[Rogue One] Team Token Real Girl


(Morgan B. Sorenn) #1

Team Token Real Girl

Participants/Player characters (for easy access)

  • Arcia Cortel - #3463 [COU] - Admiral of the COU Navy, EQ4 - CS
  • Alethia Archenksova - #14287 [COU] - Sentinel network agent, Councillor, EQ2 - CS
  • Blade Ta’var - #10388 [CSP] - Excidium Quaestor, EQ1 - CS
  • Morgan B. Sorenn - #6463 [DC] - Herald, Captain of the Matron, EL1 - CS
  • Turel Sorenn - #13830 [COU] - High Councillor (CON) of COU, EQ3- CS

NPCs (for easy access)

  • C’ree - Matron’s First officer, EQ4 - CS token
  • Darth Necren - Master Assassin, EL3 - CS
  • Ishanta - Grand Inquisitor, EL1 - CS
  • Kintan Strider (Echo-1) - Commando, EQ3 - CS token
  • V’yr Vorsa - Jedi General, EL1 - CS
  • Lexi Corden - Jedi Padawan, JM3 - No CS, supporting character
  • Keelan Vars - Matron’s security chief, Sentinel spy, EQ2 - No CS, supporting character

Note: All CS tokens are equal to their ranks listed on this page, not necessarily the ones listed on the token itself. Every CS token has been downscaled to fit their respective rank, and they’re listed here for participation and judging convenience.


[Herald Fiction Updates] Mysteries of the Shroud
(Morgan B. Sorenn) #2

Godless Matron
Deck 17, The Gauntlet
Twelve hours ago

The turbolift door opened up, bringing much-needed light into the dark, damp, and dusty durasteel corridors. A hooded figure stepped out and scurried as fast as he could through the debris-filled interior of the massive ship, towards his destination. Keelan Vars, the Matron’s security chief and wayward Sentinel spy, made sure he wasn’t followed, and yet he searched his surroundings like a paranoid Hutt. This part of the Gauntlet — what the crew called the most dangerous of all areas on the Matron — looked even older and more deteriorated than the rest, and it was dusty enough that he had to wear a breath mask to breathe normally.

Swiftly, but silently he prowled; made a right, a left, and repeated the pattern several times until he finally found the door he was looking for. Hidden in the deepest part of the most dangerous area of the ship, it would have been chance alone if any interlopers had happened upon it. The door displayed no markings and seemed to be barred with several old droids and other unremarkable debris. A leather boot hastily pushed all that aside as two strong hands forced the door open. Walking into the small room, he saw that the consoles were still covered with dust-ridden plastic coverings. The miniature holoprojector sitting on the main console seemed no worse for wear either. All of his equipment was waiting just as he had left it.

A scan pulse emanated from the corner and a green light followed it, illuminating the room. No other lights came on, for fear of pulling too much energy from the ship’s systems that it would draw attention. The trap that was in place, should anyone but him enter, deactivated immediately as Keelan pulled the dusty plastic off of the equipment. The largest console in front of him — the one with the holoprojector on it — came to life and, almost immediately, deft hands started working on command codes, communication channels, and encryption algorithms.

He had to be swift. Every so often he would stop, perk his ears and listen carefully, paranoid that he had been followed despite all efforts. He was efficient and precise, but also in a hurry. Mere minutes passed before the system was ready for transmission. Despite his haste, he was sure that no one would discover the frequency. The spy exhaled a long breath and pushed the last button, creating the connection.

“Raven nest, this is Chariot. Come in,” he started, still slightly out of breath. Raven nest was a callsign for Odanite headquarters floating somewhere on a ship in unknown space. The connection was poor, mostly due to deep-space relays and several thousand proxy connections he had had to create before contacting HQ directly.

At first static filled the small hologram, as if the connection had deteriorated completely, that is before the signal cleared and a pale, platinum-haired woman stood in front of him. Alethia Archenksova stared him down, and even from her miniature holographic position looked commanding. Her face, however, betrayed a certain amount of annoyance and a very clear expression of anger.

“Chariot, are you insane?! This is a non-comm frequency!” She looked to her left and gave someone an order. “Terminate—”

“Raven nest wait! Crimson has gone off the rails,” he pleaded, referencing their codename for Morgan Sorenn, the current Herald, and captain of the Godless Matron. “We have a code 65 on our hands here,” he finished with intense exasperation in his voice. He was frightened, very frightened, and it gave Alethia pause. He was their top agent in the underworld, someone High Councillor Turel trusted implicitly. A Code 65 from him indicated critical asset loss and a priority threat to the whole Lotus movement. She could not ignore him.

The Councillor paused for a moment, her eyes looking intently into his own. “Transmit data through your tertiary channel. Your primary and secondary may be monitored,” she ordered in her crisp imperial accent.

He punched several commands into the console and sent out a data package he had prepared well in advance. The woman opened it up and stood silent for several long moments, looking to her right, likely at a holomonitor. “Are you certain this is authentic?”

“Yes. They have them and if we don’t—” She raised a hand to silence him and he cursed silently as he caught himself. Spilling the beans in an open channel, even one as encrypted as the one they were using, broke too many protocols. He was lucky she allowed him to transmit at all.

Alethia gave him a grim look and nodded. “Set a code-34-aurek immediately.”

Self-destruct? Understood, he thought. The order ensured disassemblement of equipment and data, it also meant the termination of his status. He was to return home as soon as possible.

“I hope that you’re wrong, Chariot.” The hologram distorted for several seconds, twisting Alethia’s figure and showing random number sequences instead. They both looked at each other when the disturbance stopped. Alethia’s expression betrayed what Keelan thought was fear. Someone was listening in.

“Run,” she managed before the transmission terminated abruptly leaving the bewildered agent alone in the dark. With haste, Keelan gave the console several override commands and the equipment in the room fizzled and smoked, rendered utterly useless. He vacated the premises and went in search of another way back to the bridge before someone else found him skulking in the Gauntlet. He had hoped that whoever was listening in didn’t get that data file.

Alturis, moon of Altur
Kr’Tal system, former Taldryan space
Present time

Dum Kel, a Duros gangster and mercenary in the employ of the pirate group called the Gathering that jointly lead the Godless Matron, set his feet on the large dejarik table in the common room of his gang’s CR90 corvette, The Vulture. The whole gang was aboard, all 36 Azure Fangs gathered to finish this one job they had left. Top priority. Plenty of credits for everyone. But Dum, despite his name, wasn’t some low life gang banger with nothing in his head but dust and money. He was smart and cunning, but most of all he was interested.

The Duros looked over at the door that lead into the cargo hold where their hostages, the four scientists, were being held, all collared up in their cages. In truth, the whole ordeal tasted of sour Bantha milk to him. It was one of the captains from the Gathering that offered him good credits for a quick snatch-and-grab, but neither he nor his men ever received the info on who they were delivering the scientists to, just the location and time. Commonly, as these deals went, they’d have gone directly to the client to make the transaction. Usually the client would have plenty of security to protect himself and his interests, as well as the home field advantage, but now it seemed they had to take a roundabout way.

They were to meet whomever on the small free port called Paragon Colony. It was a misnomer, though. Paragon was anything but what its name made it out to be. Filled to the brim with smugglers and cutthroats, it was one of the many trading ports for the developing Shroud Syndicate. It was there that Dum and his men would meet their “employer”, in a shady bar called Northern Nimbus.

Dum spat on the floor and stretched his neck as he stood up and reached the viewport. He saw the moon and the planet beyond, gleaming in the sunlight. They were fast approaching. Usually, he remembered, there would be some sort of patrol or some other ship of the Taldryan Navy, stopping them and checking for contraband. Nine times out of ten they’d just take anything they wanted and let the pirates and smugglers go, but other times they’d just impound their ships and throw them into a facility to rot away. Dum lost a lot of good partners that way, and he was glad the Taldryanites were scattered and gone.

“Oi, Kel. Why ain’t ya tellin’ us ‘bout this job any more than we already heard, eh?” one of the pirates spoke up. He was a large, brutish Nikto called Kodenga. Strange name for his species, but Dum didn’t question it. He was more interested in Kodenga’s constant knife-walk between loyalty and mutiny.

“‘Cause I don’t know any more than you, lazer brain.” Kodenga growled at the Duros, forcing his captain to grab for the blaster on his hip. “Now shut up. We had a deal with the Gathering.”

“I said kark the deal. Them fierfek’d hoomans are worth plenty more credits than we’re bein’ paid, and you know it,” the Nikto made his accusation loudly heard.

“I heard ya the first six times ya said that.” Kel straightened out, challenging the Nikto’s dominant presence. He looked around at the men’s faces. Some were on his side, some on Kodenga’s, but most were yet to be swayed. It was the nature of their work that made it a constant fight for power.

“Lemme ask you all this. If we botched this job and went rogue on our employer, how well do ya think the Leviathans would treat us. Huh? Any ideas?” Kel’s arms spread out, bidding anyone to answer. Half of the men in the ship pulled back at the mention of the Matron’s crew, the leading gang in the Shroud Syndicate. The Gathering was a mechanism to keep them all in line and Dum knew that, the true power lay in the hands of Captain Morgan and her bloodthirsty mongrels.

“Is any one of ya particularly keen on meetin’ their First Mate? Let’s hear it? Anyone here wanting to die the bloodiest death ya’ll can imagine, like we’ve seen done before?” He stopped for a moment and put his hand to his ear. “No one? Good. Now shut the kark up and let me think.” Even Kodenga looked agreeable after that threat.

“Boss!” the pilot’s voice came over the intercom. ”We’re here.”

Dum Kel looked out of the viewport again and found his view of the planet obscured by a massive hangar-mouth leading into Paragon Colony. He rushed to the bridge and took a position behind the pilot.

“Good job. Take her in slowly.” The ship edged through the force field into a long hangar hall that lead into the rock-face. Paragon had been built into the mountain, to protect it from orbital bombardment. The hangar mouth was large enough to hold an Imperial cruiser and allowed for unobstructed, two-way traffic. The Vulture edged into the massive cavern holding mooring clamps and smaller hangars where ships like the corvette could dock.

“Bay eight. Right there.” Kel pointed the pilot on the right direction. The ship came to a halt and landed calmly into its spot. Dum took his leave after clasping the pilot’s shoulders and ran down into the common room.

“I need nine men with me. We’re off to the bar they mentioned in the deal. The rest of you stay here. Twenty six should be enough to hold the fort. Kodenga’s in charge until I get back.” He gave the Nikto a serious look of don’t frak this up for us.

He and nine volunteers left for the cargo hold and found three more of their men, armed with blaster rifles, looking after the hostages. One of the scientists, a Mirialan woman named Amillia Sencha, reached out. “Please, what do you want from us?” she pleaded through fearful tears. Kel kneeled, grabbed her arm and pulled, slamming her nose against the metal bars. The woman fell on the floor, dazed and confused.

“Hey! Don’t touch her!” Oolong Var’ren, another of the hostages yelled out. Kel looked over at the Sullustan scientist and laughed.

“Mr. Hero, is it?” Kel gave one of his men a look of approval. “Stun him. We got work to do.” The other man smirked, shot the scientist and carried on his way. Oolong’s unconscious body fell into a pile in the middle of his cell.

Minutes later, the pirates geared up and walked down the hatch, onto the hangar floor. Only Kel looked back at his ship, hoping that this job wasn’t the biggest mistake he had done in his life.


(Turel Sorenn) #3

Docking Bay Eight, Paragon Colony
Kr’Tal system, former Taldryan space
Present time

A dark figure skulked in the shadows of the sprawling hanger, moving from crate to crate to get to a better vantage point. The mysterious stranger peeked over the top of their makeshift cover to assess those guarding the hatch of The Vulture. Once they had made certain their current location was out of the immediate line of sight, the wraith-like figure lowered a dark hood to reveal a platinum-haired Human female. She wore a black synthleather cuirass with a long sleeve undershirt, dark blue pants and dark boots. The former Imperial-agent-turned-Sentinel-Network-operative, Alethia Archenksova, pulled out a pair of electrobinoculars and peered over her hiding place to get a closer look.

Four guards protecting the hatch, haphazardly arranged and lacking in discipline from the looks of things. Criminal scum.

Before Alethia could pontificate on the crew’s lack of discipline, ten pirates disembarked The Vulture and began to loiter around the bay. One of the ten, a Duros male, appeared to be a leader of some sort, as he was the one shouting and pointing every which way. The rest of the group waited while the leader stopped to address the guards. The agent’s analysis was interrupted when she thought she heard movement behind her. Alethia dropped back into cover and slowly drew her sidearm, ready to vaporize someone if need be.

A familiar voice whispered from the darkness, “Relax, it’s me.”

A hooded figure emerged from behind a nearby stack of crates. The newcomer stepped into the light and lowered their hood to reveal a Human male with dark hair styled into an undercut with a wolf tail, emerald eyes, and an ever-present smirk. He wore a black cloak over gray street clothes. Turel Sorenn, High Councilor and Sentinel agent, certainly didn’t look the part of a Jedi. If it weren’t for the lightsaber hidden under his jacket, one would never have known he was anything other than the usual riff-raff who frequented the colony.

Alethia wasted no time. “What did you find out?” she asked without skipping a beat.

“The scientists are on board the ship alright, but there are at least two dozen pirates on there with them. A corvette like that with that many on board? That’s a suicide mission. Close quarters fighting, going in blind with no telling what traps they’ve rigged. We’d never reach the hostages in time, assuming we even survived.” Turel’s tone noticeably lacked his usual bravado and sarcasm. He was legitimately anxious.

“Agreed. If the scientists die before we can get to them, we lose the intel on whatever weapon they are developing.” The platinum haired woman pondered the situation for a moment. “Our best chance is to follow the Duros to the meeting; he’s likely their leader.”

Turel considered the proposed course of action before replying, “We need to call for reinforcements. This mission is simply too critical to risk on just us. If Pravus has some kind of new warhead, we need to know what it is and how to disable or counter it. Plus I know Keelan. He wouldn’t have sent that call unless things were really bad. Morgan wouldn’t trust something like this to a third-rate gang; she’s either here or on her way bringing Force knows what with her.”

Alethia couldn’t disagree with the Jedi’s analysis of the situation. The standard mission extraction team wouldn’t be enough; they needed a military response. “I’ll send the distress call via encrypted channels.” The ex-Imperial would never admit it, but she was starting to feel a knot form in her stomach as well. As capable as she knew the two of them were, the odds were not in their favor. They were now behind enemy lines; stealth was their only defense.

M/CRV Scorn
Hyperspace
Eight Hours Ago

Ishanta awoke to the comlink on her nightstand beeping. She sighed with irritation as she gently disentangled herself from the naked Twi’lek female beside her. The Chiss Inquisitor rolled over and picked up the device.

“What is it?”

A communications specialist on the other end of the com replied in a nervous tone, “Sorry to disturb you Grand Inquisitor, but we’ve intercepted some critical communication on one of the enemy frequencies.”

The former Sith glanced down at the now stirring Twi’lek with her burning red eyes. Her companion did not need to hear any of this. “Send it to my office immediately and signal Leona to start analyzing it.” She paused for a moment, “And good work soldier. There is no need to apologize for doing your duty.”

The specialist’s voice took on a more confident tone, “Thank you Grand Inquisitor, I’ll send it to your personal terminal at once.”

The emerald colored Twi’lek yawned and stretched, “What is it?”

Ishanta leaned over and gently kissed her companion on the forehead. She was playing a dangerous game mixing business and pleasure like that. Rhiaen Ust’essi was firmly in her grasp, but still not to be trusted. The Chiss reached out through the Force to subtly touch Rhiaen’s mind.

“Nothing you need trouble yourself with. Go back to sleep and forget all about it.”

The Twi’lek laid back down, “It’s none of my business anyway, I’ll just go back to sleep.”

Ishanta felt a small amount of guilt as she stood up to retrieve a robe to cover her powder blue body. The Captain’s quarters were far nicer than the cells below, but it was a prison for Rhiaen none the less. A prison of the mind mostly, as the former Sith warped Rhiaen’s mind through constant manipulation and Force-based intrusion. The Inquisitor had long gotten the information she needed out of the Twi’lek,but kept her around for reasons she couldn’t fully explain. At first she told herself it was a bit of fun before she disposed of the former Sentinel agent. It meant nothing, or at least it was supposed to mean nothing. Now, she wasn’t so sure.

The Grand Inquisitor pushed aside her moral dilemma for the moment as she entered her private office. Her trusty BT-01 droid, Leona, greeted the Chiss with several affectionate chirps.

“Show me what we’ve found Leona,”

A partial transcript of the intercepted transmission appeared in a holoprojection over Ishanta’s desk. The transmission itself was heavily encrypted, but weeks of intercepting Lotus communications had given her crew a partial key. It still took time, and no small amount of computing power, to break the encryption. Even when they decrypted the raw audio, the enemy agents still used codewords they had to decipher. She studied the words carefully for nearly a minute before giving a command to her faithful droid.

“Leona, cross reference ‘chariot’, ‘raven nest’, and ‘crimson’ with all other Lotus communiques in our database.”

The droid gave an affirmative set of chirps before the words on the holo shifted to show a visual diagram linking the keywords to all matches in the database. The Scorn’s crew of analysts had already made some educated guesses as to what each code word referred to: ‘raven nest’ was clearly some kind of HQ, based on the context of the messages. ‘Crimson’ was still unclear, as it hadn’t come up in enough messages for them to make a firm association, but ‘chariot’ was a code word they had only broken recently. Chariot had made enough detailed transmissions during the Combat Master’s recent excursion onto the Matron for Ishanta’s analysts to conclude the sender was embedded on the Matron itself. They couldn’t pinpoint if Chariot was part of Morgan’s inner circle or one of the tertiary gangs, but it was clear that the Lotus had eyes and ears on the Herald’s ship.

Ishanta withheld that particular bit of information from her Inquisition superiors. Without clear proof it was dangerous for her to move against a Dark Councilor, and she felt Marick would botch any response. Atra’s clumsy intrusion into the Matron had stirred the proverbial pot enough for her to discover a Lotus mole existed, but further intervention from the Voice or Combat Master would have compromised everything she had worked for up to that point. She had to be the one to expose Morgan, but only after she had either Turel or Vorsa in her custody as unequivocal proof of the Herald’s treachery.

Ishanta stared at the charts for several long minutes, her ruby eyes burning with focus. The intercepted communication had given a location in the clear: Paragon Colony on the former Taldyran moon of Alturis. A Lotus agent in distress and any potential agents sent for extraction would be extremely valuable in the Grand Inquisitor’s interrogation chambers.

Ishanta keyed up her comlink to the bridge.

“Yes, Grand Inquisitor?”

“Make for Alturis at best possible speed. Prepare a small team for low-key insertion. Continue to monitor enemy channels for any mention of Alturis or Paragon.”

“It shall be done, my lady!”

Ishanta stood up and headed for her refresher. Going to a filthy hole like Paragon was no excuse not to look her best.


(Aurora "Aura" Ta'var) #4

Planet Mimban
Mimban System, Surron Sector

A gentle breeze tugged at the pink Zeltron’s short, crystal blue hair as she followed the towering figure of the yellow-skinned Neti, V’yr Vorsa, to the top of a large sloping hill. Lexi Corden — the young, blond-haired human girl in a long, flowing, white robe — followed closely behind them. Multi-colored trees dotted the landscape in an idyllic, sporadic pattern, and long green grass coated the ground like a thick rug. The quiet trio slowly walked with a leisure few could afford, but it came with a precious stillness that was well worth the cost of a little patience. The only sounds that could be heard, apart from the sound of ruffled grass underfoot, were the wind and the happy chatter of birds.

Blade reached out to the Force around her, focusing on the bright presences of her two companions. They lit up the air around them in ways she couldn’t quite describe, but it gave her a sense of ease that was hard to find when left to her own devices. She let it wash over her and smiled, bathing in the Living Force. The Palatinaean pinched her arm for good measure. Oww, she thought. It was real. Somehow, some way, she had found herself in the company of Jedi, one of which meant far more to the Zeltron. V’yr Vorsa was a Jedi General of old that more often than not reminded Blade of her wondrous childhood stories of Jedi peacekeepers who had saved the galaxy countless times. The Neti’s very presence often reminded her that such things were more than just stories.

The sun broke her reverie as they crested the hill. Finally, she thought as a breeze caressed her cheeks. It was chilly, even with the sun’s warming embrace, but the Sith couldn’t feel the cold. Her suggestive, dark navy outfit wasn’t the warmest, even with a robe, but it was enough. The Force, and the place she was in, gave her energy. She raised a hand to her eyes, blocking out the sun, and saw that she was on top of a wide plateau overlooking the surrounding grasslands. Bright red and purple flowers dotted the landscape below, as the rising sun’s rays kissed the ground underneath.

“Wow. It’s beautiful,” Blade said before she could stop herself, wide-eyed and amazed.

“Indeed. But there is more to this place than just the surface. What do you feel?” asked Vorsa as she turned her gaze from the horizon with a somber expression.

The Arcanist knelt down, rested a hand on the ground, and took a deep breath as she reached out once more to the energies around her. She could feel the Jedi’s soothing light, her own darker vortex, and a similarly dark energy which, oddly enough, seemed to permeate everything around her. She gasped in surprise as an onset of mental images flashed across her conscious. Her good mood was spoiled by scenes of forlorn cries, desperate pleas for help, and the abandoned graveyards of the dead.

Blade raised her shaking hand off the ground and stared back at the Neti.

“Why are we here?” the Sith asked dejectedly.

“It is a place of great calamity and turmoil. A war was fought here. A Clone War which left a wound in the Force.” She stared back at Blade, as a teacher would stare at a student. “To learn about the consequences of your actions, Blade Ta’var, you must first experience them.”

“I thought I had. My memories aren’t going anywhere,” she said as she tapped the side of her head with her finger.

“No. You haven’t. Not yet. But, look around you. The great battle took place here a long time ago, yet you still feel the pain and sorrow through the Force. The grasslands may have grown back but you can feel the dark energy that still remains. Consequences can last a very long time,” the Jedi replied with a wisdom only a long life could give.

After travelling with the Neti for a few weeks, the Zeltron knew when a lesson was on hand. Lexi merely chose a patch of grass far enough away so she could meditate in peace and leave her Master to her teachings. Blade sat cross-legged on the ground, did her best to dispel any negative thoughts, and asked the question she asked all too often: “What do you mean?”

Vorsa sat across from her with that same somber expression Blade had seen before, and began her sad story. “There was a time when this hill did not exist, nor the others we crossed… Long ago, I helped cause the sorrow you feel today, along with every other Jedi who served in the Clone Wars. I commanded an army on this very soil, and many died under my command. Allow me to tell you their tale…”

The Arcanist listened patiently to the Jedi’s story, putting a hand to the ground every once in awhile when she wanted an accompanying picture. It was a story of a massacre that took far too many lives for reasons that would never be good enough. The Sith shifted uncomfortably in the grass, drawing parallels to her own bouts of murder. She found herself wondering how V’yr Vorsa, a Jedi General who had helped cause the carnage so long ago, could be so serene.

“How can you be so calm? I try to be the unmovable rock in the ocean of my own mind, like you told me to be, but I often feel overwhelmed.” Guilt pounded her conscience, threatening to consume her. Blade took a deep breath and stared in awe at the peaceful, smiling visage of the Neti.

“The Force is my ally,” Vorsa said. “I breathe it, I live it, and it grants me peace. You must learn to channel the Living Force as I do. Find your inner calm. Only then will you be able to reign in your inner fire and master yourself.”

The Zeltron sighed. She had learned that Vorsa’s interpretation of the Jedi Code, among many other things, was far different from the traditions she had heard about. She had even memorized the words, but that was not enough to understand them.

“Come, let us spar. I will show you the path, but only you can walk it,” the Neti smiled again as she stood up and offered her hand.

The Warrior took it and walked a few paces away, activating her red blade with a snap-hiss in sync with Vorsa’s own orange, lava-like saber. Blade still felt uncomfortable battling the Jedi with a red-colored blade, but she kept it as a reminder of what she had done. She stared determinedly at the Neti, ready to try her best.

“Remember, some emotions are good. Some are bad. Love. Not Hate. Let go when it becomes too much. Stay calm. Understand?”

“I’ll try.”

“An old Jedi once said, ‘Do or do not. There is no try.’”

“Don’t call yourself old just yet,” teased Blade.

“This is not the time for jests, Blade Ta’var,” said the Neti, fighting off a smirk.

Vorsa launched forward, rapid strikes flowing into an unpredictable blur as her constantly moving hair swayed unnaturally with her momentum. The Warrior matched her ferocity, paying close attention to her own sense of balance. Her control slipped more often than not, but the Neti had plenty of helpful reminders and advice to keep the Zeltron from straying too far. Lightsaber clashed against lightsaber as both Vaapad users connected with each other to form a superconducting loop. Combat and the Force became a means of communication for ideas that couldn’t quite express themselves in the spoken word. For Blade, it was its own sort of magic.

Time passed slowly as they continued their energetic “conversation”. Lexi tried to drown out the clashing of sabers, wondering when the pair would stop sparring. How long have they been at it? Vorsa’s comm beeped to life, further interrupting her meditation. She attempted to ignore it, the device not belonging to her after all, but it was soon apparent that her Master and her sparring partner were not slowing. After a defeated sigh, Lexi opened her eyes, snatched the device from nearby and blinked in disbelief when she realized who it was on the other end.


“The High Councillor is what?!” Lexi’s outcry was full of concern and shock.

Vorsa didn’t need her apprentice’s shout to get her attention. The Force was more than enough. A strong sense of dread and concern hit her like a sucker punch to the gut. Something was wrong. The Neti backed off from the fight, put away her saber, and ran over to Lexi, who was already deep in discussion.

“…to Vorsa,” Arcia Cortel stated plainly, finishing her statement.

“She is standing right here, Destri.” The Padawan called her sister by her birth name. “She can hear everything. Just repeat what you said.”

“Alexia Corden, now.” Cortel’s annoyance was thick enough to cut through. “And don’t call me that. You know better.”

Lexi rolled her eyes and handed the comm over to Vorsa. Blade walked over to the Jedi, remaining silent as she listened to the tense conversation.

“Vorsa speaking. Is something wrong, Arcia?!” The Neti made a point of calling the Admiral by her desired name, instead of her given one.

“They are in trouble. They need reinforcements and time is critical. If you can lend your support it is now or never.” Arcia’s no-nonsense tone was clear, even over the the comm’s speaker.

The Jedi general closed her eyes for a moment, channeling the Force as she explored the connection between the cryptic warning she had just received and her strong sense of foreboding, one she usually felt when Turel was in danger. Only a few could elicit the magnitude of that response.

“It is good that you have contacted us. Where is he now?” Vorsa asked calmly. She wasn’t one to lose her composure, even when her husband was in danger.

“Kr’tal system, formally Taldryan space. Ever since they abandoned the system the pirates have gotten out of control there.”

“I can see why Turel would scout ahead. Has he gone alone?”

“No. Archenksova is with him. Are you able to help out?”

Vorsa paused momentarily, concerned not for herself but rather for the two women standing beside her — Blade in particular. Blade returned her saber to her belt and gave Vorsa a reassuring look. “I can help.”

Lexi stared at the Zeltron doubtfully, but said nothing, giving the Neti a simple, yet meaningful glance…

The Sith stared determinedly into Vorsa’s golden eyes. “I can help.”

The Neti turned to the comm again, “We are ready to assist in any way.” Despite Alexia’s uncertainty, the Jedi general had faith in the young Zeltron.

“Where are you? The Fleet might be able to pick you up,” Arcia said with an inaudible nod.

“Mimban, Surron Sector. It should be on your way. An…associate currently working with Alethia is also travelling with us.”

“Understood. I’m sending you coordinates for a rendezvous. See you soon. Cortel out.” The crisp imperial accent sounded annoyed already. The Sith found herself hoping that she would be better received in person.

Vorsa turned to Blade and looked her over. “Follow my lead. Listen, and do not do anything foolish. Many of our companions will not approve of you, but we will convince them otherwise. Understood?”

“Yes ma’am.”

The Zeltron waited the several heartbeats before Vorsa said, “We go.”

The trio ran back to their shuttle waiting several hilltops away, and took off, heading for the meeting point with the fleet.

Space, Mimban System
Surron Sector

A small, dark painted shuttle made its solitary way through the Surron Sector, effectively cloaking itself against the black expanse of space. None of its lights were on, save for the two tiny pinpricks that illuminated from the eye sockets of two pilot droids. To the naked eye, the shuttle appeared abandoned and adrift, like so many lost ships, but the Force revealed something far more dangerous. A small, hooded figure dressed all in black sat cross-legged in the back of the ship. The only sign of life from the amber-skinned Iktochi female was the steady rise and fall of her chest as she breathed.

Darth Necren, a loyal Sith in service to Darth Pravus, reached out the energy around her and looked for the abominations she called the Jedi. Hatred flared through her very being as she recalled the reason she had been sent out this far in the first place: V’yr Vorsa. The Jedi General had not only escaped her grasp but cost her the lives of her loyal guards. Pravus did not take the failure well. She was to either destroy the Neti, bringing her head to the Lord of the Sith in person, or suffer the consequences. Her hands clenched into fists as rage took over for but a moment.

Where are you, Jedi?

Necren had successfully followed breadcrumbs for weeks, but unfortunately lost the scent somewhere in the Surron Sector. She reached out as far as the she could through the Force, about to abandon her search for another sector, until the Dark Side gave her an unexpected present that made her lip curl with pleasure. A bright presence radiated like a torch in pitch darkness, calling the Iktochi to it like a firefly to a glowrod. Deep set orange eyes snapped open as the Sith stood up with an unnatural grace. She rushed back into the cockpit and ordered the pilot droids to change course.

“There is a shuttle close by. Follow it. Hurry, before we lose her again.”

The droids worked together to change course, Necren’s ship shooting off to the right as it chased after the Jedi’s fleeing shuttle. The Sith waited patiently until the shuttle came into view on the radar, smiling with sharp pointed teeth as she thought of the many ways she could murder the Neti.

Finally…


(C'ree) #5

Godless Matron
The Ball
Present Time

The echo of her boots upon the durasteel deck was enough to make the vagrants and murderers of the Matron vanish from her sight, to her dismay. Everyone ran from her and no one attempted to talk or interact in any way — everyone except for Morgan. The Human woman was the only person who ever showed the half-Sephi compassion, and the only one who ever treated her like a person. The two trusted each other implicitly and would never speak ill of one another, or tell a lie…

Or so C’ree thought.

‘They are together again…whispering,’ C’ree heard a familiar voice echoing from everywhere and nowhere at once.

“You hush,” C’ree stated under her breath, to no one in particular.

‘You find her and see!’ it screeched, the ferocity of it causing C’ree to jump in place, quickening her pace through the corridor.

As she approached the dead-end holding a single door to the captain’s chambers, she extended a charred fingertip and dragged it across the bulkhead, while clenching her eyes shut, hoping the voice was wrong. But there it was…the whispering through the walls. The voice of a man and a woman in heated conversation: an argument. The closer C’ree approached, the more she could hear. Her eyes opened and she pressed her cheek against the smooth wall, feeling it’s cold touch.

“You did what?” came the muffled voice of her captain. “I can’t believe you could be this stupid!”

The response was too hushed to hear, likely at the far side of the chambers, but C’ree knew who it was.

‘Keelan!’ the inner voice growled with malice.

Morgan’s muffled voice sweetened the air once again, causing the half-Sephi to lick her lips. “You attempted communication with her on unsecure channels. You know better than this. I’m having trouble comprehending your stupidity right now, Keelan.”

C’ree’s eyes rolled at the mention of the man’s name, but her breathing deepened upon hearing Morgan’s voice; her breath painted fog across the cold metal, leaving streaks where her lips and tongue passed over it. Their heated discussion began to evolve into an inferno, Morgan and Keelan continuing to yell back and forth about who was right and who was wrong. This gave C’ree the opportunity to manually open the door to the captain’s quarters part way and sneak in without being noticed. She stood in a dark corner of the room as Keelan, hands balled into fists, stood brashly in front of the pirate captain, teeth grinding upon one another.

C’ree had seen this situation several times in the past. Keelan always defied Morgan, when they felt they were not being watched. But C’ree always saw. Always. She noticed the way they spoke and the way they berated one another. It was infuriating, and many times the half-Sephi simply wanted to remove the man’s tongue so he could never spit such foul words to her Morgan…but she was careful. She never acted on her emotions and no one was ever the wiser.

“I only did what was my duty, Morgan! You’ve obviously forgotten what that word even means!”

A sickening crack rang out when Morgan’s hand forcibly impacted Keelan’s face, which ripped the half-Sephi back to the present. She couldn’t hold back her giggle as the man brought a hand to cradle his face, a gasp letting loose. The two both snapped their gaze to the corner, immediately changing their demeanor towards one another.

“Carrie. What are you doing here?” Morgan demanded, causing the half-Sephi’s eyes to narrow.

The woman opened her mouth to speak, but immediately closed it and looked at the deck. Morgan didn’t usually speak harshly to C’ree, but when she did, the half-Sephi did not handle it well. After a moment of silence and a judging stare from Keelan, C’ree looked up to speak, but she was just a moment too late.

“Are you going to just stand there like a statue or are you going to talk, harpy?” Keelan spat.

In an instant, C’ree’s face darkened, her eyes narrowed, and a crackle of blue lightning danced between her fingers. Morgan was the first to notice and placed a hand on C’ree’s shoulder before giving Keelan a disapproving look. Using her other hand she turned her first mate’s face back towards her, taking all of C’ree’s attention. The darkened expressions fell away, the lightning subsided, and C’ree sighed, almost as if in relief.

“Carrie. What’s wrong?” Morgan spoke softly to the woman, knowing how fragile she was. C’ree rarely came to her quarters uninvited or unannounced. Something was wrong.

“Crew speaks. Paragon Colony taken by pirates. Silly Inquisition forces there, though. Crew rumor say deal happening,” C’ree spoke in a hushed tone, but looked directly at Morgan when speaking.

Sorenn growled. “What deal? We never made a deal with anyone on Paragon Colony.” The Captain took a long moment to think about it, but nothing really came to mind. The crew rarely spread rumors about insignificant jobs, mostly those that paid very well. The fact that Keelan’s scientists had disappeared not too long ago seemed to linger in Morgan’s mind as she thought about it. It was no coincidence. “Kark it, we have to go there and see what’s going on… Both of you get your things ready. We’re leaving within the hour.”

Keelan glared at her, unsure what her plan was, but in the presence of her first mate, he had to comply. “Yeah. I’ll be ready real quick, Morgan,” he stated as he made his way towards the door.

C’ree, however, simply extended her arms outwards at either side and offered a small bow, revealing her lightsaber at her side. “C’ree always ready for Morgan. On Morgan’s word.”

Keelan managed one final glare in the half-Sephi’s direction before he exited the chamber and the door clasped shut. In an instant, the air almost seemed to chill as C’ree slowly recovered from her bow and looked at Morgan once again. Her expression was one of concern and of suspicion.

“What you two speak of?”

Morgan waved a hand dismissively, as she always did when C’ree asked what was happening between her and Keelan. “It doesn’t matter, Carrie. Just something I promised to do for a friend.”

C’ree’s breathing slowed as her teeth began grinding together in frustration. “What we do?”

“This business on Paragon wasn’t organized by us, meaning someone within the Syndicate is pulling our chain and making us do their dirty work. I won’t have it. I want to know who this person is,” Morgan’s voice cut through the chill of C’ree’s aura with ease and with a frozen anger of it’s own.

“We will find this betrayer,” C’ree stated perfectly, malice dripping from every word. “Then Morgan and C’ree will speak of what is really happening…”

Before Morgan could develop a response, C’ree left the captain alone in her chambers and closed the door. She stormed through the corridors before her, pushing past anyone who didn’t move from her path in time, and made her way to her private chambers deeper within the Matron. She began pacing back and forth, looking up at the various objects made of skulls, sharp glass and metal she hung from the ceiling. They reminded her of the small trinkets she had in what could be considered a past life. None of them moved or made a sound, due to how they were hung in perfect balance: they were there to keep her calm.

‘She hides things from you,’ the voice returned and taunted C’ree.

“Shut it, you. I no need to hear this. Morgan is mine; my family, she know what is best.”

‘Family does not lie! Family does not betray family!’ it screamed within her.

“Stop!” C’ree yelled, slamming her fist into the durasteel bulkhead, causing all of the hanging objects to jingle as if responding to her anger and pain.

‘C’ree will see. C’ree will find truth. You wait, silly girl,’ the voice promised.

The half-Sephi didn’t like that promise, but she knew something was going on with Morgan lately. The more she spoke with Keelan in private, the more C’ree would be told to not worry about anything. The more Morgan told her not to worry, the more C’ree became suspicious. Family was not supposed to keep secrets. Family was supposed to confide in each other.

Much to C’ree’s dismay, Morgan was not acting like family.


(Turel Sorenn) #6

Northen Nimbus, Paragon Colony
Kr’Tal system, former Taldryan space

Tacky club music thumped through the walls of the Northern Nimbus VIP lounge. A Zeltron male with slicked back black hair, wearing chief inquisitor robes under a gray cloak, paced across the plush purple carpet. Four of the Inquisitor’s men, each dressed in civilian attire, sat anxiously on the garish club furniture.

“What do you mean there’s a Grand Inquisitor on the way here?!” Seth Taric inquired as he stopped pacing.

A Nautolan stared nervously at her Zeltron superior who was now standing impatiently in the center of the room. “We were hailed on the secure command channel, the credentials validated as a Grand Inquisitor.”

“And you told him where we were and what we were doing?!”

“Her, actually. And—” she paused suddenly, feeling very foolish. “I’m sorry boss, I should have stalled her or made something up. It just all happened so fast, she seemed so helpful—”

Seth raised his hand to cut his subordinate off. “She played you.”

An awkward silence hung over the VIP lounge until it was interrupted by the door opening. Ishanta glided into the room past a sea of surprised glances, her svelte legs wrapped in maroon synthleather, with her dark boots sinking into the soft carpet with each step. The gold-trimmed coattails of her navy-colored jacket fluttered behind her.

“I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” the Chiss stated nonchalantly as she absently fiddled with the gold chain on her jacket.

A series of blasters pointed at Ishanta as Seth’s team reacted to the sudden intrusion.

The Zeltron Inquisitor glared at the stranger, “And who are you supposed to be?”

Ishanta brought her right hand up to her lips in a mock gesture of innocence. “Oh dear, where are my manners?” She turned to the Nautolan, “Athena, could you be a dear and introduce me to your comrades.”

The junior Inquisitor gulped as her supervisor was now glaring at her. “Um, this is Grand Inquisitor Ishanta.” She turned toward the Zeltron, “Ishanta, may I introduce Chief Inquisitor Taric.”

The Chiss bowed gracefully, “A pleasure to meet your acquaintance, Athena.” She stood up and saw the guns were still pointed at her. “Now, was that so hard? Good manners cost nothing.”

Seth’s eyes narrowed on the azure-skinned woman in front of him. “And how do I know you are who you say you are?” He raised his hand to signal his men to block the exits. “You could be a Lotus spy, we should detain you just to be sure.”

Ishanta sighed loudly in exasperation, “Why must you be so rude? I so detest unnecessary violence. So distasteful.” She released her gold chain and slowly raised her right hand into a fist. The four men with guns suddenly lowered their weapons and started grasping at their throats, struggling for air.

Athena jumped in between Ishanta and Seth, throwing her hands out to her side. “Everyone stop! There has been a huge misunderstanding here. We’re all on the same side.” She turned to the Chiss Adept, “Grand Inquisitor please.” Her tone was legitimately pleading.

Ishanta opened her palm and the gunmen each took in deep gasps of air. “Since you used the magic word.” She pulled a small communitor out of her coat. “Leona, transmit my credentials to Chief Inquisitor Taric.”

A few tense moments passed and Seth’s advanced Inquisition communitor beeped. He looked at the screen before responding in a tone indicative of the proverbial crow he was now eating, “Apologies Grand Inquisitor, what can we do for you?” He signaled for his team to lower their weapons.

“I must apologize for intruding unannounced, but things on Paragon have grown complicated. For the moment our mission objectives coincide. I’m afraid I’m going to have to take command of this operation so our efforts can be coordinated.” Seeing the Chief Inquisitor’s growing frustration, Ishanta continued, “Don’t worry, I have little interest in the scientists. You will be free to deliver them to Marick once I have what I’m after.”

“And what would that be exactly?”

“The senior leaders of the Lotus. At least several of them.”

Seth looked baffled. “But how do you know they are here?”

The Chiss smiled, “I have my ways, but my team intercepted a coded transmission from one of their agents. Trust me, they are on their way here.”

“We should inform the Herald at once, she just landed in—”

Ishanta cut Seth off. “The Herald is on the colony?!”

“Yes, Grand Inquisitor, I thought you would have known that.” Seth retorted with a certain degree of smugness.

Ishanta’s mind raced with possibility. Morgan is here personally? Things just got interesting. Perhaps that Lotus agent is more deeply embedded in her crew than I thought. If the agent had information that could implicate the Herald…

“Tell me everything you know about the Herald’s involvement in this situation.”

Athena replied, “The Herald only became involved recently, ma’am. We have operatives in her crew — in the top of her organization, in fact — who arranged for the kidnapping and the exchange. We were a little surprised when she came here in person.”

“Thank you my dear, that’s good to know. Your cooperation in this matter is greatly appreciated. I will ensure you are properly recognized by the Inquisitorius when this is over.”


Oola Street, Paragon Colony
Kr’Tal system, former Taldryan space
30 minutes later

Ishanta pulled the dull gray cloak closer to her body as she moved through the city streets. It felt like a crime to cover up such a fashionable outfit with such drab outerwear, but she did need to stay somewhat low key. While she flowed through the crowd with practiced ease, she didn’t bother to focus on maintaining an illusion or concealing her presence in the Force. Her mind was elsewhere. The Chiss was nearly giddy at the prospect of being able to not only apprehend a Lotus agent, but also incriminate the Herald as well. She’d be one step closer to a Dark Council seat and eventually the Iron Throne itself.

The Grand Inquisitor’s mind raced with scenarios on how best to ferret out the Lotus agent; victory was within her grasp. Her train of thought came to an abrupt halt as a ripple in the Force signalled the presence of one exceptionally strong in the Dark Side. She slowed her pace and shifted to the outskirts of the crowd, searching for the source of the approaching dark tempest. Ishanta feigned stopping at a kiosk to browse while stealing glances at the street. Her blazing crimson eyes darted from one end of the street to the other with no sign of anything out of the ordinary.

Ishanta could sense that the dark presence was still closing in, even if her eyes told her nothing was there. She resumed walking toward her ship, sticking close to the edge of the walkway. Before she could react, a hand grabbed her from behind and pulled her into a side alley. The Chiss found herself pressed up against the wall and face to face with an amber-skinned Iktotchi female with orange eyes and wearing pitch black robes. She recognized the mysterious assailant immediately — Darth Necren.

“Come with me,” the Iktotchi hissed through her pointed teeth. It was not a request.

The Chiss Inquisitor weighed her options for a split second as her heart pounded adrenaline through her body. The Dark Council’s most trusted assassin could have killed her then and there, but she didn’t. That meant she had a message of some sort. Ishanta nodded and brushed herself off after Necren released her. The pair of darksiders went further into the alley and through a metal door to a nondescript storeroom.

“You could have just called,” the Chiss spat with some indignation. “What can I do for you?”

“Your convenience is of little concern to me, Inquisitor, time is of the essence. V’yr Vorsa is on her way here with an Odanite strike force. I need all the information you have on Lotus activities in this system and the location of the scientists.”

Ishanta did her best to hide the confusion she was now feeling. Necren’s presence alone was a major disruption to the game board, now the traitorous former Herald was coming as well. “Vorsa? Here? Are you certain of this?”

Necren glared at the upstart Adept, “I do not require your understanding, only your obedience. Give me the information I require.”

The Grand Inquisitor took a deep breath to calm her growing frustration. “Things are complicated, my lord. The scientists are in the custody of one of the Herald’s pirate gangs and we have evidence that a Lotus agent has infiltrated her crew. We intercepted an encoded message from the agent requesting extraction.” She stroked her chin in thought, “Though, I didn’t expect Vorsa herself to come to the rescue. There’s likely to be senior Lotus members with her.”

“If they get in my way, they will die. Otherwise, I’m here to collect the Neti’s head and take it back to my master.”

Ishanta ignored the glaring mystery of who Necren’s master was. It was enough for her to know that the Prophet represented the will of the Grand Master and likely the Star Chamber itself. This presented a significant risk to her plan. Necren had no interest in capturing any of the Lotus leaders, including Vorsa. She was just as likely to kill them all before Ishanta had a chance to extract any information or incriminating evidence from them. Worse still, the Prophet would now get the full credit for this operation if it was successful. The Chiss pondered how to twist this situation to her advantage.

“My lord, if we pool our resources we will have a better chance of catching both the Lotus agent and those coming to rescue the scientists. Everything seems to hinge on the hostages. Mor— the Herald has come to the colony herself, most unexpectedly, to oversee the transfer.”

“Go retrieve the hostages from the Herald’s minions immediately. We cannot allow this opportunity to slip past us. They are the perfect bait.”

The Grand Inquisitor scoffed for a moment. She was not prepared to confront the Herald directly. Her plan had been to ferret out the agent and take any evidence she gained to the Dark Council personally. Things were quickly unravelling and Necren was the one tugging at the threads.

“My lord, perhaps if we waited until the agent revealed himself then we could—”

Necren interrupted with a growl of frustration. “I don’t care about your schemes or your delusions of grandeur. Just do as you are commanded or suffer the consequences!”

Ishanta didn’t need an elaboration on what the consequences for defying the Grand Master’s assassin were. “As you wish.”

“Bring the hostages here and signal me when the task is complete. I have preparations to make before Vorsa’s arrival.”

“We should call in reinforcements to help trap the Lotus strike force. It would serve both our missions.”

“I will leave that to your Inquisitors. Call in whomever you wish, but they are to wait and arrive only after Vorsa is aboard the colony. I will not let her escape again.”

The Grand Inquisitor left with a bow and set off for the hanger with haste. She fumed with anger once she was a safe distance away. Necren was the proverbial Rancor in a china shop, wrecking her carefully laid plans. Ishanta began to plot how she could still come out ahead. She couldn’t defy the Prophet openly, but she wouldn’t go out of her way to help her either.

She keyed up her comlink and waited for a response.

“Yes, Grand Inquisitor.”

“Send a team to meet me at the end of Oola street. There’s been a change of plans.”


(C'ree) #7

Hangar 12, Paragon Colony
Kr’Tal system, former Taldryan space

A GX1 Short Hauler dropped out of hyperspace a short distance from Paragon Colony, navigating its way towards one of the many hangars available for docking. The ship bore no special markings and it was apparent that the owners took little to no care of the outside hull given its scored look. As the ship entered the large hangar bay, the pilot cut the main engines and less than gracefully dropped the ship to the deck below with a resounding thud and screech of metal. After a short pause, the main cargo doors hissed open, allowing a group of pirates to exit, followed by Morgan Sorenn, Keelan and a disgruntled looking C’ree.

“Pilot no know how to land, Morgan,” the half-Sephi grumbled under her breath, not caring if the Sorenn woman heard her or not.

If the Human woman did hear, she didn’t make it obvious as she pushed through the small group of pirates she brought with them and made her way through the crowd of mixed species darting back and forth from kiosk to kiosk. Smugglers of all shapes and sizes entered and exited the hangar, taking and leaving pieces of ship equipment, weapons, textiles and more. The hangar must have been used for cargo and a quick place to unload and reload for a fast price.

As the group made their way towards the main hangar doors leading further into the station, Morgan pointed out a large terminal which seemed to contain a manifest of ships. “Keelan, see what we have to work with.”

Without a word, Keelan quickly moved up to the terminal and started slicing into the colony’s management systems to retrieve the information Morgan requested. As the moments passed, the captain continued to scan the hangar while the rest of the pirates mingled about the kiosks and spoke with the occasional passerby. C’ree, however, hovered directly behind Keelan.

“What taking so long?”

Keelan rolled his eyes and sighed. “Your insistent bugging won’t make this go any faster.”

“No. You make it go faster. So go faster,” she said plainly.

Morgan turned her gaze to the two, pointing at Keelan first. “You, hurry up. You, be quiet.”

The half-Sephi looked to her superior and noticed Morgan’s finger was now pointing at her. As the two simply watched each other, they both remained silent as Keelan informed them of his success in downloading the manifest. The man gave a datapad to Morgan, who quickly snatched it up and made her way through the doors, not wanting to wait around for someone to be killed in a backwater place like Paragon.

“Let’s go. The manifest says the Vulture is this way,” the pirate captain stated, leading the way.

As the crew gathered and followed Morgan, C’ree followed towards the back of the group, dragging her finger across the rough bulkheads as she passed. Many eyes avoided the group as they progressed through the corridors, but many more watched them. No one was trusting on the station and, suffice to say, there was no reason for anyone to be. C’ree nearly knocked a young Twi’lek over as she was looking around, noticing a sign pointing her towards the station’s cantina.

“Oh, my! I’m so sorry!” the green skinned girl exclaimed, looking up at the half-Sephi towering over her.

C’ree grinned and looked down at the girl, licking her own fingers and pressing them to the girl’s lips. “You fine. You go now.”

With eyes wide, the Twi’lek girl quickly ran off, her head turned to watch C’ree as she disappeared from sight. Several of the pirates chuckled to one another at the situation, but quickly contained themselves and continued following their captain as she turned a corner. She immediately halted, arms crossing before her, as the captain of the Vulture came into view, walking in her direction with a small group of his own.

“Heading off for some drinks, are we boys?” Morgan stated as they grew closer.

The Vulture captain looked as if he was struck dumb at seeing Morgan and her group, but approached and blinked several times. “Sorenn, what are you doing here?”

“Since when have I ever been required to announce or explain myself to you, Dum? And that’s Captain Sorenn to you.” the woman replied.

“We…well, I…” Dum began, but was quickly cut off.

“You didn’t think. You just acted on your own greed and you botched it,” Morgan informed the man and his group. “Now you have the Lotus trailing you and we have to fix this mess.”

“What? The Lotus? How—”

“Nevermind how. Where is your ship? I need to inspect your “cargo”,” Sorenn waved the man back into silence.

One of the men accompanying Dum was smart enough not to oppose the Human woman and pointed in the direction of the hangar holding the Vulture. With a nod, Morgan summoned her crew to follow and stormed away, leaving the remaining pirates thankful their lives were still theirs. Once the crowd dispersed, their eyes widened once again seeing that C’ree had remained behind. She slowly walked up to the Vulture’s captain, one foot in front of the other, and pushed him against one of the bulkheads, taking in a deep sniff.

“You smell of fear, captain,” the half-Sephi informed him.

The man couldn’t bring himself to say anything as the first mate gazed deep into his eyes. “You disobey Morgan. You make Morgan mad. I no like mad Morgan. I really no like man making Morgan mad.”

The half-Sephi slowly brought a hand to the Duros’ neck and began to squeeze, looking to the other pirates as if daring them to interfere. They quickly darted in different directions leaving the captain to his fate. C’ree turned back to the Duros and nuzzled her nose into his neck as she felt him begin to struggle to breathe. The satisfaction gained from the act of preventing life caused her to shiver with excitement when, suddenly, her attention was drawn elsewhere.

In the direction Morgan and her crew had just departed towards, a presence made itself known, like a pin prick in the back of C’ree’s mind. With narrowed eyes, she studied it for a moment and noticed it escape her nearly as fast as it arrived. With a low growl, the half-Sephi turned back to the pirate and pulled him in for a deep kiss, biting into his lower lip in the process and causing it to nearly burst open. He grunted in pain as her grip relaxed on his throat, a few tears dotting his eyes. C’ree pulled away from the man and dragged her other charred fingertip down his face, across the smooth skin where his nose would have been were he a human and through the blood covering his lips: all he could smell and taste was blood and burnt flesh.

C’ree turned to walk away from the man, licking the blood off her finger with a grin and began heading in the direction Morgan took Keelan and the others. “I find you later, Dum dum.”

C’ree arrived in front of the Vulture just in time to see Morgan exit the loading ramp. She dusted off her gloved hands and gave C’ree a quizzical look, seeing the mess she made of Dum, who had just followed behind the half-Sephi. She rolled her head — a tick she had picked up after learning never to roll her eyes at someone — annoyed that C’ree wasn’t helping the situation one bit.

She stopped, spreading feelings through the Force. “We’re about to have company, are you done with your games?” she asked coldly. C’ree simply gave her a hard stare, unamused. “The scientists are fine. One of them is out cold and another is sobbing in the corner of her cell, but they’re a picture of health.”

“So what now?” Keelan asked from inside the boarding ramp.

“Now,” she said as she stared at the door that lead to the promenade several hundred feet away, “we welcome our unannounced guests.”

A ripple in the Force drew C’ree’s attention in the same direction. The door opened with all the dramatic effect of a holomovie. The woman standing in the middle of it wore a lavish outfit, fashionably deadly, and carried herself with all the attitude and confidence of an empress. Morgan recognized the Chiss Grand Inquisitor immediately, seeing as she was particularly hard to miss. Next to her an astromech rolled on all-threes, while behind her a group of Inquisitorius agents followed like loyal dogs.

“It seems your question got its answer, Keelan. Go, prepare the scientists, but don’t let them out until I say so,” she ordered, Keelan following his instructions perfectly. “Captain Dum, if you’ll please prepare your men in case this deal turns sour?”

“Aye, captain,” the Duros rushed into his ship and came out with the rest of his crew just in time to see the Inquisitor and the Captain facing off, Ishanta’s smug expression contrasted by Morgan’s unamused eyes. He could feel the air electrifying between them, or maybe it was just his nerves screaming. He had seen what Force Users could do, and he was rightfully afraid of them. Suddenly he was glad the the Captain was in front of the Inquisitor instead of him.


(Alethia Archenksova) #8

CR90 Corvette The Vulture
Moments earlier

“Get back!” Turel hissed, shoving Alethia behind a bulkhead. “Morgan’s here!”

Alethia flattened herself against the durasteel plating as best she could, while Turel pressed himself against her, using his body as a shield against the oncoming threat. The Jedi gripped the inactive hilt of his lightsaber in one hand. The operative couldn’t reach her own weapons with Turel squishing her against the wall, so she snaked one arm around and under his cloak, running her fingers gently over the soft gray fabric of his shirt until the alighted on the hard metal of his holstered slugthrower. Her arm wrapped around the Sentinel, Alethia was ready to draw and start firing the instant she saw Morgan. If the Herald, the pirates, or the Inquisitorius caught them aboard, the Odanites would most likely never leave The Vulture alive — but Archenksova was dead-set on taking a few people with them.

The sound of footsteps echoed down the corridor, coming to a stop in front of the hostages and just on the other side of the doorway from where the Odanites were hiding.

“They look a little banged up, boss.” Alethia recognized Keelan’s voice. At least Chariot hadn’t been caught and tossed out an airlock just yet.

“They’re here and they’re alive,” Morgan answered flatly, her voice as sweet and husky as the cloud of cigarra smoke wafting out from her in every direction.

A stress response, Alethia mused, or perhaps Pravus’ tamed cythraul is just marking her territory.

“What’s wrong?” Keelan’s voice abruptly snapped Alethia back to focus. She could feel Turel tensing up.

“I sense…” Morgan began, her tone uncertain but definitely unhappy. “Kark. That kriffin’ sneaky— come on!”

Turel started breathing again as his sister’s footsteps hurried back towards the entrance where the rest of her entourage was presumably waiting.

“I thought she had us,” he said after a moment.

“Why didn’t she sense you?” Alethia asked. Her soft breath against his neck startled Turel, and he finally realized that the Commander was practically draped around him. He had instinctively tried to shield her from Morgan, and she had been happy enough to accept the protection.

“I’m naturally unobtrusive,” the elder Sorenn quipped as he extricated himself from his subordinate. “Do you always wear perfume on stealth missions?”

“Most men never get close enough to notice,” Archenksova answered, smoothing out her clothing with both hands. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell the General.” She smiled as Turel shot her an ugly look.

“And I won’t tell Mar,” the High Councilor retorted. Yeah, he thought to himself as the woman’s sly smile faded away. Figured that would shut you up. But all he said aloud was, “I don’t think Morgan wanted to sense me here anyway. That helps.”

Alethia nodded, then slipped past him, through the door and back to the captive scientists. “Now where were we?” she beamed at them.

Turel leaned against the bulkhead in the doorway, closed his eyes, and extended his senses beyond himself, beyond even the terrified hostages and Alethia, until he could be sure nobody was close enough to hear them. The crew of The Vulture was tough and dangerous, but they were hardly Morgan’s best crew. They coasted by on sheer brawn, and any semblance of discipline had left the vessel with her captain. The only sentients Turel could make out were distant and distracted…

Or at least they had been. A presence was heading straight towards them from the forward compartments, radiating grim determination. Not Morgan, but someone familiar.

“Keelan,” the Jedi smiled as the footsteps started to echo back down the corridor. “Alone.”

“Maybe he can open this containment field without setting off every alarm on this rust bucket.” Alethia had resumed her positions kneeling by the brig’s control panel, but neither she nor Turel had been able to figure out a safe way to bypass it.

Keelan’s eyes widened and his hand shot down to the grip of his blaster before he fully processed what he saw in front of him. “What are you doing here?” he mouthed, as if saying the words out loud would bring the whole Inquisitorius down upon them.

“Good to see you’re still alive, Chariot,” Alethia said, not bothering to look up from the panel. “Even if it means I owe the High Councilor five credits. Be a darling and open this, would you?”

Keelan sucked a breath in through his teeth even as he moved to disable the force field holding the prisoners in their cell. “I’m supposed to be taking these guys out to Morgan.” He glanced worriedly back and forth between Turel and Alethia. “The Inquisitorius is here.”

“For us?” Turel cocked an eyebrow.

“No. At least I don’t think so.” He hesitated for a moment. “I think they’re here for the scientists. Maybe for me. Morgan was trying to head them off, but—”

“Which inquisitor?” Alethia cut him off.

“I don’t know. Blue skin, dark hair, snappy dresser.”

The name came off Turel’s lips like the vilest obscenity, “Ishanta.”


(Aurora "Aura" Ta'var) #9

MC40a Rohlan’s Vision
Kr’Tal system, former Taldryan space

Blade Ta’var, along with Vorsa and Lexi Corden, sat in a utilitarian military briefing room aboard the flagship of House Hoth. The room had a pervasive, hospital white look to it, the chairs weren’t that comfy despite their organic inspired design, and, to top it off, it gave the distinct impression that no one really had any fun in it. It lacked the little things that gave it a personal touch, unless cold logic was the intended effect. As a Zeltron, even one raised by humans, she found it more than a little odd, but it was a stark reminder of why she was here: armed conflict.

The trio sat silently as they waited for their gracious hostess, Admiral Arcia Cortel, to return. The Palatinaean did her best to ignore the armed guards flanking the nearby walls, but their stony, unforgiving visages made them pretty bad company. They were told this was standard procedure for guests, but Blade couldn’t shake the feeling that Arcia disapproved of her the moment she heard of her new guest. The Sith understood why: a member of an enemy clan and a publicly declared Sith? Even if Vorsa vouched for her, and the Warrior behaved, trust was ultimately earned.

The Zeltron resisted the urge to play with the guards as she waited for the Admiral to arrive, instead focusing her attention inward as she passed the time by attempting to meditate. Vorsa had already had a few planning meetings with Arcia during their short stay on the ship, most of which Blade herself was not invited to join, but this time it was different. Blade had offered to help, and she hoped that this finally meant Odan-Urr was ready to take advantage of her assistance.

Finally, Arcia briskly walked into the conference room, taking a seat at the head of the table. The Zeltron opened her eyes and looked over their hostess as she released low doses of pheromones. No harm in trying to give off a good impression. The woman’s sharp, attractive facial features were hidden by strict military uniform standards and a clear, stern and demanding attitude. She acknowledged her sister with a simple nod, gave the Palatinaean a cold stare, and then focused her attention on the Neti.

“General, updates from your first debrief on your arrival: High Councillor Sorenn and Archenksova still need our help. The situation is escalating groundside. We have just arrived in the system, and will reach planetary orbit shortly, so I suggest you accompany the commando teams we have aboard and join the surprise assault team down to the surface.”

“This will work. Where are they located on the planet?” asked Vorsa calmly, her usually warm expression replaced by a focus and determination that rivaled the Admiral’s.

“Currently, they are located in a place called Paragon Colony, which they haven’t left yet. Our transports are already prepping for departure as we speak, and they should have everything you need.”

“Excellent. Tell me more about the colony.”

Admiral Cortel launched into a much more detailed description of the location, while Vorsa sat there and listened. From time to time, the Jedi general would randomly interject with a question of her own, cutting off the Admiral’s train of thought momentarily. Blade listened carefully, learning as much as she could for the mission.

“…the hangars in the port are considered neutral territory among the gangs of the city, who collectively control the colony and all traffic into and out of it. It is suspected they are being hired by the Dark Counc—” Arcia described before being interrupted over her comlink.

“Ma’am, enemy incoming. Signatures indicate a squadron of pirate raiders. Orders?” asked one of the Admiral’s crew members through the comlink — likely the tactical bridge officer — in a professional tone.

“Send Raava squadron and the Peacemaker, immediately. They should be more than enough to handle that threat. I’ll be at the bridge momentarily.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Arcia trained a steely eye at all of her guests. “This is most likely just a preemptive strike. My place is now on the bridge. The transports are in hangar bay one. Good Luck.”

“May the Force be with you, Admiral. We’ll go there immediately.” Vorsa acknowledged with a nod before she got up to leave. The Sith watched the pair of woman stare at each other, silent words understood, but unspoken, as their simple nods adjourned the meeting. The Admiral stood up and left for the bridge, leaving the pair of Jedi, and Blade, to themselves.

The Neti’s yellow-skinned face seemed older as she looked with concern at the two young woman, but Blade cut off any attempts at dissuasion by standing up and giving Vorsa a determined stare. Lexi merely waited for her master to speak her mind and remained seated. The Jedi general sighed in resignation before directing her attention towards her apprentice.

“This will be dangerous. I would feel much at ease if you were to stay behind on the ship, with your sister,” Vorsa requested as she looked at Lexi protectively. The Padawan looked as if she wanted to argue the point, glancing at Blade for a moment before returning her master’s stare. The Sith didn’t know whether it was due to familiarity or something much more complex, but master and apprentice seemed in sync without the need for words.

“If you are sure you don’t need me. Yes, master, I’ll stay behind. Bring our people home and may the Force be with you,” replied Lexi with a tinge of worry as she looked over her Master and Blade.

“And with you.” The Jedi general looked a bit more relieved as she waved the Palatinaean forward and started to walk towards the hangar.

“I’ll help bring them home. I promise,” Blade promised Lexi before she eagerly took off after the Neti. The Zeltron looked forward to proving herself to the Jedi, especially Vorsa’s skeptical Padawan.

“You better,” muttered Lexi as the Sith rounded the corner.

Hangar One
MC40a Rohlan’s Vision

The sounds of shouted orders, hurried footsteps, and the ignition of starfighter engines reverberated around the cavernous hangar. Pilots, technicians, and various other ground crew rushed to and fro as the proverbial drums of war started to beat. The bright interior of the hangar looked out into the vast depths of space, an expanse that lured so many from safety. It was a siren’s call, but these brave souls fought with a purpose all their own: the protection of those they loved in the face of overwhelming odds. It was etched in their faces, and it spurred them forward in times of doubt.

Blade admired its power as she followed the Jedi general to three small modified LAAT/i transports, whose engines were already rearing to go. A tall, imposing man stood before them, along with three squads of commandos, as they waited patiently for Vorsa and the Palatinaean. The large man and a few of the older soldiers gave a prompt salute, the rest lagging behind in confusion. Their young faces and deferential glances toward the towering brute marked them as new additions to the elite Odan-Urr had to offer. As Vorsa gave them a salute back, the Warrior could see the Neti’s face more clearly. It had the same look as the people around them: a fierce determination coupled with hope.

“Echo-1. Glad to have you by my side again. I see some young, new faces here,” said Vorsa with an utter lack of concern. She knew the augmented human well enough to trust his judgement.

“The Tanduran Commandos are well-trained. We are ready,” replied Echo-1. His battleworn kit, slightly unsettling glare, and unnatural, gray cybernetic eyes gave his sentence a gravity it would otherwise not have.

His troops agreed, straightening up proudly at his praise. The Zeltron had, in the past, seen for herself just how useful the strange man could be, and was glad that they were on the same side. The Jedi general merely nodded, but Blade could feel a tinge of sadness through the Force.

“Move out,” ordered Vorsa.

Echo-1 repeated the order back to his commandos, who sprung into action and immediately ran onto the Lartys. The Palatinaean followed Vorsa and Echo into one of transports, grabbing a railing next to them, and listened carefully as a hologram of the relevant information flashed from the small holoprojector in the back of the ship, and they went over the plans for the ground operation.

“We have two targets for extraction: High Councillor Sorenn and Commander Archenksova, as well as a group of valuable hostages. There are reported Inquisitors on the ground already, as well as pirates,” Echo-1 laid out the order of battle for the Jedi general.

The Palatinaean felt the pull of the ship as took off from the hangar.

“Understood. Do the Inquisitors know we are coming?”

“At this point, they probably do, but the plan is solid. My squads will keep the pirates and inquisitors off your back while you two rescue the targets.”

“Hopefully both Councillors can help us out as well,” replied Vorsa with a nod. “Do you have any questions on your tasks, Blade Ta’var?”

Blade had not been allowed to attend any of the planning sessions until today, but thankfully Vorsa had let her know what she needed to know.

“None. I leave the Councillors to you. I’ll secure the hostages, most likely still on the pirate ship. Once that is done, I’ll help keep the enemy forces at bay—”

In the corner of her eye, Blade saw bright flashes of red and green. The small viewports in the transport didn’t show everything, but she could see the the cruiser, the Braha’tok gunship and the X-wings already flying in a defensive formation. Pirate starfighters of every make and model were already streaking towards them, rapidly unleashing a barrage of lasers in an attempt to break up their defenses. The calm before battle didn’t last long. The Odan-Urr forces, growing smaller in her viewport with each second, broke off into flight groups and assaulted the attacking pirates.

The Zeltron wasn’t much of a pilot, but there was a sad beauty to the barrell rolls, spirals, and jukes. The accompanying lights made it all more alluring to the eye. Unfortunately, this was not a space show, and there were real consequences for everyone as they weaved in and out. Blade, though calm, absentmindedly kept her hand on her saber, watching the deadly affair from afar, the whole time hoping none of their own ships were destroyed.

“Correct. Focus on that alone. Then we get everyone back to safety.”

Vorsa put a hand on the Palatinaean’s shoulder, radiating a calm energy that made the Sith drop her hand off her saber. The Zeltron looked at the Jedi general, who had turned her attention to the battle outside as well. Echo-1 was already busy communicating with his squads.

“Sorry about that. I’ll get ready.”

Blade leaned against the bulkhead, closed her eyes and anchored herself in the Force as much as possible. They had people to save.


(Morgan B. Sorenn) #10

“Sorenn,” Ishanta greeted plainly as she lay her palms against her hips.

“I didn’t know we were of a first-name-basis, Inquisitor,” Morgan retorted, one eyebrow lifting in response.

“My apologies, Herald.

Morgan looked at Ishanta’s entourage, noticing their expressions. While most were on edge, looking around at the pirates, the Nautolan woman’s expression and her fluctuating emotional state told Morgan far more about the situation than the Grand Inquisitor’s poker face. The poor girl’s eyes shifted from Ishanta to a Zeltron male who held himself as if he were still in charge, not unlike captain Dum standing several paces behind Morgan. Internally, the Herald smiled as the dots connected.

“We have come for the scientists, if you don’t mind.” Ishanta started again, breaking Morgan out of her internal dialogue.

“And do you have the credits?” the pirate said before Dum behind her could utter a single word.

“This is an Inquisitorius matter, Herald. As a Dark Council member, I presumed you would be willing to part with them with thanks from the Voice and his … servants,” she barely contained herself from spitting out the last word. The Zeltron tensed up, as did the rest of his crew, at the notion of not handing over the credits.

Morgan looked at the Grand Inquisitor for but a moment before turning and snapping her fingers. Ishanta’s smirk returned, but it was short lived. “Captain Dum, please take your crew and ship and leave. Your services are no longer required.”

“But, captain, what about our pay?” one of the Vultures crew asked quizzically.

“There will be no pay, gentlemen. The Inquisitorius has bad business ethics—”

“Sorenn, need I remind you who you’re delivering these scientists to?” Ishanta’s tone turned from playful to grim.

Morgan turned and walked right into Ishanta’s space and stared her down. “You, an Inquisitor, do not need to remind me, the Herald, just what’s at stake here, now do you?” She cocked her head to one side as if to emphasize her point. “That said, we are here to do business, and a deal was made. The deal was four scientists for…” she looked over at Dum, standing like a fish in a barrel.

“Ten thousand credits each, captain,” he said, reluctantly.

“That cheap?” She raised an eyebrow. “Fine, ten thousand each. As I said, a deal is a deal.” She looked at Ishanta again. “Now, will you do business, or should these men go elsewhere?”

Ishanta gave the Herald a long look before speaking again. “As if we have to pay them anything. We have a cruiser en route and they’ll be here soon. If they don’t give up the scientists they’re not leaving this moon alive.” Her threat was genuine and Morgan could tell. “Oh, and I’ll be taking the Lotus spy you have on board as well. I believe my jurisdiction states as much, Herald.

Morgan’s eyes narrowed, but internally she bit her tongue. She had to hand it to the Grand Inquisitor, she put her in a tough spot. “What spy? What’re you talking about?” She wasn’t sure whether the Inquisitor noticed her utter lack of surprise or not, but she was certain that she had to step carefully around the Chiss woman. Unlike many other servants of the Throne, even those on the Dark Council, she was genuinely dangerous to Morgan’s plans.

“Oh, you don’t know?” the Chiss cooed. “Not a surprise, considering how bad your pirates are at keeping secrets. I can’t make this any simpler, so here it is: you have a Lotus spy aboard the Matron. Whoever they are, you will help me find them.”

Morgan raised an eyebrow at the Inquisitors demanding tone. “It seems the Lotus isn’t the only one that has spies on my ship. Apparently, the Inquisitorius has them too, or this exchange wouldn’t have been possible.” Ishanta could feel an unease in her core, like her very connection to the Force was slipping through her fingers. It was a feeling she felt once before, in the presence of the Grand Master himself. “So let’s recap, shall we? Both the Lotus and the Inquisitorius are operating aboard my ship without my allowing it. It seems, Inquisitor, that I’ll have to deal with this situation in my own way.”

“You will hand over the spy to me,” Ishanta commanded once more as Morgan turned her back on her, “or the Grand Master will hear of your unwillingness to release the scientists or bring the traitors to the executioner.”

As Morgan turned, her eyes passed over a horrified C’ree and immediately locked onto her. The half-Sephi seemed to be struggling with herself, mumbling and staring at her captain. Her hands rubbed against her arms as if to shake off a chill, but the temperature in the hangar was more than tolerable. C’ree took a single step towards Morgan, nuzzling her nose into the pirate captain’s raven locks, her mouth attempting to permit louder words, but failing as she mustered only a whisper.

“She lie…you said she lie and she lie…” the half-Sephi mumbled something incoherent again before continuing. “Morgan. What Lotus spy?”

Morgan’s eyes involuntarily darted towards the ship behind C’ree and then back at her, revealing more than enough to the disgruntled half-Sephi. Morgan sensed the outburst building up inside her first mate even before it came; before it could reveal everything to a most dangerous enemy, she caught it. Morgan’s fingers balled into a fist and C’ree could sense her body losing control. She felt her muscles stiffen, her breath stop in her lungs, and her vocal cords close down any sound. The expression on Morgan’s face was one of determination and unrelenting resolve, but her eyes seemed to echo a deep sadness.

I’m sorry, they said, but to C’ree it was betrayal. Finally her fingers relaxed when she sensed the half-Sephi’s outburst had subsided, only to be replaced by a burning rage. C’ree’s purple eyes burned with a fire as she stretched her neck, turned on her heel and walked towards the ship’s loading ramp. Morgan shelved that issue for later, for she would certainly face the consequences of her actions one way or another.

Ishanta observed the two with enlightening curiosity, for a moment even considering what more the rebellious first mate might know about her Captain. Their interaction gave her plenty to work with should she ever meet this C’ree alone. She would most certainly be a valuable asset.

“I don’t believe you are in any position to bargain with me, Inquisitor.” With one nod from her, every single pirate in the hangar pulled out their blasters and pointed them at the Inquisitorius agents, who replied in the same fashion. “You refuse to play by my rules on my ship. You refuse to honor a deal that you made through deception and underhanded tactics.” The Captain turned towards them once more. “And then you have the gall to demand anything of me? Oh, I will find the spy. I will find every spy and I will hang them off of the catwalks of Chute Town for everyone to see. Don’t kark with me!”

The whole entourage of pirates and Inquisitors turned as one to the roar of sublight engines and thrusters ripped through their ears. Three LAAT/i transports in the colors of the Odanite Expeditionary Force rumbled onto the deck, their side doors flashing open, releasing their deadly cargo. It took Morgan but a moment to sense who it was aboard the three transports that had abruptly landed in the far side of the hangar. No, not her.

As suddenly as the sound of the engines subsided, chaos erupted. Pirates and Inquisitors alike took cover behind the many cargo crates, speeders, and walls they could find, showering the oncoming resistance fighters with a multicolored wave of plasma fire. Three full squads of commandos advanced towards the ”Vulture” in practiced manoeuvres, laying down fire, with Vorsa and Blade in the front, deflecting blaster bolts left and right.

For a mere moment Morgan’s and Vorsa’s eyes met, and it was enough to spark the connection between them once more. Emotions spiraled through Morgan’s head as soon as she saw her former Master again and for the first time in a long while she couldn’t control her expression, and Ishanta noticed it. It was minor, barely noticible, but just enough for her to tell: it was regret.

She was too late to notice Ishanta rushing towards the ship, and the familiar tremor in the Force she usually only felt around her brother. Turel?! Confusion filled Morgan’s mind as suddenly every piece on the chessboard that could ever ruin her appeared all at once. Like a humorous game of destiny, everyone Ishanta would likely use against her was here to help in exactly that cause. As if she hadn’t had enough poodoo on her head, she charged after Ishanta. C’ree stepped down from the loading ramp and refused even to face her Captain.

“Carrie!” Morgan pulled her arm and turned her to face her. “Don’t hurt them. Please.” The captain looked over at the Jedi general, her apprentice, and their soldiers.

C’ree looked down at her arm and followed Morgan’s gaze with disgust. Her eyes immediately locked onto the pretty pink girl, giving a sinister smile to her lips. With a forceful jerk, the half-Sephi broke free of her superior’s grip and looked deep into Sorenn’s eyes.

“I no kill them. Well, I try not to. But you will see them bleed if it pains you, Morgan,” C’ree whispered the finality of her statement before turning all of her attention to her new prey, the young Zeltron advancing towards them. Without any recourse, Morgan followed the Grand Inquisitor into the ship.


Blaster fire burned up and down the length of the hangar as Vorsa and Blade separated, each following a different squad towards the objective. The Neti deflected bolt after bolt, protecting her men as best she could, while they in turn shot down the enemy that outnumbered them. Her squad was on the left side of the hangar, farthest from the ship, but where most of the enemy fire was focused. Crates, cargo containers, and the gaping maw of a deep elevator shaft separated them from the Vulture. Even with enemy fire they pressed on and for every commando she lost, the enemy lost someone as well. The Jedi general deflected one of the bolts back into one of the pirates, scorching his chest and neck as it burned through his collar bone.

Blade, nearly a hundred feet away, seemed to fare equally well. The pirates were lacking in skill, but the Inquisitors made up for it as best they could. Even the astromech droid seemed to send out volleys of blaster fire from cover. Still, they were no match for three squads of elite commandos. As she had instructed them, and as they were trained to do, the commandos moved from cover to cover, whittling down the opposition on the flanks by pushing them closer together and slowly encircling the enemy. First squad, lead by Blade on the right, had already made its way close to the ship. Soon they would have access to it, and the hostages.

“Echo, have your squad push through the middle, while first secures the ship,” she ordered through the comlink in her ear. “Make sure—” With all the ferocity of a thundercloud, a feeling of despair and dread fell over her as she sensed something sinister close by. Vorsa felt a chill, a cold as deep as the one she felt not too long ago in the Grand Master’s presence. For a moment, the Jedi general felt an irrational fear and her body felt the same electrifying ache it felt strapped to that interrogation chair. It wasn’t any of the pirates, not yet the Inquisitors, no. She let the Force guide her and it carried her eyes up, towards the catwalks.

“Above!” she yelled out, as Darth Necren descended like a predatory bird poised to kill. The Iktotchi’s saber ignited in mid air and slammed against the General’s potent defenses. And unstoppable force met an immovable object as their clash echoed through the Force in a wave. Two of the commandos closest to the duo turned their guns at the Sith. Too late. With a twist of her athletic body, Necren disengaged the Jedi and sliced both their heads off in one swing. The Prophet twirled her saber backwards and blocked Vorsa’s incoming slash with a grace and skill of master swordswoman. Vorsa used the opportunity to push Necren with all her Force-bestowed strength. The Iktotchi flew through the air and landed gracefully near the edge of the sheer drop into the elevator shaft.

“Get behind me!” she yelled to her men in the same breath she took to vault over several cargo crates. The sheer amount of hate seeping through the cracks Necren left in the very fabric of the Force gave the Jedi pause. It was unrelenting and unrestrained, and it was focused at her. Necren was already airborne, jumping to meet Vorsa in mid-air. In a blink the Neti managed to duck under the slicing red blade aimed at her neck. As she landed, Vorsa calmed herself, realizing she was overextending too much. She turned and allowed her opponent to come to her. Sure enough, the Prophet jumped into the fray again, crimson lightsaber spinning in every which direction.

It was only with unrelenting focus that Vorsa managed to avoid the deadly, precise strikes her opponent dealt her. But she was not herself any less potent. Necren bobbed and weaved in between Vorsa’s strikes, many just barely missing the Iktotchi’s body. It was a battle of titans and no one else dared intervene, not the Inquisitorius or the pirates, and not the commandos. Vorsa’s orders were clear to Echo most of all. he knew from experience that when she had engaged a target like that, he was to proceed with the mission at all costs. So he did.

“Push forward, we have them on the ropes,” he yelled out as he shot a pirate unlucky enough to show his face to the veteran marksman. He rolled to his next cover and lobbed a grenade at a cluster of pirates near the ramp of the ship. The threat of impending death sent two of them flying out of cover, only to be picked off by the precise shooting of the commandos. As he took cover once more his comm beeped.

“Major, this is Cortel. Status?”

“We’re on schedule, ma’am. But the General. She’s fighting an unknown. Came out of nowhere.” He sneaked a peek over his cover to see the position of the enemy and then looked outside, where he saw the Rohlan’s Vision and the rest of the fleet battling the pirates. “And the fleet?”

“We’ve won the battle. Several stragglers are left.” Her declaration of victory was emphasized by an explosion that split one of the pirate ships in two. “We’re waiting for you to return.” Echo smiled. The battle, it seemed, was turning in their favor, or so he thought.


(C'ree) #11

Give her to me!’ the voice thundered within C’ree’s mind.

The first mate’s brow furrowed as she fell under the pressure of her dark alter. The other wanted blood, and she would get it no matter the struggle. As if a shadowed hole opened within her mind, C’ree allowed herself to fall into it and be swallowed by her hatred. She felt sorry for the Zeltron approaching, but at this moment she was of no concern. She was to be used as an instrument of pain; pain to be inflicted upon Morgan. The half-Sephi clenched her fist, allowing a crackle of electricity to course around it as she kept her lustful gaze locked on the approaching girl.

“Go! I’ll handle her. Find the hostages and keep them safe,” ordered Blade, tensing up as she noticed the youthful woman with a fistful of lightning. The commander gave the pretty Zeltron a curt nod and directed his troops away from the area.

As the commandos retreated from their original position, C’ree extended her right hand and swung it forward. A collection of small cargo containers hurtled through the air after the squad, barely missing them but causing their retreat to hasten in pace. It was now only the half-Sephi and the Zeltron, just the way C’ree wanted it. The thought of a new plaything caused excitement to flash through her body and she licked her lips, slowly savoring the moment.

“You a pretty girl. Maybe I hurt you, take you to Morgan,” C’ree taunted as she approached, throwing her restrained hand outwards releasing a burst of lightning from her charred fingertips.

The Palatinaean quickly raised her lightsaber to absorb the incoming electricity. “You’ll have to hit me first.”

“Deal!” C’ree threw forth another blast of her blue, crackling lightning. The Zeltron almost visibly sighed at the repeated action and raised her saber again to absorb the blast, but something wasn’t quite right: the tendrils passed through her, yet she remained unharmed.

Bells and whistles resounded in Blade’s head as she quickly looked around for more deception, only to be met with a series of containers to the opposite side. Most of them tumbled harmlessly away, but one managed to clip her right shin, dropping her to a knee and causing a quickly subsiding jolt of pain to shoot through her leg. The half-Sephi took this moment to her advantage and closed the distance between the two with a burst of speed, stopping to tower over the kneeling girl.

“Got you, pretty thing,” C’ree stated with a grin.

“Not quite.” The Zeltron flooded her body with the Force, letting it direct her actions. The women stared at each other for precious seconds before the Palatinaean found herself launching into a ferocious assault, saber moving like a blur in front of her as it looked for an opening. The half-Sephi dodged with acrobatic tricks, before retrieving her own lightsaber and bringing its pulsing amethyst blade to life.

Blade relentlessly pressed her attack, small beads of sweat already starting to form on her skin. Their sabers clashed together in a swirl of color and sound, along with an alluring aroma that seemed to come from the Zeltron herself. As the scent hooked into C’ree, her eyes widened and a shudder of pleasure shook her body, seemingly invigorating her fighting spirit more, rather than diminishing it.

Each clash caused the half-Sephi to growl in frustration, hatred rising with each failed strike. The Palatinaean swung again and again as she pushed the half-Sephi back. C’ree was more than a match for her as she deftly blocked or evaded each swing, flipping and cartwheeling around Blade as she tested her opponent’s defenses. Blade managed to smirk, not so much at the half-Sephi, but at her control of her Vaapad so far: Vorsa’s training was coming in handy.

“What would Morgan say if she knew you were trying to hurt me?” asked Blade.

C’ree froze for just a moment, shocked and infuriated that the Zeltron would dare say Morgan’s name. The Palatinaean took advantage of the half-Sephi’s momentary lapse in concentration and swung her fist through the air with all the strength she could muster. She focused solely on C’ree’s head, the Zeltron’s disembodied fist felt like it was in slow motion until it slammed into her opponent through the Force. The tall, thin woman fell to her right, and swayed slightly before finding her balance when a sinister thought came to mind.

Blade’s adrenaline pulsed through her, ready to spring into action, but the half-Sephi was oddly not. Instead, the woman slouched over, hands clawing at the side of her head, and started to talk to herself. It was quiet mumbling, and though most came through clearly, Blade felt as if two different people were talking.

“Morgan said no hurt her…” a softer voice came from C’ree, completely throwing Blade off guard momentarily.

“I no care. I hurt her,” the previous voice growled, dripping with malice.

C’ree looked back to the Zeltron with small nail marks drawn across the sides of her pale face. Her wicked smile grew to show teeth. With a grunt, C’ree turned her head away once more and started clawing at her face again.

Blade reached out to the Force surrounding the half-Sephi, who continued to argue with herself, and marveled at how someone could be trapped inside the monster known as C’ree. Their flavors in the Force flashed back and forth: one pleasantly good and the other frighteningly venomous.

The softer voice warned, “Run. You need…to run!”


(Alethia Archenksova) #12

Ishanta glided through the ship, her mind probing each compartment in search of her prey. But she slid to a stop when she sensed it. Not just the scientists, with their sweet, cloying terror, or even Morgan’s idiot servant — there was a Jedi with the prisoners.

Perfect.

“Keelan!” Sorenn’s voice rang out behind her. "Get out here! Everything’s karked and we need to get out of here now!"

"Not so fast, Herald." If Morgan was caught off guard when Ishanta slipped up beside her, she did a decent enough job of hiding it.

“Krif off. If you hadn’t shoved your nose into my business, we would’ve made the hand off and been halfway to Arx before the frakking Lotus showed up.” The Herald kept storming down the corridor towards the brig. “Keelan!”

Ishtanta kept pace, her smirk growing with every step. “If I hadn’t poked my nose into Brotherhood business,” she began, “I would have missed the priceless look on your face when you —” Even Ishanta was taken aback for a moment when the pair turned the last corner and saw Turel Sorenn blocking their path. Oh, this is too good.

“We’re taking the scientists,” the Jedi proclaimed in a flat, even tone. “Don’t try to stop us.” Behind him, Alethia Archenksova was holding a strange blaster to Keelan’s head while three of the captive scientists cowered behind her in their cell. The fourth was still unconscious on the brig floor.

“Turel,” Morgan hissed behind clenched teeth, but she couldn’t find the words to express her conflicting emotions before Ishanta’s smug voice cut in.

“It seems like this will be a good deal after all, Lady Herald. I get Darth Pravus’ new pets, and you…” The Inquisitor drew out the word, savoring its implications. “You get to kill your mongrel brother in the presence of a Grand Inquisitor, proving your true loyalty.”

“Applejack,” Turel pleaded, his eyes fixed on his sister’s. “Vorsa is here.”

The only response was the snap-hiss as Morgan’s lightsaber activated, followed by Ishanta’s and Turel’s an instant later. But it was Archenksova who moved first, shoving Keelan into the cell and slapping the control panel with her free hand to bring the containment field back up.

“Let’s leave the Sorenns to it, shall we, Inquisitor?” Alethia purred, leveling her sonic blaster at Ishanta and opening fire.

The Chiss’ face passed through a kaleidoscope of expressions, beginning with amusement that the Human woman would dare attack her; to horror as the sphere of ionized energy rushed towards her, burst on her crimson blade, and exploded, forcing her to stagger backward almost a meter just to retain her footing. More of the deadly orbs were racing towards her as Alethia kept firing, but Ishanta retreated, ducking around the corner and back down the corridor several meters to relative safety.

Vexing, the Inquisitor thought, as she retreated through the vessel to a better ambush position. Terribly vexing. At least one of the Sorenns had better be dead by the time I’m finished with this one. She had only a few seconds before the Odanite would be around the bend and firing again, but she made the best of them, ducking into a doorway and closing her eyes. Weaving the Force like a tapestry, within an instant the Chiss had warped the light into a likeness of herself in the middle of the corridor, brandishing a lightsaber in one hand and reaching out with the other, lightning erupting from her fingertips just as Alethia popped into view.

The Human raised her blaster and flinched as she rounded the corner, but only for the briefest fraction of a second. “Please, Inquisitor, I’ve read your fi—”

Archenksova didn’t finish the thought before Ishanta leaned out from her cover, clenched one fist, and with a yanking gesture brought the full force of her concentration to bear. Alethia’s blaster jerked towards the Inquisitor, pulling her forward and over into a roll as the weapon was pried from her hands and skittered along the deck, far out of reach. The Human tumbled forward as gracefully as if it had been her intention all along, and as she landed on her feet, a blazing white lightsaber hissed to life in her hands and lurched toward Ishanta’s face.

The Inquisitor stumbled back, scowling. She hated lightsaber combat. Hated the indignity of using her arms to kill, instead of her mind. Hated, most of all, that the Odanite had dared to force her into such a debasing situation. Slapping away Alethia’s thrust, the Chiss spat, “You don’t even know how to use that.”

“Perhaps I don’t,” the Human replied, smiling slyly as she settled into a more balanced stance. “Perhaps I do. Or perhaps, Inquisitor, you needn’t bother to find out.”

“I could cook you from the inside out and feed you to my Loth-cat.”

“The Inquisitorius knows who I am. You know where I come from. How willing are you to bet that I haven’t rigged this entire vessel to explode if you do?” Alethia’s ruby lips stayed fixed in their twisted smiled. “Besides, you didn’t come here to kill me, and you certainly didn’t come here to help Pravus build some Death Star knock-off to feed his own vanity.”

Ishanta gripped her lightsaber so tightly that her knuckles turned the palest blue. Lightning was too good for this one. A lightsaber was far too good. “Then tell me, Commander, why did I come here?”

“You want Morgan Sorenn’s head on a platter, and I intend to give it to you.” That seemed to get the Inquisitor’s attention. “You must have figured out by now that we have an agent in her inner circle. You might even have figured out who it is. I have to admit, Inquisitor, you’re better at this than most of Pravus’ lackeys.”

Ishanta nodded slightly. She’d reviewed the intercepted transmission. She’d seen the pregnant looks the Herald had been giving her confidants. But if she had guessed wrong, she wasn’t about to let the other woman know. “Your point?”

“Half the Inquisitorius knows — or thinks they know — that Sorenn is a Lotus sympathizer. You wouldn’t be the first to try to rat her out to Pravus, but unless you have something solid, you won’t get anywhere. And if you had something solid, well, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

I will find every last thing you love in this world, you heretic, and you will watch me rip them apart. The Chiss kept the thought to herself, vowing to work out her frustrations with Rhiaen later. Aloud, she said simply “Get to the point.”

“Our asset is as good as dead. It only seems prudent that someone get some use out of it while it’s still valid.” Alethia slipped a manicured hand into a pocket and withdrew a code cylinder. "I walk away with Turel Sorenn and all four scientists. You walk away with our asset. I’ll give you everything: the technical data for how we communicate, the encryption keys, drop sites, cover terms — everything." Archenksova paused, letting the implications dawn on the Grand Inquisitor before she spelled them out. “You could lure the Herald into a Lotus operation of your own design.”

“And you,” the Chiss answered, “won’t have to worry about your High Councilor running off to rescue his baby sister anymore.”

“We understand each other, Inquisitor. My only regret is that one of my men will probably kill you before we meet again.”

Ishanta laughed, the velvety sound distorted by The Vulture’s echoing corridors. “I’ll try to have them take you in alive. You’re too much fun to waste on a humorless wretch like Necren.” With a flick of her wrist, the Chiss pulled the code cylinder from Alethia’s outstretched hand and into her own. “You and I have a deal, Lotus. In the unlikely event that Necren doesn’t cut your head off, you might actually make it off this worthless rock.”


(C'ree) #13

MC40A Rohlan’s Vision
Kr’Tal system, Former Taldryan Space

“Report!” Admiral Cortel bellowed as the ship lurched from the impact of turbolaser fire.

A small explosion followed by a shower of sparks was her answer as her attention snapped to her right. One of her operations officers crashed to the floor, quickly being carried away by other officers, one of which replaced them at the remnants of their station. Arcia held her breath as her glare returned to the ships visible through the viewport. They had come out of hyperspace almost on top of them and somehow got the drop on her ships.

“I said report!

“Ma’am! We have two Vindicator-class cruisers approaching at fore and starboard. They have launched fighters and bombers, sensors unable to accurately count. Shields are holding at seventy-five percent with steady drain incoming. The Peacemaker is moving in to handle the initial run, hopefully take out some of those bombers,” the chief operations officer yelled to her from behind.

We are heavily outnumbered here…they need to hurry up and do whatever it is they have planned on that moon before there is nothing left to return to…’ Cortel thought to herself as she began to visually map out the sector space and ship positions.

Arcia quickly turned to her bridge crew. “Open a wideband channel. I want those fighters to hear me.”

A loud chirp resounded through the bridge, signifying the channel opening as the Admiral turned back to the viewport, her arms clasped behind her.

“This is Arcia Cortel of Odan-Urr, former Admiral of the Fleets for the First Clan Arcona. You have entered sanctioned space occupied by the Odanite Expeditionary Force. We have reinforcements already en route to this position. I recommend you retreat at once, or you will face destruction. Do not test me,” Cortel looked back and drew a hand in front of her throat to signify closing the channel.

Once the channel closed, Arcia took a deep breath and held it as the onslaught of turbolaser fire ceased. These were to be the longest sixty seconds of her life. She hoped that her name drop and former position would give light to her abilities as a naval commander, and that the enemy would turn tail and flee. Her doubts, however, outweighed her hopes.

“Ma’am! They—” the operations officer started as the Rohlan’s Vision rocked from the force of a massive barrage of fire from the two ships at once.

“Bluff called,” Arcia whispered to no one as she returned to the command chair and reviewed the situation.

Cortel’s vision returned to the viewport to see both of the Vindicators split from each other, repositioning to create a pincer against her ship. To starboard, the gunship Peacemaker was doing it’s best to reduce the number of bombers while avoiding being overrun by their fighter escorts. Her own compliment of two X-wing squadrons were already deployed, attempting to clear the road for the gunship, but they were having trouble keeping themselves from being spaced as well.

Arcia keyed in her comms frequency to the fleet. “All ships, follow my orders exactly, and we may just get out of this.”

The Rohlan’s Vision banked starboard, using its mass to cut through the starfighters and becoming a shield for Raava squadron. The X-wings used their newfound guardian to their advantage and flew the length of the ship before revealing themselves to flank the TIE Advanced that held the upperhand just moments before. The Vindicators used Cortel’s maneuver to their advantage, once again firing on the largest of targets causing various explosions to dot the hull of the Resistance’s ship.

“Hard axial rotation to port, fire all ventral cannons on that first cruiser. Give that second every dorsal ion canon in range!” Cortel bellowed, judging the distance between the ships. “Peacemaker, I want those bombers eliminated.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the gunship responded, skillfully weaving itself through the onslaught of starfighters to pick out the TIE Bombers.

The Mon Calamari cruiser lurched and rotated on command, firing all of the turbolasers housed on the starboard side and underbelly at the Inquisitorius cruiser closest to the starfighter battle. The Vindicator on the opposite side of the Vision received pulse after pulse from the ion cannons, weakening its shields significantly.

It was a bold move in an attempt to bring fire to both the heavy cruisers at once, which paid off in the beginning with the disruption of one ships electrical systems, but the new position of the Rohlan’s Vision gave the bombers fleeing the gunship a perfect opportunity. As the TIEs regrouped, they dove straight down towards the center of the dorsal section of the MC40a, targeting the command center of the ship with their high yield explosives. Concussion after thunderous concussion rocked the ship and threw crewman from their feet.

“Ma’am! Deflectors are failing! We need to—” the bridge officer was cut off as Cortel saw the last bomber in the run line up the perfect drop.

“All hands, brace for impact!”

The TIE bomber pilot had waited until the last possible moment to drop their payload, hoping their counterparts would weaken the shields enough for theirs to break through. It was a gamble that paid off for him. The explosive impacted just fore of the command center, causing a massive detonation that tore into the hull of the light cruiser. In the command center, the force of the impact only mere decks below, threw Arcia from her chair and into the railing behind her. A sickening crack was heard and she yelled out in pain, a hand moving to her lower back to feel the damage.

‘Nothing broken, I think,’ Cortel thought to herself, struggling to stand.

“This is Raava lead. We are pursuing the remaining bombers. How’s everything down there?”

“We are fine. Get those bombers, now,” Arcia grunted as she pulled herself back into her chair and looked to her operations officer. “Report!”

“Ma’am, deflectors are down, hull breaches on multiple decks. Many casualties, reports still coming in. Missile launchers are disabled and half the ion cannons are out of commission. They got lucky with that run.”

“Get my deflectors back. Reposition us away from the active cruiser. The other should be powering back up any minute…” Arcia ordered.

The MC40a unleashed a torrent of turbolaser fire onto the active Vindicator, while maneuvering towards the disabled ship. Cortel noticed that in its attempt to restart systems, momentum had carried it around so the ship’s engines were facing the Vision. A rare smile brought itself to bear upon Arcia’s lips.

Peacemaker, I need you to divert course and target the disabled cruisers engines. Give it everything you have. Raava, Renegade: same goes for you if and when you are able. I want you to turn that ship into a drifting piece of slag,” the Admiral adjusted her sitting position and cleared her throat. “Tactical, you know what I want. Do it.”

The Rohlan’s Vision unleashed every facing cannon available into the cold engines of the disabled Vindicator, causing explosions to dot the ship’s rear. From the MC40a’s starboard, the Peacemaker attempted to outmaneuver two TIE Advanced as it released a full salvo of concussion missiles and it’s full complement of double turbolasers into the same target as the capital ship.

Six of the twelve X-wings belonging to Raava squadron flanked the two TIE Advanced, disposing of them easily with their combined teamwork, and banked around to each launch two proton torpedoes each into the Vindicators propulsion. The resulting detonation caused the heavy cruiser’s engines to literally fall apart in pieces.

A cheer rang out from the bridge crew of the Rohlan’s Vision at the sight of the out of commission Vindicator, but it was short lived as the fully operational heavy cruiser closed in from behind and attempted the same tactic. The MC40a shook violently as the helmsman attempted to rotate the ship so the engines were not in line of sight of the heavy cruiser. This gave the remaining bombers and TIE Advanced ample opportunity to flank the resistance ships, unloading their payloads into any ship they could get a lock on.

“This is Renegade One, we’re dropping like flies out here!”

The remaining ships in the resistance fleet quickly regrouped and attempted to flee behind the moon holding the Paragon Colony. The Rohlan’s Vision had taken significant damage, but it’s hyperdrive was still active and that was the one thing they needed to keep. Renegade squadron was down to two ships, having eliminated most of the bombers in the process, and Raava flew at six, their advanced training to thank for their survival.

The moon succeeded in creating a buffer between the resistance ships and their pursuers, but it would only be a matter of time before they would be caught. Cortel ordered their status to be pinged to Echo, or anyone that was monitoring the frequency, hoping they would expedite their mission groundside.

The Admiral took in a deep breath and spoke to no one in particular. “Get a move on, ladies and gentlemen…we cannot hold out forever.”


(Turel Sorenn) #14

Morgan felt like a caged manka cat inside the narrow passages of the Vulture. Though, she had been backed into the proverbial corner by the current situation more so than any physical environment. Everything was falling apart right before her eyes and her enemies were circling, thirsting for her blood. All the people she cared about had blundered into this mess and were now in danger. Her well intentioned, but stubbornly foolish brother stood between her and her objective, blocking the passageway. The durasteel walls colored with a lavender glow from their violet sabers. Morgan noticed the unintentional irony of their almost matching purple blades, her’s with a black ultraviolet core and Turel’s blazing bright with the traditional Jedi core. She would have found it amusing in another circumstance.

“These scientists are coming with me one way or another, Morgan. I won’t allow Pravus to complete his weapon. There’s too much at stake.” Turel delivered his ultimatum with a pained look of conviction on his face.

You have no idea, the Herald thought as she tried to compose a response. She focused her concentration on stifling the Sentinel’s connection to the Force. No tricks this time, dear brother.

Turel felt a deep chill in his bones as the flowing current of the light side within him was slowly smothered in darkness. Even his connection to Vorsa became faint, like a candle in the distance. The voice of the Force was now mere whispers to him and he found himself near mute to call on its aid. He recognized the insidious technique immediately, though he had never faced anyone as skilled with its use. The rumors were true, Morgan had ascended to Elder status.

“You’ve grown powerful with the dark side, Applejack.” One didn’t need the Force to feel Turel’s heartache dripping from every word of that admission.

“Spare me your Jedi sermons Turel! Nothing is black and white, you know that!”

The High Councilor looked down at his saber, made with the kyber crystal of the Padawan he cut down on Korriban so he’d never forget. “Some things are—” He paused for a moment as memories of all that he had seen on the Matron came flooding back. Every report that crossed his desk of Morgan’s growing brutality. The raw power of the dark side flowing through her confirmed his worst fears. He was losing his baby sister…again. “The path you’re on, I know where it leads more than most.” Turel gripped his weapon tighter, “You’ll lose yourself down there, you’ll hurt the ones you love most and it will destroy you in the end.” He relaxed his defensive posture for a moment, lowering his saber. “It’s not too late, come home.”

If only it were that easy. Morgan winced for a split second at her brother’s plea. “I do what I have to do.” She lunged at the Sentinel with a sweeping horizontal slash of her pulsating lavender blade, which Turel reflexively batted away with his own saber. Even with his connection to the Force greatly diminished, the Jedi was more than proficient with his weapon. The Herald followed up her opening slash with a overhand downward strike which Turel caught with a perpendicular block, trapping the two blades into a saber lock. Sparks flew to the metal floor as light and dark clashed in shades of purple.

“Let go of your fear Morgan, leave it all behind and come home with Vorsa and I.” The Jedi’s eyes began to well with the flood of emotion he was feeling. “We love you.”

Turel’s words were hard to hear for Morgan, as much as she loved the only kin she had left in the galaxy, their meddling was about to cost her everything. She had come too far and sacrificed too much to see it all fail now. Frustration turned to anger, anger to rage. “Then STAY OUT OF MY WAY!” Before Morgan knew what was happening, her brother flew backwards into a bulkhead under the force of a strong telekinetic shove. She stood motionless for a moment in shock at her actions in lashing out like that at her brother.

Turel picked up his still blazing saber and slowly rose. His connection to the Force was still stifled. The fact she had been able to maintain suppression while using other powers was impressive and a little unfair. He adjusted his Grand Master’s ring as he stood up; he was champion for a reason. This wasn’t the first time he’d gone toe to toe with an Elder. Morgan’s outburst had steeled his resolve. He was going to take her in this time, mission be damned. One or two poison darts would do the trick. Vorsa was wrong about leaving Morgan in the hands of a maniac like Pravus. The fact she had fallen further since Nar Shaddaa just proved the Sentinel had been right. He wasn’t going to wait around for the Grand Master to finish what he started.

“If that’s how you want it to be Applejack. You know I won’t back down, there’s too many lives in the balance.” He twirled his saber into a two-handed ready position with a flourish.

Morgan sneered at her brother. What a karkin’ moron. One of these days he’s going to get himself killed.

Before the Herald could respond she felt a warning resound across a link that she thought had gone dormant. It was strong enough that her concentration slipped. The expression on Turel’s face showed that he felt it too.

“Vorsa,” the siblings uttered in unison. They couldn’t tell precisely what, but the Neti was in mortal peril. Morgan took a deep breath and turned around to sprint back toward the Vulture’s loading ramp and the hanger where Vorsa was. She didn’t have to glance behind her to know that Turel was hot on her trail, not in pursuit but also rushing to the General’s aid.


(Aurora "Aura" Ta'var) #15

Blade rested her hand against her saber for a few breaths as she thought about raising her saber for a killing strike, but found she couldn’t do it. She had gone down that path before, killing innocents to take out an enemy, and all it did was get her into the mess she had worked so hard to get out of these past few weeks. The Jedi general had shown her a different path, one that didn’t kill unarmed opponents. Full of uncertainty, the Sith resisted the enticing urge to end C’ree once and for all, turning off her saber and returning it to her belt. She still didn’t know if this path would work for her, but she dearly wanted it to…

“Sorry. I can’t run from you. If I do, C’ree will only attack those I am trying to protect. Please, help me save them. Hold on for just a bit longer, and I can subdue her. Hold on.” Blade pleaded as she reached for her stun cuffs.

“Why you no listen? Pretty girl must leave now!” pleaded the woman.

“Hold on for a just a while longer. Almost there.”

The half-Sephi’s hands fell in front of her, ready for the cuffs, as the Sith, taking care to not make any sudden movements, carefully edged closer towards the woman’s shaking form. Two meters away, one meter away, step by step she got closer to the proverbial sleeping rancor. The restraints were but inches away from the docile, kind-hearted woman when misfortune struck.

In the most clear of voices, C’ree whispered, “You are such a silly girl to believe all of that…”

The Force screamed at Blade to run for her life. She was mere inches away, but still she quickly turned around. In a panic, she chucked the cuffs, freeing her hands so she could defend herself, and listened to the Force. Her heart pounded as adrenaline flared through her system once more, kicking off a pheromone response in conjunction with a subtle irrational fear she couldn’t quite place just yet. She didn’t even bother to ignite her lightsaber as she sprinted away, or tried to at least.

The Zeltron didn’t know just how far away she got, but she suddenly felt as if a power hammer had slammed into her left shoulder, forcing her body to spin in a circle before her momentum made her crash into a parked transport. She slid down to the deck, landing on her sore shoulder as she fell on her side.

Blade groaned in pain, and thought, What in the Force was that?

She barely had time to register the hit before the half-Sephi quickly pinned her to the ground, placing most of her weight against the Zeltron’s chest and using her superior leverage in an attempt to secure her head between her hands. Blade did what she could to evade C’ree’s grasp but her options were limited, and there wasn’t a lot of space to move. The Palatinaean resorted to a good old-fashioned brawl, hitting any piece of the half-Sephi she could find in an attempt to escape. Unfortunately, it didn’t help much as C’ree knocked her fists away and pinned her face against the ground, nails digging into either side. A sick grin sat upon the deranged woman’s face.

“Caught you,” said C’ree is a sing-song voice as she forced the Zeltron to look into her eyes, and unleashed a torrent of pure terror.

Blade’s eyes dilated as she froze under a mountain of her inner demons, each given flight along with horrific mental images of the past, present, and imagined future. She saw those she had killed from their own perspective, her own Sith eyes glaring cruelly back at her. She saw her family’s faith in her destroyed. She saw Jedi felled one by one by a hooded Sith, one she immediately recognized as herself. The Dark Side and the Sith, they were everywhere and they were her. They surrounded her, attacked her in unison, and turned her mind into her own special form of hell.

The Zeltron attempted a few more feeble swipes at C’ree’s unprotected face, but the half-Sephi seemed to be enjoying the entirety of the situation with the cruelest of smiles. Blade closed her eyes, but it didn’t help. Every fear, real or imagined, blossomed within her and threatened to consume the fragile sense of balance she had worked so hard to achieve these last few weeks. The Dark Side called to her, a quick and easy solution. They urged her to strike back and get her revenge, but the Sith knew well enough by now that it would only make the demons worse the second time around.

She did the only thing she could think of at the moment: denied it the battle. The Sith let go, fear washing over her again and again as it paralyzed her, save for silent tears and the nagging beads of sweat that rolled down her face. The Palatinaean did her best to disregard them and started to meditate, focusing on her daughter’s happy smiling face. She focused on the precious moments spent with her, particularly when they cuddled and time seemed to stand still. It always gave her a sense of calm that few could hope to replicate. The Zeltron used those memories of parental love as an emotional anchor upon which she build up her defenses for another assault.

C’ree quickly caught on and smacked Blade’s head against the ground, disrupting her meditation for a moment. The Zeltron opened her eyes, staring into the half-Sephi’s face, and continued to work on slowing her breathing. In response, C’ree began digging her nails into the side of Blade’s head, slowly drawing blood.

The Sith yelled out in pain, feeling a surge of anger as she tried to hit the deranged woman again.

C’ree laughed gleefully and licked the blood off of Blade’s face, sweat intermingling with it.

“Mmmm. I miss your kind. Always smell so good. You make perfect pet,” the half-Sephi smirked, and proceeded to cuddle her while whispering in her ear. C’ree proceeded to ask her question after question in an attempt to illicit a response. The Sith provided none, bar one.

“Do you fear loss?”

Blade didn’t say a word, but an involuntary shudder quickly betrayed her reaction to it, especially since C’ree was still inflicting a sense of terror. “You never be a Jedi. Darkness always be with you, forever. You…hah…you be… Just. Like. C’ree.”

With the stressing of her final words, C’ree began to slowly and forcibly press her thumbs into the Zeltron’s eyes. A sharp pain cut through the fear and Blade cried out, everything beginning to finally take its toll. Just when the Palatinaean expected to hear more laughter, however, the pressure on her eyes was lifted and the stinging of nails left her face.

“No. No, I no done. No, no no!” C’ree cried out, half pulling away and holding her own head as she shook it furiously.

“I promise no killing, so no killing!” a slightly different voice delivered a response, not much different from the first outburst C’ree had, but somehow more believable.

Adrenaline and fear coursed through the Palatinaean as she thrust her good arm forward, palm up, directly into the half-Sephi’s nose. A sickening crack was immediately followed by a flow of blood. Blade shoved C’ree off of her, winced as she got up, and fled.

From behind, the Zeltron heard C’ree call out. “I see all. You have good in you, keep running!”

Thank you, she thought, hoping that the softer version of the strange woman stayed around a bit longer.

A ferocious scream rang out through the hangar, signifying the victor in the battle for control of C’ree’s body. A rage enveloped the half-Sephi, creating a single thought focus for the woman: get the Zeltron. C’ree began to run after her prey, pushing past pirate and soldier alike as they moved into her path. With a roar, she threw her hand out as a blast of electricity cascaded towards the fleeing Palatinaean, impacting the lower right of the girl’s back.

Blade cried out in a startling pain, dropping to her knees involuntarily as she looked back to see her assailant. Not far away, C’ree marched towards her furiously, the blood from her nose now covering the entirety of her face and hands. From the pommel of her saber, the half-Sephi drew a knife like object, twirling it in her fingers while licking her lips as if threatening the Zeltron.

Unexpectedly to the both of them, and possibly attributing to the worst luck any pirate could ever have, Captain Dum turned from around the corner of a large cargo container and barreled into the arms of C’ree before he realized she was there. Still fueled by her rage, C’ree kept her eyes locked on Blade and wrapped an arm around the captain’s head. In a burst of speed and hatred, the knife sliced a large gash into the Duro’s neck, causing him to gurgle a plea and collapse to the deck holding his throat to prolong the inevitable.

“Found you,” C’ree stated with the tilt of her head, still stalking towards the Palatinaean.

As Blade started to get back up, she spotted a group of commandos running her way and cried out for help. Their loud yells in return were accompanied by wall of blaster fire directed towards her approaching assailant, who had to quickly raise her hand as an invisible wall dissipated the bolts. The Zeltron fell to all fours, favoring her right side, and crawled towards the advancing troopers in the quickest route possible.

“She’s over here! Get her!” a familiar voice yelled as he pointed to the half-Sephi. The first squad, those brave souls, had come back for her.

Blade tried not to count the seconds or think about C’ree as she slowly made her way back behind friendly lines. She could hear the snap-hiss of a lightsaber and felt horrible that she couldn’t do any more to help, but at least their blaster fire outnumbered the half-Sephi. She quickened her pace, shuffled her way through an opening the unit made for her in their lines, and got a safe distance away.

The Zeltron watched in horror as C’ree dropped her barrier and pulled one of the commandos to the deck with enough force to cause him to slide towards her feet. The removal of the barrier allowed a blaster bolt to graze her leg. In her enraged and delirious state, she didn’t seem to slow or react, but continued deflecting as many bolts as she could. As the soldier lay there helpless, the rage filled half-Sephi slashed the pulsing blade of her saber across the man’s chest, burning an orange, gaping gash into his armor and causing his body to go still.

As if her own self-preservation finally kicked back in, C’ree showed signs of fatigue and realization of her own injuries. She slid her body against the cargo container to keep from falling over her hurt leg, and wearily deflected the remainder of the blaster fire as she retreated into cover, and away from the squad. Giving one last glare to the Zeltron peeking between commandos, C’ree sank from sight with a final yell.

“You no forget me!”

Blade shuffled further out of sight, avoiding the half-Sephi’s gaze.

“Fall back!” ordered the commander.

The first squad regrouped around her, one of them helping her back to her feet.

“Thanks. I didn’t expect you to come back. You are crazy, you know that?” Blade thanked all with a depth a feeling she hoped conveyed her appreciation.

“It’s what we do. You able to fight still?”

“I can still help out, but I probably shouldn’t take the front. That man, I didn’t mean for him to die. I’m sorry I couldn’t help out more.”

“He did his duty, we knew what we signed up for. Now stop moping and make his death worth something,” ordered the commando.

Blade didn’t feel completely at ease or fit for battle, but she would protect them until they reached the safety of the Rohlan’s Vision. It is what a Jedi did: defend others.

“Yes, sir. I’ll follow your lead,” she acknowledged as she lit her lightsaber once more.


(Morgan B. Sorenn) #16

As Ishanta left with the information, Alethia found her way back to the cell where she left Keelan and the scientists. She passed her hand over the control panel and deactivated the containment field once more, letting them out. Keelan rushed out first — followed closely by all four hostages, some in worse shape than others — checking the corridors for any enemies. Alethia seemed unharmed and there was no one else to be seen outside.

“Where’s Turel? What happened?” Keelan immediately asked.

“I don’t know. It’s time to move and get these people out,” Alethia said as she looked down the corridor, towards the main exit, in case anyone else decided to show up unexpectedly.

“Take the corridor down there,” Keelan pointed towards the other side. “Second door on the left should be a maintenance access. You’ll find a hatch there off the ship. Should drop you just under it. It’s still close to the pirates, but better off.”

“How do you know?”

“I’ve served on ships like this. I know. Go.”

Alethia knew what he was doing, running back to Morgan, and for a very short moment, she almost wanted to stop him. But he was her instrument for the Herald’s downfall, and Alethia would just as easily kill him right then if it meant Morgan went with him.

“Fine, go. We’ll be in contact,” she lied, but he had no reason not to believe her. Keelan nodded firmly, gave one of the scientists his extra blaster and rushed towards the main loading ramp. Alethia waved the scientists forwards and took up the front.


Earlier

The two Elders, Sith, and Jedi, stood in the middle of the killing field, enemies on both sides killing each other with ever greater abandon. Necron gave Vorsa no pause to look at her surroundings, or to check up on the status of the battle. She would have to trust Echo to lead her men in her absence while she focused all her efforts on keeping Necren contained. The Force-fueled Necren’s body beyond humanoid limits, and she was still but a blur.

Vorsa found it hard to keep up with the Prophet as she bobbed and weaved around her, attacking from seemingly every angle. The Jedi’s skills were stretched to their limits as she tried to maintain the same sort of alacrity the Prophet displayed, but in the open, with no clear obstacles but small cargo containers, Necren had the advantage and she had planned her attack carefully from the very beginning.

Their lightsabers clashed together once more for only a second before Necren disengaged again. With every move, Necren drew the Jedi closer to the Inquisitorius agents who took potshots at her when they could. Echo and his commandos took up cover near the General and her assailant and laid down suppressing fire.

Seeing Vera slowly pulled into the enemy’s midst, Echo yelled above the deafening roar of battle. “General! Pull back, we’ll cover you!”

Vorsa found but a moment to push Necren away once more, and jumped backward, deflecting blaster bolts as she dropped. She landed near the edge of the elevator shaft again, this time in cover, closer to the ship. Echo rushed out just as Necren made her appearance again. “General, your saber!” he yelled out, and without a moment of doubt Vorsa tossed her reserve hilt into his hands. The pure blue blade ignited with a hiss as Necren once again attacked the Neti, spinning and twirling around her.

“Cover us!” he barked an order at his squad as he rushed in.


Present time

Alethia found herself pinned behind several crates with the hostages next to her. As soon as they had escaped the ship, the Inquisitors who came with Ishanta started firing at them several dozen feet away. Bad luck seemed to follow her quite a lot on this mission, and this situation was no exception. She peeked out and sent a few more shots down at the enemy, who seemed to be advancing.

Footsteps echoed behind them as the first squad, Blade in tow, found cover behind the crates close-by. “Commander! Come on, we’ll cover you!” the team leader, a Mon Calamari Alethia knew from several missions before, yelled out.

She nodded at him and looked at the hostages. “Time to go. Run!” Three of them started running as Alethia appeared from cover and blasted indiscriminately at the enemy position. Only Oolong Var’ren, holding the blaster Keelan gave him, stayed behind to cover them. As they ran, one blaster bolt from the Inquisitors landed firmly into Amillia Sencha’s leg, toppling her to the floor. The other two stopped and grabbed for the Mirialan woman in an attempt to drag her closer.

“Run, you idiots!” Alethia said as she dragged the Sullustan with the blaster. Their squad managed to suppress the Inquisitors long enough, but as they came closer, Alethia heard a terrifying clang, clang, clang against the metal floor and noticed what looked like a grenade exploding in their vicinity. The sonic boom that came after sent them flying and rolling over the deck. The deafening sound in their ears reverberated through their heads in a painful shockwave. Alethia felt a hand reach down for her as her head spun in circles. She saw herself being dragged towards the commandos, who were still exchanging fire with the advancing Inquisitors. The hostages, now in complete disarray were being dragged away by several of the darkly dressed agents.

Alethia’s head may have spun but her mind was as clear as air. She saw Ishanta coming from behind the Inquisitors and soon realized they had lost. Without even a moment’s hesitation, the Commander raised her weapon and shot the hostages, one by one.


Necren suddenly found herself assailed by two enemies at once, and while the commando was certainly no match for her skills, he was enough of a distraction for the Jedi to overwhelm her. Necren went on the defensive, coming up with a new way to handle the situation as Vorsa and Echo pounded at her with their plasma blades. She blocked an overhead swipe from the Jedi, ducked beneath the commando’s horizontal slash, and extended her foot into him, unbalancing the man. Echo stumbled back, regaining his footing, only to be met by a volley of blaster fire from the enemy. He ducked just as his squad returned fire on his assailant, silencing him permanently. Echo rolled into cover and picked himself up while the General kept Necren’s focus on her.

The Prophet’s annoyance and anger rose even higher as the meddling commando attacked again, this time from the back. She jumped over his vain attempt at attacking her legs and delivered a kick that slammed against his nose. Her blade slashed wide at Vorsa, forcing the Neti to duck. With enough space to maneuver, the Prophet’s spectacular, precise movements gave way to a burning desire to finally and utterly destroy her enemy. Vorsa felt the attack only moments before it came, but it was enough for her to brace. Necren’s outstretched hand let loose a torrent of Force lightning powerful enough to dislodge even Vorsa from her stance.

The Neti flew backwards, through the cargo containers stacked behind her, and into the open. Necren immediately jumped after her, aiming to skewer the Jedi to the floor, but the Neti rolled away in time. Still stunned and reeling from the electrifying torrent, Vorsa was no match for the advancing Iktotchi. Necren’s crimson blade speared the Neti through the chest and shoulder blade and she yelled in pain. Morgan and Turel rushed out of the ship’s loading ramp just in time to see Necren raising her lightsaber in a final blow. Turel’s heart sank as he mustered whatever speed he could, charging at the Sith with abandon.

Necren’s final blow never came as Echo attacked her from behind once more, giving Turel more than enough time to engage her. But Necren would not be stopped. These pretenders were nowhere near the Jedi general’s skill and she toyed with them for a moment longer. Echo’s blade came down, slicing air as she dodged while delivering a swift kick into Turel’s abdomen. Her lightsaber sliced upwards and through the commando’s saber arm, burning circuitry, metal and synthflesh as it went. She twirled in a circle, facing away from him as her blade pierced his abdomen, forcing him to exhale a deep breath. With what might he could muster, and a defiant cry, Echo slammed his free hand into Necren’s own and squeezed. The metal cybernetic crushed Necren’s fingers around her long hilt forcing her to lose her grip and deactivating the blade. Echo simply stared at his commander-in-chief as he stumbled backwards, dragging the grappled Prophet along.

“DO IT!” his voice thundered, spitting out blood as he yelled.

Turel started blankly at the commando for a mere moment and, without hesitation or time to think, rammed his lightsaber through both of them. Necren howled as pain, rage and fear mixed inside her into a toxic concoction. She coughed blood and stared at the Consul of Odan-Urr with a burning rage. Reaching for his head, she tried and failed to claw his eyes out as Echo dragged both of them into the elevator shaft.

“No!” Turel yelled, seeing his wife’s bodyguard, his friend, fall down the dark shaft with the murderous Sith. For a mere moment the fighting stopped as the warring sides stared at the spectacle, but just for a moment. Soon the commandos were firing again, protecting the High Councillor and pulling him into cover. Two other men took the wounded General and dragged her to safety. One of them received a blaster bolt to his head for his efforts.

“Retreat!” someone yelled over the cacophony. “The scientists are dead. Retreat!”


The hall was in disarray, but all Morgan could do was stand still and watch, unable to move as she saw her former Master, the only woman who truly cared for her, laid low. She realized that the sight of it paralyzed her completely, shaking her bones and her mind. But it didn’t last long. She saw C’ree drag herself from cover towards the ship, she saw her pirates whittled down to a poor state, and she saw, most importantly, the Inquisitors lose their objective. The scientists lay dead on the deck of the hangar. She saw the death and destruction, and she stared at Ishanta who ordered her men to advance, dead set on capturing Morgan’s brother or Master.

She had lost control. Completely. But in this one moment, she had the power to do something to stop the massacre and allow her family to escape. She stared at C’ree, face still caked with blood, who gave her a cold look of derision. She reached for the half-Sephi and slung her arm over her shoulder. She would have plenty to explain to C’ree when they got back. Keelan, who was standing several feet away and firing, badly, at the Lotus commandos, looked at her with a knowing look in his eyes.

“Retreat!” he ordered and Morgan nodded. “Get back to the ship!” he yelled louder so all the pirates could hear.

“Retreat!” Morgan repeated his command and helped C’ree across the Vulture’s loading ramp. As she did so she saw the transports on the other side of the hangar take on their passengers. One was already airborne, with the others following closely.

“No!” Ishanta yelled from somewhere behind cover as she and her men were pinned by the commandos, now focusing their fire completely on them.

Morgan placed C’ree into the medbay and ordered, “Get us airborne and set a course for the Shroud.” She could feel Ishanta’s burning anger at her for leaving them, but she didn’t care. At that point, nothing mattered at all.


(Aurora "Aura" Ta'var) #17

Blade sat in a corner of a storage room-turned-makeshift-hospital-ward just outside the main bacta room housing Vorsa, safely out of the way as medics, Lexi among them, rushed back and forth from patient to patient. General chaos filled the room as supplies shifted around to accommodate more beds. She had already completed her healing trance so she wasn’t sure what to do. She wasn’t a medic, nor was she trusted to walk freely around the ship, so she occupied herself with something she always carried with her: her own thoughts. The Sith hunched over and fidgeted with her hands, her mind very far away.

She kept replaying the previous battle: her fight with the woman named C’ree, her rescue by the Odanite commandos, and helping carry Vorsa back to safety while the Odanites retreated. She felt an overwhelming sense of pride that she had fought well for the Jedi, but one thing gnawed at the back of her mind: the nice woman inside C’ree. Somewhere, somehow, the monster known as C’ree had taken over, leaving the kind, caring woman inside to rot away in a prison of darkness.

Could I become like C’ree?

The Zeltron couldn’t tell the future, but Vorsa believed in her and Blade hadn’t let her down. She had resisted the Dark Side’s urges, mostly, and walked away on her own power.

Good job, self.

She knew it was a long journey and it wouldn’t always be pretty, but the Sith knew what she wanted to become: a Jedi. She had done some terrible things, but in the end hope was all she had. It was the spark that had gotten her this far, and it would carry her forward one step at a time.

“Blade, can you help me out?” asked Lexi, who was standing in front of her, with a smile. The Zeltron looked up in surprise, her self-examination halted.

“I’d love to. How can I help?”

“Come with me.”

Blade smiled as she got up and followed the Jedi medic. It was time to help save people again. One step at a time, she promised herself.


(Turel Sorenn) #18

Medical Bay
MC80 Solari
Eight Hours Later

Turel paced anxiously up and down the hall outside the intensive care ward. Even though he could sense Vorsa’s presence in the Force he still worried about her. The wait to get back to the main fleet had been agony, none of the medics in Arcia’s strike force knew much about Neti physiology. Even young Lexi Corden was stumped and didn’t exactly know what to do.

“Your pacing is not helping, Sorenn,” Admiral Cortel stated plainly from an uncomfortable bench, her back injury not allowing her to stand for long.

Turel looked to the woman, but said nothing and continued his pacing. Arcia sighed and lost herself in her memories of the battle that took place, remembering that lives were lost under her command and there was nothing she could do about it. The mission had failed and the trust placed upon her was thrown away, at least in her mind. With another sigh, Cortel continued watching Turel, his pacing now the only distraction she had from the death in her mind.

Turel turned back to towards the door his wife was behind, his mind reverting back to worry. One of the providers holo’d ahead to Luna Okami, a Mandalorian from the Kiast system and Odan-Urr’s unofficial chief medical officer, allowing her to pull up the necessary medical literature and synthesize the appropriate medication. For a Mando who lived on an ice moon and dressed in animal furs like a barbarian, Luna had extensive training in xenobiology. A necessity in a multi-species community like the Okami clan.

The High Councilor’s pacing was interrupted when the older Human came out of the ward in her medical garb. “Vorsa is stable, you can see her now.”

“How bad are her injuries? Will there be any permanent damage?” Turel inquired with deep concern.

Luna placed her hand on the Jedi’s shoulder in a calming gesture. The two may not have always seen eye to eye, but the old wolf was starting to warm up to the scoundrel, especially after spending time with the Odanites and seeing him in action as a war leader and a husband. “Her wounds are severe, in fact, most other sentients would have died from them. Luckily she doesn’t have a cardiovascular system in the same way we do. A Human would have been pierced through the heart from a blow like that.” The middle-aged woman sighed, “it’s hard to say how long it will take her to heal or even if she’ll be exactly the same when she does. Neti physiology is quite alien to us still, there are very few medical treatises on the species in circulation. I’ve given her something to induce a coma-like state which should aid in the healing process. The best thing you can do now is be there for her when she wakes up and try to get some rest yourself, your people need you at your best, as will she.”

Turel nodded with understanding before turning to head toward the door. “Thank you Luna, for everything.”

The physician stopped in her tracks and slowly turned around to reply, “No thanks are needed, just do one thing for me.”

“Anything.”

“Don’t take a single moment you have with her for granted, she may not be so lucky next time. When your life mate walks the warrior path, every day with them is precious because you do not know if it is their last.”

Turel didn’t know much of the older woman’s story but the solemness of her tone indicated she spoke from experience on the matter. “I never take anything with her for granted…not anymore.”

A hint of a smile crept across the Mandalorian’s face, “I can tell your bond is strong, she is lucky to have you as a mate.”

The Jedi gave a respectful bow to Luna before entering the ward.

Time lost its meaning as Turel stood his vigil by Vorsa’s bedside, holding her hand tightly as the machines attached to her beeped steadily. Minutes turned into hours as he tried to focus on her calming presence in the Force, wishing she could advise him on what to do next. The entire mission was a failure: Echo was dead, Vorsa was in a medically induced coma, the scientists were killed by one of his trusted lieutenants before they could provide any details on Pravus’ weapon, they had failed to extract Keelan, and Morgan was still on the dark path. Necren’s apparent death felt like a hollow victory compared to what had been sacrificed. Kintan “Echo” Strider had been a close family friend, loyal soldier, and one of the most honorable men Turel had ever known. They had fought together on several battlefields and there was no one else the Jedi trusted to watch over Vorsa after New Tython.

The galaxy felt like a very dark place in those moments with hope like a small flame flickering in the wind. Even the Council was turning to darkness as evidenced by Alethia’s grim battlefield calculus of murdering the scientists they were there to extract. Turel felt like he was failing at everything as High Councilor.

He squeezed Vorsa hand tighter as a pair of tears rolled down his cheeks. “I’m not strong enough to do this without you,” he whispered in a broken voice, referencing their past months of frequent separation following the Neti’s departure from the Council. Tears came faster as despair began to overtake the Jedi.

Suddenly Turel felt a wave of calm rush over him, as if Vorsa had reached out to him from beyond the mist of dreams. He remembered what she had said to him so many times before, Carry all as one.

You can do this, you must. All those people believe in you. She believes in you. Be the light in the darkness.


(Morgan B. Sorenn) #19

Godless Matron bridge
Shroud Nebula

Morgan was alone on the bridge of her ship, reviewing holo feed from the fight they had just survived. Luckily for her, the Vulture had decent security systems to tap into. She rewound the feed again, focusing on several specific scenes she had missed while fighting with her brother. She stared at an image of C’ree pinning the Zeltron girl, she knew was Blade, to the deck. She observed C’ree as she went through her cycles of lunacy, placed a hand over her forehead and rubbed it to ease the growing migraine.

“Pretty Zeltron in pain,” C’ree’s voice echoed behind her, barely a whisper. The Captain hadn’t heard the witch enter the bridge, but she wasn’t really surprised. C’ree had her ways of unnerving people like that.

“Why did you attack her?” Morgan asked coldly.

“You bring me pain, I bring you pain,” the half-Sephi hissed into her ear.

“I don’t care about her.”

C’ree ground her teeth and sneered, “Maybe if you no keep secrets, I would know.” She walked several paces in front of Morgan’s chair, just as the Captain shut off the feed. They were illuminated by the red glow of consoles, and nothing more.

Morgan stood up and faced her first mate directly. “They are my family. I made them a promise. I promised them I would look out for them from here, Carrie. What do you expect me to say?”

You are my family! Your family is my family! I protect family, just as you. No more lies,” C’ree practically screamed, almost crying.

Morgan’s fingers clenched into a fist, and then relaxed. She exhaled to relieve some of the stress that was building up. She reached for the console on her chair and initiated the feed. It was frozen in time, showing the very moment when Morgan had imposed her will upon her first mate, immobilizing her in place. “Do you understand why I had to stop you, Carrie?”

C’ree stamped a foot into the deck in a childlike manner. “No! I no understand secrets and lies to family!”

“Karking hell, Carrie!” Morgan bellowed. “Do you understand what would have happened if that schutta of an Inquisitor figured out that Keelan was a Lotus spy? We’d be strung by our entrails. I’m trying to protect us both!”

“You no protect me by lying! You hurt me!” C’ree’s lower lip quivered and tears formed in her eyes. “You lied. You lied to me.”

Morgan wiped her eyes, now red with fatigue. She realized that none of that would have been necessary had she told C’ree about everything from the beginning. Morgan turned and slumped back into her chair. “I’m…sorry, Carrie. I just. I just wanted to protect you.”

“No, Captain. You protect yourself…” Her expression changed from sad to that same look of derision she gave the Captain on the Colony. “And you call me C’ree,” the first mate used her words like daggers and stormed out of the bridge.

Morgan sighed deeply, regret of many bad decisions escaped her mind as her focus shifted to the holofeed and the blue-skinned Inquisitor who challenged her. There was something about the woman that made Morgan feel a chill down her spine. She had seen many people gunning for her, but Ishanta was the first who knew Morgan’s tricks. The failure of the mission wouldn’t ring well with the Council, and all of Morgan’s thoughts were bent of pinning it on someone else.


M/CRV Scorn bridge
Unknown space

Ishanta paced in the middle of her command center, nearly biting her nails at the situation she was in. She had planned to trick Archenksova into a sense of ease and take her, the hostages, Vorsa, and Turel together before the Grand Master. It was such a perfect plan, until that schutta Morgan ruined it all. Her unexpected retreat left Ishanta high and dry, and all she had left of the ordeal was the data Alethia gave her, which actually seemed to be genuine.

Leona rolled over to her and beeped in a sad tone. Ishanta ignored her and sat in her chair, observing the data from the drive. She looked at the image of a Sentinel eagle representing the image of Chariot, the agent aboard the Matron. But her mind was on something else entirely. The Grand Master would not look kindly on her failure. Fear crept up her spine at the thought of meeting him again.