Chapter: 3

The Queen of Hearts and the Ghost sped through space towards their destinations, unaware that this galaxy would never be the same after today. Golden age jump-drives are much quicker than hyperspace drives, but the Golden Age of humanity on Earth had long since been lost and as impressive as city technology had come, it couldn't beat the hyperspace drive on the Ghost. This was the reason why they arrived first to the coordinates. As they exited hyperspace, they found the Imperial light cruiser carrying the object of interest.

"Wait" Ezra said "if this was a high level objective why would the Empire only have a light cruiser transporting it?"

"Well this item, whatever it is, isn't exactly public knowledge. The Empire is probably trying to keep this a secret, still something isn't right." Sabine sighed

"Yeah" Kanaan squinted at the ship "Why aren't they moving and why haven't they contacted us yet?"

"True" Zeb nodded "usually they're telling us to either leave, identify ourselves, or both by now."

"We've come this far, might as well investigate" Hera said as she moved towards the cruiser's nearest airlock. "Kanaan, you and Sabine scout the ship and report back with anything. Ezra, I want you and Zeb ready to move in and support them if something goes wrong."

"You mean when" Zeb grumbled as the four of them left the bridge to follow their instructions.

Sabine and Kanaan stepped out of the airlock expecting to find stormtroopers about to ambush them and found an empty hallway. If they didn't know better from their intelligence, they would say that the ship was derelict, artificial gravity and life support were still functioning but everything else was basically dead.

"I don't like this" Sabine whispered

"I feel it too" Kanaan nodded "something is wrong here, I can't place it but it's wrong." as the two continued scouting they came across an anomaly that stunned both of them. It looked as though a puddle of black liquid with glittering lights was covering the walls and a small sphere of the same material was floating next to them.

"What the hell?" Sabine asked quietly

"It feels like a plague in liquid form" Kanaan shuddered

"Spectre-1 to Spectre-2, what's your status?" Hera asked over comms

"We're not sure yet" Kanaan responded "There is something seriously wrong aboard this cruiser."

"You have ten minutes, if you haven't found the objective by then we're leaving"

"Copy, that" Kanaan agreed, closing off communications.

Meanwhile, the Queen of Hearts had finally entered the system and was making its way over to the Imperial cruiser. As they were nearing Snyder was getting nervous.

"Drake, I'm picking up neutrino particles on that ship." Snyder said

"Oh great" the warlock sighed with a bag of pretzel rods on his lap and a Diet Coke can being tossed aside as he finished drinking it. "Does that mean we're going to galaxy hop again?"

"No, this time it is the Taken"

"Oh hell!" Drake yelled "If they get that egg, it'll be Riven all over again"

"Then what are you waiting for, Guardian, fly faster!" with that the duo sped towards the cruiser in the hopes of getting the egg before it was too late.

Commander Pazak cursed once again as he continued running for his life, he was Special Forces, one of the Imperials that had retrieved the object of interest, yet now his black armor was burned with energy weapon marks, his team had been killed, and he was the only Imperial alive on the ship. He turned a corner only to come face to face with a team of the invaders (Taken Psions). The Commander rolled backwards and fired off several blaster bolts from his rifle, one of the enemies was downed while the other he aimed for simply divided into two and avoided the bolts all together in progress. Growling in frustration, the Commander took cover in the hallway he had just come out from as a volley of energy bolts came his way. Priming a thermal detonator, Commander Pazak entered the room while spraying blaster bolts from his rifle. He threw the detonator to the far side of the room where several of the attackers were while he used a vibroblade to kill the remaining attackers at the same time. Unbeknownst to him, the Ascendant Hive Goddess who was directing the Taken saw his skills and was impressed with him. Using the power that Oryx once held, Savathuun the witch-queen of the Hive, stretched forth her will and directly attacked the Imperial specialist pitting her will against his. Commander Pazak cried out in pain as the deepest most penetrating cold pierced his body, The cold became worse with every passing second and as the Commander screamed and tried in vain to fight against what was happening to him he could feel his ideals, memories, even his very soul be slowly dimmed as an oil lamp running out of fuel. In the next moment he knew nothing, was nothing, and felt nothing. He was forever in Limbo until his master commanded him otherwise, he had been Taken.

Hearing the screams just a moment before, Kanaan and Sabine rushed to the source and had the misfortune of being witnesses of the Imperial Commander being Taken. They had no way of knowing how much danger they had walked into. Savathuun eyed the two newcomers through the corruption running along the walls and blanketing the floor. She felt a faint presence of the Sky coming from the male and could feel nothing out of place on the female. Wanting to test the male humans Sky strength, she began to plan an ambush for the two rebels.

"What just happened?" Sabine asked in a hushed and frightened tone

"I don't know, I've never seen anything like this before. Even so, we need to leave, there is no sense in entering a fight we know nothing about when it's obvious that this object of interest, whatever it is, won't reach Coruscant either way." Kanaan replied Sabine agreed without a moments hesitation, she may be Mandalorian, but continuing onwards wasn't a struggle, it was suicide.

"Hera this is Sabine" the girl spoke over the comlink "Were on our way back, there is something seriously wrong here" The message was met with silence worrying the Jedi and Mandalorian pair even more

"Spectre 2 to Spectre-1, come in!" Kanaan commanded, no response

"Ezra, Zeb, hell even Chopper for all I care, someone respond" Sabine called out on the comlink. With continued silence, Kanaan and Sabine made a dash back the way they had come. They had nearly made it back to the Ghost when they saw an unidentified lifeform wearing what appeared to be tattered grey robes with three fingers on each hand and multiple sets of eyes similar to what an insect would have. Kanaan sensed a massive amount of dark energy coming from it and as he began focusing the force to defend himself and Sabine a term was whispered into his head that described the anomaly perfectly.

Herald of Savathuun, the name was unfamiliar to Kanaan but he could tell from the palpable dread in the air that this Savathuun had no good intent whatsoever, the same malice that the Herald portrayed. Shrieking like a psychopath, a massive pulse of dark energy burst from the herald and multiple runic sigils were immediately forged in green flame, from these sigils several dozen Hive Thrall were birthed instantly and rushed at the two. Sabine began using her blasters to fire at the assailants immediately while Kanaan ignited his lightsaber and began to fight back as well. Meanwhile the Herald watched on and waited for Savathuun's command. Unaware of the fact that soon, a risen warrior of the Sky would come along before long.

Docking onto the ship, Drake entered with the Ace of Spades drawn only to realize it was too warm and bright for it to be infested with Taken and possibly Hive as well. Hearing a series of beeps, Drake turned around and found himself being held at gun (blaster) point of Ezra, Zeb, and Hera

"Who are you and what are you doing on my ship?" Hera asked with a suspicious glance

"Great job, Drake" Snyder began telepathically "the one time I let you fly and land as fast as possible and you end up boarding the wrong freakin' ship. I'm gonna milk this for all that it's worth."

"This is all a misunderstanding" Drake began "I was trying to land on that other ship so that I could grab something I misplaced"

"Likely story" Zeb scoffed

"For once my roommate and I agree" Ezra jumped in "Why should we trust a word you say?"

"Because you were the ones stupid enough to dock with an infested ship in the first place" Drake deadpanned

"Weren't you just trying to do the same thing?" Hera shot back

"Ok, good point, counterpoint, I'm specifically trained to deal with the entities that have seized control of that ship." Drake replied

"Counter-counterpoint" Zeb said "You could be an Imperial trying to lure us into a false sense of security, how do we know you aren't lying about this infected bit?"

"Ok, I'm just gonna go out on a limb and assume this isn't your first time breaking into a cruiser." Drake sighed "Does any of what has happened since you attached to that ship seem abnormal to you? Have you heard anything back from the people you sent aboard?"

"How did you know we have more people than us?" Ezra asked

"Oh yeah, I mean why wouldn't you wait an hour before boarding a cruiser after docking for the sake of playing a card game and eating, whatever the hell that stuff is?" Drake snarked gesturing to the table Hera, Zeb, and Ezra had been eating lunch and playing Sabacc while waiting for word from Sabine and Kanaan.

"In our defense" Zeb chuckled "It was only twenty minutes"

"Do you really think that makes it better?" Drake raised an eyebrow

"So" Hera spoke up to change the subject "what exactly is wrong with that ship, and what danger are our friends in?"

"Good question" Drake nodded while holstering the Ace of Spades "Unfortunately we don't have time for me to explain why I don't have time to explain. You can choose to believe me or not, but you better believe this. If we don't get your people off that ship, they will either die or face worse, and if I don't get to that object of interest and secure it the entire galaxy: Imperial, rebel, whatever will be in Jeopardy."

Meanwhile, Kanaan and Sabine were fighting for their lives as more thralls ran at them while several acolytes and a knight equipped with a boomer came against them. Sabine cursed as she saw the knight aim it's weapon at Kanaan. These monstrosities had forced her hand, and she used the only wrist mounted missile in her possession to destroy the Knight before focusing her blaster fire on the thralls as Kanaan began deflecting energy blasts back at the acolytes as they were firing on them. All the while, Savathuun watched through the eyes of her Herald in amusement at the futility of their struggle. Sooner or later they would tire and be overwhelmed, the female would die in agony while the male would either become Taken or die as well. He wasn't particularly powerful, but he was strong enough to prove an asset that, with conditioning, may even be able to destroy one of those accursed Guardians. Savathuun sent an order to her Herald and the Herald obeyed drawing on the powers of the Deep to bring forth multiple Taken; a dozen Psions, two Captains, six Goblins, a Minotaur, and a Centurion.

"You've gotta be kidding me!" Sabine yelled in exasperation at the sight of the new enemies as she and Kanaan withdrew and took shelter in an adjoining room as the Hive/Taken forces began entering the doorway intent on obeying their goddess of death and destruction.

Rushing through the cruiser to find Sabine and Kanaan, Drake along with Hera and Zeb were all alert with weapons drawn while Ezra and Chopper were with the Ghost ensuring it would be good to take off at a moments notice (with the Queen of Hearts still attached of course). Entering the next hallway, they saw fallen Imperial officers, engineers, and stormtroopers.

"Guess that answers what happened to the crew" Zeb sighed

"Surprising no one" Drake shrugged as Hera shifted her eyesdown the next hallway and spotted a Hive Wizard carrying an egg radiating with chaotic power surrounded by thrall.

"Drake" Snyder said, materialising and startling Hera and Zeb in the process. "They have the egg" Drake turned down the hallway and began firing the Ace of Spades at the Hive as Snyder vanished back inside of Drake's head. The Wizard and the egg vanished while the thralls that weren't killed with Drake's first shots rushed the Guardian as he simply used an Arcbolt grenade to kill them.

"Well that sucks" Drake sighed turning to face Hera and Zeb "Good news and bad news, the good news is, if they were focused on the egg, we still have a chance to save your friends, the bad news is the galaxy is in serious trouble. The egg falling into Imperial hands was bad enough, but having it fall into Hive hands however is the worst case scenario. This is the Dreaming City all over again." The warlock shook his head as shrieks and blaster fire could be heard elsewhere

"Kanaan!" Hera shouted running after them while the Guardian and Lasat followed her.

Hearing the shots of a hand cannon caused Savathuun to turn her gaze from the fight and towards the source. She growled upon sensing the presence of a Guardian, the Guardian that had destroyed her brother Oryx, and nephew Crota. She was enraged, this Guardian had already ruined so much, she would not allow him to ruin her chances of acquiring the one identified as Kanaan as well. She ordered her Herald to kill the Guardian while sending in another dozen Hive Thralls to keep Kanaan and Sabine busy. As the Herald teleported to Drake he drew the Young Wolves Howl, and let it blaze in Solar light while wielding the Ace of Spades in his other hand. Hera and Zeb were stunned at the sight of the flaming sword causing Drake to nod down the hallway.

"Go save your friends, this is my fight" Drake commanded, hearing this tone for the first time Hera and Zeb wisely concluded that there was no room for argument and left as the Herald of Savathuun and Drake began their battle. Summoning multiple Thrall, the Herald began firing ethereal energy at Drake while he slashed through the charging minions and rolled out of the way of the blasts rising up and firing multiple shots from Ace at the Herald who dodged most of them only to be hit by the last two shots that went off. Yelling out the Herald sent a much larger pulse of energy downwards causing the floor beneath her and the Guardian to shatter and fall apart. Drake landed on his feet inside what appeared to be the engine room while the Herald and two other Hive Wizards descended and moved towards him. "Round two" Drake said with a grin as they began the fight anew.

Zeb and Hera reached the flank of the attacking Taken, Zeb using his electrostaff began hitting the Captains and Minotaur while Hera fired at the Goblins with her blaster while from inside of the room Sabine shot down the remaining Goblins and Psions with Kanaan slashing down the rest of the thralls before beginning a game of cat and mouse with the Centurion. With Hera's help, Zeb took down the two Captains fairly quick and as he contended with the Minotaur she began firing at the Centurion with Sabine joining that fight as well.

Drake switched over to Riskrunner and poured a massive amount of Arc light out against one of the wizards killing it before maneuvering out of the way of a poisonous cloud and switched back to the Young Wolves Howl rolling forwards and blinking upwards while thrusting the sword downwards into the other Wizard setting it ablaze internally and killing it as the fiend emitted a near deafening shriek of agony. Switching back to the Ace of Spades Drake began dodging energy blasts and firing more shots at the Herald and more of the room around them became trashed with machinery sparking and the engines shielding beginning to fail. As the Herald neared it's death it began recklessly attacking the Guardian who weathered much of the attack with a healing rift while rolling to the side and leaping upwards as his Super was ready to be used. Bringing the palms of his hands together and unleashing a mighty blast of concentrated Arclight straight into the Herald sending it flying backwards with a screech as it's back hit the shield, The Herald died at the same time as the shield was destroyed and the last bit of the energy hit the engine directly.

"Attention engine core is breached, destruction of the ship is imminent, evacuate immediately" an authoritarian voice echoed across the intercoms of the Imperial cruiser.

"Great job, Drake" Snyder appeared "You may have lost the egg, but you still killed the Herald and destroyed an Imperial cruiser, A for effort but F for-"

"Snyder" Drake interrupted "Do you think you can hold off on giving me this crap until after we've gotten ourselves and those other guys off the ship that's about to explode?"

"Fine" The ghost relented as he went back into Drake's head as the two of them rushed back to the higher floor. They found the others as they finished dealing with the Minotaur and Centurion.

"Hey guys" Drake called out "The Heralds' dead and the ship is about to explode, we've gotta get the hell outta here!" They all nodded and followed him back to the airlock where the Ghost was docked.

"Who's he?" Sabine asked

"He's the guy who told us you were all in trouble and helped us save you." Hera answered

"We can talk about this once were all safe" Kanaan sighed

"Agreed" Zeb nodded as they continued running. Once they got aboard the Ghost Chopper disengaged the airlock and flew off to a safe distance as the cruiser exploded.

"You made it!" Ezra exclaimed cheerfully, as they all sat to catch their breath until they heard a crunching sound and turned to the Guardian who had gotten a bag of Cheddar Cheese Pretzel bites and began snacking, taking this moment to relax awaiting the questions that would inevitably come his way.

I got a computer that works better with Internet connectivity and there is a pandemic keeping everyone at home most of the time so I should have more time to make posts but all I can promise is that I'll post whenever I'm able to do so. Hope this was worth the wait