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Author Topic: Brothers  (Read 43625 times)
Karmack
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« Reply #180 on: August 16, 2018, 06:56:47 AM »

Whoo!  When you answer a question you Answer a Question!  Nice, tight action and a very unexpected twist at the end.   So ... Revan's mask.  At least one guy is more interested in the Mask - and what it may mean to his personal immortality, presumably - than in any loyalty to the Revenant.   I did not see that coming.  Presumably neither did the Wraith leading this attack...

Of course, this could all be a trap...

Lots for the Brothers to sort out.  But for the moment, things are looking up at the Archive.  Now...

What happened to D'Aylanna?Huh
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Lord_S_Gray
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« Reply #181 on: August 16, 2018, 03:11:38 PM »

This tit for tat battle can't go on forever - but overall it appears* that the Templars are slowly getting an upper hand - they are able to call in more allies and are now getting turn costs (who will probably betray them sooner or later but anyway...), i don't think the Revanant can replace ranks quite as quickly or bring in support from outside*.


*noting as is often said nothing is what it seems in this story!
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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
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« Reply #182 on: August 16, 2018, 04:32:23 PM »

This tit for tat battle can't go on forever - but overall it appears* that the Templars are slowly getting an upper hand - they are able to call in more allies and are now getting turn costs (who will probably betray them sooner or later but anyway...), i don't think the Revanant can replace ranks quite as quickly or bring in support from outside*.


*noting as is often said nothing is what it seems in this story!

Good point...

I have to wonder though ... can these Iron Knights turn to the Dark Side???   
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TheDrunkenConsular
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« Reply #183 on: August 16, 2018, 04:33:55 PM »

Good point...

I have to wonder though ... can these Iron Knights turn to the Dark Side???   


http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Luxum_(Jedi)
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Karmack
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« Reply #184 on: August 16, 2018, 05:07:39 PM »

LOL  Yeah, I just found a reference on Wookipedia, too.  Apparently one of the Iron Knights turned to the dark side, Luxum, when Hosk Station was destroyed.   So...   Possible!
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« Reply #185 on: August 17, 2018, 01:46:37 PM »

Well...

I did not expect that!  Not only the timely arrival of the Iron Knights but the intervention of a separate group of Revenant!

AND an alliance (of sorts)?!?

Good thing that Heditt has gone far and widely travelled in the galaxy! 

But I've got to ask: if the Revenant are just one of Kadmaur's secrets, I shudder to think what else he neglected to mention  Smiley

Fantastic narrative TDC (and nice easter egg with the provenance of your name  Wink).
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« Reply #186 on: August 22, 2018, 02:09:00 PM »

CHAPTER 26: Steel Guard

     “Tasrii, you and Faradi are in charge!  Rawbacca, get to the Fugitive, plot a course for Taris and get our friends on the holofeed!  Kathracite, send a squad of your men with him, and Commander Tarr, you send two squads.  Nadia, you’re with us!  Edda, you too!  Get changed out of those bloody clothes and meet us on the ship!”  Rakham barked orders to his comrades.  The timing was deeply unfortunate, but he knew, he could feel it in his bones, that if they didn’t make it to Taris very, very soon, something bad was going to happen.  He strode purposefully through the great hall, stepping over debris and bodies, almost nonchalantly reaching out a hand and calling a dropped shattergun across the room to his grasp.  He racked the rifle’s bolt and marched towards where Faradi stared down Anzio Ket.
       “You.”  His voice was even, calm and almost friendly as he addressed the turncoat Wraith.  “Please, don’t take this to mean that I’m unneighborly, or unappreciative, but I have to leave now, and I want you to understand that if you try anything, and I do mean anything, you will be introduced to a world of suffering that you cannot possibly comprehend.  You will not be allowed reprieve.  You will not be allowed death.  The price of crossing my people is far, far higher than you know.  If you wish to gain access to the contents of this Archive, your only course of action is to answer this man’s questions, comply with his orders and wait patiently for our return.”
       “I believe you.”  Anzio replied.  “We’ll be sure to wait quietly.” 
       “Good.  Faradi, stay sharp.  We’ll be back as soon as possible.”  Rakham said, and with that, made his way out of the charred entrance hall, to where Rawbacca was prepping the Fugitive.  Faradi opened his mouth to speak, but pursed his lips and waited patiently as a dozen Mandalorians trotted out of the door, followed by the squad of Iron Knights deemed by Kathracite to be in the best condition, and finally, Edda Veek, running full tilt to catch up, a black cloak fluttering behind her.  It was only a second before the roar of the ships engine’s filled the air, and the old freighter rocketed off towards the horizon.  Faradi cleared his throat, and removed his silver mask, letting it clatter to the floor.  His hard yellow eyes burned into those of the Wraith, his face as hard as stone.  Anzio was no taller than Faradi, and his frame was broader than the Twi’leks lanky build, but somehow he still seemed to tower over the Wraith, the darkness of his presence building into a hurricane as the hatred he normally controlled so thoroughly built.
        “I’ll make you a deal.”  He intoned coldly, summoning the Wraith’s golden lightsaber from the floor to his hand, and holding it out for the other man to take.  “Make your move right here, right now, and I’ll defy my Master, and grant you a merciful death.” 

       The room became very quiet for moment.  The remaining Revenant traitors behind Anzio shifted uneasily, knowing that they were outgunned by the Templars and their Iron Knight comrades.  Sahka Tekk licked her lips with a hiss, breaking the silence.
       “I’m sorry to disappoint you, friend, but I don’t have any move to make.  What I’ve said was true; we really do come in peace.”  Anzio said.  None of the Force-sensitives detected any dishonesty in his words, but that wasn’t a guarantee that it wasn’t there.
       “Good.”  Faradi said, flashing a gold-toothed smile, his darkness diminishing as quickly as it had appeared.  “You’ll understand, of course, that there are security precautions we must take.  You’ll be given comfortable quarters, but placed under guard for next day or two until we decide whether or not to trust you.” 
      “Completely understandable.  We’ll consider ourselves not prisoners, but protected guests.”  Anzio said, returning the smile.
     “Sahka, would you be dear and take a contingent of these Iron Knights to settle our ‘guests’ in to Block 4?”  He said, referring to an unused section of living quarters, that conveniently were very far from the Vault and Armory.
       “Of coursse.”  Sahka replied, licking her lips again and eying the Revenant like a starving man might look at a bowl of stew.
       “My thanks.”  He said, before raising his voice.  “Tasrii, Commander Tarr and Kathracite, could I speak with the three of you?” 

       He took a moment to straighten his black robes as the Revenant were marched away and the leaders he’d called for gathered.  Soon, it was only the four of them standing on soot blackened stone amongst the dead.  It was strangely quiet.
       “How did Edda do this?”  Tasrii said, kneeling by a melted Revenant droid and poking at it.
       “Very carefully, I presume.  I’ve not managed to master the art of pyrokinesis, but in principle, it’s a matter of creating friction in air molecules to generate heat, then manipulating the burning oxygen.  I’ve never seen or heard of pyrokinesis on this scale, but it’s fair to assume that Edda may have a more intimate understanding of flame than the average person.”
       “Poor girl.”  Tarr muttered.  He didn’t know the grim details of the starship crash that had left Edda orphaned and scarred as a young girl, but he understood the gist of it.
       “Indeed.” Faradi said, and cleared his throat.  “Down to business, however, give me your casualty reports.”
       “I lost three men.  Two more look like they might not pull through, and half a dozen sustained injuries that will keep them off of their feet for a few days.”  Tarr said. 
       “How many do you have in fighting condition here at the Archive?”  Faradi asked.
       “Nineteen.”
       “Kathracite, did you lose anyone?”
       “No deaths, sir.  We have had several of the rushed repairs fail, however, and several more sustain damage in the fighting.  All in all, eleven of us require critical maintenance.”
      “Alright, Tasrii, what about us?”
      “Callo Morn took a nasty gash on his leg that he’s having looked at, but you know how those two are.  Tough as bolts.  Stikes, Hul, Sahka and Stringer Morn are all fine apart from scrapes and bruises.”
      “Excellent.  Tarr, I would like for you to pull your other combat engineers to help the Iron Knights.  Now that we don’t have to rush, we can start giving them the full retrofits they need.  Kathracite, I’d like for you to prioritize the order in which we upgrade your squads and start sending them to the workshop.  Rotate them out, we have to keep a constant and overwhelming guard on the prisoners.  Commander Tarr, if you will, have your men clean up this mess and make sure your defensive emplacements are in order, then all of you take the rest of the day and tomorrow off to recuperate.  Tasrii, gather up the Templars and assign a guard rotation to the Revenant to assist the Iron Knights.  I’ll be in the workshop, helping with the maintenance.  Feel free to come and find me if I’m needed elsewhere.”  Faradi said, before stooping to retrieve his mask from the floor as the others began scurrying off to do his bidding.  He used the cuff of his sleeve to brush a splatter of blood off of the mask with a grin, and took off towards his workshop.



       Six hours later, the Templars’ limited reserve of parts was getting dangerously low.  There were six Mandalorians, Nemo, the cyborg Treller and Faradi himself working in the crowded workshop, the acrid smell of soldering smoke mixed with that of sweat, oil and fresh paint in the air.
       “We’re almost out of spare servos!”  One of the Mandalorians piped up.
       “Same goes for hydraulic fluid!”  Nemo shouted from the far end of the workshop.
       “Alright.  Everyone, finish helping the knights in front of you and stop work.  I have to speak with Kathracite.”  Faradi called out in response, and rose to his feet, dusting himself off and wandering out into the hallway towards Block 4, where Kathracite would be overseeing the confinement of their prisoners.



       It wasn't the workshop that Faradi brought Kathracite back to, but rather his laboratory.  He spoke as they walked.
       “There’s a project that Master Crescentfall and I have been working on for a very long time.  They were meant to be a new breed of battle droid, based on a prototype he built long ago, that are capable of defeating… well, anything, but specifically hostile Force Lords.”  He paused as they entered the laboratory, flipping a switch on a breaker panel near the door.  A light flickered on in a dark corner of the room, revealing five upright figures under white sheets.  Faradi made his way towards them, carefully dodging the various workbenches scattered about the room, and one by one pulled the sheets away, revealing the droids under them.
       “The frames are made from beskar alloyed with Songsteel.  We had to murder, steal and beg to find a metallurgist capable of creating the alloy, and convincing him to actually do it cost three years of my research funding.  From there, the electronics are run through triple-EMP shielded tubing, powering silent running servos capable of generating enough to torque to tear open a starship’s hull.  That was another year of my funding. Over the framework are two inch thick plates of beskar, laminated with double layer of cortosis weave.  Nearly indestructible.  As you can see, the feet and hands are equipped with protrusions to assist in unarmed combat, and each forearm has a built-in electromagnetic shattercannon, which fires under the hand, across the palm.  In addition, two focused-beam weapons are placed by the photoreceptors under the armored mask.  However, the crowning achievement of the weapons outfit is the lightsaber.  Rather than a conventional saber, it uses an array of three deliberately stressed synthetic crystals.  This makes the blade significantly more powerful than the average lightsaber, but also far too dangerous for an organic to use.  The average user would not have the strength to control the gyroscopic force, and the heat generated would melt the skin from their hands.”  Faradi gushed proudly.
       “Why aren’t they being used?”  Kathracite asked, moving closer to inspect the larger body.
       “Because we haven’t been able to find or design a good enough droid brain.  Everything we’ve tried is too slow to keep up, and Master Crescentfall own programs often have trouble inhibiting agression.”
       “I think I can see where you’re going with this.”  Kathracite said.
       “There’s a catch.  I understand that your agreement with Heditt Crescentfall was temporary.  After you’ve helped us, you’re going to search for your comrades.  I am willing and eager to install five volunteers into these droids, but they will have to become Templars.  These are too dangerous, and have cost us too much, to let out from under our supervision.”
        “I understand.”   Kathracite said.  “It’s good of you to be responsible with such power.  I imagine I won’t have trouble finding five volunteers.”



     Each droid was two meters tall, with slabs of Mandalorian iron covering them like ancient plated armor, darkened to a deep metallic grey.  Their heads were were smooth, with rounded masks making up their faces, broken only by a horizontal slit through which round photoreceptors shined.  Their shoulders were covered by thick pauldrons, and the right pauldron of each droid was anodized in a different color, corresponding to the lightsaber they carried.  Red, blue, green, purple and yellow. 
     In front of the droids, Faradi and Tasrii stood.  In front of them, there were five of the Iron Knights who had volunteered to join the Templar Order.
     “Khyber, Bondar, Corusca, Damind and Dragite.”  Faradi addressed them. “You’ve volunteered to join the Templar Order permanently.  It’s important that you understand what that means.  As a Templar, you will be permitted access to the full amount of knowledge collected by our Order, and to the artifacts we have amassed, and installed into the superior droid bodies behind me.  In return, you may occasionally be given missions to investigate or recover artifacts, knowledge, or persons of interest, but your most important responsibility is the defense of the Archive and it’s contents.  If these terms are not acceptable to you, there will be no consequences, but I ask that you speak up now if you protest.”  When none did, he turned to Tasrii.  “Knight Kepressa, if you will?”
       Tasrii stepped forward, with her hands clasped behind her back.
       “Khyber, do you swear to protect the Archive and the Order with your life?  Do you swear to serve the Force, and to respect the decisions of the Masters?” She asked.
       “I swear.”  Khyber replied, and Tasrii moved on to the next.
       “Bondar, do you swear to…”



     An hour later, Faradi was neck deep in work preparing the droid bodies to accept their new hosts, and Tasrii was headed towards Block 4 with Sahka.  Soon, they reached the row of doors, each of them flanked by two guards.  Tasrii noted that there were several Mandalorians scattered among the Iron Knights, and stopped to question one.
       “I thought Faradi gave you all the day off?”
       “We volunteered to continue our work, ma’am.  No rest for the wicked, things being as they are.”  The guard replied cheerily.
        “Thank you.”  Tasrii replied sincerely, clasping the man’s armored shoulder.  “We want to interview one of the prisoners, do you know where the leader is?”
        “Two doors down, ma’am.” 
        “In that case, this one will do.”
        The guard nodded and opened the door.  Inside, the furnishings were sparse.  It appeared that the whole room and it’s furniture had been carved from stone; there was a bed, a table and a long seat, but otherwise, the room was bare save for it’s occupant.  The Revenant there was a fairly average looking man, with brown hair, pale skin and dark eyes.  Around his right eye a series of interwoven red rings was tattooed.  He was sitting on the bed, but sprang to his feet when the door opened.  He was silent as the Templars entered and closed the door behind them.  Sahka stayed by the door, and Tasrii walked over to face the man.
       “My name is Tasrii Kepressa.”  She said.
       “I know.”  He said, then gulped nervously.  “I mean, my name is Rahl.”
      “Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Rahl.  Please, have a seat.  I have a few questions for you.”  Tasrii said, gesturing to the table.  She sat down across from him, resting her armored forearms on the table.  “I imagine you can guess the most pressing question on my mind.”
       “I don’t like to assume, ma’am.”  He gulped again, as beads of sweat began to appear on his brow.
       “Well, I don’t mind it so much, so I’m going to operate on the assumption that your master is telling us the truth.  Tell me, why have you decided to turn on your people and side with us?”  Tasrii’s ice blue eyes bore into him like laser beams.
        “Because you’re going to win the war.”  He said.  Tasrii could not sense any dishonesty, nor did she sense that the man was significantly powerful.  He was a footsoldier.  She arched her eyebrows and waited for him to continue, and he obliged, beginning to babble almost uncontrollably.
       “You have to believe me!  The masters, they’re arrogant.  They think that you’re fools because you’ve fallen for their traps, but every time, you hit us back harder than we hit you.  They haven’t been on the receiving end like we have yet, I’ve been killed twice by you people, my mate Artheld three times.  Anzio was killed once.  We’re running out of droids and we’re running out of men.  You have the mask, and all the other artifacts from the Traitor’s stash, and we don’t want to die anymore.  The Masters think that they have the upper hand because you always fall for their traps, but when you manage to seize the upper hand each and every time, who’s really being had?”  He said anxiously, as Tasrii considered his words.
         “Tell me, which traps have we fallen into?”
        “First, the listening post.  It was a test of your reconnaissance abilities.  Then the two attacks on the Archive.  The first was to test your defenses, see just how stout they were, the second was to plant a spy here.  You were always supposed to capture one or more of that strike team.  The masters have a telepathic link to them, especially Innia, the Wraith you captured.  They see what she sees.  That was where things started to go wrong.  They didn’t count on your man Faradi, or his methods.  Instead of a weapon on the inside, they were left with nothing more than a camera that spends most of it’s time in a dark box.  Still, they’ve been able to glean some information when you discuss your strategies in front of her.  Then there was the trap on the planet ILNM-293.  At first things looked promising, we were able to capture prisoners and kill some of you, but the masters hadn’t counted on the amount of droid casualties sustained, or on the broken Innia giving up the locations of our outposts.  The casualties inflicted both on our droids and our men when Crescentfall overran them were unsustainable.  There was meant to be one final, fell swoop after you learned of the base on Taris, with one group attacking here and another setting a trap on Taris.  They didn’t know that you would be reinforced here, and when Master Anzio found out, he developed his plan.  He killed those who were in charge of observation before they could report to the other masters and gathered those of us he could trust.  We decided that out chances of survival are a whole lot better here with you than with them.”
       “Wait.  What’s going to happen on Taris?”
       “I don’t know, and that’s the truth.”  He insisted.
       “Alright.  One more question.  Why are you so nervous if you’re telling me the truth?”  Tasrii’s stare had not softened even an iota.  Rahl glanced uncomfortably at Sahka, then back to Tasrii.
       “You two killed me.”
       “Fair enough, then.  Thank you for your time.”  Tasrii said, standing up and walking towards the door.
       “Wait, Master Kepressa!  What’s going to happen to us?”

       Tasrii stopped dead in her tracks, but it was Sahka who spoke, for the first time.
       “That depends on what happens at Tariss.”

CHAPTER END

       
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« Reply #187 on: August 23, 2018, 12:23:26 AM »

The tide is turning?Huh

Maybe? Getting some good equipment to press their supposed advantage. Wise move bringing the turncoats in, chances are they will turn again (do it with you they'll do it to you...) but at least they can get something out of them for the moment.

And poor Rahl...dead twice...that must suck - I wonder if there is a limit to how many times they can be brought back, or what is lost in each revival - one would think if they renewal is perfect and complete they would have dominated this war (if not the galaxy) by now as they can learn from mistakes much easier...but given they want the archive something must not be quite right about their ability.   
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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."

Karmack
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« Reply #188 on: August 23, 2018, 08:19:06 AM »

And the mission Tariss...  That whole situation is still up in the air, and frankly if that ambush works it could still be very bad for the Templars.

Somehow I feel like this is far from over....
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« Reply #189 on: August 23, 2018, 08:58:06 AM »

This is the reason that I like Rakham so much: he's the realist that will take whatever resource that he can in order to cement a victory and help/save his people.  Including--no, especially when it means getting his hands dirty  Wink  On that point, I love the irony of Faradi promising a merciful death to Anzio; just gives that much more insight on a character I already like  Smiley

But now, thanks to Rahl, we get some insider intel and details on the Revenant leadership and their motives/plans.  I have to say that I love how Faradi threw a wrench in their plans to install a spy in the Templar Archives; brilliant!

You know, LSG brings up a VERY good point: just how would dying (twice!) affect someone?  Something I hadn't considered for the Revenant...

I like the turn this has taken TDC!  Let's see where we can go from here...  Wink
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« Reply #190 on: August 23, 2018, 11:52:41 AM »

I am also liking the "enhanced" Iron Knight / Iron Templars.  :-)
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« Reply #191 on: August 27, 2018, 01:36:23 PM »

I agree with everything everyone has said. The whole Revenant dying and coming back different thing is really interesting. And that little detail at the end. Khal was killed by both Tasrii and Sahka. That was a nice bit of morbid humor. Grin

I'd love to see the Iron Templars going up against the Aethans Mark IV droids. That would be a battle for the ages.
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« Reply #192 on: August 27, 2018, 01:52:58 PM »

I agree with everything everyone has said. The whole Revenant dying and coming back different thing is really interesting. And that little detail at the end. Khal was killed by both Tasrii and Sahka. That was a nice bit of morbid humor. Grin

I'd love to see the Iron Templars going up against the Aethans Mark IV droids. That would be a battle for the ages.

LOL

I'd like to see an Iron Knight take over a Mk IV droid body....   ;-)
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« Reply #193 on: September 08, 2018, 10:10:09 PM »

Chapter 27: Traps, Part I

Skulking along the pyramid’s narrow tunnels in its top level, Teks was able to clandestinely penetrate further into the structure without so much as being seen.  And although she could feel the effects of the Force Suppression that surrounded the pyramid, she seemed to be less affected by it than her companions.  Normally that might have been strange but… Once again, her memory failed her.  She could feel it as if on the tip of her tongue, a memory that tickled but elicited nothing exact.

Such was her existence now and since she’d washed up at Nadia’s cantina in Nar Shadda.  Teks could remember absolutely nothing prior to her time with the Templars, even the sporadic moments of deja vú only served to confound her more.

Much like the numerous tattoos covering her body.

She’d sought answers hoping that someone—anyone—could help her find answers.  Her multiple tattoos were indecipherable and none alike.  And even though Master Rakham could not decrypt them, he’d at least given her a home…

And Faradi…he seemed to trust her.  Certainly enough to carry this mask from Master Rakham’s Vault.  And while she had not put it on, she had kept it this entire time on her person.  She was still unsure as to what Faradi had wanted…or expected.  Nothing had seemed to happen.  And perhaps nothing would…

She edged around a bend in the tunnel, wary of the low droning that seemed to grow louder the further in she went.  Leading with her blaster rifle, Teks continued down the corridor, the walls backlit with a red light coming from the ceiling.  With the Force in her, she could feel signs of life before she saw them…or in this case, heard them.

Like a crashing wave, the angry, savage sounds of what she knew to be rakghouls pounded through her, each bass cadence reverberating through the walls as well as her chest.  …down… She thought, able to determine the vector.  And about halfway down the tunnel, there was a ragged hole in the floor and wall, a horrible reeking smell accompanying the grinding, inhuman shouting.  Dousing the electric lamp attached to her rifle while she pressed the bag containing the mask deeper into her web-belt, she peered downward through the hole, careful not to expose too much of herself.

Even with the limited red lighting, she could see that the room was packed full of rakghouls, waves of the creatures roiling through the room, some of them biting and even eating the weaker ones.  There was no door that she could see…

Then with a deafening suddenness, Teks jumped at the sound of a colossal grinding of stone against stone.  It was then that she saw the creatures begin to…the best description was “drain” from the room through a widening hole in the floor.  …pressure trap… She knew all about the devious snares.  Clearly someone had triggered it from below…

Shaking her head, she thought about the mission at hand, her Master having explicitly and emphatically entrusting her with the true objective: retrieve the information in the datanode.  With a little luck, it would contain the intel that her Master required.  Without a backwards glance, she left the hole behind, making several turns as the tunnels finally led her into a small, sequestered room.

She remained motionless at the doorway, body and senses alert, her rifle held at the ready.  She could feel…nothing, nothing at all.  And while she was certain what that entailed, she was nevertheless grateful.  She was about to enter the room when she felt it: a…sensation in the back of her neck.  She would sometimes get these flashes, not exactly premonitions but a…glimpse of possibilities.

Without moving a muscle, she scrutinized the room within, the lone, unobstructed dataterminal incongruous with the ancient stone setting of the pyramid.  Slowly scanning the darkness of the room, her eyes saw a slight inconsistency in the room.  Almost straight ahead, the lightless blackness within the room seemed to be just a shade off.  She doubted that most people would have noticed it.

But she had.

Bending at the knees, she kept looking intently, analyzing the stimuli as she compiled all that she saw within the seconds it took her to slowly kneel.  …there… Now that she knew what to look for, Teks could make out other details.  The “discrepancy” was at about chest level and, unless seen at an extreme angle, effectively invisible.  She searched for other tell-tale signs in front of her.  There was nothing.

She moved in the room at a crouch, shifting the webbed bag with the mask so as to be more comfortable.  Simultaneously, she thoroughly scanned where she intended to go.  It was a short distance to the dataterminal.  Reaching into her tactical utilities, she withdrew a crystal datanode, a Galactic universal port jutting out of the edge.  Checking that it would fit, she inserted the crystal, allowing the device to do its work: accessing and downloading all of the dataterminal’s information.  She took the opportunity to look behind her towards the doorway.

From this perspective of within the room, now she could identify what she’d spied in the doorway: it was a line of nylasteel vibrowire strung between the walls.  Anyone not perceptive enough would lose their head...literally.

When the crystal began to blink, she knew that the download was complete.  Withdrawing the datanode, she placed it in a secure pouch within her vest.  …time to go… She would be glad to get the hell out of here.

That’s when she felt it: a massive disturbance in the Force.  Unaccustomed to the…alien feeling, she only knew that she must hurry.  And, once again by instinct, she sped down tunnels, leading both further in and downwards, the mask in the webbed bag smacking on her leg as she ran.  She didn’t even need to consult the schematic readouts that Faradi had given each member of the team; she knew where to go.  Part of her thought that should concern her.

But right now, she didn’t care.

The suddenness with which the tunnel opened into the large central antechamber surprised Teks, her green eyes blinking at the increased luminosity of the light.  Within the room was a central alter, a simple stone stile with an orb contained in its base, several stone bridges leading to staggered levels, a stairway in the corner nearest her, and finally a doorway on the opposite wall.  

Berra was kneeling over someone by the stile, amidst the grisly remains of a body that had been bisected from groin to neck, its head cut cleanly from its body.  As Teks got closer, she finally saw what—or rather who—Berra was crouching over.

It was D’Aylanna.

Teks immediately saw that the diminutive woman had a vicious cut across her neck, blood completely drenching the front of her black utilities.  Her glazed eyes stared unseeingly off in the distance and she was not breathing.  Berra was attempting to Heal her but to no effect.

“Teks…” The Miraluka said quietly.  “…I can’t…I tried…D’Aylanna…”  If Teks didn’t know better, she thought that Berra could be crying.  Perhaps there was more here than she knew…

As if reading her mind, Berra spoke, her voice breaking.  “Jorsk…he’s d—he, he died saving me.”  She shook her head.  “First, Irris…then Jorsk… I…I can’t lose anyone else.”  

Teks looked down at Berra as she cradled D’Aylanna.  And without warning she dropped to her knees, knocking Berra to the side.  As had happened before, Teks…acted.  She wasn’t quite sure what it was that she did but she only knew that she could do something.

Grasping D’Aylanna by her head, Teks focused intently on the other woman’s pale face.  As she concentrated, a verdant almost pleasant glow surrounded her.  She only knew that this was what was required, not “how” it was being done.  Slowly, the radiance crept up Teks’ arms, engulfing D’Aylanna, the energy shining more brightly.  Then it shrank into the Hapan woman, not quite disappearing when the light touched her skin.  Exhausted, Teks gulped in deep breaths of air, her shaking arms barely holding her up.

Berra had turned to her, a look of abject shock upon her face.  “…Teks…what…what did you do?!”  The Miralukan placed her hands upon the blond woman, directing Healing flows of the Force into her.

Nodding gratefully, the ashen coloring of Teks' face began to disappear although she still looked pale with dark circles underneath her eyes.  “force…drain…” She began, almost at a whisper.  “…reversed…”  For such quiet words, the response that they elicited were deafening.

“‘Reversed Force Drain?!’  Teks…that could have killed you!  I don’t even think that Master Rakham would have done that, the consequences being what they are…”  Slowly, Berra’s voice trailed off as she focused upon D’Aylanna, thinking that she must have been mistaken with what she’d sensed.

And then D’Aylanna breathed, a ragged, wheezing breath but where before she hadn’t at all… And that was not everything: the Hapan woman’s throat had closed, her pale skin recovered some of its olive complexion although her blue lips still looked white.

But D’Aylanna’s eyes remained closed, and not with the healing quality of sleep.  No, her unconscious state was indicative of a coma and a deep one at that.  

Slowly, Teks rose to her feet, still unsteady, but her face looked satisfied.  Yet, a small, almost insignificant thought pestered at her.  …why would I do that…who is D’Aylanna to me…?

But even before Teks could follow that line of thought, Berra placed a hand upon her forearm.  “Teks…how…why would you do that?”  Again, Teks’ mind examined her own reasoning, giving rise to a slowly growing uncertainty that she couldn’t put finger to…

“…need…her…” Teks heard herself say.  “…defeat…Revenant…powerful ally…”  It made sense to her, tactically they were stronger with D’Aylanna than without her.  But even though she’d said the words, part of Teks knew that she it was more a justification than a motive.  Unconsciously, her hand slowly stroked the bag holding the mask…

            <<<<< >>>>>

Berra was still amazed.  Not just that D’Aylanna was breathing again—thank Ashla!—but also with Teks… Berra had known the pale woman since she’d joined the Templars, and she’d spoken more in the last few minutes than the previous years.  To say nothing of the fact that Teks knew such a technique, much less had used it in such a fashion.  

Put simply, it was unlike anything that Berra had seen Teks do or expected.

But now was not the time; she could explore this enigma later.  “Teks, were you successful?”  The other Templar woman slowly nodded, still unsteady and looking worse for the wear.

Grabbing her comms, Berra pinged her Mandalorian escort.  “Sergeant Alvai, do you copy?”  Berra’s Force senses were a little better than before.  Since killing the Revenant, the Force Suppression surrounding the pyramid had diminished but had not disappeared.  That alone made Berra wary.  There must be other Revenant about, probably rakghouls too.

“Good copy, mistress.  Proceed.”  Sergeant Alvai’s brisk tone came from the comm.  Berra breathed a sigh of relief.

“Sergeant, I need for your fireteam to join me in the main antechamber.  Mistress Vih’Torr needs immediate exfil and I need for someone to carry her; I have a feeling that I’ll be needing both my arms for saberwork…”  Berra’s lightsaber was still in her hand.  Squaring her shoulders she took several calming breathes.

“Here Teks, I have some skill with Healing.”  The Miralukan said, approaching the shorter woman.  Still unrecovered, Teks nodded gratefully.  In the minutes that the women waited for Sergeant Alvai, Teks had regained much of her color although her eyes were dark and sunken.  Still, when the tall Hit Squad sergeant approached, Berra breathed a bit easier.

“Thank you, Lhyli.”  Berra’s grateful tone made the Mando sergeant grin somewhat sheepishly.  Of course, all members of the Hit Squad Fireteams revered Berra.  They believed that her Miralukan ancestry was a sign of Enlightenment, despite Berra not believing in the tenets of Akaanati'kar'oya.

Not to mention that she and Jorsk had been close.

Gently, Sergeant Alvai laid an armored hand on Berra’s shoulder.  “Mistress…I’m sorry about Jorsk.  He was a true Son of Mandalore.”  Berra started at that.

“Lhyli…how?”  Even partially hidden underneath her blindfold, Berra’s face shown full of surprise.

The tall Mandalorian sergeant held up the datanode embedded in her armored forearm, allowing Berra to feel it.  “Mistress, in my vambrace is a display that shows every Hit Squad member’s name, bio-signs, and range.”  Both women’s faces turned grim.  “…Jorsk’s bio-signs have flatlined… That’s how I knew…”  Berra said nothing, merely giving a small nod.

“Sergeant, let’s get out of here.”  Berra’s voice was durasteel.  Nodding, Sergeant Alvai kneeled, grabbing D’Aylanna and hoisting the small Hapan over her shoulder in a fireman’s carry.  Steadying the diminutive woman with one hand, Sergeant Alvai grabbed her DL-44 blaster in the other.  Teks had also collected her rifle while Berra readied herself in the Force.  Igniting her teal saber, she ran from the antechamber into the far tunnel to hook up with the next fireteam.

No noticed the orb in the base of the stile glowing an eerie black aura.

            <<<<< >>>>>
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
*

Force Alignment: 1026
Posts: 3842


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #194 on: September 08, 2018, 10:16:58 PM »

Chapter 27: Traps, Part II

They hooked up with the three fireteams in short order, backtracking through the tunnels all the while feeling a growing sense of menace.  Even the light illuminating the walls seemed to be affected; the red had deepened several hues giving the illusion that the corridor was bleeding from both sides.

And all the while accompanied by a galling droning like gnashing teeth and the rabid screams of the insane.  Only Berra had it worse: what the others could see, her Force-sense perceived something far, far more dreadful.  By the time that the exit to the pyramid lay open in front of them, Berra had everyone at a brisk run.

Once out of the Revenant ziggurat, the noise increased dramatically.  Even the unflappable members of Hit Squad had begun to look over their shoulder expecting deamons from the abyss to herald their writhing unending torment.

“Run!”  Berra’s voice was no louder than before but to everyone it seemed as if she’d shouted from the bottom of her lungs.  Even encumbered with carrying the comatose Hapan woman, Sergeant Alvai was able to keep pace, conditioning and rising panic empowering her.

No longer on any overwatch, Teks had accompanied the fireteams during their exfil.  So it was that, looking over her shoulder, the pale Darkside Templar saw an overwhelming surge of rakghouls vomited forth from every cavity in the pyramid.  Soon every square centimeter was obfuscated by rakghoul bodies, so dense was the horde.

And they were all giving chase to the fireteams.

Even at a run, Berra kept a level head.  “Sergeant, how many thermal detonators do you have left?” 

The tall woman scowled.  “Two.  Mistress.”  She was huffing breath by now but never once did she waver nor slow down.  …Not enough… Berra thought.  And by what the Miraluka could read off of the auras of the others, they already knew it. 

“Save them.”  Berra’s tone spoke volumes, each and every one of them understood what she hadn’t said: for us.   

Still, they ran.

The avenue was darker than it had been on their way in and as they passed the dilapidated buildings they noticed that the shadows moved.  Identical grim looks of determination were affixed on all of their faces.

And still the noise increased.

Berra felt it before the rest were able to see, but they soon noticed that a cacophony of unintelligible droning mingled with mindless shrieking was coming from in front of them.  With the clamor behind him, the combined doppler effect reinforced the auditory dissonance that grated within all of their ears.

“Mistress?”  Sergeant Alvai’s voice had an undercurrent of panic, panic that they all felt.

Berra projected her senses outward, examining the distance from their point of egress and that of the incoming rakghoul.  And she knew… Berra stopped running, Teks and the Hit Squad Fireteams stopping short, each one taking deep gulps of breath.  One and all, they stared expectantly at the Miraluka.

“Sergeant…we need to hunker down.  Where would you suggest we make a stand?”  Berra’s quiet tone belied her urgency.

Looking around, the tall woman’s almond eyes scrutinized her surroundings.  “Over there, that three-story structure.  With a single entrance, the small doorway will act as a chokepoint.  There’s roof access so we have at least one rallying point.  Corporal Eishan, how are our comms?”  The dark Mandalorian double checked even though he’d been doing so on a regular basis.

“No joy, Sarge.  Not since exfilling from the pyramid.  I can try to reestablish from the roof, hopefully get a line to Mistress Jorya Vih’Torr.”  His piercing blue eyes showed what he thought of their chances but his hard face showed nothing of his fear.

Nodding, Sergeant Alvai started jogging towards the indicated building, D’Aylanna hanging limp across her shoulders.  “Excellent, corporal.  Make it so.”

As they entered the building, they noticed that there were several built-in counters lining a narrow room.  Best of all, the room had an elevated section towards the back.  When the rakghouls attacked, they would have to funnel through the doors and fight an uphill battle.  A turbolift in the very rear of the room let to the roof.  When Corporal Eishan sent the lift back, it stopped almost 20 centimeters short of the floor.  “Dammit.”  Sergeant Alvai swore under her breath.  Berra looked inquiringly at her, the question evident on her face. 

“What is it, Lhyli?”  The Mando sergeant momentarily crossed her arms, the rest of Hit Squad taking up defensive positions.  Teks had found a sniper’s nest but looked to Sergeant Alvai for her answer.

“Mistress…I’m not certain if this lift will be able to take us all to the roof.  I suggest that you, Mistress Teks, and Private Gornt take Mistress D’Aylanna first.  The rest of us will follow.”  Alvai’s hard face showed no trepidation, her voice crystal clear.  Berra understood, nodding.

“Thank you, Lhyli.”  Berra took position by the top of the stairway.  Her lightsaber would provide a solid defense but it was Hit Squad’s sharpshooting that everyone was relying upon.

…And there was always the two thermal detonators.

Everyone hoped that things wouldn’t come to that but deep down knew that there was little chance of escape.  Even if Corporal Eishan was able to contact Jorya, there was little that a single Koawan could do to sway the outcome of such overwhelming odds.

Still, the Hit Squad Fireteams were consummate professionals: with everyone now set up, the entire gallery was pre-sighted.  It would be like shooting porgs with a turbolaser.

Or so they all hoped.  Regardless, they’d done all that they could.  And none too soon, the two converging masses of rakghoul had combined into a single ocean of screaming madness, all of a single mind to attack the invaders.  A Revenant contingency to safeguard their base should anything (or anyone) get past the Shade.

As one, the rakghoul horde crashed into the building, their numbers mitigated as the mindless creatures were forced to enter one at a time through the narrow doorway.  Once again, the Mandos fire discipline was as deadly as it was effective, burning down dozens of rakghouls.  Most were mowed down by Private Gornt’s LS-150 heavy repeater.  Any of them swift enough to get past the first line of fire was met with a second courtesy of Teks’ sniperfire.  And even then if a rakghoul made it past those defenses, Berra’s lightsaber was an impenetrable wall of plasma, cutting down everything that came within range.

…And there was always the two thermal detonators.

Multiple calls of “Changing!” echoed throughout the walls as spent powerpacks were discarded, a new pack quickly slapped into the receiver.  Even with the growing heap of bodies within the gallery, the rakghoul continued to come.  Soon, two members of Hit Squad had to switch to their sidearms, their blaster rifles dry. 

And still they came.

Berra—who prided herself on her hyper-accurate innate spatial abilities—lost track of time.  Had it been minutes?  Hours?  Surely not days… But down in the Underlevel of Taris, she had no possible means to ascertain if it was day or night.  She only knew that it seemed that today was the day that she would stand before Ashla…although, she worried instead that the Dark One, Bogan would be there to collect her soul…

“Changing!  Last mag!”  Private Gornt was down to his last 200 round magazine.  Teks had only two left, one at half charge.  Berra had a growing pile of rakghoul bodies at the base of the stairs, indicative of the decreasing fire coming from the Hit Squad riflemen.

“Out!  Does anyone have a mag?”  Sergeant Alvai tossed a powerpack to the Hit Squad private…Berra couldn’t remember his name…

But before he could slap the powerpack into the receiver, several rakghoul rushed him, grabbing, clawing, biting.  …Tylan…Tylan Contares… Berra thought.  It suddenly seemed to her of paramount importance to know Tylan’s name, to say it… “Tylan!”  Even though Berra’s voice was lost in the frenzied screeching noise, the private gave a solemn salute to the Miraluka in thanks.  Then he pulled the regulator pin to the powerpack.

“Frell you!”  He defiantly yelled at the rakghouls even as his voice—his body—began to change.  “Hit Squa—!”  The powerpack violently exploded, knocking down all of the rakghoul in the room as well as shaking the entire building.  But before the creatures could even rise, they were trampled by the sea of rakghouls waiting outside.

“Pull back!”  Sergeant Alvai’s voice carried in the brief lull.  Everyone gathered around the lift, except Private Gornt and Berra.

“Take them up, Lhyli!”  Berra’s saber cut swathes through the rakghoul masses but everyone that she killed was replaced by two more.  Gornt was firing one round at a time, making as many of those head shots as he possibly could.  “That’s an order, sergeant!”  Alvai looked as if to argue, but Berra could sense her hesitation.  “NOW DAMMIT!”  She punctuated the expletive by decapitating three rakghouls at once.

“You heard the Mistress!  Everyone in!  NOW!”  They all piled in, a tight fit.  Berra and Gornt remained where they were.  Saying a quick prayer in Mando’a, Sergeant Lhyli Alvai gave due to those who had sacrificed much and punched the “Up” button.

The turbolift didn’t move.

There was no response at all; no doors trying to close, no displays lighting up, no movement at all.  Nothing.

Sergeant Alvai gave a morose laugh.  …Of course… She thought.  “Everyone…out.  We make our last stand here, now.”  From the looks on the faces of the rest, they knew what that entailed.  And yet, not one showed any fear whatsoever.  Instead, they nodded to one another and joined Berra and Gornt just outside the lift.

“Looks like we won’t be going anywhere, Mistress.  Looks like the lift got shwacked when the powerpack overloaded.”  Sergeant Alvai’s voice was light, almost conversational.  Berra nodded.  She too understood.  The tall Mandalorian woman took out the two thermal detonators and prepared to prime them.  “Mistress, it’s been a pleasu—”

But just as she was about to depress the buttons to the detonators, the all heard multiple reports from explosions.  And while some of the rakghouls within the building were still intent upon them, most of the others had turned in response to this new development.

Berra projected her senses outwards, finding nothing, feeling nothing…

But then, just on the periphery she felt…someone; no, someones she corrected herself.  Force-users, and powerful ones at that.  And even though she kept a constant vigil with her saber, ensuring that no rakghouls made it past her, Berra breathed a sigh of relief.

Master Rakham must have made it, and with him, the Templars.

            <<<<< >>>>>

They’d been rescued by a joint group of Templars consisting of Master Rakham, Mistress Dala, Rawbacca, Nadia, and Edda, a squad of Iron Knights, two full contingents of Hit Squad mercs lead by Commander Tarr, Koawan Jorya Fah ni’ Vih’Torr, and—most unexpectantly—an entire platoon of Vhal’Dan Gray Jedi, the “friends” that Rakham had commanded Rawbacca get on the holofeed.  And while they didn’t kill every rakghoul, there were literally thousands of the creatures dead or dying around them. 

As soon as she could, Berra approached Rakham and Dala, giving them both a tight embrace.  Sergeant Alvai and the rest of Hit Squad joined the other Mandalorians, all of them distraught at the news of their comrades’ deaths, especially Jorsk Un-Haku.  But they would properly honor them later.

“It was Corporal Eishan’s communique that was able to help us locate you.  Somehow, you all were completely off-grid by a half-kilometer.”  Rakham’s voice was equal parts stoic and relief.

Berra nodded.  “It was the Force Suppression, well at least in part.  There was also an electronic counter-measure signal that had blanketed the entire floor of the Undercity.  Looks like Corporal Eishan was able to get above the jamming…” 

“A fortuitous occurrence, one that Master Rakham’s Hit Squad members were finally able to detect.”  A clear voice came from behind Berra, although she’d sensed this human’s approach.  Turning, she faced the newcomer.  “Mistress Tarun, I am Listian Demarcus, Arbiter of the Vhal’Dan.  It is my honor to finally make your acquaintance.”

He had a kindly face, a graying beard below steel-gray eyes and a balding head.  Slender and of average height, the man was surprising to Berra.  He was incredibly powerful in the Force.  “Arbiter Demarcus, I believe that I owe you and your Gray Jedi a debt of gratitude.”  She covered her heart with both hands, bowing at the neck.

Listian smiled and bowed at the waist.  “Not at all.  Besides, many of us Vhal’Dan owe D’Aylanna much more than just ‘gratitude.’”  He was about to say something else but was interrupted by Jorya.

“Excuse me, Mistress Tarun?”  Berra turned, facing the tall Togruta koawan.  “But just where is my mother?”  Jorya’s blue eyes were full of worry, her hand involuntarily fidgeting with her saber’s emitter.

…By Ashla…I’d forgotten… Berra thought.  “Jorya, your mother was hurt but Teks was able to help her.”  The Miraluka turned back to the tall human.  “Master Rakham, Mistress Dala, I need your help, please!  D’Aylanna needs your skills!”  Even as she spoke, she led them to where D’Aylanna lay.  Jorya rushed up to the makeshift stretcher, gently cradling the Hapan woman’s head in her lap.

“Mother?  MOTHER?!  MOM?!? Jorya’s frantic voice became shrill.  “Please!  What’s happened to her?!”  Her delicate orange fingers gently stroked D’Aylanna’s pallid face, her normally blue lips pale, ragged breathing erratic and wheezing.  Jorya’s quiet sobs filled Berra’s ears, piercing and sorrowful.  For a moment, the Miraluka thought that the Togruta was mumbling but then she soon realized that that wasn’t it.

Jorya was singing.  Listening carefully, Berra thought that the young woman was singing a…Hapan lullaby?  She turned to Rakham and Dala where they spoke in quiet tones off to the side.  “Please Master, Mistress…can you do anything to help her?”

Both of the Templar masters exchanged looks.  “We’ll do what we can, Berra.”  With that, Rakham walked towards D’Aylanna and then, grabbing his wife’s hand, closed his eyes to concentrate.  A soft but perceptible aura encompassed both Rakham and Dala, and when they laid their hands upon her, D’Aylanna as well.

The change was as remarkable as it was conspicuous: D’Aylanna’s neck fully closed, a thin scar the only evidence of the vicious cut, her lips regained their dark blue hue, her deep olive skin recovering from the pallor, the dark circles around her eyes disappeared altogether.

But regardless, D’Aylanna still lay in a deep coma.

Physically, the Hapan woman was in excellent health.  But…for unknown reasons, she was still comatose.

Rakham approached the Togruta, the tall human dwarfing even Jorya.  “I’m sorry, Jorya.  I’ve done everything that I can.  I promise to help out, to make sure that D’Aylanna regains consciousness.  But right now, we need to get the hell out of here.”

Even with red, tear filled eyes, Jorya’s gaze was intense.  As was her resolve.  “I…understand Master Crescentfall.  I…appreciate what you and your wife have done.”  Her eyes suddenly turned hard.  “…And I’ll hold you to your promise.  And so will my Dad.”  She turned to go but paused, quickly looking back and reached up to give Rakham a quick peck on the cheek, doing likewise to Dala.  “Thank you, both of you.”  With that, she picked up D’Aylanna, carrying the Hapan woman in her arms.  The diminutive woman looked like a doll in her daughter’s arms.

“Master Rakham, I’ll give you whatever help you require as well.”  Listian said behind him, his voice formal.  Then, it softened.  “…I know that we’ve all lost some people.  Let’s see what we can do to ensure we lose no more…”  With a nod to Rakham, the Vhal’Dan Arbiter bowed to Dala and then followed Jorya.

Leaving Berra, Dala, and Rakham.

Lost in his thoughts for a moment, Rakham gave himself a shake.  “Dammit, every two steps forward we take, we have to take one back…”  He looked from the Miraluka to the Twi’lek.  “I’m going to make these Revenant pay.  And not just for those we’ve lost…”

From behind him, Rawbacca roared a question in Shyriiwook.  “No, we’re going.”  From his robes, he withdrew the datanode that Teks had silently given him.  “And this time, we have exactly what we need.”
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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