A read-only archive of discourse.darkjedibrotherhood.com as of Sunday May 01, 2022.

[CSP/CNS] Shattered Ties


Ridge Line
Remote Valley

They walked in silence, neither willing to break its grip. The frosted ground crunched ever so softly with each footfall as they made their way along the ridgeline. The early morning sunlight was finally cracking over the horizon, illuminating the sparkling wonder of the crystalline planet. The snow had finally stopped, coating the ground with even more reflective brilliance. Their breath hung thick in the cold air before them, a buffer to add to the silence.

It was the Sadowan who finally broke the silence, letting out an annoyed sigh.

“Of course it had to be a cold planet. Can never be someplace nice,” Aul Celsus spoke softly. He scanned the valley below them, watchful eyes looking for any signs of motion, of life.

“Well, could be worse, at least the snow stopped,” Zehsaa Hysh replied. She gave a slight shiver and pulled her cloak tight, then mirrored Aul’s scanning of the valley.

The forces of Naga Sadow and Scholae Palatinae were unable to use their customary methods of attack. This remnant of the Red Fury Pirates had picked a planet that was actually inhabited. No storming Star Destroyers to glass the valley here. This meant no Star Destroyers, no military convoy, no speeders. They had to go in on foot, the good old fashion way. Both clans had sent a representative up the side of the valley to scout out the easiest route across the maze-like valley. They knew the pirates had gone to ground there, but not their exact coordinates. The clans were bound to meet heavy resistance.

Aul pointed toward the far side of the valley. Built into the slope of the mountain there was a glimmer of light that clashed with the surrounding terrain. It was well hidden. If they hadn’t been looking for it, they never would have noticed.

“There it is.”

Zehsaa pulled out a pair of macrobinoculars and honed in on the shimmering object. It was some sort of man-made structure, possibly a hangar bay. She nodded to Aul who in turn brought up his comm.

“We have located the enemy base. Assessing route.”

This is when Aul shot Zehsaa a quick glance when she did the same, realizing for the first time that they were not sharing a comm frequency. He grit his teeth and glared. Could he truly trust this new partner?

Unlike their clanmates, neither Aul or Zehsaa harbored the pressing need to hunt down and kill the pirates. Neither truly understood the sudden rush to action when the locations of new Red Fury bases were outed. A sudden frenzy had surged through both Naga Sadow and Scholae Palatinae upon this revelation. In a matter of months, a joint clan venture had been organized. Yet, standing there upon the mountain top, they felt something call to them in the Force.

For a single moment, Human and Togrutan forgot their differences. What they felt in the Force united them. The flow of the Force through them was colder than the wind biting into their skin, more real than their own heartbeats. They did not know how, they did not know why, but they knew that within that pirate base lay great power. Artifacts. Treasure. It beckoned them.

It was there for the taking, if only they were willing to pay the price of blood.

The Jubilation
High Capacity Cargo Freighter
Mygeeto system

The ship moaned and creaked as the two ships docked. The Jubilation was old, rank and rusty, and completely unassuming drifting quietly in the void of the system. More importantly, it was neutral ground.

The governing forces of Mygeeto would pay no attention to a ship this far from the planet, a small blip of metal in their scanners. It was here that the leaders of Clans Naga Sadow and Scholae Palatinae had decided to oversee the joint venture. For months they had led operations across the galaxy in their quest to finish their lasting and permanent vengeance upon the pirate group. Retribution was at hand. Below them, hidden within a valley, stood the last bastion of the Red Fury pirates.

The revelation that the stronghold housed valuable Force-imbued artifacts had changed everything, and forced the Clans to tighten their cooperation. The artifacts hidden below were far beyond the comprehension of petty pirates, but in the hands of the two Clans, their power would be immense.

They met in a cargo pod in the middle of the ship. Locke Sonjie and Sanguinius Tsucyra Entar, took their seats on one side of the table and eyed the data feeds that had been installed along the walls. In between the feeds stood several of their men, interspersed with Palatinaean storm troopers. Seated across from them was an individual they had heard stories about, but never had the occasion to meet in the flesh. The wild, one-eyed gaze of the Black Hand himself, Cyris Oscura, never left the Sadowan Consul and Proconsul. The Palatinaean forces that came with Cyris stood unmoving, faces hidden beneath reflective, white helmets.

“Xen’Mordin felt that he is above such showings?” The displeasure on Locke’s face was apparent. Cyris smirked.

“The Emperor has faith that all will occur according to plan,” Cyris responded with a soft boom to his voice. Locke and Sang’s reply was cut short by the voice of Zehsaa, followed shortly by Aul coming over the comms. The live feed from their location appeared on screen. Atop the table, a holographic reproduction of the valley slowly materialized.

Sang sunk back in his seat as he sighed, “I expected more.” There were few geographical obstacles that posed a threat on approach to the base. There were no guard towers, no defensive outposts.

“At least it will be fast,” Locke added, still appraising the looming Palatinaean Proconsul sitting across from him.

“A blood bath,” Cyris mused. He pressed a sharp, bony prosthetic finger on his comm, alerting Aul and Zehsaa to rendezvous with the Clans’ forces at the mouth of the valley.

And so it began.


Inner Corridors
Red Fury Pirate Base

They were deep inside the pirate stronghold now. The pirates were fleeing into the wilderness, those that had survived the massacre at least. It would not be long before the pirates were fully brought to heel. It was the cache of artifacts they possessed that remained elusive. It had to be somewhere in the base - every vehicle that had attempted escape had been boarded and searched.

Dyrra and her companion had been sent to investigate a part of the base that emanated unique power readings. If it was not the location of the artifacts, it might be something that would lead them to it.

She was still unsure of her companion. Dek Rott appeared to be one of the better slicers in the Brotherhood’s ranks. While his ego had been a little irritating, he had been very helpful in getting them through the pirate’s security doors.

As if sensing what she was thinking, the Duros Mystic spoke. "I’ve never been a fan of working in teams, " he said, “especially with someone from another Clan, but I must admit it’s nice having someone around to kill things so I don’t have to.”

Dyrra gave him a wry smile as they came to another doorway. “I’m glad I could be of service. Your “magic” with the doors and things is pretty helpful as well.” She caught a hint of a smile on the man’s lips, before it disappeared. She wasn’t sure how Duros expressed happiness, but that seemed like all she was going to get.

The door slid open, revealing a unique room beyond. It hummed with the sound of servers and computer banks. A dozen screens lined the walls, all mounted in different ways, as if set up by a dozen different people. The computer banks were arranged in an equally haphazard way, as if they had been hauled in here and hooked up without any attempt at organization. It was all unmistakably pirate - the work of beings who cared little for appearances, and only for functionality.

“Think we can find something about those artifacts in here?” Dyrra asked.

“Of course,” Dek said. “As long as you keep me from getting killed.”

"Oh, I’m not sure how long I can keep that up, " Dyrra replied with a hint of sarcasm.

As Dek drifted into the room and began exploring, Dyrra took up a position near the door. It was the only way into the room, so if they were going to be threatened, it would have to come from that way. She had her lightsaber off and leaned against a server just inside the doorway. Dek was far inside; no one would see him until well past here.

Someone did come then. Two pirates cautiously crept toward the room. They had noticed that the door was open - which it should not be - but had not spotted Dyrra or Dek. She waited patiently as they approached, noting their appearance - one Twi’lek, one Zabrak. When they reached the doorway, Dyrra leaped out.

Her fist connected with the Twi’lek’s jaw, followed by her knee in his chest. The Zabrak had no time to respond himself, having just barely raised his blaster before Dyrra knocked it out of his hands. Her kick sent him to the ground as well. Both beings groaned quietly.

Dek looked up from what appeared to be a mass of wires and a blinking datapad screen. “What was that?” he asked.

“Just some stragglers. Have you found anything yet?”

"No, " Dek began, then looked at his datapad. “Yes, I think this shows where the artifacts are kept.”

"Great, " Dyrra said, “now we can get out of here and tell the others.”

The Jubilation
High Capacity Cargo Freighter
Mygeeto system

Cheers and applause filled the cargo pod. Their victory was complete. Red Fury was no more. For two hours, all eyes had been riveted to the data feeds, scrutinizing every second of footage as their ground troops made their final push into the pirate stronghold. Earsplitting silence had filled the pod when the time came to secure the cache of artifacts, a tense moment that would make or break this alliance. The tension was palpable. That was the ultimate test, an event that had the potential to secure a lasting truce between the two clans.

All had gone according to plan. Working as one, Naga Sadow and Scholae Palatinae formed a battering ram. Crashing through the enemy stronghold, they swiftly captured the vault. While two squads formed a defensive perimeter around the cache, the rest swept out through the base to wipe out all remaining resistance.

Locke slapped his hand down on the table with a cheer of his own. Sanguinius sank back in his seat with a drawn out sigh that could only mean relief. Many of the standing guards waved their fists through the air, shouting with pride. Palatinaean diplomats exchanged handshakes and embraced their Sadowan counterparts.

One person remained unaffected by this victorious moment.

The Black Hand simply stood at the back of the room as he had for the better part of the last hour, his one eye closed. There was nary a hint of emotion on his face. Only the occasional blip from his robes’ diagnostics system could be heard from him.

Locke stood and called upon the reclusive man with an outstretched hand, “Join us, Black Hand! This is proof that past animosity can finally be put to rest. It’s time for our Clans to unite and form a thriving force within the Dark Brotherhood.”

One piercing yellow eye opened, ripe with malice.

“This victory means little to me, Consul. You have upheld that which you pledged, as has Clan Scholae Palatinae,” Oscura explained, his arms stretched out at his sides as he stepped forward, “But I assure you that the Emperor is forever grateful.”

Locke’s good humor faltered for only a moment. He gave the Palatinaean Proconsul a hard smile, one only a veteran soldier could muster before an enemy. He was about to speak, but Oscura interrupted.

“However…” Oscura began, his deep voice underlined by the sound of blasters charging up throughout the room, “This alliance comes to an end.”

Sang pushed out of his seat as he barked, “What is the meaning of this?”

One of Scholae Palatinae’s diplomats darted across the chamber, imploring their leader to stop this foolishness. The fool was the first to be shot down by a storm trooper. Sheer madness exploded through the cargo pod as blaster fire and lightsaber blades shot to life. Bodies fell to the durasteel floor as the deafening shriek of countless blasters filled the chamber. Through the chaos, Sanguinius noticed the Black Hand slipping out of the pod. With a flick of his hand, the treacherous Sith sealed the chamber.

The Force called upon Sang, bidding him to turn his attention to a cylindrical tube suddenly revving up at the center of the room: a Thermal Imploder. The blinking green lights along the device turned red. The Sadowan Proconsul threw himself against his Consul.

The air within the chamber compressed around them and a wave of fire erupted from the metal device. The wave rushed outwards and back inwards toward the tube. A searing bright light swallowed Palatinaean and Sadowan alike.

Inner Corridors
Red Fury Pirate Base

They had no opportunity to celebrate their victory. In fact, they had not yet received an official confirmation that their mission was over when the call came. Oscura’s voice boomed in Blade Ta’var’s earpiece. The Zeltron cringed, only having interacted with her Proconsul on a limited few occasions. She could not help it. She had a bad feeling about him.

“All Naga Sadow operatives are to be exterminated without hesitation,” the Black Hand ordered with no forewarning.

Blade did not react instantly. She could not. Her hand casually slipped closer to the lightsaber hanging from her belt, but she did not grip it just yet. She looked over to her partner and ally. Lilith Stormwind was a woman of honor the likes of which Blade had not known before within the Dark Brotherhood. Despite a rocky start and some inter-clan animosity, the pair had shaped a strong bond. After several weeks of missions and debriefings, they had come to trust and rely on one another.

She did not deserve to die, yet, Oscura’s orders had been clear: no hesitation.

Damnit, what is this madman thinking, Blade pondered in sheer disbelief, anxiety rising fast within her.

Lilith stiffened suddenly. The middle-aged woman had her back to Blade, but the motion of her hand told the Palatinaean all that she needed to know. Lilith had just received an order… or was it a warning? Yet, the Sadowan Knight did not make a move. Indeed, they both stood as frozen as the crystalline tundra outside. Even as they unhinged their lightsabers, even as their blades shot to life in near synchronization, neither took a step.

Blade could feel her heart pounding in her chest.

“Did you know?” Lilith’s biting words were as sharp as a dagger to Blade. Through thick and thin, Lilith had always managed to keep an upbeat, positive attitude. To hear such words from her mouth destabilized Blade further. Lilith turned. Blade found sadness in the human’s traits.

“I swear to you, I did not,” the Zetron said, “I… I don’t understand what is happening!”

Their eyes were locked, yellow-green onto crystal-blue. Blade became all too aware of just how heavily both she and the human were breathing. To her surprise, Lilith’s blue blade died out.

“I have no wish to fight you, Blade.” Lilith returned the hilt to her belt as she spoke. “And I believe you do not wish to fight me.”

Blade’s hand tightened around her lightsaber. She nearly launched herself forward, but ultimately she too disabled her weapon. All too eager to put some distance between them, she turned her back on Lilith. What the hell was happening? All had been going according to plan!

She stopped in her tracks just short of the exit to warn her former ally, “Leave, Lilith. The next time we meet I will have no such choice.”

A sudden tremor rocked the Red Fury compound. Lilith took the opportunity to disappear. Blade did the same, her mind a hurricane of frantic questions. She could not believe the Emperor would risk this coalition for a cache of artifacts. Could the pirates have overlooked something more valuable? But what could possibly be so important that they would sacrifice this crucial alliance over? No. No, it has to be Oscura’s doing…

Red Fury Pirate Base

Anigrel surveyed the hangar and the damage they had done. He eyed the Palatinaean with him. Landon Cruise had been straightforward and enthusiastic about their mission. That was nice if for no other reason than that it was predictable. After so many mad Dark Jedi, Landon’s devotion to the mission was a breath of fresh air. He wasn’t likely to deviate from the current mission to pursue his own goals.

In front of them, the remains of two shuttles laid in a smoking ruin. Judging by the schematics that they had been given, these were the only ships remaining in the base. If that were true, the remaining pirates had just lost their last possible means of escape. Elsewhere, the combined Palatinaean and Sadowan forces were already securing the artifacts that were the prize of this mission.

"That went well, " Anigrel said. “This alliance thing isn’t so bad.”

“Agreed,” Landon said. “Though it almost makes it too easy. Hold up, message incoming.”

Anigrel continued to survey the wreckage as Landon listened through his comlink. Soon the man finished his call and looked at Anigrel, this time uncharacteristically quiet.

“Well, what is it?” the Sadowan asked. Landon wore a look of grim determination that had not been there a moment ago. There was only a minor twinge in the Force before the Savant was close enough and threw a punch, aiming for Anigrel’s head. The Sadowan attempted to defend himself, but Landon was strong - and fast. Instead, Anigrel somersaulted backward, widening the gap between himself and the other man considerably.

What is he thinking? Anigrel wondered. Had the man completely lost his mind?

No, Anigrel thought back on all of their experiences together. Landon had never questioned an order; he had never failed to dedicate himself fully to any of their assigned goals. He must have been commanded to attack Anigrel. But why?

The Sadowan barely had time to notice his own comlink beeping. He pulled the blaster pistol from its spot at his holster. He had to distract Landon and gain a few moments to think. Anigrel quickly scanned the hangar, spotting a cluster of fuel barrels near the shuttles. If he could get it near Landon, he could use that to his advantage.

The Palatinaean kept coming, leaping forward. Anigrel felt the Force surge within the other man. He dived away as a blast of telekinetic Force energy went through the space he had just been in. As Landon recovered and turned toward Anigrel, the Sadowan scrambled backward, underneath the wing of one of the damaged shuttles and to the other side. He could still see the fuel tanks beyond.

With no other option, Anigrel fired his blaster at the tanks repeatedly.

They blossomed in a fireball that engulfed both shuttles, dwarfing the damage they had caused before. It filled the hangar with such heat and light that Anigrel had to turn away for a moment. When he was able to see again, a large part of one of the shuttles was collapsing near where Landon had been. Anigrel didn’t think that would kill him so easily, but it did give him time to think.

Now he had a choice: he could stay and fight, or he could find out what in the nine hells was going on. Finally, Anigrel stood up and entered one of the side corridors, finally answering his comlink. The message coming through verified his fears, but it also filled him with a burning anger.

Landon jumped away from the explosion. He watched as it subsided, waiting for Anigrel to emerge. He had enjoyed working with Anigrel - perhaps even seen him as a friend, but the Black Hand had commanded that the Sadowans be killed, and that made Anigrel a target.

He sensed that the other man had left the hangar. That was no matter, he would track him down.

By the Emperor’s will, the Sadowans would die.

The Jubilation
High Capacity Cargo Freighter
Mygeeto system

“How could they do this?” Locke said, his voice ice. “How could they throw away what we had like this?”

“The dark side…” Sang said, with the kind of foreboding tone only a Jedi could perfect.

“The dark side? The dark side will bury Scholae Palatinae!”

They walked along a corridor of the cargo ship, heading for one of the docking arms. Alarms blared through the hallway, adding another irritant to an already frustrating situation. Two Warhost soldiers who had survived the blast followed, one limping. He had offered to stay behind, but Locke had insisted he would be fine. As angry as he was, he did not think he could have healed the man’s injury.

"Call in all of our forces: Jedi, Sith, bounty hunters - we will make Scholae pay for this.

"Revenge will not serve us, " Sang said.

Locke sighed as they reached an intersection. “Sang…” he began.

"But they must not be allowed to think they can get away with this, " the Jedi continued.

“Agreed,” Locke said.

“That out of the way, have you thought about how we’re going to get off this ship?”

As if to punctuate his words, a voice repeated a variation on the message they had already heard so many times. Hull breach detected…oxygen levels dropping…five standard minutes left.

“I figured I’d fly us out.”

“With what?”

That was a good point. Cyris had likely taken his vessel, and probably destroyed theirs to ensure they couldn’t escape. “I’m sure someone saw that explosion.”

As if to punctuate his words, a nearby docking clamp shuttered as something attached to it. If that was Palatinaean, Locke would let himself enjoy the opportunity to kill one of their members. They would pay for this transgression, revenge or not. The Brotherhood could be so much more than it was - if not for the petty scheming of those like the so-called Black Hand. “Bloody Sith,” he growled.

The inner airlock door opened, revealing a squad of soldiers wearing familiar Warhost uniforms, a a man wearing armor that wore the emblem of the Lion on his shoulder. He threw back his hood, and Locke saw that it was Mactire, the leader of Sapphire Squadron.

“I hope you have good news,” Locke said, at the same time as Sang said “glad you’re here.” Locke always envisioned himself as knowing when to say the right thing at the right time - and usually he did, but currently, his mind was elsewhere.

“Yes, thank you. How did you get here?” He hoped Mactire wouldn’t go through that “my Consul” business. If he decided to be formal at a time like this…

“There was the explosion, then the Palatinaeans leaving. They destroyed your shuttle on their way out. It seems they betrayed us.” Mactire’s expression didn’t seem very surprised. Perhaps he had reasoned out the possibility of this. It had always been a possibility, but Locke thought this was one Clan who had risen above their petty squabbling.

“Indeed, we need to warn the others. We have planning to do.”
“There’s something else,” Mactire added. “The artifact cache we recovered was dislodged in the explosion. The cargo pod containing it is falling toward the surface and is likely to crash into one of the abandoned cities we saw during our reconnaissance.”

“Then Scholae will be searching for it, and we must as well.”

With that, the three entered the shuttle and left the dying cargo ship behind.

They had a war to plan.

Deep Space
Unknown Coordinates
NSD Dark Paladin

In deep orbit, beyond the concern of Mygeeto governments, a Lambda shuttle landed within the belly of the Dark Paladin, Clan Scholae Palatinae’s flagship. Fumes shot out from the craft’s stabilizers as its landing gear met the cold durateel of the landing bay. With a hiss, its ramp began its descent, slowly ending on the floor with a resounding thud. The Black Hand strode down the ramp, hands behind his back, as he spoke with the two officers that flanked him.

“That will be all, Lieutenant. Your concerns are insignificant to me,” growled the Proconsul.

At these words, the officers stopped in their tracks, allowing Cyris Oscura carry on alone and turn his mind elsewhere. As he moved past the rank and file lined up to greet him, he could sense their confusion like a reeling tsunami of uncertainty. Their bewilderment had been foreseen, as was their inner turmoil. He was well aware that many of Scholae Palatinae’s members hated him as much as—if not more than—they feared him. To be thrust in such an explosive situation without forewarning would only deepen those emotions.

All eyes were turned upon him and glistening with expectation when the Black Hand stepped onto the command bridge.

“ Ensure that my orders are followed on Mygeeto. Full support is to be given to our troops. Monitor and report all Sadowan activity,” he spat.

Again, confusion hung thick in the Force, but this time he also felt their disappointment. The answers they so craved would not given so freely.

In time, all would becoming clear.

Oscura stared out into the darkness of space, his eyes riveted on the minuscule shimmering orb that was Mygeeto. He too had long questioned the very purpose of these plans, yet the dark side of the Force spoke to him, bid him to see this through to the end, no matter the cost.

A machiavellian smile ripped across his disfigured features.

At last, it has begun.


Main Entrance
Red Fury Base
The dead littered the ground. Sadowan, Palatinaean, Soldiers, Sith. They made the top most obvious layers. Beneath their bodies were that of the pirates who had been taken unawares and killed in short order. For the moment the entrance was quiet, but it was a mere lull that belied the combat enduring inside and around the base.

Delak Krennel stepped over another body, boots squelching in the thick drying blood on the floor. The light of his lightsaber illuminated the faces of the dead. Some he had known for years. Others meant little to him, or worse, fed the seething darkness in his heart. The base lay ruins around him, drenched in darkness. Only the crimson light of his blade and a distance, recurring shower of sparks lit his way. No artifact remained, not a one. He knew not where they had wound up. In all likelihood, some were in control of his clanmates; the rest in the hands of their enemies.

His orders had been clear and precise. This was the one thing he could cling to throughout this farce. His superiors offered no reason for their actions, but at least their orders did not allow for interpretation. Do this. Achieve that. This was his final pass through the Red Fury base before regrouping with the rest of their troops. Nearby, a Chiss rookie by the name of Johnny Blackhurs hunched over a body and rolled it over.

Blackhurs smiled as he said, “Yes, this’ll do nicely.” The new guy pocketed some bauble before he turned to his superior. Whatever it might have been, it did not resonate with Force. Krennel gave it no further thought.

“Sir, I don’t think there is anything else for us to find here.”

Delak closed his eyes and reached out with the Force, probing the dark halls around them one last time. Nothing. Not a lick. Days before, the halls had been a bonfire in the Force. Not one ember remained now.

“Time to rendezvous with the others. This is war is far from over. There is noth-” Delak stopped, the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. There was that familiar tingle in his soul. He jumped, tackling Johnny to the ground. They hit it hard as streaks of red flew above them, right where they had been standing. Delak rolled off the Chiss and propped up behind some of the corpses on the ground.

Stragglers. The Sadowan soldiers emerged from the darkness, blasters firing. Delak grabbed his own E-11 from its holster, angry that he had not sensed them. With a growl, he blind fired from cover. To his surprise, return fire whizzed over him from the opposite direction. Silence fell over the entrance again.

“We need to get moving,” a hulking shadow, a broad, towering silhouette in the darkness. Archangel, flanked with a dozen men, reached down and offered a hand to Delak. In one swift motion, he hoisted the Warrior to his feet. One trooper did the same to Johnny.

4 Kilometers from Kasador
Brockton Zelroth was alive. At least, he hoped that he was. Death could not possibly be so painful. His eyes opened slightly, the tiny slit allowing in the harsh light of the afternoon sun. His head was pounding, blood fighting the pull of gravity from his brain to the rest of his head. He attempted to breath, but only took in a lung full of smoke. It was painful and far too heavy, but he managed to raise one arm. He tried to release the belts that held him in place. Once. Twice. The blood drenching his shaking hands made the task far harder than it had to be. Finally, the buckle clicked and the straps loosened around his shoulders.

He pushed up. His head slammed into the transport’s roof with a dull thud. At that moment, Brockton almost wished he’d died. Moving was far too painful. It would have been so much easier. Suddenly, it dawned on him. He remembered what had happened. He shot upright with a start.

Twelve hours before, it had been an evening like any other. Brockton, young and brash had had finally been bonding with his crewmates. The Red Fury - pirates, vagabonds, and filthy to the bone - had opened up to him. Six months of being the butt of the joke, as the punching bag, had finally paid off. He was one of them.

And then they came.

Brockton was no stranger to combat, growing up an orphan in the outer rim meant you had to know how to defend yourself. He had participated in his own fair share of reaving in the last six months as well. But nothing had prepared him for what came. An unstoppable wave of battle-hardened soldiers marched through their valley and up to their very front door. Among soldiers, was something he never thought he would see, lightsaber wielders. He’d heard of Jedi as any one had. Stories. Legends. He’d even seen a lightsaber once, an old battered thing that had blown up when a companion tried to activate it. But to face one… Who on Mustafar were these people?

They had swarmed their base without mercy. Everyone Brockton knew was dead. Someway, somehow, he had survived. He knew it had nothing to do with skill. Pure, unabated luck struck when the attackers turned on one another. Driven by instinct, he’d fled on one of those broken down hunkards in the docking bay. He’d had no options left. He rocketed out of the base, but he was no pilot. Sparking and flaming, he nosedived just outside one of the populated cities. He didn’t know which one it was, in fact that mattered little, but he knew he needed to get to it.

He needed to warn them.

Maintenance Corridor 11C-19
Red Fury Base
Betrayal seemed to be a common theme amongst the Brotherhood. The Clans constantly jockeying for position to be the most powerful. For many years, Taldryan had lorded it over the others. More recently, it had been Arcona leaving the others fighting for the scraps.

Darkblade was furious at the Palatinaeans, but didn’t expect any better from them. The so called heirs to the Empire were constantly stabbing their erstwhile allies in the back. Why Locke and Sanguinius had trusted them in the first place was baffling to the Anzat. The Quaestor had been with his clanmates on Mygeeto, leading his House to secure the prize. Warhost troopers had accompanied them, the well trained soldiers had fought alongside the Sadowans for years now and knew how to handle themselves well.

When the betrayal had come, Darkblade had been savouring victory, with prisoners ripe for him to feed on. The process disgusted his peers and underlings, yet the Anzat had savoured the terror emanating from their captives. He had been interrupted by an extremely rude Palatinaean Sith who had attacked him while their stormtroopers had turned their blasters on the Warhost. The man assaulting him had died, but not before he had supped on his brain soup. The men and women with him, though surprised, acted coolly and professionally, diving for cover and cutting down their former allies.

Blaster fire and screams had echoed through the base as ally turned upon ally and blood was spilt once more. Violence was a common occurrence for those within the Brotherhood and death constantly haunted them.

Darkblade had counterattacked, gathering stragglers to his group. The former Rollmaster, Marcus Kiriyu and the energetic Qyreia had joined up with the Seeker. Together, they would make the Palatinaeans pay for their actions. Then they would take the damn artifacts and shove them up Xen’s behind as punishment.

City Entrance 4B
Kasador didn’t appear anything like a bustling metropolis from a distance. It looked like the ruins of a long dead civilization. There were the occasional speeders, a few buildings with clear activity, but the place looked more like an outpost than a bona fide city. Brockton Zelroth remembered this place. From the surface, you could never tell the secrets that Kasador hid. The real city, the wealthy city, sat beneath the surface. Secure beneath the crystalline earth, a dozen primary tunnels formed a ring around the urban center, branching towards its core.

Brockton ran at a pace only the promise of death could motivate. The pain was real, but distant, a echo across a great valley. Fear drove him on. They were dead. All of his new friends were dead. If they were being attacked there on Mygeeto, where could safe harbor possibly lie? He knew it was over for the Red Fury, but he had to look to himself now. His one hope lay in civilization and the safety provided by the lawmen and soldiers of Kasador.

The Muun that ran the great banking city had taken security very seriously. Security in the great banking city was a priority. The Red Fury had learned that the hard way before. Divided in narrow precincts, there were guard stations all over Kasador. It would not be difficult to find lawmen there.They were posted at every entrance. But such was Brockton’s panic that he didn’t even slow down upon seeing them. He crashed into one of their officers, sending them both to the ground.

“What the hell was…” The officer snapped. He cut off when his eyes locked on Brockton’s blood soaked jumpsuit. His narrowed eyes were clear, he recognized the suit for what it was: Red Fury. A stun baton sparked to life but the officer held back. Perhaps it was the blood or the agreement between the pirates and the Muun. In exchange for a hefty sum, the Muun had allowed the Red Fury to establish a base on the planet, so long as they stayed out of populated areas.

Brockton took several deep breaths before managing to force a handful of words out.

“Jedi. Base. Slaughter.”

There was disbelief in the officer’s stare, but Brockton knew that his own state confirmed something had happened. The man snatched up his commlink. The base was far too close for the lawman to dismiss a possible threat, even something as preposterous as Jedi.

2 Kilometers from Red Fury Base
The ambushed had forced the convoy to a screeching halt. In seconds, countless men were blown apart, leaving the cases of artifacts unguarded. There was a dull crunch as Mune’s mask planted in the snow. He made to reach for it but pushed it out of his mind. A first bolt whistled by him as he deflected the rest of the barrage with a whirl of his violet blade. He had been so sure. With the base behind them, they had had to be clear of fighting. Tasked with extracting the artifacts, he’d even taken a detour to ensure they would avoid any Sadowan troops. No dice. The game was shifting, he could sense it. He managed to block another salvo even as he watched more of his men gunned down. He ducked for cover between crystal growths, grateful for the natural defense they offered.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a shadow. He spun, redirecting a blast bolt into the Sadowan who’d foolishly given his position away. Calling upon the Force, Mune cocked down and launched upwards. Landing atop of one of the giant crystals. He slid down its sharp decline, his lightsaber was in constant motion. At least he was drawing fire away from his surviving men. As he reached the bottom of the crystal, he dashed forward, cutting through the throng of enemy soldiers that surrounded them. From the corner of his eyes, he glimpsed Reiden Karr leading the counterstrike proudly with blue lightsaber ablaze.

The last Sadowan fell, and Mune realized what had felt so off about the situation. He sifted through his dead enemies. A handful of Sadowan soldiers, some scouts, but not a single force user was amongst them. These were just frontline grunts sent only to hinder them, not stop them. He ran back down to the convoy. Several of his men stirred, wounded but thankfully alive. Those that remained motionless would be left behind. Mune had to see the mission to the end.

“Gather the carts, pick this one back up,” Mune ordered, slamming a hand against the side of one upturned container. There was a crackle of static as he summoned his white mask out of the snow and into his grip. He paused, the mask inches from his face when Reiden appeared at his side, his comm in hand.

“You need to hear this.”

Forward Command Point
Near the City of Kasador
Locke was already tired of this wind. It howled through the all-weather tent the Clan had set up to house their command staff. Snow was blasted inside occasionally, causing a light layer of it to settle across datapad screens and supplies. The tent itself barely stood up, as if it would give way at any moment. It creaked and shuddered as the wind buffeted it. This place made Tarthos seem like a paradise.

“How goes the battle?” Locke asked, shouting to be heard. Even inside the tent, it was still difficult to hear.

"It’s difficult to say, " Sang answered. “But we have more reports of the Palatinae recovering artifacts than our own people.”

“Dammit,” Locke answered. “These Imperials are far too organized. It’s time we surprise them for once.”

“But how?” Sang wondered aloud.

A moment later, a tent flap was pulled back briefly, allowing a single individual to enter, as well as a snow flurry and a biting wave of cold air. A gaunt-faced Umbaran stood there, dusting snow from his shoulders.

“Armad, you have news?” Locke asked.

The Battlemaster nodded. “We have new contacts approaching from beyond the pirate base.”

“Enemy reinforcements?” Locke asked.

“It doesn’t seem likely. Our scouts got a glimpse and they seem to be locals. They were approaching in speederbikes and snowspeeders that all had a uniform emblem and design. Everything seems to indicate that they are local authorities, likely from the nearby city. Kasador, I think.”

“Kasador,” Locke growled, thinking, just as Sang said “thank you Armad.”

“This could help us,” the Jedi said. “These authorities will likely see this conflict as a dispute between pirates. They’ll attack both Clans in the pirate base.”

“Yes,” Locke agreed, “but if they see lightsabers and Force powers, we’re going to have a lot more issues to deal with.”

“True,” Sang said, “we will have to inform our members to be more careful. We can only hope the Palatinae are smart enough to do the same.”

“Indeed,” Locke agreed. "Inform the Clan to move to this city, and of the authorities approach. They should take any artifacts they have already recovered. We will use the city’s terrain and the approach of these authorities to regroup and strike back.

“And if anyone must use their Jedi abilities in combat, they had better be sure their enemy will be dead and no one else will see to report back. I’ll have the head of anyone who exposes us, without question.”

He would not enjoy giving that order, but safeguarding the Brotherhood’s existence was extremely important. They still weren’t a match for the First Order or Resistance. Either might be interested in reports of lightsaber-wielding Force users in the outer rim.

Locke looked around. “We don’t have time to take all of this equipment, maybe we can destroy it with a few explosives…”

“With all due respect,” Armad said, “that would draw attention. I’m confident I can neutralize it in other ways. I’ll make sure no information can be recovered from them. To the authorities, this will be just a collection of junk leftover by pirates.”

“Good thinking,” Sang agreed.

“Yes,” Locke said. “Now, let’s get out of here, move to this city, and find a place to finish this fight.”

Icy wastelands north of Kasador
The cold sapped their strength, eating away at the warmth within them. Zachary felt it the most, the Savant drew his cloak around him and focused on the task at hand. Garbled orders had come over the comms, ordering the Sadowans into the city of Kasador to seek shelter and regroup. Armoured troops would be a pain to hide, but the Force Users could blend in more easily. Well, some of them anyway.

Zachary glanced over at his companion, Ophelia, the Aedile of Marka Ragnos sniffed the air, savouring the scents of sweat, blood and adrenaline. The Sithspawn had been altered, experimented on after a run in with Darth Ashen. The creature, for the lack of a better word, had relished the slaughter.

“We need to move, Ophelia.”

The deformed Sephi stared at her compatriot, her razor sharp teeth glistening as she smiled. “More death?” she enquired.

“I sincerely hope not.” Zachary replied.

The Raider looked crestfallen, “A shame, I was enjoying myself.”

Zachary’s reaction was distaste and revulsion at her words. Ophelia had never been the most friendly of Sadowans, but her transformation had made her worse than ever. The battle over the artifacts would move into Kasador where the shadows would hide them.

The kiffar moved with purpose. Many of them had taken to the city to avoid attention and capture. It was a good notion and a sound tactical move, but there was one problem. Most of them stood out in the crowds. They might as well have been wearing bright neon lights strapped to their backs. That wasn’t the case for him. Many of them had taken to the city to avoid attention and capture. It was a good notion and a sound tactical move, but there was one problem. Most of them stood out in the crowds. They might as well have been wearing bright neon lights strapped to their backs. That wasn’t the case for him.

In truth, this was a pleasant surprise for Jorm Na’trej. Those Imperium sticks in the mud would better suited to fight as rank and file. Standing here, in this city pulsing with life, was fun. Here, he could strive.He continued on his way, pausing now and again to adjust his coat, ensuring that he could draw his .48 Enforcer as quickly as possible should he need to.

It was clear that Scholae Palatinae needed to get off planet. The artifacts they had claimed were a good prize - dead Sadowans an added bonus -but Jorm would not settle for a job half done. All the artifacts should be theirs, should be his. And the Sadowans, they needed to die. They deserved to die.

He brushed by two police officers who were moving through the streets so close together they could have been a single individual. Their eyes were wide, suspicious of all they saw, so focused on looking, that they failed to see him lift one of their comms and stuff it into his pocket when he pushed by.

Now he would have all the intel he needed. He could be one step ahead of them, know what they knew. With that behind him, he turned his mind to the Sadowans. There was no way he was going to let them leave Mygeeto alive.

Blaster fire screamed around them, the bolts impacting upon the walls and ground. Scarlet was hunkered down behind a makeshift barricade, cradling a blaster pistol. Beside he were two Warhost troopers that had made it to Kasador with her. They hadn’t gone far into the underground city before they had been made out to be outsiders. Security forces had chased them into the under-warren network of back alleys.

The Zeltron had taken her orders seriously, the request by her Consul to not use her lightsaber was foremost in her mind. She had borrowed a blaster from a Palatinaean stormtrooper whom no longer needed it. The chase into the undercity had cost them one of her companions, Corporal Teepo had stayed to slow down their pursuers. He had bought them a couple of minutes, but the unfamiliar territory had found them trapped in a dead end.

Sergeant Uweol and Trooper Vand were beside her, firing back at the local authorities. “We won’t last long here, ma’am.” Uweol shouted over the sound of the blasters. “They’ll bring up heavy weapons soon.”

The Mystic’s mind ran through the possibilities ahead of them. Her skill with the Force lent itself to stealth. Drawing upon the power of the Force, she shrouded herself. Her sudden disappearance surprised Uweol and Vand.

“Where the feth did she go, Sarge?” demanded Vand.

“No clue, Vand.” Uweol replied, before returning fire once more.

“I’m here,” came the disembodied voice of the Zeltron, “Just blocking myself from view.”

Scarlet crawled out from behind the barricade, avoiding the blaster fire. Pushing herself up off the ground, she made her way along the alleyway towards their attackers, making her way slowly in order to avoid getting shot.

A series of explosions erupted in the group of peacekeepers. Smoke engulfed them, the fumes made them cough and splutter as it irritated their eyes ,noses and throats. Scarlet shielded herself from the smoke, the lack of wind within Kasador meant the smoke refused to dissipate. An armoured figure materialised, wielding a quarterstaff that they used to great effect. The staff smashed into the coughing officers. Scarlet watched as Darkhawk knocked out the last of the peacekeepers and began to advance down the corridor towards her.

He walked past her, the Force hiding Scarlet from view. Uweol and Vand rose up from behind the barricade, their rifles pointed at the Savant until they recognised him. “Sir, good to see you.”

“At ease, men. Good to see you too.” The Shadow preferred working alone, but when he had happened upon his fellow Sadowans, he couldn’t leave them to die or be captured. “Anyone else with you?”

“Yes,” said Scarlet as she let the cloak drop, appearing out of thin air. “Thank you for your assistance.”

Darkhawk whirled around and nodded at the Zeltron, “Good, let’s get out of here before anymore of the locals turn up. I was tracking some Palatinaeans who had some of the artifacts. We need to get them back.”

“Lead the way, then.” Scarlet gestured. The Mystic was determined to get out of this alive and crack some skulls along the way.



Explosions peppered the street, encompassing the road in smoke. Aul darted down the street, his trust in the Force leading him forward. The Knight had never believed in fighting for the sake of killing. It had frustrated his master, Darkblade, but this very mindset had led him to the finals of the recent Journeyman Tournament. There he had fought in front of hundreds, including the Dark Council. He had lost, to one of the Palatinaeans, but he had found a reason to fight. He fought for his brothers and sisters in Naga Sadow.

He would be there for them always.

Behind him came several Palatinaean stormtroopers. Spotting him, they produced their weapons and began firing at him, forcing the Dakhani into cover behind some still smoldering debris. The white-armored soldiers advanced on his position, their plasteel boots pounding upon ice and pavement. He sensed them in the Force, edging ever closer as they positioned themselves to flank him. A sly grin parted his lips as he pressed his back harder against the debris. Grabbing his com-link, the Knight clicked the transmit button three times in quick succession. His finger slipped off the button as he roared out of cover, dashing straight for the stormtroopers. Their first few shots missed the mark from surprise, but the well-trained warriors recovered just in time to see two Sadowans land in between them with lightsabers lashing out.

Lilith and Firith, husband and wife, both members of Aul’s Battleteam, Devil’s Shroud, fought alongside each other, covering their partner’s weak points as they wrecked havoc through the enemy lines. Aul’s lightsaber joined the caucus, carving deep into trademark white armor. Together, the three Knights made short work of the eight remaining Stormtroopers.

Pausing to gain their breath, good humor dancing on Aul’s features as he flashed a thumbs up at his companions. The plan had worked to perfection. The fight in Kasador had been fought up close. The enclosed underground city had limited the use of transports and the trio had been unable to locate the holocron they had long sought. Instead, they had been drawn into a game of hide and seek with deadly consequences for the loser.

The grey clouds from the smoke grenades lingered, a lack of a natural breeze preventing the gas from dissipating. Aul led Lilith and Firith forward along the road when a voice barked at them to halt. Kasador security personnel hurriedly took cover as a couple of security speeders followed them, their blaster cannons easily powerful enough to take out vehicles.

A voice boomed through the smoke, magnified by a loudspeaker. “I won’t say it again, throw down your weapons and surrender!”

Firith snorted in derision, “Who the feth do they think they’re talking to?”

“Well, they’ve got bigger guns than us” Lilith retorted.

“Yeah, I’m not going to argue with that.” Aul grinned, “Besides, we’ve got better things to do. Let’s scarper.”

The two Stormwinds nodded and bolted down a side alleyway. Aul quickly followed suitl. The Arcanist knew discretion was the better part of valour. No point getting killed when they could get the hell out of dodge. Nope, they were going to loop around and join back up with the main Warhost force.


Rosh spun, his lightsaber ripping through the torso of a Kasador security personnel. The Twi’lek fell wide-eyed, never once expecting a lightsaber to be his demise. The weapon snapped off, and was back in place on Rosh’s belt before the Twi’lek hit the ground. The Aedile was a man with purpose, one he was tired of being delayed. Each step was surefooted, bringing him closer to his goal.

Twice Rosh had been denied. He was not certain if it was fate, or dumb luck that had stopped him. But he was certain of one thing, this third time would see the Sadowan Proconsul Sanguinius dead. When the Naga Sadow Summit dropped to the planet to organize their forces’ defenses and capture of the pirate treasure, Rosh made this one task his personal goal. The last time Rosh had caught up with the Augur, he had managed to place a tracker. This was finally paying off. He eyed the flashing dot on the small handheld screen. His prey was close

Rosh turned down a side alley and broke into a sprint. Ahead, he heard blaster fire, followed by the periodic concussive boom of a grenade. Using his lightsaber to slice through the locks of a door, Rosh cut through a restaurant, packed with huddled civilians hoping to stay out of the firefight. He burst through the main entrance of the restaurant and found himself directly behind a small group of Sadowan soldiers. In the center of the group was his goal, Sang.

Sang became aware of him just in time to activate one of his lightsabers. Two of his soldiers fell to Rosh’s sweeping arc but the would-be assassin did not stop there. Digging his toes in, Rosh launched straight for the Sadowan Proconsul. Blades met and hissed but Rosh disengaged and dashed forth again. In a flurry of strikes and parries, Sanguinius defended himself, but was unable to defend his accompanying men. They fell one by one; collateral damage to Rosh’s fury.

Rosh was relentless. He knew sooner or later Sang would tire, and all he had to do was endure longer. He had to endure longer. He pressed his advantage, forcing the duel further down the nearly empty street. Down the road, several Sadowan forces ran through the intersection, followed closely by Palatinaeans. If the noise of the clashing lightsabers didn’t fill the air, the two would have heard the grinding of gears, and the missiles fired by the Kasador security tank.

The missile whizzed past its mark, instead, striking the street mere meters away from where Rosh and Sang battled. The force of the blast sent the pair flying through the air, landing hard, robes singed from the fireball. The tank rumbled forward, preparing to fire another shot. Rosh rolled to his stomach and gave himself a half push, half jump into the alley way to avoid the resulting blast. Behind him the wall of the building collapsed, closing off the entrance to the alleyway.

Fate once again had prevented him from completing his goal.

Time to go.


After once more unleashing her claws, the Sithspawn was capered in the blood. The once proud Sephi had fallen into shadow, the tide of war dragging her deeper yet. Ophelia’s allegiance to the One Sith had led her to trading blows with Darth Ashen, who had smashed her down without mercy and stripped her of the Force. Through experiments, the mad alchemist, Macron, had reconstructed her, twisted her. The ensuing results had been enough for Locke to censor his fellow Sons of Sadow, yet he had caught a glimpse of intelligence within Ophelia. Intelligence enough to allow the creature to stay on as Aedile. However, the heat of combat, the bloodthirst often overcame her conditioning and she relished death, even worshipped it.

Yet, not even her capacity for murder could not turn the tide of battle. It should have been a fight on three fronts, yet in the back alleys and warrens of streets, the frontlines were fluid and squads and individuals were often cut off and isolated.

Locke watched the holo-display of the proceedings change, noting the tide of battle. He had Malik with him, the Neti was a valuable asset to the Clan, his Battle Meditation was worth thirty veteran Equites alone. However, the situation was simply untenable. Locke glanced with frustration at the ever updating casualty list. Several squads had lost contact with command, and Naga Sadow’s Force-users were scattered in Kasador. There was no unified attack and the street to street fighting would only serve to bring attention from unwanted people like the Grand Master or, worse, the Galactic Republic.

No. It was high time to retreat and leave Mygeeto. The Sadowans had taken some treasures from the pirates and recovered some from the Palatinaean forces, but they had yet to recover the holocron. Despite his misgivings, Locke knew it was better to retreat than to overplay their hand. The consequences could prove too much to pay.

“Admiral Simonetti, I’m ordering a full scale evac from Mygeeto. All Warhost forces are to withdraw.” the Augur directed, his comlink active.

“At once, sir,” came the cool reply. The veteran Admiral had spent 10 years in the service of Naga Sadow. He’d seen it all and, clearly, little could surprise him. “Shuttles are en route.”

“Excellent, Admiral. I’ll see you aboard the Final Way soon.” Locke ended the call.

Turning to the Major commanding the Warhost Command Operation Centre, the Consul instructed that a full retreat be signalled across all Warhost frequency bands.

“Bring our men home, Major Lorne.” Locke instructed as he looked once again at the holo-display of the battle.


Kor Vaal limped along the silent street. It had been some hours since the combat that had so swiftly overtaken the city had moved on to other parts. Allowing himself one sigh of relief, he adjusted the bag strap that went over his shoulder.

“Should have grabbed lighter stuff,” he grumbled to himself before concluding with a string of curses.

His free hand gave a slight push on the goggles protecting his eyes, readjusting them to his vision. With a shrug of his shoulders, he continued towards the transport bay. He couldn’t wait to put this frigid hell of a planet behind him. As compensation, he would have some nice trophies to show off back on Judecca… assuming any of his closest friends and companions had survived or eluded capture.

Of course, the transport bay was on lockdown. Kor Vaal had expected this, given the chaos in the streets of the city. The security force wasn’t about to let those responsible walk free, certainly not with their lives. He dropped his bag with a thud and straightened up, stretching his shoulder in wide circular motions. He then approached the office visibly marked for bay security. The door was locked, but that wasn’t about to stop him. A flick of his lightsaber could have rectified this problem, but he opted for an alternative.

He knocked.

The door slid open.

“That you Tunot? Can you believe this poodoo? Look at these feeds!” The security guard said, without so much as casting a glance over his shoulder to the newcomer.

“Ah sorry… Not Tunot. No. But thank you for opening the door!” Kor Vaal said. Stepping forward, he slammed his open hand against the doors control panel. His lightsaber spat to life in sync with the door that shut behind him.

“Why don’t you tell me how to open the access doors here. Maybe then I’ll let you live.”

Minutes later, Kor Vaal stood assessing the ships in the transport bay, bag once again weighing down on his sore, blistered shoulders. He picked the one that looked like it would be the fastest, not knowing a thing about ships.

Now, he just needed to convince the pilot to take him to the Palatinaean fleet. He thumbed the lightsaber hilt hanging off his belt as he stepped onto the ship’s access ramp.

FFC Final Way
En-route to Orian System
Unknown Coordinates

The evacuation of Kasador had taken time. The bodies of Warhost troops had been recovered where possible in order to prevent the authorities from identifying and broadcasting any marks or identification that could reveal the Brotherhood or Naga Sadow. For all the chaos they had caused on Mygeeto, few would believe the involvement of those long forgotten “Jedi”… at least, until someone produced some sort physical proof.

Darkblade sat on a pile of crates that housed gas clips for blaster rifles, his robes dusty and burned where blaster bolts had passed through the cloth. The Anzat was filled with anger and disgust at the forced retreat and the betrayal that should have been seen coming from a mile away. The Quaestor watched Locke and Sanguinius pass him and scowled, the pair had caused a lot of deaths and lost treasures that could have benefitted the Clan. To add insult to injury, the incident would most likely weaken Naga Sadow in the eyes of the other Clans, who would circle like vultures circling carrion.

Yet, despite all that, the Anzat knew full well that the pair would be just as angry and frustrated as he. They had made a decision to trust a man who claimed to represent an Emperor, yet in the end, he had been proven to be nothing more than a vagabond, a trickster prince.

Naga Sadow’s revenge would come, at a time and place of their choosing. Darkblade so swore it. He would become their harbinger of intent and ensure that the Black Hand would have his comeuppance.


Darth Vexatus wandered the streets. The locals were beginning to crawl out of hiding now that the Brotherhood’s forces had vacated. Martial law was still in full effect, but the Falleen was not concerned. The hermit had worked to assist Naga Sadow, yet he knew that he was still hated and feared by them. He was not yet ready to return. Instead he would continue to wander, and seek answers that perhaps rekindle his connection to the Force.

The tales of his accomplishments and feats had served him well on Kasador, it had enabled the Elder to outwit his opponents who constantly expected him to do the one thing he could no longer do. He had used it to his advantage.

Kasador security forces patrolled the streets and had locked down the spaceport. Getting off this rock would be difficult, but it certainly wouldn’t be impossible for someone as resourceful as the seer.

NSD Dark Paladin
Deep Space
Unknown Coordinates

The Quarren’s boots made a dull thud as he stepped off the loading ramp of the shuttle onto the pristine floor of the Nebula-class Star Destroyer’s hangar. His eyes greedily focused on his prize, an ornate holocron. On the surface of Mygeeto he had stolen a quick peek into the files it held, and it was overwhelming. There were so many things to dissect from it, so much knowledge to learn.

Across the hanger there was a clattering, one of the transport pods dropped, spilling its contents on the floor. The loot managed to glitter even in the harsh artificial light. Lexiconus gave the pile of valuables a passing glance before picking up his feet to quickly leaving the hanger. The turbolift opened, and the sound of applause rang out. Metal against flesh, The Black Hand strode in clapping.

A cold, insincere clap.

Before Cyris could speak, which Lexic expected to be either a heated reprimand or a praise-filled congratulations, the alarms went off. Admiral Ail’en Sommetra quickly spoke up via the intercoms from the bridge.

“Red alert. Battle stations.” There was no hesitation or uncertainty in her voice. Lexic’s mind raced at a thousand outcomes. Had Kasador Security hounded them into space? Was it Naga Sadow? How could they have followed them here. Why risk it? He turned to look out the wide hanger doors, the void of space separated only by the thin shielding of the hangar entrance.

He was staring straight at the point of a Resurgent-class Star Destroyer.

“That is no Sadowan ship…” He said softly, eyes narrowing to slits. Sommetra’s voice came back just as he finished the statement.

“Hold fire. Stand down to condition two. Transports incoming. Hangars Besh-three and -four, and Cresh-two.”

It wasn’t long before multiple transport shuttles touched down in the hangar bay. Ramps came down hard and soldiers poured out in rapid order, each stepping perfectly in sync with the next. It took him a moment to recognize them, so quick they were. The Iron Legion.

Then he came. Clad entirely of white, Darth Pravus stepped lightly from his shuttle. All the Palatinaeans froze. Not one of them could have imagined the Grand Master himself gracing the durasteel floors of the Dark Paladin. The tension was palpable and Lexic swallowed hard.

Pravus paused at the foot of the ramp. Silently, he scanned the wide chamber before giving a nod, so subtle it would have been easy to miss. Not for the soldiers of the Iron Legion, who never failed to catch an order from their Grand Master. Within seconds they were grabbing the cargo pods laden with treasures and artifacts. Lexic stood there, dumbfounded as one snatched the holocron straight from his hands and tossed it into a passing cargopod.

He nearly said something then, but the words caught in his throat. It did not go unnoticed, for he saw the Grand Master’s eyes upon him. He saw to sly smirk. Lexiconus had never felt so small. In under a minute, Scholae Palatinae’s hard-earned spoils of war were secured on Pravus’ transports.

Pravus raised a hand. The room fell deathly silent.

“The Iron Throne thanks you for this gift.”

And with that, Darth Pravus turned on his heel and disappeared into the shuttle.

Temple of Sorrow
Orian System

The silence of the grave. Death claimed all, none were immune to its touch. The events on Mygeeto had led to many deaths. Pirates, Sadowans, Palatinaeans and the locals who had gotten embroiled in their little war.

Locke seethed in silence, brooding upon the betrayal enacted by Xen’Mordin. He had trusted his fellow Consul, he had believed in giving the Sith a second chance. He had allowed an enemy to get within striking distance, like a snake ensnaring a mouse.

His mind ran through the pattern of events that had led to this result. Naga Sadow had failed in their quest to claim the holocron, Scholae Palatinae’s betrayal had hit them too hard, limiting the Warhost’s capacity to strike back. The limited rules of engagement had worked in their opponent’s favor.

“Your brooding will not serve us well.” a voice broke the silence, drawing Locke’s attention to his Proconsul.

“We have been shown to be weak. Our focus on fighting The Dominion allowed Xen’Mordin to trick us.” Locke snarled at his subordinate.

“Can you be certain that Xen’Mording ordered this betrayal?”

The glare Locke shot his Proconsul said it all.

“Our fight has always been with them, yet you know that I yearn for peace.” Sanguinius replied calmly, his presence in the Force resolute and unweilding. “The Palatinaeans have won a minor victory in the grand scheme of things. The Clans skirmish and bicker, it is their way.”

“You speak to me as if I’m a child, unaware of the happenings of the Brotherhood.” Locke berated, vexed at the situation. “I’m well aware that our illustrious Grand Master has already paid a visit to our former allies to claim his share.”

Sanguinius quietly laughed, “and yet we would do well to avoid him, you know that we harbour Undesirables such as myself here on Sepros.” The Augur turned to leave, “We’re not alone in our fight, Locke… there are others who would fight alongside us against Pravus.”

“Your words would get us killed, Jedi.” Locke wearily shook his head and moved towards his desk. “You claim to seek peace, but your words and actions invite the deaths of millions.”

“If that is the will of the Force, so be it.” Sanguinius left, leaving Locke alone with his thoughts. He couldn’t deny that the Jedi had a point, there was dissent within the Brotherhood, not all were supporters of the Grand Master. They would have to pick a side sooner of later.

The Bakuran sat at his desk for several moments before activating a hololink. A small greenish figure appeared on his desk before him.

“Yes?” the figure questioned.

“Consul… I have a proposition for you.” Locke replied.

Throne Room
Imperial Palace
Ohmen, Judecca

The Black Hand’s long black cloak, as dark as his demeanour, swept behind him as long calculated strides carried him across the throne room’s marble tiles. His reflection on the polished surface was that of a phantom glaring back up at him with searing hatred in its eyes. It had been long months since he had last graced the Emperor’s halls. Once, he might have enjoyed the lavish decor and vast chamber seeping with power. Such interests had long deserted him. In fact, he derived no pleasure whatsoever from being there at that moment. The reason for which he was being summoned was obvious.

As he had foreseen, the events of Mygeeto had had the effects of a bomb, sending ripples through not only the warring clans but the Brotherhood as a whole. He had gotten Pravus’ attention. Yet, these were but stepping stones towards darker horizons. Far darker.

A long path yet lay ahead for him.

Should the Emperor interfere…

He reached the foot of steps leading up to the throne, towering above him in all its twisted splendor. In his absence, the Emperor had apparently replaced the non-descript, angular throne with something more fitting of a Sith ruler. He could respect that, however frivolous the reasons might have been.

Upon this throne sat the Emperor, lounging with casual indifference, his left leg thrown over the armrest while his face was propped up with one fist. Cyris marvelled at how different the Emperor could appear from one meeting to the next, especially without his mask. They were two separate people, Xen’mordin and the Emperor.

“Ah, welcome, my friend!” called Xen, his voice friendly and particularly warm as he straightened up in his seat. Under the circumstances, there was reason enough to smile, but Cyris did not buy the apparent excitement.

Still, the Black Hand took knee before the stairs to pay his respects, dishonest though they were, to the man who had liberated him from that frigid prison compound on Caina. He dipped his head and pulled the cavernous hood off his shaven, disfigured head. After a quiet reverie, he finally met the Emperor’s glistening stare.

Oscura opened his mouth but Xen did not let him speak.

“You have done well on Mygeeto, Black Hand. As expected, the Sadowans have retreated. I suspect my old friend will be licking his wounds for some time. It is a shame that Locke and Sang got away though. I expected more. As for those artifacts…”

“Let Pravus have his toys, my Emperor,” Cyris interjected, speaking over Xen as he pushed himself up. He grimaced as pain shot up his spine. “This sows distrust of the Dark Council through our ranks."

“Thus securing their loyalty to me and not those fools in the Iron Legion. Yes, yes.” Cyris could have sworn that he glimpsed a hint of disappointment or sadness through the shadows that drenched the Emperor’s face. Xen’s eyes flared with conviction, joined by a machiavellian grin across his lips.

Those eyes, the conflicting emotions, Oscura thought as he locked gaze with his ruler, those are not the eyes of a sane man.

“Indeed,” continued Xen, “We have cast out this pathetic alliance and are now free to move forward unhindered. Even as they continue to wonder why you turned on Locke, our pawns resolve to follow our orders like never before. “

Cyris clenched his mechanical fist as he whispered, “And soon, the culling shall begin…”