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Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Guns Fall Silent
« Last post by Joshmaul on 04/02/20, 10:12:29 PM »
Dantooine was still plagued by pirate problems, but Lucia Zherron could not be bothered by them. The family farm was far enough away from the battle zone to escape notice... at least for now. When Saliya had brought her back here, she told the veteran privateer to take over the Direwolf for the time being. She needed to be alone, in this place of family memory... and she had to attend to her father personally. Saliya had understood.

Once the ship had gone, Lucia had buried Eidan just outside the front entrance, next to the weathered grave of his old friend Saxtus Fayhan, dead and gone for close to a decade now. If it was true that "there is no death, there is only the Force", then perhaps her father would be in a better place. Certainly a better one than she was in.

Once that was done, she had gone back inside and accessed her comm terminal, sent out a brief, encoded message... and waited.

----

Two days later, a visitor arrived. Like Republic privateers and the XS freighter, this particular craft - the Kuat D5-Mantis - was a favorite of mercenaries... a lot of them employed by the Empire. This one had a known Imperial service record, even briefly being drafted into the Imperial military... but since the Zakuul mess had begun, she had been a freelance contractor employed by the eccentric ex-Sith Lord Taelios. It was that connection, among other things, that had led Lucia to her.

Lucia took in the sight of her guest as she stepped down the D5's boarding ramp. She wore battered armor with a long dark leather coat, and her wristguards came equipped with all the typical bounty hunter "goodies" - flamethrower, dart launcher, the works. Her face had dark streaks across it, which one would mistake for dirt at a distance, but were in fact tattooed into her skin. Bright blue eyes stared from those dark patches, a contrast to her fire-red hair. She carried a blaster pistol on each hip.

"Gotta say, didn't expect to find a Republic privateer's kid-turned-Alliance dogooder calling for me," she said without preamble. "Your rep goes around, Miss Zherron."

"So we both know each other. Good, then we can get to business." She led the hunter into the house, and poured drinks for the both of them as they sat at the table in the kitchen. "I would like to employ your services... provided you answer one thing for me: Given your prior history, do you have a problem taking out Imperial targets?"

The hunter gave a slight shrug. "If the pay is decent, what they don't know won't hurt 'em." She took a sip, and nodded approvingly at the quality of the beverage. "I suppose it would depend on the target."

"Two targets." Lucia pushed a datapad forward.

The hunter browsed the datapad... and she let out a low whistle. "Kriffing hell... you're not asking for much, are you?" She chuckled. "You do know I used to work for him, right?"

"I know you used to be his pilot, and that you broke with him. Given his past... troubles with Taelios, I'm sure your mostly-absentee boss would not begrudge you removing an old thorn from his side." Lucia met her stare evenly. "Can you do it?"

A long pause... then finally, the hunter nodded. "I believe so. But if you want me to do this, you'd better be willing to pay."

"How much?"

Another, shorter pause, as the hunter took a much larger drink. "We can negotiate the full price when and if I manage to pull it off, but as a starting fee... one million credits."

Lucia's eyes narrowed. "And given your prior history, how do I know you won't accept a counter-offer if he finds out?"

"You don't." The hunter simply smiled. "Putting a bounty out on a Sith overlord and an Imperial general is a big enough gamble... but hiring a hunter with known Imperial connections? That takes guts. I like that." Her smile faded. "But you'd better be prepared to go all in with the hand you're dealt, Miss Zherron, even knowing the game might be rigged. Because if you're looking for trust, you're in the wrong kriffing business."

Lucia was silent, staring... and then finally nodded. "Very well. It will take some finangling, but I will have one million credits accredited to your account within the week. After that, how you proceed is up to you. After all, you're the hunter."

The hunter nodded in agreement, that smirk back on her face as she polished off her drink. "Glad we understand one another, Miss Zherron." She rose. "Damn good whiskey, by the way." With a slight nod of her head, she walked out the front door. A moment later, her ship rose and flew off into the night.

----

Sitting at the controls of her Mantis, the Dragonqueen, as it left Dantooine behind, Nyssha Petrand couldn't help but laugh at the ironic circumstances. Not two days ago, she had been contacted by Malagant himself, seeking her services to terminate the recently-defected Colonel Tekan. When she asked why his pet Intelligence agents couldn't do it, his face had flushed. "Can you, or not?" he had snapped.

"You know I can," she had snapped right back.

"Then do it!" And then he had cut the channel. He was offering only a hundred grand, no upfront; either do it, or get nothing. Given how much money the man spent on palaces - having again returned to Reydovan Prime to rule, after engineering the "resignation" of Darth Metheius some months back - it was small wonder he was such a cheapskate when it came to hiring help. A credit spent on others was a credit he couldn't waste on himself.

But then, just moments after Malagant had hung up, the Fourth Wall had relayed the call from Lucia Zherron... and the job the aggrieved privateer offered was far more than she could have expected. Not only did Lucia want her to kill Malagant, but she had her sights set on his little brother, too. Nyssha had met Andav Undjo a couple of times, and though she would never show it in public, he sickened her even more than Malagant did. Her experience taught her that Sith were naturally sadistic, and certainly Malagant fit that bill. But Andav had no dark side corruption to excuse his insanity. In fact, she was glad he had no Force powers, because even without them, he was a sick bastard. He made her skin crawl.

Since she was on a job for Malagant anyway, she would have access to him. It certainly made it a lot easier for when the time came. But she would do his job first... the paycheck from offing Tekan would help cover expenses. Even the most veteran hunters had to eat, after all.
2
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Guns Fall Silent
« Last post by Joshmaul on 03/30/20, 08:43:21 AM »
"What do we employ you for, if not for gathering intelligence? Something you could use a little bit of yourself, it seems, given how deficient your brain appears to be."

Indizar clawed at the hand strangling him. "I... I..."

"You screwed up, Commander, is what you did. Rooting these people out is supposed to be your job. If you had been as suspicious as you claim, you should have terminated him immediately. Better a hundred loyalists die than a traitor lives!"

"Andav." Malagant was smiling, but his tone brooked no argument. "Release him."

Andav Undjo glanced at his brother and bowed his head in reply, before tossing the Chiss agent to the floor. Indizar's guts suddenly heaved and he spit up bloody bile onto the polished tiles. Next to him, Merelan Kinsale stared straight ahead at Malagant, appearing composed, but her eyes were wide with the sheer terror she was determined not to let her face show.

The Sith Lord leaned forward in his throne, catching her gaze. "Agent Kinsale," he said, his voice taking on a hint of amused malice, "anything to add?"

She hesitated only for a second, enough for him to notice. "No, my lord," she replied evenly, grateful her voice did not shake.

Malagant sat back, taking in the sight of the two injured S.I. agents. "General Undjo is correct," he said after a moment. All the traces of mirth in his expression were gone. "This is your mistake... and if you value your lives, you will both work to rectify it. Consider it a token of my generosity that I do not simply kill the both of you and be done with it." He sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "No doubt he will be utilized by the Republic in due course - and when he is, you will be the ones who deal with him." He waved a hand in dismissal.

"Agent Kinsale, escort Agent Indizar to the medbay," Andav said with contempt in his tone. "Maybe you can both have your heads screwed on properly while you're there. When you're properly patched up, I will send you on your way."

"Yes, sir." She bowed deeply to Malagant, and then gently helped Indizar to his feet as he limped (with her aid) out of Malagant's audience chamber.

When they were gone, Andav shook his head. "This level of incompetence surprises me."

"It's not just them," Malagant said darkly. "I am as much to blame for this lapse as they. All these years, I never suspected Menrim would do this simply to spite me. It was hardly my fault Iokath ended up being a death trap, which left him with untried rookies for this mission." His tone became sharp. "Anyone else getting any ideas?"

"Moff Caudell and I can vouch for our task force. Ditto for Admiral Krysiak - I think he's just glad to kill Republic scum again. Moff Daltyn... with the revolving door of Sith leadership in this sector, who knows what he's thinking."

"See what you can find out. Right now, your contacts seem to be more... reliable."

Andav nodded. "I'll speak with Thias and get back to you." As he turned to leave, he gestured to one of the troops at the door. "You, get the clean-up crew in here to get this bile off the floor. This is the residence of a Sith Lord, not a back-alley cantina on Nar Shaddaa."

"Yes, sir!"

Malagant couldn't help but grin as he watched his brother leave.
3
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Guns Fall Silent
« Last post by Joshmaul on 03/26/20, 10:14:46 AM »
"Thank you, Master Jedi." Savel sighed tiredly. "As I said, I wish we had learned the plans earlier, but we did not find out what was intended until after you had already left."

Tergahn's head tilted slightly. "How?"

"Well... you will have to judge for yourself." He gestured to a figure standing off to the side in his office. "Colonel?" The figure turned and stepped into view. He was a Cathar with gray fur, a grizzled black mane of hair, and blue-gray eyes. "Master Tergahn Dai'lo... Colonel Menrim Tekan, formerly of the 54th Recon Battalion, Imperial Wild Space Command."

Menrim inclined his head slightly. "The soldiers you fought on the Castellum were mine, Master Jedi," he said, his Imperial accent sounding perfectly natural; he had been born on Bosthirda, a planet that had been an Imperial holding for more than a millennium. "Emphasis on 'were'. My men have been at Malagant's whim for years, ever since the Zakuulans came knocking. This was the last straw."

"Colonel Tekan and about twenty or so of his men arrived just after you entered the Sugilar system," Savel explained. "They had left Reydovan Prime in a shuttle that surrendered itself to a patrol on the border, seeking asylum. They were lucky the captain chose not to blow them out of the stars."

"Indeed." Tergahn looked over Menrim appraisingly. "Which begs the question, Colonel: Why now? You're an Imperial officer of some rank - and undoubtedly of some experience as well, given the still-extant prejudice against non-humans in the Empire. Which would mean you've made a career out of fighting and killing Republic soldiers. So why come to us now?"

"Because for all the differences, you Jedi don't tend to send Republic soldiers to pointless deaths just to satisfy your vanity," Menrim replied bitterly. "You tend to leave that to your military command." Savel made to protest that statement, but Tergahn gently raised a hand, beckoning the colonel to continue. "I allowed myself and my men to be used as glorified bodyguards, toy soldiers for Malagant to station in his palaces and temples. Perhaps they wouldn't be allowed to do what they were trained for, but at least they would live, rather than be sent to die in a pointless war. We were laughed at and scorned by our brothers in arms for it when we were sent to Iokath... and we lost so many there, if not to your soldiers, then to the damn droids. We'd just got back up to strength last month. And then, what he did at the Castellum... he sacrificed hundreds of men on that station, just to try and trap you. I protested the waste, telling him that they weren't properly battle-tested, not like what we had before on Iokath... these new recruits could not withstand even the number of men you brought along. 'What else are soldiers good for?' Malagant told me... and then he laughed, him and that sick brother of his that somehow got made into a general. That was it for me."

Tergahn could not sense any deception from him. "I see." His expression was thoughtful. "You of course realize, Colonel, that you will not have any easier time of it here than you did in the Empire. Especially now. I believe you to be sincere, and General Savel must at least find you credible... but you know we will likely be the exceptions."

Menrim nodded. "I know that. But my men and I are willing to fight and die for something that's worth fighting and dying for, not just the sick whims of a monster like Malagant. And if that means we do so fighting under our enemy's flag... then so be it."

Tergahn glanced at Savel, as that was a matter for the Army, not the Jedi. "There will be questions of rank, of course," the general said, "but I believe I may have a place for you with Colonel Danrei's Irregulars. And former Imperial soldiers are pretty damned irregular in the Republic Army."

"Just keep me with my men, General," the Cathar replied firmly, "and I will go wherever you want us."

"Very well. I will ask you to stay on here at Carrick Station, until Colonel Danrei has adequately recovered from recent events, and then I will put you up with her. I suspect she will raise a stink about your origins, but given what we lost to this trap, I wonder how much protest she will be willing to put up." Savel sighed. "At worst... I may end up giving you her command, which will go over like a neutronium balloon with her remaining men." He looked over at Tergahn. "The others?"

"Colonel Danrei has asked Saliya Taldir, the former captain of the Direwolf, to take the ship home to Dantooine. I believe the idea was to bury Captain Zherron on his family property, next to the grave of Master Fayhan. Ediren has gone back to his own homeworld of Onderon, to break the news of the Brigantia's loss to his extended family there. Nelys Lorath left behind a wife and children in Iziz."

Savel bowed his head. "A shame. I knew Nelys' grandfather, Davyd, during the first war. He was a good man with a fine family... even Ediren, who I thought I'd want to behead with his own lightsaber when all was said and done. He's... changed quite a bit." He appraised the Togruta Jedi Master thoughtfully. "I understand you had something to do with that."

Tergahn shrugged. "I may have given him a nudge here or there. But it seems the event that really changed his mind was when he was marooned on AZ-1194, when he was working for Saresh... trying to arrest Lucia and I as 'traitors'. That time in the snow must have convinced him. The mercy he was shown by Dassalya and the others." He pondered. "How many of them remain, I wonder." Then he smiled. "I suppose I will have time to find out, as we attempt to bring together the scattered pieces of our Order."

"Not a task I'd be optimistic about," Savel commented, shaking the Jedi Master's hand. "Thank you, Master Tergahn. I'll not keep you."

Tergahn inclined his head first to the general, and then to Menrim, before leaving them alone. As he stepped into Carrick Station's main hall, he spotted two figures in hooded robes, and recognized them at once. "Galen, Kaiya," he greeted them. "Up for another trip?"

Galen Tavener raised an eyebrow. "Where to?"

"Coruscant," Tergahn replied. "We have work to do."
4
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Guns Fall Silent
« Last post by Joshmaul on 03/19/20, 11:58:14 PM »
"Colonel?"

Mara looked up, a tired smile on her face as she recognized her visitor. "Saliya. Thank you for coming." She limped to her feet to embrace the ex-privateer. Saliya Taldir had been a retired InterStellar Regulator who served as Eidan's first mate, and later captain of the Direwolf when Eidan had taken the helm of the Custodum flagship, the Custodian's Watch. She had retired to her homeworld of Makeb and turned the Direwolf over to Lucia when the Zakuulan invasion had started. "You're one of the only people I know tied to this ship and crew, and to the Brigantia."

"A kriffin' shame in both cases. We'd known the Loraths and the Brigantia for years... and Eidan, well..." She chuckled a little. "I admit I kinda fell in love with the guy, but even in death, Mira was the only girl for him. He often said as much, when he was in his cups." She sat down with Mara at the table. "Lucia?"

Mara gave a pained snort. "How do you think?"

"Fair point." Saliya looked her over with a worried glance. "You look like hell, Mara. Have you slept at all?"

The colonel shook her head. "I went into that death trap with two hundred men. I left with less than thirty. I don't feel much like sleeping." She sighed. "Ediren's ship is still here, and when they arrive, he's gonna head back to Onderon to notify his family about Nelys. Tergahn will handle all the nitty-gritty reporting for the general, we're not gonna subject Lucia to that... which is why I've asked for you."

Saliya nodded, instantly knowing what Mara was asking. "You want me to take her home."

"And him, too," Mara confirmed. "I have a suspicion that's why Ediren made a point of getting him out before the Castellum went up. Maybe he felt Lucia would not have forgiven him if he had left his body behind." She sighed. "It's like I've reached the point where the people in my life are taken away. The Linavils, Eidan..." Tears welled up in her eyes. "All the kids I lost in this shithole of an op, suffering in exile because we weren't bloodthirsty enough for Saresh, putting their lives on the line for the people left out in the cold..." She finally broke down sobbing, causing some of the cantina patrons to look over at her.

One quelling glare from Saliya made them look away.

----

Galen Tavener had come on the same transport as Saliya, and for much the same reason - although he had been drawn by the Force rather than by the call of the anguished colonel. He stood on the upper level, looking over into the cantina, his hooded robe leading any passers-by to think him a Jedi.

"You ever think all of this could have been avoided if the Outlander had not been freed from Arcann's carbonite prison, Captain?"

Galen glanced beside him at the speaker, Kaiya Sokhem, one of his former Knights, who also wore simple robes. "Knowing what we know now, Kaiya? No. The Republic and the Empire would have continued to butcher each other whether we dominated them or not. But the Outlander - the Commander - was freed from the carbonite, and all that followed... perhaps it was destined. We were blinded by our own hubris - a common failing among all sentient beings. We believed too much in our own hype. And we suffered for it, when we were reminded of the truth."

"Which is?"

"That no emperor is immortal, no empire eternal... no one lives forever." He nodded over in the direction of the colonel. "Even those who accept death as a possibility because of their career are never prepared for it." He paused. "No, that's only half-true. They are prepared to lose their own life... but not the lives of others. Especially not so many."

Kaiya was stone-faced, but her voice shook ever so slightly. "I see what you mean."

Galen looked up, sensing a familiar presence in the Force. "They have arrived."
5
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Guns Fall Silent
« Last post by Joshmaul on 03/19/20, 01:33:52 AM »
Eidan tried to pry back the fingers of the hand strangling him with his undamaged hand, and felt the cracking in his neck... but while his hands couldn't do much, his feet still could. With his back against the bulkhead, he kicked Malagant in the chest with both feet, sending the Sith Lord reeling backwards, head over heels over the console. Eidan collapsed to the deck, coughing blood. To his surprise, his neck was not broken, but he felt fire all around his shoulders when he raised his head. Broken collarbone, very possibly.

"Warning. Self destruct sequence active. You now have six minutes to reach minimum safe distance."

"My lord, they've locked out the main computer!" Kinsale shouted as she worked desperately at the console. "We have to get out of here now!"

As Malagant came to his feet, Eidan charged at him, roaring like a raging rancor, barely noticing the amount of blood he was losing from all the shrapnel he had taken. With his one hand, he held the gorget of Malagant's breastplate and then kicked him in the knee. Malagant cried out in pain as his leg buckled and he toppled to his hands and knees on the deck, and then received a kick to the face for his trouble... and another.... and another. Fuelled by adrenaline, pain, and sheer rage, Eidan had gone berserk, kicking and stomping the prone Sith Lord, screaming like a lunatic.

Malagant began to wonder why the others in the room weren't shooting him down when he heard there was indeed weapons fire - but not from where he was expecting. The fewer men in Ediren's squad were able to mow down the tighter-packed superior numbers of the general's guards... and then Ediren himself began running forward, saber in hand.

The hate and rage boiled up in Malagant and finally, with a scream of pure fury, was unleashed, throwing Eidan across the room. "ENOUGH!" Bringing himself to his feet, Malagant's eyes burned like two hateful furnaces. He reached out with one hand, pulling the injured captain to him.

The other held an ignited lightsaber.

Ediren's eye widened in horror. "NO!!!!" He ran forward to try and stop it... but it was too late.

Looking down at his chest, Eidan Zherron saw the lightsaber impaling him before he felt the pain. To Malagant's shock, he started to laugh. "S-so... that's what... that feels like," he rasped... and then spit blood into Malagant's face.

----

Ediren Lorath felt agony in his soul. First Nelys, now this. But as much as he would have liked to storm in and slash Malagant to ribbons...

"Warning. Self destruct sequence active. You now have four minutes to reach minimum safe distance."

...he had more important things to do. He disengaged his saber and hooked it to his belt.

Reaching out with the Force, he pushed Undjo away. The other members of the general's squad were dead or incapacitated. When Malagant saw him, he pushed Kinsale into him, causing them both to fall over. He then stooped and gently picked Eidan up, holding him over one broad shoulder. As he began to back up, his free hand again reached for his saber, just as Malagant picked himself up (again) off the floor.

Ediren, despite the contempt he felt for this murdering bastard, raised his saber in a flourishing salute. "Another time, Malagant," he said. "You may want to consider retreating." Then he continued to back away, his surviving men - two out of the five that he had brought along - with their weapons up as cover. Once Malagant's hateful stare was out of his sight, they turned and began to run, making their way to the turbolift.

Malagant watched him go, knowing that the Stormwatch had redeployed out of the blast zone, which meant the Direwolf would escape to fight another day. No matter. Indizar had taken some wounds, but he would live. Kinsale and Undjo both dragged him to the express lift to the officers' hangar. Malagant, his knee on fire, staggered behind them.

"Warning. Self destruct sequence active. You now have two minutes to reach minimum safe distance."

Despite the unexpected resilience of the Republic fighters, and the considerable Imperial casualties they had inflicted in this operation, Malagant was content. He had essentially removed the resourceful "Irregulars" from the war, and the idea of men whose only crime was not being gung-ho Sareshian cultists during her reign over the Republic being treated like garbage and thrown into a pointless meat grinder would - he hoped - spread dissension in the Republic ranks. And on top of that, he had removed a hated enemy, one who had regularly meddled in his plans for more than a decade. He would meddle no more.

All in all, a good day, Malagant mused as he limped up the ramp to his ship. Now, if only victory did not hurt so much... I'm getting rather too old for this.

The Shadowlight cleared the hangar, followed by the Blood of Adasta, Agent Kinsale's Phantom. The Stormwatch was waiting on the edge of the system, as the Castellum Carnivora erupted into white brilliance behind the fleeing Imperial ships.

----

Lucia regained consciousness in the Direwolf's small medical bay, feeling a splitting headache - and a bandage around her head, which would likely explain the headache. From the vibration through the hull, the ship was at lightspeed, which meant they had escaped. Careful not to move too fast, she sat up in her bed and gently began moving her legs to hang over the side - and then stopped cold as she saw the body in the next bed, covered by a sheet. Dread seizing her soul, she carefully walked over to raise the sheet to see the face beneath it.

Her wail of agony echoed through the entire ship.
6
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Guns Fall Silent
« Last post by Joshmaul on 03/18/20, 07:41:56 AM »
Some of the men who had come with the Direwolf had made their way towards the command center to meet with Ediren. They had actually gotten there ahead of the Jedi and the five men with him - just as General Undjo's guards arrived.

Inside the command center itself, Tergahn stirred first, shaking his head to clear it, as the computer announcement sounded again. "Warning. Self destruct sequence active. You now have nine minutes to reach minimum safe distance." That was punctuated by the sounds of weapons fire in one of the outer corridors.

Jayfive had been lucky to avoid the bomb blast. Eidan, however, had not. His long coat was shredded and bloody, but he was alive. Lucia had taken a glancing hit to the head on the console when he had shoved her away, and was unconscious. When he saw the Jedi there, Eidan coughed blood, spat, and looked up at him. "Tergahn... Luci?"

"She's alright, Captain, but... I don't know if I can get you both back to the ship in your conditions..." Tergahn looked up. "Although I sense help coming. Ediren is on his way."

"Good... take Luci back to the ship first. If... if we can't get out in time, then..." He reached over to where his hat had fallen, and handed it to him. "Give this to her." Then he reached into the pocket of his coat, producing his pipe; it had been broken in the fighting. "And this... to them. Tell them... I'm sorry."

Tergahn knew the "them" he meant. He nodded. "I hope it won't come to that, but if it does, I will." He set the hat on Lucia's chest, and stowed the pipe in his robes. He then took her stealth field generator, and attached it to Jayfive's chassis, right around where a restraining bolt would go. "I will shroud her," he said. "Use this to return unseen." Jayfive gave a single beep in response, shimmered, and vanished. Tergahn then gently scooped Lucia up in his arms... and then he, too, was gone, his burden with him.

Eidan felt relief, knowing that his daughter would be safe. Ediren was on his way up... but for now, he needed to tend to himself. He needed a weapon; his own seemed to have vanished. Crawling across the room, through the bodies of the Imperial troops, he began to see Republic bodies now too. Perhaps one of them had a sidearm...

A boot on his arm put an end to that. Bloodied but unbowed, Kinsale stood over him, breaking the wrist, and holding him at gunpoint. And then footsteps ahead of him, heralding new arrivals... his stomach churned as he recognized Malagant, accompanied by his murdering freak of a brother.

"I applaud you for your bravery, Captain Zherron," Malagant greeted him mockingly, "but now it is over..."

----

"You knew?"

General Savel was grim. "Not when we planned this. We only found out after you were inside that it was all fake... Sith Intelligence moles gave us false leads on everything. Had we known, we would not have wasted the time on this."

"Wasted time?!" Mara was absolutely livid. "How about the wasted lives, you son of a bitch?!"

"Mara, calm down!" Savel raised his hands to placate her. "That's not what I meant, and you know it."

"Do I? You talk a big deal about how you're our friend in Republic High Command, but you seem to forget that, not long enough ago that I ever forgot it, you were near the top of the list of people condemning my men and I as deserters and traitors. In fact, weren't you the one who said if I didn't like how we did things, I should defect to the Empire? Maybe you're the Imperial mole, because the only other reason I can think of for this colossal kriff-up is that your contempt for us has led you to send us to our deaths!"

"Oh, come on, Mara! What happened then has no bearing on what happened now."

"Doesn't it? I find it funny, Leric, that when you decided to assault a maximum-security Imperial prison in a sector run by a lunatic who burns planets for fun, you sent people that the powers that be wouldn't miss. Or are you allowing the bureaucrats to pull your strings and 'make' you do these things, like you tried to say Saresh did when you signed the warrants? Hell, even you said that part of the reason we got this job was because we're only one step up from a penal regiment."

"Alright, enough! You've made your point!" Savel now sounded annoyed, which made Mara even angrier. "Make your way to Carrick Station for debrief. I will be waiting for you." He sobered for a moment. "And the Direwolf?"

Mara shook her head, her anger now replaced with worry. "No word."

Savel took a deep breath. "Alright. Get back here as quick as you can. With any luck... they will make it, too. Savel out."
7
Cantina / At last, a palace that fits what appears in my head
« Last post by Joshmaul on 03/18/20, 05:39:27 AM »
I made a brief mention of Malagant's new digs in the story I'm writing up... given that his personal sanctum has been in fairly high mountains, it's about time it actually LOOKS like a mountain stronghold. So, here we are: Malagant's Palace of Winterhome.

8
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Guns Fall Silent
« Last post by Joshmaul on 03/17/20, 12:57:36 PM »
Ediren felt the death of the Brigantia and all of her crew as he made his way towards the hangar where the colonel's ship was docked. His eye closed tightly as he contained the pain he felt in his soul; there was nothing he could do for Nelys and his crew now.

But Nelys had had a wife and two children back on Onderon... and as family, Ediren would have to be the one to break them the news. He promised himself that he would do at least that much.

"Commander Lorath." That was the colonel's voice now, sounding grim. "Where are you?"

"En route to your hangar, Colonel. I've got the remainder of Sergeant Linavil's men with me."

"Belay that. We're secured for now. But..."

"I know," he said gently. He sensed she had been about to tell him about the Brigantia. "What can I do?"

"Head up top. Jayfive just told me that Malagant himself is onboard, and that he and that psycho brother of his are headed for the CC. Eidan is down, and Lucia and Tergahn have their hands full." She paused for a moment. "He's just overridden the security system and disabled the lockdown, so Captain Bazsha and I are taking our ships out of here. Get up there, and see if you can't get the others back to the Direwolf. It goes without saying..."

Ediren nodded to himself. With the whole reason for their being here more or less done, it made sense. "Understood."

"For what it's worth... I'm sorry, Ediren." She sighed. "Good luck, kiddo." The channel closed.

Taking a deep breath, Ediren was still for a long moment as he heard the telltale signs of engines spinning up down the hall in the hangar. When the sound faded - and thank the Force, no sign of another lance strike - he turned and made his way to the turbolift. Without a word, his men followed.

They would not sneak through the Imperials... they would fight through them.

----

With two of the three remaining ships gone, Jayfive beeped over at Eidan, who was propped up against the console next to him, still recovering from Kinsale's poison. "Wayfaring Stranger + Iron Shrike = away / Imperial dreadnought = out of range"

Eidan breathed a sigh of relief. "Alright, pal... do it. If we get out of here, great. If not... hopefully we'll take those kriffing freak brothers with us."

"J5 = accessing engineering security" A long moment, as finally the sounds of battle faded with the sound of a scattergun. Eidan peered up over the console; Lucia had killed the other two agents. Kinsale was knocked out, having had the crap beaten out of her by Lucia... and Indizar had also been rendered unconscious, courtesy of a crack upside the back of his head from the shaft of Tergahn's saber pike.

A computer voice sounded over the stationwide comms. "Warning. Self destruct sequence is activated. Reactor core levels rising to overload. Personnel are advised to evacuate. You have ten minutes to reach minimum safe distance."

"That's that," Eidan said as he came to his feet, leaning on the console for support. His legs still felt wobbly. "See if you can't lock out the main computer."

"J5 = ahead of captain," the little droid beeped smugly. "Main computer = encrypted / Imperials = unlikely to crack it in time"

Tergahn suddenly realized something. "Wait... Jayfive, you said that two of the other ships got clear. Where is the Brigantia?"

Jayfive accessed the internal security... and let out a mournful sound. "Brigantia = destroyed / Cause = turbolaser blast + Imperial dreadnought / Lifesigns = none detected"

Lucia was horrified. "Nelys..." Tears began to stream down her face. "Damn them all," she whispered, before taking a shaky breath. "Alright... we have to get out of here."

"I don't think so." All of them turned at the sound of the voice. Kinsale, bloodied and battered, had come to her feet, her blue eyes glittering with hate. "The only place any of you are going... is to HELL!" She triggered the device she had in her hand... and then hurled it in Lucia's direction.

Without a word, fuelled by paternal desperation, Eidan barreled into his daughter and knocked her across the room, away from the bomb... before the world went white around him.
9
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Guns Fall Silent
« Last post by Joshmaul on 03/16/20, 05:10:50 AM »
Lucia arrived swiftly, able to move quicker with the stealth field than her father had, running to the sounds of fighting. To her horror, she saw her father lying on the floor, and he wasn't moving.

Indizar rolled under the swing of Tergahn's saber pike, drawing his combat knife; he had made it a point to polish up on hand-to-hand combat during the Zakuul war, and Jedi were not much different from Knights... it also helped that he was carrying a Zakuulan weapon. Kinsale prepared her poisoned weapons, knowing of a few things that would work on Jedi - but blaster bolts narrowly missing her head forced her to duck. Two other agents, all equipped similarly to Kinsale, opened fire on Tergahn, who was whirling the pike around with the speed of an engine turbine, a bright green blur acting as a kind of shield.

Still unseen, Lucia knelt next to her father, seeing he was still alive, but his limbs had all gone rigid... and then she noticed the injection site in his neck. He had been injected with a paralytic. She hesitated only for a second before she deactivated her stealth field, opening a pouch at her belt. After a run-in with a particularly nasty poisons expert during the five-year lull between Valkorion's "death" and the foundation of the Alliance, she had made it a point to carry antivenins. She applied it to him quickly.

"L...Luci." She glanced at him, able to hear his whisper clearly despite the sounds of battle. She hadn't realized he was conscious, because of his mechanical eyes. "Jayfive... plug him in."

She looked back up, seeing Jayfive still exchanging fire with Kinsale... and then she rose, cracked her knuckles, and broke into a run. She leapt over the console in front of her and barrelled right into the agent, her blaster rifle clattering across the deck. "Go, buddy!" she shouted at the little droid.

Jayfive rolled up to the computer console and jacked in as Lucia grappled with Kinsale, who had drawn her own combat knife. Grabbing onto the wrist of her knife-hand, Lucia impulsively headbutted the agent in the face, hearing a crack as her nose broke. Kinsale staggered backwards, dropping her knife as she put her hands to her bleeding nose. For good measure, Lucia rammed her knee into Kinsale's gut, knocking the breath out of her, then tossed her into a bulkhead.

A blaster shot from one of the other agents singed the hair right next to her face, causing a flash burn. Crying out in pain, Lucia whirled, drawing her blaster and scattergun...

----

Malagant stepped down the ramp of his ship in the primary hangar on level Besh, where he was greeted by Andav. "Fighting going on in the command center," he said without preamble. "I've already sent men ahead."

"And the others?"

"The three freighters have deployed turrets near the access points to their ships, and there are reports of some of the crew from the freighter in the lower hangar deploying them near the access to Colonel Danrei's ship. They're using the turrets and the narrow corridors to nullify our numbers." The general's scarred face was flushed with anger. "I can see why you made it a point to get rid of this crew."

"Center your humors, Andav," Malagant warned. "There is more than one way to skin a nexu." He activated his commlink. "Admiral Krysiak, come in."

"I read you, Lord Malagant."

"Lock onto hangar bay two on level Esk. Pinpoint targeting. Turn the bay and everything in it to slag." Malagant clapped his brother on the shoulder. "Come, Andav, we have guests waiting."

----

Nelys ran back up the ramp into the Brigantia's cargo hold. "Is that the last of them?"

"We got all the ones we had in our hangar, and in the corridor between our hangar and the Stranger's," Larisa confirmed.

"Here's hoping that will be enough." He toggled the commlink. "Colonel Danrei, your fire support is prepared. It's all on you now."

That was the last thing Nelys Lorath ever said.
10
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Guns Fall Silent
« Last post by Joshmaul on 03/15/20, 12:44:39 AM »
While Tergahn went ahead through the corridors, using his Force shrouding to stay hidden from the Imperial patrols, Eidan and Jayfive made their way through the service crawlways. Finally, they reached an access hatch on level Aurek, at the top of the station. Eidan waited for the little droid to scan for lifesigns first.

"Corridor = clear!" it tweeted a moment later.

Eidan opened the hatch and stepped out of the crawlspace, working out the kinks in his joints. He was definitely getting too old for this kriff. The operations center was a dome at the central summit of the station, connected by six long corridors to the outer level, which had the officers' facilities, as well as an exclusive turbolift to the hangar and airlocks for personnel one floor below, on level Besh. Eidan moved cautiously along the wall of corridor Aurek-Three towards the center. As he approached, he heard a voice speaking over the holocom.

"...status of the Republic scum, Commander?"

"Those who are not dead have retreated to their ships in the airlocks and auxiliary hangar on level Esk, my lord. But we have activated the security override and locked the ships in place. No one is going anywhere. I have also been in contact with General Undjo; you mentioned en route that you wanted proof of decease, so he is already deploying the reinforcements to terminate them at the source."

"Well done, Commander Indizar." Eidan felt his gut churn as he recognized the voice. Of course it would be him... after all, it was his psycho brother commanding the troops. "The Republic will not mourn the loss of a bunch of 'rehabilitated' criminals, but at least we will not have these meddlers to deal with as we commit the sector's total strength to the war effort."

Eidan looked up. "Wait here," he whispered to Jayfive... and to Tergahn, whom he presumed was standing nearby, before he stepped inside. "Excuse me while I make it a point to meddle."

"Ah, Captain Zherron, welcome! I must say, I'm somewhat surprised at how easy it was to get you all here... as if I would keep prisoners for you to liberate! You Republic fools all seem to have a thing for lost causes."

By this point, Eidan had figured that this whole setup had been Malagant's sick little game. What galled him, though, was that the Sith was right - the Republic had all but leapt at this. Still, he kept cool as he replied, "The only causes that tend to get lost are yours, Malagant. How're your apprentices these days? You know, the ones you keep getting killed, when they aren't kriffing you up and taking your stuff."

Malagant smiled cruelly. "About as well as your mother, your wife, and two of your three daughters on Dantooine. I happened to pass by your little house during the recent... pirate troubles. Funny how there's no memorial to them there, but you made a point of having a grave for your dear friend Master Fayhan..."

Eidan seethed with rage at the Sith Lord's taunting; only sheer willpower kept him from riddling the holocomm (and the Chiss in front of it) with blaster bolts.

"You didn't get to see them before the end, as I understand," Malagant went on. "That grenade you took to the face, during your short-lived 'liberation' of Reydovan Prime at the end of the Great War, kept you from having to witness their deaths. You need not worry this time, however. I'll make sure you see every slow, delicious second of your daughter's suffering before I let her die. And then I will take you back to Reydovan Prime, and let you rot in the same cell where I kept Fayhan... where I finally broke him."

Eidan kept up his nonchalant tone, not wanting to give this sick bastard anything. "Big talk for a man sitting on the sidelines, Malagant. Come on over and say it to my face. Unless you're afraid."

"Afraid? Of you?" Malagant laughed. "Hardly. But your request is not unreasonable; it's only fitting that the host attends to your needs in person." The comm channel closed.

The Chiss - Indizar - smiled. "Agent Kinsale, if you please."

Eidan stiffened as a syringe was plunged into his neck; his hands loosened, his blasters clattering on the deck plates, before he crumpled to the floor. He remained conscious, however, as Merelan Kinsale deactivated her stealth generator, the barrel of her rifle pointed at his head, and a smile on her face. "You obviously have not dealt with Intelligence before, Captain," she mocked him. "You should never assume the room is empty just because you only see one person."

The snap-hiss of an igniting lightsaber got the attention of the two agents. "Good advice," Tergahn said with a hint of a smile as his Force shrouding faded. Next to him, Jayfive had activated his blaster. "Unfortunate that you forgot to follow it."

----

Lucia had brought Nelys and his surviving wounded back to the Brigantia. She had hoped that they would have reached the command center by now. She toggled her commlink, trying to reach her father, but only got static; she then tried Jayfive. "You get that thing open yet?"

"J5 = pinned down with others / Intel agents + stealth fields = trouble"

Lucia sighed. "Colonel?"

"I heard. We've got another problem - we're trapped on the ship. Imperial troops are in the hangar, and there are a lot more of them than there are of us. And the rodders took out our outside support."

"Can we call for backup?"

"No. Kriffing Imps are jamming long-range comms." The colonel sounded agitated. "They'll probably start heading your way too. Unless we can somehow get up there and get the damn lockdown disabled, we're dead."

"Nelys, think this might be a job for your recovered Zakuulan sentry turrets?"

"Good a time as any." When they docked, Nelys and Larisa had set up a dozen of them along the corridor outside the airlock. "If we can take care of the scum down here, Larisa and I can see if we can't get a few to the hangar to back up the colonel."

Lucia nodded. "Alright, I'm going up."

"As if I could stop you even if I wanted to." Mara sounded amused and a little sad at the same time. "Good luck, Captain."

"For us all, Colonel," Lucia agreed, as she activated her stealth field.
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