[House Shar Dakhan] Veiled Origins - Event Fiction

(Aul Celsus) #1

Prologue

The year 35 ABY was coming to an end and celebrations on Aeotheran were readying for a new and prosperous cycle. The events of the previous cycle were devastating, what with the spread of a terrible virus, invasions, pirate threat, and general unrest. Finally, the war-hungry Sadowans were off fighting and the civilian working population of the planet was allowed to celebrate their moment of reprieve. They could hardly contain themselves, or rather, they didn’t try.

Aeotheran was home to many splendorous parties for the 36 ABY New Cycle Celebration, but few could compare to the magnificence of the Seng Karash Block Party, housed in the heart of the Commercial and Leisure District. To say the scene was extravagant would be an understatement. The garish colors of the attendees starkly contrasted the laboring class’ regular work outfits on any other day of the cycle. Alcohol was flowing beyond anything that might be considered controlled, and lewd scenes were unfolding at every street corner. This was a party.

The windows of the bars shook in response to the heavy bass being fed through gigantic speakers strategically placed throughout the District.

“Are you all having a good time!?” came the calls from the Block Party MC, “we’re about ready to count this cycle down! Ready? Ten!”

“Ten!” came the response calls from the giant crowd of thousands.

“Nine!”

“Eight!”

“Seven!”

“Six!”

“Five!”

“Four!”

“Three!”

Hundreds of lightsabers sprung to life with a snap-hiss scattered throughout the crowd. Thinking the colorful beams of light were House Shar Dakhan’s way of celebrating as part of the Seng Karash partygoers, the cheers grew louder and louder.

“TWO!”

“ONE!”

“HAPPY NEW CYCL-”

The cheers were cut short by the overwhelming din of screams and shouts of horror. The lightsabers whizzed back and forth, cutting down the partygoers like blades of grass in an overgrown field. Karashi citizens fled every which way trying to avoid becoming a target of the saber-wielding attackers, but the huge numbers present meant escape was nearly impossible.

A young woman with golden hair managed to find a path to safety behind the back of the Boomshakalaka bar, a favorite venue for civilians and Dakhani alike. She fled down the alleyway, hoping with all her heart that she could make the chorus of agony fade to nothing.

Panting and gasping for breath, she turned corner after corner until she finally made her way back to her apartment in the residential district. Charging up the stairs with the last bit of energy in her body she desperately smacked her access card on the door next to her apartment entry. The door slid open with a “hiss” and she tumbled inside, slamming the back of her hand on the interior access panel to shut and lock the door.

“Mom, what’s going on?” the sound of the woman’s teenage child came from an open door down the hall.

“Oh stars… it’s horrible. The Dakhani. They’ve… massacred thousands.”

She collapsed in a huddle on the ground, sobbing.


(Aul Celsus) #2

Part I

The sun shone through the window of the golden haired woman’s living room window, falling gently upon her face and stirring her awake, still lying in the collapsed position from the night before.

36 ABY.

Was it a dream? Or, more accurately, a nightmare? She shook her head slightly and rose to her feet. Groggily making her way to her washroom to splash some water on her face, she walked by her kitchen where her daughter sat eating breakfast and watching the news on the Holonet.

“Reports have been coming in since late last night regarding the terror attack on Seng Karash committed apparently by member of Shar Dakhan, we’ll bring you the news, accurate and evenly balanced, after these messages,” came the monotonic voice of the reporter whose image appeared in the hologram.

The golden haired woman stopped dead in her tracks, the blood draining from her face.

“Mom, are you okay? The news has been nothing but pieces about last night’s attack all morning. They’re calling it the New Cycle Celebration Massacre. Apparently more than two thousand people were murdered… I’m so happy you made it home,” the young daughter said, exasperated, as she rushed to her mother and held her tightly.

“I… I don’t understand… why would they do thi-” the woman’s rhetorical question was cut short by a slight rapping at the door.

“Mom?!”

“Stay here…”

The woman grabbed a knife from the kitchen counter and walked carefully towards the door of her apartment. She peered delicately through the peephole of the door, knife grasped tightly in her hand.

Nothing. An empty hallway.

With fearful hesitance, the woman opened the door. Hiss

There, at the threshold, lay a relatively large package. Looking down the hall she noticed a box in front of every apartment on her floor. Curious, she kneeled down and moved the package inside, quickly closing the door behind her. Hiss

“What is that, mom?”

“I don’t know, but stay back while I open it,” the mother replied.

With the knife she still held in her hand, she carefully opened the package. Inside the box rested a few carefully wrapped bundles and a handwritten note on an ivory card delicately trimmed with gold. The writing was a deep crimson.

Your keepers have betrayed you. Stay protected. Trust in the General.

“…the General?” the woman slowly said aloud.

She opened the first package that lay in the box. Unraveling the string keeping the package tied shut, she lifted over the cloth wrapping and then suddenly stopped, her mouth agape.

“Oh, my…”

In her hand she held a blast pistol, beautifully plated in gold with crimson trimming.

“Mom! What is going on?!”

The woman continued to open the rest of the contents of the box. A set of a blaster pistol and three explosives of some sort for her… and her daughter.


The Dakhani shuttle landed with a hiss-thud in the open bay of the Seng Karashi spaceport. Rarely do the members of Shar Dakhan make such an open appearance in the civilian spaceport, but on their triumphant return from fighting the Collective they figured it would be nice to mingle with the people of their domain. After all, this is a time for celebration with the New Cycle and all.

The boarding ramp extended from the shuttle and out walked the various members of the House, some limping, others worse off.

“Does anyone else find it a bit quiet? Did someone forget to inform the welcoming committee?” queried Jurdan Krennel as he descended the ramp behind Aul Celsus.

“I agree…” Aul’s response trailing off.

Clink, clink, clink

Aul looked down just in time to see a small gold sphere roll under the ship.

Beeeeeeep

“Jump!”

Just as the rest of the House dove off of the boarding ramp the thermal detonator rolled under the shuttle went off, completely obliterating the ship and sending debris throughout the open-aired bay.

“There!” shouted Erik Cato from his huddled position on the ground, pointing at a shadowy figure making their way out of the spaceport.

Aul jumped to his feet and bolted after the attempted assassin. Even with his enhanced and amplified speed, his target was able to outrun him. “What in blazes?” he mumbled to himself, panting as he exited the spaceport shortly followed by the rest of the House.

A twinge at the back of his neck caused him to instinctively grab the hilt of his lightsaber, igniting it with a snap-hiss. He spun around and deflected a quick barrage of blaster bolts away from him. Looking in the direction of the bolts, he spotted a half-dozen people of no significant appearance crouched behind some planted trees just outside the port, all brandishing distinctive gold weapons.

“You! Come here-”

Another twinge at Aul’s back compelled him to turn and deflect yet another barrage of bolts. Again, he noticed a small group of apparent civilians armed with golden blasters.

“Spread!” shouted one of the assailants.

“Master, what’s going on?” asked Drae’lath Rahath, Aul’s apprentice, appeared at his side.

“I don’t know, but we’re going to get to the bottom of-”

A rumble interrupted Aul’s sentence as the ground began to shake. The sound of explosions echoed through the streets of Seng Karash to the north, south, apparently everywhere in synchrony. The explosions continued for what seemed like at least a minute, punctuated by the spaceport just behind the group of Dakhani imploding with a violent explosion. The group leaped forward and onto the ground, narrowly escaping burial under a pile of rubble.

From beneath the cover of his armorweave cloak, Aul tapped his comlink.

“DAMAGE REPORT!”

“Sir-,” came a the staticy reply of an inconspicuous voice from Shar Dakhan Command at The Lion’s Tooth, “cough cough Sir… our entire fleet is destroyed. Every ship… ground assault vehicle… they’ve even struck here, at the Lion’s Tooth. There’s maybe two or three of us alive… cough cough.”

“What!? Get a message to Sang, immediately!”

“Sir… cough I tried, all off-world communication has been blocked,” came a desperate reply.

“This cannot be,” Aul exclaimed.

“One more thing, Sir, we’ve received a message.”


(Aul Celsus) #3

Part II

Sanitary Tunnels, Seng Karash, Aeotheran
One Month after the New Cycle Massacre

“Locke, what news?”

Aul was out of breath. He had just made his way back from the wreckage of the Lion’s Tooth, attempting to recover some of his research equipment. The building, marred beyond recognition by terrorist attacks shortly after the New Cycle, was a veritable gauntlet of death one month later. The curiously armed and fervently aggressive populace had overtaken the building, occupying it as a sign of victory over the members of House Shar Dakhan, who had been pushed into the sanitary system of the city to regroup. With their ground and air forces completely destroyed the group was crippled, save for the weapons on their backs.

Darkblade, in his usually manner, attempted to overtake the populace in his AT-AT. Unfortunately, the armored transport soon found itself caved in among the rubble of purposely destroyed buildings. The ship itself was fine, for all intents and purposes, but it was sadly and ironically stuck. Useless.

The rest of the group found themselves constantly overwhelmed by armed civilian “militia.” Though lightsabers did a great job of deflecting blaster fire, much like the events of Order 66, one could only deflect so much before it became too dangerous to remain exposed. The sewers were far safer.

“We’ve cracked the code, Aul. Darkblade, he cracked the code,” Locke responded.

“And?” Aul inquired hurriedly.

"Return to the Teachings of the General and Reclaim Glory or Perish, " replied the former Consul monotonously.

“What?”

“Yeah, I don’t know.”

“Get me someone who does,” Aul replied.


Sanitary Tunnels, Seng Karash, Aeotheran
One day later

“Traitors! Corrupt! Evil!”

The prisoner struggled with all of his might against the restraint of Erik Cato and Jurdan Krennel.

“We’ve got a live one,” chimed Jurdan.

“Good, put him over there,” Aul replied, motionining to a chair in the corner. The sewers creaked and dripped. The chair… wasn’t the cleanest thing around.

“You will get NOTHING!”

“Erik, shut him up,” Aul called out, his back turned as he prepared some tubes with inconspicuous clear chemicals.

“Gladly,” Erik replied, backhanded the prisoner with a crack. The man slumped in his chair.

“Thanks,” the Quastor said quietly as he approached the prisoner with a syringe, “it’ll be good to get a fresh sample this time.” The scientist drew a few milliliters of blood from the unconscious prisoner and returned to his makeshift lab bench.

Psst. You think this will work?” Erik quietly said to Jurdan over the head of the prisoner.

“Who knows, but that pile is beginning to stink,” Jurdan motioned over to a pile of rapidly decomposing piles of previously attempted prisoners.

“Well, the others aren’t very good at bringing back things that still move. Especially that Macron, he’s got the bloodlust,” Erik said with a green hue overcoming his face.

“Tell me about it…” Jurdan concurred.


Back Alley, Leisure District, Seng Karash, Aeotheran
A few days later

Aul whipped his lightsaber back and forth, deflecting numerous blaster bolts back at the pair of golden blaster-armed civilians. One deflected bolt hit its target straight in the heart, dropping the man like a rock. The other bolt return to its blaster, sending it carreening out of its user’s hand. Aul charged the still-standing assailant with his lightsaber held high and was caught entirely off guard when the man held his hand out in front of him, scrunched his eyebrows and sent Aul flying many meters back with a push that could only have been aided by the Force. Aul’s head smacked on the duracrete wall of the building behind him, knocking him unconscious.


Sanitary Tunnels, Seng Karash, Aeotheran
One day later

Aul slumped into the tunnels, dropping to his knees as the heavy grate closed above him.

“Where the fark have you been?” asked Locke with concern.

“Sleeping in an alley… they can control the Force,” replied Aul.

“They?” Locke blurted out, confused.

“I don’t know, some of them? All of them? I have no idea what we’re dealing with. The analysis of those prisoners was extremely confusing. At least some of them are not from Aeotheran or from any system we’ve ever encountered. The carbon isotopes are way off. And the genetic diversity of that same group was hyper-conserved, like they come from some ancient peoples with almost no intermixing with any other population. I’ve never quite seen anything like it,” Aul said quietly to himself, rubbing the back of his head where a pulsing welt had formed.

“…the Force? What in blazes…”


Collapsed building, Industrial District, Seng Karash, Aeotheran
One day later

“Aul! Locke! Jurdan!”

Erik and Drae’lath came running into the building, looking for the crew that had entered a few hours earlier looking for clues as to this mysterious Force-sensitive group manipulating the Aeotheran populace against the members of Shar Dakhan.

“We’re here,” called Jurdan back to the young Dakhani.

“We… have something you need to see,” Drae’lath said hurriedly, presenting a small, moldy text to the Aedile.

“Paper? What is this?” asked Krennel.

“Look at the cover!”

Reading aloud, Jurdan’s eyes grew wide:

The General’s Commands to the Dakhan Acolytes

“The Dakhan Acolytes?! Who are these people?” Jurdan blurted in surprise. He opened the text and skimmed it quickly, turning page after page. His mouth opened wider and wider.

“These are the original followers of General Shar Dakhan. These are the Army of Dakhan. This is millennia-old strategy straight from the General himself! Aul needs to see this immediately,” Jurdan divulged, “AUL!”

The Quaestor hurried into the room, “what’s going on?”

“Take a look at this,” Jurdan said as he passed the tome to his commander.

Aul examined the book carefully before opening it up and studied a few tens of pages.

“This is the key. Gather whoever is left from the House. Have them study every single page of this book. We must know our enemy to defeat them. This is General Shar Dakhan’s combat manual, and this is how we are going to defeat them. We must become them.”

“Aye!” replied all present.

“And get message to Sang and Bentre. This is far more than we could have prepared for. We need ships, LOTS of ships. GET THEM HERE. I don’t care what you have to do. Who you have to kill, how many we have to lose. Get message to the Summit and get those ships here.”

“Aye!”

HSD Veiled Origins - Run-on