Knight Tisto Kingang- #13922
Captain Alethia Archenksova- #14287
Ranger Xantros- #11518
Lieutenant Harold Iode- #14377
Mystic Edgar Drachen- #13831
Ranger Lu`aisha Gresee- #13090
Knight Tisto Kingang- #13922
Year- 39 ABY
The Kiffar sped through the forest, weaving around trees and rocks. His swoop was designed for short, but fast turns, and, much like his bike, he excelled at them. He quickly checked his position, and made a quick right, heading towards the rendezvous point. He had no idea why he was called away from the Knights of Allusis, but he has been told it was urgent.
As he approached the edge of the forest he saw the outline of a large transport. The bulky ship came fully into view as Tisto stopped his swoop bike just outside of the forest, moving forward only due to his inertia. He hopped off his bike, trusting that no one would dare steal the distinctive custom vehicle.
Around the transport were a small group of tents with soldiers bustling around, moving medical supplies and food rations. A big mission. Better be important, I still need to check on the Pride and make sure it’s ready for combat.
The Kiffar made his way to the transport, a soldier approached him. She was of an odd sort, her hair and makeup making her seem more like a trophy wife than a soldier. Tisto paused when he saw her, unsure of what to make of the woman.
“You can only go aboard if you are assigned to this mission,” she said, eyeing him closely.
“Alright then. Here is my authorization. I was assigned to this mission, for whatever reason. I would much rather be leading the Knights of Allusis into battle than going on some silly mission, where I will be confronted on every turn. Now, miss, please let me know where Captain Archenksova is, or, if you would rather stall me further, please tell the Captain Tisto Kingang has arrived,” the swoop savant answered back.
“Ohh,” the soldier replied. “I am sorry, Knight Commander. I just assumed with your leather jacket, your swoop bike and well, your stance and posture you were a… person of questionable purpose. I am Captian Archenksova.”
Tisto sighed, and nodded. “I am sorry for my outburst, captain. Based on the brief report I read, it seems you are in charge. Who else should I be expecting?”
“Considering you are the only one not here early, for whatever reason, I suspect some of your fellow Force-users have sensed you. That should suffice for now, Knight Commander. You will see the team in a minute,” Alethia said with a small hint of superiority in her voice.
“The mission is to eliminate Krath, right?” Tisto replied. “You are going to need us Force-users, and don’t sound so smug. I don’t know where you’re from, but on Nar Shaddaa that is a good way to get yourself killed by your own crew.”
Tisto turned and entered the ship, followed closely behind by the woman out of time. A small group of soldiers, went and began to load the swoop bike into the transport, unsure of what the strange Knight Commander would do if it wasn’t near him. After all, he had even put a subtle threat on their Captain.
There was a slight shudder as the stars began streaking and the transport entered hyperspace. The young pilot glanced over his shoulder, “This course should take us right up to the edge of the Shroud, Captain.”
Archenksova’s eyes narrowed slightly. The Dark Council had gone out of their way to ensure that only the Force could guide a pilot through the Shroud to Antei. She was already out of her element. “Give me ten minute’s notice before we revert to realspace,” Alethia said as she leaned forward and flicked on the ship’s internal comm system. “Attention: Lieutenant Iode and all Jedi are to report to the lounge in fifteen minutes for the mission briefing.”
Alethia arrived to find two of the Jedi already in the lounge, playing one of the card games so typical of long hyperspace voyages. They were an odd pair, to say the least, but hadn’t left each other’s sides since arriving that morning. The woman, Gresee, seemed at once maternal and childlike, with a soft voice that seemed to have a kind word for every person or thing she encountered. Gresee glanced over as Alethia entered, and the former imperial found herself returning the Jedi’s smile despite herself. “We’ll get out of your way in just a moment, Captain.”
In contrast, Gresee’s opponent was too absorbed in his cards to spare any attention for the new entry. Well built and intense, Edgar Drachen was obviously an experienced warrior. “Ha!” he exclaimed, pounding his fist on the table as the card table bleeped. “19! Plus 1,” he added, eagerly tossing down a card from his hand, “makes 20.”
“Do you need any help getting ready?” Gresee asked, absent-mindedly placing a card on the table. Drachen stared at the card for a moment as his head and shoulders sunk. He sighed.
“I’ll need the table in a moment,” Archenksova answered, continuing her walk across the room to a locked cabinet. “But I need to enter the decryption codes into your datapads first.”
The others trickled in. First came Tisto, the kiffar biker who was, Archenksova noticed, on time. Len Iode, a tall, uniformed member of Thrawn’s species, nodded to her as he entered. The green-skinned Duro, Xantros, walked in and looked amused as the woman handed him a datapad with his name neatly written on it.
As the aliens settled in, the captain triggered the holo-projector built into the card table and loaded the briefing. As discreetly as she could, Alethia also slipped a small comms scrambler onto the table where the glare from the projector would hide it. The scanning crew had gone over the ship twice before they left base, but one couldn’t be too careful.
All eyes were on her as Archenksova cleared her throat quietly. “Welcome aboard. We’ll have plenty of time to get familiar with each other, but first I’m sure you would like to know where we’re going.” She gestured to ethereal blue map hovered over the projector. “We are currently en route to the Shroud surround the Antei system. Once we revert to realspace, Knight Commander Kingang will plot us a course directly to the Temple of Tiamat on Antei itself.”
She tapped the surface of the table and the holodisplay flickered to a ominous, pyramidal structure. There was no sign of life. “As some of you may be aware,” Alethia continued, fixing her gaze on Xantros, “the Temple was until recently the headquarters of the Krath Order.” Xantros met her gaze with the same inscrutable smile he had greeted her with. “The Krath were proclaimed heretical by the Grand Master, and those who refused to submit to his will were destroyed. There were, however, some exceptions.”
Archenksova’s manicured fingers drummed slowly on the holotable, cycling through a number of profiles of rebel Krath who had not been accounted for. “The Inquisitorious has reason to believe that the remaining insurgents will rally at the Temple, if they haven’t already. Our mission is to ensure that does not happen, or if it does that it will not pose any threat to Darth Pravus’ interests.” Alethia allowed herself a slight grin. “And before anyone asks, no, we can’t just bombard the site from orbit.
“Once we reach Antei, the KUDF personally, minus myself and Lieutenant Iode, will remain on-board to guard the ship and secure our exit. As the ranking Jedi, Ranger Gresee will be in operational command while we’re in the Temple. The datapad I’ve given you contains a personal message from Consul Kituri and what little intelligence SeNet has managed to scrape together about the Temple.”
The motley assembly of Jedi looked grim but determined. Alethia had wondered initially if this mission was merely a pretense for the summit to clean house. Drachen aside, the team was a biker thug, a medic, a pacifist, a junior officer, and a woman who had just spent thirty years in stasis, heading into a hornet’s nest of unidentified nature on behalf of a man who wanted their entire clan dead. On the face of it, the odds were not in their favor. But seeing them all together now, the assignment seemed strangely feasible.
Xantros remained silent for a while, thinking. It was definitely going to be an interesting mission. The team was assembled to face his former comrades, the Krath, who were considered by Grand Master Darth Pravus as the Undesirables at present.
The Duros looked around and smiled politely. He did not actually have any questions at the moment, however expected others to be more interested in the details of their mission. In order to make them discuss eagerly, he jumped out as the first to express his doubts, “Yes, I have a question. Why can’t we drive the Undesirables back to the stone age with orbital bombardment?”
Alethia immediately answered him, “I have been told that the option of planetary bombardment will fail, as the site is protected somehow. I have not been given any further details, but I am more than eager to believe, what I was told.”
Xantros nodded, satisfied with the answer which he received for his question. He looked around to see if there was anyone with a question, but his clanmates seemed busy with the current information in their datapad,. He decided to do the same thing, familiarizing himself with the available intel notes. Just in a few minutes later, he heard Edgar Drachen commenting, “It has really little intelligence. I guess that we do not know much more than we had known before.”
“It’s still better than nothing,” replied Xantros, while not stopping to read the intel. “Though the data does not provide us with much knowledge about our enemy and the security measures of the Tiamat Temple, you forget that I am a former Krath. When I was one of them, I had access to some areas of the temple and still I can tell you more both about the complex and our enemy. Just in case, if you are interested.”
Edgar didn’t take too long to think about the Duros’ offer.
“Yes, your insight will be extremely valuable on this mission, but the fact still remains that there is little intelligence on this Temple,” Drachen said with clear frustration in his voice,”and here we are going in without knowing the full strength of the enemy.”.
Just as he was about to continue, his protege interrupted,“Sir, the pilot said we were nearing the Antei system and we should be there within the hour.”
“Thanks, Len.Oh, please set up the common area for, I guess, a quick briefing of the temple by Xantros,” Edgar looked at the Duros,” if that is ok with you, of course.”
The Duros agreed and quickly took the young lieutenant to the common area to get things prepared. The mystic took a moment to reflect on the situation and thought to himself. I’d hate to have brought Len on this questionable mission but there is no way he’d learn how to deal with real life danger back on New Tython. After this he will be ready to face his final trials as a journeyman.
Just as Edgar was discussing tactics on the other side of the ship Captain Alethia was being questioned by the Disciple of Bass’ leader, Gresee. “You do realize, Captain, that we don’t need to slaughter all the Krath in the Temple. We can force them to surrender but cutting off their connection to the Force.”
“She is correct, you know,” said the scar Edgar. “They are innocent in all of these, but to any non Force-users? I don’t see a problem with eliminating them at all”.
“No!” the normally soft spoken Battle Team leader said forcefully. “There is never a reason to just kill indiscriminately. As you just said there are more innocents down there than hostiles so we should try to save as many as we ….”
”The Krath will not share you desire for mercy, Ranger,” Archenksova said, cutting her off. “And insurgents are more than capable of harming the Brotherhood’s interests without resorting to magic. This is war, not a diplomatic mission.”
As the conversation began to heat up, the intercom crackled to life, “Attention strike team members: we will be reaching the Antei system shortly. Please come to the common area for a quick briefing about our target. That is all!”
After the briefing, Len Iode had gone to inform the soldiers under his command for this mission: what they were to do to assist the main team. As he was reading the orders he stopped when he noticed something odd about the plan.
Hitting the nearest com-panel he called in, “Master Drachen, please.” A few clicks and a voice came through.
With a sigh it said, “Mystic Drachen at your service, no, I don’t do birthdays”
Len cracked a smile. “Sir, it’s Iode, I have something you might want to take a look at, bring the rest of the team down to the lower briefing room.”
Len relaxed in his chair, soaking up the comfort the ship offered. He knew the next several days would be rough and extremely dangerous. This was his first time off of New Tython since he joined the Brotherhood. Slowly and cautiously, he withdrew his blaster pistol from its holster. He had two old Imperial Scout Trooper blaster pistols, each upgraded with newer optics and an increased power cell, but for now he only carried one. They were his adoptive father’s blasters given to him, 7 years ago before he left for to become an intelligence officer.
Xantros looked over Len’s shoulder, “Some very old weapons, Lieutenant.”
Len’s eyebrow raised, “I didn’t think you were into weapons, sir. Old, but effective. They are one of my prized possessions and I don’t have many of those.”
“A well picked weapon. I hope we do not have to use it and can reason with them,” the Duros replied calmly.
The Chiss re-holstered his pistol, shocked by what the Ranger had said. Peace with heretics that have repeatedly attacked us?
“Let your mind be still Lieutenant, all will be clear to you on the ground,” Xantros grinned evilly.
Edgar Drachen entered the room followed by Gresee, Captain Archenksova, and Tisto. “You said you noticed something something about the defences of the complex, Len.”
“Thanks, Master,” Len started nervously. It always took him a few moments to get used to talking to people, especially non-Chiss and non-Humans.
“As Edgar mentioned - I mean Master Drachen - I found an issue with our plan as it stands,” Len looked around. All eyes were on him, “Landing our ship is going to be extremely difficult due to the same interference that won’t let us bombard from orbit.”
Tisto interrupted, “I can try to find a clear path down, shouldn’t be to hard.”
Iode nodded, “No disrespect intended, sir, but this isn’t just about pilot ability.”He clicked on the holoprojector, much smaller than the one in the main briefing room but it would work just as well. The light blue image laid out the old images of the complex with five areas highlighted by red dots.“This is from the Central Database on New Tython. The areas marked in red indicate potential locations of anti-aircraft.”
“Potential?” Edgar looked quizzically at his student, “As in we cannot confirm this?”
“No, sir, we cannot,” the Chiss replied, “but there is a possibility of it being true. According to the database, several components for AA weapons went missing after the Grand Master let some of the Krath free.
“Nice of the Inquisitorius to let us know,” Captain Archenksova mumbled.
“I have calculated the AA range to be somewhere on the order of 30 km in all directions. Which would put us at risk of being discovered before reaching the Temple,” Len smiled, “But I have found a solution to this, drop pods.”
“Drop pods? This ship isn’t equipped with them.” Alethia thought for a moment, “but we could modify one or two of the escape pods.”
“I could find the best drop site for them,” Tisto smiled.
“Let’s go there,” Gresee concluded, “We don’t have much time to…” Her words weren’t finished as the Gallofree transport that carried those Odanites banked sharply, followed with a zig-zag maneuver.
“What the hell is going on?” Alethia asked exasperatedly.
Gresee sprinted to the nearby window, as then she looked at several red plasmas blown in the air. “They are shooting at us!”
“I’ll help to shoot them back!” Tisto shouted and ran to the gunner’s station.
“I’ll help too,” Edgar followed in the Knight of Allusis Leader’s direction, “What weapons do we have?”
“A couple of turrets and a laser canon,” Len shouted following behind, “I hope they’re functional.”
“Hope?!?” Alethia asked in disbelief.
“We borrowed this transport,” Xantros explained.
An explosion occurred at the back of the ship, everyone could feel the effect. Glasses fell and shattered, and the alarms were blaring.
Xantros, Gresee and Alethia ran to the cockpit to know more about the situation.
“What’s the situation?” Gresee asked hurriedly.
“We got hit,” the pilot reported, “The port power core suffered severe damage.”
“Emergency landing…,” Xantros mumbled
“What did you say?” Gresee turned her look to the Duros.
“We cannot fly with this damage, Ma’am. We land shortly or else we’ll crash,” the pilot continued.
“I do have bad feelings about this,” Xantros said, this time more clearly.
Gresee nodded and ordered, ”Try to find the safest place to land… as best as you can.”
The transport decreased its altitude, trying to approach the landing field. A strange noise came from the engine, as the pilot tried whatever he could to land the transport safely. It hit the ground twice before the pilot said, this time in hoarse voice, “We’ve landed.”
“Not a bad emergency landing,” Alethia commented.
Gresee looked at the cockpit window, and saw a grassy field. “Are we far from our target?”
“Let me see,” Xantros evaluated the coordinate screen and close his eyes, ”no.”
“Then we should split into two teams: one to repair the engine and the other to complete our task. I’ll stay with the ship.”
”You have to come with us, you’re the field medic,” Edgar said determinedly.
”But who will do the repair thing?” Gresee asked.
”I will handle that, Ma’am,” the pilot said and left the cockpit as soon as he saw Gresee’s nod of agreement.
”Right, ”Gresee took a deep breath, ”the ship problem is being handled, however it needs to be safe when we go after our target. Yeah, glad we have some military crew aboard with us to guard the ship.”
“We need to establish a perimeter around the ship,” Len said, “I can set that up.”
Gresee nodded, “Take some of the crew along with the detachment. Don’t let anyone through.”
Len nodded in reply and went to leave when Edgar stopped him, “When you’re finished establishing a line, join up with us to go after the Krath base.”
“Of course,” Len smiled, “I wouldn’t miss this fight for the world.”
Grabbing what members of the crew who weren’t from the engineering department and knew how to shoot blasters, Len issued them blasters from the ship’s armory and brought them outside. He placed them in a circle around the ship, each person 20 meters from the other behind pieces of the ship that had blown off or behind natural terrain. He gave them orders to not let anyone through.
As he returned to the smoking hull of the ship, Len hoped to the Force that his plan would work. Walking into the damaged briefing room that, due to the crash, was now at a slight angle.
Len reported to his superiors, “Everyone’s in place. They should be entrenched enough to hold the ship until we return.”
“Good work,” Captain Archenksova smiled, “Now we can get to work taking down this cell.”
Xantros held up a portable holoprojector, “Right, we are three kilometers from the temple. Our best choice is to attempt to hit the weak point identified in their line and…”
An explosion rocked the ship.
“That didn’t hit the ship,” Tisto observed.
“They must be going after the perimeter!” Edgar said as he moved to the emergency hatch.
The four made it to the egress ramp just in time for the next deafening explosion. With a blinding flash, a chunk of ground three meters across was blasted apart.
“The temple!” one of the troopers scream. A hateful purple energy writhed around the apex of the temple, lashing out at the few clouds that were nearby.
“We have to get to that temple!” shouted over the roaring of the skies. Tisto nodded once before turning to run back up the ramp into the ship, Iode on his heels.
“Do you hear that?” Gresee said, running back over to her comrades by the ship. “Some sort of chanting.”
Just then, the Fforce from the temple’s summit began to arc, and lashed out at the intruders. There was a flash, then the noise and the shockwave. When their eyes readjusted, pieces of perimeter guard smouldered before them. The chanting grew louder, and dozens slavering red beasts stood before them. Almost three meters tall and all muscle, the monsters sported long black talons and wicked teeth.
“Massassi,” Xantros said quietly to himself. “This isn’t right.”
“No kidding,” Drachen replied over the snap-hiss of his crimson lightsabers. “That’s not nearly enough of them.” By the time Gresee’s saber was ignited and Archenksova’s pistol raised, the knight had already launched himself forward, bounding clear over the heads of two KUDF soldiers and into the fray.
“Fire!” Alethia shouted, scurrying up the ramp to fire from the protection of the ship’s entrance. Her blaster bolts, like those of the troopers, found their mark - but against so many creatures of such size, it wasn’t going to be enough. Drachen’s sabers fared better. The knight was a whirlwind, flashing between from one opponent to strike the next before the first could hit the ground.
Lu’aisha Gresee saw one of the massassi break through and charge her. She readied her saber, falling into a low stance that would allow her to slip out of the beast’s path while cutting away at its legs.
“Aisha, don’t,” Xantros said, calmly. His face wore his usual enigmatic smile.
Gresee glanced back at the massassi, its feet thundering against the ground as it raised its arm to strike. The Jedi had no doubts that those claws could end her. She tensed herself, waiting for the moment to strike.
“Aisha, you need to trust me,” Xantros pleaded, the smile gone from his face.
The beast was nearly at her. Lu’aisha Gresee turned off her lightsaber and closed her eyes. She could hear the massassi, smell it, feel the rush of air as it rushed upon her. Then there was nothing.
“It vanished!” Archenksova gasped. Across the field, Drachen’s sabers cut through empty air. The only sound was the purred of swoops as Tisto and Len shot out of the cargo bay into the battle that never was.
“Illusions,” Gresee murmured, relaxing from her battle stance.
Edgar spat into the dust. “I should have known.”
“Harmless enough at first,” Xantros said, turning his smile to Alethia. “But the hate and fear of battle would have only given them strength. This was our first test.”
The lightning burst forth from the temple against, ripping through the air to strike Xantros in the back - but leaving him unharmed after the flash and roar.
“Nothing here is as it seems.”
“No, it’s not!” snapped Drachen “We have been kept in the dark for the majority of this mission and now it seems that something or someone is testing us.”
As the mystic sheathed his sabers and collected himself, Captain Archenksova was checking in with the team to make sure everyone was ok. Once done, Edgar looked over at Lu’aisha, smiled and nodded his head as a sign of quiet honor and respect for her ability to quickly see through the illusions and prevent any harm coming to anyone on the team.
Before they could exchange any meaningful words the young lieutenant got everyone’s attention when he exclaimed “Ktah! Captain, something is not right. I’m getting immense power readings from the temple. It appears that this is no mere outpost. It appears to be a refugee camp. Sir, our orders are to exterminate the Kraith enemy at the temple and leave no one alive, but this… this…“
“Will be a slaughter,” the Duros responded. “It appears the reason the Dark Council left us in the dark was to prevent us from realizing the true nature of this mission was far darker than any of us would have agreed to in the first place.”
“Speak for yourself, Krath!” the young Mystic said to the shock of all present. We still have a job to do and these are all still are enemies that must be dealt with. And that’s exactly what we will do.Captain, you and the lieutenant redeploy the troops to an overwatch position on the hill on the western side of the Temple. Once they are in place and have given us the intel we need, we will deal with the Kraith as our orders intend!”
Everyone stood staring at Edgar, so shocked that such words were forcefully thrown from his mouth that they were dumbstruck until he spoke again. “CAPTAIN! Get your men on the hill! I’m sick of being used as the Dark Council’s puppet I want to know exactly who is in that temple, what their capabilities are and if need be the most efficient way to exterminate every single threat in that temple!”
The wind picked up and was the only sound.
“Yes, Master,” Len replied taking the comlink from Alethia’s hand, “Teams Two and Four advance to the ridge. Stop just below the crest and crawl the rest of the way up. Take up listening post/observation post and report back every five minutes.”
Two “yes sir’s” came back from the commlink as Len returned it to Alethia.
Attempting to snap everyone back, Alethia replied, “Edgar is right, we need to find out what we’re really up against in this fight. The scouts won’t shoot unless engaged.”
“We understand the concern,” Len added, “but we have to plan just in case those ‘refugees’ aren’t refugees at all.”
Xantros closed his eyes, “I sense something. It isn’t clear though.”
“When is it ever clear?” Archenksova shot back.
Everyone fell to the ground as another blast of purple lightning struck the ground just behind the group.
Tisto wiped off some dirt from his face, “That was close.”
“A little too close if you ask me,” Gresee replied as she rose to a knee, “anyone hurt?”
Everyone shook their heads. There was a meter wide crater where the bolt impacted. Edgar crouch walked over to the crater and touched it.
“The lightning is definitely real,” he let the dirt fall from his fingers, “so there are some powerful Dark Side practitioners here.”
The comlink crackled. A stunned voice, “Sir, they’re gone. All of them. The women, the children all of them. Gone like puffs of smoke.”
Archenksova brought the comlink in front of her, “Stay in position report any changes.”
“This is really starting to frustrate me,” Edgar sighed, “The longer we’re here, the more I can’t wait to get off this rock.”