A read-only archive of discourse.darkjedibrotherhood.com as of Sunday May 01, 2022.

[AFoC] Official Event Fiction



Dread Throne Room
38 ABY

Rarely was the chamber of the Dread Throne ever packed to the gills with subjects, and rarely was a holocam trained on the throne itself. Specifically, two hover droids were suspended high in the room, buzzing almost sweetly, their lens honed on the individual standing upon the dais. Beside her, a few steps down, was TuQ’uan, whose face was stoic behind his mask. He had not been told what the Dread Lord’s announcement was - only that it was important and required messaging to all those aligned with the Ascendant Clan.

Within the small crowd were the usual suspects: Scudi Ferria and Gaius Julius Caesar, leaders of House Tyranus, flanked TuQ’uan on the right, though they stood on the floor and not on the dais. Caesar leaned on his cane heavily, his stark green eyes blazing like the strange emeralds they were. Ferria, meanwhile, kept her arms tucked behind her back, attempting to ignore the scrutiny by those who were purists within the legions of the clan’s Sith. To the right of TuQ’uan, Tahiri Thorn Morte Tarentae stood in front of a gaggle of newer members of the clan, those novices of the Force and trainees of the Willing, and some within the lower ranks such as Nash Himura, Sarai Andromeda, Myrkal, and Jarron Quorr. Lokast Falls, apprentice to the Dread Lord, held special status and was identified separately from the “newbie” squad.

Familiar faces, otherwise, could be found across the swarm, those who had rooted themselves to the clan and stayed put: Khryso Mallus, Brimstone, Ahsik Warren, Oric Ral, Abadeer Taasii, Zuser Whuloc, Azmodius Equesinfernum, Furios Morega di Plagia, Tra’an Reith di Plagia, Andrelious J. Mimosa-Inahj, and more recently, a newcomer allied with the Royal Guard known as Vaeril Aeraeth. Octavia Morgan Obrie had also returned to the clan, and just in time, too. Notably, however, certain recognizable members of Plagueis were missing. There was a clear link, however: All of those absent (save for Arden Karn, who was still on Ord Mantell) were allegiant to Opress Squadron. And all of them had been enlisted for the first move, set in motion, in the game of chess that the Dread Lord was so willing to play.

After all, Ronovi Tavisaen was not just a soldier, nor simply a fighter, nor a mere pitiful drunk. She was a scholar, a tactician, and in many ways, rather brilliant. And as an individual who had immersed herself in dark lore that burned as nicely as whiskey, she believed in exacting vengeance against anyone who wronged her and the clan; after all, an empire was always mandated to strike back.

Now, however, it was unclear whether her decree would end up proving said intellect or further tarnishing it in the eyes of those beneath her.

“Plagueis,” she began in a cold, yet loud, voice; she knew how to project very well, and she had previous Consul experience to thank for that. “For years, we have focused on one sole enemy: The Collective. Now, however, we set our sights on a new foe. Those who dare to harm the clan and its members must be made aware of our strength and wrath. In the face of bold and defiant aggression, we have no choice but to strike back, and hard.

“Thus,” she continued, “I hereby decree, as Dread Lord of the Ascendant Clan, that Plagueis shall declare complete and total war on Clan Vizsla, and meet them on the field of battle on the planet Zsoldos. All the Ascendant Fleet shall be engaged. The Ascendant Legion shall be responsible for the ground assault. Our mission: To annihilate those mercenaries who have chosen to harm and anger our ranks.”

There was a distinct rumbling that traveled like falling rocks through the crowd. It seemed clichéd, but there it was; a swell of voices, incoherent words tumbling to the floor, a hum and a whirr and a thrum of confusion and pleasure and disdain and glee and outright hatred. Ronovi had expected some Plagueians to disagree with her unanimous order; what she had not anticipated, however, was that the main source of frustration would come from her own Wrath.

“Let me make perfectly clear to everyone here,” he buzzed through his mask, his voice tinged with a sardonic tone, “that the Dread Lord has decided to declare war without consultation and without informing those directly subordinate to her.”

More scattered vocal reactions, guttural utterances that meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. Meanwhile, Ronovi could feel the veins bulge in her forehead, the heat swelling at the tops of her cheeks and around her nose. She had never sensed, not even using the Force, that TuQ’uan Varick was capable of talking back to her. And he had. Uncharacteristically, he had.

“Varick,” she warned. “I would hold your tongue in the presence of your superior.”

“Yeah, shut it,” Lokast snapped beside her. “You don’t talk back to a Sith like that.”

“Careful, Falls,” TuQ’uan chided. “I may not be a Force user, but I am your Wrath.”

“And I am your Dread Lord,” Ronovi cut in, icily, her voice full of both phlegm and fury. “And the Dread Lord declares war.”

And that was that. Scudi did not argue; nor did Caesar. They knew their roles, and they were silent. Wrathus, had he been there, would have been likely threatened to tear TuQ’uan limb from limb and reassemble his dismembered body like an abstract sculpture. Tahiri, cautiously eyeing the Wrath, looked perturbed by his outburst as well. How had this decision, out of all the other decisions Ronovi had made, affected TuQ’uan the most?

TuQ’uan, in the meantime, said no more. He had been at a breaking point for months already; now the cracks in his calm demeanor were beginning to form.

Abandoned Ship
Somewhere in the Unknown Regions
38 ABY

Appius Wight was on edge.

He had received the IFF on his personal ship, an M3-A Scyk fighter, very early in the morning, when he had decided to tinker with the hyperdrive and ensure that it was purring smoothly. It had come from an unknown vessel, but the information he had gathered later, using the tools that Vizsla provided him, was very clear. An unidentified vessel, somewhere beyond Zsoldos, had docked along a space station on neutral lines within the Brotherhood’s dominion. According to the data, it held approximately two thousand slaves - slaves. Ready to be carted off to the Outer Rim.

The very thought of enslavement made Wight’s blood boil. He had been the founder of the battle team Deathwatch, and its purpose was very clear: He would not tolerate violations of his light side tendencies. He had reported it all to Montresor, who had signed off on the mission, and Deathwatch, now led by Kano Tor Tydex, was setting coordinates according to the IFF, heading over to save thousands in bondage.

Appius had decided to accompany Deathwatch to the unnamed space station, only because he believed that Tydex could use the support, and in the back of his mind, a niggling sensation of dread lingered like pins and needles. The recently appointed Aedile of House Wren was well aware that a set-up like this could be a trap, though arranged by whom, he wasn’t sure. He had not exactly been filled in on every happening occurring within Vizsla; he hadn’t had enough time yet. So he followed his doubts and anxious ruminations and flew with the battle team. Kano didn’t mind, so long as his decisions as battle team leader were not challenged or questioned. He was, after all, confident, though not to the point of arrogance; in short, he knew what he was doing.

The entirety of Deathwatch - Rajhin, Mauro Wynter, Dral Falgorth, Hector Ricmore, Trenkyp Zkig, Kade Ra, and Katropolis - descended onto the space station from their personal ships, the artificial atmosphere forming a bubble around the area as they circled the slaver vessel. It was a basic bulk freighter, Baleen-class, and did not appear to be broadly patrolled or guarded. This immediately set off klaxons in both Appius and Kano’s heads. They both gesticulated for the team to stay back a few paces; Appius drew his WESTAR-35 blaster pistol, while Kano had his Reynolds DE-21 slugthrower at the ready. They were equipped with a lightsaber and murder axe, respectively, for melee purposes.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Appius hummed through his helmet to Kano.

Kano nodded, his long braids flopping about as he did so. “Head toward the port side. We don’t want anyone getting caught in possible gunfire.”

“Roger roger,” chirped Appius in reply, imitating a B1 battle droid.

“You’re a nerd.”

“Never one to sugarcoat,” grinned Deathwatch’s founder. “I like it.”

The team was right to avoid the turbolasers, for they would have gone off rapidly had the Mandalorians approached from the front. However, what awaited them on the port side was not much better. Before anyone else could react, a slew of blaster bolts cascaded as if from the heavens, spraying the durasteel of the space station and lighting it up in dots of orange and red. Cursing loudly, Appius grabbed his lightsaber and activated it, using his mastery of Niman to bat away any remaining fire. Then, tapping into his Force bank, he trained his “eye” on whomever, or whatever, had initiated the assault. What he perceived, to his surprise, was not what he had anticipated.

Wrathus felt the signature of other Force users, the uncomfortable pressure of the light side, and it pulled him to his feet. He stood alone in the hold of the *Instigator.”

“Take the ship down to fifty meters,” he said into the ships comm, adrenaline already coursing through his body. “And when I exit, open fire on our targets and then deploy the rest of the squadron and hold at fifty.”

“When you exit, my lord?” the Instigator’s captain asked.

Wrathus did not respond. Instead, he overrode the in-flight safeties and pushed the button to open the side hatch. As the door slid open, and the artificial atmosphere poured in, redolent with the stink of a perceived peace, he let anger fill him.

The ship descended to fifty meters. Below, the spaceport clung to the side of the asteroid like some great insect, with many smaller “insects” crawling over it. But he perceived the presence of his target as clearly as he would have if he had been standing an arm’s length away.

He stepped to the doorway, drew on the Force, activated his lightsaber, and leapt out into the air.

A roar, heavy with hate and rage, pulled Appius’s gaze skyward. A man descended like a meteor. His cape flew out behind and over him, a comma of darkness, and he held a lightsaber in a two-handed grip. Power went before him in a wave of visible distortion. The ship out of which he had leapt opened fire once again.

Appius fell fully into the Force, raised his defenses, took a fighting stance, and deflected the blaster bolts that came his way. He leapt back and out of the way of the man’s two-handed slash. He landed in a cocoon of power, hitting the ground in an explosion of might that shattered the ground around them and sent chunks of stone flying.

As he landed, the Mandalorian looked around and watched as six, ever increasingly dangerous looking characters stepped out from various hiding spots. An impressively tall Epicanthix stepped up, wielding a blue saber with a confident smirk. He was flanked by a Pau’an with a red blade and a bronze-headed woman, who was casually twirling a red saberstaff.

A light brown Cathar stood behind a young Zabrak, the latter of whom was excitedly gripping the shiny new hilt of a yellow lightsaber. And the hulking monstrosity of a Shistavanen leapt down from a nearby stack of durasteel boxed cargo, all black fur and glowing red eyes. Add in the claws and fangs, and he looked more predator than man.

Appius brought his attention back to the man who’d dropped from the sky. He watched him straighten up to his full height.

Fracking hells, I didn’t think there were many people of Rajhin’s height. And these guys have three all around there.

His eyes met with the “eyes” of the man. Two red slits stared back at him from the helm. The anger he radiated was tangible to Appius, made the air feel greasy, polluted. Suddenly, two jets of vapor shot from the red sections on either side of the mouth piece.

“It’s amazing how easily you fell for our bait.” His voice unnerved Appius; it was as if three or four people were all speaking in unison. And each one sounded more insane than the others.

In an instant, the Aedile of Wren finally put an answer to that bad feeling he’d had this whole time. He let out a long, disappointed sigh.

“This was a trap. My guess is that you lot are the ones who leaked the info about that slaver ship. And based on your appearances, and the popularity of that emblem on your cloak, I’m also going to guess that you are from Clan Plagueis.” Receiving no indication to the contrary, he continued. “Well, that answers the who - what I don’t know is the why. If you wanted to kill us, why didn’t you just blast us from space?” He gestured to the ship hovering overhead. “Or am I reading your intentions wrong?”

The Plagueians all chuckled at his question. And the leader spoke.

“Oh, no, we are here to kill you. There’s just no fracking way I’m not doing it myself.”

Now it was Appius’s turn to laugh. “Oh, well, I’m flattered,” he said with feigned bashfulness.

“That’s great, now enjoy being ‘flattened’!” Wrathus gestured with his left hand, and a nearby power pylon came crashing towards Appius.

The Mandalorian reacted just in time to catch the falling mass with the Force and stop it from smashing him into paste. But when he tried to push the pylon away from himself, he found it intent on crushing him. Glancing back at the Sith, he saw him standing with his hand outstretched. With some grunting and groaning on the part of both parties, it wasn’t long before they realized that this wasn’t a match either was going to win.

Appius smirked, let his grip go, and dodged to the side of the falling pylon, barely avoiding disaster. He hurled his own lightsaber at the Sith, who savagely batted it away and shouted to his compatriots.

“Savages! Kill them all!”

With a howl, the Plagueians charged the members of Deathwatch as they regrouped on Appius, who recovered his saber with a flick of the wrist. Kano, meanwhile, was also ready. He had the team swarm around the “Savages” as if forming pincers, then raised his axe in order to bury it into the head of the nearby Shistavanen. In response, the beast snarled and swung his clawed hands, which forced his opponent to sidestep as well as duck from the lunge of the woman with the saberstaff.

Meanwhile, the rest of Deathwatch had their own skirmishes to manage with the claustrophobic muddle of close combat. The Zygerrian Ricmore was utilizing both his Bryar and his stiletto to keep the Zabrak at bay, remembering his Imperial Martial Arts training while also attempting to avoid the worst consequences of the Dark Jedi Knight’s Force powers. Zkig, a mere Kel Dor Padawan, and Katropolis, a Neophyte Togrutan, both relied on the Togorian Rajhin to support them, as they used sabers, swords, and daggers to fend off the unhelmeted Epicanthix. And Wynter, bronze-skinned and pearly-eyed with no pupils, provided blaster cover for Falgorth, whose repeating blaster cannon ripped up sheets of the durasteel spaceport’s bay and left large, angry scars. But despite the shouts, the clashing, and the heavy property damage, it was an almost entirely even fight on the ground. Neither side would give.

After a few more minutes of melee that went nowhere, the man in the helmet stepped back, breathing harshly, the vapor from his visor looking more like angry gray clouds now. Beside him, his “squadron” stood in offensive positions as the two teams squared off, though it was clear that exhaustion was taking its toll on everyone.

“Well, this has been fun,” intoned Appius in between deep inhalations and exhalations. “But tell me, will it go anywhere?”

“I wouldn’t get cocky,” growled the leader of “Savages.” “You may have ground control, but we have the aerial superiority. Now, you have a choice: Withdraw from these shipyards, or get blasted from orbit by our Corvette.”

Kano couldn’t believe what he was hearing. A low laugh rumbled from behind his thick beard. “If your plan was to bring us here just to scare us away,” he sneered, “I heavily question your caliber as a strategist.

It was now the helmeted man’s turn to laugh, and it sounded even more disturbing than his voice, like a choir of deep-throated demons were chortling. “Fools,” he retorted. “You think we brought you here just for fun? No, Vizsla, killing you was only Plan A. Plan B was merely distracting you.”

Appius’s eyebrows shot up beneath his own helmet. Distracting them from what? It was only then that he felt the vibrating of his commlink against his hip. Amidst all the chaos, and all the fighting, he had forgotten he had it. And the transmissions he had missed were more than urgent. Stepping back, he pressed the proper button and heard his Quaestor’s voice bellowing through the link.

“Wight, answer me! The Ascendant Fleet is descending on Zsoldos! We need you back with Wren now!”

And that was when it all dawned on him: Without Deathwatch there to assist, war had begun between his clan and Clan Plagueis.

Wrathus laughed again, a hollow, raspy laugh. “And that would be our cue.” He signaled for the Corvette to descend. “Opress Squadron, it’s time to leave. And remember: mercenary heads are worth one point, Mandalorian heads are worth twenty, filthy grey path walkers, fifty. And if you kill any miserable, odious, cowardly, full-fledged Jedi garbage…you win! We’ll see you all very soon, on Zsoldos.”

At this, he and his troops boarded their ship and swiftly departed the station.



Roark-Cole-Tresor Research Station
38 ABY

Rulvak could feel the death and anger emanating from the same direction in which the sound of blaster fire roared in the distance. What remained of Plagueis’ first wave was fully engaged with what was left of Vizsla’s defense. The two Warlords continued along the sidelines of the battle along what few trees there were in order to mask the only thing that was giving away their presence, their footprints.

The Quaestor, in a previous time, had to deal with communications before in order to cause the chaos that was now being imposed on his forces. Although it was a larger station and he was only destroying their relays then, it should be fairly the same with finding a small jammer. At least that was what he thought to himself as he continued looking for any sign of what that might be. Rajhin, who was on his heels ready to pounce on anything or anyone that crossed their path, broke the silence.

“We must be getting close.”

“Why would you say that?”

Rulvak had been in his head, focused on the target and his troops, and planning what little he could salvage from the current situation.

“Here’s the rest of them.”

Rajhin spoke as they each crested a rather large snow bank which revealed the other three quarters of the Plaguean army. Hearing what they brought and seeing it were vastly different. This made their second objective all the more important to get done sooner rather than later. Rulvak continued to scan the field before he rested his eyes upon what was unmistakably a communications jammer. Not exactly what he expected it to look like, but it stood out like a sore thumb. Luckily, it was on their side of the enemy forces, and wasn’t too heavily guarded.

“There, Rajhin. Take the enemies on the left, I’ll take the right. I’ll have to insist that you keep a lookout as I slice into their systems and dismantle it from within. We must maintain stealth, or we are as good as bantha fodder.”

“It’s about time.”

With four guards surrounding the signal jammer, the two had to split their targets to two each. Fortunately, sudden quick kills from the shadows were their forte, as all four enemies were silenced immediately. Rajhin taking the time to get one clean cut from ear to ear on one, and gutting the other before he could react from the belly up to the chin. Meanwhile, Rulvak stood equal distance between the other two and made two quick simultaneous thrusts, one from each hand, through their hearts. He then turned to the jammer. It wasn’t long before the half-Sephi was in the system and shutting it all down while creating little passwords to prevent the enemy from getting back in.

“That should do it,” he said as the audible humming from the device gradually faded into nothingness.

“Good. They will know we’ve been here,” Rajhin said as he peered around at the bodies that lay around them.

He then thrust his dagger into the now dormant machine, striving to further complicate any attempts that might be made to turn the machine back on.

“That should do it.”

“Right. Let’s get out of here,” Rulvak stated plainly before they both vanished yet again, moving back from whence they came. Once they reach a safe distance from the device and enemy forces, he could hear chatter over the comms.

“Everyone, comms are back. Please keep channels clear as we unfrack this situation - Break Break - Appius, the rest of the enemy forces have begun moving towards the research station. Salvage what is left of our equipment, and help any members that you can to get out. Make it quick.”

“Yes, sir!” Appius’ voice could be heard just barely over the blaster fire that was clearly on top of them.

He was relieved to hear what sounded to be Dral’s voice in the background talking with Kano. Rulvak swapped to a different, secure channel.

“Kalan, it appears our target is leading the second wave. I suggest gathering the research and intelligence, then focusing on a full retreat to a safe distance. Timer or remote activation, this will be our chance.”

“Copyall. See you soon.”

The half-Sephi caught up to the Togorian, and they continued making their way to the fallback rendezvous point.

Kalan rose from his over watch position and began moving towards the Roark-Cole-Tresor research facility. The smell of burning metal and residual proton burn from the artillery barrage wafted over him as he approached the building. At least six of Plagueis’ slave forces were standing guard outside the main door.

One on six. That’s fair.

“Snipers. In position. Six hostiles at facility entrance. Time your shots.” Kalan barked into the open comm.

Seconds later and without a sound, the six slaves dropped dead on the spot, leaving only a red stain on the facility’s durasteel outer wall.

“Good shots. Moving to facility.”

Kalan moved quickly to the facility door and punched in numbers on the comms panel. This was it. Karn and his team were inside. The Vizsla forces were evacuating with every bit of research and technology they could hold. It was now or never.

“Rulvak, how many do we have still remaining inside?”

“Appius, Kano, and Dral are still evacuating.”

“Acknowledged. I’m setting the timer on this thing now. Get everyone to pull back.”

“Good luck. See you at the rendezvous.” Rulvak switched back to the open channel, “All Vizsla forces. EVAC-EVAC-EVAC. We are going to destroy the facility. Grab what you can and double-time to the extraction zone.”

“I can rig it from here, no need to get close, Kalan.” Kano said into the commlink.

“I’ve already started. 10 minute timer. Get some distance!”

Kalan finished punching in the self destruct code and the timer. It was now or never. He punched the execute button, turned on his heels, and ran.


Kalan ran through the remnants of the Plagueis ground assault force, blasting any remaining enemies as he went.

He saw the flash and felt the ground rumble beneath his feet. The explosions from within the facility caused it to collapse in on itself rather than explode outward.

This is the way.

Saga Hall
Ullr, Zsoldos
Same time

“Company Alpha 4D,” General Benzayn’s voice emerged from a commlink. “We’ve breached the city’s outer limits; their defensive line is collapsing. Strike Saga before they fall back and fortify the position.”

Khryso Mallus smiled. He was one of the many lords of Plagueis who had been assigned to take over Saga Hall, a rather symbolic conquest over Vizsla. While they were not taking Yuanming - not yet, anyway - the Warrior was more than keen on inflicting as much damage as possible. He had plenty of Plagueians assets to assist him - Wraiths included - and enjoyed taking a break from his latest AT-AT.

Immediately, the Wraiths began moving, all having received the message simultaneously on their helmet comms. Khryso moved with them. Roughly half of the snipers, as well as all the techs and soldiers, began a quick march to regroup with the scouts. The remaining snipers waited in their nests for the signal. As Khryso marched along with them, he pulled out his datapad, examining the information they’d gained on Saga’s layout. There were still some unknowns in play, but they had a general idea of where some of the more vital areas of the facility were located.

Marking the rough location of the control room on his map, Khryso slid his datapad back into his cape, taking his lightsaber in his right hand and his LL-30 in his left. They had to strike hard and fast. The element of surprise would be their best advantage in this scenario. They were outnumbered nearly two to one based on the reports from the scouts and snipers. That would soon change as Vizslans retreated from the front lines and began to fortify Saga even further.

The group met up with the scouts, who led them to a rear entrance where they’d already disabled the present guards. Khryso signalled the snipers who were still in position out in the city to fire on the guards at the front of the facility and begin taking them out. Hopefully that would draw their attention. In the meantime, a few techs stepped forward to breach the door smoothly and efficiently.

With the door open, the soldiers flooded in, moving towards the waypoint on their map. The indoor environment meant smaller hallways, which meant they shouldn’t encounter large groups of enemy soldiers if they were smart. The Wraiths ruthlessly culled anyone they came across as they moved through the building. Just behind them were the techs, along with Khryso, followed up by the snipers and then the scouts. Every now and then, a few of the scouts and snipers would break off from the formation to secure various sections of the building.

It was less than a minute before the alarm was raised. Whether it was because of the Plagueian snipers outside or the infiltrators inside wasn’t easy to determine, but in the end, it didn’t matter. They just needed to move as quickly as possible to locate and secure the control room. The soldiers blasted away any defenses that the techs couldn’t hack through. Khryso was able to monitor nearby areas for hostiles with his use of the Force and alert the company to any potential surprises.

The first two rooms they checked were duds, but the third seemed to be the ticket. The techs had a bit of trouble breaching the door’s security, so Khryso took his lightsaber to it, cutting a long slash through the door. However, he had to pull back unfinished, as the occupants began to fire as soon as they could see through the cut. Khryso focused for a moment before stepping back up to the door, extending his focus outward to deploy a barrier of energy around the door. The Vizslans firing from the other side weren’t able to get through it, but Khryso, on the inside of the barrier, was able to finish cutting a hole into the door before stepping aside to allow the soldiers to flood in.

The control room was fairly heavily staffed, unfortunately. Several Wraiths dropped not long after struggling through the choke hole that was the door. However, eventually, numbers simply overwhelmed the enemy and Company Alpha 4D was able to secure the control room. The techs quickly moved to the control panels, beginning their work on overriding the facility’s defenses, while the rest of the Wraiths took up defensive positions around the room and in a few areas outside of it.

Khryso, meanwhile, reported their success to General Benzayne. They’d managed to take control of Saga. While it wasn’t a total rout of the enemy, it was the foothold they needed. Benzayne reported that the rest of the Regiment was closing in quickly, but Vizslan reinforcements were closing in quickly as well. The battle to take Saga was over. The battle to hold it was about to begin.

Strike-class Medium Cruiser Termagant
Zsoldos Space
Same time

Gaius Julius Caesar, Aedile of House Tyranus had left the bridge as soon as it was clear that the Termagant was the focus of the mercenary clan. His time was better spent elsewhere aboard the vessel. The pale old man hobbled towards his destination gripping his cane tighter with each step. The explosions and constant rocking of the cruiser were making it difficult for the old man to keep steady.

“Lieutenant Colonel, hurry! We need you!” yelled a young officer of the Willing. The med-bay was just a few short meters ahead.

The old man scowled as he made his way through the threshold into the crowded med-bay, and threw his backpack off his back onto the nearest table. The brightly lit room was already filled up with wounded. Half of those coming in were covered in blood, the remaining were burnt to a near black state. He had gotten used to the smell over the years, but it was clear that it was others’ first times. The first order of business was establishing triage.

“Those of you who can stand can fight. Pick up your weapon and protect this corridor!” barked Caesar as he pointed towards the door in which he entered. A few soldiers whimpered their way past him and out the door.

The hangar was completely deserted, but the signs of a fight were everywhere. Dead bodies were strewn all over the floor, nearly all of them belonging to a member of the Plagueian crew. The blast door leading to the rest of the ship had been breached by some kind of explosive, so Andrelious’ first task was to find how far the enemy had got; and ensure that they went no further.

Andrelious Mimosa-Inahj suspected that the Mandalorian boarders would try to remain as one group. They were far better fighters than the Plagueian crew, but they lacked enough numbers to secure multiple areas of the ship at once. Once he caught up with them, however, they would likely scatter to frustrate Andrelious’ efforts.

Andrelious moved towards the turbolift that provided access to the Termagant’s conning tower. He passed through another three breached blast doors, taking care not to step on the many corpses that littered his path. Barely any of the fallen wore Mandalorian armour. As he passed through a fourth blast door, the Sith could clearly hear blaster fire ahead of him. Sure enough, a group of Mandalorians were setting charges on yet another blast door. Andrelious passed the door leading to the sick bay, noticing that the Vizslan force had left it alone.

As he approached the enemy, an injured Zabrak charged past the Sith, throwing herself on the floor. The Mandalorians turned away from their charge setting for a moment, confused as to what the horned humanoid was doing.

Andrelious’ face recoiled in disgust as the Zabrak suddenly exploded, killing several of the boarders and showering others in blood and severed body parts.

There are some sick people in this Clan! MImosa-Inahj thought to himself as he activated his silver-hilted lightsaber.

The momentum of the battle was constantly shifting back and forth. With each additional pressure the Vizslan invaders put on the Plagueian fleet, they were able to regroup, adapt, and push back against the attack. As much as the squadrons were holding their own, however, they were outnumbered. They would eventually find themselves too outgunned to properly defend the Termagant. Which was why they had decided to make their move.

Fortunately, the Termagant’s forces were more than capable of repelling a boarding, not to mention Andrelious had decided to pursue the boarders personally. It shouldn’t be a problem for them.

“This is Cyclone Leader. We’re commencing the attack on the enemy Interdictor,” a voice came over the comms. Which meant what was left of Avenger Squadron, along with the Termagant and Zuser Whuloc, were all that was defending the Plagueian capital ship.

“Termagant, this is Captain Ohli of the Silent Scream. We’ve brought reinforcements.” Green turbolaser fire suddenly sliced through the battlefield, pounding at one of the Vizslan corvettes.

“Now’s the time. Let’s hit them hard.” Scudi Ferria’s voice came over the comm, reporting to the entirety of the assembled ships. Series of affirmative responses rippled through the communication channels.

There wasn’t much Vizsla presence between here and there, as the enemy fleet was now on its back foot. It would likely only be a matter of minutes before they started trying to pull out.

Imperial I-class Ascendancy
Zsoldos Space
An hour later

“Lord Tavisaen,” reported Cyvaria Ranin. “The boarding of the Termagant has been averted, and Saga Hall has been taken. It appears that Vizsla blew up the research station before we could get to it.”

A playful, yet cruel, smile danced on Ronovi’s lips. While it was uncharacteristic of her, she had enjoyed watching this all unfold from the bridge of Plagueis’s flagship. Normally, the Dread Lord would have been on the battlefield, murdering and mutilating those Mandalorian bastards with her own blades and hands. Not this time. Her clan was more than capable of executing her orders.

TuQ’uan, her Wrath, would be sat down for a little chat, of course. But that was for another time. Ronovi pored over the grid along the control panel and contemplated the clan’s next move. Yuanming was certainly the best target, if only to start taking out Vizsla’s leadership itself.

“Get a hold of Benzayn,” she ordered Ranin. “I want status checks on all the Legion’s battalions. See where we can strike while still holding what we got.”

The admiral nodded and turned to key in a transmission. However, she paused, staring at the nearest screen. “Pause that, my lord: Looks like we’re getting a call.”

Ronovi frowned. “What? From whom?”

Ranin’s face was stony. “Arx, my lord. From the Grand Master.”

The Epicanthix let hot air whistle like a thin ribbon through her gritted teeth. This was not a good sign.

Communications Suite
Kom’rk-class Fighter
Orbiting Zsoldos
Ten minutes later

“I don’t know what’s gotten into Tavisaen,” intoned Atra Ventus, Regent of the Brotherhood, his blue hologram flickering in front of Declan and Val. “But whatever she’s doing against Vizsla, it can wait. Cantor is summoning Plagueis to assist with Tenixir and the rescue mission for Taelyan as we speak. I expect Vizsla to aid us as well.”

Declan nodded solemnly. He had been distantly leading the defensive against the Ascendant Clan, his ship serving as a command post. His mercenaries already had a name for the Plagueian incursion: the “Tragedy of Annoyance.” He hoped it would stick.

“And we’ll be paid handsomely for the aid, correct?” he asked. “We have the Trials of Ullr to tend to. This throws a wrench into our…itinerary, for lack of a better word.”

“You’ll get paid nicely and then some,” Ventus replied. “Just don’t worry about Plagueis anymore. Tavisaen should be contacting you any minute now to discuss a ceasefire. Be gentle with the Sith, all right?”

Val sneered at Declan, who nodded again. “Appreciate the call, Ventus.”

Atra’s hologram disappeared, and sure enough, Ronovi was “on the line.” This time, however, the hologram worked out proportionally - no close-up of a mangled ear. Declan was a bit disappointed about that.

“Tavisaen,” he said politely. “I take it you’ve had a chat with Cantor?”

Ronovi’s voice was strangled, as if she had been sucking on citrus. Anger and disdain were obvious in her throat. “Roark, I’m withdrawing my forces immediately from Zsoldos space. Not because I want to, but because someone on the Iron Throne’s tying my hands behind my back.”

“The Deputy Grand Master must be rescued,” replied Declan, smiling cheekily.

“I couldn’t give less of a damn about that. You’re good for now, Roark, but this isn’t over. If I catch any of your men attacking my clan again…there will be hell to pay ten times over.”

“Does she get all her threatening lines from cheesy holo-films?” Val asked in a whisper to his superior, who had to fight back a chuckle.

“Fair enough,” said Declan, making sure to hide his amusement. “We’ll be prepared for your next power trip, then.”

He shut off the call unceremoniously then, sighing and rubbing at his temples.

“Val, call Kalan Amak for me. We have much to discuss.”

Imperial I-class Ascendancy
Zsoldos Space

Ronovi had to resist incessantly punching the bridge control panel with her cybernetic fist. This was the last thing she had ever wanted. Truly, she believed victory was possible against the Mercenary Clan, but now she was being pulled away. The Dark Council would stop at nothing to limit Plagueis’s power, and while she knew she should have gotten used to their foolishness by now, it still stung viciously.

“Order the entire Ascendant Fleet and Legion to withdraw from Zsoldos space,” she commanded Ranin. “I’m getting myself a drink.”

She retired to her quarters then and drunk almost a quarter of her body weight in whiskey before she felt properly dazed. Vizsla had gotten off scot-free thanks to Mav. Regardless of the fact that Arden was capable of deterring the would-be assassin, the mere principle of the thing lingered with her. Ronovi was not done with Roark or the others yet, though she would have to bide her time. She had subordinates to chastise for doubting her, as well as the military to regroup and re-finesse.

As she got drunker and drunker, she realized, quite suddenly, that she still had her personal commlink on her belt, and it was beeping loudly. Ronovi was tempted to ignore the incoming transmission, thinking it was Ranin or TuQ’uan or a di Plagia. However, one look at the call number, and her eyebrows shot up.

She pressed a button on her commlink and started the transmission.

“Reg, what the hell are you doing?”

The Bothan mechanic sounded breathless. He was reporting from the Pinnacle, where he resided and saw over the tech side while the leadership was away. And apparently, he had a lot to say.

“Tavisaen. I’ve been checking out records of Juur Gogh and where Vizsla may have gotten the bounty request. Them mercs do not properly encrypt their calls, lemme tell you that right now.”

“Reg.” Ronovi sounded tired, and she knew it. She plopped onto a nearby divan in her quarters and let her head rest on a plethora of cushions. “What did you find out?”

“Well, I was able to trace the original caller to Montresor from a few months ago. Seems we’ve got someone familiar poking at Plagueis.”

The Dread Lord sighed. “Kel Zar, I take it,” she said, referring to the Collective member who had made it her personal mission to be a royal pain in Plagueis’s behind.

“Not just her.” Reg’s voice was gruff at this point. “She was on the call, but someone else linked her with Vizsla. Someone we both know very well.”

This threw Ronovi for a loop, and what Reg said next, she could not have possibly anticipated. She had not focused on a certain individual in well over a year, maybe even more. They had been confidants once, perhaps even friends; Ronovi herself had assisted him in defecting from the Shadow Academy. And now, he had chosen a different side. And he was amassing numbers.

“Seems like he’s creating an army,” Reg reported. “Out of Collective and Severian Principate defectors. People who feel cheated by both of them. You’ve got your work cut out for ya, Tavisaen. Better come back to Aliso to deal with it.”

Ronovi could feel ice growing in her voice. She was already infuriated by the Tenixir mission, but this time, for lack of a less clichéd feeling, it was getting very, very personal.

“Reg,” she demanded to know. “Who connected Kel Zar with Vizsla?”

The name stuck like a knife in her mouth, and she was eager to bite down on it, hard, and split the blade in two.

“Ronovi…it was Laren Uscot.”

Special thanks to Rulvak Qurroc, Kalan Amak, Khryso Mallus, Gaius Julius Caesar, and Andrelious J. Imahj-Mimosa for their fictional contributions to the closing chapter of AFoC.