A message drone dropped out of hyperspace and took a moment to spin and scan the system. The onboard sensors identified that it had reached its destination, and confirming the location of its delivery, activated the high-speed sub-light thrusters and sped towards its destination as quickly as it could. The minimal IFF it bore allowed it to bypass all security checkpoints as it dove in-system at reckless speeds, dodging debris even as it hurled to its end. The glowing world of Kapsina spun slowly in space before it, the edges lit in a halo effect that would be aesthetically pleasing, if the drone could appreciate such things.
As it hit the gravitational well, the pod flipped end for end and used the same thrusters to slow just enough to drop a smaller shielded cargo into orbit with the space station, even as the inter-system jump portion tumbled and burned up in the atmosphere, leaving not even cinders to float slowly to the ground far below.
The high priority message cylinder was scooped by a fighter squadron escorting a retrieval drone, and was then taken straight to the priority hangar bay upon the Cardan III Station. The lead fighter pilot popped his canopy and quickly slid to the ground, purpose writ large across his face. As Vessicant approached the drone, a point defense system activated, ready to destroy the Sith, and itself. The Warlord produced a holo-key and moved close enough to slide it into a small slot on the drone. With a short whir, the weaponry deactivated, and a cargo container opened, revealing a small holo-communicator.
The Equite of House Plagueis palmed the cargo, turned on his heel, and strode away for the lift, flanked by his Flight Leaders. The elite pilots of the Ascendant Forces moved quickly and quietly to the Quaestor's personal quarters aboard the cramped station, knocking swiftly and waiting for the response.
The door slid open to reveal the lithe form of Libra Tzo, administrative aide and Jedi Hunter of the Dark Brotherhood, her hand already out for the parcel she knew the man to be carrying. He passed it to her gently, all too aware that he would be the one to pay, not she, if something were to happen. With a zealous grin, she stepped back as the door slid shut, and the men relaxed just an iota. They returned to the hangar deck to do a maintenance check on their birds, oblivious to the fact that what they had done was but a link in the chain of events that would see to at least one of them not returning.
The silent footfalls of the human did not disturb her Master as he meditated upon the darkness that ate at him as of late. He had not slept well in ages, and nothing she could do had been of any beneficial effect. The normally even tempered Shi'ido had been prone to dark moods and destructive rages, having gone so far as to almost execute a subordinate for nothing more than failing to make a timely report. Somehow it seemed that she was protected, and for now, could at least bring him back from the brink. As she knelt beside him and waited for his attention, she noted the deep lines etched upon his normally immaculate face. It made her tremble to see him so.
At long last, after a turning of the glass, his hand reached out, palm up. As she pressed the device into his palm, there was an audible sigh of relief and his whole posture changed.
"So, it's finally stopped."
The voice, not normal, but better than it had been, announced something she had feared. High priority package drones were a rarity these days, even more so with the advent of secure holonet. It meant that something was happening, something of import.
With a shake of himself, the Quaestor of House Plagueis turned the thin wafer of silicon over, and over again. Each time, his trouble eased, until after a few minutes, it was as if nothing had changed and the last year of worry had been erased.
Setting it down, the Obelisk depressed the signal button and waited as the codes reached out to the holonet and vanished into hyperspace.
"I don't care what you say Thran, I'm not starting a war just because you're growing bored!" Xen'Mordin Vismorsus shouted. The Quaestor of House Scholae Palatinae faced down his former Consul, determined not to overreach and destroy what was left of the legacy of Darth Sidious. The loss of Clan status had affected them perhaps the hardest, as not only their Pride had suffered in the fall. The reorganization had left several former leaders disenfranchised for their sins of leading the failed older order, others wary that they were the cause more than anything else. Even where it lacked validity, the fear had affected them all the same.
Archangel leaned against the throne, well aware that his presence was to show Thran that his status was no longer such that these things occurred in complete privacy, and that Arch's status as Aedile was of considerable weight. If Thran had proven to be a unifying factor, a powerful man willing and able to rally the Palatinaen forces to fight, it would have been different. As it stood, the man was a lightening rod for polarizing forces, between those who still worshipped him, and those who hated him with the burning passion of an enraged Rancor. His followers swarmed to his call, while others turned away every time he spoke up.
âI spend a lot of time and effort bringing back money and recruits to the Brotherhood,â spat Thran, clearly more than miffed by the Quaestorâs tone. âI keep eyes off of us by being in the right place, at the right time, to distract the Galaxy, and you canât take the time to arrange just a small entertainment? Iâm a vital part of the whole Brotherhood! Iâm a necessary piece of what keeps us afloat financially and with talent!â
With each aggressive burst of words, Thran moved ever closer to Xen until he was almost toe to toe with him at the foot of the throne. Xen had the edge of an inch and he used it.
"Just because your work as a grand playboy, and coming to find that whoring yourself out as an actor isn't fulfilling enough, doesn't mean you get to come home and demand I throw us into a conflict!" he shouted.
Thran opened his mouth as if to retort, but Xen shot him a quick but brutal glare.
âIâm not finished yet! Shut your mouth and wait!"
Thran shut his mouth and waited, his anger visible in the slight tremor of his form. "If a conflict comes, it comes. If it doesn't, it doesn't. I'm not making plans, or changing existing ones, much less discussing them with you, just because you're bloody bored!" roared Xen.
"This isn't just about me being bored!â roared Thran, his bearing changed from that of an angry supplicant to a presiding, charismatic general. âThis is about taking advantage of a weakness when it exists! We're followers of the Sith Lords, no matter what Order we belong to! Allowing weakness to exist among our brethren is a problem! We must exorcise it, and we must do so swiftly and with everything we can bring to bear! That there will be spoils and glory is just part of the bargain we struck in demanding the Power of the Force!"
Archangel stepped forward and coughed.
"If it were anything else, you'd have sent word before your departure,â he said. âYou'd have been in communication and planning with us for some time on this matter. It would have been something we built together, not something you showed up to demand."
"I'll not be denied!" Thran snapped, his illusion of savvy shattered by the cutting remark. He moved to take a step forward, only to have two lightsabers ignite in his presence.
"You will not press this further if you wish to live."
His momentum halted by Archangelâs deceivingly calm remark, the Warlord let his eyes scan the two leaders cautiously and bitterly. But he was no fool. He knew that this was not the time of place for inner conflict, when what he truly wanted was inner strength. Without another word, he turned on his heel and left the throne room.
Once he had gone, the two turned off their weapons, even as Archangel turned to Xen and spoke.
"My friend, you have a call on the secure line. It's the one you've been expecting."
The Quaestor sat himself in front of the vid console and pressed a small button. The figure of his Plagueian counterpart materialized above the table.
"I take it that all is in readiness, and the conflict is prepared? I trust that you would not have sent the communication pad this way were it not time critical."
The Sith nodded. "Thran will think that he persuaded me, and claim it as a victory that we are going to war. You of all the others know how that will play out."
One of the many benefits of Tra'an being head of House Plagueis, was that he understood the internal dynamics of his former home very well. Enough, that his response was not unexpected, or wrong either.
"Then he is to be the Vanguard leader,â the Shiâido said, his knuckles audibly cracking as he stretched them out. "Let him be the first to strike, the first to land. If he wants it so bad, his boots should be the first down, the last up, and leading as the example all the way. If he does this, then he deserves his due credit. If he doesn't, then his failure will resound all the more for his bragging and bogarting of past glory."
Tra'an's voice came clearly over the transmission, his tone and inflection carried perfectly. The intention and the emotion were preserved, something that didn't always happen.
"At this point though,â replied Xen, âit is of little consequence. Right now, what we focus on is the future. One less Clan, leaving more focus on Arcona. When only one Clan exists, all will strive for its removal. Then we may ascend together, Twin Clans, with respect and power together."
"It's settled, then. We'll meet on the outskirts of the Lorta System before jumping into Orian. That gives us a staging area close enough that we can make it in a single jump, while being far enough away from anything important to be unlikely to run into Alliance Patrols."
"I'll see you in a few days, then,â the Palatinaen declared. âNow is the time. Let it begin."
When he finished speaking, the shapeshifter terminated his end of the communication. Had he waited, he might have seen Archangel step forward from the shadows.
"Does he really believe that we will allow them to join us in being a Clan?â he demanded, his voice laced with venom. âThat we will not strike them down, after we have removed Arcona from its perch?"
Xen drew his lips into a thin line. Archangel had never warmed to Tra'an after the Shi'ido had left. After all, he considered it a betrayal that the former Quaestor of House Acclivis Draco would choose to lead somewhere else, rather than stay and support Scholae. Such just wasn't done in Archangel's mind. The Quaestor steepled his hands and rested his chin upon them.
"Sometimes, Arch,â he murmured, âin order to play the Game of Thrones, you must allow others to establish their own, before destroying them. Doing so when they have yet to even build it only encourages them to try harder. Have patience, my Aedile. The time will come."
Inos Moon 27
âCovenant reports landing operation successful, offloading supplies now.â
Lieutenant Tygh sighed. âThank you for the update, now we wait.â With the VSD Covenant on the surface of Inos 27, the Marauder Corvette Inquisitor was left patrolling the space above, with only the Assassin Corvette Exile for support, hanging in the void of space out to port.
There wasnât much to do. The Dlarit leadership had sent the three ships out here to one of the furthest-flung planetoids in the Orian System in order to establish a base to monitor incoming traffic and watch for pirate activity.
âSensor sweeps?â The Lieutenant asked.
One of her officers nodded. âNothing new.â
âRun them again, might as well, â she said, sitting back in her command chair. She stared out at the cold rock they orbited, wondering why their superiors were putting an outpost here and what she could do to get promoted.
âMaâam! Weâve found something. Thereâs a ship! Theyâre pinging us!â
âWhat? Helm, bring us about, get us in tractor beam range!â
Finally, something interesting. The Marauders were known for their high-speed and accurate tractor beams. Even before knowing what the new contact was, the Lieutenant wanted to be in a position to use those abilities.
âTarget is turning, maâam! Registering power signatures.â
They were trying to escape, without making contact. They must have been pirates. âTheyâre trying to jump to hyperspace, can we get in range?â
The Inquisitorâs engines hummed as it reached itâs maximum sublight speed. Lieutenant Tygh could see the other craft through the forward viewport now. It looked like a standard corvette. Then it stretched and disappeared as it escaped.
âDamn, did we get any reading on its identity?â
An officer looked up from her terminal. âWe didnât have time for a proper scan, but our cameras caught a strange symbol on itâs hull. Our database doesnât recognize it.â
âGreat, thatâs something. Send it to Fleet Ops.â
âPirates, â Lieutenant Tygh muttered. âWeâll space emâ sooner or later.â
**Platform Onyx 2
âWhich one of them is that?â Locke asked. He looked at the large display screen, studying the image snapped off by the Inquisitor just before itâs unknown contact had entered hyperspace.
âScholae Palatinae, â Macron spat. âWorshippers of Palpatineâs empire.â He cackled. âFools, all of them - thereâs only one empire that deserves the mantle of the Sith.â
âI wonder what they want, â Locke pondered, ignoring the reference to Naga Sadow. Reverence aside, the Consul was more interested in immediate matters.
âWhat do all darksiders want?â Macron laughed. âPower! They want power!â
âIâm not sure. We should send an envoy.â
âPah!â Macron spat. âItâs territory they want. Theyâre testing us for weakness. We should bash them around a bit. Put them back in their place.âThe Mad Alchemist let out a loud, wheezing laugh.
âI donât want open conflict if I can help it, â Locke said firmly. âMaybe we can talk to them, and resolve things peacefully.â
âP-peacefully?!â Macron stuttered. âHah! Peace? With a Dark Jedi?â He seemed suddenly serious, gesturing at the display screen. âPeace may work in the rest of the galaxy, but Dark Jedi require the language of strength, of power. We should attack these imbeciles now! Before they get any more ideas!â
Locke sighed. He really didnât want a battle if he could help it. Past experience told him to wait, but he needed Macronâs support, especially after the battle they had just fought. Their alliance was on shakey ground.
âVery well, weâll prepare the fleet, but Iâm still going to send an envoy.â
âPointless!" said Macron. "We need our warriors here!â
âSure, but one wonât hurt. Thatâs my final answer.â
"Knowing our enemies, you won't have time." Macron's voice was bitter in contempt, doubting that such tactics would be given much of a chance.
**The Silken Asteroids
The Tenacious jumped back into the edge of the field, her pilot showing extreme skill with a minimum distance entry to the huge field of hurtling rock. The Gunship sent its message to the NSD Excidium II, delivering the information that would decide how they would invade. With the odd orbit and layout of the Orian system, some targets would be easier than others, depending on the placement and orbit of the twin sons.
Xen'Mordin stood upon the bridge of his flagship, reading over the information before deciding that the intial plan of attack remained best. As the Tenacious slipped back into its place in the Order of Battle, the Palatinaen sent the last message he would send, before the conflict began.
The simple message received by Tra'an made the shapeshifter smile. Turning to the Lieutenant at the helm, he said, "Set course for Sepros, and spread the word. We jump in five."
A simple nod began the Invasion of Naga Sadow.
Vertical Approach over Sepros
The two fleets jumped in above Sepros, at the edge of the hyper limit for the Orian System. Coming in above the plane of the ecliptic, the entire system was laid out before them as if it were a painting on a wall. This time, they made no attempt to hide their presence, as the orientation changed for a dive upon the home world of the Clan of the Lion of Tarthos. Aware that they had a limited time frame to make their point, the two Houses sent no warning or declaration of war.
Tra'an's personal holo unit beeped at him, indicating that he had an incoming message. He opened it in full view of everyone on the bridge, having no interest in hiding it. The familiar form of the Chief Executive of the Dlarit Corporation, and Consul of Clan Naga Sadow, appeared in hazy tones.
"Tra'an, why are you here with Scholae Palatinae? Has the Dark Council summoned us to war again?"
The sharp tone of the questions belied the certainty that it was neither of those, as Locke projected a calm exterior. As he said this, the figure of Macron Goura Sadow appeared behind him, distinct and focused.
"I'm here for your Clan, Locke. I'm here to take away your title and render unto you that which is your due," he said. "It's time for Sadow's pretense at rising above us be revealed as a farce, and that you be returned to your place among us, if you survive."
The steady tones and rhythm of the Quaestors voice were delivered just as Locke's had been, without emotion or inflection that anything was out of the ordinary.
The sound of Macron's voice however, was not so even. "You will be destroyed, upstrat! Better than you have tried and failed to destroy the might of Sadow! We will obliterate you and your Palatinaen lackeys!" he roared.
The smile upon Tra'an's face only grew larger.
"Well then, I see that you won't negotiate to surrender, not that I would expect you to, anyways. We'll be in orbit fairly shortly. I hope that you're prepared for our arrival. I do look forward to seeing you upon the field of battle."
As Macron's anger ballooned at this statement, the connection was terminated before the Sith was given a chance to further respond. Another Lieutenant called for his attention from a different console.
"Sir, sensors show that the Sadowan fleet is rushing back into position above Sepros. They'll be there before we will."
Tra'an nodded his head, the officer returning his attention to the console. Kal stepped up next to his friend and former underling.
"So, you've finally pulled the trigger on this. Do you think that our alliance will survive?"
"I don't know. I haven't known much of anything since we started to get these visions of our destruction. If we are betrayed, then at least we will be prepared for it, as much as one can ever truly be prepared."
The softly spoken reply was barely a whisper, easily lost to anyone else but the Aedile amidst the noise of the bridge.
**NSD Excidium II
Archangel and Xen'Mordin listened in courtesy of a relay patch that had been set up for exactly that purpose. They were receiving only, and as such, Archangel did not bother to hide his remarks.
"When the time is right, we must strike to crush both forces. We must not let either survive enough to ever attempt to challenge our dominence. Through this, we will once again become a Clan."
The Quaestor listened to his Aedile speaking the very thoughts that had gone through his own head, ones he had refused to think at first. To hear it from his advisor and right hand though, left the thought whispering in his mind.
"Perhaps," said Xen, "it will depend on the timing and other issues. I'll not do so without knowing that we cannot be destroyed in the doing. Plan with care."
Archangel nodded before turning for the hatch and leaving at pace, but without appearing to hurry. Timing, would be everything.
Sadow Palace: Temple of Sorrow**
Macron raged, his anger a palpable feeling in the room, fueling the Dark Side within him, which fueled the Rage anew.
"I TOLD YOU we should have struck first!" Macron roared.
Even as he took a step in the direction of Locke, the door to the room hissed open to reveal the Proconsul Teu Pepoi. As she stepped into the room, her eyes burned with anger upon the sight of Macron.
"And if he had, then we would be defenseless right now. Even if our fleet ravaged their planets while they were here, our fleet would return to nothing but ashes and ruins!"
The statement forced the raging Sith to stop, as the logic cut through everything he was feeling with precision, forcing him to stand down.
"Even be that as it may Pepoi, this is a result of us not being feared enough. They should be so afraid to darken our doorstep, as to quiver at the thought. We must give them a reason to rue this day."
Macron's words stood as a testament to his mental prowess, as his body still vibrated from suppressed rage. The bugs crawling across the walls did nothing to help the near-Elder's temperament, as they tormented him in their own small way. Especially choosing to show up now, in a moment in which he had to be present and focused to help guide the Clan through the time ahead.
Teu stepped to the side of the door, leaving it clear. "Thank you Macron. We look forward to the enemies you will slay on the battlefield. I'll be in touch shortly if you wish guidance on where best to be for maximum effect."
Her curt tone made it clear that even at a lesser rank of power, her authority as Pro-Consul left her feeling that he owed her some respect, even as perfunctory as it may be.
Catching himself as he moved to lunge for the wife of the Fist, he instead strode out the door without looking back. Teu ignored him, as she focused her eyes upon Locke.
"You must remember that he is a bomb, waiting to explode,â she said. âConfronting him alone, even as Consul, will get you killed."
Locke rubbed his forehead as the tension drained out, before he regarded the holographic display of the Orian System.
"Come, let us plan,â he murmured. âThis will not be won by strength of arms alone."
They moved together to confer over the table.
"At least the fleet will be here in time," said Teu. "They will be our first defense, forcing them to come in from around us and through the jungle. Locke nodded.
"Be that as it may, they have us outnumbered in troops, ships, and men. This will not be an easy victory." His voice faltered for a moment, before the fire in his eyes burned brighter. "That hasn't stopped us before, though. They will pay for their impudence."
Macron strode for the hangar bay, already on the com. "Get our fighters in the air. If they can use the Force and fly a fighter, they should be lifting off now. We need to be ready to take the chances we can to bring them to their knees without ever setting foot on Sepros."
The acknowledgement came as the sirens started up, warning all in the vicinity that the Temple was preparing to be attacked.
As the fleets finally began to engage in orbit over Sepros, lasers spat multi-colored death without sound, striking fighters from the void, armor from chassis, and people from life and the Force. Each death seemed to fuel the darkness pervading the Force in the area, encouraging further destruction and violence. The rot of the Dark Side struggled to consume more of those it was a part of, aching to be set free.
As the fleets made their first passes and slugged it out, a veritable flood of ground attack ships dropped free, aiming for various cities and installations on Sepros. Those that made it, would be in for a rough time on the forested surface. Invasion, they would soon find, was a difficult concept on a world that resisted on its own, much less with the help of its inhabitants.
The Events for Week One
Fiction (Assassination): Depending on what unit youâre in:
HSP/PLA: You have been tasked with assassinating a Dlarit rebel leader in the captured city of Kel Rasha on Aeotheran. Intelligence indicates that they make frequent trips to more seedy local bars at night, and are usually accompanied by a couple of guards. Write how you would accomplish this task in at least 700 words. Judging will be based on creativity and realism. Send entries to [Log in to view e-mail addresses]
CNS: In the chaos of war, the city of Kel Rasha and the spaceport located nearby have been captured by enemy forces. Your mission is to assassinate a PLA military leader at the spaceport located there. Intelligence indicates that they make frequent trips to the local bars in the city at night, and are usually accompanied by a couple of guards. Write how you would accomplish this task in at least 700 words. Judging will be based on creativity and realism. Send entries to [Log in to view e-mail addresses]
Poetry: Choose and write one of the following sets: four haikus, three limericks, one sonnet, or one standard poem of at least fourteen lines on subjects related to the events of Week One. No free verse allowed. Grading with be based on creativity and adherence to your chosen form of poetry. Send entries to [Log in to view e-mail addresses]
GFX: Create a graphic depicting a moment from your unit as it prepares to go into battle. Minimum image size of 800 x 800.
Wiki: As a unit, work on a wiki page to record what happened during this feud. This even will be graded on what is posted on the pre-created wiki pages at the deadline of Week 3 Events. It will also be graded based on thoroughness, presentation and proper wiki coding. It is up to you as units to decide how you want to present the feud, and what information you wish to include.
Earn the most Clusters from non-TOR games.
Earn the most Clusters from TOR Group-gaming
ACC: This event runs through weeks one and two, in 2+2 battles with a 72 hour time limit, to be conducted in the Combat Center. Three special introductory arenas will be made for these matches, and the last possible day to sign up will be Friday August 3rd.
Send ALL ENTRIES to [Log in to view e-mail addresses]
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