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Author Topic: The Storms of Exodus  (Read 9210 times)
TheDutchman
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Force Alignment: 1015
Posts: 3802


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« Reply #30 on: November 21, 2019, 02:14:35 PM »

Special thanks to PsychoSith for yet another incredible saber pic!  This chapter is dedicated to him  Smiley
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Chapter 8: Disharmony In the Force, Part I

As the large figure of a man emerged from the obfuscating fog along the fumarole valley, he was surrounded by dozens of Jedi, many of them Singers.  One in particular was of a height with him if nowhere nearly as wide although—like all of their comrades—they wore matching sets of power armor.  But it was clearly evident to everyone that the big man was the one in charge. 

Opposite his entourage were two groups of Jedi, the nearest one led by two tall disparate women—one with copper skin and jet-black hair, the other pale and blonde—both of whom converged to join him.  Like the first group they were all armored, each person even now scrutinizing their stark surroundings.  Almost one and all, they still held ignited lightsabers ready in their hands.

The last group, the smallest, had obviously just come from the front lines: their armor was dented, carbon scored, some were missing pieces entirely, their faces one and all drawn, dirty, and exhausted.  Like the first group, they wore the same armor…with one seemingly insignificant difference: a small device hidden in plain sight, an Aurebeshi clef.  Fitting, as it represented the Mak’Tor Cantors.  And at the head of the Cantors was their leader, Director To’Lon’Al’Brem.

“Sulen, Cir-Lan.  Glad to see you both.  Director, good work on the line.” Ga’Lan’Chillum’s deep voice seemed to rumble from the ground, the miasma of thick steam unable to mute the enormous man’s bass speaking vibrato.  He gently yet absentmindedly brushed a stray hair from his forehead with his free hand.  In his other he held his saber, the blade humming and pulsing ever so subtly.  And much like him his weapon belied just how dangerous it really was.  Even in the thickest fog the orange-bladed saber seemed to glow preternaturally.  And for good reason as it beheld a marvel: instead of a normal kyber crystal, Galan’s saber was powered by a rare Dantari crystal, one that allowed the Mak’Tor Kage to channel Force energies spent in battle into his own potent battle Songs.  Taken in conjunction with his incredible Singing talent, Galan’s Songs were a force unto themselves to be reckoned with.

As the Brotherhood had witnessed ad nauseum.  At one point Galan had come across the Dark One’s lieutenant: the Sith Lord Kopecz.  While the Twi’Leki Darksider was stronger, Galan was more skilled.  It was only by the intervention of a contingent of Sith Juggernauts that Kopecz had emerged alive…only to flee in terror of the Mak’Tor Kage.  As Galan had attempted to follow he was continually thwarted by each of the Juggernauts, only to have them fall one by one under his orange blade, the Song he subvocalized supplementing his prowess.  By the time the final Juggernaut lay dead at his feet, Kopecz was long gone.  But there were other Sith to fight.

Galan smiled mirthlessly.  There were always more Sith to fight.

So imagine his surprise when he found himself suddenly surrounded by a battalion consisting of his Singers and the Vhal’Dan Forcesages.  Looking around, he’d noticed that there were only a handful of red blades still in motion and even those were steadily getting fewer.  Soon afterwards, he spied Cir-Lan and Sulen.

“By the Maker it’s good to see you Lord Chillum…” Cir-Lan’s tight voice sounded as exhausted as she looked.

“It seems that the Brotherhood is pulling back, thanks to you my lord.” Sulen nodded in deference to Galen, the Vhal’Dan Arbiter looking decidedly…clean, he thought.  Saluting Director Al’Brem as she came to stand by the Mak’Tor Kage, the tall woman’s eyes locked onto his.  “Forgive me my lord, have you seen Rikard?”

Galan squinted in worry.  “Sorry Sulen, I’ve not seen Lord Macias since last the Cataphract’s stand in the Blood Valley…” Galan had overheard some of the other Jedi referring to the fumaroles within the basin as such.  It was an appropriate moniker.  “…But last I heard, he was with General Båz Rhadde.”  Again he absently brushed some stray hair from his brow, the man’s face as hard as the surrounding rock strata.

“Thank you my lord.” Sulen nodded again, her silver blade casting shadows across her face that did little to hide the worry that she clearly felt.  And like that, she seemed to sag in her armor, the possessed aura around her giving way to tiredness.  Yet still she stood upon her feet, if swaying a little.  Suddenly, Cir-Lan was there next to her as Sulen draped an arm over the tall woman’s shoulder.  Gratefully, the dark haired Arbiter smiled as she leaned against her companion, the two women appearing to have a mix of black and blonde hair as they put their heads together.

Galan could empathize; he’d seen many of his own Mak’Tor Singers fall to the ground consumed by exhaustion as they obstinately refused to quit with their Battle Songs.  And it had been worse for the Cantors: from what Galan had personally seen, almost every Cantor had refused to quit in order to propagate the Army of Light’s Songs and Force abilities…even as they died as a result.  Glancing at Director Al’Brem, the Kage was amazed that the smaller man was still standing.  Even now, Galan could feel the Cantors’ propagation with the Mak’Tor Healing Songs.  But weaker than before.  …So few left… He thought as he counted—and recounted—those left standing.  Where before there had been hundreds, now…

…Now there were only a few dozen.  Galan prayed a silent litany to the Maker imploring upon Him to welcome those whom had fallen for their sisters and brothers, for the entire galaxy…

But their sacrifice had not been in vain.  The Brotherhood had been crushed, the remaining Sith Lords in full retreat into the mountainous caves at the other end of the fumaroles.  Already there was talk of pursuit…but Galan had silenced that, at least for now.  Their own people needed tending to, rest and Healing to be administered, to save those that could be saved…

Galan looked around at all of the bodies strewn about the ground, many of them wearing the armor of the Army of Light…too many of them in Galan’s estimation.  And while he promised that the dead would be given their due, he knew that they were beyond such concerns now.  Besides, he had promised to take care of the living first.  Speaking of which…

“Excuse me, To’Lon,” He said to the Cantor Director.  “Cir-Lan, Sulen…if I may?” He offered.  Both women gave small nods but their faces were a mirror of the other full of appreciation.  Drawing the energies from the crystal within his saber, Galan Sang a complex Healing motif, one designed to comfort as well as invigorate.  Even amongst the Mak’Tor, it was a rare ability but it was one in which Galan was a master.  In moments, both women stood unaided, tall and rejuvenated.

“By the Maker Galan, thank you.” Cir-Lan stretched, renewed.  Almost simultaneously, Sulen’s own response followed, if softer.

“Much obliged, my lord.” Sulen looked stately, her distinguished appearance once again in evidence for all to notice.  Her black hair even seemed to emit its own glow within the fumarole’s miasma of smoke and fog.  Cir-Lan took one look at Sulen, a playful grin breaking out upon her face.

“Remind me not to stand next to you, Su.  You make merely ‘gorgeous’ women look like Hutts.” She mockingly chided.  She gave Sulen a quick hug to take away any sting from her words.  The Vhal’Dan Arbiter was all dignity…except for the wicked smile that slowly spread as Cir-Lan continued.  “One day you’ll have to teach me your secret.”

Galan smiled at the interplay between the two friends, his own worry assuaged by the normalness of the situation.  However, he could feel a tightness at the corner of his eyes, the ghost of a promised migraine beginning to irritate his brow.  It was a warning sign, one of which he was intimately aware of: he’d been Singing for almost the entire day and his body was paying the dividends of his exertions.  He’d been so worried about others… He needed rest and he needed A LOT of it and soon.

He turned to the Mak’Tor adjutant at his right.  “Slo’Ma, get word to Lord Hoth.  Inform him that we’ve routed the Brotherhood and that the remaining Sith have all retreated to the caves past the Blood Valley.”  And even though his eyes hardened, Galan’s voice remained clear and professional.  “And please convey my condolences as I regret to have to report the death of General Charney Kiel.”

“Understood, Kage.”  Slo’Ma bowed, moving off into the obfuscating fog while taking about half of the Singers with him.  As he moved away Galan saw the Vhal’Dan Forcesages approach Cir-Lan and Sulen.  A short, broad Forcesage suddenly came up to the taller Arbiter and enveloped her in his thick arms.  Although he didn’t know Sulen’s husband Master Gray Dyrald Reu Lai except by reputation, Galan couldn’t help but smile at the two of them.  …That’s why we fight… He reminded himself as the lament of those dead and dying gave rise to his own questions.

“Kage…” To’Lon’s voice was hoarse.  Unsurprisingly as he’d been Singing the whole day and most of the night.  “With your permission, I’d like to withdraw back to the *FOB.” His face was a grim mask of determination.  Galan could empathize.

“Granted, Director.” But before the shorter man departed, the Mak’Tor Kage gently grabbed his arm.  “To’Lon…the galaxy owes the Cantors a debt of gratitude, one that I will do everything in my power to repay.”  To’Lon seemed for a moment as if he was going to say something, thought better of it, and instead slowly nodded.

“It is our duty, Kage.  Please, I beg leave of you.”  When Galan nodded, a tight smile upon his lips, To’Lon and his retinue quietly disappeared into the night, the smoky air enveloping them almost as soon as they departed.

Even though he was still surrounded by Jedi, Galan was left feeling alone.  Diminished.  He had to remind himself that such was the by-product of the Cantor’s powers.  …Thank the Maker that they’re on our side… The thought came unbidden but one that, once he’d admitted it to himself, he couldn’t stop considering.  Just what would have happened if the Brotherhood had had such a weapon at their disposal?  He suppressed a shiver.  Hopefully that was one concern that he would never have to contend with.

Before Galan could further command his Singers, he heard Cir-Lan shriek loudly and grab her head with both of her hands.  Echoing eerily within the fumarole canyons, it reminded him of the Mak’Tor shadow-wight of legend.

Being closest, Galan ran to the blond woman as she wordlessly shouted, her eyes shut tight against some terrible vision that she alone could see.  Tentatively, he placed a big hand upon her shoulder.  “Cir-Lan are you unwell?”

Looking up to the large Kage, Cir-Lan’s eyes opened, the red sclera of her eyes in stark contrast to her green irises…yet there were no tears that Galan could see.  “…it…it’s Rik…” Her quiet voice came through clenched teeth.  “…he’s in trouble…we…we need to find him…”  For as pained as her voice was, Galan could sense nothing amiss with her physically.  But he knew that she shared a strong bond with her twin brother.

He acted.

“Gather the Jedi, sweep out and find Lord Macias.”  Looking over Cir-Lan’s head, Galan turned his attention to the Vhal’Dan Arbiter.  “Sulen, help me please.” Gently he had the blond woman sit on a small boulder.  “Don’t worry, Cir-Lan, we’ll find Rik.” He reassured her.

But even as Cir-Lan sat, she slowly shook her head, her eyes once again welded shut.  “…no…no…” She kept quietly repeating over and over, a haunting hopelessness evident in her voice.

               <<<<< >>>>>

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: 1015
Posts: 3802


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #31 on: November 21, 2019, 02:15:31 PM »


Chapter 8: Disharmony In the Force, Part II

…Dammit, no…! Rikard wordlessly cursed as he once again prevented Bane from decapitating him.  Gritting his teeth, the Vhal’Dan Kage pushed hard against the Sith Lord’s red blade, his saberstaff twirling furiously as he lost ground against the bigger man.  Meanwhile, Bane continued taunting him, his deep voice dripping condescension and revulsion.

“You are a fool, Rikard Macias.  Hoth will die.  Chillum will die. Farfalla will die.  The Jedi Order will be annihilated.  And the galaxy shall belong to the Sith.” His saber slammed against Rik’s, the crimson red blade stopping mere centimeters from his face.  Supplementing his strength with the Force, Rik deflected the red blade, spinning his own saberstaff to buy what precious time that he could, desperate to find a means to escape…

…Of which there was none.  “No, Rikard Macias.  You shall not flee from me.  I am Death.  I am inevitable.”  Bane’s voice was tauntingly aggressive, his tone certain, his power irrefutable.  But the Sith Lord was not bragging.  Or at least, not only; Rikard had heard of a Dark Side power, one that would discourage, dismay, and distract.  Clearly, Bane was a master of it.

Dun Möch.

“For every second that you deny me, I shall revisit upon yours tenfold; for every strike that you thwart, I shall redouble my offensive; and for every reprisal you have the temerity to sully upon me, I shall find those closest to you and kill them with impunity.  But I shall not be merciful nor swift in my vengeance; no, I shall savor their screams of agony, their pleas of woe, their pitiful cries of clemency for I shall have none, none whatsoever.”  Bane’s saber seemed to be in five places at once, his powerful offensive testament to his superior skill.  Rikard soon had no fewer than half a dozen burns, most minor but he’d lost the last two fingers on his left hand, vaporized by the Sith Lord’s red lightsaber.  And still Bane goaded.  “Only after I’ve taken everything from them—their eyes, ears, tongue, nose, limbs—only then when they are nothing more than sacks of flesh, rolling in their own excrement…and I’ve lost interest… Only then will I permit them to die.”  Rikard was barely able to get his blade up between him and Bane’s executioner swing.  “But I will let them die as a casualty of nature: either by starvation, thirst, or even the elements.  And I promise you this, Rikard Macias: they will one and all die old.”  The rictus grin that spread across Bane’s face was terrible to behold, mirroring the promised horrors of those that Rikard loved most…

“No!” He yelled, a wellspring of determination strengthening him, renewed vitality spreading throughout his body.  No longer exhausted, Rikard fought furiously, surprise and even alarm evident upon Bane’s face as the Vhal’Dan Kage drove back the larger man, the Sith Lord now on the defensive.  The twin blades of Rik’s saberstaff created a green-white cloud that shielded him from everything that Bane threw at him.  Red-hot fury contorted Rikard’s face as he drove his opponent back further, his retreat within the fumarole canyon flanked by several twisted trees, their bent limbs seeming to welcome the two men.

And with eye-defying speed, Rikard struck Bane a mighty blow across his thigh.  Had he not been wearing armor, Bane would’ve lost his leg.  But distracted by pain, Bane had lost the initiative; Rikard pressed on sweeping the taller man’s legs out from under him.  On his recovery, Rikard’s right hand connected with a sickening crunch to Bane’s face, breaking his nose.  As blood poured forth, Bane was momentarily blinded.

Rikard raised his saberstaff intent on impaling Bane, the point of his green blade aimed right at the Sith Lord’s heart.

Suddenly, something heavy doubled Rikard over.  Winded, he had enough time to see Bane’s enormous fist coming at his face.  The punch caused two things to happen: first, Rikard’s orbital bone shattered, his face beginning to swell almost immediately.  Then second: Rikard was sent flying bodily to the side coming to rest at the base of one of the leafless trees.  Trying hard to clear the cobwebs from his mind, Rikard directed Healing flows into himself while trying to rise.  Incredibly, he saw that Bane was already on his feet, his saber held out in front of him while his yellow eyes starred hatred at the Vhal’Dan Kage.

“That…was a mistake.  Before I was going to simply kill you.  Now: I shall make you suffer.  And before you die be assured that I shall make it my mission in this life to cause as much pain to those you love, not as a means to merely hurt them.  No, rather to wound you, to ruin that which you hold so dear…even from beyond the grave.”  He glanced meaningfully at the saber he held in his hand, the exquisite emitter seemingly surrounded by arcs of red lightning, as if empowered by the Dark Side itself.  “This is my Word.  And by my Word what little life I permit you shall be in horrendous torment.”  Bane grabbed the hilt by both hands, giving a flourish with the lightsaber, immediately followed by several intricate sword katas.

And like the fool that he was, Rikard stood mouth agape at the admittedly impressive display.  His attention fixed upon Bane, Rikard didn’t react until too late to the multiple missiles that Bane had ripped from the canyon walls to inundate the smaller man with.  Several rocks the size of a fist clouted Rikard as he frantically spun his saberstaff in an effort to block them.

But then, Bane was upon him.

In direct contrast to his earlier behavior, Bane’s silence was terrifying.  But that wasn’t the worst of it.  If the Sith Lord had been masterful before with his saberwork, he was preternatural now.  And all the while that Bane’s lightsaber swung, blocked, cut, he now supplemented his offensive with his powerful telekinesis.  And—whenever he could—Bane would clout Rikard with kicks and punches.

In short time, Rikard was bloodied and wounded, his defenses faltering as the Sith Lord pressed his advantage.  Rik knew that he had but one chance: he had to end this and quick.  Using the Force to dissipate the Phantasm that Bane was using to assault his eyes, Rikard did the unorthodox: using his saberstaff as focal point, he suddenly sent green electricity arcing up along the blade, several errant bolts striking him as a result.  This was what made this form of Electric Judgment so unpredictable: without proper time to prepare, the arcing bolts would often strike both opponents.  But, as Rik had to admit, he was desperate.

The results were amazing.  And gratifying.

Rik saw Bane succumb to the lightning, the energy obscuring his face as the majority of the bolts hit Bane all along his head, shoulders, and torso.  Rik gave a tight, mirthless smile.  He wished that he could see Bane’s face as he spit out, “I am inevita—”

Searing pain erupted in both of Rikard’s forearms, quickly followed by a teeth-shattering blow to his face.  He felt another quick succession of white-hot cuts as Bane’s blade cut into his shoulder, leg, and neck.  And quicker than thought, Bane kicked out, his heel connecting with Rikard’s hip, his pelvis shattering.  No longer properly supported, Rikard fell, turning as he did so.  A burning pain lanced up his back as Bane’s lightsaber cut into Rik’s spine, shallow at first but then deeper where the blade half vaporized, half cauterized his left lung.  Rikard felt several other telekinetic blows land before hitting the ground, hard.  Another brutal kick to his abdomen caused Rik to grunt in pain as almost every one of his ribs fractured in several place.  And after what seemed an eternity, Bane stepped back as if he were a sculptor admiring a newly-finished piece.

Breathing raggedly, Rikard spit out blood and pieces of teeth while fighting hard against the oblivion of unconsciousness.  Clouded, his mind sluggishly tried to replay the last few seconds of events.  …What in the Maker-damned hell…?  He impotently wondered.  Trying to focus his ruptured eyes, Rik was finally able to identify the pain in his forearms and hands.  Or rather, where his hands had been.

Now, both arms ended in cauterized stumps just below the wrist.  With only his eyes (moving anything else would produce a painful reminder not to do so), Rik could see that both of his femurs had been broken in multiple places.  He was missing the toes of his left foot and both of his arms were bent at odd angles.  And while he could not see his own face, he knew that almost all of his teeth were shattered if not altogether gone.  From the corner of his eye, he almost detachedly noticed that his ear was hanging off of the side of his face.  And that was only what he could see.

How he felt was much, much worse.

And looming above him, looking every centimeter like the visage of Death, was Bane.  “I told you Rikard Macias.”  But for the look of utter contempt, the Sith Lord’s face was completely impassive, although he had some electric burns along his cheek and scalp (though nowhere near as intense as Rikard had expected).  As if reading his mind, Bane smiled.  “Your pathetic attempts at Lightning are laughable.  Perhaps given time, I could’ve instructed you in the true power of what you attempted.  But I digress.”  He raised his lightsaber, the black metal weapon that he’d named.  “Darth Bane always honors his Word.”

Rikard’s world flashed red, orange, then gray, and finally black.

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*FOB: Forward Operating Base
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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

Karmack
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Light side points please.


« Reply #32 on: November 21, 2019, 02:40:08 PM »

oh...    That's bad.

What a brutal end.  I wouldn't expect much less from Bane, considering what he's ABOUT to do, but that's just so.....

Ouch.

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Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

PsychoSith
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Dark Side Scholar


« Reply #33 on: November 22, 2019, 06:04:35 AM »

Eesh. Grotesque, intimidating, and frightening. Well done!
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Through passion, I gain strength

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Karmack
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Light side points please.


« Reply #34 on: November 22, 2019, 07:33:38 AM »

Eesh. Grotesque, intimidating, and frightening. Well done!

Dittos!

LOL   I was just thinking, Dutchman, how we both have been told we're hard on our Jedi. But this takes it to a new level!     Again I say: OUCH!
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Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

TheDutchman
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 1015
Posts: 3802


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #35 on: November 22, 2019, 08:53:44 AM »

Eesh. Grotesque, intimidating, and frightening. Well done!
Dittos!
Thanks my friends  Smiley

I have to extend yet again my thanks to PsychoSith for his awesome picture!  As soon as I saw it, the scene with Bane just popped into my head (actually dispelling a bit of Writer's Block that I'd been suffering for "Storms"  Cheesy)

As I've said before: I absolutely LOVE being able to collaborate with the friends I've made here in the Forums!  And PS is no different; rather, allow me to stipulate: PS's creative submissions are of the visual medium vs. those of the literary submissions of my fellow authors.  But how inspiring they all are!  To wit: I would have NEVER thought of something as incredible as "The Gray & the Unchained" yet LSG and Karm REALLY created these wonderful narratives that helped me out!  Well, so too did PS with his sabers, especially the "Beskar Breaker" and the "Word of the Sith."  I say now that unequivocally BOTH of these inspired me to flesh out details for the scenes in question: I had the idea of the Vhal'Dan Cataphracts as heavy infantry and the Beskar Breaker just fit that role like a glove.  So too with the Word of the Sith; as soon as I saw it, I KNEW that Bane had to wield it! 

Anyhow, just a bit of the method behind the madness  Wink

LOL   I was just thinking, Dutchman, how we both have been told we're hard on our Jedi. But this takes it to a new level!     Again I say: OUCH!
Heh, yeah...about that. 

First off: Bane has been established as ONE BAD@$$ MF, so I could not in good conscious have Rikard best him.  As I wrote: even had Rikard been at his best, he STILL would've lost.  But moreover, Rikard's utter beating at Bane's hand (and Word  Wink) DOES have a literary purpose: basically Rikard HAD to be [REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED] or it presents a problem for the upcoming chapters!

See?

 Wink
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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

Karmack
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
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Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 1142
Posts: 5566


Light side points please.


« Reply #36 on: November 22, 2019, 09:48:49 AM »

LOL

Clear as mud!   :-)
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Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

Lord_S_Gray
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Force Alignment: 288
Posts: 1592



« Reply #37 on: November 26, 2019, 03:24:46 PM »

Brutal and vicious on all fronts as this whole story has been, unrelenting in every way as a war between Jedi and Sith ought to be. the I am Inevitable reminded me of Thanos in Avengers, a similar determination and merciless streak to their characters, as well as imposing size and physical prowess. No matter what success the Mak'Tor just had, the price was high with the Cantors, they are bleeding each other white, and with Rikards loss too, i doubt that day will be seen as a 'victory' in any sense. Looking forward to how this plays out with he already fracturing Vahl Dan political situation.
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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."

TheDutchman
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« Reply #38 on: December 07, 2019, 02:06:09 PM »


Chapter 9: Blood Brothers

As he stepped into the clearing where the Army of Light had bivouacked their forward operating base, To’Lon took notice of the mood that pervaded the camp: overall, it was celebratory.  Word had spread from the front lines that the Brotherhood had been crushed, that the Dark One himself had thrown down his lightsaber in retreat.  Jedi in clean, undented armor laughed while others loudly proclaimed “The war is over!”  To’Lon had to suddenly sidestep a speederbike, one ridden by a very young looking Padawan.  Without so much as a backwards glance—much less any apology—the Padawan sped on, yelling a wordless cry of victory.

…Fools…Maker-damned fools… He thought.  To’Lon knew that these were the newest reinforcements, those that had never seen combat.  And now, it seemed like they never would…

…Or at least that’s what almost everyone was saying.  But he knew better.  He…and the Cantors.  Oh, there were others who were not celebrating: almost every Mak’Tor Singer was all too occupied for merriment as they continued to Heal the worst of the wounded…those that could be saved.  Even with potent Healing motifs, the number of dead was staggering.  And not just for the Cantors…

As To’Lon continued walking towards the section of the base that the Cantors had made their home, he walked by a ring of surrounding Vhal’Dan Jedi.  For a moment, To’Lon stumbled; had he…had he subconsciously walked this way?  Even now, the Cantor Director wasn’t sure of the answer himself.  Mentally squaring his shoulders, To’Lon made himself look around.  He’d been so concerned about his Cantors that he’d not given a thought to any of the other Jedi that he’d fought besides…no, not “besides.”  With.

Putting one armored boot in front of the other, he stepped to the nearest Jedi, another human that didn’t respond to To’Lon’s presence.  Instead, she had the “1,000-meter stare,” one that the Director associated with one whom had been in the thickest of the fighting.  Subvocalizing a motif, To’Lon gently touched the large woman’s shoulder while he tentatively wove a calming Serenity Song about her.  Almost immediately, she turned her light brown eyes towards him, the look of gratitude evident upon her face.  Quietly she spoke, her lilting sonorous voice almost incongruous with a woman her size.  “Thank you, Director.” She intoned, unsurprisingly.

…Of course… He thought.  “You’re welcome.” He smiled.  …Dammit, what was her name…?  He wanted to pull out his hair: even though he’d spent the bulk of the day fighting next to them, To’Lon still did not know most of the names of the Vhal’Dan Cataphracts.  “Maker keep you.”  To’Lon whispered, lest he be heard by one of the other Coruscanti Jedi.  Not that he cared one way or another if they labeled him an apostate, but after the day that he’d had… Shaking his head, To’Lon knew that he had no time to waste.  The Song was clear…

…But he knew that he could spare a few, brief moments, especially for those that had stood, fought, and died besides the Cantors today.

Briefly, To’Lon turned his neck, his eyes staring straight towards where he knew that his wife and family were… Even now, they were preparing, preparing for the One.  Would it be enough?  A single tear escaped his eye, slowly rolling down his bearded cheek.  Yea, Maker hadn’t they sacrificed enough?  Surely, if anyone had earned a reprieve, it had been the Cantors.  Yet, again, the large Cataphract’s grateful face loomed large in his memory, her comfort mitigating the horrors that she’d experienced…that she’d shared by fighting alongside his Cantors without complaint or once ever giving into the fear that the Cataphracts surely had felt…felt yet buried as they worked those enormous lightsabers against the Sith…

Blinking himself back to the present, To’Lon gave himself a tight, mirthless if patient smile.  Like he said: a few, brief moments…

Spying from the corner of his eye another Cataphract, To’Lon saw a large Cathar that was missing half of his mane, burns covering his face as he writhed in agony in his tent as the medics valiantly worked, applying poly-bacta upon the worst of the injuries.  He knew that it wouldn’t be enough.  But he could help…

…At least for a few, brief moments.

Stepping into the mobile hospital, he quietly, selflessly offered his help, To’Lon already subvocalizing another Serenity motif mixed with Healing.  It was the right thing to do.  It’s what the Maker would want for him to do.

To’Lon smiled, thinking of his wife.  Yes, that was true…but more importantly, it’s what Sa’Ra would want for him to do.

And like an angle of mercy, To’Lon moved down the line to the next casualty and the next and the next…

...For a few, brief moments.

               <<<<< >>>>>



With his Word firmly within his grip, the lightsaber an extension of him, Bane looked upon the ruined thing before him that had been Rikard Macias.  He felt no hatred, no irrational anger—only that which empowered him, strengthening his connection to the Dark Side—no pity.

He felt only finality.

That was why as Bane was about to cleave the broken man crumpled at his feet, the large human squinted, his own red blade reflected in his eyes, his senses completely alert as he felt more than saw movement.  With no time to spare, he intercepted the incoming teal blade as he adjusted to this new threat.  The being that had attacked him—a Cathar he now saw, his orange fur matted against his gray armor—was even bigger than Bane, the lightsaber gripped within his paws massive.  Yet even as his opponent struck at him, each attempt to find as opening in Bane’s defenses, the enormous two-meter long blade was already in motion with a speed that belied its size.

“Sith bastard…” The Cathar spit, his carbon-scored armor testament to the ferocity with which this Jedi fought.  He waded closer to Bane, his sharp teeth gritted as he struck again and again.  Here was an opponent that could match the Sith Lord in savagery.  Bane grinned.  He looked forward to proving to this Jedi the power of the Dark Side…

“Yes, Jedi, come at me.  Come…and drink fully from the cup of defeat that your comrade drown in and know that—like him—you shall look up upon me from my feet, victim to my supremacy.” Bane taunted, deeply wrapped in his favored Dun Möch form.  It was then that he received his first shock: instead of growing angry or frightened, the Cathar did the unexpected.

He smiled.

“‘My comrade?’  You mean that pfassk over there?” He glanced where Rikard lay.  “Frell him.  And frell you too, you Sith tralk.”  As Bane’s shock momentarily took ahold, the Cathar’s blade bit into his black vambrace, the smell of burnt flesh filling his nostrils.  Withdrawing, Bane shook his head as he recollected himself.  And none too soon as the Cathar was on him immediately.

But not before Bane had recovered.  As the Cathar struck thinking to impale him, Bane swept his lightsaber wide, blunting the Jedi’s offensive.  Like he’d done before, Bane wrapped himself in the Dark Side.  This time without any flourish, he attacked.

Hard pressed, the Cathar gave ‘way, retreating across the uneven canyon floor, the quartz within the walls reflecting their lightsabers as they struck, locked, riposted all in an effort to gain advantage.  Both would occasionally use a Force Push, or send various missiles comprising of different rocks at one another, although with less and less frequency, evidence of their exhaustion.

The Cathar’s two-meter blade suddenly crashed down upon Bane’s, stopping mere centimeters from the human’s face.  Growling wordlessly, the Cathar’s breath felt hot upon Bane’s brow as his saber slowly sunk millimeter by millimeter towards the Sith Lord, threatening to cleave his head in twain.  But right before the plasma blade touched Bane’s nose, he deliberately clamped his hands around both hilts, pushing them both towards the ground.  Caught by surprise, the Cathar was clouted across his snout by Bane’s headbutt.  Without pausing, Bane then projected a concentrated yet powerful Force Push that hit the Cathar in the solar plexus, knocking the air from his lungs as well as off his feet.  Losing his grip upon his lightsaber, the Cathar hit the ground hard.  Reacting by instinct, the Cathar rolled slightly to the side in an attempt to evade.  Instead, he roared loudly as Bane drove his red blade down with the intent to impale his opponent through his heart.  The only thing that saved the Cathar was the fact that he’d shifted to the side, so instead of striking center-mass, Bane’s lightsaber stabbed into and through his upper chest near his shoulder.  A brutal elbow crunched into the Cathar’s already broken nose, knocking him nearly insensate.  Nearly.

“Brrggh…ast..rd…” He gurgled, wheezing as a result of the collapsed lung pierced by Bane’s lightsaber.

Looking bored, Bane slowly withdrew his blade in order to prolong the Cathar’s misery.  “No, I knew my father.  But he…he definitely was a bastard.”  He grinned.  “Shall I show you what I did to him?”  Theatrically, he raised an open hand, slowly closing it into a fist.  “After he’d beaten me yet again—for the last time as it turned out—I lay awake upon my bed thinking…wishing that he was in agony, that his heart would be crushed as if in a mechanized vice…” Bane’s fingers wrapped in upon themselves while the Cathar began to cough, “…and that he would die in immeasurable pain and terror, the pure dread that he would suffer…” His gloved hand became a fist, tight and solid, as the Cathar fought for breath, choking while impotently clutching his throat and chest, “…all the while wondering just how it was that his life was slowly taken from him…” Bane held up his fist, the Cathar’s eyes bulging as his mouth spread in a silent, breathless scream, “…and when I awoke in the morning, I found my father dead, having asphyxiated, his heart crushed, just like in my dreams…my waking dreams.” Bane smiled knowingly.  “I’d always wondered what he’d thought in those last seconds…perhaps you’ll show me?”  Bane’s teeth gleamed red as if he’d drank blood, reflecting the light of his saber.  The Cathar began to gurgle in the vain attempt to draw breath.

Suddenly, something small and fast hit Bane a glancing blow across the brow of his head, the rock hitting the far canyon wall.  Blood flowed, obfuscating his right eye as the Sith, stunned, looked around the canyon for the culprit who would dare molest him…

…Fixing his eyes upon the broken body of Rikard Macias.  Propping himself painfully up on one elbow, the Vhal’Dan Kage was even now attempting to follow up on his attack.  As other rock missiles followed, Bane contemptuously batted them away using the Force as he took a step towards Rik…right into the waiting grasp of the Cathar.

Grabbing Bane’s ankle, both the Cathar and Rikard gave a mighty Force Push.  And even though Bane was able to mitigate the worst of the Push, he lost his footing, landing heavily by the Cathar.  Without waiting, the Cathar’s enormous claws raked down upon Bane’s face, further blinding the Sith.  The Cathar grabbed Bane by the throat, his paw squeezing with every kilogram of effort.  This time, it was Bane that fought to draw breath.

Quick as it began, the Sith Lord ended it: focusing, he grabbed the Cathar in a crushing Force Grip, propelling him away…a missile that hit a prone Rikard Macias bodily.  With a sickening crunch, the two bodies collided in a tangled mass of broken limbs, rent armor, and flowing blood, blood which when mixed seemed indistinguishable from the other.

Rising on unsteady feet, Bane attempted to staunch the flow of blood that threatened to completely blind him.  Assessing his injuries, Bane knew that he would have to do something and quickly for his right eye as well as the orbital bone on that side.  But aside from that, Bane only had two- or three somewhat serious lacerations, and those could wait while he killed these Jedi bastar—

Bane pulled himself upright, his body locked motionless like a statue as he focused the Dark Side to aid his hearing.  For a second, he thought he’d heard…

“Over here!” Came a piercing cry, one that even now grew in volume.  “I think they’re over here!”

Gritting his teeth, Bane took a split second to decide between his desire for vengeance…

…Or his duty towards the destiny of the Dark Side.

There never was a moment of doubt.  Turning on his heel, Bane closed down his Word, the red blade extinguishing and leaving the canyon in darkness.

Bane took comfort in that, going so far as to grin.  Indeed, eventually the entire galaxy would be consumed in darkness, slave to the Darkside and ruled by the TRUE Sith.

As Bane walked away, he reminded himself that he would inaugurate a new age for the Sith.  And he knew exactly what he needed to accomplish first for that to occur.

And as the Sith Lord strode away, the ragged breathing of the two broken Jedi stubbornly refused to cease as Rikard Macias and Sarll Båz Rhadde both clung to life.

When the Jedi led by both Ga’Lan Chillum and Cir-Lan finally found the two Vhal’Dan, they had both succumbed to deep and unwaking comas.
Logged

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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

Lord_S_Gray
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« Reply #39 on: December 11, 2019, 04:12:03 PM »

Blood Brothers...a very fitting yet ironic title for Rikard and Saril, bloodied might be more apt now though, Bane really stomped them both, yes he too some solid hits himself, but in the end one on one he had their measure, and is certainly written here very well as a merciless but ingenious warrior who combines brute power with finesses and a particular Sith philosophy.  Where to from here for the Vhal'Dan though...even the legendary singers might not be able to repair the enormity of the damage inflicted on Rikard...
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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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Light side points please.


« Reply #40 on: December 12, 2019, 02:30:21 PM »

Blood Brothers...a very fitting yet ironic title for Rikard and Saril, bloodied might be more apt now though, Bane really stomped them both, yes he too some solid hits himself, but in the end one on one he had their measure, and is certainly written here very well as a merciless but ingenious warrior who combines brute power with finesses and a particular Sith philosophy.  Where to from here for the Vhal'Dan though...even the legendary singers might not be able to repair the enormity of the damage inflicted on Rikard...

Honestly, I am shocked that Rikard is still alive.  Its a testament to his strength in both body and force.  But you're right, even he may not be able to come back from that much damage.

And Bane is just IMPRESSIVE.   Ouch...
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TheDutchman
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« Reply #41 on: December 16, 2019, 11:00:30 AM »


Chapter 10: Hope Deferred

“…Even the Singers don’t know when he’ll wake up.  If he will…” Cir-Lan’s voice dripped bitterness, her eyes red from crying.  “…oh frater…” Her voice trailed off, a grimace upon her face.  Slo’Ma couldn’t tell from her demeanor if she was angry, frightened, or sad.  More likely a combination of all three.  Gently the tall Mak’Tor Jedi rubbed Cir-Lan’s shoulder, his sympathy overshadowing his own grief.  …Time for that later… He thought.  But when he turned his head to look upon the man he considered brother, he once again felt his own emotions trying to break free.

Suspended in a bacta tank, the broken body of Rikard Macias floated, his chest slowly rising and falling as he breathed…but that was all the life that Rikard had shown since being brought to the Singers, wounded and comatose.  

The Singers had tried everything, from Healing motifs to Rejuvenation compositions; even a Cantor was called in to aid with the Song potency.  And without a doubt, Rikard would have died if not for the timely intervention of them all, each Singer Tuning Rikard as best they could.  The results were extraordinary; much of the mortal damage that had been done was remarkably on the mend.  Better still: the Singers had been successful in healing the cut that Rikard had received along his spine.  However, they were still worried about a few severe contusions and deep lacerations, like the cut along Rik’s throat.   …Thank the Maker that Rik will walk again…if ever he awakens… Slo’Ma thought, poignantly echoing Cir-Lan’s worries.  

He knew that the Mak’Tor were amongst the best in the galaxy, so much so that there were numerous clinics that had been established, especially within the Rim Territories.  The Mak’Tor had become virtually synonymous with healers.

Yet despite their best efforts, the Vhal’Dan Kage remained in his coma.

“…Damned Sith…” Cir-Lan’s sullen tone cut through Slo’Ma’s ruminations.  She suddenly barked a laugh, one without any humor.  “Even that frellik Sarll regained consciousness, although it will be awhile before he’s up and walking, that much more time for him to be a threat to Rik again…”  Unshed tears shone in her eyes.  Slo’Ma felt impotent.  He worried that anything that he said would sound disingenuous.  

So the Mak’Tor Sage of Song said nothing, instead subvocalizing a Serenity motif…for all the good that it did.  Yet within that shared silence, the two of them found some comfort in their lament, both pleading to the Maker for mercy.  Meanwhile, the only response that seemed to greet them both was the clinical loneliness of the hospital.

Rubbing the shorter woman’s back, Slo’Ma sighed as they looked on in silence, the world around them all but forgotten…

               <<<<< >>>>>

“…With the remaining Sith congregated within the tunnels hidden within the mountainous terrain.  Best estimates places their strength at a couple hundred, but certainly no more.  And My Lord, the Dark One is with them.”  Sulen’s clipped tones had little to do with alacrity.  She was just as concerned about Rikard as Cir-Lan and Slo’Ma and would’ve been (and wanted to be) right there alongside of them.  But she had a job to do.

“Thank you, Arbiter.” Lord Hoth’s voice echoed within the warroom, the space absolutely bursting at the seams with the Jedi gathered there.  Those three brief words were punctuated with the rage that Hoth had carried with him since the Ruusan Campaign had begun in earnest.  Point of fact, his anger had since become almost legendary.  As Sulen scrutinized the Seneschal, she could see that such was not an embellishment: the man’s face looked as if he’d swallowed something sour while his angry eyes kept straying towards General Farfalla.  Suddenly, the room felt much, much smaller.

Speaking of, even though the building was a prefabricated structure, Lord Hoth’s headquarters had a permanence about it, testament to the longevity of the War.  And—equal proof of its import—the entire upper echelon of the Army of Light was now in attendance, most of whom were in the very room.

Nodding, Sulen gracefully took her seat, her luxurious black hair reflecting the muted light of the warroom.  Arranged around an enormous circular table, the Jedi Lords, generals, and leaders of the Army of Light sat in collective silence, still absorbing the situation report that Sulen had just finished disclosing.  Almost every face wore an identical look of triumph but for a few very exceptions: most notably General Farfalla, Jedi Lord Chillum of the Mak’Tor, and the Seneschal of Light, Lord Hoth himself.

The air within the warroom was oppressive, almost electric.  This was as a result of the thinly veiled animosity between General Farfalla and Lord Hoth himself.  They were as different as night and day: Farfalla was compassionate while Hoth was pragmatic, yet both were staunchly entrenched in their convictions, each spurred on by powerful emotions.  Still: they were incredible tacticians, both on and off the field.  And—if rumor was to be believed—they’d recently reconciled.  Although Sulen wasn’t certain, she’d heard whispers that the only reason for that was the loss of a dear friend that the two shared.  Regardless, the two Jedi would never be friends; the best that could be said is that they shared a grudging respect of one another.

Sulen took in everything, her eidetic memory recording the proceedings for posterity.  And, unless she missed her guess, this was more than just a mere “momentous occasion in time.”  

Certainly not the way that most of the Jedi were thinking of.  Sulen almost smirked; there were always short-sighted fools, many responsible for history repeating itself…

“You see?  The Brotherhood are finished!  We’ve won!” Cried one of the Coruscanti Jedi Lords, Xam Cvetkovic, inadvertently epitomizing exactly Sulen’s worries.  She glanced at him briefly before continuing her scan of the room.  Which was why she—and she alone—saw the look that passed between Lord Hoth and General Farfalla.  …They know something, something they are unwilling to share… She surmised.  Focusing on the two men, she muted the others who had begun celebrating prematurely around her.

Little details became crystal clear: the tightness in Hoth’s eyes, Farfalla’s lips thinning, both of the men were perspiring more than the temperature would account for, the subdued, almost imperceptible shared look as their eyes locked together for an instant, conversations passing between them in the span of a breath.

Sulen looked around surreptitiously…and was certain.  She was the only one to have noticed.  But what to do with such information?  Once again, she turned the volume up to listen to the congregated Jedi as they continued to congratulate each other.

That is until a deep bass voice boomed throughout the room quieting the entire assembly.  “SILENCE!”  Every eye turned towards the speaker, a man who virtually dwarfed almost every other Jedi in the room.

Jedi Lord Chillum stood from his chair his full height; he was almost as big as Wookie.  Addressing Hoth, the Mak’Tor Kage was an impressive and imposing sight especially in his war-torn armor.  “My Lord, the Brotherhood is still a threat; they are not defeated by any stretch of the imagination.  If they are allowed to escape, the Sith will continue to be a lightsaber in the galaxy’s back.  I propose that we finish them off now, en masse.  No quarter can be given; the Sith will never relent.  Never.”  The big man looked around the room, deliberately pausing to stare at Jedi Lord Cvetkovic before he began speaking again.  “The Army of Light has lost too many good Jedi to capitulate now.  I—” He emphasized, “—have lost too many of my men and women to dishonor them by taking now the path of least resistance.”  Chillum’s voice lowered, still resonating throughout the room.  “I will not let their sacrifice be in vain.”  He once again turned towards Hoth.  “My Lord, now is the time for action, for strength…otherwise those who have died will have done so to no purpose and we shall all have to answer for our mistakes and sins.”

As Lord Chillum retook his seat, silence reigned throughout the room.  And throughout the Mak’Tor Kage’s entire diatribe, neither Hoth nor Farfalla had once blinked, their faces identical masks of impassivity.  

When the Seneschal finally spoke, the anger that had seemed as much a part of him as his own skin was conspicuously absent, his tone hard yet reasonable.  “Jedi Lord Chillum, we all know of the sacrifices that you, yours, and the Vhal’Dan have suffered especially during this campaign.  We have ALL lost friends, family, and comrades.  But know: that each and every death is a tragedy, one that I keenly feel...”  His voice was suddenly full of emotion, the passion evident as his fist beat upon his cuirass, “I'm dying with every Knight…every death is a burning nail in my chest!  And the Jedi must survive…for the sake of everyone in the galaxy.”  Inhaling slowly, Lord Hoth stared straight into Chillum’s eyes.  “I concur with your assessment, Lord Chillum.  But it is for my reasons stated that I will divide the army into three: the Core Jedi will go with General Farfalla, the Rim Jedi—” what he meant were the Mak’Tor, the Vhal’Dan, and other provincials, “—will be under your command.  I shall lead the vanguard composed mostly of Coruscanti Jedi and various specialists.”

Lord Hoth turned his attention to the other Jedi Lords, giving them orders but shortly again addressed the Mak’Tor Kage.  “Lord Chillum, I task you with staying here to secure our *FOB.  Pick out a select few Singers and transfer them to my regiment.”  Lord Hoth then turned to Sulen.  “Arbiter Reu Lai, as you are now in command of the Vhal’Dan, while you are to supplement the Mak’Tor, put together a strike force and have them report to me.”  He then continued giving commands which took care of the minutiae before finally addressing the collective assembly.  “For the first time in almost 1,000 years we have the opportunity to finish the Sith. You have your assignments.  May the Force be with us all.”  Standing, Lord Hoth adjourned the congregated Jedi.  But before he left, Sulen once again saw him share a look with General Farfalla, one full of…resignation?  Regret?  She couldn’t be sure.  But she thought of a parable that Rik had once shared with her, one that had come initially from his Clan…

“Duty is heavier than a planet, death lighter than a cloud.”

Looking at Lord Hoth’s face, Sulen now knew what her Kage and friend meant when he’d told her that story…

She suddenly spied Lord Chillum’s eyes, his gaze locked onto hers.  Knowingly, she nodded; they needed to talk.  With a nod and a brief knowing look, she saw the Mak’Tor Kage gather together his retinue, talking specifically with Master Jar'es'Kinsler.  She ambled with purpose as she navigated the ocean of Jedi that exited the warroom.

First she had to speak with Ga’Lan but then…

…Then she had to see Rik.

And pray like hell that he still lived.

               <<<<< >>>>>



Tears, large and wet, rolled down her cheeks, falling upon the small bulbous green-furred body of the Bouncer that she cradled in her hands.  Anything…everything that she’d tried hadn’t worked, no matter how hard she manipulated the Force.

“I…I tried…” The girl whispered, nuzzling the bouncer. “I’m so sorry, Laa.”

She hugged the Bouncer closer to her face, trying to fill her eyes, as if obscuring her vision could change things.

On the ground in front of the girl, the bodies of two Jedi lay crumpled in a heap, both of their heads twisted at unnatural angles.  And try as she might, the girl’s gaze kept creeping towards them.  Eyes filled with tears began to cry anew.  Oh, not for the two Jedi; they’d killed her friend.

No, she began crying because she had known—known!—that she could’ve done something to stop them before they’d…

Sobbing, the girl’s teeth gritted in anger.  No, not anger…rage.  Soft fur tickled her cheek, the body of the Bouncer still warm.  But she knew better.  Her friend wasn’t asleep.

Laa was dead.

…Never again…NEVER…! She promised.  And as the tears began to dry, the girl had a revelation.  …I am a killer…  There was no rebuke at this realization, only a regret…

…A regret that she hadn’t killed the Jedi sooner.

*************************
*FOB: Forward Operating Base
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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

Lord_S_Gray
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« Reply #42 on: December 16, 2019, 04:00:12 PM »

hmmm....time is running out...in a way none of the Jedi assembled in that cramped room expect, soon nothing they are focused on will matter at all...
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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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Light side points please.


« Reply #43 on: December 16, 2019, 04:33:16 PM »

Nicely written.   I feel like Hoth is taking his contingent in, somehow knowing that the Sith AND the Jedi that attack them will be lost.    But maybe without seeing that Bane will escape and successfully implement his new "rule of two".   

Hmm.

Still, great passage.  LSG is right - none of them know what is coming....
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« Reply #44 on: March 24, 2020, 08:16:52 PM »

Special thanks to Karm for his contribution  Smiley  
This chapter is dedicated to both Karm and our own resident Sith Lord, Logos  Wink
****************************************************************

Chapter 11: Prophecy’s Consummation

The Sith'ari will be free of limits.
The Sith'ari will lead the Sith and destroy them.
The Sith'ari will raise the Sith from death and make them stronger than before.

-Prophecy of the Sithari, Sorzus Syn


As he entered the Sith camp, Bane saw that it was comparatively empty, the remaining Sith Lords of the Brotherhood desperate, afraid, and despairing.

And, he knew, malleable…just like Kaan.

Bane almost smiled.  His plans were coming to fruition.  Just a few more details to attend to… Spying the Dark One’s tent, he strode towards it.

The Sith Lords nearest the entrance turned their gaze turned upon Bane as he entered Skere Kaan’s command bivouac, the tall human seemingly more imposing than ever.  Within, those left of Kaan’s Brotherhood were stooped in defeat, their fear radiating off of them in waves.  Good.

And there in the center was the Dark One himself.  His head wrapped to staunch the flow of blood from a particularly nasty cut, Kaan looked self-assured, outwardly projecting confidence to his followers.  But Bane was not fooled by the illusion; he could see the small man cowering behind the façade, a trapped rat who knew that he was the rancor’s next meal…

“Kaan.” Bane’s deep voice reverberated through the bivouac cutting through the voices of the crowd, all attention suddenly turned towards him.  To the Sith Lord, they were less than nothing, beneath even his contempt for them.  But for Kaan, he had different plans.  “Send them away; I would speak with you.”

While every Sith Lord present hated the tall human for his conspicuous arrogance they did nothing at all despite Bane’s terse dismissal.  Their fear of the man was much greater than their hatred.  Still they waited for the short, deliberate nod that Kaan gave them before exiting the Dark One’s tents, leaving the two men in shadowed silence.

“Come to gloat, Bane?  Let me guess: this is the will of the Dark Side, come to punish me for not listening to you.” Kaan’s disdain was evident but his voice also held a hint of madness, the cracks in his mask now more noticeable with the other Sith Lords gone.  Just as Bane had foreseen.  “We had the Jedi—had them!—I just don’t understand how…” Even as Kaan spoke, Bane could see the man’s madness twisting his mind, beginning to drag him down.  …Not yet… He thought.

“It was I that ordered Admiral Nyras to break the blockade on the Jedi fleet.” Bane admitted.  That did the trick; Kaan’s eyes immediately locked onto Bane’s, all confusion evaporating.

“You?  Why?!” Kaan adopted an intimidating posture, one that even Bane seemed to shrink from.  Fury radiated from Kaan, everything within his tent seeming to lose focus as the Dark One began to exert some semblance of self-control.  His eyes stabbed into Bane’s.

Bane slowly recovered, looking earnestly at Kaan.  “Like I told you: I have already given you the means to victory within the Dark Side.  The Jedi will not be defeated by ships or by speeders; it is only through the Force that they will fall.”  He took a half-step closer to Kaan.  “Only by the Dark Side will the Sith defeat the Jedi.”  The conviction in Bane’s voice was unfeigned, Kaan could tell.  And as for Bane’s “means,” well…Kaan’s hand inadvertently fell upon one of his cloak’s pockets.

Before the events of the Virdunne Forest, Bane had approached Kaan, having recently come from the Temple of the Ancients on Lehon where he had acquired the elusive holocron of none other than Darth Revan.  Bane had devoured its secrets, with one item of particular note that he had offered to Kaan, the same item that Kaan had secreted within his cloak’s pocket.  Bane had inscribed a ritual, one that had not been seen in millenia…

…The ritual of a Sith Thought Bomb.

“Yes…” Kaan’s words slowly left his mouth as the Dark One began to regain a measure of composure.  His eyes once again locked onto Bane’s, Kaan’s mind worked as he began to see the tides of the war turn, the Brotherhood not only victorious but his position at its head secured and incontestable.  Looking upon Bane, Kaan’s determination gave him a renewed sense of purpose…and hatred.  He knew that his Brotherhood would be better off without at least one Sith Lord…

He reached out with the Force, the familiar mastery of his Mind Trick enshrouding Bane as Kaan struck urgently against his enemy.  Yet his touch was subtle, delicate even.  As much as he despised Bane, even he knew that he could not defeat the man, at least not alone.  Kaan knew exactly what to do with this one…

“You’ve done well, Bane.  I must commend you…”  His voice adopted an almost genial tone.  “…Especially considering the danger you’ve placed yourself in…”  The tendrils of Kaan’s Mind Trick sank into Bane’s head, the Dark Side inundating the tall Sith Lord.  Bane’s eyes glazed over, his jaw slackening as the Compulsion took hold.  “…The other Sith Lords, they are afraid of you…”

“…afraid…”  Bane’s voice seemed small.

“They will never follow you…” Kaan intoned while drawing the trap of his Mind Trick closed around Bane.  “…The Brotherhood needs someone strong…someone that they’ll follow to the Maw and back…and that is not you.”  Clamping down hard upon Bane’s mind, Kaan impelled his will upon the taller man.  Bane slowly nodded, the Compulsion complete.

Squaring his shoulders, Kaan gave a small laugh.  “You will stay here at camp while I take the Brotherhood into the caves.”  He would draw the Jedi to him into a trap of his design, one that would spell the end of the Jedi…and the ascendance of his reign, his supremacy irrefutable.

His shoulders square, Kaan strode forth from his tent full of resolve, barking orders to those of the Brotherhood left to him.  They would suffice…more than, he reckoned.  And while thoughts of grandeur buoyed the Dark One, his self-assurance infectious as the remaining Sith Lords fell into step behind them, their own confidences renewed, no one paid any mind to the lone figure standing seemingly insensate and immobile within Kaan’s tent.  Had they, they would have seen the figure’s dull gaze suddenly and conspicuously turn sharp, the malevolent intelligence return as the face once again became durasteel.

This time, Bane allowed himself to smile fully.  As he divested himself of the last vestiges of the deception that he’d succumbed to Kaan’s paltry Force Compulsion, Bane couldn’t help but wonder: how could an utter fool like Kaan truly believe that his Mind Trick would work on one such as him, a true adherent of the Dark Side?  Further proof—not that he needed any—that Bane’s plans for the Dark One and his pathetic “Brotherhood” were not only necessary but proper.

Waiting for the last speederbike to fly away, Bane finally left the tent, satisfaction inundating him as he felt yet another piece of his plans—the most important, really—finally shift into place.  The Dark Side was stronger without fools like Kaan or his Brotherhood to soil the name of the Sith.  He allowed himself a moment of reflection, one in which he could finally don his just reward as a result of his actions as he implemented the path that the Dark Side required of the true Sith…

The mantle and title of Darth.  He would now be the master that the Dark Side needed…

Bane’s cheek involuntarily twitched, a reminder that not all of his plans had come to fruition.  Yes, he was master…but a master without an apprentice.  Cursing to himself, he thought again of Rikard Macias.  He’d had such high hopes…

Such a waste.

Solemnly, Bane mentally shook his head.  It did him no good to linger upon failure.  And Bane had faith in the Dark Side.  He would find his apprentice, one worthy of the mantle of Darth and who would carry out his plan to ensure the destruction of the Jedi.

Bane left the Dark One’s encampment without so much as a backwards glance, content in the knowledge that it was by his design that the Sith would achieve victory over the Jedi.

After all, he had foreseen it.

               <<<<< >>>>>



Staring at the body floating within the bacta tank, Sulen’s face remained impassive, only the single tear sliding down her coppery cheek betrayed her emotions.  That and the sound of grinding teeth as she clenched her jaw in both frustration and foreboding.

She suddenly felt the soft touch of a gentle hand upon her shoulder.  Without looking, Sulen grabbed the hand, squeezing it affectionately.  And from her periphery, Cir-Lan came into view as she stepped beside her.  “Any change?”  Sulen’s normally staid tone cracked as yet more unshed tears threatened to escape.  

She had just come from Lord Hoth’s warroom, relaying the commands that she’d been given from the Seneschal of Light to both Cir-Lan and Slo’Ma, their reactions almost identical despite their opposing orders: both of their faces looked grim, yet determined.  Cir-Lan was to accompany Lord Hoth (as well as Sulen’s husband and a large contingent of Forcesages) for the final assault of the Brotherhood, whereas Slo’Ma was to remain at the base along with Jedi Lord Chillum as his adjutant.  Briefly giving both women a hug, Slo’Ma took a final look at his friend within the bacta tank and, after whispering a prayer, left to report to Lord Chillum.  After giving them both the particulars, Sulen had then been able to let herself focus on her Kage.

“Yes…” Cir-Lan’s tone was drowned with sorrow .  “Rik’s dying…”  Her lip quivered.  “Nothing…nothing!...is working; not the bacta, not the Singers…not even one of the Cantors…nothing…” The tall woman’s fingers stroked the transparisteel tank where Rikard floated, comatose.  “Oh, Sulen…”

The Vhal’Dan Arbiter wasn’t given to despair; she was a practical woman.  Furthermore, she knew how tough—how obstinate—Rikard was.  She’d seen him go against seemingly suicidal odds, only to somehow come out on top.  He’d been fighting most of his life, first against the Clans and later the Sith, every time with Sulen beside him.  She smiled sardonically: of course she’d heard the stories whispered in hushed tones by koawans and teidowans alike that Black Rikard would outlive the Order, cast out by the Maker absent a soul to punish those that wronged the Vhal’Dan.  

But it wasn’t real, none of that mattered.

Now Sulen did allow her tears to fall unchecked.  Rikard was dying.  He was dying and there was nothing that anyone could do to stop it.

Sulen shook her head, gritted her teeth and willed herself to stop crying.  After a moment, she took a steadying breath and hugged Cir-Lan.  “Sister…we cannot let his sacrifice be in vain.  The Brotherhood are on the run and Lord Hoth is intent on ending the Wars.  And now he can do it.  But he needs us—all of us—to do everything we can, the best that we can.”  Sulen gestured towards the man in the tank.  “Rik would tell us to do likewise.”  She lowered her head, her long, black hair falling into her face.  “We can give the galaxy peace, finally.  And that’s because of him.”  She squeezed the other woman’s hand reassuringly.

Nodding, consoled if not necessarily comforted by the Arbiter’s words, Cir-Lan exhaled.  “You’re right.”  She stepped away, reluctantly.  Before she exited the medical tents, she glanced back to Sulen over her shoulder.  “Thank you, Su.  I…”  She stopped for a moment, her eyes losing focus.  Turning, she stared intently at Rikard, slowly walking back to the tank before pressing both of her hands against its surface.  Sulen saw the woman’s lips move but no sound came forth; instead, Cir-Lan laid her head on the tank, her eyes closed.  Then, abruptly she turned, wiping her face while making conciliatory sounds before finally rushing out of the tents.

While she was unsure of what to make of what she’d seen, Sulen thought that she could understand Cir-Lan’s actions, especially considering it was her twin that was dying in front of her eyes.  Sulen’s gaze lingered on Rik, her brother not by blood but by bond.  

…Please Maker…please… She pleaded, hoping beyond hope that her prayers would be answered.  And as Sulen walked out under the night sky, she stared up at the largest of Ruusan’s moons, its full, bright disk creating shadows around her…

Shadows that mirrored those cast by her grief and loss.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Exhausted, To’Lon finally emerged from the night, having arrived at the tents he shared with his wife and family.  …It’s time… He could feel the Song, see the flows as it carried him, his family, and the Cantors towards the future.  He smiled bitterly.  He knew what needed to be done.

Spying the form laying in their shared bed, To’Lon approached his wife quietly asleep.  However, she immediately awoke by the muted sounds of his booted steps.

To'Lon ducked his head, gently bringing his wife's forehead to his own.  "Joy of my heart..." He started, then stopped as his voice failed.

"...And light of my eyes." She finished for him.  Her voice was steady, but her eyes were bright with unshed tears.  Unsurprisingly, she was already fully dressed.

To'Lon swallowed and kissed her nose before pulling her into a fierce embrace. "You are amazing, you know that?"  There was so much more that he wanted to say.

"Of course I do." Sa'Ra smiled into his neck. "You tell me all the time, don't you?"

The humor helped To'Lon get his emotions back under control and he was able to smile as they broke the embrace.  "Is it safe?"

"Yes.  Ja'Ron, Do'Lon, and M'Rey are ready to travel.  We will join the others when we leave here."  She stroked his cheek. "Are you absolutely sure..."

To'Lon caught her hand and kissed it, his eyes locked on hers.  "Yes.  The Song is clear.   It will be many, many days but eventually One who knows the Songs of old will find you.  When he comes, he will be in great need.  We must be ready to help him."

Sa'Ra nodded. "I know.  Ja'Kob the Seer has said the same thing.  We will be ready."  She pulled him into another fierce hug. "I love you..."

To'Lon said nothing, simply returning her embrace...and wetting her hair with his tears, knowing that it would be the last time he’d do so in this life.

And much like his tears and hopes, the full moon disappeared, obfuscated by the clouds as they concealed everything within the camp as well as the Cantors’ future.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Rikard was dying.

He knew it, he could feel it even though everything had been tried.

The worst part?  He’d failed.  He’d let down Cir-Lan & Sulen, Slo’Ma & Ga’Lan, Lord Hoth & General Farfalla.  He’d even failed Sarll.  Everyone who counted on him…the Vhal’Dan, the Jedi, the galaxy.

…It…it’s too much… He could feel the oppressive weight crushing him.  …Too much by far…

Bane.  Just thinking about the man made Rikard involuntarily spasm.  He wanted to tell himself it was anger but he knew, deep down, it was because Bane had hurt him.

…And…he was afraid.

Amidst a storm of hot, searing pain, fear and regret crushed down upon Rikard.  But…it was no more than what he deserved, what he had always feared about himself.

And once Bane had shown him—really shown him—what true power was, he didn’t think that he’d be able face such again.  He told himself that it was better to surrender rather than endure.

And so, ever inward, Rikard spiraled, further and further down into the blessed blackness of oblivion.
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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