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<“Speeders on the radar-”> tech support chimed in.
<”Team Aurek do you have the package secure?”> Sybila radioed, servo pressed in to the side of her helmet holding the line as the hydraulics hissed: barely functioning. Something swarmed on her peripheral, the intangible pull of the Force was electrifying and her words dwindled off. Sybila turned to follow the pull, voices drowned by the rev of the engines.The city lights and flames dwindled on the horizon-her sights narrowed as she stared down the stretch of empty pipes.
<“Asset secured, they didn’t follow us. Confirming rendezvous ma’am.”>
The echo of the transport’s thrusters and the wind were their only company down here as they breezed out of the city center through the industrial drain. Sybila’s gauntlet tightened on the stock of her rifle, smoke lingered from the scorch marks that marred the greater half of the transport and men’s bodies. She didn't hesitate to rip off the shoddy pauldron clinging to her shoulder tossing it off the skiff’s side with a flick.
The chunk of tenebrae hit the pipes far below, the wiring sparking still. A thick noxious smoke wafted from the exposed body suit, half melted. Sybila cursed under her breath as she shrugged off the shot vambrace exposing her arm down to the servo. Wires and rusting pipes, reinforced scaffolding loomed all around and permeated with gas and waste outlets all around them. A searchlight passed over, their forms lost to the torrent of rain as the whole sector rumbled; the wails of alarms growing.
A red line highlighted the dark veins tracing up her arm as she slowly curled her servo into a fist. A black gaping hole exposed wire through the metal of the palm and the woman grimaced; she was in decay. He had done that to her, he would never offer up his knowledge freely. Not after she had cast half of him across the ramparts of over Bastion, refused to study obeying at his feet. The Holocron had ended up here somehow however. Someone had it long before she had caught wind of it, or it wouldn’t have been in that collector’s hands. If it was the Imperial Fleet or Maledictus, there was someone else. Just another serpent lurking out of sight, she didn’t like competition.
<“-and I think that’s the last time we can salvage that.”> Ban mused over the link, looming at her side, <”we cleared the garage, who the hell did we miss?”>
<”No one..,”> Sybila uttered, voice half lost to the static on the comms as she rolled her shoulder to stretch the joint as her hand fell to her side. It was a simple nuance that whispered at the edge of her ear-warning her. The women turned her dark visor toward the Zabrak, jerking her head- <“lock it in, we have a Cloak in bound.”>
The highest bidder had possessed the finest security Corellia had to offer until they came knocking. But this? It reeked of something else, someone with interests stacked on the knowledge stashed away in her former Master’s Holocron. Three stood in her possession, suspended over some unknown corner of space waiting aboard the flag ship, but there were more out there obscured by riddles and with a half coordinate pointing her forward. She might as well be chasing a pipe dream. The Pure Blood was surely enjoying the chase from the other side in pandemonium.
<“Are they openly hunting us!? This deep in Alliance Spac-”> Ban Arroyo stressed then as blasters were passed between men at the warning. The Zabrak shadowed her as she traded him a power cell off her belt without a second thought. The skiff’s top was cramped as men moved into position.
Kascalion Giedfield came to mind, there were no boundaries the man knew. The hunt wasn’t finished-he was the only one who could track her this far now and cold claws seized her heart in her chest. No matter how long she toiled to shrouded her path, he would be there. One year of chasing the legacy of Darth Avernus , honing his lessons far from the grips of the Devil himself. You needed an edge to kill a god. She had blazed a trail across the systems and through the border for the bastard’s work; Sybila shook her head. A guilty reminder brought the blurred faces of two children to mind and she swallowed thickly; drifting. The effigies of her blood and children were left tarnished by the manipulations of the Devil.
It wasn’t enough. Maledictus didn’t like his toys disappearing, a pity truly the ego maniac hadn’t come to terms with it. It was safest here on the run some days, just so he didn’t find them, just so she didn’t have to feel. It was too easy to let herself slip in to the arms of grief, she treated her kindly at a distance but did not let it feed-
<”It’s fine, it’s just a suicide run,”> Sybila trusted the words that rolled of her tongue moving out the of the way of the men, it had only been a matter of time and she needed to distract herself. Aurbesh flickered across the screen as a trajectory gauged their arrival. She couldn’t shake the feeling something had changed, and she knew it was a sign and her time was dwindling.
<“We have authorities in surrounding the sector, their moving fast we’ll only have a small window before the planet side is locked down when they realize it’s Cloak movement.”>
The orange glow barely visible from their vantage down here in the drain. In the distance an inferno shook the highrise buildings, a final explosion filling the night. The city’s turmoil echoed as armed forces flooded the flight lanes far overhead. They may of ransacked a single floor, killed a man even, but she took more care in her work-
<”Think they had something to do with that?”>
A snarl tore from her, muffled by the layers of armor. She knew start to finish, trapezing through an Alliance center wouldn’t end well but this spoke too loud of volume. The worst would have to be behind them and Sybila hauled her rifle up as the HUD scrambled, she wet her lips-servo slowly tracing at the trigger in wait. The radar picked up the three inbound vehicles.
Desperation wasn’t a good place to be, she reasoned her back wasn’t too a wall yet. Sybila didn’t want to be hard pressed for a gun or cornered. There were enough assets not frozen by the Imperial State, but being hunted like a dog though; now that was tiring.
<”Absolutely. Maledictus wanted my attention,”> Sybila lied.
<”What’s our plan then, is he coming? I’m on my-your last powercell. We’re stretched too thin.”>
Somewhere behind the masks of the drivers, there was one alone and their aurora permeated and she could taste the rage behind her teeth, Sybila raised her good arm as she racked the blaster in the one hand, every muscle taunt as the distant fear in herself welled. She wasn’t coming back, the sulfuric air of Credence had long burned itself into her skin.
Even if the numbness had prevailed. Ventilators kicked, laced with a metallic stench-her helmet filled with a cold rush of air, shaking her from the reverie. The continuous thorn in her side had dredged the last of her sanity. Anger winded in her chest and she bore her teeth behind her visor as the butt of the rifle found her shoulder.
<”He’ll show his face when he’s desperate enough, but this isn’t him. There’d be a full scale invasion if he was here,”> Sybila reasoned as she made a head count on the troopers. <”as for the rest? I’ll figure it out Ban, just shoot straight. I got plenty of men with debts, and a Moff’s ransom in hand.”>
Maledictus liked his games just like the last man, never moving through the shadow but across the field in full battle regalia. It wasn’t going to be how this fight ended though. Her gaze tracking the three dots that inched closure. They had been hunting the Pure Blood’s loose ends this long and the presence of another acolyte put her off.
<”You’re not planning on pawning off the Holocron are you! After everything-”>
<“Enough! When I am through with it, I’ll hand it off to Fel or the highest bidder,”> Sybila snapped, her mind rationalized. It’d be her final insult to the deadman when she had drained every last scrap of knowledge from the spheres.
<“ Rurik Fel would fucking kill you if you showed your face, all of us we’ll be plastered to a wall!”>
The cerulean map flickered at the corner of the HUD and the troopers around her stirred, their visors stared down their sights as the offshoot pipes closed in around them. Blood thrummed in her ears-feeding off the men’s adrenaline.
<“I’d do it just to see the look on all of their faces-Ban if half of them fucking knew the truth,”> Sybila laughed openly, maybe she felt like being cruel. The woman knew she could rake her claws across the map if she tried. Irveric Tavlar wouldn’t give up and she felt like being exceptionally cruel. The noise in her throat died, half choked and strained as she swayed with the transport’s movement- <“but sure maybe we’ll end up back in Imperial Space. I don’t have time to make friends with some power hungry mongrel sithling, do you? If Maledictus has made a move. If am right, kark it we’ll need some sort of immunity before my leash shortens.”>
<”Eight Hundred meters and closing!”>
The skiff scraped and screeched suddenly as the skiff banked sharply, the team jarred by the drop as they hit the flood wall. Sybila braced herself as the engines whirled, bright lights targeted them and the causeway lit up as three speeders cut in from the service lane above.
Three drivers-blaster fire whizzed past and Sybila hit the deck of the skiff on instinct, blaster fire bounced off the pipe lines. It was harder to put to words and she left it there, the dependency and revil Maledictus had sowed. She would only have to rewrite their plans to the end once again, there was no price to steep now and Sybila needed to see him dead and..whatever would come after
<“What about Dooku?”>
The man was grasping at straws, looking for the easy way out. The Zabrak was still searching for a window of normality, but he had played his hand and was marooned in her mission. Loyalty was a terrible thing after all and the soldier rebuked the chaos of it all and she shied from his hesitance. Sybila had cast herself in the fringe of it all but they would only see her mantle, trapezing morales for her own favor-the soldier was gone and this was all that was left.
Their fear. As far as she was concerned, the Major General had died honorably.
She waited with baited breath as the heavy repeaters opened up, cutting a swath of red through the night. The plasma burned on the air as they gunned down the pursuers, the speeders swerving through the endless cloud of plasma. It wouldn’t matter how much attention they drew before they hit the tunnel; they’d be gone before authorities.
<“Maybe just maybe!”>
Lucien Dooku wasn’t the boy she remembered anymore as far as she was concerned, a divergence in loyalties had muddied their history but she supposed she owed him a visit just the same. If she didn’t have to run, she’d find shelter in his company. A shame Serenno had seen liberation when she could not lend a hand. There was Appw'rii too, if it came to it the woman would answer her call. She closed her finger around the trigger painfully slow, the recoil of her rifle hammered into her tender shoulder as she opened fire. The speeders fled through the fray, swerving across the pipes as their path narrowed and the inevitable first bike crashed under their fire. The engine ignited and blew out half the causeway, replaced by the other drivers. It hadn’t taken care of their little problem, the force user was there clinging to the back of the pack.
Power flooded around her as the A.I highlighted the acolyte, her eyes squinted as one arm swept up and she felt the distant grip close around her. A strangled noise escaped her as she flailed. A phantom in the dark, she was ripped from the skiff in a single gust and the shouts of men bled on the wind. She was still distracted. Sybila’s arms flew to brace herself as the torrent of power pulled and overtook her limbs, the comms descended into static.
The great steel works turned and the world blurred, a single hand shot out as a cable shot off from her vambrace in a split second latching itself on to the back of the rail of the transport. The cord thrummed the moment it hit the end of the line and her joint strained; hanging on the grappling line. Her back hit the concrete below, impact gel expanding but she gasped for breath. Metal screeched as she was dragged across the steel grates behind the skiff, sparks igniting from the friction.
Sybila barely caught her name screamed over the noise, a steady heat growing as her armor was chipped away across the steel. A series of warnings blared across her HUD as the integrity of the tenebrae diminished. The speeders inched closure over head and a fresh wave of blaster fire opened on her. She rolled her wrist then feeling a steady click as the line began to retract as a smaller explosion engulfed her path.
Flames licked over her form, the impact sending her careening at the end of the wire as she fought for a grip. Her back caught a hitch in the pipes and the wire as she was dragged, straining the cords she was sent spiraling across the metal. Her helmet cracked against the side of the causeway, her sight sucked in the vacuum of night as her body snapped and bounced across the steel. The skiff was slowing and she kicked her feet out blindly, the maneuver thrusters kicking in beneath her.
A high pitched ringing drowned out all else, a pain etched across her skull and Sybila’s servo dragged along the pipes. Craning her neck, she seethed. Electricity hummed under the cage of flesh and mounted across her body, mutilating the last of her nerves as Maledictus and shear white engulfed her vision-fueling her onslaught. From her forearm it erupted, lightning burned out the last wires of her servo as the coils exploded from the focal in her palm as she released something truly volatile. Every hair rose on the back of her neck as she screeched until she tasted copper, blood pouring into her mouth as she overreached. A pale violet light engulfed the entirety of the drain tunnel until the pressure in her skull surmounted her anger.
The squall of lightning ricocheted between the speeders, arching as it incinerated the bikes in a deafening explosion; taking their riders to hell and there after. The audio dampeners worked double time, and Sybila hung from the end of the cord witnessing her work as the vambrace began to reel her up. She spat the mouthful of blood out, disregarding the splatter across the HUD. Sybila heaved for breath as she glanced down to the...remains of her servo. There were three charred spikes where digits once were, the last of the wires burnt out but her body was thrumming with rage thinly masked beneath pure energy. It clung to her now at every turn, something as simple as survival was beneath her. Sybila was in her element, she could do this all day she wore vehemently under her breath, head falling back to see Ban staring down over the skiff ledge-faceless behind his helmet one hand waiting to help her. The promise of pain distant and encroaching as her arm spasmed.
Sybila exhaled as fatigue poured over her, breath fogging up the HUD as they left the city behind. Now she truly reeked of desperation and dreaded it all the same.
<"When we reach the ship, set course for the nearest Imperial border planet.">