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Author Topic: Remnant of the Aether  (Read 7482 times)
Lord_S_Gray
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 255
Posts: 1447



« Reply #180 on: April 06, 2021, 04:19:48 PM »

Chapter 29 — The Hunted and the Hollow — Part 7
It began with the scouts and outliers in the thicker foliage being muffled and dragged backward, head twisted 720 degrees in an unnecessary but satisfying spin that left them lolling, connected to the body only by the scales.

This allowed Yorna to get position precisely to line up her three remaining arrows with the power cells on the fixed guns. Three shots - three hits, disabled the three main heavy weapons, two of them causing electrical overloads that singed the Trandoshans attending them.

The camp went spastic with alert as they simultaneosuly lost contact with their scouts.

The Aethans struck from three sides, their hades pistols and rifle unleashing a constant stream of maser fire that quickly overloaded the blaster shields designed to resist conventional Republic blaster energy rather than the more impactful Chiss energy weapons.

The response was swift with seeker missiles and repeaters firing back until the bounce of the last two implosion grenades forced them to dive out of the implosion radius which reversed out in a mess of dirt and metal leaving two craters.

Relentless fire from both sides left ten Trandoshan’s dead or mortally wounded and blew off much of Sofa’s remaining armour forcing her to keep to the back as they engaged the whirring vibro-blades and tremor swords when in melee range.

Yorna and Kiraea each wielding two short swords moved like a wind of death through the first four to engage them, Sofa saber lit bouncing back blaster bolts relying only on her natural reflexes and grudgingly drawing on the aether within her to hurl back grenades and stun nets.

Limbs flew from the trandoshan’s with every pass until all four were lums n the ground, two more engaged while another uncaring of his hatchmates fates turned the last flame thrower on the whole group, Yorna twisting out Kiraea covering her back to hurl her dagger straight into the pyro happy creatures chest.

By now only nine Trandoshan’s remained.

“The weak eggs crack first,” Ins’skas dismissively hissed at the death of his spawn.  First, Third and Fourth Eldest still lived, along with Ninth and Tenth, Twenty-Third, twenty-Fifth and an injured but still standing Thirty -Eighth - Ins’skas had to credit the youngest survivor, his Egg-layer had been a large bodied female and produced a thick muscled spawn.

Kiraea locked eyes on the Blood-giver and hated him even more for the casual indifference he showed to his progeny. 

At this range both predator species could smell each others enough to identify the familial relations of each side.

First Eldest snarled and charged in first, for no reason of filial piety or fraternal protection, simply to take the Jagganth of the weakest of the prey - in this case Sofa with comparatively weakened armour.

Ninth and Fourth were not far behind, Third skirting the edges, the ‘younger’ ones hoping their elders sibling took the brunt.

Kiraea flipped over the first two, letting Yorna grapple with Fourth and Ninth, rolled between Tenth and Twenty Third, swords clutched to her breast pointed outward acting like blades on chariot wheels of old to cut through their thighs, then spun up both swords through the chest of twenty fifth.

The dead reptile vomited blood as she slipped off and around aiming for Ins’skas but intercepted by Thrity-Eighth, the bulky youth slashing with his ViborAxe that glinted the sun as it descended with more strength than finesse, allowing her to side step and take the arm at the elbow, before spinning into a crouch blades whistling to cut him in half at the hips, a trail of aetheric blue left in her swords wake...it was unfortunately the last of the charge in her weapons.

Ins’skas grunted respectfully, once more it was him alone against Davjäan Guage.  He had called then ‘Burning Alien’ after the first hunt because as they died they invariably lit in a blue fire the likes of which her swords had just used to cauterize his spawn.

He swung his Bat’Leth from his back as she glared at the desecrated bones of her People.

“Time to die scale face,”

Their blades met with a sharp chime as Yorna locked hers with Fourth - one of the few spawn to have killed a wookie berserker he knew how to deal with physically strong opponents, even if in Yorna’s case she was much shorter. 

His brutish but efficient style, complemented by the Wookie Berserker sword he used, his best weapon and most prized evidence of Jagganth, wouldn’t have kept her so long had Ninth Eldest not been a constant thorn to the side, armed with an electro-spear he jabbed in at every opportunity she got to get to Fourth.

She would eventually wear them down, as with every clash Fourth’s joints ached a little more, and her greater than humanoid dexterity began to confound his guard, but she needed to help her sister.  Kiraea was better but not recovered, and the Trandoshan leader was proving remarkably adept.

Ins’skas had fought  Davjäan Guage before, had gone out his way to purchase two to hunt, her speed, strength and nubile body were no surprise to him, only her skill and equipment exceeded the rattled slaves he had killed before, making the match surprisingly even.

The bat'leth wove close and tight, its defensive potential in full display in a master's hands, he loosed his right claw grip to extend and hurl a magnetite-shuriken, the self accelerating bade boring like a drill into Kiraea’s breast plate, allowing him fur solid strikes before she gained space to batter it away.

The woman who would never forget the nameless child she had lost glared at the cold reptilian eyes of a hunter who didn’t care to know the names of the hundreds of offspring he had watched die. 

Even more disgusted if she was possible Kiraea launched at the hunter again.

A shockwave front he nearby clash buffeted Sofa who wove around First Eldest, and knocked back bolts from Third, their tag team surprisingly effective, her greatest limitation was her compromised armour keeping her Niman style ina defensive posture - of this at least she was unmatched as an adept of Soryu’s protective variant, but it meant she lacked opportunities.  The thrum of her blade snapped and cracked on the tremor swords, before rounding to bounce back another dang yellow bolt.

Fourth saw his chance - but so did Ninth - as Yorna used what little she understood of the Trandoshan’s culture, dropping back and switching feet to leave herself exposed to both at once.

It worked, both Trandoshan’s intent on claiming the Jagganth lunged at her forsaking their earlier cooperation and falling into her trap. 

Lithe and flexible Yorna bent in ways that would snap a humans spine to move between the spear and Fourths Berserker sword, taking the former under her arm and tugging to put Ninth between her and Fourth.  Along and stumbling Ninth was easy prey, Yorna sliced his throat open then rolled over his back her full attention on Fourth had him beat a determined but futile retreat that ended with his blade on the ground next to his hands.

Straight to her sister Ins’skas hissed at the intervention just as he was making headway.

Kiraea could feel the true exhaustion of the weeks since her loss finally upon her, the fatigue she had refused to feel in the Hollow wouldn’t be denied much longer.  But nor could the Trandoshan filth be left alive.

Large and strong of body the Blood Giver had the experience and ferocity to hold off the two Aethan women, his long curved Bat’leth- an ancestral weapon of is bloodline forged in aeons past survived the Blackstone blades, but never without a serious chip being cleaved off.

Had they access to the Aether Ins’skas would’ve been telekinetically garrotted and internally combusted before he could raise his blade, it was as if by some nefarious arrangement between the Goddesses of Aethas and the Scorekeeper of Trandosha he was permitted a fight in one of the few places he stood a genuine chance.

The theological implications might’ve interested Sofa more had she not been occupied with the almost as large First Eldest who engaged directly, and the more conniving third Eldest who fired from wrist mounted launchers at every opportunity straining her attention.

“Frell to this!” she finally decided, her last ounce of aetheric energy was just enough for one telekinetic play.  She chose her timing carefully as First felt the Jagganth on his tongue.

Back flipping Sofa threw her saber like a spear while in the air.  she landed to First’s confused delight as his prey was unarmed, arms spread open for the kill.  It turned to shock as Sofa’s guided her saber out of Third’s neck and into First’s back.  She grimaced less from the loss of energy to pull the move off than the face it meant his scales would have a nasty burn. She would have to cut around to make her handbag...a purse instead perhaps?

Alone, it was fitting Ins’skas grinned, as Sofa joined the fight.

A certain amusement took him as the three pressed him hard, their only limit seeming to be they avoided the parts of his armour covered in Davjäan Guage bone and skull, not wishing to damage it further. 

There was a joke here by the Scorekeeper, he had slain three of their kind, Three of their kind would slay him.

Not without ferocious resistance.

The Trandoshan’s weakness had been their individual drive for Jagganth, they untied to wear down difficult prey, but they never risked another taking the kill. 

Ins’skas knew this fundamental weakness of their strategy.  He did not care, his Jagganth was all he cared for, and even as they destroyed his Bat’leth, sliced off his fingers, snout and leg, he knew his Jagganth was imperishably marked in the Scorekeepers tally beside his name.

The three sisters looked down at the wheezing creature, their unity was their victory, their revenge just beginning.

<<<<>>>>

Vacha
The last life-transponder died.

It was done…

The majority of his hatch-kin, Blood-Giver, and the best hunters of the Mag-Claw and Sssar Jaw Brotherhood all killed for the glory of the Scorekeeper, a portion of their Jagganth flowing to him. 

And the Davjäan Guage remained alive to hunt another day.  Oh how he would profit now, the Island was his by right, the trophies of the Blood-Giver...and the ship  Lllsssak’s!

“Actually I’m taking the ship,” a voice from behind said offhandedly.

“Not bad, could do with a bit of paint, need to get that cloaca smell outta here…” Taryn said, strolling down the bridge to the Trandoshan hastily pulling his pistol.  It flew from the holster into the far wall, a serrated dagger simply bent in on itself.

“Now how’s that a proper greeting for your new captain…” Taryn jumped into the command throne, Varcha feeling his limbs pinned against him as he lifted off the ground.

“...now why don’t you tell me all about this pretty little thing?”

<<<<>>>>

Mitigated Recovery
“It’s a lot like Vosis scaling,” Yorna explained to Sofa’s slightly disgusted look.

“Though they are much larger, these Trandoshan’s are fiddly…” she used wire salvaged from a heavy weapon to scrape with.
“At least he’s not wriggling any more...”

That had been especially unpleasant to watch, though in all honesty Sofa had rarely considered such reptilian species as much more than simple minded pests before joining the Aethan sisterhood.

The process of obtaining her new boots and handbags - for there was enough for multiple sets - was far less edifying than just shopping for them Sofa decided.

Since killing the ‘Bloodgiver’ the few remaining scouts had scattered into the jungle, there was a half hearted attempt to attack them repelled by Sofa’s rifle fire taking off two heads.

The thump of heavy feet on weak soil finally announced the arrival of their ride.

Jarys immediately went to Kiraea taking a half nap in the corner, her armour still bloody from the Blood Givers' very extended death.

Her eyes flickering open he knelt before her with a slight creak, still not fully recovered from his own vengeful excesses.

“Are you injured?” he asked a medi-kit already in hand.

“No,” she whispered, “Just tired,”

Jarys head dropped lower a sense of shame he had not been there to help her twice in as many months.

“Will you recover,” he asked

“One day,” she said leaning into him as Yorna looked on with a smile and began packing their haul of scales.

“What daemonic realm is this...life itself seems to stop here...and where…”

“Enough,” Valens replied to Maekal’s complaints as they reached the camp

“Scout the perimeter...and hunt down the stragglers, I want their heads in ten minutes” he ordered, having found giving the boy concrete tasks kept him from his ill-informed ramblings - mostly.

“Took your time,” Sofa teased Valens as he idly looked over the ruination of the Trandoshan’s

“I came as soon as my ring started losing connection,” he held up his armoured hand, beneath it the wedding band he had crafted linked to Sofa’s own.

“Well you missed out, but I’m done with this moon,”

Valens nodded, Jarys was already guiding Kiraea toward the ship in an areas they had blasted clear for landing nearby, Maeson and Adaea busy collecting or incinerating the ruins of Sofa’s transport to the moon to ensure as little as possible was left.

“How is she?” Valens asked

“About half her usual bitchiness…” Sofa sighed as Kiraea and Jarys vanished into the trees.

“And you?”

“Dirty, uncomfortable, and stinking like Trandoshan dren,”

“And still the most beautiful thing on this Moon,” Valens smiled,

Sofa sneered and jabbed him in the arm,

“Let’s get off this dump, I have an entire new wardrobe to put together”

<<<<>>>>

Xanaea’s slender hands lowered the carefully wrapped bundle into the alcove.

She placed the totem found so far away on the top then drew the small curtain closed.

Kiraea crouched beside her and kissed her head.  Xani exuded a sense of calm, she had long sensed her parents were dead, but now, having found her father the lingering hope that maybe just maybe was put to rest with his bones.

Yorna had interred the other two victims of the Trandoshans, showing Sofa the proper Rites and process.  They had taken small samples for genetic testing but so far they remained unidentified, the course microorganisms of Wasskah had drained them of an aetheric trace to use psychometry or flow walking on...a final bitter insult to the People.

But in time they would work out who and add their family colours to the currently plain dyed curtains across their resting places.

“Aunt Kiri, are you still sad about the baby?” Xani asked bluntly
“Yes love,”
“Can you bury it like papa?”

Kiraea had to shake her head
“Not in the same way...what is left is...inside me...we’ll rest together one day,”

“All finished?” Sofa asked coming up behind with Yorna,

“I think so,” Xani said

Sofa knelt down to the youngest of them
“You know I promised to take Yorna shopping, would you like to come too?” she asked Xani but was truly speaking to Kiraea
“We can have a big girls weekend out, watch holo-movies, get our nails done...and Lya and Kiri can teach you how to play tricks on outsiders in shopping malls,”

“Can I!” she asked Selaena who was never far from her adoptive daughter, the quiet older woman just nodded,

“Well why don’t you go pack, we’ll finish up here,”

Sofa didn’t fail to note how Kiraea’s gaze lingered on Xani as she left, a mix of hope, envy and loss.

“You’ve still got four good ovaries, plenty of chances, especially with that hunk of a husband of yours” Sofa said breaking the silence.

“Not until….later…” Kiraea replied quietly

“Not too much later,” Sofa insisted again pushing Kiraea when she needed it most as a sister should
My daughters will need some friends to play with after all,” she added with typical selfishness

“You’ll have Val in a panic if he heard you say that!” Yorna laughed the mood brightening as they made their way out of the catacombs into the light.

<<<<>>>>
Logged

Lord_S_Gray

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

TheDutchman
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 974
Posts: 3676


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #181 on: Yesterday at 10:39:18 AM »

Again, this story is definitely my favorite: the character development alone is worth the read!  On that note...

Speaking for myself: the loss of family is keenly felt, regardless of Kiri's usual bluster (poor Jarys: not only is he mourning his child's death BUT then he also has to carry his wife's loss and despondency).  I know that Aethan physiology is genetically manufactured to deal with/heal/ignore emotional adversity as well as physical and we see this underscored once again here (another time being Sofa's response to her own trauma: it will flare hot and then douse out...the Technocracy certainly did a bang up job to supplement the survival mechanism of their bioengineered progeny).  

I think that this grouping of Kiri, Sofa, and Yorna was perfect: both of Kiri's sisters (one by blood, one by circumstance) provide the proverbial Yin and Yang of support.  Interestingly enough, it's Sofa that has the right of it (even after her acceptance as a Person, Kiraea has always been somewhat antagonistic towards her...of course, for those of us that have siblings: who hasn't fought with them  Wink).  And poor Yorna: she really did miss out on Kiri's formative years (NOT her fault), as well as much of her own--I'm thinking that she'll be getting a crash-course in the more violent idiosyncrasies that the galaxy has to offer (case-in-point: the Transdoshans).

Not knowing much of Transdoshan culture, this was a fantastic character study in them: they seem like the obverse side of the coin from Wookies--both with a code of honor (I'm reminded of the Aiel and ji'e'toh from Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time"), with almost diametrically opposing views on how to obtain such.  Once again, LSG, your encyclopedic knowledge is in full force here^^

Three things of especial note: in quoting the Dosh maxim, Ins’skas forgot (and pays for!) a more important, universal truth (one that my wife has reminded me of ad nauseum): "NEVER get between a woman and her handbag"  Smiley

AND

AWESOME picture for the story arc introduction!!!  Between LSG, FT, and PS, we've got some EXCEPTIONAL visual artists here  Cool

AND

Just what is this "Hansho?!?"  Sounds...important... Wink
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, Apprentice v4 w/Obsidian, AS; Graflex SE w/Obsidian, GB; Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, CG; Dark Sentinel v4 w/Obsidian, BR; Sentinel LE v4 w/Obsidian, GB; Initiate v5 w/Obsidian, AS; Sentinel LE v4 stunt, EG; Aeon LE v4 stunt, FO; Dominix v4 stunt, BR; Aeon v3 stunt, SY

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