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Author Topic: A Threat Fulfilled  (Read 2796 times)

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Offline Kremon

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A Threat Fulfilled
« on: 12/28/16, 10:49:56 PM »

So this is a thread me and Noth have been plotting for awhile as a continuation of the near-fight that broke out at Anti-Zak Night. We'll see how it proceeds along, but it's definitely going to be interesting.


Iridonia. Home of the Zabrak.
But there was more than horn-heads on the planet; no, some Jedi had decided to make it home and set up an enclave there, which also happened to be the home for a certain Jedi he was looking for.
Exephos leaned against a street corner of a small town on the planet, a hood pulled down low over his face as he waited. The Jedi he was after was here; but he couldn't directly look at him.
He'd had plenty of experience in killing force-users, and he was well aware of their precognitive and sensing abilities. It was what allowed them to know where strikes would land and pick out pursuers in a crowd. Of course, there was the issue of his 'signature' in the 'Force'. Nothing he could do about that except to remain at a distance, in this case, a very long distance. He always made sure that he was at least fifty meters away from his target at all times.
Perhaps he was being overly paranoid, but if fighting Sith had taught him anything, it was to take nothing for granted and to never, ever underestimate their abilities.
So he worked indirectly; he'd set up cameras to watch the intersections and the Enclave building, and they would give him the intel he needed to proceed, without him sticking his neck out and leaving himself vulnerable.
He was principally looking for where the Jedi spent most of his time, where he lived, routines he did daily, and weaknesses that could be used against him.
People or things he was fond of, strict schedules, constant habits.
All could be used against someone.
Considering that this was a Jedi, any passerby on the street could probably be used against him. Due to his connection with the Force, he would sense their pain.
That could be manipulated.
But there was the 'small' matter that he couldn't actually think about what he was going to do to him. Doing that would be like shooting up a flare and proclaiming your intentions to a Force-user, or so he thought.
They could sense emotions, and thinking about how much he hated them all? Not exactly covert in the emotional field.
So his experience in Spec-Force back during the Cold War came to the fore at times like these, to clear his mind of thoughts and to simply act. That experience came in handy and not just in how to deal with force-users.
Keep a low-profile on the streets. Blend in with the local populace by using native clothing, trust no-one, and pretend to be of a profession that wouldn't be suspicious lurking around but also wasn't noticeable.
In this case, he was a street sweeper, albeit a lazy one if anyone was watching. Every now and then, he'd use his broom to sweep up a bit of rubbish and dirt to keep up appearances.
It was a small town though, so originally he'd arrived on-site and remained in deep cover as a trooper. A completely off-the-records transfer over as a relatively low-rank, everyone back on base thought he was a sergeant from the Survey Corps and that he was off making maps of the terrain all day. The perfect cover to wreak havoc on an Enclave.
But first he would wait, and once he knew everything he needed to... He would strike; not immediately of course. First he would mess with this Jedi; let him know that he was watching. Start off with a few emblems spray-painted onto the walls at first; small things, easily mistaken for graffiti. Then perhaps something more invasive, like a damaged Republic trooper helmet left where he might come across it. Lull him into a sense of foreboding.
Then he would strike hard and fast, and leave his mark on the Jedi, both internally and externally.
He would make him regret every word he'd said in that meeting. That was a certainty.

A week later.

Exephos marched towards the enclave wearing another soldier's ill-fitting plastoid plates rather than his own durasteel, and carrying a rifle he was not familiar with. As a 'sergeant of the Survey Corps' he couldn't exactly be wearing a massive suit of armour specially modified for the rigours of frontline combat and carrying a forty-year old rotary cannon. That'd raise unwanted questions.
As it was, he was able to pass the sentries at the gate unchallenged and proceed directly within the Enclave grounds. This was where he had to be very careful; all it took was one inquisitive Jedi youngling, and Exephos's careful deception would come crashing down. So he struggled to keep his feelings as neutral and bored as possible; no matter how much he wanted to burn this entire compound to the ground. He breathed deeply in and out, forcing his mind blank; couldn't think like that, not here, where a Jedi might sense his emotions.
As he came up to the main doors, he reached to his belt pouch and pulled out a holo-recorder and collapsible tripod; tools of a surveyor.
"Is it possible to get access to that rooftop, Corporal?" Exephos asked one of the troopers on guard whilst he motioned to the top of the building.
"Aye, sergeant. You can enter it through the maintenance accessway." The sentry replied, already telling Exephos what he knew. He'd made sure to have a look at the building's blueprints prior to coming.
Exephos gave a nod of thanks to the trooper, before striding inside as he checked the chrono in the top left of his HUD.
Early morning.
Good, that meant that all the Jedi should be out practicing their 'mystical arts' outside. Striding along the corridors, he made straight for Bren's room. He had a little gift to leave him.
Once he was outside the door, he ran a scanner along the edges, looking for any alarms or traps the Jedi might have set up to catch any that might enter his quarters. Unlikely, given Jedi's supposed hospitality, but he didn't take chances.
The scan came up devoid of anything, so he palmed the access panel and strode quickly inside.
He reached around to the pack on his shoulders and pulled out a standard trooper's helmet, with one difference. A blaster hole was shot neatly between the eyes. A quick look around the quarters until he found a table, and set it there; facing towards the door.
Another marking of his presence, if the Jedi was smart enough to piece it together.
He had one other thing to do while he was here, but first he glanced around the scene to see if he'd left any trace of himself. Satisfied that he hadn't, he left the room and closed the door behind him, before once more walking along the corridors.
He spared another glance at his chrono as he went.
Starting to run out of time. He'd have to move quickly.
Moving a bit faster along the corridors, Exephos made for the maintenance room.
His target was a cleaning droid, specifcally the one that cleaned Bren's quarters. He had it's designation number recorded. CD-55.
A slight modification to it's normal operating regime, and it would be ready for his plan.
However, he didn't know if there was any maintenance staff inside. If there was, they'd have to be relocated in a way that didn't draw attention, it was too soon for him to be drawn out into the open.
Once he came to the door, Exephos braced himself; ready to answer potential questions or inquiries.
The maintenance room was a tight, cramped facility designed for utility and function rather than beauty. Warning signs painted around machinery were worn and faded and the ground was stained with oils and cleaning fluids. It was also empty.
Perfect.
He made straight towards the cleaning droids, stored in their recharging racks. According to the schedule he'd observed, these droids would clean the common areas at night, then do personal quarters during the day.
He'd had some of his technicians back on Hypori make him up a program which swapped that around. CD-55 would clean Bren's personal quarters at night, when he was sleeping, and he'd be carrying a loud message to wake him up.
Careful to remain out of sight of the droid's optics, he booted it up and used a data spike to upload the change in programming which was accepted willingly by the droid's less than secure core.
Within a minute, it was done and he removed the spike. It would be instructed to head to the Jedi's rooms at night and say the words; 'Someone is watching' over, and over. It'd certainly get his attention.
Time to leave though. Staying any longer risked running into Jedi.
He made a quick exit through the corridors and gave a salute to the troopers on guard out front before heading back towards the base there. If anyone asked, he'd simply been taking photographs as part of the survey corps.
That Jedi was going to have a nasty awakening and more than a few scars when Exephos was done.
Exephos; a haunted war-ravaged veteran.
Shad'ra; an indecisive ex-mandalorian.
Gharzog; a happy-go-lucky gun for hire.

Offline Noth

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #1 on: 12/29/16, 04:42:06 PM »
Week One

Fortunately for Exephos, Bren lived a daily schedule so habitual that it was almost ritual. He woke in the very early hours, spent his time until breakfast meditating and going through dulons and unarmed training in the desert outside the city, grabbed the exact same breakfast at the exact same cantina every morning, and spent the rest of his day working in the Enclave's lab or Archives, training the younglings, teaching Jheva, or doing whatever jobs were needed of him around the Enclave and clan city. He ate dinner late, and returned to his quarters late, giving Exephos more than enough time to infiltrate them without trouble.

Bren also, before returning to the Enclave for the evening, visited the city's guards. Particlarly, the night watchman at the outer walls. He had known the man since he was a padawan, always made sure to stop by. On this particular night, he caught the man glaring into the distance with such determination that he actually checked to see if there was anything on the horizon. There wasn't.

"Er... trouble?" the Jedi asked, settling on the wall next to him.

Jeth, that was his name, spooked a little, and gave the man a relieved smile. "Ah, Master Jedi... Depends on your definition of trouble. You see the new 'art' on the way up here?"

Bren thought, gave the man an uncertain look. "What... the starbirds sprayed on the walls? You're glaring about that?"

Jeth made a frustrated huff. "We're weeks out from Republic Day, Bren. Weeks. They're already starting."

"It's probably teenagers," Bren said, chuckling. "They're not going to burn down the city."

"Yet. Every year, some kid gets hurt doing something stupid, drinking at the cantina in some fit of patriotism. Sometimes I get to deliver news of a death, that's always fun. They get drunk, pull stupid stunts, trying to impress some boyfriend or girlfriend or new huntmates, and then film it and put it on the holonet. Wrecked speeders, jumping off buildings, getting into duels... one time I had a kid get trampled by a reek. Bright kid. Except when he decided to take a dare."

Bren rubbed the back of his neck. "... Well, you're an old guardsman with old tricks. I'm sure you'll catch your vandals and their parents can keep a close watch on them."

"Damn right." The older man squinted into the eternal sunset. "And if they're my kids, they'll be spending their Republic Day on guard duty learning things about peace and civility."

"Jeth..." Bren started, shaking his head. "I think you're blowing this up a little too much. I'm surprised anyone even feels like celebrating, with the past... years."

"We're Iridonians. Dissent makes us even more prideful." Jeth looked up and grinned at the other man. "Even you, Jedi. I seem to remember a very particular report from when you were younger--"

"Oh stars here we go..."

"--something about one of the padawans stealing a Reek because the speeder pool was too slow. Your excuse was, correct me if I'm wrong, 'Commandeered for Jedi business'."

Bren shrugged. "I returned it safe and sound. No harm done."

"It's pretty hard to hurt a reek, Bren. I still count it as reckless and stupid. I think it was my first night on duty, I remember because I got chewed out."

Bren chuckled. "Well, I'm sorry about that... You seem to have done alright for it. And besides--"

"--oh no--"

"--I hardly stole it. It was a living, breathing animal, and it could think for itself. I simply befriended the reek, and it was kind enought to aid me."

Jeth gave the man a very tough, long look, then muttered, "That's some real Jedi bantha-shit if I've ever hear it. And you're supposed to be more level-headed than your standard reckless youth. Anyway, you see anyone causing trouble like that, you let me know?"

"Your sharp eyes will catch it before I do," Bren said, giving a small laugh and patting the man's shoulder. "Have a good night, Jeth."

He returned to the Enclave, eyeing the marks as he passed them again. Reckless, dangerous teenagers indeed... he laughed quietly, walking back to the building with its weathered statues of Jedi guarding the entrance. It struck him as he did that the spray-painted Republic emblems seemed to follow him back, painted on every wall on his regular route. Maybe it wasn't pride, but protest, he thought quietly. People were hardly fond of the Jedi these days, especially not among the most loyal of the Republic's citizens. And the Zabrak were, if nothing else, known for their loyalty.

Week 2

The past week had not been kind on Bren's psyche. Not because of the street art springing up all around the Enclave, that was more amusing and irritating than anything. Because everything from the past weeks just seemed ... harder, as it weighed on him. The threat of Zakuul loomed over everything, but he barely noticed for his own problems.

Iirim wasn't responding to his outreach like he'd hoped. Rather than a happy reunion of friends and ... well whatever Iirim had been beside that, Bren found a man at once cavalier and stubborn, without many kind thoughts about the Jedi, who dodged half of his questions and gave pointed, dismissive answers to the rest. He had no plans to return to the Enclave, and Bren--while he'd doubted his own motives for this personal quest for a while now--was beginning to also doubt his feelings about the Miraluka's refusal to return. He was angry, saddened, frustrated. And in being frustrated, was letting his passions rule his thoughts.

The fight with Exephos, for example. Snapping at Hark. Unable to let things go, unwilling to give ground, determined to prove to the world or maybe to himself that being pious and sacrificial were worth the effort. Maybe Nusaiya was right... Step back, from Jedi, from the Enclave, from conflict and his current problems. Find a neutral place of peace to withdraw and meditate on the Force and his reasoning, wipe the slate clean. He was thinking, maybe he would go to the Temple at Malidris--... not a Jedi place, but still a place of calm, serenity, and the Force by other names. He could grab a speeder, be at the capitol in a day or two...

When he entered his quarters he found them occupied, by a cleaning droid. That wasn't unusual, though there wasn't much to clean. He had very little, aside from a sleeping pallet, a thin meditation cushion before a small dais lit by electronic candles, a small chest for extra robes and a few personal items, a stand with a holoprojector on the top, a low table for tea and caffa and whatever else he needed, and a small heap of datapads that went constantly unsorted.

As a result, he noticed the new object immediately. A Republic trooper's helm, scorched by blaster fire, sitting on his table.

The Jedi paused, looking around the room. No one here but him and the droid. He went over to the table and took a closer look at the object, noting with a sense of unease that it had taken a fatal blaster bolt. That, and its blank eyes were staring directly at his sleeping pallet. He looked up at the droid, a frown creasing his brow.

"Where did this come from? Did someone put this here?"

The droid seemed to finally notice he was there. It looked like it had been mopping the same spot of floor for a while now. Turning its head, it intoned in an almost cheerful tone, "Someone is watching."

Well that wasn't the answer he expected. Bren gave a half-smile, asking again, "What?"

"Someone is watching," the droid repeated, stopping its mopping. "Someone is watching."

Bren paused, then looked from the droid to the helmet, then from the helmet to its gaze towards his bed. The feeling of unease grew. He knelt by the low table, closing his eyes to sense the area around the Enclave and his quarters. Nothing unfamiliar, no one he didn't know. Just Masters Orans and Tar Va teaching younglings in the next room, a sense of Jheva among them, listening. He opened his eyes and peered at the droid.

"Who's watching?" he asked. "Did you see someone come in here?"

"Someone is watching," the droid answered again, repeating it over and over. "Someone is watching. Someone is watching. Someone is watching."

Alright. That was enough. Bren stood and walked over to the droid, looking for an off switch. As he did, it continued to repeat the words, over and over and over again. He finally found the right button and flicked it on, sighing as the droid shuddered to a halt and blessed, blessed quiet.

He made a mental note to turn the droid over to maintenance, or security. If it was a glitch, it was an oddly specific one. He wondered if the droid itself had brought the helmet in here. Maybe someone had caught the intruder on holo...

---

"What do you mean there's no security footage?" Bren asked, folding his arms.

The technician shrugged, helplessly. "I'm sorry, there's nothing. We don't have cameras in any of the old Knights' quarters. I'm pretty sure security in the Enclave hasn't been updated since the Mandalorian Crusades brought you all to settle there... and it was an old building even then."

"But, there has to be something. Something from the main building, maybe. Or the courtyard outside."

The technician brought up a holoscreen, on which three videos from three different views played. "Look, this is all we have. It's all completely normal. Tiny Jedi, old Jedi, couple guards and surveyors."

"Surveyors?"

"Vi, Am' ay'Vyshtal.* Survey Corps's doing some readings. That's pretty normal, I mean, we do live in mountains."

Bren sighed, rubbing his forehead. "What about the droid?"

"Sliced, it looks like. We didn't find a spike. Whoever did it, took it with them. Captain Jeth thinks its teenage--"

"--hooligans, yeah, I've heard the speech." The Jedi felt uncomfortable with the entire situation, but tried not to let it show. No need to bother the poor mechanic. There was something to be said for an image of Jedi serenity. "Did you follow up on the helmet?"

"Sort of." The technician paused. "Looks like some of the militia and military types will use them for target practice. It could just be a prank, honestly."

"Left at a Jedi Enclave..."

"Well..." The technician looked hesitant, then apologetic, as they added, "You know, people don't really like the Jedi right now. Clan Noth's council may not agree, but Saresh has declared you all traitors. Remember that, right?"

"Hard not to," Bren muttered. He paused, thinking it over a moment, then gave the technician a small bow. "Thank you. I'll follow up. Let me know if you find anything else. Ush tuha meni natel sharee.**"

"Na natel sharee, ay'Vyshtal,***" the technician responded, giving him a nod in response.

Despite the familiar parting, and the fact that at least some people at Tira'Noth were still friendly--if not reverent, which never got less strange--towards the Jedi, Bren left with worry eating at him. Maybe Jeth was right, and it was a prank. But if someone knew enough to reprogram a droid, was sending him threatening messages via trooper helmet, it was time to worry more about the Enclave's security. He'd let the Masters know, and try to get to the bottom of this... if the Force was really with him in this, it would be teenagers playing a prank. If not, it was something sinister, and that needed to be prepared for.

* Yes, Master Jedi. (Lit. Yes Holy Knight)
** May the Force be with you.
*** And with you, Jedi.
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Kremon

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #2 on: 12/29/16, 07:36:17 PM »

They came at night. A full squad of the Ninety-Fifth's close combat specialists. They went by the name of sabercats. They were perhaps the most quiet platoon in the whole of the battalion keeping mostly to themselves. But on the battlefield? They were ferocious and determined, going toe to toe with force-users without the benefit of their powers.
"Ten of your saber-cats here and ready, sir." Lieutenant Yevan stated quietly after striding out of the blacked-out shuttle.
"Good. Did you bring the things I requested?" Exephos asked.
Yevan nodded, before leading the way up the ramp and into the cargo bay. A dull red lamp lit up the interior so as to not create an obvious point of light.
"Standard phrik force pikes. Multiple setting modes; non-lethal, lethal, and limb removal." The soldier explained, holding up one of the silvery meter and a half long rods.
He moved over to a crate full of grenades.
"Nerve toxin. CX-10. Breath in this, and your out cold for the next ten hours. Though a force-user would be out for more like five." Yevan said, hefting one of the cylindrical devices before setting it down and picking up a stack of flat disks.
"Stun mines. The Jedi steps near these, and he gets a few loud flashes and bangs to throw him off."
These were set down, before he moved over to two large bulky under-held weapons connected to twin packs.
"Flamethrowers from our armoury. Not particularly effective against skytroopers, but they'll work well against a Jedi. Especially if we turn them on the town itself." Yevan said, suggesting the possible destruction of entire homes off-handedly.
A soldier after his own heart.
He moved to the last of the weapon crates and pulled out an odd-looking boxy grenade.
"Sonic grenades. They'll throw a Force-user off as well; at least in theory. Best hope there aren't any Bith in the area though. Their heads explode with this kind of ordnance." Yevan added with a chuckle, before reaching around to his belt and holding up a pair of binders.
"Specially designed anti-Force binders. Unlockable only with a six digit code, and inputting the wrong one will deliver an electric shock. Pulling or pushing at them will have the same effect too. One pair for everyone to use." He quietly spoke, before clipping them back to his belt.
"Excellent. Set up a perimeter around the cave we spoke about and get it ready for our 'special guest'."

With the arrival of the saber-cats, Exephos was ready for the next phase of his psychological war against Bren.
From here on, the risk got far greater as he took a much more visible approach to scare tactics.
It involved breaking into the Enclave perimeter at night, with the Jedi all inside.
It ran a risk of being intercepted with the Force; but if he was confronted, he'd have to skip straight to capturing the Jedi.
As such, when he prepared for his incursion; he wore his full armour, mostly for it's phrik layer on the armguards and chestplates.
He also carried one of the pikes his soldiers had brought; just in case; so when he found himself lurking in the foothills behind the enclave, he was prepared.
"I've got eyes on, Anvil." One of his soldiers said through their encrypted helmet comms whilst hiding out on one of the town's buildings with a large anti-materiel blaster rifle.
"Set time-check. In and out in eight minutes." He said quietly, starting towards the building.
"Zero-ten hours. Cams on the ground going down in... Three... Two... One. Cameras jammed." Came the reply.
"Moving in past the perimeter. Going dark for now." He quietly stated as he moved across the grounds next to the Enclave's livestock pens.
His first target? A sentry, by name of Jeth. His shift would be ending shortly.
He stole across the grounds, avoiding the brightly lit main doors and the two Republic troopers stationed there.
Instead, he made directly for a man over to the side of the front of the Enclave, manning the far edge of the outer walls.
He was alertly watching the exterior of the Enclave, but did little to look behind him.
As he drew his knife and came up behind the sentry, he felt a twinge of pity for the poor guard but quickly stifled it.
There could be no mercy for Jedi sympathizers.
He wrapped his arm around the sentry's mouth before slicing across his throat with the gleaming blade.
Jeth fell to the ground, choking on his own blood.
Exephos sliced across the chest twice more, before bringing around an empty duffel bag and stuffing the sentry inside before he threw it over his shoulders and made quickly back for the Enclave building.
He checked his chrono as he slunk through the shadows just off the side of the main doors.
Zero-thirteen. Not much time left.
He quickly scaled the outside of the structure and made straight for the rooftop access. It was locked, be he solved that issue with a solid kick to the mechanism. The trapdoor gave in, so he was able to drop into the maintenance corridors within where he gathered his bearings before making down one of the tight, narrow corridors. Once he found the place he was looking for; he pulled out a vent cover before dropping down into the Jedi corridors; right outside Bren's room.
He peered left and right, making sure the coast was clear, before shooting an ascension cable into the roof with a quiet hiss.
Once it was there, he pulled the now-dead sentry out of the bag and tied the end of the cable around Jeth's neck, to leave him hanging half a meter in the air, right outside the Jedi's door.
One last thing to do.
Exephos climbed back through the vent cover and closed it carefully behind him before creeping rapidly back to the ladder leading to the roof. Upon climbing up, he slunk across the rooftop, right above Bren's room.
Aware that he might be drawing attention to himself at this point through the Force, Exephos pulled out a now-bloodstained Republic flag from the duffel bag and unfurled it across the Jedi's window. With a slight spark from a lighter, he set it ablaze.
Time to be going.
Grabbing the duffel bag after him, he practically ran across the rooftop before hurling himself off; trusting in his armour to take the impact.
He fell the two stories down before landing with a thump and a groan. As he picked himself up and continued out of the compound, he checked the chrono in his helmet.
Zero-nineteen hours. Right on time.
That Jedi was going to have hell for the night.
Exephos; a haunted war-ravaged veteran.
Shad'ra; an indecisive ex-mandalorian.
Gharzog; a happy-go-lucky gun for hire.

Offline Noth

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #3 on: 12/30/16, 05:28:55 PM »
Bren could tell something was wrong as soon as he neared the wall. It wasn't Jeth's absence, not at first. It was a quiet--in the air and in the Force--that he wasn't used to feeling... A quick sprint up the steps told him that Jeth wasn't at his post, which certainly did not help the feeling of foreboding get any better.

The Jedi closed his eyes, breathed out slowly, and focused on the unease, trying to find it's source. Maybe Jeth was going to find his vandals. Maybe that's all it was... but he could scent blood, somewhere, and something else. Smoke?

He opened his eyes and began to run, down the steps, back to the Enclave, towards the source of the unease. He tapped his wristcomm: "Orans, Tar, might have a problem at the Enclave. Meet me there. Make sure the learners are safe."

He sped through the door to the building, still following the feeling of wrongness. The scents of fire and blood and something worse than that--something more like the dead--grew stronger as he grew closer. He could sense the uneasy feeling rolling away, as if it was moving, and quickly, but the scents weren't. He felt a nervous jolt as he remembered an old adage, that the Dark Side grew stronger around those planning to take a life. He knew that was true, from experience. He also knew that was what he was now feeling.

"Masters, I think we have an intrud--"

The words died in his mouth as he rounded the corner, coming to a halt in front of his quarters. He stood, frozen still, hand still holding his wrist-comm up to speak, and stared at the body hanging from the cieling.

Jeth, his mind registered quietly.

But the rest of his mind was anything but quiet. He stared at the man, at the rents in his skin and clothing, at the blood colouring most of the front of his uniform. At the pool of blood on the ground below him. At the closed door to his quarters. He felt as if he was both falling and the ground rushing towards him--though he knew he stood still. And there was something else, a feeling like a distant roaring--blood in his ears, or anger? It was hard to tell; he was still trying to process what he was looking at. Trying to process the death of his friend. Trying to process this outside his quarters.

Footsteps behind him. Orans arrived first, the elder Jedi slowing down, eyes widening as he took in the sight. He looked between Bren and the body a few times, noting the living man's distress, and acted first, slashing his saber across the wire to cut Jeth down. Bren reached out, sluggishly.

"No, wait--"

Too late. Orans slowed Jeth's fall with the Force and caught him, then laid the man gently on the floor. He looked up at Bren, the look in his face mirroring alarm and concern, but much more quietly than Bren felt at the moment. He returned to considering Jeth's body with a look of intense concentration. Tar Va arrived in time to see Orans close the man's eyes with a small prayer, and place his robe over him. Bren just stood still, his arm still faintly outsretched as if stopping Orans from taking him down would somehow make this situation better.

"What..." The Archivist began to ask what had happened, eyes drawn to the scene on the floor, then looked over the two other Jedi. "I will return to the learners. Keep guard."

Orans gave Tar a single nod, his expression still grim and thoughtful. He tapped his comm and issued a warning to someone else, Bren could guess it was someone in the Council or the guard by the words. "Put the guard on high alert. There's been a murder on the Enclave grounds. A guardsman. See what you can find and lock down the city."

Bren heard a faint, crackling affirmation on the other end. He remained where he was, focusing his breathing, as his thoughts ran wild. Jeth, dead. Had he gone after his vandals? Had he found them? No such thing as coincidence... Jeth was either dead because he found them, or because whoever was messing with Bren's quarters was much more dangerous than they assumed. ... Was this his fault?

He felt panic pubble up in his heart, and Orans must have felt it too. The elder Jedi stepped over to him, grabbing hold of his arms, trying to steer him to meet his eyes. "Bren... Look at me. Focus."

Bren met his eyes, and the old man smiled, faintly.

"Good. Tell me what you're thinking. Tell me what you saw, or what you feel."

Bren blinked slowly. There was too much to go over in an instant, and it felt like it needed to all come out in an instant. Jeth's killer, whoever they were, was getting further away by the second. He made a small sound, almost like speech, more like a whine, then stopped, blinking rapidly.

"Fire," Bren whispered.

"What?"

"Fire," he repeated, tearing himself away and rushing to the door. He had enough sense to cover his fingers before touching the keypad, at least, in case there was evidence there. As the door slid open, he felt his heart sink further.

A bloodied, flaming Republic banner, emblazoned against his window, flames lapping through the windowframe. He stared at it, at the fire moving across it, and actually thought he might fall as it hit him all of a sudden. The emblems, the war-scarred helmet, this banner, and Jeth... Jeth, one with the Force. Jeth, whose wounds registered as faintly familiar in the back of the Zabrak's mind. Like an old threat.

Bren sat, quickly, touching his palms to the ground. It was soothing, calming, stable... He stared at the burning flag and said quietly, "I know who did this."

"Bren?" Orans picked his way inside, bending over to the younger Jedi. "Who?"

"Need your help... need your help to find him. Have to focus." Not that it was going to be easy, with the raging fire outside, the scent of blood and death at the door. He closed his eyes, breathed in deeply, placed his hands on his knees as he focused on the uneasy feeling before. He had a strong feeling that uneasy sense now had a name, and that it was Exephos. "Help me find him," he finished, urgently, but quietly, as he faded into meditation, putting one hand out as if it would be a divinig rod. "He's moving away already."

He felt Orans' hand on his shoulder, the old man joining the meditation, lending him calm and focus. He cast his thoughts out beyond the Enclave walls, out beyond the city, trying to hone in on the emotions he had sensed coming into the Enclave. Almost... There. Bren opened his eyes, just as the elder did, the two looking at each other.

"Found your murderer?" Orans asked.

"Yes." Bren stood, hand hovering over his saber, then turned and grabbed a zhaboka as well, slipping the double-bladed staff and its holding strap across his back. He didn't trust Exephos to not have brought some kind of saber-proof armor with him. Durasteel might help. "Disappearing into the mountains. I'll find him."

"Bren," Orans said, taking a cautioning tone as he stayed near his side. "We don't seek revenge. I'll come with you."

Bren frowned. "No. If I'm right, he kills Force-users, and he brags about it. I'm the only one here of fighting age. You guard the younglings, learners, keep them safe."

"Bren..."

"I'll be fine. I need to move before I lose him."

"Bren. Wait." It was sharper this time, more like an order. Bren was already moving.

"I'll be back. Wait for my signal, and come pick us up."

He heard Orans muttering swears as he left, likely something about him being foolhardy and stubborn. He was too busy running to pay it attention. Wall was the quickest way out. He practically flew up the stairs, then jumped down from the wall, landing gracefully in the steep slope beyond with the aid of the Force. As soon as his boots hit the earth, he knew what he was doing was stupid, and reckless, and probably motivated by anger. That didn't mean it wasn't necessary. If he had brought a monster to Tira'Noth...

Bren gathered his courage, and his calm, as he ran after the receding feeling of darkness and malintent. He needed to be focused, keep his head securely on his shoulders. This was almost certainly a trap, aimed at him. But if Jedi training had taught him anything, it was that knowing that could help turn it on its maker. He just prayed that would be enough.
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Kremon

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #4 on: 12/30/16, 06:33:12 PM »
As Exephos hustled across the terrain, his comms crackled up in his ear:
"You've got a Jedi pursuing you from a way's off, sir. Looks like our target." The soldier on the rooftop reported in.
"That was quick." Exephos growled back, slightly surprised that he was being pursued so soon. He didn't know that the Jedi would be so reckless in pursuit.
No matter, this could be taken advantage of.
He came up to his speederbike, camouflaged in a band of trees, and quickly clambered aboard before priming up the engine with a low whine.
Before he kicked off, he called in with his team at the caves:
"Are we ready to go?"
"Mines set and armed, grenades primed, and flamethrowers ready to deploy." Yevan reported back quietly.
"Good. When the Jedi enters, move directly to attack. He'll know of your presence through the Force so don't expect to have the element of surprise. Focus primarily on keeping him off balance; don't over extend yourselves. Work as a team, use the traps, and don't over think it. We have killed Force-users before, they're far from immortal." Exephos instructed before kicking the engine into life and hurtling faster across the terrain towards the cave system.
He was very specific about his speed however; he went just slow enough to be what he thought was in range for the Jedi; but just far away enough that he was out of sight.
All to lead him towards the ambush.
Though it wasn't exactly an ambush, seeing that the Jedi would sense them long before he entered, his precognitive abilities may even let him sense that it was a trap before he even came close; but he would come regardless, Exephos was certain of it.
If he wanted an end to the terrors and the stalkings, he would come.
And when he did, he would be captured. One way in and out, and impossible to smash or carve one's way in with the solid rock extending meters in all directions.
But even if the Jedi didn't come this time, Exephos had other ways to attract him. Either he'd continue to destroy everything that the Jedi held dear until he arrived, or he would attract him with a hostage.
Perhaps one of his students, Jheva, he believed her name was.
Of course, failing that, Exephos had extensive resources at his disposal. Maybe a chemical missile would land in the town, or possibly the Enclave building would fall victim to a serious error in coordinates for artillery training.
Oh yes, that Jedi would be his, one way or another and if he kept pursuing; he'd be his sooner rather than later.
It didn't take him long to arrive outside the cave and once he did, he got of his speeder and rushed inside.
His soldiers nodded at him as he entered, before activating the stun mines, leaving them active.
Exephos brought around the force pike that had been slung across his shoulder and held it at the ready while two more of the sabercats were getting the nerve gas and sonic grenades ready.
They were ready for him.
Just time to see if he showed up.
Exephos; a haunted war-ravaged veteran.
Shad'ra; an indecisive ex-mandalorian.
Gharzog; a happy-go-lucky gun for hire.

Offline Noth

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #5 on: 12/31/16, 06:40:40 AM »
Fortunately for Exephos, Bren had no intention of slowing down, or waiting. He had a feeling if he didn't find Exephos now, the man would disappear--as if this was only about the murder, and not the Jedi himself, but that thought didn't cross his mind just yet. Bren wanted to end the violence before it got any worse.

Exephos may have prepared in excess, but Bren knew this territory. He had spent a good eight or ten years, almost, running and climbing and navigating in the wilds near Tira'Noth as part of his training... and more than that, just to explore. He knew most of the caves and animal dens in the area, places there were trees, places that would make a good ambush point. The only problem was, there were too many of them. While he could feel Exephos pulling away, it was also hard to tell just yet where the trail led.

This is absolutely a trap, he thought grimly, vaulting over one of the boulders in his path. He could almost see the distant flare of a speeder jet in the distance as it disappeared regularly around mountain outcrops, and knew he would be getting to their destination far behind the Colonel. He just hoped his advantage of being on home ground would be enough to even those odds.

Don't think about that, he reminded himself. Run. Calm. Use your head. Banish fear.

He sensed the Colonel stop, the terrible feeling cease fleeing into the distance. He slowed to a careful pace, watchful for any signs of danger or attack. It being a question of when and not if did not make staying focused any easier, but he steeled himself with a thought: You are a Jedi Knight of Tira'Noth. He had to live up to who he was. And that meant not walking in fear on his own home territory.

He reached the mines without tripping them, staying a distance from them, a sharp sense of halt! warning him back. He took his saber off his belt, in case there were blasters trained on him, and peered into the landscape--which in the planet's constant twilight only blended objects one into the other with reddish stone and darkish trees and darker shadows.

"Don't suppose you'll come quietly for murder?" Bren called out, igniting one end of his saberstaff.

He could feel now that there were multiple living presences around him. He found himself muttering swears in his head, just like Orans. It was too late to realize that only now. He was going to get an earful when he got back, if he got back.
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Kremon

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #6 on: 12/31/16, 07:14:11 AM »

Exephos waited, and watched, seemingly in darkness.
However; his helmet and the helmets of his soldiers all came equipped with infared so he was able to watch the cave entrance with perfect clarity, or as well as clarity could be when everything was in shades of black and white.
So he was able to watch the Jedi emerge around the corner; but he gave him the benefit of the doubt.
"Don't suppose you'll come quietly for murder?" Bren's voice called, before the glow of a lightsaber filled the cavern.
Exephos didn't waste time bandying words. When force-users were involved, that kind of thing could get you killed, or give them the advantage of readying themselves for the upcoming battle.
Instead, he turned towards his troopers and barked out an order:
"Take him!"
At his command, two troopers emerged from behind the Jedi out of hidden alcoves they'd carved all day, carrying large burly flamethrowers.
They let loose with them with first a hiss then a roar, blocking off the entrance with a wall of fire.
At the same time, three more of his troopers threw sonic and gas grenades forwards into the midst of the minefield.
Just in front of them, the remainder of his troops excluding the sniper still hiding out back in the town held a loose perimeter, their four force pikes braced before them.
Exephos only chuckled.
The Jedi were far too confident for their own good.
Exephos; a haunted war-ravaged veteran.
Shad'ra; an indecisive ex-mandalorian.
Gharzog; a happy-go-lucky gun for hire.

Offline Noth

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #7 on: 12/31/16, 08:04:40 AM »
Bren already had a good idea where the flamethrower-wielding soldiers were. He'd sensed them when he entered the cavern, but not until he was already inside. He let out a blast of air, aimed at the one closest to him, in case the fire went his way. It didn't. Instead, he found himself blocked behind a wall of flames. He grimaced and stepped back from it. He could leap through, if he needed to. His robes might catch, but synthweave was usually pretty tough... The real threat came not from the cave entrance, but from further inside.

Explosions popped behind him, and he ignited the other side of the saber, looking for the danger. In the span of a few seconds, two things happened:

Bren heard the faint hiss and caught the scent of gas, poison if he had to guess. He fumbled with the rebreather pouch on his belt, put the object over his mouth and nose, before it could fill the cavern. He quietly thanked the Force that earlier that week he and Jheva had gone over the contents of a Jedi utility belt; it meant the clasp was loose and easy to get to.

He was less prepared for the second explosion. Distracted by the rebreather, he caught the blast of the sonic grenade, almost losing the breather as he staggered--

Straight into one of the mines. It burst in a flare of light, leaving him temporarily blinded and reeling. He closed his eyes, reaching out with the Force to sense and hear the other beings in the cavern. As he did, he held his lightsaber in a ready stance, prepared to fight. His ears caught the odd electric whirring of some kind of weapon, though it was hard to distinguish without his sight.

He had to hand it to Exephos, the man came prepared. Overprepared, maybe. He had no idea what part the other soldiers played in this, but he didn't want to hurt them. He just wanted to drag Exephos back to Tira'Noth in binders, let the Clan Council and what was left of Republic law deal with him.
« Last Edit: 12/31/16, 08:07:48 AM by Noth »
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Kremon

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #8 on: 12/31/16, 08:27:34 AM »

Exephos nodded to himself. The Jedi came prepared with a rebreather mask, to be expected really, but that's why he had plenty of tools to choose from, and experienced soldiers to use them. Furthermore, it seemed that he'd succeeded in throwing the Jedi off balance. Time to blind and deafen him.
"Stun grenades!" Exephos commanded, causing the three grenade-throwers to grab the shiny spheres and hurl them towards the Jedi, exploding into intensely painful bright lights, and tremendously deafening bangs. Their helmets protected them from the effects, and he imagined the force would give similar defense, but it must surely be very distracting for the Jedi.
"Flamethrowers, advance three paces!" He further instructed, causing the two troopers at the entrance to slowly advance; the hope being to slowly force him out onto the minefield.
Meanwhile, the four sabercats at the front advanced warily a few steps; right to the edge of the minefield, the side opposite the Jedi's.
Exephos wasn't standing idle, he readied his own phrik force pike and joined the battle line.
He was ready for him, lest he leap over the mines towards him and his troops.
Exephos; a haunted war-ravaged veteran.
Shad'ra; an indecisive ex-mandalorian.
Gharzog; a happy-go-lucky gun for hire.

Offline Noth

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #9 on: 12/31/16, 09:59:09 AM »
The stun grenades exploded in a barrage of light and sound, like something much larger had exploded in the cave with them. Just as he was recovering from the first mine. Bren shut his eyes again, focusing through the painful sensations.

Quiet.

He moved quickly, maneuvering into an open area of the cavern. The sounds from the grenades reverberated off the stone, cacophonous, but he could filter out the sound if he focused on small things. The sound of the rebreather recycling his breaths, the scratch of his footsteps against the stone.

Peace.

He opened his eyes, blinking at the new array of lights and color in the dark cave. At least he could now see everything. With the stun grenades spent, his eyes could adapt to the low-light environment--perfect for the Zabrak, adapted for the tidally locked world, although he figured that the helmets the troopers wore would even any advantage that gave. The advancing flamethrowers posed a problem. His robes would resist a quick exposure to fire. He doubted that being in the direct path of two gouts of the element would be so easy.

Glancing to the side, he recognized the Colonel's painted armor and saw Exephos's line of troopers with force pikes. They looked friendly. He could now see the faint lumps on the ground that indicated the mines he'd stumbled into earlier, and had an idea where they were trying to funnel him.

Two choices: Run past the flamethrowers, escape the cave... or engage Exephos's men. The smart choice was to run, of course, retreat, wait for aid from the city or other Jedi. But that left the fact that all the threats the man laid out were clearly aimed at Bren. He doubted whatever this was would end if he just slipped out of his grasp; after all, why leave the exit easier to get to than further into the cave? But if he engaged him, kept his attention, maybe that would spare more people back at the settlement who might get in the Colonel's path.

He had a feeling he wasn't going to be arresting anyone today. But maybe he could buy some time for the Enclave to get a group or investigation together without getting anyone else hurt.

He took the stupid, obvious, path, and leaped over the mines towards the pike-wielders. Time to give Exephos what he wanted, at least for a little while.
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Niarra

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #10 on: 12/31/16, 03:39:19 PM »
A short time before, back at the Tira'Noth enclave...

Jheva sat in one of the reading chairs in the archive, the one she'd picked as her favorite weeks ago when she'd first started sneaking into the archive during sleep shift, chosen because it was tucked away between two of the larger databanks and impossible to see from either entrance door. Caution, secrecy, quiet - old habits that she feared would never leave her, no matter how much anyone tried to assure her that she was safe, and they were no longer needed.

She had her feet tucked under her, her boots properly removed and set aside, propped neat and even by the chair leg. It didn't matter if her goal was to remain unseen; that didn't excuse disgraceful, untidy behavior. And it didn't matter that she knew such compulsions toward propriety were only drilled into her because Lord Vilisar had done so through promise of pain, just like it didn't matter that she only knew how to tend the enclave gardens so well because she'd spent her whole life working in his fields so that he could be reminded daily of the victory he'd won over her disgraced family; no matter the source or history of such things, if they helped her now to build a new life, a better one, then at least that meant she had actually purchased something of worth with the currency of old hopelessness.

Shaking her head a little, as if the physical motion might help dispel memory's ghosts, Jheva tapped the command into the datapad in her hands to jump to a later chapter in the treatise she was reading on Iridonian history. She was finding this volume a bit challenging for her reading comprehension; either the author or the person who had translated the work into Basic had a fondness for large words and florid sentence structure that often left her confused, and the hurt that confusion did to her pride might have compelled her to give the volume up if she hadn't been so determined to take advantage of Tira'Noth's open archive for as long as she could. Despite Bren's assurances to the contrary she couldn't shake the small fear that failure in her training might result in her privileges of archive access being revoked, and she wanted to get as much reading in as possible before that happened.

Somewhere to her left, near the archive's west entrance, she could hear faint clicks and beeps as Tar Va worked at his terminal. She thought he might be cataloguing, but she wasn't sure. She never asked; that would have been too forward. He knew she was here, of course. Somehow he always did, even if she was certain she'd snuck in unseen and had been alone for hours. Eventually he would walk in, straight up to her, looking totally unsurprised, and often with new reading selections already picked out for her. It was the Force that told him, probably. Or maybe prior experience. He had made a comment once that implied he might have had other students who liked to use the archive as their refuge, but Jheva had never pried.

She adjusted her left foot, slowly going numb under her weight, into a more comfortable position, and tried for the second time to make sense of the convoluted introduction paragraph to the chapter on clan nobility traditions. She was beginning to get a strange headache too, that wasn't making concentration any easier - an odd pressure, faintly throbbing, that felt like it was originating somewhere deep inside her skull. Maybe just another side-effect of Iridonia's particularly arid climate, to which she was still growing accustomed.

Another soft beep, different in tone from the others, drifted to her from Tar Va's direction. A moment later when she heard his muted voice respond, she guessed it must have been his commlink. The tinny words of the person on the other end were even fainter and impossible to make out, but whatever they said must have been important, because the sound of Tar Va's chair being pushed hastily back clattered down the archive corridor, and his running footsteps followed.

Jheva froze. She held very still, a sudden spike of strange fear causing the throbbing in her head to worsen. Slowly, very quietly, she lowered her feet to the floor, set aside the datapad, and leaned out from her reading nook to look toward Tar Va's terminal. He was gone. A second later, the faint woosh of the archive door closing behind his exit reached her, carrying with it a gust of warm, dry air that eddied down the corridor.

Jheva frowned. It was rare to see anyone move with haste in Tira'Noth. Master Orans and Tar Va were elderly, of course, but it was more than that. Even the children, for all their zipping about, seemed in no hurry to get anywhere in particular, or to complete the tasks they were given quickly. There was a meditative quality to almost everything that happened in the enclave, as though everyone agreed that it would be all right if they took half a day to complete something that should rightly only have taken one hour, provided satisfaction was derived from reflecting on the activity properly. She still wasn't used to it.

She retreated back to her chair and sat down again, turning her gaze to the datapad in her lap. The words wouldn't focus.

Something was wrong.

But it wasn't her place to meddle.

She tried to resume her reading, and failed. The headache seemed to increase in pressure. She put her fingertips to her forehead, pressing the cool metal of her circlet into her skin in an effort to soothe the pain. Usually the fierce satisfaction she felt whenever she reminded herself of the circlet's presence - lost artifact of her family, stolen from Lord Vilisar's manor on the day she and Jhelaan had run away - was enough to focus her concentration, to reel in unruly thoughts and bring her back to the core of herself and the reality of her present, improved circumstances. But now, it wasn't enough. The headache persisted, and she continued to feel uneasy.

Bren's words from their lesson a week ago suddenly came back to her. He had told her to trust her first instincts, to believe that these were a sign from the Force, even if she couldn't consciously recognize the Force's influence yet.

And her instincts told her something was wrong. Something that caused pain.

She wanted to talk to Bren.

Jheva dutifully turned off the datapad and returned it to its slot in the databank before slipping back into her boots. She adjusted her utility belt so that the pouches rested more comfortably on her hip; she was still getting accustomed to its weight, but didn't want to be parted from it even in something so mundane as reading. It was a Jedi tool, Bren had taught her. She wasn't a Jedi yet, but if she hoped to be someday then she wanted to make the tools familiar.

She left the archive and paused outside, squinting into a momentarily strong burst of wind that carried with it the usual grating mist of disturbed sand. She couldn't see any sign of Tar Va, nor was there any indication in the activity of the few people she could see that something might be wrong. But she was going to trust her instincts, as Bren had taught her.

A Jedi would have been able to follow Tar Va using the Force, but she knew that was an ability still far beyond her. She clenched her jaw, mustering her determination, and looked instead downward, to the reddish dirt. She had been going out with the hunting parties now for more than a month, and though she had not yet been assigned a killing blow she had helped to prepare the carcasses - and she had paid close attention to the lessons in tracking. She looked now for some sign of Tar Va's footsteps, and eventually found them; his boot prints were deep and widely spaced, indicating that he'd probably been running. And no one ran anywhere in Tira'Noth. That wouldn't have been meditative enough.

Jheva frowned and began to follow his tracks. When they reached the stone stairs, at first the faint residue of sand shaken from his boot treads left an outline she could follow, but those soon faded and she came to a halt at the top of the flight, unsure of where to go, and questioning her decision to follow him at all. It wasn't her business. It wasn't her place to meddle.

Then she began to smell smoke. Not the faintly incense-tinged smoke of the enclave's memorial flame, or the distinctly sharp tang of the torches burning local Iridonian wood. No, this was something different... more acrid. Her headache throbbed in response. Following her nose, she made her way deeper into the compound, and as she realized she was heading toward Bren's quarters a sense of deeper unease began to grow.

She didn't consciously realize she'd increased her pace to an anxious trot until she came around the corner and was forced to an awkward stop when confronted by the sight of Master Orans levitating in her direction what appeared to be a humanoid body under a draped robe. When he saw her, rather than ask her to move aside he instead solemnly lowered the the body to the ground, and beckoned her forward.

Jheva did not hesitate. One didn't hesitate to obey. She stepped carefully around the body and approached Master Orans. She hadn't intended to say anything, was thinking to wait for the instruction she expected was coming, and so part of her was surprised to hear herself speak.

"It's not Bren," she blurted out. Not a question. She just knew. 

Master Orans laid his flesh hand on her shoulder, making a vague sign with his cybernetic one in the direction of the body, a gesture which had the air of ritual about it.

"It is not," he said, his fingers applying gentle, comforting pressure to her shoulder. "Our companion Jeth has returned to the Force."

"Jeth," she echoed, frowning. Jeth. Who had been so upset lately. Bren had told her he was hunting vandals. That had seemed too mundane a reason, to Jheva, but she hadn't questioned.

Maybe she should have, because now he was dead.

"What happened?" she asked, and even to her own ears her question was too blunt, too cold and without compassion for Jeth's sad fate. She knew it was wrong to be so distant. Or at least, she thought it might be. The Jedi taught compassion, but they also taught emotional distance. It could be confusing. And distance was so much easier.

There was a pause before Master Orans answered. He looked preoccupied, concerned by something other than the obvious body at their feet. His gaze turned to the wall that separated this area of the compound from the outside desert, and he sighed.

"Bren believes he knows who took Jeth's life. He has gone in pursuit."

"But you don't know?" Jheva pressed.

Master Orans sighed again. "Bren was... hasty in his departure. He didn't give me a name. But he seems to believe this person has experience hunting Force-sensitives. That is troubling."

"Is it a Sith?" Jheva asked, though as soon as the words left her mouth she felt ashamed of them. She was just giving voice to her fears. The Sith had ruled everything about her life, been the reason for her servitude, been the promise of a dark fate that had finally prompted her and her sister to risk running away. But she couldn't let that fear rule her forever. There was no reason there'd be Sith on Iridonia... was there? Surely Tira'Noth was too small an enclave to merit their attention, when so many other things in the galaxy were a greater threat to the Empire.

"I don't think so," Orans said slowly. "I like to think I'm not so old and out of practice yet that I wouldn't be able to sense a Sith in our midst."

"Who went with him?"

Master Orans grimaced, and muttered something very quiet under his breath in Zabraki that Jheva didn't understand, though she was reminded of Bren telling her that Master Orans could swear like a soldier when the mood took him. But when he replied to her, his voice was calm, though somewhat wry in its tone. "He went alone, and rather hastily I'm afraid. He pointed out that he's the only one here of fighting age... I would like to deny it, but I cannot refute reality," he concluded heavily, looking down to his upturned cybernetic palm and closing the artificial fingers slowly.

"He's not," Jheva said.

Master Orans looked to her. His expression grew somber. "Calm, vyshtal," he cautioned her, closing his hand more firmly around her shoulder. "Patience and calm. We all wish to help, but we cannot be hasty. Bren should not have been so hasty. Tar Va has gone to defend the younger learners, and I will take Jeth's body to the clan authorities. I will do what I can to put a search party together from the militia, to go after Bren and assist him. You might help Tar Va to soothe the younglings' fears."

Jheva stared at him, trying to keep her expression from betraying her thoughts, because she was very certain he would not approve, and she had long since learned that silent and hidden rebellion was more effective than outright defiance; less chance of punishment. She didn't want to be punished... she didn't want to disappoint or defy anyone in Tira'Noth... but...

But he's not the only one here of fighting age.

And Orans had said that she might help Tar Va. It had not been a direct order. Was that deliberate? Was her hoping that he'd left her that opening of interpretation just self-delusion? She couldn't tell. His gaze on her, somber and thoughtful and touched with sadness, revealed nothing of his intentions.

After a moment, Master Orans dropped his hand from her shoulder and turned back to Jeth's body. "I must go. Do not be hasty, Jheva. Trust in Bren, and in the Force."

With a graceful gesture Master Orans lifted Jeth's body into the air again, and guided it in respectful silence around the corner and out of Jheva's sight. She was left with only the pool of blood before Bren's quarters, and the smell of smoke drifting to her from the open door.

She looked to the wall. Master Orans' attention there seemed to imply Bren had gone over it. That meant he might have left a trail there, on the other side, that could be followed.

She thought of going to the hunters, who would have more experience with tracking, and with violence - but then she remembered they were gone. They had left earlier in the day on a long journey to follow up on rumors of a wild bruth herd nearby, with an eye to acquiring new breeding stock. They might not be back until tomorrow, or even many days. Wild bruth were dangerous to capture, and difficult to tame.

How long would it take for a militia team to assemble? And would they be of any use, against someone whom Bren believed had experience hunting Force-users?

Jheva turned and began to run. She rounded the familiar corners and vaulted the familiar obstacles of the compound at speed. Familiar to her, now. Familiar and comforting. The promise of a home. Of a place she could belong. A place where no one had judged her for her red Pureblood skin, and everyone had promised that they would help her to use the Force, no matter how difficult she found it, no matter how much she despaired of succeeding. Where they'd told her that her ability to touch the Force was a gift, and not a curse - not something that guaranteed her a grim fate on Korriban, or merely a continuance of the legacy that had become her family's as a consequence of a Force-user who had not been strong enough.

And now someone had invaded this place. They'd killed Jeth, who had been kind to her. And Bren was going after them alone.

She wasn't a Jedi. She wasn't even a Padawan. But Bren had told her that a student's job was to help their teacher, as much as it was the teacher's job to help their student. Bren might not be her master, but he was her teacher. And she might not be a warrior, but she was of fighting age, and at the very least... at the very least she could try to track him, to see where he'd gone, and then come back and report that to Master Orans so that the militia team would know where to go and not waste any time getting there.

She made it all the way to the quarters she shared with some of the teenagers from the enclave's small group of learners without being stopped by anyone, and was relieved to find the room empty as well. It was awkward just trying to share the space with the students so much younger than she, no matter that they were generally well behaved and granted her privacy as their elder, and she didn't trust herself to come up with any excuse that might deflect their questions should they think to ask why she was feverishly checking all the pouches on her utility belt and fitting the carry harness for her zhaboka over her chest.

Check done, and weapon in place on her back, Jheva left the dormitory and made her way back to Bren's quarters, but this time more slowly, trying not to be noticed. There were more signs of activity now - the occasional knot of people clustered together in anxious murmurings, and two militiamen passing by at a jog. Though some glanced her way, no one questioned her presence or seemed concerned about her destination. They knew her now, trusted that she belonged. And the only way she knew how to repay that, how to earn her place, was to do something to help.

Jheva reached Bren's quarters and allowed herself one moment to stare at the pool of Jeth's blood again. Her training, limited though it was, told her that she ought to center herself in the Force, to be sure that she wasn't doing this out of a sense of revenge for Jeth's murder. But even now, the Force didn't seem to want to speak to her. Or if it was, she still didn't know how to listen. So maybe the best she could do was try to be certain of her own motivations, as Bren so often told her. Was she doing this to avenge Jeth?

She took a deep breath, smelled the red earth, the red blood, the dark smoke. She thought of the shape Jeth's body had made under Master Orans' robe. She thought of Bren running across the desert in pursuit of danger.

No, she wasn't doing this to avenge Jeth. She was doing this to help Bren.

Nodding to herself, satisfied that this was the best justification she had for her actions, sufficient or not, she turned to the wall. It was high. Too high. She couldn't use the Force to leap it. She didn't know how.

But she had a utility belt, now. The tools of the Jedi, Bren had told her. And among them was a fibercord with grapple hook, which she pulled into her hands now. It took two tries to get it firmly locked on the top of the wall, but once it was she wasted no time pulling herself up, glad for the strength that fifteen years of working in the fields had given to her arms. The drop down to the desert floor on the other side was a large one, and she gathered up the fibercord from her climb and spooled it down the other side of the wall, using it to make a safe descent.

Bren's tracks were easy to find. Though the ever present winds had already begun to fill them with sand, Bren was a large man and his weight had left deep boot imprints, made a little more solid by the damp in the lower layers of sand after the rain two days ago. Jheva only hoped that the trail would remain this clear as she followed, because she knew she was only an amateur hunter at best. It would have to be enough.

And maybe if Bren was right, and the Force had a will, it might will her to find him. She didn't really believe that, but today she would be happy to be proven wrong.

Jheva put her fingertips to her circlet, closing her eyes for a moment to focus on the feel of the metal on her skin. After a lifetime of servitude and fear, she and Jhelaan had been brave enough and strong enough to successfully escape Lord Vilisar's territory. They'd taken back their lives, and a single piece of gold ornamentation so that he'd know they'd taken a piece of their pride with them. If they could do that, then she could find Bren.

Opening her eyes, relieved to find that her headache had vanished, Jheva shifted her hand to clutch for one moment at the zhaboka strap across her chest and murmured in Zabraki, "Ush tuha meni natel sharee." May the Force be with you. For Bren. Because even if it wasn't with her, this was still something she had to do.

She set off into the desert, following after her teacher.
« Last Edit: 12/31/16, 05:36:51 PM by Niarra »
Niarra Reymark, Jedi Master and Diplomat // Derrad Reymark, Starfighter Ace and Softie // Jheva, Padawan and Pattern Reader // Yatei, Jedi Knight // Zelek Arr, Corn Grower
Sivala, Sith Academy Overseer // Rannayel, Sith Lord and Museum Curator
Erran Veshkgalaar, Mandalorian Accountant // Caustrin Neyvor, Dangerous Puppeteer // Ariza Fey, Psycho and Pyro // Kettur Vaen, Semi-Spook

Offline Kremon

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #11 on: 12/31/16, 06:08:56 PM »

Exephos watched as the Jedi seemed to consider his options, but more importantly, he saw as he looked around himself without disorientation. That wasn't good; it was time to end this.
The Jedi seemed to do just that as he leaped over the minefields towards he and his troops.
"Now!" Exephos shouted to the three grenade-throwing troopers that had been standing by.
They whipped up launchers that were previously out sight and fired the three electroshock nets towards the Jedi in a wide cone, designed to stun on impact.
At the same time, one of the soldiers with a force pike disable the minefield with the touch of a button on a forearm.
Just before the four saber-cats charged forwards and lanced at the Jedi with their pikes set to non-lethal stuns.
Exephos strode imperiously forwards, pike held out before him, ready should the Jedi try to leap behind his troops.
They had the Jedi now.
There was no escape for Bren, of the Clan Noth.
Exephos; a haunted war-ravaged veteran.
Shad'ra; an indecisive ex-mandalorian.
Gharzog; a happy-go-lucky gun for hire.

Offline Noth

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #12 on: 12/31/16, 06:39:48 PM »
Bren's eyes widened as the nets shot towards him. A slash of his saber cut through one, safely breaking the netting and tossing it aside. He was not quite so fast with the other two. First one, then the other, hit him, causing him to fall with a muffled yelp as he became tangled in the charged cords. He landed on a mine, safely, but didn't have time to process what that meant as the electricity from the nets coursed through his body.

He knew how to ground against electricity, with the Force. He'd learned how to do it while fighting half-mad (or completely mad) Sith during expeditions in the war. But this was not a single lightning bolt shooting at him from a hand that coalesced Dark Side energy around it. This was everywhere, all around him, with nothing solid to even touch. He twitched and tried not to make any sounds, lest he drop the rebreather, as he cut through the cords with his saberstaff, finally disentangling from the nets.

He felt like someone had run over him with a pack of herd animals. Or a walker. But the pike-wielders were on top of him already, and he couldn't afford to stop and account for any injuries, even though his posture hunched and his breathing grew more ragged.

Bren had often questioned his choice of Form I as a combat focus. It was probably the least refined of the saber forms, even if it preceded and filled in the gaps of every other form. He appreciated its simplicity, the meditative nature, and the history behind it. Right now, he also appreciated that one of the archaic form's strengths was multiple opponents with equally archaic-styled weapons. With a wide, single slash, he caught all four of the pikes at once, and spun the weapon around to try to wrench them out of his opponents' hands.
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Kremon

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #13 on: 12/31/16, 06:59:27 PM »

The sabercats, experienced in the bladework of a lightsaber, wrenched their pikes backwards and away from the blade, before spinning them in their hands and striking forwards like the heads of serpents towards any possible opening in the Jedi's Form I defense even as they slowly encircled him until there was one on every side.
It would only require one solid strike to the Jedi, and the concentrated nerve impulse from the weapons would render the victim unconscious.
Exephos circled around the battle line, looking for an opening with which to deliver a strike, trusting in the thick clouds of gas to obscure his exact movements.
There, it looked like an opening in the vicious melee, causing Exephos to rush forwards and stab towards the Jedi with the blunt-tipped pike; hoping to catch him in the shoulder with the dangerous neural weapon.
Should it connect, Exephos would have his Jedi.
In chains.
Exephos; a haunted war-ravaged veteran.
Shad'ra; an indecisive ex-mandalorian.
Gharzog; a happy-go-lucky gun for hire.

Offline Noth

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Re: A Threat Fulfilled
« Reply #14 on: 12/31/16, 11:14:49 PM »
The sabercats might have had experience fighting Force-users, but Bren was relying on the Force and decades of muscle memory that was now natural to him, one other advantage of using the elementary form. The new direction of the saberpikes was not ideal, but the 'clumsy', random movements of Shii-Cho were able to handle them with enough competence that the Jedi could keep a safe distance between the dull points and himself. The problem was the gas. He couldn't see, and focusing on the fight meant that he could focus less on what ws around him.

He never was very good at that... keeping track of many things at once. Not in sparring, and now, not in an actually dangerous situation. He pushed back the fears that the thought brought up. Those weren't needed now. He needed to focus, move deeper into the meditation, let the Force guide his bladework--

Not good enough. His thoughts were distractions. The chaotic environment was in itself a distraction. It was only a matter of time before gave Exephos the opening he needed.

He whirled and parried an instant too late. The tip of the force pike jabbed his shoulder, and another strong current bolted through the Jedi's body. The world grew dimmer very, very quickly, and his saber fell from his hands. He held on long enough to fall to a knee and lose his rebreather. One inhale, and toxic gas felt like it was burning his throat, mouth... The word was spinning...

Bren coughed a few times, each inhale worse than the last, reaching for his saber. He hoped that he could purge the toxin somehow, gather the Force within him. Another jab with a pike, though, and the Jedi collapsed, out cold.
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)