A read-only archive of discourse.darkjedibrotherhood.com as of Sunday May 01, 2022.

(Night Hawks) The Heart of Coruscant



**Yesterday **
**Auxillary Level 9, Subsector 3 **
Kar Alabrek, Tarthos

The whirring of computers cycling up and hologram projectors stirred in the otherwise silent room. Pale light came from flickering overhead chemical lights, warming up before they could cast their light on the thick blast doors and over-engineered walls of the hidden base.

“Overkill is underrated.” Marcinius chuckled as he watched the heavy door slide shut behind him. Even the hallway to the facility designed with areas for cover fire, funnelling any potential threat into a killing field. He smiled as he turned around, walking toward the display. The violet glow of the holo casting eerie shadows on his face, on the faces of the Lion, his Queen, and Bukhari. The Wookiee, the Gambler the Madman and the Berzerker watched on through the holonet, their forms flickering with the blue ether of holoprojectors.

A hand motioned, and tendrils of the Force leapt from his fingers, controlling the main display, the light rearranging itself to tell the story to all of them. Marcinius had seen this holo before. Surveillance footage of the woman, tattooed in crimson and sable. Scars and thin tendrils of flesh dangled at her cheeks, somehow reminiscent of legends heard long ago. He had watched this too many times, memorizing every movement, every step and breath as she hacked her blade through soldier after soldier, tearing them apart before the feed broke apart like the armor of the Nephilim did. There was steel in his gaze as he turned his attention back to the man.

Darth Ira.

All he had was a name and that holo. Everything else was rumor, legend, mist.

Until now. Muz motioned again, and the holo flickered, showing data streams from the core worlds. New feeds popped up, surveillance footage showing the same face deep inside of hooded cloaks among the skyscrapers of Corsucant.

A million questions sprung from his mind, thoughts hurried and unfinished, but discipline kept them behind his teeth. Why she was on Coruscant, when rumor said that Coruscant had been devastated, how many did she have with them, did they know where she was going, how would they catch her from across the galaxy. Discipline. There was a plan. There was always a plan.

The Lion looked at him and nodded once, then turned to projector again. “Three days, be here.” The words had gravity to them, drawing their attention immediately. “Our hunt begins.”

**Today **
**Kuroshin Castle **

He stood at the edge of stone, predatory eyes staring into the valley, seeing everything and looking at nothing. The blossoms were starting to unfurl from their slumber deep within the branches. Ferns sent forth their shoots, reaching for the warmth of the sun from below the soil. The soil that was once it’s father, it’s grandfather and its entire ancestry. It grew from the corpses of those that came before it.

The difference between death and dirt is time.

Muz looked down, his hands on the battlement. The stones were made by the earth, shaped by men, and were slowly being taken by wind. He let the sense reach him, the coldness of the winter not yet passed still dwelling in the heart of the stone. Smooth, polished by time and air, fragments chipping away to the earth below, no doubt to be eventually flake into soil. Lifetimes from now, maybe it would become compressed into stone again. He tapped a finger, then straightened his back, turning to walk the path toward one of the towers.

Everything was a cycle. The first time he lit a blade in anger was against a Sith. The memories flew through his mind, a miasma of color and light. Cor An-Jin. His plans were shortsighted, brutal. Inefficient. He fell, but not easily. His eyes still bore the scars from that duel, the scorched orbs driving fear, sometimes appropriately, into those who saw him. Muz let the breeze carry the scents of the valley over him, pausing to think. He hunted Sith then, much as he hunted the Sith now.

He felt along the threads of the world, the ties that bound everything together. The Force sang to him, a web of connections that one only had to trace to create, to influence, to rend asunder. He felt the soldiers, deep below inside the fortress. He felt Blackwind, his pilot, off in the courtyard smoking. Three days, he had given them. It was an imposed calm to ready them for the madness.

He knew what came next.

The difference between death and dirt is time.


Yesterday - Aeotheran
34 ABY
Pandaemonium Penthouse Floor 117.

Raistlin awoke, startled. He turned in both directions and immediately reached out with the Force, attempting to sense any immediate threat. Finding none, he let out a distinct sigh of relief. Sun shone clearly through his penthouse apartment high above the resort/hotel of Pandaemonium, and he wondered how long he had been out for.

“System, what time is it local?” Raist asked groggily, to which a computerized female voice responded back immediately.

“Current time is Eleven Fifty-five, local time. Current temperature is Eighty-six degrees with relative ambient humidity of forty percent. Wind gusts are…”

“System, off!” Raist sharply responded, as the voice fell silent. Sometimes more information could be a dangerous thing. In this instance; being not even a minute removed from waking had left Raist’s mind dull, unable to process more than what was asked for.

“Less is more,” he muttered, to nobody in particular as he set about to making himself something to drink. He had been here for almost a week, after spending nearly 3 onboard the INT Abyss. With results being less than stellar, at least in his mind, he was happy for the chance to relax and regroup. While they had captured a lot of cargo, and a few merchant ships to be pressed into service once refitted, it wasn’t anywhere near the scope and scale of what Raistlin was used to. The last ship, a YT-2400, he simply had to ignite his lightsaber and make some threats before the captain and small crew gave up with no resistance. Certainly a far step removed from single-handedly capturing a Frigate.

He stretched and yawned in his living room as he glanced around for some casual wear. Finding a pair of sandals and a t-shirt he quickly dressed and made his way over to the table situated neatly in the center of the room. With deft precision, Raist began to roll up a cigarra and a few moments later, he was leaning against the balcony which ran along the outside of his penthouse apartment, enjoying the breeze and the near-perfect weather as he took a long drag, letting out an audible cough to anybody within range.

His last real combat sortie had been during the now-infamous Battle of Nfolgai. Injured, and beaten back, Naga Sadow had yielded only when down to their last man. Raist, being that last man, had to be carried off the battlefield by droids as the combined forces of the Brotherhood bore down on Naga Sadow’s last fortified position on the planet. He could still taste the blood on his lips, smell the sulfur and ozone in the air, and he heard the explosions. Always the explosions. He heard them internally as his bones shattered from intense combat and externally as orbital bombardment and sustained artillery fire pounded their base of operations. Had it not been in their programming to retreat, Raist might not even be alive and as he relived that nightmare scenario once more in his mind, a shiver ran through his body, despite the warm temperatures outside. Another long drag… another long exhale, another series of rapid, loud coughs followed. As his eyes watered, he put the cigarra down on the railing of the balcony, for he desired a moment’s reprieve, but instead found none.

The doorbell rang, and Raistlin stared at it, unmoving, momentarily startled. Was he expecting visitors? He racked his brain for answers, and finding none, called out. “Just a minute!” he yelled as he searched around. After a tense few moments, he found the DL-21 where it always was, glued to a holster upside-down in a end table in his living room. Raist grabbed the pistol and pointed it directly in front of him, using his left hand to touch the door pad to allow access.

Sel screamed as she found herself not even an inch away from a blaster pistol directly to her face. Composing herself after a few moments she sarcastically remarked “Nice to see you again too, Raist.” She reached out, and lowered the blaster pistol’s muzzle before lowering her shoulder and walking past the threshhold leading into his apartment. Despite giving up nearly a foot in height, and weighing significantly less, she found little resistance, and moved the Grey Jedi aside with relative ease.

As she walked in Raist stared at her quizzically. “You asked me to discuss the last quarter of business with you at the resort, don’t you remember?” she asked. Raist simply shrugged, before flopping down on his couch. Before either of them could open their mouths, a distinct, red buzzing noise emanated from Raistlin’s bedroom.

“Excuse me, one second.” He said, before retreating to his room. The only people who had access to that line were higher ups in the Clan. The importance of the message was magnified, when the shrunken image of Grand Master Muz Ashen appeared on his holoprojector. “Three days. Be here.” Muz said before pausing ominously. “Our hunt begins.” With that, the image faded away, leaving Raistlin to ponder the meaning. When he had met with Muz over a month ago and agreed to aid him in his cause, Raist knew the time would come soon. But today, here, now, he almost felt like not going. To turn down the Grand Master would be to refuse his brother. He owed the man more then that. With a long, audible sigh, Raist returned to the main room.

“Are you leaving again?” Sel asked, already knowing the answer before the words left her mouth. He nodded, and pushed a hidden button in a recess in the wall, which immediately caused panels of his wall to slide away. It revealed a storeroom. Combat armor, lightsabers, weapons and gadgets hung neatly in racks all around him as he entered, Raist grabbed a duffel bag off the shelf and immediately began grabbing items he thought he would need.

“Business can wait,” Raist said, pausing slightly. “It’s time to return to war.”


Level 13
Cenota Facility
Gamuslag, Sepros Orbit
Orian System

Strident lights glared down upon the laboratory facilities. The usual clatter and clink of bubbling glassware had been replaced by the low thrum of a crystal furnace in operation. The metallic stench of burning slag filled the air as Macron gazed through a viewport. “Almost done, the cake’s almost done…” giggled the madman. “Time for dessert!” The Alchemist smiled as he rubbed his hands over the latest iteration of a Sith battle suit that he wore. The research in the Tombs of Orian had paid off in droves.

A chime sounded and the madman switched off the power to the furnace and opened the hatch. The heat was immense and scorched his eyebrows as he reached inside with a pair of durasteel tongs and lifted a mass of blackened carbon and dross from the forge. A quick tap of the glassy mass on the edge of the table cracked it open like an egg. Macron waited impatiently for the contents to cool and then placed them inside a padded container that lay next to the forge.

Inside the container rested four glittering red gems. Two were synthetic adegans forged from micro-crystals gleaned from the tunnels deep below the surface of Inos Moon 42. Two more were perfect red pontite adegans that had been corrupted by Sith alchemy. Next to them lay two lightsabers with their crystal chambers open. Macron closed his eyes and let the hate flow through him. The two tainted pontite crystals slowly levitated as a sweat broke out on the madman’s brow. The twin scarlet prisms slowly settled into the crystal chambers of the open lightsaber chassis to join their brethren inside. The parts of the saber slowly slid together with a click of finality.

This was the moment. The twin blades, one orange, one red would either fail to ignite, detonate, or work properly. Up until now the process of crafting a dual-phase lightsaber had eluded the madman completely. Hints of success from others had tantalized him and driven him forward in his research. In each hand he raised a hilt. If it was to be death by detonation, so be it. Mastery of fear was implicit in Sith doctrine.

“Zhol Kash Dinora!” {It Is done!} The madman cried aloud in the Sith language as he thumbed the power switches. Both blades ignited. A flip of his thumbs changed the settings as the new crystals slid into place to modify the beam. The tangerine lightsaber deepened to a dark vermilion color as the blade lengthened. The second blade remained scarlet as it shortened and condensed with a shift in sound to a higher pitch.

“Hahaha!” The madman shouted in delight as his comm signal bleeped. “Sonofabitch,” Macron growled. “Yes?”

“This is Muz. Do you have them?” The image wavered as the deep-space signal was relayed down into the guts of Gamuslag.

“I do Lord Ashen. The matrix is quite unlike a common synth-crystal. The trace elements are also unique to the deposits on Inos 42. They will read as ancient given they were forged from material culled from the Tombs. These synthetic crystals should fetch a pretty penny from a collector.” Macron grinned. “Hopefully our contacts can connect the bait to the buyer.”

“Good work. They will sweeten the pot. Bring them when you come then. I’m looking forward to this hunt as I am sure you are.” The scenery behind him was indistinct but appeared to be Kyataran. “It has been some time.”

“Indeed,” cackled the madman. “I can hardly wait. Thanks for the tips on the blade adjustments.”

“Don’t mention it. I will see you at Kar Albarek. Bring plenty of toys and your usual… enthusiastic attitude.” The holoprojector signal closed as the taciturn Grandmaster ended the connection.


Auxillary Level 9, Subsector 3
Kar Alabrek, Tarthos

The Lion stood motionless across the holoprojector table from the doorway, eyes as black as space passively observing them as they came in. His mind pieced together his plans, building contingency plan upon contingency plan. There was too much at stake. It was, after all, a hunt. Spring too early, you show your hand, the target escapes, and you spend too much time and energy trying to catch it across the galaxy. Too long, and you run the risk of losing everything.

The Nightsister smiled at him, her face painted in a slight shadow smile, the traditional warpaint of her kind not fully applied yet. She slipped a datacube into the projector, showing surveillance footage of a thriving club in the core. She froze the playback, manipulating the feed to zoom in on the tattooed Sith. She smiled wickedly, the expression seeming to be emphasized by the warpaint on her face.

One, you lock the target.

The Madman crossed the threshold, carrying a case with him, sliding up to the battle coordination table, the case sliding in front of one of the projector lenses, cutting off a bit of the display hovering overhead. He smiled, a toothy grin beneath his visored helmet. Spinning the case around to face the Lion, he opened the case, showing off the foam lining that protected the slivers of crystals within. The Lion looked at them and idly wondered how effective they would be in one of his own tools. They glowed slightly, the tumescence of power echoing across each other in the dim light of the facility. Their very creation in the Madman’s labs, was designed for this purpose.

Two, you bait the line.

The Gambler leaned against one of the walls, idly drawing a blaster from one of his thigh holsters, spinning it and then reholstering it. The old Sadow was an old school Obelisk, as lethal with his wit as he was with a weapon.

The Beserker came through the entry next, the heavy soled boots of his armor resounding against the floor. Maelous was Sith, one of the Madman’s students, and just as broken, albeit differently. He was a weapon, a tool of destruction, and the fire that burned behind his eyes seemed to tell of his desire to lose himself in combat, to risk everything, addicted to the adrenaline of risk.

The Soldier looked up from his rifle, fingers tightening the final screws on the sling before swinging it overhead, letting it drape across the armor of his chest. Marcinius had known the Force, but he bled that toxin out with his old name on Dentavii Prime. He had trained like a man possessed since then, earning his way into the Nephilim and then the attention of the Grand Master. Where there was fire in the beserker’s eyes, there was ice in Marcinius. He could not rely on his rage, so he had to trust in something else.

Three, you slowly spread the net.

The Hollow came from the barracks, long strides taking her to the edge of the room, turning to watch and wait. She had lost almost everything already, from family to riches. It was at the point of despair where she found herself, where most would have been crushed, she found strength, found purpose. She watched the holo change, the image of Darth Ira shrinking off to a corner as the Lion stepped forward.

“Coruscant.” He spoke, hands clasped behind him. “Gilmarin facility. If you need coordinates, comm Blackwind.” He turned, the invisible hand of the Force deactivating the table as he stepped away, the datacube floating after him as he walked toward the door.

Gilmarin was a luxury gemcutter Muz had acquired a decade ago, when he was Herald. Their show room in one of the many high-rises of Coruscant’s expensive commercial district also held two floors of executive apartments, with discrete and separate entrances. It was a bit more posh than most expected, but it was serviceable, and a good place to start.

Macron chuckled, the vocoder corrupting the sound into something eerie as he closed his case, spinning it into his waiting hands. Maelous nodded at him, a show of courtesy, former apprentice to master, and the only other Sith on the team. Marcinius stepped forward, looking at one, then the other.

“Let’s ride.”

Four, you catch the man.


Auxillary Level 9, Subsector 3
Kar Alabrek, Tarthos

Raistlin couldn’t help but size the room up as Muz went over the last details of the op. Some, like the Lion, Ash, and his longtime ally and comrade Macron; he considered brothers. Warriors who had fought on battlefields side by side, always to the detriment of their enemies. Raist could trust them with his life. Others… Namely Maelous and the Hollow, he could only guess as to their true intentions or ends. No matter what else happened during this mission, Raist would be sure to keep a very close eye on them. If he was going to work with operators, there was no chance it would be with those who are unable to pull their own weight. Whether they knew it or not, their stakes would be high from the Gambler’s perspective. Raist smirked at the codename he had been given, but then mulling it over, thinking of its weight and the inflection that Muz had spoken it with. The names were chosen for a reason, of that the Seer could be certain. Nothing the Grand Master did was without purpose, seeming or not. He knew all too well of Muz’s penchant for making feints, ploys and double moves, all in an effort to keep his enemies from guessing his true intentions. His time on the Council made it a necessity.

Which brought his gaze around the dais and to the Nightsister and Marcinius. Muz finished speaking and the crew began to stand and make for the exits. Teu he knew and could trust as a competent combatant. While Raist had never fought with Marcinius, the man knew of the Gambler very well. His D-SOG exploits were the stuff of legends, and Raist, Ashura, and a few others became known as fearless operators. Needless to say, the two men had a mutual respect for one another

Raist quickly ran after Marcinius, and caught up to him in the hallway. A tap on the shoulder and the Soldier turned around to see Raistlin, hand outstretched in front of him in greeting.

“Commander,” Marcinius said nodding. Raist smirked and clasped his outstretched hand warmly. “None of that nonsense here, call me Raist.” He paused to catch his breath before continuing. “Listen, I’m going to need a hand on Coruscant with… A few things…” He trailed off and pointed to the blaster at Marcinius’ side.

“Know how to use one of those?” Raist asked.

Marcinius didn’t respond for a few moments as Raist wondered if the humor was lost on him. Suddenly the Soldier dropped his hand to his holster, causing the two to be engaged in a blaster standoff less then a meter apart. Ashia; who came out of the hallway behind them gasped audibly.

“Is it this end to shoot?” Marcinius asked, “I always forget.” He said, deadpan. Raist immediately dropped his weapon and a big smile crept across his face.

“We’re good. Care to join me to Coruscant? I’ll explain what we’re up to on the way.” Raist asked. The Soldier nodded and added “Just need to grab some things from my ship, I’ll meet you in the hangar at yours.”

As he strode off, the Gambler hoped he made the right call.