A read-only archive of discourse.darkjedibrotherhood.com as of Sunday May 01, 2022.

[GJW XIV] Plagueis 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.

Phase 2 Primary Theater: Eos City

PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: Take up defensive positions in Eos City and repel the Collective’s ground invasion.

SITUATION: Collective forces are landing in the country surrounding Eos City as its Battle Groups approach from above. The Grand Master has ordered Brotherhood forces to vacate the space above the city, leaving it exposed to the Collective fleet but also permitting the city’s own weaponry to fire indiscriminately. Defensive ion cannons and turbolasers are deterring a full invasion for now, giving your Clan just enough time to join the city’s thinly stretched defenders. Your clan will decide whether to expend resources on protecting, evacuating, or conscripting the citizens of Eos but the city must be held.

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Clan Specific Links and Resources


The Ascendancy - Bridge
Arx system
38 ABY

Ronovi still remembered Antei.

She remembered the wastelands of Adas. The volcanic bowels of Codei Prison. She remembered decapitating droids and skewering the Jedi serving under Omancor Crask. That was during a war she had participated in almost fifteen years ago, beholden to a clan that no longer existed. Serving a Grand Master who was long since dead.

She also remembered, with a bitter tang lingering on her tongue, the moon of Lyspair, where the Shadow Academy remained.

Ronovi Tavisaen had once been the steward of that Academy. Now Ciara Rothwell Tearnan Tarentae stood at its helm, a woman she respected and had worked closely with during the Tenixir Prison Riots. Ciara had sent a distress signal to all the clans, and many of them had responded. Not only Plagueis, but also Naga Sadow and Scholae Palatinae, as well as, disappointingly, Odan-Urr. Why the Dark Council continued to humor the lighties in this fashion baffled the Dread Lord of the Ascendant Clan, but if they were suitable cannon fodder, then perhaps she ought not to complain.

Still, that did mean that the Shadow Academy was now complacent in training light siders. Ronovi’s subordinates had made it clear to her how they distrusted and even despised what they believed the institution had mutated into. Aleister Mavros, the newest Dreadbringer following the death of Wrathus, had made himself very vocal from his perch on the Instigator. So had high-ranking members of the clan such as Andrelious J. Mimosa-Inahj. They were more than happy to watch the Collective burn down the Academy entirely. However, there were artifacts to obtain, staff to evacuate, and students to rescue. Especially from the Nesolat platform.

Aboard the Plagueian flagship Ascendancy, Ronovi had diligently pored over the reports and transmissions she had received from both the Nesolat’s observation building and from Teebu Nyrrire; the strange little Ewok had been keeping himself busy among the research materials that the Academy’s orbital platform had to offer, and now he was caught up in the carnage caused by the Collective’s Battle Group Elysium. The Dread Lord did not envy Nyrrire’s plight, instead clicking her tongue as she worked with Admiral Cyvaria Ranin to decode whatever encrypted messages had been sent the clan’s way.

“Varick has been attempting to contact you from the Wrath for over an hour now,” announced Captain Owen Serrus, his body hunched over his designated console on the bridge.

“Why? His orders are clear.”

“He still has several reservations regarding Plagueis’s point of attack,” Serrus replied.

Ronovi scoffed. “If TuQ’uan can’t handle one docking tower, then I suggest he choke on his own hat and leave it to the professionals.”

“What should I send back, my Lord?”

Sighing, the Epicanthix popped the bones in her remaining organic wrist, while her cybernetic left arm remained stiff against her hip. Unlike the campaign against the Thuvis Shipyards during the prior war (how many more would she endure in a lifetime? Not enough, she decided), Ronovi had decided to shirk expectations and join the clan’s main boarding party. This meant that TuQ’uan Varick, her Wrath, was assigned the task of creating a naval defense pocket around the platform’s docking towers - sealing the enemy within and preventing others from entering as well. That would give the ground forces - both the Sith of Plagueis and members of the Ascendant Legion - an opportunity to gut the Collective offensive and save the damsels in distress. The Nesolat’s many treasures, of course, would also be reclaimed.

If TuQ’uan was still not in favor of his superior’s plans - most likely finding them too reckless, as usual - then this left the Ascendant Fleet with a major weakness in its structure. Aleister hated the Academy’s new priorities, but he doted upon Ronovi, and he would not go against his former Headmaster’s orders. The new Dread Hand of Tyranus, Liandry, also sufficed as a suitable subordinate, though the old man serving as her Aedile was starting to grate upon Ronovi.

“If you ignore all of our concerns, my Lord,” Gaius Julius Caesar had rasped during the most recent briefing, “then why are we here?”

He knew the answer; he just didn’t like it. They were there to serve the might of Plagueis, and by that same token, they served Ronovi Tavisaen. Ronovi had quickly tired of dissent and bickering, not at all helped by certain Plagueians’ snide remarks about how she had been “overruled” during the previous war. She had unilaterally decided to defend the Nesolat platform. She had determined the proper infiltration and battle strategies with the help of Ranin. She had decided to preserve the platform through all means necessary. And why?

Even a jilted steward can still play the role of steward quite well.

Ronovi allowed herself a small smile. Perhaps Ciara could use a lesson on how to properly do her job. After all, the former Sadowan had rather large boots to fill.

She turned back to Serrus, who had been very patient while awaiting her reply.

“Tell Varick that I expect him at the northern docking tower within the hour. Whirlwind and Tempest Squadrons will back the Wrath up. Then I’ll pop in.”

“Shall I get your transport ready?” asked Serrus.

The Dread Lord’s sneer grew wider. “Start your engines, captain.”


Shadow Academy - Nesolat Station
Observation Building
Same time

Teebu was furious, storming down a corridor of the observation building’s halls with his BB-8 unit “Scooter” right on his heels. It was rare that he ever failed to kill his mark, which then would normally never be a major issue, much less anger him. The issue at hand, however, lay with the fact that he had been blatantly humiliated.

Though he loved to humiliate or even scare others, often finding it like a game to do so, he hated when the tables were turned. Especially by an enemy. His miniature Grand Admiral uniform, usually only worn for non-combat situations, had scorch marks and tears in it from the numerous battles he had already been in thus far. One of the two code cylinders was missing as well. This made him especially irritated, as he spent a lot of credits and time getting his hands on it despite not really being a Grand Admiral. Normally, he preferred to be in his Inquisitor outfit for things like this, but he never expected enemy forces to push into the heart of the Dark Brotherhood’s territory. So there was little he could do about it now.

Just ahead, two Collective troopers rounded the corner with weapons raised as they began firing at the Ewok and droid. Teebu leaped into the air, narrowly dodging two shots that lanced directly below him, as Scooter came up underneath him to catch him and together they sped forward at high speeds with him riding on top.

The troopers continued to fire on the pair, though Scooter had no issues weaving away from the shots. As they closed in, Teebu placed his hands on the hilts of his daggers before backflipping directly between them.

In a swift motion, he arced his daggers outwards and behind him, and the blades passed under the soldiers’ helmets and pierced their necks. The pair suddenly dropped their weapons and grasped their necks in a panic as blood poured outward. Their efforts to stop the bleeding proved futile, however, as the plasma continued to expel from their bodies, both of them falling to the floor as Teebu descended to the ground behind them. He looked back at them with an angry sneer and clicked his daggers back into their sheaths before continuing around the corner.

He was going to get even with that Twi’lek from the Collective, one way or another - regardless of who stood in his way, friend and foe alike. He had shown this ruthlessness earlier already when he breached a glass dome in one of the walkways to kill four Collective Elites that the Twi’lek had dispatched to kill him, having sealed the bulkheads on both sides to trap them.

Unfortunately, this action had cost the lives of at least twenty Shadow Academy personnel and several Force-sensitives, though he could not say from which Clan or hall of the academy they hailed. He did not care; protecting the station from those things was his priority. By blowing up the dome, however, he had trapped himself on the side opposite where the Twi’lek was. And he planned to get back there one way or another, as he was not finished with her yet.

The section ahead had rooms on both sides of the hall, classrooms Teebu had quickly discerned. Inside the first room, Teebu spotted a Academy instructor cowering behind a desk. Upon noting the Imperial uniform, he stood up, relieved.

"A Grand Admiral Ewok?” the instructor gasped. “I almost thought I was a dead ma -”

He was unable to finish that last word. Teebu had thrown one of his daggers across the room and straight into the forehead of the instructor, who fell to the floor like a sack of bricks. Scooter rolled over to him and extended an arm to pull the dagger from his head.

Cowardice, to Teebu, was one of the major unforgivable acts that an ally could exhibit. To him, they were better off to die a honorless death. Besides, his loyalties were with the Dread Lord, Clan Plagueis, and one other most of all. Not to the Brotherhood at large, or to its general membership.

He reached into his tunic and pulled out a comlink, speaking to his droid in Ewokese before holding the comm to the droid and activating it.

“Reached the upper classrooms. Beginning examination and purge procedures of enemy forces.” The droid spoke in a squeaky, comical voice. His voice module had been damaged in the fight with the Elites and would need to be fixed. For now, it was fine. Only officers were hearing it, and he prayed that they were not laughing or snickering, or there would be hell to pay.

He put away the commlink before pulling out a second one, which had been hidden in the hilt of his left dagger.

“Explosives placed in delta and gamma strut areas, structural breach above in Observation Lounge as originally planned though the plan was accelerated. If an enemy breaches one of the archives, or the vault, the entire section will be destroyed to keep them away from it. They will not get a hold of your artifacts, my lord.”

He spoke this in Ewokese, not using his droid to translate this time. He returned the commlink to its hidden compartment in the dagger, not waiting for a reply.

He then left the room. Hopefully, he thought, there would not be much more strong resistance, as he was beginning to tire from the constant battles.


Silent Scream - Bridge
Arx System
Same time

When the Ascendant Fleet had arrived in the Arx System, the battle for the Nesolat platform had already been under way for quite some time. Collective forces had boarded the station, and the ships of Battle Group Elysium had formed a blockade around the platform. It hadn’t taken long, fortunately, for the Dread Lord to formulate her strategy and disseminate orders down the chain of command. While Tavisaen led a boarding party onto the station to begin facilitating the evacuation of personnel and elimination of Collective boarders, the fleet was to begin securing the station’s various docking towers.

Warrior Khryso Mallus once again found himself on the bridge of the Silent Scream as the corvette took point for Task Force Besh to repel the enemy fighter screens. The fighting had already begun: the ship’s viewscreen was filled with tiny indicators marking the positions of enemy ships, as multitudes of turbolaser and laser blasts screeched across the void of space.

“Lord Mallus.” Ensign Puvv turned to Khryso from her position at the comm station, “we’ve just received word from command. Task Force Besh will be moving to support Command Force Aurek as they break the blockade.”

Khryso nodded, glancing over to Captain Ohli, who was seated behind him on the left. “Stay in formation, remain focused on providing cover fire.”

As Captain Ohli took over the more direct command of the Scream, Khryso leaned back in his chair, taking the time to consider the upcoming confrontation. With the support of some of the other Brotherhood Clans that were here, breaking through the blockade probably would not be difficult with the entire Ascendant Fleet at their back. It was entirely possible, however, that once they broke through, the Fleet’s Task Forces would split their efforts to secure the various docking towers. That fight could prove much more taxing.

“They’re intercepting us. Prepare for a fight.”

As the fleet advanced, Khryso gave command of the ship over to Ohli. In this moment, he was at peace with handing over the tactical reins to Ohli. She had proven herself before. The Sith, however, had other valuable ways in which he could contribute. Closing his eyes, Khryso drew himself inward. He could feel the anticipation and the tension reverberating throughout the bridge as the fleet advanced on the blockade. Drawing on that, he pulled himself further into the Force, allowing it to overtake his senses.

Fully immersed in the energy and vitality of the battle, Khryso began to meditate, putting his will into the net he cast out as far as he could. Any heart and mind within range became a bright star in a clear sky. To the untrained eye, the night sky might seem like a random cluster of pinpricks, flickering in and out of luminescence. To Khryso, however, it was so much more. There were patterns, constellations, movements, and an intelligence to all of it. They all moved like clockwork but were barely aware of each other.

That is, until they had someone to chart that path for them. An astronomer who could read the stars and communicate what he saw back to them. With a guiding hand and a clear line of communication, the floodgate was thrown open and it all became clearer. The stars began to exist in harmony and were able to begin pushing towards their common goal. A thousand stars moving in sync in the name of Clan Plagueis.


Thuvis Imperial Shipyard
Lyra System
1 year earlier

“Muse, they’re attempting to flank us.”

“Khryso, hit the lead fighter.”

“I’ll circle around.”

“Andrelious, follow my lead.”

Speeding fighters banking…

Red and green turbolasers pulsating…

A dangerous game of mynock…



Arx System
Current Time

Brim, focus!

Brimstone snapped back out of his daze due to the sudden presence of Khryso enveloping his mind with the Force. The Chiss was remembering his near fatal encounter with Emery Rose, the ace pilot of the Collective. He had never forgiven himself for letting her escape, and it had nearly cost him and his teammates their lives. He had already been chastised by TuQ’uan for his mistake. He also felt responsible for the attempted assassination of the Dread Lord that cost her her arm. He was a proud man who was always cautious of battles and wars, but he was slipping into mistakes that were uncommon for him. Everyone noticed this, and they were not silent in their criticism.

Khryso’s message was clear: He wanted everyone focused on the mission at hand. Brim admired his fellow Chiss; even if he was younger and less attuned in the dark side than he was, he had done his part and earned his respect. The Battlemaster had sent his droid to lock up his ship, knowing he wasn’t going into battle to fly, but instead to participate in the actual defense of the Nesolat Platform. Next to Aliso, the Academy was his second home, a place where he had learned to better himself as a Sith.

He looked around as the other troops of the Clan started following their tasks. Khryso’s voice had inspired the masses, and Brimstone felt a wave of pride washing over them as they prepared for the eradication of the Collective. He checked his RK-3 Blasters for their fuel cells and placed them back in their holsters. Both lightsabers were stored in his armor slots on his legs, ready for deployment if needed. He then walked to one of the shuttles, and as he approached, he recognized a fellow member of his house. Andrelious J. Mimosa-Inahj was walking down the ramp of a Delta-class JV-7 Escort shuttle.

“Need a lift, Brim?” he asked. “At least we’re not flying into a swarm like we did in Lyra, eh?”

Brim felt the sarcasm from Andrelious’ lips like a sharp needle jabbing into his soul. He didn’t know the human as well as others, but perhaps he resented him for that fiasco. “So what’s the name of this fine shuttle of yours?”

“I call her the Tseb’si’tsaerb III.”

“So that means you lost the other two? I hope you ain’t flying it this time.”

“Blame my father. Those were his to lose.”

The two Plagueians both laughed. As they waited for the bay crew to finish fueling and arming the shuttle, Brim wondered who else was going to come along on this escapade.


JV-7 Escort Shuttle Tseb’si’tsaerb III
Docking bay, Vindicator-class Heavy Cruiser Dominant

Andrelious climbed into the pilot seat of the ship that was usually his family’s transportation. The mission ahead, however, called for the ship to be restored to its original configuration to maximise how many passengers it could carry. Andrelious had deliberately designed the modifications he had made to be easily reversible, but it still felt a little off to him to remove the toys that his children typically played with during their voyages around the galaxy. Poppy, Etty and Mostynn were, of course, safe back on Aliso with their grandparents, but Andrelious couldn’t shake the idea of a Collective trick out of his mind - what if the move on Arx was a ploy to draw the Clan fleets away?

“We’re actually launching with a full complement?” Swil Phift asked.

“Did you ever wonder why this ship is always rattling about the galaxy?” Andrelious responded. “It’s designed to have a command crew of six. We’re going to fly her today, Swil, like she was meant to be flown.”

The tall Human raised an eyebrow. “Sir, if I may ask, you seem unusually…chipper today. We’re about to go to war. Again. The Collective are a bigger threat than ever.”

“When we land, you’ll see just how ‘chipper’ I am,” Andrelious explained. “We’re taking the war to these bastards. And we’re going to destroy every last one of them. Not to mention any of those Imperial traitors that are unfortunate enough to get in our way.”

“Aren’t the Principate supposed to be our allies?”

Andrelious stared hard at the floor. “The Dread Lord made her feelings clear a year ago. She backed down in the face of weakness from the rest of her summit. And look what helping the Principate did. Now none of my children have a mother…”

Swil didn’t respond. He had known Andrelious for many years. Once he’d made his mind up, that was that. With the exception of the now deceased Kooki, nobody could get through to him.

“Of course…Ronovi’s proven to be able to see the light, so to speak. After what happened last year, she’s found her backbone again. And I am behind her. How about the rest of you?” Andrelious demanded to know.

A chorus of agreement sounded throughout the shuttle’s small cockpit as Andrelious began the launch sequence. Brimstone was acting as the copilot, whilst the rest of Tseb’si’tsaerb III’s stations were occupied by officers of the Ascendant Fleet.

The shuttle broke through the magnetic containment field of the Dominant’s hangar. Andrelious skillfully steered towards the Nesolat platform, his eyes darting between his sensors and the transparisteel windows of his cockpit.

“Gunners, if anything gets in range, blow them out of the sky.” Andrelious ordered, seeming to enjoy the fact his personal ship was once again being used as a fully stocked military vessel.

The space battle was still very much undecided. Andrelious was forced to test his ship’s manoeuverability to its maximum. He found himself compelled to shoot a couple of enemy fighters down himself with the shuttle’s frontal laser cannons, whilst the gunners operating the rear turret joined the fray with a kill of their own. Eventually, as the shuttle approached the Nesolat platform, the enemy fighters turned their attention to the waves of Iron Navy and allied Clan starfighters still operating in the area.

Andrelious didn’t bother to go through the ritual of gaining landing clearance. He guided his shuttle to the nearest docking tower, setting the ship down as fast as he dared. Climbing to his feet, he patted the two lightsabers that were clipped to his belt.

“Ladies and gentlemen. We’ve touched down. You all have your reasons for being here. Assuming any of us survive, we’ll meet back here,” Mimosa-Inahj announced.

Cheers of agreement rang throughout the shuttle. Andrelious smirked.

It was time to take things to the Collective.


The Dominant - Bridge
Arx system
38 ABY

Liandry looked out into the void of space that was known as the Arx system. For someone who had only recently joined up with the Plagueis organisation, it was quite a surreal feeling. However, this was not the time to be admiring how well she had done so far. She had met a few of the people she needed to know back on Aliso but there still many she hadn’t had the opportunity to meet yet, including the big boss herself. Liandry and Ronovi had talked - that was how she got her job - but the two had never met face to face.

The Pantoran turned to look at the Dominant’s crew. The holovids usually had a big, rousing speech from a military figure before the fighting started. The crew had gathered together, the stage was set, now was the time to perform.

“Ladies and Gentlemen. Most of you don’t know me, only that your commanders trust me. I know you signed up to fight wars, and fight a war is what you shall do. But before you do me the honour of showing why you’re the best crew in this whole darn fleet, I want to get real with you. We are not people like the Sith who we serve. We can’t shoot lighting from our fingertips. We can’t move at supernatural speed. We can’t lift rocks with our minds. Yet we are here.

“We are proud, and we play just as important a role in making sure this whole thing doesn’t burn down around them as they do. We are the unrecognised lifeblood that keeps this war machine running and today is no exception. We enter this war because we want to show our strength. Because we are not content with not being recognised.
“We are going to smash this Collective so damn hard that they’re going to wish the Sith were torturing them, and from what I’ve heard, that’s not particularly pleasant, either. I know you can adapt to whatever this enemy throws at you, and you will ascend into greatness. Now get back to work and do me proud.”

Liandry saw the nodding of heads in agreement and felt a different, more amped up energy emanating from the crew. She herself felt a different kind of energy coursing through her body.

“Excuse me, ma’am, we’re being contacted by the Dread Lord. Shall I put her through?” The young comm officer asked Liandry as a newfound pride could be seen in her eyes and the way she held herself.

“Yes, please. I’m sure the Dread Lord heard my rousing speech and is just waiting to compliment me on it,” the Hand of Dread joked before the visage of the Consul of Clan Plagueis appeared before her.

“Dread Lord, what a pleasantly unexpected surprise this is. To what do my crew and I owe this immense honour?” If Liandry had learned one thing in her short time with Plagueis, it was that a little servility went a long way.

The hologram of Ronovi Tavisaen blinked, her face stoic. “As you know, our mission is to relieve the Nesolat from the Collective. I will personally be leading a boarding party to the Headmaster’s office and evacuating Ciara from her post. You will be there. I think someone with your particular set of skills will be crucial to the success of the mission. Julius will also be there.”

“Very well. I shall prepare for departure immediately.”

The Consul’s image disappeared as the call concluded. Liandry placed a datapad in the hands of the Captain and headed off to the secure locker she had brought aboard that contained her equipment. As the Pantoran walked across the bridge, a smile spread across her lips as she saw how determined the Dominant’s crew were. She had done well.

Arriving at her locker, which she’d had brought across before leaving Aliso, Liandry fetched a comlink and attached it to her ear. She then fastened her Sith Sword and a dagger to her waist.

“Jesse, meet me in the hangar. We’re going to work.”

With her faithful droid companion en route, Liandry set off to meet him in the Dominant’s hangar.


Termagant - Hangar Bay
Arx system
38 ABY

Tahiri Thorn Morte Tarentae was no stranger to battle. She had just finished outfitting herself for the battle ahead, after getting the newer soldiers situated. The Battlelord was proud of the new group; she knew that they would serve the Ascendant Clan well.

She could feel the electricity in the air and the anticipation of the fighting, and so could her pet companions. A nervous warble chirp from Keraathol and a growl from Hadzuska brought her back to her surroundings, as the mechanics were doing their final checks and fueling of the Nocte Drakon, her personal retrofitted Star Courier. The large brightly colored hybrid Varactyl stood close to the crate the petite Togruta was sitting upon, sharpening her blacked-out Vibrosword. The black as night Vornskyr sat on his haunches in front of her, as if both creatures were guarding her. Tahiri sensed they knew that she was going into battle and wanted to protect her at all costs.

Feeling the Termagant shudder as it engaged the Collective forces outside, Tahiri felt the edge of a wave of calming, unified energy close by. Before she could figure out who was behind the wave, her wrist comm link dinged at the sound of an incoming transmission. Setting her Vibrosword and whetstone down, she allowed the transmission through.

“Battlelord Tahiri Tarentae, speaking.”

“Tahiri, your ship ready to go yet?” The crisp voice of Ronovi Tavisaen came through loud and clear.

“The techs just finished, my Lord. I’m ready when you are. What is our target?”

“We’re getting the Headmistress, and everyone else we can, evacuated out,” Ronovi replied. “Think you can handle that?”

“Of course. Meet you there.”

“Good. You should have the coordinates.”

The transmission ended as abruptly as it started. Tahiri grabbed her Vibrosword and, using the crate as a jumping point, deftly leapt over the sitting Zuska, sheathing the blade as she landed. Utilizing the Force, Tahiri called the whetstone to her hand, also mentally calling her pets to her side as the Battlelord headed up the ramp.

Termagant - X-wing Hangar Bay
Arx system
The same time

Ro-Tahn Drakon was excited to be helping his sister out again, even if he didn’t fully understand the full who’s and why’s. The Collective, as Tahiri put it; were arrogant scum that destroyed more than they helped, even though their message was one of justice and peace. This war, they claimed, was one that the Dark Jedi Brotherhood had started a long time ago. But that was just lies and propaganda they fed to those who were too weak of mind and will to fully grasp the truth.

Tahiri had told him about the fall of Tarentum, and he was there for a part of the attack on Plagueis through its Asset population. He saw the grief on her face as she recounted her experiences with the Collective, and he had resolved to help her no matter what. Tahiri had almost left him on Aliso, but he had stolen aboard her Star Courier before lifting off.

As he readied a T-70 X-wing Starfighter that had been assigned to him, awaiting the orders to take off and engage the enemy, the taller Togruta smirked as he remembered how mad his sister had been about his deception. He even pictured the moment she spotted him close to the cockpit.

”I told you, Hiri, your enemy is my enemy.”

“You are as stubborn as ever, Ro-Tahn. And I told you not to call me by my nickname.”

His holoproject beeped, and a small blue image appeared, the tiny form of his older sister standing before him.

“I’m heading for the Nesolat Platform. Stay out of trouble, and stay safe, brother.”

“You, too, sister. Go kick some ass out there.”

Brother and sister shared a smile before the hologram disappeared, and the order came through for the Squadrons to take off. Ro-Tahn cracked his knuckles and began the flight sequence.


The Instigator - Bridge
Arx system
38 ABY

“Tavisaen, we’ll leave the evac to you and your team. Opress will do what we do best,” Aleister said to the hologram of the Dread Lord.

A simple nod from his mentor was all he needed. Opening a shipwide channel, he spoke loudly.

“Savages! The stage has been set! It’s time for us to make our galactic debut! So let’s give ‘em a show, eh?”

The crew of the Instigator responded with a raucous cheer and much whooping and hollering. With a confident smirk upon his face, he turned to leave the bridge, speaking over his shoulder as he left.

“Take us in close. Light ‘em up on the way. Then, Whuloc, join us on the platform.”

The human First Helmsman responded with a wave of his hand. In the next moment, the black and yellow ship rocketed forward from its position at the head of the Ascendant Fleet and descended towards the Nesolat in a hail of laser fire and explosions.

The Nesolat - Dormitory Wing
Arx system
38 ABY

The four Collective soldiers stood in front of the emergency docking port. They’d been tasked with guarding the port against any of the Brotherhood scum attempting to flee the platform. Suffice it to say, they were confused when the port registered a ship docking outside. Especially with the entire wing quiet.

They were turning around to face the airlock when the lights cut out and the entire wing was plunged into darkness. Moments later, a female’s cackling laughter filled the blackened airlock as it was illuminated by many bars of colored plasma.

The soldiers grabbed for their weapons but were no match for the speed and reaction time of a team of Force users. Two of them were lifted from the ground by unseen hands around their throats. The other two were flung back by blasts of power and slammed into the nearest wall. They were climbing back to their feet when a half dozen lightsabers made short work of the door. Two swirling blades of red plasma were the first things to fly through the hole, easily cutting down the two soldiers as they tried to regain their footing. The two levitating soldiers died when their throats were remarkably crushed, their bodies crumpling to the floor.

The saberstaff was recovered by its owner: a woman with fiery copper hair and a bemused smile.

“Rhode! One of those was mine!” an Epicanthix in blue armor snarled. He stooped through the hole in the door and came to stand in front of the woman.

“Hehe, you snooze, you lose, Furios,” She responded with a little giggle.

The pair began to argue as the rest of the team stepped into the corridor. Furios glowered at the redhead. “Look here, Rhode. I outrank you, both in the Brotherhood and the Squadron. So if I call dibs on a kill, you better damn well respect my wishes.”

The girl smiled and playfully poked him in the chest. “You remember what Wrathus told us when we joined up, don’t you? Nothing is given. Everything must be earned through combat. If you can’t keep up, that’s not my problem.”

As she turned away, the Warlord stared daggers into the back of her head.

“Oh, really? Nothing is given?” he growled. “Then I assume that you earned all the attention and affection that Mavros always gives you, hmm? I’m sure it has nothing to do with you being the only female member of the squadron, or all those private meetings the two of you have when we’re planetside.”

Taranae rounded on her heels and began approaching the man, twirling the hilt of her saberstaff.

“Listen here, you overrated, half assed di Plagia!” she hissed, the malice behind her words palpable. “Yes, I am the only female here, because I’m the only woman with the stones to keep up with this lot. Yes, the Dreadbringer treats me specially because I am special. And for you to suggest that I got here by anything other than my merit and skills is enough to make one think that you don’t have a genuine interest in living.”

As she spun her saber’s hilt around and was about to activate the blades, hoping to cut the Epicanthix in half, a stern voice split through the air.

“Enough, you two!” Aleister ordered as he stepped into the hallway. "Tara, go check -”

He was unable to finish speaking when the red-headed Nabooite practically skipped up to him, alluringly placed her hand on his semi-exposed chest, and leaned forward, accentuating her backside.

“Aleister! You value me as a member of the team, and not just because I’m a woman, right?” Her entire tone and demeanor had changed.

The leader of Opress Squadron placed a hand on her shoulder. “Of course I do, Taranae,” he cooed. “The Savages are of equal worth to me.” A sly smile broke his normally stoic expression as his hand moved to cup her chin. “I have a plan for each and every one of you.”

Despite what was being said, his tone and actions hinted that there might have been some truth to Furios’s statement. But none of that even occurred to the woman. Something about the way he looked at her…the way he spoke to her…it made her feel like she was in control again. Not since Kelly Mendes had taken off into space with no indication of when she was going to return, had she felt like this. When he released his hold on her chin, she wistfully rubbed the place where their skin touched.

“Now, Tara, go check out the corridor ahead for - "

“Good, I’d hate to have to kill you otherwise,” Taranae giggled, interrupting him again as she started to skip away.

Aleister let out a long sigh. “Furios, check those bodies. See what we can learn.”

He was turning to the rest of the team when they all sensed the presence of something in the ceiling. Five pairs of eyes swiveled up to the air vent and weapons trained in the spot. At the last moment, the Dreadbringer motioned for everyone to stand down as a little Ewok and their droid dropped down into the corridor.

“So nice of you to join us, Teebu.”


The Nesolat - Northern Docking Tower, Hangar Bay
Arx system
Minutes later

With the arrival of multiple clans, the entire cosmos around the Nesolat had turned various shades of new colors, mostly due to shipfire and the flames of new charred skeletons of once pristine fighters. The Collective’s many Lancer-class frigates and Dreadnaught-class heavy cruisers were holding their own quite impressively against the onslaught, their Headhunter and X-wing squadrons doing heavy damage despite their smaller numbers. Still, the sheer ratio of Brotherhood to Collective forces was decidedly disproportionate, making it easier than expected for those loyal to the Iron Throne to board the platform itself.

With the Wrath orbiting the northern docking tower, Ronovi had managed to get her shuttle to land in its docking station, where members of her boarding party were awaiting her in the hangar. Whatever Collective grunts remained in the bay were easily dispatched by slugthrower fire from Julius, a blow to the neck from Liandry’s Sith sword, or from a simple slice of either Alaris Jinn’s or Kz’set’s saber. Tahiri let her beasts do some of the dirty work as well.

The party gathered with members of the Willing, a handful of Wraiths, and Ronovi in a corner of the station. Ronovi busied herself with her Royal Guard-bequeathed comlink, which was looped over her ear, and hemmed and hawed as she received information from Ranin, TuQ’uan, and others within the Ascendant Clan.

A tense minute passed, and Kz’set, Tahiri, and Alaris stood guard and kept on the look-out for any soldiers - or worse, those newfangled Hive Mind Marines. At last, Ronovi had a report.

“Aleister and his Savages are deployed near the emergency docking port on the starboard side of the Nesolat.” she explained. “They’ll be handling any artifacts we need to recover and killing anyone in their way. Beyond that, we’ve got Callus leading some Ravagers and Wraiths from the western docking tower - I believe they’re heading toward training centers to ensure that any stranded faculty or students are rescued. Brimstone and Andrelious have landed at the eastern docking tower and are pretty much making mince meat out of any Collective bastards they find.”

“So where does that leave us?” Julius demanded, his voice coming out crosser than perhaps he anticipated.

Ronovi shrugged off his sharp inquiry with a slight wave of her cybernetic hand. “Ciara is our number one priority as a party, but I wouldn’t charge in one awkward mass. I’d recommend splitting up and heading to the Headmistress in at least two smaller groups. Tahiri and Kz’set, you ought to take the port side corridors with Liandry. Alaris and Julius, you’ll stick with me on starboard. I don’t think your elite cane is enough to defend yourself against these marines, old man.”

Julius clicked his tongue but otherwise said nothing. Kz’set hummed quietly, his bulbous eyes always consistently perusing Ronovi’s face as if digging for a deeper meaning behind her expression. Tahiri stroked the head of her Vornskr, Zuska, a low growl emitting from behind its massive, clenched jaws.

And Alaris exhaled loudly, hot air bursting from his blue nostrils, as one of his lekku twitched.

“So are we going to stand around digesting this information?” he asked coolly, his eyes narrowed. “Or are we going to actually get a move on?”

Ronovi was growing accustomed to sneering at her subordinates. Jinn’s return to Plagueis had been a gift to her, not a curse - if anything, it told her that he had conceded defeat to her, after all those years he had been away. She was, after all, the reason he had left the Ascendant Clan in the first place. And now, here he was again, only able to bare his teeth at her and not go in for a bite.

“Ladies and gents,” she announced, her right hand resting comfortably on her hilt, “commence Operation: Rescue the Princess.”

No one verbally commented on her allusion to a certain rebellion. However, Liandry let out a dry chuckle; she did her best to look good in front of the Dread Lord. Tahiri was more receptive; she outwardly giggled, her fingers dancing along her upper lip. She got the joke.

And with that, the boarding party split in half, the mirrored faces of the helmeted Wraiths blank as they marched with their superiors into the corridors and wings of the Nesolat.


The Wrath - Bridge

Arx system

38 ABY

TuQ’uan paced back and forth, his eyes darting between the information displayed on screens across the bridge, the battle raging just outside the viewports and the loyal members of the Ascendant Fleet hard at work to ensure a decisive victory against the Collective once and for all. A sense of uselessness had overcome the weary Kel Dor; he was beginning to feel like he was just getting in the way, and getting sidelined to play babysitter to a very capable crew didn’t help the situation.

The di Plagia had been on thin ice with the Dread Lord for quite some time. He was meant to be a voice of reason among the clan’s summit, but whenever he raised his concerns, they were unilaterally shot down by Ronovi, be it in public or in private. Even now, when every ranking member of the clan had been sent headlong into a battle with the Collective, including the Dread Lord herself, he had raised his concerns. Begged her not to go. Explained that her presence was unnecessary with so many powerful Force users and devoted soldiers already on the attack. Reminded her that the last time Plagueis and the Collective had faced off, she had nearly been torn in two by an explosive.

This had set her off, even more so than his use of the word unnecessary. Not that he thought she was unnecessary in the slightest. It had been a poor choice of words on his part; he really should have described the hulking juggernaut of an Epicanthix as overkill. Her amber eye, tainted from constantly drawing on the dark side of the Force, bore down on him, seething with rage. TuQ’uan shuddered as he remembered the way the scene played out in the briefing room, the way he felt a sudden sense of dread and oppression wash over him. The way he felt like he might collapse under the sheer will of Ronovi’s glare. The way he felt like the breath was about to escape from his lungs and his skull could be crushed by Ronovi without her even lifting a finger. And then it was over as fast as it had started, and the message was clear in TuQ’uan’s mind.

Do not question the Dread Lord’s power.

TuQ’uan caught himself fidgeting with the brim of his hat, anxious from the memory of the encounter. A cheer went up throughout the bridge of the Wrath as a Collective cruiser erupted into flames, shot down by a combination of the talented starfighter pilots within the Ascendant Fleet and the barrage of turbolaser fire unleashed by the Wrath.

Little did these poor people know—or maybe they did and just didn’t care—how the Dread Lord and her loyal subjects were just using them for their own gain. Very few members of the Plagueian hierarchy not gifted with the blessing of the Force were allowed to climb out of the deep dark pit the Dread Lord had placed them in, above their positions at the bottom of the system and into a meaningful role. And even those who did such as himself, the newcomer Liandry or his former second in command Gaius, only held a modicum of power which, in the end, was only actually an illusion offered to them to give hope to others like themselves. Those who were weak in the eyes of their supposed Force wielding comrades.

The Kel Dor let out a deep, mechanical sigh, which was filtered through his antiox mask. He was truly beginning to feel alone out here.

“Sir, an encrypted transmission has come through for you,” a young Lieutenant murmured, sheepishly approaching him with a datapad in hand. He was glad for the distraction from his rumination.

“From whom?” the Kel Dor asked. He had decided to forgo the formalities, as he’d rather talk to the crew of the ship as equals rather than subordinates.

“I’m not sure, Lord Varick. The only thing accessible is a silly phrase, it says, “The Furry Vornskr”. We’re not sure what it means, sir.”

TuQ’uan quickly grabbed the datapad from the Lieutenant and shooed her away. He stared down at the device, mesmerized by the words that appeared on the screen. “The Furry Vornskr”. A memory came flooding back, the memory of the fateful meeting with an old friend that had changed the course of the young mercenary’s life. For better or for worse.


The Nesolat - Dormitory Wing
Arx system
38 ABY

The Sith’s red hair stopped bobbing as she rounded the next corner after being told to scout the corridor. Could she hear a noise ahead? Cautiously, she crept forward. In a crouch, she ran her fingers along the hilt of her saberstaff appreciating its closeness as she advanced. The Nesolat was eerily quiet after Opress had butchered their first enemies except for an extremely odd noise. A rhythmic hiss was emanating from the direction she was turned toward, and her face screwed up in concentration as she tried to remember where she had heard it before.

As she slowly approached the sound, her brain started creating images in her head as to what it could be. Clapping? No. Even clapping wasn’t that uniform. Escaping pressure: gas, perhaps? She couldn’t think of anything on the station that would cause it, unless it was malfunctioning. She knew that everything in this place was kept in pristine condition, but had the Collective damaged anything?

Moving more quickly but still stealthily, Taranae realised that the noise was getting louder. She was close. She stopped, unclipping the saberstaff from her belt, and was ready to ignite it when a notion hit her. Sudden realisation dawned as she found she now knew the origin of the noise. Feet. Lots of feet, marching in time. Sweat started to bead on her brow as she understood what or who was headed her way. If she was correct, she would need all of the Savages to survive this encounter. She couldn’t do this alone, and if that little switch clicked on in her head, she would surely die.

Activating her saber, she stood and turned on her heel in one fluid motion. Her red hair flowed behind her as the juggernaut did what juggernauts didn’t normally do: she ran. She knew her life depended on meeting with her comrades in Opress and facing this threat together. As she ran, she glanced over her shoulder just as a red bolt of energy flashed past her ear.

The corridor swarmed with soldiers - but different ones. Big ones. Dressed in purge trooper armour, they advanced quickly, marching as one. After they had spotted the Plagueian, all had raised their weapons and begun to fire. Taranae noticed one or two taking aim with wrist launchers as she turned again to look ahead. Her senses screaming, she raised her staff and deflected two bolts that were too close for comfort. As she reached the end of the corridor where the Opress squad would be waiting, she dove to the right of the door and pressed herself against the wall.

“Aleister!” she screamed. “You know the Hive Mind…thingies you were talking about?”
She waved her hand in front of her face, seeming dazed. Her mind was beginning to fog up, and her vision was blurring. As her heart raced, she always struggled with her words. She knew it was a sign that very soon, she would be lost to her ghosts. The red mist would settle in front of her eyes, and she wouldn’t remember a thing until it was all over.

Aleister turned as a missile flew from the corridor just as the redhead had emerged and threw herself to the side. It missed and careened across the open space, exploding on the far side of the room. All the rest of Opress squad turned and shielded their faces as the explosion reverberated through the station.

“What did you find, Rhode?” he shouted, after the smoke had dissipated. He knew what she was about to say, but he still wanted to hear it directly.

“Well, it seems to me that the swarm’s headed in this direction!” Taranae hollered as the first of the soldiers burst out of the passageway and turned on her.

Now she regarded them anew. Pale white skin and no hair. They made a frightening sight, but she knew she had help now. She swung her weapon in an arc across her body, attempting to cut across one soldier’s midriff. He leapt out of the way and brought his blaster around, aimed towards her temple. She was shocked at how easily he had avoided her attack and now knew that these were not normal soldiers. She steeled herself and prepared to fight for her life as more of the abominations streamed down the corridor.


The Nesolat - Northern Docking Tower, Hangar Bay
Arx system
38 ABY

For all sixty-three years of his life, Gaius Julius Caesar served others. For the past eleven, he served Plagueis, or at least that’s what he thought. For the first time in his life, he was feeling doubtful. He didn’t doubt his abilities or the abilities of those around him, but he did doubt his Dread Lord.

“My Lord, we can’t sustain these levels of casualties!” Gaius shouted as the old man tended to another pair of allied soldiers. “Please, have Opress lead the way for this rescue!”

Caesar’s hesitant voice fell on deaf ears as Ronovi and Alaris cut down another pair of Collective soldiers on the way toward the turbolift. Together, their movements were a blend of fluid parries and powerful strikes that would easily demolish any opponent. It was almost as if they were enjoying the assault.

“Let’s go, old man! We’re pushing forward!” commanded the Dread Lord.

Caesar looked down at his pair of patients with growing anger. Both Wraiths were unlikely to survive an exfil back to the Ascendancy. Their Dread Lord viewed their lives as expendable. Was this the way she viewed his life, even after his years of dedicated service? He felt no sense of regret as he unholstered his sidearm and rifled off two well-placed shots. Their lives were over, and it was probably for the better. They wouldn’t have to see the downfall of Plagueis.

He hobbled his way forward towards the fighting, only to be ridiculed by Alaris.

“Caesar, you’re much slower than I remember!” mocked the former di Plagia as the trio entered into the repulsor lift.

“You have no room to speak, tail-head!” Caesar lashed out at his former Dread Lord. “Karn would have killed you on sight!”

Ronovi commanded an end to the bickering without saying a word. Her towering presence alone should have been enough, but Ronovi drew upon her connection to the Force in a moment of intense pressure that caused her Aedile to flinch. She turned back briefly towards Alaris, who smiled in pleasure. The Augur remained silent as the lift made its way towards the fourth level.

“My Lord. Please,” the old man begged once more as the lift began to slowly approach the team’s destination. The doors of the turbolift ripped open to the shrieking of nearly a half dozen Shikari Huntresses, their charged arrows flying in a crackling flurry.

Ronovi said nothing. She stared straight ahead, removing her saberstaff from her belt.


Nesolat - Dormitory

Arx System
38 ABY

Blackhawk was among the first to react after the explosion dissipated. Turning towards the hallway from which his teammate had emerged, the Clawdite sent a stream of lightning down the hallway, staggering several enemies with the attack. In the time it took them to recover, his lightsabers were active, and one of them spun down the hallway in a whirlwind, decapitating one of the troopers before returning to Blackhawk’s hand. The rest of Opress quickly joined in, engaging the enemy forces with no shortage of enthusiasm. Blaster fire was returned, missiles dodged, objects and people thrown, whatever was convenient to deal with the meddlesome Hive Mind troops that were now bearing down on their position.

Blackhawk called upon the Force to blacken the corridor, hoping that it would allow the team to prepare for a quick surprise once the sphere of blackness faded. He positioned himself behind a wall nearby, prepared to cut down anyone who advanced into the docking port. He slashed upward, removing a hand from the first soldier who came through. His second attack would have cut it in half, but Blackhawk’s hand was grabbed before he was able to. The newly one handed Marine quickly stepped in and pinned the Marauder’s hand to the wall, hitting him in the face with the stump where his hand once was. The former Tarenti dropped his lightsabers, momentarily stunned at the force of the blow. He managed to partially dodge the second blow. The third punch was met by a knuckle plate vibroblade, which drove Blackhawk’s elbow against the wall. He twisted the blade as his opponent brought the stump back for another blow before retracting the blade. As blood began to trickle from the wound, Blackhawk smiled devilishly.


The Clawdite fired a burst of lightning. His opponent spasmed and released him. A second burst of lightning quickly followed. Then a third. A fourth. The soldier stumbled and writhed with each zap of electricity. Then, Blackhawk lifted his enemy with the Force, pinning him to the ceiling. He drew his blaster, pointed it at the now immobile soldier, and fired. The corpse fell to the floor with a heavy thud. With that, Blackhawk advanced to assist the rest of the Savages fighting their way down the corridor.


Though he was normally all about business, Kz’set couldn’t help but glance repeatedly at the vornskr that was moving just ahead of Tahiri. He had always been a bit nervous around animals, but this one was messing with him more than usual. He’d been making an effort to avoid saying something, but eventually, he couldn’t help it and whispered to Tahiri:

“He…won’t bite me, will he?”

Tahiri had to stifle a full-on laugh, but a giggle still snuck out.

“Zuska only bites who I tell him to bite,” she explained. “Besides, I don’t think vornskrs like insects.”

“Precisely my concern,” Kz’set whispered in response.

The vornksr shot the Verpine a menacing glance. At almost the same time, another nasty look came down the corridor from Liandry who was scouting ahead a few meters. Kz’set and Tahiri immediately got the message and went quiet, but Tahiri still had an amused look on her face. When Liandry reached where the corridor turned to head towards the lift, she held up a hand, and Tahiri and Kz’set stopped in their tracks. Liandry then expertly glanced down the corridor towards the lift. She silently raised four fingers and pointed down the corridor. She then made a motion as if she were pulling a bow. Kz’set and Tahiri both nodded in recognition.

Collective huntresses.

Kz’set and Tahiri looked silently at each other for a moment before Kz’set took a step forward and nodded and advanced. Once he reached the corner, the Verpine quickly located the huntresses and snapped an orb of blackness between them. Kz’set then quickly drew and activated his lightsaber and charged in, Tahiri close behind. For a moment, the corridor was a swirl of red and orange. Four huntresses and a couple of straggling Partisans were no match for the two Plagueians and were quickly dispatched. When they were done, Liandry and the vornskr were looking on in a disappointed silence. Kz’set seemed confused at the creature’s reaction.

“Was he hungry?” He looked at the vornskr. “He didn’t look hungry.”

Tahiri patted the vornskr on the head. “Plenty more food, I’d expect. And we should leave Liandry one next time, too.”

The Pantoran just glared as she moved to call the lift. “I’m fine, thanks.”

Kz’set didn’t know what to say to that, and neither did Tahiri. A moment later, the lift arrived and they all piled in whilst maintaining the rather awkward silence. It seemed that no one wanted to bring up the fact that Liandry hadn’t mentioned the Partisans in the corridor. It didn’t really matter, but it was rather odd. The ride up to the fourth floor was quick and, thankfully, there was no more Collective to meet them when they arrived. Kz’set looked around a moment and then shrugged.

“Figured Tavisaen would have been here by now.”

Tahiri shrugged as well. “She must be having her own fun, then.”


The Nesolat - Dormitory Wing
Arx system
38 ABY

Fenrir watched as the Hive Mind Marines streamed into the corridor with relish. Now there would be a hunt. Now there would be a bloodbath. Now he could finally settle his bloodlust and fight worthy foes.

He had heard from his master, TuQ’uan, to be careful of Hive Mind soldiers, that they were the pinnacle of elite troopers. Fear never ate at Fenrir then, only the desire to match might against might with these worthy foes.

He watched them enter the corridor, and the Savages began fighting them. Some of his teammates were already going head to head with them. Fenrir started striding towards the foes. He focused on the Dark Side, and used it to lift one Hive Mind trooper who had just noticed the huge Shistavanen through the smoke of battle.

This unfortunate trooper was unceremoniously lifted up with a telekinetic grip, and dashed him like a puppet against his fellow Marines. Fenrir used the body as a weapon, used him to confuse and destabilize his allies, even knocking a few off their feet. He was pretty sure he even accidentally knocked the overly muscular Marine into a fellow Savage, but he didn’t care.

Fenrir strode across the skirmish zone, pushing, pulling, scratching, and biting anyone who kept near him. Using the Force, as well as his naturally impressive agility for one of his size, he tried to keep away from danger. Suddenly, someone fired several bolts at him. Fenrir reacted in time, yet he was grazed by the bolts: one caught him on the side of his right ear, the other hit his left shoulder. That infuriated him, and his eyes nearly blazed red with rage.

He started sprinting all over the corridor. He tore off hands from their wrists with his teeth , scarred faces with his bloodthirsty claws. Someone was yelling a battle cry, while others grunted as they fired blasters and attempted to pierce the Marines’ armor. Some swung their lightsabers in whirls of many-hued colors. There were explosions and bursts of flame. There were blood-curdling screams and piteous moans.

All these sights and sounds greeted the monstrous Fenrir as he was causing devastation across the area, killing, hunting, and slaughtering. When the battle came to a pause, he was seen chewing on a decapitated head and pawing a detached cyborg arm. The Marines were strong, but Opress was stronger.


Nesolat Platform
Administrative Building, Fourth Floor
Arx System

The Huntresses’ arrows pierced only durasteel as the forward two Plagueians seemed to defy all logic, every shaft either missing their target or being deflected into oblivion. Gaius may have felt his trust of the two “Foxtrot Uniforms” wane, but he was glad not to have searing plasma tearing through his body. He quickly returned fire into the Collective assassins, though the flashing movements of Alaris and Ronovi made hitting his targets less than ideal. He stayed in the turbolift, using it for cover.

The Twi’lek moved in quickly and deftly, paying more attention to not being hit than actually doing much attacking, but when he finally did make his strike it was swift and decisive. A slight tap with his off-hand made his first opponent lose balance entirely, as if he could see the precise point to remove equilibrium. Her skull was removed just as quickly.

The Epicanthix was much less choosy about her attacks. She spun her staff with a rage never seen in a Sith. Two Huntresses dropped their bows knowing they would be less than ideal in close combat. They stepped back quickly, trying to give their backline sisters time to get a few more shots off before engaging the massive woman. Their tactics may have worked if they were facing only Alaris Jinn, but Ronovi Tavisaen was much less subtle. She was pure violence.

A saberstaff had many flaws, such as a predictability of follow-up attacks, and it had a lesser range of motion because the user’s body could get in the way. This didn’t matter when it was in Ronovi’s capable hands. The remaining front line Huntresses began swinging their stun batons, but they both ended up flying harmlessly into the wall as the bodies propelling them suddenly ceased providing any energy, momentum, or grip. They were corpses before hitting the ground.

Ronovi recoiled suddenly, as if she had been stung in the neck by a small, but potent, insect. She shook it off and dove toward the last three foes. Alaris flanked her with speed, an orbital satellite, defending the planet of a woman. He ran two steps along the wall and slashed violently at the left remaining Huntress. She stumbled backward a few steps, firing a bolt as she tripped over herself.

The bolt skimmed Ronovi’s skull which startled her. I should have felt that coming, she thought to herself. She shook the thought away as fast as it arrived and engaged further. She refused to allow two minor inconveniences to bother her any further. Alaris was forcing one of the three back further and further allowing Ronovi to focus on the other two.

Ronovi spun the staff in a flurry, used more to intimidate than any functional use, and swung at the now baton-armed Shakari. They deftly moved back from range and moved in unison to flank the giant. It barely mattered. The Dread Lord twisted her massive frame and with a heavy slice, cleaved the first Huntress through. Before she had the chance to deliver the same fate to the final Huntress, a bolt of electricity shot through her, driving the woman to her knees. She tremorred involuntarily and collapsed on her side.

Why? Why am I barely seeing these coming?

She didn’t even have the opportunity to contemplate what could come next when a face fell in front of her, bleeding profusely from the skull. The Shakari’s lifeless eyes looked to Ronovi as if she were staring into the Epicanthnix’s soul.

The Dread Lord stood as the effects of the stun baton died down and looked over at the old man wiping blood off his cane.

“You mocked it, but it saved your life,” he remarked with a hint of humor. He looked curiously at her neck and then pulled a small piece of metal from it.

“It appears,” he said slowly, “as if you’ve been shot.”

“Me, too.” Alaris had joined them from dispatching the last of the Huntresses, and he tossed an identical dart to Ronovi. “I got it out quickly, but no doubt Collective toxins move quicker.”

Ronovi took the dart from Caesar and threw both to the ground next to her would-be assassin. “No matter. We’re here, and the Headmaster is there.”

She started toward Ciara’s office. The trio stepped over the dead or mostly dead bodies of the Huntresses and through the front administration offices of the Shadow Academy before reaching the Headmaster’s office. They heard the screams of a woman from the other side.

Alaris and Ronovi reignited their sabers and burst into the room ready to slaughter whatever was there. They quickly realized they didn’t need to. In her glory, Ciara Tearnan Rothwell Tarantae stood over a Huntress, purple tendrils of dark side energy seemed to slowly melt out of the Huntress into Ciara’s fiery amber eyes. As the last of the life was pulled from the now sunken face of the poor Shakari assassin, Ciara exhaled and then looked over at the three Plagueians who between them showed shock, excitement, and humor.

“Is this a rescue attempt?”


The Nesolat - Dormitory Wing
Arx system
38 ABY

A cry of anger followed Zuser as he shoulder checked a Marine, shoving them back before the mad pilot’s green lightsaber stabbed into a soft spot in the armor, dropping the Marine where it stood. Ripping the blade of plasma out of the armored corpse, Zuser stepped back and wiped his mouth with the back of his left hand before being forced to deflect more blaster fire.

“We can’t keep this up forever!” he snapped. “Anyone have any bright ideas?!”

Aleister grunted dismissively as he sidestepped another ball of superheated red plasma before responding.

“We need to make a tactical retreat,” he said. “Lure them somewhere else. Staying here isn’t conducive.”

Zuser blinked, remembering seeing a training room near their drop location during the briefing.

‘Rhode! I need a thermal!”

The redhead threw a small round object in his direction. He caught it in midair and thumbed the activation button.

“Savages! I have an idea! Follow me on my mark!” Zuser shouted.

“You heard him! Follow the pilot!” cried Teebu, bobbing along on his BB-8 unit.

Aleister barked his support as Blackhawk cast more Force generated lighting at the Marines. Their armor crackled from the electricity, their own bodies temporarily stunned by the assault.

With a grunt, the young human tossed the thermal detonator into the gaggle of Marines.

“This way!” he called out. “Now!”


Zuser turned and darted through the rest of the Savages, turning sharply down a corridor to lead his team to a training room as an explosion engulfed the hallway they had just been occupying with the Marines.

It was a beautiful explosion indeed.


Nesolat Platform - Hangar Bay
Northern Docking Station
38 ABY

Ciara had not needed any help defending her post, yet it was imperative that the Headmistress be removed from the Nesolat as soon as possible. She proved to be a tremendous asset to Ronovi and the others as they reboarded the turbolift and departed from the administrative deck.

Tahiri, Liandry, and Kz’set’s team had done wonders, providing back-up as needed and doing a hell of a number on the remaining Shikari Huntresses. As Ronovi’s section of the boarding party led Ciara to the docking tower, the Dread Lord’s comlink was all abuzz. There was plenty of news to be distributed amidst the Ascendant Clan:

“Observation deck is monitored and defended by Callus Bo’amar’s team…”

“Mimosa-Inahj and Brimstone have been slaughtering all Collective forces they can find. Bit messy, but effective…”

“The Praetor to the Headmistress has been leading Taldryan forces in the administrative building. Should we tell Erinyes we got her boss, or…?”

“Tyranus soldiers are eliminating Partisans and targeting Academy vaults, seeking out relics. Opress is keeping Marines at bay…”

Ronovi ignored most of the noise bursting from the device still hooked onto her ear. Instead, she worked with Alaris and the Headmistress to quickly dispatch any remaining Collective resistance. Once the docking tower was fully under the Brotherhood’s control, she focused on the shuttle she had arrived in, which would take both Ciara and her back to the Ascendancy. From there, she would reconnect the Headmistress with the Grand Master and ensure that the Shadow Academy’s artifacts be preserved. Which inevitably brought her to her next series of orders.

“Julius,” the Dread Lord grunted, “I want you to join Liandry, Kz’set, and Tahiri and ensure that all Shadow Academy staff is evacuated as soon as possible. The Termagant and the Dominant should have plenty of room for these ‘refugees.’ Check in with Aleister and begin a clean ‘excavation’ of all notable items belonging to the Brotherhood. We are far from done here.”

Alaris crinkled his nose. “I’ll join you on the Ascendancy, if you don’t mind,” he requested. “I have some wounds to tend to in your prestigious medbay.”

Ronovi cautiously eyed the Twi’lek, though she told herself that he would not cross her; whether or not her hubris would betray said preconception remained uncertain. “Very well. You’ll board the shuttle with me.”

This comment seemed to set the old Tyranus Aedile off, and he glowered at his superior. “You ought to be fighting alongside us here, if you’re going to force us to remain on this wretched platform.”

“I need to check in on Plagueis’s naval offense and ensure that Ciara is safe,” retorted Ronovi. “I think you can handle a treasure hunt.”

“I resent you acting like my protector,” teased Ciara, grinning. “I’m a big girl.”

Julius said nothing. Ronovi did not make an effort to interrogate or prod him. Her mind was grinding along a single track, and she was intent on following it. She silently instructed Ciara and Alaris to board her shuttle with her, and as its doors slid shut, she paid no mind to Caesar’s lingering stare. If he had something to say, he would have surely said it by now. Unless he had another strategy in mind.

Within the orbit of the Nesolat, the Collective fleets were pulling away. Plagueis would decimate the enemy soon enough.

Or so they thought.

As the Plagueis transport zipped away from the docking tower, a strange sight could be seen from its viewing portals. Alaris, Ronovi, and Ciara watched in bewilderment as the administrative and observation sections of the Nesolat broke off from the rest of the platform, like they had simply been unhooked from their moorings. The loose “piece” spiraled downward toward Arx until it was nothing but a speck in the stratosphere.

“I…didn’t tell anyone to do that,” murmured Ciara, furrowing her brow.

“Then who did?” demanded Alaris.

He was almost immediately answered by an incoming transmission from the shuttle pilot’s console. Ronovi stormed over to the cockpit.

“Patch it in.”

Cyvaria Ranin’s voice was calm, yet full of agency.

“My Lord. We’ve received word that Deputy Grand Master Taelyan has led Collective forces to Arx’s surface via the Nesolat’s administrative deck. The rest of the platform is in a decaying orbit, and we’re not sure how long it’ll stay viable for sentient lifeforms. Grand Master Cantor wants Plagueis to focus on Eos City now. Your orders?”

Ronovi said nothing. Not even Taelyan’s betrayal fazed her. Her goal had been, admittedly, to show off to Ciara and the Shadow Academy. To collect artifacts. To prove herself as the better steward after all. It was petty now, in retrospect. And currently, multiple Plagueians were still on the Nesolat, stranded unless they found a way back to their transports. Several others had also been in the administrative or observation buildings at the time of their ejection. Their fates were far from certain.

But the Dread Lord had a fleet to maintain. And a clan, overall, to preserve. Some were expendable. That was the way.

“Begin a full withdrawal,” Ronovi ordered. “Our job now is to defend Arx. Send a transmission out telling all Plagueians to leave the Nesolat with whatever they have.”

“My Lord…”

“We don’t have time to save everyone and everything,” snapped Ronovi. “Pull back. Now.

She could already see the gaping maw of the Ascendancy’s hangar bay in the distance. Ronovi Tavisaen would assume the role of a naval admiral again. It was time to move from offense to defense.


Silent Scream - Bridge
Arx System
38 ABY

Everything had been operating smoothly thus far, each gear in the operation freshly oiled and turning in time. Clan Plagueis, along with its Brotherhood allies, had successfully infiltrated the Nesolat and assisted in the evacuation of the facility’s personnel and valuable curios. Meanwhile, the Ascendant Fleet had surrounded and secured the station’s docking towers, locking down travel in and out of the Nesolat’s many hangars. When word spread down the chain of command that the Headmaster had been secured, Khryso Mallus expected that the operation would soon be coming to an end. The Collective was being pushed onto their backfoot, at least in this particular front, and was slowly being brought to heel.

What the Sith didn’t anticipate was a reversal: the Collective had several aces up their sleeve that they began to play with impunity. The Nesolat’s Administrative and Observation platforms separated from the rest of the platform and began their descent to Arx, which by itself might seem benign. However, Arx’s planetary shield was rendered inert not long after as a massive collection of Collective reinforcements dropped out of Hyperspace nearby.

The atmosphere on the bridge of the Silent Scream almost immediately grew more anxious, but the Plagueian officers knew how to hold their composure. The sudden shift in tide threatened to destroy their operation, but it didn’t take long for new orders to come in from command. With the Nesolat quickly becoming crippled and most of their work there done, the Clan was effecting a retreat from the station immediately. The newly arrived Collective fleet was sending the bulk of its forces to Arx’s surface and Plagueis would be reinforcing Eos City’s defenses.

“Keep our sensors trained on the space surrounding the docking towers,” Khryso quickly ordered. “Keep enemy fighters away from any of our ships that leave the station.”

They were beginning to pull away from the Nesolat, but Khryso didn’t want the Collective forces that remained in nearby space to take advantage of the maneuver and start shooting down retreating Plagueian shuttles. The Clan’s forces had been ordered to extricate themselves from the station, so in a matter of moments, a cluster of transports should be leaving the Nesolat’s hangars.

Even as Task Force Besh regrouped with the rest of the Ascendant Fleet, the Silent Scream continued to monitor the Plagueian ships that began to emerge from the docking towers. As Khryso predicted, Collective forces were taking advantage of the shifting battle lines and began to press their attack on the ships leaving the Nesolat. Although the bulk of the Collective fleet was focused on Arx, it seemed they remained intent on eliminating Brotherhood forces wherever they were found.

Without proper cover from the Ascendant Fleet, which was moving to defend Eos City and largely abandoning the Nesolat per the Dread Lord’s orders, the Plagueian retreat was messy. The Silent Scream, as well as some of the fleet’s other capital ships that were still in range, continually provided cover, but there were still a few losses. Of course, the Plagueian retreat was not bereft of talented pilots who were more than capable of defending themselves despite the adverse odds. The majority of transports were able to make it past the initial Collective killbox and into the safety of the turbolaser screens and fighter support provided by Task Force Besh.

As Khryso monitored the situation, he was thankful that the reported losses were absent of recognizable names. Higher ranking officers and Force Users reunited with the fleet without much issue. That being said, as the stream of vessels evacuating the docking towers came to a stop, the space station’s own trajectory as well as the Ascendant Fleet’s retreat slowly drew the hangars out of defensible range.

As the evacuees reported in, there were still a few missing names. There were Plaguieans who had been stranded on the sections of the Nesolat that had made landfall or perhaps had simply lagged behind too slowly to keep up with the quickly ordered evacuation. They would have to fend for themselves.

As for the Silent Scream, however, the approach to Arx and a new battle required Khryso’s attention. He had spent much of the previous battle in meditation, bolstering the effectiveness of those he could reach, but his batteries had yet to fully recharge for another round. For this clash with the Collective, he intended to take direct command of the Silent Scream. With a new objective presented to them, the crew had once again found their focus, and they were ready to do their duty.


Dominant - Hangar
Arx System

Liandry stood in front of a row of shuttles, all coming from the Nesolat and bearing Plagueians, members of the Shadow Academy staff, or a mixture of both. Beside her stood Clan Plagueis’ Overseer, the Overseer’s ever-dependable pets, the droid known as Jesse, and her Aedile Julius.

The Plagueians who had returned from the Nesolat eagerly awaited further instruction from the Plagueian leadership regarding their next move. It was the Hand of Dread who broke the silence.

“We achieved what we set out to do, but this battle is not over yet,” said Liandry. “It would appear the Collective are commencing with an invasion of Arx. Now, they’ve been a thorn in your side for far too long and there’s not going to be a better time to get rid of them than right now. So here’s how things are going to work.

“The Overseer and I are going to lead a team to evacuate Eos City. We’ve just come from fighting their abominations and the last thing we want is more of them to fight. The rest of you are going to join up with Andrelious, Brimstone and Callus, all of whom were taken to the continent of Uskil. Your objective is simple: Kill as many Collective as you can and, preferably, make sure they don’t take Eos City. You’ll be under the joint command of Julius and Andrelious. Any questions?”

Liandry apprised the assembled Plagueians of the situation. She heard mumblings from the crowd, but it was Julius who reacted the loudest.

“I say we take three shuttles, one for the evac team, one for the bulk of the combat group and I’ll follow closely behind,” he suggested to his direct superior.

Liandry thought about it for a moment, not really sure why Julius would need a shuttle to himself. However, she didn’t really want to waste time arguing when there were lives on the line. Tahiri and her beasts headed for the shuttle on their left, while Julius headed to the shuttle on the opposite side. Plagueians began filing into the transports, the group focused on combat appeared to be the more popular of the two missions. Liandry waited until the assembled members of Plagueis had all boarded a shuttle before boarding as well.

All three vessels took off and departed the Dominant’s hangar, headed for the planet below - or, at least, initially. As the shuttles moved closer to Arx, passing the slowly falling remains of the Nesolat, the ship carrying Tyranus’ Aedile began to fall behind the others. Once the others had passed through where the shield gate had been, Julius’ shuttle turned around and headed back towards the Ascendant Fleet. The rest of them may have been fine with Tavisaen using them as pawns while she cozied up to the Headmistress, but Julius wouldn’t put up with it any longer. He was going to board the Ascendancy and give Ronovi a piece of his mind.


Near Administration Section
38 ABY

What seemed like less than twenty minutes ago, Brimstone and the rest of Plagueis were on the Nesolat, trying to recover the Academy’s artifacts. Now they were on the surface of Arx, dealing with Collective forces that had landed with them.

Shots from lasers, both crimson and emerald, flew between both sides. Brim and his squad were barricaded near some boulders and debris on Uskil, holding their positions. He could see Andrelious and Callus with their teams barricaded also.

The Collective was relentless. The firefight wasn’t stopping. There was a constant barrage of incoming fire.

“Brim, I think it is time for us to show these Collective scum what true Sith we are,” said Callus over the communicator.

“I agree,” replied Andrelious.

The three men - a Chiss, Human, and Epicanthix - darted from their positions and took up defensive stances, while their troopers reigned down the assault behind them. The Chiss, with both blades extended from his lightsabers, kept reflecting shots in a rhythmic pattern, deflecting the bolts into the dirt. All three of them asserted themselves and covered the ground between them and the enemy’s position. Brim somersaulted over their heads and was hit by a lucky shot in the upper right thigh. Concentrating on the Force to guide his landing, he stopped himself and began to cleave into the soldiers. After multiple slashes and strikes, the entire squad was dismembered or decapitated.

Seeing himself all alone, Brimstone allowed himself to drop to one knee as his leg gave out from its wound. The remaining squad made their way to him and tried to help him with his injury. As he knelt, Callus contacted him on the comm.

“All dead over here. You okay, Brim?”

“Yeah. They got a lucky shot in my leg. I’ll recover.” Brim looked at his troops and spoke to one of them. “Trooper, scout ahead. We need to get a better position to see what’s going on.”

The trooper acknowledged him and proceeded ahead with another in a two-man squad. Brim placed his hand on his wound and allowed the Force to help seal the gash in his thigh. The pain was still there, but it was manageable enough for him to push onward. A few minutes passed, and a beep on his communicator came from the advancing scouting party. He opened it up to talk.


“Sir, it is all clear up ahead, but…I dunno, sir…”

“What is it? Spit it out.”

A moment of hesitation came from the other end. “I don’t know, sir, but I swear I just saw the Deputy Grand Master with some Collective soldiers.”

A stunned Brimstone couldn’t understand why Evant would be on Uskil. He was, from what he last heard, a prisoner. The three Plagueians looked at each other.

“Are they moving him like an inmate?” asked the Chiss.

“No, sir. It looks like he is leading them. What are the orders, sir?”

“Keep out of sight and watch where they go closely. We need to get this reported back to command. Do not engage. You are no match for him.”

Callus, Andrelious, and Brimstone looked at each other, puzzled as to why the Deputy Grand Master might be a traitor.

Above their heads, the three looked up to see ships emblazoned with the Plagueis insignia began to land.


The Instigator - Docking Bay
Arx system
38 ABY

The members of Opress Squadron stumbled into the vestibule, and several collapsed onto their backsides. The ship detached from the Nesolat and put some space between them and the station. Good thing, too - not a moment later, the explosives the team had planted in the dormitory wing detonated and sent the station and Hive Mind Marines into the vacuum of space.

They had barely escaped with their hides. The Marines had gone berserk once the Administration section had descended to the planet below. The Savages’ “tactical retreat” had quickly devolved into a frantic dash for the airlock, dodging blaster fire and explosions. They had been woefully unprepared for the Collective’s new soldiers. This fact stung as they made their way into the docking bay proper. They were the mad dogs of Plagueis; they should have been able to cut through those Marines like carving a cake. Instead, they had been barely able to inflict any significant casualties before nearly being overrun.

The nine fighters stood apart from each other in awkward silence in the Instigator. No one wanted to address their ‘collective’ failure, either out of shame of the fact, or out of fear of upsetting the Dreadbringer. Finally, Furios broke the silence.

“So. What do we do now?”

It was the question they all wanted to ask. But none of them had an answer. After a painfully tense period of silence, Aleister spat.

“I’ll tell you miserable dogs what we’re going to do. We’re going to do our fracking jobs!” He stepped forward, and the team surrounded him. “We’re going to do what Opress Squadron was blasted founded for!”

Furios stepped forward to speak, but Aleister cut him off with an unrestrained, open hand slap to the face. Nobody responded. Zuser continued to fidget and quietly seethe over the fact that he had not done nearly as much damage as he would have liked.

“Can it, Morega!” snarled Aleister.

Then, in the next beat, he opened a shipwide comm.

“All right, listen up, you worthless sacks of piss and vinegar! This is the Dreadbringer speaking. Those Collective karks have dared to set foot on our most sacred ground this side of Korriban! Now, are we just going to let them go wherever they please? Hell, no! Are we going to sit back and let these stupid traitors show us this kind of disrespect? Frack, no! So pull up your panties, take a shot of something strong, and let’s go stick a lightsaber up their ‘collective’ arse!”

The Savages could do nothing but roar in agreement and howl in kind. Aleister let a pleased smirk dance across his face.

“Whuloc! Get up on the bridge and take us planetside. And tell Lieutenant Haerch to fire at will. Make us a foothold, and we’ll open up a landing zone for the rest.”

The Mystic nodded firmly. “Gladly. Time to pay them back for what happened back there.” His voice was positively dripping with anger as he started jogging to the lift. His commlink in hand, he began barking orders.

“The rest of you,” hissed Aleister, “Gear up and replenish your supplies. Once we touch down, we’re not stopping ‘till either they’re dead or we are. Am I understood?”

The rest of the team snapped to a curt attention and shouted in near perfect unison. “Sir!”

Then they departed to their respective quarters and the weapons depot. Aleister watched them go before heading up to the communications center.

The Ascendancy - Bridge
Arx system
38 ABY

Ronovi was standing in her customary post on the Ascendancy’s bridge, Ciara at her side. She was stationed just behind the primary console, where she could watch over not only the battlefield outside, but also the vital stations of the bridge itself. She was observing the deployment of the Ascendancy’s fighters when the bridge’s speakers blared out.

Czzch! Incoming transmission! Top level security clearance! Codeword: Warmonger! Czzch!

Warmonger? That’s the Dreadbringer’s clearance code.

“Put it through!” Ronovi barked.

A towering hologram flickered to life in the air above the Consul’s post. A titanic version of Aleister Mavros’s upper body stared down at her.

“Dread Lord. Opress Squadron has withdrawn from the Nesolat. We’re headed planetside,” the Zeltron-Human hybrid reported.

“And what do you plan on doing once you arrive?” she inquired. She knew what his answer would be; the question was for the sake of her officers.

“We’re going to Eos City. And we’re going to do what Wrathus made us for. We’re going to jump feet first into hell and give your troops a better place to set down. If you haven’t noticed, the eastern front is crawling with this Collective filth.”

Despite the venom in his voice, Ronovi could swear that he was looking forward to this.

“Very well, Aleister. I’m aware of the chaos in the east, so…do what you will. But try and keep the collateral damage to a minimum. We want Arx to owe us for saving their skins, not the other way around. Understood?

“Crystal, Headmaster. Instigator out.”

The channel clicked off and the titan of light vanished. Ciara gave the Dread Lord a look.

“He calls you Headmaster? But that’s my job.”

Ronovi sighed. Even after telling him a thousand times to stop doing that, he insisted on still calling her by her old title. She let it go for now, since in his mind it hadn’t been that long since that was who she was, but soon, she’d “educate” him on her feelings about that title.


Having boarded one of the Plagueian transports, Andrelious, along with Brimstone and Callus, made the most of the opportunity to take a breather. Andrelious even snuck a drink of Soulean brandy from his hip flask. It was not long, however, before the transports reached their destination, which turned out to be Eos City. The journey to the Brotherhood’s so-called capital city had given one of the men aboard the transport time to brief Andrelious and his comrades.

For the first time since his arrival from Clan Taldryan, Andrelious had been placed in command. He was not about to let Liandry, herself a curious new arrival, down, nor was he going to let her steal any of his thunder. His first order of business was to find Julius, his co-commander.

“Liandry! We’ve just arrived in the city, but I can’t raise Julius. He’s either not here, or the Collective already got to him!” Andrelious yelled into his wrist mounted comlink.

“I’m afraid that my Aedile will not be joining you quite yet,” Liandry answered, her Pantoran accent not hiding her annoyance.

Mimosa-Inahj smirked. “Is there anything you want us to do…or…?”

“Consider yourself to have carte blanche when dealing with the Collective,” the Quaestor responded. “Use whoever and whatever you have on hand.”

Andrelious acknowledged and ended the transmission.

“Well, men, the Collective have come here to make one hell of a mess. What say we kick them and their disgusting beliefs firmly back to where they belong?” the former Imperial demanded, turning to address the assembled Plagueian forces.

Brimstone and Callus nodded as the soldiers cocked their blaster rifles. Everyone was very much up for a fight, even one in the unfamiliar surroundings of Eos City.

Andrelious activated his lightsaber and immediately started to move along one of the streets that led towards the massive Dark Ascent, the seat of the Brotherhood’s power on Arx.

“I still think we should have dealt with the Deputy Grand Master…” Brimstone stated ruefully.

“There are more pressing matters. But don’t worry. Taelyan will get his!” Andrelious snapped.

The Plagueians continued their advance, moving through a deserted area that was usually a bustling market. Andrelious, determined to lead from the front, didn’t stop for a moment. It was the Collective who had taken Kooki from him - he owed it to his children to destroy those who had killed their mother.

Finally, after what had seemed like hours of fruitless searching, Andrelious spotted some enemy forces. It appeared to be a small group of Collective operatives preparing a siege on an ever smaller group of beleaguered Iron Legion soldiers.

“Cover me. I will deal with these bastards myself!” Mimosa-Inahj commanded, allowing his sheer hatred for the Collective to take control.

As he approached the enemy, Andrelious extended his left arm and let a burst of lightning fly, his fingertips crackling as he electrocuted one within the Collective’s number. The surprise attack caused the rest of the group to turn to face the new arrival, who immediately came under fire from their blasters.

Seeing their commander come under attack was enough to bring several of the Plagueian soldiers into the fray, their superior numbers and firepower easily turning the tide.

Mimosa-Inahj turned his glance to the Iron Legion soldiers he’d rescued.

“Consider yourselves under my command until further notice,” he ordered. The soldiers simply nodded and moved into the group of Plagueians.

Andrelious quickly resumed his search and destroy mission. He and his team continued to move towards the Dark Ascent, quickly checking the nearby buildings for enemies. As they rounded a corner, they discovered a dozen heavily armoured soldiers finishing off the last of an Iron Legion unit.

Hive Mind Marines. Great. the Seeker thought to himself.

The Collective’s newest soldier was by far the most dangerous that they had unleashed. Andrelious had found a lot of trouble in dealing with a pair back on the Nesolat, and now he was faced with a much larger group.
“Lower your weapons and come with us,” the Marines declared in a chilling unison.

“We will do nothing of the sort!” Brimstone snapped back.

“Pick a target and stick to them. Don’t stop until they are dead,” Andrelious ordered, himself selecting the Marine on the far-left flank.

Brimstone and Callus both picked their prey and charged in with their lightsabers, whilst the Plagueian soldiers did their best to pepper the area with blaster fire. The Marines coordinated themselves as though they were all limbs on one body. They sprinted around, making it nearly impossible for any of the Sith to do any kind of damage with their lightsabers. In between evading attacks, they would counter, forcing the trio of Sith onto the defensive. Andrelious noticed that, whilst the Marines were shooting to kill him and his fellow Sith, that they were attempting to merely disable his men.

“Sir! These are what destroyed the rest of our unit!” one of the Iron Legion fighters shouted among the chaos.

Although the Marines appeared to have the advantage, it was Callus who got the first kill, cleaving his lightsaber through the neck of a Marine who got a little too close. The remaining Marines grimaced, almost as if they had felt the pain of their colleague’s decapitation, but continued fighting.

“It’s not too late to join us. We are perfection!” the Marines cried.

“You remove everything that makes you truly alive. You’re no better than droids!” Andrelious hissed, one of his slashes getting close enough to lop off a Marine’s left hand.

Brimstone found himself under heavy fire as three Marines decided to gang up on him. The Chiss desperately defended himself, but a blaster bolt finally made its way through, hitting Brimstone’s left shoulder.

The group of Plagueians were up against the wall. Even with three powerful Sith, the Hive Mind Marines were proving a very capable match indeed.

They would need more than the Force to get themselves out.


Eos City Square
One Hour Later

No sooner had the Instigator landed in the city square and the ramp begun to descend did a loud cheering noise come from inside. Troops from various clans patrolling nearby looked at the transport in confusion, but they were even more surprised when a black BB-8 unit with a completely naked Ewok riding atop it shot into the air, landing with a thud as it raced towards the city.

“Teebu, get back here! Right. Now!” Aleister yelled, his arm extended as he tried to get the Ewok’s attention. But it was too late; Teebu had already gone down an alleyway.

“You were warned that he would be a handful,” Furios laughed.

Aleister slapped him across the face yet again for that remark.

“He just better hope his little idea doesn’t get us all killed. Or the Dread Lord will have our heads,” Aleister hissed, seething with anger as he looked back at where the Ewok had disappeared. “Remind me to punish him later.”

As Teebu zipped down several alleyways, he passed several platoons that were securing the city building by building. Various dead soldiers and Force-sensitives from different clans lay scattered, along with the exploded corpses of Hive Mind Marines. Ahead, he noticed an outpost manned by Arcona personnel and made his way towards them, stopping behind a light post.

He glanced around, watching the movements of the Arconan troops. As one small battalion came by, he quickly edged his way out into their ranks, placing himself in the middle as they continued on.

The battalion went past a small checkpoint into the outpost, none of the guards bothering to look down in between the troops as they filed in. Once inside, Teebu slid out from behind the group and underneath a metal table with several crates on both sides of it. Ahead, he saw an officer typing away at a console that had a map of the city on it. He attached his datapad to it and Teebu saw a download icon pop up on the console’s screen. He grinned mischievously, an idea coming to mind.

On all fours, he bolted towards the console as the officer pocketed the datapad and left. Making sure no one else was around, he kicked the back of the console and dislodged a small circuit panel door. His BB-8 unit had managed to catch up to him at this point, handing him a small computer probe.

Teebu wired it into the rear of the console before hopping up onto the keypad area. He managed to get into the console’s systems rather easily and started copying all of the tactical files regarding their stations in Eos City.

“All of this back to the Ascendant,” he murmured in Ewokese. Several icons changed from red to green, with new red icons appearing in different spots on the city map and some disappearing. “Thanks for helping us, Arcona.”

His BB-8 disconnected the probe and returned it to his storage bay. As the droid returned to his side, Teebu quickly encrypted and transmitted the copied files to the Ascendancy.

“Next up, Viszla,” he cheered quietly as he climbed atop the BB-8, and together they took off towards the next area where Viszla was reported to be.

The Ascendancy - Bridge
Arx System

“Dread Lord, we have an incoming encrypted transmission,” one of the communications officers reported.

Ronovi turned from the viewport and made her way down to the station, leaning down and examining it as the officer decrypted the message. She grinned with mild surprise and nodded.

“Relay this to all of our forces in Eos City quietly.”

She had told Aleister to make sure that Arx owed Plagueis by the end of this, but she had not expected it to go quite this far. If Opress pulled this off, Plagueis, without a doubt, would be standing above everyone else by a parsec.

Eos City Square

Aleister’s comm chirped as he discharged veins of lightning at one of the Hive Mind Marines, quickly getting back behind cover as shots rang past his head. He tapped it with his hand and listened.

“Everything all right?” Furios asked as he crouched behind a large crate, ready to return fire momentarily.

“Yes,” Aleister responded with a hiss. “It seems that his reckless gamble has paid off, for now… Oh, when Arcona figures out what just happened…”

“What did he do?” Furios asked quizzically.

“I’m not allowed to say.”


Combat Information Center

After the operation on the Nesolat, Kz’set had returned to the Vigilant to assist in combat logistics and cyber ops. The Verpine had nestled himself into the CIC at one of the electronic warfare consoles, though he could very clearly see the large command display at the center of the room. As he started his work to penetrate Collective comms, he looked up and noticed one particular shuttle going in the wrong direction back towards the fleet. Curious, Kz’set got the attention of the female Bothan deck officer and pointed a chitinous finger at the display.

“Lieutenant, what shuttle is that, and why has it broken formation?”

The officer squinted at the display and then punched a few commands into the console.

“It’s Sigma 5, sir. I’m not seeing an RTB order for her, and the status display shows no appreciable damage. It’s headed for the Ascendancy.

The designation of the shuttle got Kz’set’s attention. The Sigma shuttles were reserved for senior leadership. While one breaking formation might not be unusual under some circumstances, it was in this case, particularly because of its occupant. Sigma 5 would be assigned to Julius, and his behavior on the Nesolat had been odd, by all accounts. After twitching his antennae for a moment, the Verpine looked to the Lieutenant.

“Raise Sigma 5, now.”

The officer got a quizzical look on her face, but then immediately did as she was told knowing full well that questioning one of the Sith was usually painful. A couple seconds later, she nodded to Kz’set to indicate that the connection was established. The Verpine got right to the point

“Julius, what the kriff do you think you’re doing? You’ve been tasked with proceeding to LZ Esk 6a. Why have you broken off course?”

Julius’ voice was clearly annoyed coming back over the comm.

“Mind your own business, bug.”

Kz’set ignored the clear jab at his insectoid heritage and kept a level tone.

“Your being off-mission is my business. What’s going on?”

Julius didn’t take long to respond.

“Ronovi has been playing us from the beginning. She doesn’t care about sparing any of us. She’ll allow all of us to die for the sake of the mission, just for praise and glory.".”

Kz’set’s antennae noticeably twitched at what Julius was suggesting. He muted the transmission a moment and looked at the deck officer.

“See if there are any fighters we can vector to intercept Sigma 5, just in case.”

The deck officer simply nodded while Kz’set unmuted the comm.

“So what do you intend to do about it? Kill her? What would that solve?”

Julius chuckled indignantly at Kz’set’s statement.

“Like you have the ability to talk, insect. I know what you did on Korriban. You should understand that sometimes you have to do what needs doing.”

The insinuation about his ‘killing’ Vivackus ruffled Kz’set. He still had doubts about that situation, even years later. In that situation, everyone was being played - he just saw it sooner. While there might be some parallels, this was a very different situation.

“Last I checked, Julius, Ronovi isn’t about to switch sideszzz. You want to kill traitors, there’s a bigger one on Arx.”

“Kark off,” Julius responded as he cut the transmission.

Kz’set clicked his fingers on the console momentarily before the deck officer spoke up.

“Hurricane 7 and 8 are in position to intercept Sigma 5 if needed.”

Kz’set nodded. “Good, raise Ascendant Actual and reduce incoming transmission volume by 50 percent for the first 10 secondszzz.”

The lieutenant smirked a bit at Kz’set’s suggestion. “Should be standard practice when calling the Dread Lord.”

A moment later, much as predicted, Ronovi’s voice came over the comm with a cold, deadpan: “What.”

“This is Kz’set. Julius has broken formation and he’s headed your way. I don’t think his intentions are friendly.

There was a moment of silence, followed by a sharp, hissing breath.

“I can vector fighters to intercept and disable the shuttle if you like,” Kz’set calmly interjected.

Ronovi’s response was momentarily delayed, as if she was considering the possibility. “No. I’ll deal with him. Ronovi out.”

When the transmission ended, Kz’set and the deck officer looked at each other a moment before Kz’set broke the silence.

“Sixty-five percent next time.”


The Instigator - Bridge
Arx System
One Hour Earlier

Human hands flew across the control panels, pressing buttons and flipping switches with barely focused rage. It was amazing that none of the interference broke off with the force of the pilot’s fingers.

“Tell the Savages to be ready in less than 10 standard minutes.” Zuser Whuloc almost spat out the order, his gaze darkening on the viewport, even as his order was relayed through the Raider-II class ship.

The lumbering K-Series droid, Skull, turned its white photoreceptors on his master.

“Sir, the Collective seems to have set up a makeshift blockade. I don’t think we have the speed to -”

“Can it, Skull!! We’re breaking through whatever stupid karking blockade those dikut Collective scum have set up.”

The words were expelled so abruptly that an unprepared Yeoman jumped back in a fright. Skull ‘blinked’ before returning his gaze to his part of the control panel.

“Yes, sir. I’ll prepare to redirect power to the engines and forward shields.”

“Haerch! Weapons free! We’re gonna plow through this fleet of theirs!” A finger jabbed the intercom. “All hands! Battlestations! We’re breaking through this pathetic fleet.”

Zuser pulled his hood up as green pulses of plasma shot ahead, lighting up the first several Collective ships and prompting red lasers to streak towards the Instigator.

Zuser grinned like a madman as he pushed the ship into hell.

Eos City

A Collective transport was in the middle of unloading scores of Marines and weapons when a hail of green plasma ripped the transport apart and sent bodies flying. Another transport about to land was suddenly crushed as the Instigator slammed down into it. The larger ship shook it off like a case of fleas before it let loose with its turbo laser batteries, shredding through the weakly shielded transport ship currently exploding beneath it. Zuser jammed the intercom as he brought the Raider-II class ship steady enough to activate the landing cycle.

“All hands! Open fire! Opress will take this landing zone that these Collective scum were so nice to make for us!”


Eos City


38 ABY

The Shistavanen had seen his share of hunts and fights, and he had witnessed bloodbaths. But this was a stalemate. The Collective Hive Mind troopers, may they be damned, were fighting toe to toe with Opress and Plagueian troops. These new enemies were not easy to kill, either. They held fast against even lightsaber blows, at least for a time.

At first, Fenrir tried to circle around to pounce on an unsuspecting enemy, but that attempt was unsuccessful. It is impossible to pounce on someone if they were interconnected. This became apparent after a few tries, though that did not daunt him. He momentarily retreated, only to charge back again.

These new inhuman enemy troopers seemed to know no fear, like most others felt upon laying their eyes the monstrous wolf-man. This perturbed Fenrir considerably, and like an affronted animal, he snarled and seethed in a rage.

In the heat of battle, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a group of Hive Mind troops zeroing on the Dreadbringer, who fought a few meters away from the rest of the squadron. Aleister was regrouping behind a shed and fighting hard, but even Fenrir saw that he could be in danger any moment now. Advancing quite fast, running on all four and using the Force, he lifted one enemy troop and thrust him into the hard ground. But he wasn’t finished yet: while staying away from enemy fire, he harried the platoon by freely using his telekinesis abilities, slamming troopers against each other or throwing them sky-high.

A bolt from the blue stopped all that, literally.

Fenrir didn’t know who fired or from where, but it hit him in the back twice. The wolfman’s huge frame tottered for a while before crashing in the middle of the battlefield. His eyes lolled toward the back of his head as the pain took hold of him. He attempted to heal himself, yet with all that pain taking a toll, using the Force was impossible. Slowly, begrudgingly and still enraged, he watched his world fade to black.


Ascendancy - Hangar Bay
Arx system
38 ABY

Gaius Julius Caesar took less than a minute to disembark his shuttle after its safe arrival back on the Ascendancy. For the past two years, he stood beside Tavisaen through all matters, without second guessing any commands. It wasn’t until the Nesolat was boarded and Ronovi’s response that the Aedile began to see through the lies of the Dread Lord. The decision to board the doomed platform was risky, but that wasn’t what bothered Caesar the most. It was the blatant disregard that his own Consul had for any member of the Clan.

A bright-eyed ensign approached the old man as he hobbled his way out of the hangar and towards the turbolift. “Ah, Lieutenant Colonel! Tavisaen was expecting - ”

“I don’t care what she was expecting, Ensign!” he snarled back. “If I were you, I’d take that shuttle and return to Aliso, where you’d actually have a chance at surviving this ridiculous assault!”

His voice echoed through the largely inactive bay. Despite his actions coming off as belittling, there was a truth in his passionate voice. The ensign shuffled off, both embarrassed and baffled, leaving the Aedile alone in his stroll.

His steps became slower, and he was starting to breathe more heavily, as he finally reached the lift and stepped inside. He gripped his cane tightly as he waited for the door to close and bring him closer to his destination: the command bridge. He was going to confront the Dread Lord and convince her to start down a new path that saw every Plagueian as a valuable asset.

Ascendancy - Bridge

The bridge was full of life, given the current circumstances on the surface of Arx. The rescued Headmistress was working closely with Admiral Ranin of the Ascendant Fleet to coordinate plans. Her expertise and direct lines of communication with the Iron Navy were serving the Dread Lord well, despite what appeared to be heavy casualties on the ground. As a former Fist, Alaris Jinn was known to be brutal in his offensive commands, and he was letting his voice be heard in the matter.

“Looks like your old fool has finally shown up!” laughed Jinn, as Caesar could be heard making his final steps onto the bridge.

The pale human stood proud and tall as he made direct eye contact with the Dread Lord without speaking a word. He gripped his cane tightly with one hand and the handle of his pistol with the other.

“No need for that, Caesar. You don’t have the guts to kill me,” Ronovi smiled.

Gaius removed his hand from his weapon as he began to pace side to side, all while keeping his eyes on the Epicanthix. “Do we even matter to you, Tavisaen? Or are we all a joke to you? Your pathetic rescue attempt on the Headmistress -”

Successful attempt,” clarified Ciara from her console.

“My Lord, I beg you. We do not belong here!” barked Caesar once more, ignoring the jab from the Headmistress. “We belong on Aliso, where Karn left you with a booming economy and the ability to grow our domain. Instead, you hide on the bridge while your loyal servants sacrifice their lives for the Iron Throne!”

Ronovi’s organic eye narrowed viciously. “Don’t you dare lecture me on sacrifice,” she hissed, as she raised her cybernetic arm, “I lost this limb on this bridge. I’d suggest you not insinuate that I shy away from the frontlines.”

“Then what can I do?” questioned Caesar, “What can I do to show you that we are worth something?”

“We?” Jinn repeated, chuckling. “Or you?”

Caesar’s frustration swelled as his complaints were being mocked. His face began to grow bright red. The veins in his forehead were ready to burst. “Why won’t you take me seriously?!”

“Because,” Ronovi snapped, “you’re a dime a dozen. I couldn’t care less about your feelings. I have thousands who could replace you. Do not think you’re special, Caesar.”

All at once, Caesar’s anger subsided and became resignation. It was increasingly clear that the only thing that would save the lives of hundreds was to eliminate the biggest threat to them all: the Dread Lord. Perhaps it was a fool’s errand, after all. But it was either death by humiliation or death by honor. And he chose honor.

He slowly reached back down to his waist and clicked open his holstered slugthrower.

“I’m sorry for this, my Lord.”


Ronovi didn’t even blink when Julius drew his slugthrower.

The old man had always had his tricks. He was a torture artist, an interrogator, a demolition guy. What he wasn’t, however, was a Sith. And although he intended to murder the Dread Lord, Ronovi was stronger, faster, and deadlier.

The Aedile was not able to pull the trigger in time; the telekinetic wave unleashed by the Epicanthix was just enough to loosen his grip on his weapon. As the slugthrower clattered to the floor, various naval officers reached for their own firearms, though they knew not to draw, let alone fire. A few strides of her long legs were all it took for Ronovi to reach Julius, and she cuffed the back of his withered neck with an open hand, forcing his head down and, subsequently, his body into a kneeling position. Julius gritted his teeth, his frame almost prone, knowing full well the symbolism behind his newfound posture.

What he was not able to see, however, was the flash of a vibrodagger.

The first wound was inflicted between the shoulder blades, the blood gushing from the old man’s back. Julius did not cry out. He only gurgled when the dagger entered his neck, his lungs deluged with clotted plasma and phlegm. A strange, pink haze settled in front of his eyes, as if the bridge of the Ascendancy had been painted rose. After a moment, his flesh grew cold. He said nothing. Thought nothing. And ultimately, he felt nothing.

Ronovi, organic eye blazing, stabbed Julius again. And again. And again. And again. The dagger moved effortlessly, severing tendons and perforating intestines and separating blood vessels from the heart itself. She did not stop, not even when her victim lay face first in a growing puddle of his own fluids. The most frightening part was that she did this all in near silence. Save for the occasional grunt and gasp, she did not speak a single word, curse a single curse, or even yell or roar during the act.

No one else uttered a syllable. Admiral Ranin observed the scene coolly, calmly. She may have even allowed herself a small smile.

At long last, after what felt like eons, Ronovi rose, her chest and shoulders heaving, crystalline sweat collected on her brow. Julius’s blood streaked her sleeveless black tunic in a wide swathe, like wet paint on a void canvas. She turned to face Alaris, Ciara, and the crew of the Ascendancy. All remained silent.

Gulping down air, the Dread Lord finally spoke, her voice strained and cracking. “Would anyone else like to challenge my authority or seek to attack me?”

No one dared reply, not even in the negative. Alaris’s face was stoic. Ciara pursed her lips. Nothing could be heard except for the hum of the ship itself and the clicking of keys on consoles.

“Good,” Ronovi breathed. “Let’s keep it that way.”

She wiped her vibrodagger on her pant leg and sheathed it, the smell of Julius’s blood already comparable to the odor of wet rust. Then she walked back to the main viewing portal and gazed at Arx’s surface. The Ascendant Fleet was erecting a defensive blockade to prevent any further Collective ships from invading the planet. Reports about the land assault, to the contrary, were more dire.

“This stalemate needs to end,” she declared. “Cantor wants Eos City? We’ll give him Eos City. Ranin, send a transmission to Benzayn. My orders are to deploy Alpha and Delta to the Eos continent. Keep Beta and Gamma on standby until we get a full briefing back from the troops.”

“Yes, my lord,” the admiral responded, unwilling to and uninterested in challenging Ronovi.

“Have them storm the whole city,” continued Ronovi, “and conscript anyone they find capable of joining our ranks. Once Eos City and its surrounding areas are rid of the Collective, we can refocus Opress on Uskil and the Deputy Grand Master.”

Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted movement, and when she turned, she found Alaris hovering over Julius’s abandoned body. The expression on his face was initially incomprehensible, but after a moment, Ronovi recognized the visage of someone studying a specimen.

“Would you like to help clean up the mess, Jinn?” she asked, a teasing lilt in her voice.

“No,” Alaris responded simply, refusing to take the bait. He stepped over the fresh corpse and looked at Ronovi. “Wine?”

Ronovi raised an eyebrow. “You offering?”

“I have a bottle. Your room, or mine?”

Now this was interesting. The last time the two of them had drunk together, she had dumped said wine all over Alaris’s tunic. Now the thought of fraternizing with the Twi’lek over Whyren’s Reserve and Corellian wine seemed like an entertaining prospect. And maybe Alaris’s intentions were malicious, but they were Dark Jedi, after all, and he was surprisingly patient for a Dark Jedi. She exhaled.

“Friends, I’ll be in my quarters,” she said. “Serrus, contact Liandry and let her know that she’ll need a new Aedile. Make yourself comfortable, Ciara. We have a bar you can frequent as needed.”

Ciara snorted, both at the concept of a bar on a clan’s flagship and at the idea of Ronovi calling everyone “friends” after mercilessly stabbing Gaius Julius Caesar to death. Alaris nodded, turned, and left the bridge. Ronovi would not be far behind him.


Arx system
Half an hour later

TuQ’uan wandered aimlessly down the hallways of the Wrath, unable to concentrate on the war raging around him. His mind had been reeling over the message he had just received, unsure how to process the information contained within.

TuQ’uan hadn’t heard from Laren since his old friend and mentor had unceremoniously left Plagueis behind. Now, out of nowhere, the Pantoran had dropped this on him. The timing of the message was too perfect, fueling his feelings as an “other” within the clan. A line was forming in the sand, and the di Plagia wasn’t sure which side he would stand on when the time came.

Members of the Ascendant fleet passed by, pausing only briefly to salute TuQ’uan who, at this point, was moving on autopilot, completely unaware of the world around him. Everything had become a hazy blur, his feet continuously carrying him forward, but where he was going, he didn’t yet know or care. He was lost in his thoughts, trying to figure out what he should do next. TuQ’uan needed to talk things out, but he couldn’t talk too openly about this to just anyone; it had to be someone he could trust not to mention this to anyone. Especially not Ronovi.

Julius. TuQ’uan’s former Aedile was the answer. They had never really been friends, but they had certainly respected each other. Plus, the Loyalist was much wiser than the Force users of the clan would give him credit for. The two of them had bonded over their apparent status (or perceived lack thereof) within the summit and had worked well together for a time. Another check in the pro column for talking this over with Julius was the growing tension between him and Ronovi, another thing that the two non-Force users had in common.

Snapping out of his daze, TuQ’uan found himself standing in his private office with no recollection of entering the room or how long he had been standing in front of the large, empty desk. He knew what he had to do. The Kel Dor’s stubby fingers danced across the screen of his datapad, opening a secure connection to Caesar’s commlink. The datapad clicked as it made the connection and waited for Julius to answer the call.

The Kel Dor held his breath; it was odd for the human not to answer a call immediately, especially from a superior. Impatiently, TuQ’uan cut the connection and tried again. And again. And again. After a half dozen failed attempts to reach the Aedile, he gave up and began pacing back and forth, wearing a path from one side of the room to the other.

The datapad still laying on the desk chimed: he had an incoming call. Unable to contain his excitement, Kel Dor rushed over to answer.

“Julius! Where have you been?”

No response.

“Julius, is that you?”

“No,” an unknown voice replied, barely louder than a whisper.

“Who the frak are you, and why are you calling me?” the Wrath snapped, his irritation evident.

“Let’s just say I’m a friend willing to help,” the voice responded. “Look, I don’t have much time. I’m calling from the Ascendancy. Lieutenant Colonel Caesar has been murdered.”

TuQ’uan struggled to believe the news. Who would murder Julius, and why? And more importantly, why was some mysterious “friend” telling him and not the Dread Lord? Was this a trap? But a trap for what? His mind raced as he tried to make sense of the call.

“Banth Druk!” he cursed. “Why should I believe you?”

“The Furry Vornskr said I could trust you.”

TuQ’uan stiffened. Did Laren still have allies in Plagueis?

“I’m sorry,” the officer said. “I really am. I sent over a holovid that I think you need to watch. When the time comes, remember: you have friends here.”

And with that, the connection went dead. With a morbid curiosity, the Kel Dor reached out, hands shaking, and opened the holovid, terrified of what he was about to see.

Security footage from the bridge of the Ascendancy lit up the screen. Julius stood in front of Ronovi, slugthrower in hand. And then it happened. TuQ’uan watched the Dread Lord viciously plunge her vibrodagger into the Aedile repeatedly, ripping hole after hole into his now lifeless body, as everyone simply stood back and watched. A man who had served well for many years. A man who only ever had the interests of the clan in mind. A man whom TuQ’uan looked to for advice had been absolutely butchered, and no one even batted an eye.

TuQ’uan’s vision narrowed, and his knees went weak. His death grip on the edge of the desk was the only thing stopping him from collapsing completely to the ground, as he let out a silent scream of pure rage.

He had put up with a lot, but Ronovi had gone too far this time.


Eos City
38 ABY

The battle was intense. Collective soldiers were everywhere in the city. Blackhawk pushed on like a tornado over the battlefield.

Peace is a lie. There is only Passion.

Blackhawk had once believed that it might be possible. That perhaps at least some of the Collective might learn the error of their ways. Not anymore. They had proven that.

Through passion, I gain strength.

A few years before, during his first encounter with the enemy, he had been left somewhat impressed by their dedication. Now, they were nothing. Resorting to experiments, programming a new kind of soldier. To him, that was not dedication. That was cowardice. Over the years, the Clawdite had grown, honed his abilities. He had prepared for times like this.

Through strength, I gain power.

Blackhawk let the Force flow through him. The years of pain, anguish, and anger that the Collective had caused had quickly caught up with him. He had lost enough to the scum. Friends, acquaintances, his home within the Brotherhood, and now they had brought down Fenrir. They would take nothing else from the Tarenti. His rage was boiling. The Collective would be destroyed, even if he had to destroy them himself.

Through power, I gain victory.

Rage was a great motivator. Soldiers fell around him. Objects were flung. Sabers cut blazing gashes through anyone who dared come near. Blackhawk was carving his way through the city outskirts, leaving nothing standing in his wake. And still, The Collective’s forces continued to push on. There were too many of them. But Blackhawk had one more trick up his sleeve.

Through victory, my chains are broken.

Opress had come for two reasons. They needed to make a landing zone, and they needed to help extract Brimstone and his group. The way Blackhawk saw it, to do one, they needed the other. The rest of the team was just as focused on those objectives as he was. And now, he could see the other group. It had been a while since Blackhawk had attempted what he was about to do, but it would make for an epic display if it worked.

The Force shall set me free.

“Hey, Brim!” Blackhawk shouted, leaping to the Chiss with a devilish grin.

K’imsi Ch’acivah.


The Chiss heard all he needed to hear after his name was called out. Blackhawk had been in a situation with him before that necessitated the Cheuhn battle cry of the Battlemaster. He had been pushed to his limit with the Collective’s perceived victories and the losses of his own troops, not to mention the other two times he had been injured and still was in pain, despite his healing.

In a split second, Brimstone’s normally deep red eyes changed to a putrid, heinous Sith orange of those that were fully enveloped in the dark side of the Force. Anger flowed through him like a tidal wave as he raised his hands and outstretched them at the Collective enemies in front of them. Blackhawk smiled, knowing that he got his attention, and started to lift debris of wood, trash, and other demolished rubble, hurling it towards the unsuspecting targets.

Intense aqua blue arcs of lightning lashed out of Brimstone’s fingertips and into the ensuing storm of debris. The immediate impact of the bolts ignited it into a firestorm that cascaded upon the Collective forces. They screamed in terror as the flames and lightning raged in an unfathomable inferno. Brim pushed and pushed more jagged makeshift missiles into the fray as his lust for death overcame him. His own troopers surrounding him and Blackhawk shuddered, fearful, as they had never seen the former commander in such a rage.

Seconds later, both the Clawdite and the Chiss released the chaos and grabbed their lightsabers, igniting them. Both Plagueians then took off in a fevered sprint and leapt into the remains of the fire that engulfed the area. Ignoring the heat and pain, they cleaved into the still remaining live targets and savored every cry of pain and plea for mercy. The dark side enveloped them like a lover as they basked in the utter destruction and savagery of the kill. With blood flowing from their skin, the two Sith finished what they had started.

As more Collective that were behind them saw what was happening, they attempted to regroup but were unsuccessful. Others of Opress and Tyranus joined in the fray, fighting alongside the two Plagueians and their squad of troopers. Only once the flames died down, and the bodies laid scattered along the blood-soaked streets, were the two of them able to snap out of the bloodthirst.

“Brim, that was quite enjoyable,” exclaimed the Clawdite in a sweat.

The Chiss smiled. “Yes, it was. Now I know why Wrathus and Silent enjoyed it so much.” He then looked at his men behind them and saw the concern on their faces. “I think once we heal ourselves a bit, we need to go find some more and enjoy their deaths. What do you say, Hawk?”

Blackhawk snickered. “I’m game if you are!”


Eos City
38 ABY

Tahiri had been backed into a dead-end alley, cut off from her transport shuttle, protecting about a dozen of Eos City denizens, and facing a whole squad of Shikari Huntresses and Collective soldiers. Her crimson saber and blacked-out Vibrosword keeping the blades and bolts of the Collective’s weapons at bay. The alleyway she was in was wide enough for four people to walk abreast. With the citizens cowering behind her and her Vornskr companion, it looked bleak as the Collective forces bunched in to ensure their demise.

At least there are none of those Hive Mind Marines.

It was a private thought to herself, though Zuska snorted in response. Tahiri let a low growl escape from her throat before she and Zuska used the walls of the alleyway to their advantage. Both leapt onto the wall and used it as a springboard to launch their attack on the enemy. Zuska’s jaws closed around the throat of a frantic soldier. As the Vornskr landed on top of the body, blood dripping from his mouth as he dropped the chunk of neck, his venomous tail lashed out and stung a Huntress’s leg, recoiling back just in time before the Huntress’ stun baton would have broken his tail.

Tahiri took on two Huntresses, her saber slicing the head off one while her sword was met by the stun baton of the other. The force with which Tahiri came down on the Huntress caused her to stagger back into the soldier behind her. Making the whole squad bunch up more, Tahiri saw the opportunity to hit harder. Using the Huntress as a platform, she pushed away, gaining momentum as she spun around gracefully and stepped forward, thrusting her saber with enough force through the soldier and the one behind him, too.

The Huntress regained her balance, took out her Z6 Riot Control Baton, and set it to its highest setting. She rushed towards the Togruta; however, she forgot about the Vornskr that was near her. She felt a sudden sting in her arm, turning her head just in time to see the jaws of a beast close around her neck and a heavy weight fall on top of her. There was a panic, a haze, and then nothing. Zuska dropped his kill and rushed at the next enemy who dared to attack his companion.

Tahiri had no time to access her comlink for back-up. All the Battlelord knew was that she needed to get these people to safety and kill these Collective scum. As Tahiri and her pet clashed with the seemingly never-ending squad of troops, trying their hardest to protect the citizens, there was an explosion in the street just behind the squad. The shockwave knocked the last few off balance, and shards of stone and durasteel pelted them. Everyone within the alleyway hadn’t noticed that the fighters overhead were engaging much lower than before.

Some of the squad turned to see what was happening above them, running out of the alley toward where the threat was coming from. Tahiri couldn’t worry about that; she was only glad that a few were distracted, so maybe she could use some other techniques. Feeling the rage building inside her, she gathered the Force up like collecting pebbles.

With augmented strength, the hum of her blades, and red vision, Tahiri let out a primal shriek as she leapt into the air. Sending a blast of lightning to stun the remaining Collective personnel, Tahiri descended, cutting three more down, while Zuska maimed another two. The Battlelord paused, looking ahead at her next targets, who were slowly backing away to regroup and come at her with a full force.

The petite Togruta advanced on the retreating Collective as they fell back into the street. Before she could leave the alley, another explosion went off to the right. Green bolts rained down from above onto the Collective, and then an X-wing ship crash-landed, crushing the rest of the squadron as it skidded down the road.

Tahiri saw that the path to her transport was cleared, so she urged her charges to quickly make for it. Turning back towards the fighter, her heart skipped a beat when she saw the Plagueis emblem. Racing for it, she knew she had to get the pilot out before the damaged ship blew.

Crashed X-wing ship, Eos City
A moment later

Ro-Tahn’s head rang loudly from the crash, and his vision blurred. Shaking his head only made the ringing worse. He knew that the ship had gone down and he needed to get out, but his body felt heavy. He was barely aware of the cockpit cover being lifted off and a hand gripping his arm. A moment later, his vision began to clear, and the Togruta noticed a crimson female frantically pulling him out of his ship.

The weight seemed to fall away as he recognized Tahiri, pushing himself up over the lip of the cockpit and almost falling over as his feet hit the ground. Even though his sister was tinier than he was, she did her best to get him away from the now burning ship.

“What happened?” Ro-Tahn shouted.

“You crashed, you crazy voorpak,” Tahiri grunted.

“I meant to do that.” A cocky lopsided grin crossed Ro-Tahn’s face. “Hey, look at that.”

He pointed to the sky. Tahiri looked to where her brother pointed and saw, with relief, that backup had arrived. Several Ascendant Legion reinforcement transports were coming in for a landing.

“Looks like the Dread Lord made the order to take the city back. Let’s get you onboard.”

“You’re not coming?”

“I have unfinished business. But you need medical attention. I’ll be there when you wake up. Promise.”


Sigma Group Transport en route to the Dominant
Arx System
38 ABY

Well, that could’ve gone better, was Liandry’s blunt mental assessment of her first major mission since taking on a leadership position within Clan Plagueis. She’d been disobeyed by her direct subordinate and had to lead an evacuation effort with minimal resources. Just as her mind was about to wander onto what she would say to Julius when she finally saw him again, the sound of an incoming call reached her ears.

“Ma’am, Captain Owen Serrus of the Ascendant Fleet wishes to speak with you. I’ll send it over to your secure line.”

The pilot, who by Liandry’s estimation was in his early thirties, informed the Hand of Dread of the source of the noise. The Pantoran said nothing in response but headed for the secure console to speak to Serrus.

“Captain Owen Serrus, bearing an important message from the Dread Lord herself,” the captain introduced himself before continuing once he was given non-verbal permission to do so. “Gaius Julius Caesar did knowingly and willingly disobey orders and otherwise show signs of insubordination. He confronted the Dread Lord, even pulling a weapon on her. This was not something the Dread Lord could tolerate, and he was executed for his betrayal. The Dread Lord highly recommends that you quickly move to fill this new vacancy. That is all.”

The captain’s image disappeared as the call concluded. Liandry stood stoically as she silently comprehended the information she’d just received.

I guess he wasn’t as loyal as he appeared.

The Quaestor stifled a chuckle; she was proud of herself for that one. She would have to replace him, of course; it was unwise to go against the Dread Lord’s advice. Or would she?

While she hadn’t been around to see it, Liandry had heard rumors of the Dread Lord being doubted publicly before. What she needed, in Liandry’s mind at least, was competent people she could trust. Being rather new to the scene, The Pantoran thought of herself as an ideal example of this. She would gain a powerful ally and maybe even promotion if she managed to play her cards right. Events would need to be set in motion quickly, though, as it was only a matter of time before someone like Mavros would find out and try to use events for their benefit. She attempted to reach Captain Serrus and was fortunate that the captain answered.

“What can I do for you?” Subtlety was not the captain’s strong suit, clearly.

“Captain Serrus, I have a message of my own I would like you to convey to the Dread Lord. At a time and place of her choosing, in a manner also of her choice, I would like a face-to-face meeting so that we may discuss how to forge a working relationship that is mutually beneficial to us as individuals and Plagueis as an entity. That is all.”

With her plan now in motion, Liandry tried to enjoy the rest of the ride back to the Dominant.


Dread Lord’s Quarters - Ascendancy
Arx System

“Look at us.” Alaris Jinn finished pouring the 36 Corellian Tarsik - a very good year. The Twi’lek was speaking less than grandiosely, and he seemed genuinely surprised. “Huh? Look at us.”

“Who would’ve thought?” the Dread Lord replied coyly.

Alaris smiled and shook his head as he raised a glass to clang it against Ronovi’s. “Not me!”

Ronovi never ceased to be amused by Alaris Jinn. He had had quite the experience since Ronovi originally ran him out of Plagueis, and he was always at Ronovi’s peripheral. She had assumed his return would have been to finally attempt an assassination, so yes, she was a little more than surprised when he arrived months ago to assist against Clan Vizsla.

“Be honest with me, Jinn.” Ronovi sitting down was only a few inches shorter than Alaris standing upright, so she allowed him his moment to be taller. “What brought you back to me?”

She knew the answer but she wanted to hear Alaris say it himself. “Security.”

“Of course.”

Alaris snickered a moment. “Oh, don’t flatter yourself too much, Dread Lord.” He used the title, but it seemed to sound like a pejorative rather than an honorific. “You are not the one giving me safety. Clan Plagueis is.”

The Dread Lord raised an eyebrow and relaxed into the large couch that Alaris was sure was only for Ronovi. “You’ll need to elaborate on that.”

“I basically stole millions of shares from the Collective that has turned into billions of credits in a matter of years. If I wanted to live out my life in luxury and security, I could retire to Kuat and never have another want.” He took a long, silent sip from the blood red wine. “The security isn’t from death or physical violence. It’s from boredom, Ronnie, and you, my old friend…”

He punched the word, echoing her earlier sentiments on the bridge.

“…are never, ever boring. Today, for example.”

Alaris moved to the viewport to look out onto the warzone.

“You’re as reckless as ever; violent as ever. Julius wasn’t wrong, just misguided in his approach. Impatient, really.”

Ronovi touched her lightsaber briefly, just as a precaution, but kept the wine glass raised by her face. “That was his mistake?”

Alaris turned back toward her. “His only mistake. I have known him for a much longer time than you have. He made few mistakes. You, however, just proved to everyone that you care for no one under your command. Not a single individual in the Clan. Not a single officer. No one. I don’t expect you to actually care, of course, but - just pretend, for the babies.”

“For the babies,” the Epicanthix repeated. “You really are a sociopath, aren’t you?”

“Psychopath,” Alaris corrected. “Sociopaths are reckless.”

“You keep using that word.”

“You keep giving me reasons to.”

“You keep giving me reasons to kill you.”

Alaris smiled. “And yet, unlike Julius, you know that you can’t,” he taunted. “You know that I still have allies, and you know that I still have many indebted to me. How many under your command? Remember that I was here before you, and I will still be here when you’re gone.”

“We shall see.”

Ronovi grasped her lightsaber, but before she had a chance to ignite it, the comm near her desk echoed a sharp chirp of an incoming message.

“Yes?” she demanded.

“Dread Lord,” Serrus’s sharp voice came through clear, “the Legion has arrived at Elos Vrai.”

Ronovi let go of the saber and placed her glass down on the table in front of her. “Ah! The Eos continent! Care to join me on the bridge, Jinn?” she grinned.

Alaris cocked his head slightly at her mispronunciation, then followed suit. “I wouldn’t dream of anything else.”


Eos City
38 ABY

A passerby could be forgiven for thinking a second army had come to invade Eos City. Engines of war surged across the settlement, flanked by rows of merciless, unfeeling soldiers. They didn’t bother following the roads, plowing through buildings and over corpses without so much as a second thought. Any sentient soul they encountered was immediately accosted by faceless warriors and tossed aside, trampled, or absorbed into the column. There was no hesitation when they mercilessly bombarded targets with blasterfire and turbolasers. It was only upon closer inspection that someone might take notice of the Ascendant Legion insignia emblazoned on the officers’ jackets. This army was not here to conquer Eos City, but to liberate it.

As the Ascendant Legion spread through the city, they left a path of destruction in their wake. They were single-minded in purpose and focused on destroying the Collective presence, but responded to any aggression with overpowering force. Their march was never halted for long, even when faced with fleeing civilians or Brotherhood allies. They had no intention of coordinating with the other Clans or the Iron Legion; while organized in deployment, they might as well have had the mind of a beast. Negotiating with the Ascendant Legion was not an option.

Ranthe Benzayn, commander of the Ascendant Legion, had descended with his soldiers, forming a command center at the landing zone. Surrounded by shuttles both stationary and mobile, Benzayne stood with his arms crossed, staring down at a large hologram projected on the ground. The blue light depicted the city, with rows of green symbols highlighting the positions of the various Ascendant Legion units. A few officers were moving around him, constantly working to coordinate the Legion’s lines of communication and update battlefield intelligence reports.

The soldiers had done their job, nearly razing the city to the ground, and its Collective invaders along with it. As Benzayn glanced up at his surroundings, he had to allow himself a small smile at the current state of a once sterile city square. Scorched and smoking, piles of rubble and corpses now littered the area that had become his temporary command center. The distant sounds of destruction and mayhem were a constant reminder of his proximity to the battlefield and kept his heart pumping steadily.

It had been a while since Benzayn had found himself on a battlefield. Although securing the landing zone had taken less than a minute, it had been pleasant to watch the Legion mow down the pitiful defense the Collective had raised against them. Benzayn, as a General, often found himself coordinating things from a safer position, but this was not just any battlefield - this was Arx. He didn’t want to miss the chance to see his soldiers outshine the rest of the Brotherhood.

“General.” An officer had paused by Benzayn’s shoulder. “Things are going smoothly, but the Collective is trying to counter our assault through more guerilla tactics.”

Benzayn shook his head. “They know they don’t have a chance. Just keep up the assault and make sure we keep abreast of the situation. I don’t want to be caught off guard.”

The officer saluted and turned to address something on his datapad. Benzayn wasn’t worried about any plan the Collective might have up their sleeve. They would fall before the might of Plagueis. If worse came to worse, the General only had to call on the reinforcements they had lying in the wings.

Turning back to the hologram of the battle, Benzayn continued to analyze the situation. The Ascendant Legion was moving through the city at a rapid pace. Fast enough that a mouse might be able to slip through their net. Benzayn reached up and tapped the comm-link that was affixed to his head, opening the Legion-wide channel.

“Continue the extermination, but don’t forget why we’re here. If there’s a single Collective soldier left alive when we leave, we can consider this campaign a failure.”

The sky was thick with black smoke due to the massive battle, but the constant exchanges of plasma lit it with occasional flashes of red and green. The distant rumble of war echoed across the mostly quiet command center. A storm had come to Eos City, with lightning to strike down their enemies, thunder to send them running, and the rain of a thousand soldiers to wipe the field clean. The Ascendant Legion wasn’t an army - it was a force of nature. A force of nature that was now arrayed against the Collective.


As the Legion swept through Aliso city, Taranae allowed herself a small smile. In all the commotion, she had forgotten about her comrades. She glanced around and saw Opress Squadron making their collective way back towards the landing zone. Aleister turned and saw her with a puzzled look on her face.

“Rhode, what are you doing? We’re pulling back!”

Mentally counting the numbers off, she raised an eyebrow.

“We’re missing one!” she hollered back, and she turned quickly to find Fenrir. Yards away was a small group of Hive Mind Troopers, and they seemed fixed on the crumpled body laid on the ground. Squinting, the Sith could just make out the prone form of the Shistavanen. Blood seeped from wounds in his back, and the redhead knew that if not treated properly and soon, they would be fatal.

“Fenrir is down, Aleister!” she shouted at the retreating squadron.

“Damn it!” he shouted back. “Go get him, Tara. Think you can lift him?”

“Easy!” she hollered back.

She skipped away from the group and towards the enemies surrounding Fenrir. She grinned, knowing what she was about to do, and allowed herself a moment of glee.

“Guys!” she shouted, garnering the attention of a couple of the Marines. “I lost my pet. You seen him anywhere?”

Collectively, the Marines stood and faced her as she skipped giddily towards them. Her hand very carefully slid to the holster of her saberstaff as she approached.

“Awww, you hurt him,” she said as she stopped a few feet from them. “Now I‘m angry!”

She spat the last words with vehemence that did not become her calm demeanour as she cavorted towards them within a few scant seconds. A crimson blade flared to life as she activated one blade of her saberstaff, and she held it at arm’s length across her body before the watching Marines, who showed no feeling whatsoever. They all drew their weapons as Taranae advanced menacingly. The growl from her throat and the set of her jaw told them that she was going to be trouble, and they trained their weapons on her as one. The other end of her saberstaff ignited, and she ran headlong into the fray, her staff swinging left and right as it twirled around her body. The Marines dodged and ducked as they tried to get a bead on the spinning fury that was Taranae

Suddenly, a stray bolt deflected off the saberstaff. Taranae twisted as her senses screamed at her. She took the blaster fire in the shoulder as the force of the blast spun her on the spot, and she fell to the ground as the Marines surrounded her.

“Aleister!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. “A little help, please?”


Eos City
38 ABY

Aleister ducked back behind a wall as blaster fire peppered it. He watched as the primary members of Opress Squadron were making their way back to the Instigator. Tara was supposed to be helping an unconscious Fenrir off the field. He quickly clicked on his comm.

“To all of you who can hear me: if it moves, it dies. If it dies, you move on. The Legion can clean up the mess. Let’s show these traitors what happens when you come knocking on our door!”

With a whoop and holler, the forces of Opress Squadron unleashed hell on the approaching Collective members. All the while, they were slowly coalescing around the landing ramp of their ship. Once they had retreated far enough, the Instigator’s cannons roared to life and began to leave gaping holes in the enemy lines. Aleister could almost hear Zuser laughing like a madman on the bridge.

The Dreadbringer leapt over a piece of debris and uncorked a blast of power that cleaved a hole in the encroaching enemy. He had to give the Collective one thing: they certainly knew how to make a tenacious pain-in-the-arse. His lightsaber danced left and right as he cut his way back to his ship. Cursing himself internally, he realized that he had held his own position too long after ordering everyone to fall back. Now several lines of enemy troops stood between him and his allies. But he’d be damned if anyone claimed he needed help. He was Sith. He was better than the others.

Deactivating his saber and hanging it from his belt, he gathered power in both hands before unleashing it all into the forces in front of him. Raw power leapt from his left hand, while crackling lightning shot forth from his right hand. Each blast harvested a handful of Hive Minds like chaff. Now only three lines of Marines stood in his way. Annoyingly, the rearmost line had realized that they were taking fire from behind and had turned around to face him.

“Oh, frack me,” Aleister muttered under his breath as the enemy opened fire. His lightsaber sprang to life in his hand and blocked what it could. However, before long, he was ducking and dodging blaster fire as he ran headlong behind their lines. His blade lashed out from time to time, but he had no chance to see if his attacks had made contact. Looking around frantically, all he needed was an opening.

Frack it all, just give me something.

Suddenly, the line ahead of him exploded in a ball of white-hot plasma. Glancing up, Aleister could see one of the Instigator’s cannons pointed in his direction, barrel smoking.

‘Huh. That’ll do.’

With a shrug, he gathered all of his energy into his legs and sprinted into the gap. He felt something grab his ankle, but a quick slash of his blade easily freed him. He charged through the clearing smoke to see his squadron in a tight circle around the ramp. They were backed up by the platoon of Legion troopers assigned to Opress, resplendent in their black and yellow phase-II armor.

“Eyes up! Dreadbringer incoming!” he hollered as he ran towards the group. Blaster fire raced overhead from both directions as he ran. He felt a handful of shots from behind find their mark on his back. Thankfully, at this distance, his cloak could displace most of the damage. Still hurt like hell, though.

With a great howl and burst of energy, Aleister leapt over the half-circle of his allies and landed on the ramp with a loud thud. Not his most graceful landing.

“All right, everyone. Let’s get the hell out of - ”

He looked around and did a quick headcount.

“Hold on. Where the hell is Rhode?”

One of the troopers pointed over to where the girl was still fighting.

“Fracking hell,” groaned Alester. “The rest of you stay here. I’ll go get her.”

With a frustrated grunt, he charged back towards the lines of Marines. He watched as the redhead knelt near the soldiers, clutching her wounded shoulder. His saber lashed out as he closed on the prone form of Fenrir.

No time to check on him. You better still be alive, you furry bastard. Aleister thought to himself as he started cutting through the enemy.

“Rhode!” He called out. “Rho - ah, frack it, Tara! Get back here!” he shouted.

The use of her first name got her attention. She looked back and saw her leader standing over Fenrir fighting off the Hive.

“I’m coming, Aleister!” she hollered.

She chuckled internally at the double meaning of that phrase, as she started to maneuver her way back to him. Soon, she stood shoulder to shoulder with him, able to quickly seal the hole in her flesh with her Force healing abilities

“You know I told you to rescue the furball!” he shouted as he ducked a flailing arm of one Marine while beheading another.

“I know, but I can’t say it’s too terrible having you come to my rescue,” she answered as her saber cut two deep channels in the marine in front of her.

Aleister could only shake his head. “I’ll grab the wolf. Think you can watch my back?”


“Good. We can talk later. For now, let’s get out of here.”

After sharing a nod, Aleister hoisted the Shistavanen onto his shoulders, and the two ran for the ship, just as the bulk of the Ascendant Legion began sweeping through the city like a cleansing wave of death.


Ascendancy - Bridge

Arx system

38 ABY

The reports from the ground were now, clearly, much more favorable. The Ascendant Legion had surrounded the city of Eos and routed out the remaining Collective forces, freeing the continent of Elos Vrai from the enemy’s insurgency. While the other clans had also worked valiantly to defend the Brotherhood’s territory, the sheer swarm of Ascendant soldiers - dark and faceless, all the same like a cluster of insects - had been quite the sight to behold. Locusts were, perhaps, the most apt comparison to the Legion, as everything belonging to the Collective had been leveled, burned, smoked out, slaughtered, or razed.

Ronovi was eager to wrap things up.

“Send transmissions to the Wrath and the Silent Scream,” she instructed Captain Serrus. “I want naval updates from both Varick and Mallus.”

Serrus arched an eyebrow. “Your Wrath has been rather…silent in all of this. Do you think he’ll actually accept a call?”

Ronovi eyed the floor of the bridge. Even after the body of Gaius Julius Caesar had been carted away, he had left a literal stain on the otherwise pristine durasteel, the once red hue a pesky brown. The Dread Lord walked over to the dried blood and perused it, air whistling from between her teeth. While the Lieutenant Colonel was dead, his legacy might continue on among the scores of non-Force users enlisted within Plagueis’s ranks. She would have to ensure that no one attempted to act on any sentimental feelings. Ronovi was not opposed to an inner purge.

“If he doesn’t respond,” she decided, “then I’d be more than happy to have him…relinquish command of the Wrath so we can actually get the job done. Contact Liandry as well so she and the Dominant can provide back-up. I find her presence…most useful.”

From a corner console, Alaris snorted. Ronovi mentally questioned why she continued to allow him to be on the bridge.

Serrus got to work, sending transmissions to Khryso, TuQ’uan, and Liandry. TuQ’uan, as expected, did not respond. Ronovi sighed. There was still plenty of work to do both above the planet and on the continent of Uskil. The Deputy Grand Master continued his assault on the Brotherhood unabated, and the Shadow Academy could serve as one of his first casualties. Ronovi would not let that happen.

She unhooked her saberstaff from her belt and held it gingerly in her hand. Her palm grew cold from the contact with the metal.

“Alaris,” she instructed, “see if you can find Ciara. The three of us have a mission to undertake.”

“Evant?” he asked.

Ronovi grinned slyly. “Let’s show him a fun time.”

She let the saberstaff ignite, and bright, almost warm beams of cerulean lit the bridge. Her face, however, was eerie behind the glow. The battle for Eos City had been won. The battle for Arx, on the other hand, had only just started. And Plagueis, as always, would be on the frontlines. It was called the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, after all.

The Dread Lord let the mantra of her clan echo in her mind.




Ronovi began to laugh.