Threads: Weaving the Past
Posts: 1197
  • Posted On: Jan 29 2011 5:30am
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"Sihoyguwa, we have temporary passengers. Do not vaporize them if they try to come aboard," Ahnk called out absently as Neela and Mr. Dram followed the Rogue Master onto his personal craft.


"Sihoy-what?" Neela asked clearly impressed with the vessel. She had been expecting a freighter or shuttle.

"guwa," Dram responded when it looked like Ahnk had more important things to do as the ship began informing him of the variety of tasks he had left for it to accomplish prior to disembarking.


"I'll take this bunk!" Neela exclaimed dropping her bags onto a bed in a small spartan room. The vessel was not a cruiser liner by any means but it was spotless which, seeing the robed Ahnk move around, was sort of misleading. She wasn't sure why but robed people automatically made her think they were dirty people. Perhaps it was a biased thought that only lazy people walked around in robes and would probably have trouble keeping their homes clean.

Upon closer examination, she realized the robe itself was not the dirty old rags one would imagine Jedi wearing in old Holopics, but of a much finer quality.

It did nothing to improve her biased thoughts for now Ahnk was a prostitute's pimp. He was large, well built and she found herself wondering if he had a chained harem in his quarters.


"Sihoyguwa, assign this room to Neela," Ahnk's voice was closer than she realized which made her jump.


Eeep!



*



When Neela and Mr. Dram entered the area next to the cockpit where Ahnk was rattling off instructions to his ship in a language that neither could recognize, she was slightly suprised to see that they were already in space. The liftoff had been smoother than she had expected.


Ahnk seemed to read her mind and added, "No one is chasing us trying to kill us. So the ride is going to be a bit smooth."


As he entered a few more instructions, he finally clapped his hands and turned to his passengers.


"So, where too?"


Neela turned to Mr. Dram, "So, Dram. Where are we going?"


"I need payment up front first," the half-man stated and Ahnk almost smiled at the attempted avarice. Still, while he wasn't sure if the half-man's information was good or not he was sure that the man was what he claimed: A former soldier of Kaine.

His next words were in that mysterious language and the ship's voice chirped compliance.


"If the account numbers you provided were correct, your money should be there."


The man lifted the blanket that covered his bottom half and looked down pushing buttons to some sort of interface. Evidently, there was more to Mr. Dram's repulser lift that met the eye.


When Dram smiled, both Neela and Ahnk knew he had seen his account balances.


"We will need to go to these coordinates," Dram stated and Ahnk ordered his ship to record them.


"What coordinates are those," Neela asked and Mr. Dram smiled. "The Empire had put trackers on some of Kaine's fleet to attempt to keep a record of where Kaine went. When the ship that was following the signal arrived at their rendezvous point, all it found were the trackers floating about."


"So?" Ahnk growled, growing annoyed.


"The coordinates I am giving you are the coordinates to that rendezvous point."


"The trackers will have floated well away from there by now," Neela said, getting angry herself.


"We do not need the tracker's information. I have it!" Dram exclaimed.


"How will that help us?" Neela demanded.


"While it doesn't tell us where Kaine went, it will tell us the vector his fleet took. All we have to do is then advance along that vector until.."


"Give me the vector," Ahnk demanded halting the ship's calculation to make the jump to lightspeed.


"Uh.. ok.." Dram stammered and began rattling off another series of numbers that the ship dutifully recorded.


"Sihoyguwa, extrapolate," Ahnk clipped out.


The exercise took less time than Ahnk was expecting which did not bode well.


"Well, how about that," he murmured as the ship displayed the results of its calculations to him.


"What?" demanded Neela.


"Kaine's fleet went straight for a star."


Mr. Dram's eyebrows rose, "So that's why the Empire could never find out where he went!"


Ahnk stared at him, "You didn't know?" he pointed to the results.


Mr. Dram looked shocked, "How could I? I don't have fancy navigational software on my repulser! It's not like I have a lot of money to rent a navigational computer just to satisfy my curiosity about which direction Simon Kaine went from this rendezvous!"


Ahnk nodded as if satisfied at the man's sincerity. He could see that Neela was a bit skeptical but she did not have his insight.


"I propose we don't go to Kaine's final rendezvous point before disappearing. It will not tell us anything more than we already know.” Ahnk announced drawing an offended squawk from Neela.

“What?! We need to find out where he went..” she started when Ahnk raised a finger.

“I do not know if where Kaine has retired is relevant. I need to know if all of what is happening…” Ahnk paused.

What?

You need to know if all of what is happening is what? Kaine’s fault?


The Rogue shook his head. Even that did not track. Simon Kaine was one man and while he may have commanded the resources of an Empire for quite a long time, that did not mean that everything that has happened has been orchestrated by him. The man was not omniscient nor was he infallible.

“I do not feel that a direct search of his departure route will turn up anything worthwhile.” He finished putting a slight emphasis on the word “feel”.

“Is this one of those force-things?” Neela asked and the large man shrugged.

“Somewhat. It is also a generous application of logic. The Empire, with more resources than we have must surely have already searched that route and still he remains hidden.”

“The Empire’s uppercrust might know where he is and just haven’t told anyone,” the journalist ventured. “For all we know, they executed him and are content to let all of us think he is on some backwater world retired.”

Dram shook his head. “There is no way the Empire would have taken him without a fight.” His voice had the tone of a fervent follower.

“Maybe Kaine saw recent events coming and …”

“Simon Kaine would never flee an enemy!” Dram shouted and an annoyed Ahnk frowned at the little man.

“… strategically retreated,” he finished. Dram seemed only slightly mollified.

“Supposition,” Neela retorted but Ahnk waved a hand forestalling more commenting.

“ALL of this is supposition. Thinking he still is alive, thinking he can be found! For all we know, he really did fly into a star just to see if he could conquer the netherworld!”

Neela giggled a little at that but Ahnk’s point was driven home. Besides, he had his force connection that may or may not be leading him.

She did not understand the force and found force users in general rather dangerous but she did have a healthy respect for the power.

Ahnk, for his part, had something more than the force this time. He had Chang. The Yuuzhan Vong had told him of the Cree’Ar but he had not paid much heed at the time preferring to play out his machinations against those who had wronged him or had stood in his way.

Now he and the whole galaxy was paying for that short-sidedness leaving him to rummage through the past of a retired Imperial. The situation was maddening!

He turned to Dram. The soldier of Kaine was hiding something. He was sure of it! What he was not so sure of was whether the half-man realized it or not.

He just did not know enough of Simon Kaine’s life to make a determination if the man was even relevant to Ahnk’s mission or not. And Ahnk did not have all that much time to waste until he had to follow other leads.

It was the quiet before the storm and he knew the chronometer was counting down until the Cree’Ar struck again. The galaxy was balanced precariously on a knife. One the one side the Reaver threat was spreading and on the other, the drums of the Cree’Ar War were starting to beat. A slip either way would spell the end of everything. That much, he got from the Force.

His eyes flickered to Mr. Dram. “Mr. Dram. What were you before you became a part of Kaine’s command?”

“What?” Dram asked, confused.

“What were you before… becoming a part of Kaine’s command? What did you do?”

“Well..” the man was stalling and Neela suddenly snapped her fingers. “When we first met, you indicated that something was going on right now. You called it a third act of Kaine’s rise only… Kaine is not here. You seemed to indicate that the…err…trouble the Empire was having was a ..what did you call it? ‘A bringing down of his peers’?”

“Well.. I was trying to be dramatic so I would get paid. I only call things as I see them but that doesn’t make them true..” Dram was shifting in his repulser chair.

“What did you do?” Ahnk demanded.

“You were Third Gen, you said!” Neela also prodded. “You were a part of Darth Exceron’s Empire!”

Ahnk was taken a little aback by that statement. He had not heard about Exceron in years. A forgotten remnant of the past.

“I was an Engineer. My name used to be Levinson and I was assigned to the Ebony Vigiliance," Mr. Dram stated recalling the events of the past (Imminent yet Erratic)

“You were not aboard when it and Emperor Hyfe vanished,” Neela started but Dram shook his head.

“Not that Ebony Vigilance. That ESD was the second to bear that name. I was stationed aboard her before she even was the Ebony Vigilance.”

“What happened to that ship?” Neela asked.

“It died along with the New Republic’s fleet over Bastion trying to defeat the New Empire and the Wrath Virus.”

“You did not go down with that ship either,” Neela pointed out to Ahnk’s amusement.

“No. Before the maiden voyage of the Empire’s grand ESD, we were attacked by the New Republic under Gash Jiren. The ship was smashed and presumed destroyed. I was only one survivor out of three hundred and forty-nine survivors. We were given new identities by the Empire under Simon Kaine to keep up the pretense that Gash Jiren’s attack had succeeded and the ESD was lost when, secretly, it was being refitted for operation once more.” Mr. Dram sighed. “A lot of the survivors were given promotions which is how I got fast-tracked to command the Terra Nassar. I was captain of that ship when the Ebony eventually died.”

Neela fell quite and Ahnk sat back in his chair. “I wish,” he admitted, “I knew how that fit or even if it does fit,” he murmured. There was something pushing him to question further but for the life of him, he did not know what the Force was telling him.

Dram, formerly Levinson, shook his head. “I do not know what to tell you,” he said, clearly disturbed by the memories of long ago. His eyes moved back an forth as if seeing something invisible when he looked up and sighed, “I can say that Supreme Commander Kaine always had these side obsessions and that attack was one of them.”

“Why was that?” Neela asked.

“Because we could not find the reason for the New Republic’s attack. It was,” Dram frowned trying to remember, “out of character for them. Kaine always persisted in the belief that it was out of character..”

Ahnk laughed out loud. “The Empire tries to assassinate a New Republic leader and they are beside themselves when the New Republic brings reprisals? Even I thought your damned Empire deserved what it got and more!”

Mr. Dram looked at Ahnk quietly. “You were leader of the Sith Brotherhood at the time weren’t you? Eventually, you would turn away from the Sith but your men would fail to follow you sealing their doom.”

“Your point?” Ahnk growled.

“That when your men failed to follow you, you at least knew why. The reason why Kaine persisted in the belief that there was something more to that attack and why it was so out of character for the New Republic to attack us was because, contrary to claims, the Empire never tried to assassinate that New Republic leader! It wasn't us!!”

“You lie,” Ahnk stated flatly. “I saw the footage damning you!”

“Use your force powers, Rogue Jedi!” snapped Dram. “Am I lying? We saw the same footage! We saw the drumbeating condemning us! Kaine turned it around later saying the assassination attempt was actually carried out by a Sith splinter group called the Order of Golgotha. But even that was an INS lie. The truth is, we never knew who set those damned explosives!”

The half-man, Mr. Dram, leaned forward. “But I can tell you that we almost lost the Ebony Vigilance in that attack. It was set to come online and ready for active duty in just a few more days. It was as if the New Republic not only knew where to hit us but when to hit us as well. Mobilization and response to the attack was extremely fast as Muunilinst was under Simon Kaine’s supervision. If not for the reinforcements, the Ebony would have been confirmed destroyed by the New Republic rather than being forced to withdraw before being drawn into a larger conflict. If the Ebony would have been destroyed, it would have given the New Republic a larger upper-hand with their own Jenova. Imagine unleashing that warship against the Empire with us having nothing to counter it!”

“The Empire would have been forced to surrender,” Neela whispered.

Ahnk frowned, feeling an uneasy stirring in his mind at the mention of the Jenova (Empire's Shadows - Republic's Light). He had surrendered himself aboard that ship to Leia, to Gash… no! Not Gash. To ..

Tempest upheavals of gravel and dust flung unrelentingly…

“All we know,” Dram continued, “is that an explosion occurred on Corellia that injured a New Republic leader… a Jedi Master named..”

“Xylon Hexyra.” Ahnk finished his mind burning. Xylon!!

“Who was Xylon Hexyra?” Neela asked and Dram shrugged.

“A leader of some note in the New Republic but he disappeared before it’s fall. We did not even know what race he was or ..”

Ahnk chuckled mirthlessly. “You know what Xylon was! Everyone knew what he was…. He was.. .a.. a..” his voice trailed off as he tried to search his memory.

Dram was having none of it. “Believe me, when Kaine took Corellia after the fall of the New Republic and the dispersal of the Wrath Virus, he had us combing the records on anything regarding Xylon Hexyra! We found nothing!”

Ahnk stared at the half-man as a memory of the footage was called to mind.

...a petrified Ensign with a hand stiffly pressed against a severed chest. He met startled eyes peering from beneath clasped hands, although wasted no time to realize the news radiated so widespread. Falling exasperated to a crimson puddle not far from the warped entrance, the few to dash to his aid firstly (including himself) received the twisted harmony of his final words.

"N-New…O-Order."



“Two words,” Dram continued, “and we were damned.”

“It was a setup!” the half-man pounded his fist against a nearby console. “It was a setup that began and ended with Xylon Hexyra!”

Neela frowned, “I do not see how it matters. The New Republic and the Empire were enemies. I mean, of course this Xylon would set up an attack against the Empire. I don’t see why he would need to blow himself up..”

“No.” Ahnk interrupted. “Kaine was right. It would be out of character for a Jedi Master to go to these lengths just to prod the New Republic to attack. The explosion against his person would stir the righteous anger of the New Republic and if the Empire had not luck of the devil on their side, I dare say the New Republic would be in power now and not the New Order.”

His mind skipped a beat.

“But Xylon Hexyra was a Jedi Master. I surrendered to him on the Jenova during another New Republic attack on Dantooine….and my men did not follow me.”

Exel! Chang!

It was a memory that hurt.

“Dantooine was bloody. And Kaine nearly lost his life to Gash Jiren. It was his only recorded defeat,” Neela interjected.

“Your defeat as well, it seems,” Dram pointed out to Ahnk.

“I was..” Ahnk stopped trying to remember, “I was turning to the light! What was supposed to be my greatest personal achievement became the point of my downfall.”

He shook his head, “But Xylon Hexyra was a Jedi Master. I surrendered to him…”

A voice entered his mind… "What if someone implanted that image into you? Suppose everything from before the point of the plant is false?"

His mind was hazy about that day aboard the Jenova.

He forced his mind to concentrate on the memory..

Xylon… what did you do?

A sharp pain began to pierce his mind and Ahnk nearly cried out in pain as Neela and Dram suddenly moved back in concern.

Xylon!

“XYLON!!” he shouted, standing up with a most profound anger.

He realized his was holding his lightsaber as Neel and Dram had turned white in fear.

“I apologize for frightening you,” he said in a calm voice as he sat back down the pieces of a fractured memory suddenly falling into place.

The master of the vessel turned to the Imperials, his eyes widening with revelations, “Your Kaine was correct in presuming something was wrong. The New Republic was maneuvered to attack the New Order not just once but twice. Kaine was probably responsible for limiting the damage they could do during the first attack but Kaine was defeated and prostrate during the second attack. I was defeated as well during the second attack but not in the sense that one might think. My forces and my alliance with the New Republic would have made manipulations more difficult and so I was separated from my people and that… crushed me at the time. Instead of seeing me as a redeemed and valued ally as Gash Jiren once proved to the Jedi Order, I was reviled and held in suspicion. The attack ended abruptly there because I was in his presence and had inadvertently pierced his secret.”


“But why would he do all of that?” Neela asked softly.


Ahnk looked at her, “Because Xylon Hexyra was a Cree’Ar.”
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  • Posted On: Feb 1 2011 3:03am
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Neela and Mr. Dram (formerly Engineer Levinson of the old Ebony Vigilance) sat back contemplating the ramifications of Ahnk's revelation.


"Well, that puts an interesting spin on this war," Neela remarked absently as she scratched the back of her head.

"The Cree'Ar publicly and very pointedly have aimed their spear at the galaxy's force users," she clarified.

"I knew of another, different and yet part of this new Dominion. His name was Zeratul and he had settled himself into the ranks of the Eternal Rogue Order."

"Sith," Dram spit out.

"Say what you want about either organization, Jedi or Sith, I have to surmise that inserting oneself into either organization is a very difficult thing to do. One must, after all, have some affluence with..with the Force, yes?" Neela looked to Ahnk for confirmation.

"That is true. At one point, though, the Eternal Rogue Order held Coruscant and had fleets aplenty. For one person to remain unseen if he wanted may not have been all that difficult, especially if they allowed the governing Sith Masters to feed upon their own egos."


"I don't understand," Dram admitted and Ahnk turned to him.

"The more focused they were on their own desires, plans, plots or whatever, the less aware they were of their surroundings. They relied too much on the Dark Side of the Force to protect their own self interests by giving them warning of anything untoward." The former Dark Lord smiled, "Unfortunately for them, the Dark Side of the Force is as treacherous as it is addicting."

"And this Xylon Hexyra was able to fool the Jedi enough to become of leader of Jedi, a Master! Not only that but he was a higher up of the New Republic!"

Something seemed off in Neela's statement and Ahnk took a moment to sort out his thoughts. "Not necessarily. He may have been a Cree'Ar but whether he was 'fooling' the Jedi or not, I cannot answer too.."

"But if he put some sort of mental block on you, allowed the Empire to live another day when the New Republic could have smashed them then and there.."

"Then what?!" snarled Ahnk, clearly not liking the reminder of his memory block. "Would the New Republic have handled Tilaric Brel differently? Would they have handled the Wrath virus better than they did or would their collapse have been on an even greater scale than it was? Did Gash Jiren not need Imperial aid during Thrawn's attack on Ossus? Who's to say that allowing Kaine and the Empire to live another day bought the galaxy more time?

Remember, Xylon knew the Dominion was coming. Nothing he could do then would change that eventuality!"

Neela exhaled loudly and turned to Dram, "I hate to admit it but he's got a point."

"But why put a memory block in you?" Dram persisted.

"Because I was seconds from revealing what I had just pierced. It startled me as much as it startled him and he had seconds to act. Either he was evil working on Dominion machinations about to be disrupted by me or he was good working on his own solution knowing what was coming. A solution about to be disrupted by me."

"So, what happened to him?" Dram asked and Neela perked up only to be disappointed with Ahnk's answer. "I don't really know. The New Republic put me in Judiciary Stasis."

"What's that?" Neela asked.

"They put him in stasis until they could figure out what to do with him," Dram replied.

"For Jedi, they were a pretty untrusting lot," Neela concluded and Ahnk favored her with an amused smirk.

"I was a Dark Lord of the Sith and had commanded the devotion of millions. Could you blame them?"

"Do you?" Neela asked pointedly and Ahnk shook his head.

"I am a Rogue Jedi Master, whatever that means in terms of a non-existent entity. There are some who still don't trust me and some who may even want to kill me but all in all, I find it useful to keep their focus honed and their wits sharp. They are going to need them when this war begins in earnest."

"You don't really have a lot of faith in the Empire do you?" Neela asked and even Dram looked up at that in surprise.

"After seeing your asses handed to you from one sector to the next, you still do?" Ahnk asked.

"The Midrim will never surrender!" Neela shot back hotly.

"Maybe not, but the rest of the Empire?" Ahnk teased and Neela stopped herself before answering.

"You are already talking about the Midrim and excluding the rest of this strong Empire..." Ahnk goaded.

Before she came back with what would be some prepared speech she may have heard on the holonet, Ahnk interupted, "Don't believe your own INS bullshit. Things are bad. Even your vaunted Empire has recognized that fact even if you haven't."





"If the Cree'Ar have targeted force-users, yet they have their own..some of which infiltrated both the Jedi and Sith, then they are removing high value pieces off the board," Dram remarked, bringing the conversation back.

"If their plans succeed then they will have a very large advantage," Ahnk mused.

"Kaine never did like force users," Dram admitted and Ahnk glared at him.

"You wouldn't really know it looking at Lupercus Darksword as governor of Corellia," the Rogue snapped.

"You don't know the half of it," Dram replied and Ahnk leaned forward, his face almost touching the half-man.

"Do tell," he smirked.
Posts: 1197
  • Posted On: Feb 8 2011 8:27pm
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"What do you know of Non-force users?" Dram shot back in disgust. "You Masters," he made the word into a sneer, "are all puffed up with your own self-importance! You don't give a shit about someone unless they are a Sith or Jedi Master! You wear your disdain on your face and admit it, people like Ms. Neela and I are just fodder for you! When have you cared for someone who was not actually a force user?!"


Dram huffed, "It's like we are just second class citizens of the galaxy! Like we are children and it's the force users of the galaxy that play at being gods while the rest of us pray you don't fuck up the galaxy for the rest of us!"


Ahnk's eyes narrowed and he grinned, "Who do you pray too?"


"Fuck you!" Dram spat.


"But it's true," Ahnk quietly persisted. "If a Sith were chasing you, would you run to your local police or would you look around for a Jedi?"


"The world is as you people have made it," Dram replied through clenched teeth. "Everyone acts like force-users are gods just because they can fucking move rocks with their mind and you eat it up!"


"Stop acting like we are gods, then." Ahnk pointed out.


"Why don't you tell us you aren't?!" Dram shot back. "No, you Jedi Masters keep to your own secrets, your own ways of doing things and are as much a mystery as the Sith are to the ordinary person. But no, to tell us about your mysterious ways, to actually inform the public about your traditions and lifestyle would only remove the aura of power that your respective names command!"


When Ahnk shrugged, Dram persisted, "Kaine did that! He removed that aura from his soldiers. Advanced Metaphysics it was called."


Neela stirred, remembering something. "I've heard that name before.."


Dram turned to her with a look of pride, "I was stationed on Carida. At the Academy to parse through the records of students that would be deemed acceptable."


"Acceptable for what?" Ahnk asked but it was Neela who provided the answer.


"The next generation." she replied and Mr. Dram nodded.


"Kaine punctured the one myth that will eventually be the key to everything," Dram acknowledged.


Ahnk laughed at that. "Do tell, Mr. Dram. Do tell."


Dram turned to Ahnk and said with all seriousness, "That you can be killed and killed quite easily."


Neela started to chuckle but Ahnk's face grew serious. "Jedi do not die easily, half-man. We often are faced with impossible odds and come out the victor."


"You face odds that are impossible to a normal but not to a force user. Face odds that are impossible for a force user and you will die." Dram stated matter-of-factly.


"You under-estimate the Force," Ahnk concluded and Dram simply replied, "You over-estimate the Force."


"You know," Neela started, trying to diffuse the anger between the two men, "Mr. Dram does have a point in pointing out that regular folks are often just distrustful of force users no matter if they are Sith or Jedi."


"They are often scared of those that are different," Ahnk answered, still glaring at Dram.


"True, but what I was getting at is that this mistrust of force users is something that the Cree'Ar are exploiting. By fingering the force users of this galaxy, regular folks will presume that the Cree'Ar have no force users and that some force user maybe pissed them off in the past so their grievance may be justified."


"Grievance?" Ahnk said incredulously. "They are going to tear this galaxy apart!"


"But regular folks may not see it like that. At least not at first and that is all the Cree'Ar need. Just that beginning salvo to blow away the force users or at least enough of them to make them irrelevant to the coming war."


"But why target the Azguard as well?" Dram asked confused. "That makes no sense. If you want the force users, go after the force users! But, why divide your forces with the Azguard? Even Simon Kaine never really cared to search out the Azguard homeworld."


"Simon Kaine was being practical. The Cree'Ar seem to simply line up the obstacles in front of them and strike directly at them," Ahnk answered, his mind beginning to see into aspects of the Imperial's thinking.


"What are the Azguard to us?" Dram asked.


"The Azguard race has an ability they have termed, the 'Shield of Faith'. It creates an energy barrier strong enough to deflect starship fire," the Rogue explained.


Disbelief was evident on the other two's faces and Ahnk confirmed, "It is real. However, such a feat can only happen in conjunction with the Force."


The others digested this and the skeptical Dram started, "So you're saying that the Azguards are.."


"Maybe not fully," Ahnk interrupted. "Maybe not the majority but there is enough of a force presence or ability within the race for this 'Shield of Faith' to work."


"If the Cree'Ar are as much after force users as we think, then the Azguards are a major target," Neela stated.


"Not much is known of the Azguard so I believe the Cree'Ar may also be in the dark about whatever they have not gleaned from this Issk person," Ahnk started and Dram pounded his fist on his repulser.


"They gave up the home coordinates of the Azguard to see if anyone would bite and attack them for the Cree'Ar." Mr. Dram was thoughtful. "The Empire may yet do it."


"Not if I read your new Emperor correctly," Ahnk stated. "Still, the potential is there and these Cree'Ar, while straight-forward in their acts of war do show a side of deviousness. We will need to be extremely careful."


"Umm...We are not going to fight the Cree'Ar," Neela added with a little fear.


"No," Ahnk agreed. "Not intentionally. But we are pulling at strings of both the Cree'Ar and Simon Kaine's past. There is some correlation however small. The Cree'Ar are newcomers to this galaxy despite their advance spies and they developed a hatred of force users or, at the very least, recognized the dangers they pose to their designs. Simon Kaine also arrived at similar conclusions, it seems. Therefore, our course seems pretty clear cut."


"Where are we going?" Neela asked.


Ahnk turned to Dram, "Tell me, Mr. Dram. Where did this great breakthrough of us being easy to kill come from?"


Mr. Dram shifted in his seat. "Well, it was footage really. Showed in excellent detail just how vulnerable you really are."


"Footage of what?" Ahnk pressed sensing an answer.


"The Battle of Geonosis," Dram answered.


Ahnk snapped his fingers. "Sihoyguwa, set your course for Geonosis."
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  • Posted On: Feb 13 2011 10:03pm
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Geonosis


The Sihoyguwa exited hyperspace with a minimal terminus wake and at a distance from the planet where most watch-stations would not think to look.

All in all, it was a most prudent approach that Neela approved.

The trip itself had been uneventful, with Neela going over her collection of information on the former Imperial Supreme Commander.

Dram had let slip a duty he was performing during his tenor at the Imperial Academy. The scrutinizing of those thought contenders for the next generation of Kaine's personal army, this "next generation" of the 256th.

Was it actually an active duty or was Dram simply going through the motions of a duty he had always performed? Was he simply trying to stay busy in the void created by Kaine's absence? Or was there a greater explanation?

Her thoughts turned to Ahnk and as she studied the man, she saw a mosaic of his life painted on his body. Lines, scars and a hardness that spoke volumes of the life he had led.

She was no psychiatrist but she wondered if he was not living that life even now, even though his ideological shift from this ethereal darkside to light he spoke publicly about?

Accountability?

Atonement for past sins?

The man answered to no one save his own conscience. And yet, here he was! Charting the past course of Kaine and the Cree'Ar in search of something that would what?

Save the galaxy from certain destruction?

That a man took such concerns and considerations on his own shoulders spoke volumes of either his large-heartedness or a burning need for redemption.

But why Kaine?

As far as she could determine, the Imperial and Ahnk had no contact, no direct dialogue, nothing that would hint at a connection save this personal...interest.

Envy?

Professional respect?

Or was he being pulled/pushed along by some invisible hand of the Force?

She was no expert on force users and, as far as she knew, had never really come into contact with them. There was this one guy she went on a couple of dates with from the Jedi Corps but she never really took to him.

After a couple of days of him trying to reach her and her not answering the comm, he got the hint and disappeared.

Now, she wondered if he was still alive. She did not exactly care for the guy but she disliked the thought of someone she had dated being hunted like an animal by invading aliens.

She was on hand in the cockpit of Ahnk's ship with Mr. Dram when they all got their first glimpse of Geonosis.

"Sithspit!" Dram exclaimed and Ahnk could hardly blame him.

It was almost as if every starship in the galaxy suddenly ended up around the planet. Only every starship was Cree'Ar built!

"Thank goodness your ship is running in stealth mode," Dram stated and then raised an eyebrow turning to Ahnk, "Your ship is in stealth mode, yes?"

Ahnk contemplated asking the half-man what 'stealth mode' was but figured he did not need to tax Sihoyguwa's medical center from the heart-attack Dram would have because of it.

"Of course," he assured seeing Neela also cast a worried glance his way. They definitely were realizing that their lives were in the hands of Ahnk and therefore dependent on his skill with his craft.

"Look!" pointed Neela as a wormhole several kilometers away opened up as if dumping starship parts and debris into an area of space.

"They don't look like any ship I've..." Dram started when Ahnk cut him off.

"Cree'Ar warships. Damaged Cree'Ar warships," Ahnk whispered as scores of other ships, smaller ones, drove into the wreckage and suddenly pulled away with some of the larger pieces.

"Coruscant hit them harder than we thought! Than they let on!" Dram seemed excited at the prospect.

"It doesn't matter...Look!" the Rogue pointed to a monitor that focused in on the debris being broken down and apart.

"They are recyling the material on this end..." his finger moved across the Sihoyguwa's front window, "..and out of this end comes a newly built warship."

"It cannot be that instantaneous!" Dram shot back, clearly unsettled as everyone saw a newly minted craft slowly coming out of a massive maw-like structure floating in orbit.

"No. It's probably an assembly line," Neela commented hoping her contribution made sense.

"Indeed," Ahnk agreed. "This planet contains the old, but large factories of the old Trade Federation."

"If the Imperial fleet could attack this system, they could cut the heart out of this alien armada in one swift stroke!"

Dram pounded his seat and Ahnk briefly wondered how much his repulser could take of such punishment. Mr. Dram seemed to pound on it regularly.

"Easier said that done," the Rogue Jedi replied. "Sihoyguwa is picking up large energy emissions but we cannot identify them with passive sensors. We are small enough, it seems, to evade their gaze but a fleet would probably trigger some sort of response and I don't think we want to be here when that happens!"

"Send a signal to Emperor Kraken! He'll have the Mid-Rim Fleet in here that will sweep this area free of the enemy!" Dram persisted and Ahnk tured a disgusted look at him.

"What's wrong with you? I expected better of these vaunted soldiers of Kaine!"

"You just don't think the Empire can do it!" Dram retorted hotly and Neela looked slightly confused.

"Look around, half-man," Ahnk pointed outside. "I've led fleets into war before. This is a factory world, not a fleet base! You would have the Empire's remaining fleet mauled trying to bring this place down? The only thing you would accomplish is destroying the enemy's reinforcements. Where do you think the massive Cree'Ar Armada would strike next?

With the Empire picking up the pieces after this battle and still attempting to secure it, the enemy would hit Vladet with everything they had and crush your Empire in one swing of their axe!"

Dram looked down cursing Ahnk and yet knowing the man to be right.

Ahnk continued, "I don't think your Emperor wants to be known as the Emperor who presided over the second fall of the Empire."

"What do you care?" Neela suddenly interrupted. "If you're a Jedi and if that is the danger of this information, why don't you send it on anyway? At best, the Cree'Ar are defeated and the Empire nearly dissolved and at worst, the Empire is destroyed and the Cree'Ar fleet in tatters with no reinforcements!"

Dram looked shocked but Ahnk noticed that he felt no surprise from the man on the repulser. Curious.

Neela was still speaking, "The Coalition, the Confederation or this new Republic would certainly step in and wouldn't that warm your Jedi bones?"

Ahnk let out a hearty chuckle at that, "You have a truly objective mind, don't you?" He then sobered up quickly, "In fact, I may yet just do that. But consider this, what we've seen now is just one planet the Cree'Ar are using as a factory world. Is this the only one? If so, then it would be an excellent target to take out. If not, we throw all our might at this and the Cree'Ar have two? Three? Or Four more worlds like this to replenish their numbers?"

"You can't be serious? You don't think they have more worlds like this?" Neela gasped.

"The point is we don't know. We've just arrived and this is just the beginning of what we have seen. And while I dislike your Empire, I am not yet ready to throw away the lives of Imperials on a whim. I believe your government will fall or fade into irrelevancy but this galaxy may yet have need of the tonnage they can bring to a battle-line. So we proceed carefully and we make sure we don't act rashly."

"Spoken like a true leader," Neela remarked, impressed. She would definitely report this speech when she wrote her definitive book about this Cree'Ar War.

Presuming they eventually win.

Presuming she lived to tell the tale.

Ahnk narrowed his eyes at the compliment and moved away from the cockpit. The remark unsettled him and brought back memories of the ardor his former servants would bestow upon him. Ardor even as he carried out unspeakable acts of violence and destruction. An ardor he knew he did not deserve.

His jaw clenched and his countenance hardened as he forced away the self-defeating thoughts. They always were just outside perception, like wolves circling a crippled animal and in his mind, that is what he was. Broken, crippled.. No!

Diseased!

Every so often, one would slip in and get it's hooks into his mind drawing him further into a despondent and lethargic state.


*


"So, what was this 'Advanced Metaphysics' training you mentioned earlier?" Ahnk asked Mr. Dram as they were in the small galley.

Call Ahnk a stubborn bastard or Jedi nutcase, the man knew how to stock a galley and Mr. Dram found himself grudgingly respecting certain aspects of the man's taste.

Neela was busy gorging herself on some sort of fowl cooked in a manner she had not experienced. Ahnk could only shake his head at the Imperial's lack of culture. They were all too busy destroying others to set up their orderly New Order that they missed out on the enriching aspects of those other cultures. Then again, didn't he do the same when he commanded his millions?

Sure, he himself reveled in those things he took pleasure in but those under him? Rank and file, his people were made to march to his tune and no other. He squashed the annoying thought that had managed to wiggle its way into his mind's perception but the despondent thought did not go quietly. It was as if it has gotten it's claws into a thread and as he forcibly pushed it away the pain became reminiscent of brain matter being shredded.

Yet these wolfish thoughts were not thoughts he would kill.

He wasn't even sure he could kill them.

Now, there was a thought. For all his knowledge and power the great Ahnk Rashanagok could not destroy those thoughts that encircled his mind and ripped into his soul.

It was a pain he had tried to steel his apprentice against. Irtar would surely prove to be the stronger man eventually.

If he lived through this coming war.

Mr. Dram stopped eating to contemplate the question. "Advanced Tactical Planning, Metaphysics Application. It was a type of training for the mind." (Evolution)

"Mind control?" Neela asked, sipping a glass of wine, ignorant of the tragedy that occurred during it's vintage year. Ahnk was not about to bring it up.

"No, not anything like that. How do I put this? Over the thousands of years the Jedi and Sith have been active, there has been built up this aura of invincibility that the normal person doesn't really question. Ask around, if a Jedi went up to you, you stepped aside. This automatic deferrence is built into us after generations of being dominated by or simply by being around force users. Kaine realized that there was force user influence within the Empire as a needed reality to counter the powers of the Jedi. But what if soldiers could be trained to be not only the best they could be in the art of war but also go toe to toe with force users and not flinch? No demur or giving of deference."

"They'd get killed," Ahnk replied but Dram shook his head. "No. Not really. What happens if you stand your ground to the slashrats nipping at your heels? Even if out-numbered, now that you have shown yourself psychologically no longer easy prey, the slashrats move on to something easier. It happened more than once with the Sith. You stand your ground
and, suddenly, the force user has to think. Has to act for themselves, not merely react to the deference that is typically automatically given."

Dram took a sip of his fruit juice and smacked his lips appreciatively. "But not only force users. Kaine was also being faced with the forces of religious fanaticism. The Azguard and Coalition going to war because it was the will of their 'gods'. The Black Dragon Empire with a frightening technology and a leader who fancied himself a god as well. How to combat these forces on an entirely different level than merely the battlefield. How do you demoralize their armies and destroy their influence?"

"Dangerous training for soldiers supposedly led by a Sith Emperor," Ahnk remarked and Mr. Dram shrugged.

"It was not an Academy class. It was a 256th class. Only Kaine's chosen were allowed to take it therefore it never passed across the desks of the Imperial High Command, the Emperor or Intelligence."

"That's a lot of work to go through if he was planning on retiring in the next few years," Neela pointed out.

Ahnk grinned as Dram fell silent.

"Good point," the Rogue Master acknowledged. "Something must have really scared him to have him run off like that," he taunted but Mr. Dram did not rise to the bait for he seemed to be at a loss himself.

"You don't know where he is do you?" the former Dark Lord pointedly asked.

Dram stared at the Cree'Ar monstrosity in orbit that would refuel the alien war machine soon.

He ended up shaking his head and Neela suddenly felt sorry for him. "He just wanted me to continue the parsing of the students. Now, I can't even do that with the Academy on Carida closed. The Emperor opened up a new Academy and by the time I evacuated Carida, the new location was set up with teachers and ready to receive students. I was out of a job."

"Would this really be enough to make Kaine pack it up?" Neela asked and Ahnk saw that their ongoing opinion of Kaine's disappearance was suddenly less due to a desire to retire but a desire to retreat.

"I only know the man by reputation," the Rogue Jedi replied by way of an answer. "But I know I would not have retreated from this find. If I still commanded war fleets and had in possession the Imperial treasury, Geonosis would not have scared me off."

"Leaving these alien bastards alone would only allow them to grow stronger," Dram interjected but Neela's eyes sudden went wide.

"What if that was the point? Remember, Dram. You said that Kaine's final act was being played out right now. The bringing down of his opponents. What if the Cree'Ar attacking was part of the plan..?"

Mr. Dram's head was shaking and even Ahnk found the theory stretching things. "You were paying for information about Kaine and I wanted to do a little bit of foreshadowing," he admitted. "It is unlikely Simon Kaine played any part of this alien attacks. As much as I am loyal to the man, even I must admit he is not omniscient. He is just one man. There is no way he could know where they would attack..."

Ahnk suddenly felt a slight tremor that left him momentarily off-balance. The ship's inertia dampeners were working in perfect order which meant that his senses were perceiving something from the Force.

Neela and Dram began to argue amongst themselves as to what Kaine could and couldn't have done when a more forceful premonition hit Ahnk and he gestured violently for both of his passengers to quiet down.

"Something is happening!" he barked out ordering his vessel to add more strength to its sensor capacity. He knew it was a dangerous task that might light Sihoyguwa up like a lightsaber in a pitch black room but he also felt he had no choice.

Sensors picked up a Corellian freighter on approach to Geonosis. While Corellian ships were common throughout the galaxy, the crew of the Sihoyguwa knew this one was different for it had one feature other freighters did not.

A Cree'Ar emblem emblazoned onto its hull.

"Sihoyguwa, get us under them and match their approach vector!" Ahnk immediately ordered, coming to a decision. Dram and Neela opened their mouths to protest but the silent engines of the Sihoyguwa had already engaged, its sensor package winding back down to a more passive mode.

It was the epitome of Gash Jiren's Rogue Jedi. The taking of action by allowing the Force to guide one's hand.

Meditation would come later. Not quite Jedi Order orthodoxy but it had definitely served him well so far.

"..for my ally is the Force.." Ahnk whispered as his ship plunged deeper towards Geonosis.
Posts: 1197
  • Posted On: Mar 29 2011 9:37pm
X



"Of what use are allies when set against this?" Mr. Dram whispered and, looking out his viewport, Ahnk could not very well chastise the man's words.


Of what use, indeed?


Hundreds of solid protrusions, rectangular and straight-sided, jutted from the ground as far as the eye could see. This was not the Geonosis as seen from old Clone War footage but something different...something alien. More alien than what was typically found in their corner of the universe and Ahnk began to feel a sense of foreboding. Whether it was his own self-preservation working overtime or the Force sending messages of its own, it all amounted to the same thing.


They were facing something that they had never faced before and he began to wonder if he had not been a little unfair to the Imperials during the Coruscant siege.


But only a little for they were bastards, all.


The Corellian ship seemed to move in and around certain groups of pylons and, after a while, the field of pylons was left behind to reveal Geonosis' typical desert-like conditions. The dry landscape was almost a relief until, after a little distance, an area opened up into a green meadow where they could see the ship they were following starting to descend.


The meadow seemed out of place in the middle of the desert and Ahnk concluded it was not natural, which did not bode well as to the purpose of the Corellian vessel.


"Do not land on that grass.." Mr. Dram started but the Rogue was way ahead of him, slowing Sihoyguwa's advance and dropping the ship well ahead of the meadow onto the hot desert soil.


"Sihoyguwa, zoom in on the Corellian ship. What is it doing?"


The ship's occupants turned to monitor that flared to life showing the strands of grass growing longer by the second and attaching itself to the Corellian ship.


Neela's face whitened in fear and turned to the men, "Good call," she whispered, as if afraid the enemy would hear her in the craft. "What is it doing?"


Ahnk turned to recheck the position his ship had landed which was in the stretch of desert between the "field" of pylons and this mysterious meadow of alien manufacture.


"I am sure I do not know.." he murmured back when Dram nearly shouted.


"The ship! It's opening!"


That drew everyone's attention to the monitor as the landing ramp of the Corellian vessel began to lower.


As soon as the landing ramp touched the ground, strands of the "grass" seemed to latch onto the end of it as if the strands were mere extensions of the durasteel craft itself.


"No one is coming out..." murmured Dram when a section under the craft began to lower.


"Cargo hauler," Neela whispered as she had seen many of them on Vladet as construction ships moved about in the creating of a new Imperial capital.


"Repusler," Ahnk added. The cargo hauler was simply a 40x80 slab of durasteel or carbon about a foot thick on repuslers. Essentially a floating foundation to stack cargo onto which was designed to fit nicely into the underside of the freighter. It was a rather new commercial design that extended the demand for Corellian commercial vessels. Corellians may be arrogant buggers but they knew their trade.


This hauler, however, did not carry cargo as it moved from under the landed Corellian-turned-Cree'Ar vessel out into the middle of the meadow. Not cargo in the usual sense, at least, for there were kneeling humans all along the edges of the hauler, their hands tied behind their backs and facing outward.


In the middle were two massive Cree'Ar. Or at least, what the crew of the Sihoyguwa took to be Cree'Ar. There were some subtle differences between the two but Ahnk was pretty sure they were looking at the new, vaunted, "master race" in the galaxy.


There was something else, though, that Ahnk perceived that made him a bit more uncomfortable. The kneeling humans were Force users and he was able to recognize at least one.


Coran!


...Flash...


"Do not worry, Andrew. The Jedi Council will come around."

"It would help, Corran, if you were still a Jedi of some note within it!"

*laughter*

"Well, we can't have everything. The galaxy has changed and new groups are stepping up. The arc of the New Republic is rising and you, my friend, have found your way."

"Always the optimist eh, Coran. I ruled an empire and I know the precarious state the New Republic is in."

"Then thank the Force you are on our side now," the Corellian concluded putting a hand on Ahnk's shoulder.

"Now, have you met my cousin, twice removed?"

"I hear she's a bitch.."

*more laughter*

"Why Andrew, were you inquiring?" came Coran's teasing voice. "She knows her stuff, is as stubborn as you, if such a thing was possible, and some people find her pretty."

Ahnk's eyebrow rose, "Some?"

"Always to the heart of the matter with you isn't it.."



...Flash...



"So, Thracken has made his first payment to the new Corellian-Cree'Ar Alliance," Ahnk growled shaking the memories off.


"What are you talking---.." Dram started when Neela screamed.


One Cree Ar kicked out a leg and pushed one of the force users onto the patch of grass and the strands rushed up to catch the body embedding themselves into it. The fibers of grass began to glow but Ahnk quickly realized that only he could see it. It was as if the patch was leeching the "Force" from the person and they began to scream.


"Poor bastard," Dram whispered but Ahnk was moving before the others realized what was going on.


"Sihoyguwa, connect with the Hauler's repulser controls. I want full lift!" Whatever the logo on the hull, the cargo hauler was all Corellian and not alien tech and, since it was a new design, most governments were following the Contegorian/Imperial model automation. That gave him a few options in Sihoyguwa's comm package. "Full spread of turbolaser fire on that patch as soon as the hauler has risen 50 meters."


"What are you going to do?" Neela asked, fear creeping into her voice.


"What I must," the Rogue Master answered and moved to a series of steps that led up to the craft's ceiling hatch.


"Sihoyguwa, destroy the Corellian ship," he called out before disappearing up the steps.


The dust around the stealth ship began to scatter raising a visible cloud that served to hide Sihoyguwa's liftoff.


Mr. Dram moved his repulser seat closer to the helm but found the controls locked out. "He's directing the flight from another source.." the half-man breathed out in surprise.


Neela swallowed hard knowing that they were now just observers in what was going to happen.


"They are not talking..." she remarked, staring at the cargo hauler in the monitor as the two Cree'Ar moved back and forth.


"They don't seem to have mouths," Dram answered.


The aliens did not seem to take note of the sudden dust storm that kicked up in the distance. Then again, they were on Geonosis. Dust storms probably happened all the time.


The hatch opened up as Ahnk fitted himself with a mask and goggles to protect from the sand and was instantly buffeted by the forces enraged by his vessel's ascent.


His hands grabbed a handhold just outside the hatch where he held himself steady against the coarse wind.


"Sihoyguwa, NOW!" he shouted into his comlink above the howling winds and the ship shot forward.


Several things happened within a matter of a few seconds as Ahnk's ship burst through the cloud, it's thrusters closing the distance rapidly enough for Ahnk to feel the strain against his grip even with force powers.


While Sihoyguwa's communications package was not omniscient enough to "take control" over military-grade vessels, the civilian cargo hauler proved no match. Infiltration programs quickly and efficiently wormed their way through the hauler's systems and were able to execute the repulser controls that shot the hauler upward to the surprise of both the prisoners and their Cree'Ar captors. To avoid the prisoners tumbling off the sides of the hauler, Sihoyguwa actived the safety rails. Ahnk felt the pain as several prisoners struck the railing. Still, it was better than falling down into the patch...


...for, as Sihoyguwa exited the dust cloud, it launched a full spread of turbolaser shots aimed at both the Corellian ship that had landed and the meadow patch it was resting upon.


The "grass" had reacted quickly in an attempt to prevent the cargo hauler from rising but it was not fast enough and could not extend it's reach far enough before it was engulfed in fire.


The glow that Ahnk had noticed before suddenly seemed to disperse at the attack in all directions and Ahnk nearly lost his grip.


Missiles followed on the heels of the turbolaser fire providing no relief for the Corellian vessel. The strike was devestating and the craft exploded causing plasma fire to spread its damage to the meadow below it in a spectacular fashion.


Ahnk chose that moment to Force-Leap, riding the rising shockwave up to the cargo hauler, as Sihoyguwa banked away. The Cree'Ar were much larger up close and in person than he realized but he still put as much force as he could into a swing at one of the creature's face as he cleared the railing. Most of the prisoners had fallen to the deck to hold on as the hauler shot upward, trying to get a grip on the rail supports with their hands tied behind them in case their captors tried to kick them off the platform.


He could see Coran and others trying unsuccessfully to break free of their bonds before his attention was on the creature before him.


He felt the bones in his left hand break as his fist smashed into the side of a Cree'Ar's stone-like face. The giant beast stumbled back, his massive feet striking some prisoners causing them to cry out in pain. The stumble also blocked the other Cree'Ar from coming to the fore to attack.


As Ahnk's feet hit the platform he spun around using his momentum. His right hand had followed the spin of his body drawing his saber so that he faced the two Cree'Ar at the ready.


"Cut yourself loose, Coran!" he growled in irritation through the mask, trying to hide the pain he felt from his left hand.


"Or have you forgotten how to use the Force?"


"I need a sharp edge," the Corellian gasped back drawing Ahnk's eyes as the man flipped over showing his tied hands. Ahnk realized that the prisoners were all tied with some sort of grassy strand that seemed to glow when they tried to use the force to break their bonds. It leeched off their force use making the prisoners weaker and weaker..


TOO LATE!!


The Cree'Ar attacked throwing its massive shoulder into the strike. Ahnk, distracted with Coran, swung his blade up hoping to belatedly carve the shoulder to ribbons when his blade became stuck and the Cree'Ar struck letting lose Ahnk's grip on his saber. The Cree'Ar screamed in pain as it rammed Ahnk's back into a side rail knocking the air from the Rogue's lungs.


These creatures are wicked, strong!

And...



He realized to his horror that he could not anticipate the alien's movement because he could not feel them in the Force.


He silently (and wrongly) cursed Chang, realizing that he should have spoken to the Yuuzhan Vong well before meeting these creatures.


Stupid, stupid, stupid!!


Ahnk was not sure if he was mentally yelling at himself or at the Cree'Ar that charged for it also blocked its companion from entering the fray once again.


The creature snarled at Ahnk's attack and rushed forward, it's large centaur-like limbs pounding the floor of the cargo hauler. Ahnk had only enough time to grab his saber and slide under the creature as it wildly struck the side railing that was not meant for such punishment. It gave way and the creature fell over the edge, helped by Ahnk's legs as he used his shoulders to support the push of his knees and then legs into the underside of the Cree'Ar. As he had hoped, his push, coupled with the enemy's momentum was enough to force him over the edge.


Two of the prisoners used their legs to catch others that would have gone over the side with the Cree'Ar otherwise.


Ahnk stood, battered and sore, staring at the remaining Cree'Ar who squarely faced him. The creature's trunk-like arms were flexing as it prepared to do battle.


"You could always surrender," Ahnk murmured, tired. His left hand was useless and his back hurt like hell.


His right gripped the saber tightly knowing the Cree'Ar's wits would come back soon.


He charged causing the Cree'Ar to focus on his approach, his eyes wary of Ahnk's saber.


The creature did not notice several force users behind Ahnk had used the jagged edges of the broken railing to cut their hands free as it moved to meet Ahnk's charge.


Ahnk lept just in time as the Cree'Ar moved underneath but the creature did not have the same momentum and so stopped before going over the edge to turn around. Before the Cree'Ar could turn fully around, however, three force users grabbed the creature and pulled it over the edge.


As frantic as the creature's efforts were, it was not enough as a woman gripped it's neck from behind, another went for a rear leg and the third for a front leg causing it to fall before rolling off. The prisoner on the back leg screamed in pain as the creature rolled over it and the woman jumped from its back as it rolled out into the air. If not for Coran, the woman would have falled too as he reached out to grab her outstretched hand.


Ahnk, for his part, sank to the floor, perspiration having drenched his clothes. He offered a blade to Coran as the rest of the prisoners were cut loose, the strands that bound them falling to the floor and shriveling up.


Coran came and sat down next to Ahnk, looking tired and beat up himself. "These devils do not handle failure well. We should move."


At that moment, Sihoyguwa appeared from below rising of the edge, it's boarding ramp lowering.


"You came in that thing?" Coran pointed to the craft.


Ahnk didn't answer.


"You should have married by cousin..."


"Everyone into the ship, now!" Ahnk yelled, knowing they had spent too much time and that the enemy would be reacting quickly to their intrusion. They probably had not expected trouble in their rear lines but he'd be damned if he'd dally about begging to be taken.



*


"Engage stealth mode, Sihoyguwa," he called out as Neela and Mr. Dram dolled out ration packs from their stores. Several prisoners were painfully enduring the limited medical capacity of his vessel which left Ahnk’s hand in a bandage until he could focus on healing.


He had not expected to feed a crowd. Or be transporting them for that matter..


"Interesting crew," Coran whispered behind him and turned. "Interesting mission?"


"It's been an interesting day," Ahnk relented somewhat worried as his ship left Geonosis' atmosphere for space.


"Any sign of interception craft?” he asked his ship.


"Negative," Sihoyguwa responded which puzzled the Rogue Jedi Master. But he was not going to dwell on good fortune at the moment.


"How's your family?" Ahnk inquired politely and Coran relaxed face suddenly creased with worry.


"In hiding at the moment. Corellia became a very dangerous place very quickly."


"How so?" Ahnk asked, curious.


"It's genocide to wipe out a species of life. But is it genocide to wipe out a religion?"


Ahnk's eyes widened at the implications.


"Even Lupercus Darksword at his worst did not do what these bastards are doing to Corellia."


Ahnk realized that this war was going to turn into a mess before things got sorted. He just hoped they didn't lose the galaxy before they could sort things out.


"So, how is your cousin that is pretty to some?" Ahnk growled out a chuckle hoping to lighten the depressing mood.


Shihoyguwa made the jump to lightspeed.


"Andrew, I would like to introduce you to my cousin, twice removed..." the Corellian's hand gestured towards one of the prisoners. As it turned out, it was the woman who had tried to strangle the Cree'Ar from behind.


"Sissy," Coran called out, "Here is the man I was telling you about. May I present Master Rashano-."


"Ahnk.." the woman's cold voice interrupted.


That sent a chill into the air quicker than Sihoyguwa's circulators could ever compensate for if they needed too.


She was a bitch with a capital "B"...


Ahnk's voice was flat.


"Vonta.."


Coran was confused. "You two know each other?"
Posts: 1197
  • Posted On: May 4 2011 5:10pm
X



"...and that is what brought us to Geonosis."


The collected Jedi, those not being tended too by Sihoyguwa in the Medical Quarters, sat back reflecting.


"So you are pittering about the galaxy following the breadcrumbs left by this Imperial general.."


Ahnk felt a fist tighten at Vonta Horn's voice and found himself wishing she had fallen off the cargo hauler with the damned Cree'Ar.


It was Mr. Dram that spoke up, "Quite frankly, with as much talent that is supposed to be represented here, it's no wonder the Cree'Ar are doing what they want, wherever they want. The Jedi's best being bought and sold by Thracken Sal Solo like so many droid parts pretty much would have diffused any remnants of fear they might have had."


"They aren't the best.." Ahnk interrupted and Coran chuckled.


"Corellia went from freedom from the Empire to slavery under the Cree'Ar extremely fast. We were all caught unawares."


"Kyle Iblis was a fool," Ahnk retorted, "and you were fools to trust him.


Vonta's voice hardened, "We did not trust him. The Union had its hooks into him and if not for this alien menace, we were preparing to meet Brutus Nogoth's next round of mischief."


The Rogue Jedi Master rolled his eyes, laughing out loud.


Brutus fucking Nogoth! Of course!


"Brutus Nogoth was so...so damned yesteryear," he sighed before his eyes darkened at Coran's cousin, "Vonta, your legs may be clenched tighter than a rusty hydro-coupler but, dammit, at least open your goddamned eyes! Simon Kaine may be some imperial nobody to you but I guaran-goddamn-tee you that he was somebody in this galaxy and he is among a very select few who have had encounters with these Cree'Ar. And, given the state the galaxy is in right now, following him seems like a hell of a whole lot better than pissing about with Brutus Nogoth!"


"Peace, Andrew," Coran raised his hand but looked towards Vonta staving off her angry retort. So much for the flowering of a Force-filled relationship between these two.


Neela shrunk as tightly as she could in the small, out-of-the-way seat she had taken as these giants rambled on about the state of the galaxy. She knew she was a nobody in the relative scheme of things but these people, these Jedi, were cut from a different cloth. Their actions actually moved events on a galactic-scale. She wondered what kind of pressure that put on an individual...


"No wonder Simon Kaine held you people in contempt. You can't even stop fighting among yourselves!" Mr. Dram's voice dripped with scorn and Neela suddenly saw quite a few pairs of annoyed Jedi eyes aimed at them.


"I could snap your neck.." Vonta was starting when Mr. Dram shook his head.


"No, Jedi Horn, you can't! You do it and that becomes your step to this mysterious darkside that consumes your soul and all these other good fellows," he gestured about the room, "would have to kill you!"


"You would still be dead," Coran Horn quietly pointed out.


"I don't have an ego that expects the galaxy to hang on my every word. I think, between the both of us dying," he motioned to Vonta, "I would come out ahead."


Ahnk barked out a chuckle at that. "Vonta, Vonta, Vonta... defeated by a half man."


"At least he is a man!" she shot back. "Don't you have a liquor bottle you need to get to the bottom of?"


Gods! The woman was relentless! No...


Insatiable!



Ahnk's mind went blank as his eyes blinked several times.



Where did that come from?



In the silence that reigned about the room, Vonta suddenly found herself uncomfortable. She had half expected the former Sith to rage about and hurl some furniture at her.


The sense she was getting through the Force was...confusing.


In that confusion, Coran spoke up. "We have a Republic in existence that is welcoming towards the Jedi, if Leia and Luke are to be trusted."


There was a slight murmur and even Ahnk paused. While Leia had been on his mind of late, he had scarcely thought of her brother. If there was one man in the galaxy that would give him pause, it was Luke Skywalker.


"I know that many Jedi lost their faith in the old Grandmaster when he stepped back from galactic affairs. That is why we saw the great surge of Jedi taking the lead in many galactic governments, all aimed at continuing what Luke started in the destruction of Palpatine and Vader. But the question, however, must be asked: Between Luke Skywalker and the rest of us, whose actions have proven more right?

My cousin, Vonta, was a leader in the New Alliance and a founder of the now defunct Jedi Observer Order. Leia and Gash Jiren were leaders of the New Republic and later, respectively, the Jedi Order and Rogue Jedi Order. Many of us went back to our homeworlds captured by the Empire to work our mischief against them from within. Now, I am a refugee, Ahnk is..well Ahnk, Vonta's Order was crushed by Lupercus Darksword and most of her people that could flee ended up in the Commonwealth-turned-Republic where, I might add, Luke Skywalker has been this entire time.


All our blood, anguish, sweat and tears in fighting the Sith and the Empire... has it helped us or hurt us?" Coran looked at his fellow Jedi, "We are still divided amongst ourselves and now the Cree'Ar are making the most of it."


"Are you suggesting that Luke Skywalker is responsible for the rise of this Republic?" Ahnk asked, not bothering to mask his sarcasm.


"Where is it written that Jedi have to do anything?" Coran asked back. "In our haste, in our efforts to act according to our own need," he turned to Vonta, "we could very well have been working against what we actually want, working against the very thing we dream most of, our very ideology!"


Another Jedi spoke up, "Sometimes we need to take a step back and allow things to unfold."


Coran nodded, "Exactly. Could it not be said that Luke helped in the Republic's birth by not acting? By not interrupting that unfolding and now...now, after it has been born, he can act in it's best interests."


"Like fighting off Lupercus Darksword's influence.." Vonta added and even Ahnk nodded at that. It was a point.


"Master Ekan," he started, "has formed the Jedi Enclave out of the Rogue's bones. And in doing so, he has secured that this organization, League of Nations, has Jedi support."


Another Jedi looked confused, "How is that good? The Cree'Ar are hunting us. He's just put a large target on the League with their association."


"No!" Corran interrupted, "Do not start talking like victims driven by fear!"


"Coran, a little fear does the body good," Ahnk interrupted. "Remember, you guys just got rescued seconds only from a grisly death.."


Coran just shook his head, "The moment you start thinking like a victim is the moment you begin to be one. The Jedi will not shy away from fighting the darkside no matter what form it takes. It is our calling." He glanced around, "Is there anyone here who thinks that simply surrendering ourselves to the Cree'Ar will bring about this galactic renaissance of peace they are peddling about?"


No one answered.


Coran felt his point driven home and turned to Ahnk, "Be that as it may, Andrew, I would like to thank you for our rescue. I understand we are now your unexpected guests. We are entirely under your command."



While Ahnk felt Coran was stating the obvious, he was grateful the Jedi Master acknowledged it openly for the benefit of the others. He almost wanted to crack a stupid grin at Vonta.



Almost.



Oh, the things he could command.



"I need to figure out where we are going.." he murmured and left the room.




***



"Coran, have we all been blind to our own emotions all these years?"


The older Jedi looked at his cousin and shrugged. "We very well could have been. Nothing like being hunted to extinction to bring clarity to one's mind."


"All these years fighting, defending Almania from the likes of Chaddwick Fearsons and Ahnk only to see Chaddwick friendly with the Enclave and us beholding to Ahnk's charity!"


Coran threw an amused look her way, "Having trouble with the redemption of your enemies?"


"It just... It just seems so pointless!" she nearly shouted. "How many people died under our leadership? How many people came to look up to us for protection that we ultimately could not give? Where are the citizens of the New Alliance? Are there any anymore? Anywhere? Vaporized under those that fought against us only now to be our friends!"


"The galaxy is not black and white, Vonta," Coran replied softly. "A lot of Jedi felt like you did when Gash Jiren joined the Jedi Order. Remember his trial?"


"You mean that excuse to ingratiate Gash into our ranks?!"


Coran sighed, "Vonta, were you ever a Jedi?"


She looked up shocked, "How can you ask that?"


"Because you left to found your own organization. To mold people to your own way of thinking and to your own set of rules."


"The Jedi Order did not honor their own Code," muttered Vonta.


"In what way?"


"By taking in the likes of Gash, Ahnk and any number of ..."


"So then, anyone who associates with the Sith or joins their organization deserves nothing less than death?"


"They murdered innocents!" Vonta ground out.


"So do we, Vonta," was the soft reply


Before her indignation took hold, he continued, "Oh, we try to keep the body count small and we do try to attack the heart of a matter, such as a Sith leader as opposed to those suffering under their rule. Still, we have come to blow Imperial Warships out of space just as easily as they blow ours out of space. Not every crewman or Imperial is a Sith or darksider even if their leaders are."


"Guilty by association," Vonta hissed.


"Is that our justification? Because that is what they use against us as justification!" Coran pointed out a viewport at the passing stars, "The Gungans were nearly wiped out just for being in proximity to our great Jedi Temple! Tell me, Vonta, have we now become that thing we so fear?"


He knew his words hammered her like nails through carbonboard but what else could he say?


"What is more important, Vonta Horn. Rules or people?"


"Isn't the Code what separates people from the animals?" Vonta replied harshly.


Coran smiled, "Vonta, the Code applies to us and us alone. Not the people. It never applied to the people and we have been relentless in pushing that Code on those that looked to us for protection, for leadership ..for safety and peace."


"For all the good it did them!" the woman cried.


"Vonta, you have such a hatred for Ahnk. Why? You keep throwing his past deeds in his face as if he doesn't know what he's done as a Sith. I guarantee you that he does know and I can go one step further. The reason why his turn to the Light is as genuine as Gash Jiren's is because in addition to simply remembering what one has done, he also feels it. And yet, he cannot allow even that emotion to rule his judgment. Unlike you."


Coran felt a blazing surge of anger and he knew, if they were not related, she would have drawn her blade. But, as quickly as it came, it soon evaporated. There were tears running down her cheeks as she slumped down in a nearby chair.


"He kept trying to tell me... something...but I wouldn't listen. I just saw the butcher of my people in front of me and I was on fire with my own justice. I swung at him again and again and again..."


Coran simply remained quiet as her voice trailed off and she raised her head to him, tears in her eyes..


"I cut off his arm, Coran."


Coran's eyes rose in surprise. So that was how Andrew's arm came to...


He shook his head.


"So you have been so full of acid with him, still making him out to be the enemy so you did not have to deal with your own guilt."


"That is what the Aing Tii said," Vonta sighed.


"Maybe it was time you accepted help, Vonta," Coran said as he wrapped his arms around her.


*



"That Jedi bitch is going to kill us all," Mr. Dram muttered as Ahnk walked into the room where the half-man and Neela were going over their notes.


"Vonta isn't the issue. The Cree'Ar are," the Rogue Jedi Master stated firmly, interrupting the Imperials.


"So Geonosis is a bust," Ahnk declared sitting down tapping some commands on a nearby consol.


"Well, not really. We found a whole lot of alien bad-guys," Neela pointed out.


"But nothing that could help us defeat these alien bad-guys," Ahnk persisted, rubbing his eyes with his fingers. "If I know Coran, he is going to want to investigate that plant-thing that the Cree'Ar almost fed them too."


"Will that make the Cree'Ar speed up their plans, you think?" Mr. Dram asked, concerned while Ahnk shook his head.


"No. The Cree'Ar have not yet had a reason to fear the Jedi, why start now?"


"What about the Reavers?" Neela suddenly asked. "Are they not a bigger issue than the Cree'Ar? They have done more damage per capita than the Cree'Ar have?"


"The Reavers are a scourge," Ahnk clarified. "They react and there seems to be no overriding intelligence or, if there is, it is not active enough. It seems to act haphazardly and spread incidentally. The Cree'Ar, on the other hand, seem to act with purpose. What we saw on Geonosis does not just spring up overnight. They have been here a while gathering their strength, coiling for the strike."


"And now they have," Neela murmured.


"Calculated and devestating," Ahnk concluded.


"Which leaves us with a boat-load of grumpy Jedi and the devil at our backs," growled Mr. Dram.


"And no place to go," Ahnk concluded as he looked at the display of figures that Sihoyguwa put on the monitor for him.


"Maybe not. There is one high ranking commander that had an association with Simon Kaine that is still around," Neela interjected handing Mr. Dram her datapad.


The half-man looked at it and his eyebrows rose. "Not for long," he stated when Ahnk interupted.


"Give me that," he growled snatching the pad from Mr. Dram. As his eyes scanned the data he frowned, "You can't be serious?"


"Can't be any worse than Geonosis," Neela shrugged.


Ahnk rolled his eyes.


Academics...


"It is kind of far but I think we can make it.." he started to say when he pointed a finger at the Imperials, "But if he doesn't know shit, then this Kaine search is a bust!"


"You are impatient for a Jedi," Mr. Dram commented and Neela stood up indignantly.


"Now listen here you! You are the one who said this trip may help you fight the Cree'Ar or Reavers! You did not want to follow his last known vector and, now, after facing some trouble..." Ahnk's eyes widened at the Cree'Ar world of Geonosis (for it was surely a Cree'Ar world now) being called 'some trouble'. "...you want to find something or quit! This type of search can take time! It takes dedication and research!"


"If you haven't noticed, the galaxy is going to hell and if, I strongly stress 'if', Kaine is relevant to preventing that then I am all for dragging his ass back to the real world. But if not, I have to cut my losses and go where I could do the most good."


"Like Geonosis?" intruded a voice and the three turned to Coran as he stood in the entrance of the small room. "I apologize for intruding but your voices were carrying."


Ahnk sighed the sigh of surrender and informed Sihoyguwa to plot yet another course correction.


"Has it occurred to you, Andrew, that perhaps the Force is moving through this young lady?" Coran asked gesturing to Neela.


"I am not a--" Neela started to object.


"Yeah," Ahnk interrupted. "It also occurred to me that it might have better luck with a fruit pod."


"Yeah... Hey! What?"
Posts: 1197
  • Posted On: Jun 4 2011 7:53pm
X



Onyx

Onyxian Occupation Zone





The sight before the occupants of the Sihoyguwa was something out of a nightmare as wreckage and debris ringed the world before them.

"What happened here?" Vonta whispered and Ahnk, to Neela and Mr. Dram's dismay, answered, "the Empire."

"The Empire did not do this!" Neela was indignant.

"Maybe not the act itself but your presence was the catalyst," Ahnk retorted.

They were being escorted by a squadron of Tie Defenders upon entering Grand Admiral Desaria's defense net drawn up after the debacle with the Onyx Shipyards. (Declaration of Free Intent)

There was no real way of approaching the world by stealth and, to be honest, Ahnk had no reason for secrecy. Not now.

And so, they were escorted down to the surface to the Grand Admiral's Estates. The home was immense as befitting the proper royalty of the Desaria Family. The Grand Admiral of the Imperial Guard was a man to be feared if one were ever to hold him as an enemy. And yet, even the man's enemies held a certain begrudging admiration and respect for the soldier of the Empire. Desaria was one of the few men (and even fewer Imperials) who fought according to a certain code of honor. He was also one of the few great Imperial leaders who actually earned that respect.

As the group were shown down the massive and opulent hall towards the grand receiving chambers, several in the party admired the Onyxian cultural items decorating the way.

Vonta murmured that they, along with the estate, used to belong to former President Griff of the Outer Rim Sovereignty.

"Didn't he become a terrorist?" Neela asked innocently, looking over her datapad.

"After your government destroyed them!" Vonta hissed back in annoyance. Mr. Dram realized she was talking about the Dark Empire campaign (Dark Empire: Responsibility) which was the Empire's code name for their devastating counter-attack against the Coalition/Sovereignty War.

"A brilliant display of negotiating and military prowess," intruded a voice into their group as they were shown in the a large room, a simple desk with a massive window overlooking the grounds behind it. In front of the desk were two reclining couches facing each other presumably so the Grand Admiral could meet with those under his command. The room did have a practical function after all.

"I did not think the Imperials went in for negotiations?" Ahnk smirked, turning to introduce the members of his party.

The Grand Admiral's voice was cultured yet tinted with amusement, nodding to each person being introduced. Everyone knew who he was and so he dispensed with his own introductions. It was amazing what fame could do.

Desaria ordered refreshments and motioned for his visitors to admire the grounds from the window or the displays (art, sculptures, etc..) set about the room.

The Jedi took to the couches content to wait as Neela and Dr. Dram "oooed and aahhed" over some of the expensive collections.

"You would be correct in your statement if we were still under Emperor Palpatine," Desaria answered to Ahnk. "The war, however, that your Jedi Horn referenced gave Supreme Commander Kaine a singular opportunity to turn negotiation into a combat tactic all his own."

Curious despite himself, Ahnk took the bait to Desaria's delight, "In what way?"

"You are, of course, familiar with the Galactic Coalition's attack on Corellia years ago?" (See: In the Hands of the Gods)

Everyone nodded and Desaria continued, "It was a coordinated strike not only by the Coalition but by the Outer Rim Sovereignty against the Empire. The Coalition took two massive fleets into the Core and hit the Corellian System. The Sovereignty hit elsewhere around the Empire but they did not get as much attention as Corellia as Corellia was the key."

"By all rights, the Coalition should have smashed the Empire's fleet there!" Vonta retorted angrily but Desaria spread his hands as if he was sorry that history had not taken that very step.

"Miss Horn, I was there! Aboard my beloved Autarch. The Coalition Fleet may have had purpose but we had tactics. Our pack finished the Coalition's first fleet at Corellia before it's second fleet could respond. By the time the second turned to reinforce the first, we had the first at our mercy. Amazingly, the other attacks on other parts of the Empire held. Just. So, Simon Kaine held out an olive branch of negotiations to the desperate Coalition and they hungrily grabbed at it. Their entire fleet was at Corellia waiting for 'negotiations to conclude' which kept them under our guns for the time being."

"And then Simon Kaine violated his own terms and attacked," muttered Vonta. "Yes, classic Imperial strategy."

The Grand Admiral frowned, "He did nothing of the kind, my dear. The Outer Rim Sovereignty and the Galactic Coalition may have joined forces to attack the Empire but they were still two separate governments. Kaine understood enough of the Coalition to realize when they made their deal, they just assumed the Outer Rim would be included and, unfortunately for them, it was not. The Coalition was out of the war for as long as the negotiations could last and they would last if the Coalition negotiators felt they could come away with something. So we kept them on the hook negotiating and, more importantly, out of the war as we then turned our attention to smashing the Outer Rim. With their war fleets spread to hell and back in their initial attacks, they were not prepared for Theren Gevel's counter attack."

Ahnk grunted, "You split their alliance and worked to destroy one while dithering with the other. In the end, even if the Coalition resumed the war, it would be at half strength with no ally."

Desaria smiled, "And no possibility of gaining another ally given their inadvertent abandoning of the Sovereignty. They did not mean too but it was an exploitable situation that we took great advantage of. I dare say they got an education then."

As refreshments arrived, the Grand Admiral gestured for his guests to sit. "I am being rude, however. I must say that I am surprised to find two Imperials in the company of so many Jedi on a quest to, what did you say over the comm? To find Simon Kaine?"

Neela straightened, "Sir. You may check my credentials with INS on Vlade..err. Imperial Center. Also, Mr. Ahnk and these Jedi rescued from Geonosis are under the protection of the Emperor, as I am sure you will recall his broadcast.."

The Grand Admiral waved her comments aside. "I've already had your credentials verified young lady, which is why I allowed you to land. As for your Jedi companions, they have nothing to fear from me. Indeed, we all have a common enemy in these Cree'Ar."

"Sir," Mr. Dram started, rather timidly. "I am surprised to find you still here. On Onyx, I mean. I was under the impression that you had left for Vladet."

The medals on Desaria's chest rattled as he chuckled at the half-man's query. "Oh, Mr. Dram, but I have been to Vladet. I find my duties have been expanded as well as the Imperial Guard's charge. My expertise is not in the political arena though I was willing to serve where there was need. Apparently, while I was fighting in the Occupation Zone, political matters sorted themselves out. We have a new Emperor and a new Supreme Commander."

"So you think the appointments are legitimate?" Mr. Dram pressed and the Grand Admiral frowned, disprovingly. "Mr. Dram, it is not my place to comment on such matters. My duty is to the Empire and to protect those under my command and under my charge. If there are irregularities within the political system, I am sure such errors will be rectified in due course."

"How?" Master Coran Horn asked.

Desaria's eyebrow rose, "You are looking for Simon Kaine are you not? Neither he nor Emperor Hyfe have been pronounced dead so there may be, however remote, the possibility of a return."

"Sir, we are trying to piece together elements from Kaine's past to determine either his whereabouts or, failing that, whether or not he uncovered anything that might prove useful or relevant to the conflict with the Cree'Ar or the Reavers."

Telan's eyebrows rose. "Then I definitely will wish you all the best of luck. We are going to need it in the near future, I dare say. I too am mining from the former Supreme Commander's past to determine the course of action for, as I mentioned to you a few minutes ago, I have returned from Vladet with an enlarged Imperial Guard. The remnants of the broken Imperial Fleets are being merged with the Guard and while this greatly expands my duties with regards to the available forces under my command, I also find myself scattered to the proverbial hell and back."

Ahnk grinned, "Emperor Kraken needs to consolidate."

Telan Desaria nodded, "Indeed. He has sent out envoys to repair whatever damage the Regent may have caused as we cannot afford to fight domestic enemies in the face of a very real intergalactic enemy."

"In other words, you are trying not to piss off the League of Nations," Ahnk retorted and the Grand Admiral frowned at the comment.

"Succinct if crude. The Imperial Guard can also no longer afford to defend worlds that are more trouble than it's worth."

The statement, delivered so matter-of-factly took a moment to settle in. Then Neela and Mr. Dram caught up with everyone else and Neela's mouth dropped open.

"The Empire is retreating from the Occupation Zone?"

Vonta blurted out, "You're leaving Onyx?"

Desaria chuckled at both outbursts. "Yes, the Guard is pulling out of the greater occupation zone. This Onyxian resistance is savage and quite frankly, not worth the lives of my men. With the Coalition Cooperative losing their hold on those Onyxians who fled the Empire, we find both they and the Onyxian resistance are now fighting among themselves. Couple that with these Crusaders who have also set their sights on the zone, there is no point to fight three different enemies for the same balls of dirt."

Vonta Horn bristled at the description but then the Grand Admiral turned to her. "But no, Ms. Horn. I am not leaving Onyx. Just every other planet. Let these lesser people fight over the scraps."

"What's so special about Onyx?" Ahnk asked. "I know it's the old capital and all that but it's stuck out here in the middle of nowhere."

Desaria grinned, "I would have thought so too. However, I have come to understand why Kaine put so much importance on this world. It was always the key. It was the key to the Outer Rim Sovereignty and it was the key to the Onyxian Commonwealth under the Coalition. Control Onyx and you control this entire region. That is why we can afford to step back and let the Onyxians and Crusaders kill each other for, as long as I hold Onyx, our ultimate victory is assured. And one planet is much easier to defend than the entire Zone."

Ahnk frowned as the Jedi pondered the words.

"Joran Logan and Griff had Onyx and it didn't do shit for them," Ahnk pointed out bluntly.

"What makes the Empire so special?" Vonta chimed in. "It sure did not help the New Alliance in it's hour of need."

Desaria sighed as he turned to look out the windows overlooking the grounds. "That is true. I could claim the Empire is not the inferior governments of those mentioned but that would just be nationalistic pride. No. The saving grace for us is the fact that we remember that which you have forgotten."

Before Vonta could open her mouth to begin a debate about the virtues of the Sovereignty and New Alliance as opposed to the Empire, Desaria turned and stared directly at her. "Ms. Vonta. You were an Admiral in the New Alliance Navy, yes?"

Unsure of where the Imperial was going, Vonta put forward a hesitant 'yes'.

"Did you not wonder then, with the Sovereignty having committed nearly the entirety of it's fleet to the attack on Bilbringi, how my small attack force could not only penetrate the Onyxian Commonwealth but actually seize it's capital?"

"You said it," Ahnk pointed out. "Logan committed everything to an attack on you leaving his territories relatively defenseless."

"Which would allow my fast attack craft to sink deeper into Onyxian Commonwealth territories, yes. But to actually seize Onyx? Planetary defenses and shields could have held out longer allowing for perhaps Prime Minister Regrad to rally the rest of the Coalition."

"Regrad was already going to surrender," Vonta pointed out bitterly when Desaria shook his head.

"Because Regrad knew that if he did not do something, Logan's rash act endangered the whole. He used the only currency he had left and it was enough. His honor."

"His honor?" laughed Vonta. "What honor?"

"The reason why, Ms. Horn, that Regrad did not, could not negotiate for the Onyxian Commonwealth was the fact that by the time he was appraised of the situation, the Empire had already taken steps to obliterate the world and, with it, the entire Onyxian Commonwealth. It was lost to us by right of combat. Regrad's only focus was the minimizing of the crippling damage Joren Logan stupidly caused to the rest of the Coalition. So he endured public humiliation so that his beloved Coalition may yet live. His sacrifice was so startling, his action so arresting that the Empire actually stopped with the Onyxians and our forces stood down. It was humiliating. It was honorable. And it was brilliant. Had he not acted as he did, this entire sector would be cinders and the Coalition and Empire would probably have been at each others throats again."

"I wonder how that would have turned out," dralled Ahnk but the Grand Admiral merely shook his head.

"You of all people, Mr. Ahnk, should know how quickly someone's fortune could change. War is the great equalizer."

"We saw your handiwork when we came in," Vonta shot back. "Let me guess. Shock and awe? The same tactic Kaine used against the Jutraalian Empire?"

"My Dear Ms. Horn. You have it backwards. The debris and damage you saw coming in was the handiwork of the Onyxian Resistance. The Imperial capture of Onyx, I can assure you, took place without a single shot being fired."

"That's impossible!" Snapped Vonta. "If Regrad had stiffened his backbone, Onyx could have.."

"ONYX WOULD HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY OBLITERATED!" Desaria's hand slammed down on his desk cutting the woman off.

"Grand Admiral," Coran Horn interjected. "A friend of mine once said that for the Imperial starfleet to destroy a planet, it would take a thousand starships with more firepower than..."

"You did not have a thousand starships, Grand Admiral. You probably did not even have fifty. So spare us your melodrama." Vonta sneered.

Before Telan could respond, Ahnk stepped up. "Grand Admiral Desaria, you infer that you hold Onyx as important as Kaine did. And yet, you also say that the Empire, Kaine, was willing to obliterate this world. It does not make sense. Why would he go along with destroying something so important?"

Desaria turned to Ahnk with a look of surprise. "You are letting your Jedi heritage get the better of you, Mr. Ahnk. Come now, you've led fleets and men to war before. What reason could you think of for destroying something that might be of great value to you?"

Ahnk moved to the window and stared out at the immaculate grounds, memories flooding into his mind of bygone times. He knew exactly why Kaine had been prepared to raze Onyx to cinders for he had done similarly in the past. He had been just as ruthless.

"To deny that value to the enemy."

"WHAT?" Blurted out Vonta. "What is so goddamned important that..?"

"Have you truly forgotten? After all this time, did you really not realize just what you had? Did you really not explore the possibilities? Did you really not understand the significance?" the Imperial Grand Admiral exclaimed suddenly making the Jedi woman feel a real sense of guilt.

"I..." Vonta had nothing more to say, holding her hands out helplessly.

"It was the reason why Prime Minister Regrad could not negotiate for the Onyxian Commonwealth. He did remember! His White Knights probably gave him the information and he figured out Onyx was already lost before he made the trip and so, like a good leader, he cut his losses opting not to throw good money after bad. His decision changed Kaine's decision from one of destroying Onyx to simply capturing it."

Coran spoke up, "But you said so yourself. That your forces were ill-equipped to actually take the world. All they had to do was power their planetary shield and fire their batteries and they could have held off your lighter forces."

Desaria nodded appreciatively. "While I could not outright attack the planet with any expectation of seizing it, I could, however, keep the planet's focus on me while Kaine seized the ground."

Vonta frowned, "But the shields were up. How could Kaine get forces onto the ground? How could your light forces even have the troop capacity enough to land enough numbers to make a difference?"

The Grand Admiral enjoyed the moment, "Indeed."

He could see that the former New Alliance Admiral was still puzzling it out knowing if anyone could discover the answer, it was her. "Obviously, Ms. Horn, you did not use it for military purposes. Supreme Commander Kaine, however, realized it's potential right away."

They all waited expectantly.

"Have you ever heard of the Gree?" Desaria asked innocently.

All at once, the answer flooded into Vonta's mind and everyone could see the revelation in her widened eyes. How Kaine could move soldiers in the necessary numbers onto the surface right under the Onyxian Military Commander's noses.

"The Gree Hypergate.," she replied.

"The Gree Hypergate," Desaria confirmed.

"But..." Vonta started, confusion setting in again. "How did the Empire ever find out about the Hypergate? It was a scientific site but it's very existence was classified. I don't care how good your Imperial Intelligence is, there is no way you could have infiltrated the Coalition or the Onyxian Commonwealth to discover it."

Ahnk turned to Vonta giving her an annoyed look. It was obvious the Empire found out somehow because they held the world.

"My dear," the Grand Admiral grinned, "we found out about the existance of Onyx the same way you did. Only, when you found it, it was uninhabited. We found it quite inhabited. By you."

"But that would mean you had..." Vonta's eyes widened a second time and the implications suddenly caused her to involuntarily sit down on a nearby couch. "Emperor's black bones...You found it."

Ahnk and company were missing something that only the Grand Admiral and Vonta knew. Neela voiced the ignorance, "Found what?"

Vonta looked at Coran and, then, to Ahnk with a pain he hadn't seen in her eyes in a good long while.

As her head dropped the others had to strain to hear her whisper.

"The Nexus."
Posts: 1197
  • Posted On: Aug 3 2011 11:20pm
*




Ahnk stared at the arch as Imperials entered the coded sequence to activate the Hypergate. He could see that the Imperials were not taking chances as he noted several automated turrets and guard posts set up all around the location. The Arch was in the wide open view with very few buildings nearby.

The Rogue Jedi Master approved. "They have made it exceedingly easy to defend should an enemy do what Kaine did and come through the gate. There is no cover, nothing to allow an enemy to seize and hold to gain a foothold. Whoever comes through would be subjected to fire on all sides, open to attacks from the air, fighters or gunships I imagine..."


Vonta snorted, "It allows the enemy to also provide air support quite easily for their soldiers penetrating the gate."


Ahnk grinned, turning to his old nemesis, "Vonta, baby, if the enemy fighters have air superiority, defending the gate would be the least of the Imperials problems. They are very pragmatic."


"Well, they certainly have some things backwards," Vonta whispered as they walked towards the Arch.


"What do you mean?" Ahnk turned to Coran's cousin.


"He thought we, Logan and I, arrived here the same way the Empire did. We actually found Onyx first. Then the Nexus. When we arrived at the Nexus we found Gree Gatekeepers but they did not know how to work their machines."


"Let me guess, you traded your newfound knowledge for usage rights?" Ahnk smirked. "How mercenary of you."


"It was war!" Vonta snapped back. "Chaddwick Fearsons had just invaded Sluis Van and was... well, doing his thing back then."


"Yeah, he was a pain in the ass back in the day," Ahnk agreed. "Then again so where you."


Still, there was a troubling unease that permeated Ahnk's mind. The Imperials, just like The New Alliance of old, were in command of an impressive technology and, while quite different from the higher technologies he was used too, it was the closest thing he had seen to the Cree'Ar.


Or Black Dragon Empire, come to think of it!


But whether or not that equated with 'close enough to be related' or just 'similar enough to be useful' had still yet to be seen.


And, within a few moments, Ahnk and his entourage were lightyears away from Sihoyguwa, Onyx and generally known Imperial Space.




Asation

Grand Hypergate - "The Nexus"




If the hypergate on Onyx was deftly guarded, the defenses of the Nexus were formidable. What was once ruins during Vonta's hailed New Alliance days were now rebuilt bunkers, hangers, energy and shield generators, turrets and other defenses in place to protect the expanse of seven hypergates.


"Two go to Gree. Three, Four and Five go to other worlds within the old Gree Conclave and the sixth to Onyx." Vonta remarked as the company slowly got their bearings after traversing the link that seemed to defy current theories of physics. (See rp: Shadows and Eclipses)


The group had gathered in an unused conference room whose windows overlooked the center of the Nexus.


"What about the seventh?" Neela asked and Vonta shrugged. "We never figured it out."


Ahnk looked expectantly at the Grand Admiral who had deigned to take the trip with them and he smiled, knowingly.


"Coruscant," he remarked matter-of-factly to the gaping mouths of Vonta, Neela & Company. Only Ahnk's steel-like control revealed his surprise as slight raising of eyebrows. (See: Portents of Coming Darkness)


Part of his surprise was fueled by his mind's instant grasping of opening options and a grin began to form.


"THIS is what I am talking about!" he said pointing to Neela and Mr. Dram. "Searching through Kaine's past brings us some options... Perhaps we now know how he was able to get a foothold on Coruscant? Perhaps we can sneak some parties over to Coruscant under the noses of the Cree'Ar. Perhaps we can actually mount a counter attack that pushes the bastards off the world?"


"Why didn't the Empire use the gate to evacuate the people rather than force them to go through the corridor in space?" Neela asked.


"It's a military device and probably only used for military purposes.." Mr. Dram started only to be overtaken by Vonta's remarks.


"Not every Imperial is a tactical genius. Maybe the Cree'Ar damaged their equipment to the point that they could not operate the gate. Perhaps in the haste of being attacked they lost the codes to activate it?"


Her eyes went to the Imperial Grand Admiral but Telan simply shook his head. "While Mr. Rashanagok is correct regarding how Kaine used the hypergate, unfortunately, we are unable to do so again."


Ahnk frowned, "Did you lose the codes?"


"I am afraid that it is nothing so simple as that. You see, when Kaine retired, he took the gate with him."


"Sonofabitch!" Ahnk swore so vehemently Neela and Mr. Dram jumped in surprise; Mr. Dram nearly off his repulser lift.


Grand Admiral Desaria chuckled at Ahnk's outburst. "I assure you, Mr. Rashanagok, your feelings are not alone. Supreme Commander Kaine utilized uncoventional approaches to his problems but, unfortunately, did not leave the mechanisms in place for the successes to be repeated. Believe me, we would definitely have used the gate had it been left on Coruscant."


"Maybe there is a reason why Kaine took it?" Neela asked looking at Mr. Dram.


"What are you looking at me for? I did not know about this hyperthingy or it's whereabouts!" Dram exclaimed defensively.


The Grand Admiral ignored the outburst, contemplating. "Simon Kaine does nothing without reason. What that reasoning is, however, I cannot say."


Vonta Horn looked at the massed military units realizing why Onyx was suddenly the key to the former Onyxian Commonwealth. With the ability to funnel personnel and equipment through the gate nearly instantaneously from the Grand Hypergate, it would be nearly impossible for either the Onyxians or the Crusaders to gain a foothold on the world unless they used such overwhelming force to negate the hypergate's advantages. Was the world of Onyx worth such an investment?


To focus so much material here could mean the loss of gains elsewhere.


The Grand Admiral's strategy of leaving the rest of the former Commonwealth for the others to fight over displayed a shrewdness even she could admire.


Perhaps?


She looked at Coran and he nodded. Here was a singular opportunity.


"There is one observation I remember the Alliance making when we held the Gree worlds in trust. Besides Gree itself and the Nexus here, you will not find two massive forms of Gree technology near each other. Why this was, we do not know. Gree seemed to have some unknown safeguards in place as does the Nexus here but nowhere else have these safeguards been found. Perhaps there is a reason Kaine had to move the gate on Coruscant?"


"Because of some other form of Gree technology? Would these two technologies cancel each other out or something?" Neela asked but Vonta merely shrugged.


"I am just relaying an observation," she replied.


Before Ahnk could interject a thought of his own a military office quickly moved to intercept the Grand Admiral, handing him a note.


The group could see that the note was not to the Grand Admiral's liking.


"There have been developments on Imperial Center," he started by way of introduction but soon fell silent as the ramifications of those unspoken developments invaded his thoughts.


He looked to the officer and ordered, "Have the Guard begin consolidation of the Occupation Zone and bring Onyx as well as all Imperial Guard holdings up to full alert. Have all Guard officers, vessels and worlds disregard any Imperial orders unless they follow the chain of command through me."


The officer saluted and left to carry out his orders.


The Grand Admiral took a seat at the table and the group followed suit.


"It seems that someone has attempted an assassination of Emperor Kraken."


"WHAT!?" Neela nearly shouted. Galaxy-shattering news always seemed to happen where she was not. She knew someone from INS was getting the scoop of a lifetime while she was pittering about an alien world that she would not be able to find on a galactic map even if her life depended on it.


"There seem to be conflicting reports about Kach Thorton's arrest and confusion as to who is in charge. The Gyndine Compact has issued a communication's blackout and while I am persuaded to do the same, there is just too much to do to simply secure the Guard and wait for orders."


"And if the assassins seize Imperial Center and set themselves up?" Ahnk asked, not liking the speed with which the galaxy was folding in upon itself. While he couldn't care less if the Empire went the way of Palpatine, the timing was bad. Without the tonnage they could bring to a fight, the Cree'Ar's advantage just got a whole lot nastier.


"Grand Admiral," Corran Horn solemnly addressed the Imperial Officer. "I understand the pressure you are under but I must stress that you, in representing the Empire, cannot allow the initiative of establishing good relations with the League of Nations, the Coalition or even the Republic to fall by the wayside. I fear that it would not only do your Empire irrepairable damage but it would also weaken those of us who are set on defending our worlds against the Cree'Ar. I offer not only my services but the services of the Jedi here in protection of not only your person but also this fledgling peace initiative."


Ahnk was surprised for a second time at Coran's speech but realized it was not a bad idea. The Grand Admiral was not evil and operated from a position of honor. A rarity among the Imperials especially given the backstabbing nature of the recent report. Would anyone who rose to power from the assassination attempt be trusted enough to work with them? Would there be any credibility left?


Even Vonta seemed to be shocked into silence for once in her life.


The Grand Admiral was not above taking help where offered. "I accept your offer, Jedi Master Horn. I understand that it will be difficult to work together given the past relationships of our two respective organizations. However, if any working relationship is to succeed, it must be through us! We must prove it workable and profitable! I know what Emperor Kraken had in mind for his initial political actions and I will honor the last wishes of that Emperor until the actions on Imperial Center work themselves out. The Jedi have been pardoned and I will not allow dream of my Emperor to simply fade."


"What if the assassins take control?" Ahnk asked.


"I believe Major-General Wes Vos is being recalled. If anyone can sort the matter out and save our Emperor, it is he. In the meantime, my duty is to the greater Empire!"



"So, where does that leave me?" Neela asked. "We still have to find Kaine or .."


The Grand Admiral interrupted, "Quite right, quite right. The only help I can offer you is the name of a scientist who was used by Kaine when he controlled the Nexus and the Gree Worlds." (See: Portents of Coming Darkness)


Telan Desaria paused as if trying to recall a name. "Doctor Vellis"
Posts: 1197
  • Posted On: Oct 29 2011 6:19am
*



"...And while, in his absence, we suffer for our sins, let us contemplate that soon, those of us worthy of his notice will bask in the glow of his presence.

In the meantime, come, let us go to the Citadel and drink from the waters of the fountain of knowledge..."




"How much of this shit do we have to listen too?" Ahnk growled in a whisper.


Neela turned her head to the Jedi Master and frowned, "You get pissed when people talk smack about your Jedi religion so you'd think you would be more tolerant of other's religions!"


Ahnk turned an annoyed glance to Neela, "You may call the Jedi Orders a religion if you like but the Force is a quantifiable and observable, which for a religion is almost unheard of, phenomena. Rules are in place to limit the governance of this phenomena and for force users to understand, at least philosophically, their place in the galaxy. This...," the Jedi Master gestured at the performers before them, "..this is worshipping something that is as unquantifiable and unobservable as those little people that place money under children's pillows in payment for their teeth."


"You mean toothfairies?" Neela giggled causing someone nearby to shush them.


"Whatever you call them," Grumbled Ahnk. "I've seen this Citadel nonsense throughout the Empire..."



"Maker protect us from the false prophets. Even as they stand on ground consecrated as holy, please help us to endure and not eat from the table of demons."



Ahnk's eyes narrowed. "There may be something to this shit after all.."


"What do you mean?" Neela whispered back.


"If by 'ground consecrated as holy' means Coruscant and by 'table of demons' they mean the Cree'Ar's own religious bantha-shit, then this war may take on an added dimension."


"The Cree'Ar already started it by calling out Force Users with prejudice! Any religion opposed to the philosophies of either Jedi or Sith might join their side!" Neela answered back.


"Not if what this yahoo's.." Ahnk pointed to the Citadel Prelate praying, "saying is what I think he's saying! Remember, the Cree'Ar calling us 'force-users' out is just one half of it. They also have their own religion regarding this Borleas character! If they had stopped at the first part, then what you say would be true. But those people that may have issues with force-user philosophies (and some of those issues would be legitimate where mostly the Sith are concerned) those same people would have swallow the Borleas stuff as well and..."


"... not everyone that sucks, swallows eh?" Neela's eyes glared but Ahnk merely shrugged.


"That has been my experience," he replied.




*



"Doctor Vellis?" Neela asked tentatively and the man, looking completely different when compared to the old stock photo she had dredged up from the INS mainframe, nodded.


"I go by, Prelate now," the man relied serenely though taking in the mass of muscle that was Ahnk standing behind the young woman.


"Grand Admiral Desaria mentioned that you had lent your...err 'expertise' to Simon Kaine and we would like to ask you some questions regarding that time." Neela started.


"What clearance do you have?" The Prelate asked and Ahnk growled in response.


"The highest."


"I see. May I ask why you want to know these things?"


Before Ahnk could quip something intimidating, Neela blurted out, "We are looking for Simon Kaine. We would like to find out where he went and see if he was coming back to fight the Cree'Ar!"


The Citadel man saw Ahnk glare at Neela's back and smiled at the response.


"I wholeheartedly believe that he will return and we will bask in the presence of Kaine again."


"Do you know where and when?" Ahnk demanded ignoring the ridiculous parts of the answer.


"When we have all repented of our sins and are found worthy," Prelate Vellis started when Ahnk turned around throwing up an arm.


"Oh for..," he started to say when the man chuckled lightly.


"You are not a believer are you?" the Citadel man asked the couple and Neela quickly spit out the typical journalist-who-wants-a-scoop-and-so-will-say-whatever-to-get-it response, "I believe!"


The Jedi Master turned to the Citadel man, "I believe in what a person can do and what a person can't do." He gestured with a hand and began to levitate the Prelate off the ground slightly.


"What do you believe in Priest?"


Vellis merely smiled, "I believe you were sent."


Ahnk released the hold and the Prelate's shoes hit the floor with a slightly audible slap.


"There is no talking to this man! We are wasting our time!" Ahnk concluded to Neela.


"Just wait!" Neela snapped. The man was positively impatient. How did he ever get to be Jedi Master?


"Prelate, while I do believe that Simon Kaine will return in his own good time, surely in order to prepare ourselves for his return, we must uncover those things that he may have intentionally left for us to find?"


Vellis chuckled appreciatively, "A very diplomatic answer if I have ever heard one. But you are correct. It is one thing to pray not to starve but if you do not back up that belief with a hearty search for food, one may very well starve."


"God helps those who help themselves," Ahnk snorted and the Prelate snapped his fingers.


"Exactly!"


"So we become our own self-fulfilling prophecy," Ahnk growled.


"Does not your Force also give you prophesying? And, if it prophecies that Sith shall not ultimately prevail, does that mean all the Jedi can just put down their sabers, kick up their feet and grow fat and lazy and everything will turn out for the best? Because it's been prophesied?"


Ahnk grunted a response and the Prelate smiled.


Neela shook her head, "Prelate Vellis, since you have just made an arguement for proactive action, you must sense that our request for information is valid and, who knows, maybe in your tale may be hints as to things we can do to give aid to Simon Kaine upon his return."



Vellis considered Neela's words before finally asking, "What is it you want to know?"


"Everything!" Ahnk retorted.




****




"I was an expert in gravitics. I helped design the first gravity well generator and was instrumental in the design of the Constrainer Picket. I was also a resident at a psychiatric ward."


"That's no surprise, we all know that Imperials are crazy," Ahnk dralled and Neela shushed him, slapping his arm.


The Prelate smiled, "I was a suffering from a form of depression that quite a bit of scientists, even those not Imperial, must suffer. Take, for example, the person responsible for the super laser. While it must be a godsend, pardon the expression, that allows mining companies to utilize it to break down large asteroids, when used in a military sense, how does one deal with the thought of their invention causing the deaths of so many, no matter the political motivations?


Simon Kaine was good at taking such inventions or the standard use of a vessel's proper function and turning it around to find other uses to further his agenda. I am sure, if you have visited with Grand Admiral Desaria, you are familiar with the technology he is sitting on?"


"The Gree Hypergate and Nexus?" Neela asked and the Prelate nodded.


"Indeed. Have you ever wondered why the Gree themselves never responded to the Empire's seizing control of their Nexus or, for that matter, their home world?"


"We just figured because they did not know how to operate much of it," Neela answered.


"Partly, but realize, just because the Empire comes in with guns blazing does not always mean that the people being conquered will not resent the occupation and respond. The Rebel Alliance taught us that!"


"So why did the Gree never fight back?" Ahnk asked.


"The Glee Anselm Scenario. Tragic devastation to the planet and now the Empire is not an occupation force but a relief force. Someone should have clued in to the fact that the Empire's quick response to the Glee Anselm tragedy was due to the fact that they were experienced with it, especially Simon Kaine."


"So, you are saying that the Empire responded to a disaster on the Gree home world?"


The Prelate smiled, "Even Simon Kaine's timing can't be THAT perfect. No, I am saying that the disaster the Gree suffered was as manufactured as Glee Anselm. Only Glee Anselm was not of Imperial manufacture whereas the Gree homeworld was. And Simon Kaine used my technology to do it."


"What did he do?" Neela asked breathlessly. And why not, this was a major scoop for her.


"He used the Constrainers to use their gravity well generators to spool up close to the systems sun. The result was a solar flare that devestated the planet. Using that solar flare as cover, his fleet fell upon the world and wiped away any threat. Believe me, the surviving Gree were no match for Kaine. The suddeness of their destruction left a void and created a desperate dependence that the Empire was only too happy to fill."


"Leaping Emperor's Bones!" Neela whispered.


"It was an interesting maneuver that must have cost the lives of the Constrainer Pickets," Ahnk interjected.


The Prelate shrugged. "The Imperial military has trained it's people (or clones) to die for their causes from day one. It's a wonder anyone is surprised by that nowadays. It is the standard operating procedure for any military of a despot, no?" The Imperial looked squarely at Ahnk and the Jedi Master could not tell him otherwise.

It was how people such as he could command masses to their very deaths.

Now, people will have to put up a similar sacrifice, not because of any training they might see to follow orders but because people will either need to stand and fight for their freedom from the Cree'Ar and die trying if the galaxy was going to survive this invasion.

Would they do it?

Some times Ahnk felt that they just might have a chance and, at other times, he felt ready to kick this galaxy's inhabitants down the veritable shitter saving the Cree'Ar the trouble.

It was hard to have faith in beings who were so intent on destroying their fellow man.


He looked at the Prelate with a discerning eye. "You seem to have found peace."


The Citadel man sighed, remembering. "It was not easy. I was a resident at a psychiatric ward after all."


Then the man grinned, "But, what Kaine hath taken away, he gives back hundredfold."


"Oh, somebody shoot me! Better yet, shoot him!" Ahnk demanded in frustration. For every gain they get with the guy, he seemed to fall back on his religious clap-trap.


"Kaine realized, that for people like me, we needed to have a long-term philosophy to carry us through the gray areas of our lives. That to make an omelet, one must break a few eggs. Thus the Citadel."


"Basically, he kept you productive while relieving the guilt inherent in your work."


"That is one way of putting it," the Citadel man commented. "Another would be that he did not just relieve us of guilt but that he provided absolution."


"How?" Ahnk asked seriously. "He is not God."


"No," agreed Vellis, "but we get absolution by using the strength god gave us to defeat those that would follow false gods...the Coalition, Sith, or Jedi, for example, or the Cree'Ar for another. To use our strengths to defeat those that would proclaim themselves to be God."



Ahnk frowned at that. "The Black Dragon Empire?"



"Kaine found a phage missile within the gas giant of Endor. An unexpended weapon that allowed us an intimate knowledge into the very workings of Dragon technology and concepts. I imagine my scientific curiosity alone might have pulled me from my funk but the added benefit of being guilt-free should not be discounted. Without guilt as an anchor, we were very productive."


"But there were no Imperial warship designs or technology that rolled off the lines that implemented Dragon technology."


"That is because Kaine kept it for himself."


Ahnk laughed out loud. "Now, I think I am beginning to understand this man, Kaine. There is nothing mystical about him. In the end, he's a self serving asshole like everyone else!"


"Were that true," the Prelate murmured. "Unfortunately, for Kaine, he was already fighting a war with the Dragon Imperium."


"It was a pretty quiet war," Ahnk retorted.


"That is because, Master Jedi, it was an Imperium from the future."
Posts: 1197
  • Posted On: Jan 17 2012 4:41pm
*


"I've heard whispers of that," Mr. Dram started, moving his repusler chair closer, edging into the conversation for the first time. Citadel people made him nervous.


"I believe you made a comment or two about it yourself," Neela interjected.


"Well, it was rumored throughout the 256th that it was something Kaine believed but..."


"There was no proof," Ahnk interjected. "For all you know, your precious Kaine was loopy as a defective protocol droid."


"You mock what you do not understand," the Prelate admonished.


"I know what I know," Ahnk quipped back.


"Stop it!" shouted Neela drawing the attention of others nearby in the place of worship. She turned to Ahnk, "You have been nothing but an obstacle this entire trip! Do you want to find something or not? You mock a man as loopy but then you want to find out if he left something behind to help you! If you believed him loopy then you would not be on this trip!" Her finger had started to jab at the man's chest and as she jabbed, she felt like she was poking a brick wall. The man's broad chest was taut as if his strength were coiled in a constant state of perpetuity ready to be unleashed at a moment's notice. Only this was no snake strike that would take place but an unleashing of a battering ram.

She found the sensation both unnerving and somewhat arousing and she paused, frowning at the conflicting emotions. Ahnk was the reason they were where they were after all. He had the ship, the resources and had saved their lives once already on this adventure. In all truthfulness, she needed Ahnk more than Ahnk needed her.


But did he have to be such a dick?


Her voice trailed off, her finger still touching Ahnk's muscular chest and Mr. Dram frowned in the silence.


What was wrong with this girl?


"Listen you morons," Ahnk snapped back, causing Neelas confused frown to coalesce into anger, "I don't piss myself with sudden fear or giddy delight everytime I hear the name Simon Kaine! Sure the man did some amazing things but people change! Maybe he did go mad? This talk of fighting the future has that ring to it. And in the absence of hard evidence, I will continue to deride, question and put to the test anything that sounds remotely like bullshit. No offense, Padre."


"Prelate," corrected Vellis softly. "And none taken. However, may I point out something?"


Ahnk nodded and the religious man continued, "Simon Kaine spent quite a bit of time learning about the Jedi and Sith. Not to build bridges of trust, I assure you but to pit both of you against each other."


"I've seen his handiwork," the Jedi Master allowed, remembering footage from Naboo.


"Then you know that those people that crossed the lines from one faction to the other were of special interest to him."


"Like Gash Jiren," Ahnk added.


"Like you," Vellis elaborated. "I was a scientist and privy to such knowledge though, I must admit, not all. You, Ahnk Rashanagok was known to have several clones, how many I do not know or remember. You led the Brotherhood of the Sith before being captured by the New Republic. You were an eminently powerful Sith as well as a powerful Jedi and, given those two extremes, you probably experience no inner peace. But what I remember as interesting about you is the fact that it has been claimed you do not have a man's years. That you have been cheating death. How old are you? One hundred years? A thousand?"


Neela and Mr. Dram stared at Ahnk in surprise.


"How, I do not know but my point is, we all have our secrets. Yours seem no more ridiculous that Simon Kaine's but you still hold those secrets to be true. Maybe there is some truth to Kaine's."


"So I should take it on faith that Kaine fought demons from the future?" Ahnk dralled.


"Perhaps," Vellis said as he pondered the question, "you should aquaint yourself with demons from this time before tackling those of the future."


Ahnk grinned, "I've met my share."


"Oh, I assure you. You haven't," Vellis replied cryptically. He pulled out a funny looking data card. "You will need this. Please return it to me when you come back."


"Where are we going?" Neela asked, inserting herself back into the conversation.


"To have your faith strengthened," the Prelate stated.


"Seminar School?" Mr. Dram asked confused.


"The Graveyard," the Citadel man whispered, as if the memory conjured up thoughts best left alone.