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[GJW XI] Taldryan: Team Space Harpies


Civil War has befallen the Brotherhood. The Clans have split into three factions: the Loyalists, who have rallied behind Grand Master Ashen; the Rebels, following the banner of Jac Cotelin; and the New Order, led by the mysterious Sith Lord Esoteric. Each faction has stormed the surface of Korriban, establishing impressive fortifications and moving towards the Valley of the Dark Lords. Loyalists, Rebels, and the New Order clash across Korriban’s surface, all three attempting to gain control of the Valley of Dark Lords and the secrets it holds.

The Valley of Dark Lords has erupted in carnage, forces from every unit in the Brotherhood streaming into the ruins and temples, establishing makeshift defensive positions behind virtually every wall. Blood is spilled over every inch, each of the three sides gambling the lives of thousands of Jedi in an attempt to put an end to this conflict once and for all. The Loyalists, following Ashen’s command, seek to break through to the Tomb of Marka Ragnos, where the Disciples of Ragnos once sealed a chamber with writings on the Rite of Immortality. To open it, Ashen has sent three of his most skilled advisors in ancient dark rites and alchemy, but the way is not yet safe or clear for them, as the One Sith were originally entrenched in the Valley and still maintain a strong control over most of the area. Esoteric’s forces have a base of operations at the Tomb of Ajunta Pall, a fortified location that allows them a great deal of mobility throughout the Valley, which they use to harass any operations by the other two sides. The Adept Dantella Novae reluctantly commands Esoteric’s forces in the region, though she seems more interested in stealing the secrets of Marka Ragnos than in defending the Valley itself. Cotelin is seeking to contain and control whatever the Tomb of Marka Ragnos holds, through any means necessary… and before Ashen’s forces can reach it.

You and your team have found yourselves just outside one of the few entrances to the Valley of the Dark Lords. You know that inside the Valley, death and destruction have overtaken the ruins, but you also know that ultimately, victory for one side of the other is likely to come within the walls of the ancient tombs. Your runon should detail the battle within the Valley, and must illustrate (either through success or failure) at least one of the sides in the conflict - this will play a major role in your Story grade.

So, we have people, and we’re a team. Team Space Harpies


Forward Command Post

“Fire in the hole!”

The very ground shook in response to the shout, as a line of mortars launched their deadly projectiles. Dust kicked up in response, blanketing those closest to the weapons in ages-old dirt. A singular-man seemed to ignore the chaos around him as he walked out of the dust-cloud and strode towards the largest structure within ten miles. The man never slowed as he approached the Command Post of the Brotherhood Resistance, the sentries spotting him and immediately moving out of his path.

Keirdagh Taldrya Cantor, Proconsul of Taldryan and Dark Jedi Master, gave his eyes a moment to adjust to the change in lighting. He could feel the eyes of others glance in his direction, before returning to their own duties. It only took a glance to see the steel in the man’s eyes. The blood-red armour that he wore was also clearly tarnished as non-stop fighting had left it pockmarked with blaster-fire and lightsaber scoring.

Keirdagh had been in the midst of an offensive at the far-side of the current lines of engagement. He found the man who had summoned him so urgently, almost hiding among the various tactical displays that had been hastily set-up only a few days ago.

“Jac, we had them on the run!” Keirdagh growled as his long strides brought him face-to-face with the other man. Grand Master Jac Cotelin, leader of the Resistance, looked back at him. Keirdagh softened his scowl as he saw how haggard Jac had become. The one-time leader of the Dark Brotherhood had become exceedingly frail over the course of the last few years, and it appeared that these last few days had managed to speed up the process even more. Where once there was a man of strength and vitality now stood one barely clinging on, with only his will and the power of the Force sustaining him.

“That offensive doesn’t need you,” Jac calmly stated, as he sat down in the closest seat he could find. “We…no, I need you for something else.”

Keirdagh stood still, arms crossed against his chest, as he waiting for Jac to continue. He could see that the Grand Master had a faraway look in his eyes; one he has had more often than not in recent months.

“We found the Tomb of Marka Ragnos. The One Sith had previously been entrenched, and Esoteric’s forces are still well within easy reach of it. Muz’s forces have also made a sudden surge for the area. We need to control that area. It cannot fall into anyone else’s hands!”

Jac’s voice never rose, but the strength and conviction within it staggered even Keirdagh. It was a voice many had thought lost, but it was only waiting for a moment it was truly needed.

“There is no time to wait, Yacko,” Jac continued, using a nickname Keirdagh allowed used by very few. “Take as many as you can load into a shuttle, and go now. Hold the tomb, Yacko. We will come, but you must hold the line!”

The voice had returned again, and Keirdagh could only nod in acceptance, and made to turn around before Jac stopped him again, “Take the Nephilim.”

“Jac, the Nephilim need to stay with you,” Keirdagh tried to argue, knowing how weak Jac truly was and that the special group known as the Nephilim would be able to protect him against nearly all threats.

“No,” Jac stated simply, his eyes once more clouded as he stared at a point beyond the Proconsul, “you will need them in the end.”

Keirdagh made to say something else, but he could only frown as he looked at the Grand Master before turning away.

“You, you, you and you, with me now!”

Keirdagh’s shouted orders rang out clearly, as he strode through the command base. Members of Taldryan’s elite forces were pointed at, along with members of both Scholae Palatinae and Odan-Urr. The Jedi of Odan-Urr and Imperials of Palatinae had become allies against the madness of Muz Ashen, and Cantor knew these erstwhile allies would be needed, even if only for fodder.

As he continued towards the makeshift spaceport, he caught the eye of Coryn Vance, one of the Nephilim that he had worked closely with earlier in the war. Coryn saw the look in his eye and nodded, motioning for the other Nephilim and joined the growing cadre of warriors following the Proconsul.

“Yacks, need a hand?”

Keirdagh turned to see Halcyon Rokir Taldryan, Dark Prophet and Quaestor within Taldryan, walking towards him. The green-haired man’s face was stone, but Cantor could see the smile in his eyes. He nodded, motioning for Halcyon to get to his side.

“Know anyone good with Sith tombs?” he asked Halcyon innocently, but the Quaestor gave him a small smirk and nodded, disappearing back into the general population of the base on a mission to find a certain man.

Keirdagh’s eyes found a large Sentinel-class landing shuttle as he entered the small spaceport. As he made his way towards it, another man caught the corner of his eye. He did a double-take as he noticed it was Howlader Taldrya, another Dark Jedi Master and Rollmaster of Taldryan. He was also a man who never wanted to be outside a cockpit if he didn’t have to, and this war had played havoc on that fact. He seemed lost at the moment, staring at the various craft that littered the area.

“Howie!” Keirdagh yelled out, getting the veteran’s attention. “Know how to fly one of these things?” he asked, his head nodding towards the Sentinel. Howlader’s eyes lit up as he nodded enthusiastically. Halcyon returned at the same moment, with a thin-looking human right on his heels. He had managed to find Templar Rathus Marr, resident expert on all things ancient-Sith.

“Mount up!” Cantor thundered at his makeshift platoons. “We brief in the air!”


Keirdagh swept his eyes across the cramped confines of the landing craft. Scrabbled together in the hold was a force of just over fifty fighters from the various militaries, Scholae Palatinae, Odan-Urr and Taldryan. It was insane to think that this small group of men and women would be able to do anything against the forces of the Grand Master or the One Sith, but there was no other option. War was hell.

Looking backward, Keirdagh nodded to Halcyon who was acting as the Howlader’s co-pilot “Halc, give me internal comms. You two pay attention as well.” Taking a deep breath, and standing up to his full, considerable height, Keirdagh locked eyes with the nearest trooper and began.

“Folks, there’s no sense hiding it. We’re heading into a steel trap and there’s not a lot of hope for us to get out of this. But this isn’t a mission we get to sit out. This isn’t a mission where we’re allowed to fail.” The faces of the men and women in front of him didn’t waver, nor would he have expected them to. The Imperials of Scholae Palatinae did anything their Emperor told them, and their Emperor had told them to serve Jac Cotelin. The zealots of Odan-Urr were always looking for a reason to die as proof of their piety, and the military folks were used to being told they weren’t getting out alive. If he had to choose allies to stand with him against Ashen’s insanity, these were as good as any.

“You all have seen recordings of what happened to Antei. You’ve all seen what power it is that Ashen is trying to gain unto himself. You all know what will happen to our people, hell, to everyone if we let that bastard make himself immortal.” The ship around him shuttered from a shield graze as if to lend proof to the danger they were in. “We’re going to be what stands in the way of Muz getting what he wants. We’re going to hit the Tomb of Marka Ragnos, and kill anything that stands in our way, and we’re going to close the door on this insanity forever.” Heads nodded everywhere in front of him. There was no applause, there was no audible sign at all that his troops had registered what he said, only the look of steely determination and pride, so Keirdagh continued. “We’re going to do this, because the price of failure is too high for anyone to bear, and we’re going to do this because it’s what needs to be done.”

Confident that he’d prepped his forces as best he could, Keirdagh made his way back to the cockpit of the shuttle. Though they had not been stationed far away from their goal, it appears as though Howlader had taken them on an extremely haphazard course. Seeing the amount of enemy fire that was spiralling through the sky, and the maneuvers the rascally old pilot was carrying out, Keirdagh marvelled that he’d only felt minor turbulence so far.

“Yacks, good. You’d better strap in, this is going to get messy!” The words came from Howlader’s mouth short and terse: concentration had robbed the man of his normal disinterested mirth. Turning to look at the viewport, it became obvious that neither luck, nor Howlader’s skill would keep the shuttle in the air. “Uh, ok, we’re in trouble.”

A tight formation of TIE Interceptors was quickly approaching, hemming the dancing Sentinel in to a tighter and tighter cone of maneuvers. “Howie, get us out of here!”

Keirdagh heard a quiet muttering coming from the beleaguered pilot. He was quite sure he heard something about collisions being bad before the man shouted “OK, lasers it is!”

As the shuttle veered into what seemed like a solid wall of loyalist anti-aircraft fire, Keirdagh shouted incredulously. “Wait, Howie, what the hell?!”

As the lasers tore into the starboard stabilizer, Howlader started shouting back. “We go boom by crashing fighters, or we take some laser blasts, now shut the hell up and let me land this thing!”

Smoke filled the cockpit as Keirdagh slapped at the release for his hastily fastened crash webbing. “Howie, next time I say get us out of here, for the record, I mean in one piece.”

“Hey, we’re not dead. That’s one piece. Don’t be greedy. Besides, we’re basically where we wanted to go?”

It was hard to argue with the man’s logic, and Keirdagh just shook his head and headed back. “Get moving! Set up a perimeter and strike teams: gear up!” Keirdagh suited actions to words, and charged out of the shuttle into the Valley of the Dark Lords. With a force assisted leap, he jumped atop the Sentinel to assess their tactical situation, and immediately groaned inwardly. Though they had indeed gotten behind the lines of Esoteric’s forces, and the tomb entrance was currently free of enemies. Keirdagh knew it wouldn’t last long.

Even now, the enemy had started to muster, and were heading in their direction. Leaping back to the ground, Keirdagh pulled together the highest ranked of those he had assembled for this mission. “Change of plans. We hold this Tomb at all costs. Howie? Take Rathus and secure the objective. We’ll send support when we get reinforced.”

“Uh, Yacks are you sure…?”

“Of course I’m kriffing sure. Stop wasting time and get it done. The rest of you? Dig in.”


Rathus Marr sat cross-legged in front of the large doorway, as his mind began to move back towards reality, it felt that he had been sitting here for hours, but in reality, he knew it had been only minutes - evidently, trying to perceive or force the door open through his mind was quite draining. As he became more aware of his surroundings, he began to notice the increasing rhythm of boots from all directions, evidently the enemy (or enemies: he suspected that the multiple directions could mean multiple forces) was closing on their position. That would be typical, he thought, and it would fit in with the long series of calamities that had befallen himself and his clan in the last few weeks. It was hard not to notice that the sounds of marching – boots hitting the ground in rhythm, were being drowned out by other noises of battle: grunts, weapons, even the barking of orders. Their enemies would be upon them soon – and every person in their grouping – those loyal to Lord Cotelin, was beginning to feel a sense of dread – even Howlader.

Marr had not known the old Master particularly well, at least in comparison to his lifelong friends amongst the Clan’s elders, but he did manage to glean some things. For one, Howlader tended to be an ocean of calm, and was uncharacteristically nonchalant about just about everything. Most elders that he had encountered tended to take a measured view of life’s challenges, as one would expect from those lives were spent in the presence of the Force. Howlader, however, was on a whole new level. He was never able to determine if Howlader’s demeanour was connected to his mastery of the Force, his advanced age, or just his own personality. Whatever it was, that typical calmness was eluding Howlader this day.

Howlader cleared his throat: “So Rathus,” he began, “how is it going? Do you think you will be able to figure this out so we can get inside and the hell away from that impending army of death and destruction?” He found Howlader’s words and tone laboured and it was obvious that he was nervous. If he did not feel nervous about their whole situation on Korriban before? He sure as hell did now. Fortunately for everyone involved, he thought, there was no time for nerves to get the best of him. He drew in a big breath and then answered:

“I have an idea,” Rathus started, as he adjusted his position on the ground, “but it is going to take a lot of effort, it will take a lot out of me – and I have no idea if it’ll work!”

Howlader nodded his head, “sure, okay, do whatever you can to get us in there. I’ll take care of the rest. Or something.”

Rathus went deep into his mind with the Force, searching for an answer – or the answer – that would open up the door and get this party started. His breathing was erratic – moving from quick, heavy, and laboured to so slow it was practically non-existent, it was unclear to those that observed him whether the changes in his breath were tied to his connection to the Force, or at random. It was almost as if he was in a coma, or in a trance.

Rathus’ near catatonic state was broken from shouts from the Taldryan battle line: “You guys almost done there?” Proconsul Cantor continued: “Ashen’s cronies are so close we can almost smell them, so it would be super helpful if you could get your asses in gear, get that damned door open!”

Concentration broken, Rathus responded angrily, “I’ll get your portly old ass in gear, Cantor! Besides, genius level work takes time!”

Howlader, evidently overwhelmed by the stress of the situation, blurted out some random words at the door. Marr was unable to discern exactly what was said, but guessed it had something to do with the ship, pants, or stamps. Marr hoped the old man was not too far gone so early in the operation.

In that same instant, the tomb began to crack open. The rocks and particles which had sat stagnant for centuries began to fly and flow every which way – causing Marr’s eyes to water. As the dust settled, the door to the tomb stood open.

Howlader, visibility flabbergasted at his luck, shouted towards the group: “That did it! We’re going, and we’re shutting the door behind us. Come on, Rathus!” With that, Howlader darted in the direction of the doorway, with a level of vigour that Marr believed Howlader no longer capable.

Marr, brushing himself off, ran towards Howlader and shouted: "What did you say to open that? How did you figure out the words of power?”

Howlader, turning towards Marr, shouted over the sounds of oncoming blaster fire "I didn’t. I started yelling about the Force – and it just sort of worked…”


Korriban – The Valley of the Dark Lords
Outside Marka Ragnos’ Tomb

Halcyon blinked back tears as a fresh gust of wind blew acrid smoke into his eyes. But even as he cursed it he knew it was a mixed blessing - the smoke would do a great deal in helping obscure them from the attacker’s blaster fire. He brushed aside a strand of shocking green hair as he hunkered behind a ‘barricade’ - little more than scrap metal stuck into the ground - and monitored their progress. Howlader and Rathus had already disappeared behind the closing entrance to the tomb. A blast of rifle fire skidded off the surface of the entrance, barely missing its chance to chase the duo into the tomb, driving Halcyon to take a worried glance at Keirdagh’s preparations - he’d rather not end up full of blaster holes. He spotted Keirdagh as he toiled to set up a perimeter. The veteran knew the importance of some sort of defense - even a slipshod one of whatever they could scrounge. The man was both physically moving pieces and using the Force as needed in unison to build almost twice as fast.

Still, it was becoming increasingly obvious that what they had simply wouldn’t be enough - one of their flanks would be exposed here, leaving an easy path for their assailants to stream in, unless they could find a new barricade. He nibbled at his lip as he considered his options - what could they have in the Sentinel transport that could function as shielding? He wished they had some sort of portable barricades stockpiled for these sorts of situations. No, as it was now, the Sentinel was just a crippled piece of metal. It would only sit there doing nothing for them. . .

And then it hit him, bringing a grin to his face. Normally it’d be a waste of good equipment, but with the state it was in. . . Halcyon turned to face Keirdagh as he came running back into position, what fortifications he could muster in place.

“Hold them off for me. I have an idea that might help us from getting turned into burnt crisps.”

Halcyon didn’t wait for the grizzled man to reply, instead imbuing his muscles with Force as he sprinted across several gaps in their defenses, blaster bolts flying just overhead as he approached the crippled Sentinel. When the door refused to open he used telekinesis to rip the door from the entrance, darting in before a fresh wave of biting blasters spewed forth.

Inside the ship Halcyon felt more in his element. He was no stranger to warfare, but the truth of it was he always felt more in control when behind a pilot’s console. It was no starfighter, but at the very least it was something he could pilot - one of the few things that still brought him some amount of amusement. Unfortunately, this particular ‘home’ was hazed with smoke and half haywire, so the experience would likely be far less cathartic a relief from the battlefield than he could have hoped.

Despite the rather hectic situation and disarray of his subject, Halcyon remained focused, leaning over the consoles and hammering away at them with agile fingers, his green hair ponytail swaying loosely. A static-filled image hummed to life before him, a field view of the surrounding area, as well as several flickering radar screens. Halcyon only took a moment to read and understand them all, before more gingerly tapping at the controls as if the caress the sputtering machinery to life. Whirrs and metallic groans resonated throughout the cockpit before the machine limped into life, the entire unit shaking as it occasionally faltered and scraped against the ground, leaving long earthen trenches. Halcyon struggled at the controls, adjusting on the fly more fluctuations and damage that the computer had no means of correcting for. There was more than a little flying by the seat of his pants going on before it settled with little pomp or circumstance to a new crash site - right across their previous opposed flank.

Halcyon was already standing from the pilot’s chair to rush to Keirdagh and the Nephilim’s aid before a fresh image flickering across the monitors gave him a new idea - a curious mix of Trandoshans and sleekly armored Plagueis Ravager infantry flowing forth from a freshly arrive transport like rats from a sinking ship - though Halcyon couldn’t think of them as more than fish in a barrel in this situation. With a bit of ingenuity and stubbornness the emerald haired man was able to tempt the weapons systems back to life, though he couldn’t do much for the physical ailments - he was no mechanic after all. All in all only one concussion missile launcher, four laser cannons, and the ion cannon responded.

With some fast fingerwork, Halcyon managed to activate the sentry mode on the Sentinel, a standardized piece of Taldryan software that turned their armed shuttles into automated defensive turrets. When the guns opened up on the approaching forces, Halcyon grinned in satisfaction imagining the looks of surprise on the faces of the enemy as the practically smoldering machinery opened fire upon them. He couldn’t have asked for a better barricade than this, given their situation.

With his work finally truly done, Halcyon rejoined the battle, sprinting to Keirdagh. Between the two of them, Keirdagh acting as a shield with his saber and Halcyon shooting radiant green blaster bolts from his customized bryar pistol. But truly it was the Nephilim who were laying out a beating on the approaching forces, and it hurt his pride a little to say the Nephilim were outdoing them. There was only only so much two men could do, he supposed.

Still, it often took a barrage to kill a single one of their monstrous foes, Trandoshans from sheer physical endurance and Ravagers from their armor and whatever twisted chemicals ran through their bodies. And with each wave the Plagueis forces seemed more desperate, more fanatic, more eager to press forward, with no shortage of manpower.

They were in trouble.


“We’re in trouble.”

Halcyon glared to his left at Keirdagh’s dead-panned comment. Cantor could only shrug at Halcyon’s look, before quickly returning to remove the head of another one of the Plaguian forces.

“How much longer do you think we have?” Halcyon asked through gritted teeth as he changed another blaster cartridge on his bryar and continue pouring fire into the streams of enemies.

“If nothing changes, maybe an hour,” Keirdagh answered as he glanced to his own left. “Maybe a little less. The Palatineans are beginning to buckle.”

“Great,” Halcyon grumbled, “just an hour more.”

Changes were coming however, and both Cantor and Rokir felt it before they saw it. The change began to ripple through the Plaguian offensive next, the horde of enemies beginning to turn away from the small band of rebels.

“The Brotherhood is here!” one of the Odanites yelled out.

“Regroup!” Keirdagh bellowed, re-focusing his team while Esoteric’s forces were pre-occupied. Muz’s forces had joined the battle for the Tomb of Marka Ragnos, and come in at the One Sith’s flank. It had given the Taldryan forces and their allies a reprieve as the One Sith began to roil in confusion and fear.

“This won’t last long,” Halcyon spoke from the side of his mouth at Keirdagh, who nodded in agreement. They could sense what had occurred to the One Sith due to the appearance of another enemy, and their initial confusion seemed to coalesce into something even more primal. It was the proverbial calm before the storm, and both veterans of Taldryan knew it.

“Hold!” Keirdagh thundered once more, and Halcyon sensed the change as well, his blaster already unleashing it’s deadly fire as the One Sith ignored the enemy that raked at their flank and instead fell upon the initial foe with redoubled fervour.

Esoteric’s forces fought with the fury of the mad, their onslaught having no sense of strategy except to find their straightest path through those that stood in their way. A blood-curdling scream sounded out from a Palatinean, causing Halcyon to turn away for an instant and see the appearance of a simple, blood-red lightsaber.

An Umbaran female held the lightsaber in her pale-skinned hand as she stepped through the opening in the Taldryan-led lines. A squad of One Sith flanked her and opened fire as they stepped further into enemy territory. Halcyon dashed across the lines, his blaster holstered and lightsaber appearing in the same motion as he fell upon the intruders. His emerald blade tore through two of the One Sith before it was stopped by the ruby blade of the Umbaran.

Halcyon could now see the females face, but while her features were foreign to him, he remembered reports of an Umbaran who had been captured by the Brotherhood during their Dark Crusade. She had passed on intelligence to the Brotherhood, but it appeared that her loyalty had reverted once more.

Regardless of their identity, the Umbaran was clearly trained in the art of a lightsaber, as her precise strikes threatened to break through Halcyon’s defenses on a number of occasions. He could also feel her in his mind, trying to probe through his natural defenses. With a growl of anger Halcyon unleashed a ball of telekinetic energy into the Umbaran’s mid-section, sending her reeling backwards into the ground.

Halcyon moved for the killing blow, lightsaber already in motion when his body suddenly moved of its own volition. His mind caught up a moment later, sensing the near-death he had just escaped as his body finished rolling away from the Umbaran and throwing himself to the floor. Halcyon used the momentum and quickly roll back to his feet, and looking up saw another red lightsaber stabbing the empty space that his chest had just occupied. The saber, with the largest hilt he had ever encountered, was held by an amber-skinned Iktochi female, who sneered at him with unadulterated hate.

Halcyon was immediately on the defensive as the Iktochi fell on him, her rage crashing into him with every strike of her lightsaber. This one Halcyon knew from his time on the Dark Council. Her whispered name was Darth Necren, and she was the personal assassin of many on the Council. Halcyon had never had use of her services, but he had seen the reports from those who had, and knew what power she could unleash.

Necren’s offensive took all of Halcyon’s concentration, as her constant movements taxed his own aggressive form of defense. He could sense Keirdagh nearby, yelling at him about the Umbaran. Halcyon could see her making her way quickly towards the entrance of the tomb, but there was nothing he could do. Necren would allow him no quarter, and he could feel himself flagging from the constant battle he has had to endure.

As he sensed Keirdagh make his way towards him, the Sentinel had finally given them its last breath with an explosive end.


Korriban – The Valley of the Dark Lords
Inside Marka Ragnos’ Tomb

This tomb, Howlader decided, was not fun for him – and he was really beginning to regret coming on this damn fool adventure. Sure, he was angry at Ashen, his insanity, and his near destruction of the Brotherhood – but this place was just terrible. First of all, there was no chair for him to sit in – and Howlader hated standing almost as much as he hated running around. More importantly to Howlader? This tomb was damp, weird and unpleasant liquids emanated from all over the place, it was just an awful place. Finally, Howlader disliked the sounds, visuals and intangible feelings of this whole place. The lightning was eerie throughout the tomb, shadows and flashes appeared in odd ways – not distinctly wrong, just slightly off. It was as if out of the corners of Howlader’s eyes, the light was not quite right, but when he was able to focus on the visual disturbance, it would slip away. Howlader’s ears would periodically pick up echoes and faint noises – nothing distinct or intelligible, just whispers on the wind.

“So…hey Rathus, you’re the resident expert on these ancient Sith things…do you know exactly what we’re looking for? I would really like to get out of here as fast as humanly possible.” Realizing what he just said might be misconstrued, Howlader continued quickly. “Not because of fear you see. Oh no. No. I really just want to get out there and fight. Yes. Fight. Save people.” Finishing his uncomfortable admission with a self conscious titter and hoping the young Templar wouldn’t notice.

Rathus seemed to ponder his response for a moment, and then simply said with a shrug: “I am sure we will know it when we see it.”

Howlader and Rathus continued through several more sets of dank and musty passageways, avoiding a number of obvious (and at times, not so obvious) traps that were set by Marka Ragnos and his cronies in the distant past. In addition to physical barriers, the two would-be grave-robbers were attempting to ignore the ominous feelings that were beginning to enter their minds subconsciously – these attempts were largely unsuccessful, with the ominous feelings progressively turning into a more profound sense of dread.

After rounding what seemed, to Howlader, like the fiftieth passageway, he felt something. Not something physical, but a feeling – something terrible had happened or was about to happen…

Rathus felt Howlader reaching out with the Force - and suddenly he was off over to the left, as he heard Howlader shout: "Rathus get down!” Howlader’s timing was lucky, as a large metal blade swung down at his previous position. Howlader pulled out his lightsaber and removed the blade from its rocky housing, sending it crashing to the floor. Rathus picked himself up, feeling relatively unshaken by the ordeal. Howlader, realizing this, decided to quip as he deactivated his silver lightsaber: "Man, Rathus – I thought you were supposed to be looking out for these things.”

Rathus let out a grumble and waved his left arm dismissively at Howlader and commented: “yeah, yeah – not all of us have your connection to the Force, old man.”

Suddenly, the tomb erupted in a cacophony of noise – they were clearly alarms of some sort, Howlader deduced, but they sounded almost like screams. The tomb’s designers had obviously intended the noise to inspire fear in any intruders. Howlader turned to Rathus, “well, that’s a lovely sound, is it not?"

“That can’t be good,” he quipped, “do…do we prepare for imminent death and destruction at the hands of the long dead Sith Lords? Or at least a Sith Lord?”

Howlader nodded, reaching for his lightsaber and sighed in response: "probably. I guess my lightsaber is going to get more use today than it has in months.”

Rathus nodded in agreement, retrieved his own blue-bladed weapon, and entered a fighting stance, back to back with Howlader.

Prepared for the worst, Howlader assumed a similar fighting dance, but also began to prepare his mind to use whatever powers he could muster – his feeling was that this next encounter would be taxing.

"Do you hear that?” Rathus whispered, “it sounds like footsteps – lots of them maybe, and they’re getting closer.”

“Yeah, I hear them,” Howlader responded, “get ready!”

The footsteps grew louder and closer, Rathus and Howlader stood ready, then enemy would arrive in seconds…

…and then a single human male skidded around the corner and fell into the opposite wall when he came across the two lightsaber armed Jedi.

Howlader, obviously surprised, did not react immediately.

Fortunately, Rathus did, as he lept out of his defensive position and plunged his saber into a raging tuk’ata that had appeared at their position.

Recovered, Howlader quietly commented: "Thanks Rathus.”

Turning his attention to the pile of human currently resting on the tomb floor, Howlader pointed his lightsaber towards the bright blonde figure and asked: “Well, what do we have here?”


Howlader watched the man’s eyes flutter between the fallen tuk’ata and their ignited sabers, a wry facsimile of a smile crossing Connor Grey’s lips as he adjusted his belongings.

“You two really saved my skin there. I didn’t think I’d come across a pair quite as… heroic and noble as you, yea? Saving a stranger from a monster and all. You’re the best, really. But I I think it best I get out of here, no rudeness intended. Wouldn’t want to spring any more traps, right?”

Beside him Rathus’ lips pulled in a thin line, an expression Howlader couldn’t distinguish between disgust or derision,a comment bubbling to the surface. But it was Howlader who spoke first. “Not exactly subtle, are you?”

Grey gave a great shrug, looking decidedly casual as he shifted his weight toward an escape route, a great number of objects jostling within his pack with the movement. Grey tensed a moment, glancing to the two of them as if hoping they had been looking away.

Howlader didn’t have time to play coy. “What’s in the bag? Doing a bit of thievery?”

Grey had just opened his mouth, no doubt for another attempt at deflection or perhaps a bold-faced lie, when three purple sabers crackled to life in the sheer darkness around them.

Howlader was first to react, his own pure white blade a light in the darkness as it collided with one of the more over-eager assailants, the clash producing a flash of light that revealed who they were up against. It wasn’t their faces that told him who they were - rather it was more the fact he couldn’t see their faces behind their dark purple hoods, hiding all but the barest glimpse of pale flesh. Krath Pontifices.

Howlader braced himself, anticipating an assault from his now exposed flank from one of the others in the trio. But oddly enough, despite their drawn weapons, the others didn’t strike, instead standing eerily still, each holding and arm slightly outstretched, as if to point at him - no, to point through him. Behind him a primal shout, near bloodcurdling in its desperate ferocity filled his ears, nearly drowning out the distinctive clatter of metal on stone as a saber’s hilt rolled past his feet. Behind him he could feel a surge in the Force, its strength enough to cause him to steal a risky glance. Behind him the younger Taldryan, Rathus, outright trembled, the whites of his eyes wide as his eyes strained open, flicking about like a spooked animal as he leapt back and dodged several hideous beast-like illusions that terrorized him.

As if satisfied by their handiwork the duo casually dropped their stance, almost lazily approaching Howlader like pack animals readying for the kill. A fresh ripple in the dark side rocked the room as they outstretched once more, causing Howlader to brace himself both from the fresh swing from his saber opponent and for the inevitable Force attack.

And then with all the confidence and quickness wholly unsuited for a man that had just prior been trying to weasel his way away, Grey dashed forward, igniting his white short-bladed shoto saber as he moved in to menace the shortest of the figures, causing the robed person’s concentration to snap. The other turned as well, the two lashing out at the blonde-haired man. But their assault was surprisingly easily deflected, the defensive Niman easily countering their blows.

What resulted was little more than a stalemate - Howlader and his opponent were near equal in entirety, and Grey was stuck merely defending. Fatigue would certainly get to them first. Howlader’s mind raced for an answer, slipping into a trance as he contemplated. But the answer he needed didn’t come from within but without.

Without word Rathus stepped into his field of view. To say he had recovered would have been a lie - the same fear gripped him, his eyes bloodshot. But now there was a terrible calmness to him, a serenity that Howlader hadn’t expected from the man. Through the dark side Howlader could still sense the fear gripping the man’s heart, yet now it seemed more a part of him than a foreign assault. As a wry disdainful smirk danced across the man’s lips Howlader could see a strange reverie cross his visage.

One of the Pontifices engaging Grey turned to Rathus, side-skirting his previous opponent as he moved to keep Rathus from interfering with his comrades, waiting for him to make his move. Almost idly the previously fear-addled man snatched his sader from the cold ground, its blue blade hissing to life.

The man’s next move they could not see, but they could all feel, despite the fact they were not the target. The dark side warped around them, twisting and draining away from Rathus’ foe, both torn away and suppressed. It was enough to cause Howlader’s opponent to glance at the root of the disturbance. It was enough to give Howlader what he needed. With flick of his wrist he directed his palm toward the man, and almost instantaneously a bright purple shock sprang forth, little more than a brief flash. But it was enough to cause the distracted man to howl in pain, his skin bubbling as burns spread across his partially exposed face. With a growl the man stuck at Howlader in desperation, playing into Soresu style’s deadly defence - with one slow, solid strike as the man struggled with balance and pain, Howlader cut him down, his chest cleaved in twain by the white-hot blade.

Almost as if part of a chain reaction the others fell as well. Rathus, despite his bewildered nature, had proved to be truly the duelist. Howlader marveled at how much Rathus outclassed his opponent as he himself waited for an opportunity to spring to his junior’s aid. It took a few seconds for him to realize what was truly afoot - Rathus was amplifying his movements. This was no great surprise among the combatants of the Brotherhood. But the bizarre gap in movement wasn’t just from Rathus’ enhancement - Howlader could sense now that his opponent’s movements were becoming increasingly drained as the dark side sapped their strength. It was almost pitiful to watch. In one weakened stumble from his opponent Rathus gave an almost lazy Makashi slash, his wrist nearly limp as he cut cleanly through the man’s waist.

Grey’s battle practically done by the time they turned to him. The shorter robed figure was obviously fatigued, struggling to deal with the man’s ironclad defense. As soon as Grey grew satisfied of the surety of their defeat and the safety of breaking his defense, they fell as well, the short white saber plunged through their chest. How the man who was just previously getting ready to grovel for escape managed to take the abuse of two Pontifices and then defeat one handily Howlader wasn’t sure. One this was for sure, however - the man was more dangerous than he was allowing himself to seem.

Howlader was already warily approaching the man when a fresh figure appeared, its frame concealed by a multitude of folds in its baggy clothing, its gaunt head a bald skull, waxed completely clean of hair and revealing only pallid flesh. It took a moment of staring for Howlader to even register her as female.

Despite her sudden appearance before them, she seemed to be pointedly ignoring them, turning to face Grey with a solemn stare, her voice cool and cruel.

“There you are, Grey. I was wondering what foolishness you were up to. I believe we have unfinished business before us.”

In response Grey simply turned toward them.

“Sorry guys,” he said shrugging, a wry smile forming, “but do you have any idea how well these guys pay?”


Korriban – The Valley of the Dark Lords
Outside Marka Ragnos’ Tomb

Using the shockwave from the landing craft’s explosion, Halcyon vaulted himself away from Necren, hoping to take a moment’s pause and regroup his own defenses. The Iktotchi’s prowess with a saber was clearly evident, and the older man had already been fighting a prolonged battle, leaving him sure that this was not a fight he could win by conventional means.

Thankfully, in the realms of convention, Halcyon’s Proconsul was anything but. While he had been sparring and testing boundaries with the assassin, the mean old bastard had decided to aid his friend in his trademark, blunt style. Guided by means of the Force, one of the larger pieces of debris from the exploding shuttle crashed downward to where Necren was stalking toward Halcyon.

Suddenly becoming aware of the danger facing her, Necren exploded forth in motion. The massive dagger of durasteel that crashed to the ground behind her merely managed to knock her off balance briefly before she continued onward. “You missed Yacks,” quipped Halcyon as he jumped back into the fight, a rueful grin creeping across his features. “Better luck next time!”

The woman’s style was strange and her odd saber design gave the shorter fighter a greater reach, but Halcyon no longer feared defeat. Alone, he might be overmatched. With Keirdagh joined in the battle, it was only a matter of when they won. Even though the battle raged around them, in this struggle between masters of the dark side there was no outside distraction. For the trio there was nothing but thrust, parry and riposte of combat, and life and death.

Necren kept attempting to switch the focus to Keirdagh, to exploit the Corellian’s weaker skills with the blade, a tactic that Halcyon suddenly knew how he was going to exploit. With the next shift, rather than going to block, Halcyon merely grunted a warning to Keirdagh. Long experience and history of fighting side by side was all the communication they needed. Dropping his own blade and pulling forth his bryar, Halcyon took aim. Suddenly, Keirdagh was not attempting to defend himself, but to keep his opponent steady, and when the emerald green blast ripped outward, Halcyon knew they’d won.

Even as Necren dodged, Halcyon continued smiling. Without missing a beat, Keirdagh swatted the emerald bolt aimed straight for his head from the air, and directed it expertly into the assassin’s chest. Even over the furious din of the battlefield, Halcyon could hear a faint cough of surprise as the Iktotchi breathed her last. Grinning tiredly, Keirdagh shook his head and turned back toward the lines.

The Taldryan-led forces had not fared well whilst Keirdagh and Halcyon had been dealing with the Dark Council’s assassin. Nephilim were hastily reinforcing the Scholae Palatinae positions, where the last of the Imperial warriors had fallen due to massed fire from Plagueis’ Trandoshan slavers. Odan-Urr’s force was holding their line with a surprising sturdiness, the adherents of the Light had apparently not been idle in training their martial skills. It was however becoming obvious that Keirdagh’s estimation of being able to hold out for an hour was optimistic. The small group of soldiers they had brought with them were well trained, and they had the advantage of terrain, but if Jac didn’t get to the tomb soon with reinforcements, he’d have nothing to reinforce.

Even as he began sighting down the barrel at more of the Plaguians who were continuing their mad rush into the jaws of death, Halcyon sensed a quiet fall over the battlefield. Firing off three quick shots, he glanced over at Keirdagh who stood shock still, seemingly unaware of the blaster bolts that burnt past him at alarmingly close ranges. Halcyon knew the old man had been attempting to help focus their forces this whole time with his aptitude for battle meditation. Unable to focus fully on the task at hand, Halcyon had only ever sensed the most subtle of pressures in his mind, a gentle hand keeping his mind alert and senses sharp.

The complete lack of that touch now left Halcyon dreading something completely unseen.

Reaching out with his senses, Halcyon didn’t need to search his feelings for long to know what had his Proconsul stunned: two Grand Masters had just entered the field of battle, and neither were friendly to their forces. Both Esoteric and Muz Ashen had just revealed themselves. The thrill that went forth through the battlefield at the uncloaking of these two titanic powers was impossible to grasp. Everyone there was suddenly more energized, more terrified, and more frenzied all in the same instant.

Suddenly, as though the storm broke simultaneously, the already furious battle went insane. Halcyon saw a blazing purple saber held aloft in Esoteric’s hand, and realized that the dread he felt was coming to fruition. The saber was pointed directly at the resistance forces, and as one, every one of Esoteric’s troops turned and bore down on their position. Suddenly, Keirdagh’s influence seeped back into his mind, with a strong compulsion to retreat. The feeling was matched by the old man’s booming voice cutting through the din of the field: “retreat to the tomb, fall back! FALL BACK!”

The Knights of Odan-Urr, and the few remaining blades from Taldryan and Scholae Palatinae knew what to do: as the forces withdrew, dragging their wounded and abandoning their dead, a solid wall of varied lightsaber blades protected the troops as they slunk into the door that was left open by Novae’s entrance. Last through the door, Keirdagh held his golden blade aloft and kept deflecting stray bolts back onto the field.

“Corporal Vance. Rig this tunnel to blow.”


Korriban – The Valley of the Dark Lords
Inside Marka Ragnos’ Tomb

Novae’s saber clashed against Rathus’, the resonating sound of the two weapons colliding filling the air. It was a less than optimal situation - fatigue sapped both his physical and mental strength. Worse yet, Novae seemed more than a match for him. The two seemed at first to be a perfect match at first glance, both moving in elegant duelist’s style, their movements without waste in an elegant flow and ebb of battle, their skill at Makashi mirrored. But Rathus could tell that he was losing, each little misstep, each slightly sluggish movement slowly leading to his doom. He knew he would need to hold out long enough for Howlader to intervene - he just hoped that he had that much time.

Across from him he could see Grey and Howlader’s white-bladed sabers clash, Grey’s smaller shoto still proving formidable against his foe’s normal saber. Their sabers hissed as they locked, remaining there as they struggled - and then without warning Grey jumped backward, riskily disengaging and leaving the Taldrya to seemingly sluggishly reacting to the sudden change in pace. Grey dropped his hand to his belt, hands wrapping around his pistol’s grip, snatching it from its holster in a smooth motion.

It was a motion he never got to finish. Howlader’s pull on the Force was far faster. Purple lightning arced from his outstretched hand, striking the man squarely in the chest, his body quivering from pain and weakness as it channeled through his very essence. With a gasp of air his slugthrower clattered to the ground, followed by his saber as it sputtered out. The weapons had only just hit the ground before Grey himself collapsed into an unconscious heap.

Rathus wasn’t the only one to notice the shift in the tide. Novae made her own move to disengage as Howlader turned his focus toward her, proving far more successful at the maneuver than Grey. Rathus took a half-step forward, angling his body toward Novae in a typical duelist fashion only for Howlader to block his path, his back to his ally.

“Rathus, we don’t have the liberty for us to both waste our time here. I’ll hold her off. Don’t stand there and gape - go find what we came for!”

Rathus bit back the urge to protest before acquiescing to the truth of his senior’s words. He knew Howlader wasn’t as well-trained a duelist as he, but the man had far more experience.

He fought the urge to sprint and carelessly root through the multitude of musty tomes and ancient tablets throughout the tomb - too many traps and diversions laid in wait for the unsuspecting and reckless. Instead carefully, and slightly awkwardly, especially given the sound of grunts and clashing sabers behind him, he scoured the area. Despite the ridiculousness of the thought at the given moment, Rathus couldn’t help but take a small moment to mourn their lack of time and their situation. Several of these works were truly ancient, and though not particularly related to the Ritual, their secrets would be worth treasuring. Rathus felt particularly wistful as he was forced to toss aside a manuscript of ancient methods of Sith Alchemy.

While paging through a work on the nature of immortality, a ripping noise echoed throughout the chamber. Glancing behind him he could see Howlader’s robes sliced from his now exposed chest, the pallid woman wielding a rather wicked looking knife now. Howlader glanced upward to meet eyes with him. “I’m not putting on a show you know! Sometime before I get killed, if you would!”

Briskly Rathus twisted around to his work. He had perused nearly all the tomes by now, and several of the heavy stone tablets, but nothing pointed to what they were after. Nervously he clenched his hands against the stone wall where the tablets sat on their own ledges. Leaning against the wall in thought he fought the urge to zone out, his sweaty hands slipping against the pristine flat surface.

And then he noticed something off, something nearly imperceptible in the wall as his hands slipped down it: a tiny engraving. Leaning forward Rathus struggled to read it in the poorly lit chamber, before realizing just what it was - simply the symbol for ‘life’ in Sith. Rathus groaned - not the breakthrough he was looking for. It was ridiculous anyway, to inscribe the symbol for life in a tomb - though he supposed it was fitting enough to put the symbol for life in a tomb that would prove to hold the power of a ritual that could lead to immortality - at the cost of life. Death traded for immortality. So much blood would be-


Rathus leaned forward again, an uncharacteristic grin dancing across his face. It wasn’t just ‘life’. It could also be read ‘blood’.

With more that a little gnashing of teeth and regret, Rathus sntached up one of the stone tablets, hurling it against the stone floor with all his strength, sending shards flying. Without missing a beat he dove down, picking up a rather wickedly sharp fragment and with far less contemplation than warranted, sliced into his left palm. With grit teeth he set his palm against the ancient walls, and for a painful, embarrassing moment it seemed nothing would happen.

But then Rathus felt fear clutch at his heart again, joined by anger and shame and regret, negative emotions suffusing him while flooding him with power. Before him a fissure appeared in the black stone, separating a chunk of it from the wall as etchings manifested themselves upon it, glowing a dark red as the script wrote itself.

Each passing moment filled Rathus with more anger, fear, and rage, alongside visions and memories and regrets, and yet it was not a torture - no, it was cathartic, as if spurring him toward a final release of anxiety, of the culmination of it all into pure unfiltered power.

But as soon as it came it went, leaving a strange emptiness, a craving for more. In the back of his mind something screamed to cut the ritual’s flow to himself.

Rathus only faintly heard Howlader’s exclaimed curse, the rustling of a cloak behind him like the faintest of whispers, as if a concern so unimportant and far away that it was like a god caring for the actions of ants. He turned casually to see Novae dashing for him now, her blue-streaked face lit with the purple glow suffusing the chamber. The way she desperately flung herself forward made Rathus think of a moth to flame.

Unbidden his hand stretched forward, no longer feeling wholly his own as the dark side rippled throughout the chamber, the focus of its power gripping the woman mid-leap. And then Rathus could feel her anger, her fear - her very essence. It drained from her now, channeling through him like a conduit as it flowed to the words etching upon the tablet. Midair Novae spasmed and gurgled, not strong enough any longer even for a scream, convulsing as the final bit of her was drained away. Rathus could feel that the Ritual wanted more – demanded, more – but he was at his limit and he knew it could not be allowed to go further.

Rathus only truly snapped to his senses as Howlader shook his shoulders, his voice faint at first “… out of here!”


“We have to get out of here!”

Around them the walls trembled, the tomb resonating with the dreadful sound of shattering stone. Rathus turned to grab the tablet only to notice that he had been clutching it with his left hand to his chest for some time, so tightly that the impressions were partially indented into the base of his neck.

Numbly he followed after Howlader as they made their escape, only faintly noticing as Howlader grabbed the limp form of Grey by his collar, dragging the gaunt man along behind him.


Korriban – The Valley of the Dark Lords
Inside Marka Ragnos’ Tomb

Bodies were strewn all about the tomb’s entrance – Taldryan, Nephilim, Scholae Palatinae, and even Odan-Urr were represented – Ashen’s and the One Sith’s weapons did not discriminate. So much death and destruction, Halcyon thought, so many young men and women of the resistance dead at the hands of madmen. Looking around the entrance, Halcyon took stock of their situation – the only friendly forces remaining were himself, Keirdagh, and a handful of senior Nephilim: Coryn Vance, Vanessa Lunelle, and Dietrich Trenor. Two Jedi and three soldiers, no matter how talented they all were, could hold off an entire army. Halcyon was unsure of Keirdagh’s plan, if he had one at all, but it needed to be implemented soon.

Halcyon shook off his guilt and his anger as another heavy weapons blast flew above his head, there would be time for mourning and vengeance later. The Brotherhood’s fate was on the line, and to even attempt to save it would require getting off this rock alive. Right now, that meant that he and Keirdagh needed to keep hauling weapons and ammunition out of the cave entrance for the remaining Nephilim, who were laying down suppressing fire in the forms of heavy blaster fire and short-range artillery. Looking at the remaining stock of munitions, Halcyon realized that something needed to change – and it needed to change fast – they had maybe 20 minutes left – and then they would be down to fighting with sabers, rocks and dirt.

Things are not looking good, Halcyon thought to himself, Howie and Rathus are taking too long to find what we need. Whatever it was they were searching for, Halcyon sensed, was important to their cause – but it could be just as important to the causes of Ashen and Esoteric. He looked over at his Proconsul, and wondered when Keirdagh would give the signal to collapse the entrance. The fate of the surviving entrance guardians would be sealed along with the tomb – but at least the enemy would be denied the use of the relic also.

Another heavy ordnance blast rocked their position, knocking Halcyon from his footing, as his eyes and nose were stung with dust from the explosion. He coughed and choked as he tried to clear his lungs, trying to get a better handle on the situation. With a blast like that, he thought, they might take the opportunity to advance on them. As the smoke cleared, Halcyon realized that they were down a man – the smoking corpse of Nephilim Lunelle lay in a heap on her heavy repeating blaster emplacement. Halcyon sighed, at least she died fighting, but her death now made their job nearly impossible.

Halcyon noticed Keirdagh standing up and moving out of the tomb entrance towards the enemy positions with a steely and determined look in his eyes. Halcyon shouted after him over the sound of blaster fire: “Yacks, what in the hell do you think you’re doing? Get back to the damn line!” The older man did not respond, he either did not hear the question over the noise of battle, or simply decided to ignore it, Halcyon did not know which.

At the same time, Halcyon heard rustling and shouting from inside of the tomb: “Get your ass moving! Don’t you hear the weapons fire? They need us!” Followed by: “I hear it. They’ve waited this long – they can wait a few more seconds – this guy is heavy!” Halcyon saw Rathus and Howie dragging a third male out of the tomb, both members of Taldryan with wide smiles on their face – evidently, they had found something (or at least someone).

Howlader, emerging from the tomb’s entranceway, realized that Keirdagh had left the safety of the defensive position, and was moving swiftly towards, instead of away from, the weapons fire. Howlader turned to Halcyon and screamed: “What in the hell is he doing? We’re not ready yet! He doesn’t need to go out in a damn fool blaze of glory!”

For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, Keirdagh let out more than a grunt in response: “Jac’s here.” With that, Cantor ignited his lightsaber and rushed out of the tomb, a look of determination in his eyes…


Korriban – The Valley of the Dark Lords
Outside Marka Ragnos’ Tomb

Keirdagh rushed out of the tomb into the waning sunlight of the Korriban day into an a scene that was completely alien to him. The intense fighting between the forces of Ashen and Esoteric had transformed the valley floor into a pockmarked mess of craters and shrapnel. The munitions that he and Halcyon had flung backward out of the cavern’s entrance had formed a trench that would have served as a better defensive barrier than any of the hastily prepared fortifications had. His blade held aloft, and moving to block blaster bolts of its own volition, Keirdagh locked his eyes on the horizon over the two fighting armies where the promised reinforcements were now arriving.

More than that though, the forces closest to the cavern’s entrance seemed to be fleeing rather than pressing their advantage. Though he had only barely registered Howlader and Rathus’ return, he could feel the malevolent pressure in the force that they had brought with them: the artifact that they had been seeking all this time. Keirdagh still had no idea what it was, but it apparently carried enough power in the force to turn Esoteric’s forces and send them crashing into Ashen’s with wild abandon. Temporarily at least—whether by design or not—the forces led by Jac Cotelin and Esoteric were working in concert, doing their utmost to trap the butcher of Antei in between them.

The slaughter seemed as though it would be indiscriminate, forces allied with Taldryan were falling upon Ashen’s tired forces with such abandon that one flank had already been turned. Blades from all three belligerents could now be seen clashing with one another, turning it from a pincer movement to an all-out brawl, and it was becoming clear that the butcher’s bill for this day would be high. But even as Keirdagh watched onward, he began to notice a pattern forming within the ranks of all the gathered forces. Surges within all of the lines seemed to be gathering speed, and converging on a single point where all the forces met.

Reaching out with the Force, Keirdagh knew exactly what those surges meant, and managed to brace himself for a conflagration of power unlike any seen in the universe for some ages. The crashing of these three titanic forces together resulted in an actual physical shockwave that swept across the field. Armies were literally knocked over from the explosive fury of three Grand Masters unleashed. Lightning swept from the sky, and the valley floor vibrated as though it was being shaken apart from the warring forces; a fact which Keirdagh supposed may actually be accurate.

Even as he watched on though, he found that his mind was unable to stay focused on the task at hand. He kept remembering back to the beginning of the mission when Jac had ordered him to bring the Nephilim. There was something strange in that moment, but Keirdagh had known they had more pressing matters than to debate a small point. The finality of the moment though, had been there, and it was something that Keirdagh had ignored. Looking outward, over a torn battlefield and watching one of his oldest friends battling with two dangerous and insane foes, it suddenly became clear to Keirdagh exactly what Jac had meant.

Unable to control himself, rage and fear for his friend started Keirdagh moving in the direction of a conflict that would surely kill him, even if he managed to wade through an enemy army before he got there. As blasters began burning closer to him, and the smell of scorched leather began assaulting his nose, Keirdagh felt as though an immense countenance crashed down upon him. He knew, somehow, that Jac could sense his mad rush forward, and fully aware of what was happening.

In the moment that Keirdagh saw Jac Cotelin – Lord of the Star Chamber, Son of Taldryan, and his friend – fall. Esoteric and Ashen had turned as one, and assaulted Cotelin. The older man’s defenses were deep, and layered; impenetrable by any single opponent and both of the cowardly murderers seemed to know it. Together they struck out, and they overbore their opponent.

The sound of blood rushing through his ears, and his own rage drowned out any and all distractions. Keirdagh could see nothing except for Jac’s murderers, and the cries of his friends and allies behind him were drowned out in the maelstrom of his wrath.

Rage though, was not armour against the mortar that exploded nearly directly in front of him, flinging the old Dark Jedi Master backward. The last thing that he saw before darkness closed over his eyes was a lurid splotch of green leaning down over him.


Halcyon rubbed the dirt and grime from his face as he leaned against the ancient stone outside the Tomb of Marka Ragnos. A multitude of voices filled the air, shouting at one another as they scurried about their duties. He rubbed at his eyes some more, taking a deep breath to settle himself and peer out at the scene before him. The Resistance had won this day. They had held the line against odds that still made him queasy, and many did not make it to the end.

The amalgam of units that had come together as one was a dream that the “true” Brotherhood had espoused, and yet it had taken those whom the Grand Master had deemed the rebels to make it work. The Palatineans were re-fortifying the defenses into something more permanent, while many of the Odanites were ferrying back and forth the dead and wounded dark jedi. Taldryan may have been the focal point of the enemy, but it had been a truly united effort that had saved them all.

“Update! Someone give me a kriffing update!”

A familiar voice had cut through Halcyon’s reverie, bringing him back to the present. A small smile cracked his face as he pushed himself off the wall, and turned towards the voice. He passed Rathus who was sitting on the ground, lost in his own world as a book was sprawled across his lap. Up ahead he saw Howlader looking lost, pacing back and forth around a body that lay prone on the floor. The voice came from his body, as it continued a stream of invectives and orders.

“Halc! Why the hell is no one giving me an update?!”

“Yacks,” Halcyon started, trying to keep the grin from his face, “I’m handling things. Your job is to heal. How in the hell you survived is beyond me. I’m assuming it’s because the powers-that-be don’t want to deal with your winning personality, so they decided to keep you here with us instead.”

Keirdagh was about to respond, but Halcyon was interrupted by a Sergeant who had come running in.

“Sir!” the Sergeant saluted, before handing him a pad, “current enemy movements, as ordered, sir!”

Halcyon nodded in response, dismissing the soldier with a wave as his eyes scanned the report.

“Going to fill me in, Halc, or waiting until old age finally finishes me off?”

Halcyon managed to stop himself from rolling his eyes as he looked back down at Cantor. Keirdagh had barely managed to survive the mortar blast, and it was a miracle that all of his limbs were still attached, more or less, to his body. Much of his armour had either been destroyed, or was currently fused to his body from the intense heat. Shrapnel had made swiss cheese out of various parts of his body as well, and it was only the marvels of modern medical technology, and an iron will, that had kept him from screaming out in agony at every turn.

“Esoteric and Muz’s forces are a disorganized mess,” Halcyon explained. “They are both leaderless at the moment. No one has seen either Muz or Esoteric since just after that mortar went off on you. Without them, neither of their forces seem to be able to put themselves back together. Our own forces are doing an admirable job of mopping things up and securing the area.”

A commotion interrupted the talk between the two Elders. Keirdagh groaned as he tried to lift his head to see what was happening, but Howlader was at his side instantly, helping him getting into a better position.

“Mav!” Halcyon called out, greeting Telaris ‘Mav” Cantor, the Voice of the Brotherhood, as he came directly at them. The Dark Councillor was flanked by a contingent of unknown forces, but Mav was one of the few allies Taldryan still had on the Dark Council.

“Halc,” Telaris responded before grimacing at seeing Keirdagh on the floor.

“Nice seeing you too, Mav,” Keirdagh growled.

Mav waved a hand in apology, “Yacks…” he began, tentatively, “where’s Jac?”

Keirdagh’s head fell backwards, all of the bravado he had been maintained washing out of him for just an instant. “I don’t know, Mav. I…I saw him fall, and then there was nothing. I haven’t sensed him since, and neither has anyone here.” He could see Telaris’ eyes widen in shock, as well as realization of what was to come. “I guess you’re in charge now, Mav.”