Between the Teeth: A Keibatsu Runon


(Muz Ashen Keibatsu) #1

VT-49 Decimator
Qirool System

She watched patiently as the ships darted out of orbit, vanishing into the ether of Hyperspace, miniscule from her position, hiding between asteroids and the wreckage of older ships, the remnant of a battle lost even to history now. She waited, her breath caught in her throat even as the captain cleared his.

“Ma’am?” The man was former imperial, his Coruscanti accent sharp. She did not shift her view, staring out into the depths. She could feel him there, out in the dark. Smiling at her. She pushed the hood back from her head, exposing the crown of short horns atop her head, her eyes still locked on everything and yet nothing near that planet. She reached out, feeling the energy rise from her chest, through her head, into her eyes.

And felt the crack of Hyperspace.

She let the breath out sharply, turning to look at the Coruscanti. The Lion and his people had been on her tail for more than a year now, and they kept getting closer and closer, the misses getting narrower by the iteration. She hadn’t even had the time to pack her prizes up before the Sadowans had landed on Qirool VI. One of the statuettes had broken in the rush to get off world, and she needed those credits. She sighed before clearing her throat. “Nar Shaddaa.”

The Coruscanti nodded, fingers flying across controls of the navcomputer, engaging the engines to get them clear of the debris. She frowned as she watched the stars elongate, giving way to the blue-grey miasma of Hyperspace.

2 days later
Kuroshin Castle
Kyataru

Ashia smiled as the doors slid closed behind her pupil as he followed, her boots gliding on the rich purple carpet that led to the thrones at the end of the hall. He turned from his brother, his black eyes somehow brightening when he saw her. He moved toward them, even as they made their own approach. Takagari dropped to his knee, knuckling the floor in obeisance. The man was formal, lifetime of brutal training regimens giving him few other options. Muz nodded at him, bidding him to rise without a spoken word.

Ashia smiled as she got close to him, a cruel and predatory glint in her eye as she locked with his. We found her.

Muz’s eyebrow went up, a smile creeping up the side of his face.

“We captured one of her trading partners on Nar Shaddaa, my Lord.” Takagari restrained his excitement as best he could. “She will be there for the next two days until she can finish finding purchasers for her other pieces.”

Muz bowed his head a degree. “Well done, KogaRyu. You have executed your mission well. We will take it from here.” He rose, bowed his head, then spun around to leave, his steps measured and precise.

Shikyo chuckled as he stepped forward from where he had been standing when they arrived. Darth Ira, the last of their pathetic cult?

Muz let his head tilt slightly, his mind flowing through the patterns, the possibilities of how the universe would unfold next. She was more than just another sith. She was unfinished business, and what she carried with her was something he needed, something he wanted. He thought of what the old tome had shown him, the intricate markings on old obsidian from Moraband necessary to prove his theory, to execute his plan.

Almost.

He clasped his hands behind his back as he turned, the flaring hem of his warcoat moving dramatically. Ashia, contact Shimura. I will alert Macron and Raikou. We leave at dusk.


(Macron Goura Sadow) #2

Detention Block 19
Cenota Facility
Gamuslag
Orian System

The turbolift rose from the deep levels below and stopped at the level 19 Block egress. The door cycled open with a hiss and an armored figure stepped out. Beside the red and black-clad human walked a blacked-out HK series assassin droid.

The droid spoke. “Master are we going to terminate the subject? I would be happy to…”

The droid’s chatter was cut off. “No. No, we are going to offer this offender a deal.” Macron grinned evilly.

“But is the subject not condemned to termination?”

“Yes.” The Sith stopped before one of the doors and keyed the viewscreen beside it. “Convict 473, you have been condemned to death for your crimes.” A series of text markings scrolled across the screen. “Impressive. It’s a real shame you were unable to turn your penchant for murder and larceny to something more employable.”

“Screw you, cultist.” The muscular human turned towards the screen. “Get it over with.”

“Do you understand how you are to be executed?” Macron chuckled as he keyed a sequence into the keypad. “You’ll be exposed on the surface of this moon. It won’t be quick or easy. In fact, it will be agonizing. It might take days to die. Or perhaps you will be experimented upon.” More scenery scrolled by, awful scenes of the levels deep below where the laboratories were. “In which case, your agony could be prolonged for a very long time indeed.” The hardened convict blanched noticeably.

“I see you are amenable. I have a deal for you. Beat me in single combat, and you walk free. I will see to it that you get a ticket on the next freighter out of the system.”

“I hear you cultists use tricks. And what if I win?”

“No tricks. No armor, weapons, drugs, or the Force. Just raw, pure single combat. Man to man. If you win, I will be dead.”

The convict laughed. “Stupid little man. And if you win, not that it will happen?”

“You won’t need to worry about a thing 473, you will be well taken care of.” The Adept smirked.

“Deal”.


Later….

An Interrogator droid drifted into the combat area. Macron was dropping down from a jump, his arm pointed towards the ceiling in a spade-hand formation and the other coming down in a knife-hand motion on the nearby collar-bone. The point of his elbow impacted the crown of the thug’s head with a sickening crunch. The battered convict hit the floor and began to convulse from massive brain damage and internal hemorrhaging.

The droid emitted a holobeam with a familiar figure outlined in it’s flickering blue projection.
Macron wiped the blood from his bruised face, wincing as one eyesocket began to swell. He knelt to one knee with a wince and a crinkle of the skinsuit he wore. “Lord Ashen.”

“Practicing I see. I’ve got a mission coming that may interest you. There will be an artifact involved. Your skillset would be useful and there will be combat.”

“Count me in.” The connection closed as the madman stood. He motioned to the droid which injected him with some unknown fluid. “Get one of the labor droids in here to clean up that mess,” here he gestured at the quivering cadaver, “and take the remains downstairs to the biomass vats. Ready my armor and gear. Tell the astromech droid to fire up my ship. I’m leaving.”

“Master, would you have actually freed the convict?” asked the HK droid as it walked beside him to the turbolift.

The Sith appeared annoyed. “Of course I would honor my word. But he had no hope of survival, droid.”


(Ashia Kagan Keibatsu ) #3

Kuroshin Castle
Kyataru

Nimble fingers flew across a holopad. KogaRyu stood by silently, his eyes flicking here and there in awe of the castle. The Nightsister had felt her student’s pulse quicken when they landed and he saw Kuroshin for the first time.

Ashia finished getting word to Shimura and turned her attention to Dark Hawk.

“Your training is complete.” Her words were emotionless.

A state of disquietude surrounded the Battlemaster, yet he remained silent and just nodded at her.

“I will arrange for a ship to get you back to Tarthos.” She turned to leave.

“Miss Ash?” His voice held steady yet she picked up on the very slight wavering.

The Keibatsu turned to him. Her warcoat slide gently along her legs with the motion. Crossing her arms she raised an eyebrow at him.

“I’m sorry, but I…” He trailed off.

“KogaRyu, you asked that I train you in how to use the energy bow. I have done that. You have proved yourself in battle with it. You’re training in that is complete.”

He nodded at her, “Yes Miss Ash. I understand.”

“Once this business is done, I will return to Tarthos. Then we will begin your new training. Your foot work is a little sloppy.” She turned on her heel and left.

Dark Hawk’s head lifted. He suppressed the smile that wanted to engulf his visage.

“Yes, ma’am!”


(Shikyo Keibatsu) #4

En Route to Kuroshin Castle
Kom’rk-class Fighter “Ragnarok
Kyataru

Katsuhide didn’t like his assignment but his duty was to the protection of Misahide Castle and his men. Musashi’s pursuit would certainly place the Nihilgenia in more danger than Shikyo preferred. The Elder felt more comfortable knowing he’d have a home to return to once the task was complete. As he contemplated the task his brother provided, the Keibatsu’s mind seemed to wander away from the task of making sure the ship stayed airborne. Elysia took the helm from her betrothed as the Kyataran went to the cargo bay of his fighter, trying to shake his lack of focus.

As he looked over the equipment on board, Sasuke began to feel… lethargic? Bored? Nothing seemed to be a challenge anymore. There were not many forces in the galaxy that could give the Dark Jedi Master a true fight and most were wise enough to avoid the Keibatsu. If Shikyo could not bring their destruction, he knew his eldest brother would see that revenge was swift and relentless. However, this thought brought little comfort to the Elder. He wanted to bask in the glory of triumphing against overwhelming odds. Darth Ira, don’t disappoint.

“Dearest, we’re approaching Kuroshin.”

Shikyo returned to the cockpit and could see a couple of troopers loading up provisions before the sun set on the horizon. As the Gauntlet Fighter prepared to land, the Krath Elder could feel the presence of Lord Ashen before he noticed the war coat adorned figure awaiting them by the Fallen Spear. You’re distracted, ‘ototo’. Shikyo placed a hand on Moxla’s shoulder gently before returning to the cargo bay.

The Dark Jedi sighed as he entered, picking up and examining the helmet of his combat armor. Darth Ira is elusive but she’s not really a threat. We haven’t had a true threat since the Crusade, brother.

A rush of wind entered the bay as the off-ramp pressed into the soil. Muz’s obsidian eyes pierced through the Elder and Sasuke felt as if he were caught in some wrong doing.

“Be careful what you wish for, Shikyo. There are greater forces moving than Ira. She’s merely a pawn.”

Sasuke knew the meaning within those words. He’d seen too many pawns in so many conflicts between gods among men that the Dark Jedi Master almost wished he hadn’t been so eager. The fate of each pawn was more gruesome than the next. Muz turned on his heel and moved toward the castle with Shikyo following closely behind. As the faces of each tragic soul flashed through the mind of the former Herald, Shikyo was comforted by a single thought: at least we’re not pawns to Lord Ashen.


(Kojiro Keibatsu ) #5

Raikou’s Private Chambers
Tarthos
Orion System

“I’m not entirely comfortable with this arrangement anymore,” the newest Keibatsu muttered at the holoscreen before him. “This isn’t what I signed up for. I mean to ensure CNS stayed on the correct path and report back. I’ve done that, I never agreed to spy on the family.”

The figure glancing up at him from the holo wore a mask and it irked the man that he had no idea what or who he was dealing with. Though own Inquisitorius armour covered his own visage he knew the man on the other side knew exactly who he was.

“You will do this job, and you will do so with the highest success rate. Failure is not an option, after all, how would dear Frey’jah react to the knowledge you simply gave up on bringing justice to her killers or their kind?” The man stopped, Rai was certain a smile had crept on the man’s lips but the words had already had their effect. “Find out what the elder Keibatsu are up to, especially Ashen, and report back. You aren’t betraying them by simply letting us know. Plus if nothing is going on then you have nothing to fear. Now get to it, or I may accidentally leak previous communications with your name attached.”

The threat was clear as the holoterminal died and the Nihilgenia muttered a curse before turning away and stalking from the room. The nexu cub bounded up to him and nearly bowled him over as he approached his bed and stripping the uniform from him he flung it to one corner before faceplanting into the soft sheets. A thick, rough tongue lapped at his hanging hand and he gently swatted the creature away. His annoyance was clear but the small thing either didn’t recognise it or didn’t care.The clone stopped swatting, sat on the edge of the bed and pulled the cub up into his lap where it curled and near instantly fell asleep.

“Bloody pest, lucky you’re so damn cute eh,” he looked to his datapad as it beeped. Reaching over, with some effort, he managed to grab it without dislodging the cub and raised an eyebrow as he read through the message. “Well looks like we have work to do little one, well I do. Muz has me beckoned.” Shifting the Nexu to the side he stood and headed towards the refresher. This already felt like it was going to be one of those days.


(Muz Ashen Keibatsu) #6

Docking Bay
ADS Fallen Spear
Kyataru Orbit

The shuttle slipped through the energy field that kept the void outside, the hiss of landing gears and warming metals filling their ears as it set down. The alchemist looked up from his crates, the deliveries from the surface a little more delayed than his own arrival long enough to see the former Nihilgenia disembark. “Macron.” Raikou tilted his head in the elder’s direction.

“Aedile now, I hear?” Macron chuffed. “Congratulations.” Don’t screw it up. The clatter drew his attention, as his HK droid dropped the lid from the next crate he was inspecting. Macron launched into a tirade as Raikou made his way past them, heading for the turbolifts. He was more than passingly familiar with the ship, having served with the 9th Nihilgenia for a time. Punching in for the command deck, he breathed a sigh of relief. All of the palace intrigues of the Brotherhood were exhausting, and he had more than once fantasized about ending their politicking with a well placed bolt. He didn’t initially understand why the Lion had left the Iron Throne behind, but he was starting to understand. He smiled, the grin reaching to the corners of his eyes as he imagined the thrill of the hunt, the scent of blood and superheated tibanna gas thick in his nostrils, the symphonic sounds of mayhem and destruction.

The door slid open, and Blackwind sneered at him.

“Back for more, I see.” The Officer’s accent varied, warbling between thick and thin, depending on the word.

Raikou leaned in closely, a toothy grin splayed across his maw. “Your ship…I am in her.”

The look of disgust and disdain that spread across the officer’s face quickly evaporated into mirth as he held out his hand in friendship. “Good to have you back onboard.”

“Well, it is the only way anyone would ever come visit you, you old dog.” Raikou thought for a moment. “Do you even ever get off of this boat?”

“Not a chance. Pretty sure I am just a holographic projection that VASIC made up at this point.” Blackwind snorted, turning to walk with the Quaestor to the Bridge. “Besides, not like you get much off time. I heard they promoted you to something among the cultists.”

“Someone has to keep them reigned in, and all of the Sons of the Dragon seem content to let them to their own devices.” Raikou paused as the doors to the Bridge slid open. “Speaking of, where are they?”

“The Lord is in his quarters with his queen, I am sure. His herald was to drop off his kit in the guest quarters by the Port turbolifts, then said something about going to the dojo. You’d have had to walk past the…” Blackwind’s nose crunched up as he tried to find the right word without disgust.

“Yes, I did.” Raikou spared him. “Who else is to arrive?”

“The Lion’s alien apprentice is due any moment now. And there was another one, dressed in red and black, arrived shortly after the Herald, but I forget the name. Related, they say, but you know how those things go…”

Raikou narrowed his eyes. “Intimately.”

Darius cleared his throat. “He is up in the Dojo already, and I think we are just waiting on the last fireteam from Kuroshin.” Raikou nodded, stepping forward to look out through the viewscreen.

“Nar Shaddaa, I hear.” Raikou laughed. “It’s been a while.”

“Still the same sort of rough city it always has been.” She said, turning from the back console. Long black hair framed a petite face, black Kiffar lines across the left side of her face.

“You are no Nihilgenia.” Raikou crossed his arms.

Darius stepped between the two. “Raikou, this is Nisha Kenvon, Intel Division.”

She reached a hand out to shake his, Raikou looking at it for a moment before shaking it. “Raikou Amahara…Keibatsu” he added after a beat. “Sorry, but I haven’t seen many natural…”

“They are starting to cycle a lot more natives into the forces now.” Blackwind offered, stepping back as an ensign handed him a datapad.

“So, I assume that the Lion…the Lord… requested your presence?”

“My experience is apparently of some use to him on this endeavor. I had a…prolonged encounter with a Tang’va after the Suukou sacked…”

Raikou raised a hand and made a pained expression. We lost a lot of good men that campaign." He softened a moment. “But I am glad that you made it out.” He turned from her, looking for the Autochthonian, who looked up at him and nodded.

“The apprentice just docked.” Blackwind gestured at the helmsman. “Raise cloaks and prepare for the jump.” He sat into the captain’s chair as the stars smeared together and blued into hyperspace. “At least I’ll be able to get some good cigars there.”

“I think I am going to drop my bag, then go get my head in the game.” Raikou stretched his back, his chest swelling as much as it could in the armor. “You said that a few were to be in the dojo?”

“Aye.” Blackwind nodded. “Kyataru to Nar Shaddaa is a pretty long jump. You have plenty of time.” He laughed for a moment. “Don’t get yourself killed up there.”

Raikou chuckled back. “You know that the Keibatsu are [demons], Blackwind.” He smiled wide again. “And I’m one of them now.”


(Kojiro Keibatsu ) #7

Demons. Is that what they were? Rai had always seen the Keibatsu as dragons, but since arriving in the Brotherhood he had seen many claim that name. Dragons of this, Dragons of that. It amused and greatly annoyed him. The originality of the many was severely lacking, but he had found it an honour to be elevated, to be made a dragon…and yet perhaps that was incorrect. Perhaps, as his mind wandered to those within the family, they really were demons.

A smile crept to his lips as he left the bridge, raising his hand in a quick farewell to Darius and the woman, making his way up the corridors and towards the location of the onboard Dojos. As the clone walked his mind began to wander to his purpose once more. The Inquisition was interested in what the Keibatsu were doing, and the young man had signed up to the organization to assist where he could but now…now he felt like he was stabbing his new family in the back.

A sigh escaped his lips as his feet pounded against the floor. Rai was beginning to wonder what the point in it all was. His honour dictated he defend his family, but it also dictated he follows the orders given to him by his superiors, who in this case was the Iron Throne and the Inquisitorius. So where did he stand, who was he to follow and what exactly was he meant to do?

“Bah, this is nonsense. I’m a Keibatsu, aren’t I?” Another sigh escaped his lips and he walked in silence once more. As the Nihilgenia approached the dojos the sound of exertion broke the silence. Raikou moved to the door and stopped, cleared his mind once more and slammed his fist into the door control. The door opened and the newest Keibatsu walked into the room as he did so his eyes took in the mid gloom and ran over the figure training in the corner. A figure he recognised but at the time he had no intention of talking too.

Instead, the Keibatsu moved over to his own corner, disrobed down to his trousers and picked up one of the training swords, hefting it in his hands and turning to a nearby dummy. His mind filled with thoughts once more as he set to work honing his skills and pushing himself past his limits.


(Ashia Kagan Keibatsu ) #8

Entertainment District
Nar Shaddaa

It had been a long time since she’d been back here. Not since her smuggling days. Ashia looked around. Not much had changed. It was still the same dark dank hole it had always been.

The Keibatsu moved through the streets cautiously. Slinking in and out of the shadows was pure habit for the Zabrak now, as she sought her target. She found the bar she was looking for and slipped inside quietly.

Smoke hung in the air like a heavy smog. A low din rumbled through the small place as patrons discussed myriad things in hushed tones. The slight klink of glasses echoed from the behind the bar.

Ashia slipped to the back and sat down at a table that gave her the best possible view of the whole establishment. A waitress started to approach the table but she waved her away.

‘Now we wait.’ Her thoughts reached out to her family who were waiting outside. Shikyo had positioned himself across the street in the shadows, Koji was watching the back door of the establishment.

A Kiffar sat at the bar with his back to the Keibatsu. Every so often, he’d look up at the door. No doubt he had seen her come in but she was not on his radar.

She watched intently. On occasion, his eyes swept around the room and before settling back on the drink in front of him.

After an indeterminate amount of time, an Iktotchi entered and moved towards the bar. He exchanged a few words with the Kiffar before turning to leave.

‘That’s him. He’s leaving out the front now. The Iktotchi.’ Her thoughts reached out to her brother-in-law and the clone.

Ashia moved as if to stand up when a large Falleen moved into view.

“Zorax. You’ve got a lot of nerve showing up here.” The Falleen sat down across from her, a blaster trained on her as he smiled broadly.

“Kar Drul. Long time. How’ve ya been? You’re looking good.” Ashia smiled sweetly at the Falleen as she settled back in her seat.

“Don’t sweet talk me. There’s still that little matter of paying for the rest of that shipment.”

The Nightsister leaned back, her arm draped casually over the back of the seat. “It’s not that I didn’t want to pay for it. I ran into some trouble. Tell Garuk I have the money…”

“Garuk isn’t interested in your excuses, little girl. There’s a price on your head now.” He gestured slightly with the blaster as he spoke, but kept it trained on her none the less.

Ashia reached out through the Force, seeking out Shikyo and Kojiro who were in the midst of tracking her Iktochi friend. ‘I’ve been…delayed. Keep track of the Iktochi, he’ll lead you to Darth Ira. I’ll join you as soon as I can.’

The Falleen in front of her stood up, gesturing with the blaster that she stand as well. She put her hands up and went along with it…for now.