[Code: Dread] Official Fiction

(Ronovi Tavisaen) #1

Week 1

The Pinnacle - Level 195
Aliso City
37 ABY

Back at her desk, Ronovi was getting the latest breakdown of clan activity before the upcoming onslaught. TuQ’uan sat across from her, eyeing the bottle of Whyren’s Reserve which contents were slowly but surely depleting throughout the meeting. Behind him stood Cyvarria Ranin, Admiral of the Ascendant Fleet, and Owen Serrus, Captain of the Ascendancy. Both of them still wore battle scars from the explosion during the siege of the Thuvis Shipyards, Serrus specifically wearing an eyepatch as his left eye attempted to recover its shape and vision.

The four were going over the latest assets of the Ascendant Fleet and deciding where to send them in this latest skirmish. Kel Zar’s fleet could be handled by Khryso and a handful of Besh Task Force squadrons - nothing heavy needed to be there to take that on. However, the Dread Lord knew full well of other splinter cells from the Collective patrolling the Unknown Regions. Therefore, they had to be mindful of their allotment.

“The Wrath can head a few squadrons to the north of the system,” TuQ’uan opined. “I can command that. As for the Termagant, its ships can be allocated to multiple areas. There are some gravity wells we can draw ships to, to trap them and keep them from launching into hyperspace.”

“I’d be careful,” warned Ranin. “Our ships are equally vulnerable.”

“What about the Ascendancy?” Serrus asked. “Does she stay home?”

“She’ll maintain a moderate defensive line near the Anchorage, yes,” Ronovi replied. “We don’t want to send every ship we have out. That leaves us open for attack if we’ve missed anybody.”

TuQ’uan’s eyes crinkled in a smile above his respirator. “But we’re certainly going to clean them up in this city, aren’t we?”

Ronovi nodded simply. Wrathus and Tahiri had taken charge of the “enforcement” prong of the campaign - as in, they and others who had decided not to fly out for battle would take out enemies in Aliso City itself. Anyone who questioned the planet’s governance would be taken in and interrogated; given many Plagueians’ reputations for torture, the Epicanthix knew that it would not be pretty.

Feeling comfortable with the set-up, she stood up and beckoned TuQ’uan, Ranin, and Serrus to leave. “Enough chatting for now. You have ships to man and pilots to command. Varick, Ranin, Serrus - I’m counting on you.”

Once they were gone, Ronovi sat back down, picking up the whiskey bottle and draining it of its innards. As soon as the room began to tilt, she knew she was finally where she wanted to be mentally.

Let’s murder some Collective scum.

(Ronovi Tavisaen) #2

Week 2

CR90 Corvette Respite
Unknown Regions - Open Space
37 ABY

“Get me connected to Ordam!” Kel Zar snarled, as she moved the controls of her ship forward, lunging into the fray.

The Ascendant Fleet’s cronies had already done quite a bit of damage on her smattering of fleets, but the Zabrak was not ready to forfeit yet. In fact, in her declaration for war, she had hoped that Plagueis would take the bait - and taken the bait they had, shooting bolt after bolt at her crew. As she watched an ally’s ship careen to the right in flames, Kel Zar now knew were reinforcements were necessary. The question, in the end, was whether or not they were ready.

Wiping a patch of sweat from one of her lower horns, the Collective operative leaned back in her chair, breathing heavily. One would think that simply piloting a ship wouldn’t be a work-out, but Plagueis was, admittedly, formidable. Tavisaen, the newest Dread Lord, certainly knew how to be aggressive. The trick was, however, resilience. Would she have that?

Kel Zar tried to control her respiration. In through her nose, out through her mouth. Nearby, another Collective ship became subject to inferno. She was ready to give up before she heard a familiar voice radiating from the control panel.

“This is Thusak. Did you get yourself in trouble again, Zar?”

All at once, Kel Zar’s sighs were tinged with relief. Leave it to a Clawdite to serve as proper back-up.

“Good to hear from you, Delat,” said Kel Zar. “Mind lending me a hand?”


Eviscerater, Mk. 3
Unknown Regions - Aliso Space
Similar time

Abadeer Taasii was making mincemeat of the enemy forces. He felt most comfortable in a smaller vessel, compared to the Wrath back when he was Proconsul, so this worked beautifully. He watched as the fireworks boomed in front of his eyes, Collective ships ripped apart by the onslaught of the Ascendant Fleet.

Beautiful.

The Togruta nodded toward his copilot, a scrawny Human member of the Willing, before leaning back into the controls. A few squeezes of the trigger, and he was able to knock down several starfighters that were allegiant to the Collective. Still, however, the numbers seemed to be the same. Abadeer frowned. At this point, he would have figured he’d see a depletion in ships, but as it stood right now, every time a fighter was knocked down, a new one seemed to take its place. His upper lip curled into a sneer, accepting the challenge, and the former Wrath forced his Firespray directly into the fray, listening to the static break up to reveal the interjections of his fellow Plagueians:

“Task Force Besh, this is Whuloc. I’m under heavy fire on the Wraith. Repeat, under heavy fire. Back-up on star flank in - ”

Silent Scream here. We’re taking a barrage here. The kriff are these ships coming from?”

“Ascendant Fleet, this is Vaeril Aeraeth. I came to visit Aliso, but it seems you’re all a bit busy? Wasn’t expecting this - could I get a little support with - ”

That last intercepted call confused Abadeer. Who was Aeraeth? A new recruit? A potentially interested ally? Whatever the case, he had to check in.

He turned to his copilot with a cold, stoic smile. The chill was evident in both his face and in the cockpit.

“Full throttle, friend. This ain’t gonna be as easy as we thought.”

(Ronovi Tavisaen) #3

Week 3

Raider II-class corvette Shapeshifter
Unknown Regions - Aliso Space
37 ABY

Thusak Delat was sweating profusely from his brow.

In order to do a voice properly, he still had to shapeshift - fully. He had been able to impersonate the Dark Jedi in question just well enough to make the ruse work, having flagged down his ship and read his profile. Despite their best efforts, Plagueis remained wide open for splicing and hacking, and the Clawdite was happy to oblige.

As soon as he had ended his “S.O.S.” transmission with a Plagueian, he reverted back to his original reptilian form, panting and regaining his composure. With luck, the Firespray-31-class Interceptor would be cruising toward him and his squadron in no time. He and other former Principate forces were waiting in the wings, ready to yank any opposing ships into the nearby gravity well in order to disable their hyperdrives before obliterating them.

Smiling, Thusak pushed his corvette forward, barking back to his subordinates.

“Get to your posts, men, and let’s give them a night to remember!” he cackled.


Silent Scream
Unknown Regions - Aliso Space
Moments later

Something’s not right. Something’s not right.

Khryso let that repeat in his head over and over, hunched over the controls of his ship, trying to stay focused. He had managed to pull away from an incoming swarm of fighters, taking down about half of them before needing to withdraw and readjust.

“Lord Mallus?” inquired Ohni from his post. “What’s happening?”

“Something’s not right.” Khryso uttered it aloud this time, then shook his head in an attempt to clear the fog. He was improving in the Force rapidly, yet still, his perception sometimes failed him. “Get me back in communications with Taasii. We need to regroup.”

“Roger.”

After some crackling of static, the Togruta could be heard speaking gruffly. “What’s going on, Mallus? I’m intercepting a fellow Brotherhood member.”

“Taasii, pull back. I have a bad feeling about this.”

Abadeer responded with a chuckle. “Give me a break. What could go wro - ”

He was interrupted by a sharp barrage of blaster bolts before the line went dead. Cursing loudly, the Chiss sent out a distress call. A few answered.

“This is Whuloc,” emerged Zuser’s voice. “I’ve still got bogies on my tail.”

“Brimstone here. What’s happening, chief?”

“Whuloc, Brimstone, check where Taasii went off to. I think we’ve got more company than I thought.”

“You got it,” grunted Brimstone.


The Pinnacle - Level 195
Aliso City
37 ABY

“My Lord. You’re going to want to take this.”

Exhaling loudly, Ronovi nodded toward the Subjugate in her office before taking the call. TuQ’uan, Ranin, and Serrus had moved to their appropriate posts around the Aliso system, though she hadn’t heard anything from either the Wrath or the Termagant. She saw the blue silhouette of Khryso pop up from the proffered datapad - appropriate.

“What’s going on, Mallus?”

Even through the mottled fuzz of the hologram, Ronovi could see the concern and concentration on Khryso’s face. “We need back-up. Now.”

“You’re kidding.”

“It’s a full-on assault where we are. They may very well be putting all their eggs in one basket,” the Chiss opined. “I know you want to keep the northern and western borders protected, but…we may need to leave some holes.”

“Damn,” hissed Ronovi. This wasn’t good. And to top it off, none of her interrogators had gotten much information from spies and dissidents they had locked up in the floors below. She could very well send out the Termagant - she trusted Serrus and Ranin. However, perhaps it was time for TuQ’uan to spread his wings a bit. If he was going to be the Wrath, then he’d have to live up to the title.

She had decided. Nodding to Khryso, Ronovi gave her next command.

“Alert the Wrath of the situation. They are to support you at your position. My orders.”

“Affirmative, my lord,” sneered Khryso, before his visage snapped out of existence in the dark, secluded office.

(Ronovi Tavisaen) #4

Conclusion

Silent Scream
Aliso Space
37 ABY

Khryso cursed under his breath. From the viewing portal, he watched the Black Silence weave in and out of buzzing swarms of ships - Task Force Besh, Collective, Principate, it was gettng more difficult to tell the difference now. Leaning forward in his captain’s chair, the Chiss pushed his vessel into full throttle, lurching into the fray.

“We got the Wrath coming in hot!” Ohni cried out, watching the blips on the Scream’s radar.

While Khryso had known that Plagueis would win the battle, he was pleased that TuQ’uan’s arrival would at least reduce casualties on the clan’s side. As the Eviscerater emerged unscathed from the conflict, the Knight keyed in a transmission to Abadeer. “You good, Taasii?”

“Sure am,” replied the Togruta, sounding out of breath. “Brimstone here helped me take out some sort of Raider II-class corvette. Is that the one Kel Zar’s in?”

“Nope. Sorry, buddy,” replied Khryso. Still, a nagging part of his Force senses told him that despite that, whomever they had fired down had been a rather valuable friend.

In the next few minutes, the Collective offensive would withdraw.

The Pinnacle - Level 101
Aliso City
Same time

Mant Krafin, once a lively informant, was now bleeding and near vegetable status. Andrelious had done a number on him. The vengeful father had heard enough of the damned spy’s ramblings about the fate of his sons; now he had to suffer for even bringing them up in the first place. The information he had received, ultimately, was worrisome - a potential infiltration into the Pinnacle itself was underway.

Signaling to Lieutenant Grapik, a member of the Willing, Andrelious marched out of the interrogation room and made his way to the main turbolift, making sure to use the proper credentials to get to the Dread Lord’s office. In the aftermath of his report, he had expected a speedy response, but he had gotten none. This bothered the new member of the clan: Was Ronovi really so careless or nonchalant? What about the possibility of a demolition squad attacking Plagueis’s headquarters scream non-urgent to her?

He waited impatiently as the lift zipped up the remaining 94 floors, until the doors slid open and he was greeted by two guards. They inspected him, forced him to cede his blaster rifle, and only caved to letting him keep his lightsabers after he made good use of his mind trick prowess. While the Dread Lord, powerful as she was, had to take time to sway weak minds using the Force, Andrelious could get his way without so much as blinking.

When he entered the Dread Lord’s office, he was both surprised and disappointed to see that Wrathus and Tahiri, his so-called “superiors,” had beaten him to the punch. The Togruta and the white-haired Epicanthix flanked Ronovi at her desk, the near-half cyborg perusing a datapad with a smile. Once she set it down, she eyed the former Arconan cautiously, and Andrelious knew full that she was wary of him being here. After all, the man was not one to simply follow orders, and while he was technically now a Plagueian, he would not act like a rank-and-file yes man.

“You’re a bit late, Inahj,” opined the Consul. “Seems like your squad already had a go at the Pinnacle’s hangar bay.”

Andrelious’s eyebrows fluttered upward. “So fast? Good thing I filled you in, then.”

Ronovi waved her hand as if to dismiss his contribution, which irked him even more. “Not much to sneeze at. A few Aleena, some humanoids. Our Willing forces took them down quite efficiently.”

“Some damage to the bay itself,” Tahiri added, “but nothing we can’t fix.”

“Nothing my lunch can’t fix,” corrected Wrathus.

Ronovi gave Wrathus a look. “Wrathus.”

“I’m not calling them ‘assets,’ Tavisaen.”

With a sigh, Andrelious left the office and returned to the turbolift, a confused Grapik following him. Even if Ronovi hadn’t provided him credit, he had done his job, and perhaps she would thank him later. Unfortunately, despite being staunchly opposed to all facets of the Jedi Code, the Warlord would have to practice patience.

CR90 Corvette Respite
Unknown Regions - Open Space
Thirty minutes later

“Work,” snarled Kel Zar, slamming her hand repeatedly on the panel in front of her. “Work, damn you. ***Work!***”

Her comm system had been nonfunctional since receiving a glancing blow to her starboard side, which threatened to fry everything. As the Zabrak steered away from the looming gravity well, she tried desperately to stay focused. Thusak was dead. Many pilots on her side had been destroyed or had simply fled. The Ascendant Clan’s assault had done a number on her fleet, and now she needed reinforcements.

She had to reach somebody. Ordam, preferably. The woman had been instrumental in Kel Zar’s attempts to free Plagueis’s slaves, though of course, such efforts had been fruitless. Perhaps she could help again. Pressing several buttons in rapid succession, Kel Zar exhaled in both shock and relief as the appropriate lights bloomed back to life, and a shaky, shuttering hologram of the Nautolan appeared before her.

“Ghafa! Thank the stars! I need you to - ”

“Don’t bother, Kel. I’m not interested in getting involved with your petty vendetta.”

Kel Zar blinked slowly, letting a heavy and palpable silence linger in the air like a bad smell. She stared at the tiny silhouette of her superior in a daze. “Petty vendetta? I’m under siege by Brotherhood forces!”

“I know,” replied Ordam. “And I told you to leave it. We’re still recouping our losses after their strike on the Thuvis Shipyards. We have their Deputy Grand Master, and while we’ve been plotting, you’ve been zipping around like a chicken with its head cut off. Of course you’re under siege, you horned fool - you invited it. And now you’re paying for it.”

“Ordam,” Kel Zar. “For the love of everything, I need back-up.”

“Save your breath, Kel. We’re not coming.” The words stabbed at the Zabrak’s head and chest. “We have more important things to tend to than blindly throwing punches at a clan. Do yourself a favor - head back to base, or do something better with your time. I’m out.”

“Wait. Please.

And she got nothing but dead air.

Just nearby, a Firespray-31-class Interceptor zipped toward the Respite’s port side, and with a few concise shots, it ripped a neat yet pronounced hole in its flank. Kel Zar swore wildly, shrieking with eyes blazing as she attempted to right her course. In the Firespray, the manic gaze of a Chiss signified a desire to finish the job. Brimstone was ready for the kill.

The comm system went haywire in the cockpit, and for a few seconds, Kel Zar’s ship accidentally intercepted a signal from the assaulting ship. “Scream, this is Nehso Retan’ci. I have Kel Zar’s vessel in my sights. I’m going to - ”

No!” bellowed the Zabrak to the air, and with a lucky stretch of her arm, she activated the hyperdrive just before it could be cooked.

The stars began to stretch out into angry white streamers in front of her. Kel Zar stared at them aggressively, lips pulled tight, veins pulsing in her forehead. That was the way it was? Fine, then. To hell with you, Ghafa Ordam. And to hell with you, Rath Oligard. To hell with the whole ridiculous organization. If they wouldn’t take her mission against Plagueis seriously, then she’d find others who would.

She didn’t need the Collective. Not anymore.

All right, suckers, she thought to herself. Be back in a few.

Then the vacuum of hyperspace swallowed her up, and she was gone.