CSP Run-on: Do or Die

(Elincia Rei) #1

This is the run-on for Clan Scholae Palatinae clan run-on, Do Or Die. Full backstory can be found here. This run-on will take place on the discourse forum, and will last from 10/05/2019 to 10/06/2019. There is no sign-up required for this event, and it is open to all Clan Scholae Palatinae members.

Judging will be based on the run-on grading rubric. Level of cooperation with fellow clanmates in the run-on will also be taken into consideration. This includes, but is not limited to, keeping a flow of continuity with the story, including other members in your own posts, not derailing the story for your own story.

Participation in this run-on will earn you Clusters of Ice, and crescents will be awarded for the best individual writers. Participation will be manually added to the competition listing for this run-on at the end of the event.


Rules:

  • Minimum post length of 250 words
  • Maximum post length of 1000 words
  • Minimum of 2 posts required for participation qualification
  • No posting twice in a row, one other member must post before you can again
  • Posts should be only continuation of the story, no OOC posts, save for posts from the event runner.
  • Posts may be edited by the poster only, and no edits on a post will be allowed once the next post is made in the thread.
  • No posts to be made before the 10th of May 2019 or after the 10th of June

Helpful Hints:

  • Check out other people’s character sheets to help write them in your posts
  • Remember Star Wars Realism Counts. No out of universe swearing!
  • It always helps to have at least one other person proofread before posting
  • Reserving posts helps prevent people from posting before you get yours in.
  • Be courteous to your fellow housemates, and don’t reserve a spot then not post.
(Jorm (The Jester) Na'trej) #2

ISN Sidious, in low orbit over Ragnath

Elincia Rei was not one for superstition. Neither did she attribute emotions and intents to inanimate objects. Yet why did the stars she saw through Sidious’ bridge viewports seem so cruel and uncaring?

“Grand Admiral Cinteroph messaged ahead, Empress,” her flagship’s captain informed Elincia. “The second flotilla is underway and will be present within the half hour.”

“Very well, Captain. I will be in my ready room until then. The Director of Intelligence will attend me.”

The officer clicked his boot heels together and returned to his duties. Elincia turned towards the exit. On her way, she observed the bridge crew. The loyal men and women worked calmly, but with noticeable tension. Near the door she found a black scuff mark on the floor, left by a sliding boot - a physical representation of a ship and crew that had abandoned petty vanity in the face of an oncoming storm.

At the door to her ready room, Elincia was joined by Calindra Hejaran. The blonde woman looked worried, but she still moved with purpose. The Empress beckoned her to enter.

“The House flotillas have regrouped,” Calindra began without invitation or preamble. “Losses were grave, an estimated third of their assets. Maybe more.”

“Where are they now? When can we expect them?”

Calindra scowled. “They’re just a short distance away, a few seconds in hyperspace. That Devaronian Jorm left in charge refuses to come closer though, and Shadow’s representative concurs. Both flotillas are making field repairs and await orders from their Quaestors while they shuttle out their injured.”

“Speaking of the Quaestors…” Elincia pushed a few code sequences into her holo-desk. The machine started to hum, and some seconds later the shaking lightsculpt of a hooded woman appeared, followed by another of a scoundrel wedged between soldiers in defaced Stormtrooper armor.

“Empress. Director,” Shadow greeted her superiors with the utmost brevity, but respect in her voice.

“You rang? Kinda preoccupied trying to breathe.” Jorm lacked any of his colleague’s qualities, as usual. But he did sound uncomfortable.

“Where are the two of you, and why are your ships not here,” Elincia inquired sternly.

Jorm gestured for Shadow to answer first, and then started elbowing people.

“Imperium’s last ground assets and members are shipping in as we speak. The first wave is already enroute to the Sidious, Aeternus among them,” the brunette replied. “As for my ships, Jorm suggested keeping them in reserve to, quote, hit when and where it hurts most. Unquote.”

Eli acknowledged Shadow’s brief report with a nod and turned towards Jorm’s image, which now had a bit more space.

“I’ve crammed my surviving troops and injured into our shuttles and Decimators,” the Kiffar told her. “I even managed to break Xantros out of his rampage. Boy, does he need a shower. We’ll show up on your sensors any moment now. The injured go dirtside, the troops are joining the party. Members, too.”

“Very well,” Elincia concluded, “I don’t like your ships straying, but I see your point. Muster your troops in the hangar with General Zentru’la.”

“Gotcha. Keep a hose ready,” the Kiffar’s image replied and flickered out. Shadow’s avatar followed after a slight bow.

The doorbell rang before either of the women could say a word, as if the person on the other side had waited for just this moment.

Calindra and Elincia exchanged a sordid look before the latter called out, “Enter.”

The door opened to reveal Aeternus, dark and impressive even beyond his usual norm in the confines of the ship.

“Empress, Director,” he greeted them in the same fashion as his Quaestor earlier, “as you can see I have arrived. The first elements of House Imperium are forming up in the hangar as we speak.”

“Good,” Elincia said and turned away from the desk. “Walk with me to the bridge. It’s about time Mune arrived with the Second Flotilla.”

Aeternus nodded and made way for the women before he fell into step beside them.
Elincia quietly thought over the situation. The new Meraxis flagship was a giant obstacle in her plans, and one she was unsure she could handle with the resources at hand. Yet she had to try, or cut and run.

“There,” Aeternus said next to her, ripping her from her contemplation. She had barely noticed how she had made her way back to the bridge’s viewport, where the Tarenti pointed at something.

Following his finger, she saw one of her heavy cruisers loom in the distance and a good bit higher over Ragnath’s surface. While she watched, a second cruiser dropped out of hyperspace, followed by the squat triangle of a carrier. Finally, the big grey wedge of a Victory-class Star Destroyer with red trim punched its way back into realspace behind its escorts. Many pinpoint flashes heralded the arrival of their picket ships.

“Always a glorious view, even with these smaller Destroyers,” Calindra mused. Then she creased her brow. “Are they moving at full speed?”

A discreet beep signaled an incoming call, which Elincia took almost automatically.

“Empress,” Mune’s voice growled from the speakers, “I have a capital Bad Feeling. We’re closing in fast to consolid-” He broke off mid-sentence and released a pained yell. From their perch, Elincia and her entourage were treated to the view of an Imperial Star Destroyer dropping out of hyperspace close to Mune’s flagship, Vader’s Vengeance. A hostile Destroyer, with an escort fleet.

Space lit up behind the colossal vessel as it threw itself into a sprint. Green bolts of plasma began streaming from the Retribution’s hull and towards the smaller Destroyer, and tiny lights poured out of its cavernous hangars.

Code Red, Code Red, Code Red! Flying bombs incoming!” The anonymous crewman’s alarmed shouting accompanied a holoscreen coming to life with the details of the converted Quadrijets, suicide vehicles of Collective make. Other monitors started displaying and highlighting more mundane fighters and capital ships.

“The Second is launching their fighters to intercept,” another officer reported. “We’re counting three dozen Quadrijets, all going after the Vader,” the first crewman added with trepidation in his voice.

To Elincia’s naked eye, the distant fighters were just slightly brighter stars - until one exploded into a veritable fireball. Another followed suit as Scholae’s experienced pilots prioritized the flying bombs, and another, and another. A sequence of explosions led from the Retribution to the Vader like pearls on a string.

“Twenty-eight,” Calindra counted under her breath, “thirty-one… thirty-three… karabast!”
Two explosions blossomed on the Victory’s rear shields, followed by a third on the hull between her engines. At once, the vessel listed to port and lost speed. The uninterrupted flow of turbolaser fire from behind began to chew into her hull armor.

“We’re dead in space,” Mune’s pained voice returned to the speaker.

“We’re too far away to support,” Aeternus whispered to Elincia, who scowled. But her own calculations did not differ from Aeternus’.

“Mune, abandon ship. We can’t save the Vader,” she ordered.

“Understood. I regret not having seen this come sooner,” the Shistavanen Proconsul confirmed. Moments later, shuttles and escape pods began darting from the doomed ship, and fled into the shadow of the Second’s heavy cruisers. Elincia quietly addressed her companions.

“Suggestions?”

Calindra and Aeternus exchanged a look.

“Whatever we do, we have to save those cruisers and escape pods,” Calindra opined.

Aeternus scratched his chin. “It looks like the Second’s fighters can hold their own right now. Bringing those Quadrijets must have thinned the Meraxis’ fighter contingent,” he mused.
“And the capital ships look happy to hang back and let that monster devour the Vader. So we have a few moments.” He turned towards Elincia. “The question is, what happens then. And though I’m sure it is purely rhetorical, I have to ask it. Are surrender or flight options?”

And there it was, the question that Elincia had mulled over since the war council so short ago. She thought of the men and women around her, on her ships, who would possibly die today if she commanded it. She thought about the civilians under her care, their fates uncertain if she wasn’t there to protect them. And she remembered the war council - shock being replaced by measured aggression.

There was really only one path to take.

“Launch our fighters. Full speed ahead. Command the Second to link up with our line.”

“We’re taking the offense.”

(Elincia Rei) #3

The Vader began to crumble under the bombardment from the Retribution. Abandoning the ship was a hard choice, but a necessary one to preserve what little assets the Empress needed. There was a time and a place for staying on the bridge, manipulating events from afar. This wasn’t it. She discarded her military uniform, revealing a set of sleek, black, dark jedi robes, and a violet lightsaber. It was time for action.

She arrived in the hangar, seeing members of the clan and military alike preparing their weapons and boarding shuttles under the oversight of General Zentru’la, who greeted his daughter with a formal salute, raising an eyebrow at seeing her in dark jedi robes, holding a lightsaber.

“At ease, General,” Elincia spoke in an even tone. “But I could do with a more suitable weapon.” The General unholstered his grenade launcher, handing it over to the Empress.

Elincia boarded an Upsilon-class shuttle with Malodin’blade and Ric Hunter in the pilot and copilot seat and began to address the clan by commlink. “All members of Scholae Palatinae. We have need of your strength! This new Meraxis ship poses an existential crises to the clan. There is one, and only one solution to this. We take it from them. Once we are on board the Retribution, there will be no retreat. It’s them or us right now. We take this ship, rip the Meraxis flagship from them right here and now… or we die. For the Empire!” Zentru’la boarded the shuttle, the last man aboard, before it took off in the direction of the Retribution, flanked by other shuttles and starfighters manned and piloted by the members of Scholae Palatinae.

(Mune Cinteroph) #4

Escape Shuttle, 5 Minutes After the Evacuation of the ISN Vader

The escape pod made for the ISN Sidious, its engines firing at full to get them clear of the ISN Vader. The Grand Admiral sat in silence, blood matted the fur on the left side of his face, the superficial cut continued to bleed just above his left eye. The dull ache in his skull had become just that, dull and even distant compared to the humiliation of losing the ship to the Meraxin Empire. He cursed himself inwardly for his shortsightedness. The small crew sat shrouded in their silence. The pilot focussed all his attention on getting them to the safety of their line in the distance.

Caleb’s cool blue eyes never left the shistavanen’s face. He recognized the sulky look that dominated Mune’s features. He wanted to reach out a reassuring hand but there was still much to be done and duty had to take priority. He and his husband thought much the same in that regard. “Mune…”

“I know…” he muttered in shistavanen. “I know my duty.”

“Then, get up, get that sulking look off your face, and do it.” The Togorian said firmly in the same language, his voice pitched low so only Mune could hear, not that any of the crew understood Shistavanen.

Mune rose, his tail loosening up from where it had remained tight against his thigh in anxiety. His ears regained some of their lift as he turned to face the small crew. Their eyes turned to him immediately, their attention all his. Uncertainty flashed for the briefest moment through ruby eyes before he snuffed it with a thought. “Make contact with the nearest shuttle. The Empress is sure to be taking action herself.”

There were surprised looks upon some of the faces in his vision but they mastered themselves as quickly and the surprise was vanquished. A communications officer called back, “We’ve made contact with a Myria Vital.”

“Request she rendezvous with us. Major Wild’en and I are disembarking. The rest of you are to continue to the line and join their ranks. Seek medical attention immediately if you need it.” Mune hesitated then, his eyes turned back to the togorian as if seeking console but only received a smile of encouragement. Mune nodded and continued, “This slight will not go unpunished, Meraxis will pay dearly. For the Empire.”

There came resounding calls of For the Empire from the small crew. Things quickly returned to business. Mune moved to turn back towards Caleb when his shoulder was touched by a firm grasp of one of the other officers. He met the woman’s eyes, startled, then found gauze raised to the cut on his face. “Let us get you patched up before you leave us. If we are to seek medical attention, sir, Grand Admiral, at least allow us to do this much before you wade back in.

The kindness, Mune found, was not unwelcome.

The Riptide, 10 Minutes After Evacuation of the ISN Vader

The Star Courier, Riptide, met with the Grand Admiral’s escape pod within thirty minutes of communication. The Umbaran held the vessel steady while her superior officers made their way on board. The young woman heard the movement behind her before the muzzle of a shistavanen entered her peripheral.

“You were right, sir, the Empress has taken to the field.” She kept her eyes ahead, working to map out the distance between them and the Retribution.

“She is going for the Retribution.” Mune offered.

“Why would she put herself at risk?” The voice of the togorian hissed from somewhere further back

“She believes it is her duty.”

Caleb sat heavily in the passenger compartment. Tundra, his vulptex curled up at his feet. Mune moved back to join them, sitting across from the other man. The quiet would not last much longer, they were both aware.

“I am bringing us in line with the Empress’ shuttle. I’ve signalled them. They have confirmed and the Empress has requested a word.” Myria called back. “Things are about to get dicey again so I do highly recommend making the call a quick one, sir?”

Both men took it as a hint to buckle in. Once they had done so, Mune tapped a key on a communication panel. He took a deep breath but Elincia beat him to the first word, “You should be on that escape pod back to the Sidious! You have injuries needing tending to.”

“Do you presume to order your master off the battlefield, Impetus?” Mune arched a brow, a grin stretching the length of his muzzle.

A sound of exasperation came across the speaker. “Do not presume to use your master card!”

“I think I just did,” the shistavanen added cooly, his tail gave a twitch of amusement.

The ship tilted violently to the port side, then spun as the pilot maneuvered through a volley of laser fire. Mune took that as his queue to end the transmission; “I’ll see you on the Retribution, stay alive, my friend.”

“You too, Mune.”

The transmission ceased.

“Hold onto your tails gentlemen. I apologize in advance.” Myria called.

The star courier bled some of its speed before it rolled hard to starboard. The maneuvering thrusters were kicked back off. Myria eyed her displays, making a study of the enemy positions.

You have this, she thought to herself. Her helmet hid the look of determination set upon her features.

The Empress’ Shuttle, 15 Minutes After the Evacuation of the ISN Vader

Malodin’blade brought the shuttle hard to port, breaking away from the Riptide with a muttered curse. A rain of laser fire ripped by harmlessly. Enemy fighters whipped by. The pilots saw their assailants begin the turn to pursue but they were quickly taken out by Scholae fighters. The nearby explosions rocked the Empress’ vessel.

“Eta five minutes before we make contact with the Retribution, Empress,” Ric called back. The shuttle continued its charge towards the enemy.

(Darth Aeternus) #5

Aeternus had board the shuttle with the Consul, boarding last, and had knelt down on the floor near the ramp, ignoring the ‘Fasten Seatbelts’ signs. As they launched, he had started muttering in a language unknown to those around him, but they knew better then to interrupt a Sith lord entering a meditative trance.

Drawing his emerald dagger, he held it with both hands, with the tip resting on the floor of the shuttle. Drawing on the dark side of the force, he focused his will on the Meraxis fighters, just slightly reducing their reflexes, just slightly hampering their vision, just slightly reducing their spatial awareness, just slightly moving their focus away from the shuttle. Just slightly improving their own chances of getting through this. He could sense it working: he sensed less of their own forces vanishing suddenly into the cold of space compared to those opposing them. Not unimportantly, the amount of impacts against their own shields were considerably less then what those in the shuttle were expecting, and he could feel the resulting shift in their morale. Knowing what would be awaiting them on the other side, they would need it.

He could fill exhaustion starting to creep in as they neared the Imperial Star Destroyer that had so quickly messed up their plans. However, in his mind, he could see them closing in on it, a bright cluster of souls among smaller clusters.

In his haste to get through the layer of close-in defenses, the pilot of the Upsilon shuttle was coming in too fast, aiming for the lower hangar. The last thing the pilot saw before his cockpit crashed into the roof of the hangar, was the sheer amount of troopers assembled, apparently for a planetary landing.

After crashing into the roof, one of the shuttle’s wings sheered off, and sliced through the assembled forces like a huge boomerang. Adding to the chaos, the shuttle crashed into the deck, skidding and sliding through multiple assembled squads, until coming to a rest sideways against the far side. Within moments, hundreds of the Meraxis troopers had come to an end, and when there first was an ordered structure, now there was total chaos. More of the clan’s shuttles followed the first, some worse for wear, others barely holding on, but most of them landing in a more successful way, dispersing squads even before they actually touched the ground.

Inside the shuttle, Aeternus had managed to lock himself to the ground telekenetically, avoiding being tossed around during what was left of the pilot’s attempted landing. He stood up, holstered the dagger, and focused on the pull of the force, grasping the darkness around him, letting its rage flow through him. He looked back briefly to those behind him, and told them to protect their consul. Those who saw his face, could not help but notice the black pits that were his eyes.

The ramp of the shuttle came down, grinding, and Aeternus looked upon the pandemonium. Instinctual, he felt that right now, the fight in the hangar was at a tipping point. He sensed they had a chance to overcome their opposition before they could fully rally, before more enemy reinforcements would pour into the hangar. With the troops from the shuttles landing now, they would have enough to lock down the hangar entrances, and assemble a beachhead. But the chance was fleeting, and they would have to act fast.

As this went through his mind, he was already walking into the fight. Some stray blaster shots seemed to vanish uselessly into thin air around him, with the focus not yet being on them. He knew that would change soon enough, as he raised both his hands. He had a saberclaw on both of them, but that was not what he was planning on using just yet. Instead, streams of eldritch lightning sprang from his fingertips. Around him, troopers started being electrocuted and boiled in their own armor. Although his targets seemed random, with every new blast, an officer or NCO fell. Every blast, there was a better chance of the consul being able to survive this carnage. Every blast, a better chance for another shuttle to land.

(Shadow Palpatine Nighthunter) #6

Shadow Nighthunter didn’t wait for her shuttle to come to a complete landing and was quickly off the ramp lunging at the nearest Meraxis soldiers with both sabers ignited. Arches of white and red light slicing through both armor and flesh were soon joined by blaster fire from the squad as they kept some of the load off the Quaestor’s shoulders. The Warlord herself was making quick work of their opposition, using the ensuing panic to her advantage.

Within seconds of the assassin slaying her second victim, another lightsaber came to life as Fëanor Láng joined in the fray. The Dark Jedi’s white double-blades produced a brilliant light show as they spun and danced through the air, slicing one fiend in half before being stabbed through the chest of another. Sparks of lightning danced around his fingers as he called upon the dark side of the Force, and a blast of Force energy was soon released at a soldier aiming for Shadow.

The Sith herself saw the Sorcerer’s performance from the corner of her eye, glad to see that bringing Fëanor along was a good idea. It was her first time seeing him in action in such circumstances, and he was definitely proving his worth as he continued to take down a few more soldiers. His silence spoke highly of his focus, the Dark Jedi intent on protecting the Quaestor and silencing the Meraxis dogs that threatened his potential new family.

“Imperator!”

A soldier came up from behind as the rest of the squad moved up with him. “Just got word on the comm that the rest of Imperium is arriving in the hangar, and that the Empress herself is alive and well.”

Shadow nodded as she finished off another fiend with a slash to the throat. “Good. We’ll clear out the hangar and regroup with the Empress before pressing forward. Already I can see Aeternus having his fun and making our job a little easier. Have our men fan out a bit. No bunching up.”

“As you wish, Imperator.”

The soldier quickly waved his hand over to the others to start moving up. Shouts from a Meraxis officer to repel the line of Imperium troops were heard, catching the Sith’s attention. The Quaestor looked over in the officer’s direction, briefly catching the woman’s eye as she lifted two fingers in front of her. Malice burned in her golden gaze as a shadow of something dark and twisted suffused them. It wasn’t long before the officer was frozen in fear as were some of the men around her, their attention on the dark figure quickly approaching them. Before they knew it, Shadow was upon them, letting her hatred and desire for revenge guide her through the carnage. The screams of her enemy brought satisfaction to the assassin. There was no breaking her resolve. She was here for blood.

(Jon Silvon) #7

The situation at hand was simultaneously strange, and yet very familiar for Jon Silvon.

“ETA to the Star Destroyer one minute, Captain,” one of the dozen or so soldiers hitching a ride on The Carnival said. That was the unfamiliar part; “Captain.” Jon had only very recently entered the Equite ranks of the Brotherhood, and was still… unused to people going to him of all people for order, even if his authority was relatively low, and more than a little foggy as a Mercenary rather than a Force-wielder.

A blast to his ship’s hull forced Jon out of his introspection, and back into reality. This was the familiar part. While a con-man by preference, Jon had served his time aboard a pirate ship or two-which just made the feeling of being part of a military, rather than on the run from one all the more surreal. But either way, this was a blast of nostalgia for the Mercenary: board a ship, kill or capture everyone on board. Straightforward. Ish.

“Eta ten sec-WHOA!” the soldier was cut off as Jon veered the Carnival hard up to avoid a head on collision with an enemy fighter.

“We’re taking a little detour, Lieutenant!” Jon yelled over the din of battle. He’d been put in charge of a squad of twelve men serving under House Imperium, and had the damnedest time trying to force them all into his ship’s interior-those twelve were all yelling now. Lovely.

Doing a great job in command, Jonnny Boy!

Jon corkscrewed back around, and at least the soldier in charge of the turbo-laser didn’t need orders to start taking shots at the fighters homing in on them. Jon saw one, then two, and a third and fourth fighter that came too close be blasted into flames.That was the last direct hit they took.

Once they had enough room that Jon was confident they weren’t in any immediate danger, Jon dived the Carnival into the hangar bay-and the carnage his comrades had wrought.

When Jon and co. unboarded his ship, he could see Shadow currently in the process of carving up a line of Meraxis soldiers with a line of Imperium behind backing her up-not that she needed it-honestly, he felt bad for whoever had pissed her off. Not too far away, he could see Aeternus fry a handful of unfortunates with his Force-Lightning.

“Prepared to engage, Captain-” the Lieutenant started, but Jon stopped him.

“Oh, I think the space wizards have got it pretty well in hand, Lieutenant,” he said, walking casually for the far side of the hangar. “I’m sure we can find somewhere more useful to apply ourselves, don’t you?” The men looked at each other in confusion.

“…Sir?”
I may not know what I’m doing when it comes to command, Jon thought to himself as he took his blasters Kuro and Shiro out of their holsters, and gunned down a trooper that turned his rifle on him. But piracy? Yeah, I can do that.

He waved the Lieutenant and the other men over to him. “Where do you suppose that goes Lieutenant?” Jon asked, pointing to an elevator nearby.

“Well… given it’s position it most likely goes to crews quarters, the captain’s quarters, and the… the bridge.”

Jon grinned. “The bridge. The bridge that, given the number of bodies our compatriots are currently disposing of-” just as Jon said that, one particular soldier screamed as Aeternus drove both sabers into the man’s chest, “-will likely be woefully under guarded as they send every soldier on the ship to stop expel our forces here.”

“You… wanna take the bridge of a Star Destroyer with thirteen men?”

“First rule of piracy, Lieutenant,” Jon said as he stepped into the elevator. “‘No guts, no glory.’ We take the bridge now, we end this fight. Now… which one of you is a slicer?”

(Aylin Sajark) #8

Aylin looked around one of the soldiers. “I’m a slicer…” said the Nautolan with a bit hesitation. She didn’t know the man all that well as he was from house Imperium, but she had been pushed into this ship with the other soldiers when she was on her way to a different one.

“Good, you will help us get a Star Destroyer,” Jon replied as he regarded the Nautolan, dressed more like a mechanic than a soldier. But he was sure she could fight by the size of the AAR on her back and the detonators on her belt.

The other soldiers looked a bit incredulously at Jon, thinking that the man might have lost it. Aylin on the other hand was used to such proclamations, having worked together with others from Excidium. She frowned and hoped they would listen to her, being the only one from a different house, or so it seemed now.

The elevator shot up and Aylin took out her datapad, quickly typing away on it, gathering all the information she could about the Star Destroyer which would help her in overriding the safety systems installed on the network.

The other soldiers were anxious for a new fight and were moving around a bit in the elevator, making them push into Aylin from time to time. The frown on her face deepened each time it happened until she had enough.

“Could you guys please act as if you aren’t running for the toilet?!” she erupted before getting back to her datapad with a huff.

Several soldiers, including Jon looked back and forth between each other and remained in one place until they reached the correct floor.

(Calindra Hejaran) #9

Ever since her run in with the Temple of the Forgotten, Calindra’s skills had shifted somehow; her aptitudes for stealthy assassinations had completely abandoned her overnight. Powers she had relied heavily on over the years, like stealth and illusions on the move were now out of reach or diminished; to say it had been a difficult transition was an understatement. Suddenly forced out of the shadows and called to the battlefield she had feared for so long had taken some getting used to, but it had eventually started to share its secrets.

Her enemies could no longer catch her off guard, she realized. Suddenly, she was able to follow the course of a battle and adapt accordingly. Calindra started taking more chances on the field, at times indulging an insatiable bloodlust, which worried her as did the bouts of amnesia. Those episodes, she kept to herself, but had her masters noticed? She couldn’t be entirely sure.

In hindsight, the changes were probably for the best. In the past, she might have been goaded into overt action against a powerful enemy (which would almost certainly spell her own downfall), but because of the loss of her old talents, she’d never even tried. Instead, she had put her trust in another power, one that had slowly started to surface during her meditations: visions of things to come, the different possibilities the future held that suddenly lay open before her… Could old enemies be influenced down a path of her own choosing, hopefully towards their own destruction? She had decided to try.

Six months later, opportunities seized and exploited; some of her enemies had been unmade; Calindra was now the new Director of Imperial Intelligence, and now watched in cold detached silence as the Meraxis fleet engaged Scholae’s armada. Soon, she knew; the Grand-Admiral’s flag ship would exit hyperspace seconds too early, placing it in a disadvantageous position on the field, which would force them to abandon the 2nd fleet’s flagship; the Empress would then take to the field, opening new and exciting possibilities. The question was, where was the best place for her to be? She saw a brief flash of the future, the Empress’ shuttle crashing into one of the Retribution’s hangars; Aeternus, Nighthunter, and others set loose into the fray; Captain Silvon leading a boarding party to capture the bridge, with no slicer among them. Then she saw herself turning the Retribution’s starboard gunnery stations against the Meraxis fleet.

The Empress’ call to arms started a flurry of action as imperial personnel started the assault on the Meraxis flag ship. In the mounting chaos, it had been easy to slow down Aylin just long enough that she’d board with Captain Silvon’s crew, while Calindra commandeered the final troupe transport heading out to board the Retribution.

At first, the captain didn’t recognize her. Calindra had dressed for the field and had left the white military uniform behind, but he quickly noticed her form-fitting combat suit, noted the rasp of her breather mask hidden under the black piece of cloth that covered the bottom of her face, then noticed the lightsaber in her hand.

“At ease, Captain,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “You will direct your pilot to board the Retribution’s starboard flight deck.”

“But ma’am, the Empress is…”

“I understand that the Empress is leading the charge with several of her closest advisors on the port side, Captain,” Calindra had cut him off, his rank coming out as a low growl and annoyed rasp from her breathing apparatus. “We will be turning the enemy’s gunnery batteries against them, taking full advantage of the empress’ distraction on the other side of the ship. Now relay my orders to the pilot and your team, we leave immediately.”

(Jorm (The Jester) Na'trej) #10

Excidium’s Quaestor stepped onto Sidious’ bridge and found her Captain already alerted to his presence. He had left his Aedile Braecen in the hangar to leverage his reputation as a war hero and organize the mismatching troops of Excidium and the flagship’s garrison.

“Executor,” the senior officer greeted him with the rarely invoked title, revealed by the codes that got Excidium’s ships landing clearance, “I regret hosting you under such inopportune conditions. May I ask what brings you here?”

Jorm’s incorporeal senses gave him a glimpse of the Captain’s inner turmoil, bright and violent. Discipline and loyalty fought against despair, disdain, and the mindless urge for action. Some of it was directed against Jorm. None of it showed on the Captain’s face.

“That,” he answered and pointed out the window at the Retribution.

“Please tell me my sensors were borked when they showed me a few shuttles heading over,” Jorm added.

“They were not, Executor.”

“And let me guess, someone important went with them. Nobody’s enjoying the view from here, that kinda gives it away.”

“The Empress was the first to go, along with General Zentru’la and several members of her inner circle. The Director of Intelligence has left just minutes ago, Sir.”

“Groovy. Begins to feel like a proper madhouse here,” Jorm snarked.

The Captain kept his thoughts to himself. The Kiffar Quaestor took another look at the Retribution and shook his head as he guesstimated speeds and distances. Before his eyes, several shuttles were torn apart by fighters and turrets. A nearby display tracked their demise, and attributed the shuttles to a portion of House Imperium’s ground troops.

“Get me a line to the Empress,” he demanded after a moment. The Captain nodded and invited Jorm to follow him with a gesture.

“Moments before your arrival on the bridge, the Retribution started jamming comms,” he filled his guest in while he led him into one of the pits.
“Communications with our escort ships are possible, and only slightly harder with our fighter squadrons, but we can’t reach anyone close to or inside the ISD since. Our specialists are working on it.”

He stopped behind a Zeltron Lieutenant with earmuffs. The junior officer barely acknowledged their presence; his red fingers danced over the console and adjusted, tweaked, rearranged twenty frequencies and diagrams at once.

With the push of a final button, the speakers of his console came alive at a discreet volume.

“…they’re reinforcing…”
“…Ambush, Ambush! This is Silvon, we’re falling back! They sprung a trap, and they brought flamethrowers!”
“…where do they come from? Must’ve been dispersed throughout the ship…”
“…AT-STs! AT-STs! They’re bringing walkers to the hangar!”

The wild chatter was filtered and replaced by the sight and sound of the Empress as the specialist established the link.

“Receiving you, Sidious,” she said crouched behind cover.
“Hello, Jorm. Can we expect you to join our excursion anytime soon?”

“Maybe. Not sure. You guys make me feel sane today. Makes me nervous.”

“As much as I enjoy the easy win a duel of wits with you brings, there is no time for this nonsense. Get over here, now,” Elincia spoke icily.

“There is time," Jorm objected.

“We’ve got about two minutes until Retribution can put effective fire on Sidious.”

“Jorm, I will not repeat myself…”

“Release Sidious to me.”

The interruption left Elincia baffled.

“Come again?”

“Release Sidious to me,” Jorm repeated patiently.

“She’s dead, and her crew knows. We’re outgunned, outarmored, outmaneuvered, and too close to the planet to get a ship this size into hyperspace,” the Kiffar explained.
“The only choices we have is how she goes out, and what advantage we gain from it. There’s no straight fight to win here, or you wouldn’t have gone off half-cocked, a few hundred scrubs against ten thousand troopers and thirty-five thousand armed crewmen.”

“No straight fight here,” Jorm repeated, “so let me cheat!

Eli’s eyes returned to the cool, calculating stare that her people knew so well.

“How long?”

“Five or six minutes. Gotta be, Sid’s got ten left from about now.” The Captain besides Jorm solemnly nodded his agreement.

First bolts of green death impacting and dispersing on their shields underlined Jorm’s estimate. The imperial gunners did not let this slight go unanswered and opened up.

“Done,” Elincia finally agreed. “She’s yours. Make her count.”

“For the Empire,” Jorm intoned.

“For the Empire,” Elincia agreed and cut the call.

The Quaestor and the Captain faced each other. Jorm’s face was lit with a cockily smiling challenge, while the Captain’s was wrought with dismay and reluctant acceptance.

“Your plan, Executor?”

“Gimme a sensor display.”

The console switched over to the desired setting and showed both fleets, colored depending on allegiance. The green image of Sidious rested amidst a short line of cruisers, while the crimson Retribution was the spearhead of a wedge.

“The fwec is this,” Jorm inquired and pointed to a green dot dancing off Retribution’s starboard side.

“Director Hejaran’s shuttle,” the Zeltron Lieutenant replied. “The last communication indicates she ordered it to the Star Destroyer’s starboard flight deck.”

“Well, whoever is feeding her info, she’s better off shooting them, burning their files, and starting over. The only hangars are on the centerline belly,” Jorm commented.

“Shall I relay that message, Sir? They have just been picked up by a tractor beam and are drawn to said hangars.”

“Nah. I’ll rub it in myself if she survives.”

The Captain discreetly cleared his throat and got Jorm’s attention back on track.

“Right. Have our cruisers speed past that monster and tangle with their own kind. Fighters are to screen Sidious until we’re done with our part. As for that…”

Jorm looked the Captain dead in the eye.

“Imagine hangars as mouths. Fly over to the Retribution and give her a kiss.”

“That is beyond courageous, Executor,” the officer observed.

“Nothing to lose here. Make it a long one.”

“It will be done, Sir.”

Jorm leaned in and lowered his voice.

“Amongst us preacher’s daughters… where I come from, we give a good man the choice how he wants to face death. If you guys want to go down with the ship, have fun, but the only place where you can do more is over there. Blazes, maybe we’ll even survive.”

Without wasting any more time, the Kiffar turned on his heel and headed back to the hangar.

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

Elincia Rei checked her chrono again. Five minutes had just passed since Jorm’s call. She had darted from cover to cover to try and stealthily flank the enemy troopers, but now they were pouring in from every direction.

No matter where I turn, once I take action I will have guns pointed at my back.

A quick peek let her catch a glimpse of her father, entrenched behind her shuttle’s wreckage and firing what could well be his last grenades from the launcher she had given back before her flanking attempt. Mune and Calindra were in similar situations, while Shadow and her entourage were retreating to their lines as the Meraxis fire began to overwhelm them. Behind her, the team around Jon Silvon and Aylin stumbled out of a blast door, counting less than before. Flamethrowers lashed their incinerating tongues here and there, with a calculated focus on Scholae’s Force sensitive.
They’re keeping up the pressure, but they don’t come running. We’re supposed to spend ourselves.
She noticed her father discarding his grenade launcher and unslinging his blaster again.
Well, it’s working.

And then there was Aeternus. Ahead of all allies, he had carved a smoldering path through the early defenders, but now he had been stopped by no less than five AT-STs. The towering machines spat bolt after bolt of coherent plasma at him, rocking the barrier of pure, concentrated willpower around him and scorching the deck for meters around. Already he had sunk to a knee, but refused to go down any further.

With a sense of dread Elincia watched another trio of walkers step into the hangar, with troopers using their legs as cover. The telltale flames among them told her just what kind of extra firepower they had brought.

Suddenly, the metal floor started to shake. Metal meters under her feet screamed.
Jorm, what are you doing?
And then a torrent of emotions, pure and strong and different from all others dropped into her awareness.

Bitter, total, deadly cold, too brief to freeze a warm body solid.
Merciless silence, only the beat of an excited heart and the rush of blood in widened arteries.
Emptiness in the lungs, clawing at air that just wasn’t there.
Familiar, welcome dizziness as the world turned around.
Elation, warmth, triumph.
Frenzy.

The roar of speederbike engines rose from the bottom of the hangar bay. Dozens of the small vehicles catapulted over the ledge, brown with the golden trim of Sidious’ garrison, and ridden by figures in both white and the more exotic colors of Excidium, two apiece. Elincia barely had time to notice the heavy weapons in the hands of the backseat drivers before they opened up.

Missiles arched out and struck walkers. Grenades were lobbed into entryways. Flurries of baster bolts scythed through troopers. And while the little machines and their hard-bitten riders wreaked havoc, rappel lines shot up from below and started pouring stormtroopers and crewmen on the deck. Floating supply crates appeared between them too. Elincia subconsciously recalculated the odds, with their numbers disparity shrinking by orders of magnitude.

With the situation shifting before her eyes, she opted to leave her vantage point and double back to her allies. Mune and Calindra came to the same decision and sprinted over to Zentru’la, and were joined by a new arrival - Braecen Kaeth. When Elincia reached the group, a speederbike set down right next to her and let Jorm dismount. His gunner shuffled up and returned the vehicle to the battle.

“Glad you could make it,” Elincia shouted over the cacophony of engines and heavy weapons.
“Does your plan reach any further than this?”

“ ‘Course,” Jorm replied, “secure the hangar, take Life Support and vent all rooms that ain’t ours. Snatch Engineering and the fuel bunkers to cut off bridge control and avoid impromptu self destruction.”

“What about the bridge itself,” Mune inquired.

“Just a brain. It has no real power when we control lungs, heart, spine and muscles of this ship,” Braecen answered.

“Just three heavily defended targets then… oh well, this day just got more interesting,” the Shistavanen snarled through bared fangs.

“Nobody thought this would be a cakewalk, right? Right?”
Jorm’s barb struck a nerve in Elincia, and Calindra looked unhappy as well.

The Empress brushed the sting aside and rose. There was work to do.

“Spread the word, then split up and get to it!”

(Mune Cinteroph) #11

Caleb frowned, a look of utmost concern aimed at the flagging Shistavanen. The Grand Admiral had wasted no time in arguing to take engineering. The togorian saw it for what it was, Mune did not want Elincia leaving the main body of their forces, and thus the additional protection of their numbers. Mune was visibly exhausted, the loss of the Vader and the subsequent battle were taking a toll. On everyone, he reminded himself.

Mune shot him a glance, “Major Wild’en, you are staying with the main body, protect the Empress.”

“Wait, what?!” The togorian did not bother hiding the incredulous expression upon his face.

“That is an order!” Mune barked.

Elincia, herself, looked about to argue but one sharp look from the ruby eyes of the Shistavanen told her the words will have been wasted. Instead, she shifted her attention to the forces to remain with her to take the hangar. She gave out orders and troops carried them out efficiently. The turning tide had rekindled their moral and the Empress was not about to waste the opportunity. When she looked back to Mune, she saw him speaking in hushed tones to Braecen. The shistavanen gave a nod, she could see from the tense stillness with which his tail was held and the lay of his ears that he was barely holding his emotions in check.

Mune gave a sharp nod and Braecen moved off to leave the shistavanen to meet the Empress’ eyes. He flashed her a reassuring smile before turning away again to focus. He took a deep inhalation of air and exhaled. He did so a second time, opening himself to the Force and feeling it at the edges of his consciousness. I need you, we are far from done. Slowly he breathed again and channelled the Force into himself as a flood gate opened, it flooded into the exhausted parts of his mind and body. He embraced it, pulled it against his essence like a lover.

A touch upon his shoulder snapped him back to the hangar. The battle that had fallen away from his awareness now surged back into crystal clarity. He turned his eyes on Shadow. He nodded once and glanced over her shoulder to Rasilvinaira. “Thank you both for joining me.”

“So, engineering?” Shadow eyed the vulpine figure. If she were feeling any trepidation, she showed none whatsoever to the Grand Admiral.

Mune gave one firm nod to confirm.

Troops were already assembling. Without any further preamble, they fell into line with the three Force-users. Rasilvinaira and Shadow moved to either side of the force and within moments of concentration, wrapped the Force around themselves and vanished from sight. As one, they picked up the pace and used the resurgence of battle around them to make a break for one of the hangar doors into the corridors of the body of the ship.

With a thought, Mune conveyed that the two should remain hidden until absolutely necessary. With a snap-hiss, his lightsabers ignited in brilliant blades of pale electric blue. An enemy soldier lost an arm before he lost his head. The troops at Mune’s back opened fire, taking out the numbers that rushed to halt their advance. It is one of those days… let’s play… Mune threw open the doors and pure unadulterated rage flashed through his eyes. A howl tore from his throat and froze the enemy for a moment in surprise. Even his own troops missed a step. The howl ripped through the corridor and more than a few heads turned.

Before any of them could register what flashed through the slit eyes of the vulpine figure, a man was wrenched off his feet with a flick of a wrist. The Force pulled him into the path of Mune’s left saber. He followed through and took the man behind the first with a horizontal cut of his right-hand saber. The Dark Side roared through him, emotions unchecked, he slashed and cut a path through to the other side of the enemy before they realized what monster had lay waste to over a dozen of their number before they could blink.

When they realized what had happened, one reached for their weapon but was struck by a vicious coalescence of electricity. Lang stepped forward from where he had been hidden from view by their troops. The troops realized the opening they were given and had broken into a jog. They shot and pummeled any of the enemies that made to stop them, the human-sephi hybrid striking more than a few down with his lightsaber in quick succession. Mune was there with lightsabers flashing as he took still more of their number out to give his men a chance to break free to the corridor beyond, and break free they did. Mune sensed his companions at his sides, but it took Lang touching his shoulder as if to remind him of their presence for the force disciple to reclaim his balance. The Dark Side was loath to let go but the Arcanist eased it with the assurance that the battle was still in its adolescence. He gave Lang a sheepish smile of thanks before turning and together they jogged to catch up and disappear into the bowels of the ship and to their mission.

Elsewhere, they knew others were making for the third target. They all knew Aeternus would need to regain his strength if he hadn’t just completely exhausted himself for the rest of the fight. Caleb and Zentru’la would do their damnedest to ensure the safety of Elincia. Braecen was likewise with them and would do whatever it took to ensure their victory.

The blast doors of engineering came into view and with them, blaster fire that all but two of their troops were quick enough to dodge out of the way of. With a thought, Mune signalled his Force cloaked companions to make their move. A vulpine grin split his muzzle.

(Darth Aeternus) #12

Aeternus had already taken 2 seperate at-st walkers, one by frying its knee mechanism, causing it to topple over, the other by slightly bending its main laser telekinetically, causing a catastrophic failure on its next use.

The fight was taking a heavy toll on him, however. More reinforcements kept flooding the hangar, and there was only so much he could do by himself.

5 more walkers stepped into the hangar. Recognizing the threat they would be to the few hundred they had in the hangar, he made sure their focus would be on him, as opposed to the empress, who’s cover would be destroyed in moments by their fire. Simply letting loose his lightning on the two squads nearest to him, he killed them almost instantly. He felt even more drained afterwards, but the alternative would be worse, in his eyes.

It worked. Before he could turn his attention to taking them out of the fight, they started firing concentrated bursts at him, shifting his focus to his barrier. Already weakened, it took every bit of willpower he could muster to block them from penetrating his defenses. With a snarl, he was forced down to one knee.

He knew there was one way out. Instead of controlling the dark side, he could let the dark side control him, shattering his sentience, as lord ashen had done. Not knowing if he had the strength to return from that state, he prepared to do so anyway, as there was no other way to survive this, as he could see even more walkers arriving.

Just before he mentally removed his mental barriers, streaks of missiles flew over his head, impacting the walkers and troops alike. Instantly, he felt the balance of the fight shift. Speeders flew by, causing even more havoc.

No longer under attack, he got back on his feet, and carefully made his way back to their crashed shuttle. While he did not see elincia there, he did find jorm, directing troops. The quaestor looked at him. “Yo. You look like hell.”

Aeternus nodded. He knew he did. Beyond even sweating, his body felt cold, and most likely he looked extremely pale. He would need time to recuperate before getting in a fight again. “The empress decided it was a good idea to head into combat headfirst with minimal support.”

Jorm chuckled. His words could be considered treasonous, but the Sith Lord right now did not care. “I noticed, so I brought some friends.” he said, as he gestured around them. “and it seems you had quite some fun too.”, he added, as he looked at the path Aeternus had taken.

Aeternus merely nodded again, as he was focusing on the portable holo table jorm had brought with him. “we’re close to securing entrance three, but they will need reinforcements quick. Can you head there, and… Fweck things up?”

Jorm considered briefly to question why he, a quaestor, was being ordered around, but quickly realized the request made sense, and found a ride. “consider things fwecked.”

Aeternus nodded, and focused on the table. A nearby trooper he grabbed, and instructed to relay commands to various units. While his body might be exhausted, his mind was not. He was still capable of commanding a large battle, and the hangar had not yet been secured.

(Calindra Hejaran) #13

One of Jorm’s appointed officers watched on from the bridge of the ISN Sidious as one of the shuttles apparently headed towards the starboard side of the Retribution as it’s gunnery batteries opened fire on the Scholae fleet.

“Someone’s in a hurry,” he observed to no one in particular. “Must be aware that their time table’s been overturned…” he gave a short merry laugh. He continued to survey the battle, giving orders and harrying the bridge officers to work faster. He ignored their displeasure at his leadership style, knowing full well that the Empress had given Jorm full custody of the Sidious.

He took another look at the shuttle that Calindra had commandeered, noticing the tractor beam winking out, having failed to capture the vessel. That’s when the shuttle shimmered and dissolved into blackness, revealing the aft thrusters of a similar shuttle much farther ahead than anticipated. “Those sneaky space wizards and their illusions…” he murmured with a mild sense of respect.


Calindra’s eyes flickered opened as her grasp on the illusion faltered; they had so far managed to steer clear of the battle and turbo lasers. Thanks to Calindra’s past experience as an illusionist, it had been relatively easy to mask the shuttle and shroud it in darkness so that it would blend in with the darkness of space; it had been slightly harder to project a shuttle trailing behind it.

“Why did they try to latch on with a tractor beam?” Captain Yularen asked, slightly bewildered as to why someone on the Retribution wanted to capture the shuttle instead of destroying it.

“It might be one of our agents on the flag ship,” Calindra explained. “Normally, we wouldn’t have had a chance to infiltrate, but I’ve asked Imperial Intelligence to do so a few months back when the possibility of an attack came up at security briefings. Speaking of which, I believe your grandfather served with Thrawn and Moff Tarkin?”

Taken aback by such an unexpected and candid statement, the captain stood motionless for a few heartbeats before finally nodding: “Er… Why… yes he did, ma’am.”

"It’s nice to see that your family still serves the empire with as much dedication as your grandfather did, Captain,” Calindra nodded sadly, her eyes suddenly distant as she thought of Alderaan’s destruction, and the eventual destruction of the Death Star.

“Sir, we’re finally at the secondary launch bay,” the pilot hollered from the piloting cabin. The shuttle had been on a strict radio silence protocol since leaving the Sidious.

“Excellent, find us a berth on the starboard side as directed.”

“Aye, sir.”

“The easy part’s done,” Calindra said. “Now comes the tricky part.”

Captain Yularen simply nodded and addressed the troops: “As you know, we’re going to board the enemy’s flag ship in a few moments. The Empress herself has taken the field and has taken the main hangar. We’re to take over the starboard side gunnery stations, and surprise the Meraxis with their own fire power. Whatever doubts you may have, put them aside and stick to your training, it will keep you alive. Speed is of the essence, and the Director of Imperial Intelligence herself chose ITT Delta Three as her special task force. We won’t be letting her down, will we!?!

There was a resounding: “No sir!” from all the men and women on board.

“Excellent! Lieutenant, report by squad, please.”

A young man in a military officer’s uniform stepped up from the corner he was standing, “Aye, Sir! ITT Delta Three…!!! Report by squad!”

Calindra felt the shuttle’s deck tremble as the men and women around her stood at attention; squad sergeants saluting to the front.

“Alpha and Bravo syndicates, ready. Squad one ready!” reported the first. Squad two, was also at the ready, and within a few more heartbeats, all five squads had reported.

The lieutenant turned to the platoon’s commanding officer, “Delta company, 3rd platoon at the ready. ITT Delta Three, ready for action, sir…!”

The shuttle banked as the main hatch lowered.

“Delta three! Move out!!”

There was a final loud “Hooah!” from the troops before they did an about-turn, and started storming out into the Retribution’s secondary launch bay. Calindra leaping after them, lightsaber in hand as the troops provided cover fire long enough for the shuttle to berth. She was already holding onto the Force, letting it guide her through the tumult, her senses bringing to her attention a squad of Meraxis soldiers assembling a mobile gun turret amid the chaos. The turret would soon be bearing down on the shuttle… With a wave of her hand, her lightsaber arched from her hand, screaming towards them and wove through the squad, their screams and the turret suddenly going quiet. Meanwhile, Delta Three soldiers kept beading down Meraxis personnel.

One of the Meraxis officers was yelling, obviously exasperated at the shuttle suddenly appearing at their backs, when the Delta Three‘s shuttle pilot decided to open fire. The officer and several of his men dived to the ground in a nick of time, but some standing close to the other turrets had been less fortunate. The turrets exploded next to them in a resounding blast of shrapnel and fire.