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Rise of the Black Sun


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YoshiRaphElan
04.27.2013 , 05:21 PM | #1
Well, it's here. I haven't finished Makeb yet but I just couldn't wait to continue my characters' story, so here we go. Some minor spoilers for Makeb may apply, and definitely Act 1-3 spoilers for all classes. Aaand...here we go!

Prologue

Stepping onto the speeder platform of the Nar Shaddaa promenade, Merok glanced around. He felt out of place in his outfit, but he knew it was for the best–especially since he was here for Republic SIS and not the Empire. If anyone from the Empire saw him doing this, his cover would be blown.

He scratched absently at the leg of his leather pants and wished he could be back in something more befitting a member of the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force. His jacket was unzipped and tied around his waist, leaving his chest bare. His pistol was hidden under the jacket. He frowned. He hated being exposed like this–perfect opportunity for a sniper to pick him off–but his wife, Raina, was certainly enjoying the view.

It was only fair, though, because so was he. Clad in red loungewear, she looked nothing so much like a stripper in one of Nar Shaddaa's casinos. Unfortunately, the bikini allowed no hiding place for a blaster, so Raina was relying on Scorpio, up on the next level armed with a Verpine shatter gun, to protect her in case of combat. However, Merok had hidden an extra holdout blaster in his boot, so he could throw it to her in an emergency.

With a sigh of relief, Merok caught sight of his contact. He started forward, Raina on his flank. His contact looked up and saw him, widened his eyes, and sprinted away. Merok rolled his eyes. Oh, no. Apparently, the news of Merok's defection had gotten lost in the chain of command, and this agent still assumed he was Cipher Nine, late of Imperial Intelligence.

"Raina," he said, "stay here."

He took off after the agent. The human man took a dive off the speeder pad. Merok groaned and, with minimal hesitation, leapt after him. The man had a speeder parked several meters below, and he crashed into the pilot's seat and took off. Merok barely caught hold of the rear brake light. He pulled himself into the passenger's seat, his head under the dash and his feet over the seat and sticking into the air. He started to sit up–

And found himself staring into the barrel of a Republic-issue blaster pistol.

"Would you like to buy a room," he said hastily.

"No, I'll be leaving tonight," the agent replied in relief. "Theron Shan."

"Merok. Let's make this fast, I may have a watcher."

"No pun intended, right?"

Merok nodded. "Right."

"Okay, so–"

Suddenly, a blaster bolt shot overhead. Merok scrambled into the seat, frowning. He glanced back. Two speeder cars and two bikes came after them.

"What's going on?" Merok asked as Theron shot the speeder forward.

"Black Sun," he said grimly. "They're after me. I think."

Merok nodded. "All right. Transmit your information to my ship–" he gave him the information, "–and get out."

"Where are you...?"

Merok leapt out of the car, letting the rest of Theron's question trail off. He pressed a button on his wrist comlink, sighing in relief that he had remembered to wear it. His speeder bike flew up on autopilot. Merok grabbed the handlebars as he fell by and grunted as his arms were nearly pulled out of socket.

"Ouch," he muttered.

He glanced behind him. One of the speeder cars had peeled off after him, driven by a human, with a Zabrak and two more humans in the back seat, shooting at Merok.

"Great," he hissed.

He roared off and activated his comlink.

"Raina," he said, "find me a building nearby, with windows large enough for me to fit through on my bike but too large for an Aratech speeder car."

"Processing," Raina replied. "Got one. Kilometer to your west."

Merok nodded to himself. "Got it. Thanks."

Merok shot around the next bend, headed for the building in the distance. He pulled out his blaster, turned, and fired once, unsure if it hit anyone. He reached the building and opened fire on the window, which shattered. Then he shot inside the building. The Black Sun thugs, unfortunately, didn't continue on, they went around. Merok veered sharply upward and back toward the spaceport.

* * *

Dha rubbed Mako's back as they looked down on the Nar Shaddaa skyline. They were here looking for Gault's old friend, Hylo Visz, at the Devaronian's request. Currently, Gault was in a coma after saving Mako's life and, indirectly, that of the baby she now cradled in her arms.

"Crysta looks overwhelmed," Mako commented.

Dha nodded. "Understandable; she's never been out of the country, and this is literally a city-world."

"So, where do we start looking for Hylo?"

"Cantinas," Dha said. "There were no signs of her on Makeb, so I basically wasted my time with that isotope-5 thing, but hey, it paid. Maybe she'll be here. Nar Shaddaa's the best smuggler hangout in the galaxy, after–"

Suddenly, a speeder roared by, followed by another, and two bikes, all three of which were firing blaster bolts at the first.

"That was Theron in the first car!" Dha said.

"Who–?"

"Wait here!"

Dha activated his jetpack and roared off in pursuit. He caught up quickly, firing his grapnel and yanking the driver of one speeder bike off. He released the cord, letting the driver fall into oblivion. Then the second bike whirled and came at Dha. Deftly, he deactivated his jetpack and landed firmly on the bike. He punched the rider, sending him, too, flailing to his death. He pulled around, quickly catching up with the speeder car and its final pursuer.

Theron Shan seemed to have realized what was going on, and had pulled around, now heading on a head-on collision course with the other vehicle. As he did he pulled out his pistol and fired through the front window of his speeder. The driver, a Rodian, was killed in the spray. In the back seat, a Trandoshan and a Weequay stood up and opened fire.

Dha leapt off the bike, grabbed the Weequay by the throat, and rammed his gauntlet blade into the alien's kidney. Then, he turned and shot the Trandoshan cleanly in the face.

"Wasn't expecting you!" Theron called.

"Always repay my debts!" Dha replied.

Not long ago, Dha had been ambushed by Regulators here on Nar Shaddaa. He would've been killed if not for Theron, who'd killed one of the Regulators pinning Dha down.

"Debt fulfilled," Theron agreed.

"Then fight well," Dha said. "Farewell."

"Farewell," Theron replied. "Ret'urcye mhi."

Dha blinked in surprise at the Mandalorian farewell. "Ret'urcye mhi," he said.

Theron pulled away, and Dha remounted the hovering bike and returned to his wife and child.

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YoshiRaphElan
04.28.2013 , 12:58 PM | #2
Chapter 1

Jasin knelt before the Forge, using the Force to assemble his new lightsaber. He'd lost weapons before–his first blade had been destroyed in his fight with Kira while she'd been possessed by the Emperor, shortly after the death of Darth Angral. His second weapon, with a green blade, had been taken from him when he'd been turned into a Sith by Emperor Vitiate, and been replaced with a red-bladed Sith weapon. After he'd been freed of the Emperor's power by Orgus Din, he'd modified the Sith weapon, and it had shone a blue-cyan color.

Those blades, at least, had been taken from him by Sith.

His last weapon, the same blue-cyan blade, had not been destroyed fighting Tol Braga, or the Emperor himself, nor even Darth Serevin or Darth Malgus. No, his weapon had been destroyed by a kriffing Regulator droid.

With an amused sigh, he turned his attention back to the weapon. With one quick motion, he snapped the ends of the hilt together. Standing, he took the weapon in his hand and ignited it. A small smile crossed his face as the silver-blue blade extended, lighting the gray stones around him.

"Your weapon is complete," Scourge said. "May we go now?"

"I would've thought you'd understand the necessity of a weapon," Jasin said, miffed. "After all, you Sith take more interest in violence than we do."

Scourge chuckled. "Yes, but we do not feel the need to assemble our own weapons. We are given them by our Masters when taken as apprentices, or our final trial is to find one hidden in an ancient tomb, guarded by dangerous animals or other guardians."

"Other guardians?"

Scourge nodded. "Spirits of ancient Sith, trapped in statues, brought to life by a Sith's presence, or an ancient warrior trapped in stasis; even a terentatek."

"Spirits of ancient Sith?"

Scourge nodded. "Your brother took that test, I believe."

Jasin quirked an eyebrow. "How do you know about my brother's training?"

"I am–was–the Emperor's Wrath. There was little that happened on Korriban that I did not know about. And your brother showed more promise than most."

Jasin rolled his eyes. "I'm sure he'd love that compliment."

"He should. He took my place, after all, and to be complimented by a predecessor in the Sith is a rare occasion indeed."

"That's because you kill your predecessors to take their place!"

"Still."

Jasin sighed in defeat, then gave Scourge a sneaky look. "Care to test your skills?"

Scourge ignited his red-bladed saber. "Gladly."

* * *

Methic stood, arms crossed, in the Dark Council chamber.

"Well done on Makeb, Emperor's Wrath," said Darth Acina, new head of the Sphere of Technology.

"The isotope-5 will greatly aid our troopers," agreed Darth Marr. "It is a pity the Wrath cannot also be on the Council, for you would fit perfectly as a replacement for Darth Arho."

"You are too kind, my lord," Methic lied.

"I, too, retrieved the isotope-5," snarled Darth Nox. "Methic cannot be singled out."

"No one is leaving you out, Nox," said Darth Vowrawn with a laugh. "Are you jealous?"

Darth Nox: now there was a rival that needed to be eliminated. Nox was one of the very few beings in the Empire that knew Methic had a connection to the Jedi via his brother Jasin and cousin Gareb, and Nox was also the most likely to use it to his advantage. Methic could've easily killed the Twi'lek, if not for the need for discretion. He could have come up with some trumped-up charges that "the Emperor" had against Nox, but the Servants wouldn't approve. The disgusting Purebloods seemed to have a certain liking for Nox, and angering the Servants was, indirectly, angering the Emperor.

"Not jealous," Nox hissed. "Just disgusted that you all lick this man's boots because he represents a dead man."

To keep up pretenses, Methic ignited his red-bladed lightsaber and took a step forward, glaring at Nox through his mask.

"To question the Emperor's survival is to forfeit your own," he said.

Nox snorted, but relented. "Forgive me, Methic."

Methic, personally, didn't care if the Emperor was still alive or not. If so, then he could deal with the problem if and when it presented itself. If not, then good; it would be one less issue for him to get rid of when he began his plan to change the Empire for the better and extinguish the Sith.

"I must take my leave for now," Methic said. "Business calls elsewhere. But remember, I am always watching."

"Of course," Marr replied coldly.

Methic turned and walked out of the room. No sooner had he passed through the doors than Jaesa and Quinn looked up and followed at his heels.

"How did it go, my lord?" Quinn asked.

"Could've been better," Methic muttered. "Nox is presenting himself a nuisance."

"He will not prevail," Jaesa said firmly. "We have the light on our side."

Quinn smiled. "Dear Jaesa, would that we all had your confidence. Personally, I agree that we can deal with Nox easily enough, but his power base is in a good position to damage us, and badly."

"We'll deal with it when the time comes," Methic interrupted. "You two, go start up the ship and prepare for departure. When we get to Eriadu, you may take the day off and enjoy yourselves; Pierce and I can handle the issue there."

"Thank you, my lord," Quinn said, wrapping his arm around Jaesa's shoulder.

Methic nodded. "If only Vette and I got as much time together as you two did."

"Actually, Master," Jaesa said under a cough, "I was wondering if in a few days, Quinn and I might visit our parents."

Quinn coughed a little, too, and Methic fought the urge to laugh. The last time Quinn and Jaesa had gone to her parents' place on Alderaan, before they'd been a couple, it had been supremely awkward, with her mother insinuating their dating. They had not realized then that they actually would end up together. As Methic recalled, Quinn said Jaesa had related him to a refresher station.

"Of course," Methic said. "Take five days, even. Broonmark, Pierce, Vette, and I can get by, and if I need you I can go to Alderaan and pick you up."

"Thank you, Master." Jaesa smiled. "It'll also give us time alone. I know this lovely spot in the mountains, where there's a hot spring. No one ever goes there. We could enjoy ourselves, take our robes and uniform off and swim a little..."

"Sounds lovely," Quinn replied, his voice squeaking a little.

"Then go," Methic said with a laugh. "I wish Vette and I could join you, but duty calls. Have fun."

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YoshiRaphElan
04.28.2013 , 09:15 PM | #3
Chapter 2

They were just getting some chow when it happened.

Prudii ducked as the bomb exploded in the mess, sending corpses of Republic soldiers, people he knew, flying everywhere. He pulled his sidearm and wished profusely for a helmet. Scowling, he leapt behind the cover of an upturned table as a spread of blasterfire peppered the room.

Prudii glanced across the room. Vik and Yuun had kicked over a bench and were crouched down, blasters drawn and ready. Elara was dragging an injured soldier back into the kitchen. Jorgan...

Jorgan was on the ground.

Prudii spat in Mando'a, then raised his head above the table to find targets. There were ten of them, all clad in black and gold armor, and with more pouring in by the minute. Standing, he opened fire. One target, a human, fell instantly, as did a Rodian and a Duros behind him. The other black-armored soldiers saw him and opened fire; Prudii ducked down just in time to avoid having his head blown off.

"Yuun, Vik!" he said. "Flank 'em!"

Yuun holstered his blaster and drew his electrostaff, then began moving through the mess from cover to cover. Vik moved to a better firing position and raised his blaster. Prudii held up his fingers. Three, two...

One.


He stood and fired, killing a Weequay. Vik's shot took out a Gamorrean. The other soldiers were about to turn in their direction when Yuun leapt out and began weaving his way through them, cutting them down quickly. Several other Republic soldiers managed to get to their feet and fire.

And another bomb went off.

The table Prudii was behind went flying, and Prudii felt himself being carried along with it. He tucked his knees up to his chest and slammed back first into the wall. He hit the ground just as the table would have flattened him. It crashed into the wall, splintered, and fell. Prudii rolled aside.

He stood and took a shot, killing another enemy soldier.

Who are they? he wondered. Imperial? Dread Forces? Regulators? No time to think–fight!

He fired at another soldier; a clean headshot. Yuun and Vik had regained their feet and were fighting–Vik now with his vibrosword. Prudii wished for his rifle, but he had to make do. He fired again, killing another black-clad opponent.

The third bomb went off.

Prudii ducked down as shrapnel flew overhead. Another bomb, and another, and another, went off in the room, not giving him a chance to stand. Finally, it was over, and he vaulted over the counter to resume the fight...and they were gone.

"Blast," he muttered. He spoke into his wrist comlink. "Havoc Squad, report in."

"This is Elara. I have a handful of wounded here, can't treat them all. Call for medical assistance immediately."

"Vik here. I'm outside–they're all gone, no sign of 'em."

"Yuun reports no sign as well. Yuun apologizes."

"Nothing to apologize for," Prudii replied. "Dorne? How's Jorgan?"

"Jorgan?" Dorne asked. "Sir...I don't have him here."

Prudii's heart sunk. He looked around the room desperately, fearing that he would see his friend's broken corpse. He did not.

"They took him," Prudii said grimly. "They got Jorgan."

* * *

"Who were they?" General Garza asked.

Prudii felt weary, more weary than he'd ever felt before. Havoc had been on the planet Bilbringi, fighting against anti-Republic separatists, much like Prudii's first assignment on Ord Mantell. It should have been easy; reports indicated the Bilbringi Liberation Force had been meagerly supplied; indeed, many of them wore armor that suggested they'd been purchased off the black market or been given as a show of faith by the Empire.

Prudii knew what the BLF's gear looked like. The black-armored forces that had attacked them had been nowhere close to the BLF. They'd been more efficient, better trained, better geared–everything.

"No idea," Prudii replied. "They fought like a crack special forces team, but they weren't geared like Imperials or Regulators, or even the Dread Forces."

"They could have been Imperials," Garza said, "wearing false uniforms to throw us off. Why else would they kidnap a member of Havoc Squad?"

"There's a reason, I'm sure. But I don't think they were Imps–too many aliens."

"Imperial-hired mercenaries, then."

"No, even they tend to be more human or near-human."

Garza considered. "We're at a dead end, then."

Prudii nodded. "Yes, ma'am."

"And with no clue where Captain Jorgan may be," Yuun agreed grimly.

All in all, it couldn't have gotten much worse.

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YoshiRaphElan
04.29.2013 , 01:02 PM | #4
Chapter 3

Gareb stood on the precipice–literally. Below him, a thousand-foot drop presented itself with deadly indifference. He let out a breath to calm himself, to keep himself balanced. One misstep and he'd fall...and fall, and fall. He sucked in another breath, let it out again.

"There is no emotion..." he said quietly.

He nodded to himself. Yes, this was exactly what he needed. Time alone, to calm himself, to keep his passions at bay. He was generally serene–never once had he stricken a foe in anger or malice, only with dispassion and justice. He had rarely lost his temper. But Methic drew out all his negative feelings. How could his cousin be one of the Sith? Methic himself had admitted to knowing the Sith were wrong, and he wished to change the Empire, yet he remained with them.

Why?

The same reason you remain with the Jedi, he told himself. They took you in when you had nothing.

Specifically, after the Empire had invaded Gareb's homeworld Phaeda, he and Jasin had retreated to Coruscant and been taken in by the Jedi. Methic had been captured by the Sith, but a sympathetic Sith Lord, one of high standing, had adopted Methic as his own son. That was why Methic stayed a Sith–they were there for him when no one else was.

But the man who had adopted Methic had defected to the Jedi shortly after the Second Great Galactic War broke out. Methic had not found out until months later, after Darth Baras had been killed. Though Methic had always been disgusted with the Sith's corruption, his father's defection had cemented his choice to follow the light side.

He finished, "...there is peace."

Gareb looked down. The drop was still the same distance, but it no longer seemed so daunting. In relief, he stepped back onto the grass behind him.

"Back to the Temple," he muttered quietly.

* * *

Dankin crossed his arms and grinned as the spaceport authorities approached. Normally he would've had to do some fast talking to circumvent their attentions, maybe even included a bribe. Not today. Bowdaar and Corso had done exceptional work hiding the cargo. No one would suspect it.

"Name," the captain said.

"Captain Dankin," he replied. "Captain of this fine ship, the Goodvalor."

He used a different alias for his ship in every spaceport, but he'd always had trouble deciding on an actual name for it. Just a few months ago he'd decided on Emerald Talon.

"Goodvalor?" asked the captain. "As in, the Republic hero Benegryph Goodvalor?"

Dankin resisted the urge to laugh. "Benegryph Goodvalor" was no hero. Centuries ago, during the Mandalorian Wars, a conman named Marn Heirogryph had inadvertently saved an entire platoon–or more–of Republic troops when the Mandalorians had attempted to bomb them. His Trandoshan friend, Slyssk, had panicked, picked up Gryph bodily, and boarded a Republic ship and flown it away. Many of the crewmen had been asleep–Gryph and Slyssk had been accidental heroes. However, because of his wanted status, he'd come up with the alias Benegryph Goodvalor. He'd ended up as a war hero, with his own line of restaurants, holovids–even toys. Even today he was considered a hero by and large.

"Yep," Dankin replied.

The captain nodded. "I'm a fan myself. Owned a vintage 'Benegryph In Mandalorian Armor' action figure when I was a kid. Cost my dad a fortune to get, but it was worth it. I still have the think in a blasterproof glass case in my office."

"That's...great." Dankin tried really hard not to laugh. "I've seen all his holovids."

One of the troopers kicked the captain gently in the shin. "Sir."

"Oh, uh, right...cargo?"

"Dantooinian spherefruit," Dankin replied. "Straight to the public markets."

The captain nodded. "Mind if we inspect it?"

"Sure, have at it."

He led them into his ship and to the cargo hold. Corso glanced up and nodded. The ten crates around the room did, in fact, hold spherefruits. The other goods were elsewhere.

"Mind if I taste one?" asked the captain. "Just to be sure."

Dankin pulled out a fruit and tossed it to him. "No charge."

The captain bit into it. When nothing exploded, he nodded. "All right, good. Deliver your goods. You have two days to get offworld or you'll be charged extra."

Dankin nodded. "Got it, no worries. We're not staying long."

As soon as the captain left, Dankin popped open the floor panels and grinned.

"All right," he said. "One hundred rifles to the anti-Imperial insurgents. Unload those spherefruits and get the rifles back in the crates."

"That guy seemed pretty pro-Republic," Corso noted.

Dankin chuckled. "Maybe he's a member of the resistance. Not my business. In any case, let's get this stuff to them and get out of here."

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YoshiRaphElan
04.30.2013 , 07:45 PM | #5
Chapter 4

Jasin stood in the sand-blasted canyon on Geonosis and tried not to fall over. He'd removed all the plates of armor he usually wore to keep him cooler, dressing instead in the traditional browns-and-tans of the Jedi Order. The loose-fitting tunics were ideal for desert work.

Pulling out his GSI macrobinoculars, he zoomed in on the face of the cliff above him. He winced and took a step back as a hot wind nearly knocked him over. He pulled the binocs away from his face, wiped sand away with the back of his glove, and pulled his hood up.

"This is a waste of time," Scourge grumbled. "We should be done here and get back to the fight."

"You really want to fight your Empire?" Jasin asked.

He grunted as the wind smacked him again. Finally he reached into his belt, pulled out a strip of fabric, and wrapped it around his nose and mouth. A sandstorm was coming, and he didn't want to choke to death.

"I want to fight the Emperor," Scourge replied harshly.

"He's dead," Jasin said flatly.

"You don't know that any more than I do," Scourge hissed. "He could still be out there somewhere...I believe he is."

"Sounds to me like you're just getting used to the Republic," Jasin mocked.

"Never." Scourge sneered. "Let's finish here quickly."

Jasin sighed and pulled the binoculars back in front of his eyes. If reports were correct, the ship should have come down somewhere around...

"There!" he said, pointing.

"I see it," Scourge said.

"Kira!" Jasin said into his comlink. "We found it. Have Doc fly the Defender over here. We'll need him to lift us out."

"Roger that, Master," she replied.

Jasin stuffed the comlink in his belt and glanced back at Scourge.

"Ready?" he asked.

"Always."

Scourge leapt and grabbed an outcropping on the canyon wall. Jasin gave a grunt of protest and followed. Scourge climbed swiftly up to the crashed ship and clambered inside. Jasin panted as he reached the top a moment later.

"Scourge?" he called. No answer. "Scourge?"

There was the sound of an igniting lightsaber. Alarmed, Jasin drew his own blade and charged into the ship–which, he realized, was not a small freighter as it had appeared on the outside, but was at least the size of a frigate; the rest of it was just buried inside the mountain. Rounding a corner, he found Scourge face to face with a local masiff beast. The animal growled and leapt at Scourge. Jasin hurled his lightsaber; the blade caught the masiff in the belly and cut it cleanly in half.

"I had it settled," Scourge grumbled.

"I'm sure you did."

Jasin stepped farther into the corridor and glanced around. The furnishings were odd–not Imperial, and certainly not Republic. There were black symbols on each door, in the shape of a stylized star. Jasin entered the first room...

And found corpses.

"The masiffs were here," he observed.

"Indeed."

Jasin knelt by one corpse. It had black armor with the same star design, this time in gold, emblazoned on the chest and shoulders. He frowned. He'd seen this symbol before; he knew he had.

"This is enough," he said. "Let's get back to the Defender."

"And to the war?"

Jasin nodded wearily. "Yes, Scourge. And to the war."

* * *

Darth Nox nodded grimly to himself and pulled out another Dread Seed. He'd recovered the things recently from the clutches of the Dread Masters, and was now using them to great effect. He stepped toward the acolyte chained to the wall.

"No!" the acolyte screamed. "Please, my lord. No, no–no!"

As the seed grew into his neck, Nox stood back and admired his work. The apprentice flailed in agony, tearing the restraints. As he leapt for Nox, Nox blasted him with Force lightning. The seeded acolyte shrieked and fell, dead.

"Well," Nox muttered, "looks like I'll need another test subject."

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YoshiRaphElan
05.01.2013 , 02:16 PM | #6
Chapter 5

Merok pressed his hands together at the small of his back, looking at the holo-image of the SIS Director, Marcus Trant. The man ran a hand through his unruly white hair and sighed.

"I wish you'd brought me this information a few hours ago," Trant said.

"What's wrong, Director?" Merok asked.

"The Republic base on Corellia was attacked by black-armored soldiers, and one of Havoc Squad's members was captured. Supreme Commander Malcom is biting my head off trying to find out who they are."

"You suspect Black Sun?"

Trant nodded. "If this information is accurate, and being from Agent Shan I have no reason to doubt it is, then it is very likely."

"Would you like me to track them down?"

"No," Trant replied with a laugh. "That would take away the pleasure from Havoc Squad."

Merok smiled. "And we wouldn't want to do that."

"No, we wouldn't."

* * *

Jaesa, back turned to Quinn, removed her robe, sliding it down her back to reveal smooth skin barely covered by a two-piece bathing suit. Malavai shuddered imperceptibly and stayed where he was. Jaesa turned and looked back at him.

"Well?" she asked. "What do you think?"

Quinn squeaked. "Ah, lovely."

"Oh, come on," she said. "Take off your uniform! Let's swim!"

He adjusted his collar. "I, uh..."

Jaesa stepped onto him, pressing her chest against his. He blushed. She reached up and unbuckled his collar.

"Come on," she whispered seductively. "Just let your hair down, so to speak."

Suddenly, she shrieked in pain and fell to the ground, clutching her head. Quinn frowned–and, suddenly, found himself screaming, as well. A sonic emitter must've been activated nearby; his brain was about to explode. He reached for his blaster, felt blood pouring from his nose, and feebly got to his knees.

A squad of black-armored troopers came out of the trees. Jaesa reached for her waist, realized she'd removed her lightsaber along with most of her clothes, and gasped when a stun bolt knocked her into the water.

"Jaesa..." groaned Quinn.

He fired in the general direction of his opponents, but he was shaking too much to hit anything other than the ground. He felt a stun bolt hit him, too, and as he went down he felt hands grab his biceps and start dragging him away...

* * *

Jaesa fought the pain and wiped it away with the calming flow of the Force. She swam to the surface of the hot pool and crawled onto the land. They were gone. The black-clad soldiers, Quinn...all of them. She picked up her robe and wrapped it around her suddenly shivering body.

"I'll find you, Quinn," she promised. "But first I've got to get back to Methic."

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YoshiRaphElan
05.02.2013 , 03:40 PM | #7
Chapter 6

Dha slammed his drink down on the table and leaned back in his chair. The smuggler across from him raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.

"So," Dha said, "Hylo Visz?"

Gault and Visz had been partners for a long time before Visz had been gone into a stasis chamber on Belsavis. Gault had eventually found and freed her–she, unfortunately, had been angry to see him and nearly killed him. They had separated on bad terms. However, she finally contacted him and said she'd be willing to pair up with him if he proved he cared more about her than he did himself. Gault had thrown himself into selflessness; he'd even saved the pregnant Mako's life by sacrificing his own–only he hadn't died. He was still in a coma, and his last request was that Dha find Visz and tell her what had happened.

"Don't know," the smuggler, a dark-skinned man, replied. "Rumors float around, you know, but it's not so easy to track down someone of her reputation. Why...you want to take a bounty on her?"

Dha shook his head. "No."

"Good."

Dha glanced down and realized the smuggler had drawn his blaster and had balanced it on his lap, the barrel pointed at Dha's gut. Dha glared frostily at the smuggler and leaned back, balancing his arm on the back of his chair, with the flamethrower pointed at the man's face.

"Talk," Dha said.

"Hylo's in hiding," the man said reluctantly. "It's Black Sun. They've got a score to settle with her."

"Where?" Dha asked.

"Don't know," the man replied with a shrug. "However, I can tell you this: she has hired a couple mercenary bodyguards. Track them down–it'll be easier–and you'll find her."

Dha nodded. "Got it. Know anything about the mercs?"

"Last time I saw 'em, one guy wore this white and blue mishmash armor and a kind of turban. The other guy was a Mandalorian named Jogo."

Dha winced. "I heard of him. Hah! Actually, I've more than heard of him, I've had the displeasure of meeting him." He threw the smuggler a high-denomination credit. "Thanks for the info," he said.

The dark-skinned man turned on the denomination display and his eyes widened.

"Thanks again," Dha said. He pulled out his comlink. "Torian, put out a call to Jogo. Tell him I want a partnership with him."

"Jogo?" Torian asked disdainfully. "Why would you want to partner with him?"

"I don't. But we need to find out where he is."

"All right. I'm on it."

"Thanks. Out."

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YoshiRaphElan
05.03.2013 , 12:57 PM | #8
Chapter 7

"Attention, Defender corvette, you are trespassing on our territory!"

Jasin stormed into the cockpit. Doc was in the pilot's seat, Kira in the copilot's seat, Rusk at the gunnery station, and T7 was amplifying the shields. Scourge entered behind Jasin and leaned in behind Doc to look out the viewport. Jasin took the captain's seat and activated the comm.

"Unidentified ship, this is Jedi Defender corvette," he said. "How can you claim this as your territory?"

"You were seen inside one of our crashed ships. You have trespassed and you will leave immediately!"

"Or?"

"Or we'll blow you out of space."

"You still haven't identified yourself," Jasin said, his voice dangerously soft. "I don't recognize your authority."

"We are Black Sun," the other voice said.

Jasin remembered. Back when he'd first been a Knight, back on Coruscant, "Doctor" Tarnis had been kidnapped by Black Sun. An officer in the syndicate, a man named Zeer, had been waiting at Coruscant spaceport. Jasin had defeated and captured him–and then gone on to find "Doctor" Tarnis in Black Sun's territory on Coruscant, and found out he was a Sith. There Jasin had been forced to kill the leader of Black Sun himself, Overlord Salarr. The syndicate had been floundering since then; or so it had seemed.

"You are criminals," he said. "You have no jurisdiction."

"Master," Kira said softly. "They're launching starfighters."

"T7, shields up?" he asked.

The droid tootled excitedly, confirming.

"Scourge, you find a seat," Jasin said. "You're no good to me dead. Doc, transfer controls to my station."

"Yes, sir."

"Rusk?"

"Sir?"

"Shoot to kill."

The starfighters shot through the sky, lasers flying. Rusk stuttered the turbolasers, spinning them as he fired, and two starfighters went down. The frigate blocking their passage opened fire. The shields rocked, and Jasin winced.

"T7!" he shouted. "Amplify the forward shields, we're plowing through!"

The droid squealed in horror, but complied. A starfighter headed straight for them on a collision course–and suddenly exploded for no reason. Rusk's shots had been going the other way.

"What...?" Jasin asked.

Scourge's eyes were half-closed, and he was shuddering in effort. Jasin realized he had used the Force to squeeze the fuel lines until they exploded. Jasin narrowed his eyes.

"Would you rather have died," Scourge interrupted before Jasin could say anything, "because if so, I can stop helping right now and head for the escape pod. Surely I can find others to ensure the Emperor doesn't return."

Jasin's blood ran cold. It was a side of Scourge he'd never seen before. He nodded.

"All right," he said.

They shot over the frigate, and Jasin unleashed torpedoes as they did. Then he immediately pulled the hyperspace lever. They shot into the swirling blue void as the frigate exploded.

"I think," Jasin observed, "we have a problem."

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YoshiRaphElan
05.04.2013 , 12:01 PM | #9
Chapter 8

Dankin winced as he crawled over the sharp rock. It jabbed into his side, and he rolled over onto his back and rubbed his belly.

"That hurt," he muttered.

"Stop complaining," replied his brother, Backblast.

"Hey, I'm doing this for you," Dankin said. "I'm a smuggler, not a spy!"

"But you are an official privateer in the employ of the Republic," Backblast reminded him. "You have to fulfill the responsibilities that entails."

"Fine, fine," Dankin growled. "Just stop talkin' to me or they'll hear me!"

The Fondor rebels were moving a convoy from one base to another, and Backblast saw it as a chance to find another of the rebels' hidey-holes. Dankin pulled his macrobinoculars up to his face and zoomed in on the convoy. There were guards on all sides, front and back, armed with assault cannons and rocket launchers.

"They see me," Dankin muttered, "and this mesa gets blown away."

"Hey," observed Risha, "look. That symbol looks familiar, doesn't it?"

Dankin zoomed in on the vehicle she pointed out. He frowned. There was a black stylized star stamped on the side of the transport vehicle. He frowned, thinking for a moment–and gasped.

"Black Sun," he said.

She nodded. "Ye–"

Suddenly, Dankin felt a hand grab the back of his collar. He grunted in surprise and whipped out his blaster. But he dropped it when a fist landed in his gut. He wheezed and swung a fist blindly, and then brought his knee straight up between the attacker's legs. There was a grunt of surprise, and Dankin pulled out his offhand blaster. He shot the guy clean in the face.

Risha screeched and fired her rifle-point blank, killing another attacker. Dankin reached down, picked up his other blaster, and threw down an energy shield. He ducked behind it just before a rain of blaster bolts shot overhead. Risha rolled behind a rock next to Dankin and opened fire.

"Backblast!" Dankin snapped. "Hey, you there? I just got attacked by–"

He broke off and shot another attacker in the chest with three bolts. The black-armored opponent dropped. Risha shot two more clean in the head with her rifle.

"Dankin, you okay?" asked Backblast.

"Yeah, fine," Dankin replied. "I think–" he shot one more target, "–that's the last of them."

"Good," Backblast said. "They attacked us here, too, but I don't think they expected to find me. They tried to grab Akaavi and Guss, but we killed them all."

"Why grab anyone?" he asked. "Why not just kill 'em?"

"No clue," Backblast muttered.

"All right, I'm coming back," Dankin said. "Tell Corso to fire up the engines. You might want to get back to your base–we're pulling out."

Backblast sighed in defeat. "All right. We'll find the rebels some other way. Out."

"Out."

* * *

Gareb ignited his lightsaber, turned, and rammed his lightsaber through his enemy's guts. Another enemy swung a vibrosword at the back of Gareb's head. Gareb reached out with the Force and hurled his opponent away. Qyzen slashed another opponent with his techblade and stabbed another.

"Who are they?" Zenith asked.

He blasted one of the black-armored attackers and then pulled out a vibroshiv and slashed another in the throat. Tharan and Iresso were busy evacuating non-combatants from Tython's orbital station while Nadia rallied the Jedi and troopers aboard the station for a counterattack.

"No idea," Gareb muttered.

Nadia brought the forces in at that moment. Within minutes, the black-armored enemies had been cut down. Gareb sighed in relief and sheathed his lightsaber, clipping it to his belt.

"I don't know how I know this," Gareb whispered, "but they were after one of us."

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YoshiRaphElan
05.06.2013 , 10:30 AM | #10
Chapter 9

Methic spun his lightsaber and its blue blade cut through the throat of the assassin. Then he turned and rammed his red-bladed saber into the chest of a second black-clad opponent. Each of them dropped their lightsaber. Methic scowled down at the bodies, squeezing the hilts of his saber.

"Are they the same ones?" he asked.

"No," Jaesa replied. "The ones who got Quinn were in blast armor, and they used rifles, not lightsabers."

"Then who are these beings?" he wondered aloud.

[Blorrp,] suggested Broonmark.

Methic shook his head. "No, the Dread Masters are still reeling at the death of Styrak. They're busy licking their wounds."

"Wish Quinn were here," whispered Jaesa. "He'd have an idea."

Vette frowned. "Whoever these assassins were, they were after Methic, not one of us."

Jaesa nodded. "You're right. Those other attackers would not have hit Quinn and myself if they were after Methic."

"One man I know wants me dead this badly," Methic hissed.

"Who?"

"Darth Nox."

* * *

Nox whirled as Methic entered and reached for his lightsaber. Before he could even draw it off his belt, Methic snapped it in half and threw the remnants across the room. Nox hissed and blasted at him with Force lightning. Methic drew one of his lightsabers, the red one, and blocked the energy into the floor. Nox hissed and threw a cabinet at the Wrath's head.

Methic grunted as the cabinet slammed into him. Nox lifted the cabinet off his rival's body and threw it aside, and then grabbed Methic with the Force and lifted him into the air. Methic tried to break the grip, but Nox threw him against the wall and then dangled him in the air again.

"You're...making a...mistake," Methic growled.

"Am I?" Nox hissed. "No, you're too big a threat to leave alive."

"You...already sent...assassins."

"Did I?" Nox sneered. "No, I would have sent Xalek or Khem, and you'd be dead now."

"Then...who?"

Nox sensed Methic's intent–too late. Methic had been faking the whole time. With a powerful blast of Force energy he broke Nox's hold. He leapt forward, lightsabers ignited, and crossed them over Nox's throat. Nox managed to blast him back a few feet and roll aside just as Methic hurled his blue blade into the ground where Nox had been.

"You'll regret attacking me here," Nox snarled.

Methic sneered and charged at Nox. Nox put up a Force shield just in time, and the lightsaber bounced away from it. Methic grabbed Nox in a Force choke. While Nox was still countering that, Methic blasted him against the wall. Nox grunted and sent wave after wave of Force lightning at Methic. The warrior fell back under the assault, picked up a table with the Force, and threw it at Nox.

Nox stopped it a centimeter from his face and threw it aside, but Methic was on him. Nox pulled a training lightsaber from a rack on the wall and barely blocked Methic's blow, but the warrior's powerful strike knocked the feeble weapon away. The next few moments were very confused, but they ended with a lightsaber centimeters from Nox's throat, and Nox's hand, encased in Force lightning, hovering just over Methic's ear.

"This fight could go on for hours," Methic said, "with neither of us gaining the upper hand. Let me leave, and I won't return."

Nox hissed. "Why should I believe you, Wrath? If you ever find me at a disadvantage you can merely skewer me on your lightsabers. I have no martial skill; my advantage is in the Force."

"You are correct," Methic said. "If it comes down to it, I am confident I can defeat you, but...not in this space. Not in your little laboratory. And neither can you defeat me here."

"Fine," Nox replied with a laugh. "Who am I to kill the Emperor's Wrath, anyway? Go."

Methic did. Nox turned away, back to the experiment table he'd been at before Methic had entered. He waved the holocron before him alive, and the gatekeeper, an image of an ancient Sith, reappeared. Nox returned to his experiments, more determined than before.

Suddenly, Khem and Ashara stormed into the room. Nox turned to look at them.

"Better late than never," he muttered.

"My lord," Ashara said. "They took him. They took Andronikos."

"What? Who did?"

"Men in black, Nox," Khem hissed. "Men in black."