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Draken sat in the greenhouse and played the comm that he had received from Raynuk again. He had expected that this would happen, Raynuk had been troubled since his return to living and would remain so until he pursued what troubled him. It would prove difficult for Raia to adjust to this change so soon after her arrival on Serenno. He stroked his beard as he considered the problems then shook his head, he would deal with it when it arose. There was no point in worrying about it now. He stood up and began to walk through the greenhouse and looking at the various flowers that were in their infancy and those that were unable to handle the fast approaching winter season before stopping at the pride of the greenhouse, his black rose. As he reached it, the flowers turned towards him, its petals seeming to drink in the power around him.

 

He removed his cloak and hung it beside him, leaving his staff hovering in the grasp of the force beside him. Drawing on the Force, he began to examine structure of the rose. Slowly he began to modify the fundamental part of the rose so that the shade of the petals darkened but began to show hints of crimson.


E nomini patri, et Fili e spiritu sancti.

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Alora led her friend through the greenhouse to where Draken was. She smiled as they reached him, feeling the Force swirling around them as he manipulated the black rose in front of him. She couldn't help but admire him from his white shirt and black pants to his cavalry style boots. The two women stood quietly waiting for him to finish his manipulations before closing the distance.

 

Giving him a peck on his cheek she spoke up, “Draken, I’d like to introduce you to Darla.” Alora turned to the woman standing next to her, “Darla, this is my fiance, Count Draken Shadowlord.” Glancing around she asked, “Where is Raia?”


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Darth Alraune

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“Draken, I’d like to introduce you to Darla. Darla, this is my fiance, Count Draken Shadowlord”

 

Draken inclined his head slightly as he greeted her. “Welcome to Serenno, Lady Darla” His baritone voice filled the greenhouse. He arched an eyebrow as he looked at her, noticing an oddity about her. “You were a Jedi once and a Sith.”

 

He chuckled and turned, the curved etched saber on his left hip coming into view as he called his staff to his hand and watched the crimson lightning spark briefly in the orb before hearing Alora’s question.

 

“Where is Raia?”

 

“She is in the library studying economics.”


E nomini patri, et Fili e spiritu sancti.

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"Thank you, Count." Darla bowed her head in greeting, she hadn't been called 'Lady Darla' for a long time. "I feel very honoured to be allowed into your home."

 

Dressed as she was in her flight suit, she felt very out of place amongst all the beauty around her. She didn't feel very much like a 'Lady', at least in the sense that she didn't feel elegant or regal.

 

“You were a Jedi once and a Sith.” Those words put her on edge. Had Alora already spoken of Darla and her past, or could the Count somehow tell? Then as he chuckled her tension eased.

 

"I was, once a long time ago. But I'm neither now." Darla smiled, trying her best to hide the fading unease that she felt. "I hope that's not going to be a problem. I can assure you that I don't have allegiance to either, I choose my friends where I will."

 

For a brief moment, Darla wondered about how Skye would feel if she knew where she was. If she knew that her friend had pretty much abandoned the mission that had sent her to Serenno.


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"I was, once a long time ago. But I'm neither now. I hope that's not going to be a problem. I can assure you that I don't have allegiance to either, I choose my friends where I will."

 

Draken chuckled then shook his head. "Your allegiance doesn't worry me, I tend to see more then most and I see a great deal about you. Your time away from the Force tempered your fire though not to the extent you thought it would. But enough about that, I imagine that Alora has been filling your ear with wedding plans." He smiled and reached out for a nearby bell cord and summoned a servant.

 

"Have two bottles of red rose wine and three glasses brought here." Several moments later the servant arrived with the bottles one of an older vintage and the other from two years previous. "This wine is of my own design, created from the petals of a rose." He withdrew the cork with a flourish and poured equal measures into the three glasses.


E nomini patri, et Fili e spiritu sancti.

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Draken raised his left eyebrow when she mentioned about Raynuk removing her tattoos. She supposed it didn’t sit right with him since he knew how those tattoos worked. Unknown to her, there were only three methods of removal, and none of them were pleasant.

 

He said nothing further and instead answered her question, “‘Papa’ is an appropriate term although ‘Father’ tends to be used more often.”

 

In one smooth, regal motion Draken rose from the bench, signaling the end of their discussion for the moment. “It is getting late, and you will have another Bacta treatment tomorrow so get some rest. We will begin official training when your bacta sessions are complete. For now, you might find the Grand Library of some interest. If you go, ask for some books on the subject of economics, which is as much a driving force in the civilized galaxy as the Force itself.”

 

Raia only offered another nod before rising and leaving, Vex’aedr close on her heels as soon as she was out of the greenhouse.

 

---

 

((About five days later.))

 

“I regret that we have not seen or spoken to each other since the battle of Kashyyyk, and I know you were looking forward to and expecting me to come to Serenno to properly see you off on your apprenticeship to Master Shadowlord. But as has too often become the case, I found my attention and efforts pulled elsewhere.

 

“I wish I could say it was for a righteous cause, but that would be a lie little one. And though I am reaching out to you now, I do so only in the brief reprieve that traveling through hyperspace has allotted me, as I rush headlong into another matter of duty. I go to face it knowing I may not return to see you and the progress you have made under Draken's wise teachings until far too long.

 

“You are as strong of spirit as Vex'aedr is of body. Never forget it, especially when the path before you grows hardened, and you find yourself surrounded by doubts. I will see you again, but until then, take good care of Vex for me."

 

She’d lost count of how many times she’d replayed her father’s message over the last few days as her bacta treatments and her healing efforts had continued. Every time she woke up after coming out of the tanks, she’d dreamed he was standing there, waiting for her. Each time, she’d become more disappointed and withdrawn when he wasn’t, until that comm had come through after her last bacta session on the third day since arriving on Serenno.

 

Emily had been right. Raynuk had promised to meet them on Draken’s homeworld, and he’d broken that promise to her in the name of pursuing some other “duty” that had landed in his lap. What about his duty to her? What about his promise to her?

 

The message no longer brought tears of sadness or anger to her eyes any longer, at least. Knowing that she wasn’t good company, she’d barely left her rooms since receiving the message and opted to bury herself in the study of subjects that Draken had directed her to peruse.

 

Still, despite her disappointment and even anger toward his abandonment of her, she missed him and only played the message because she dared not reach out through the Force to find him. As much as she hated it, she still needed to hear his voice. She loved him and felt she needed him near.

 

Vex, having grown tired of both the messages repetition and the effect it had on the girl, had taken to lounging near the double doors that opened into her chambers, still maintaining his charge to guard her.

 

Raia hit the key that played the message again. She could hear the tuk’ata sigh from across the room.


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“She is in the library studying economics.”

 

Hearing this, Alora rang for a servant to go and fetch the young woman. It wasn’t long before she’d been brought in, finding the three of them sipping on the fabulous rose wine. The Sith Mistress introduced Raia to Darla though the teen remained quiet. It wasn’t long before she’d gone off on her own again…

--

(a few days later)

 

Wearing a sporty outfit, Alora jogged the corridors up to the door of Darla’s suite. She’d already stretched out her mental touch to her friend, asking if she wanted to go for a run and do some training so she waited in the hall for Darla’s response. Alora planned to run to the waterfalls and back, keeping herself fit and in the best condition she could be for the wedding. She and Draken still had to lock down a date and hope that everyone that they wanted to attend could.


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Darth Alraune

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Darla was a little surprised by Draken’ words. Was he seeing into her very soul? Of perhaps Alora had mentioned Darla’s time away from the Force? He saw right though. Her experience he both tempered and weakened her. She tried her best not to let her unease show.

 

It became easier when the beautiful wine arrived. Darla was impressed. Draken was apparently a man of many skills. The feeling of relaxtion returned and it felt like a vacation once more.

 

Their ward soon arrived. The young woman seemed a little shy around them and didn't say much before leaving. Darla was polite and friendly to Raia while at the same time wondering what the girl’s story was.

 

...

 

Several days passed, Darla just spent most of her time relaxing, swimming, meditating and generally clearing her mind. It had only been a short stay so far, big she already felt rejuvenated beyond what she had expected. It felt nice to just let go and not worry.

 

She felt Alora’s touch on her mind. Saw the image of the two of them running together past a breathtaking waterfall. Yes, that would be perfect.

 

By the time Alora arrived Darla dressed in her gym clothes.

 

”Let’s go.” Darla smiled at her friend.


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One and a half light days from Serenno, a Jedi fleet dropped out of hyperspace. The largest ship, a Nebula class Star Destroyer, the Justice's Mandate, was supported by a small cloud of smaller vessels including an additional cruiser and a dozen smaller ships supplemented by fighter and bombers. Only two squadrons of fighters were deployed to serve as scouts on the extremely off chance the fleet was discovered, the rest remained in their berths.

 

Adenna Alluyen stood on the bridge, waiting final confirmation of the infiltration team launching in a civilian shuttle purchased through multiple shell companies from a small company that operated in Sith held space and headquartered on Onderon. While it had no military background, it was registered under a company name that did business with Sith and would come up in the Sith Empire's systems as known to them, though extremely close scrutiny would possibly discover its dubious origins. With an empire that spanned as many systems and had as many trillions of beings as the Sith Empire did, it was all but impossible to monitor everything, so the Jedi forces were hoping that this shuttle would allow their team to slip through the cracks.

 

When they were ready, the shuttle had leave to depart and make the microjump that would take it into Serenno's orbit and to begin their daring heist on the Imperial Treasury.


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Aidan opened his eyes, ending the meditation. Checking the chronometer, he saw it was just about time to get things started. He texted a quick goodbye and thanks to Sandy before shutting off the comlink as well, making his way to the main cabin of the civilian shuttle and sounding all hands on deck. When everyone was assembled, he began his briefing.

 

"The plan here is to pose as a delivery agency. We're a newer company, having just set up shop on Coruscant. Our IDs should get us past customs, and if Crewman Hanzer did his job right, then our disassembled weapons should pass right through undetected. They'll be disguised as parts of the specialized shipping containers, and we can reassemble them for the hit. As for scouting out the bank, I want Kashi and Rush to pose as an electrical work team, there to survey for a security upgrade. Interact with the staff as minimally as possible, if confronted, take a comm call and claim your boss is calling you and exfil as fast as possible. The goal is just to get the lay of the land, we have enough firepower among us including myself and Kashi to improvise on the fly if needed. Meanwhile Nadil and I will procure ourselves a maintenance hovertruck.

 

"We should hit the bank immediately after it opens the next day. Security should be minimal, as will potential civilian casualties. Simultaneously, Grandmaster Adenna's fleet should pop into near orbit and start harassing the local security forces, pulling some heat off our backs as we exfil. Getting out could be tricky, but if all the attention is directed at the Grandmaster's warships we should be able to slip to hyperspace and meet her ships at the rendezvous point. If Lieutenant Foran is as good a pilot as she claims, we should all be home safe and sound in seventy two hours, toasting to our success. Remember, calm and smooth. Nobody is expecting us, don't give them reason to. Let's get this done."

Aidan nodded to Foran, who returned the nod and went back to the helm, plotting their course to Serenno. Now all they had to do was not screw things up.


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Kashi and the others were roughly in the middle of a wealthy game of Pazaak when the all hands on deck sounded, the Jedi raking in his winnings as the others did and placing them in his satchel. With a grin, he looked to the others. "Guess it'll have to wait until the missions over boys." Kashi chuckled. "Then I'll have to clean house."

 

He winked as the others laughed, and almost in unison, they departed for the briefing. Kashi eyed Aidan alot during the briefing, the Imperial Knight alien to him, and yet at the same time, vaguely familiar. Despite his distrust in these Jedi of an Empire, he felt a kindred similarity with the man. He couldn't quite explain it, but he felt better having this one lead it, with a nod of his head when he heard his part to play.

 

It was a simple plan, despite the many parts to play. But it wasn't Kashi's first time infiltrating, albeit, perhaps dealing with the Sith Empire. Force suppression would come in handy here, but Kashi had only used it a few times in the past. His biggest worry were the Sith. As the briefing concluded, Kashi approached Aidan.

 

"Excuse me, Aidan." Kashi spoke as he approached, his usual smile adorning his face despite the uneasiness on his mind. "You have experience with these Sith, yes? What should I do if encounter one during our initial sweep?" He knew it sounded dumb, as Aidan didn't know his full backstory. But in case of such an event, he needed to be prepared.


 

Sheog the Mad said:
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Is actually a tribe of autistic ewoks in a costume

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Posted (edited)

Aidan hesitated at the question. 

 

"That could get tricky. Almost everyone we come across won't be in the Sith military, many are just complicit contractors and the like. And most Sith aren't straight mind readers as well. If we don't give them reason to be suspicious, then they probably won't be. If confronted, act like a Sith. Get confrontational, but not violent. The Sith Empire is used to brutal efficiency, and they know if something doesn't happen that needs to, then someone's head is going to wind up on the chopping block. If they are made to think that they are interfering with something important, even if they have difficulty understanding the importance, my guess is they're likely to back off. Bluff aggressively, and as a last resort if you need to take someone out, do it quietly and don't compromise the mission."

He took a long look around the shuttle's cabin, at the faces of the people he was about to lead head first into danger, and it put a pit in his stomach. He didn't relish this responsibility, but if not him, then it would simply fall to the next person. The Sith were insidious in their fear mongering and oppression, and these thoughts weren't likely the first to pop into the head of someone leading a mission like this, and they likely wouldn't be the last.

"Look, I don't have any easy answers here. There's a lot of things that could go wrong. We're taking a large risk here, but if we don't take risks like these then the Sith will never be stopped. Whatever we need to do to get things done, that's what needs to happen."

He called into the cockpit, raising his voice from the low tone he'd taken to speak with Kashi.

"ETA to orbital traffic control?"

"Two minutes, sir."

Aidan turned back to Kashi, clapping him on the shoulder. "Don't worry. We're going to be fine. Better strap in for landing."

 

Thirty minutes later, they were on the ground and unloading their cargo when the customs agent approached them. 

"Registration, manifest, and inventory. Now, please, I don't have all day, captain...?"

Aidan put on his best sly shit eating grin, turning to meet the man. "Carson. Captain Elias Carson of the Lightspeed Delivery 2. My pilot has all that paperwork, and didn't we transmit it prior to landing?"

The customs agent got a smug look on their face, never breaking the gaze with Aidan. "Yes, well, I like to personally inspect newcomers to our spaceport. Give them a bit of an...understanding over what to expect from our planet, how we do...business here."

Aidan's mind raced. This was unexpected, but then again of course a Sith customs official would look to flex their power a bit. Aidan reached out through the Force in the tiniest amounts, trying to get a read on the man. He was obviously not pressed for time, but there were certainly stresses in the back of his mind, but with the Sith that was likely always the case. Their entire hierarchy was based on power manipulation and fear. But there was something else, something...

"Of course. Hey, Hendricks, pop the crates for the good inspector here, eh? My bosses did fill me in a bit on how I could expect this delivery to go. You know, I've heard a bit about Serenno, but you know I never imagined it would be so lovely. You should see Coruscant, completely razed to the ground. Good thing the Sith are rebuilding it though, right? Can't really count on anyone else to do much these days."

The customs agent's smile twisted into a bit of a sneer as he turned to walk with Aidan, who now worried he was making too much small talk.

"Well, of course I've seen Coruscant, who hasn't. It's all most of the holonews channels really play anymore, footage of the great tragedy of the jewel of the galaxy. Needed to happen, if you ask me, many people there who deserved to get knocked off their high horses."

"Of course. One of the many reasons my company even exists today, taking advantage of the upset in the previously monopolized market. You know, if you're looking for an investment in a fast-growing company, I know a guy, but uh...here we are."

Aidan had deliberately led him to a specific crate, finally nailing down the man's weakness: alcohol.

 

"My, oh my, captain Carson, thirty year Chateau Boulange?"

"Yeah, supposed to be for a dignitary here or something. But...you know...I think we may have um...forgotten a few bottles back on Coruscant. You know how that happens sometimes."

The customs agent's eyebrow shot up as his sneer turned into one of spite. "Captain Carson, are you attempting to...bribe me?"

"I'm just looking for a smooth delivery with minimal time in port." Aidan kept his cool, locking eyes with the man once more.

"A simple yes would have sufficed." After a moment, he cracked a slight grin, reaching down and taking two of the bottles. "And it's working. I think I'm going to need these for additional testing. Wouldn't want potential off-world contaminants to leak into our lovely ecosystem."

Aidan winked. "Of course."

"Well then. Everything seems to be in order. Enjoy your time on Serenno." 

Aidan stifled a large sigh of relief as best he could, slowly exhaling in a controlled fashion. But a few steps away, the customs agent turned, addressing him a final time.

"If you do find your way back to Serenno, please recommend to that dignitary that some bottles of aged Hapan brandy go well with dinner. If you understand my meaning."

Aidan gave the man a nod and a knowing grin, stomaching his distaste. He nodded to two of the crewmen, who went to procure hovertruck rentals. They were in. Their fake credentials and showmanship had gotten them this far, but it was likely going to be a very different story when it came to the bank.

Edited by Ary the Grey

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Snip

 

The corrupted rose bud slipped from its stem and fell with a thud to the earthen ground. Another judicious snip and the rest of the stem, with its thirty odd poisonous barbs fell after it. Burying itself in the dark loam of the Serenno gardens soil.  Small, nimble hands plucked it up from where it fell, and an answering thump from the stem and bud hitting the inside of a gardening pail told the Castellan that his charges were busy at their tasks. He ran a black gloved hand across the equally black flower of the next rose bloom and leaned close, opening himself to the force to detect any corruption. There was nothing, but he felt another presence instead. He spun around swiftly enough that the two children behind him cowered for a second before regaining their composure. He reached out again with his mind and his face showed a mix of fear and rage.

 

One of the children looked behind him but could only see the distant air traffic of the spaceport. She cowered again and lowered her eyes, setting the garden pail down on the ground beside her. 

 

“Spast.” Came the gruff voice of the Castellan of Serenno. “We finally have our incursion.” 

 

Without another word, the man walked off, leaving his charges utterly alone and confused. So they simply went to the kitchens for an early supper while they could. 

 

The Castellan, with a call from his comm to Sith High Command, informed the Sith military of the possible presence of saboteurs, but what could there possibly be of interest in the small kingdom? And why would the Sith care? He could not answer such a question, so he and his guard began preparations for the defense of Serenno. Dispatching a guard force to the spaceport, while he tried to track them down using him mind. 

 

Should actual forces arrive, then the Sith would respond, but a few paltry Jedi? The Sith could not give a damn. So these Jedi, whoever they were, were the responsibility of the Castellan to deal with.


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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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Kashi nodded his head to Aidan in appreciation, taking the Imperial's words to heart as he exited the briefing and prepared himself for their landing. He had never been to Serenno before, even in his time. But as they grew close and exited hyperspace, the majestic world loomed with an uneased sense of darkness. Kashi could feel it deep down in the pit of his stomach.

 

After landing, Kashi watched and studied Aidan's handling of the Customs Agent, focusing more upon his actions rather than his aura. After the Agent departed, Kashi walked up briefly, grabbing a bottle of the Chateau. "I'm taking one myself for our next round of Pazaak." Kashi spoke, some of the men lowly whooping in favor of the idea as he placed it in his satchel and back aboard the ship.

 

But now it was his time to do his part, a simple nod to Rush as both grabbed their bags and walked through customs with the wares, briefly presenting their falsified IDs at inspection before continuing on and out of the spaceport.

 

Their target was sophisticated, the First Imperial Bank of Serenno, rumored to have been nearly on par with the Scipio Vaults of the Banking Clan of old. It wouldn't be an easy task even with proper blueprints. But it was a chance they were going to have to take. Once outside the spaceport, Kashi and Rush both took public transports toward their destination, briefly changing into their uniforms before arriving. Departing the public transport a few sectors from the Bank, they continued the rest of the way on foot.

 

"Identification and purpose." Came a grizzly voice as Kashi and Rush made their entrance. 

 

"Ko'shur and Brush, New Dawn Research and Development..." Kashi spoke with authority as he and Rush flashed their IDs quickly, remembering Aidan's advice. "We're here with the software upgrade for the ZaiPeg Relay system."

 

"Isn't that done remotely from headquarters?" The Imperial Treasury Agent questioned inquisitively as he barely had a chance to eye the IDs before they were placed back.

 

"And leave it open to malware and backdoor viruses via the hyperspace relays?" Kashi snapped back, his gaze sturdy and firm. "I think not my good man. The Imperial Treasury would never allow for such weaknesses in their security protocols. Now if you'll excuse us."

 

Kashi grabbed his comm, acting as if he was contacting his higher ups, giving the Agent a look that could only perceive someone's job was on the line just as the Agent stepped aside allowing their passing. But now that they were in, Kashi nor Rush held no real clues as to where to go. The intel was old and outdated, and Kashi improvised to get them this far. Returning with a grimace on his face, Kashi questioned the Agent.

 

"Where's your mainframe interface? It seems our maps are out dated."

 

Just as he questioned, the guard pointed toward a sign saying Security Interface with an arrow point down the hall, to which Kashi thanked him as he slipped a hand in the Agent's pocket without notice, and he and Rush departed.

 

Thirty minutes later, Kashi and Rush departed the bank, complete with an security override installed in the mainframe's interface, updated blueprints of the bank, and a key card to gain access after business hours. With that, they rendezvous with Aidan and the others.


 

Sheog the Mad said:
oof Sheog

Is actually a tribe of autistic ewoks in a costume

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“And we trace the footage back and bingo!” 

 

The security officer, Sara Cruise whispered excitedly as she zoomed through the security footage inside the bank after a high security badge had been reported missing. That unfortunate guard was busy explaining away his multiple violations of security protocol to both of their bosses, but Sara had found the culprit. All she had to do is search for unreported access to security systems, and any possible badge swipes on the mainframe and viola! Two shady looking individuals had waltzed past security like it was nothing and did nothing to cover their tracks. She immediately expected it to be part of the yearly penetration “Red Team” tests that the bank conducted, but this was far too easy. She shook her head and took another bite of the offered doughnut from her partner who was busy correcting the security override on the bank's mainframe. 

 

“Why did they not disable the cameras Sa?” The rodian whispered to her as his suction cup fingers flew over his modified keyboard. 

 

“I don’t know Dee. But they pickpocketed Robb pretty swift eh?” 

 

"Right? OK so you are new, like almost right out of school right?" The Rodian did his best to blush, but Rodians did not have the ability, so his bulbous eyes just stared at her. "So list off the protocols for a data breach." 

 

"One. Identify the intrusion."

 

He checked these off on his fingers, leanign back from his control console. 

 

"Two. Assemble your response team, in this case us and the police." 

 

He looked back at his keyboard and seemed to be thinking before he spoke as confidently as able. 

 

"Three. Inform police and Administration. And if necessary customers." She smiled as she went back to writing her report. "Four. Secure all systems. That's what I am doing right now. Then we last but not least evaluate. How did I do?"

 

She laughed. "Just fine Dee. Get back to it."

 

She thumbed her screen over to her bosses’ comm. With a swift conversation, and another few calls out to the local authorities, soon almost all the local police knew that there had been a break-in at the bank. And of course, the Castellan and his men were also informed. Following standard procedures, and for the safety of their customers and their assets, the bank closed for business early, the staff evacuated and the mainframe isolated from the holotranscievers. The effected mainframes were prepared for investigative forensics. No transactions would come in or out of the facility while the Castellan lived. 

 

The Jedi were really after credits? Did they not escape with the Galactic Alliance treasury? The Castellan did not know, but what he did know he sent to the Sith High Command. Who dutifully informed him that his request would be shuttled further up the chain of command. He and a platoon of guards made their way to the bank, where they set an ambush for the Jedi Knights. For how dangerous were the Jedi really? 


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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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Aidan's face paled as Kashi showed him the access card. A trace. They'd left a trace, and well before the mission was even complete.

"That...was not part of the plan. While I appreciate the improvisation, it potentially compromises us. We need to accelerate things." Aidan checked his chronometer briefly before continuing, addressing the rest of their motley crew. "Kashi provided us an alternate means of ingress, though now it's a matter of time before security tightens. Someone is going to notice this missing. We need to hit them tonight, probably...an hour after they close. We can go in through the front and shut down the minimal security. From there, if we can secure the server room, maybe we'll have enough time for Dengo to crack the firewalls so we can transfer the bulk of their accounts to our blockchain ones. It would have been faster if we had the bank manager's administrator codes, but we need to work with what we've got. Dengo, can you do it?"

The man scratched his chin, muttering something under his breath before giving a slow nod.

 

"Good. All else fails, we hit them with a virus that scrambles their accounts and blow the whole building. If we can't get the funds, we at least don't want the Sith having access to them either. This bank is one of the largest financiers of the Sith Empire, and this particular one is where they back up their cloud accounts. We hit them here, and it's going to hurt. Everyone lock and load, check your mags, and load up in the trucks. We have a little under two hours to get this done. Dengo, send a message to our support fleet about the change in plans. Mask it with the carrier frequencies of the local holonet channels, I don't want anyone to have any idea it was even there in the first place until it's too late."

 

The grizzled hacker grumbled, getting to work on his datapad while Aidan walked off to one of the trucks, trying to clear his mind for the upcoming strike. This was it, it was do or die. He had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, but the Force would see them through. They still had far too many aces up their sleeve for this to be a suicide mission.

When the time came, they moved out, parking near the bank but not conspicuously close. As one, they moved up, weapons concealed beneath worker jumpsuits. The keycard opened the main doors, but inside it was quieter than Aidan was expecting. Not even a single security guard patrolled the main lobby, something Aidan was prepared to handle quickly and quietly.

"Okay. Get to it, be quick. Kashi, take Dengo and three of the men to breach the server room. You two begin setting up the demolition charges. The other eight are with me in the lobby. Don't get comfortable, I have a bad feeling about this."


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Adenna paced slowly back and forth up and down the small assault shuttle she and thirty troopers were in. They were on standby waiting for the signal from the team or the planet itself that they had made their move on the Treasury. The entire Jedi fleet was on high alert, ready to make the microjump in seconds after receiving notification or getting any readings that there were Sith forces inbound. Every starfighter was already deployed and ready to jump along with the rest of the larger ships.

 

A StealthX had been deployed now that the strike team was scheduled to make their move and had jumped in on outer fringes of Serenno itself so they could scan and monitor traffic, frequencies, and communications. They were in complete comms silence, but as soon as they saw one of several red flags indicating that the team had taken over the Treasury or that they were compromised, they would send the emergency message and the rest of the fleet would jump in.

 

For Adenna, combat was nothing new. She wasn't nervous about what likely was to come. Rather, she was nervous about the wait. It was the one part of combat she hated the most because of all the anticipation that built up waiting to explode into action. She had been in several dozen tactical assaults similar to what she and the ground reinforcements were about to attempt and most had gone moderately according to plan. Those that didn't were always chaotic, but the Force had guided her and she had come out mostly intact. Not everyone she had commanded could say the same.

 

Losing people who were following her orders was also nothing new to her, but it didn't eat at her like it used to. Perhaps it wasn't for the best, but she had developed an almost numbness to the deaths of those around her. Being in charge of the Jedi Order and its tens of thousands of followers in the middle of a war meant that there would be losses. If she felt each one, it would paralyze her to the point of being unable to take any action at all or rack herself with guilt and regrets. She recognized that being completely numb was also just as bad because it would cause her not to care about those who were dying and that could cause her to send people needlessly to their deaths. It was a constant struggle to maintain that balance. On days that she was on Nar Shaddaa commanding from afar, it was easier to be above it all, but now that she was about to be in the thick of things, it was harder to look at the helmeted and armored troops in this shuttle and know some might not make it back.

 

There wasn't much she could do at this point, though. The gears were already turning, the clock had all but tolled. Now was the time to focus on the mission and let feelings come later.


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Posted (edited)

When the briefing was over, Kashi adorned his gear and refitting his weapons, preparing himself for what may come. He didn't like the idea of stealing, or rather from civilians who only did their jobs, but he understood the overall necessity even if he didn't agree. His things together, he moved out with the unit and it began.

 

Before moving to the server room, Kashi moved to Aidan's side. "It seems you were right. I did compromise us. It's too quiet. The Force is restless, almost chaotic. Be careful." Kashi whispered, before turning to Dengo with a nod. "May the Force be with us." With that said, Kashi moved to the forefront of the group he was tasked with and slowly began making their way toward their destination.

Edited by MSA
Mistake

 

Sheog the Mad said:
oof Sheog

Is actually a tribe of autistic ewoks in a costume

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The dark painted star destroyers of the Sith Imperial Taskforces slipped out of hyperspace with all the eagerness of a pack of hunting wolves. The gingerly formed a screen at the edges of the planetary gravity well but did not encroach upon the sovereign kingdom of Serenno. Though their presence would cause alarm among the planetary defense forces, they were allies, so no fighters were scrambled even when one of the Victory class star destroyers spat out a half dozen assault shuttles that slipped into the upper atmosphere in a bright line that resembled, at least from the planet’s surface, six shooting stars. 

 

To anyone skilled in war, it could only mean one thing

 

The Sith had arrived. 

 

The Jedi could feel the spike in tension all over the planet if they reached out. And any that looked skyward would see the telltale sign of a special operations group insertion. This was a Sith planet, there was no reason to go in with guns blazing. 

 

__________________________

Fleet Group: Anaxes Garrison 

 

Sith Empire Destroyer Group [Turbolasers]

Taskforce Experience Green (1xp)

- Assigned Callsign - 

Hunter

KDY Victory II-class Star Destroyer Hellkite |9/9| 

KDY Victory II-class Star Destroyer Hellequin |9/9| 

 

Sith Empire Precision Strike Carrier Group

Taskforce Experience Green (1xp) 

- Assigned Callsign - 

Bow

KDY-Lancer-class Frigate Stormsea |3/3|

Raider-class corvette Oden |2/1|

Raider-class corvette  Herla |2/1|

Raider-class corvette Frea |2/1|

Raider-class corvette  Phol |2/1|

LC-Strike-class medium cruiser-carrier Nidhöggr |9/9|

 

Sith Empire Rapid Intervention Escort: Timely Response

Taskforce Experience Green (1xp) 

- Assigned Callsign -

Shield

KDY Kyber-class Star Destroyer Nástrǫnd |20/20| 


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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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When the Sith fleet arrived over Serenno, the scouting StealthX set sensors to active and took in as much data as possible before shooting it off to the rest of the fleet and powering up engines. As long as nobody approached the difficult to see ship, they would remain to continue to scout, but would flee at the first sign of attention. They were a scout, not a brawler.

 

Onboard the Justice's Mandate outside the Serenno system, Captain Gustav smiled at the news. He had suspected the enemy would attempt to come and they had done so in full display. There would be no question that this was a Sith target and that it was defended by an enemy fleet made this even more a legitimate target. He had never had any doubts of that, but knew how the public relations could play out, and having a Sith fleet here prior to the arrival of a Jedi one would play into their hands better, or at the least, it would limit Sith propaganda efforts.

 

"The enemy has arrived," he said over short range comms to the fleet. "It is time to begin executing Plan C." When the Jedi had been preparing this mission, they had intended on hitting multiple potential industrial targets throughout the planet. They had selected four major locations at differing points around the planet so that if enemy resistance arrived, they could hit something on the opposite side of the planet and buy themselves a little time. There were some setbacks for that, but it afforded them some additional options and forced their enemy to make some choices.

 

As cold as it had seemed, early on when discussing things with the Grandmaster, it had been made clear that there were two acceptable outcomes of this mission. Either successful retrieval of hard currency from the Treasury or destruction of one or more of the industrial factories supplying the Sith war effort would be considered a successful mission. Protection of the Jedi fleet from heavy losses was also a requirement, though successful extraction of the infiltration team was not. If the eight members of the infiltration force were lost, then that was a most unfortunate event but not catastrophic. It was pointless to spend potentially thousands of lives in the fleet to save eight. There had been some disagreement among the Jedi military leadership, but the Grandmaster had insisted: the Jedi would no longer allow their own people's lives to be used against the Jedi by sacrificing countless numbers to save them. Everyone in the Jedi Order and its military were volunteers in this war and knew the risks. It was a cold military calculation, but it was determined necessary to win.

 

Since the fleet had already been ready, they jumped within ten seconds of the announcement.

 

* * * * * *

 

On the far side of Serenno, opposite the newly arrived Sith fleet, a Jedi fleet dropped out of hyperspace after performing two microjumps from their prior position. Immediately, Captain Gustav sent a pre-recorded transmission out to the planet on a broad band public wave. "This is Captain Vlasmen Gustav of the Jedi Order Armed Forces to the government of Serenno. We are here to bring a reckoning for your part in aiding the Sith Imperial war machine. To that end, we will begin bombardment of the GalStar Machinery, Eurgani Industries Incorporated, Relvan/Gandor Shipping, Portsman Munitions and Explosives, Sooru-Hoffman and Partners Limited, and Incandron Industrial Tech Research facilities or factories as well as the Sith Imperial Academy. All have clear ties to the Sith Empire supplying its war machine as it invades the Galaxy and must know there will be repercussions to their war profiting. In addition, any governmental facilities or power grids may be targeted for ion bombardments.

 

"To the people of Serenno, the Jedi understand not all of you may support the Sith Empire. Because of that, and our desire to protect innocent lives and make this war about the choices of your own government, we will hold our fire upon these facilities for ten minutes so that the workers may escape. Make no mistake: after ten minutes, we will destroy those facilities, but we wish to give you all an opportunity to evacuate and will not fire upon any surface transports assisting in those actions unless they demonstrate hostility or attempt to protect or defend those locations.

 

"Your ten minutes starts now."

 

With that, the transmission ended and the Jedi forces readied themselves for the Sith response. Despite their claims, only three of the facilities mentioned were on the targeting range, but they didn't want to give away too much, and had needed to remain adaptable in regards to what the Sith were doing, so they had included all the names. Besides, one captain had argued, if the Sith were forced to evacuate all of the facilities, it would provide at least some small measure of disruption to their operations.

 

The Jedi fleet was arrayed not in singular battle formation, but rather in siege bombardment formation. They were scattered around the hemisphere opposite of the Sith fleet, capable of targeting multiple locations but not offer much battle resistance. Knowing the Sith would either have to make multiple hyperspace jumps or orbit the planet to get into attack position, each Jedi ship was on high alert and ready to reposition to jump within moments of a Sith arrival. Each ship from the Justice's Mandate down to the smallest fighter had at least four hyperspace routes pre-programmed so they could escape from multiple routes. Further, they also had return jumps plotted from each escape route so they could return to strike if the opportunity presented itself.

 

If the Sith approached the Jedi forces, they would simply withdraw or jump into hyperspace in seconds to avoid heavy losses. Even if the Sith spread out to engage the Jedi, they would not be able to cover everything since the Jedi brought so many small ships as well as multiple flights of bombers already positioned to drop small electro-proton bombs on major power generators and multiple regional government and policing facilities. They were focusing on the power grids supplying the most industrialized areas of the planet open to them but wouldn't kill anyone directly. Chaos would ensue, but cities wouldn't be leveled or civilians burned to char. Any planetary defenses were legitimate targets and would be blasted either from orbit if there were no civilian cities nearby, or by fighter and bomber squadrons.

 

The Jedi would be like a cloud of wasps: small but extremely numerous and maneuverable, swooping in on a planet to cause maximum chaos, disruption, and in some places, destruction.

 

For the landing teams, they had their own plan and had not yet made the jump to the planet. Instead, they remained in their original, deep space location. Though it frustrated Adenna to be out of the action, she had helped develop the plan and understood why she was still being held in reserve.

 

Jedi Order Armed Forces Fleet

Destroyer Group Turbolasers: Focus Fire

Callsign: Justices Mandate

Experience: Green, 1XP

Nebula class Star Destroyer Justice's Mandate (20/20)

 

Defensive Escort: Suppressing Fire

Callsign: Hope

Experience: Green, 1XP

Nebulon B frigate (3/3)

Nebulon B frigate (3/3)

Lancer frigate (3/3)

MC-30 frigate (3/3)

Raider II corvette (2/1)

Raider II corvette (2/1)

Hammerhead Torpedo corvette (2/1)

CR90 corvette (2/1)

 

Asset Denial Force: Surgical Strike

Callsign: Shocking Surprise

Experience: Green, 1XP

MC40A Light Cruiser Shocking Surprise

Nebulon B frigate (3/3)

Assault Frigate Mk II (3/3)

Vigil class corvette (2/1)

Marauder corvette (2/1)


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The civilian populace of the world of Serenno cowered at the transmission. What did the production of foodstuffs, rations, and support equipment such as bandages and underweave even threaten the great Jedi order? No munitions were produced on Serenno, and so those in the private industries who fulfilled military contracts did not dismiss their workers from their posts. What threat was there? The Jedi order were monks that upheld goodness and peace in the galaxy, they were not the kind of people that would order a bombardment. Such were the beliefs of the civilian contractors, police officers, and workers in the main cities. 

 

They were no great seat of power in the outer rim. The lords of the great six houses responded to the Jedi order with defiance and confusion. But did not evacuate the industries that kept their people from starving. They relied on the good mercies of the Jedi order, and their civilian police departments did not scramble their fighters in response to the incursion of the Jedi order. 


The Sith however. They were judicious in their response. Within a minute of the arrival of the Jedi Order’s fleet, a new set of calculations was pumped into hyperdrives and navigation consoles, and the small defense fleet microjumped to the other side of the system, turned their ships around, and microjumped back. It was then that they began to engage the Jedi Capital ship Justice's Mandate while dumping out a fighterscreen to engage the bombers planetside. It would only be a few minutes before the great guns of the duel cruisers Hellkite and Hellequin would engage the sleek nebula-class star destroyer.


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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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Aidan's gut wrenched. Something was seriously wrong. He subtly checked out the front windows again, no movement. No guards on the interior, either. They'd already managed to bypass internal security systems at this point, but there was no alarm, nothing. There was no way either the bank or Sith response teams had this large of a lapse in security protocols. Which meant...

"Sir, detpacks in place to blow the vault."

 

Aidan spun, slightly startled by the man. "Good. Blow them. Let's go down and help load out the hard currency." There likely wasn't going to be a significant amount of currency in the vault, but it spent far easier and was also easier to access than anything they would manage to strip digitally. He hoped Kashi and Dengo didn't have too much of a problem bypassing what would likely be sizable digital protections, but if they managed to take the right databases intact it would mean all the difference in upcoming conflicts.

A loud explosion rocked the building slightly, and as the dust cleared Aidan surveyed the inside of the vaults. Like he'd expected, not an enormous amount of currency, but enough to fill several reinforced duffel bags to the point they'd be very heavy to carry. As he finished up in the vault, the other two crewmen rejoined him, notifying him all the other explosives were in place to blow the building when they were finished. Hauling his bag up and out, he made his way to the server rooms to check on Kashi and Dengo's progress.
 


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Kashi switched to the rear as they reached the internal servers, allowing Dengo as much room as he needed to do his job, eyeing carefully his surroundings. As much as he would like to have thought he hadn't made a mistake, the more they had traversed, the more he knew better, not a single guard nor any opposition in sight. And the air, it didn't feel right, the Force swirling around them thick with malicious intent. Even the card he had swiped still worked.

 

"We're in." Dengo voiced as he sliced away, his eyes focused across the numerical formats scrolling across the screens, an unease in his voice. "Either the Imperials are lazy at their job...."

 

Just as Dengo managed to get the words out of his mouth, Kashi had to steady himself against the rocking of the floor beneath him, the structure rattling with the explosion at the Vaults. If one was to look at Kashi, they could see the unease in his own eyes, not just due to an act of thievery, but also at the fact that despite his mishap, everything was seeming to go off without a hitch. It felt almost as if it was too inviting.

 

"Let us hope...." Kashi spoke into the room, still standing at the door with two of the three guards as Aidan came into view. Cracking a forced smile, he yelled. "We're just about done here. If they didn't know we were here, surely that explosion did."


 

Sheog the Mad said:
oof Sheog

Is actually a tribe of autistic ewoks in a costume

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To Captain Gustav's surprise, it didn't seem that the local Serenno garrison was taking their threat seriously and deploying their defenses. That was more than a little bit insulting since it showed that the Sith supporting planet simply didn't consider the Jedi Order as a threat, or perhaps they didn't even think that the Jedi would actually carry out their word. He was relieved that they weren't scrambling their fighters to oppose the Jedi bombers and fighter squadrons, but that didn't mean the Sith weren't trying to get into the game. Their fighters might be a bit behind due to needing to make their microjumps and then deploy and get down to the scattered squads on the planet. Jedi fighters would need to attack their targets then come up to meet the Sith forces to give their bombers a bit of cover while they scrambled out.

 

As soon as the Sith fleet reverted from hyperspace on top of his flagship, he began ordering a microjump of his own. The plan wasn't to get into a potentially costly space battle, but to wreck damage on the planet and get out. The Justice's Mandate angled as it exchanged some salvos against the Sith fleet for a few seconds, then flashed away into hyperspace. Three seconds after jumping, they returned to realspace and began positioning to return back to Serenno when the opportunity arose.

 

* * * * *

 

When the Sith fleet made their micro-jumps away from the airspace over Serenno's capital, Carannia, the StealthX scout quickly noted it and sent word to the waiting assault shuttles. Adenna smiled slightly and strapped herself into one of the crash seats as the shuttles made the micro-jump into Serenno's airspace. Three shuttles reverted into realspace above Carannia and began an immediate landing approach to offer support to the team that was down on the surface. Adenna clutched the harness holding her in as the shuttle rocked and shook around her with the rapid descent. It wouldn't be long before she, long with the rest of the ninety Jedi troopers that were part of the relief force, would touch down and chaos would likely ensue.


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A ragged cheer came from the command decks of the Victory Star Destroyers, and while they did not score any heavy hits On the larger Mon Calamari Warship, it still felt like a victory. The skies were now open for a counter attack for the Sith on the distant starfighters and bombers that had been left behind. Space Superiority was now cleanly in the hands of the Sith Empire. 

 

In the skies of Serenno it would be easy to pick off the Rebel Bomber groups one by one. With full and utter control of the skies, the Imperial Fightergroups conducted a classic turkeyshoot of the stranded rebel fighters and bombers. And while some of them might achieve escape velocity in the heavy atmosphere while dodging missiles and diving TIEs, then break through the cordon of Sith starships and escape, it would likely be very few. With control of the Serenno skies surrendered to the Sith, the Sith fleet began to regroup for the next rebel attack. A few squadrons stayed behind to identify EV pilots and assist in pilot recovery for the abandoned Rebel pilots. 

 

There would likely be no interrogation, they had fought well, if futility. Such seemed the luck of the erstwhile Rebel Alliance. 

 

When the majority of the Sith Starfighters had reformed, they alongside the fleet, began to accelerate towards the side of the planet where they had left their Imperial Marines. It would take a half hour or so to reach the capital cities’ side of the planet, but that gave them enough time to conduct refueling operations on the starfighters. From the mouthlike hangerbays on the bottom of the star destroyers came a stream of Sith Assault Shuttles. Glittering in the setting sun’s rays like a field of dew sodden grass. 

 

____________________________

 

“An explosion sir.” Came the voice of the helmeted pilot, crackling through the assault shuttle’s intercom system. Spurring Delta to lean over his seat to look through the forward canopy screen, where the billowing cloud of smoke could just be seen over the rooftops of the city. Backlit by a flashing fireball that dissipated nearly as quickly. Delta grinned and slapped the man’s shoulder pauldron. 

 

“Set us down behind that lane of small buildings a block southeast.” 

 

“Copy sir.” 

 

He turned back to his command team and nodded firmly. They returned his grin and placed the T-visored helmets upon their heads. Delta strode back to his crashwebbing and sat down next to Lieutenant Haylee Langraf. She gave him a side eye and resumed loading and checking her old style E-11. While they had not been issued the weapons Delta believed they should have been in regards to fighting Jedi Knights, Delta’s confidence was still high. The logistics officer’s grim reply upon the Hellkite to the request for slugthrowers and sonics had been a quick ‘Kriff No’. Not only did the Hellkite not carry such outdated equipment, any that could be rustled up from belowdecks were of uneven calibre and not battle ready. This had been concerning for the team, but they all knew that a blaster, when properly aimed and used was just as effective against a Jedi Knight as a sonic rifle. The Emperor expected them to do their duty, and they were the best that could be found for this particular duty. Their commander had killed plenty of Jedi Knights in his day, and many of them had been there only a week before when the red faced jedi had eaten a handful of bayonets and flechettes. Their confidence was high. 

 

Delta ran his gloved hand down the word stock of the E-22 blaster rifle, and checked the readout in the stock for gas pressure and the ammunition amount left in the energy magazine that he had just slapped into the blaster’s receiver. Both readouts read ‘FULL’ but he still triple checked them, and the microreadouts on the magazines that were stored on his belt. He opened the double breach of the underslung launcher that was fastened to the bottom of the rifle and slipped in two green tipped concussive shock grenades. 42 mm. With a myriad of others on his belt. He took in his squad of men with a single glance and then stood with them as the shuttle settled onto its landing struts. 

 

“Langraf, you take the south streets with Alpha Team. Frostwin, North streets with Beta team, Sergeant Trefey, take Delta to the West. Hensi and Echo fall in with me.” 

 

Each commanding officer and their ten men would begin to form a cordon with whatever responding men the local authorities were bringing. Delta and his men would take the cordon closest to the Bank. And with them he set off at a run. 

 

His SCI scracled to life, a double beep indicating that the incoming transmission was from the command element on the Hellkite. 

 

“Darkhand actual, Command.” 

 

“Go for Darkhand.” Delta’s voice was terse with the sprint. 

 

“Notice incoming enemy EI. Three shuttle’s ETA unknown. BLUFOR reinforcements ETA one five minutes.” 

 

“Copy.” 

 

Everything always went to Corellia’s seven hells whenever they went boots on ground, or at least that seemed to be his personal destiny. The dark walls of the Bank loomed out of the dusk and Delta fel to a knee behind the engine block of a parked landspeeder, the distant flashing of emergency response vehicles coming closer as his men began to set up. If these were regular colonial police, then their presence was going to be useless. But even useless could be turned into an effective meatsheild. 

 

________________________

 

Inside the vault, a lone red lightsabre sprang to life, its blade impossibly thin and held by a darkheaded man in his early forties. A lightfoil, an old and elegant design, perfected by duelists in the Tapani sector hundreds of years prior. The man fell into the easy and relaxed dueling form and smiled a grim smile as a dozen blaster rifles behind him pointed up at the Jedi. 

 

“Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; The worst is death, and death will have his day!” 

 

It was a sonnet he had learned in his youth, and though it was melodramatic, it seemed to fit. But his grin of theatrical triumph was lost as the blaster rifles fired with a thunderous applause


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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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