[SASsy] RGB

(Grot) #1

Run-on for the [SASsy Event] Asset recovery and presentation competition

Guidelines:

  • Teams should consist of three to five members (Clans or rogues). You are encouraged to form groups outside of your units. Look for diversity in skills to help you accomplish your mission!

  • Each team must create one thread on Discourse under the Run-On category, and all posts must be published to the thread to count.

  • Threads should include [SASsy] to properly tag it.

  • No member can post twice in a row, or the Run-On will be disqualified.

  • Each post must be a minimum of 250 words with no maximum length.

  • Each member must post at least twice to qualify for placement.

  • Grading will be handled using the run-on grading rubric.

Team

(Grot) #2

Sunset on the savannah was truly spectacular.

Endless plains of grass stretched far to the horizon, disappearing off into the distance and melding with the sky. Gentle hills and the occasional, momentous tree were the only interruption in the unending, golden ocean. A nearly-dry river-bed wound lazily nearby and trailed off to the south, the trickle of water sparkling in the dim light. As the sun dipped towards the horizon, a gentle haze of yellow began to spread across the heavens, illuminating the thin, wispy clouds like golden fleece woven across the firmament. Rhylance stopped for a moment to catch his breath, admiring the sight with barely concealed wonder.

“Keep it moving!” Grot sidled up with a rough growl, the armored Trandoshan knocking the blue-skinned Chiss out of his reverie. Jahumba, his varactyl beast-of-burden, thudded up beside him with their equipment and camping gear clanking on the reptavian’s back as he marched ahead. “We need to be across this riverbed by nightfall!”

The Chiss scowled at Grot’s rudeness, glaring daggers at the back of his head. Unable to keep silent, he shot back in an annoyed tone, “why not simply camp here for the night? Close to water, the ground is flat — seems like an acceptable site”

“I would… certainly appreciate a rest, darling,” Lucine gasped, the redhead bringing up the rear. She brushed a stray strand of hair away from her forehead, her entire face sticky with sweat. Her legs felt like jelly, wobbling as she tried to catch her breath, and the full extent of her exhaustion began to wear on her. “We have been at this pace all day.”

“Seven hours,” Grot corrected her with a terse hiss, causing her to wrinke her brow in annoyance.

They’d landed at a local Amani village yesterday, hiding the Providence under a camo net and set out to make the rest of the trek on foot. Approaching the temple directly might have drawn far too much attention. Grot was determined to make the journey across the plains as quickly as possible, and he wasn’t about to let these softskins endanger the mission. “Rest is impossible,” Grot continued. “Too much of a risk.”

“I am in agreement with Lucine,” Rhylance said, feeling a bit of fatigue himself. Lucine gave him a small smile as reward for his support, and strolled her way unsteadily up to Grot.

“This is a scientific expedition, not a military one, darling. You cannot expect to drive us like Iron Legion. This campsite is as good as any other."

“We are too exposed!" Grot spat. "A collective patrol might spot us from the air, or the river might attract other predators.” Grot gave a cautious look to the tall grass pressing in on them from all sides. He felt his scales itch just thinking about it. The tall grass clouding his view, the soft earth silencing any approach. He hadn’t felt this exposed since he was a hatchling.

The natives hadn’t done much to disabuse him of this natural paranoia. While the Collective were far from their minds, they feared more than men in the grass. In low, sibilant tones the gangly, reptilian tribesman had whispered of the shrieking death, the stalker in the grass, the mastiff phalones. Nearly two meters long and taller than a grown man, it was nonetheless almost silent in the grass. Its padded feet concealed six-inch claws, and its serrated beak was superbly designed to rip flesh from bone. They hunted in packs, and their high-pitched shrieks could carry for miles across the plain, heralding death to all who heard them. A predator without peer, said to visit divine justice on the wicked and disrespectful.

Rhylance would not be swayed by Grot’s arguments. “We will camp here for the night. There is a risk of ambush no matter where we camp, and better that we not exhaust ourselves if anything goes wrong. In any case, Madame Clery seemed quite certain the Collective forces were all dead, and we have yet to see even a single one of these ‘mastiffs’ the Amani seemed so terrified of”

“That is exactly what bothers me.” Grot said with a hissing growl, but saw that he was outnumbered. With a sigh he gave Jahumba’s reins over to Rhylance and let him lead the beast over to the campsite. He gave one last look towards the grass as they marched forward, feeling a hole sink into the pit of his stomach.

(Lucine Vasano) #3

Despite Grot’s protests, he was outvoted. They made camp as the sun sank closer to the horizon, painting the sky a brilliant blood red as it went. Grot grumbled to himself about foolish softskins, but Rhylance and Lucine did not deign to reply. As such, conversation was minimal as they raised temporary shelters and broke into the provisions for a light evening meal.

The scarlet sky gave way to a vivid purple that steadily deepened into a dark blue. Little by little, the stars became visible, creating a sparkling tapestry overhead. The occasional crackle of their small campfire and the steady drone of the nighttime insects created a relaxing, almost peaceful milieu, which was only broken by Jahumba. The varactyl had settled just outside the light of the campfire and was loudly chewing on some nearby grass.

It was an idyllic scene despite the occasional crunching noises of Jahumba enjoying his repast, but the Arconans were having a difficult time relaxing. Rhylance and Lucine had settled on one side of the fire, talking in hushed tones. Grot set across from them, alternating between maintaining surveillance and checking his weapons.

“Grot, darling, do you plan on glowering all night?” Lucine asked, trying to keep her irritation at bay.

“Only until I am sure we are not going to be attacked,” Grot growled as he meticulously checked his blaster for the third time.

“That sounds like a yes,” the redhead said with a sigh. “Really, darling, you are being so tiresome right now.

The Trandoshan narrowed his eyes and opened his mouth to reply. But he paused before speaking, and instead tilted his head to listen. Nearby, Jahumba gave a low growl. Rhylance drew his blaster pistol from its holster as he realized what it was that had caught Grot’s attention: the insects had fallen silent. He peered into the shadows their surrounded their camp, searching the gently waving grass for any signs of the predators that stalked them.

A blur of motion in his peripheral vision caught his eye, and he turned to see something large bound out of the grass and launch itself at Jahumba. The varactyl darted out of the way with a loud hooting noise, barely avoiding the claws of the mastiff phalones. Grot muttered a curse and whipped his slugthrowers around to fire a volley of slugs at the creature that was attacking his mount. The plasma encased bullets buried themselves deep into the predator’s thick hide, causing it to give a whine as it retreated back into the shadows.

“Well done, Grot,” Rhylance said as he continued to scan the surrounding grasses for any additional threats.

“It is not over,” the Trandoshan replied in a low growl. “They hunt in packs.”

As if to punctuate his words, a high pitched shriek split the air as a second mastiff burst forth from the grass, barrelling toward Lucine. Her lightsaber flared to life as she jumped out of the way of the predator, the plasma blade shearing through its front leg as it tried to swipe at her.

Two more bolted toward Grot and Jahumba, lashing at them with their wickedly sharp claws. Seeing that Lucine had her own mastiff under control, Rhylance leveled his blaster pistol on the one nearest to Grot and began to fire. “They have us surrounded! Back up toward the fire so they cannot separate us!”

(Rhylance) #4

Continuing to fire at the attacking mastiffs, Rhylance kept his eyes on his comrades. They weren’t able to meet his commands, pinned where they stood by the creatures. He stepped backward, towards the fire and kept his blaster level with the mastiffs, firing a few more shots which the beasts ignored. He heard the shriek of one creature as Lucine pulled her emerald lightsaber from its carcass, and Grot had an animal of his own. The Chiss was not in his element, and he knew it.

A low growl alerted him to a new presence, and as he turned to the right, another mastiff leapt from the shadows and knocked him to the ground. Having dropped his blaster in the commotion, the Doctor pulled his Sith Dagger from his coat. Circling back, the mastiff ran at the downed body, and Rhylance timed his strike. As soon as the beast was within biting distance of him, he thrust the dagger into its right eye, piercing its brain. The velocity of its running left it collapsing on top of the Chiss.

“Get this confounded beast off of me!”

Grot and Lucine were busy with their own beasts, the two working together to keep the rest of the pack at bay. Jahumba fought to protect its master, even as two mastiffs leaped onto his back, and tore at its scaly, feathered flesh. The Trandoshan aimed his slugthrowers at the animals attacking his companion and, with the deadliest of aim, killed both with direct shots to the head.

As Lucine bested another mastiff, severing its leg before plunging her lightsaber into its gullet, another attacked her from behind. While the Force pulled at her mind, warning her of the incoming danger, she couldn’t move fast enough. The mastiff missed it kill shot, but its claw tore into the redhead’s leg. She couldn’t help but shout out in pain, causing Grot to come to her aide, killing the final mastiff.

“You should have listened to me,” the Trandoshan said with an annoyed growl. He helped Lucine to her feet before going to check on his Varactyl. While the reptilian creature was injured, its wounds were not life-threatening. “No one listens to the Trandoshan. You will all end up dead. Next time I will kill you myself.”

Rhylance continued to be pinned to the ground by the mastiff he killed. He pulled the dagger from the creatures eye and called out for assistance. Grot found the Chiss’s predicament amusing, but knowing they had a job to do, he helped pick his Proconsul to his feet.

“Go attend to the woman. She could use your medical assistance Doctor.”

Approaching Lucine, the Chiss knelt to the ground and examined her bleeding leg. It wasn’t a lethal wound, but the mastiff’s claws could have been contaminated and the dirt embedded in its claws could have disastrous effects on an open wound. He pulled out his medical supplies and began to stitch up her leg.

“Not to worry, my dear,” he spoke softly with his subordinate. He could see the discomfort and fear in her eyes. “You will not scar. My skills are impressive enough to keep your skin smooth.”

As Rhylance continued his treatment of her leg, Grot stood guard, stewing in disdain for the weak decision making of these two “intellectuals”. His Varactyl was injured, and it needn’t have happened if they had just listened to him. His thoughts drifted to the next day, and the trek they needed to make. Soon, they would find themselves within the temple and discover the prize inside. Now they just needed to rest and recuperate. With the hunters deceased, the prey could sleep easily. Eventually, sleep took all three into its gentle embrace. The trials of the next day would be many.

(Lucine Vasano) #5

The night passed uneventfully, though the distant screams of more hunting packs of mastiff phalones could be heard echoing across the plains. The three Arconans rose early, as the crimson sun began to peek over the horizon. Despite a few hours of sleep, Grot remained in a foul mood, barely speaking to Lucine and Rhylance as they ate a quick, cold breakfast.

Once they had eaten, Grot grabbed his slugthrowers and stalked off to find any sign of the temple. “See to Jahumba and the woman,” he hissed to Rhylance as he departed.

“Charming,” Lucine said to Grot’s retreating back. “Could it be that he actually cares for that beast of his?”

“Who knows?” Rhylance replied with a shrug. “Now, how is your leg?”

As it turned out, Lucine’s leg had fully healed. She had used the Force to hasten her recovery. Between her abilities and Rhylance’s expert sutures, not even a scar remained. Despite this, the Chiss insisted on checking it thoroughly to make sure there was no sign of infection or a deeper injury.

Jahumba was not quite as fortunate. Rhylance had seen to the varactyl’s wounds as best he could after the attack, but the deep clawmarks in Jahumba’s back were nowhere near healed. He tended to the beast as best he could, while Lucine worked on breaking down the camp.

Grot reappeared about an hour later, emerging from the grass without a sound. “I found tracks. 12 humanoids, each carrying a lot of weight,” he announced without preamble. “They were headed west.”

“Could it be the Collective patrol?” Lucine wondered aloud.

“Very possibly,” Rhylance replied. "Very well. We shall set out after them immediately. "

Grot held up a hand to forestall them. “How is Jahumba?”

“Despite my ministrations, he is still recovering. It will take time for his wounds to heal,” the Chiss said.

“He cannot carry all of our gear with those wounds,” Grot said as he turned his head to study the varactyl. “Since you two foolishly chose this campsite, you will carry the weight he cannot.”

Lucine narrowed her emerald eyes and fixed the Trandoshan with a steely glare. “That is absurd.”

She started to say more, but Rhylance placed a steadying hand on her shoulder. “Judging by the map, it appears we are only a couple hours from the temple coordinates. We can manage it.”

Lucine opened her mouth to argue, but paused when she saw the way Grot’s jaw was set it determination. He would not be swayed. At last, she sighed. “Fine.”

She made a curt gesture toward the camping equipment, and the supplies floated lazily into the air. Grot growled under his breath, but the Sith merely offered him a saccharine smile. “Shall we be off, then?”


It did not take the Arconans long to find the trail of the Collective patrol. They followed it for two hours as the sun continued to rise in the sky and the heat of the day set in. The going was slow, their pace hampered by the injured varactyl. Tempers were growing short as the day wore on, reducing all conversation to snapped exchanges and monosyllabic retorts.

The sun had not quite reached its zenith when they arrived upon a rectangular hole cut into the ground, which revealed a set of stone steps that disappeared into the darkness below. Loose dirt was scattered around the holes. Excavation tools had also been neatly laid nearby, as if the owner had intended to return for them. Grot studied the ground intently for several minutes. “All of the tracks go in, but there are none coming out,” he announced.

“Well, that lines up with our reports that they are most likely dead,” Lucine said as she peered into the gloom. “I wonder what they encountered that killed them?”

“There is only one way to find out,” Rhylance said.

They began to make their way slowly down the steps, moving slowly to allow their eyes to adjust to the darkness. Grot went last, leading Jahumba. But as the beast drew near the stairs, he balked, refusing to descend into the gloom. The Trandoshan tugged on the reins to urge the varactyl forward, but Jahumba reared up, shrieking and squaking his refusal.

“Now what?” Rhylance demanded.

Grot did not reply, instead focusing on calming the varactyl. “He won’t go down.”

“Then do something with him. Cook him and eat him, for all I care,” the Chiss snapped, before continuing on.

Grot growled at the Proconsul’s back, before turning his attention back to his mount. It would be too dangerous to take him down, he would be easy prey for the mastiffs. Instead, he removed the reins. “Be safe. I will find you later,” he whispered to the varactyl, before hurrying down the stairs after the soft skins.

The long staircase opened into a hallway. The walls, floors and even the pillars that lined the hall were carved from granite. Wall sconces had been placed at intervals, and burned with a sickly green light without giving any smoke.

As Grot made his way down, he noted the remains of a Male Twi’lek with an excessive amount of biotech. His body had been pinned to the wall of the hallway by a long spike. Four more were embedded in the wall around him.

" — and now we have to deal with traps," Lucine was saying as the Trandoshan caught up to them.

“Oh, you really think the temple has traps?” Grot said sarcastically as he came up behind them.

(Grot) #6

“Believe it or not, most tombs and temples are not trapped,” Rhylance bit back. “This complicates things considerably.”

Grot snarled, but didn’t reply, and turned to look around the hall. Upon closer inspection the walls were covered with bas-reliefs, scenes of battle and discord. Murder, betrayal, war, and every other form of violence was depicted with exquisite detail, the torches casting exagerated shadows over the anguished faces. Above it all about elegant, runic scrawl ran across the top of the hallway.

“What does that writing mean?” Grot grunted, pointing to it. Lucine took a quick look upward.

“Looks like ancient Sith…”

“The academy uploaded a translation program to your data pad, may I see it?” Rhylance asked. He took the datapad and snapped a few photos of the writing, waiting as the software tried its best.

“It cannot recognize the dialect precisely but,” Rhylance let out a sudden, wry chuckle, "it appears to be a curse of some kind.”

Grot felt his flesh chill at this. Absent-mindedly he clutched at one of his totems and looked around the hallway with renewed weariness. “What sort of curse?”

“It’s nothing to worry about, darling, Sith curses are more bluster and bark than anything else. Probably promising disease, death, infertility and misery to anyone who desecrates this temple. All the old standards.” Lucine answered as she began the clear away the bodies of the Collective troopers. With a flick of her wrist the corpses slowly unraveled themselves and piled up to the side of the hallway.

“A curse is no trivial matter!” Grot hissed.

“Then perhaps we will abandon the whole expedition for your primitive superstitions,” Rhylance said with an acrid sneer. “We have come this far already.”

Grot scowled, but said nothing in return, only silently stewing. In time they got the bodies cleared away and the spikes disarmed, so they could make their way safely down the hallway. As they marched the torches became less frequent, and the dim lighting made it increasingly difficult to see. Soon the hallway opened out into a large chamber, soaring high above their heads. The walls were painted a bright, scarlet red and the same, violent murals leered down at them as they entered.

Most disturbingly of all, however, the chamber split into five different paths.

“A maze,” Lucine said with annoyance. “How lovely.”

“You should be less worried about the maze, and more about the walls.” Rhylance replied with a grim expression. He pulled his shirt up over his nose as he examined them. “This looks like cinnabar. Breathe too much and you’re bound to get mercury poisoning.”

Lucine pulled her cloak around her mouth and nose, while Grot sealed his armor. Both dreaded the inevitable detox they’d be put through after this mission. There was a short silence as they considered their next course of action.

“We might have to get a scanning team down here, no telling how many—”

“Through here” Grot said roughly, interrupting Rhylance as he gestured towards the second corridor.

“How could you possibly know that?” Rhylance asked, exasperated with the Trandoshans brutish behavior.

“I have eyes, smoothskin, look at the dust on the ground. Most of the foot traffic runs through here.” Grot snarled, feeling his anger grow. He began to question why he was even on this expedition. Neither of his companions respected him, or his skills. They dismissed his advice, and put the whole expedition in danger. They were just using him to get to the artifact, to take all the credit—

“Well, lead on then darling.” Lucine interrupted his brooding, trying to defuse the tension she could feel building. Both Rhylance and Grot were slowly swirling with hate and anger, an extremity of emotion she couldn’t quite explain. There was something dark about this place, something not quite right that pulsed in her blood and made her toes itch.

Grot led them down to corridor, eyes locked on the ground ahead as the followed the Collective’s tracks. They bypassed a number of cleverly hidden traps on their way, their progress slow but vigilant as they marched through the ever darkening corridors. At last they came to a fork in their path, and Grot halted, confused as he looked at the floor.

“Trouble, Trandoshan?” Rhylance remarked.

“The tracks disappear here.”

“So much for the vaunted hunter then.”

Rhylance and Grot bickered and sniped at each other openly, their arguments growing louder by the second as they struggled to determine a path forward. Lucine stood apart, knowing that any interference from her would only worsen the situation. Instead she focused on that inscrutable feeling permeating the temple, expanding her senses and trying to pinpoint its presence.

She felt her pulse pound and her face grow flush as she comprehended the level of Dark Side energy suffusing this place. A choking miasma that nearly overwhelmed her as she opened up to it. It pounded at the edge of her mind like a wild animal, howling and screaming like the whirlwind as it tried to grasp her.

She leaned against the wall, suddenly faint, and tried to pull away from the thing that assailed her. Her breathing grew heavy, and her vision swam as its power receded, but she could still feel it there, scratching at the edges of her sensation, trying to pull her down with it.

Her presence of mind came back to her, and she saw that Grot and Rhylance were engaged in a shouting match. Their voices grew higher in pitch and their hands snaked subconsciously towards their weapons as they argued. The murals to either side leered down evilly, even eagerly as they tasted the bloodshed to come.

“Enough of this!” Lucine shouted, casting her voice with an irresistible power that shattered the argument. “We are allies, not enemies. There is something dark happening here, and I fear we will need to work together to oppose it.”

“We still have no idea where to go,” Rhylance protested weakly, still dazed by the strength of Lucine’s command.

“I know the way” Lucine said. “Whatever is here, it has seen me, and it wants to be found. This temple is not a vault, but a cage. These traps were not built to keep us out, but to keep it in.”

“How could you know this?” Grot hissed, his voice still gruff with anger.

Lucine frowned, pursing her lips. “I do not know.”

They passed to the right of the fork, Lucine leading the way as the men retreated in sullen silence to the rear. She followed her feelings, chasing that pounding, monstrous presence down the corridors. She was growing closer now, its voice terribly loud as they neared the exit. Just a few more halls and they would be—

And the ground gave way beneath her.

“Lucine!” Rhylance shouted as the rocks crumbled and their redheaded companion fell into the pit. There was a whistle as something leapt up from the hole. A grappling hook, with its head shining in the dim light, scrambled against the stones. Its head caught on a loose brick, jerking to a stop and leaving Lucine hanging perilously below.

Rhylance could see the brick would not hold for long and ran forward, grabbing the cord with both hands as he tried to haul Lucine back up. “Grot! I need help!”

Grot stood aside, oddly paralyzed by the sight in front of him. Maliciously, he thought how satisfying it was to see them like this. The ones who doubted him, so utterly at his mercy, begging for his aid. He thought how much more satisfying it would be to deny them, to let them fall and die under the weight of their own arrogance.

He shook his head roughly, grasping it with both claws. Why would he do that? He couldn’t just leave them to die. He felt his pulse pound and his body shake, a headache of monstrous proportions splitting his skull in two as he fought these intrusive thought.

Why? Why not! The power was his and he should use it! The only true power over a thing was the power to destroy it, and in this moment he held that power. Was it not intoxicating? Was it not a grand feeling?

Grot! Please!” Rhylance shouted in desperation, his palms bleeding as the cord began to bite deep into them. His feet slowly slipped over the stone floor, mere inches from the edge as he fought to keep Lucine from her death.

At last two armored claws gripped the cord, and with monstrous strength began to haul Lucine up and out of the pit. Lucine gasped, her body flooded with adrenaline and happy to be on safe ground once more.

Furious, Rhylance hauled up and punched Grot, the sound ringing through the otherwise silent corridor.

“Where the kark were you!” He shouted, his hand stinging from the impact on Grot’s helmet. “You almost left us to die!”

“I saved you. You should be thankful.” Grot said in a deadly whisper. Lucine shuddered to hear that voice, and felt something terrible in its undertones.

“You sure took your time! Some savior!” Rhylance bit out, before swirling around to look after Lucine. She waved him off, looking at Grot with concern.

“I’m fine, darling, nothing more than a few bruises. Grot, dear, are you feeling quite alright?”

“We should keep moving. He’s not far from here,” Grot whispered in that same deadly tone, and began to move around the edges of the pit. Though it may have just been a slip of the tongue, Lucine caught every word.

"He" the Trandoshan had called the artifact.

They marched quickly to keep up with him, falling in careful step behind him. They felt an awful foreboding tension as Grot moved in utter silence, without even a glance in their direction. It wasn’t long until they came upon the main chamber of the temple.

A large and glittering room stood before them, the ever present murals on the walls now inlaid with gems and precious stones, untouched by the ravages of time. Torches blazed brightly in every sconce, and upon the solid gold altar in the center of the room, there it was.

A speckled blue stone floated there, unsupported above the altar. Its reflective face seemed to radiate malice, and the air grew darker in its immediate vicinity. It was a grim and foreboding sight, but none more so than the sight at the foot of the altar.For there was the last of the Collective expedition, their bodies still locked in frenzied combat, dead by each other’s hand.

(Rhylance) #7

Rhylance approached the scene with morbid fascination. The positioning of these Collective researchers was eerily peculiar. Their bodies seemed frozen in place, their blades still held tightly as they had impaled each other in an intricate formation around the glittering blue shard. Most intriguing to the Chiss though were their faces. They were twisted and warped as if their very skin threatened to tear from their heads. They held such anger, such malice. The wide grins and terrified eyes were uncomfortably stretched out, indicating a resounding madness. Whatever could do this was certainly worth investigation and experimentation.

“How dementedly surreal.” Lucine approached behind him, a look of worry and understanding on her face. She knew the thoughts her companion held. His deep seated need for knowledge was both a curse and a boon, and in this case, she just wanted to collect their prize and be done with this place. Even she, a mistress of the Dark Side of the Force knew that whatever presence she had felt before was not to be trifled with. “Rhylance, we should just grab that thing and leave. You will have more than enough time to conduct your experiments when we are back on our ship.”

The Chiss snapped out of his thoughts and looked to his most trusted friend. He knew that she spoke the truth. Even he, the only of his siblings with no Force connection, could tell that this place was not one they should idly wander about in. He reached forward, carefully keeping away from the frozen bodies surrounding the crystal, and removed the artifact from its pedestal.

At the moment the crystal left its place of holding the bodies of the Collective expedition team unfroze and collapsed to the ancient floor. Lucine jumped back in shock as Rhylance stared in wonder. The sheer power this room held was immeasurably remarkable.

“Ok, let us be on our way.” Rhylance was about to turn when he felt a searing pain shoot through his leg as a slug tore into him. The Chiss dropped to the ground in shock. Lucine’s reflexes kicked in as she armed herself with her newly activated green lightsaber. Their gaze was drawn to the attacker and they were filled with a heightened sense of anger and betrayal.

“The relic is mine!”

Grot stood between them and the door, his right arm outstretched while holding a slugthrower. His voice was augmented and sounded as if two voices spoke in unison. His eyes seemed to blaze red, and the air around him grew heavy with the Dark Side of the Force.

“Grot? What is the meaning of this?” Lucine stared down the Trandoshan who had just fired on their Proconsul.

“I am tired of being your tool, softskin! I will dance to your tune no longer! You will rot in our tomb!”

The possessed Trandoshan began firing on the red-headed Quaestor. While she couldn’t deflect the slugs, Lucine managed to intercept the projectiles with her blade, keeping herself safe from harm to the best of her ability. Melted metal, from the destroyed slugs littered the ground. Intent on killing the Force wielder, Grot kept rapt attention on his viable threat.

Lucine ran, she ducked and weaved through the constant barrage of fire by her opponent. She could feel herself begin to tire but needed to keep up her guard. The Dark Side had taken hold of her teammate, and it wouldn’t let her catch a breath, let alone defend herself more
fluently.

Grot followed the red-head where she moved, and finally he had her trapped. For millennia they had been trapped. Kept out of the light. Alone, together in the dark. Now they would be free and the Force would be returned to them. As they aimed their pistol to take what belonged to them, a bolt of energy fired from another blaster caught the slugthrowers and destroyed their weaponry.

Rhylance was leaning against the old pedestal, aiming his own blaster with full concentration. He had taken the time to patch his leg up as best as he could while Lucine distracted Grot. The Chiss held the relic in his left hand and presented it to the Force possessed Trandoshan.

“Is this not what you wanted? Go ahead. Take it.” Lucine looked incredulously at her comrade. “This belongs to you, not us. I… am sorry, Grot, if I treated you unfairly.” The Chiss knelt before Grot as he dropped his blaster to the ground. His right hand slipped into his coat for a moment as he folded it against his chest.

Grot dropped his ruined slugthrowers to the floor, the metal clattering against the hard surface. He deliberately stepped towards the Chiss, his eyes filled with confusion…

Lucine saw a slight smirk cross her lover’s face. He had a plan, and she wouldn’t be left out. She channeled the Dark Side, ever present within this room, to her will. Tendrils of shadowy energy fluttered around her as she twisted to match her grand design. The best manipulation is to keep the truth of what’s there and change one detail. Her illusion was set.

Rhylance stood and handed the artifact to Grot. He reached for the blue shard, their victory inches from his grasp. Before their claws could touch the crystal a sharp pain echoed through his body. Lucine’s illusion faded revealing the scalpel in Rylance’s other hand. Grot shoved the Chiss to the ground in anger. His bodies blood flowed from the precise wound above their heart. This one would pay for his treachery.

“And now you die, the both of you. I should never have trusted a softskin! The Force shall claim you and come back to me!”

The sound of blaster fire echoed in the room once more as Lucine fired upon Grot’s leg. The many voices that inhabited his body cried out in distress as it collapsed to its knees. Slowly they could feel the body stiffening. Rhylance’s scalpel had been coated with a strong paralytic toxin. They couldn’t move. They couldn’t speak. They felt fear for the first time in so long. Their only thought was how this one’s body and mind accepted them so easily, but in the end, it failed them. Now they would wait for a millennia more before they could try again. They left Grot’s body, their power weakening from overuse.

“I almost thought we might be killed down here.” Lucine let slip as she approached the Chiss and helped him to his feet.

“Well, be happy we are still alive, my dear.”

“And what of him?” she asked, pointing to the paralyzed Grot.

Rhylance bent over and administered the antitoxin into the Trandoshan’s bloodstream. He stood up, albeit with a hobble. In his left hand, he still held the relic.

“Now, let us get out of here. We still have to deliver this to the Headmaster.”

“Should we wait for him to wake up?”

“I suppose so, but if he tries to kill us again, he dies.”

“Agreed.”

……

Hours later the three teammates sat in silence aboard their ship. It was docking at their new destination, and they were to report to a gala to deliver the artifact. No one spoke, but the sense of tension in the air was undeniable. Grot remained in place, healed by Rhyalnce of his injuries. The Trandoshan was highly embarrassed by being taken over, but he refused to apologize for his possessed actions.

No one died. They should all just be happy.

After the ship landed and the three readied themselves for the gala, Lucine found herself annoyed by the long silence. She really didn’t feel like dancing at the event, but if she must, she’d prefer to not be in the presence of such overwhelming tension.

“Ok, this has gotten ridiculous. This silence needs to stop. If it does not, and I have to put up with it all the way back to Selen…” she left the rest up to their imaginations.

Grot and Rhylance glared at each other before the Chiss finally sighed before standing up. Dressed in a sophisticated black tuxedo, he was ready and geared for the gala, but even he knew this tension had to be diffused.

“I have to agree with Lucine. Grot,” The Trandoshan looked away in disdain. “We could sit here and glare, be angry, and want to kill each other for the events of today. Or we can agree that what happened was out of all of our control, and simply forget that it ever happened. We will have to work together again, and I would rather do it without us wanting to kill each other.”

The ship remained silent for a time before Grot finally relented.

“If that is what you desire, softskin. But don’t expect this makes us friends.” the Trandoshan responded with a snarl.

“I would never dream of being friends with you, lizard,” Rhyalnce answered in kind. “Let us deliver this relic and be done with it.”

Grot and Rhylance left the ship, pushing past each other like bickering children. Lucine rolled her eyes in disbelief. After all that, the tension alleviated, but the name calling and disdain lingered on.

“I am surrounded by idiots.”