lord as he absorbed this information. “I see,” he said finally, his voice hoarse. “You may leave now. I will have your clone trooper released and escorted to your ship. If you require any assistance from the mechanics before you depart you will receive it. Consider my offer.”
The two equites glanced at each other, then slowly got to their feet. “Very well,” Malisane said. They left Severak brooding and headed through the hall and past the troopers heading for their ship, like the Sith Lord they had much to consider.