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Author Topic: Tales from the Shatari Legacy  (Read 4374 times)

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Offline Hawking

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Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« on: 08/20/14, 11:34:31 PM »
[OOC]: I am long overdue doing this. Got tired of dealing with a dozen threads, thought I'd let them all converge into one central place ala Orell, Aolanni and a few others. KEEP EYES HERE.


Characters:

-Hawking Shatari, Master of Myserty
-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

Offline Hawking

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #1 on: 09/08/14, 12:41:31 AM »
It was as the woman's skull impacted the desk with a sickening thud, followed by an equally disconcerting crunch that Lethash figured out that he had problems with his cohort's methods. The ferocious stare and disturbing silence that accompanied the forceful movement only helped to bring the point home- Carvur's hatred was as absolute as it as terrifying.

Telann'a D'Turialle's secretary, the one who had sassed Lethash so astutely, again met the desk at a distance too close for comfort, her face metamorphosing rapidly from human to indistinguishable mess, her strangled cries cut off with every reunion with the furniture.

Thud.

There was a time when Jedi Knight Kell Winters would have stepped in to do something about this, to alleviate the woman's suffering, but that time was long passed. He was no longer a Jedi Sentinel, and no longer in the business of attempting to save everyone he saw in peril. Ever since he had taken the moniker of Lethash, he'd accepted that there'd be certain sides of the job that he'd simply have to acknowledge, the suffering of innocents being one of them. Carvur had no such reservations. The woman was yanked backwards, woozy and dazed, her face coated in a layer of blood and busted bone.

"Vhere is D'Turialle?" Carvur's guttural and gravelly growl met Lethash's ears, the usually near-silent Sith practically spitting the words at the ruined visage of the secretary. Lethash shifted his weight, arms crossed, the hood of his grey spiked body armour on his head. His cybernetic eye whirled, trying to ascertain data on the bloody faced woman, but unsurprisingly gaining no matches. Generally speaking, their face had to be reasonably intact for the scan to yield results. The Echani tapped his foot, briefly glancing at the rest of the room, noting the dozen cut up and sliced upon bodies strewn around the lobby, their blood congealing into one sickening pool. Carvur was thorough, of that he had no doubt. The big Sith's warblade was slung across his back, and glistened with a coat of sanguine. He leered at the young woman, who was clearly on the verge of death, and worse yet, seemingly unable to respond to the question.

Thud.

Her head hit the desk again, and Lethash calmly resisted the urge to wince. This woman had been a pain to him, had sassed him and delayed diplomatic efforts. This, however, seemed...extreme. They hadn't been explicitly ordered to butcher the populace of the tower, and yet, Carvur had wasted no time. The furious amber gaze of Lexicanus's former apprentice swept the woman once more, her form quivering and dazed.

Thud.

She fell limp, unconscious. Carvur held her by the neck with one had, staring into the bloody mess of her face.
"Carvur, she's 'ad enough. Leave her, she's no threa' to you." Lethash said calmly, eyeing the other Sith. Such a waste. Had Lethash been here 5 minutes earlier, this whole thing would be done with, and Zythia would still have the stability of the D'Turialle family. Somehow, Lethash doubted the line would be quite the same after they were done here.

Carvur's head turned to stare at Lethash, eyes glowing, his face expressionless, iron grip still fastened around the woman's throat. "You feel sympathy?" Lethash stood, gazing back at his partner, if Carvur could be called as such. 
"No, bu', does she need to di-"

Snap.

The woman's body hung limp, the glistening and unmistakable white of bone appearing through the side of her neck, blood spraying in a small shower. Lethash closed his mouth, sighing quietly. Carvur blinked, looking back at the dead woman, before throwing her body aside like a ragdoll, her purpose to him fufilled. She hit the ground with a final thud.

Wasting no time, Carvur stepped over or on the fallen forms of the lobby staff and security, pulling his slate grey hood up over his scruffy and unkept black hair. Lethash gazed at the fallen secretary with a frown, the seemingly random taking of her life not making total sense to him. The Sith goal was to chase power and freedom, but for an organization that was all about efficiency in that goal, the senseless killing was still yet to resonate with him. He glanced up to see Carvur standing in the elevator, fists clenched, gaze deadlocked forward. Lethash carefully stepped over the bodies, objectively analyzing Carvur's actions, a frown adorning his scarred face.

"She vill be on zhe top floor." Carvur stated, looking at Lethash, eyes raging. Lord Lethash looked back calmly, silver-grey irises meeting pulsating amber. "Lead on, Lord Carvur." He replied coolly. If the reply satisfied Carvur, he didn't make any visible signs telling to or against, his expressionless face merely returned to the now closed elevator door. It seemed there was to be a deal more killing before this night was out. The Echani again sighed, eyes locked forward.

Up we go...

Characters:

-Hawking Shatari, Master of Myserty
-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

Offline Hawking

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #2 on: 09/15/14, 05:33:05 AM »
"Ah, Miss Attano, back already, are we?"
"Not in the mood for it, Ren."
"Please, take a seat, remember your breathing exercises."
"Don't make me hit you. You cried like a child last time."
"Those were tears of joy, we made a significant breakthrough. What's troubling you, Kesstral?"
"My boss is dead."
"Pardon me?"
"Boss. Va'ara. Dead. No more. Not breathing. Gone from the eyes of man."
"...That must be hard for you, Kesstral. She was a friend of yours, no?"
"She was. My boss, too, and Pehn's wife. I doubt he'll show it, but he'll take it hard."

Kesstral Attano sat awkwardly on the shrink's velvety couch, the supple red furniture as modern as it was comfortable. Across from her sat Doctor Ren Dallek, the psychiatrist Kyri Orell had set her up with some months ago, who was passively scribbling on a notepad, glancing up at the concerned looking Twi'lek every few seconds. His greying hair and somewhat friendly face complimented his choice in clothing; simple, relaxed and reassuring, the three tenants of effective psychiatric work. He sat the notepad on his lap, crossing one leg over the other while folding his fingers together calmly. "Do you know of the circumstances surrounding her passing?"

Kesstral fidgeted, as she often did sitting in this office. She wasn't allowed weaponry or gadgets, so, instead, she elected to flip a credit chit nervously, a frown creasing her pretty yet scarred features. "She died saving a couple thousand refugees, apparently. It wasn't a whole lot more specific." Doctor Dallek raised an eyebrow, taking another note. "I see, I'm very sorry for your loss. I would comment on the unusual direction your life has taken, but I believe a recording of those words would be infinitely more effective, given the number of times I've uttered that phrase in your presence." Kesstral narrowed her eyes slightly. "I will hit you. You've heard my stories, and should know better." Dallek remained impassive, smiling quietly at Kesstral. "How are you feeling right now, Miss Attano?" Kesstral groaned, rolling her eyes impatiently. "Can't I just go? I only got two months of medical leave, every session with you is from my wallet now."

"Miss Attano, you're one of the richest...entrepreneurs that has ever lived."
"Oh, right."
"I'll ask you again, how are you feeling?"
"Angry, I guess. Sad, like I want to hit something..."
Doctor Dallek reached behind his chair, procuring a plush droid, before tossing it at Kesstral. The Twi'lek, an expert in close quarters fighting and various martial arts, lazily slapped aside the droid as it spiraled toward her, giving it a momentary distrustful glance, before looking back to the shrink. "She was happy. Cheery. Unflappable. Damn woman couldn't sit still while people were being oppressed anywhere in the galaxy...looks like it finally got to her." Kesstral's voice softened, sounding distant. The doctor scribbled another few notes, gaining a brief look of ire from Kesstral. "She was one of the ones that helped you get medical attention after the...incident with the Sith Cult, yes?" "Yeah. She and Pehn dragged my bleeding ass into a kolto tank. I doubt I'd be around if not for her. This is all under patient-doctor confidentiality, right?" "Indeed. Please, talk freely."

Kesstral glanced away for a moment. "I dunno, doc...doesn't seem fair." Dallek placed a fist under his chin, watching the Twi'lek curiously. "The universe is a harsh place, Miss Attano. Bad things happen to good people." She sighed. "Still...for someone to give so much...she didn't deserve that. Wasn't much older than myself. And Pehn...hell...I don't even know how he'll take it." "It's important that you're there for him, Kesstral. Support is vital in the recovery effort. He was there for you, as was Miss Orell, was he not?" She nodded. "He was. Always has been. Still can't get my kriffing head around why. Bad things happen to good people, you said. I'm not a good person, how did I luck out with all of these people and all of this money and...well, kriffing everything, and Va'ara died on some space station in butt-kriff nowhere?"

The doctor gazed at her for a long while, as if wondering how to answer. Kesstral continued to fidget with the credit chit, before sighing. "I suppose we're done for today...I'd best get back to work..." She picked her black hat up off the couch, flicking the currency chit at the shrink, who caught it almost passively, eyes not leaving the Twi'lek. "I wouldn't be so critical of yourself, Miss Attano. You've done more good than you think." Kesstral shrugged. "Tell that to the occupants of the graves I've dug. Bye, doc." She offered Doctor Dallek a two fingered salute in farewell, before leaving the room. The shrink sighed, leant back in his chair and began to count up the credits from today's session. Business was good.
« Last Edit: 09/15/14, 05:35:29 AM by Hawking »

Characters:

-Hawking Shatari, Master of Myserty
-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

Offline Hawking

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #3 on: 10/25/14, 09:07:00 PM »
[retcon]
« Last Edit: 07/01/15, 11:56:00 PM by Hawking »

Characters:

-Hawking Shatari, Master of Myserty
-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

Offline Hawking

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #4 on: 10/28/14, 04:02:40 AM »
Once again, the Sith had overstepped themselves and begun making Captain Ralakan Walker's life difficult. In a general setting, losing a squad to security detail wasn't an item for concern, it was routine. However, losing a squad for the purpose of protecting a certain NCO from being kidnapped again by one of the most dangerous Sith in the galaxy was another matter entirely.

Kebaliya Celleas lived in luxury for a Marine Sergeant, owning a swanky multi-story apartment in Kaas City decorated with fine art and the other staples of nobility, Ralakan was nearly certain he'd spotted a servant or two scurrying around somewhere too. The sight was strange to him, almost foreign. For as long as he could remember he'd lived ergonomically, practically and perhaps humbly, making do with what he had. From the slums of Dromund Fels, to the barracks on Dromund Kaas, to the relative comfort of Imperial Navy vessels to the numerous foxholes he'd inhabited, Ralakan Walker had never once in his life lived anywhere others might deem homely.

My home is with my men. He mused as he did another sweep, on his way to check in with the men on duty, ensuring that neither Thrax nor his agents had snuck in and wreaked havoc. Figures. The minute I start making preparations to get us back on the lines to fight the war, more internal problems rears their head... He wouldn't openly admit it, but he was sick of the power plays. Sick of the schemes. Sick of the infighting, and above all, sick of him and his men getting caught up in the politics of an order he wanted no place nor part in. Opinion is contagious. Optimism, pessimism, anger, hope and fear all spread faster from the head down than any other direction. He reminded himself. Far too often he'd let the strain get to him, let his emotions get the better of him, and subsequently let them affect his work. Lives had been lost because he hadn't been in control. That wasn't going to happen again.

"Corporal Evans, what's up?"
"Evening, skipper," The young human offered Ralakan a salute, which the Miraluka curtly returned immediately. "Quiet, thusfar. If Darth Thrax has gotten in here, we haven't seen him, sir."
"I'll take that as reassurance. I've been trying to get Darth Magius or Lexicanus on the horn regarding the matter, but, no luck thusfar." Ralakan scratched at the thick stubble covering his chin. "Until I hear back from them, continue what you're doing."
"Aye aye, Captain." The corporal replied, saluting him.
Ralakan offered him a half-smile, returning the salute, before making for the elevator.

Thrax wouldn't let a squad of marines keep him from Celleas, if he really wanted her, but at least it'd give us an indication. He thought, frowning, as the elevator descended. OpSec meant that the whole matter was hush-hush, but questions would still be asked, and may yet widen the already significant girth in the trust-gap between the Marines and the Sith if they were to find out that their own people were now being individually targeted by Sith. The lift pinged as it hit ground floor, and Ralakan stepped out into the harsh lashing rain of the Sith capital, his fatigues rapidly dampening as he traversed the distance to the shuttle that would return him to the XoXaan, lightning crackling overhead, soon followed by it's rumbling counterpart. The 2nd Battalion was due back to the front shortly, to fight the war and do their duty for family and Empire. The only question was when.

And where.

Characters:

-Hawking Shatari, Master of Myserty
-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

Offline Hawking

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #5 on: 12/03/14, 04:34:25 AM »
Despite the overwhelming odds, tomorrow had came.
They'd fought like hell throughout the night.
The acrid smell of spent plasma was stuck to the air alongside the pungent odors of scorched flesh and chemicals, and smoke drifted yet into the pale pink dawn atop the hill in great wafts. The luminescent golden-red orb that was the star at the center of the Endrophi system creeped ever so slightly upwards, slowly removing the darkness of night from Endrophi III, more commonly known as "Hell's Breadbasket" to the men and women of the Republic Army. An otherwise picturesque world devoid of any advanced sentient life, Endrophi III could well have been a grand agricultural world had the war not reached it before the farmers had. What was once rolling fields and forests were now splintered treelines and deeply entrenched hills, all steeped in about a foot of mud.


The surviving forests spread off endlessly, rising only to various outcroppings and raises in the land, all of which had been tenaciously dug into by both Imperial and Republic forces. This particular hill, known as it's designation, 366 or "The Point", still tentatively but firmly held the white and blue insignia of the Republic on it's crest, despite the best efforts of the Imperial war machine. The almost peaceful silence of dawn was punctuated by the distant, near quiet echoing booms of artillery as it fired at some near-away target.  The dead from both sides lay where they'd fallen. The husks of a half-dozen Imperial hovertanks smoldered lifelessly, broken down over the defensive line, the last embers flickering out from their burnt carcasses. There was a serenity to the morning, a silent reminder to those still breathing that they were still alive, despite the near day long engagement some 6 hours previously. 

The mud splattered beneath Master Sergeant Vazzily Delone's grey-white armoured boots as he walked the perimeter. His immense autocannon was slung across his back, the heavy service sidearm blaster he kept firmly grasped in his hand. His armour was bespeckled by dirt, mud and scorchmarks from where shots had connected or made near-misses. He swept the perimeter carefully but professionally, checking every fortification for damage, ignoring the gnawing feeling of fatigue that tug at his body. Sleep was for the dead. The black and red armoured form of an Imperial Grenadier caught Delone's eye as he blinked back sleep from his one good eye, his helmet and cybernetics rapidly scanning the body. Deceased. The man's body was caught up in a bushel of barbed wire, it appeared that he'd been caught on the obstruction and shot to pieces during the attack. The Sergeant's hands wrapped around the dead Imperial, attempting to dislodge him from the wire. Figures. He reflected passively, grunting quietly with annoyance as he fails to pull the man's body free. Another set of gauntlets grasped the dead Imperial, helping to heave the dead man off the wire.

"Captain." Delone grunts, the dead Imperial hitting the ground ungracefully, landing in the thick mud with a thump. The NCO looked up from the dead man to the armoured form of Captain Ryles Shatari expectantly. She took a moment to right herself, brushing mud from her visor, before returning his helmeted gaze. "How're you holding up, Delone?" "Alive, sir. Hell of a night." Ryles nods reassuringly. "Your platoon adjusting?" "We only had the kid for a few months. He had a good head on those shoulders. But he was green, he should never have been out here." "But you're alright to take the platoon over from Lieutenant Vastano?" "I am, sir. He won't be needing it anymore."
« Last Edit: 12/03/14, 08:35:13 PM by Hawking »

Characters:

-Hawking Shatari, Master of Myserty
-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

Offline Hawking

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #6 on: 12/18/14, 07:09:05 AM »
"I have a right to the truth! I know that you took her, to do...whatever the hell it is that you do to them to make them like you. I knew that my little girl was special. She was always bright, always brilliant in everything she did. And then you came and took her away. For the gods's sake, she was just a child! What kind of bastards are you? Claiming to be the champions of peace and defenders of the innocent while stealing children and doing things to them? To make those poor kids into one of...you?"

Jedi Knight Arlatha Shatari was caught off-guard by the man's comments. It had been made abundantly clear to her when she took this upon herself that she'd be entering a region in which anti-force sentiment was the norm, but the sheer venom in this man's voice unsettled her. She recomposed herself, sweating profoundly beneath her heavy brown robes as she stood in the blistering sun of the Perdani system, a thin layer of fine dust coating her boots as she strategically readjusted her footing into a more neutral position. She squinted, her jade green eyes narrowing slightly as she looked over the man. "Staffan, if I may call you Staff-" "You may not." "Very well, Mr Ariax, I understand your pain and concern in the ma-" "Do you?"

Staffan Ariax was a man in his late middle ages, likely in his 60s, with eyes as grey as slate and features as set as marble. Those very eyes were trained on Arlatha, spewing cynical disbelief and disgust. The face of a man who had lost his daughter now not once, but twice. The young Knight kept her face taut but diplomatic as she had been conditioned to do, doing her best to conceal the dismay building inside of herself. There is no emotion. "...I do, Mr Ariax. Serla was a close friend and mentor to me, and not a day goes by where I don't reflect on her teachings or impact to my life and my order." As soon as the last few words left her mouth, she realized she'd made a mistake. "Kriff your order! Your people kidnapped my daughter and forced her to become one of you freaks! She renounced any hope of a normal life, any hope of what she would have wanted. You brainwashed her into serving your Republic, and now look where she ended up!" His voice cracked in the last few syllables, his eyes growing moist, despite the depraving dry heat surrounding them. Arlatha attempted a gentle, diplomatic tone. "I am sure Serla would have volunteered given the option, Mr Ariax. She was an incredible Jedi, one who's virtues and bravery will be long remembered."

He stared Arlatha down, a single tear rolling down his ruddy features, the disgust not leaving his gaze. "Is that my consolation for my daughter's death? She died a good Jedi? Why couldn't she have died a good mother or grandmother, surrounded by loved ones? By family and friends after living a full life?" Arlatha hesitated for a moment, auburn hair swaying, tone pensive but still gentle. "...She was, Staffan. We were her family, she died protecting us. I thought it would be the right thing to do to come here and allow you the chance to grieve and remember." He looked right through her. "I did my grieving, Jedi. I did my searching and my journey for answers as to what happened to my little girl...and now she's dead. At least you had the blasted courtesy to tell me that much. Can I see her grave?" Arlatha's hesitant reaction must have told more than she intended. There is no chaos. Staffan's eyes narrowed even further. "...She has a grave, yes?" "Yes-yes, she does." "I trust I will not like this answer." "She died aboard a Sith vessel, Mr Ariax...I am...afraid there was...little left of her when we recovered her...we placed her ashes in her lightsaber and spaced it, allowing her spirit to continue to explore the universe, even after becoming one with the force. We thought it was what she would have wanted." In truth, Knight Serla Ariax had been slain attempting to confront a powerful Sith Lord aboard an Imperial stealth vessel that was in Republic space. The Sith had spaced her body, or what was left of it. Staffan said nothing, brow lowered, his gaze burning a hole through a nearby rock. Arlatha shifted awkwardly. She wasn't quite sure how to act, and the code offered reassurance but little guidance in the matter.

"...I see. I only wish my wife had lived long enough to receive this closure. I have searched for decades for my girl, Jedi. I now need search no longer. I suggest you leave." Arlatha offered him a low bow, before going to say something, anything. No words reached her lips, so she instead opted to turn and make back across the village toward a speeder that would take her to her ship. Staffan's words played over in her head. Is this what it was like for the parents of Jedi? She had never known anything else. Her father was serving and continued to serve within the Order, and she had never known her mother. Whenever she'd asked her father about her, he'd merely reply that she had been someone very dear to him, and that ever meeting her had been both his best and worst mistake. Arlatha hopped in behind the controls, powering up the bike to return her to her ship.

Is this the price of service?

Characters:

-Hawking Shatari, Master of Myserty
-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

Offline Hawking

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #7 on: 12/25/14, 03:09:15 PM »
Holy stolen wifi, Batman! I'm away currently! But, given the momentous car-trips I've had the pleasure of being exposed to, I've had plenty of time to write, and write I have. This will be the first of a few going up. Wall of text warning!



Captain Ralakan Walker of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Imperial Marine Division wrestled with his cufflinks. The small, black buttons seemed to lack either the drive or the ability to slot themselves into the respective incisions on the fabric adorning his wrists, he reflected as his fingers attempted to coerce the little bastards into doing just that. A few seconds later he found purchase, and slid the first of the two renegade buttons into its accompanying hole. Moments later, the button’s sibling followed suit, and any remaining resistance crushed. Campaign ribbons and decorations came afterwards, the brightly coloured fabrics and silvery metals adorning the Miraluka’s chest contrasting sharply to the stark white of his marine dress uniform. Whilst usually loathe to allow the decorations out of their case, stopping them from carrying out their important duty of gathering dust and staying out of mind, tonight was a special occasion.

The black gloves followed soon, slotting themselves onto Ralakan’s hands with expert care. He flexed his fingers, satisfied, the gloves being an appropriately snug fit. It had been months since he’d last donned his dress whites, and yet he carried himself, and them, with an almost weary sense of quiet pride. The Miraluka briefly attempted to flatten his rebellious hair, failed, and simply placed his matching peaked white cap on top of his head.  Someone had left a mirror in the Captain’s office, no doubt meaning well. Ralakan took a moment to appreciate the peace and quiet, resting astride his desk. The quiet pattering of the Kaasian rain was the only sound that met his ears, giving him a brief few minutes to collect his thoughts before his date arrived. Of course, date wasn’t necessarily the most accurate of terms, not that it had stopped his fellows from ribbing him mercilessly about it. “Putting the two of them up on a podium and allowing us mere mortals to bask in their glory. Sounds about right.” Lorraine  had joked in his usual jovial-yet-sardonic fashion. Despite the deflections with humour, Ralakan was under no illusions that, as per usual, Sergeant Lorraine had been dead on. Why else would the brass have so rigidly requested their attendance? The chickenshit continues. Ralakan thought dryly.

A knock on the door to his office roused him from his thoughts. He stood, compulsively brushing down the front of his uniform again, a thousand angry comments from veteran drill Sergeants coming back to him. “Enter.” The door swung open quietly, revealing the smartly dressed and smartly postured form of a woman. She bore the same crisp white uniform as Ralakan, adorned with a startling amount of ribbons and decoration, the various colours reflecting a different campaign or achievement. Corellia, Balmorra, Hoth, Oricon, Naval Service and Warfare, and the Crimson Glory with four spearheads, representing an instance in which this woman had been wounded in the field of combat. The bars on her breast designated her as a Captain, and her shoulder bore the gold and black Nexu of the 5th Imperial Marine regiment. However, two things drew the eyes more than any other on this particular woman’s form; the gold, black and red medallion of the Imperial Medal of Valour displayed proudly on her chest, and her piercing yet strangely warm ice-blue eyes.

She crossed her arms as the stood in the doorway, offering Ralakan a smile. “I had heard reports of a blind, ginger eskimo escaping from Hoth and shoring up in CentCom. Quite a bounty on your head. Janitors are raising all manner of cain.” Her voice was posh and proper, high-class Imperial, but warm and fraternal, familiar.
Ralakan offered her a nod, getting to his feet. “Well, you can confirm these rumours as you see fit, although I imagine the brass might get a little upset if I’m taken away by the cleaning staff before we have a chance to make our great public appearance.” Ralakan’s own Republic-based accent, acquired from growing up with all manner of lowborn scum, refugees and deserters on Dromund Fels, couldn’t have been more of a contrast.  He extended his hand, which she took firmly. “Pleasure to see you again, Beth.” “You too, Stretch.”

Within minutes, the two were on a turbolift to the ground floor of the building. Outside, the festivities were getting underway for the greatest annual event held in the Empire, the Life Day parades. Partly to boost patriotism, partly to reinforce morale, and mostly as a display of power, the parades were attended by hundreds of thousands of Imperials, both civilians and military, to watch the Imperial war machine flaunt itself in full view of the galaxy, as a reminder, and indeed a promise, of the ruin it was capable of unleashing on the enemies of the Emperor. This year was to be an interesting one. With the disappearance and subsequent less-than-popular reappearance of the Emperor and general shakiness of the war effort, including numerous shake-ups across the military and government, the Ministry of War suddenly found itself in the precarious position of needing to reassure the populace that the war was still a tenable option, and that the Empire’s victory was only a short matter of time away. For the first time ever, alien personnel would be marching alongside their human counterparts, as would the Sith, leading the troops in a display of unity. Ralakan felt a pang of discontent as he descended, Captain Bethany Regus beside him. Things are far from good out there. Between the Republic, Dread Masters, Hutts and Revanites, it’s a damned miracle any of us are even drawing breath at the end of the year. And yet the ministry continues to broadcast lies to the rest of the Empire under the banner of propaganda, all the while complaining about lack of transparency in the public. In any other scenario, it would have been farcical.

Regus, ever the empath, must have picked up on his internal griping. Or perhaps he was frowning more than usual, as was his habit nowadays. She elbowed him lightly. “Smile, Captain. You’ve got a reputation to uphold and fans to appease.” He snorted. “They’re here to see you just as much as me.” Ever since the Ministry of War had limited the doling out of Imperial Medals of Valour to one per regiment , the recipients had enjoyed, or at least been expected to enjoy, something akin to standing in the limelight of the people. Hence why those who were able to come, baring posthumous awards or other such hamperings, had been cordially “invited” to attend the proceedings. The people need hope more than ever. Hell, they’ve been through a rough year as it is. There’s still a great deal of the population adjusting to the Alien Initiatives, accepting their service and citizenship, let alone being expected to hail them as heroes. It dawned on him that he’d referred to aliens as “them” again. We. I’m still as much non-human as they are.

After a few minutes, the turbolift’s doors opened to the rainswept streets of Kaas City, cordoned off for the parades. Ralakan was more than happy to follow Bethany’s lead, losing themselves in the vast ocean of men and women in uniform. The fact that we could get such a turnout is impressive in itself, given the need to prioritise resources. Fighter and bomber craft swooped overhead, leaving fantastic and tantalizing firework displays in their wake. The awe-inspiring and mammoth forms of Imperial Dreadnaughts in low atmosphere dwarfed the displays, showcasing the might of Imperial production, in no due part to the millions, if not billions of slaves kept for the armaments and engineering industries. The grey behemoths coasted silently in the atmosphere, their distinctive jack-knifing front prongs visible through the thick storm clouds that covered the Imperial capital.

Perhaps more impressive was the unmistakable sound of tens of thousands of boots moving in tandem, marching and singing.(Funnily enough, similarly to the tunes of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GD0FHEXHbc) Entire divisions of Imperial soldiers moved in an endless stream of black and red, punctuated only by the immense, lumbering forms of Hovertanks. They marched with a pride and purpose that was inspiring, flying banners and unit insignia. It was hard not to be caught in the emotion of the moment, the fervour was overwhelming. The crowds roared as the men continued to march, aircraft flying overhead. It was all wonderfully patriotic, and Ralakan was quite sure that the Minister of War would be quite pleased with the turnout. The crowd’s roars turned near hysterical when the first rank of Sith marched past, lightsabers lit and held aloft, the brilliant crimsons and reds of the blades sizzling in the rain. The dark heroes of the Empire. Saviours and conquerors both, wearing thick black robes, armour and masks, everything of the mythical stories told to children.

Ralakan followed Bethany upwards into what appeared to be a booth of sorts, specifically reserved for the use of people such as himself, strategically raised to be in full public view. Heroes of the Empire. A number of other soldiers, admirals and generals were seated already, each one of them bearing the Imperial Medal of Valour. Had it not been for the medal, it would have been a stretch of the imagination to link the men and women present. Nearly all human, but as varied as they came. Old, young, male, female, tall, short, Army, Navy, Marine, Armoured. The two Marines took a seat at the eastern extremity of the booth, watching the parade with passing interest. The final success of the move, Ralakan reflected, was the magnificent Army orchestra that the brass had assembled on a raised platform at the center of the main road. From there, speaker systems broadcast their songs of patriotism and victory to the assembled crowd. If the boys on the line could see this… He thought, snorting quietly.

After a few minutes of polite small-talk with the other medal-bearers present about how they’d come across their medallions, what a load of bullshit this parade was and the general chickenshit of the military, Beth yawned and looked at Ralakan, who was watching the first of the Navy personnel begin their turn in the limelight, the famous First Fleet marching past. “What a way to spend life day. The Empire is one big, loving, interconnected family, I suppose. I’d still rather be off my face in a bar with the lads, though.” She joked, although Ralakan suspected her phrase held more weight than she let on. He’d know Bethany Regus since Officer Candidacy school, and the two had grown close. She had been one of the few other cadets not to vilify him on sight, recognising him as a competent, if not unsure, prospective officer. This, in itself, was odd. Coupled with the fact that she was the daughter of now Grand Moff Ilyran Regus, a known humanocentrist and a driving force behind the reversal of the Alien Initiatives, it was downright strange. 



He snorted. “That’s the idea, yeah. It’s been a rough year for the Empire, but hell if I know how a parade is going to reinforce their morale. Seems to be working though.” Beth nodded, checking that her dark hair was still smartly tied in a bun with a few probing fingers. Satisfied that it was, she replied. “Victories are what the people need, but they seem to be in short supply right at the moment. Corellia was a debacle, we’ve been kicked off of Balmorra, although I suppose things are improving. Oricon and the situation with the Revanites was a joint solution, if not a temporary one, with the ‘Pubs. I suppose we needed to remind the people that we are still a capable military power in our own right.” Ralakan nodded, trailing the series of medals on her chest. She spoke about these campaigns not from stories but from experience. Corellia, the nightmare Stalingrad-esque world of close quarters fighting in rubble had been her home for nearly a year. “And that’s where we come in.” “…And that’s where we come in.” She finished. Living heroes were preferable to martyrs. The Empire was plentiful in martyrs.

The parade continued outside, even as talk had subsided within the medal holder’s booth. “…You never did tell me why you joined the Marines, Beth.” Ralakan inquired, tightening his gloves. “Didn’t I? Oh, how very forgetful of me. Going senile at 27, my word.” She chuckled. Ralakan watched her curiously. “You’re the daughter of one of the brass’s favourite commanders. You could have chosen anywhere to serve, or not at all. You definitely had safer options open to you. I guess I’m just surprised you didn’t follow in your father’s footsteps and join the Navy. With the tuition you could have had at your fingertips, despite your ability to destroy anything you touch, I’m sure you would have made a great Admiral.” Beth’s eyes trailed from him, settling upwards and outwards, looking at one of the Harrower-class Dreadnaughts in low orbit.

“Dad certainly would have liked me too. He pressed hard for it, even forced me at one point. But, you know me. I was having none of it.” She paused. “…I had been on a thousand ships throughout my childhood. Dad would often take me to the bridges and sweep his hands outwards, across the deck, and he would say “This is your birthright, dear daughter.” I would reply “The deck?” He always seemed to take some odd form of enjoyment from my childish…naivetés. He would smile to me, lean down and gesture further, to the windows, and the void of space. “No, my child. The galaxy.” All appropriately pompous, mind you, but it was never his assurances or his crews that made me look forward to my visits to those ships. It was the Marines aboard. They would always give me chocolate or some such when I visited. Often hats or helmets or jackets. And they would always smile.” Her voice softened slightly, growing distant. “Dad’s crews were like droids. Automatic, staring forward, never talking out of turn. Not them. The Marines were…alive. They would laugh and joke and cry, and now I understand why. The rifleman’s curse of mortality is a much less tepid affair than that of the Navy. They knew that every day was a new risk, every day brought new dangers and experiences and brought them closer to the brink. But by the Emperor’s grace, they made the most of what they have. They knew that their time was limited, so they lived. I didn’t want to serve with droids, Ralakan. I wanted a challenge, I wanted some freedom, but most of all, I wanted to serve with them.  And now here we are, and I’m still using that story as an excuse to bum my senior NCOs out of grog.” She flashed Ralakan a sly smile and laughed. He could sense the emotion emanating from the woman. He couldn’t see them, but he could tell that her eyes were watering.

He put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “Certainly kicks the hell out of my story. Was your father upset?” She smiled. “Was he. He raised hell, yelling and threatening, but in the end he saw reason. I suppose he was just glad that I joined the military at all. I can make a mean sculpture, Stretch, I could have made a killing as an architect.” Ralakan laughed quietly, retracting his hand. “I’m sure.” The Marines had come and gone in the march, now it was the turn of the supply troops and rear echelon types. Beth stood, brushing herself down. “I don’t know about you, Captain, but I think I’d prefer to disappear to a cantina than sit around here for another few hours.” Ralakan also stood. “Agreed. Let’s go before we get ourselves arrested for insolence or disruption of a public event or whatever other reasons the MPs could lock us up for.” The two excused themselves, following the stairs down from the booth to re-emerge into the crowds. No-one turned to look at them, which Ralakan was grateful for. He was tired of signing autographs and being forced to peacock around in the Imperial media. The two continued on, walking through the heart of the Imperial city, making a bee-line for the Nexus Room cantina.

Within minutes they were seated at a table in one of the darkened corners of the cantina, sipping on whatever was on tap and remising on the old days. Beth leaned back in her chair, sighing. “We’re too young to be talking like this. I feel like I should have a bunch of kids running around nearby, or a nice house, or something to showcase the fact that I’ve “made it”.” “Well, with the average age of our troops, we’re basically ancient.” Ralakan replied. The average Imperial Marine was a little over 22. Life expectancy was a one in five per operation. Manpower was not a problem that the Empire faced, if it had one thing, it was reserves of patriotic young men and women ready to fight and die. Ralakan had done the maths, hoping it would bring some sort of reassurance. Beth smiled, raising her glass. “The old breed. Happy life-day, Captain Walker.” Ralakan returned the gesture, their glasses meeting with a chink. “Here’s hoping we’re around to see another.”

He decided they would be.   

Characters:

-Hawking Shatari, Master of Myserty
-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

Offline Hawking

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #8 on: 01/01/15, 03:59:52 AM »
@Aolanni



The hair on the back of the former Jedi Kell Winters’s neck stood on end. His cybernetic eye whirred as it automatically scanned the floor on a variety of spectrums. Visible light, of which there was not a whole lot due to the darkness of the Zythian midnight, followed by ultraviolet, followed in turn by thermal. Nothing. Lethash crept forward, closing the door to the turbolift with the utmost care, making only the slightest of sounds. It had been a long time since he’d been afraid, but fear crept up on him like a spectre. You’re a Sith. Star’ acting like it. He felt the cybernetics in his chest cavity adjust to his tight breathing. As taugh’ as kriffin’ piano wire… The only light on the “indentured living” floor was the quiet purring crackle of the torches in the atrium, casting an eerie glow as it flickered, the shadows stretching and dancing across the ground. Something instinctual drew Lethash toward the flame, the natural urge to remain close to the warmth and safety of the fire nearly overpowering. Nearly.

The steady pattering of rain outside had given way to a violent deluge, the rain literally pouring down as if a jug had been upended, carried by screaming gale force winds across the Zythian landscape. Lethash’s skin crawled, feeling deeply unsettled. Nonetheless, he continued forward, placing one foot very slowly after the other, head on a swivel. He had his grey hood up, reducing the obvious visibility of his snowy white Echani hair, lightsabers gripped in both hand, not activated but fingers tracing the activation matrix nervously. A fork of lightning flashed outside, momentarily illuminating the floor nightmarishly, giving Lethash the briefest of views of the prison level. Shattered glass coated the ground, the curtains of the destroyed window flapping as though possessed, rain pouring in through the open orifice. The carpet was ripped apart, long scars cut into the wall as though by a beast. One of the floor’s automated doors was half-destroyed, continuously attempting to close with a horrible clunk.  Sparks flew from the door, briefly exposing the long, ragged grooves carved into the metal.  He paused after a few meters, again scanning for any signs of movement.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t have been Lethash’s job. It had been weeks since he’d stepped into the tower, let alone the floor that was holding Knight Aolanni Vaek. Whatever had happened here had spooked the guards, indeed Lethash had found no sign of the soldiers who had made the panicked call to him in the dead of the night. He remained perfectly still, listening, the words of the guards playing through his head. Poor bastards were so ou’ of it tha’ they were barely coherent. He could see why. It was like something out of a bad horror holovid. The security scan had revealed that Aolanni’s door was securely shut. The prisoner was safe. But by process of elimination, that left whatever had done this roaming the floor indiscriminately. Lethash crept forward another few steps, head low, his cybernetic eye whirling quietly as it compensated for the low light. Another fork of lightning illuminated the floor for a brief instant, the flash of light once again exposing the nightmarish state of the level. Lethash felt the ice-cold rain lance into his neck as he stepped out to peek around the corner, the equally frosty wind cutting into the exposed flesh of his face. He ignored it, eyes scanning the rest of the floor quickly, adrenaline flowing.  Part of him knew what he expected to find, but part of him continued to tick away at the various possibilities that lay before him, chiefly amongst them being the question that had been weighing on his mind for the past fortnight. Where the hell is Darth Lexicanus?

The Pureblood had seemingly vanished without a trace.  Lethash had seen nothing of the Sith for weeks, indeed the last time he’d seen the Serpent of Zythia in the flesh was after his talk with Knight Vaek. Lexicanus had said little and less, merely intoning that Lethash had done his job admirably and was to be commended, before disappearing to speak with Thrax. The thought alone of the elusive Sith made his skin crawl. He couldn’t put his finger on exactly what it was that was unsettling, but when those golden orbs settled on you, the sensation was akin to what the folk of superstition equated to someone treading on your grave. Probably jus’ the wind. Lightning flashed again, bringing Lethash back into the present. He flexed his fingers, gripping his lightsabers, before he stepped around the corner again.

For a few moments, there was only the darkness and the misty vapour of his breath, the cyborg Sith’s breathing faster than he would care to admit. “You are afraid, Knight Winters? Your code lies. There is emotion. There is anger and there is fear. You were born with these emotions, rule them, break them to your will and let them fuel you in return.”  Those lessons seemed so long ago now, and never more distant than in the windswept, gutted tower he found himself standing in.

Flash.

A figure.

Tall.

Hulking.

Standing in front of Aolanni’s door.

Silent.

Flash.

Black robes.

Hooded.

Muscular.

Arms crossed.

Silent.

Still.

Flash.

Amber eyes.

Staring.

Glowing.

Hatred.

Fury.

Carvur.



Lethash blinked with his one good eye, momentarily shocked. His cybernetic eye whirred quietly, and he wished more than ever before that it was silent. He stopped breathing. His limbs froze in place. The silhouette of the hulking Sith stood motionless. The faint glow of his vehement eyes penetrated the gloom, turning from the door to sweep the room silently, as a predator searches for prey. Another foot on my grave. His eyes paused over Lethash. The Echani Sith’s voice caught in his throat, his thumbs sliding ever so silently to the activation matrices on his lightsabers. He felt like a child confronted with a household intruder when home alone. But he was no child. In any other time, Carvur may have been a pet. An attack dog.  A Sith. But right now, he was a Lovecraftian horror. Inhuman, unblinking, unbowed and unchecked. His gaze returned to the door, his body soon following suit. A gloved hand slammed into the door, splaying into a hand that traced a gentle line down the metal, as if searching for fault lines. Carvur made not a sound.

He’ll kill her.
He’ll wait here all night until he finds a way in, and he’ll kill her.
She’s done the one thing he couldn’ abide. She’s denied him.


The thoughts filtered through his head like machinegun fire. He had to act. If she died, Lexicanus and Thrax would both be down a valuable asset. It would be on his head. There would be no chance of mercy.

Even if there was, I doub’ their brand of mercy would be preferable to a quick death.

Not to say that death by Carvur’s hand was any more appealing. He was strong, merciless and raised to be nothing less than brutally lethal…but killable.

But that wasn’t it. Aolanni had shown him kindness. Patience. And if that bastard got in there…

He made his choice.

“Lord Carvur.”

The eyes found him.
« Last Edit: 01/01/15, 01:11:58 PM by Hawking »

Characters:

-Hawking Shatari, Master of Myserty
-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

Offline Hawking

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #9 on: 02/09/15, 12:00:29 AM »
[retcon]
« Last Edit: 07/02/15, 12:05:07 AM by Hawking »

Characters:

-Hawking Shatari, Master of Myserty
-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

Offline Hawking

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #10 on: 02/23/15, 01:18:39 AM »
As it turned out, taking two weeks had been entirely out of the question.

The rainy season had washed over the planet, already pockmarked by craters, foot-deep mud now making up the majority of the mountainous landscape, nigh impassible in some places. The sun had all but disappeared, the lashing rain doing it's best to wash the thick, conglomerate mud from the black and red durasteel plated armour of the Imperial Marines. The treads of the heavy Imperial tanks struggled against the all-encompassing brown muck, spinning and churning the mud. The weary Marines trudged along-side the armour, moving slowly, each step causing them to sink shin-deep into the mud with a muttered curse. Ralakan had come to hate this planet a long time ago, and on every return trip, it seemed to give him a new reason. Balmorra was now resembling Flanders Fields.

Ralakan was at the head the column, doing his best to keep his senses roaming for anything ahead in the shattered cliffs to their north. The squelch of his boots as they sunk into the mud was barely audible over the monsoonal rain, but he gritted his teeth nonetheless, the sensation beginning to grate on him. The BRRRRRRRRTTTT of the Imperial Tank to his rear began to get closer, whatever they'd done to get themselves out of this particular ditch had worked, it'd seem. Won't help them with the next one. Damn.

 His comm crackled to life. The Marines had been forced to rely on their radios once audible communication became impossible. A burly, strong but friendly voice met his ears. "Ah, fer kriff's sake...[Squelch, squelch, squelch]...the hell are these Pubs still doing 'ere, Skip? Colour me surprised that the bastards 'aven't drowned in their bloody foxholes." Ralakan chuckled quietly, struggling against the mud once more. The cliffs rose up on either side of him, forming a near perfect valley. Unsurprisingly, topography dictated that the rain could only go one place here, which so happened to be smack-bang in the middle. "They've been assigned to stop the Imperial barbarians such as yourself from reaching their field HQ in the village, Lorraine." The Sergeant chuckled heartily. "Righ', keep forgetting that. I 'ave been keen to satiate my bloodlust on some poor unsuspecting Republic POWs, sir." Ralakan shook his head quietly, holding back a laugh as he suddenly sunk knee-deep into the mud. "Kriff!"

"Everything alright, Skipper?"
Ralakan grumbled, slinging his rifle as he attempted to free himself from the quagmire, tugging his leg out. "Yeah, I'm alright...hell. Lorraine, jump up on the nearest tank, tell the commander that they'll need to find another way around, there's no way they're getting the armour through this mud. Last thing we need is our MBTs getting destroyed by whatever Republic garrison finds them stuck in this quagmire." The Major heard Lorraine's static infused grumble. "Bastard of a bloody place...roger that, sir. Give me a few seconds." Ralakan shivered as he waited, the usually immaculate self-regulating temperature adjusting systems of the Marine's BDU being entirely ineffective against the freezing rains. He exchanged nods with a squad as it filtered past, the weary Marines trudging onwards.
"Skip."
"Major."
"Sir."
"Skip."
"Keep at it, guys."
"Yessir."
"Bastard of a place, aye Skip?"
"Not going soft on me, are you, Corporal?"
"Living the high life, Major."

Ralakan took another look around, fatigue whittling away at him like water on a riverstone, slowly but surely. "Lorraine?" His comm crackled back to life. "One sec, Skip- Alright, you listen 'ere mate, if you don't go around, your tanks are buggered, and then we're buggered because you muppets couldn't see sense and kriffin' move." Ralakan smiled under his helmet, teeth chattering. Lorraine certainly had a way with words. There was silence for a few seconds. "...Yeah, well, kriff your orders, this comes righ' down from Major Walker, and I sugges' you carry ou' his orders before he puts a shot into your tank that would blow even your bloody adrenaline junkie mind." The Miraluka could almost see Lorraine's smug grin. "Righ', good chap. Get a move on. Alright, Skip, problem's resolved." Ralakan unslung his rifle again, shaking it briefly to attempt to dislodge the water that had seeped into every nook and cranny. "Thanks, Waric, should make our lives easier in the long-term. Catch up with your platoon, you've got point as we move in." "Roger that, sir." The comm blinked off, and Ralakan sighed, beginning the tiresome walk into the spire-like mountains, following his men.

Some hours later...

Water dripped off the barrel of Ralakan's rifle like a low pressure hose. He was crouched behind the "rim" of the bowl-like defilade of outcropped rocks that ringed the system defended towns below. They would be no doubt beautiful in peace-time, crested high above the sweeping planes of Balmorra, nestled in the mountainous alps, an escape for the wealthy aristocrats in the Balmorran arms industry, or for even wealthier off-world tourists. The rest of the 2nd Battalion was assembled in similar locations, the lashing rain and darkened skies providing perfect concealment for their approach. No doubt the Republic knew they were coming, but where and when was another matter entirely. The tanks had eventually lumbered their way up, and had paired off two to a company. Lightning flashed overhead, illuminating the steel behemoths like mythical monsters, the turrets rotated to face in the direction of the town. The tanks would be useless if they attempted to stay mobile with the mud as it was, and as such, Ralakan had ordered them to take position along the ridge, to provide support and fire on the towns. Ralakan crouched in the mud, shivering alongside another two dozen Marines, looking at his the inbuilt digital watch on his wrist. He sighed, looking up at the black and red visored helmets around him. "Time to get moving." A number of them nodded, some others simply electing to stand and unsling their rifles. The Major keyed his comms. "All units, move to contact. Let's kick the Pubs out of these cute little towns. I know for damn sure I'd rather them be out in this cold than us." 

All across the ridgeline, black and red ghosts stood up and started moving stealthily down the slope toward the silhouettes of the buildings, trudging silently through the mud, a chorus of thunder cracking over head to complement their advance. Ralakan got up and began moving alongside the other Imperial soldiers. Never a complaint from any of them...

A flare shot up from the town.
Red.
White.
It hovered.
The Imperials continued moving, shadows flickering across the landscape.

And then suddenly, the ground began exploding.
Thunder struck and the Earth itself shook as huge gouts of mud and dirt began to mushroom upwards, the acrid smell of plasma hanging in the air.
"Shit! That's some serious firepower!" A voice broke in over the comm. Ralakan gritted his teeth, waving his free hand, motioning for the Marines to get a move on. "Get the hell out of the open, they've got us zeroed in! That's plasma artillery!" The blue muzzle flash of Republic blasters exploded out of the town as the Imperials began to close in, the sapphire bolts slamming into men and mud alike. Various black and red armoured forms flopped into the mud, killed where they ran seemingly at random, hit by blaster fire or shrapnel. Screams cut into the night. A shell exploded next to Ralakan, causing the Miraluka to stumble, almost falling face-first into the mud, pieces of burning hot metal pinging harmlessly off of his armour, the largest of the shards embedding in the thick mud. "Shit! Kriff..." His ears rang, but he moved on. A sound not unlike the tearing of cloth echoed across the valley. Republic Machine guns. "Keep moving! Stop and you're dead, let's go, Marines!" He called out, regaining his footing and restarting the tumultuous charge across the ground.

A cry erupted from the line as the Marines closed the distance, charging into the town. Roofs and windows were blown apart as the tanks started firing, taking out emplacements that would cause the infantry trouble. Red and black met white and blue as the Imperials flooded the town, slamming into the first line of defence in brutal hand to hand fighting. Ralakan slammed himself into the corner of an outlying building, sticking his head around, rifle raised as a white-armoured figure ran into view. He pulled the trigger. His rifle rocked back, and the figure slumped into the mud, a smoking hole evident on his torso. The Miraluka looked back into the field, seeing the remainder of the 2nd Battalion catching up to their comrades. "Move, move, move! Get in the town!" The artillery continued to pound the mud, churning into an even deeper quagmire, evidently not wanting to drop rounds any closer to the town.

The top floor of a huge multi-story hotel exploded violently, rubble cascading downwards and slamming into the mud with a series of plops. Voices cried out from all over the town, both Republic and Imperial. "Pour it on them, troopers! Throw these Imperial bastards back off our kriffing world!" "Move it, Marines!" "Top floor!" "Pubs in the open!" "Imperials on that left block!" Ralakan moved down along a back-street, a series of silhouettes rapidly moving in the other direction. "Fall back to the next phase line, FALL BACK!" The Miraluka keyed his comms once again. "Republic Troops are falling back, keep up the pressure, boys and girls, let's send them out with their tails between their legs." He continued moving, the rain lashing against the smoking ruins of the buildings, unable to put out the chemically ignited fires that burned in the darkness. The pavement makes a nice change from those fields... He lamented as he moved, rifle up, his footsteps being mirrored by a dozen other Imperial soldiers following him through the town.

Minutes passed without incident. The artillery fire had subsided for the most part, and only the distant statico of fire could be heard coming from the neighboring towns further down the road network. The Marines halted their charge, slowing down to a cautious walk. Ralakan took point, Sergeant Lorraine following just behind him. "Smell that, Skip?" Lorraine inquired, the gargantuan 6'4 Marine's voice echoed through the now suspiciously emptied streets. "Yeah, smells strangely like plasma and a trap." The Miraluka replied coolly, head on a swivel. Blaster fire erupted en-masse, the flashing discharges of the rifle fire illuminating the streets like strobe lighting, not blue, but rather a cold, blood red.  THWAK, THWAK, THWAK, THWAK! The Marines instinctively flopped, hugging the dirt to avoid the suspected incoming fire. Lorraine cursed, then suddenly paused. "...Not at us. The hell?" Ralakan stayed down for a few moments, then quietly motioned for the Marines to rise back up. He gripped his rifle as he rose, moving forward again, fingers dancing along the grip. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end, blood pumping in his ears, adrenaline coursing. Another round of blaster fire, longer than the first. THWAK THWAK THWAK THWAK THWAK THWAK!

Ralakan kept moving cautiously. "...Town square should be right around this corner." He murmured, tapping two fingers to the side of his helmet.

He could feel...something.

Death. Lots of it.

He spun around the corner, rifle up, just in time to see a Republic soldier lose his head. THWAK!
The man fell limp at the feet of a figure, surrounded by dozens of similarly dressed armoured forms. At their feet were corpses, all wearing white and blue. The entire surviving Republic garrison. Ralakan heard Lorraine and the others freeze dead in their tracks. "No kriffin' way...there weren't meant to be any other units in the AO..." The figure who had just killed the Republic soldier looked up at Ralakan. The man wore a terrifying bone-white helmet made to resemble a skull, and state of the art armour painted a deep sanguine. In his hand he held a steaming blaster pistol, rain dripping from it's red-hot barrel. The man spun the pistol and slid it away as though it were nothing, and moved toward Ralakan. The Marines held their ground, aware that the rest of the Battalion would be here in a matter of minutes regardless. Ralakan heard Lorraine snarl. "Kriffin' CG bastards. We were ordered to take any survivors prisoner...Major, what in the Force's good kriffing name are these lunatics doing here?" Ralakan stood firm as the skull-faced soldier made his way over, not breaking his gaze. "I don't know, Sergeant. I suspect we're about to find out." The man came to a stop a few meters away from Ralakan, a number of his comrades following suit, standing still, watching the Marines for the slightest sign of hesitation.

"Ah, Major, looks like we've had to do your job for you. A shame, really, I've heard so much about you and your little unit." The man spoke, a finely postured, upper class Imperial accent. He stripped off his helmet, apparently not fazed by the lashing rain. Hard brown eyes, a small goatee and short black hair met the open air, all quickly saturated by the downpour. "Colonel Remus Attencourt, Imperial Crimson Guard, commanding officer of the Empire's 42nd Infantry Division, 1st Regiment." He smiled.

About as genuine as their reason for being here, I'm sure. Ralakan nodded. "I hope you're not expecting a salute." Attencourt eyed the Miraluka coldly. "Evidently not, Major, although I believe it would be a fine courtesy to your betters, especially one who has alleviated you of the burden of recapturing this town." Ralakan clenched his fingers to his rifle. "What are you doing here, Colonel?" The Crimson Guard officer crossed his arms. "As I said, Major, your job here is done." "No, I'm afraid it's not, Colonel. We were ordered to take and hold this town against counterattacks, and to take prisoners for command." Attencourt flicked an iota of mud from the Crimson Guard insignia on his armour's collar, radiating smugness. "Orders change, Major. My men and I are here on the direct orders of Darth Lachris." "I wasn't told you were to be here, Colonel, or about any change in orders." "No doubt your inability to listen, Major...perhaps no surprise. Your blood is impure, after all..." A number of Marines behind Ralakan shifted, and the Miraluka could sense their anger. The 2nd Battalion, while predominantly human, still retained a large number of alien personnel within it's ranks. Ralakan clenched his jaw. "Perhaps so, Colonel...but I have heavy armour in the area and could have fired upon you and your men due to your inability to communicate your kriffing intentions."

The Colonel smirked. "I do hope that wasn't a threat, Major Walker. A poster boy you may be, but there are many in the Empire who see you as a disgrace to our tradition, whom believe you should be slaving away in a mine, or perhaps sent to Korriban for...reeducation. Perhaps best not to give them any excuse, chap?" Ralakan growled. "Listen, Colonel, I will have to ask you to leave, or I'll be forced to commandeer any surviving Republic troops by force." The Colonel laughed, rain dripping from his whiskers to patter on the muddy, shattered pavement. "I'm afraid you'll not find any, Major. And perhaps you should consider biting that filthy tongue before I order one of my men to cut it out. Such an offensive tone...and uncouth an accent."

Lorraine stepped forward, the giant dwarfing the shorter Colonel. "I invite you to try, you kriffin' bigot." Ralakan reached out with a gauntleted hand, pulling Lorraine back. The Colonel eyed the big Marine down, saying nothing, before looking to Ralakan, voice cold and venomous, eyes hard. "Transport is...unavailable due to the weather, Major. You and your men will have to march back to the foward operating base on foot I'm afraid." Ralakan balled his hand into a fist. "We have wounded, Colonel! They'll never make it back in these conditions, we're short on medical supplies as is!" Attencourt shrugged, placing his skull-faced helmet back on. "This is war, Major, people die. Perhaps that will remind you to be more courteous to your superiors in future, you filthy alien."

Colonel Remus Attencourt then promptly spun on his heel, gestured to his lackeys and marched off to police the remaining corpses. Republic soldiers cried for mercy as they were dragged out of the buildings one by one and shot, while Ralakan looked on in disgust. Lorraine threw his rifle to the ground in revulsion. "Fucking son of a hutt...he's just condemned our wounded to death. Kriffin' CG, who's bloody side are they on?" Ralakan turned around, gesturing for the Marines to follow him. "Let's get the hell out of here. We've got a long march back, but the tankers might be able to help us with our wounded. Christensen, radio the FOB, tell them we'll need some help getting out of here."

"Why do you think they were here, Skip?"
"A warning, probably. More likely to scare the rebels."
"Reckon command will be pissed about the prisoners, sir?"
"More than likely. Not a whole lot they can do about it. The CG's upper echelons hold a lot of political power."
"Mmm...bastards."
"Bastards." He reaffirmed.
« Last Edit: 02/23/15, 03:22:00 AM by Hawking »

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-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #11 on: 03/21/15, 11:03:32 PM »
Zythia, several months earlier…

Carvur’s eyes said everything that his mouth abdicated, the burning amber brimming with silent rage, like a caged predator. He turned, backlit by the lashing winds, footsteps accompanied by the crunch of the shattered glass that covered the floor. The wind howled, the torn curtains fluttering violently, the ragged material flapping like they were possessed. Rain continued to pour in through the shattered window, the air seeming to drop degrees in temperature in an instant. He advanced, staring forward. Force, he looks bigger. How the hell did tha’ happen?  Lethash stood his ground, meeting the other Sith’s gaze in the dark enclosures of the Scarred Tower’s “indentured living” floor. Carvur’s sword was missing, Lethash noted, replaced with a vicious looking hilt at his hip, wooden handled with exposed augments, and segments of metal, including two blades atop the crossguard. Carvur, however, made no move to reach for the savage looking instrument, merely flexing his fingers, balling them into and back out of a fist, continuing his indefatigable advance toward the Echani cyborg.
Lethash stood firm. “You won’t be able  to ge’ away with killing her, Carvur.” Carvur continued forward, closing to within a few meters. “If you kill her, Lexicanus will kill you.” He stopped, staring directly into Lethash’s face. Lethash was close enough to smell the odour emanating from him, partly sweat, partly the coppery smell of blood, partly…something else that Lethash couldn’t quite place. In all his time working alongside the hulking Lord, Lethash had never been this close to him. His eyes took on a new, terrible visage when this close. They lacked the depth of normal, organic eyes. There were no visible veins, no nerves, just the pupil, black as sin, and the blazing, glowing orange of the iris. There was no expression on his face. There didn’t need to be. His eyes told the whole story. Pure, unadulterated, inhuman fury. Carvur snorted like a bull. “He is wrong to place his trust in you.” Lethash smiled grimly. “He is.”

Carvur’s fist flew out, his other hand darting to his belt. Lethash ducked, arms crossing across his torso, each hand grasping ahold of a lightsaber as Carvur’s fist splintered a hole in the plaster wall. He hits like a sledgehammer. Lethash ducked sideways, feet crunching the wet, shattered glass. He thumbed the activation matrixes on his lightsabers, the twin blades bursting forth, the sun-orange light illuminating the room. Carvur snapped his own blade on, a deep, midnight purple, sticking it out with a hand as he turned again to face Lethash, carving a line of glowing slag into the wall. Consequences be damned, this bastard isn’t leaving this tower.  Lethash decided. The universe could certainly carry on without Carvur’s brutality. Carvur stood still, falling into the aggressive stance of a Juyo practioner. Of course he is…almos’ like he was engineered for Form VII… Lethash thought grimly as he fell into his own Jar’Kai stance, bracing himself, both physically and mentally.

"The Force bends to you, Knight Winters, it serves you." He pre-emptively lashed out with a hand, lightning streaming from his fingers, wracking Carvur’s body, illuminating the floor in blue-purple light. Carvur staggered momentarily, his armour taking most of the brunt of the hit, and Lethash saw his saber-arm flinch momentarily, twitching for the briefest of instants from the lightning coursing through his muscles. And yet he continued forward irrepressibly, recomposing himself, smoke rising from the blackened metal of his robes. With a sudden, shocking violence, Carvur surged forward, catching Lethash by surprise with a crushing punch to the gut. The Echani lurched forward, the air entirely knocked out of him by the brutal blow, staggering to catch his footing, gasping for air, suppressing the natural urge to panic. Possibly internal bleeding. He spun, still short of air momentarily, the cybernetics around his lungs quickly activating to regulate airflow, returning his breath to him within a few seconds, but still too slow to help with the next offensive.

Carvur slammed into Lethash again, this time with a shoulder, before spinning, continuing the momentum of the shoulder charge, saber soaring down toward Lethash, humming violently. Lethash barely managed to dodge the crushing blow, ducking aside, to meet Carvur’s now exposed flank. The blades of Lethash’s lightsabers flashed as they cut upwards, each one leaving a glowing slash across Carvur’s torso. The big Sith didn’t react verbally, merely pushing outward with a palm, sending Lethash back a few meters, his repulsion halted by a wall, now possessing a freshly made Lethash-shaped dent in the metal. "The Force kneels to you, break it, make it serve."

Lethash fed on his own buried emotion as he stepped forward from the wall, growling, using  the pain of his injuries, the need to protect Aolanni, but most of all, the hatred he’d come to reserve exclusively for Carvur to force himself forward once again, blades held aloft. Thunder rumbled, and the sky split open, lighting flashing over the dystopian Zythian cityscape as Lethash lunged…

DROMUND KAAS, DAYS AFTER MAGIUS’S PROCLAMATION

The four of them walked quietly down the main hallway of the Imperial Citadel in Kaas City, boots rapping against the polished black floors. The usual hub-bub of the center of Imperial Might was unusually withdrawn today, the sound of the heavy rain outside and the quiet discussions of Sith, aristocrats and members of the military being the only audible sounds. The quartet moved quickly, gazes forward, brows lowered and the seriousness of their predicament etched on their features. Lord Lethash of the Emperor’s Tenebrous Gospel took the front and center, bedecked in a set of black robes, accented with burnished gold armour plating. The usually diplomatic, dry humoured Sith spoke not a word.

Just behind him walked three figures dressed in dazzling white and gold, chests adorned with medals, shoulders bearing the patch of the 1st Imperial Marine Division, a black background with a white I upon a field of stars. Standing abreast to each other walked First Sergeant Waric Lorraine, Major Ralakan Walker and Captain Bethany Regus. Lorraine’s hazel-eyed gaze was locked forward, the mountainous man not having shaved his thick black stubble, the equally dark Mohawk on his scalp also remaining, standing amidst the otherwise buzz-cut hair like a hill. Ralakan walked swiftly, face clean shaven, auburn hair combed to something more aesthetically pleasant than its usually rebellious posture. Bethany, as usual, emanated strength, her ice-blue eyes also firmly set on the grand doors ahead of them. Lord Lethash continued walking, not slowing his pace. “If there you’re having second thoughts, now’s the time.” Lorraine snorted. “None.” Ralakan didn’t reply, his position already quite clear. Bethany didn’t break stride, replying with her usual well-mannered, practised tone. “None, my lord.”

This could go badly. They were all aware that this was a possibility. Yet not one of them blanched as they reached the grand doors, the regal black and red of the emblem of the Sith Empire meeting their faces. It had to be done, and there was no others to do it. Lethash placed his hands palm-in-palm behind his back as the doors hissed open. Was probably overdue a catch-up, at any rate… He thought dryly, glancing backward to the marines, offering them a solemn nod. Lorraine returned the nod with a cheeky half-grin, Ralakan returned it confidently, Bethany with her usual poise. Glad to see their loyalties were withou’ question.  He stepped in through the portal, the marines following him, just as the huge, armoured figure stepped back from a holographic projection of the galactic map, the static blue illuminating the immense, dark room. The armoured figure turned to face Lethash, placing his immense hands palm-in-palm behind his own back, radiating sheer power. This was the man who would push the Empire to do or die, and he was expecting them.

“Lord Lethash. I had been anticipating your arrival.”

“Darth Marr.”

Characters:

-Hawking Shatari, Master of Myserty
-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #12 on: 05/14/15, 05:16:16 PM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9IHsKgaMsg

He didn't want to go back.
No sane person would, whilst under their own power. Committing oneself to such madness voluntarily was a designated sign of either the brave or the stupid.

He had been afraid before stepping up to push the envelope of inter-service relations at the Necare Estate, indeed, he had never expected to walk out of the prestigious establishment in one piece.

He had been scared before entering Darth Marr's office to discuss how best to annihilate a fanatical cult, well aware of the consequences of failure.

He had feared for both the safety of himself and his men after standing up to the Crimson Guard on their home turf, leading to 5 of his Marines' early deaths.

But for Balmorra, there was a special sense of dread. Every time his mind drifted back to that hellhole his throat grew dry, a knot formed in his gut, and he begun to feel light-headed. Even once the immediate nightmares of the shock, violence and inhuman stress subsided, there was always the vague, haunting dreams that chilled him to his bones. The battered memories of hearing those fateful words, and being forced to relay them himself. "Gather your kit, boys, we're moving out." 

There was no feeling in the world equal to that dread. A man can endure even the most terrible of fear while his adrenaline is pumping, but, the sense of foreboding grimness is overpowering. To return to the meat-grinder is to forget the respite of the brief reprieve, and to be re-indulged into a world of overwhelming law-of-averages, of fatigue and of filth and fear. Such conditions break even the strongest of men, it was a fortunate thing that the Empire had plenty of men to spare.

The Second Battalion, First Regiment, First Imperial Marine Division would not be so lucky.


DROMUND KAAS, 3 WEEKS TO D-DAY

"C'mon Neely, you're gonna have to move faster than that if you want to survive!"

The young Marine ducked and darted through the undergrowth and torrential rain of Dromund Kaas, feet slipping and sliding on the muddy slopes, trying to keep up with his skipper. "Major," He panted as he ran, grunting as he nearly rolled his ankle in a treacherous pothole. "Are there even trees on Balmorra, sir?" Neely noted with dissatisfaction that the officer couldn't even grant the private a few moments of reprieve to answer his question. "You should know from your documents, Private. Familiarization with the planet's environment to the detail." Neely hopped a log, following Major Walker's boot-prints. A flop and a muttered curse to his rear indicated that Janovic had failed to note said log, and was now enjoying a visor full of mud.

The column of red-and-black armoured figures snaked through the jungle single file, full combat gear on, lead by their intrepid Major on combat training in preparation for the coming offensive. None of them knew the full story yet, but Major Walker's unusually cryptic responses on the matter had many of the senior NCOs and officers on edge. Private Neely himself had simply made the same assumption the other enlisted men had. This was going to be the big one.

After a few exhausting hours of maneuvers in the jungles of Kaas, the Marines had returned to their new home, aboard the Rancorous, to get some rest and continue their study in preparation for the coming campaign. Neely was himself a relative newcomer to his company, and to the Battalion as a whole, being assigned as a replacement only a month prior. Adjusting to the unit's activities during their time off the line had been pressing enough, but now the young man found himself gripped by the infectious, intoxicating whirl of nervous, excited activity that preceded deployment. Men and women from all different walks fluttered through the decks. Something always appeared to be happening. The black and reds of the Marines were interspersed with the greys of the 603rd Fighter Wing, the blues of the Naval staff, and occasionally the deep blacks of the mysterious Naval Special Recon Commandos.

Weapon drills were daily, deployment drills ever other day, with theory lessons occurring just as regularly. The Rancorous itself had been performing a number of gunnery drills on asteroids and other targets, much to the delight of the Marines, who often gathered to watch the immense turbolasers of the Dreadnaught blast apart a variety of spaceborne targets. Another favourite activity of the Marines was to sneak off their assigned decks to talk to the Naval personnel aboard the ship, whom they found to be quite amicable and friendly, for the most part. The Navy mess often welcomed these officially wayward Marines in for a sneaky meal and a chat, wishing them good luck on the ground. Whilst Neely would usually reply to such well-wishing with the trademarked Imperial Marine light-hearted quip in response, he was sure they all felt an overriding sense of dread at the prospect, even from such simple reminders. They were going into the unknown, and the young Marine had conflicted thoughts on the matter. On some level, he was sure he would make it. On another, he was sure he would die. Perhaps mostly, he wasn't sure, which was the most anxiety-inducing conclusion of them all.

The older guys often gave advice like "Keep your head down and your ears pricked, and you'll come out okay." or "Eat dirt, and you won't taste blood." All jovially, but, Neely could tell that they were dreading the deployment as much as he was, perhaps more than he was. They knew what to expect. More oft than not, Neely found himself glancing at the calender, looking for how many days he had left in the safety of the ship. The general feeling of excitement was building toward D-Day, and he almost wished it would hurry up, if not to kill the overwhelming anticipation. He had voiced these concerns to his company commander, Captain Regus. She had smiled and laughed good naturedly, telling him not to rush what precious little time he had left of warm meals, showers and a good place to sleep. Neely had conceded her point and thanked her, still not sure what to expect.

As the young Private Davis Neely of Company F, 20 years of age, born on Dromund Fels, lay his head down to sleep, he was not aware that he would only live to see 23 more nights. He was not aware that he would be killed on the opening day of the offensive, nor that so many more of his comrades would be killed either.  To the older men in his company, he would be just another nameless replacement that had become a statistic faster than he had become a friend.


Such was the conflict on Balmorra that was yet to come, such was the nature of the dread that preceded it, and such were the memories that followed it.
« Last Edit: 05/14/15, 05:20:00 PM by Hawking »

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-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #13 on: 06/25/15, 04:20:55 AM »

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Re: Tales from the Shatari Legacy
« Reply #14 on: 08/07/15, 06:39:40 AM »
August 7th, D-Day + 22 (Week 3 of Operation: Northern Wind)

Never before had he seen the Republic fight so fanatically.
Maybe they knew their were cornered.
Maybe they knew that their defensive positions were strong.
Or, maybe, they just really fucking hated the Imperials.

When it rains on Balmorra, it pours. Major Ralakan Walker gloomily reflected as he trudged up yet another hill, mud sinking up to his shins, rain pattering down on his exposed face and head. This one, thankfully, wouldn't be leading to the deaths of any Marines tonight. The Republic forces, having seen the four companies of Ralakan's 2nd Battalion sweep the ridge opposite them, had wisely decided to withdraw in the dead of night to another strong point some ways back, abdicating to leave the hill to the Imperials. Ralakan had dispersed the Battalion, having E and F companies secure the rest of the ridge line on either side of the main hill, while D held the abandoned Republic positions.

Ralakan cursed quietly as his boot got stuck in the quagmire once more, the rain pattering down incessantly on the muddy incline. Discarded blaster ammunition packs, food wrappers and excrement littered the hillside, but, still the Marines had produced their entrenching tools, little more than mud caked shovels at this point, and begun the tedious task of digging foxholes once again. Digging foxholes had once held a meditative value for Ralakan, but, that time was now long past. I estimate we've dug a couple hundred tonnes of soil already. Could make our own hill with all the dirt.

A slew of Marines were now doing just that as Ralakan reached the summit, rain washing down his dinked and scratched black-and-reds. The concrete bunkers that adorned the top of the hill had already been claimed by the first guys to the top. Since Hill 212, Ralakan had instigated a rotation policy. Every four hills, you'd be all but promised a relatively warm, dry place for the night, until you inevitably packed up and set off for the next ridge-line. Tonight, it was not his turn. Bastard of a place.

Fatigue whittled away at him like water eroding a riverstone as he returned to his own foxhole that he shared with Lorraine. A small, wooden sign had been hammered into the semi-solid surface, upon which read, crudely scrawled into the wood; "Battalion CP, kriff off unless underwear model." Lorraine's handywork, Ralakan reflected with a small smile. The rain continued to pour down, forming a small puddle at the bottom of the foxhole. Ralakan gazed down into it, a frown creasing his features.
"Great." He muttered. Four times he'd been to this world, and every time he came back, it found a new way to deserve his vitriol.

"Shit!" A loud curse went up from close by, accompanied by the unmistakable sound of a Marine slipping and sliding on his now extremely muddy rear end into the disgusting, murky surface water of his foxhole.
"You're brave to be hitting the pool at this time of night, Coop." Ralakan called out, thankful that his voice was holding out. His throat was red raw and anxiety ate away at him, but, it seemed that at least for now, lines of communication were to remain open.
"You're a funny man, Skipper." Came the sarcastic reply. The sun had already set, and the moon, as per usual was stuck behind a thick layer of cloud and fog. Silence fell across the line, interspersed with the odd, distant statico burst of machine gun fire, or the low thump of artillery impact. The deep blue flashes of Republic tracer fire flew up into the sky, chasing away aircraft that weren't coming in the first place.

The hours crept by, all sense of time diminishing into the darkness and the cold. Leadership was solitary work at the best of times, but, here, in the darkness, gazing out over the valley, Ralakan Walker felt like the loneliest man in the universe. Sleep had been a rare commodity. Some nights he stole a few hours, on others he was awake or in combat. One night he'd spent totally unnerved, feeling the force signatures of the dead stand up and roam the battlefields in some sort of waking nightmare. He shifted his weight in the foxhole, feeling the cold mud seeping between the seams of his armour. Definitely the worst part of feeling the Force...you can never be sure if that sort of thing is a dream or not. He thought grimly, fingers tapping silently on his rifle.

The Force...

He sat in total stillness and silence for an undiscernible time, merely listening out for any signs of Republic intrusion. The bastards had taken to crawling up to the marines's foxholes at night, where they would slit the throats of the unaware, or pull the pins from the grenades of the sleeping. He felt drunk with fatigue, his senses feeling as though they were underwater. But they had trained long and hard for this campaign, and night was no longer a stranger to him. A man could easily go mad with too much of this. Ralakan paused, suddenly becoming starkly aware of just how alone he really was. His unit was his family, but even they had biological roots to return to. Siblings to think about, parents to write to, husbands, wives, girlfriends and boyfriends, children of their own to occupy their thoughts. What did he have? Painful memories of the past, a tired awareness of the present, and some plans for the near future. Perhaps that was an exaggeration. Or was it? He had Lorraine and Bethany, Noran and Kebaliya, Rix...but...there'd been others, now long dead or gone. He'd not heard from Lakesh for quite a time. He wondered if Audaine could forgive him, if she ever found out about his involvement in Reithan's capture. Could he forgive himself?

Taken by the Sith...

His train of thought was interrupted as a dark, armoured figured slid down into the foxhole with a grunt. "Bugger."
Ralakan looked away from the valley, where he had been staring off into space. "Waric." He greeted the figure. The Marine stripped off his helmet, the rain immediately dampening his shaved black hair and thick black beard. First Sergeant Waric Lorraine came from a military family, but, the big fellow still reminded him of a mountain man, some sort of lumberjack or miner. "Skip," Lorraine returned with a nod, barely visible in the gloom. "Just finished having a talk with some of the POWs we picked up, infiltrators tha' we clapped in irons a few nights back."

Ralakan didn't immediately reply, allowing Lorraine to continue. "Kriffers seemed awfully disorganised, couldn't bloody tell their own lads from some of ours. Still no sign of higher leadership." Lorraine sounded frustrated, exhaling sharply. "Hell, sir, nothing we didn't already know. Seems like the Pubs 'ere as as in the dark as we are, even more so than our last visit to their scenic world. Lovely place. Can't say I'd want to take Harriet here, though. She's not a huge fan of the cold." Ralakan smiled beneath his helmet. He'd only met the famous Harriet Lorraine once, when she'd shown up alongside her mountain of a husband during the Life Day Parades. She was a short, pretty looking thing with flaming red hair and an equally fiery disposition, he recalled. "Never know, might be some prime real estate in these hills. Get a mansion set up on your NCO salary, got plenty of foxholes you could convert into pools for when Lorraine Jr. isn't busy terrorizing the neighbors." Lorraine chuckled heartily, as was his usual style. "Ah, I think the neighbors have had more than enough Lorraine for the time being, may as well give them a break."

The two sat in comfortable silence, the rain continuing to fall. Lorraine leaned back against the side of the foxhole, eyeing Ralakan. "You're quieter than usual. Everything alrigh'?" Ralakan was quiet for a few moments. He curled and uncurled his fingers, rapping them against his rifle in a rare display of hesitation. I'm sure he knows how I'm feeling, always did read me like a book. "...No, actually." Ralakan said finally. It had started about a week before. First it had been nothing perceivable, and, like many problems of it's ilk, had only made itself starkly apparent long after anything could be done about it. Lorraine listened. He was excellent at listening.

"Remember back to last week, when we executed the maneuver to encircle Ridge 42, forced the surrender of the entire garrison in the tunnel system?" Lorraine nodded. "I do." "Yeah. Well, I started having some...feelings-" "I'm sure she feels the same way, it's perfectly normal, if not a jus' a tad inappropriate righ' now. Talk to her after we're back to somewhere with central heating and without the noxious bogs of shit." Lorraine interjected cheekily. He smiled, but, Ralakan knew that the deflection was intentional. They'd discussed this before, and, evidently, were now both still worried about it. "...it's coming back, isn't it?" The Sergeant asked, his voice tightening, almost unnoticeable. Almost.
Ralakan eventually nodded. He saw no point in denying it, let alone to his best friend. "It is. Knowing that the other squad was down there? As much as I would like to say it was my soldiery intuition...I could feel them." Lorraine put his fingers together, drumming on his knuckles. "Mmm..."

 Ralakan was silent again for a long few moments. "When the Ministry of War gave me my own special podium with accompanying special title, I wasn't happy. I'd never asked for it, certainly never deserved it. I still maintain that nothing good came of it." "But..." "But, it kept me out of the reach of the Sith. It meant that I was too valuable for them to figure out whether or not I'd survive Korriban. It meant I'd be able to stay with the men, which was all I could have asked for." He inhaled sharply and swallowed. "But...I'm old news, Waric. Ministry still has my face on some posters, despite my protesting. I don't want the fame, and I don't want the attention, there are people far more deserving of it than I am. But...my story is getting old. The Ministry will find someone to replace me, and soon. And when that happens, I'll be free pickings for any Sith who decide that my connection to the Force is strong enough to justify a trip to the Academy on Korriban. Not only for the sake of adding another name to their kriffing roster, but, certified Imperial Heroes make for the best Sith. I doubt the Ministry themselves could dream up a better continuation of my life to sell to the public." "And your connection is...strengthening, somehow?" "Yeah. I don't know how or why, but, it's certainly looking that way." The two fell back into silence for a few, long moments. Somewhere in the valley below, a very brave native bird sang a mournful tune.

"I'd rather die than become of them." Ralakan stated simply, looking away, listening to the birdsong in the Balmorran midnight. He was almost sure that Lorraine could detect the fear lining his face. And fear it was. Fear in combat was one thing, never knowing if you'd live to see the next 5 minutes, let alone until the next day. But the thought of going to Korriban, the thought of being twisted and corrupted and broken into Sith, filled him with wild, desperate revulsion and disgust. He fought the war for the Empire, but, with friends like the Sith, who needed enemies in the form of the Republic? Lorraine nodded, voice seeping disgust. "I know. We all do, every one of us that served under those Tenebrous Gospel lunatics. Those bastards killed more of our own, more than killed 'em, than we lost in combat during our tenure with them." Ralakan nodded, sighing. "I know. I took the numbers, sent the letters. I wasn't sure how I was supposed to tell the families of my Marines that their son or daughter had been roasted alive inside their armour for failing to obey a suicidal order from a Sith."

"So, what are you going to do?"
"Keep fighting, little other option. We win here, I can worry about it later."
"Scared of what the future holds, Skip?"
"Terrified, Waric. Terrified."

Characters:

-Hawking Shatari, Master of Myserty
-Aspasia Maguire, Smack Talker
-Rieko "Boogie" Black, Agent of the Empire