[Naga Sadow] Sins of Our Fathers: Runon
Sins of Our Fathers: https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com/competitions/7158
Clan Naga Sadow has embarked on a mission to exact revenge against Taldryan for the actions of its Aedile in defacing ruins sacred to Ancient Sith Lord Ludo Kressh. Detail the mission, and the events surrounding the attack from your unit's perspective.
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It was almost too easy. Staring down the ravine where the forces of Taldryan were milling about, with almost no cares in the world, Captain Veers looked through his macro binoculars and started doing calculations. He had been given dossiers on all of the Taldryan Elders, and knew the faces of the Old Folks who would be expected to give the most resistance. None of these figures were to be seen anywhere in the distance. Behind him, arrayed in ranks, were the troops who'd been selected for this glorious mission to exact revenge upon the rabble from the once proud Clan. Between the assembled soldiers of Naga Sadow and the various Dark Jedi from the Clan itself, this mission should be easy enough.
The collection of Journeymen and Equites ahead of him would surely offer Naga Sadow little resistance, and their victory would be complete. Now, all they had to do was wait for their orders from the Consul, and revenge would be theirs.
Captain Vyyrs checked his wristchrono; the appointed hour was drawing close. It would not be long now. The Chiss offshoot raised his macrobinoculars again and zoomed in closer to insect the group of Taldryanites gathered at the base of the ravine. One of the Taldryan Journeymen was milling back and forth, looking a little edgy – perhaps he sensed something amiss, but it would do them no good.
Behind him, he heard the Sadowans with him double checking their own lightsabers and equipment.
The Sadowan strike team had made planet fall on the barren, desert world without a hitch. Even if the Taldryan training band could feel something off with their Force senses, the Sadowans had the advantage of surprise, having come on one of the Clan’s stealth equipped Vibre-class assault ships. Vyyrs had made sure of that, having pressed Admiral Simonetti to make an exception, in order to enable them to bypass the main planetary defenses and premature warning systems.
A discrete chime buzzed up from his left gauntlet.
Kalv’yyr’skora lowered his macrobinoculars and turned his red eyes to the holographic text that shone up from the commlink built into his wrist. It was from the Proconsul. Just one word.
To his left, one of the other soldiers from the Sadow Warhost, which was now the surviving military entity after the collapse of the Dlarit Corporation following the One Sith attack that brought chaos to the Orian System the year before, took a step closer to the Chiss captain.
It was the new Quaestor’s adjutant.
“Remember,” began the man, whose name Vyyrs had forgotten, seeming to forget Vyyrs was in command of this operation, “we are here to strike at their heart. They do not need to be killed. Just made to suffer.”
Vyyrs narrowed his eyes a little, finding the fellow soldier’s words slightly strange, but shrugged it aside. “Noted,” the captain said, wanting to make a point that it would have been helpful were the Quaestor himself there to point these things out, but Vyyrs knew better than to bother.
That, and he had served the Sons of Sadow for long enough to know not to question their ways.
Turning back around to the Sadowan strike group, the captain silently signalled the squad leaders that it was time to move out. Taldryan would remember why not to challenge Clan Naga Sadow.
Standing aside from the rest of the troops and the commanding officers, a tall figure, covered in a robe and hiding his face with a hood looked at the horizon, the soft breeze swaying his clothes. To anyone who didn’t know what that figure was doing there, it would have looked like a statue more than the human he was.
Rosh Nyine, recently elevated to the rank of the Equites, had not emerged since his arrival at the Brotherhood from the halls of the Shadow Academy but to strike at Korriz, and had proven himself to those who wondered why a member of the Obelisk would spend so much time studying instead exercising himself, or meeting the other members of the clan to secure his position like many others. Now, he had volunteered to be one of those in charge of striking the Taldryan forces, and he had carte blanche to do as he thought better as long as he didn’t act against the commanding officers’ orders.
His new lightsaber, which he had mastered fast enough for this mission, hanged from his belt. His eyes were closed, focused, scanning the thoughts of those gathered to perform the attack on the House Taldryan. “Too easy,” was the general thought, but for what he had gathered in the holorecordings before departing for this mission, nothing related to confronting that House was easy. Only fools would think that this was an easy operation, and he was not going to be crazy enough to perform a frontal attack on the Taldryan troops.
Looking up, staring at the sun, and shook his head. The Force wouldn’t help him here, too many enemies could sense him, but what the Force couldn’t do, the suppression of his own powers and the stealth skills he had cultivated during the past two years could turn into his favour. “Let the bulk of the troops charge if they want, but don’t go with them,” transmitted telepathically the young Nyine to his apprentice.
He stopped for a few moments thoughtfully after the signal to move, wondering what the most likely strategy would be from his Clan troops. It was most probable than the best warriors in the mission would use the surprise factor to charge, sending the less valuable soldiers ahead of them as cannon fodder. Rosh could not count himself within the best fighters, but surely he was not a simple soldier, he was a squad leader and would see this mission succeed, one way or another.
Walking silently across the assembled troops, he tapped the shoulder of those common soldiers who seemed fit for his purposes. On one side, those he considered clumsy and disposable. On the other side, those who looked agile and could follow him properly enough.
Sending telepathic orders to those he tapped, he assembled a small force aside from the main one, divided into two groups: the disposable ones and the skilled ones. Of course, he wouldn’t mention that small detail to them. There were many ways to use cannon fodder.
Staring at the clumsy ones, he gave to them a small speech about the glory to be earned in battle for their Clan and sent them to left flank of the main troops, at the edge of the ravine, with the simple order of attacking when all the forces initiated their attack.
Simple enough for his plans. Just after the group of disposable soldiers had left, he addressed the ones remaining: “Rejoice, for this day you might survive to the attack we’re about to launch. The troops that I have sent to flank the Taldryan forces are not but a mere distraction to make our enemies think that they are being flanked just from one side. Meanwhile, when your brothers-in-arms sacrifice themselves for the glory of Naga Sadow, we will launch a stealth attack from the other flank, taking them from behind. Questions?”
One of the soldiers was about to speak when Rosh raised casually his hand towards him, and closing it on a fist, threw a neurotoxic dart to the neck of the soldier. As the soldier fell to the floor gasping for air, dying slowly, Rosh looked at the others. They were afraid and now completely loyal. “Good. Now that we have taken care of the traitors we can start our mission. Let’s go,” he continued as he received the signal to start advancing and initiated a silent walk with the remaining soldiers trailing behind him, trying to keep the sounds to a minimum while their partner was abandoned behind, only small spasms revealing that he was, still, alive.
Nine days ago
The bitter cold inside the cave offset the wicked heat and humidity of the Aeotheran jungles. Inside, laser hewn walls, glass smooth, were interrupted only by holographic displays and sundry equipment. The small, man-made series of caves were one part workshop, one part residence, and one part base of operations.
The owner of the caves strolled in, shaking his very long mane of hair dry of the mist caused by the waterfall which concealed the entrance to his sanctum. It had been months since he’d been there, instead choosing to live in the jungle itself. The primal rhythm of the jungle had put him closer to the Force, closer to himself and all in all, closer to the reality paradigm that he enjoyed most.
But of course, somebody had to go and screw that all up. The monitors and equipment were trashed. Even to the sight of a Miraluka, it was plain to detect the aftermath of lightsaber vandalism. The fabrication equipment was wrecked, the small lab was ruined, and in the corner, a small handicapped assistance droid lay in a heap. Worst, of all, however, were a distinct lack of several things. One of which was a complete rework of the Violator compound. Somebody had stolen his first real attempt into biological and chemical weaponry, and that was pure bantha crap.
Mirado scowled, as was his way of things, and began sorting through the wreckage of his droid. As expected, the memory core was missing, but as his hands began working through the mess, he noticed the wireless uplink port was intact. Possibly the first bit of good news he’d had in a while, this led him to check the computer systems. Buried deep in the internals of the computer system, his droid’s emergency memory core was still intact. Mirado unplugged the drive, and then walked towards the exit. As an afterthought, he reached into his coat, and tossed a handful of small spheres into the cave. Guided by the Force, they spread and moved about the series of rooms, before coming to rest on the floors.
Outside, the Miraluka walked away as the sabatoge thermals detonated, reducing every remaining thing inside the caves to vapor and slag.
The wreck of The Miner’s Brother
Five days ago
Macron puttered about his lab, a goal on what to do coming into, and then out of, his thoughts. “Acids, bases, burned out faces,” he rhymed, crafting poetry as he sniffed at a small box of genetically engineered seeds to a carnivorous plant. “Messianic hemotoxins, tested on deficient oxen.”
At that, he paused and considered a moment, before absently eating the seeds he was picking at. “No, that’s profoundly unkind. What rhymes with Necrosis anyways?”
“Schizophrenic neurosis,” Was the reply he’d been waiting on. The Alchemist knew his apprentices, and had felt Mirado’s presence from kilometers away.
“Finally decided it was time?” Macron asked, lucidity returning to him as capriciously as it left him. Of course, he was referring to the Sith tradition of magistricide of course.
“I’m facing you, man to man.” Mirado said in a baritone rumble.
“So that’s a no then.” Macron retorted. He was so eager for this, and sometimes, it was hard telling if he was looking forward to killing, or hoping of dying.
“It’s a no.” Mirado said, before tossing a datapad to the Alchemist.
Macron studied it for a moment, his face at times puzzled, other times surprised. “Your work is heavy handed, you know that, right?” He finally said at length. “You might as well have added your signature to the alkaloid compounds. Why are you showing me a rework of Violator, anyway? Old news, that stuff. We’ve cut new albums since then, expanded the style. Changed labels as well, last one wasn’t working out, they wanted too much off the top and didn’t want to negotiate royalties.”
“I had thirty liters cooked up. It’s been stolen,” Mirado replied.
“By Taldryan, we know.” Macron interrupted while absently licking the inside of a large beaker. “Any idea how? I know how I would’ve done it, but I gather there weren’t traces of high fructose grain syrup on the walls?”
“Probably tracked my purchases. I didn’t trust anyone else to help me make the stuff. Atmospheric sniffers are small and easy to hide. The process required argon, would’ve been easy to find a source on.” Mirado said with a shrug. Why, or worse, how, Macron would employ small hive insects to track for him was something to meditate on later.
“Doesn’t matter, the deed is done. Wait for word and we can… correct the Taldryan.”
Buried in the sand, Mirado watched his clanmates and their forces prep for business. He’d elected to separate himself, as was natural, and to conduct his own work his own way. Beneath the sand, and garbed beneath a camouflage suit, he was invisible to the world. The time would come to pounce, however, and when it did, his own personal revenge would be had.
Maelous stood off to the side with the heavily armored Zeltron, Jan-i. She had done well in the month since he had taken her as his service, and he was pleased to have her at his side once again.
His eyes scanned the troops as they readied themselves for the coming assault. He feel the tension in the air, as the melee approached.
He breathed deeply, "Come, Jan-i" he said as he started towards command. He moved quickly through the ranks of the clan’s troops. He wanted to make sure that his clan mates knew he was there, to show support for the cause of Naga Sadow, but also to make sure he was one of the first into the fray.
He reached the front of the gathered masses and made sure to make a quick nod to leadership because once again moving to the side and wait for the go ahead. He watched as Jan-i took her spot next him, scanning the gathered troops with her one good eye.
She glanced over at the journeyman, “Do they always take this long to prepare?” she asked.
He smirked, “It seems that way, not everyone enjoys the chaos of it all the way we do,” he croaked, “even though by the time the fight starts nothing ever goes as anyone plans.”
He stood there watching and after what felt like hours they were moving. He held his saber ready, but still dormant as he moved with them, each step making the manic tooth filled grin a bit broader, and the fire in his eyes and bit brighter, as he grew closer to the chaos of the fight.
There stood many of the fiercest creatures on the battlefield, all apart of one body. The Naga Sadow forced amassed to lay vengeance on the unpopular House Taldryan. Shirai's lightsaber was clipped to his sash and was eager to be summoned to his hand. Though they were acutely aware of the Elders of Taldryan, however as he surveyed their forces they were not to be seen.
That meant that fodder walked before them. They were eager for the battle either way, who wouldn't be. He hadn't sensed her but he was hoping his master and her master would join the battle. The Sith Warrior believed to make a name for himself and sought to impress them.
They were certainly an overwhelming force compared to the Journeyman an Equites that unfortunately would meet their end no sooner than later. He looked too Captain Veers as he surveyed on. Shirai and others were waiting for the word when the attack would eventually happen. They expected minimal losses but you never know with Dark Jedi. So the idea was to hit hard, and make them bleed from a wound that could never be healed.
Clad in black and red always tribunal with the Sith Ways, he opted not to wear any armor at the time as he learned last time it could be restricting in movements. He would need to be unrestricted when dealing with other Jedi. The Force didn't need to remind him that he was not to take any of their enemies likely. A Force attack could leave him crippled, so he needed to be attentive and quick to counter any such thing.
Shirai had never liked Taldryan even in his days in Plagueis. This was beaten into his head with his old master Drodik before the man went light. Braecen and Jonaleth had also enlightened him on certain dark secrets about them accumulated over their years of conflict
with them. He had hoped to keep such things to himself, for selfish reasons of course. Can't release valuable information like that even to comrades unless it was demanded.
The Equites were ready for the strike and so was he. Time to let blades fly.
Syntari Bastiayn heard the summons and for a while, ignored it. Things had been too hectic, her mind too chaotic, for anything more complicated than meditation; for many months she had sat in her rooms and done nothing but mourn for what was lost. Then, out of the blue, her comm had beeped in the tri-tone she had come to associate with urgent business and now...now, she was here. She hadn't been out in the field since Mirus Cavataio's death and hadn't truly felt alive since the death of her lost beloved, but things had to change. It was not her way to stagnate, not anymore, so at the beeping of her comm she rose to her feet and shook of the dust of the past.
Focus on the present, not on what is dead and gone. The best techniques may have been passed on by the survivors, but Syntari want to do more than survive.
Watching them all, the members of Naga Sadow--her Clan, her home, her people--she felt a surge of pride. This was the reason she was out here: though she would never voice it, she had a sense of Clan pride that rivaled the darkness within her. Scanning about with silver-green eyes alight with curiosity, she sought out a familiar face and found only Maelous, though she didn't approach him, Friendship didn't get one far, as she had discovered.
Nonetheless, these were the people she would soon fight beside and signaling herself out as the loner wouldn't gain her any favors. Settling down amongst them as her Clan-mates stood about, she pulled out her katana and ignored the fact that everyone else gathered had a lightsabre. She had told her Master one too many times that she would not carry one, though now she was beginning to regret it.
Let it all begin, Syntari thought to herself, Let it begin so that Taldryan drown in their own blood as the weapons of Clan Naga Sadow usher them to their deaths.
Jades shuttle landed and she looked out at the view. The land was soon to have new marks on it, new stories to tell. Stories that would likely connect with other tales. Shutting everything off she thought about the rock she was about to set foot on. It wasn't what she would call... home by any means, but she had come to find out what was going on with her home, with her family. It had been a long time since she had come to the aid of her Clan, something she had missed, but her away time had been important, for many reasons. Just like her return. Something wasn't right, a feeling, a tremor in the force, and of course whispers. Whispers that had reached Tron. And once he got word of something, well...to say 'there would be hell to pay' would be an understatement.
On her way back to the Clan she had done some digging on the 'here say' and found many things were not the same. She wished she had been accompanied by the one that had sent her, but that, she guessed, would come in time. For now she had to check in with her new QUA and hopefully find her old master kicking around somewhere.
Placing her saber at her side and checking her couple hidden daggers she walked off the shuttle and looked around. She couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right... something was... she couldn't put her finger on it yet, but if it threatened the Clan or the Sadows in anyway, she was determined to see the threat gone, be it another Clan or House, or even a person.
Now... where to look for her QUA or Master, she had ceremonies to of course attend to, the usual meet and greets, and getting up to date, but she had a feeling, if anyone could give her incite, at the very least Macron could.
The Shadow Academy
Prior to CNS Deployment to Jagunda
“If you go, you will surely die.” The Krath docent warned him, “You’re foolish like all Sith, you wish to enter into battle without the proper preparations before you are ready. And you will die and all of the time and effort put into you from this place will be a smouldering waste upon a desert.”
Ar’rik stood at attention before the unremarkable SA staff’s desk and said nothing, the lecture had gone on for nearly 20 minutes. He required leave to join in the assault on Taldryan and This tutor was bordering dangerously close to showing true consideration for him. Ar’rik would have to note this obvious weakness for exploitation in the future.
The Sorcerer looked upon him and shook his head, “Your Master has given you permission, go and join your clan in their futile need for revenge,” his tone somber.
Aa’rik met up with the other Journeyman of his level and merged in with their ranks. He like many others from his group began to practice their Lightsaber forms some distance from the CNS camp. By only practicing their Saber form and not Force powers their superiors felt pretty confident they could avoid detection.
As Aa’rik practiced Form 0, he felt a strange sensation. A strong and familiar presence which he at first assumed was his Master’s. Word was that the Quaestor would arrive soon. But he could not recall ever having this particular feeling around her before.
Finally his group had received the signal that the attack was to begin and they all returned to the main force. Aa’rik followed the orders given even though he was keenly aware his group was to be canon fodder in the upcoming battle.
The Sadowan journeymen were still checking their gear when an odd sound was heard overhead. It sounded like a flag flapping in a heavy wind. One looked up and called out “Enemy above!”
Instantly the group spread and took up attack positions. The figure landed and it’s wingspan shifted shape into a cloak. A lightsaber was ignited and a journeyman charged with his warcry bellowing. A white blade errupted to counter the attack and the man kicked the journeyman in the chest, knocking him to the ground.
“I’m on your side idiot!” The cloaked figure said as he jerked his hood off his head to reveal his face.
Captain Vyyrs rushed over and spoke “Did you collect what I asked, Buurenaar?”
Roxas turned and gave him an annoyed look before replying “You have no faith...yeah I made a map of the surrounding area.” The Sithspawn reached into his pocket and withdrew a datapad for the Captain.
“If I knew you would be so rude, I would have charged you.” Roxas said as he dug in his pocket for a cigar.
The journeyman stood up and dusted himself off, muttering “One eyed bastard.” under his breath.
The Sithspawn lit the cigar and blew smoke in the journeyman’s face as an insult before walking to look over the cliff.It wouldn’t be long before the attack was underway. Roxas turned to look at the assembled Sadowans that contained both known and new faces. Hopefully the fight would be over soon, so he could get back to his new wife.
A pair of the newest journeymen to join Taldryan was placed a little bit away from the rest of their fellow Taldryanites, they were busy going through the basic motions of Form 0, for the first time they had been allowed to use their armory lightsabers instead of the usual trainingsabers. They were going through the stances from the first to last only to repeat them over and over.
They were interrupted by their Master who instructed them to spar against each other after going back and forth for a bit one of them suddenly stopped and looked up, the Master jumped in and blocked the lightsaber that was about to cut into the young journeyman, “What the frack are you doing you blithering idiot, you’re sparring with real lightsabers this time, getting hit can kill you.” he yelled. The journeyman shuddered under the Master’s glare, “Master, I think I saw something flying above us.” He said as he pointed towards the cliffs on one side of the ravine.
The Master looked up but couldn’t see anything and shook his head, “The sun is playing tricks with you, we chased those Odanites off this rock, there’s nobody but us here, now get back to sparring before I change my mind and decide you’re not worthy of being in Taldryan.” He said. As he turned to walk away they suddenly heard someone bellowing something unintelligible above them and suddenly all the Taldryanites stopped their training and looked up.
On the cliff above Captain Vyyrs shook his head, “So much for the element of surprise.” He muttered to himself before turning back to the Sadowans assembled behind him and gave the signal to attack.
Warily, Locke crept around the edge of the cliff, seeking a point a little further down the ravine, to the right of his party. It seemed a group of Sadowan soldiers had already covered the left, though they didn't look like they would last long in a real fight. Greenhorns. What passes for training these days?
If any of the Taldryanites attempted to escape this way, he would cut them off. Besides, Locke had been laying low for a few months now and wasn't sure how his presence would be received by the current Summit.
Dimly, Locke was aware of a presence in the back of his mind. It almost seemed to be trying to will itself into existence. He knew now that Amelia was probably nothing but a figment of his imagination - no one else could see her, and the elements never seemed to have an effect on her. So far she had never gotten in the way, but he was worried. Am I going mad?
Pushing that thought away, Locke crouched and looked on at the two groups of Dark Jedi: his Sadowan allies at the top of the ravine and the Taldyran trainees who were staring up and shouting. Locke breathed; with the element of surprise gone, that meant he might have company soon. Easing his blaster in it's holster, the Krath thought better of it; these trainees may be able to redirect a blaster bolt. He palmed his lightsaber instead, thumb settling softly on the ignition switch.
A breeze gently brushing Locke's hair made him turn around. He frowned; the distant horizon was billowing with clouds of sandy brown. Dust storm, Locke thought. It would be on them soon, but it was not an immediate threat. Besides, the ravine itself should have been shielded from the brunt of it.
Then he jumped slightly, hearing a voice nearby. "You there! Stand up! Who are you?"
Locke slowly rose and turned. He glanced at the two parties of Dark Jedi out of the corner of his eyes, but they were focused on each other. Behind Locke stood a column of maybe twenty soldiers, fanning out to keep him between them and the edge of the ravine. He noticed the emblem on their uniforms and tried to look like an abashed student. "I'm training; I got away from the main party."
"Oh yeah? You don't match any of our records, and you're not wearing a trainee's uniform." The column's leader gave Locke a doubtful look. Several of the soldiers held their rifles loosely, as if prepared to lower them and fire at a moment's notice.
"I thought an outfit more camouflaged might be better, " Locke said, referring to his dusty brown outfit.
"Or you're not Taldryan."
"I could be, " Locke said, realizing his ruse probably wasn't going to work. Of course they wouldn't be out here alone and I would run into their patrol. And I'm alone.
Realizing he had few options, Locke did the first thing that came to mind. He saluted the column briefly, grinning stupidly, and then dived off the edge of the ravine under a hail of blaster fire. He landed roughly on a stone outcrop partway down the ravine, rolling to the edge of it and barely managing to hold on with his hands, lightsaber clattering to another outcrop below.
Grunting, Locke struggled to pull himself up, hoping the soldiers would get distracted by the impending battle, rather than step up to the edge of the ravine and reduce his hands and head to slag.
Macron watched from his cloak of darkness within the rocks like an angry rattlesnake awaiting prey. He kept his presence in the Force small, his breath still, his life signs hidden by the battle suit he wore. Slaughtering weak trainees was hardly enjoyable, but perhaps there would be other… more entertaining victims. The Alchemist smiled grimly as he whispered to himself. “Mirado was right about me as usual- death, or dealing death is all the same.” His students that had lived through the training had amassed power and wisdom in their own way. Even Jade was nearby… he had not sensed her presence in a long time. Hopefully one of them would kill him soon- or he would kill them. And that would indeed be a challenge worthy of any Sith.
Around all of them the battle began to rage. Except it was not truly much of a battle. While the actual soldiers on both sides were well-trained, the trainees were no match for the Dark Jedi and elite warriors amongst the Naga Sadow crowd. Undoubtedly Dark Jedi reinforcements would come soon. Or at least- hopefully so.
He watched coldly as Locke jumped over the cliff edge nearby. If the usurper died, it would be his own doing. He was Sith after all. The twenty odd soldiers that had cornered Locke advanced to the cliff’s edge and began to point their weapons downwards.
“This won’t do,” growled Macron to himself quietly. “I’ll lose the chance to kill him myself later.”
The Elder stood up from among the crevices in the dry rock. The sound of his throat being cleared was eerie coming from the vocabulator in his helm. “Ahem. Hey Kark-heads! Kark your mothers with a dianoga in the exhaust port!” That should get their attention.
Almost as one the Taldryanite soldiers turned to face him. “It’s a Sadowite!” “He has their symbol!” ”Shoot him!” Only one had any sense. “Guys! That’s a foxtrotuniform… I don’t think we…” They never got a chance to say anything else. Grinning Death had found them and it moved like quicksilver.
The rock around the Adept cracked with agonized sounds of sundered granite as it was heaved en-masse at the enemy by the Force. Reports issued from the flying stony mass as it was propelled rocket-like in a fan shaped wedge at the troopers. Shards of hot stone penetrated them like daggers as larger cobbles and small boulders hammered at their cowering bodies. Most of them simply got blown right over the edge of the cliff in a sanguine mass of guts and scrambled limbs. A few on the edges were merely pummeled and slashed and dropped to the ground like broken red dolls.
The Sith chuckled with delight. “Now that was satisfying, to some degree.” He strode to the edge of the cliff. “Locke, you dead?” His eyebrows raised quizzically inside the helmet. “Injured?”
“I am not, no thanks to you,” replied the former Consul as he vaulted with the aid of the Force to the cliff’s edge. “You damn near killed me with that stunt. That little display of yours is sure to bring every Dark Jedi they have right here of course.” Locke dusted himself off and regripped his saber. “I seem to be fine. Jerk.”
“As you say, as you say yes. I’m counting on it, in fact,” giggled the madman by way of reply. “I can’t wait to kill every last sonofabitch they send.” His hands tore his lightsaber hilt off his belt and fitted the Armor Fist on the other. Macron flexed the gauntlet as he laughed evilly. His mind reached out to former Apprentices. “Mirado, Jade… care to join the fun with me? The Taldryan dogs will soon be here with me and we can slake our thirst for their blood.”
Martial Sciences Class
Bothauwi Military Academy
Battlefield Application Class 32 BBY
The galaxy, by and large, had discounted the usage of chemically propelled projectiles in warfare. Superheated bolts of excited gas in plasmic form meant terrible burns for the target, caused by rapid superheating of the water in the body, meaning the injury was a gift that kept on giving. It was a far more ideal weapon in conventional hostility and warfare.
But, and there’s always a but, there are drawbacks to this kind of weapon system. Always loud, the blaster weapon can’t be silenced, due to the burning of the air in which the bolt traveled. Without exceptional expense, it was also visible. Unconventional, asymmetrical warfare couldn’t be as effectively conducted with that kind of weapons system.
Because of this, there was something of a resurgence of the slugthrower weapon. Slower, in relation to the blaster bolt, a ballistic slug traveled only a time or two faster than the speed of sound, and relied on explosive gas to be propelled. This combination of traits meant that simple physics and a few tools could turn the slughthrower into a silent weapon. Far smaller as well, the slug was much harder to visually detect, especially exceeding velocities of eight hundred meters per second.
This speed, incidentally, was the source of damage from the slugthrower weapon. Hydrostatic shock, organ trauma, and bleeding was the punchline to this type of ammunition. Things that a bacta patch were less quickly able to mend. Also, a slug was impossible to reflect with a lightsaber, and much harder to absorb the focused kinetic energy through the Force.
Lesson in Action
A dune on Jagunda
The Taldryan scout rifleman came up the dune slowly, moving with a focused purpose, his pace measured and practiced to maintain his concealment in the desert. The battle had begun between the invaders, and his own people, and had started pitching well enough that he felt secure in setting up a position to pick off a few critical enemy Sith.
Easily, he brought his rifle up onto its bipod stand, and began settling himself into a comfortable shooting position. While doing so, he brought an optic to his eye, and began mentally marking the ranges shown to him in the eyepiece of the monocular.
Once settled, the rifleman brought his weapon against his shoulder and found his cheek weld against the stock. With practiced, ease, he flicked the lens covers on their hinges, away from his scope.
“Six hundred twenty meters, thirty five meter drop to target” he whispered quietly to himself, turning a knob on his scope until it clicked quietly a few times. “Eleven klick crosswind, no, scratch that, fourteen klick northeast crosswind.” He added, turning another knob until the crosshairs in his scope had settled where they needed to be.
The Taldryan set his crosshairs a bit over the head of one of the Sadowans to compensate for the lack of humidity, a red armored thing that had put the sniper’s brethren through an impromptu meat grinder. He wasn’t worried about the armor, his ammunition was tungsten cored, so even if the thing’s armor was for more than ablating blaster bolts, it wouldn’t matter.
The round would be in the air for less than a second. A regular human required a quarter of a second to react to their environment. A Force trained one, about a sixteenth. The armored thing with the gigantic glove wasn’t looking. “Gotcha,” the shooter whispered as he flicked the safety off on his rifle.
His finger rested against the dual stage trigger, applying the first stage of pressure, bringing it to a stopping point where an additional three ounces of pressure would send the firing pin into the primer, starting the chain reaction which would reach climax by blowing hole through the Sith’s chest at a speed high enough to bring innards out with the projectile which caused it all. One long inhale, a slow, measured exhale, and the shooter grew very mindful of his heartbeat.
620 meters away from a dune in Jagunda
Macron’s thoughts echoed through the Force, lubricated by the oily taint of the Dark Side. “Mirado, Jade… care to join the fun with me? The Taldryan dogs will soon be here with me and we can slake our thirst for their blood.”
A bit more than half a klick away, Mirado rose from his hide in the dune, wiping blood from one of his crescent razors. “Yeah, toss me that way if you would, I’ll work them your way.” He replied, pointing towards a mass of Taldryan soldiers being led by a couple of Force Users. At his feet, a Taldryan sniper lay dead. Guy shouldn’t’ve climbed the Miraluka’s dune. Mirado was the king of that particular hill.
In the Force, Macron’s hand reached out, grasping his rebellious apprentice. For a moment, he considered crushing the life out of the smartass murderer, before logistics and pride took over. Instead, he accelerated the Miraluka, the wicked intellect of the Alchemist calculating the force, trajectory, and angle Mirado would take as easily as others might scratch their chin.
Sand erupted from around the Prelate’s feet as he felt himself go aloft, his boots flying ahead of him as he flipped against his momentum in a slow heels over head revolution. As he soared, Mirado’s hands found the hilts of his vibroblades, sliding them from their sheaths in a liquid motion. His lightsaber remained in his left sleeve, a tool his wouldn’t draw unless the two Force using Taldryan were tougher than he’d guessed. This was a solid possibility.
The fight had begun, and for now, Syntari was more than content to allow the others to die needlessly. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Ar'rik tense up, lightsabre in hand, and prepare to join in the fight but before she could get to him, someone blocked her path. A Taldryan Journeyman pointed a lightsabre at her and grinned, his eyes flashing dimly with the power of the Force.
"Where do you think you're going?" he sneered.
Syntari glared at him and pulled her katana from her belt, the blade hungry for the blood of her enemies. "You Tal's are all the same," she sneered. "So ready to die." His lightsabre hummed as he slid into an offensive stance, his body tensed ready to pounce. The look on his face spoke volumes to her; he was furious and while that would lend him power, he would end up making a grave mistake.
That mistake would mean his death and he would become nothing but a statistic in this battle.
"You want to go, little one?" she mocked. With murder on his face he charged, his lightsabre swinging in at a vertical angle that she managed to dodge in the nick of time. Laughing, Syntari felt more alive than she had in a very long time. This was her element, this is where she belonged--here, at least, she could be more than the Herald's apprentice.
Jade looked at the dust that swirled up from her boot as she took a step. The threat now posing Naga Sadow would be just like this, rising up to challenge it, only to be stomped out by the will and power by the members of Naga Sadow. Yet something chilled down her spine. There was more to it then that. She sighed to herself, perhaps she was starting to become as detached and distanced as her mad man master. These wars, battles, seemingly almost meaningless...no...as though there was little challenge perhaps. As though the fight, the vengeance, didn't taste of the blood of those who dared challenge the Sadowians, but rather, like the bitter dry dust now staining her boots.
Her lip curled in a smirk as she thought about her reference to blood. Her brothers and sister in the name of Sadow would smirk at her. It was, if she recalled it right, something that Sai had said to her, a dental problem that wasn't as hidden as she thought. None-the-less, it felt like there was more to this battle, more hidden beneath the surface. And she felt this odd surge to meet up with her new QUA. She wasn't quite sure why, other than the obvious formalities, and the one that sent her...it seemed like there was more to it then that. And she was determined to find out what, as soon as the force and time allowed her to see.
As she walked she sensed something faint, something she hadn't felt in a long time. Normally the presence would send chills up and down the body of anyone who felt it, but to her it was almost...she wouldn't say family...but perhaps close to it. It was her Master, or he had been her Master. Before she had been called away, she had gotten more and more into the mysteries of Alchemy, recalling all the old books and holocrons she had secretly stolen away to read and learn from when Macron wasn't looking, and had started to seek out his teachings once again. She wondered how he would feel about that now. As a small breeze toyed with her cloak she felt the small surge. “Mirado, Jade… care to join the fun with me? The Taldryan dogs will soon be here with me and we can slake our thirst for their blood.”
She gripped her saber. She could use a good battle, and even more so, be with someone who could fight, who could make it interesting. At least with Macron the battle would be more then just a fight, and anything but boring. It would be a trap, a game, a game in which the players were tormented till they prayed for death.
Jade walked up to the scene of massed body parts. "My, My, looks like you still have a need to...leave a mark." She laughed and watched as the Madmans' suit turned towards her.
Jade put the hood down on her cloak and looked around. "Oh you know I couldn't resist this." She motioned with her hand. "I am a product of my...teaching after all." She winked and shot the man a pointed grin.
Ten klicks from the ravine
The Quaestor stood at the foot of a boarding ramp beneath the Vibre-class stealth transport that the team from Clan Naga Sadow had used to bypass the remote planet’s limited sensor network. The hemispherical dome of the ship’s central fuselage loomed above the Falleen like a colossal metal mockery of the Liannan kaefer beetles that had most probably inspired its design.
“Master,” the red-haired woman beside the Dark Prophet began, “it has begun.”
A sandstorm loomed beyond the nearby ravine, but red and green flashes of distant gunfire glinted in the sorceress's similarly bi-coloured eyes from where the Sadowan forces had already – if prematurely – engaged the neophytes who had come here to train in the desert of what was House Taldryan’s most recent worldly conquest.
Darth Vexatus did not need to be told this, and Sildrin Sadow knew that full well.
But it was not in the words she said that her meaning was to be found.
The Elder inclined his eyes toward his apprentice, but the grey-green Falleen said nothing. By the Dark Council’s own request, he may now have been the Quaestor of Shar Dakhan, but the Krath sorceress remained his true hand and voice, albeit her part in the grand design of what was to come required her to still walk the hallways of House Marka Ragnos. Between her and his other agents, his eyes and ears now spread far and wide, ever watchful, always present, waiting...
Neither of the pair had come to this desolate world filled with little more than ancient ruins and sand dunes for the glory or Clan Naga Sadow or to correct the affront to the legacy of the former House Ludo Kressh, even if Vexatus himself had long ago been that House’s champion. No, their goals ran much deeper than that, and the distraction provided by Keirdagh Cantor’s vendetta would prove a fitting tool to pursue their own ends. The Dread Council may have been gone, and its two masters now stalk the halls on Antei itself, but its legacy, its purpose, its goal remained:
The Dark Brotherhood would burn, and with it all those who stood in the way of the Final Order. That is what Trevarus had always believed... even if the Oracle himself had now been missing for two years, and the rift between Master and student having widened into a gorge that made the ravines of Jaguada look no greater than the dung heaps piled high by those same Liannan beetles.
Finally, the Dark Prophet nodded to what had been the heterochromatic eyed sorceress’s unspoken question. “Come,” the Elder said in his always distant voice, and he started toward a remaining pair of speeder bikes parked near the Vibre’s left landing strut, “let us walk the path long foretold.”
What had transpired all those years ago between Houses Archanis and Ludo Kressh had been but a prelude, what would come next the culmination of that trail of breadcrumbs that had been lain all those years ago when the first had been cast and fixed in place what now awaited, far out in the Jaguadan sands... and as the Quaestor now understood, just as Trevarus had always intended...
The sounds of battle were muted compared to the ringing of the blood in his ears as he drove the crimson blade of his armory saber through the neck of a nameless trooper. Most of the Dark Jedi seemed to have stayed back thus far, but he had moved ahead of the his own clan’s troops and straight into the Taldryan ranks.
He wheeled around to his left, catching a glimpse of his personal Zeltron guard, as she pulled the vibroblade from the stomach of one enemy while sending blaster bolts into the chest of another. He completed the half circle spin with his blade cutting into the back of another trooper. The smell of burnt flesh and dirt filled his nostrils as another of Naga Sadow’s enemies fell before him; fueling his bloodlust and sending the journeyman deeper into the free-for-all.
Fodder, he thought, as moved onto the next opponent. The trooper raised his blaster rifle as a dark smile crossed the Jedi Hunter’s lips, he could feel fear dripping off the soldier like saliva from a rancor’s jaws. Maelous lifted his lightsaber cutting the front off the the front of the blaster, then brought the blade back down through the troopers helmet. He stepped again, looking for his next victim.
This was almost all he lived for, the thrill of his own possible demise approaching with each step. With each swing of his lightsaber he set himself free, with each fallen foe he moved further away from the only real fear of life across the galaxy, that it would at some point end. The chaos of battle was a continuing reminder that he no longer had that fear.
He cut down another trooper and began to move on to the next when he was struck in the lower back causing him to tumble to the ground. The former Jensaarai landed flat on his back. He had let his mind wander too far, and now he looked up at the barrel of a blaster. He called upon the Force, as he often had, and prepared to spring out of the way when two bolts struck the looming trooper in the side of the head.
Jan-i moved to Maelous’ position, but he was up before she reached him, the crazed smile still on his face. The two exchanged glance before moving back to back and continuing the fight.
The right flank of the ravine was completely empty save for the presence of Rosh and the selected troops he had picked up to help him with his maneuver. Surprised and arching an eyebrow in disbelief, he saw how the other members of his Clan had exceeded his expectations.
Save for some strange members of Naga Sadow, most of them, following the individuality expected from any adept of the Dark Side, had chosen their own course of action, but even in their individual approach they were acting like a well trained unit, one’s actions covering another’s. It was surprising for the young Rosh, who was in a big skirmish for first time. He had underestimated his Clan brothers, an error he wouldn’t commit again.
While thinking on how much he had to learn yet, he observed one figure moving to his flank. He had memorized beforehand the names of all the members of the attacking unit, and identified him as Locke. “Good,” Rosh thought, “if Locke cannot see us that means the enemy cannot see us either.” Smiling at the idea of a good executed plan, he noticed the man going down the ravine.
A patrol of Taldryans was walking in Locke’s direction and it seemed that he had not notice it. Wondering what the man was planning, he decided to keep his cover and the one of his unit and wait to see what was going to happen.
When Locke and the Taldryan unit met, both started what seemed like a relaxed conversation. “A spy?” Rosh thought. No, it couldn’t be, the movements of Taldryan’s unit leader indicated a hostile position towards his Clan mate. Fearing the worst, Rosh made a silent signal to his small squadron to get ready for battle.
As the conversation between the Taldryan and Locke got more heated, the anger started to flow through Rosh’s body. Why was his Clan toying with them? Why the attack had not begun? He had learned that anger was a powerful ally, and embraced the anger and hate he felt to boost his control over the Dark Side of the Force.
When Locke turned around and started running up the ravine and the Taldryans opened fire on him, Rosh was already fully prepared. “Shoot to kill, I’ll help the one escaping,” he said to his squad as he jumped on the edge. As he was sliding down he took his lightsaber and ignited it, adopting his favoured form, Soresu, and letting his emotions explode to become faster and more aware of his surroundings.
While Rosh was sliding down the ravine, a newcomer entered to protect Locke. Recognizing him as one of the Elders, he smiled. He always wanted to see one in action to compare his power to theirs. He didn’t expect the savage telekinetic attack made from stones that Macron unleashed on the Taldryans and took quick note of how much he had to master the Dark Side before reaching to such level of power.
As he got to their level, he lowered his lightsaber and looked at them, smirking. “Seems that there’s no fun left for me here. I hope you don’t mind if I join you to help with the rest,” said Rosh, curious about Locke’s angry face.
"By all means, " Locke said, addressing the newcomer. He did not know this one's name. Locke glanced from Macron to Jade and back. The Adept didn't seem to harbor any immediate ill feelings for Locke, but he could never tell behind the facade. He couldn't, after so long. But he was a Sith. Does the Madman still hold a grudge?
Further thought was washed away as the Taldryan trainees were upon them. Blades flashed, but not all of them died quickly. There must have been at least some Equites among them as teachers. And they'll have reinforcements before too long.
Then the sandstorm reached the battlefield. Like a wall, it buffeted the combatants, drowning sound in a roar that threatened to wipe out other sound. It wasn't the kind to wash flesh off the bones, but it was bad enough without that. Dust cloaked everything. Choking, Locke shaded his eyes, blinking as he saw a red lightsaber flash by. It was almost as if he could hear mad laughter on the wind.
Seeing a blue 'saber shine dully out of the fog, Locke cut behind Macron's back, his own blade coming up against the other one. The Krath smiled as he felt his own weapon meet resistance at the base of the enemy blade, the blue bar winking out. Locke stumbled back on his bottom as another blade peeked out of the darkness at him, immediately extinguished as a violet one replaced it.
Fumbling on the ground, Locke felt cloth. He tore a dead man's shirt off and wrapped it around his head, ignoring the smell. He could almost breathe without the dust getting in his lungs now. He stumbled back to his feet, unable to see anything. A voice in his head - he wasn't sure if it were his own or not - crept into Locke's mind. See with the Force.
"Of course, " he muttered. Locke closed his eyes for a moment, before chopping his lightsaber down to his side suddenly. The blow caught an enemy trainee unaware. Weapon ready, Locke was already searching for more enemies - and his allies - as the man fell.
The journeymen charged toward the Taldryan trainees, but Roxas didn’t. He decided to wait until there was a worthy opponent. He puffed on his cigar calmly as he watched the battle unfold. The Sadowans had split into two fronts, attacking from both the left and right flanks. It worked well, the Taldryan forces were trapped in the ravine. All of a sudden someone came flying over the end of the ravine and landed behind Roxas. Force jump huh.. the Sith Sawn thought to himself as he turned around to see the unlucky fool that just signed his own death certificate.
“Damned Sadowites! You can’t stop me, I’m the best one here!”
“Best one here huh? We’ll see about that.” Roxas replied as he stepped toward him while gathering Force energy into his right hand.
The Taldryan trainee charged, swinging his saber. Roxas bobbed and weaved to evade the attacks while looking for an opening. The Trainee swung and over extended and Roxas took the opening. He stepped in and grabbed the man’s throat, choking him. With shear strength alone Roxas lifted the man off his feet. The man kicked his feet and struggled, but it was a waste of time. The Force energy gathered in the Mandalorian’s hand took form and Roxas released a Force blast, killing the trainee.
“So much for the best one here, you weren’t even a warm up.” The Mandalorian stated flatly as he tossed the carcass aside and went back to watching the battle.
There has to be an equite out there for training these weaklings
The jump jets on his boots ignited propelling him into the air. He tugged at his cloak to make it take form and he glided over the battlefield to find a challenge.
Ar'rik stood with his battle-group of Journeymen at the ready but when the assault group's cover was blown the majority scattered. Most of them racing in behind eager lieutenants untoward battle and glory or what they believed was battle and glory.
Ar'rik remained behind and watched the others of his class foolishly charge ahead towards the enemy's own Journeyman, only to meet their fate half way from the Taldryan artillery raining down upon them which originated from Equite grade Sorcerer's further ahead. Ar'rik tensed as he felt the same presence from before only much more intense this time. His momentary confusion allowing for a rather powerful Dark Jedi to appear before him with little notice.
Ar'rik was caught completely by suprise and he staggered back a bit awkwardly as he ignited his Armory Saber. He could tell by the ornamental beauty that adorned his opponents saber that he was facing an Equite level Dark Jedi and and by the color of his robes, that it was an Obelisk he faced.
"Well, well... What do we have here?" the Tally said as he drew his inactive saber from his belt.
"So tell me little one. Would you like to meet death quickly or slowly?" the Tally offered with an evil grin, "I'll grant you the mercy of choice since I'm in a rather good mood today." he said lightly swinging his saber hilt for emphasis.
"Your death, I would like fast. I've got other things to do today so I'd rather get you out the way." the young Journeyman challenged with a sheepish smile, still holding his active saber in form 0.
The Taldryan gave a hearty laugh, "To break in my new weapon little man, a quick death it is." The Taldryan raised the hilt over his head with both hands, in an attempt to add soem dramatic flair and clicked the ignition, a rather soft and watery pop sound was made and the saber never came to life. The Tally then lowered the saber and inspected it, a look of puzzlement on his face.
After a few moments Ar'rik couldn't help but ask, "Problem?"
The Taldryan began shaking his saber violently, trying to start it, "I don't understand, It worked this morning." he replied, his face grim as he looked at his latest and greatest malfunctioning award.
"Maybe it's performance anxiety?" the Journeyman jested.
Again the Tally let out a chuckle, "You, you are funny Sadowite. I'll give you that. Just for sport, I won't crush you like an insect with the force." the Taldryan smiled, "So, a martial arts duel then?"
The sandstorm had appeared from nowhere and Rosh was not ready for it. It slashed him with fury just after the words from Locke had escaped his mouth inviting him to join the fight. Without time to think about how useless blasters would become in this situation, Rosh started to choke at the beating sand. It was then when he decided that it made no sense to hide his presence anymore, and remembering his training sessions in the Shadow Academy, he focused to unleash all his control of the Force to decimate his opponents with the pillars of his studies.
“First pillar of the Force. Study how the Force works through you before studying how it works outside you.”
The first discipline he had learned was to control his body, and Rosh started working step by step. Closing his eyes, his breath became slower and he crushed the feelings of choking and the sand beating under his will. With the Force under his control, there was no sandstorm strong enough to stop him for fulfilling his mission.
“Second pillar of the Force. Study how the Force flows around you and permeates everything in your surroundings.”
The second discipline had taught the young Rosh to feel everything around him. Even with his eyes closed, he was able to feel the presence of his Clan member and those of Taldryan. It seems that everything was becoming chaotic, but he was focused and determined to do his part in the battle. Feeling danger from one side, he turned elegantly deflecting with his lightsaber a few blaster shots directed at him. Then he felt an enemy, not weak in the Force but certainly not more than a Journeyman. Still with his eyes closed, Rosh adopted a defensive stance raising his lightsaber over his head. A second later, a training saber was deactivated when the Journeyman from Taldryan attacked.
“Third pillar of the Force. Study how to change the Force around and within you and then all the powers of the Force will be at your reach.”
Rosh lowered his lightsaber spinning over himself, gathering a wave of energy in his free hand. At the time he was looking towards the Journeyman again, he unleashed the energy and the enemy was sent flying meters away. Boosting his speed through the Force, Rosh rushed forward to the journeyman and stabbed him in the chest with his lightsaber, killing him instantly. He was now between enemies, close to the center of the battlefield. Weak enemies, ready to be killed for the glory of his Clan. Flowing his saber form from Soresu to his second favored form, Ataru, he started spinning around his enemies, who were armed only with training sabers and other minor weapons. Unleashing all his rage over the battlefield, Rosh presence meant death to any Taldryan unfortunate enough to be close to him.
No one would escape the vengeance of Naga Sadow.
With his right thumb, Captain Vyyrs primed the baradium-packed thermal detonator he was holding in his hand and rolled the time delay to exactly three seconds; it would either work, or he’d be gone from this world and the outcome no longer matter. There, the Chiss muttered under his breath to himself as one of the Taldryanite trainees advanced toward him, the Togruta’s head tails partially hidden by the swirling cloud of sand and dust that had rapidly – perhaps too rapidly, the captain had felt – descended upon the ravine in the last few minutes, shortly after the fighting had broken out.
The Taldryan neophyte’s glowing purple armoury saber crackled as dirt and debris swam around it.
“Just one step more,” the Chiss whispered, waiting until he saw the inflamed, fiery red blood vessels of the Taldranite’s dark side infused eyes. And finally close enough. As the journeyman prepared to strike, confident that a mere mundane soldier would be no match for the power of the Force, Vyyrs relaxed his thumb muscle and suddenly rolled the baradium grenade in the Taldryanite’s direction.
It all happened so fast.
Drunk on the power of the dark side, the apprentice journeyman had been paying no attention to his surroundings, having left a litter of disembowelled or beheaded Sadowan fighters in his wake as the neophyte had surged through the battle zone, fuelled on the rage and fury of the Force.
But as Kalv’yyr’skora had seen time and time again in his long years as a warrior, first in the private guard of Astronicus Dlarit, now as a commander in the Sadow Warhost, so many of these Dark Jedi always forgot that there was more to a battle than who had the biggest laser sword or Star Destroyer.
And in Captain Vyyrs’s case, he may not have heard the whispers of the dark side, but he knew well enough how many of those who did always forgot that the Force alone did not make one invincible.
By the time the grenade clattered onto the sand between the Taldryanite’s legs, Vyyrs himself had already rolled away, diving for cover and having turned his back on the grenade, whereas the Togruta neophyte was still reacting to the sudden unexpected movement, the Taldryanite shaking his head, having to clear his mind of his blood fuelled rage in order to focus and inspect what the object was.
But it was already too late.
As Vyyrs dropped his head to the sand and curled into a ball, the baradium-laced device detonated, the flash filling the sandstorm as the Chiss felt the fire lapping against his back, warming the plates in the back of his armour. But what heat there was mostly went up vertically, disappearing into the swirling cyclone of sand.
An instant later, Vyyrs was on his feet again, but where the Taldryanite had been there was now only a softly glowing hole in the glassed surface of the freshly melted sand.
In the Ravine
Locke's motions were almost fluid now. Sand seared his face, clung to the cloth wrapped around it, but he had reduced that to a minor annoyance. He danced the Makashi art through the battle, flowing from one encounter to the next. Sometimes his opponent died; sometimes they disappeared in the storm and Locke found another, but always there was someone. He found himself half stumbling as his foot suddenly felt nothing. Lucky not to break a leg, Locke tumbled down a shrouded slope as ground disappeared under his feet.
Another step forward and suddenly the sand lightened considerably. Then another and Locke could see around himself. He was in the heart of the ravine now, near the middle of the melee. Chaos ruled here, 'sabers flashing and hissing as they met on every side. He didn't recognize those around him. Indeed, he had no time to watch them, as a Taldryan Dark Jedi rushed at Locke. The man yelled some battlecry, lightsaber swinging down from above. Locke raised his own weapon to meet it.
The lack of storm made everything feel easier. Grace. Be smooth, Locke thought. He parried, spinning the cylinder in his hand. He brought it down at an angle that sliced a thin line across his assailant's stomach. Wind still tugging at his clothes, Locke dropped the cloth from his mouth and breathed deeply.
For a moment, no one approached him. He turned his head, seeing a Taldryanite cut down one of his Sadow brethren. As Locke stepped closer, he noticed a smirk from the enemy Dark Jedi as he removed wrist and lightsaber from another Sadowan. As the man prepared to kill, Locke stepped to within five feet and yelled at the top of his lungs.
'Try me Tally! Come at me! Fight me you Taldryan dog!" He raised his lightsaber and charged forward, the Taldryanite spinning to meet it. Locke immediately found himself on the defensive, unable to get a counterattack in at all. After the trainees he had fought, this man was a true threat, an Equite, perhaps even one much more skilled than Locke. He certainly felt strong in the Force, but that did not mean he would win.
Face grim, Locke set to work. He would stand his ground. He would not falter. He would find a way to win. He had to win.
This fight had turned more into a jousting session than anything else, and so far it had done nothing more than grate on Syntari's nerves. Her original joy had vanished to be replaced by fatigue, which annoyed her, and anger, which annoyed her more. After sustaining yet another burn-by-lightsabre to add to her growing repertoire of injuries, she'd finally had enough. All of her fury at everything that had happened to her--all of the arguments with her Master, her beloved's death, her continued failure to surpass everyone that continued to rise above her--gathered into her core.
"Karking bantha fodder!" she yelled at her opponent. The Taldryan Journeyman cocked his lightsabre up and charged at full speed, all his attempts at finesse forgotten. She could see the rage on his face and could practically feel the bloodlust that lit up his eyes and accented all of his movements. If she had the power, she would have fed off of his emotions to finally end this game, but though she knew the theory, she did not trust the practice.
Watching him, her mind sharpened by her fury, Syntari had a sudden insight that she'd never experienced before. A flood of information entered her mind at once, and without warning she knew how to get out of this alive.
He's strong but not very fast, his energy is focused on 'how hard can I hit my enemy' versus 'how fast can I kill?', she thought to herself. Based on the angle of his lightsabre he'll strike...now.
Dodging to the right gained her seconds worth of an advantage, which as it turned out was all the advantage she needed. Unable to control his momentum, the Taldryan Journeyman lost his footing and by the time he whirled about to face her, he was too late.
No mercy, little one, her Master's voice rang in her head from memory. Her eyes flashed as she dealt the killing blow. No mercy, indeed.
Syntari's katana broke flesh, splattering her face and clothing with blood that steamed in the cool night air. Shoving his body away in disgust, she yanked her katana from his corpse and wiped the blade on his clothing, her expression impassive. Death was nothing new to her, and in any case, the kriffing Tal deserved it. Turning, she scanned the area and found she was alone, save for the evidence of other fights and the carnage left behind.
The lack of enemies--and, more importantly, allies--was not her only concern; no sooner had she taken stock of her surroundings did a sandstorm whip into action. It drowned out all sound, deafening her world even as it robbed her of all sight. Every curse word she'd ever heard rocketed about her head at once as the Bpfasshi knelt down and closed her eyes, ignoring the wind whipping her hair about and the sand threatening to choke her as she struggled to breath. She needed to get out, and she needed to do it now.
Hoping for the best, Syntari reached out with her pitiful Force powers and sought out the aura's of her allies, hoping to find some clue as to where they would have gone. Not for the first time, she wished she wasn't alone.
Far away from the battle at the ravine, the sandstorm still howled in the distant desert, and even the otherwise lifeless world’s pale skinned four-legged eopies had been forced to take shelter. Beyond one particularly impressive sand dune, a trio of the desert herbivores were presently doing just that, huddling together behind a quintet of orange-brown arenite stone pillars which marked the only feature of note for hundreds of miles. Between the weathered pillars, a large gabled archway poked up from underneath the sands.
Underneath which stood an oversized black metal door, large enough to admit an Imperial walker.
From the seats of two speeder bikes perched atop the overlooking sand dune, the Elder and his apprentice studied the forgotten entrance in a shared silence, no words needing to be uttered to translate the thoughts both could already read from the other’s minds.
They had found it.
The entrance to the lost lair of Darth Gravid, the Dark Lord of the Sith from five centuries earlier who had fallen... to the light side, and taken with him the Sith Order’s secrets, setting its research back more than a millennia -- some of the work still having not been rediscovered, even now. But despite Gravid’s efforts to bury the work of his forebears, there were some things that no amount of vandalism and desecration could purge for those who could look beyond this land of shadows...
And as the Dark Prophet stared down the sand dune toward the door, he detected movement.
It was the red-haired woman that spoke first.
“Taldryan...?” Sildrin mouthed, voicing the thought she had already had a few seconds earlier. But there was a distinct tone of uncertainty in her voice. Certainly, the Taldryan Elders had not been at the ravine, meaning they were either somewhere else on Jaguada -- like right there -- or else back on their homeworld of Karufr in the Kr’Tal star system at the other side of the galaxy...
But something was unsettling the Krath sorceress, just like it was unsettling the Dark Prophet.
This did not feel like Keirdagh or any of the other Taldrya, and Darth Vexatus was familiar enough with House Taldryan’s leaders from his own time back on the Dark Council to have sensed them...
The figure at the entrance to Gravid’s hidden desert retreat had his or her -- or even its, should they have been one of the galaxy’s more exotic alien species -- head shrouded beneath a heavy brown travelling cloak, and they were working the unseen mechanisms on the outside of the black door to unlock it. When they raised their arm, presumably reaching out with the Force to unclick some kind of hidden device either on the other side or housed inside the framework of the door itself, their hand glinted in the sunlight... reflecting the rays from its silvery surface, like a metal gauntlet. In the back of which shone a violet gemstone.
Although Darth Vexatus remained perfectly still, the sudden tension in the Force was unmissable. As usual, it was Sildrin that spoke. “Master Trevarus...?” the woman whispered, disbelieving.
The missing Oracle who had been gone since the outbreak of the Horizon plague two years ago.
Had they finally found him...?
Ar’rik nodded and then deactivated his armoury saber, a cool wave of relief washed over him upon the realisation that his form and skill would be no match for the Equite. He hooked the hilt to his belt and watched as his opponent did the same. The feeling of relief faded quickly as the Taldryan took his martial arts form, one Ar’rik did not yet know and again he realised he was at a major disadvantage. He willed the force to get him out of there.
~Come on, anything…~ he thought to himself, ~by the stars, Force take me to where I need to be.~ he pleaded with the universe hoping his fate was not to be here - so it could end. As if the universe replied, the winds around the two men picked up, the storm was quickly upon them. Before the Taldryan could launch his attack, a wall of sand and confusion stood between them hurtling dirt and debris at them.
The storm had grown more and more fierce by the second and visibility was next to nil. Ar’rik stumbled as he braced against the winds. He could not hear against the loud roar of the storm, or see against the blinding sands that attacked his eyes, nose and mouth.
As Ar’rik staggered trying to keep himself upright his foot found uneven ground and he fell, rolling down the side of a hill. As he lay down trying his best to overcome the elements, he realized something. He realized that the feeling from before was back. He rose with great difficulty and began using this new sense as a compass to give him direction. After some time of walking he sensed danger and before he could respond, he felt himself being forced down, “Get down, you idiot!” he heard clearly since the voice was right next to his ear.
How'd she'd found him through the sandstorm he didn't know but next thing he knew Arrik was crushed by 130 pounds of Bpfasshi. It seemed that she's leapt as if her life depended on it. A cerulean-blue Lightsaber wizzed over their heads and he looked up, "Thanks..."
The sandstorm had forced Roxas to land. He wrapped his cloak tightly around his face to keep the sand out as he dug in his belt for some goggles to shield his eyes. He lifted his bandanna from his right eye then slid the goggles on. He'd have to remember to keep it closed to continue the illusion of losing it. He needed the Sith symbols hid from everyone until Macron could explain to them what they mean.
The sand was thick, nothing could be seen outside a third of a meter. Roxas could still hear fighting, so that told him that some were wasting Force energy to see targets and continue the fight. He would have waited for it to pass, but a blaster bolt wizzed by him. He felt the heat of it as it passed. The san whisped in every direction making it impossible to see exactly where the shot came from.
"I see you Sadowite!" a voice called from the left.
"I smell you! Don't you people ever bathe?!" Roxas called back, taunting his new opponent.
The snap his of a lightsaber was the reply that the Sith Spawn received and he was fine with that. He ignited his own saber and headed through the wind raised sand toward the hum of his enemy. After a minute he could see the red glow of a saber. The two blades met quickly with a clash of sparks. The combatants eyed each other carefully for a moment before there was another quick clashing of blades. Suddenly the two rushed each other and the blades began to sing a song of war. Each blow was shunted, blocked, or locked as each blade cried for the other's blade. Blade skills weren't what was going to win this battle, but neither combatant was going to switch weapons because they were just having too much fun.
Edge of the Ravine Wall
The storm raged around the combatants with unabated fury. Stinging sand and grit blew into eyes, faces, clothing…. and none of it mattered to the Alchemist. Sight did not matter with the aid of the Force and a battlesuit. Within the helm he grinned evilly. This sort of environment was a natural for him. Sand did not penetrate his helm and nothing could be worse than the cold, hard vacuum of space or the furious heart of a damaged Vong reactor. He had experienced both.
The madman could sense Jade and Mirado nearby, as well as Locke, Sildrin, and … Darth Vexatus. His Sith Master was intrigued and deliberately let this be felt by his student. Any release of any information from the rotten Falleen was almost certainly a trap or machination. In that regard he was truly Sith. his teachings had percolated down through several generations of powerful Sadow brethren.
Jade, Mirado, and Macron had shepherded the Sadow forces nearby like black Angels of Death. Those enemies whom the regular soldiers and Journeymen could not handle in that area were soon cut down by the Sadowan Equites and Elder as they battle-melded together. Jade flanked left, and Mirado wove his own calculating havoc to the right among the dust-obscured crowd. It was a triumvirate akin in form to the ones of the Brotherhood’s earliest beginnings- Okemi, Taimat, and Ferran. Sith, Krath and Obelisk.
The Sadow Arch Priestess with the purple blade encountered twin enemy Human Sith. These were no mere Taldryanite Dark Jedi, but rather Sith trainees as evinced by the fear effect and hatred they radiated. The twins circled the Krath woman with sneers and taunts as they felt for each other within the Force. Their Fear did not work on Jade- at all. Knights they may be, but her will was stronger- or at least, unaffected by their abilities. Krath were known for their power of will and aptitude for alchemy and sorcery.
Jade pulled her hood down over eyes to keep the dust out and closed them. The Dark Side whispered to her of the onrushing men. The trick was to be able to discern which whispers were truth, and which were lies born of one’s own shadow self. The Krath heard the whispers clearly. At least today. They would die. She had foreseen it.
“Uhhhhghhharrgpplt ” *spurt*spurt* screamed one of the twins as he was brutally cut down by a flash of amethystine fire to his spine. He had closed on what he thought was Jade’s form distorted by the sandstorm and found he had struck at an illusion. This was his ruin. The twin felt the disconnect and screamed in rage as his brother’s black spirit found wings to the land of the Dead.
His own ragged death soon followed. The distraction he endured was enough for the Krath to feel her way to him with the Dark Side as her divinatory guide. A strong dagger of Corellian steel slit his howling throat ear to ear from behind. His howl of rage became a sad choking gurgle as he staggered. Another dagger slice to the femoral artery in his left leg and groin disabled him. He struggled to heal his wounds and staunch the blood. Almost immediately Jade’s lightsaber ignited again in a blaze of violet and removed his head.
Mirado on the other hand played a different game. The sand did not bother him much- he had no eyes. The Miralukan was a tactical K’thri calculator. The Obelisk had chosen an area near one of the ravine walls and cleared it efficiently. Twin vibroblades had neatly carved and sliced two Taldryan commandoes so far and more than seven trainees. His gymnastic maneuvers sped by the Dark Side made him appear to land exactly where a cut needed to be born.
The scene resembled a gory scene from some Feast of Dismemberment. Arms, legs, heads, various gobbets and giblets, raw bowels and organs lay in neatly-scissored steamy piles around the corpses. Each cut was the perfect masterfully executed length and depth with a clean edge. Cuts this clean took seconds to even start bleeding. The red blood seemed to well from countless invisible pores until the arteries began to pump in earnest gouts.
The assassin now faced a Wookiee of enormous size who seemed to need no sight as well. The beastly alien held a lightsaber of citrine hue. As the beast closed on him with Force-imbued speed, Mirado dropped the vibroblades and drew his own lightsaber hilt. The Obelisk’s adegan and diamond fueled ultramarine blade turned the beast’s enormous strength away in a deflective side-step and volte’ maneuver precisely. The Wookie turned with alacrity and defended with a Shii-Cho double-handed block and strike.
Shii-Cho was a natural for those of great strength. Unfortunately the Makashi and Soresu he faced was of equal skill, and the mind greater. Each of the beast’s powerful blows was dodged or turned aside. Mirado rotated and turned, always seeking to blunt the onslaught of the Wookie’s yellow blade without meeting it directly. The Obelisk sought and found an opening in his foe’s defenses. His blade turned the Wookie’s weapon hard to the right with a spinning deflection and return. The beast’s hands rose to deflect the attack with a strong double-block. Mirado kicked the Dark Jedi in the ribs with all the Force he could muster in an Acklay Strike. His boot-edge was reinforced with Sith alloys- and a poison spike.
The Wookie dropped to his knees as the combination drug and neurotoxic venom began to ruin his nervous system. His robust constitution fought the effect off with the Force but this took all of his effort. His reward was a smoking, neat hole directly between his eyes that neatly pierced his brain-stem. The walking rug dropped like a shot with nary a twitch.
Macron howled with gleeful laughter nearby. Now the Taldryans that betrayed him so long ago in the Wargames would be repaid in blood. Only two days into the campaign the Taldyra had turned on him as a new Consul. They would pay in coins of sanguine red.
The Sith Alchemist could Feel the vicious havoc his students were wreaking on their mutual enemies. Jedi believed that pride was a weakness. On the contrary, Sith saw it as needed. And today Macron was proud to see his former Apprentices perform so well, and so uniquely in battle. Each had absorbed the lessons, lived, served as leaders, and grew within the Force and their connection to the Dark Side. Soon, they would try and kill him. This was something to be proud of as a Sith. Today they were ruining the trainees of his old enemies and it was glorious. The Voices even stopped for a time as they often seemed to in the middle of combat.
His own battle had claimed some lives in the zone between the Obelisk and Krath. Unlike either of his erstwhile students, Macron delighted in creating the most wrathful, destructive, gory Hell he could wring from the bodies of his enemies. The ground heaved at them. Their own dead bodies were flung in sporadic telekinetic whirlwinds and waves that tore the living apart. One trainee was beaten to death with the quivering leg that had been recently cleaved from his squadmate. Another was crushed beneath a speeder-sized mass of granite rubble, offal, and body parts that leapt from spot to spot on a few needed occasions around the madman like a scarlet and grey concrete flyswatter. Still others had limbs severed by an orange blade of fire, or their heads smashed helmet and all by a gauntlet of Mandalorian steel, iron and the Force. Poison gas and acid sprayed from ports on his shoulders in the faces of one Apprentice, searing out the Zabrak’s eyes and caused him to convulse as his skin sizzled. In short, it was a bad day for some.
The lunatic looked up as new presences came into play. “Dark Jedi… and powerful have landed,” came his whisper to the Meld. “Finally.”
Bridge, VAC Turmoil
Taldryan "Territory", Juguada
The Taldryan had fought long and hard against the Jedi of Odan-Urr, or so they would have you believe. In reality, it appeared to have been a rather one-sided fight against the guerrilla tactics of the small group loyal to the light, at least in the Miraluka's opinion. Nonetheless, certain Elders amongst the Taldyran had decided to provoke the ire of the Sadowans in an unprovoked attack upon a relic once held dear to the Clan. While the times had changed and they Disciples of Sadow now followed the ideals of Marka Ragnos and Shar Dakhan, in the Clan's early days Ludo Kressh had disciples counted amongst them. As such the defamation of Kressh's tomb had weighed upon the Prophet, resulting in an abrupt conversation with the Clan's Proconsul. The Elder's anger was not as misguided as young Equite however, and there was much wisdom in his words resulting in Malik's agreement to take action. The unprovoked attack had shown that Taldyran thought themselves equals to Sadow's Clan, and they foolishly believed that there would be no ramifications from their actions, that they could blatantly taunt and mock the Sadowans without fear or provocation of retribution.
They were wrong.
The Clan had come out with what force they could spare, a small team of dedicated members to strike at the Taldryan itself; simply to show the House there was a price to pay for waking the sleeping Krayt. Aboard the bridge of the Turmoil, Methyas L'eonheart simply stood there, reflecting on the recent events. It seemed almost fitting for the Grey Jedi to be standing here, his own mind fraught with its own inner turmoil. Over the course of the last year, all they had known was war; conflict after conflict had dragged the Disciples of Sadow and the Brotherhood at large from planet to planet and system to system. Just as Taldryan had stirred the Clan to action, so too had the One Sith provoked the wrath of the Brotherhood.
In the past year, from the threats of the Horizon plague to the all the conquests the Brotherhood had made, one thing still seemed to eat away at Methyas, "Why does this madness continue?"
Sure, the answer could have simply been a need to thoroughly eliminate a potential threat, or even simpler still the allure and punch-drunk madness of the Dark Side itself drawing them deeper and deeper into the core of the Sith Empire's former space. But the answer itself appeared to be something entirely different as a nagging discomforting sensation continued to gnaw at the edge of the Miraluka's senses, a feeling which had been keeping him on edge since before the Crusade had begun. Despite this, the Jedi had given much for his Clan and the Brotherhood itself, his life had nearly been forfeit for the cause on numerous occasions now. Chief amongst these were the memories of the battle for the Avenger II, now Suffering, which caused the Miraluka's hip to groan out in pain. Rubbing at the awkward join between the cybernetic appendage skin absently in a feeble attempt to ease the pain, Methyas continued his private search through the Force around him, his mind plucking at the many strands that seemed to bind everything and everyone. His recent studies had drawn him away from the frontlines and away from where he could help the Clan in its goals of conquest in the name of the Brotherhood. Instead he had taken to the Holocron Centre's feeds and beyond; finding ways to discern information from the libraries, studies and ruins upon the planets they encountered after the fighting had moved on. The solace and seclusion seemed to be paying off as each day that passed began to give him more insight, more knowledge on the events, entities and objects which surrounded him. In turn, his grasp of the Force itself had grown vastly from this reflection and study, making him to realize just how little he truly knew compared to his Elders.
Since arriving on Juguada however, Methyas had shifted his attention and focus to the planet itself and Taldryan; his presence had been long overdue in rightfully assisting his Clan in their endeavors. In this surgical strike the Rollmaster had chosen to act as an aide and advisor to the Clan, a more fitting role for him, as they lashed out at their former allies. The thought caused the Miraluka to smirk lightly, how the alliance he had helped form with Tsainetomo had become so insignificant. The memories would have infuriated any of the other Disciples: how Taldryan had failed to come to their aid when the Plagueians and Palatinaeans had arrived on their doorstep, and how each time Sadow could use an ally, Taldryan was rarely ever there. While anger could fuel the Jedi's strength, so too could his other emotions, and anger often distracted or blinded you along the path to your goals. It was then that Methyas seemed to get a vivid response in his search, a singular strand standing out amongst the others he had been focused on.
"Hmm, now this is interesting...." the Miraluka pondered aloud as his mind began to trace the strange strand, following it to its source in a hope that he had found something they could use to weaken or exploit Taldryan's presence here and strike at their hearts.
The sandstorm that had suddenly appeared had caused the chaos Maelous so enjoyed to die down. Many of the troopers around him had stopped firing their blasters and wandered aimlessly looking for opponents that happened to get close enough to be in visual range. The Sith Commander had wrapped his hooded cloak around his face early on in the storm, but now he knelt next to one of his clan’s fallen soldiers. He pulled the dead man’s helmet off, took a deep final breath as he unwrapped his face and threw back the hood, and slipped the full helmet onto his head.
He stood slowly, now able to breath easy, and reached out through the Force again searching for his target. Just before the sandstorm Maelous had sensed a presence near by, and he had spent the time since tracking it through the wind and dirt. While he enjoyed the great melee he had been moving through, what he sought, was a more difficult opponent.
He surveyed the area briefly, but saw no sign of the Zeltron warrior he had lost somewhere in the whirling sand. He began to move again, reigniting his saber, toward the source of the presence. While the journeyman had grown use to having Jan-i as a reinforcement to his own strength; he was unconcerned for her well being. If she did not survive this encounter, it only meant she was not worthy to continue at his side.
He moved through the thick air much more easily now that he donned the helmet; he would have to craft one more to his liking another time he thought. He pressed on after the source, cutting down two more Taldryan troopers that crossed his path. The journeyman slowed as he approached the entrance to an underground structure. He stood before the open metal doors for a moment, and sensed the presence inside. He stepped in with his saber ready.
The Sith made an no effort to hide his presence as he moved into the large underground structure. He was about thirty meters from the entrance when he caught the flash of an azure saber blade to his right. He spun bringing his saber up to meet the attack with little effort. The blades clashed with a hiss before the Taldryan aggressor jumped back.
“Remove your helmet dog of Sadow!” a rough voice called to Maelous.
The Sadowan’s laughter cracked through the external speaker of the helmet as he removed it. The laughter ended abruptly as a dark grin crossed over his face. Maelous threw the helmet to the side and brought the saber down to a relaxed position, daring the man to attack. His eyes blazed with a deep furry as the Taldryan charged him. Their blades cracked and hissed as they connected again, he knew he was going to enjoy this.
Edge of the Ravine Wall
Jade took a breath and looked at the bodies near by. Oh that had been fun! It had been a long time since she really got to stretch out with both force and prowess, and it had felt good! Being away for so long, and...well she will call it "training" for now, had made her feel rusty...but she was far from that. She smirked at the carnage and glanced towards the flying remains landing every which way, macron was definitely up to his old tricks. He had changed slightly, his signature in the force seemingly different, almost as though he was waiting for something...death perhaps, but she figured her senses were running on high as it was. She was most curious to meet up with Darth Vexatus. He was close, and soon it would spiral a whole new direction for her, but that would come.
She turned towards Mirado and watched him fight, she was impressed. And was interested in his style, different form her own, but she could see how she might end up taking a piece of his style into her own someday from watching him. She would have to get to know Mirado better. She hadn't gotten the chance before. And who knows, perhaps Mirado, like Macron, may be able to help her in her...quest.
"“Dark Jedi… and powerful have landed,” Macrons presence shifted through the Meld. “Finally.”
She had to agree. "This was a nice warm up and all," she sent back through the meld, "But I was beginning to wonder when you'd attract enough attention to make this really fun."
Mirado added, "About time."
Jade kicked an indescribable body part. "You so owe me a new pair of boots after this," she shot Macron a look. "Or at the very least, if at some point you manage to spare someone, at least let me have him as a lacky. That way I can have him lick my boots clean." For a split second she thought she felt a shimmer of amusement come from Macron as he thought about his enemy licking the blood of his comrades off his former apprentice's boots. Hell he might just take a prisoner, and then kill him after they did it, just for the justice...or injustice, as the case may be.
Mirado stood and took stock of his surroundings. "Are we going to just wait here, or are we going to make them work a little?"
Jade liked the idea of setting a trap for the more advanced approaching them. Inviting the fly into the spiders web, so to speak. But action was far more fun.
It had been at least thirty minutes since the two equites started fighting, and the fight was already dying down. The two took a step back from each other as the sand storm waned. The Taldrayn panting as he wiped sweat from his brow. Roxas yawned and stretched to show he had grown bored.
"Damn you! Where are you getting this stamina?!" The Taldrayn cursed the Sadowan.
"You haven't figured it out? And here I thought it would be obvious. Well since you don't pose a threat now, I don't think it would hurt to tell you. I'm a Sith Spawn."
"You're a what?!"
"And you are out of energy to call on the Force." Roxas said as he charged his opponent. The White blade of his lightsaber held high.
The Taldryan Equite gave a horizontal swing in hopes to create distance, but Roxas evaded and cut the emitter off of the Dark Jedi's saber as he over extended. Roxas unleashed a flurry of melee attacks, punching and kicking the man until he fell out of consciousness.
"I'll let you live this time." Roxas said as he looked toward his allies on the cliff.
Looks like Methyas has arrived. I should check in, and then find Macron. The Mandalorian thought to himself as he ignited his jumpjets to close the gap between him and the cliff.
Endless dunes of sand slowly made their path across the vast desert of Jaguada. It was a quiet place besides the occasional howling winds that carried nothing but dust and sand. Sildrin’s boots sank deep into the loose sand as she stepped forward towards the entrance. Her whole body was wrapped up in thick layers of cloth and a heavy robe to keep away heat and sand. Along with goggles protecting her eyes she looked more like one of the mummified sand people. Only red strands of hair betrayed her. She hated the heat, the sand. It was the total opposite to her home - a planet ruled by ice and snow.
Now her red and green eyes stared with disbelief at the figure swallowed by the dark entrance of Darth Gravus’s temple. “Master Trevarus…,” she gasped into the cloth that covered her mouth. She rushed forward, but then looked around at Xanos. The Dark Prophet nodded once and they moved towards the entrance.
At the border between the blinding light of the desert and the darkness within the temple she paused. The Prophet did not hesitate to enter. The Sorceress’s eyes’ turned back at the desert. How often had she already crossed a line into the darkness. But oddly - never had the border been that clearly defined as this. Nowadays it all seemed to her more of a choice between grey and grey.
Her eyes adapted slowly as she followed her new Master deeper inside. Stone pebbles and collapsed walls showed the ongoing corrosion of the temple sanctum. Where is Trev? Sildrin wondered. Winds caused haunting whispers to echo through the temple. Voices were in the wind. Sildrin shuddered. A ghostly figure, robed and translucent, faded in. The ghosts of the past wander these halls, Sildrin thought. She recognised Darth Gravus who raised his arms and his ghostly cries filled the sanctum: “The Dark Side led history astray! This machinery of Darkness has to be destroyed.” The image collapsed, leaving only dust particles behind.
The Dark Prophet next to her continued to move into a side room, unaffected by the strange vision that just had occurred. Sildrin rushed to follow him. Her eyes gazed inside the room, but there was nothing but wrecked parts of an ancient machine. The damage was recent; time had not destroyed it, but it must have been a person as there were clear hints of the usage of a saber. Sildrin felt a short wave of disapproval wash over her. For a moment she was confused but then she recognised her Master being the source of this emotion. There was no notion on his face, but their mental link was too strong to keep this hidable.
The air flickered and parts of the machine on the ground rose into the air, re-attaching themselves to the machine - as if time went backwards. Another vision composed. A young man - attached to the machine - stared with raging eyes. Sildrin recognised those eyes, violet burning eyes. But it was not him that made her freeze - no it was the golden-black robed figure with a black hair tail. “Father…,” she whispered with trembling lips. She slowly walked close, trying to touch the golden figure, but her hand went through the illusion. Sadly she lowered her hand. It was merely a vision of the past - a vision that let her witness the birth of Shan Long by the doings of Chi Long and the machineries of this temple. Her new Master Xanos stepped up next to her. His interest barely focused on the persons but rather the machinery of the vision. Slowly the vision faded and Sildrin sank down onto her knees. She whispered: “I wish…. “
But Xanos paid no attention to her as he continued, trying to find anything of value for his own quest. The Krath sorceress got up to her feet, a last moment her eyes lingered where Chi Long and Trevarus -- or Shan Long -- had stood. Then she moved on into a side room. Her Master must have picked a different room as she found herself alone.
A small pedestal - illuminated by a bright beam of light - carried a red glowing holocron. “Ma…,” before she had uttered the word, a robed figured walked up from the shadows. A gloved argent hand rose towards the holocron. “Nooo…,” she gasped as an arc of lightning was hurled at it. She moved quickly towards it, trying to save it, but before she could reach it, it burst apart into dozens of small fragments. Her eyes widened as she realised they were flying right towards her face. The Krath rose her arms to shield her eyes as….. nothing happened. Slowly she lowered her arms, opened her eyes. It had been merely another illusion. Xanos appeared behind her, eyeing the robed figure behind the pedestal.
The robed figure lowered his hood, revealing the familiar face of Trevarus, his eyes seemed to gaze at the odd couple in front of him. His mouth formed ghostly words: “I know you will come to this place. I have foreseen it. I know you will seek the secrets I will have already found here long before you. I know you would be here right at this moment and that my vision of the past will reach you. How easy it was to make you err with an illusion of your victory over my secrets here. Hear this: These secrets are not for you, my Apprentice. They will be forever mine. You are my Apprentice. Forever.” And with that the vision of Trevarus faded. Xanos Sadow stared into nothingness.
Sildrin scowled; she hatred Trevarus’s arrogance. She sighed deeply, lowering her head. A glinting piece of metal in the sand drew her attention. A shard. She picked it up, holding it into the light to examine it. Suddenly the shard started to levitate… right into Xanos’s hand. She knew immediately it was a piece of the holocron Trevarus had destroyed months ago. Maybe this was a start.
Rosh had been parrying and striking far longer than he was used to, and he was growing weary of the battle, though the slaughter that Naga Sadow had unleashed over that place could be considered more a massive execution than a battle. His training had been one thing, but the real fight was way different than he had expected. Not harder, just more... exciting.
He had sensed more powerful Dark Jedi approaching, unidentified ones. Taldryans probably, trying to save the few journeymen that still lived. The battle was well over under Rosh’s point of view. As he lowered his lightsaber and relaxed his concentration, he started thinking about the outcome of the battle and the goals accomplished there. A good amount of journeymen dead, maybe a few equites… not much but a small hit to the pride of House Taldryan, though a good hindrance to the future of the House.
It was something that according to Rosh wouldn’t hurt much the Taldryans, but he was just following orders. Now, the more powerful foes arriving would probably fight against the elders and high equites of Naga Sadow and he knew that he was not one of them. Not yet. But he was not eager to leave a battle without any personal gain. What could he get from it was yet to be seen…
The Force gave him an answer as he sensed immediate danger and raised his lightsaber again, parrying a blow just at the moment another lightsaber was about to cut his head. It was not an equite the one carrying it though, not even a dark jedi knight, but just a mere apprentice who had grabbed one of the fallen weapons from the battlefield and was desperate, driven by his anger and desire of revenge. Rosh liked that.
Unfortunately for the journeyman, he was no match in the Force for the young but gifted Nyine, and the recently elevated equite used a few simple tricks to deactivate the lightsaber of his opponent and throw him away with a Force blast. Walking at him, Rosh thought on what he had been learning in the Shadow Academy a few days before his departure from their installations. Sith Alchemy, a science that he had just only started to understand, was one of the subjects that had caught most of his attention. The fallen journeyman, still alive, would be a perfect test subject to experiment, and who would complain about it? Turning his walking pace into running, he delivered a hard kick on the head of the journeyman as he reached him, rendering him unconscious.
Grabbing the Taldryan from his waist, he put him on one of his shoulders and started walking towards the shuttle that would take the Sadowans away from the battlefield. Rosh had expected to get a lightsaber as a small memento of this victory, but a prisoner was much better. Smiling to himself, he started enjoying the macabre ideas crossing his mind about the fate that his prisoner was going to suffer.
Roxas approached Methyas, who was busy coordinating Sadowan forces into a unified force against the Taldryan trainees. Roxas waited patiently until the Miraluka had a moment to speak.
"Roxas I sense darkness on you." The Miraluka said implying it as a question of what's been going on.
"Old habits are hard to break, but I've been doing my best."
"I can see that..." Methyas replied "What happened to your eye?"
Roxas lifted the eye patch to show the sith symbol as he spoke "Once the Force bond broke the alchemy finished it's job. I don't know what it stands for or what has changed."
"Interesting, how did you break the Force bond?"
Roxas returned the eye patch to it's place then explained the details of defeating Crissor and his apprentice. The two talked for a few more minutes of the recent events and then about logistics of defeating the Taldryan forces. Roxas looked back toward the fighting and could see that the fighting would soon be over. The day belonged to Naga Sadow.
The Dark Prophet rolled the surviving shard from the holocron over in his hand. Trevarus had been one step ahead of them the entire time. From the plundered archives of Sorzus Syn on Nfolgai, to the already looted tomb of Vodal Kressh back on Athiss, the answers that Darth Vexatus had been seeking had somehow continued to elude him on each world he and his apprentice visited. Now he understood why. The errant oracle had already seen what was to come of Ashen’s Crusade...
The surface of the broken shard still softly glowed with a lingering fragment of its memories...
Footsteps echoed through the antechamber, followed by more voices as torch light flickered in from the main hall, dancing across the walls and the broken remains of the pedestal that had once housed the lonely holocron that Darth Gravid had ordained to leave behind.
As the Dark Prophet peered into the glassy surface of the shard, the red-haired woman who was with him turned her own heavily shrouded face back toward the entrance. “Another vision...?” Sildrin asked, listening closely, trying to make out the voices as the footsteps thudded nearer.
“Filthy Sadowan tomb robbers,” a male voice growled, “why did the catacomb never open for us?”
Darth Vexatus lifted his eyes from the holocron fragment and turned back to the antechamber entrance as well. Both of the pair could recognise that voice. It was the man whose actions had made possible this whole expedition -- albeit under the lie of seeking retribution for his actions.
Clad in his trademark red flightsuit, Keirdagh Taldrya Cantor stepped into the entrance, flanked by a heavily armoured quartet of Taldryan special forces. The Dark Jedi Master’s green eyes briefly took in the room, and the red-haired sorceress, before settling on the other Elder in front of him.
“What a surprise,” Keirdagh sneered slightly beneath his bushy beard. “Jac said you’d come.” The Dark Jedi Master’s left hand wrapped around the sapphire hilt of a blade fixed to his flight suit’s left thigh plate. “The apprentices at the ravine are of no value. Do not think your victories there significant.” The man’s sneer grew even deeper. “No Sadow would best a true Taldrya.”
Behind the Falleen, the sorceress’s red and green eyes were alert for any sign of danger, but the Dark Prophet himself remained characteristically indifferent, and simply looked down at the broken fragment from the holocron in his hand again. It was no great surprise to learn that the former Grand Master had foreseen the confrontation in Darth Gravid’s desert retreat. Vexatus had, after all, once been Cotelin’s Shadow Hand... until he realised the Star Chamber’s betrayal.
Looking slightly frustrated that his goading had yet to receive any response, Keirdagh’s own eyes followed Vexatus’s to the shard. The Taldrya’s eyes widened with a look of annoyance and his face shot back up to glare at the seemingly distracted Dark Prophet. “Give that to me,” the Taldryan Aedile growled. “Jaguada is the property of House Taldryan. That artifact belongs to us.”
The sorceress behind Vexatus exhaled derisively. “Like the relics on Rhelg that were the property of Arcona?” Sildrin remarked, raising her eyebrows as she referred to the tombs of Ludo Kressh that the Dark Jedi Master had defaced, despite that planet having been claimed by the Arconae.
Although the Taldryan Elder himself simply snorted and gave no response, the four commandos with him had begun spreading out, moving to flank the two Sadowans on either side. Keirdagh, however, let go of the Sapphire Blade clipped to his thigh and raised his empty hand, silently signalling the Taldryanite soldiers to stop. “I will handle this myself,” the Sith Master added after a moment, and waved for the troopers to leave as he unhooked the electrum decorated lightsaber hilt hanging from his waist, “I can handle this arcane hermit and his pet witch.”
Sildrin’s lips curled into a sneer and she started toward Keirdagh -- but the Dark Prophet raised his own hand for her to stop, even as her hand continued to crackle with the electrical energy she had already begun to conjure. An unspoken thought passed between Master and apprentice in silence.
A snap-hiss greeted the activation of Keirdagh’s golden lightsaber.
“Just like old times,” the Taldrya began mockingly, sneering again, “I always was the better fighter, Xanos. Let’s just get this over with, then we can finally put this feud to an end.”
The man brushed his blade across the floor, causing the rubble and broken pieces of the shattered pedestal to hiss and spark, before he then kicked the red-hot glowing debris up into the Dark Prophet’s face. The man then pounced, springing toward the Falleen, who had still not so much as raised a lightsaber of his own. Instead, the Sadowan Quaestor just continued standing there, even as Keirdagh’s golden blade soared toward him, driving forward, straight for the Elder’s heart...
Even the great Son of Taldryan had expected more fight from his old rival than this.
It was all too easy.
Far too easy, in fact.
Keirdagh’s blade struck the Dark Prophet... and passed directly through without any resistance, the Dark Jedi Master promptly following, lurching through where Darth Vexatus had just been standing, right into -- and straight through -- the phantom witch who had been standing behind.
The Son of Taldryan snarled a curse. “What sorcery is this?!” Keirdagh shouted, angry. “Stand and face me like a warrior, you coward!”
“If that is what you wish,” it was Sildrin that answered, and like a cloud of smoke, the Krath sorceress coalesced back into form in front of where Keirdagh had now ended up. The woman’s own twin purple blades already ignited and crossed before her in a defensive guard.
Keirdagh charged -- only to pass directly through the illusion a second time.
The dance played out a third time, every time the Dark Prophet and his apprentice reappearing elsewhere in the small antechamber, as the increasingly enraged Taldrya charged and struck, but never managing to land a blow, always striking at shadows, always a step behind the two ghosts. Unlike the man who had once been an Admiral of the Empire, a devoted starfighter pilot, Vexatus and Sildrin were both masters of illusions, of lies and deceit, and not straight up honest warriors. His weapons were of steel and storm, but they were no match for the illusions he was now facing.
It was clear the Son of Taldryan was tiring of the sorcerers’ games and the walls began to shake, the debris littering the floor clattering across the sandy tiles, as he wrapped the dark side around himself, his body arcing with blue-white veins of electricity as he began randomly striking out.
But every attack missed. There was no response to predict. No retaliatory strike to foresee.
“Taldryan will not forget this,” Keirdagh growled, “Arcanis will one day have its revenge!”
But the two sorcerers had already gone.
** RUNON HAS ENDED, ANY FURTHER POSTING WILL BE DISQUALIFIED FROM JUDGING/CREDIT **