Chapter 1: Exsanguination
The chair slid back from the desk as Kojiro raised his hands and rubbed his eyes. The clone had spent the better part of the afternoon engrossed in his work without paying much heed to what had been going on around him. His eyes stole a glance at the desk chronometer and Kojiro sighed. Time was almost upon him.
A hard knock at the locked door echoed around the spartan room and the Quaestors attention snapped around.
“Come in,” the man uttered, his hand resting on the blaster that sat upon his desk. Though what use it would have been had he truly needed it against who he was sure would come. The door slid open and a figure dressed in black glided into the room.
Ah, yes. The Umbaran standing before him shared no resemblance to the pictures on her dossier. Unlike those, Syntari was no longer a gaunt skeleton hiding away beneath a black shroud. No longer playing the part of escaped captive the Sadowan had allowed her snow-white hair to grow and displayed an air of confidence that, he imagined, had not been present before.
“Miss Bastiayn, welcome. The uniform didn’t fit, I take it, given the…modifications you’ve rendered upon it,” he said. His lips curled in annoyance before he turned away from the woman and moved to the office window. “Come,” he said, inclining his head towards the view, “Join me.” The Umbaran’s hesitancy deepened as she prowled into the room, a wary Nexu in a cage. Calling her clothing a “uniform” pushed it, considering the original; this sleeveless ghost of his concept bared her pale, scarred arms to the shoulder, and showed enough skin to make him roll his eyes. Her moonstone eyes flickered gold as she regarded the Keibatsu, brisk voice betraying her hostility.
“Why did you bring me here?” she asked.
Kojiro said nothing. He was rapidly losing interest in Syntari. Hmmm. Disappointing development, that.
“Look out there. What do you see?”
Syntari glanced out the window. Throngs of people gathered before the steps of the Cathedral. A call had been put out and they citizens had responded en mass. Dotted amongst them rested Force users, Warhost officers and soldiers, as well as all manners of politicians, miscreants and whoever else, had decided to turn up. Upon the top of the steps, a podium awaited, flanked by black armoured troopers in an armour the young woman didn’t recognise.
“What am I here to do?” She queried, throwing a quick glance at the man beside her.
“What do you think?”
“You put out a call and I responded,” she pointed out, “but I am still no closer to being in the know.”
Kojiro didn’t respond for some moments. When he did his features remained expressionless but his voice could not disguise the disdain he felt. “They are maggots writhing and feasting upon the decaying flesh of a once great house. Taking what they want, claiming what isn’t theirs and dragging us further and further into an decay. They cry when they are hungry, weep when their children die and their homes burn but most do not step forward to do their part. No, most are content to let the world slip by them and have everything given to them. No more.”
Syntari’s eyes tracked the Quaestor as he turned from the window, venomous words filling the room. She wasn’t sure where this was going but something about the possibilities of what he was saying appealed to her more than she would have been willing to admit. “Again, what does all this have to do with me?”
Before Kojiro could respond the door opened and two troopers entered the room, bedecked in the same armour Syntari had seen below. This wasn’t Warhost or any Nihilgenia armour she had come across before but something rang disturbingly familiar about it. The Quaestor chuckled at the young woman’s confusion before he began towards the two soldiers.
“Why the look of confusion, Miss Bastion? The armour is an old relic to the days of the Empire, a gift from our old friends in Dlarit. I don’t quite know how they acquired it, but I believe it is associated with a group of Stormtroopers called Death Troopers.” He strode past the two troopers. When Syntari failed to follow he turned on his heel and stared at her. “Come, Miss Bastion, it’s time to begin.”
Amidst the grandeur of the opulent foyer within Ragnos Cathedral there paced a tall figure dressed in simple Dark Jedi robes of exquisite material. Outwardly he appeared bored and more than a little impatient but his incessant pacing betrayed his anxiety. His right hand rested nervously on the hilt of his lightsaber as his eyes continued to sweep the open foyer for threats.
Kodais Solatus had only recently joined House Marka Ragnos of Clan Naga Sadow from Clan Plagueis. During that time he had seen the subtle yet tell-tale signs of a purge coming from the House Summit. As arguably the newest member of the House it only made sense that he would be an easy target for elimination. For Kodais there was only one course of action: prove his loyalty to his new House and do so immediately and ruthlessly. That opportunity presented itself rather neatly when the Quaestor put out a call for a special job.
The staccato clicking of footsteps roused Kodais from his ruminating; stopped his pacing. He turned his attention towards the two figures approaching him: Kojiro, whom he had only met briefly and an Umbarran woman, whom he had never seen before. The pair stopped just short of Kodais.
“Quaestor,” Kodais said with a short bow. His acknowledgement of the strange woman was decidedly less cordial with a cold, “Madam”, and a curt nod of the head in her direction.
The three moved out into the shadow of the grand cathedral. Soldiers snapped to attention and as they ascended the steps to the podium a hush began to fall across the assembled throng of people. The assembled had been pulled from a list of those who were seen as dangerous, whose loyalties were questioned. Tarthos citizens and Warhost who had thrown their lot in with those whose ideals went against the very nature of the House. Kojiro eyed those before him with content and grimaced, but the grimace soon turned into a wide smile and he rose.
“Loyal citizens of Tarthos, for that is what you all are is it not? Loyal citizens? Though I would beg to differ,” a murmur flowed through the crowd and Kojiro glanced at a few select individuals as he lowered his hands to rest upon the podium before him. “I would beg to differ because I have heard such disturbing reports. Reports that, I will admit, hurt me deep inside. Reports that would indicate that some of you are not as loyal to Marka Ragnos as you would have us believe. In fact, some of you standing here before me today are traitors to the very house that protects and dies for you!”
A few shouts of protest echoed up from the group but most of the citizens Warhost assembled looked from one another with wary glances. Those unknown to one another attempted to put a bit of distance between themselves.
“I have decided thus to deal with these traitors in the only way traitors can be dealt with. Extermination. There was an old belief that if you bled the body of toxic blood it would in time heal. So this is what I plan to do today. Those that support the Lotus against the Throne, those that believe in the light or Jedi ideals, those who would stand for everything Marka Ragnos does not. Well, it is time for you to depart this realm and try again in the next life,” A further murmur spread across the crowd and people began to attempt to push through and exit the edges but soon found their way blocked by a ring of black armoured troopers. Kojiro raised his arm and the troopers as if in mockery raised their rifles.
Syntari and Kodais both looked at one another before being beckoned forward by Kojiro. “These two here have been appointed Judges. Guardians of the law and commanders of our new Judicial Force who you see before and around you. They are called Talon Company and all security will be undertaken by them. They are the law that will safeguard the true sons and daughters of Ragnos!”
Out of the corner of his eye, Kojro noticed a junior officer of Talon Company attempt to grab his attention. The man moved up to him when becked and leaned in whispering. A scowl danced across the Quaestors face as he moved away from the man and moved back to the front of the podium.
“It seems some of you have already acted and attacked the Undesirable camps dotted around the city, freeing the scum and arming them. Killing loyal members of the Warhost in the process! This is why you cannot be trusted, this is why these actions must be taken. To secure our future and ensure Marka Ragnos can go forward without interruptions of old ties to traitorous ideals!”
The clone sighed as he turned on his heel and walked away from the podium leaving the two new Judges to watch as the crowd began to surge from the middle outwards. He began walking backs towards the entrance to the Cathedral. As he did he beckoned the same officer over who had spoken to him moments before.
“Yes My Lord?”
“Activate the operation. Ensure everyone knows the faces of the Judges leading this operation. Cull every traitor on the list. No prisoners and no surrender.”
The Talon officer looked at him and without question nodded, turned to his datapad and opened his comm. “This is Lieutenant Dravis, Operation Exsanguination is a go. Repeat operation is a go. You are weapons free."
The sound of blaster fire echoed after the Quaestor as he moved his way into the Cathedral. The doors shutting behind him blocked the noise from reaching his ears and as he made the long journey back to his office alone he knew today would be a good day, especially for those loyal to Marka Ragnos. If things went as he wished, only those would remain.