The moment that the imperial shuttle dropped out of hyper space and began it's descent towards the surface of Rishi's moon. The communications suit of the shuttle began to receive a strange burst transmission. A feat near impossible, since the last known inhabitants of this moon were a clone troopers well over a hundred years ago.
"Sir, your orders ?" The Imperial pilot questioned.
Asher rose from his seat in the passenger compartment where he had been meditating. Or rather trying to. His detested space flight, really any flight. It was not the flying itself. Rather, it was the enclosed space. It was a prison cell all over again. Opening the sealed door to the cockpit area. The half-Sephi stepped to inspect the sound. It was a signal or code that made no sense.
"Take us in Lieutenant, find a suitable landing area for our ship and the waiting troop transport." Asher's voice commanded with the mechanized voice of his helmet. The Sith Champion would then return to the passenger area to prepare. Mostly his partner.
At the request of his Master, the half-Sephi had brought with him one of her apprentice. The reasoning for this seemed to be that it would give the Acolyte experience learning from another and Asher experience in teaching. Already she was proving to be a stronger Master then those of his days as a Jedi. The two Sith would find the source of this signal and deal with it. One way or another. The transport carried to men and machines necessary to rebuilt the outpost once established on the moon during the Clone Wars.
"Landing in ten seconds Sir...'s. LZ is three clicks out from the signal" The pilot called back over the shipboard comms. "Understood." Asher replied before looking toward the Firrerroian, "Wodan, yes? Are you ready?"
If Wodan ever got to the point in life that he could design his own ship. It would be thick, soundproof and lacking windows. He hated spaceflight and everything that came with it, so a ship that felt as if he was just sitting in a warm room on solid land rather than the deadly vacuum of space would be perfect. The Acolyte fidgeted as they travelled through the endless void, trying to keep his mind free from the past memories, space travel brought up. A small dagger spun between his fingers, his eyes concentrating on the small flashes of light as he reflected the dim lighting of the passenger compartment.
A small chime signalled that the pilot wanted Asher, the commander of this mission in the cockpit. Wodan was more than happy to have the Champion lead the mission after what had happened previously whilst he led men. Wodan looked up from the spinning dagger as the champion returned to the small compartment they were sharing. Wodan wore armour more fitting a soldier than a Sith, but for him it worked. The flowing robes and skirts of the more traditional Sith didn’t suit the Firrerrian or his outlook on combat. “Yes, Sir.” He responded bluntly, before standing from his seat pocketing the knife. The shuttle shook slightly as it broke through the atmosphere, the winds battering into the sides of the ships colossal wings. The helmet sat on the seat next to him, Wodan slipped it on as the pilot counted down the landing time. The HUD lighting up giving him vital details on the surrounding area and atmosphere.
A soft bump signalled their landing followed by a loud hiss as the hydraulic legs took the weight of the ship from the massive engines. Wodan picked up his spear and blaster pistol as he moved towards the loading ramp. The later becoming a new addition after realising the lack of ranged attacks most Sith had in combat was too big of a hole to cover with flashy force moves and saber work. Stepping off the ship he breathed a silent sigh of relief for once again being on solid ground, before looking over at Asher.
Asher certainly agreed with the Wodan's displeasure of ships, especially smaller sized craft. But now that they were on the ground, he almost missed to ship. Or rather the light of the ship. As the landing zone seemed to be on the dark side of the moon. The entire area was a black as Asher's armor.
"Well, when in doubt." Asher said with a sigh. Then said a tiny incantation to summon the dark side into a small glowing orb or red light. A simple conjuration for a Master of Korriban Magick, like Vex, Asher was amused it worked at all. The half-Sephi was a dark Jedi and a warrior on at best. But he was slowly learning from Vex and even Caer (@LouJoVi ) of all people.
With the orb now lighting the way. The Champion would lead the way across the rocky surface of the valley they now found themselves in. Using an app on his smartpad that allowed him to track the signal the it's location. At least in theory. While they walked, he decided to pick the boy's brain a little.
"So, how goes your training. I heard rumors you lead a squad of troopers recently?" Asher mused. It was purely rumors, the half-Sephi had not had the pleasure yet of meeting Altair, let alone having a discussion with him.
As they stepped into the darkness the Hud in Wodan’s quickly adapted to the low light levels. Though almost as soon as they had the Champion produced a small orb of red Magick. The Firrerrian recognised the use of the more arcane power of the Dark Side from his short training regime with Mistress Vex. It seemed that this arcane ability was quickly passing itself around the lower echelons of Sith society.
Wodan was happy to let Asher lead the way, the Acolyte stood a few steps back from the man as they made their way across the rocky surface of the planet. His HUD struggled with adjusting to the light of the orb and the darkness around as his head scanned from one side to the other. So it was better to keep a little distance from the Champion to give him a better chance of spotting an enemy.
He paused for a moment when Asher brought up his mission to Atravis, causing him to fall a step or two further behind. The horrors of that mission still hung heavy in his mind and if Asher didn’t outrank him he wouldn’t have said a thing about that day. “No rumours, I was part of the task force that attacked Atravis.” He replied, for a split second he was happy to leave it there. But he knew Asher would probably ask more questions if he didn’t give him a little. “We lost a lot of good soldiers that day.” Bitterness and anger were audible even though the helmet modulator as he spoke. “Otherwise my training progresses, the instructors at the academy seem to be happy with me.” If his mood wasn’t already sour from space travel the mention of Atravis definitely soured him.
Asher could feel as much as hear Wodan's response to the half-Sephi's question. And understood the emotions behind it. Having been a little younger than the Firrerrian when the Eternal and his Knights of Ren revealed themselves to the galaxy. The Champion had his own regrets over his few years as a Jedi.
"It gets no easier." He said blunt and cold. "The Jedi teach, to take comfort that the dead return to the force. But it does not ease the pain or the regret." The memory of fellow Jedi being cut down, of his years being locked away flooded Asher's thoughts as he continued. "Never forget them, use them. Let them fuel you for the fight to come, because it's always coming."
A tear slowly fell from Asher's eye, hidden by his helmet. But the half-Sephi quickly shored up the crack in his emotions, and continued. They had a mission, men waiting at the landing zone. The former Jedi continued along the path of least resistance. Following the signal until they came to a sheer rock wall.
The huge wall was not part of the original topography. Rather it was the wall of an impact creator formed many years ago. Whatever was causing signal was coming from the other side of this wall and subsequent hole on the other side.
The pace slowed slightly as the terrain shifted beneath their feet, he eyes the back of the Champion’s skull as he mentioned his time with the Jedi. One of the teachers at the academy had given Wodan some information on Asher’s past which included his previous occupation. But still the thought of the man walking with him once being a member of their philosophical and religious enemies put the Firrerian on edge. “I am sure the families of the dead would rather have the comfort of their loved ones next to them rather than this imaginary void the Jedi preach.” Granted it wasn’t just the Jedi who preached that belief, some Sith agreed with it, along with half the galaxy at large. But he wasn’t one of them.
“Agreed.” He replied to the Champion’s final comment. The dog tags of those that served him n Atravis hung on the wall in his room back on Korriban. A daily reminder of his failure and the souls that now stood behind him as he marched up the ladder of the Sith.
The edge of the crater was enormous, satellite topography had hinted at its size but not until he was up close did Wodan really understand the size of the crater. The signal on Asher’s pad showed they were close. “Up and over then?” He asked.
Asher could easily sense the Firrerian's sudden distrust and unease. Had he not been attacked by one of his fellow Sith the very first time out of prison, he might not care. However, New Alderaan had taught him a valuable lesson. "Yes, they do love to preach," He mused. "Empress Andraste was also a Jedi at one time, did you know that ? Yet she became perhaps the most powerful Sith to ever roam the galaxy."
Like Andraste, Asher had no love of his former order. Especially this new Grandmaster. Who from what he could grasp from her Holonet appearances was edging toward falling herself. As were her rumored Jedi "shadow". The constant battles and losses, both with allies and friends, were surely eroding her faith. In the galaxy if for nothing else.
The half-Sephi returned his mind to the task. "Yes." He said, answering the Acolyte's question. Without another word, the Champion drew the force to him. Augmenting his body to leap three or four times the ability of the average humanoid. Then the former Jedi activated his saber, slamming the blade into the rock wall to hold him. Before slinging himself upward as he deactivated the blade again. He would do this move one more time before making it to the top of the creator.
Asher stood at the top of the ridge line, staring down in awe at the massive ship. Or rather what was left off it. The aft, including the engines and bridge seemed to be mostly intact. While the rest of the old imperial wedge seemed to have disappeared, nose first, into the planet's surface.
The sheer sight of such a crash in such an odd way left the Champion at a loss for wards. How it the force did the ship crash in this way, and what was broadcasting the signal from it.
To be honest he hadn’t known about Andraste’s past, but he could not deny that she had risen to such power. But was that because she was once a Jedi or because she had given herself to the dark? Wodan didn’t have time to dwell on the matter as Asher launched himself into the sky looking to climb the massive crater wall. The Acolyte watched him for a moment before following suit, plunging the blade of his spear into the rock, the alchemy imbued tip easily cutting into the stone each time without damaging the edge.
Reaching the lip of the crater the HUD adjusted to the low light again revealing the core of a destroyed Star Destroyer. The strength of the crash had melted stone and steel into one along the edges, how any systems had survived within the ship was astonishing. “How does it still have power? A crash like this should have destroyed the reactor.” He voiced aloud, more to himself than the Champion beside him.
The HUD gave him nothing on power or heat signatures this far away. But the Firrerrian had a few guesses where best to look. “Bridge or Reactor?” He asked. Once Asher gave his opinion Wodan would begin to make his way down the inside of the crater towards the downed ship.
Asher continued to scan the scene, trying to piece together the reasoning behind this ship being here, let alone crashed here. He wanted to find some symbol of something to tell who's destroyer this might belong to. To allow him some clue as to what era particular ship might belong to and thus who it belong to. But it was far to damaged.
"It's difficult to say. If it is working, it'snot in full working order however, because the signal is still weak." Asher said, reading the app on his smartpad. "The bridge, I want to find the source of this." Answering Wodan's question of direction. Wodan would take the lead, likely wanting to impress or show his need to see this mission down. The half-Sephi quickly following, but something quickly caught his attention.
Movement from under the hull of the ship near the reactor area. Suddenly two largecreatures were rushing on four legs at incredible speed toward the two Sith. Vile spiked topped limbs appearing on their back, difficult to spot in the darkness. The beasts letting out a hiss like growl before the limbs suddenly spat spikes toward Asher and Woden before attempting to flank the Sith.
The Sith Champion activated his crimson blade, slapping the spike away with a simple flick or his wrist. "Interesting." Asher said, perhaps oddly calm toward the Woden. "I do not believe these creatures are native to this moon."
Bridge was the more likely destination, but Wodan still needed the acknowledgement of the senior Sith to calm his soul. Giving the Champion a nod he began sliding his way down the crater, the steep slope covered in loose dirt and dust from the crash making it easily give way under foot.
He was around half-way down when the HUD lit up with movement, the technology a second or so behind the senses of the Champion. The two creatures appeared monstrous and nothing like what Wodan had seen or read about before. They moved with great speed, their sharp claws able to grip into the surface of the crater with ease. As they advanced sharp spikes shot forth from the limbs floating above their heads.
Wodan was able to dodge out of the way of one whilst swinging his spear around, clattering the other to one side. The Acolyte didn’t have time for chit-chat with the Champion, unlike the responsibility of command which weighed heavy on him. Single combat was like a breath of fresh air, allowing the Firrerrian to block out all other distractions. Wodan purposefully allowed himself to slide further down the crater away from Asher, this would hopefully draw the creatures apart or allow one of the Sith to flank if both creatures chose one target.
As he slipped down the side he used the spear to balance himself on the loose surface as he unleashed a barrage of stones the size of fists at the closest creature.
None of this seemed to be going to any kind of plan. This should have been a recon mission to find a noise. This, whatever these were, was something far more complex then the Champion had expected. As was the ship they had appeared from. Why were they here and what were they protecting ?
There would be time for questions later. The half-sephi needed to focus on the task of defeating these creatures. To the fallen Jedi's good fortune, the creatures seemed to be more interested in the Acolyte than the other Sith. Perhaps because his agility and weapon were appearing to be the greater threat.
Both creatures skid to a halt as the Firrerrian slid down and past them. Hucking rocks in their direction. Asher quickly used the distraction to his advantage. Calling on the dark side to augment his body, he gave chase. Running behind and to the right of the right side creature. Then as he got close to the legs, activated his lightsaber to slash across the back legs of the beat.
As the crimson blade took off the right leg and half the left, the abomination left back and right. Tumbling hard before being pitched int he air by the momentum. Asher than reached out to snatch the creature with the force. Gripping it in an invisible hand to slam the beat back down into the rocky surface of the crater.
Wodan came to a stop about fifteen feet further down the crater than where he started. The flying stones had done their first job catching the attention of both of the monstrous creatures, the pair of white beasts charging down the slope behind him. However its second job in dealing any significant damage to the beasts was a complete failure, the barrage of stones only seemingly pissing the creatures off.
From behind the mess of charing limbs he spotted the tell-tale red light of a lightsaber ignite followed by cries of pain. Asher must be dealing with the trailing creature which left the other one to the Acolyte. More vicious spikes spat out of its hovering limbs, Wodan, his body pumping with Adrenaline easily pulled The Force into him, batting aside the spikes with a wave of Force Energy.
Then it was upon him, its long limbs would normally be a match for a blade such as Asher’s but luckily for Wodan this is where the length of his spear came into its own. He jabbed out at the creature, the blade cutting into what could be considered the top shoulder blade, dark green blood flowed from the wound. It screamed out in pain and tried to shoot more of its spikes at him. Wodan rolled to his right to get out of the way, narrowingly missing a slice from its sharpened forelimbs.
The roll had not only moved him out of the way of the sharp barbs. But had also moved him slightly closer so his second strike bit deep into the chest cavity of the creature. The attack seemed to stop the creature reacting for a moment, probably the shear pain paralysing it. With that he withdrew the blade and with a swirling motion brought it down like an axe across the back of the creature's neck. The Sith Alchemic and Magick infused blade cutting as easy as a lightsaber through the creatures skin, muscle, bone and cartilage decaptaing the thing.
The creatures slammed into the rocky ground, once twice, a third time. Before rolled down the crater and nearly to the ship's resting place. The half-sephi quickly closed the distance with the aid of the force until he was nearly atop the pale skinned beast once again. It's two floating limbs quickly snapped and fired off more spikes. Asher batted them away with his blade as if it were a training remote.
Then, Asher lunged forward with a downward strike. Plunging the blade down and through the neck of the creature. Ending it's suffering. Turning to check on the Acolyte's progress, Asher was pleased to catch the final strike of Wodan attack with his own eyes.
"Impressive." He shouted, "I will continue to guard down here. Go and check the bridge, find what ever is causing that signal. Then we will call in the droids." He commanded as he looked around. "Perhaps we can salvage the ship, use the hull and sensor suit as the core of the new outpost."
The creature slumped to the floor twitching slightly as the thick dark green blood oozed out onto the floor. His HUD flashed up that the green goo was not safe to touch with his bare hands. Asher’s shout caught his attention and he pulled his eyes away from the decapitated skull to look at the champion. “Yes Sir.” He replied, before turning away from the death scene and making his way towards the crashed ship.
Their little foray with the alien creatures had pulled them down over half the crater so it took him only a few minutes to reach the ship's shattered hull. It took him longer to find a safe entry point to the ship which didn’t lead him to a dead end. Many of the holes were made up of serrated durasteel which could slice through his suit if he wasn’t careful.
After about ten minutes he found a relatively decent sized hole which would lead him in a roughly straight line towards the main elevator shaft. Stepping through the hull he felt a shiver run down his spine, perhaps more of these creatures would be aboard. Raising his weapon the Acolyte began making his way towards main elevator shaft, hopefully there was enough power in this thing so he wouldn’t have to climb.
Asher stood at the edge of the hull while the the Acolyte made his way inside. Perhaps he should have gone with the Firrerreoian, but the young man had already proven to be of stronger will than the Annfyn, Caer. Besides, he need to trust in himself if he had any doubts after his first real mission.
The Champion did not have much time to dwell on the matter however. The dark side whispered to him, warming him of an unseen danger. Asher once again activated his weapon, and drew the force to him.
The sudden movement of pebbles and small rocks gave life to the dark side's warning. Asher would feel the vibration if the force as well as his boots. It low, distant. But growing his strength as the seconds past. If it was what the half-sephi assumed it to be, and it surely would be. The Champion was about to test his own doubts.
The remainder of the walk to the elevator shaft was uneventful yet nerve racking, every shadow moved in the corner of his eye, sounds echoed constantly through the structure. Out of the three shafts which extended up the neck of the ship, only two seemed to be working. The first of the two however seemed to stop half way up according to the panel. Middle one it was, stepping inside he pressed the top level. His eyes caught the glimpse of something as the doors shut, though what it was he couldn’t be sure.
As the elevator shot through the superstructure, it clattered from side to side, what was once a smooth ride, felt more like a rollercoaster as he reached the top of the ship. The metallic cylinder screamed as it gouged against a piece of metal causing the doors to open only halfway once he reached the bridge.
Ducking through the gap his helmeted eyes scanned from side to side, looking for any signs of life and an origin of the signal that had brought him here. There was no sign of the former, but a half-lit console to the mid right seemed to be the answer to the latter. Wodan made his way across the bridge, not noticing the thing moving behind him.