[VOICE] Choose Your Own Adventure - Tra'an, Kal, Locke

Vodo

16-07-2011 13:58:00

PRIORITY MESSAGE:
Sent: 344.53.21-032
Received: 344.53.22-461
By: Shadow Academy Actual
SUBJECT: URGENT


Brethren,

Its come to my attention that the aforementioned agents are now enroute to retrieve the Holocron of Darth Ruin. Eos is slightly closer to us which will allow us, given the proper motivation, to beat them to the planet and retrieve it before they do. You will use all available to means to obtain, transport, and place in my hands this artifact. Failure to do so warrants death. Prevent the artifact from falling into enemy hands at all costs.

~His Excellency
Taigakori Aybara Dupar
Headmaster of the Shadow Academy

Kal

22-07-2011 01:08:38

Outer Rim Territories, Cadavine Sector
Eos System - Planet Eos
3-Z Light Freighter Mudcrutch
35 ABY


The cool depths of space somehow seemed even emptier and more desolate to Locke as the freighter came out of hyperspace, a tunnel of blue and violet energy reverting back to blackness and cold in an instant. The sight was nowhere near as crushing as that of the planet itself; Eos was as a ball of flame and death, akin to Sullust or Mustafar in its volcanic nature. It seemed to emanate a reddish haze, tainting the void around it and sending a tremor up the spine of any vertebrate with a soul. With a soul, Locke thought, looking to the freighter's pilot. The man had a face that spoke of inner amusement, of a sense of humor. He shrugged the brown cloak he wore around himself. Such a waste. Perhaps he could help us.

"There it is." The smuggler said. Adar; that was his name. His Wroonian skin was a deep blue, presumably from sun exposure. "Eos. Though I still don't understand why a Jedi would want to go there." Looking over to Locke, who passably imitated a Jedi Knight, he laid back in his chair. "Something big down there?"

"Sith artifacts." Locke replied. At least that much was true. "The Order's very particular about them; they can be very deadly in the wrong hands."

"Huh. Well, good luck with that." Turning his chair around, Adar looked over his vehicle's equipment and scanners. "I don't see any proper landing pads down there. Anywhere you want me to set you down, Master..." He waited for a reply.

"Sonjie. And I'm only a Knight." Sighing, Locke decided against the original plan. It's just a few credits. "Here." Handing the man a cred-chip with a large denomination, Locke pointed to the scanner. "You can set me down here, at-"

The sound of a blaster broke the silence as surely as the bolt that smashed into Adar's head from behind; bits of charred skull, face, hair, and gray matter blasted forth across the viewport as the smuggler's body thudded against the control panel. Locke's senses were stunned for the moment as the stink of burnt flesh joined the ring in his ears; he regained his senses just in time to engage the autopilot on the craft. Looking back, he felt anger well up within him, his hand clenching into a fist. Kal di Plagia Vorrac stood in the entryway, freed from the storage container he'd been taken aboard in, smoking pistol still in his hand, eyes as cold as the vacuum around them.

"What the kriff was that?" Locke said to him, fury causing him to shake slightly. "We could have used him!"

"Hardly." The Sith replied, holstering his weapon. Walking further into the room, he gestured at the sapphire-skinned corpse, not even looking at Adar as the Force pushed his limp body out of its seat. "I thought you said you were a pilot."

Tra'an Reith bounded into the room just after Kal's attack. He showed no sign of discomfort from his own crate, his lightsaber active in his hand as he glanced around the room. His gaze lingered on Kal for only a moment before he deactivated his weapon; he'd seen the Battlelord in a combat situation before, and it was nothing like this. It was like looking at a different person. "Did you have to make such a mess?"

"I had the shot. I took it. Basic tactics." Vorrac replied, inspecting the read-outs and glowing lights across the cockpit. "Apologies, Quaestor. Next time I'll use my lightsaber."

"See that you do," The Shi'ido replied before gesturing toward Locke. "Grab the controls, get us into the atmosphere. We need to ascertain whether or not anyone else is here, or if the object is even on the planet."

"It's here." Kal replied without looking. Locke eyed him uneasily.

Looking around the cockpit, Kal's instincts and training took over. He took in the ship's similarities to the famous YT line of CEC, the subtle differences and cheaper equipment in places. He spotted the welds and replacement parts here and there, signs that the old bird had needed repairs over the years; in the back of his mind, he made a mental note to keep an eye on such areas. Ventilation panels gave access to the life support systems and other parts of the ship. He noted that their bolts had the marks that showed frequent removal; there were probably illicit goods there at that very moment. Finished assessing the room, he took in the two Dark Jedi with him, his green eyes and cold, calculating stare sizing them up.

Sonjie in particular drew his attention; he seemed calm and tactical in the pilot's chair, though he still showed hints of anger. A light probe with the Force told Vorrac that it was devoid of fear - a mark of his years as a soldier, if the records the Sith had looked over were accurate. The young man's shaggy brown hair matched his eyes, while the clean-shaven face showed that his unkempt hair was a sign of preference rather than laziness. Tall, thin, and wiry-looking, he struck the Sith as the type who relied on speed, though he was definitely in physical balance. That said, he had the simple manner of a maintenance worker, or a farmer; his reaction regarding the death of the smuggler in addition to his lack of expectation toward the attack gave Kal a picture of average intelligence and an above-average moral compass. It made his prior garb all the more amusing; this one, with training, would have made a fine Jedi. He would be simple to manipulate.

"I know that look." Tra'an said, taking in Vorrac. Outwardly, Kal gave no sign of being perturbed; inwardly, he felt perplexed at the shapeshifter's familiarity with him. Reith's hushed tone wouldn't have carried more than a few feet, even without the cockpit's poor acoustics. "What's going on in that skull, Kal?"

"I'm thinking of the mission, Quaestor." Kal replied, absent-mindedly touching the whip at his belt. He'd replaced the leather one with a better weapon, made of a strong, elastic material and coated in sharp plates of durasteel. "This holocron of Headmaster Aybara's could greatly increase the power of the Ascendant House. Think of what the secrets within can do for us." The line sounded so cliche to Kal that it almost made him cringe, but the line was baited.

"What it can and will do is improve Plagueian standing with the Dark Council." Tra'an took the bait as if he'd liked the flavor; he fully expected Kal to put power before sense. "If the Headmaster learns these secrets and we gain his favor, he'll undoubtedly lend us a hand." The Shi'ido looked at the molten rock before them as they descended. "Plagueis can and will only thrive by working with the Dark Council, not against it."

"Of course. My apologies." Kal replied, smirking inwardly. You think on too small of a scale, Quaestor.

Eos went from a celestial ball of fire and rock to a fair depiction of certain hells as the shuttle began re-entry. Flames burned across the freighter's surface, yet against the planet's natural presence, one could easily lose notice of them. Blackened mountain ranges, stretches of cracked terrain strewn with ash and soot, and dark clouds of smog seemed all that composed the world; the black was broken only by a red haze, the rippling heat of the air, and curling lakes and rivers of glowing-hot lava. Here and there, ancient and decrepit foundries of the Trade Federation stood, ruins in various states of collapse and meltdown after their abandonment decades before. They made Kal's skin crawl; droids always infuriated him, especially the useless models used by the Neimoidians of the Federation. Within seconds, the faint spot he'd felt upon meditation became a surging black point, one that Tra'an and Locke both visibly felt. The Knight looked at the Plagueians as it hit him, confusion on his face.

"It's here. Fly toward that disturbance." Reith said, placing a hand on the pilot's chair that Locke occupied. "We'll soon have our prize."

And it will be mine. Kal thought, giving no outward appearance of his true loyalty. The three had arrived to search Eos for the holocron of Darth Ruin; he had founded an incarnation of the Sith, and had been a Jedi Master prior to his fall. There could be no doubt of his power. One way or another, Vorrac planned to get his hands on the holocron; as a younger man, it might have perturbed him at how calm he felt thinking about it. His emotions showed no hint of fear, not even a lie; he'd been careful not to outright decieve Reith. He needed the man's trust and cooperation; whatever happened afterward would be dealt with when the time came. As the shuttle came to a landing, he nodded almost impercebtibly to himself, certain of his goals.

Taigikori desired the holocron, but Lord Ashen would make a much better tutor for the pale-skinned human. Not to mention the potential offered by the Gatekeeper of Lord Ruin himself.

Traan Reith

02-08-2011 00:33:46

With a deft touch, Locke piloted the craft carefully around the pillars of molten lava that would spout randomly into the air. It was as if a beacon had been activated just for them, its pulsing darkness a clarion call to all the power within. The closer they got, the faster and stronger the resonance, almost as if it was meant to be uniquely for them. Tra'an watched the human beside him warily, the pupils dilating as he let the power wash over him, its promise already twisting his mind and purpose. "I was afraid of this when I let him vanish into the Outer Rim so many months ago and he came back. The darkness owns him now, it's not the other way around anymore." The thought vanished almost as quickly as it had formed behind the stoic faÁade, Tra'an's grip on the seat inhabited by Locke being the only reason that he was still standing after the repulsors gave out.

Locke hit a few buttons and did the dance of pilot calm even as others would have panicked and got them to kick back in just above the molten surface. He carefully slid the ship over the lip of the ocean of sulfurous death and slid inside the only solid structure visible for miles, a towering wall of obsidian. The tramp freighter came to rest just above the hyper-reflective floor before the repulsors cut out again, dropping the ship onto its support legs. They groaned and the three held still for a moment, before the ship stabilized and remained upright without damage. "It seems, that we have arrived at our destination." Kal shook himself off, hopping back to his feet with surprising ease given his prosthetics and stalked off towards the door. With a shared look of concern, the other two followed quickly.

Locke was quiet as they emerged into a hangar cavern that was immense, and was now sealed, he noted. While the two Plagueians argued over which way to go, the pilot studied the now closed door, also of obsidian, and put two plus two to make five. "It seems," he said softly, "that we have entered into a trap. I sure hope one of you has a backup plan, for I suspect we'll not be leaving this way." The chamber bounced his voice around, distorting it from its usual mid-range to something darker.

They raised eyebrows and nodded, even as an interior corridor opened and a recorded voice played out over the speakers. "Welcome seekers, to the Temple of Ruin, Enter and be tested, for there is no escape." A snort from Kal at voice, was matched only by a look of concern between the Obelisks. This was unexpected, and dangerous. A trap such as this could only end badly, when one of their members was not playing for the same team.

"Let's begin then. He wants to see who's best suited to claim the Holocron. The only thing we can do is be on top of the game to prevent being split up." They each nodded and moved towards the entryway, leaving behind the ship that had gotten them there, and wondering if they would ever see it again.

Locke

03-08-2011 23:30:40

Locke slowed his steps, allowing the other two Dark Jedi to move ahead of him. He didnít trust either one, and wasn't about to let himself be the next guy to get a blaster bolt to the back of the head. He knew he was in the minority here. He got a feeling the two had known each other for a long time. Furthermore, Locke could tell both were much stronger than he was. Beyond that, he didn't know much about either one. That made them dangerous allies, and even more dangerous enemies, if it came to that.

When Locke had asked Taigikori why he had been chosen for this mission, the Headmaster had told Locke he needed someone there he could trust. Locke would never back down from an order, or try to get out of it, but somewhere in the back of his head, he wished Taigikori had chosen someone stronger. Maybe no one else had been available. Regardless, Locke would complete the mission and return the holocron to the Headmaster. If the others had dreams of keeping it for themselves, he would have to find a way to stop them. He knew he wasn't all that clever, but perhaps he could use this temple to his advantage. Locke really hoped it didn't come to that, though. He felt he would need the others just to escape, if his suspicions about this place were correct.

From the cavern the ship had been sealed in, they headed into a narrow corridor. The glassy, obsidian walls seemed to permeate with a dim light that came from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Locke assumed it must have been some trick of the Force. He shivered, wondering what technique had allowed that light to exist here for so many years. He didnít feel any better when he began to hear the distant sound of maniacal laughter. If someone was going to record themselves, why would they record their own laughter like that? It had to be a trick of Locke's mind. He half-heartedly wished the others would talk to break the silence, but like him, they were watching and listening for anything that might try to keep them away from the holocron.

After cautiously moving forward for several minutes, the corridor opened into a massive chamber. It seemed to be rectangular, but Locke found it difficult to tell its true size. As the trio of Dark Jedi slowly moved forward, they were flanked by statues to either side. Each one portrayed what looked like a Jedi or Sith. They wore robes, and Locke could swear he saw lightsabers on most of them. They were very life-like, to the point Locke would have thought the lightsabers real if they had broken off, but he sensed nothing from them in the Force. They stood stoically, staring straight ahead. Even so, Locke felt the hair on his neck stand on end. It felt like they were staring. It was difficult to remain calm, but the others didn't seem to be having a problem, so Locke didn't say anything.

Once they had passed a fair distance into the room, the others stopped. "Do you feel that?" Locke heard Tra'an say.

Kal nodded. "Be ready."

Locke dropped a hand to touch the hilt at his belt. Just as he did, the light disappeared, rushing out of the room as if out an airlock. It was pitch black. Among the ebb and flow of the dark side, Locke could still feel the presence of the other two. They weren't moving. The laughter was louder now. He was sure it was real.

"He's trying to break our spirit, " Kal sneered, "what a fool. He didnít anticipate ones such as usÖ" Kal trailed off as a snap-hiss sound echoed through the room, seemingly coming from every direction at once. In the darkness, Locke could see lightsaber blades of every color where the statues would be, trailing back behind and in front of the Dark Jedi.

Locke breathed. This wasn't so bad. Ruin was just trying to break their spirit.

Then they moved.

All at once, with the sound of stone grating against stone, the lightsabers moved into fighting stances and the once straight rows devolved into a circle enclosing the three Dark Jedi. Locke began to count them, but stopped around ten, noting there was probably twice that many. He heard the distinctive sound again, as the other two Dark Jedi ignited their weapons as one. Locke unclipped his and held it up, the pale yellow blade illuminating vertically in front of his face. He found he had his back to the others and realized that meant he'd be fighting many of the statues alone.

"They can't be that strong, " Locke said, trying to keep his voice steady. Behind him he heard the sound of a lightsaber strike and stone collapsing.

"They aren't." That was Kal. "They crumble as soon as touched, and don't defend well. Keep your wits about you and you'll survive."

As he finished the last word, the statues rushed out of the darkness. Locke assumed they wanted a quick end to the fight, but he wasn't about to give it to them. With smooth motions, he moved from a block to a glancing slice. Momentary surprise crossed his mind as his blade barely touched one stone statue and it crumbled, its lightsaber snapping off and falling upon the rubble of its owner. Knowing he wouldn't have to strike hard at all, Locke focused most of his energy on defense, occasionally pivoting his blade slightly to singe one of the statues.

Even so, it wasn't an easy fight. Sweat beaded on Locke's forehead as he was pushed back. For every one he killed, it seemed the statues were more aggressive. He was able to kill more of them, but all it took was a lucky strike and he'd be dead. He found himself panting, almost to the brink of his ability.

Suddenly, Locke cut one down, then another, and found himself standing among silent piles of rubble. He kept his lightsaber up, held in a guard for anything else that might leap out of the darkness, but nothing came. The others didnít seem nearly as worn out as Locke was. Kal looked at him, and Locke met his eyes for one long moment.

"We should keep moving, " was all Kal said, and Locke nodded. As the other Dark Jedi turned and led the way deeper into the temple, Locke shuddered. He could almost hear Kal wondering in his head if now would've been a good time to eliminate Locke. He wondered why Kal hadn't tried it. Maybe he wanted Locke around in case anything else showed up. That had to be it. Kal was strong, but not invincible.

Locke found himself bringing up the rear again. He thought about Tra'an. He hadn't said much at all since entering the Temple. That was strange. Locke wondered what he could be planning. Either way, when the time came, Locke would ensure the holocron returned to Taigikori, with or without the others.