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KNIGHT: Rage of the Morningstar

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RulithBarakis
09.03.2017 , 02:11 AM | #1
Quick Note: This is set within SWTOR, but is an original story taking place outside of the central story arcs of the game itself. There will be some mentions and allusions to the events of the game, but they will not in any way feature heavily in this story.



STAR WARS

KNIGHT: Rage of the Morningstar


| - O - O - O - O - O - O - |


Prelude


Nothingness slowly faded into the taste of blood and ash in his mouth, and then, as if a dam had burst, everything came rushing back in. The screams of the dying rent the air as Imperial artillery pounded their defenses, turning their walkers to rubble and vaporizing multiple people at a time. Dirt covered the fallen soldier where he lay, and he noticed that blood was seeping from a wound to his abdomen, though due to the numbness around the damage the only reason he even realized it was because he saw the deep red himself oozing out on his armor.

His senses were returning to him now, though, enough that he suddenly noticed that if he wanted to survive he had to move. Immediately.

He managed to get a hand underneath him, struggling with all of his strength to shove up and move, just to try and flee. There was no winning this. What few Jedi had accompanied their forces were already either dead or dying, overwhelmed by the fury of the Sith Lords that had led the Imperial strike.

Only a single Master had arrived just a week before, with a small entourage of four Knights accompanying her. Endaria, in the eyes of the Jedi Order, and even most of the Republic, held no importance, but he knew, just like everyone else stationed there, that there was something there, something even those without the Force could feel. The Jedi had arrived too late to investigate, as their sworn enemies had apparently already taken note of what had before been a simple frontier world cradled between Wild Space and Republic territory.

This devastation was the result.

Groaning, straining with the full force of his will to stand up, to move, the young Zabrak was able to get one foot underneath him, and then the other, before finally stumbling forward, noting with some alarm that the blood coming from his wound seemed to increase as he moved. He had no choice, though. He couldn't die here, not with his wife- his two children- waiting for him at home. He ripped off his helmet with one hand and threw it off to the side, the damaged piece of armor serving only to slow him down now. If Arkalen Barakis was anything, he was a man of perseverance.

The ground seemed to shake as another artillery strike hit nearby, and he nearly stumbled. Arkalen realized with a start that he had lost his rifle somewhere behind him, though he also noted with some relief that he still had a pistol holstered on his belt. His breathing came heavily, pantingly, as he struggled onwards, but when he glanced back he saw that the Imperial forces had almost completely broken the last line of Republic defense. He flinched as a massive web of sickly purple lightning webbed accross the battlefield, immediately taking the life of at least fifteen soldiers. The Sith responsible, features hidden within a gray, featureless helmet, marched on, with what could only be called a storm raging around her.

Arkalen forced himself to turn away. If he kept looking, he knew he would give up, despite everything within him screaming against it. There had to be a way to survive. There had to be, for the sake of his family.

Finally, the rest of the Republic's forces seemed to realize that there was no chance of victory, because now the rout well and truly began. First one, then a few, then suddenly dozens of Republic forces were streaming past him, rushing to escape death. Their only hope lay in the small spaceport within Fort Daldemma, the only major facility built since their arrival on Endaria. Of course, the fort's defenses already lay in ruins from the relentless artillery fire of the Empire. The wounded Zabrak had no idea if there would even be any ships remaining by the time he reached the spaceport, but he had to hope, had to believe.

pppPPPHHHHH.

Something struck Arkalen from behind, hitting the back of his left shoulder and sending him crashing to the ground. Pain lanced through his body from the fresh wound, the smell of burnt flesh seeping into his nostrils- the universal sign of plasma reaching the skin. For a moment all he could do was lay there, waves of shock and horror alternatively rolling over him. Hands reached down and rolled him over, and then he found himself being dragged under the arms by another soldier. It took him a few seconds to realize he knew the man.

"Gandrik... ?" he managed to moan, but the other man couldn't respond, too preoccupied with trying to save Arkalen's life. Gandrik had gone through basic training with him. He'd wound up in the same unit afterwards as well, and they'd become what could only be called brothers in the years since. The Zabrak had been horrified nearly two hours before, when he'd been certain that his closest friend had been taken out by a frag grenade. He was certainly grateful to see the Twi'Lek now, though he did note with some alarm that one of his friend's deep green lekku had been blown off, and burn scars covered his face and neck.

"We have to get out of here," Gandrik started growling, a manic frenzy beginning to creep into both his expression and his movements. "We can't die here, Ark. We can't. Not like this. Not like this. Not like this."

He kept repeating that last bit for a good while as he dragged Arkalen along, but he was too weak to even try and calm his friend. If anything, he understood what was happening to him. Hated it, but certainly understood it. Days like today well and truly broke even the hardest of men, and the soldiers of Fort Daldemma, while certainly capable and eager to serve the Republic, were no elite warriors. They fought and served their whole life for the ideals of the Republic, and died with no one to remember them but the grieving families they left behind- yet, without them, the whole galaxy would have already fallen before the might of the Sith Empire.

So even though it was horrible, Arkalen knew that if Gandrik was broken by this, if he made it out alive, he would at least be able to leave this life behind. Usually, it only ended in death.

Suddenly their movement came to a stop, and with a start the Zabrak realized that they had reached the spaceport. He had no idea how long his friend had been pulling him along, but apparently it had been long enough to get to their only chance of escape. Something wasn't right, however. The heavy stench of smoke tipped him off before he even turned his head to look, and a chill of disbelief fell over him.

The spaceport, their only way off of Endaria, had been reduced to a pile of rubble and burning machinery. Gandrik stood staring, like all the other men and women of the Republic who had been running, hoping, in a desperate scramble to escape death. Arkalen knew, though, that they couldn't just sit there. They were like womp rats in a barrel, waiting for the Imps to come in and take them all down while they were too dumbfounded to defend themselves.

"G- Gandrik!" he managed to say, drawing his closest friend's attention away from the burning remains of what had been their only chance of escaping offworld. Gandrik looked down at Arkalen, just long enough for him to see that his eyes had glazed over in complete shock. Then blasterfire struck him straight in the face, and he went down. Suddenly there were horrified screams and mass panic as plasma, both in the form of more blasterfire and the electricity being unleashed by the Sith Lord at this group's head, ripped through the Republic's remaining forces.

A few soldiers managed to get their weapons up in time to try and fight back, but they did little, if anything at all. Brave men and women of the Republic fell all around him, and all Arkalen could do in his weakened state was look on in absolute horror.

Finally, as what he could only describe as a massacre came to an end, there was silence as the Imperial forces began picking their way among the bodies, firing off shots here and there as they came across survivors. Arkalen held his breath and closed his eyes, hoping that somehow, some way, he wouldn't be discovered. Then there was the scuffle of a boot just beside him, and he opened his eyes to look up and see the Sith with the featureless helmet standing over him, violet lightsaber ignited and held at her side.

The woman cocked her head to the side, as if she was considering something, though with her expression hidden behind her helmet he really didn't know.

Then there was a blur, and the last thing Arkalen saw was light.

-------

Three Sith Lords stood in the remains of what the Republic had called Fort Daldemma, examining the results of their assault on Endaria even as they silently contemplated what their next move would be.

"It's here," one of them said, a hulking Iktochi with one of his horns sliced in half and decked out in heavy armor from his neck down. Darth Xuldas, ever eager for power and bloodshed in equal manner, was likely the most outwardly eager of the three when it came to finding that which they had long been searching for. Their search had taken many years, and carried them far and wide across the galaxy, before they had finally narrowed down their search here, to this planet. They'd felt it ever since they'd set foot on its surface, of course, but they had been preoccupied with crushing the Republic's resistance, feeble though it may have been.

Now, they had all the time they could possible want to simply bask in what could only be called an overwhelming ocean of the Force. If that which they had long desired was not here, on Endaria, then where else could it possibly be?

"The question, however, is where," another of the three said, this one a Falleen and garbed in robes that alternated black and crimson. He easily stood as the tallest of them, and one simply had to look in his eyes to see the many years he carried with him. Darth Veltarii had lived a very, very long life indeed, the already lengthy life of his species further enhanced by the power of the Force.

Veltarii was, invariably, their leader, though Xuldas would never admit to it. He was the one who had started the search, before either of his allies had even been born. He had trained both Xuldas and Zyrrha, the third Sith, her features hidden, as ever, within the confines of that featureless steel helmet she wore upon her head. If the other two didn't know better, it would likely seem as if she couldn't even breath.

Zyrrha, for her part, did not respond. She did not often speak, though when she did, she was listened to. While Veltarii was certainly the oldest and wisest of the three, and had initiated the search, he was no longer the strongest. Zyrrha, who the ancient Sith Lord openly declared to be his greatest success, had surpassed him many years ago now. She deferred to the Falleen simply because he was the most knowledgeable on that which had drawn them all across the galaxy for so many years now.

"A woman of few words, as always," Xuldas continued, a slight hint of mockery to his deep, grumbling voice as he spoke. Xuldas never cared who might be stronger than him; anyone who might be able to defeat him only served to further intrigue the battlehungry Sith. Zyrrha, who the Iktochi had never truly been able to figure out, remained the greatest challenge he could think of. The only reason he hadn't tried to kill her yet was because all three of them wanted the same thing.

They wanted to find the Morningstar.

"Cease your childish mockery, Xuldas. The Dark Council will want a report. I leave it to you. You may tell them whatever you wish, as long as it's not the truth," Veltarii hissed. Xuldas turned a dangerous glare on the older man, but that glare was met by the Falleen's piercing, calculating eyes. The Iktochi turned and lashed out with the Force, sending a large pile of rubble flying through the air and nearly crushing several of their own soldiers before marching off to contact the Council.

"Tell me, Zyrrha- is the Morningstar here, on Endaria? I may know more about the Morningstar itself, but you, of the three of us, are the most in tune with the shadowy workings of the Force. Tell me, can you feel it somewhere beneath the surface?" Veltarii said. He was certain, himself, but he was curious to hear what his former apprentice had to say.

Over the years, he had learned that when she had insight, it was always good to listen.

There were several long moments of silence before Zyrhha finally replied, her voice coming out in a metallic hiss.

"It is here. The Morningstar rests on Endaria, deep within the earth. Soon, its limitless power will be ours alone," the woman said. Veltarii cocked his head towards her, eyes narrowing. He had trained Zyrrha, and as such knew that there was weight behind every single thing that she said. Something about the way she had used the word alone made the Falleen uneasy.

Perhaps Zyrrha would need to meet with an accident, before they unearthed what they were here for. True he considered the Sith Sorceress to be his greatest weapon, but she was also unpredictable, and he didn't want unnecessary complications arising when they finally got what they wanted. Her death might be difficult to arrange, but it could certainly be done.

That, however, was a thought for another day.

Now, he simply grinned and basked in the power of the Force there on Endaria. At long last, they had found its resting place. It might still be years before he was able to awaken its power, but that day would come. And when it did, the whole galaxy would tremble in terror before him.

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RulithBarakis
09.05.2017 , 12:58 AM | #2
Episode One


Chapter One

Twenty Years Later


The snow was all that he could see as he pushed onwards, nothing but endless white before him as the furious snowstorm raged on. Of course, Hoth wasn't a wonderful place on the best occasions, but when a storm came it inevitably went from bad to worse. The only reason he was able to continue his trek across the endless snowy landscape was because he had put up a cocoon of Force energy around him, which managed to keep the worst of the flurries from reaching him and also served to protect the two who were accompanying the Jedi.

"Master Barakis!" one of his companions cried, and Rulith paused, green eyes glancing back at the man who had spoken. The older human was panting, obviously not used to the kind of exertion he was currently dealing with. He wore multiple layers of heavy fir coats in an effort to protect himself from the freezing temperatures.

Rulith often forgot some of the struggles those who could not use the Force had to deal with. For his part, the Zabrak was dressed in his regular armor with a dark brown robe over it, relying on the Force to regulate the heat in his body. While the doctor's hair seemed to be partially frozen from the snow, Rulith's own long, brown hair- pulled back in a neat ponytail- did not share the same fate, though the tips of his horns, arranged in three concentric circles atop his head with three longer ones towards the front, appeared to be lightly frosted.

"What is wrong, Doctor Almed?" Rulith replied, raising his voice as the doctor had so that he could be heard and choosing to ignore the fact that he'd already told the man many times that he wasn't a Jedi Master.

"We can't keep up this pace, sir! You might be able to continue pressing on, but we cannot!" Almed continued, his voice trembling with a combination of weariness and irritation.

"Speak for yourself, Doc," Rulith's other companion replied, his voice coming through the filter of his helmet and sounding almost robotic. Kaetor Jehrbrand was a Rattataki mercenary of some renown, having come under the employ of the Doctor several months ago to protect his project there on Hoth. Decked out in armor from head to toe as he was, armor that very likely carried a built in heating system for extreme temperatures such as these, he was likely the least concerned by the cold of the three.

Doctor Almed grumbled something too quietly for Rulith to make out over the noise.

"What?" the Jedi Knight responded.

"He said, 'damned primitives you are'," Kaetor replied, obviously having picked up the doctor's words through his helmet's enhanced auditory systems. Trying to repress the wry grin that fought to assert itself upon his face, Rulith instead turned his attention to a solution for their problem. While they could certainly continue to press on as they were now, if they had to, if they managed to get lost in the storm then it could take much longer than they had supplies for to find their way back to Aurek Base.

Closing his eyes, the Jedi reached out with the Force, searching for a sign of something that could keep them moving in the right direction. With a shock, he felt the presence of the last person he had ever expected to find on this frozen planet. Obviously having felt his search, Rulith felt a tendril of the Force reaching out towards his mind. He opened himself to it, and smiled as he felt the reassuring warmth that only family could bring.

Looks like you got yourself lost out there, eh? a voice said, speaking directly into his mind.

Myriisha! Rulith replied. He could sense his sister's amusement through the ripples it sent along their connection, and almost instinctively rolled his eyes.

You need some help, or do you just want to continue going in circles? she continued, and he just knew that she was grinning as she said it, even though he could only sense her emotions and not see her face. In any case, he was certain they hadn't been going in circles... had they? He groaned as he realized he'd already let Myriisha's playful prodding get to him a bit.

If you could guide me in the right direction, that would be wonderful. But Myr, what are you doing on Hoth? he replied. His curiousity was well and truly picqued now.

I'll tell you in person. Can you feel this? she asked. Almost as soon as his sister finished speaking, Rulith sensed what he could only call a beacon of Force energy. It was as if a spotlight had been turned on in the middle of the night, pointing directly at their destination. Surprisingly, he realized that they hadn't strayed much from their course at all. It would take only another hour or so to reach Aurek.

Hello? With a start, Rulith realized he'd forgotten to respond to Myriisha's question.

Sorry, yes, I can feel it. We should be arriving in about an hour, barring any other complications, he told her. If he could convince the doctor and Kaetor to pick up the pace a little bit, they could possibly arrive a little bit sooner than that, even. However, while he was sure the mercenary wouldn't mind speeding up, he doubted Doctor Almed would be willing- or, as Rulith glanced back at him again as he trudged along, panting heavily, if he was able.

Good. I'll see you soon, then, Rulith. We've got some things to talk about. With that, their mental communications were severed, although there remained a slight connection between them that Rulith knew he or she could use to 'reconnect' their minds, if that was the best way to put it.

Before the Jedi could even say anything to his two companions, Kaetor spoke up again.

"So are you going to share whatever's been making you look like you're in serious need of the refresher for the past few minutes, or am I gonna have to wait to experience it firsthand?" the mercenary asked. Two jabs within only several minutes of each other. Ouch.

"I'll share, though I guarantee you it has nothing to do with needing the refresher. We're about an hour from Aurek Base, if we can keep moving like we are now," Rulith told them. Both the doctor and Kaetor perked up at that, though the mercenary couldn't resist following up.

"Jedi, I can give you about an eighty-five percent guarantee that our arrival back at Aurek will likely involve one of us needing to use the refresher, and since the reclamation system in my armor here takes care of me- and since I'm fairly certain Doc here has relieved himself without even realizing it a few times already- that just leaves you. So can you make it that much longer?"

Rulith just sighed and shook his head, not even bothering to give the man a response. Obviously the Rattataki thought himself to be both a comic as well as a mercenary. It didn't matter; let him amuse himself at their expense. He had other things to worry about.

Like, what would bring his sister halfway across the galaxy so suddenly that she couldn't even contact him ahead of time?

-------

An hour and a half and one very confused icetromper later, Rulith, Kaetor and Doctor Almed arrived at the entrance of Aurek Base. They were a bit disgruntled since they'd had to avoid being trambled by the huge, spooked herbivore. They'd been knocked a little off course in the mad scramble, but it had been over quickly enough that they were able to collect themselves and push on with a delay of only thirty minutes, give or take a few.

The fury of the snowstorm had begun to abate by the time they reached the entrance of the Republic compound, as well, so they were actually able to see it looming ahead of them as they'd drawn closer, adding a fresh energy to their movement.

Rulith reached out with the Force, reopening his connection with Myriisha to let her know that they'd arrived and that he would be able to meet up with her soon. Then, once they were inside and happy within the somewhat warmer interior of Aurek, the Jedi Knight was able to turn his attention back to the end of his mission here on Hoth. He accompanied both Doctor Almed and Kaetor to the shuttle that would carry them back up to the station orbiting Hoth, and from there they would be able to board a ship headed straight to Coruscant.

Almed had to go and present his research, after all.

"Well, Doctor, I'm glad that I was able to assist your work here," Rulith began, coming to a stop a few yards away from the ramp that would take his companions up onto their shuttle. Almed, for his part, paused for a moment before reaching out a hand. Smiling, Rulith shook it.

"I'd say it was a pleasure, Master Jedi, but, well, then I'd be lying," the man proclaimed. Then he turned, held his head high, and marched onto the shuttle without looking back. Rulith just sighed. He couldn't help but be relieved that his time with the scientist was over, no matter how important his research had been for the Republic.

Now Rulith and Kaetor turned and stood for a moment in silence. Then the Rattataki reached up and pulled off his helmet, revealing his scarred features, bald head and pale, deathly white skin. He reached out his arm next, and the Jedi nodded and clasped it. Kaetor grinned at that, and his gaze turned predatory as if he were sizing Rulith up. The man was a warrior, through and through, and now that his job was over he seemed to be trying to decide if the Zabrak would make a worthy opponent.

"I almost want to go with you wherever you head next, Jedi. It's not often I find someone who seems to find as much trouble as you. But my job's not done until I-"

Whatever else he'd been about to say, he didn't have the chance, because that was when the shuttle, with Doctor Almed still onboard, exploded, sending Rulith, Kaetor and all of the various staff and crew in the shuttle bay that happened to be too close, flying. Shrapnel shot everywhere, several small pieces managing to slice a few cuts across Rulith's cheeks before he hit the ground, dazed.

For at least a minute there was no sound but the groans of the wounded and the crackle of the burning shuttle. Then Kaetor spoke up, his voice a croak, from where he lay not too far from Rulith.

"Well, druk."
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RulithBarakis
09.06.2017 , 10:09 PM | #3
Chapter Two


Rulith?! Myriisha's voice in his head was a shout, as she had obviously felt some sort of distress through their mental connection and possibly heard the explosion from wherever she was within Aurek, as well. Groaning, the Jedi pushed himself up from where he lay on the ground, trying to shake off his blurred vision and ringing ears and take in what was happening. Kaetor was a credit to his profession; the mercenary was back on his feet before Rulith, rifle drawn and ready as he surveyed the room, looking for anyone who appeared the least bit suspicious.

The Jedi Knight had a better way to look for whatever- or whoever- was responsible for the explosion. The death of Doctor Almed was bad; while he didn't know what the man had been researching, the Jedi Order and the Republic itself had seemed very invested in keeping the man safe and his research protected. It was far too much of a coincidence for him to die now. Foul play was the only possible reason for the shuttle's destruction. Opening his mind, he reached out to his sister.

I'm okay, Myr, but I need your help. I'm in the Eastern Hangar. Move quickly, he told her. Then he turned his attention to tending to the wounded. No one, aside from Doctor Almed who had been on the shuttle when it exploded, appeared to be dead, though those who had been closest had sustained some bad burns and an assortment of other wounds that were no less unpleasant. Rulith made his way to those who appeared to be in the most pain and gave what help he could, using the Force to heal their more minor injuries and to alleviate their pain until Aurek's medical staff could be with them.

He would have done more, but healing through the Force was not his area of expertise.

After about his fourth person, Kaetor walked up to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. The grip was firm, demanding immediate attention, so he turned around to face the mercenary. The Rattataki's helmet was still gone, likely thrown from his grip because of the explosion, but he didn't look as if he'd been wounded at all. Instead, he looked angry. Very angry.

"Okay, Jedi, I'm gonna have to ask you to help me find the son of a tuk'ata who blew up Doc. No one kills my clients until they've kriffing paid me," the man growled. From the tone of his voice, he obviously wasn't asking. Rulith's eyes narrowed. There was a way to ask for help without making demands, and obviously this man wasn't aware of that. He was inclined to tell him no, and may have if not for the fact that he was already planning to track down whoever was responsible.

The Council and very likely the Senate would want answers, so returning empty handed was not something the Jedi Knight intended to do.

"Listen, Kaetor, I already plan to find the person who did this..." he began, and a predatory smile split the Rattataki's face before Rulith continued, "...and bring them back to Coruscant to face justice."

Now the mercenary's smile became a scowl, and he pulled his hand away from the Jedi's shoulder.

"Oh, he'll 'face justice' alright. I personally like to deliver 'justice' in the form of a blasterbolt to the face, possibly after I've inflicted some pain to make up for the big payday I just lost," Kaetor responded. Rulith sighed. Things could never be simple, could they?

"I understand that you want to deal with this yourself, but-"

"Rulith!"

Startled, the Jedi turned to see Myriisha rapidly approaching, the hilt of her double-bladed lightsaber swinging from where it was hanging on her belt. Rulith grinned, relieved despite the situation he was now involved in. It was always nice to see his sister.

The Togruta embraced him in a quick hug before stepping back and surveying the aftermath of the shuttle explosion for herself. The white markings around her eyes on her darkly-hued purple skin scrunched up as she took it in, and she crossed her arms over her deep brown robes as she thought. There was an odd tinge to her eyes while she was looking at the shuttle's remains, as if she'd almost been expecting something like this to happen.

That weird feeling in the pit of his stomach that he'd felt ever since Myriisha had first contacted him two hours before came back now, and the question he'd been thinking about came back now.

Why was she here?

"Um, who is this?" Kaetor's annoyed question reminded Rulith that the mercenary was still standing there, and likely did not like the fact that Myriisha had just brought a halt to their conversation. His anger still radiated from him in waves. He was out for blood, and that was something that would have to be dealt with sooner or later if they were going to work together to track down whoever was responsible for the death of the doctor.

"This is my sister, Myriisha. Myriisha, this is Kaetor, a mercenary who had been hired to protect the man who was on board the shuttle that exploded here," Rulith explained, turning his answer into an introduction as well. Now a hint of confusion cut through the Rattataki's rage, and he raised a brow as he looked back and forth between the two Jedi.

"Sister? You two are siblings?" he asked. Oh, right. He always forgot to explain that part at first.

"I'm adopted," Myriisha told him, without turning her gaze away from the wreckage. "Nice job protecting your client, by the way," she continued. Rulith mentally smacked her in the back of the head as all of a sudden Kaetor's anger was back and he took a step forward, forcing the Zabrak to place a placating hand against his chest.

"Do you have a problem with the way I do my job?" he snarled. Myriisha turned now, as if she hadn't even realized she'd said something wrong.

"Oh, no, I assure you. You just didn't do it here," she continued. Rulith's eyes narrowed at his sister's biting reply. There was definitely something wrong; she never acted like this. The same question came up in his mind once again, and this time he voiced it aloud, cutting off whatever angry response Kaetor was about to give.

"Myr, not that I'm not glad to see you or anything, but... why are you here?" he asked. She turned her attention fully towards her brother now, and a sigh escaped her lips before she replied.

"Well, I'm here for two reasons. The first was to try and stop this from happening," Myriisha began, pointing her thumb at the remains of the shuttle as she spoke. Rulith and Kaetor were both confused at that. How could she have possibly known who Doctor Almed was, let alone that his life was in danger? "Obviously, that was a failure."

The Zabrak wasn't sure how to respond, so he just let Myriisha continue, glancing over at the mercenary to see if he was going to do the same. Apparently, he was, because he said nothing as Rulith's sister continued.

"The other reason, Rulith, is to recruit you. I need your help, brother. The Order and the Republic need your help, though they can't officially say so," she said. For a moment, he closed his eyes to think. It made sense. While the Jedi Order worked as a single entity, it did have some different divisions within its members. Myriisha happened to serve as one of the Jedi Order's Shadows, who were responsible for covert missions that needed a touch of both the diplomatic skills of a Jedi and the martial expertise of someone who was trained for silent combat with both the Force and a lightsaber.

If she was here in an official capacity, that meant it was actually unofficial.

"What's happening, Myr?" Rulith finally asked. He needed to know more than what she'd already told him. Myriisha glanced from her brother to Kaetor, then back and forth once again.

"If I say anything more, it needs to be in private," she told him. The mercenary immediately scowled.

"Uh-uh, you said you were here partially because of what just happened to my client. You're not cutting me out of this conversation," the Rattataki responded. Casually, her expression changing not at all, Myriisha dropped a hand to the hilt of her lightsaber. Then she smiled.

"Sir, I'm sure you're wonderful at what you do. This is Jedi business, though, and that means I need to speak with my brother. Alone." She didn't outrightly threaten the man, but the threat was there, nonetheless. Obviously Kaetor hadn't been expecting something like that from a Jedi, because he actually took a step back, uncertainty making him put both hands back on his rifle and raise it just a bit from his side, though he didn't actually bring it all the way up yet.

"Myr," Rulith snapped, even as he placed a hand on the top of Kaetor's rifle to ensure it stayed down. "That is not how a member of the Jedi Order behaves. What's wrong with you?"

His words seemed to cut right through his sister, because she immediately removed her hand from her weapon and closed her eyes, taking a deep, steadying breath. Then she opened her eyes again and bowed towards Kaetor.

"I'm sorry. I should not have spoken to you like that. It is unbecoming of a Jedi, and I do not want to come to blows with you," Myriisha told him. Like that, the tension that had gripped the three of them was gone, and Rulith was able to breathe again. That would have been just what everyone else in the hangar needed to see right after a shuttle exploded. As if rumors needed to start going around of Jedi starting fights when they should have been helping those who needed it.

"I meant what I said, though. This is official business," she suddenly continued. Kaetor started to open his mouth to argue, but then she raised a hand to motion for him to wait. "So, if you want to know more, you're going to have to agree to work with us- with discretion- until our mission is done. Is that okay with you?" Myriisha finished. Now Rulith was surprised yet again. It was not often that his sister allowed outsiders to help with her missions for the Order. Things had to be pretty serious for her to be making an exception.

Kaetor seemed to be thinking about it for a moment, but then he shrugged.

"Eh, fine. Seems like you've got the only possible lead to whoever did this, anyways, so helping you will probably help me, too," he replied. At that, Myriisha nodded and motioned for the two of them to follow her.

"Well, then, I suppose it's time I told you what's happening. The others are waiting for us back on my ship, so we should hurry," she told them. Then Myriisha turned and started walking, leaving the two of them with no choice but to follow.

Still, Rulith was even more confused now.

There were others?

--------

By the time they reached Myriisha's ship, Rulith was ready to hear what mission could be so important that his sister had gone halfway across the galaxy to get his help and would force her to accept assistance from people outside of the Jedi Order when she so rarely did. As he reached the top of the boarding ramp leading up onto the Tailwind, he immediately noticed the two people waiting for them further ahead. The ramp led to a door, which in turn led to a staircase that brought them up to the main floor of the ship.

At the top of that staircase stood a woman who seemed to be screaming 'I'M A SOLDIER' in every possible way except literally. Even the way she stood there waiting for them, with her hands behind her back and her posture absolutely perfect, made it clear she had gone through some serious military training.

She wasn't wearing armor, but the letters RCS emblazoned on her chest gave her away as a member of Republic Covert Operations, a joint force made up of members of both the SIS and Republic Special Forces. RCS stood for Republic Courrier Service, one of many fronts the organization utilized for cover. Her hair was short, as if she'd only started growing it out a few months before, yet another sign that she had been in the military. She stood as tall as Rulith himself, her stern dark eyes seeming to look over both of the new arrivals as if she were searching for defects that would effect their usefullness.

Her eyes seemed to grow annoyed as she took in Kaetor, but the Rattataki, never having recovered his helmet and so with his face still uncovered, just grinned up at her, much to the woman's annoyance.

The second person waiting for them there really wasn't a person at all. By far the tallest of all of them, the droid was obviously of Imperial design, all black and red metals with an electric staff across its back and one hand apparently built as a large blaster. Its head was cylindrical, with three large red eyes that were lit up and appeared to be set into rotating bands that allowed it a three-hundred-and-sixty degree field of vision. Its shape was largely humanoid, although it wasn't exactly hard to tell that every inch of this droid had been designed with combat in mind.

"Greetings, Master! It's so good to see you again. Have you brought this Republic scum here for me to obliterate?" the droid asked. Its voice was eerily cheery as it asked its question. Rulith noticed Kaetor's grin change to a slight frown, and saw his hand inch a little closer to the pistol he kept as an alternative to his rifle on his belt.

"I'm afraid not, Kex. Soon, though, I promise you'll have people to vaporize," Myriisha replied. If he didn't know better, Rulith would have thought that the droid seemed disappointed. That wasn't possible, though, was it?

"Everything's in order, ma'am. The Tailwind is ready for takeoff as soon as you give the order," the military woman said, speaking up before the droid could say anything else. Rulith's sister nodded to her, smiling.

"Good. Go ahead and get us out of here, Jana. I need to get these two up to speed," Myriisha told her. The other woman, Jana, snapped a salute and stood at attention.

"Yes, ma'am!" Then she was off towards the cockpit, leaving the rest of them to make their way into the largest room on the ship, which happened to have a huge, round holotable at its center with chairs arranged around it in a circle. The Imperial droid took up the rear, actually leaning against the wall next to the door leading into the room while the other three sat down at the holotable to talk.

"Well, you've met the others, but I'll go ahead and introduce them officially, even though Jana's currently flying the ship," Myriisha said. Even as she spoke, there was a rumble as the Tailwind's engines came to life and they started moving. Kaetor couldn't help the sigh of relief that escaped his lips.

"I'm glad to be off that frozen rock," he muttered under his breath, just loud enough that Rulith was able to hear.

"Jana's full name is Jana Candelli, formerly a member of the elite Republic military force known as Havoc Squad. She was moved to Republic Covert Operations just recently, and while it's a change for her from what she's used to, she's been transitioning very well," the Togruta continued. Rulith's eyes widened at that, and even Kaetor let out an impressed whistle at the mention of Havoc Squad. Havoc was the elite of the elite. If Jana had been a member of that unit, he was certainly glad to have her along for whatever it was that they were doing.

"Oh, how I would love to personally dismember every single member of Havoc Squad! Please, Master, allow me the chance to destroy the Republic dogs?" the droid spoke up. Apparently it really enjoyed destruction and dismemberment.

"We'll have to see, Kex," Myriisha responded, chuckling, before picking up with the introductions again. "Our violence-loving droid there is named KX-5T. He's a reprogrammed Imperial Commando Droid, assigned to this mission to help us navigate their territory when the need arises. I just call him Kex," she finished. Both Rulith and Kaetor turned to look at KX then, and the droid waved at them in return.

"Hello, my new comrades! I very much look forward to eviscerating pathetic Republic insects at your side!" it exclaimed. The two turned away from Kex as quickly as they could, and then there were several moments of silence as no one said anything else. Then Kaetor finally spoke up.

"I'm Kaetor Jerhbrand, since you never asked," he told her, feigning hurt at the fact that she apparently hadn't thought to ask him to introduce himself. Myriisha didn't respond, obviously deep in thought about something. Kaetor's voice took on an edge of actual annoyance at that.

"Now, listen he-"

"We're all in danger, Rulith," Myriisha suddenly declared. Now she had both her brother and Kaetor's attention again, her words obviously concerning for them.

"How so, Myr?" Rulith replied, prompting her to continue after she appeared to be unable to for a moment. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, his sister continued.

"Republic scientists all over the galaxy have been dying off. At first, we thought it was just a coincidence. A strange disease here, an accident in the field there. It all seemed too random for us to even think it might be connected. Then it started happening to Jedi, and we knew that something more was going on. We realized that while we'd been so distracted by all of the killings, we hadn't noticed that other people were simply disappearing, slipping between the cracks while we were focused on dealing with the more noticeable problem. But now a member of the Council is gone, and the rate of deaths and disappearances is going up."

She paused now, reaching forward to activate the holotable. As it turned on, it projected a galaxy map with red and blue lights all over the place, apparently signifying the locations of all of the deaths and disappearances. Rulith realized, horrified, that the number had grown into the hundreds. How had this gone unnoticed for so long?

Almost as if sensing his question, Myriisha continued.

"Now, while whoever did this was using the deaths to distract us, it should not have taken us as long as it did to notice something on this scale. We should have been aware long before this point. But we weren't. That can only mean one thing; whoever is responsible, they have people in the Republic, likely people in powerful stations that are able to filter what information reaches who, and when it does. Normally a much larger task force would have been organized to address an issue of this magnitude, but because there are traitors among us, select members of both the Jedi Council and the Senate have decided to bring together only a single, small group to search the galaxy, discover who is responsible for all that has happened, and to stop it, whatever the culprit's reasoning," she finished.

They sat in silence for several long minutes, giving both Rulith and Kaetor time to process all of that information.

"So," the Rattataki said, "basically, we're supposed to find out who is killing and abducting literally hundreds of people from all across Republic space, track them down, and put a stop to it all?"

Myriisha nodded, and Kaetor laughed.

"The five of us. Just us, with no other help and no leads. You Jedi really are crazy," the mercenary continued, shaking his head in disbelief. Rulith hated to agree with him, but he did. How were they ever going to do this by themselves? Was it even possible?

Myriisha, however, was already starting to speak again.

"Oh, no, we have two more people joining us still," she told them. Kaetor laughed again, throwing his hands up into the air.

"Oh, great! So there will be seven of us searching every inch of the galaxy without a single lead, instead of just five? That should solve everything," he replied.

"The odds may not be in our favor, but as long as I can rid the galaxy of Republic filth along the way, this is a mission worth doing!" KX-5T happily chimed in.

"I warned you. You shouldn't have pushed so much to hear what I had to say," Myriisha told him, growing annoyed. The Rattataki just grinned and shook his head.

"Oh, no, I'm fine with it. It's absolutely kriffing crazy, but that's what makes it fun. I'm looking forward to doing the impossible," he explained. Rulith couldn't help but chuckle at the man now, amazed. Kaetor was certainly a unique individual, if nothing else.

"That's good, then, I... think," Myriisha said, obviously unsure what to make of the mercenary. Then she shook off her confusion and continued. "But another correction still; we do have a lead. As a matter of fact, it takes us to the last two people who will be joining us on our mission."

Rulith gave a sigh of relief, glad for the good news. At least they wouldn't just be starting from nothing.

"That's good. So, where will we be picking up these last two allies of yours, then?" he asked, smiling. The look on his sister's face turned apologetic then, and immediately Rulith had a sinking feeling in his stomach. He wasn't going to like what she was about to say.

"That's what you're not going to like." Reaching out, Myriisha pressed something on the holotable and it immediately brought up an image of the planet that would be their first stop. Rulith closed his eyes, wishing that it was anywhere else in the galaxy, and even Kaetor seemed shocked.

"Kriffing. Crazy," he muttered, amazed.

"We're heading to Belsavis," Myriisha said.
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RulithBarakis
09.09.2017 , 01:18 AM | #4
Quick Author's Note: With this new chapter comes a bit of restructuring (you won't notice it here, but for an example look to Chapter One) as I finalize how I want this story to play out in a logistic sense. I'll be splitting the story up into multi-chapter 'episodes', starting after the Prelude. As things progress, you'll get a better sense for what I mean, but in the mean time- here's Chapter Three!


Chapter Three


Even as they exited hyperspace, Rulith was still having a hard time understanding how Myriisha thought it was a good idea to swoop in and break a prisoner out of one of the, if not the most, dangerous prisons in the galaxy. It was quite literally an entire planet used only to house criminals, and even then it was the worst of the worst. Whoever it was they were breaking out had to have done something pretty bad to get himself imprisoned there. Not to mention, since their mission was technically 'unofficial', both the Jedi Order and the Republic would not be stepping in to defend them from the scrutiny of law enforcement across every planet within Republic Space.

As Kaetor had cheerfully pointed out after they'd learned that particular piece of information, they were about to become 'the most wanted criminals since the Hutts learned how to spend credits.' Rulith wasn't quite sure what that metaphor meant, or if it even really fit, but he didn't care. The Rattataki's point had been made well enough regardless.

Still, he supposed he didn't have a choice now. There was no way he was going to let his sister go off and face whatever had been killing and abducting Jedi and Republic personnel alike all across the galaxy without him. Even if he didn't exactly like their chances of succeeding, he knew that if Myriisha was going to try, he had to help. Beyond that, though, it was his duty as a Jedi Knight to protect the people of the Republic from any danger they might face- and that included whatever or whoever it was they were trying to track down.

"Well, sir, I'd say we've got maybe fifteen minutes starting as soon as I activate the Tailwind's stealth systems before they run out of juice and we're picked up on the scanners of every single ship and land-based security system on and around Belsavis. So I would suggest you get buckled in before I start moving, because I don't know how smooth this is going to be," Jana told him, pulling the Jedi Knight's attention away from the viewport with her words of warning.

"Ah, good idea," he told her, nodding, before taking a seat in one of the other chairs there in the cockpit and strapping in as best he could.

Jana reached out and turned on a com system apparently linked to the whole ship, then spoke into it.

"We're about to begin our descent to the surface. It's going to get a little wild, so everyone strap in," she said, repeating the warning she'd given Rulith for everyone else on board. He was grateful, though, that she'd given him a bit more time to do as she suggested, because this time she didn't wait around. She pulled some sort of lever, and there was a very loud WHHHHIIIIIIRRRRRRRRrrrrrrr as the ship's stealth system engaged and suddenly they were moving.

He was fairly certain he would have been thrown out of the cockpit and possibly knocked unconscious if he hadn't been secured as he was to his chair. Instead, he was simply pushed back against the seat as Tailwind continued to pick up more and more speed, hurtling towards the planet's surface. Closing his eyes, Rulith attempted to enter a meditative state to calm himself, but there was a particularly violent shake as the ship entered the outer edge of the atmosphere and what little concentration he'd managed immediately fell apart.

Instead he had to make do with holding onto the arms of his chair as tightly as he could and trying not to open his mouth, for fear of being sick.

Luckily, their incredibly turbulent descent grew close to its end more quickly than he had thought it would; likely the time had simply flown by because he'd been so focused on trying not to lose his lunch. As they fully entered Belsavis's atmosphere, their flight smoothed out considerably, and as it did so Rulith was finally able to gather his thoughts and draw on the Force to further steady himself. As he did so, he could feel the whirling tempest of Force energy resting beneath the surface of the planet.

It wasn't quite as strong as Tython or Voss, but it was still there. There were hints of the Light, of course, from what he could tell emanating from areas of strong Republic presence, but for the most part the world seemed shrouded in the Dark Side. It made him feel just a bit uneasy as they veered towards a large wooded section of the planet resting between two rather large prison structures. They were a bit of a distance away, but manageable if they had to reach them.

Rulith was just grateful that the ship had managed to remain undetected.

Even as he watched, Jana found a decently sized clearing amongst the trees and brought the Tailwind in for a landing, and the Zabrak let out a sigh of relief despite himself as they finally stopped moving.

"Jana, no offense, but remind me not to let you fly when we aren't in a hurry," Rulith told the soldier. Despite her obviously serious nature, she cracked a smile.

"Hey, I got us down here, and with some time to spare, didn't I?" she asked. The Jedi just shook his head ruefully as he unstrapped himself from his seat and got up. His legs were a bit shaky but overall he was fine. A moment later, there was hurried stomping in the hall leading into the cockpit, and Kaetor marched in, eyes blazing.

"What in the name of the kriffing Force was that?! You call that flying?!" he roared. Apparently, the mercenary hadn't taken Jana's warning seriously enough, because what looked to be a combination of food and, from the smell of it, Corellian ale had spilled all the way down the front of his armor. Rulith cracked a grin and reached out, resting a hand on the man's shoulder.

"You should have listened when she said to strap in," he said.

"I didn't think she meant right that second," the Rattataki growled in response, which only served to further fuel Rulith's amusement. Then a voice called from down the hallway.

"We don't have any time to waste. Let's get moving," said Myriisha. Immediately his amusement was gone, and he remembered where they were and what they were doing. He brought his hands down to feel the familiar weight of his two lightsabers before nodding to himself and moving past the mercenary. He reached the central room with the holotable, which KX-5T had called 'the Hub' after they'd been given the initial rundown of their mission.

Rulith still didn't like the fact that they were going into this almost blind; all they had was a name and a location to meet with the first of the two people that would be joining them. Apparently, they needed this person, who went by the codename 'Helix', in order to reach their other new ally and free him from whichever facility it was that kept him contained. They had far too little details to be anywhere near certain this was safe, but his sister seemed to trust the source of her intel, so for now he just had to be content with that.

Myriisha was already waiting in the Hub, and once Jana and Kaetor had come in behind Rulith, the Togruta spoke up.

"Since this has to be as quick and quiet as possible, only myself, Rulith and Kex will be going to meet our contact. Jana and Kaetor, I need you to stay here and protect the Tailwind. If anyone stumbles across it and no one is here to make sure our presence on Belsavis remains undetected, we could lose our only method of escape. That can't happen," she said. Kaetor immediately opened his mouth to argue, but Rulith turned and shook his head. He understood her logic.

They couldn't leave the ship undefended, and considering that the fastest among them were obviously the two Jedi and the droid built specifically for combat, that meant Jana and Kaetor had to be left behind. While they didn't want to be detected, Rulith also knew that he and his sister didn't want to kill anyone. He trusted Kaetor's loyalty, since he had personal reasons for joining them, but he also understood that the mercenary would have no qualms with killing whoever might stumble across their position. Any people that might find the Tailwind outside of the major prison complexes could only be Republic personnel, and they certainly couldn't start killing the very people they were trying to protect.

"Rulith, I didn't come along just to sit and twiddle my thumbs while the rest of you got to enjoy the action," the Rattataki complained, obviously unhappy with the job he'd been given.

"Look, I understand, but things could go wrong here very quickly. If that happens, we need to be able to make a quick escape. That only happens if this ship remains undiscovered while we're gone. We need the very best here to make sure that's what happens, and you, Kaetor, are the very best," the Jedi told him. That seemed to shut him up immediately. Likely without knowing, the mercenary stood up a bit straighter.

"You're right about that, at least," he mumbled, mollified by Rulith's words.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the wry grin on his sister's face. Apparently she was impressed.

"Jana, you understand your duty?" Myriisha asked the woman. The former special forces soldier glanced ever so slightly in Kaetor's direction, though too subtly for him to have noticed, and nodded.

"Aye, ma'am, I do," she replied.

"Good. I leave the ship in both of your capable hands, then," Myriisha told them. Then she turned and headed for the ramp, obviously meaning for Rulith to follow right away. As both Jedi exited the ship, they found KX already waiting for them. Apparently, Myriisha had sent it outside to make sure that the clearing they'd landed in was secure as soon as they'd touched down.

"Greetings, masters! I regret to inform you there was no sign of the enemy. I wish that I had a few Republic corpses to present you with," the droid declared as soon as it saw them. The two Jedi glanced at eachother. Rulith still had concerns about KX; even if it was just programming, the way it talked about the Republic made him feel uncomfortable. Once again, though, he found himself simply having to accept his sister's judgement. She wouldn't have anyone or anything along with them that she wasn't sure was on their side.

"Well then, shall we get moving?" Myriisha asked. Although it was obviously a rhetorical question, Rulith nodded. He reached out with the Force, drawing energy into his body and, specifically, into his legs.

"Kex, you still have the coordinates I gave you before?" she asked. The droid nodded, its whole upper frame moving a bit as it did.

"Of course, master! I've already crossreferenced them with a map of the planet's surface I downloaded from the Republic Database and have the fastest possible route prepared for us," KX replied.

"Then lead on," Myriisha commanded.

Just like that, they were off, giving Rulith just enough time to think, 'Aren't the files on Belsavis restricted?'

--------

They had been running for three hours straight, trees flying by as they ate up the ground at a pace much faster than the average sentient lifeform thanks to the Force. Rulith was impressed with how quickly KX-5T could move. The Jedi still had to slow themselves down a bit more than they would have liked, but the droid could seriously run. Obviously it had been upgraded since it had been 'acquired' by whichever branch of the Republic had brought it in.

Despite the Force allowing them the strength to keep moving, the Jedi Knight was very grateful when they finally seemed to reach the end of the trees and come within sight of their destination; an old, abandoned security tower built several miles from the nearest working prison facility. It stood in the center of a large, flat plain, likely built where it was to provide a wide range of sight to anyone stationed there. The three of them began to slow down as they neared the tower, until they finally came to a slight jog and then stopped entirely just a few yards from the entrance.

"Masters, please allow me to make sure that the this structure is clear before you enter," KX said. Myriisha gave the droid a nod, and so it trotted off, heading into the tower and giving the siblings a chance to speak, alone, for the first time since their quick mental communication on Hoth. Everything had moved so quickly that they hadn't really had a chance to talk at all, just as brother and sister.

It had been quite a bit of time since they'd last seen eachother; nearly a full year. A lot could happen in a year.

"Myr," Rulith began. As if sensing where her brother was going, she turned and smiled.

"I know. This is the first time we've been alone in... quite a while. It's good to see you, Rulith. Really. And... I'm glad you're here with me," she said.

"I'm glad to be here, too. You know I'll always be here for you, even if that means joining you on some crazy suicide mission," he replied, cracking a grin as he finished. Something about the way she flinched at the jab, though, immediately clued him in that something was wrong.

"What is it, Myr?" Rulith asked.

"Rulith... Master Faelum is missing," she finally whispered, after several long moments of silence. Immediately he grew completely still, disbelieving. Dread fell over him like a wet blanket, and he couldn't shake it off.

"What?" he managed to say.

"It happened three months ago. I wanted to contact you about it immediately, but... it was right when the Council was finally discovering all of this, and it was all kept tightly under wraps. I'm one of the few they kept in the loop, and that's only because I'm a Shadow and I was trained by him," Myriisha explained.

Three months. Faelum had been missing for that long and she hadn't told him? Even though it was obviously something she couldn't have done anything about, it still stung that his sister had kept so huge a secret from him for so long.

"Ryl," she began, using his old childhood nickname; she hadn't called him Ryl in a very long time. "I'm sorry. You know I would have told you right away, if I could have. It was out of my hands. The Council didn't know who to trust, so they decided to keep everything as quiet as they could for as long as possible. I still don't think it was the right move, but when they decided to send a team out into the galaxy to investigate, I did everything I could to convince them to let you join me," Myriisha continued.

No matter what she said, though, and despite his years training to control his emotions, it still hurt.

"I understand why you didn't tell me, Myr. But... he saved us. When Dad died, and Mom lost herself to the spice... We would have died in the gutters of the undercity if Master Faelum hadn't found us. I'm just... I'm just going to need some time to process this," Rulith finally replied. His voice was strained as he turned away.

He knew it wasn't his sister's fault, but he couldn't help it. After they finished up on Belsavis, he would spend some time in meditation. That was usually the only thing that could calm him when his emotions were getting the best of him, as they were now.

Luckily, he was saved from having to discuss the subject anymore as KX stepped out of the security tower, looking dejected once again.

"The structure is secure, masters. Once again, there were no Republic vermin to exterminate," the droid announced. It seemed to notice the tension between Rulith and Myriisha, however, because immediately it stopped moving and cocked its head, as if trying to decipher a riddle.

"Masters, I do not know what it is that troubles you, but I'm afraid I must deliver some bad news," KX continued. Rulith turned at that, wondering what the droid could mean. Apparently Myriisha was wondering too, because the droid had her attention now as well. KX reached out and pointed its blaster-hand into the distance.

"There are vehicles quickly approaching from that direction, and my scanners indicate they belong to Belsavis Security," it continued. Rulith and Myriisha turned and looked at eachother, their conversation forgotten for the moment. This wasn't good. Turning, Myriisha dashed towards the old security tower, with Rulith close behind. Only a few steps inside, however, she came to a halt. Rulith nearly ran into her from behind, but managed to avoid it.

"Why did you stop?!" he asked, confused. Myriisha turned and looked first at him, and then at KX-5T, her face twisted in shock.

"Kex, why didn't you say something about this?" she asked the droid.

"Why, master, because I made sure that the structure was clear of living lifeforms! I will modify my security protocols to make sure I alert you of bodies from now on, if that's what you wish," it responded, obviously perplexed. That was when Rulith realized what his sister was talking about, looking past her to see the body of a Devaronian sprawled out on the ground, his neck broken.

Something inside him knew who it was before he even asked, but he still had to say the words.

"That's Helix, isn't it?" KX-5T stepped around the two Jedi, looking down at the body. After a few moments, the droid spoke up; apparently it had been scanning the alien's face.

"Facial recognition identifies him as Laavus Myrakh, AKA 'Helix', one of several known individuals to use this codename. He is a cyberterrorist with a 5,000,000 credit bounty placed on his head by the Empire, for crimes threatening the Emperor's peace. This does, in fact, appear to be the individual we came here to meet," KX announced.

Rulith groaned. Why couldn't anything ever be easy?

The sound of rumbling engines reminded the Jedi of the rapidly approaching security forces, and so he was forced to pull his attention away from the body and back to the situation at hand. Kaetor's metaphor sprang back into his head then, unbidden. 'The most wanted criminals since the Hutts learned how to spend credits.' It still didn't make a whole lot of sense, but suddenly Rulith understood what the mercenary had meant just a little bit better.
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