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“The evils done to these planets by the Sith will be purged and order will be restored.”- Chancellor Chandra
The Galactic Alliance’s Stygian Campaign has cultivated much room for dialogue that supports the galactic power’s boldness and conversely, it’s foolishness. While the initial strike of the campaign was a success, the shadow of Ziost’s losses leaves an imprint on morale.
Yet, at a time where Sith and Imperials actively seek to destroy one another, the Alliance cannot be content to observe. Instead, they put into motion a response to the demand of the Triumvirate’s agreement to completely nullify this source of evil. The enemy is known. The outcomes are not, but they are hoped.
With fervent focus and on a reduced scale, the Galactic Alliance initiates a strike on two planets: Krayiss Two, like Korriban and Ziost, is considered one of the five sacred Sith planets; and Pho Ph’eah, a planet that holds a promise of destruction within its dark machines and malignant machinations.
Continuing the ancient struggle of light versus dark, the New Jedi Order’s focus on Krayiss is to answer the call of the Stygian Campaign and eliminate the evil born on this ancient planet.
Their primary objective and attention is on the highly fortified, ancient Sith Library Temple.
The Empire’s intolerance and might was brought down on the civilians of Krayiss, squashing independence and liberty. Despite the majority of the Alliance’s Defense Force being slowly withdrawn from strongholds in Sith Space, the SIA has maintained intermittently throughout.
The SIA’s presence remains to stoke the flames of the citizens, teaching them guerilla techniques and tactics for retaliation and defense and establishing safe zones. And today, the Defense Force and allied reinforcements arrive and they work with the citizens to strike back, rousing them with the call of Hope Never Dies!
Rally the peoples, equip and train them with weapons of deadly force, and descend upon the town square to put their oppressors to the barrel!
While the ground forces unite the peoples, the navy takes to the skies above Krayiss to keep the planet's airspace open in case the need for evacuation arises. Orders are not only to defend but work in collaboration with ground forces. Only the most skilled pilots have been dispatched in a small unit, but they are trusted in their ability to hold this point. Defend the planet in a coordinated assault upon sith ships who enter the sector!
Back on Coruscant, two Senate committees have adjourned to handle issues of great magnitude facing the Alliance and it’s war efforts.
The Select Committee on the Proliferation of Superweapons, consisting of Starbird Clearance level Senators, meets in private to discuss and debate the potential development of a superweapon in the wake of the Annihilation of Csilla. Meanwhile, the Defense Subcommittee on Emerging Threats makes plans for the ongoing war effort against the Brotherhood of the Maw.
Unknown to both committees, dark forces are at play in the shadows, with Senators aligned to and controlled by the Sith - and even undercover Sith themselves - have infiltrated the talks and are intent on perverting the democratic process for their own ends.
THE WARDEN THERE IS NO EMOTION, THERE IS PEACE
PROSPERITY | MEDITATION SPHERE -24:08:39 BEFORE THE ATTACK OF THE GREAT LIBRARY
Korriban had been their first venture as an Order, full of vigor. Victory had been easier to see then, at the end of the tunnel. But like all instances thereafter, it had been wrought with loss. For each victory, there was unmentionable heartache. Loss of friends, to war. Loss of sleep, to stress. Loss of laughter. Loss of confidence. Loss of control.
Many losses did not belong to him, but he felt them through the rolling tides of their shared ocean. And through all of these losses, the greatest was that which came from knowledge, and from the deep recognition that he could never un-know what he knew. So many things he wished he’d never learned, never saw, never felt. He had aged with the great weight of this knowledge. It was heavy, carving deep lines in his face, burdensome on his broad shoulders and affecting the very posture he emulated now in his meditative state.
Knowledge brought benefits too of course. Perspective, a framework in which to fit the events of his life, all their lives –– that is, a lattice of space and time coordinates spanning his existence, thei existences, back to the earliest memories (better if they were all shared or had some thread of commonality) and ahead, far beyond, to alternate futures. A framework of depths, and conundrums, and interstices, through which Asmundr could peer at any new event in his life with perspective. A lattice of shadows and corners, rolling back into the vanishing point on the horizon of his mind. And all these shadow bozes that leant such perspective to things...well..this lattice gave his life a certain darkness.
Ever since he and The Force had attained Oneness on Korriban, it had been omnipresent; adding another dimension to The Seer’s foresight. The dark didn’t hold much substance of course –– only shading to give depth to his understanding, where before it had been thing without dimension.
There were other advantages to knowledge: Rationality, etiquette, choice.
Choice, of them all, was a true double-edged sword.
It was choice that had been burdened to him to assemble the teams and their directives down to the surface of Krayiss. To the darkest of hearts. The sum of his knowledge, understanding their experiences, what they’d seen, and where they all fit in the lattices of his perspective (all the shadows, the light, the darkness), brought a certain sadness to him. A certain sense of useless, anxious apprehension that was coupled with the cloudiness of not being able to see the outcome of his choices, and the assignment and directives he’d given each of them based on the shades of his perception that gave shape to the plausible outcomes they’d manifest.
STRIKE TEAM SKYWALKER| Aaran Tafo | Ishida Ashina | Auteme
Strike Team Skywalker were the ones that showed the most potential in thwarting darkness, giving it no empathy. No quarter. Time and time again, these champions of The Light had overcome battles against evil. Where they might have lost their footing in the past, their new strongholds were fortified and unshakeable. In them, he poured his hope.
STRIKE TEAM TANO | Dagon Kaze
| Bernard of Arca
| Yula Perl
| Viers Connory
A collection of Jedi that were undeniably talented, but consumed with contradiction. Each one, he saw glistening in the networks of his psyche, as wildly valuable and worthy, but they all shared the same storms of deniability. Like lone crafts out in a typhoon, their sails only fluttered in winds that struck to tear them down and they discounted their ability to navigate. He hoped, against all odds, that they’d find harmony at least in that understanding if nothing else. And it would be enough to survive.
STRIKE TEAM KENOBI | Sol Stazi
| Starlin Rand
Strong, resilient, unbent and unbroken –– this team’s sure sightedness was enough to focus on the requirement of thwarting the collection of evils that would seek to assail and undo the Jedi. Their talent and ability to outlast, outwit, and ultimately depend on The Force would see to not only their team’s survival, but the others as well.
The responsibility for each team was great, none more so than the others, but selectively directed by his own hand.
A choice equipped with all that perspective, all that knowledge.
Silently, he uttered a whisper of pleading supplication to the infinitely patient stars.
A small gavel came down three times on the wroshyr-wood table which dominated the small committee room deep within the Senate building. The space was remarkably unremarkable, alike is almost ever way to the hundreds of similar rooms dotted throughout expansive building. Only two things gave it away as being any different to the dozens of concurrent meetings happened around them - the two Senate guards posted in the corridor outside, and the seniority of the assembled Senators.
"Yes, let's, err, get back to it," Aerarii Tithe declared. "I call to order the fourteenth session of the Selection Committee on the Proliferation of Superweapons." An ostentatious name for a group with a simple purpose - to understand what had occured at Csilla and ensure that the Galactic Alliance never against witnesses a similar catastrophe.
The Vice Chancellor cast his gaze along the table. Committee work was a proving group for new Senators and junior Representatives, an opportunity for them to cut their teeth on policy and decision making. But there was no shortage of experience today. Tithe had brought together some of the wisest, longest serving and most connected members of the Federal Assembly, irrespective of their party affiliation, to deal with this sensitive task. The decisions they made would shape the future of the Alliance's superweapon doctrine.
"Now, my esteemed colleagues, yield the floor to any reports or, ah, updates, arising since our last meeting." The work they were doing was shrouded in secrecy, lest their enemies learn the Alliance's next moves. For vital information to leak beyond these four walls could irreversible damage the Alliance's standing throughout the galaxy...
Sequestered away in another secure committee room, the Defense Subcommittee on Emerging Threats was examining the Alliance's ongoing wars with the Sith Empire and the Brotherhood of the Maw. While the two-front war kept the Alliance safe, it was also a drain on their both the treasury coffers and public support. A quick and decisive victory would have been a boon for the Chandra-Tithe administration - instead, the drawn out and bloody conflict had begun to turn even the most deeply ingrained loyalists against them.
In need of a quick end to the wars, the Senate's leading Subcommittee had adjoined to chart a path forward, unaware that one of their colleagues is little more than a conduit for the Sith to reach deep into the heart of the Alliance and make their puppets dance...
Smoke billowed from where the gateway to the library temple stood, its force field destroyed by the strafing run of Alliance dropships opening the way forward into the court of the temple for the Jedi.
They had returned.
Back to the Sith Worlds, back to the heart of darkness, the New Jedi - once more - rallied to the call of the Light against evil. It had been just months, give or take, but it had felt like a lifetime had passed since their vicious battle on Ziost. Gone were the youthful faces with innocent, bright eyes that could light a room; their youth had been stolen by this war. From Dagon to Bernard, to Ryv, to Maynard and to the many more who had bled their souls in this struggle to save the galaxy from the Sith.
And they would save it. No matter what.
As Dagon took point forward, his cerulean blade activated and raised in defiance against the sentinels of the Sith temple, he couldn't help but feel a shiver run down his spine. He had not been this close to the Dark Side since his brief fall to Bogan over Ziost; the fear did not come from neither the dark waves permeating the air and soil, neither from the red blades that would greet them but from within. He could feel his father's corruptive presence meagerly stir inside, the wicked hunger to latch onto the energies of darkness gnawed at his mind.
His jaw tightened as he saw his shadow expand into the shape of a titan, a lord of evil, that loomed over the temple before them. The shadow of Haytham Kaze.
Beyond that dread lied another layer, a thicker one; one that threatened to wipe out his resolve and zeal to ash and dust. The thought that he might face his twin brother - Aeric Kaze
- yet again. Their last encounter had led to the death of Dagon's lover. Instinctively, his mind wandered to Yula's presence beside him. Someone had told him that time is a flat circle. Everything they have done or will do they would do over and over and over again—forever.
A scowl materialized on his face contorting his features as he sought to solidify his resolve and reach for that distant, but also close, enlightening presence of his master - Asmundr Varobalder
It was time to break this circle.
"We've all shed our blood for this galaxy. We've all seen our loved ones taken away from us by this evil. We've all experienced enough loss to waver and fall but we always, always pick ourselves up - together." he was never one for speeches but the words seemingly escaped his lips. How many times had he promised that they would all return safe and sound? From Ziost to Generis to Csilla to Ossus to Sev Tok and to Nar Kreeta. The jagged path of the Jedi through the valley of darkness had been beset by all sides with the sacrifice of the righteous and goodwilled.
The blur of hyperspace could be seen from the cockpit down the hall. A hardened gaze found each of the nine men who surrounded the table. There had been more, initially. Yet all had filtered out, one by one, to return home to their families and their past. Suri didn't blame them a bit- she would have done the same, if she had anything to go back to. She and those around her were the miscreants and misfits, the outcasts and the pariahs. Despite their exile, the Alliance had found a use for them.
"So they expect us to help take a whole damn planet with minimal forces?" Cam asked with a pointed glance.
He thought her crazy for agreeing to take the job. What did he want of her? No one wanted an untried mercenary, but the Alliance knew of their past and gave them a chance, despite past mistakes. Suri gave him an unconcerned shrug.
"They'll have operatives arming the citizens as well. Our most important job is helping get things started."
"I don't know why ye' so worried, Stansy." Wyrick stated with his hearty guffaw. "We dun seen worse than this."
"We're a day out," Suri interjected before the bickering could begin. "We've taken the contract, there's nothing we can do about it now. You all have seen the plans- stick to them, memorize them, pray on them, if you have to. Tomorrow begins the revolution."
The city around them was ominously quiet. It had been a slowgoing trip with the darkness offering little vision. Suri's breaths could be heard, a slow, consistent sound- the lack of warmth was still a strange sensation. Her heart still beat in her ears, though, through whatever strange magic she had been returned with. It was akin to a clock, marking each second as it passed. Waiting, waiting for the timer.
"Is this the first place?" Cam asked from behind her.
She nodded as she looked up to the cloudcutter that rose into the sky. Entering through the doors, it seemed a normal sight, likely filled with people working in the office during the day. Yet, within the hour, it would be a wonton of destruction. Her men went to work on pillars as she looked down to her comm unit. Her message went out to the other leaders of the teams.
<<First target rigged. Moving to second. All on schedule.>>
"I don't feel good about this, Vullen." Cam said, pulling her eyes away from the screen.
"Those unprepared.." He started with a frown. "The citizens, I mean, who weren't taken by the cause.. There could just be a lot of innocent lives lost."
Suri looked to him with a deep understanding. Ever since they were kids, he had possessed the deep empathy he exhibited now. Once upon a time, it was something she admired, due to the lack of her own. That time had passed.
"It's the price we pay for tearing down an empire."
Lady Ingrid L’lerim Ragal Terassi Vandiir Eternal Empress of the Eternal Empire, Lord Commander of the Wardens of the Shroud, Leader of the Dawn of Hope
The Red Witch, The Night Queen, Lady Stuztala, Head of the House L’lerim, CEO of the HPI Consortium, Archon of the Primyn Group
Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to move in the shadows and act from there. For Ingrid, it was much better and easier than acting as an empress. In her nearly entire life she was a spy, an assassin and an agent. For her, it was best and easiest to act among the shadows. Especially in light of what has happened recently. It was better to stay in the shadows outside for a while outside of your own home. The war went on, and the woman continued what she wanted, those two things.
Ingrid tried to end the war and find allies against Bryn’adûl, even from the ranks of the enemy. She has already managed to win countless NIO and GA members, officers, politicians, Imperial Knight, or even Jedi. There were times when the site didn’t matter, just the fact of saving others. So that's why when the man contacted her she was open to discuss and negotiate with him.
The man, Kahne Porte
, was a Jedi Master; and the meeting was organized into the Krayiss system. It was later revealed that even an attack was expected in this area. So the woman hoped they could be done before the chaos started. She didn't try to lie to herself, she knew there was no chance of it, because she had never seen an example of it in her life. But hope never dies.
Arrived alone in the cantina where the meeting was arranged. She didn't bring soldiers, bodyguards, she was completely alone. She didn't even bring weapons either, well if no one counts the Soulsabers as weapons. Ingrid didn’t come to fight, just to negotiate and talk. Walked up to the right place in the VIP section of the cantina, which had been arranged earlier. Inside the room, she sat down on one of the armchairs and began reading one of the HoloNet news portals until her partner arrived.
Adrian L’lerim Terassi Vandiir Prince of the Eternal Empire, Disciple/Acolyte, assassin, sorcerer and alchemist
Uncrowned King of the Pocket Sand, Heir of the House L’lerim, Member of the Primyn Group
Why? This was Adrian's first question when he heard an attack would be launched against the Sith Library Temple. He could not have imagined greater crime against humanity, knowledge and science, a greater war crime than this. These Alliance members are nothing more than barbarians! Outrageous!
Exceptionally, he was in a place where he could read, study from so many scientific books and he was able to do experiments. Instead of these, he fell into a war again. He began to feel as if Telis Taharin-Zambrano
had intentionally sent him to places where something like this was going to happen. Although now even the new Sith Emperor was present in this place. Maybe they attacked him? Nevertheless, the young man would certainly have fled after that.
He is currently sitting in one of the libraries and sorting out the most important datacrons that he wants to take with him. Which are the ones that must surely survive and cannot be lost. To his greatest sorrow, there were too many of them. He tried to reduce the numbers to what they are in other directories. That is, on other planets, because he didn't care about them now. Fortunately, this greatly reduced the number of the books.
So it was roughly two dozen datacrons that he had to bring to safety. And these were still just what interested him. Who knows how many books will be lost if the barbarian Alliance and NIO members burn this place.
Their cloud cover broke and the HAAT gunship plunged through a maelstrom of surface fire. Jedi Master Zark San Tekka gripped a railing above his head for stability and support. Mended combat armor still scorched by old blaster fire had been repainted with the yellow markings of a 342nd Star Corps marine. Emblazoned across one pauldron was the Wren Phoenix starbird crest. His other shoulder bore tally marks carved by his lightsaber's blade. Each represented another Sith warrior vanquished in single combat. Hanging from his neck the Jedi General wore a crusader's pendant containing the fragmented kyber crystal of a Sith Lord's broken saber.
"Just like old times?" his old comrade Colonel Hal Varik shouted over the cacophonous drone of sublight engines and Sith artillery.
"Something like that!"
Decades after the uprising on Corellia where they first met Hal was now in command of the Star Corps' 97th Legion. Their marines would be joining elements of the 212th Expeditionary as well as 222nd Nova Corps deployed from the strike group far above Krayiss. Entire legions of Galactic Alliance shock troopers now followed General San Tekka's commands. While he reminisced with Colonel Varik about old strategies that might be applied here the Jedi within could sense the encroaching darkness of a world ruled by violence and fear. Now a fractured Empire, already the Sith were descending into political infighting but he knew full well that a wounded krayt dragon was even more dangerous.
Despite the oncoming storm he felt more at peace out here on the frontier than restless nights spent with the cold illusion of Core World comforts. Violence and terror engulfed the galaxy's outer reaches. He would trust his allies on Kashyyyk and Jakku to deal with alien marauders. Zark could not truly rest until the Sith's power base was broken. Yet doubts still plagued him, a voice within that whispered this was vengeance not justice. Vengeance against those who hunted the starbird to near extinction. Master San Tekka silenced those doubts as best he was able. No place for doubt on a battlefield.
Less than a dozen meters on their flank one of the Alliance troop transports took a direct hit and erupted in flames lighting up the night sky. He cursed their ill fortune but took comfort in the fervent belief those lost were now one with the Force. Zark's memories of the mist-beyond were still confused but he trusted those spirits who sought peace would find it there.
"Pilot! Land in that assembly area!"
General San Tekka summoned a holoprojection of Templestone with a few keystrokes on his forearm. Zark felt a deep sense of compassion and pity for those unfortunate souls trapped within the Sith fortress city. They gathered civilians around strategic locations ostensibly for their 'protection' but he knew they were just fodder for their Sith masters placed there to make the Jedi hesitate. As if the misery of existence as a glorified slave were not punishment enough, further tolls had been exacted upon Krayiss for daring to harbor political dissidence. He would do everything possible to preserve their lives despite whatever indoctrination had taken hold or grim designs their dark masters planned. For now the general directed his marines to land kilometers outside the city and rally for a cautious ground advance.
Breaking a Sith fortress was no simple feat. If circumstances allowed the GADF possessed enough firepower to sabotage any local shield generators and slag Templestone from orbit. For both humanitarian as well as symbolic reasons Alliance High Command wanted the city mostly intact. Of course that made him their logical choice for operational authority. While many Knights of the New Jedi Order embraced their passions Zark still relied on maintaining a detached calm. His personal feelings were only a minor part of the equation. Service. Duty. Honor. Sacrifice. These qualities factored into the Jedi Master's psyche far more.
"I've got a bad feeling about this!" Hal yelled moments before they touched down.
"Trust only in the Force."
Hal kissed the Jedi crest medallion dangling from around his own neck before securing his helmet seal. General San Tekka hid a small grin. Many of his marines were devout souls but Hal Varik was the last person in the galaxy he ever expected to find religion. These were dark times and the Church of the Force offered comfort to many. Their dropship pulled up a few meters from the surface and decelerated into a brief hover while Zark leaped off followed by the first platoon of Bacta Company. As soon as his boots touched the ground the first Galactic Alliance marine made planetfall.
Without the Force's guidance, a Jedi was adrift at sea. Solitarily caught among potent waves that pushed and pulled in all directions, most notably down, beneath dark tides. Those who did not take care to strive against them were devoured. Pulled deeper and deeper into a void that knew only to consume, and coaxed to let go of the struggle for the light of the surface in favour of the secrets that lay on the seabed. Some chose to dive beneath the waves willingly, those who strayed from the path of the Jedi, but what they soon discovered was that down there, deep below the surface, were only the skeletons of those who came before them. In truth, there were no secrets. Deep below the depths there wait merely lies and promises of powers whispered by an abyss that knows no end.
Or such was the image that Bernard held as he peered down at the gateway into the library. Another abyss to be conquered, another graveyard for bright souls. Countless Sith had likely descended into the halls of the library throughout its history, but now, perhaps for the first time in its history, Jedi would dive into its profane halls.
A lingering disquiet still stirred in his chest at the thought of it all. The events of Korriban had not shaken from his conscious mind. The guilt of it still wrapped like chains around him that left him feeling heavy in his seat. His muscles tensed and untensed, one foot tapping repeatedly against the durasteel floor. He let out a long breath, hoping to expel the emotion with it, but the feeling lingered as a tightness where his heart beat.
This time things should be different. He wasn't on the team that would move inside the library, nor would he be all on his own behind enemy lines like last time. With him on the gunship were the other Jedi of Strike Team Tano. Dagon and Yula, two he'd worked with before on Nar Kreena, and a new face, Viers Connory. He was still getting used to working in a team, or alongside anyone for that matter. Korriban had taught him that working alone was more dangerous than he had thought. Nar Kreena had unmistakably proven the necessity of it when he'd nearly died the moment his lone wolf manoeuvre went sideways. Then on Muunilinst he'd made his first steps towards actively working with someone.
Starlin’s eyebrows rose as he viewed the smoldering remains of the gateway. Somewhere ahead of him, New Jedi strike teams had already assembled and were launching an assault on the Sith library proper.
“Well, I gotta hand it to the Alliance—y’all do know how to wage war, from a tactical standpoint.”
Nimdok was busy and had sent Jaina off on some mission. So Starlin was alone, which was nothing new for him. For now he opted to follow the NJO’s lead, back them up from the rear and keep the Dark from biting their heels.
As he leaped over the rubble, he was immediately faced with a gaggle of Sith troops. A dark green blade erupted from his hands. It was a new weapon—well, technically not new, since he’d had it for a while, but he’d never felt confident enough in his skill with it until now.
Emerald light bathed the gray and black armor of the Sith as he fell into the Form 6 kata his first master had taught him, swift and lethally accurate. Then, in the middle of an upward swing, he activated the second blade by surprise and went nuts. His attacks became even faster and more vicious, slicing through the Sith ranks, searing them down to the bone in a furious flurry.
When the last of them lay dead, he didn’t pause for even a moment to admire his handiwork. Nobody was around to see it and be impressed anyway. He simply deactivated the second blade and pressed on, tracing the footsteps of the other Jedi as he made his way through the library complex...
Pantora. That was the last time Yula had willingly set foot into Sith space. Right now, she was acutely reminded of how the dark side had a nasty habit of sneaking into every crack and crevice, seeping into a planet’s core. It was strong on Krayiss, too. Strong enough for idle tendrils of darkness to brush against her mind, distantly seductive. It made the light inside her—the one she barely paid attention to—coil and retch like a sickness.
Is this what Kyra and Nida felt? Is this what they went through?
Yula was used to making her jabs from the sidelines, but her baby sisters, who’d tried desperately to serve the light, were turned on to the frontlines as teenagers. Children. Just kids. Wide eye and determined, but terrified no doubt, given how well she knew them. They’d become tangled in the darkness of war and lost limbs, scarred and marred by the brutality of the galaxy at a tender age. An age where Yula was raiding, smuggling, and following the current of the galaxy wherever it took her like a galactic hippie.
...should have been me it should have been me it should have been-
A storm of guilt and shame had been roiling inside her ever since Nida’s fall. Who was she to call herself a part of the Perl family, to deserve their love and dedication if she hadn’t even lifted a finger to protect them?
She felt Dagon’s eyes on her, however brief.
He was like them—dedicated to the light. For Dagon, maybe it was to a fault. She’d traced the scars running along his body a hundred times over. Sometimes he’d tell her how he’d gotten them, other times they’d bathe in somber silence.
Maybe their reasons for being here, on the precipice of a Sith temple, weren’t so different.
A scowl contorted his features, a familiar expression from their previous battles. She’d gotten used to seeing it, to feeling the cycle of struggle and resolve emanate from him like yin and yang. He never talked about it. Fortunately, the Jedi Masters dotted the hellscape of Krayiss like beacons of light, serving as lanterns that would guide the less experienced Jedi back to some semblance of stability.
She placed a hand on Dagon’s shoulder and imparted a brief squeeze.
“I got your back, remember?”
Her hand dropped back to her side, curling around the hilt of her lightsaber. It wasn’t technically her own, so much as it had been a gift from her Uncle Dax.
There wasn’t much room in Yula for inspiring speeches. Instead, she idly nodded along and looked to the others who’d been sorted into Strike Team Tano -- Bernard, the Arkanian from the assault on Nar Kreeta, and a young woman who she did not know, but who surely would not be here had she not been apt. Their mission was to serve as a distraction, supporting Team Skywalker to their goal. She gave the ragtag team a thumbs up.
“Let’s try not to mess this up, yeah?”
Her smile was weary and it didn’t quite reach her eyes, but it was there.
"You heard Starchaser! We hold the Jedi's extraction point until this library is a pile of ash."
Major Stazi of the elite Galactic Alliance Pathfinders directed troopers in assembling hasty fortifications the way a construction foreman might oversee a deflector shield generator installation at the Coronet shipyards. He'd carried the starbird into battle on hundreds of worlds. If the darkside presence which surrounded the grim Sith portal caused him any discomfort or unease the duros commando showed no signs of it. This was hardly the first stronghold he'd toppled nor the most impressive.
With a grunt of effort Sol helped a pair of troopers swivel an E-Web platform on its axis until it was no longer pointing at the library threshold's charred remains. Ancient Sith pass phrases were nothing a little superior firepower couldn't handle. They realigned the emplacement until it provided a new firing arc which enveloped the canyon wastes of rural Krayiss. Nearby others were digging foxholes or shallow dirt trench lines. Spools of razor wire were beginning to cover the outer perimeter, a simple but effective tool at warding off Sith melee advance lest they risk exposing themselves by leaping toward an enemy with control of the high ground.
Sol hoisted himself up over the embankment providing natural cover for his heavy weapons crew. He marked a crude outline of their tactical position on his datapad and waved over the unit's comm officer. Hydraulics in his legs strained as he bent to lean over their signal booster so he could punch through any wide spectrum jamming with a message bound for orbit.
"HIGHCOM this is Eclipse Actual. Operation Wayseeker complete. Strike Team Kenobi is digging in and waiting for the big bang."
Jedi Knights needed little assistance tracking the Sith library down from the likes of Major Stazi and his scouts however navigating the harsh terrain behind enemy lines and taking the Sith Empire unawares was something of a specialty for pathfinders. Now that they had seized control of the entrance it was Sol's mission objective to hold this ground for as long as possible while the other strike teams and their assigned troopers stormed the gates. He did not intend to disappoint.
"Never was a fan of Sith art," Stazi lit a cigarra and gazed up at the obelisk which marked unholy ground, "Prep some thermal detonators. We'll blow it up on our way out."
1-- The commander tugged at the fabric around her collar, the edges of two blue flaps now joining together. 2-- She secured her belt, then moved on to give the uniform’s skirt a quick pull, unfolding the wrinkles. 3-- She began a slow sequence of deep breaths, inhaling for three seconds, and exhaling for the same. 4-- She stood at full attention-- a single hand distracted from the posture while she tried to maintain the position of her cane. Thought standing at the mercy of an uncaring destiny, she made the promise that there wouldn’t be another Ziost, another Namadii Corridor, nor another Csilla. But her promise would have to be tested soon enough, too soon, in fact, for any sense of comfort to manifest itself.
She wished she could have prepared. Prepared for the coming storms and weathering, and all the harm destined to befall upon her. But, if her own life told her anything, the universe was never so fair, at least, not to the living and breathing bad luck charm known as Teica Giraan.
And before she could at least establish her bearings, the blue tunnel of hyperspace faded into black, blue and white hues all but lost behind the stars and a merciless void.
The seeds of rebellion had been sown below. All that would be left would be the cultivation of the garden. With this in mind, the Alliance continued to move in, driven by promises of salvation, and the hope of the Sith’s downfall. Teica’s motivations, as far as anyone else was concerned, would be the same. Though, a voice continued to whisper in her ear. It called her selfish, cowardly, even useless. It called her a failure, one still hell-bent on unattainable revenge. It called her a danger, a woman whose very existence brought pain and suffering everywhere she walked. She shook her head, But never went so far as to deny it all.
And that terrified her more than the Sith could ever hope to.
. . .
“Next batch, One half ion missiles- target enemy capital ships. One quarter assault concussion- open fire when we’ve taken shields down. Target main batteries first, move on to engine arrays, and finish off with hangers. One eighth with ion missiles as well, target enemy support ships. Load the other launchers with diamond borons, scatter along enemy fighter screens.”
“Aye ma’am, first batch fired, Second batch loading.”
Another volley escaped the Epilogue’s sides; the warheads at first gliding mere meters away from their parent vessel, before splitting off to crash into each programmed target. The frigate herself cut power to engines for the briefest of moments, while she began to nestle into the organizing Alliance flotilla. A smoothened bow stared straight into the enemy defense fleet, while the vessel’s surfaces continued the dispatch of missiles, and coordinated sensor pings.
A salvo now splattered across a Sith cruiser’s shields, particles thrown in all directions and dispersing along the energy barrier, while the ion warheads were reduced to fragments. Surrounded by distractions and violence, shuttles and transports alike departed the wide hangers that housed them, and began to integrate into the crowd of starfighters, approaching the ground below where they would reinforce those already on the surface. Just alongside, the small Alliance formation-- a mere four flotillas able to be expended-- converged on Krayiss below. The Epilogue herself let engines die down, bringing her own targeting silhouette behind the armor and weapons screens of a larger star defender.
The opening attack would need to be quick, and equally as brutal, while the Alliance claimed air superiority; lest they end up facing a less sparing Sith force behind them. But four flotillas wouldn't have such a hope, much less ones demoralized from the strikes on Ziost. Yet, they had returned, knowing full well what the risks would be.
They would take the planet's orbit, its air, and finally its surface.
Teica bit her tongue, intent eyes all but lost in the viewscreen and the limited clarity it provided. From her spot at the head of the bridge, she watched the turbolaser salvos starting to escape the Epilogue’s turrets, watched her complement of interceptors tearing at their attackers, while the missiles continued to exit and fade in short bursts of glory. So many times had she seen those very images, that the sights warped into twisted melodies. Just as they had over and over again, the images contorted into darkened lullabies that became the backdrop of her nightmares, and tore at the walls of her mind.
But here she was, driven by a promise to make the enemy pay for their crimes, and all the damage they had inflicted upon her. Teica would tear the Sith’s empire apart from the inside, would decimate their tools of war, and would finally shatter the cycle of pain that had hurt so many others.
"Start the countdown, Set Thirty minutes! And prep turbolasers for orbital strike!"
And so, it began.
-Expect interdictors in the Alliance fleet active, as to delay incoming hostiles, and to keep the current defense fleet here.
-Four Alliance flotillas for now(32 ships or so)
While the Wayseeking Starchaser had been working around the Unknown Regions and the former Outer Rim Coalition space to secure Jedi teachings, and research found from the Judges and the Jedi on the Rim. The Force was an interesting beast and there had been much more to it the conflict than the martial prowess of the dark and the light. It was true, Coren did believe he may be one of the only to match Carnifex
as he terrorized the galaxy at large, the pair would consistently find themselves at odds and evenly matched.
The Force, however, may have been testing them both. While Coren had begun learning some of the secrets of Allyan Magick and the approach to the Dathomir, he was making his way deeper into the history of the Jedi, including this era of time called ‘the High Republic.’ But anyone who was a student of Starchaser knew he was fascinated with the legend of Luke Skywalker. And that was what the Corellian worked to emulate.
Today, however, he had received word from old friends, and old contacts. A strike force was being put together to strike at Krayiss, the location of a Sith library. Now, the approach of a Warden of the Order and a Wayseeker were very different than what he was used to being, the one at the forefront of the war. But this, this was Sith and Jedi. If he could get his hands on any of the relics, a holocron, perhaps he could help to turn the tide. The Light Side was not the opposite of the Dark Side and it wasn’t weak.
Hearing the call for soldiers and Jedi, the Starchaser had linked up with an old friend on the way to Krayliss.
Calling in an old favor, meaning an X-Wing squadron of Sullustans lead by none other than Cuan Kunn
had escorted Strike Team Kenobi to the surface. The Alliance was here, and they were going to be buying the other teams time to complete their mission. “Stazi, you need to hold this doorway.” With his own feet on the ground, and the mighty thoughts of being a Starchaser in hand, the Jedi Master made his way towards the entrance.
And that was when he felt it, not a need to go in, no, a need to be here. Turning, the Jedi Master regarded one of his trusted soldiers. “Something is on its way.” The Wayseeker had his hand find the lightsaber on his hip. Holding it, he surveyed the yard, where soldiers were prepping. “Cuan, keep eyes on us.” He was reaching to any of the other Jedi nearby.
"How the horrible alien alignment of the Lightside burns my skin cells." The Nightsister Priestess stood on the edge of the Nether Realm and bridged between existence as she watched the people of the Senate traverse the halls to their Top Secret gathering. Unlike those unworthy to behold secrets, the Nightsisters' Jinn don't ever lie to them, for they know better. Told secrets, they did indeed! The Wanica, twelve spirits ancestral to Pom Stych Tivé's Dathomiri bloodline stood beside the Matriarch and studied the scene unfolding within the Galactic Senate. 'There be nothing galactic about it. Tis certainly not all inclusive,' she pondered.
"You can go and stand in the place of another," whispered the voices of the Coven hidden with her behind the veil, out of sight and senses of the living. The Wanica levitated an ornate potion vile before them.
"She is so beautiful! Labored over just perfectly for such a splendidly wicked ordeal." another Nightsister among the Coven marveled at the spectacular tincture.
"All we have to do is pick one," the fiendish spirit guided.
"Another seemingly insignificant wallflower, just like you."
"See the quiet one, nobody is talking to."
"She walks alone."
"She is newly appointed, an unknown!"
"Our Jinn reveal truth," marveled Pom Stych Tivé. She reached for the vial gingerly. Her fingertips never touching the crudely formed glass. It hovered just out of reach, and it began to glow vibrant.
The Coven reached out to one another, their energies mingling. Pom twirled her neck before tossing her head back. The Wanica began to fade, as their Matriarch allowed them to conjoin once again to her being. One by one they trailed through the darkness, and crept into Pom's mouth. The last to join her, first foretold, "We will be your insight."
In the corridor, her prey would feel a lite brushing through the locks of her hair, as the Nightsister breached the physical and the ethereal. She would seeming be nothing more than a fleeting phantasm to her target. Pom removed the cork topper to the potion vial and sifted a few strands of hair ripped from the head of her victim into the bottle. The potion fizzed. The Darkness of the Nether swallowed up what would otherwise have been a magnificent blinding light.
The Nightsister floated effortlessly alongside her prey and watched as the unsuspecting Senator ran her fingertips into her hairline along her scalp at the nape of her neck; curiosity caused the young woman to enter into a private refresher. There the Nightsister reached through the veil and captured the Senator into her absolute Darkness.
At first, so it seems.
Trapped there by Elementals carrying out the Nightsisters' bidding.
Then observational sensations, then of pain, leading to terror.
The epitome of True Darkness.
Stepping herself into the physical realm, Pom threw back a portion of her potion, capping the remainder. As the potion absorbed into her blood stream, her body underwent an incredibly agonizing transformation. She fought masterfully to refrain from crying out in her anguish. Her body physically transformed from the beautiful, slender, and age defying seductress she is, into the more political minded persona of the elected Senator.
In nothing more than a matter of minutes, the transformation had completed. The Nightsister stood bent over the wash basin, tears of pain having uncontrollably streamed from her eyes. She washed her face and examined the thoroughness of the handiwork. She fixed her make-up, then placed drops into her eyes to clear blood from the whites. She could not deny that seeing her reflection in the mirror as someone else entirely, it felt irksome, and she is a vain one to begin with, deservedly so. She had never personally ingested such a potion before, but is well educated on the rules of its capabilities and limitations.
"You could fool her own Mother," whipped through her thoughts.
Everything set into place, her physical features, attire…her aura. Pom already knew how to portray the shy carriage of the Senator, from her own years as a naive and uncertain youth, plus the Wanica shall fill her in on details and dealings through whisperings from the Jinn when necessary.
Pom took up and clung the Senators Datapad to her chest just as the other woman had. The Nightsisters' suede Bag of Conjuring secured at her side, tucked beneath her long robe, and the ring upon her finger, the only difference between the two women. The Senator herself, remained trapped in the obscurity of Limbo.
At the entrance to the meeting, she took to her assigned position, once a small town girl, now Preylith T'dishon, the newest Senator of Azbrian's farming sector.
'Oh how they must rave over your accomplishments, my dear!' The Nightsister and she do truly have a bit in common, each fighting their way out of the minuscule provincial lifestyle they were born unto.
Immediately the Vice Chancellor began to interrogate those in the room. One by one they obediently spoke around the board table. Many topics were put to the floor. Senators spoke of what they learned about the science behind the power supplied by such a superweapon. They spoke about the resources necessary to build and run such a weapon. They spoke about fears, and rumors. How many people would be required to man it. Numerous ways it could have operated in which Csilla might have been destroyed. In addition to their contacts, alliances formed since, they mentioned how they could pull together as one stronghold in assistance for the helpless people. Pom silently studied the requisition on her datapad, supply requests recently made by the Vice Chancellor upon Preylith T'dishon's own people.
When the expectation to offer something next fell on this imposter, the voices of Legion inside her mind determined her best answer, "Um…" Pom shook her head in a somber manner. "simple farming is our main resource on Azbrian. We don't possess much on ships, but those we do have, our citizens are more than willing to man up in this fight. We have reopened old mining operations, and I offer any and all of our available mining resources. I will personally see to it, they are productive and ready to be put to fabricating any armaments required. You just set the date, and I will have them waiting for you. My planet doesn't come across as any prime vacation spot, nor alluring to those of questionable character; but our citizens' eyes are open towards any such developments. We also have just sent out assistance in perishable foods to refugee outposts." Of course none of what she spoke is true. When the GA comes for armor, there shall be none for the soldiers. Since Pom said she sent food to the outposts from a farming system, surely they shall believe her, and in turn will stall their own shipments until a later date, and thus the traitors to the Sith will starve waiting! "Azbrian opens her arms to any desiring to dwell among us during these tough times."
'Holy Fanged God!' she thought to herself, feigning a lite smile of concern towards the one seated next to her, while she listened attentively to what the next Senator would speak. It even feels like internal weakness just to pretend such a statement on compassion is coming from her own blackened heart!
In all of it, Pom secretly wondered, 'Might they be privy to Malsheem? To the Kainate's alliance with the Brotherhood of the Maw?' when the answer came to her, "Maybe…just maybe" spoke up a lesser vocal spirit within the mind of the Nightsister Matriarch, "we can arrange to be leading these creatures to our planets, and have Malsheem meet with them in kind."
Faith scanned the article one more time on what this committee was to do, they were the Defense Subcommittee on Emerging Threats to examine the Alliance's ongoing wars with the Sith Empire and the Brotherhood of the Maw.
Ongoing war, yes it was an ongoing war one that the GA never knew when or where it would rear it's ugly head. All indications though were it wasn't to stop anytime soon. It was hard to witness the bloodshed, the unending toll upon resources, family, governments, and the people. Where would they finally say it is enough? Was there really a point where that happened?
How many generations had sat in this same position, agonizing over the same questions, and what were their conclusions?
She sent Becca out to research, and then waited upon others to join. Refreshments waited for them, it would be a discussion which would most certainly take their breath, try their patience, and take time to reach a decision.
Oh goodness she thought How I hate war. The sadness in talking with the families who had lost members to the war I don't know what to say, I'm sorry just doesn't seem enough. I feel it in my soul a sadness that has bound and wound itself around everything with glimmers of hope that one day it will end.
Objective: Defend the Krayiss Temple Library Location: Rushing to the breach Equipment:Lightsaber Allies: TSE Enemies: GA / NIO Tags: ------------------------------------
"Everyone to the entrance now! The defilers go no further than the gateway!" Usually Alisteri would save shouting orders for the officers and higher ranking Sith, but right now they had little time for such formalities. He spurred the defenders forward, joining in with them as they ran to be the first line against the oncoming Jedi menace. Down the dim halls where silence once reigned were now loud with running boots and the readying of weaponry. He doubted there was any spot left in the library that couldn't hear it.
Krayiss Two was sacred.
It was a dark home of the Sith, a bastion of the dark and yet it was not safe from the heretics that called themselves 'saviors' and 'liberators.' Just like Korriban and Ziost before it, the holy planet would have to be defended by the faithful. Their enemy had no respect for hallowed ground, but the grounds of the Sith always welcomed blood rather than shy away from it.
And blood would be spilled.
So much blood.
Alisteri had been on Korriban. had fought against the Jedi to keep that world sacred as well. They had lost Korriban, but they would not fail Krayiss. Not again, never again. Even if he had to storm all the way up to the battle in orbit himself just to keep the temple from being defiled then he would. No mercy would be given, no quarter, they had chosen to disgrace a world of darkness. And the darkness would swallow them whole. As always, their hubris shall be their undoing. Fething Jedi scum.
They would come to regret this day, and the masked Acolyte was eager to assist in such. "Forward! To the breach!"
Knock knock knock came the gavel down, the small committee chamber echoed as the Vice Chancellor summoned the attentions of the assembled senators. The Epochian knew all too well the importance of this meeting, Csilla had been just the beginning and any threat to the sovereignty of the Galactic Alliance or any free-thinking peoples within the galaxy proper had to be met with equal force if they were to have any chance of protecting everything they held dear.
"Yes, let's, err, get back to it,"Aerarii Tithe declared. "I call to order the fourteenth session of the Selection Committee on the Proliferation of Superweapons."
The former Jedi Knight comfortably looked on from his seated position as his fellow committee members quieted down and focused their assembled attentions to Tithe. The seniority that sat within this room truly held the weight of the proposal they sought to push, with heavy hearts and time sensitive information they would inevitably push legislation forward or be foiled by the very democratic ways they sought to protect. There were bound to be those who questioned the morality of such a sensitive topic, yet the ends justified the means with a group as savage as the Brotherhood of the Maw capable of creating superweapons with the ability to destroy an entire planet, the game had been irreversibly changed.
"Now, my esteemed colleagues, yield the floor to any reports or, ah, updates, arising since our last meeting."
The Elder set aside his gaze and adjusted his assembled files, moving his datapad into ready view for his summary. Fossk had been a busy bee since receiving the invite to this honored committee, assembling the best and brightest minds at the Epoch Engineering Corporation under the pretense of putting together a proposal for the proliferation of a Galactic Alliance sanctioned superweapon. A daunting task for any governmental body let alone a corporation, yet despite the difficulty and short time frame provided they had done their work diligently.
Senator Fossk's eyes widened following the sound of the voice to it's source with a purposeful glare. His full attention fell upon the individual with curiosity and interest.
"simple farming is our main resource on Azbrian. We don't possess much on ships, but those we do have, our citizens are more than willing to man up in this fight. We have reopened old mining operations, and I offer any and all of our available mining resources. I will personally see to it, they are productive and ready to be put to fabricating any armaments required. You just set the date, and I will have them waiting for you. My planet doesn't come across as any prime vacation spot, nor alluring to those of questionable character; but our citizens' eyes are open towards any such developments. We also have just sent out assistance in perishable foods to refugee outposts."
His hands clasped together and softly clapped away as he rose to his feet.
"Well met, Senator T'dishon."
Both hands gripped the edge before him as an air of severity fell upon his brow, "Many of you know me for my past history with the Jedi Order, as Senator of Epoch I am blessed to have such esteemed colleagues to work with side by side in this difficult time for our nation and galaxy altogether." The Elder stretched his back and arched himself back into a straight postured stance, "I love democracy."
His eyes scanned the horizon along the small chamber's edge and let his sorrowful gaze wash over each and every delegate within his view, "The tragedy of Csilla must not be repeated. This legislation we seek to push on, this committee gathered before me.. has the heaviest of burdens to weigh. The power to destroy a planet is not a power wielded lightly, yet whether we step up to the plate or not it will continue. We must fight fire with fire, either out of deterrence or as a safeguard to our freedoms before it is too late. This crisis must be answered in kind."
Slowly reaching for his datapad he began to cast the proposed designs drawn up by the Epoch Engineering Corporation, designs meticulously thought out and calculated by the brightest minds his homeworld had to offer. Their overall calculations were spot on, almost as if they had previous formula to draw from.
"I swore an oath so long ago to protect and serve the Will of the Force. Our campaign in the Stygian Caldera is just, let this decision to build a safeguard against these heathen be no different. They are not an enemy we can simply destroy, they are an idea. An infectious parasite that grips hold of the mind and washes away pure thought, if we are to defeat the enemy. We must show them they mean nothing compared to the resolve of the Starbird and the free peoples that stand behind it!"
The venture itself wasn't so bad, Gala had her doubts of course. She always did, more like an overbearing mother than a droid to be quite honest. His ship docked in the proper channels and he hoped this meeting would take to long. For he knew what was about to transpire here. On this particular occasion, Kahne wasn't here to fight. If necessary he would of course, but that was a last resort. There was other things he wished to speak about or perhaps even learn about. This meeting with the lady of the Empire would definitely shed light on some things that were on his mind. It was first Ripley who invited him to Coruscant and she had her own issues that were about and he intended to find out what exactly she meant and what was going on.
The Jedi donned the standardized suit of the New Jedi Order and his lightsaber just clipped to his belt as he left his ship chuckling slightly after hearing the distressed beeps coming from his astro droid.
Kahne did have to clarify prior that he had just returned to Coruscant and while these were negotiations, that's unfortunately all they would be for now. The Jedi having just returned did have to reintegrate with this New Jedi Order and find his place among them and that in itself was part of the challenge. If things were as off as they sounded, then Kahne had a lot of work to do.
The Guardian entered the Cantina and made his way towards the VIP room and thus she came into sight.
"Lady Ingrid, I apologize. I trust you weren't waiting very long." Kahne showed a warm smile as he extended his hand towards her. "Kahne Porte, formally...... its good to finally meet you in person. As I'm sure you are aware time is against us, I hope nothing disturbs our talks."
"Do you think they will accomplish anything, Master?"
Adrimos Fasoyor, Senator representing the industrial world of Metellos, pulled nervously at the collar of his senatorial uniform. Beads of sweat rolled down his forehead and cheeks, his anxiety impossible to miss even for the most socially stunted. He was scared, not scared of the being in front of him, no, that itself was rapture and bliss. He was scared of being discovered, that insatiable gnawing terror chewing where his spinal cord met his skull.
He knew what would happen if he was discovered. He would lose everything he had gained, naturally. He would be stripped of his rank, made a mockery by his peers, and suffer the indignity of imprisonment and possibly state-sanctioned death. His family would never be able to partake in high galactic society ever again, and his children would curse and spit at the mention of his name for as long as it remained in memory.
But that wasn't the reason why fear plagued him.
It was fear that he would fail his dark Master.
Long had he devoted himself to the teachings of the Great One, he'd read the scripture dozens of times and memorized many verses of his catechisms. His wife was almost as devout as he, but he knew that in his heart she was not a true believer. His children were slightly better, they recited the blessings of their terrible and awesome Lord every night without fail. But they were babes, he doubted they truly comprehended what they were speaking.
So it fell upon him, his Lord's devout servant, to carry out his will where he could. Though it pained him, he suppressed his devotion and had made many public denunciations of the Sith and their barbarity. He had sponsored whatever bill he could find that was even the slightest fraction of anti-Sith in nature, exercising his influence within the Galactic Senate to garner the reputation of a hardline anti-Sith politician and a friend to the military and the Jedi.
At night he ritually flogged himself, embracing pain and suffering as it was instructed in the scripture. He kept himself knowledgeable about everything the Sith did, especially the actions of his Master. Publically, this was to keep a record of all of the Sith's atrocities, but privately he venerated each murder, each violation of peace. Oh, how he prayed to his Lord to grant him the great gift of the Dark Side, to show him the path to true enlightenment that only a Sith could comprehend. But he was an instrument, he held no illusions of such, he would never taste such sweet delight. He would do as his Master instructed, without complaint or hesitation, and would live and die at his decree.
"They will accomplish what they will," replied the Great One after a breath of silence, his voice reverberating through Adrimos' body like a baritone tremor. "It matters not, they cannot put an end to what has been unleashed." As always, his Master was wise beyond wise and knew far better than he. He bowed deeply, but respectfully, he did not grovel like so many of his Master's supplicants were want to do. He knew that the Master was disdainful of such mewling creatures.
"It is ready."
The Master moved from the shadows, and Adrimos could only marvel. Gone was the herculean countenance that was so frequently associated with the warrior-king's physique, he had slimmed down and lost several feet of height. His black hair had been replaced by brown curls, his burning eyes swept aside for ocean blue pupils, and his patricians features chiseled down to something far more plebian. Adrimos had no comprehension of Nightsister Magick, which was far beyond his scope as a tool of his Lord's will, but he did understand what the ritual was called.
"The Mimicry is flawless, Great One. I doubt they will see through such masterful spellwork."
Darth Carnifex, wearing the form of a lowly Senate page, allowed the faintest of smiles to curl his lips.