Tap. Tap. Tap.
Mirus’ foot rhythmically hitting the deckplates of the shuttle was the only sound he could hear, the datapad in his hands still carrying the request of the Grand Master. It was an odd request, certainly. With the Nephilim already on the task of escorting this high-value target to Antei, surely this mission was guaranteed a success. Then again, the Master was also renowned for seeing far deeper into the strands of fate than most mere mortals could ever hope to aspire to; if there was an inkling that something would go awry, the Lion would send the Titan to ensure the success of the mission. It was commonplace now. In Marick’s own words, Mirus had become Muz Ashen’s own personal guard dog.
Well. At least he was good at it.
“We’re two minutes out from the rendezvous, Your Grace,” came the voice of the shuttle pilot calmly. Mirus offered barely a grunt in response, checking his kit around him; the plating of his hand-crafted Pride armour was strapped tightly to his body, his hidden blade carefully mounted underneath his right arm, followed by his lightsaber and vibrosword on his hip. He looked ready to carry out his given directive. Something felt wrong, however, something that caused him to twitch enough to put his hand on his lightsaber and narrow his eyes. The sudden queasy feeling in his stomach told him that this entire situation was wrong. Their rendezvous point was just outside of the Shroud, close to home. So why was he being called in to finish a job with such a short trip?
With all the force of the crushing hand of God, the shuttle was yanked out of hyperspace suddenly. Stars turned from nebulous blue to distant white, the blackness of space filling every viewport - and the sight before them was terrible. The frigate was sitting near a docked station, a Brotherhood-owned Nebula-class Star Destroyer nearby it - trading blows with an Interdictor vessel, the aether lit up with crimson and verdant lancing blasts from turbolasers. The thrum of its four gravity well projectors heralded only one thing: a trap. With the frigate unable to run, it was little wonder that Mirus had felt the call of the Force moments before. No wonder Muz had sent him - the One Sith were already on the trail of their agent and were trying their damnedest to collect her.
Was he too late?
“Praetor! Praetor Hi’ija, come in!” crackled a voice on the comm. “This is Captain Yorick of the frigate Iron Hand!”
Mirus stepped forward into the cockpit and snatched up the communicator. “Hi’ija. Sitrep.”
“A One Sith interdictor has us pinned down and we can’t escape. We’ve been boarded by three teams aboard docking craft and my security team is currently repelling boarders led by the Nephilim under Corporal Vance. The NSD Dark Star is doing its best to take out the Interdictor so we can get out of here - we called for reinforcements and they were in the area. We’d be dead without them.”
“Acknowledged, Captain Yorick. Is your hangar sealed?” Mirus asked. The Nephilim namedrop piqued his interest - Vance and Mirus had history.
“We’ve closed the blast doors to prevent boarders,” commented the Captain. “I felt that safety was wiser.”
“Open them. I’ll board momentarily.” With a quick hand motion, Mirus cut the comm channel, then looked to the pilot.
“Ever done a combat drop?” he asked quickly.
The Brotherhood agent looked mildly worried. “Never, Your Grace.”
“You’re about to. As soon as you enter the hangar, open the boarding ramp - don’t bother landing first.”
“No time for questions, pilot. Get me on that ship.” Mirus said with a foreboding sense of finality, and stepped aft. His lightsaber was already in his hand, waiting for the moment that the shuttle passed into the safety of the Iron Hands’ hangar.
The ride was bumpy. Flying through a combat zone was an incredibly difficult task and Mirus had to hand it to his pilot - he certainly knew how to handle a shuttle. Evading stray laser blasts and patrol starfighters was no small feat, but this man did it with relative ease. As soon as the wings of the shuttle passed through the shimmering blue magnetic field protecting the hangar, the ramp began to slide open, hydraulics hissing to reveal the ship’s deck below. Mirus broke into an immediate sprint, running down the ramp and launching himself with the Force through the air, landing in a crouch moments later. The hangar was clear of enemies, certainly - but the rest of the ship was not.
The alarm klaxons of a ship in danger rang powerfully throughout the vessel, drowning out most other noise - all but the sweet sounds of battle. He could hear the bursts of laser fire throughout the ship, the occasional scream of pain as a man shuffled off the mortal coil following moments behind. There was no time to reflect on the thrill of warfare, enacting violence on the One Sith - as he had been denied during the assault on Nicht Ka, relegated to duties back on Antei at the behest of Lord Ashen.
Mirus keyed his wrist-com. “I need a location on the VIP!”
The voice that responded was incredibly familiar. “Aft, Titan! Head towards the medbay - we’ve got a barricade set up.” The Dathomiri grinned - there he was, the Nephilim fireteam leader.
“Affirmative, Vance. On my way.”
Another burst of the Force propelled Mirus at incredible speed, running through the halls of the starship with legs powered up to incredible speed. Corpses of both One Sith troopers and Brotherhood security littered the floor, the walls pockmarked and scorched by laser fire. It was a sad sight. Something was wrong here. Very, very wrong.
Only a minute from landing, Mirus found his way to the barricade set up outside the storage locker set up to hold the prisoner from external threats; it turned out the four Nephilim were now a very necessary security measure. Kneeling down, helmets on, their blaster rifles were levelled, watching out for an external threat. Only one did not wear his helm, however, the leader of them all. Short brown hair and goatee, a deadly blaster pistol strapped to his hip, he watched a holo of security cameras on his wrist command console. Two piercing eyes looked up at the hulking Obelisk’s approach with a nod.
Coryn Vance was a martial artist of extremely high calibre, a Teras Kasi master; out of every Nephilim that Mirus had ever encountered, Vance was the one he was arguably closest to. They had trained together more than once, the Titan matching his flourishing Broken Gate skills against the aggressive and powerful movements of the soldier’s - and every time, Mirus had found himself losing. A warrior’s bond had formed between them. While many of the Nephilim remained behind their helmets, it was at least nice to see a familiar face against the Grand Master’s personal soldiers.
Behind them, a woman now stood inside an energy cage. They’d moved her slightly and increased her defences in order to prevent the enemy from kidnapping her. A sullen Twi’lek bearing fair green skin, a pair of bright purple eyes and a scar running down her left cheek and left arm, she looked up at the new arrival - then away just as quickly. Bound in cuffs, she was kept in her prison until she was to be shipped out. This was Na’vii Drex, the One Sith spy.
“I take it we’ve got no time for niceties,” Mirus said offhand, arraying himself behind the makeshift barricade of plasteel storage crates.
“None at all, Titan. We’ve got incoming - looks like some Sith headed our way.”
“I love it when they deliver us lunch, Corporal,” commented one of the Nephilim. The five men shared a chuckle. This would be easy pickings for the anti-Force elite, especially with the assistance of an Equite.
Every passing moment lying in wait felt like an eternity. Heartbeats thrummed against the chest cavity, beating like a powerful bass drum. Mirus snapped his saber to life in anticipation, hoping that its familiar hiss would steel his nerves for the incoming fight.
“Incoming!” came a sudden voice of a Nephilim.
Seven black cloaks materialised before them in the corridor, each wielding a glowing crimson blade; these were, clearly, the One Sith tasked with retrieving Miss Drex for the sake of their cause. Mirus felt three powerful figures and four lesser ones through the Force, roughly gauging the strength of his foe. A smirk crossed his lips. He was looking forward to this little showdown.
Without hesitation, Vance conducted a trained motion practised thousands of times - in a single fluid motion, he unshipped his trusty blaster pistol, levelled it at the nearest target and unleashed a volley of fire at the sable-cloaked enemies before them. The blaster fire was deflected easily into the walls of the confined space by the vigilant Sith, heralding the opening movement of what would become a skirmish - then just like that, three more fire-streams joined the first, scything down two of the apprentice Sith in moments under the sheer mass of combined fire. The odds were already even.
In these tight quarters, battle would be difficult. Bodies would block lines of fire, risking friendly fire from the Nephilim were Mirus to advance into the throng. However, there was little choice. Mirus had to engage his enemy on equal terms, fighting them in the arena he knew best - with his own two hands. Perhaps the Nephilim could prove how expert they were with marksmanship this day - for the Praetor to the Grand Master suddenly vaulted the barricade, sprinting into the foray without any hesitation. With the darksteel hilt of his lightsaber clutched tightly in two hands, the Dathomiri warrior sliced back and forth with three rapid cuts to open a path for his advance. One unfortunate darkspawn fell to the vicious slashing motions unleashed by the Prelate, hip sliced open - unable to stand, the Sith warrior fell to the floor unconscious.
The leader of the group, a Sith clad with a durasteel mask and borne of battle armour, met Mirus’ lightsaber with his own. Rounding on his foe, the two traded their opening blows, vertical slashes meeting in a clash of their lightsabers. The two pressed furiously against one another, trying to dominate and gain the upper hand - but neither could seem to do so. Both seemed to carry themselves with strength, but neither of them could push through the bind. Another Sith apprentice barrelled down on Mirus rather suddenly, hoping to seize the distracted warrior and catch him off-guard with a quick cut of his lightsaber, but Mirus was prepared for such an eventuality. Backpedaling away from the Sith leader, he stepped into the slash, parrying it with his own blade before thrusting the teal saber forward, piercing his oncoming attacker cleanly through the heart.
Scattered and their lines broken by the daring of the Royal Guard’s paragon, the Sith began to falter before the impetus of their attack truly launched. Though the Nephilim were unable to fire with the whirling maelstrom that was the Djem So-practising bulwark named Mirus standing in their firing lines, they were fully prepared - every opening was another blast into the ill-prepared line of Sith attackers. Two broke past the Titan and made for the energy cages, one apprentice and one knight, though both were cut down by a scintillating array of crimson unleashed by the armour-clad Nephilim. Every shot was perfectly placed, searing through throat, heart and solar plexus alike, taking down their foes with such unerring accuracy that they proved that day that, truly, they were not quite gods - but when it came to killing Jedi, they were damn well the next best thing.
That left Mirus alone to fight the last enemy, where they clashed yet again. Both appeared to be a mirror of one another, their overwhelming strength demonstrated with a keen knowledge of the fifth lightsaber Form - both seemed to be as good as each other, matched perfectly for strength. However, there was one problem, for in the furor of striking so many different enemies, the attention of the Brotherhood defenders was scattered. The Sith kicked Mirus low, who absorbed the blow against his shin with a leg check. Their blades clashed yet again, unable to overpower each other.
All of a sudden, the entire ship rocked under the dramatic force of a turbolaser blast. Mirus and the Sith found themselves falling away from their saber lock - which presented the perfect opportunity for the the Sith to step back and get out of Mirus’ distance to strike. “You’re too late!” roared the Sith in his moment of triumph - with a perfectly placed telekinetic blast, he smashed through the controls of the energy cage holding the Twi’lek prisoner. The walls of the cage fizzled away into nothingness, and Na’vii Drex found herself free once more.
At this, Mirus glanced up to see the Twi’lek run away from her cage, catching the Nephilim off-guard, not expecting to have her freed from behind them. Now their prisoner was escaping - and the Brotherhood fighters all found themselves distracted, giving the Sith the perfect chance to advance on Mirus and put an end to this fight once and for all.
“Corporal!” shouted the Titan. The one-word order was enough for the Nephilim to understand. He raised his blaster, taking careful aim at the fleeing figure - and put a round right into the back of her left knee. She dropped to the floor immediately, where two of the soldiers pushed past to recover her body and drag her away. They would leave the Sith enemy to Mirus.
An enraged roar led the Sith warrior to raise his saber to strike as he saw his prize stolen from him, but Mirus knew that it was time for his own moment of glory. Channelling into the Force, he allowed his own anger to turn into a weapon more finely honed than the vibroblade at his side, raising his leg to put a prodigiously strong kick into the intruder’s midsection. Armour plates clanged powerfully but the force of the blow was enough for the cloaked Sith to stumble away. Here, Mirus was at his absolute peak, the primal adrenaline that was his enraged form transforming him into an avatar of strength and resilience. No foe could match him now.
The rampage that followed had the Sith on his back foot immediately; every single sweep of his teal blade was aimed perfectly at vital points upon his enemy’s body, speeding up with every consecutive attack. The Sith was struggling to keep up, the incredible strength of the Titan of New Tython a sight to behold. Every blow pushed him back as Mirus advanced upon him, using every precious second that his fury allowed him to crush the defenses of his foe.
Even as a second turbolaser blast barraged the Iron Hand, Mirus kept his footing, planting himself with the power of the Force to resist falling over - and in that moment he used the momentum of the ship’s rolling combined with his insane rage-fueled strength to channel his own telekinetic strike, using an age-old Brotherhood technique to channel his physical fury into a hammer blow against the foe. Mirus turned that strength against the Sith’s kneecap, dropping him to the floor in that moment as he heard the crunch and shatter of bone.
Mirus’ saber swung down in the next second, the executioner’s axe decapitating his fallen foe.
It was over.
The rush of adrenaline died away like the final note in a symphony, vanishing into the air. The Titan wiped the beads of sweat from his brow, then reached down to collect the mask and the lightsaber of his downed enemy. They would make good trophies - or, at least, good things to study and reproduce for the Brotherhood. Mirus deactivated his saber, then looked to the Nephilim commander.
“Next time, I don’t think we’ll take any prisoners,” he commented.
A wry smirk crossed the soldier’s lips. “Agreed. Way too much hassle. We have to put them in a box, give them air holes…”
“Dark Star to Iron Hand - the Interdictor is down! Repeat, the Interdictor is down! Get to hyperspace!” crackled a deep voice over the command circuit, interrupting the banter of the two men - it was the captain of the Nebula, whose ship had taken a hammering - but had come out victorious.
“Punch it, Captain Yorick!” cried Mirus over the comm-line, and only seconds later did the frigate leap away into the safety of hyperspace without any more prompting, towards the Shroud.
As the starship fled towards Antei, that left only one loose end to tie up - the prisoner. Held down by two Nephilim, Mirus turned to the Twi’lek and studied her. She was resisting, angry, wincing in pain as the powerful grips upon her arms dug into flesh, bruising and leaving marks as they did so.
“Miss Drex,” Mirus said slowly and quietly, lightsaber still in hand. “You need to know something.”
“Oh yeah? What’s that, laser-brain?” mocked the intelligence operative. Still defiant in the face of defeat, Mirus had to applaud her courage. But it would not last, as Mirus re-activated the dazzling blade of his lightsaber.
“The Grand Master wants you alive. He said nothing about punishment.”
Once more, his blade swung down, severing her left arm from her body. The shrill cry of pain before she fell into unconsciousness was all the signal Mirus needed - she wouldn’t be waking up any time in the near future, before they reached the safety of their home base. She was alive, certainly - but she would learn her lesson, before the power of the Deputy Grand Master interrogating her crushed her mind and revealed every last secret she dared to conceal from the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.
Stepping over the corpses left behind by Mirus, Vance and his fire team, the Titan of New Tython went to seek refuge in the sanctity of guest quarters. His role here had been to stop the onslaught of the One Sith. Without his timely intervention, perhaps the Twi’lek woman would have escaped with the boarding party. Fortunately, that was not to be, and Mirus would escape the wrath of the Lion for failure. After all - he was the Praetor to the Grand Master. Failure was not an option. It was time to call back to the Dark Hall and inform Muz of what had transpired here and that he would be there shortly with his prize.