- Phase I: Revenge Path
‘‘Phase I begins on October 14th and ends on October 28th (two (2) weeks)’’
After intercepting a transmission from the now destroyed Brotherhood Listener ship, the Psi Termina I, your team has been hand-picked and sent on a mission. You are already boarded on the Dreadnaught-class heavy cruiser Akan, arriving in an Imperial boarding craft through the auxiliary starboard hangar, only several decks below your target. The Akan’s hyperdrives and major systems have been disabled by ion cannons from escorting ships and a battle still rages outside.
The ship’s power fluctuates with every blow from turbo lasers and ion cannons and you have limited time to complete your mission. The Collective regiment typically onboard is currently deployed, but ship security is fully staffed and some elements of the regiment may still be onboard. Intel expects Soldiers and Partisans onboard.
Your team has been tasked to complete one of the following objectives in limited time (you may complete only one (1) objective):
Revenge path: Reach the main bridge, face and eliminate Captain Brith Kayle and extract valuable information from the computer core before the fleet destroys the ship.
Sabotage path: Reach the primary computer core behind the main bridge, extract the information and set the ship to self-destruct before extracting.
Pacifist path: Reach the primary environmental controls on the main bridge, pacify the whole ship with Stun gas before extracting data from the computer core and calling in the cavalry.
Caution: the Captain is accompanied by an unknown number of enemy combatants.
The Phase must end with the bridge secured and the ship either pacified or destroyed. In all but the Revenge path, the Captain’s fate is up to you.
Lucine Vasano adored when things went according to plan.
The statement was, perhaps, a tad inaccurate; she always had multiple plans, as events rarely proceeded according to expectation once commenced and no one plan could account for all possibilities. It was, however, pleasant when she had minimal adjusting to do, when one might almost say her expectations were underwhelmed due to how smoothly things turned out.
It was an especially rare occurrence in her life, even more so since joining Arcona and finding the abilities of her adversaries much more annoyingly competent; or at least, considerably more paranoid. Dark Lords among the Brotherhood were so excessively murderous. It made all her careful ambitions simply cringe for the lack of tact.
But today was a pleasant day, because today had been long in coming and very carefully crafted. She had waited patiently several months with her teeth grit and smiling under her then-Quaestor’s superior position and several months after that rankling when she was passed over because of Satsi’s whispering in the Ryn lout’s ear. It had taken many delicately traded and saved favors, doled out like precious rations of water in the Tatooine sun, for her to maneuver herself just so for this venture. To have the right files come across the right desks, to arrange certain data that encouraged certain skill sets, to position other, perhaps less valuable and equally suited candidates elsewhere. But now, at last, she had it: her Proconsul — for now — Terran Koul was being dispatched to lead this mission, just as she’d intended. Hand-picked, one might say.
And Lucine had made herself just so available to accompany him as an informant.
Having Rhylance’s company was not an irritant, but a boon, and she was glad he’d agreed to come. Besides the cover of the risky assignment, having another witness to secure her accounts of the mission would be most helpful and offset suspicion by providing two possible culprits, if any foul play was even whiffed, instead of one. And the doctor’s skills certainly couldn’t hurt. Nor his providing another body to aim for instead of her, even if she would miss his body in particular. There were others.
And so Lucine Vasano stood in the small hold of an Arconan flagship, in the Imperial shuttle that would deploy them to the Akan with a rare, genuine grin on her painted lips, her emerald eyes glimmering as they fixed on the hangar entrance. Even the noise and smell of hurrying pilots and astromechs couldn’t dampen her mood despite how the departure of starfighters kept positively ruffling her perfect curls and clean skirts. She held her hands folded before her, datapad tucked under them as ever, and presented her best smile as she waited for the Proconsul to come around the corner.
And then Satsi bloody Tameike strode in and opened her putrid mouth and called, “Did we get assigned a waste transport by mistake? All I see waiting here is trash.”
Lucine’s mascaraed eye twitched as she replied through her newly tight grin. “I’m afraid not, darling. You’ll have to find another place to nest.”
Terran came loping into the fray the next moment, raising a sharp brow at both of them while his dun duster whipped around him and he finished holstering twin pistols. He was pinched-looking around the eyes, as if this whole business was already giving him a headache, but he gestured to their escort. His immense Wookiee Fade followed him, speaking softly in a warble to the Ewok riding on her shoulders.
“Let’s get going, campers. It’s explosive out there,” the Kiffar ordered, marching straight onto the drop ship awaiting them, though not without waving back at the two furry figures. The Ewok chirped angrily but then hopped down, and the Wookiee whuffed at him before she too crowded into the cramped shuttle.
Satsi grumbled minimally as she followed Terran, sticking almost unusually close as she wedged in between him and the cockpit, all the weaponry hanging off of her clanking against the walls. She was wearing one thing Lucine hadn’t seen her in before: full-fledged armor. The Sith suddenly felt a surge of concern for her physical well being. If even that bull rancor of a woman was being proactive, then perhaps Lucine herself was a tad underdressed.
Stiffening her spine, the Aedile shuffled aside to allow her comrades room, staying as far from Satsi’s reach and the Wookiee’s outfit-ruining fluff and musk as possible, though she nearly fell into Rhylance’s seated form for it. The space was a rather tight fit, between four Human or Near-Human bodies, a full-grown Wookiee, and the large, industrial canister of special stun gas the Chiss scientist had developed to incapacitate the enemy crew.
She shot Rhylance a discreet glance under her lashes, hoping to catch his attention to their new predicament, and smiled charmingly at Terran when his too-sharp eyes touched on her in that moment. The transport lifted, her stomach dropping out, and they all found something to hold on to.
Take-off was a white-knuckled affair full of laserfire streaking past. They had to time their approach carefully so as to pass through the enemy ship’s shields, fluctuating under the barrage of fire they took, and it meant staying exposed in the skirmish much longer. In those busy moments where her stomach lodged itself in her mouth, Lucine asked, “Satsi, darling, not that we won’t find your company thrilling, but I wasn’t aware you were assigned to this mission.”
The other woman shot her a side-glare that could have rivaled a ruffled nexu. “And you’re supposed to know who all gets assigned to what, are you? Funny, didn’t think you were the boss.”
“You mean me?” Terran asked blandly, a tone that didn’t match his look. “To answer your question, Lucine, Tameike volunteered to take up extra security on any available jobs, including this one. If you two are going to have a problem with each other, then you can have it back home when we’re all safe and paid. Not here. Got it?”
“Of course, darling,” the Sith answered sweetly, doing her best to curtsy without actually having the space to physically do so. The shuttle rocked.
“Hey, whatever it is, she started it,” Satsi replied much less graciously. “There won’t be anything wrong if she doesn’t make it that way. I want all of us to get out of this in one piece too. All of us.”
“…right,” the Proconsul said with lifted brows. “Then mouths shut and blasters cool. We’re keeping this quick and quiet. We get to the life support systems, we distribute the gas, we get our info and we go. Rhylance, you’re ready?”
The Chiss pushed his glasses up as they nearly toppled from his face when the pilot spun the craft to dodge fire.
“Of course,” he responded. “I—”
BOOM, went something against their ship, knocking those still standing into a tumble of limbs and angles, slamming flesh and metal and plastics together. The pilot screeched to his copilot, the Force screaming to the senses of those who held it. The vessel rolled again.
Isshwarr roared as she grabbed Terran in one arm and held onto the crash handle above her with the other, bending the steel. He dangled from her grip while the others went flying into the walls and floor, Satsi snagging Lucine in a protective hold with one armored hand cupped over the back of the redhead’s skull and neck, her other limbs locking to shelter the Aedile against her body. Both women slammed repeatedly against the shuttle’s interior as it spun. Rhylance, the only one besides the pilots strapped into his seat, cursed in Cheunh as he was lashed about but otherwise remained stable.
Cables snapped. The gas canister dropped from its secured holding place and slid into the back end of the craft with an earsplitting bang, narrowly missing crushing anyone on its way.
And then with another stomach-heaving maneuver, they were all upright again, slamming back to the deck plating. Everything suddenly grew quieter, and then another impact shocked through them as they landed hard, durasteel screeching and screaming.
In the dazed moment that followed, their pilots shouted that they’d made it through the hangar’s energy shield and had landed on the Akan abruptly and yet not soon enough.
A chorus of groans went up as the Arconans recovered themselves. Lucine’s head spun and she ached all over, but didn’t otherwise feel injured. Her senses had barely recovered before Satsi was throwing her off of her, dumping the Sith on her backside. Lucine yelped.
“Is everyone okay?” Terran barked as his Wookiee Fade released him, hissing out a breath as he rolled his abused neck. He leaned into the cockpit, muttering for the pilots to keep weapons hot even as they reported the hangar scan to be empty. Isshwarr rumbled something that seemed to be an affirmative.
“Define ‘okay,’” Rhylance snapped, though he was unstrapping himself and already assessing the others. “Lucine, dearie, are you hurt?”
“…I am not,” she responded gingerly, examining herself. The Force made quick work of her shaken nerves and pain as she steadied her body with its shade. With distaste, she turned to Satsi and said, “Thank you.”
“Shut up,” growled the scarred woman, exploring the back of her head with her fingers. There was blood matting her scalp and dripping from her ear. She spoke loudly, “Oi, Glasses, gimme a hypo.”
The Chiss tsked. “An anesthetic isn’t going to repair your eardrum if it ruptured, Tameike. Perhaps you should remain here.”
Red eyes flicked briefly to Lucine’s green.
“Not a chance,” Satsi practically shouted again. “Just give me a stim.”
“Hold on that,” Terran interrupted. “Lucine, heal her ear but save your energy otherwise. The meds can do the rest. Rhylance, I need you to make sure that payload there is still intact before we end up gassing ourselves. Issh, get with the pilots and check the ship out. We’re already karked if this boat can’t get us out of here.”
Keeping her expression neutral, the redhead did as she was asked while her Quaestor went to inspect the gas canister. Satsi jerked away from the Sith with a snarl when she reached for her head.
“Do anything to my mind,” whispered Tameike, “and you know what happens.”
“That must be a nasty head wound if you aren’t threatening me more colorfully, darling,” Lucine responded brightly, knowing it would only irritate the other woman further. Satsi bared her teeth.
"I said, knock it off," Terran snapped, stepping up beside them. “I’ll stun you both now and leave you on the nearest rock if you’re going to need a babysitter. There’s no room on my ship or my crew — my summit — for this nonsense.”
“Fine,” Satsi snapped, crossing her arms. She glared at Lucine. “Do it.”
Lifting her hands again, the redhead placed her palms over either side of Satsi’s head. The Force flowed into her body, from all around them into her skin and sinew, down her bones and through her fingertips and into Satsi. She willed it to repair, narrowing her focus and thinking only of her goal. Distantly, part of her missed her Master. Atyiru had been much better at healing.
Quite suddenly, Satsi jerked away again, saying, “Ah, ah, frak. Okay, that’s it, it’s better. Ugh.” She shivered and pawed at her ear.
“You’re welcome,” Lucine commented with a smile. Satsi only glared. Terran shook his head.
“Rhylance, Issh, status reports!”
The Wookiee roared a long string of Shyriiwook from outside.
“She says we’re in flying shape. Good. The gas?”
“The seal on the outer canister has cracked,” their scientist reported, expression grim. “It’s not leaking yet, but the pressure will build inside the chamber and will crack the second compartment that contains the secondary chemical mixture.”
“At which point?”
“The two compounds will mix as intended and the stun gas will form, but less delicately than intended. It could happen at any time. We must hurry if we’re to even get the thing into position before it releases.”
The Proconsul swore.
“Alright. We’ve come this far. We need that data, and I’m not one to leave a job half done. Get ready. We’re moving. Fast. Issh!” he yelled over his shoulder, “get that rig you saw!”
They gathered their supplies and straightened themselves, kits and weapons back into place. Rhylance stuck a needle in Satsi’s neck and spread bacta over her temple in a sticky swipe. The pilot commandos set themselves up in a defensive perimeter. Isshwarr hefted the canister onto her back in a specialized holster. The rest of the team fell in around her, Satsi taking point while Lucine and Rhylance walked on either side and Terran brought up the rear. The main entrance into the starboard hangar spat them out into a wide hall meant to convey vehicles and ships as well as crew.
“Two ahead,” Terran murmured as they activated the doors, and just so, two armed guards stood to either side of it, shouting when it opened. Terran gunned them down lightning-fast while Satsi advanced forward and swept the hallway in both directions. The heavy cruiser shuddered underfoot ominously.
Briefly, Lucine wondered, who on the Dark Council might not mind if half of Arcona’s summit went down with this particular ship?
“We should find some of these,” the redhead commented, nodding at the downed mens’ uniforms. “Disguise ourselves.”
“I don’t think they’re gonna buy all of us bein’ crew,” Satsi said sarcastically as she prowled back over. “And I ain’t ditching’ this.” She rapped on her armor.
“No one would believe all of us, no. One, though.” Terran glanced at Lucine. “This is what you’re here for. Go on, get changed.”
“I can’t fit into that,” protested the Sith. “It’s hardly my size. And you’ve already burned holes in it. Find me a clean uniform and perhaps I will actually be able to convince even the mentally deficient.”
“Frakkin’ princess,” Satsi scoffed. “Fine. Stay here, I saw some doors down that way, I’ll go look for yer dream dress and hope not to die.”
“No, you won’t,” Terran asserted, voice hard. “You’re not in charge here, Tameike, remember that. We can find a uniform along the way if possible, but our first priority is getting to our destination before this tin goes boom. Lucine, which way?”
Hiding her smirk at Satsi’s stink eye for their commander, the woman pulled out her datapad, orienting herself. “We need to go…that direction.” She pointed down the corridor.
“Then let’s go. Quietly.”
The group made their way slowly through the hallways of the Akan. Part of the reason for their slow progress was due to the canister of gas that had to be carried carefully to prevent mishap. However, they also had to stop frequently to neutralize patrols and security officers, which did little to help their timetable. At least they did soon find a uniform for Lucine to slip into, making some of their encounters easier.
The rumblings that occasionally shook the hallway became more frequent. It was clear that the space battle was becoming more fierce, further proof they they were running out of time. So everyone was relieved when they arrived at the door that should have led to the environmental controls. However, the door slid open to reveal a refresher.
“I simply do not understand this,” Lucine said as she flipped through the images on her datapad. “I downloaded the schematics for a Dreadnaught-class a70 Heavy Cruiser. The environmental controls should be right here!”
“Should be, but they ain’t,” Terran said dryly as he looked pointedly at the door.
“Perhaps the Collective modified their ships in some way,” Rhylance put in as he bent to inspect the integrity of the canister’s seal. Isshwarr set it down gently to take a look as well.
“Or maybe we’re just workin’ off bad intel. I thought you were supposed to be decent at this info brokering stuff,” Satsi added. Throughout their wanderings within the ship, she had remained irritatingly close to Terran. Her constant presence made it difficult for Lucine to work her wiles on the Proconsul. That, combined with her mocking grin, caused Lucine’s temper to flare.
“At least I am good at something, you smirking harpy! Unlike— “
“Much as I hate to interrupt what would likely be a fascinating cat fight, we are running out of time,” Rhylance interjected. “The seal is degrading faster than I had originally hypothesized.” Isshwarr growled in agreement.
“So both of you, hush up and git yer heads back in the mission!” Terran ordered as he moved to stand between Lucine and Satsi. “Now you,” Terran jerked his head toward Lucine, “try to figure out where in the hells we are, and you,” he glared at Satsi, “keep yer mouth
shut unless you got something helpful to add.”
Cheeks burning in anger and embarrassment, Lucine turned her attention to the schematics once more. As she worked, Satsi leaned against the wall with a smirk upon her face. Silence fell over the hallway, broken only occasionally by the rumble of artillery fire.
It was in this relative quiet that they were able to hear the sound of approaching footsteps. Satsi instinctively brought her blaster rifle up as Terran readied his twin blaster pistols. Two Collective security personnel rounded the corner and were immediately met with a hail of bolts. One, a Twi’lek male, toppled immediately to the ground while the second, a Human who barely looked old enough to shave, stumbled back, fumbling for his own weapon.
“Do not kill him! He might be able to tell us what we need to know!” Lucine said.
Satsi cursed loudly. “Just once, Pretty-Eyes, I’d like to see you do your own dirty work.” She did not bother to wait for Lucine’s reply, instead running after the guard while Terran laid down covering fire. She rounded the corner, and a moment later they heard a yelp, followed shortly by a solid THUNK. Satsi returned a moment later, dragging the boy’s prone form. She dropped him unceremoniously at the redhead’s feet.
“Well, I will say this, you are remarkably effective,” Lucine said grudgingly as she noticed the bruise that was already beginning to form above the boy’s eye.
“One of us has to be,” Satsi replied with a smirk.
Lucine suppressed the urge to roll her eyes and turned her attention back to the Collective agent. The young man’s momentary lapse of consciousness was mercifully brief. After a moment, he groaned and his eyelids fluttered, as his hand lifted to his forehead.
“Hello, darling,” Lucine said as she knelt over him and offered him a charming smile. “Would you be a dear and tell me where the environmental controls are?” As she spoke, she drew upon her simmering anger and used it to weave the Force into her words, compelling him to obey.
“The environmental controls?” the boy repeated fuzzily. “Why?”
“Because it seems my companions and I are a bit lost. Do not worry, we are friends. You can tell me.”
The guard nodded, a dreamy smile on his face. But it faded for a moment as he looked Lucine up and down. “Friends? But you’re so old.”
“Old?” The redhead’s eyes narrowed, as Satsi gave a snort of derision. One manicured hand lashed out, slamming the boy’s head against the deck with a solid THUNK. Her hand lingered on his head, fingers curling into a grip on his hair. “The environmental controls. Where are they?” she snapped. As she spoke, dark tendrils of the Force tore into his mind, causing him to cry out in pain. His hands curled around her wrists, as if loosening her grip would cause the pain to stop.
“F-four decks up,” the guard gasped at last.
Satisfied that she was starting to get answers, the Sith released the grip on his mind slightly. “And how many people are guarding it?”
“Two squads o-of t-t-ten,” he managed between agonized groans.
“Why so many?”
The guard hesitated, and at his hesitation Lucine gave a vicious psychic twist of the tendrils. It drew a scream from the guard that would have chilled the blood of less hardened individuals.
“Oh, gods, please! Stop! The bridge! It’s on the bridge! And the captain is there! Please, please please stop!” Every sentence was punctuated with a scream of agony as the guard writhed on the floor.
When his cries finally subsided, Lucine glanced up at her teammates with a sweet smile that was made a lie by the scene they had just witnessed. “Is there anything else you want to know?”
“How about why in the world anyone would put environmental controls on the bridge,” Terran muttered. He shook his head. “Let the kid go already.”
“No, no, ask him how old he thinks you are,” Satsi snorted, only to be growled at by Isshwarr. Her mouth snapped shut and she grimaced.
“Alright then, darling, just one more thing.” Lucine stroked the boy’s cheek. “Where is the nearest turbolift?”
“Grrrowwwoh rrro gwwwurrr.”
“I know, I know, already.”
“Do you really have any better ideas?”
“My plans aren’t that bad.”
“Care to share with those of us less linguistically inclined, darling?”
Terran grimaced as he pressed his back against durasteel plating, Satsi waving for them all to halt from where she glanced around their next turn. They all listened in silence as the stomp of fanatically trained militia tromped by, thump-thump-thump, then faded.
“Issh says the canister is crap and she could have made a better design in her sleep.”
The Wookiee growled at him.
“Okay, well, the sentiment was close. Anyway she thinks she can patch it if we stop for a minute but isn’t sure it will help. She’s a genius mechanic but if these kooks have totally rearranged and redone their systems, who knows if she’ll actually be able to access the life support once we make it to the bridge?”
“That is indeed problematic,” Lucine agreed, resisting gnawing at her cheek. There was too much unknown. She despised being in the unknown.
“Clear, go,” Satsi called softly, and jogged forward, the team lurching to follow her. Lucine and Rhylance were both crowded close to Isshwarr at this point, helping bear some of the load of the canister as even the mighty Wookiee grew tired. It made for an awkward shuffle.
According to the young man they’d interrogated, shortly before he suffered a very unfortunate stroke, the lift they needed was not much farther ahead. They’d passed closer ones, but not all of them had bridge access. Every extra moment was one more that the canister groaned and creaked, making all of their skins crawl.
The team rounded another corner, and Terran’s senses screamed with starlight. He whirled around and shot without looking, the Force guiding his aim. His salvo blasted the rifle out of one Liberation Front soldier’s hands, but the rest of the squad emerging from a room behind them still opened fire.
Shouts went up. Rhylance dropped and dove against the curve of the wall for cover while Lucine ignited her lightsaber and spun it gracefully, deflecting a shot. Satsi swore and pivoted with the force of several bolts hitting her armor, the magnetic field only half-dissipating some. Isshwarr roared.
The noise thrummed in Terran’s ears. He thrust out one hand, still gripping its gun, and willed the Force into being. A protective corona shimmered into existence before them, visible only when the next round of blasterfire slammed into it.
Blasters answered in turn, and then a hollow whomp and a clatter. Seconds later, an explosion rocked the opposite end of the hall, Terran’s barrier breaking against the heat wave.
The Proconsul slowly turned to look at Satsi, who was shifting her rifle back around to cover the grenade launcher on its belly.
“Status, folks, status,” Terran barked, peering through the smoke as it cleared. The hostiles were gone, but more had surely heard that. They’d doubtlessly been made.
Most of the others answered in the affirmative, but Isshwarr growled at him in warning. The Kiffar had time only to turn towards her before her large paw cuffed him overhead as she reached fast to grab the back of his duster.
“Issh— ahh!” the Proconsul yowled as his motherly Fade lifted him overhead and hurled him down the hall. He hit the ground hard and rolled, disoriented. His sharp eyes went up in time to see the Wookiee spinning with the impressive strength and warrior ferocity of her species, grabbing Rhylance and Lucine and throwing them away too. Satsi was last, making confused and indignant shrieks, falling furthest from her three teammates. Her heavy armor pulled her down into a hard tumble about halfway between Isshwarr and Terran.
Isshwarr, who stood in a already rapidly blooming cloud of gas, struggling to free herself from the harness.
“ISSH!” Terran yelled, rocketing to his feet. He ran towards her. “Hold on!”
A plate-covered arm shot out, clotheslining him. The man slammed back down onto his shoulders and felt another body crouch over his, Satsi snapping, “Stay back, you moron, you’ll get hit too and she’ll have saved us all for kark!”
“Get off!” Terran hissed, shoving her away as the Wookiee’s roars grew feeble and stopped, the gas cloud fully enveloping her form. She dropped to the ground. The fog swallowed her.
It billowed towards them, expanding in force.
A shout ripped from Terran’s throat even as the Force ripped from him in a violent fury. The telekinetic blast punched down the hall, into and then through the miasma, blowing it all the way to the end of the corridor. It dispersed through each intersection it passed on the way, and as suddenly as it had come, it was gone, curling freely to the floor.
Satsi was gaping, but he wasn’t thinking of her. Terran rushed to his friend’s side, a litany of denials already on his lips. He crouched beside her, fumbling to get the straps off the canister that was probably crushing her chest into the plating. His hands kept slipping. He struggled to roll her over but couldn’t.
Blue fingers knocked his clean aside.
“Let me,” Rhylance snapped, cold and calm. He felt for a pulse for too long. Terran held his breath. “She’s still alive despite that concentrated exposure. We need to get her onto her side. Cut the straps, roll the canister away. Satsi, you lift and push from that side, I will pull. Carefully, on three.”
Satsi did as the Chiss said, and Terran shook himself, pushing his panic from his mind. The Force steadied him with a shaky breath.
“Darling,” Lucine’s poisonously kind tones interrupted. A hand cradled his shoulder. “Perhaps we should guard ourselves while the good doctor does his job?”
“Watch our back,” Terran ground out, climbing back to his feet and looking around critically. He refocused, quickly assessing.
Their mechanic and slicer was down, so they had no one on hand to hack the computer core. That also meant they had a casualty, one he wasn’t about to leave behind. The gas was gone now, which shot their plan to neutralize the ship straight to space dust. Even if they’d been able to take the bridge to access the environmental controls and disperse it, they’d been counting on pacifying the rest of the crew. They definitely couldn’t hold the bridge, after all.
“…should be alright,” Rhylance was saying as he finished his exam. “Be glad I had an antidote, or her respiratory system would be paralyzed. She will likely awake in some hours, though it is hard to judge at this juncture based on her exposure, the gas concentration, her considerable size…”
“Karabast,” Satsi muttered. “Alright, let’s get her down to that room all those frakkers came out of until we’re done with this. Best we can do. Pretty eyes, is there anyone else in that room?”
“No one that I sense,” Lucine answered primly. “Perhaps it would be best if we retreated. Isshwarr may rest under Rhylance’s watchful eye while you guard them, and Terran and I will make our way back to the ship and assure the path is clear. We will blend in perfectly well.”
“Kark that, Vasano. You’re not getting alone with him, and I’m not staying with Doctor Horrible here.”
“Well if you really prefer, perhaps you and Terran may stay here as well and I will go myself.”
“So you can get out of here and tell the fleet to blow us away? I don’t think so. No, we’re all going to go kill these pissant frakkers, and maybe I won’t shoot you while I’m at it.”
“Your accusations grow tiresome, Satsi. Please just—”
“We’re not retreating yet,” Terran said sharply, calling their attention back to him.
"Well, Scion?" Satsi asked, challenging. “What are we doing then?”
“We have a job to do and we’re doing it,” growled the Proconsul, pragmatic and vengeful to his core. They were still free and they still had a way forward. “Will Isshwarr be stable on her own, Rhylance?”
“I would rather she be monitored, but for the mission’s sake, we can leave her.”
“Then we keep going. Throw out the plan. We get to the bridge, we get the Captain, and we get our information. Then we get off this boat.” Eyes and voice hard, Terran stared at each of them in turn. “Move.”
Make the plan. Execute the plan. Expect the plan to go off the rails. Throw the plan away.
It was the story of his life. It was the story of Kolot’s life. It wasn’t the story of Issh’s. At least, it hadn’t been until she’d joined up with him. And now it might have gotten her killed.
For the hundredth time, Terran considered sending her away. It’s not as if she owed him a life debt. She just…refused to leave. No matter how many scrapes with death they had. No matter how often they disagreed. No matter how many times he lost his temper with her. She was his rock. The only one he had left. And now…
Terran shook his head, clearing away the recriminating thoughts and focusing on the task at hand. Compartmentalizing. He’d deal with them later. Or, more likely, he wouldn’t. Whyren’s Reserve was good like that.
He took a steadying breath, then another, as he listened to the intersection ahead. There was a slight mechanical clicking, like a mouse droid with a servo in need of repair, but it didn’t seem to be moving closer. The Kiffar looked back over his shoulder, catching the eyes of his teammates, then motioned back towards the corridor with a tilt of his head. Satsi, next in line behind him, pressed just as tightly against the corridor wall, nodded in return. The armored woman quick-stepped past him, blaster tracking across the intersection. She dove back from an immediate hail of blasterfire.
“Kark!” she shouted, then stared daggers at the Proconsul. “No personnel, but they’ve got a pair of droid-manned E-Webs sittin’ pretty out there.”
“So? You have thermal detonators, do you not?” Lucine’s tone rode a fine line between helpful suggestion and biting derision.
“Sure do, Pretty eyes, if you don’t mind the possibility of explosive decompression. We ain’t that far from the kriffin’ hull.”
The slight redhead shot her a glare that could melt the paint off a landspeeder at thirty yards, then just as quickly it was gone. “Well then, what if our illustrious leader—”
“Enough!” the Kiffar barked, raising a hand and cutting off the chatter. He’d been chewing his lip while the pair of women squabbled, and he now holstered his pistol pulled a pouch of credchits out of his coat.
The Chiss Quaestor quirked an eyebrow towards Terran. “I could be mistaken, but I do not believe the Collective’s droids are susceptible to bribes.”
Holstering his other blaster and pulling an oblong cylinder from his belt, the Proconsul gave Rhylance a wolfish grin. “I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a disagreement that couldn’t be helped by the measured application of cash.” Terran tossed the pouch into the intersection, and a mechanical whirr sounded as the E-Webs moved to track it. The pair of repeating blasters opened fire, disintegrating the pouch in a hail of crimson bolts, and the Kiffar shoved the credchits with the Force. The improvised projectiles shot towards the E-Webs like so many slugs - and were gunned down just as quickly. But not before the Kiffar rolled the oblong ion grenade around the corner.
A loud pop - and a louder hiss - filled the air, and Terran felt every hair on his body scramble to stand on end. Then a pair of loud clanks sounded as the HK droids manning the E-Webs fell lifelessly to the ground.
“See?” the Kiffar said with a grin, “Money really does solve everything.”
His three teammates gave him unamused stares, but the Kiffar kept the forced grin plastered on his face as he turned the corridor. The hallway dead-ended in a turbolift shaft a hundred meters from the intersection. A dozen doorways dotted either side of the passage. He wondered, briefly, what the over-under was on roughly three hundred Collective troopers pouring out of those doorways.
Odds are for suckers.
Besides, maybe they’d knock off Lucine and save him from a very uncomfortable confrontation once all this was over. He took a few exploratory steps down the hallway, mentally berating himself for the thought. The manipulative shrew might have it in for him - Satsi’s not-so-subtle proddings had confirmed his own simmering suspicions - but she was still useful to the Clan. If she could be brought around, she’d continue to be an invaluable asset.
Terran pushed down the concerns, continuing down the hallway and once again trying to focus on the task at hand. Ever since Issh had been hit by the gas, he’d been distracted. Hell, even before that - ever since the War. Things had been simpler before then. He’d been more composed. Issh’s incapacitation might be a stressor, but he’d been riding a ragged edge for months. He glanced over his shoulder, past his squad and at the empty corridor behind them, then back at the turbolift. He tried his best to ignore the empty maw that yawned open in his gut and kept putting one foot in front of the other.
The quartet reached the end of the hallway, and the turbolift’s door whooshed open at the push of a button. The Kiffar half expected a squad of troopers inside, but the lift was empty. The group crowded in, and Lucine groaned as she eyed the panel. A small security reader - designed to fit a standard security code cylinder - was inset next to the standard destination controls. The three other Arconans looked at her expectantly, but the graceful redhead returned their glances with a withering stare. She motioned to the code cylinder next to her stolen uniform’s rank insignia. “I doubt an ensign from Custodial will have unsupervised access to the bridge.”
The three Arconans spoke in unison, and Terran tried not to dwell on their slicer, Isshwarr, incapacitated and left unguarded. After a moment of thought, the Chiss Quaestor stepped forward. “If someone has a datapad, I can slice it. Probably.”
Terran reached into his duster and pulled out his H-series datapad, passing it over to the doctor. “Do it.”
The quartet stood in silence as Rhylance paired the datapad with the turbolift and pulled up a command prompt, accessing the lift’s inner workings. Satsi’s eyes flickered back and forth from the hallway to the control panel, her head on a constant swivel. Terran glanced over the slicer’s shoulder, trying to match the doctor’s actions with those of his Wookiee companion - and desperately wishing he had paid more attention whenever she had regaled him with tales of her cyber accomplishments. Lucine just looked bored.
A few seconds passed, then a few minutes. Finally, the Chiss unpaired the datapad and handed it back to Terran. He stowed the datapad and gave the Quaestor a questioning look. “Well?”
“Lacking a code cylinder, there is an override we can use to access sensitive areas.”
“Perfect.” The Kiffar nodded appreciatively, then reached over and hit the button to take them to the bridge.
The lift chimed twice, as if waiting for something, and Rhylance cleared his throat. “One-Two-Three-Four-Five.” It chimed once more, and the door closed as the turbolift whirred upward.
“The override code was ‘One-Two-Three-Four-Five’?” Terran deadpanned. “That’s the kind of combination an idiot would have on their luggage.”
The Chiss shrugged in response as the lift slowed down. “Hey, take it up with the Collective’s I.T. department. At least it was not ‘password’.”
Then the lift doors swept open onto a room that was clearly not the bridge.
The Proconsul turned to stare at the Chiss. “What are the odds they planted a false override as a trap?”
The Chiss looked out at the dozen blaster rifles raised towards the infiltration team.
“I suppose it is possible…”
The sounds of shuffling feet drowned out the unwelcome calm from the bridge. After a brief skirmish, the infiltration team from Arcona had been bested and marched to the bridge. Satsi was held at knifepoint by a guard, her left arm covered in blood after being hit by blaster fire. Lucine’s lightsaber had been taken away and she was knocked off her feet, two blaster rifles trained on her kneeling form. Rhylance was on his knees, hands in the air, with his blaster in the possession of the guard standing behind him, his own weapon aimed at the medic’s head. And Terran was held by two guards, his weapons taken from him. Captain Brith Kayle smiled at his captives.
His legion of twenty had caught the team off-guard, and they were stuck within his grasp. The green-scaled Rodian approached Arcona’s Proconsul. He placed a hand on Terran’s shoulders before punching the Kiffar in the gut. Chuckling as he walked away, Brith crossed his arms behind his back and faced Terran, stopping in the center of the bridge.
“I understand how you must be feeling right now. Angry…angry that you lost, and knowing that you came so close to achieving your objective. Regret that you made it onto my bridge and almost killed me but were unable to help your fleet finish their goals. Sadness that you won’t hold those who are dear to you ever again. And fear that today is the day you will all die at the hands of the Collective.” Brith spoke with an even tone, his voice fluctuating throughout his speech. The words rolled off his alien tongue with a refreshing and infuriating finesse. “You probably believe that you should try to fight back. You might even believe this to be a wise course of action. You are mistaken. I will not hesitate to have each and every one of you killed, but more importantly, I will not hesitate to have the entirety of the Collective turned against your Clan in a singular assault. One none of your friends or family would survive.”
Satsi gnashed her teeth together at the thought of her family being threatened. As she struggled against her captors, the dagger was pressed against her throat. The sharp edge drew a line of crimson blood across her neck.
“Satsi, that’s enough!” Terran shouted at his comrade. Now wasn’t the time for foolishness.
Lucine stayed on her knees, a position she particularly detested. The guard looking down on her had a smug and despicable look in his eyes. The redhead scanned her surroundings, and she witnessed her friend doing something similar. The Chiss’s calculating eyes darted all around as if searching for something. His blaster remained out of reach.
“I am going to have you all killed, there is no question there. But first, I want some information from you.” Brith looked Terran in the eyes as he spoke. “You are the Proconsul of one of the Brotherhood’s Clans. That means you must have detailed knowledge of their plans. You will relay that information to me.”
“Sure, sounds great! I’ll tell you whatever you want to know.” Terran lowered his voice dramatically, and the Captain took a short step forward. “It’s the desserts. There’s no better motivator.”
Terran tried to keep a straight face as the apoplectic Rodian’s eyes bulged with rage, but he couldn’t stop an insolent smirk from blossoming on his lips. The Kiffar would never betray his Clan, and the thought that this Captain would consider the possibility was laughable at best.
“You believe that your glib stoicism, your willingness to die, is a strength. That your dedication to Arcona will keep them safe.” As Brith spoke, Rhylance continued to map out the bridge with his gaze. He saw Satsi’s ferocious snarl as the knife remained at her throat. He saw Lucine glancing at him, to which he gave a grin. The Chiss was next to a ramp that led to a lowered section of the bridge and the panels around the room had reflective qualities to them. His calculations were complete and now he waited for the right moment to act. Catching Lucine’s eye again he subtly motioned to his blaster and she gave a slight nod. Reaching through the Force she edged the weapon loose of the guard’s holster until it was nearly falling out. “The narcissism of the Dark Brotherhood runs deep in all of you. If you won’t freely give me the information I seek, then I shall force it out of you.”
Motioning to the guard holding Satsi, the Rodian smiled. The woman was led at daggerpoint to her misery. Giving Terran a hard glare, Satsi knew he understood. Nothing they did to her mattered. The Clan’s location staying hidden was more important than her safety and health.
“Bind her hands. I don’t want any accidents, now do I?”
The guard lowered his dagger as he prepared to gather a pair of bindings. As soon as he moved the blade, Satsi pushed backwards to knock him down, only to have a boot connect with her face. The sickening crunch of her broken nose echoed throughout the bridge.
“One more of those, and I’ll make sure your sweet little daughter dies slowly and painfully.” The woman’s eyes widened at Brith’s threat. “Yes, I know about her. My information on your Clan is impressive to say the least. So, I suggest you play nice.”
Satsi stilled as the dagger returned to her neck and the guard knelt behind her. Rhylance watched this all happen and knew his chance was close.
“You all continue this pointless charade. You act as if the Brotherhood has any chance for survival. The time of your darkness has come to a close. Force-users are a scourge on this galaxy, and the Collective will end them. We are not going anywhere, and we shall be victorious! The Collective will rei…”
Two blaster bolts went off. The first burst forth from Rhylance’s weapon that he lurched for, snatched up, and pointed at the ceiling. It bounced off the surface and ricocheted down into the guard’s head behind him. The Chiss dropped his aim and fired, the second bolt burrowing into the Rodian Captain’s forehead. Brith dropped to the floor, dead.
The bridge was silent and still for a moment before blasterfire was released in Rhylance’s direction. Before he could be killed, he rolled off the nearby edge and hid behind the wall. The distraction was just what his team needed.
Satsi slammed her head backwards, her skull breaking her guard’s nose and causing his grip on her to falter. The women’s face was covered in blood from her own broken nose. She turned herself around and grabbed the arm holding the dagger. With a sickening crack, she snapped his arm in an unnatural bend, burying his own blade into his neck. Seeing Lucine about to be killed by her own guard, Satsi grabbed the knife, pulled it from the corpse and threw it. The blade sunk into the guard’s chest and he dropped to the ground.
Terran used the distraction to pull Lucine’s lightsaber into his hand, activating it and cutting down the two guards that were on him. Shouting to the redhead, he tossed her the disengaged hilt, and she reactivated it before batting a blaster bolt back at the guard who fired it. Terran used the Force to pull his own WESTARs from the now dead corpses and began laying fire into the surprised guards.
The bridge was filled with stench of superheated plasma and charred ozone. With their edge of surprise, the Arconan team suppressed their enemies, leaving none alive, and were left standing together in the center of the bridge. Satsi hobbled over to the dead Captain, in pain from her recent injuries.
“Never threaten my Sammy, you stupid fracker.” The woman stomped on the dead Rodian’s head, cracking his skull beneath her foot. She turned back to the others and Rhylance approached her, ready to begin initial first aid.
“I swear if you do anything “extra” to me, I’ll RIP your karkin throat out.”
“I would not dream of it, Tameike,” the Chiss replied with slight annoyance in his voice.
“Apologies, darlings, but we should really get this done and over with.” Lucine broke the tension in the air.
“Lucine, try to find a tech or someone to hack into the computers with that spike kit we brought. There’s bound to be someone around on this level.” Terran turned and took a step back towards the turbolift. “I’m going to get Isshwarr. She should be awake here soon. We’ll meet at the transport. Get it done fast. Rhylance, keep Satsi in functioning shape. You three need to travel back together. Let’s get the hell off this ship.”
Terran pulled out his communicator. “Kordath, mission success. We’re getting the files we need, the commander is dead, and the bridge has been disabled. Let the rest of the fleets be advised, on our word, to blow this hunk of junk to pieces.”
Terran shook his head as he stashed the commlink back in his coat. And we’ll need to have a chat about Qel-Droma’s Summit before too much longer.
This Phase lasts from October 29th until November the 11th (two (2) weeks)
Request from the organizers: Please add a note to the top of the next post which path your team will choose in this Phase. Thank you.
Your team left the dreadnought Akan with information that, together with the data analysed by Clans and the Inquisitorius, has lead your to the Meridian Prime space station, a fortress, correctional facility and space dock floating in interstellar space just off the Wild Space boundary. Already under attack by Clan and Dark Council forces, dogfights light up the blackness around the behemoth, and intel suggests the shields and defenses have not yet been weakened enough for a full-scale naval assault. The station is on full alert and firefights have already started as skirmishes between Collective troops and Brotherhood assault teams pepper its three massive hangar bays.
The station houses civilian and enemy personnel, including a correctional facility that holds hundreds of Brotherhood prisoners of war, both Non-Force users and Force users alike. The prison has an isolated security system, its own power generator and life-support. Intel suggests that the prison is managed by a powerful AI (artificial intelligence) controlling the Dioxis security system, many defense blaster turrets, ray shields and a large complement of Imperial Sentry Droids acting as guards, controlled by the prison warden. The interior of the prison itself is pumped with a thin mist of Dioxis gas, preventing escape and anarchy.
You have been dropped off on the lower decks via boarding pod.
Breath masks are provided for this mission, should your team require them. Any Possessions item that prevents inhaling of poisonous gas will be effective as well.
Your team has been tasked to complete one of the following objectives in limited time (you may complete only one (1) objective):
Revenge path: Reach the correctional facility and eliminate prison warden Rutgar-4. Caution is advised as there are Imperial Sentry Droids defending him.
Sabotage path: Reach the prison’s AI core to recycle the life support and free the prisoners. Prepare for a riot as many prisoners are powerful Force Users and Non-Force Users.
Pacifist path: Reach the prison’s AI core and disable the security systems to allow incoming Brotherhood troops to secure the facility.
The phase must end with the prison facility secured, one way or another. In all but the Revenge path, the prison warden’s fate is up to you.
Relevant character sheets:
A large weight hit the ground like an avalanche of rock, making the plating beneath shudder. Merciless metal arms leveraged to hold the Wookiee’s writhing mass down, some snapping with a shower of sparks. Others, however, quickly replaced them.
“Frakking tin cans!” yowled a smaller but no less strong Human from behind a breath mask, kicking and screeching as more of the contingent of robots surrounded her. She punched out at one and swore as her knuckles split on a sleek metal chassis. Her Wookiee companion managed to surge to her feet, lift one entire assassin bot in each clawed hand, and throw both into the ranks closing around the Human. Satsi dodged past pincers and blaster muzzles and dove for the opening, but was promptly jabbed with an electrostaff.
The Human screamed and buckled, convulsing as another two prods joined the first, turning her into a frothing but subdued meatbag on the floor. Isshwarr roared in anger and charged, but she too was felled by a mass barrage of stun bolts, crumpling under her own weight.
In short order the droids, directed by their commanding unit, gathered the two intruders and secured them, carting them off swiftly towards the prison to assign them a holding cell. Just as rapidly as the skirmish had begun, it was over, and all the units resumed their preprogrammed tasks of patrolling their particular twenty-square meter section of the station’s lower level, metal feet marching along in perfect machine time.
Around a nearby corner, three sets of eyes watched, and, seeing their first objective successfully completed, withdrew.
Terran, Lucine, and Rhylance all had their own part to play.
“This is not my fault. I just figured you’d have a translator like Kelviin and anyone else who can’t speak Basic would. It’s the Galactic frakkin’ language, furry mama, do you expect Koul to be there to narrate for you all the time? Learn to talk like everyone else does.”
“Yeah, yeah, vocal cords can’t make noises, whatever. That sounds like a you problem.”
Isshwarr growled at her again and this time Satsi was positive that whatever she was saying was some sort of admonishment. There was somehow heavy lecturing in the rumble, as if the Wookiee was explaining that she wasn’t mad, just very disappointed.
“I’m just going to pretend you’re telling me to fix this kark like everybody else does. So.” The Human looked around again, straining in her stuncuffs to crane her neck past her companion’s bulk. The ray shield covering their cell hummed on merrily because frak their lives, and the poison gas just beyond it sizzled against its surface in a continuous, menacing song. A droid marched by. In another part of her mind, she started counting how long it would be until another passed. They had none of their weapons or equipment, since it had all been confiscated, even their armor and clothing. Droids were nothing if not practical and thorough.
“I hate to say it, but we might be well and truly kriffed here.”
“Rrrrowwwwgrow woorah waaarh gro. Grrwwwaah ahgrw rrrrrgr.”
“I know, I know, we’re going to be so late for afternoon tea with the magical rainbow Ewoks. But if we really try, maybe we can break out in time for the orgy.”
Isshwarr gave her the flattest, blackest stare she’d ever seen. The scarred woman sighed, shifting to adjust her shoulders. They ached from the strain of her arms being bound above her head. At least they hadn’t seen fit to secure her ankles, unlike poor Issh, who was practically nailed down to the wall from head to toe.
“Right, okay, sorry. We can’t exactly play charades here, though. How are you going to walk me through this hacking sithspit?”
Solemn tawny eyes flicked up to their bindings, then back down.
“Right. One step at a time, huh? Adapt the plan.”
The furred matron’s expression changed to one of kindness, and Satsi was suddenly incredibly uncomfortable, swallowing with difficulty to keep from vomiting. She shuffled, then inhaled and bunched her abdominal muscles, ignoring the sting in her rubbed-raw wrists as she flexed and started swinging her legs. In a smooth motion she leveraged herself upright, feet pointed towards the ceiling while her spine bowed, and gripped at her own cuffs with the world inverted around her. She planted her feet against the wall and started to strain, pulling.
Isshwarr’s urgent, encouraging grumble helped, but she’d never admit it.
First, get free of the cuffs. Then get Issh down. Then…the job? But with Issh’s datapad confiscated, even being in the prison probably wasn’t close enough to the main AI core to slice in and distract it like they’d planned when they’d agreed to get captured. They’d probably have to do it manually or some kark. Which meant going outside. So, getting out the plasma-covered cell door. And out into the frakking poison air. And then to the hub which was here somewhere, past all the guards. Somehow. And then hope the others actually rescued them — or, at least, Terran would rescue Isshwarr, as Satsi was counting on — before the droids murdered them.
Isshwarr growled again, sweet and soft. It felt like a hug. Satsi grit her teeth and pulled until blood vessels burst behind her closed eyelids and her shoulder tendons tore, slow, peeling snaps.
A chink, and the links broke, metal crying out like she did as she hit the floor, free. Satsi laid there for just a moment, hissing in a breath of pain, before she peered through tears at Issh and found herself rewarded with a gentle, fanged smile.
One step at a time.
“Well?” Terran said as they raced through the labyrinthine back hallways of the Meridian Prime space station. Though his voice was muffled by the breath mask, the terseness in his voice was unmistakable.
“It appears the security droids were successful in capturing Tameike and Isshwarr,” Rhylance said.
“And their status?” the Kiffar demanded.
The trio paused near an intersection as Lucine consulted the schematics. As they waited, Rhylance listened to the comm device that had been stolen from an unfortunate Collective agent. “They are both alive and have been placed in a cell. The teams that were called away due to their distraction will be returning to their patrol routes presently.”
“Then we’ll have to make this quick,” Terran replied. “How far are we from the central hub?”
Lucine scanned the datapad interface as she absently toyed with her hair. There was little doubt that her breath mask was wreaking havoc on her perfect curls. Still, a slightly disheveled style was more preferable than dying. “We are nearly there. If we make a right hand turn in approximately 40 meters we should be in front of the core entrance.”
“Fine. Let’s go,” Terran said. He was on the move before either could reply. Rhylance and Lucine exchanged a quick glance, before hurrying to catch up with the Proconsul.
Lucine could not help but to wonder at Terran’s terse demeanor. He had been behaving like this since the mission aboard the Akan. It was entirely possible that he was simply concerned about Isshwarr, but something told her that it was more than that. She could not help but to notice that the Proconsul seemed particularly tense whenever she was nearby. It was becoming apparent that plans to gain Terran’s trust in order to further her bureaucratic ambitions were failing miserably.
The turn that she had indicated was quickly approaching. A quick glance at her datapad revealed two red dots moving along the passage perpendicular to them. Sentry droids, no doubt. She reached forward and grabbed Terran’s shoulder. “It appears the door is guarded, darling.”
Terran and the rest of the group halted at Lucine’s warning. He thought about his options concerning the next move. He could use his Ion grenade, but when it was only two droids it seemed a waste. A diversion to pull the droids into a trap was a decent idea, and with his two partners, he felt the strategy was the best for the situation.
“Alright, you two, we need to lure these sentries out into the open. I’m thinking a pincer attack. I’ll run past the turn to draw them out, and we all open fire and put these droids out of commision.”
The Proconsul spoke with full authority. He didn’t trust the two Qel-Droma Summiters, and he wanted to test their ability to follow his command. Receiving confirmation from both Rhylance and Lucine, Terran pulled out his WESTAR blasters and ran forward. As he passed the corner opening up to the doorway they needed to get by, Terran opened fire on the two sentry droids. He continued running, a few of his blasts impacting their armor. Once he was clear of the next corner, Terran whipped around, waiting for the droids to take the bait, and take the bait they did. The two sentry droids walked forward to eliminate the new threat, and as soon as they were within visible range, Rhylance opened fire with his silenced Peacekeeper, and Lucine rushed forwards with her newly activated lightsaber. The three Arconans made quick work of the droids before moving on to the door.
“It would seem these doors require a code to access entry, Terran,” Rhylance observed as he checked the nearby computer panel.
“Perhaps you could make up for your last error then, ey, Rhylance?” his superior responded with a small amount of irritated annoyance.
The doctor began to attempt his slicing while Lucine’s eyes were glued to her screen. She was keeping an eye out for potential security reinforcements. A series of small red blips began approaching their location, and the redhead grew concerned.
“Darling, you may want to hurry that up. It would seem we have company approaching.”
“I will do what I can. I believe that I am almost in,” the Chiss responded as he worked on hacking into the terminal to open the door.
“Just hurry up and get us in.” Terran readied himself for a fight, if it came down to it.
Isshwarr looked from the dark barrel of the droid’s built-in blaster to the unconscious woman beside her, and back again. And for about the thousandth time since she’d woken up in the interrogation room, she cursed the stupid plan the others had cooked up. Get yourselves captured. It’ll be easy. Then you can escape and let the rest of us in. The Wookiee growled low in the back of her throat. It was a sound echoed by the woman beside her, as Satsi slowly began to waken.
“Sithspit! Talk about a hangover! What the kark did they hit us with?”
“A low dose of toxic gas, if I’m not mistaken. It seems to have rendered us unconscious just long enough for them to transport us here.” Isshwarr’s words, of course, came out as a series of grunts and growls.
Satsi looked at her appraisingly for a moment then shrugged. “Don’t ask me. I’m asking you, furball. I was asleep.”
Make that a thousand and one. Isshwarr chuffed softly, the Wookiee equivalent of a sigh, and eyed first the human, then the guard. She shrugged her shoulders - unmanacled, now that they had been moved to interrogation and were guarded by a pair of Imperial Sentry Droids - and half raised her hands towards their captors. “I don’t think we have much time before the interrogator arrives. Think we can take them out?”
The human cocked an irritated eyebrow at the unintelligible growl. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t think we have much time. Think we can take them?”
A thousand and two. In lieu of answering, Isshwarr roared at the top of her lungs. The Imperial Sentry Droid nearest her took a step back in surprise, steadying its aim. Before it could open fire, the Wookiee grabbed the durasteel table that was bolted to the station’s decking. With a single prodigious heave, she ripped it free and hurled it at the pair of droids. The two sentries reacted quickly, keeping their feet and retraining their blasters in the briefest of moments. But moments were all the pair of women needed.
Isshwarr moved without hesitation, leaping over the table and ducking under the sentry droid’s arm. She came up behind the droid and wrapped her huge, furry paws around its metallic dome. With a grunt of effort, the droid’s head came clean off. She spared a glance to her right and saw that Tameike had tackled the other sentry. She had somehow wound up behind it, the droid pinned atop her and facing the ceiling. She held it in place by brute strength alone, but that wouldn’t last for long. Isshwarr’s own sentry droid, blind but still trying to carry out its contingency orders, attempted to wrest itself free from the Wookiee’s grasp. Its blaster fired indiscriminately, as if hoping a ricochet would do for the prisoners. With a loud growl, Isshwarr grasped the droid’s arm and forced it downwards. A trio of bolts blasted into the chest of the droid’s downed compatriot, silencing the struggling sentry. Then Isshwarr disarmed her own droid.
Satsi looked up at Isshwarr, a grin spreading across her scarred features as the now-armless droid fell motionless to the deck. “So that’s why you let Wookiees win at Dejarik.”
Isshwarr growled mirthfully, then turned to the interrogation room’s door panel. As Satsi shoved the sentry droid off of her and clambered to her feet, the Wookiee knelt by the panel, ripped it free, and began to pull out wire after wire.
After a few seconds, Satsi sighed and sat down on the edge of the overturned table. “Let me guess: this might take a minute?”
Isshwarr, already up to her wrists in dozens of wires, looked back at the human with a toothy grin. Then she cut two wires with her claws, connected them, and the doors slid open.
“I just need another minute.” Rhylance’s remained hunched over the door terminal, his blue fingers flying over the keys as he tried to subvert the station’s security system.
“That’s what you said,” Terran grunted, firing his twin blasters around the corner and gritting his teeth in frustration, “five minutes ago.”
“I meant it five minutes ago.” The Chiss’s voice was calm on the surface, but there was an uncurrent equal parts frustration and disdain beneath it.
“Darling, whatever needs done, please complete it in a hurry. I am unsure how much longer we can hold them off.” The redhead’s satin tones were strained, but she was collected as always. At least on the surface.
Isshwarr knelt again, this time next to the station’s AI computer core. The pair had been lucky to encounter a group of humanoid Collective troops after breaking free of the interrogation room, and though she would have preferred her bowcaster, the blasters they confiscated had held the women in good stead. After blasting their way through to the AI core, the Wookiee had sliced open the doorway with skill and not a small amount of luck. Now she hunkered down in front of the console and hooked her computer probe into the system. With an excited growl, her furry fingers flew over the console.
“Alright, I have it.” Terran and Lucine looked over at the Qel-Droman Quaestor expectantly. With a bland expression - one Terran was quite sure was forced - the Chiss entered a single keystroke and the security door retracted into the ceiling.
For a half second, gratitude and pride filled the Kiffar’s heart.
“Umm, Darling? What about that?”
Rhylance and Terran both looked, and saw the ray shield that blocked the open doorway.
“Frak me!” With a growl that would have made Isshwarr proud, Terran turned back to the intersection and continued firing down it, keeping the guard droids at bay.
“I can bring down the shielding.” Rhylance’s words were clipped, with the tiniest note of doubt niggling at their edges. He turned back to the console and typed in a quick command.
The trio heard the unmistaken electronic buzz of a ray shield dropping.
Terran turned and raised an eyebrow at Rhylance in disbelief. “You weren’t kidding. Good work, Doctor!”
The Chiss met his expression with confusion plain on his blue face.
A loud roar sounded from within the command center, followed by Satsi’s acerbic tones. “She says dinner’s ready. I think.”
Terran shook his head, hearing Isshwarr chuff loudly from within the chamber, and the three ran into the control room. The blast door whooshed shut behind them.
The Arconans stood around the Wookiee as Ishwaar typed on the A.I. core’s console. Occasionally letting out small grunts, she kept her eyes glued to the terminal screen. With a green flash from the illuminated monitor, Ishwaar growled with glee. She turned to look at a series of live feed video projections.
“Was she successful?” the resident Chiss asked as he impatiently waited.
“Look at the feed darling, the dioxis gas is clearing out.”
“Time to give these frakkers a taste of their own medicine. Hey hairball, set the prisoners free.” Satsi had a ferocious gleam in her eyes. She wanted to watch the Collective burn.
Isshwarr roared in agreement before turning back to the console. After a quick series of code inputs she happily growled. Turning the live feed to the prisoner cells, the Wookiee allowed the group to witness the cell doors opening. Terran grabbed his comm unit.
“Kordath, we’ve successfully neutralized the gas. The lower levels are ours for the taking.”
As the Proconsul sent his message to his superior a loud alarm blared throughout the station. Looking back to the live feed, the group witnessed the escaping prisoners fighting back against the Collective droids and Technocrat soldiers.
“Request extraction. We’ve released the prisoners and they’ve begun rioting against the Collective trash. Mission successful.” Terran gave a glance to the Chiss and the redhead who stood to the side whispering under their breath.
Closing off his comm, Terran turned to Sasti. The two shared a look before facing towards the other two members of the team. They didn’t trust either of them, and soon that distrust would come to a head.
This Phase lasts from November 12th until November the 19th (one (1) week)
Request from the organizers: Please add a note to the top of the next post which path your team will choose in this Phase. Thank you.
The Brotherhood advances. What started as sporadic fighting in the major hangar bays of Meridian has turned into an all-out battle on all decks. Spurred by your team’s success in the prison, your Clan forces have come to support you and issue new orders for your team.
Daggo Mouk, one of the leaders of the Collective and the Guildmaster of the Technocratic Guild, has been confirmed on the station. With him he has a potent Technocratic Artifact that, if whisked away, would threaten the position of the Brotherhood in future engagements.
Daggo’s last known position was in the command center, however we have been having trouble following his movements. Wherever he is on the station, he would not leave the artifact unattended. The return of the artifact to Brotherhood hands is of absolute strategic value.
Your team has been tasked to complete one of the following objectives in limited time (you may complete only one (1) objective):
Revenge path: Confront and eliminate Daggo Mouk. Have no mercy.
Sabotage path: Sabotage the Collective’s future plans by stealing the artifact by any means necessary.
Pacifist path: Capture Daggo Mouk for interrogation and trial.
The phase must end with the artifact retrieved. Daggo’s fate is open-ended and up to you.
Relevant character sheets:
Phase Three: Pacifist Path
It was Rhylance who first noticed the looks that Satsi and Terran were giving them. “Well? Are we done here?”
“Not quite. There’s still something we need to hash out here, first,” Terran replied. “First we’re gonna have a little chat about what the two of you are up to.”
“We were discussing getting dinner after the mission. A new restaurant just opened in Celeste, and I happen to know the chef. I did not want to talk about it in front of you two because…” Lucine’s voice trailed off as she glanced down at Terran’s battered duster and Satsi’s armor.
“It’s a nice place,” Rhylance finished, with his usual level of tact.
Satsi gave a derisive snort. “Come on. You two can do better than that.”
Lucine paused, taking in Terran’s stony expression. She glanced over to Rhylance, who merely shrugged his shoulders. “Well then, I must confess that I have no idea what you are talking about,” she said at last.
“Well then, why don’t we get down to brass tacks? I don’t trust the two of you. I know that you are up to something,” the Proconsul replied coolly.
“Are you seriously suggesting that we were planning to kill you during this mission? That’s absurd!” Rhylance said incredulously.
“Yep. And that’s exactly why I invited Satsi on this mission. I needed someone to watch my back,” Terran added.
“But it’s funny, how that’s your first suggestion, Four-Eyes,” Satsi said dryly.
Lucine sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Well then, how do you explain the fact that you were alone with us, without your Wookiee friend and the shrew, and yet we still did not make an attempt on your life? Either we are the laziest conspirators in the galaxy, or there was no plot against you.”
“I’m guessing you two just couldn’t find the right opportunity,” Terran said.
“And I am guessing that you’ve been listening to the paranoid ramblings of a deluded madwoman,” Rhylance snapped. “Is the middle of a riot the best time to discuss this?”
“Discussing wasn’t really what I had in mind,” Satsi said as she drew her Enforcer Pistol from her belt.
At the not-so-subtle threat, Lucine took a small step forward, placing herself just in front of Rhylance. She crossed her arms in front of her, which placed her hand near where her lightsaber hung on her belt. “Let us calm down and take a breath,” she said soothingly as she drew upon the Force to make her words seem more convincing. “Rhylance and I are not the enemies here.”
Satsi began to move at the calming trick, snarling, but a sharp gesture from Terran reigned her in. A tense silence fell over the group. Through the blast doors, they could hear the screams and violence as the riot continued unabated. That silence was at last broken when Terran’s comm chirped. He kept one hand resting on his holstered Westar, as he used his other hand to flip it open. “Koul here.”
“Yeah, looks like ya’re not quite done,” Kordath’s voice was clearly audible to all. “We just got new intel. Seems Daggo Mouk is currently aboard the Meridian, with some sorta fancy artifact. We need you to retrieve both the artifact and Mouk for interrogation.”
“Got it. Send me any intel you’ve got,” Terran replied, before turning his attention back to the redhead and the Chiss. Pushing their way through the riot would be significantly more difficult if they lost half of their team. Finally, he sighed. “You two aren’t the enemy. Not right now, anyway. But you’d better believe we’re gonna be finishing this little confab when we get back to Selen.”
“Something to look forward to,” Rhylance replied dryly.
Having found their way to an elevator, the Arconan group rode it up to the upper levels of the Meridian Space Station. Security was busy below dealing with the rioting escaped prisoners, so moving through the corridors of the level was easier than originally expected. A tense air remained between the group from the previous conversation. Rhylance remained close by Lucine’s side, and Terran was flanked by Isshwarr and Satsi.
The group followed the aforementioned intel delivered by Kordath Bleu to the trading sector of the base. Stalls had been constructed for the multitude of merchants and high-end patrons flooded the outlets, previously scanning and haggling for their wanted merchandise but now panicking. Lucine’s eyes were drawn to a series of beautiful garments that reminded her of Coruscant.
“Keep your eyes focused, my pet, we have work to do," the Chiss whispered into her ear.
Terran and Satsi kept a vigilant eye on their surroundings. Their target was the Collective Technocrat leader Daggo Mouk, and his last known location had been the base’s command center. After the riots, his position had been lost, and the group had decided he’d have gone into hiding; and what better place to hide than in the crowded sales floor looking to make a quick escape on a merchant’s ship.
“I don’t see the frakker anywhere.”
“Being out in the open wouldn’t really be hiding, now would it, darling?” Lucine responded with a sarcastic inflection.
“Just keep your eyes peeled. Once we find him, we can get the hell out of here and go home. I’m tired of these missions.” Terran was finding it more and more unbearable to deal with the two women’s dysfunctional attitude towards each other. He wanted to get this over with, and time was of the essence. Out of the corner of the Kiffar’s eye, he spotted an Ithorian with cybernetics attached to it.
“There! Daggo located. Let’s bring him in.”
The Arconans shared quick glances, a flash of hand signals, and moved. There wasn’t time to do otherwise, trust or no trust.
Rhylance drew his pistol and aimed it for the sky, firing off a salvo of plasma. Already scrambling bystanders screamed to see the fighting having reached them, scattering and trampling each other. Satsi surged forward in the gap that had been created, roaring towards the Technocrat like a bullet from a gun. Terran pointed twin pistols to cover her and Lucine drew her saber as Isshwarr bellowed and grappled with an arriving security droid.
As Satsi drew close to Daggo, prepared to tackle him, her deadly knife drawn, the Ithorian inhaled.
Then, he opened his mouth and screamed.
All the glass in the area except for the reinforced station windows shattered. People went flying back, many clapping hands over their ears and crying out in pain. The Arconans flinched.
Satsi went flying. She sailed across the street, pummeled through the encircled crowd, and slammed into durasteel. The back of her head snapped against the wall, a crack that sang through her skull and spilled hot down the slope of her nape.
She lay still for a moment as the party reeled, hands over their ears, and the remaining crowd limped or stumbled away, bodies lying splayed on the floor. Daggo’s long, double-mouthed face was a rictus of fury, his stretched, pallid skin sickly green and blotchy red. He approached quickly with the assistance of his massive cybernetic harness, despite the comparatively slow movements of his remaining organic limbs.
“My research,” he seethed. “My work, you’ll not take it.”
One of the many cyber limbs lifted a massive grenade launcher, others juggling a sealed case of some kind, clutched close to his body. He pointed the weapon at Satsi, and the weapon whined.
*“Stop!” shouted a voice, a silken glove over an iron fist of command. Lucine held out her hand, using it to focus her will as she stared down Daggo Mouk with merciless, empty emerald eyes. The Dark didn’t just lace her words; her words were the Dark. Her command dug into Daggo’s mind like metal claws clamping on grey matter clumps and tearing. The Technocrat caterwauled, a tortured sound of a sentient having its freedom ripped away. He froze completely, unmoving, waiting for another command. “Drop your weapons, get away from her. Nothing else. Then stop again and do not move.”
Obediently, Daggo did so, twitching his fingers in the controls of his harness. The grenade launcher fell, as did a blaster pistol. Then he took knucklers off his fingers and discarded them too before retreating from Satsi’s form. Rhylance rushed to her side.
The redhead’s smirk was cold malice manifested. Sweat appeared on her brow and dampened her curls as she concentrated on holding Daggo hostage, and dark veins pulsed under her eyes, but she had never looked so magnificent. There was a air about her, all confidence and power.
“That’s enough, Lucine,” Terran said, cutting back in to take handle of the situation with the crisis over. He looked to Daggo. “And you. You twitch, and I snap your neck with a thought.”
Isshwarr rumbled behind him, perhaps groaning at his menacing, but the Kiffar just gave the smallest, meanest smirk and stared the alien down.
“You cannot do such a thing,” Daggo gurgled, trying to recover himself as Lucine wavered on her feet before steadying, breaking her hold. He seemed deeply, deeply shaken, however, his mind like a tower cracked. “I would have heard of it in my research.”
“Oh, I probably could. I’ve done worse to people. Broken their bones without even touching them. But no, I’m not going to do that to you. I’m just going to have them do something for me.”
At the words, Isshwarr strode up behind the Ithorian and, gripping one cybernetic limb in each clawed hand, heaved, ripping them off with a metallic scream. At the same time, Rhylance approached from the other side and slide a scalpel along Daggo’s long, bent neck, freeing a debilitating poison into his bloodstream.
The Wookiee female vigilantly watched as the Ithorian slumped over, then yanked off his other cybernetic fastenings that weighed him down and threw him over her shoulders with a mighty roar of effort. No doubt no one else would have been able to physically get the nearly three hundred pound alien off the station.
Meanwhile, Terran directed Rhylance back to Satsi and commed Kordath, informing the Consul of their hostage and position for a rendezvous. It would be much faster escaping the incoming explosions if a shuttle would come to them instead of them heading for the lower decks. As the Chiss scientist helped Satsi stand, weighed down by armor and injury, the scarred woman looked up and glared at Lucine.
The two stared for a moment before the tired redhead raised a brow.
“Yes, darling? Something to say?”
“Thank you,” the other Human replied begrudgingly, spitting the word at the same time she spat a tooth. Her eyes flicked over to Terran, who met them, then back to Rhylance and Lucine both.
No one said anything else as they gathered themselves and prepared to leave. The team had made it all the way to the civilian trading docks and the Arconan-marked ship that had arrived there. Once they boarded, Isshwarr finished binding Daggo as the shuttle departed. Finally, the Wookiee made a questioning growl. Up in the cockpit, Terran twisted about and yelled, "What?!"
“What?” Lucine asked, echoed by the other team members. Terran’s hand slammed down on the console next to the copilot.
“She says the artifact is gone,” snapped the Kiffar.
“WHAT?!” three more voices cried again, while the Proconsul rubbed his temples. Behind them, in the silence of space, Meridian Station exploded. Their only clue was the shockwave that sent their ship shuddering and tumbling for a few moments.
“She says it’s gone. Karking HELL! I know he had it when we confronted him, didn’t any of you grab it?”
“Perhaps he dropped it along with his weapons?”
“Nonsense, my dear. I specifically commanded he only drop his weapons for that purpose.”
“You frak-ups,” Satsi hissed from where she slumped with a head smeared in bacta gel, neck braced. “We didn’t just drop the frakking thing on the way, did we?”
“It doesn’t matter now how it happened. If it’s not here, it’s gone with Meridian,” growled Koul. “We’ll just have to make sure he tells us everything he learned from it. It’s the best we’ve got now.”
They all looked to the unconscious Ithorian, who had, very suddenly, become completely priceless.
“We can’t let him know we lost it, or he’ll be insufferable as a captive, knowing his own value.”
“We can’t let anyone know kark. This doesn’t get out. Uh, right?” Satsi caught herself, looking to Terran.
The Proconsul grimaced.
“Only Kordath and you four…five,” he amended for the other pilot. “will know. And if anyone else finds out, then I guess we’ll know who not to trust once and for all, now won’t we?”
“I suppose we will.”