This is our runon thread for Unchained Malady: Turning the Tables
Current team members:
My (Locke’s) first post will follow.
This is our runon thread for Unchained Malady: Turning the Tables
Current team members:
My (Locke’s) first post will follow.
Locke remembered the last time he had stepped foot on the Skyhook. The Arcanist had been Aedile of Shar Dakhan; what felt like an age ago. Then the skyhook had disappeared, taken from Sadowan space. Now it was back, and Locke still did not know what secrets it held. Yet it must have held something, for these upstart Sith Unchained wanted it, and that was alarming enough that high ranking members of both Taldryan and Naga Sadow were being tasked with defending it.
“Remember,” Locke said as he stared at it through the view port of his ship, the Gemini Alpha, “don’t crash my ship.”
Locke was not the pilot he once was, so he had purchased a pilot droid. Right now, the droid was assisted by Appius Wight, a member of Clan Taldryan and an individual Locke only somewhat trusted. They had met up once before and had needed to watch each other’s backs in that instance, and it had gone well.
“Don’t worry, we’re only flying through a space battle,” Appius responded with a hint of teasing in his voice. Locke ignored it.
“They seem otherwise engaged.” The other occupant of the ship said. Sanguinius Tsucyra Entar was someone Locke trusted deeply. He was sure that Sang would be reliable - as long as their goals aligned. They both knew that this event could either prove disastrous for their aims or very beneficial - some ambitious Sith aspirant of Sadow could die in the crossfire; or dark secrets could be uncovered, sealed away deeply inside the skyhook’s vaults.
They had not, however, discussed it in front of their Taldryan compatriot, and Locke was not sure how much he wanted to let on about their side goals.
“True,” he said. It was true. The Taldryan and Unchained fleets were engaging each other in earnest, and only small forces remained around Marakith. Locke did have to admire how Appius deftly weaved the assault ship through the fight, while the pilot droid Wrex handled one of the ship’s laser turrets, taking shots at any craft that paid them too much attention.
“Remember, bring the ship into an exposed hangar. Then Wrex will take over. We’ll jump out and he’ll pull off and keep the ship as close as safely possible while we’re in there,” he said, restating the plan as if they hadn’t gone over it already.
It didn’t take long before Marakith loomed in front of them and Locke remembered how truly large it was. “Access codes?” he said, not taking his eyes off it.
“Got them,” Sang said. “Transmitting now.”
It was pretty handy to have the current Aedile of Shar Dakhan on this mission. Locke wondered just how high up Sang’s clearance would go.
Ahead of them, a hangar blast door slid open, revealing a small shuttle hangar. It didn’t seem to be occupied, but it was likely the Unchained had skipped over it during their attack. The Decimator slid easily through it’s forcefield and hovered in place a couple of meters off the surface.
“Alright Wrex, you take over. Let’s move!” Locke declared.
The trio surged through the Decimator, as the access door to the ship lowered for them to disembark. Sanguinius went first, his lightsaber igniting as he passed the threshold of the vessel, prepared for incoming blaster fire from hidden opponents.
Nothing met them as the group exited the ship. They jumped off the ramp and landed deftly on the hangar floor. Locke waved towards the cockpit windows, and the ramp retreated quickly, leaving the access door closed.
The Decimator whirled around and fled the shuttle hangar, leaving the three Dark Jedi alone.
“Clearly, these Unchained have yet to take this hangar bay.” Sanguinius remarked.
Appius and Locke looked at each other and shrugged in response. “Let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth,” Appius responded.
The Entar nodded and deactivated his lightsaber, as there was no need for it. “Of course, this way,” he gestured towards the hangar bay exit. “My codes should give us access to the main Skyhook.”
Locke and Appius started to jog towards the exit, closely followed by Sanguinius. As they reached the access pad, the door remained closed and locked. A quick tapping of keys allowed the light denoting the locked door to turn from red to green, informing the trio that it was now unlocked.
“Remember,” Sanguinius instructed, “Our mission is to recover control of the Skyhook, not destroy it.”
“Thank you for the reminder, Sang…” Locke drawled, “However would we forget that?”
Appius wryly smiled, and pressed the key to let the door slide open. “Come on then, let’s get this over with.”
What’s the worst that can happen? Appius mused to himself as the two layer thick durasteel blast doors slid open with the grinding of steel on steel.
No sooner had the thought entered the Taldryanite’s mind before the Force alarmed him of incoming danger. The sound of an igniting weapon brought the Appius’ attention to an Iktotchi brandishing a crimson-bladed lightsaber in each hand. The dark-sided being leapt towards the three Brotherhood members with reckless abandon, using the Force to increase his speed and agility.
“LOOK OUT!” Locke exclaimed, stretching out with his right hand. The Arcanist channeled the Force through him and summoned a torrent of energy which blasted the Itkotchi in his face, sending the Unchained Sith careening back down the hallway. To his credit, the Sith back-flipped and skidded across the floor with cat-like grace and balance. Suddenly, a swarm of red-coloured troopers appeared to either side from the adjacent hallways, much to the chagrin of Appius, Sang and Locke.
“There they are!”
Locke engaged them before they had a chance to open fire. The House Marka Ragnos Aedile reached out with the Force like a tether and wrapped it around the closest trooper to him. The red-clad Sith trooper soared towards the blonde-haired Augur as the Sadowan activated his twin bladed lightsaber. Golden-yellow blades diced up the unfortunate soldier as his body parts scattered behind them.
Appius and Sang followed suit and activated their own weapons as bolts of red plasma soared towards them. The Taldryanite kept the blades of his saberstaff close to his body as he focused on redirecting blaster fire away from them. However, with the Taldryanite preoccupied, the Itkotchi took the opportunity to attack the heavily armoured Human whilst he was preoccupied.
Luckily for Appius, Sang was aware of the incoming strike. The Defender tensed and closed his eyes for a second, but that was all the Shadow Academy Professor needed. The Iktotchi slashed ferociously with the lightsaber in his left hand, only for the attack to bounce off of what felt like a force field in front of him.
“Big mistake,” Appius claimed.
The Mandalorian Force user sensed his opportunity and plunged his saberstaff into the Sith’s gut before he could compose himself. The Unchained Force user gasped as he took his last breath, falling to the ground shortly afterwards. Sang winced disapprovingly, but decided to ignore the slaughter for the moment.
With the Sith dead, the three Brotherhood members were able to quickly dispatch the small strike force meant to greet them, with Locke taking the charge against them.
“Perhaps we shouldn’t have killed them,” Sang mused to himself, sheathing his weapon. “They could have been a vital source of information.”
“He would have stopped at nothing to kill us. The Unchained care little for mercy, no matter how much you show them. I would highly recommend you stop being so soft. They are the enemy, and they’d torture you, break you into tiny piecee, pulverise you, and everyone you care about over and over again if it got them what they wanted.”
“It was only a suggestion. No need to get so touchy,” Sang retorted.
“Enough. Both of you,” Locke thankfully interrupted before things got too heated. “I don’t know if either of you realized, but they caught us by surprise. I didn’t sense any of them. Did you two?”
Sang and Appius glanced at each other, the Sadowan being the first to answer.
“No,” Sang said.
“Me neither,” Appius answered.
“They must be concealing themselves in the Force,” Locke reasoned as he bit his lip. “We could be walking into a trap.”
This complicates things. The Aedile thought to himself.
“Well, I suppose there’s only one thing for it,” Appius said, garnering the attention of both Sadowans.
“And what’s that?” Sang inquired. Unbeknownst to both Sadowans, Appius smirked slightly behind his visor.
“It’s simple. We spring the trap,” the Mandalorian answered, setting off down one of the hallways.
The trio made their way toward Marakith’s bridge, encountering little further resistance as they continued deeper into the skyhook.
“This is odd,” Locke said. “I don’t like it.” He stopped for a moment. There was no sound except for the others’ footsteps echoing off the corridor walls. “We should have encountered more resistance.”
Sang checked his datapad. “And we are still on the most direct route to the bridge. It should be just around the corner. When will this trap spring?”
“Maybe they hope to ambush us as we arrive; just when we’ve let our guard down the most,” Appius added. He stepped forward. “Come on, let’s find out.”
Sang stepped forward, past Appius and around the corner. The others followed, finding the corridor empty. At the other end, several meters away, was the large blast door to the bridge.
As they slowly approached it, the massive blast doors quietly slipped open with a hiss, revealing the bridge inside. In the distance, Locke could see across the structure, its star destroyer-styled view windows contained distant bursts of light, representing explosions in the now distant battle for control of Aeotheran.
“I think this is that trap you said we should spring,” Locke muttered.
For his part, Appius stepped into the bridge. Locke and Sang were close behind him, not wanting a member of their party to be cut off from the others.
The door slid shut behind them and Locke heard the distinct click of it’s lock mechanism engaging.
Then a moment of silence passed, and he heard multiple lightsabers ignite.
He heard someone curse low under his breath, but was not sure if it was Appius or Sang: “Sithspit!”
Locke turned his head from one side to the other, taking in the image of their new friends. He briefly wondered if Appius recognized any of them, though the Sadowan himself did not. He quickly looked them over: two Iktotchi stood ahead of them, one with a saberstaff and the other holding two lightsabers. A Rodian stood off to one side, holding a single lightsaber, and Locke saw a human to the other side, himself with a single lightsaber. All had crimson blades which Locke assumed came from synthetic crystals.
As he began formulating a plan, Appius stepped forward. “I’ll keep the Iktotchi busy, you two deal with the others. Then we can take them down together.”
“I’ll take the human then. Don’t kill them; they’ll be a valuable source of intel.”
Appius laughed as he stepped forward “as if I’ll have the chance.”
“Guess I get the Rodian,” Locke said wryly. He turned toward the diminutive green alien, igniting one sunfire blade as he approached.
The Rodian gibbered something in what Locke presumed to be the language of its species, or some other alien tongue.
“I’ll bet,” he said. “I’ll make this quick.” Locke aimed a far-reaching, almost casual strike at the Rodian’s head, hoping to see how the alien would counter. To his surprise, his opponent’s lightsaber came up and deftly deflected the blade away. Then, with little movement, the Rodian spun his lightsaber and aimed a downward slice at Locke’s sword arm.
With his opponent inside arm’s reach, Locke had to quickly bring his other lightsaber up to block, igniting the weapon just in time to stop the Rodian’s from hitting his arm. Repositioning, Locke backpedaled and held both weapons in a horizontal defensive posture across his body.
The Rodian also stepped back, then had the gall to bring his lightsaber up vertically before his face before bringing it down to his side in a flourish.
A voice spoke telepathically in Locke’s mind; speaking in basic: My name is Baxl Eeveero and I at least will observe the formalities, it said. Though silent, it almost seemed mocking.
“Clever trick,” Locke growled. “Where did you learn Makashi?”
The only response was chittering laughter. The Rodian - Baxl - attacked; probing Locke’s defenses with quick, precise strikes. For his part, the Augur fought a defensive battle, one lightsaber ignited while the other blade flashed in and out of existence as needed. He was trying to figure out how good this Baxl was with the dueling art before deciding to move in for the kill.
Ordinarily, he would wait for his opponent to tire, but Makashi used so little energy that he didn’t think that was an option. Besides - Appius was fighting two opponents alone, and Locke didn’t know how long his Clan Taldyran ally could manage that.
Baxl was not content to test Locke’s defenses forever, either. He flicked a hand up, pulling an old officer’s chair free of the floor and sending it hurling toward the Sadowan. The Augur threw one lightsaber at it, the spinning blade splitting the chair into two pieces that tumbled harmlessly to the floor.
His opponent used this distraction to press his attack, leaving Locke with only one lightsaber to defend himself, as the other clattered to the floor far away. Gritting his teeth, the Augur rapidly hunted for options. He could not let this battle go too long; he needed to help the others.
I’ll have to take a risk.
Moving quickly, he deflected another strike and then dodge-rolled away from the other, dropping to a knee next to Baxl. The Rodian turned and began the motion of an attack that would cut down Locke’s side, but the Sadowan slammed an open palm against the floor, sending a blast of Force energy into it that exploded outward with the sound and force of a concussive grenade.
As Baxl hurled backward - chittering angrily in his own language - Locke searched for his other lightsaber. Finding the weapon, he gathered just enough Force energy to quickly summon it to his hand as he stood. The Aedile then attached the two halves of the lightsaber together while watching Baxl get to his feet and wipe the blood away from his face.
Clever, the telepathic voice said.
In response, Locke brandished his complete weapon, spinning the saberstaff once and shrugging his shoulders as if to loosen his body, wordlessly dismissing the idea that he had been a second from death a few moments before.
“Yeah well,” Locke answered aloud. He waited for Baxl’s next attack, closing his eyes to trust his Force senses, feeling rather than seeing how his opponent’s next attack would come. The Rodian approached in the same cautious, probing manner as before.
At his first strike, Locke deflected with one end of his lightsaber one handedly, barely knocking Baxl’s blade up and out of the way. Locke gestured with his free hand, hurling the two pieces of chair at the Rodian. As Baxl was distracted by them, Locke brought his lightsaber up and over, spinning it so the opposite blade came down in a swift strike that drew a grisly line down the Rodian’s body from shoulder to hip.
Baxl cried out and dropped to the floor. Locke summoned his opponent’s lightsaber to his spare hand and, recognizing that he was out of the fight, wasted no time in rushing to join Appius.
This is just frakking brilliant, isn’t it!?
The thought penetrated through the Taldryanite’s subconscious as a red-tinted saberstaff flew towards his neck.
“Frakk!” Appius proclaimed. The Juggernaut was able to duck underneath the flying guillotine before it could take his head off, though he quickly realised that he wasn’t the intended target.
That was all Appius had time to yell. Thankfully, the Defender had already felt the threat coming a few moments in advance. The Entar grasped hold of both his lightsabers and flicked the ignition switches. Two blades, one blue and one white burst out of the hilts as Sang deflected the saberstaff with both before it could slice through his torso. The twin-bladed weapon arched back through the air to its owner’s hand, and this was the opportunity the Unchained Human Sith was waiting for.
With a feral grin, the human launched himself at Sanguinis like a hungry hawk-bat. The Sadowan was just able to bring his right-hand saber up to parry the attack aimed at his skull. The Unchained Sith swung and twirled his blade like a whirlwind of speed and aggression, and even with two lightsabers, the Sadowan failed to spot an opening in the other Human’s offence.
“Haha! This is all too easy!” the Unchained member declared as he danced around the Shadow Academy Professor with an athleticism that astonished Sang.
Appius wasn’t faring any better. The two Unchained Itkotchi turned their attention to him as the Force empowered their strikes. The Juggernaut held firm as he gritted his teeth to deflect one strike from one assailant, before instinctively parrying the next from the other. Even then, both Sith managed to land grazing blows against Appius’ Beskar which alarmed the Juggernaut significantly. The Mandalorian activated his jetpack and launched himself backwards out of the way and further down the bridge. The two Itkotchi followed after him, and Appius thrust forward one hand. A torrent of energy suddenly slammed into the saberstaff wielding Sith as he soared back down the bridge, right into the path of Lock Sonje.
The first Itkotchi was dead, sliced in twain as his body rolled to a stop a few feet from the Aedile. Glancing back and forth between Sang and Appius, he observed the intense fights both were involved in and silently wished he could split himself into two people. Alas, he had a sudden change of heart. Locke’s base instincts told him to aid his fellow Knight of Daragon.
Appius should be fine, he’s a Quaestor after all. No sooner had Locke had that very thought before Sang yelled at him.
“Help Appius!” the Defender ordered. “I’ll be fine here!”
“The hell you will!” Sang’s opponent protested.
It didn’t sit well with the Aedile, but the Knights of Daragon trusted each other until their dying breath. With a simple nod, Locke raced down the bridge whilst the Unchained human continued to slash and hack at Sanguinis with reckless abandon, red crashing into blue and white with sparks and hisses.
The last remaining Itkotchi slammed her twin weapons into Appius’ saberstaff over and over again. Rage consumed her core, and all she saw was blood. A desire to destroy the ones responsible for the death of her comrades. However, as powerful as the Force made her with her anger and hate, it made her reckless and predictable. Her use of Juyo, Appius recognised, had significant flaws in it. The Juggernaut shifted her weight as the Itkotchi Sith launched herself into a twin-bladed strike. The Unchained member’s momentum carried her forward to the Juggernaut’s side. Appius grabbed hold of her wrist, and flipped her onto her back.
“Shame. You’re like a teenager barely in control of their emotions. Maybe you should just surrender?” the Taldryanite taunted.
“Frakk off! You’ll have to kill me first!” the Sith sneered with exhausted huffs at the Mandalorian, to which he shrugged.
“If you insist.”
Appius wrapped the Force around her like a tether and launched her into the lights above. Sparks ruptured and engulfed the Sith’s body, charring her body. Suddenly, Appius felt the presence of Locke behind him and turned to address him.
“About time you showed up.”
Locke was not in the mood to talk, and when he glanced up towards the ceiling to see the twitching mess of a Sith entangled in various cables and wires, he raised a single arm as bolts of electricity soared above. The Sith shrieked in agony before the last gasp of air she had escaped her lungs. Her body hung lifelessly amidst the panels and wiring.
Sanguinis and the human Sith stood several feet apart from each other. The Defender’s breathing was calm, like a gentle ocean breeze even after an intense engagement whilst the other human’s was ragged.
“Just going to stand there and let me wail on you? Pathetic. I expected better from Brotherhood scum!” venom laced the Sith’s every word.
“I do not wish to fight you, nor kill you. It would be in your best interest to surrender,” Sang responded, grasping his lightsaber tighter.
The Sith ran at Sang and poured the dark side of the Force into their body in order to take the Sadowan by surprise by leaping over him. Unfortunately, Sang was more than experienced by such techniques, and twisted his wrists to deflect the Unchained member’s attack with one blade, and sever his legs with the other. The Sith landed chest first, tears welling in his eyes as Sang released a heavy sigh.
“I didn’t want to do that…” Sang declared lowly.
“Well, it’s a good thing you did. Who knows what might have happened if you didn’t.”
The Defender turned to the source of the voice, who happened to be Appius accompanied by Locke beside him.
“Regardless, we now have a reliable source of intel.” Sang retorted as he sheathed his weapons.
The human Sith lay on the ground, weakly mewling as the pain registered from the loss of his two legs. Appius squatted down besides the Unchained Sith, and asked him a quiet question that was unheard by the Sadowans.
The Sith’s eyes widened momentarily and he shook his head in denial. “Very well,” Appius responded, before hitting the injured man. “I’ll get the answers we need.”
Sanguinius grimaced and moved away from the Taldryanite, Locke followed him. “His methods may bear fruit,” the Ragnosian suggested.
The Entar simply tutted in response, “Pain does not bring truth, besides, while we have reached the bridge, I still need to ensure we have full control of the skyhook.”
Locke and Sanguinius looked back over at Appius and the Sith, who had started to talk, as Appius threatened grievous bodily harm if he didn’t.
Appius repaid the Sith by activating his saber and finishing off the Unchained. “There’s 3 more of them left,” the Quaestor grinned as he turned to face the Sadowans. “Come on, let’s go get them.
Sanguinius nodded in response and gestured around them at the bridge. “I’ll stay here and ensure we have full control of the skyhook. Plus, the sensors will show life support signals that will help us track down the remaining Unchained.”
Locke and Appius agreed, “We’ll be on the comlink, give us directions so we can finish them off,” Locke showed his comlink to his fellow Sadowan, as he spoke.
“Understood,” Sangunius replied, already typing in his command code on the main computer console. The display screen flickered as the computer accepted his code and gave him full access. “I see two life signs in the western quadrant, and another in the southern. Get to it.”
Appius and Locke started to jog off back into the corridors, eager to finish off the intruders.
Jogging behind Appius, Locke heard a chime on his comlink from a private frequency he shared with only Sang and one other. “I’ll let the nuna out, then you lock the door on your way out,” Sang said.
For a moment, Locke didn’t quite register what he meant. Then, as he understood, he clicked his comlink in reply.
“What was that, something about a nuna?” Appius asked.
“Just Sang making sure I know what’s for dinner,” Locke replied wryly. Then he tried to distract the other man, “come on, let’s get to it. I’ll take the west quadrant, you the south. Be quick about it and we’ll rendevous at my ship.”
Appius wore a puzzled expression. “Why not back on the bridge?”
“Oh,” Locke said, searching for a convincing lie, “because I’m worried about it and right now you’re the only guy I trust to fly it off this station.” That was at least mostly true.
It seemed like even if Appius didn’t really believe it, he didn’t care too much. “Right, I’ll race you there then,” the Taldryanite grinned, flourishing a lightsaber, and headed off toward the south quadrant.
And I’m sure you’ll win, Locke thought.
Finally alone, he pondered Sang’s message. I’ll let the nuna out, then you lock the door on your way out. Except in this case, “let the nuna out” meant “broadcast an alarm so everyone can get off the station” and “lock the door” meant “set the self destruct” which could only be set off from the auxiliary control room and was designed for use in the event the skyhook was a total loss."
They had decided before this mission that it was better that Marakith belong to no-one, rather than be back in Sadowan hands.
Locke headed to the auxiliary control room, finding this part of the skyhook mostly deserted. Every once in a while, he heard the sounds of distant fighting, or felt a surge in the Force. There were other teams fighting on the skyhook, other groups of Taldryanites and Sadowans working together to retake it.
It was all for nought. This station was a powerful tool for a Dark Jedi to possess, and it’s hidden rooms supposedly housed dark artifacts and other secrets. Locke and Sang couldn’t risk those artifacts falling into the hands of their darker, more insane brethren. If one such as their Consul or the Mad Alchemist got their hands on such things, what then? What chaos would they bring? How many innocents would die?
Letting out a hollow laugh, Locke slipped into the small auxiliary control room and punched in the code Sang gave him. He used the darkside himself, yet he used it with purpose. He was protecting those who were too weak to protect themselves, and he was a shield between them and the wild, destructive dark members of the clan.
The control room lit up. Locke initiated the self-destruct. He watched the ten minute countdown timer on the small console in front of him begin to tick down; then he synchronized the chrono on his comlink with it.
He smiled with grim satisfaction that the alarm would have to be triggered from elsewhere. This self-destruct was meant to take as many enemies with the skyhook as possible; and that’s what Locke meant to do: Dark Jedi, Sith, their retainers - of either Clan - and of course, the Unchained would, with any luck, succumb to the blast.
“Just caught in the crossfire,” he muttered. “What a shame.”
As Locke ducked out of the control room, a small part of his mind reminded him of the irony that he was planning something so destructive when he had just criticized others for the same thing - and planned to kill them for it.
He ignored it. It sounded a lot like Sang’s voice, and he knew if Sang were here, the other man would not approve.
Five minutes later, Locke was jogging toward his ship, careful to avoid any engagements. He keyed his comlink to the frequency with Sang. “Uh, Sang, I started it, but there was no alarm. We only have five minutes!” he added with a hoarse whisper.
“What?” Sang hissed in a surprisingly angry tone. “You were supposed to wait for my signal!”
“Sorry, it just sort of…started,” Locke said, trying to sound convincing. He knew he couldn’t really trick Sang. “Just get to the ship, fast!”
“You’d better be there when I arrive,” Sang said with a hint of scorn, before cutting the feed.
The three men stood on the bridge of Locke’s ship, the Gemini Alpha. They watched as Marakith’s glowing remnants slowly spread apart in the vacuum of space, small explosions still blowing smaller chunks to pieces. The nearby communications console, open to the shared frequency used between the two clan’s forces, reported on assault teams making it off the skyhook - and those that were unaccounted for. It was mostly ignored for the moment.
Their objective was complete: they had destroyed the skyhook; and kept it out of the hands of either The Unchained or Sadowans.
Appius spoke first. “I don’t necessarily approve of your methods, or how close that was, but I am glad that whatever the Unchained wanted in that skyhook will never fall into their hands now - and, apparently, not anyone else’s. Hopefully you’ll keep me in the loop next time.”
“Yes, our methods” - Sang stressed the word, “were a little brutish and reckless, but they got the job done.” He seemed to ignore Appius’ latter comment.
Locke knew that some of those words were meant to lecture him, even if Sang’s tone was nominally neutral. This wasn’t over between him and Sang, and he imagined that once Appius had returned to Taldyran space, there would be a reckoning. The other Sadowan definitely did not approve of his methods, even if they shared the same ideals.
He merely nodded, content in his own mind that he had done the right thing. “Indeed. Let us rest for now. Good work everyone.”
Sang merely offered a grunt at that. The tension in the air spoke volumes instead.
A reckoning indeed, Locke thought to himself as he watched the pieces of Marakith continue to cool in the distance, now mere burning embers.