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Darth Heretic
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At first, I couldn't believe our luck. The ship actually seemed to be mostly intact, even with those close calls. I was about finished with my quick sweep when it hit me. Not something I saw, or heard...but something I smelled. It was an acrid, chemical stench that any starship pilot learns to recognize. Fuel. Liquid rhydonium in this case. With a heave and a jump from my cybernetic legs, I was on the side of the ship, clinging to the wing. I had a sinking feeling what I was going to find, but hope springs eternal, and I checked everywhere before I finally looked where I suspected the stench to be coming from. at the joint for the port wing, I found a small damp spot. To anyone else, it might have been grease, but that faint green discoloration and biting stench were unmistakable, and its location meant only one thing. The fuel line had sprung a leak, and not a clean one by the looks of it. I sighed, but resigned myself to the work. This was going to be a long night.

 

On 12/8/2021 at 4:39 PM, Leena Kil said:

As Zeris came back into sight about the far side of the ship, Leena offered her a warm smile. “Excellent work Master Pilot. You are truly a credit to your profession.” Gesturing to the world about them, she queried, “What do you think of this world?” Leena did not want to admit that she was unsure of what to do next. The whole world was enshrouded in the gloom of darkness. Where to go after landing was as lost to the Jedi as this world seemed to be to the galaxy itself. Maybe after a night’s rest, things would be clearer; even if that meant a return of the dreams, whatever they may be, here, closer to the source. “Are we to make camp?”

 

I looked up at the Jedi as I came around from my inspection. I had to think for a second before answering her first question.

 

"...Bleak," I said. Then I thought, and added, "So far."

 

Before I could answer the second question, the Knight spoke up.

 

On 12/9/2021 at 12:24 PM, Skyshatter said:

"I would suggest we use the safety of the ship for tonight." Lok spoke standing atop the edge of the sea dune as he looked back from the shore in response to Leena's question. "This world is pretty well unknown and until we have a tighter grasp on our situation, I would suggest a solid fortification for night fall."

 

I nodded and jerked my thumb at the Knight.

 

"What he said. We'll close up for the night."

 

I looked wistfully up at the sky. If it was my choice, we'd take off and sleep in orbit rather than weather the night down here. I enjoyed a good adventure, don't get me wrong, but sleep was my time. It was safe time. It wasn't when I wanted some critter with too many teeth crawling around my home while I couldn't hear it coming. But it was what it was. 

 

"I'll be out late. Got to fix a leak. Ship could blow if we try to take off now."

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After some time, and some more jogging and exploring, Ruin finally returned to the ship. Covered with mud from the knees down, caked with a thin layer of dirt, and dripping slightly with water, Ruin commented nothing as he passed by everyone. 


Fera followed closely behind and simply gave a few beeps and whistles. 


“Mud hole. Nothing bad.” 


And with that, Fera followed her ward closer then ever until the droid got into the ship.


At that point, Fera turned and stared at what the pilot was doing, and got closer, not hesitating to use her claws to make her way up the ship’s hull to the wing. 


“Perhaps I can be of assistance? While my original programming was for sabotage, my processes have evolved to enable me to do some repairs and identification as well as deconstruction. I am also able to fit in more places on your ship that would take you much longer to access.”


 At this, Fera’s recobbled mandible arms, plasma cutter and welder, and it’s circular buzz saw. To emphasize her point, Fera even activated some of her tools. Still, Fera did keep out of arm’s reach of the pilot. It was clear the droid did not trust her quite yet. 


Meanwhile, Ruin had gotten onto the ship, not speaking a word to anyone. Instead he found himself in the cargo area, grabbing what looked like some dirty rags and towels and began wiping himself off. Only having one of his legs cleaned, Ruin looked at the now filthy rag. With a grunt,  Ruin tossed the rag into a corner, giving up on his cleanliness endeavor and went to find the others. 


“Place safe…” Ruin commented, approaching Leena. “Ugly, boring, but safe. Big grass eaters. Small bugs. Large mud holes. No Sith. Boring. Got to kill Sith. Waiting for now. Grrr, Sith…Sith are everywhere. Must kill them. Must kill them all… Coruscant demands it. Kill them all…” 


Seemingly finished with his report, Ruin walked off without warning. The large droid circled the ship over and over. Muttering over and over about what he needed to do, clutching his flechette launcher tightly with both hands, Ruin gave the impression that he would keep watch until everyone was ready to go inside the ship for the night.
 

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The sun began to set over the distance waters. The world was almost peaceful, save for that almost electrical buzz of the dark side that seemed to be an ever present source of distraction from total focus.

 

Leena could not help but agree with the others. Sleeping shipside seemed to be a wise decision. One could never be too cautious and there was no telling what came out after dark on this strange dark world. A breeze blew off the water, carrying a cool bite against the lowering air temperature. Turning, Leena made her way aboard, content there was little that she could do to help in the moment.

 

Aboard, a cachunk reverberated through the craft as the entire thibgb switched to emergency power. Dim running lights in case of a speedy exit were all that illuminated the gloom. The Healer assumed that had to do with whatever repairs Zeris had indicated. Besides, the droids were out there still too. If something happened, the Jedi had high expectations that the martial display made on Felucia could be put to lethal effect by their pilot. The droids, they just seemed to exude an aura of deep crime syndicate challenge to anyone that dared to cross them.

 

Squinting her eyes, Leena carefully made her way to what passed as her ‘quarters’, a corner of the ship that she had laid claim to. She passed by Lok as he set up his own makeshift sleeping area. Rolling out her own bedroll, she took a moment to watch the Knight, grateful to have him along. Whatever was to come, someone as sure with a blade and centered in the force would be a welcome ally.

 

Rolling herself up, Leena fell into a light, albeit fitful sleep plagued by strange jolted dreams of dark imagery and energy, of shadowy monsters and an evil queen. Tossing and turning she slept, subconsciously clinging to the faintest tendrils of light to keep from being pulled into an abysmal maw of leeching dark side energies.

 

Outside, the sky grew dark. The few faint stars that were visible against the whirling vortexes of space did little to illuminate the near pitch black that overcame the world with sundown. Even the almost still waters could not reflect the few lights that shone in the distant sky. Beyond the horizon, whatever Sith temples of citadels were enshrouded in a gloom that could not break the night. Nearby the herd of bantha moved carefully in the night, their beastly calls all that seemed to permeate the world beyond the gentle lapping of the sea and the work being done on the ship itself.

 

And so it was, for hours. Nothing moved. Nothing changed. The world stood at a stand still, even the force lay stagnate if not pressing from all sides. And so it was, until, it was not.

 

in the not so distant distance m, between the waters and the ship, a painful cry of surprise, fear, and pain erupted from a bantha, or so it would sound. This was followed by many beastly cries of rage and pain as the very ground began to shake beneath the ship. The majority of the herd thundered past and around it, bodies slamming into the aged vessel, as they fled or charged into the dark.

 

The jostling of the ship and the animalistic emotions, amplified by the force itself were enough to wrench Leena from her sleep. Drenched in sweat, she looked worriedly over at Lok. “There is more.” She hissed, her dreams and reality having nearly meshed at the point of awakening.

 

Rolling out of her sleeping bag, Leena climbed to her feet, grabbing a support handle to steady herself against the sway of the craft. “Where are the others?” She asked, looking at Lok, as she began to draw on the force, seeking  a calm center to find anchor in, creating a pool of it from which to draw on.

 

Outside, after the ship quit jostling, a calm seemed to descend over the area as the thundering herd of bantha vanished into the night. A calm fell over the area, until a skittering of thorny claws against the side of the ship interrupted the darkness. On the force, it was as if nothing was there aside from a vague tendril of dark connection stretching like a microscopic web across the area and down the coast.

 

Suddenly, without cry or noise, aside from the scratching, headless ape-like creatures materialized in the dim light of Zeris’ worklight. As if as one, the headless beasts, clawed at the the cyborg. Their thin covering of hair obscured their bloodless origin, more plant than animal. These monsters had one intent, to immobilize and drag any organic substance back into the sea. Any that resisted would be attacked mercilessly. The monsters immune to pain and even disemboweling, their innards sinew veins of vine and grass and ichor. Strong and unthinking, the headless harvesters had one intention, harvest the living, destroy what stood in their way.

 

Poison dripped from their claws as the silent sinewy musclebound monkey-things attacked. Zeris was their first target until they could crack the shell of the ship and salvage the morsels within. The droids would be ignored until they presented a threat to their sole goal.

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On 12/13/2021 at 1:03 AM, TerrorBot said:

At that point, Fera turned and stared at what the pilot was doing, and got closer, not hesitating to use her claws to make her way up the ship’s hull to the wing. 


“Perhaps I can be of assistance? While my original programming was for sabotage, my processes have evolved to enable me to do some repairs and identification as well as deconstruction. I am also able to fit in more places on your ship that would take you much longer to access.”


 At this, Fera’s recobbled mandible arms, plasma cutter and welder, and it’s circular buzz saw. To emphasize her point, Fera even activated some of her tools. Still, Fera did keep out of arm’s reach of the pilot. It was clear the droid did not trust her quite yet. 

 

On 12/13/2021 at 1:03 AM, TerrorBot said:

Seemingly finished with his report, Ruin walked off without warning. The large droid circled the ship over and over. Muttering over and over about what he needed to do, clutching his flechette launcher tightly with both hands, Ruin gave the impression that he would keep watch until everyone was ready to go inside the ship for the night.

 

I almost swatted away the little droid on reflex. Seriously, those clicking metal legs... Did I really want to let this thing tinker with my ship.

 

Yes. Because I was tired, and the sooner this was done, the sooner I could sleep.

 

Plus, I wouldn't mind having the big droid watching my back.

 

"Dig in," I said, and I turned to start opening up the nearest access panel. "Cracked fuel line."

 

____________________________________________________

 

It took hours, but thanks to the little buzz droid (and those tiny little mandibles), the fuel line was repaired in record time. I wiped my forehead, keyed up the ship's main power, and slammed the access panel shut.

 

I drew out a cigarra and lit it, puffing on it before turning to the buzz droid.

 

"Thanks," I said through my teeth, stringy smoke curling out of my mouth and into the night air, translucent in the worklight.

 

I took another puff, letting myself wind down. I was going to sleep good ton-

 

20 hours ago, Leena Kil said:

in the not so distant distance m, between the waters and the ship, a painful cry of surprise, fear, and pain erupted from a bantha, or so it would sound. This was followed by many beastly cries of rage and pain as the very ground began to shake beneath the ship. The majority of the herd thundered past and around it, bodies slamming into the aged vessel, as they fled or charged into the dark.

 

"What the kriff?"

 

I stood up on the wing, then immediately regretted it as the ship was suddenly in the dead center of a karking stampede! My metal hand clamped down on the wing, and I braced myself against the hull as the herd of panicked bantha thundered past.

 

For a second, I foolishly thought it was over as the last of the bantha lumbered past, a dark and hairy silhouette in the ship's floodlights.

20 hours ago, Leena Kil said:

Suddenly, without cry or noise, aside from the scratching, headless ape-like creatures materialized in the dim light of Zeris’ worklight. As if as one, the headless beasts, clawed at the the cyborg. Their thin covering of hair obscured their bloodless origin, more plant than animal. These monsters had one intent, to immobilize and drag any organic substance back into the sea. Any that resisted would be attacked mercilessly. The monsters immune to pain and even disemboweling, their innards sinew veins of vine and grass and ichor. Strong and unthinking, the headless harvesters had one intention, harvest the living, destroy what stood in their way.

 

Poison dripped from their claws as the silent sinewy musclebound monkey-things attacked. Zeris was their first target until they could crack the shell of the ship and salvage the morsels within. The droids would be ignored until they presented a threat to their sole goal.

 

The...things were on me before I even realized they were there.

 

Kriff kriff kriff!

 

I swung a fist in a perfect hammerblow, which would have been enough to severely bruise someone if it had been done witha regular limb. With my cybernetics, there was a sickening crunch as the metal hand connected with the nearest of the beasts reaching to get a grip on me, its shoulder visibly caving in under the blow as its frame literally shattered and compacted.

 

And the thing still didn't stop!

 

Training and instinct took over. This wasn't the first time I'd been ganged up on, but it was the first time hitting my attackers had about as much effect as punching a wall. I focused on defense, keeping my metal limbs and leather coat in between the dripping claws (probably something nasty, it always was) and my soft, remaining flesh. My mind was electrified, all weariness gone...

 

I smiled.

 

This was what I needed.

 

Let's see how much punishment you can take.

 

My metal arms continued to defend, shoving and blocking to keep the creatures from getting a solid grip while my metal legs, slowly and inexorably, started walking me back and up the side of the ship. A ripping sound filled the night as my leather coat tore from my shoulders, the weight of two of the beasts proving too much for the animal hide.

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"Thanks," the humanoid stated, finally finished with the work the two had been busing themselves with. Fera finished her own touch, welding a plate back into place, making sure it wouldn’t come loose during a flight.


“It is no trouble. During times like this, Ruin must do what he can, and I must keep myself busy.” Fera chirped in reply. The Buzz droid took one final scan over the ship’s surface. The Crate, as old and used as it was, seemed to be in a very good state. 


The night was cool, though Fera couldn’t feel it. The temperature readings could say what it was, but knowing the temperature and feeling it were two completely different things. Fera took note of the heat signature coming from the pilot. The smoke she exhaled was a clear warm contrast to the cool air. 


Then the stampede started. While the Banthas bashed into the ship, Fera gripped to the roof of the vessel tightly, groaning over the fact that there was now a bunch of new dents that she could not undo. 


Thankfully, Fera noted the other creatures approaching before the pilot had. Fera’s skittering became more frantic as she bobbed and weaved away from the other creatures. 


“How…odd. Plant based? Simian structure. Unknown species. Threat level increasing.” Fera crawled further back on the ship, the monsters starting to climb aboard. Some of the beasts were now tearing apart some of the metal plates, hoping to get inside.

 
“Threat level is rapidly increasing.” Fera commented, her antenna straightening and sending out radio waves. Inside, the ship’s short range comm system came to life. “Attention Jedi: we are under attack. Unknown simian creatures, plant based. Poisonous? Apparent target is our pilot. It is theorized they want you as well, as they are ignoring myself so far…”


Fera’s tools extended fully and came to life. With buzz saw whirring and blow torch igniting, Fera’s small arachnoid body leapt at the closest beast chasing Zeris up the ship. With a landing on what was assumed was either a face or chest, Fera tore into the plant-thing, burning and slicing apart whatever her claws could find. Half a moment later, Fera jumped off again and targeted the next creature and repeated her attack, only to be rebuffed harmlessly. 


Fera crawled back, and stayed behind Zeris. “Attention Jedi: Unsure if my tools are sufficient for defense. I recommend…”


“Blasts and bombs!”  a shout came from behind the pack of things, followed by the boom of a rifle shot. Ruin crashed into the first beast he could, elbowing it aside as he pumped his flechette launcher and fired again. The monster in front of him exploded in a burst of wood and metal shrapnel, pieces lodging painlessly into nearby creatures. 


“Gah! Pain and possibilities? Haha! Guns and guts! Bad guts! Black guts! Bad black guts!” Ruin laughed as he pumped his rifle again and fired, obliterating another beast at point-blank. Some of them were beginning to stop, and face the droid. 


“Come get me! You nothing, you sons of stumps! I rip you up!” Ruin mocked. The first one that leapt at him got the same treatment as the others Ruin had targeted before. A quick explosion of shrapnel at point-blank. The others dove in after, only for the droid to side step them and move at a mad dash, pumping for another shot. Now a small pack of the things separated from the others, giving chase. One somehow managed to land on Ruin’s shoulder, but found that Ruin’s arm was more than enough to throw the thing off.


“Guns and guts! Sons of stumps! Kill you good, haha!” Ruin laughed, firing again and again into the night.


Fera sighed and continued speaking to the others inside the ship. 


“Ruin seems to be handling himself well. But I am unable to help our pilot. I suggest you force blast your way out here and begin dissection. She is making her way atop the ship. I will assist as best I can.”


With this, Fera’s twin blasters began to open fire at the creatures from behind and between Zeris’ robotic legs. Small and petite and designed for softer targets, Fera’s blasts dealt blows like a bee sting to the monsters, still, she continued to open fire, as Ruin continued to drive attention away from the ship as much as possible and taking out what he could.

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Deafening Silence was the calm before the storm within the Force as Lok spent the evening in unease and tension. As the others went about their own duties, Lok chose instead to center himself within the Force and explore the world from his mind's eye. And yet, Byss, as peaceful as it seemed in appearence, was a beast of another nature, hard to read and aggressive as if it's very core held a sentience within the Dark Side. For Lok, a warrior monk dedicated to the nature of the heart and of the balance between light and dark, it was especially so, for as his mind flowed upon the Force's current, so did the unease.

 

Just as the purple and orange haze met the blackened sky of the oncoming nightfall upon the horizon, Lok opened his eyes to catch it's beautiful sight as eerie as it was. Rising from his meditations, he dusted himself off and returned to the ship, his mind lost upon the unease he felt, and even smelled, upon the local air of this world as he made his way into the ship and removed his armor for a cleaning. For those present, a big difference would appear between Lok and other Imperial Knights they had met or spent time with. But Lok wasn't your average Knight either. Where most were draped in fine silk or polyester, Lok's garments were fairly common, cotton and handmade. As he sat there, his braids shifting against the movements of his form in his polishing, his commonwealth was abundantly apparent. It made sense given his naturally common personality and appearance, but to outside observances, it was hard to tell with his Imperial Armor adorned.

 

When his armor was clean and all remnants of Outer Heaven had been wiped away, Lok readorned the crimson plasteel, shifting his braids aside with his hand and laying back across the netting he had sat upon within the medium cargo hold as he folded his arms under the weight of his head and crossed his feet. The feeling of this planet, the unnatural currents of the Force, the unease in its beauty, all still weighed upon his thoughts as he gazed up toward the hold's overhang as he barely noticed Leena watching him from a distance. Looking her way briefly, the weight apparent in his eyes, he only spoke a solum "Goodnight" to her as she turned in for the night before he himself did the same. But for him, it seemed an eternity before he was able to embrace the calm of sleep and even in its passing moment, the calm barely took hold.

 

Distant rumbling growing closer, the rattling and shaking of earth and steel, and heightened senses tore him from sleep's embrace just moments before the slamming and shifting of collisions. Lok jumped upward in the makeshift hammock to his feet as his mind slide into a hyperalert state, the Knight's natural reaction to place hand on blade and shift his gaze to his ally as she spoke. Reaching out into the Force, the first he was able to locate outside Leena was the pilot, Lady Zeris as the automations Ruin and Fera were more difficult to read. Without much thought given, Lok was quick to dart to her location and meet things head on in his own manner.

 

As the ramp of the ship descended, Byss it's self seemed to descend into hell it's self in the darkness of night. Silver hue enlightened the darkness as sapient plant based creatures seem to swarm the immediate area in droves as he brought his arm up to call upon the Force and defend himself against their glimmering gazes as their attentions turned upon him, but they seemed to be of one mind and regenerative as the onslaught sought to seek his destruction within the mudded veil of night. Spinning against the currents of the hive like sentients and sweeping his blade in arcward motions, Lok made his way toward Zeris and the two droids as quickly as he could, the screams of the sapiens echoing in the foreground of his movements as blade met foliage in his advance.

 

Byss had finally began to to reveal its self and it's nature was the stories of nightmares.

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Leena inhaled, drawing on the force as she followed Lok partially down the ramp. What was visible beyond the sliver of silvered light from the hold was flitting shadows of beastly forms. The voice of the diminutive destruction droid, echoed on the ship’s internal speak system. Already, the force users were plunging into the chaos. 


Leena stopped as she went down the ramp, slapping the closing button for the ramp. She hoped that Zeris had a way back in. She did not think it was worth the risk of allowing these unknown . . . things . . . from gaining access to the ship; their only way off planet. As Lok’s blade illuminated the darkness accompanied by the blast of Ruin’s weapon echoing against the open landscape. Aside from the squish of plants guts, the headless beings made no sound. Lack of mouth abd audible capabilities would do that. So to were they missing eyes and ears, drawn by other senses. The force perhaps? Something else?

 

On the ground, Leeba could see that Lok and Ruin were making short work of the swarm, despite it’s continuing press. With an agile backflip, belayed by the force itself, she arced into the air, landing with a thud of her boots on the angular topside of their ship. 
 

Here the beasts were clambering to  get to the others. Calling on the force, she felt it all around her, pooling like a reservoir of purity within her soul. Extending her hand towards a pair of sinewy ape-things that had made it atop the ship, she broadcast a surging wave of energy in their direction. It extended outward, expanding into a circular shielding disc. Invisible to the naked eye, it was as strong as durasteel and the beasts ran headlong into it, clawing at the sudden barrier in their path.

 

With one hand outstretched, Leena turned to find Zeris with her eyes. Seeing their captain approaching the crest of the ship, Leena used her other webbed hand to send a concussive blast of energy towards the beasts that clawed at her. Like the roar of a tidal surge breaking on a rocky outcrop the shockwave of energy rippled outwards. It’s power would be felt by the cyborg as it pulled at her. Leena hoped Zeris was holding on. The true cacophony of the moves power; however, would not be realized until it crashed into the pursuing creatures, sending them cartwheeling in a mess of twisted limbs through the night sky. 

————————————-

 

Prey, that is what they were. Little more. With the flight of the banthas, there was little other option on the desolate plane. On Byss, where life was rare, every opportunity to feed must be seized with absolute vigor. The beasts would not let these escape. The droids, a mere threat, would be torn to bolts and plating, if they had their way. The children would see to it. The organics, full of life, would be drug into the sea to feed their mistress, the mother of abomination. But first, they would need to be overcome, for it did not seem that they would come quietly. And so with the strength of choking vines and the ferocity of creeping thorns, the headless monsters fought, unrepulsed by injury or show of force. They were plants, sentient together in their unity, alone little more than hungering masses with singular purpose; a hive. The night was still long and they would only cease when they were each cut down and rendered unable to function or when the light of dawn would crest the horizon.

 

————————————-

 

Leena offered a grim nod to Zeris, having not considered Fera’s fate in the shockwave of the force. Her eyes flashed a grim determination, knowing they were in for a long night, if they made it that long.
 

As she nodded to Zeris, the Jedi councilwoman backed herself towards the other so that they could fight in tandem. A deep part of her wished she had taken the time to construct a new saber, even as another part of her rejected the thought immediately. With one hand, she held the shield, pushing it outward towards the edge of the ship that she faced, looking down upon Lok at the closed ramp of the ship; with the other she sent boiling blast after blast of telekinetic energy surging into what beasts she could to drive them back. The blasts snapped limbs with sickening cracks like branches in a storm; and so it was, stood the Jedi Master, a beacon of light side energy rebuffing the dark storm all about offering safe harbor within the shelter of the force.

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12 hours ago, Leena Kil said:

With one hand outstretched, Leena turned to find Zeris with her eyes. Seeing their captain approaching the crest of the ship, Leena used her other webbed hand to send a concussive blast of energy towards the beasts that clawed at her. Like the roar of a tidal surge breaking on a rocky outcrop the shockwave of energy rippled outwards. It’s power would be felt by the cyborg as it pulled at her. Leena hoped Zeris was holding on. The true cacophony of the moves power; however, would not be realized until it crashed into the pursuing creatures, sending them cartwheeling in a mess of twisted limbs through the night sky. 

 

Just when things got darkest, the Jedi and the Knight showed up. Just like a kriffing story book, I saw the night light up as the Imperial Knight's blade ignited with a hiss and began cutting through the monsters like...well, like grass. And on top of the ship, even as more of the monsters bore down on me, their powerful legs propelling them up the side of the ship and matching me step for step, a barrier sprang into existence, like a ray shield but without any kind of emitter. Then the Jedi gestured in my direction, and I swear the air actually rippled. It caught both me and my attackers, but I had two advantages. One, the blast only lightly buffeted me, as opposed to the creatures which it slammed aside like a rancor backhanding a scavenger. Two, this was my karking ship. Without looking, barely without thinking even, my hand caught the edge of a dented panel I never got around to fixing. As the creatures spun away from me on the wave of Force power, I jumped up, dropping into a true defensive stance. With twin clicks, my blades extended from my wrists.

 

 

12 hours ago, Leena Kil said:

Leena offered a grim nod to Zeris, having not considered Fera’s fate in the shockwave of the force. Her eyes flashed a grim determination, knowing they were in for a long night, if they made it that long.
 

As she nodded to Zeris, the Jedi councilwoman backed herself towards the other so that they could fight in tandem. A deep part of her wished she had taken the time to construct a new saber, even as another part of her rejected the thought immediately. With one hand, she held the shield, pushing it outward towards the edge of the ship that she faced, looking down upon Lok at the closed ramp of the ship; with the other she sent boiling blast after blast of telekinetic energy surging into what beasts she could to drive them back. The blasts snapped limbs with sickening cracks like branches in a storm; and so it was, stood the Jedi Master, a beacon of light side energy rebuffing the dark storm all about offering safe harbor within the shelter of the force.

 

If there's one thing I've learned from the couple of times I've been on a battlefield, it's this.

 

Cover the guy with the biggest gun.

 

Right now, the Jedi was fending off the creatures with telekinetic blast after telekinetic blast (a sight I wasn't going to forget anytime this century), but she could only face one way at a time. Plus...she was my employer.

 

"Thanks boss. I've got your back," I said, keeping it short and simple.

 

Apart from the the cutting and humming of the Imperial Knight's saberwork, I could hear the sound of the big droid having what must have been the time of his life, punctuated with blasts from that rifle of his. I thought I caught a few blasts from the buzz droid too, and I was a little surprised to find myself relieved that the little clockwork gremlin was alright. Although, she did help fix The Crate, so there was that.

 

That was all I had time to process before the beasts were on us again, vaulting up the side, undeterred by the carnage we were inflicting on them.

 

I grinned.

 

"Ready for you now mulchers."

 

These things were built thick, but my blades were sharp and my arms were equipped with the kind of servos usually reserved for industrial equipment. The first of the beast things to get too close got both blades straight through the chest, followed by a straight kick from my foot that sent him tumbling end over end into another that had been climbing up behind it. That left one of the beasts a little more alone than it had been a second ago, and I took the opportunity to chop down through its shoulder and deep into its chest, grabbing its flailing arm for leverage as I forced the cut to go all the way through, bisecting the thing and kicking the remains off the top of my ship.

 

"Let's go!"

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Fera frantically shot again and again. Still, each shot was nothing more then an insect sting to these monsters, a fitting comparison based on what Buzz droids were modeled after. 


Thankfully, the monsters seemed completely indifferent to Fera. 


“That is…odd…” Fera noted out loud, once the Jedi showed up and began their own attacks. “It looks familiar. The creatures are not focused on the ship anymore. They are targeting specifics. Organics from the looks of it. But why? Where have I seen something like thi…”


Fera never finished her observation, as that was when Leena’s force blast sent the small buzz droid flying into the air. 


_______

 

Ruin had begun to laugh with each blast that he fired. 


“Click, click boom you stupid stump sons!” Ruin shouted between laughs, ducking beneath one creature that had leapt at him. Sometime during his running, he turned around and began to face the things head on. But even with this, he didn’t stay still. Each blast he took a step. Each pump of the launcher he took two. Each elbow smack at the things that got too close only let him get more room to duck and weave. 


“Move or die! Move or die! I move! You die!” Ruin chanted, smacking another tree thing away before obliterating it. All around Ruin, more and more creatures continued to swarm closer, hoping to get an opening on the terror droid, but unable to get a good grip long enough to slow him down. 


“Gah! More and more! How long I kill? Too long! Hours and days? Don’t know! Stupid stumps! Guns stronger then stumps! Ain’t Jedi like, but I ain't Jedi! I fight! Kill Sith! Protect humanity… Oh the humanity!”


Ruin stopped. A pull at the trigger made a dull clicking noise instead of the usual blast. 


“Out of ammo! No time reload! Ammo at…get off!” Ruin shouted as one of the monsters landed on Ruin’s back. The droid dropped the empty gun onto the ground and reached around, grabbed the thing by its shoulders, and threw it into a gathering crowd of plant things. Another one charged head on at the droid. 


“Gah! You bad! I’m bad! Now I gotta punch! Smash and bash good, but guts and guns better! Either way, you dead!”


At this last statement, Ruin threw a punch into the charging monster. While the thing splintered apart, momentum completely stopped, it did not fall away and tried its best to attack Ruin all the more.


"Oooh, you not dead? Not good! Kriff!" Ruin stated as he kicked the thing away for some space. One of the plant monsters lunged forward, taking a swing. Ruin barely caught the blow in time and shoved it back away from himself. "Need better! Aha! Fire! You plant, you burn! Burns and bombs!"


Ducking, blocking, and dodging a few more blows, Ruin grabbed one of the plants that was knocked off balance by its own weight. With a quick cut upwards from the blade on his wrist , Ruin opened the thing up, revealing weed-like tissue and a bark encased cavity. 


"Burn and bombs!" Ruin chanted, shoving the now activated and ticking X-Pyre grenade inside the thing. “Screw guts and guns! Give me burns and bombs and bashings!”


_____________

 

During her unplanned flight, Fera pulled her entire body close together. As cobbled as the small thing was, her design was still very similar to what her model was created as. Still flying upwards, the small Pistoeka sealed herself in ball form. Tiny maneuvering jets came to life, and while they were designed for the vacuum of space, it did help smooth the flight and allow Fera a glance over the battlefield. 


“This is bad. Number of combatants is still rising. However, their actions are strange” Fera chirped to herself. “I wonder where Ruin is…”


Fera didn’t have to wait. A small explosion came from further in the pack of enemies. Upon closer look, Fera couldn’t help but chuckle. Amongst the monsters, Ruin was creating havoc by swinging a singular monster by one of its limbs. Each swing, more wild then the last, sent others flying. 
But Ruin’s swinging wasn’t what made Fera laugh. 


“Ruin, I’ll remember to refill your grenade after this” Fera promised to herself. Ruin’s makeshift club was literally leaking lit Worm-Spit, setting other monsters a flame, which in turn spread to the others that they crashed into. In very little time, the space around Ruin was turning into a hellscape.


“Burns and brains! Bash and crash and burns and brains, ahahaha!!” Ruin’s shouts and laughter echoed across the landscape. He was now in a full charge towards the ship, knocking aside everything he could. 


“Hmmm…” Fera noted. Finally she crashed into the ground. With the monsters ignoring her, Fera was quickly up on her feet and dashing towards the ship as well, literally leaping from one beast’s back to another, dodging flying monsters from Force blasts, and . 

 

“Jedi, got to alert the Jedi about my… Ah! Jedi Lok!” 


Fera spotted the silver blade of the imperial knight first. While the fires of Ruin were starting to get closer and shedding light on the area, Lok’s blade still outshined everything else in the night. 


“Jedi! I have news!” Fera bleeped and whirled as she darted between the Jedi’s legs. “These things are not a pack, but a swarm! I recognise their tactics from when before I was an independent droid and merely a member of a discord missile. They are following commands, and not targeting the ship itself, but you and the other organics. Which means, according to logic, that there must be some sort of master controller nearby hunting for organics.” 

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It was a moment of chaos and fright, this singular moment of fight with no option of flight. A moment of consuming, of life and death, a moment of a warrior's rite. Lok's life had always been one of struggle, of survival and strife. From the moment of his birth where he spent weeks struggling to survive to this moment where survival meant everything in ways it had never presented its self before. A moment of clarity for the life of a soldier where he realizes the purpose for every action and decision made leading up to that singular moment, and in that moment, finds himself.

 

Lok had never truly fit in during his time as a Jedi, his personality considered brash and stubborn. He had always been uniformed, quick to place himself in danger's path for the sake of others without regard nor thought of himself. Even as he walked away from the Order along with Kyrie and the others, he did so not of vindication or righteousness, but out of compassion and humility. For in his eyes, not one single soul deserved to suffer and their burden was to be his own. He would take up their strife and claim it in their name so they would never have to carry it. That had always been his duty. That was his path as a Knight of the Imperial Remnant.

 

But now, in this moment of battle, survival had taken hold. His focus was absolute, his strikes true to his aim, and the Force that flowed through him was in near perfect harmony as he stood against the oncoming onslaught of creatures and their bloodlust thickening the air. And amidst it all, the truth of himself shined vibrantly. He was a kyber amidst the darkness, the silver hue of his blade reflecting his intent and the Force rippling his manifestation. For he was an Imperial Knight of her Majesty, tried and true. And against the darkness, he was to be her beacon of hope for all who laid eyes upon him. Where the Jedi had trained him, the Imperial Knights had perfected him. And he was to be their example to the Galaxy.

 

For in war, there is only indifference. There is no emotion nor peace, like a blade unsheathed. It is meant to be used solely for defense. And that's what the essence of his soul was. It was indifference.

 

Lok's gaze glimmered from behind the blackened blood that covered his face as his blade arched it's way through another, the weight of his actions being balanced by the weightless blade he swung in their defense. There was little to be said. They craved the organics before them, a task he had noticed before Fera had a chance to inform him. And that had placed them into the roles of his enemy, and in extension, the enemies of his Empress. Due to this, his gaze was cold and emotionless, stone and blank, as he slayed those who made their approaches. He felt no remorse no more than he felt sorrow for them who had chose to place themselves opposite. They were simply a task to be dealt with, like the task he had previously performed upon the ship just hours before.

 

And even as he felt the tug upon his boot that sent him falling into the mud beneath his feet as rain began to pour across the blackened night sky of Byss, he simply reacted, with a swing of his blade beneath his feet as he sliced the tentacle like vines that had wrapped around his ankle before barreling into a roll and taking on the next adversary. For this was life, and in life, you simply live. You may struggle, and you may fall. But life was life was life. No matter the moment, you lived. And you carried those around you with you into the next. That was his purpose and the Force echoed it.

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Against the dark sky, it was impossible to tell the size of the mass that pressed in on them from all sides. It was like a rapid fungal growth, nothing was left in it’s path that it did not cling to and seek to absorb. Like this seemingly idyllic world, they served a darker master. Things were not as they seemed on this strangely inactive cesspool of darkness. This ship and her contents had disrupted had disrupted the delicate balance of this living yet dead ecosystem, finely crafted by the manipulations of the Sith of legend.

 

Backed against Zeris, Leena felt the force moving all about them. She could feel Lok moving amongst the massive growth that was the biologic shadow in the force. Elsewhere, plumes of flame erupted in the falling rain. The mechanized war machine made his own dent in the ethereal sea of the force. As it teamed with darkness, the unnaturally-natural darkness was beat back one flame-clubbed tree carcass at a time.

 

The force flowed like a raging current of purity mirroring the rain that rolled down her salmon skin. In and through the Jedi, deployed in a protective aura against the press as she and her cohorts struggled against the seemingly endless hungering horde.

 

A peal of thunder rumbled across the black sky followed by a solitary bolt of yellow-hued electricity. For a brief second the entire scene was illuminated. The scrub grass was slick with blood-like sap an rain. Seemingly  innumerable clawing bodies clamored over one another from the sea banks to the ship, surrounding it, tearing at the craft as they made their way towards their one hive-minded goal; flesh, souls, life.
 

In that moment, the force, clouded by the dark side, shone clear. Like a rippling brook refracting a drop of sunlight to illuminate the shadows and crevices beneath, Leena saw what she needed to do.

 

Sending a rippling wave of energy down the ship, Leena turned her head to shout over the din of the clawing monsters, “We are not going to make it like this. Follow me!” The force billowed, pushing rain aside as it pummeled tendrilled seekers aside. 
 

And then, she let the shield fall. Counting on Zeris’ cybernetic limbs to carry her where the force would take the Jedi Master, Leena’s legs tensed and she leapt. Borne upon the surging current of the force, the rain-soaked Jedi launched upwards away from the cacophony of dark chaos below. There, for a moment, washed by the purifying rains that fell from the dark sky, Leena was at one with the force itself. The line between physical and ethereal blurred and blended. A beacon of light against the darkness, she radiated the warmth and goodness of the natural force, empowered even by the life forces of these twisted and grotesque forms that sought to drag them to certain doom.

 

As her momentum crested, Leena turned to face the rain-soaked ground below. Drawn by the sight of Ruin waiving the flaming corpse of a plant goon like a divine executioner, she plummeted towards the ground, her body accelerating beyond that which gravity would naturally compel her; compelled by the incoming tide of the force. She hurled towards the ground, cocooned in a protective aura of the very power that pushed her. Slamming into the ground, Leena’s knees touched first. Her fists followed, cratering the rolling hill and billowing it outwards. Protected by the force, Leena’s  momentum blasted outward in every direction. Radiating from her point of impact the ground buckled and rolled; the air shimmered as the force churned in a shockwave of power. Bodies were knocked down and thrown into the air leaving a ring of empty cracked earth that stretched from the ship rocking in the blast’s wake to Ruin’s fire swinging body. Flames caught other headless plant-apes.

 

Leena’s eyes crackled with pure energy as the force radiated from every pore of her body. Slowly she stood. The thunder overhead cracked and another jagged bolt of lightning illuminated the field of play reflecting off of Leena’s glistening skin. Stretching her hands, Leena regarded the battlefield. She felt the impact in her knuckles and joints even though the force had born the brunt of it. Looking to her Imperial Knight brother-in-arms, Leena saw him fall. With a telekinetic tug, she reached for the warrior to wrench him towards her into the safety of the cleared circumference. “Let’s go!”

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I was tired. I was fighting for my life. I was in heaven. Every martial lesson, every bit of trained muscle memory and reflexes, every kilo of mechanical strength in my unnatural limbs...I was using it all. I tore the limb from one of the things only to use it to knock another off kilter, before dropping to one knee and hoisting the unbalanced creature over my head and sending it sliding down the side of the ship and into a cluster of the vine apes.

On 12/27/2021 at 10:42 PM, Leena Kil said:

Sending a rippling wave of energy down the ship, Leena turned her head to shout over the din of the clawing monsters, “We are not going to make it like this. Follow me!” The force billowed, pushing rain aside as it pummeled tendrilled seekers aside. 

 

I followed the boss's lead and ran towards the bow of the ship, sliding across the view port and onto the ground in front of the cockpit. I slapped the door controls and the loading ramp descended. Shadowy vine beasts lumbered towards me, and I crouched to stand my ground.

 

"Get on the ship or get left outside!" I shouted as I stepped forward, cortosis alloy blade severing a fibrous hand while I checked the tackle of another beast.

 

Stars above, this was the best.

Edited by Zeris Mons
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“Bwahaha! Burns and blasts now!” Ruin roared with laughter as a wave of enemies flew at and above him. One of the Jedi had let loose their abilities with the Force. 


“Old times! Good times! Blasts and burns and blasters! Oooh, I missed this! Miss so much. Boom!” Ruin shouted as he swung widely again with his makeshift flaming club. The entity that Ruin held by the legs had died long ago, but still sputtered a little bit of burning Worm-Spit with each blow. But where early it was a stream, now the worm spit was that: spit.  


Worse, Ruin was slowing down. 


“Gah, gotta bash and crash! No fire, no good! Man, need ammo! And gun! Grah, no gun!” Ruin fumed outloud. Eventually, the droid threw the body into a bunch of other plant-beings, clearing enough space for him to run and land on. 


“Can’t lose this! Nu-uh! Too good, burns and brains.” Ruin commented, pulling out the grenade from the corpse. Despite being in an oven for so long, the grenade looked perfectly fine, minus some soot and ash.


“Ruin, it appears that we need to get to the ship” Came a whirring of beepings and laughters. Ruin glanced down, and saw Fera beginning to climb his leg. "Are...are you ok?"


“Rah, drainings and dumpings.” Ruin growled as Fera positioned herself. The two gave a glance over the monsters surrounding them. They were giving the droids a wide berth, recognising that the two needed to be taken a bit more seriously. 


“I see. Low battery. Understood.” Fera commented and scanned the area. “Calculating fastest route to the ship’s on ramp. Uploading route to your HUD. That should help you stay focused. “


A beep came from Ruin’s head, who proceeded to give himself a slight whack. “Gah, brains and bashings. Readings and writings.”


One of the plants leapt forward at Ruin’s back. Fera gave a whistle in warning. The larger droid perked up and spun around, dealing the thing a blow to whatever head like thing it had, stopping it and forcing it to the ground. Ruin pulled back his own hand and shook it. 


"Grr, got to upgrade.” Ruin looked down at his own hand then the other creatures who still circled, seeking an opening. “Eh, slash and dash it is you sons of stumps!” Ruin called out, and pulled the blade from his back. 


The first few creatures that struck were sliced through barely. Ruin’s batteries were running lower and lower with each swing. Thankfully after the third slice, Fera commented about the vibro blade being on instead of off. 


“Haha! Gas and guts! Slash and dash!” Ruin exclaimed. “Blade came from an Abyssian! And this is Byss! Haha! Now ship we go! Go go go!” 


The next thing anyone knew, Ruin was charging through monster after monster, slashing through and through, finally crashing upward the ramp into the ship, and then frantically crawling up. 


“Batteries and batterings.  Charges and…and gah...need sleep. But kill Sith too. Sleep and Sith. Grrr...”  Ruin commented, positioning himself into a sit against the nearest wall. Hopefully someone else could close the ship up without him. 

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Amidst the chaos of the moment, there was silence encompassing all. Only the steady heart beating within his chest echoed within his mind as the momentum of clarity took hold of Lok's mind within the current of combat that encircled this sea of battle. Blood, rain, mud, air mixed within this singular realm of existence as life and death came to its peak of fruition. And these warriors rang tried and true against those who sought to claim them. For Lok, it was reaction to their actions. Mimicry of the masses. Death sought to claim all and all sought to claim life. For the inhabitants, it was life through death. For the group of aliens that stood to be nutrition, it was survival by taking life. And none truly held a semblance of darker natures. Only the natural order of life.

 

But what was the root of this conflict? What drove the hunger and bloodlust of the inhabitants? As a warrior, Lok sought to clarify this distinction within his own riddled mind. Against a horde that acted in tandem, surely one stood above the rest. Cut the head off and the body will be helpless. His gaze shifted about the battlefield, his keen sight following the Force to discern the abnormal as he arced his blade toward the sky and sidestepped the falling form, cauterized limbs steaming as the slid apart. Stepping forward into his next opponent, Lok's mind expanded.

 

Echoes of intent and hunger flowed like sea breeze across the cliffs that stood as testaments of their conjoined thoughts, the sea below the depth of their singular mind. Lok was a ship upon the currents of the storm, flowing across it's surface in search of the beacon that guided all. As another fell to his blade, sweat beaded down his furrowed brow as he submerged himself into their depths and sought to find refuge within the calm of their chaos, and yet, it was too dark to truly see within the murk that led their onslaught. Focus would be the key and serenity would calm the storm. But could two beacons weather? Or would one falter to guide?

 

Whatever beacon guided the horde had long blinded the ability to see beyond, the minds fogged against the setting. Only the emotion and hunger came across clearly. It could felt, smelled, and tasted. But it was blind as well as deaf, it's purpose hidden for all intents and purposes. Lok delved even deeper, honing his focus as he rode among the waves of emotion and bloodlust, guiding his mind's eye toward the veil that blanketed sight, a lighthouse attempting to slice through the fog that blinded the shore. But not unlike Mon Cal, the darkness that hid it's presence from him felt ancient and powerful. And as soon as he managed to pierce the blanketed veil, it lashed out.

 

Lok faltered backwards as Leena's voice beckoned him through the Force, but it was too late. His mind fought to remain unfractured as the onslaught of the hives minds threatened to break his own and overtake him. Grasping at his head in unbelievable pain, he reeled backwards toward the ship and away from combat as the others began their retreat. But the darkness had grasped his mind too tightly, and after the moment of clarity that it revealed, Lok fell to his knees near the ship's ramp before falling unconscious. Face down in the mud, the Imperial Knight was defenseless.

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From the center of the cleared land, Leena slowly stood as the ramp behind her shuddered and lowered to the ground. The droids, cut a swath through the chaos, bursting into sight like an angry alien spawn clawing through the chest of it’s host. They tumbled aboard behind Zeris as she too clamored to safety in the one headless plant-child field.

 

The rain continued to fall from the sky. It was bot a gentle rain, but every minute seemed to double in intensity. Falling in sheets, visibility quickly reduced to feet. 
Turning, Leena squinting against the onslaught, before making a mad dash for the white glow of the ship’s interior lighting as it glowed against the darkness, illuminating the rain in it’s warmth.  
 

As the thunder rolled overhead and the lightning danced across the distance sky, the darkness howled on the growing winds. It’s presence was strong, as natural as the power of the destructive power of the storm. It was twisted and starving for more, just lime the beasts that glistened beneath the droves of beating rain. As a particularly loud, earth-shaking pulse of thunder rocked the scene and a bolt of lightning struck the ground sending plumes of headless seedling children flying through the air in flaming gouts, the darkness shine through the fog of combat. To those that were looking, a dark presence, a natural and foreign being that survived against all odds, taking the dark and making it it’s own seemed to materialized in the storm clouds  above for a passing moment. The face of a female, beautiful and terrifying in it’s raw hunger. These countless vine-men were but immature children, bore by her womb for one purpose, to feed their dark mistress with no sense of self preservation. 


And then it was gone, the iron grip of a Sith Lord’s forgotten font of power erasing the ethereal vision and the shimmering connections. An ancient structure that oozed power, contained within long cooled forges that would spew forth ancient powers and forbidden magics to whoever possessed the power to overcome it. The storm tapped it’s power, feeding upon it as it was fueled by the unknown and ravaged the windswept hills of the world. Unnatural as it was powerful. Whoever and whatever was in it’s grasp, man, beast, or machine, would not be let go without a fight. Flight would not be a viable option in the night.

 

Making it to the ramp, Leena scrambled upwards, slipping in the downpour of rain. Her soaked clothes slapped against the ramp as she fell. Scrambling of all fours, Leena rolled into the ship. Bits of water flecked inwards out of the downpour.

 

Outside, the beasts began to close on the ship again, having been repulsed for but a few moments. Even in the downpour, some flaming headless ape-plants advanced like hell-escaped demon spawns seeking their prey.

 

 

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Ruin looked at the entrance ramp as the others made it back onboard. Or rather, one made it back onboard.

 

“Jedi…where the Jedi? ” Ruin growled out, his power core obviously near empty capacity. 

 

“He’s on his way ” Fera tried to calm the Terror droid, grabbing a few wires that connected from the ship’s own running power core and attempting to run them up Ruin’s side to an open panel. “But we need to get you back up and running. It would be unwise for you…”

 

“Gah! Jedi hurt!” Ruin exclaimed, shoving Fera away violently like a child refusing to eat a green vegetable. “Got to save! Got to help! Kill Sith good! Save Jedi better! Rip, tear, maim! Save and scare! Save and scare!"

 

Ruin was back on his feet and in a mad dash towards the ramp. Shoving aside the Mon Cal Jedi and the pilot if they got in the way, Ruin drew his own blade again and activated it. The vibrations of it whirred to life. Each thump of Ruin’s feet sounded like thunder beating on a drum. 

 

“Ruin, the jedi can…” Fera blared loudly, trying and failing to keep up with the droid.

 

“Kill the Sith! Boots-down and Hell-bound!  Guts and guns!” Ruin shouted again, leaping into the fray once more. The open area near the ship provided Ruin with the room he needed to get a powerful force of momentum behind him. Within seconds he disappeared into a horde of plant monsters, swinging and charging with each step. Even when a monster got in the way, Ruin's own momentum made stopping impossible for the droid. “Got to find! Got to kill! Gah, kill kill kill! Save save save! Pain! Give them pain!”

 

Even as the power in Ruin drained at a rapid rate, each motor went into overdrive. The wet mud that had almost dried off between Ruin’s joints literally began to boil away in a hiss of steam. The plant’s guts that splattered over his chest slid off in a roiling heat. 

 

While the Neimodian programmers who helped designed the B4-Terror droid tried to keep the programming simple yet effective, one thing the Techno Union insisted on was the Berzerker Protocal. Most means of self preservation on battle droids enabled them to last multiple battles. Even the bare minimum made sure that many battle droids would attempt to make sure their remains could be re-utilized for future battles, and only the orders of a superior could bypass these. 

 

The Berzerker protocol get rid of all methods of self-preservation, and with Terror droids, was meant to make them reckless at best, and downright kamikaze at worst. 

Ruin’s Berzerker Protocol had just been activated. 

 

Fera gave a sigh, and stood by ready with the wires for if, not when, Ruin would return. 

 

“Out of way, out of way, got to save, gotta save, save save save, kill kill kill, kill all of you kill all of you kill kill kill” Ruin ranted endlessly as he slashed and bashed over and over until the Jedi’s body was in sight. 

 

“Raaaah! Pain train, save train, choo choo I’m the train!” Ruin declared. Ruin  dissected the monsters nearby trying to his targert, and then, after sheathing his weapon, scooped the Jedi up as best as he could. Several of the monsters jumped on the droid, trying to stop their prize from being stolen. With hands full, Ruin could only try to shake them off and move forward and spin, using the things on his back as a weapon. 

 

“Raaaah! Out of the way, out of the way, out out out outoutoutout!” Ruin’s speech became more sloppy and difficult to understand. Each step faltered more and more. The motors were nearing the verge of giving out. Five more meters ahead. Seven more monsters. 

 

“NokillIkillnostoptheyoutsavejediraaaaaaghgh!” Ruin stumbled forward. Three of the things were on his back, pushing him down. His programming refused to stop, but his battery was dying. Several more steps. Another monster on the back. He was almost kneeling now, moving at a crawl with the weight of six things on top. 

 

“Killthemallkillthemalldon’tstoptillallSithdeadlikeCorescantkillthemkillthemkillthemall!!!”  Ruin shouted, still moving one foot at a time towards the ramp, where Fera could only watch from, unable to help in any way

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I stood guard at the ramp, watching as my employer and the droids got onboard, only for the big droid to tear back out, hoist up the fallen Knight like a sack of parts, and come crashing back through the crowd of monsters as if he was the personification of a speeder demo race. 

 

I had to smile. There was just something wholesome about someone who was passionate about their work.

 

Then I realized he was slowing down. His speech was turning warped. Something was wrong, this wasn't just passion for the fight like before...

 

"Ah kriff!"

 

The thing's battery was draining! And the creatures were piling on, as if they could sense that their chance at us was slipping away.

 

I instinctively took a step forward, but years of starhopping in the roughest parts of the galaxy had ingrained an instinctual grasp of when a situation called for hitting, and when it called for an alternative approach, and the sheer weight of bodies piling on told me that trying to punch out of this was a losing battleplan.

 

Then I had a thought, not from my combat training or tactical experience, but as a mechanic looking at a failing machine.

 

I stepped back up the ramp, ripped open one of the utility footlockers, and drew out a long, thick industrial cable with one of those universal connectors on the end...or at least it had been universal when this ship had been built way back in the Clone Wars. I doubt it would fit in any Imperial hardware.

 

Fortunately, that droid out there wasn't Imperial hardware. It was a relic, just like The Crate.

 

I tore off a maintenance panel near the top of the ramp, socketed one end of the cable directly into a power conduit, and sprinted out into the rain. The droid was nearly covered with the creatures. I leapt up and swept my leg in a lateral kick that any echani adept would have been proud of and knocked two of them off. I then jammed the other end of the now live cable into the droid's primary input port, connecting him directly to the ship's generator.

 

"Get a move on! I'm right behind you!"

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Ruin roared with life. 

 

“Raaaaaagh!” His voicebox exploded with noise. The feeling of so much unrestricted energy flowing into the droid from such a powerful source was invigorating to say the least. 

 

“Fitting” Fera commented with some whistles and beeps, not that the other Jedi could understand her. “A relic from one war supports another relic of the same war. And both from opposite sides”

 

Ruin’s knees no longer bended down to the ground. Now, with two of the monsters off and fully charged up like a bomb, Ruin broke into another charge, clutching the unconscious Jedi tightly. 

 

And Ruin was laughing the entire way. 

 

Before heading up the ramp, Ruin turned and slammed his back onto the ship’s hull. Once, twice, the ship rang out as monsters fell off, unable to hold onto the wild droid. 

 

Finally, Ruin made his way up, and if the pilot was either behind or onboard, Fera activated the ship’s ramp and closed the ship up. Ruin laid the body on the floor for the other Jedi to take care of, while he himself unplugged himself from the ship and began to pace, filled with energy that demanded to be burned off. 

 

“I and Ruin thank you” Fera beeped and buzzed, crawling next to the pilot. “Without you, I fear Ruin would’ve met an untimely end. Your creativity is to be praised” 
 

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Coming to a rolling stop in a puddle of water, Leena laid staring up at the bright interior lights of the ship even as Ruin charged passed her into the fray. Rolling over her shoulders to a seated position, Leena had enough time to take in the absolute chaos that was becoming outside just as Zeris rushed by her.

 

Pulling herself to her knees, Leena embraced the force. It flowed around her and through her crackling with the purity of energy found within the heart of a maelstrom, the maelstrom. Into the storm of darkness, evil, chaos, bodies and water her allies flew from their safety. Their purpose, to rescue one of their own. It was the Jedi way and Leena was a Master of it. Without leaving the  hold where her exhausted body sat, she directed the force itself to the aid of her allies, sharpening their senses and empowering their movements. Hopefully, it would be enough.

 

And as the eclectic crew fell to safety within the ship, the cute buzzdroid activated the ramp. Behind them surged a tidal force of hungering darkness, a swell of dark side powered carried upon the headless shoulders of the ape-men.

 

As she sat atop both knees, Leena leaned forward, her body pressing into the swelling clash that was the force. Light and dark collided like a tidal breaker sending sprays of energy in every direction as Leena’s hands extended. Her fingers stretched pulling her palms taut. A concrete barrier of energy materialized in a shimmering  haze at the end of the ramp bowling monsters back atop one another as the dark side crackled and sparked against the purity of purpose that drove them back. It arced from the wall to the ship in a glorious blaze of blue and white that illuminated the dark thundering rainfall. And against the onslaught, it held. The wall, nor Leena, faltered until the ramp clanged shut with a heavy resounding gong. The heroes were sealed within the space-faring casket as the hungering forces of darkness clawed outside seeking purchase upon which to tear into the craft and claw and dig until the succulent morsels of flesh could be attained beneath the husk.

 

In that moment, Leena fell forward, crumpling to the floor as her defensive wall faded in surrender to the protections of durasteel.

 

All was silent aboard the craft, aside from the clawing of the condemned outside. Water pooled from the heroes. The dark side continued to swirl about seeking purchase.

 

As Ruin gingerly placed the limp form of Lok beside her, Leena rolled her head to regard the fallen Knight. She inhaled deeply, searching for the deep reserve of purity that the Jedi Master always carried deep beneath the surface. The battle may be over for the moment; but she was not just a warrior or a guardian. She was a healer. When others could relax, she still had work to do.

 

Slowly, the Jedi pushed herself to her hands and knees, gathering the strength to push herself back onto her haunches as she turned to survey the Knight, her mind already probing her comrade in the force as she zeroed her attentions first to his physical welfare. Faster than the most advanced supercomputers the galaxy had ever seen, Leena’s eyes and mind scanned Lok Skyshatter’s body seeking any malady or malformation that might present immediate danger. To the casual observer, Leena’s eyes seemed to unfocus as she gave herself over completely to the force, the art of the small. Her body remained present, but her presence seemed to all but vanish as she found any wounds that required immediate attention on the man and started them on a rapid path to healing; pulling his exhausted body from the brink. The Living Force was alive and strong within the ship. Sensing that Lok was not awake even now and something else was amiss, Leena turned herself from the Imperial’s body to his mind; a much more complex thing.

 

And there it was, a strand of darkness that had found root. Even in the glow of light, it held fast to it’s purchase, seeking to replicate, to grow, and consume. It was a poison; a poison Leena knew all to well. Without rapid intervention, it could take hold and never fully be recovered from. Erupting back into the fullness of her body, unsecured items within the hold shook as waves of light energy rocked the interior of the ship. Leena was a master surgeon within the force, small intricate movements to bring about larger results. There were times; however, where a more brutal effect was needed. Where time was of the essence, Leena could not molecule by molecule build a protective barrier. So she resorted to a much simpler skill, one of the first taught within the Circle of Healers to any initiated Jedi. Inhaling, Leena pooled the force within her every cell until it felt she could contain no more. She grew the light exponentially until it seemed to emanate in a glow from her physical body. Then and only then, did the Jedi release that power in a slicing axe-blade of energy. Leena shouted. It was loud and wild within the controlled space it was unleashed in. Slamming her fists down on either side of Lok’s head, pure light side power erupted from her hands severing the tendrils of darkness and driving them from the shadowy alcoves of the Imperial Knight’s mind, inundating him with pure light side healing power. Outside, the clawing monsters fell back for a moment stunned by the display of light aide power before they were pressed on by their simple animalistic desire to find sacrifices fueled by the rage of a planet consumed by the dark side.

 

On her hands and knees, Leena’s face was mere inches from Lok’s. Her breathing was heavy and ragged as she waited for him to wake. When he did, a tired smile crossed her face and she rolled to the side, collapsing to the deck plating.

 

And all about them, the storm raged on. It ravaged the countryside preventing any take off as the winds buffeted and lightning struck.

 

And the thunder rolled.

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In the Darkness, there is light....

 

And Lok could feel it's pull as his mind wandered the void aimlessly, the insatiable hunger and lust surrounding his spirit and pressing against his mind. All were of one voice, of one thought, of one being, tempered only by its singular decree. And her gaze was beautiful, her eyes sharp and skin pale without flaw. She stood before him with a smirk creeping up toward the left side of her face as she coyfully allowed him to see her face in his unconscious state before she screamed across the vortex with fangs bared. But Lok was of the light and he stood firm against her temptations. He would not bow to subtle fear nor intimidation. For he had long faced his own.

 

Flashing back to Onderon in a time where Lok was but a blonde haired sprite, his time in the jungles were a common occurrence given his tender age. But such was the life of a Beast Rider. For they were of the earth as much as the beasts they tamed, living off what little they needed and leaving little marks of their existence. With his father to the front, they were taught to blend in with their environment as much as any predator or prey from the time they were able to stand and walk, never a sound until time came to reveal themselves to the beasts of the forests.

 

But Lok was a mere boy of three cycles, barely matching the weight of a large Gizka or new born Buma. So sound was little to be made, even in hyperactivity. These were skills that he would need later in life as with any tamer. But at his age, it was mere understanding and practice. The real danger stood in the footloose wanderings of a curious mind. And upon this day as the sun shown brightly across the Onderonian sky at three quarters, boredom took hold of said curiosity and Lok wandered away from the group mischievously. 

 

The cliffs of Onderon held many wonders, especially for someone small enough to fit through crevasses and smaller pathways uncharted by the tamers, and with their people having ancient origins upon the planet that dated millennia, there were spots that could catch eyes easily seen within if height matched sight. For Lok, on this day, there were older paths unused by the elders with paths marked by children of ages long gone. And in his curiosity, caves long forgotten. Soon, the presence, visuals, and sounds of the others disappeared entirely as his venture led him away and into these forgotten caverns that laid hidden away. And within the deepest of them, a hatchery.

 

For a child, it was a wonderment to behold, Drexl eggs laid about, some fresh while others laid fossilized by the passing of time and enlightened by scarce rays of sunlight illuminating the darkness. But the wonderment would not hold for long as shifting sounds and green scales bore themselves from the shadows and eyes not of his own met his. For in that moment fear and dread replaced his curiosity as Lok met eyes with a blooded Drexl, a creature rarely seen and born from the broods they tamed. For a Drexl to outlast taming and the wilderness for such a span was scarce. In fact, a blooded Drexl had not been seen in over a hundred years.

 

Lok stood firm despite his reaction to flee, his gaze caught in his surprise as he stared down the Drexl in a mixture of fear and wonderment as he noticed the graying of the scales and the wild gaze of its eyes. And in truth, Lok was more likely to be frozen in fear rather than firm in his relucance to flee. So the moment was locked and neither chose to move past it as it in its self passed frequently. And in its presence, it lingered for what felt eternally, until at last, the Drexl turned from the child with little doubt of retaliation and the child turned to flee. As fast as his feet could carry him, Lok took off and never looked back until he saw his father with tears in his eyes. When asked what was wrong, Lok could not bring himself to describe the event, and still hadn't to this very day.

 

For in the darkness, there is always light. And since that day on Onderon,  Lok has always been able to feel its pull. And as the presence he felt here on Byss showed its fangs, Lok smirked in return. There is light and darkness in every creature, every living thing. Nothing is beyond hope. Nothing is beyond redemption. And if he could connect with a wild and untamed Drexl that was near its life's end, then he could certainly stand against a lost soul such as the one that presented its self here on Byss.

 

Beginning to stir back in the real world, Lok opened his eyes to the Jedi Master's fish like face close to his own, its bulbous eyes staring down at him. Briefly freaked, Lok scooted across the duraplating floor until her face became recognizable before he settled with a smile. Hearing the storm raging around outside and the onslaught that tore at the ship, rocking it back and forth, Lok sat up and gazed around the room before settling on Leena. Despite the worriment they all shown, Lok's smirk remained. "A memory of my past came to me. As dark as this presence is, light still remains a part of it."

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I took long, heavy breaths as I listened to the whine of the entry ramp sealing behind me.

 

That had been close. A lot closer than I'd been in a long time.

 

I closed my eyes, and savored the sensation. It was like...electricity running through my chest. I imagined this must have been what that droid felt when he got hooked directly to the ship's power. My mind was as sharp and cold as broken ice. I was aware of everything, every sound, every smell, every tiny detail... I could smell the rough scent of cut greenery mixed with sweat and starship fuel. The scratches and rust spots running across the ship's interior like the striations of an ancient riverbed stood out to me in stark, pristine detail. My heartbeat thundered in my ears, but I could still hear the soft scraping of the big droid Ruin's footsteps as he paced, as clearly as rain on a still night.

 

It had been so long since I'd felt like this, since I'd gotten this kind of rush!

 

On 1/11/2022 at 12:07 PM, TerrorBot said:

“I and Ruin thank you” Fera beeped and buzzed, crawling next to the pilot. “Without you, I fear Ruin would’ve met an untimely end. Your creativity is to be praised” 

 

I looked down at the creepy little thing. If I was being honest, I might not have made it out alive without it. Its help fixing the ship had let us finish just in time. And that wasn't even counting Ruin's help. And then there were the karking Force users! Seeing those legends in action...

 

My hand twitched. Oh...oh I'd need to test myself against one of those eventually. Even if it wasn't these two...I'd gotten the scent. Now I needed the meal.

 

"No problem," I said, keeping my voice even as I drew out another cigarra. There was no way I was going to waste this adrenaline high without taking a few puffs to top it off. "You did good too." I looked over and saw the Jedi and the Knight were still focused on each other. I lowered my voice. "Maintenance code is 34A27X9. Won't let you take off, but if you need something..." I shrugged.

 

I'm honestly not sure why I did it. My ship was my ship. That had always been a constant for me. It never flew without me, and no one worked on it without me. But...ah, whatever. Maybe I was just feeling too good to care, or maybe I actually liked the little buzzdroid.

 

Raising my voice so everyone could hear me. "I'm going to sleep and recharge. Wake me if something figures out how to get in." I sat down in the pilots seat and drew out a series of smaller cables tucked under the cushion. With the quick ease of practice, I slotted each cable into one of my cybernetics, a soft beep confirming that their internal power cells were charging.

 

I looked back at the Jedi as I leaned back the chair. "Boss, we move out on your order."

 

I hoped she'd wait till dawn. 

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And so did the rest of the night pass with little incident. Safely nestled within the confines of the ship, the party was untouchable by the ravenous headless abominations. The ship was buffeted by the storm as the muted thunder continued to roll.

 

Just before dawn crested the distant horizon, an odd peace seemed to fall over the ship. Finally the scratching and clawing of the horde fell away. All that remained was the steady drumming of heavy rainfall and the distance peal of thunder as it tumbled across the sky. The horde fell back, retreating like the outgoing tide to the sea.

 

Inside, Leena had finally picked herself up and made her way to her bunk. There she spent the remainder of the night in a restless fitful sleep. The sounds of the beasts coupled with the storm mingled with the overwhelming probing of the dark side against their lifeboat of light. As the beasts receded, finally Leena slipped into a deep drool-inducing sleep, her body cocooned within a tidal pool of residual light side energies.

 

The storm would carry on throughout the day. The world returned to a lifeless plain of grays, browns, and blacks. Any sign of the beasts was gone, the fallen carried back to the seashore by their brethren and back along the coastline towards the cliffs where they vanished into a flooded cleft of inky shadow.

 

Waking when the others did, Leena changed into a fresh set of heavy Jedi robes, the traditional browns and beiges in opposition to her usual medical whites. Grabbing a pair nutrition bars, Leena offered one to Zeris. She smiled, tiredly. “You did a good job last night my friend. Where did Joe manage to find you? You are truly a blessing from the force. Last night made me wish I still had my lightsaber; even if I am not a warrior of your caliber.” Unwrapping her nutri-stick with a crinkle, Leena took a bite and chewed it thoughtfully. 

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For most of the night, Ruin paced the ship. The clunkings of his feet echoed in the ship, only sounding out with the clankings and beatings the ship received from the monsters. It wasn’t until a few hours till morning did the mechanical being sat down and powered down. At this point did Fera do her own work. 


For most of the night, Fera simply sat and waited. The codes the pilot had given freely were safely stored in memory. There was little she could do besides charge her own batteries, and then observe and analyze. When Ruin finally sat down, Fera plugged the ship’s cables into the droid to help the charge process. 

 

Finally, the sun arose behind dark clouds, and like clockwork, Ruin activated himself and strolled to the ship’s exit. With Fera’s help, the ship doors opened, allowing the droid to exit. The water trickled down the metal chassis smoothly. In a way that would be boring to  most beings, Ruin looked up at the clouds. For a moment, Ruin simply stared, as if he could see the sun behind the clouds. 

 

“Guns and guts. Shields and shores. Calms and calamities” 


Fera, atop the soldier’s shoulder, nodded. “Indeed.”


With that, the two made their way from the ship towards the fields nearby. The utter lack of bodies and the rainfall didn’t hide all evidence of the battle last night. Splotches of black blood still  stained the trampled grass. Scorch marks from X-Pyre worm spit had smoldered out at some point, but the smell of burnt organics was still there. 


There, amongst the grass, Ruin found what he searched for. The droid picked up the battered remains of the Flachette launcher dropped in the desperate battle. Ruin wiped off some of the mud and blood and water. The dents were extravagant to say the least. 


“Bashings and bruisings.” Ruin stated, shaking his head. 


“Perhaps. But it is still usable. I will repair it once we leave the planet, but the accuracy will need to be adjusted with each shot”


“Heh, thrashings and crashing. Firings and frackings.”


Eventually, the two returned to the ship, just in time for the others to wake up. 

 

“Mornings and mournings!” Ruin declared, banging one of the ship’s walls. “Sunrises and demises.” 

 

“What Ruin is saying” Fera translated with her typical binary beepings to whoever would listen. “Is that its time to get to work.” 

 

“Huntings and hurtings. Searchings and Scorchings?” With this, Ruin reloaded and pumped the weapon in his hands, as if to demonstrate further his desires. 

Edited by TerrorBot
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The rest of the night laid uneventful for the Imperial Knight Lok Skyshatter, or as he was known on his world as Lok Shattered-Sky. As the others rested as best they could, Lok spent most of it removing and cleaning his muddied armor and patching the wounds that were inflicted. His ankle ached where the tendrils had bound themselves to him during the fight, and his body weighed heavily from the action. He moved against the soreness with minor hindrance even as he located scratches and a few minor cuts around the gaps of the plasteel. But the major of the damage laid in his stamina, the ache of tiredness calling to his restless mind.

 

But how could anyone sleep with the looming threat of enemies at their door? He would spend the rest of the night in the silence of his hammock, one leg propped against the supplies that held the makeshift bedding together as he watched over those that found solace in the deafening silence that inevitably fell upon them as morning dawned. And during that time, his mind played out the visions he received during his link with the beasts he fought. This world held a darkness that encased its very core and bled into any life it sustained. The mind he encountered in leading the horde was likely a byproduct of such a ill conceived fate.

 

As the others began to stir, Lok rose from his dreary rest and began locating the MREs, finding a box of nutribars mixed with a few packages of instacaf. After regaining what nutrients he lost over the course of the night, Lok replaced his patched armor and meditated to regain his strength. And as Ruin stepped out upon the shoreline, Lok followed. Letting the rain fall upon his face and rinse clean the murk from the night before, he turned his gaze upon the shore. It was just as he thought. The inhabitants they fought left little trace of themselves behind after returning to their home before dawn. But as with all life, presences cannot be swept away, and each lingers even after departure. A small piece is always left behind where one had been, just as a part of them would remain after they were to leave. 

 

But leaving this day would not be in the cards for Lok and this group. Leena's tribulations were of importance and Lok would not abandon her despite his dislike for her Order. Gazing down the shore, Lok cleared his nostrils of the local pollen before heading back to the ship. As he climbed the boarding ramp, he turned toward Leena. "Their presence lingers down the shoreline. I'm sure we can follow them and find the mystery behind them and possibly your dreams."

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I slept more comfortably that night than I really should have. The thumping and scraping of the horde outside should have had me on edge, no matter how tired I was. There'd been a few times in the past when I'd had similar situations, like when I rented that room in Lower Coruscant, and spent half the night listening to a pair of Aqualish get into what must have been a serious argument. I don't care how much of a tough person you think you are, hearing a pair of those spidery squealers going at it for a few hours is enough to raise anyone's blood pressure. But last night...I slept like a rock.

 

Maybe it was the Knight and Jedi, and that feeling I got from them. Or maybe it was the droid. Weird as it was, he seemed dependable. Like well-tuned, extremely loud swoop bike.

 

In any case, I woke up refreshed and ready, and my arms and legs hummed with full charges for each.

 

On 1/14/2022 at 11:25 PM, Leena Kil said:

Waking when the others did, Leena changed into a fresh set of heavy Jedi robes, the traditional browns and beiges in opposition to her usual medical whites. Grabbing a pair nutrition bars, Leena offered one to Zeris. She smiled, tiredly. “You did a good job last night my friend. Where did Joe manage to find you? You are truly a blessing from the force. Last night made me wish I still had my lightsaber; even if I am not a warrior of your caliber.” Unwrapping her nutri-stick with a crinkle, Leena took a bite and chewed it thoughtfully. 

 

"Thanks," I said, taking the bar with a nod. I bit into it and chewed with relish. This was the good brand.

 

"Those powers of yours are handy," I said after I swallowed my first bite. "Someone might have died without you."

 

I took another bite, squishing it in my teeth more thoughtfully, savoring the breakfast.

 

"Everyone did good." I smiled. "It was fun."

 

On 1/16/2022 at 11:47 PM, TerrorBot said:

Eventually, the two returned to the ship, just in time for the others to wake up. 

 

“Mornings and mournings!” Ruin declared, banging one of the ship’s walls. “Sunrises and demises.” 

 

“What Ruin is saying” Fera translated with her typical binary beepings to whoever would listen. “Is that its time to get to work.” 

 

“Huntings and hurtings. Searchings and Scorchings?” With this, Ruin reloaded and pumped the weapon in his hands, as if to demonstrate further his desires.

 

I ate the last bit of the nutri-stick, and stood up. The droid was right, no sense waiting around. As I stood, I noted the spear I'd been given on Felucia.

 

Well, best practice is real practice, I thought.

 

I grabbed an old loading strap, wound it into a makeshift strap that I wrapped around the spear haft and slipped it over my shoulders, letting the weapon rest against my back. I packed the two chemicals the Felucian had given me along with the spear into my coat pockets

 

14 hours ago, Skyshatter said:

But leaving this day would not be in the cards for Lok and this group. Leena's tribulations were of importance and Lok would not abandon her despite his dislike for her Order. Gazing down the shore, Lok cleared his nostrils of the local pollen before heading back to the ship. As he climbed the boarding ramp, he turned toward Leena. "Their presence lingers down the shoreline. I'm sure we can follow them and find the mystery behind them and possibly your dreams."

 

Sounded like a plan to me.

 

"Ship's door code is A47EX." I opened up the ramp, the sound of rain pattering on the grass suddenly filling the ship.

 

I walked out into the rain and started heading up the shoreline.

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Fun was not the word Leena would have chosen, nothing close. She always struggled to understand why soldiers seemed to think that anything about the devastation, destruction, and loss of life on the battlefield was entertaining in any way. Sure, she could appreciate the fine display of skill put on by martial artists and combatants; but anything like this; this was something else entirely. And yet, she would not begrudge their pilot, who she knew so little about, a sense of joy from their near-death experience. It was obvious the woman had seen them before and lived to tell about it, if only just. 

 

As the ramp descended, Leena offered a genuine smile towards Ruin. What she hated about war and combat was assuaged in the mete existence of such a being. Droid laws and money saved lives. Where blood would be spilled, spare parts and machinery took their place.  It was a noble existence. 
 

Patting the cocked weapon in Ruin’s hand she spoke softly, “Thank you friend. You are a credit to your kind. What do you propose we do next?”

 

Stepping to the bottom of the ramp, Leena noticed the group heading out into the falling rain and water-laden muck of the relatively lifeless world. For being her quest, a hopeful act to cleanse the nightmares that plagued her and follow the mysterious currents of the force, these few were sure anxious to see it through. “The force works in mysterious ways.” She whispered with a chuckle to herself as she shook her head, falling into a soft trot after the group. 
 

At the shoreline, they stopped. Leena looked out over the waters. There was nothing noteworthy there and yet she wondered what an enterprising Sith-spawned world might hide beneath the surface. As Lok stood beside her, Leena turbed as he spoke, jndicating the shoreline where it disappeared against the cliff face. Where cliff met water, that was where Lok was indicating the creatures had retreated to. Leena shook her head. She did not like it. Yet, she could feel it in her heart, knowing he spoke the truth. Something was alive down there, out of sight, almost as if it was within the cliffside hill itself; something larger, darker, than the headless abominations that had sought to harvest their flesh the night before. It’s hunger, unfulfilled, growing in devouring anger.  
 

“I fear you are right brother.” Leena looked to the others before gesturing down the shoreline beyond where the sands and cliff and water met. “Whatever we are after might just be down there.” She glanced at Zeris and Ruin, genuinely concerned, “How do your electronics do submerged? Looks like we might have to swim a bit.”

 

Where the sands ended and the cliff began, the shoreline dropped off rapidly mere feet from the cliff face. Out of sight a short distance down the cliff, a natural cleft full of shadows and the sound of lapping waters within seemed to emanate dark power. Yet, there was no sign of the beasts from the night before, anywhere. It was like they had vanished, consumed by the blackish gray sea that churned beneath the storm.

 

The winds began to pick up and Leena pulled her outer cloak tighter about her fishy body. Setting off down the shoreline, Leena plunged into the surging wake. 

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“Thank you friend. You are a credit to your kind. What do you propose we do next?”

 

Ruin looked the Jedi over and shrugged. “Huntings and hurtings. Searchings and swimmings. Beatings and bashings and shootings and slashings, hehe”

 

With that, Ruin went after the others outside, Fera clinging to his side tightly under the drizzling rain. The large imposing droid seemed to instinctively go over the battered weapon again and again. Each dent in the stock was gently felt over, and each scratch was wiped over as if it could be polished off by water alone. 

 

“Guns and guts. Guts and guns. Shines and shocks. Bullets and bombs” Ruin commented to himself, wiping another scratch away. Fera seemed to stare at Ruin’s actions with a studious intent. It was almost as if she was analyzing his actions and mutterings for something beyond just procedures. 

 

“Oh, I am able to last underwater thanks to these” Fera beeped in response to Leena’s question about electronics. At this, she wiggled the dome like extensions on her. While originally designed for the vacuum of space, during the many years since the clone wars, it appeared she had taken the time to get them capable of sealing air-tight.

 

“Ruin here however…” Fera started, taking a moment to look Ruin over. Ruin had stopped, holstered his gun onto his back, and now was looking down into the sickly waters below. 

 

Mustafar 20 BBY

 

“...and that is final, you little data pusher…” Foreman Wok raised his hands in frustration and smacked the frail looking Neimodian.

 

“B…b…but sir…” The accountant stammerred, trying to get his point in. “The new models, they..they wouldn’t work optimally…

 

“Of course they will work optimally!” The foreman rubbed his forehead, feeling a blood vessel needing to burst. “Damn you idiots, my plans are always flawless…”

“But sir, if the Count demands the new Terror Droids to provide backup on any of the water-based worlds…” The neimodian pushed his data pad towards his boss. The Foreman took it and looked it over and sighed. 

 

“Do you realize how much it would cost to have each droid fitted to excel in underwater combat? And the amount of extra programming? We are talking at least a few thousand credits per unit.”

 

“But…but sir…”

 

“Look, each unit is waterproof right? And they aren’t expected to be sent to any of these dumb worthless planets. So here's what’s what. These droids are capable of underwater combat. They just prefer the more grounded route. They can survive most underwater pressures according to the numbers. Heck, they’ll crawl towards their targets if they have to, and walk back to shore”

 

The Neimodian shriveled under the foreman’s automated tone, each second waiting for a blow. The Foreman threw the datapad back at the accountant, purposely aiming for an oversized eye.

 

“Now, get back to work and stop bothering me!”

 

Present

 

As the Jedi leaped off the cliff into the water below, Ruin followed without a moment of hesitation. Freefalling for a few moments, Ruin crashed into the waters feet first like a rock, and began his descent downwards, Fera rolled up into a ball in his hands. 

 

“Eh, swimmings and searchings.” Ruin shrugged again as he descended further and further into the darkness. “Prefer beatings and bashings…”
 

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Lok squatted as the group stopped, running her fingers through the sands as he looked toward the cliff facing, letting the moment of dread and unease climb his spin. Everything he knew as a Jedi, as an Imperial Knight, was thrown to the wind in the case of this world. It was saturated in the Darkside, even the small pebble like shards of glass that made up its sands and dirt. It felt as if every molecule and atom was drenched in its unnatural divide. 

 

And yet, there was life. There was flora and fauna all across this world, and even the Force that flowed from its core and across its surface tinged with it, as dark as it may be. There was life, but it was corrupted. And a world such as this, even all the exorcists within the Remnant would question their combined ability to cleanse such a saturation. Replacing his glove, Lok stood and averted his gaze toward the others as one by one, they dove into the murky depths below.

 

"Water. Why is it always water?" Lok questioned as he made the short trek to catch up with the group. 

 

It wasn't to say that Lok feared water. Nor that he lacked the power to course it. That wasn't the case. It was simply a primal fear that had always plagued him, a simple fear of darkness, the unseen, that set his nerves tingling. A few feet, he was okay, as light could penetrate. Even a few meters, and visually,  things could be still be made out. Any deeper than that, and only the cold blanket of darkness would be all one could know. Shaking, he approached the lunge. Grabbing his blade in hand, unactivated, he took a few deep breaths and followed the others into the cold abyss.

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On 1/20/2022 at 10:10 PM, Leena Kil said:

“I fear you are right brother.” Leena looked to the others before gesturing down the shoreline beyond where the sands and cliff and water met. “Whatever we are after might just be down there.” She glanced at Zeris and Ruin, genuinely concerned, “How do your electronics do submerged? Looks like we might have to swim a bit.”

 

Oh you've got to be kidding.

 

Water, not exactly something I enjoyed. Granted, my cybernetics weren't too heavy. They had to be kept somewhat close to the weight of my original limbs to keep long term strain from messing up what was left of my body. But they were not buoyant at all.

 

"I mean..." I said, hearing the composure slip from my own voice as I pictured what was coming. What I was dreading.

 

"I can swim. It just...it looks a bit odd."

 

___________________________________

 

I followed the group into the surf, feet plunging into the sand. Each step brought the choppy water higher, until I was completely submerged.

 

Well...no putting it off.

 

I put my arms behind me and started...spinning. Like a set of propellers, my arms spun in twin cones while my legs kicked in clockwork sync.

 

I look kriffing ridiculous.

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Strong strokes borne from a lifetime of swimming carried Leena against the sucking pull of an outgoing tide. Even growing up in the Jedi Temple, Leena had found plenty of time to be surrounded by her native element. Aligned with her natural physicality, Leena was able to glide through the tugging icy tendrils of the sea line a blade through bantha butter. She even made it look easy.

 

The water was not cold. It was not exactly warm either. It was dark. It was murky even amongst the break and spray. If one was not swept out to sea, there was a real fear of being crushed against the craggy cliff face.

 

Crawling beneath the choppy surface, Leena skimmed along the bottom, following the shallow-ish curve of the sandy bottom, a beach before the waters had risen. She o ly sirfaced as she came even with the black cleft in the cliffside. It had been a long-enough swim amidst the push and pull of the surf; bit even through it all, the force seemed to call from this inky maw. Blinking the lukewarm salt water from her eyes, Leena stared into the darkness. She could hear the whispers of the force, it’s hunger. It beckoned her in with a tempting embrace of warmth. It was the soothing warmth of a hearth fire in winter. It was a temptation of eternal contentment, of power realized and sustained, of eternal peace. It was almost soothing, sickeningly so. Waiting for the others, Leena stepped to the shadowy lip of the crevasse; a line that divided light from day. Squinting her  eyes, Leena could see the waist deep waters that extended into the heavy humid nothingness. It would be hot inside, and humid. The water would make sure of that. At the edges of her vision, mere feet into the slitted cavern, a single narrow trench jutted from each wall and ran into the darkness. Inside each was a slight layer of sticky flammable material, a torch of sorts that would bathe the walkway in flickering light. Looking over her shoulder, Leena watched for the others. They would do this together.

 

The darkness called seductively from the pitch black silence. 

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