Hello peoples. I have recently gotten a promotion at my place of work and so have had less time to write. This hopefully will be temporary as I settle into the new position.
Along with the Governor, was the usual people that were in the know along with Mother Talzin. The Great Mother of the Dathomirain population on Terra had been staying at the castle for a month now given her active role in shaping events to come. Excluding the current topic at hand, they had many times discussed the coming civil war. Sides were easily formed and all but the King himself knew that it was coming. The Mad King still ranted and raved about traitors but knew none of the true suspects. The Prince on the other hand had dispatched men led by two Kingsguards to abduct Lyanna Stark, the catalyst to spark the war. Nightsisters were staged to ensure it would happen and then to continue to tail her.
The only deviation that had been seen was possibility of the Iron Islands joining Rhaegar's side. The current Lord of Pyke's health was ailing, and his heir had taken much of the running of the islands. Balon hadn't been able to reduce the reforms of his father yet, but the amount of letters being sent between him and Rhaegar were enough to confirm to those in Barad-dûr what was happening. It was going to change little other than possible battle sites. If things were looking like this ripple in fate was to undo the plans of Darth Nagash, it was the job of those still on Terra to right it. But as for now, the internal threat was what had them worried.
"I have looked her over and feel nothing out of the ordinary. The Dark Side is strong in her, and when she came out of the Weirwood she was just as feral as she normally is." Fay explained as she had just finished an extensive examination of the Acolyte. The Maiden was one of things that interested her the most of this world. A One that exemplified the Purity and Chivalry of the Light Side but whose own personality was, in some fashion, manipulative, demanding, and extremely vile. "She clearly is trying to gain some sort of agent among the Acolytes as shown by her actions with Thoren and now Nira. The first failed due to Jadith's interference and possible now Nira was too attuned to the Dark for the Maiden to find her favorable."
"The White Swan has been tainted and is no long as pure as its nature once was." Talzin offered her own view. She had also examined Nira and came away with similar but different conclusions than the former Jedi. "Trapped and drained of power over millennia has not done her mind well. She walked down a path of darkness and earned her imprisonment here but is only further on that path now than when she first arrived."
"I really wish you would just speak normally." Pierce grunted and Rathari nodded along as the two did not like the vague speech of oracles and seers.
"Nevertheless, one of the Acolytes that have shown to need special attention has been touched by a foe capable of mental control. We will continue to watch and obverse her for any deviation." Quinn ordered and got a round of nods from those that cared to acknowledge his authority, those that didn't said nothing out of little care for the matter. A few more smaller matters were discussed before everyone left, though two left together that normally did not. "Do you have something to say captain?"
"We're getting older Quinn." Pierce said as the two old allies and at some points friends walked down the hallway. It had been years since the matter of betrayal and any other contentious point between them had been buried. Now it was just beaten in discipline of their people that kept them from socializing too much. "I'm starting to question if we're ever going to see the Empire that Naraiz promises."
"Could you please be a bit more civil." Quinn complained on the other man's lack of titles and causal speech but understood the point he was making. "I have seen a general timeline of Lord Nagash's plan, we will be in our older years but yes we will see the Empire rise again."
"Working at desk on Dromund Kaas, being some high and mighty lords that decide the fate of billions? Not for me." There was no shame in that in Quinn's mind. A man that knew their best place in the hierarchy was a man worthy of respect. Ambition was good and all but if a man or woman exceled on one rung of the ladder and would do poorer higher than ambition should be sacrificed for efficiency of the greater whole. "It might happen… it might not. I'm good with either."
"Are you questioning the mission captain?" Quinn asked pointedly, there was little doubt in his mind that Pierce would betray their lord but that was not the concern. It was a matter of conviction than loyalty.
"And if I was?" He looked back at Quinn unflinching in his words. "I'm having a kid soon Quinn. I have friends here. There's nothing up there that I have a connection towards any more. This place is where I belong, I'm content to live out my life without every dealing with the galaxy again." The governor stared at his fellow imperial, had he really missed all the signs that Pierce was going native. Or perhaps it was the fact that this world already belonged to Lord Nagash and so Quinn never internally thought such a possibility an issue. Either way, this was a matter that did not truly warrant a discussion.
"Very well." With that he continued walking forward alone.
"This world has changed you too. Your colder. You always had a stick up your ass but now, the only thing you care about is the mission. I get why you and the Maester don't really speak anymore." Pierce gave his little speech and turned back. Quinn had already ignored it, content in his continued denial that anything but the mission was important. It had to be it was all he had left. As Pierce might have been able to find a new home here on Terra, Quinn had always known that his home was far away and had been gone for a long time. Everything not involved with the mission here was just… a distraction.
"Primarch Montross has left the sector and is headed for Umbara. Meanwhile, Lord Curunír has left Helska and is on his way to the rendezvous point." Major Ingall handed me a data-slate containing the current status of the next phase of the Mandalorian operation. Initial contact had been a success with the positive reception of the True Mandalorians and the elimination of the head of the Death Watch. I had little doubt the Death Watch would make some sort of come back but right now they would be in disarray. "Cipher Nine has also reported that his side of the operation of the operation will be completed by the time we reach Kalee."
"Good, let's just hope that everything will go well. That sector of space is highly militarized." History took a different turn for Kalee than it did in canon Star Wars. Thanks to the war like nature of Kaleesh society, they adapted much better to this different version of the Republic. Their world was wealthier and a bastion in that area of space for the Republic. I haven't put too much resources into finding out the current situation of Grievous mostly because we're still roughly thirty years from the Clone Wars era. But I imagine he'll be a bit different.
The shuttle we were on shook a moment as we entered the hanger of the Mandos' ship. Jaster had accepted my offer for a job, he needed funds after his last job didn't go so well. Hehe. All he knew right now was that it was assaulting a vault of an important member of the IGBC who had something valuable to me. Darth Plagueis was holding a key tool to dealing with the Maiden, the Circlet of Saresh. With it I could enter back into the Maiden's domain in the Force, safely this time, and repair the damage I had done to her cage while under her control.
Stealing from a Sith Lord was always a risky venture. However me and Cipher Nine believed that Plagueis was relying on secrecy more than actual firepower for his vault. A vault that lay on the same moon as the myth among the corporations, Sojourn. Thanks to my meta knowledge I knew its sector but not its exact coordinates. That was where the bugged Sith Artifact I had given Calthina came in. In it was a short ranged transmitter, its signal was only strong enough to be picked up at a sector level, but that meant it was too small to be found by inspection. Cipher Nine has now confirmed Sojourn's location.
There had been a debate between the two of us over this matter. The Gathering was an annual collection of the top of the corporate world in the galaxy. Deals and plots made at the Gathering shaped the economy of the galaxy. Less likely to do so as much as it would in canon but these were still insanely wealthy and powerful players. And if the moon it was on was discovered by outsiders than it would end immediately. Not relocate, but end. Cipher Nine wanted to use this event for more clandestine affairs instead of assaulting Hugo Damask's personal vault on the world he owned. I don't think my Chiss friend truly understands the value of the Circlet or the threat the Maiden presents. In the end I'm still in charge and Cipher Nine capitulated with my orders.
"The Mandalorians have been more accommodating than I had expected." The Major mused as the shuttle door hissed and slowly began to open.
"That's because for the past millennia they have been the only major raiding group that haven't been wiped out. Jaster is returning them back to a much better mindset." I gave him and the four guards with us a motion to stay silent. Loose lips sink ships and while we had nothing to hide, I'd rather not offend anyone looking to be offended. Stepping off the landing ramp of our shuttle, the four of us were escorted deeper into the ship while two guards stayed at the ship.
Things were moving in the mandos' ship. And I could sense both an air of excitement and glee at the leader of Death Watch being killed but also a repressed dread. Fighting the Death Watch was righteous and felt good given the easy monsters they were. The New Mandalorians on the other hand were a harder pill to shallow. Yes, they were different and pacifists and the True Mandalorians shunned such ideas but they weren't savages like the Death Watch and they had no desire to kill people that didn't want to fight back.
The doors to the bridge opened to my surprise, I guess Jaster wanted to conduct business here instead of a proper meeting room. I could appreciate that as recently nothing good came from such rooms for me. There were several crew members running around, it was active hive of activity. Most of the dialogue was in Mandalorian, though it was a recent switch likely due to our presence. From the bare little I knew of the language and the context of the times, I could tell they were reorganizing their troops and fleet.
"Rhyhall. What is the job and the payment?" Jaster spoke bluntly as he turned back around to face me and my men. He was tired but still very invigorated by killing Vizsla. But like the others his mind was avoiding a dark corner belonging to the future foe.
"No manners, tsk tsk. If you're going to be a real leader to more than a band of mercs you're going to need them." I scolded like a parent speaking to an angsty teen. Everything stopped. All the crew looked to me; pretty sure it was the real leader bit. Jaster meanwhile took a deep breath and refocused his mind.
"You're right." Now they all looked at him. "If I am going to be Mand'alor, there are things I must be that I am not. A politician is going to have to be one of them." It wasn't a bitter taste in his mouth, it was an eventuality that he wanted to avoid but accepted. Yes, Jaster would be a great leader of his people once he adjusted from being just a warrior. That got him respect of his men, but in order to give his people a future he needed to be more. Smarter and far more cunning. Or… at the very least… have a good ally that could be that.
"I'm afraid you lack the needed requirements for that Mand'alor, for one you have a spine." That got a few chuckles and a slightly crack of a smirk form Jaster. I'll do it damnit, I'm funny. "Anyway, to answer you question it is a simple job made complicated by its difficulty. I gave you a simplified idea previous but now we can go over it a bit more. Major?"
"Yes sir." Out came a holo-projector and the image of the moon of Sojourn appeared, on it was a marked location at its southern pole.
"This is the mythical Hunter's Moon, Sojourn. On it holds lavish palaces and resorts for the shadow elite of the galactic corporations and Republic's most corrupt. We care about none of it. Down here is a compound that even they don't know about. In it holds valuable artifacts from across the eras of the galaxy, among them is an object I need." I'm sure that there were other goodies in that vault but for us, the Circlet was our goal. If we happened upon other treasures, none could be taken. Anything that could possible trace this attack back on to the Mandalorians would be a disaster. "I'm going to make this very clear Mand'alor, our target is the only thing we will be taking. I know I can trust you to be a professional and keep that rule?"
"Of course." He nodded and I sense nothing but truth in that.
"Good. Unfortunately due to the nature of the mission and whom we are stealing from, you're going to have to go in without any of your armor. Can't have a powerful Magister of the IGBC on you." I felt some uncomfortableness from Jaster but he nodded in agreement. I discussed with him about providing suitable gear for his men and himself for the mission. It would be three seven-man squads, each led by himself, Jango, and the woman who supported me earlier. She was an unknown to me, one Khe Strost. But she was one of his super-commandos so I expect her to be good. "Two of my own will be joining us, them and myself will be with you Mand'alor. A second team will infiltrate along with us and split off as to hopefully confuse they of our target. The third will remain outside the compound and keep any reinforcements from interfering with us."
"A good plan, Jango will lead the other squad while Khe will keep the outer defenses secure." I was a little worried about Jango leading a team, he was still rather young and unbloodied but I knew his potential so I let it slide. Other than that we continued to discuss the planning of the mission, leaving the matter of payment to the end. "This operation is risky and if done wrong could cause long term damage to both our causes. What's the pay?"
"Credits to be sure. But also internal data on the New Mandalorians. Military strength, leaders, secrets and the big one." I held out a hand back to the Major and he gave me a data-stick that I could dangle in front of Jaster. "The passcode ciphers to the orbital defense platforms."
"H-how did you get those?" He was in shock and it was as I expected. I clenched my fist around the data-stick and keep it close to my chest. Cipher Nine was the best in the business and ever since the exposure incident has been able to play with the numerous Blue-Sky cells that have formed. A quick show of proof that it was us that pulled it off and rebel and terrorist cells across the Republic did anything we asked of them. Including a few that had members that worked for the companies that made the orbital defense stations.
"Doesn't matter. What does is that they work, and they do." This was all going to plan, soon I would have the Circlet and will have given Plagueis a nice big middle finger at the same time. I hope everything back on Terra is going just as smoothly.
"Ned! Where are ya, I'm pissed off and want to go hunting!" Robert shouted as he searched the Eire for his best friend and fellow ward of House Arryn. Him being angry was a natural state in recent times. Anyone would be when they had to watch a prince of the realm declare his love for the woman he actually did love. Just the memory of that day made his blood boil. But what mad him truly angry was how Lyanna took it.
It wasn't her fault and it should have never happened to her. But the prince just for whatever twisted reason decided to throw her life in chaos. Robert had spent hours assuring Lyanna that he didn't think anything was happening between her and the prince and that it was just the dragon's madness showing itself. He knew it was true, that the son was just as mad as the father. But just because he knew it to be true didn't mean rumors wouldn't spread. Now always following Lyanna wherever she went.
The Lord of Storm's End had written to his brother and all of his vassals to start preparing for something big. He never used the word war or anything so damning but it was clear of his intent given the context. The old man of the Eirie had made sure that Robert had some sense to him of the Game of Thrones. He hated it, the scheming and backstabbing but now it was necessary to protect and keep safe the woman he loved. Now he was just sitting on his ass waiting for replies. And what better thing to do while waiting then to kill something. Perhaps he'd get lucky and find a bour that reminded him of that pompous prince.
"Ned! Ned! Where in the seven hells are ya." Grumbling as slammed open a door only to find the room empty. The Eirie was big place and Ned had gotten really good at hiding when he wanted to be left alone. But Robert had also gotten very good at finding his gloomy friend when it was best for him to get outside once and while. But to Robert's surprise, Eddard ended up being in the last place he expected his room. "Ned! What are you doing here when there's boar to kill!"
"Robert! Do you ever knock?!" Eddard shouted as he quickly attempted to hide something he had been working on in his desk. But the boisterous young man Robert Baratheon had found something to distract him from the anger in him.
"No-no… I saw that. What do you have there?" Sounds of quarreling came from Eddard's room but as one who know these two knew who was winning this bout. Soon enough Eddard was under the larger young man as Robert held in his hand a written letter. "Fuck damn Ned, this is what you consider a wooing letter? Where's passion, the raw primal desire, where's the good stuff?"
"Please do not talk like that when I know whom you are betrothed to." The last thing that Eddard needed was thoughts about what sort of letters Robert and his sister passed between them in this context.
"Tsk, damn prude." Robert lifted himself off his best friend but kept the letter Eddard had been writing to a certain woman. "But it is good to see you actually writing to a lady. A Dornish one had that… mmm… good taste Ned."
"Give me that." Eddard yanked his letter out of the hand of Robert and nervously began straightening it out. "Is it… really so plain?"
"Oh yes it but it's also you. Find a lovely lady that like your kind of honest steadfastness, even if its kind of a bore." He chuckled supportive as he gave Ned a friendly slap to the back. His words did help the Northerner a bit. "So how long is this been going on?"
"Ever since the Tourney, so a few months now. I worried for a time as she stopped responding but that was just because she was traveling back to her family's lands. The Prince relieved her of her position as Princess Elia's handmaiden." Robert had a hard look on his face for a moment. Surely this was a good sign that Dorne wasn't so tightly tied to the crown. It would be logical that they would be upset that the prince was clearly abandoning their daughter for Lyanna. But He shook away those thoughts away for right now. "I enjoy writing to her, and I have been told she enjoys my company."
"Aww Ned! Finally found someone to join your bed huh?" A tiny part of him had been worried that Ned might not even like woman. Seeing him blushing over this Dornish girl however got rid of those worries.
"Oh gods no. She's… there are circumstances. Private things she ahs told me in confidence. Please understand." Robert grumbled a bit but didn't press further. What he did understand was that this was real, possible the beginnings of something like what he had with Lyanna. And the next thing that Ned said would solidify that idea in Robert's mind. "Once this matter with the prince is done, if we are alive that is, I will ask my father if he can arrange a betrothal between us."
"Good on you Ned! It's about time you've shown some spine in this matter. Has she said anything like this?" Eddard wasn't the type to just assume this sort of thing. He had true honor and wouldn't try to force a marriage between himself and some unwilling lady of the realm.
"I will be asking her soon but I hope she agrees." Of course she would, no proper woman would say no to Ned, as much of a sulker he was Robert knew his best friend was one of the best men out there. The larger young man pulled the smaller one into a side hug with a big grin on his face.
"Just think of it Ned, we can get married together on the corpses of dragons."
"Entering the Sojourn system now. Comm chatter is minimal… I don't believe they have detected us yet." Of fucking course they didn't, I'm having the migraine of the year trying to cloak an entire Mandalorian carrier in the Force while doing my best to not look like I'm doing that. "Engaging stealth mode, all systems but basic propulsion, comms, and life support offline."
"Force damn it finally." I allowed myself to lower my concealment over the carrier. That was difficult, though not cracking the insane feats I've had to do in the past. The top being creating a portal for us to steal two Gree gates. That was the most insane thing I have done with the Force in terms of sheer amount of power I had to expel. But for now this was still draining, even as I gave the crew the signal of the Kaminoan ship I had to pace my movements. "Begin hailing this frequency, my subordinate should have arrived here already."
Ivuc had been a very busy Sith Apprentice since I took him under my wing. Though I wasn't a very present master, he did well under my tutelage. He did better with a style of schooling of giving him a general direction rather than outright dictation anyway. Already strong in the Force, all he needed was a bit of refinement and experience with the galaxy at large. Having him learn under Sith and Jedi Holocrons filled in the gaps. He was on the cusp of Balance, very close to it but he needed that trigger, that thing that would finally get him to achieve such a transcendent state.
Silently the Mando's ship glided through the vacuum of space until it had passed the outer stellar bodies of the system and arrived at the Gas Giant that Sojourn orbited. The moon itself was on the other side and there it would stay until we were ready. Darth Plagueis really did rely on the secrecy of this place more than any active sensory equipment. I'm sure that there was a full compliment of Sun Guard, his own personal merc army, down there guarding the place. However, we were not hitting any of the supposed main targets on the moon and knew exactly where our objective was… hopefully. If we did this quick enough then it didn't matter who or how many were on the moon.
"Sir, a small craft is responding to our hails. They are requesting to dock." Jaster gave the order to let Ivuc dock and we left to greet my more distinct apprentice. The ship he arrived in was a sleek and nimble craft that was a call back to the old style of design Kaminoans' had once upon a time. Thanks to the Infinity Engine and the Kaminoan Data Repository they had been able to bring back all their tech and architecture with minimal hardship. The Kaminoan that in age was four times my senior stepped out of his craft and into Mandalorian hanging to quite a few surprised faces.
"Rhyhall." Ivuc knew the score and discarded appropriate titles for the time being. But still nodded his head in respect for his master. He looked a bit younger thanks to the various rejuvenation treatments, both scientific and Force powered but otherwise still held himself as a veteran of many harsh years as a soldier and leader. "I have found it quite ironic for me to accompany you on this mission. Long ago my people had fulfilled a large amount of orders for The Gathering, exotic animals for their hunts."
"And how did their backers repay it, with the destruction of your planet." I chuckled and Ivuc didn't even react to the mention of his people's past. He was a future first type of man. I turned to Jaster who was studying the alien, the surface of his mind were mostly positive things as he could see a fellow warrior in Ivuc. "This is Ivuc Wa, my subordinate who will be accompanying us on the mission."
"I had expected a fellow Kaasen, your people aren't known for their… tolerance." True, Imperials have always had deep rooted xenophobia and human superiority in them. But they will learn, I'll make sure of it. "But I see no issue with it."
"Excellent! Assemble your squads Mand'alor, the eve of battle is upon us."
A Sun Guard yawned in a very rare moment of distraction as he stood at his post. Thankfully he was inside a temperature controlled watchtower instead of patrolling outside in the biting snowstorm that always surrounded the bunker complex his company guarded.
"Three more days then we transfer to the hunting grounds." He shivered with apprehension, as he much preferred this frozen wasteland to the ever changing hunting grounds of the VIP guests of Sojourn. Not only was the landscape always so confusing and so impossible to ever become accustom to, forget becoming a expert at, but it was what they guarded their that was the worst. The Muun huntsmen were always so bad and pompous that it grated on the mind of true warriors. Spoiled bankers that wanted to feel the thrill of the hunt and the joy of blood-sport. Nope. He'd take this frozen hell any day.
Thankfully neither would be an issue anymore as the nameless Sun Guard's head was blasted to bits from a well placed sniper round. A nearby patrol of Sun Guards likewise had been killed quietly from Lightsaber wounds. Like someone closing their fist, the surrounding defenses of the polar bunker complex were snuffed out three teams of Mandalorian super-commandos reached the entrance.
"Those blast doors are pretty thick, how we going to get in?" Jango asked as he approached his foster father and their employer. He still wasn't completely sure about how he felt about the Kaasen. On one hand he was a outsider interfering with matters of the Creed, he spoke in particularly annoying way, and overall just set off red flags in Jango's mind. However, he was also very well versed in their culture and showed proper respect at times, clearly was a seasoned warrior, and damn did he seem to pay well. Other matters conflicted the young man's opinion on Naraiz Rhyhall but Jango assumed that this mission would define it better for him.
"Like this." Rhyhall responded as both he and his alien ally stood in front of the door and held out their hands. Several of the men and women looked to each other confused and even a little mockingly at the strangeness. But then there was a low groan of cold metal bending… then a crunch. Jango and the rest of the super-commandos all watched as the blast doors were crushed by an invisible force until finally it was rammed forward into the complex. "Move, we won't have much time until reinforcements show up."
It took a moment for some of the younger and less experienced of the Mandalorians to recover from what they had just seen. Everyone in the Galaxy had heard of the strange powers the Jedi had. But those that hadn't seen it firsthand only thought of it as insane propaganda made by the Republic. Afterall, the idea of psychic powers was crazy right? But no, they had just seen the use of the Force in action.
Two of the three squads entered into the complex without a external sound. Chatter was going between them but the sealed suits that the super commandos had been given by the Dragoons prevented any possible information leak. This was a fortress of a master at information gathering and manipulation. All precautions to avoid their identities from being discovered had been taken even to the point of forgoing traditional Mandalorian combat language. Jango himself didn't see the point of all these lengths but would listen to his Mandalore and the demands of the client.
The opening hallway of the complex immediately descended down to a stairway deeper into the underground bunker. The teams moved swiftly down the stairs and as they approached its end, two of the super-commandos tossed down a pair of flashbangs and ion-grenades. One for organic threats and the other for any droids or sentry turrets. Jango took point alongside his second in command, the goal was to make any possible surveillance on them believe that his team was the true threat.
As much as any true follower of the Creed hated it, there was a reason why in certain circles the Sun Guard were often compared to them. The second that Jango and his brother in creed set foot onto the new floor, they were targeted by blaster fire. Even as dazed and caught off guard as they were, the soldiers that had been stationed down there recovered quickly and were ready to fight off the invaders. But being compared to and on equal footing were two different things. The Mandalorians took a few shots but by the time the rest of the squads were down with them, all enemies had been terminated.
"-Split off here, find the objective and secure it. Keep comm clear except for mission critical info.-" Jaster called through the comm system as they came to an atrium with several different exits. The tall alien that Jango's team had been told to follow took only a second to decide which one to take and they followed him through it. Both teams oved with a trained fluidity that only came with extremely discipline and skill.
More Sun Guard were quickly found and it was becoming clear that they knew what was up. After the second group they surprised, that advantage had been lost. Nevertheless, Jango's team was racking up kills and so far had come away with only glancing burn marks on their barrowed armor. That wasn't to say the Sun Guard were incompetent, it was more of a testament to the teachings of Jaster of his Super-Commando Codex. Jango was sweating and his mind was running on full speed trying to stay at this level. Now that the enemy was aware of the attack, he was expecting casualties.
"No. Do the job, and do it right." He told himself as he ducked back to a corner as a barrage of heavy blaster fire nearly hit him. "HRB down the hall!"
"Leave it to me." The tall alien moved so strangely, his movements were graceful and never a single twitch of unneeded action even on the muscular level. But at the same time there was a ridged beat in experience of a solider who moved purposefully and faster than a person should react.
The Mandalorians watched with a mixture of scoff, fear, and pity as the clearly insane alien walked into the hallway that was overwatched by a Heavy Repeating Blaster. They stuck to their cover and listened in as the roaring sound of blaster came, then under that noise was the crunching and banging of something heavy hitting metal, then screams of Sun Guards. Finally things went quiet. A moment passed and Jango gave the signal to move out. All of them prepared to deal with anything but found the entire hall cleared.
"Yup… that's a Force User for ya. Reminds me of when the Republic hired us for that job on Kuat." Adait Ful, the oldest among Jango's squad, chuckled as they looked upon the scene before them. Large dents in the walls and floor created a path where clearly something barreled its way down the hallway. Jumping from one point to the next until it came to a fortified choke point in the hall where there had been a heavy gunner crew encamped. Now there was just several mutilated bodies of dead Sun Guard and the tall Alien with an ignited yellow duel sided Lightsaber. In the alien's free hand was a struggling Sun Guard.
"Damn you bastards, you'll all burn for this." The Sun Guard gripped the long fingers of his captor tightly trying to free himself but they wouldn't budge.
"You will tell me where the vaults are." Jango watched as the Force User interrogated the prisoner as him and the squad approached. But the second that the question had been asked the soldier seemed to freak out even more. They watched as the panicking man begged and struggled to free himself only to then go limp. The alien dropped the now dead man callously. "It would seem that they are primed to be killed if captured."
"That complicates things. This place so far has been a labyrinth, best option now is to find a terminal and splice into it." Even if they were to be a decoy team, they still had objectives. And if they happened to find the locations of the artifact vaults first then duties of the two teams would flip. "Best we can do is keep moving forward."
"Agreed." The Alien spoke as it slowly nodded its long necked head. But just before they started to move off their comms opened up.
"-Squad One, be advised we have encountered a Force Capable combatant. Unknown if there are more but be…-" The comm cut out just before it could be finished. Sighing, Jango looked to the rest of his team who were all ready to continue carrying out the mission.
Falling behind the alien that now took point, they continued down the winding hallways. More encounters with the Sun Guard ensued, with two of his men taking minor wounds. Switching them to the middle of the formation and giving them a shot of Bacta for time being. But the wounds reminded Jango that they were still on a mission that was time critical. The longer they stayed here the more the possibility of failure grew. This was on his mind even as they cleared out another bunker-block.
"No, this way." The alien said as he pointed to a wall that looked to be just as all the others. A metal smooth surface, until a blast of the Force caved it in and revealed a secret hallway. This one lit be a reddish glow instead of the bright white that the rest of the complex had been dosed in. "There's something this way that resonates in the Force."
"Squad Two, we may have found the objective. Investigating now." Jango reported to his foster father but as they entered the new secret tunnel he grew worried that he received no confirmation. There was a different feel to the air here, oppressive and foreboding. The super-commandos even as shaken as they were by it still soldiered on. This hallway was lined with small doors each connecting to a small room with what they found to be single artifacts. "Clear the rooms, find us the objective."
"Yes sir." They all responded back and began moving down the hall, each moving into a room and checking for any possible traps or guards. "Room clear." Those words were repeated as each Mandalorian moved between each door. They were all the height of professional soldiers as they carried out a standard maneuver… until.
"Holy fucking tap dancing Rancor." That got everyone's attention and immediately they filled into the room that had gotten such a reaction out of their own. And when Jango filled into the room he could see why. It was unmistakable, every child of the Creed knew it. The Mask of Mandalore, sitting on a simple display stand.
"H-how is it here?"
"Does it matter? We have it now!"
"Grab it and let's exfil now!"
"That is not your job." The cold voice of the alien spoke behind them all. The Mandalorians looked back to see the alien staring down at them, a chill ran down all of their spines as they could feel the threat. The goading that this Force-User was giving them to defy him. "Leave it." It was Adait Ful and Ajuko Taizlurn that drew their guns on him.
"I don't think you understand that is. Thousands of years the symbol of the Mandalore has been missing." Adait growled as he trained his blaster rifle on the long-neck's head.
"We've had to use replacements and empty words since then. Now as Jaster is bringing the Creed back to its former glory we have found its symbol again. It's fate."Ajuko the resident historian of the Creed spoke with a unusual reverence that Jango had never heard from him before. Both of these men had been the last people he'd expect to see do this. One a cynical disillusioned veteran, the other a light hearted joker and self-stylized scholar.
"It is not what we came for. You were hired for a job, are you abandoning it?" He asked with a chilling confidence in his voice. There was no doubt that he thought that he could take them all on.
The two Mandalorians lowered their rifles just a little. The teachings of their Mand'alor ringing in their ears. That their people were not barbarian raiders but honorable mercenaries that carried out their client's job perfectly and skill. They had been hired for a job, and they were going to complete it. But here was the single most important piece of their cultural identity. A firing shot from Jango's pistol into the ceiling broke them all out their thoughts.
"We do the job, we do it right." He said firmly even as he could feel from behind him the Mask calling to his blood. As if to settle his words, the complex shook, and the lights flickered on and off before the comms lit up again.
"-Team One, objective as been secured and enemy Reinforcements have begun to arrive. Immediate retreat now in progress.-" The walls shook like artillery had been fired upon the bunker complex. It was blindly clear they needed to leave as soon as possible. Thoughts must have raced between several of them to take the Mask now. But they had their orders to grab the objective and nothing else.
"Let us leave now." The alien seemed to have felt that the argument had been finished and felt no need to drag it out further. He ducked under the small door and with only a little hesitance the rest of the squad followed behind him. However, the sound of a cable being fired was covered by another rumbling of the foundation of the bunker.
Splitting off from Ivuc and Jango, the mission truly began. I have no doubts in my mind that the Circlet was here. I could feel several pulls in the Force, to both the Dark and Light. Oh what goodies has Plagueis been hiding for all these years huh? But for now I would have to contend with just the Circlet. Perhaps one day I could scorer his stockpiles of artifacts but now was not then.
Now if only I could pinpoint where the circlet was more accurately. We began a running battle with the Sun Guard as the Mandos and I traveled the halls. The uniform gray steel and bright white light hid a sinister aura in these tunnels as I could feel a unease in the Force. So many bright spots in the Force meant that the place containing them needed to be insulated in some way to hide them all from praying eyes. I could only have theories on what were carved into the bedrock or inscribed into the walls behind the steel surface. It made tracking down where the Circlet impossible but I was good mowing down the security forces of Damask Holdings until I found it.
I wasn't hiding my lightsabers or my skills to Jaster as I chewed up anything that came close to us. A combination of droids led by actual Sun Guard soldiers began to attempt to dislodge us from the bunker complex. But to no avail as both myself and the super-commandos just ripped through anything they threw at us. The Sun Guard quickly came to the realization that we were a real threat but it was only after a full hour that we got our first injury. The mercenaries that Plagueis had gotten were good but they were fighting Mandos led by both a Mand'alor and a Sith.
"Pull back to check point four, repeat pull back to gh!" One of the Sun guard screams as my Lightsaber pierced through his chest. I held up his dying corpse and using the Force flung him off my blade and into his retreating comrades. They were easy marks for the blasters of the Mandalorians.
"We're getting close, I can feel a familiar presence in the Force." There were actually two, one Light and one Dark. The former I could feel as the Circlet and the latter was… I was less certain of that. Feeling the pull in the Force coming from a the end of the current hallway we were running down; I knew we we're getting closer. This was a smash and grab so as we approached the doors I reached out with the Force and tore it open. Crunching and shearing metal echoed around the hall and finally large crash as the door was throw inside. "Disperse and clear the room! Until we find the objective I want nobody entering this room." I shout through the comm system of the team.
The Super-commandos all moved without verbal commands or signs, their training that complete and efficient. The room we had entered was a massive atrium line with rising elevations in platforms with steep slopes. Everything was sleek and straight towards the back which ended in a flat wall. Lining the various floors of the room were pedestals with various cultural, religious, or esoteric artifacts. It was an impressive collection, there was even what I suspected was a Yuuzhan-vong bio sword… likely a very recent addition. Odd though was the lack of actual guards or even defenses. All of the artifacts were behind both shielding and heavy reinforced glass.
"Is our objective among these things?" Jaster asked through the comms and I nodded before Force Jumping up one of the lower platforms where the Circlet of Saresh was being housed. I holstered my lightsaber and pulled out Saarai, unlocking her released form and it was child's play to cut an open top the case. None of us reacted to the alarms going off when I broke into the box and pulled out the Circlet, we knew it was coming from the beginning.
Feeling the Circlet in my hands I could understand its true scope of power. Just touching this conduit to the Light Side was making my head feel dizzy. It was only thanks to me expecting this that I was able to shunt all of the incoming pressure of the Light Side out of my head. I quickly tossed the damned thing into the satchel had brought and leapt back down to the main floor of the room.
"Falsifier! You dare assault our glorious master's treasury!" Ah… so here was the real challenge. I and the Mandos look up to see a panel at the top of the back wall open up to reveal a giant of a Zygerrian clad in heavy sith-like armor though a bit more utilitarian. The beast of a man jumped down to the ground with a heavy thud, denting the floor panels and igniting a double sided lightsaber as he stood back up. "I am the Dark Lord's Shield and you will be dealt with once and for all!"
"We have what we came for, get this to the ship and I'll join you soon enough." I tossed the satchel to one of the Mandalorian before pulling out my own lightsabers. We had already established that if a Force Sensitive combatant showed up then I or Ivuc would be the on to deal with them. The squad of super-commandos exited the room quickly as me and this Shield of Plagueis slowly drew closer to each other. He truly was a tank of a dude, I could see why he was in the position he was. But just because someone looked a part didn't mean they fought like that. My master was quite the heavy set man but was a nimble fighter, so this being like was on my mind.
"You humiliated and bested Xiade but I will not be so easy." He snarled before charging forward, each step he made caused a small dent to the floor as he amplified his momentum with the Force. Hmm… looked like he was just going to be a battering ram of a foe. Thrusting out my hands I focused the Force around me to push back on the incoming bullheaded Sith-Assassin. He slowly to a degree, fighting through my attack in an effort to land his first shot at me. But then to my surprise, he let himself go just at the right time as both Midwan and Saarai attempted to skewer him from behind. Letting himself get flung back as a dodge to the surprise attack. Flipping back and landing gracefully, there was a classic Zygerrian mocking smirk on his face as he looked back up.
"Cheeky bastard, how did you know they were coming?" I asked as I walked in between my Tsân with a curious look behind my helmet. A Tsân's presence was completely masked to a Force user to them essentially being physical extensions of their creator's own power in the Force. So long as the user of a Tsân was in close proximity, another user of the Force would be tricked into sensing only the actual master of the Tsân as they would act like a magnet of the senses in this regard.
"Our master has told us of the strange power you possess, we have all sharpened our other senses to counter it. I could smell the sudden change in the air behind me." I was banking on Plagueis not telling anyone about that power due to how he learned of it. Seems that he was less prideful and more practical than Sith of old. Even if he didn't tell anyone about the injury I had given him in our first meeting with my Tsân, even acknowledging it tangentially like this was more than most Sith would allow.
"Well are you just a sneaky pussy cat." I snidely chuckled as it was clear that this fight was going to take a little longer than I had initially expected. Still… was three on one.
"I call the head!" Midwan madly laughed as both of them ran forward, each sister taking a swing at the head and legs of the Zygerrian. He blocked their swords and wasn't even phased by the fact that what looked to be a metal sword was able to contend with a Lightsaber. I paced back and forth as Midwan and Saarai tag teamed Plagueis' Shield, the darker sister giving a unending barrage of blows while the lighter one striking at what should be opening in his defense.
But there wasn't a crack in his armor, both literally and figuratively. Despite his bulk he moved swiftly and managed to block or move his body so that the heaviest of his plate armor caught Saarai's blade. It also seemed that his Force powers were strong enough to keep the extra ability's of my blades at bay. My swords powers weren't so broken that they would work on other Force Users immediately, the same force field that we used to keep other from turning off our lightsabers or outright Force Choking us could be used to stave off the rotting or disintegration of my Tsân.
"Enough distractions!" The Sith-Assassin roared before unleashing a Shockwave in the Force. Both Midwan and Saarai were sent flying away, landing on the upper platforms. But I didn't have time to think on them as the Zygerrian was already leaping into action and slamming his blade toward me. Both my lightsabers caught his and the harsh glow of all three of them reflected off my helmet. With aide from the Force I pulled under the attack after a few moments, causing the Sith-Assassin to fall forward as I slid under his legs. He recovered quickly and blocked my counter attack.
Swing after swing he blocked my various attacks as I flipped and slid my way around his airtight defenses. It was a real fight that I hadn't had in a long time, as such I mentally ordered my Tsân to stand back. Both me and the Sith-Assassin were locked in a flurry of blows with me being the aggressor most of the time. Very few of his moves actually attacked me, not too many counters. But not for a moment did he look or feel to be buckling under my assault.
A strange adaptation of Form Three is what he was using, where he would make use of the double sided blade by constantly turning one side off and allowing for normally self-inflecting moves. It defended well against my Form Four, if it wasn't for my reserves being on the mythical level this would be a sound strategy for a enemy like me. But there was a reason he was here, to delay until the Sun Guard could arrive and interrupt what should be a honorable duel. He was after all here on a job. Though… I had to hand it to this Shield, he was certainly a worthy opponent.
"Ever think about a change in employment? We have dental in the Rule of Three." I asked jovially after I had flipped back and engaged him at a tug of war with the Force. Enough time had passed for the Mandos to have escaped. It was long shot to hope that perhaps I might persuade this tool of Plagueis but I had to give it a shot.
"As if I would ever betray my lord, scum." Oh well… worth a try.
"-Master, we have cleared the building and our on way to the shuttle with he objective in hand.-" Ivuc spoke over my helmet's comm confirming my internal timeline. The walls had been softly shaking for awhile now so I supposed that the Sun Guard reinforcements were here. It was time to bounce.
"Give my regards to dear Darth Plagueis would you, oh and Plapy boy too." I said as I pulled back both Midwan and Saarai's blades as they bodies vanished. It was time to make my escape but I don't think that this guy understood that.
"Don't you dare say his name!" He screamed as he gave a power Force leap and intended to shatter me like a pane of glass only for me to hop back into a Force Portal and vanish from sight. My feet landed onto the snowy mountain side that our shuttle had been waiting at. The Mandos that had just arrived here all pointed their guns at me, then lowered them once their senses caught up with their reflexes.
"Well I would say that went off without a hitch." I said as I spread my arms wide while turning around to see all of them. My entrance and the professional nature of the crowd did not make for a welcoming tone for my jokes. With a crack to my neck I changed up my stance to a bit more serious as I looked to Jaster. "Any dead?"
"A few wounded but nothing fatal." He responded as we all started to board the shuttle. The arial forces of Sojourn would be scrambling to catch us but I would be running interference to their means of detection. "Overall, I would call this a success."
"Indeed, you certainly earned your pay Mand'alor." The shuttle doors closed and I sat down on one of the seats. A nagging feeling at the back of my mind itched but I chalked it up to residual numbing from my escape portal. But still… I felt like something was wrong.
"It would seem that Lord Stark has taken to drugging his daughter to keep her from the prince." Ser Gerold Hightower spoke as he rested the unmoving body of Lyanna Stark onto his horse. Some distance from the walls of Winterfell, two of the Kingsguard had made camp with a few of the prince's supporters. A handful of men that were loyal to the crown along with a local woman that refused to show her face. She had been the one to let in Ser Hightower through the hidden passage of Winterfell in the crypts. "At least we now know why none of the prince's letter had been responded to. Something wrong brother?"
"I need to speak to you." Ser Arthur Dayne nodded to the side and his commander followed him to where they would not be overheard. A tenseness had existed between them since the Tourney at Harrenhal, the true name of that place, due to Ser Hightower's treatment of his sister. Of course the Sword of the Morning would find out that his commander had cornered Ashara. They hadn't spoken of it yet and that was what the older man assumed this to be about.
"If this is about that misunderstanding then you can-"
"It's not but don't dishonor yourself more on that matter." Arthur growled, the cold air making his breath look like angry steam coming from the slit in his helmet. Taking a moment to cool off, the man returned to what he wanted to speak about. "Never once have I wavered in my loyalty to my oaths."
"Do not tell me there is more to that statement Ser Dayne." The commander of the Kingsguard warned but Arthur did not stop. In his head he knew that he was greatest among them and that the White Bull had lost some of his charge in his graying years.
"Until now. I have never wavered in my loyalty to my oaths until now. You cannot tell me that the actions and words of the prince have not been worrying." The small look to the side was all the confirmation that Arthur needed. They all had their doubts and concerns.
At first, they shared anger and resentment to the foreign sorcerer that wormed his way into the court of King's Landing. But as time went on and it was clear that he had done more good than harm, freed slaves and gave prosperity to the poor masses, saved the lives of children that would have been quietly killed off by the Septons, it became clear that their feelings were born from pettiness. True Naraiz had shown them up when he arrived but holding a grudge like that in the face of the good he brought was childish. But the prince hated the Sith with a unforgiving and often irrational passion.
"It is not our place to question our liege's wishes." That caused Arthur to snap as he grabbed the collar of Ser Hightower's mail armor, having needed something more mobile for the mission. Their liege's wishes? How could they carry them out when they all knew that the wishes of their king and now the prince were everything they stood against.
"We both have stood at that door!" The bitter rigidity of his voice was years upon years of resentment welling up. "That fucking door. At attention and listening for danger. But… we had to listen to night after night of our liege destroying his wife. Rape and abuse the kind that no god should allow. Are we now going to have stand at another door Commander? Listening to the same screams but from another victim?"
"Collect yourself Ser Dayne." The White Bull spoke with the resolve that made Arthur question his earlier assumption that he could beat the older man. He let go of his commander and stepped back, but still to roiling anger in his soul did not subside. "I will forget this happened only because you are right. By the gods you are right. But I will not be an oath breaker and won't tolerate any under my command. Understand me?"
"Yes commander." The two words had to be dragged out of the Sword of the Morning. The two returned to the rest of the party in silence. Both completely unaware that their entire conversation had been overheard by an interested party.
Next chapter will have Jaster preparing and arriving at Mandalore, all that stuff, and the start of Robert's Rebellion.
ZhaWarudo - I have a very specific plan for Lysa, not sure how people will like it in the end but its been what I have been going for since I first brought her into all this. There's also gas, ion, fire, and rads. As well as less conventional stuff too.
Ahtu - I have a Beta reader working up the chapters, its just a slow process
dudepotatos - She is right, that's the point. Naraiz is in the wrong here and he knows it... he just doesn't change his behavior due to several factors. That last point is a bit misleading as he shuns Melisandre and is cordial with Talzin who both want to sleep with him. There are others but yes, his primary female interaction does tend to be with those he is sleeping with in some capacity. This is supposed to be a power fantasy fic so that comes with the territory.
Monkeylikespie - Naraiz will be using the Imperial Class design as well as several others with that being the main. Though they will have vastly improved specs like actually have Point Defense capabilities. They also have vastly less space dedicated to starfighters as they will be parried with Venators that will act as Assault Carriers. I just like the classic design too much.
Kulha - It won't just been them. Each of the teo digit legions will be made up of roughly 10,000 Astartes class clones as well as a varying degree of regular number of Axillary clones for the Legions. Meanwhile three digit number Legions (ie the 501st) will be purely reg clones and be numbered at much higher levels but will all be purely uniform while the Astartes Legions are pretty diverse in culture and tactics.
Reads too much - Oh don't worry, there will be a reckoning with the Montross thing later. The Quarens will be pro-empire but that will be a major theater of the beginning stages of the Empire's entrance into the war. As for the power levels, yes the Terran born Sith will be less experienced than the jedi but they also have much more unorthodox methods of fighting that the Jedi are unused to. And they won't be all level ones, more like the average will be level fifteen compared to the 50s of the Jedi. But that's not counting Revan's Secret Army which while more what the Jedi might expect, are much more experienced.