Homeland: Phase 2
Things appeared to be going according to plan. Drawing a slow breath as he surveyed the Lion’s Tooth towering over the city before clicking his commlink. “This is Stahoes to Team Bravo. Are you all in position?”
“Firith’rar here.” the voice of his former apprentice crackled over, punctuated by the sound of blaster fire. It looks like Quo-Wing-Tzun was ready for us."
"Alright, well, do what you can,” Bentre grunted into the comm, “give them as much trouble as possible. Try not to kill my wife’s apprentice though, thanks. I will never hear the end of it otherwise. Mactire, how is the attack on the powerplant going?”
“It is going pretty well except-” an explosion interrupted the Gray Jedi mid-sentence. The voice of Lilith could be heard yelling commands in the background. “Benny, things just went a bit south. Looks like they were a little more prepared for us than we expected. We will see what we can-” Another explosion cracked over the commlink. “I will have to get back to you.” The Aedile clicked off the commlink.
“Kriff,” the Corellian shook his head. “Darkblade’s team is going to rip my team a new one if we don’t do something to shift the flow of battle.” He turned to Aul beside him, his eyes narrowed. “We need to push our attack. There is no waiting for the better moment. Our hand has been forced. Move the Warhost up in a pincer formation so we can hit them in both flanks.”
“We will move immediately,” a tall Warhost soldier nodded to the Sith. As the soldier stepped away, the Aedile felt a hand on his shoulder.
The Lion’s Tooth
“Lilith and Quo-Wing-Tzun are fending off the other team. We still haven’t seen Celsus or Stahoes yet.” Qyreia stared down at the datapad in her hands.
“Keep an eye on the tower. Bentre will make his move eventually.” The Quaestor looked down over the city from a window. “Do not underestimate him.” Motioning to the Warhost at the door, Darkblade began to walk toward the door out of the room.
“Move soldiers out to the base of the tower.”
The human smiled slowly, revealing a set of crooked teeth. “I understand, commander.”
A tinge of unease pulled at the Anzat’s senses, but he was unable to place where it exactly came from.
The click of the commlink on Qyreia’s side drew the Mystic’s gaze. “Commander, we have some abnormal movements at the Starport and the Powerplant. A detachment of soldiers have started to circle around our tower.” The sounds of battle rung over the device. “They are opening fire on our forces. Explosives and heavy weapons.”
“You know what to do.” the Anzat intoned. “You have the training to get the job done. Drive them back.”
Almost immediately, the commlink activated again on a private channel that was set up for the specific case of an emergency. It was the familiar voice of his Aedile.
“Darkblade, draw back your forces now! Those soldiers are not under my command.” The humm of a lightsaber came over the speaker and sounds of struggle could be heard. “One of our Warhost attacked us out here! We have an anomoly.”
“Stand down Sadowan.” As Darkblade looked toward the human with crooked teeth who had spoken, he saw the soldier he had just ordered only moments ago holding a blaster carbine in his direction. Without missing a beat, Qyreia drew her own blaster and fired. The soldier didn’t stand a chance as the bolt lanced into his skull. As the body hit the ground, its features molded into those of a Clawdite.
“This isn’t a simulation anymore, guys. It looks like we have something serious. We might be facing a real attack sooner than we thought.” Stahoes spoke quickly over the comm. “With or without our preparation, it looks like we gotta defend our home.”
Lion’s Tooth Courtyard
This battle had gone harder than either of them had expected. Reports had been received that Firith’rar was still buried in rubble of the spaceport and that loyal members of the Warhost were working hard, ensuring that any remaining combatants were defeated and that the Dakhani were both safe and accounted for. By all appearances the day was theirs.
“The day is won.” Darkblade announced to the weary members of the House gathered within the Lion’s Tooth. “We hoped to prepare you for a possible attack on our home world, but the Dominion already know something of where we are. We could not have planned for an attack like this, but you all fought hard and despite the damage caused, we stopped the attackers hard.”
Behind him, it appeared that the Corellian Aedile was nodding slowly. His gaze went from the Warhost standing at attention nearby, to the members of the House before him and up to the Anzat before his gaze fell to the ground again.
“You all fought well.” Bentre’s voice rose to a near shout as his eyes did not raise from the ground. “The day was almost a complete victory. Thanks to all of you, our planet is safe once again, for now. Pride cannot describe the emotions that I experience as we stand before you.” These words brought nods and affirmative mutters from those gathered. “We may have been wounded for a time, but I am more than confident that when the time comes, you will be more than capable of eradicating the Dominion threat permanently. I am confident that all that Consul Sonjie will have to merely give is the word and you will do everything necessary to guarantee absolute victory.”
“We’ll send those hutt-humpers packing!” Qyreia hollered, prompting a smile from both Aedile and Quaestor.
“No doubt,” Bentre looked up at the Mercenary and nodded. “There is before us only two things left to do. First, we must quickly recover, as our conflict is not over. This day is ours, but the war is not over. We have rid the planet of this snake infestation, purged it off all the parasites that stood against us.” The Corellian smiled, glancing at the Anzat as he stepped forward confidently. The Quaestor smiled at him. “Well, all except for one.” In a smooth motion, the Aedile activated his lightsaber and plunged the blue blade into Darkblade’s back.
Chaos erupted almost immediately. Aul Celsus moved up, pushing Stahoes back fiercely, removing the weapon from the Battlemaster’s trembling hands. The weapon deactivated, clattering loudly to the ground. “What do you think you are doing?”
“I was making sure we were all safe, buddy.” Bentre smiled at the Gray Jedi. “I thought you could appreciate that.”
Qyreia and Quo-Wing-Tzun were quickly at Darkblade’s side, examining his body. By all appearances the man appeared to be dead. A gasp was heard from the Zeltron woman. She backed away before kicking the body. “Let out all your rage and anger, Arronen. It is all over now.” A laugh was evident in the man’s words.
“How did he know?” The Professional’s voice quivered slightly. “How did he know we had another Clawdite among us?”
“Huh?” The world seemed to swim for a moment, Bentre glanced down at the corpse. The features had reverted from the familiar face of the Anzat. The Zeltron was correct, his victim was not Darkblade. A dead Clawdite lay on the ground before the Dakhani.
“Go and find the Quaestor!” Quo-Wing-Tzun barked at one of the Warhost before turning back to examine the corpse.
“What in the Nine Hells?” Stahoes’ words were full of anger and confusion. “I know what I-” The world seemed to turn around him. It was all too much. His body surrendered to the stress, and before his comrades, Bentre Kairn’tel Stahoes lost consciousness.
Shortly after the unexpected attack, Lilith came across Darkblade. Immediately she tried to rouse him, waking the man and checking him over. Apparently the Quaestor had been attacked and rendered unconscious just before the final attack. Later medical tests had detected the presence of heavy sedatives in his system. Aul looked over the files, hardly daring to believe what had occurred. None of the House seemed willing to believe the events that had occurred after what had seemed like so clean a victory. Bentre lay in his bed, barely stirring. The man had went into an evidently comatose state after his attack.
Firith’rar had been largely and miraculously uninjured despite the collapse of the spaceport. Repairs would take a few weeks as they cleared rubble, but it appeared that the majority of the structure was not decimated. At least that was one less thing they would have to deal with. The rest were receiving treatment.
Word had still not come down from the Quaestor what was to happen to his Aedile. This action could not go answered. Members of the Warhost moved in and restrained Stahoes as soon as he had hit the ground. Shortly as he returned to the Lion’s tooth, the Corellian’s apprentice set to guarding his former master. When news of the events during his brief absence came to the Anzat Quaestor, he was incensed.
Arguments ensued about what to do. Darkblade wanted the man executed, plain and simple. The Dakhani Versea wanted him held captive and treated. “Send him away,” Firith’rar had argued, “we can keep him at the Estate. Protect him and protect everyone else.”
Darkblade took time to puzzle over the events. The data gathered by the Dominion needed to be investigated. The evident leak needed to be tracked down, they needed to discover how they had gathered some much information so easily. How had they planted a doppleganger? How many more potential Clawdite spies could be on the planet?
After some deliberation, the Anzat realized what must be done. There were more important things to be dealt with more immediately. He would have to contact Tasha’Vel, organize the transportation of the Shadow away from the planet. He would keep an eye on the Aedile and his condition during his recovery. If he proved a risk to Shar Dakhan in the meantime the Sith would be executed.
Meanwhile, he had chosen Lilith as his Blackguard. Her performance in the attack had been admirable. She would begin her training shortly at the Temple of Blood. Security had to be tightened on the planet. The Consul and Proconsul needed to be informed of the Dominion attack. The rebuilding of damaged or destroyed assets would occupy the next few weeks.
“We must stand together.” The Quaestor had announced to the House. “We are in for hard times. We must remain vigilant. The Dominion caught us unaware. Today we told them that we will not be defeated. We will not shrink away. We will rout out any Clawdite, any Dominion, any threat. We will be strong. We will be united. We are Shar Dakhan!”
Aul hoped that he was right.