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Lortans every day felt the remnants of history that plagued their home world. Some felt ashamed of the battle that had laid siege to the home and killed many innocent lives. Others, like the remnants of a couple of religious fanatics, felt angered by the failure of the Reslian Purge. It was those remnant seeds that would cause Lorta to suddenly be plunged into a world of darkness.
Lorta would fall dark to the planets that surrounded it and all forms of communication would go unanswered. Fearing the worst, that the fanatics would give rise to another murderous crusade, the neighbouring planets would enlist the help of the Confederates. Little did they know that they would be setting down upon a land that had been cursed. Cursed to an unseen civil war and a never ending slumber for individuals who felt connected to the Force. For the Seeds of the fanatics had been planted and they were not going to let force users stop them this time. Their second coming would happen, this they were sure of.
Upon setting down on the central landmass which covers the tropical jungle that surrounds you, a small village can be seen. However, it wouldn't take long for the effects of the area to set upon the force sensitive settlers as they traverse the town's streets. Jedi and sith alike finding themselves to fall unconscious with only those who practise witch magic and non force users seeming to escape the effects. They would, however, notice the odd Lortan who would suddenly close the shutters to their small houses as if to hide from the newcomers. From time to time, the Confederates would also see an odd Lortan, one who appeared to be sleeping. It was as if they had simply laid their head down upon the street and fallen into a deep slumber. One they were yet to wake from. If anyone were to check their pulse, some would still be alive, but others would be dead.
Then the mysterious and unknown effects of a seemingly invisible illness would affect the force users of the group. They would feel the effects of slumber and against their will, slowly they too would lay their heads down and fall into an apparent eternal slumber. A slumber where they would be able to see the truth behind the sleeping figures. Ghosts would be fighting those who refused to join the cause of the force ghosts that belonged to the fanatics of the Reslian Purge. This war can only be seen by the force users affected and although the witches may be able to sense their presence, they won’t be able to see it. Any force user who dies while in this ghostly form, will also witness the death of their physical body. A horror which has taken several Lortan lives already.
How did this all start? With five live fanatics that had withdrawn into a hidden temple deep within the tropical forest and performed a ritual. A ritual that would only affect force users, while witches and non force users would go unaffected.
Force users are to stem the tide of Force Ghosts of the fanatics that are performing all kinds of torturous acts upon the village force users that are affected by the ritual. Save their lives and make sure that no other villager loses their life. The force users are their first line of defense against the civil war that these ghosts of long dead fanatics are waging.
In order to awaken the force users that have succumbed to the ritual; the witches and non force users must seek out the temple, kill the fanatics and disrupt the ritual. Be careful, for the powers of the ritual are strong. Kill the four fanatics that bolster the power, before killing the one holding the seat of the power, otherwise it may just swallow up the entire planet and all of the residents, only to be thrown into the netherworld where it will be lost to all.
Go! Explore and maybe, just maybe; if you’re a force user, you may get to see the ghosts of friends and loved ones lost while your physical body slumbers. Make sure to defend them or risk losing them forever.
Gerwald tossed the datapad which contained the mission briefing onto the desk. The more of it he read, the more the lupine had wished he had never learned to read and write. Alwine had insisted that he needed to learn the excruciatingly monotonous skills, and perhaps she had been correct. Who would have ever imagined a Lord Commander that could not read or write? Then again, Voph had been the previous Lord Commander, and he technically had no eyes.
The office aboard the Obsidian Star was quaint, nothing fancy. It was enough to get the work done the lupine needed to do when he was traveling. Today was no different than that. Lorta had been a world just outside of Confederate space, which had not been a world Gerwald remembered being part of their expansion plans. In fact the Lupine had thought the Vicelord had no plans to expand the Confederate influence on the galaxy. It seemed this had been a special request.
Force users were going quiet. They were going silent. This was something which required the Confederacy’s elite force user organization. The wolf pinched the bridge of his nose as he paused. Reaching for the ring which hung from his neck, Gerwald reminded himself of the reasons why this was not a position he had ever coveted. If something was taking force users, and force sensitives, out of commission on Lorta, Gerwald was sending all of them into a compromised position. It was an order he hated giving, but he would be the first to land. First on the surface, last to leave it. Gerwald had always led that way, and it did not change because he was the Lord Commander. This was his duty.
She would be proud.
At least that was what Gerwald continued to tell himself. In truth, he did not know what Naedira would say. She had always told him he could lead, that he could be whatever he wanted to be. The woman had always seen the potential inside him, and she had always pushed for him to reach it. Gerwald had always wished she could have lived to see it, and be there for those moments which had impacted his journey. If only her death had not been one of those moments.
Would he have become the leader he was without it? It was a question Gerwald refused to dwell on. If it was meant to be, then it would have happened regardless.
A sigh escaped his lips as he sent a communication to Kiff Brayde
and Ruus Kote
. It did not matter what they were facing, if all force users were being taken out then everyone needed to know. The Minister of War needed to organize the droid army, and the Knights needed those they could count on to protect them from whatever it was they would face. That was where Ruus came in. If the Knights passed out and fell asleep like the others, Strill would need to protect their bodies.
Lorta is compromised. Our presence has been requested. Force users are compromised. Your assistance is required.
“First on… last to leave,” Gerwald said to himself as the ship landed on the surface.
A contingency of Knights accompanied him. Gerwald almost expected to see the effects to take control the moment his feet touched the surface. They did not. He managed to walk the surface of the planet for some time before a sudden feeling of lightheadedness took control.
That was when something too familiar, a feeling and sensation which haunted Gerwald in his dreams, washed over him.
Darkness. Cold. Damp. Everything which should not have been there was. He was awake, alive, and yet the sensation that seemed to surround the thing which chased him in his sleep, the devourer, overtook him. Gerwald collapsed. His body went limp, and yet he was still standing, looking at himself.
“So this is what is happening,” Gerwald said out loud.
His eyes saw what he could not before. There was a battle raging around them, one beyond the physical. Force Ghosts battled for control of Lorta, and at the heart of it, Gerwald could feel the influence of the dark ritual which was raging in what was the eye of the storm. If he could feel the lingering presence of the ghosts, if the Nocna Mora was there…
The wolf wondered allowed, unsure if she would be present. Yet, Gerwald knew, this was her realm, it was somewhere between worlds where she would be trapped. He reached for the ring. It was still there. If she was there, would she be able to help them fight? A smile pulled at Gerwald’s lips as he hoped for it to be so.
“If you’re here… we’ve got some enemies to kill.”
Felix had heard that Lorta had a secret, that the dead here could be heard in whispers which would permeate the soil and whisper in the winds. That the veil on this force forsaken world was so thin that the local people wrote stories about loved ones long lost that would come visit them in dreams, that those learned in the arts of the force were able to penetrate this veil, move into a world that belonged to the dead in order to talk to them... He didn't much like the thought of confronting the dead that lay behind him, he had been a knight obsidian for some time, but, he hoped that in coming here he would have the confirmation that he needed. That his family were not killed by his actions that day some time ago... that they were safe. He knew if they had died, they likely would have discovered his plot, be it within his own conscious mind, or with their free roam over the universe. There was no way to tell, but, should he find their absence here, it would only speak better for everything that was to come.
As the noble scion of the Aquila name landed on the humid planet, the wave of tiredness would seep into his pores as subtle as a toxin, weighing his body down as he would move out from his ship into the tropical landscape of the planet shrouded in rumors and secrecy he could almost feel a pressure on his chest attempting to drag him into the dirt. 'This place is drowning under the heft of its history' he could not help but think to himself, gripping his saber, drawing it candidly and marching towards the town that had been marked on his map by other members of the Knights obsidian.
It had been told to him that others that had been sent here had stopped reporting, it wasn't long until he came across the first woman in uniform laying upon the cold earth. Cursing under baited breath he would run to her, fingers to her pulse as he would register a strong one. Her eyes fluttering in REM as it seemed the warrior seemed only to be asleep. Felix would touch her arm attempting to gain a response before rapping on her collar bone, hard. Nothing. Something was wrong here, as the man stifled back a yawn. Moving forward and calling in a report to be sent back to KO base... but soon enough he found another... and another.
Soon enough his vision in this part of the forest was flooded with those laying amongst the shrubs, a dozen or so forming an entire squad of the Knights that had arrived here before him. tagged as the same squad as they had fallen.
"This is Felix Aquila, Knight, reporting from Lorta. We have a dozen knights down at a location two and a half clicks north by north east of a small town in Kappa quadrant. No wounds or marks, vitals seem stable but they seem unconscious. Going to need a med team here as well as some experts. Beware of possible chemical threat"
Finishing his report, something akin to a summarized warning would move throughout the incoming forces as the boy would make his way towards the town... Although as the dancing lights of the town ahead of them seemed to come into view, the boy's sight would blur. Tiredness would slam into his body like a wave as he would falter, slamming into a tree and attempting to hold himself adroit. 'Kark damn it, the hell is happening to me?' He would question as he would move forward a few steps further before falling... everything slipping into an eternal haze.
But impact never came, it was like he, instead of slamming into the ground he was transported into the world below, simply passing through the ground only to be thrust to his feet on the other side like moving through a mirror at high speeds. He could see the war waging, the attacks on the town as fires burned in the distance, people screaming and creatures of the void laughing. The town ahead seemed to be under siege as thousands of .... people? Were trying to storm it as well as everything within. However it seemed that the defenders weren't pushovers either.
Blaster fire and the sound of shouting, sabers and death cries could be heard from the town. Soon enough Felix would begin to move towards it, not noticing in his confusion and disorientation of the body that he had left behind o the outskirts of the woods. He was tired, confused, and as he willed the power of the force to magnify his sight, he saw what seemed to be attacking was a veritable horde of creatures, that seemed humanoid but were ghoulish in appearance. The kind who the stories were told were lathered in the dark arts. Shock was the only thing that came to mind, freezing him as Felix openly hesitated, feeling like he should never have been here...
Felix needed help desperately, but t seemed he wasn't alone there. As great a soldier as he was, he was still only one man, and the thought of fighting a massive crowd like that daunted him beyond reason. He was a duelist, not the best soldier after all. He'd need help if he was going to make a difference with the small cadre of long disrance planes. Sure enough his mind wondered to other members of the Knights as well as the others who would soon be landing...
This was going to be a long night...
Fighting long dead spectres of a long dead part of a Hutt Enforcer whose racketeering helped rise the Hutts to their prime in their day. Real gangster types who have gained more than a couple powers in being dead.
Nick shuddered as he sat in the dropship. He knew the blood red history of the ominous planet. It was one of the stories that had given him goosebumps in his early days at Camp Phoenix on Scarif. It was a long time ago, yet it stayed with him.
He had never had much tolerance for fanatics.
He always ended up using a blaster or a slughtrower on them.
He looked down at the Verpine rifle on his lap as they descended to the surface of the dreaded planet. How many times had he killed with this? Or the pistol on his hip? He had lost count. All he knew was when the Minister of War called the Confederacy to arms, he always ended up using them in order to defend millions.
"Two minutes to drop."
The pilot's voice rang through the comms, pulling him from his dark thoughts. He got up, clipping the rifle into place on his back. He then looked at his squad in front of him. "Right ladies. We're going in dark. We have no idea how bad it is down there. All I know is that I won't go in with anyone other than you rugrats at my back. We've been through a lot. Lost many. Faced betrayal but here we still are. Our scars run deep. But in unity we found our strength. No tears, no fears!" he told them, calling the new, unifying words at the end that had brought the SCAR brigade into the light.
Looking at each of them, his eyes fell on the smallest on the group. He always ended up worrying about Tegan Farron
, yet she always seemed to come out the other end looking even better than when she went in. He then looked at Ruus Kote
and his group of fully blooded Mando'ade. "You ready to face some joojoo down there?" he asked. He did not know the man personally, but he knew of the general Mandalorian aversion to space wizards and their airy fairy-ness. Hell, he sometimes shared the sentiment.
"One minute to drop. Get ready."
Nick drew in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "Comms on and weapons ready. Leave no one behind." he said before he donned his helmet and waited for the HUD to fully sync with his dark suit.
When the reports made their way to the southern systems, Abel had been within his personal abode. Skywind Estate was a crossroads of sorts for the man. It was both "home" but also the personification of his duties to Naboo - to his lineage. At the same time, he utilized its sprawling corridors and countless rooms to educate three promising souls in the Force. Thereby fulfilling his oaths to the Knights Obsidian. Abel maintained a delicate balance when it came to his daily life; one that often robbed him of proper rest. Yet, he was a man of his word. It was all that he had.
And on that day, his oaths were called into action. Lorta cried out for aide and the Knights Obsidian would answer. Though fledglings in the Force, Abel led two of his students into the hangar alongside him. Luna and Illyria were as different as night and day, which was a fact that made their training interesting. Their differences it so that they were quick to push one another - be it out of sheer competitive spirit, be it out of a snark. Yet neither had ever experienced an Obsidian mission before. There was no time like the present. Whilst Abel's Scimitar dipped into hyperspace, he armed both his students with a lightsaber. Their efforts and practice had educated them enough to wield one without killing themselves.
And in time, he would have them build their own. Doing so now was a luxury that the available time did not provide.
The voyage went without issue. Soon, descent gripped the Scimitar and their boots settled upon the troubled world. What Abel noticed first, however, was the silence. Unlike every other battlefield he entered, there were no frenzied calls over the comm channels. No explosions. No sounds of battle. Only quiet. "This...doesn't sit right." he remarked, leading the way. As they advanced, they drew near to the scion of House Aquila. Their surroundings were a dark forest. Dense. Ominous. And to make matters far worse, Felix had made a transmission that sent a chill down Abel's spine. A squad of Knights were down. No injuries. Possible chemical threat.
"Masks on, now!" he barked, spinning on his heel to warn his apprentices. Yet, before he could so much as reach for his own, darkness began to cling to the edges of his vision. Though his body screamed to move, he could do nothing but attempt in vain to keep his eyes open. Descent gripped him. His form slumped to one knee and then down to the dirt. Yet he never felt the impact of the earth upon his form. Rather, he felt as though he was standing back up again. His vision slowly returned, the darkness giving way to reality. Or, a twisted version thereof.
Now he could hear the screaming. The explosions. The frenzied cries. Abel trudged forward, not realizing that his physical form had been left behind him in the dirt. The reason being? An ally was before them. Felix, the Knight who had made the call. "Knight Aquila!" he called, jogging over to the man's side. "It's Knight Denko, what the feth are we up against?"
One thing was certain. It was going to be a long night.
Though it could live forever, age had crept into its bones. Though it could not feel, the words warmed its core. In the days leading up to Lorta's cry for assistance, a reunion took place within the bowels of Netra'yaim. For the first time in decades, the monstrosities systems flared into being. Processes ran, crashed, and rebooted. Yet after a few moments' time, the Cin Bes'uliik managed to rise. Its form, once a flawless, polished silver, had tarnished over the years. Grime and soot now collected within its joints. It was hard to move. Hard to think. But, though the years had been hard, it was...glad? Could it even be happy?
It was. For the Master had roused it from its slumber.
Before its photoreceptors stood the man who it trusted the most. Countless battles they had fought together. They had made Hutt Space kneel. They had reclaimed the old Mandalorian worlds. They were defiant against death itself. And now, a lifetime later, they had been reunited. How could the monstrosity not feel joy at the sight of its creator? How could it not revel at the thought of glorious combat being initiated once more? "I have a job for you, old friend." came his word. Ah, and there was his touch. A palm settled upon one of its flanks. If the monstrosity could move closer, it certainly would. But in that moment, standing was the most it could muster.
It could not even growl in the affirmative. Yet the Master knew the answer was yes.
In the coming days, the blight of age was cast aside. By his own hands did the Master uplift his creation. Hours upon hours were spent within the secluded workshop, undoing the lifetime of disrepair. Upgrades were provided. The monstrosity could think clearly. And as Lorta cried out for aide, the Cin Bes'uliik would rise to answer. Its mission was clear - act in the stead of its Master. Fight, just as they had together a lifetime ago. And so it would. Alongside the cadre of smaller vessels entering Lorta's airspace did the Cin Bes'uliik fly. High-boost engines roared - a thunderous heraldry to the devastation the southern systems would bring.
The adversaries of the Master would fall. By claw. By blaster. Cin would see to it. And with a calamitous boom, its form landed at the appointed LZ. IFF would tell the tale - this was the Vicelord's beast.
There were things in the galaxy that Ruus had no wish to know more about. Secrets that he far preferred stayed that way. In days past, he used to laugh off his encounters with the unknown as above his paygrade, and in those days past they were few and far between. One thing was for shabla sure, there were never any dull days in the employ of the Confederacy. This time the world was Lorta. Like a lot of the worlds the Confederacy had been forced to annex in the name of stability, Lorta was one major problem away from dragging the Confederacy into a wider regional conflict. So the CIS had been called in to quell whatever osik it was that was happening on Lorta.
Of course, it was not on every world that a fanatic cult of dini'la di'kute were up to some kadtape ritual that did all sort of osik to force users. With all the osik that was happening, however, seemed like they needed capable troops to get the job done. A message from Gerwald Lechner
confirmed this, whether the Lord Commander intended for it to have or not. So here he was, hurtling through atmosphere once more, strapped into the crash seat of a Busayr-class Heavy Assault Transport.
Today, like on Kayrii, they were not alone. CIS SCAR rammikade were accompanying them this time. Saram and a few other Vuhyr'yalilyr and Vornskr rammikade had worked with them in the past, when the unit was still known as the Dauntless. Aforementioned rammikade had also helped with the adjustment period for the company manufactured implants that was rolled out on a limited basis. He understood why many of them didn't want it, he'd got the cut down limited version of what they got, and there were days where he'd have preferred to remain unaugmented.
An edge was an edge, however, and they needed every edge they could get. Especially given their role. He didn't want to imagine what they sent the actual rammikade after if what he saw on the regular was what they sent someone like him after. He checked their position and seeing as they were on final approach, he shook his head to clear the last few cobwebs that came with a long transit.
A quick glance around the cabin confirmed that both his troops and the Confederate rammikade were performing final checks on their weapons. They'd all been briefed about what their task was here, but he was well aware of the fact that more than a few of his troops were questioning the need for not only their presence but the presence of elite CIS rammikade. "Whatever the shab's going on down there, vode, we have a job to do. We get it done. So to haran with the spiritual osik! Oya manda, ner vode!"
A determined chorus of "oya" answered him in return. It was only a moment later that Mirta opened a private helmet to helmet channel with him, "Never fought ghosts. You'd think the shabuire would have the good graces to lie down and die," she joked, playing on their mutual hatred for all things to do with the more spiritual aspects of the force. Like any good Mandalorian, they believed in the Manda, but at least when someone was in the Manda they had the good kriffing grace to stay put.
"Since when has anything we've fought had the good graces to do shabla anything, let alone make our lives easier?" he chuckled. He heard the pilot call out over the intercom that they were two minutes out, and so he quickly added, "Not our concern, vod. We just shoot the shabuire who're a little more substantial." It was a osik'la di'kutla joke, but Mirta laughed anyway. After this long, she'd gotten used to his sense of humor.
He became aware of the fact that the CIS rammikade squad leader, Nick Brellor
, was looking at him. He spoke up a moment later, and his words ellicited a hearty chuckle from Ruus. "Shab yes. You work long enough with the Lord Commander and you expect that sort of osik to become a recurring theme. Osik follows the poor shabuire around enough. So long as they're useful on the battlefield, I don't break out my little lizard friends." Ruus left it vague as to whether he was talking about the Lord Commander specifically, the Knights Obsidian or force users in general.
Their pilot announced one more minute till drop. Brellor gave his troops one more exhortation. A lifetime of deployments prepared him for the final minute which always seemed to crawl as adrenaline filled one's system and anticipation edged one's consciousness. Then it came. Their Busayr touched down with a muffled thud on it's landing claws, belying the craft's true weight. The front ramp lowered down and their IFVs rolled off into the LZ ahead.
Ruus motioned for his men to form up behind their transports as they moved up. They weren't far from where the Knights Obsidian inserted, which meant that the RV was close. Unfortunately, none of them, the Lord Commander included, were answering their shabla comms. So that meant that they were going to have to check on them. "Head's on a shabla swivel. Positive ID your targets, I know it feels wrong as all haran here, but we are not shooting civies. Suvarir?" A chorus of affirmative acknowledgements from the various platoon leads chimed in. Satisifed, he turned to his CIS counterpart, "KO've been too comms silent for my liking. Best we make good pace till we reach their position and figure out what in haran happened."
It was about then that he heard a sound that he hadn't heard in a very long time; the sound of high-boost engines. Engines whose precise make and model often varied, but all sounded more or less the same. The roar of thrusters that preceded the arrival of Bes'uliik. This one was known by most Mando'ade worth their salt. Ruus couldn't stop himself from grinning like an ad'ika. "Looks like air support's covered,"he heartily chuckled.
Auria could feel it even before Vytal Noctura
announced it. How could she not? Dark things were at work on the borders and she was curious to find out what. She was always curious where the arcane was concerned. She always wanted to know more.
She did not even have to ask to investigate. The Nightmother mobilised them regardless to find the source. And who better to face the sinister and unknown than her fellow arcane sister, Vanya Aklin
As they approached Lorta, Auria could feel the pull of the Nether growing ever stronger. "What do you think happened down there?" she asked Vanya as she watched the globe come closer through the viewport.
Setting down on the surface, the sisters stepped into the unknown. The sinister forces were almost suffocating as the witches made their way into town. Auria's eyes moved back and forth. It was odd. There was nothing to be seen, yet she could feel presences everywhere. Could sense movements. "Please tell me you also feel the other beings around us and I am not just going crazy." she remarked. Just then, they came across a body lying on a sidewalk. The Dark sister frowned. Kneeling next to it, Auria could faintly see the rise of the chest. The person was alive, yet fast asleep. At this close proximity, she reached out through the Nether at the body. She could not see anything, but she could feel a tether to the body.
At this realisation, she rose to her feet. "This is just a shell. I have no idea where this person's spirit is, but it's not here." she told her sister. It was curious. There was source somewhere. She could feel the Dark power pulsing through the air. They just to pin point the location it was coming from.
Another squad...it was becoming some kind of amusing joke, to hand Tegan around from squad to squad. So many things were changing all of the time, though at least this time around it was other bodies she was familiar with. Others she had worked with before - though that wasn't saying much considering just how many different people she's worked with over the past few years. Still, it wasn't something that disheartened her, or made her bitter. And at least this way she got to experience all sorts of different places and see new things.
However, this particular instance was not one Tegan was looking forward to. The dropship was only just coming in close enough for the lot on board to disperse and already she could feel an occasional chill run down her spine. They had been briefed over what was happening down there, but getting word and experiencing it first hand were always two very, very different experiences.
A sigh rushed past the blonde's lips when the others around her started pepping and prepping for the drop. She stood from her seat when it was announced that they were a minute out, and she made sure that her weapons were all locked in place and ready to go. Her helmet was then pulled onto her head, adjusted deftly, and then she blinked to adjust to the HUD.
"I will never be upset about air support." she finally spoke up. Personally Tee knew nothing about this mechanical wonder that was (hopefully) there to aid them, but that didn't stop her from appreciating the idea of that kind of assistance. "Alright," she breathed out and adjusted her stance to be ready to go when the signal was given. "Leave no one behind." she repeat the phrase, nearly on her toes now as those last seconds ticked away.
This felt all too familiar. There was something about the tense anticipation of a mission or a rescue or training that all felt the same in their own respects. Luna had been here with Rast; the Mercenary had taken her on countless jobs as well as endless, merciless training sessions in the middle of some force-forsaken planet. But the thick tension was always there; the unknowns as well as the mental and emotional preparation of what would come. Because of this, Luna had found her center long ago as they landed on Lorta, ready for whatever would come as she followed Abel and Illyria; one her Master and one her fellow Apprentice.
"This...doesn't sit right." It was clear with the lack of action, lack of beings as well as an odd sense of dread that loomed about the space as the trio made their way, looking for any signs of life or battle. Luna didn’t say anything as her Emerald orbs scanned around, using her newfound Force senses to help guide her. As she reached to her hip, she could feel the cylindrical shape of the borrowed Jedi weapon given to her. It was odd not having her blaster on her hip but she made sure prior to leaving that she did have her trusty vibroblade on her person.
Looking over at Illyria, Luna had meant to say something encouraging to the other woman, but it seemed that danger would find them much quicker than she had anticipated. Abel had urgently called out for them to put masks on but it all happened so fast. The feeling of complete drowsiness had rolled over the young Smuggler in waves, leaving her to wonder if she had finally taken too many pills and drunk way too much booze. She wasn’t scared, in fact, as she seemingly went down, she felt more confused than anything.
“What the-” It was almost in what would be considered a blink of an eye that things had twisted and corrupted themselves. There, in front of her lay her own body. Her nose wrinkled some at the look of her lanky form seemingly unharmed and sleeping soundly. Luna could hear the sounds of battle nearby, but she had to take a moment to figure out what was going on. Leaning over her own body, she gave a grim smile, knowing there wasn’t much that could be done about it for now. “Rest well, good lookin’.”
Snapping back into action and turning around as she could hear her Master yelling to gain someone’s attention, she followed the call, finding him and another being there as well. Her puzzled look hadn’t left her face and momentarily had forgotten about her fellow student. Turning her back to the pair, she called out for Illyria, hoping she was close.
It had been a long time since Draconis had held a rifle in his hands. His time as the Viceroy of the Surric System had kept him busy with all of the dealings and shenanigans of his peers in politics. Something he hated, absolutely abhorred all of the backwards rhetoric, the useless posturing, all of the needless nerf crap that got slung around as they all pretended to be actually working. This little expedition with his forces was a much needed reprieve from such gawdy ventures. Some stress relief from dealing with bureaucrats, liars, and a few good people who didn't have the power to shut the rest of the buffoons and otherwise miscreants up. He was back to being a leader of men again. A soldier, a commander. His place was at the forefront of true Confederates who didn't bluster, who didn't lie, plot, cheat, or otherwise deceive. He'd been selected and then reelected because he felt more at home with this bunch of rowdy absolutely degenerate gentlemen who were otherwise some of the finest men he'd ever know, rather than some silver tongued politicians. And the SLDF was not only just a military inside the CIS, but what Draconis had formed into what the gold standard was for a professional fighting force. Today they'd be showcasing but a single part of the massive machine that was the SLDF Expeditionary Forces.
Draconis was shaken out of his reverie as their dropship started rocking from various forces acting on it. They were heading dirtside in one of the AT-3 Dropships, one of the lead elements of Alpha Company, with another on one flank while a formation behind carried the rest of the battalion's forces. Their mission was simple, to unseat the head of a powerful faction of either witches or some kind of cultists, and buy time for the CAF's own KO forces and the Nightsisters to locate, engage, and destroy the enemy's command and control. For the terrain, Draconis had hand picked the units from the SLDF Expeditionary Forces, the entirety of the 3rd Marine Division "Ghost Division". Marines specialized in the aquatic style of warfare, close in fighting in ship to ship combat, and the nasty bogs, swamps, and jungles that the surveys had shown. They'd chosen an appropriate, or well as appropriate as they could get, landing zone to disembark troops and prepare for conventional combat operations. They were expecting contact once on the ground, and once the initial zone was cleared, heavier equipment would start being brought in alongside reinforcements to engage, destroy and then mop up any remaining resistance. Draconis would check the chamber of his rifle, slightly pulling back the charging handle to find a round still in the chamber and the bolt locking closed with a solid click. He would thumb the safety switch to ensure it clicked both from safe, to semi, to auto, and then back through to ensure each was functioning. He shifted slightly in his armor to get a feel for it, subconsciously stretching to test it as he found each piece in and of itself with a familiar feeling of not only being optimal, but where he'd lived for years.
With a sharp yank the dropship would alter its approach vector, small pops on the hull telling their little tales as the ship would sharply bank from one side to the next, before several small whooshes followed by an ungodly roar of the autocannon returning the fusillade tenfold from their would be attackers as the AT-3 Warthogs cleared a bloody path through the jungle for these first few men. This was followed by an abrupt call from the pilot through the loudspeakers in the cramped troop bay.
"TEN SECONDS, STAND UP!"
As one the squad of troopers and Viceroy stood, him taking a position at the very first point of the door with the rest of the squad lined up behind him. He could feel the familiar old itch, the rush of adrenaline right before a deployment, that small taste of copper in his mouth letting him know that his body was in high gear and understood exactly where it was and what was about to happen. Moments later the door would hiss open with a hydraulic whine as it lowered, and Draconis could see what lay before him. Various jungle flora lay shredded on the ground with small burning craters showing what had been small points of enemy resistance were now black spots across the ground. The second dropship was making another pass with its autocannon, as they would land their forces on the ground once the first cleared and took up the over watch pattern. They would be landing a distance away from the main group of people intending on finding the head of the snake that had its fangs in these people, but once they had their foothold established Draconis was more than confident he could redeploy his men if the situation called for it. Not that he didn't have faith in his fellow Confederates.
It was just always better to have a backup plan in case they failed.
The gunship would stop and come to a hover as the laser cannon turrets would start opening fire on the treeline, but Draconis held his ground. He knew better. He was more disciplined to wait for the pilot to ensure they were actually clear and not just jumping into a ravine.
"GREEN LIGHT, GO, GO, GO,"
Draconis would take a small step hop off the ramp, rifle in arms as he made the short ten foot drop to the ground. He would hit the ground with a squelching splash as he sank up to his knees in the muck, but he didn't lose his footing. He would trudge forward a few steps as his fellow soldiers would follow suit, fanning out in a protective semi-circle as the men rushed to the best cover and concealment they could grab. And it would be no sooner than the second to last of them getting off the ramp than the position be justified as several blaster shots rang out ahead of them, bolts flying through their formation.
"Contact 12 o'clock, 100 meters," Draconis said into his comms as he simply turned his upper body with rifle shouldered and fired seven shots in retaliation.
The rest of his squad would open fire as well, several rifles and a couple of medium machine guns opening up into the brush line as the first shots in the liberation of this world were fired and exchanged. With the last of the troopers making landfall, the gunship would sharply lift itself into the air as it went to take over the over watch pattern.
"Gunfighter 1-1, Overlord actual, LZ not clear, I say again, LZ not clear! Give me a gun run on the trees 150 meters due north our location, ingress from east, egress west, cleared to use frag rounds, over!"
"Roger Overlord, Gunfighter starting attack run,"
Draconis meanwhile kept close to the tree he was hiding behind as he continued exchanging fire with the enemy they'd landed right on top of. He couldn't see exactly how many there were out there, and no doubt this force cult they were a part of were influencing their will to stay and fight. They wouldn't be able to break and route them like normal troops. They'd have to kill each and every one of them.
He just hoped that this little escapade would pay off for the other forces.
Someone had landed not too far behind him, Felix would hold off charging into the distance as he continued to use his strength in the force to bend the light from far away to curve and reach his eyes allowing him to zoom his vision much like that of a telescope. The war that seemed to be occurring in the distance was a horrifying one, what's more the creatures that the soldiers, survivors and the knights there seemed to be engaging with were not the usual customers. He'd seen things like these once before while he was with the night-sisters on the force forsaken monster infested planet in the other rim. A place close to all things unholy and the netherworld, it seemed that this was another such place...
The creatures that they were fighting were specters, fading in and out of etherealness attacking from untold angles as the specters would have the home field advantage. But it seemed that their weapons seemed to afflict them. Felix hadn't quite put two and two together yet, having not seen his body on the ground back in the woods with the others.
Sure enough Denko would exit the ship, another two in tow behind him as they approached the young lord, who would turn, his face grim and unsure, lost in thought and wonder about what exactly was going on here... then there was the massive presence in the force he could feel further away. He was greeted, in a sense before being asked what exactly in the hells was going on. -I wish i knew- The boy regarded to himself under his breath before moving to report in full about what he had seen so far.
"The town ahead seems to be under attack by spirits from what i can see and there's a huge force signature past the town, I don't quite have enough control here to have my vision turn corners. But it seems like there is another squad of Knights Obsidian up ahead already engaging... which is odd because I found unconscious bodies about two minutes that way... and I got here pretty quickly... I didn't hear about there being another squad. Our conventional weapons seem to work against these creatures somewhat, which is odd. As for the chemical, it seems to began to effect me, but I seem to be ok now. Just became a little drowsy for a few moments. But whatever's happening, I think they need help..."
He would wait for the consensus of the three, any input they had would be valuable as he would draw his Light-foil, ensuring that his energy shield on his arm was something that seemed to be in working order for the most part. Though as he thought and his emotions spiked with concern they would become a dulled grey in contrast with the gold they once were a moment ago. The unconscious light around his eyes constantly changing in time with his mood like a Rorschach test.
He wasn't about to charge into the breach alone if he didn't have to, but he was edging to get moving, anticipating combat to come as he could feel something calling to him. Whispering his name. No sooner than he began to focus on the effect, the familiarity, his eyes would flare a deep crimson, and his body would still for a moment.
Felix would spy a vision of several figures in old medium armour wielding heavy weapons, some of it Bes'kar others less so, but at the helm of them all was a large man, donned in weapons, equipment and apparel gripping the same saber hilt in his hand as Felix did, all with Hutt Cartel insigni emblazened across their chest as they lunged for him!
The red tint to his eyes would vanish, and his Darksight vision would come to a close as it seemed that Fate was beginning to play a card against him. What was this? Some old Hutt vendetta against his family seemed to be coming for him? Some form of greater warning or anticipation of his inevitable challenge? Who knew. He wished that he could control such visions, but it was time for the lot of them to begin moving. Felix couldn't see any answers to their questions here.
Fighting long dead spectres of a long dead part of a Hutt Enforcer whose racketeering helped rise the Hutts to their prime in their day. Real gangster types who have gained more than a couple powers in being dead.
Deep within the temple, the four hooded ritualists sat around a small crystal ball that was held by another hooded ritualist. He was the one who held the seat of power and channeled said power of the netherworld, to bring a civil war back; to finish what had been stopped all those years ago. The will of the generational seeds from the Reslian Purge fanatics, still lived within the children of those who had failed to complete the purge. However, the seeds kept the flame alive and sought to complete it.
There was just one problem. The ritual they had cast only affected Force Users and they had already sensed the arrival of witches and Non Force Users. They needed an extra line of defence, one that would hopefully buy them enough time to see their will complete, to see Lorta purged of all those who did not believe in the Fanatic’s cause.
A hooded figure looked to another beside him and both dropped to their knees. Gloves were removed from their hands and fingers caressed the stone underneath their feet. ”Souls who have already perished upon this land, we call to your bodies that have long since been swallowed up by the earth!” They began to chant as the power they channeled, began to seep into the blood tainted ground. ”We call for you to rise and once more walk this planet; to seek out those who would dare to defy our cause! Kill them so that our will be done!”
All across Lorta, bones began to burst forth from the ground as soulless undead, fueled by the power of the netherworld; dug, clawed and pulled their way out of the ground. Tattered clothes hung off of their skeletal and half rotten bodies, while black, soulless undead eyes began to seek out those who lived and breathed.
However, this magic was not limited to the already dead. Those whose spirits perished in the Unseen War, would feed the nether and that world would loop that energy back to feed it into the soulless bodies that the spirit had been forced out of. Bodies that had died because of their spirit dying; would once again rise as a soulless undead to fight the war once more from those who lived.
There was something to be said about space travel - the adventure, the sights, the people. Illyria loved these things. But flying to these dazzling destinations? Illyria didn't care for it at all. The rattling of the ships metalwork, the vast emptiness of space, it made her uneasy, made her feel lonelier then she already was. She was glad that they would be arriving soon. Yet as the ship touched down and the group of them departed, the unease did not end. Illyria did not need to be attuned or trained in the Force to sense that something was very wrong. It was unnaturally quiet, the area devoid of the tell-tale signs of a battleground -- even the wind seemed to have stilled.
Unable to shake the feeling or calm her jack-hammering heard, she trailed after Abel and Luna at a snails pace, as though unwilling to go on. And then it happened, much to quickly for her to react; Abel's barked command was the only warning before dread pierced her heart, and weighed heavy on her shoulders. It was stifling, and she felt as though she might suffocate because of it. Illyria fell to knees, her vision blurred as she opened her mouth to scream for help only for the words to be snuffed out when she fell face down in the dirt. For a brief moment there was nothing, just an empty, hallow feeling, and a world of pitch black.
And then the noble born had risen with ice in her veins. Her breath was coming fast as panic set in; the world and sounds of battle were not yet noticed. She stood shell-shocked, motionless, staring down at her... her... C O R P S E. "I died? Oh god no, I can't be dead, I can't be." That was the through that broke her. She was dead, her body lifeless in the dirt, cold, empty of her spirit. She had died alone. That was when the hysteria came. "No, no, no, no, no." Her voice was trembling, barely a whisper, her hands shaking as she stumbled away from the body.
Perhaps if she had been older and more world-weary, not as scared as she was right then and there, she might had noticed the shallow breaths her physical self took. But even Luna's voice calling out to here was a distant echo as the world faded and narrowed in on her own body, the sound of her, of Abel and Felix chattering nearby, was not enough to snap the noble out of the trance. The emotions cumulated in the worst of ways, and the sound that left her was blood-curdling: she screamed.
Something echoed out in the darkness. A ripple through space. Through consciousness. Something stirred in the far reaches of the galaxy. A call this Nightsister could not help but to answer. Two mis-matched eyes opened, one an endless blue, the other, no longer really an eye but the glow of the green ichor that was Nightsister magick. The pale skin around it blackened and scarred. The sister was a lucky one, that her clan was able to remake her an eye using the powers they held. She could see more than just the tangible world now, though, the pain it sometimes caused could hinder her.
Zaiya Valessa, known only as Siren to everyone but her sisters, rose from meditation, moving to the cockpit of her small ship and taking her seat. She had no coordinates, just a feeling. Something she had to see. Whether it was a clue to her lost companion, or a power that might aid in her quest, she did not know. One could only hope it was one of the two, and not more trouble.
It had been a long journey to this point, the trials, the travelling… the imprisonment. It was only for her own foolishness that she had been captured so many years ago. Years wasted in chains, unable to complete the task she had set herself. Unable to fulfill her oath and keep the promise she held so dear. It held nothing but shame for her now, an unpleasant smear on her record.
It seemed that she had been drifting closer to the source of the power unconsciously. The planet was closer than she had anticipated, some time passed as she lingered in her own mind, reaching forward using what magick she had, probing, testing and curious as to what ripples may return to her. Thus far nothing was clear, as though she were attempting to look through frosted glass. There was nothing for it then. She would have to view it in person.
The landing was rougher than she had anticipated, the power within, or perhaps the planet itself was trying to reject her arrival. She pushed forward, forcing the ship to land in a gap in the local flora. She pulled her cloth mask up over her lips and nose, and the crimson hood of her Nightsister cloak over her ashen braids. All that was seen of her face now, were her mis-matched eyes.
There were too many mysteries on this planet, she had to discover the truth. Descending the ramp and setting foot on the planet, the strange energy attacked at once, trying to force her down, drag her into a quagmire of darkness. Her graceful stride faltered as she attempted to discern what was happening - this power… what was this?! With a growl, the ichor flared from her eye, a thin trail of glowing green smoke trailing from it as she forced the power from invading her body with her inner magick. She stalked forward, following the strange thread of power. There would be something at the end of this path. For good or ill.
There was much that had changed since her introduction to Asher. No longer had the Nightsister been a vagabond, destined to drift among the stars; once more had she found herself beneath a coven banner. This time it had belonged to the Solanaceae, and though there were striking differences between them and herself, there was also a certain familiarity, a kinship, that kept the woman among them. It was how she found herself travelling to Lorta alongside them. "I do not know." Her answer to Auria's question was simple as nothing beyond speculation could be offered. But Vanya also felt the pull of the Nether as they drew nearer to their destination. It was a pull that set her teeth on edge for reasons known only to a few. The Nether had been the place she was imprisoned, tortured, her body and mind broken, until the goddess intervened.
Making planet-fall and venturing into the unknown did not alleviate the uncertainty, but only bought more questions. There was nothing to be seen. No life, no conflict, nothing. Vanya moved silently at the side of her sister, cautiously and without hurry, their footfalls crunching on the earth the only sound to disturb the silence."You are not crazy." Vanya reassured her. "We are not alone. There are lost and frightened spirits here." Her words might have seemed harsh to those unfamiliar with her; too direct, too monotone. But it was to be expected given the intensity of the situation, and having come across a body at that precise moment, the atmosphere was amplified. Vanya allowed the other sister to examine the body and determine that while the physical form was living, there was no spirit dwelling within, while she crouched, her fingers splaying wide as they buried into the dirt.
There was more to life then what could be seen. If only one was willing to stop and listen, they would feel everything. The tattooed Nightsister's breathing slowed to a snail's pace, her obsidian eyes drawing closed as her mind went seeking from her body. Vanya could feel them -- the spirits. They were panicked, and frightened, moving in every direction like ants scurrying from the rays of a magnifying glass, but this was not what caught her attention. Another witch had reached the planet, one that she was not familiar with. This woman might have been a stranger but a Nightsister always recognised another Nightsister. And those of Dathomir seemed few and far among the stars. No effort was made to hide herself, or Auria, from the newcomer. In fact she made their presence known, so that it was a beacon that would draw Zaiya Valessa
What was felt next had fingers retreating from the earth, and eyes snapping open to find Auria's. Surely she had felt it too? The sudden, surging power, the same that could raise Dathomir's Army of the Dead. It was the same power Vanya used to imbue voodoo dolls and reanimate the dead. Though this felt perverse, out of control, and it too would be drawn to them. "This is not the work of one individual but a group." She had seen first hand the work of fanatics, and cultists, and recognised it immediately. This was the work of collective of powerful individuals pooling their power.
"They're coming." This was the only warning spoken before the shambling, rotting remains of the dead emerged around them. It was as she unclasped one of the lightsaber's from her belt, ready to dispatch these undead nuisances, that aged bones began bursting from the ground at their feet, as though the Nightsisters stood on the runes of a forgotten battle field.
Cord had made her way into he village alongside several Obsidian Knights the likes of Felix Aquila
, Abel Denko
, Luna Evanstance
, and Illyria Le Fey
. One by one she watched them drop like flys into their deep dark slumbers. Confusion had run through Cord the moment she stepped foot on Lorta, something was off she could feel it in her very essence. It wasn’t only the oddities in the in brief that had brought her this trepidation no there was something very dark going on here. It didn’t take long before she found herself standing among the fallen bodies of her comrades.
She rushed over to one of the fallen bodies of her fellow knights. She pressed to fingers to the neck feeling a pulse and she looked around scanning she could see they were all breathing. A frown came over Cord’s face hidden by the mask she wore that displayed her sins. She realized in that moment she couldn’t feel the force well it wasn’t that she couldn’t feel it more like it was a thousand miles away and hard to reach.
She stepped carefully among the bodies of her allies, confusion at why it hadn’t affected her. She looked at her hands though not to figure out if she was real but rather if the force was so distant why wasn’t her body being turned to ash and why wasn’t she in excruciating pain. She hadn’t even noticed the glow in her orange eyes had disappeared until she passed a glass window in the village.
As she finished checking over her fellow Knights to make sure their bodies were uninjured and that they were all alive her investigative and inquisitive nature set in. She reached out with the force to attempt a simple telekinetic lift of a near by rock. Nothing happened it didn’t even budge a little. She tried again with a harder focus nothing it was there but so hard to reach.
Cord then grabbed her sword Solar and pulling from the sheath on her hip. She called forth it’s ability to cast a blinding light, the sword did nothing it’s tie to the force seemingly stifled. Well she had some idea of what the cultist were doing now but why it didn’t affect her or even kill her that was the more interesting part. She slid her sword back into its sheath, once again began to check over her fellow Knights.
She walked over to young Illyria Le Fey
's body, Cord did not know the girl granted she didn’t know many of the knights she was working with. Physically everything about the knights looked normal but they were in a deep sleep of some kind. Cord wondered for a moment and began cast a healing spell on the young girl, to Cord’s surprise the Magick was working even if she was a bit rusty on using it. However it failed to wake the girl up, more confusion crossing Cords face. Though she now realized why she wasn’t turning to ash and dying the magical energies inside her were holding her together.
Cord looked out into he jungle she wanted to hunt down whomever was doing this but she also didn’t want leave her fellow knights behind not in this vulnerable position. It wasn’t long though and she heard people approaching the town. Cord ran and hid though as she did, she unsheathed both her swords. Though she probably could have reached out with her magick much like the force and felt it was the presences of the Solanaceae, Cord was very rusty in her magick use it had been many years since she used it properly. Hiding around a corner she peeked out and saw one familiar face of Vanya Aklin
. Yet before anything could be done the dead rose from the ground coming for them all. Without hesitation Cord came rushing out and started slicing through the rotting skeletal undead from behind as they surrounded the witches. Her swords bit into them and cut them down bones crunching hard under her sword slices.
They had not told their masters what they were up to. Why Beric Layne
wasn't accompanying Millu was a mystery to begin with, but then again, this was what being a Knight Obsidian was about, taking initiative. Torch didn't really care whether that was tru or not. He was far too Corellian to care about things like responsibility and duty, especially when he was barely seventeen years old as it was. Sure he was growing and maturing into a man and all that stuff adults liked to point out, but at the end of the day, Kyle was still a teenager as well. He had grown tired of hearing that certain missions or events were for the adults, or the Knights. As a squire there were things he could bring to the table as well, and he was determined to prove that.
Millu seemed to agree enough to go along with his hair brained scheme anyway. At least, he would be taking the credit for it when they eventually got caught. Torch was used to getting into trouble. He had managed to "borrow" a small fighter that seated only two people. Yeah, they were going to be in a lot of trouble, at least maybe they wouldn't notice the missing sabers which Kyle had taken from the armory.
There was one thing he could do as a Corellian better than lie and cheat his way through a game of Sabacc, and that was pilot. Maybe he was natural at it by birth because of his father, or because the force made him so. Kyle didn't really care about which was the case, or both. It simply made going to Lorta to participate on a mission that was certainly way over their heads a reality. They had no choice. Kyle wanted to be taken seriously, and he was pretty certain that Millu wanted to be as well. Everyone had heard about her "grounding" after all.
Kyle smirked as the ship landed.
"Okay, word is there is some pretty weird chit going down on the planet. Something something, force users passing out, something something. I have no idea what we are about to get into, all I know is that there is a chance that this isn't going to be easy. Whatever happens tho," Kyle flashed his pearly whites at the pretty brunette in the seat behind him, "I got you six."
Technically she had his six, considering she was in the seat behind him, but who bothered with technicalities. A flip of a switch had the top hatch of the cockpit open up, and Kyle was already leaping out.
It was all he managed before passing out. The impact of the ritual came out of nowhere. No lead up, no feeling like something was about to happen washed over the young force user. Kyle was simply passed out and limp. It was weird, because even though he was out, and collapsed on the ground, he had watched it happen.
"Well this is definitely one of those weird out of body experience things... shall we go kill some ghosts..."
Cuz, ghosts could be killed... things could double die, right?
The Nightsister moved silently, trained to move similarly to a feline light steps and swift movement. She was unsure of the exact location, the power a mired and swirling mess all over the planet, she would have to--
That was… another sister?? Her eyes narrowed, she had not heard anything from home but the power was instantly recognisable. Yet unfamiliar.
The Sister altered course, darting through the trees and plantlife as she darted toward the origin of the unknown power. Flitting through the landscape, she became aware of another familiar yet altered power, the ground below rumbling. Her eyes widened as she witnessed a magick she had thought her own people to be the only ones that could cast such spells… The dead rising around her, the screeches, ear-splitting and vile, completely unnatural to this world. How was this so? A perversion of Nightsister Magick! It was outrageous! She had to figure out what was happening, and put a stop to this ridiculous charade!
It seemed the dead were drawn to the same power source she had felt. Were they drawn to their master or a rival? She would learn the truth soon enough. With a sharp wave of her hand a sword materialised in it, the blade akin to a lightsaber, though this was an ignited green flame borne from her magick as opposed to through a kyber crystal. She launched forward, forgoing stealth for speed, slashing at any of the ghouls that stood in her way.
On reaching a clearing, she could see figures ahead, and recognised them as witches. There was a familiarity, though she did not know them. Neither did the Siren have a chance to call out, as the ghoulish dead surged, attacking with vigour at that which intruded on their ‘home’. Zaiya had no choice but to fight back, the blaze of green flaring as she swung the blade.
It was time to look pretty. Looking at the IFV's and the Mando'ade that would man them, then they would literally be making war in style. Nick couldn't help but grin like a kid in a candy store while being surrounding by all this tech. Mandos just know how to tech. His verpine firearms were proof of that.
pulled him out of candyland with a more pressing observation. The Master Sergeant's smile turned into a frown at the news that there had been no comms from their KO counterparts. Great. When were space wizards not in some kind of trouble? Yet, these space wizards had become comrades in arms. They walked through fire together. "Agreed. I feel iffy about this whole set up. So let's get them and get going. I want to be done before knock off time." he said, nodding at Kote.
And then the silence of the night was split.
The sound of high pressure engines preceded the appearance of a mechanical beast before it touched down in their midst. There was a semblance of a Basilisk War Droid, but it was wholly different at the same time. Kote and Tegan Farron
both made air support quips, which made the commando crack a smile once again. "I want one of these." Nick laughed.
And then everything went to Hoth in a handbasket.
In the area of one of their other LZs, the sound of gun runs could be heard and the sound of blaster fire could faintly be heard as well. He just wanted to try and make contact with that group, when a horror holofilm he had seen not too long ago, literally came to life.
From all around, out of the ground and from all directions, decayed bodies made their way to the group. "Fire at will!" Nick barked as goosebumps erupted on his arms beneath his armour. Undead in general were a pain it the butt and they sure as chit were ugly. He drew his sidearm and sighted one that was making a beeline for Tegan.
Emptying half his slug clip into the zombie, he was finally able to at least blow out its legs with an explosive round before it could reach the smallest in his group.
And then he got tackled by another zombie from the side. The pistol was knocked from his hand as he hit the ground. Nick could smell the rancid breath through the helmet as he tried to keep the teeth away from the small bit of neck that was exposed between the helmet and the armour, with one hand. The other was trying to reach for the phrik knife strapped to his leg. "Kark. This. Chit!" he clenched, pulling up his legs under the monstrosity before kicking with all his might. The undead that was on top of him a second ago, flopped to the ground like a ragdoll a few meters away.