The Nutty Professors
Warden Sanguinius Tsucyra Entar (#10407)
Adept Macron Goura Sadow (#4856)
Mystic Marcus Kiriyu (#10602)
Mystic Darkblade (#13897)
Augur Cethgus Tiberius Entar (#6705)
Yeoman Qyreia Arronen (#14369)
The Nutty Professors
Warden Sanguinius Tsucyra Entar (#10407)
Adept Macron Goura Sadow (#4856)
Mystic Marcus Kiriyu (#10602)
Mystic Darkblade (#13897)
Augur Cethgus Tiberius Entar (#6705)
Yeoman Qyreia Arronen (#14369)
The Jagged Star
En-route to Antei System (Hyperspace)
Sanguinius stood, staring out of the viewscreen. Blurred stars filled the screen as The Jagged Star sped towards their destination. The Quaestor had been tasked with leading a strike team of Inquisitors to Antei to kill off any survivors of Pravus’ purge. The Entar had no such intention of doing the vicious deed, but would use this opportunity to raid the Shadow Academy, gather information and rescue any survivors.
The Anaxsi had gathered many of his former and current compatriots of the Shadow Academy, those who had served and still served as Professors. Four of them sat in the passenger bay. The mad Alchemist, Macron Goura, who had fought the Jedi during the recent Sadowan civil war read a holopad. The two had since made up and fought alongside each other against the recent incursion into the Orian System.
The Jedi’s former Master, Cethgus, sat quietly, glaring at the man opposite him. The Iridonian had still not forgiven Marcus for his betrayal of the Clan during the Sadowan civil war. The Epicanthix had taken a serious beating from the Proconsul in the aftermath. Only the presence of the Warden had saved the life of the Rollmaster. Marcus simply stared into space, his gaze focused on a patch of wall to the right of Cethgus’ head.
Darkblade, who had recently departed Naga Sadow to serve as Aedile in Plagueis smiled, enjoying the tension in the air between the two Sadowans. He had heard of Sanguinius’ mission and had begged the Jedi to allow him to accompany him. The Defender had allowed the Mystic to do so, their shared history in Marka Ragnos meant that the Quaestor knew how far he could trust the Anzat.
The final member of their party had not worked on Lyspair. The Zeltron mercenary, Qyreia, had been scouted by Sanguinius. The Yeoman had accepted the Jedi’s offer to pilot the transport after the Entar had pulled strings with the Dakhani’s Quaestor, Keira Viru.
A beeping drew Sanguinius’ attention. Qyreia’s experienced hands moved over the console, silencing the siren. “Two minutes until we hit Antei, Quaestor.” the Zeltron’s smooth voice warned Sanguinius.
“Thanks, Qyreia.” Sanguinius moved out of the cockpit and vaulted down the stairs into the passenger compartment. “Heads up, two minutes until we hit Antei. Buckle up, gents.”
The Jagged Star
En-route to Antei System (Hyperspace)
Qyreia continued to pilot the Decimator towards Antei’s surface as the crew of the transport chatted. Always ready with a quip, she was not impressed with how the ship handled. “This scow’s more top heavy than a fat Trandoshan hooker,” muttered the Zeltron. “Totally nerfed. Handles like a greased-up Corellian walrus.”
“Could be,” replied Marcus as the Rollmaster stood up and sat down beside her in the secondary cockpit chair to get away from Cethgus’ cold eyes. “Still, she’s super tough for a little beastie. And still better than a Theta shuttle for a potential hot zone. Ever been to Antei?”
“I haven’t for long, no. The Antei programs were mostly shut down by the time I was hired on. Lots of the SA was farmed out by then or done on mobile ships.” She checked her readouts. “Drop your clocks and grab your socks, gentlemen. We hit paydirt in one minute.”
Darkblade continued to eyeball Qyreia from behind her in the cargo area. The Anzati had a thing for feeding on Journeymen and he had yet to have a Zeltron. The Aedile wondered if their pheromones and penchant for addictive behavior would be as tasty as he imagined. If not there were sure to be more meals to be had among the “undesirables” below.
Cethgus brooded as he stared out the window at the approaching planetary surface. He was here to keep an eye on Marcus as much as anything. The Proconsul had been to Antei many times over his long career in the Brotherhood. If this mission bothered him, he kept his own counsel on it. This party was an odd mix: himself as a Grey Jedi Obelisk adherent, a Jedi, a Merc, a Krath adherent, and an insane Sith. It promised to be interesting at the least.
“What do you make of this situation?” Macron quietly asked Sanguinius as the Jedi turned his eyes from the viewscreen. “I was here when the Vong invaded and I’ve spent a lot of time here as both student and teacher. This place holds a lot of memories for me. Some good, some… not so much.”
The Anaxsi frowned and stroked his chin. “I don’t like it. I have no intentions of killing the innocent. Although I doubt that concerns you overly much. I’d imagine you’re ready to serve the Grandmaster and wreak havoc as a Chief Inquisitor. Aside from the notorious bloodthirst of the Sith in general.”
“Actually,” the madman grinned. “Actually, I agree with you this once Jedi. I find the thought of eliminating persons once loyal to the Iron Throne distasteful. Not that I care about the act itself as I rather enjoy bloody combat, but these were loyal soldiers, scholars, and servants who deserve more respect than that. It’s a waste of valuable resources- them. And personally I’m more interested in salvaging whatever lore and equipment we can get our appendages on.”
“Ironically I’m not surprised,” replied Sanguinius as he too smiled. “That’s a relief. We are not so different Macron. Many have an even bleaker view of the Sith after Palpatine’s atrocities and rightfully so. Still, there may be hope for you yet.”
“Don’t misunderstand me,” chuckled the madman. “Anyone that comes against us as hostile will be eliminated either by myself or the others.” The Adept gestured at the rest of the crew. “Talented folks, every one. We just have to keep tentacle-nose over there from snacking on our pilot.”
The Jagged Star
En-route to Lyspair
The Zeltron rolled her eyes at the banter happening not too far away. “‘Our pilot’ can take care of herself, but thanks you for the consideration.” She turned her head toward the Anzat. “Hear that, Hutt-humper? Keep your face-straws to yourself.” She turned back to her controls, “Dropping into atmo in three, two, one…”
The rumble of compressed air burned against the shields and sent a mild shudder through the ship as it hurtled toward their destination. As soon as they broke the thermosphere, Qyreia shunted the throttle forward and broke some of their speed off in a wide banking maneuver that brought them into view of the cliffs upon which sat the iconic Shadow Academy.
“Could you make this ride a little less bumpy?” Kiriyu asked sternly from the seat beside her.
“Calm your mammaries! This thing isn’t exactly aerodynamic ya know!” Letting the vessel drop its altitude just a little more, she was able to skirt the tops of the surrounding ridge-lines and land on a small shelf just outside of the Academy, none the worse for wear. “Gentlemen, we have arrived at our destination and would like to thank you for flying Air-Q. You can kiss my boots over it later.”
“Just open the door so we can get out of this death trap,” Kiriyu said only half-jokingly.
“Alright, alright, keep your pants on.” She pressed the control for the landing ramp. “There, ramp’s down. Let’s go save some aliens from certain doom.”
“Couldn’t have said it better myself," Sanguinius said as he led the team out of the ship and toward the walls of the Academy proper. His eyes scanned the parapets of the defenses encircling the structure. “Good thing the towers haven’t been armed yet.”
“That, or our IFF saved us from going kablooey,” the Zeltron pointed out. “Not that it makes me feel any better.”
The group’s atmosphere seemed to chill, and the mercenary took that as her signal to stop talking. As they passed through the gates, Darkblade eased closer to Qyreia, prompting her to grip her carbine a little more tightly. An icy glare kept him at arm’s reach, but she wondered how long that would work. Note to self, she thought, don’t get caught alone with this guy. Once in the main courtyard, they came across a group of what appeared to be soldiers, though dressed in what could only be described as Inquisitorius colors. Their sergeant halted the group and demanded their identification, which the lead Jedi provided.
“To what do we owe your presence, Chief Inquisitor?”
“I am here to deal with the undesirables that the Grand Master had ordered eliminated.”
“We already have a team inside, sir. No need for you to dirty your hands, though we appreciate the offer to help.” They tried to convince the guards several more times, but to no avail, each attempt becoming little more than circular rhetoric.
The Jedi’s mouth eventually curled into a scowl, his eyes turning toward the followers to either side of him. That was enough. With a flourish, the Force users’ lightsabers came to life while the mercenary brought her carbine to her shoulder and started firing. A stun round brought down one of the guards while Cethgus and Macron subdued their opponents with invisible force via a simple outreach of their hands. Sanguinius, with almost superhuman speed, advanced on and knocked out the troopers to his front, while Darkblade dispatched of the final target by shrouding him in a cloak of pitch black and simply walking up to him to finish the job.
The fight was over in mere seconds. Some, surely, hoped that this would be the extent of the difficulty of their encounters.
Darkblade couldn’t help but wonder what riches would lay inside the Shadow Academy. Long had he waited to get his hands on the hidden knowledge but there had never been an opportunity to seize it without the risk of getting caught. And now here they were, off on a so called mission to save the “undesirables”. Pravus was out of his mind for issuing a massive genocide of already rare resources. However, not to sit idly by the Anzat was quite happy to tag along with his former clanmates. Deep down inside he missed the camaraderie he had shared with them just weeks ago. Plagueis had a more darker atmosphere and did not seem to look kindly on outsiders.
The bonus to this mission was a non Force user whom he had heard of before departing to Plagueis. Stealing a glance towards her the Anzat could not help but feel attracted to her, yet he did not quite understand why. The quick witted and snappy remarks made him chuckle, although he felt anger bubble up when she had called him a “Hutt-humper”. Having drifted off in thoughts he was pulled back to reality when he realized the team was staring at him. “Seems like the dreamer here is thinking awfully much about you Qyreia.” Marcus quipped, smiling at the former Sadowan and turning to give the female Zeltron a knowing look. Cethgus grunted, “We shouldn’t be wasting time. Let’s get in, finish our objectives and get back out. I don’t plan on staying here forever.”
As the Zabrak strolled out ahead of the group to lead the way, everyone fell in line and quickly made their way across the grounds to the Shadow Academy’s entrance. Sanguinius slipped alongside Darkblade, “I’ve seen that look before, the same look you gave Tasha before falling to your beastial instincts. I allowed it then, due to the certain circumstances at that time. Do not think I or anyone else will allow it again. You are no longer a clan member, and we will not hesitate to kill you this time Darkblade.” Macron “the mad”, as Darkblade had dubbed him, having heard the conversation giggled slightly. “It is true, I would love to have an Anzat in my labs. I wouldnt kill you just yet. I’ve never had one of your kind before. I wonder how long you would last under my hands.” the Elder murmured. The Seeker swallowed slightly before acknowledging the threat.
As the Shadow Academy loomed over them, the tension of the group seemed to increase. “Keep your eyes open. I hate surprises, especially the people that bring them.” Cethgus growled. The doors the Academy swung open. The carnage that met their eyes was something far worse than any of them had ever expected.
Shadow Academy interior
Dead bodies littered the once majestic halls of the Academy, the atmosphere that once thrummed with whispers of power now replaced by a odor that could only be described as fetid. Students and teachers dotted the floor and draped the walls as cold, dead abominations of death. The sight of this much senseless death didn’t leave the group untouched, as nearly all of them recoiled for a moment.
Cethgus’ stern expression twitched slightly as the seriousness of the situation hit him fully, and Sanguinius had to grab hold of Darkblade’s shoulder to steady himself. Even though he was used to the Dark Side surrounding him at every turn, the sheer evil of what lay before them gave even the seasoned Jedi pause. Darkblade’s cringed his nose at the odor, his appetite instantly evaporated, and Qyreia merely stood there with her mouth wide open, incredulous look on her face. Marcus’ face was bereft of the joy he had felt moments earlier when he mocked Darkblade, his expression replaced with a dark look that simply noted that there were no more jokes. Even Macron, who had never had an issue with these sort of things, had stopped smiling.
“This, this isn’t happening,” Marcus stammered, breathlessly. “Pravus has gone mad.” The initial shock of all those murdered students in the halls was wearing off, slowly replaced with a cold fury.
“Believe it,” Sanguinius’ words pulled them all back from there momentary stupor, the Jedi having already steeled his mind against what lay before them. “Now come on, we have to get to the sub-levels so we can find those that are hiding. Nothing can be done for these poor beings.”
The group picked up the pace and followed Sang as he picked a path though the corpses. Twice they had to duck into an abandoned classroom, narrowly avoiding a patrol of loyalists. Sang insisted they not engage in needless fighting, and although his decision was met with resistance by the dark-siders of the group, they obeyed without too much noise.
Qyreia had been uncharacteristically quiet as they sneaked through the halls towards their goal; the anterior access into the Academy’s catacombs. Macron dropped back a little so he was walking evenly with the lithe Zeltron.
“Are you okay little one?” he inquired in hushed tones. “Is the sight of this much death unsettling you?”
Shadow Academy Interior
Qyreia responded. “Not really. I’ve seen worse. I mean, not as many, but worse. Ever seen one of your friend’s bodies spill out of the cockpit of a blown-out freighter bulkhead? And then they get… compacted as they exit the breach? That’s pretty sobering.” She turned quietly towards the space in front of them all. ‘Don’t pander to me, Sith.” The Zeltron busied herself with her comlink and sensor readouts.
Macron stood silently for a second or two. “Yes, I understand. I… have, actually. I’ve seen far worse than that, and unfortunately had a hand in doing it. I used Violator flesh-melting gas on Milmefia on Antei during the struggles by my superior’s orders. I regret that to this day. It killed our enemies, sure but it also ate some of our friends.”
“Seriously?” asked Sanguinius as he overheard. “You are a murderer with weapons of mass destruction? Am I hearing this correctly?” The Jedi looked agitated and a bit disgusted. Some things were not recorded or widely available in the common history banks. ‘We will discuss this later.”
“I am,” murmured the Sith Adept silently. “I will not lie. I’m truly sorry.”
“Cut him some slack, I’ve seen the orders from the Obelisk High Commander at the time.” Marcus shrugged. “Orders from the DC. They authorized the strike. Anyway, let’s get on with it.” The Krath adherent checked his senses and his data-link. “I think we have a sub-level chute up ahead.”
Cethgus spoke up sternly. He had been relatively quiet, and the Zabrak had been watching Marcus like a hawk until now. His cunning experience shone through. ‘It’s been entirely too easy so far. Let’s put this discussion aside.” He gestured towards a closed side-tunnel. “This is our ingress.” The Augur worked his fingers across the hatch. “Right here.”
“Right,” Qyreia quipped. “Drama is over. Let’s get busy.” She braced her blaster. “Okay, who is going down there first? I’m not- and I’m covering you. Come on ladies, time’s a wastin’.”
“I will go,” came Sanguinius’ voice. The Jedi were ever brave and noble. “I am at peace. The Force is with me.”
“I will follow,” commented Macron quietly. “It’s the least I can do.”
The portal was opened quietly by Qyreia and Marcus as they used vibro-tools. The searing sounds of lightsabers would surely alert the loyalist patrols. using the Force would alert others, and so the lot fell to mundane methods.
“Level three, chips, drips, cables, zips,” whispered Qyreia. “Come on down.”
The Iridonian watched the team moving through the side tunnel, it was mundane and almost humiliating for the Augur to see the members of the Brotherhood creeping around in the darkness to avoid conflict. Though the descent was quick and easy for the majority of the team, it was becoming clear to them that this mission would be more evading than direct conflict. Every small noise was magnified to Cethgus, the deathly silence of the tomblike Shadow Academy was getting to him. It was pretty clear to him that the whole site was littered with corpses, innocents murdered on Pravus’ orders and executed by the Headmaster, supposedly their guardian. The ultimate betrayal.
The Proconsul knew that each individual within his team was there for their own agenda, he was yet unsure what exactly would happen, or if anyone would betray their mission. His past experience with Marcus left him mistrustful of the Epicanthix, but the Zabrak had not lived this long without planning for surprises from the others.
Sanguinius led the way, his eyes squinting in the gloom, unable to rely on a light source or the Force to aid them in case it alerted others who would challenge the group. The Entar paused, gesturing for the party to stop as they neared an access hatch along the tunnel. Brushing his hand against the hatch, the Anaxsi read the number etched on it. He turned his head up to look at Marcus, who had a dimmed datapad and whispered. “Access hatch number 309A2.”
Marcus rummaged in his pockets, retrieving the miniature computer and tapped away at the datapad. “Third level, should let us out into a corridor leading to the library and the solitude cells.”
The Warden nodded in understanding, the solitude cells were small rooms where students went to study in peace. He pointed at the hatch, “This one.” and began moving further down the tunnel, allowing Marcus to access the lock. A few scant seconds later and the Mystic swung the door open and carefully climbed through. Sanguinius and the others followed after him.
Cethgus grunted in annoyance at their slow pace. The noise was like an old memory for Sang, who remembered countless times in their shared history that the Iridonian had made that sound. He chuckled silently to himself and allowed himself a smile, despite the death and destruction that surrounded them. The Jedi nodded to his right, gesturing in their new direction. The library, with its treasure troves of knowledge awaited them.
Shadow Academy Interior
Time seemed warped in the tunnels infused with the rancorous energies of the Dark side, even for a mundane like their Zeltron companion. Despite the repeatedly failed machinations of Darkblade to eat her “soup,” her attention was spurned more by the seconds that passed by like minutes; minutes like hours; and so on. We need to move faster, she thought. At this rate, we’re not going to save anyone but ourselves. The mercenary wove through the group, bumping past the brooding Cethgus as she came up alongside the taller Entar.
“Something on your mind?”
“We’re going too slow,” she half-hissed as her frustration crept into her quieted voice. “Won’t be anyone left to save if we keep this pace.”
“Don’t be too hasty, Yeoman Arronen. That’s the fastest way to an early grave.” The dull wump of a blaster discharge steeled the Jedi’s expression.
“Fast enough for ya?”
Without a second thought, she burst ahead and hit the door controls, slipping through the gap before the thick hatch was even fully opened. Somewhere in the background the rest of her group was rushing to catch up, but for a brief moment she was alone, staring down the executioners. Two bodies already lay at their feet, while a sobbing line of beaten creatures knelt in a line, awaiting their own fates.
Qyreia was not a particularly large in stature, like Marcus or Sanguinius, or naturally intimidating like Cethgus, Macron, or Darkblade. Yet the expression of unadulterated hatred for these beings that would call themselves protectors of the Brotherhood seemed to chill the blood of more than a few as the Zeltron raised her carbine. Her targets were still; the range, short. The nearest handful didn’t stand a chance.
The Force users were not far behind, pouring forth from the door and flowing around the mercenary like water - a wave of flesh, steel, and energy that tore into the Inquisitorius troops. Macron was first to close, foregoing restraint as Qyreia had, felling his targets with practiced brutality. The leadership of Clan Naga Sadow - Cethgus, Marcus, and Sang - showed more reservation at outright violence, still trying to subdue their targets rather than slaughter. Darkblade was tasked with flanking around, as he had brought up the rear, to cut off any escape.
When all was said and done, the ionized air filtered back to normal atmosphere, every Inquisitorius member was either subdued or dead, and a dozen-plus Undesirables squatted wide-eyed at their saviors. While the Force users that were more interested in the knowledge walked away, the mercenary made a quick pass of seeing to any debilitating hurts. It was a good distraction from the disappointed stare of their Jedi leader.
Shadow Academy Interior
Sanguinius watched the young Zeltron, his eyes narrowed as he studied her. He was disappointed in her disobeying his orders, yet he could not deny that he appreciated her candour. Her attitude was refreshing compared to those of the Sith of Naga Sadow.
He turned away from the Yeoman to look at the poor unfortunates that the Inquisitorius troops had captured. The party had been too late to save two of them, but the others were in various states of despair. They had been left to fend for themselves in the destruction of the institution that had existed to protect them, to train them and to provide them with knowledge.
Macron stood nearby, his eyes drawn to the dregs kneeling on the floor. Sanguinius nodded towards the Adept, “These aren’t new test subjects for you, Macron.” The Warden warned, half joking, half serious.
The Alchemist ignored the jest, studying the datapad in his hand. “Some of these readings are anomalous. I fear they’re infected with something, it would explain why they’re in such a poor state and easily subdued.”
“If you say so, Goura. I’m more inclined to the lack of food, water and the threat of death hanging over their head.” The Anaxsi responded.
The two Jedi continued their bickering as Marcus, Darkblade and Cethgus stalked through the library, ensuring that there was no one else in the cavernous room. The two Mystics had not worked for the Shadow Academy very long, Marcus himself had never even stepped foot in his own classroom. Sanguinius had brought the Epicanthix along to give him the opportunity to see what happens when those in a position of responsibility failed their charges. The Jedi hoped that the Rollmaster would learn this lesson dearly and continue to protect those under his care.
Shadow Academy Interior
There was no one else in the room, aside from his team and the refugees. Marcus was sure, he would’ve been able to sense them otherwise. He slowly paced past the stacks filled with dusty old books, taking in the magnificence of the architecture around them. The intricate carvings of the stone structure seemed to reach out to him, radiating with the Force. He had been here before, when he first found the Brotherhood, but the beauty that was now apparent to him had been lost on him.
Some of the stacks had already been looted, others had suffered damage, likely from bombardments. One of the tomes attracted his attention and when he opened it, it struck him that the details of the information inside was so perfectly preserved. He was used to the digital access system that they currently used.
“Amazing,” he mumbled.
“Did you say something Marcus,” Darkblade called from a few stacks over, who was equally interested in the old tomes of information that had been left by the original Academy staff. Apparently he had no interest in searching the library for enemies that weren’t there, either.
“No, just talking to myself. Found anything?”
“Not really. But the amount of information here is staggering, and the quality is amazing.”
Marcus grinned to himself. “That’s exactly what I was thinking, makes you wonder why we even left this behind.”
“Well duh, because all these books would be almost impossible to move,” a female voice said right behind Marcus. The latter spun around, hand halfway to his weapon, only to discover Qyreia leaning back against one of the stacks, a cheeky smirk on her face.
“Distracted, Kiriyu? Or just a little jumpy?”
Growling something unintelligible Marcus moved to turn around, to get back to his book when a high-pitched whine cut through the silence of the hall. A pair of red plasma bolts impacted into a shimmering wall of energy, centimeters from their heads. The barrier Marcus had thrown up reflexively shattered moments after impact.
“In the name of,” Qyreia started as her weapon flew from her hip and pointed at the source of the bolt, but her voice was drowned out by the activation of Marcus’ lightsaber as the corridor was bathed in it’s deep purple light.
“You okay?” the Equite asked the young Zeltron. The only reply he got were two bolts streaking past his head. He smiled to himself, she was fine.
Across from them, high above the main floor, a dozen hostiles had snuck onto the upper floor and were now taking up position around the library. Their group and their rescuees were pinned down and in the middle of a killbox.
Two lightsabers flared to life ahead of him, their owners leaping over the railings down to where the duo was standing. Marcus’ mouth curled into an evil smirk.
“What the hell are you smiling about, Kiriyu,” Qyreia demanded angrily.
“I know this doesn’t mean much to you, but Darkblade’s hidden from my senses. This’ll be fun, stay close.”
Shadow Academy Interior
Darkblade had instinctively concealed himself from the Force when he heard the first bolts impact upon Marcus’ barrier. He heard Marcus ignite his saber and Qyreia was already firing away. The Anzat couldn’t see exactly what was going on as several stacks of books obscured his vision. As he snuck around to the left of the Rollmaster and the Mercenary, he saw two hostile Force users that looked extremely alike each other. Both wore dark brown robes, one with hair as white as snow, falling to just below the shoulders and blue eyes that showed no sign of remorse, the other with jet black hair that signified a military cut and dark red eyes. No visible insignia or other significant markings on their robes or skin showed their allegiance. Their red blades bearing the same saber hilt signified that they were indeed twins of some sort. Their species Darkblade could not quite identify.
Undeterred, the Zeltron kept firing away, cursing as the two opponents deflected the oncoming shots with ease. Darkblade looked towards where the other members of his team were supposed to be, but saw only the mad scientist. It seemed that Macron was unencumbered and was focused on keeping the detainees from escaping and mending their wounds as much as possible. He noticed the Anzat’s gaze and slightly nodded towards him. Darkblade grinned back, acknowledging the fact that Macron would sit this one out. This was unusual for the Sith but he felt that the team could handle this easily without having to interfere himself.
Cethgus was nowhere to be seen, the elusive Zabrak hopefully making his way to the upper floors to dispatch the troops firing down on them. The presence of Sang was keenly felt yet Darkblade could not pinpoint his location exactly. He could only guess that the Quaestor was making his way towards Marcus and Qyreia, most likely to provide aid.
Books were incinerated as the blaster bolts rained down on them from above, shelves exploded and the library was quickly turned into a snowstorm of half burnt and torn pages. The lack of respect for the knowledge that was now being destroyed angered the former Sadowan. As the two enemy Force users came into combat range they gave Marcus the battle of his life. Whilst a formidable and terrifying savage combatant, the Epicanthix had trouble dealing with both of the enemies, despite Qyreia able to fire a constant salvo of bolts with her A280C blaster rifle.
“I need to find cover.” she yelled towards the Rollmaster. As she started to head back towards a large pillar, she was struck a glancing blow from a blaster bolt from above in her shoulder. Falling to the ground clutching her left shoulder, she growled. Getting back on her knees in a crouching position she was able to grab her pistol and fire off rounds with her right hand, her aim still steady and true. However, now an immobile target, she was easy pickings unless something was done quickly. Marcus was beginning to give ground and it wouldn’t be long before his opponents would wear him down. The hum and familiar sounds of a lightsaber battle seemed to intensify as the fight reached its climax.
Darkblade was conflicted on whether to jump in and help his former Rollmaster and clan member. With Qyreia slightly wounded it would only be too easy to rush to her “aid” and remove her to safety, whilst setting up the opportune moment to have just a small taste of her “soup”. Overcoming his hunger momentarily, the Anzat reached out with his hand and summoned the Force.
Lightning arced towards the white haired twin and the Aedile felt sure he would score a direct hit. Out of nowhere a second lightsaber appeared in the hand of the twin as he was in a saber lock with Marcus. With his hand behind his back and seemingly unfazed he easily absorbed the attack with his second saber and swiftly disengaged with the Epicanthix. The black haired twin kept the Mystic engaged whilst his other half stalked towards Darkblade, both blades dragging along the ground lazily behind him, leaving deep scorched marks in the floor. “I should have eaten the bloody merc.” Darkblade cursed to himself.
Shadow Academy Interior
Sanguinius made his way to Darkblade’s position in the nick of time. As the twin dragged his blades along carelessly, the Anaxsi tisk-tisked. “Wasteful,” commented the Jedi as he raised his own set of now-ignited verdant blades. His mastery of Soresu proved skillful as he stopped the frustrated white-haired Twin in his tracks. The Twin’s bloodshine blades crashed against his own in a fit of uncontrolled rage. The Dark Jedi screamed in anger at the Quaestor as the Warden marshalled his own defense.
“There is no fear…” whispered the Sentinel as he deflected a hacking blow with a shriek of popping sparks. The Force was with him. His mind remained calm and impassive as he maneuvered for an advantage. It was blow against blow, the pure brutality of Shii-cho against the defensive grace of Soresu. Two blades green and two scarlet wove together and split apart illuminating the fallen stacks of ancient books and hoary tomes with flashes of sputtering light. They appeared evenly matched, but this was a deception. Sanguinius was merely biding his time, letting his foe wear himself out before striking at the perfect moment.
Meanwhile, Qyreia did her best to provide fire support. Even though she was injured, the Zeltron gritted her teeth against the pain and hammered blaster bolts one-handed with a blaster pistol in her right hand. Her shoulder burned and she was immobile. Nonetheless the merecenary crouched behind her cover and continued to fight. “Buncha Hutt-humpers,” she snarled between clenched teeth. “Dirty sons of dianogas!” One shot picked off one of the mezzanine assailants with a shot to his neck. The bolt tore out the human’s throat and he fell down onto the stacks of smouldering books below with a meaty thud. “Gotcha, you slimy cable-sucker." Not too far away another group of troopers with a yellow lightsaber wielding Force-user of some sort began to move towards her as she reloaded an e-clip. She snarled in pain as reloading required two hands and her shoulder blazed in agony. This was a bad tactical situation. “Some help over here!”
Darkblade moved to reinforce Marcus. Sanguinius had tied up the white-haired twin behind them and now they could double-team the saber-wielding black haired Twin. Between Marcus and Darkblade the black-haired Twin began to rapidly lose ground in a reversal of earlier fortunes. The Dark Jedi and Grey Jedi worked as a team. Each would in turn flank so the other could move forward. Both used purple lightsabers, one the color of amethyst and the other a lighter violet. Their opponent’s twin blades of red blocked each in turn but the Twin was slowing. Makashi ripostes and lunges married with Niman sweeps and the Twin began to show fear as he realized he was not long for this world.
Above them all Cethugus had gone to work up on the mezzanine layer. The no-nonsense Zabrak dove his azure and emerald blades ahead in a vicious, ripping Shien assault. He was deadly serious and eschewed the quips that many of his compatriots often used in such situations. As Qyreia’s bolt splashed the throat out of one of the assailants ahead of him, he hit their group from the side as their attention went elsewhere. A heavy book-case made of Wroshyrr wood flew ahead of him to pin two blaster-toting troopers. The grizzled Marauder leaped on top of it and struck the hands from a third trooper causing her to lose her rifle and scream in pain. The firing from the upper layer ground to a halt shortly thereafter.
As the battle raged around them all Macron injected each of the disease victims with an anti-viral in quick succession. “I don’t have the equipment to cure you here my friends,” giggled the madman. “Heh heh. Mynock Fever. Not surprising considering all the asteroids about in this system. Still, the anti-viral inoculation will hold you until you can get proper medical assistance.”
“I thought Jedi could cure such things?” asked one elderly man wearing the robes of a librarian. “Even so I thank you.”
“Some can,” replied the Alchemist as he stood up. “However I am no Jedi. Using the Force in that manner is something I and many Sith in general have little skill with. You were once loyal servants of the Iron Throne and should be treated with respect. You will remain hidden here under these cases until this conflict is resolved shortly.”
“Yes.” The elderly librarian seemed to be an impromptu leader of the bedraggled group. “I thought all Sith were evil killers. You surprise me with your kindness.”
“Bah, you sound like Sanguinius.” He gestured at the Jedi Sentinel still engaged in heated lightsaber combat across the room. “Do not mistake my help for weakness,” growled the Juggernaut as he stood up. “You are valuable resources and have information we require. Stay alive.” The Adept had heard Qyreia’s shout and now moved to intercept her oncoming attackers with a menacing laugh from under his helm. Killing was much more his style and he had missed all the fun up until now. “Showtime! Hahaha!”
Cethgus was in the heat of combat and his focus was already at its peak. His blades killing without mercy or without shame, the sound of combat continued to echo around everyone. It seemed that they had to clear out what approached before they could once more seek their goal. With Macron marching around into anyone’s and everyone’s fray, the combat was soon under control with everyone finding themselves in a quieter room than before. It was obvious that things were going to be harder than they thought at first. The raucous raised would easily attract attention from others within the Shadow Academy.
The Iridonian allowed his eyes to scan around the damage that he had created, the troops dead and no longer a concern for him he allowed his eyes to once more check for anything of use. Though the others seemed to be working well together they took their time making a mess of the situation. However, the Iridonian saw his chance and marched forward making sure to keep the pace of the action going he wandered down the twisting corridors of the academy leaving the others to fend for themselves.
Sanguinius had broken the sole remaining twin, casting him down and destroying his lightsaber when the raging Sith had exhausted himself against the Sentinel’s cast iron defence. “How many more of you are there?” Sanguinius whispered to himself, his concern at the deaths piling up would attract more attention than the group could handle. He was well aware that the former One Sith Elder, Dantella Novae, had been sighted on Lyspair recently.
With the last man taken care of, the others began to regroup and make sure that they were all in one piece still. It seemed that everyone had managed to come out of the fight in one piece. Sang was already aware that his master was heading elsewhere. A small sigh escaped his lips; the group had to continue their mission regardless of setbacks. The former prisoners would be escorted by the group to ensure their safety.
Macron returned to his charges, carefully checking to ensure the inoculations were working. The Adept gave the Quaestor a strange look, his eyes studying the Jedi. The words of the elderly librarian had reminded him that Sanguinius was always misjudging him.
Shadow Academy Interior
Sanguinius realized that time was running short, and they would need to bring the current survivors to safety. With the past battle however brief it was, it wasted their time and only alerted the loyalists. It wouldn’t be long before they would either be pinned down or destroyed by the enemy forces, branded as traitors. “Can we move the people to safety Macron?” the Quaestor asked. “Move them?” the mad scientist giggled slightly. “We can always move them Sang.With the proper motivation however they will move themselves.” the Adept grinned.
Sang called the team together and all except Cethgus were present. Marcus and Darkblade breathing heavily as they regained their composure from the battle just moments ago. Qyreia walked past them and looked towards Macron. “Oi, can you stitch me up? Damn lucky they hit me. Even more lucky that blasted Zabrak got them before I did.” the Zeltron quipped. Macron smiled wryly and beckoned her over so he could examine her.
Darkblade and Marcus had caught their breath and were ushered by Sang to round up the “undesirables” and ensure they could all move. Everyone needed to move out now, and everyone was ready to go except for Cethgus. The Proconsul was nowhere to be found, yet the Quaestor had good idea of where he was headed. There would be no need to wait up for him, as he could find his way back to them easily once he had what he wanted.
“Alright let’s move, we got a lot of ground to cover with this many people. Qyreia, Macron and I will take the front, Darkblade and Marcus protect the rear and make sure that damned Zabrak finds his way to us.” The Warden said. As everyone lined up in single file, they slowly started to creep back through the library towards where their ship was. The tension ran high in the group, as the success of their mission depended on the survival of their rescued fellow brethren.
Shadow Academy Interior
The group moved slowly through the hallways they had traversed earlier, with Qyreia, Sang and Macron taking the lead and Darkblade and Marcus bringing up the rear. Even though their pace wasn’t quick, the smaller ones, a few youngsters that had been with the group, were having trouble keeping up and were falling further and further behind. Taking pity on them, Darkblade scooped two of them up into his arms and dumped them into Marcus’ embrace.
“Here, you carry these two, I’ll carry the other,” he grinned at the stupefied face of his former Rollmaster.
Clearly not at ease, the Dark Jedi took their weight with relative easy and scowled at the two younglings now in his arms. The look that was returned conveyed both fear and gratitude, mostly the latter. As they crept through the passages, under the guidance of the dynamic trio of two Jedi and the talkative Merc, Darkblade and Marcus exchanged whispered banter.
“Why did you have to pick these kids up anyway,” Marcus growled. “They have legs, they can walk.”
“Come Marcus, do not be your usual self. We are here to rescue these people of a greater evil than you can conjure,” Darkblade replied, a tiny smile playing around his lips.
“What’s gotten into you all of a sudden?” Marcus remarked, arching an eyebrow. “Usually you’re all about sucking someone’s brains out first, huggy feely later.”
Darkblade merely kept smiling as he turned his attention to the group in front. Marcus on the other hand felt like his insides were a part of a great storm. There was something about these kids, apart from the danger they were in, that touched something inside him that he did not want to admit to just yet. Just then, one of the little ones in his arms squeezed its little arms around his waist, looking for more safety. Are you freaking kidding me right now?! COME ON! Darkblade merely chuckled, the look on Marcus’s face had betrayed him.
They arrived at cross-section, stopping momentarily while Macron, Sang and Qyreia got their bearings. Something felt off, the entire group was on edge because of it. They should’ve run into some kind of resistance now, there was no way that no one knew about their entry and their inevitable need for escape.
Shadow Academy Interior
Gone were the quips and commentary of their entry into the Shadow Academy, their voices largely soured into silence as they made their way back through the halls, rescued persons in tow. Sanguinius’ hard expression had only grown colder, his eyes wary for another ambush in the dark corridors. It was not without reason, as their new charges were in poor condition, even after Macron’s medical care, and were not the most stealthy of companions. More than once, Qyreia fell back to help pick up one of the fevered individuals off the ground. The Jedi were more useful in the close confines anyway; her blasters would only be good for the initial attack.
The one good thing that likely any of them found from the situation was the Anzat’s separation from their mercenary. With tensions as high as they were, the jokes and near-threats of eating the Zeltron’s “soup” could quickly turn dangerous, if not deadly. Best to keep the pair apart. The trio in the front heard some murmurs from the pair in the rear, but nothing they felt of particular note.
Walking through the grotesque scenes on the return trip was no better than on their ingress, and the fevered individuals had to be calmed or coerced into silence on more than one occasion. At one point, Marcus moved to assist the Yeoman in recovering the falling refugees, but was sternly told to keep watching the rear. Qyreia’s shoulder still burned deep down, despite Macron’s attentions, and her temper was short - controlled, but short nonetheless. The fetid air was also growing ripe with the thickening stench of the dead, which did little to help their moods.
“Kriffing rat mother-frackers…” the Zeltron mumbled.
“Calm yourself, Arronen,” Sang said quietly so as not to disturb the others. “I appreciate your candor, but I would rather you not go off half-cocked as in the Library.”
Whatever you say, Quastor," she grumbled, shifting her carbine’s weight. “I’m going to scout ahead; make sure everything’s clear. At least if there’s an ambush, they’ll only get the jump on me instead of everyone.”
The Jedi nodded in assent and the mercenary quickened her pace, Macron looking on with mild interest. That guy’s face gives me the creeps, she thought, but not nearly as bad as face-straws back there. The first several intersections were clear, allowing her to extend her distance from the group, eventually falling out of eyesight entirely. It seemed odd that their presence had not garnered a greater response. Perhaps their reinforcements were further inside and the thick walls had kept their shots from being heard.
Regardless of the why, Qyreia felt relieved to get some space to herself, even if the reek still pervaded throughout the entire complex. The air cleared somewhat when she reached the main hall, the entry gate still ajar as they had found it when they entered. Leather boots scuffed softly over the floor as she slunk across the expanse, warily checking the corners while she maintained as much cover for herself as she could.
“The things I’d give for a personal shield,” she whispered to herself with a wry grin.
By the time she reached the gate, the others had appeared at the far end of the hall, and still on edge by the way they moved. The mercenary beckoned them forward with a wave as she scanned the plaza outside. No movement. Good. Or bad, if there’s any stealthy buggers out there. A nod from her allies told her to check outside, which she did quickly, gliding through the door and taking several low, cautious steps before dashing to the far end where more cover - and their ship - awaited.
“Not bad,” Macron said, “when she’s not crying from a measly blaster wound.”
“Perhaps you would like to test your resolve against her weapon?” Sang joked, evoking an amused huff from the Juggernaut.
“Maybe, when we no longer have to be concerned for our pilot’s gray-matter.”
Non-Force user or no, the Zeltron could see the amusement on the Jedi’s face as they crossed the field that separated the Academy from their ship. She waited only long enough for them to reach her position before dashing off to start up the ship’s engines. I hope that Proconsul hurries up. We’re out of the stink, but something still feels wrong here.
Cethgus wandered the halls as he felt himself approaching the others, he had located what he come to the Shadow Academy for, obtained it and now would make his escape. It had been about 20 minutes since he had left the group. The Zabrak rounded another corridor, his saber hilts gripped firmly in his hands, paranoia preparing him for anything that may occur. His mind was filled with thoughts of the future, what awaited the Clan and himself. It had been a while since he had been pushed into these situation. His eyes glancing around the opening that he came to, it looked deserted with ruined pillars smashed apart, with old books scattered amongst the rubble lying on the ground. It was a shame to see this place of learning destroyed, but the past could not be changed
Hearing voices, Cethgus ducked into a groove to avoid being spotted, his common sense encouraging him to avoid fighting when he was alone. It seemed that despite the gutting the Shadow Academy had already received by treasure hunters, there was always someone else eager to find the next great secret. Arguing voices travelled down the corridor, it seemed that they were upset that there was nothing worthwhile in that room. It was clear to the Proconsul that he had to meet up with the group quickly. Seeking the peaceful presence of his student in the Force, Cethgus sprinted through the corridor, sure in the knowledge that it was only a matter of time before he would regroup with the team.
A broken section of wall afforded Cethgus the view of his team outside the Academy. The Augur grinned and pushed himself through the hole. The Zabrak landed with a thud on the ground outside and pushed himself up off his knee. He sprinted towards the group, his prize hidden beneath his robes.
Sanguinius merely nodded a greeting at his fellow Entar, unsurprised by his disappearance. He could guess why his master had vanished and hoped that he had gotten what he was after. The Jedi was pleased to have saved several innocents from death, but was also glad that the knowledge he seeked was found.
“Qyreia, get us out of here.” the Warden ordered over his comlink.
A slight figure in a off-white hooded robe stepped out from behind a pillar in the plaza, their face masked in shadow. A waifish voice echoed through the dead air, “It seems that we have some traitors in our midst.” the voice broke off into giggles. Almost as if she was mad.
The Warden stiffened, his hand instantly on his lightsaber hilt. The hilt was raised, the viridian blade igniting to cast a greenish hue over him. “We don’t have time for this!” he shouted.
Macron grinned, the voices calling to him. For this was someone who challenged him for his very existence. The right to be called the top Alchemist of the Brotherhood. “I do!” he roared and charged towards the Umbaran.
Shadow Academy Exterior
“Oh, for crying out loud!” Sanguinius exclaimed, annoyed at Macron’s recklessness. Qyreia had wasted no time in powering up the shuttle engines. The machinery roared, pushing super heated air towards the ground as it began to rise up.
Marcus and Darkblade bustled the rescued souls into the craft, before jumping in after them. The pair were smart enough to avoid a fight with a hostile Elder. Marcus shouted down to the three remaining Sadowans. “WE NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE!”
Sanguinius shouted back irascibly, “I BLOODY WELL KNOW!” his usually calm temperament interrupted by the sudden appearance of the Umbaran. Already, lightsabers clashed as Macron and Dantella tested each other, duelling back and forth.
Cethgus looked at the two Elders then at the hovering shuttle then back at the fight. He laughed, shrugged and sprinted towards the duellists. Sanguinius sighed in exasperation, knowing full well that his master would not have done anything else.
The Jedi watched as the Iridonian collided with the Sorcerer, his twin blades smashing through her defence and opening her up to a swift bout of force lightning from Macron’s outstretched hand. Dantella screeched in agony as the electricity coruscated throughout her body. She shuddered as her nerves misfired, distracting her as Macron and Cethgus circled her.
Blaster fire erupted from the ruins as Inquisitorius troopers opened fire on the Augur and the Adept. Macron and Cethgus whirled around in surprise, their lightsabers deflecting errant bolts that came too near. The troopers kept their aim loose, seeking to distract the pair and allow Novae to escape.
Sanguinius watched as the two retreated from where the Elder lay on the floor, dodging blaster fire. Ingrained muscle memory kept the pair safe as they reached the shuttle. Qyreia activated the point defence system, two rotating blaster cannons dropping down out of the hull to fire at the advancing troopers.
Macron seethed at not being able to kill his enemy; he had felt put to one side after the Horizons virus. His intelligence and guile no longer seemed to be valued by the Dark Council who now utilised new assets. Cethgus simply smiled, pleased by his prize and the opportunity to cross blades with an Elder. The Defender keyed his ear piece, relaying information to the rest of the team. “We’re compromised, people. They know our faces. Macron and Cethgus are too damn well known to talk our way out of this.”
Darkblade responded, “I think the rest of us are safe if we get out of here now.”
“Yeah, yeah!” retorted the Warden.
Blaster fire splattered the hull of the shuttle as the Inquisitorious troopers congregated upon the traitorous Force Users. Sanguinius ignited his lightsaber and swept it in an arc, intersecting the plasma bolts. Cethgus and Macron leapt into the shuttle, slipping into the darkness of the hold.
Sanguinius stood alone, the Jedi watching as Dantella rose from the ground and their eyes fixed upon one another, neither one daring to break the connection. The Warden grimaced, annoyed that their foray into the Shadow Academy had ended badly. This would cause a massive headache for Locke to deal with in regards to Pravus.
The Quaestor saluted the Umbaran and jumped into the shuttle, aided by the Force. Qyreia gunned the engines and rose further into the sky. “Take us home, Arronen.” Sanguinius ordered as Macron scowled and muttered to himself and Cethgus withdrew a holocron from his robes.
“You got it, boss.” the Zeltron replied, eager to escape the firefight. The shuttle sped into the atmosphere as TIE Fighters swooped after them, called in by the Inquisitorius platoon leader.
The shuttle shook as plasma bolts impacted upon the hull, Qyreia’s hands darted across the dashboard, charting a course that would take them to several locations, dropping Darkblade off at their original meeting point before taking them back to the Orian System. The blackness of space turned into streaks of light as the shuttle went into hyperspace.
Sang looked over his team. They would have some explaining to do when they got back to Sepros.