[GJW XIV] Arcona Run On

Phase 1 Primary Theater: Nesolat Platform

PRIMARY OBJECTIVE : Board the Nesolat and ensure that the platform’s Administrative and Observation section successfully departs for the surface. Protect and evacuate personnel, artifacts, and research materials in any way possible while engaging Collective forces on the station.

SITUATION : The Shadow Academy’s orbital Nesolat Platform is The Collective’s primary target in the early phase of its attack on Arx. The Collective has fully committed the might of its Battle Group Elysium to the assault, and Brotherhood forces are mounting a desperate defense as the station attempts to evacuate personnel and artifacts to the surface, and to disengage its Administrative and Observation section for an emergency return to the surface Academy on Arx itself. Collective forces on the station include Hive Mind Marines, which pose an unprecedented threat due to their superhuman coordination and lack of fear or pain. Exercise extreme caution when engaging them.

If your Clan provides aid to the Nesolat , the Shadow Academy may be able to save much of the station by returning it to the surface. The Imperial Reclamation Service will reward your Clan’s assistance following the conclusion of the War.

Member Participant Snapshots

Once added, snapshots should not be changed/updated at any point. Please write characters only from the below snapshot:

Team Aurek
Lucine Vasano
Strong
Tyga
Skar
Magik

Team Besh
Aay’han
Archian
Aru
Tali
Qyreia

NPC:
Yumni

Team Cresh
Karran
Aiden
Sulith
Tybalt

NPC
Rett

Team Dorn
Luka Zarkot
Sera Kaern
Diyrian ‘Diy’ Grivna
Zodac Polcim

NPC:
Dax Ryder

Team Esk
Emere
Alaisy
Atyriu
Marick

Links and Resources

The Bridge
The Will of our Lady Acclamator-class Assault Ship
Arx System

The scene on the bridge of the Will of our Lady was one of practiced efficiency as the Assault ship was brought out of hyperdrive. Lucine Vasano watched on one screen as the white-streaks of hyperspace resolved itself into a velvet-black starfield. In the center of the screen, the Nesolat Platform orbited above the sapphire surface of Arx. It was obvious that the platform had seen better days. Large portions of the platform showed damage, and a nimbus of debris encircled it. It was impossible to tell how much of the debris once belonged to the station and how much of it belonged to the wreckage of other ships that wove around Nesolat as Collective and Brotherhood forces fought for control of the area surrounding the Shadow Academy satellite.

Lucine’s eyes flicked to the rainbow-colored shapes of the Invicta II and Selen’s Song, both of which had emerged from hyperspace a minute before their arrival, to ensure the area was secure. She allowed herself a moment of irritation. Uji Tameike had had the good taste to return the ship to a more respectable palette prior to leaving his command position. Unfortunately, Kordath’s first order of business had been to restore the Arconan ships to their brightly colored hues. And now, with the majority of the treasury going toward rebuilding Selen and expanding Arconan influence, there was simply no money left to devote to frivolities like color coordinating the ships.

She glanced down at her armor. At least black went with everything.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the Captain finish his consultation with his officers and approach. “What is the status?” she asked as he drew near enough that they could converse.

“The advance ships are in battle stations,” he replied. “They stand ready to provide cover for our approach. We are ready to begin the operation at your command.”

“Well, I see no reason to make them wait for us,” Aiden Deshra put in.

“Agreed, darling. It is gauche to be too fashionably late,” Lucine added. “We are going below to address the boarding parties. Inform me when we begin our approach. Good luck and may the Force be with you.”

Together, the Consul and Proconsul stepped toward the turbolift and descended to the hangar, where the Arconans who had volunteered to assist the Nesolat Platform were gathered. The mood was solemn and quiet as the assembled Arconans mentally prepared for the battle to come. As Lucine and Aiden emerged from the turbolift, all eyes turned toward them.

Lucine paused for effect as she surveyed the crowd. Each Arconan was armed and armored, each and every one of them was hardened by battle and ready to take the fight to the Collective once more. She met each person’s eyes briefly in turn, offering them a smile.

“Hello, darlings! We will be beginning the operation shortly. Once we are underway, it will take approximately twenty-three minutes to make the approach and dock at the Nesolat platform. Ordinarily, I would spend a few minutes giving an impassioned speech about the importance of fighting the good fight and sticking it to the Collective. But each and every one of you is aware of the threat that they pose, and why it is important to remove them. And frankly, I believe that the time would be better spent strategizing with your individual boarding parties.

“So I will keep it simple. Good luck out there, be safe, and drinks will be on me when we return to Dajorra. The Proconsul will now brief you of some pertinent new intel, and then you will divide into your individual groups as we prepare to board.”

Aiden stepped forward and faced the boarding parties with a collected gaze. He knew he was sending all of his fellow Arconans into a dangerous situation, one some may not make it back from. But it had to be done. He was a leader now. He was responsible for them. Giving one final look to the woman who placed him in this position, he began to speak.

“We know from the latest communication with the station’s security forces that the Collective have sent their esteemed battle group Elysium into the fray. They are well trained and are not to be taken lightly. Furthermore, it is now known there are a new breed of Collective soldier. They are called Hive Mind Marines, and they are in play as well. Take extreme caution with these forces. They feel no pain. They know nothing save for their mission. They will not hesitate to kill you and you should not hesitate to do the same to them.”

Pausing momentarily Aiden searched for any broken resolve in his clansmen. These were the best of the best of Arcona and he knew they would do their duty well.

“Strong, Rrogon, Magik, and Tyga, our Consul will assist you in recovering any artifacts you can. You will also be protecting any survivors you find along the way. You are team Aurek. Tali, Archian, Aay’han, and Qyreia, you will meet up with Aru. He was stationed aboard conducting research. Once you find him, search for and recover whatever intel and research you can. If you come across any artifacts along the way, recover those as well. You are team Besh. Karran, Sulith, Tybalt, and myself will be taking the fight to the Collective. We will join with the security forces and hold off the enemies advancement for as long as we can. We are team Cresh.”

Pausing for a moment, Aiden controlled his breath. He met his team’s gaze and gave them a slight nod of encouragement. They were in for a dangerous game. As much as he liked a good fight, this would not be an easy venture.

“Sera, Luka, Diy, and Grot, you will make sure that the administration and observation sections are secured for evacuation to the planet’s surface. You are team Dorn. Finally, Atyriu, Marick, Alaisy, and Emere, you are tasked with saving as many artifacts and lives as you can. There are students, workers, and crew members. Get them to safety. You are team Esk."

Having completed the assignment announcements the Proconsul gave a final gazing pass over the Arconan’s.

“Once you have all succeeded in your duties, make your way to the central core of the station. We will be unable to use shuttles for an extraction, so we will be using the core as our escape route. Good luck to you all. Stay safe, stay alert, and stay prepared to exhume the Collective from their goals. Now head to your shuttles. We make for the Nesolat Platform ten minutes ago. Arcona Invicta!”

Team Esk


A hand fell on her shoulder.

“It’s time.”

She did not startle, knowing the presence as her own heart and shadow. She merely exhaled a soft hum.

“Mmm.”

“What is it?”

“They are in so much pain. There’s so much fear…” she whispered. Her head tilted towards the station they approached, on the other side of a viewport before them, in a starfield of death that she could not see, then towards the enemy fleet, “…so much anger.”

The Hapan beside her only blinked slowly, quiet a heartbeat, before murmuring, “You want to try.”

“Of course. But I know we cannot save them all.” A ghost of a smile, just between them, a moment waiting between worlds. “So we try. They’re ready?”

“Yes.”

“Then let us go.”

Together, the two former Shadow Lords turned in lockstep, one all in white and color, one a canvass of black and gray monotones. The hull hummed under their feet as they moved through the halls, destined for the hangar and transports armed and ready to be shot down on approach. The other teams also gathered, whispered their prayers or tended their gear, in whatever shape their pre-battle rituals took.

The pair boarded their own assigned vessel, and though they stood not hand-in-hand, they stopped as one. The other two occupants waiting in the [bay] turned to them as their pilots and gunners finished their pre-flight checks.

Emere Galo, heavily armored and weapons secure to military standards, rose from her seat the second she saw them. Her boots clicked as she snapped to attention, saluting sharply — though the thought crossed her mind if it was more appropriate to bow or some such.

“Consuls Emeritus,” the oceanborn woman said, hard-consonants and loud tones. “Lord Tyris, Lady Arconae.”

Atyiru smiled at her, a quiet little chuckle. Marick merely blinked again, an almost imperceptible sigh of breath curling in his lungs.

“That’s sweet, dear Emere, but unnecessary. You needn’t stand on such formalities. Nor you, dear Alaisy.”

Alaisy Tir’eivra had also stood, if more languidly, upon their entrance, gliding to her feet like liquid ink, pearlescent, towering, and supple in her suit. The crown of her head brushed the shuttle’s ceiling, flattening her otherwise flawless tail of hair, and she gave an elaborate Imperial bow that was just as perfect. Even her footwear did not impede her.

“Lord, Lady,” came her modulated, coal-smoke voice from behind the filters of her mask and helmet, formal despite the Miraluka’s statements. Atyriu only huffed, lifting her chin up, up, to smile to the Sith as well.

“It is so good to meet you both again, without, hum…ancient spirits and temples running amok all in our way. I only wish it were under happier circumstances. But these are not that. This is a critical moment. Today we will fight. We will take lives, and we may surrender ours, and we all together will find peace in the Force that did not grant, standing us so opposed. But this is a worthy thing. We must protect those who cannot protect themselves. Even if we hate, and fear, and feel anger. Be strong. We will get through this.”

No one commented on her speech; Marick and Emere reticent at best by nature, and Alaisy expectant of such gestures. She could feel, however, the resolve in each of them; resolve for one thing or another.

She would need to direct that resolve.

“Decimator-One, ready for take off,” their pilot called, while his copilot echoed it. “Take off in Trill-minus five minutes.”

Like breathing, she reached out again, and as her senses encompassed the Nesolat, she murmured, “Nearly everyone is still onboard…many panicking or in pain or despondent. Violent or enraged, determined. And…” She frowned deeply. “And more…there’s something else. Just some of them. They’re…” she swallowed convulsively. “They feel— I am not certain they’re cognizant. Perhaps drugged, o-or…”

She was making excuses, too disturbed by the words that had leapt to her tongue. They don’t feel like people.

“Whatever they are, we will learn soon. And if they are enhanced, it’s not like we haven’t dealt with this kind of thing before,” Marick whispered to Atyiru.

…help me… called the voices in her mind.

Breathing steadily, the Miraluka nodded. She folded her arms behind her back, shoulders and spine straight.

“Regardless, this is our mission. Nothing else. There are people down there, and I don’t intend to leave a single one behind.”

A pause, punctuated by more confirmations from the pilots, the noise of other aircraft taking off, the rip of afterburn through the hangar, and then—

“My Lady,” Alaisy spoke again. "Our mission is to secure the artifacts in the Academy as well. The Proconsul ordered as much— it is why my specialties were needed here."

“I’m aware, my friend,” Atyiru replied, soft. “But I am choosing to defy that mission. If we can preserve any artifacts, that is well. But foremost, we are going to rescue these people.”

Though Alaisy’s face was hidden behind her visor, sight mattered little to the blind empath. She could feel the sudden rise of tension in the compartment, the bubbling of uncertainty, dissent.

“Do you contest? Anything at all?”

Marick, she knew, would be with her. Alaisy seemed to be collecting her thoughts. Emere though…

“No, ma’am.”

A lie.

“Come now, dear heart. Speak your mind. I know you want to save those people. Everything inside you screams it.” Her head tilted, ears flicking. “Well. That and something about…baby Karkarodons singing? Your daughter liked the song when she was little and it still gets stuck in your head.”

The military woman seemed suddenly taken aback; her mind reeled with shock, deep discomfort.

“Oh, dear. Too much?” Atyiru asked.

“Slightly,” Marick murmured.

“Well then,” she sighed. “What of a compromise?”

Team Esk


While he lacked Atyiru’s empathetic…talents, Marick Tyris was able to discern what he needed from his instinctual attention to detail. Galo had the practiced thousand-yard stare of a seasoned veteran that was used to taking orders from all manner of superior officers—competent or otherwise. The muscles of her defined jawline were clenched slightly, but a cursory glance would never have taken notice of the slight tightness of her neck and shoulders. Despite knowing full well what a pair of Elder Force Disciples were capable of, there was no fear or trepidation in her stance—should she need to act, the Weapon Specialist would not hesitate to survive or adapt.

Marick nodded once, a silent approval of the woman’s resolve. He had read her files, of course, and knew enough about Emere from his review of the Voidbreaker and stories Zig had passed on to him. While a daughter of the law at heart, based on her service record, Marick could tell that Galo would not begrudge the two Arconae’s decision.

Tir’eivra, on the other hand, was harder to read. The slender, shiny Sith kept her expressions guarded behind her shadowed visor, every curve and angle of her body enveloped in an alchemical bodysuit that similarly hid the other common tells Humans exhibited in social interactions. Alaisy did not scratch her wrist, fidget with jewelry, or tense any muscle. Stoic and shapely and still as a statue. All that said, Marick knew the Sith’s history and fascination with ancient artifacts.

Atyiru started to make a case, but Marick held up a hand and looked to his partner for what might have seemed like approval. Atyiru paused, turned her blindfold towards his too-blue eyes, and smiled slightly while taking a half-step back to give him the floor.

“Alaisy Tir’eivra,” the former leader of the Inquisitorius started calmly, his lilted accent carrying through the shuttle without need of raising the volume of his voice. “Your service record speaks highly to your proficiency in carrying out your missions. Your exploits in the Lyra-3k-a system did not go unnoticed."

Marick gestured out the narrow viewport. “Perhaps there is a means to both objectives. I know how we can secure some of the artifacts in question, but to clear that path, we will need to work alongside the Inquisitorius Field Agents that have no doubt been deployed. I trained them, know their patterns, and can ensure our success. The only question that remains is: do you trust us?”

Atyiru stepped back up, shoulder to shoulder with Marick as his too-blue eyes stared into the Sith’s darkened visor, probing, waiting, searching, hopeful.

Team Esk


Alaisy took in Marick’s steel gaze and thought deeply about the question, perhaps too far.

“Trust you, or anyone, for that matter? Absolutely not,” the Sith replied with a hiss of pressurized air escaping her mask. “We can achieve both goals at the same time. Whatever artifacts we find, I will be able to activate some, perhaps to help protect those in need. My inherent talents to track links within the Force will simplify identification of priorly studied artifacts that may benefit us in the conflict ahead. It will require all but the faintest touch for me to figure out their inner workings,” the tall woman turned her head towards Atyiru and began using hand gestures to exemplify her point despite the Miraluka reading more from emotion than sight.

“None of the Summit nor Dark Council said anything about not using these precious heirlooms. Perhaps Tyris’ knowledge of the Inquisitorius’ inner workings can assist us in finding all the most recently researched and more powerful relics. The more recently used, the better, as traces over a month old are more difficult to access without proper time and equipment,” Alaisy paused and looked over to Emere this time, who had her arms crossed, wondering why there was a need for so much talking and many hints at defiance.

Alaisy’s voice became more croaky as she continued, showing them just how rarely she gave such drawn out speeches. She tapped the crystal on her necklace with her finger, turning it from a crimson color to emerald and continued.

“Under normal circumstances, we would never be given access to these trinkets, let alone be given the opportunity to unleash their power. Who knows what our enemies are up to? We will likely need this boon! Or at the very least, not let this wonderful opportunity slip us by.”

The latex-clad woman hoped that both Elders would at least see the benefit of taking with them only the benign, well-understood artifacts and leaving the dangerous ones behind. She crossed her arms and tapped her heeled platforms, waiting for a reaction to her rant. And reading the Major’s mind seemed beyond the Sith’s capabilities with Emere’s stance remaining unflinched and disciplined.

Team Esk


Her daughter? Baby Karkarodons? Caraya’s soul. She hadn’t remembered that bloody forsaken song in ages, and was immediately reminded why she hated it. For a nanosecond, Emere Galo’s usual facade was vaporized into a look of consternation and if anyone had, save the Miraluka, blinked they likely missed it. As far as she was concerned, Atyriu was a total stranger to her. Sure they had met before, but it was brief and didn’t give her the right to go digging into her head with stupid Force kae.

Brushing off the mental intrusion, she folded her arms over her chest as they began to discuss the mission and its details further. The deviation from the objective did not sit well with her but as the assassin mentioned, both objectives were indeed possible and the elder Miraluka was correct; Emere would much rather assist and escort the students away from danger. Maybe even give a few of the invading chuff-sucking schuttas honorable deaths.

The latex-clad woman’s speech about the artifacts was nearly yawn-inducing. If they hadn’t found an edge for the war against the Collective in the past — besides making sure they were maintained in Brotherhood possession — what would make them so special now? Or maybe Alaisy wanted them for herself. It wasn’t a secret the tall Sith was into some strange things.

Emere’s dark eyes looked at each of her squad members, her eyes lingering on Atyriu before she finally voiced her opinion, or rather a summation of the new plan they seemed to have established. But first.

“Respectfully, ma’am, do not ‘read’ me and divulge those details out loud.” She might not have seen Emere’s face but the Miraluka certainly could feel how she felt. She continued, “We can split up then. I’ll follow Lady Atyiru to help the students and anyone else who might need it.The two of you secure those artifacts.” She nodded to Tyris and Tir’eivra. “Give the Collective hell and let’s all leave here with air in our lungs.”

Team Aurek

"We are certain this map we were given is correct?" inquired the General, squinting down at the datapad, before looking up at the flickering lights and degrading surroundings. The station was under attack, there was quite the difference between the norm.

“Right, then left, then straight, and right again, darling, it is quite simple,” spoke the Shadow Lady, walking past him.

The other members of the team, the Kaleesh, Twi’lek, and other Human, followed the pair closely. Even with the background of droning alarms Rrogon and Strong could be heard walking, between cybernetic limbs and heavy armor. Their unit was not one that would be accomplishing much in the means of stealth.

“And here we are, dears,” stated Lucine, waving a hand at a sign set in the bulkhead next to an open blast door.

Artifact Reclamation and Storage it read, and frantic noises could be heard within. Skar and Strong stepped through first, weapons at the ready and grim countenances. The compartment was a bit bigger than the corridors they’d been walking to get here, another set of blast doors at the other end, though these were half shut it and non-functional it appeared. A few members of the Nesolat’s station security huddle against it, peeking through the opening and firing blasters to keep a yet unseen enemy at bay.

Inside the storeroom was frantic researchers and assistants shoving items both mundane and eccentric-looking into crates and bags, whatever they could carry. One saw the pair of Arconans and let out a startled scream, prompting the others to turn and stare, some going for sidearms.

“Please, all of you calm yourselves. We’re here to help,” came the pleasant tones of the Consul, stepping between the towering pair that had preceded her. “Continue your work, we shall ensure the fruits of your labor are not lost.”

“They’re saving us!”

“I think she just said they’re saving the artifacts, Phin.”

"Tyga, stay close," rumbled the big Chiss. “Magik, Skar, may I suggest you do some forced reconnoiter beyond that door,” he said, nodding towards the makeshift defense the guards were stationed at. "It sounds as if there may be the first signs of trouble out there."

Team Besh

“Got one!”

“Great shot, kid! Now just do that another five times,” Qyreia shouted back at Aay’han from her own gunnery turret. Slewing the twin laser cannons around to track a Collective Z-95 Headhunter that strafed past them, she gritted her teeth as the sluggish targeting computer gained a lock and fired. A flurry of ruby red bolts skewered its spaceframe like an insect and the fighter exploded into a cloud of space dust.

“Please continue to occupy the hostile fightercraft,” Yumni Ha stated from the pilot’s station, her breathless monotone quite at odds with the sudden jolts and shudders of void combat. The Esperanza groaned in protest as another salvo of fire raked her bow, threatening to strip her remaining shields. But the Nesolat was so close.

They could not fail now.

“How much longer? Ve shouldt already be on the station,” Tali Sroka inquired tensely in her accented tone of Basic. Standing behind the pilot, the Twi’lek was bedecked in pale armor that extended down her lekku, a pair of lightsabers dangling from her belt and a blaster pistol strapped to her thigh.

“The closest hangar bay aboard the Nesolat is just beyond that sensor cluster,” Yumni gestured at a hitherto undamaged section of the dark space station that squatted over Arx like a bureaucratic bird. “I will drop you off in—” she checked the readings, “—two minutes and thirty-seven seconds. Presuming we are not destroyed before that.”

“Let’s try for the alive-option,” the purple Twi’lek grunted, turning around and heading to the crew area. “You’ve earnedt your bonus, Ha.”

“I know,” the Kaminoan replied, adjusting thrusters and reverting power to the depleted shields like second nature.

A third Headhunter met its end under the murderous fire of Aay’han and Qyreia, and for a moment at least there was peace. The Twi’lek took a moment to center herself as she climbed down a ladder to the central crew compartment, letting her senses grace the everflow of the Living Force. She felt tremors upon its surface. Great, turbulent tremors that rippled across the cool. It gave her a bad feeling about things to come.

Her boots hit the deck and she turned around to “Archian, are you ready to go?”

The male Shistavanen shifted in his seat and nodded. “Yes, Master. I am ready.”

She could tell he was not, but neither had she when she’d first deployed for war. But he would do well, she was equally certain of it.

“Goodt, because ve are about to touch down in…”

“Brace.”

Yumni’s warning came but a second before a sudden sense of falling, followed by a jarring shudder as the Esperanza passed inside the Nesolat’s hangar bay and artificial gravity field. The venerable XS Light freighter groaned in protest as its pilot pushed it to its limits, swerving around inside the cramped tertiary hangar, before slowing their momentum with a sudden blast of the ion engines that left scorch marks on the bulkhead walls.

The moment the ship finally settled on its spot, Tali and Archian were running down the boarding ramp, weapons drawn and expecting hostiles. None presented themselves.

“What the frak?” Qyreia’s sharp voice sounded from behind them but a moment later. “All that hurry and no Collective to shoot?”

“I’m sure you’ll get plenty of chances, hot shot,” Aay’han smirked as she landed on deck with her jetpack.

The air in the cool hangar bay reeked of academia and the fresh ionic discharge of the Esperanza’s engines. Distant thudds of turbolaser fire reverberated through the air, breaking the eerie silence of a technological tomb, though for now warning klaxons were mercifully absent. The Collective hadn’t breached this particular portion of the station—yet.

Tali ignored their banter and tapped her comms. “Aru? Are you there? Ve’ve landedt.”

“Quaestor, you’ve made it onto the station? Excellent news! I am holed up in sector seven, sublevel Cresh. I’ve secured some items for transport, but my colleagues are quite insistent we not leave the paleontological archive behind and it is quite—extensive.” Aru Law’s familiar voice, however distorted by combat interference, put a smile on Tali’s tensed lips.

She was about to voice her reply when a sharp crack sounded over the link, followed by the unmistakable whine of discharging blasters.

“Aru!” she shouted in alarm, but the link was already dead. Turning to her fellow Arconans, Tali’s eyes were burning with purpose. “Ve have to findt him, now.”

Team Aurek

They found themselves in battle again. Nothing was of a surprise to Magik. The blast doors were open halfway as blaster bolts came screaming through the corridor. One by one the ricocheted off the durasteel walls inching closer and closer. Magik stood in front of his Consul deflecting incoming rounds from his guard. The blast doors were in sight as he tried to get a grip on the circumstances. As he moved in the blaster bolts were leaving burns across the corridor while he made his way in that direction. It seemed the two armed guards were firing from behind the blast doors at their convenience.

Magik walked calmly down the corridor deflecting the blaster rounds as they were directed his way. As he was in range he ran full speed directly in front of the blast doors. As the two armed guards knelt back against the blast doors as they tried to catch their breath. Magik quickly struck the guard to his left as he was sliced from the torso. The guard to his right came attacking through the blast doors with a vibroblade. Magik struck the vibroblade as the guard was turned around from the glancing strike. Magik then raised his guard with both hands as he drove his blade through his back. The guard fell to the ground, Magik retracted his blade and waved the others onward. The corridor was secure up to the blast doors, but what lie ahead was undetermined. Skar, whistled in Magik’s direction as they moved forward through the blast doors

Team Aurek

As Skar passed by the now fresh dead he could smell the pungent reek of cauterized blood. He could never get used to that smell no matter how many times he smelled it. It stung his nose and lingered for hours even well after the battles were done and gone, but he shook his head and moved on anyway; lingering on the grimness of battle was never a good mindset to be in while on a mission there would be time for that later.

As the Kaleesh stepped through the blast door his crimson eye scanned down the hallway for immediate threats while his right hand tightened on the lightsaber it held still unactivated but ready to spring to life on a moment’s notice. The Sith’s initial scan revealed nothing, no movement or other threats at the immediate moment and that worried the Kaleesh as he stopped another several steps forward, his body tense.

As he began to slow trek down the hallway the Force shot through him as his saber ignited to life, moving to block a well-placed blaster bolt that would have slammed clean into his mask and through the back of his head. Several more blaster bolts screamed down the halfway at the Kaleesh and Magik behind him The two Arconans sprung into action deflecting blaster fire away from themselves and began to advance once more to close the distance between themselves and their unseen attacker to end this fight as quickly as possible. It was better to not leave Lucine alone with her blue guard and all those artifacts for long.

Team Aurek

With a curt nod, the Twi’lek sidled up to the hulking Chiss, his lightsaber humming away at his side. Tyga watched as the researchers, and their assistants, hurriedly packed artefacts into heavy crates and protective bags for transport off-station. Sounds of the battle emanated from beyond the temporary defence that was the partially-closed blast doors in the compartment.

Being told to stay close, and out of combat was something he was not accustomed to hearing, but thought it would be better to stay on the Chiss’ good side for this fight since the Collective forces were out for Arcona’s blood. One of the assistants struggled to load texts into a crate, so Tyga switched off the lightsaber, holstered it on his belt and helped out.

“Hmmm, these certainly do look familiar,” he said to the assistant, as he carefully packed the texts into the crate, the covers and writing reminding him of some of Clan Nilim’s tomes.

Soon, the crate was full and ready to be moved to a waiting transport. Using a hover-jack, the assistant left the room, so Tyga thought it would be best if he escorted the assistants and their precious cargoes to the ships. Here was hoping that the Collective were not waiting around the next corner. He approached Strong and looked at him, hearing the battle go up one notch.

Nudging the hulking Chiss, the Twi’lek looked up at his clanmate. “I’ll help them escort the artefacts to the ships,” Tyga unholstered his lightsaber, ignited the bright orange blade and he took the point ahead of the researchers, assistants and cargo, following the route by memory.

Checking every nook and cranny on the route, Tyga breathed a sigh of relief. The Collective must have been heavily distracted by Magik and Skar. The group arrived at a docking station, where the researchers and assistants boarded the transport, while its droids took the artefacts aboard. Tyga felt quite chuffed with himself in regard to his mission; he had more than likely saved important texts from being captured or destroyed and could be preserved once more.

Team Dorn

Sera had never thought that getting to the damned battle was going to be the hard part.

Their objective, as laid out by Lucine, was painfully simple. Move in, assist station security, protect the administrators, and prevent the Nesolat’s administration and observation facility from falling into enemy hands. Her team was incredibly well suited to the task. Spectre Cell was the pride of the AAF, or so Sera liked to think. Properly placed, she was sure that they would prevail over the Collective. They’d done it before, right?

Sera clenched her jaw tight as The Lady’s Flower rattled around her, rocked by some unseen impact against the vessel’s deflector shields. Strapped into her seat, bundled with her armaments and shining bronzed armor, there wasn’t much that she could do but sit in trust in Diy’s skill… which she did implicitly. Taking a deep breath, her blue-eyed gaze swivelled around to check up on those under her command. Three others joined her, strapped into their own seats. Dax and Zodac were jawing along without a care in the world. Imperial veterans, this wasn’t their first hot drop, and obviously neither of them thought it would be their last. Then, there was Luka. The human was slightly green in the face, though they seemed mostly occupied by scritching at the Nexu head currently sprawled, purring, in their lap. Bico, as she’d been introduced, seemed like it could care less about the battle raging outside the hull. In fact, it seemed to enjoy how the rumble of the deck underneath its grey-furred belly.

That left…the droids.

“I can’t wait to be scrapped when your veggie-headed bimbo crashes us, 4R,” spat Motraka, the B1’s modulated whine cutting through the silence near the back of the vessel. Even as the ancient battledroid was surrounded on all sides by KX droids double its size and half its age, it didn’t seem to care.

“Lady Diyrian is not a bimbo,” one responded indignantly, its shining gold and silver frame seeming to shake with irritation. “She is a fantastic pilot, more than you deserve. Besides…”

”You already look like a scrap-heap,” interjected the other two droids in unison, before high-fiving each other with robotic gusto. That spurred another reply from Motraka -something about their female creators and his ferrofluid injector- before all four fell into argument, eventually devolving into a storm of binary.

Another explosion rocked the vessel. Sera just sighed, pushing the restraint bar from her shoulders and moving -unsteadily- to her feet, the crisp white cloth of her cloak swaying behind her. “I’m gonna check on Diy,” she offered to the others. “If anyone needs something…”

“You wanna drink, lass?” Zodac piped up, his sagging, scarred skin warping into a grin. Furtively, he revealed a flask that had been hidden under the dun cloth of his poncho, the grin widening. “Don’t tell. S’good, old Imperial stuff. Dax is a fan.”

“‘Course I’m a fan!” interjected the other old soldier, pulling the flask from Zodac’s hand and swilling it back. “Ginger isn’t payin’ me enough to try and do this job sober. Besides, a drink helps dull the edge of a hot landing like nothin’ else,” he finished with a half-smile, offering the flask to Sera. The Zabrak gave a huffing laugh, folding her face into her gauntleted hands.

“…you know how much trouble you’d be in if I brought this up later? I’m supposed to be leading you guys,” she stated, a toothy smile creeping across her features. Zodac just laughed.

“Think we care?”

“Nope. Probably not. Gimme,” she stated, holding her hand out.

He never managed to give it to her. Before she could close her grasp over the flask, something slammed into the hull, and the terrible screech of rending metal filled their ears. A moment later, the red flash of warning lights filled the Flower’s interior, accompanied by a warbling siren.

“…Sithspit!” Sera breathed, eyes going wide. Then, without another moment of hesitation, she turned on her heel and sprinted for the cockpit, her cloak flaring out behind her.

Karran Val’teo regarded his proconsul with a discerning eye. He had not yet had the opportunity to interact very much with the human, but his reputation spoke volumes. A capable warrior, and talented in the Force. But the Zabrak was unsure if Aiden had the stomach for the kind of fight they would be heading into.

He turned to the other two members of his team. Two Togorians. Karran had fought beside Sulith more times than he could count and counted them as one of his most trusted allies and friends. The other, Tybalt, was a bit more of an unknown factor. He was obviously large and strong, as well as a Force User, but beyond that, he could not be sure.

As Aiden rejoined their group, Karran gave a respectful nod. “As you heard the proconsul say, we will be mounting a counterattack against the Collective forces already on board. They may have struck first, but we will strike back. We will strike hard. We will show no mercy. We take no prisoners and give no quarter. If they had their way, they would see Force Users wiped from the face of the galaxy, and we will show them the same courtesy.”

Sulith shifted on their feet. The idea of showing no mercy was discomforting. But Karran had never led them astray before. The Togorian looked to their captain, “Even if they surrender?”

“Based on everything I have seen of the Collective, if their troops surrender, it is more than likely a trap.”

Team Dorn

Heart pounding in her ears, Diyrian could hardly hear the claxons ringing in the background, excluded by her adrenaline. She peeled her hands from the pilot controls, slumping back against her chair while the last minute flashed in her mind.

Seconds after popping out of hyperdrive, the Collective forces had jumped on them — a squadron of headhunters. Diy had been in a scrap or a few in space and her co-pilot lacked combat experience, yet together they made a cocksure team. Trusting in the heart of The Lady’s Flower, she dug deep into its capabilities, pulling on those thrusters and taking speed in the game of tail chasing. With the cannons on this bird forward facing, she had to loop back in attempts to get a few good hits in. Those starfighter stuck like glue to her rear though, crimson lasers grazing the shields of the KST-100 as they careened closer to their destination.

Diy spotted the quadrijets seconds before L4-C1A had her bright idea, commandeering control and driving the fight into the midst of bomb-packed space tugs. Zelosian curses laid on thick, the Kiffar had yanked them sideways, just clearing between two when a headhunter collided into them. The explosion detonated licked up much of the Lady’s remaining shields. Gritting her teeth, Diy brought the ship into the nearest Nesolat hangar fast and hot.

You are welcome,” a electronic voice snapped her focus. A wide grin splayed across her face as the Zelosian-wannabe panted.

“I’d said ‘let’s lose these nerfherders,’ not drive through a space minefield,” she addressed, blue-green eyes looking to the interface that flashed under the crimson lights.

Your limitations on strategic flight maneuvers was minimizing our chances of survival. You are welcome,” smugly replied L4-C1A, the droid brain and co-pilot — or as it preferred the head pilot — of the ship.

“Oh yeah, basic pilot?” Diy rolled her eyes as she shot back her jokeful taunt on the Droid’s programming. The sharp sound of her harness’ buckles clanged against the metal back of the chair and she bounced to her feet, fingers administering a quick code on the terminal before ruffling in a nearby panel compartment.

The door to the cockpit hissed open as Sera rushed in, white cloak flowing behind her. The Zabrack’s proud brow was set with a mix of concern, seriousness, and anticipation. “What happened?”

Diyrian flashed a toothy grin, taking a couple tabs of Vutalamine before replying, “Had some friends pop in, weren’t real respectful of personal space—”

The cockpit shifted under foot, causing the pair to catch their balance as the surviving landing gears propped up the ship at an awkward angle. L4-C1A interjected, “The hatch has fifty percent of available clearance available for exit now.

But neither of the organic women seemed to be paying attention. The settling of the landing gear had drew their attention to the hanger outside. Among the destroyed crates, crushed drones, and the x-wing pinned in front of the KST-100, figures shifted into cover and formation. It was hard to tell whether or not they were Collective or the Nesolat station forces.

“Showtime?” Diy smiled, pulling one of her pistols from the belt attached around her flight suit and twirling it.

Sera nodded and, despite the seriousness of the stakes and the lives endangered she felt, was eager to head into the fight, trusting fully in their ability to help. “Let’s grab the others.”

1 Like

Team Besh

Archive 4549 Besh

“Frak this damned commlink!” Aru Law threw away the innocent piece of technology and ducked from the incoming enemy volley.

Next to him were several scholars, one of which was very old. He had been helping the Jedi secure the classified documents on this section of the Archives when they got pinned. It was unexpected. Aru didn’t believe them to arrive that quickly.

“What are we going to do Master Law?” The old man questioned.

The dark-haired Human looked around the red flashing room. It was heavily reinforced with durasteel walls. The only way in was the breached door, blasted open with a heavy impact grenade. Besides both walls of the door, several transparisteel showcases with various artifacts and datapads stood in line. Focusing on two of those showcases, Aru reached out to the Force and pulled them together, blocking the entrance.

“That’ll slow them down,” he remarked, reaching for his tabac case, “at least for a while.” The Human used his lightsaber to light his tabac and enjoyed a few puffs amidst all that chaos. For a moment, his mind felt calm and nothing could disturb him.

Hangar

“How should we proceed Master?” Archian inquired Tali Sroka. His first big assignment couldn’t be harsher on the Shistavanen. A war on a yet to be knighted Arconan.

“I say we head straight down that corridor, slice every one that gets in the way and save that good for nothing Aedile.” Said Aay’han, her hands twitching to get some action. She was clearly disappointed by not having found anyone protecting the hangar.

“As much as I agree with you about Aru,” Qyreia intervened, “heading straight down that corridor doesn’t seem like the best option.” Tali looked at both with a disapproving gaze. “What? He’s a flamboyant peacock!”

“And loud.” Aay’han added.

“Andt deadt if ve don’t get there in time.” The Qel-Droman Quaestor replied. “I do agree vith Qyreia on that matter. The corridors aren’t the best option.”

“What about the service ducts?” Archian pointed towards the hanging panel that once covered the entrance to the service ducts.

“Is the doctor afraid of encountering some baddies?” Aay’han mocked and mimicked crying with her hands.

“Let’s all stop with the banter.” Tali said. “That’s a goodt idea. Ve have the map of it andt can headt straight towards Aru vithout tiring ourselves out needlessly.”

Aay’han was forced to agree and follow the group as they made their way inside the service ducts. The first few meters weren’t that bad. The lighting was still good, and some air flowed. But after the first turns, the ducts became smaller, and tighter, and the air felt heavy. Qyreia was leading the group, followed by Tali, Archian, and lastly, Aay’han.

The light was very dim now. Tali dared not turning her sabers on, the risk of hurting someone being too great. Every now and then, someone would bump into another, which was followed by a whispered ‘sorry’. But progress was being made and the team pressed on.

Team Besh

They were slowly moving forward. They all started to sweat in a very humid atmosphere around them. The air conditioning systems were probably damaged, which meant that breathing quickly started to become difficult. Archian was still suffering from the loss of his fur, precious hair which helped him make almost no sound, and camouflage if one had the knowledge how to use it.

He was last in line. His master Tali was leading the group. Behind her Qyreia was following the Twi’lek’s steps. That left himself and Aay’han to bring up the rear. didn’t want to leave Aay’han as last for two reasons. First, she was an experienced warrior — for sure more than him — but she was still immature. Second, he was worried about his tail, he had a feeling that she would try to cut it off from boredom and without a fight around. So, he’d elected to act as tail for them all.

The corridor to which they proceeded started to narrow down. There was only enough space to crawl on their knees and try not to look at each other’s butts. Suddenly he felt a very fast but delicate change of the air stream. A moment later, air pressure started to change and he smelled small particles of smoke coming to his nose.

''We have to get out of here," he said quickly.

''Are you getting scared?" asked Aay’han.

He looked at her, didn’t even shake his head, just repeated to Tali and Qyreia who turned around.“We have to get out to the main corridor if we don’t want to be like fried and smoked Bogan’s Brown Nafen”.

They looked at him like they didn’t understand a word which came out off his mouth. “Fire is coming,” he told them.

Now they felt it, and a black cloud started to come at them. They rushed to the nearest passage and together Qyreia and Archian pushed the cover. When they moved away Tali stopped before going to the other side of it.

“This is a definite trap, gear yourself and prepare for a fight, this time we won’t avoid it”. Tali told everyone.

Aay’han’s smile widened when she heard it, and grabbed her Knight silver lightsaber more firmly.

Tali at first looked around the corner but no one was there. Empty corridor without sign of life, but with two wrecked and damaged droids on the decking. Qyreia checked them. “They were cut by vibroswords.” She went silent for a second. “I’ve never seen Collective goons do this good work. Be on Your guard.”. Qyreia added taking deep breath after that long sentence.

“By information from Aru, ve are quarter away from his last position,” confirmed Tali after checking marks at the walls. “Let’s headt on, but as quiet as ve can.”

Every next step was felt, like done in slow motion. Sounds were heard from down the corridor, before ceasing abruptly into silence. The next moment, from total silence to stunning blast, ventilation covers exploded with fire. Aay’han didn’t wait and started running forward, avoiding the fire erupting from the air condition covers above their heads. Qyreia followed her quickly. Tali and her apprentice ran to them, and all together passed the deadly part of the station’s labyrinth.

They stood in front of four Collective soldiers waiting for them like rats in the cage with bait. Aay’han took her blaster quickly from under the coat and shot one of them in the head.

“Now it’s getting started”.

Team Besh

Blaster fire quickly erupted from both sides as the Arconans and Collective dashed for cover rather than stand out in the open, save for the Twi’lek, whose yellow lightsabers burts to life, batting aside the incoming fire. The Force user’s defense quickly turned to offense as she stepped forward, bouncing left and right like a dance that wove through the criss-crossing bolts of colored energy. The closer Tali got though, the more intense the fire was concentrated on her. That gave Qyreia ample ability to scope out one of the Collective shooters and level him with a well-placed shot.

The Arconans bounded forward behind the cover of the twirling lightsabers, throwing the occasional bolt past their purple-skinned ally to force their opponents’ heads down. Before the closest one realized, the Twi’lek was already on top of him, striking across his chest with a saber and leaving a glowing trench in his chest as she passed. She bounded back, giving Archian and Qyreia some room to approach, laying into the final soldier with withering blaster fire.

“Tell me again why we were in the vents?” Qyreia asked as they consolidated in the wake of the fight. “I’ll take this Sithspit over getting into another cramped tube.”

“You pulled up the map,” Aay’han observed. “Seems like you have yourself to thank.”

“S’cuse you, schutta, but I didn’t pick the route.”

Tali growled at the arguing, and again the Zeltron’s word choice. “Vill you two quit your bickering? Ve have more important things to be vorrying about.”

“Agreed,” their Shistavanen intoned, heeding his master’s words. “Aru still awaits us. And imminently, if his last message was any indicator.”

“Then let’s mooove, mutha frackahs,” the Zeltron goaded, stepping ahead of the group, turning their huddle into a brisk walk.

Sector seven, sublevel Cresh. That was where their erstwhile counterpart aboard the station had given as his last known location. Now in sector seven, it was only a matter of finding a way there from level Esk, where they were. Qyreia suggested cutting through the floor into the levels above. Tali countered with the real possibilities that they could run into a corridor that had been breached and was now a vacuum, or happen upon an entire squad of Collective agents. On the first point, everyone agreed; on the second, there were some who thought that might not be such a bad thing. It would make for one hell of an ambush.

Caution won out over bravado, though, and they opted instead for taking a service ladder up past sublevel Dorn and on to Cresh. Their arrival was timely, though less pleasant than they might have expected.

Sputters of blaster fire erupted from one end of the room to be answered by another burst from the opposite side; back and forth. When the Arconan team was fully piled into the room though, the attention garnered from the movement intensified the dwindling action on both sides. The quartet took cover behind several empty display cases, the thin transparisteel that once held artifacts and tomes within shattered or melted by apparent blaster fire, empty of their contents.

Qyreia’s eyes darted from one side to the other. “How do we know which group is friendly?” she barked over the din of combat. “I can’t see kark through all these displays.”

“Aru. Vhere are you? Ve’re on the main floor of your last location.”

Archian growled in frustration as he debated which way to shoot. “He may not be able to speak due to the combat.”

“He a Force user?” Qyreia belted angrily as the case just above her head erupted into smoking shards. “Tell him to wave his damn glowbat around!”

“That would give his position away,” Nath argued.

“Well both sides are shooting at us right now, kark-face! I think dividing that number in half is more important! Don’t you?!”

Tali’s brow furrowed, frustrated at the arguing and the overhead shooting and so much else right now. “Aru,” she called over the comm again, “can you signal us in any vay? Show us your lightsaber.”

Moments later, a brilliant green blade emerged from behind a sturdy-looking desk, given the number of scorch marks on its surface, waving slightly before disappearing again. That was their cue, and enough for Tali to reignite her own sabers, darting through the cases and desks toward their Collective foe, Aay’han close behind, her features highlighted by the red glow of her own blade.

“Space wizards, am I right?” Qyreia asked Archian amiably. He only ignored her and ventured on to assist the others. “Arright, fine. We’ll play it that way.”

The scattered line of Arconans pushed into their enemy’s left flank, their weapons and movements relieving them of the hostile fire they’d been receiving from their own lines. While the Force users pushed forward, their medic close behind, Qyreia provided accurate covering fire from her rifle. A wry grin crept over Aay’han’s face, taking advantage of the break in fire to pause, concentrating on a nearby desk to wrench it free from the floor. Several panicked screams could be heard as the Collective soldiers began to scramble away from the heavy, floating furniture, only to go silent as it crashed down on top of them.

Archian sped past, still hot on his master’s tail, watching her cut through display stands to reach the enemies hidden behind them. Closer now, and with a clearer view of the Collective troops, he drew his bow and unleashed arrows at his targets, most meeting armor and flesh with a deep, meaty thunk. As the tide turned, the Brotherhood troops behind them started to rally, giving Aru a proper chance to strike back.

Team Besh

Finally changing from defence to offence, Aru sheathed his saber and grabbed his brand new pair of blaster pistols, custom made to his personal taste. He fired bolt after bolt, aided by Qyreia, which allowed the rest of the group to rally behind them.

“Took you long enough!” The Gray Jedi stated, another volley of bolts being fired.

“Ve hadt some problems on the vay,” Tali explained.

“You don’t seem too distressed to be honest,” Qyreia argued, panting from all the running they had been through.

“I’m just happy to see you all! I missed those purple lekku,” the Human flirted with his Quaestor.

“You’ve been on this station for a few hours at most,” Tali said while rolling her eyes, “vhat happendt here? Your comms vere down.”

While Aru explained everything to Tali, Aay’han and Archian were still firing on Collective forces. The Zabrak seemed to be enjoying the shootout, though she prefered to be closer to the action.

“Can we leave yet?” sShe asked, itching to draw her lightsaber.

“One moment please,” Aru replied., Oonce more he turned to Tali and Qyreia. “As I was saying, Mister slowpoke here,” the Jedi gestured towards the head researcher of that sector of the academy, “insisted on salvaging as many holocrons, artifacts and datapads that we possibly can.”

Tali and Qyreia peered behind the academics. They were in fact loading two big repulsor trolleys with carefully packaged artifacts, and several industrial sized holocron tubes.

“Ve have to leave immediately to the central core,” Tali informed, haste in her tone. “The Nesolat is definitely going down andt ve don’t vanna be here vhen it happens.”

“Tell that to him! He won’t listen despite me having made clear that I am a Magistrate.”

With a quick movement, Qyreia grabbed the scholar by his shirt and pushed him back. Knocking him against a wall, she pointed her blaster to his face.

“Listen up schutta!” she yelled, causing fear amidst the academics present. “We are leaving now, or you’re not leaving at all! Got it?”

“Y-yes ma’am!” The old man squeaked.

Qyreia then released him, and he fell on his knees. Still static from the experience, all he could do was nod to his peers, signaling them to obey Qyreia.

“I think I got that covered.” The red Zeltron smiled.

“Remind me to never get on your bad side,” Aru quipped.

More Collective forces were gathering on the corridor they had come in through. Archian and Aay’han were still fighting them, but some were managing to avoid their fire.

“They’re too much!” Archian yelled. “We cannot hold them for long.”

“I’ll go help the kids.” Qyreia announced, raising her blaster and moving to a vantage point behind a big crate. “You, hurry up!”

“She’s right Aru. Ve needt to go,” the Twi’lek stated as Aru scratched his beard.

“Not yet. Before you came in, I received a message from Ciara,” The Human explained. “She knew I was in this sector and ordered me to retrieve some specific high value holocrons.”

“Andt vhere are those holocrons?”

“In the back.”

Tali and Aru quickly made their way towards the back corridor of the archives. In order to enter, they needed a high level clearance pass which was not a problem due to Aru’s very recent new post in the Shadow Academy.

“Right, vhat are the holocrons ve needt?” Tali asked. She could sense something in the Force, a different feeling she hadn’t felt in a long time. Before she could fully focus in determining its origin, Aru’s voice broke her connection.

“Yes, we need secret files Shadowcast, Lightsbane, Immortalis, Honeybadger…"

“Vait, vhat?!” The purple Twi’lek was confused.

“That’s what it says, file name: Honeybadger.

“… I don’t know vhat that is about, but ve have to have it!”

Aru paused for a moment, weighing his options.

“Alright, I suppose I can tell Ciara the file was lost in the fighting.”

“Vhat a nice Aedile!” Tali smiled. The feeling invaded her mind again, this time stronger. She turned around and could almost smell the Force, like it wanted her to follow the scent. She did.

A few meters away, Tali crouched and looked behind the shelves full of holocrons. A glimmer in the distance spiked her interest. She pushed several of those holocrons away and, with aid from the Force, pulled the strange object that glittered towards her.

“What is that?” Aru asked. He could now feel a disturbance in the Force.

Tali didn’t answer. She was fully focused on the object. It looked like a small plant, though it was made of kyber crystals of different colors. The leaves it possessed were emanating an enticing smell, both to Tali’s nose and her mind, through the Force.

“Hey.” Aru touched Tali’s shoulder, breaking her trancse. “We should probably isolate this.”

Feeling numb and disorientated, Tali was forced to kneel down. She handed the plant to Aru who was careful not to touch it for too long. Immediately he placed it inside a thick durasteel container, commonly used by the academy to transport sensible loads.

“Are you alright?” He asked, helping his Quaestor up.

“Yes. My stomach’s just a little upset.” The Twi’lek replied. “Ve needt to go, now. Ve’ve delayedt for too long.”

Aru agreed with her. When they left the archives, Qyreia was being pinned behind the crate she had been covering by. Archian was patching up some injured scholars, and Aay’han was nowhere to be seen.

Tali rushed to his apprentice and Aru started firing upon the Collective, giving Qyreia a chance to rejoin them.

“Vhere’s Aay’han?” Tali inquired the Shistavanen.

“She was yelling something about being too bored,” he explained between pants and bandaging someone, “and grabbed her lightsaber, and then she jumped towards the Collective agents and that’s the last I saw of her.”

“You didt goodt. It’s time to leave.” Tali told him, proud of her apprentice.

Meanwhile, Aru was ordering the scholars around. They fired up the repulsor trolleys and prepared to leave.

Team Besh

Violence. Raw, unbridled violence flowed through her. It flowed from her lightsaber and blaster in equal measure, the crimson plasma dispensed by bolt and blade mirroring the scarlet of her Force bled eyes. Aay’han Agrona was an avatar of rage and for the first time since setting foot upon this blasted archival station she felt truly alive.

Panicked screams from hapless militants, barely trained meat shields misguided into thinking they’d ever have the power to face a true Sith, filled her ears with a delicious tune of raw emotion that made her spine tingle. Her every motion was powerful, deliberate, decisive. She pounced from prey to prey, slashing, shooting, smashing. It was glorious–and over too abruptly.

There was no shouted order, no clicking of blasters to the ready. Only the shrill premonition of a gruesome death upon the Force and the methodical staccato of overwhelming blaster fire. Her indulgent rout of Collective armsmen turned upon its head in an instant, a cacophony of explosions from corkscrewing wrist rockets throwing her off her feet and slamming her into a bulkhead that almost shattered a budding horn. The gash on her forehead wept crimson, and for a moment it clouded her vision as copper lingered on her tongue.

Then the moment passed, and the frantic messages over her communicator finally registered with her mind.

“Aay’han, ve are leaving! Meet us at the central module, or fendt for yourself.”

Awfully harsh and uncaring words from a Jedi, Aay’han mused, though the sudden clink of thrown explosives behind her proved a persuasive argument to follow the Twi’lek’s command. She’d exact her vengeance next time.

==

“Did she respond?” Aru Law inquired; one hand wrapped firmly around the shoulder of the archivist to ensure he kept up a decent pace.

“You’re patchedt to the same network,” Tali responded dryly. “I got the impression Aay’han doesn’t exactly enjoy informing others of her comings andt goings.”

“Assuming the schutta is still alive,” Qyreia said in passing, earning herself a collective stare. “What?!” the red skinned woman scoffed. “We were all thinking it.”

“Well, let us all hope miss Argona is safe and sound,” Archian said with his best attempt at diplomacy. “She seemed like a resourceful and capable woman, after all.”

“She’s a hot-headed schutta too enamored with shooting what she can’t stab,” Qyreia spat dismissively. “Sith like her? Decicred a dozen.”

“Glad to know-“ a huff of exhaustion, “-you hold me in such high regard, merc.” Emerging from the shadows of a narrow passageway, the Zabrak was clearly out of breath and her creamy white complexion marred by streaks of dried blood.

“Had your fill?” the Zeltron inquired, seemingly unphased by the Sith’s sudden reappearance. “Or is it just a Zabrak thing to always get their heads kicked in?”

“Zip it, Q,” Tali grunted and turned to Archian. “Patch her up as best you can. Ve needt to keep moving. Lucine’s statedt ve are going planetside aboardt the administrative module. Some teams may already be there, so let’s hurry. Ve don’t vant to be left behindt.” The last words were pointed at the various academics who’d developed a steadily growing chorus of grumblings about the quick pace they’d kept. A few huddled exchanges later, they decided that exhaustion was preferable to extinction, none wishing to test the competing hypothesis.

==

The road to the administrative module was arduous, but largely uneventful. Using passageways mostly reserved for the senior researchers, the mismatched procession of Arconan and Shadow Academy representatives managed to bypass at least two major firefights between Collective boarders and Brotherhood security details. Aay’han wasn’t pleased, but the Twi’lek’s insistence on avoiding combat held sway-for now.

“We are nearing the module,” the senior archivist pointed out, struggling to not sound as winded as he looked. “The hangar bay ought to be nearby. Perhaps we can acquire a shuttle and…”

The muffled double-clap of a sonic imploder going off just beyond where the Archivist had pointed snapped everyone to alertness. Tali closed her eyes for a moment, sensing out for what was going on. She didn’t have time for much, but the Force whispered urgency.

“You know how to get to safety?”

“Well, I…”

“Goodt, then go!” She pulled her saber off her belt and glanced at her team. “I don’t know vhat that vas, but ve are neededt.”

“Finally!” Aay’han grunted.

“As you wish, Master,” Archian nodded, though timid at yet more violence.

“Was getting tired of nursing relics anyway,” Qyreia scoffed.

“You mean the artifacts or the researchers?” Aru inquired. The Zeltron only grinned.

Hurrying up to the hangar doors, the sounds of combat intensified. Screams, explosions, and the unmistakable humming of lightsabers. Whoever were inside, they fought for the Brotherhood. That meant allies, at least nominally.

“Sounds like our help is neededt,” Tali motioned at the door controls. “Can you get through?” She glanced at her Aedile.

“I don’t have access here with this,” Aru held up his key card, “but I can try this.” The Knight held a computer spike and a mischievous grin. A breach of protocol and information security later, he gave a thumbs up. “In like sin!”

“Let’s go kick some Collective butt!” Aay’han exclaimed, first through the door though barely open.

Tali moved in behind her, her saber flaring to life with a golden hue even as a resounding battlecry echoed from beyond the Collective troopers. It was one they all recognized immediately, and joined in a chorus—save for one.

“INVICTA!” they cried.

The Zeltron’s lips pressed in a line.