A read-only archive of discourse.darkjedibrotherhood.com as of Sunday May 01, 2022.

[The Enemy Below] Event Fiction Updates


This thread will be where the weekly fiction updates for The Enemy Below will be posted. The opening title crawl can be found here.

The time following the ascension of SELIKA ROH has been a time of prosperity and expansion for CLAN PLAGUEIS.

The Clan has grown across the face of Aliso. The newly christened ALISO CITY, located around the Pinnacle, has become a bustling spaceport in it’s own right.

However, not all is as it seems. As Plagueis has begun to explore deeper into the surrounding caves, something has begun to stir once more…


Week 1

Caves below Aliso City
35 ABY

It had been a long shift for Thrance Orsus, and the end of it couldn’t come soon enough. Exploring the cave system below the city had seemed like a good way to make a few credits, and the Dread Lord, whoever it was at the time, always paid well. After he and his team of rock riggers had done their part helping set up The Circle with their asteroid facility, the promise of leaving zero-g behind and working planetside for a while had held a certain appeal.

“Yeah,” he grumbled to himself, “and if my grandmother had repulsors she’d be a speeder.”

Long days underground, never seeing the sun, made him a bit nostalgic for the stomach churning sensation of freefall. At least out there you got to see the stars. Working this far under the surface, however, meant that it was often better to simply set up a camp where they were. But, at least, the job was almost complete.

“Hey boss, think we found somethin’ over here,” called out Jacin, the team’s XO.

Crossing over to where the other man stood, Thrance looked at the readout. The rock before them, while appearing no different than the solid surfaces to either side, was actually less than a meter thick. There was an open void on the other side, but the sensors were having a hell of a time seeing what was on the other side.

“Think it’s the all the topaline that’s interfering with the sensors?” Jacin asked.

“Probably,” Thrance decided. “Better blast our way in and do a visual inspection. And here I thought we were nearly done with this one.”

“I hear that,” Jacin said, then turned to gather the rest of the team. “All right, you rock crawlers! I want blast points here, here, and here. We need to take this wall down without compromising the integrity of the chamber. Move it!”

The other men set about their tasks, and after a few minutes the team was safely behind a large outcropping of rock. Jacin smiled as he held the detonator in his hand.

“Blow it,” Thrance ordered.

The dull whump of the explosives was followed by the sound of falling rock fragments as dust from the explosion billowed out from the newly blasted hole. Pulling his goggles down to protect his eyes, Thrance gestured for his men to move into the newly exposed cavern. Following the other three members of his team, Thrance took stock of his surroundings.

“Boss, this look natural to you?” Jacin asked as his helmet’s light moved across the stone walls of the chamber.

“No,” Thrance answered. "Maybe it was part of a planned expansion the Seps never got around to finishing.

Suddenly, the cavern was filled with the blood curdling scream of one of his men. Turning around, Thrance and the rest saw that Tillmun’s pack and helmet were lying on the ground, but there was no sign of the burly Gotal.

“Tillmun!” Jacin yelled into the darkness.

As Thrance raced over to where his man’s gear sat, Keller called out in alarm from behind them. Turning around, Jacin’s light just caught the man’s legs flailing as he was dragged quickly into a side corridor leading out of the chamber.

“Emperor’s black bones, what the hell is going on?” Jacin demanded.

“I don’t know, but stay close. Back out the way we came,” Thrance ordered.

Before the men could move, two bright red blaster bolts leapt out of the darkness. The first struck Jacin in the face, killing him instantly. The second burned into Thrance’s gut, dropping him to the ground as he keeled over backwards. Feeling the life ebbing out of him, Thrance tried to cling to consciousness as long as he could.

The sound of metal feet striking stone reached his ears as he struggled to stay alive, finally seeing a pair of skeletal, dark rust colored droids enter his field of view as they stood over him.

“This one is still alive,” the first droid, his head and chest decorated with yellow markings, observed. “Terminate him.”

The other droid raised his weapon, aiming directly at Thrance’s head. “Roger, roger.”

Aliso City

“The usual Corellian Brandy I presume m’lord?”

Arden snapped his head up at the voice of the female Ryn server having been lost in thought before her arrival. His first impression of the place, Hak’s Hideout, confirmed it wasn’t the classy place that Arden preferred to drink in, but at least it was a far sight better than some of the merc dives on Nar Shadda or the spaceport cantinas he’d cleared out a dozen times as an Espo. Still, the Hideout as it was known locally had appeared to hold certain charm and, most importantly, it offered privacy. Arden had started coming here on those times he needed to get away from the Pinnacle and clear his head.

The Overseer looked to the server and nodded though just before she walked away Arden chimed in, “ if you have any of the 21 in the back, I’d prefer that.”

“Of course m’lord,” the server replied as she walked away and Arden returned to his thoughts. Despite the reports of trouble he’d been hearing through the few Inquisitorious contacts he could safely get a hold of, things on Aliso had been somewhat calm of late. Of course nothing was truly calm with Selika around, but there hadn’t been anything large scale in a while. He was beginning to worry that Plagueis would become complacent or lose their edge. For now, however, he welcomed the calm.

He also knew it wouldn’t last.

Just as the server returned with the golden-brown drink, shouts could be heard coming from outside the bar. The server moved over towards the door as Arden took a sip of his drink.

“I wonder what’s going on out there,” the server mused to no one in particular.

“It’s nothing Vel. Probably that idiot buzzing the street again,” the Bothan bartender shouted in reply.

“I have to remember to discuss that with him,” Arden mumbled to himself. He was getting frequent complaints of low flying aircraft over Aliso city, mostly involving one particular XS freighter. If Whuloc wanted to be reckless, he needed to do it somewhere other than in Arden’s airspace. Just as everyone started to calm down, a series of muffled explosions could be heard followed by a small shockwave that rattled the bar’s glasses, tables, and the nerves of it’s patrons. While everyone looked around confused, Arden quickly finished his drink and hopped to his feet whilst drawing the pistol at his hip.

“What’s wrong m’lord?” The server was looking perplexed and a bit terrified at the Overseer’s reaction.

“Blasting charges,” Arden responded as he moved for the main entrance. “I’d know that sound and feeling anywhere. Probably coming from below the surface but there wasn’t supposed to be any activity near…”

The Overseer was cut off as the distinct sounds of blaster fire could be heard just outside the Hideout as well as several screams. While servers and patrons dove under tables and behind the bar, Arden crept towards the entrance, pistol in hand. As he reached the door he carefully opened the door a peeked out only to duck back inside as a blaster bolt flew by.

“Clankers, older model B1s,” Arden said in response to the question everyone was about to ask but no one had yet vocalized.

“Thought those were all gone!” The bartender shouted from behind the bar.

Before Arden could answer he could hear the metal feet of the droids clanking on the duracrete pavers outside. Stowing his pistol and pulling out his lightsaber, Arden bolted out the door. The somewhat surprised lead droid fired widely at the Overseer. Arden had no trouble deflecting the shot. In a continuous motion, Arden brought the blade back around as he stepped up, cleanly slicing through the droid’s torso. As the droid behind brought his weapon to bear, the golden sheaf of plasma whipped back around, removing the droid’s head.

The immediate threat dealt with, Arden began to take stock of the surrounding situation. People were running in fear, shouting and screaming as they tried to escape the droids that were pouring into the streets, firing seemingly indiscriminately. He could readily spot at least a couple dozen droids in the immediate area, but there were sounds of blaster fire and small explosions coming from all over the city. What he hadn’t yet heard was any signs of the security forces in the city which was deeply troubling. Deactivating his lightsaber Arden jogged over to his nearby speeder bike and grabbed his personal F11D rifle. After cracking off a shot that placed a clean hole in an approaching droid’s torso, he walked back into the bar and looked to the bartender.

“You have roof access here?” Arden sternly demanded. “I need a vantage point.”

The Bothan gestured over his shoulder with his thumb, “There’s a ladder in the back alley.”

Arden nodded and strode purposefully towards the back door stating sternly the bartender. “Stay down for now. I’m going to call for backup. Once they arrive, get everyone out the back.”

Without waiting for a reply, Arden ducked out the back door and climbed up the ladder to the roof. Moving to the front of the barely two story structure, Arden knelt down at a short ledge just above the main entrance. He quickly scanned the streets through the rifle’s scope and could see even more droids streaming into the streets. It took him a few moments, but he figured out which direction they were coming from. He pulled his commlink from his belt and keyed it.

“Pinnacle command, this is the Overseer. Hostile droids in city sectors Esk, Besh, and Forn. Likely breach point in Grid Esk-6 near my current position.”

A monotone voice came through the comlink a couple seconds later. “Acknowledged Overseer. Strength of enemy in your sector?”

Before he answered, Arden lined up a shot on a droid approaching the Hideout and fired a single shot, felling it with his trademark precision. Once done, he picked the comlink backed up.

“A kriffload, but I’m working on it.”

The Pinnacle

The Pinnacle command center was in mild chaos. Officers were running around, sirens were sounding, and there were emergency reports coming in on every line. Abadeer was on site, having been there for the day filing various reports. Now with a crisis on their hands, the Proconsul was taking command of the station.

“Sir! We have reports coming in from! Almost every sector of the city is under siege. We’re still trying to pinpoint the insurgence point.” The report came from one of the communication officers.

“I needed that information ten minutes ago! Has anyone contacted the Dread Lord? We’re going to need more forces on the ground, ASAP.” Abadeer was getting stressed out. He’d been on many offensive missions with Plagueis, but he’d not yet had an attack on the Clan’s base itself. This was a new situation he was trying to take control of.

“Where are we on my airstrike?” The Togruta called out to the command center. Two of the officers looked nervously at each other.

“My lord,the attack is focused almost entirely in the city itself. If we send in an airstrike, or even our ground based armor, there would be tremendous collateral damage. We’d like to instead recommend that the entirety of the Plagueis ground forces be mobilized to the city to clear out the battle droids.” The officer stood and saluted while delivering the report.

Abadeer began to squint and glare at the officer. He was right, but Taasii hated to be contradicted. The situation was not ideal, there were too many unknowns and Plagueis’ main asset was their naval superiority. Without that they were severely crippled. Abadeer stood up and looked around the room, all the officers now staring at him waiting for his reaction. He took a deep breath in to calm his nerves, as well as his swelling anger.

“Alright, let’s do our best then to get what information we can. We need the ground forces mobilized to the Pinnacle. I want both Ajunta Pall and Karness Muur entirely mobilized as well. We need all available forces to push back the assault. Let’s show these droids what happens when you try to invade Aliso!” Abadeer tried to end the speech with an upswing of his voice, attempting to encourage the command center.

“Now let’s see about getting me down on the field. I can’t work properly cramped up in here.” Taasii said to himself as he turned to leave.


Aliso City

From his vantage point atop Hak’s Hideout, Arden was in his element. While most of his Sith compatriots would have been more at home on the ground, working from up high was what he did best. Moving from target to target with a finely honed grace, he was dropping droids with virtually every trigger pull. These older model B1s weren’t the brightest droids in the galaxy which made the Overseer’s job that much easier. While he had wished he’d brought one of his longer range rifles so he could hit even more droids, the F11D-s superior ammo capacity was coming in handy right now.

“I could do this all day,” he muttered to himself as another squad of droids pushed into his view. While Arden probably could have held this position by himself for a good while, thankfully, he didn’t have to. In between shots, he’d get calls from the Pinnacle promising reinforcements or make calls to the city’s security forces which were quickly getting organized. They were managing to hold their own and were managing to keep the droids fairly contained. Once the Ascendant Legion arrived in force they could start pushing back the droids.

And they were never late.

Just as Arden lined up a shot on an approaching droid, his focus was broken by the familiar buzz of approaching LAATs which caused the droids to immediately bolt for cover. Arden shook his head and keyed his comm.

“You ruined my shot,” the Overseer grumbled. “But welcome to the party anyway. Command squad on me. Everyone else, proceed to a suitable LZ and push south towards the breach points.”

“Acknowledged Overseer,” a monotone voice replied.

With trained precision the LAATs started to fan out across the city. A short moment later, one came to a hover right over the Hideout. Ropes dropped to the roof behind him and within a couple seconds, boots could be heard hitting the building while the door gunner laid down repeating blaster fire on the droids in the street. The first group down the ropes formed up on the front of the building with Arden while the second fire team moved towards the ladder in the back. Between the seasoned squad and the supporting fire from the LAAT, it wasn’t long before the immediate vicinity was cleared of droids.

Exhaling, Arden stood up and turned to see a Legion officer behind him. Arden acknowledged the lanky Mirialan. “Lieutenant Grando, isn’t it?”

“Yessir,” the Mirialan replied. “Apologies for our timing.”

“No need for that Lieutenant, I’d downed plenty before you arrived,” Arden answered, his tone not suggesting whether he was being sarcastic or not. “Status report?”

“Besh company is deploying now by air with Cresh company four minutes out,” the Mirialan lieutenant rattled off. “Aurek company is inbound with the ULAVs, they’ll be here in fifteen.”

Arden nodded. “Good, we can finally go on offense now. The droids have been coming up from subsurface caverns on the southern end of the city. Let’s go push them back down their holes.”

The Mirialan grinned. “Return to sender, yessir!”

Aliso Caves

The Plagueis offensive was going well, the droids being routed back to the tunnels that they’d appeared from. B-1’s were not hard to outmaneuver tactically if they had no obvious commander. The damage that had been done by the droids was merely from their initial surprise factor. The Ascendent Clan would never have expected to have been attacked from underground with almost no warning, it was a difficult situation to prepare for. The Ascendent Legion, with their Dark Jedi commanders, were systematically pushing the droids back across the city, towards the south edge where the tunnels had been found.

It was well into the evening when the droids had finally totally retreated out of the city. Most of the B1s had been destroyed, but there were a few stragglers that had managed to retreat far enough back out of the city to reach the caves. Plagueis command and the Summit decided that the confrontation wasn’t as serious as initially anticipated. They called in Commander Azmodius with his trainees from the Circle to help finish off the routing off the droids. It would allow the Journeyman a chance at real combat in a controlled situation where there was much less danger of them being killed. They were accompanied by Captain Talin of the 3rd infantry division, to lend support if needs be.

“Talin, I’d like to eradicate the droids if we can. I’d prefer that we don’t leave any lose ends. If there are only a few remaining, we don’t need another surprise attack coming up out of this hole.” Azmodius walked up beside the commander as they both observed their men route the droids into the cave network.

“Of course sir, I’ll have a squad prepared to enter into the cave system. Would you like to send your Jedi in as well sir?” The low voiced reply was dry and lacking of emotion. Azmodius noted the lack of caring in the Captain’s voice. Talin was a middle aged infantry commander, very tactically minded, but could come off as easily abrasive. Azmodius shook his head in response.

“No, I think they’ve had enough fun. They’ve not been readied yet for that kind of environment. No need to get a lot of them killed down in the caves, just because one of them forgot to check their corners. We’ll stay at the ready though in case your squad needs back-up.” Talin didn’t respond, he just started walking towards his men who had their blasters trained on the cave’s entrance.

“Let’s move it out boys! We’ve got our orders. Time to clear out the remaining droids. Split up into groups of five and let’s clear out these caves. Nothing stupid, no risks, nice and easy. I want this done right.” Talin was an effective commander, and he got his job done. The soldiers saluted and broke up into their respective groups. Azmodius watched on as the men moved into the caves. The mission could take a while, but he was willing to be patient and wait.

Captain Talin was leading one of the parties at the front of the mission. They’d been slowly working their way through the caves. Usually it was pretty quiet and intensely dark. Every so often they’d run into a battle droid, who didn’t do so well in the dark cave system, and they were easily dispatched in ones and twos. Sometimes they would run into another search party, and would split up, making sure not to cover the same ground twice.

It was about an hour and a half into the mission when Talin’s group found a little larger pocket of droids huddled up in a room.

“Alright boys, let’s take these droids out, nice and clean. About two droids for each of you. On my mark,” Talin’s men lined up their shots, trying to be as silent as possible, “Fire!” The cave was lit up in bright blaster fire. The confrontation was over in a few minutes, the Ascendent Legion was trained well, and they were good at their job.

“Nice job, but let’s keep moving.” Talin proceeded cautiously into the room, checking the corners for any signs of possible hostiles. As they moved into the room, Talin raised his closed fist. He’d heard something, he was sure of it. A low clicking sound. Was it more droids? The cave’s structure made it somewhat difficult to pin down where sound was always coming from.

“Do you hear that? Where is it coming from?” Talin asked in a low whisper. His man had circled up, each looking in a different direction. They could all hear it, but from where?

“Sir look up!” Screamed one of the soldiers, but it was too late. Captain Talin had been gunned down from above. The squad all looked up to see a true horror. Large, white glowing eyes littered the ceiling. In a swarm the figures flooded down the walls, humanoid sized bugs with large buzzing wings. The creatures fired off shots as they descended the cave, exchanging fire with the terrified squad.

“What are they?”

“Geonosians! We have to retreat! Now!” The next in command yelled out.

“What?” another soldier yelled, only to be cut down by the green energy of a sonic blaster.

The remaining squad members broke ranks, retreating headlong into the cave system from where they’d come. As they ran, they heard terrified screams, and animalistic sounds echoing throughout the entire structure. It seemed like an eternity, but finally two men made it out to the surface. They didn’t stop running until they came face to face with Commander Azmodius.

“Halt! Soldiers, what’s going on in there?” Azmodius had his sternest face on, he didn’t take lightly to deserters.

“Sir, we need to contact command. Now. We’re under assault… from Geonosians!” the Legionary replied, short of breath as he gasped for air.

Azmodius was taken back a step, totally surprised at the response. Weren’t the Geonosians supposed to be dead? The leader of the Circle stood for a moment, still recovering from the shocking knowledge of the truth of the invasion. He then turned quickly to one of his Acolytes, Obsidian.

“Obsidian! Get me a commlink now! We need to get command on the line, they have to know what’s going on.”

The Pinnacle

Selika drummed her fingers on the edge of the holodisplay table that dominated the floor of the command center. She wasn’t at the top of the field when it came to military tactics, she had people for that. However, even her own less developed grasp of the overall situation was making her brow furrow with concern.

“General,” she demanded, waving her hand towards the holographic display showing the city outskirts and the cave system, “is it my eyes, or are we losing units out there?”

“No, my lord,” came the reply of Ranthe Benzayn, the Devaronian general in overall command of the Ascendant Legion. “The units that have pushed into the cave system are meeting stronger than anticipated resistance.”

“From what, General? Those B1’s should hardly be target practice for my army,” Selika spat back haughtily. “Are there perhaps more sophisticated droids that we have not yet seen, or are your readiness reports not quite accurate?”

“I don’t know,” Benzayn answered, careful to keep his frustration with her abusive tone from coloring his voice. “We haven’t heard many reports from our front line forces. The topaline deposits, in addition to interfering with sensors, also serve to block communications.”

“Then perhaps you need to send a runner?” Selika inquired mockingly.

“Perhaps, my lord,” he said, then his eyes focused over her shoulder towards the comm station. “It looks like we have a report coming in, maybe even the report we’ve been waiting on.”

Benzayn gestured towards the comm station, bowing slightly at the waist as he did so. Selika turned, crossing the distance to the comm officer.

“Report,” the general ordered from over her shoulder.

“My lord,” the junior officer offered, “Taskmaster Azmodius is on the line, and he’s reporting that his position is being attacked by a force of twenty to thirty Geonosian warriors.”

Selika’s biting reply died on her lips, instead replaced by a nonplussed look painting her face. “Geonosians?”

“That’s what they reported, my lord.”

When Selika’s confusion at hearing the name of a supposedly nigh-extinct species created a pregnant silence that stretched on for several heartbeats, the general seized the initiative. “Operations, I want scanning crews into the cave system now. I need to know exactly what’s going on down there.”

“Yes sir,” came the reply from halfway across the command center. Orders were barked out as the general turned back to the Dread Lord.

“A Geonosian enclave would explain a great many things,” the general mused.

“Exactly,” Selika joined in, her momentary hesitation behind her. “Why this place wasn’t in any of the Separatist databases. It might have been some sort of classified outpost where the bugs were running some sort of weapons laboratory.”

“Though, if it was, what have they been doing for all these years,” Benzayn wondered. “And why send their droids out only now? We’ve been here for quite some time.”

“Stang,” Selika swore, bringing her fist down atop an unused monitor station, “We just don’t have enough information.”

“Sir, the scanning crews are in place, but they’re still having trouble punching through the interference.”

“Then tie their systems into the main Pinnacle sensor array, captain,” General Benzayn insisted. “I need to see what’s down there.”

“Aye, sir.” The officer fidgeted awkwardly for several seconds before his display screen filled with the green text of sensor readouts. “It looks like we’re getting life form readings down there, definitely Geonosians.”

“Good to know that Azmodius wasn’t seeing things,” Selika murmured under her breath.

“And, Captain?” the Devaronian demanded.

Before the other officer could reply, the color drained from his face and his jaw went slack.

“Captain?” Benzayn snapped.

With the man unresponsive Benzayn moved to his station, pushing the officer aside and cuffing him harshly as he did so. The Devaronian’s eyes widened at what the display showed.

“My lord,” he said soberly, “I am tracking a few thousand active life signs, all Geonosian.”

“And?” Selika commanded.

“We’ve detected at least several hundred thousand more in stasis, probably more. There’s an entire hive down there,” Benzayn reported.

“And we woke them up,” Selika finished. “Deploy the entire garrison. Turn out the constabulary, anyone that can carry a weapon. The Saraask’ar, get them down from their ship. We need to defeat this enemy now.”

Selika didn’t add what she feared, but the thought flashed through her mind unbidden.

Before they overwhelm us like a swarm of carrion bugs stripping the flesh from our carcass.


Tunnels below Aliso

The assault on the lower tunnels was going rather poorly. The Proconsul had decided to lead the charge himself, and while his unique Togrutan physiology allowed him to maneuver well in the cave system, the rest of his patrol was falling prey to the lack of visibility. At first the Sith had raced through the tunnels, slaying Geonosians left and right, but now they remained more elusive. Abadeer’s echolocation only stretched so far, and the entire system was buzzing with life, making it difficult to pinpoint where to proceed.

“Captain, is there anything coming up on the scanners?” Taasii asked, knowing the answer before it came.

“Negative sir, the caves are still scrambling our signal. We’re totally blind down here,” Captain Orann responded quickly, “I would recommend that we don’t stay in anyone place for too long, I think that would give our enemies an advantage we can’t afford.”

Abadeer nodded at the suggestion. He was of the same mind. They were completely at a disadvantage down here. The Battlemaster scanned the available routes quickly, and pointed down one of the tunnels on his right.

“Let’s move out.” He started a slow jog down the tunnel he pointed. The caves were littered with openings, small side passages and impossible to explore crevices. The cave was like one large sponge, openings everywhere. At times it felt like they were getting nowhere, moving in circles, but Abadeer knew they must be getting somewhere. It was hard to tell, but he knew he didn’t recognize any of the caves he was moving through.

As they continued to run through the tunnels, Abadeer began to sense something strange. He couldn’t quite place his finger on it. Something had changed, maybe multiple things had changed, but it was proving very difficult to see exactly what it was.

“Eyes up, I think we’re getting somewhere.” The Togruta warned his squad.

“What do you see sir?” Orann asked. Abadeer shook his head, he still couldn’t quite tell what it was that was there.

“I’m not sure, just be ready. I think we’re going to see some action soon.”

Taasii heard the sounds of blasters clicking, his soldiers getting into position. They were trained, they were the best soldiers around, but Abadeer felt little confidence at they being the ones to cover his back. It all happened in an instant. Suddenly, Taasii felt his senses blaring. They were being surrounded, swarmed. Abadeer turned to his men, just before the wave hit. The tunnels felt like they were streaming out a torrent of Geonosians, the bug like aliens attacked his men in full. To their credit they stood their ground, firing off blasters til the very last, but they never stood a chance.

Abadeer charged in, dual lightsabers igniting with an angry crimson hiss. He was the commander of these soldiers, and he would show them why. His form turned into a flurry of death. He spun left and right, cutting Geonosians just as fast as they could come at him. Though the Battlemaster was skilled, even the Wrath of Plagueis could not hold back the endless tides of bugs. He tried to move closer to his men, but it was one step forward, two steps back. He gave up trying after the last blaster sound died out.

Abadeer felt a growing ball of hatred inside him, his rage nearing a tipping point. He wasn’t overly attached, but those had been his men that were slaughtered. He would get revenge. The Togruta let out a mighty shout, feeling his rage power his limbs. He pushed back against the onslaught of his enemy. He cut down wave after wave of bugs, but it was not enough. Several minutes into the ambush, Abadeer continued swinging away. His rage fueled his power against the attack ahead of him, but he completely missed out on what came from behind.

Almost in an instant Abadeer had no more targets left to swing at, he looked around seeing fleeing bodies heading into the porous rock, disappearing into the gloom.

“Come back you cowards!” Taasii shouted in his native tongue.

Abadeer’s senses were lowered from his prolonged rage, his sense for danger slowed to much to stop the next assault. He turned seeing a small group of Geonosians in the tunnel he had had his back to. A small canister flew from one of them, exploding at the Proconsul’s feet. A rush of potent gas hit him hard, the affects almost instant. His head was swimming, his senses reeling. He couldn’t keep standing, the cave was spinning, and he fell to his knees. Kneeling on the cold stone floor, Abadeer attempted to maintain his posture, tried to stand back up, but then he knew no more.

Abadeer awoke all too quickly. There was chanting, from all around him, the space he was in now, much bigger than any of the rooms he’d gone through before. He attempted to stand, but his hands were shackled, with the restraints chained to the ground. This was not ideal.

Taasii looked around the get his bearings, there were Geonosians all around him, cheering and clicking. Two entrances to the cave, one fairly normal sized one behind, and a massive, huge entrance before him. Abadeer peered into the darkness ahead, this way was the important way, he was sure of it.

There was a grinding sound coming from the cave ahead. Something was coming closer, something huge. It was heavy, and large, but just out of sight. Abadeer continued to watch, unsure of what was to come. And then he saw it, writhing and huge. It was a massive form, long and wiggling, with what looked like a large Geonosian stuck on the top of it. The form was being pulled in by several workers, a large contraption that allowed this beast to be pulled around. Abadeer looked up in disgust at the gigantic form above him. What had he gotten himself into?

Pinnacle Spaceport

“Kriffing bugs are everywhere!”

Arden shouted as he made for the barricades that were being hastily erected around the perimeter of the Pinnacle. What had began as a simple push into previously unexplored caverns beneath Aliso City to clear out a few old Separatist droids had turned into a full blown maelstrom as the Geonosians revealed themselves. How so many of the aliens had managed to hide undetected beneath the city was a question for another time. At the moment, Plagueis’ forces were being pushed out of the caverns and the city. A line had to be drawn and the spaceport at the base of the Pinnacle was the best place to do it.

Diving out of the way of a volley of greenish sonic blasts, Arden was relieved to see a pair of repeating blaster cannons from the defense perimeter open up on the Genosians flying behind him. As the weapons cut down the insectoid warriors, Arden sprinted the last few meters to the barricades. As he caught his breath, he made a quick survey of the situation. While the immediate area was cleared of enemies, he knew that wasn’t going to last long. A few barricades and defensive emplacements had been brought online and there were a fair number of soldiers present. However most of them had been the same units that had been pushed out of the caverns and were only beginning to reform after taking heavy casualties. It was going to be a tough fight, but that was nothing new to Arden.

Shoving a fresh powerpack into his rifle, Arden looked around for an officer. Finally picking out the form of the Miralin lieutenant from the roof of Hak’s Hideout, Arden made his way over.


“It’s not good sir,” the Lieutenant replied. “We’ve managed to regroup Auresk and Besh companies, but we’ve taken 40% casualties. Supposedly there are reinforcements inbound from the Wrath and Ascendancy but I haven’t heard anything in awhile.”

Arden nodded. “If we don’t hold here, they won’t have anywhere to land anyway. We make a stand, here and now.”

“Here they come!:” A soldier’s shout heralded the raucous buzzing sound of a large number of Genosians approaching on the wing. Arden exhaled through his mask, pulled his rifle, and squeezed the trigger twice,dropping the first two Geonosians to come into view. As a volley sonic blasts smashed into the Plagueian barricade, Arden shouted to the assembled.

“This far, no farther. We must hold this line. Everyone fights, no one quits. If you fail in your duty, I’ll shoot you myself.” There was a momentary pause as the Plagueian forces raised their weapons, Arden uttered one last command.

“Come on you nerfs, do you want to live forever!”

At that, a hail of blaster fire erupted from the Plagueian lines towards the rapidly approaching insectoids who replied in kind. The fighting was intense as the Geonosians swarmed into the area. Arden did his best to get into a good firing position where he could see as much of the battle as possible. This was his kind of fight, lots of targets, a fairly open field of fire, and at least some cover. While they were still outnumbered, the forces of Plagueis were acquitting themselves well. For now the line was holding.

The Pinnacle Command Center

The command center rocked with yet another subterranean detonation that nearly knocked Selika from her feet. The Geonosians were fighting with the kind of reckless abandon that Plagueis was known to employ. The only thing more devoted than an indoctrinated slave was the utter and complete subsumption of the individual to the hive the Geonosians were demonstrating.

The holo-displays painted a picture that was not going well. The Geonosians were coming up from below and doing their best to take the spaceport located at the base of the Pinnacle, and thereby gain access into the Plagueian fortress. Additionally, the tenacious insectoids had pushed most of the Plagueian forces up out of the caves, with sporadic fighting within Aliso City once again.

“We have word from the fleet,” the comm officer reported. “Their reinforcements will be arriving in ten.”

“It won’t be enough,” General Benzayn murmured at Selika’s side.

Selika’s brow furrowed, but she couldn’t disagree. The few thousand troopers that were assigned as marines aboard the fleet would not serve to replace the losses they had already suffered. Something needed to change.

“My lord, we have an incoming signal,” the comm officer said.

“From orbit?” the general inquired.

“No, sir, it’s coming over the internal communication system, I think…”

“You think?” Selika sneered.

“Uh, at least I think so. It looks like it’s entering our system from one of the terminals at the spaceport, but originating elsewhere?”

“Very well, put it up.” ordered Selika.

The holomap that dominated the center of the room was replaced by a flickering, life sized version of three figures: Two Geonosian warriors flanking Abadeer Taasii. Selika’s eyes widened, accompanied by an involuntary sharp intake of breath. The Togruta was bleeding in several places, his armored robes charred and tattered. On his knees, Selika could see that his wrists were chained to the ground by thick manacles.

“My lord,” Abadeer greeted her with the slight bow of her head. “I come to you with a message from the Geonosian Queen.”

Selika’s eyes met those of her senior military commander as both her and the Devaronian’s minds began to evaluate this new information. “Trace that signal,” Benzayn ordered the comm staff.

“She says they have our forces on the run, that we cannot possibly stand against them. As such, she offers you the chance to save your lives. Surrender, unconditionally, and you will be spared to serve the Valneikian Hive.”

Selika studied the hologram of her Wrath, seeing the burning anger behind his eyes as he spoke the words. Some Sith would have thought that he should have chosen death over capture, never allowing himself to be used as a mouthpiece for the enemy. Selika, however, knew better. As long as you were still alive, the possibility of survival was still on the table one should cling to it.

“You have one standard hour to make your decision,” Abadeer concluded, the image winking out only seconds later.

As soon as the holo-display had reverted to the map image, Selika and Benzayn were both whirlwinds of activity.

“Did you get the trace? Good. Transfer that information to the Dread Lord’s datapad. You,” he said, whirling to the operations officer, “I want a squad of the best remaining troopers we have to prepare to move out.”

Selika ordered her own aide to summon three of her best to accompany her underground. The Geonosian queen had committed a major error in revealing her presence, and worse still giving away her position. The Geonosians had simply connected their own comm systems into those of the Pinnacle, and it had allowed the comm techs to discover their queen’s location. Overconfidence, nothing more. Selika knew where and who the true enemy was, and better yet where the head of this particular serpent was. Slice the head from it, and the body that was the hive would fall into chaos.

“General, be ready for my signal,” Selika instructed. “Once I take care of the queen, I want you to execute a counter assault. Without their leader, the Geonosian’s own combative nature will take over. If we’re lucky, they may even tear one another apart before your troopers can exterminate the last of them.”

“If I have to, I’ll bring down the caves on top of them,” Benzayn replied, the hint of a smile on his face.


Tunnels below Aliso City

The quiet of the caves was almost oppressive, but at the same time welcoming. Most of the fighting had moved away from this section of the tunnel system, focusing instead on the Pinnacle. From time to time the strike team could hear the echoes of combat happening elsewhere, but, aside from a few sentries, their progress had been relatively uneventful. The lion’s share of the Plagueian forces were concentrated on the assault on the spaceport, so the Geonosians had done the same with their own. And that suited Selika just fine.

“We’re close, my lord,” the captain leading the detachment of soldiers stated, viewing his wrist mounted display. “Another hundred or so meters down this tunnel.”

Selika nodded. Their chosen point of ingress into the large cavern that housed the queen would be from above. She could already feel the energy of the Geonosians though the Force, their queen dominating the center of the chamber. Alongside was a burning fire of rage that was her Wrath, chafing at his bonds.

As they reached their destination the soldiers began drive their pitons as anchors into the tunnel ceiling, attaching cables with which to make their descent. Selika and the assembled Sith that accompanied her stood in the center of the tunnel, backs to one another, and readied their lightsabers.

“Stick to the plan,” Selika instructed. “The queen is our goal.”

The others with her voiced acknowledgements, and then each of them ignited their lightsabers. Selika thumbed her own weapon on, and then drove it into the ground before her nearly to the hilt. Each of the others followed her lead, then began to carve their blades along the floor around them. Slicing out a circle that left them all standing within, each member of the strike team reached out with their telekinesis as their cut met that started by the person next to them. Now, all that was holding the circular stone plug aloft was their combined Force grasp. At Selika’s signal, they let the stone beneath them drop, slowing its fall as it reached the ground just enough to prevent injury.

The crash of the stone to the cavern floor below scattered the Geonosian soldiers, driving many of them to the ground. The Sith were down from atop the stone and amongst the Geonosians quickly, their blades slashing through the chitinous skin of the enemy. Selika unclipped a second lightsaber hilt from her belt as her eyes sought those of Abadeer Taasii from her raised position. Locking her gaze with that of her Wrath she threw the lightsaber toward him, guiding it just enough with her telekinetic grip to drop it into his hands. The red blade was alight in an instant and slashed through the chains that held him to the floor. The enraged Togruta trust his weapon first left then right, cutting down the two Geonosian guards that flanked him.

The whirring sound of unspooling line sounded from above as the elite soldiers descended into the battle, firing their blaster rifles as they descended. The red bolts contrasted with the green blasts of the Geonosian sonic weapons, painting the cavern walls with dancing lights.

Selika looked to the raised dais to the rear of the cavern that held the corpulent Geonosian Queen, seeing the insectoid ruler screeching at her warriors.

“Stop them! Stop the Jedi!”

Selika stepped down from her own position and began to move towards the queen.

“Hold the doors, captain,” she ordered her soldiers. “We don’t want to be overrun.”

“Yes, my lord,” his voice replied, the electronic amplification of his helmet making it audible over the sound of battle.

Selika moved slowly, but with purpose. Slicing her weapon through the enemy warriors, twisting minds to fire on their own compatriots, and projecting the searing fire of pain into their weak minds. Each step brought her nearer to her quarry, the queen’s shrieks becoming more and more panicked as the glowing violet weapon came ever closer.

Selika cut down the last of the Geonosian warriors that separated her from the queen and launched herself forward with a Force-aided leap to land atop the dais. The queen screamed.

“We will devour you, Jedi! You will slaughter no more of our children, your armies will burn!”

Selika readied her weapon for a slash through the alien’s torso, cutting her in half. Suddenly, as she sensed what was in the queen’s mind, she hesitated. Selika could feel what the queen knew, that even with her death the hive at her command would not falter. Their undirected rage would burn itself across the surface of Aliso, taking the Ascendant Clan with it. Beneath that, however, was fear. Not just the fear of her own demise, which of course was there, but below that was a deeper fear. The fear of the demise of her species. It was then that Selika realized what she had to do.

Moving her weapon, Selika held the blade mere inches from the bulbous egg sack of the last of the Geonosian queens.

“No, you will submit,” Selika commanded.

“Never!” she screeched back. “We may die, but our hive will destroy you! Our warriors will slaughter your kind, and you along with it. You will never leave here alive, Jedi!”

“And then your hive will die,” Selika continued, a dark smile painting her features. “You know that you are the last, that if you die so goes not only your hive, but your entire race.”

The queen’s eyes darted back and forth, searching for answers that remained out of reach. But, she said nothing.

“You will submit to my will, your highness,” Selika commanded. “Or I will finish the genocide the Empire began all those years ago.”

Selika moved her blade even closer to the queen’s skin, close enough that the flesh began to burn with the intense heat.

“You will call me queen,” Selika demanded sharply.

Selika could feel the resignation washing over the proud Geonosian as she realized what she must do.

“All right, Jedi,” the queen hissed, “you shall be Karina.”

Selika nodded, knowing the Geonosian title for the ruling queen. “Your forces will stand down.”

“Yes, Karina,” the queen replied, then launching into the clicking language of her species. Around them, the Geonosian warriors stopped their resistance, the Ascendant Legion soldiers doing the same while keeping their weapons trained on their adversaries.

“Captain,” Selika called, “Get a signal to General Benzayn. If he confirms that the fighting has stopped, tell him to send a detachment down to relieve us here.”

Several hours later
The Pinnacle Command Center

“I don’t like it,” General Benzayn said, slamming his open palm down on the surface of the table for emphasis. “First they’re trying to kill us, now they’re going to be our friends?”

“Come now, general. It’s not that simple, more they will be our somewhat unwilling subjects,” Selika explained. “Not all that different from how the Saraask’ar came to serve us, and they have been a dependable part of our Clan for some years now.”

“Well,” the general continued, “I’m still suspicious of this deal.”

“As you should be,” Abadeer interjected. “As are we all. That doesn’t mean it cannot work for us, however.”

Selika nodded to her assembled military commanders and the Plagueian summit. “Our main guarantee, and our ability to control them, hinges on getting them moved out from beneath the Pinnacle and Aliso City. Once out from under the infrastructure the Clan depends on, Admiral Ranin’s forces can reduce them to slag at the slightest hint of betrayal,” Selika said, gesturing to indicate the commander of the Ascendant Fleet.

“That is accurate,” the naval officer confirmed. “Even if they were to dig in, the main guns on the Ascendency alone would be up to the task. The main battery of the Imperial-class was designed to execute Base Delta Zero orders, after all.”

“Exactly,” Abadeer added. “And they know that we have a hammer hanging above them waiting to smash them into nothing.”

“Their society is also well suited to the sort of overruling queen that the Plagueian Dread Lord would represent,” Selika went on. “On Geonosis before the Clone Wars the queen of the dominant hive ruled over all others, assuming the title of Karina the Great. It seems that the queen of the Valneikian Hive has seen fit to place me in that position of dominance.”

“I can see the benefits to bringing the Geonosians under our control,” Arden relented. “It’s widely believed that they were the work force that built the Emperor’s first Death Star, and their droid foundries were second to none. Adding several million Geonosian workers would exponentially increase our industrial base.”

“Those were my thoughts as well,” Selika went on. “Their industrious nature would also add to our ability to maintain and repair our military machine. I’m sure that General Benzayn and Admiral Ranin would welcome that.”

The Devaronian general snorted. “That would be a benefit,” he seemed to acquiesce. “Right now, our logistics department is stretched to the breaking point. I can’t imagine that the fleet is any better.”

Admiral Ranin nodded in response.

“Good, then it is settled,” Selika concluded. “All that now remains is finding a place to put them.”

Three weeks later
Aliso’s Southern Continent

The view outside the glass nose of the patrol gunship revealed the cloud wrapped stone pillars of the coastal mountain range. The deep canyons on the leeward side of the mountain peaks were stark and dry, speaking to the rain shadow they occupied. The dry, arid climate was about as close to the surface of Geonosis that you could find on Aliso, and had been the focus of a survey mission that had started more than a week before.

Standing behind the pilot’s stations were a trio of Plagueians, all three having acquitted themselves well during the recent battle against their erstwhile enemies. Furios Morega stood behind the pilot with Azmodius Equesinfernum behind the copilot, the tall form of Ronovi Tavisaen standing between them with her head bowed to fit within the cockpit.

“There,” Ronovi signaled, pointing to an outcropping of rock about three quarters of the way up the rock face.

“Looks good,” Furios agreed. “Put us down there, pilot. Let’s see if our new subjects will find this place to their liking.”

Azmodius shook his head, a frustrated scowl framing his features. “It’s as if they’re incapable of being happy with anything,” he grumbled. “Six different possible locations scouted, six rejections.”

Ronovi shrugged her shoulders, as much as she could in the crowded confines of the cockpit. “Never know until we look,” she mused.

The three moved back into the main hold of the repulsorcraft to join the quartet of Geonosians that were flying with them. Three of them looked like the ubiquitous workers while the third had the facial features that marked him as one of the ruling class that served just below the hive queen. As the craft alighted on the flat stone, the Geonosian leader spoke in the clicking language of his species.

“The archduke says that this place may suit their needs,” the accompanying protocol droid translated in it’s prim tones.

“We’ll see if things are as to their liking once we get out,” Ronovi said, taking a pull from the flask that she carried with her. “It’s not like they’ve said the same thing at the last four stops.”

The droid turned to translate to the Geonosians, but Azmodius reached out and held his palm over the droid’s vocoder. “Maybe not,” he instructed.

The droid was still fretting as the Plagueians and Geonosians stepped out onto the rock, immediately being buffeted by the winds blowing through the peaks and canyons. The Geonosians spread out, poking at the rock face and surveying the surrounding area. The Plagueians stood and waited as they had before, Ronovi leaning against the gunship as the other two faced her.

“You’d think that since the Dread Lord had seen fit not to exterminate their species they’d be a bit more eager to show their appreciation,” Furios said sarcastically, cocking his head in the direction of Ronovi’s flask inquiringly.

Ronovi narrowed her eyes and scowled as she appeared to weigh answering yes or no, before finally yielding and handing the vessel to the Quaestor. “I’ve never met an engineer who didn’t get so wrapped up in his work that he wouldn’t’ forget to get out of the way of an avalanche, these insects are no different,” she scoffed.

“Maybe,” Azmodius replied. “But I’d rather not spend the rest of my life on survey duty out here with the creepy crawlers.”

“Ah, the reward for a job well done is getting the special assignments the Dread Lord won’t trust to anyone else,” Furios needled.

Before the conversation could continue, the discussion was interrupted by the excited chittering of the Geonosian survey crew. They were gathered around their leader, nearly jumping from foot to foot with excitement.

“Droid?” Furios spat.

“Oh, my lords,” the droid answered, seemingly distracted by the chatter from the Geonosians. “They are saying the stone here will be perfect for their applications. It seems we have finally located a new home for the Valneikian Hive.”

The droid was almost beaming, and the trio of Plagueians were all equally sure that it would have been smiling widely if it had been physically capable of doing so.

“Well,” Ronovi said while rolling her eyes, “I guess this calls for celebration.”

Her hand shot out and seized the flask back from Furios. The other two looked on with raised eyebrows while she proceeded to drain the contents in a few hearty gulps.

~ FIN ~