[GJWXIII] Clan Arcona Thillon Mischief

(Scarlett) #18

Scarlett

XS-800 Bleusmobile Combat Shuttle

Scarlett kept pace behind Satsi, placing her dark metal helmet over her head and securing it tightly to the rest of her armor. The clasps clicked right into place and a low hiss emanated from the seam as the suit insulated itself and equalized its internal pressure. After a quick check that its filtration system was indeed working, the pale woman stepped swiftly through the doorframe and into the confines of the shuttle, her fists clenched painfully tight.

Her rifle was slung lazily over her shoulder, her lightsaber secured firmly on her hip clasp and her vambraces locked and loaded onto her forearms. Stims coursed through her veins like white hot flame, hungry and alive, scorching her spirit with ravenous need. Her heart beat with palpable anticipation like a war drum in her chest, her mind a chaotic whirlwind of turbulent passion sliced through by an electric, razor sharp focus that was almost painful. Her lips twitched into the twisted semblance of a smile behind her cold expressionless mask.

She was ready.

The shuttle doors closed behind her as the squad assembled into the tight confines of the vessel departing for their drop off point. Satsi sat near the front of the small ship, looking over her coalition of murderers with a confident smirk as she draped her arms over the back of her seat and crossed her legs. Though she seemed at ease her gaze was fierce and brimming with energy, a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

Alara sat across from Scarlett, looking quite relaxed with Artemis slumped over her crossed legs, purring as she stroked its fur. Skar was next to her, continuing to fiddle with the environmental mask that now adorned his scarred face, vainly attempting to adjust it to a more comfortable position before quickly giving up with a slump of his clawed metallic appendages and a low snarl. Magik sat beside Scarlett, seemingly lost in quiet contemplation as he gazed downward at nothing, his fingers coiled around his lightsaber, his eyes fierce and determined.

“Alright, listen up.” Satsi spoke, meeting their gazes as she did so. “We’re going in hot, right on top of these frakkers. We don’t give them any time to react, they’re dead before they hit the ground. And remember,” she leaned forward, “you don’t kill civvies, or you deal with me. Anyone else you don’t hesitate. Got it?”

(Sera Kaern) #19

Sera wasn’t sure what to make of all of this. Surrounded almost entirely by people that she didn’t fully know or recognize, doing her best to catch and hang onto whatever strange, obscure details that she could in the briefing, and all the while struggling to make out anything that her House’s consul was saying through his incredibly thick accent; it all added up to leave the poor little zabrak confused, bemused, and totally out of her element. Thankfully, Rhylance, her apparent squad-leader, was actually able to speak in a totally intelligible way, and what he had to say was simple and easy to understand. Of course, he also immediately struck her as…well, cold. Calculating. Ruthless. Not really an inspiring presence, but at least she could understand what he was saying without getting a headache.

As she slipped out of the meeting, heading towards the designated rendevous point, Sera ran through everything that she already knew. There had been an attack; the Brotherhood had been framed for it, apparently by an organization known as the Collective. These were serious nasties; they hunted force users, like her, in the name of galactic equality. Capturing the scientists that they had sent down onto Thillion’s lunar body would be no easy feat; it wasn’t likely that they would be going up against eggheads that couldn’t defend themselves. Their second objective, securing the enemy data-caches, sounded equally difficult.

The first tactic that came to mind was stealth; get by their defenses before the outpost could be put on alert, pick up the targets one by one, and swoop up the required info on their way out. That would probably be far easier said than done, but…well, it was better than trying to blast their way through hordes of guardsmen and psycho-nerds, right?

“So, right away; I’m thinking we should try a quiet approach. Get in, grab the people and data that we need, and sneak back out. No need for a blood-bath, right?” The zabrak smiled at her temporary teammates…reaching with the force as she did so, gently getting a feel of minds of the people around her. A few weeks training under other force users within the brotherhood had done her wonders; now, she was putting her talent to use. Not in a malevolent way, of course; she just wanted to know what these people were about.

(Emere Galo) #20

Listening to Rhylance speak was nearly yawn-inducing. When he glanced at her at the specific order not to kill, her teeth gritted. If they didn’t act stupid and jump in front of her gun, nobody had to die. Of course, the fact they were dealing with those horrible scientists, that left their meaningful mark on her, would make the order much more difficult. But there was far more at stake than some petty revenge. The Collective were framing the Brotherhood, jeopardizing their chance at an alliance with the Principate.

When the brief came to a completion, Emere Galo gathered with the rest of her teammates, making sure to remember each and every one of their faces. In the midst of war, they would temporarily be family. They would only have one another if things were to suddenly go south.

She heard Sera, the newest member aboard the Voidbreaker, speak first, offering up a suggestion for stealth. While the captain was tempted to simply blow things up, there was something more viable about going in stealthily and achieve their mission objectives swiftly. The tattooed woman scoffed at the mention of ‘No need for a blood-bath’. That was fine. She’d have more fun ‘extracting’ information from them. No one had to die, but someone was going to pay.

“Depending on how tight those bastards keep security at their facility, it should be an in-and-out operation. We just need to go for the head-honchos. If we grab some random idiot, there’s no guarantee we’d get the information we need.” The human turned to her half-selonian comrade, nodding to her. “Eilen, do you think you can do a sweep of their systems, find out who runs the facility? Try to find access points that would go unnoticed by security. Once that’s said and done, begin the data copy. Not sure what the doc plans to do, but the rest of us will ensure that Eilen is safe and that data gets into the Brotherhood’s hands. The goal is to get those targets out alive, if the rest of them become a problem, I don’t have a problem solving that problem.”

(Karran Val'teo) #21

The larger Zabrak took the lead, while Aru followed close behind. Slowly they made their way through the dimly lit forest, the low glow of the moons providing the only illumination by which to find their path They had elected to not bring along glowrods.

“Sure is dark, huh?” The Human looked towards his horned companion.

“Indeed,” the answer came short and hushed.

The two carried on into the woods, the Sith occasionally checking the locator on his comlink to ensure they were on the right path. “Path” being used loosely here, as it was more of a trek through thick underbrush.

“Aru, may I ask you a question?”

“Sure thing, big guy, fire away.”

“Your master… she gave me this gift,” Karran gestured to the jeweled bracelet on his arm, “and in my culture, a gift calls for a gift to be given in turn… I suppose what I mean is, what kind of gift would Alaisy appreciate?” the Zabrak looked around, as if looking for hidden eavesdroppers.

“Do you… have a thing for my master?” the Human looked at the Galerian inquisitively in through the darkness.

“What? No, that is not what I meant, I just- get down!” the Knight grabbed and pulled Aru to the ground as they nearly stepped into a clearing. They looked forward, spotting the Shikari they had been sent to find.

The Zabrak held a finger up to his lips before flipping open his comlink; he sent a ping to Lucine before sitting down to wait for her response.

Aru Law did the same, and Tinker, in turn, turned all systems down to minimum power.

“So, what exactly are your intentions with my master?” the Human spoke in a hushed tone.

The Sith hung his head. “I never should have said anything.”

“Probably not, but you did. So answer the question.”

“I do not have to dignify this with a response. Now be quiet before we are discovered.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll be fine-”

“Quiet!” Karran checked his comlink as it thankfully buzzed on his wrist with a reply from Lucine.

’Proceed as planned.’

“Is it time?” Aru peered over the Zabrak’s shoulder.

“Indeed. Be ready to run.” Karran stood and walked into the clearing, activating his lightsaber.

The crimson blade acted like a beacon in the night, drawing all eyes to him. The Shikari Huntresses’ eyes followed the blade, before drawing their energy bows and firing in the direction of the intruder. The Zabrak stood his ground, deflecting what bolts he could, before drawing upon the Force to summon a shield to protect himself. The bolts dispersed along the invisible barrier while the Knight looked for a lull in the barrage. When it finally came, he turned and darted through the underbrush, his Human companion following close behind, and the astromech following behind him.

The pair ducked and weaved through the branches, brambles, and bushes. But they were careful to not actually lose their pursuers. Everything seemed to be progressing fine, until one of Tinker’s “legs” got caught on a root and the droid fell forward to the ground. Karran groaned as he turned around.

“Keep running! I will get the droid!” the Zabrak ran to the droid, and with a groan picked it up, setting it upright again. “Try to not fall again.” He scolded the droid who sped off. Karran followed, this time making sure to stay to the rear to cover their tactical retreat.

(Aldaric ) #22

Security Checkpoint Lobby

Aldaric was seated directly opposite of Marcus and took the brief moment before anyone spoke to scrutinize him. He had the look and demeanor of a career military man as the intelligence had suggested. The Seeker gently reached out and probed the Captain’s mind to get a sense of the man’s thoughts. Marcus was quite obviously suspicious of the circumstances behind the attacks, but Aldaric couldn’t read much else without a more forceful push.

Marcus was the first to break the silence. “So, now that you’re all here. You better start explaining what is going on. I have half a notion of just ordering you tossed into the brig for the damage your Brotherhood has done.”

Aldaric glanced over to his left to Lucine, who responded with a slight nod. “I think you already know what is going on here,” the Chiss replied casually to Marcus. “The Collective has been waging war against us for some time. They would stop at nothing to prevent us from forming an alliance with a group with as much power as the Principate, and hope to use you against us.” A fierce expression briefly crossed Marcus’ face at the mention of the Collective. He gently pushed into the man’s mind once again and could feel his hatred of the Collective. Aldaric focused on that hatred and worked to enhance it as he spoke. “We have lost many lives to their attacks, many innocent lives. Even women and children, they do not discriminate.” As he finished his sentence, the ember of hatred had erupted into anger. Marcus’ anger was radiating away from him in waves.

“The Collective are animals,” shouted Marcus as he banged a fist on the table in front of him. “But that doesn’t prove your innocence!”

Aldaric was about to speak, but Lucine beat him to it. “That is true,” she said, “but consider the evidence. What have we gained from this? We have come to you and disarmed willingly. Our diplomats are currently locked up. If this was our doing, I think we did a terrible job of planning it, would you not agree?”

“I don’t trust you,” Marcus snapped back. “Though, I trust you more than the Collective. I can’t speak for all of the Principate, but I can have my men stand down, for now. I hope you can find some way to clear all this up before I am forced to change my mind.”

“Thank you, Captain,” Aldaric said as he began to stand up. “We will find something, even if it means personally choking the truth out of one of them.”

“Shall we?” He asked as he glanced over at Alaisy.

“Of course,” she replied as the group began to stand. “Let’s hope this gets resolved before I have to come back and make a mess of the place."

Aldaric merely sighed softly as the group walked out of the checkpoint.

(Aru Law) #23

Forest

Running in front, Aru took the time to look back at Karran and Tinker, who was beeping wildly.

“He’s right Karran,” said Aru to the rushing Zabrak.

“What are you talking about?” the two slightly screamed at each other whilst running.

“Weren’t we supposed to acquire a vehicle and then lure the Shikari ladies to our friends?”

The Zabrak used the force to try and push one of the pursuing Shikari huntress, but she managed to evade, although giving them enough time to look around. All his senses were on alert and he did not take the time to answer Aru’s question before having made sure it was safe.

“There’s more ahead,” he said, “And they know how to fight a force user. We need to be careful.”

“Well, then I’m glad I’m with you. I’m not that much of a fighter like you and I would probably be dead by now. You’re good!” Karran chucked slightly at Aru’s remark.

“Thanks” he said.

Tinker, Aru’s droid approached the two and beeped twice. Aru immediately recognized what those sounds meant and turned around quickly to alert the Zabrak.

“What is it?” Karran asked in a whisper.

“More of our friends” Aru said. “Three at least!”

He reached for his pocket and grabbed three cards from his Sabbac deck. “Again with those cards?” The Zabrak was confused.

“You did your part Karran. Now it’s my turn!” Aru looked in the distance and he threw the three cards quite fast into the thick forest.

A scream could be heard from inside of the dense foliage but, three Shikari huntresses emerged from the thick forest.

“It didn’t work,” said Karran with a disappointed tone.

“We run then?” Aru asked “I can’t fight them.”

“Yeah” Karran sighed, “We run.”

The two turned to Lucine’s location and started running. Aru made sure his droid was safe and then turned to the Zabrak “So what now?”

“We got their attention,” he answered, grabbing his lightsaber and a pair of thermal detonators. “Let’s lead them to Lucine.”

“I hope the talks went well, or things are about to get ugly,” Aru said while grabbing some more sabbac cards from his pocket. “I can’t hurt them, but I can at least slow them down a bit!”

On their way, Karran threw one of his grenades and managed to injure one of the Shikari who didn’t dodge the blast radius on time, but the other two were still fine and on their tail.

Aru reached for his commlink and quickly called Lucine. She took less than 5 seconds to answer “What is it, dear?” she asked calmly.

“My Lady!” Aru yelled, “if you could take the card I gave you earlier and press the middle of the zero I would appreciate it so much!”

“Perhaps a better explanation would be in order?” she asked as if giving him a clear order.

“That’s a signal jammer!” Aru said hastily “We’re gonna bring the party to you and you don’t want more guards to know we’re there, so press it and all comms in the area around you will be disabled for 5 minutes.”

“Of course, dear” She said. The human and the Zabrak waited for several seconds, and then suddenly only static could be heard from the commlink.

“I lost them!” the Zabrak said.

“You used a signal jammer. That works against both sides you know?”

Aru looked at him with a dumb smile “Whoops, heh heh.”

The trio kept running in the direction they were headed previously in hope of finding any signs of their companions.

Tinker beeped in a funny pattern. “You’re right pal!” Aru said to his droid happily.

“What did your droid say?” Karran asked.

“He told me to use the Force to feel my Master’s presence,” Aru answered, “I’m quite sensitive to her specifically, that’s how I met her the first time.”

“We don’t have time to waste,” said the horned Zabrak, lighting his saber “Do it!”

Aru stopped momentarily to concentrate. It took him some time. In the meantime, Karran was holding off two Shikari huntresses. He was being pushed to defensive stances since they were almost on equal footing with him. He could have taken them down, had he fought them separately, but their forces combined made it harder to get good hits other than mild scratches. He was also getting quite beat up too, having several slashes in his right arm and one on his leg.

“Anything?” The Zabrak asked impatiently.

“Almost there!” Said Aru concentrating hard. “There! I found her. This way!”

Karran tried to use Force Push again, making the two Shikari fall back momentarily. They then ran in the direction Aru had pointed, closely followed by their pursuers.

“Poison!” Aru shouted.

“Poison?” The Zabrak asked.

“My Master loves poisons. You should give her a vial of a rare one.”

“You have terrible timing Aru”.

(Zujenia) #24

Landing Pads
Thillon Moon

The mouse droid’s parts sparked by her feet, the soft glow illuminating the guard rails separating the three infiltrating Arconans from the mining pits below. The sound of boots on grated metal drifted to their ears and Zujenia motioned for the other two to move back — slinking against the rock face behind them. Drawing on the Force and its light, she twisted and bent the shadows around them, obscuring their presence.

Two figures slowed their approach as they neared the destroyed droid. One of them, a Twi’lek like Tali, crouched to examine it, ochre hand rolling the machine over. His counterpart, a Human female dressed in a matching grey and blue uniform, spanned the surroundings with her blaster rifle raised. The trio remained motionless while their eyes tracked the weapon’s barrel arcing towards them, seemingly unaware. She was so close they could see the sweat beaded on her forehead, smell the soot and earthly dust one working in a mine obtains, and hear the controlled rhythmics of her breath. The lapel pin on her jacket lacked the three pillars of the Collective.

Temnos Excavation Security Officers.

With a quick side glance at each other as the woman turned away, Tali and Zujenia launched forward. The Twi’lek slid her purple limbs swiftly under and down the Human’s arms, ripping them from her rifle. The half-Ryn followed suit, drawing her bo-rifle’s butt in an arc at his head. He managed to duck just in time, but not quick enough for the backswing, falling prone and thick lekku twitching. Tali tucked her right leg before the guard she grabbed and used the woman’s sudden loss of balance to throw her on the ground. She punched her, knocking her out.

Kord watched as the two straightened up, chests rising with the exertion of the scuffle. He grinned slightly before pointing down the last thirty meters of catwalk to go. The hulking mass of ships in the ship yard in sight.

“Right, 'ere’s the ships— Oi! Where’s scaly?”

(Grot) #25

The three Force-users looked around in confusion, vexed by the mercenaries disappearance. Not, that is, that such a thing was unusual for Grot. The Trandoshan was quiet and short of speech, preferring to keep to himself more than anything.

"Dinnae think we were tha’ bad company, " Kord muttered in frustration.

“Vell ve don’t exactly have time to findt him,” Tali replied, “Ve needt to get to the ships.”

“And the crew,” Zujenia added softly.

The three of them ducked down suddenly, going deathly quiet as a searchlight passed over their position. None of them spoke until it was gone, and it made them ever more aware of how deeply in trouble they would be if discovered. Tali was the first to break the silence.

“Ve need to split up before those security officers ve took out are missed. Ve can cover more groundt that vay.”

“Right…,” Kord grunted. “You and Zuj make your way over to tha’ ships, I’ll see if I cannae find that barracks somewhere. Grot’s around, I’m sure he’ll take care of himself.”

They all nodded in agreement, but couldn’t shake a sense of unease that now fell over them. Grot’s disappearance was an ill omen, and splitting up was further still. None of them were superstitious, but Force users were long attuned to their emotions, and knew that feelings like these were not lightly ignored. They split ways with anxious hearts, Tali and Zujenia making their way over the the shipyard while Kord trawled around for the crew barracks.

(Magik) #26

Magik squeezed tighter and tighter as he clenched the grip of his beam. The shuttle swayed back and forth before coming to a sudden halt. The shuttle doors swung open from behind as the team made their descent to the ground. Magik dropped from the shuttle bay, landing firmly on his feet as the shuttle hovered close above. As he took a step forward, he tried to gain traction in his Dark Armor. They had been dropped off in the middle of The Liberation Front. The Collective were spread out across the grounds, but in plain sight. It was night as they began to surround the campsites. One by one the tents would be turned upside down as the Collective did not see this ahead.

Satsi led the group through the terrain as they approached the first camp site. There was motion off in the distance, but the first campsite was silent as they crept through the tents killing Collective officers one by one. As they lay snoozing in their tents, the strike team made an easy match. Without being heard their screams were muffled with beams emitting into their bodies. Quickly and quietly they cleaned up the first camp site as they regrouped unseen. The second campsite was not far off in their path. Magik gathered himself as they waited a moment, looking for an opening to strike the next site.

Satsi stood in front of the team as they discussed their next move. Peering off in the distance, the Collective looked restless as Magik watched them mutter around. Scarlett pointed out several weak points in the second campsite worth exploring. Skar nodded at Satsi as she laid out the battleplan.

(Rrogon Skar Agrona) #27

With the plan laid out for them the team broke away from one another and moved to the second camp. The Kaleesh Sith was by no means stealthy but he had picked up some tricks in his time in Shadow Gate. As he approached the edge of the camp, he slowed to a crawl as a pair of guards were passing close to him.

Taking a deep breath, he reached out into the Force and closed his invisible hands around the men’s throats. Muffled chokes soon were heard as they fell to their knees, clutching at their necks; but it was over as the pair slumped to the ground as a soft snapping sound filled the air. Glancing to the left, he saw Satsi slip into the camp near to him, using the chance given by the Kaleesh to move unseen.

They worked silently and effectively, each person taking one tent at a time and quickly killing those inside. The Sith begrudgingly did his job; he wasn’t a fan of such tactics but knew they had their place in the battlefield. He slipped into the first tent he came across by cutting open its side with his metallic claws, the fabric making the smallest sound of protest before giving way.

Looking inside, he saw a set of three men playing paazak, lazily joking back and forth to one another. One man happened to look up and his brown eyes fell on the hulking Sith slipping into their tent.

He began to sputter and call out for help but was swiftly silenced along with the other two as the Juggernaut’s lightsaber sprung to life, its humming blade cleaving into the trio and ending their miserable lives in one stroke.

Falling glass caught his attention, the masked face whipping around to see a fourth man sprinting from the tent, a smashed bottle lying on the ground. The Sith cursed to himself then ran after him, opening his commlink to the rest of his team.

“Possible compromise, prepare to go loud,” he hissed, pulling into himself to move faster to catch the man, but the damage was done as he began to yell about intruders in the camp.

Well, nothing to it now, he thought, pulling out the slugthrower on his hip and placing a bullet in the back of the man’s head for his intrusion. The shot rang out in the night as clear as a bell tolling the beginning of war.

“This is Skar, time to go loud,” he said, drawing a bead on the closing men around him

(Scarlett) #28

“About frakking time!” Scarlett barked into the comm, flinging the rifle off of her back and into her eager hands. Collective soldiers poured from the crevices of the encampment in droves, clad in segmented plates of bespeckled durasteel glinting in the faint light of the night. Sprinting into a disciplined formation, the commandos took quick position and drew their sights onto the intruder in their midst, determination gleaming in their eyes.

Before she could even react, a cascade of shots flew from the armada’s barrels, raining down over the camp with thunderous cacophony. Sizzling heat cascaded over the side of Scarlett’s neck and a ringing filled her ears as a bright red bolt of plasma fired over her shoulder into the cargo containers behind her, grazing the joint of her helmet and melting a scar into the exposed plating.

Her head pounding with the adrenaline of near death, her veins still flowing with the white hot pain of narcotic stimulants and a deep well of blood-red fury rising from within her, she let out a savage and guttural roar as she charged into the battalion, her rifle blaring as she fired into the ensemble of troops. With darkness flowing through her, the Collective were left helpless under the speed of her assault, her movements fluid like water and nearly as fast as blinking.

Crashing into the enemy closest to her, the shots from her blaster tore through the man’s torso, flash burning his organs through the melted remains of his armor. He tried to howl in agony, but found he could not make the sounds. The strength to fight flowed out of him as the liquid durasteel poured into his open wounds and his body convulsed with shock. Scarlett gripped him tight and he could feel more shots sink into his back as the woman used his still living flesh as a shield while she continued to charge and fire into the crowd.

(Rhylance) #29

The Chiss and his team mapped out their plan based on Eilen’s scans of the enemies systems. Having been dropped off near their target zone, Rhylance led the others into the tunnels with Emere and Sera handling any patrols or guards with efficiency. This was minimal casualty assignment, so the two ladies merely knocked out their opponents, or left them stunned on the ground. As he watched his subordinates work, Rhylance couldn’t help but feel a tinge of pride and respect. He chose this team for a reason, and once again his intellect proved to be superior.

Approaching their destination the team could hear the sounds of the enemy at work. The Collective scientists were enthralled with their research and the guards seemed bored, annoyed by their designation. Signalling his team, the plan went into action. A flash grenade was tossed into the cavern, blinding the Collective trash inside. The team had turned away, avoiding the effects of the explosive. Emere, Sera, and Kant Lavarr jumped into the fray, making quick work of several guards and allowing an opening for Eilen to head over to the computer terminals.

Pulling out his scalpels Rhylance calmly walked into the newly minted battlefield. His subordinates had taken the armed guards focus, what little remained after being blinded. Strolling with full confidence, he approached the scientist who thrashed on the ground, their eyes burning from the intense light. Without missing a beat, he stabbed each with his scalpel, injecting a powerful paralytic into their bloodstream.

“I am going to enjoy my time with you all. You belong to Arcona now.”

(Sera Kaern) #30

There was a flash. A detonation. A starburst of sound and light.

Sera emerged from it, trailing smoke and sparking-detonite, falling amongst the guards like a bat out of hell. The first fell swiftly, his jaw dislocated by a wide, sweeping kick, crumpling to the floor. Two more went screaming after him, clutching at twin throwing-knives protruding from their upper thighs, cutting through the hamstrings. The rest of the guards, deaf, dumb, and blind, didn’t stand much of a chance. In the seconds that followed, they were cut down like dunelopers. Luckily for them, the methods used were non-lethal…but still painful.

It suited Sera much better, that was for sure. There had been no real honor in the fight, no satisfaction. Pulling the still, gently snoring body of a guard in to rest among his shivering, groaning fellows, the zabrak gave a sigh, fingering the knives still in her belt as she began to speak. “It would really, really be better for all you guys if you just…gave me any weapons you still happened to be holding on to, alright?

A chorus of moans and groans answered her, with one distinctive voice echoing from the crowd; “Piss off, you horny-cheeka!”

The zabrak sighed, puffing out her cheeks as she scratched at her scalp. Then, she turned, and motioned to the two soldiers behind her; Rhylance and his scalpels, and Emere being…well, Emere.

“If you want, I can let them deal with you. Only if you want, though…”

The sound of blasters clattering at her feet was altogether quite satisfying. Smiling, Sera herded her little wounded ducklings into the nearest supply closet, those that were the most-fit carrying their unconscious brethren, shutting and locking the door behind her.

Now unoccupied, Sera had two options; watch Rhylance work, or visit Eilen. Considering the fact that even the prospect of the former- his knives, his stare, the ice-cold blankness that she felt from his mind- would probably give her nightmares, the zabrak chose the latter. Even if she couldn’t tell a slicer…if that was even a thing…from a com-link, or a computer, or any other piece of relatively complicated technology, she was far more comfortable around Eilen, or even Emere, then she was around the Chiss.

A part of her wished Tali was here. The other part of her wished that they could all be done quicker.

On cue, her comm-link buzzed; Lucine was calling in, the mission was rounding up, and extraction was en-route. All things that the young tribal had never really thought she would hear, but it was simple enough to interpret.

“Hey Rhy! Everyone else is wrapping up, so finish whatever sick-crap you’re doing and let’s go!”

(Tali Sroka) #31

“I… I shouldn’t have left him,” Zujenia muttered to herself, casting a longing glance in the direction she sensed Kordath to be in. Tali could sense the statement held precedent.

“He’ll be fine.” She tried to sound encouraging. “Besides, Grot’s still out there.”

“That’s what I’m worried about,” the Half-Ryn retorted with a hint of bitterness. The Trandoshan’s loyalties were almost always in question, though that came with being a true mercenary; and a cold-blooded one at that.

“Ve can’t turn back now, Zuji. Ve have to finish the mission.” Tali had to pause upon speaking the words. Had she just put the mission ahead of people? Well, ahead of Kordath, but still.

Zuji sighed and nodded. “Yea-yea, the mission comes first…” she muttered as the pair dodged another sweeping searchlight beam.

The way over to the shuttles was clear except for a pair of perimeter guards and the watchtowers above. The guards would be easily dealt with, but the towers were a problem. Up close, they could spy heavy E-Webs mounted on each of the four towers and the barracks were close by, probably housing a whole platoon of zealots or worse. Neither of the two Arconans particularly liked those odds.

“Ideas?” Tali asked as they crouched behind a small stack of cargo crates.

The Half-Ryn ran the back of a digit along her jaw and nodded. “I don’t think we can sneak in without making a ruckus.”

“Vell that’s helpful…”

“So maybe, we’d be better off sneaking in while making a ruckus.”

The Twi’lek blinked, twice.

“See those barrels over there?” Zuji pointed at a stack of cylindrical containers cordoned off from the rest of the cargo by a flimsy chain link fence. “Ten creds say whatever’s in them is either flammable, explosive or corrosive.”

“I guess it couldt be the Collective is afraidt of vater, vhat vith all the cybernetics…” Tali muttered under her breath, receiving only a peeved glance for her efforts.

Zujenia lined up her Bo-rifle with the barrels and slowed her breathing. The weapon spat a single bolt that seared a bright trail on her retinas against the pitch black of night. In the next moment, it struck the stacked barrels and the world was bathed in flame.

BOOOOM!

The entire section of the platform vanished in a mushrooming fireball that blew out the closest watchtower as it went, the guards staring on in horrified disbelief as whatever volatile chemical the drums had stored began burning through the supports.

“Well, I guess it was all three,” Zuji coughed and patted Tali on the shoulder. “We got our distraction, let’s go!”

The pair ran onto the firelit shuttle pads, ducking in beneath a lander’s stubby wings as, predictably, the barracks doors opened and a squad of cyborg infantry rushed out. Warning klaxons wailing overhead, the base was in full fire alarm and yet it seemed nobody was even fully aware they were under attack. The two Arconans would soon fix that.

“Ready?” Tali asked, Zujenia replying with a nod.

The Twi’lek lit her saber, causing the Half-Ryn to recoil in reflexive fear, and thrust it up into the belly of the shuttlecraft they were hiding behind. The weapon bit through the plating with ease and sliced through bundles of cabling on the inside. Once inside, Tali reversed her grip and slashed her saber along the ship’s length, drawing an irregular and hard-to-weld gash in its side, stopping only a few Force-warned centimeters from a fuel line that would have seen the entire shuttle attempt to mimic the chemical fire from before.

“Goodt enough,” she decided, watching Zujenia already move along towards the next ship in line. Her vibroknife ruptured a couple of refueling lines and a backhand slash vented the hydraulics from the ship’s landing gear. As the shuttle sank down on its belly, the Half-Ryn continued on, letting Tali do the honors of ignition.

A blaster round from her DL-44 sent the second shuttle ablaze and almost singed the white-haired woman’s luscious locks in the process. Now finally realizing the full nature of their peril, the Collective forces turned around and opened fire. Precisely what the two Jedi had wanted.

Indiscriminate blaster bolts punched at the shuttles Zuji and Tali were covering behind, the latter deflecting as many shots as she could into the cockpits of the remaining shuttles while the former kept ducking and weaving a path around the others. The cyborgs kept pumping round after round at their elusive targets – and mowing down their own transports while doing so.

“Tali to Kordath, shuttles almost dealt vith. Time to go!” the Twi’lek shouted into her comms as she backed away from a furious staccato of crimson blaster bolts. Reaching out with the Force to grab a firm hold of a storage crate, she hurled it in the general direction of her enemies. The weight of fire lessened, at least for now.

“Well done, lass. Tha’ barracks about ta blow. Our ride should be comin’ in any moment now. Prepare ta jump off, I’ll meet ya on tha’ ship.”

In the distance, even over the chaos of their immediate surroundings, both women could sense the approaching Bleusmobile. Whatever Kordath had planned for his own exit, their time had just run up. Leaping off the platform even as the XS-800 dived beneath them, the Half-Ryn and Twi’lek landed atop the freighter and slipped inside the roof hatch while the confused and disoriented Collective troopers tried to decide whether to fight the fleeing Arconans, or the raging fire about to conflagrate the entire platform.

“That vas hairy…” Tali muttered, once safely inside their ship. She had taken a few glancing hits, but nothing her armor couldn’t handle. Well, armor and a great helping of Force assisted pain control. “Speaking of, vhere’s…?”

“KORDATH!” Zujenia screamed in panic as she realized he was not aboard. The next moment, a series of explosions tore through the barracks…

(Grot) #32

Kordath moved swiftly over the catwalks, dropping down to the crew barracks adjacent to the landing pad. As he stalked through the shadows towards the entrance, he felt a dull rumbling in his gut. Definitely not good.

He opened the door cautiously, and the smell of fresh blood and viscera instantly assaulted his nostrils. Breathing shallowly, he inched his way inside, taking in the hellish scene within.

Corpses were strewn all over this section of the barracks, falling out of their beds or simply limp beneath the sheets. Slaughtered in their sleep, some had woken up in time and futilely attempted to run or fight back. They still laid in expressions of panic and fin on the floor, half dressed and with improvised weapons in the hands.

A loud, deafening crack drew Kordath’s attention suddenly, and he ducked behind one of the bunk beds and drew his weapon. A dark hulking figure trudged out, coated in blood with a smoking pistol in one hand. He raised his head, pausing for a moment.

“No need to hide, Consul, I heard you walk in.”

“Karking hell, Grot, been busy?”

“Just… cleaning up.”

A loud explosion seemed to punctuate his sentence, coming from the landing pads. Bright orange light shimmered through the barracks windows for a moment, illuminating the gruesome scene.

“Kark!” Kordath swore as he turned towards the window. “Tha’ must be Zuj and Tali. You got this place set to blow yet?”

“It is,” Grot hissed, his voice odd and ominous.

Kord gave the Trandoshan an odd look, the feeling in his gut still gnawing away at him. There was an odd, sickening malice lingering around the mercenary, and he felt distinctly uncomfortable with his tone of voice. Slowly letting down his weapon, his communicator crackled to life with Tali’s voice and the sounds of combat.

"Tali to Kordath, shuttles almost dealt vith. Time to go!”

“Well done, lass. Tha’ barracks about ta blow. Our ride should be comin’ in any moment now. Prepare ta jump off, I’ll meet ya on tha’ ship.”

Switching off his communicator, Kord turned to leave, trusting Grot to follow. A sudden, sickening, icy pain in his gut warned him to impending danger, and he ducked low expecting a survivor from Grot’s rampage, but with sickening fear and burning pain, he saw only the mercenary standing there, his pistols smoking.

He’d managed to deflect a few by pure muscle memory, his knife sparking as the slugs sparked and shattered upon it, the shrapnel shredding his clothes, but still more got through his guard, ripping through his torso with unerring aim.

Kordath gasped, teetering over in pain, and fell to the ground, his blood mingling with the slaughtered crewmen.

(Alara Deathbane) #33

Security Checkpoint Outskirts

“Boy, do I love giving a good brandishing in the evening!” Alara giggled gleefully. The crazy Sephi made the battlefield her dance floor; each sway of her lightsaber was performed gracefully and elegantly as if choreographed months in advance. With another deerlike leap, she thrust her saber through the heart of a cloned huntress and took another pivot to shove her second saber into the heart of another.

“Artemis, my dear, how’s it going over there?” she called to her pet.

The tusked cat poked her head up over a chunk of boulder and revealed her blood-stained countenance chewing on a severed huntress arm. She purred at her owner in response and pounced back on the prey to finish her job. A horrific scream chortled into liquid flowing as the tusks of the feline sunk deep into the neck of her victim.

“Wonderful, Artemis. Keep it up!” Alara smiled, turned, and made a rolling bound toward another target. This one gave her more trouble though, and tried shooting her where she ran.

“I’ll show you for trying to fight back, darling,” Alara retorted playfully. With a wink of her eye, lightning pulsed through her body and shot at the guard’s weapon, frying him and the blaster in their place.

“Heads up, Blondie!” Satsi called and chucked a pair of explosives in the middle of the battle’s scene. Alara quickly whistled a warning to Artemis, clicked off her sabers, and launched herself from one tree to another to miss the impact of the blast.

(Lucine Vasano) #34

Lucine Vasano
Outside of the security checkpoint

“Well, that seemed to go well. Good job, darlings!” Lucine said as they passed through the blast doors of the security checkpoint. Before the doors could close behind them, an ear-splitting alarm began to sound from within the checkpoint itself.

“And just in time, too. It sounds like Karran and Aru will be here soon with some company,” Aldaric said. As he spoke, a Zabrak, a Human and a droid materialized from the forest, with three huntresses in hot pursuit.

“Is that all they got?” Alaisy asked, shielding her eyes as she studied the rapidly approaching group.

As if summoned by her words, nine more huntresses emerged from the treeline, piloting speeder bikes.

“Ah, more of them. Well, I suppose it would be too much to ask for this to be easy,” Lucine said as she pinched the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger. She heaved a sigh, before pulling a lightsaber from the folds of her dress. “Come along, darlings. Those two will be overrun if we do not intervene.”

They began to close the distance at a sprint. As they moved, Alaisy took her own lightsaber in one hand and her electro-whip in the other. As Aldaric drew his own lightsaber, he risked a glance behind him, in time to see armed guards spill out of the checkpoint. Atop the wall of the main building, a laser turret whirred into position, aimed toward Aru, Karran and the huntresses. “Hey! Get down!” he shouted, waving his arm toward his approaching allies.

Aru and Karran did not need to be told twice. They dropped into the dirt just as the laser turret opened fire. Deadly bolts lanced toward them, arcing over their head and strafing over the rapidly approaching line of huntresses on the speeder bikes. Many of them exploded with a deafening boom, sending their riders flying. Some were in multiple pieces.

The huntresses on foot were surprised by Karran and Aru’s sudden stop. They skidded to a stop, only to find themselves pinned between two groups of armed Force users.

Alaisy’s wicked grin was obscured by her helmet as she drew upon the dark side of the Force, stretching icy tendrils of darkness toward two of the huntresses, who were at that moment raising their bows and taking aim. As the seconds passed, the tendrils stoked the primal fear that lurked within the minds of all sentient creatures, bringing it to the fore and making it impossible to ignore. The huntresses hesitated, their aim wavering as terror gripped their hearts. It was just the hesitation that they needed. Karran leapt to his feet and activated his crimson lightsaber, plunging it into the chest of one, while Aldaric’s own blade cut the other huntress from collar bone to hip.

A short distance away, three more huntresses had gotten unsteadily to their feet and had drawn their bows. They loosed bolts of energy toward them, but they fell short, as if they were aiming at something that was not there. Lucine stretched her hand toward the huntresses, manipulating the illusion that she had created to make them think that the group was clustered closer than they actually were.

“Well, darlings? Get them!” she said.

“Go, apprentice! As we practiced!” Alaisy said as she extended her hand, placing a cloud of blackness over Aru. He rushed forward, extending his senses to feel the presence of the three huntresses despite the darkness that obscured his vision. His fell upon them in the dark. His yellow lightsaber lanced through one, but the other two heard him coming. They jumped back out of the darkness, only to be overcome by tendrils of crimson Force energy that shot forth from Aldaric’s hand. They screamed in agony as the energy arced through them, before collapsing into the dirt.

The Force users looked around, awaiting the next challenge. But the huntresses had all been dispatched. They stood in the center of the carnage, surrounded by the broken bodies of the Shikari Moments later, they were swarmed by Severian Principate guards, who busily went to work making sure that the huntresses did not get up again.

Aldaric sidled up next to Lucine. “Well, it looks like the Captain was true to his word,” he said in an undertone…

“Indeed,” the redhead murmured. She drew her communicator from her belt and stepped a bit away from the crowd while she hailed Kordath, Satsi and Rhylance via a secure channel. “Sloth, Scarface, Blue boy, this is Barista. The Principate forces are now on our side. Do try to avoid killing them. We will be enroute to the rendezvous site shortly."

(Satsi Tameike Arconae) #35

The small, metallic cylinders of two grenades hardly made any noise amidst all the shouting going on. Two little plink-plinks went unnoticed under blasterfire and barking orders.

The pale, ghostly smoke that started spewing from the containers, however, did not.

The clouds of gas rose in violent plumes, rolling forward and encroaching rapidly and steadily on the encampments and nearby platforms. Some of the soldiers screamed out as they watched others swallowed up.

“DIOXIS! DIOXIS GAS!” wailed a soldier in warning, his shout choking off as the poison permeated his lungs and drowned in his own blood. The various campfires and stationary lights made little ghastly, glowing pits in the greenish mist. Distantly, on the western end of the area, where the regular barracks were for the local troops, an explosion went off, rocking the ground and vibrating teeth in their gums. The bright flash of fire and smoke was further blinding, but served to illuminate the whole of the gas cloud; it was, in actuality, fairly small, only looking so threatening for its sinister nature.

As the various Collective troops looked on, five figures emerged from the miasma, trailing tendrils of vaporous death, each of them masked and armed with wicked blades of plasma humming in their grasps. A sixth form prowled alongside them, a massive animal with claws and teeth. Their shadows cast long and looming by the glare of the conflagration roaring far behind them.

It was a waking nightmare.

Behind the visor of her sealed helmet, Lucine’s soft voice sounded through Satsi’s embedded comms. “The Principate forces are now on our side. Do try to avoid killing them.”

“No promises,” she whispered, adrenaline drumming through her veins as she watched the enemy zealots regroup and start lining up shots. Certainly, she wasn’t about to let her team go murdering the civvies, but the moment they’d touched down, it had been a risk there would be collateral damage they couldn’t identify as friendlies before it was too late.

The zealots opened fire, and Satsi managed to only half-flinch, not moving to duck or dodge. Instead, she let the Sith flanking her block or deflect the shots with their lightsabers, far, far more able than she could ever dream of being. The point here was as much scare tactic as destruction. Anything that bought the other teams the time they needed and generally unnerved their enemies.

It seemed to work, but only for a couple of seconds of hesitation on the zealots’ part as their first salvo was turned away. They were all trained to combat Force-Users, unfortunately, and so they only took a few heartbeats to do the smart thing and open fire again, this time with less control and more an aim to overwhelm with sheer force.

“Frak!” Satsi barked, and then the strike team did break formation, dodging with supernatural reflex or creating invisible barriers or whatever else. The mercenary herself could only tuck and roll, feeling the heat of melted platisteel when shots streaked her armor. She was going to lose strips of skin when she disrobed, but she was alive, so she kept moving. The woman vaulted back to her feet and charged right for the nearest cluster of soldiers, who shouted and shot as she barreled into them like a battering ram and generally threw off their aim by way of making all their limbs busy tangling with hers or each others’. It was all the opportunity her group of Force-touched, Shadow-blessed killers needed because moments later there was lightning flying and flashes of spinning laser swords and several whole groups of enemy men and women shoved by invisible force hard enough to snap necks.

A clawed metal hand found its way into her field of vision as she pulled her Inquisitorious knife out of the unarmored gap between the junction of a soldier’s neck and shoulder plates. She took it, grinning at Skar even though the Kaleesh wouldn’t see her face. Her acid brown eyes darted around, checking as the rest of the team fell in, watching the explosion’s aftermath across the compound and campgrounds, spotting more and more soldiers and workers starting to erupt from the buildings like kiliks from a kicked hive. There were a lot of them. It was going to get dicey soon. If they kept at it, more of those bodies dropping would probably be the miners or the Principate militiamen than the Liberation Front. And they’d probably get stopped and trapped inside the compound proper.

“Form up and fall back,” Satsi said loudly, both for their comms and for their ears. “They’ve had to have had enough time by now and we’re not going to be able to press any further than this. Back to the ship.”

One by one, Scarlett, Alara, Skar, and Magik all nodded. The tusk-cat just licked the blood off its jowls.

Satsi’s eyes flicked over her shoulder one more time, and she debated briefly, not wanting to be shot down from behind as they fled. Slowly, a smirk spread her lips, and she unbuckled her weapons belt.

“Hey, Skarbles,” she started casually. “How far do you think you can throw this with your mind?”

The Kaleesh eyed the dangling object.

“Far,” he answered shortly.

“Well then. Let’s see what happens when these all go off at once,” she said, and activated the remaining grenades hanging there that could be activated: a thermal detonator and a sonic grenade. Maybe the flash bang, cryoban, and dentonite tape would all blow when the larger payloads did, or maybe they’d be vaporized. Really, who knew? “Aim away from the crowds. We just want a distraction.”

Her teammates, arguably as insane as she was, laughed or howled. The cyborg Kaleesh took the belt from her and, without even moving his arm, telekinetically whipped the thing through the air like a bullet from a gun.

They all turned and sprinted for the rendezvous point.

The BOOM that followed them was like sunshine and singing.

(Emere Galo) #36

The doctor had a devious smirk on his lips as he sedated the last abductee, their body nothing but dead weight. The Chiss carried the body to the hover platform, haphazardly tossing the form onto it while EIlen’s fingers moved at turbo-speed on her datapad.

“Hurry up, ferret,” Emere said callously, ready to leave this place. Surely, the Collective would have reinforcements on the way. The nervous half-Selonian nodded, holding up a finger. “Al-almost there,” she stammered. Not a breath went by before Eilen said an enthusiastic, “yes!” as she unplugged a decoder and spike from the terminal. “The data’s collected now.”

“Good,” the doctor said, followed by an order, “send me all of the data as soon as we get to the rendezvous point.”

The small company withdrew to the rendezvous point, Eilen sending Rhylance the data as fast as her fingers could move. The half-Bothan hoped the information provided would be useful against the fight with the Collective.

Once everyone made it to the rendezvous, Rhylance delivered a new set of specific orders to Emere. “Being that you are one of our best interrogators, you will be charged with obtaining information from the subjects once they are awake. Make sure they are alive and unharmed. They could provide leverage for our enemy and if not leverage…” he paused, his glasses reflecting light for a moment before his red eyes were visible. “They would make useful and excellent test subjects.”

So he gets the satisfaction of torturing them for his sick experiments? she thought, though wisely remained silent as she nodded and offered her superior a crisp salute.

(Kordath Bleu) #37

Kordath lay on the flight crew barracks floor, blood seeping from the slug wounds in his chest, gasping. It shouldn’t have been a surprise; the Trandoshan had never been particularly discerning about where his credits came from. The merc had made it clear that his loyalties lay with his paycheck, and that came not from Kordath, but the Clan. It shouldn’t have been a surprise.

Didn’t mean it didn’t hurt like hell.

“Ow,” he managed, fighting to stay conscious. His vision was fading, his mind wandering away from the pain. Twin sets of golden eyes, similar but different filled his thoughts, and he felt despair. One set was full of wonder and confusion, an ever present smile in them. The other…turmoil, affection, distrust, love, fear, hope. Even bleeding out it made his heart hurt, thinking about what he’d done to cause those conflicts.

Shay…Zuj…frack me! I’m so sorry, luvs, I’ll do me best not ta— he thought.

Then everything exploded.


“Unfortunately the explosions at the landing pads drew additional security, which the Shadow Lord fell to,” finished the rasping Trandoshan. Grot stood impassively, looking between the various Summitters standing before him.

“No,” whispered Tali, gritting her teeth, “ve were too hasty.”

Zujenia had looked gut punched ever since she got back on the ship, growing pale and withdrawn. Pain was rippling through the Force, from a source she knew as well as herself. A sudden sense of loss, and a gnawing question of how to tell their daughter what happened to her father. As Grot finished his report, she stood and stomped towards him.

“He’s not dead,” snarled the hybrid-Ryn, glaring at the Trandoshan. Zujenia’s eyes were watering, but her gaze was fierce. “I can still feel him, he’s hurt but he’s alive! We have to go back for him.”

“We cannot,” stated Lucine, standing to the side of the angry Rollmaster. “The Collective are likely sending down additional forces now that the locals are fighting back. We do not have time to recover the Shadow Lord. He knew the risks the same as the rest of us.”

“Perhaps the Principate and mining personnel will find him first and provide aid,” suggested Rhylance, his tone neutral.

Zujenia rounded on the Chiss, her jaw clenched. A tanned, bloody-knuckled hand landed on her shoulder and pulled her back, Satsi tugging the half-Ryn to her and enfolding her in her arms.

“He’ll be fine,” she whispered in the woman’s ear, hugging her fiercely. “He’ll be okay, Zuji, he’ll be okay. Won’t frakking let him not be. We’ll come back. You and me if we have to.”

Stepping away from the drama, Rhylance turned to Lucine, a slight quirk to his lips.

“All objectives seem to have been completed successfully,” he spoke to the redhead.

She gave him a searching look, eyes narrowed.

“The data was recovered, as were several Collective scientists,” the Proconsul gestured at several bound figures lying on the deck. “The Ryn’s team destroyed most, if not all, of their transports, and I assume Tameike’s wandering band of brawlers did their part.”

“And yet we’re leaving the Consul behind,” stated Lucine, in a manner that was neither quite statement nor question. “Part of my duties are identifying threats to the Shadow Lord. If something has happened to him, it is quite possible I’ll be held accountable, and I do not do failure, darling.”

“Well, as Grot said, security forces shot him down. It is unfortunate, but we have far too many Shadesworn aboard this lightly armed and armored vessel to risk them all for one person. Even the Shadow Lord.”

Rhylance’s glowing red eyes stared into the Quaestor’s, unblinking and steady, making it clear he wasn’t going to deviate from his path.

The ship shuddered as it ascended, up through the atmosphere, the hold quiet for the sound of Satsi and Zujenia murmuring to one another, and the sound of Tali punching the deck.

“Another successful mission,” murmured Aldaric, shaking his head.


“Found an odd one,” came a voice, shifting rubble in the flight crew barracks. “Slug-shot wound, contusions from fallen debris probably.”

“Don’t remember any Ryn on the Collective flight crews?”

"Well he isn’t dressed like any of them either. I’m sure Hauman will want to have him searched and such whenever things calm down. Load it on a stretcher with the wounded.”