Team Maelstrom roster:
Andrelious J. Mimosa-Inahj #1653
Dek Ironius II #6352
Rian Taldrya #10701
Alara Deathbane #12681
Kookimarissia Mimosa-Inahj #13714
Lexiconus Qor #13880
Justinios Drake #14825
Team Maelstrom roster:
Andrelious J. Mimosa-Inahj #1653
Dek Ironius II #6352
Rian Taldrya #10701
Alara Deathbane #12681
Kookimarissia Mimosa-Inahj #13714
Lexiconus Qor #13880
Justinios Drake #14825
200 light years from Brotherhood space
Interstellar space was usually among the calmest places in the galaxy. In this particular location, however, a trio of ships had decided to interrupt that calm.
The largest of the ships was a JV-7 Escort Shuttle. It sat in the middle of the three, as if it were a parent watching the other two ships, both old Z-95 Headhunters, as they ran around playing.
In the cockpit of the Shuttle, Andrelious J. Mimosa-Inahj relaxed in the pilot’s chair.
“Right. We’ll start with the basics. If you’re both as good as I’m told you are, these moves should be simple. You first, Drake,” Andrelious commanded.
Justinios Drake smirked. It was never very easy for an Aleena to fly a starfighter, especially without extensive modifications, but Dinaari’s newest recruit was determined to prove himself worthy of Andrelious’ advanced flying lessons.
The Dinaari Aedile watched on as Drake easily completed the first task. He was very pleased that he had managed to find two candidates for his lessons in such short time. With Taldryan’s fleet devastated, the Sith had taken it upon himself to begin training a new generation of pilots, starting with Force sensitive members of the Clan itself. Justinios Drake wasn’t an ideal candidate, but the numbers were just not on Andrelious’ side. He had to take anyone he could.
“Excellent, Drake. Now, Trismal, your turn. Just do the same as you just saw Drake do,” the Aedile ordered.
Drent Trismal was a young Sith who was showing decent potential so far. Andrelious fully expected him to be able to handle the manoeuvres without much issue, but Trismal’s problem was one of being much too confident. In the early theory lessons, the older Human had already tried to tone this down, but Andrelious was still a little concerned that Trismal was going to get himself killed.
“So are those kids of yours watching me?” Trismal questioned.
Poppy and Etty were in the back of the Shuttle with Kooki. From what Andrelious could sense, his wife was giving them a lesson of their own in basic Force techniques.
“Just get on with it, Trismal. This is about survival. If you’d wanted to show off, you could have stayed on Coruscant!” Andrelious snapped.
Trismal obeyed. He pulled off the moves that were asked of him with a little more finesse than his co-trainee.
“Good work, Trismal. Now, we’ll move on to something a little more advanced,”
Andrelious was interrupted by the arrival of a dozen TIE Defenders. Their hulls were entirely painted a deep shade of red.
“Isn’t this a little soon to be fighting against those?” Justinios questioned.
“We need to leave. Now. Those ships are the Crimson Knives. Not a training exercise!” Mimosa-Inahj yelled.
The TIE Defenders were not in the mood for conversation. They bore down on the three Taldryan ships, remaining in tight formation even as they turned.
“Now! And don’t go back to the rest of the Clan! The Knives would wipe us out!” Andrelious warned.
Kooki wandered through to the shuttle’s cockpit. “What is all this yelling about? Who are the Crimson Knives?” she queried.
“Right now we need to get away. I’m going to just hyper randomly until we shake them. Then I’ll contact the Clan,” Andrelious answered, not turning from his station.
“I’ve got a better idea. We can meet with Rian. He’s on Concordia with his family. Let’s get his help!” Kooki ordered.
“Justinios, plot a course to Concordia! You too, Trismal. I’ll cover you until you’re clear!” Andrelious instructed.
Justinios banked his craft away, but to the Dinaari Aedile’s horror, Trismal turned towards the Crimson Knives.
“I’ve got them! A squadron of TIE Defenders is nothing compared to the Force!” Trismal cried. His Headhunter closed into laser range, and the young Sith fired. His laser blast hit one of the enemy formation.
That idiot’s just doomed himself! Andrelious thought.
Sure enough, the Crimson Knives broke formation, easily surrounding Trismal. With vastly superior craft, greater numbers, and most importantly, better pilots, there was only going to be one winner and Trismal’s ship barely lasted ten seconds as the enemy fired with near perfect synchronisation.
“Drake! Go! NOW!!!” Andrelious demanded as the Crimson Knives resumed their approach.
Justinios, shocked from how easily Trismal had fallen, didn’t need to be asked again. The Aleena hypered away, his ancient Headhunter groaning a little as it was pushed beyond the speed of speed of light.
Poppy and Etty entered the cockpit, wondering where their mother had gone.
“Hang on, girls!” the former Imperial shouted.
Andrelious pulled on his flight stick. An Escort Shuttle was far from the most manoeuvrable craft he had ever flown, but years of experience gave the Dinaari Aedile a fighting chance.
“Well? Punch it!” Kooki ordered.
Ignoring his spouse, the ex-Imperial waited until the Crimson Knives were in range of the shuttle’s lasers.
“Remember I had these lasers modified?” Andrelious stated, pushing the fire button.
The ship shook a little as three heavy bolts of plasma were fired from the forward facing laser cannons. The Crimson Knives scattered, but Andrelious had timed his shot perfectly. The lasers hit one of the TIE Defenders, its shield collapsing.
Kooki had seen enough. She reached over her husband’s shoulder, pushing the hyperdrive activation lever.
The stars became streaks of light as the Mimosa-Inahj family ship entered hyperspace, leaving the Crimson Knives in its wake.
“So. You going to tell me who the Crimson Knives are?” Kooki questioned.
“I’ll explain once we get to Concordia. I don’t fancy having to tell the story more than once,” Andrelious answered coolly. He was annoyed that Kooki had denied him revenge
“Come on, girls. Let’s get back to making blocks float.” Kooki sighed.
“Bocks! Bocks!” the twins cooed in unison.
Somewhere in Unknown Space….
“So these Crimson Knives m’lord, are they not loyal to the throne?” Lexiconus Qor asked, unsure of what to make of the information.
“They are loyal to their dying breath and would give anything to serve the throne, but the community in that area is not. The information they have is invaluable, as it contains the last known location of Taldryan rebels, we need that information. The natives have resisted our plantations for weeks, be careful.” The shrouded hologram said, as an air of authority came from his words. The trio knew to respect the Inquisition, and their orders.
“Failure is not an option,” The hologram shut itself down and left the shuttle in darkness. The trio, Dek, Alara and Lexiconus, all took a moment to understand this information. Then the Quarren returned to the droid piloting the ship and stared out into the streaming lights of hyperspace.
“I trust the Voice gave you the coordinates for this job?” He asked their robotic companion, who replied affirmatively with a whistle. The shuttle quickly yanked and slowed from its trajectory, as the starry skies of space revealed itself, and the jungle planet below. It was unknown to the crew, not chartered on any map. The Dark Council preferred it that way.
Swirling through the cloud and humid air, the shuttle pulled its wings up and extended the landing gear, as it lowered itself onto the registered Brotherhood base. With a sharp hiss, the ramp extended and Alara stormed out, her dual yellow lightsabers snatched and igniting into her hands.
“Let me kill some natives, I want to taste their blood and laugh at their attempts!” She roared out, her tongue sliding across her upper lip as her eyes darted across the space port. Dek wasn’t phased by her gruesome insults and approached her with a smile, tapping her shoulder.
“Put the weapons away, there’s simply no one here. Not even TIE ships. Lexic, what’s going on?” The Human asked his Quarren Quaestor. His sapphire eyes scanning the scene, Lexiconus froze in his place and hesitated.
“I don’t know, my friend, but it doesn’t look or feel correct. Maybe we missed something?” He said, questioning whether this was a trap by the natives or the Council. As she deactivated her lightsaber, Alara roared out impatiently and struck Lexiconus in the shoulder. He dived onto the floor and held his arm, his face scrunching in agony.
“Oh hurry up you weaklings! I am not standing around all day waiting for them to attack us! There’s information in there that we need, and you’re not helping to steal it!” Her voice raised into a full shout as she stormed towards the hangar doors. Dek aided Lexiconus to his feet and sheepishly followed behind her.
“You know, she is right,” Dek commented, but Lexiconus simply mumbled in his native tongue and obediently followed Alara. Inside the space port, they came to a large communications lounge, with consoles lining the walls. From the corner of his eye, Lexiconus noticed a console flashing, with the words Download Complete. Alara also noticed it and looked around for a datastick.
“Dek, see if you can get into that download, check if it’s ours.” Lexiconus asked, as Dek sat and fiddled with the console. With a sigh, he leaned back and shook his head.
“Alright, Alara get the droid in here. Time to do some slicing,” He asked. Alara wasted no time, she rushed out the automatic doors and within minutes, carried the small astromech droid under her arm. With a hard clunk, the droid was dropped onto his feet and shoved against the console terminal. He whirred and beeped with annoyance, but Dek patted him and nodded.
“This sooner we get this, the faster we can leave this hell hole for our mission. Where are the coordinates?” Dek asked the droid. Its appendage plugged into the console, turning clockwise then anti-clockwise as he hacked the system. On the screen, a galactic map appeared that slowly zoomed in until the screen showed a planet. Concordia. Alara saw the planet and frowned.
“Mandalorians? How did the Crimson Knives know they were going there!” Her question was more of a shout, but both Dek and Lexiconus also had the same questions. There was something off about this company of fighters the Council was not telling them. His train of thought was interrupted as the Force prodded for his attention at the window. His eyes quickly looked up to see rows of native men, armed with E-11 rifles and ready to blast them away.
“Get down!” Lexiconus shouted, as he dropped to the floor and covered his head. Dek immediately did the same but Alara had enough of secrecy. Igniting her dual lightsabers, the Human roared out with glee and charged. Breaking the window, her lightsabers crossed in front of her and deflected the blasters aside. Her primal rage weaving her attacks through the natives, she let out a sickening laugh while decapitating a head. Dek and Lexiconus slowly rose to a crouch and looked at each other.
“Leave her, we’ve got the information in the droid, it’s time to find Concordia and why there’s rebels there,” Dek said, as he led Lexiconus through the back of the base. His feet catching on wires and the corners of the consoles, he wasn’t the quietest of the sneaking men, but he didn’t need to be.
“Shouldn’t we inform Rian that we are en route to him?” Andrelious asked over his shoulder.
“We got plenty of time to do so, hopefully playing who has the bigger one hasn’t allowed them to track our course.”
“They surely won’t.” The male Sith said confidentially folding his arms before his chest.
Streaks of light turned into white spots dotting the blackness of space as the two ships left the unreal tunnel of hyperspace.
“Ok Justinios, bank your ship to 157 mark 43 and take position on my right.” Andrelious instructed the Aleena Journeyman.
“Copy Master Aedile.” Justinios replied over the comm, angling his Z-95 as he was ordered before falling in position slightly behind the right wing of the Aedile’s shuttle.
“Any word from Rian yet?”
"No, but I am sure he won’t refuse to aid – " Kookimarissia was interrupted by the shuttles proximity sensors.
“Picking up four ships on an intercept course.” Came the voice of Justinios over the comm. “Crimson Knife?”
“I don’t think so Drake, but stay sharp just in case.”
Moments later a flight of white-and-gray fighters with rotating wings brushed past them, turning before closing in again from behind.
“Shuttle Tseb’si’tsaerb III we have been ordered to escort you to Concordia, assume a flight position behind me and follow my lead. Any disobey to this order will cause your destruction.” The leading pilot ordered.
Unlike the planet it orbited, Concordia was a world of rich greens dotted with cities that once served the colony’s lone purpose: mining. Led by the Mandalorian fighters, Andrelious and Drake put down on their designated landing pads between hangars and other structures. Technicians and other personnel were everywhere in evidence, repairing damaged craft, running tank hoses to the recently landed crafts to refuel them. At least this part of the base was a hive of activity. One of the tech teams was hard at work on Drake’s Z-95 chatting with the small sized pilot as he descended from the cockpit.
Standing hidden in the shadows of a nearby hangar, Rian Taldrya stood eyed the scene waiting for the Mimosa-Inahj’s to leave their shuttle. Next to him stood the Sergeant of a Mandalorian Special Forces team, just in case the situation revealed itself to be nothing more than a trap to catch the Taldrya.
Rian relaxed when he finally saw the Dinaarian Aedile striding down the landing ramp of his shuttle trailed by his wife and their children. A slight smile on his lips, the Quaestor left the shadow and strode over to his comrades.
“Andrelious, Kookimarissia, I am glad you are still alive.” The Quaestor greeted the other Equites.
“But only barely Rian. Is there a place we can discuss things.” Andrelious replied, heading straight for business.
“Sure, this way.” Rian pointed at a nearby speeder.
"Drake, come over here."
Hearing his name, the Aleena, who was still caught in chatting with the Mandalorian techs, turned and dashed for the others, barely forgetting to thank the techs for taking care of his craft.
Settled deep in the native vegetation, the military academy’s command hub was staffed by guards and training groups following their daily routine. They readily recognized the Taldrya, however, who had no difficulty proceeding through every security station bringing his allies with him.
When they arrived at an antechamber, they found two aged men dressed in highly decorated military uniforms conversing with a handful of other senior officers. Stopping their conversation when the group entered the room they all looked over. Without hesitating, Rian moved directly to them.
“Uncle Arden, may I ask if we could make use of your office to discuss some things in private?”
“Sure, we are done with discussing the training schedules anyway.”
“Alright, this way then.” Rian pointed at the door behind the one who was Rian’s uncle.
The office was quite spacious, almost twice the size of the antechamber and lavishly furnitured. Behind the wooden desk was a large painting depicting a fighter similar to those that accompanied them to the surface flying over a forest scene.
The Quaestor waited next to the door until everyone was in before closing it and keying a short sequence into the panel next to the lock.
"This will ensure that anything that will be talked within this office stays in this office. So how can I be of help for you? Kookimarissia said you have been attacked? Can you tell me who they were?
“The Crimson Knives.” Andrelious replied, a grim determination on his face. “Back in the days when I served the Inquisitorius on Karufr, I was offered a position in a top secret Starfighter Squadron. The Invitation was signed by the Voice of the Brotherhood himself. He said that he was searching for the best pilots within the Inquisitorius to become the striking fist of them. They demanded ultimate loyalty to the cause of the Grand Master and those who swore their lives to them would have been granted a special status within the new Order. But this offer was meant for the recipient and the recipient alone. No boundaries would have been tolerated. Thus I rejected the offer in favor of my family and sealed my downfall within the Inquisitorius.”
Kooki embraced the hand of her husband and Rian who listened carefully said, “I understand why they send them after you then, they knew that an ordinary Inquisitor most probably would have failed this mission. But one question remains, how did they manage to locate the position where you were training with …”
“Drake, Justinios Drake.”
"Hello Justinios. Anyways as I said, the question remains on how did they manage to know where to find you, and ideas?
“I don’t know but I need to find answers, and that answers can be found only at one place: Cocytus system.”
“Did you just say Cocytus system?”
“Yes, the invitation message for the Crimson Knives, it held coordinates where those who were to join had to meet and that was in the Cocytus system.”
“Ok, well this may sound strange now. But for some time now I have been investigating encrypted holonet messages with the help of the Intelligence Department here on the campus regarding rumors of some sort of a massive attack planned by Pravus. It said nothing either about the source nor the target of the attack, all I was able to discover was that the messages have been coming from somewhere in the Cocytus System.”
“What if this isn’t a coincidence? Maybe all this fits into a greater scheme.” Kooki remarked. “Maybe if we find the answer how they got to know about our position and the holonet messages are somehow connected, we may solve one riddle as the solve the other.”
“I see what you are suggesting Kooki. To be honest I was about to head to the Cocytus System myself but my droids haven’t returned with my new ship. Maybe we should join forces and see what we can find out. Kooki, if you want, you can leave the twins here on Concordia, my uncle can take care of them till we return.”
Kooki was touched by such a kind offer of her Quaestor, Rian. However, the protective mother did not wish to be far from her twin daughters and was finding trusting anyone quite difficult at the moment. In times of distress and uncertainty, Kooki’s mental state was not the most stable. All she wanted to do was two things. One, quite simply protect her children at all costs. And two, not as simple, was to get revenge on Jac at all costs. Despite her insecurities, the Alderaanian was more than happy to join forces with Rian. After all, seeking revenge would be a lot easier with multiple people fighting in the same corner. A victory would still be as sweet and hopefully more successful with more on side.
She may have ventured to many corners of the galaxy, but the Cocytus system was one area Kooki had not set foot in yet. So many worries filled her head, regarding the twins’ welfare or if she would get back to them. Yet the adrenaline rush of being closer to payback on traitorous actions was keeping her going strong.
Kooki sat with her face in her hands and looked over at her peacefully sleeping daughters. The last time she had left them with anyone aside their grandparents on Corellia, they had almost been badly harmed. Endangering her own children was not something she was prepared to do. Rian had left Kooki to gather her thoughts and upon his return felt rather heavy hearted at the sight that greeted him. His heart went out to the poor mother and softly tried to reassure her. Andrelious wished his fellow male all the luck in the world. When Kooki’s mind was made up, she rarely relented- especially where family was concerned.
“I understand your nerves, Miss Mimosa.” Rian hushed.
“”But my uncle would NEVER harm or let any harm come to your girls.” He continued.
“What makes you so damn sure?” the protective mother hissed.
“Simple. He took me under his wing when my parents died. I, like you, am an orphan. And I’ve not turned out all that bad, have I?” the Quaestor expressed, a softness to his tone.
Kooki looked up from her palms and faced Rian. Her eyes were a bit bloodshot from avoiding displaying her inner feelings.
She managed to eke out a shy smile. And a glance over at the two contented girls in deep slumber.
“So… Is that a yes?” Rian asked quietly.
“Don’t let them forget their star blankets. They are rather attached to them.” Kooki whispered, as she got up blew kisses at Poppy and Etty and prepared to go and get herself ready for her mission without them by her side.
It was going to be a long haul.
“Manifolds in place,” the droid conked out. “Making the jump to hyperspace.”
Dek and Lexiconus watched as space turned into a tie-dye of white, blue, and purple. They were on their way to Concordia, a Mandalorian moon and potential hiding spot for the Rebellion. Dek glanced at the droid, “Alert me when we’re about to approach the Mandalore System.”
A return of beeps and such was enough for the Human to hear.
Lexiconus and Dek looked at each other and both immediately moved to the back of the ship. It was Dek’s GX1 Personal Diplomatic Hauler; the “Kola”. It had a spacious back room area where a round table sat with a holoprojector in the middle of the table. Dek motioned his hand to one of the seats and the Quarren nodded his head in gratitude and sat. The Commander nodded his head and sat as well.
“Concordia,” Dek spoke seemingly leaving it at that. Lexiconus typed a few keys into an electronic pad near his seat, and Dek continued, “Have you ever been there?”
“No.” The answer was authoritative, “You?” A map of Concordia came up on the holoprojector.
“Not once. What do you have in mind for us?”
The Quarren responded, “Of course, some form of recon. No doubt they won’t be expecting us. We’ll need an excuse to get down to the surface.”
“I can get us down there. They’re soldiers. Mandalorians, even. An appeal to honor should do us good.”
“I don’t doubt you, Dek. However, I’m a doctor and you’re a politician. Do you think they would buy it?”
“I can see the jokes now, ‘A doctor and a politician walk into a Mandalorian bar.’”
“What’s the punchline?”
“Does it matter if we’re on the planet?”
A pause went through the air. Only the electrical equipment could be heard. Lexiconus cut the silence, “Once we’re on the planet we should find out more about the potential Rebels. Evidence of leadership and potential relatives. You’d have no problem with that. I’ll talk to the population. They might have needed to resupply if they were here.”
“Excellent,” responded Dek, shutting off the holoprojector, “Care for a drink?” The Senator stood up and went over to a cabinet.
“Acidic, Filtered, or Judeccan?”
“You keep Judeccan water on your ship?”
“Shouldn’t we all be drinking the water we normally drink? Isn’t that some hot button health issue of sorts?”
“Glad you’re not on the Health and Human Services Committee,” the Quaestor let out. “Judeccan.”
“You won’t regret it,” Dek said as he poured two glasses.
A few beeps came over the intercom. “Concordia on the sensors? We’ll be ready.”
Lexiconus and Dek had used the journey to catch up as well as formulate an escape plan, just in case. They toyed with the idea of launching the escape pod into an enemy ship, but gave up when they realized that neither of them could pull it off. A few more beeps could be heard.
“Oh fwec,” Dek let out a sigh, “Mandalorian fighter squadron.”
The intercom buzzed alive as they strode over to an intercom linked with cockpit, “Unknown hauler! State your purpose! You have entered Mandalorian space!”
Dek Ironius answered the comm, “We’re experiencing navigational defectiveness. We, uhhhh, can’t seem to find our way anywhere because of it. We require repairs and resupply at your nearest landing zone.”
“What is the cause of your navigational defectiveness?” The Mandalorian fighter spat out.
Dek thought for a second, “Run in with a group known as the Crimson Knives.”
The intercom cackled. Nothing responded for a solid minute. Suddenly, “Diplomatic Hauler, you will be escorted to a secure landing pad where a technician will be waiting for you.”
“Thank you kind, sirs,” Dek responded.
“Should I prepare the escape pod just in case?” Lexiconus joked, forcing some laughter out of Dek. “Seriously though, Dek. Was it a good idea to mention the Knives?”
“We might get some unwanted attention from specific persons, which would allow us to obtain more information. If anyone knows of the Crimson Knives down there then we might have a lead.”
With the landing hatch opening, the Quaestor and the Senator walked down onto the platform, where they were greeted by a small team of Mandalorian officers.
“I am Officer Gregus. We regret your run in with the group you mentioned. Unfortunately we have never heard of them. For this matter, this technician,” a greasy Duros stepped forward, “will fix your ship for you.”
“Oh gracious host, thank you so much.” Dek schmoozed. Lexiconus was dismissive of the comment.
“We require some supplies while we are here,” Dek started. Lexiconus continued, “Medical supplies really.”
The technician rushed aboard, with Dek calling to him, “Just ask my droid what is needed.” The Duros didn’t turn around. “Guess he doesn’t like to talk. I’d like to thank your leaders personally. Is there a way to meet with them?”
The Sergeant huffed, “You’re on Concordia, not Mandalore. However, we do have a government center of sorts, and a museum. Since your motives are not entirely known…”
“Repairs,” Dek Ironius II interjected.
“Repairs,” the Officer continued, “are not a motive. You’ll be under a guard escort wherever you go.”
“See you later, Lexiconus,” Dek went on his way. He desired information. Specifically information on people and families. Could be found in a record, or that museum. Lexiconus was smart enough to find out information on his own.
Lexiconus desired to go to the hospital. He actually wanted to pretend like they were supposed to be doing something legitimate. Suddenly, he felt a pull with the Force. Two entities were here. Two Force beings. Not unlikely, but strange indeed. Weak in the Force, but not weak enough to be anything.
Walking through the small streets, surrounded by small farms, spaceport businesses, and military buildings, Dek Ironius II was shadowed by two Mandalorians escorts. Few families paid attention to him. Certainly he was out of place. A nice uniform of an statesmen from the Indissoluble Cocytus Empire, mostly unrecognized symbols of Clan and rank in the Brotherhood, the Commander made his way to the larger buildings. Ringed fortresses that may or may not be off limits to someone such as himself were taller in the near.
As he drew closer, a hand was placed on his shoulders, “You are not allowed to enter those buildings.” It was one of his guard escorts.
“I simply wanted to speak to the regional commander, as a thank you. And to learn more about Mandalorian culture.”
“Museums are what those are for,” responded the other guard.
Dek turned around, sliding his shoulder away from the one guard, “What knowledge has this museum obtained?”
“We can show you,” they motioned, attempting to resolve this banter diplomatically, and not through violent ends.
“Lead the way.”
One guard moved forward while the other held out his hand, telling Dek that he wasn’t going to get away from the escorts. But nor did he want to.
Eventually they came upon a cluster of small statues. The statues were bronze and of different people in Mandalorian like armor or similar clothing. Dek started to speak, “Who are the…”
The front guard interrupted, “Obviously different important members of our society. Mandalore the Ferocious of Clan Griff, Canderous of Clan Ordo, Neela of Clan Fett, Jezsmark of Clan Vizsla, Senator Gortho of Clan Gortho, The Vigilant of Clan Shregg. The statues go on.”
“Interesting.” A history of soldiers and government officials who served a warlike system turned peaceful. Mandalorian history truly interested Dek Ironius. Maybe one day if the Empire ever conquered the Mandalore system he could serve as the System Moff and learn more from the people here. For now, he would serve as a politician and information gatherer.
The museum presented many different facets of Mandalorian history, as well as the history of the moon itself. Including a list of Clans that existed throughout Mandalorian history and Clans still alive today. “Who is the leader of this moon anyway?”
“Not leader, leaders,” the museum attendant who had explained a few things.
“An oligarchy? Meritocracy? Military senate?”
“Currently, the Concordian Council. It’s differed over the years under different people.”
"Who sits on the Concordian Council?
“About 20 members, compromising old generals and warriors, older politicians, elder civilians of great merit,” the attendant trailed off a bit. Dek wondered about the families of these people. If Rebels existed then they would most likely be related to these Clans and Councils in some way. Rebels on planets and systems can’t do anything without local governments. Turns out this local government has some militaristic ties (or rather, this culture). Making it easier for Rebels to potentially turn this area into an area of fight.
“Do any Clans have specific majorities in the government?”
“What an interesting question,” the attendant gathered, “What is your line of work, may I ask?”
“I’m a keeper of knowledge and part time diplomat for a distant Empire.” None of that was wrong, but to the extent it was right was subjective.
“Clans Shregg and Mycro have familial majorities, but Clan Ordo has the most support from the people and the politicians.”
“Can I possibly have the lists of the political families? Future diplomatic ties and such. I quite enjoy the history of your people as well, especially during the Clone Wars. Such as fascinating time.”
“Yes,” the attendant smiled, “I’ve quite enjoyed our discussion. I’ll return.”
Finally, some information.
Lexiconus approached the local clinic. A skilled doctor, he might be able to work some magic of these people as well as obtain some information in response. The doors shuffled open for the Quarren and he strode into the building. Surveying his surroundings, he approached a desk droid, “Excuse me, sir,” the droid started, “could I please obtain your security number?”
“I don’t have a citizen number. But I wish to request some information.”
“I will attempt to provide as much information as possible, but if there are any further inquiries, I must ask you to contact my operator; Operator Clegg.”
“I wish to request the number of ships recently that received medical supplies.”
The droid’s systems whirred, “I’m sorry, I cannot provide such information.”
“Do you have information on medical supplies recently taken out of storage? I’m looking to restock my ship and want to know the usual amount of supplies requested from such a location.”
“Of course,” the droid went over the usual amounts of requested medical objects and necessities requested for resupplies.
“What were the most recently stocked ships?”
“I will need to see security clearance on this matter, sir.”
“I’m a traveling doctor, and I’m doing research on the subject matter, I wish to track down the crews themselves. I don’t need ship IDs. I simply need ship names or reasons for resupply. I can do the other work on my own.”
“I see,” the brain whirred once again, “Two ships recently resupplied for the purpose of lack of resources. Another survived an attack by a group of bandits.”
A group of bandits. I wonder what the name of the group was, Lexiconus wondered.
“Do you know who these crews interacted with?”
“No, however, all crews are fuel checked by a group of technicians. Perhaps they know.”
Lexiconus left back for the docking bay, new information in tow.
Dek was walking back to the ship, datapad with new information in tow. Lists of Clans were searched and families. He first looked for relatives, then onto direct relations, indirect relations, and extended relations. It was a long search, but nothing popped out. Cross-referencing it with the Brotherhood, Shadow Academy, Lore Keepers, and Inquisitorius databases, nothing was revealed.
He could see the ship.
No known popular Mandalorians exist in the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. What if the relation was non-familial?
Dek searched non-blood relatives, which was a low amount. An Arden of Clan Shregg came up. His relative…
Rian, when cross-referenced with the SA database came up with Rian Taldrya of Clan Taldryan.
“Dek!” Lexiconus called as they both approached the port bay for the Kola.
“My friend,” Dek started, “I’ve found some interesting things.”
The guards stayed at the bay doors as they walked towards they ship. They leaned in close and where is near proximity, “Dek, a group was recently attacked by bandits.”
“Like us?” Dek smiled.
“Exactly, technicians supposedly do checks on the ships that go in or out. They might know a person or a location.”
Dek lifted up the datapad he was holding.
“The Taldryans!” Lexiconus let out a slithering hiss. “And Rian Taldrya! Traitors! No wonder the Iron Throne was after them! They joined the Rebels! The Justicar had no choice!”
The Duros technician came out of the Kola, “Nothing wrong with your ship. Such a useless waste of time you’ve made me do.”
“I apologize, my repair droid has been malfunctioning. Maybe for longer than I thought. Might have added to the navigational defectiveness.”
“There was nothing defective about your systems.”
“I don’t know what to say then,” Dek held his chin.
“I’m sorry for the waste,” Lexiconus started, “But maybe fate has brought usyou here for a different reason.”
“Go on?” The Duros responded.
“Recently some friends of ours were attacked by bandits, just like us. We escaped just in time, without being fired upon. Our friends may have not been so lucky.”
Dek enlarged the picture of the face of Rian Taldrya on the datapad, “This person. Our dear friend, Rian.”
“Ah, Rian! He’s one of us. He hasn’t been a part of any fights recently a far as I can tell. But his friends, as one told me, had a run in with a group called the Crimson Knives.”
“Excellent! They were after us as well!” Dek rejoiced.
The Quarren continued, “Friend, do you know which path they took after this location?”
“No, I’m not privy to the private lives of those citizens. They were in a hurry though. Took a bit of med supplies with them as well, as if they were in for a fight.”
“We may be able to catch them, yet!” Dek revealed to the technician.
“Probably not, they left a while before you got here. Also, sorry for the comments earlier. I could check your repair droid?”
“Ah, if only we had the time!” The Human’s response furthered the deception they had already built, and in their favor…
“We’d best be on our way,” Lexiconus let out.
Saying goodbye and getting on board the Kola, they set off to devise the next part of their strategy.
“Shall we contact the Voice?” Dek questioned.
“I believe so. He’ll do well with the informat…” The console beeped alive in the cockpit they were in with the pilot droid. Dek looked down.
“The Imperial War Office…” Dek’s look was confused.
“The droid?” Lexiconus asked.
“It doesn’t know fwec, as they say in the undercities.”
Lexiconus clicked the intercom. “Imperator. The Praetorian Guards have detected a system intrusion. It displayed a Taldryan signature before it left scanning range. We are sending pursuit vehicles.”
“No!” Lexiconus let out. “Attempt to keep track of them, but do not engage. We’ll be there soon. Imperator out.”
“Looks like our next move is planned. A terrorist attack in the Cocytus System? They wouldn’t dare…”
“We’ll find out.”
Pulsating with anger and lust for violence, Alara Deathbane was abandoned by her group, which further fueled her anger. However, she looked up into the sky to see a ship, engines firing low, coming down into the docking bay.
There were times that Justinios Drake appreciated his small stature and, as he was stretched out on the bench seat within the main hold the JV-7 Escort Shuttle, the Aleena was experiencing one of those moments. Acolyte Drake had been relegated to guard duty since Andrelious had set the shuttle down on Caina. The Aedile of House Dinaari suggested that the planet’s capital city of Daemon would be a good place for them to start probing for information regarding attack being planned by the Grand Master. Rian and Kooki both had agreed to the proposal since the city’s status as a trade hub would provide them with reasonable cover while they conducted some ad-hoc operations.
The three more experienced members of the party had all agreed that Justinios should remain behind to “keep an eye on the ship”. Justinios was smart enough to know that the other three saw him as a liability but he was also intelligent enough to know they were probably correct. Rian, Kooki and Andrelious left the ship one-by-one in an attempt to pull on separate strings hoping that even just one lucky break might help them unravel the mystery of what was going on within the Cocytus system. Rian chose to present himself as a bounty hunter looking for work with the intention of finding sources within the city’s black market. Andrelious had decided work more above board and chose to masquerade as a trader looking to open new routes for his home planet. Kooki opted to go with the more passive route of simply blending into the background and observing. She told the journeyman on her way off the ship, “You’d be surprised what people reveal when they don’t think anyone is watching.”
Justinos decided to use his alone time efficiently by reviewing the intercepted transmissions that Rian mentioned while they were on Concordia. As he laid there comfortably on the bench seating, the former professor found the transmissions to be quite boring. Sure there was information about imminent attacks, a lot of chatter about “undesirables” and “traitors”, talk of purges and assassinations, but none of that was of much interest to Justinios. Ever the dutiful academic he trudged through the source material knowing that somewhere within the boring machinations of the Dark Council there could very well be something of interest. Finally, fifty pages into the transcripts, he came across some dialogue that seemed to be about some very advanced scientific research that was being performed. As he continued through that specific message a familiar name was mentioned, Profesor Goji White.
The diminutive Acolyte shot up and dashed over to the comlink like a lightning bolt, barely able to contain his excitement. First he tried to reach Andrelious literally bouncing with enthusiasm as he waited for his Aedile to accept the call. When the Sith Warlord didn’t answer Justinios decided he’d try to contact Kooki next since she was the other person that had survived the attack on their little training squadron. The ships comms blinked green as Kooki accepted the call on her end. “Is everything alright?
“You, are, never going to believe this but Professor Goji White is somehow connected to this situation. I can’t believe this! Do you have any idea just what kind of research Professor White was working on? It is really groundbreaking stuff. His work is some of the only other research being done in academia that is even more advance than my own.” Justinios was speaking as fast as his reptilian mouth could form words.
“Slow down Drake, I have no idea who Goji White is.”
“I’m sorry Kooki this is so exciting. Professor White has published groundbreaking research on using particle acceleration to increase the energy storage capacity of crystals.” Justinios interpreted the silence that came through from the female Shadow’s end of the call as an invitation to continue. “I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Professor White but I’ve been involved in some pretty intense discussions with some of my former colleagues in the physics department at CIT about whether or not White’s research could lead to synthetic Kyber crystals. I thought it was quite possible but my small minded colleagues insisted the entire premise was absolutely….”
Kooki interrupted, her voice sounding concerned, “Did you say synthetic Kyber crystals?”
“My colleagues thought it was crazy too,” Justinios said disgusted as if his former co-workers were present for the conversation. “Yes it is likely that the energy storage capacity of the Kyber crystal has as more to do with its metaphysical properties than it does the its molecular compounds but Professor White’s research suggest that subjecting other forms of crystals to high energy subatomic particles could yield amazing results if given the right resources.”
“Drake, as exciting as this is I need you to concentrate for me.” Kooki’s comment snapped Justinios back down to reality. He then felt a little guilty for subjecting the Battlemaster to his rantings knowing that re-focusing an excited Aleena was like trying to contain a supernova. “What do the transmission say about Goji White?”
“Oh, Profesor White seems to have been in Daemon recently. I hope he is still here, I’d love to get his thoughts on my own theories of subatomic particle interactions.”
There was a verbal sigh transmitted from Kooki’s side of the conversation. “You might have mentioned that point first. Can you send me all of the information you have on this professor, including physical descriptions and the names of any locations mentioned in the transmissions in correlation with his name?”
Justinios really felt that Kooki was really missing out by focusing on the mundane details like what Professor White looked like but he complied with the request. His tiny hands flashed over the screen on his datapad as he began to compile the information on the professor. Before transmitting the data Justinios asked, “Do you think the professor is still in the city?”
“If he is Drake, I’m going to find him.”
Excitement once again coursed over Justinios’ scaly blue skin. “I want to come with you, I just missed meeting Professor White at an awards ceremony two years ago. I really think his research could possibly help push mine forward by months, even years.”
“No way,” the mother of two said without hesitation, “stay on that ship and keep looking for any more information that might help me find Goji.” A click indicated to Justinios that the call had ended.
The Acolyte looked down at the datapad which indicated there was over three-hundred pages of transcripts left to review. He then looked at the exit hatch at the other end of the main hold, the same hatch that would lead him out into the city of Daemon and possibly to Professor Goji White and his research. Grabbing his armory lightsaber, the journeyman bounded down the shuttle’s exit ramp having convinced himself he wouldn’t stray far from the landing bay.
The Mystic stepped away as the remaining body fell to the ground. She disarmed her saber, and with a flick of her wrists, clipped them back to her belt hiding underneath her cloak. Alara carefully stepped back through the window and chuckled as she glanced back at the scattered members across the blood-stained ground.
Well, let that be a warning to any who try to see what I’m up to.
The half Sephi heard the ignition roar of Lexiconus’ ship. A growl quickly rose into her throat. “The idiots! They’ll die without my help!” With a roll of her eyes and a scoff to blow stray hairs from her face, the Dark Jedi decided to take a look at the computers once again.
There must be more information here. Especially when so many guards came to protect it when they heard us. How many did I kill…5? 7? Pretty sure it was 10. No matter. Let’s get this over with Alara. Make Marick happy, and in turn make my Wyndell happy. Then we can get the hell off of this heap of rock. They were mumbling something about Concordia. Maybe I can find the information’s location there and try to meet them. Or beat them. Whichever comes first.
The Marauder scanned quickly through the database files, her amber eyes flickering quickly from the screen’s left to right.
As she continued to search, her Sephi ears suddenly perked up at another engine roar. Instinct told her to shut down the screen immediately, and run outside to let the rest of her senses figure out what was going on. Did the miscreants come back? Or did one of the guards manage to send for reinforcements before she sliced their neck? No… the motor’s sound was different.
She ran through the exit of the database centre. Her hand reached for her belt clip once again to release her saber from its place. The medium-sized cargo ship was approaching the ground with steady pace. Bright red markings in the shape of a circled knife decorated the metal sidings. Alara gulped at the question in her mind. Was that paint? Or… She arched herself closer to the ground, her left knee bent and her right leg stretched out to lay low. She let her left elbow rest on her knee, and held her saber in her right hand that was rested on her right leg. She knew who these people were. She had to prepare herself.
A dozen soldiers spread out from the entrance ramp on the ship. Each soldier keeping his legs moving, even when standing in position. They all formed one straight line on the ground, and directed themselves away to give room to the ramp. Each soldier was dressed in bright red robes with black masks. The masks were oval shaped, their longest points vertical with the figures. Shards of metal that must have been meant to appear as horns were fastened around the middle of the oval. Two diagonal holes were shaped for the eyes, two smaller holes for the nose, and a hole covered with weaved wiring was positioned for the mouth. Each soldier kept his footing and unsheathed a vibrosword. They all held it in front of them and stopped.
A soldier in white robes walked gracefully down the ramp. He was not marching in any way, but had a steady pace all the same. The closer he got to the ground, the more details Alara could pick up from him. His mask was a bright blood red, and had more metal “horns” than the other masks did. He looked directly at her and began to walk briskly in her direction. The red soldiers followed him in single file, still marching. As the group came within 6 feet of the half Sephi, the leader raised his white-gloved hand parallel to his shoulder. The group obeyed his command, let out a “HYAH!”, and formed a straight line around their leader.
“You! What brings you here?” the leader shouted with a clear and sharp male voice, pointing towards Alara. The Marauder stood to her feet, looked square at the masked figure, and declared herself with confidence. “I am Alara Deathbane, Mystic to the Clan Scholae Palatinae of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. My reasons are my business! My title is yours!”
The leader straightened his back, as if unsure of what to do with this information he had been given. “You mean Dark Jedi Brotherhood, mastered by Pravus?” the Leader interrogated.
“Aye. The very one.” Alara stepped forward with her right foot in prowess.
“Interesting… why would a Mystic such as yourself be alone on this planet?” the leader continued to inquire.
“Because some idiot Quarren and a politician decided it would be a great idea to leave the angry ex-Sergeant behind while they escapade to save the day!” Alara roared, stamping her foot like an angry space-bull.
The leader was quiet for a moment, but let out a chuckle. The other soldiers looked to their leader, and let out some laughter as well. The leader raised his hand once again, and the soldiers were silent. “It appears you may need some help getting off of this planet then. You anger and strength speak for you. I believe you will be of use to the Crimson Knives.”
Alara stepped forward to rebel, but she stepped back and bit her lip for a moment, her eyes flitted to the ground below her feet. Her lips quickly formed a smile as her mind began to work out her next plan. She looked back at the leader, stepped forward, and raised her hand to shake his. “Aye. I’ll help you with more than you think. And in turn I believe you will be able to help me. I’m looking for Taldryan Rebels.”
The leader looked at the half Sephi’s hand suspiciously, but took it in his. “Welcome to the Crimson Knives, Miss Deathbane.”
The hull of the Kola unfolded from the starry skies and slowed to an orbit above the icy planet of Caina, as the droid whistled and beeped about their arrival. Lexiconus rushed to the cockpit and saw the ship descend to the planet and swoop across the blue strip at the equator. Turbulence and stormclouds smashed against the shields, forcing the ship to buckle and send Dek flying. The Commander latched his hand onto a cloth netting in the back, as he tried to regain his balance.
“Steady now, droid. Steady!” Lexiconus urged, clutching onto the droid’s body. He wasn’t a fan of flying, especially when no one living was at the controls. Skimming across the upper atmosphere of Caina, the droid extended his limb and activated the scanners. His preferences set to legal spaceports, it wasn’t turning up the results. Dek finally found his feet and stumbled towards the droid.
“Caina is not a home for those who willingly obey, droid. This is the wretched hive of scum and villainy. Look for ships and a Taldryan ID signal, if you can. Best to shorten the walking distance than have to walk at all.” Dek ordered, as he finally made it to the front and sat in the front row. With the storms finally calming, the ship turned north and lowered into a large city on the edge of the ice. Steam rising from the buildings as the street glowed with illumination rods, the capital of Caina represented dominance and success. It was called Daemon, and Dek knew the city well.
“Commander Ironius, the Daemon officials are trying to contact us and demand to know our authorisation codes in order to land, should I give them sir?” The droid asked, his head spinning around as he innately guided the ship to a docking bay.
“No droid, just land us safely into the city and then wait for us there. Be quick about it!” The Commander ordered. Lexiconus continued staring out the window, as a blizzard of snow began to plummet onto the buildings and roads. Causing near-accidents and pedestrian casualties, the city of ice and blood was a deathtrap to even the experts and citizens. Hissing and roaring to life, the landing pads extended out as the ship itself rotated and descended onto a flat surface in the spaceport. With a loud crack, the pads broke through the snow and successfully landed, as the door opened to the bitter cold snow.
“C’mon Dek, we need to beat this snow before it kills us. Push as hard as you can, I’ll be right behind you!” Lexiconus said, hanging from the edge of the Kola’s door. Dek huffed as he stood and walked to the door, looking out at the harsh weather. Its extreme winds cracked and threw icicles from the buildings, as wires snapped and crackled with electricity. It wasn’t a habitable place for either of these men.
“Why aren’t you going first!” He shouted at the Quarren, trying to edge him on. “You’ve survived worse than this!”
“Exactly!” Lexiconus shouted back, the blizzard winds picking up as he put his leathery hand onto Dek’s back. “Which is why I will be right behind you when you fall, so I can pick you back up again!”
Reluctant about dying here and disappearing into the piles of snow, Dek’s resolve bolstered him and as he wrapped a weatherproof cloak around himself, the Human walked into the storm. With Lexiconus quickly following behind, the duo leaned against the wind and forced themselves through the resistance. Clenching onto their cloaks to protect their heads and shoulders, the duo gritted their teeth and headed towards a lit up cantina. Layers of white began to build on them, weighing them down and soaking their clothes, while shards of ice swept past their bodies. The hiss of the automated doors was the only thing that told them they made it. The pair stormed inside and was greeted by an explosion of heat against their numb skin, loud and throbbing music, as well as the scent of heavy cigarra and tobacco smoking.
“Well, if you wanted to blend in, Daemon is the place.” Lexiconus shook off the snow as he spoke, glad that some was melting on his dry skin. The Quarren was parched and could kill for a cold water or rum. As Lexiconus glanced around the room, he began to get a feel for the environment. There was a rectangular bar with curved corners against the nearby wall, that a Duros bartender maintained alone. Several varieties of species clustered against the sides of the bar, including a notable gang of chain smoking Verpine. Just to the right of the bar was a floor of circular tables, with patrons in chairs around each one, as they watched the main act of the night. A trio of beautiful Zeltron dancers, who favoured expert and provocative dance moves than clothing. A single jukebox sat in the furthest corner from the duo, which was the source of the irritating techno music. Dek approached the Quarren and smiled, trying to comfort him.
“First, let’s get boarding and sleep out the storm, then we can look for the rebels in the morning.” He said. Lexiconus nodded with agreement, and the duo bunkered down for the night.
Rising early from a bedroll he managed to convince the bartender from, Lexiconus stretched and clicked his back with a sigh of relief. As he moved to the common room of the cantina, and seeing some of the same residents still sleeping, he walked to the bar. Reaching behind with the Force, the Seer telekinetically pulled out a rum bottle and a glass, then began pouring it. As the heated liquid touched his lips, Dek staggered in from the cold and groaned, holding his head.
“Let me guess, you decided to take on that Lituane girl in a contest and lost?” Lexiconus chuckled, sipping the rum. Dek simply murmured as he poured a glass.
“She had assets I was curious about,” Dek motioned his hands expanded at his chest and sighed, bringing the glass to his lips. Lexiconus could only laugh more, enjoying the story of curiosity in his friend. The Quarren tipped his head back and drank the rest of his rum, then stood from the bar and patted Dek’s back.
“C’mon, we’ve got rebels to find and a giant city to search. Best not waste anymore time talking about assets.” Lexiconus said. The Commander grumbled and reluctantly followed Lexiconus back out into the cold. Their search began in the nearby spaceport, which was a stark contrast to what they saw the previous night. Plumes of smoke and heat rose above the buildings, which were melting with snow and ice. Maintenance guards were dotted across the street, fixing wires, windows and signs back to their previous place. It felt like a recycled job for these men. Lexiconus could hear the clanging of hammers against metal, as a local crafter worked away on armour. The soft chatter of citizens filled the silent air, while the whooshing of speeders echoed from the distance. Lexiconus and Dek scanned the areas around, looking for signs of disturbance. But this was a city of subterfuge, manipulation and organised crime, disturbance was the spice in the broth.
“I don’t think we could pick an oak tree from a sycamore in this forest, Lexic,” Dek commented, his connotation of choosing between similar trees was half-true.
“Then perhaps we need to rustle the leaves and see what falls out?” The Seer replied, as he slowly stroked his tentacles in thought. He then smirked and jogged across the street, towards a different cantina of sorts. With a rickety roof, cheap tables and chairs, and a weapons rack, Lexiconus could tell this place housed more violent men. Approaching the shack, Dek tugged on the Quarren’s arm to stop him before entering. Lexiconus felt the stare before he saw it, and spun his head to look at the man. Stocky and gaunt, the Mercenary had olive skin and a dirty stubble, as his emerald eyes pierced the Quarren with intrigue. A thick, brown cigarra hung from his mouth while the smoke rose slowly. Slouching in his wobbly chair, the merc inhaled the cigarra deeply, as ash fell onto his dark green vest, then plumed out a mushroom of smoke. With an E-11 Blaster on his belt and a sniper rifle at his back, Lexiconus could see he was a trained killer.
Perfect he thought. Someone to be my loose speeder.
The Seer confidently walked up to the merc and nodded in respect, as he presented a respectable smile.
“Fine day for a bit of target practice, isn’t it?” Lexiconus said to him, but the Human only removed his cigarra and put it out on the table.
“I know your face, squid,” He pointed at him as he spoke, the Quarren was curious. “Yeah, I’ve seen it on the news before. I’m sure I have.”
“Oh? I’m not sure what you mean,” Lexiconus shrugged and crossed his robe around him, he shouldn’t be identified here in the public. The merc then stood and chuckled to himself.
“Yeah, I know you, bud. You’re that Commander from March Isles. The person in charge of the armies and training. I’ve been to that island, it’s a nice place to get some new gear. Got my peacekeeper from your craftsmen, a great weapon for 3 click targets.” He whipped his sniper rifle up and looked through the scope, aiming down the street. The Quaestor smiled and nodded with agreement, he had his curiosity and attention, now to offer him a mission.
“Look, I just need you to do something for my friend and I, just so we can find some rats infesting this city. Can you do that?” He asked, unsure whether this was going well. He looked back at Dek who gave him a nod in confirmation.
“Sure, of course, you gave me something, I’ll give something back, eh? We’re best buds now! What’s the job?” The merc said as he slapped heavily on Lexiconus’ back, sending the Quarren stumbling. Righting himself, the Quaestor looked back at the giant and smirked, pointing around the street.
“Just cause a bit of mayhem to draw them out. It shouldn’t take long.”
“Aye not a problem, squirt. Mayhem is my middle name.” He winked, then aimed through his sniper and fired a shot, the blast echoed loudly across the district.
Shouts and shrieks rang through Daemon as the buildings erupted in flames and electricity, the denizens of the city running for their lives. One by one, men, women and children dropped dead to the floor as blaster bolts ripped through their chests, the local gangs doing their best to retaliate. High up top, the giant merc barricaded himself into a crow’s nest, shooting at anyone who moved, while throwing thermal detonators and ion grenades. Hidden in a far off alleyway, Dek and Lexiconus cowered under their weatherproof cloak, not daring to peer around the corner.
“This is your fault! We’re gonna die here, because of your favour!” Dek punched the Quarren.
“All I asked was him to attract attention, not bring the next civil war down on the Empire.” Lexiconus replied, he was sure it wasn’t his fault.
“Yeah well, congratulations. You succeeded your goal and flew past it. Now get him to stop!” Dek roared out with authority. Few had seen the Human frustrated, and when he was it meant business. But Lexiconus had seen it before, that blood shot glare, the snarling teeth and the impatient pacing he did. When Dek was for the Empire, there was only one person coming out on top. Rushing from the alley as fast as his tired legs could carry him, the Quaestor ran into the centre of the massacre and started to jump up and down. Waving his hands and shouting at the top of his lungs, he called the merc.
“Hey! Stop! Get down here, quickly!” He cried, trying his best to augment his voice with his hands. The gangs turned to see the Quarren, who looked idiotic to them and also ceased fire. Peering from his nest, the merc slowly stood with his sniper in hand and slowly waved. The skirmish had finally ended.
Lexiconus saw it before he heard. A single red bolt whipped past his head and straight into the merc’s, who collapsed and tumbled down the side of the building. Quickly spinning around as Dek rushed from the alley, he saw a familiar Togruta with her sniper rifle slowly coming back down from her perfect headshot.
“Zehsaa!” Lexiconus cried out. A rumble from the skies echoed across the street, as a medium-sized cargo ship slowly descended and landed in the street. Barely unfolding the ramp, a blonde-haired Human leapt and twisted into the air, her yellow lightsaber ignited as it ribboned around her. Her soft landing was a contrast from her emotions, as her face scrunched in pure anger.
“Oh, hey Alara. Uh, why are you here?” But her anger was nothing in comparison to the hatred and gut wrenching feeling he felt coming from behind Zehsaa. The clicking of steel boots on the floor, the ignition of her red lightsaber and low mumblings coming from her rants. Her pink skin glistened in the sunshine, but she wasn’t blissful today.
“Lexiconus Qor! What the frak have you done to my city!” Blade Ta’var roared, her hands firmly on her lightsaber.
Andrelious crouched behind the bar of a cantina. He’d been inside, enjoying a refreshing Ebla beer, when the whole area became engulfed in a large riot.
Peeking out of his cover, the Dinaari Aedile fired his E-11 at a rioter. The shot hit its target, but the man’s dying screams drew the attention of a trio of others.
Return fire pelted the wall behind Andrelious, shattering bottles of drink and turning the floor into a pool of alcohol and glass shards.
Leaping over the bar, the Sith charged at his attackers, swinging his lightsaber to absorb the incoming blaster fire.
Time to find Kooki.
“Alright. Test number nine. Let’s increase the power, again, please, Professor Sencha,” Damon Nix ordered.
Professor Amilla Sencha sighed as she complied. She still wasn’t exactly sure as to where she was, and she guessed that her mysterious employers weren’t about to volunteer that information. What she was sure about was that the results of her current project were not going to be good enough.
“I’ve told you. It doesn’t matter how much you increase the power. You’re never going to be able to maintain control over that many people for more than half an hour,” Sencha explained.
“I suggest that you be quiet and do nothing more than what we’ve asked you to do. You’re to focus on getting as much power out of those crystals as possible. You’re a fission expert, not a psychologist!” Dantella Novae snapped.
“She does have a point, Novae. Perhaps we should look at just how deeply we can control the subjects, rather than for how long,” Nix responded.
“What do you suggest, then?” the Umbaran questioned.
“If we can’t keep control over our enemies for long, I see only one sensible alternative. Turn them into missiles. You were saying that their loyalty is fanatical, even if it is only brief,” the Lord Marshal answered.
“Project Willpower’s supposed to be the final solution, Nix. We can’t have another incident like Karufr. That was supposed to wipe the Taldryan traitors out,” Novae hissed.
“That’s why we need to test exactly what the project’s going to enable us to do. If we can turn our targets themselves into weapons, we won’t have to worry about losses,” Nix replied.
The Umbaran smirked. “Very well. Professor Sencha, proceed with the test,”
Since he had left the shuttle, Rian had visited several cantinas until the storm became too heavy to continue, forcing him to stay overnight in a shabby hotel of what was supposed to be Caina’s black market district and the chaos on the streets earlier that morning only added up to the reluctance of the citizens to give away informations. However, the Ion-Burst as the most recent was called, looked like a particularly good place to search for information, or at least make an attempt for doing so.
A cloud of hazy air greeted him upon entering the establishment. Quickly the Augur scanned the audience, looking for the kind of individuals that would most probably be able to answer him a question or two.
Most of the patrons were huddled in conversation or gathered around the females dancing to the sound of suggestive music. And there they are. Rian thought as he spotted them nestled in a darker corner of the cantina, but going straight for them probably won’t bring the right results. Rian strode by, getting the server droid’s attention and gestured to get a drink.
A couple of the patrons including the ones in the dark corner gave him a sidelong stare, though none of them spoke. Undaunted, Rian took a seat, taking care that no one except the ones he wanted to saw his lightsaber hanging from his belt before taking the cup from the droid and taking a sip of the dark liquor.
Turning around on his seat, Rian lifted his glass and said cheerfully to the audience.
“For the Emperor.”
Turning back to the serving droid behind the bar, he saw from the corner of his eye that the three men rose from their table and slowly strode over to him. Surrounding him, the one to his left said in a voice that allowed no argument.
“Would you please come with us."
Leading him through a side door and up a staircase, the trio showed Rian into a rectangular room with screens taking up most of the wall on the opposite side of the room while the rest of them waited just outside the door…
“Boss, this guy was snooping around downstairs, an Imperial I guess.”
“And what made you think that Maersk?”
“He got a lightsaber.”
“Ah, well it was the right decision then.” The man behind the desk rose, facing the Taldrya. He was in his late forties, maybe early fifties based on the grayish hair on his temples. “You can tell your masters that we weren’t responsible for the attacks today.”
“I am not investigating the attack.”
“Then you must be new to this part of Caina as we have an agreement with the local government that you stay out of our business as long as we give you the share we agreed on.”
The Taldrya remained silent as the supposed boss closed the distance between the desk and Rian and grabbed for the lightsaber on his belt.
“No, you don’t look like one of those guys that just arrived here, you lack the self-assessment. So who are you?”
“Let’s say I am just a stranger passing by that is looking for some information.” Rian replied.
Inspecting the lightsaber without touching it, the boss stumbled over the insignia on the grip, he had seen it before but wasn’t sure where. "And what kind of information are you looking for Mr. Stranger?
“I saw some messages on the Holonet and now I am searching for its source.”
The boss blinked with his eyes still fixed on the small insignia while summarizing the last words of the Quaestor, then said. “I don’t think I can be of help for you. Maersk, would you please be so kind to escort our guest outside.”
“Too bad, I doubt you don’t know more about that.”
Rian shot his left hand at Maersk, then jerked it upward. The henchman squealed as he found himself suspended in midair.
The boss screamed dashing for cover. "Help! Help - "
The other guards charged in, firing at Rian. Blaster fire shrieked through the room, and Maersk, still dangling in the air, screamed along with it until a bolt seared through his throat. Another light flashed about, about a meter long, the color of the sun forming a shield around the stranger who executed a backflip that brought him head to head with the two guards at the door before that ended in a perfectly placed kick at the midsection of one of the guards while he connected the pommel of his lightsaber forcefully with the temple of the other guard.
“Oh, no, you don’t.” Rian said to the boss crawling for his desk, telekinetically grabbing the comlink lying on it before he could reach it.
“You, you are with the Resistance, aren’t you? I know whom you are searching for, just don’t kill me.” the boss stuttered.
Rian strode over to the boss, his lightsaber still lit in his hand. “I am listening.”
“A couple of weeks ago he came for me asking to dispatch an encrypted message for him.”
“Go, on.” Rian pressed on.
“He said that if one would decrypt it, they would come searching for him.”
“What’s his name?”
“Yeah, yeah, I will tell you, just promise you won’t kill me.” the boss continued gesturing appeasingly. “His name is White, Goji White, he is a scientist.”
“Where can I find him?” Rian demanded, placing the tip of his blade in the front of the boss’ face.
“I swear I don’t know, it has always been him contacting me,” the boss said. “You aren’t going to kill me are you?”
Rian shut down his lightsaber and hung it back to his belt before turning to leave. “I never said I would, but don’t make me regret my decision, oh and sorry for the mess.”
Leaving the cantina he grabbed for his comlink. “Kooki? It’s me, Rian. I got a name.”
“That’s good news, who is it?”
“His name is White, Goji White.”
On the other end of the call Kookimarissia couldn’t believe the news reported by her Quaestor. “Did you just say Goji White?”
“Yes, you know him?”
“No, but Justinios gave me a call yesterday telling me about a scientist named Goji White and that he was recently here in Daemon along a physical description.”
“I am currently at the university, it seems that he was here recently.”
“Ok, don’t leave, I will meet you there.” Rian said ending the call while gesturing for a hovercab."
When the boss saw that the stranger had entered a hovercab, he grabbed for a small comlink from a drawer in his desk, dedicated for only one specific frequency. Once the call was established the one on the other side simply said. “Yeah.”
“It’s me, inform the Imperials, the traitors are searching for a person called Goji White.”
“Excuse me, Blade,” Dek posited, “but doesn’t the city rather belong to the Empire? Certainly, we both have similar goals, at least in the short term.” The Commander smiled.
The Quaestor of Exicidium pursed her lips and gave an assassin-like look, as if Dek and Lexiconus would soon become the prey.
Lexiconus continued, “We simply desired to perform a well thought out strategy in this bustling…” but he was cut off by Alara.
“Well thought out?! Abandoning me on the planet was a well thought out strategy?!” She gripped tightly to her sabers.
Blade sighed. “We’ve been updated on your doings. Alara has told me of what has happened. We also know of the Crimson Knives group…” Alara interjected, “…and they gave me a lift off the planet…” Blade continued, “…and together we’ve formed a…”
Lexiconus’ commlink went off, as did Dek’s. They both looked at each other and looked at the others.
Blade yelled, “Why is everything interrupting everything else?!”
“This isn’t a story,” Lexiconus answered. “We can’t control the events happening here.”
He picked up his comm and turned around. Dek lifted up his Inquisitor pad and decided to read the message instead to himself. “Translate into High Galactic,” he spoke to the pad.
A low mumble was heard from the Quarren and his commlink. Dek’s eyes widened a bit, and gave off a matter-of-fact appearance. Alara looked at Blade. Blade nodded, giving a specific signal to the angered Human female. Zehsaa went onto her own commlink to send another signal, and quickly closed the link. Blade looked at Zehsaa and smiled. Alara strode up to the politician and kicked the pad out of his hand.
“Hey! We’re allies!”
“You abandoned me on the planet!”
“You went out of formation. We said to hold back and you let loose. Your anger left you on that planet. Besides, you found yourself a ride off planet. We would’ve come back to get you, or sent a transport to pick you up.”
“You could have waited!”
“For what? For you to finish your bloodlust?”
Blade interrupted, walking closer to Alara’s side, “She had every right to kill the opposition! She had the means and the ability. If not for her, you may be dead now!”
“We would’ve gotten the information silently and left.”
“Silently and left?” Alara laughed. “You don’t need to be silent when your enemy is defeated.”
Blade continued, “And since when do you give Alara orders, Dek? You are not her superior, and you do not have control over her. You have as much say in the mission and she does.”
Dek hung his head and sighed, “You can’t go through life with anger and violence. Even you know that Blade. We have enemies, and they must be eliminated and subdued. But we also have allies. We also have the good will of the Iron Throne on our side! That is the dual purpose of these missions; to aid the Iron Throne and the Dark Council and to curry favor with them in the process.”
Lexiconus stepped in, his conversation finished, “And sometimes they leave us in the dark. Dek is right in that anger and violence can lead us down dark paths. I know. But I understand the need to sometimes simply stomp on some toes to get information and sometimes asking for it or sneaking around for it isn’t good enough. In the end, it is these differences that unite us, and what give us the power to live in such a great Empire as the one that lives in Cocytus.”
Alara smiled and Blade smirked. Dek chuckled as Lexiconus brought the kicked datapad from a collapsed roof into the hands of the Commander. The Quarren continued, “That was an ally. She spoke of a project of sorts in a system not too far from here. It’s off limits to most,” he looked at Dek.
The Human male let out a few happy breathes, “I know a guy in the office of the Herald. Plus, I got my own intel. A weapon of sorts.”
Blade hushed Ironius. A clanking came from behind the Zeltron. It was the leader of the Crimson Knives. “Zehsaa sent for me,” a voice came from the helmet. “Who are you and who is your source?” The questions were put towards Dek Ironius II.
“My own, and none of your business.”
The figure spoke up, “Disappointing. The Voice requires me to help keep the information of this information in check. I may have to take it forcefully.”
“Nonsense,” Blade let out. The Crimson Knife grunted disapprovingly. The Quaestor continued, “Just as we all agreed, we formed a plan. Our informants tell us that a group of Taldryan Rebels will be headed for the Cainan University. A person there by the name of Goji White.”
Dek Ironius II continued, “Helped develop this weapon supposedly, along with other scientists.”
Alara spoke up, “So we head for the university, and then to the unknown system.”
“I am here to help hunt the Rebels,” started the Crimson Knife, “Not to reveal the location of the weapon. I will help you with the Rebels.”
Dek and Lexiconus looked at each other. They weren’t fighters. They both knew it. They were supporters of the fight. However, they still had ample combat experience. And they had resources.
“We’ll help you, but in other ways,” the Quarren let out, “I’ll call in a few Inquisitors and we’ll serve as the force that blocks them from leaving the university.”
Blade continued smiling, “Alara and the Crimson Commander will lead the assault with a few Praetorian Guardsmen. Remember, it’s not an assault on the university, but the Rebels potentially inside.”
“I can rally a small fleet to intercept outgoing ships,” Dek bragged. “Won’t you be going, Blade?”
“I have a…meeting…with a superior.”
“Then we have a plan,” Alara confirmed.
Kooki felt like she had been parted from her children for a lifetime. However, she continued to press on with this seemingly futile mission.
Daemon was quite an unusual settlement and quite unlike anywhere the Alderaanian mother had ever been to. Navigating unknown underground tunnels and caverns was rather claustrophobic and not very exhilarating since she just wanted to be on familiar territory with Poppy and Etty. It was bad enough that her teammate, Rian was off gallivanting and being a tourist in this place, but now her spouse was nowhere to be seen either.
Kooki could have sworn she had been going round and round in circles in this unpleasant university. Educational establishments were not one of her ideal places to be. Just as she was prepared to give up on searching for some unknown wiry professor for no obvious reason, a buzzing sound and vibration emitted from her pocket.
“Kooki!!! Any luck?! I’ve yet to find any traces here.” Andrelious boomed into the communication device.
“Oh! You do exist! You mean to tell me you actually took a well-earned break from all your sightseeing to actually bother to see if I was alright?” Kooki retorted in her best sarcastic tone of voice.
Her spouse sighed and knew Kooki well enough to know when to keep quiet and this was one of those times.
“No luck here as yet.” The female rushed as she spoke, as she could hear the arrival of faint footsteps.
“I’m not far away now. Should see you soo…” Andrelious began.
“Gotta run. Someone’s coming!” she interjected, quite panicked, yet trying to keep her concentration.
“Hey you!” came an unknown voice from a distance.
Kooki spun round in shock.
Luckily Kooki’s hair was all black in time for when this stranger was face-to-face with her.
“You coming in or not?” the female stranger asked.
“Err…where exactly?” Kooki asked, rather confused.
“Our lecture obviously!” came a slightly rude response.
Kooki was really confused, but thought she might as well keep up the pretence.
“Of course I am.” The disguised Sith blagged, as she began following the student into the lecture hall.
This could be a lead to the professor. It was highly unlikely as there were many lecturers here. Kooki looked around the sizable lecture hall. All she could see was an abundance of students and seating with desks attached. No obvious standout clues were apparent.
The feisty female had a sudden change of heart and decided it was a waste of time. She turned to leave the room.
Kooki overheard two students, one of which being the one she had met previously.
“So do you reckon we still have to read out our physics assignments?” a voice asked.
The students all started sitting down.
“Well it depends on what Professor White wants us to do?” came the reply.
Kooki stopped in her tracks. She noticed everyone else had sat down and thought it best she did too.
But it was too late.
“Right! Papers out everyone!” a male voice boomed.
Kooki looked round and noticed a male lecturer had just entered the room and was ready to begin teaching the eager wide-eyed students before him.
“Ah a volunteer to read out their assignment first! Doesn’t usually happen.” The unknown man mused.
Kooki pointed at herself, as her feet seemed frozen to the spot.
“Yes you!” the professor retorted.
All eyes were on Kooki who had no idea what to say or do.
“Well…umm… the…physics element… umm… surrounding…err…” stuttered the nervous Alderaanian.
The door burst open.
A short, stumpy male appeared.
Kooki glared at him, trying to look uncomfortable as well as annoyed at him.
Impeccable timing as ever.
“Yes! Can we help you, Sir?” queried the professor crossly.
“Sorry for this, Miss. You can continue reading your physics assignment in a moment.” He continued.
Andrelious tried not to burst out laughing. Once able to compose himself, he managed to squeak out a reply.
“Here you are Clarina! Physical! I said PHYSICAL activities! Not physics!!”
The Ex-Imperial shook his head from side to side.
“Sorry everyone. She’s a bit ‘special’ this one. She has suffered a lot of trauma.” He explained.
The room filled with sounds of sympathy and sadness- including that of the professor.
“Come on! Let’s go, dear.” Ushered Andrelious as he assisted Kooki out the room.
“Right who’s next?” began the Professor once the undercover couple had left his room and closed the door.
“What did you do that for?!” Kooki hissed.
“So that’s the thanks I get for rescuing you is it?” her spouse questioned.
“Rescuing? I didn’t need frakking rescuing!” The angry female replied.
“But…” began Andrelious.
“It’s HIM!!!” Kooki whispered.
Andrelious hastily talked into his comlink.
“Rian it’s me! Rally up our lot…Kooki’s found him! Mimosa-Inahj OUT!”
“Let’s move out!” Alara yelled to her group. The half Sephi felt Lexiconus’ presence to her right. As she led the team of fighters up the staircase towards the university entrance, she couldn’t help but question the Quarren.
“So, are you going to abandon me if all hell breaks loose again?” the Marauder snapped, the words cutting through her teeth like glass.
“Oh give me a break. We didn’t want to waste time. It wasn’t personal , you know.” Lexiconus rolled his eyes, his tentacled face appearing rather frustrated.
“Wasn’t personal? Couldn’t just inform me what was going on?” Alara growled.
“And risk getting butchered like your prey did back there? Hell no! You were in a frenzy, Alara. At least with the group waiting for death in there, you’re on business affairs.”
Without a response, the half Sephi huffed. She left the Seer’s side and began to catch up with the Crimson Knife leader and his men that were ahead.
“It was Dek’s idea! You should know!” Lexiconus called to her. That caused Alara only more aggravation. She spat on the ground behind her in disgust. She shook her head and continued forward.
Once she reached the leader’s side, she placed her hands at her back. “Thank you again for your kindness towards me: for giving me a ride here, and for agreeing to help my cause. It has been an honor to fight by you.”
“And I you, Alara. It was the least we could do. Especially when you helped us by destroying our enemies back on that planet.” the masked leader smiled with his eyes towards the half Sephi. For a brief moment, Alara lost her composure and sighed when she day dreamed of how she managed to behead every one of the fighters the Crimson Knives asked her to. Especially how she left each head upon a stake around the entrance of the Crimson Knives hall. She did not snap out of it until the Leader let out a slight chuckle.
“Errr… Yes. I’m happy to help.” Alara swallowed. After a few breaths, Alara began to plan their next combat. “When we get into the university, I’m going to guess that there will be many suspicious teachers and students around. We shall briefly mention we are part of a drama class if they try to interrogate us. Did the rest of you catch that part?” the Sergeant called back to the rest of the group.
“Yeesss…” The group called from behind her. She ushered them into the university doors. Hustling and bustling of bells, lockers, and students suddenly came to silence at the sight of the odd group.
“Well frak.” Alara growled, “So much for blending in.”
Andrelious and Kooki remained out of sight in a storage closet down the hall from the office of Professor Goji White. “Rian should be here any moment, we need to make our move now.
Kooki was getting impatient with the fact that her husband was refusing to make a move on the professor until their entire party was present.
“Drake come in”, Andrelious whispered into his comm. “Drake are you there?”
“You’ve been trying to raise him for the last thirty standard minutes, he clearly isn’t there,”
The former Imperial stuffed the comlink back into his pocket in frustration as there was a triple knock on the door. The familiar form of Rian Taldrya swiftly entered the closet and shut the door behind him. “Where is Justinios?”
“He isn’t here with us, he clearly isn’t with you and he isn’t on the shuttle,” Andrelious answered while turning his attention back to his wife. “We need to move on Professor White now and hope that the little Jedi can take care of himself until we can find him.”
Kooki and Rian nodded in agreement and the entire group left the storage room, quickly making their way towards White’s office down the uninhabited halls of the university. Kooki carefully pressed her ear to the door. “I can hear the professor, but I also hear someone else. Someone who better have been working on his lightsaber skills.” Now fuming, the Shadow opened the door to reveal Professor Goji White deep in conversation with the other being. In the chair opposite White, sitting with his legs crossed in front of him as a child might sit on the ground, was the missing Acolyte.
“Professor White these are the associates I was telling you about. You will need to forgive them as they can be somewhat hasty on occasion.” Justinios Drake hopped off the chair and walked over to his Clanmates. “M’lady, gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to Professor Goji White. The honored Professor has promised to exchange the coordinates to a very specific star system in exchange for safe passage off of this planet.”
Rian couldn’t help but laugh while Kooki and Andrelious did their best to hide their seething frustration with the tiny Journeyman. Through clenched teeth Andrelious responded first, “I had been trying to reach you by comlink since you left the shuttle.”
Justinios’ reptilian hands patted at his pockets, “I left my comlink on the shuttle.” Kooki stormed out of the room as the Aleena didn’t even seem to realize just how much trouble he had caused them all. “That doesn’t matter, I’ve solved our problem. Professor White was working on the weapon…”
“I’m sorry Professor Drake,” Goji interjected, “but the weapon was simply a byproduct of my research.” Drake simply nodded in the direction of the other professor in acknowledgement of the correction. “My employer got impatient with my work and moved into production before we could make any real discoveries.”
“Professor, who is this employer?” Rian asked.
“I only met him once, he introduced himself as Telaris Cantor.”
A look of panic crossed the faces of the two Taldryan summit members. “Professor I need you to give me the coordinates to that facility, I need to make sure they get off of this planet in case we don’t.”
“I will do no such thing,” Professor White said indignantly, “I need to get off of this disgusting pit where these fiends have stuck me so that I can recover my research. You will get no information from me until we are safely in hyperspace.”
“Professor White please…” Justinios began until the persistent ringing of bells interrupted him.
Kooki ran back into the office, out of breath. “We’ve got company,” she forced out while simultaneously trying to catch her breath, “I saw a group that did not look like the local riff raff heading straight towards the university. I pulled the fire alarm but the chaos in the hallway will only slow them down.”
Andrelious walked over to the professor desk and snatched up the datapad that was sitting atop it and tossed it at Goji White. As the device fell into the professor’s lap, the office was filled with the snap-hiss of the Dinaari Aedile activating his lightsaber. “Put in your password and give it back to me now or I’ll kill you myself.” The professor did what he was told and handed the device back to the suddenly very imposing Dark Jedi. Andrelious plugged the datapad into his comlink and started transmitting to Taldryan headquarters without a care that his enemies secrets were being sent without any encryption. “Get to the shuttle.”
“I don’t want to rush you, but we really should have left by now.” Kooki demanded.
“And what about him?” Rian asked, nodding in the direction of the intimidated scientist.
Justinios eyes jumped from one Equite to the other. “What, - What are you talking, of course we are taking Dr. White with us, he needs our help.”
“Justinios, our main concern was to find informations about the weapon, in our current situation, the doctor has become a liability and we need to make sure we get out of here alive.” The Ektrosian Quaestor replied hardly.
“I agree with Justinios, we should take him with us, he is more worth to us living.” Andrelious said, grabbing White at his collar.
“Alright,” Rian said, spying through the slightly opened door. “then let’s move.”
The group left the office with White in their midst, blending into the crowd as good as possible. Within the minute since Kooki pulled the fire alarm, the university had become a real mess. Students rushed past them and on at least two occasions Justinios had to jump to the side to avoid getting flattened. Suddenly Kookimarissia stopped in her tracks when she saw soldiers standing not far from the doors leading out of the university. “Screw it, we need to find another way outside.”
The group dragged White into a corridor to the left. “Dr. White, are there any other exits?” Rian asked.
“I doubt it would matter, they probably positioned guards on all exits.” Andrelious said.
“So it’s fighting our way outside. Drake, once we get close enough you and White will take cover until we call for you.”
Back in the main corridor, Andrelious, Kooki and Rian fell back into the stream of students rushing for the exit.
Once they got closer to the doors Andrelious said: “There. Those are the Crimson Knives.”
“And you said they were the best of the best, let’s hope they aren’t as nearly good in lightsaber combat as in piloting.” Rian observed
“I doubt that.” Andrelious answered
“Alright, I take those on the left, Andrelious, you take the right, Kooki…”
“I’ll take those in the middle.” The female Sith concluded.
“Ok, let’s go for it.”
Outside the building the pilots of the Crimson Knives strode through rows of students, scanning their ID’s and cross-checking them with images of the Taldryanites when the air was split by the hissing sound of lightsabers bursting to live.
Students suddenly broke into runs down the stairs that normally led to the doors leading into the University. Gazing past the down-rushing students, the Soldiers saw the three Taldryanites with their lightsabers raised and at the ready.
The scene didn’t last for more than a second and the Knives raised their blasters. Students screamed in panic and threw themselves into the grass on front yard of the university or dashed for anything that would serve them for shelter when super-heated plasma split the air only to be ricocheted by the blades of the Equites as they attempted to close the distance between themselves and the Knives.
Somewhere on the third floor of the university, Alara, Dek and Lexiconus were interrupted in their search for the supposed terrorists when they heard the screams coming from outside. Dek, was the first to reach a window. “It’s them, they are outside.” The Imperial shouted watching the Taldryanites felling one soldier after another in the front yard of the University.
"They won’t get far.” Alara replied dashing for the next stairway.
The four Taldryanites, still escorting Professor White, rushed through the front yard. The Crimson Knives had indeed proven to be less effective on the ground than in their ships, but they were still very fierce with their lightsabers.
“This is for Trismal!” Andrelious cried, charging at one of the shorter Crimson Knives. His enemy was caught slightly off guard, allowing Andrelious to slice their right arm off with a furious flourish of his lightsaber.
We need to go! Stop playing! Kooki ordered as she gave another Crimson Knife the slip.
Meanwhile, Alara Deathbane was sprinting at full speed out of the University. She ignored the chaos unfolding around her; she had her sights firmly on the escaping enemy. Lexiconus and Dek followed as best they could.
As he ran, Andrelious tapped a few commands on his datapad. He logged into his shuttle’s flight computer, accessing its advanced autopiloting system. With one final command, he summoned the shuttle, ordering it to home in on his datapad.
“Rian! Take Drake and Professor White with you! My shuttle will find you! Get it and bring it back here!” the Dinaari Aedile cried, tossing the Taldrya his datapad. Rian nodded, guiding the Professor rather roughly along.
Kooki and Andrelious ran together, almost able to operate as one thanks to the strong bond that the couple shared. One of the faster Crimson Knives had managed to give chase, but he had little chance against the unified strength of the Mimosa-Inahj couple.
Alara Deathbane, however, was a different story. Sprinting level with the two Sith, the half Sephi punched Andrelious in the chest, knocking the air from his lungs and sending him skidding along the ground.
“No-one does that to my Andrelious!” Kooki hissed, squaring up to Alara. The two furious females glared at each other, their eyes burning with the power of the dark side.
“Looks like I just did! Bring it on!” Alara roared.
Rushing each other, the two women met in a fiery clash of purple and yellow. Kooki, expecting to be able to easily batter her way past the half Sephi’s twin blades, found Alara’s defences to be equal to her.
Dek and Lexiconus, having caught up, stood well back.
“I think we’d best leave them to it,” the Quarren advised.
Andrelious, still winded from Alara’s attack, climbed quietly to his feet. He too felt no desire to be involved in the showdown, so he snuck away, his small stature allowing him to duck behind various pieces of the yard’s foliage.
As he wandered behind a pair of trees, the Sith nearly ran into a TIE Defender that had been landed very carefully. The starfighter was painted a tell-tale shade of red, indicating that it was one of the Crimson Knives’ ships.
Wasting no time, the Taldryanite climbed up the Defender’s fuselage, opening its hatch and dropping into its cockpit. His old Imperial training allowed him to launch the ship as carefully as its precarious docking position required.
“Rian. Status report! And don’t shoot Crimson Knife Seven down! I’ve, er, repossessed it!” Andrelious cried into his comlink.
“I find it funny that you married such a little man. He’s as pathetic as the rest of your Resistance!” Alara hissed as Kooki blocked her latest attack.
Her fury now completely in control, Alara feigned an attack to the left, before switching sides and moving to the right, allowing her to force Kooki onto the back foot. She was about to attack from both flanks at once when she was knocked back by the force of an approaching shuttle.
The shuttle lowered its hatch, and Kooki leapt aboard, taking the time to say goodbye to Alara with an obscene hand gesture.
Having escaped from Scholae’s system, the Taldryan foursome re-united nearby.
“Professor White. I’m going to escort you to Consul Rhylance. He’ll know what to do with the information you’ve given us. I’m suspecting that the so-called Lotus will want to know about the work you and your colleagues have been undertaking,” Andrelious declared.
The Professor nodded.
“Are you sure we can take this time? If he’s been speaking to Telaris Cantor, that’s surely bad news,” Rian stated.
“What matters right now, Rian, is that we get the twins back. Whatever White and the rest of his brainiacs have cooked up, let Rhylance and these Lotus people worry about that. I want my girls. Now!” Kooki interjected.
The assembled men didn’t dare to argue.
There was a war on, but nothing would keep a mother from her children.