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Author Topic: The Storms of Exodus  (Read 1308 times)
Karmack
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Master of Ceremonies
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Light side points please.


« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2019, 01:08:47 AM »

Thanks for the history lesson!  :-)   I really don't know that much about this time period, or the Sith Wars in general.  I expect they are fascinating.   
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Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

TheDutchman
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« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2019, 03:30:58 PM »



Chapter 4: Honor Due the Dead, part I

“The numbers are coming in now, Rik.” Sulen’s voice was quiet…pensive Rikard thought as she continued.  He couldn’t blame her: whatever it is that the Brotherhood had done, it had killed thousands, most from General Kiel’s battalion.  …Damned Sith bastards… He swore.  …At least the firestorm killed almost as many of them as ours…  Still: small consolation to lose so many good Jedi.  He suddenly focused his eyes on his Arbiter, something pulling at his attention.  “Sorry Su, what was that?”

Even with blood (not hers) and dirt on her face, it did nothing to take away from her regal complexion…or her poise.  Patiently, she gave a small smile.  “I said: Kiel is waiting in your bivouac along with Lord Chillum, General Farfalla, and Sage Slo’ma.” She absently pulled at a strand of her jet black hair that suddenly fell into her face.  “Oh, and Sarll…‘asked’ to speak to you.”

…Wonderful… “I’ll bet he did.” Rik deadpanned.  “I’ll deal with Sarll.  Last.”  Inhaling, he squared his shoulders.  “C’mon, Su.  Let’s see what our fellow Jedi have in mind.”  The tall woman fell into step next to Rikard.  Somehow, she’d been able to clean her armor; certainly she looked more the Jedi Lord than he.  “One of these days, you’ve got to teach me that, Su.”

“Trade secret, Arbiters only I’m afraid, Kage.” Su’s slanted eyes held a gleam of mirth within them.  “Besides: I’ve just begun to train you up so that you don’t use your hands whenever you eat.”  Rik turned a look of mock rebuke at her.  Su’s face didn’t change in the slightest.  “They’re called ‘utensils;’ you should try them sometimes.”  She pantomimed using a spoon.

Rik pretended exasperation.  “Sure, now that you’re entrenched within the office I suppose you’ll tell me that I’ve got to change my small-clothes, ‘Mrs. High-and-Mighty Arbiter.’”  He threw his hands up as if in capitulation.  “‘Black Rikard’ indeed.  Now I know why the Maker has forsaken me: He’s afraid that the women in my life will start with Him next…”  Looking out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Su crack a grin, followed by a small laugh.  He soon joined her, both of them making a curious spectacle walking through the camp laughing.

               <<<<< >>>>>



“Are you frelling insane?!  This stupidity is far-reaching, even for you, Kiel.” Rik spit, his good humor a thing of the past.  “Or are you trying to get the rest of us killed in your pursuit of ‘Glory?’”

If Kiel was intimidated, he hid it well.  Instead of his normally arrogant countenance, his lips were curled in the barest of self-satisfied smiles.  To say that it put Rik’s hackles up was an understatement.  Fighting an urge to put his fist through Kiel’s face to the back of his head, Rik went through a calming technique that Su would often suggest…just for times such as this.  It helped.  Somewhat.

“Please, Lord Macias, listen for a moment.”  General Farfalla’s light, singsong voice was meant to be comforting, serene.  A half-Bothan, Valenthyne Farfalla had an effeminate beauty typical of his ancestry.  That, combined with his high soprano voice, gave one the impression of fragility.  And to those who made that mistake, it was to their own detriment, often resulting in their deaths.  Truth be told, he was anything but.

In Lord Hoth’s Army of Light, General Farfalla was amongst the Jedi Lord’s fiercest warriors.  He’d felled countless Sith, seeming to never tire or lament.  It was inspirational, Rikard had to agree.  And the half-Bothan had an excellent mind for tactics.

Which brought Rik back to the conversation at hand.  Kiel had proposed a pre-emptive strike centered on Kaan’s front lines.  By now, everyone knew that the Dark One was on-planet.  Fools like Kiel were chomping at the bit to do battle with him in glorious saber combat.  Or so Rik had assumed.

Given the precedent that Kiel had set, no one would have faulted Rikard.  However…

“Rikard, I believe that we have an advantage to exploit here…”  Lord Chillum intoned, his bass voice reverberating almost as deeply as Sarll’s.  Jedi Lord Galen Chillum, Kage of the Mak’Tor, was an enormous man, dwarfing everyone in the bivouac, even Kiel.  And among the Army of Light’s Jedi Lords, he was the absolute best tactician that Rikard had ever seen.  No wonder Kiel was so smug; he knew that if Lord Chillum supported him, Lord Hoth would immediately agree.

Not that Rik would blame him; as far as he was concerned, anything the Mak’Tor Kage said was gospel.  “Alright Galen.  What’s on your mind?”

Stepping forward, the big man keyed the datapad on his armored vambrace.  A holoprojection appeared in the middle of the room, showing troop deployments, varied battalion strengths, and each army’s current positions on Ruusan and all up-to-date.  Not for the first time was Rikard amazed—and grateful—for Mak’Tor intel.

“The Dark One has taken command of this division here.  Counting conventionals, he’s got a relative strength close to 8,000, give or take.  General Kiel came to me with his strategy, one that I fully endorse, with some fine-tuning, of course.”  Lord Chillum manipulated the projection, focusing on the division in question.  “The Brotherhood believes that our Singers are all but gone.  Let them go on believing that; what Kiel proposes is to have Vhal’Dan Cataphracts lead the vanguard to draw out the Dark One.  We’ll pretend to retreat, drawing him past this valley where we can flank him in a pincer with our Singers…and this time they’ll be supplemented by our Cantors.”  Lord Chillum keyed the holoprojection off, the lights illuminating once more within the room.  …Brilliant… Rikard thought.  The Cantors would allow the Singers to propagate one another, becoming more than the sum of their parts.  That was why Cantors were so effective and powerful.  And rare.

Kiel was now smiling broadly.  Nodding, Rik couldn’t help but agree.  “Yes.  It’s a good plan.  I’ll let Sarll know.”  Before anyone moved, Rikard suddenly grabbed Kiel’s forearm.  “Where will you be in all of this?”  Rik’s piercing green eyes squinted, pulling at the scar that ran up his face.

Kiel smiled.  “I’ll be going in with General Sarll’s Cataphracts.  After all, I’ve got a score to settle with Kaan.”  Rikard couldn’t decide if Kiel was that brave or just foolhardy.  He decided on the former; Kiel was a decent general, if not a very inventive one.  Still, being in the vanguard was always dangerous.  That was one of the reasons that it often fell to the Cataphracts to lead: they were heavily armored and could take as much punishment as they could give.   And when the time came, they would take the brunt of the Brotherhood’s counterattack in their “retreat.”

No, Kiel wasn’t a fool—at least not this time—and he was brave, if a bit vainglorious.  “General…” Rikard said, extending his hand, “…Good luck.”  Kiel’s smile finally vanished.  Since the beginning of the Ruusan Campaign, he and Rik had always been on opposing sides of the fence.  Still…they were both Jedi.

Kiel broke out in a grin, taking Rikard’s hand and clasping forearms.  “May the Force be with you as well, Bla…Lord Macias.”  Just the barest of pauses; he was about to say “Black Rikard.”  Rik held a ghost of a smile, pretending to ignore the verbal misstep for Kiel’s sake.  

“Give them hell, General.” Rikard said, gathering Sulen with a gaze before saying his goodbyes to the Mak’Tor Kage, General Farfalla, and finally his friend Slo’ma.  “Be careful.  And stay behind the Cataphracts; I’d rather not see that too-tall head of yours on some Sith pike.”

Slo’ma’s smile turned wicked.  “Me?  Never.”  He winked.  “Now the news will be making its rounds: ‘Jedi Lord Rikard actually endorses a strategy by General Kiel.’  Looks like you’ve grabbed the rancor by the wrong end, Rik; you’re never living that one down.”  He suddenly sobered.  “Be safe, my friend.  May the Maker watch over you.”  He said the last in little above a whisper.  The Mak’Tor belief in the Maker was ubiquitous to them but they were still voting members of the Jedi Order, unlike the Vhal’Dan.  And as such, their belief in the Maker had to be kept under wraps by necessity; often times there were whispers of “attachment” cast towards the Mak’Tor…but no one ever took it further.  The Singers were just too important to the war effort.  But Rikard knew that that tolerance would not last forever…

Which brought him back to his own Order’s dilemma with the Jedi.  When the Coruscant Jedi had finally come to Istic III to request Vhal’Dan assistance, Rik had only agreed if the Order was allowed a Seat upon the Council, with all the attendant voting rights that came with the office.  There had been a lot of bickering among the Council…but then they were reminded of their losses, including casualties numbering in the billions.  They’d eventually agreed and now that the Army of Light had been helped in no small part by the Vhal’Dan, Rikard had been all but ensured that the Vhal’Dan would have multiple Seats, exactly like the Mak’Tor.  Still, Rik was aware of the whispers…

The Order proper considered them “provincial” Jedi barely worthy of the label but Rikard was certain that the Brotherhood would not be on the defensive right now if not for the timely intervention on behalf of the Vhal’Dan.  After the Sith defeat on Istic III, Ruusan most certainly would not have happened.  Of course…the Vhal’Dan also would have ceased to exist as an entity had the New Sith Wars helped the Clans to consolidate…

“Credit for your thoughts, Rik…” Sulen’s melodious voice came from beside him.  Rikard turned his head to look at her, his wry grin pulling again upon his scar.

“Nothing of import…just the survival of the Vhal’Dan, the Jedi Order, and the galaxy.”  He blinked.  “…OK Su, how in the hell did you get yourself so cleaned up?  You look like you’ve just gotten a day’s worth of sleep, after an hour at a spa…”

Sulen grinned.  “Sorry, I’ve already told you: trade secret.”  Rikard adopted a poleaxed look.

“…Well it’s a wonder why you and Dyrald don’t have more kids; if I had a wife that could do everything like you and somehow look immaculate…” He left the implied compliment hanging.

Sulen’s face suddenly went blank.  “Things you need to tell Dyrald, and none too soon.”  But soon her trembling lip betrayed her good humor, causing both of them to laugh.

Rikard put an arm around his friend’s shoulders.  “Maybe after this battle.  C’mon Su, I’ve got to give Sarll the ‘good news;’ Maker knows that he’ll take it as a position of honor, the mangy bastard.”  

And with that, they both went to look for the big Cathar speaker.

               <<<<< >>>>>
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Maenowan Nexu Master of the Vhal'Dan

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

TheDutchman
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« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2019, 03:41:51 PM »

Special thanks to Lady Revan for the Easter Egg as well as the linguistic assist&ideas!  This chapter is dedicated to her  Smiley
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Chapter 4: Honor Due the Dead, part II

As he came upon the camp, Bane saw that it was completely empty.  Fitting; much like the Brotherhood, the absence of any Sith lords reminded Bane that they were one and all hollow pretenders that only paid lip service to the Dark Side, their heads as empty as the camp.  The Dark Side—and the true Sith—deserved better.

No matter, everything was proceeding according to his plans, even Kaan’s apparent mastery.  It was fools like Kaan that reminded Bane why the Sith needed to change: become too conspicuous a target and it was fated to draw the wrong kind of attention.  A lesson that Bane had learned very…intimately.  He entered his tents, assessing the tableau before him.  Unsurprisingly, someone—or ones—had gone through his possessions, thinking that they’d done so clandestinely.  But Bane was much more observant than anyone could have guessed; certainly more than these idiots would ever know.  No doubt they thought to gain information as to the origin of the Dark Side Force Wave that he’d unleashed in the Virdunne Forest, killing Jedi and Sith by the thousands.

…Fools…ignorant fools… He almost smiled.  Bane needed no holocron, no datanode, no…book.  He’d long since memorized Darth Revan’s Sith Holocron and all of its contents.  Unlike the Brotherhood, who still relied on reciting their Sith magiks from an original source, Bane had…consumed the information of ages past, the Dark Side his only Master as well as being an inherent and fundamental part of him.  No Sith lord—and certainly not that imbecile Kaan—would command him.

Hearing the barest of rustling cloth Bane did not move; instead he prepared to attack, wrapping himself within the power of the Dark Side.  Casually, he turned his head towards the tent’s entrance.  Framed within the doorway was an extremely tall, gaunt human, his white hair almost indistinguishable from his chalky complexion.  Bane smiled inwardly.  He’d not seen the human since he’d left the Academy on Korribon.

“Qordis.” Bane did not offer any further affectation to the headmaster who, despite his sepulchral appearance, was almost as powerful as Skere Kaan himself.  He held one of the highest places within the Brotherhood; indeed most Sith lords feared him.  And regardless of the fact that Bane was two meters in height, he was forced to look up to stare into Qordis’ gray eyes.

“Bane.” Qordis nodded.  Unusual that; the tall human had never been the least bit cordial and at the worst of times was loath of his former student.  Of course, much had changed since then…

“What is it you want, Qordis?” Bane’s voice betrayed nothing as he pushed past the taller human, his broad shoulders thumping heavily into Qordis’ gaunt chest.  If he took offense, Qordis showed nothing of the like.  While Bane had thought the headmaster’s voice sounded weaselly before, it was particularly shrill now.

“Bane…I saw what you did at Virdunne, the power you commanded.  Furthermore, each and every student at Korribon Academy was in awe of your strength, your skills in the Dark Side.  As do I…”  The tall human laid a skinny hand upon Bane’s shoulder.  “Now I know why you’ve come to Ruusan, the true purpose…you’ve come to kill Kaan.”

Bane remained silent yet intrigued, so much so that he allowed Qordis the temerity of touching his person.

“They—we—are behind you; our loyalty is to you…our new master: Darth Bane!  Together, we shall become the True Brotherhood!  Not one corrupted by any Jedi ideals of past loyalties as Kaan most certainly is.  No, yours will be a Brotherhood of the Dark Side where we shall rule this galaxy and beyond!”  Qordis clenched his fist in a dramatic pose, his voice exultant.

Bane stared at the tall human, disgust becoming evident in his demeanor.  “Qordis…you are wrong.”  Suddenly Bane’s hand shot up, directing the Dark Side to do his bidding.  The headmaster grabbed at his throat as invisible tendrils wrapped around his neck, lifting him bodily into the air.  “I am not here to take control of the Brotherhood.”  Slowly Bane wrapped his fingers into a fist, the cords around Qordis’ neck tightening.  “I am going to destroy the Brotherhood.  Every.  Single.  One.”  Bane’s yellow eyes were electric with power.

“…no…please…don’t…kill…let…me…at…least…die…in…combat…a…saber…in…my…honorably…” Qordis’ voice slowly grew weaker, his hands tearing at his throat in a vain attempt to gain purchase upon the tendrils that crushed his windpipe.

Bane smiled, a predatory and remorseless turning of his lips.  “‘Die in combat with a lightsaber in your hand?’  Qordis you are a pathetic, insignificant, fool.”  Laughing, Bane pulled the headmaster closer.  “Know this: you will die, here and now, forgotten by all.  There is no ‘honor’ for you; there never was.  The Dark Side cares nothing about honor.”  Bane’s smile faded, his face impassive.  “There are only those that succeed…and those that die.”

His eyes bulging, tongue darting out of his thin, ashen lips, Qordis slowly asphyxiated, dying a gurgling, inconsequential, and unremarkable death.  And when Bane was finished, he tossed the worthless thing away, destined to rot like the rubbish in the camp and just as important.

               <<<<< >>>>>



“…Which should pull the Sith after us.”  His deep bass voice rumbling, Sarll crossed his arms across his enormous chest.  “Did I miss anything?  Kage.”  As always, the Cathar Speaker seemed to add the last as an afterthought.  They stood in the middle of the mobile command bivouac, spartan by any standards.  But it suited Sarll’s needs.

Just as he finished, Rik saw from the corner of his eye as two of Sarll’s lieutenants entered the bivouac, one a Shifala and the other another Cathar.  Both of them were large Jedi, almost as tall as Sarll.  Standing to the side, they saluted Sulen and then waited silently, two enormous armored Cataphract statues for all the movement that they made.

Rikard shook his head.  “No.  Just make sure that no Sith go after those Singers.  Mak’Tor casualties are already heavy enough…”  …To say nothing of Jedi losses… He thought.  “I really need the Cataphracts to hold the line on this and get the Sith so riled up that they’re not thinking.  I need them reacting, Sarll.”  Rik stared up into Sarll’s golden eyes.  He thought back to Kiel.  …Maker-dammit, I guess it’s a day of reconciliation… Exhaling, Rikard put out a hand to the Cathar in repetition of earlier.  “Good luck, Speaker.”  

Sarll’s demeanor was considering.  After a second, he took Rik’s hand, his enormous paw engulfing the smaller human’s.  “Thank you, Kage.  We shall succeed.”  His eyes shifted to the two Cataphracts that stood to the side.  “You’ll find my After-Action Reports on this datapad; you’re welcome to read them here.  Excuse me, Kage.  Arbiter.”  Nodding to first Rikard and then Sulen, Sarll handed Rik his datapad before addressing the Shifalan Cataphract.  “Koawan Annix, assemble the Legion.  Tell them they have 15 minutes.”  She saluted Sarll and exited as the Speaker continued talking to the other Cataphract.  “Maenowan Låq Tarjo, I need for you…”

As Sarll joined his lieutenant, Rik turned to Sulen while they scanned the AAR.  Almost absently, Sulen began talking.  “That was…almost nice of you, Rik.”  Looking up from the datapad, Rikard tracked his Arbiter’s line of sight.  She was staring at Sarll.  “One might describe it as ‘friendly.’”

Rik knew what she meant.  “I don’t have the luxury to call Sarll to account for his ‘P’Rae’Lior-by-proxy.’  Not now, at least.  Besides…we need him right now.  After this damned war?  Then there can be a reckoning.”  He gave a lopsided grin.  “I thought about Kiel earlier and how it set precedent.  And I don’t have to like them to fight along side them.  And if wishing them well makes them fight better, then I’ll sing them praises if that’s what it takes.”  

Sulen knew that there was more to her Kage than that.  And despite his protestations to the contrary, he did respect Sarll.  But, much like Rikard, Sulen knew that the issues between the two were far from resolved.

But that was a problem for later.  She had others that required her Kage’s attention.  “Kage, we need to see to the Forcesage troop deployment.”  Her husband Dyrald had returned from the frontlines with some new intel.

“Good, Su.” Rik finished reading Sarll’s AAR, keying the datapad off just in time to see the Cathar showing his lieutenant out.

“…Have them upgraded with the newest software, maenowan.”  Stopping suddenly, he clasped wrists with the other Cathar.  “Malja watan, Doreon.”

Doreon, the Cathar maenowan, responded, his deep voice reverent.  “Malja watan, Sarll.”  With that, the Cataphract lieutenant left.

“I trust that all is satisfactory.  Kage.” Sarll boomed, already donning his armor.  “If you’ll excuse me, I need to see to it that the Cataphract Legion is apprised of our new orders.  Kage.  Arbiter.”  With an inclination of his head, Sarll left.

Rik turned to Sulen.  “Su…you speak over five dozen languages; do you know what they were talking about?”  He spoke some Catharese and whatever they’d said, it wasn’t that.

“…No.  I’ve never heard it before.” Sulen said incredulously, surprising Rik.  “…Would you like for me to look into it?”  Her tone was one of hurt professional pride.

Rikard shook his head, unconcerned.  “No.  Don’t worry about it.”  He patted Sulen’s shoulder.  “I guess that means you’ve been hanging out with an uncivilized Hutt like me for too long.  C’mon, let’s go see what Dyrald has to tell us.”

               <<<<< >>>>>



As Sarll approached the field where the Legion was assembled, he thought of what his lieutenants had told him.  But what really occupied his thoughts were the two lieutenants themselves.

Koawan Stryka Annix had already distinguished herself amongst the Cataphracts.  Brave, loyal, and highly intelligent, Sarll had mentored the Shifalan as a teidowan, seeing her incredible potential even then.  Now a fully knighted koawan, Stryka had turned out to be even better than Sarll had anticipated.  Not only was she utterly fearless both in and out of battle but her unique Niman variant of saber combat had ensured her appointment as Clan Blademaster in record time.  The Sith had learned to fear Stryka, and for good reason…

And of course, his friend and fellow Cathar Maenowan Doreon Låq Tarjo.  Doreon was one of those happy accidents that the Force sometimes offered up in life: gifted of an eidetic memory and a scholar of remarkable renown on the Homeworld, he’d studied the past of their planet.  And in doing so, he’d become one of the premiere tacticians of the Army of Light.  As well he should be…

Cathar had long, very long memories.  The last time that they’d been threatened as a race was during the Mandalorian Wars, where the Cathar people had been threatened with near-extinction.  They’d been close, so close to going out forever…

But for the bravery of one Jedi.

One that Cathar all beheld in reverence, spoken only amongst the people in deferential tones.  There was no Cathar alive today whom did not know of this Jedi’s courage, an angel of death balancing the scales to redress all of their grievances.  And while the rest of the galaxy knew her by the name she chose later for herself, the Cathar had been gifted with her true name, one that would never grace the hearing of the lesser sentients, those unworthy of the knowledge.

The Jedi Master Revan…Halin Chan.

It was Revan who had honored the people, who had willingly become their avenger.  Absently, Sarll touched the glyph upon his breastplate, one hidden in plain sight.  Among the designs of the power armor all Cathar had made an addition, one that—for the most part—went unnoticed.  It was Halin Chan’s gift to the Cathar.  A gift…as well as a dictate.  Located at the base of the sternum was a glyph representing a cabochon, a red jewel inscribed with bronze writing, the Aurebesh reading: “Malja watan.”  All Cathar would speak the words to one another whenever two or more met.

Sarll gave one of his rare grins.  Anyone who understood Basic could read and speak the words but the language that the phrase came from had been old even in Revan’s time and was long dead.  But she had known it, teaching it to the Cathar.  Malja watan.

Now—as it was then—the axiom rang especially poignant given the circumstances of war, be it the New Sith War, the Mandalorian War, or any future wars…

May you always find home.

Sobering quickly, Sarll squared his shoulders, again bearing the responsibility that he carried stoically and silently.  As with all duty, the honor was his to bear.  And he and his Cataphracts would do what was necessary, consummating the unspoken accord that the Cathar had willingly accepted as both obligation and tribute to their avenger.

And just like Revan, their names would echo in eternity as a result of their actions today.
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Maenowan Nexu Master of the Vhal'Dan

My sabers:Zearic's Aldrnari, Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, AS; Zearic's shoto, Initiate v5 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; Apprentice v4 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 #18 on: May 16, 2019, 03:45:31 PM »

Interesting contrast here - Rikard getting more along with his allies just as Bane puts into practice his desire to be rid of his 'allies' and then Saril and Bane both looking to Revans example in eerily similar ways on opposite sides...a mixed legacy indeed. Some very clever and subtle interactions binding these characters together almost despite themselves - kudos to Lady Revan who no doubt helped with some that! - also cool to see a young Stryka as well whose memory alone we see in Schisms.
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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."

Taegin Roan
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« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2019, 05:35:58 PM »

Wow, interesting. LSG said it well, and though I have yet to catch up on Lady Revan's story, the legacy of Revan is one known to the vast majority of SW fans. As is Bane's. Looking forward to what you have coming next.
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"I am the Outcast's Shadow" - Taegin Roan
"We are the spark that will light the fire that will burn the first order down." - Poe Dameron

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TheDutchman
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« Reply #20 on: July 02, 2019, 03:26:40 PM »

Special thanks to PsychoSith for the awesome saber rendering!  This chapter is dedicated to him  Smiley
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Chapter 5: Casualties of Circumstance, part I

In the pre-dawn darkness the two armies met, a fiery conflagration of conventional ordnance, energy weapons, and Force-powers…killing, maiming…almost immediately devolving into hand-to-hand fighting as Sith and Jedi attacked one another.  There was no quarter given, the brutality of both sides evident upon the battlefield where bodies littered the entire landscape.  On one side, the Dark One Skere Kaan commanded his Sith Lords; the other: General Kiel Charny led what remained of his devastated battalions, the vanguard reinforced by the Vhal’Dan Cataphracts.

The two armies met in a desolate place where the Virdunne Forest suddenly gave way to the geologically active fumaroles, known colloquially as the “Valley of a Thousand Smokes” where Ruusan vulcanism constantly reshaped the land.  Steam and gasses obfuscated the area, hot pools of water dotted the landscape where crevasses had been filled.  Now, blood joined the water in a mixture of reds, blues, and black as the dead and dying lay upon the valley floor, like some artist’s macabre canvass.

Fighting alongside the Cataphracts, Jedi Lord Rikard Macias worked his saberstaff furiously, the twin green blades never ceasing against the onrushing Sith, their red lightsabers legion.  As he swung a wide orbit to block in a group of enemy combatants, he Pulled upon the area they were gathered on, most of them taken unawares.  And although some of the Sith had protected themselves against his Force attack, those that had not were suddenly and violently propelled skywards, helpless.  At the crest when they were momentarily weightless, Rik reversed his efforts, Pushing the group back towards the ground, crashing into their Sith comrades in a savage mangle of bodies, armor, and earth.  Allowing himself a grin, Rik attacked another group of the Brotherhood.  There were still many more, most of them now starting to flank the Cataphracts…

That was the truth of the matter: there was always “more.”

Rik knew that even as formidable as the Cataphracts were, they could not impede the inexorable Sith tide.  Scanning the Jedi ranks, Rik saw that the heavily armored Legion were taking a beating, their lines close to collapsing… They would have to pull back. 

But then again, that was the plan.

As if he’d read Rikard’s mind, the Cataphract commander General Sarll Båz Rhadde, sounded the retreat.  While the Jedi forces gave ground, the Cataphracts covered their withdrawal, redoubling their efforts.  It was an prodigious sight to see, Rik had to admit.

Almost to a being, the Cataphracts suddenly seemed to halt the Sith offensive across the entire line.  And while their heavy armor was severely carbon-scored and dented, the Song-steel had held beneath the onslaught.  But what amazed Rik most was the Cataphracts’ primary weapon.  Once again, taking advantage of the fact that almost all of the Cataphracts were larger than average humanoids, they one and all wielded an enormous, two-handed lightsaber, one unlike any other.

Laboriously constructed of a cortosis and Beskar metal alloy, the hilt was at least 60 centimeters long, with two pairs of quillons, the lower set made of the alloy while the upper pair were plasma…as was the main blade, one that projected over two meters from the emitter.  The uncommon sabers were massive, their deadly nature and efficacy supplemented by the intimidating psychological menace that the weapon represented.  And in the hands of the Cataphracts, they had become legendary.

The Vhal’Dan Cataphract Zweihander.  That was their formal classification although most of the Jedi referred to them appropriately as “Beskar Breakers.”  Unsurprisingly, they lived up to their cognomen.

Even in full retreat, Sarll’s Jedi were fearsome, their weapons causing even the most savage Sith Lord to give pause.  But this Sith army was different than any other: it was being directly lead by the Dark One himself.  And if Skere Kaan didn’t inspire every individual Sith Lord under his banner, they were all certainly more frightened of him than the Cataphract’s zweihanders.  Still: for every meter that the Sith gained, the cost was paid in blood and lost limbs.

“Rally!  Rally!” General Kiel’s voice could be heard above the cacophony courtesy of a trick of the Force.  Rik found himself grinning; for once, Kiel’s vainglory would prove a helpful tactic.  Just as every Jedi had heard him, so too had the Sith.

Now in full retreat, the Jedi moved through the valleys of the fumaroles, all leading towards open canyons on the horizon.  The Sith knew that in those canyons, the Jedi could effectively disappear, free to carry out guerilla tactics at whim.  With this in mind—and having heard Kiel’s deliberate call to pull back—Kaan drove his Sith Lords with singular intent and drive.  And as the Dark One himself killed the brave, lone Cataphract that had stood against him, he yelled wordlessly, directing his army to pursue and overtake, killing all that stood before them.

With the Sith on the Army of Light’s heels, they quickly closed the distance within the fumaroles, careless of the high volcanic anticlines that lined the valley.  Incited by the Dark One as well as their own bloodlust, the Brotherhood’s pursuit was total and complete; they were now fully committed.

As Rik came upon Kiel, he gave a small nod to the Jedi general who responded with an arrogant lopsided grin.  Taking positions, the remainder of the joint battalions turned, facing the oncoming Sith.  Time seemed to slow, adding an air of perfect clarity.  Sarll stood in front of his Cataphracts, the hair on the right side of the Cathar’s mane singed and burnt.  Otherwise, he was uninjured.  And cautiously hopeful.  Rik could relate; the Sith were almost on top of them now, their red blades casting a blood hue within the valley reflecting off of the quartz buried within the rock strata of the anticline’s walls.  Rik thought he could even see the Dark One himself among the incoming Sith horde but he knew that was probably just his own mind.

And with a deafening crash both armies collided, time once again resuming its normal passage.  Seeing the promise of Jedi annihilation in the Sith’s eyes, Kiel’s joint battalion fought a desperate and furious defensive.  And the Brotherhood knew it.  For the Sith, the Sixth Battle of Ruusan would be a decisive victory, one that saw the Dark One victorious…

…If not for the fact that the Army of Light had planned for just this outcome.

With perfect timing, the remaining Mak’Tor Singers—lead by the few Cantors left—shut the door on the trap, seeming to erupt from behind the anticline’s walls while completely surrounding the Sith army on either side.  As one, their Songs and Battle Meditation began to strengthen the Jedi, their numbers more than replenished by the Mak’Tor as well as the Vhal’Dan Forcesages, both contigents led by Rik’s friend Slo’Ma and Sulen’s husband Master Dyrald Reu Lai, respectively.  A third and fourth battalion flanking the Sith’s rear attacked, Rikard’s twin sister Cir-Lan at the head of one, the Vhal’Dan Arbiter Sulen Reu Lai leading the other.  Meanwhile, another Mak’Tor battalion crashed into the Sith horde center, folding the army into itself and cleaving the Brotherhood’s host in twain.  At its forefront was another Mak’Tor “secret weapon:” Jedi Master Jar'es'Kinsler.  As he viciously swung his unique ghostly orange blade about, he simultaneously attacked with ferocious Pushes while incredible phantasms assaulted the sight of any Sith he faced, his attendant Force Powers incredibly powerful despite not being supplemented by the Cantors.

Even now, Rikard wondered how Master Kinsler was able to accomplish such seemingly impossible feats.  Whatever it was, Slo’Ma had never mentioned it.  Regardless, the Vhal’Dan Jedi Lord was thankful that Jar’es was on their side.

Now almost equal in numbers, the Army of Light renewed its offensive, hope and determination galvanizing the battlelust that the Jedi felt.  Countless Sith Lords fell from the initial assault, the surprise of both the assumed all-but-dead Mak’Tor Singers and Jedi reinforcements resulting in the Brotherhood’s confusion and disbelief. 

And within the valley of the fumaroles under the noontime sun, the tide of the battle turned yet again, this time favoring the Army of Light.

However, Kaan was nothing if not adaptive.  Within minutes, he had his Sith Lords regrouping, a “spear” formed to break out of the box that the Brotherhood now found itself in.  He would see himself and as many of his followers out of this trap…but he knew—even now—that it would be costly…

               <<<<< >>>>>

As another Sith Lord fell to his saberstaff, Rik saw from the corner of his eye as a handful of Sith were set upon by two Cataphracts.  One he recognized immediately as Sarll…the other seemed vaguely familiar… As the Cataphract engaged multiple enemies, Rik was able to recognize that she was a Shifalen.  Once he saw her saberwork, he knew without a doubt who it was.  The Shifalen had become separated from Sarll, surrounded on all four sides.  Unflinchingly, she attacked.

Rikard had seen several blademasters in combat, some of them dead having come to the erroneous belief that their superior skills with a saber made them invincible.  That was not the case here: the Shifalen’s “form” was remarkable, an economy of movement and saber strikes, each resulting in another Sith death.  Rik had seen her utilize this unique variant of Form VI—a “Formless Form” she’d once told him—against many an opponent, yet he’d never once seen a better blademaster than Stryka Annix.

As Koawan Stryka cut down another Sith, she was joined once again by Sarll, a void in the fighting seemed to surround them for a moment.  From the corner of his eye, Rikard witnessed two Sith Lords crumple to the ground, a bloody Master Jar'es'Kinsler stepping over the bodies, his ghostly orange blade looking almost translucent in the steamy air.  Rik quickly joined them, taking advantage of the lull in combat.

“Jar’es.  Stryka.  Sarll.”  Rikard nodded to one and then the other two, standing in front of the two hulking Cataphracts.  The Mak’Tor Jedi Master stood by him although his head never stopped moving, his eyes trying to see everywhere at once.

At once, Rik was amazed by how young the man was; he must’ve been no older than his mid-twenties, if even that.  This close, he could feel the power radiating off of Jar’es, absolutely remarkable, especially for one so young… “Have you seen Slo’Ma?” Rik asked the Mak’Tor master.

Still surveying the battlefield, his quiet voice was almost too low to hear.  “No, Lord Macias.  Last I saw of him, he was directing the Cantors.”  That didn’t surprise Rik; he knew that Kage Chillum had charged his friend to lead the Singers.  He turned and faced the Cathar who towered over him.

“Good work on the line, Sarll.”  Golden eyes stared unblinkingly into Rikard’s green.  The Vhal’Dan Speaker still held his Beskar Breaker tightly in his enormous paw, his armor looking the worse for wear.  But aside from some burnt fur, Sarll was uninjured.  Yet he had a pained look upon his face.

“…We lost some good people with that action.  Kage.”  As always, the Cathar added the last as almost an afterthought.  Sarll then coughed, smoke from some of the burning speederbikes mixing with the steam and gasses blanketing the valley.

Rik’s lips tightened, the look on his face one of commiseration.  “I know.  May the Maker keep them…” Rik’s quick litany was echoed by the two Cataphracts.  “Take some comfort in the knowledge that their deaths are not in vain.”  Awkwardly, he placed his armored hand upon Sarll’s vambrace.  But before he spoke again, his face hardened.  “But don’t think on it overlong; we still have much to do now.”  Rik’s intense stare included Stryka as well.  “There’ll be time for lamentations after we kill these Sith bastards.”

With that Rik motioned to Jar’es, both men wading back into the fighting, leaving the two Cataphracts alone and to their own thoughts.

               <<<<< >>>>>
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Maenowan Nexu Master of the Vhal'Dan

My sabers:Zearic's Aldrnari, Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, AS; Zearic's shoto, Initiate v5 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; Apprentice v4 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: 756
Posts: 3062


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2019, 03:31:19 PM »


Chapter 5: Casualties of Circumstance, part II

Kiel laughed as another Sith Lord fell beneath his blade.  Scanning the field, he searched for the Dark One, anger and even revenge in his heart.  Oh, he knew the proscriptions against such but this was war.  Formalities and niceties were not going to win against the Sith.  Besides, Kaan had much to answer for: whatever he’d done during the Fifth Battle in the Virdunne Forest had resulted in the deaths of many a good Jedi…too many of them his friends.  Another Sith Lord stepped in front of him, her red blade arcing through the air intent on decapitating him.  Deftly, he sidestepped the attack, matching the Sith’s intensity with his own.  Working his saber, Kiel was able to finally dispatch her when she’d momentarily slipped on the blood that covered the ground, allowing him an opening in her defenses.  Unceremoniously, he stabbed her through the heart, already moving away from the falling body as he continued to search for the Dark One.

He suddenly spied a pair of Sith Lords, one of them holding what looked like a human boy captive while the other tortured an injured Jedi laying on the ground.  Kiel could see the pain, fear, and hopelessness upon the boy’s face as the two Sith laughed, the one torturing the Jedi tiring of her prisoner.  With deliberate slowness, she plunged her lightsaber into the Jedi’s belly, dragging it upward towards his head.  Cruel laughter punctuated the Jedi’s dying torment as the red plasma blade half-vaporized, half-cauterized the intestines, lungs, and finally throat.  As a final affront, the Sith Lord withdrew her saber from the Jedi’s neck and stabbed both of his eyes, the wet orbs burned away in an instant.

Red fury took ahold of Kiel, his saber in his hand and—even before he knew what he was doing—he attacked.  He immediately killed the Sith Lord who’d tortured the Jedi to death, moving onto the other holding the boy without saying a word.

“Take another step and I’ll kil—” The Sith Lord’s voice was forever silenced as Kiel (using the Force) crushed the man’s larynx.  And while Kiel never once stopped looking to see if the Dark One was near, he offered the boy some small comfort.

“Are you hurt?  Are you injured?” Kiel’s voice seemed to make no difference to the boy who stared off into the distance, neither seeing nor responding.  Kiel’s desire to see the Dark One face justice and what he saw as his duty to the boy ran through his mind, his decision vacillating from one and the other.  Finally, he decided to take the boy with him as he searched for Kaan.  And whenever he came across an enemy combatant, he would dispatch them like the obstacle he considered them to be.

So it went throughout the afternoon.  The Dark One’s army had been trapped between the Mak’Tor hammer and the Cataphract anvil, sundering the Brotherhood host in two.  Several large groups now whittled down the Sith defenders, all of them with the hope of meeting the Dark One.  And killing him.

For their part, the Brotherhood mounted a two-pronged counter-offensive, the first being the Dark One’s “spear” while the other was a contingent of Sith sent to harass Jedi forces, utilizing their speederbikes. 

Ever the astute tactician, General Valenthyne Farfalla had anticipated this tactic, his own skyborn forces inflicting considerable casualties as a result of his own surprise attack.  For the rest of the afternoon, Sith speederbikes rained down upon the fumaroles, shot out of the Ruusan sky by the half-Bothan general’s airforce.  Several had careened towards the ground where Kiel and the boy had only been moments before.

He grimaced as yet another Sith Lord engaged him.  None of these fools would keep him from his glory…and his destiny.  It would be him, General Kiel Charny, that would rid the galaxy of the stain that was Skere Kaan, returning honor to the Jedi and peace to every planet.  He deftly brought his saber from a spinning orbit, knocking his opponent’s blade away while he rolled his wrist, finally disarming the Sith Lord.  Without flourish he killed the man, grabbing the arm of the semi-catatonic boy as he led him through the fumaroles, always intent on spying Kaan.

He felt more than saw a lancing group of heavy blaster fire from his left, squinting unconsciously as a fireball bloomed from a speederbike explosion.  The boy didn’t react to that, careless even of the heat.  Kiel was about to move on when his eyes suddenly focused upon the figure walking away from where the speederbike had gone down.  Confident that Farfalla had splashed another Sith speederbike, Kiel was ready to dispatch the Sith Lord when he caught his first real sight of the pilot.  Uncertain if his eyes were deceiving him Kiel shook his head, staring at the approaching person silhouetted against the rising flames.  And when they became visible, he almost lost grip on his still-ignited saber, the boy all but forgotten.

“…By the Force…Githany…How?” He stammered.  Kiel was dumbfounded.

As padawans under the Cathar Jedi Master Handa, Kiel and Githany had first become friends and eventually lovers.  And—at least for a time—they’d been happy.  But all of that came crashing down when Master Handa had discovered their relationship, censuring both padawans.  Kiel had stoically accepted his master’s rebuke, ending it with Githany.  Hurt and disgusted, she turned to the Dark Side, joining the Brotherhood where she completed her training under the tutelage of her new master, Skere Kaan.

It was to the Dark One that, pledging fealty, she betrayed the Jedi Order by revealing key intel critical to the Army of Light.  As a direct result, the Second Battle of Ruusan had been a decisive Sith victory, the Army of Light’s first Ruusan fleet annihilated… To be certain, there had been massive Sith casualties as well, including one of Skere Kaan’s flagships, the Vengeance.  Of course, the rumor that Githany died had also spread along with the news of the Vengeance’s demise.

Instead prior to the Second Battle of Ruusan, she had been sent to the Sith Academy at Korribon where she met a charismatic and powerful student.  And while she took him as her own apprentice, he soon far outstripped her strength in the Force, his Dark Side Powers without equal.

Darth Bane.

Together, they’d returned to Ruusan where the forces of the Brotherhood of Darkness and the Army of Light clashed, the fate of the entire galaxy hanging upon who would be the victor…and who would be dead.

Never once had Kiel even considered that he would see his former lover again.  Even now that she stood before him, lightwhip humming in her hand, Kiel’s disbelief deadened his resolve.  His disbelief…and his feelings for Githany.

Without speaking she attacked, her lightwhip intent on scourging Kiel, to make him suffer, to beg, to feel the pain that she had once…

Kiel responded sluggishly able to parry but never once following up to attack.  He knew as soon as he’d seen her that he could not kill his former lover... Not after all of the pain that he’d caused her.  Feelings that had once been deeply buried now threatened to overwhelm the Jedi general.  Time and again, Githany’s lightwhip was thwarted but only just.  Kiel was unable…unwilling…to fight the woman who had been the love of his life.

Suddenly Githany’s lightwhip snaked down Kiel’s blade, wrapping around his forearm.  With a violent tug, the lightwhip sent his lightsaber—and his hand—through the air, falling to the ground a few meters from where they fought.

While the pain from his excised hand threatened to send him into shock, it was the emotional pain that now inundated the Jedi general.  Grasping the stump of his arm, the cauterized flesh smelling sickly-sweet, Kiel turned his eyes towards his former lover.

“Githany…I…I am so sorry.  I…never got to tell you.  But…I’m sorry.” Kiel’s face, while contorted in pain, looked serene.  For herself, Githany merely stared at him.

But for all her outward appearance, Githany’s emotions were in turmoil.  Rage, betrayal, pain, hate…love; all went through her mind at once, the sight of the man that she used to love kneeling on the ground.  There was no hate in his face, no admonishment…just the look of regret and contrition radiating from him.  And for the first time, Githany was uncertain as to what she wanted, really wanted…

A sudden flash of blue marked her vision, as if she’d stared straight into the sun.  A moment later, Kiel’s body collapsed at her feet, his head rolling away.  Looking around Githany saw a boy, in his hands he gripped Kiel’s lightsaber, the blue blade humming as he slowly lowered it.  His eyes seemed to regain focus as if doing so for the first time in a long time.  And then he spoke, his voice initially a whisper but growing stronger and louder with every word.

“…he…he was a Jedi…he…he fought the Sith…but…but he was…was angry…cruel…how…how can…can the Jedi…be so…cruel?  How…how can…how can the Jedi be so…so…useless?!  How?  HOW?!” He screamed.  He had no tears, no feelings of shame, only dismay.

With a shrewd look affixed upon her face, Githany slowly approached the youth.  And she felt it: the youth was Force-sensitive.  “Because…because the Jedi are cruel; they are callous and vindictive.”  Stranding in front of the boy, she placed a soft hand upon his shoulder.  “They are what is wrong with the galaxy.  Not the Sith.”

The boy’s head nodded, his eyes suddenly staring directly at her.  “Yes.  Yes…I know that you’re right.  I…I know that…that’s true…I know it…” He closed down the lightsaber.  “I know it.”  The last was but a whisper.

“You do.” Githany announced, a plan forming.  Cupping his face with both of her hands, she looked deeply into the boy’s green eyes.  “And I will be the one to show you how to save yourself…from the Jedi, from everyone.”  Githany stood tall, indicating to the youth that he should do likewise.  “I will take you as my apprentice.”  She announced.  Her features suddenly softened.  “What is your name?”

The boy squared his shoulders, his face determined.  “Darovit.”  He said, drawing out each syllable as if unused to speaking his own name.  “I am Darovit.”  With that, he knelt before her.  “And I am your apprentice, my Lady.”
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Maenowan Nexu Master of the Vhal'Dan

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

PsychoSith
Knight Captain
*

Force Alignment: -97
Posts: 427


Dark Side Scholar


« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2019, 04:32:44 AM »

Special thanks to PsychoSith for the awesome saber rendering!  This chapter is dedicated to him  Smiley
*******************************************************************************

Chapter 5: Casualties of Circumstance, part I

In the pre-dawn darkness the two armies met, a fiery conflagration of conventional ordnance, energy weapons, and Force-powers…killing, maiming…almost immediately devolving into hand-to-hand fighting as Sith and Jedi attacked one another.  There was no quarter given, the brutality of both sides evident upon the battlefield where bodies littered the entire landscape.  On one side, the Dark One Skere Kaan commanded his Sith Lords; the other: General Kiel Charny led what remained of his devastated battalions, the vanguard reinforced by the Vhal’Dan Cataphracts.

The two armies met in a desolate place where the Virdunne Forest suddenly gave way to the geologically active fumaroles, known colloquially as the “Valley of a Thousand Smokes” where Ruusan vulcanism constantly reshaped the land.  Steam and gasses obfuscated the area, hot pools of water dotted the landscape where crevasses had been filled.  Now, blood joined the water in a mixture of reds, blues, and black as the dead and dying lay upon the valley floor, like some artist’s macabre canvass.

Fighting alongside the Cataphracts, Jedi Lord Rikard Macias worked his saberstaff furiously, the twin green blades never ceasing against the onrushing Sith, their red lightsabers legion.  As he swung a wide orbit to block in a group of enemy combatants, he Pulled upon the area they were gathered on, most of them taken unawares.  And although some of the Sith had protected themselves against his Force attack, those that had not were suddenly and violently propelled skywards, helpless.  At the crest when they were momentarily weightless, Rik reversed his efforts, Pushing the group back towards the ground, crashing into their Sith comrades in a savage mangle of bodies, armor, and earth.  Allowing himself a grin, Rik attacked another group of the Brotherhood.  There were still many more, most of them now starting to flank the Cataphracts…

That was the truth of the matter: there was always “more.”

Rik knew that even as formidable as the Cataphracts were, they could not impede the inexorable Sith tide.  Scanning the Jedi ranks, Rik saw that the heavily armored Legion were taking a beating, their lines close to collapsing… They would have to pull back. 

But then again, that was the plan.

As if he’d read Rikard’s mind, the Cataphract commander General Sarll Båz Rhadde, sounded the retreat.  While the Jedi forces gave ground, the Cataphracts covered their withdrawal, redoubling their efforts.  It was an prodigious sight to see, Rik had to admit.

Almost to a being, the Cataphracts suddenly seemed to halt the Sith offensive across the entire line.  And while their heavy armor was severely carbon-scored and dented, the Song-steel had held beneath the onslaught.  But what amazed Rik most was the Cataphracts’ primary weapon.  Once again, taking advantage of the fact that almost all of the Cataphracts were larger than average humanoids, they one and all wielded an enormous, two-handed lightsaber, one unlike any other.

Laboriously constructed of a cortosis and Beskar metal alloy, the hilt was at least 60 centimeters long, with two pairs of quillons, the lower set made of the alloy while the upper pair were plasma…as was the main blade, one that projected over two meters from the emitter.  The uncommon sabers were massive, their deadly nature and efficacy supplemented by the intimidating psychological menace that the weapon represented.  And in the hands of the Cataphracts, they had become legendary.

The Vhal’Dan Cataphract Zweihander.  That was their formal classification although most of the Jedi referred to them appropriately as “Beskar Breakers.”  Unsurprisingly, they lived up to their cognomen.

Even in full retreat, Sarll’s Jedi were fearsome, their weapons causing even the most savage Sith Lord to give pause.  But this Sith army was different than any other: it was being directly lead by the Dark One himself.  And if Skere Kaan didn’t inspire every individual Sith Lord under his banner, they were all certainly more frightened of him than the Cataphract’s zweihanders.  Still: for every meter that the Sith gained, the cost was paid in blood and lost limbs.

“Rally!  Rally!” General Kiel’s voice could be heard above the cacophony courtesy of a trick of the Force.  Rik found himself grinning; for once, Kiel’s vainglory would prove a helpful tactic.  Just as every Jedi had heard him, so too had the Sith.

Now in full retreat, the Jedi moved through the valleys of the fumaroles, all leading towards open canyons on the horizon.  The Sith knew that in those canyons, the Jedi could effectively disappear, free to carry out guerilla tactics at whim.  With this in mind—and having heard Kiel’s deliberate call to pull back—Kaan drove his Sith Lords with singular intent and drive.  And as the Dark One himself killed the brave, lone Cataphract that had stood against him, he yelled wordlessly, directing his army to pursue and overtake, killing all that stood before them.

With the Sith on the Army of Light’s heels, they quickly closed the distance within the fumaroles, careless of the high volcanic anticlines that lined the valley.  Incited by the Dark One as well as their own bloodlust, the Brotherhood’s pursuit was total and complete; they were now fully committed.

As Rik came upon Kiel, he gave a small nod to the Jedi general who responded with an arrogant lopsided grin.  Taking positions, the remainder of the joint battalions turned, facing the oncoming Sith.  Time seemed to slow, adding an air of perfect clarity.  Sarll stood in front of his Cataphracts, the hair on the right side of the Cathar’s mane singed and burnt.  Otherwise, he was uninjured.  And cautiously hopeful.  Rik could relate; the Sith were almost on top of them now, their red blades casting a blood hue within the valley reflecting off of the quartz buried within the rock strata of the anticline’s walls.  Rik thought he could even see the Dark One himself among the incoming Sith horde but he knew that was probably just his own mind.

And with a deafening crash both armies collided, time once again resuming its normal passage.  Seeing the promise of Jedi annihilation in the Sith’s eyes, Kiel’s joint battalion fought a desperate and furious defensive.  And the Brotherhood knew it.  For the Sith, the Sixth Battle of Ruusan would be a decisive victory, one that saw the Dark One victorious…

…If not for the fact that the Army of Light had planned for just this outcome.

With perfect timing, the remaining Mak’Tor Singers—lead by the few Cantors left—shut the door on the trap, seeming to erupt from behind the anticline’s walls while completely surrounding the Sith army on either side.  As one, their Songs and Battle Meditation began to strengthen the Jedi, their numbers more than replenished by the Mak’Tor as well as the Vhal’Dan Forcesages, both contigents led by Rik’s friend Slo’Ma and Sulen’s husband Master Dyrald Reu Lai, respectively.  A third and fourth battalion flanking the Sith’s rear attacked, Rikard’s twin sister Cir-Lan at the head of one, the Vhal’Dan Arbiter Sulen Reu Lai leading the other.  Meanwhile, another Mak’Tor battalion crashed into the Sith horde center, folding the army into itself and cleaving the Brotherhood’s host in twain.  At its forefront was another Mak’Tor “secret weapon:” Jedi Master Jar'es'Kinsler.  As he viciously swung his unique ghostly orange blade about, he simultaneously attacked with ferocious Pushes while incredible phantasms assaulted the sight of any Sith he faced, his attendant Force Powers incredibly powerful despite not being supplemented by the Cantors.

Even now, Rikard wondered how Master Kinsler was able to accomplish such seemingly impossible feats.  Whatever it was, Slo’Ma had never mentioned it.  Regardless, the Vhal’Dan Jedi Lord was thankful that Jar’es was on their side.

Now almost equal in numbers, the Army of Light renewed its offensive, hope and determination galvanizing the battlelust that the Jedi felt.  Countless Sith Lords fell from the initial assault, the surprise of both the assumed all-but-dead Mak’Tor Singers and Jedi reinforcements resulting in the Brotherhood’s confusion and disbelief. 

And within the valley of the fumaroles under the noontime sun, the tide of the battle turned yet again, this time favoring the Army of Light.

However, Kaan was nothing if not adaptive.  Within minutes, he had his Sith Lords regrouping, a “spear” formed to break out of the box that the Brotherhood now found itself in.  He would see himself and as many of his followers out of this trap…but he knew—even now—that it would be costly…

               <<<<< >>>>>

As another Sith Lord fell to his saberstaff, Rik saw from the corner of his eye as a handful of Sith were set upon by two Cataphracts.  One he recognized immediately as Sarll…the other seemed vaguely familiar… As the Cataphract engaged multiple enemies, Rik was able to recognize that she was a Shifalen.  Once he saw her saberwork, he knew without a doubt who it was.  The Shifalen had become separated from Sarll, surrounded on all four sides.  Unflinchingly, she attacked.

Rikard had seen several blademasters in combat, some of them dead having come to the erroneous belief that their superior skills with a saber made them invincible.  That was not the case here: the Shifalen’s “form” was remarkable, an economy of movement and saber strikes, each resulting in another Sith death.  Rik had seen her utilize this unique variant of Form VI—a “Formless Form” she’d once told him—against many an opponent, yet he’d never once seen a better blademaster than Stryka Annix.

As Koawan Stryka cut down another Sith, she was joined once again by Sarll, a void in the fighting seemed to surround them for a moment.  From the corner of his eye, Rikard witnessed two Sith Lords crumple to the ground, a bloody Master Jar'es'Kinsler stepping over the bodies, his ghostly orange blade looking almost translucent in the steamy air.  Rik quickly joined them, taking advantage of the lull in combat.

“Jar’es.  Stryka.  Sarll.”  Rikard nodded to one and then the other two, standing in front of the two hulking Cataphracts.  The Mak’Tor Jedi Master stood by him although his head never stopped moving, his eyes trying to see everywhere at once.

At once, Rik was amazed by how young the man was; he must’ve been no older than his mid-twenties, if even that.  This close, he could feel the power radiating off of Jar’es, absolutely remarkable, especially for one so young… “Have you seen Slo’Ma?” Rik asked the Mak’Tor master.

Still surveying the battlefield, his quiet voice was almost too low to hear.  “No, Lord Macias.  Last I saw of him, he was directing the Cantors.”  That didn’t surprise Rik; he knew that Kage Chillum had charged his friend to lead the Singers.  He turned and faced the Cathar who towered over him.

“Good work on the line, Sarll.”  Golden eyes stared unblinkingly into Rikard’s green.  The Vhal’Dan Speaker still held his Beskar Breaker tightly in his enormous paw, his armor looking the worse for wear.  But aside from some burnt fur, Sarll was uninjured.  Yet he had a pained look upon his face.

“…We lost some good people with that action.  Kage.”  As always, the Cathar added the last as almost an afterthought.  Sarll then coughed, smoke from some of the burning speederbikes mixing with the steam and gasses blanketing the valley.

Rik’s lips tightened, the look on his face one of commiseration.  “I know.  May the Maker keep them…” Rik’s quick litany was echoed by the two Cataphracts.  “Take some comfort in the knowledge that their deaths are not in vain.”  Awkwardly, he placed his armored hand upon Sarll’s vambrace.  But before he spoke again, his face hardened.  “But don’t think on it overlong; we still have much to do now.”  Rik’s intense stare included Stryka as well.  “There’ll be time for lamentations after we kill these Sith bastards.”

With that Rik motioned to Jar’es, both men wading back into the fighting, leaving the two Cataphracts alone and to their own thoughts.

               <<<<< >>>>>


Great chapters, Dutchman! Love the writing style, and thanks for the shoutout Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: July 05, 2019, 03:23:15 AM »

Ceaseless war, but very well told, the moment of glory turned to defeat for Kiel, and shows how close the two sides were once. But really love the battle description, the back and forth of it all very well done Dutch and your integration of the Canon tale with your own is top notch. 
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Surik: "Kreia, what are you—are you a Jedi, a Sith?"
Kreia: "Does it matter? Of course it does, such titles allow you to break the galaxy into light and dark, categorize it. Perhaps I am neither, and I hold both as what they are, pieces of a whole."

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« Reply #24 on: July 11, 2019, 08:22:01 PM »


Chapter 6: The Knife That Twists

Within the Dark One’s tent, Bane sat on the hard ground, Force-senses projected outwards.  Using a potent form of Battle Precognition, he was able to effectively gain direct insight from the entire confrontation, down to each participant.  With sweat dripping down his shaven head, he was able to “see” the entire battlefield within the Valley of a Thousand Smokes…even before it had occurred.  And although it required Herculean effort, Bane was able to witness the ebb and flow of the battle as the Brotherhood of Darkness clashed with the Army of Light.  In many instances, the only way to distinguish between the combatants was by the color of their lightsabers, so savage was—would be—the fighting.

But that was immaterial to Bane; there were only a handful of individuals that he actually cared to scrutinize.  One of them was Skere Kaan, leader of the Brotherhood.  One of them was General Kiel Charny, Jedi battle-commander for the Sixth Battle of Ruusan.  One of them was Jedi Lord Ga’Len’Chillum, the Army of Light’s chief tactician.  And one of them…

…One of them…well, he had plans for him.

Terminating his connection, Bane gulped deep breaths as he brought his body back under his control, his heart slowing while his body eventually achieved equilibrium.  Doing so, he allowed himself a grin.  Yes, plans were proceeding precisely as he required.

Soon, he would divest both the Dark Side and himself of the Brotherhood, the pretender Sith that he despised.  Soon, the Jedi would suffer a defeat that would ensure his own ascension.  And soon…soon he would find a true Dark Side apprentice, one powerful, ambitious, and worthy of the title “Darth.”

But first: to prepare.  Bane stood on unsteady legs, momentarily weakened from his efforts.  Even with his innate prowess with Precognition the exertion required to view such an extensive sphere had physically drained him.  Anger filled Bane; he must never be weak.  Willing strength into his body, he took several steps forcing himself to move through the pain.

Pain.  Pain was an excellent tool, one that would continue to teach…and beguile.  Yes, Bane knew just how useful pain was.  A fact that Kaan was about to suffer ad nauseum.  

Keying the comms device in the tent he connected to the Sith fleet in orbit, specifically the flagship Nightfall.  Or more precisely, the fleet commander Admiral Adrianna Nyras.  As he spoke with her Bane again utilized the Dark Side with a potent yet subtle power, this time a Mind Trick.  Only, this was not at all like those employed by the Dark One, his proficiency at the Mind Trick beyond compare even amongst the Brotherhood.  No, Bane touched upon Nyras’ baser desires and one in particular: her incessant loyalty to Kaan.  A simple “suggestion” and the admiral did the rest, never knowing that she did so at the behest of Bane’s machinations.

This time Bane’s lips twisted into a smile.  Yes, his plans were coming to fruition.  The Brotherhood and the Jedi both would rue ever having set foot upon Ruusan.  And he would finally have an apprentice to further the Dark Side.

And the galaxy would be forever changed ever afterwards.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Growling fiercely, Sarll’s anger powered his exhausted body, huge corded muscles flexing as his arms worked his Beskar Breaker in tight orbits to defend himself.  The two Sith Lords that he faced were just as tired but doggedly determined to finish him off after the Cathar had killed so many of their comrades.  And—Sarll was forced to consider—they might just succeed.

Dusk was beginning to fall, the steam that blanketed the fumaroles eerily reflecting the colored panoply of lightsaber blades in a grisly display, one that—even as night darkened—reflected more and more upon the dead and dying.

A glancing blow to his right pauldron surprised Sarll, testament of his exhaustion.  …Almost took off my head… He thought.  Drawing deeply from the Force, Sarll’s senses seemed refreshed, at least momentarily.  But as much as he tried, he could not force anymore speed or strength out of his weary body.  Finally, he saw an opening in one of his opponent’s defenses and, snarling, he threw his body—armor and all—at the Sith Lord like a missile.  The Sith’s eyes widened as he tried to get his red blade between him and the incoming Cataphract but he was too slow and Sarll fell upon him like a collapsing mountain.  Burying his enormous lightsaber’s blade to the plasma quillions, Sarll pinned the dying Sith Lord to the ground, hoping to roll away from the inevitable attack from the second opponent.  Remarkably, Sarll was able to do so…

…But he was only partially successful: the Cathar managed to evade the red blade slicing down upon him but as a result he was unable to grasp his own weapon still impaling the fallen Sith.  Sarll was on his feet in an instant…but completely unarmed.  Quickly, Sarll took inventory of his armor’s compliments…and found all minimissiles spent, blasters dry.  Gritting his teeth, Sarll wasn’t even certain that he could use the Force to move a pebble, much less anything substantial… Defiant to the last, the Cathar prepared to attack with his claws and teeth.

Before Sarll could move, the other Sith Lord suddenly dropped her saber, the red blade extinguishing.  Falling heavily, the body joined the legion of dead that spread across the Valley of a Thousand Smokes.  Sarll’s golden eyes looked up from the dead Sith…only to focus on one of the last people that he’d hoped to see.

Rikard’s grin pulled upon his scarred face, his eyes sparkling while in his hands were his green saberstaff and a wicked-looking black kukri made of Songsteel.  Closing down the dual green blades, Rik holstered the kukri and held out his hand.  Slowly inhaling, Sarll took it, his own paw fully engulfing the smaller human’s hand.  Gesturing to a rock outcropping, both of the Vhal’Dan Jedi limped over and sat in silence.

While there were a handful of other Jedi in the general vicinity, for the most part, Rik and Sarll were alone.  They both breathed deeply, the lull in the fighting offering them both respite.  Finally Rik spoke.

“The Brotherhood is finished; the Sith lines broke entirely.  And with the timely intervention of General Farfalla, there are no more Sith speederbikes to deal with…” Rik ran a hand through his short blonde hair.  Sarll said nothing, continuing to stare into the distance.  “…Slo’Ma and his Singers decimated the Inquisitors.  And Jedi Master Jar'es'Kinsler personally defeated a half-dozen of the Dark One’s colonels…”  Rik gave a half-chuckle.  “…wonder how he managed that…”  While Rikard pondered that enigma, Sarll turned his gaze directly at the human, his eyes fierce and penetrating.  Rik didn’t seem to notice, instead scanning the heavens from a break in the miasma.

“Kiel Charny is dead.”  Despite whispering, Sarll’s deep bass voice echoed through the shallow fumarole canyon walls.  The Cathar’s eyes remained open even though the memory of coming across the Jedi general’s body was suddenly foremost in his thoughts.

“…Yeah.” Was all that Rik said as he continued to stare up at the stars, his gloved fingers idly tracing the ridges on his saberstaff, his lips thinning.

Sarll shook his head, incredulous.  “You are one cold-blooded bastard, Black Rikard.”  The Cathar crossed his arms across his huge armored chest.  Even seated, he seemed to loom over the thin human.  “You don’t give a damn about anyone, do you?” He baited.

“I know that you were behind that fiasco with Rayfe.” The human’s voice was quiet, not quite a whisper.  It was the last thing that Sarll expected.  Although he blinked a few times, Sarll was comported enough to not be thrown by the turn of Rikard’s verbal attack.

“You should never have been Kage.” Sarll’s voice boomed with his own convictions.  “The Clans—”

“The Clans are finished, dead.” Rikard’s sharp interruption was full of castigation and repulsion.  “There are no more Clans; only the ‘Vhal’Dan Order.’  Those that think otherwise are already as useless as a broken hyperdrive, as dead as Kiel Charny.” Rik’s eyes mirrored his vehemence.  “If you don’t like it, challenge me to P’Rae’Lior.  If not: shut the kriff up.”  Rikard’s face was full of fury, unfeigned and unrestrained.  Even Sarll was taken aback, completely at a loss for words.  Rik held the Cathar’s eyes in a raptorlike gaze.  After a moment the human rose and walked off into the obfuscating steam without having said another word.

As much as Sarll’s hackles had been up, he was forced to admit that the Kage’s chastisement had humbled him.  And something more, something that the Cathar Speaker was loath to admit.  Rikard had frightened him; Sarll finally saw the man behind the perpetual mask that he always wore.  It reminded him…well…

…It reminded him of the Sith.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Even as his Brotherhood rallied, Kaan knew that the Sith had lost.  The day had begun as he’d foreseen: the Army of Light’s desperate attack on the lines only to be repulsed, resulting in ignominious retreat.  He’d tasted their defeat, seen the fear in their eyes…but then…

…Then they’d turned, stopping up the Sith lines.  And before he’d known it…the Brotherhood was boxed in.  But that wasn’t the only surprise: he’d been told that the Mak’Tor Singers had been annihilated.  Coupled with those heavily armored Vhal’Dan Jedi Guardians… And that damned Jedi Master, the one with the orange lightsaber, its ghostly blade cutting down countless Sith Lords… It had almost been the death of him!  The timely intervention of the Jedi reinforcements from orbit had been the final straw…

Kaan felt the heavy hand of his last remaining general on his shoulder.  Looking up, he saw that it belonged to Kopecz, the large Twi’lek covered with dirt, sweat, and blood.  “My Lord, we must move now.  If we retreat, we can still regroup at our encampment.  At least some of us…” The last was said under his breath but Kaan still heard him.  

Instead of admonishing Kopecz, Kaan grimly surveyed the battlefield.  He knew that the Brotherhood had been decimated.  Whatever survivors he found with him in the Sith camp, his army would be severely depleted…

“My Lord, now!” Kopecz’s voice finally penetrated Kaan’s despondency.  Nodding, he gave the command to retreat.  The Brotherhood was defeated.

Defeated…

               <<<<< >>>>>



Rikard tried to calm down.  And—not for the first time—he rebuked himself for his outburst.  It was just that Sarll…well, dammit, Sarll had gotten to him.  Hearing the Cathar reprimand him had enraged Rik, the utter hypocritical audacity of the bastard… Again, Rikard shook his head.  Yes, he was furious at Sarll…but he was also angry at himself.  Angry…and ashamed.

He and Kiel had rarely seen eye-to-eye but he’d never wished malice upon the Jedi general.  News of his death had shocked if not necessarily surprised him…but Rik did care.  There had just been so many deaths from this war…

Thank the Maker that none of those closest to him had died… And now, with the Brotherhood all but finished, he could breathe a sigh of relief.  …From reproach to reassurance… Rik almost laughed, the gamut of his emotions raw and exposed.  That was why he had left Sarll…

Rikard had not wanted the Cathar Speaker to see him absent his armor.  But even as he admitted as much, Rikard worried that he’d been unsuccessful, his passion getting the better of him.  Rik shook his head, rubbing the bridge of his nose as he tried to will the past away.  

…Good luck with that you fool… He admonished himself yet again.

Suddenly, Rikard stopped, finally aware of his surroundings.  Or rather, the fact that he was unfamiliar with them.  Somehow, he’d gotten lost.  Mentally berating himself, Rikard gritted his teeth while he ran his hand through his shorn hair.  Irritated, he turned to head back the way he came.

Only to come face-to-face with a shadow given life.

Uncertain but unnerved, he hefted his saberstaff, igniting the twin blades.  The white-green plasma cast some illumination on the figure: it was a human, about two meters tall and muscular besides.  But that wasn’t what gave him pause.  Rik could now see the man’s eyes.

They had the yellow irises of a Sith.  Bringing his saberstaff to bear, Rikard readied his offensive when the figure spoke, his deep baritone voice ruthless, intelligent, and self-assured.

“Stop, Rikard Macias.” The man held his arms palm up, his hands empty.  Something in his voice… “I do not wish to fight you.”

Rikard didn’t lower his weapon even though confusion racked his mind.  “Why not?  I’ve killed dozens of your fellow Brotherhood…”

The man’s face remained impassive but his voice took on a disgusted tone.  “Those fools are not my brothers.  One and all they are imbeciles and they deserve their deaths.  And more…” The last was said in a whisper, Rikard barely able to hear but stunned by the words.  …What in the Maker-damned hell…?

Here was a Sith who…was not part of the Brotherhood?  “And what of your precious Dark One?  Do you think to trick your way into his good graces?  Or perhaps you think to offer him a valuable Jedi hostage?”  Rikard’s tone was skeptical.

Yet again, the man’s face remained emotionless.  But his tone… “Kaan is the biggest fool of them all, undeserving of his vaunted position.”  His yellow eyes seemed to stare past Rikard.  “He has earned the consequences of his folly…”

Rikard couldn’t believe his ears.  “And I should just trust the word of a Sith?”  Rikard’s mental defenses were up.  “You must think I’m an idiot not to think that I wouldn’t be alert for the saber coming at my back.”

If Rikard’s mocking had any effect, the man seemed to ignore it.  Slowly shaking his head, he crossed his arms.  “You mistake me, Rikard Macias.  I am neither here to attack you nor to trade droll insults.”

When the man didn't elaborate further, Rik found himself curious.  “No?  Then what?”

With that, the man finally smiled…if granite could be said to do so.  “Allow me to digress: I am Darth Bane.”  His eyes seemed to glow.  “I am here to accomplish two things: the destruction of the Brotherhood…” He paused, if for effect or something else, Rikard could only guess.  “…and to attain an apprentice worthy of the Dark Side.”

Rikard blinked, all words flying from his mind as realization teased his conscious mind.  And when his focused eyes fell upon Bane, the Sith’s smile deepened.

“Yes.  Yes, Rikard Macias…you shall be my student.  Together we shall see the Sith arise from the ashes, in glory and to the detriment of the Jedi.  And the galaxy shall be ours to rule…as master and apprentice.”
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« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2019, 08:52:15 PM »

And Bane picks his Apprentice.   And not without merit.  Nicely played, Dutchman.  :-)   One of the fun things about Gray Jedi is that they are always just that little bit more vulnerable to the dark side, if it can just be presented properly...
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« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2019, 09:36:01 PM »

From the outset 'Black Rikard' had seemed just as vicious as the Sith he fought...it seems Bane noticed that too.  Now obviously we know the final story from the EU canon...but how they get to there from here...that is going to be very interesting...
more than a little parallel to Anson and Kazic in Saril and Rikard...that would seem the obvious clash...but things are rarely so obvious, and Rikard is no young eager knight regarding Bane's offer.  This will get very interesting...and probably very bloody with more awesome action scene, that fight between Saril and the Sith was brutal!
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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."

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« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2019, 02:52:51 PM »


Chapter 7: The Devil’s Temptation

Cir-Lan’s teal blade exploded through the back of the Sith Lord who’d been foolish enough to face her.  But before she could take a breath, she was attacked by four more Inquisitors, their red blades filling her vision.  They thought her easy prey, that they would overwhelm her with their concerted efforts.

She would disabuse them.

Cir-Lan swept to the side, Force-enhanced muscles speeding her from the Siths’ saber attacks.  The looks on their faces were priceless…as Cir-Lan knew they would be.  Reversing her grip, she cut down on the closest opponent’s arms, severing both just below the elbow.  In the same motion, she projected potent concentrated Force Push, sending the now armless Inquisitor crashing into the second closest Sith.  Still in motion, Cir-Lan somersaulted over the third Inquisitor, her lightsaber arcing through the Inquisitor’s head, bisecting it.  Landing lightly on her feet, she blocked the incoming red blade that threatened to decapitate her.  Flowing through the orbit, she adopted one of the close-combat katas that utilized the hilt as a bludgeon, smashing the nose of the fourth opponent.  Momentarily dazed, the Sith was unable to regain his defenses in time…not that it would have mattered.  Cir-Lan’s form was perfect: smoothly cutting upwards, she effortlessly switched from her Shien grip back to standard, bisecting the Inquisitor from groin to throat.  Even as the body crumpled, she’d already switched to Soresu, ready to defend.  Just in time: the second Inquisitor was rising, having recovered from the collision when Cir-Lan had sent her Sith companion crashing into her like a missile.  Cautiously, the Inquisitor approached.

What the Inquisitor didn’t know—and what Cir-Lan most certainly did—is that this Sith was already dead.  When Cir-Lan had projected the body of the Sith Lord in her Push, she’d also surreptitiously included one of her durasteel hair-sticks.  Oblivious of the needle-like missile, it had hit the Sith Inquisitor in the nerve-plexus of her right shoulder at the same time that her comrade’s body had violently crashed into her, covering the lesser impact of the hair-stick.  Cir-Lan smiled, awaiting the inevitable.

The Inquisitor suddenly stumbled, a confused look upon her face.  Her face still blank, Cir-Lan wasted no time and attacked, feinting first to her left and then to the right.  And while the Sith Lord was a competent swordswoman, she was no match for a Vhal’Dan battlemaster.  Cir-Lan’s blade arced directly towards the Inquisitor’s neck…from the right.  With perfect timing, the Sith Lord’s lightsaber fell from lifeless fingers, the red blade extinguishing as the weapon closed down.  As Cir-Lan’s blade took her opponent’s head, the last look upon the Sith Lord’s face was a mixture of bewilderment, pain, and fear.  However, once again Cir-Lan was moving, flowing from one kata to another as she was confronted by another wave of Sith.

Very quickly she lost time, deep within the battle-void that most blademasters enshrouded themselves in.  Countless Sith faced her only to fall.  And still she continued to fight.

Inadvertently, thoughts of Rikard preoccupied her mind as she waded through the Brotherhood.  Unsurprising really; she had always had a particularly strong connection to her twin…although the events of the day had distracted her from focusing upon the small knot of emotions in the back of her head that was her brother. 

As if to underscore that fact, Cir-Lan instinctively ducked, the red blade of a Sith Assassin barely missing the mark: instead of slicing through her spine, the lightsaber only scored her cuirass but did not penetrate.  She recovered in a second, dispatching the Assassin in little more than a minute.  She admonished herself: no more distractions.  As a result, she ignored her connection to her brother, at least while there were Sith to fight.

Sometime during the evening, she became aware that Sulen had joined her, the two women intuitively fighting as a pair.  They exchanged no words but fell into a familiar partnership that they’d developed during the long years of fighting together.  At one point they became surrounded, fighting back-to-back as they repulsed wave after wave…

…Until they noticed that there were no more of the Brotherhood around.  Well, none standing.  However, littering the ground around them were dozens of Sith bodies testament to the women’s lightsaber skills.  Breathing heavily, Cir-Lan closed down her weapon, her shoulders aching from exertion.

“Su…thank the Maker.” She smiled at the taller woman.  “I don’t think that I could’ve stood against that last horde…” She suddenly squinted, hyperaware of her own tousled hair and dirt-soaked face.  Somehow, Sulen looked immaculate with the lone exception of a single carbon-scored dent in her armor.  She even looked as if she had had time to reapply lipstick!  “OK Su…how do you do that?”

Sulen grinned, running her hand through her jet-black straight hair.  In her other hand, Su’s silver lightsaber hummed quietly, persistently…almost as if it hungered for more Sith blood.  “Sorry Cir-Lan, like I told your brother: Arbiter’s secret.” She winked an almond-shaped eye.  Still: she kept a diligent gaze that continued to scan the fumaroles, the thickening clouds of steam reflecting less and less of the red blades of Sith lightsabers.

Both women looked around as more and more Jedi gathered.  One and all they were exhausted, drained…yet triumphant.  And they knew: the Sith had lost, and more than just the Sixth Battle of Ruusan.

With this decisive victory, the Army of Light had won the war…or as good as, Cir-Lan thought.  The fact that the Dark One (and the diminished remainder of his army) had escaped was a minor detail to her.  As far as she was concerned, the end of the war was all but a foregone conclusion now.  “Thank the Maker it’s over.” Cir-Lan whispered, voicing her thoughts.

“No…” Sulen’s hard voice pierced the miasma, dark eyes falling upon the Vhal’Dan battlemaster, her still-ignited lightsaber punctuating her admonition as the silver blade cast pale shadows across her face.  “No it’s not.”

               <<<<< >>>>>



Rikard couldn’t believe his ears.  “…Me?  A—your apprentice?!” The Vhal’Dan Kage couldn’t hide the shock he felt.  “Why?” He asked incredulously.  His thoughts felt…thick was the word that came to mind.  For a moment, he thought he even saw his twin sister in his mind…

“You embody everything the Dark Side—and therefore the Sith—stands for: you fight for victory, using your passion.  Passion that gives you strength, strength which confers unto you power.  Power over others.  Power over yourself.  Such power…” Bane’s eyes stared off into the horizon as if seeing the future of things to come.  “…Such power will set you free.”

Rikard blinked, his head feeling heavy, his thoughts…sluggish.  His body—exhausted from hours of fighting—felt an odd juxtaposition of vigor and numbness.  Meanwhile, Bane’s words echoed through his mind.  After all, wasn’t that the reason that he’d struggled to become Kage? 

Rikard felt something tug on his memories, as if being orchestrated from beyond.  Scenes of the Clans fighting against the Jedi, themselves… Again, Cir-Lan’s face raced through his mind… The Jedi forbidding the Clans entry, denouncing them as apostates…marginalized by an Order that forbade personal attachments…attacked by a Republic that had turned their backs upon the Vhal’Dan.  At least until such a time that that same Republic—desperate and pleading—implored upon the Clans to help stop the inexorable Sith tide as the Brotherhood won victory after victory, entire systems falling under the Dark One’s sway.

Rikard closed his eyes, mind numb…slow.  It was during this time that he’d proven his aptitude as a leader among the Clan chiefs…he hadn’t taken power as a means for himself…he wanted to protect…no, save the Vhal’Dan—

Damn you, Sarll… Came the thought, unbidden, flared rage burning away some of the lethargy—

—And in doing so he’d also come to believe in that same Republic…and the Jedi Order.  His eyes lost focus again.  They’d promised Rikard that the Vhal’Dan would finally be awarded their rightful seats on the Council…but…

…But Rikard knew that it would never be enough.  Again, Rik’s anger cut through the much of the fog…but not enough.  Cir-Lan’s face disappeared into the ether of his memories… Too much dissension, too many dissidents like Sarll…or too many venal and obstructive bureaucrats—like Jedi Master (and later Supreme Chancellor) Genarra—would always get in the way of true progress…of victory—

—Rikard’s head swam in the cloud of betrayal and conviction that he felt rising from within—

Bane stood before him, his yellow eyes intense, eyes penetrating…

—It became immediately evident as to what Rikard need do as his anger fused with his intent: for the good of the Vhal’Dan as well as the fate of the galaxy…

Bane’s smile widened knowingly as he peered into Rikard’s clouded eyes.

…Yes, Rik knew beyond any doubt that the best way to save the galaxy and the Vhal’Dan was to first ensure that it was he, Rikard, that would protect them all from upon high, his rule expunging the Brotherhood to secure peace while further purging the corrupt Republic of the rot that infected it from within.

And all because of his master’s tutelage, Darth Bane.

Bane’s face radiated shrewd triumph.  “Yes, yes…” His deep voice intoned exultantly.  “…My apprentice.”  His arm raised above Rikard’s head as if to give the shorter man a benediction.  “Bow before me.”

Rikard was already halfway down towards the ground when he paused.  Something…something tickled his mind…something…something was…unclear.  No, not unclear…elusive(?)…no, not that either…something…was… Cir-Lan…screaming at him…something…why couldn’t he hear her?  She had…tears in her eyes…something…

Rikard’s gaze suddenly regained clarity, his eyes intent upon the man towering over him.  Everything about him exuded power.  But…but wasn’t that what Rik had wanted in his allies?  Again, his mind felt sluggish.  Of course, that was it.  That was why he’d surrounded himself with the people that he had: from his twin sister to Sulen, from Galen to Slo’Ma, Rik had known that such people made him stronger.  In fact, that was the exact reason that he’d included Sarll amongst his generals.  The Cathar may not always see eye-to-eye with Rik but he was…powerful…

…Sarll…

Rikard mentally shook his head.  Suddenly, Cir-Lan’s, Sulen’s, and Sarll’s faces filled his head.  Power…no, that was not Rikard’s motivation.  Neither was that the reason that those around him—his family, friends, and allies—fought with him.  He…they fought for the freedom of the galaxy.  Even a political enemy like Sarll fought alongside him…both masters having saved the other’s life in this war.  The fog lifted as the irony of the moment struck Rikard: once again, Sarll had saved him.

But Rikard continued his motion, bending the knee before the Sith Lord in front of him, seemingly oblivious of the change in Rik’s mood.  …Damned Mind Trick… Rikard berated himself while simultaneously amazed at Bane’s command of the Dark Side.  Bane’s Mind Trick was unlike any that Rikard had ever experienced: extremely powerful but…subtle, delicate even.  If such was testament to the Sith Lord’s power…Rikard knew that he was in trouble.  However, he gave away nothing as he bowed his head while replying, “What is your bidding, Master?”

Bane’s lips twisted into an arrogant smile, his eyes gazing favorably upon the man bowing before him in supplication.  Or so he thought.  Just as Bane opened his mouth to speak, Rikard exploded in motion, his twin green blades spinning through the air intent on taking the taller man’s head.

Rikard’s teeth gritted as he put forth every ounce of his strength into fortifying his muscles, agility, and reflexes, wrapping himself fully within the Force.  He was faster than a nexu, faster than the winds on Bespin… There was no way an opponent could defend against him; any other being would have been insufficient the task, being one head shorter as a result.

Not Bane.

Even though surprised, the large human Sith was still able to somehow dodge away from Rikard’s attack, his reflexes preternatural in their speed and acuity.  Instead of taking Bane’s head, Rik’s saberstaff arced through air where he’d been a split-second prior.  And while the green plasma managed to singe the black gorget protecting Bane’s neck, the Sith Lord was otherwise untouched.

Shocked, Rikard paused as Bane threw him a murderous look.  …How in the Maker-damned hell did I miss…? He thought.

Slowly, Bane raised his now ignited lightsaber, the red blade humming loudly as if feeding off his rage.  “That…” he intoned deliberately, “…was a mistake, one of the last that you shall ever make, Rikard Macias.”

“My biggest mistake was not killing you immediately.” Rikard taunted, trying to buy time.  He could feel Bane drawing the Force around him, almost as if the Dark Side itself began to surround the Sith.  Even if Rikard had not been exhausted, he knew that Bane was more powerful than him.  As it stood now…he knew he had no chance.

As if reading his mind, Bane scowled while giving an almost imperceptible nod.  “No, Rikard Macias.  Your greatest mistake is your hubris.”  With a flourish, Bane held his lightsaber at high guard.  “Now you die.”

And with that, he attacked.
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Maenowan Nexu Master of the Vhal'Dan

My sabers:Zearic's Aldrnari, Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, AS; Zearic's shoto, Initiate v5 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; Apprentice v4 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 #28 on: August 09, 2019, 07:17:14 AM »

Okay, here it comes....    Rik vs Bane.   To the death?   I await with baited breath...
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Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

Lord_S_Gray
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Force Alignment: 163
Posts: 1091



« Reply #29 on: August 09, 2019, 08:29:49 PM »

Every chapter of this series shows the intensity - ferocity of the war on Ruusan and in turn the battle sharpened prowess of every member of the Vahl'dan - Saril, Rickard, Silent now Cir-lan - there is a ruthlessness and grim experience in all of them far more than even the Vhal'dan as they appear in Schisms or later born of this ceaseless war - and every chapter Dutch you show this over and over how the war is almost all they are and they have become experts in it. I could easily see Saril taking on Jarys or Cir-lan Kiraea in a way the next generations of Vhal'dan could not because of this difference in attitude where their whole order is still being formed in a crucible of war and it's future clashing with recent clan past in every one of them - the very clash Bane sought to use and nearly won, Rickard might say there was some mind trick...and there probably was, but 90 per cent of that struggle was all him.
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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."

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