Bubbles, Sena, Anubis
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
Another blaster shot hit the rock face. “This is just brilliant… just great!” Anubis was commenting on their current situation of being stuck behind an outcropping of rocks, fifty meters away from their crash-site. Apart from the rocks, the terrain was manly open fields of kaluthin grass, planted there years ago by Darth Rivan. The entire planet was covered in a purple glow, emanating from the grass. Three Dark Jedi were crouching down, avoiding the incoming fire of the people who had just shot them down.
“Not only did we not land undetected, we also lost half our team.” Anubis continued. Krath Epis Bubbles also looked concerned. “What went wrong?”
Lokesen Corvinus looked up from the device that was holding his attention, until now. “I don’t know.” He replied calmly and with a shrug.
“Fantastic… He doesn’t know. Krath intelligence, now THERE’s a contradiction in terms.” At that, Bubbles shot the Sith a look that would have made a Bantha tip over. Anubis mellowed a bit. “What are you doing, anyway?” he asked Sena, looking at the devic e the Priest was holding.
“I’m jamming their communications, there’s a chance that no one else knows we’re here, yet.”
After a few minutes of silence, apart from the blaster shots that were slowly reducing their cover to rubble, Bubbles said; “We can’t stay here. If your jamming signal doesn’t work, they’ll have reinforcement coming in soon.”
“My scanner is showing at least twenty life signs ahead. We’re outnumbered six point six six six to one.” “Anubis sighed. “I hate when you do that!” turning to the Epis with a questioning posture. “So what do we do?” Bubbles pulled up her shoulders and gave one of her disarming smiles. “We fight!”
Sena shot the Epis a bemused look, no matter how long he'd known her for, he still could not get his head around her keenness for close-quarter combat. A smile crossed his face as he noted the excitement in her eyes, he searched for something more, but try as he might he could not find a shred of doubt or fear. Noting his gaze, she turned to look at him, raising one eyebrow, “I take it you're done there then? Ready to join us?”. At the Priest's nod, she turned to Anubis, “My way of doing this would be to charge them head on, but I'm hoping that maybe you've got something a little more refined to suggest?”
The Battlemaster nodded, “Of course. Most of their fire seems to be coming from their right flank. We send someone that way to act as a decoy, the others skirt round to the left using what cover they can, getting us as close to them as possible before they spot us. With a bit of luck we take out a large portion of their forces before they know what hit them.”
“Only twenty of them, against three of Taldryan's finest, they don't stand a chance,” Bubbs winked at Anubis, “It sounds like a plan to me. No offence boys, but I'm the quickest out of the three of us, I'll take the right flank, and draw what fire I can. Just don't leave me out there too long?”
"Wouldn't think of it, Bubbs," commented Sena, the blaster fire still ringing in his ears. Anubis nodded. Bubbles exhaled slowly, unwinding. Forcing all distractions from her mind, she closed her eyes for a moment. They snapped open no more than several seconds later, as he pushed herself upwards, leaning backwards towards the rocks that concealed them. Her feet forced her off the ground, he hands finding the cold, coarse surface of the stone as she used her momentum to throw herself over it. As her feet touched the ground, she activated the amythest blade of her old friend and spun, deflecting several bolts that had been sent her way. Taking off, the Epis did exactly as the Battlemaster had hoped she would.
"Lets go, Anubis," pipped Sena, already on the move. The Sith took his leave of their protection as the Taldrya drew the fire of the men, following the Priest in a wide circle through the thick underbrush what would conceal them from their enemies line of sight. Pushing their legs as hard as possible, they avoided any obstacles within their way; trees, branches, roots, and at one point even a small family of fauna that neither recognized immediately. The blaster fire would not let up on their ally; and twenty bolts was quite a bit to deflect even for most practitioners of lightsaber combat. As the two Dark Jedi neared their targets, it was apparent that Bubbles was starting to become overwhelmed and was nearly ready to return to cover.
"Leave one of them alive. We need someone to interrogate for information," commented Anubis, drawing his Sapphire Blade and lightsaber. Sena grinned, drawing his own light weapon and sending his jakdaw off. The HUD of Anubis' armor identified the twenty hostiles, marking them for extermination. As the two joined their new friends, the onslaught began. Corvinus was the first to shed blood, activating the amythest blade of his Herald-issue lightsaber and sending it through the back of one of the men. He soon took down another one, cutting off the barrel of his weapon and then severing his head from his body. Anubis followed suit, determined to simply plow through the forces and join Bubbles on the other side before the remaining eighteen were aware that they were being assaulted from behind.
The Battlemaster charged forth, swinging around with the brilliant blue blade of his weapon oustretched. He decapitated one of the soldiers that had been firing on Lady Taldrya, continuing his motion forward. Drawing his arm back in, he raised his other; stabbing the pointed ends of his lightsaber into a man's helmet and activating the bright yellow blade. Both men fell quickly. It was at this point that Bubbles too joined the fray, lauching her own assault on several of the men. Grasping a blaster rifle from one of the troopers, she flipped it upwards towards the face of it's owner and willed the man's finger to pull the trigger several times. With each shot the man staggered backward, until the fourth one caused him to fall lifeless. The cries of the men being slaughtered by three of Taldryan's experienced Dark Jedi were loud; hopefully not loud enough to alert any nearby patrols of the Believers Cult.
The three of them paused as the noise of the fight calmed, each spending a moment or two watching the others, subconsciously checking for any signs of injury that could cause problems later in their mission. Bubbles sat carefully in-between the corpses littered around the ground, taking the chance to get her breath back. Three scorch marks, one across her left thigh, and two over her right shoulder showed how close things had come before her comrades had joined the excitement. Her left cheek bone throbbed slightly, a wheal starting to appear where the butt of a rifle had connected with it, a move the soldier bearing that weapon would have regretted, had he lived to complete it.
Sena dropped the severed arm in his hand to the floor and deactivated his sabre as his breathing started to calm. He and Anubis had taken the brunt of the close-quarters damage, with multiple superficial wounds across Sena’s torso adding to the grim visage created by the blood splattered across his face from one of his unfortunate victims. Anubis, grateful for his armour, allowed himself a moment to think through the wounds he would now be bearing had he not chosen to don it that morning. The moment passed, and the Sith searched the ground around him, gaze settling on a body almost hidden by another draped atop it. He kicked the top corpse out of the way, and dragged the limp man towards the two Krath. “I knew I put him somewhere, he should be able to give us an idea of what’s going on here,” he paused, looking at the man’s battered face, “although you may need to heal him a little first.”
Bubbles had given a simple nod, and mended the man's worst injuries; just enough that he could awake. Anubis nudged the man's shoulder with his boot, forcing him to wake. The soldier sprung almost completely upright, looking for the nearest weapon closest to him. "Don't even bother," began the Battlemaster, "We're not stupid." As the trooper realized fighting was not an option, he turned to his only other option. Running. Spinning on his heels, the man bolted in the direction opposite of the three Dark Jedi. Bubbles rolled her eyes, lifting the man off of the ground as he ran.
The soldier noticed no difference, essentially continuing to run in mid-air for several seconds. Anubis grabbed hold of him with the Force, pulling him towards them. As he came within arms reach, he was spun around to stare directly into the midnight black faceplate of the Sith. "BOO." Every emotion was drawn from the man's face, save one; fear. Setting the man back on the ground, Bubbles watched as the solider stay completely still.
"Quit fooling around, Anubis," stated Lokasena, taking a step towards the lightly armoured fellow. "We have questions, solider." The man's head turned to face the eyes of the Priest, simply nodding. The three Taldryans began questioning the trooper, asking him where he had come from; who his commander was; why he and the other nineteen men had brought down their craft; and more importantly... how to find his home base. At several points the man offered minimal resistance, which was easily cast away with the ignition of a lightsaber blade, or swinging of a sword. Soon, the group had all the information they needed.
The soldier was part of a small mercenary group called the Believers Sword. This group was the sovereign protectors of the Believers Cult, their leader under the influence of a cult member. The Believers Sword checkpoint was located several miles south-east, accessible only from the jungle floor. Of course, the troopers that had attacked them had brought speeders and speeder bikes with them. Beyond the Sword checkpoint somewhere lied the Believers Cult; the soldier did not know. He was not privy to such information; only their leader was. The trio of Dark Jedi's immediate objective was obvious, then - track down the Believers Sword leader, rip the information they needed from him, and then proceed to annihilate the sect of the cult that resided on this planet. Anything was possible, right?
Having gotten all the information they needed, the three disposed of the remaining trooper. They might of let him live, had he not known the exact location of their destination. What if a patrol caught sight of him and he alerted the others of their path. Ensuring that the deaths of the soldiers looked like a massacre by wild beasts, the three set of in the direction of the checkpoint. Instead of walking, however. They caught a ride. Stealing one of the speeders in use by the Sword group, the three set off. As the Lorrdian Sith was the only one capable of piloting such a vehicle, it was elected that he drive.
“Was that really necessary?” Bubbles looked at the back seat, as she had called shotgun. Sena didn’t mind, he had stretched out his legs across the seat and rested a little, the bird bobbing up and down on his shoulder again. “Always burn your bridges behind you, doll face. You never know who might follow.” He winked at her. “Besides, it was a little funny.”
“Making the guy relive his worst fears so he would kill himself by slicing open his throat with a shard of flint stone… You really have a mean streak.” She smiled at him.
“Oh, I’m such a bad boy? Why haven’t I had a date in three months? Don’t women like bad guys?” he jested.
“Maybe…” she replied. “If you got out of that cellar a bit more often.”
“And get a haircut.” Anubis added.
Lokasena rubbed a hand through his thick scruffy hair. “Seriously? I thought it gave me an intellectual look?”
“You look like Wookiee, tall and hairy. Maybe you should date one of those?”
“It’s an option! I hear they are regular animals in the bedroom. Too bad they shed.” Again he winked at Bubbles.
This was the breath before the plunge… Things were about to get nasty and breaking the tension was quite welcome. The checkpoint was not far away now and the action would pick up soon enough. Sena was actually looking forward to a slight stroll through the jungle. Nothing better to hide an assault than trees and wildlife.
Other than the revelations about Sena’s bedroom habits, the speeder flight was uneventful. Anubis piloted the vehicle to a sheltered glade half a mile out from the Believers Sword checkpoint. Bubbles stretched her legs as she mentally scanned the immediate area for any signs of danger. Happy that they were safe for the immediate future, she took a moment to take in the surroundings, amused by the dead soldier’s definition of a jungle. The vegetation in this area was doubtless more prolific and dense than in other areas on this planet, and she supposed in comparison to the wasteland that dominated the rest of the planet, it probably would pass for jungle.
She nodded to Anubis, who was giving her a slightly puzzled look as she examined the nearby flora, and fell into step with him and Sena as they set off south towards the checkpoint. Well used to travelling into hostile territory, the three split slightly, walking within easy earshot of each other, picking their way quietly through the undergrowth. As they travelled further towards their destination the paths through the jungle became more well-worn, suggesting regular traffic.
“Hold!” Came Sena’s warning in their minds, ”A patrol, moving this way, four of them. Reckon we can do this quietly?”
”I always love a challenge,” Anubis whispered to the Epis as he moved up alongside her., “Let’s do this.” The two split, Anubis circling to the right of Sena’s position, Bubbles to his left, moving slowly and quietly towards their targets.
The three Dark Jedi crept quietly through the trees, encircling their prey. The patrol, comprised of a small four men - one patrol leader, and three soldiers - walked across the forest floor without knowledge that they were being stalked. They stepped across dead branches, leaves, and whatever else lay on the ground, a small conversation running within the group. The approaching Taldryans could not hear what they were talking about; just mumbles and grumbles. As the two Krath and single Sith closed in on their prey - no more than twenty meters away, the patrol stopped.
"Patrol six, this is base. Come in." The patrol leader reached for his ear, activating his comlink headset. "Go for patrol six. What's the word, base?" The three soldiers looked around the area visually, just doing a quick sweep. They still didn't notice the Dark Jedi.
"Patrol six, be advised of possible hostiles in the area. Several patrols have not reported in from that shuttle we took down." The lead trooper began looking around at this point, motioning to the men to split up and search the surrounding area. The three Dark Jedi stopped, finding refuge behind whatever objects they could to conceal them for the time being. "Affirmative, base. We'll keep an eye out and head that way. Patrol six, out." The link was cut, as the patrol leader raised his rifle in the low-ready position. "Spread out, do a hundred meter scan of the area and start making your way to the crash site."
The four men split up, fanning out. Two headed in the direction of Lokasena, while two headed in the direction of Bubbles and Anubis. The Krath and Sith looked at each other, both nodding. Having taken refuge behind a tree just big enough to conceal her form, Bubbles readied herself. Anubis had taken cover behind a rock, while Lokasena too had taken cover behind a tree. As the two men approached Lokasena, he grinned. The one closest to him walked directly past the tree he had been hiding behind, allowing Corvinus a chance to do some damage. Reaching out, the Priest grabbed hold of the man's head and twisted as hard as his natural strength would allow, snapping the soldier's neck.
Grabbing the patrolmen's body as it crumbled to the ground, the Human did his best to prevent as much noise as possible. Resting him quietly on the ground, the Priest grabbed the headset from his ear. Perhaps Anubis could tap into the signal using his armour's systems and trace it back to it's origin - giving them the exact location of the men they were searching for. Across the way, Anubis and Bubbles remained concealed.