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Clan Naga Sadow Plot Fiction - 2016/17


New Threats

KSD Damnation
Hyperspace Transit
Classified Sector

Upon hearing the bridge door hiss open and footsteps stop somewhere behind him, Locke was aware that this was not just another visiting officer or messenger. He traded a glance with Araic Simonetti and nodded to the Admiral, turning to greet the newcomer.

Locke had not previously met Qyreia Arronen in person. He looked over the Zeltron woman and kept his expression as blank as possible. He had a personal and old dislike of Zeltrons in general, but as long as this mercenary continued to perform well, he would use her. Besides, she was likely less unpredictable than a Dark Jedi.

“Professional,” he said, inclining his head slightly.

“Consul,” Qyreia replied, nodding back

“You’re probably wondering why you were summoned here shortly before the ship entered hyperspace and I’m sure you have grown impatient with waiting, but it is time to show you the fruits of the labor of you and your comrades.” He had at first found it odd to elevate mercenaries to the same level of the Force users of the clan, but if they proved themselves, the Consul wanted to make sure they felt recognized. Qyreia had been at the forefront of the missions that had brought them to where they were today.

Qyreia raised an eyebrow. “The data you sent us after? I didn’t think it ended up being worth anything since we hadn’t heard about it.”

“It took a long time to crack the code initially,” Locke explained, “but the information is extremely valuable.” We have learned of the location of one of the star destroyers that attacked us along with that army of droids that landed on Sepros. It was damaged during the battle, but we were not able to finish it off. We think it has retreated to a remote system for resupply and intend to get there before it leaves."

Locke turned to the main view screen, gesturing across it with one arm. “Now watch.”

The bridge was silent for several seconds. Then, an officer began speaking quietly. “30 seconds to reversion.”

Sometime past, and the countdown continued.



Locke glanced at Araic. If their intelligence was correct, this could be a huge morale boost for the Warhost and a tactical victory. If not, this was a wasted effort, with the fleet’s most powerful ship away from home for nothing.


The surreal blue vortex of hyperspace resolved into lines of light that then became tiny pinpricks of stars, a lone dagger shape silhouetted in front of them. It quickly grew larger and then stopped as the Damnation slowed, now stretching across most of the forward view as a white bar in the darkness.

Breathing deeply, Locke listened. It was here.

“Target dead ahead. Also reading at least two squadrons of fighters; several transport craft of varying sizes.”

“Is Abyss in position?” Araic asked.

“Coming online now, Sir. Gravity wells are powering up and…locked.”

“Good. Order our fighters to screen the enemy’s…”

The Admiral continued to issue orders as the Damnation approached the enemy star destroyer. They began trading fire at range, the Damnation rumbling quietly as it’s heavy turbolasers fired. Of custom Brotherhood design, the Khyron-class vessel would have been more than a match for a fully operational star destroyer. In this case, the enemy didn’t stand a chance.

When the Damnation pulled alongside the enemy ship, it fired a full broadside, along with a salvo of its proton torpedoes. The combination eliminated the shields and created a large rift in the side of the destroyer, explosions in multiple places breaking it apart.

“That was for Atra and Sepros,” Locke said. “The empire of Sadow will always retaliate.”

“Are there any survivors?” the Consul asked, addressing Admiral Simonetti.

“Some,” he said. “We’re picking them up now. Then we’ll leave.”

“Good,” Locke replied. He turned back to Qyreia. “A substantial sum of credits will be wired to your account. Keep up the good work.”

Kota System

Irith looked down at the cowering creature in front of her. She hated the way that these people behaved when they brought her bad news; she could basically smell it from the next hall. They all smelled of fear. Its rankness permeated the air, hanging over all of them like a massive cloud of despair, overshadowing all they did. Soon however, it would lift. Their new enemy was fighting a war on two fronts, one against her Dominion, the other against their own. It would weaken them, force them to commit on either side, and would open up the other.

If they did not commit to the defense against her, they would be like the tip of a spear plunging into the soft flesh near the heart. If they committed to the defense against the Dominion, they would simply wait until their own weakened them and then strike deeper into their foe’s territory than ever thought possible.

“F-forgive me mistress, but I bring bad news,” the human stammered, sweat beads rolling down its head. “Your envoy, he’s been captured.”

Those last few words drew her full attention, her dark eyes fixated upon the little man in front of her, nostrils flaring, her breathing became audible. If this was true, then all they had worked for would be at risk.

She beckoned two guards with a shrug of her head, who immediately stepped forward and grabbed the cowering fool in front of her and dragged him to his feet. There, suspended between the two Kaleesh brutes, he yammered.

“P-please f-forgive me,” he yelped as he reverted to his natural Clawdite form. “I hold no responsibility in this, I am only delivering the message.”

Irith stepped down from her seat, going down the few steps that elevated her above the others. She stopped in front of the Clawdite spy, bringing her face inches from his. She could count the different shades of sickly green pigment his face contained. Secretly, she was disgusted by their alliance with these traitors, these spies, but they needed them. They were unparalleled in their craft, and information was of paramount importance to the Dominion.

She directed her thoughts into his mind as she spoke to him without anyone hearing. Tell me what happened, do not leave a single detail out.

Meanwhile she reached into her own mind, to a place where she could hear the others whisper. They had to be summoned. The council would have to discuss what their next action would be.

The Lion’s Tooth
Seng Karash

Locke waited in the hallway outside as muffled screams echoed from the chamber beyond. This was one of the lowest levels of the Lion’s Tooth, and one that Locke wondered if the previous occupant had even used. Since his ascent to Quaestor, Darkblade had used it as his own personal shop.

Those screams made Locke’s skin crawl. On the other hand, they could be invaluable to the safety and success of Naga Sadow, so he bore them, waiting for what product they might produce. A week ago, the clan had captured members of the Dominion, and many of them had seemed to be of some importance. Against his own preference, Locke had given them over to Darkblade for questioning. The new Quaestor seemed quite proficient in that regard.

As the sounds died down, the door to the chamber beyond slid open and Darkblade stepped out, a slight grin on his face.

“That took a while,” Locke said.

Darkblade chuckled. “I had to make sure I got everything.”

“What did we learn?” Locke asked.

“It’s…interesting. His stories and the others match. I’ve sent a report to your office, complete with the audio video feed, should you choose to verify yourself.”

The Consul shuddered inwardly. “Wonderful. Dispose of them however you see fit.”

As he left, Darkblade’s laughter dwindled in the distance. The Consul had other things on his mind, however. He had to share this news.

Grand Hall
Temple of Sorrow

Locke stood in the center of the Grand Hall. The massive chunk of Ombus that still seemed to glow faintly with the light of that world laid at the back of the chamber, serving as the backdrop to what would be a throne, if he had one. Some called it his throne, but to him it was a reminder of what could result if he was not careful. Every time he gazed at it, he knew that his rule was only held by threads that could unravel at any time. He had to hold onto those threads. For the clan, for the Brotherhood, for his family.

Banners flanked the main corridor of the chamber. The seal of Naga Sadow was interspersed with his own banner. Members of the clan, attendants, and other personnel lined the chamber, holo-cameras above them, for those who were unable to attend. This announcement was sealed to the clan, but the Warhost deserved to know as well. The Orian Assembly, however, did not need this knowledge.

The Consul sighed. Even now, after all this time, he really hated giving speeches. As the din of hushed conversation rose to a loud level, Locke steeled himself and summoned the Force, strengthening his internal musculature.

When he spoke, his voice boomed across the Hall, echoing down its length. “Welcome,” he said.

Everyone else fell silent. Outwardly, Locke was calm. He stood straight. He was the model of a leader. He knew most of these beings would follow him without a second thought. Internally, his mind raced. He had no prepared speech. In truth, the Consul did not know what he was going to say until he said it. He let his gut, the Force, and instinct guide him.

“Months ago, we were attacked by an enemy we had not encountered before. They penetrated our defensive line; landed droid forces on Sepros. They were pushed back, but not without cost - as you know.” He let the words hang in the air for a moment. Silence dominated the Grand Hall.

He let the volume of his voice lower, as it filled the silence. “At the time, we had no idea who they were. We pursued a rapidly-cooling trail to a world our intelligence called Cobalt. There, we learned more about this enemy. Then, we had our first chance to strike back against them. We took prisoners, and it is from them that we have learned who this enemy is.”

Walking in a slow circle, Locke made eye contact with several individuals at random as he continued. It made him itch to have his back to some in this group, but he did not think they would attempt something here. This was the center of his power. This clan, this army, the fleet represented by the officers present. This was the power of Naga Sadow.

“They call themselves the 'Dominion.” His voice was a whisper. It pierced the silent air like a blade. He almost spat the word. “They are the remnants of some ancient experiment - either by the Rakati or Sith - it does not matter. They were oppressed by the Sith. They see us as the descendants of those Sith. Somehow, they have prepared their own navy, their own army, and seek to gain revenge for what our forebearers did to them.”

“Well,” Locke continued, gesturing with one hand. “We are the legacy of those ancient Sith, but we are not defined by them. We will not enslave and oppress this Dominion as our ancient predecessors did.”

He paused before continuing, speaking matter of factly. “Instead, we will destroy them.”

Cheers answered that, almost before he finished speaking. Locke knew not all in the clan would agree, but the majority would. The Warhost would support it. The powerful dark Elders of the clan would support it. He was confident in the decision. The Consul raised his arm, balling his hand into a fist. The cheers stopped as he did so.

He spoke plainly at first. “Orders and information have been sent to your accounts. There is much to do in the coming days. Already, we rapidly approach our first major battle with the Dominion. Then, they will truly feel our wrath.”

"As Sadow said, ‘conquest is our destiny.’

Finally, he let his voice rise. “For Sadow!” As others joined in, as the Hall filled with the chant, he amplified his voice with the Force again. He imagined the Dominion’s leaders hearing their cries across the expanse of space.

This enemy would get more than they bargained for with Naga Sadow.

A short time later, Locke sat alone atop the massive shard of Ombus. Some had taken to calling it the ‘crystal throne’, but he did not make that official. The Hall was empty now, save for a row of guards along each corridor. Slowly, the doors at the opposite end opened, admitting a retinue of several figures.

At their head was the Rollmaster, Marcus Kiriyu. As he led the procession toward Locke’s end of the hall, the Consul thought of recent events. Just prior to this, Cethgus had been summoned before the Dark Council. He had been tight-lipped about the reasons, but the following announcement of a new Fist had confirmed Locke’s suspicions. That left him without a Proconsul, but a potential ally on the Dark Council. That could be very useful.

But now, what did Marcus want? Did he know something about the other rumors that had surfaced as of late?

When he was several feet away, Marcus spoke. “The rumors are true. New Tython has been razed. The Inquisitorius seem to be hunting for Jedi among the ranks. Who can say what they will think of a Jedi Quaestor? Rumor indicates that the Grand Master is carving his own personal path of destruction through any he finds undesirable: Jedi, alien, sympathizer. Any who do not fit his new order.”

It took Locke a few moments to process this. New Tython. Destroyed. The clan of light Jedi in the Brotherhood, the cancer that it had been, removed. He had always wanted that, ever since the clans were held back from destroying the House of Odan-Urr in the conflict dubbed the 10th Great Jedi War. Locke had once hated all the Jedi, and desired their extinction, but now…now he had allies who were Jedi. Friends, even. And closer.

Marcus just watched him. What was the Rollmaster thinking? He had tried to seize power once. Was he wondering if his Consul would crack? Was he envisioning Locke impaled on Pravus’ lightsaber and his own ascension to Consul?

A saying Locke’s mother had once told him came to mind. It fit this situation perfectly. He mumbled it quietly. “On the heights, the paths are paved with daggers.”

'What was that?" Marcus asked.

“I just remembered something,” Locke said. “It’s not important.” He had to do something about Sang. And Malik. The Elder could not show himself in this situation. But so many knew of Sang. How could he hide the Jedi and keep him in his position? Could he convince the others that he had deposed of Sang, and maintain his loyalty and service?

How? Locke wondered.

Marcus smiled slightly. He probably had some idea of what Locke was going through. Would he have to hide Sang from even his own Summit? “What will you do?” the Rollmaster asked quietly.

“I will exercise the Grand Master’s will,” Locke whispered. He had once faced the clan’s Elders as adversaries. As a new Equite, he had stared down Macron Sadow and Darth Vexatus. He would not allow a new Grand Master to scare him, nor to end his reign.

Through war or subterfuge, he - and Naga Sadow - would survive.

Dominion Fact File can be found at this location.


Grand Hall
Temple of Sorrow

Locke drummed his fingers impatiently upon the arm of the chair he was sitting in, he frowned as he listened to the words being spoken within the hall. The news he had received from the Rollmaster, Marcus Kiriyu, had not been good.

Pravus had struck, burning Odan-Urr from existence. The Jedi had fled, or been destroyed and New Tython was nothing more than a lifeless glass orb, hanging in space. The Grand Master was full of hatred and had decreed that all who didn’t fit in with his new order would be exterminated.

The Consul knew that Naga Sadow was a target after the destruction of the Jedi. The Clan had given shelter to several Jedi and their sympathisers, not to mention a great number of undesirables. Naga Sadow was non compliant, yet Locke was determined to keep his head and keep his beloved Clan safe.

When questioned by Marcus on his actions, Locke knew he had but one course of action. The Jedi who had made the Orian System their home must be removed. He hadn’t found it an easy decision, knowing full well that Sanguinius and Malik had done no wrong, despite their misguided philosophical ideals.

The Augur felt alone in the galaxy, surrounded by enemies and knives at his back. He had commanded Marcus to bring Sanguinius before him, he knew the Jedi would come quietly, the Warden would never allow someone else to die for him. The recording kept repeating, the words filling Locke with anger and disappointment.

The doors to the hall slammed open, slamming against the walls. Marcus marched in, wearing a self-righteous smirk. Several Warhost soldiers marched in after him, half dragging a stumbling Sanguinius into the Grand Hall. The Jedi looked calm, despite his bedraggled appearance. Locke glanced over the Warden, noticing his appearance. It looked like Marcus had enjoyed his task a bit too much.

Marcus came to a halt in front of the raised dais that the throne rested upon and saluted the Consul. Locke hurriedly gestured for Marcus to cease, having never been a fan of ceremony. He rose from his seat, and walked slowly towards Sanguinius, who had been violently shoved to the floor by the Warhost soldiers.

Locke directed his attention towards the tall Epicanthix, who stood there, brimming with confidence and a malicious smile on his face. “I asked you to bring him to me, I didn’t tell you to hurt him.” Locke scolded the Rollmaster, whose confidence dipped a little, the grin vanished as Marcus tried to explain his actions. “I…I mean, you ordered…”

“Enough.” Locke ordered, “You may retire.” Marcus nodded and retreated from the Grand Hall, the Warhost soldiers going with him.

“So,” Locke began, his voice covering the constantly repeated recording. “You defy the Council, Sanguinius.” The words were more of a statement than a question. Sanguinius simply stared mutely back at the Consul, resting still upon his knees.

“You’ve put me in an extremely difficult spot, Jedi.” Locke continued, he began to pace back and forth. “Pravus wants you dead.”

“And you brought me here to kill me yourself?” Sanguinius finally spoke, a wry voice secure in the knowledge of his future.

“The thought had passed my mind,” The Bakuran pointed towards the holo-link that was playing in the background, a small blueish figure stood in the display, orating passionately. Sanguinius caught a few words, “…has decided that aliens are not fit to live in his empire. Do you really want to follow this madman in blind obedience?”

Sanguinius shook his head, “She will not bow to you, Locke. Nor will I. She stands with me against the tyranny of the Grand Master.”

Locke snapped, “SHE’LL BE LYING DEAD BEFORE HIS FEET, WHILE YOU WATCH!” he bellowed. Locke backhanded Sanguinius, who rode the blow.

The Consul recovered his poise, “I apologise for that, Sanguinius.” he raised his hands in supplication. “As you might notice, I’m under a lot of pressure.”

Sanguinius ignored Locke and instead focused on the message being dictated by his Aedile, Tasha Vel’Versea over the holo-link.

“Leaders, Elders, and members of Naga Sadow I come before you during the dire of circumstances. As most of you all know, Grandmaster Pravus has targeted and slaughtered countless lives of what he calls undesirables. Now he’s targeted the Jedi in a mass genocide and has decided that aliens are not fit to live in his empire.

“Do you really want to follow this madman in blind obedience? I tell you, wiping out an entire race or species is wrong and unjust. Together we have all worked alongside each other in this Clan and have made Naga Sadow a proud Clan to be in. Now Pravus threatens to go against anyone who disobeys and destroy them as well.

Brothers and Sisters of Naga Sadow will you stand up to Pravus and his mad king ideals or will you run and hide like a scared womp rat. The choice is yours to make, but I sure as the nine hells will protect my entire Clan and stand against Pravus. Who will stand beside me and bring this tyrant down?”

The Jedi was proud of his Aedile, yet was also saddened. Too many people would die if they followed this course of action. The Grand Master knew no mercy and the fact that Cethgus had listened to the summons to become FIST would mean that Pravus would know every last secret of Naga Sadow. Malik and himself were no longer safe.

“You need me dead or turned, don’t you?” Sanguinius asked. “I’m a thorn in your side that will lead to the death of thousands…”

Locke knelt by Sanguinius and looked him in the eyes, “Can you in good conscience condemn those people to death?”

“You know I can’t.” The Anaxsi bowed his head, ashamed with himself. “The Jedi are gone from this galaxy once again. I cannot rebuild them, I do not deserve the honour.” Sanguinius truly believed he was the last Jedi in the galaxy, besides Malik.

Tears streamed down the blood encrusted face of the Quaestor as he realised the situation he was in. “Give me the opportunity to replace my old master. I will protect everyone, Naga Sadow, the people of Orian. Those who sympathise with the Jedi will follow me, but hear this. I swear that Pravus and his ilk will pay for their crimes.” Sanguinius gritted his teeth as he stared up at Locke and rose to his feet.

Locke pondered the request, to rid himself of a Jedi, who would publicly claim that the Jedi Order was dead and regain the loyalty of those who openly opposed the Dark Council. He would be a fool to pass up the opportunity, but at the same time, he refused to give up power so easily.

“Very well, you shall replace Cethgus as my Proconsul. Bring your wayward Aedile into line and she shall serve as your replacement.” Locke grasped Sanguinius by the front of his robes and pulled him close, “But if you betray me or you fail to deliver on the loyalty of your sympathisers, then I shall deliver you to Pravus myself.” The Consul let go of the robes and moved away from Sanguinius.

“Leave me, do not return until you deliver upon your promises.”

Locke watched as the Jedi rose up from the ground and staggered away out of the Grand Hall. The Arcanist could trust Sanguinius’ word, he knew that the Warden took the oath in sincerity. Sang would heal the rift that he had created in Naga Sadow.

Marcus seethed, the Mystic had performed his duty and then been cast aside. The Rollmaster was not without his tools, having planted a listening device upon the Jedi. He had listened to the conversation and was livid with the result.

Sanguinius should have been killed, He, Marcus Kiriyu, should had been Proconsul! Sang’s death would be the only action to placate the hateful Grand Master and protect Naga Sadow.

The Epicanthix crushed the comlink in his hand, breaking the fragile mechanism. His plans may have come to naught, but he was not finished. He would make the Jedi pay for this, for taking what was rightfully his. The Spymaster was not without his own plans and devices.

Locke turned off the hololink, terminating Tasha’s message. He would need to move fast to remove temptation away from the Dark Council. He knew Pravus would send a contingent to the Orian System to ensure compliance. Locke knew that he only had one choice, he would order a new attack against the Dominion to take the majority of the Clan out of the grasp of the Grand Master and his Inquisitorius. This would also, he hoped, keep them focused on their enemy and not the light sympathizers in their ranks.

Locke withdrew his comlink from one of his pockets and activated it. “Admiral Simonetti, we have work to do, and fast.”

“As you wish.” came the reply.


KSD Damnation
In orbit over Sepros

The shuttle engines flared as they came into land in the hangar bay, the troop transports ferrying soldiers and supplies to the Sadowan flagship. Marcus stood watching them, ticking off items on the checklist as technicians unloaded the vessels.

The Rollmaster had been assigned the “glorious” task of ensuring the Damnation was ready for deployment upon Locke’s orders. The Consul had demanded that the Warhost be on a heightened stance of alert, due to concerns of a potential attack by the Iron Throne.

Marcus didn’t blame the Consul, yet the Spymaster had his own sources throughout the Brotherhood that had not given him warning of any potential strikes yet. He trusted Locke to lead Naga Sadow out of this quagmire however, despite the choice made to give Sanguinius more power.

Several boxes clattered to the ground, drawing Marcus from his reverie and eliciting a foul course from him. “Be more careful with those warheads, do you want to kill us all?”

A handful of technicians stood there, looking sorry for themselves. One of them, a Warrant Officer, apologised. “My apologies, sir.”

The Epicanthix rolled his eyes in despair, “Alright, get on with it. I need these shuttles cleared and ready to get back to the surface asap. I’ll be damned if we get behind schedule.”

Marcus looked back at the row of shuttles, the power and might of the Warhost was there for the casual viewer to appreciate, yet the Krath could only think of the danger that lurked in the darkness, threatening to engulf them all…

Temple of Sadow

The Matriarch had had an interesting meeting with her Consul. Locke had been playing toy soldiers for far too long according to her view. His obsession with the Warhost had blinded him to the problem in their midst. They had ignored Pravus’ dogmatic drive to exterminate anything that disagreed with him. The presence of the Jedi had made Naga Sadow vulnerable, the Clan so used to being dependant on the Iron Throne.

Sildrin had sought an audience with her fellow Sadowan to discuss the situation. The manipulative woman had run rings around Locke, knowing full well how to push his buttons and provoke him into a response. She had hated doing so, but she believed it a necessity to protect Naga Sadow from the wrath of Pravus.

The white eyed Adept had warned Locke about the existence of the undesirables within Naga Sadow, but despite her concerns, she had no hatred directed towards them. she felt that they had just as much a right to exist as anyone in this galaxy.

A small shuttle, painted white, landed before the Temple of Sadow. It made use of the large open space before the tower instead of seeking a berth at the spaceport. Obviously, this was someone of great importance, or perceived importance. Sildrin waited at the top of the stairs that led from the open space as she watched the black robed figure emerge from the shuttle and approach the Temple.

They halted before her and pulled back their hood to reveal a face unknown to her, yet the tattoo on his face told her all she needed to know. A proud member of the Inquisitorius, used to inspiring fear into others and bullying weaker members of the Brotherhood.

The man spoke, “I’m here for the Jedi… You will stand aside, witch.”

Sildrin blinked, and bowed her head lightly, “I am not a witch.” Her words lodged themselves in the man’s mind, her mouth staying closed.

“Stand aside, witch.” The Inquisitor ordered. He grasped at the lightsaber hilt that hung at his belt. “Before I slaughter you where you stand.”

“But I don’t understand, you’ve already met Locke.” Sildrin sent, her words appearing in the Inquisitor’s head. “He already gave you the Jedi. They’re by your ship.” She pointed towards the small shuttle.

The Inquisitor turned to see Sanguinius and Malik standing mutely by his shuttle enclasped in chains, “They’re already on my ship…”

“That’s right, Naga Sadow is loyal to our beloved Grand Master, Darth Pravus.” Sildrin continued her telepathic conversation.

“All hail our Lord, Pravus.” Intoned the Inquisitor who turned to walk back to his shuttle. He activated his comlink, latching onto the long range communication array that was contained within. “This is ‘Aubesh Dagger’, mission successful.” He spoke into the comlink, informing his handlers that the Jedi of Naga Sadow were in his care and the Clan was once more compliant to the Iron Throne.

The Adept knew her words would not fool the misguided torturer for long once he had left her presence. His death would be the only choice. With a sigh, she drew and activated her lightsaber. “The things I do for Sadow…” She thought as the amethyst blade cleaved the head from his shoulders. The head fell and rolled down the steps as the body slumped to its knees and keeled over.

Sildrin knew that the shuttle had to be destroyed, she would summon someone knowledgeable enough to program the shuttle’s autopilot and set a delayed autodestruct to hide the body and make the Dark Council believe the Jedi died in the explosion. The Adept would continue to protect Naga Sadow any way she could.

Seng Karash

A cloaked figure made their way through the crowds gathered to wish goodbye to their relatives as the Warhost mobilised. She was here for one reason only, to see the man standing beside their commander. She had no interest in the Colonel, no…she was interested in the non-descript man beside him.

His face had been imprinted in her memories as an Alpha-level target. Secure and return, dead or alive. She watched as the sandy haired man spoke to the Colonel, who nodded and saluted him. The man simply shook his head in exasperated response, clearly uneasy with the ceremony.

This place was too crowded to make a scene, so she was pleased to see her target turn and make his way away from the Warhost troops and head down a side street, obviously to reach a speeder. The cloaked figure followed him, turning the corner and finding it empty except for a slight figure standing there, their arms crossed in defiance.

“I think you’re in the wrong place, miss.” Leeadra smiled, radiating malice.

“Actually, I believe you’re the one in the wrong place,” the woman replied, pulling her robe off to reveal her identity as a member of the Inquisitorius. “Stand aside, Sadowan. You are not my mission.” The Inquisitor ignited her lightsaber, the sickly crimson blade punctuating the stillness of the alleyway.

“That’s funny,” replied the Pantoran, “because you’re my mission.” She laughed.

Confusion met Leeadra’s comment before blossoming into pain. The Inquisitor cursed as she dropped her lightsaber and clutched at the gaping wound in her sternum. Blood flowed copiously as she attempted to stem the tide. She turned, wordlessly accusing her killer. Janos Stormwind stood behind her, his hands bloody and holding a knife.

The two Hunters had been aware of the Inquisitor before she had even laid eyes on Sanguinius, who had served as a lure to draw out the enemy agent. The Dakhani had been tasked by Marcus to track down the Inquisitor, relying on the large crowds to hide their presences.

Janos watched the woman die before him, pleased to have protected his fellow Sadowans. Leeadra came closer and clapped Janos on the shoulder, “You know, crime in this city is getting worse. The authorities really need to do something about it.” She quipped. Her fellow Hunter smiled and raised his eyebrows in return, “They really should.”

The two Dakhani got to work, removing all presence of their existence in the crime scene, ensuring that Naga Sadow would not be blamed for the death of the agent.

Shuttle C-103
In orbit over Aeotheran

The darkness was still there, threatening the light. Seeking to claw it to shreds and usher in another period of suffering and agony. It was always the same, Sanguinius mused. There was always someone who sought power, who hated, who felt the need to exterminate. Was it human nature to hate those different to you? But then, so many species in the galaxy hated others…no, it wasn’t human nature. It was the way of the galaxy, the unending war between Ashla and Bogan.

He sighed as his mind raced, the actions taken by Marcus to keep him safe from the Inquisitorius had been welcome, but their murders were blood on his conscience. They would not have died if not for his choice to act as a counterpoint to the darkness. He welcomed the chance to leave the Orian System, war and death were things the Jedi sought to avoid, yet he no longer had a choice, he could no longer hide. He could no longer force Naga Sadow to protect him…

No, it was his turn to make a sacrifice…


Communications Outpost
Agua’tah System
High Orbit

Dur’pa yawned and blinked at the view screen in front of him again. The Clawdite sighed. There was nothing. This was the most boring post imaginable in the Dominion. The elite of his Caste served as spies, infiltrators - even special forces. But Dur’pa? Dur’pa was a satellite technician. Here he was, on the edge of the Agua’tah system, watching for signs of invasion - as if anyone would attack them here!

Suddenly, a warning klaxon began pounding through the confined chambers of the outpost. Dur’pa’s eyes widened in surprise. He stared at his screen as a mechanical, emotionless voice vocally confirmed what he was seeing.

“Unidentified contacted detected…unidentified contact detected…unidentified contact detected…”

It kept going as the station’s sensors failed to register anything as something known or expected. Before he could make sense of it, there was a new alarm.

“What does that one mean, Dur?” one of the other techs asked, his voice strained.

Dur’pa looked at his screen, then back up.

“We’ve been boarded!”

As if to punctuate his remark, the main hatchway into their central hub exploded inward. Crimson alert beacons illuminated a large, hairy mass that filled the hatchway.

Dur’pa screamed as a roar filled his ears.

Khyron-class Star Destroyer Damnation
Agua’tah System

“Tarryyhn reports the comms station is neutralized,” Locke said, Simonetti standing nearby. “The enemy won’t be getting a distress signal out soon. You may begin your attack.”

“Agreed,” Admiral Simonetti answered, turning to the bridge crew.

As he began to shout orders, Locke walked to the back of the bridge and took a turbolift one level down. There, he entered an observation deck below the main bridge, walking to stand beside a large, comfortable looking chair that was pointed toward space outside.

Locke looked down the bow of the ship, out at the stars ahead, and the blue, ocean world of Agua’tah, barely broken here and there by islands, its’ skies pockmarked by voluminous white clouds that obscured much of the surface below.

“Are you ready?” Locke asked.

Malik Sadow was seated in the chair next to him. The Neti did not move. He merely closed his eyes. Locke felt a…stirring in the Force.

“Yes,” the Neti answered.

“Then please, begin.”

The Consul felt a twinge and heightened focus as Malik’s battle meditation began. That, combined with their lightning-fast surprise assault would ensure that the Dominion fleet was quickly defeated.

They had no chance.

Docking Bay
Khyron-class Star Destroyer Damnation
Agua’tah System

Everywhere he looked, Aul Celsus saw Warhost troops and other personnel rushing to a variety of shuttles. He carried his weapons and a medical satchel, having been instructed by his master to carry such equipment “just in case I actually get hurt.”

Darkblade himself was walking a few paces ahead of him, shouting orders and making sure the members of his House were ready for the more personal part of the assault on the Dominion. As soon as their fleet was retreating, the members of the Clan would launch their own attack.

The Quaestor’s voice abruptly quieted, and Aul knew the Anzati was talking to him. “We will crush the Dominion today,” he said, turning his head so Aul could see half of it. A wicked grin split that face. “And who knows? We might learn more about them, as well.”

That reminded Aul of one reason he was here, and he remembered.

They were on a balcony in Seng Karash, looking over the city. It was nighttime, and Sanguinius Entar stood beside him. The Proconsul was speaking. …“you and I both know that the Clan stands at a balance point between light and dark, between good and evil. If this is not carefully considered, we could go too far toward the darkness and slide into oblivion. It is a delicate act. Would you agree that we cannot abide unnecessary death?”

“Yes,” Aul answered. The destruction of life was a waste, much like losing knowledge forever. He told Sang as much.

The Proconsul laughed. "Indeed. In another age, the Krath might have appreciated your sentiment. This is why I need you. Listen very closely. Your master, Darkblade…is an unknown. I need you to watch him - just watch - and report back if he is causing any unnecessary death…

His flashback was ended by a new voice in the docking bay. This one was loud, over a speaker:

“The enemy fleet retreats into the skies of their world! Assault teams, prepare to disembark! Onward, for the Warhost and Sadow!”

Any further thought was lost in the cheering and heightened movement of those in the docking bay as they made final preparations for their attack.

Observation Deck
Khyron-class Star Destroyer Damnation
Agua’tah System

Locke could feel and see the Damnation’s turbolasers firing, massive sweeps of emerald energy arcing away from the ship below him . He watched as the heavy cruiser Retribution and the Victory star destroyer Covenant supported the larger flagship, a swarm of fighters from the Final Way covering them. The fleet’s interdictor followed the larger craft in, it’s gravity wells preventing the Dominion fleet from escaping. It was a gamble to take so much of the fleet away from their home system, but this was a gamble they had to take. There just weren’t enough other options.

As they suffered damage, the Dominion fleet slowly began retreating into Agua’tah’s upper atmosphere, closely protecting their flagship, ID’d as the Hammer of Cha’kota. Even at this distance, the Hammer was smoldering from damage. The Warhost’s tactical advisors had noted that the world’s large clouds would shroud the enemy craft and that bringing the fleet’s capital ships into that would likely trigger a trap. That was why the rest of this operation would need to be handled very delicately, and rely mostly on fighters and assault craft.

Upper Atmosphere

Rhaiz Corra deftly piloted his X-Wing around another towering pillar of clouds, staying near its edge, but outside of the cloud itself. There was something strange about the clouds of this world. They played with scanners and made it difficult to pick up the position of other craft. His squadron slowly rounded the massive cloud and leveled off, a large opening in the clouds beyond them.

He cursed quietly at the sight before him, then flipped on the fleet’s frequency.

“Command, this is Blue One. We’ve located the Hammer.”

Beyond them lay a star destroyer, billowing smoke from a gash in the neck of it’s command tower. Enemy fighters - mostly TIE models of varying quality - swarmed around it like gnats, and there were other, smaller corvettes nearby.

“We’re going to need a lot of back up. In the meantime, Blue Group, let’s clear a path for our assault craft.”

It was going to be a busy day.


New information has been obtained about the world of Agua’tah and will be transmitted to your datapad:

(For a plain text version, click here.)


Hammer of Cha’kota
Agua’tah Lower Orbit

The Captain hunkered down in her chair, ignoring the shudders that accompanied each blast that hit the Star Destroyer’s hull. The Dominion vessel had been surprised by the appearance of the Warhost, retreating quickly into the lower atmosphere of Agua’tah, followed by her escort cruisers.

The Warhost had taken up the challenge offered, chasing after the Hammer and pounding it. Other Warhost troops had invaded the skyhook, hunting one of her fellow Caste. Her original job here had been to transport the Vizier on an inspection tour of The Dominion’s outer worlds.

She had been in communication with the Vizier throughout the attack, keeping him apprised of the situation. A dagger of pure fear pierced her mind, as her fellow Iktotchi registered the existence of a being of great power on the skyhook.

The Grand Master, Darth Ashen, stalked the hallways, seeking the scholar, while others hunted for him. The power he felt drove the Vizier crazy with fear, seeking a way out of the situation. Their minds met, the functionary screaming in her mind.

She grimaced and flinched as his voice cried out in panic, begging her to save him. She could do nothing for the Vizier, her vessel’s shields were down, thanks to the relentless barrage of laser fire from the Warhost vessels. Fighters swooped around the capital ships, pinpointing mounted fire points and their enemy counterparts.

The Captain voiced back to her compatriot, condemning him to death, apologising for doing so. She turned to her Tactical Officer and ordered him to task a bomber group to target the skyhook and knock it out of orbit. The officer obliged, contacting and tasking the remnants of several bomber groups left fighting over Agua’tah. The Captain watched with mounting dread as the explosions blossomed across the surface of the skyhook, encouraging it to slowly plummet into the atmosphere, flames faintly flickering at the edges as it began to pick up speed.

“Captain!” Shouted the Tactical Officer, as another salvo of enemy fire blasted the hull of the Hammer, “We’ve lost our repulsorlift engines, we cannot keep orbit.” The Human panicked, just like the lesser races always did, the Iktotchi sneered in derision.

“Keep firing at the blasted Sith! At least we can take some of them with us!” The Captain ordered, standing up out of her seat. Her face was calm and determined, despite the setbacks. They may have lost, but at least the Sith aboard the Hammer of Cha’kota would die with them.

Agua’tah Orbit

Janos stumbled to the floor once again as the massive force of the bomb blasts shook him off his feet. The Proselyte had accompanied his Master, Macron, the mad alchemist, aboard the skyhook. Travelling with the Twi’lek and Wookiee duo, Tasha and Tarryyhn, the Cathar, Jade, and the Proconsul, Sanguinius. They had fought hard against Dominion forces to reach the dignitary seeking shelter.

“What the hell was that?” He shouted, as he picked himself up off the floor. He looked to his Master for the answer, ever the dutiful student.

“Who knows,” replied Macron, the Adept had weathered the shaking of the skyhook.

Sanguinius tapped the comlink attached to his ear, “Report.”

“Sir, the Dominion seem to have bombed their own skyhook, it’s going down.” Came the response.

The Proconsul called across to his colleagues, “We need to extract as soon as possible, we’re going down.”

They turned to face him, “What about the dignitary?” enquired Jade, the Daughter of Sadow had been an intriguing presence to the Jedi during his time spent with her.

“Well… okay, after we capture the dignitary.” Sanguinius sighed. He knew the Jedi of Naga Sadow too well for them to give up so easily. They all grinned back at him with glee as he shook his head in despair.

Command Chamber
Agua’tah Orbit

The Vizier - Dar’acat - breathed deeply as steam gushed from a nearby hose. His heart raced, his mind trying to keep up. The skyhook shuddered as another volley of torpedoes hit it.

What was Captain To’ka doing? He had asked for help and now she was trying to kill him?

As he thought about it, Dar realized what was going on. Ice gripped his veins. He reached out with the Force and sensed nearby, feeling the invaders on board the station. Death and destruction seemed to follow them. He felt the panic of the odd scholar, He-who-remembers, and the essence of a powerful dark force moving toward him. The other Iktotchi was panicking, as well he should be. Dar felt the same way.

Captain To’ka had decided to kill him, rather than leave him to the invaders. To her, it was probably a merciful death.

Was this how his ancestors felt when the Sith had come for them? Was he to suffer the same fate as they?

No, he would steel himself. He would not cower to these invaders. Dar’s hand dropped to one of the wood-carved lightsaber hilts at his waist. He was barricaded deep in the skyhook, surrounded by elite Dark Wardens - a gift from the Council themselves. These Trandoshan warriors were bred for war. Each was a small army in itself. Their bodies were tattooed from head to toe and everyone in the Dominion knew to avoid them.

He would take the invaders with him, at least.

The skyhook’s communications technician - a Clawdite - brought up view screens of the skyhook’s extremities. There was a Zabrak there, who seemed to be in a rush to join his friends. His actions - along with theirs - had decimated much of the defending force. But those were rabble compared to what stood beside him.

He sought an escape route, examining a grid map of the skyhook’s outer corridors. Many were blinking to indicate they were damaged or venting atmosphere, and more joined those at a startling rate. It was almost as if someone was closing a trap. Dar could almost feel the noose around his neck.

“Bring up grid G-11,” he said, proud of how calm his voice was. The technician brought up the relevant camera feed. They were just in time to see a figure stalk down the corridor, clad in black and a deep purple. He disappeared a second later, appearing to be completely alone.

Dar cursed in his native tongue. That must have been the one going for He-who-remembers. It seemed he wanted to make sure the scholar had no escape route, and that in turn meant no escape for the rest of them.

Very well, Dar thought. He turned to the Trandoshans and raised a fist over his head.

“We will stand to the last mark. For the Dominion!”

Shuttle B-392
Agua’tah Orbit

Marcus held onto the handle dangling down from the ceiling of the shuttle, the Mystic surrounded by five fireteams of special forces. Each fireteam was made up of four well trained veterans, equipped and trained to handle NFUs and FUs. The Spymaster was too cautious a man to let himself get killed easily.

He had stayed on the Damnation during the initial attack, watching over the assault. But with the Hammer battered and falling into the lower atmosphere, he had spotted his chance. Marcus intended to end the fight and bring back his clanmates, his shuttle accompanied by three others full of special forces troopers and the Jedi of Naga Sadow.

It looked like things were under control on the skyhook, but the star destroyer was out of control, and the massive vessel likely had an army on it.

His Consul and others were on there, probably about to wade into the thick of it. With the vessel’s repulsors failing, they only had limited time before it crashed into the world below.

He and the special forces would join the battle on the destroyer. They would help finish the mission, and they would bring their people out safely.

They would end this.

Then, perhaps, Locke would learn to trust his Rollmaster again.


Command Section
Hammer of Cha’kota
Agua’tah Surface

To’ka’s grip tightened on her command chair as she stared out of the star destroyer’s main view port. A huge crack crossed it from one corner to it’s opposite; left there by a starfighter’s glancing impact during the battle. Her gunners had kept it from impacting the bridge directly, and likely saved the lives of her and her bridge crew. That might all be for naught, now.

She knew that they watched her. The captain looked around, seeing the fear that she could sense in the air. The humans showed it the most. They were weak creatures - unfit for the Dominion - but they served a purpose, even if their very presence offended her senses.

When she spoke, her voice was quiet, but firm. The sounds of combat in the corridor outside punctuated her words. “Remember your vows. We will stand steadfast. Even now, the noble Arr’ka fights the invaders in the corridor outside. He stands valiantly, to the last breath.”

She would join him soon. Arr was her brother. While she had chosen the navy, he had found a different path in the government. They had embarked on this mission together. It should have been easy. It would have been an opportunity to catch up on their lives, to relax as much as an official and a naval officer could while on duty.

Then the Warhost had come. The descendants of the Sith had turned their vacation into a nightmare. Just as the Sith had brought suffering to the Iktotchi in the distant past, these followers of Naga Sadow did to them today.

She stood up slowly, running her fingers along the extended metallic hilt and rubberized grip of her lightsaber. She knew she must not show any agitation or impatience. The time would be soon.

“Prepare your weapons,” she said flatly. “Defend yourselves.”

A sending from her brother denoted the proper time. He felt he had worn down the invaders. Now it was her turn to attack, and his to rest. He was tired, but she would defend him as she always had.


She turned toward the blast door and waved her hand. It slid open, revealing her brother Arr and three others. Bodies littered the corridor - the bodies of her personnel, but none of the Warhost. Arr had his hands raised, short bursts of lightning arcing from them. He had always been so good with the lightning. It was said in their Caste that only anger flowed through Arr’s veins - excepting when his sister was around. An Anzati and a human were opposed to him, the Anzati deflecting the bulk of the lightning with his violet blade, the human assisting where he could…

Another being stood there; one of a familiar feeling in the Force. He was a Clawdite, but not one of theirs. He had come from outside. Couldn’t he see that these Shadows were a cruel evil that needed to be dealt with?

“Traitor,” someone growled. She could not say who. The Clawdite fired a blaster pistol into the newly-exposed bridge, killing one of the crew before they had a chance to do anything.

Baring her teeth, To’ka surged forward, igniting her lightsaber, emerald-hued blade springing to life. She deflected the next shot back at the Clawdite, causing him to take cover in a crossing corridor. Arr’ka backed into the bridge and allowed his sister to move up. She deflected the Anzati’s strikes and spun her lightsaber, igniting its opposite end as it arced toward the invader. He retreated several steps, narrowly avoiding the weapon. His companion - seemingly a novice - joined the fight, but seemed hesitant to face her double-bladed weapon.

Good. He would be easy prey. Then the Anzati would fall and the Clawdite would be next. She might yet escape this day.

I will not be an easy kill.

Sneering, she attacked again.

Engine Room
Hammer of Cha’kota
Agua’tah Surface

“How’s it coming, Bentre?” Locke asked. His voice seemed only slightly tensed, as if he was merely impatient. When Bentre glanced up, he caught the sight of lightsaber blades crashing against each other. He could feel repeated uses of the Force as well. Each one made it more difficult to concentrate. The Shadow could imagine one of those strikes impaling him from behind, but Locke would ensure that didn’t happen.

He hoped.

You’re going to fail, a voice told him. Stop this. Save yourself.

“No,” he muttered. “Not doing that.” Then, louder, he answered Locke, heat rising in his voice. “You try rewiring a capital ship hypermatter reactor power management relay while people are fighting around you!”

He all-but growled that last part, far more than he intended. The Shadow focused on his work, sweat beading on his forehead. He hadn’t expected his slicing ability to be tested under such duress.

To Locke’s credit, the Consul did not respond angrily. Instead, his voice was jovial - though tinged with hints of exhaustion.

“Wanna trade?” he asked.

“No,” Bentre said, voice slightly more calm. He did his best to control it.

“The quicker you get that done, the sooner me and old horns-for-brains can be done here.”

Locke referred to the Iktotchi assassin they had found after clearing the engine room of other threats. He was not some unstoppable juggernaut, but so far he had managed to keep the Consul busy. If someone else showed up, they were going to have a problem.

Almost there, Bentre thought. Just need to find the right…oh.

He typed a series of characters and selected the execute command. The ship rumbled, a loud, accelerating hum filled the chamber, as if a large starship was rapidly approaching them. It was invigorating how such a small thing as inputting a command could affect so much.

“I hope that was good,” Locke yelled, voice hoarse.

In answer, Bentre smiled and leaped up and rushed to Locke’s aid, making a show of beating the Iktotchi’s back. The alien was tired and an easy target. He had probably not expected Bentre to suddenly join the fight. The Shadow summoned the Force, willing it to his legs and other muscles. He knocked the Iktotchi’s lightsaber out of the way and shouldered into him with a yell, sending the enemy over a nearby railing.

“What’s down there?” Locke asked, panting as he stepped up beside Bentre.

“Coolant tanks,” the Shadow said. “We should have those fireworks you wanted soon.”

“Great,” Locke breathed. “Let’s get out of here before they come.”

Decaying Orbit
Agua’tah Atmosphere

The Sadowan host stared in bemusement at the former Grand Master. The veterans had experienced Muz’ power firsthand before, yet it was the first time for the newer members.

The Fallen Spear hovered nearby, matching the descent of the skyhook. Macron took the initiative, ushering his student Janos and the Cathar, Jade, forward. “Our mission has been completed, thanks for the offer, Ashen.” The Adept grinned and raised a hand in thanks.

Tarryyhn knelt nearby, with his Quaestor watching over him with concern as the stubborn Wookiee suffered from his wounds. Sanguinius nodded in agreement with Macron. “I agree, let’s use this opportunity to get out of here while we can.”

The Sadowans took the opportunity to move through the corridors, as fire licked at the edges of the skyhook. The Fallen Spear manoeuvred itself, following the Jedi and Sith as they made their way to the nearest extraction point.

Explosions began to erupt across the skyhook as critical systems failed under the heat and pressure of an uncontrolled re-entry. Tarryyhn and Tasha trailed at the back of the group, as the Quaestor supported her Aedile.

Sanguinius turned to face the pair, seeing their plight and going to their aid as an explosive spout of fire drove him backwards, separating the group. “Tasha!”, he shouted as the fire grew into a wall that prevented the Twi’lek and Wookiee from proceeding towards the exit.

“Don’t worry about us, we’ll make our way to the escape pods.” Tasha replied as Macron grabbed Sanguinius and dragged him towards the waiting Fallen Spear.

Tasha was surprised as Tarryyhn stopped leaning on her and rose to his full height. The Aedile picked her up and threw her over his shoulder as he drew upon his last vestiges of strength.

Command Section
Hammer of Cha’kota
Agua’tah Surface

Darkblade all but ignored the harrowing sound as the star destroyer began to rumble. It was a distant thing, small compared to the threat of the lightsaber spinning in front of him. This Iktotchi was much more in-your-face than the other, possessing a deadly grace that had nearly ended his life on more than one occasion. It was all he could do to hold her off; her double-bladed lightsaber spinning in unfamiliar forms. She was good - perhaps too good.

In his periphery, Aul and Aexod dealt with the bridge crew, trading fire back and forth. Once, the Iktotchi Captain leaped far wide to avoid a thermal detonator Aexod had rolled into the mix. Darkblade had seen it coming; had nodded at Aexod’s signal, but the Captain was fast. She had only briefly been on the defensive as a result.

He did not think he could beat her as they were. And if that other one got back in the fight, he would be quickly overwhelmed.

The Krath grit his teeth, grinding them together. He would not let that happen. He sensed other beings nearby, but who were they? Were they coming to help, or would they make this situation worse?

It wouldn’t matter. He had decided he would not fail in front of his subordinates. He would defeat these Iktotchi, and at least one of them would be his prisoner. Then he would have the knowledge he sought.

Stubbornly refusing to show weakness, the Krath Quaestor steeled himself. He summoned the Force, the dark side coming to his aid. He enveloped the Iktotchi woman in it, as if sweeping the light out of the air. It spread to a large part of the bridge, beyond the limits of the bridge catwalk they dueled on.

A Force user could sense, true, but would she think of the catwalk at her feet? There were so many variables to consider. He had to make sure her focus was on him and not on her footing.

“I will put you in a cell like this, very soon,” he said, voice ice. “You will tell me everything of the Dominion. Everything!” he snapped the last part, lightsaber prepared to parry. He walked around the side of the catwalk, beyond the crew pit that separated him from it.

“You will suffer as you have made others suffer. You will know pain as your ancestors did. This will be all that you see for the rest of your miserable life.”

Absentmindedly, he cut down a human member of the bridge crew, eyes never leaving the cloud of blackness he had made with the dark side. He wondered why the Iktotchi had not left it. Was she being cautious? Was she studying him? Let her study. Let her judge him. As long as her focus was on him.

“Then,” he finished, making his voice loud to be heard over the din of battle. “I will come for your family.”

“No!” came the snarling reply. The Iktotchi Captain barreled out of the cloud as Darkblade was forced to let it dissipate. The Captain’s feet found air and she slammed into the crew pit with an audible grunt.

Good, Darkblade thought, eyes slightly widened. He had not expected such a strong response at the mention of family.

“Reinforcements!” Aul shouted.

A squad of Warhost troops arrived, their insignias denoting them as elite special forces. At their head was an older, frail-seeming man. He had a white band tied around where his eyes should have been, but Darkblade sensed the Force in him.

Miraluka? Darkblade wondered. He could hear his opponent getting to her feet. She would soon attack again.

The Miraluka spoke quickly. “Call me Methyas. These troops were sent by Marcus, I believe - which is good, because every Dominion trooper in the vicinity is converging on this location. They’ll help hold those off, but it looks like I may be able to give you a hand.”

A crippled old…Jedi? Darkblade wondered.

“Fine,” he said. He did not really want to work with the Jedi, but realized that having his help was better than not having it.

Methyas gave him an oddly knowing smile. The older man raised a hand, a discarded blaster rising in the air with it. At first, Darkblade thought the Miraluka intended to use it, but instead he hurled it with the Force, causing the Captain to duck as she approached.

“Didn’t I tell you how things would go?” Darkblade said, turning to her, his voice ice. This time, he went on the offensive. She had clearly been disoriented by her earlier fall. He would have her soon, now.

Behind him, he could hear the thud and crashing sounds of objects hitting walls, the sparking, technologic crackle as consoles were destroyed. The newcomer’s chosen tactic seemed to be throwing objects at his enemies.

Darkblade put that out of his mind. He had the Captain on the defensive now, but would likely need to make the best use of his assets to secure her.

He intended to make good on his words.

To’ka did her best to defend against the oncoming Dark Jedi. Her sides ached where she had landed awkwardly on a console in the crew pit, her head throbbed with a headache that would not go away. She had let herself be tricked by this Anzati, but it would not happen again. She promised herself that. She loved her brother, but this Anzati was a fool and a follower of the Sith. He was evil incarnate and would say anything to throw her off. She knew that.

In the distance, she caught glimpses of her brother fighting another of the invaders. Arr’ka tried lightning, but the man blocked it with an invisible barrier and retorted by hurling discarded debris at the other Iktotchi. He did not even use a lightsaber, though To’ka could see he wore at least one. It seemed Arr had finally met one like himself, finally had the saber-less challenge he had always dreamed of. Others surrounded them. The bridge crew was dead. Warhost troops guarded against additional reinforcements.

Slowly, as she parried the Anzati’s attacks, the reality dawned on her.

They had lost. Arr was too far away. His movements were growing sluggish. She was injured and could not overcome this Anzati.

Arr’ka is going to die.

But that didn’t mean she had to. He would not want her to die for the sake of them dying together. He would want her to escape, if she could. She would find a way. Then she would report back to the Dominion and tell the council everything she had learned. Arr would not die in vain.

To’ka’s movements took her up against the cracked transparisteel she had so recently gazed out of. Long rays of light lay across the floor, disrupted by her and her opponent’s movements. Long shadows danced on the walls beyond them, as if giant fantastical monsters fought here instead of opposing Force adepts. The system’s primary star set in the distance, dusk coming to Agua’tah.

She spun her lightsaber, deflected another strike, and struck the transparisteel with her other blade. She hit it again and again as they fought, until a large portion of it collapsed. To’ka did not truly know what she was doing. It was madness, to be sure. If she stepped out, she would probably fall hundreds of meters. How would she escape?

There was no choice. It was jump and take her chances, or die. Or worse; she could not let herself be captured. To’ka jumped, her mind focused on sending Arr her final regards.

Farewell, brother.

Darkblade growled as the Iktotchi leaped off the star destroyer’s bridge. He watched her fall; watched until she disappeared out of sight below.

Coward. She had killed herself, rather than risk capture. He was angry, but could not truly decide if he would not take a similar risk in her shoes.

He turned back to the bridge. Methyas had finished with the other Iktotchi, who lay on the ground, bleeding from his head. It seemed that the Miraluka did not want to kill him. That would serve them well.

“We should leave,” Methyas said. “That hum is the ship’s main reactor overloading.”

Darkblade could feel it now. The rumble was intensifying. Blasters and everything else that was not bolted down clattered around them. “We came in through the hangar. It’s too far away.”

“We’ll have to call for help,” Methyas answered.

“You do that.” Darkblade turned to the others. “Aul, Aexod, we need to bring this Iktotchi with us, but do not mention him to anyone. We do not want to worry about spies in our midst.”

He did not know if they would listen, but it would have to do. If he could keep this Iktotchi a secret, he could have all the time he wanted to learn the Dominion leader’s secrets.

“As far as the Warhost is concerned, he died before we could reach him.”

Methyas made a sound, as if about to say something. After a long moment, he shrugged and fished out his comlink.

That’s right, old man. This is none of your business.

Decaying Orbit
Agua’tah Atmosphere

Muz, Macron, Jade, Janos and Sanguinius sprinted down the corridor towards the waiting Fallen Spear. The Sadowans had been forced to abandon two of their own. It sat poorly with Sanguinius that he had been forced to leave Tasha and Tarryyhn behind, but he trusted in his old Black Guard to escape with the giant bear.

They followed the former Grand Master through the skyhook, his wrist mounted tracker guiding him towards the waiting shuttle. Muz focused on his prize, the Iktotchi he had captured. The scholar floated alongside the Kyataran, as Macron followed close behind. The Alchemist had enjoyed the competition he had had with his former apprentice, Jade. She had won, allowing her access to one of his labs for a week. He wasn’t sure if she had won it legitimately, but Macron was amused at her guile and confidence. Janos, his new apprentice, had also proven himself well during the assault on the skyhook.

The Fallen Spear finally connected to a decompression chamber, allowing the Sadowans access. Muz marched up into his personal ship and unceremoniously deposited his prisoner on the floor. “We’re aboard, let’s get out of here.”

Sanguinius frowned as he crossed over the threshold of the ship. He was the last one aboard, the door shutting behind him. He had always seen Darth Ashen as an enigma, a being of unimaginable power. To be around him like this took away a lot of the mystery. Yet, he still respected the Krath and his strength.

The Sentinel watched the skyhook recede as the shuttle accelerated away from it. He hoped that he would see Tasha and Tarryyhn once again on the Damnation.

Decaying Orbit
Agua’tah Atmosphere

Several hell-raising minutes had passed as the pair had made their way through the skyhook back towards a bank of escape pods. Only one remained, as the others had either been used by Dominion troops or malfunctioned and misfired.

“Five minutes until this place burns up for good. I can get what we need in less time—” Tasha tried to explain to her wounded Aedile. He sat calmly against the wall, blood trickling from a half dozen puncture wounds and with each breath blood speckled his fur. He growled softly and stared at her. “—no I won’t go.” She finished before turning away from him to go back to the console that operated the escape pods.

Before her fingers struck the keys a heavy hand lifted her from her position and carried her across the room towards one of the escape pods.

She looked tilted her head, seeing what her Aedile had just noticed. A group of Trandoshans entered the chamber. They attacked the pair, blaster fire filling the tight corridor. Tasha would have been cut down immediately if Tarryyhn had not shielded her with his large body. He howled with rage.

“Put me down, Tarry," she said indignantly, before softening her voice. "As your Quaestor, I’m asking you to put me down. I’ll help…” She attempted to wriggle free but the Wookiee’s strength was at this moment far in excess of her own, even as the Trandoshans attacked him. She watched as his heavy hand smacked into the pod’s control panel and the door slid open. The next thing she knew she was thrown inside and as she came to a halt she turned to watch her Aedile close the door behind her. He ignored the Trandoshans, who slowly approached their prey.

“Tarryyhn, what are you doing? Tarry, stop kidding now, get aboard.” She hammered a fist against the pod’s sealed door but the door refused to open.

She watched as her Aedile, her big brother and friend, placed a bloody hand against the window before hitting the eject button. The pod rocked momentarily before being launched into the atmosphere. Shaking hard as it attempted to compensate for the skyhook’s new position, it heated up quickly, but the dampening shields kicked in and Tasha watched as she soared away from the platform.

Tarryyhn slumped against the wall. His breathing ragged and with each new intake of air he felt things becoming more difficult. He turned to look up at the Trandoshans, whose triumph was short-lived. The Wookiee growled at them, the growl turning into a chuckle that hurt with every breath. The heat had risen to ridiculous levels and as he came to rest he reached over and activated his communicator, opening a channel to Tasha and at the same time an open channel to the Clan’s forces.

“Remember, Tasha. Always take a challenge and never give up.” He began in Shyriiwook. A couple of confused voices asked what was being said, Sanguinius amongst them. The Trandoshans began to panic, distracted by their own fate.

“Life is what you make it. Live happy and free.” Tasha began to translate out loud as small tear drops appeared in the corner of her eyes.

“Tasha, what is he saying?” Sanguinius’ voice cut through to her and she choked back a sob as she began repeating his words.

“There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Force.” By the time she had finished the voices of Sanguinius and Malik had joined in with the code of the Jedi. They watched as the skyhook hit the maximum temperature it could handle and began to disintegrate as it fell further.

“Goodbye Tarryyhn.” She managed to mutter.

“Goodbye my friends.” Came the simple response before the skyhook’s core finally gave in and an explosion rippled through the platform and lights filled the sky.

Skies Over Agua’tah
Near Crash Site

Qyreia Arronen listened to the distress call, then listened to it again just to be sure. It was hard to understand with all the static in the air. She pointed the nose of the VT-49 Decimator toward the star destroyer crashed below and received a flurry of turbolaser fire in her direction for it.

The ship was definitely still operational.

She cursed loudly, making a colorful statement about banthas and falling meteors that was lost on the otherwise empty light transport.

This transport basically was a falling meteor. It was maneuverable, yes, but nowhere near as good as a fighter. Still, a fighter wouldn’t be able to carry anyone else, and she had the fun task of rescuing people.

For a moment she considered whether it was really worth it to rescue her Quaestor. When it came down to things, he made sure she got a paycheck, and that might cease if he died.

Plus, she decided, it just wouldn’t be right. Even if he was partially responsible for landing her the job of “escape vector,” which was currently running her the risk of being reduced to slag.

She plunged the transport toward the star destroyer, letting gravity and it’s engines combine to push it into a steep dive. It wasn’t safe; alarms screamed at her. The ship might not have been able to pull out of it safely, but it was the only way she was going to get close to the star destroyer without being blown apart.

As she neared it, she pulled up on the throttle, nearly scraping against the massive ship’s surface. She flipped the comlink on speaker as she searched for any sign of life.

An old man’s voice crackled through the comlink, the same one who had made the distress call. She had no idea who he was, but he had this odd calmness for someone on a crashed enemy warship. “We’re on the command pylon. Look for the flare. I came in through an opening earlier, we’ll be there.”

“One opening on this giant kriffin’ spaceship?” she muttered.

“What?” the voice asked.

“Nothing!” she yelled, punctuating her words by rolling the transport to port and banking away from the star destroyer so she could look up over more if it’s superstructure. Half a dozen defense turrets noticed her and began firing in her direction, but she rolled and arced to avoid them. At this range, their gunners would have had to be among the best of their class to have a chance to hit her.

“How am I going to find - oh, there.”

She saw the flare then, smoke billowing from a blackened section of the hull, and several figures standing just inside it. She piloted the transport toward it, perhaps a little too quickly to avoid the laser fire filling the sky around the destroyer. The transport scraped the twisted, exposed structure of the destroyer as it descended.

Qyreia deftly lowered the transport onto the blackened hull section, wincing as it buckled beneath the ship, as if it was going to collapse under the weight. Fortunately, it held for the moment. She stood as soon as it was in place, running to the boarding ramp.

As soon as it opened, she shouted down it.

“Hurry up or you’re staying here! This thing isn’t going to hold!”

The Sadowans wasted no time in rushing onto the ship.

Auxiliary Hangar
Hammer of Cha’kota
Agua’Tah Surface

Firith settled himself into the ventral gun turret on the transport he had commandeered. Bentre was inside this ship somewhere and he would be coming soon. Furthermore, judging by the yelling over the comlink, he was being chased by several enemy troops.

The ship also rumbled loudly. It had made landing the transport very difficult. He could hear metal grinding on metal as its landing struts slid slightly. That seemed pretty bad, but he wasn’t about to leave without his allies.

He didn’t have much experience with this type of weapon, but it couldn’t be that hard. Just point and shoot, I assume.

Bentre and Locke appeared in the hangar a few moments later. As they neared the transport, Firith depressed the turret’s trigger and fired a constant stream of blaster bolts into the corridor they had exited. Many went wide, but just as many struck enemy troops and brought them down, Kaleesh and Trandoshan corpses piling at the entrance to the hangar.

Then a new group of enemies rushed out of a side passage and cut off the group, and not even the best gunner in the galaxy could have helped the two alone.

Marcus rushed down corridor after corridor, heading for the hangar he suspected Locke and Bentre would use to escape. He hoped it was the right one. Three squads of special forces troops followed him. They encountered little resistance here, deep in the ship, but what they did find quickly fell to their weapons. The Krath’s violet blade led them onward, ignited and ready for battle.

I will find you, Locke. I will gain your trust again.

He scowled with determination. He would rescue the Consul and regain his trust. He hoped Firith’rar had taken the transport where Marcus had said, or they would all be dead.

Then they turned a corner and the sounds of battle filled his ears, a chaotic scene unfolding in front of the group. The transport was in the middle of it, right where it was supposed to be.

A large group of enemy troops were divided, some targeting the transport, while others shot toward a stack of crates. The transport returned fire, as did someone from behind the crates, but the Trandoshan and Kaleesh forces kept them pinned. Marcus reached out with his senses, feeling in the Force.

They’re here. They’re all here.

“Quickly!” He shouted “for the Warhost!” The special forces spread out. They caught the enemy troops in their flanks, quickly cutting them down. Marcus charged into their number headlong, lightsaber cutting into their backs. The battle lasted only a few moments before the transport was lowering its boarding ramp.

“About time,” Locke said sarcastically.

“Just wanted to let you sweat a bit,” Marcus replied.

The Consul chuckled as they hurried toward the transport.

Firith heard the large group rush up the boarding ramp, but he kept watching to see if any more enemies arrived. Someone was powering up the transport’s engines and it began to lift off.

“Good work!” Bentre shouted. Firith looked up to see the other man taking a position at the dorsal turret. Then Locke’s voice came over the ship’s com channels and into the headset Firith wore.

“This is going to get bumpy. I hope you all don’t get space sick easily.”

A new wave of Dominion troops entered the hangar and Firith immediately began trading fire with them. The transport began to spark and fizzle as the enemy troops set up an e-web turret.

Then the ship rocketed out of the hangar, the inertial compensator failing to keep up with the movement. Even strapped in as Firith was, it was a wild, bumpy ride. The e-web fired after them, it’s shots mostly missing.

He really hoped Locke knew what he was doing.

Skies Over Agua’tah
Near Crash Site

Quo’s starfighter groaned as he dodged another burst of incoming fire. He pulled back in a loop, cut his speed, and found his pursuer in his crosshairs. Instinctively, the Sith pulled the trigger, blasting the enemy fighter out of the sky. He breathed deeply. That one had nearly had him. His shields were out; his warheads expended. He was amazed the craft even still flew.

Regardless, he searched for new targets immediately. The Warhost did not have many fighters left in the area, having dedicated most of their force to engaging what was left of the Dominion’s fleet. He saw three enemy interceptors, but they weren’t coming toward him.

The Knight frowned. He hadn’t had allies for the enemy to target in quite some time. Then he saw it: a transport, leaving the lower part of the star destroyer.

Then there was the crackle on his comlink.

“Locke to any nearby fighters, we need immediate air support!”

Locke. The Consul. Was he on that ship? Quo quickly launched himself in pursuit of the enemy fighters. A series of laser fire came from the turrets on the transport, but they mostly shot wide, only managing to destroy one of the fighters.

The other two dodged, but were completely open to Quo’s targeting. He fired on one, quickly destroying it. As it erupted in a fireball, the other scored a direct hit on the transport, which lurched, but continued to fire back.

It took Quo only another moment to eliminate the final one.

Then brightness filled his cockpit. He looked up at the star destroyer’s surface, seeing explosions rip it apart in numerous locations.’

Seeing that the transport was clear, he made all haste to get away from it himself.



Admiral Simonetti watched from the Damnation as the Hammer of Cha’kota exploded. The clouds had parted so that even this high in the atmosphere the explosion could be clearly seen, lighting up the long hours of dusk like a second sun. The resulting tsunami would likely decimate the surrounding islands, and a crater may even be visible in the future.

It was one mark of Naga Sadow’s success here.

Elsewhere in the atmosphere, shards of the skyhook were slowly falling through the air, trailing bits of burning hot superstructure that had broken off and glowed like faint embers as Agua’tah’s star faded from view . Targeted by the Dominion when they realized they had lost, it had never stood a chance once bombers had begun attacking it. It had suffered it’s own explosion, too. Now, it would slowly burn away in numerous pieces, suffering a more prolonged version of the star destroyer’s fate.

Elsewhere in the system, the Warhost regrouped. There were a few enemy stragglers; a couple of corvettes unaccounted for among the clouds, a few starfighters here and there, but for the most part, the battle for control of Agua’tah’s skies was over.

The world did not have much surface area, but that would be handled soon. Even now, the Absolution was enroute, the Acclamator’s large complement of soldiers and equipment preparing to assault the largest of the world’s islands, the only one known to have a significant enemy presence. There were other settlements and cities, even a tentative local government, but they were not the Dominion, and so the clan mostly ignored them - for now.

Everyone had made it off the station and star destroyer - well, almost everyone. Marka Ragnos’ Aedile, the Wookiee Tarryyhn had not survived, having remained behind so his fellows could escape.

At least it had been a heroic death. Still, Simonetti knew Locke would not take it well. He never did when one of his own died.

All in all, the campaign had been a success. The Dominion was likely to take time to lick their wounds and consider what went wrong. They were still a dangerous foe. This was but one world, and all reports indicated this Dominion had something of a small empire in the making. But now they knew that Naga Sadow would not be an easy opponent, and that they should carefully consider their next move.

No, Simonetti was sure they had earned a time of quiet before their next engagement with the Dominion, but only time would tell how long that lasted. Their new enemy had lost this battle, but the war was far from over…



  • Muz captured his target and used The Fallen Spear to escape the skyhook alongside Macron, Sanguinius, Janos Breaker and Jade.
  • Tasha and Tarryyhn get separated from the group on the skyhook and make their own escape. They get attacked by Trandoshans. Tarryyhn, injured during the assault, sacrifices himself to save Tasha. Tarryyhn dies in the ensuing inferno as the skyhook tears itself apart.
  • Darkblade, Aul & Aexod fight the captain of the Hammer of Cha’kota, however she escapes.
  • Darkblade & Methyas capture the captain’s brother, Arr’ka, his capture has been kept secret from Locke, Sanguinius and Marcus.
  • Bentre & Locke set off a chain reaction that sees the Hammer of Cha’kota explode, causing a tsunami that damaged nearby islands and left a crater in the shallow seas of Agua’tah.
  • Qyreia swoops in to rescue Darkblade, Methyas, Aul, Aexod and the Warhost soldiers.
  • Firith shoots loads of “bad guys”.
  • Marcus rescues Locke and Bentre from the Hammer.
  • Quo provides fighter cover, protecting the shuttle that Locke, Bentre, Firith and Marcus were on.
  • Admiral Simonetti reminisces about the assault on Agua’tah.

Depths of The Empiricalum

Darkblade placed the scalpel back on the tray, the blade covered in blood. The Anzat had captured one of the Dominion leaders on Agua’tah and had kept his presence secret from Locke and Sanguinius.

Arr’ka sagged against the chains holding him up, breathing heavily as blood seeped from several cuts across his body. “You have no idea what you have brought upon your ilk, Sith.” the Itkotchi uttered.

“Bold words, for one in your position,” Darkblade watched the captive. “I’d be more worried about your continued existence if I were you,” his silky voice full of contempt.

The Itkotchi coughed up some blood, “My life was given freely for my sister.” Arr’ka glanced up at the Quaestor to meet his gaze.

Darkblade sneered at his defiance and backhanded the prisoner. The Itkotchi reeled from the blow. “I’m only interested in answers to my questions, not your empty words.”

The Anzat picked up another tool from the tray, “Perhaps we should continue to loosen your tongue.” Darkblade grinned in glee as the blade pierced Arr’ka’s skin and drew cries of pain.

Temple of Sadow

Locke and Sanguinius stood in the middle of the room, discussing the matter that had had them summon two of their Equites. As if right on time, the enormous doors opened as both Clan Summit members turned to see Armad walk through the doors.

“DarkHawk with you?” asked Sanguinius.

“Didn’t know he was supposed to be. I just heard about the summons a short time ago,” Armad told his Proconsul as he came to stand before him and the Consul.

The Consul turned away and placed a finger to his comm. “He was at the spaceport and will be here momentarily,” Locke announced.

Sanguinius had just started briefing Armad on their mission when DarkHawk rushed in and bowed to higher ups. “Now that we are all here. What say we get on with the briefing?”

The two Equites stood there and listened as they were told of an “outbreak” on Aeotheran. “Our intel say civilians are rioting in Kel Rasha, this is highly out of the ordinary as they are normally a peaceful people. We need the two of you to investigate the situation. Inform us of any intel you find,” Locke instructed.

“No killing, this is purely a recon mission,” Sang firmly instructed. Darkhawk looked deflated at that fact. “You know as much as we do at the moment - that is why we are sending you, whatever you find is top priority. Get it to us as you uncover this mystery.” the Proconsul stated.

As both the Equites left the room, Locke and Sang looked almost puzzled, “Do you think they will succeed?” asked Locke. “I don’t think those two know how to fail,” Sang countered.

Alabaster Square
Kel Rasha

“Tell me again why we are here?” Armad intoned. It had been bad enough that they had to land so far outside Kel Rasha, but now they’d been relegated to walking a vast majority of the time. At least DarkHawk had the foresight to have speederbikes aboard his “borrowed” VT-49 Decimator that he utilised quite a bit. Now that they had completed their ‘inspection’ of the outlying areas, they were in the more residential and smaller business zones, so they had to walk. He knew the answer to his question, as he’d already asked several times, now he was doing it just to see if he could get on DarkHawk’s nerves.

“We are simply to investigate. Those are our marching orders,” replied the Warrior in a cold dead tone. “Oh, and no killing.” he reiterated. The Battlemaster just looked at his partner, smiling. “Dang, and I really wanted to,” Armad said sarcastically.

They could tell something was wrong as they neared the Alabaster Square. DarkHawk could see that the people in the square were behaving like the rest of the people that they’d already come across, while Armad was getting nothing through the Force concerning anyone or anything within that square. Both of them stopped at the edge of Alabaster Square, they knew then that they had found what they’d been sent to investigate.

“Get as close as you can, but do not engage. That is not what we are here for,” Armad tasked his companion. “I’ll garner what I can from the Force about is going on,” Armad stated.

“It seems that we have found what we were looking for. Something here does not seem right,” DarkHawk said. The black clad figure silently split from his teammate and covertly made his way around the edge of the Square. The crowds were agitated, noisy and combative. A scuffle here and there as small groups civilians collided with each other and others threw rocks and bottles at shops. Yet, there were people watching the fights and others running away looking for the local law enforcers who were cracking down on the rioters. DarkHawk maneuvered himself through what shadows he could find. He stopped at the entrance to a small alleyway that would serve as his staging point to move in and out of the crowd. As he moved closer to the crowds, a very unfamiliar feeling of nothingness hit the Sith like a ton of bricks. His vision blurred, the world spun around him, causing DarkHawk to reach out for the adjacent alley wall to regain his composure before he collapsed.

Armad had made his way around the Square the opposite direction from his counterpart, and had made his way up on top of a building that gave him a good view of the area and DarkHawk. He watched as DarkHawk leaned up against the building and struggled to compose himself. When Armad reached out to the Force to obtain answers and felt a vastness of nothingness, he opened his commlink and hailed DarkHawk. “DarkHawk? You alright?” he asked as DarkHawk struggled to move further into the alley.

“Armad, stay where you are. Seems if I get too close, the Force is negated around them.” explained DarkHawk.

“What?” questioned Armad. “The Force has gone?” he asked.

“Yes, the closer I got to the crowd, the more I could feel it leaving my body,” replied DarkHawk. The Warrior was so used to the Force being there that the lack of it caused him mild nausea.

Armad scanned the crowd of “infected” that was still slowly wandering the square with no real purpose. He continued to think and knew he did not like what he was coming up with “DarkHawk, you’re not going to like this, but I need you try a small Force push on one of them,” he instructed. There was a small pause, then DarkHawk replied, “I guess I’ll humour your inane request.”

DarkHawk took a couple of deep breaths, then made his way down the alley and into the square. He extended his arm and reached out to the Force and tried to muster a small Force push on the crowd. Nothing.He continued to try and the same result sustained his attempts. Nothing…

Armad watched in disbelief as DarkHawk made his attempts. Armad gave the order to fall back and the young Sith staggered back into the alley. They needed to get this information back to their Summit.

Seng Karash
Several hours later

“Come on… come on…” Aul muttered quietly to himself, a bead of sweat running down his forehead. His gloved hands shaking slightly as the needle on his syringe closed in on its target - the medial canthus of a barely-restrained man in his early twenties.

“I’ll end you, frak face!” threatened the young man, his bloodshot eyes narrowing in spite of the retractors held in place by Mystic Celsus’ research assistant.

The two Warhost troopers accompanying Aul and his research assistant shot a glance at the young man and then back to each other. “Looks like the lad has got an eye for needles,” joked one of the troopers, which elicited a groan from the other.

“Hold him steady, or this retro-orbital bleed could turn him into a pincushion!” Aul shot at his assistant, who quickly braced his hold and bared down on the subject. Pulling in a short breath, the Sadowan scientist pressed the tip of the syringe into the taut membrane at the inner junction of the eye, punctured the capillary bed resting behind the eye and pulled back a few milliliters of blood. He retracted the syringe and stepped back from the man, who took the opportunity to push the assistant to the ground and ran off down the road.

“Eat a wamp rat!” came the insult as he turned a corner and disappeared behind a building at the end of the district.

“Charming. Let’s get this back to the Empiricalum as soon as possible,” Aul instructed as he passed the syringe over and watched as his assistant placed the sample into a chilled secondary container.

“Why didn’t we just knock him out? Or take the blood from anywhere else? All due respect, sir, but I don’t understand why that had to be so difficult,” inquired the young scientist in training.

“It’s a fair question, and unfortunately my only answer is that it was a gut feeling. Do you see the behavioral observations in the field reports that DarkHawk and Armad submitted? These patients are exhibiting widespread delirium and increased aggression. If whatever is causing this is pooling in the capillaries near the brain it could explain the behavior,” Celsus explained.

Oddly, and terrifyingly, I agree that my Force connection was suddenly muted, too, he thought to himself. He eyed the container holding the sample with a feeling of dread.

The troopers rolled their eyes at each other due to the medical jargon, the pair were more interested in finding out the scores of that day’s huttball matches than listening to something about caterpillars.

The Empiricalum
HiCon Lab
Some time later in the day

Aul carefully dried his sample on a copper grid and with a pair of fine forceps floated it on a droplet of lead citrate. He was preparing the sample for analysis by electron microscopy because, unlike many of his colleagues in graduate school who believe in fancier techniques, Aul was a fan on good-old-fashioned seeing whatever it was you cared about with your own eyes.

Another of Aul’s research staff entered the HiCon lab, the pressurized door closing behind her. She briskly walked over to the Mystic’s workspace and stood at attention, waiting for his focus to be free.

Aul’s timer went off and he quickly moved the grid into its container and slid it shut. He placed the box of grids into his lab coat pocket, stood up and turned to Sera, his most trusted staff scientist. His breath fogged his face mask slightly.


“Sir, the tox results came back negative. No heavy metals. No endotoxins. No sign of immune response or blood panel imbalances. Chemically, the blood was pristine,” Sera reported with a muffled voice through her own respirator mask. “There is no reason for the civilians to be acting this way according to the tox screen.”

“Fascinating. Come, let’s hit the scope.”

The Empiricalum
MolBio Lab

The electron microscope hummed as its vacuum pulled down on the sample and the electron beam whirred to life. Aul focused the sample on the neon green phosphor imaging screen and scrolled around looking for any peculiarities.

“What in the blazes?”

Aul rolled his chair over to the computer and furiously typed out a series of commands. The microscope responded by pushing and pulling a series of gears, apertures and filters to send the electron beam into a camera instead of the imaging screen. As the image appeared on the screen for Aul and Sera to examine, the woman audibly gasped.

“That can’t be real, can it?!” Sera exclaimed with a tone of desperation and fear. Her face went even paler than it usually was and she looked like she had just stared Death in the face.

“It has to be,” Aul replied, his voice low and empty.

The screen showed what appeared to be a virus more complex than had ever been reported in the scientific record, with distinctly mechanical features suggesting higher order functioning and a crystalline shell that had no indications of organic origin. It was an oddly semi-organic amalgam of nature and evil and despite the sample being held in a vacuum chamber, coated with electron-dense materials and embedded into a resin… it was moving.

“It has directed motility!” Sera blurted out, pointing at the screen with a trembling finger.

“We need to talk to the Summit. Now.” Aul bolted out of his chair and grabbed the sample. This meant a serious problem for Aeotheran, the sample should have been completely dried out. Movement should be impossible.

Depths of the Empiricalum

Darkblade threw down the blade in disgust, having failed to get Arr’ka to talk. The Iktotchi’s resistance was infuriating. He left the room, seething in frustration.

Arr’ka had never been strong in the Force, but his dedication to The Dominion and his sister, To’ka was without equal. He had sacrificed himself in order to enable his sister to escape and warn The Dominion of just how powerful the Sith they faced were.

The Ikotchi had suffered Darkblade’s predations; the torture had threatened to drive him insane, yet Arr’ka endured. The warrior chuckled to himself as he thought about what he had undergone, knowing it had not been for naught. The Sith had taken a timebomb into their midst, the virus tool that The Dominion used to control their vassals and subordinates had been released. Every prison had a weakness: the ventilation system.

The chuckle turned into uncontrolled laughter that filled the cell and the surrounding corridors. Laughter that promised retribution for Arr’ka and the Dominion.


Aeotheran surface
The Empiricalum
High Containment Lab

“No, no no, this absolutely won’t work!” Aul Celsus shouted as he slammed down his pipette, the body of the handheld tool shattering and sending the barrel flying off down the aisle of benches. Sweat was dripping down the Mystic’s forehead, exasperation drawn across his face. He was a top-class scientist, experienced in just about every method of molecular biology from one side of the galaxy to the other but he was stumped.

The virus had spread with astonishing speed. The populace was ravaged with the disease, and social stability was completely unended. The military quarantine was, to the absolute dismay of social activists in the population, a clear necessity. They, too, eventually succumbed to the disease of course and so their outcries were not heard for long.

Aul Celsus, among the chief scientists of the Empiricalum, was one of the few left who pleaded against just levelling the population centers and starting over, against the wishes of some of the more hawkish Sadowans. Most of his scientific colleagues and peers had evacuated by now, on his command, leaving just the small group headed by Lilith and Firith to secure the Empiricalum and who were willing to retrieve live “samples” from the city centers at his request.

But here, weeks after Patient Zero and already many days into the quarantine, Aul was reaching the end of his rope. He couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, his mind was completely and utterly centered on finding a more permanent cure to the scourge which had overtaken his adopted home. He had come close, just a few days ago. He thought he had a major breakthrough when one of his subjects had suddenly become lucid, completely devoid of any of the symptoms of the infection. The effect only lasted a fifteen minutes or so, before the crazed madness returned to the young man’s eyes and Aul was forced to dispatch him by means of his lightsaber.

In troubleshooting what had gone wrong, Aul re-sequenced the genome of one of his viral stocks. Huge swaths of genetic material had mutated to a nearly unrecognizable sequence. After checking and rechecking the samples, Aul found that with each sequencing run the virus was mutating more and more regions. It was as if the process was continuous and happening moment-to-moment, unlike any other organism recorded in any other region of the galaxy. A virtual infinite variability of genetic material meant a virtually unlimited number of protein tools that the virus had at its disposal to cause havoc in its infected host. The weirdest aspect of the entire mess was that no region was spared; if there was no single, stable region then how could the virus possibly cause a disease with such consistent symptoms?

The airlock in the containment lab opened and Sera, Aul’s dearest staff scientist walked in. She silently strode over and stood just behind Aul, her bright blue eyes looking at the back of his figure with great care. As she slowly rounded beside him she could see the toll this pandemic had taken on the human, his eyes drawn, his hair prematurely gray and his cheeks sunken in with malnutrition and lack of sleep.

She put a gloved hand on his shoulder and rubbed it gently, hoping some compassion might bring peace to his mind. Aul shook slightly and sunk in his bench chair. He spun the chair slightly to look at the Togrutan scientist. The patterns on her face had always given him great joy. The way they traced the bone structure of her face was poetic in its simplicity and effect. She was, by every measure of the word, beautiful. And yet, there was no particular reason he, as a human, should find her attractive. While not impossible, it was unlikely that they would be able to produce a child, and yet, despite all natural instincts, he found her physically attractive. His mind, his basest instincts, were somehow misguided by some greater connection between them.

“My stars…” The sound of the words themselves unable to escape past his face mask, but the appearance of realization as clear as could be.

“What is it, Sir?” Sera asked, curious at this sudden moment of clarity she perceived in the human scientist.

“Sera, take this vial of virus and run a optical emission spectroscopic analysis on it immediately. There is no time to waste,” Aul exclaimed as he handed her a small glass vial with a shaky, gloved hand.

“Yes, Sir!”

Some minutes later Sera returned to the lab to find Aul pacing impatiently in the main lab, his containment suit removed.

“What did you find?!” he asked, the words escaping his mouth before the thoughts were fully formed.

“Sir, I don’t know how to explain it… this virus shouldn’t be biologically active. It’s a random jumble of unstable isotopes, rare and heavy metals. It shouldn’t interact with any of the biology found on this planet by any known mechanism. It’s completely incompatible,” Sera finished, a quizzical look in her eyes.

Aul stood more still than he’d been afforded in many, many weeks. His eyes locked on Sera’s, a look of wild, fierce life returning to his gaze. He slowly, measuredly closed the space between them with surefooted steps, reached out and gently pulled her head towards his with his hands behind her neck, under her head tails. He planted a deep, passionate kiss on his trusted companion and, quelling any fear he had in the action, found the kiss returned.

Pulling an inch away from his lips, Sera looked into his eyes and gave no attempt to hide her shock, “Aul… um, what… what is it?”

“Sera, you’ve done it. You beautiful… you,” Aul said, a grin as wide as he’d ever had in his life spread across his face. With one more kiss on the Togrutan’s forehead, he shouted aloud, “Complex chelation therapy! It’s the cure. You’ve done it!”

“By the light of the Core, you’re right! We’ve been trying to treat it as a virus, because that’s what it appeared to be on the microscope… but to our bodies it may as well just be a heavy metal toxin. It never showed up in blood tests because it infected like a virus and remained inside cells. But when the virus sheds out to infect other cells…”

“We can capture it with chelation, and render it neutral,” Aul finished Sera’s sentence with exuberance.

“It’s so simple! And with a broad cocktail combined with mineral supplements we can deploy the treatment immediately!” Sera said, giggling with excitement.

“Sera, this is it. You, me, all of us… we have a future, now. Send word for Lilith and Firith right away.”

Aeotheran surface
The Empiricalum
Inner Sanctum

Darkblade was pacing around the room that he’d kept successfully hidden from his superiors. The room was virtually undetectable from the outside. Its entrance hidden in plain sight and known only to the Quaestor, but secured with a dual biometric lock with such a high fidelity that it could detect the wing patterns of a Tatooinian Sketto, the chamber was as private as it could be with soundproofed walls, and the floor and ceiling comprised out of reinforced durasteel.

The interior of the room was draped in darkness with several high-powered spotlights providing most of the lighting, centering on a single metal medical chair. Its medical instruments removed in favor of large needles, pointed extrusions and electrically charged prods. The chair itself could rotate in just about any angle, and was firmly attached to the sterile metal floor by way of eight large bolts. An unsavory odor hung around the room, courtesy of the sweating, bleeding, and drooling mess that was tied down onto the chair.

Stopping in front of the restrained individual Darkblade looked at the gibbering mess that had once been his Iktotchi captive, and seethed. Weeks he had spent on this endeavor, and what did he have to show for it? “NOTHING!” His cry of frustration across the room, the insulated walls echoing his rage back at him. Surely there had to be some way to break this man, this thing. There had to be a way into his mind, to unlock it, to purvey himself to its secrets. A thought came to him, as unbidden as the person it unveiled, his dark visage rising from the darkness of the Force. If he could be persuaded, Darkblade thought, then he surely would succeed. The Quaestor had never known him to back down from a challenge, nor fail to beat one after it had after all, Darkblade had never known him to fail at a task he put his mind to.

Keying his commlink he called for the main communications tower, where he put in for a secured transmission deep into the heart of the Brotherhood’s territory.

Unknown location
Aboard the Paladin
Archive Vault

Mimicked after the data vault of the Citadel tower on Scarif, the Shadow Academy’s records and information databanks are stored aboard the VSD Paladin. A smaller version of the Scarif facility was built aboard the VSD Paladin, consisting of two towers of stacked databanks, which housed the multitudes of data acquired by the Dark Jedi Brotherhood over the ages. This includes not only the plethora of course information, but also project info on anything the Dark Council is working on, as well as knowledge that the DC believes should be limited to certain members.

This entire system is operated by a highly-skilled team of Legion slicers, working to secure the data vault around the clock, as well as countering any threat that might make it past the first few layers of security. The team itself is managed by the Praetor of the Shadow Academy. At that very moment Marcus was completing a patrol through the vault, his assigned slicer droid which he had nicknamed C4, floating lazily behind him.

“Make sure to double check the data stack in silo one, seefour. If those drives cop out again, I’ll have Farrin on my ass and that is not an experience I wish to repeat.”

The little droid beeped dutifully and quickly glided up to the indicated drive stack, and plugged in. A few minutes later it floated back to the ground level where Marcus was waiting.

“All good?” he asked, and the droid replied in the affirmative. Just as Marcus made to move on C4 started beeping insistently.

“Slow down seefour. I can’t follow. Hold on,” the Praetor offered, and quickly removed a commlink from his belt and started the basic translator app. “Alright, go.”

The droid quickly let loose its barrage of digitized beeps, and the commlink dutifully translated the message: A communiqué had come in on the Praetor’s private line, listed as urgent. Marcus quickly stepped towards the nearby console and keyed in his personal access code. Immediately the messaging system opened which appeared overflowing; requests for access, complaints, suggestions, thank you’s, system control messages and Clan updates all scrolled by as Marcus skipped all the uninteresting drivel. Finally, at the end of his message queue, there was a message from an old friend.

“Hmm, interesting,” Marcus muttered to himself. Closing the system, he keyed his comlink. “Captain Maatl. I require the use of a shuttle. Have it ready within the hour.” As the captain of the Paladin acknowledged his order, Marcus turned to his droid. “Seefour, finish up here. No mistakes.”

As the droid acknowledged his command, Marcus headed for the nearest security airlock that separated the vaults from the rest of the ship. It would be high time for him to return to his Clan.

Approaching Aeotheran
Shadow Academy shuttlecraft

The shuttle from the Paladin, equipped as it was with a set of Dark Council identification codes, had no trouble getting through the Warhost blockade around Aeotheran. On board, Marcus Kiriyu, former traitor, former Rollmaster, and current Praetor to the newest Headmaster, Farrin Xies, sat meditating. His mind was focused on the nearest of futures, those in which he would come face to face with both an old friend, and an old enemy. The last time that he’d seen Darkblade was during their last encounter with the Dominion. They’d helped each other then and, though he had been away from the Clan, he was happy to hear from his old friend.

As the shuttle negotiated the blockade around his former home, Marcus sent off a quick message to the fleet’s command ship to let his senior’s know that he was approaching the planet in response to Darkblade’s message. Keeping his comlink active he keyed in Darkblade’s personal frequency and hailed his old friend.

“Deebee, I’m approaching Aeotheran now. Do you have a safe place for me to touch down?” The answer that came back was quick. “Welcome back ‘Praetor’. There’s a landing pad just outside the main entrance. I’ll have two Sadowans’ ready for guard duty.”

“Copy that. Thank you old friend,” Marcus smiled in spite of the situation. Darkblade had never left much to chance, and he was glad to see that that hadn’t changed in the recent months. He closed the link and informed his pilot where he could set down.

Moments later the shuttle touched down softly upon the surface of Aeotheran. As the ramp descended, Marcus strode from it, being met with two familiar faces. “Master Kiriyu,” Firith’rar acknowledged his presence as he kept an eye on the surrounding area. Marcus replied by inclining his head in welcome, a gesture that was mimicked by Lilith, welcoming the former Captain of the Blackguards.

“Lilith,” Marcus offered as they quickly strode across the courtyard, “I see they made you team leader. A wise choice, I am confident that you’ll do great.”

As they approached the entrance, Lilith’s comlink crackled to life, the voice of Aul’s research aide, Sera, coming through it. “Lilith? We need you and Firith to bring in another live subject. Same arrangements as before.”

“Marcus, you’ll be fine from here on out. Darkblade is waiting inside,” she explained, then quickly gestured towards her husband. “Come on, honey, we’ve got work to do.”

The older Firith grunted something only Lilith understood, because she ran off in the direction of the gates, laughing over her shoulder. Marcus watched the pair disappear through the gates, and then headed inside.

Inside the Empiricalum
Inner Sanctum

Darkblade paced behind Marcus as the latter sat studying the footage on the holoscreen. They were in a small control room adjacent to the room in which the Quaestor kept his Iktotchi prisoner, his silhouette barely visible through the viewscreen in front of them.

“So he’s not given you anything? And this is all the data you have on him?” Marcus asked, to which Darkblade merely nodded and grunted his assent.

Marcus stood up, and moved to the door that led into the makeshift interrogation room. “I’m going in. Make sure the vids keep running, he called over his shoulder.

The room was draped in darkness, but Marcus could sense his quarry through the Force, stirring in the darkness. He steeled his mind, drawing the icy cold energy of the dark side into his thoughts, letting it hone his mind into the weapon he needed right now. There would be no compassion, no frailty, no distractions. His limited his senses to the room he was in, letting everything else fall away like water down a waterfall.

“I know you’re there,” spoke a voice, the Iktotchi’s. Marcus did not reply, but moved slowly and deliberately until he was face to face with his target. “I’ve seen your arrival. You think you can break me, but you can’t. I will never betray the trust that was placed in me. You will fail.”

Marcus’ mind was probing his enemy, all the while taking in what the Iktotchi was saying, storing it for later use. Marcus knew he couldn’t rip the thoughts from him, but if it the solution would’ve been easy, surely Darkblade wouldn’t have called. No, this required finesse and no small amounts of it. Meanwhile his opponent hadn’t stopped babbling.

“…trust. You believe you can win again the Dominion, but we will beat all of you. It has already begun.” Marcus felt a familiar tug on his mind, and a voice whispered, ‘There. He’s shown you the crack in his armor, now you tear it down.’ Marcus arched an eyebrow, unseen by anyone. ‘Not yet. I want to own him.’

Tilting his head slightly to the right, as if observing something curious, he brought his face close to that of his captive. With a small gesture and a nudge in the Force, the chair that held the Iktotchi was bathed in bright light.

“Hello there,” Marcus replied. “I’m … well, it doesn’t matter who I am. What matters is who you are.” His horned captive didn’t reply, merely observed the shrouded individual in front of him.

Drawing the icy coldness of the dark side into his voice, Marcus continued. “You know what we want to know, but you refuse to give it to us. You think yourself save. You might even think that we know very little.” He stood up, and started pacing around the chair.

“There are always those that know more than you do, you know,” he stated, all iciness gone from his voice. “The trick is, to always be the man holding all the cards. If you can do that, well then you end up being like me.” Spinning the chair around, he stared hard into the Iktotchi’s bleary eyes.

“Does that frighten you? No? Hmm,” the Praetor mused aloud. “I guess it wouldn’t. After all, I haven’t told you that we have found your sister.” Marcus’ green eyes seemed to draw in every single detail of the Iktotchi’s face as a flicker of doubt shot across his pinkish face. “You can’t have. You’re lying.”

“Ah, you think I am. But you cannot be sure, can you?” Marcus’ face split open in a demonic grin, the dark side of the Force egging him on, drawing on his target’s despair. “You’ll have noticed that I’m a little different from your last interrogator. Hard to tell truth from lies, when you can’t get inside someone’s head, isn’t it?”

The only tell that the prisoner gave was a widening of the iris, which disappeared as quickly as it had come, but Marcus had noticed it, and stored the flicker of doubt and of recognition away in his mind.

“Tell me. What is To’ka’s favorite color? Blood red?” Marcus almost failed to keep his glee from spilling over into his face as his captive’s face drained of all color, leaving him ashen-faced.

“Y-you can’t have, she g-got away! N-no! She’s s-safe!” He began yelling, and fighting his restraints, which began to rattle as they were pushed to their limits.

Marcus smiled briefly, then that smile turned into a snarl as he grabbed the Iktotchi’s throat and forced him back into his chair. “Listen to me you pathetic quim,” he said threateningly, pouring all of what he could draw from the dark side into his voice, “I have eyes and ears everywhere. If you think I cannot find one pathetic little Iktotchi, then you are wrong. Now you either tell me what I want to know, or I will take the greatest of pleasures in tearing every last shred of sanity from your sweet little sister.”

The Iktotchi still struggled, fighting against Marcus’ grip to draw breath. “Of course if you prefer, we can always kill you now, and see how she feels about switching sides. I can be very persuasive, and papa always said she was extremely gifted in the Force,” he mocked.

The captive alien stopped struggling, realizing that there would be no way out, and no way back. He would spill every last little secret he knew to this monster to keep his sister safe. Slumping against Marcus’ grip, who immediately loosened his grip, he began to mutter. Marcus had to lean forward to hear what he was saying…

Several hours had passed when the door to the control room finally opened, with Marcus in the doorway. He turned towards Darkblade with a look of disturbed happiness, having heard all that the prisoner had had to give. “I know where the plague came from,” he said triumphantly. “It came from,” and whatever was said next, was drowned out by the gurgling sound of an airpipe filling with blood, as from behind the Praetor a form stabbed a piece cold hard metal into his neck, twice, thrice.

As Marcus collapsed on the floor bleeding out as his carotid artery excised as much of his life force as possible, Darkblade deftly stepped forward, his lightsaber in his hand instantly and carved upwards, clean through the middle of the Iktotchi. There on the floor, lay both Marcus Kiriyu, and the Iktotchi prisoner. Dead. Pride had become the cause of death for both.

KSD Damnation
In orbit of Aeotheran

Locke Sonjie, Consul of Naga Sadow, stood in front of the armored window of the Damnation’s bridge surveying the scene that unfurled just outside. The entirety of the Sadowan Warhost had surrounded the blue-green marble that was known as Aeotheran, its apparent tranquil facade belying the true events transpiring on the surface. Halting any and all ships that attempted to reach the surface, the fleet was at full readiness. Inside, the Consul’s thoughts churned in turmoil as he mentally reviewed the reports from the surface. Behind him, a mere shade in the window’s reflection, Sanguinius Entar sensed the Consul’s tortured thoughts through the Force.

“Your thoughts betray you,” he offered solemnly, “but they are thoughts that I share. All those people down there.” Locke turned to face his Proconsul, his expression grave and arms behind his back. “How far is Aul with his research?”

“He seems to be close,” the Entar replied hopefully, “but we should begin preparations to distribute the vaccine. We want to end this plague the moment it becomes a possibili-.”

The Proconsul’s spoken thought was interrupted by the arrival of one of the communication ensigns, stepping onto the bridge and nearly running to the Consul’s side. “My lord, the commcenter just received word. Professor Celsus has found a cure.”

Locke’s usually stoic expression was interrupted by a fleeting flicker of relief, as he turned to face the ensign. Then he saw her face. “What is it, Ensign?”

“Sir, it’s Lord Darkblade,” the officer began. “He has discovered that the Dominion is responsible for this plague.” She seemed to hesitate slightly, and averted her eyes to the deckplates. Sang motioned for her to continue. After a slightly longer pause, she uttered a phrase that sent both leaders reeling.

“My lords, he also reported that Marcus Kiriyu is dead.”


“The virus has been cured, and Marcus Kiriyu is dead. However, all is not well. Pravus and the Dominion are still a threat. We must move quickly to secure the foundations of our power in the Orian System. Only then can we begin to truly fight…”

Temple of Sorrow
Orian System

“Marcus, dead,” Locke said, entering the darkened Consul’s office with Sang at his side. “He had always been a rival; even a threat, but still, this is not what I would have wanted for him. He was a powerful asset.”

“It’s hard to believe he is gone,” Sang said.

“It is,” Locke agreed. He looked at his desk for a moment, then up at a bust of Naga Sadow against one wall. “But we have no time for grief. With a cure for the Karashi Void, that is one less issue we have to deal with.”

Sang stepped over, glancing at the bust from the corner of his eye. “It will take some time to eliminate the damage it has done, and then there is that bit about the Dominion…”

“The Dominion,” Locke laughed, hollowly. “They are still reeling from our last strike. This was a desperate ploy. They should not be an issue in the near future.” We have bigger fish to fry, Locke thought. I cannot allow the Dominion to be too big a distraction.

“They will come at us again,” Sang said. “Threaten our people with worse than this madness.”

“Your concern is noted,” Locke said dryly, “but keep in mind the greater threat: our Grand Master.”

“Yes,” Sang said, “but we cannot move against him directly. We have to have matters in hand here first.”

“Agreed,” Locke said. “We need a good foundation. As we have discussed, the Assembly has become unfit to mask our presence and our Clan’s operations, especially with our recent missions.”

“Then it is time?” Sang asked.

“Yes,” Locke said, " we must restore Dlarit to power. Only then will we truly be able to operate freely in the shadows." Locke looked at the bust of Sadow again. “As the Sith of old manipulated the unknowing galaxy, we shall do the same with Dlarit.”

“We must be careful that we do not fall to hubris, as they did,” Sang said. He turned toward the door. “I will put our plan into motion.”

Hubris, Locke thought. Yes. “In the meantime, we will continue our quest for knowledge.”

“The Black Guard as a protective force are in effective. Have them redeployed, to seek out those relics which others cannot, to complete those missions that require a greater degree of discretion and danger…”

Temple of Blood
Sepros, Orian System

Bentre stared hard at the image of the sharp-faced Novitiate. The holoprojector cast the image about three inches over the man’s desk, casting the rest of the room in a gloomy blue hue. The human’s appearance was akin to that of a Jedi of old, with a single braid hanging to his right side, and a scar marring the man’s left cheek. The Rollmaster had to suppress a bit of a smile.

One day he would have to ask Starblade the story behind the scar.

“After some consideration, I have finally decided. I believe it is best that you be paired with an old student of mine. I will warn you, Firith’rar can be a little gloomy at times, but I believe that you will find him more than up to the task. The two of you may accomplish some great things, and I will watch your progress in full expectation that you will prove yourself among your peers in Clan Naga Sadow and within Shar Dakhan.”

The Battlemaster reclined slightly in the utilitarian rolling chair. “If you have any questions or need anything more of my office, all you have to do is leave a message via record and transmit and I will contact you as soon as I am able.” The Proselyte gave a nod of understanding and a bow of respect. Smiling, Stahoes returned a dramatic sort of bow toward the image, “May fortune favor you in the days to come.”

With a half-smile and a flourish, the Sith cut the connection.

“Now for the two of you.” Stahoes swiveled in his chair to allow him to more easily point a finger at the women standing in his office. “The last few weeks have been very busy in the Clan. The thing is, that I cannot be everywhere at once.” This statement drew a cool look from the human Black Guard, while the Twi’lek Black Guard looked at him, intrigued. “Our Consul has made it rather clear to me that we need to shore up some of our reserves.”

Tash’Vel shifted uncomfortably, brushing at one of her lekku as she studied her husband’s expression. By comparison Evelyn was standing nearly still, a cool stare in her eyes and her hands clutched behind her back. Both were at full attention, merely waiting for their orders. That was the way that Bentre preferred his Black Guard to operate. He knew they were more than capable; he had only to point them to their objectives.

“I am not speaking of military reserves, as much as I believe we need to prepare for the eventuality of the Grand Master turning his eyes to us or of simple logistics. We need power.

Pure, unadulterated, good old-fashioned power. This means that you two will be doing some running around for your Rollmaster.” He jabbed a thumb toward himself to punctuate the point.

“This means we seek out wisdom of old, stores of knowledge, artifacts of legend, anything that we can muster. It appears that Locke finally wants us to live up to the empire we once claimed to be. This means I am going to be sending you out to some far off places.”

Bentre swept a hand over the surface of his workplace, sweeping up a pair of datapads. He pushed himself up from his seat, stepping around the desk to offer his Black Guards the datapads. As both women reached out to take hold of a respective datapad, Stahoes nodded.

“Things are going to be changing very soon. The Temple of Blood has always been a base of operations for our Order, but this business is going to have us on the move now. In a few days I will send each of your information on where you can rendezvous should you need be. Don’t worry your pretty heads,” he gave a wink at the Sadowans, “I won’t be out of contact for too long. I have to keep a low profile while I complete some tasks for old Sonjie.”

“Understood, Sir,” Evelyn’s words were respectful, but her tone seemed to belie a level of irritation which brought the hint of a smirk to Bentre’s face. “Though I hope we are not being sent after some petty trinkets.” Some might have expected more respect, but this woman was still Sith. There would always be those who desired power and position. That competition would drive her forward, would serve the Rollmaster’s needs and the demands of her position.

“You two have your assignments,” Bentre turned his back to his subordinates, and motioned with a hand, “I will contact you both later.”

Do not worry, Tasha. Bentre projected the thought through the Force to his wife as he heard her turn. We will have time later to speak. The needs of the Clan call us both, but we will have time to ourselves soon, if I have anything to say about it. He felt her touch in the Force, a silent acknowledgement.

As both Black Guard departed, Bentre took a moment to draw a breath. He couldn’t even begin to tell them half of the plans that he was already setting into motion. Even if he felt it safe, there was no time. The latest batch of Novitiates had waited patiently outside of his office, and an age was approaching where he might not be able to afford them such chances for instruction as easily. Time was a precious commodity these days, and he had a lot to do.

“​I’ve sent one of our greatest warriors after Dlarit’s remaining executives. He and his apprentice will intimidate them and bring them to us, but not let them know who we are. When they are brought before us, they will be too intimidated to speak…”

Outside Privately Owned Estate
The Gilded Archipelago

Shimura knelt in the bushes outside of the walled estate, the Battlemaster had been assigned to bring the inhabitants within to his leaders. The Keibatsu had brought along his apprentice, Liarah, reasoning that she would benefit from this experience.

His orders had been explicit, in and out with no casualties. They had also been instructed to avoid using the Force or showing who they were. It was a shame, Shimura thought to himself, he could have used the practice. Liarah viewed the estate through some macro-binoculars, checking out the defences.

“There seem to be several guards, Master.” Liarah informed Shimura.

“We may have to get creative, then. Our Proconsul said no Force powers, no lightsabers.”

Liarah brandished the blaster she was carrying. “Good thing I brought this, then.”

Shimura merely chuckled. “In we go. You lead.”

Privately Owned Estate
The Gilded Archipelago

Marc Alph sat at the table, his mind wandering as some idiot droned on about the good old days. Curah Dar, a former Vice President of Dlarit, had partaken too much amasec and had decided now was a good time to launch a tirade of abuse against the Orian Assembly. His former colleague had gone into hiding alongside several of their peers after the collapse of the Dlarit Corporation.

The Assembly had been relentless in their persecution of the former Dlarit executives, yet some of them had evaded punishment. Marc, Curah and their host, Fae Taros had all once served highly in the Corporation. Taros had taken advantage of the situation at the time to siphon millions of credits away from the greedy grasp of the Assembly and had used it to rebuild Dlarit in the shadows, under a different name.

Taros humoured Curah’’s ramblings, nodding and making noises of affirmation in all the right places. Marc, meanwhile, was more focused on being realistic. He had once led men into battle and ordered thousands to their deaths. Now, he was a tired old man who wanted nothing more than a drink, food on the table and a woman in his bed.

“My dear, Curah.” Fae interrupted, “We’re neglecting our compatriot, Marc.”

Marc was shaken from his reverie and acknowledged the other two. “Oh, pay me no mind.”

“Reminiscing about the old days, Alph?” Curah asked, grinning.

“No, just thinking about how dangerous our position is, Curah. The Assembly still hunt for us and we’re here celebrating our current successes.” Marc replied.

Curah’s grin vanished and was replaced by a grimace. “Pah, forget the Assembly. They’re not a threat anymore.”

“They rule the system,” Fae said. “They prevent us from regaining our former place. Doesn’t it bother you at all? Look at how far we’ve fallen!” There was passion in her voice, but the two men barely moved.

“What’s the point?” Curah asked. “There’s no chance of-”

Suddenly, they heard a loud thud as if something had fallen outside the room. Then another, and then something slammed against the door.

“What was that?” Marc asked. “It doesn’t sound good.”

“I wonder,” Fae said.

A loud voice boomed from outside the room. “Stand back!” it shouted. The three stepped away from the door, just in time as it vaporized from an explosion. When the smoke cleared, a man and a woman stood in the doorway, she a Zeltron and he a Zabrak. The Zabrak seemed to be studying a wrist-mounted rocket launcher, ignoring the others.

“You’ll come with us,” the Zeltron said.

“Or what?” Marc asked incredulously.

“Or I shoot you,” the Zeltron replied.

“Who are you people?” Fae asked.

The Zabrak finally seemed to notice them. He spoke in a cold, quiet voice. “We’re your ticket to a better life…unless you’d rather stay here and drown in your misery.”

“Captain Sabe Baze has served the Warhost for years, and the Special Operations Group before that. There is no pilot I trust more for this special operation than she. If things go wrong, Sabe will get the mission done…”

Space Lane
Aoetheran Area
Orian System

“Why do I have to fly this thing?” Sabe asked The Z-95 Headhunter felt like it did everything in slow motion, as if space was jelly.

“Gray One, because orders are orders.” That was the flight officer onboard the nearby corvette, Reaper’s Call. Here, it had been retagged the Highwayman. It’s old, dilapidated look made it appear to be run by smugglers, or pirates.

“Still…” Sabe continued.

Her com crackled again. “Because today, we’re pirates. Or at least, that’s the narrative.”

Sabe sighed, and cycled her HUD through local targets. There were some bulk transports far off, a few transports, even a corvette or two. The Reaper’s Call was off the beaten path a bit, but still in range in case things went bad in a hurry. “What am I looking for?” she asked.

“Should be a yacht. Actually, there. Updating your target information.”

A star yacht popped up on her HUD, all smooth edges. “All I have to do is blow this up?” She mumbled. “Piece of cake.”

Sabe started her first attack run, raking lasers across the yacht’s shields. They held up surprisingly well. It returned fire, a top-mounted laser cannon firing in her direction. Sabe dived below the transport, avoiding the cannon’s fire arc.

Then she heard the missile warning.

She barely noticed the crackle of her comlink. “Gray One, this is Highwayman, hurry. Orian Authority police units will be here in moments.”

“Who the hell are these guys?” She shot back. “What yacht has a warhead launcher attached?”

It was all Sabe could do to avoid the missile that was fired in her direction, but finally she was able to loop around toward the yacht again. She switched her own weapons over to missiles. If they wanted to play that way, fine. She fired at close range, banking away just in time to avoid the imminent explosion. Two missiles streaked toward the yacht. One detonated against it’s shields. They shimmered and faltered a split-second before the other arrived. It broke the hull, sending atmosphere and bodies into space.

As the yacht began to break apart, Sabe made one last pass to ensure the job was done. Her com crackled again.

“Highwayman to Gray One, excellent work. Now let’s get out of here. I’m already picking up Authority traffic over the 'net.”

“Don’t have to tell me twice,” Sabe muttered.

When the Orian Authority arrived, they found only wreckage and bodies. There were no survivors. The CEO of the Dagon Corporation - largely credited with their meteoric rise to prominence in the wake of the vacuum left by Dlarit - was dead.

“I’ve paid a mercenary to infiltrate their largest mine. All he has to do is get in, plant the evidence we requested, and get out without raising an alarm. He promises that it can be done with maximum discretion, and comes highly regarded…”

Dig Alpha
Mining Site

The Vega Corporation had risen to great power in the absence of Dlarit. They had once been a minor power in the sector, one who could barely hope to challenge the strength and resources of Dlarit. Then, inexplicably, Dlarit had collapsed, and Vega had eagerly moved in to fill the void. They had gobbled up old Dlarit resources like a hungry rancor, until Vega was sitting comfortably in an indisputably secure spot in the sector. Unrivaled by what was left of Dlarit, and relatively untouched by the newer Orian Assembly, they had even managed to survive the plague that had been called the Karashi Void. Vega’s remote mining sites had continued to operate around the clock, while their public relations department insisted they were hard at work to discover a cure for the virus.

Dig Alpha was their greatest mining site. It was located deep in the Aeotheran Jungles. Vosiri Lightcrest had not found it easy to get to, but it was also not guarded very well. It had not been easy to carry the satchel of explosives he had been given through the forest, and he hadn’t been all that comfortable carrying something intended to be detonated remotely, but the payment had been too good to pass up. His current employers promised a long-term contract if this mission went well.

There was nothing to denote the mine’s location except a long fence and single checkpoint. This was a back door, of sorts. The intel he had been given indicated that it was used for scouts returning from the forest, and not for regular workers to enter and exit the facility. That worked out in Vosiri’s favor, because it meant that the checkpoint was only guarded by two sentries, and those two sentries were not expecting a single, unarmed man.

He approached the gate confidently, armed guards stepping out of the single structure that protected the narrow gap in the fence. “Who are you?” one asked. “There shouldn’t be any scouts out at this hour.”

“Oh,” Vosiri said, approaching to nearly within arm’s length. His voice was casual, disinterested, even. “I got lost.”

The word ‘lost’ was barely out of his mouth before Vosiri was in motion. It was a simple matter for him to disarm one guard, throwing his weapon wide and leaving the man disoriented. That gave him time to quickly attack the other one; snapping one of his arms before he could reply and taking out his legs with a sweeping kick.

The first guard reeled, going for a knife at his belt. Vosiri didn’t give him the chance; striking him just so in the chest, taking the wind out of him and sending him to the ground.

Afterward, Vosiri strolled inside, and from there it was easy. He met little other resistance as he descended into the facility. All he had to do was leave the satchel somewhere where the explosion would do a lot of damage. After some sneaking around, he set it on a conveyor belt that headed back into the mine.

That was the last day of operation for Dig Alpha.


Penthouse Office
Seng Karash

Fae Taros, Curah Dar and Marc Alph were ushered into the room by a receptionist. Shimura and Liarah had dropped the trio off in the waiting room outside several minutes before. The two Dark Jedi had then left them alone in the room, save for the chirpy receptionist, who had offered them all a drink. Dar and Taros had accepted her offer, but Alph had been too annoyed to partake.

“I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience,” a warm voice greeted them. A brown haired, middle-aged man stood up from behind his desk and walked towards them with a smile on his face and his hand outstretched. He shook their hands and gestured for them to take a seat in one of several comfortable chairs situated before his desk.

The man returned to his chair and sat down, “You must be wondering why you’re here.” he asked, but continued instead of waiting for an answer. “Don’t worry, you’re not here because you’re in trouble.” The man chuckled wryly, “Well, with me anyhow, we all know what the Assembly thinks about you.”

The trio reacted with a series of facial expressions and Alph half pushed himself out of his chair. “Please, I was just joking.” he gestured for Alph to sit back down.

“Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Sang Tsucyra and I’m here on behalf of my colleague to offer you a deal.”

Sang picked up a remote and pressed a button on it. A bank of screens on the wall came to life and showed several local news networks covering stories across the Orian system.

“You’ve been in hiding for a long time, rebuilding Dlarit from the ground up. What would you say if we could give you that opportunity to regain what you once had?”

'Ridiculous," Marc said. “Our rebuilding efforts will take years!”

“Our age is over,” Curah continued. “Don’t waste our time.” He began to stand up, as if to leave.

Fae did not move. Her voice was cool ice. “I want to hear what he has to say,” she said.

Sang turned back to the screens and turned up the volume on one so that the news reporter was audible.

“…explosion rocked Vega Corporation’s largest mine today. Deep from within, experts are calling it a natural explosion caused by unsafe mining techniques. Hundreds of Vega employees like dead or trapped in the ruins.”

Marc scoffed. “That is but one rival.”

“Their credibility destroyed,” Fae said softly.

Sang gestured to another screen. “…their CEO lies dead, after a pirate attack today. Dagon Corp’s visionary leader, largely responsible for their rise from almost nothing two years ago, was killed when pirates made a seemingly random attack on his private yacht. Sources inside the company say that investors will quickly retreat, their faith having been based almost solely…”

“On him,” Curah said. “He was all there was to that company.”

“Indeed,” Sang agreed. “So you see, the path is clear for you.”

“It isn’t that easy,” Fae said. “It will be a long road. Why do this? What do you want? Who are you, even?”

“We are a resourceful third party,” Sang said. “We want only a place on your board of directors. We like our anonymity.”

“I see,” Fae said.

“Well,” Marc chimed in. “I guess we might as well. It was either this or wallow forever, eh Curah?”

The other man chuckled dryly, still looking on in his belief. “We’ll take your offer,” he looked back at Fae. Apparently, she held some sort of power over the group.

Her voice was quiet when she nodded, but it belied a sense of ambition. “Our company’s resources are at your command, as long as we get yours as well.”

“Done,” Sang said. “Let us drink.”

Temple of Sorrow
Orian System

“Well, they bought it, completely,” Sang said. “But what does this gain us, again?”

“Cover,” Locke said. “Cover to move freely. Cover from that bureaucratic mess that the Assembly is. If we open a dig site, or send someone to retrieve some old artifact, it is much less suspicious to call it the desires of a corporation seeking profit than a government. Why would the Assembly want that?”

“And what if Dlarit rebels?” Sang asked.

“Then,” Locke answered, “we play the two against each other: Assembly and Dlarit. We will do what we must, but for now, our path is clear to focus on our ultimate threat.”

“Darth Pravus.”