Nighthunter, Cello, Xantros
If things had only gone right from the start. First the shoulder-fired missile had forced them down on less-than-friendly terms. Then they’d picked the survivors, and there weren’t many, from the wreckage. Lastly, night fell. That’s when it got bad. Had they not been heavily armed and equipped, chances were they likely would have lost a few more. Luck, or the Force, had it that they’d been assembled for one purpose.
The Brotherhood was not the only rival of the reestablished Jedi Order. Among those that dealt in Force Cults, Dark Side religions, or in cultural uses of the Force, the Brotherhood was known well. Envy of the Brotherhood’s martial might, organization, territorial situation, and numbers were common among anyone who would have otherwise been their allies. For this reason, the Grand Master found it useful at times to flex his muscle, to demonstrate to his would-be competitors that there was good reason the Brotherhood was top dog.
From his lips, to the hands of the VOICE, directives were given to small strike teams. Infiltrate the Almas System, cause enough of a stir among the Believers Cult to show them the reach of the Brotherhood’s saber, and return home.
Xantros smiled, when he learnt what was the goal of their mission and who was their enemy. He was almost sure that he had already encoutered the names of both the group and the planet. If he was correct, it was going to be a tough and dangerous mission. Thus, it was going to be a difficult test of the abilities of him and two of his comrades, Jedi Hunter Cello and Guardian Shadow Nighthunter. However, if they managed to be successful at achieving of their goals, they would gain much from the mission.
First of all, they would be noticed by the members of the Dark Council. An éclat success during the mission might open the gate towards the higher ranks. Xantros had a strong desire to join the group of Equites, as he would gain the rank that he had earned in the Emperor's Hammer Dark Brotherhood, before the organisation collapsed to the point that it was disbanded. Also, the higher rank would provide him access to more concealed secrets of the Order of Krath and to new powers. It would definitely be helpful in the time, when he would finally set off to carry out his personal studies.
In addition to that, a fight against another followers of the Dark Side was definitely a challenge. In Xantros' eyes, it was great opportunity to learn new things, to develop his understanding of the Force and to become more aware of his strenghts and weaknesses. It was also a test of his abilties to deal with other Force users. Who would turn out to be successful? What could he do to assure himself and his Dark Brethren to be victorious? The Dark Jedi Knight was already preparing various plans and analysing them, as he was willing to find the best one.
Fortunately, both Cello and Shadow Nighthunter were present in the headquarter of House Scholae Palatinae, which was located on Judecca in the Cocytus star system. Xantros reached both of them through the Force. "Get prepared and meet me aboard the Buccaneer in an hour. No late arrivals accepted."
On behalf of GRD Shadow Nighthunter, who experiences technical issues with posting.
Shadow had already been packing up her armory lightsaber and her dagger when she felt Xantros reach out to her through the Force.
"Get prepared and meet me aboard the Buccaneer in an hour. No late arrivals accepted."
For the preparing part, she was already ahead of schedule. Instinct had told her that she needed to pack up her things, and now she was about to be done. She didn't know what was exactly going on, for she had only volunteered to join Xantros on some mission that she was informed little about. Why she had volunteered, she didn't know except that she had felt an impulse within her telling her to take part on this mission.
"Well, whatever I got myself into, I hope it's really important."
With her pack in hand and making sure she was ready, Shadow opened the door to her room and headed towards the Buccaneer. While jogging at a slow pace, she thought about the information that had been given to her by Xantros. Jedi Hunter Cello would accompany Xantros and her on this mission and that they were to invade some cult of some kind's base. That's all Xantros had told her, but she knew that he would give her the full details on the mission later.
As she rounded a corner, she bumped right into her master Rayne.
"Whoa! Where are you going, Shadow...is it time for you and the others to go?" asked her Rayne.
"Yes, it is. I wish you were accompanying us, but I guess I won't have the pleasure of your presence."
Shadow had told Rayne earlier that she had volunteered for this mission, and her master had been pleased to hear that she was accompanying Xantros and Cello on a mission. She saw it as a test for Shadow, since this would be one mission that her master wouldn't assist her with.
"Yeah, I know. Well, good luck. May the Force be with you, Shadow. Return in one piece so that I can continue to trouble you with assignments."
Shadow laughed as she began running, heading towards her destination. As much as she would have liked to stay and chat more with Rayne, she knew she had to get to the Buccaneer before Xantros started to lose his patience. Besides, she would come back after the mission was over. That is, if she didn't die.
Xantros started to get annoyed with the need of waiting for Cello and Shadow. His fellow comrades were yet preparing themselves for the mission. Certainly, it was an extremely important thing to be well-prepared and Xantros was well-aware of that. However, he had the feeling that they would never set off for the mission to Almas and he wished to already be there, carrying their orders out.
Still, the Dark Jedi Knight Knight did not underestimate the risk. The intel data provided by the Voice suggested that it was going to be a very dangerous mission. The Believers were a Dark Side sect, which operated in Cularin system. The task of Xantros and his comrades was to strike the sect at the very heart of the organisation and to cause enough disarray and destruction. They had to prove that the Dark Jedi Brotherhood was the most powerful group of the Dark Side followers.
"Things may get nasty," thought Xantros.
Finally, Shadow made it to the Buccaneer. She was followed by Cello, who arrived couple of minutes later. The Dark Jedi Knight handed two datapads to both of his companions, saying: "You will find all available details here. Goal of our mission and intel information, provided by the agents of Vodo Biask Taldrya. I have added every scrap of information, I could have found on the Believers and their headquarters."
Xantros observed the two of younger Dark Jedi, as they were reading the data. They were still not fully trained in the arts of the Dark Side. None of them had a full power lightsaber. "They may make the mission even more dangerous than it seems to be now," thought Xantros. "But...we will have to deal with the Believers using all available resources...no matter of their utility."
Couple of minutes later, Shadow Nighthunter and Cello finished reading the information. Xantros smiled and asked, "Shall we set off now?"
"I'm ready," answered Cello.
"Me too," said Shadow.
"Glad to hear that," replied Xantros. "In a meanwhile, when I will be busy with starting procedure and entering the hyperspace, you may think of some ideas how to cause some mess in the headquarters of the Believers."
Finally, they were setting off for the mission to Almas. Xantros could not wait to prove his abilities in the service of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. A successful mission for the Dark Council was what the Dark Jedi Knight needed to realize his own goals...
As the computer generated the coordinates for the jump to Hyperspace, Cello sat cross-legged in his assigned chamber to begin a short meditation. He had learned well from his Master, Robin Hawk, the value of preparation before any mission, and had learned hard lessons about the value of mental preparation as well as physical. "Bring yourself, as well as your equipment," she would say to him in various ways to remind him.
He heard the computer beep the coordinates for the jump to Almas. Hearing this was not mutually exclusive from concentrating on his meditation. Skilled at meditation, he could focus on his presence in the Living Force, his presence in the Universal Force, and yet still process what was going on around him. It took long training sessions with his Master, but it had been well worth it on previous missions.
As Xantros effortlessly executed the jump, Cello focused his energies on the future. A key difference, Darth Plagueis had once said, between the Jedi and the Sith was that that Jedi allowed the Force to dictate to them, whereas the Sith controlled the Force to a degree that allowed them to become 'closer' to its will. As such, the future was clearer to him than to any Jedi.
He saw Almas clearly in his mind. He was alone, saber drawn, ignited, out in the open. A group of Believers were approaching him. He sensed that they felt victorious. That they were about to slowly kill him. And yet he was supremely confident and unafraid. For he knew there was an elaborate ruse at play on the Believers, and that Xantros, author of the vast majority of the plan, and Shadow, unsurprisingly skilled, were waiting to spring what for the Believers would teach them their last lesson....
Believe that the Brotherhood's reach was greater than you imagined.
Standing against the wall of her assigned chamber, Shadow was in deep thought. Running through her mind was everything she had learned about the operation and all the things that she was to do when the time came. She was also thinking about her two partners. She didn't really know the two well. Xantros she knew only as her battleteam leader of Caliburnus. Cello she had no clue about for she had rarely even seen him before.
This was a problem for she didn't know how they got things done and how she could even work with them on this mission. She also didn't know if she could trust them. She knew them to be loyal to their House and to their fellow Palatineans, but she couldn't help but wonder about what they thought about her. She was the lowest rank of the two, with Cello a Jedi Hunter and Xantros a Dark Jedi Knight. She feared that if she made any mistake during this mission, the two could take arms against her and kill her. However, the more she thought about this the more stupid the thought became.
"I have nothing to worry about with Xantros and Cello," she said to herself. "I still should be on my guard, but I need to trust them as well. Especially if I want to get off Almas alive."
The hyperdrive that she had heard start earlier came to a stop. Shadow began walking to where Xantros was thought to be to make sure everything was in order when she felt the ship lurch forward and start to descend on the planet at a rapid pace. She quickened her pace and when she finally reached Xantros, she saw that Cello was already there.
"Nice of you to join us, Shadow Nighthunter," Xantros said. "It won't be long before we land on the surface. Are you ready?"
"I'm ready," Shadow replied.
As they entered the atmosphere, Shadow began to sense that something was wrong. Her senses were proven right when she heard a loud bang and the ship began to fall from the sky of Almas.
It was something that Xantros did not really expect to happen. When he was getting the Buccaneer ready to land, the ship was hit by a missile. Explosion heavily damaged the ship and Xantros lost his control over the Buccaneer. He was fighting with rudders, but his efforts did not bring any result. "Hang on! It is going to be a crash landing!" he screamed as he saw the ground getting closer faster and faster. Couple of second later, the ship crashed on the fairly leveled terrain. All of the passengers lost their conciousness.
In a meanwhile, a group of masked people approached the ship. They carefully searched it. Finally, one of them shouted, "Here they are! Three of them! Alive!"
Others joined the man and recovered unconcious Dark Jedi. The leader of the group, a tall human, looked at them for a moment and said, "Take them to the cells and make sure that they regain conciousness. I want to interrogate them. Secure the ship and repair it. It shall serve as a good addition to our small fleet." Couple of minutes later, the three Dark Jedi were transported on hoovercrafts to the secret base of the group.
Few hours later, Xantros woke up. He felt pain in whole body, as he still suffered the consequences of the crash. However, it seemed that he was either healed by someone or not as heavily wounded as he expected to be. Aware of the danger, he slowly opened his eyes and looked around, trying not to move. He realized that he was kept in a prison cell. He was alone and it seemed that both Cello and Shadow, if still alive, were separated, so that they could not communicate with each other.
The Dark Jedi Knight sighed and thought, 'It is not as bad as I thought. We did make it to the headquarters of the Believers, even though we did it in an unexpected way. They will definitely pay for it...later. They are surely going to interrogate me, so I would better prepare myself as much as it is possible."
Xantros did not know how time would he have. Thus, he immediately used the Force to control pain and to heal all remaining wounds.
Shadow didn't know how long she had been unconcious, but when she had opened her eyes and the rest of her mind woke up, she could only guess that she had been out for a few hours. The impact of the ship hitting the ground had knocked her out in an instant, but the way the ship had crashed and the angle it had crashed from wasn't enough to kill her. Yet, she wondered about the others. 'Did they make it, or didn't they?'
She looked around and took in her surroundings. All she could derive from what she observed was that she was in a prison cell and that she was alone. She could only hope that the others made it. In fact she was convinced that they did. Instinct told her so, and her instinct along with the Force was what had kept her alive over the years. One thing she wasn't sure about was if Xantros and Cello were being held together or not, but common sense seemed to tell her that they were separated as well. Their captors wouldn't want them together, otherwise that would give them the chance to workout a plan of escape. However, escape was the last thing on her mind.
Shadow had been so involved with her thoughts that she hadn't considered her wounds until the thought of doing so actually struck her. She was amazed to find herself feeling little pain and that her wounds weren't severe like she thought they would be. It became obvious that someone had healed her and the only reason they even do that was to keep her alive for questioning.
Shadow let out a soft chuckle. 'Well, that's one mistake they'll regret. Just got to stick to the plan and let everything fall into place. Meanwhile, I'm just going to look like some weak, innocent apprentice who does everything her master tells her to without question.'
Which was true, except she wasn't really weak and innocent. She was like a wolf, always watching and waiting for the right time to strike. Patience was the key and she had plenty of it when stalking her prey. When the time came, it would be no different. Now, all she had to do was wait for the prey to make the next move. She new that the others were doing the same.
Three hours later, Xantros woke up from the meditation trance. It was enough for him to recover enough energy not to feel tired. Soon after, he felt that someone Force sensitive was moving towards his cell. ‘Perfect timing,’ thought Xantros and he was not mistaken. The door of his cell opened and tall human entered the room.
“I am glad to see that you have already got awaken. I am here to interrogate you.” said the man.
“I supposed so.” replied Xantros with a nasty grin.
“You’d better watch out. If you do not co-operate, you will suffer severe consequences.”
“I got used to that. My former…masters…had similar policy, when someone did not fit their expectations.”
“Yes, you must have sensed that I am Force sensitive and that I have been taught by someone else.”
“Indeed. Who are you?”
Xantros restrained himself from showing any other emotions, but anger and contempt. He had to be creditable, if he wished to save his Dark Brethren and to accomplish the mission, which they had been given by the Voice.
“I am Dark Jedi Knight Xantros…or rather used to be the Dark Jedi Knight. I am former member of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.”
“Former? What have made you leave such a powerful organisation?”
“When I have accomplished my training and reached the rank of the Dark Jedi Knight, I hoped to be granted more secrets of the Dark Side. I have served the Dark Jedi Brotherhood with deep loyalty, sure that if I prove myself worthy, I would rise among other members of the Brotherhood and become more powerful. However, I have been refused the right to expand my power, which I believe to be due to me. I have learnt that the leaders of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood are afraid that people like me may turn against them, one day. They are weak…pathetic…Finally, I have decided to leave them alone, before they bring me to my own fall.”
“You have betrayed them…They will be willing to punish you…”
“They are too busy with internal conflicts and external enemies. The Dark Jedi Brotherhood may seem to be a solid structure from the outside, but when you are inside, you can see that they are slowly falling apart. I was not an important member of the Brotherhood…just one of many Dark Jedi Knights. They will not bother to look for me, as they have much more important matters to deal with.”
“I see. Who are those two other survivors?”
“They are my students. I have managed to convince them to follow me and to leave the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. We are all willing to join you.”
“Why have you decided to join us?”
Xantros could sense that the man became suspicious about the Dark Jedi Knight and his motives. The Duro was not surprised, as he would be suspicious, as well. Now, it was the most uncertain moment of whole mission. One wrong word, gesture or grimace could shatter the plans of the Dark Jedi Knight and his comrades.
“We wish to become stronger…to grow in power. We have been refused that in the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, so we have decided to seek for another group of the followers of the Dark Side that might help us achieve are goal. We know that the leaders of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood are afraid of you. We thought that it is so, because you are more powerful than them.”
“I see. But…tell me…what we shall gain, if we accept you into our ranks?”
It was the question that Xantros was waiting for. Now, his answer could decide if they were going to be able to continue their mission.
“First of all, we offer you the powers, knowledge and other abilities and skills, which we have gained so far. We are not the most powerful of the Dark Jedi, but we still pose significant threat to weaker Force users and to the beings, which are not Force-sensitive. There are never too many of skilled and experienced Dark Jedi in your ranks, are there?”
The man smiled and nodded. It seemed that Xantros was correct.
“If the Believers are to become the most important group of the Dark Jedi, you need more members and allies. Our help shall be extremely valuable in this matter, as I possess numerous contacts on various worlds and in various groups. They will gladly help me, supporting our cause in this way. Recruits, supplies, other…services…Whatever you need. What is more, we posses certain knowledge about the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. We may help you strike it down, when the proper time comes.”
“You have much to offer…I shall speak to your comrades and then, I shall decide what to do with you.” said the man and left the cell with these words.
Xantros was certain that both Shadow Nighthunter and Cello were going to tell him the same story. The only risk was that they would not be convincing enough to make the man believe that it was truth. The only thing that Xantros could do was to wait patiently, as he had done many times before. Patience was one of his most distinguishing characteristics.
Several hours later, two guards ordered the Dark Jedi Knight to leave the cell. They led them through the corridors. Finally, they entered a large chamber. Xantros looked around and realized that it was a kind of arena. It was probably built for training purposes, but it could serve as a place of real fights. Couple of minutes later, Shadow Nighthunter and Cello were brought into the chamber, as well. Then, the man, which interrogated Xantros and his comrades, appeared.
“You will undergo a trial, which shall prove, if you are worth joining us. Each of you shall be armed with a stun button and you will fight other members of the Believers group. If you defeat all them, you will be allowed to join us. If you fail, you will be killed, as may either join us or die.”
In a meanwhile, another human gave them three stun buttons. The three members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood activated them and checked if they were working properly. A minute later, a group of the Believers entered the room and attacked Xantros and his comrades.
The fight between two groups of the Dark Jedi broke out. The Believers were more numerous, but it was obvious that Xantros, Cello and Shadow Nighthunter were trained in a far better way, both in various fighting techniques and in the use of the Force. Several minutes later, all of the Believers were unable to move.
In a short time, before the next group of the attackers entered the chamber, Xantros realized that the Dark Side aura, which surrounded the man, who observed the fight, was strange. It seemed to come from the amulet, which was on the man’s neck. A Sith artifact was the source of man’s power!
However, there was no time to do anything with that fact, as the Believers attack him and his Dark Brethren. The three Dark Jedi of House Scholae Palatinae turned out to be victorious at that time as well, but the fight costed them a lot of energy. They did not know how many more Believers they would need to fight, but they were aware that if the trial would last too long, they would be too exhausted to be victorious.
Xantros looked at Cello and Shadow, contacting them through the Force and briefly explaining his new plan, but there was no time for further discussion, as another group of the Believers attacked them. The Dark Jedi Knight made his way towards the man, stunning all of his opponents with his weapon. Finally, Xantros jumped on the platform, where the leader of the Believers was and attacked him with the stun button. The man was so surprised with the action of the Dark Jedi Knight that he did not even react. However, instead of hitting the man, Xantros used the opportunity to tear the amulet’s string apart and to grab the amulet.
The man’s scream made all fighting people stop the battle. Xantros looked at the frightened man with contempt and said loudly, “You have been cheated by this man and his comrades from other planets. He was not a real Dark Jedi. Only this amulet allowed him to use the Dark Side. Using this artifact, he and his comrades have misguided you. They have stopped you from gaining the true power. I may show you the true ways of the Dark Side and guide you to the power, which you have always dreamt about! Willl you follow me?”
The remaining concious Believers started to cheer. Xantros sighed with relief. His charisma was enough to convince them to do his bidding. Now, the mission given to him and his Dark Brethren by the Voice was possible to be successfully completed.
“Those, who work on other planets, are traitors. We must destroy them, before they can stop us! But they will be able to prepare themselves, if we attack them in their fortresses. They shall come here, where we are the most powerful! However, before that happens, we have a traitor to punish. He is yours! Do what you want to do with him!”
Xantros pushed the man over the balustrade and used the Force to move the man towards other Believers as much as possible. The Dark Jedi Knight stood still for few minutes, observing as his new followers were kicking and punching the man till his death. They were flushed with taking the revenge on their victim. Xantros used the general mood to continue his plan.
He was led to the communication center and the leaders of the Believers on Cularin were contacted on his request. Xantros grinned in a nasty way, when the face of a Gungan appeared, and immediately started the conversation.
“You are the leader of the Believers on the Cularin?”
“What do you want from me? I don’t want to waste my time on neophytes like you, if you have nothing important to say.”
“I assure you that it is a really important matter. Garvin Delquist is dead and his bodyguard is on his rendevouz with his death at the moment.”
“What?!” the Gungan growled with anger.
“You tyranny is over. The Believers on Almas shall not be limited with your policy. They are now free to decide whether to ally with you or not. If you want us to throw our support behind your cause again, you must come here and prove that you are worth of our efforts.”
“I will crush your resistance, you pathetic creature!”
The transmission was over. Xantros was sure that the battle was going to break out in couple of hours. With Cello and Shadow as his assistants, the Dark Jedi Knight explained the plan to the Believers. They had to wait until the enemies would land nearby the ruins of the Almas Fortress and then, they would attack them immediately. Of course, Xantros and his Dark Brethren had other plan for themselves, but they kept it for themselves.
Finally, the group of the Believers from Cularin arrived and left their ships nearby the Almas Fortress, as Xantros expected. The hot battle between two groups of the Believers broke out immediately. The Dark Jedi Knight with his two comrades alongside led the first attack. However, as the battle became more intense, they made their way towards the Buccaneer. Amidst the chaos of battle, they were not noticed by anyone and they made it safely to the ship. The three Dark Jedi left the planet immediately and entered the hyperspace as soon as it was possible.
They made few jumps, in order to make it impossible for the hypothetical pursuit to follow them to the Antei. They used the time of travel to meditate, to rest a bit and to prepare a report from the mission for the Voice, as they were to speak with him immediately after their return.
The Voice was a bit surprised that they had managed to achieve such success in the given circumstances. They not only had decimated the Believers, utilizing the conflicts in the organisation and warding the threat posed by the Believers off, but they had also brought the artifact, which provided its owner the ability to use the Force.