KOTOR: Check and Mate
KOTOR: CHECK AND MATE
All is lost! In their attempt to locate Khristoff, the Prophet and leader of a dangerous anti-Force-user cult known as "the Found", the stalwart crew of the starship Millennial has found the Prophet's right-hand-man, Pauel, slain--possibly at the hands of one of his interrogators...
Now, with their only option being to follow two Republic fugitives who are most likely in league with Khristoff and the Found, the people aboard the Millennial, including Jedi Knight PERDANTE DAREVA, Captain FARA STARR, and two Republic officers, will find their strength and loyalty tested to the ultimate degree.
Will it be "check and mate" for Khristoff and his cult, or for the Millennial?...
PERDANTE DAREVA, Jedi Knight, held her sweat-soaked head in her hands. She could not believe what had just happened. Pauel, the so-called Apostle of the Found and their only lead toward finding his master, Khristoff, was dead. Dead! Not one trace of him remained, either in this mortal world or in the Force. After all, Pauel and his cult, the Found, were adamantly against anyone who used it--for good or ill. Both Jedi and Sith had been targets of the sinister sect and its followers. Now, he's been slain, and not by one of the cult members, either... As far as she herself knew, Pauel had been captured and taken aboard their starship, the Millennial, for questioning. His interrogator had been one Mica Caraway, officer of the Republic. Pauel had collapsed and perished, according to Mica, before debriefing could begin.
Do I believe him? Part of me certainly does, because the ostanovium metal contaminating Pauel's blood and body could have finally poisoned him to death. However, there is another part of me that says...says...
She couldn't bring herself to admit what that other part of herself was telling her. Perdante raised her liquid blue eyes up to perceive the Millennial's mess hall through a haze of tears. She didn't want Captain Starr, the Caraway brothers, or anyone else aboard the ship to find her weeping.
There is no emotion; there is peace. Such was one of the tenets of the Jedi Code. Knights such as she were not to weep, or laugh, or hate, or love. Not that Jedi were to become automatons, or seek to do so. Rather, they were to control and suppress their emotions so as not to have them take control during the heat of battle, or during any other moment when following one's emotions could lead to folly and suffering. This Perdante believed, and tried to obey. However, she could not stop her sorrow from flooding her...
Against all of her better judgment, the Knight began to sing softly in her native tongue. Her sweet voice was barely above a whisper, quavering:
"Ya ne mogu verit' etava. Vsye poteryav', -yav', -yav'"...
In Basic, this meant, "I cannot believe this. All is lost, lost, lost..."
Her own voice was lost for a moment, and then she took up the refrain again.
The shaggy-haired member of the Caraway duo stood in front of her, his friendly blue eyes smiling at her as he stood on the other side of the table, mess tray in his hands. Though his eyes were cheerful, the rest of his expression looked hesitant - and even the light in his eyes faltered when he saw the tears in hers.
"Do you mind if I join you?
The death of Pauel had been rough on everyone involved on the crew; he hadn't seen his brother or the captain since he had been sent off to coordinate the ship's jump to the route that their tracked ship had taken. Now, with no new orders and one of the other bridge personnel relieving him at the helm, he was free to get food...which left him standing here, now, looking at Perdante. He hadn't expected to see her here. After that ordeal, he could only imagine that she needed sleep more than food...he knew he did. Not that he was going to be allowed to sleep or anything.
Niera paced in her quarters, having been kept out of the loop during the apprehension of Pauel due to her non-military status, and having received no word from Garren since the Millennial left Coruscant. Having sliced into the computer network, she discovered the dangers of even landing on Cocyta.
Just as she was thinking of Garren, a message came on the comm from a nearby Aurek fighter. "This is Jedi Knight Torent Quillan requesting permission to dock. I have been sent by Admiral Carth Onasi to assist you in the attack on Cocyta." Torent sent to the Millennial, pausing a moment. "And to deliver a message of a personal nature to Niera Secura."
ABOARD THE MILLENNIAL, MESS HALL
Perdante turned with a sudden jolt at the newest arrival in the Millennial's mess hall! It was none other than Salvatore "Sal" Caraway, brother of the one man who could possibly have killed Pauel. Smiling, she gestured to one of the metal seats nearby, where "Sal" could deposit himself and his tray of food. Freeze-dried, for the most part, but perfectly adequate.
"I'm glad to have some company," she said, sniffling a bit, "especially after what happened. I don't understand how Pauel could have died so quickly, unless..." She shook her head, trying not to think of it, especially the emotional aspects of the recent death that had just occurred. "Even as a Jedi, I'm taking it hard," she admitted. "We aren't supposed to cry, but I can't help it. I guess it's just a part of human nature, especially when something goes so terribly, terribly wrong! Why in the Force..." Perdante trailed off.
She looked Sal straight in the eye. "I wasn't fond of Pauel," she said, "with him being our enemy and the second-most-important member of the Found. However, I'm sorry that he's dead, and not just because we needed more information from him than the mere mention of the planet where Khristoff has his headquarters. If there's anything I've learned as a Jedi, it's that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how evil they are or have been in the past! Juhani taught me that, and it holds true even now."
Darkness ruled the decrepit room. Fungal growth lined the cracks on the walls and a single lamp was held in suspension above the center of the room. Below it was a man strapped to a chair and a fully-suited Issac with a dripping red knife on hand.
Beaten and tortured, the wreck of a man looked up at his captor and cried. He knew that he would not survive. However, it wouldn't hurt to try.
“Issac, please, I know that we can-” the man attempted to beg, but was cut off as the knife plunged into his thigh. The man screamed and was not heard. Issac simply watched and waited for him to finish.
The man screamed for a few seconds before passing out, only to be revived a few moments later via injection administered by Issac. Groans of pain filled the room as the man came to and again looked up at Issac. The visor, with the skull carved into it, seemed to be grinning wickedly at the man. Under the visor, he knew that Issac's expression was emotionless. The suit was the personification of the scarred individual underneath, an individual he had helped create. His worst mistake.
“If you let me live,” the man sputtered, his speech slurred and his senses screaming, “then I can tell you something that you would want to know.” The man was actually surprised that he'd been allowed to finish the sentence. Despite his poor wording, he'd expected to be cut off again both literally and figuratively. Instead, Issac's head actually tilted in interest.
“If I let you live,” Issac replied, setting his foot on the man's uninjured leg, “then you tell me what I would want to know.” At that point Issac yanked the knife out of the man's leg.
“Yes! Yes! I'll tell you,” the man howled, “You already looked through your files right? The information based around you and the program? About your friends and family?”
“Not everything was in the files. Before we picked you up, we were tracking your sister as a candidate for the program.”
“Explain.” Issac said, now visibly interested.
“She goes by the name of Perdante Dareva. She was born nine years before you by your mother and given up for adoption in the Coruscant slums. Why your mother gave her up I don't know. We were tracking her for recruitment when she disappeared and she only reappeared recently as a Sith Initiate. She left the Sith and joined the Jedi in a mission to fight an anti-force cult known as the Found. We would have tried to claim her, but given her duty to the Republic and your siege of our operation, it was impossible.” the man explained, each sentence followed by moments of heaving.
“And where is she now?”
“She's aboard a Republic frigate called the Millennial, captained by Fara Starr. They're en route to Cocyta.”
“How does the director of the program know this?”
“I sanctioned experimentation with a force-inhibiting mineral that the cult now uses. The mineral was too unstable however, so the experiment was abandoned. When they started using it, we kept tabs.”
Under normal circumstances, such interrogation wouldn't have forced the man to give information that truthful. That being said, these circumstances were abnormal enough to make every one of his words absolutely true. However, he didn't expect Issac to believe him. More than likely, Issac thought this was just a well-crafted story for this inevitable scenario. So it surprised the man when Issac replied “I believe you.”
“I do. I will let you live.”
“Why?” That was not normally a question that the man would have asked, but Issac had a pattern of absolutely murdering everything.
“Because you are the failed byproduct of your own experimentation, and the Republic does not sanction failures of your magnitude. It buries them and makes sure they never see the light of day.”
The weight of this proclamation struck the man like lightning. It was true. After this, the man would never oversee the direction of any Republic position again. Life was all that mattered though and he could only let out a cry of relief as Issac removed his foot from the man's knee.
This jubilation only lasted a few short moments, however, as Issac walked behind the chair and plunged the knife into the back of the man's head. The man's body immediately slumped as Issac removed his knife.
“I lied.” Issac stated as he wiped the blood off the knife onto the man's motionless form. He sheathed the knife, took one glance around the room he was in, and added “But you did not.”
((I'll introduce my second character in a few posts.))
Juhani's dreams were filled with darkness. The future was clouded far beyond her ability to see. But what she could see filled her with confusion. She knew that what she could see was fragmented but even the fragments that she could see made no sense.
Fighting back to back with a Mandalorian wearing dark red armor. But that didn't make sense. The Mandalorians were reforming under the banner of Mandalore the Preserver on the moon of Dxun.
Juhani didn't hate the Mandalorians despite their part in the near genocidal attack on cathar, As a jedi she was able to put her hatred of the Mandalorians behind her. But she still didn't trust them.
So why would I be fighting with one of them? And who is this enemy that we are fighting? What foe could possibly be dangerous enough that I would fight with a Mandalorian?
Juhani simply sighed and decided to quite trying to meditate and decided to check on her apprentice. She knew that Perdante was upset by what had happened to the prisoner that they had captured. She could feel how upset her apprentice was through the force.
The doors to her quarters opened and Juhani walked through on her way to the mess hall.
Sal listened as he sat down, looking with concern upon the woman that he had grown so fond of recently. He wasn't about to go confessing his love to her - he had only just met her, for Force's sake - but he definitely wasn't going to allow her to go on feeling so miserable. He didn't begin to eat just yet, but looked at her instead.
"You might be a Jedi," he said quietly, "But you are only human. We're incredibly emotional things, and if you have to cry, there really is no stopping it. So don't beat yourself up; it isn't your fault.
"And I can see why you would be so upset over Pauel especially." Now he allowed himself a quick drink from his glass, and he settled more comfortably into his seat, his hands on the table. "I mean...in a way, he was you. A Republic and Jedi enemy, captured by a Jedi, and brought to the Republic. That Pauel died, while you were redeemed..." He fell quiet and dropped his eyes, suddenly getting the sense that he might not have been helping by saying what he was. With a sigh, he gave her a little, sad smile.
"It'll be okay, Perd. We're locked onto Mica's tracer, and the signal is strong. We're going to find Khristoff, and make certain that his weapon never hurts anyone ever again."
Having received the message about the incoming Jedi, Niera waited patiently in the hangar, afraid of what his message might be. As the Aurek Fighter landed, she took a deep breath, and watched as the Jedi Knight stepped out of the ship. "Are you Niera Secura?" He asked her.
"Yes. You have a message for me?" Niera inquired.
"I'm sorry to inform you that your boyfriend, Garren Shain, was killed in the attempt to apprehend Senator Plina Skelch. The Republic and the Jedi Order are deeply sorry for your loss." Torent explained.
Niera couldn't believe it. Garren always had a way out, some way to cheat death. Holding back tears, she asked, "And what of Skelch?" She asked.
"In his final moments, Garren was able to take a lucky shot, and kill her." Torent told her. "We owe him a great deal. We wouldn't be where we now in our fight against the Found if not for him."
"Then we need to finish what he started." Niera replied.
ABOARD THE MILLENNIAL, MESS HALL
"I hope not," the Jedi Knight replied, trying to return Sal's smile but finding it extraordinarily difficult. "In this case, Khristoff and Pauel's primary weapon is not a blaster, a starship, or even the Force! It's a metal which happens to be highly toxic, and like all metals, this ostanovium could be concentrated almost anywhere. I'd like to think that's what killed Pauel, and not..." She trailed off, not wanting to offend Sal or arouse his own suspicions in addition to hers.
"Regardless, you're right. We will find Khristoff, and he will fall." Perdante's voice suddenly turned cold. "No one can cause as much death and destruction as he has without paying the ultimate price. I consider myself fortunate," she continued, the ruthlessness in her tone vanishing, "that I myself haven't been slain. That's a typical end for a Sith, even an Initiate such as I had once been." She raised an eyebrow toward Sal, wondering if he'd judge her harshly for this.
Niera and Torent then entered the mess hall, and hearing Perdante's remark, she commented, "You were always better than them. I'll kill him myself, for Garren." Noone else on board knew about Garren's death, but Niera's tone did enough to imply it.
"It is good to see you again, Perdante, though I wish it could have been under better circumstances." Torent said to Perdante, having not seen her in months, due to varying assignments.
(I figured as Jedi, they'd at least be acquaintances)
((JP with FFWM! YAY!))
The Ship that was Formerly Pauel's, en route to Cocyta
Arai didn't understand how "normal" people could handle it. Arms outstretched, fingers brushing against the narrow walls of the corridor toward the cockpit. Without the Force, her balance was off. She'd already stumbled twice since leaving the dorm and she was having a rough time focusing her mind on anything. She reached the cockpit and vaguely realized that Dom was there... and then the toe of her right shoe imitated a stray spear and drove into the floor. Completely offset, she fell headlong into the cockpit with a startled yelp.
The yelp made Dominic start. He had been watching the constantly-warping tunnel of hyperspace for quite some time now...and her collapse had been the first sign of movement that he'd seen in some time. He blinked, seeing her on the ground, and he immediately pulled his feet from the dashboard and stood up, crossing to her.
"Arai!" he said, bending to help her up. He couldn't understand the sequence of events; one minute he was alone, the next minute she was on the floor.
By the time he reached her, she was on her hands and knees, trying to collect herself. Slowly, she reached up, grasping his arms and pulled herself up on her knees.
"Sorry," she murmured. "Not quite..." She blinked. "Not quite myself... at the moment."
"Yeah...I'll say." He got down on his knees, helping her to balance with one hand while he placed the back of the other against her forehead. She was so pale, almost as if she had a..."No fever." he murmured, then tilted her chin upward a little so he could see her eyes. Something felt off - not in that intuition way, but in that strange echo way that he sometimes got. The same thing he'd felt when meeting that Sith woman for the first time..."What's wrong?"
"When we were with Pauel..." she said slowly. "... before you pulled us out the window? I saw what was coming just enough... little twitch of the hand, snagged his bag. Ostanovium inhalers..." She mimicked the gesture of using one. "Puff." She grimaced. "Was it like this for you? All disoriented and like..." She sighed. "Like something's missing? Something you need for survival?"
Dominic looked at her for a long moment, as if he hadn't quite understood what she had said. Then, slowly, "You...you took ostanovium?" The way he said the words...he sounded hurt.
Arai's eyes widened, dismayed by how pained he sounded. She was used to feeling emotion through the Force, but to hear it in a voice - especially the voice of someone she cared about - brought her to the verge of tears.
"I-I'm sorry," she stammered. "I-I thought... I thought that's what you wanted..."
"Wanted?" he repeated. His hurt was turning, as it always did, into pain quite quickly, and he narrowed his eyes now. "You think I wanted you to take ostanovium? You think I wanted you to poison yourself??"
The tears flowed freely now and she bowed her head, looking for all the galaxy like a young child, ashamed at having been caught with her hand in a cookie jar. "Noo," she murmured, trying desperately to control her voice. "To be Force-free..." She looked up earnestly and asked, "But didn't Pauel say the inhalers were safe?"
"He did, but he also believed that the pills were safe!" Dominic shook his head, standing up and pulling her to her feet. Slowly, carefully, he maneuvered her into the seat he had vacated a moment ago. "Why would you ever want to get rid of the Force, Raia?"
Brushing a hand over her tear-streaked cheeks, she shook her head. "I couldn't keep doing that to you," she whispered. "My... the Dark Side... my episodes kept coming faster, and every time you stopped me, I saw you getting weaker." She sighed put her head in her hands. "It had to end."
Dominic's eyes widened...and then his entire body seemed to deflate. He sank to one knee while she was seated, and he touched her cheek to make her look at him. "You did this for me?"
Through her tears, Arai nodded and brought her hand up to his. "You did such a good job of saving me. Someone had to save you."
The pilgrim sighed and closed his eyes, leaning in to touch his forehead to hers. "I don't need saving, you silly little thing." he murmured. "You have nothing to do what's going on with me...and even if you did, I wouldn't want you taking those kinds of risks. They aren't worth it."
Gently, she pushed him back until she could look into his eyes. "Will you at least consider the tattoo as a possible cause for your symptoms?" she pleaded.
He looked at her, askance. "Raia..."
She looked almost desperate. "Please."
"Fine." he said grudgingly, standing up again. "On one condition."
Her eyes lit up. "Anything."
"Tell me where the other inhalers are."
She stared at him for a moment. Then, she nodded. "In the dorm, under the bed."
"Thank you." he said, turning to the corridor. But he stopped halfway there and turned to look at her, wagging a finger. "Don't move from that seat, you understand me?"
Her eyes sparkling, Arai nodded solemnly. "Not an inch," she promised.
"Good girl." he said over his shoulder, with an air of laughter that was very different from his prior attitudes. A moment later, he had disappeared down the hall.
Even before Juhani entered the mess hall she could tell her apprentice was still upset by what had happened to the prisoner.
I can't really blame her either. We were so close and then something had to happen to the prisoner. And the strange thing is is that I couldn't sense his death immediatly when it happened. It was a few moments after his death that I sensed a disturbance.
"Appren- Perdante." She corrected herself as she entered the mess hall and walked toward them. "I could sense you through the force...Are you alright?"
ABOARD THE MILLENNIAL, MESS HALL
Apparently, my signature in the Force becomes far more pronounced when I cry... She glanced from Torent to Niera to Juhani, and back again, her eyes remaining sad. "If by 'all right', you mean 'in no danger of dying', then of course I'm all right," she replied. "However, if your intention is to ask me if I'm in top form and condition to fight, then my answer is no." She sighed, and her breath quavered as it rushed out of her lungs. "Greetings to all of you." She gestured for the three who had just arrived to take seats near her at the mess hall table. "I'm still having trouble coming to terms with the fact that Pauel's dead. In my mind, I know that there is no death; there is the Force; but my heart says that Pauel never had a chance to become one with it when he perished!"
"I'm still having trouble coming to terms with the fact that Pauel's dead. In my mind, I know that there is no death; there is the Force; but my heart says that Pauel never had a chance to become one with it when he perished!"
Juhani nodded once. "Listen to me Perdante, I believe that Pauel had many chances to leave the found but he didn't. What happened to him was tragic and it's even more tragic that he couldn't join with the force when he died, but now is not the time to mourn. Now is the time to prepare for what is to come."
She looked at Perdante's face and noticed that she had been crying. "You don't have to hold your tears in apprentice, if you feel the need to weep then weep. No one will think less of you if you do."
"He's not the only one to weep for. I was just informed that Garren was killed completing the other of half of our mission." Niera added, feeling that they should know. He was a friend to Perdante and Juhani at the very least. "That's why I intend to kill Khristoff myself."
Perdante blinked. "I can feel the hatred roiling off of you in waves, Niera," she said softly. "I'm sorry that--Garren lost his life--but he died a hero. Plina Skelch was a cold-blooded murderess, not a Galactic Senator. She was a disgrace to all of the Republic's citizens, and everything that it stands for. I--understand why you want Khristoff to die by your own hand, but be careful. As a former Sith, I know how quickly the desire for revenge can destroy you. There was a time..."
She paused for a moment, clearing her throat. "However, I'm sure that we all have better things to do than sit around and listen to me tell stories! How closely are we following Dominic and Arai? Do you suspect that THEY suspect they're being tracked?" With one last sniffle, she wiped a sticky film of tears from her eyes. "If not, how much time do you think we have before we reach Cocyta? I've never even heard of that planet before," she admitted tersely.
"The navicomputer estimated about another fifteen minutes to half an hour before we arrive - and even then, it will take some time for us to get a battle plan together." Very rarely did Sal choose to offer insight into a matter that was strictly for Jedi, so up until now he had been silent. But since a question had been made concerning his field, he felt obligated to reply. He looked around at each of those gathered. "That means that we still have time for anyone who needs it to get a bit of shut-eye - and I recommend it."
The officer turned his gaze then to Perdante, having completely forgotten his food by now. "We can't really know what's going to be waiting for us on the other side of this jump; it'd be best if we were all firing on full cylinders."
OUTSIDE THE MILLENNIAL, NEAR THE INHABITED ASTEROID N'TALA
They're too close. Far too close. Prophet Khristoff, you have stationed me as a scout and assassin out here to protect your sacred world, and protect it I shall. These scum are only thirty minutes away from reaching Cocyta's atmosphere. I'll make sure that this ship and its crew never will! You did not teach me the Truth in order for me to let its enemies win, or even survive. My name is Torian K'il, and for your sake alone, Holy Prophet, I shall kill!
Torian K'il's vessel, cloaked in shadow, did not miss the arrival of the behemoth that was the spacecraft Millennial. The device which shrouded K'il's vehicle in a haze of radar-scrambling radiation and electricity did not use the Force. Naturally, none of Khristoff's servants ever did, and K'il was no exception. He was a Rodian, a pilot who had been laid off by his conglomerate on Nar Shaddaa that wanted to cut costs. Peh! He had been one of the best employees of NarOmni Corp., and now...Once he had listened to the words of the Prophet, his life began to have meaning and purpose once more. Khristoff preached that greed and the lust for power were the source of all evil. NarOmni Corp. had transgressed, and its employees would pay for it...
That was why Torian fashioned a crude bomb and planted it in the Corporate Office when he went to retrieve his last credit chit. The building burned right down to the ground, with all of the people still in it. Idiots! The last cost-saving measures they took were to become lax in fire safety...
It was their fault. Not his. Torian shook his head, thinking of those who had lost their lives with nothing but contempt. People such as they deserved to die, along with the Jedi, Sith, and anyone who used the Force for their own selfish gain. He narrowed his bulbous eyes at his target.
Three shots--hull, shields, engine systems. One, two, three. FIRE!
Each monstrous blast of heat met its intended target, the parts of the Millennial that were not only vulnerable, but would cause complete chaos aboard the ship if they were hit. Obliterating you would simply be too easy. I watched that building burn. It was entirely too quick! The Office was constructed of such cheap materials that my bomb completely incinerated it before I could fully enjoy the agony of those who had taken my livelihood away. Now I shall watch you suffer, intruders, and suffer slowly! If any of you manage to make it to the escape pods, you'll be forced to crash-land on N'tala, an asteroid inhabited by disgusting, yellowish-green, hostile aliens!
If the locals don't kill you outright, they'll imprison you all for being spies!
As Torian watched the Millennial stagger in space, he smiled coldly.
The overhead speakers errupted in a screetch of sound, causing the entire cafeteria to give up a shout of surprise and pain in response. Sal looked up, as if the answer would be written on the ceiling. Taking his communicator from his belt, he put the speaker in front of his mouth.
"Sal to Navigations Officer," he said into the radio, forsaking his surname to save the confusion. It didn't much matter anyway; the only answer he received was an earful of static. Frowning, he tried again. "Sal to Navigations Officer." Still nothing.
"I'm going to the Bridge." He announced, standing up - but he got as far as getting one foot free of the bench before the ship gave a sudden lurch and he was thrown, skidding, to the floor. Before he could regain his feet, two more explosions shook the ship, and a screetching alarm joined the shouts that now filled the air. Salvatore swore as he got to his feet, not looking back at the others before he took off running for the exit.
When he arrived at the Bridge, they were already in full-battle readiness, with Fara at the helm, shouting out orders.
"What the hell do you mean, you can't find them??" She barked at the recon officer as Sal took his place again at the navigation station. His brother was already at his.
"Communication relays are being jammed as quickly as I can pull them up." He announced. "Trying to find an open channel."
"Our long-range sensors are down, too - the short-range ones nearly are, too!"
"Something with enough firepower can't be difficult to find! It must be nearly our size!" Fara's face was going red. "Sal, turn her--"
"I'm trying!" He cried, his face going white. "But we've lost an engine and are leaking fuel!!"
ABOARD THE MILLENNIAL, MESS HALL
Pain. Blinding pain. I think my left eye is bleeding, too...! When the ship gave its sudden lurch, Perdante had fallen straight to the cold metal floor of the mess hall. Her face had bumped the sharp corner of the table on the way down. No...not the socket, no damage. Still, I have a big gash...
No matter. I have to get to the Bridge and tell the Captain what I sense!
Summoning all of her courage, the Jedi scrambled to her feet, rubbed her pounding head, and bolted toward where Captain Starr and Salvatore were. The Captain herself was shouting, and Sal? The poor man was trying to follow her stream of orders, and he seemed to be lost in the confusion.
I haven't been overwhelmed by that much evil in something, or someone, since Seeker Adeline shackled me to the Throne of Gain back on Coruscant. This one that fired upon our ship is only surpassed in cruelty by his master. If he's not one of Khristoff's minions, then I don't know what he is. Not even the Sith would be this sadistic. They'd just blow up the Millennial. Checkmate!
Thus, quivering, she rushed up to Captain Starr and gurgled out one word:
Fara's eyes widened as she saw the bleeding Jedi come running at her, and she turned towards her with arms outstretched to catch her as she stumbled. The captain looked up at Mica, a new anxiety in her expression. "Mica!"
"The med team's already on it's way." He called back, his forehead furrowed as his fingers flew across his console.
"You found an open channel?"
"It's unencrypted, so whoever is out there can hear whatever we're saying." He answered, "But it's working."
"Good - keep it that way, and get some technicians to the engine room immediately!" Fara turned then to Perdante, brushing one hand across her face to try and clear her skin of the blood. If she could just see what was actually bleeding..."Assassins?" She asked, repeating the gasped word. "What are you talking abo--ooout!"
The word turned into a cry as the ship gave another jerk and sent Captain Fara to the ground - Perdante on top of her - and many others along with her.
"I've got one engine!" Sal announced, a moment too late.
ABOARD THE MILLENNIAL, AMID THE CHAOS AND DESTRUCTION
"Khristoff's men," the Jedi squeezed out between labored breaths. She was reassured by Captain Starr's weight, and wanted to give her a hug, but she knew that would be far more than unprofessional. "We're...too close to Cocyta...should have known...why would he not have scouts?"
In response to Captain Starr's anxious gaze, Perdante explained, "The Force. It never lies. Evil--so close. We have to--escape--before it's too late...
The roar of a Mandalorian assault rifle echoed through the otherwise silent enviorment as Zarev pointed his Mandalorian assault rifle up towards the sky and fired it in an attempt to scare away the aliens who were curiously looking at him and the wreckage of his ship. The tactic worked, the aliens fled away and Zarev sighed as he looked at his surviving weapns and the small pile of rations. The only weapons that had survived the crash was his personal blaster, his Mandalorian heavy repeater and the assualt rifle that he had just used.
I hate this asteroid. I hate these aliens. And I hate the fact that I was careless enough to get shot down.
A small chime sounded as he turned toward what remained of his ship and he walked over just in time to see the sensor control panel flash weakly and then die out.
It's a wonder it lasted as long as it did.
Millennial, En route to the bridge
Juhani ran through the corridors of the damaged ship as she tried to get to the bridge. It was all happening so fast, one second she had been in the mess hall and the next minute the ship had been hit by some sort of weapons fire.
It seems as if the leader of the Found doesn't want us to find him. It's times like this that I wish I had Bastila's battle meditation ability.
Zen took a step forward and swung his sword arm for the hundredth time now. Ever since they had found out where the Prophet of Truth had been hiding, the mighty Sangheili had been getting himself ready in the training room. This time he brought his sword arm back as well as one of his legs. He moved the same leg forward and thrusted his sword arm forward as well.
Khristoff would pay for everything he had done. For the deaths of many Found members, the death of Adeline, and now for hiding like a coward. Zen would avenge them all and return to them the honor they had lost when he killed Khristoff.
Suddenly the alien found himself hitting a wall. Zen snarled and quickly regained his balance. He picked up the sword he dropped and placed it at his side again. Zen left the training room and began to head to the bridge. His guess was that the attackers were going to take out all their engines and leave them wide open for attack.
The Sangheili had just made it to the bridge when yet another shot made the ship shake. Zen was able to hold onto a pole this time to keep himself from falling again. He arrived just in time to hear Sal's announcement.
"Our attackers approach us from behind, how cowardly of them." Zen remarked bitterly. He came to Perdante's aid and helped her stand on her two feet again. He noticed the blood and would let the Jedi lean on him if she needed the assistance. "Captain Starr, what are your orders?" he asked as he extended his arm down to her to help her up.
((Is it all right if I play as a little girl, with Force sensitivity, Tysy?))
((Sure! I'd love to meet her once we crash-land on the asteroid N'tala, though.))
ABOARD THE MILLENNIAL, AMIDST THE CHAOS AND DESTRUCTION
Perdante was all too glad to let Zen help hoist her to her feet. Even with the help of the Force, her balance was still shaky, and the spot where her head smashed against the table corner was still ringing. She gazed at him alarmedly.
"We might need to head for the escape pods," she said quickly. "Those hits were specifically meant to disable our most important systems, and make us suffer before the Millennial is blown into thousands of bits of scrap metal!"
((Hey, Chevron? I'm sorry I forgot to clarify a little bit more about the 'disgusting aliens'. The asteroid of N'tala is actually a colony of Mal, where we will meet Master Archon's character. Torian K'il thinks they're disgusting, but they're not. Torian is just a bigot. That said, could you please edit your last post so you're not killing any of the aliens on N'tala?
Thanks, and sorry for the confusion!))
Captain Starr was just regaining her feet when - as if in response to Tysy's assumption - the ship shook again with another proton bomb's impact. The impact sent the aft end of the Millenial skidding sideways; the efforts of Sal to turn the ship around only complicated it, and the ship did a slow one-eighty. Slow as it was, the gravity systems couldn't keep up, and Captain Starr was now thrown against her command console, as Mica went rolling out of his seat.
A moment later, a siren began to go off.
"Mica!" Fara cried, "Get an open broadcast set up! I need to get out an SOS!"
"It's no use!" he growled from the deck, slowly regaining his feet and his balance as the ship gradually came to a resting stop. "There isn't anyone in this sector, and we'll be blasted to smitheriens before anyone even gets a chance to set a hyperspace route!"
"Then I need blasters!" Fara was gradually moving towards hysterics. She had been captain of the Millenial for over ten years now...she wasn't about to lose her now! Her fingers flew across her console's touch-screen. "Where are my turrets??"
"We can't get the turrets to shoot at something we can't locate!" Mica just sounded angry now. He abandoned his post and marched to the other side of her podium, putting his hand on the top and glaring at her. "Forget it, Fara."
"I don't care if we can see it or not! I want every single blasted piece of ordinance we have on this ship going loud, now! Even shooting blindly, we have to be able to hit one of them!"
Mica reached across the top of the podium and slammed Fara's hands into the console to stop them, forcing her to look at him. "Fara."
Another rumble sounded deep within the ship. Now, an automated voice joined the siren.
"Critical systems failing."
The Millenial's bow began to sink.
"Critical systems failing."
Fara stared up at Mica, her eyes wide and glassy. Her mouth had abruptly gone dry.
"Critical systems failing."
Finally, the captain straightened up. Her eyes were dead, but her voice carried all of its usual military authority.
"Salvatore," she said, "What's our trajectory?"
"I managed to balance her out with starboard facing a nearby asteroid." the Navigations Officer answered. "Unfortunately, I have no engines left to move; using the port pods will fling us into empty space."
"Very well." Fara answered, and then looked down at her console. "Mica, get me that open channel."
The Communications Officer looked at her for a moment before he returned to his console. A few clicks later, she had a link waiting on her podium. She hit it, verified her identification number, and made the following broadcast.
"Attention all hands," she said in a calm, directive voice, "Abandon ship. Repeat, all hands to the starboard escape pods. Immediately. Abandon ship."
Once the announcement was finished, Sal set the Millenial - as best he could - on a trajectory that would maintain her current position, allowing the pods to make it to the asteroid. But even so, there wouldn't be enough pods for everyone...
That thought sent his heart thundering into his throat. Not enough pods. If he wasn't fast, he wasn't going to survive this.
And if Perdante didn't get help, she wouldn't be fast enough, either.
Before anyone could make their move - most bridge officers were carrying out the final protocol that went into effect during a Code 911 - Salvatore launched himself from his seat, and ran over to where Perdante was standing by the Sangheili.
"No time to wait for medical attention." he said, bending. "So if you'll excuse me."
Before getting her permission - and before Zen could react - the Navigations Officer had lifted the wounded Jedi into his arms bridal-style, and took off down the starboard corridor.
His twin was left stewing behind him, waiting for Fara to retrieve, copy, and then wipe the ship's logs as his brother made off with his intended target.
WITHIN ESCAPE POD 01, HEADED FOR THE ASTEROID N'TALA
"S-Sal?" stuttered Perdante after Salvatore hoisted her into the tiny two-person pod, shaped rather like a torpedo, but with far less lethal power. "Thanks for your help. You truly are a soldier of the Republic--leave no one behind." Despite herself and the intense fear she was feeling at the moment, the Jedi Knight smiled. "Without you, I'd be checkmated..."
With a warning hiss, the escape pod breached its berth as the Millennial continued to crumble. In a matter of seconds, she would explode. It was inevitable, for Torian K'il's shots had been so well-placed that there was no way anyone could hold their faithful starship together now. It was either the Millennial or their very lives, and every member of the crew knew which option they would pick. An immediate evacuation was absolutely paramount.
((Hey, where can I meet you guys now?))
((Is it alright if Juhani and Zen are in the same escape pod?))
Even as the ship came to pieces around her, Juhani remained focused on her goal: To get to one of the escape pods and survive this unexpected attack on the Millennial.
Whoever attacked us must have some powerful weapons, she thought as she finally reached the area in the starboard side of the ship where the escape pods were located after a few minutes of running. She took a quick look at the remaining pods and noticed that only a few were left.
I can only hope that most of the crew has already escaped, she thought as she jumped in the escape pod.
((Zen would be honored))
Zen wasn't sure exactly what had just happened. One moment Perdante was beside him, and the next Sal was taking her away. Zen was beginning to like Sal the more the spent time around the human. Though he had thought of Sal as a slacker before, he now saw a proud human warrior. Zen let out a chuckle before he went out into a sprint.
Zen made his way down the hallway and decided to hop into an escape pod all the way at the end. He saw a familiar Cathar with a lightsaber inside the same escape pod.
"In brings me great joy to see you made it Jedi Knight Juhani." Zen then decided to add in. "You do not need to worry about your apprentice. Sal is taking her to an escape pod as we speak."
((THREADMASTER'S NOTE: This is a placeholder to let all of you know that in my VERY next post, the evil Torian K'il is going to fire one more shot at the Millennial, because he's seen the escape pods go off. Meaning, our faithful starship is going to explode, and the aliens on N'tala are going to help us find a new one (hopefully!) So, if you don't want to end up fried, be a pea in a pod! :)
"There's no need to thank me." Sal said with a smile. In all honesty, her gratitude only embarrassed him - especially considering the particularly selfish motives he had for snatching her up so quickly. Beyond the fact that he didn't want to see the Jedi woman hurt, 'rescuing' her also meant that they would be alone for quite some time...first the time it took for their pod to hit surface, and then the time it takes for them to meet up with the survivors of the other pods. It probably wouldn't amount to anything more than an hour, but...the Republic officer wasn't complaining. Some time was better than no time at all.
He steadied himself with one arm against the wall of the pod, his other hand resting on her upper arm to steady her, in turn. Once they were jettisoned, he decided that now would be better than never to tend to that cut she had.
"When did this happen?" he asked her with a little smile. One of the packs on his belt served as a semi-first aid kit, and from there he took a few little gauze pads to mop up what blood was left. "Did you lose a fight with one of the sentry droids? Here, hold still." And to emphasize her 'holding still', his free hand took hold of her chin between his thumb and the side of his forefinger, holding her head in place.
- - - - - - - - - -
Captain Starr stood by the last of the starboard escape pods, ushering the panicking soldiers into them - but showing no intention of getting into one herself. There wouldn't be enough pods for the entirety of the crew; already, they were packing five to six people into the pods only designed to hold three at absolute most. That being said, Fara knew what her duty was, and she was resigned to it. Everyone knows that any good captain goes down with her ship.
But Mica, it seemed, had other plans. As a power conduit exploded from the ceiling somewhere above, a wall panel blow out in a surge of electricity, he sprinted down the corridor towards her. The ship's logs had been officially wiped entirely; nothing now was left. He had a copy of all the wiped information on a disk in his bag, and now that all his responsibilities were finished, there was no way in hell that he was going to be left behind on this wreck as it went up in flames. And the captain...she could still be of use to him yet.
As Fara turned around to answer his call, her eyes went wide. He was barreling straight for her, showing no signs of stopping - and indeed, he didn't. Instead, he threw his shoulder into her stomach and physically tackled her into the escape pod that stood open behind her. Despite that they landed in the laps of those who were already occupying the pod, Mica managed to move quickly enough to slam the hatch and jettison the pod before anyone else could react. When Fara sat up, there was murder in her eyes.
"Mica, what the hell do you think you're doing??"
"Niera, come on! This way!" Torent shouted out, spotting Niera make her way for the escape pods. "What are you talking about? We have to get to the escape pods!" She shouted back. "They need all the space they can spare on those pods; if we get out on my Aurek fighter, that's two more crewmembers who will be able to get off the ship." Torent explained. "Then lead the way, Jedi." Niera conceded.
Despite the ship's deteriorating condition, the two of them managed to make it to the hangar in time, and boarded Torent's fight. Just before he took off, Niera commented, "We should have been expecting something like this."
Torian K'il gnashed his lips (the Rodian equivalent of gnashing his teeth) in a foul display of wrath and frustration. "Skark!" he spat. "They're getting away!" With one last insane-sounding screech, he fired his last torpedo straight at the heart of the Millennial. When he realized that the weapon had met its mark, Torian threw his scaly hands in the air. "Die, Jedi scum!" he shrieked, enraged.
The Millennial proceeded to obey the assassin's orders by exploding into a near nova-size ball of fire, not-yet-spent fuel, scrap metal, and burning flesh.
The sight was a horrific one to see.
Sal and Perdante were far enough away from the explosion that the escaping pressure only jostled their pod, caused it to wobble about a hundred degrees in each direction, before it steadied out again. The Republic officer had just enough time after hearing the explosion to switch from one side of the pod to the other, settling himself in beside Perdante as the wave hit them. They braced themselves against each other until the energy was spent, and their pod evened out again.
Many of the other pods weren't so lucky. Those that had jettisoned only moments before the final explosion were either engulfed in the explosion itself, or battered by shrapnel until they lost velocity, were punctured, or crushed into useless steel cans. Fara, who saw all this from the small, square back window in her pod, screamed a disbelieving "No!" at the fireball. There were still so many of her men there on the ship...so many who met a horrible end on a mission that wasn't supposed to be so violent...
She was in the midst of getting to her feet, planning to make a run at the pod's hatch, when the wave caught them. Their pod was much closer than Sal's; instead of simply wobbling, their pod was slammed as if it had been struck by a massive hammer, an additional set of g-forces upsetting the balance of those in the cab. The captain and the officer were lucky; they weren't strapped in. Their bodies could account for the additional pressure by flying into the nose of the pod and slamming there. Fara was unconscious when she slid to the ground again. Mica was the only one around to hear the necks of those strapped tightly into the safety harnesses snap.
The escape pod containing Juhani and Zen ejected from the ship just before it exploded, the pod was far away enough from the ship not to be consumed by the explosive end of the Millennial but it wasn't far enough way from the ship to totally escape the shockwave.
"Hold onto something!" She shouted to Zen as the shockwave slammed into the pod and shook it violently. Juhani attempted to create a bubble of force energy around the pod only to have the pod shudder and shake and then she was sent flying into the side of the pod, not hard to kill her or knock her out but enough to make her lose her concentration and thus have the force bubble around the pod dissipate.
WITHIN ESCAPE POD 01, HEADED FOR THE ASTEROID N'TALA
When the Millennial met its end, Perdante could not keep from screaming. Any ordinary person might have done so under the circumstances, but the Jedi Knight felt a terror that those who weren't sensitive to the Force did not. She suddenly doubled over as if in pain, because she was. Gripping her head so tightly in her hands that she was almost pulling her hair out, she tried to stifle her shriek so that Sal wouldn't worry. "Aaagh--the pain--the pain--so much death--hundreds lost!"
At that moment, she wished she wasn't a Jedi. At that moment, she would not even have wanted to be among the ranks of the Sith again. At that moment, she wished she were seven years old, subsisting on the streets, but at least relatively safe. There were other homeless people who had helped to care for her, including aliens. Perdante yearned to be back among them, and at peace.
((JP with FFWM))
Pauel's Ship, en route to Cocyta
Arai picked at her food, so lost in thought that an explosion might be challenged to stir her. Though she was glad she and Dom had worked things out and she was trying to consider where they were going from here, losing her Force sensitivity had effectively shattered her concentration. As a result, it was the Force and her recent behavior with it that dominated her mind.
However, during one wild distraction from that train of thought, she wondered aloud, "What are we gonna do about Khristoff?"
Dominic had been in a world of his own, thoughtless and quiet, mechanically lifting his fork to his mouth and chewing on the noodles as his eyes stared down at an indiscriminate spot on the table. When she spoke, the only sign that announced his functioning was a single blink of his eyes.
"What do you mean, 'about' him?" he asked in return, making another deposit of noodles.
Arai looked up from her plate, puzzled. "Is that what I said?" She sighed and shook her head. "Sorry, this whole situation is terribly distracting." She tried desperately to focus her mind and chase down the thought fragment that had popped out.
"I think..." she sighed. "Well, I think it helps us, my current condition. It sort of saves us from extra scrutiny if he has tech to scan for Force sensitivity..."
Shaking her head, she tried to backtrack. "I mean... well, I guess you never really explained why you wanted to go to him. I know my reasons... though I'm seriously questioning them as of late..."
He looked up at her as she spoke, finished with his bite but not continuing to eat. When her voice drifted off, he bent his head down again, and lifted his fork. "I'm Found. He's my master. I'm going to him for instructions."
"Instructions," Arai murmured softly. She frowned, worried. "Do you think he'll have you..." She hesitated, unwilling to finish the thought.
He went on eating. "Have me what?"
"Kill," Arai answered reluctantly. "From all I've heard about the Found, they've been portrayed as murdering without discrimination. Jedi, Sith, neutral, it's all the same, it's all bad." Hurriedly, she added, "Not saying I believe it. I'd be very hard to convince that you would join up with something like that."
Dominic gave a little, wry smirk. "You make it sound as if killing is such a foreign thing."
Arai grimaced, recalling the incident that ultimately led to her exile. "It's not that... I guess I just don't think that every Force sensitive is worthy of death, whether they reject the Found or not."
"There isn't any other way to ensure the destruction of the Force's teachings."
Arai grimaced. "That's the excuse of someone who doesn't want to consider other options. There's always another way."
"Perhaps you can explain it to me, then." He said. He sounded annoyed now.
Her eyes widened. "Yeah, that was a bit blunt of me. Sorry..." Drawing in a deep breath and releasing it slowly, she tried again. "I don't believe that the complete destruction of the Force's teachings is possible, let alone wise. And even if the Found succeed in that goal, they need to understand that the Force users learned their skills from somewhere, without the aid of training by a knowledgeable master. If we learned to harness its power once, we can and will do it again."
"Then we'll start all over again. "
"And you'd be in a cycle no less endless than the conflict between Jedi and Sith," Arai pointed out. "At some point you have to examine your motives and ask what's the point? And is it worth it?"
He was quiet as he looked at her. "I think you're overestimating the powers of Force sensitives. It's a very rare occasion when an untrained person manages to learn how to consciously and directly wield the Force on their own."
"True," Arai agreed. "But even one ordinary person is capable of great things."
"He's also a much smaller sacrifice."
Arai frowned thoughtfully. "Alright. So let's consider this from a more personal aspect, Dom. I've given it a lot of hard thought, mainly because it's hard to think about anything else right now. Being cut off from the Force, I've lost a big and important part of myself. Granted, I was misusing my power, but the more time I spend away from it, the more I realize that was always a choice, and I never chose right. I never chose right because I feared choosing wrong. Didn't the Jedi always say, "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." In that at least, they were right. I'm not saying they always are. I'm just saying maybe there's a better alternative to wiping us out entirely. But I'll get to that later. Knowing I'll never be "Found", if Khristoff tells you I'm next on that hit list... how will you deal?"
Dominic looked surprised by that question... and then that surprise slowly began to fade into am empty expression; blank face, empty eyes. Now that he thought about it... he didn't know what he would do. His two greatest loyalties... Slowly, he shook his head and pushed away from the table. "Khristoff won't find out."
Arai couldn't let it go at that. She caught his hand. "But what if he does?"
He yanked his hand out of her grip. "He wont!"
Arai tucked her hands into her lap and lowered her gaze to the table. "I know he won't," she said softly. "I'll still be Forceless when we land, and for another couple hours afterward. I'm sorry. The thought just wouldn't shut up." She paused briefly, and then added, "I trust you."
He looked at her for a while, and then began moving again. "I'm glad." He picked up his plate, having lost his appetite. Because I don't know if I do.
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