Malisane stood over his pilot's shoulder in the cockpit as the Deathshead made it's final approach. Below battle raged through the streets of the city surrounding the cathedral. He had not been here much since the completion of the work he had done all those years ago. Possibly an award ceremony at some point or other, he could not recall. It had changed, the cathedral and it's city had an unfortunate habit of being razed and rebuilt numerous times over the years. He idly wondered if given the frequency of this whether it even was the same cathedral? He had not intended to come here now, but with things having quietened on Aeotheran a request had gone out to support the Ragnos summit from it's new Quaestor. He had responded.
“Put us down in that square,” he ordered. His blind miraluka pilot guided the freighter down and the ramp lowered. Malisane ran down it, and then waved and watched as the Lancer rose back up into the air. He looked around him. It was quiet here, though the sounds of battle were nearby as the Ragnos forces made their way across the city, scouring out pockets of resistance. He gripped his scatter gun and made his way across the square towards the sounds of blaster fire.
He turned into a large street and immediately came to face with a group of soldiers, wearing the armour of House Marka Ragnos. At the sight of an armoured figure they raised their blasters. One, with a sergeants insignia on his shoulder, approached, weapon raised. “Identify yourself,” he ordered harshly.
Malisane met the sergeant's gaze through the tinted lenses of his helmet. “Malisane Sadow.”
The sergeant backed off slightly as he hurriedly lowered his weapon and then saluted “Sir!”
“Good, you have heard of me. Where is your Quaestor?”
“At the mobile command centre. I will take you to him, sir, if that is your wish.”
Malisane followed the soldiers down the street past more Ragnos soldiers. They appeared to be making preparations for an advance and there was evidence of restlessness. Malisane nodded with approval, he liked a willingness to serve and get stuck in amongst the Clan's soldiers. Eventually they reached a squat mobile building and at a quick word from the accompanying sergeant Malisane was ushered quickly inside.
The Ragnos Quaestor was stood looking at a map on a table, alongside a tall verpine figure. Several officers were with them though they stood to attention when the Battlelord entered. Malisane knew both the House and Battleteam leaders, he had served with them during the previous years war with the Collective.
Xolarin turned. “Malisane,” he said by greeting, recognising the familiar armour. “How are things on Aeotheran?”
“Our forces have control of the capital,” he replied, “The Aedile is keeping things together while we assess the nature of Collective infiltration on the wider planet. We have little news from Kel Rasha.”
“I heard about Takagari's departure to join the Overlord,” Xolarin replied, “rumour has it they will choose a new Quaestor soon.”
“So I hear,” Malisane replied with a shrug, “one of the former Consuls probably.”
“Not yourself?” Xolarin asked with a raised eyebrow.
“I seriously doubt it,” Malisane replied scornfully, “I am a servant of the Clan, no more, and no less.”
“I see,” the Quaestor replied.
“So what do you need?” Malisane asked.
Xolarin glanced at Hilgrif. “Were just discussing that. As you can imagine we have many of our members are dispersed with our forces across this city, Mucenic and Markosian City, to strengthen their resolve.
“Sounds sensible,“ Malisane grunted.
The Quaestor nodded. “Unfortunately this has left us short handed here and now a problem has arisen.”
“We have received news of several devices,” the Verpine Battleteam leader added, “any of which will do serious damage to this city, and together...”
“Together they would destroy the city, the cathedral, and a significant part of the surrounding area.” Xolarin added.
Malisane took this in. “So what are you doing?”
“We have the three suspected locations,” Xolarin replied, “Hilgrif and the Night Hawks can move on two of them. We have been loaned an infiltration and demolitions specialist from the Warhost, and I would like you to accompany him to the third location.”
“Which specialist?” Malisane asked.
“Battlelord,” a familiar voice said from the corner of the room.
Malisane turned to see the black armoured clone. “Senth. I have not seen you for several weeks since Seng Karash.
The former Dlarit Advanced Commando nodded. “I was reassigned. We depart in ten minutes.”
Malisane and Senth made their way quietly through the back streets, the clone trooper leading the way. “The collective agents are holding up in a warehouse building,” Senth said quietly over the communicator. “The Ragnos Summit are concerned if they send a larger force in they may trigger the device.”
“And there are three of these?” Malisane asked.
“Possibly, though we can not be sure,” the clone replied, “If it is so then the destruction of one will likely trigger the other two. I hope the Night Hawks succeed.”
“I used to command them,” Malisane replied, “for a short time many years ago. They were good.”
“I hope they still are, “Senth replied, “otherwise we may be dead alongside everything else for miles before we even get a chance.”
“We can not worry about that,” Malisane told him, “we will concentrate on our own mission.”
“It would be a tragedy if the city and cathedral were destroyed.”
A slight smile touched the Sith's lips. “They have been before,” he muttered, “they can be rebuilt.”
“Not this time,” Senth replied, “if your information is correct there will be a crater without anything to rebuild. Of course we would not be there to see it.”
As they proceeded they heard the sound of blaster and artillery fire to the south. “It sounds like the Quaestor is moving out,” Senth observed.
“Good,” Malisane replied, “it will provide a distraction.”
“So long as it does not alarm the enemy too much,” the clone added.
Senth stopped and ducked down in an alleyway. “Our target is that building opposite.”
Malisane followed his gaze. “Guards on the outside, both entrances likely.”
Senth looked up. “I would prefer a roof assault.”
Malisane glanced at him. “You normally do.”
The clone turned to give him what would have been a withering glance had he not been wearing a helmet. “You would prefer to spend a week tunnelling in?”
“Get a move on.”
Senth looked up at the building they were sheltering under. And then with a quick burst of jet fire he quickly ascended, disappearing from view. Malisane took a breath and then grasped the side of the building and quickly dragged himself up, his bulk offset by his strength as he quickly clambered upwards before climbing over the parapet and moving over next to the clone who was watching the target.
Senth glanced at him, and then pointed. A lone guard was stood on the roof of the warehouse, blaster in hand. “I can take him,” the clone said as he readied his blaster carbine.
“If you miss you will not get a second attempt,” Malisane advised.
“If you have a better idea I would be interested.”
Malisane considered it, judging the distance. “Be ready to move.” He raised a hand and focused on the guard.
“Quietly,” Senth hissed.
The guard suddenly raised his hands to his throat gripping it through his armour, as he struggled breath. As the Sith Battlelord intensified his grip the Clone burst across the gap in the roofs with a blast of rocket booster, his arms snaking out as he grabbed the guard and thrust up through a gap in the armour with the sharp needle like blade before lowering him to the ground. A few seconds later Malisane leapt and pushed himself across the gap, landing on the roof slightly louder than the clone commando.
Senth moved over the a panel on the rooftop and knelt. “I can open this.”
“It could be a trap,” Malisane pointed out.
“It could indeed,” the clone replied, “if it is we will never know.”
There was an agonising pause, and then the clone slowly moved the panel back and looked down into the hole. Then he looked back up again.
“Setup?” Malisane asked quickly
“Thirty feel drop. Seven targets. Two previously seen outside front and back door. One by device. Two stood by windows on either side. Two resting and eating.”
“Four with rifles, two with side-arms, one by device appears to be unarmed. However he's holding what appears to be a control. Probably a dead man switch.”
Malisane nodded. The former DAC was a trained observer and his assessment was likely to be flawless. “We need to take out the one with the device. The rest are incidental.”
Senth shook his head. “Not if they message the other two cells. We do not know the Night Hawks progress.”
“If there are another two cells,” Malisane argued, “we can only deal with the present situation. Can you drop down on the one with the device?”
Senth shook his head. “No inconveniently they are not directly beneath this hatch. And in any case he only needs a second. Not even that if he just needs to let go.”
Malisane paused for a few seconds and then stood. He began to walk across the roof. “Tell me when I am over him.”
The DAC looked down into the hole, and then up at the Battlelord. “You are planning something insane?”
Senth sighed and glanced into the hole again. “Another four feet. Okay stop.”
“You are sure?”
“As close as I can tell.”
“Good.” Malisane crouched, There was a hiss as his white bladed saber ignited, and then with a sudden movement he stabbed it down into the roof. With a quick roll of his wrist he widened the hole.
“What are you planning?” the clone asked suspiciously.
“I have seen something attempted like this once. A long time ago. By one more powerful than myself.”
Senth gripped his blaster carbine. “And it worked?”
“No.” Malisane dropped the hilt of his saber into the hole he had cut, and watched it turn end over end as it fell silently through the air towards the man below. Senth ducked his head into the hatch and watched as the tiny object fell and then there was a sudden burst of energy, as the saber ignited once more in an arc that followed the spin of the blade. There was a cry of pain from the man as something slightly larger than the saber hilt flew quickly up into the air to be caught by the Battlelord who had reached one hand through the hole.
“Got it!” Malisane said in triumph as he held the disembodied hand his own, pressing the fingers closed on the switch.
Senth lowered his blaster through the hatch and fired, with one shot hitting the wounded man in the head and sending his corpse sprawling backwards away from the device. As chaos erupted below the commando dropped into the hole, firing as he fell, his jet pack boosters slowing and controlling his descent as his pinpoint shots picked off the guards by the windows. He turned as the two who had been resting got to their feet and began to run towards the device.
At that moment there was an explosion of telekinetic energy and part of the roof collapsed and the armoured battlelord dropped through the air faster than the commando. As the two guards stopped in amazement as he hit the ground hand and rolled, Malisane raised his scattergun and fired. He was not as precise a shot at the clone commando but he did not need to be. Dozens of pellets hit them, smashing through their armour and knocking them backwards bleeding from multiple impact wounds.
Malisane's hand reached out and his discarded saber flipped into his grip. Senth landed and shot the guard at the front entrance when he burst into the room, blaster raised. Malisane leapt forward to meet the rear guard and cut him savagely down. “The device!” Malisane quickly ordered.
Senth did not need to be told. He was already making for it, removing his helmet as he quickly took a device from his belt and began to work.
“Well?” Malisane demanded as Senth busied himself with the device.
“Quiet!” the clone snapped as he focused.
Malisane stood quietly watching him as the clone worked silently. The Sith had faced death many times. It had been one explosion he himself had caused that had wrecked his body and nearly killed him, all those years ago. This one likely he would not even have time to react, as possibly nor would anyone else in the surrounding area. And this was potentially one of three. Even if the clone succeeded they could still be dead in seconds.
“Done,” Senth said taking a deep breath.
“You are sure?” Malisane demanded.
Senth nodded. He raised a communicator. “Quaestor, this is Lieutenant Colonel Senth. Objective secured.” There was a pause and a crackling sound. “Sorry, did not receive message clearly. What was that about the Night Hawks?”