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Author Topic: The Way to Illumination is Through the Shadows  (Read 181 times)

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Offline Joshmaul

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The Way to Illumination is Through the Shadows
« on: 05/26/17, 07:04:08 AM »
Colonel Ashmara Danrei was not happy. Not happy at all.

She had been prepared for deployment to Iokath with the rest of the Republic forces, commanding the "New Talaos Irregulars" - the company of disgruntled soldiers whose records had been faked to indicate they had died in battle, while instead joining with the colonel and Jedi Master Alieth Taldir at the Jedi's sanctuary on Tatooine. It had been a form of protest of sorts against the authoritarian regime of Leontyne Saresh, maintained even after she had left office. Danrei and the Irregulars had returned to Coruscant when the Eternal Fleet had gone on a rampage, protecting evacuees against hordes of skytroopers. When she had admitted the ruse to Supreme Commander Malcom, he had granted them full pardons.

The day before her departure, however, Master Taldir had put Captain Eidan Zherron, the ex-privateer who had commanded the Jedi Custodum's flagship Custodian's Watch during the recent battle, in touch with her. He had asked her to join a group of Jedi to confront that chest-thumping blowhard Colonel Exephos with his crimes. They had, and it was not what she had expected. Not in the slightest. After leaving Exephos' stronghold, she had gone to the Custodum Enclave, searching for the captain. She had found him on the enclave's balcony.

"You underhanded son-of-a-bitch sneak," she growled at him. Zherron turned at the sound of her voice, not having heard her come out of the enclave. "Why didn't you tell me this was all a ploy?"

The captain's cybernetic eyes hid whatever expression they might have had, but he still looked mildly confused. "What do you mean?"

"Exephos, you bastard! Why didn't you tell me this was all some kind of conspiracy? And that your Jedi friends here were in on it, for that matter! I didn't even want to be back in uniform, Zherron! My leg has hurt like hell for twenty years and still gives me a bit of a limp, so you can imagine I'm not thrilled with having all this damn weight on it."

"Now just back up for a minute, Colonel," Zherron said, anger in his voice. "What are you talking about? You went with Master Reymark and them to confront Exephos?"

"I did. And I found out that this whole mess is a sham." She explained what Exephos had revealed about the cabal, about his son, and what had become of the meeting in his stronghold. "Reymark kept looking around the room, and it took me until now to figure out what she was looking at. There was a spy camera in that room."

When she had finished, Zherron had the same look of confusion (sans the eyes) that Danrei had seen on the face of Colonel Artheer, the man Exephos had accused of being an Imperial spy. It was then that the Zabrak colonel realized he had no idea what the hell she was talking about. "You didn't know, did you?" She laughed. "You're blind more than physically, it would seem."

Zherron did not reply - he was still dumbfounded by the revelation. It sounded like a bad holonovel, but he knew Danrei was not one for exaggeration. "What is to be done?"

"What is to be done, Captain, is that I am going to Iokath with the Irregulars as planned. I did not get called back into the service by the Supreme Commander to get involved in witch hunts. This is a problem for you and your Jedi pals. So you deal with it." Without another word, she turned on her heel and marched back into the enclave, making her way to the exit.

Zherron just stared after her, still stupefied. He knew Exephos hated Jedi, but murder and torture seemed off the mark, even for him. "It was all for show?" he asked aloud, even though no one was listening to answer.
Circled tomb of a different age
Secret lines carved on ancient stone
Heroic kings laid down to rest
Forgotten is the race that no one knows


Offline Joshmaul

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Re: The Way to Illumination is Through the Shadows
« Reply #1 on: 05/30/17, 03:39:10 PM »
The Imperial dreadnought Sanguinar never had another captain even after Matthias Caudell rose first to the Admiralty, then to the rank of Moff - because he had taken that rein and never let it go. Nor did he intend to, so long as he remained in service.

"Emerging from hyperspace in the Iokath system, sir," the helm officer reported. "Escorts reporting all is green."

"All stop. Release the escorts with our thanks, and have them rejoin their fleet. Signal the command ships that we have arrived as per orders and request permission to unload our men to the surface."

After receiving his orders from the Ministry of War, Caudell had made a rendezvous with the Corvidae and the Photep, a pair of Terminus destroyers from the 14th Fleet, part of Moff Heermann's Wild Space Command, on their way back from Belkadan. It had been a long diversion of the Sanguinar's course from Dromund Kaas, but Caudell wanted someone who had been there already to guide him the rest of the way to Iokath. Plus, though a Harrower was a hell of a lot of ship on its own, having extra didn't hurt, either.

"We've received acknowledgements from the Empress' flagship, the Ziost Avenger, and the Stormwatch, sir," the executive officer reported. "We've been given full discretion to release our men. The base landing area has been highlighted for us inside the sphere."

"Very good. You have the conn, Commander. Bring us into formation with the rest of the fleet."

"Yes, sir."

Striding from the bridge, Caudell stepped into the turbolift and down to the hangar bay, where the Army detachment were boarding shuttles. He spotted his intended target, wearing his battered suit of Deathshadow armor, one of the first prototypes built by the Caymarnian Weapons and Armor Manufactory on Reydovan Prime more than a decade ago. Darth Cyanoculus, then the governor of that planet, had given one of these suits to him when the factory opened; another had gone to the late Commander Varan, the Chiss ex-cipher agent. "General Undjo."

"Yes, sir?" General Andav Undjo looked up from adjusting the sight on his sniper rifle; Caudell tried not to cringe at the mechanical "eyepatch" staring at him from the scar-faced general's right eye socket. Cybernetic implants, especially blatant ones like that, gave him the creeps.

Looking around for a moment to make sure no one else was listening, Caudell said, "I'm fairly certain he's down on the surface, Andav. Are you sure you're up for this?"

Undjo's organic left eye narrowed slightly. "Have I given you reason to think otherwise?" His tone made clear that he was not in the mood for this discussion.

Caudell took the hint. "Good luck down there, General." Undjo nodded as he put his helmet on. "For the Empire."

"For the Empire," the general replied, as he boarded the shuttle. Caudell left the hangar and headed back to the bridge, looking somewhat pensive.

As he arrived back at his command station, a blur of movement out the corner of his eye caught his attention. It was a small transport ship. He looked over at a nearby sensor board - it was a BT-7 Thunderclap used by the Republic Army, typically by SpecForce. And they were headed in as well.

"It seems this place has brought all comers," he said.

----

Colonel Danrei sat back in her chair as her pilots brought the ship in. She took in the sight of the strange metal sphere surrounded by a ring of debris...and of the two fleets holding position across from one another, with the third somewhat in the middle. No shooting up here yet, it looked like - but down there...

We may well be walking into a merry little war here, she thought. The Republic and the Empire, with the Alliance in the middle to reap the spoils. Her thoughts soured at the idea of Alliance forces here. They were a mixed bag of Republic and Imperial defectors, Jedi and Sith, pirates, mercenaries, Mandalorians...even Knights of Zakuul and legions of skytroopers. And then there was the Eternal Fleet...

The Outlander had removed Arcann and Vaylin only to pick up where they left off, or so it seemed to her. Danrei remembered all too vividly what had happened when the Republic had tried to fight a two-front war with both the Sith Empire and the Eternal Empire. She did not fancy repeating it, especially seeing that the new regime on Odessen looked to be even more powerful than Zakuul. But the Alliance was not the problem...yet. The Sith Empire, on the other hand...

Maybe this time, our leadership will have learned its lesson, she thought.
Circled tomb of a different age
Secret lines carved on ancient stone
Heroic kings laid down to rest
Forgotten is the race that no one knows