[Arcona] House Qel-Droma - Operation: Legacy

Welcome to the House Qel-Droma run-on “Operation: Legacy”

This will be a two and half weekish run-on to bridge between Operation: Figureheads and Fading Light.

Blatantly stolen from Atty’s prompt (love ya Soul Sista!):

Each Battleteam will work both together and within their own teams for the Run-On, and will be posting in this single thread. Be focused on both each other and your own tasks, and try to keep your posts and stories cohesive. Be conscious of what the other teams are doing (you’ll even have some help with this). An OCC (Out of Character) thread has been set up as well. Communication is the most important part of Run-Ons, so talk to each other.

There will be three teams, Apex Brigade led by DJK Adam Bolera, Arete led by OP Celevon Edraven, and a house team led by DJK Turel Sorenn. Battle Team members will post with their battle teams unless they coordinate joining another team. House members not in a battle team can either post with the House team or join a battle team (for posting purposes, unless you just want to join a BT) by contacting the team leader.

##Please disable signatures when posting.


General Ground Rules:

  1. No Out-of-Universe Profanity. Star Wars has its own curse words; use them.
  2. No Nudity or Pornographic post content; any such posts will be removed and reported.
  3. Post count is minimum 250 words; minimum 2 posts to qualify for the competition, no upper limit. Clusters of Ice will be awarded based on the Voice guidelines. The competition will be judged based on quality of writing, story development, number of posts, and post length.
  4. You cannot post consecutively; get a friend involved, or encourage another.
  5. Try to avoid curve-balls; you’re not going to round a corner and run into Muz Ashen, or find the ghost of Jango Fett. Use what you’ve got.

Above all this is for fun, character development and training for future Brotherhood competitions. If you have any questions please contact your BTL, Turel or Valtiere.

Make a great story,

- The House Qel-Droma Summit

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Week 1 Prompt

Quaestor’s Office
Phantom Complex, Port Ol’val

The screens cast a sickly light in the small room, the entire wall showing reports, surveillance feeds, maps and blueprints. It was a baffling array of information bombarding the sole occupant of the room.

Nikola Valtiere looked positively ghoulish in the artificial light, one eye flicking back and forth between different screens, notes hastily scratched down on a pad, crabbed handwriting covering the pages in front of him. As individuals, the information on the screen was meaningless. But united, lines and conclusions connecting them, they became a web of conspiracy and planning.

There was a knock on the door, and a man dressed in armour that seemed to belong more on the parade ground than a dingy office in the shadow complex allowed another to step through. An unassuming figure stepped in, eying the small room, nothing more than a raised eyebrow.

“Turel. Welcome.” Valtiere said simply, not looking up. The pen kept scratching across the page.

The pair hadn’t worked much together since Turel had taken the post of Aedile. In fact, Valtiere had rarely been seen by any members recently. And then a summons from the Quaestor’s Fade in the small hours. Red string and adhesive labels made a tangled web over screens. The sight didn’t fill him with confidence about the meeting. Valtiere finally put the pen down, and turned to Turel.

“We have a problem. The recent infighting has allowed One Sith agents free reign through our territories. They’ve set up cells to take advantage of that. What looks like a loose collection of different groups engaging in innocent tasks is a concerted effort.” His hands shot out as he spoke, indicating the tabs on the strings, the maps, the blueprints, forming the picture he had seen. He ended pointing at a picture of Qel-Droma Temple.

“A concerted effort to deface or demolish our Temple.” He picked up the papers he had been scribbling on, a grin touching his face.

“But they aren’t quiet enough to escape my notice! They’ve left clues. Mistakes for a diligent observer to pick up. Assemble the BTL’s. We need to stop this before it escalated beyond a plan.” He straightened, regaining composure in front of the new Aedile. “I will brief them personally.”


The Qel-Droman Summit met around an expansive table. At the centre was a large holo-projector which hummed into life, projecting Arconae Primus in front of them all. A point was highlighted. The Temple of Qel-Droma. Specifics floated in the air around the orb hanging in front of them.

“Over the past two months, while we were…otherwise engaged… One Sith Agents have been building up cells working in concert, blind of each other, to do irreparable damage to our Temple. They’re taking advantage of the lack of focus on our own assets, they’re planning on making us pay for our inward gaze. A number of archeological digs and mining expeditions changed staff recently, which is understandable. It is my belief that among these new staff members are cell operatives. They have hidden themselves well, but there are inconsistencies, mistakes only careful combing of the facts have uncovered. Bolera.” He turned to the leader of Apex Brigade, deadly hunters paired with droids. “Find these targets, from the mining crews. I want at least one alive for questioning. The rest, you have carte blanche.” The corner of Valtiere’s mouth flicked upwards at the end of the sentence.

“Edraven. I want Arete to investigate the Archeological teams. Intel points to these individuals…” Headshots popped up beside the holo,”…being agents. Again, I’d like one alive for questioning. I need to know who their leaders are.”

“You mind if I handle the… questioning? I’m sure I can persuade them to cooperate,” Arete’s Commander gave a small smirk, fingering one of the many blades hidden on his person.

The newly appointed Aedile shifted uncomfortably, “So, what are my marching orders boss?” The errant Jedi Knight received an audible sigh and icy stare from a glowing mechanical eye in return.

Valtiere let the momentary slight of his Aedile’s apparent lack of faith in his attention to detail slide. He made a mental note to have another chat with the Knight at a later date regarding what he expected from his officers. The Sith Battlemaster shifted the holo map again, “Your job, Turel, is to assemble a team of the remaining House forces, provide support to Arete and secure the interior of the temple itself. I understand from your file you have some experience with explosives yes?”

Turel cracked a roguish smirk, “You could say that.”

“Good. Scour the temple for any and all explosive charges.”

“Too easy, I’ll grab some droids and we’ll search every crevice.” The aspiring Obelisk folded his arms in a gesture of confidence.

The Qel-Droma Quaestor eyed his summit with a critical eye, “If there are no further questions, gentlemen you are dismissed.”

Shadow Complex,
Port Ol’val, Asteroid Field, Dajorra System
1832 Hours

The Onderonian had caught the subtle nod from Valtiere in response to his question and remained silent until the others had departed before speaking up.

“Sir, as you are aware, Timeros is still away on that assignment set by the Dark Council on Begeren. Do you mind if I pull in some friends from my time with the Army Corps?”

“Do you need someone to handle the duties of the XO?” the Sith queried, his mismatched eyes focused on the Prelate.

“That’s a negative, sir. I was informing you because I need access to DIA records and their Agents would give me miles of red tape to work through,” Celevon explained quickly as he pulled a pack of cigarettes and lit one, offering one to the Quaestor. “My friends from the Army can help if I’m to eliminate all of the leaders at once, especially if there are more than my members currently consist of in Arete.”

The other male shook his head in the negative at the smoke offer, trying to act as though their differences in the recent weeks had not occurred. “I’ll have an Agent contact you directly. You may use whatever resources are available to you. Anything else?”

“Negative. Thank you for the assistance.”

“I’ll contact you if there is anything else. Dismissed.”

The Obelisk nodded, his mercurial eyes gleaming with satisfaction and definitive eagerness at the task he had been given as he made his way from the meeting room. The Shadesworn moved swiftly down the hall, heading for one of the many pieces of art that lined the halls of the Shadow Complex. Celevon pulled a comlink from a tailored pocket in his robes and attached it to his ear.

“Contact Slicer.” The unit started beeping in a slow, irritating manner as the Commander ran his fingers down a painting of a dark-haired figure in combat with fire. The Assassin prodded the small glyph within the flames, which caused the framed painting itself and the wall behind it to swing open on silent hinges. “I need to get this frakking thing fixed…”

“Is that you, Stalker?”

“Yes. Meet me at the rendezvous point in… three hours. I have a proposition you will be interested in,” the Equite gave a slight smirk as he entered his old ‘office’. He had declined the offered sleeping quarters for an Officer when he had transferred from House Galeres.

“Roger that. See you there.”

However, when he became Battleteam Leader of Shadow Phyle, they put the former Sniper of Soulfire into an empty office and told him to ‘make it his own’. It wasn’t until a week after the Summit Guard had spoken to the Assassin and hours of work that Celevon discovered the concealed passage that led to the Summit Level, a large maze of passages and rooms beneath ground level of the Shadow Complex and an area of Port Ol’val itself.

It wasn’t long after he was promoted that the Obelisk found a bedroom behind a different portrait and three concealed compartments within. One was the size of the living room, the second was clearly crafted to hold large valuables and the third just large enough to hold enough items to fill a duffel bag. The second was opened with a small use of telekinesis, as the trigger was in the wall behind the case of medals the Onderonian had earned.

It opened to reveal a durasteel mask, a katana and a handful of smaller blades. Celevon quickly grabbed every item and armed himself appropriately, saving the mask for last. The room around the Prelate darkened slightly as he strapped it together at the back of his head, moments before he pulled the hood of his cloak up.

A smirk crossed the Assassin’s lips as he ran his finger over a button, hitting it lightly. All members in the system would know it was time for Arete to meet. The location was decided upon and updated twice a week, so they all knew where to go.

‘I’m looking forward to this…’

Phantom Complex, Port Ol’Val

Adam released an exasperated sigh as he slipped through the transport door and away from the rest of the Qel-Droman summit. He approached the pilot, who was reclining in his seat and thumbing away at a holozine. The pilot jumped, startled by the Knight subtly announcing his presence by placing a hand on the shoulder of his seat.

“Ah- Bolera! Sir! We are… um… approved for launch! Destination, sir?” he stammered in a half startled, half stiffened military reply. Adam cast his eyes over the pilot’s reading material as he tried to stuff it under his thigh; that month’s edition of “Miss Galaxy”. The leader of the Apex Brigade just chuckled and glided back into the passenger cabin.

“Get me to Primus, close to the temple. Mining expedition sites should have something to land on,” he called back over his shoulder, the pilot rapidly nodding as he took his orders. Adam turned to sit and produced his datapad from his coat. He glanced again at the pilot as he picked through information on the temple. “Do it in the next two hours, and you keep your entertainment with your commanders none the wiser.” At that, the pilot went through the fastest takeoff cycle of his life.

Apex Brigade Nerve Center
Abandoned Dajorra Asteroid Mining Facility

“Who feels up for a vacation?” the Brigade leader’s voice echoed through the massive chamber of derelict offices. His visage flickered into view through the crackling static on the hastily arranged screens surrounding their improvised information center. Kanis Da’uul, reclined in a couch scavenged from one of the battleteam’s many contracts, patched his leader through.

“Last time you said ‘vacation’, you went to Tatooine, so please forgive our confusion.” the Coruscanti answered as the rest of the team converged on the screens.

“That turned out fine, didn’t it?”

“You nearly died of heat exhaustion! And a number of other things besides!”

Nearly. Thank you for further illustrating my point. Anyone not predisposed with a contract is coming, the temple is being threatened.”

“On Arconae Primus?” Ernordeth Puer-Irae inquired.

“Ew, a bit ancient, war-torn and abandoned for my taste in vacation spots.” Kanis groaned.

“Specifically the mining expeditions. One Sith agents have slipped through the cracks of staff cycles and are working to tear us apart from underneath.” Adam clarified.

“Taking us apart while we appear weak. That little rebellion you were part of drew too much attention.” Ernordeth pinpointed his leader’s role in the recent Arconan infighting, with Adam’s raised hand conceding the point.

“Guilty as charged, but just to get Arcona out of the war. Remember who the enemy is here, prove to them that we aren’t divided and weak. The Summit wants at least one agent out of the four or five of them alive for questioning, but all need to be flushed out one way or another. They’re being smart hiding amongst civilian workers, but Valtiere’s intel should make them easier to pinpoint and minimize collateral damage. Look for people who don’t know what they’re doing, inconsistencies in manifests and such, given that they’re likely stealing our resources as well.”

Kanis released an emphatic groan. “Dark tunnels, One Sith espionage, shipping manifests, mining equipment and the unsettlingly high number of ways to die in a cave are also not things I associate with ‘vacation’. I’d check the definition again, Adam.”

“We should be mindful of our environment,” Ernordeth chimed in again, “I’d imagine that the One Sith would have no qualms about bringing the tunnels down on us and every civilian worker if their operation was compromised.”

Adam’s distorted face nodded through the static. “Agreed. Pinpoint the agents and neutralize them as quickly as possible. I want maximum deployment; bring your droids. I’m not taking any chances with-”

“Efficiency?” Kanis quipped, a slightly sadistic twinge to his grin. Ernordeth wore a similar expression. Adam was well aware of their pent up frustration from recent events; he had to make sure it was directed carefully at the enemy.

“No chances with the lives of the civvie workers, we can’t lose the support of the system’s populace. I’m en route now, gear up and move. Keep one agent alive. Do what you will with the others.”

Phantom Complex, Port Ol’val

The new Aedile departed the Quaestor’s office deep in thought, this was still a lot to take in. Turel’s orientation to his new home and position were still ongoing, as evidenced by his tendency to get turned around on his way to his own office. Trying to absorb all this new information was like trying to drink from a running fire hose. Now was it left or right here to get to the Operations Center? Where is that kid when you need him?

Almost on cue, a spry, young human male Ensign from the Arconan Navy rounded the corner and noticed the Aedile standing at a hallway intersection with a confused look. Ensign Tarish Bowman was less than a year out of the academy and assigned by Valtiere as a command attaché to help get the former Jedi Knight up to speed and situated. The Ensign was twenty-one, but Turel still insisted on referring to him as the ‘the kid.’ Wow, he’s good.

“Oh there you are sir, I was waiting in the Operations Center when I saw the Summit meeting had let out.” The young naval officer moved briskly to the Obelisk’s side like a loyal hound. “Is there something I can help you with?”

Having come up working with thugs, criminal enforcers and most recently raggedy Jedi-led militias, Turel was uncomfortable with the stiffness of military protocol. “Uh… yes actually, you can help me. I need everything we have on the old Qel-Droma Temple on Arconae Primus sent to my office, especially schematics. I have a mission to plan.”

The blonde haired Ensign’s bright blue eyes lit up with an almost childlike excitement at the prospect of being needed by a superior. He came to a crisp attention right in the middle of the hallway. “I’ll have all the information we have sent directly to your terminal sir! Right away!”

There was a moment of awkward silence where Turel had no clue what he was supposed to do next. Am I supposed to salute or something? “Thanks kid-” he winced at his own faux pas, “Ensign. Thank you, Ensign Bowman.” The youthful staff officer grinned ever so slightly in an approving but not condescending way, like a friendly shopkeeper watching a tourist struggle with the local language. “That will be all for now.” I’m pretty sure I’ve heard Valterie say that when he wants these uniform types to leave.

“Aye, aye, sir.” Ensign Summers rendered a crisp salute which Turel awkwardly returned then executed a parade field about face to return to the Operations Center.

Realizing the Ensign was now headed to the very place he needed to go but didn’t know how to get to, Turel decided to discretely follow the young officer. He’d learn his way around this maze eventually.


Aedile’s Office
Phantom Complex, Port Ol’val
Two hours later

“If you need anything sir, I will be in the Operations Center.” Ensign Bowman brought himself to attention in front of the Aedile’s desk.

With the young officer’s chest directly in front of him, Turel couldn’t help but notice the Ensign’s uniform lacked the bling of the other Operations Officers. Even Valtiere had several bits of flair on his otherwise elegant, yet simple uniform. This led him to wonder why the kid was on assignment in a senior headquarters anyway. It was traditional in ground armies for a general to keep a very junior officer as an aide-de-camp but Valtiere was very Sith and very Navy. The Obelisk Aedile didn’t have the first clue about Naval tradition. I like the kid, maybe I’ll see about keeping him on for a while.

“You’re dismissed Ensign. Thank you for your hard work these past few days, you’ve been a great help.”

“You’re very welcome sir!” The pair exchanged salutes and the young officer left the office with a noticeable pep in his step. Turel smiled knowing that those few words of thanks were like giving the kid a medal.

As the door to his office closed with a whoosh, he felt a shift in the air, like something had moved. There was no one else in the room, he couldn’t sense anything through the Force. Still, the hair stood up on the back of his neck and he couldn’t shake the sense that he wasn’t alone.

I’m still getting used to the place. Turel shrugged and returned to the maps of the Qel-Droma temple, his mind half on the mission and half trying to decide which of Port Ol’val’s taverns he’d try later tonight. He studied maps and old survey reports for several minutes before thinking out loud, “Why the temple though? I just don’t get it. The place is supposed to be completely empty. Why attack an empty location?”

Turel’s question to himself got an unexpected reply. “Because that Temple holds the soul of House Qel-Droma.”

The Aedile was startled in a way he hadn’t been since first learning to touch the Force. One moment the room was empty; he couldn’t see anything or sense anything through the Force. No warning, then poof, a figure answered his question as it stepped out of the shadows.

Turel lept out of his chair with unnatural speed, his hand on the hilt of his lightsaber. He may have peed a little. “WHAT THE KRIFF!! Lord Marick?!” He slowly moved his hand away from his lightsaber and relaxed his stance. “How did you- where did you- wow!”

If the Consul felt any amusement at nearly scaring one of his Aediles to death, he certainly didn’t show it. His face was as stoic as it was the only time Turel had actually spoke with him. “I’m here to make sure you have everything you need.”

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“Er, I mean, I think so, yea,” Turel shifted from foot to foot, straightened his posture and hardened his features. It was an old habit he had picked up when dealing with predators in the underworld. While Marick was his superior and ally now, the Arconae was most certainly a predator, and would spot weakness.

The Shadow Lord nodded once, his glacial eyes shifting unconsciously around the office, taking in every detail and filing it away. His face remained impassive as his attention settled on a service award hanging on the wall. Marick padded silently towards the medal and adjusted it so that it was properly aligned at the center. He nodded at the medal, then turned back towards his new Aedile.

“I’m sure you understand what’s at stake, and don’t need me to hold your hand on the matter. You’re new here, but I am confident you will not have any problems with the shadowport, based on your history.”

Turel nodded once. Marick walked towards the former mercenary and pulled out a datapad from the folds of his robes. Their eyes touched for a moment as the exchange happened, and Sorren noticed that there was no sense of judgment apparent in his superior’s eyes. He didn’t see the scarring of his face. No cringe, no glint of pity.

Marick Arconae simply regarded him for what he was: an asset. Turel wasn’t sure whether that was comforting or disconcerting. For now, he had other matters to attend to.

“I’ve signed off with the quartermaster, and our ‘friends’ at Naruba Investments,” the Consul explained in a calm and even voice. “They have been instructed to give you full access to our database and information. Oblivion Brigade is also at your disposal, and any of our contacts established on Ol’val.”

Looking down quickly at the datapad, Turel nodded as he tapped a few buttons. His eyes widened, but Marick did not smile or show any sign of smugness. How did he do that? “There has to be some type of mistake here,” he started to say, but cut off as the Consul rose one hand.

“And yes,” Marick continued, “I’ve also given you access to whatever funds you need to handle this manner. There are advantages to assimilating into the shadowport, which I’m sure you’ll come to appreciate.”

Turel nodded numbly, looking back up at his Consul.

“It should also serve to remind you to watch yourself here. I’m sure Valtiere has briefed you on the low-key policy with your powers and abilities. Should be natural, for you.”

Turel didn’t cringe at his past being brought up so casually, but held firm. “Yes, Lord Consul.”
Marick nodded his seeming approval and turned to leave in a more conventional manner to his arrival. Before the doors slid open, Turel called out.

“How can you…why are you trusting me with all of this? You’ve spoken no more than three words to me prior to this meeting, and now you show up here all shadow-ninja-like and just give me the keys to the company and say, ‘have fun.’”

“Literally?” Marick asked flatly.

“Figuratively!” Turel exclaimed, catching himself in the act of snarking his new boss.

Marick tilted his head, but didn’t seem to take offense. His face remained that same stoic mask.

A few beats passed as he seemed to mull over a response to the initial question.

“I don’t trust anyone,” the Consul replied simply. “At a certain point, though, you have to give the people you believe in a chance. I’ve done my homework on you. I am confident you will rise to the challenge.”

Turel didn’t gulp. A bug must have snuck into his throat. Yea, that.

“And If I don’t?”

“I believe you’re smart enough to do the math,” Marick continued as he barely shrugged a shoulder. “Take a look at the list of people who have betrayed my trust. It’s not a very long list for a reason.”

For all its weight, there was no threat or spite in Marick Arconae’s words. It was a simple statement of fact, like a mechanic explaining the difference between an acceleration throttle and a brake lever. Turel had been bullied, and had done it to others before. Threats were nothing new. This…was entirely different.

“And the fact that I was Knighted as a Jedi and spent the better part of the last year fighting for the Jedi?” Turel replied, hoping the continued dialogue would mask the feeling of the durasteel floor beneath his feet melting into a puddle.

Marick blinked once as he processed the statement, looking off into the distance at nothing in particular. After a moment, his attention flicked back towards the Aedile.

“I have a theory,” he spoke plainly. “The Force, as it exists, is neither dark or light. It is like the sun, the trees…the planets themselves. Can these things be good or evil? The Krath can debate that until the nerfs come home.”

Turel thought he caught a flicker of annoyance flicker across the Consul’s eyes. It was a slight thing, the corners of his eyes wrinkling.

“The Force is a tool,” Marick continued, maintaining his even tone. “It is the energy of life. It is indiscriminate. The sun will disintegrate a body whether it dark or light. So who are we to put a label on what the Force is?”

Turel’s mind performed a neat set of backflips as he took in the Consul’s words. They weren’t what he had expected from the leader of a Clan of Dark Jedi. Then again, Odan-Urr’s intel never really delved into the current Shadow Lord’s personality, only his exploits. His tone remained explanative, no hint of condescension or persuasion present. He spoke as if explaining what his favorite blend of tea was.

Marick gestured at Turel’s lightsaber. “You are an Obelisk Templar now, but that is not who you are. You are Turel Sorenn, and your path is your own.”

“Understood…sir,” Turel said with determination kindling in his chest.

The Shadow Lord nodded and exited, disappearing as silently as he had arrived.

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Summit Transport Shuttle,
Entering Selen’s Atmosphere
Dajorra System

“Turbulence,” the masked Pilot calmly reported as the vessel shook. “Where would you like to land, Prelate Edraven?”

“Giletta Spaceport. I’ll make my own way to the Citadel,” the Assassin replied without a moment of hesitation.

“Right you are, sir. We’ll be landing as soon as they clear us.”

The armored trooper sounded and walked like a clone, but Celevon was unsure and proceeded to feign indifference. The Onderonian resisted the urge to light a cigarette, holding the wrapped cylinder between his fingers. Having the light durasteel mask in a duffel meant he could smoke as he wished without having to lift it to have his lips free.

“Giletta Spaceport, this is shuttle AF23I requesting permission to land.”

“What do you have on board? One moment… Scanning that docking n-”

“Ma’am, is there a problem?”

“Th- No! No problem at all,. You may dock in the first free space you locate.”

The Pilot gave what the Obelisk assumed was an amused glance. “Roger that. Coming in for a landing now.”

The Assassin didn’t say a word, simply smirking in response until the masked Navy Corps Officer shut down the communication.

“It pays to use my landing code, since that one is for Diplomats of the Shogunate of Tao Feng on Eldar,” the Shadicar pointed out, paying little attention to the Pilot. “You may return to your post as soon as I have departed.”

“As you command, sir.”

~()~

Second Floor Balcony, Club Trauma
Outskirts, Estle City
1300 Hours

The Onderonian took a long pull off of his cigarette, tendrils of smoke escaping his lips and drifting upwards before disappearing from view. The dark clouds of a coming storm cast the area in a blanket of darkness, the silence before the storm making every noise audible. The thrumming bass and furious drum beats of the live musical performance were an almost soothing reassurance to contradict the forks of lightning that leapt across the sky.

The loud crack of thunder startled Celevon from his near meditative state, as he had been gathering Force energy from the violent malestrom brewing on the horizon. An approaching presence caused the Obelisk to instinctively slip a blade into his palm, concealed by the uniform black folds of his cloak. The bag containing the durasteel mask and his Shadesworn Robes sat atop the table before him.

“I’m surprised to see you waiting, Edraven. Usually you appear at the exact time mentioned,” the familiar gruff voice and rumpled appearance of Colonel Eamon Syklauk, Ninth Division Commander of the Arcona Army Corps and Commanding Officer of the Majestic-class Heavy Cruiser Lictor, came into view.

The Shadesworn slipped the small dagger back into his sleeve after showing the blade to his former instructor from Camp Hell, where the cohesive specialist training of Soulfire Strike Team took place for several months before each member could be transferred to active duty.

At least, that was the tradition when the Onderonian’s former Master had been the Sergeant of the Galerean Battleteam.

“I do try to enjoy myself on occasion, ‘Ras. You should try it some time,” the Prelate retorted, handing over a datapad containing the mission information. “This is what my problem is. I need… some old friends to lend a hand.”

“Oh?” Syklauk queried, taking in the details of the device with clearly experienced eyes. “Lots of redacted information on this… Encoded to destroy itself? Interesting…”

“I regret that this information is as is available for your clearance level within the DIA. I need Spectre Cell.”

“You will owe me a favor, for a change. How many of them?”

“At least a quarter,” the Assassin replied quickly, keeping their tones low.

“Granted, so long as I can join in with all of the means at my disposal.”

“I will be in touch with my superiors and inform you as soon as I have an answer,” Celevon bowed in his seat, an oddly graceful motion despite his position.

“Good. We must have a drink or two afterwards,” the Colonel gave a small smirk before slipping a cigarra between his lips. “You have a light?”

The Obelisk held out a primitive flame tool that had the sealed appearance of a small black rectangle with designs upon it. “Keep it. I have more,” the former Soulfire Sniper calmly ordered as he shook the older Human’s extended hand, slipping the zippo into Syklauk’s palm. An annoyingly familiar beep-beep-beep came from his belt. “Please, excuse me. Colonel. I’ll comm you later to keep you in the loop.”

“Much appreciated, Edraven.”

As the Assassin walked away, Eamon Erasmus Syklauk lit his flavored cigarra and exhaled a plume of smoke. Before placing the object in his pocket, as was his habit, the Colonel decided to inspect the flint tool. On one side was an acid-etched image of the mythical Grim Reaper in startling detail. The CO of Spectre Cell flipped the lighter in his hand and spotted an inscription in the Force-User’s handwriting, written in Mando’a. It took the indoctrinated Eldarian Ranger a moment to mentally translate the words.

‘Mount up, Spectres.’

The Selenian local chuckled to himself as he pocketed the zippo. He had served with the native warriors of Eldar long enough to know that the Shadicar had reformed their elite members into the team now under his command. “I’ll pass along the message, Stalker. You put out the call. Spectre Cell will answer it.”

~()~

Courtyard, Arcona Citadel
Estle City, Selen
1345 Hours

“You’ve called and we’ve gathered, Commander,” Invictus spoke without prompting the moment the Prelate entered earshot. “Though I still wonder why this place has been chosen as a briefing area.”

“It’s due to the fact that I have informed our Consul of my absence from the Contract Offices and he requested my presence here. We will also not be disturbed so long as the Summit Guard is aware of our meeting. Right, to business,” Celevon replied, pulling off the thick black robes to reveal a more form-fitting leather and cloth ensemble. The Onderonian glanced curiously at the sleeping twins in a decorative but sturdy stroller before he turned his gaze momentarily to the recent mother, letting the robes fall to the ground.

The Commander took a quick glance around, instinctively checking his surroundings before he turned his attention to his go-bag. The gleaming hilt of his lightsaber remained in place with an over-the-shoulder holster similar in design to that of Jedi Master Rahm Kota from the Clone Wars and the subsequent Jedi Purge.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, Celevon…” the only female member hesitantly spoke up, unsure whether or not formalities were required. She watched curiously as her friend and godfather to both of her and Andrelious’ twin daughters crouched to pull items out of his duffel bag. The Obelisk was the only Qel-Droman godparent, as the other three were members of House Galeres: Aedile Atyiru Caesus Entar, former Soulfire Sergeant Nadrin Erinos Arconae and Andrelious’ oldest child, Saskia Ortega-Inahj.

“Yes, Kooki?” the Prelate queried absently as he sheathed the matte black blade of his katana in a manner similar to that of his lightsaber, though on the opposing shoulder and that appeared to be a custom part of the outfit.

“I’m reporting for duty despite your orders to remain at home with my children. Atyiru has been shot and is undergoing treatment; Andrelious, Nadrin and Saskia are out working with Soulfire. I’m a nervous wreck an-”

“Please Udesii! I will allow you to assist us in our mission, though it will be from behind a desk here at the Citadel. I will inform you of the specifics after I have dismissed everyone else to begin their tasks,” Celevon spoke soothingly to the only Krath present, as Timeros was still away on the Dark Council-assigned mission. He had turned abruptly as soon as the Alderaanian had begun to hyperventilate.*

The woman took a deep breath, almost instinctively responding to the now-familiar Mando’a admonishment that came from both of the godfathers of the twins facing her. It was clear from the lack of her customary formal tones that the new mother needed something to keep her mind occupied. Kookimarissia was thankful her friend knew her so well and remained calm around the distressed female as she regained control of her breathing.

“Thank you. Now, then… The Dajorra Intelligence Agency has received unconfirmed reports of a cell of One Sith Agents planning an act of terrorism from within our very borders. Agent Gray of the DIA has informed me that there has been plans discovered for an attack upon the old Qel-Droma Temple on Arconae Primus. We are not, however, investigating the Temple itself. Our new Aedile has been given the task of investigating that area for the presence of demolitions. Revs, you will join Templar Sorenn and assist him in any manner as required of you. Act as though it is myself you are reporting to. You will be debriefing upon your return.”

The Miraluka nodded sharply, the folded, decorative black wrap around his face to conceal the empty sockets until the Onderonian could craft a pair of Alchemically-enhanced ‘eyes’ for the Guardian. “As you wish, my Master.”

“Invictus, you and I will be observing and investigating the Archaeology team at the old Northern Ruins to identify the One Sith Agents and eliminate all but one of them for interrogation. It will have to be a simultaneous, blitz attack. My Fade and some of my old friends from Spectre Cell will be assisting us. We will have full support from the Ninth Division of our Army Corps and the MJHC Lictor,” the Obelisk smirked at the Chiss, trying to get a reaction from the stoic Battlelord.

“What of the intel needed for field investigation? Surely we need a cover…”

“Ah, yes. That is all prepared, thanks to the DIA and the Spectres. We have Deep-Cover Alias’ prepared as well as the necessary documentation. We will appear as Special Agents from the Dajorra Military Investigative Service investigating a ‘crime’ nearby. One of us will handle the vocal questioning whilst studying their physical behavior as the other simultaneously monitors the unknown subjects’ mental patterns.”

“I am glad that all bases are covered, Commander. I shall eagerly await our departure,” the Marauder failed to conceal the eager gleam within his crimson gaze, though his features remained impressively blank.

“I’m looking forward to our mission as well, Invictus. Kooki,” the Shadicar gained the attention of the lone female of their team. “You will be safely within the confines of the sublevels of the Citadel, providing on the spot intelligence via our communications equipment and a secure channel. A Dajorra Intelligence Agent will be with you at all times to assist, as you will remain within my Office in the Antei Contract Bureau. Is everyone aware of your tasks?”

The Onderonian turned his piercing, quicksilver gaze towards each member. The military-trained of their members stiffened instinctively, though they held back the impulse to salute, merely nodding sharply in response.

“Good. Gear up, you lot. We’re going into hostile territory with enemies of unknown skill. Revs, Invictus: I will meet you in the Hangar Bay in one hour for our departure. Mimosa-Inahj, you’re with me. Dismissed!”

“Your office?” Kookimarissia questioned as the two Sith males walked off towards the Armory. She slowly stood, keeping in mind the Healer’s orders to not overstress her body. The Krath’s hands automatically went to the handle of the stroller containing her twin infants as she watched the former Sniper crouch to retrieve his durasteel mask and place the black robes within the bag.

“Yes. We can stop if you need a break… or I can have members of the Summit Guard assist you to the Antei Contract Bureau Offices,” Celevon replied as he gave a small smile to the adorable babies, still asleep in their mechanical transportation. “You will have a member of the Summit Guard present there as well as a Field Agent of the Dajorra Intelligence Agency behind the sealed door. I trust these people with my life, otherwise I would not consider it.”

“One would prefer yourself escorting the three of us. Do consider Andrelious’ suspicious nature and one is certain he will be thankful for it.”

“As you wish, my friend. How is Atyiru? I have only been informed recently of the occurrences with Galeres.”

“Well…” the Krath took a breath, prepared to give the Shadicar a full update on the news she had heard whilst sitting in the Family Apartment.


  • Udesii - Be calm/Calm down (Mando’a)

Arcona Citadel
Estle City, Selen

Making her way to her Battleteam leader’s office with her newborn twins in tow, being escorted by one of her closest friends, Kooki felt less vulnerable. She may have been a powerful Knight and older than most in her Battleteam, but since Poppy and Etholie were born, she felt a little more fragile than normal. She turned to Celevon and began updating him of what limited information she had.

“The last I heard, was that my former Master had been shot and was in hospital. Maybe I should contact Andrelious and see if there’s any change?” pondered the Krath.

Retrieving her comlink, a few presses later and a slightly annoyed Sith answered.

“What? Oh, it’s you darling. I hate to be blunt, but I’m a bit busy with a mission right now. What did you want?”

Kooki was still hormonally sensitive since only being a mere few weeks since her daughters’ spontaneous arrival.

“I only want to know how Atyiru is!” she responded, with a snippy edge in her tone of voice.

“It’s not looking good. She’s worsened. But you can be sure we are doing all we can.”

The Alderaanian had heard enough and hastily ended the conversation. Deep down she was relieved to have left Galeres. There were some in there she wanted nowhere near her babies.

“Well?” enquired the friendly Onderonian.

“Atty got shot. In hospital. Got worse. That’s all there is to it.” replied Kooki, bluntly.

Celevon smiled. He couldn’t help it. His friend’s bluntness was amusing. He tried in vain to stifle his feelings, but failed to conceal and let out a snigger. He was careful not to rouse his sleeping goddaughters.

Kooki tried glaring at him angrily, but she couldn’t help but sniggering too.

Before long, the foursome arrived at the designated office. Just as they got inside, a loud, ear-piercing and incessant cry filled the room. Poppy’s wailing roused her slightly younger sister. Etholie began exercising her tiny lungs also. Celevon knew there was little he could do right now to assist his friend, who had already proudly exposed her bountiful chest, and was tandem feeding two tiny dark haired bundles balancing on each arm. Very soon they were in deep slumber again.

“I really hope I can at least do something for Qel-Droma,” began the quite emotional Krath.

“All I seem to be useful for is lactating.”

Kooki began sobbing. The last few weeks had been a whirlwind of emotion.

“Chin up Kooki,” comforted the Prelate, resting a friendly hand of reassurance on her shoulder.

“Not only are you giving your twins the best start in life, inside and out, you have a powerful and dark mind. More so than you think. That’s why I personally assigned this mission to you. Effective communication is paramount in this mission and I want YOU to be responsible. It is a big task.”

Kooki looked up and smiled. She WAS needed. And could help.

The Obelisk accompanied the three females until a member the Summit Guard and a Field Agent of the Dajorra Intelligence Agency arrived. He began making a couple of mugs of spiced coffee, when a knocking upon his office door echoed. Luckily the twin girls remained asleep.

“Edraven. Mimosa. Greetings. You summonsed us. What are we required to do?”

Before Celevon could usher the males aside to outline their responsibilities, the irritated Alderaanian spoke up.

“That’s Mimosa-INAHJ!” she scolded, and began sipping her hot beverage.

A short time elapsed and a quick hug for Kooki and a farewell to the babies, Celevon Edraven fled his office.

Kooki glanced over at her two accomplices.

“So now we play the waiting game,” she mused.

2 Likes

Arcona sponsored mining expedition
Qel-Droma Temple region, Arconae Primus

The forest air was so saturated that Adam imagined himself directly imbibing it to quench his thirst. Even if that didn’t work, he imagined that the damp ground would also suit his needs somehow. While not a jungle, the thick foliage of Arconae Primus’s large trees still served as a very effective prison for moisture, keeping rainfall trapped inside weeks after it fell. Adam adjusted his footing against the bark of the tree on which he had perched, reached for the rangefinder he’d hastily strapped around his arm, and closely observed the entrance to the mine.

The natural cave opening had been replaced with a massive vault door that took a solid thirty seconds to open, and that again to close. The screeching and thumping sounds of the locks sliding into and out of place regularly disrupted the serene forest noise and sent flocks of birds flapping everywhere. The Arconan sigil had been stamped onto the central piece of the lock, a symbol of the Shadow Clan’s sponsorship of the digs. The Qel-Droman temple was ill suited to the House’s tactical needs, but was of paramount historical importance, not to mention the mineral wealth in the same area. Bearing both factors in mind, Arcona maintained a small but steady supply of resources to the digs over the past several years, in hopes of turning up something remarkable. Many workers there were the same ones who had been present since the beginning, and they knew the tunnels like the backs of their hands. Still, new blood was not an uncommon occurrence as the digs progressed, and that was the golden opportunity for the One Sith agents to slip inside.

A thick, synthesized monotone grumbled in Adam’s ear. “I will admit that I am impressed with this cell’s ingenuity; by infiltrating an Arconan expedition, they are among staff members who already know of us, even if not personally. They’ll know who we are as soon as we get inside.”

Adam sighed. “I’ll let you shake their hands once we have them apprehended, Echo. I don’t like this at all. The minute we walk through that door, every person in there is a hostage. They may have found a way to bring the whole place down at any time.”

“Then I suggest we act quickly. Our other agents will catch up; I imagine that they can follow the chaos that will ensue any of our encounters with the infiltrators.”

“Smart droid.”

The partners rapidly descended the trees, Adam’s movement aided by the Force, and Echo’s by precisely tuned machinery. They knew that an ambush would be waiting for them in the tunnels at some point or another, so they both displayed their weapons openly. Adam was comforted by the smooth and familiar grip of his lightsaber, and Echo often experienced a sensation resembling relaxation whenever it shouldered a blaster rifle. No use in hiding when the enemy knew their names, faces, and that they were coming.

The vault door screeched open, its shrill sounds even louder in close proximity. Adam breathed one last gulp of damp forest air before tasting the stale and recycled atmosphere inside the tunnels. They were greeted by a teal-skinned Twi’lek man wearing a bright yellow vest over a dirty jumpsuit; one of the research heads. A few other workers milled about near the walls, some repairing equipment and others just resting between shifts. Rodians, Zabrak, one Wookiee, a Verpine engineer here and there, amongst a litany of other races.

“I didn’t hear the Arconae had any intentions of sending an inspection this month,” the research head said as he received the Knight and his cloaked partner, “if I had we’d have cleaned up a little. Are the weapons really necessary?”

“Passing inspection is the least of your worries. You’ve got saboteurs who have infiltrated your staff.” Adam answered grimly as he tightened his fingers on the hilt, stretching his mind around the room to try and sense any kind of threatening presence.

Nothing but Force-deaf blue collars or archaeological interns. They couldn’t avoid leaving a trail of some kind…

“Maybe a few clumsy students who come close to damaging artifacts, but mad bombers? Surely that type would have more… political targets in mind?” the research head replied, puzzled. His eyes were fixed on Echo’s rifle, and its yellow eyes bore right into him. The weapons made the Twi’lek nervous, and that’s how Echo liked most people.

Adam snapped his fingers, quickly regaining the research head’s attention. “Eyes on me. These are One Sith agents, and they will kill every man and woman in these tunnels without hesitation.” The Knight’s tone was grimly direct; the circumstances were too dire to waste any time with his usual amiable mood. Adam felt the research head’s thoughts shift from those of disbelief to fearful uncertainty. The point had been made.

“I don’t unders-”

Echo’s flanged mechanical voice sliced through the air. “Do exactly as we tell you. I need the details of every shipment of the past year, and as much as you can provide on the past month. Worker records, equipment schematics, accidents, malfunctions. Everything.” The research head nodded and beckoned over two young women who were working at a computer station, who handed the Magnaguard a datapad.

“I need clearance for all entrances and exits to the dig. The more reinforcements I get, the better chances you have of saving this expedition.” The codes were swiftly uploaded to Adam’s datapad, and sent out to the converging Brigade members.

“What if you don’t find them in time?” one of the miners asked, making little effort to hide the fear in his voice.

“Find as many people that you trust as possible, and get out the door. I’m Arconan; I’m fine with dying here. You, not so much.” With that, Adam turned and walked off into the yawning darkness, the only sound being his earpiece buzzing with Brigade members reporting their arrivals.

Dajorra system
Arconae Primus orbit
BAC Shadow

A stack of datapads littered the desk of Valtiere’s private quarters. A smile graced his face before he picked up another one.

“Something amusing, sir?” Wynnopin asked, his red and white uniform hoving into view. Valtiere turned to his Fade, placing the current datapad on the table.

“Just some medical reports, Wynn. A little break from examining the data from our operatives below.” His face grew sombre again. “Celevon and his team have amanage to extract some relevent data from the Archeologists. Bolera also has some information. Turel has managed to create a watertight perimeter around Temple Qel-Droma. They won’t be able to get in. This attack should be stopped before it even began.” He put down a pad, picking up another, a tiny grain of discontent marring his confidence. There was something…


Dajorra System
Selen
Korda

Gluupor whistled tunelessly as he walked down the cramped tunnel of the Eastern quarter. Today was a good day for old Gluupor. A spindly old meat merchant had paid his protection money and been convinced to give him a good piece of ‘mystery stick’. The meat was rare and delicious, greae running over his chin as he tried to whistle while eating, his joy overriding simple common sense.

An acrid tang tainted the air, but Gluupor was too happy to care. His first instinct that something was wrong was when his gut started churning, pain radiating throughout his whole body. With a gasp, he dropped his food, doubling over in pain.

It only intensified, the gasp turning into a keening scream as his bones felt like they were being twisted out of his body. In the snatches of lucidity, he could see others like him doubled ove in pain, flesh writhing, limbs twisted in parodies of life. Blood poured from his eyes and ears, reducing his vision do a dark haze. Gruesome pops marked dislocations as Gluupor’s form changed, skin greying and shrivelling, hands twisting into brutal claws. His spine hunched, legs bowed. And through it all, the pain. The pain was slowly flaying his mind, eviscerating any humanity, and leaving mindless rage and hunger.

Eventually, the pain ended, and what had once been Gluupor stood up. He shambled forward, a howl on his lips. A Rakghoul.


Dajorra system
Arconae Primus orbit
BAC Shadow

Valtiere realised the pattern too late. He threw the pad against the wall, cheap electronics shattering as he raced to the bridge. He barked orders into his commlink, mobilising the myriad crew of the Bothan Assault Cruiser.

“Recall all deployed units from Primus! Set them up for immediate deployment to Korda!” A holo-com whirred to life, Turel’s face rendered in pale blues.

“The Temple is in no danger. It was a feint. Extract immediately.” Before Turel could even reply, the link was cut, a stream of orders and answers spewing from his lips.

Charles Axium turned to Valtiere as he strode onto the bridge. “We have reports of an outbreak on Korda. They say it’s th-”

“Rakghoul plague. I know, Axium. We need to move as soon as the rest are aboard. I’ve already tasked a team to work with the serum samples to make an airborne vaccine. The rest of our Dark Jedi will sweep through the city pre-dosed with serum to destroy any more dispersers and round up the scum responsible for this.”

Valtiere stared out the window to where a marked showed the position of Selen. This was a new stage of warfare. An attack on the will of the populace to support war. The resort of the technologically inferior. The One Sith couldn’t beat the Brotherhood on the field, so they used subversion and attacked their very morale.

“Sir, the teams are all extracted and aboard.” A lietuenant called out. A small part of Valtiere took pride in the speed his team leaders had been able to round up and extract their teams.

“Prepare for a microjump to Selen.”

The ship lurched slightly, and Selen threw itself into view. He turned to a holo-projector, his image projecting to all of the Qel-Dromans on the ship.

“The One Sith have unleashed a bio-weapon on the people of Korda. The Rakghoul virus. They have found a way to make it airborne. The first transformations are happening already, so one must have gone off a few hours ago. Techs are working on how to make an airborne serum for those we can save. Those that have turned will need to be put down, or they’ll act as vectors for the plage.” He paused for a moment, an odd expression on his face.

“They have attacked the people of this system. Not us, the Dark Jedi that fight, but the people themselves. This cannot be allowed. We need those people down there. Make them pay for their slight.” The transmission cut off, individual orders deploying as soon as the transmission ended.

“Apex, go into the already affected area. We need to identify the weapon, to know what to look for. You’ll be innoculated before planetfall. Arete, the One Sith agents need to be removed. Celevon was able to provide information to their identities. Hunt them down. Turel, work with Arete to sweep the One Sith taint from our world.” There was no sign off, only the silence as people digested the news, team leaders trying to mobilise their operatives.

Valtiere keyed up a private terminal, fingers blurring across the keyboard.

“Sir?” Wynnopin inquired, an eyebrow cocked slightly.

“We need an Arconae, Wynn. I’m getting us one.” Valtiere replied.

Arete


Archaeological Site B, ‘Aela’ Ruins
Balé Forest, Arconae Primus, Dajorra System

The Shadicar deactivated his comlink, his disguised features carefully controlled beneath a façade of false calm as his Quaestor’s words reverberated within the mind of the Prelate. An airborne version of the Rakghoul plague meant the citizens that had not already been infected were at risk of being turned.

The crimson gaze of the Chiss immediately went to Celevon as the Obelisk returned. The alterations of the Assassin’s features caused a moment of pause, as it made reading his CO that much more difficult.

“Thank you for your time, Val’era. The Dajorra Military Investigative Service will contact you should we need any more information regarding that possible Deserter in the area,” the Onderonian kept his altered icy gaze on the Lead Archaeologist as the Twi’lek female nodded.

“I’m happy to help however I can, Agents.”

The Marauder instinctively fell into step with the Assassin as they began their trek from the dig site. As soon as the forest obscured them from view, Invictus observed as the changes to the Onderonian’s features appeared to melt away.

“We will eliminate the One Sith Agents as soon as night falls. No point in creating a scene that could cause panic to the civvies. Once Revs and Turel have joined us and our Deaders* drown in the abyss, we will join the others on Selen to eliminate any Rakghouls.”

The annoying beep-beep-beep of his comlink echoed loudly in the forest. The presence of the Shadicar unfortunately tended to cause animals to react as though a predator were within their midst, replacing the normal sounds with eerie silence.

“Edraven here. Speak,” the Onderonian abruptly spoke as soon as he slipped on the earpiece.

“Commander, the Lictor and your old friends stand ready when have need of us,” the cold, embittered tones of Eamon Syklauk reported.

“Colonel. Nice of you lads to make it to the party. What’s the status on those ‘old friends’?”

“The Spectres are en-route to the rendezvous point, as you requested. They have a… friend with them, with orders in hand to join your squad,” the Army Colonel explained briskly.

“Thank you for the efficiency, ‘Ras.”

“Just following orders, sir. Did you have to arrange for the active Intel to have infants in the background?”

The older male’s vocal inclination told the Obelisk that Syklauk had grimaced a bit.

“Mimosa-Inahj is supposed to be on leave, but demanded to be a part of Operation: Legacy.”

“Ah. Understood, Edraven. Colonel Syklauk out.”

“Who will we be meeting at the rendezvous point? And who are the ‘Spectres’ the Colonel mentioned?”

“Turel, my apprentice and one of Spectre Cell’s Sniper teams will be there. Spectre Cell was my Battleteam, but it has been made a unit of the Arcona Army Corps under the command of the Colonel.”

Beep-beep-beep

“Edraven. What do you need?”

“Have you heard about what’s happening in Korda?! Civilians are-”

“Kooki, slow down! Udesii!” The Assassin saw the slight amused gleam to Invictus’ eyes and glared at the Chiss. A less familiar, but similar beeping echoed into the former Sniper’s ear. “One second, I need to answer this.”

“Okay…”

“Edraven. Speak.”

“Where are you? Valtiere ordered me to assis-”

“Revs should know where the rendezvous point is. If he doesn’t, comm me back in an hour. I’m near the Balé Forest.”

“Thank you.”

Celevon ended the call, catching the tail end of a statement from the DIA Field Agent after the communications link with his Office at the Citadel reactivated.

“Kooki, I’m back. What did you need?”

“Sorry, Celevon. Back to business… Valtiere just reported that the members and Arconan Military forces under his command are landing on Selen as we speak. He wants an update on the situation on Arconae Primus.”

The Shadicar withheld the urge to sigh as he continued to maneuver his way through the thick jungle surroundings, slashing away at the dense foliage with a kukri-style machete.


  • Deader(s) - What the Shadicar, Arcona’s assassination specialists, call a ‘target’ or group of enemies that will perish. The Deader is referred to as such because their death has already been guaranteed the moment the mission/contract was handed to the Shadicar; the time and manner of elimination are mere details yet to be established.

The speed at which the transport hurried a handful of Brigade members to Selen and into the doomed city of Korda was impressive, but gave them little to no time to process the horrific news. The horror stories of the Rakghoul plague stretched back several millennia, yet here new ones would unfold right before the eyes of Arcona as an attack on their subjects. The transport had arrived in the late evening as storm clouds gathered to drench the night in mournful tears, the three men and two droids dropping onto the the cracked pavement. Adam Bolera, Kanis Da’uul, and Ernordeth Puer’Irae looked at each other to review the situation one more time.

“This is one aspect of my era I’d rather not have seen again,” the pink skinned Sith remarked as he looked back on his original time grimly, “these One Sith have a strong understanding of how to make a point.”

Kanis wore a mask of stone as he focused on the fight ahead to maintain composure. Wisely, he had insisted that Ma’aaka remain behind on the ship. ‘Eaten alive by Rakghouls’ was not the first way he’d want to lose anyone special to him. “They’ve hit whole families in there. These bastards are hardly people.” Adam nodded and considered for a moment that his two most trusted lieutenants often took pleasure in killing, but usually when it was a fair fight between warriors. Indiscriminate slaughter was the mark of true cruelty, and he took some comfort in seeing that they understood that.

“Gentlemen, we’re looking for the weapon used to deploy this horror. The plague was aerosolized, meaning we’re looking for some kind of atmospheric dispersal device. My guess is that something like that would need a good bit of altitude. Any guesses?” Adam asked, as he silently prayed that the inoculation serum crawling through his veins would really work.

Kanis sniffed at the air and recoiled a little before making a suggestion. “Factories spew out most of the atmosphere here. You can taste it.”

“The main factory complex, perhaps? Gases are sometimes transported to other complexes around the city to be used before being sent through their respective smokestacks. Some of the surface air is pumped into the subterranean areas as well. The pollution killed this city long before its people believed it would.” Echo suggested, the droid unaware of how grim its matter-of-fact thought process was in the minds of its organic counterparts.

“It’s also going to save them,” Adam vowed, “but we’re going through the worst of it. Lots of worker apartments and offices between us and the main complex. It’s all underground too, meaning guaranteed contact with the infected. Put some of these poor people out of their misery.”

“Euthanasia? That’s an old pastime of mine! When do we start?” Kanis’s droid, Vigil, gleefully remarked as it waved its rifle around. Adam suspected a malfunction in the Magnaguard’s personality matrices, causing it to react to almost all stimuli with unbridled enthusiasm, but most of the Brigade found it strangely endearing.

“Now. Let’s find them before they find us.” Adam answered as he marched onward towards the factory elevator, his emerald bladed lightsaber snap-hissed to life. The first raindrops fell onto it and transformed them into hissing wisps of vapor that rose back into the air. Kanis’s cyan weapon and Ernordeth’s bloodshine blade followed suit, along with the pink tendrils licking along the ends of the Magnaguards’ electrostaves.

The elevator moved at a snail’s pace, the entropy of time and the corroding atmospheric chemicals effect on the cheap machine very apparent. Down in the tunnels was where Korda’s true citizenry dwelled, and Adam wondered if they could ever hope to recover what lives they had after this. Finally, the rusted vessel reached the bottom of the shaft. Saber blades ripped through the locked door as though it were paper, and the only sounds that emanated from the interior were the whines and yawns of unattended equipment. A sign hung just above the entrance into the main machinery room; “DAYS SINCE LAST ACCIDENT: 43. A safe worker is a happy worker!

“So much for that record…” Kanis muttered the callous remark under his breath. Adam stretched his mind across the tunnel, feeling pained and mad emotions bounce back at him, and far too many to count.

He looked at Ernordeth. “Feel that?” The Sith halfblood nodded, and then they heard it. The screeching howl, the skittering claws across metal catwalks that creaked underneath the weight of the incoming swarm. The Brigadiers walked calmly onto the spacious factory floor and were bathed in the red-orange glow of the smelters. Adam’s face did not betray his racing thoughts, though he knew fear would be the end of him if he gave into it here.

May the Force be with us. We’re going to need it.