[RoS: Escalation] Pillage and Plunder (Expansionists)

[RoS: Escalation Event Long] Fiction - Small Group Run On - Blockade

Snap Shots:
Brimstone’s Snapshot
Malisane’s Snapshot
Essik’s Snapshot
Shanree’s Snapshot



Capture abd disable or destroy an Interdictor cruiser owned by the Principate, the Geta.

Phase 1

Tenixir Revenants: Teams pledged to the Expansionists and Retributionists have been tasked with boarding and disabling or destroying the Geta. The ship is defended by one TIE/LN and one TIE/SA Bomber squadron. The Principate’s VSD Vel, previously anchored in orbit, is approaching to protect the Geta but will take some time to arrive. It’s up to your team how you reach and board the Geta. Likewise, how you accomplish the ultimate goal of disabling or destroying the ship is your choice, but should be influenced by the alignment of your pledged sub-faction.

Plan (Guideline):

Utilise two teams to take over the vessel. A small group of infiltrators, and a much louder group of boarders make up this lot. The former are working in secret to take over the vessel, the latter to serve as a distraction while this happens.

Run-on rules:

To participate, form a team of three (3) to five (5) members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood from any unit, including members of the Clans and rogues. All teams must be composed of members who have pledged to the same sub-faction.
Members can only be part of one (1) team.
Each team must create one (1) thread on Discourse under the Run-On category, and all posts must be published to the thread to count.
Thread names should include [RoS: Escalation] and a team name to properly tag it as part of the competition.
For participation credit, members must make two qualifying posts. For posts to qualify, they should be at minimum 250 words and be no longer than 1000 words. Posts shorter than 250, or longer than 1000 words, will not be counted towards participation requirements but do not otherwise disqualify a run-on or a participant, or prevent a run-on from placing. They may be edited as per the Edit Rules below, but not after.

Immobilizer 418 Cruiser Geta
Orbit of Dandoran
Doran System

“Captain’s Log,” she paused and read the date from the screen then continued, “ Severian Cruiser Geta, Lt Colonel Jaquinta Ni’Erilia commanding. We have arrived at the planet Dandoran in the Doran system to respond to rumours of an incursion by Revenant forces in the area. We are expecting to be joined by the Vel in oh-five hours’ time. Currently, there is no sign of hostiles, however, we have launched our fighter squadron and are making regular sweeps of the surrounding area. The crew have been advised of the seriousness of the situation and are currently meeting my expectations. We will maintain our position until the Vel arrives or the situation escalates. Log ends.”

She sat back in her chair and sipped her hot drink. She looked around the bridge and gave a nod of satisfaction. They were performing their duties quietly and efficiently. She found it unlikely the Revenant scum would risk an attack against such a large vessel but she would be happier when the Victory-class joined them.

Her thoughts were interrupted by alarms sounding across the bridge. She glanced at the operations officer who turned to her. “Suspected Revenant forces approaching Captain,” he reported, “the scanners indicate light attack ships. No heavy vessels.”

“Go to action stations, order our fighters to form a screen to repel them and have our gunners target hostiles when in range.”

“Acknowledged Captain.” The lieutenant began to relay her orders.

She sat back in her chair watching the screen as the Geta began to manoeuvre to meet the incoming threat. They would regret such a bold move against her ship.

The Revenant force quickly advanced on the Geta, the two Squadrons of TIE fighters surrounding the MG-100 star fortresses and the SS-54 assault ships. As the Geta’s single TIE squadron formed up to defend their ship, the Revenant squadrons accelerated to meet them. The assault ships and fortresses maintained their formation as they advanced, flying in perfect formation. As the fighters began to engage, the heavier attackers advanced as quickly as possible to close the range to their target before the turbolaser turrets could pick them off.

As they came into range the Geta opened fire with her turbolasers and the formation broke slightly to avoid the incoming fire. As soon as they were able to, the lead assault ships returned fire at the Geta, doing their best to avoid the heavy fire until they were able to get the star fortresses into bombing position. Right now speed was essential to maximise damage and minimise casualties. The Tenixir Revenants did not have ships and crews to waste without results.

Unobserved on the other side of the Geta a lone ship floated in space, quiet and black against its surroundings, the Lancer Patrol craft, Deathshead. On board, Essik Lycanne watched the battle with satisfaction from his position behind the Telaxnir pilot. So far the Revenant pilots and crews were performing well. To the old Gand veteran this was just another battle, and yet each one mattered as much as the last. The timing had to be right here and there was to wriggle room for error.

Behind him in the corridor Battlemaster Seabr’imsto’nedansr waited quietly, focusing on watching the battle. He glanced down, checking his armour was correctly sealed and his weapons were ready. All was in order and the Chiss allowed himself a slight smile of satisfaction. “How long?” he asked.

Essik did not turn. “We must wait until the Star Fortresses are in a bombing position. They are our cover.”

“Understood,” Brimstone replied. He trusted the Gand’s judgement.

Back in the lounge, Shanree studied the black armoured Warlord curiously, his vision sensing the odd mixture of controlled rage and distrust. When they had met back on the dreadnought there had been some polite introductions between the four members from their different Clans, and discussion of the mission ahead, but the Sadowan had been the least communicative and had kept his responses mostly to less than ten words and had agreed with shrugs or a simple “agreed” when asked. They had not even seen his face yet. He had offered to use his ship though, which was something. Shanree turned away and closed his eyes, focusing on a calming technique he had learned. Then he opened one as he heard the Gand call. “We are moving in, everyone make ready.” Shanree stood and stretched as he felt the lancer power up its engines.

The line of assault ships and star fortresses had several of their number missing as they reached the Geta, and as the fighters formed back around them half their number had succumbed to the defenders fire. However they now had a clear run at the Immobilizer , still manoeuvring carefully to avoid the turbolaser fire and pouring shots into the enemy’s deflectors. When they passed over the mass of the capital ship’s body, the Star Fortresses released their deadly payloads, explosions rocking against the flickering deflectors as they focused their attacks exploiting and widening gaps in the defence. From the other side the lancer patrol craft approached quickly, using the confusion to slip in and survey the surface, looking for a suitable entry.

The attackers completed their bombing run and began to climb away from the Geta, modifying their trajectory slightly to avoid the turbolasers, and as one unlucky one exploded in a burst of flame and escaping oxygen, they jumped to hyperspace. As the crew of the Immobilizer and their captain struggled to understand what had happened and why, hidden beneath their sensors a black vessel was now clamped to their hull, those onboard beginning to cut their way into a hatch.

Shanree rose to his feet, mirrored by his not-quite apprentice Zakai. The youth was all of sixteen but showed little anxiety; His life under the tutelage of Vodo Biask, his father, had been harsh in the extreme and had prematurely exposed him to violence and danger. Zakai, who was otherwise like any other teenager, had a dark and serious streak that didn’t seem out of place on what was a young but soon-to-be handsome face. Shanree studied the boy, watching the way the Force swirled around him, and each of the team, in its own unique way. It wasn’t ‘sight’ like those with eyes would describe it but he could read enough about the world around him that it didn’t hinder him all that greatly. For everything else, like writing, there was his modified comlink that could assist him.

As they approached the airlock where the mission team was stacking up, Shanree took one of the two fighting sticks he grasped in his left so that he was armed in each hand. The sticks, born of a variant of the Teras Kasi martial forms, in fact his saber hilts-- a fact he liked to keep to himself until necessary. The Force around the team’s members were tightly coiled and swirled with agitation, anticipating the coming violence. Bouncing on the balls of his feet lightly, shifting his weight from pad to pad, left to right and back, Shanree shook out his jitters and loosened his aging muscles. He worked his head side to side, cracking the vertebrae relievingly.

He looked down at Zakai, not quite his height yet, with a twinkle in his eye and a little grin, “Try not to look like you’re going to have too much fun, will yah Kid?”

The boy made a funny face and punched the older man, his not-quite master, in the arm playfully, “You’re the war hero, Grandpa.”

The ship shuddered slightly as a voice over the PA announced, “We have a soft lock. Thirty seconds. Bombing run has finished. Hard docking lock----- ten seconds.”

The airlock door slid open after a short, muffled concussion. Shanree, a ground-pounder, wasn’t familiar with naval boarding tactics and was momentarily impressed by the neat hole torn into the Geta’s exterior hull. The Gand noticed him hesitating and waved a diminutive arm with urgency. The Grey Jedi followed after the rest of the team, entering the Geta. The ship’s company hadn’t responded to the breach yet but the boarding klaxon was already filling the interior of the Geta with its repeating warble.

Catching up to the rest, Shanree caught the last of Essik’s instructions, “The Taldryanites will go with you.”

Brimstone nodded and to the three he said, “Come on, the reactor is this way.”

Behind them as they trotted off Essik jabbed with his cane and prodded his droid several times, prompting it to heft its DC-15 as though ordered to take up a defensive position. The noise of blaster fire from behind them soon followed as the ship’s reaction force ran into those left behind. At a junction up ahead two men in matching uniforms and minor blast-resistant armor appeared. They leveled their carbines and began firing down their corridor.

“My turn.” Shanree bounded forward with preternatural speed. He closed most of the 15m between them and the Principate marines. He flowed gracefully between blaster bolts and once, when a bolt could not be avoided, he deflected by sweeping one of his fighting sticks across his torso, igniting the emerald green blade for only long enough to contact the incoming shot. It rebounded off the lightsaber blade and buried itself into the wall paneling. Flitting in-between the two surprised human men both were incapacitated with a flury of blunt strikes with the fighting sticks. Brimstone and Zakai, having protected themselves with their own sabers, met with Shanree a moment later. He still remained in his final Teras Kasi form, forward leg straight before him, hips sideways and his weight balanced on his rear foot with a bent knee. The sticks were held out defensively, one before him held horizontally and the other held menacing over his head. He relaxed from the form and rolled a sore shoulder.

Zakai smirked, “You don’t have to show off for us.”

“Exactly, come on, this way”, Brimstone said and led them off towards the reactor space.

The ship was long but it was not complicated and soon they were at the blast doors of the Engineering section. The blast doors were considerable, considering what lay behind them, and Brimstone and Shanree quickly discussed their options. Unnoticed, Zakai set to work on the terminal beside the doors and shortly thereafter opened them with a triumphantly smug face.

“Can he do that to the reactor?” the Sith behind the full Mandolorian Beskar asked Shanree.

Zakai shrugged, sardonically interjecting, “He can try.”

The party of four continued their way towards the reactor. Brimstone kept both pistols in his hands looking through his visor down the hallways and around the corners. He was concerned that there was a lack of enemy around the area like they were set up in a trap. “Makes no sense to me,” he thought. Reaching out with the Force, trying to feel if there is anyone around or if there was a trap.

The other three were sitting behind him and patiently waiting as they wanted to get this job done and over with. As he looked ahead, he could feel there were other entities or bodies behind the reactor doors of at least five or six individuals. The former Plagueian was feeling uneasy. This was his first real mission that included other Clans of the Iron Throne, each with a different outlook in life. He was still getting accustomed to being a bounty hunter, not just a Sith. He spent many years under the narrow minded views of a Dread Lord. This was a new, yet different situation. A Sadowan, an Odanite, and a Taldryan - all different mindsets, all working to achieve the same goal, destruction of the Principate. The same enemy that had been a thorn in their sides for the last few years.

Malisane placed his hand on Brimstone’s shoulder plate. “What’s the matter, Brim?”

“Nothing. My mind wandered off. I, um, it just feels too easy that we made it this far into a command ship with little to no resistance,” he replied.

“I know, I have the same feeling too” replied the human.

The Gand mimicked a polite cough. “Essick doesn’t want to interrupt you two if you plan on mating, but we do have a mission to accomplish,” he said with sarcasm. Brimstone just gave the old Colonel a cold glare.

“There are five or six behind the doors, waiting for someone or us to enter.” Brimstone then adjusted his heavy armor, still getting accustomed to it. “If we try to enter this the strong way, we are likely to get blasted. And I still ain’t ready to test this Beskar out on that.”

“Might I make a suggestion?” spoke up Shanree, “We three are powerful with the Force, we can use our telekinesis to push the doors off their hinges into the room and surprise them, perhaps taking a few with them. How’s that sound?”

Malisane and Brim both nodded and then raised their right hands in the air, along with Shanree. All three of them grabbed the durasteel frame and could feel the exertion of it as it began to buckle and break under the strain of the Force. The more they pushed, the more it broke to their will. Essik took position with his SoroSuub ELG-3A Blaster and aimed at the soon-to-be opening. The framework of the door caved in and the door thrusted itself inwards along with it. Three of the six inside were impacted hard and rendered unconscious. The other three stood there shocked in disbelief, a moment of hesitation that cost them their lives as Essik dropped them like womp rats shortly after. The four made their way inside and secured the outer room of the reactor.

“Now, let’s get in there and shut this thing down,” Essik retorted.

The inner door put up no more resistance than the first. With a scream of tormented metal and the snap of bolts, it was bent inward and sent flying into the reactor room. This time, however, the group was not met with armed marines but a number of very surprised crewmen.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Essik managed, raising his voice as the ensemble of Brotherhood members fanned out among the few there, Brimstone and Malisane herding them off to one side. “Run and you will be shot in the face. Resist and you might lose a limb. Are we clear?”

More scared of the Sith than the elderly officer, the crewmen managed a series of nods, before issuing several panicked squeaks of “Yes!” as Malisane raised his lightsaber.

“Excellent, thank you,” Essik said politely, waving Zakai toward the nearest of the controls. “Now please keep quiet, we have work to do.”

The young Twi’lek quickly set to work on the systems, his brow creasing as he examined the array of labels and listings surrounding the reactor’s primary mechanisms. There was the muttering of questions and inner thoughts as he started to test out a number of options, apparently working on hope as much as personal skill.

“One way in, one way out,” someone murmured close by, and Essik half turned to see Shanree Argentin looking back at the door they had fought their way in through. “If they do corner us in here, this could get ugly.”

“All the more reason to keep our friends over there alive,” Essik said, lightly gesturing back toward their captives. “Perhaps if we’re lucky and this truly is a kinder, softer, Empire, then they might think twice before racing in here.”

“I was thinking more about how quickly we could make a backdoor if we need it,” Shanree answered, gesturing with his lightsaber at the hull plating. “They don’t expect that sort of thing. Well, usually, anyway.”

Essik gave a chittering laugh in response. “Then let’s hope they don’t have the same idea.”

“How’s it coming?” Brimstone called out, irritation at having to scare a number of increasingly panicked people into line evident in his voice.

“Just a minute longer. I think.” Zakai was focused in intense concentration, trying to work through the details in front of him. Rhan had joined him now, breaking off from where the group’s droids and the other Jensaarai, Tarvitz, were maintaining overwatch on the reactor room’s entrance. “I’m trying to make sure that this doesn’t go off immediately.”

“Just work as quickly as you can,” Malisane said. His words were accompanied by a loud thud and a yelp, as the Sith pistol-whipped one wide-eyed member who had just attempted to break past the two. “Better to-”

Malisane’s words were cut off by a screech of blaster fire from further up the corridor, most impacting against the surrounding frame. The steady boom of rifle shots answered them as both the KX-​series and MagnaGuard accompanying them returned fire.

“We have prisoners, and we’re right next to-!” Tarvitz bellowed, but was cut off as several more marines joined the first. A grenade bounced into the room, only for Tarvitz to snatch it up with the Force and hurl it back at their attackers. The boom was accompanied by several very surprised screams.

“Almost got it!” Zakai yelled over the screech of gunfire. “There, I think that’s it!”

The quiet energized hum of the reactor rose slightly in pitch, gaining a shrill note that set every person’s teeth on edge. Several control readouts blinked red with warning signs and alerts, foretelling of safety failings and rising energy levels within the power system.

“Do you need to do anything else?” Shanree asked, waiting just long enough to see Zakai shaking his head before hacking apart several of the control panels. The smell of burning circuitry joined the ozone tang of blaster bolts. There was no way back now.

“There’s no other way to switch this off, is there?” Brimstone asked their captives. Most were looking on in stunned horror, too shocked to give a proper response. “I’ll take that as a yes. Feel free to run.”

None of them hesitated, fleeing in a sudden rush as they raced for the open door, several screaming in panic as they escaped.

“So, backdoor?” Brimstone continued, as he and Malisane moved to rejoin the others.

“Backdoor,” Shanree agreed, and along with Rhan they began to cut open a chunk of the hull beneath them, opening up to the floor below.

When the Severian troopers entered the room a short while later, there was no sign of the infiltrators. The only clue to their previous presence was the worryingly rising levels on the display next to the reactor, and the neat hole cut in the floor. As a couple of them first looked through the hole, and then climbed down into the empty room below, a team of engineers quickly entered the reactor room. They looked deeply concerned at what they could see and hear.

The engineers in radiation suits feverishly worked over the reactor. They knew time was of the essence, the displays were clearly indicating that. Behind them four troopers in armour stood watching the entrances to the room, blaster rifles held ready in case the apparent saboteurs returned. Already a search of the wider area was undergoing, but they appeared to have vanished. The petty officer who was chief engineer studied the numbers on the screen as his team continued their apparently fruitless stabilising and repair activities.

Finally he sighed and stepped out of the room into the corridor. He raised his communicator. “This is Chief Reldox to bridge.”

“This is the Captain, what is your situation Chief?” the voice came back.

“The reactor status is critical,” Reldox replied, “we are unable to stabilise it’s decline.”

“We hear you,” her voice came back, “is it dangerous?”

“Reactor leakage is minimal though eventually it will begin to infiltrate the air supply,” he told her following a signal from one of his junior engineers, “additionally we anticipate total failure in sixteen minutes, more if we undertake any strenuous activity. Backup systems will maintain lighting, heating, the air supply and artificial gravity in command areas, medical and engineering, but that is all. I am sorry Captain.”

“How soon following the shutdown will you be able to bring it back on line?” she demanded.

He turned and looked back at his team who had now stepped back from the reactor. “We will be unable to make repairs to restore reactor power without the proper facilities of a repair yard Captain. It will require a complete overhaul.”

“Understood Chief,” she replied.

Lt Colonel Jaquinta Ni’Erilia sat in her chair contemplating the situation following her conversation with the Chief Engineer. So far her troopers had been unable to find the saboteurs who had apparently done this. She had more immediate problems. With main reactor power gone, the Geta would be floating and helpless in space, with weapons and deflectors inoperative and most of their sensor power gone. With the majority of their fighter escort destroyed in the earlier presumed Tenixir attack, they would be vulnerable to attack if a hostile force remained. According to their latest estimate the Victory Class Vel was still over three hours away, an eternity if hostile forces returned. Finally she made a decision.

“This is Captain Ni’Erilia. We are experiencing serious issues with the reactor and our engineers are unable to rectify the problem before we experience a total shutdown in fourteen minutes. Therefore I am ordering an emergency evacuation of the Geta. All non essential personnel make for your assigned shuttle designation or escape pod. All essential personnel maintain your stations, troopers will be assigned to you to provide security. I expect every one of you to remain calm and professional in this situation. Message ends.”

She sat back in her chair and signed as she watched her bridge crew intensely studying their displays. She hoped they would be able to keep the ship safe until the Vel or other reinforcements arrived. The Geta was too important to lose.

Essik listened to the announcement with a grim satisfaction. “Just as we planned,” he commented.

Shanree leaned back casually against the wall of the supply room they were hiding out in. “This will still leave some of the crew on board,” he pointed out.

“Only those they deem essential, a skeleton crew at best,” the Gand replied, “they will be isolated to their designated areas, and no barrier to our escape.”

Brimstone looked over from near the metal door, which was blocked by a supply cabinet. He, the Sadowan Warlord and the droids were on guard and were listening to sounds from outside. “I can sense many people moving past,” the Chiss commented, “quickly but in what I suppose they call an orderly fashion.”

“They are not our concern,” Essik replied, “with so many people in the corridors evacuating and the order to guard their key personnel, they should not be looking too hard for us now.”

“So what is the plan?” Tarvitz asked from the corner of the room.

“We should give them a while longer and then head back to the ship,” Shanree replied, “there is no further need to delay once the corridors are clear.”

“Agreed,” the Gand replied. He looked over at the quiet Sadowan. “Signal your ship and have the pilot ready to depart when we return.”

“Very well,” Malisane replied.

“We may still meet security,” Brimstone pointed out.

Essik nodded. “Keep fatalities to a minimum,” he replied, “where possible at least.”

With so much of the crew rushing to find a way off the seemingly doomed ship, it was not possible for the small team of infiltrators to move through the corridors of the ship unseen. Even young Zakai, who’s illusionary powers were impressive, couldn’t keep them all hidden long enough to retrace their steps to the Deathshead.

Shanree looked at the quieter of the two armored Sith, Brimstone, “You can’t walk in front of all of us, wearing that stuff can you?”

The visored helm stared at him emotionlessly for a moment, “Not unless I want to be broiled to death.”

Essik, who knew the man only slightly better, stopped and stared at the normally reserved Sith’s almost-joke, “We can’t wait here for too long unless we want to get caught up in our own mess.”

The two droids accompanying them stood there motionlessly, a silent reminder to all in the room that there was an option to merely scythe their way through the crew to their escape. Shanree saw the darkening intentions in the men around him and disliked it. He was a military man and knew the cost of war, but he was also a man of no particular lust for blood. They needed another alternative, another backdoor so to speak.

“Zakai, can you close off corridors and reroute the crew to their escape pods around ‘endangered’ sections?” Shanree pointed to a terminal in the corner of the small, darkened room they’d taken cover in temporarily.

The boy leapt over and set to work, “I should, the trouble is how far down we have to go to get to the ship; we’re going against the current.”

Essik listened in and nodded his agreement, “This is good. We send the droids ahead of us once the way is supposedly clear. It needs to be done fast though–”

“Done”, Zakai announced, “this emergency protocol the Principate uses is garbage. It opens a lot of command functions to remote control…”

“It’s supposed to help in damage control, and search and rescue”, Malisane poked his helmeted head out the door, into the corridor and back, “spacers don’t like the idea of being trapped on a dying ship. The way is clear here, let’s go. Zakai, send me the route data.”

The boy tapped off a few commands before they all left the room, droids in the lead. Malisane led the way in his full Beskar’gam with Brimstone and his bringing up the rear. They made their way deeper into the ship, scaring off a lost crewman and his comrade. They allowed the two men to live, figuring they would have bigger things to worry about than having sighted the infiltrators. Their journey took them to the place where the Deathshead’s breaching charges had punched a hole into the hull in the Geta.

Malisane trotted around the final corner with the finish line all-but in sight when he was stopped dead by the heated concussion of dozens of automatic blaster fire. Stumbling backward, he was quickly helped back to cover by Shanree who’s outstretched arm called the Force to pull the armored Sith to him. Droid noises came from around the corner as small blast marks smoked lightly with ionized beskar. K-ORN and Eye-Gee proceeded around the corner together, the KX with its DC-15 and the IG with its TL-50. The noise from around the corner was a mix of rapid blaster fire, screeching metal, and clanking parts. In seconds it was over.

“THREAT ELIMINATED. PATHWAY CLEAR.” Eye-Gee announced generally.

Shanree helped Malisane struggle to his feet, “Come on, let’s get onboard.”

The Deathshead disconnected from the doomed Frigate none too soon. Shortly before they’d kicked away the debris of the destroyed ship’s droid guarding the hole, the whole ship had begun to shudder and quake. Everyone had squeezed back aboard the patrol vessel and were only seated seconds before Malisane had punched the throttle bar to its stops. They cleared 15km from the ship before sensors alerted them to a nearby explosion. From the top-side turret Shanree swiveled the point-defense weapon until he could see the remains of the frigate behind them. He did not see the hull fragments and the fading light of the critical reaction but rather the flows of the Force. They swirled restlessly, agitated by the disturbance above the planet. It told him that not everyone had escaped.

The Deathshead was suddenly hit by a jolt that rattled everyone in their seats and those still standing to the floor. Malisane looked at the onboard sensors and saw that the VSD Vel was firing on them, as well as everyone else in the confines of space surrounding therenains of the Geta. “What the fark is it doing?” he yelled.

Brimstone peered out one of the viewports and told her to bank hard right, which he did. Moments later, a turbolaser blast went past the space they were just in. “That was close,” Essik replied.

“We need to get planetside,” retorted Brimstone. “We’re sitting womp rats out here.”

“But we completed our mission,” said Malisane. “Didn’t we?”

“I have a bad feeling that this mission just got worse. I don’t know what it is, but I can feel a large presence in the Force. One I never felt before.”

“Here comes another shot,” yelled Shanree as he sensed danger. “HARD LEFT NOW!!!”

Malisane banked hard to avoid the blast, but too sharp as part of the debris hull from the Geta scraped the underside of the Deathshead. Alarms rang out from the sensors. “We got a hull breach. We’re losing air fast!!” she yelled.

Brimstone slapped back on his helmet and sealed it. “I got it” he exclaimed as he pushed his way past the others towards the leak. His plan was only temporary: seal the leak with his lightsaber and some floorplates.

Minutes later, Essik radioed him. “Is it fixed?”

“I am doing the best I can, but it is only going to hold so much. We need to land this ship asap or we will implode in the vacuum of space.”

Malisane heard him clearly and banked hard, pointing towards the surface, spinning the ship into a nose dive to avoid more debris and incoming lasers. The ship started glowing red in its underbelly from the friction of the atmosphere as she headed into it. Brimstone made his way back to the cockpit where they were all at and strapped himself in. The ship continued to heat up its belly as he pushed it hard to get to the surface.

“Brace yourself guys,” he muttered. “This isn’t gonna be a smooth landing. One of my landing gear is damaged also.”

The Deathshead leveled out towards the planet’s surface and with three of the four landing gear extended, slowed down long enough to touch down on the surface outside of Tipool City outskirts. The sudden and hard jutting rocked the ship and everyone onboard. Malisane breathed a sigh of relief as he finally released the controls he had been gripping tightly.

“Guys,” spoke up Shanree. “We’re not alone!!”

All those with a connection to the Force suddenly felt a disturbance as a new enemy was working their way towards where they landed. Unlike the Principate, these creatures were full of rage and darkness within them. Essik looked out one of the windows and counted seven, red and blue humanoids, coming towards them in a full sprint.

“Guess we see how well we are against the unknown,” Essik said.

Any sane opposition might have kept their distance. The Deathshead’s hull still glowed with the heat of reentry, and the rainfall sound of debris from their hard landing rattling about the area could still be felt. Yet, heedless of anything besides the chance to kill, the creatures charged.

“Do we still have engine power?” Essik asked. The mob was mostly in front of them, but any hopes of swiftly ending the threat were quickly dashed as Malisane flipped through several switches.

“The engines overheated from that last stunt, we’ll need to wait for them to ease off before-”

His words were drowned out by the sound of hammer blows as the creatures reached the ship, seemingly trying to force their way inside. Each strike was akin to an industrial hammer, the noises echoing throughout the Deathshead.

“That’s going to leave a dent,” Shanree said, wincing at the sounds. “Anyone know what they are?”

“Dangerous,” Brimstone answered, unbuckling from the harnesses and rising to his feet. “And soon to be inside. Does anyone have any wise ideas on how to fight them?”

“Give them a weak point,” Essik spoke up. He and the others were quickly removing themselves from their seats and hurrying after the Chiss. “Somewhere they will try to rush through, and perhaps we can get them a few at a time. Your recent patchwork perhaps?”

“It’s as good a place as any,” Brimstone admitted.

As they moved further back inside the vessel, they could hear the hammering all about them. Rather than focusing upon a single place, the creatures were striking at various sections, attacking one portion and then another. The moment one would end, another would start up, each seemingly attempting to find an easy way inside. They could already see a few places where the walls had bent slightly under their efforts. Malisane issued a number of profanities at the sight, doubling his speed as they followed Brimstone back to his work.

As they passed through one of the rearmost sections, several of the others looked up in surprise at their arrival. Zakai made to follow them before Shanree halted him.

“What’s going on?”

“Something very angry is outside, and we need to kill it,” Essik answered, snapping his fingers and gesturing at the group’s two battle droids. “You two, please follow us. The rest of you, wait here in case they get in through somewhere else.”

The automata followed them without comment, falling into formation behind them as they headed further back. The makeshift seal, still intact, was situated in its cargo hold, marked as a mismatched tile against the floor. They could hear the creatures still prowling about, exploring its underside and clambering over its dorsal plating now. With a nod from Essik, the Force users raised their hands and pulled the plating free. It clattered to the ground nearby.

There was no hunting call in answer to the action, nor even a triumphant scream. There was an abrupt silence, an animalistic sniffing of the air, and the sound of scurrying approaching the tear in the metalwork.

The thing that emerged might have once been a Mon Calamari, were it not for the crystals. Angry red shards littered its form, rising in serrated pillars from its shoulder blades and chest, emerging from its bulbous eyes and misshapen jaw in bizarre formations. Spiralling formations crossed its skin, until it was difficult to tell what was crystal and what was blood. Only the ragged remnants of armour indicated its previous allegiance to the Severian Principate.

One moment it was beneath them, looking up through the hole, the next it had launched itself up into the room. Both droids fired at once, a wealth of bolts striking the creature before it could fire. The thing raised a blaster clutched in one crystalline claw, only for Malisane to step forward. There was a snap-hiss of a lightsaber and the barrel fell in half. Another strike and it stumbled, as the Sith drove the glowing blade through its heart. The monster looked down at the blade and then took hold of Malisane’s wrists, a gurgling noise reverberating in its throat.

Brimstone snarled as he brought his own lightsaber down against its head, parting the flesh, only for crystals to reform over the wounds a moment later. Several more strikes hacked against the thing’s flesh, warping the crystals and coating burned skin in more of the damaged armour. It casually tossed Malisane aside, as easily as an adult would a child, before raising more of its weaponry.

“If anyone has any smarter ideas,” Essik said, backing off from the intruder, “please speak up!”

These creatures were at once fascinating and terrifying to behold. To Shanree they appeared like skeletons, afire with the glow of the Dark Side. He could not see their macabre crystalline growths, but he could see portions of the so-called skeletons and carapaces where the living Force swirled angrily, disturbed by physical perversions of the Force. Shanree leapt in, taking his turn, his fighting stick saber-hilts in hand. He had a suspicion he knew what needed to be done.

Like a tempest, he swept into melee range and began to assail the creature with ferocious speed. The thing itself was fast and strong, but they seemed somewhat evenly matched for the moment. At first, the beating of the hard wooden fighting sticks was confusingly ineffective to the others who were picking themselves up or making space for the gymnastic display of dipping, ducking, dodging, diving, and dodging put on by the Miralukan.

The creature swatted ineffectively at him, but in return blocked many of his blunt strikes with its forearms, armored by crystalline growths, or allowed him to hit harmless places like its shoulder, head, hip, and chest. The thing’s constitution was amazing, Shanree marveled as he wound up his next combo of attacks. He had the thing’s measure now. He stepped in and struck with his off-hand stick. It was predictably blocked but the creature’s defensive motion had opened up the first spot Shanree had been seeking. His right hand and its fighting stick rammed forward into the creature’s torso. His saber activated with a press of a button and the emerald blade emerged through the back of the creature with a sizzle and a snap-hiss.

The creature screamed in pain, a chilling and ear-piercing sound that combined a mortal yell of terror with the screech of nails on a chalkboard. Those without ear protection in the cargo bay clutched at their hearing organs in sudden pain. The thing grabbed Shanree with both hands, lifting him until their faces were inches apart. Shanree could see through the Fforce the carapace head of what had been a Mon Calamari once upon a time. Its dead eyes glowed an evil aspect of orange-red, backlit as it was by the creature’s overall emanation.

“Quick!” He shouted, “Use the Force, you can sense these nexuses!”

Shanree deactivated his saber, intending to relocate it while the creature held him to another weak spot, but instead the thing turned and hurled him at Brimstone’s armored figure. The Sith caught him, bodily, with a stagger but tossed him aside when the creature leapt at the pair of them. He raised his gauntleted fist to block the thing’s swipe and was momentarily stunned when his arm was swatted out of the way like a child’s thing. The creature followed up with a lightning-quick punch which caught him in the helmet. His head snapped back, stopped fortunately by a durasteel girder from breaking something, and he slumped to the deck with a thud.

Essik pointed his blaster at the creature and fired a few harmless shots at it., “Confound it!”

It was Malisane that next stepped up. He thought he knew what Shanree had meant now that he knew what to look for. His affinity for the Dark Side of the Force revealed to him those points, probably the initial entry of the crimson red crystals, like the one Shanree had stabbed. There were no obvious external clues but now armed with the knowledge of this thing’s weak spots, he attacked.

The Warlord was furious. When he had attacked the creature had taken him by surprise. It was a long time since he had been knocked down by anything. He advanced on the nearby creature, scattergun in hand, and as it turned to him he fired, the rapidly expanding, piercing pellet hitting the creature’s chest, pushing it back and ripping into the crystal formations that protected it. He fired again, and the creature rocked back trying to right itself furious. A third shot pitched it from its feet and it hit the ground hard. Oblivious to anything around him, the Sith advanced on it as it struggled to rise.

He threw the scatter gun aside and drew his saber, remembering through his rage what Shanree had said. He drew his arm back and then stabbed down, focusing on the force to guide his strike. There was another screech of pain as the creature writhed in agony, lashing its arms out towards the Sith. Malisane snarled beneath his helmet and stabbed down again, hitting another weak point. The creature’s writhing began to slow. Finally, the Warlord paused for a second, then drove the glowing blade downwards with all his strength, straight through the centre of the creature’s forehead, meeting a brief resistance before silencing the thing. He stepped back in satisfaction and looked around for another opponent.

Brimstone was getting wearily to his feet, sabers in hand. He saw another approaching abomination and advanced on it cautiously, as it made straight for him. He let his senses pass across its body then raised his weapons. As it surged towards him, he sliced at it with the left saber, and felt a shudder run up his arm as it hit an outstretched arm and sliced down it, cutting through some of the crystals but not penetrating, and he responded by stabbing his right weapon at its torso, aiming directly at where he could sense a nexus. The creature roared in pain and anger and swung a heavy fist at him, and he stepped back, meeting it with the left saber and pushing it away rather than trying to block it directly.

He backed off, trying to sense its next move. There was a sudden movement to his left and a heavy blaster bolt hit the creature, followed by a second. As the creature roared once more and turned to meet the new attack, the Chiss risked a glance and saw a black astromech advancing slowly, firing shot after shot at the furious creature who couldn’t resist the instinct to make for the new enemy. Brimstone saw his moment and ducked behind the creature, lashing out with twin sabers at nexus points in its back. The creature sagged to its knees as its legs buckled, and the Chiss raised both weapons up, and then thrust downwards into each side of its neck, driving down through flesh and organs until the creature slumped forward and lay still. To Brimstone’s left there was a loud tone of triumph as Zero moved forward, its probe scanning the corpse.

There was a temporary lull. Three of the abominations were lying dead on the floor and the droids had moved over to the hole in the floor. Between them, they dragged a heavy crate over it and the droids put their weight on it, holding it down
“They will find other ways in,” Essik pointed out. “How long until we can launch?”

Malisane looked at the display from the ship’s droid brain. “It estimates forty minutes.”

“Too long,” the Gand replied. “What about the weapon systems?”

“Possible,” the Sith replied. “But we risk overloading the power supply and then we are not taking off.”

“We need an alternate plan,” Essik replied. He glanced at the Chiss who was looking speculative. “You have something to suggest, Brimstone?”

“There is something I have tried before. It is risky and is not certain to work, but it is an option.”

The Gand glanced at Shanree who nodded. “We need an option. Let us hear your plan.”

A short while later the hammering from outside was becoming louder, and Essik had directed the droids to make ready for any further incursions. He glanced at where five force users knelt on the deck in a rough circle and their faces were locked in concentration. Shanree sat with Malisane and Tarvitz on either side of him, and Rhan and Zakai opposite.

Essik looked up at the Chiss who was reaching for the ceiling hatch. “Are you ready”?”

“I believe so, yes,” Brimstone replied. “I just hope they haven’t reached the top of the ship.”

The Gand nodded. “If they have, you will probably die shortly before us. Good luck.”

Brimstone nodded and began to open the hatch. “Thanks.”

The Chiss stood up and proceeded to the hatch to go outside. He knew this could be a suicide mission. But he also knew that for the plan to work, he had to unleash his inner demons and let the darkness envelop him. In other words, let his hatred and anger flow. He grabbed both of his blades and ignited them as Shanree pressed the hatch release to open the door.

A brief second was all it took as the Battlemaster ran outside into the chaos, he was clear for the moment. He stood out in the open. The landscape was riddled with debris and refuse and underbrush. He looked back at the ship to see at least half a dozen creatures, blue and crimson, pounded away at the hull. Reaching for the nearest heavy rocks on the ground, he lifted with the Force and hurled them at the creatures. The impact knocked two of them to the ground, which in turn alerted the others of his presence. All six creatures made a beeline for him, the exact thing he wanted them to do: Distraction!

The five inside the cargo watched as the creatures made their way to the Chiss. “Now?,” asked Knight Zakai Biask.

“Not yet, young one,” replied Shanree, “Let’s let the Sith get angry first.”

They continued to watch, along with the three combat droids.

It didn’t take long for the first creature to make its way to Brimstone, a tall, lengthy build that resembled a former Ithorian. It slashed at Brimstone with it’s clawed crystal hands, scraping the Beskar the Chiss was wearing. It didn’t damage the armor, but the brunt force of it was enough to push him backwards. Brim quickly flicked his right wrist as he spun, lopping the creature’s arm at the elbow. Where there would be a normal gush of blood, it quickly crystallized and sealed the stump into a newly formed spike.

More creatures barreled into the Chiss, punching, grasping, hitting him from different directions. He fought like a rabid Rancor defending its hive. One was able to grab his helmet and ripped it off, exposing his bearded, aqua blue face. Brim’s deep red eyes were turning into a putrid orange hue that darkened as the battle dragged on. He was getting angry and the darkness started to soak into his every being. One creature hit him across the face with its red crystal fist, cutting him deep with blood spraying into the air.

“ENOUGH!” he yelled as he threw up a barrier that pushed the creatures from him momentarily.

“NOW!” yelled Shanree.

The hatch opened again and the eight emerged from the Deathshead. Essik and the battle droids stood behind the four Force wielders as they lifted their hands and started to grab debris and items on the ground, hurling them in a storm towards Brimstone and the creatures.

Brimstone saw the incoming shrapnel and knew it was time. Tossing both of his gauntlets and lightsabers to the ground, he lifted his hands and blue plasma of lightning shot forth into the storm of debris. His hatred intensified as the field ignited into a firestorm, entrapping all within, including himself. He didn’t care as the flames licked his face. His hatred was fueling him as he unleashed more torrents of electricity into the storm to the point that he started to laugh maniacally. Flames and lightning hit the creatures and they burst into flames that even their remaining flesh seared into blisters till they burst under the heat. Brimstone’s face and lower arms, unshielded from the Beskar protection, also began to burn and char. He didn’t care. The hatred had consumed him. The dark side had him shielded in its web. The more he curbed out fields of lightning, the more hysterical he got, the more he savored his kill.

Essik and the droids shot at each target, carefully trying not to hit the Chiss in the process. The other four kept the storm going with their wield of the Force. They knew it was damaging their compadre, but this was what he had wanted… It was the only way to defeat them.

Each of the creatures finally gave up their lives, their reconstructed metabolisms unable to regenerate fast enough to save them. As they dropped one at a time into a pile of scorched flesh and crystals, it was only then that Brimstone stopped his unleashing storm. He then called back his lightsaber and went to each body, stabbing into their hearts, making sure they were dead. He then dropped to his knees, then face first into the soil, dropping his lightsabers.

Everyone raced to him. Malisane flipped him over to see the charred and puss face, his eyes closed. He reached to his neck. “I still have a pulse, We need to get him back on the ship where we can start healing him and save his life,” he said.

The three droids picked up the heavy Chiss in his Beskar and carried him back to the ship. As they got inside and strapped him down to a table, Malisane made his way to the cockpit to take off while Ka and Shanree tended to the Chiss. Both laid their hands on his motionless body as they used the Force to start healing in hopes of saving him from certain death. The ship, a few moments later, shuttered as it started lifting up off the planet’s surface. Soon afterwards, it was headed towards the west and then upwards. Malisane had received a transmission while they were on the ground fighting that the Iron Fleet had arrived and he requested an immediate clearance for a medical emergency, which was approved.

The Deathshead powered through the void, its battered frame shuddering with the force of its engines. Dents covered every inch of its surface from where the crystalline abominations had attacked the vessel, giving it the appearance of having swooped headlong through a meteor shower. By some small mercy no interceptors rose up from the atmosphere in pursuit of them, nor did they break off from the multitude of skirmishes between both sides. Too tied up in their own conflict to recognise the small vessel fleeing from the battlefield, the Deathshead was left to escape without confrontation. Yet that hardly made the task of keeping the Chiss alive any easier.

“Damn it all,” Tarvitz said, his brow knotted in concentration. “Can’t you keep this thing steady? I’m having a hard enough time as it is.”

“This is steady,” Malisane’s voice came from the cockpit. “This thing’s a combat dropship, not a flying ambulance!”

Tarvitz issued only a wordless grumble in answer. With no other pilot available - and unwilling to trust his beloved vessel’s fate to another’s hands - Malisane had left Tarvitz to handle the job of healing on his own, piloting them to safety. Most of the others were exhausted from the fight, or working to repair the damage to the ship as best they could from within.

“I’m amazed he’s still alive,” Zakai said, amazement overcoming tact at the sight of the Chiss’ beaten, burned, and bloodied form. Anything else he might have said soon fell quiet as the Jensaarai gave him an irritated glance.

“It’s a hard enough job as it is,” Essik interrupted, putting a hand on the Twi’lek’s arm. “Please leave him to it.”

Brimstone, or what was left of him, issued a series of wet coughs as the Deathshead swept toward the arrow-head prow of an Iron Navy Star Destroyer, and disappeared under its shadow. None of them spoke at that moment, as the larger ship’s hangar came into view, but each wondered the same thing. After expending that much power in the effort to kill the creatures, and being brought so close to death, how much of him was going to come back?

Sundari Station
Zsoldos System
3 Days Later

The station’s medical intensive care unit was business as usual. Other than the normal holo training injuries or the drunken brawls that occurred on the station, this one featured an isolated room with a burn victim still in recovery.

Essik, Malisane, Shanree, and Ka waited outside in one of the lounges. They hadn’t left Brimstone’s side since they made their escape. Despite their efforts, he hadn’t regained consciousness. A few moments later, a tall human male walked in and looked over to them, then walked over to the desk. They could see the Clan Vizsla crest on his shoulder. After some small talk, he was allowed to enter the isolated chambers.

As he walked in, he placed an ungloved hand onto the forehead of the Chiss. He could see where the bacta did its job of healing the scars and burns, but not removed the sizable scar on his left cheek.

As he held his hand there, he just spoke a single word…”Awaken.”

Brimstone’s eyes slowly blinked open into the lowly lit room.

“Monty?” he said with a rasp in his breath.

“Glad to see you’re still with us,” Montresor spoke. “K’imsi Ch’acivah again, Brim?.” Brimstone let out a faint smile. “I told you once, and I’ll say it again. That move is gonna get you killed someday.”

The Chiss laughed despite the pain. Minutes later, the other four entered the room, glad that he had survived.

Tarvitz walked over and looked at him. “I hope to never see you when you’re angry. You scare me.”

Brimstone turned his head. “Me too.”