[Naga Sadow]The Return of Old Gods

Outer Orbits, Orian System
Near Inos

37 ABY

“This is Stave Actual, to Stave Four. Is everything going alright out on the hunt?”

Zers shook her head as she studied the starscape around her. She tapped at the comm system once in a short acknowledgement. Nothing ever seemed to happen on these patrols. The large orb of Inos drifted somewhere off to her starboard position. There were plenty of satellites and phenomena. There were items of scientific interest, but nothing to tempt the more militant minded. Day in and day out, she made the circuits about the system.

And yet nothing happened.

The initial attack, their first moves on the Orian system, had been over a year ago. The cult that had once called the system home had been lead out of their holes. Beings, good beings, hardworking individuals, had made the sacrifice that kept the cult of filthy Force-users out of the system long enough for the Collective to set their trap. It went more beautifully than they could have hoped.

These Force Users, these worshipers, she supposed, from the planets had committed everything. They though, she supposed, to eliminate the Collective from their space, to ensure they would be free and safe from the influence of the Three Pillars. That drive, that bravado had been their downfall. With an overcommitment of forces, a rodent track had been set, and when the cultists returned, they were caught unawares.

The destruction had been beautiful.

“Stave Four, this is Stave Actual. Please acknowledge.”

The Kel Dor shifted uncomfortably in the bucket seat of the old T-65. “Stave Four acknowledges. There is nothing out here outside of the normal. Should I return to the rendezvous point to prepare for extraction? Or did you want me to make a full rotation around the gas giant to watch for pirates? I mean, we might not have run the whole of them underground yet.”

“Are you confirming the presence of pirates in the Orian system, Stave Four?”

“No, Actual.” The Kel Dor watched the churning gaseous surface of Inos. “I haven’t seen anything out here. You just keep having us chasing ghosts. Little more than memories of monsters long gone from here.”

There was a pause on the other end. “Go ahead and make a wide patrol towards Tarthos after you complete your current circuit, Stave Four. We will meet you for rendezvous en route to the planet. ”

“Don’t worry, Stave Actual. If I end up meeting up with any pirates, I will knock them over the head. Make sure that you have a chance to say hello.” The Kel Dor switched off the comm unit in the cockpit. She knew that a proper chewing out was going to result. The commanding officer knew as well as she did how these things went. It would be a waste to meet her out this far just for a reprimand. She felt certain she would find the captain the same place she always had, in the cantina.

It was the sight of a streak of gray that first drew her eye. A realization gripped her heart. That realization cooled the ire which rested in Zer’s gut toward her commander. The lines, clearly Galactic Imperial, made her guts turn to ice. Something was deeply wrong. Everyone knew what had come of that era’s Empire. There was no good reason for an Imperial-II destroyer to be in Orian space.

The feeling was amplified as the second and third ships came into system in rough formation with the first. A pair of ships, one in standard gray and the second a deep black, an Acclamator and a Vindicator respectively, were now rotating toward the system’s center. With her heart in her throat, Zer primed her fighter’s engines. As though on cue, a score of other ships began to appear in quick succession.

She would need to get back to Stave Actual. She would have to let the captain and Command know what was coming. A fleet was jumping into the system. The anomalous signals created by the entry would be noted by the Collective’s resident forces, but it would not be checked out immediately. The concerns of the system were enough to keep the likes of moffs tied up in the fine details of running a system. They would need a runner, a messenger, a scout to bring the news to their attention.

She wanted to run out in the streets. She wanted to scream from the rooftops. A harbinger of doom, or ruin, or perhaps just chaos was hanging over the system.

She never would get the opportunity to make her proclamations. A short hail of laser fire lanced the area of space occupied by the Incom T-65 X-Wing. And like that, the antiquated fighter and its once-bored pilot were space dust.

A moment of silence came over the Sadowan comms as the lasers criss-crossed in space. The Overlord smiled to himself. The comms started up again, with the sounds of the Dakhani and Markosian fleets checking in as their final elements were still jumping into system.

A few words came to mind. The idea of a speech, or otherwise rousing the Clan, were more than a bit tempting. Instead, Bentre cleared his throat, and pressed down the transmit button on the comm panel as he leaned forward toward the audio receiver.

“It is time, Sadowans.” The voice of the Overlord crackled from each comm system. “This is your time. This is your destiny. Today is our day. Today is your day.” He paused. “This is a day of glory. This is a day of honor. This is a day of redemption. This is a day for Nga Sadow. This is a day for the glory of the Sith Empire! This is a day for the glory of Naga Sadow!”

He paused for effect, before leaning close to the receiver. “Seize the day, Sadowans.”

On cue, the tactical display, glowing a white, began to turn. Several ships went from a pearly white to a searing scarlet, indicating a receipt of orders and an acknowledgement of the same. Soon the whole fleet was a blood red formation.

Their time of victory, Sadow willing, had just begun.



“The time has come. Like stories of old, the time of reckoning has come, and with it we see the return of the gods of old.”

This thread is where members of Naga Sadow will be able to post their portion of the two-pronged attack upon our home system. Each House will begin by leading an effort to recapture their respective planets. This will occur over the first phase.

During the secondary phase of the RO, the members of Clan Naga Sadow will make the push to recapture the planet of Sepros from the Collective threat in the system. This will allow Naga Sadow to retake their former throneworld.


Background

Having been forced out of the Orian system by the counter-attacks of a portion of the Collective fleet following the events of Inferno. Since this time, the Clan has spent a lot of time floating in space, from system to system. The Sadowans encountered the Collective in Telos, meeting the Plagueis Clan on an undiscovered planet, plunder ruins on Endor, and more before engaging in the events in the Lyra-3k-a system during the 13th Great Jedi War.

The time has now come for the Clan to return to their home. The Sadowan Fleet has been gathered and coordinated. Dropping from hyperspace into the Orian system, the fleets are now poised to strike back at the Collective for their invasion of Sadowan space. House Shar Dakhan is moving to retake their planet of Aeotheran, while the House Marka Ragnos members will be moving to retake Tarthos.

Once the once-House-controlled planets have been secured, the fleet will rendezvous at Sepros, with the intent of retaking their throne planet of Sepros once again.

# Rubric and Rules

This Clan-Wide Run-On will be graded using the Voice’s Run On Rubric.

  • In order to earn credit for placement/participation, members must complete two posts of no less than 250 words each. Posts shorter than 250 words will not count toward the two post minimum to earn placement/participation credit.
  • Members may write their alternative characters and NPCs into the run-on in addition to their main characters.
  • Snapshots must be provided for member’s main/alternate characters used in the Run On within the member’s first post
  • Only qualifying posts will be considered in grading, others will be ignored. Subsequent writers may choose to ignore disqualified posts, but they will not be penalized if they pay attention to them. However, if a disqualified post includes resolution to a plot/subplot, it will NOT be considered in Story grading.
  • Authors may reserve a post position with a post stating “Reserved”. There may only be one post position reserved, and your reservation post may be deleted if it has been left up for more than 6 hours.
  • Posts may be edited by their author before additional posts with content are made (that is, a post may ONLY be edited while the post immediately following it is Reserved). If a post is edited after content has been added, it will be disqualified.
  • An author may NOT make consecutive posts. At least one other person must post (including reserved posts) before an author can make another post.
  • Any post may be deleted within 10 minutes of it being posted, regardless of what other posts have been made after it.

“Conquest is Our Destiny; We Shall Not Fail.”


ORIAN SYSTEM
NEAR INOS
CNS FLEET

“Commander, what was the last transmission of that T-65?” asked Quaestor Takagari “DarkHawk” KogaRyu, peering out the Vindicator’s large view ports.

“Sir, let me replay that transmission for you…” the commander replied.

The comm-system came to life as the T-65’s message began to play. “Don’t worry, Stave Actual. If I end up meeting up with any pirates, I will knock them over the head. Make sure that you have a chance to say hello.”

“And the scans confirm that is the last – both incoming and outgoing?” asked the Quaestor.

“Affirmative, sir, we are scanning for any further incoming transmissions and will intercept,” the commander said stoutly. “Do you have further instructions?”

The Quaestor stood with his hands clasped behind his back, looking out the viewport of the Vindicator Heavy Cruiser’s bridge. His reverie was broken abruptly from by the commander’s muffled voice.

“Sir…?” asked the commander.

The commander of the bridge approached the Quaestor cautiously, now whispering intensely, “Sir…!”

The Quaestor turned his attention to the commander, but only for a moment DarkHawk walked passed the commander without uttering a word. The commander turned, and, just as he was about to speak, DarkHawk acknowledged his bridge commander.

“Continue all scans, notify House and Clan Summit immediately on anything you intercept. Continue to mask our presence here, commander. Maintain open channels with the Clan fleet, disseminate everything you discover to the Perdition and the Fallen Spear. Hail the Perdition, Commander. I will speak with Summit in my quarters,” DarkHawk said, walking away.

“Affirmative, sir…”

The bridge doors whisked open and DarkHawk exited. Navigating the corridor of the new command ship, DarkHawk’s stride emanated purpose. Many thoughts traversed the Quaestor’s mind, though he focused solely on one. The Collective. DarkHawk could feel the very fibers of his existence being stretched taut. Feeding off those very emotions, DarkHawk and the rest of the Clan had been waiting for this opportunity. It was more than revenge; it was time to sever the head of the Collective.

Walking into his chambers, the Quaestor headed directly to the holo-projector, activating the unit as he came to a halt. In the blink of an eye stood the two translucent figures of Consul, Warlord Bentre Sadow, and Proconsul, Augur Ashia Keibatsu. DarkHawk bowed to his Summit before speaking.

“Everything is in order. T-65 has been destroyed, all radio transmissions are being monitored. We remain undetected,” said DarkHawk.

“Excellent work, Takagari. Is HSD ready?” asked the Proconsul.

“Indeed…”

“Launch your forces, DarkHawk. Show no mercy,” instructed the Warlord.

“For Sadow…” replied DarkHawk.

Flipping another switch, the bridge responded “Yes, sir…”

“Are all HSD channels open, Commander?”

“You have the fleet, sir.”

“Attention, House Shar Dakhan, man all battle stations. We make an immediate jump to Aetheran. All HSD task forces, check in.”

“Task Force Aurek, ready,” replied Privateer Xuner Holst.

“Task Force Dorn, ready,” replied Augur Locke Sonjie.

‘Sir, coordinates are uploaded to NAV-computers. The fleet is ready to commence jump procedures,” replied the bridge commander.

Without hesitation, DarkHawk replied “Commence…”


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Star Courier Panthac
Orian System Edge

“R3 Commence micro jump.” Macron grinned evilly as he regarded his droid. “HK 22, we are inbound for Aeotheran. Finally.” The Star Courier lurched as the ship’s R3 droid computed the jump. There were no stars nearby to color the viewscreens except the system’s sun, which grew from a pinprick to a lambent lamp in an instant.

“Master, will I get to terminate meatbags?” The droid would have twitched with anticipation if it could. HK 22 was not the brightest bulb but his focus on his work was singular.

“Yes. Many of them Twenty-Two. As many as you are able to slaughter, of the enemy of course.” The Sith chuckled and looked towards the cargo hold. Behind him a low growl emanated from a pitch black Sith Hound. Beside the beast sat a group of six of Naga Sadow’s best battle-hardened commandos and enough gear to kill a figurative army. The soldiers were used to working alongside the Force-users among the Clan although the Tukata was still given a wide berth.

“Kintik-Chwuk, you will get to slake your unholy thirsts as well. Our mission is quite clear. We are to land in Seng Karash and create as much havoc as possible.” The Adept looked at the battle-hardened Verpine leader of the commandos. “General Zzz’click, you have your orders. Support us in the mission, demolish their communications, and take out tactical targets as able.”

It will be good to return to our adopted hive… intruders in the nest must be eliminated.” The heavily armed Verpine gestured towards the five human soldiers behind their impassive helmets. “We will.”

“Excellent.” As the ship lurched into realspace, the mountainous globe of Aeotheran hove into view. Macron keyed his comlink on an encrypted channel. “Shar Dakhan Actual, this is the Alchemist. We are in orbit and commencing our landing. Soon the Collective in San Korinar will suffer in agony.”

As the Sith closed the link HK 22 spoke up. “Master, have you forseen it in the Force?”

“No droid. There is no need. What will happen to them is pure rational deduction at this point. They will die, and die horribly. I do not need the Dark Side to tell me that. What I can tell you though is that I and many of our Clan will enjoy every bloody second of it.”

Macron snapshot

General Zzzclk’ik (NPC/altchar) snapshot

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HSD Flagship

En Route to Aeotheran

DarkHawk turned and was surprised to see a dark armoured figure stood immediately in front of him. “Where did you come from and why are you in my chambers?” he demanded.

Malisane gave a slight shrugging gesture.”I go where I am needed Quaestor,” he replied calmly, “I took an oath to serve.”

DarkHawk nodded. “Good, I am sure you will be useful.”

Malisane looked out of the window at the view passing by. “It feels strange to be back here with a Clan fleet,” he said quietly, “I left here in a hurry, with the Collective searching for me. For many years I remained here not knowing the rest of you had been driven out. My life was simple. I lived, I hunted, I meditated and I slept. Before then my life here was one of chaos and discovery. I am not sure which I preferred. It seems so long ago.”

DarkHawk raised an eyebrow. “I am sure you will find something in between.” He was curious about the mysterious Sadow. This was probably the longest conversation the two had undertaken. Malisane appeared rarely when summoned for duty and accepted his orders with a calm confidence, usually only questioning them for extra detail rather than purpose or reason. The rest of the time he avoided others.

“Perhaps,” Malisane replied as he regarded the view.

“Our intelligence suggests the enemy have done extensive rebuilding to the capital since the former Consul’s actions but they appear to have been surprisingly faithful to the original design.” DarkHawk glanced at the former Aeotheran Governor, “I understand you did a lot of the original design yourself?”

Malisane shrugged. “The city existed long before I arrived,” he replied, “I merely rationalised it.”

“I am sure your experience will be useful in the future,” the Quaestor replied, “we will have much work to do once it is back in our hands.”

The other Battelord shook his head. “That Malisane is gone, he died in fire and chaos. I have had long to reflect on his actions. Now I fight and I defend. Other brighter and younger minds will guide the future. That is how it should be.”

DarkHawk considered this. “Well that is your prerogative,” he replied. “We will be arriving soon. You will be be useful I am sure.”
“I will serve where needed Quaestor,” Malisane replied.

“Good,” DarkHawk replied.

Malisane gave a slight bow and left.

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Bridge
Vindicator-Class Heavy Cruiser Phoenix
Near Inos Space

There was something about new ships. The smell of fresh oil, crisply painted bulkheads and new alloys worked its way across Hades’ senses. He would have smiled, ten years ago. Instead, he watched through the transparisteel at the flotilla of house ships arrayed in front of him. Arms behind his back, he turned his eye to the holodisplay, to the Lion.

The holo came across fairly smoothly, the exception being where the visual processor didn’t quite understand how to render his eyes. “We are ready on your mark, Lord Keibatsu.” They had discussed the plan, an at length for several months now, weighing different options, guessing at possibilities, reactions. The Grand Master nodded once.

“You have command, Admiral.” He paused for a second, watching the man. “On your mark.”

Ready Room
Fallen Spear
Near Inos Space

Xolarin grimaced from his chair, the war display showing the flashes as their ships moved to engage, the cold sphere of Tarthos looming broadly behind enemy ships. Tapping his chin, he looked across at the assembled team. The Verpine leader of the Night Hawks, Hilgrif, leaned against the far wall, the light blue of the holoprojector casting his green skin in an eerie tone. Ciara sat directly across from him, leaning forward, eyes transfixed on the display, her fingers pulling up the schematics of the hidden landing zone, a few dozen clicks from the sensor range of the city.

They already knew the plan. Sneak to the planet, use the hidden tunnels to take back the Night Hawk’s center, then move on to the Cathedral, and finally to take command of Kar Alabrek’s anti-aircraft batteries. The first part should be easy. Once they were in the Night Hawk’s base, they’d be able to see a bit more detail. It wouldn’t be until they crawled out from the bowels of the Cathedral that the Collective would even know they were there. The sound of the Spear’s cloaks twisted in their periphery as they slipped though the coming fight, sliding between ships on a course for the surface.

Xolarin leaned back in his chair, all but salivating at the thought of the decades of treasure that lay deep in the Vaults of the Cathedral. The facility had been remade, opening only shortly before the Clan had left Orian. He had been through the feeds, saw what the Krath Lord had shared. Plans, layouts, access tunnels. It was designed to hide in plain sight. A museum, classrooms, galleries, it was a point of pride for high society types in the city. And beneath that veneer, a research facility, a proper base for the house, cold storage for decades of Krath research and replication. Xolarin trembled for a moment, considering the rumor that at the very heart of it all was an ancient temple. He could barely wait. It was within their grasp. He had to have it.

“So…” Ciara cleared her throat, interrupting his thoughts. “Have you ever been to Tarthos?”

Xolarin tightened his jaw for a moment, eyes slipping over to Hilgrif, who shook his head with a twitch of his mandibles. Ciara raised an eyebrow for a moment. The Collective had been a thorn in everyone’s sides, but she hadn’t known how badly. “It’s been about a year and a half, if I remember the briefing.” He responded. “Too long.”

Ciara nodded. “Which means a lot could have changed.”

The silence bloomed into something more resembling anxiety in that moment. Unspoken fears and doubts danced along their nerves as the door slid open. He looked at them, his gaze sliding over each of them slowly, before he stepped toward the holoprojector, fingers keying in commands as the view changed, the skyline morphing and maps shifted somewhat. Xolarin narrowed his eyes, the file date twisting across his mind.

“But…This was last month?” He let his mind race through the possibilities. Spies, loyalists, intercepted transmissions all played out in rapid synapses behind his eyes. “How? Can we trust…”

Muz looked at him, and Xolarin became acutely aware of the sound surrounding them again, the alien hum of the ship’s cloaks. So, that was where he would vanish off to, Xolarin thought to himself.

“Only sometimes.” Muz smiled, turning back to the display, the map updating in real time, only minutes left until final approach.

Three Minutes Later
Bay
Fallen Spear
Redacted, Tarthos

The bay opened up its mouth, as the wind swept in, chilling flesh and chattering teeth despite the heat of the ship. Quick hand gestures flew, and doc bolted forward into the white, the black of his helmet a silhouette before the signal chirped on Muz’s arm. He moved forward quickly, Leena following right behind, flanked by her droids, Koji a half step to the side.

The wind almost took the sound away from them, but they could see the shadow rise. Xolarin gave half a smirk as he stepped out into the ice, making his way to the previously concealed turbolift. Ciara kept pace with him, the tundra whipping her cloak around, caking snow on her dark armor as Hilgrif admonished his droids to not get stuck.

The blast of heat in the turbolift was a welcome reprieve for them all, the doors closing before rocketing them deep underground and toward their fates.

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Turbolift

A soft growling emanated from just to the left of where Kojiro stood; a monstrous hound lay ill at ease near her master’s legs, one paw perched upon the other with her muzzle resting upon it. Sai’rasha briefly rolled her shoulders and shifted the last few inches of snow that had stuck behind her collar. She raised her head, eyes running around the turbolift and took each of the occupants in. The Tuk’ata’s expression said all it needed to, she was not impressed with anyone besides her owner, the Grand Master and perhaps that woman, but even then barely.

“Rest easy, girl. The blood will flow soon,” Kojiro muttered in Ancient Sith at her, the voice altered by the changer turning it something that sounded almost wrong upon the ears, like rusted gears grinding upon one another. The great beast tilted her head and met her master’s mask. “No, you may not eat the bald one and the bug. Though they seem useless, so perhaps later.”

A slight smile curved at the edges of Ciara’s mouth as she listened to the exchange, Muz simply raised an eyebrow and said nothing. The Clone felt something briefly brush against, then grip, before releasing his fingers and his head turned ever so slightly to where Ciara stood beside him against the back wall. She wasn’t even looking his way and her arms were folded across her chest. Kojiro shook his head and brushed the thought aside, a trick of the mind perhaps.

The turbolift descended further and further beneath the surface of the planet. Tarthos, a place he could have done not being returned to after his last encounter and the massacre of those loyal to the Lotus. When he left he was someone and he had returned…well he had no idea what he was anymore nor entirely who he was.

A beeping snapped him out of his memories and he looked towards the front of the Turbolift. The beep was the indicator that they had nearly reached their destination and the Warlord pushed himself away from the wall and rose to his full height. As he did so, Sai’rasha rose with him and came to rest at her master’s heels. Xolarin and the Verpine, whose name Kojiro had spent no time remembering, stood between him and the entrance. He had no desire to be led out of the Turbolift by weaklings and so closed his eyes and let the Force roll out from him in an unseen wave, in part to prepare himself for the coming battle and part to see the reactions of the newcomers.

Several seconds passed before either of the two shifted uncomfortably, a bead of sweat drifting down the human’s forehead. Xolarin turned to look over his shoulder at the source of the discomfort and was met with the Warlord almost pushing him out of the way.

“Move, and get this disgusting creature out of my way.” Kojiro snarled as his bulk passed by the Verpine. The Turbolift doors slid open and before even Muz could react the Warlord had moved out of the lift and into the dark, his hound following as the hunt began in earnest.

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Bridge
Vindicator-Class Heavy Cruiser Phoenix
Near Inos Space

“Sir! The burst transmission from the Fallen Spear has been received. Decoding now.” The comm officer quickly decoded the sensor data and transferred it to Hades’ display. The Marka Ragnos Fleet Admiral studied the sensor logs from the Spear’s infiltration into Tarthos. Of the plans him and the Grand Master had discussed, it looks like a pincer engagement would present the most favorable outcome. The Captain of the Phoenix steps next to Hades. He was not privy to the conversations with the House Summit and could tell the man was hoping for some explanation.

“You see, Captain…The Collective fleet arrayed around Tarthos is manageable but would not be easy. Two Dreadnaughts, a medium cruiser with two starfighter squadrons and a lancer. The plan we are going with will separate our forces with Admiral Pel taking the bulk of the fleet and jumping in to engage the forces at a range of 10km. This gives the enemy time to array themselves accordingly and put that lancer out front so it can intercept fighters. Right about the time they engage Task Force One, with our Vindicator and Strike cruisers, along with all remaining fighter squadrons in the House, hyper in on the Collective’s 6 O’clock and engage their blindsides with little anti-starfighter weapons on the larger ships, they will fall quickly. “

The Captain smirked and nodded. “I like it.”

“Comms. Open a channel to Admiral Pel on the Crucible.” Hades waited until confirmed the channel was open.

“Go ahead, Phoenix.” Pel’s voice was unmistakable. “Admiral, we are going with the pincer engagement. Prepare your task force for your micro jump to get into position.” Hades ordered.

“Understood. Enemy strength?” Hades could tell that his old friend was eager to bring the fight to the Collective once more. He looked down at the sensor log once again.

“On near-side orbit there are two a70 Dreadnaught-class Heavy Cruisers one m50 Strike-class Medium Cruisers and a Lancer-class Frigate. And from what we can see here looks to be one of each on the far side of the planet. But that comes later.” Hades raises his eyes to look out of the viewport once again. All of the House’s ships other than the Phoenix and the Crucible where forming up on his starboard side.

“Understood. Task Force 2 is ready to jump.” Hades nodded his head even though his friend can’t see him.

“Very well. Make your jump. Good luck.” said Hades. A few seconds later, Task Force 2 entered hyperspace.

“Helm. Have you calculated our jump?” The Sith turned around towards his crew.

“Yes, Sir!” He could feel the anticipation in every crew member on this ship. Some of them, this will be their first time in combat. And for some, their last. Hades nodded towards the young lieutenant.

“Very well. Let’s roll.” And with that, Task Force 1 was on its first microjump.

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Star Courier Panthac
Aeotheran Orbit

“Negative. Panthac, hold your position.” The voice that came across the comm from Shar Dakhan command was impassive. “Repeat, hold your position for incoming strike force.”

“Are you kidding me?,” snarled Macron as he watched several defending fighters and Collective ships begin to rise from the atmosphere. “This ship is not a starfighter. We’ll be blasted into bits. R3, evasive maneuvers!” The Star Courier pulled into a tight turn as the planet loomed beneath them. Macron jumped from his chair and pounded the control console.

At that moment all around ships dropped into realspace from a microjump. Capitol ships, Xwings, House Shar Dakhan’s entire battlegroup dropped in. “Panthac, you are clear to land.” Whoops of pure battle lust and the chatter of fighter to capitol ship comm traffic could be heard across the coded channels. The ships looked like a swarm of hornets escaping several angry moving hives.

The Adept sat back down and grinned. “That’s more like it. Darkhawk made his move. We will leave this space battle to the experts. R3, do an electronics blackout and get us down to the outskirts of Seng Karash. I highly doubt they will be paying attention with what’s happening up here. I hope our naval men and women cut those Collective bastards to pieces.”

As the Panthac dropped lances of fire sprung from the newly arrived Dakhan heavy ships to stroke the ground far below. A proper mass of fighters rose from the planet to follow the first light group which was already engaged by Dakhani starfighters.

“Master. If those big ships are destroying the Collective radar and communications sites beneath us, why are we going in?” HK 22 would have looked confused if he had been capable of facial expression.

“Because, you moronic bucket of bolts, the major communication installation is heavily shielded. Planetary power systems can generate far more power than a capital ship. Our battlegroup won’t be able to penetrate it with turbolasers from orbit. Which is where we come in.” The Sith raised an armored fist and pointed it down below. “We land in three. Prepare yourselves. We have to get that post shut down as quickly as possible. General, ready your troopers.”

Copy that.” General Zzzclk’ik turned to his subordinates. “Fire up the landspeeder and the Adept’s speederbike. We are hitting the ground running right out of the gate.”

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Access Tunnels, Extreme Lower Level
A Ways From Cathedral, Tarthos

The lift down to the lower levels of the access tunnels was long and led to colder ground. It was not as cold as it was outside, but much more moist and thus it seemed colder. His armor helped protect him a bit, but only to a certain extent. It was the new war reward armor for the clan, but Xolarin had made some adjustments for his running gear that would let him blend in a bit.

In these tunnels, it did not matter. As the doors began to open, Xol felt uneasy for a strange reason, as if dread had made itself an atmospheric condition rather than an emotion. He wondered if Muz was up to something, but then he remembered reading about Kojiro behind him. The Warlord was not easy to get on with, although Xolarin had not really tried or had the opportunity.

Xolarin was about to move out of the lift when the doors opened when the warlord spoke. “Move, and get this disgusting creature out of my way.”

‘I would have anyways,’ Xol thought to himself. He watched Kojiro and his beast bust out of the lift, making no attempt to disguise themselves. But they were lucky, as when Xolarin reached out with his mind to “see” what he could see, there was nothing in the immediate area.

Xolarin moved ahead of Koji and continued to scan, using his mundane electronics and headgear to aid his own feelings through the Force. He turned his head half-way back and nodded. “We’re clear for now, but this is basically an echo chamber,” he warned.

The group meandered through some of the tunnels, Muz commanding some changes and turns here and there, and Xolarin stopping once in a while as he would pick up someone far above them or some other false positive. Eventually, the group got to its first set of gateways in the tunnels that would either be locked or have alarms triggered on them.

After looking back to Muz with a nod that this was the right way, Xolarin motioned to Hilgrif with his arm. “Your turn, friendo.”

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Hilgrif just slightly shook his head at what Xolarin said like he should start scanning now. Hilgrif has been scanning the hallways and even the lift before he even went in it as the last time a group of Sadowans went underground they ended up blowing off Bentre’s arms because they only used the force to check their surroundings.

Hilgrif then spoke after taking a second look at his scanner saying in a quick manner “no hidden alarms” and then hooked up his datepad and said “this should only take a min”. Hilgrif started to open the first of the hidden gateways to the formal Base of the current battle team he now lead the Night hawks.

Hilgrif then sent a Quick command with the force to Shroud who had been in the back of the group “Shroud stop looking up info on the madman and his pet and check with the hive and the ship and see if any other night hawks have engaged in combat as I would hate to lose my first command because they trusted the force to much and remember to send any imported news though are personal channel.”

Hilgrif also was slightly humored at the fact that even after all this time people always forget about the droids in the background. After a few secs the gateway opened up and hilgrif gave a slight bow to Muz and said “after you boss” and at the same time thinking, if I missed something Muz can deal with it.
https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com/members/15510/snapshots/2112/3929

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https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com/members/359/snapshots/2117/3937

Access Tunnels, Extreme Lower Level
Level 9, Kar Alabrek, Tarthos

Muz didn’t take the invitation. In fact, he hadn’t moved at all save for a nearly imperceptible nod in Ciara’s direction. Yet, in the split second that the Verpine had lowered his gaze in deference to the Grand Master, reality had shifted. His scanners and his instincts having apparently failed him, Hilgrif lifted his head to find a small crew of men and a flurry of red bolts streaking toward him. Leaping back with a chittered Verpine curse, Hilgrif attempted to fire his own blaster rifle reactively into the fray, but something harder had already knocked him to the ground.

When his antennae stopped buzzing, Hilgrif became keenly aware that the excited breath of the madman’s beast had replaced any sound of a firefight. Three rows of teeth and punishing horns reflected off the Verpine’s black eyes – their approach tenuously stayed by a gesture from Kojiro.

“Miss something, Hilgrif?” The low rumble emanated from Muz, echoing back his own thoughts. “Perhaps if you did not rely so much on the Force to … deal with … your oversights, hm?”

Hilgrif fumed. He had not actually missed anything, of course, other than the illusion itself – there was no more a crew of soldiers behind those doors than there was anything resembling a Hive mentality in this band of Sith. Even so, he dared not retort, shifting his frustration instead to the master of the beast that still loomed over him.

“Get this thing off me before –”

“I wouldn’t finish that sentence.” It was Ciara’s warning voice that interrupted and her hand that directed the invisible Force that pinned a reaching appendage to the ground. Darkening emeralds locked briefly with the tensed Keibatsu. “As much as I enjoy a good blood bath, I’m not sure a Verpine’s would be quite as satisfying – particularly when we have so much more to look forward to.”

“Then let us stop wasting time.” The brusque reply rumbled through the Warlord’s modulator as he stalked through the opened entry to continue a course he knew well, the Tuk’ata following close on his heels.

Ciara took one more look at Hilgrif and the protocol droid that had moved to his side when the beast departed. “Your erratic behavior made Sai’rasha think you were prey, Knight – try not to confirm it by underestimating that which separates you from the vermin we’ve come to purge from this world.”

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Nearing Communications Center
Seng Karash
Aeotheran

At the speed they were traveling shouted conversation was useless. The General and the five commandos with him in the landspeeder communicated over internal comlinks with the Adept and the HK droid on the speederbike. They had donned Collective gear taken from the recent battles in the Lyra-K-Alpha system. “Almost there,” came the now-disguised Verpine general’s comlink transmission. The Sith Hound was nowhere to be seen. Several packages were tossed at measured intervals from the side of the landspeeder by the troopers.

“Agreed. Kintik-Chwuk will meet us inside. My Tu’kata has some business to attend to on the other side.” Macron kicked the overdrive in as the group circled. Around them in parts of the city turbolaser fire had impacted lesser targets already. Smoke and the smell of burning electronics filled the night air and provided an obscuring haze in the darkness.

The droid chimed in. “Master, will we…”

“Shut up 22. Get that heavy repeater ready to play with our new friends. The Collective are no fools. They know how to fight Force-users like myself. But assassin droids, hardened commandos and a Tukata, maybe not as well. General?” The Sith touched his neck to trigger the suit comlink as he looked over at the landspeeder.

They are in position Adept. Detonating the fake mines now…” The mysterious packages that the commandos had dropped along the way exploded at their set locations when the Verpine triggered them remotely. The explosions were all flash and very little bang, but they pumped out billowing clouds of sickly green self-luminous gases that appeared toxic. They did no harm but were sure to catch the Collective’s attention. Zzz’click was an expert in explosives and it had been child’s play to rig up some colorful distractions.

“Excellent. They will think they’ve been gas-shelled.” The Sith frowned. A decade ago he had been personally responsible for using a horrid flesh-dissolving bioweapon against people on this planet, and one other world. Hundreds had died. Perhaps more. Most had been enemies but some had been allies and civilians. The Collective surely knew of it and would react accordingly. Macron disliked using such duplicity but it was certain to draw their attention away.

“Master, didn’t you once use a real bioweapon like that?” The HK droid shouldered it’s heavy blaster as they dismounted. “Bad stuff, I heard about it in the planetary data records you gave me.” Ahead of them the commandos moved quietly towards the secondary egress hatch with explosive charges at the ready to blow it open.

There it was, The Question. Like his own personal twelve-armed demon come to torment. “Yes 22. It was done when I thought mass destruction was true power. But I came to learn that it is not. As a Sith it is a dishonorable and cowardly way to kill your enemies. You gain nothing from it. Do not ask again.”

Macron drew an unlit lightsaber hilt and clipped his helm plate into place. The Adept took a deep breath and felt within himself, delving into the deep and unbridled hatred he felt for the invaders that had usurped their homes. It swelled in his heart with anger, darkness, and the burning shame he felt at using the Violator gas so long ago. His blood-curdling shout echoed along with the explosions of the hatch being penetrated. “FOR SADOW!”

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