Click here for lightsabers
  • Home
  • Help
  • Login
  • Register
Pages: 1 ... 4 5 [6]   Go Down
Author Topic: Hearts of Stone  (Read 3727 times)
Lord_S_Gray
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 164
Posts: 1104



« Reply #75 on: May 30, 2019, 03:13:34 PM »

Well, learning that Opal is royalty certainly adds flavor... Keep it coming Karm!

Indeed adds a different dimension, I mean i suspect it is still the same Opal Alex/Joanna know and arguably there was no point telling them (for all Opal knew her fellow shard were all long since destroyed so a moot title) still feeds into Shalon's belief Opal is the key to the Sorcerers salvation a bit more.
Logged

Lord_S_Gray

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

Karmack
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
Knight Commander
************

Force Alignment: 912
Posts: 4401


Light side points please.


« Reply #76 on: July 23, 2019, 02:21:32 PM »

Chapter 13: One Giant Leap for Shard-kind
n'Croth Spaceport
M'haeli system
5 ABY

Alex tensed as the swirl of hyperspace broke down and resolved into the starfield of the M'Haeli system.  He and Joanna sat in silence for long seconds, undconciously holding their breath as they scanned the area with eyes and sensors.

Nothing.  Just peaceful stars and placid space.

Alex released his held breath in a sigh, then grinned as he heard Joanna's matched release.  "Well.  That was anti-climatic."

"Thank the Maker." Joanna replied, her hands busy as she brought up the Hope II's drive and began moving in-system.  Due mainly to their own long transit and a desire to be as nondescript as possible they'd emerged further out than normal, though they were in the standard shipping lane.  Even out here there were fairly regular flashes of blue as ships stretched through the psuedomotion of hyperspace entry and exit, and the flashes got thick enough closer in that even in the vast emptiness of space there was a real concern of a collision.  So, like a lot of tramps, they'd chosen to emerge further out and take a more oblique course in-system, though their reasoning was more about having time to observe and avoid any obvious Imperial presence than the more common collision concern.

"Course is plotted and transmitted to system control.  This far out it might be an hour or two before they get back to us, though.  Assuming they approve our course and don't change our vector we should be landing in ... four hours or so."

"Thanks." Alex stood and stretched.  "I'll let the kiddies know ... and see if Opal is awake yet."

Shorty after they'd jumped to hyperspace outbound from Nar Shaddaa, and with little explanation, both Shard had gone into some form of hybernation.  Their droid bodies were not dormant - they were in fact using power at rates slightly greater than normal - but the Shard themselves had in essence gone to sleep.  Cobalt had awoken only hours before, just before they'd set up for the final series of jumps into M'haeli, and had seemed normal, but the Mak'Tor were keeping a close eye on him while Shalon continued her own vigil over Opal herself.

Alex stuck his head into the lounge area, finding Donovan and Jamason with Cobolt.  "We've dropped out of hyperspace and there doesn't appear to be a welcoming committee for once.  Joanna says we should be landing in about four hours."

"Good." Donovan replied, standing and stretching.  "Jamason and I need to check in with the local mission and get a status report off to our superiors, as well as pick up some ... supplies."

Alex leaned against the door frame and crossed his arms.  "Oh?  Still having power issues?"

Jamason nodded.  "Cycle times are getting shorter and shorter.  The modulator you worked up for me on Nar Shaddaa helps, but even with it I'm only getting a few minutes of full-power before I have to swap power cells."

"It has to be the cell design." Alex frowned, his mind running over the specs.  "The couplers and power runs in your saber are identical to Donovan's.  The only difference is the short, high-density cell."

"Which is why I need to visit our mission here.  The Knights running security have a supply of maintenance parts, including a longer grip section and some standard power cells and couplings." Jamason laid his saber on the table.  "The longer grip will let me use the same power cells as Don, which will hopefully stop the degrading power cycle issue as well as give me usable endurance."

"Makes sense.  I hope it works." Alex grinned.  "What about you, Cobolt?  Are you going to go with them?"

The Shard shook his head.  "Yes and no.  I have my own shopping list that needs attention."

Alex felt his eyebrows rise.  "Oh?  What are you seeking?"

"See for yourself."

Alex took the offered padd and scrolled down the list.  "Focus array ... power coupling ... mounting brackets and bracing ... high-density duranium tubing ... power interface ... plasma emitter ..."  Alex looked up.  "These are all lightsaber components."

The droid nodded.  "Indeed."

Alex handed the padd back.  "Based on quantities, you're hoping to build more than one."

"Also correct.  Two, in fact.  Though only one will be mine."

Alex glanced at the cargo bay where Shalon and Opal remained together.  "And one for Opal..."  He turned back to Cobolt.  "You know its still illegal to own a lightsaber, or trade in the materials required to build one."

The Shard was silent for a moment, the eyes of the droid body seeming to flicker with thought.  "Do you have a proposed solution, friend Alex?"

Alex let his grin show now.  "Well...   The plasma emitter and most of the power couplings and interfaces can be manufactured from spare parts in the workshop.   If we take those off the list, the rest of those parts are plumbing and bracing materials for the most part.   Joanna and I could pick them up easily."

"That would also shield you and Opal from exposure to threats while we are here." Donovan added, leaning back to sip his cafe.  "I know hiding isn't fun, but considering the quality of enemies you two apparently have..."

Cobolt nodded.  "Agreed.  If you will supply the missing parts, I will begin construction immediately." The Shard rose and headed for the workshop in engineering.

Alex held his position, forcing the Shard to stop and face him.  "Just one question: what about the crystal?  You're going to need a couple to make these work you know."

The Shard made a noise that might charitably be called a chuckle.  "I am aware, Friend Alex.  Never fear, the crystals will be provided."

  <<<<< >>>>>

Shalon felt the ship settle on the landing pad and reluctantly opened her eyes.  She laid her hand on the cold droid body and felt Opal beginning to stir.  She'd be awake soon.  Shalon wanted to stay, but she had her own errand to run.  As strong as the pull was for her to stay in her over-watch, the call pulling her from the port was stronger.

Silently Shalon stretched, limbering her body back up and allowing herself time to come fully awake as the Knights and Krins left the ship ahead of her.

  <<<<< >>>>>

Alex and Joanna moved through the market area adjacent to the port and for a time they allowed themselves to relax.  The day was warm but not overly so, the sun bright but not remarkably so, the wind no more than a pleasant breeze which kept the heat at bay without causing any problems.  The couple walked together, holding hands and trying different local street vendor's wares while they browsed for the parts they needed as well as a few other things.  It was a pleasant day, spent together, with little of the pressures and dangers of the near past.  It was a day they both needed.

When they returned to the Hope they found Opal awake again and helping Cobolt in the electronics workshop.  As Joanna put the general supplies and groceries away with the help of the droids Alex took the special parts they had acquired and joined the Shard in fashioning their new weapons.

  <<<<< >>>>>

Jamason calmed his nerves as he inserted the standard power pack and gave it a turn to seat it.  The pack clicked home with a solid, mechanical sound and the modified saber was again live in his hand.  He looked at Donovan and Kowan Jo'Nat'Than with a worried grin.  "Well, here goes nothing..."

Jamason pressed the activation switch and relaxed as his familiar cyan blade sprang to life.  He gave the saber a few swings, ran through several flourishes and  breathed a sigh of relief as the saber responded to his touch with its accustomed liveliness.  "Perfect."

"Good.  Now maybe you'll admit that the longer hilt is better?" Donovan grinned as his friend responded by sticking out his tongue.  "Eloquent, as always."

"Well, that's why you write the reports, eh Don?" Jo was also grinning.  "I'm glad we had the parts on hand.  I can't imagine being stuck out on the rim somewhere with a faulty hilt...

"It is in fact quite stressful.  I feel much better now." Jamason tucked his hilt away under his robes.  "I hope you won't have any problems replacing the parts?"

"No problem at all.  They'll just slip them in with the next bacta shipment.  Getting this out, though..."  he picked up the data crystals Donovan had given him.  One was a full report, including their best analysis of the data they'd recovered on Nar Shaddaa.  The second was a copy of the raw data itself.  "...this could be a bit tricky.  Local customs don't care all that much about what you bring in and out, but they do have this irritating habit of wanting to at least know what it is.  And this ... really can't wait."

"I'm sure you'll manage." Donovan said.  "Meanowan Jackson wouldn't have sent you out here if you weren't ... resourceful."

"True." Jo'Nat picked up the crystals and "disappeared" them into a hidden pouch in his robes.  "Are you two sure you don't want to walk away from this?  You've collected more than enough information on the Krins to clear them of suspicion.  There's no doubt at HQ that the interference has originated with Jeric and his InQuestors.  And if you come in now, I can get you home in plenty of time for S'Kar'Yom..."

"No, we're committed.  Besides, I have a feeling about this one..."

Jamason rolled his eyes as he saw the glint in his partner's eyes.  "Oh, no.  He's got that "lost puppies rescued" look again..."

Jo'Nat laughed.  "That he does.  Ok, go rescue your puppy then.  If you do get in trouble, though, activate the beacon.  The Jokers rotated through here not to long ago and the Black Aces are due in a couple of weeks.  It may not be immediate but if you really need help I should be able to scare up something to send your way."

"Thank you, Jo." Donovan gripped the Koawan's hand.  "Maker bless you."

"And you."

  <<<<< >>>>>

The alley was dark, but darkness was not something she ... or her master ... feared.  Shalon had been very careful, tailing the Mak'Tor and Krins as they left the ship before looping back on her own pathway several times.  Her stealth incantations were the deepest and most effective ones she knew ... she would always cherish the look on the face of the man who had been staring at her when she suddenly disappeared from his site ... and she had spent hours winding through the maze of side streets and bazaars that made up the fringes of the n'Croth spaceport. 

As Shalon advanced at last into the darkness of the designated street she suddenly felt the presence of Master Non Shrall.  His essence emerged from the darkness like a light surfacing from deep water - not a brilliant star but a steady, friendly glow.  She dropped to one knee and ducked her head.  "My Master, I have come."

"Well done, young one.  Even I was unable to trace your path until you were quite close.  Slipping into the White was quite clever."  The old Sith inclined his head to his beaming apprentice in respect. 

"Thank you, Master." Shalon rose and spoke with a low voice.  "I am honored.  What is thy bidding?"

The eyes of the ancient Kissai shone.  "It is time.  You have won their trust.  It is time to take advantage of that.  I have foreseen it."   He laid his hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently, then waved it in a complex incantation pattern.  "I have hidden our approach.  Now, take me to her.  It is time..."

  <<<<< >>>>>

Alex watched, fascinated, as the Shard worked.  They'd returned to find both Opal and Cobolt busy in the electronics shop pre-assembling what they could.  They'd taken the additional parts and finished the work, then went still.  And now, still, they worked all the harder, the force ebbing and flowing with more concentrated power than he'd ever felt before. 

"Are they ok?" Joanna handed Alex a steaming mug.  "They've been still for a long time."

"Yes, they're fine.  I think." Alex replied.  "You remember when I built my saber?"

"Yes." Joanna sat next to him.  "You were three days at it, as I recall.  Half of our honeymoon."

"That was when I made the crystals." Alex replied, his eyes twinkling.  "And I made it up to you as I recall."

"Well..."  Joanna grinned back.  "Okay so isn't that what they're doing now?"

"No." Alex looked back at the still droids.  "They've got the components.  Right now they're making connections and aligning parts.  I'm just curious where their crystals are..."

As if on queue, a small panel on Opal's torso popped open and a amber gemstone floated out.  Immediately after a similar gem appeared from Cobolt's side, appropriately a light-blue color.  The couple watched as the gems floated to the benches and disappeared into the building sabers.  Alex sampled the energies again, following the flows as the Shard assembled their weapons, noting the similarities - and differences - from his own design.  The power systems in particular were far heavier, the emitters and power cells designed for faster and heavier cycles and cycling more plasma.  Weapons designed not just for saber on saber combat, but to hack through rock, metal ... and crystal. 

Power hummed as the droid bodies suddenly came back online, and Alex sensed the final connections seating and circuits completing.  Alex stood, waiting, as the Shard drew their hilts to themselves, studying them with both their electronic eyes and the deeper senses of the force.  It was a solemn, reverent moment, the air humming with power.

"Are they completed?"

Donovan's voice broke the stillness and Alex started.  "I think so." he replied, forcing steadiness into his voice.  "Opal?"

The Shard turned her head toward them.  "Friends ... let us find out together."  She raised her hilt and with a heavy snap and thrumming sound the amber blade sprang to life, nearly half-again as long and wide as the blades Alex and the Knights wielded.  Next to her Cobolt activated his as well, bring it around with a flourish and crossing blades with Opal.  The clash was tremendous and the two withdrew their blades after a brief lock-up, powering them down again. 

"They are complete, and satisfactory." Opal said.  "Thank you, friends, for your assistance."

"Glad to help." Alex replied.  "Now, we need to discuss..."

A shimmer interrupted Alex and without warning a tall, imposing figure stood before them.  "Greetings!"

Without thought Alex had his saber in-hand, the blade ignited.  He heard the heavy sounds of the Shard re-igniting their weapons as well as the more refined hum of the Mak'Tor's weapons. 

"Hold!  We are not hostile!" Shalon emerged from her own stealth incantation, hands empty and spread wide.  "I told you this was a bad idea..."

Alex felt Joanna's hand on his arm and he relaxed, lowering his weapon.  "Shalon.  You should have announced yourself."

Shalon nodded, radiating regret in the force.  "Yes, I know.  However, my Master..."

"...can speak for himself!" The Kissai Master scowled, his tentacle beard shimmering with movement on his tattooed face.  "I am Non Shrall, Master Sorcerer of Tund.  And my apprentice is correct, I have a weakness for dramatics.  In that I beg your forgiveness."  And with a complex arm flourish the Sith bowed.

Alex shut his saber down.  "Apology accepted ... Master Shrall.  What can we do for you?"

"Actually, I seek an audience with Mistress Opal." Shrall turned and bowed again.  "Mistress, I am the last of my kind. I am old and spent, but I have seen a vision - The learning of Tund living on in hearts of stone."  The ancient eyes softened and he laid his hand on Shalon's shoulder.  "Hearts of stone ... as well as flesh and blood.  Sorceress and Sorcerer, flesh and stone, side-by-side.  I have foreseen it."   He squeezed gently, then waved his hand.  "I propose an alliance.  I know of your people's plight.  The war you contemplate will be long, but we can keep you hidden while you recruit and build your forces.  We can teach you ways of striking your enemies and learning their plans that you do not know.  We can help you free your people."

Opal cocked her head to the side in a gesture Alex had learned to recognize as her "thinking" pose.  "Tempting.  What do you seek in return?"

"A home.  Nothing more."

Opal looked at Cobolt and again Alex felt the intense passage of force energies between them as they communicated.  Then Opal nodded, her hand extended.  "Your help for a home. Agreed."

The old Sith took it and fire blazed in his eyes.  "Agreed and well done!"
Logged

signature picture by DarthScrub

Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

Lord_S_Gray
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 164
Posts: 1104



« Reply #77 on: July 23, 2019, 05:56:37 PM »

Nice, always good to see a 'Sith' whose not a 'Sith' LOL, the specieis not the philosophy. Even so there is still some machinations going on here, hopefully its just both interests are well aligned and no double dealing, but one can never be sure...and the Inquestors are still out there...
Logged

Lord_S_Gray

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

TheDutchman
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 779
Posts: 3136


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #78 on: July 26, 2019, 12:38:49 PM »

The plot thickens: Shalon's loyalties to the Kissai Master make her an even more dubious character.  Where this leads our heroes...well, I can't wait to find out  Wink

As always, I love your dialogue Karm.  It's evident that your characters are more than just straw caricatures and the interplay between Joanna and Alex are a personal favorite of mine.  I also enjoy the ambiguous nature of the Shards and the Tund members; makes for an enjoyable mystery.

...And--like LSG already said--the InQuestors are out there...
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
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
Knight Commander
************

Force Alignment: 912
Posts: 4401


Light side points please.


« Reply #79 on: September 02, 2019, 04:47:35 PM »

Chapter 14: Convergence
En Route to Orax
Hydian Way
5 ABY


Alex carefully extracted his head and shoulders from the cramped engine compartment of the lander.  He wiped sweat from his brow as he drained a half-liter of cold water from an insulated bottle while the mini-comp finished its diagnostics of the energy storage and transfer systems.  The device beeped and he picked it up.  "That did it."

"Were the numbers satisfactory, friend Alex?" Cobolt asked from his own panel, where navigation calculations streamed by to fast for human comprehension. 

"Yes.  The redundant circuits were causing the power loss.  I inserted the physical bypass and the storage system and engine transfer rates are now in spec.  It will require you to manually engage the back-ups if they are needed, however."

"Hence these 'toggle switches' you installed in the nav panel?" Cobolt pointed inerringly into the small cockpit of the lander at the secondary control panel where a series of physical on-off toggles were installed.

"Yes.  A simple, binary solution to a complex problem." Alex stood and stretched. 

"Simple, certainly.  However, I remain convinced a wave-form algorythm capable of cancelling out most of the redundant loss could eventually be found, allowing for a fully automatic fail-over without any manual input."

Alex shook his head as he moved toward the galley.  "No doubt you're right, Cobolt, but finding the correct solution will take time and testing.  We have less than 3 hours before we arrive at Orax, and while the toggles are no doubt old-fashioned and inefficient it only took me ten minutes to install them and re-route the back-ups.  So there you go."

"Indeed." The droid emitted a trilling sound that Alex recognized as his version of a sigh.  "Very well.  Still, it will leave us more vulnerable than a fully automatic system would."

"Agreed." Alex refilled his bottle, drank half of it, and topped it off again.  "That's why you're going over and over those navigation numbers, I'm sure."

"You are correct.  It is my job to protect Opal.  I will not fail her again."  The droid fell silent, immersed in the numbers as they flowed by.  While the scroll was far to fast for Alex to follow it was painfully slow for a droid with the processing power Cobolt's body had, and this was the third time he'd gone through them since Joanna had certified the initial output from the "Hope's" navi-computer.

Alex wiped his forehead again and sat, letting his body relax after his own efforts.  He'd made light of the bypass installation with Cobolt but the work had been exacting and complex and had required extreme levels of concentration as well as some force assistance to make it happen so quickly.  While a spanner and micro-welder were the most common of tools it was so helpful at times like these to be able to use the force to thread cable runs through places that would otherwise require time-consuming disassembly and reassembly.  What took Alex ten minutes would have taken a 'normal' techie six to eight hours to complete.

Time they no longer had.

"I'm going to check on our heading.  I'll be back in a few minutes with the final navigation numbers for your program."

The Shard nodded.  "Thank you, friend Alex."

"You're welcome."


  <<<<< >>>>>


"I have a bad feeling about this..."

Ja'Mason looked over at his partner and friend.  "I know what you mean.  We should be with them, not stooging around in real-space with a Kissai Dark Priest and his priestess-in-training."

Donovan studied the diamond-chipped spleandor of the Orax outer-system and sighed.  "No.  We're needed here.   But I can't shake the feeling..."

"...that something bad is going to happen."  Shalon joined them in the cockpit of the "Darkstorm", the ship that Master Shrall had piloted to M'haeli to meet them.  "I share your fears, but Master Shrall is adamant that with our intervention the worst will be avoided."

"Perhaps.  I just wish we could be more sure of what that meant.  The song is ... turbulent, almost discordant.  Its almost impossible to pick up its threads.  If Non Shrall is wrong..."  Donovan sighed.  "Well.  It will be a bad day for all of us, but especially for them."

Shalon sat in the cockpit jumpseat and laid her hand on the Knight's shoulder.  "There is much at stake.  My Order's future is at stake.  The freedom and perhaps the very existance of the Shard are in the balance.  Against this four humans who have no stake have counted their lives as less and thrown their lot in with us.  The Maker will honor your willingness to sacrifice."

Donovan's eyebrows rose.  "Maker?  Are you a believer, Shalon?"

"Perhaps.  Perhaps not, not in the way you mean.  But I have learned much of the force, and now hear your Song, and though I cannot predict it I have learned to trust it.  Or at least, the intent of the One who sings it."

Ja'Mason's eyes widened "Trust the Singer, not the song..." he said, his voice reverent.  "From the mouth of babes..."

Shalon met his eyes.  "Babe?  I didn't know you were interested, Jay."  She laughed as Ja'Mason stammered and the Knight's cheeks flared red.  "Gotcha!"

Donovan joined her in chuckling, and finally Ja'Mason smiled.  "Yes, you did.  Thank you, I needed to smile."  He took a deep breath and looked out again.  "We're on course and a black hole in space.  Our friends will be here in the next five minutes.  I've got this, Don.  You two should go join Master Shrall."


  <<<<< >>>>>


Alex glanced over at the navicomputer and noted the count-down timer before opening the ship's intercom.  "Two minutes to emergence, Opal.  Are you ready?"

"We are prepared, friend Alex." there was a pause and Opal's voice was uncharacteristically emotional.  "Thank you."

Alex glanced at his wife, who nodded to him.  "You're welcome, Opal.  Save your people."  He glanced at the counter.  "Emergence in twenty-four seconds from ... mark."

"Launching in two-seven seconds." Cobolt replied.  "See you on the other side."

"Safe journey, friends.  May the force be with you."

"And with you." Opal replied.  "Iron Knights, out."


  <<<<< >>>>>


Space erupted in the blue flash and stretched pseudomotion of emergence as the Hope emerged from hyperspace on the far edge of the Orax system.  They were well out on the fringe, beyond orbital control's sensor range, but just inside what would be considered a standard emergence zone for a merchie with either a very poor navicomputer or at the end of a series of quick hops made without making careful adjustments for drift.  Indeed, any electronic query of the ship's computer would show just that - a series of jumps made in quick succession from M'haeli along the Hydrian Way in an attempt to deliver the medical supplies they'd picked up on-time after getting a late start due to a hyperspace motivator failure two jumps out of port. 

Joanna used a light touch to align her ship with the system.  "Final update sent." she said.  Five seconds to launch."

"Godspeed, Opal." Alex said as the timer counted down.  The ship shuddered as the lander separated, the thrusters on it twitching ever so slightly as Cobolt made a minute adjustment to their heading before the small, stealthy craft went to full power shutdown and became just another small ballistic object traveling through space.

Alex and Joanna watched them go, the dark gray capsule nearly invisible in the dim light of the outer system.  They coasted for over a minute, allowing the capsule to drift far enough that their own movements wouldn't affect it before Joanna engaged their own sublight engines and headed in-system.  "So far so good..."

Alex sighed.  "Yup.  Now we just need to survive the next part."  He unbuckled and stood.  "I'm going to check the escape pod, make sure our new load of rancor bate is ready to go."

"No time.  Emergence..."  Joanna said.  "Two ships, port and starboard."  Her hands flew across the board, bringing the engines to full power as well as energizing the shields and gun turrets.

Alex dropped back into the copilot's seat, reaching for the straps as a harsh male voice came over the speakers.  "Uknown freighter, this is the Imperial Star Destroyer Alexander.  You are ordered to heave to and prepare to be boarded.  Any resistance will be met with deadly force.  Drop your shields, heave to and prepare to be boarded.  Alexander out."

"Well, I guess they recognized us after all." Joanna said.  "So much for plan A..." 

As the freighter went to full power and started cork-screwing through space Alex brought up the Blackout controls and armed the Rancor Bait pod.  "Black-out ready ... hook baited."

"You think that's going to work again?" Joanna threw the ship through a wicked evasion pattern as ion bolts lit space around them.  "They know who we are, they have to know what happened."

"Maybe, maybe not.  They might be going off of emissions recordings from Nar Shaddaa..."  Alex closed his eyes and reached out into the force...

<Jedi ... YOU ARE MINE!>

The force-thorn slammed into Alex' mind, catching him completely off guard.  He had no chance to defend, no ability to deflect...  White-hot pain exploded through his mind, overwhelming his senses and driving him to the brink of unconsciousness.  Even his voice was muted, the scream he wanted emerging as nothing more than a long, hissing sigh.

"Alex?"  Joanna glaced at her husband and saw him go limp, his eyes rolling back into his head and a trickle of blood appearing below his nostrils.  "Alex!!!"

There was no answer as the Star Destroyer's escort, a Nebulon B frigate, opened fire as well, catching the Hope in a withering cross-fire of heavy ion bolts.  Within seconds the ship died and ion-energy bleed-over coursed through the ship, thoroughly deactivating all on-board systems, overloading Blip and Gambler, and tazing Joanna into painful unconsciousness.


  <<<<< >>>>>


On the bridge of the Alexander InQuestor Gabriel opened his eyes, revealing a very cold light.  "Tractor them into the forward bay.  Commander Berns and his Strike Troopers are waiting for them there."

"Yes sir." The ship's Captain, named Yates, turned and issues the appropriate orders as Gabriel continued to study the tumbling ship.  "We meet again ... Jedi."


  <<<<< >>>>>


Ja'Mason felt the stir in the force and listened to the wavering in the song with gritted teeth.  From their position all he could see were a few flashes of light, nearly hidden against the background starfield.  He felt the growing song behind him as well, as Donovan joined in the ritual Master Shrall and Shalon were weaving.  He'd felt the shock and pain emitted by Alex as the force thorn went home, and the falling of the song into the hammering rhythm of the Dark had forced bile to rise in his gut, but through it all he sat still, humming softly, lending what small support he could without breaking stealth.

"Hang on, my friend.  Hang on..."
Logged

signature picture by DarthScrub

Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

Lord_S_Gray
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 164
Posts: 1104



« Reply #80 on: September 03, 2019, 04:10:03 AM »

Ha I liked that - Alex shows off his technical skills...then gets totally rammed by a metaphysical attack which given his sentinel stealth focus probably isn't his strong suit. All coming to a head though, and this time those inquisitors won't be so unprepared I suspect.
Logged

Lord_S_Gray

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

TheDutchman
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 779
Posts: 3136


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #81 on: September 04, 2019, 10:20:54 AM »

Oh boy...Alex must be hurting after that Force Thorn...

With the surprise attack of the Inquestors I'm reminded of the "Spanish Inquisition" Monty Python skit:

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!"

I have to say: I like the fact that Alex is a gearhead; reminds me of one of my cousins: that guy could strip a car and reassemble it after tricking it out.  THAT kind of skill  Smiley

And I'm STILL not certain about the Shards (much less Shalon and Shrall...)

Oh: and Gabriel seems to be living up to his expectations as our antagonist!
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
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
Knight Commander
************

Force Alignment: 912
Posts: 4401


Light side points please.


« Reply #82 on: September 04, 2019, 12:13:25 PM »

Thanks guys.   I hope the finale lives up.   :-)

And yes, Alex is a gear-head.  :-)
Logged

signature picture by DarthScrub

Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

Karmack
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
Knight Commander
************

Force Alignment: 912
Posts: 4401


Light side points please.


« Reply #83 on: September 04, 2019, 02:29:52 PM »

Chapter 15: Shell Game
Orax System
Orbital Space
5 ABY

The first thing Alex became aware of was pain.  The burning, throbbing pain in his body was consistent with heavy ion shock, but it was ultimately secondary to the blinding, migraine-like pain in his head.  He groaned, trying to open his eyes, only to be forced back into darkness by the unbearable spike of liquid fire that seemed to pour into this head through his eyeballs.

"Ah, Alex.  Good of you to finally join us."  The voice was deep, riched and relaxed.  Conversational.  Alex felt a cool flow enter his mind, soothing the fire and pain residual from the force thorn.  Not enough to eliminate the pain, just enough to make it possible for Alex to keep his eyes open and focus on his surroundings.  "There.  We wouldn't want you to miss out on the main event..."

Alex blinked his eyes, bringing the world into focus, and he immediatelyt tried to rise.  "You bastar...auggg..."  Electricity coursed through his body, reducing him to uncontrollable twitching as the shock collar and binders flooded his system with low-yield current.  Despite this he managed to keep his eyes locked on his wife.  She was also dancing to the flow of electrical current, her own collar and binders apparently triggered by Alex' movements as well as his own.  Where Alex was locked in a fetal position, however, his wife was stretched out, hanging from her wrists from some sort of rigging.  An interrogation droid hovered next to her head, its various implements at the ready.  The marks of previous usage as well as the application of less technical tools were clearly visible on her stretched body ... as was blood.

A lot of blood.

"Joanna..." Alex gasped.  Hands gripped him as the stunner shocks subsided and brought him to a kneeling position.  A hand gripped his chin and drew his head to the side, and Alex recognized the InQuestor from Nar Shaddaa, the one who'd gotten away.  "You'll pay for this..."

Gabriel met his eyes and laughed.  "Pay?  Stupid Jedi.  I've already paid for your blood, and hers.  You've cost me the Singers, their crystals, and two very promising subordinates.  And if I am wrong about why you're here, now, InQuestor Jeric will probably have my head."  Gabriel released Alex' jaw, moving his hand to rest on the young Jedi's temple.  "Oh yes, my young friend, some of it may be on credit, but I've paid in full.   But you..."

Gabriel, squatting on his heels, seemed to search Alex' eyes again before turning to look at Joanna's battered form.  "She really is beautiful.  I can understand why you fell for her."  Alex struggled to stay still and avoid another shock for both of them as the InQuestor casually rose and circled her.  "I considered taking her for myself, but her will is very strong.  I'm afraid the only way to do that safely would be to reduce her to a gibbering idiot, and what's the fun in that?  So instead..."  He walked back over to Alex again.  "You have two options, Jedi.  Option one: Confirm why you came here, and tell me where I can find the Shard known as "Opal" as well as what it's plans are on this planet willingly.  If you do this, I will keep the torture to a minimum and once I am done I will give you and your wife a clean death."

"Or?" Alex grated, his eyes again fixed on Joanna.

"Or, my stupid friend, I will rip the information I want from your mind piece by piece, leaving you just enough awareness to feel the pain of failure as I then torture your wife for confirmation of each bit I take.  Then, when I am done, I will allow you to live long enough to watch my most loyal troopers begin her conditioning for sale as a pleasure slave.  I'm sure the personnel on the planet below will appreciate the chance to acquire such a ... lovely distraction."

Alex felt the rage bubbling in himself and he didn't even try to suppress it.  "Bastard..."

"Oh, good, good!  I feel your anger and hatred!"  Gabriel was suddenly nose-to-nose with Alex.  "Let it well up, Jedi!  Let the hate flow!  Give yourself to the dark, and I will spare both of you.  Become my apprentice, take the place of the ones you killed, and you will have life instead of useless, ignoble death and defeat!"

Alex blinked and suddenly it was there, in his mind's eye: a luxury apartment in a modern, high-tech city.  Good food.  The respect of his colleagues.  A rising position of power and authority.  Joanna at his side as they...

As you what, Alex?  capture and torture people to death?  Like him?

He looked at Joanna again, and her eyes met his.  Almost imperceptably her head shook side-to-side.  No...

Alex looked at the bloody face of his wife "I can't let that happen..."

"No, you cannot." Gabriel said.  He seemed almost gleeful as he felt Alex gather and harness the rage within him.  "Yes....   Let it flow...."

Alex began a healing flow, suppressing the pain in his body.  He hid it below the rising bubble of rage.  THAT he rode, letting it build, harnessing its power...  "You win, InQuestor.  The Shard..."

Gabriel was leaning in, flush with his victory, when Alex suddenly let the bubble burst.  He directed the force energy into a focused impact, slamming it into the InQuestor's chest as hard as he could.  The strike caught Gabriel completely by surprise.  His training and experience told him that no Jedi, no matter how compromised, would ever harness the power of pure rage in the force.  The dark energy was to contaminating, to powerful.  Only by giving themselves to the dark could they harness that energy.  The shock of the unexpected attack was so powerful that he didn't even try to cushion his impact on the bay wall, several hundred meters away, striking hard enough to break several bones and cause a severe concussion.

Alex followed up the first strike with a far more general, circular push.  He threw every ounce of energy he had left into it, and had the satisfaction of seeing the Shock Troopers tossed away from them like chaff.  With a final burst of hysterical strength he ripped the shock collars and bonds he and his wife wore apart, hurling the shards away with a defiant scream.  Free, he tried to rise...

...and fell on his face, spent and unable to move.  "No ... Joanna..."

A hand, gentle but strong, touched his cheek.  "I'm here.  Can you move at all?"

With her help he rolled onto his back, and her face was there, inches away.  Her left eye was swollen and dark, an ugly cut above her eyebrow, and the damage to her body was evident through her battered clothing, but she was moving.  She was alive.

She was free.

"Yes..."  Alex calmed his mind, drawing on the force with dangerous abandon but he was able to push enough energy into his limbs to stand with Joanna's assistance. 

As they stood unsteadily, he took a moment to look around, expecting a detention block of some kind.  Instead, he found he was standing in one of the secondary bays, probably the forward launch bay, not far from the Hope.  A table nearby held a wide assortment of implements, some sinister and slicked with blood, but others...

Energy surged again and he reached out, drawing his saber to himself.  It flew unerringly to his hand, and he felt better for holding it.  With an effort he sent out a distress pulse in the force, then did his best to cloak himself and his wife in a force "hole".   With Alex leaning heavily on Joanna, the couple moved slowly and painfully toward the boarding ramp while the troops in the bay slowly recovered from his unexpected and confusing attack on them.


  <<<<< >>>>>


Ja'Mason felt the pulse in the force at the same time he became aware of a new, soaring and hopeful melody emerging in the Song.  "They're alive! Dom, now's the time!"

Immersed in the ritual being spun by Master Shrall and supported by himself and Shalon, Donavan didn't answer.  Instead he just impressed the urgency of the situation on Master Shrall.

The response was nothing short of stunning.


  <<<<< >>>>>


Gabriel suppressed the pain from broken ribs, cradling his left arm against his side as he rose on shaky legs.  Damn it!  He'd gotten cocky and over-confident, and that cursed Jedi had taken him by surprised!  White-hot rage rose in him as he stalked back across the bay.  He'd been greedy, hoping to turn him, use his fear and rage to control him and force him down a dark path.  No longer.  NOw ... now he was going to rip the informaion from him, piece by piece, as painfully as possible, then torture his bitch to death in front of him before tossing both of them into space to die...

"No..."

The word left his mouth before he fully comprehended what he was seeing.  Dead and wounded Shock Troopers scattered around the bay ... blood streaks on the deck, mixed with shattered pieces of metal and plastic ... the interrogation droid crumpled like a tin can ... the shock harness where the wife had been restrained empty ...

With a roar Gabriel reached out with the force, drawing the Trooper commander to himself.  He caught the hapless soldier by the neck.  "WHERE ARE THEY?!?!"

"Grrrkk..."

Gabriel crushed the man's neck, reaching out with his senses.  THe room reverberated with force energy from the massive pulses the Jedi had released, powered by his own rage at the abuse Gabriel had heaped on his wife...

The realization of his mistake rocked the InQuestor.  "That's how he resisted...  Damn it!  Master Jeric will NOT be forgiving!"  Real fear colored his emotions for the first time, but Gabriel had no time to process it.  Before he could re-center his thoughts his communicator beeped.  "Gabriel!  What?!?"

"Sir, we have an inbound Rebel fleet, two Mon-Cal heavy cruisers escorted by several flights of fighters.  We need to launch fighers but the forward bay is currently on lock-down..."

Gabriel squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, then exhaled explosively.  "Release the lockdown and get the pilots to their planes.  I will be on the bridge momentarily.  Gabriel Out."  He spun and located the nearest trooper still functional.  "Sergent!  Gather the survivors and search the bay!   They cannot have gotten far.  I want those two found!  When you have them, strip them and lock them in shock-frames in main detention, incentive protocol four."

"Sir!"  The trooper began gathering troops, organizing survivors to search the bay as the overhead fighter racks came alive and the bay doors in the floor opened to space, leaving only the atmospheric field in place.  Like Gabriel, he was confident they would be found - there was literally no where to go.

Unlike his boss, he was not so sure what would happen when they were found.  He gripped his own weapon tighter, trying to ignore the pain of his own injuries even as he began a systematic search.  He was looking the opposite direction, oblivious, as a shadow moved slowly and painfully up the Hope's boarding ramp.


  <<<<< >>>>>



As they reached the top of the ramp Joanna felt Alex sag, the last of his strength gone.  She laid him on the deck and slapped the emergency override, bringing the ramp up and sealing the ship.  Gambler and Blip were both still down, standing lifeless in the bay where the Troopers had left them when they'd come aboard.  Joanna grabbed a repair kit Alex called his "droid first aid" kit and slapped a module he'd called "emergency boot-strap restart" into Gambler's data port.  The droid let out a squeal, dome spinning and arms suddenly springing out everywhere before suddenly coming to life.  "Boo-eeeeep doop doop grrrppp."

"Can it, you were out and I need you online now.  You can complain later.  Get Blip online and get the ship fired up, now!"

"boo-eeeep frppppt bip beep bip"

"Yes, I mean it!  We're going to need him, whatever you thing!  Alex can't help us."  Joanna pulled down a medical kit and slapped a pair of general-use metabolic stabalizers on Alex' neck and chest, hoping the combination of drugs and bacta would keep him alive and start repairing whatever damage he'd done to himself to get them out of bondage.  "Hang in there, my love..."

Blip came online with more frenzied electronic screaming, and Joanna rose and hobbled toward the cockpit.  Her body hurt from the abuse it had taken, and she knew she'd have nightmare aplenty from it soon enough, but for now she was in full fight or flight mode.  By the time she got into the pilot's seat the ship was powering up.  "Good job guys!  Someone throw a net over Alex, this is going to be rough!"

In the bay fighters were launching, exiting the ship's forward bay through the atmospheric barrier.  Alex slammed the main throttle forward, scraping her ship along the deck, bouncing it off obstacles and nearly rupturing the hull as she dove for freedom.  The ship shuddered and shook but held together, and as she dove out of the bay her fingers found a particular toggle switch.  "Time to kill another rancor..."


  <<<<< >>>>>


Gabriel emerged onto the bridge just as the presence of the Jedi he'd captured returned to his notice.  The man was barely alive and clearly had expended himself in a failed attempt to keep himself and his wife hidden.  "Still in the bay..."

"Sir!  We have a disturbance in the forward launch bay!"

Gabriel opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by another report.  "Sir!  Enemy fleet is closing!  We have them on sensors but weapons refuse to lock.  Fighters are launching and forming into attack formations."

Gabriel held up a hand, silencing the first man as he considered the tactical situation.  "Order the fighters to close and attack.  Move the Savage forward where its anti-fighter batteries can screen us and close for heavy bombardment.  Have the second wave of fighters..."

A massive explosion shook the ship and Gabriel lurched painfully, nearly falling as the ship seemed to heave then twist slightly before righting itself.  "Damage report!"

"Forward bay ...  Sir, the forward bay is gone!  Some kind of massive explosion.  Seven fighters destroyed, the rest were already out.  They're forming now, sir."

"Good."  Gabriel pushed the pain down and mentally searched the bay.  No sign could be found of the Jedi or his bitch wife.  Good riddance...  "Send them in, Lieutenant, as ordered."

"Aye!"

Gabriel turned back to the sensor technician.  "You were saying?"

"Sir, there was a disturbance in the bay.  Damage to fuel lines and power conduits registered before the bay went dark."

"Any internal imagery?"

The tech nodded and called up a multi-view panel.  "Sir, from immediately before the first alarm."

Gabriel leaned over the tech's shoulder and watched as the figures in the bay started moving.   The first group of fighters launched ... and then the freighter, the "Hope Two", suddenly lurched, slamming forward into a fuel conduit before lurching to the side and hammering an exposed power bus conduit.  Within seconds fire erupted and the bay cameras went white with the flash-fire explosion as the bay was immolated.  "Bastard..."

"Sir?"  The tech, a very young rating, couldn't keep his voice from cracking as he asked the question.  Gabriel patted him on the shoulder. 

"Not you, tech Smythe.  That bastard dark-damned Jedi.  I under-estimated him again.  He may have embraced the darkness, but he still hated me and used the last of his life-force to try to kill us all.  At least he failed in that ... and whatever his designs were on Orax are undone as well."  Gabriel stood painfully and strode toward the center of the bridge.  "Now, lets kill these rebels and be done with it!  Commander, status!"


  <<<<< >>>>>



Ja'Mason watched in awe as the "rebel fleet" charged forward in full attack formation.  He checked the ship's visual sensors, and the ships were there as well, not just appearing in his mind but also on the long-range optics.  Only the main sensors were blank, but in the heat of the moment anyone with visual contact on an enemy would assume that his sensors were either jammed or malfunctioning.  It looked so real...

TIE fighters appeared, launching from the Star Destroyer.  As they formed, a second wave started to launch but the formation was suddenly engulfed by a massive explosion bursting out of the bay.  The Star Destroyer leaped upward in reaction but quickly recovered, the tough battle-wagon designed to absorb such punishment and survive.  Dead fighters and debris spun away, tumbling wildly into the void.  Ja'Mason tracked it for a moment but his eyes returned to the main event as the Nebulon-B moved up and opened fire as the remaining TIE fighters rolled in on the projected Rebel fleet.

Space erupted with laser fire and explosions, and Ja'Mason felt his awe deepen at the power of the Kissai Priest's force projection.  Fighters moved independently, diving and rolling, even attacking!  Two TIE fighters, chasing their own individual ghosts, destroyed each other in a collision.  Others were wiped away by friendly fire that appeared to pass through the Rebel cruiser itself, leaving firey wounds in their wake....

Suddenly one of the Mon-Cal cruisers seemed to shudder and then exploded, scattering the fighters and showering its companion with flaming wreckage.  Badly damaged, the second cruiser turned and jumped away, accompanied by its surviving fighter screen.

Wreckage drifted in space, dissipating into the void as the Imperial ships launched search-and-rescue ships to attempt to recover their own people.  "Wow..."

"Some show, eh?"  Donovan's voice was scratchy, his eyes bleary but his shoulders were square.  "Master Shrall can maintain what is necessary by himself now.  That was ... intense."

"Are you OK?" Ja'Mason asked.  His concern was real, Donovan looked like he'd been run over by a truck after being awake for a week.  The Mak'Tor Knight slumped into a chair.  "Do you need anything?"

Donovan smiled weakly.  "Just sleep."  He looked out, at the Star Destroyer.  "I'm pretty sure Alex caused that explosion.  I hope they got away."

"Me, too." Ja'Mason shook his head.  "Won't know until we get to the rendevous, I guess."

"Nope.  Wake me up when we get there." Donovan replied.  He was asleep before Ja'Mason could respond.

 
  <<<<< >>>>>


Six hours later, after the last Imperial shuttle withdrew from the debris field, Master Shrall finally dropped the last vestiges of the illusion.  By then, Ja'Mason had the Darkstorm well out-system.  They jumped away shorly thereafter, heading to what they hoped would be a happy reunion and feared would be a long, lonely wait for an emergence that would never come....
Logged

signature picture by DarthScrub

Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

Lord_S_Gray
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 164
Posts: 1104



« Reply #84 on: September 05, 2019, 12:22:07 AM »

And now it comes to a head...sort of....Gabriel should be more cautious abut disabling the hyperdrive on captured ships...didn't he learn from the Empire Strikes Back! But what an illusion to conjure, that is powerful stuff...what did that cost Shrall though to achieve? and Alex, taking the first path to a more gray use of the force? or was it a one off blast of fury? It's been a hard journey to get this far, and its not getting easier for anyone, and still there is a lack of resolution as Ja'Mason hinted, many thread in the wind....
Logged

Lord_S_Gray

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

Karmack
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
Knight Commander
************

Force Alignment: 912
Posts: 4401


Light side points please.


« Reply #85 on: September 05, 2019, 07:19:44 AM »

LOL   I guess Gabriel never watched that movie...   Besides ... you're making an assumption.  ;-)

I scanned back through my notes, and be warned:  There will be dangling threads.  Hopefully we'll get the main questions resolved, but don't be surprised if everything isn't tied up in a neat bow.

As for the illusion ... it was massive.  Master Shrall is extremely powerful in the art of illusion and concealment.  It may be that is how he survived the destruction of his own world.  Though we will have to wait for him to verify that, he's kinda tight-lipped about how that all went down and doesn't like to answer questions about his past.   

When I grabbed these guys the image I had in my mind were of the Techno-Mages of B5.  I don't know if that really worked, but there it is.  :-)

Almost home!  Thanks for sticking with it guys, this one has gone slowly...
Logged

signature picture by DarthScrub

Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

TheDutchman
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 779
Posts: 3136


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #86 on: September 05, 2019, 09:43:09 AM »

I have to say that having Gabriel LOSE due to him underestimating Alex and his capacity for Gray- and even Dark-Side tendencies was wonderfully ironic, ESPECIALLY given how at least one of his motives was to TURN Alex.  There's a Greek Comedy lesson in there I'm certain  Wink

Wow, Master Shrall is definitely an unknown variable.  I hope that we get to see more of him (and his own motives)...regardless if he does or doesn't like any "questions"  Wink

As far as "dangling threads" well...I think that they SHOULD be there.  After all, giving some foreshadowing to upcoming stories is just so much FUN  Grin

And Karm: it's been NO effort to "stick with it."  These stories speak for themselves.  There's a reason that we're here, and that's in NO small part thanks to you  Smiley

...But I hope that you keep them coming  Grin
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

Pages: 1 ... 4 5 [6]   Go Up
Send this topic | Print
Jump to: