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Author Topic: Interludes  (Read 95711 times)
Lord_S_Gray
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 306
Posts: 1659



« Reply #420 on: October 21, 2019, 10:37:49 PM »

The Way it Wasn’t

Chapter 6 - Part 1


The Prophet was dead.

Slain by the last Jedi Skywalker and his allies in a crater on Bfpaash, the Force he had reawakened in in the millions of his followers began to fracture without the nexus that was his body.

Yet the Great Work would continue.

Must continue.

Shapers and Wielders – those most adept in utilizing the vongforce – analysed the remains of the battlefield.

Skywalker’s Aethan ally had done something to time itself.

Outposts across the Empire began detecting strange fluctuations in Dark Energy.

Dovin basal’s, gravity sensitive creatures that propelled the vong fleet, began turning their singularities on themselves in mass suicides.
Yorik-kul blessed workers sensitive to time and the force tore their own skulls or equivalent apart.

The galaxy itself was being rent apart by degrees.

There was no solution in this time without the Prophet.

They had to save their Saviour in the time the breach to the fabric of reality had occurred.

The Wielders found the point, Bfpaash 700 years earlier – something had been sent there that was destroying their reality in a parallel progression of time to its arrival.

They needed to do like wise.

To send an object, a living being, was impossible.

But the Prophet had taught them – with the Force All things were possible.

One of their own – the mind and soul of the most dedicated would be sent back to a body capable of holding it even earlier – 750 years to give ample time to prepare.

Records were scoured, ancient vaa tumours implanted to find all details of where the Praetorite Vong advance scout had been in that era.
One location was found.

The stars were bleeding pink as they dislocated from the Dark Matter that held them in check.

Nightmare tortures turned even the most able into raving mad men as reality sundered.

In the last seconds that the Possible Universe that they inhabited died, the Prophets zealous followers succeeded.

<<<<>>>>

Alert as ever Kuun Carr saw his leader fall to the ground.

The Shaper nearby moved to assist, but Carr held him back. Already dozens had fallen to local diseases the Praetorite Vong had no immunity to, efforts to develop vaccines were slow at best.

If the Prefect was similarly afflicted…they could not risk more losses.

Yhum glanced between the Prefect and his second, wondering if Carr would finally murder the Prefect and claim his title.

Hyash Naa gripped his head as another entered it…

The whole force stopped dead in the sweltering humidity of the paddy fields outside the small hamlet on the green skied world at the edge of the galaxy.

Naa wrestled with an unseen, unknown foe of some kind, sweat eat up by the voddun crab armour.  

Till he finally stopped.

Naa’s eyes opened, but it was no longer Naa behind them…or not fully…the presence of the Prophets Slayer was now indelibly mingled through the yammosk tissue all Vong officers were implanted with allowing a more comprehensive and ‘firm’ implantation of memories, abilities and most importantly intentions

He looked around and noted the surrounds, the mix of memories forming into one conscious drive.

“Prefect?” Yhum inquired

“Proceed with the cleansing.”

<<<<>>>>

“Do you think there’ll be dancing girls?” A’lan asked as they strode through the thin film of…mostly water…that lined the rotten ferrocrete in the sub levels of Coruscant.

The warren here stank of chemical and biological refuse, beings walked heads beaten low or thug high depending on their station.  The three Mak’tor strode confidently but not aggressively cowled beneath their well worn cloaks of brown.

“What is it with you and dancing girls?” Jo snapped back, A’lan had asked at every one

“Well it’s just you see it in the holo’s and so far we haven’t seen any…I’m starting to think they might not be accurate representations of the Coruscant underworld,” he grinned

Odjina ignored A’lan’s baiting of Jo’nas. For the last week they’d been down here looking to ‘buy’ the new falvour of Spice doing the rounds but had no success so far. The small analysis kit on Jo’nas back had returned only regular statistical variants of the chemical composition levels on all the Spice they’d bought in tiny plas-bags, nothing matching the samples of the new one.

Yshrrk’s briefing notes, prepared by Tnbu, indicated the new variant was a mix of regular Spice and various hallucinogens, some synthetic, some artificial, that caused users to experience wild delusions, but also contained a high level of hormonal stimulants that resulted in their behaviour becoming quickly violent with a sudden surge of ‘fight’ hormones.

It was this violet reaction that put it on the Jedi’s agenda, Spice was everywhere on Coruscant despite the official ban, the CSF turned a blind eye to its use on the underlevels, the Sisyphean task of arresting dealers not worth the resources given their already heavy work load – but reports of sentients acting out violent delusions could not be ignored…

Most likely as they are worried adventurous mid level teens will get a hold of some Odjina sneered cynically

“Well if there are any make sure you have enough to tip them,” Jo finally replied, Odjina well aware of the blow coming
“After all paying is the only way you’d get a girl interested in you…”

“Yeah and….”
“Quiet,” Odjina cut he bickering brothers off
“We need to focus, these streets are dangerous at the best of times…next place is up ahead.

Their last tip from a Bith named Bobo was there was a fellow by the name of Eulk at Yorg’s Tap House and Grill that was selling ‘Dream Dust’, something ‘New and exciting’.

Odjina noted as they round a corner small yellow eyes watching them from between two towers of durasteel that supported a building they would never see the top of or step within.

The eyes watched them pass as he watched back…they blinked once, the only sign of life…as he recalled watching others on Ryloth in the deep caverns walk past, the temptation to burst out with his ‘squeal’ and rob the passe by for credits or food…

Behind these eyes was the same calculation, the same solution, that three hooded figures were too much a risk.  All this barely 1 Km from shopping malls, plaza’s and newly refurbished apartments.

“Now who needs to focus…” A’lan whispered tapping his shoulder then pointing at the sign of Yorg’s.

“Look’s like that’s…” his brow furrowed…the Odjina’s…then Jo finally sensed it…disquiet…fear…violence up ahead.

Without a through his sabre was in his hand and he was running.

“Jo!” the voice of both A’lan and Odjian too late to stop Jo rushing in, a trait his son would unhappily inherit.

<<<<>>>>

The bar door swung wide as he barged in, throwing back his hood to view the chaos within.

There were dancing girls at Yorgs…three, two cowering behind an upturned tables, another limp with bloody lekku beside a dancing pole on a raised platform.

An Aqualish with no shirt barged passed Jo as he headed in, there were a half dozen bodies on the floor, other patrons scrambling over the bar to get out via the Kitchen.  In the red thrumming light and trashy synth music, atop the far dance platform was a huge bipedal being with fur, humanoid its chest was moving too rapidly for normal breathing as it gripping and tore at an unfortunate rodian.

The snap-hiss of his blue blade mingled to create a pruple shroud about Jo
“Drop him!”
Poor choice of words, the creature flung the Rodian into the wall with a bone breaking crash.

It was not a Wookie, but Jo couldn’t pick the species off the top of his head…it was academic…all that mattered was avoiding its charge.

He skidded out of the bluster, but its clawed hands still caught his robe, he swung down his blade, but its speed was incredible, renching him toward it and slashing at his face, one bladed digit connecting along his forehead.

Red warm blood trickled down his face as he wave his sabre to try and deter the beast, but it didn’t care dodging Jo’s Ataru defensive patter to crash tackle him.  Like a razor ball player he was caught up and rammed to the fence – or in this case a table that cracked but didn’t break.

Somehow he had lost his grip on his sabre, he bashed at the creature back with his fists as it reared up, its eyes mad and unfocused, Jo rolled to the side as it tore down, missing what would’ve been a skull shattering blow.

He sought his sabre in the force and called it to him, having to duck another blow as he did so, letting himself fall completely to his knees to try and take its legs.

The silver hilt seemed to take an age to travel the few metres…too long as a furred hoof slammed into his side sending him reeling over.  The Sabre clattered just out of reach, he stretched his fingers forward, but the pain of the blows was stifling his ability to concentrate on pulling the sabre telekinetically…

A high pitched whistle erupted and the creature turned.

Odjina immediately recognised the Lasat species – extremely strong and fast compared to humans and Twi’lek’s, and hyped up on drugs as its frothing mouth indicated, more than a match for a Mak’tor only recently knighted and lacking much actual combat experience.

A’lan’s ‘whistle’ attracted is attention fully as Odjina circled, its Spice maddened senses seemed heightened as it looked between the two of them, all other patrons and staff long gone, the two dancing girls having pushed past A’lan – much to his disappointment at losing a chance to play the hero to his brother.

It’s mad eyes darted between the two new threats trying to work out which was more dangerous as the room emptied of all sound but the ragged breathing and hum of the sabre’s.

By irrational logic it pounced toward A’Lan the source of the Force enhanced whistle, giving Odjina the chance to race ahead.

As if in slow motion the furious and fast skirmish reached its climax, A’lan ducked beneath a solid if slow guard with his blade, Odjina pirouetted into a cut through the creatures right thigh, and Jo struggled up enough to hurl a glass bottle at the Lasat’s head.

The claws came down straight onto the sabre – the Lasat so inebriated it not longer understood the glowing blue blade was a threat to avoid.  Muscle and blood cauterized in yellow hissing vapour as Odjina’s blade cut through, and the bottle smashed a gluggy brown liquor down the back of its head and into its fur.

Stumbling with the loss of a leg and retching back in pain from severing its own hand, it flopped heavily onto A’lan who managed just to get out of its path, and Jo, not learning his lesson ran forward to tackle the Lasat to the ground, bloody fury in his eyes – half from it having struck toward his brother, half from wounded pride.

On the ground grasped the still flailing limbs round to try and pin the creature, but it thrashed wildly until Odjina rounded and curb stomped its head down to the grubby floor.

<<<<>>>>

“Frag that stings…” Jo complained as A’lan patched his forehead cut with a bacta strip.  They were just waiting for the CSF now…given the low level it would be a while before they arrived, giving time for Odjina to look around following strongly tying the Lasat to a broken table with some omni-tape found in the kitchen, a gentle hum on A’lan’s lips to keep it unconscious.

Amidst the blood were the glitter flecks of spice on the Lasat’s fur, Odjina followed the trail to a corner booth, the table upturned and a splatter of the spice on the floor.

Kneeling he took up the red grains in his fingers and briefly sniffed it.  It smelt like Spice…yet…it had a strange Feel to it in the Force…something…unnatural…it was subtle…very subtle as if…Experimental.  a force user with ls subtlety in their senses – such as Kimar – would not have sensed it…

Another shift in the river he thought.

“cch...phhmmm” Odjina leapt at the sound, a stifled sneeze and expanded his senses, focusing on the source as A’lan and Jo Leapt up.

With quick Mak’tor battle-cant finger signals they crept round the cushioned wall seats to where a series were under a broken table top.

Positioined ready, Odjina in the lead, A’lan on the flank and Jo holding the rear, Odjina hurled the boken plascrete table off with the Force

“Not Hurt, not hurt, it dead yes!!!”

Curled up under the table was…actually Odjina wasn’t sure

“You’re safe now,” Odjina said offering a hand to the frightened sentient

It stood up slightly taller but much thinner than Odjina, with long stinkin black dreadlocks over a patchy pink and green face, and an outfit that was either once yellow, or had been dyed in a yellow fluid that Odjina did not wish to investigate the source of.

“Than you massa, thank you, Eulk be off now!”

A’lan put a hand on his shoulder
“Whoa hold on, Jo get him some water, we need to ask some questions first,”
“Eulk not know, not see, all good, forget forget forget,” ‘Eulk’ slapped his own head,
“See gone, not know a thing, not tell anyone about laser swords,”
The deluded Eulk likely though this was some kind of gang war, had probably never seen a Jedi beyond holo-vids, and wanted to assure the gangs involved he wouldn’t tattle.

“Eulk, is that right? We just want to know was it the spice that set the Lasat off?” Odjina asked more soothingly

“Maybe he have bad snip…” Eulk offered uncertainly…
“Bad snips going round…make people Goooboo…”

If ‘Snip’ was spice it was probably the best confirmation they would get until forensics would get to work.

“Alright, thank you Eulk…” Odjina went on noting his jittering half dance of anxiety  

“..hey whats that…” A’lan pointed to a pocket on Eulks outfit lined with red glitter spice.

“Oh…mess mess mess…” Eulk brushed it off…but more seemed to come out.

“errghhh….”

Jo stepped forward firmly grasping at Eulk who shuddered and thrusting his hand into the pocket, pulling out a handful of plas-bags filled with spice, a few broken, and credit chits in the hundreds

“You were selling this!” Jo seethed.

“No no no no, Eulk doesn’t sell spice, Eulk is broker, introduce buyer to seller and make delivery in person with fee for introduction and postage,”

“You sold the spice…” Odjina said firmly “And you knew it might go bad, saw the signs and hid,”

“Eulk…maybe do that…”

“Eulk…whether you call it selling or not I don’t care, you know this stuff is bad for you and bad for business,” A’lan began well knowing the best way to get people to co-operate was to appeal to heir self interest

“We need to know who you’re brokering for, and stop them selling this variant before a Snip crazed Wookie snaps you in two,”

Behind the dreadlocks it was hard to see Eulk’s patchy face and expressions, but he seemed to be contemplating.

“Perhaps…Eulk broker a meeting…on down low though, no need to say Eulk introduce you to supplier…bu Eulk lose supplier might need compensation…” he rubbed grot ridden fingers

“More compensation that us letting you out of here alive?” Jo snapped

Idiot… Odjina thought, Jo still too aggressive, obviously his experience with the Lasat wasn’t enough to temper that impulse.

“Ignore him,” A’lan went on, comporting himself very well in the situation,

“How about 2000 credits and you show us where to go,”

Odjina was sure Eulk was smilling

“But only after our business is concluded,” Odjina added

“Eulk has little option….”

<<<<>>>>

The CSF station had seen better days, the floors unswept, marked with dents and dried blood, officers rushing to and for, impoverished beings, some with children in the waiting room on broken chairs, many with bruises fleeing Maker knew what.

Jo was off keeping on eye on Eulk, who after the hover-car ride A’lan had insisted he take a shower.  Odjina meanwhile was with the stations Forensics expert discussing findings while A’lan did paper work filling in their Jedi Credentials.

The old Nautolon had near grey skin, and a hard dried look as he shuffled flmsi with test results

“This Sample shows no more variation than usual…it is synthetic, with trace methamphetamine, but apart from that nothing to explain the effects on a Lasat who is…or rather was…a healthy specimen.”

His glassy eyes squinted in condemnation, of what Odjina was uncertain.

“He ingested only 24 grams, considering his weight, metabolism and time since ingestion…my conclusion is the spice was not the cause of his manic episode,”

Odjina straightened startled
“The Spice didn’t cause it?”
“On all the scientific evidence from this single sample, it was a contributing factor, but not the essential cause,”

Odjina thought back to the trace Force taint on the spice.  

“Thank you…we’ll take a sample back to the temple for further tests,”

The Nautolon huffed
“You won’t find anything different!” his indignation showing

“I know…but this investigation won’t be chemical,”

<<<<>>>>
Logged

Lord_S_Gray

Surik: "Kreia, what are you—are you a Jedi, a Sith?"
Kreia: "Does it matter? Of course it does, such titles allow you to break the galaxy into light and dark, categorize it. Perhaps I am neither, and I hold both as what they are, pieces of a whole."

Lord_S_Gray
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 306
Posts: 1659



« Reply #421 on: October 21, 2019, 10:39:37 PM »

The Way it Wasn’t
Chapter 6 - Part 2

Depsite the shower Eulk somehow smelt worse in the hovercar, his skin more splotchy now a purple and wan green.  Odjina wondered his species, most likely a hybrid, possibly a second generation one.

He was sent to a waiting room at the Temple while Odjina and the others went to a small lab room to analyse the Spice further.  

The Jedi facilities were much better equipped than the CSF, and detected a number of additional impurities in the Spice, but again nothing untoward.

That was not the main thrust, Odjina reached out to the dust as he stred into the clean microscope…feeling a thin…black layering to it…a taint of some kind, a disruption…a twisting…a…change

“Jin!” Jo pulled him out
“You looked lost there”

“Sorry..just..do either of you sense anything from this Spice…in the Force,”
Both brother shook their heads.
Damn if only Soryu were here as much as he loved his brothers, they lacked something of Soryu’s depth and subtlety in the Force that he needed right now.

“You think it’s somehow…cursed?” A’lan asked
“Cursed?” Jo scoffed
“What it can happen, Sith gauntlets, Jedi books, why not Spice too?”
“Why ‘curse’ spice with Dark side magic?”
“Exactly…” Odjin whispered “…why…”
Suddenly this was much more than just stopping a deadly new brand of spice, something much more sinister was at play…and Odjina knew they were missing key pieces still.
“Let’s get ready, time to visit Eulk’s supplier, hopefully that sheds some light”

<<<<>>>>

“I count 20,”
“22,” A’lan corrected
“22,” Odjina confirmed.

The three were clustered behind a rusted trash compacter with a stink of rancid meat that Odjina knew would stick into their traveller’s robes no matter how many times they were washed.  

The only thing that stunk worse was Eulk sitting nervously beside them, the walk through the under levels too much for him it seemed, still debating, Odjina sensed, whether the 2000 credits was worth it.

“Do we in go in hard or soft?” A’lan queried

“Hard, not that many,” Jo proposed oblivious to the bandage from the Lasat’s cut on his forehead that should act as a warning.

You’re not an Aethan Jo…. Odjina almost said, though still couldn’t quite remember what an Aethan was apart from being vicious and deadly enough to consider 22 thugs with vibro knives and cheap blasters insignificant.

There were too many to shut i down and make the arrests themselves...what they needed was information and evidence enough to get the CSF to back them up on a future raid.

“I’ve got an idea…Eulk and I will distract around the front, A’lan, can you slip round the back?”

“Already on it!” he grinned

<<<<>>>>

“I stink as bad as you…” Jo complained as they wandered up to the front of the warehouse having plastered…gunk…they had found onto their faces and robes to look dishevelled as possible.

“Eulk does no stink, Eulk has a seductive aroma!”

“Seductive to a Dianoga…”

“Get in character Jo…”

Biting back any response he started t mumble to himself incoherently as Eulk took the lead in Odjina’s plan

A group of lazy somewhat rotund guards were at the front of a large garage door and around an access ramp to a higher office door, sweet vape smokes from inhalers around them.

“Hey…You’sa, its Eulk the Broker, here to…” he scratched at his mangy hair
“Broke…with new clients…these two, Bis and Bim,”

“Bis and Bim?” a Nikto asked incredulously

“Get the stuff…gotta get the stuff…” Jo mumbled loud enough for them to hear

“Yes Bis and Bim, want to see you can supply,”

“And where do Bis and Bim supply to?”

Now Odjina stepped forward removing his hood, a Twi’leki face would inspire more trust that a human one in this situation

“Sub levels 73 to 89 Arrente district on the far side, selling to over 10,000, and a stable of 43 to keep sedated,”

Stable… the word was hideous, on Ryloth it was used to describe the women kept by a bar or dance club owner for patrons ‘use’, addicted to Spice to numb their minds and bodies to be more pliable for clients…no doubt his biological mother had been one such.

The Nikto looked to his compatriots who just grunted,

“You vouch for ‘em Eulk”

“Oh Vouch most highly like,”

“Alright, come into the Office, Borsh’ll see ya, don’t touch nothing though you scum stink,”

<<<<>>>>

There was a strange smell in the back rooms that reminded A’lan of refreshers in the bars they had visiting getting leads.  

So far he’d had no issues, the Song distraction working a treat.  It picked up the underlying Force in a place and ‘rumbled’ it in a way similar to the emotions he felt when finding an interesting book or scroll in the Temple library - Curiosity, and a sense of wonder.  

His theory was by creating a ‘pocket’ of that Song in the force it would attract sentients nearby to investigate – and importantly because it was a positive emotion would not trigger anxiety or fight and flight responses, making it a far more subtle tool for infiltrating.

Fortunately his theory was proving correct, the three guards he had slipped past all wandering from their routes to investigate the pockets of Song he had created a few metres away from him.  

There was still much room for improvement, his range was limited and already he could feel the strivings of a sharp headache, but it was a successful field trial all the same.

The back rooms were full of small workshops, lathes, machine presses, drills, old bulky power converters, everything you would expect, but as he moved in deeper the scent grew stronger and stronger, along with the sound of bustling.

Peering round a corner he caught a glimpse into a larger bay, a number of speeders parked and about ten beings using mag drills to unscrew plating to sneak out black plastic squares.

Beside them were a handful of large tables where other workers with medical masks were unwrapping the black plastic to reveal the red glitter of Spice, cutting it with razors and repackaging into smaller tubes or plastic pouches.

This is the place for sure he thought sniffling slightly from the mix of metal fragments and Spice wafting in the unventilated warehouse.  Sneaking out his holo he began recording – they would need the evidence for trial and prosecution after all, once the others got in

Creeping along a catwalk high above the main room he slowly moved the holo-cam sweeping the whole operation…

He could feel it now, the strange twisting of the Song that Odjina had sensed from the smaller sample of Spice…some one had cursed it! He wondered how they could manage that…how do you infuse the Force into something so granular, was it through a ritual, was it done on a large solid object that was split, or the components before synthesising the spice…he didn’t know enough about…

“HEY!!!”

<<<<>>>>

The office was, all things considered, quite clean, with a well dressed Bith behind the worn desk.

“Eulk…who these…Bis and Bim,”

“Bim and Bis,” Jo corrected

“Brokers like me…many opportunities…”

“Precisely, we’ve heard good things about your operation from Eulk,” Odjina began

“We need  new supplier, but first some questions, we’ve heard reports that your product has some…dangerous side effects,”

He pressed gently with the Force to Borsh the Biths mind, edging gently to loosen the suspicion and secretive nature natural to drug importer.

“Some sentients react badly to Spice, that is the nature of the business,” he dismissed

“Very badly, Eulk nearly ripped in half by Loony Lasat!” Eulk interjected, obviously he had decided siding with the Jedi was in his best interest so was happy to play along

“What you put in this stuff, hashish, Phernomocox?”

“I sell it as I get it!” Borsh seemed defensive

“And where do you get it from,” Odjina added quickly capitalising on Borsh distraction an defensiveness to press his minds barriers looser

“Matra straight from….”

He stopped suddenly realising he had said something he ought not to,

Matra… Odjina didn’t know if that was a system or planet, but a search at the Temple would soon turn up something.

“As you know some sentients react badly its no…hmmm…”

He stopped looking at his datapad

“A problem?” Odjina queried

“A minor irritation, mynock in the catwalks…”

<<<<>>>>

Perhaps he should’ve paid more attention to blocking Jo’s heavy Ataru swings after all.

The power maul wielded by the bulky gran slammed down, A’lan rolled precariously on the catwalk to avoid it – but there in lay the problem.

The rusted old metals couldn’t take the charged blow for the weapon, sending them both crashing down onto one of the sorting tables raising a cloud of red glitter dust that surrounded them.

Fast as he could he covered his face with his cloak while pushing up his back aching from the fall, choked coughs echoed as the cheap labour inhaled the Spice.

Then it really began.

Through the haze of settling red tinsel came shrieks and splatters of blood as the workers turned feral from the effect of the Spice almost instantly.

Gripping his sabre he hip and shouldered past something large and warm heading toward where he recalled the main door.

Through the last eddies of the cloud of Spice it zoomed open to reveal half a dozen vibro blade armed thugs.

<<<<>>>>

It was more than just a mynock, Odjina could feel the panic from A’lan, and worse the bestial fury as some beings fell victim to the Spice somehow.

Jo felt it too a second later, a quick glance between them and Odjina nod – the game was up.

Jo sprang up with all his strength slamming the table into Borsh as Eulk scuttled off to the corner pulling a hold out blaster from…We searched him…Maker knows where he hides that….

Borsh toppled over and Jo leapt across to the offices rear door, failing to open the latch he slammed his sabres emitter to the lock and switch it on, instantly a white glow melted through the door, his kick slamming it open.

They were on a mid level catwalk, beneath up turned benches and speeders, coated in red glitter Spice as poorly dressed workers frothing with mad rage fighting each other and a group of he thugs from outside.

Odjina scanned with the Force to find A’lan holed up between some crates unsure what to do.

“Do what you can,” Odjina said aloud before leaping off the catwalk.

Landing back to back with Jo their sabres lit up as Eulk helpfully fired stun shots from above – a life on the streets Odjina was in no doubt Eulk could take care of himself.

“Stand DOWN” Jo yelled his voice enhanced by the Force.  A few of the Thugs turned and ran at the site of the sabres, the intimidation factor of Jedi never to be underestimated.

But the workers and thugs who had breathed in the Spice were too far gone.

Frothing, eyes bloody, black or green depending on species they were erupting in an orgy of violence and sex, the drug seeming to have random effects of shattering all inhibitions.

A’lan now re-enforced came out and slammed a crazed Trandoshan to the wall with a kinetic blast, Jo met a charge head on to knock a Rodin unconscious with his fist.

Odjina wove a Suppressive Song as he spun his blade in defensive twirls to deter anyone moving closer.

The three brothers moved through the two dozen inane creatures as fast as they could, hammering skulls, tossing across the room, shutting down consciousness, and where they had no option slicing through limbs to protect themselves.

They couldn’t save them all, many of the maniacs killed each other, some themselves falling to the ground in seizures.

It was frantic, hopeless and chaotic – it was the work of a Jedi.

Finally the battle petered out, the last crazies were those that were engaging in uninhibited acts of lust rather than violence.  Cut and bruised from the fight the brothers hauled them off each other or various other objects that had attracted their attention and put them down with sleep locks or quick blows to the head.

“I think…we’re done…” Jo heaved out clearly worn to the bone.

Rubbing his foot in the spice Odjina shook his head

“We’ve just begun.”

<<<<>>>>

The CSF once more arrived after a prolonged wait, enough for A’lan to hack Borsh terminal.

Matra was a small system in the Corporate Sector, which through various means this Spice was being smuggled from.

“This stuff…” Jo said, “there is something wrong about it…more than just the chemicals…even I can feel it now…”

Odjina nodded

“We need to find out who is making this, how and why…”

“But the corporate sector” A’lan interrupted scrolling through data streams as Eulk casually looted the office – he had stunned a few of the workers and not simply fled so Odjina gave him a pass for the moment.

“We don’t have any authority there like the Republic…no idea what we’ll be walking into…”

“Such is the life of a Jedi Knight Eulk thinks…” Eulk interrupted casually

“Such is the life…” Odjina had to agree as he thought

“Eulk what do you know about Matra – and don’t say nothing, I know you’re not as oblivious as everyone gives you credit for?”

“Eulk recalls you still owe Eulk 2000 credits…” he replied scratching at his dreadlocks

Jo shrugged, A’lan sighed and fished out the chit tossing across the room – Eulk catching with a hungry look.

“No we can talk about new deal….Eulk might’ve visited once or twice in old days to arrange brokerage…might know the port there, Black Sun run it, might know how to get Jedi in quiet like….”

“And how many credits will we owe you after that Eulk?” Jo said sternly

“Well…Eulk thinks to stop this bad snip…” – no doubt with a smile beneath that ratty hair

“No price too high,”

<<<<>>>>
Logged

Lord_S_Gray

Surik: "Kreia, what are you—are you a Jedi, a Sith?"
Kreia: "Does it matter? Of course it does, such titles allow you to break the galaxy into light and dark, categorize it. Perhaps I am neither, and I hold both as what they are, pieces of a whole."

Karmack
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
SaberForum.Com Moderator
Knight Commander
************

Force Alignment: 1147
Posts: 5594


Light side points please.


« Reply #422 on: April 05, 2020, 02:45:38 PM »

Temple of Song
Cantor Enclave
[REDACTED]
1:57am local time

Li'Aun moved quietly through the darkened temple complex, a cloaking motif flowing through her mind as she wrapped the power of force and song around her to hide her completely from the occasional temple guard or acolyte.  She wasn't technically doing anything wrong - as a novice under Cantor A'Lan she was allowed access to any part of the temple at any time - but as she preferred not to be disturbed she cloaked herself in darkness and wrapped the Song around her like a protective cloak.  Besides, it never hurts to practice...

She reached the workshop unobserved and without incident, carefully closing the door and sealing it.  It was just short of 2am, and she had four hours to work before the call for Morning Chant went out for the Talmid.  A ripple of fatigue washed through her and she yawned, her body reminding her yet again that this was her fourth night in a row with little or no sleep.

It will be worth it, though....  Li'Aun stretched and then carefully drew her hilt from its sheath across her back.  Like all of the novices, she had been working on her weapon for ages now, slowly crafting it from a basic design into her own unique blade.  Her size, as several of her fellow novices constantly reminded her, presented a special challenge, as the standard Lidao was nearly two meters long.

A significant problem indeed when you're barely over 150cm in height and lightly built to boot...

Li'Aun ran her fingers lightly over the song-steel, feeling the slight ripple in the channel sheath, the sharp edges that would cradle and focus the plasma blade and protect delicate crystals and electronics within.  The hilt was long, nearly 50 cm from pommel to tsuba, and wrapped in traditional cordage.  Still it initially appeared far shorter than the traditional Lidao, not even long enough to hold the full dual-channel emitter.

Looks, however, could be deceiving...

Li'Aun had spent weeks working out the design of her hilt, knowing the normal, full-length hilt was simply to long for her.  The shorter hilt she now held, however, was to short for a full-power DCE, let alone the required power cells...

But like everything else in her life, Du'Aun had found a way.  The emitter was installed in the spine of the blade, the deep channel focusing the plasma and forming the blade's cutting edge as well as providing a secondary cutting surface even when powered down.  There was a lot of open space inside the blade, where the plasma streams intersected and reinforced to form the weapon's characteristicly shimmering blade.  And she'd used that.

Li'Aun lifted the hilt and then gripped it, pinching hilt just below the tsuba.  The inner mechanism released, allowing the blade to extend and open, and in less than a second the 50cm hilt had become 150cm.  With the secure 'snick' of a precision instrument the hilt locked into its extended configuration and Li'Aun smiled. 

So far so good.

Li'Aun laid her Lidao on a work-bench, removing the internal power cell and attaching test leads to the hilt, the computer running a quick check on the power system she'd installed the night before.  When it came back green she turned to the real work of the night: Installing the Dual Channel Emitter, the heart of the Lidao.

Li'Aun opened her locker and extracted the crystal chassis she'd built from her locker.  Some of her peers thought she'd broken it, as it was in two parts, but Cantor A'Lan had only smiled ever so slightly as she'd tucked it away several days ago, still in two parts.  She'd nearly planted a stiff palm-heel in Mi'Kal's chest a few minutes later as he'd continued to pester her for leaving the part "undone".  Mi'Kal and his clique had consistently been a thorn in her side, teasing and belittling her every step of the way, always questioning her fitness to be a psalmist, a Cantor novice, or even in the Talmid at all.  Even when she'd taken him three falls out of five in hand-to-hand combat training he'd chalked it up to luck and favoritism, giving her no credit for her skill, technique, or hard work.

A flutter of anger rose in her chest and Li'Aun calmed it with a deep breath.  Not now, Li'Aun, not now...   Maker, forgive him.  Forgive me for my anger.  Guide my hand and harmonize my song...   She laid the two-piece chassis on the bench next to her extended Lidao and then reached into her tunic's inner pocket for the most important thing she'd ever owned - her chorus.

Reverently Li'Aun rolled out a velvet pad along the crystal chassis and then carefully spilled them out.  She'd collected her first kyber fragment almost seven years before, adding to the collection whenever a crystal had called out to her.  She'd collected enough for her DCE two years before and had spent another 18 months working the crystals into a balanced, tuned whole.  The crystals twinkled in the dim light and Li'Aun took a moment to brush them into a rough line, stretched out along the emitter chassis, before she settled down into a lotus and dropped into a deep meditation.

Time lost meaning as the song swirled around her.  The cacaphony was chaotic at first, and Li'Aun struggled to identify the tune despite its familiarity in the surging tide of noise.  Slowly, one-by-one, she isolated the familiar voices of her chorus and brought them into line, finding the harmony and balance of the Song's master score and slotting them into it part by part.  Finally the noise was gone, replaced by the glorious, soaring melody and harmony of the chorus, perfectly in tune with each other and with the greater Song of which it was a part...

"Beautiful."

Li'Aun's eyes snapped open and she spun to her feet.  The chassis she'd spent nearly three hours balancing trembled on the workbench but did not upset, but for long seconds nothing registered except the voice of her mentor.  "Sir!  I... I...  I can explain..."

Cantor Da'Niel A'lan waited calmly, no outward sign of the amusement dancing within him save a very slight upturning of the corners of his mouth as the slight girl before him visibly gathered herself.  He made no effort to help her, however much he felt he should.  It was bad form to startle someone out of a deep trance, after all.  But such things did happen and learning to deal with them was part of becoming a Cantor.

And deal she did.  Li'Aun stopped her attemp at explanation as her Master stood, waiting, and what he'd actually said registered.  Beautiful...  She turned back to the crystal chassis, now adorned with dozens of perfectly aligned crystals, and her eyes danced as she nodded.  "Yes, Master.  May I proceed?"

"Please." Cantor A'lan folded down into his own lotus and watched intently as his student returned to her work.  He had taken Li'Aun as one of his novices from the larger pool of Psalmists based on her presence in the force and skill as a singer.  Even at the age of seven she'd showed immense promise and precise control, and he'd spent nearly ten years now patiently honing her immense talents into usable skill.  As he watched her now, carefully securing her crystal array into the harness in preparation of its final installation he could feel her excitement and anticipation bound by tight control despite her youth and fatigue, he decided that he had been right.  This one would go far ... and make a worthy Understudy.

Li'Aun paused momentarily as she felt a tiny flicker of emotion from her Mentor.  With a mental shrug she dismissed it, unable to spare the focus to parse it out properly as she bent all of her skill and focus to her task.  Gently, using the force as much as her hands and tools, she lifted the array and slid it into place, aligning it with minute focus and skill.  Computer-guided laser welders fused the array to the interior of the blade channel securing it in place as well as the far sturdier shock cover that followed it.

Satisfied, Li'Aun put the waldos down and reached out with the force, humming her alignment motifs and listening to the response.  With feather-light caresses in the force she made final adjustments before locking the whole array down with a final force-fed effort.

Wearily Lu'Aun rose and picked up the over-sized blade, her finger hesitating over the activation switch.  What if it doesn't work?  What if I've failed...  She was suddenly very conscious of her Master, waiting patiently in his lotus.  Failing would be bad enough, but in front of him? 

Li'Aun took a deep breath and shrugged.  "Just do it..." She said under her breath, her finger stabbing down on the button...

...and nothing happened.

"No... Maker, please, no..." Li'Aun felt her heart sink into her stomach.  What would Master A'Lan say?

She didn't have to wait long.  "Li'Aun, fear not.  Your installation is perfect.  It only lacks one thing."

Li'Aun turned to face her Master and found him holding out her hilt's power cell, his eyes sparkling.  She felt her cheeks turning dark red despite all she could do to control herself.  "Um...  Thank you, Master..."  She took the power cell she'd removed hours earlier from his hand and slid it into place, noting that the small tell-tale lights just under the tsuba lit up, first red then green as the power systems initialized and came online.

Li'Aun wiped her watery eyes as her Master chuckled.  "Now, little one, I believe you will have better results."

Li'Aun only nodded, not trusting her voice.  With another deep breath she again pressed the activation switch...

With a whoosh the blade ignited, the crystals working together to focus and harness the plasma, channelling it up the long spine of the Lidao and to the tip.  The blade formed into beautiful white blade, dancing along the edge of the blade channel and forming an elegant point extending 14cm beyond the end of the channel.  The blade was primarily white but danced with the shimmering rainbow of color that was characteristic to the multi-gemmed DCE.  Li'Aun watched the blade settle into a steady hum, looking for any flairs or concentrations of color that might betray issues with the DCE.  Finding none, she swung it through a quick blade kata, thrilling at the harmonies of the blade as it hummed through the long swings and cuts.

Smiling now, she shut the blade down, letting it fold into its compact design before extending and igniting it again.  Again the blade ignited and showed no issues or instabilities. 

Again she shut the blade down, a deep satisfaction creeping into her.  "It is done."

"And well done.  Excellent work, Li'Aun." Master A'Lan said.  "Now, run along.  You have just enough time for a shower before Morning Chant."

"Yes Master!"  Li'Aun bowed and left at a run, her steps light as she faced the morning.

A new day ... and a new beginning!  Mi'Kal, eat your heart out!
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« Reply #423 on: April 05, 2020, 04:59:38 PM »

Cantors cool! Nice little set up there, seen them in Storms of Exodus...and while we don't know the where of this Enclave...nor do we know the When, though these names don't look familiar from Storms, they could be 'back at base' no mention of M'Tzigon so potentially before the exile...either way don't mess with the 'little one' Li'aun sounds very tenacious, though arguably has had to be, working harder than anyone else to prove herself she may well excel them all. 
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Kreia: "Does it matter? Of course it does, such titles allow you to break the galaxy into light and dark, categorize it. Perhaps I am neither, and I hold both as what they are, pieces of a whole."

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« Reply #424 on: April 09, 2020, 11:21:47 PM »

FOR KARM'S INTERLUDE:
Yes!  MORE Cantor stories!

Seriously, I like this, Karm.  Lends itself to a bit more of an origin for Cantor society, especially since we know that the Cantors under To'Lon will all [REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED], making it especially horrible and poignant...

Suggestion Karm: if PsychoSith gives his permission, maybe include a pic of the Cantor's awesome weapon of choice, their Lidao  Wink


FOR LSG'S INTERLUDE:
OK...I don't know HOW I missed the most recent chapters of "The Way It Wasn't" BUT I LOVE how the ALMOST-meeting of Odjina, Soryu, and Kazic was presented...
LSG: I want to read more!!!
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« Reply #425 on: April 10, 2020, 12:10:56 PM »

A reminder:  The Lidao, and traditional robes worn by the Cantors...

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« Reply #426 on: April 11, 2020, 06:26:32 PM »

A reminder:  The Lidao, and traditional robes worn by the Cantors...


Wonderful Karm!

My compliments to both you and PS  Smiley

I absolutely love these saber pics^^
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« Reply #427 on: April 22, 2020, 03:57:09 PM »

This takes place concurrently with "Retrieval" and is the continuation of the very last event seen waayyy back in the "Shadow Etude" Epilogue: http://www.saberforum.com/index.php?topic=36277.msg602343#msg602343
***********************************************************************


Interlude-Shadows of the Past

As the ship exited the mesosphere, it quickly engaged its main drive, soon breaking out of Nar Shadda’s orbit and heading into deep space.  As the navicomputer computed final coordinates readying the ship for hyperspace, the pilot was joined by his female passenger.  He stood respectfully, his eyes lowered, hands folded over his heart.

As was proper.

“Illuminated One…all is in readiness.”  He said as his companion took her seat in the cockpit.  Even sitting, her feet didn’t reach the deck, her lack of height a trait shared by almost all women in her family.  And though she was diminutive of stature, it would be a mistake most grave to assume that she was anything other than the dangerous creature that she was.  So learned the previous pilot of the Lupus Dei

“Very well, Risaan.” Her voice was arrogant and self-satisfied, yet the smile that she showed the pilot was one of fondness, even affection.  “You may sit.”  Only after the last syllable of the last word had completely left her mouth did Risaan finally take his seat.  Even as he did so, the look of utter worship remained upon his face well after the pseudomotion of the large gunship caused the starlines to blueshift into the swirling maelstrom of the hyperspace tunnel.  His companion was not at all displeased by his open adoration; she thought that she may—may—allow him the privilege to attend her tonight.  Risaan had proven a more than adequate replacement for the former captain of this vessel, and in so many other ways…

As was proper.

The woman smiled, her blue lips thinning as her vulpine features became sharper as a result.  It was not an altogether unpleasant effect; indeed, she was considered a great beauty even amongst her people.  The only critique that she would occasionally hear—and those were always in whispered tones—was that her face was marred by a discernible cruel bent to her visage.  …Fools…unrefined fools all of them… She thought contemptuously.  What did she care of the opinions of peasants?  They were beneath even her notice of them…

“What was that, Risaan?  Speak up, I didn’t hear you.” She practically yawned, her attention now shifting to the other occupant within the cockpit.  She had the satisfaction of seeing his face twist in contrition as the worry he displayed doubled at the sight of her frown.

“A thousand apologies, Illuminated One.  Your servant inquired as to whether or not he might enter the next coordinate package into the navicomputer?” His tone was deferential, eyes cast to the ground.

As was proper.

Suddenly her rage threatened to overwhelm her, like a great swell of lava erupting from a volcano’s crater.  Risaan had nothing to do with it…or at least a small voice in the back of her head reminded her stoically.  Still, it did nothing to mitigate the abject fury that she felt…

…She’s eluded me once again…!  Anger mixed with incredulousness contorted her face as she forced herself to deal with feelings that were almost foreign to her.  And she like that fact not one bit…

She’d thought to catch her quarry upon Nar Shadda, even had verifiable proof that her target had been on planet and had not left…only to learn the bitter truth just that morning: she hadn’t been on the moon for years.  It was beyond frustrating, that she of all people should have any difficulty in pursuing—much less catching!—her prey.  Yet, she continued to evade her!  By the Queen Mother she wanted to flay someone…

Considering eyes fell upon Risaan, more than a few moments passing in complete silence as she felt the rise of primal urges coarse through her.  She decided against giving into her more…base desires.  And besides, she reminded herself, he was so very good at what he did for her, especially within her quarters…

“No, not as of yet.”  She waved her graceful fingers dismissively.  “Continue to our next destination, Risaan.” She sighed.  It had taken her all of her entire being not to lash out indiscriminately.  But her rational mind always prevented her from making such mistakes.  Besides, she had no intention of cleaning up such a mess that would result…

Suddenly, she had a thought.  “Risaan, have any of our assets transmitted any new information in the last week?” She hadn’t thought to ask before now, so focused upon the certainty that her prey must be on Nar Shadda.  She began to absentmindedly twist the ring of office that encircled her delicate index finger, the family crest proudly displayed with the masterfully carved emerald set into the aurodium band.  The rich green of the gemstone complimented the rich brown skin of her fingers, hands, and face.  Again, Risaan’s gaze became one of admiration.

As was proper.

“Oh yes, Illuminated One!  There was one—a short burst—but I personally verified the authenticity of the message and corroborated that it is indeed the asset’s most recent communique.” His fawning washed over her while she held out her hand expectantly.  Almost immediately, Risaan produced a message cylinder, handing it over quickly to the small woman.

She stared intently for a moment at the data cylinder, Risaan all but forgotten.  The cylinder had his crest set within the metal… After all this time, she was surprised to receive anything from him.  Still, while she wasn’t given over to flights of fancy, she felt her anticipation rising.  Inserting the cylinder into the port, the encrypted holotext suddenly sprang in the air in front of her.  As she quickly devoured its contents, a full smile began to split her face.  …Not the best of news, but welcome nevertheless… She felt pure satisfaction flow up from within for a moment.  She even gave a slight laugh, amused that it would be him to offer her her heart’s desire...

Movement from the corner of her eye recalled her attention to the present.  Risaan had immediately averted his eyes when she’d activated the cylinder so as not to see the holotext clearly intended for his betters.  Not that she was worried; besides her asset, only she knew of the cypher to unlock the message contained within.  She found herself nodding in appreciation to Risaan; after all, he truly knew his place.

As was proper.

“Risaan, draw me a bath within the Zsajhira moisture sauna.  Lilac oil, I should think…” Even as she planned for the evening’s pleasures, more importantly her mind prepared for the necessary measures ensuring that—this time—her prey would not be able to escape.  “And do bring the Pogam-Blood wine, you’ll be needing to maintain all of your strength.” She laughed, tossing her midnight-blue hair.

Walking towards her luxurious quarters on the second deck of the Lupus Dei, she began to hum a lullaby, one that her mother would often sing to her when she was a child.  That…and she reread the message burned into her memory, two items taking primacy.  The first was a group, one that while she did not know of their exact location yet, she knew that she would given time: “Templars.”  The second was a name, one that percolated from the shadows of her past, from even beyond the grave.

Il'liyanav Lana’A D'Aylanna Vih'Torr.”

Her smile became predatory.  It was good that—at last!—she knew that her prey was within her grasp, a victim to be dealt with once and for all.  And then…then her position would be secure, her ascendance all but assured.  Inhaling slowly, the small woman sighed, thinking of what she would finally return home to: a coronation.  Her coronation.  

She liked that, imagining the splendor and grandeur that would accompany both the station as well as the title.  Amused, she tried it on, loving every syllable of it.

“‘T’Atyanna Lean’nev Irell’A Vih’Torr…’” Her voice beheld a regal tone, “‘…Marquesa ta’a Chume.’”

Marquesa... As was proper.
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« Reply #428 on: April 22, 2020, 06:57:00 PM »

As always blown away by the detail and they way you capture different cultures so meticulously...clearly Hapan here, the refined cruelty and matriarchal streak evident from the first few lines...of course now the Retrieval title of your tale takes on a double meaning....there will be quite the intersection one that none of the Templars, nor the Vih'Toss expect...what a tremendous tease you can be Dutch...but we love it!
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Surik: "Kreia, what are you—are you a Jedi, a Sith?"
Kreia: "Does it matter? Of course it does, such titles allow you to break the galaxy into light and dark, categorize it. Perhaps I am neither, and I hold both as what they are, pieces of a whole."

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« Reply #429 on: April 23, 2020, 07:04:01 AM »

As always blown away by the detail and they way you capture different cultures so meticulously...clearly Hapan here, the refined cruelty and matriarchal streak evident from the first few lines...of course now the Retrieval title of your tale takes on a double meaning....there will be quite the intersection one that none of the Templars, nor the Vih'Toss expect...what a tremendous tease you can be Dutch...but we love it!

Yeah.   What he said.  ;-)

Wow.   You ARE a tease!    I am looking forward to this a lot.  Especially delving more into the Hapan culture and D'Aylanna's past.  Though Zearic may be a bit more of an obstacle to T’Atyanna Lean’nev Irell’A Vih’Torr than she is anticipating...   

Awesome stuff man!   Keep it coming!
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« Reply #430 on: April 23, 2020, 08:37:24 AM »

As always blown away by the detail and they way you capture different cultures so meticulously...clearly Hapan here, the refined cruelty and matriarchal streak evident from the first few lines...of course now the Retrieval title of your tale takes on a double meaning....there will be quite the intersection one that none of the Templars, nor the Vih'Toss expect...what a tremendous tease you can be Dutch...but we love it!
Yeah.   What he said.  ;-)

Wow.   You ARE a tease!    I am looking forward to this a lot.  Especially delving more into the Hapan culture and D'Aylanna's past.  Though Zearic may be a bit more of an obstacle to T’Atyanna Lean’nev Irell’A Vih’Torr than she is anticipating...   

Awesome stuff man!   Keep it coming!
Thanks guys!  I've been meaning to explore/expand upon both Hapan culture and D'Aylanna's past for some time but Schisms really ate into my time (by NO means a complaint just an observation)  Smiley

And yeah, Zearic will definitely present a problem for the Hapans: a man who is considered his wife's equal BY his wife AND is a Jedi AND a (former!) orphan with no aristocratic legacy (at least that they recognize)?!  Yep, he's the perfect trifecta for a Hapan pariah  Wink

But don't think that he'll have it too easy ESPECIALLY when you consider that T'Atyanna is both [REDACTED] AND a [REDACTED] as well!

 Grin
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« Reply #431 on: April 23, 2020, 01:37:38 PM »

You're just evil....    ;-)
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« Reply #432 on: April 11, 2022, 11:02:09 PM »

Hymra’s Story — Chapter 1

The republics LAAT’s seared gouges into the moist grey soil with green beams from their sponsons cannons, only occasionally liquefying the intended B2 –Rocket Variant targets that zoomed across the deadened expanse.

Helmets and barrels popped up from the trenches to take shots as they approached, but relying on Electo-magnetic pulse mines to keep them from getting in – they could not afford any more losses.

The 187th Legion had been tasked with taking the Vkmin System two months ago.
Diverted by General Ki-Adi-Mundi  from the larger siege at Mygeeto, it had been anticipated they could secure the system within a week and thereby the Separatists from using the system as a staging post for reinforcing Mygeeto, and instead force them to detour through hyperspace lanes the Republic had set a series of gravity well traps and space mines throughout.

J-1 Proton cannons blasted more chunks from the lines, spewing oily grey dirt over the clones' once white armour. 

Now scored and scratched so much it held months of dirt and blood in the coarse lines, staining every soldiers armour a sooty grey.

The last few Hyena bombers made another run on the overturned HAV Juggernaught which served as one of the few landmarks outside the fortress. It had been blasted in the first assault, landing with its roof toward the walls it served as cover for the command trenched.  Mobile anti-air batteries chugged and blasted another bomber out of the skies, the Separatists were down to eleven now.

But all that was above.

Hymra was below.  Caked in the oily dirt, checking his atmospheric sensor every few moments for the sulphur concentration as gases seeped up from the planets mantle.

The atmosphere was barely breathable on the surface, here it was outright toxic.  The clumsy gear needed to breathe had made tunnelling slow.   

It had been easy enough for the Republic to establish space supremacy on the tiny system, but on the ground the Separatists had fortified the one feature of interest in the entire system apart from the sulphur processing facilities, an ancient Fortress, twenty by twenty kilometres in outline, walls half a kilometre high that pointed out in fearsome teeth to create a jagged outline.

With thousands of droids an attack from above was out of the question, and an attack from the ground had lost them half their forces.

Finally they were going under.

Grunting as he jammed another support beam in against the bedrock Hymra mentally ticked of another marker on the road toward the walls, 412 down, 32 to go. Who had built this fortress, and why…no one knew…or at least no one living.  It was an oddity, a puzzle Hymra would have to live never discovering the answer to, his job was simply to bring down a portion of the walls.

“Post up check, 2.1 K out,” came Disra’s voice on the comm behind him, the other member of the 63rd Shili Volunteer Engineering squad present in the tunnel.

“Check,” Hymra replied, reaching back for his mining laser. He had been down here three weeks plodding forward, likely another weeks before they were even able to start setting the charges, and hoping they were deep enough to avoid the droids ground penetrating radar….

It was tight, uncomfortable, draining and demoralising…one the upside, the threat of 400 metres of soil collapsing on your head, or sulphur rivers bursting from the walls did wonders for alertness.

“Post Up, check 30 m out” Syffa commed,

“Check” he replied.  They were getting close, the tunnel was constantly rumbling with the recoil of the separatist artillery above, dirt dropping unnervingly with each bombing raid by the BLT-B Y wings form their own side.

“Nearly there,” Syffa said with an enthusiastic spark.

He smiled beneath his rebreather, it was inspiring she could still be so positive. They had both volunteered after the Battle of Kiros, a Togruta colony that had been attacked and enslaved, albeit temporarily.

Nonetheless Syffa had lost much of her family in the Separatist attack, losses that inspired her to join up.

For Hymra, the attack had struck a raw nerve, he had realised then he couldn’t stand by while others suffered any longer…and it shamed him now that it had been only an attack on his own species that spurred him to join up. 

He had contributed a little before then, volunteering the time and expertise of his small engineering business to assist with rebuilding efforts in systems near Shili, but after Krios…

“Yeah, why don’t you head on back,” he replied shaking his thoughts, “it’s about time for shift change,” he thumbed to the rail cart behind them that ferried them back and forth along the tunnel.

“Isn’t it a bit early?”

He shrugged, or would’ve had there been room

“Just give Disra a kick if he’s still asleep”…not that anyone got much of that with the constant tzump of blasters.

She probably smiled under her mask, “Will do…you alright here alone?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,”

As he watched her vanish into the deep tunnel lit only intermittently with blue emergency flash lights he paused.

She was a nice girl Syffa…only twenty two…had been studying engineering, hence her role here…there was something horrible about the fact she now used those skills to destroy…it was a small mercy her brother had been rescued from Zygerian slavers by the Jedi…

It shouldn’t but it saddened him, she had someone waiting for her back on Shili…he didn’t really…he had his business…and perhaps that was why he was here, why he felt so guilty for not joining earlier…compared to them he had nothing to lose…at worst he was killed, a name on a list back on Shili that everyone would bow their heads to but no one apart from a few regular clients would even recognize…

He sighed and turned back to his digging…if someone was to die down here when they planted the charges…it might as well be him.

The thumping had died down.  Sulphur levels were still high, they needed to move quickly. He hefted another hard-crate off the rail cart and crouched along through the squidgy floor to place it with the others.

The Clones had diverted their attacks to the north of the tunnel, thus keeping attention away from where they were building up their forces to storm in when they detonated the load. 

They needed to move fast to limit the losses at the distraction and now to avoid the explosives being corroded by the sulphur.  While sulphur dioxide didn’t normally react with steel, the humidity of the caverns was leading it to form sulphuric acid that could eat away at the detonite casing, risking a premature explosion.

“Let's move,” Thirty-Two grunted, one of the clones assigned to assist in setting up.

“Two more to go,” Disra noted tapping Hymra on the shoulder,

“You start wiring, we’ll get the rest,”

Hymra nodded and opened up his pack to begin linking the detonate charges to a central control.

“Think we’ll get to see it blow?” Syffa added,

“Probably just hear it, I’m not keen to stick my head up over that trench line,” Disra replied.

“Sad…all that work and we don’t even get to see the big boom!” she said trying to cheer the atmosphere…but after nearly a month of 4 hours sleep, 6 hour shift then repeat…

He sighed, how did she keep that enthusiasm up…he wondered idly if she was on drugs…he’d seen his fair share of volunteers, even some clones sneaking death sticks in camp, not just on this campaign, but others as well…anything to take away the pain, give some respite from the monotony and sheer terrors of the war.

“Set” the no nonsense clone said, “You two head out, Combat Engineer Naro, is everything in order?”

“In order sergeant” Hymra replied his eyes focused on splicing the wires

“How long,”

“No more than five minutes, I’ll connect it up and run a test signal, you should move out now,”

“Very good,”

Moments later he was alone with twenty crates of detonite, the casing slowly being eroded.  This had to work, they were down to less than 2000 Clones, Disra had heard, no chance of forces from Mygeeto…if there was one upside it was the Rumours that the Separatists were largely abandoning the sector, pulling back to focus on something big…something in the Core was the rumour.

Whatever, he needed to focus on the task at hand.

The ground shook, handfuls of dirt fell between the repulsor supports onto his shoulders.

“Shav…” he whispered, grabbing the wire and running as best he could half crouched.

The ground shook again, rattling his teeth - worse the repulsors flickered for a microsecond, if they failed the whole place would come down.

skidding down the wet soil caking his trousers he worked quickly, Togrutan eyes operating well in the dark to lock the wire in place.

The shaking got worse, thudding sounds echoed from high above.

The last wires connected he sent the test pulse, anxiously waiting for Disra at the other end to send the confirmation signal.

“What is the hold up!” his chest pocket comm demanded in the ubiquitous tones of the Clones.

“Just waiting for…” the green signalled the response worked.
“Evacuating the tunnel now Sir,” Hymra Naro replied, clothes soaking in sulphur tainted water and his own sweat and he raced along the dark tunnel.

post by post he got closer to the entrance, his thighs whining in protest at the uphill slant of the shaft, but nothing could be worse than being trapped in that tomb when the bomb went off.

Syffa was waiting for him at 150 meters from surface with the collapse charges primed.

“At least we get one little boom,” she sighed hitting the trigger, repulsors at the 400 meter mark switched off, the soil collapsing in along a 100 meter length to ensure the explosions didn’t follow them out.

Now they had to really run, the scratchy sunlight almost white at the end of the tunnel as it shook ever more ferociously as if caught in the maw of a rabid rancor.

They were barely 30 meters from the exit when the whole of the world seemed to shake, the Togrutan pair collapsing onto each other as the battle demanded they detonate now.

Repulsors failed, soil tumbled throwing himself over Syffa, Hymra was entombed in the wet bog.

<<<<<>>>>

Light and air burnt his face and scratched his throat as clawed hands dug him free from his premature burial.

Harsh high pressure water struck his face bloating off the dirt and debris as hissing accented voices with a purring lilt filled his ears as the dirt was blasted out.

As his eyes finally adjusted he saw a vast crater where the ancient wall had been, LAAT’s and Juggernaut Tanks littered the edge of the breach his explosive had created, hundreds of tiny white blobs in the sand that looked like seashells on a grey shore were the Clones bodies.

Smoke was still pouring from the ancient citadel…and Droids were still patrolling the walls

“Uphhh,” the extended constant of a non-basic speaker demanded as something sharp was pushed into his back and he looked to where the camp had been.

There was even more smoke and ruin there, and ARC-170 nose down in the mud, Vulture droid wings sparking, the forward command post was a shattered melted ruin, the direction of damage all indicated to Hymra there had been an orbital strike.

But how? They had control of space for weeks?

“Movehhh” the voice demanded, a feline face popping out of a leather outfit with metal piece riveted on, a sparking pink device in its hand.

“Wha…” before he could ask the pink think jolted him into throes of pain, his face hitting the dirt, witnessing close up more feline hands dragging Syffa out of the dirt.

The kicked him toward a group of the 63rd, men only, the women were in smaller groups seemingly divided by age.

Disra was among them as Hymra plonked down.

“What happened?” he asked

Disra looked up from between his legs

“They abandoned us…we blasted the walls then…The Fleet just left, something about Coruscant under attack, they just left, they just left, they just left….”

Disra rocked as if a Guru reciting a mantra.  It was easy enough to piece together what must’ve happened next, without the air superiority provided by the Fleet, the Separatists struck back from above as the Clones advanced, the attack through the breach the sappers had cut down from above…but who were the felines?

Syffa was pulled, by the Mercy of the Graces alive, and pushed along to one of the groups of the younger women.

“Who are they?” he asked, Disra wasn’t speaking, only Tojun replied after a few minutes.

“Zygerrians,” he whispered in a voice as flat as his face.

“Slavers,”

<<<<>>>>
Logged

Lord_S_Gray

Surik: "Kreia, what are you—are you a Jedi, a Sith?"
Kreia: "Does it matter? Of course it does, such titles allow you to break the galaxy into light and dark, categorize it. Perhaps I am neither, and I hold both as what they are, pieces of a whole."

TheDutchman
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 1026
Posts: 3842


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #433 on: April 12, 2022, 09:16:09 AM »

Harrowing episode of Clone War era tactics, showing not only the individual lives of the combatants (or, more specifically, sapper non-combatants) but also the ramifications of the Republic's priority when it comes to Coruscant...and the price paid by those unlucky enough to be considered "expendable."  It is precisely THIS kind of story (indeed, this EXACT story) that should be told about the consequences of war, the unseen, unheard, and--ultimately--often ignored costs that virtually every politician never has to consider much less, pay.

A stark contrast to the "glories" given to the Jedi and other "heroes of the Republic," we see the grime-filled, noxious, and horrendous living "normal" of those that fight for the Republic only to be cast aside and forgotten at whim.  Hymra Naro's own fortunes goes from hard, to bad, to worse, when he and his fellow sapper crew are first (almost) buried alive, shortly left for dead, and then left to the Zygerrian Slavers.  And this is just the beginning...

...In more ways than one; if I recall correctly, Syffa's name had come up before, in relation to a man whose own experiences bespoke of the hardships he faced during the waning years of the Clone Wars & aftermath, except his name wasn't Hymra Naro, but rather it was...[REDACTED]!  It appears we will finally see just how he came to be the man that we see later on...

Meta-note: First off-this is exciting being able to FINALLY see Hymra's "origin story" and the circumstances surrounding his younger years!  Looking forward to this Interlude  Smiley

BUT second: you beat me by a day with posting my own Interlude, LSG  Cheesy  Your timing is impeccable  Wink
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch of the Vhal'Dan

My sabers:Zearic's Aldrnari, Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, AS; Zearic's shoto, Apprentice v4 w/Obsidian, AS; Graflex SE w/Obsidian, GB; Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, CG; Dark Sentinel v4 w/Obsidian, BR; Sentinel LE v4 w/Obsidian, GB; Initiate v5 w/Obsidian, AS; Sentinel LE v4 stunt, EG; Aeon LE v4 stunt, FO; Dominix v4 stunt, BR; Aeon v3 stunt, SY

TheDutchman
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 1026
Posts: 3842


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #434 on: April 12, 2022, 10:17:55 AM »

This takes place a couple of weeks after the end of "Retrieval."
***************************************************

Interlude-To Secure Peace Is To Prepare For War

“Let him who desires peace prepare for war. Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”
-Master Gray Stryka Annix, Vhal'Dan Kage

"She's beautiful..." Jorya's appreciative scrutiny wasn't the only reason that Zearic smiled at his daughter and in regard to the ship in front of them; he himself was in complete agreement, telling her as much.

"Very true.  But it's what you don't see that is the real beauty." He winked, his once-shaggy beard&mustache now finely groomed.  He looked up at his and Jorya's companion, an enormous white haired Cathar.  "At the risk of sounding sycophantic, this is a brilliant idea, Triarch." He said respectfully.

Smiling tightly, Alcyorr Kål Rhadde--Commander and Triarch of the Vhal'Dan Cataphract Battalion--stared intently at the newly manufactured ships occupying the main floor of the hanger bay.  As the brilliant Zonama Sekot day shone through the camouflaged hanger entrance, it seemed to spotlight the craft in question.  Although originally a Sienar Fleet Systems design, these particular ships had been modified by Vhal'Dan systems engineers, pilots, and even the Triarch himself.

The TIE Defender.

Or at least it had started out as that.  Now?  Well, that was reason for Jorya's and Zearic's admiration.

The ship was one of three full squadrons newly finished, each of them displaying a stylized sapphire-blue lightning bolt amidst a sleek black-and-gray color scheme.  And although only 9 of the 36 ships were specifically allocated to the Cataphracts at present, another 18 were being retrofitted specifically for the remaining two Troika.  Thus far, each of those first 9 ships had been modified to carry three Cataphract knights--a full Triad--in addition to a dedicated pilot. 

The original TIE Defender design had produced a formidable, multifaceted fighter.  But at the hands of the Vhal'Dan R&D, they had refined the craft, making it stronger, tougher, and even more deadlier.  They were also better armored as well as featuring superior shields, carrying twice the complement of missiles as a normal TIE Defender.  In addition to the standard 6 laser cannons and proton torpedoes, they were also armed with three graser emitters (located on each wing-array pylon), prototype beam weapons also newly manufactured by R&D.  All of this was generated by the powerful and rare Hapan Vlaast-reactor powerplant.

The only downside was that the added weight of both the Cataphracts and extra armament meant that it was slightly slower than the original.  But even despite this contention, the Vhal'Dan engineers had drastically increased the attack, durability, and maneuverability of each craft.

The premiere of the Vhal'Dan Order's fighter corps: the newly-christened "TIE Guardian."

This was Alcyorr's tactical doctrine made manifest: after the Battle of M'Tzigon and Darth Mendax's depravities, the Triarch was reminded that the Cataphracts should be the Order's special operations force, blunting any attack from any and all enemies.  Like the lightning standard emblazoned on their ships, the Cataphracts would strike quickly, burning down their targets with overwhelming power.  With the air/space superiority of this new ship combining the effective martial skills of an entire Triad providing ground-support and fire-discipline, the pairing would be a force to be reckoned with. 

But the TIE Guardian constituted a very small contingent of the Vhal'Dan Navy, each one incredibly costly.  Plus, with the losses that the Order had endured during the Jedi Purge, the Vhal'Dan found themselves with a weakened military complex.  Still, the Order's lack of numbers were mitigated somewhat by superior technology, capital ships, and fighting craft, the initial build-up courtesy of the collective efforts of vocal proponents, the loudest amongst them the Triarch himself.

After surviving Order 66, Alcyorr knew that the best defense was a strong offense and that, in taking the fighting to their enemies, the Cataphracts could defend the Order and the Kage that much better.

And--perhaps most importantly--because he'd actually listened to Zearic when he had told the Vhal'Dan Congress of not only Mendax, but also the murder of Kage Silman Lo, the Black Armors, Cha and his cryptic yet unsettling words that there were things much worse in the galaxy, that even if half of the whispers turned out to be true, the Vhal'Dan would be woefully outnumbered. 

Suddenly the Mak'Tor alliance with the Sons of Kessel seemed that much more important and relevant...a fact that the Vhal'Dan Congress had practically ignored despite the intel supplied by Ken and Jorya (to say nothing of what Zearic had provided).  It was now a stark reminder that the Order needed as many allies as possible, especially in the wake of the Great Jedi Purge.  While the Vhal'Dan had fared better than most other Jedi, their numbers were still diminished: several hundred instead of the Order's several thousand of yesteryear.

That there were barely a mere 3 Troika of Cataphracts remaining underscored this necessity, especially when compared to the Civil- and Second Gray Jedi Wars, the Battalion easily numbered over ten times the current roster...but Darth Vader had put paid to that possibility.  Now as before, it had become imperative that the Vhal'Dan secure strong allies.

Thankfully, there was at least one group with which the Order already had close accord with. 

There existed a long-standing tradition of, if not good-will between the Mak'Tor and Vhal'Dan then certainly civil decorum.  However, the last time that the two Orders had been officially allied was during the New Sith Wars a millennium hence.  While the circumstances of their falling out had been lost among the fog of centuries, what was known was that the two Gray Orders did try to reconcile several hundred years after the Ruusan Reformation. 

Unfortunately, over the span of several centuries, a trifecta of destructive wars--the Civil-War, the First-, and Second-Gray Jedi Wars--all but ensured that the Vhal'Dan had been too busy with its own internecine conflicts to firmly reestablish a secure, official alliance with the Mak'Tor, although they had certainly grown more friendly throughout the centuries.

Well, if Alcyorr had anything to say about it, that too would change.  "Knight Vih'Torr..." The Triarch's deep bass voice was calm, genial even.  "...Please assemble the Troikas."  He smiled down at Jorya.  "I'm sorry, Knight Fa, but I'm afraid we must attend to 'Cataphract Business.'" He said not unkindly.

Jorya bowed formally.  "Of course, Triarch."  She then smiled warmly at Zearic.  "I'll see you at home with Mother."  With the briefest of kisses, her lips pecked the wide Silver Knight's cheek before she departed, soon joined by the inevitable group of koawans that usually found her.  Zearic's gaze followed her, his eyes wistful: Jorya's exploits were well known throughout the Order, her experiences vast for one so young.  His face hardened at that thought.

Youth ended prematurely as a result of war.

Mentally shaking his head, he turned back to the enormous Cathar.  "With your permission, Triarch." He asked before Alcyorr nodded, dismissing the newest Cataphract.

Watching Zearic as he strode away, the Triarch found himself contemplative.  Silver Koawan Zearic Vih'Torr was a bit of a dichotomy.  While he was the most recent of the Cataphract's recruits, he was already a more practiced swordsman and tactician than most of Alcyorr's veterans.  That was one of the major reasons as to why the Triarch had been so ready to enlist the wide human into the Battalion.

Plus, there were those daggers...

Alcyorr was both a pragmatist and a realist; the Order needed the Cataphracts and the Cataphracts needed warriors.  Who else but a former Water Warrior (and veteran of several battles besides) would make a better candidate for induction?  Moreover, much like his ancestors Nurhl and Szammas, Alcyorr was a student of history.

He'd already made a mistake with not recognizing how dangerous Darth Vader and his 501st had been; he'd be damned if he repeated that.

No, the Order must be hardy and hale, standing ready and armored by the Cataphracts protecting the Vhal'Dan.  And as with all instances, knowledge was power.  Alcyorr had listened intently to Knight Vih'Torr, his assertions as well as his assumptions, to get a more, complete picture using all resources at his disposal.  That was what it meant to be Triarch.

And he was determined to honor his ancestor Triarch Nurhl Båz Rhadde...while avoiding the fate of Triarch Ma'dak Storr.

He vowed, like Nurhl before him, to stand as Sword and Shield for his Order, his home.  "Malja watan." He whispered.  It was a Cathar dictum, one spoken since the near genocide of their race.  It meant "may you always find home."  For Alcyorr, that home was the Vhal'Dan, one he was more than willing to fight and die for if need be.

Slowly he inhaled, looking down at the new armor that R&D had designed.  While the armor had the bulk of the previous versions, the veneer was instead akin to gunmetal quicksilver, the entire suit a new reactive polymer alloy, stronger, more durable, and more flexible.  Integrated weapons systems including ammunition were pre-programed nanite constructs, exponentially increasing staying power in firefights. 

All thanks to advances in quantum-tactical mimetic materials.

Gone were the days of expendable Dover Catalyst; this new quantum-crystal self-replicating nano-armor could sustain itself in battle much longer.  In addition to the increased ammo yields, the armor's resilience had been increased five-fold.  No longer needing the ablative capabilities of the previous armor, the quantum-crystal nano-alloy relied on the principle of quantum entanglement--in this case between the armor itself as well as the vast munitions stores located throughout the galaxy in top-secret Vhal'Dan black sites--to virtually instantaneously repair the armor/replenish ammunition.

There were, of course, drawbacks.

First, the only platforms sturdy (and ironically, small) enough to utilize the technology were the Cataphracts armor and weapons systems.  Second, the system could not be implemented in large-scale structures, like capital ships; the quantum-crystal nano-alloys would--even in moderate quantities and proximity--prevent all forms of hypermatter from working...leading to, thirdly, an uncontrolled chain-reaction of quantum detonations that would all but wipe out any baryonic matter in a vast area. 

Those reasons were why Vhal'Dan R&D was able to utilize what would otherwise be an incredibly niche invention.

The Triarch smiled at the irony: war seemed to always be the most important factor in creating new things.  Alcyorr donned his helmet, his face-plate polarizing so that it exposed his entire face whilst maintaining an his suit's independent climate-controlled environment/integrity.  He could literally walk through water, dioxins, or even hard vacuum without hesitation; his suit's self-containment ensured Cataphract survival in the most hellish of environs.

And with the suit's marriage to the new TIE Guardian...well, the symbiosis between ship and Knight was a potent advantage.  ...Maker-send that there are only so few of us left... He lamented.  Nevertheless, he would keep his Cataphracts and his Order as safe as he could.

As the old axiom contended, "knowledge is power."  The intel that Zearic Vih'Torr had provided was absolutely worth its weight in coaxium, regardless how precisely he'd obtained it.  The Triarch's blue eyes narrowed; he could not care less of Zearic's status as a pariah.  Vih'Torr had done what he'd done for the protection of his family as well as the Order.  If that wasn't a worthy cause, then what was?  Besides, he'd admitted his fault, agreeing that his punishment was just.  Alcyorr knew that he would be a fine addition to the Cataphracts, lingering questions be damned.  Let the politicians debate ad nauseam the "morality" of it all.

Like the Arbiter.  Alcyorr sneered.  Listian had always been a self-important pfassk; intelligent and capable, yes, but an insufferable frellick who was not as skillful as he believed himself to be.  ...Maker save us from the machinations of politicians and fools... He prayed.

Turning on his cybernetic heel, he strode through the hanger bay, headed for the Battalion barracks.  Today marked a new day: for himself, for his Cataphracts, for the Vhal'Dan.

Yet, try as he might, he worried that without strong allies, even his Cataphracts and TIE Guardians would be insufficient the task against what was coming...

...Whatever that may be.
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch of the Vhal'Dan

My sabers:Zearic's Aldrnari, Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, AS; Zearic's shoto, Apprentice v4 w/Obsidian, AS; Graflex SE w/Obsidian, GB; Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, CG; Dark Sentinel v4 w/Obsidian, BR; Sentinel LE v4 w/Obsidian, GB; Initiate v5 w/Obsidian, AS; Sentinel LE v4 stunt, EG; Aeon LE v4 stunt, FO; Dominix v4 stunt, BR; Aeon v3 stunt, SY

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