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I L U M Galactic Alliance | New Imperial Order | Brotherhood of the Maw
Ilum- A place of wonder, sanctity, and self-discovery. Since the rebirth of the New Jedi Order, the planet has long been sought after. More than just a conduit, the holy land offered roots to the blossoming organization. It united the Galactic Alliance and the Order as one when the hyper lane was secured, a beautiful union stemming from the symbol of friendship.
Though access has never been an issue since- it is not enough anymore. With the threat of the Brotherhood of the Maw growing in the galactic north, the region must be secured. There seems no better time than now, with the expansion into the Unknown Region in full throttle. Taking into account the New Jedi’s contributions to the Third-Imperial Civil War, the Alliance and New Imperials come together to aid their proven allies.
OBJECTIVE I | HEARTS OF KYBER
The Brotherhood of the Maw was driven back from our station, yet it was but a mere distraction from their true goal. Another distress call, this time from Ilum, comes from the pilgrims: They are here. Forward scouting has determined the Brotherhood have constructed a small base and begun harvesting Ilum’s kyber crystals. With one weapon of mass destruction having made its way into the heathen’s hand, the triumvirate cannot allow more resources for such. The Galactic Triumvirate comes together to strike back and defeat those who would dare desecrate holy ground. Raid the base, destroy the extraction project in the caves. Go with the light, and offer no quarter to the savages.
OBJECTIVE II | BUSINESS AS USUAL
Even whilst the galaxy is in chaos, the cogs in the bureaucratic machine continue to turn. While the skilled of sword secure Ilum, those versed in the art of cutthroat politics meet on Coruscant. The busy day sees the Imperial Assembly’s arrival to the senate building, where they will split off and discuss various concerns with their Alliance Senate counterparts. Border security, trade deals, the future of the war- all lay in the hands of the skilled Triumvirate politicians.
OBJECTIVE III | REFLECTION IN THE ICE
As the war effort slows, many seek the peace and reflection they so need to calm the chaos within. With the Alliance moving to secure the space around Ilum, there is a moment of respite for those seeking rest on the quiet and icy world. Jedi gather in the Ilum Temple; some search for new crystals for their sabers, some reflect on the journey to this place of pilgrimage, and others still… play in the snow. In solidarity with the Triumvirate, the Imperial Knights have also been invited -- perhaps in such a sacred place, the mysteries of the Force might open to the more military-minded among them.
Bernard waited, seated cross-legged, before a small opening in a cliff face that seemed to span from horizon to horizon and reached high enough that its ledge was obscured by low-hanging clouds. Against such a titanic backdrop the lone Arkanian was little more than a mote of dust, almost invisible. This were fine had he not been expecting company.
A red glowrod sat in a hill of snow several paces away from the wall to draw attention to his spot. In the late-evening darkness its hues danced against drifting snowflakes and reflected off the ice wall to illuminate a rather significant space. Enough to guide the expected visitor.
“Master Sardun, your presence is an honour. I wasn’t certain if you’d received my request, let alone if a Padawan’s questions were worth the detour to Ilum,” Bernard began, pushing himself off the ground to turn and greet his guest, “I am glad to find that not to be the case.”
His legs had become stiff from the cold, and a small heap of snow had covered his legs and shoulders. He cleared it off with a few pats, then removed his glove to offer his hand in greeting.
The weather was favourable, overall. A steady stream of snow poured from above, but it was a far cry from the blizzards that swept over Ilum’s ice deserts most days. Bernard didn’t intend to stay beyond the safe harbour of the caverns for long though.
“We should head inside. There’s a spot further that I thought would make for a better place to discuss,” he turned, but paused to turn back, “I, uh, didn’t want to get lost in there on my own, that’s why we’re meeting out here,” he admitted, a little bashful, and quickly moved to lead the way.
Ever since his duel with the two Jedi on that infernal station, one of whom he thought of as only legend but like Lord Vader was not entirely just story. The Master of the Knights of Ren would oversee the project that would bring the galaxy to its knees take place. Ilium throughout history was the source of large kyber crystals one that had powered weapons such as Death Stars and the Starkiller Base. The Maw would too create such a similar weapon to wipe out those that stood in his path. For following the events of Csilla the voices in his head grew from an echo to a scream. The voice telling him that the time was near and soon Kyrel would have it all.
He stood within the dim lit darkness, torches and heat lamps were the only source of light within the extraction zone. The Master of Ren stood as a imposing figure, dressed in his armor, the red scorched lines of his mask was faintly illuminated in the darkness. While the barbaric forces of the Maw was hacking into the ground, with various cutting tools be it both blade and plasma. Those that found large crystals within the caves were rewarded very well, and those that did not work hard or fast enough Kyrel had dispatched them with ease. With the Alliance and his old comrades within the New Order. No room for error would be made.
He stood on his guard, the same voice still echoed inside his head. While the sounds of machinery and digging only grew louder. Such caverns had reminded him of the caves of Lothal and his first encounter with the Jedi many years ago. Before now, and like then he could tell that his enemies would catch wind of the Maw’s nefarious machinations. Something of which he could not allow for his plans.
The crystals themselves called to him, whispering the song of the light in his ear. If only they knew what the Heathen Priests would do to them. Bleed the crystals so that the true power would be exposed through destruction. Such was the way of the shadow. Turning to face the cave entrance while the work was underway. His hands gripping his saber tightly. Anticipation flooding his veins. He stood, on guard and ready for what enemies would dare stop him. Be it Jedi or Imperial. One thing was clear only death was at the end of the path they all would take to stop the Maw.
A Trio of Warships the Purifier , the Executioner and the Judgement , lay in orbit of one of the Two Moons of Ilum. Commanded by a man known as Traaval Pryce this force formed the Core of the Larger Maw Irregular Fleet , a Naval Task Force which had served the BotM as part of the Hand of Purification and by extension , Darth Solipsis and his Order of the Final Dawn. Compared to the rest of the BotM which were currently on the surface of the Planet of Ilum , the Hand of Purification had direct orders from Sularen himself to support the BotMs Endeavor and explore an abandoned Military Base and Research Facility formerly used by the now defunct Zweihander Union when Ilum was part of their Territory.
Credius Nargath , the Sith Lord who had betrayed Marlon Sularen and usurped his organization had managed to create a Major Galactic Government within Chiss Space , expanding his influence and expanding his Corporation , the N&Z Umbrella Corporation in the area. With the recent Crisis at Byss threatening his rule and the BotM still in no position to wage a direct conflict against the Galactic Triumvirate , Sularen had decided to organize his own Mission , to Secure any sort of research that could give him an edge over his enemies. Aware of the Alliance's intentions to secure Ilum , Sularen had sent Politorate Agents in advance to scout out former ZU Space to find and locate old ZU Research Facilities which could help him in his efforts to maintain his rule on Byss.
And thus with the discovery of Zweihander Union Research Facilities on Ilum , Sularen quickly sent a Task Force to the Planet to secure any potential valuable information and with the Brotherhood of the Maw already present , the Lord-Imperator was certain that his Proxies within the BotM could get the job done and provide him with every small piece of information which could push his plans forward. While the BotM would harvest Crystals for their newest Superweapon , the HoP would seek out secrets that would advance Sularen's own nefarious plans and guarantee his continued rule over Byss.
Thus 4 TIE/STs exited the ventral hangars of the Purifier and headed towards the Surface of Ilum's First Moon. Inside these Transports were Hundreds of Greyshirts and a few Blackshirts along with the Elite Raptor Squad and it's Leader , the mysterious Operative known as the Phantom. Soon these Transports would make landfall , and upon arrival they would begin uncovering the many secrets , Credius Nargath kept within the Zweihander Union and finally create the Ultimate Weapon to fend off future attempts to remove Sularen's from his rightful place as the Ruler of Byss. In time , the Core Worlds would fear him with the weapons he planned to create , and that fear would be exactly what Sularen needed toinally take what was rightfully his.
The monstrosity had become a calling sign of his. Plated gold locked into places that hid him from the world. Through this he became less of a man and more of an…- maybe in his youth Michael would have called it an ‘ideal’. These days he was too old to think in those terms. Experienced had taught him a lot of things throughout the years. It had managed to strip away the niceties. The formalities. The things Michael had gone through, the things he had done himself, educated him plenty on the wisest lesson of all.
Ideals did not matter. Only results did.
“Any warrior that stands for the Light deserves my attention, Padawan…” A humph there as Sardun realized he did not know Bernard’s last name. Just his moniker: of Arca. That moment of awkwardness passed as the Jedi Master accepted his hand for a shake. Yet, his eyes glanced past the lad and towards their surroundings.
It was… beautiful in a way, but deadly too and they best not forget that both could go hand in hand easily. Even as Michael stood there, he saw the greyscale visage of the Netherworld overlapping the world.
The smoke of his lost eye, replaced by stone mined from the Netherworld, saw more than just the world.
“Lead the way, lad, I will follow and you can tell me what you wished to talk about.”
His expression didn’t betray anything, but the Master’s appearance piqued a spark of curiosity, and of worry. What terrible fate did a Jedi have to endure to end up the same way? Bernard didn’t know where to begin to build an answer and he didn’t much care to find out or experience it for himself.
The Padawan turned, leading the way through the large fissure in the ice wall and down into the caves. The tunnel was dark and narrow at first, but soon opened up into a vast cavern filled with ice and crystal formations. The crystals’ natural glow refracted off the ice all throughout the cave. It lit up the space with a brilliantly colourful, yet subtle light. The path Bernard and Michael walked along was an elevated, narrow bridge that oversaw the spectacle.
The show reminded Bernard of his first time on Ilum, several years ago, when the New Jedi Order was still nascent. It was only a routine check-in visit, the planet had been under the occupation of an imperialist government at the time and the Alliance had come to an agreement with them regarding its deep connection to the Jedi. Nothing much occurred then, but he recalled how much it had reminded him of home, of his youth.
As he walked he turned partly back to the Jedi following him.
“Did,” he hesitated for a second, “you come to Ilum for The Gathering when you were younger, Master?”
V E N O M _ S N A K E NEW IMPERIAL ORDER
STARRING | Izoshi
Officially, he was still a loyal subordinate to the New Imperial Order with no grand ambitions other than to serve.
Unofficially, he discreetly mobilized whatever resources he had available for his ultimate vision he intended to make into reality. A dream he shared with Irveric Tavlar
in confidence, one that would unite the Galaxy under the Iron Sun and all forms of dissidence desisting. As always, the political state between the New Imperial Order and other governments were delicate to walk on. Everything they had built could not be recklessly risked at a simple flick from the wrist. They needed to be subtly devious in their goals, a task for a ruthless snake to handle.
More wet work, more filth for his hands to dive in. What would he uncover first with all his digging? Treasure he long desired, or the torments of hell? He'd argue he was walking the former with all that he had lived through. A blessing ins disguise as his own tragedies fueled his ambitions, knowing it would bring a better Galaxy than the one he was living in.
His armor was unmarked, donning the appearance of a mercenary with his gear and weapons he acquired through black market entrepreneurs that were in COMPNOR's pockets. Under the triumvirate pact, a pact he detested though saw great benefits to selfishly utilize, they were to counter the increasing menace of the zealous Brotherhood of the Maw. Another form of dissidence to paint grey over. From all he intel he had access to, preciois kyber crystals were extracted by the hands of these zealots. Under the goodwill of the Iron Sun, they were to counter this threat and discontinue operations on Ilum.
That he would do, but that wasn't his primary objective.
"We'll kill any zealots we encounter, but focus on the crystals. Let's try not to get uncovered, if we do...well, then we're screwed and Bastion won't cover our asses. The Maw have already done most of the work, for us; we just need to take it."
ALLIES | NIO | Izoshi ENEMIES | MAW | GA??? | OPEN FOR INTERATCION
Location: Ilum, Brotherhood Base Tags: Kyrel Ren
Desecration. It was a special kind of crime, beyond the scope of ordinary Brotherhood conquests, no matter how brutal. The raids on Black Spire Outpost and the scavenging towns of Jakku had been massacres, but not desecrations. The annihilation of the Croke Reach and the Gundanbard of Mar'Zambul had been genocides, but not desecrations. Even the assault on Csilla, intent on wiping an entire planet from the galaxy forever, hadn't been a desecration. No, this was something special, a direct affront against tens of thousands of years of peaceful faith and tradition, a staining of a place devoted to the light with blood and machine oil.
This was a crime against a holy world, and it was glorious.
At the entrance of the Brotherhood mining base, The Mongrel looked up through the planet's swirling snows, watching for the enemy transports that would inevitably be coming. The agents of the Maw excelled at many things - torture, slaughter, enslavement - but their ability to impact the wider galaxy on a mass scale came from one talent in particular: provocation. They had seized the galaxy's attention with their superweapon, drawing no fewer than four of the great powers of known space into glorious warfare by making them fear the battle station's power. Now they would seize the attention of the Jedi through desecration of their holy place.
The marauder's lip curled as he thought of the Jedi... and half a dozen wounds, from the missing tip of his ear all the way down to his mangled thigh, throbbed in painful recollection. It was the Jedi who had been most responsible for the destruction of the Mercy, and for the delays that had wrought in the inevitable arrival of the Final Dawn. Without their internal sabotage of the station, it would never have fallen, not even when faced with all the mighty fleets that "civilization" could muster. He was sure of it. No, it was these mage-knights who were to blame, clinging to the same stagnant traditions they had begun to lay down thirty thousand years before.
They had long been the guardians of the old order, determined to preserve the crumbling power structures that had taken shape in the galaxy's center over and over. New Republic, Galactic Alliance, it didn't matter what they called it; each time they helped it rise again, they kept the universe from evolving, from moving on to something new. But just like the Rakata or the Celestials of ancient days, their cycle would come to an end in time. The Brotherhood would show them that simple truth, again and again, burning the planets in their path so that the ashes of conquest could fertilize the fields of true renewal. Ilum would be a particularly targeted lesson.
The Jedi might recover their holy world, but it would be desecrated.
Looking behind him, The Mongrel beheld the mining operation that the Brotherhood had brought to bear in these crystal caves. It was a great, ugly scar in the world's icy surface, the snow turned oily black by soot and spilled fuel. Industrial processors belched great clouds of smog over the base, and ash rained down thicker than the flurries of sleet. The horrific perversion of it all brought a crooked grin to his face. The crystals they were extracting here, stealing from the Jedi and fouling the site for future generations, would be the fuel for their next superweapon. The pilfered hearts of Jedi peacekeepers' weapons would fuel the ultimate engine of war.
The veteran marauder turned back again, peering at the sky through darkened lenses; he had learned much about enduring cold and snow blindness during the fighting on Csilla's surface, and now wore thick furs and polarized goggles to endure Ilum's similarly harsh climate. He knew that it was only a matter of time before the Galactic Alliance and their allies arrived. After the warning of the Yuuzhan Vong reformists and the raid on Outlander Station, a reprisal was inevitable. That was exactly why he was here. He was a battle-tested warleader, not the kind of lesser marauder who could be spared to guard a mining operation. He was here because a fight was coming.
The Jedi would be there, Force-mages whose powers far outweighed any weapons or tactics he could bring to bear... but although he had never slain one, he had survived against them time and again, withstanding their laser-swords and their magics. The Mongrel swore that he would once again hold his ground until the Dark Voice was satisfied and glory was his. He had been developing new tricks to ensure that he could go toe to toe with the warriors of light, at least for a while. It was a shame that the Gore Wasps had such an aversion to cold; he would have liked to have tested them against the Jedi in this battle. But what he had brought would surely serve well.
Behind him, lying in wait among the slave-miners and overseers, a vast raiding detachment of the Bloodsworn Tribe awaited his command. They were well-armed and dug into their positions; they had learned much from observing FN-999
's careful trench lines and Erskine Barran
's defensive tactics back on Csilla. The Mongrel wondered if that Galidraani fighter, Gowrie, would be here on Ilum; in their last encounter, the enemy officer had promised they would meet again, when both of them were at full strength. Only then could they truly take one another's measure. In that moment, Gowrie had become the only civilized man The Mongrel respected.
Yes, he would give Gowrie's head a place of honor on his trophy rack. But all others who might fight him that day were not assured any such consideration. The Mongrel would take his trophies only from the strong and clever, those who showed themselves to be worthy in battle. He doubted that many of these soft Core-Worlders would prove themselves such.
W I D O W M A K E R UNDERCOVER
// SLEIGHT-OF-HAND \\ Djorn Bline
A wry smile toyed with her lips from the driver's seat and she glanced over momentarily, flashing a smirk at his repetition of the task at hand. "Mm, mhm, hehe." Though they had sat through the same briefing, he insisted on emphasizing the points made, as if she needed an additional reminder. Of course in the time they had learned about each other from one mission to the next and everything in between, the chiss agent had overturned the rocks he kept his nerves buried under, and she knew he was speaking more to himself than to her. Taking one hand off the control nestled before her, she reached into the dingy pocket of her merc-vest and removed a polished, glinting silver cigarette case, extending it through the dimly-lit cabin of the speeder for him to take. "It should be easy enough, Djorn. Nothing the two of us will struggle with, I'm sure." Her amused smirk morphed into something much warmer and sincere with her words of encouragement.
Izoshi took her eyes off him to refocus on the transparisteel before them, squinting through the snow churning between rushes of wind and the stir of trafficking craft moving about casually. "At least now I'm dressed for the cold." She remarked with a gentle chuckle, reminiscing on the last mission they had undertaken together. "I hate to say it, but it looks like I won't be needing your coat this time."
They were drawing closer to the edge of their destination, knowing well enough the two of them were going to have to trek a considerable distance on foot through the weather in order to remain undercover. She sought a gap in the thin, scraggly forest and double-checked it with the external sensors of the craft before gently putting them down on the ground and at last, sitting back in her seat and returning her attention to him. The drone of the engine whispered its last breath, one she mirrored with a soft sigh. "I don't know about you, but I'm having a cigarette before we go." After announcing as much, she plucked one from the case placed on the console and tucked it between her lips, soon fishing out her lighter to spark the end and nurture a smoldering cherry. "I have a feeling this will turn into quite the long night."
"The lengths we'll go to in order to keep superweapons out of the wrong hands..." she hummed, cracking the window with the exhalation of her smoky breath. "We should have claimed this planet ages ago."
ALLIES | NIO | Djorn Bline ENEMIES | GA(?) | BotM | OPEN FOR ENGAGEMENT
K N I G H T
NEW JEDI ORDER
ILUM JEDI_GANG | Xashe Tistya
A chance to relieve oneself in peace amidst all the chaos and war that consumed this plane of reality. These holy grounds, despite the pestilence that roamed across, always took whatever burdens weighed against his chest to offer respite. Their shortcomings of the war made their victories bittersweet, or at least he thought so. The light of the Jedi scourged the Sith from their unholy lands, but dimmed weakly on Ziost. While it was not new to have those emotions, it was sour to taste.
"It's been too long since I've walked these grounds," too, too long it had been for the Nautolan, walking with his Padawan their boots making that familiar crunch upon the eternal snow they walked on. Since he acquired the crystal to the lightsaber he carried was the last time he crossed the Ilum system.
"I presume it's not your first time here, Xashe? I hope the Silvers take their pupils to Ilum, or did you acquire your crystal through another method?"
If so, he would have it cast aside. To him it was a symbol of her past as a Silver Jedi, a sect that he deemed as a failure that offered no contributions to the benefit of the Galaxy. False pride that thought better than to war against the dangers lurking across the stars.
All she could see through snowflake laden eyelashes were barren white plains and ranges of blue-tinged mountains that seemed to vanish in the mists of distant horizons. Until she saw something much larger, much more impressive, much holier.
She smiled behind the masklike bandana that protected her against Ilum’s frigid winds. Peering out at the icy waste that stretched into the impressively carved-out temple, she pulled her fur lined cap down more snugly about her head and crunched forward toward the welcoming hole that meant to be the door. At its base, she looked up at the ornate carvings in the ice and dipped her head in appreciation for Ashla’s kindness to draw her here. And it was so beautiful, amidst the snow, the great doors of the Temple were accented by a silvery alloy. When she was right at their base, she realized how...much of the entrance ws blocked by a snowbank.
After much huffing and exertion, she made it into the first entrance and finally through all that snow. Within revealed a stretching rotunda carved into the mountainside. It took her breath away at how huge it all was. Immediately, she was drawn to the impressive carvings by two hooded statues of lightsaber-wielding Jedi, ringed by carved obelisks that seemed to serve no purpose other than aesthetic impressiveness. Beyond them, she saw several more openings that were meant to confuse her.
Or so she assumed.
Because she was confused.
It wasn’t obvious which of the tunnels would lead to the crystal caves.
In mild frustration, she huffed and sank back on her heels, taking a second to fold her legs and sit down in the entrance to breathe and consider which direction the goddess of light might want her to go.
Ishida was without her master's guidance. Equipped only with the task of finding a Kyber worthy of a warrior, and her Ashina Steel. The steel created by her father, an invention of her bloodline and her heritage took the hardened shape of a sword strapped to her back.
The air was pierced by daggers, cries from the deep echoing forth unfathomablepain.
From the depths of the Crystal Caves beneath the Ancient Jedi Temple something most foul tainted this holy ground. The Kyber suffered. Their screams traveling through the Force, touching upon all those who could feel it’s beautiful embrace with an icy gale and insufferable ringing pain.
The source of this terrible agony was unknown, the location far in the depths of the crystalline network. Only those who entered the caves could hear this pain, this anguish. The closer one came to it’s source, the more overwhelming it would become as it washed over those who inched closer and closer to the source.
A loathsome whisper rippled beyond the twisting cavern, past the halls of the Jedi, and over the piercing screams. The vile tongue travelled forth by a wretched will that carried it off toward the locus center of it’s speaker’s attention. The foul words came in hushed tones with whispers of the past and a slight tug towards the epicenter of agony.
would feel the touch of darkness come and go. It’s purpose fulfilled. Only emptiness remained in it’s wake
The Dark Voice turned to the one at his side, the mighty Warlord Zachariel Steelblood
. A foe eager to bring suffering to the Jedi, a dark being wishing to add more than heads to his ‘collection’.
“Do not allow them to interrupt my work, I sense an opportunity that we cannot allow to pass.”
"It is coming..! Oh, it is coming... the Black storm rages... Gazing onto the crystal tomb...!"
The woman's voices cause the decks of the Blood Spear a tremor, as the crimson energy emits through the thick durasteel...
The tall figure of the tall red-clothed man embraced the thin dark energy layer emitted from the arcane deck, as he gazes far into the void from the transparesteel window of the cabin. His palms both rested one atop the other, over the spiked edge of the long black iron cane-like hilt. its whole body was covered with skeletal representations of bones and ribcage-shapped designs made of gold and ivory, while both its edges were embraced by a long crown-like spiked ring, clearly decorative blades, from where the forceblades went through, when activated. At the very center of the hilt, there were four parallel finger-shapped curves, matching perfectly his palm's touch, heavily decorated with wrapping rings from cultures one could only imagine. His long red tunic went all the way down, hanging over the legs who carried the metallic reflection of the dim light that was lit on the deck. A mere indication of the armour that was worn, under the noble outfit...
"How did it feel?" his low, sadistic voice echoed in the narrow room, with his yellow Dark Side-tainted eyes never letting go of the void's mesmerising view. It felt as if none required him to turn, to know who he was addressed at. "Shrouded by Dark Omens, Lord Prince..." the hunched figure of the black-cloaked elder's figure replied, standing not far behind him. The elder's palms stretched out of the heavy, to him, fabric. Long; Much longer a normal man's, with nails curving forth like a bestial claw's. From his figure, only the yellow blaze of the eyes could be told from within the fabric's shadow, denying all detail but the darkest scent."Great forces are gathering over the pillar, amidst the ruins..." the figure continued, with his voice's sound only music to the clearly satisfied noble. On his words, the Prince grew a twisted smirk on his drained pale lips... "Vultures fly by the valley of the wolves; fighting for a carcass long perished... The Ancient Ones have shown their favour, Lord Prince...".
"Then the time has come to feast along the wolves..." the Prince spoke in a darkest mutter, as his eyes sparkled with the fiery essense of the Dark Side possessing them. "Summon the Raider Fleet...! Tell them plunder and glory awaits... under a Crimson Star..."
"STAND UP, YOU DOGS!!" The huge, musclar Nautolan shouted, as he paced quickly across the rather narrow deck. The forceful oxygen discharges from the ill-maintained life support turn into white steam, as they blend with the artificial atmosphere on the deck. All across, lied several bodies of half-armoured men and women. Most were human, with skin pale and covered with numerous red or black tattoos across their spines and torso, while others Nautolan, or even Duro. "CAPTAIN'S ORDERS! WE MOVE!!". The crew soon rushes to their posts. As the huge Nautolan walks through the narrow hatch-door belowdeck, left and right barrels of the heavy cannons blocked the malfunctioning red light coming from the old lamps. There, the corsairs gathered together under the rusty cogs. "Load the barrels! Get the engines warm!" The Nautolan barks to the crew that opened the deck hatches, revealing the ammunition storage... In groups of two, the men pulled the iron chains; lifting the heavy ammunition crates from belowdeck, under the echoing noise of the rust-infused ring bearings. Their bodies soon reflect the dim light by the thick layer of sweat covering their tattoo-colored bodies. A pale-skinned woman approached the Nautolan as he observes the crew with a wide smile on his one-eyed face. Half her skull is shaved, while the other covered by the thick braided black hair. "Where to?" she intoned, as she cracks her knuckles. The Nautolan looks on her, sharing her sparkling, Dark Side infused gaze...
And so, the roaring engines blaze, pushing the spiked, chain-wrapped crimson keel of the Athysian gunship forth into the void, towards the Jump Point. The gunship sails first, one out of eight, of the squadron. The first, out of the six squadrons... And as their Hyperdrives charge, the grim horrifying sillhuette of the Raider Fleet slowly emerges from the void; Only to be lost once more, into Hyperspace....
A warm fog manifested and faded in repetitious cadence, billowing out of nostrils and scarcely parted lips. Deliberately paced respiration begot a focus that maintained a technique that disallowed his body heat from radiating too quickly. Although he was horribly underdressed for a place as cold as Ilum, the Force would compensate. Just as it had with a premonition that filled in the gaps of missing knowledge, leading him to this very spot where he waited silently.
He was propped against a cold stone pillar in a round, subterranean vestibule. Precipitation had replenished the snow he cleared from the entrance hours ago. Snowed-in brought the benefit of trapping warmth which radiated from the ground. Not quite enough to create the usual perception of warmth, but enough to reduce the magnitude of his own technique. Just enough, in fact, that he'd spent hours trancing in and out of present consciousness.
A distinct resonance carried across the walls: snow upheaval. Eyelids repelled from one another as if taking a predetermined cue. The conscious self slithered its way out of the internal trance into the egress of forward presence. Finally, Inosuke turned his head over his shoulder, peering lackadaisically from around the pillar.
Had it not been for the stark age difference, he might have mistaken the individual for his mother. Before he was noticed, he pulled his head back and leaned it back onto the stonework. For once, a premonition proved literal in his assumed interpretation, rather than metaphorical. Despite the span of which Ishida had been with the order, the time hadn't ever seemed correct for Inosuke to illuminate his identity.
Truthfully, it still didn't, but a vision coupled with his preexisting presence on Ilum provided an opportunity took more in hopeful impatience than any calculated reasoning. When Master Sarratt and the students took their leave, Knight Ashina lingered on the icy world for this endeavor. Convenience and longing won over patience and internal deliberation.
His presence would be more than a little suspicious. Even so, his identity would have to be revealed gradually. Manifesting from a hiding place just to announce their blood was likely to be too jarring for a pleasant reunion. Thankfully he looked far less of his father than her their mother, which would hopefully serve to make him far less obvious.
Inosuke stepped out from around the pillar, his eyes meeting her back as she was knelt down toward the ground.
After a brief silence, he'd speak up in their shared native language. "It is laudable that you would convene with Ashla at such an impasse," he accosted in a knowing tone. "Yet, there is virtue in proactivity." The latter sentiment rang more his father than his looks ever would. An extension of their clan axiom: Hesitation is Defeat. "The Force can guide you in more ways than one. You need not always ask."
"No, back in those days..." Sardun grew thoughtful there, thinking back to then. Strange times... better times? Maybe. In some ways better, some ways worse. "...the Galactic Republic did not control Illum. It was cut off from us."
A thin smile there.
"Not that it would have mattered. My path diverged from the Jedi Order very quickly. In those days it was dysfunctional, high on its own esteem and unwilling to do what it took to take the fight to the Sith." He shrugged as Sardun followed Bernard deeper into the cavern systems while listening to the echoes their footsteps made.
Strange to think that those echoes might continue for long after they left.
Deeper and deeper into the darkness.
"It was when I first formed the Army of Light with a few trusted friends." Just for a moment the voice of his tone smudged with pride. Face radiated with past glory, before it was withdrawn just as quickly as it had appeared. "But you have not called me to bloviate about the past, I apologize. It is easy to get stuck there the older you become."
He did not press Bernard for his reasons to this meeting.
There was no need, the young lad would come with it at his own time, no amount of pushing would make that come faster.
Incredible.... As accursed as you Mawites are, your choice of planet to fight on is, once again, outstanding.
The NIO was all too happy to throw the Blue-Hearts where they belonged, and for being thrust into the snowy, frozen climates they held so dear to their hearts, the Free-State's Tuaths and Woads loved their Imperator ever more for it. From Hoth to Helgard, and from Csilla to Ilum, their chances of finding frost, ice and snow on campaign had been fleeting at best; but whenever the fates threw a proverbial flash in the Blue-Hearts' direction, the proverbial thunder was looking certain to follow soon after, offering snowy campaigns within months of each other on both counts. Everything about his deployment orders felt right to the Lord-Commander of the 2nd Brigade, seemingly feeling the threads of prophecy weaving around him in the very moment he decided to accept the order to mobilise on behalf of the Free-State; feeling that emotive urge, and that same distinct feeling of seeing his fate being made into the tangible woven fabric of every possible outcome, the Stormchaser would experience goosebumps like never before as the aforementioned inklings and urges felt more intense by the time his boots first sunk into Ilum's snowy surface.
'You've got that look in your eye again, Milord. And I know what that means.' Oh, if only you really did.... You'd be quivering with excitement long before ye made it here, lad.
'Ready the vehicles, we're moving up.', Erskine started, pausing when he saw the other Northern-Galidraani Captain under his command, stepping out his left-sliding door as ACV Four parked up with it's back facing the dropships. Remaining silent to allow for the vehicle's slide-door to shut behind Brand as he approached, Barran would silently get him moving at the double before resuming,'Sooner we get moving into the storm, and all the chaos that awaits, the better! There is one who we ought to meet, and there is one we ought to be careful about meeting.... Assuming our flaming-torch of an acquaintance doesn't find it in himself to show up this time, eh?', speaking loud enough that his deep, booming voice could be heard carrying itself over the rising winds.
'Now 'old on a minute, Milord.... Are you telling me that Lucien Dooku, the comm-silent conqueror of Serenno, wants a crack at the Maw? And in this frozen backwater of a planet? Seems a bit unlike 'im if you ask me-'
<"Baird to Blue-Heart Alpha! We've got eyes on multiple friendly sixes, do we patch through with anything for them yet, or...?">
'You'll get my retort after this, aw'right?', Barran replied to Brand as he stood to attention then shook his hand. Grabbing up the comm-link device, Erskine quickly made a point of responding to his Commoner-Captain, holding up a hand for Birrell and Murdoch to stop fidgeting as he said,'Barran to Guardian One! Find me some Myrmidons, man. I know Dante's here, and if Dante's here.... We know there is every chance that Lucien Dooku's here as well, but we shall see if my theory holds weight or not. After all, the last time he was spotted by anyone in the NIO - all the moffs, officers and warlords were getting drunk together on Carlac. So all the details on his plans, intentions or even his overall mood are hazy at best; we both know I practically showered the place with Cladhan bottles at the time, don't we?'
<"Fair enough, Milord. Searching for potential Myrmidon leads now. Guardian One out!">
'Right, back to the Dooku matter! Did you read the briefing papers at all? In any case, this planet has a nice array of sizeable Kyber deposits in the rocks on and beneath it's surface. And Kyber, as an element in and of itself that many covet, is most certainly going to draw in powerful foes from all corners of the galaxy - sounds to me like the ideal conditions for a Dooku to come out and play, wouldn't you say so? I know I would, as there is nothing stopping Lucien from joining the fold once again, absolutely nothing! Not on the ground or in the Grand Assembly, and what a perfect place to make that next step. Not saying that Lord, Prince or King Lucien is power-hungry to such an extent, no matter what title he retains now, but he would do well for himself if he left his mark on the Maw today, as would any New-Imperial warrior like him.... He's here, lads. I know he is!' I need to study the way he moves, I need to see how he-
And there it showed face before his eyes again, just like it did on Ziost, just like it did on Csilla, and not just flashing like a reminder of who he was at the root of it all, but searing into his retinae like a red-hot brazier of sword-fighting curiosity. Inhaling hard through his nostrils, the Lord-Commander's eyes would widen with awe-struck anticipation of what he was to expect in the following hours, with their gaze wandering to the blizzard-shrouded peaks around him, making the trademark Barran-smirk too tempting to suppress as he exhaled slowly; releasing foggy wisps into the air, the breath itself was somewhat of a meditative-catalyst in that moment, totally immersing the Woad in his natural habitat as the Northern-Galidraani officers on either side of him watched on with eyebrows raised.
Another Ideal Battlefield II - Eyes North
'Barran to Guardian One! Roughly 200 metres behind your position and gaining altitude, any joy?'
<"Not yet Milord, but ah can see- haud on.... Myrmidons on the horizon, next mountain over! Best get up here an patch through while the signal's still at peak-strength! Guardian One out!"> An' they say there's nae such thing as a perfect storm, eh? Gettin' awfy gid at this guessin'-game caper these days!
Noticing, as he climbed uphill to turn around and look back the way he'd ascended, that Ilum had something of an eerie glow to it's skies, the planet's clouds and horizons alike (made all the more intense by the occasional cloud-break that revealed stars of all colours across the wide sky above him) would instil something of a childlike wonder in the Stormchaser, caring little for how fleeting such moments usually were for him as the strange clouds opened a long corridor of calm for the people below. The eye of the storm, a perfect moment to establish a comm-link channel with the 173rd Legion, made visible by the brief respite from the blizzards, descending the mountain's eastern face at impressive-speeds; and like a swarm of hornets, it wouldn't be long before every Myrmidon had made it onto the valley floor ahead.
'First-Captain Corvus!', Barran began, hoping the signal had taken to tethering as well as he had hoped, just before hearing a recognisable double-click that had been known to the Lord-Commander for decades beforehand. Erskine had successfully patched through to the First Captain of the Myrmidons, and thus had his means of continuing as Dante had, less than a year before that moment. Having waited for what felt like too long to the Woad, the moment to retort the First-Captain had surfaced, and felt almost glorious as the Stormchaser said,'This is Lord Erskine Barran, Brigadier-General of the Free-State's military wing. My Lord-Protector has dispatched us to assist you in - cleaning out the Mawites' warfighters here! We'll do our part.... And like you expected us to do our part on Generis, we expect you to do your part in cutting them where it hurts! Blue-Heart Alpha out!' Expect my arrival shortly, Lord Dooku. My Captains can handle matters ably in my absence too, y'know.
Instinctively grasping the grip of his Vibrosword claymore, the steel would sing on it's way out of the charging-scabbard as his knuckles settled snugly into the silk that lined the sword's basket-hilt; once the blade was completely free of her sheath, Erskine would raise her lethal form overhead in time for the clouds to close overhead, then send the sword slashing down to stop and point towards the mostly-uninhabited valley below, giving the traditional cavalry-signal to march on as the Stormchaser himself slowly descended the hill on foot. Ignoring the comforts and the comm-chatter of the crewmen of the Saga, Barran would drink from his hipflask and slowly pace his way down as all the fighting power of Blue-Heart Brigade roared their engines into life and passed him by, laughing as he twisted the stopper into place and put it into his inner coat-pocket.
Day after day the Imperial Assembly chair reserved for the Warlord of Carlac had gone unoccupied as the internal conflicts boiled hotter, spitting and hissing upon the fires of those who had forgotten their places as servants rather than tyrants. The enigmatic sorcerer had not even the courtesy to send someone from his staff in his stead, or rather the energy to, it seemed in those dwindling days after Csilla. Rather than do anything to aid his recovery, thrown headlong into tumultuous thought, The Vulture had sat deep beneath the icy world in a chamber no living soul was entrusted with, in meditation. There was much for him to consider, so much to do, and not nearly enough time left in his bones for him to achieve it all at the rate he was going.
He had lurked in his darkness, allowing the mechanization of his world's day-to-day run itself as was always intended, whether helmed by his personal oversight or the hands of those to come after; he needed time.
Invoking the spirits of so many slain, wrathful souls at once had all but wasted him away after the grand show had ended and he had ultimately withdrawn his damned forces from the doomed world, retreating back to what was familiar in a galaxy which became everything but with every spiral. Times had changed. And yet, amidst his recuperation, the ever-present, watchful gaze of the hollowed, wounded ghost clinging to him had not departed. She never would.
And it was her who first murmured of ill-tidings at Ilum- a place he had struggled to forget with each passing year since his visit decades ago. He could not deny the threads that bound him back to that world, the place where so many bright-eyed padawans had ventured both before and after him, all of them blind and ignorant to what had preyed upon him in the crystalline caverns. He would be foolish to go, to commit himself to the world so soon after the heavy toll he had suffered, and even more so to dare face swelling Darkness there head-on. And yet, he was a fan of tragedy.
His own, perhaps most of all.
Decisively, he emerged from his darkened den and plucked pilots from their beds, giving the order to set off for the planet.
Stepping foot upon the precipice of fate was a deadly, consequential game, but it was he who tempted it time and time again with every overture of his life. He never would have brought his apprentice here, he decided in silence as he trekked downward into the murky depths of the caverns, escorted by a pair of uncanny, silent stormtroopers. The bloody red symbol of his military across their armor revealed they were not his enlisted, but rather his own make- and amongst the dwindling number he felt he could trust as the shadows spurred his paranoia with hushed murmurings of failure encircling him.
He could feel it, resonating through his icy blood and strumming the cords of his consciousness as he delved deeper, following the twisting lines of energy illuminating his path. Something terrible still dwelled here, its Darkness imperceivable, perhaps, to those who had not encountered it before. But it was here where he was first acquainted and here, he had chosen to go, to confront it once more. He needed answers. The undead marching beside him watched in silent indifference as he rasped and struggled to endure it, relying heavily on the walls of the cavern for support as he ventured forth down the same path he had wandered ages ago.
It beckoned him down through its depths, murmuring its siren's song as tempting as it had before. He, the one who dealt the hand of weakness upon others, felt it turn unto him. Each step forward, echoed by his soldiers', was harder and harder.
"You SHOULD NOT be here!"The voice in his mind shrieked louder than his conscience, "Kezec, please! Just go back... go back... y-you can't-" The sudden, surprising silence from her raised warning in his mind as nothing had before.
All around him he felt the crystals scream with agony, a sentiment he soon shared, as their pain bled into him and boiled his blood- raising the blackened veins hidden beneath his scarred skin to the surface. Halketh winced, pushing his agonized breaths outward through his teeth, and clutched after the electrum-plated hilt of the blade clipped to his hip as if it could offer comfort. But it too felt the agony at the source, and only served as a conduit to further his torment.
He paused, leaning heavily against the wall of the cavern, trembling in the darkness with his vision closing upon him. Sweat stuck the cloth he had forsaken his armor for to his skin, and he took a moment to steel his resolve and choke down the sickness inching up his throat.
No resistance beyond tumult through The Force had met him here.
Rarely, was it a good sign.
"Nuyak ari, buti zhol viae kia niatezi?" "My lord, is it wise to continue?" the rasping, struggled voice of one of his escorts reached him, as the slain man braced a hand against his shoulder.
An echo of his conscience, nothing more, was that question. Doubt, a seed sown by an internal hand. It would go unanswered as Halketh righted himself with what little sense he had and continued in panting silence, venturing further and further past the point of return.
He emerged in the final chamber, the same which had haunted him in his nightmares for decades, and instantly, the undead by his side leveled their weapons at the Presence lurking central. Guttural growls, unholy and deconsecrated in nature rattled from their monstrous chests, though their trigger fingers stayed when The Vulture lifted a quivering hand in a silent order. His head tilted upward and he expanded his Sight beyond, allowing the fullness of what Dark, twisted energy had taken residence in this would-be sacred place to fill his senses.
All he saw was glowing, maniacal red- the color of blood, spewing from the source and resonating around him as the crystals wept at the mere Presence alone.
"It's you," He stated, fixing his scarred features towards The Voice, Darth Solipsis
,"the grand puppeteer behind The Maw." Despite his weakness, his tone was steady and apathetic, betraying his lack of surprise at the revelation. The troopers by his side stood steady, frozen almost, with their weapons leveled in the Sith's direction until Halketh slowly lowered his hand, and they followed suit. "Why was it you who called me here?"
The blackened veins continued their rise, becoming increasingly evident as his discomfort rose and his chest grew heavier with the strain of his nigh-smothered breaths.
In the emptiness of the cavern, the snow-suffocated silence, the Jedi Knight’s words rang out loudly. Ishida blinked madly into present consciousness, ripping from her tranquil search for the right entrance.
Despite Atrisia being folded into The Core, it was still rare to hear her native tongue anywhere off her homeworld. In fact, she hadn’t heard it since she left Ashina Estate –– and thus the words that filled the cavernous entrance brought an almost startled reaction from the teen.
Her first response was only a hum at the back of her throat, putting sound to her consideration. Then she tugged down the bandana that stretched over the bottom of her face, letting it drop to hang around her neck to reveal a tight but polite smile strained across her small mouth.
He pointed out her mistaken thinking she had time to dwell in curiosity; an action that the stranger’s words reminded her was against her family’s creed. Nodding once, she indicated her comprehension, but felt a level of discomfort at how precise the observation seemed to be.
Beyond the stranger’s dialect, his choice in wardrobe also reflected the culture she’d come from. A wardrobe she hadn’t expected to see in a winter tundra. Suspicion crept along her face, tugging at the corners of her mouth and eyes before she finally spoke and slowly stood to rise, brushing off bits of ice that had collected around her legs.
Facing him now, she twisted her lips into a small swirl.
“Then, that must be the way.” She indicated, pointing toward the entrance that seemed to give way to the most shadow. “The caves are more underground. Why are you here? Aren’t you cold, Master?”
V E N O M _ S N A K E NEW IMPERIAL ORDER
STARRING | Izoshi
It wasn't a cigarra which he preferred, but he accepted her offer. Grateful in silence, listening to his partner's words as she drove the repulsor vehicle that travelled with grace across the white terrain. More vibrant than he was with her tone of voice and casual attitude, though it didn't hinder the quality of her work on the field. So long as they accomplished what they set out for and by the strict instructions, he didn't mind how she conducted herself. Being more extroverted and outgoing, however, was crucial for the Chiss due to the nature of some of her assignments. Djorn? Much more introverted, his personality unfitting for donning different disguises and identities unlike Izoshi.
"As much as I agree, there was no way we were gonna occupy Ilum. The politics would keep us back as we have the honor that damn pact we have with the Jedi and their Alliance. It's just a setback, but we can't risk everything that Tavlar has fought and bled for. One day though...that'll change and I intend on seeing it."
Finally lighting up his cigarette, slipped into his lips with fingers holding it before drawing breath into his lungs and exhaling out, the smoke so visible in the artic air.
"You had any family in Csilla? I wasn't there, but..."
But what? He wasn't there and was somewhat glad to have missed that mission. Still surprising how a cult managed to produce a weapon of mass destruction.
"Never mind that, sorry."
"I hope you've got plenty of cigarettes cause it is gonna be a long one."
Another draw at the herb.
ALLIES | NIO | Izoshi ENEMIES | MAW | GA??? | OPEN FOR INTERATCION
The skies over Celchu Starfighter Base were unusually clear, with the constant stream of airspeeders and repulsorcraft kept at bay by a security forces cordon. The massive paved landing field, normally a hive of activity as the Starfighter Corps undertook training missions and routine patrols of the Coruscant system, was barren except for a small gathering of Alliance representative who made their way from the nearby command centre to the middle of the landing field.
The senior diplomats and military officers of the Alliance were dressed in their finery, Aerarii Tithe included. His typically garish ensemble had been toned down for the day given the sensibilities of their guests. A small selection of military medals awarded to the Vice Chancellor by the New Imperial Order were carefully pinned in place, an outward sign of his support for their cause.
Upon taking up his position, Tithe’s eyes were drawn skyward. High Command had just received word that the New Imperial Order and Chiss Ascendancy vessels had cleared the orbital defences and were coming in to land. In light of the importance of the talks and recent galactic events, security around the summit was heightened, informing their choice to use the starfighter base. As highly martial societies, it was expected that the NIO and Chiss would much prefer the military base to the lavish corridors of the Senate building.
The first transport came into view. The military officers snapped to attention, while Tithe and the diplomats adopted a less rigid pose. With the violence and chaos that threatened the engulf the galaxy, there was markedly less pomp and pageantry than such an occasion would normally warrant, a reflection of the dire situation the three governments found themselves in.
But if the summit went well, it could be the first step to reversing their fortunes and once again bringing stability, and more importantly prosperity, to the galaxy.