Inos Moon 42
The hissing spray of landing gears kicked up a plume of dust at the Sleipnir set down. Squinting in the dim light, cursing loudly inside his helmet for want of a polarizing visor. He turned to look at the Star Courier, the familiar black armor of the Nihilgenia staring back at him.
“I take it you’re my ride?” Macron tittered, moving toward the ship with heavy footfalls.
Doc nodded his helmet. “You were expecting…?”
Macron chuckled. “Something more luxurious? maybe in a tuxedo?” The adept kept moving forward, toward the ship. “The …Lord…” Macron felt his lip curl around the title before he continued. “… has to keep up appearances, after all.”
Doc gave a slight shrug, eyes panning the entrance, the prefabricated facility that served as a waypoint and research station for the depths beneath. The intel on the location suggested occassional …well, they called them ‘incidents’, but Doc knew that was probably putting it mildly. He tilted his head. “Taka Kuroshin. They call me ‘Doc’. You must be Macron Sadow.”
Macron felt his eyeball twitch. “What gave it away?” He leered at the soldier, letting the light play off of his bulging eye as he bared sharpened teeth. “The armor or my beautiful face?”
“Neither, sir. It was your charming personality.” Doc nodded, then followed the madman up the ramp. “Your verpine assistant and droid were already picked up and will meet us on the Spear.”
Macron let a hand trace the line of the wall as he moved toward the lounge. “Of course they did.” He found a seat, the heavy armor clacking as he slid into one of the leather seats, muttering to himself. “He always was thorough. Thorough, thorough thorough thorough…”
Doc watched him for a moment as the onboard computer fired up the engines. He had heard and read enough about him, but there was never any substitute for experience. He put the madman’s voice out of his mind, sliding into the seat and giving the command to take off, the scant atmosphere giving way to the black of space.
“Thorough, thorough, thor roux, Thoreau, through, the way out is through.”
The stars blurred into streaks.
ADS Fallen Spear
“Sleipnir just checked in, my Lord.” Blackwind’s voice came through clearly on the intercom. “Expected arrival within the hour. Holding position until then, as directed. Three minute hyperjump to Arx.” Muz nodded as if the man could hear it before releasing the button, turning back to Shimura as he slid the housing back over the crystal chamber of his saber. The room was large but full, Keibatsu and retainers alike watching the glimmering holocomm.
“I have been waiting too long for this.” Shimura smiled around the gutteral words, the corruption in his eyes burning like golden fire. The holocomm flickered, a flash of light echoing across the vibrating blue lines that traced the form of the Consul. “Say it again.”
Bentre let a smile curl half of his lip. “I am officially requesting the Konton Protocol be activated.”
Shimura shivered, a cruel grin splitting his face. “Ooooh, say it again.” Raising a hand, he clasped it on the shoulder of the man standing next to him. Koji turned his head slightly, letting his own smile reach his eyes as his hand rested on his weapon. Cold revenge was one thing, this was another. The Konton Protocol had never been unleashed, at least any time that he could recall. A complete removal of restrictions, no stealth required. Open war, maximum firepower, blatant displays of raw power fully encouraged. It would be beyond chaos.
The way that they liked it.
There was bound to be trouble. The Collective would see them for what they were immediately. Bentre had counted on that, using them as bait for his trap, a diversion to keep them occupied while they went about the much more subtle work. At least, that was the plan.
Leena stepped back, handing a spanner to the Verpine. The Twi’lek flexed her fingers, stretching the muscles for a moment, shaking off a coming cramp. Beater’s new armor plating was going to be installed eventually anyway, but it seemed prudent to have it done before this run. Her lekku twitched, the right one seeming to hold the left one as she nervously watched the insectoid cross check the installation. It was good to have another set of eyes on it. Hekate stepped toward her, watching the verpine for a moment. “I am assuming this is an ‘all hands’ event, Leena?”
Leena nodded at the droid, then again at the woman at the door. She moved past Shimura and his Zabrak retinue, sibling mercenaries loyal only to him. She slipped between the workbench and toolchest, flowing robes drifting lazily behind. Leena smirked at her. “Are we making too much noise in here?”
“Quite.” She looked around at the crowd with equal parts amusement and annoyance. “I suppose that the Lion is going to want me to come along.”
“Correct.” the word hit her mind as it hit her ears. She turned to look at him. The Lion of Tarthos rarely spoke, so when he did, most knew to listen.
“You know I…” She paused, shifting gears in her mind, keeping the words between the two of them. …won’t be held responsible for what might happen.
Muz only smiled before turning away. Beyond him, the holocomm twitched, Xolarin’s face twisting as he strained to see past the Consul. “Is that…” The quaestor’s eyebrow raised as he stood himself up a bit taller.
Leena half rolled her eyes, then cleared her throat, getting her attention. “Your public awaits…”
Muz turned, staring past the comm, black eyes reflecting the pale blue of the network as he watched his bride. “About time.” She smiled at him. I was starting to think the next scrap would never come. The words fell into his mind silently behind the din of the busy workshop.
They always come. It’s almost all that they know. He sent the words back to her, moving past his slicer toward her.
And yet here we are again. She lifted her hand off of the holster at her side, crossing her arms as she watched him step closer to her.
Why? Did you have something better in mind?
Ashia smiled at him as he closed in, looking down into her eyes. “Not on your life.” She murmured, half under her breath.
The chirp of the comms interrupted them, Blackwind’s voice following shortly afterward. “Sleipnir is docking now. Preparing for jump. ETA three minutes.”