[GJWXIII] Naga Sadow Run On

(Tasha'Vel Versea) #16

Mouth of the Ruins
Lyra Colony

Tasha’Vel followed alongside the group as they entered into the ruin’s huge cavern maw. As they passed inside, there were some broken down pillars littering the ground. Inside was a bit dark, and one could feel a cold chill run down their spine. Etah shed some light into the darkness as the group delved deeper into the cavern. It was so quiet you could hear everyone’s footsteps as they moved.

“I never liked a lot of quiet, makes me think anything could attack.” Tasha’Vel remarked, breaking the silence.

“Well, if you need any support, I will be right here,” Xuner replied as he walked beside the Rollmaster. “I kind of have to be here, anyway, to follow the Consul. We can’t have him die, can we?”

A small choked laugh came from the Consul as he shook his head slightly. “It appears I am in good company.” He then looked towards Etah.

“Do we have any lifesigns picking up?”

Etah shook his head. “Nothing yet, I’m afraid.”

Tasha’Vel frowned a bit. She still hoped to find Ciara and Sanguinius. Both of them were important and needed to be rescued. “My only hope is that we can find them both alive.” She thought to herself.

She thought of the times Sanguinius had mentored her when she was his Aedile and smiled at some of the pleasant memories she had with him. “Hang in there, we are coming for you.”

Suddenly, the scanner Etah had began to beep. “Hey, it has picked up something that is about fifty meters away.”

“Well, it’s a start.” Hades replied.

“Indeed, it is. Let’s just hope whatever it is will be friendly.”

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(Hilgrif) #17

Favus one came into orbit hilgrif thought to himself why he had to come here he would have preferred going over more records proving the iron army innocent but no his master had to find out he was missing all the so called fun and order him to the planet Hilgrif gave a quick shake of his hed to get back on track and order his droid pilot to land Favus one his personal GX1 Civilian Short Hauler to land while it landed he did a quick scan of the objective list that shroud of the hive sent of what the other ground teams where doing one group was looking to find an artifact

And the rest was searching to find 2 missing agents Sang and Ciara. After a quick glance at the list hilgrif looked at the list of active specialists he did a quick calculation in his head and decided it was too much of a hazard for his green Carapace to go in there then after a quick thought hilgrif click a few buttons on his hole pad to summon ID10 “Special Forces” Seeker Droid from the droid dock inside the ship. Hilgrif connected its video feed into his holopad then sent it out to mark all exits and any traps it could find and any good spots to bring ships to land as he had a feeling they would be coming out fast when they were done with the mission. Hilgrif then turned to his console on the ship as he attempted to access his enemy’s comms. Knowing where they are and what they’re doing would make his work easier.

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(Bentre Kairn'tel Sadow) #18

Fifty meters is not that far to go, is it?

The Corellian chewed over the thought as he walked right behind Etah. The man had a notable bit of height on him, so he could only look into the man’s back if he looked forward. This was more than just a small annoyance to the Sadowan Consul, who liked to look over people as much as possible. It was not just a thing of ego though. He could not look past the man easily, which made him feel uneasy. He wanted to get a better look at his surroundings.

“Do you ever think that things get a little too quiet?” Bentre tried to look past Etah and Hades in a vain attempt to get a better look into the depths of the cavern. Both of the other men were taller than the Consul, so it made the task a little harder. He tried to crane his head sideways a bit to look between the two in a vain attempt to peer through the inky darkness. It was a pointless exercise, but he was starting to get a bit antsy. “I mean, isn’t that the way it always happens in the holovids? There is a brief calm before the storm?” His tone was surprisingly carefree. “There is that small moment where the hero or heroine catches their breath? And then everything just goes to-”

Hades looked back sideways for a moment, his eyes narrowing at the Consul as he walked. “We do not have time for this sort of philosophizing.” He spoke the last word with a note of disgust.

The commlink buzzed, prompting a deep groan from Stahoes. “And there it is. Right on time.” Shaking his head, Bentre clicked a button on the face of the device.

“This is Hilgrif and the Hive.” The voice of the Consul’s former student piping through the device was a welcome surprise. “The Hive is picking up a number of communications from sources outside of the Clan. Local civilian channels seem to be hinting of a large movement of personnel and equipment in the direction of the caverns and the ruins.”

“Kriff.” The single curse came from Etah, who was glaring back at the commlink clutched in the Consul’s hand. This single word seemed to act to energize both of the taller Sith as they darted down a passageway and picked up their pace. Bentre attempted to bolt after the two while bringing the commlink up to his face. This proved to be distracting, and Tasha’Vel was already gaining more ground than he was. Xuner still followed behind his Consul, ever the loyal Black Guard.

“Do we have any sort of an expected time of arrival on those new guests?” The Corellian tried to add a note of levity to his words he did not feel. There was a silence that followed, punctuated by the echoing of boots and shoes upon the cavern floor.

“Running some numbers, the best guess of the Hive is that you will have potential hostiles penetrating the caves within five minutes. Local authorities are clearing the way for personnel, so it may be even sooner.”

A strangled cry pulled Bentre’s attention away from the commlink. He dropped his arm to his side and began sprinting into the direction where Tasha’Vel had disappeared down into the further depths of the caverns. The Corellian did not have very far to run. Within moments, he was turning around a twist in the cavern and his eyes rested on his companions.

Tasha’Vel was glaring at several humans adorned in military equipment. The group was standing over a number of civilians. The Rollmaster’s lekku were twitching in irritation. Hades and Etah both had hands on weapons, ready to draw. The humans in military uniforms and armor were standing over a trio of humanoids in distinctly non-military uniforms. One soldier, a man with closely-cropped blonde hair, had an old E-11 blaster pointed at the unarmed captives.

One of the armed humans, tall enough to stand equal to Hades, had already hefted own her blaster rifle in expectation of a fight. “Identify yourselves now! This is a protected area, restricted to Indigo-Bantha-Midnight level and higher.”

Etah’s lightsaber was now in hand. His stance made his intentions quite clear, but the weapon was not yet ignited. Hades stood more stiffly, with his lightsaber hilt being held in a clenched fist at his side. “By whose orders are you currently operating?” His voice was remarkably flat, with a mixture of irritation and authority in his words.

“We serve the Iron Throne!” The woman’s cry echoed in the cavern. “That is the only authority we need. The orders of the Brotherhood are all we require.”

This declaration seemed to create a ripple of fear among the civilians. One of them drew themselves up, standing nearly nose to nose with the soldier who was covering the prisoners. “What have we done?”

“You have been found guilty of standing against the Brotherhood.” The tall female turned, her brown eyes flashing dangerously as she glared at the prisoners. “ As such, we will be executing your sentence! For the Brotherhood!”

“You are not Brotherhood!” The words exploded from Etah as his lightsaber ignited with a crack-hiss of crimson light. It was as though a dam had been broken. Within a heartbeat, Hades had darted forward, his own red saber activated and in motion. Tasha’Vel was a flash of sapphire lekku as she stepped forward. With his lightsabers still clipped to the side of his own armor, Bentre focused on the man who still held his position against the captives, drawing on his own rage to launch a blue-white fork of energy into the soldier’s back. Xuner had thrown up a barrier to protect his Overlord. He now stood ready.

Within a fleeting moment, the fake-Brotherhood members lay dead. Stahoes sighed, looking up at the prisoners. “Just give me a moment to explain. This isn’t what it looks like, I swear.”

(Muz Ashen Keibatsu) #19

Bay
ADS Fallen Spear
Lyra-3K-a system

The hologram flickered, breaking apart as it struggled to escape the miles of stone and earth beneath them. “…Cut off…” The image flickered between Bentre and Hades, as both of them tried to get the message up to them. “…Temple…” Muz leaned forward, eyes scanning the entry to the cave system through the distortion of the airlock. True enough, he could see a number of transports landing, vomiting enemies into the facility.

Leena?” He swung his head, scanning the rocks, beyond the prefabricated bases and used up mineshafts. The Twi’lek looked up from her datapad.

“Scan is done.” She murmured, glancing back down for a moment. “Not as clean as I would like, but the sonar sensors aren’t terribly accurate from where we are.” She cleared her throat, one of her lekku twitching nervously as the other trembled. “I think I can get a lock on their transmissions though, if they can keep broadcasting…”

Muz nodded, stepping closer to the edge of the bay. Ashia blinked twice, stepping right behind her husband. “It would probably be easier without the cloaks engaged, I imagine?” She looked to the techweaver for confirmation.

“Considerably.” Muz nodded once, and she opened up her own comm. “Blackwind, let them know we are here.”

They had all gotten used to the sound by now, the deep bass throb of the stygians acting almost in chorus with the ship’s power plant. As the power cut, the sound shifted, a faint glimmer in the air shifting hard once.

“Sxch repeat, extraction or reinforcement requested. Expecting heavy casualties, coordinates sending via wave.” Hades’ voice cleared up almost instantly, the words not matching up with the facial movements of Bentre’s conflicting transmission. Muz turned back to his apprentice, the techweaver nodding.

“I can’t see another exit. But the coords sync up with the scans…” She tilted her head. “It looks like the ruins on Stheno…”

“The Ordu Aspectu?” Ashia turned back to look out of the bay, the ship drifting over the planet. She could feel Kojiro’s discomfort at the memory of that place. He grumbled under his breath, snapping his fingers to call his Tuk’ata to his side.

“We have a vector.” Blackwind’s voice chirped through Leena’s comm. “Are we going for a dynamic?”

Ashia smiled. “I do love making an entrance. Blackwind, go for it.”

“They’re playing our song.” Muz let the words slip from his tongue. A moment later, the vibration of launching concussion missiles shook their bones and rattled their teeth.

Ordu Aspectu Ruins
Lyra Colony

“Do we even know where he is?” Etah snarled. “Or if he’ll even show up?” He had a point. While they were down in the caves, spilling sweat and blood, they hadn’t seen or heard anything of what the Grand Master’s plans were. They were intentionally inscrutable, and it annoyed him to no end.

“I’d say have a little faith, but…” Hades chuckled at him, hearing the echoes filter up through the caverns ahead of them, portents of more battle reaching their ears.

“He’s already on his way.” Bentre let the smile curl the corner of his mouth. He raised his saber, pointing at the entrance, the sound of chaos getting closer and louder. “But until then…”

They erupted from the opening, saber blades flashing as they dove into the clearing, the fusillade of blaster fire chasing them into the temple ruins. Bentre, Hades, Etah and Tasha reacted as by rote, their blades catching the bolts and sending them back, the bolts tearing into the walls or the soldiers that fired them, eyes recognizing the symbols on their kits.

“Macron?” Bentre shouted over the din, eyes widening at the unmistakable armor as it stood up. “Where are the rest of…”

Macron chortled through the vocoder as he spun, his blade tearing through another soldier. “Divide and conquer…” He watched the soldier die briefly before moving on to the next target. “Looks like we’ll get to die together after all.”

And then the world shook.

Dust flew from centuries old stones, the sound of cracking rock snaring behind the heavy sound that shook their chests. It was only a moment, but it was enough. They rolled to their feet, beginning to draw a line of corpses to the entrance of the chamber.

“What the frell was that?”

The thunk of falling stone turned them on their heels as an opening exposed itself, tiny fragments of kyber shining as the Lion stepped forward. “The cavalry, that’s who.” Ashia smiled as her sabers spilled into the ruins, Kojiro behind her. “Need a little help, I hear?”

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(Ciara Tearnan Rothwell Tarentae) #20

Temple Altar
Ordu Aspectu Ruins
Lyra Colony

Ciara watched meditatively as a drop of blood dripped from her lip and splattered against the pure, white stone to join the rivulet that already coursed over the altar’s lip to collect in the basin at the feet of some towering, age-cracked statue.

“It is ironic, Sanguinius, that the two of us should end up here – our blood mingled on an ancient Jedi altar.” In truth, the Tarentae could not begin to fathom how she had found herself bound back-to-back with a Sentinel who counted himself among the Clan of Sadow, but she was enjoying philosophizing with her fellow academic, nonetheless. “I’m certain you know the history of the Ordu Aspectu?”

“I do, actually,” the Augur sighed. He knew where the Krath was going. “They were pacifist Jedi who sought to find a way to prolong life – for all. Their intentions were pure, but it isn’t our place to interfere with the natural order.”

“That’s amazing!”

“Every word of what you just said was wrong,” Sanguinius finished the thought for her in a mocking tone, though he couldn’t help but chuckle. “I’m sure you think so.”

Ciara smiled. At least the Sentinel had a sense of humor, misguided as it was.

“I do think so, and, if you were honest, you would agree,” the Warlord continued. “Do you honestly believe these people were so selfless that they wanted this gift for the greater good alone? That their intentions were wholly pure? And don’t even get me started on our ‘place’ in the natural order.”

“Then what is it that you believe?”

“I believe the rest of the story proves the truth of things.” Emerald eyes traced the various wires and fuses around her body before glancing out at the growing rumblings from the rest of the temple ruins. “Sensing their corruption, your Jedi Order tried to stop them, but they were too close. They couldn’t just let that kind of power slip through their fingers, and they knew what we all know. Sacrifices must be made. Life comes at the cost of life.”

Sanguinius could feel his ire growing. There it was again, that ridiculous idea that death and darkness were the only gateways to life and power.

“That is a rumor! It never happened.”

“Ah, so you do know the story.” A cruel chuckle proceeded from crimson-slicked lips. “Of course it happened. Your so-called altruists sacrificed Jedi padawans on an altar not unlike this one - whether for their own good, or the greater good, they knew it was their only chance at immortality, and they took it in blood. Why do you think everyone is after these artifacts?”

Sanguinius started to respond, but was cut short by an explosion in the distance that was now raining dust on their heads.

“…I think our friends are close,” Ciara glanced again at the entrance to the altar room, already littered with bodies from the evening’s earlier festivities.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Sanguinius acknowledged. “If they get too close without defusing the explosives, none of us get the shinies, and we’re all buried under here with the ghosts of the Aspectu.”

“I’m sure that’s exactly what the Collective had in mind.” A slow, knowing smirk returned to play across Ciara’s lips. “Fortunately … we got here first, didn’t we?”

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(Ashia Kagan Keibatsu ) #21

Ordu Aspectu Ruins
Lyra Colony

The Nightsister moved in swiftly, her sabers humming at her sides as she launched herself towards one of the soldiers. Amethyst light illuminated his face briefly before slicing through him. He collapsed in a heap as her momentum moved her forward to engage another.

Blaster fire continued to erupt all around. Ashia bounced on nimble feet deflecting each bolt. The Proconsul spun on her heel as another volley of bolts ricocheted off her sabers.

She looked up to see Macron making his way toward them. A cackle could be heard as he attacked another soldier and then moved on to another.

The Keibatsu saw the bolt, saw its trajectory and reacted all in the blink of an eye. She interrupted the bolt’s flight path and sent it hurtling back the way it came, only to erupt into the soldier that fired it.

Macron looked up in that instance, and then turned to look at her.

“And you thought we wouldn’t show.” A smile crept across her visage before she moved to engage the next target.

The madman chortled as he too moved back into the fray.

Blaster bolts continued to erupt all around them as they sought cover. Violet light hummed through the air as Hades’ blade roared, providing cover as some of them took shelter behind some of the fallen stone.

Bentre ran forward, slamming himself into one of them and knocking them back as his light saber reached out and exploded through their body. He staggered back a moment shaking off the effects of the collision before moving towards another.

Slowly the sounds of blasters dissipated as one by one they eliminated every last one of them. One by one the light sabers were extinguished as the group took stock of the situation.

Bentre slumped against some of the fallen debris, a wince covering his visage as he looked down at his limp arm hanging by his side like a ragdoll’s.

Doc! We need help here!” Ashia called to the Fallen Spear’s medic as she made her way over to her Consul.

Doc examined his arm, lifting it with two hands gingerly, feeling along the muscle and bone for a cause.

“Just couldn’t resist using yourself as a weapon could ya?” A slight smile creased the Proconsul’s lips.

As Bentre looked up at her and started to smile, Doc yanked hard on his dislocated arm, setting it back into place. Bentre let out a howl.

He turned toward the Nihilgenia with a scowl. “Thanks, Doc.” The words had a sarcastic tinge to them as he stood up, rubbing his arm and shaking it off.

He moved in to assess things and figure out their next move, as Doc moved off to check everyone else out.

Muz stood in the midst of the aftermath. Black eyes shone in the semi-darkness. Ashia moved to stand next to her husband. He glanced down at her, their eyes meeting in the semi-dark.

‘You feel it too.’ The thought caressed her mind like a gentle wind. She nodded. It was strong.

Bentre’s voice pierced the silence, “Has anyone heard from Ciara and Sang?”

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(Macron Goura Sadow) #22

Ordu Aspectu Ruins

Lyra Colony

“I’ve… felt them Consul,” said Macron with a frown as he hung his unlit orange lightsaber on his belt. “Lady Ashia, Grandmaster Ashen.” The Adept bowed his head. “Not far ahead. I couldn’t say exactly where though. The others are also not far ahead of us. Xolarin, DarkHawk, Malisane, and Shirai. We split up to cover more ground, and I turned back to stop a flanking attack from the rear. I stood a good chance of being able to operate efficiently alone.”

The madman stood quietly for a second and tried to catch his ragged breath. “Actually I did think you would come Ashia. I’m pleased you did. I’m getting too old for this shavit.” The Sith reached down to a hip canister and quickly drank down a vial of something nasty looking.

“Another of your drug cocktails?” asked the Nightsister as she watched Bentre flex his formerly dislocated arm. “You really ought to cut back.”

The Sith laughed openly. “If you call a protein and hexane shake drugs, sure. More like lunch really. Killing is hard work although I do love it so.” His mismatched eyes roved towards Bentre. “Now he might could use some drugs… how are you feeling Bentre?”

“Oh no, I don’t think so.” Bentre spoke up. “I’ve heard about your cocktailing. No thank you, I’d rather not mutate anytime soon.” He flexed his arm. “It’s sore but we really need to get moving.”

“Suit yourself, Consul.” Macron chuckled. “Party pooper.” The Adept slid a gauntlet down his side and casually wiped off some gore. A snap of his wrist slung clotted blood to the ground.

“You’re weakened,” observed Muz Ashen matter-of-factly as his black eyes regarded the Alchemist.

“Yes Grandmaster I am. I’ve spent an awful lot of energy down here. I can still fight but showy Force displays on my part are pretty much out.” Macron clenched his crushgaunt-clad fist. “Still, I won’t give up until we find and free our comrades. And kill the interlopers without mercy.”

“Spoken like a Sith.” The Grandmaster’s silent approval spoke for itself. Hades, Etah, Tasha’vel, Macron, Bentre, Xuner, Ashia and Kojiro stood around him in a semi-circle. “We move forward, rendezvous with the others, and then recover Ciara and Sanguinius.” It was a succinct statement. Direct and to the point- like a blade.

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(Takagari "DarkHawk" KogaRyu) #23

Lyra Ruins
Lyra Colony

The madman was good at many things, but discerning the words spoken to his heart and the ones spoken aloud was not one of them. He moved, understanding the intent behind the words, though few as they were. The Grand Master had nodded at the Alchemist, then looked in the direction of the dark passage, black eyes shining. “Forward…”

The Sadow walked with his hands clasped behind his back, “Our tunnel led here, DarkHawk took the last tunnel alone. I believe he is headed directly towards Sanguinius and Ciara right about now…” Macron said with a flatness to his tone.

“Alone…?!” the Consul exclaimed.

“Indeed…” Macron replied.

“Well, let’s not waste any time then, let’s see what he has stirred up.” Ashia said.


DarkHawk carefully maneuvered through the winding tunnels. Deliberately staying low and moving in rapid intervals. Move, stop then wait, listen and observe. The HUD display brought the darkness into a green hue within the helm, making the descension into the depths slightly less complicated. A crackle broke through over his commlink, full of static. DarkHawk could only make out a few words, “DarkHawk, Xolarin, captive…”

“Xolarin, do you copy…repeat transmission…” the Sith whispered over his commlink.

“Damn…” he thought.

“The depth of the ruins still interfering with comms” DarkHawk said to himself. Scanning the immediate area, fresh boot prints leading down the tunnel could be identified. The Battlelord knelt down and removed one of his gloves. He felt the coarse sand sift through his fingers. Normally at a level this depth the sand would be fine and cold, damp even. This was just the opposite, coarser, dry and subtly warm. “Must be getting close, a nearby energy source is emanating some sort of heat signature through here…” the Equite thought continuing to study the sand cradled in his palm.

Covering his bare hand once again, DarkHawk seized the two halves of his electro-staff from their holster. Twirling them around in his hands, the movement produced a slight hum that reverberated off the narrow passageway. Slithering around a corner, DarkHawk felt a ripple within the Force, causing his movement to pause. “Master…”

Sensing he was closing in to his Clanmates, fueled the Sith’s rage. Scenario’s bounced around the Battlelord’s head as to what he would do to his Master’s captors. He relished that thought, knowing what he was about to get himself into.

Moving further down the tunnel, it veered off to the left. The sound of muffled voices now could be heard. Hugging the edge of the wall, DarkHawk peered around the corner, a faint light and multiple shadows danced through that light. DarkHawk readied himself. He twisted the baton half staff in his left hand into a reverse grip. Covertly moving, closing the gap, voices louder, two, possibly three assailants. DarkHawk reverted back to Xolarin’s last message, the word captive kept ringing in his consciousness. Take no prisoners…Time to make the friggin doughnuts….

The closest target was within arms reach. Snatching the collar of said target, DarkHawk heaved the unwitting guard backward against the adjacent wall. Buckling from the impact, the breath exploded from the guard’s body. Immediately DarkHawk came behind with two baton strikes to the throat finishing with another to the temple. The guard fell face first to the cave floor. With more footsteps incoming, DarkHawk pulled a smoke grenade from a utility belt pouch. Releasing the pin and tossing it over his shoulder, the area quickly became engulfed in thick white smoke. The guards ran right into that veil of smoke. DarkHawk sprinted down towards the opening, where the approaching sentry was in disarray, trying to regain his bearings. The sound of quick moving footsteps caused the guard to fire aimlessly down the tunnel. DarkHawk used his momentum to scale the wall, pushing himself off and towards his target. The Sith came up with his left baton striking the blaster, the right baton caught the guard in the in the jaw. Landing to the front right of the guard, the Battlelord hooked the blaster arm with one of his cudgel’s, spinning the sentry around in the direction of the other incoming assailants. Two blaster shots flashed, accentuating the white smoke. The shots tore through the sentry and the friendly fire casualty slithered lifeless out of DarkHawk’s grip.

Immediately rolling forward, the Sith struck against the next guard’s inner knee. The blow dislocated the knee cap, buckling the leg. Reeling in pain, the man tried to scream, but another strike came around and crushed his larynx, silencing him. As the guard fell forward, DarkHawk spun around twirling his cudgel coming down with an overhand strike to the base of the neck.

Without hesitating from the last exchange, DarkHawk moved in on the remaining guard. The smoke now dissipating, the wraith moved with fluidity, almost moving in unison through the dancing vapors. The guard was unsuccessful allocating a target before his demise began. Two downward strikes to the clavicle, the bones snapped like twigs. The blaster fell, leaving the guard wide open for the Sith to do his bidding. A flurry of deep rich strikes to the solar plexus, doubled the guard over. DarkHawk tucked his cudgel’s securely under his arms, freeing up his hands. In one swift motion, the Sith snapped the guard’s neck.

“Ahh…I believe we have company” Sanguinius said with a small smile.

The Tarentae raised an eyebrow, “A mutual friend…”

“Indeed…” replied the Sadow.

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(Malisane Sadow) #24

Malisane was following Trooper Korvin along the corridor, while in front Xolarin was guiding them, stopping occasionally while he focused on the senses he was receiving. They had not as yet encountered any more of the former Iron Throne troopers. “We’re lost,” the Battelord commented.

The Aedile sighed. “I can sense the general direction they’re in, but there is no straight route.”

“I have not been in this part of the ruins before, Sir.” Korvin added.

Malisane turned suspiciously to him. The reprogrammed trooper appeared to be cowed for the time, but it was anyone’s guess what would happen if they ran into enemy forces. Memories of his studies of Order 66 kept flashing back to him. He was beginning to believe it would be better to dispose of him now.

“It ought to be this way.” Xolarin replied as they turned again. Then he stopped. “There’s a chamber ahead.”

Malisane approached up to his shoulder. “We will investigate.” He turned to Korvin. “Wait here.”

Xolarin looked around curiously. The room was dark, but they could make out the walls which were covered with rows of shelves. He walked up to them. They were mostly empty. He picked something up. “Holocron.”

Malisane turned, “Is it of any use?”

Xolarin put it back. “It is broken I am afraid. And these jars are empty.”

The Battlelord nodded. “Perhaps it was too much to expect to find anything useful this room has likely been searched before.”
“I am not sure,” Xolarin replied, “we’re pretty off the beaten track.”

Malisane turned, and then he spotted something. He crouched down. “Here.”

Xolarin crouched down beside them. The Battlelord had found a small metal box, about eighteen inches across and twelve tall. “I wonder what is inside?”

“You have a knife?”

Xolarin produced his stiletto. The Battlelord slowly worked it into the gap, then with a quick sharp movement yanked it up. There was a loud crack and then he handed the broken blade back to the Aedile. Slowly he opened the box.

Xolarin drew a breath. “Is that what I think it is?”

Malisane studied if for a few seconds then nodded. He shut the box. He paused thoughtfully and then stood. “Trooper, get in here!”

Korvin entered and stood to attention. Immediately he gasped as Malisane’s saber ignited and speared him through the chest in one sharp movement. The Battlelord deactivated the weapon and watched as the body fell to the ground.

“What the…” Xolarin began in surprise.

“Pick up the box,” Malisane told him. Xolarin did so, and stood. Malisane turned to him. “Listen to me Aedile. I am telling you this as one of those who swore to protect this Clan and it’s future no matter what. This goes to the Summit, and the Summit alone. Do you understand me?”

“I do,” Xolarin replied.

“If anyone, the Collective, the Severians, or anyone but the Consul, the Pro Consul, or Lord Ashen intercepts us you are to make for the surface as quickly as possible. Do not look back. I will give you as much time as I am able.”

Xolarin nodded. “I understand”

“Then we will go.”

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(Etah Deimos Kilij-Bloodfyre) #25

DarkHawk was focused on eliminating his target and missed the smoke grenade being tossed beside him. It went off with a bang near his leg, tossing him to the ground. The dead body that until he had met DarkHawk, been a man, slammed against the wall of the ruins behind DarkHawk. The Dakhanians face shone with sweat and his chest breathed deeply as he gasped for air.

The smoke grenade had not harmed the Quaestor, but it did disorient him, which sent him into a burst of violence. His version of a panic attack. He was so distracted, he didn’t see the body rounding the corner and coming behind him. DarkHawk was a millisecond away from pouncing up and spinning around with the intent to attack when he felt strong, reassuring and familiar hands on his shoulders.

“Easy there Top,” Etah said to his leader and friend. DarkHawk didn’t often smile but you could see his face come alive as he realized that he wasn’t alone anymore.

“I don’t remember asking for help,” the gruff fighter said with his mouth, but those who knew him could tell from his eyes that what he was really saying was that he was glad to see his former Questor and the man that had brought him to Shar Dakhan from the other side of the Clan.

Etah’s apprentices were off standing in the corner and Hades was not far from them. Tasha, was the first to turn the corner into the corridor where DarkHawk and Etah was standing, but following on her heels was Bentre, Xunar, Macron, Miss Ash, Muz and Koji. For a brief moment the Battlelord chucked inwardly at the procession their little two-man mission had become. Hades plan had grown from a small act of willful disobedience, into a nearly hilarious who’s-who stroll of Clan Naga Sadow.

Etah’s apprentices motioned toward the door, the dead man had come through, that the large party was all standing around. Etah looked at his Consul and pointed his whole hand toward it. “That’s where they are being held.”

“Why was there only one?” Hades asked no one in particular, indicating the expertly serrated body that had recently been decorated by DarkHawk.

“There was at least two,” Darkhawk informed the group. “After killing this one, someone threw a smoke bomb in my direction.”

“So he must have retreated inside,” Xuner said completing the thought.

“So what kept him from gutting DarkHawk after he fell? Why did he throw the smoke and then leave?” Etah said contributing to the discussion.

“No one move” Muz said, taking noticeable effort to keep his voice calm and even. The warning was followed immediately by the sound of shuffling feet around the cave.

Bentre shot his eyes forward and then rolled them strongly backwards. It looked to Etah as if he knew what was occurring, without having the power to intervene.

“Frack!” DarkHawk could be heard saying. His voice echoed through the silence of a frozen moment. A frozen moment that was shattered by the sonic scream of an explosion. Many people made sounds as their bodies impacted the floor and walls of the ruins and dust and smoke kicked up and obscured the vision of all.

There was an awkward moment as the individuals within the ruins, that found themselves ass over tea kettle, realized there was explosion but not exactly where it went off, how bad it was or who was injured.

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(Tasha'Vel Versea) #26

As the explosion went off, everything went dark for a moment as Tasha felt a wave throw her backwards into the wall. Tasha groaned slightly as she blinked and tried to readjust her eyes to the room. The room itself was still hazy from the smoke and rubble still settling. As her eyes slowly adjusted a bit more, she tried to get up. A sharp pain shot through her side as she rose up.

“I think I may have cracked a rib.”

Through the hazy mist, she spotted a motionless body and began to limp towards it. As she got closer, she recognized the body.

"Bentre!" She cried out as she neared the Consul. "Wake up!"

It appeared he had taken a portion of the impact. Both his arms lay severed away from his body as she saw several charred marks through his armor. Bentre was unconscious and appeared dead.

"Macron, or someone, help me, please! The Consul is unconscious and needs medical attention quickly!" The Twi’lek gently stroked his forehead as she screamed out

Anyone within the room could hear her. Ignoring her own pain, she rose again, her tears now stopping as hatred flowed through her body. She then painfully walked to the left side of the room, searching for other members. It was still hazy and hard to see anything, but she heard another sound of someone else groaning in pain. She kept moving towards the sound as she could make out someone else. It was Xuner.

“Xuner, are you all right?”

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(Xuner Holst) #27

“Daddy! Time to wake up.”

The warm words of his daughter stirred him up from his slumber. He lifted his body upright, greeted by the sight of his daughter. He returned her smile in kind as he got up from his bed. She gasped, covering her eyes with her palms before giggling.

“What is it?” He asked.

“Daddy has no shame!”

She turned away running out the room. Xuner looked to see himself bare. Having quickly covered himself he laughed at his embarrassment. He quickly dressed, choosing to remain shirtless before walking towards the kitchen. There, at the foot of the stairs, he paused. He stared at the woman that was quietly preparing food. The scent of cooked meat and spiced potatoes filled the room. Quietly, he crept up to the woman and pounced on her, wrapping his arms around her waist. He holding her tightly as he rested his head on her shoulder. Content, he held her there and smiled. She reacted by placing her hands warmly over his.

A feeling began to dawn onto him. This feeling of peace wasn’t something he had felt in a long time. As quickly as he hugged her, his hold released. He spun around and darted his eyes across his surrounding. He noticed a window; worse yet what was beyond. A river with a calm stream.

Xuner’s people had a saying for this. The Home Beyond The River. Others had known of this by a word, rather than a saying. Death.

He sprinted out of the house, bursting through the door. Across the river lay the writhing bodies of the former Grand Master Muz; his lifemate Ashia, the Proconsul remained motionless as well. The bodies of Takagari, Etah, Macron, and the others were scattered about as well.

“Wait!” A voice called out to Xuner. He turned and saw the same woman standing by the door. His daughter soon appeared, her head poking out from the mother’s side a moment later. A dull pain started to manifest. He lowered his head, placing his hand over his sternum. He was shocked to see his palm coated with a crimson coat of blood. He looked at his chest to see his sternum wound, a surgical scar from his first ‘death’ during the Reclamation. His attention snapped towards the river, the sight of a shrieking Tasha’Vel holding the ruined body of Bentre.

“Daddy, please don’t leave!” Yelled a teary-eyed daughter. He longed for peace; an end to the screaming; to the nightmares; to everything. He slowly walked back towards the house, the sounds of the Twi’lek dimming. He stood before the pair in a haunting silence.

“Tarkona!”

His mouth hung open as his eyes swelled. The silence had been broken one last time, not by the lifemate of a Human Male, but by the Matriarch of the Versea family. A small blunt of pain ached from the Versea marking that scarred his flesh-and-blood arm; Xuner’s family needed him. Gently, he placed his hand upon the woman’s shoulder. He gave her a warm smile.

“I have been called. I must answer. Always.”

The young daughter cried as he finished. He bent a knee to her.

“Daddy, please. Daddy don’t leave.” Holst placed a small kiss on her forehead.

Smiling and without another word, Xuner stood up and turned. He stood for a moment before slowly pacing towards the river. As he neared a gentle stream, pain started to slowly swell within his chest with every step. Still, he smiled as he continued. He stopped just a step away from the waters.

“For Naga Sadow. For the Versea.”

With a deep breath, he took another step and fell through the waters.

Another muffled shouting had rung through his mind, rattled by the kinetic force of the explosion. Slowly, Xuner rose up from his downed state. He winced, his body contorting sharply as a searing pain pierced his upper torso. The Sith placed his hand carefully onto the origin of his pain. The darkness that once obscured his eyes soon parted away as his abilities in the Force augmented his eyesight. What should have been the crimson colour of his blood had not coated his palm. Still, the Human male felt pain in his chest. His gaze now turned to his armour as blood began to seep from the openings. He gripped his hand tightly, concentrating as the Dark Side coursed through his body creeping towards his wound. His skill in Force Healing allowed him to maintain concentration without much effort, a skill he knew would’ve been needed for this moment. As his wound started to close as an accelerated rate, he had opened his eyes and scanned his surroundings.

“Tarkona!”

As the ringing in his ears pacified, the voice became clearer. He turned his head towards the voice, soon meeting his gaze upon Tasha’Vel. His eyes grew as he witnessed the sight of the ruined body of her lifemate; his Consul, the man he swore to protect with his life.

He steadily picked himself up, calmly walking to the Overlord. He knelt by his side, clasping his hands together and focused his thoughts. Reaching deep inside himself, his body swelled with the powers of the Void. The Dark Side amassed within his hands. He extended his arms out, his hands hovering over Bentre.

Everything has a price.

Thoughts of the family he left behind started to race, as if he was remembering them one last time. For this was a terrible truth for him. Two prices must be paid. Pain is eternal and must be felt. Xuner took Bentre’s pain and made it his own. The other price was the feeling of love being sacrificed. The memories, the love of his family disappeared from his mind, never to be seen again.

Such was the price exacted by the Dark Side.

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(Hilgrif) #28

Hilgrif looked though the video feed once again. Little had changed.

“Shroud, so this plan has a 30% chance of working with out casualties and a 60% success with some casualties. Those chances are even after Muz blasted a hole in the cave system and wrecked the last plan.” His tone was flat.

“Correst, sir,” Shroud spoke in a monotone voice, “this is what the Hive has come up with.”

Hilgrif considered for a moment before speaking. “Ok, I will transmit this plan to the Overlord.”

Suddenly huge clouds of dust flew out from several cave exits. The ground looked like it sank a little lower. “captain," Hilgrif yelled out in a commanding voice, "What do the ship scanners say have occurred?”

“Hive lord," the droid captain responded in a cheerful voice, "it looks like maybe some explosives went off in the cave. How exciting!”

Hilgrif paused for a second in a fit of pure frustration, then clicked back on the feed to the Hive. “A change of plans, again," he spoke in a frustrated tone, “the Collective thought it would be fun to set off some explosives and our ground team forgot to check for such devices. Or more likely they thought the Force could do it for them,” his voice continued rising, "and so they did not pack the proper tools”

When Hilgrif had finished, Shroud spoke again. “Ok, reconfiguring the plan. May I suggest you use the ship as an means to evacuate the surface?”

Hilgrif shook his head. “Yeah," he said in a defeated voice, "in case any of the fools need to get off planet before the mission is over.”

Hilgrif then unmuted his connection to the clan comm frequency and in a slightly frustrated but steady voice spoke again. "Any who are wounded too much to fight, my ship is ready to evacuate you.” Then he paused for a brief moment. “Until then, I will be keeping an eye on the incoming forces.” Having said all he intended, Hilgrif clicked off the transmission switch to keep the channel clear.

“Captain,” he turned as he spoke, “can you tell me when the reinforcements get too close, so we know when we need to leave?”

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(Ashia Kagan Keibatsu ) #29

Like a well oiled machine, the Proconsul and the two clones deftly stepped succinctly behind the Grandmaster. They had been here before and knew what was about to happen, trusting in how he always seemed to know exactly when things were going to get rough. The Lion of Tarthos shielded himself milliseconds before the explosion hit. Those behind him were spared, the rest were not so lucky. He hadn’t spoken without a reason. They shouldn’t have moved. It was enough to break the barrier, but not before absorbing much of the shrapnel that came their way.

Ashia felt more than heard the ringing in her ears. The concussion blast disoriented the Nightsister. She tried to shake it off. She looked around the room trying to gauge the damage.

As she tried to take in the scene before her, she slowly started to pick up the noises from the group as they lay scattered about the chamber.

A shrill wail echoed suddenly throughout the chamber. The azure eyes darted frantically about as she tried to pinpoint which direction it had come from when suddenly her gaze fell upon Tasha kneeling beside a body.

Her words finally became clearer, “Macron, or someone, help me, please! The Consul is unconscious and needs medical attention quickly!”

The Proconsul flew to her side to find Bentre unconscious. “Doc! Over here!” The urgency in the Keibatsu’s voice made the clone turned abruptly and moved beside them. Springing to action he started working on the Consul quickly.

Ashia looked up as Xuner approached. Confusion washed over him as he looked at her his mind reeling between his visions and what lay before him. “How are you…? He started to speak; his breath was ragged, but he stumbled slightly. She reached out to help him, but lifted his hand as if to say he was ok. She watched as he fell to his knees and moved his hands over the body of the unconscious Overlord. Tendrils flowed from out stretched fingers as the Aedile’s hands moved deliberately over the body. The Nightsister watched as he tried to take the Consul’s pain as his own. The exertion took its toll; as he began to slump forward, the Nightsister reached out and grabbed him, pulling him back as Doc continued to stabilize Bentre.

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(Kojiro Keibatsu ) #30

The smell of stale air wafted into the armours filtration system as the area around Kojiro detonated. The Krath flinched but held his place as the sound momentarily deafened him. His hand lanced down, finding the great beast by his side as he gently stroked her, calming the Tuk’ata as the cave rocked. The barrier had arisen as he’d expected, and so he waited until the air had cleared and he was able to see. He kept waiting even as the shrill voice of the Rollmaster cried out that the consul was injured. He knew what was coming and he had to wait it out.

A great wracking cough escaped through the filtration system as his damaged lungs did their best to compensate for the influx of debris-filled air. As he doubled over speckles of blood splattered against the internal mouthpiece of his helmet as the organs struggled to cope. A hand lay upon his shoulder as he pushed himself up, Muz simply looked at him.

“I’m fine,” he muttered through a painful breath. “This place agrees with me less and less that’s all.” Kojiro pushed himself up properly and moved away, the great beast clung to his heels as they moved over fallen rocks and past the crowd moving to surround the fallen Bentre.

“Where are you going? You could help him,” a voice called after him and he turned to see the face of Doc looking in his general direction.

“You’ll do fine,” Kojiro muttered back as he proceeded onward, “We can’t afford to stop purely for the injured and dead. Those living come first and right now we have two…”

His words cut out as the Tuk’ata let out a roar of pain. A deep sizzling gouge had appeared in the beast’s flank, Kojiro looked up in time to dodge a blaster bolt that appeared from the dark. His sword raised to deflect two more than smashed into the wall but as the smoke cleared from the air the frequency of fire was increasing.

Seems we have company.

The form of the Grand Master walked up beside the Clone, his lightsabers floated almost lazily before him as he aided in the defence. Others moved up to join the two Keibatsu as the rate of fire increased from the Collective aggressors. The incoming fire appeared to originate from up the passage, further than the door into the room where the hostages were being held.

“Well this will get us nowhere…in a hurry,” Macron muttered as he moved up beside the pair. “And I’m getting bored with playing with these fools.”

A bolt zipped past the youngest Keibatsu’s head, leaving a scorch mark as it passed. “Macron, shouldn’t you be with Doc looking after Bentre?” Kojiro shouted over the din that echoed all around him.

“Probably best to, but a bit difficult when we’re being shot at. That other Clone has things under control for the moment.” Macron retorted. Kojiro couldn’t see the Madman’s face but he pictured that a smile was playing across it.

The fire continued unabated every now and then the Sadowans would catch a glimpse of the Collective soldiers huddled behind cover and taking shots towards the defenders. Kojiro inhaled and let his eyes scan the tunnel they found themselves in, it was difficult but the light from the sabers and blaster fire illuminated it enough for him to formulate a plan.

“Muz, I’m going to do something stupid. When I do smash the ceiling in front of them with lightning,” Muz turned his head momentarily to stare at Kojiro. “About fifty metres in front of you and roughly five to the side appears to be damage to the ceiling and wall support. It may, if my calculations are correct, cause a cave-in. If not, I may accidentally kill us all.”

There was a very audible click as Kojiro’s hand went to his belt and he unclipped one of his dioxis grenades. One step forward, followed by another moved him to where he needed to be, his arm moved back and lurched forward. Two bolts struck his shoulder, a third cracked into his helmet as he spun and fell to the floor.

The grenade tumbled through the air and rattled against the ground, rolling forward with the momentum until it stopped just where it needed to be. Gas began to billow from the device and creep up around the collective soldiers and then the pain began.

Muz stepped forward, his hand outstretched and launched a torrent of lightning to where Kojiro had designated. Macron joined him and together they managed to bring the ceiling down and blocked the tunnel, trapping the enemy in with the gas. The pained screams that had begun to echo through the tunnel became muffled and finally quietened.

“Looks like we have a way into the room then,” Macron remarked as he looked down at Kojiro. “He seems to still be kicking, a bit of an idiot, however.” The Madman picked Kojiro up and moved back towards the fallen Consul to see what he could do.

Concern had flitted across Muz’s face as he stared at Kojiro but he still moved with purpose towards the door they had fought hard to get to. With a hand gesture, he used the Force to push it open and exposed the room where the two hostages awaited.

(Hades) #31

Hades looked back at Bentre and then to Muz and others. He could feel Ciara was close. Hades quickly made his way down the hallway, stopping short of the room where they believe Ciara and Sang are being held. He overshot his mark just a bit due to the ringing in his ears. A blaster bolt greeted him, sizzling through his robes just under his armpit. The Battlelord quickly withdrew.

He looked towards the others and held up a hand with two fingers raised. Muz nodded turning to his small army and began speaking to them through their creepy telepathy or whatever it is they do. Hades took a few breaths before he started to actually remember what he had seen when he looked into the room. Behind the two brainwashed Iron Throne/Collective soldiers was Sang and Ciara, and Ciara was blinking. Blinking? The Battlelord closed his eyes and played the small memory over and over before his eyes shot open. He quickly held up a hand, stopping the quiet, scary-looking Grandmaster short of the room. Realizing that was not a smart move on it’s own, he quietly added: “I think our people are wired to explode. We need a plan B… Sir.”

The Grandmaster looked at the man standing before him for an uncomfortable amount of time before turning to his family, unspoken words flying between them. Hades turned back to the opening and quickly popped his head around the corner and back. Two blaster bolts had missed his head by mere inches. He grabbed his slugthrower from it’s holster and cocked it. Taking a steady breath, with the aid of the Force he propelled himself to the far side of the entryway while taking a shot at the trooper on the right. A mute scream, choked out and filled with blood greeted him as he took cover on the other side. Once out of immediate danger he then held up his hand,with only one finger towards Muz. The Grandmaster just nodded. He knew something was about to go down.

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(Muz Ashen Keibatsu) #32

He turned the corner, the blast from the trooper’s weapon snaring against the translucent barrier in front of him. Muz swept widely with his hand, the clatter of the blaster ripping from the trooper’s hands punctuating the room as the Lion pulled his throat to his hand, boots scraping the ancient stones.

He twisted, fighting against the Lion’s closing fingers, reaching for his belt as he heard the telltale scream of kyber, the violet light severing his arm at the shoulder. Eyes widened with the adrenaline flooding his system, clenched teeth working out a silent curse.

“For the Brotherh…”

The body fell to the floor like a puppet with the strings cut. The saber spun in an old Ataru velocity before the hilt drank the blade again, silence rushing over them, beyond the tinnitus.

Ciara looked up at him, eyes darting back to the bodies that lay on the floor, one a crumpled mess, the other collapsed in a pool of dark blood and burnt slugthrower powder.

“They wired us up pretty good.” She nodded at Sanguinius, in the seat tied behind her. “I am pretty sure that we’re on a pressure plate.” Muz stepped back, looking at the floor as Hades stepped into the room.

“Not to seem ungrateful or anything, but I would really appreciate not being explodinated, thanks.” Sanguinius craned his neck, trying to turn his head enough to see what was happening behind him.

How much do you weigh?” The words came out like gravel in the night, somehow echoing in their heads as he spoke. Sang shook his head, trying to lose the sensation, Ciara raising an eyebrow at him before recognizing the plan.

“Sixty or so. Sang?” She nudged him.

“What does it…” Sang squirmed in his seat as she elbowed him again.

“Pressure plate.” She sneered at him. It took a second for the Sentinel to focus, the light coming on behind his eyes as he figured it out. “Eighty, eighty five.”

Muz nodded at Ciara as his saber snapped to life, then looked at Hades. He didn’t need to clear the area, a hand slapping the side of the stone wall as he backed around the corner.

The saber came down between them, the snaring sparks of cabling and chains meeting the blade backed up by the dull bass thrum of the Force bearing down. The very air seemed to thicken around them as they willed their legs to work after being chained for so long. Rising as quickly as they could muster, they hobbled off the platform as they watched Muz’s concentration come to a point, the floor holding precisely still as they stepped onto the old stone.

They darted back, nursing small limps as they turned the corner, Muz stepping backward, his arm still in the same position as it was when he severed the chains, saber humming in the dim. Carefully measured steps carried him backward as he felt his shoulder graze the stone corner, decades old dust falling on the purple slashes of his warcoat. He could feel them, rushing back out, down toward the others. He felt the tide shifting, the machinations of fate twisting the threads around him. The thin miasma of the Force congealed in front of him just as he turned the corner, letting his arm drop and releasing the plate.

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(Ciara Tearnan Rothwell Tarentae) #33

Ciara couldn’t help but turn back as another explosion rocked the ancient temple. Her emerald eyes were almost mournfully transfixed on the rubble held at bay by an invisible Force. She supposed she should have been grateful it wasn’t her splattering into a million pieces in there, but some gnawing sense of loss persisted.

“You all really did a number on this place,” she murmured, taking a step back as her eyes just began to take in her surroundings.

“You’re welcome.” The gruff retort came almost at her ear as Hades’ hand moved to her shoulder to prevent the Tarentae from backing into him.

It wasn’t until she turned to acknowledge her old friend that she truly understood his meaning. Beside him stood a fellow Tarenti, behind him, men and women among whom she’d found a home for nearly a year now. Macron and a great beast hovered over Kojiro. DarkHawk looked like he’d stepped on a mine and survived. She couldn’t see the Clan’s Consul through the people who surrounded him, but the frantic efforts of Doc and the lines creasing the brow of Tasha’vel told her enough.

The loud crack of splitting stone interrupted any response she may have made and served as a reminder that now was not the time to make assessments. Ciara’s eyes darted back to Muz, who met her gaze with a nod.

“That explosion isn’t the last of them.” Ciara directed her words to the Clan. “The Collective intends to bring this temple down on our heads, and enough damage has been done already that our moments here are numbered.”

“And we’ve nothing but bodies and missing limbs to show for it,” Hades sighed.

“Perhaps a little more than that.”

Ciara lifted her hands to reveal a pair of thin, golden gauntlets at her wrists.

“But, how did you…?”

The Krath chuckled at that, lifting her shoulders in a shrug as Hades watched the gauntlets seem to disappear into the woman’s sleeves. “Magic.”

“We’ve got to get the injured out of here. We can still exit the way my group came,” Ashia spoke up as another crack in the walls sent dust down on their heads. “Where are the others – Malisane and Xolarin?”

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(Malisane Sadow) #34

Ruins

Lyra Colony

“It should not be much further,” Xolarin commented quietly as he kept the box held close to his chest, “it seems quiet though.”

Malisane nodded. “I would have thought we would have met enemy forces by now. Can you sense anything?”

The Aedile shook his head. “Nothing specific. I sense multiple sentient lifeforms nearby but it is impossible to tell who.”

“We will have to be careful.”

They walked a little further, the route now seeming familiar. Then they saw light ahead. “We’re almost out,” Xolarin added.

Malisane crept forward, his hand gripping his saber hilt as he tensed himself ready for action, if necessary to allow the Aedile to escape. Slowly they walked out of the entrance and stopped.

“Who the hell are you?” a voice demanded and a spotlight suddenly trained on the pair of them. Malisane walked forward slowly, his hand dropping down by his side. They could make out armoured figures all around the entrance, blasters trained on them.

“They are Severians.” Xolarin commented quietly.

“Many of them,” Malisane replied grimly.

“Walk forward slowly,” they were ordered, as they could make out one figure striding towards them. “I asked who you were?”

Malisane looked past him. He could just make out other soldiers loading corpses into the back of a transport. Some wore the armour of the Severians, and others were clearly Collective. He paused for a second then replied. “This is Mystic Xolarin, Aedile of House Marka Ragnos and one of our leaders. I am his Black Guard. And who are you?”

“Major Avrac Var, Second Phalanx, Fourth Legion. We have secured the area and intend to proceed inside.”

Xolarin stepped forward. “Well done Major. Our force should have secured the interior and will be departing shortly. I assume we are free to go?”

The Major glanced at the box Xolarin was holding. “What is that?”

Xolarin looked back at him, “It is some of our sensor equipment. It is very sensitive and can not be exposed to the external air.” He turned to Malisane. “Hold this for me and keep it secure.”

“Very good, sir,” Malisane replied taking it from him, his gaze meeting the officer’s as he did so.

The Major looked at them suspiciously but obviously was following orders from above. “Very well. We detected a large black ship in the area earlier. One of yours?”

Xolarin suspected he knew which one. “It is indeed. I trust you have not interfered with it?”

“Not so long as it does nothing threatening,” the Major replied.

“Good,” Xolarin replied, “then we will contact our ship and arrange a transport. Come along Malisane.”

“Yes sir.”

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(Muz Ashen Keibatsu) #35

“We need to make our way back to the Spear now before this place collapses in on all of us. Let’s just hope Malisane and Xolarin make it out. We can’t risk losing anyone else at this point.” The Proconsul started barking orders and taking command. Her only priority was to get everyone out safely.

She locked eyes with Ciara. Keep that safe. A look of confusion crossed her eyes for a moment, How did you know? Ashia just nodded to her. A slight smile creased the Tarentae’s lips. A Krath knew a Krath. The Nightsister was glad they weren’t leaving empty handed.

Doc dusted his hands off, looking up at Hades, who was looming over them. “He’s stable enough, for now. Down a few units of blood, and obviously…well…” The Nihilgenia nodded at the blood soaked fabric that had been wrapped around the man’s detached limbs.

“Can we move him?” Tasha turned to the medic, eyes darting as a few more flecks of stone fell from the cavern roof.

“Well, I can’t immobilize his back or neck like I’d prefer, but we have a better shot at recovery if we don’t get buried alive.” Hades nodded at the clone, kneeling down and hefting the Overlord over his shoulder.

“All right, everyone up and at it.” Ashia turned toward the group. “Let’s get back to the Ordu Aspectu Temple, we can get out the way we made.” She reached her hand down, helping Tasha to her feet as she looked past them to her husband.

That seemed pretty bad. Are you…

He lowered his head a few degrees, raising one eyebrow as he looked at her. He was more annoyed than injured, the Force having kept the vast majority of the damage off of him. The sound of distant explosives shook more dust from the walls, the muted sounds of screaming and blaster fire filtering up from deeper in the caverns. “They’re playing our song.” The words echoed inside their heads and across the stone.

It only took a few moments to get everyone limping back the way that they came, filtering through the maze of caves and mineshafts, their path twisting until it came to a stop, the roof having caved in with one of the explosions, blocking the path with all too much dust and debris.

“Step aside.” The madman cackled slightly as he moved towards the front of the group. His hand rose as he concentrated on moving the debris.

“Hehehe! Look at me! Look at me now! It’s fun to have fun but you have to know how!” The words fell from Macron’s lips to no one in particular as he continued moving rocks out of the way, flinging them aside with his mind, not paying all too much attention as to where they landed.

Hades shot Etah a worried look as the piles scattered. “We should probably…” Ciara nodded, stepping forward, eyes closing, hands outstretched, larger chunks of stone starting to wobble as they all focused together. Stones scraped against each other, like the moon was grinding its teeth, exposing the old temple beyond. A shaft of light at the end, beyond the ruined pillars beckoned them with the promise of fresh air.

Bentre stirred a moment, laughing at his own delirium. “Five more minutes.” There was silence for a beat, then Tasha let herself laugh. The crack of the last stone barring their path broke the dam, and everyone was chuckling or outright laughing as they stepped toward the opening.

It was a short walk up to the bay of the ship, the bright lights stinging their eyes as they adjusted. Tasha turned, noting who was there, slipping out a datapad and checking who else had checked in with the other ships. She looked up, seeing her Proconsul watching her. “We’re all accounted for, I think.” Etah laughed in the background, watching Macron play with a stone hovering in the air in front of him, like some sort of strange cat. They were battered, but somehow still in good spirits.

She nodded, turning to the comm panel, tapping it to page Blackwind. “We’re clear, let’s go home.”

“Of course.” Blackwind’s voice came through tinny from the bridge. “Kyataru then?”

Ashia looked at Muz, he eyes catching his for a moment.

“No.” He tilted his head, shifting his gaze to look at the Consul as Doc and Hades hefted him onto a gurney. “Orian.”

FIN

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