Sepros Atmosphere, Two Klicks From South-Eastern Firebase
"They have Anti-Air units in place! Not much threat, but enough to make this a fun flight!" The grinning Guardian's hands danced across the console, the Firespray twisting and weaving to his commands.
Despite being hopeless on the ground, the kid had a true gift when seated at the controls of a spacecraft. The ship suddenly lurched to port and then dropped several hundred feet to avoid the increasingly accurate ground fire, leaving Traâanâs stomach behind. The Quaestor choked back the words of caution that threatened to escape his lips, knowing that the fewer distractions the young pilot had to deal with the better. A somewhat adventurous LAAT/i broadcasting a Scholae identity code settled in behind them and peppered the Chaserâs shields, but Zuser simply rotated the blaster cannons to the rear and blew the repulsorcraft from the sky.
âSee, easy,â Zuser said with grin.
As the ship came in on the remains of the Firebase, Zuser used the turbolasers to lay down suppressing fire against the scattered Scholae and Sadowan forces as he swung the ship in over the landing zone.
Keying the tail hatch to open, Zuser said,"Give them hell Master, and tell them I said hi!"
The Shi'ido's brow twitched at the cheerful nature of his apprentice, before a rueful chuckle escaped and with a wave, he turned to the hatch. As the tail hatch opened to the roaring wind of the Sepros, made worse by the repulsor backlash from the Firespray's powerful engines, Tra'an jumped the ten feet to the ground, landing gracefully, his white armor gleaming in the sun. The Chaser, having deposited its passenger, shot back into the sky.
As he straightened, a burst of fire from a carbine streaked towards him like messengers of death, only to be deflected by his copper-colored lightsaber as it shimmered into existence. the metal-hued blade hummed quietly as it lowered into a defensive position, Locke emerging from the Jungle with his carbine aimed at the opposing leader. Methyas emerged beside him, azure saber like a blue beacon in the hazy, late-day atmosphere.
"Well, I was hoping to see you here. It's high time we finished this." Tra'an's calm remark as he started forward was met with a laugh from Methyas.
"And what makes you think we'd let him engage in one on one combat with you? Just to satisfy your personal need for bloodlust?" Reith looked at him with something akin to contempt mixed with a hint of suspicion. The similar looks from Kal and and Kuro seemed to fixate on him as well.
"Why not? You have a couple squads of support troopers and an Exarch and a Priest. I've got a Templar, a Warlord, Several Knights, several Journeymen, and myself. This isn't a fair fight. One on one? It at least gives him the chance to defend the honor of his Clan." At this, a laugh broke out among the Plagueians. Inspite of being betrayed, they still felt contempt at the forces of Sadow.
Locke, looking at the forces arrayed against him, determined that it was the best choice.
"It's not like you can win anyways. I'll enjoy taking you down and furthering the humiliation of your defeat. Methyas was right. Capturing you would have been a foolish idea, even if we had the forces to do so." Locke's response was pointed, almost bitter in the realisation that these foes would never have given any quarter. Not a single ounce. As the others had tried to warn him time and again, unlike in business, there could be no negotiation. This wasn't business, it was personal.
Kal's eyes narrowed even further, hand signals flashing back and forth between him and Primus Pilus as they spread out to secure the immediate perimeter, close enough to retreat in a hurry, diverse enough not to die in a single ambush or well placed shot. He didn't trust that there wasn;t yet some trick to this.
Locke handed his carbine to a nearby soldier, giving up his pistol as well, and went out to meet Tra'an upon one of the few remaining patches of flat, level ground. The Shi'ido moved to square off and start with a normal opening, but Locke didn't stop, even as he gave the traditional Makashii salute. Breaking into a dash, the yellow lightsaber slashed outwards in a flurry, before switching into special maneuver known as "clearing the path".
Each blow of the flurry was blocked and redirected away from the shapseshifter with a close, mastered competency in the defensive arts. Each incoming strike was turned away wide, even as the next came in to strike again. The special Makashii technique to open his opponent's defenses was met by a parry and return flurry of molten copper. Each blow forcing Locke back a step as his own parries, while perfect, weren't up to defensive perfection of misdirection employed by the Prelate.
"You will die here, Reith!" yelling in anger, the Force seeped into the Sadowanas he summoned a mid-size chunk of nearby duracrete from the destroyed base at an oblique angle, intended to inflict serious injury, or even serve as distraction long enough to open a hole in the perfect defense that had yet to be penetrated. Whispering in the Obelisk's ear, the Force warned of the impending projectile, and it seemed that nothing had been done, until it slammed into a barrier just behind the Paladin.
"The Force comes when you call, Locke, and it whispers to me when I am in danger. You will not win" Even in the heat of combat, the Plagueian's calm remained, serving to only further enrage to the Consul across from him. As they engaged again and again, flurryies, parries, and other tactics were employed, discarded, managed, and defeated as fast as the eye could blink.
The ground underneath their feet changed from perfect terrain, to something far less so, strewn with rubble as they moved back and forth, ending up inside the ruined Firebase. Stepping on a piece of rubble, Tra'an slipped long enough for Locke to score a small slice on one cheek, leaving a sizzle of flesh and a grunt of agony.
Clamping down on the pain, and turning it into fuel, the shapeshifter aggressively engaged the human, ending with their lightsaber spitting sparks and hissing as they struggled. Tra'an's superior strength was slowly edging out the former Aedile of Shar Dakhan, but it was by no means a sure thing. As it seemed like Sonje was almost ready to give, a powerful upwelling of energy slammed into the Quaestor and sent him flying backwards.
Reith grunted upon impact, his whole body stinging from the pain.
"Like that? It's one of our gifts from the last Great War. I didn't have enough time to really make it hurt, but I think you get the idea," Locke taunted.
With a chuckle, the Obelisk got up slowly, again drawing upon the Force to ease the pain. "Is that so?" Green eyes boiling like the seas of Kamino, the humanoid grinned. "Let me show you what our very own power is like." Drawing further upon the power within, he crafted a spear of Force energy, hefting it as if it were a physical object. Locke looked curiously at the gesture, not quite getting it, even as Tra'an lifted and hurled the powerful weapon.
At the last moment, the Force whispered to Locke and warned him of the dangerous nature of the motion, and helped to guide him aside, even as the energy surged past, ripping the edges of his uniform and leaving a raised welt on his side.
The Force too flowed through him, easing the pain and dulling it to nothing. The sound of the explosion from the impact of the spear upon a ruined slab of duracrete and the resulting patter of dust and minute debris distracted him long enough for Tra'an to close the gap, once again leaving them locked together over blades of cousin hues.
"This will not end well for you Locke. Not at all." The snarled threat seemed to gain weight as once again, the Quaestor pushed...
INT Atrum Pars II Command Bridge
The bridge of the Atrum Pars II was a study in controlled chaos. The ship had stayed out of the fighting for the most part, waiting to see if her gravity wells would be needed to catch any Naga Sadowans trying to escape. Not that it was Naga Sadow that needed to escape. The betrayal of Scholae Palatinae had changed that, and now Plagueis was making its retreat.
Amidst all this Solus Gar stood watching in the alcove just off the bridge. His new Quaestor had been reticent to give him an chance to prove himself, not trusting the new arrival to the house. And so Gar had remained exiled from the combat and fighting that was now falling apart, serving merely as an advisor to the vesselâs master.
âSir!â one of the junior officers called out, âweâve lost all communications from the Ballista!â
âAs was to be expected, lieutenant,â Captain Upham replied. âTheyâve covered the retreat with their lives.â
Solus could feel it in the Force, the Ballista was dead in space. It was not, however, totally destroyed. A skilled salvage team would be able to restore the vessel to operational status. A skilled Sadowan salvage team most likely with the way things were going. Part of warfare was to ensure you robbed your enemy of any additional victories, even if you were mired in defeat.
âCaptain, you must set course for the Ballista,â Solus instructed. âIt just be kept out of the hands of our enemies.â
âI donât think so, Sith,â the captain replied, thinly veiled condescension coloring his tone. âWe are in no position to rescue it or destroy it. So we will stay right where we are and obey our orders.â
Solus was across the bridge in a flash, his saber flaring to life. The orange blade swiftly cut the captain down, the man having just enough time to utter a scream that trailed off into a wet gurgle.
âNow set course, commander,â Solus ordered, addressing the shipâs executive officer.
Commander Cyvaria Ronin swallowed spoke to the the helmsman. âYou heard him, make your course 317 mark 231, best speed.â
âYou look troubled, commander,â Solus observed.
âItâs just I canât see the point of this,â she said over her shoulder. âThe captain was right, we canât destroy the ship quickly enough with our weapons. The tractor beams we have arenât suited for towing a capital ship, either. Theyâre designed for auxiliary craft recovery.â
âCome now,â Solus said as he stepped over Uphamâs corpse and sat in the command chair, âcreativity can solve any problem. If the Sadowans want the Ballista, I say we give it to them.â
VSD Instigator Command Bridge
âWhat is that fool Upham up to,â Dacien Victae wondered aloud.
âIâm not sure, my lord,â the communications officer replied. âI get no reply to my hails.â
âIt appears that the Atrum Pars is headed for the Ballista,â the sensor officer reported.
âDoes he think he can save them? Theyâre all dead,â Dacien said.
Turning towards his displays, the Sith watched as the Atrum Pars II made a close approach to the Ballista in low orbit. The light tractor beam system aboard the Interdictor activated with the Victory destroyer as its target. But the smaller ship couldnât tow the destroyer, and none of their ships present could accelerate the hulk to lightspeed.
âEmperorâs black bones,â the sensor officer whispered from his station.
âReport!â Dacien ordered as he whirled on the ensign.
âThe Ballista is losing orbital velocity, my lord. Itâs headed for the planet!â the sensor officer responded.
Daicen looked out the viewports and could just see the first tell tale red fire along the Ballistaâs nose that signaled her contact with the atmosphere.
âCommunication from the Atrum Pars!â the communications officer shouted. âTo all units!â
The communications officer directed the signal to Dacienâs station. The figure on the screen was Solus Gar, not Severus Upham. âTo all Plagueis units still on the Sepros. The Star Destroyer Ballista has been disabled in orbit. In order to prevent her capture, it has been deorbited and is now heading for the surface. Impact has been calculated in X minutes and the coordinates of the Plagueis command post and landing zone. Any forces not off planet in time will not survive to be captured.â The transmission ended without waiting for any reply.
âWe have enemy ships closing on the Atrum Pars, my lord. The Harbinger and the Covenant,â the sensor officer reported.
Dacien knew that the Interdictor couldnât survive the combined onslaught of two Star Destroyers, realizing that the ship was most likely lost. As the two larger ships closed on the Plaguies ship, however, something strange happened. The Atrum Pars vectored its bow away from the planet and then suddenly shot forward, its course taking it directly between the two approaching enemy destroyers and towards open space. The two Sadowan ships could do nothing more then exchange weak fire as the Interdictor passed as any misses would have passed on to hit their opposite number.
âThey reversed the gravity wells...â Dacien said with quiet amazement.
âMy lord?â the sensor officer inquired.
âIf you reverse the gravity well projectors aboard an interdictor, they repel instead of attract. The Atrum Pars wasnât going to be repelling Sepros, so instead Sepros repelled the ship,â Dacien explained. âTakes an experienced officer to pull it off correctly, and it plays havoc with the gravity fields. But it works.â
âMy lord,â the communications officer interrupted, âreceiving a message from the flagship. Apparently, Supreme Commander Reith is still on the surface.â
Sepros Surface - South Eastern Firebase
ââ¦ Any forces not off planet in time will not survive to be captured.â The transmission that had issued forth from the various PA systems around the the camp cut off as suddenly as it had begun.
With their lightsabers locked together, the Consul and the Quaestor glanced skyward. A ball of fire was already streaking across the sky, growing larger by the second.
âWe could stay here and finish this,â Locke said, âbut I donât think the victor would survive.â
Traâan gritted his teeth, anger at his Houseâs betrayal and further losses at the hands of the
Sadowans clouding his judgement. âI donât care. If I have to die in fire to ensure your death at my hands, so be it.â
The Quaestor pulled back his saber and moved to strike out against his opponent once more, but his fate was not to stay and fight. A chunk of broken stone, rubble from the continuing combat, flew swiftly up from the ground to strike Traâan in the back of the head. The blow, taking him from his feet, deposited his unconscious body in a heap.
Locke looked beyond his opponent and met the gaze of Kal Vorrac. âDo you intend to leave him then?â Locke inquired.
âNo, I act to save him from himself,â the Aedile replied.
âHow very un-Sith of you,â Locke said with a hint of mirth in his tone.
The Consul of Naga Sadow raised his saber in a salute, and then retreated back the way he had come. Methyas took one last look at his opponents, then he too turned and walked into the trees.
âZuser, circle back around and pick us up,â Kal ordered into his commlink.
âHeâs not going to be happy with you when he wakes up,â Kuro mused as Zuser acknowledged Kalâs command.
âHappy, no,â Kal said, âbut alive.â
Sepros Surface - Approaches to South Eastern Firebase
Major Tendrel Ilari was rather pleased with himself. His forces had run rampant across the surface of Sepros, all for the greater glory of Scholae Palatinae. They had crushed the Sadowan resistance, and inflicted grievous injury upon the unsuspecting forces of Plagueis. Now, they had nearly chased the Plagueis force off of the planet, and stood ready to capture their last stronghold.
âLieutenant,â Ilari called, âhow much longer before our flanking forces are in position for the final assualt?â
âTwo minutes,â the fresh faced lieutenant replied.
Suddenly, the Majorâs comm unit began to signal. âMaybe theyâre in position early,â the Major surmised and clicked over to receive. âMajor Ilari here.â
âMajor! Disengage immediately! Do you copy! The Ballista is coming down on your position!â the panicked voice on the other end of the line ordered.
Major Tendrel was confused at the message, but that lasted only a heartbeat. Looking to the sky, his eyes took in the massive arrowhead of fire that was silently falling towards him. His brain had just enough time to realize that the ship had to be traveling faster than its own sound, and so seemed to make no noise, before it blasted into the ground before him and his world was replaced by a bright flash of white.
Exidium II Command Bridge
Xenâmordin didnât need the sensor systems to detect the explosion of the Ballista as it impacted the surface of Sepros, he could see it with his unaided eyes out the viewports. The inferno had released enough energy to transform the area around it into a small sun for but a moment. In that moment, however, everything had changed. He had been following the progress of his forces pursuing those of House Plagueis and so he knew just how many men he had lost in that explosion. It wasnât an insurmountable blow, but it was a heavy one nonetheless.
âArchangel, signal the retreat,â Xen ordered, turning to face the holo projection of his second.
Even as a tiny hologram, Archangelâs face was a mask of anger. âRun? We can still win!â
âThe price would be too high, taking our prize would leave us too weak to hold it,â Xen replied. âBesides, weâve already broken Plaugeis and Naga Sadow has felt our strength. We need not push ourselves beyond reason. Send the signal.â
Kapsina Orbit NSD Ascendancy, Admiral's Quarters
One Week Later
Tra'an Reith stood relaxed, hands behind his back as he gazed out at the familiar stars of the Jusadih system. It had been over a week, and the loss of the Ballista had cast a pall over the efforts on Sepros. It had been a costly battle, but Plagueis had weathered the storm. Their operations in Kel Rasha had been successful, however, so it wasnât a total loss. The coffers of Plagueis were far more full then they had been when their attack had begun.
âTotal losses from the Orian Incursion,â Kal said as he appeared by Traâanâs side, datapad in hand.
âLater,â Traâan replied, setting the datapad on the table beside him. âWe have something else to discuss, you and I.â
âI merely acted in your own best interest,â Kal said, âeven if you didnât realize what that was at the time.â
âWell, then I defer to your judgement,â Traâan said theatrically, âthis time. Just donât let it happen again.â
*Week Two and Three Results *
The Results of Week Two are Judged! They will be released tomorrow when they are awarded! The Wiki, the ACC, and the Run On's are judged as well! All that remains is the Week Three Events which are almost finished! We hope to have them to you soon!
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