Antei Combat Center - Fiction Updates


(Atra Ventus) #1

Fiction From CM Report #5 - 02/11/2017


[Location Redacted]

Shadows hung heavily within the Combat Master’s quarters. At a cursory glance one might have assumed it to be empty. However, that was far from the truth. A pale, blue glow carved into the shadows from the corner, originating from the holoprojector built into the sturdy, durasteel desk located there. A quiet creak echoed through the sparsely furnished room as the large Umbaran leaned back from the image, his arms folded across his chest as he did so. Atra let out an exasperated sigh while his right hand rose to pinch the bridge of his nose between his index finger and thumb.

How long had he been staring at image after image? Certainly long enough that his eyes were rebelling. A dull ache seemed to pulse from just behind them, pounding through his head mercilessly. The Umbaran’s fingers pushed up and ran along his dark eyebrows before rubbing his temples in small circles. Still, there was more to be done. So much more, and yet, no time.

Atra let his left hand fall upon the controls once more, glaring at the image with his grey-gold eyes. The wireframe blueprint continued to spin with a series of aurabesh characters scrolling along the side—all of which he suddenly found entirely offensive to his gaze. The phrase ‘combat center’ and the name ‘Arx’ stood out prominently but he no longer cared. He just needed it to function, after all. The how of it was for others better suited to such labours. Atra pressed his finger to the terminal and pulled up the next file.

The Umbaran’s pupils dilated in the temporary darkness as the projector switched off momentarily. It was a welcome solace, even if it only lasted half a second before a new image was heralded by the pale light once more. There had been a notable increase in activity of late. It was a fact made all the more obvious due to the sheer number of reports making their way to his desk. Perhaps it was due to the increase in surveillance that had come in answer to the resistance’s emboldened efforts. The Lotus—as they had been dubbed though Atra avoided the term himself—had scored a string of small victories against the forces of the Iron Throne and the Inquisitorius alike.

Did they truly believe they were doing the right thing? That the self-righteous forces fighting on the side of good were justified in their actions? Atra scoffed at the thought. In fact, he rejected it. How often had travesties been hidden behind that blinding brilliance? That so-called Light? It hid the ugly truth from the masses far too often. Their resistance against the decrees of the Brotherhood was a blight. An affront to order and a rejection of peace.

The Combat Master worked his jaw back and forth as his eyes flit across the data. The designated Consul of Taldryan had been active of late, though the particulars of Rhylance’s encounters were vague at best. That drawback was coupled by the recent radio silence of Alaris Jinn, whose insight into the matter could have been useful. Some information is better than none, I suppose, Atra thought to himself as he eyed a far-shot image of the Chiss. The picture had its share of distortions due to the amount of zoom, but the Consul’s glasses and slicked back hair were still recognizable. He was about to click through to the next report when a red, blinking light and an aggravating tone signalled an incoming communication.

“Ventus,” the even toned Voice of the Brotherhood used the name in lieu of greeting.

“What do you need, Tyris?” Atra inquired, managing to keep his fatigue from showing but not entirely as his lilting accent was thicker than usual.

“I’m sending a new briefing your way. There’s been a meeting of the champions, if you will.” Marick paused as the data transferred to the terminal. Once fully received, Atra pulled it up without hesitation.

“Blade Ta’var,” the Combat Master stated, acknowledging the headshot and dossier that had been compiled.

“Yes. The most recent victor of our Journeyman tournament has reportedly met with Sorenn alongside several other high priority targets.”

The Umbaran’s gaze shifted to a side table near the center of the room where a stack of datapads lay in a state of semi-disarray. Each contained known threats that he was personally handling in both his role as Combat Master and as Grand Inquisitor. The chiefest among them was Turel Sorenn, though Alethia Archenksova had become more prevalent. That newfound notoriety came from the recently circulated footage from a Lotus attack on one of the Iron Fleet factories. It wasn’t one of the Brotherhood’s finer moments.

The remaining information pertained to Korroth and Qyreia Arronen, another member of Odan-Urr and a mercenary mostly employed by Naga Sadow until recently venturing into Arcona. The merc was a far more known entity to Atra, having to deal with her regularly. While her threat level wasn’t exactly on par with the other names, she posed a significant risk for the Umbaran due to her proximity to his daughter. So it was that she earned a spot on his personal watch list.

“The usual suspects, I take it?” Atra asked.

A quiet sigh could be heard from Marick’s end of the commarray. “It seems that way, which is why it’s coming to you. Given the circumstances I would recommend trolling the Godless Matron for information but after last time—”

“Definitely giving the captain her space,” the Combat Master interjected quickly. “Though, I still have contacts of my own there.”

Atra knew that, on the other end of the connection, the Voice was quietly nodding. Neither were much for words or lengthy speeches and that had become the cornerstone of their working relationship. “Events are moving quickly. We can’t afford to be left reacting to others. I presume you understand. We have to make the first move,” Marick stated, his tone somehow dictating that a response wasn’t required.

“Acknowledged,” Atra replied regardless, though his eyes shifted to the chronometer on his desk. “Speaking of contacts, I have to meet with mine.”

“That’s all I needed from you, you’re free to take your leave.”

“Will do,” the Combat Master answered before switching off the comm. He sighed once more, his fatigue hitting him suddenly. There weren’t enough hours in the day. Still, he knew she had already arrived. Atra could feel her ethereal tendrils probing at his thoughts from the moment she had landed. It wouldn’t do to keep her waiting.

Atra moved to the door and shielded his eyes preemptively before opening it. The sudden light from the hallway was blinding, especially given the darkness of his quarters. It added another pang to the dull pulsing headache he was already contending with. The Umbaran continued to rub his temples as he made his way down the corridor towards the main receiving room. He heard the click-clack of boots before rounding the last corner, quickly moving his hand from his forehead to hang at his side casually. “Hello, Sildrin,” he announced before spotting the long, flowing platinum hair that almost reached the floor panels.

Atra,” the ashen skinned half-Sephi’s voice slipped between his thoughts while her lips remained still. “I have brought a gift.

The Combat Master stopped for a moment, his gaze making eye contact with her colorless pupils despite knowing she was blind. His eyes quickly narrowed with a hint of distrust. “What kind of gift?” he asked.

She said nothing of course, merely turning to walk back towards the room she had come from, expecting to be followed though she did not enter quite yet. Atra tilted his head a let out a quick breath, scratching at his chin. He hated making guesses. He jut his jaw out to the side and blew hard, sending strands of his hair dancing along the sudden blast of air before making his way into the receiving room.

The first thing Atra spotted upon entering was the Mirialan male kneeling in the center, appearing as a focal point among the various lounge chairs. His arms were behind his back and contained by a set of stuncuffs. His eyes moved up slowly, a pale blue set strikingly against his green skin and black facial tattoos. It was a cautious look, but one without a hint of fear. That changed as Sildrin slipped through the opening behind Atra. The captive’s eyes widened and his body language betrayed how he was mentally shrinking within himself, curling inward and appearing small.

“What did you do to him?” the Combat Master asked almost casually.

I merely asked him questions,” the woman replied matter-of-factly. “And made sure he answered them.

“Care to elaborate or are you enjoying stringing me along with half-answers entirely too much?”

Yes,” Sildrin answered, a hint of a smile pulling at the corner of her lip as she reached up to run two fingertips down the edge of the Umbaran’s cheek. “He was preparing to launch some sort of operation from the Sinning Den on the Matron. I presumed you would have more use for him than Morgan would.

The Sephi walked over to the Mirialan and ran her fingers through his messy, red hair, which caused him to recoil noticeably. “Did I presume incorrectly?

“No.” Atra shook his head before folding his arms across his chest. “This is good, actually. I can make use of him… Also, I’m going to need you to be my eyes—well, ears—on the Matron for the time being.”

Sildrin tilted her head and twisted her victim’s hair, still toying with the Mirialan like a predatory feline and its prey. “You think you can trust whatever information I bring you?” she asked, this time her lips unable to keep from forming a mocking smile.

Again Atra scratched at his chin, casting her a sidelong stare. “I can’t sit idly anymore. This conflict is going to get worse before it gets better. It’s time to take control of the situation,” he declared. “So… let’s get started, I suppose.”

The Combat Master pushed the nearby control panel next to the door and toggled the room’s security features. Panels lowered over the viewports lining the receiving room and locked into place with a thud of finality, followed by the door hissing closed as well.


(Atra Ventus) #2

Fiction From CM Report #6 - 03/14/2017


\–Search Parameters Accepted…
\–Initiating Search…
\–Record Found: TAL-14825-Aurek
\–Retrieving Record…
\–…
\–…
\–Beginning Playback…

The Aleena fidgeted as he knelt in the tall grass, surveying the facility in front of him under the pale glow of the moon. It was certainly a situation outside his comfort zone. Though, to be fair, that more or less encompassed most things for Justinios Drake. Yet still, he had made his way to this place regardless. Eschewing his clan for a time—not that he was completely trusting of them to begin with—the scientist had given in to curiosity.

Advancement required such things. It demanded action of Justinios when others would be content merely letting the opportunity slip by. That would be a mistake as far as he was concerned. Then again, perhaps there was prudence to be found in being far less trusting of mysterious confidants making contact through underground channels.

Or perhaps not. The outcome would be the judge of that.

Sticking to the shadows, the Aleena continued to pace himself. His analytical mind acknowledged that the data he had received was accurate thus far. All signs pointed to the building being an isolated research facility, and it wasn’t just the security systems that gave it away. Nor was it the plaque near the front entrance, for that matter, considering Justinios hadn’t quite managed to work his way around to it yet. There was just something about the facility that said ‘knowledge’ to him. It felt like the right kind of place for his work. That bode well for the latter, more important part of this task. That there was, indeed, a research archive on site that would advance his own material by months, even years.

The sound of crunching gravel brought Justinios’ focus back to his immediate surroundings. Luckily, due to his natural stature, he didn’t have to put too much effort into keeping out of sight. Stick to the shadows and the foliage and he’d be fine… more or less. He was pretty sure of it. Ninety percent certain, not accounting for extraneous variables he couldn’t factor. Like infrared cameras. Or, you know, just bad luck.

Justinios looked on as one of the guards passed him by. His body tensed up momentarily as the man’s flashlight moved across the grass. It wasn’t until the crunching footsteps began to fade that the Aleena allowed himself another breath. His hand reached to the pouch on his hip and lightly tapped it a couple times, checking to ensure the ID card was still there. It had been provided to him alongside the initial tip as a means of access if Justinios managed to get to the facility.

For anyone else, they could possibly have made the approach more boldly. The Aleena, however, felt he might stick out a bit too much for comfort. So he had lowered himself to becoming somewhat of a ‘thief in the night’. He reminded himself again the importance of what he was doing. The reward was worth the risk.

Seizing his opportunity, Justinios sprinted across the pathway and closer to the building. Stones scattered behind him as his feet dug into the ground, the only sound left in his wake. The auxiliary entrance was close. He could make out the soft red glow of the security panel through the brush. His estimations of the layout had proved correct after all, a benefit of spending the better part of the day scoping out the facility from afar.

Justinios had to wait just a little longer for another guard to move along his rounds. He steadied his breathing and focused on tempering his excitement. A few heartbeats later the way was clear and the Aleena was in motion. He pulled the ID tag free of the pouch and slid it into the data terminal. For a moment, Justinios felt dread. What if he was walking into a trap? Such things had become increasingly common of late, especially within the Brotherhood’s looming conflict.

The feeling didn’t last, chased away by the terminal’s ping of recognition. The light turned green and the door hissed open. Justinios didn’t hesitate as he rushed inside, though he had to shield his eyes from the sudden change in light. The artificial brightness within the sterile hallway—a stark contrast to the darkness outside—forced his pupils to dilate rapidly.

\–Record Notes:
\–No Data For What Occurred Inside The Facility Prior To Alarms Triggering
\–Success Is Assumed Due To Agent Reports

Klaxons rang out across the expanse of the facility grounds, accompanied by flashing warning lights. The door Justinios had used to gain entry was on full lockdown just like all the other entryways—a fact denoted by the flashing yellow light on the terminal. It stood resolutely in its purpose, an immovable blockade.

A sudden orange glow pinpointed near the bottom betrayed the truth of that.

The glow—thermal energy consuming the durasteel—gave way to molten globs, revealing the blue tip of a lightsaber. It moved with purpose as it outlined a crude opening before retracting with a hiss. The carved portion of the door fell away, creating a haphazard exit point that Justinios quickly ran through. His small stature was an advantage in this case. Anyone pursuing him would have to either override the lockdown or crawl through the opening.

“I shouldn’t have done that,” the Aleena muttered repeatedly. His breathing was loud and rapid as he panted with effort, his short legs taking him from gravel to the tall grass and back to gravel again.

The guards who had been stationed outside were on full alert. Their heads swiveled back and forth with their rifles at the ready, cones of light scanning the area for any intruders. “Hey!” one of them shouted as Justinios rushed past, spotting the sudden silhouette outlined by the flashlight before it vanished into the brush. “Halt!”

Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. The Aleena glanced down at the encrypted disk in his left hand before shaking his head and reaffirming his resolve. As it so happened, his curiosity had gotten the better of him. Not content to merely get the specific research data that had brought him here—another confirmation of his contact’s reliability—Justinios had decided to take everything he could gain access to.

That could probably be safely attributed to being the cause for tripping the security system.

Still, he had gotten what he had come for. A small victory and one that hinged on his escape. He could hear the man that had caught sight of him gaining from behind. A threat, to be sure, but a manageable one if the Aleena could make it into the thicker foliage of the nearby forest. His thoughts were broken as a series of red streaks screeched by, impacting the earth just ahead and to the side of him. Dirt and stone filled the air, pelting his skin as Justinios yelped in surprise and protected his face. He stumbled, falling to the side somewhat before regaining his footing.

Clearly, the guards at the facility weren’t all slouches when it came to aiming. A chill of warning slithered up Justinios’ neck, causing him to dive into a forward roll. Another series of shots cut through the air where he had been half a breath earlier. The grass turned black and scorched, fragments glowing bright orange in the wake of the blaster bolts’ impact.

The Aleena was starting to think his chances were far slimmer than he had previously predicted. Especially given the distance he had left to travel before he had a true shot at safety. Justinios glanced from left to right, trying to get his bearings again. He saw movement to his right that left him with a sinking feeling in his gut. Surely it was another guard come to assist the one already trailing him.

Justinios ground his teeth together, working up the will for what he felt he needed to do if he was going to have any chance of getting out of this. He planted his feet and spun around. As his body pivoted, he reached to his hip with his right hand and grasped the hilt of his lightsaber, ready to ignite the deadly plasma blade.

He hadn’t been fast enough. A blaster discharged and he winced in expectation of the pain to come.

The sound had been different, however, and it took a moment for his mind to acknowledge that fact. Blue rings emanated from the newcomer’s weapon and Justinios found himself watching as the stun bolts struck the guard that had been chasing him. The man fell to the ground with a thud, his momentum carrying him a foot or two before finally coming to rest.

Now, it probably would have been wise of the Aleena to seize the opportunity to complete his escape. Curiosity got the better of him, though. Again.

As his ‘savior’ drew closer, Justinios noted the cloak and hood that shrouded their features. The person knelt down and reached out with what looked to be a humanoid hand, pressing two fingers to the guard’s neck. Checking for a pulse despite the stun setting. A prudent, if unnecessary, action.

“Professor Drake,” the woman said without looking up, the smooth contralto of her voice giving away her gender. “I presume your endeavor was successful?”

The Aleena was hesitant to reply right away. Logic dictated there were only a few means through which the stranger could have known his name. His fingers tightened around the hilt of his lightsaber, looking for reassurance despite his lack of confidence in the powers he could wield. “Sitri,” Justinios queried, invoking the name of his contact.

“Just so,” the woman affirmed. “I ask again: were you successful?” She rose from her crouch above the guard’s prone form, turning towards Justinios. There was something off about her that the Aleena couldn’t place. Something dangerous. It was not unlike the feeling one would have when observing a predator.

Justinios swallowed and found his courage. He lacked confidence, but he knew he wasn’t incapable of putting up a fight. “I was. And I haven’t forgotten our arrangement. Though I must ask, what are you doing here if you needed me to acquire the data?”

“You should understand that observation is one of the tenants of all research,” Sitri said, as if that alone was answer enough.

“And you are researching me?”

That brought a smile to the woman’s lips, the only part of her face Justinios could see clearly between the shadow of the hood and the light from the moon. “One might say that my employ requires me to be rather inquisitive,” Sitri replied. “You may transfer the data to this.”

Justinios caught the woman’s datapad as it was tossed to him, pairing it with the data disk he had acquired. He found himself fidgeting from side to side, ready to be done with this task and be on his way. His eyes glanced up at Sitri periodically, noting that her posture remained completely rigid and unmoving.

The sudden ping from the datapad in his hand stole Justinios’ attention back. Finally, the transfer was complete. He pocketed the data disk before tossing the datapad back to Sitri.

“Thank you for your service. It is beyond what was required,” she declared while quickly confirming the data and acknowledging his overindulgence in that regard.

That elicited a shrug from the Aleena. “What exactly were they up to here? The research is quite extensive.”

Again, a slow smile came to Sitri’s lips. “The artificial manufacture of Force sensitives,” she stated flatly, as if reading the title of a thesis paper. “Whether they were successful or not is unknown, though I am sure this will be useful to your own research.”

She slid the datapad under her cloak and turned back towards the way she had come, glancing back at Justinios. “Credits will be transferred to your account. For your trouble. I certainly hope you can be of service again,” Sitri said.

The Aleena nodded, his fingers falling away from his hilt. If he were to be honest, Justinios hoped that wouldn’t be the case. He wasn’t quite sure who or what organization he had just helped, but he felt like he wanted nothing more to do with them. His gaze followed Sitri as she shrank into the distance before turning to leave himself.

Regardless of the repercussions that exchange might have, he had managed to advance his research further. That mattered more than anything else.

\–End Of Record…


(Atra Ventus) #3

Fiction From CM Report #7 - 04/19/2017


\–Search Parameters Accepted…
\–Initiating Search…
\–Record Found: SCH-12681-Aurek
\–Retrieving Record…
\–…
\–…
\–Beginning Playback…

The flames burned brightly. All-consuming.

She could see them still; they flickered and danced in the reflection of her amber eyes. Alara closed her eyes tightly and turned away from the viewport before letting them open once more. She knew it was only a trick of her mind. The endless nothing of space allowed visions to afflict her addled mind. Yet it was no illusion that Judecca had burned…and so too did her anger. The well that fueled her power was all but overflowing.

She couldn’t sit back and wait for what was to come. She had a part to play as Aedile. Even if she hadn’t, the half-Sephi would have found an outlet for her fury. Alara’s nostrils flared as she exhaled and tossed the braided, golden strands of her long hair over her shoulder. She needed to scout out potential grounds to start over. A new home for Scholae Palatinae.

Prepare for arrival,” a distorted voice announced through the shuttle’s comm system.

About time. Alara made a quick inventory of her equipment, ensuring her weapons were right where she expected them to be. Then she rose from her seat and positioned herself near the boarding ramp. The g-forces began to rock the shuttle around her as they broke through the atmosphere, causing the Aedile to reach out to the nearby handrail for support.

The half-Sephi toggled the nearby intercom, opening up a connection to the pilot. “Drop me just outside the spaceport,” Alara instructed.

“There’s nowhere to land,” came the static-tinged reply.

Alara’s eyes narrowed and a low sigh escaped her barely parted lips. It was probably for the best the man on the other end of the comm wasn’t within arm’s reach. “Then don’t land. Just get me there and open the ramp,” she said. Not willing to entertain any debate in the matter, the Aedile de-activated the panel and waited for the pilot’s compliance.

A yellow light flared to life above her. A cautionary mark just as the durasteel doors hissed open and extended out. Now exposed to the elements, Alara’s braid whipped around alongside the cloak that had been resting along her shoulders. The half-breed had to shield her eyes with her forearm as the biting wind caused them to water.

She could see the forest rushing past below her as a green blur. Above the horizon, the sky was coated in dark, angry clouds that threatened to release a storm upon the land below. No wonder the atmospheric entry had been so bumpy. Alara’s attention drifted back to the ground as she noticed the shuttle slowing. Smart move by the pilot.

Alara’s chest rose and fell as she took a deep breath, steeling herself for what she was about to do. She reached into the Force and bound it to her will. The fiery tendrils of power shot through her body, goosebumps following in its wake. She felt her muscles coil with unnatural strength as she enhanced her body past its limits.

And then she jumped.

Her cloak billowed behind her as she fell, fully revealing her bodysuit which didn’t provide much in the way of drag. The drop wasn’t quite as low as would be preferable. The wind felt like daggers against her exposed skin, only to be replaced by the sharp branches of the trees as she broke through the canopy. Focused on maintaining her concentration and relaxing her body, Alara extended feet first and prepared to land. Her knees buckled at the point of impact while most of the force was dispersed through her reinforced body.

Despite herself, Alara fell forward and had to prop herself up with a hand. Fresh blood dripped just below her eyes from several cuts on her cheek. She brushed it away with the side of her hand in an act of indifference. Her amber eyes were already scanning the expanse around her. Such a place felt familiar. Relaxing. Yet, it wasn’t why she had come. Alara still had a job to do.

“Proceed to the starport. I’ll notify you for extraction,” the Aedile said into a commlink.

“Roger that.”

Alara took another breath and began her march through the thicket towards the starport. Trust was a fickle thing. Even more so for her. There was no way she would just show up to meet with a contact under any terms but her own. A little pain was a small price to pay for taking matters into her own hands.

It definitely took a lot longer than Alara had expected, however. Either the pilot had let her off too early or she had miscalculated the distance. As it was, she could feel the sweat beading along her forehead and causing a few strands of hair to stick to her cheek. Her gaze snapped skyward as a crash of thunder declared the storm’s growing intent. Rain wasn’t going to make things easier.

Alara pulled her hood up and listened to the rumbling clouds above. She broke through the foliage and caught sight of the starport just as the rain began to fall. Fat, heavy drops splashed against the ground, turning the dirt to mud. It coated the edges of her cloak and boots as the half-breed ground her teeth together and crossed the remaining distance to the port’s waiting archway.

“Welcome to Tunaria! Do you like swords?” a raspy voice called out over sound of the rain.

Alara tilted her head to see past the corner of her hood. She spotted the short, disheveled man in front of a covered stall of hastily stacked swords in various states of disrepair—a few vibroswords stood out prominently. The man himself looked like he could do with a lot more than a rain shower. His clothes were patched together and his hair was a greasy mess. Then again, as Alara glanced around, most of the crowd shared similar traits.

Due to the quantity of stalls lining the street, it seemed like the starport doubled as a market of sorts. That made sense. Lots of people passing through would lend itself to potential sales. This wasn’t where she was supposed to meet her contact though, whom she knew only by the handle ‘Nemeth’. They had agreed to a quick transaction. A face to face at the landing pad itself.

Nothing about the place looked amiss. Well, no more than any other shady, backwater spaceport. Yet Alara couldn’t shake a feeling of unease. The half-Sephi moved from stall to stall as she watched the sky. The storm didn’t look like it would be letting up any time soon. A dreary setting, to say the least.

As luck would have it, Alara didn’t have to really engage with any of the locals to find where she needed to go. The port was small and the landing pads stuck out like a sore thumb. Still, it didn’t stop them from trying to sell to her. She felt the corner of her lip tug several times as she barely contained a snarl of annoyance.

Finally, she made it to a cluster of shops across the street from what appeared to be the main entrance to the landing pads. Alara quickly glanced both ways before grabbing onto the edges of her hood to hold it in place and running across the mud-soaked surface. The attempt wasn’t completely perfect, as her boot got stuck for a moment just as she reached the other side. The sudden shift in her momentum caused the Aedile to pivot about and she ended up half-stumbling with her back to the entrance.

“Th’ kriff ya doin’, runt? Scram!” a large Devaronian snarled. There weren’t many run-of-the-mill helmets that accommodated the male’s horns, so his red-skinned face was on full display. He was ugly. Not in terms of aesthetics but the kind of ugly that befell those who led the hardest of lives. Scars and burns weaved a mangled tapestry across his features.

“This is the port, isn’t it?” Alara inquired as she turned towards him, keeping her face mostly hidden beneath her hood.

“Aye. An’ th’ dock be closed,” the Devaronian said with a grunt. He shifted his weight back and forth which caused his plated armor to clink together while he made a show of adjusting his rifle’s scope. A clear warning. “None be goin’ in’r’out.”

The benefit of having trust issues, clearly, was that one was so rarely surprised by betrayal. People started to expect it. Armed goons locking down the landing pad where the meeting was supposed to be taking place? If it looks like a loth cat, then it’s probably a loth cat.

This Nemeth had set her up.

Perhaps he had been preparing a perimeter to keep people out while they concluded their business. That was possible, but Alara had already been on edge and didn’t spare even a thought on alternatives. Anger welled up within her and set her sense alight. Alara’s hands grabbed the hilts clipped to her belt and brought them across her front with a yell. She toggled the weapons mid-swing, brilliant beams of gold formed deadly blades with a twin snap-hiss. The lightsabers cut through the door with ease…and the Devaronian that had been guarding it.

Molten edges glowed orange as the pieces fell to the ground. The light of her weapons glistened like living flames in Alara’s amber eyes and she wasted no time. She merely stepped over the body and through the entrance beyond. The corridor itself was dimly lit. It probably didn’t need much lighting anyway, as it was more or less a straight and short path to the landing pads beyond. The half-breed disengaged her weapons and retrieved her commlink. “Ready for extraction, copy?” Alara asked.

Silence hung heavy as her answer. The pilot knew better than to ignore her. He should have been ready and waiting. So, it was a trap after all. Alara unclasped her cloak and let it fall to the ground, freeing up her movements as she crouched low and creeped out of the corridor. Her eyes took a moment to adjust but the scene before her was pretty clear.

“Well, this is just downright boring. Not to mention expensive. You know these guys get paid by the hour? Who does that?” a robed man complained as he paced back and forth near Alara’s shuttle.

The rain had begun to settle, yet seemed to have no intention of relenting entirely. A semi-circle of humanoids stood off to the side. These ones had helmets, but otherwise appeared much the same as the Devaronian she had killed. Part of the same mercenary unit, most likely.

“Daily rates! Flat fees! These are the keys to business,” the man in the center continued. “Cost and profit! Do you understand?”

At first Alara thought he was merely monologuing, but the sudden question and turn brought her attention towards the kneeling forms of the shuttle’s pilot and navigator. They were fully suited, as expected of those in the service of Palatinae, but their helmets were off to the side. The pilot had tightly cropped, greying hair and a mustache that seemed to be taking on an existence all his own. The navigator, on the other hand, looked like a fairly young man with dirty blonde hair.

“Hm, perhaps you don’t. They point and you fly them there, after all. And since you won’t tell me where my date ran off to—” The man—clearly Nemeth—interrupted himself by pressing a blaster pistol to the back of the navigator’s head and squeezing the trigger.

Another vein of anger shot through Alara from where she was crouched, hiding behind a series of crates. The navigator crumpled forward with a charred hole in the back of his head and faint tendrils of smoke wafting into the air.

“—where’s the profit in keeping you both around, eh?”

The half-Sephi’s breathing deepened as she began to seethe. The world turned red, as the saying goes, and her mind began to hone in on the singular thought of killing that man.

“Now, I ask you again, Mr. Pilot. And might I remind you what befell the Cocytus system,” Nemeth said. “Where is Alara Deathbane?”

A yell of rage interrupted them as Alara bounded over the containers, leaping off the edge and landing with both her blades impaling the closest of the mercs. She looked up with an almost feral look in her eyes as she remained in an animalistic crouch above her victim.

The remaining combatants shuffled back in search of cover while training their rifles on the half-Sephi. The blasters roared to life and sent a cascade of streaking plasma towards her. Alara brought her weapons up and weaved them through the air in a quick kata that deflect the more dangerous of the shots before rolling to the side.

“There she is! How rude of you to keep me waiting. I thought you wanted information about this system, did you not? To find yourselves a new little rock to crawl under,” Nemeth shouted over the sudden chaos. He put his back to the pilot, no longer affording him any attention now that the Aedile had arrived. That gave him the chance to slink away and get to cover of his own.

Finding herself under concentrated fire, Alara pivoted out of view and pressed her back to some boxes. She quickly glanced out in an attempt to take stock of the situation. Three mercs remained and one Nemeth. If she could, she’d be saving him for last. Alara took advantage of a brief pause and slipped around the corner. She willed herself to move faster and faster, channeling the Force into her legs.

Alara broke out into a full run, announcing her charge with another anger-filled yell. She lept into the air with a pivot and swung her leg around, kicking at one of the mercs. He yelped in surprise as he found his rifle soaring out of his grasp from the collision and skidding across the durasteel panels beneath their feet. He reached for his sidearm just as Alara fell upon him. A whirlwind of golden hair and lightsabers blurred in front of him and the merc’s helmet fell to the ground, not exactly empty of its contents.

At the back of her mind, Alara was dimly aware of a warning shouted through the Force. She didn’t have time to react so she merely pressed forward. Always forward. A series of blaster bolts shot over her shoulder and plastered against the chest panel of a merc who was lining up a shot behind her. She glanced to the source of the shots and saw the pilot lying prone with one of the mercs’ rifles in his grasp.

He was already aiming for another target, forcing one of the two remaining mercs into hiding. Alara was still charging, dropping onto her knees and letting her momentum slide her forward. She thrust her sabers forward and watched as the tips plunged into the container with bright orange rings around them. The cry from the other side meant she had found her mark.

A cable suddenly wrapped around the half-Sephi, constricting her arms against her sides before locking in place against itself. She turned her head with a snarl and spotted the cable extending from Nemeth’s left wrist.

“I mean, I probably should thank you for letting me off the hook for paying those folks, but I can’t just sit here and let you rampage,” he said. His face wasn’t visible beneath his hood, but she could tell he was grinning. “I wonder what information I can squeeze out of you…or how much I’m going to have to hurt you to make you break.”

Confident that Alara was secure, Nemeth glanced up and aimed his pistol, quickly taking care of the remaining merc himself. The pilot was still armed, however, and took several shots at Nemeth. The man activated his rocket boots and kicked off the ground. He slid into cover, dragging Alara roughly across the ground. She winced and ground her teeth together to keep from biting her own tongue.

Another series of shots cascaded against the crate protecting Nemeth. He poked his head around just enough to shout across the landing pad. “Come on, Mr. Pilot! You don’t have to die here. Loyalty doesn’t pay… except when it does. Then it can pay quite a lot actually. But this isn’t one of those times!”

“I’m not going to die,” the man shouted back. His baritone was a lot richer than it had been over the comm system. “You’re gonna pay for what you did to my navigator, though.” He continued to fire, seemingly wildly as shots ricocheted or missed entirely.

“Really? How you gonna do that if you can’t even hit me?!”

“Wasn’t aiming for you,” the pilot answered.

Nemeth paused for a moment before realizing the cable at his wrist had grown remarkably slack. “Oh, hell—”

Alara was upon him with a howl of pure, animalistic rage. Her fury had consumed her entirely and burned within every inch of her muscles. She raked her nails across his face, catching skin and blood beneath them. Nemeth tried to raise his arms defensively but she merely took the opportunity to grasp onto his forearm and bicep before snapping his joint in a direction it wasn’t meant to go.

It was Nemeth’s turn to howl. To cry out in pain. Mounted atop him, Alara continued to slam a series of hammer fists against his chest. Again and again she pounded against him with his body caving more with each strike. He coughed up blood, unable to do anything more than lie there while the half-Sephi quite literally crushed his chest inward.

She was panting then. Her nostrils flaring as she inhaled in before letting out a ragged breath through her open mouth. Alara felt weak and sick all at once, but found herself unable to move as her power seeped away. She was locked in place by her own body.

“I think he’s dead, ma’am,” the pilot announced, far closer than the half-breed remembered him being.

She blinked and looked up at him with her amber eyes, trying to say something but only a hoarse whisper escaped. Alara swallowed hard and winced at the pain of it. She licked her lips before trying again. “Prepare…the shuttle,” she managed.

“Aye,” he acknowledged with a quick salute before complying.

Alara sank back as he left, reclaiming some control over her body. She wiped her arm across her forehead and let out a long exhale. She ached all over and just wanted to sleep. That was something she could do in the shuttle. First, she had to at least try to see if anything could be salvaged from this excursion.

The half-Sephi began peeling away layers of Nemeth’s clothing, looking for anything she could take with her. Perhaps even a datachip. Instead, she found his encrypted datapad still secured to his belt. That could prove even more useful. Especially if the information he had claimed to possess about the nearby systems proved to be more than immaterial bait.

That was something, at least. Enough to justify it. Alara groaned and found her footing, making her way to the shuttle.

Maybe it would be worth it in the end.

\–End Of Record…


(Atra Ventus) #4

Fiction From CM Report #8 - 05/20/2017


\–Search Parameters Accepted…
\–Initiating Search…
\–Record Found: PLA-13923-Aurek
\–Retrieving Record…
\–…
\–…
\–Beginning Playback…

It was a less than ideal situation, to say the least. That was among the thoughts shifting through her mind while the slums of Nar Shaddaa rushed past in a blur. Kelly Mendes kept her glare firmly fixed ahead of her as she sat in the back of the taxi with her arms and legs crossed. Her dark brown hair whipped across her vision as the open-cab speeder made a quick turn.

Yet, it was required of her. Another stepping stone along the path of acquiring more power and authority for herself, at the very least. After all, Plagueis needed to rebuild and for that it needed materiel. Kelly put her contacts to good use and had arranged a deal with with a merchant that wasn’t overly concerned about paper trails. A favorable trait. However, there had been one caveat: she had to meet with them face to face in order to finalize the arrangements.

The scum was hardly worthy of her attention, let alone the time the Quaestor was now sacrificing.

The deal needed to work, though. There were only so many suppliers in the galaxy they could come to an agreement with. So, Kelly stifled her disgust. Wasn’t the easiest of tasks, to be sure. She had to fight off the urge to lash out and destroy the merchant on sight. To think, someone without so much as a fraction of the power of the Dark Side dared to make demands of her.

Arriving at your destination,” the droid pilot chirped with artificial happiness.

Kelly’s lip curled in a partial snarl, but she contained herself. She brushed the hair away from her face with long, pale fingers and passed the necessary credit chips. She would have preferred her own transport, but paper trails were a headache she couldn’t afford just yet. Not to mention the merchant’s own paranoia.

Again, the Quaestor was forced to acknowledge that she was—essentially—jumping through hoops to make the deal. As if she wasn’t on edge enough to begin with.

Now, it can’t be said it was for any lack of foresight that the droid chose to speak up once more. It just wasn’t in its programming. “Have a pleasant day!” it instructed merrily.

Kelly’s cobalt hilt was in her hand before she had taken even a single breath, the amber-hued blade hissing to life as the Human spun about. Angry sparks licked at her robes as she brought the weapon around in wide, sweeping arcs. The contained plasma scorched through the alloys of the taxi and the droid pilot with little resistance.

Silence fell as the lightsaber disengaged, save for the impish spasms of the shorted circuitry. Kelly took a deep breath and felt a measure of satisfaction wash over her. For a moment, at least, her appetite for destruction had been fed.

The Quaestor left the wreckage with an even stride. She had a vague idea of where she needed to go to meet the merchant, but that was the extent of it. Someone under their employ would no doubt lead Kelly to the actual meeting place.

“Ms. Mendes?” The quiet voice interrupted Kelly’s thoughts while simultaneously validating them.

The young Human snapped her head towards the source, finding a small and dirty looking girl. A street rat. “Who wants to know?” Kelly asked.

“Bareesh already knows,” the small child stated while inputting something into her wristlink. The small, blinking lights helped to illuminate her plain features in the shadows of Nar Shaddaa’s deep streets. “Identity confirmed. Follow me.”

If I must, the Quaestor acquiesced to herself. Once more she reminded herself how important this deal was for Plagueis. Her emerald eyes scanned the crowd—if one could call it that—as she followed the street rat. The number of people making their way through the narrow alleys were few most of the way, and even more scarce as the corridors grew more narrow. A few bottlenecks were practically barren.

Kelly thought to herself for but a moment that the young girl seemed to be taking an intentionally winding route to their destination. Was it to through the Quaestor off and disorient her? Perhaps it was merely good business. The type of merchant that would be willing to forgo legalities probably required a fair measure of paranoia.

“Enter,” the girl stated evenly, gesturing towards a nearby shanty.

The older woman stood her ground and merely offered the street rat a suspicious glare.

“If Bareesh wanted to double cross you, Ms. Mendes,” she explained, “it would have happened already.”

Kelly sneered. “You should be more wary of your betters.”

“I am,” the girl said. “And she’s already inside.” Finished with her task, the street rat abruptly spun about and marched off, paying Kelly no further mind.

A long breath passed over Kelly’s lip before she turned back towards the shanty. She hadn’t liked the situation to begin with. Now she hated it. The Quaestor pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind at the same time she parted the drapes acting as a door.

“Apologies for the decor, but I’m not particularly fond of meeting in the same place twice.”

The Quaestor quickly glanced around the room, noting the two armored men to either side of the well dressed woman. She noted a faint accent that she couldn’t quite place in the woman’s voice. It didn’t particularly matter, but any information was better than none when dealing with a potential adversary.

“I assume you are ‘Bareesh’?” Kelly asked.

“That is correct,” Bareesh replied, leaning forward with her hands clasped and arching an eyebrow above the stylized glasses she wore. “What gave it away? Was it the guards?”

“I am here,” the Quaestor stated without indulging the other woman’s sarcasm, “to finalize this deal of yours. As per your request.”

That resulted in an almost mocking round of applause from Bareesh. “And you’re so good at following orders! It’s almost adorable.”

Kelly’s eyes narrowed and her hand was already moving towards her hilt. She suspected the merchant was attempting to bait her and at some level it was succeeding. The mere idea that this woman thought herself on the same playing field as the Quaestor was insulting. “I am here,” she said again. “You will transfer the material to my transport as agreed.”

“You’ll need to sign for it, deary,” the merchant declared, producing a datapad and placing it on a crate.

“We agreed to no paper trails. That was the entire point of our arrangement.”

“This is no paper trail. Not really. But I won’t be giving any of my product away on good faith alone,” Bareesh elaborated.

The Quaestor’s nostrils flared. Her temper roiled beneath the surface with fiery intent. Still, she remained composed.

“I don’t like my time wasted. We both know you serve another, and I don’t like my errand girls talking back.” The words all but slithered off Bareesh’s tongue as she leaned back, brushing her black ponytail back over her shoulder. “Sign or get the kriff out of my ‘office’.”

Well, that was that. Kelly let out a vicious snarl and ignited her lightsaber. The orange light mingled with the dim yellow pallor cast by the lower regions’ light panels. Both bodyguards responded instantly. They were well trained, it seemed. They each held a single Z6 baton in front of Bareesh. The white poles crackled as the active current surged across their length and mingled with the thrum of Kelly’s saber.

In the back of her mind, the woman knew she was at a disadvantage. Her style favored singular combat where she could find the perfect opportunity to strike back. She was a practiced duelist. Something told her the bodyguards weren’t going to come at her one at a time. Her fuse had been lit, however. She was going to prove why the dark side made her superior, and the destruction it can wrought.

“Move!” Kelly commanded, throwing the full weight of the Force behind the singular word. It crashed against the bodyguards’ minds and caused them to falte. The first to shake it off stood a head taller than the other, his hair shaved off and a vicious scar across his cheek. He watched as his fellow complied and stepped away from Bareesh.

“Come on, man!” the bodyguard bellowed and gave the other one a quick backhand. “Get yer act together.”

“Kriff,” the other one cursed and swung his head back and forth.

It had been enough, though. Kelly now knew where her priority should be. She swung her weapon around horizontally, aiming for the larger man’s midsection. He spun his baton about, letting the charged end connect with the deadly contained plasma of the lightsaber. Kelly bounced back from the contact and reached out with her off-hand. She extended her grasp outward with the Force and tightened her grip around the crate that had been acting as a table. Kelly wrenched it towards the smaller of the guards, grinning in satisfaction as it crashed against him with a thud, despite him throwing his arms up protectively.

That was good. One was now staggered. She turned her focus entirely towards the hardier of her foes. Her arcing strikes passed through the air, leaving her expending little in the way of energy as Kelly watched how her target reacted. He seemed to favor his right side a touch too much. Perhaps the scar on his face was a sign of more damage than could be seen. He turned his head more than he should in order to get a full view of her attacks.

So, Kelly began favouring that side. Pushing more so towards it. She needed to keep an eye on the other guard however, as Bareesh seemed to have pulled herself out of the encounter and was standing towards the far wall of the shanty. It seemed that she had just thought about checking on him when a jolt passed through her body and a hard impact at the small of her back.

The Quaestor was knocked across the room and skid across the durasteel ground. Her teeth were still vibrating as she glanced back at where she had come from, coming eye to eye with the second bodyguard. He couldn’t resist the opportunity to gloat and spun his baton with a grin. Kelly growled and channeled her anger. She lashed out, whipping her hand forward with her fingers spread and feeling the pure tendrils of power surging through her body. It was an exhilarating sensation. Hot and cold in equal measures.

It was the guard’s turn to be sent cascading unceremoniously across the floor as the lightning impacted him in the chest. Too bad there were two guards. The larger man was already marching towards Kelly with several spinning strikes of his baton in her direction. The Quaestor had to roll to keep away from them. She hopped up into a low crouch and brought her saber blade up defensively. Again, she found herself reaching out with the invisible grasp of the Force to bring another crate tumbling towards her target. It came from his seemingly blind side and did exactly as she hoped.

The guard stumbled, crying out from the unexpected pain. Kelly struck in the same moment. Her saber carved through the air and cleanly bisected the man at his waist. He didn’t cry out. Not even a whimper escaped his lips. He merely remarked “oh” quietly before falling in two separate directions.

“Are you karking mad?” Bareesh shrieked from where she was standing. Obviously she hadn’t fully grasped exactly who she had been prodding so gleefully. The remaining bodyguard stood between them, having recovered from the previous attack. Not entirely though. Slight twitches as he tried to stand his ground betrayed him.

Kelly took a deep breath and let the aches seep from her body. It wasn’t done yet, and she was still hungry for more. More destruction. A greater demonstration of her superiority. Her emerald eyes fixed upon them and she stalked across the room like a predatory feline. “Kneel,” she ordered with an even tone.

Neither Bareesh nor the guard made any move to comply. Kelly grew ever closer, watching as the man tensed up. “Kneel,” she repeated. Louder and with more emphasis on the word. Again, no one complied.

She held out her hand and pierced the man’s mind with a tendril of the Force. It wormed through the cracks in this thoughts and constricted around his consciousness. She pushed away everything he was and left only one thing: her absolute will. She could feel him pushing back against her, but her domination was complete.

If Bareesh had been as well informed as she pretended to be, the merchant would have seized the opportunity to go on the offensive. As it was, the chance passed her by while Kelly was locked in place. Shakily at first, the Quaestor forced the man to kneel. His baton clattered to the ground as his hands opened and pressed against the cold durasteel, pressing his forehead against it submissively.

Kelly let out a long breath and staggered forward somewhat as she relinquished control over him. Fatigue clung to the ethereal muscles she used to manipulate the Force. She still wasn’t finished yet and bolstered her resolve. The man realised all too late he was back in full command of his body, looking up to see the amber streak arcing towards him.

Alone at last, the Quaestor from Plagueis sized up Bareesh and pointed the tapered tip of her lightsaber toward the merchant. “I expect there will be…no further issues with this transaction?”

“None!” the merchant declared quickly. “None whatsoever!”

Outside the shanty, the little girl who had guided Kelly here giggled to herself and deactivated her holo-recorder. She allowed a grin as she turned to leave once again. It had turned out far more interesting than she had expected at first. It was a good thing she decided to come back. After all, sometimes it paid to be a touch inquisitive.

\–End Of Record…


(Atra Ventus) #5

Fiction From [GJW XII] ACC Phase I - Launch - 06/25/2017


Norwal Station
Arkanis Sector, Outer Rim Territories

The dimly lit corridors of Norwal Station seemed to go on forever, winding this way and that. It was a side effect of design born from an attempt to partition the interior into residential and commercial sections. There was always a need for more direct routes to get to your destination. Usually, it wasn’t a problem. You had time to get your bearings and find your way.

Usually, you weren’t being chased.

A group of Omwati refugees rounded the next corner, their beaks clacking with panic as they glanced back over their shoulders. From the similar shades and patterns of their feathered crowns, it was easy to see the avian humanoids were a family. One of the youngest, unable to keep up with the rapid sprint, was held firmly in the grasp of one of their strongest. Vanya glanced down at the small girl in his arms, his spindly fingers secure around her arm. He leaned his forehead down to press against hers.

“Faster!” a female at the back called ahead. “They’re still coming.”

An angry sounding male offered up his opinion unbidden from somewhere in the group. “They shouldn’t even be ‘coming’ at all! We were told it was safe here!”

“It doesn’t matter, Falthor. We make for the transports,” Vanya replied calmly.

An aggressive chattering came before Falthor replied. “Do you even know where the hangar is at this point?”

“No, I don’t,” the lead Omwati replied, unwilling to lie to his fellows.

“How convenient then, that I do,” a voice cut in from down the hall.

Vanya narrowed his eyes and focused on the outline approaching them. The newcomer was tall and sounded distinctly male. As he came into view completely, the Omwati recognized him to be a Pau’an by his features alone. It wasn’t like the vertical furrows through the man’s grey skin weren’t a dead giveaway on their own, but it was impossible to miss when coupled with his inky black eyes.

Korroth stood as a beacon of calm tranquility within the miasmic turmoil of the corridors. The group stopped, their momentary confusion pushing back at their fight-or-flight instincts. The Pau’an inclined his head and spread his arms out to reassure them that he was no threat. “You are being chased by the Inquisition. Now is not the best of times to stop running,” he pointed out.

“You are—”

“Your way out. This way.”

Vanya glanced back at his family before giving in to a resigned sigh. He refused to lead them into the threat of the unknown. “Are you with them?”

“They’re going to catch up,” Falthor reminded them.

Korroth’s lips twitched though his expression didn’t change. The thought of being counted among the Sith, one of the dividers of the galaxy, was most perturbing. “No. I am their enemy,” he answered.

The Omwati leader had been watching the newcomer carefully, looking for more than just the words of his reply. The young girl in Vanya’s arms reached up and grabbed his shoulder a little tighter, pulling him somewhat towards the Pathfinder from Odan-Urr. “Let’s go then,” Vanya consented.

The Pau’an nodded and gestured down a side corridor, waiting for them all to pass. He glanced down the way they had come hoping to gauge just how much leeway they had. A sudden violet glow emerged from the darkness and windmilled through the air with a loud thrumming cadence.

Korroth barely pulled his head back in time. He quickly swatted at the nearby control panel and sealed the side corridor off from their aggressors. He ran at full tilt to catch up with the group of Omwati, using his long leg span to catch up with relative ease.

“Where are we going?” Vanya asked with a shout.

“Keep moving ahead,” Korroth managed between carefully even breaths. He knew the unarmored door would only be a temporary distraction for the Inquisitors. They needed to get to the transports as soon as possible.

Thankfully, escape was closer than the Omwati had realised. In their mad dash they had managed to move from one corner of station to nearly the opposite end. They were close to the auxiliary hangar. That was the entry point the Lotus had chosen to counteract the Inquisition’s unexpected assault which had taken out the primary ports. Some might say such fortune had been the will of the Force. These were good people, after all. Innocents. The only frustration—if one could call it that—came from Korroth’s inability to do more to disrupt the plans of the Sith. He would merely have to be content saving those he could.

“I see the hangar!” Falthor cried out excitedly.

Korroth quickened his stride and pulled past several of the others, coming out of the corridor closer to the front than the back of the pack. He was ready to signal the pilot to start loading the Omwati onto the transport but had to stop in his tracks instead.

He watched with more than a hint of incredulity as the reinforced doors came together just outside the force field and sealed them within the hangar. Their way out completely cut off. Korroth reached to the green sash around his waist and unclipped his lightsaber. The emerald blade came to life with a snap-hiss. He held the weapon high and angled towards the corridor, a more aggressive stance that belied the line of ferocity and control the Pathfinder had to walk every time he fought.

A low chuckle answered his ready stance, announcing the arrival of their hunters. A pair of Inquisitors came into view, the taller of the two still holding his violet blade casually at his side with the tip carving through the alloys beneath their feet. Their features couldn’t be made out due to the nature of the Inquisition’s armor. Dark robes layered with thin armor plates and a full hood with a half-face mask, it disguised them completely while simultaneously clearly labelling them for what they were. The armor was utterly contradictory in that way.

“You know, I’m not a fan of running,” the saber wielding Inquisitor announced with a grumble.

The other Inquisitor—female, judging by her chestplate—glanced towards him before sighing and raising her blaster rifle. “You’ll get over it,” she said while trying to decide between the original Omwati targets and Korroth.

“Neither of you shall succeed this day,” the Pau’an declared through pointed teeth. He motioned for the group behind him to continue towards the transports, making sure to put himself between the Inquisitors and their prey.

Sparks hissed into the air as the saber-wielding Inquisitor flourished his blade, swinging it from side to side. Glowing orange trails marked the ground to either side of him now. “There weren’t s’posed to be no Jedi on this one,” he sneered. “Gonna have more fun than I thought.” He began to stalk towards the Jedi standing in his path.

“Hold up,” the woman said suddenly. She raised her left forearm, which was supporting her rifle barrel, and eyed her Inquisitors comlink. “The hell… ?”

Korroth risked a glance over his shoulder and noted the Omwati were almost at the transport. He needed to take advantage of the unexpected distraction. The Pau’an opened himself completely to the flow of the Force, letting it fill and energize him as it saturated his muscles. He crossed the distance between himself and the enemy Inquisitors in only a few steps. He swung his emerald blade in a quick slant, aiming to sever the stock of the female Inquisitor’s rifle with a single strike, even if it meant taking the woman’s arm with it.

A blur of movement came at the corner of Korroth’s eye, causing him to halt his advance and spin to meet the oncoming threat. The male Inquisitor’s red blade came about more like a club than a blade, battering against Korroth’s own weapon. There was no holding back by the Inquisitor. He threw every ounce of his strength into each strike, aiming to utterly overwhelm the taller Pau’an and end the fight decidedly.

It wasn’t going to work.

Korroth danced back and began to tap into the conduit of emotions between himself and his opponent. He would feed upon it and grow stronger, more effective. The Pathfinder would ensure his victory against the Sith.

“Ah kriff, back off! We gotta back off!” the woman called out, glancing between her comlink and the sudden clash of Jedi and Sith.

The male Inquisitor dashed forward and brought his boot up against Korroth, catching him in the midsection and forcing him several feet back. “What?”

“We gotta let them go,” she replied before leaning around the man to eye Korroth. “New orders just came in.”

“You’re kidding me, they’re right here! I’m finishing this,” the man growled, advancing towards the Pau’an once more.

“Kain, it’s from the Voice himself. If you would stop and use your brain for half a second—”

“To the void with his karkin’ orders. This catch is all I have left to become a High Inquisitor!”

“She’s right, you know,” a monotonous yet slightly lilting voice declared. Another robed form exited the corridor, this one possessing a segmented cloak that extended from underneath his armored pauldrons. His hood was raised, disguising most of his features beneath its shroud. “Stand down, Inquisitor.”

“Not happening.”

The corner of the newcomer’s mouth tugged ever so slightly. “That’s unfortunate.”

Seeing that “Kain” was still fully invested in a violence resolution, Korroth prepared himself for the coming assault despite his confusion. Both the Inquisitor and the newcomer charged at the same time. The Pau’an grit his teeth and readied for somehow managing two opponents at once.

The sequence of events that transpired next were even more confusing. Korroth gripped his hilt with two hands and swung upward while twisting his body to the side, a cleaving motion intended to meet the oncoming overhand strike from Kain’s crimson blade. At the same time, the newcomer’s saber was firmly grasped in his right hand but remained inactive until his arm was already mid-swing. The newcomer’s cerulean blade crackled to life in a series of sparks. It deactivated just as quickly, but the damage had been done. Kain’s right leg fell to the ground, no longer able to support his weight as it was cut clean through at the knee.

Suddenly off balance, the man could do nothing to protect himself against Korroth’s countering strike. Kain’s body was carved cleanly from groin to shoulder in the span of a single heartbeat.

Korroth didn’t stop to ask questions. He bounced back several steps and kept his lightsaber pointed towards the other man. His eyes narrowed as he recognized the Combat Master’s features beneath the hood.

Atra Ventus sighed and pulled back his hood before pinching the bridge of his nose. “I take it you had the brains here?” he asked the remaining Inquisitor.

“Seems so,” she answered quickly.

“The hunt is over.”

“Aye.”

“What are you talking about?” Korroth interrupted, still ready for another attack.

“Hm?” The Umbaran glanced back at the Jedi, acting as if he had momentarily forgotten about Korroth’s presence. He met the Pau’an’s inky gaze with the golden starbursts at the center of his completely black eyes. “Pretty sure I didn’t stutter,” Atra murmured before clarifying. “The Voice and Deputy Grand Master were rather blunt about it.”

Korroth narrowed his eyes at Atra, putting more space between them. “And what of your Grand Master’s orders?”

“Pravus is… indisposed. The Voice has sole authority regarding the Inquisitorius as of now.”

“You’re lying,” Korroth declared. “Merely one of your Sith tricks.”

“You know, I don’t actually need you to believe me,” the Combat Master replied with a shrug. He motioned to the remaining Inquisitor and followed her down the corridor. There was a pregnant pause as Korroth counted the moments until the trick would be revealed and they would attack again.

He waited longer still, yet nothing happened.

Korroth, what’s going on?” a voice crackled over his commlink.

“I’m not sure. Open a secure link to SeNet. Trickery or not, I have something to report…”