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Nar Shaddaa


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So the Rebel Alliance was now bringing their entirety to bear. As the holo display continued to grow with the inbound rebel ships Delta narrowed his eyes. If they had this many ships, and by the look of some of the derelicts, why had they not brought them earlier? Why had they not thrown this fleet at the Sith on Onderon, or Coruscant, or Kuat, or even bleeding Corellia? Why had they wasted so many damn lives on defeats when these fleets were just sitting around doing nothing? It was shocking that the Rebels thought so little of their men and women that they had kept these fleets in reserve for so long. 

 

It was like the end of a bad holofilm where the protagonists were saved by a thousand allied starships appearing out of nowhere and crescendoing in a cavalry charge on top of a star destroyer. But at least in this engagement the Sith fleet could actually fly up. So they would probably win. 

 

There was a victory of sorts to be found here. They still had the element of surprise and tactical superiority. Plus. The Sith did not intend to win here. They intended to exact from the Rebel Alliance the highest toll imaginable. They would bleed them of their best, cutting down every strong man and every moff, killing the best of the Alliance. To leave the rebuilding in the weakest hands. 

 

But it was time to act. And a single code word echoed through the comms of all channels. 

 

Gravemind

 

The Force moved heavily through the battlefield as the crews of the Sith ships surrendered to the gravemind. Bowing their wills to the Mad Hutt’s. Voluntarily giving their autonomy to write an epitaph on the headstone of the Rebel Alliance. 

 

THE GRAVEMIND

 

For dearest Draygo. Likely the best Jedi Grandmaster the Sith have faced. 

 

For her the Gravemind wrought a foul and bitter harvest. As the Sith and Black Sun missile ships continued their destructive bombardment of the surface. A swarm of autonomous drones were released from the docking bays of the Victory class star destroyers. Nothing more than a preprogrammed directional stabilizer and rocket engine strapped to a forty by three foot spike of solid tungsten. This was the second strike of the Delta Zero command. A kinetic bombardment of thousands of tonnes of tungsten, slamming into the densely packed city scape of the Smuggler's Moon. Not to mention the additional nuclear warheads streaming towards the planet’s surface. 

 

Because sometimes. No matter what the Jedi did. Innocents died for no reason. 

 

It was kinda like Coruscant 2.0. But without the celestials showing up for some weird reason. Or maybe it was like Kuat or Kamino, where the Jedi themselves killed trillions. But that narrative was played out. It was boring. It was over. It was time to move on. It was time to move past all the defeats and victories, the highs and lows, the little things, like the totally preventable death of a famous husband after a colossal defeat at Onderon. 

 

For Slaughter. That Great and Steadfast Admiral. 

 

For him the Sith had prepared a special surprise. This was not the first time the Rebel Alliance had reverted to fireships in their efforts to defeat the Scarab. This current battle reflected that old encounter almost ship for ship. And the surprise was the same as it had been at Onderon. 

 

Tucked behind the Super Star Destroyer a blinding white flash exploded forth towards the cluster of new Rebel arrivals on their inbound trajectory. The Sith had played their sabaac hand straight. Relying on doctrine and trusted tradition to deal with an enemy that had never really learned their lessons. For this was the same wave of white hot ion that had trapped the Galactic Alliance Cruisers Starlisk and Wrendui in the Battle of Onderon. That self same doom that had befallen the peaceful Jedi cruisers Sar's Silver and the Patogga and left their crews to be slaughtered. The Ilk of Ion, that great sith Destroyer, had made itself known once again. 

 

Perhaps one day the Sith would make a fateful error. But it was not this day. They had come here with only one objective. To destroy the Rebel alliance as a fighting entity for the next generation and beyond. And if Slaughter survived to see the next grand Sith crusade, perhaps he would see the cross the T. But for now there was much bitter fighting to be done. And it was up to the heavy turbolasers of the Sith to do their business. Picking off the junk and fireships with the ease of a casual day of target practice. While the rest of the thousands of gunners calmly and methodically engaged their targets. 

 

Slaughter and his little suicide mission would be dealt with in a similar fashion. Turbolaser batteries and ion cannons, laser cannons, and missile projectors raining hell onto the small and now virtually unescorted taskforce. 

 

Sith starfighters moved in great waves and screens between the lines of firing ships. Trading evenly with their rebel counterparts. Aces were made, defended, and died. While bombers dipped and made their runs on the Fidelity and its escorts. 

 

Smaller cruisers, frigates, and corvettes engaged each other in stark and bitter battles that by themselves could have filled the strategy books for a generation of cadets at the Imperial Academy at Carida. But were totally unnoticed and unseen except by their own crews and opponents as they ruthlessly fought and died. A web of gravemind spreading out, feasting on the death, the anger, and the despair of everyone it touched. 

 

For Kolchak. The Moff. 

 

Lord Mavenger, Lord Akheron, and the Mad Hutts forces themselves pushed deeper into the Rebel lines. Taking heavy losses, but being replenished by the sudden arrival of the last of Lord Mavenger’s forces. Two looming Lucrehulk-class battleships that emerged from hyperspace from their basing yard at Geonosis, their presence adding to the timeless feeling of the great battle. 

 

Only time would tell if the Moff could hold his command with confidence. The rebels, no matter how many new forces they pulled out of hyperspace, were going to take a decimation that would make Alderaan and Caamas look pathetic. 

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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On 4/11/2022 at 8:05 PM, Atrid Torsen said:

       Fiochmar listens to Mavanger as he speaks nodding in understanding of the direction given to him.  "Yes Master, as you say so shall it be done!" Fioch points to the remaining Sith infantry and snaps. "You lot with me we have our marching orders lets go!" He barks out and takes off in the direction of the escape pods at a run with the rest of the Sith Infantry on his heels, as they're on the way out he hears the sound of a battle happening behind him stopping momentarily to gaze upon the events unfolding. Watching the first few exchanges with a look of wide eyed interest he eventually shakes his head back and forth bringing himself to reality again.

       

       "Everyone on my heels now let's get our job done for the Empire!!!" Fiochmar shouts leading his men from the area and in the direction of the escape pods or rather the direction he feels they'd be in. This is his first real task for the Empire and his first mission ever to complete and he's on his own. He turns that anxiety, fear, and nervousness into the power of rage and anger and uses that to fuel his ambitions and desires to complete the mission and prove himself worthy of the teachings. His steps measured and fast, he moves with a sense of purpose and fueled by his rage and his recent communing with the dark side he uses this to fuel his movements and his muscles to move faster and with more dexterity.  His body energized and reinvigorated as his adrenaline pumps, a grin on his face as he turns a corner leaving the hanger bay.

          

 

What started as a way back to command for further orders turned into a nightmare. In one instant, Tilt was looking over his weapon as he, his brothers and other soldiers were being delivered via transport shuttle to the Misericordia however the next he was stirring on the ground. He felt his body being dragged hurriedly and distant shouting, everything seemed like a daze. And then he was sat up against a surface and someone ripped the Clones helmet off and started to slap his face while screaming at him as well. 

 

Tilt looked over as his hearing was slowly regaining, bolts of blues and greens and reds soared through the air of a shuttle bay, one of the ships attempting to take off was shot down by two rockets, one at the thrusters and another at the cockpit taking the pilots out immediately. His head was forced back to the young soldier who was still shouting, and he could the end of, "-we can't take you if you're not awake, get up!" 

 

With a grunt Tilt shoved the soldier back and slid his helmet back on. He quickly checked his surroundings to see that the other Clones weren't nearby but that the Rebel and Remnant forces were being pushed back. Tilt hefted the WESTAR blaster which had been slung around his shoulder, realizing the dire situation. They were behind supply crates, and the number of soldiers left against the Sith forces were one to four. This was not good at all. The young soldier shouted a few things and the forces started to pull back to a doorway nearest to them. 

 

The Clone Captain only followed suit covering fire for whomever were left. Tilt immediately darted for the door itself, luckily shots on him were missed. As soon as he and one other were through the sliding door was sealed shut with someone already rigging the ceiling with explosions. The Clone Captain counted five, excluding himself and the person lodging grenades into the metallic light fixtures and anywhere he could. A Corellian Rebel spoke up first in an urgent tone, "H-Hey! Where's the sarge? He was right behind us, wasn't he?!"

 

The young man who had woken Tilt up replied, "Got gunned down. Our South side of the hangar bay was hot hard, the Northern opposite last I saw was holding up their position well. Other than that, we need to reinforce other positions, possibly anywhere that's being suppressed. Thompson, I need you to dig into the ship's diagnostics and see where we are needed. Kray, are the explosives set?" 

 

The Mon-Kal demolitionist turned and said, "Ready. The ceiling for ten feet should come down from this, preventing anyone from trying to crack through." 

 

"Right, good then. And you," The Corellian turned to Tilt who looked back at him, "You're lucky we got you outta there. Sith forces have breached the ship, I'm.not sure how everyone else is gonna hold out there but I can only pray. What's-" 

 

"Corporal, someone's trying to sabotage the escape pods!" Thompson said, looking through a datapad he had built into his gauntlet. 

 

The 'Corporal' cleaned his head and replied, "Are there any forces heading there?" 

 

"Negative… Not sure if whoever was there was taken out or if no one's caught it yet. I'm looking through a live feed right now." 

 

"Damnit!" The Corporal said through gritted teeth, then looked to Tilt, "You, I'm not certain who you are but we could probably use your help. You're coming with me and Corporal Lance Kray'Fesh. The rest of you, listen up! You'll report immediately to the nearest point of defense. Help anyone out on the way, this ship needs all the help we can get." 

 

"With all due respect, "Sir," but I don't think it's a good idea to split, what if we all-" One of the Privates of the group was cut off immediately. 

 

"-I don't care what you think, right now we have multiple breaches on board. We have scattered groups across the ship that need the help, so shit up, and follow orders. Kray, Soldier, you're with me!" 

 

Before anyone else could protest, they set off to the AO where the pods would be. They sprinted hard and every now and again would stop to take out Sith forces, aid whoever on the way, and push forward. Tilt was silent most of the time unless he was "giving and order" which greatly affected their teamwork in a beneficial way. He was a veteran of warfare, CQC more specifically, and had done sweeps across facilities and tight spaces whilst rushing an objective. Their team was narrowed down to two when Kray was hit hard in the leg, the Corporal quickly covering for him as Tilt finished the small squad of enemies. 

 

"You should get him back to a medic, I can handle this." Tilt said solemnly, not bothering to look back as he had his sights aimed down the hall. 

 

"Negatory, we're gonna-" The Corporal started, but Tilt had his turn to cut someone off now. 

 

"Captain Tilt of the former Grand Army of the Republic, now Captain of the Ground Forces of the Imperial Remnant and Rebel Alliance. I'm giving you an order to move back, I can handle this, Corporal." Tilt, without giving the individuals time to react pushed onward to his objective. He ran as fast as he could, thankfully running into no one in particular until reaching the operation point. The bay where the escapes were in was a medium sized room (going based off of assumptions here), while it has plenty of space it had no doors allowing immediate access to whomever. 

 

Tilt had taken cover behind a crate in an upper level of the room, pillars scattering the back of the elongated room that acted as supports for the second level with two sets of stairs. He waited for his opportunity aiming his semi-auto blaster for where the enemy was supposedly supposed to come through. The moment he allowed the first several individuals to enter, he would start the fun by downing them quickly. 

 

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Anger leeched off of him in waves. Pouring like scarlet blood from every pore, fueling him even as it ate away at his very being. Rage at everything in his life. His long and eternal struggle, his bitterness, his loneliness. They screamed off of him and into the force. Frustration with everything that had brought him here. Every choice his own. His Vengeance which was still trapped by chains he himself could not break. It was tragic. Like a man picking at his own scabs and complaining about the blood that dripped from his fingers. Her heart ached for him. 

 

What was the pity that stirred in her heart? Was it the same pity she had seen when the beggars cried for credits at the street corners? That same pity that caused her to reach for her ration cards and press them into dirty and grimy hands? No. It was the pity of seeing what a great man he could have been, had another choice been presented to him those many years ago. What great good could have lain behind that shattered mask and bloodied face? What vision was there for a man that had caused the deaths of everyone he had ever loved, yet continued down the path of the damned?

 

Forgive him

 

A strange prayer of meditation on her lips. Not for herself, not for her empress, but for the man who roared in rage before her. Two years ago she would have tried to kill the man without a second thought. Writing him up as too far gone and too much trouble to deal with. And did not this man have enough chances to redeem himself? Did he not come to kill them all and bring ruin to the world five thousand kilometers below them? 

 

A law court would call for his head. Even the moffs would call for her to show no mercy. Her compatriots in the revanchist rebellion against the Jedi would call for a swift death to the Sith Master. But the Imperial Knights were no servants of law. They were servants of the Force itself. And the force called for a different approach. 

 

And what better weapon against vengeance was there than forgiveness, love, and mercy?

 

And as the Sith moved from his crouch, she felt the force move within her. An emotion called out from her past, driving an unbidden smile to her stern face. She was grateful. Grateful for the Jedi that had raised her, grateful for the warm and loving hands that had led her down the path of compassion. She was grateful for the life that she had lived, the good  she had brought to the galaxy, the stands against injustice she had made. And grateful that the force had given her this last opportunity to clash with Vengeance

 

Two strikes came, carried with the strength and accuracy that a Sith in a berserking rage was known for. She could feel his anger with every stroke. Every fell hammering blow coming with the power of a mountain of rage behind them. Both swords swinging up towards her stomach as he rose, and she let them spend their strength in the air as she took a small step back onto her back foot. Relying on her enhanced speed and agility to clear her centimeters away from the tips of the dark blades. Her own saber held in a high guard. 

 

She would have counter attacked then, taking the opportunity to strike at his exposed side again, but the rage was on him and it was all that she could do to keep her defense up. His two blades striking at her head and shoulder, forcing her to duck into a crouch to avoid getting beheaded, the last strike gouging through the armor on her shoulder and opening a red wound in the flesh above the end of her clavicle. Before her lightsaber deflected it up and away.

 

But his knee was coming up towards her side as she summoned the force to her. Bringing her right hand off the saber guard and slapping it against his thigh. The force crashing as a pearl white barrier that deflected the majority of the power of the blow before his kneecap slammed into her side. 

 

Pain flared like a thousand suns in her side, illuminating to a broken rib or two. The Sith’s attack had found purchase, but she was not dead. Not broken. And she was inside his guard.

 

He had overextended. Overeager for a killing blow that would bring his Vengeance. For anger and rage were double edged blades. Easily destroying wielder as well as prey.  

 

She stepped past him. Relying on her force enhanced speed as to not get caught by whatever blow would come next. Their bodies were so close as she passed that she could taste the rage in him, bitter and bloody on her tongue. Her saber arm struck at the same time as her other hand. Saber towards the underside of his arms, while her fingers struck at his bare and exposed eyes where her first blow had found purchase. Striking with the speed and power of the force as she stepped by him and back into a high guard. Her breathing ragged from the pain in her side. 

 

It would be enough to bring the fight to an end. To leave the man without his vengeance and a last path to redemption. To break the chains that still held him to a dark and bitter path. 

 

((3))

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Lord Commander Raphenel Karlovci Contispex- Imperial Warden

 

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There was a shrill, cold, quivering undertone in The Force. For the moment, the veteran Jedi was forced to ignore it even as it sidled just behind her ear, like the glass-cracking shriek of a miscalibrated repulsorlift; as she wove between turbolaser blasts so closely that the interceptor’s shields triggered and she took every opportune moment to make a deflection shot on the siege torpedoes, there was no time to allow herself to be distracted. There was just the revving thrum of her engines and the splash-hiss of her ion cannons; the whine as failing rocket engines careened away in unpredictable directions; the steady trickle of terabytes of data that bombarded her sensors.

 

Each missile that she disabled might result in millions saved, but it wasn’t enough. Another countermaneuver was countered by yet another escalation by the Sith, and even a Jedi Ace couldn’t possibly keep up with the obscene expenditure of arms deployed against Nar Shaddaa.

 

Unless… and Armiena grinned at the thought of this counter… she resorted to something unbelievably stupid and potentially suicidal. But, if she pulled it off and survived the attempt… The explosion alone would be something that no one, not even the lingering Sith reinforcements or the embattled Rebel Alliance could possibly ignore.

 

Now, as the Jedi Grandmaster’s flight ascended towards the Victory-class Star Destroyers bombarding the moon, a pause could be discerned in the disabling shots against the siege torpedoes. Draygo reached out and probed the weapons with a momentary glance from The Force, searching for that quivering ball of mass and energy that was waiting for the necessary impetus to detonate. Hidden in a nest of superconducting fiber that defied any attempts at comprehension, she found that baradium core and the over-engineered detonators. As expected, the primary trigger was a bullet of ultra-dense metal that trembled with radioactivity. That mechanism was simple enough. Triggering it was going to require closing the distance and a second of level flight--not exactly conducive to survival.

 

Armiena’s grin grew wider. This was stupid--and more importantly, impossible--and yet it was what The Force required.

 

Dark Fire raced along the gray surface of the Star Destroyer, tracked desperately by the Star Destroyer’s close-range defenses and a wing-pair of interceptors. A juke to port threw off her pursuers; they were clearly anticipating a strafing run on the bridge. Rather, the troublesome Jedi fighter scrambled along the lateral trenches and sprinted towards one of the ventral torpedo launchers, where a siege torpedo had just been loaded into the tube and would be launching any moment. For just a moment, Armiena released her grip from the controls of her interceptor and stared into the expanding barrel. Those controls weren’t going to matter in a couple of seconds…

 

A halo of light flared around the edges of the tube. Yet another city-killing missile was launched from the barrel. Armiena formed a fist in The Force and punched its radioactive detonator straight back into the baradium core of the warhead.

 

Lacking atmosphere, mass, or much of any medium for the warhead to transfer its energy into, the weapon translated most of its power directly into various forms of radiation and electromagnetic activity: some of that was visible in the form of a white-hot flare of light that could have been seen from Nal Hutta, but just as much became higher-energy wavelengths that played havoc with unprotected electronics and fried unprotected flesh. As for the electromagnetic pulse, the Victory-class Star Destroyer and its peers were practically point-blank range to the missile.

 

As was Armiena’s starfighter.

 

The Jedi Grandmaster jerked back as her sensors were shuttered as though a black bag had been placed over her head--the engines died and the interceptor began to drift, gently spinning to port. The interior was utterly dark and silent, lacking any sign of activity save for the presence of a single sapient life-form. Nor was it utterly silent, as a faint whistling issued from a hairline crack in the canopy of the cockpit. That was an air leak, most likely from a missile fragment that smashed against the transparisteel without breaching it.

 

Armiena glanced downward at her life-support harness. It was also dark. That meant there would be no personal magcon field, no portable air supply.

 

And now her eyes darted back upwards the canopy. Lacking any sort of guidance equipment or any source of propulsion, it was impossible to determine where exactly the drifting interceptor was heading.

 

Draygo smashed open a panel below the control boards and pulled out a nest of dead wires. She glanced up every few seconds as the starfighter completed a revolution to try and discern where her course might lay.

 

A few revolutions. Yes, the interceptor was definitely drifting back into the fight.

 

Another revolution. Yes, it was probably drifting towards one of the Sith capital ships.

 

Another revolution. That capital ship was one of the newer, bifurcated hulls. A Harrower-class, if she remembered its silhouette properly.

 

Another revolution. And that was probably the Fair Lady of Iziz.

 

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There- a mistake. She pushed into his guard, like someone trying to survive being hit by a train by diving under the cars. it was his chance to pin her, to break her. To shatter the wall that kept him from his target- Raven. The saber sparked off his armor, piercing the thinner metal that protected his side and cutting deep, leaving a furious orange glow where it cauterized metal and flesh alike. Darth Mavanger spun, with the attack, only partially intentional, bracing himself. The last time Cassandra had made physical contact with a Sith, it ended with the man bursting into white fire and dying at her feet. Another comrade the Rebels had costed him.

 

One of her fingers scraped across his eye, peeling off a layer of his left eye's cornea as it did. He howled, physical pain shooting across his face as he summoned the last of his rage in conjunction with his pain. Reflexively, both of his eyes squeezed shut, but he didn't need them yet. Her path was clear in the force- the bastion of unflinching purity amidst a storm of anger, hatred, pain and death. The Force that she clung to would be her demise.

 

There was no salvation here.

 

She had already let Mordecai live once. If she had killed him there, if she had slain him and left his corpse at Quela's feet, then she would not be here now, fighting for her life to protect herself and those around her. If she and Ismael had not hoped for Darth Mavanger's redemption, then perhaps the rebels they loved and cherished, who's deaths were at his hands, would still be alive.

 

So might Oroo and Pilon

 

The voice in the back of his mind, a quiet one that he had kept surpressed since his lover's death, finally reared it's head.

 

So might Xahl... and Jarvus

 

The voice was louder now. A cacophony of images and sounds. Those he had seen die, who's deaths he had ordered. The recent ones came first. Pilon and Oroo. The rebels he'd butchered during the approach. The transports that had erupted into flame because of his suicidal charge. Kahla, the closest thing he'd experienced to true family, mutilated and broken, mentally and physically, by his training.

 

Jarvus, who's blind faith in Mordecai, the man, not Darth Mavanger, the Sith, had cost him his life.

 

But it was too late.

 

The Dark Side had taken hold. It had dragged him from the precipice of death. It had forced him onto a world that had nothing left for him. No Empire to expand. No loved ones to return home to. No comrades left to protect. And now, in his darkest hour, all he had left to cling to...

 

... was Vengeance.

 

He shut down the voice, a violent denial of truth that echoed in the force as his eyes snapped open. He relished in the pain, his vision in his left eye too blurry to aid him anymore. Red now creeped into them, not just due to injury, but as a testament to Darth Mavanger's fall to the Dark Side. Darth Nyrys had made him a Sith Master, but now, in his truest acceptance of his rage and anger, he had truly become what it meant to be a master of the dark side. A path of endless agony, of vehement fury, of hungering vengeance, and a path of his own creation.

 

He dashed forward, the weight of the takeoff and landing of each foot leaving a soft dent in the durasteel, slowed by his injuries and his damaged depth perception, but still coursing with the power of the dark side and relying on years of front line experience as he unleashed a potentially devastating flurry of blows, every move sped up and strengthened by his darkened mind. The pain focused his mind, telling him what he needed to do. The hatred gave him a target, and a goal. The rage gave him the power and the speed to do what must be done.

 

He pressed the attack, opening with a scissoring slash from his blades. If the hammering of his blows along could not break her, then he would need an anvil. By stepping behind him a second time, she had put them parallel with the doors, the frame creating a macabre portrait of good and evil, of light and dark. She had also placed herself  where her back now faced a wall. She would only be able to step back for so long, and this time he was prepared for her to step in. All that remained was to make sure she didn't sidestep him. His next attack was a thrust, angled at her left side, hoping to drive her right and closer to the door's wall. A third attack, a dual thrust. One at her chest, and one at her thigh. The driving blows, seeking to corner her.

 

His final blow. A blow into which he poured everything. His grief, his hatred, his anger and his pain. A kaleidoscope of coalescing emotions that cascaded across his cacophonous aura. He would not be denied this vengeance. Not by Cassandra, not by Ismael. Not by Exodus, not by Quela. He would not be denied his vengeance by anyone, Sith and Jedi alike. With all of these convoluted emotions he poured himself into his blades as they cut two simultaneous dark arcs towards Cassandra. His first was a downwards diagonal slice from Imeall Sceimhle, from her right shoulder to her left hip, looking to drive her into the second, a thrust from Imeall Dolas aimed just left of her thigh.

 

It was here that either a demon would die, or a hero would. And Darth Mavanger couldn't tell which he was anymore.

 

((3))

Edited by Mavanger

 

 

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     Fiochmar waits for the a doors to open grinning when they hiss open he rolls his neck and raises that Vibrosword and Vibroaxe twirling them. He looks to the remaining Infantry with him and smirks. "You lot out, continue on to the objective. This one's mine I got him!" Fioch grins as the crimson skinned man looks out to the new arrivals. He too ducks behind cover for the briefest of moments. "Ah how cute a blaster, what cant handle something...a bit more up close and personal?!" The taunt is shouted out as Fiochmar starts to channel his rage and fear channeling all those darker emotions to fuel the force it's at this point that he breaks from his place of cover and charges  towards where Tilt hides behind the crate.

 

       Running at full speed as his men start to engage the other troops blaster bolts flying in flashes of red green and blue as Fioch keeps his target in sight . He leaps over a few of the crates here and there closing the gap between them. "Fight me like a man!" He shouts his feet moving at a speed that is faster than most men could ever dream of running. "It's time to fight, and time for you to go down along with your false Empress!" His last words spoken as he closes the distance to about half, his foot work sure and steady his strides a measured surety and grace of one confident in their cause. Blades raised and at the ready moving ever closer to Tilt.

 

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Many kilometers away from Nar Shaddaa, Fidelity absorbed the full might of the ion blast of Ilk of Ion. The a halo of azure light briefly flared around the bulbous Mon Calamari cruiser as its shields were overwhelmed, then lights began to dim all over its hull… and then even the glow of its sublight engines was shuttered. The ship began to drift vaguely in the direction of Ilk of Ion, listing to one side in a long, starboard circle that would eventually send it into the space between Nal Hutta and its moon. Only running lights continued to blink on the ship’s hull in their monotonous, off-on robotic pattern, and then not even those seem to be functioning. They were flickering madly without any discernable pattern… but the sudden evasive maneuvers of Gerrera and L’Ouverture revealed that the flickers were a message in Mon Calamari blink code.

 

Lost power. Drifting towards Sith fleet elements. Use for cover and target starfighters.

 

The two Victory-class Star Destroyers weaved in and out behind the drifting hull of their flagship, using the great bulk of the Star Cruiser’s armor to protect against the worst of the turbolaser barrages that targeted them. In retaliation, the broadsides of the two missile cruisers opened up in gouts of blue-white flame. Each time those salvos of missiles lashed out, forty new targets would have no choice but to take evasive action, break off their attack runs, or die to a concussion missile.

 

On the opposite end of the chaotic melee, just above the atmosphere of Nar Shaddaa, Kalidor and her escorts were doomed, and the crews of those outmatched ships knew their likely fate. The moment that Black Scarab took up a position to bombard the moon, all of them knew that they were not likely to survive the day. And yet, there was no panic. No one aboard those ships fled their stations and rushed for escape pods. Even when Breachmaker, one of the two ancient Carrack-class Light Cruisers, simply disintegrated into a mass of twisted steel and secondary explosions, the other ships continued to close the distance. Its sister, the Vigilant, began to orbit the shield generators on the dorsal surface of the Sith flagship and pumped salvo after salvo into the generator towers. Nexu and Piorun, two of the Corellian-built corvettes, seemed to take Slaughter’s words literally and parked themselves raced along the hull of the behemoth so closely that they resembled a pair of enormous starfighters on a strafing run.

 

Kalidor, the Majestic-class Heavy Cruiser and the slowest of that small squadron of ships, fared almost as badly as the expanding cloud of dust that was Breachmaker. For the moment, the bridge crew was functioning as a living machine, thoughtlessly outputting close-range turbolaser blasts against hostile batteries and firing away anti-missile interceptors without any thought for their own functionality. Slaughter’s mind seemed to exist in a state of Jedi-like hyper-clarity; at the cry of hull breaches across all decks of its starboard wing, the Admiral simply looked up from the tactical pit and glanced up to see the spray of debris and fire that issued from Kalidor’s side. That reverberation in the hull was that of a reactor shutting down, an engine dying… and four turbolaser batteries that jettisoned their cannons and crew into vacuum.

 

Even before the ship began to veer off from its headlong charge, the words escaped from Slaughter’s lips without conscious thought. A minor course adjustment, and then the cruiser began a languid roll that would transform its one-engine list into a spiraling dive towards Black Scarab.

 

And then the lights went dark and the sound of glass shattering filled the air. Slaughter was knocked to the ground, saved from being blown into vacuum by the emergency shutters.

 

When the Admiral came to, the crimson emergency lights were dimly illuminating the bridge and he was looking into the face of his Yeoman, Chambers. He tried to reach up to grasp the woman’s arm to physically haul himself up to his feet, but something wasn’t quite responding correctly. His arm tingled numbly. He blinked again and focused on the shock in the human’s expression.

 

He knew the look in Chambers’ eyes. There was a subtle widening of the eyes that even military discipline couldn’t stifle. That poor girl was looking at a dead man.

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“Go, Beth. I don’t need an escort.” Sophia heard herself saying in an accent that was not hers. Some frightfully brilliant corner of her mind was calculating feverishly without her taking conscious thought; an astoundingly quick tactical assessment of the space above Nar Shaddaa and calculation of intercept courses without her even paying mind to ship names or loadouts. “I’ll be fine. Re-calculating my jump… it will take approximately seventeen minutes and twenty seconds until that frigate is able to close the hyperspace route to Ylesia. I’ll be out of here in twelve minutes. Give or take a few. Go make those bastards hurt.”

 

Give or take a few. Sophia had hidden a lie in that sentence: “a few,” in this case, translated to “few minutes.” And even that was a confidence interval that applied to both ships; both the Sith and This Machine Kills Fascists. And that failed to take into account any interceptors that the Sith might have launched to interdict the hyperspace routes, rather than dispatch them against targets of tactical value.

 

The amount of time that it would take for the average interceptor squadron to reach her alternate escape route was about ten minutes, fifteen seconds. Again, give or take a few.

 

“What’s bastards?” Dinsa, that adorable Duros child, blinked widely and stared at Sophia. Not because she was a child, or a perpetually wide-eyed Duros; but because of the sudden intensity in Moriarty’s voice.

 

“Bad people, love. The kind of people who like to hurt innocent families and their kids. Not because it’s important to them, just to show that they can. But I’m going to make sure that they don’t get anywhere close to you, okay? Now check your straps again for me–tighten them as much as you can, even if it hurts a little.”

 

As the VCX-100 veered away from its planned escape route–and now interdicted by multiple gravity wells and an artificial singularity–Sophia’s eyes raced between the dimming glow of Nar Shaddaa’s exosphere and the flood of information that was displayed on the freighter’s sensor readouts. Hundreds of ships were dueling between Nar Shaddaa and Nal Hutta; Fidelity and her entourage had just shown up, Misericordia and Constantine and dozens of former Imperial ships; but also the Sith Empire with Eye of Sagittarius and Raven’s Fury and Iziz and… and Black Scarab. Of course the Sith Empire would have deployed their flagship at what they had clearly planned to be the decisive battle of the war and the smashing of the Rebellion’s conventional forces.

 

Unless… and Sophia’s hands froze at this thought… their plan was to outright destroy the moon. To sterilize it by orbital bombardment, or…

 

Or to shatter it outright. Like what they had done to Coruscant. Or like what had just happened on a much smaller scale at Naboo.

 

“Mind back in the game, Soph.” The historian muttered to herself as reminded her hands to continue to follow a flight plan that her racing mind recalculated every few seconds. She dove down hard–poor Dinsa gave a yelp of fright–only seconds before a fleet transport carrying ammunition took a long-range artillery blast and evaporated in a cloud of shrapnel and fire. Something struck at the edges of Sophia’s mind at the exact moment that one of Scarab’s siege torpedoes detonated above Nar Shaddaa.

 

Her vision blurred and she blinked hard. Tears had welled up in her eyes. That didn’t matter. She had to survive a few more minutes despite the swarms of starfighters that were jockeying for position, trying to block off hyperspace routes and flank unsupported cruisers. Just a few more minutes.

 

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On 4/22/2022 at 2:42 PM, Atrid Torsen said:

     Fiochmar waits for the a doors to open grinning when they hiss open he rolls his neck and raises that Vibrosword and Vibroaxe twirling them. He looks to the remaining Infantry with him and smirks. "You lot out, continue on to the objective. This one's mine I got him!" Fioch grins as the crimson skinned man looks out to the new arrivals. He too ducks behind cover for the briefest of moments. "Ah how cute a blaster, what cant handle something...a bit more up close and personal?!" The taunt is shouted out as Fiochmar starts to channel his rage and fear channeling all those darker emotions to fuel the force it's at this point that he breaks from his place of cover and charges  towards where Tilt hides behind the crate.

 

       Running at full speed as his men start to engage the other troops blaster bolts flying in flashes of red green and blue as Fioch keeps his target in sight . He leaps over a few of the crates here and there closing the gap between them. "Fight me like a man!" He shouts his feet moving at a speed that is faster than most men could ever dream of running. "It's time to fight, and time for you to go down along with your false Empress!" His last words spoken as he closes the distance to about half, his foot work sure and steady his strides a measured surety and grace of one confident in their cause. Blades raised and at the ready moving ever closer to Tilt.

 

 

((1))

 

Tilt had downed two more men, reinforcements on his end, Imperial Stormtroopers had arrived and clashed with the enemy that were pouring in. Bolts of green and red scattered the room, he was firing at several targets in succession and was about to shoot another until a few blaster bolts struck the metal crate causing him to take cover. He had a better advantage on the high ground as on now, it'd be hard to hit the Clone Captain while he has cover and multitudes of blasters pointed in the hostiles direction. And he was about to start firing again until he heard someone shout, "Ah how cute a blaster, what cant handle something...a bit more up close and personal?!"

 

"What?" Tilt states absentmindedly as he witnessed an individual with dual vibroweapons, an axe and a sword, charging at him. If it were any normal person he could have easily shot them, however they were moving faster than he could properly comprehend. Damn! Tilt was quick to toss away his rifle, active his gauntlet shield and pull his dual pistols, firing a good few rounds. In the moments what seemed like seconds, he clicked a grenade making it live and let it drop from his waist, backing up quickly as he continues to fire his pistols. 

 

Right now he was trying to gain some distance, he wasn't trying to blow up the individual- which would be great, but the moment he'd pass the explosive it would at least hit the warrior in the back enough to knock him off balance. But that speed was closing in on the Clone rather quickly, and realizing that a collision was inevitable, Tilt threw away a pistol and quickly pulled his lightsaber for the inevitable CQC. He had yet to activate it, only possibly less than seconds. 

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Closer and closer with every revolution, the Fair Lady of Iziz loomed in the canopy of Draygo’s interceptor as it drifted towards the Star Destroyer. The running lights of the ship and glow of turbolasers resolved into the unmistakable bifurcated hull of that Sith warship, until individual batteries and viewports and hangars could be identified. Not that the Jedi Grandmaster was gawking at the Harrower-class Star Destroyer; with considerable difficulty, Armiena had managed to extricate herself from the pilot’s seat and was laying on her stomach inside, neck craned up to get a closer look at the control panels. Her armor pressed painfully into her collarbone, and her feet were tangled up in the nest of tubing and inertial sensors that rested just behind the pilot’s seat. Half-blind from the sparks issuing from the exposed tubing, her hands worked feverishly in an attempt to hotwire the starfighter into some form of functionality. It was not going well. 

 

The whistling of air had yet to dissipate: that was a good sign, as that indicated a slow leak that was of no immediate threat. And yet, there was a niggling warning in some isolated corner of her mind, a disturbing indication that something was about to go horribly wrong… Pushing herself away from the tangled nest of fibers, circuitry, and capacitors, Armiena eventually managed to right herself into something of a seating position. She glanced forward at the next completed revolution…

 

…And it appeared that she and that enormous vessel were on a collision course, not unlike a sangfly smacking against the windshield of an airspeeder. Draygo sighed, closed her eyes, and let her Force-enhanced senses drift towards the Star Destroyer, and began to search for a cluster of lifeforms that might indicate the command center of the vessel. But that proved to be unnecessary. The vessel made a minute course correction, only a few degrees to one side to evade the forte of a turbolaser barrage from the Rebel Alliance.

 

The immediate danger was evaded. Now the interceptor began to drift alongside the lateral trench on the port side of the enormous vessel, so close that Armiena could make out the barrels of individual batteries. The canopy of the starfighter glowed with alternating green and red hues as turbolaser volleys were received and answered. None of the point-defense weapons that guarded this vulnerable sector didn’t seem to have detected the unpowered, drifting starfighter, as none of them were tracking her movement. The interceptor was now approaching the bulbous protrusion of a tractor beam emplacement…

 

That would be her best opportunity to return to the fight.  Draygo drove her senses into the confinement of that crewed emplacement and searched for a particularly alert individual. Perhaps that sapient would be an officer, or mere a diligent member of the Lady’s crew that was hungry for a means to contribute meaningfully to this climactic battle of climactic battles. Anything, even rushing to a site that needed firefighters or medevacs, would have been better than standing and waiting for targets to be designated by fire control from the bridge…

 

Armiena satisfied that anxious sapient’s drive. Single target, her mind admonished that sapient. Drifting, probable starfighter.

 

To which that sapient’s mind ran through their standard operating procedures and alerted their crewmates. That target would mean an unpowered vessel, possibly with a medical casualty–or a live prisoner, who would be even more valuable.

 

The hull of the interceptor gave a creaking whine as a tractor beam gripped it and began to draw it into one of the smaller docking bays of the Fair Lady. Judging from the size–as well as the lack of parked starfighters–this almost certainly wouldn’t be the enormous central hangar that tended to dominate the ventral surface of most Star Destroyers, with the myriad starfighters and walkers and fuel tanks and various opportunities for explosive mischief that that sector would provide. It might have been an officer’s shuttle bay, or perhaps even a seldom-used quarantine bay reserved for medical emergencies.

 

In any case, the Jedi Grandmaster’s interceptor soon settled on the deck of that hangar in an agonizingly slow crash landing, slamming down on the deckplates without functional landing gear.

 

Draygo sighed and reached for the manual override for the canopy jettison. Even if The Force had provided the Grandmaster with a destination, it had not provided her with any objectives now that she had reached it…

 

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Captain Garrus looked on, as the Clan Brasganu fleet suffered heavy losses. Losses that he knew were necessary, and accepted by all in the Clan, including those who had given their lives. They did so willingly, bringing glory to the Fanged God and the Darkness. Soon all that remained was Akheron's flagship, in all her glory fighting for the Sith with what remained of her escorts.

 

He was about to order a suicide run into one of the ships when he received word from the surface from his Lord-Captain. Akheron was still alive but sounded wounded. 

 

 

Quote

Stepping to a console, Akheron sent a message above.

 

 "Captain Garrus, take what remains of the Clan and regroup at these co-ordinates I am sending. I shall meet the flagship there. Although we have suffered, our losses shall not be in vain. These sacrifices shall be remembered and avenged soon enough."

 

Hearing the command and seeing the hologram, Captain Garrus obeyed. He waited until the necromancers ship  the Eternus, was safely within the hangar before ordering what remained of the interceptors and bombers to head back into the hangar and prepare for a quick departure. Soon enough and all was ready as the mighty ship made for hyperspace, ducking behind Sith lines using them as cover before making a getaway.

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"The universe started in darkness at a time when light didn't exist, and that is how it will end. Chaos and suffering is what brings us together. In chaos a man or woman will show who he or she really is and in suffering they will speak the truth. We are darkness incarnate, we are the evil. This cannot be denied, even by me. But without us there is no redemption, passion or order." - Darth Akheron

 

I survived the Great JNet Outage of 2012

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Mavanger vs Cassandra

 

Absolutely wonderful offerings from both sides are on display here. Both Nok and I felt that each player brought their A game. However, we both agreed that Mavanger’s use of emotion as a weapon gave enough extra punch that it carried him into the lead. One final gift from his lost love to his lord. 

 

Result: Mavanger ties… I mean wins, sorry, old habits.

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Almost there…” Not entirely unlike a monk entering a meditative trance, Sophia repeated those words to herself as This Machine Kills Fascists wound its way through the horror of a modern space battlefield. In this case, however, rather than entering a state of serenity in which even the body’s defensive mechanisms took a deep breath, Moriarty was closer to succumbing to something of a nervous break: that meditative chant was accompanied by shaking hands that were leaving sweat slicks on the controls, and eyes that were constantly darting from sensor readouts to the navigational computer to the crowded starfield. The poor Duros child beside her had decided to remain silent… until a nearby barge took a hit from a distant cruiser.

 

Sophia flinched when the midsection of that enormous vessel belched forth a gout of flames and shrapnel. Clearly, the barge was hauling something explosive, even if that hazardous cargo was only fertilizer. Then its engines desynchronized and caused that amalgamation of linked cargo containers to collide with itself.

 

Sophia never saw the explosion. The canopy turned opaque to block out the blinding glare. But a collision with–something–stripped away the freighter’s shields and something gave a metallic crunch somewhere in the aft of the freighter.

 

That was when poor Dinsa finally gave out a little scream. The Duros child still managed to push her hands over her lips, rather than distract Sophia as she piloted and hoped her way through the expanding cloud of debris that was the wreck of the barge.

 

And then the early-warning sensors began to buzz threateningly, indicating the unfamiliar tone of a targeting lock on Sophia’s vessel. Then came the artificial growl-scream of ion engine propulsion that arced from left to right, and the historian realized that it wasn’t a distant turbolaser barrage that had killed the barge–it was a squadron of starfighters.

 

Rebel freighter,” intoned a static-stricken voice that barely managed to make itself audible over the interference of the barge that was continuing to tear itself apart. “Shut down your shields and set your engines to idle. Comply with all instructions from our boarding parties.”

 

Sophia glanced at the Duros child, then back at the readouts from the navigational computer. Machine was nearly outside the influence of the gravity well projectors–and the early-warning sensors were continuing to buzz their warning that the Sith starfighters had the freighter in a targeting lock. Her ship was carrying more than twenty people… who almost certainly would not be treated kindly by the Sith. And as for herself… no, Sophia could not afford to allow herself to be captured by the Sith Empire. At best, they would kill her on sight. Being taken alive, however, offered the possibility of a future of ceaseless misery and exploitation.

 

Fleeing was her only option.

 

“Sith starfighter,” Sophia began in reply. Her left hand was shaking as she reached for the hyperdrive activation lever. “Go frack yourself. I’m carrying refugees. People, you di’kut. You can’t just leave be, can you? Can’t build anything of value in your own home, so you go and tear down what others built. Government’s a piece of poodoo, gotta destroy what others made for themselves. Entire ideology’s a–”

 

“Doctor Sophia?” Cried out Dinsa, pointing at an alert light that had just appeared above the lever that Sophia was gripping.

 

The historian yanked back that lever, her hand slipping on the rubberized grip. The starfield lengthed–the entire ship gave a characteristic electronic whine as the hyperdrive spooled up…

 

And they were away.

 

Edited by ObliviousKnight
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Cassandra defended herself admirably. Even in his current state, Darth Mavanger could appreciate that. Had it not been for the walls limiting her mobility, the fight would have very likely gone on for longer, and the False Empress would have been given a chance to escape. She expertly parried, redirected, and dodged his attacks in a masterful display of footwork, agility, and swordsmanship, right up until the end. Like he though, she ducked to the side to avoid one blade, and stepped right into the path of another.

 

The ship screamed as a metal blade made a hole in the durasteel wall, blood coating the other side as it pinned her to the wall. It was an awful sound, as though the room around them mourned for the Imperial Knight's final moments. Cassandra, the first of his many hurdles, the Imperial Knight who had thwarted his defense of Kuat when he was but an apprentice, now struggled for breath, mere inches away from him. He leaned forward, into her her as he caught his breath. She still had life. the fog of rage and vengeance was lifting, and his senses came back to him.

 

The voice was back. The guilt. The death and destruction that he had caused. Even now, with Cassandra dying inches away from him, by his hand, he was not satisfied. The pit was still there. The hole in his heart, the loneliness of his path of vengeance. He placed a hand on her shoulder, looking at her blindfolded eyes, looking for an answer.

 

"Will the pain ever stop?" he whispered, agony creeping into his voice.

 

But she was gone now. His question was left unanswered, and again he was alone.

 

He looked over at the turbolift, retrieving his blade from the wall and Cassandra's corpse, guiding her gently to the ground. His forces were dead. His guards were dead. Cassandra was dead. This was the destiny of those who surrounded him. Whether they be friend or foe, all that followed him for long was death. And death was still to come, a fact he knew from what he was going to do next.

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With a twinge of regret the solace in the back of her mind departed. It was almost sorrowful in its leaving. Shocking in its absence, and disastrous for the future. In its departing wake there was only silence, like the last toll of the church bells on Zinthos which had rung until the silver castings had cracked. The clappers making a hollow and dead sound as the missiles fell from the sky like petals of arathium roses. The same fear that had left her to cower into her mother’s breast, now tricked in behind her ears. The same doubt that she would never see tomorrow, and what a tomorrow it would have been. There would have been lilies in the springtime, and an early morning mass at the cathedral. And peace. 

 

Was that what she had fought for so long to achieve? That dream of a frightened little girl screaming into her mother’s skirts? Or the dream of an equally frightened Sith apprentice? Or the crying stormtrooper in a battle she had no control over? Signing her name over the line of a treaty while Jedi and Rebels laughed behind her back? Dooming her people into a government that would never succeed. 

 

How that fear had driven her. From senate to rising star of the remnant. From faction leader to claimant to the galactic throne. And how many that stood in her way now lay before her in their graves. Grinning skulls that would welcome her with arms of bone into the fastness of the grave. Her name joining those of Tenebris, Starlisk, Darkfire, Cadan, and Sikaot. Carved in the granite of some war memorial that would be unnoticed a generation from now. The memorial garden used more for picnics and play than for solemn ceremonies. 

 

A glance at the readout told her that the fleet battle was going as expected. An orderly loss. And Nar Shaddaa on fire. Billions of lives coming to their end in the city below her. And perhaps that would be her legacy. Another failed rebellion, that resulted in only death and destruction for trillions of lives. Fighting for an idea they couldn’t even define. She had no further legacy than that. She had no children and no claimants to carry her name. Nothing to offer the galaxy but her life. 

 

She looked once more towards the viewscreen and the hulking super star destroyer that was outlined against the fiery red of Nar Shaddaa. Then she looked back to her crew. All silent, all standing at attention. She gave them a crisp salute that carried with it the weight of a dozen generations of Imperial officer academies. 

 

“It was my pleasure to serve beside you. Please use the aft escape pods. I will not be joining you.” 

 

She let the salute drop away, and she walked towards the doors and towards the Sith Lord that waited on the other side.

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The doors hissed open, and there she was. Alone on the bridge, the fleet battle that raged on skylined behind her. A brutal tapestry of what they had brought into the galaxy. It was destiny that drew them together here. Raven was destined to die, and Darth Mavanger was destined to kill her from the moment that he had made the decision to join the Sith Empire and departed Carida. Home.

 

He approached the Empress, removing his mask and stowing it on his belt, his blades sheathed on his side. He looked past her, at the fires and the explosions that rocked both fleets. He could see his fleet breaking through, his flagship closing with the Misericordia rapidly. No doubt they were trying to extract him. Loyal to the end. How many would die from the damage his own flagship sustained from this maneuver?

 

He looked at Raven, his eyes meeting hers. He stepped closer, exhaustion filling his bones. He could take her in a fight, even in this state, he was sure, but he knew she wasn't defenseless.

 

"Empress Raven. I've waited a long time for this reunion."

Edited by Mavanger
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    The chaos of battle was in full swing, with the Dark Side pulsing in otherworldly colors and incomprehensible sounds, sometimes a trickle, other times in great torrents of energy. The presence of a Jedi had revealed itself in the hangar of her ship, drawn by the need for conflict to resolve such dire disparities in reckless proximity to each other. Someone could comment on the clash of good and evil, but both sides had been drenched in blood for centuries. This wasn’t a moral conflict, it was people at war, indistinguishable from one another save by uniforms and flags. There was an element of absurdity at play, in that the bigger the forces assembled were, the less it mattered. The war itself had become a self sustaining cycle of atrocity and revenge.

 

Any measure of justice that might have been found in the destruction of the false empire’s populace eluded her. Nor would this prevent further slaughter of her people, in fact, it may even result in retaliatory strikes of its own. There was no agency to be found here, only people stuck in their roles, playing the parts that the galaxy expected of them. So many chains that she never saw the one around her neck. 

 

Her ascent to Dark Lord had come too soon, there was still too much of her inside to just blindly accept the hollow mantle that came with the title. An absence of self was required to be a sharp enough razor to take the throne by force, but the line of succession had been broken when Exodus had left her the throne, and none among the Sith possessed both the ambition and the skill to make her defend her claim. In success, the Sith had lost their edge.

 

The forces opposed to them were equally defunct, having traded morality for the surety of fascist rule. The galaxy could not survive two empires, having already faced terrible destruction at the hands of one. If the end sum of this fight would contain any measure of righteousness, it would be the assassination of Empress Raven. The decapitation of the imperial command structure would most likely result in what had come to pass in history time and time again, the ambitious underlings cannibalizing each other for their spot at the throne. Problematic successors could be managed as needed.

 

The greatest driving political force in her life had always been the preservation of her people and her culture, but the role of Dark Lord was a position of faith that needed to be able to sacrifice all things. The Jedi was here to try and kill Darth Nyrys. So be it. Her soldiers were well trained, but they would be little more than momentary obstacles to a Jedi of the strength of spirit that she felt.

 

Bring the Jedi to me, I will not idly spend your lives against a foe such as this.” 

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As the bulkhead doors slid aside, the room seemed to grow cold, as if with the entrance of the Sith Lord, he had let in a breeze. A cold wind stirred the hair that had snuck out from under the thin iron tiara that stretched across her forehead and through her hair. With one look at Lord Mavanger she could feel the very real danger of him. A dangerous anger stretched across every one of his features. And the skin on the back of her neck prickled with the danger of him, but she did not let herself feel it. Fear would do no good here.

 

Death, like every human experience, had to be looked straight in the eyes. 

 

She let her gaze linger on his face, scarred, bleeding, wrapped in the guise of rage and anger. It carried a weight with every scar, an inescapable burden, that dragged every feature that could have been handsome or beautiful to ruin. Scars that would have been charming spoke instead of the death of innocent lives, bearing an ugliness that was more spiritual than physical. What man or woman could love such a face? What partner could trust a smile that was more predatory than a rancors? 

 

Even the blue eyes, or the one that was not covered in blood, did not carry a speck of joy. And for a man that had sworn away everything in his life except for the revenge on her life, he did not seem the least bit happy for it. What relief was there in murder? Could he climb further in the ranks of the Sith for her death? Or would he be tossed away. Like a sword that had been battered and used, its edges chipped from the combat, to be replaced entirely at the end of a long campaign. To be mounted in a display along with other relics of fading memory. 

 

Would he be cruel in victory? Prolonging death even to defilement, letting sadistic urges spoil the relief of a battle won? Letting himself roil like a savage in every delight of victory, letting every ounce of rage be exhausted in the joys of flesh? She did not know. But whatever lay in store, she would hold her chin up high. For the idea she had fostered would not die. 

 

With a slow and deliberate movement she handed him her old lightsaber. Hilt first. A hilt she had made herself on the eve of her thirteenth birthday. The last piece of her old life that she had left behind. And perhaps whatever came for her next was the divine punishment for the life she had once lived. But she still needed to save the lives of her crew. 

 

“Lord Mavanger, the ship is yours.” 

 

She lifted her chin, and her amethyst eyes focused again on the blue of his own. There was no plea for pardon in her eyes. 

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Darth Mavanger removed his ruined mask, placing it behind his blade's sheathe. He looked upon  the young girl in front of him, staring him down even now, with her fleet and her world burning behind her. She offered him her blade, and he understood the sanctity of the act. Surrender. An offering for peace. But his vengeance demanded her death, and so it would have it. He took her blade, placing it in a pouch on his belt. He had left Cassandra's where it had fallen- a worthy opponent. Looting her corpse would have dishonored that fact.

 

He drew a much smaller blade. It was still formed of Sith Steel, and it was adorned with a dark crystal that pulsed malignantly in the Force, a sickening artifact of obscene purpose. He stepped in, thrusting the dagger into Empress Raven's chest. It wasn't an immediately lethal blow- the blade needed time to work it's dark sorceries, and she needed to be alive for it. He place his other hand on her shoulder, as he had with Cassandra, guiding her further onto the bridge. 

 

Even now, as his most hated foe bled from his wound, he was unsatisfied. The rebels would control the galaxy, regardless of this act. The Dark Lord had decreed it so, and he had not the strength at the time to contest her. Even now, at the height of his power, even if he wrested control of the Sith Empire, the pieces were already in motion. The rebel fleet burned, but so did his. There wouldn't be enough Sith to re-secure the Galaxy for a long time. Not after Naboo and Nar Shadaa.

 

His mind drifted, trying to find someone responsible. Someone he could aim his fury at. His grief. His betrayal. And as he did, he realized.

 

"Care to listen to the words of a madman?"

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The defenders of freedom stood firm. Their turbolasers and blasters cut through the Sith fleet like a warm knife through bantha butter. Their backs were against the wall and they would not, they could not, fail. And yet, the Sith onslaught was relentless. The void of space was continually being fed like a unquenchable maw. Imperial and Alliance ships withered beneath the constant barrage. Some fell, willingly intercepting barrages met for the planet below, a planet that was ablaze. Others vanished in explosive silent gouts of flame and debris.

 

Even so, cracks were beginning to manifest in the enemy offensive. As floating wreckage accumulated on both sides creating a debris field to claim even more lives, star fighters zipped in and out in relentless unending dogfights. In the mass of Sith aligned craft, Allied sensors noted that even now, they were beginning to retreat 

 

Pressing the attack, the Alliance and Imperial forces rallied, driving into their foes with renewed vigor. Even now, there was hope.

 

In that hope though, there was pain. The bridge of the Constantine rattled as it absorbed incoming enemy fire. For now the shields were holding. That was not the concern, even as Nikolai Kolchak’s biomechanical mind whirred taking it all in. No, what worried was the announcement that the Misercordia had been ordered to evacuate. No reason had been given and readings indicated that while worn, she still had fight left in her.

 

And so, the Constantine and several other craft had diverted themselves from their assigned vectors and even now raced across the perilous battlefield towards the flagship of the Imperial Remnant. The vessel shuddered under the newfound attention of numerous Sith war elements. It did not matter. What did was the Empress, even more so the hope that was enshrined in her existence; the truth that freedom could be won. It was a flag that Nikolai Kolchak had fought too hard to seen carried to let fall now in these final

moments.

 

”Sir!” An alarmed voice called over the din of the bustling bridge. “The Misercordia is launching all escape pods.”

 

Kolchak’s eyes, both biotic and mechanic turned with renewed vigor to the mighty ship that was beginning to fill their viewscreen.

 

”They are not responding to hails. All attempts at communication are failing.” The same voice narrated, albeit with a level of concern in her voice.

 

Reaching to his starched collar, Nikolai pulled forth a simple stringed lanyard attached to a communications chip. A direct line to the Empress’ comms. The most encrypted channel in his possession. Something only the select too echelons even knew existed. Plugging it into his console, pointed to his communications officer, “Hail ze Empress.”

 

The woman nodded and spun back to her console. “Empress Raven. This is the Constantine. We are standing by ready lend aid. What is your status?” The comms fell silent, save for a light static that played across the bridge’s speakers.

 

“Empress Raven. This is the Constantine under Grand Moff Kolchak. Do you copy?”

 

Static.

 

“Misercordia, this is the Constantine. Please respond.”

 

Static filled the now nearly silent bridge as eyes turned from their stations to the viewports and to Kolchak still arrayed in his Vice Admiral’s uniform. The Supreme Commander and second in command to the Remnant and her forces stood like a statue, processing what he was seeing and hearing, and not.

 

The soft static in the air was nearly deafening, only broken by the voice of the comms officer. “Empress Raven. Misercordia. This is Constantine and Kolchak. Is anyone there? Please respond.”

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At the moment, however, Armiena Draygo was learning a lesson in the vital Jedi virtue of humility. Trapped in the cockpit of her disabled interceptor, the veteran Jedi was attempting to extract herself and to tune at the angry squawking of an astromech droid. The droid was truly irate about something–its shrill tones were audible even through the airtight seal of the canopy.

 

“Look, I’m sorry about the caf. I was distracted–and I didn’t even ask you your name. That was rude of me. Bebop? Why are you named after…” The rapid, wandering staccato of the droid’s aggravated whistling suggested that there was an embarrassing story behind the droid’s callsign. The Jedi Grandmaster was just answering the droid’s trilling on verbal autopilot, focusing more on trying to escape from the grounded starfighter. The manual release by her left elbow failed to elicit a response–a prodding of the explosive ejection bolts through The Force elicited nothing but a misfire, a shower of sparks, and a yelp of surprise from both the droid and Jedi.

 

A glance to the side revealed a squad of twenty chrome-plated Sith marines. Unusually for a defending unit, a heavy weapons team with a bulky E-Web or similar crewed weapon was not among them–none of them even shouldered their weapons as they approached and fanned to enclose the starfighter in a semicircle. Rather, they held position in a tidy “patrol carry” position, their carbines safely angled towards the deck of the hangar. Their posture was clearly tense… but clearly not yet planning to open fire.

 

Looking at the reflection of the R9 droid in the canopy, Draygo thought she saw the maroon astromech unit cock its head in confusion. It was a… curious response to a probable sabotage mission by a Jedi.

 

Armiena settled on a more manual approach to extracting herself. She simply ignited her lightsaber and swept the bronze blade in a circular arc through the canopy. The starfighter was already leaning heavily on one wing and the canopy fell to the deck with an armored crash. Lightsaber doused and returned to its belt loop, the Grandmaster followed shortly afterwards.

 

The Jedi was still collecting herself from an awkward slide down the side of the starfighter when the leader of that squad approached, weapon still at a low carry. “Grandmaster Draygo,” came the filtered voice. “The Empress has instructed us to escort you to the bridge.”

 

Pleasantly befuddled, Armiena just nodded and waved vaguely in the direction of the Lady’s bow. An overly-reasonable lilt entered her voice as she stared past the opaque visor of the marine sergeant. “Of course. You should lead the way.”

 

“...We’ll lead the way.”

 

____

 

Draygo followed the twin column of marines to the bridge of Fair Lady, the R9 astromech wheeling just behind her left shoulder. She held her fingers clasped in front of her waist, eyes distant, and her attention… clearly not entirely fixed on the immediate present. The Jedi and Sith were clearly approaching a moment of shattering, a turning of destination… and yet The Force had given her no clear indication of what, where, and when that moment would take place. For this moment, all that the Jedi Grandmaster knew was that she was approaching a being of profound potential in The Force.

 

That moment was fast approaching. Hopefully she wouldn’t leave her departed friends disappointed in her conduct.

 

The cadence of her step slowed upon a final turn towards the bridge. She closed her eyes and breathed slowly, exhaling her awareness into the walls of the command center until it left a texture in the walls that was almost palpable… not entirely unlike coarsely-grained sandpaper.

 

The command center, like that of any warship in battle, was a location of tense focus. Slightly more crowded by the addition of a flag staff, it was abuzz with frantically coordinated activity in its tactical pits–officers were tersely calling out maneuvering vector commands to starfighter squadrons, target designations to the local batteries and those throughout the fleet. The Empress herself, however, was waiting, a gravity well around which the entire battle revolved around.

 

“I appreciate you not wasting unnecessary lives in ordering your soldiers to attack me, Empress.” The veteran’s voice was tense and her presence fraught with a complicated mixture of emotions.

 

Draygo stopped several meters away from the Empress and offered a bare modicum of a bow, her pale-green eyes intensely fixed on the younger woman’s form.

 

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Qessax thought he was used to the chaos of battle. He had grown up in the jungles of Kalee, hunting and killing others of his kind for his father until he was taken to learn under the imperials. He had ridden speeder bikes, killed large Muumuus, raided tribes, rescued captives and captured slaves. 

 

But this, Qessax had look at in shock. He was not used to this kind of battle. 

 

The Kaleesh warriors that Qessax directed did their jobs well, if a bit unorthodox. But in this battle, well was not good enough. Heavy casualties would be a foregone conclusion. Complete destruction was still a possibility. 

 

Qessax felt his stomach tighten. A Kaleesh instinct that something was going wrong. 

 

Brother!” Qessax spoke to the hologram of his oldest sibling. “Get close to the Constantine. Prepare for evacuation if neccessary. You can utilize your cargo cables to grab as many escape pods as possible.”

 

His brother, a muscular being even by Kaleesh standards, gave Qessax a disapproving glare. 

 

“I don’t think so! We can fight longer. Fleeing is not a possibility. And we’ve lost too much to abandon these destroyed ships”

 

Qessax banged his hand and gave his sibling a strong pointing. “By our ancestors, you listen now. The battle is going south. We both know it, and I know you have a bigger obligation to our father. No ships means our tribe will be weak, and that is not acceptable. Lose any scrap you’ve picked up if you have to, but my order stands. Let father be my judge when this is done”

 

With that, Qessax closed the transmission and broke into a dash towards the bridge. His stomach refused to loosen. Something bad was going on. 

 

It didn’t take long for the experienced agent to figure out what had happened. The silence on the bridge was deafening. 

 

“Sir” Qessax addressed Kolchak. “We have to assume the worst” Qessax hated saying such things, but the evidence that was mounting was not positive at all. “I’ve ordered my brother and what’s left of the Kaleesh to support us.”

 

A pause filled the room.

 

“Your orders sir?”

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In the abandoned comms station onboard the bridge, the message from the Constantine rebounded back, unanswered. And deep within the engineering of the command class star destroyer, the last few imperial engineers left alive began a process they had long trained for, but had never dreamed that they would ever have to do. Shaped charges were placed against the antimatter-verilanthrum drives, and after setting a long timer, they began to overload the system. It would prevent the vessel from falling into the planet, and would add yet another explosion to the literal sea of dying ships all around the system. 

 

The knife slid between the ribs below her left breast, gliding through muscles and lung to grate painfully against the ribs at her back. She gasped, more surprised than pained. The action ripping her inflating lung through the knife's keen edge. Collapsing it instantly and dumping the air from her breath into her chest cavity. Painful as the seven corellian hells, but not a fatal wound unless it was untreated. 

 

But what was that feeling? A pulling at her spirit, and something that she had never felt before in the force. Her eyes looked down to the wound and to the dark crystal that lay pulsing in the handle of the wicked blade. It felt like… 

 

So this was the great weapon of the Sith. It was no planet shattering death star like some of the ‘experts’ had predicted, no planet sized behemoth like Ziost. It was a simple and permanent death. She and many she had known had been able to climb out of death before, and the realization hit her with more pain than the little knife could ever give with its dark blade. She had come to the end. She looked back to Mavanger and smiled as the realization hit her. 

 

There was nothing to fear.

 

She had done her utmost to bring the galaxy peace and order. She had fought from the age of fourteen in the old stormtrooper corps to establish peace, and she had not stopped fighting the tide of evil since. No matter what awaited her on the other side, she could hold her chin up high, knowing that she had done her best. Though she felt for Kirlocca and Kolchak and all those she would leave behind. And somewhere in the back of her mind those silver bells rang clear and bright. Clanging away like their clappers would fall off, every toll louder than the last. 

 

She sat down heavily on the seat of command. Her eyes not registering the blood that was dripping steadily down the cleanly pressed dress jacket. 

 

“You aren't mad.” She whispered, her hand gesturing towards where the mad hutts fleet continued it's destructive charge. "That there is madness." She coughed, tasting the little bit of blood that came bubbling up from her pierced lung. Knowing it was dripping from the corner of her mouth, but now was not the time to care about beauty. "You were just deceived." 

 

She looked back to the Sith Lord, doing all that she could to give him her full attention. “But speak quickly. I do not know how long your sorcery will take to claim me. And I would like to hear your story to the bitterest of ends.” She smiled again, her white teeth stained with frothy blood.  “So tell me your tale of woe. Tell me why I should grieve for what path brought you here. Tell me why your life is worth more than theirs.”

 

Her black gloved hand swept up towards the view screen and the burning planetoid that she had called home since dear Carida had met a similar end.

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Pretender to the Galactic Throne

Leader of the Rebel Alliance

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Like a bronzed statue, Grand Moff Kolchak stood at his command post amidst the bridge of the Constantine. The crackle of unanswered comms spoke volumes. That the Misercordia had begun evacuations all but sealed the verdict. And yet, it was not a finality that one could accept.

 

The Constantine shuddered under incoming enemy salvos as it rocketed  towards the jettisoning escape pods. If the Empress had managed to escape, it was their, no his, duty to see that she survived. So even as Qessax spoke, Nikolai knew what needed to be done. It was the prompt that was all he needed. He already knew their objective and the dangers it entailed. So too did the stern commander know the response of those under his command; each and every one hand-picked intelligence officers and seasoned veterans.

 

”Bring ze Constantine in close. Protect ze pods so zhat zhey might be rescued. Ve vill be ze veil of protection against ze enemy.” 
 

The Constantine barreled ahead, her shields glowing against the black of space as it intercepted incoming fire and moved to place itself between the enemy fleet and the defenseless pods. Meanwhile, the Victory I Star Destroyer Ancillary Justice and Nebulan-B Medical Frigate Merciful Touch moved in to provide additional coverage and began the taking on of pods. Each hoping that within one, the Empress may be found yet unscathed. Laserfire and missiles filled the air as the hodge podge rescue fleet poured forth return fire in the shadow of the drifting flagship.
 

 

Turning his head to surveil his crew, Kolchak noted the resolute determination by which each set about their task. The warning klaxon began to wail, indicating that the shields had reached a critical stage. Within minutes they would fail. He knew their hearts and minds, dedicated warriors and cunning adversaries; and so, even as he spoke, he knew that none of those under his command would falter. Keying the ship wide comms he spoke, his voice grave and gravelled, “Zis is your commander speaking. Anyone who does not vish to die such a death in ze zervice of ze lives of others is free to make vay to escape pods now. Zhere vill be no judgement. You have zerved vell. It has been honor. It vill be honor to die alongside you.”

 

Turning to Qessax, he offered a slight bow from his neck and waist in respect to the young warrior he had taken under his wing so many years before. “Live vell my brother.” Picking up the ornate baton that contained his recent promotion he thrust it into the Kaleesh’ hands. “Zee zhat zhis iz delivered under General Slaughter or returned to ze Empress god-willing. Safe yourself. Make haste to ze pods.” And with that, Kolchak turned to face his command once again. He leaned heavily on the console, the weight of their actions pressing in him physically as they weighed upon his mind. Not a soul left their station.

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Heaven’s Taint moved rather quickly through the air, avoiding everything that it could under the direct orders from Admiral Beck Pilon, who was currently propping himself up in a chair with a few wounds from the small engagement of Mandalorians within the naval base. The med droid did what it could as Beck looked around to see the overall atmosphere of the group. It was deflated, but not defeated. Sad, but not mournful. Pained but far from broken. He felt within his own chest a sense of a feeling, one that wanted to be sad, yet not strong enough to do anything other than be known. 

 

Flashes from turbolasers and shields filled his vision as he looked out at what lay before him. It didn’t feel like defeat, yet it felt like an end. What that exactly meant was still unclear to him. A small poke from the droid made him annoyed again and yanked his arm away from the droid. “That’s enough from you. I’m stable, go shut down somewhere until you’re actually needed. Lieutenant- brings us about four degrees. Signal the Constantine. Last datafiles are away and secure. After that, let’s head to the rendezvous.”

 

The Admiral then stood up and took a hard long look out the view port, wondering what was truly next for everyone, including himself. After about a minute, he turned and walked towards his own quarters to rest until their arrival at the rendezvous point. 

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Qessax took the baton almost stoically, if only because his years of training at Imperial Academy taught him to. A command was a command, and that was that. 

 

“Yes sir” Qessax said, refusing to elaborate. With a click of the heels, he turned and walked off the command bridge into a hallway. A distance away, an elevator waited. 

 

Qessax stopped. The others who did choose to leave the bridge had to make their way around the Kaleesh Imperial Agent. He was practically a black pillar in the middle of the walk way. 

 

“Agent Qessax to Officer Keels” Qessax tapped his comm. “Make sure that pod 2A does not leave without my authorization. That is an order. Qessax out” 

 

The agent sighed and turned around to face the door to the Command Bridge. He knew what he needed to do. Unfortunately, what was necessary wasn’t exactly easy. He knew the Grand Moff. Kolchak could be as stubborn and as intense as the metal in his eye. 

 

“Qymaen jai Sheelal…” Qessax started to pray a bit, taking his mask from his side. “Give me strength and give me power. Make your might mine, and your cunning my inheritance”

 

Qessax slid the mask over his face. Its white bone was perfectly carved at the edges to fit right over the ears, making it almost impossible to come off accidentally. While it was no war mask like his siblings’, it was intimidating in its own right.  Early on in Qessax’s training, the mask got him into a lot of trouble. But eventually people understood that when the Kaleesh wore it, he was not speaking as a member of the Empire, but instead as a member of the Tribe of Todda. 

 

The Kaleesh War Hunter stepped back onto the command bridge, hand still clutching the batan. He felt the eyes that looked at him. He took a breath. 

 

“Great Chief, I must demand a private audience with you” Qessax stated, trying to prevent his nervousness from affecting his voice too much. It wasn’t as successful as he would have liked. “And as a representative of the Todda tribe, i demand it before your pointless demise”

 

Qessax gulped a large piece of phlegm. This could be the end of his career, and he knew it. But too much was at stake.  

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Methodically, the white blade of the lightsaber peeled away layer after layer of melted duracrete and durasteel as she carved a passage through the rubble of a fallen prefab residential tower. The small group of non combatants that huddled behind her, staying silent as they watched her carve a way through the fallen building. She spared them a glance through sweat stung eyes and gave one of the children a reassuring grin. 

 

Most of them were the younglings of both orders, a mix of children from age twelve to the two toddlers that were being held by the older kids. At the one glance Sandy caught the eyes of the two oldest. Both Imperials, whose high cheekbones betrayed their royal lineage as either from Kuat or one of the inner rim colonies. They were the most calm, and gave her a reassuring nod as she pushed her saber through the last half a meter of permacrete. They knew their orders, and knew that one of the last shuttles out of the doomed planet lay on the other side of the fallen skyscraper. 

 

The two oldest kids made sure everyone else was on their feet, then when they were ready. Sandy kicked the permacrete apart. It came away in a large section, and she was greeted by a blast of superheated air and the prickly copper taste of radiation. She took a step back and called upon the force. Letting that singular joy run through her body before she let the force form itself into a shield around the opening. 

 

It was time for the children to go. The engines of the Corvette were already flaring to life and the support crew waiting on the ramp. The last transport out of Hell. 

 

“Go quickly.” The shield would not last forever, and with the large amount of radiation that was raining onto the shield from one of the many nuclear detonations nearby, Sandy doubted she could hold it much longer than it would take the last kids to make it to the corellian corvette. 

 

The kids ran then, the last one turning to give her a look of appreciation and regret as they sprinted their way through the rubble. Sandy watched them run, keeping the shield positioned above and around the stretched out line of children. That is until one of the Imperial Acolytes tripped on a chunk of transparisteel and slammed her head into the ground with a wet thud. Spilling the toddler she was carrying into the hot ground. 

 

Sandy moved, pulling heavily on the force as she kept a shield over the two fallen forms as well as the others. She knew she was close to the end of her reserves, the long day of battle meditation, fighting, and rescue operations stretching her to near a breaking point. But this was now a matter of life and death, and Sandy could afford to risk it all. The planet beneath her feet was dying, and would take many billions of innocents along with it. But for now all she could concentrate on was what lay before her. 

 

In half a second she had covered the distance and she scooped the two forms up into her arms. Joining the rest of the children as they ran up the ramp into the Corvette. At least one part of the next generation of Knights and Jedi would survive. 

 

And the starship sped up into the atmosphere.

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"What can I say, a killer recognizes a killer.” Darth Nyrys said after taking an introspective breath. “I thought that if the head of the serpent was sundered that… something would change. But I just feel empty and numb. You kill us, we kill you, the cycle continues. There are no Sith or Jedi anymore, there is only the war, and every day we cut away pieces of ourselves to feed it, and then we teach our future generations to do the same. 

 

There’s another galactic shakeup coming, I can feel it in the Force, but even as you stand on the threshold of victory do you find yourself any closer to a galaxy that stands on a sturdy foundation of liberty, or will you be sleeping with a blaster under your pillow and haunted by the specters of potential threats? We are all of us consumed.”

 

Her stolen power perched uneasily in her breast, like a feast of delights too rich for the senses to handle. Regardless of outcome, this was the end of her tenure as Dark Lady, for the throne was just another chain, perhaps the tightest chain there was. She would break its stranglehold and find freedom in walking away. It would be a setback for the Sith, but they always rose from the ashes of adversity all the stronger for it.

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The Constantine groaned beneath the barrage of Sith firepower. It moved to protect the pods of the Misercordia from the hellfire of the Sith fleet and bore the brunt of the assault. The wail of alarms filled the bridge.

 

“Sir,” called out the communications officer, “Heaven’s Taint has attained orbit. We have relayed the situation to them.” Even as the small bubble of life-sustaining atmosphere that was the Constantine began to fail, command of the fleet, the task of seeing the freedom and the Empress prevailed remained. Not a man or woman left their station.

 

”All power to shields.” Kolchak ordered as the ship began to drift, a shielding shadow in space. Only then, did he turn to face Qessax. “Ve are in emergency proceedings brother. Zpeak freely and quickly, zhen make your choice. Zhere are many lives zhat ve can save.”

 

New warnings began to flash and flare up as different areas of the Constantine began to vent atmosphere to the cold grip of space. Facing the mask-adorned warrior, Kolchak glanced over his shoulder, “All who are vital, to zhe pods. Make for zhe Ancillary Justice and Heaven’s Taint. Find zhe Empress!” He then turned back to Qessax, the urgency apparent in his one good eye as he planned to take command of the dying craft.

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Mordecai laughed mirthlessly at her words.

 

"What is madness but the deception of oneself? There is no question that I am a madman, not anymore. But what separates me from the rest is the same thing that separates you. Why we have bodyguards instead of an enlisted man. People put their faith in other people. Mine believe in me, and yours you. Even now they flood the ship in hopes of saving you. How many will die with this ship?"

 

He sighed, watching the destruction with a heavy heart.

 

"I would trade places with any of them though. To die gloriously in combat, to be relieved of the burden I bear. But we all have chains, Raven, whether you realize it or not. I thought mine was the legacy of my forefathers, or the machinations of your rebels. But I understand the truth now. The veil has been lifted, and the madness has cleared. My vengeance is the chain that binds me to this world. I thought it would end with you. That I could let go of this poison, that I could die in blissful relief. But even now, as you bleed out, I thirst for more."

 

He gestured vaguely in the direction that he could feel the force roiling. The Dark Lord would soon face her own trial, but he would be long gone by the end, regardless of who won.

 

"I'm tired. Exhausted. I've fought this war for my entire adult life, brought our empire to the precipice of victory with my campaign. And now, I see the threads coming undone. Exodus was losing grip on the empire, but he still fought to preserve it. Darth Nyrys wishes to willingly cast it aside, start from scratch with some grandiose idea that we will rise from the ashes."

 

He sat beside the Empress, his breathing steadying as he recuperated from his fight. He knew his next step. He needed to truly break free of his chains.

 

"My chains are perpetual. I understand now. I seek vengeance, and in that action, those dear to me die. Conveniently, another target for my hatred surfaces. But I will break free, even if the very forces of the galaxy will resist."

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