[CDW][Run-on] Training Exercises in the Archipelago

[Calestis City]
[Adoniram Tower]
[The Office of the Empress]
[22:00]

The dust had barely settled. The Clan limped home, considering themselves more than lucky to be alive. The battle had not treated them well by any means, and their forces were nearly decimated in the sheer intensity of the fight. How had they come to be so unprepared? Too many were lost. Far too many. Plans were already underway, preparations that would steel them against the next onslaught by the enemy. Military weapons and ships were but one piece of the puzzle—the summit’s strengthening but another. Shadow, Empress of the Imperial Clan, stared down at the datapad and the proposal it displayed to her golden eyes.

Mune stood, head held high, before his Empress. His expression gave away nothing. Only those that knew him best would take notice of the slight back tilt of his expressive ears as anything noteworthy. The feelings regarding their showing in the recent war remained buried deep enough that they were known only to him. He would happily keep it that way if he could, but nothing would change if he did.

“A training exercise,” Shadow queried softly, a brow arched curiously. “We are still reeling from the altercation with the Collective, is now necessarily the time for a training exercise?”

“That is exactly the point, Shadow,” the Shistavanen frowned. “Next time, we need to be prepared. You and I know well enough there will be a next time! Fancy toys alone are not going to get the job done! We need to better ourselves if we are to continue forward and survive the next wave of attacks by our enemies.”

The Sephi-hybrid’s eyes narrowed, a nail tapped her desk’s surface slowly, rhythmically, as her thoughts rolled around. “You forget yourself, you know.”

Mune drew in a breath, staring into his consul’s narrowed eyes, he did not flinch. He had not wilted under more dangerous looks than the one she offered him. He was not about to do so now. His own ruby eyes narrowed. “I forget myself?”

“Careful,” the words were a hiss between her lips. Her eyes held a warning.

Shadow trusted the ex-proconsul; she had no reason not to; his words certainly hit close to home. Placing the datapad face down upon her desk, she met his gaze. She laced her fingers and kept her narrowed eyes firmly on the vulpine glare of someone she had for no short time counted upon. Mune’s ears angled forward, and his tail held up in a dominant, if not stubborn stance. His body language bespoke someone expecting a fight. Shadow sighed heavily.

“I approve.”

Mune gave a firm nod and made to turn but stopped at a clearing of the woman’s throat. He turned his gaze back towards his Empress.

“You are responsible, no matter the results of this venture,” she added firmly.

“Be they ill or favourable,” Mune acknowledged. He had expected no less. Shadow nodded. Without glancing back, Mune turned and left her to her office and the dark.

[Caelestis City]
[Spaceport]
[05:00]

“The orders have gone out, sir,” the soldier eyed the Shistavanen nervously.

“Thank you. I apologize for the rush; I know it is highly unusual.”

“Sir. Not at all. I do not mean for you to apologize,” the soldier’s words spilled in a babbled rush. When he realized he was doing so, he stopped and cleared his throat, giving himself a moment to collect his thoughts. “I am here to serve.”

“I wouldn’t bother, Mune does not like being an inconvenience and will see it as nothing else other than one that he woke your men to act in haste.” Caleb came to meet the Force-user and soldier.

Mune shared a look of such warmth and adoration with the man that Caleb reminded him with a quick motion of his head that there was business to be attended. The Shistavanen, exhausted, tore his gaze away from the towering feline to meet the soldier’s eyes. The man was adamantly pretending he had not seen the look of affection the Force-user had openly displayed for the other man. Mune allowed himself a smirk, unable to return entirely to his business face. “If all goes as planned, we will see you and hopefully as many Clansmen as invited, in the Archipelago in short order.”

“You are not joining them?”

Caleb answered, “We’ve made arrangements of our own for transport.”

“Ah, Captain Vital has agreed then to transporting us? I was worried she would be unhappy to be woken.”

“I needn’t have woken her,” Caleb explained. The question filled Mune’s eyes, and Caleb saw it so continued unabated, “She had yet to sleep.”

[Above the Nethal Archipelago]
[07:00]

Mune transmitted the orders and could not help the grin that stretched back the length of his muzzle. Caleb watched the self-satisfied gleam in his mate’s eyes and chuckled softly to himself. “So, who are you tagging for Omega Team?”

“I don’t know.”

“Wait; what?” Caleb appeared incredulous.

“I said, I don’t know,” Mune set down the datapad. “Where is the fun if I know who the enemy is? Your mouth is hanging open.”

Caleb knew the mission. Team Alpha was to search for and retrieve an arftifact. As a team, they would seek out their target and secure it. The team was expected to work together, combining skills, knowledge, and even their abilities with the Force (for those that had its bounties gifted them). Mune had ensured that it was not only their Force-users that received the invitation. He was also aware that a Team Omega was to work within their ranks to win over the artifact through deception. Spies and saboteurs set on making their efforts that much more difficult. Caleb hadn’t realized that Mune would blindly select Team Omega.

“I… am admittedly surprised.”

“Fair play and all that,” Mune grinned toothily.

The Riptide, a star courier, began its descent. He closed his eyes. He felt the other man sit at his side and allowed himself to lean into the robust frame. Sleep took him quickly, dropping him into dreams. It would be no short time before they others began to arrive, and the mission began.

It seemed like so little time before he was awake and walking on the dry soil of one of the chain’s islands. The sun was bright on the horizon. He turned his eyes away from it to glance towards the incoming transport that held the other Scholae members. Anticipation made his tail sway lightly in excitement. “Let us get this thing started.”


This is the beginning of the run-on Training Exercises in the Archipelago. All Scholae Palatinae members are invited to join in the excitement. The instructions for creating a snapshot are in the competition details.

Mune Cinteroph
Caleb Wild’en

Rasilvenaira StormRaven

The transport shuddered hard as it touched down. Rasilvenaira was on her feet the moment she felt the engines powering down. She strode toward the cockpit with the assassin droid Veritas a step behind her like a metallic shadow.

The pilot glanced up when he heard the footsteps and swallowed hard at the sight of the Warlord. “Y…yes?”

Rasilvenaira narrowed her eyes, “What in the nine hells was that? I have seen star destroyers land more gracefully with their entire aft sections blown off. You dare to call yourself a pilot?”

He paled visibly and stared up at her, at a loss for a response.

Veritas took a step forward to stand beside the Sith, his fingers tapping lightly against the barrel of his blaster rifle. “Query: Mistress, shall I blast the meatbag for you?”

A wicked grin tugged at the Warlord’s lips. “Ye… ah… no, nevermind.” She sighed. “I’ll spare myself another lecture from our Empress about wasting resources when I let you blast bantha brained idiots who desperately deserve it. Come on. Let’s get off this rust bucket.”

The droid let out a very disappointed sounding mechanical sigh, as he turned to follow her off the transport. Behind them, the pilot wilted, almost fainting as he sank back into his seat.

Old habits kicked in as Rasilvenaira mentally checked each of her weapons. To any observer, the motions seemed casual, simply dusting off or adjusting her outfit. Senses stretched out, alert to things seen and unseen. Dark eyes swept the clearing and area around the transport as she headed down the ramp. She caught sight of two pale furred forms across the clearing and made her way over toward them.

Ears flicking forward, the Shistavanen’s ruby eyes widened slightly as he met her gaze. “Ras? I didn’t expect to see you coming out for this. I’d heard you were retired.”

Rasilvenaira arched a brow at him. “What retired? Where did you hear such foolishness? Are you trying to imply that I’m getting old, hm?” She straightened herself up as she held his gaze. “You really didn’t think I’d let the kids have all the fun, did you?”

His fluffy tail swayed behind him and Mune’s lips twitched into a smirk as he shook his head. “No, of course not. We’re happy to have you join in.”

She flashed him a grin, and then inclined her head in greeting as her gaze shifted to the big Togorian beside him. Turning away from the pair, she walked over to perch on a nearby rock. “I should have packed more rum.”

Rasilvenaira looked around, taking a moment to appreciate the landscape. “Too bad I couldn’t bring Inari, she’d enjoy this terrain.”

Veritas turned his head to look at her, photoreceptors flickering. “Statement: It is probably better that you didn’t bring the beast, Mistress.”

She tilted her head to look up at the droid. “Veritas, are you still mad about that? She only tore your arm off once, and she was still a baby. Varactyls are just playful.”

The assassin droid fell silent, turning his attention to checking over his weapons. He knew better than to argue against the Warlord’s irrational fondness for such impractical creatures.

Rasilvenaira chuckled at the sulking droid, then turned a critical eye on the rest of the Clan members as they left the transport and made their way over to stand before Mune and Caleb.

Satisfied that his weapons were in good order, Veritas followed her gaze. “Query: Mistress, what are you thinking?”

The Sith shrugged, glancing back up at her companion. “Oh, nothing really. Just curious which one is most likely to die first.”

Caleb looked over at her, scowling. “This is a training mission, Ras.”

Rasilvenaira met his eyes and chuckled. “Of course, of course. But training missions are only truly effective if there’s real risk.” She shrugged. “But then, I am just a crazy old Sith.” She folded her arms over her chest as her dark eyes went back to studying the rest of the team members.

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Throne Room

Judecca Station

Caperion System

The deck crew kept their gazes down as the Stormtrooper contingent of the Praetorian Guard took their post. It was the ever present signal that the Empress was about to take her position upon the throne in the bridge of Judecca Station. While most personnel knew a major training exercise was underway on the Archipelago most rank and file of the Imperial Scholae Navy were preoccupied with repairing the crafts that returned from Arx and taking muster of the survivors as they still continued to trickle in. The survivors were less than hoped, and most knew a fair share simply deserted or defected.

Empress Shadow entered the deck and all offered their customary salutes. Shadow was flanked by her Proconsul Mauro Wynter. The Proconsul still wore his flight suit and looked at the display of his datapad. “Mune’s exercise has just begun. The first few members of the teams have arrived at their designated drop zones.” The Empress nodded, a sigh escaping her lips. “Then let it be so. I still have grave misgivings about this. We have only just reconsolidated our ground and naval forces. Those will hold its our Force users and other operatives I am worried about. So few…so very few returned. If we lose a single man or woman during this exercise that is a loss we cannot recoup.”

Wynter stopped in his tracks and considered the Empress’ words carefully. “Indeed I share your concerns. We are on life support but we must sharpen our blades. I doubt we will encounter any casualties or hostile actions but I am very apprehensive. Must be going soft in my old age.”

Shadow looked at him carefully before smiling. “Then go, I gave the order for the hanger to prep your fighter fifteen minutes ago. This is Mune’s operation but I know you are itching for some action. You will assume overwatch cover and lead a squadron of Judecca’s Tie Defenders. Good hunting.”

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Mauro Wynter Snapshot

Fëanor Láng

Nethal Archipelago

Quite the interesting bunch.

That was the first impression of the group Fëanor Láng had come up with as he disembarked from the transport. The human-Sephi hybrid studied the area for a bit, taking in the view around them while also enjoying the crisp breeze that kissed his cheek. His purple eyes swept over Mune and Caleb, and he nodded in greeting and respect to the Shistavanen. Though he had never personally gotten to know Mune, he had fought by his side during the attack on the Retribution. He had much respect for the former Proconsul.

His gaze then rested on the dark figure situated on her perch with the HK droid next to her. Her deep, dark-brown eyes met his as she then offered a curt nod in acknowledgement. He had also had the opportunity to witness her skills onboard the Retribution, and like the current Empress, she had proved to be deadly from the shadows. Having watched the both of them fight side-by-side that day had almost convinced him that the Wolf and the Raven were death’s daughters. Shadow had later rejected his impression, stating that her counterpart was much more experienced with a deadlier reputation that the half-Sephi herself admired and respected…

I’ll have to keep my wits about me, for sure.

The Seer returned his attention to the others as he joined up with some of the others. This time, he did a courteous bow in greeting, the corners of his lips curling up into a half-smile. “It’s a pleasure to see you again, Mune.”

“Likewise,” the Shistavanen remarked in return. “I’m glad to have you with us, Fëanor. It’s been a long time.”

“That it has. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t here at our Empress’ request, but I also am looking forward to testing my skills alongside my brethren here. It’s too good of an opportunity to pass up.”

“I’m glad you think so,” the Augur said with a slight smile. “I wish you the best of luck.”

Fëanor bowed his head in thanks, and stepped away. He looked at the others with him, only recognizing them from times he had passed them by in Caelestis City or caught sight of them during the last conflict with the Collective. For the most part, he had stayed to himself since he had joined the Imperial clan, with Shadow having been the only one he had spent much time with ever since she had recruited him. He meant what he had said to Mune about this being a good opportunity since he would have a chance to learn more about his comrades.

Feeling the breeze pick up a little, the human hybrid removed the ribbon keeping his long, dark hair tied in a pony-tail. Quickly, he tied his hair up again, making sure the ribbon was tight to keep it secured. As he finished, his focus returned once again turned back to Mune as the Shistavanen began to explain their objective at hand.

Xantros

Nethal Archipelago

A loud noise announced the approach of a single Imperial Combat Speeder to the starting point of the training mission at the Nethal Archipelago. A small group of Clan Scholae Palatinae members observed as the speeder slowly moved towards them and touched down nearby. A tall, green figure of a Duros left the aircraft and waved to the group nearby, holding something in his left hand.

“C’mon, Xantros, couldn’t you come with others?” asked Rasilvenaira.

“Of course, I could,” explained the Duros and handed a small package to the Warlord with a polite smile. “But I need some practice in flying this piece of junk just like you need this gift.”

The Sith opened the package and smirked, as the gift turned out to be a bottle of rum.

“Did you know that I would be here?” she asked.

“You know me, Ras,” Xantros burst in laughter. “I like knowing stuff. I have to know stuff, especially as the Aedile of the only House in the Clan. I would be a bad leader, if I did not know about the whereabouts of members of the House. And about their beverage preferences.”

“Well…a point for you,” replied the Warlord.

Xantros looked around and nodded to greet other people. He smiled at Mune Cinteroph, glad that the former Proconsul was with them. It was good to see at least some experienced members of the Clan sound and safe. The war against the Collective had taken far too great a toll of death among the forces of the Imperial Clan. The Duros was eager to look out for new recruits, both Force-sensitive and mundane people. However the Empire needed stalwart people, who possessed skills and experience too. They were necessary to help Scholae Palatinae rise like a phoenix from ashes.

Though it was meant to be just a training mission, Xantros saw it as something very valuable. He always tried to be prepared as much as possible, so he believed that proper training was a key to success in real missions, even if field experience was also heavily influential on one’s abilities and efficiency. And though he would like to be somewhere else, looking for new candidates for the Clan, he decided to take part in the mission anyway. It was an opportunity to meet with other members of the Clan and assess their performance outside the pressure of constant warfare. He expected himself to be always prepared for any possible scenario, but he actually took his philosophy one step further. He expected the whole House and whole Clan to be prepared for any possible scenario. It was possible only, if everyone knew their abilities and the areas they needed to develop at.

Xantros was already thinking ahead and considering what challenges they would face during the training mission, when Mune’s voice brought him back to reality. The former Proconsul started explaining objectives of the mission, so the Duros focused on the briefing. It would be highly unwise to think about anything else at the moment – the mission was the most imminent goal and he wanted to be prepared for it as well as he only could. It was going to be fun.

Dek CS

Dek viewed out of the cockpit. A dull darkness surrounded the ship, along with the hum of the electronics dancing through the metallic walls. Salt water whisked behind the Courier.

“Time until we reach the Archipelago?” spoke Dek through his armored mask.

“5 minutes,” responded the droid within the hull of the ship itself.

“The time when might will meet mettle,” the Sullustan quipped.

He sat up from the pilot’s seat, switching the ship to autopilot for the rest of the journey.

“Cockpit is yours, droid.”

The heavy thunk of the Dark Armor pounded across the floor. Dek walked back to the central chamber. Eyeing the armory, he opened the metal door and eyed his green lightsaber with a bronze hilt. He grasped it, placing it on his belt buckle. Next was his Wester Blaster Rifle. He picked it up by the sling and flung it over his shoulder, “Hopefully I won’t need this.”

Picking up a few other objects, he quickly closed the door and walked towards the holomatrix. He brought up a map of the Nethal Archipelago, with different sites and points of interest noted by the Dark Armor scanner. It was then he received a comm-link message from Mune.

Upon seeing what was contained inside, he smirked.

“Droid!” he shouted back to the cockpit. “I’ve been assigned a team. Read the log to see which one. Keep that in mind when you come back for me. The artifact will be mine, and I’ll need a quick escape.”

“You ask too much of me,” the droid computer responded. “My functions only go towards…”

“I know your functions,” Dek interrupted, “piloting, navigation, weapons, and nothing else.”

Dek walked towards the cockpit console and set a reminder and a tracker for his location at all times.

“The tracker is embedded into your weapons systems. Don’t shoot it, just follow it.”

“Affirmative,” responded the droid ship.

“I’ll be off then,” Dek clanked towards the exit hatch.

The Star Courier lifted through the bright blue of the sea into the air, with water rushing hastily off the sides of the ship, causing white waves to hit the shore larger than usual. Dek opened the top hatch as the ship dripped off, slowly edging towards the shore. When close enough, Dek stepped down and landed onto the golden sand. He walked up to the dirt patch, eyeing the people already there. His Aedile next to the other Sith, another two people he only barely recognized, a few other familiar faces, and of course Mune.

“Shall we begin now that most of us are here?” The Shistavanen questioned.

“Yes,” quipped Dek Iron’yikut through his helmet.
“Quite the entrance,” the Aedile smirked at Dek.

“The ocean depths hold secrets that are often overlooked by people. Ancient civilizations, ancient powers. Who knows? Possibly even the artifact,” Dek was stone faced through his mask, emulating what he thought to be appropriate for this situation.

“Got any friends coming?” questioned Caleb.

“None. They’re busy doing work for me,” Dek responded.

“A bit unfair, don’t you think?” Feanor quipped. “We could use all the people we can get.”

“They’ll get in the way.” Dek said rather bluntly.

In fact, this is what he believed. His thoughts went to what he thought of this: a charade. Dek believed that this was a set up for something grander. The artifact may just be a false flag, but Dek would pursue this with his team and get to the bottom of it.

Reiden Snapshot

Reiden had gotten a communication not long ago regarding the apparent training exercise being held. At first he couldn’t believe the words on his datapad’s screen. It hardly seemed the time to be doing such things. Now was the time to focus on recovery and rebuilding. Of course, being better prepared for the next conflict was important as well, just perhaps a rung lower on the ladder than everything else that was and should be taking place.

Nevertheless, he found himself intrigued by the prospect. The outing could prove useful, and it had been a while since he had last joined up with a group of his fellow clanmates. More often than not, he preferred to be on his own, with the people he trusted most and worked best with. That’s not to say he didn’t trust his clanmates, but the bonds there weren’t quite as strong as those he had forged with his usual team.

The line of thinking brought him to thoughts of his good friend Orion. He wished the bounty hunter had been able to join him, but he had said there was other business he had to deal with instead. So Reiden had traveled alone to Nethal Archipelago, making his way to the coordinates that had been provided.

His mind flashed back to his previous time in the chain of islands. It had been two years ago when Reiden first set foot on Nethal. Scholae had been trying to expand its territory further after wresting control of Caelestis City from the Meraxis Empire and Nethal was the first step in that plan. It was here that he had encountered the enemy commander Rigel Syklan, who had been a thorn in the Force user’s side ever since. The man even allied himself with the Collective, seemingly joining their ranks. After their first meeting, the man had sworn vengeance on Reiden. So far, he had proved to be unsuccessful, but Reiden knew it would be foolish to count the man out.

His mind turned back to the present as he checked the coordinates on his datapad. He was almost at the meeting place. Curiosity drew him forward. He had no idea what to expect, but he had a feeling that there was some ulterior motive to the exercise than simply training. Only time would tell.

As Reiden continued, he eyed a small group of people up ahead. Most had their backs to him. It seems like there are some familiar faces here after all, he mused silently as he approached. It had been quite some time since he had last been with so many people from the clan at once, certainly outside of the field of battle. He eyed one member in particular that had perched on a rock. There was something familiar about the presence, though he couldn’t quite place his finger on it just yet.

As he drew closer, a knife suddenly impaled itself in the ground by his feet. His eyes trailed from the weapon to the figure on the rock. The throw had been swift, the figure’s position quickly returning to normal. A realization struck him, and he couldn’t believe it had taken him so long to recognize her.

The raven had come out to as well.

He allowed a smile to play across his lips as he picked the knife up and strode forward to return it to its owner. “Nice to see you again, Ras.”

The Sith flashed a grin as she accepted the offered blade. “Aye. I needed to have some fun and this seemed like an interesting way to do so.”

“I suppose you’re right,” he said, a hint of interest at the edge of his voice. “I’m not sure what’s in store, but I guess we’ll soon find out.”

He turned to give a nod of greeting to Xantros and Dek. His eyes drifted to Mune before settling on the tall Togorian standing beside the former Proconsul. Reiden was unfamiliar with the man, but he was sure that he was trusted if he had been allowed to join in on the exercise. Next his gaze found a more familiar face, that belonging to Feanor Lang. Reiden didn’t know him well, but he had heard of him and knew that he was a friend of Shadow’s.

Discussions seemed to be coming to an end. Most people were already present. Mune began speaking and Reiden focused on the Shistavanen. While he wasn’t sure what to expect, he would pay careful attention to what was said. More than that, he would keep his mind open to the possibility that there could be more to this training exercise than meets the eye.

Mune eyed the assembled members of Clan Scholae Palatinae, his ruby eyes scrutinizing all within his sight. He felt the towering presence of the Togorian at his back; he took solace in that closeness right then. A grin spread the length of his long muzzle; the turn out excited him no small amount. He sensed their apt attention. He made eye contact with as many as he could before taking a breath and beginning.

“Welcome to the Nethal Archipelago,” Mune made sure his voice carried for all to hear. “Certainly more than a few of you are wondering what we are doing out here on the Archipelago. We are training. Why? Well…”

Mune’s grin faded around the edges. “I’ll be blunt here, as I know some of you may appreciate more than others.” He saw some of the uncomfortable shufflings of feet. The Shistavanen felt the brush of a dry, barren’s wind brush through his thick fur. It made him itch, but he ignored it. His eyes swept the group. “We’re lucky to have limped home after the last conflict with the Collective. There are more than one, more than two, three, a thousand, even more of our troops that did not.”

He knew more than a couple of the clansmen before him were Sith and would likely feel the costs were mere nothings in a grander scheme. Mune, however, was no Sith. He could not claim to be on the other side of the fence either, but he knew to value lives, even when forced to take them.

“Our enemies nearly made an end to us,” he growled. “No matter how you may think this is a waste of time. That we have wounds to lick. Bones to mend. I think our functionality as a Clan, as a team, requires some work. Nay. I know it requires work or so says the data.”

He felt the rising anger. That he was garnering such ire was of no surprise to him, Mune had expected as much. No one liked being told of their shortcomings. His ruby eyes narrowed as if to warn those rising hackles back down. A slow and vicious snarl rumbled up his throat and carried. He felt the anger draw back again like something palpable on the air. He smoothed his fur down, and with a brush of a hand through his hair, his ears sprung back up. He took a breath before he continued.

“The mission at hand then!” the abrupt switch made Caleb chuckle at his back. Mune continued, albeit in a lighter tone, “We are to recover an artifact. Its exact nature is as yet unknown.”

“So, we are just to retrieve this artifact?” Reiden asked, a petulant look furrowing his brow. He was one of those that believed there were better things they should be putting their energy towards.

“Oh. I did not say whether it was a real artifact or not; mind.” Mune grinned, “The goal is just to retrieve it.”

“What?!” There were some incredulous looks upon more than a few faces.

“The point is survival, in odds that are not necessarily in our favour. Surviving the barrens, it’s various bestial residents, and finally, each other.” Mune explained, making it clear with the very serious cant of his ears and firmness of word that he would not tell tall tales. “To succeed, first, all members of this exercise must survive. Secondly, the artifact must be secured.”

“This is just…” Reiden began. One sharp look from the Shistavanen stayed his tongue. There was something about the look that brokered no argument.

“Thirdly, there are traitors among us. We know not the number, but a second-team exists within our ranks whose goal is to sabotage and even claim the artifact for itself.”

There were again some murmurs.

“Worry not; they are not to kill anyone. Though maiming is not out of the question.” Mune glanced to his mate, arching a brow questioningly. Caleb shrugged, and Mune glanced back at the assembled, “I suppose that is all… oh! That’s right! There is no withdrawal from the exercise. Any who decide they no longer wish to take part will be labelled a traitor to the empire.”

Rasilvenaira sat quietly on her rock, taking a long drink from the bottle of rum Xantros had brought her. To all appearances it didn’t seem like she was paying even the slightest attention to what the Shistavanen was saying. However, anyone who knew her would know better.

There was little that ever truly escaped the StormRaven’s notice. She was well aware that within the Brotherhood, there were many who viewed her as a washed up, drunken has-been. The thought just made her smile. Only a fool would truly underestimate a Sith who had survived as long as she had. Rasilvenaira never allowed her drinking to impair her senses.

The Warlord’s mind was already calling up the maps she had seen of the area, as well as considering everything she knew about everyone present. She was already calculating strategies, estimating people’s strengths and weaknesses, making multiple plans to cover various contingencies. While Mune outlined the mission and explained details, her unfathomable dark eyes studied the clan members around her.

Hearing the various unhappy murmurs as the Shistavanen finished his instruction, Rasilvenaira smirked. Intrigues, plots, and betrayals were commonplace among the Sith. It might have bothered her once upon a time, but now? She only found it more amusing.

“Isn’t it a little counterproductive to have us trying to kill each other?” Reiden asked with a frown.

Rasilvenaira chuckled as she closed the bottle of rum and slipped it into her pack. Standing, she glanced over at the young Battlelord. “There are no friends on the battlefield, and weapons have neither eye nor conscience.”

“But this isn’t a battlefield, Ras.”

She stood, brushing dust off her pants. “Life is a battlefield every day, Reiden, one way or another. You just have to deal with it.”

Fëanor arched a brow at her. “Rather jaded outlook, don’t you think?”

StormRaven shrugged, “Live as long as I have, it happens.” With that, she turned to her droid. “Let’s go, Veritas. I want to take a walk.”

Veritas nodded and moved to fall in step at her side. “Query: Do you have any particular instructions, Mistress?”

Rasilvenaira grinned. “Standard protocols, Veritas.”

Veritas readied his blaster rifle. “Affirmation: Blast anything that moves that isn’t you or a Clan member. Understood.”

Proconsul Wynter had taken up position several kilometers to the north of the assembled team and began to setup a makeshift observation post. This training exercise was Mune’s op, no doubt, but the two men shared a common goal and a secret hope to see just how well the survivors of Arx could perform together. Most of the members of the strike team had arrived and began to form up as Wynter arrayed his field equipment.

“Perimeter secured. Orders?” asked Ghost, Wynter’s personal IG-100 guard droid.

Ghost was more than a droid to Wynter, as the old battered warrior had survived the destruction of New Tython, multiple wars, and more close calls than the human wanted to admit.

“Prepare the Tie Lander for standbye flight and keep it prepped. There is likely to be serious injury or fatalities on this mission. Other than that, make yourself at home Ghost we aren’t going anywhere for awhile” answered Wynter.

The droid turned to face the human, eyeing him with the piercing mechanical photo-processors that belied a spirit and understanding.

“You were not entirely truthful to the Empress, your intention is to provide a dust-off capability and not overwatch protection for the mission. This indicates you want the team to have a false sense of control. Intent indicates that you want to see the team encounter potentially deadly enemy action with no support. Answer, your desired outcome is for bodily harm to come to the team?” asked the droid.

Wynter studied his old friend carefully for a second as he continued to set up monitoring equipment and some trip lines around the small makeshift compound. “No Ghost, I want that team to face death and overcome. When they do they will need a fallback position.” Wynter sighed heavily, “and they better come back together or not at all.”