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The Voyages of Targon Karashi


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RulithBarakis
04.11.2012 , 12:58 PM | #111
There's the Nautolan I've been dying to see! I still love the fact that you brought in fan characters. I have a mix of mad happiness and strangeness go through whenever I see the Nautolan (who's name I will not mention since it'll be revealed in the next Episode, anywas) appear, especially since I'm not used to seeing the character used by someone else.

Anyways, this Episode has always been one of my favorites, though it's a biased opinion since it's the first Episode that a character I created appears and then throws a Sith like it's nothing through a boarded window and then the weak floor on the other side.

I eagerly await the next episode!

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TargonKarashi
04.11.2012 , 05:50 PM | #112
Episode Fifteen – Heroes Die Hard

Chapter One

The group was herded through the doors of the large police station. An old woman greeted the officers at the front desk and took notes on the prisoners being brought in.

She was impressed by the odd group – two gunslingers, an old soldier, a Sith, a Twi’lek crime boss, and two Jedi.

“Well,” she cackled. “Ain’t that a strange coincidence? Wasn’t it a Jedi that called you all in to take down Quinn’s little estate?”

“Certainly was,” the officer nodded. “I guess the three of them can share a little cell together and…meditate.”

The whole room of policemen erupted into laughter.

Then they pushed the lot of them through the doors and into the cellblock.

“Now,” the lead officer yawned. “It’s time to find you all some cells. We’re kind of full…Quinn had lots of workers entangled in crime. Good thing they were all nearby to round up.”

“Hold up,” Rick nearly shouted. “Why arrest Quinn’s men if you work for him?”

A policeman whacked him on the back of the head for that.

“You got some nerve,” the officer growled. “We don’t work for criminals. We arrest them.”

“Then why are you arresting us?” Targon asked. “We were prisoners of Quinn!”

“Maybe,” the officer nodded. “But you also killed him. Murder’s a crime, young man, even if it’s a criminal that’s killed.”

“I should have expected all this from the Republic,” Sorgal growled.

“Watch your tone,” the officer barked. “I don’t like troublemakers.”

“And I don’t like pompous oafs that arrest the wrong people!” Sorgal countered angrily.

A policeman made a move to beat him with a club, but Sorgal caught it in his bound hands. He ripped it from the man’s grasp and struck him with it.

Other police moved to stop him, but that was when Greyhawk, Gabrielle, and Rick joined in. It wasn’t long before they had taken down all the officers around them.

Prisoners in their cells started shouting to release them, but went disregarded.

“Time to get out of here,” Sorgal stated.

“Wait,” Xana shook her head. “What about Ryner? If he was arrested…we need to get him out of here too.”

“We don’t have time for that,” Sorgal growled. “Any moment now the police will be coming down on us for an escape attempt. We need to make ourselves scarce.”

“Who’s Ryner?” Targon asked.

“A Jedi that helped us escape,” Gabrielle answered. “While I’m grateful for his help, Sorgal may be right. The police will be after us…and I’d rather not go to jail again.”

“Oh, no you don’t,” Greyhawk stated. “We’re going after Ryner. I know Corellian prsions…”

“So do I,” Rick interjected.

“Let me finish, boy,” Greyhawk growled. “And I know that the most dangerous prisoners are put on a secondary level, usually in the heart of the station. That’s where they’d keep Jedi, I’d wager.”

“Then come on,” Targon said. “Let’s get him before something worse happens.”

“Oh yes,” Sorgal grumbled. “Something worse always happens, doesn’t it?”

---

The old secretary was going through files when she saw a shadow come over her desk.
Glancing up, she saw a large man in a black cloak. His lower jaw was hidden by a re-breather mask.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“I’m here to see the prisoners that were recently transferred here,” the man stated. “The Jedi and his accomplices.”

“They’re checking in to their cells right now,” the old lady stated. “You’ll have to come by in a couple hours. Tomorrow would be better.”

“I need to see them now,” the man persisted.

“I’m sorry, sir, but there are rules here. You have to follow them like everyone else.”

The man nodded. “Yes, rules…I see.” He shook his head. “I’ll be back.”

“Not ‘till tomorrow, you hear?” the secretary barked at him.

He ignored her statement and walked outside. The old woman continued with her paperwork for another few moments. Then she saw something approaching the entrance of the station.

Looking up, she gasped as a speeder was veering straight for the main doors. It burst through, taking out the doors, the windows, and the walls themselves. It crashed and slid at an enormous speed through, and smashed the front desk with the woman behind it.

Then the doors opened up and a Togorian and a Nosaurian emerged, guns blazing. They quickly dispatched the police officers responding to the attack, gunning them down easily.

Some policemen grabbed more heavy armor and weapons to engage the intruders. But as they were about to commence firing, something charged through the newly made entrance.

It was a Nautolan. Without a word, he punched the first man straight through his gut. His cybernetic arm stuck out bloody from the man’s back.

Before the other man could shoot, he pulled a pistol out and put a hole between the officer’s eyes. Then he dropped the messy corpse he still held, wiping off his arm on the dead man’s clothes.

Lord Hellion returned into the building as sirens wailed and the bounty hunters finished off the rest of the early response. Behind him came a short man wearing a large hat. The newest addition to his mercenary team.

The old secretary’s head barely poked out from the wreckage. She was still barely alive, clinging to life with her frail, bony fingers.

Hellion walked over and stooped down to look her in the eye. “Listen up, old hag,” he growled. “When I want something, it’s best you do it.”

With that, he kicked the woman’s face in with his thick, armored boot as he stood up straight.

“Alright, boys,” he said to the bounty hunters awaiting his instruction. “It’s time to earn your reward. Bring me the Jedi, alive, preferably; and also bring me his friends’ heads.”

“Any idea on how to deal with the police response to this attack?” the short man asked. “If I know coppers, they’ll try to rally and stop us…and others will be dispatched from other stations. With special forces in the van.”

“I am aware,” Hellion nodded. He turned to the Togorian. “Drago, get the power to this place shut down. I want alarms, security, and everything off.”

“Release the prisoners as well?” the feline asked.

“Yes,” Hellion replied. “They’ll make good target practice for you all, and obstacles for the Jedi’s escape.”

“What do you want the rest of us to do?” the Nosaurian asked.

“Boruk,” Hellion pointed to one hall. “Take the north corridor.”

The reptile nodded and headed off.

“Djehad,” the Sith Lord turned to the short man. “Take the south. Drago will go with you when he’s done shutting down the power.”

The man tipped his hat and complied.

Then Hellion turned to the large Nautolan. “Relvan, go with Boruk and tear this place apart. I want that Jedi found, and I want his irritating companions dead. That’s what you’re paid for.”

Relvan Kirth gave a small, cruel smile of understanding and marched off without a word.
I'd love you all to read my stories and tell me what you think!
The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
04.11.2012 , 05:53 PM | #113
Chapter Two

They were winding their ways through the unexpectedly long and intricate halls of the police station. All around, prisoners were shouting, taunting, and pleading with them.

Down the stairs, they came to the more secluded cells.

It wasn’t long before a familiar voice called out to them.

“Hey! I’m over here!”

They stopped in front of Ryner’s cell. He looked a little battered. It appeared the police roughed him up before locking him up.

“How about getting me out?” he asked.

Sorgal chuckled. “So, Jedi, how did that whole grand plan of yours work out?”

“You’re just lucky I’m in this cell,” Ryner growled, obviously riled at the knowledge of his failed mission.

“What happened?” Rick asked. “What happened to getting the police to bring down Quinn? Seems he paid them all off and got us arrested.”

“It wasn’t Quinn,” Ryner shook his head. “Someone else bribed them.”

“Who?” Nalia asked. “Not many have more money than Quinn had…even I couldn’t bribe the whole Coronet police force.”

“I wouldn’t need any money to do what you asked me to do,” Sorgal said smugly. “All a man needs to do is take one good look at you.”

“Hey!” Ryner shouted. “Let’s bring this back to getting me out, shall we?”

“Oh, yeah,” Sorgal shrugged. “I guess I kind of forgot about you.”

“You can be sure I won’t forget about you,” the Jedi frowned.

“How do we get you out?” Targon asked. “I don’t see a way to unlock this force field.”

Ryner pointed to across the hall. “There’s a control panel there. My cell’s number 426…or maybe 427…”

“Don’t even know which cell you’re in?” Sorgal smirked.

“I’m getting real tired with your attitude, Sith,” Ryner growled.

“Just ignore him, he does it for attention,” Greyhawk shrugged.

“You get used to it,” Rick added.

Targon went over to the panel and started looking for the right number.

Suddenly, the lights flickered out and the force fields on the cells disappeared. Backup emergency lights lit illuminated the halls in a dull red glow.

“Oh, well,” Ryner nodded. “I guess that works too…”

“Not as well as I’d like,” Xana stated as the hall began to fill with the station’s prisoners.

Their eyes glared at them in the dark, their teeth bared. Some had the glow of insanity in their eyes, and their fists looked ready to wrap around their necks.

“Come here, pretty girls,” a prisoner called.

“Let’s get out of here,” Gabrielle hissed. “We need to find our weapons and gear, though.”

“They keep all the prisoners’ stuff in the armory,” Ryner pointed. “We’d best get there quick.”

As they ran off, some of the prisoners called after them.

“Hey, pretty girls! Where’re you going? We just want to be friends here…real good friends.”

The shouts and ruckus of prisoners escaping and brawling with each other echoed through the halls and grew louder by the time the group reached the armory.

The Jedi found their lightsabers and hooked them to their belts. Rick found his guns, and Gabrielle got hers.

Greyhawk found his blaster and knife. Once he had those together, he was about to get ready to leave with the rest of them. But then he paused when something caught his eye.

“Oh,” he smiled. “That’s a real beauty right there!”

He reached over and picked up the slim and conservative hand cannon. It had two gun barrels – one for rapid-fire blaster bolts, and the other was a small grenade launcher. He gazed at it in awe.

“You coming, gramps?” Rick asked.

Greyhawk nodded as he grabbed several belts of ammunition and put them around his neck. The weight of the gun felt good in his hand…he hadn’t held something like this for decades.

They all headed down the path. The shout of escaped criminals resounded from one hall, so they decided to try a different way to avoid contact.

It turned out that the other path wasn’t much better.

Down the hall, standing with hands placed on the gun holsters, was Djehad Nguyen. His laugh was muffled behind his mask, but it echoed off the walls from his small frame.

“On second thought, maybe getting past dozens of unarmed and crazed criminals doesn’t sound so bad,” Ryner stated.

“Head back the other way!” Greyhawk ordered. “I’ll hold him off!”

They didn’t need to be told twice. After his command, the old soldier let loose a grenade from his new toy.

The explosion rocked the hallway, though the short bounty hunter dove out of the blast radius. As soon as it cleared, he opened fire with his pistols. The corridor was alive with the ambient red glow, and the exchange of lasers below.

The group retreated back the way they came, with Greyhawk following in the rear. He walked backwards as he kept firing, putting pressure on Djehad in order to keep him from making a clear shot.

They came to the hall. Strangely, it seemed the convicts had moved on from this area. Moving further along, they found where many of the prisoners had all gone.

Piles of them lay dead in the corners of where two corridors made a T. Standing at the far end of the hall, holding a smoking barreled rifle, was a snarling and fierce Nosaurian.

Dangling from the reptilian’s belt were three bleached and clean skulls – and a new one that was still bloody.

“Let’s see which of your heads will be good enough for my collection,” he hissed.

Targon’s blade activated, and he held off the flurry of bolts the reptile shot at them.

“We need to split up,” Ryner stated. “Draw the bounty hunters apart and we can take them out separately.”

“Split up?” Gabrielle gasped. “That’s a stupid plan! We’ll just make ourselves more vulnerable.”

“Do all Jedi come up with such reckless plans?” Sorgal asked.

“No, just me,” Ryner winked. “But I know what I’m doing! Come on!”

“Don’t argue with the man, just do it!” Greyhawk barked. The short man in the hat was coming from the other side.

“Where do we go?” Xana asked.

Greyhawk fired a grenade into one of the walls, blowing a hole right through it. Past the gap, there was an open cell, and beyond was another hall.

“Through there!” Greyhawk shouted. “Now!”

Rick, Gabrielle, Nalia, and Sorgal slipped through the hole. The Jedi held off the enemy attacks as they did so.

“The rest of you guys,” Greyhawk growled, pointing to the empty hall. “That way!”

They obeyed, and he kept up the rear. Soon they, turned a corner and were at ease for the moment as they kept going.

Djehad and Boruk met up at the T-intersection.

“Which one do we follow?” the Nosaurian asked.

The short man growled. “Get in the hole, lizard. I’m after the Jedi.”

“The Jedi are mine to kill!” Boruk hissed. “I will add their sabers and their skulls to my belt of trophies.”

“You’ll both get nothing if you don’t get moving!” Drago bellowed as he arrived. “One of you pick a way, or that freaky Nautolan will catch them all while you’re standing around arguing!”

The two both glanced at the Togorian. Boruk snarled and headed through the hole. Djehad ran down after the Jedi and the soldier, and Drago followed him.
I'd love you all to read my stories and tell me what you think!
The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
04.11.2012 , 05:58 PM | #114
Chapter Three

Rick and the group with him weren’t quite sure where they were supposed to be going. A couple times they found themselves going in circles, running into the same escaped inmates over and over again until they could almost remember their names.

Eventually, they found themselves in the solitary confinement area. Oddly enough, the cells here remained operational.

Things were quiet except for a light, rhythmic patter from within one of the cells.

“Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Gabrielle asked.

“I don’t even know if we’re going the wrong way,” Rick replied. “This place is a mess and a joke!”

“Finally,” Sorgal smiled. “Something we can agree on.”

“You know, I thought the intent was for us to get out of this mess?” Nalia sighed. “Not get deeper into it. This is solitary confinement…the exit is nowhere near here!”

“Look, lady,” Sorgal growled. “You’ll do yourself a favor if you keep your mouth shut. You’re a criminal, and while Targon might have the crazy notion of keeping you alive, I don’t share the boy’s sentiments.”

“Watch it, Sith,” Gabrielle hissed. “You don’t try anything while we’re around.”

“We’re supposed to be working together!” Rick moaned in frustration.

“Is that voice who I think it is?” someone asked from within one of the high-security cells. “Could it possibly be Captain Orlan?”

Rick’s eyes widened. He walked over to the cell from which the voice originated and peered in.

A young man was sitting on the stiff cot. He had a ball in his hands which he bounced off the wall and caught lazily.

He was as young as Targon, and he had a slight goatee. His eyes shone with youthful arrogance, and his light brown hair had grown long and unkempt.

There was a wide brimmed hat hanging on the wall beside the bed, and a dark leather jacket. Scratched all over the walls were tally marks, odd poems, and an unfinished picture of someone.

The man looked up at Rick. “Ah, so it is you, you rotten scoundrel!”

Rick gasped. “Valens?”

The young man stood and laughed. “And you’re still wearing that red jacket of yours? My word! You swore you’d always be a scoundrel as long as you wore that jacket. How come I haven’t seen you in here with me?”

Rick couldn’t reply…he was still so astonished.

He had gotten older, but Rick could still tell that this was the same boy he had worked with several years ago. He still looked as fiery, and he still had his teenage swagger.

But he had definitely toughened up from being in prison.

“What…?” Rick gasped. “What are you doing here, boy?”

“Boy? I’m a grown man now!” Valens folded his arms and pouted. “You might not have seen me for eight years or whatever…but you didn’t expect me to still be fifteen, did you?”

Rick shook his head. “What are you doing in this cell?”

“Well,” the man scratched the back of his head. “After I was caught on our little…assignment…I was paroled and put back on the streets. And then, after a few…misunderstandings…I was arrested again.”

“What for?”

“I’m not sure,” Valens replied. “The judge said something like…bombing an old schoolhouse.”

“What?”

“Just kidding,” the young man grinned. Remarkably, he still had all his teeth…and they were clean. “Just for gun trafficking and getting lost in the wrong crowds. Folks found me to be a scrapper so they’ve had me in solitary for…three months now? That long?”

“Well, Rick, this is a real nice reunion for you,” Sorgal growled. “But we need to be going. Now.”

“Hold up,” Rick stated. “Valens, can we get you out of there? How come this cell’s working but all the others are down?”

“Solitary confinement runs on a different generator,” Valens shrugged. “It’s in some safe place way underground so folks can’t release the really dangerous convicts.”

“Can we shut this cell down?”

“Sure,” Valens nodded. “I’ve memorized the code to deactivate the cell. It’s one-beta-nine-six-five.”

“If you know it,” Sorgal rolled his eyes. “Why haven’t you gotten out?”

“Because the panel’s on the other side of the door,” Valens answered.

“Just a sec, I’ll get you out,” Rick stated. He punched in the code and then the cell powered down.

Valens put on his jacket and hat and stretched as he exited his cozy little cell. “Ah,” he yawned. “It feels nice to get out after a while.”

“Enjoy your freedom while you can, kid,” Sorgal stated. “We’ve wasted enough time as it is. They’ll be here soon.”

“Who?” Valens asked.

“Bounty hunters,” Gabrielle replied. “They’ve stormed the station.”

“Looking for you?” Valens frowned. “If I had known that, I would have stayed in my cell.”

“There’s still time,” Sorgal suggested.

“No, I don’t think there is,” Nalia stated as she pointed to the entrance of the cell block.

A hulking figure filled the doorway. It was a Nautolan with dark blue skin and a glowing red eye. His right arm opened and clenched with its cybernetic parts.

“You got a gun, kid?” Rick asked Valens.

“Convicts aren’t allowed weapons,” the boy replied. “Wait…I have a ball…”

“Take one of mine,” Rick handed him a pistol. “Still know how to use one?”

“How could I forget?” Valens winked.

Wordlessly, the Nautolan charged at them. In response, Rick, Gabrielle, and Valens opened fire.

The bounty hunter was quick, and he dodge the shots as they came his way. He pulled out his own pair of pistols and started shooting.

Sorgal drew his saber and deflected several of the bolts.

“Now it’s time for us to really be going!” he spat.

Everyone agreed, and they maneuvered over to the exit of the cell block. The Nautolan kept coming, and there was a lust for blood in his one natural eye.

Nalia had the lead, followed closely by Gabrielle and Rick. The young man kept turning back to fire, and Sorgal kept up the rear, facing the bounty hunter.

When the others had turned a corner and were headed up a short flight of stairs, Sorgal stopped still. He had grown sick of running all the time, and now that he was blissfully alone, he could do something about it.

The Nautolan kept shooting, never saying a word. Sorgal blocked each shot. The distance between them was shortening.

When he was close enough, Sorgal lunged forward, swinging his saber quick and fierce.
He missed the first swing, but he followed it up real quick.

The Nautolan took steps back to avoid his blade. He was struggling to put his pistols away and draw his vibroblade.

Sorgal saw what he was doing, and he made a swift attack to cut him off. The blade slashed through one of the guns, cutting it in two. The red blade barely missed the Nautolan’s hand.

He wasted no time in making another attack to follow up quickly. But then the Nautolan caught his wrist with his large bionic hand.

Sorgal struggled to get free, but he couldn’t move half a centimeter with the bounty hunter’s grip being so tight.

The Nautolan gave a contemptuous smile as he slowly squeezed harder.

Sorgal hissed and then roared in pain as he felt the bones in his hand crack. He raised his foot desperately and kicked the large bounty hunter square in the chest.

It was like kicking a tree. Instead of the Nautolan moving, Sorgal ended up pushing himself away. It would have ripped his hand off if the alien hadn’t let go and let him hurl himself through the air.

He landed on the floor, howling and clutching at his broken hand.

The Nautolan stepped forward, ready to finish him.

Then, blaster fire drove him back behind some cover. Rick arrived at Sorgal’s side, grabbing his lightsaber and helping him up.

“What part of stick with the group do you have a hard time understanding?” Rick asked as they hurried off to rejoin the others.

“What do you care?” Sorgal hissed, cringing in pain. “Why did you come back? You’ve let people die before…and you don’t even like me.”

“Targon and some of the others like you,” Rick stated, “whether you know it or not. And I like Targon. So show a little gratitude once in a while, okay?”
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
04.11.2012 , 06:01 PM | #115
Chapter Four

Hellion glanced out past the barricade he had erected from debris. Outside, dozens of police had arrived, surrounding the station and calling in with a megaphone.

Well, they came for a show, Hellion thought, so he’ll give them a show.

There were a bunch of hostages he had rounded up – surviving officers of the station that had foolishly tried to take him down.

Many of them were beaten and battered for their attempts.

Reaching down, he grabbed the highest ranking of the officers and brought him close to his face.

“Who paid you lot off?” he asked. “Who paid you to take that bunch prisoners?”

“I don’t know,” the man replied. “If I did…I wouldn’t tell you…”

“You’re lying to me,” Hellion growled. “I don’t like it when people lie to me. They usually don’t end up telling any more lies.”

“I’m not lying!”

Hellion smirked. “If you don’t have anything useful to tell me…then I guess I don’t need to keep you all alive anymore.”

“Kill us and the men outside will kill you,” the officer countered.

“They’ll try,” Hellion nodded. “But they’ll be too late for you. The best they’ll be able to do is bring your mutilated and smoking corpses to your families. Do you have any children, officer?”

The man’s mouth sealed tight, and he simply glared at the Sith Lord.

“Not feeling talkative anymore?” Hellion laughed. “Maybe you’ll start talking outside.”

“Outside?”

Hellion dragged him over to the barricade and poked both their heads over the wall. The officers raised their guns, but they couldn’t find a clear shot.

“Alright, cops,” Hellion called out. “This here is one of my hostages. I’ve got a whole bunch of them tied up in here. Men with families. Now, I don’t want to have to kill them…mostly…but if you don’t back off, then we’ll have a lot of weeping widows this evening.”

The police negotiator spoke back to him. “There’s no need to kill the hostages!”

“Of course not,” Hellion nodded. “Though I’m fully ready to do it.”

“Just tell us what you want.”

Hellion chuckled. “What I want is already in here…I just need you lot to run along home and leave me to my business.”

“You know we can’t do that,” the negotiator sighed.

“Can’t you? I’m sure the children of this fine officer would say differently.”

“Hold on now!” the negotiator said weakly. “Can’t you be reasonable?”

Hellion thought for a second. “I could…but I won’t. Back off, coppers, or I start killing. And then I can easily kill all of you too. Don’t give me a reason too.”

He dragged the officer back over to the bunch of hostages. He lifted him up in the air, gripping him by the throat.

“Now,” he sighed. “I’ll ask again – who paid you?”

“Screw you,” the man rasped.

Hellion shook his head in disgust. Then he activated the lightsaber and ran it through the man’s skull.

Dropping the dead man, he turned to the other hostages. “Anybody else want to annoy me? Or will you finally decide to start talking?”

No one spoke.

Hellion growled and shrugged. “If I find out on my own…I won’t need to keep any of you around anymore. Think on that for a bit.”

---

The hunters had caught up to Targon and the other Jedi. Blaster bolts zipped by their heads as Greyhawk continually turned around and bought the time with cover fire.

Djehad and Drago were fast approaching, though. They were more guns, and they were eager to get to them.

It was time to turn and fight.

Targon, Xana, and Ryner all turned about and activated their sabers. Three green blades sprung to life and deflected the storm of lasers.

Greyhawk took this time to find some cover for himself and give these young folks a chance to fight. Once behind a corner, he checked his ammunition and waited a while. Then he got out and starting shooting in sporadic bursts.

Djehad unleashed a storm of bolts, while Drago drew a vibroblade from the sling on his backside. With a ferocious roar, he leapt forward. He was a giant form of gray and black fur that filled the hall.

Ryner moved to intercept, catching the vibroblade with his saber. The Togorian pulled away and swung again. Each strike had enough strength behind it to flatten a man if it hit its mark.

The Jedi made sure to keep the blows glancing away with his saber. He was such a tall man, however, that he nearly stood eye to eye with the large feline. This allowed him to catch the attacks before they gained much momentum.

Their blades clashed and locked together. The Togorian snarled at him with intimidating fangs, and pushed hard against Ryner’s defense.

For a few moments, Ryner looked as though he was struggling. His brow furrowed and he grimaced in strain.

But then he opened his eyes and smirked.

Drago frowned in confusion at the Jedi’s smile, and then he growled louder.

Ryner deactivated his saber and pulled away. The force that the cat had been using destabilized him and he started to tumbled forward.

The Jedi aided his fall with a blow to the back of the neck. Once the Togorian had collapsed to the floor, Ryner pushed his hulking form away – directly for the short man.

Djehad ducked and rolled to avoid being crushed by the massive cat. He then got to his feet and started shooting again, this time with great speed and precision.

Ryner reactivated his blade and held off, but this time, Greyhawk returned to the fight.

The old soldier launched a grenade at the ceiling of the hall, causing the corridor to collapse above Djehad.

The small bounty hunter was forced to retreat to keep from being smashed.

As dust and debris clouded the hall, the Jedi and the soldier resumed their flight.

Behind the rubble, Djehad kicked at the Togorian to get him up.

“Come on, you mangy kitten!” the man snarled. “One blow to the neck and you’re done with?”

Drago rose suddenly, snatching the man’s neck in his massive claw. He hissed at him and bared his large fangs.

“Don’t talk smack to me, human,” Drago growled. “I’ve been fighting and hunting longer than you’ve been alive.”

“Oh, I see,” Djehad nodded. “So your age is slowing you down?”

“Not in the slightest,” Drago growled.

“If that’s the case,” the man gasped for breath. “How about showing your age-acquired skill more often?”

The Togorian rolled its yellow eyes and dropped him.

“We have to make double time to get around this mess,” he growled.

“Then what are you standing around for?” Djehad asked as he headed off back the way they had come.

The Togorian muttered a curse and followed after the small man.
I'd love you all to read my stories and tell me what you think!
The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
04.11.2012 , 06:05 PM | #116
Chapter Five

Rick and Sorgal caught up with the rest of their group outside one of the questioning rooms. The others had stopped to catch their breath and wait for them. Their relief was quite apparent when the two arrived.

Valens frowned, “This is new, Rick.”

“What?” Rick asked as he handed Sorgal over to the girls to get his hand treated.

“Going back to save someone,” Valens replied, folding his arms. “You never went back for anyone. Even Jolli. And certainly not me.”

Rick scowled. “I was getting the ship! I couldn’t have done anything to help either of you.”

“You saw what was going on,” Valens stated. “You saw them take me. Why didn’t you look for me? Did you think I died in the explosion you set off?”

“Okay, Shazzar set that off,” Rick pointed out.

“That doesn’t make any difference,” Valens shook his head. “You still didn’t look for me.”

“Where was I supposed to look?” Rick countered. “We just found you here…after eight years…happening to be in the same prison as us!”

“Boys!” Gabrielle snapped fiercely.

The two men stopped short, their voices silenced.

Gabrielle growled. “I’m sure you both have lots to talk about, but you’ll have to do it later. Now shut your traps and let’s get going.”

No one argued with that notion. Sorgal’s hand was bound up and they had caught their breath, so they continued on. They kept their guns trained behind them for whenever the bounty hunters might show up again.

They were getting closer to the entrance now. They hadn’t been encountering much in the way of inmates or policemen. Most that they did see were dead.

Then they found themselves at a corner. There were sounds of someone coming from the other side.

Rick took the lead, his blaster at the ready. Valens and Gabrielle were to either side, and Sorgal was prepared to use his less optimal hand to wield his blade. When the sounds grew close enough, they emerged with weapons trained…

Three lightsabers and one large blaster cannon greeted them.

“Rick!” Targon sighed with relief. “Are you all right?”

“For the most part,” Rick nodded, sighing himself. He holstered his gun.

“Who’s this?” Greyhawk asked, pointing to the young man next to Rick.

“This is Valens,” Rick replied.

“Valens?” Targon raised an eyebrow.

“As in the kid you talked about from your history?” Greyhawk added.

“I’m not a kid,” the man frowned.

“What happened to Sorgal?” Xana asked.

Sorgal regarded his broken wrist. “One of the bounty hunters has a real nasty grip.”

“And they’ve all got a worse attitude,” Ryner shrugged. “We’d best be getting out of here now.”

“That’s going to be a problem,” Targon sighed.

“Why?” Sorgal asked.

“Hellion is here,” Xana answered for him.

“How can you know that?” Rick asked. “All we’ve seen are bounty hunters.”

“I felt his presence,” Targon replied. “He can mask it well, but here…he’s wanting to let us know that he’s here.”

“What a great pickle we’re in,” Gabrielle growled. “Caught by criminals, and then we’re caught by bribed police and taken to a station where the Sith Lord can get at us easy.”

“If he paid them off,” Rick frowned. “Why kill them all?”

“I don’t think Hellion did,” Xana shook her head. “Someone else must have.”

“Well, Lycos sure didn’t,” Greyhawk stated. “If he had, they would have left after he died.”

“Quinn’s dead?” Valens’ eyes widened.

“Yeah, didn’t you know?” Sorgal asked. “Oh, wait, that’s right…you were in prison.”

“We need to focus, everyone,” Targon stated. “The only way out is through those doors…everything else has been locked down or blocked off. We need a plan to get past Hellion.”

---

Hellion was growing impatient. The bounty hunters had been gone far longer than he had expected.

He activated the comlink on his wrist and called each of them.

“How’s the hunt going, boys? You’ve been out long enough.”

Djehad was the first to respond.

“They’ve split up, and the south corridor has been blocked off.”

Hellion frowned. “I see…”

“I haven’t seen any sign of them,” Boruk stated. “The convicts have been getting in my way…not serious, but they are slowing me down.”

“I’m not going to pay you for being slow,” Hellion growled.

“Maybe you should start hunting with us,” Drago suggested with a hiss.

“And then why should I pay you at all?” Hellion countered. “Get the job done!”

He suddenly felt a disturbance through the Force…emanating from outside.

With a glance, he noticed the besieging police force was moving in. They were going to storm the station, and they were armed well enough to do it.

Hellion sighed with annoyance. “Change of plans,” he stated into the comm. “Regroup near the entrance – the authorities are getting antsy.”

“What about the targets?” Relvan asked angrily.

“The only exit is my location,” Hellion replied. “They’ll have to show up here. But first, we need to take care of this unwelcome development.”

He turned and faced the entrance as the first of the storming police barged in, weapons ready to fire.

“Hands in the air!” they ordered.

Hellion growled. “I told you all to stay out of this…but I guess you don’t care for the lives of the hostages. Oh well…”

They started shooting as he moved his hands, but Hellion was quick. In an instant, he lifted the hostages into the air and created a wall with their bodies between him and the storm of lasers.

Shrieking and screaming filled the room as the bolts tore through the helpless men. The others ceased fire, but it was too late.

Hellion slipped through the door and into the station amid the chaos.

He could feel the Jedi and his companions through the Force. They were close…closer than the mercenaries were.

Hellion decided it might be best to cut out the middleman and just take care of them all himself. The bounty hunters would deal with the police.

His heavy footsteps rang through the empty halls. Behind him, he could hear the police starting to advance into the station. But he cared nothing for that…they didn’t matter.

The only thing that mattered was victory. And he was going to have it.

He was gone by the time the police moved out into the halls. But he could hear from echoes through the ventilation system of their activities.

Soon enough, he heard shouting and shooting. He could hear the voices of the bounty hunters, the whining of blaster bolts…and the screaming of the dying.

It was music…but he didn’t have time to stop and listen.

The Jedi was so close now.

Eagerly, Hellion reached for his saber.

Just behind this door…
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TargonKarashi
04.11.2012 , 06:11 PM | #117
Chapter Six

The approaching dark presence came so fast, the Jedi couldn’t react in time. The Sith Lord burst through the door while the group was in the midst of its planning.

His burning eyes flashed from beneath his black cloak and dark gray armor. He had is crimson blade in hand – and he wasted no time in starting to swing it.

Targon’s saber sprung to life and he caught the Sith’s blade before it got near Rick’s head. Then he pushed Hellion back, trying to steal his momentum by taking the offensive.

Xana and Ryner were soon on either side of Hellion, forming a circle around the Sith Lord and slowly tightening it.

But Hellion wasn’t about to be caught like a badger in a trap. He leaped out from the ring of Jedi, landing behind Targon.

Blaster bolts headed his way from Rick and Greyhawk, but he deflected them easily. More shots came from the Twi’lek and someone Hellion hadn’t seen before. The other woman, the criminal, held back and kept a large distance between her and the fight.

Targon turned around and attacked again, but Hellion blocked, and this time he took the offensive. His hammering blows pushed the young Jedi back.

Then, with a swipe of his other fist, he sent Targon sprawling into the air and landing on his back.

Xana came at him now, blade twirling with incredible speed and grace. Hellion held off her attacks, and then started making his own.

Her strength was nowhere near his, so she could hardly stand toe to toe with him. Instead, Xana danced around him, keeping away from the brunt of his assaults.

She was joined by Ryner – and he fought completely different.

At one point, Hellion slammed his saber down against the tall Jedi’s. But instead of holding against it, Ryner deactivated his saber, letting gravity destabilize the Sith as he moved out of the way to make another attack.

Hellion was nearly fooled the first few times. Ryner’s blade actually scratched through his armor at a few points and even struck his skin beneath. But that was as far as it went.

He adjusted his application of strength so that this Jedi’s peculiar fighting style wouldn’t catch him off guard again.

Xana came at Hellion with a sudden lunge. The Sith Lord swatted the attack away and kicked her in the stomach with a big, heavy boot. She collapsed to the ground, but Targon had recovered and joined the fight again before Hellion could focus on Ryner alone.

Rick and Valens took several potshots when they saw the opportunity, but they never did hit their target. However, they were successful in getting Hellion’s attention and distracting him from the fight.

Hellion turned his sights on the shooters, hurling a storm of lightning at them. They tried to run, but they weren’t fast enough. Both of them were thrown to the wall by the dark energy.

But that was when Ryner made his sudden attack, nearly cutting off Hellion’s arm. He would have, if the Sith hadn’t pulled back in time and raised his saber to hold off the Jedi’s strikes.

Greyhawk was waiting for the right moment, aiming his large gun. He found it when Hellion knocked both Targon and Ryner away in a quick series of kicks and punches.

He fired a grenade at the Sith from his launcher.

Seeing it just in time, Hellion raised his hand to put up a shield through the Force to protect him. He wasn’t quite quick enough, for although the fiery blast didn’t vaporize him, the shock of it hurled him to a wall.

Smoke filled the room.

Hellion stood up quickly, brushing off the rubble and dust and char. His eyes were burning hotly, more intense than the explosion itself had been.

He raised both hands and unleashed a torrent of lightning that struck everyone in the room. As they screamed, he laughed and roared in furious triumph.

---

The hallway had become a battlefield – and there were plenty of corpses on the ground to warrant such a description.

Troops were storming in, but many of them just kept falling as the bounty hunters caught them in a crossfire.

Djehad was looking like he was having too much fun. He laughed as more police barged through the doors and fell victim to his flurry of lasers. His twin blasters were smoking now from having been fired so much.

Drago was next to him, but he kept quiet. He bore his teeth as he shot, and growled an occasional curse when he missed.

But the police were getting smarter now. They started using cover, throwing smoke pellets to hide in, and firing together in teams. Some were also starting to wear heavier armor.

Djehad swore when his blasters overheated. They weren’t only smoking, they seemed to be glowing with excess heat.

“This job is getting less profitable by the second,” he muttered.

“I should expect such complaint from the most recent hired gun,” Drago growled at him. “And a human, no less.”

Djehad laughed. “Well, this human knows how to survive. I’m out of here.”

“How?” Drago asked. “The police block the exit.”

The short man replied by tossing a thermal detonator at a wall and covering his head. The explosion rocked the corridor and dust filled everywhere.

Drago then felt a pain stab beneath his shoulder blade. Glancing back, he found a knife sticking out of his scapula. He roared in pain, trying to grab it, but it was just out of his reach.

“A little gift to remember me by,” Djehad said as he walked off to the massive hole he had created. He turned back long enough to tip his hat to the raging Togorian just as the cat caught a blaster bolt to the chest in his distraction. And then the short man was gone.

After Drago fell, the police focused on the remaining two bounty hunters on the opposite side of the corridor.

Boruk and Relvan kept shooting, their aim precise and their hits fatal. It didn’t look like they were going to be dislodged any time soon.

Then a brave officer, already hit twice in the abdomen, desperately threw a concussion grenade at the mercenaries. Distracted from killing other police, they didn’t notice it until it went off.

The Nosaurian howled as he was blinded and stunned. Police quickly stormed up and put him in cuffs. It took three men to keep his flailing claws in check.

Relvan, on the other hand, could still see through his cybernetic eye. He killed seven more officers as they surrounded him and tried to take him down. His prosthetic arm was dripping in their blood.

But then several men shot him with stun rays. It took several hits to short out his nerves, but he went down eventually.

The police dragged the bodies of the slain and the bound mercenaries out of the station. The police chief grumbled and sighed at the massive chaos.

A tall person walked next to him.

“Well, they’ve been taken care of,” the chief stated.

“Good work, officer,” the man smiled. “Here’s the money as promised. A pity so many good men had to die to see this task done.”

“These mercenaries had to be stopped.”

“Indeed,” the man nodded, his true feelings on the matter hidden by his golden mask. He handed the police chief a case of credits. “If you’ll excuse me,” he said as he walked off down the hall. “You have your duties…and I have one last matter to attend to.”

---

Hellion stopped his electrical assault. He laughed at the trembling and weak forms of his opponents lying helplessly on the ground.

Targon was trying to stand, but his muscles were giving out from under him.

Hellion reached out and lifted the Jedi into the air, bringing him close.

“It’s over now,” he hissed. “You’ve fought your last, Jedi. Now it’s time we finished this.”

“What do you want?” Targon rasped. “Don’t you have armies to lead and rivals to kill?”

“Already took care of them,” Hellion chuckled.

“I noticed you were working solo,” Targon stated. “More or less…”

“Yes,” Hellion nodded. “But as you can see, I am more than enough to deal with you and your pitiful little band.”

“Just keep talking,” Targon smirked. “My ‘pitiful band’ will get up soon and stop you while you’re so busy gloating.”

“I think not, Jedi,” Hellion shook his head. He activated his saber and raised it to Targon’s neck. “Once you’re dead, they’ll lose heart, and they’ll quickly follow.”

Targon kept calm, not worrying about the heat of the blade so close to his throat. “One question before you finish this…” he gasped. “Why pay off the police and then kill them?”

Hellion laughed. “Stupid boy,” his eyes flashed. “I don’t pay corrupt and putrid cops. I kill them. Whoever paid them to get you all in jail did a miserable job.”

“Actually,” a shockingly familiar voice said from behind. “It worked just fine.”

Hellion’s eyes widened, but before he could react, a pair of red blades pierced through his chest.

Targon was dropped to the floor. He glanced up and saw the other Sith behind Hellion, withdrawing his twin blades.

Vinitar.

Hellion wheezed from behind his re-breather and dropped to his knees with a thunderous clamor. His burning eyes stared disbelievingly at the red robed, gold masked Sith that stood over him.

“How…?” he gasped.

Vinitar glared at him with contempt. “One ill turn deserves another, Hellion. Your brutality blinded you to more subtle plots against you.”

“You can’t…” Hellion hissed. “You can’t have beaten me…I am Sith!”

“No,” Vinitar laughed. “You are dead.”

He spun his blades in his hands and cut down the man that had betrayed him. Hellion’s thick, armored body clattered to the floor.

Vinitar then turned his sights on Targon.

“You paid the police,” the young Jedi realized.

“Authorities are easy to bribe,” Vinitar nodded. “And what better way to make sure Hellion showed up where I wanted him to, without him suspecting anything?”

“So what now?” Targon asked. “Kill us?”

“That is within my power,” Vinitar replied. “But my vengeance is done here. Hellion is dead. This assignment has been most distasteful, and with him dead, I can now be reassigned.”

“Reassigned?”

“Your little band is more trouble than you’re worth,” Vinitar stated. “Someone else can have the luxury of taking you down. I’m through with you…and I hope we never meet again.”

With that, Vinitar walked out of the room, leaving Targon and his group alone with the body of the slain Sith Lord.
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TargonKarashi
04.11.2012 , 06:17 PM | #118
Chapter Seven

Luckily, the group wasn’t arrested as they exited the station. The police were too busy with all the other details to take any real note of them. After all, it wasn’t this group that had massacred so many inmates and officers.

They made their way to the spaceport and back to the Lone Eagle. There, Ryner shook hands with them all and informed them that this was where they parted ways.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do still,” he sighed. “There’s the report on the mission against Lycos Quinn…and the subsequent events. And there’s the corruption issue here on Corellia that needs addressing.”

“Well, with so many crime bosses gone,” Xana shrugged, “things shouldn’t be too bad for a little while, at least.”

“You may be right,” Ryner nodded. “I’ll be sure to inform the Council of how you all handled yourself. They’ll be interested to hear about it, I’m sure.”

“If you ask me,” Greyhawk chuckled. “I’d say they get a kick every time they hear about our exploits.”

Ryner laughed. “Well, gentlemen, I hope we meet again. But until then, may the Force be with you.”

“And you,” Targon nodded.

The tall Jedi walked off and had soon disappeared amid the crowds of the spaceport.

Nalia then addressed the group.

“I’m not quite sure what to make of you all,” she said. “And I’m sure you’re no friend of my line of business. I’m…sorry for my part in these events…and I’m grateful for how you helped me.”

“Ah, it was nothing,” Sorgal shrugged.

“I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for you all,” she persisted. “I am in your debt. Whether you are a bunch of criminals or vigilantes…you all are certainly friends of mine.”

“Wow,” Valens gaped. “Thanks from the Queen of the Underworld? You guys are famous.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Greyhawk winked at the young man.

“If there’s ever anything I can do for you,” Nalia said, “my home is on Coruscant. Look me up at the Royal Gardens. If you have trouble with other criminals…I’ll see to it that my place is a safe haven for you.”

“That’s quite generous of you,” Targon nodded. “We are grateful for your offer.”

“No, Jedi,” the Twi’lek shook her head, her long pink lekku gracefully wagging behind her. “It is I that is grateful to you. I hope one day I can repay the debt I owe you.”

She shook their hands and departed, heading for one of the large transports headed for Coruscant.

When she was gone, they boarded the ship.

“Well,” Valens stated as he looked around the ship. “I see you’ve changed things around…even the name.”

“I’ve changed,” Rick stated simply.

“Have you now?” the young man smirked. “We’ll see about that.”

“There’s a bunk for you,” Rick informed him. “We lost one of our companions a while back…”

“It’s certainly not as spacious with a larger crew,” Valens noted, taking no heed to Rick’s words.

“Make yourself comfortable,” Rick muttered, rolling his eyes and headed for his large captain’s quarters.

“I’ll take off,” Targon stated, heading up to the cockpit.

Rick muttered a thanks, but he wasn’t sure if the Jedi heard him. He was weary…and things had been quite hectic and exhausting here on Corellia. More than in the past, certainly.

He dropped onto his large bed and groaned with exhaustion and grief.

He certainly hadn’t expected to reveal his past…he had been trying for so long to bury it. But with Shazzar’s appearance to the crew – and now Valens – the festering wounds of his history were surfacing again.

There was so much he regretted about those days. He really wished he could just forget everything that had happened. All those faces…all those feelings…

Someone sat down on the bed and started to softly caress his back and shoulders.

Rick glanced up in surprise to find Gabrielle there, looking at him with sympathy in her gorgeous eyes.

“This is the captain’s quarters,” he said simply.

“What are you going to do? Flog me?”

Rick sighed, “No. I don’t do that.”

“I know you don’t,” Gabrielle nodded. “You used to do worse.”

“Thanks for the reminder.”

Gabrielle sighed and leaned on Rick’s back, digging her elbow into his taut and tense muscles. “I’m not here to hurt you.”

“Could have fooled me,” Rick groaned with the intense massage.

“I’m here to comfort you.”

“Comfort me? Sorgal’s the one with the broken hand. Greyhawk’s old and battered. Targon’s being hunted by the Empire. And Valens has been in jail for who knows how long? What need have I for comfort?”

Gabrielle turned him over and stared directly into his eyes. Beautiful as she was, she was also intimidating.

“You need to make peace with your past,” she stated. “I used to be a slave, Rick. Even as a bounty hunter, I was caught under the chains of bigotry and society’s view of my kind.”

“I’m sorry,” Rick sighed. “I shouldn’t be wallowing in my problems when…”

“Let me finish,” Gabrielle said sharply.

“Okay, okay.”

“Back when Quinn had you in those games…and I was treating your soreness…you said you understood me. You hinted at your past and…you connected with me. I had no idea why or how. And then you told us who you really were.”

“That’s not me anymore.”

“I know it’s not,” Gabrielle said softly. “That man is gone. Now you are Rick Orlan, captain of The Lone Eagle, and a man surrounded by friends.”

“Friends that now know me as a killer…as well as a fool.”

“No, they don’t,” Gabrielle stated. She leaned in closer to him. “More importantly, I don’t.”

“What do you see me as?” Rick asked.

“I see you as I’ve always seen you from the night we met at the Showtime Affair. You’re a cute man with quirks and a bad poker face. And I wouldn’t want to see you any other way.”

Rick was about to respond, but as soon as he opened his mouth she kissed him. It caught him off-guard, and he wasn’t exactly sure what to do.

Gabrielle pulled away and shook her head, as though she had heard his thoughts. “You’re supposed to kiss me back, Rick.”

And so he did. They lay there on the bed for several minutes, kissing and enjoying the feel and taste of each other.

Then he heard a sigh at the door.

Valens was just outside, his arms folded and shaking his head.

“Really, Rick?” he asked. “It doesn’t seem you’ve changed at all.”

Rick rolled his eyes and pressed a button next to the bed. The door closed and then locked.

“I can just sit out here and listen to you!” Valens’ voice said from behind the door.

“Boy, leave the captain alone,” Greyhawk growled, “or I’ll give you a spanking that your mother obviously didn’t give you enough of.”

Rick smiled, but then he found his face caught up with Gabrielle’s again. A strange realization came to him.

Having her here made all the pain and regret melt away.

---

Relvan and Boruk sat silently in the dark rear of the police vehicle. There were no windows to the outside, and they had no idea where they were headed.

It was likely to a high-security prison in the mountains, or even off-world.

The Nosaurian picked at his teeth with his claws, avoiding eye contact with the Nautolan.

Relvan just sat and brooded. His nerves were back to normal, but his weapons were gone and a restraint had been put on his arm to keep it immobilized. Otherwise, he would have broken out long ago.

Suddenly, the vehicle jolted to a stop, nearly throwing them both out of their seats. They both growled with annoyance and confusion.

Outside, they could hear shouting and blaster fire. It was short-lived, however, and then it became quiet again. The vehicle didn’t start up…it was just a long, awkward, and silent moment.

Then the door opened and light streamed into the car, blinding them for a few seconds.

“Well, well,” a voice said. “What do we have here?”

“Looks like all that remains of the Sith Lord’s mercs,” a deeper voice answered.

Finally able to see, Relvan and Boruk stared at the pair just outside. One was a man in green and brown armor, with a turban wrapped around his head and face. The other was a towering giant in thick armor and decked out in a wide assortment of deadly weapons.

Boruk growled. “You two don’t work together…you have different employers!”

“We did,” the man in the turban nodded.

“Quinn is dead, and so is my employment,” the giant rumbled.

“Having worked together in the past,” the first man continued, “I figured we could use a little teaming up. Maybe you two might be interested as well?”

“I know you two,” Relvan growled. “Shazzar and the Phantom. Why should I work with you? You’d just as soon kill each other.”

“Not really,” Shazzar shook his head. “The Jedi your recently-deceased employer was after? My client is paying a hundred million for him.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Boruk snorted. “What makes that boy so special?”

“What do you care?” the Phantom countered. “Money is money. Of course, if you’re not interested, then I suppose we can leave you here for the cops to come back and take you the rest of the way to jail.”

Relvan stood. “One hundred million split four ways, eh?”

“Something like that,” Shazzar nodded. “I know you as well, Relvan Kirth. Your reputation is quite renowned, not quite like the Phantom’s…but still…”

“And you can do better where a Sith failed?”

“We know we can,” the Phantom stated.

“It’s up to you,” Shazzar shrugged. “Stay or come. Time is short, and so is our offer.”

Relvan and Boruk thought for a second, and then they shook the pair’s hands.

Conclusion of Episode Fifteen
I'd love you all to read my stories and tell me what you think!
The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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RulithBarakis
04.11.2012 , 06:23 PM | #119
And so is revealed the deadly alliance. It's getting very close to where you were before the wipe! I'm pretty much bouncing with anticipation now. You didn't exactly leave off at a point that left us satisfied for a wait, lol

Can't wait to continue reading once the next Episode is up!

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TargonKarashi
04.12.2012 , 07:35 PM | #120
Episode Sixteen – Unholy Alliance

Chapter One

The twelve most powerful authorities in the Empire entered the chamber and took their seats. No one spoke with one another, no mindless chatter, not even an amiable greeting.

They simply eyed each other with suspicion and distrust. They were all on edge, tense, and grinding their teeth in silent fury.

A hologram activated on the table in the center of the council chamber. The hooded and mysterious form of the Dark Emperor peered deep into the hearts of each Sith Lord.

“There is a disturbance in the Force,” the Emperor said softly, with a slow and menacing voice. “Three colonies along the contested border with the Republic have been purged – all life has vanished.”

The Sith Lords said nothing. No one spoke unless the Emperor allowed it.

“Something is amiss in the Empire,” the Emperor continued. “Find it, my servants. Find this disturbance and be rid of it. That is my command.”

The whole Dark Council bowed and said together, “As you wish, Emperor.”

The hologram flickered off, and the Emperor’s dark presence seemed to dissipate with his image.

“What is this thing that the Emperor refers to?” one of the Council asked. “I have felt nothing of this sort. I have felt no passing of life or death amid planets.”

“You wouldn’t feel yourself passing gas, Lord Arson,” another Council member maliciously joked.

No one laughed. All the Council simply glared at the Sith Lord.

Hades leaned forward on his cane. “You have no cause for humor with the Emperor’s command, Lord Ravage.”

“And you have no cause to berate me,” Ravage hissed.

“You would already be dead,” Arson growled, “if it weren’t for the Emperor’s command.”

Viruul shook his head. “The Emperor made no decree that Ravage should still be alive. Perhaps he has been on the Council long enough and the Emperor would be glad to see him gone.”

“You’d best leave threats unspoken, Viruul,” Lord Mortis said from across the chamber. “You’re already unpopular enough.”

“That’s your opinion,” Viruul shrugged. “And a stupid opinion at that.”

“At least my opinion doesn’t lead to your death,” Mortis stated. “You are lucky that the rest of the Council is not as eager to kill as you are.”

“Eager to kill?” Viruul frowned. “I have not killed any man, woman, or child needlessly. All has been for the Empire’s benefit.”

“The Empire’s?” Ravage asked. “Or yours?”

“My thoughts exactly,” Mortis nodded.

“You are lucky that I care little for what you think,” Viruul jabbed his finger in the air towards Mortis. “Otherwise, you would be at the top of my inquisition list.”

Lord Howl laughed from another side of the chamber. “That’s awfully presumptuous of you, Viruul. What authority is given you to threaten or even suppose to kill another of this Council?”

“The Emperor gives me the authority,” Viruul stated. “The Emperor and my own power.”

“The same power that has led you to fall in the graces of the Council?” Ravage laughed. “What have you done in this war, Viruul?”

Mortis nodded. “Ravage is right, what have you done? Viserys was not taken by your forces. Mine did.”

“Your agents have not killed Jedi like ours,” Howl stated.

“What agents do you have?” Mortis asked, his mocking smile hidden by his faceless mask. “Last I heard, your bounty hunters were dead or failed, your Sith hunters gone, and your…apprentice – if that’s what you can call that thing – has not been seen for some time.”

“Take care of what you say,” Hades hissed. “My apprentice was lost in Viruul’s service. Would you insult me as you do Lord Viruul?”

“Perhaps I do,” Mortis waved his hand. “But you are not involved in this matter, Lord Hades. It is Viruul to whom the attention falls.”

“My apprentice is where she is meant to be,” Viruul stated, seething with a barely controlled rage at being mocked. “She is closer than you think, Mortis.”

“And what has she done for you?” Howl asked. “Murdered a few people on Telos?”

Mortis laughed at that. “My apprentice, on the other hand, oversaw and participated in the deaths of countless Jedi and soldiers…including three of the Jedi High Council.”

Lord Viruul stood in a rage. “And where is Scorpius now, Mortis? He’s on the frontlines, fighting the Republic, and perhaps even dead. He could not get here fast enough to keep me from killing your right now.”

“Is that a threat?” Mortis asked harshly.

“What do you think?” Viruul spat. “Your champion is far away. Mine might be right behind you.”

“I will not sit here and listen to your empty, foolish threats!” Ravage rose.

“Your ambition is your downfall, Viruul,” Howl stated.

“Silence!” Lord Marr’s voice came out in a fierce and shattering whisper. The rest of the Council turned to him, shocked at his outburst that was so uncommon of him.

“Have you taken leave of your senses?” Marr asked. “Have you forgotten the Emperor’s command? There are more pressing matters at hand than our banter and politics.”

Hades nodded. “Lord Marr is correct. We can conclude this…discussion…at another time. Now we must see to the disappearances of these colonies.”

With a sigh, Viruul nodded and sat. “I will not be the one to forget the Emperor’s will. What do we know of these colonies and their inhabitants? What signs or traces can be found of their incident?”

He glanced over at Mortis, sitting silently.

Mortis appeared disinterested in the matter, as though he already knew what all the business was about…or else he didn’t care at all.

Lord Hades pointed out the three colonies on the holoprojector.

“Haroon V, Undor, and Shanxi…all neutral colonies in the Expansion Region. The first two were mining colonies; the third was a small trade hub for lesser hyperspace lanes.”

“They don’t seem very important,” Lord Arson observed. “An average population size…some resources, but not vital…”

Viruul saw something and pointed it out. “They are in a systematic pattern,” he stated. “Each is less than seven parsecs away from the last…and it starts from the Empire’s border.”

Hades nodded. “Yes, it does appear to be a chain. It stems from the Empire, sure enough. The Emperor said so. But what? Who?”

“An investigative force must be sent to gather information,” Ravage stated.

“No, really?” Arson spat.

“Quiet, both of you,” Hades raised a pale, thin finger. “We’ll send a team, but who?”

“And where?” Mortis asked. “Why send them to these worlds where no one is left? They won’t find anything.”

“Is that so?” Viruul asked. “Most others would disagree…but I know where to send them.” He pointed to the next world that would be right in the path of the pattern. Seven parsecs away from Shanxi was a planet he recognized.

Yoren.

“We have ambassadors there already,” Ravage shook his head. “They would have reported something out of place.”

“You think dumb, fat diplomats in their nice hotel suites would notice something subtle?” Hades cackled.

“Yoren is in the midst of upheaval,” Viruul stated. “If there was an attack, an epidemic, or whatever this was…we wouldn’t know about it in time unless we have someone already there looking for it.”

“Well, why don’t we send your apprentice?” Howl suggested.

“And how about we send your head with her?” Viruul snapped back. “She has more important matters to attend to…”

“We will send an Imperial Agent,” Marr stated bluntly.

Viruul paused, his mouth agape for a moment. “I think not!”

“It is not up to you,” Hades shook his head. “The Moffs and the Ministry of Intelligence are feeling…unappreciated…by the Council. We need to utilize their resources and make use of them. Otherwise…they might suppose we don’t like them.”

“So now we’re bringing politics into this?” Viruul growled and laced his fingers.

“Everything is about politics,” Mortis stated. “Didn’t you know that?”

Viruul glanced up at him, frowning. He had noticed Mortis hadn’t said much…especially since the subject of Yoren was brought up.

“We’re playing a game of thrones, Viruul,” Mortis continued. “Twelve thrones, and one observer. If you don’t win, you die. And another Sith will take your place.”

Viruul’s eyes narrowed. He knew Mortis was up to something. There had been an open challenge of authority between them in this Council session. That hadn’t happened before. Mortis usually shut down before Viruul’s fury…or the situation was easily diffused by another of the Council.

But this was different. Mortis had stood up to him.

That could only mean one thing…

Mortis was going to make his move. And soon.
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi