OOC: While I'm technically making this open, please discuss with me before joining
True to her decision, Darth Andruil had launched The Arbiter with The Pursuer in its nose as soon as they were prepared. The swirls of hyperspace had engulfed her for the last several hours as she tracked her quarry across the galaxy. She had offered no explanation to the helmsman about the nature of their mission or how she had derived the coordinates they were jumping to and the man was wise enough not to question it.
The Empress did not exude an aura of approachability right now. The bridge had been unnaturally chilly since her arrival and there was still murder in her eyes. Eyes that seemed to never break from the swirls of hyperspace, willing their ship to travel more quickly to its destination.
Only as they drew closer did she close her eyes, reaching out into the Shadow to sense the tether that connected her to Emryc. She could feel them reaching an end. It was... close. Her eyes snapped open and she turned to the Captain.
All hands to battle stations, she said. Her hand absently reached down to run gently along her lightsaber hilt as alarm klaxons began to sound. Crews scrambled to their positions, readying for the fight to come. She didn't care if it would be overkill against their target, she would take no risks.
Tractors beams at the ready, she said, eyes turning back to the viewport. Blue collapsed into black with white pinpoints as real space screamed back into existence. She didn't need to look at the sensors on the monitor next to her, she could feel that Emryc was close. Get ready, she let the thought drift from her mind to his, now far closer together than before. A connection of sorts had existed between their minds since those early days on Dathomir so long ago.
Launch the Pursuer and fighters. Disable and detain, not destroy, she said, and the commands went out immediately as the pair of ships went bearing down on the pirates. The Pursuer and the fighters closed in much more quickly, but the looming presence of the Arbiter cast a terrifying silhouette on the stars beyond.
The favors that he had collected throughout his short criminal career had been spent for this moment. With such a high-value target as Emryc, there were bound to be leaks and trails to track, not to mention the fact the sloppy nature of the video that had played across the galaxy about his capture only aiding in that.
As a platform of destruction prepared itself above, a small fleet in its own right of incredibly weaponry, Amon and another, Jaikus, had a different task. They would be a duo in this operation and both of them took a small ship to the outpost that was surrounded and about to be strangled, landing at one of the various docks as they would even be able to see civilians and workers either stare in awe at the sight of the star destroyer or running back to whatever they called home. It made for a relatively easy landing and left them undisturbed.
With both the Sith having used the intel they collected and the new wave that came in from the bounty that had been placed by their Order, the two of them were able to locate the compound with relative ease after they cross-referenced with each other. When the pair would exit from the ship and step down the ramp, Amon would lift his wrist a little as he pulled back his sleeve, checking the time on his watch before he took a glance at Jaikus, "Got a few minutes until the fireworks. Let's go get a view." His voice came out smoothly, both of them knowing what needed to be done. Slipping his sleeve back into place, he would adjust the single strap of his backpack across his chest before turning to head down the spiderweb of roads that birthed from the docks, remaining vigilant as he swept his gaze routinely around them.
Amon led the way with some assistance, a holo in his hand and with directions to the compound. The outpost was a maze but they would eventually wade their way through and discover what they were looking for, a club that was lit up with an assortment of lights. When his grey optics caught the name of the location, he stopped and gave a soft whistle over his shoulder to signal his partner as he put the holo away. "Here we go." The two of them had only met once and on a boat during a sort of getaway trip but if Emryc trusted him, that was plenty enough for the two to get along. At this point, it was both their lives in each other's hands once they entered the building on their own.
Amon would stop at a corner, one that gave the two of them enough cover to not be covered and a safe distance away while offering them a good view of the front. There appeared to be another building connected to the club in the rear, most likely where Emryc was being held. He would turn towards Jaikus slightly, giving the man a light slap on the chest before pointing to the back of the compound, "Wanna bet?" A shrug would follow his words as he slid his sleeve up once more to check the time. "Prepare for the show." His lips tugged into a smirk despite the severity of the situation, finding normalcy in what was about to happen.
Like all spaceports, Kafrene boasted a veritable smorgasbord of galactic villainy, yes as Captain Haskeen swaggered down the main street toward the Bounty Office, he felt like the biggest boss at the ball. His face had been everywhere ever since that rollercoaster kidnapping, there simply wasn't a scumbag who didn't hate him, and want to be him, in equal measure. Such a reputation showed as he walked own the street, his outfit complementing his vicious name, a cruel sword hung on his hip, and he had upgraded his usual singular blaster, for a brace of DL-44s - sure, there was no way he could wield four of them at the same time, but it looked cool; and at the end of the day, that was all that mattered.
Clasped in his right hand, an electro staff would be seen, sometimes catching his cape as it billowed behind him.
Actual Bounty Hunters moved out of his way, doffing hats and muttering under their breath as he stalked toward the office. Slightly behind him, and to his left, the Cantina, featuring Urk at the door, could be seen - in one of its backrooms, Drusk and the President would be found - whilst the Cantina itself boasted a knot of crewmates, armed to the teeth. Behind the bounty office, the Corsair hung in the sky, looking as intimidating as it could muster. It held the rest of the crew, just in case a 'quick exit' was needed.
It seemed as if the scum of Kafrene had come out to play today.
All wanted to see the action go down, all wanted to say to their mates at the next drinking hole, that they had been there when Haskeen got his due. Walking into the Bounty Hunters Hall, Haskeen allowed himself a smirk as the assembled Hunters, some twenty in total, stood up as a mark of respect - it was not every day the man who single-handedly kidnapped the President, and took out a platoon of his guards with nothing but a sword, graced their hall.
They didn't need to know the truth - that only got in the way of the legend.
"I'm here to see the paymaster." he growled, in his most menacing tone, as a heavy-set Houk walked forward, pulled up a grubby looking stool that looked as if it had its own ecosystem, and gestured for him to do the same. Captain Haskeen took a seat, as the Bounty Hunters looked on in bated breath, to see what would happen next. Haskeen put his feet on the table and lit a stim.
"So you have my credits yes? Ten million, unmarked and untraceable."
"Five-Hundred." came the impassive and unimpressed reply.
"Fivehundredmillion!" Haskeen laughed in feigned shock "My boy you are to generous by far. I cannot possibly take such an amount. Let us call it a smooth twenty, shake hands and I'll be on my way."
The broker just sighed. He looked physically deflated.
I could have been a Professor like my brother, but no, you've got to go and drink yourself half to death before the finals. And now here you are, sitting in this dump, negotiating for some President, from some two-bit spacer. By the force I hate my job, I hate Kafrene. Gods, I wish I was a droid, they have it so easy....
Haskeen stared at the silent Houk, who appeared to be lost in thought.
But then he heard it.
Not the "Oh Haskeen, don't stop" kind, more the "Oh why God, why did it have to be me!" kind.
"One moment please." he swung his legs down from the table, and headed outside, to see an aggressively dagger-like ship handing in the heavens, the other side of Kafrene. He looked back at the Corsair and briefly considered legging it - they could be up and out in moments and put his whole sorry mess behind them.
But then he had another thought.
Exit routes? Check.
"Oh well - history to be made my friends." he chuckled, as the Hunters chuckled back. Haskeen stood on the front of a nearby speeder, and drew his sword dramatically, addressing the assembly villains "So great, is the legend of Captain Haskeen, that even the Empire fears us - look to the heavens, and see their fear laid before you! They come looking for fight boys, so I say - let's give them one."
Everyone knew the amount Haskeen had demanded, everyone knew - well 'knew' - he could soon be a rich man.
"A place in my crew, for each one of you scum-rats that takes up arms for Haskeen!" a chorus of cheers rose to meet him "With me lads, let's see what this 'Empire' is made of!" he jabbed his sword forward, and jumped from the speeder with a flourish, stowing his blade and taking up the electro-staff as he did so. Haskeen took up his comlink "Get some of these salty dogs in the sky, counter those fighters if you can." he grabbed a Bounty Hunter who was running, enthusiastically, to find something to kill "Don't run there ou moron, you've got a jetpack. Go up! Take out the fighters!"
"I can't do that!"
"Not with that attitude boy, now-" he slapped the controls on the mans pack sending him spiralling into the air, where he slammed into a wall "Go!" the man landed with a crunch behind him. Haskeen ignored it, his strategic genius would win out, despite the blinding incompetence of the men around him and under his 'command'.
If the Sith had come looking for a fight, the men and women of Kafrene would give them one. His loyal band of Kafrene scum would see them off, thanks only to his great motivational skills,
If the Sith won the fight, it was almost certainly, however, because of the idiocy of the locals.
Of that, and that alone, the Captain was sure.
He eyed the Star Destroyer once more - and then looked back to the Corsair.
There was always plan B.
OOC - As a note, I am away on holiday next week, so my posting will either drop massively or stop completely. I understand Sreeya, Phoenix and Arclight have a plan sorted, however, so please work with them. I should be DM'able on discord for questions, however. I have made it so those joining for cPvP have an entire port to fight, with plenty of exit routes for people looking to duck out.
They had been on Kafrene for a while, drank their fill, enjoyed the views.. one of which Davik couldn't seem to knot out of his mind as he walked the streets with a stupid grin on his face. Captain Haskeen was on his way to claim the ransom, or bounty, or whatever, so Davik had figured that he might as well celebrate his incoming fortune with some of Kafrene's best su'shi. Drussk was a very capable member of their crew who could be expected to hold back the politician if Emryc still had legs enough to try and. The president had done nothing but drink, sing and try to grasp the precise movements of the Catharese love-knot and it showed. Heh, if this was how kidnappings went then Davik wouldn't mind to kidnap someone else again.
He had barely reached the su'shi place when he was startled by an incredibly loud and nearby scream and about a dozen fear-stricken people pointing towards the skies. Davik turned, noticed one of the particularly burly and fearless members of Rav's crew look at the skies with equal amount of horror and fear as the simple pedestrians and that instantly formed a knot in Davik's stomach. Not a good knot, mind you, but a very very bad one.
Looking up and seeing a Sith Star Destroyer was way way worse than he was expecting. What in the heck were the Sith doing attacking Kafrene of all places in such force? Davik shuddered at the thought and immediately regretted not having the catscratch here with him. He had ran a previous Sith blockade in his beloved ship, but in The Corsair it would be a lot harder to slip by those destroyers unnoticed. Thus he was left with the only real option for a man like him.
He yelped, threw his arms up in the air and made a mad dash away from anything that could connect him to any building or person of importance.
Jaikus had promised there would be hell to pay, and the day of reckoning had finally arrived. Thanks to the cross referencing of intel that filtered in, it had not taken the pair of Sith long to locate where Emryc was being held. With the location acquired, their objective now was beyond simple. While the Star Destroyers above provided cover, Amon and Jaikus would storm the compound where Emryc was being held.
He had been largely silent for the entire journey alongside Amon, anger radiating outward through the Force and an unnatural chill hanging in the air around him. A few minutes passed, and the ship came to touch down into the docks - arriving just as the Star Destroyer began to appear in the skies above. Wordlessly, Jaikus walked down the ramp as it extended towards the ground – measured and purposefully steps carrying him forward and closer to their quarry.
The Axxilan had opted to don a new set of armor for the job at hand – a set of dark leather and armorweave, fitted perfectly to his frame. It was an ensemble meant to compliment Jaikus’ preferred style of fighting, one which favored agility and acrobatic movements rather than brute strength. To complete the armor, he donned a new mask to replace the one which had been lost on Telos - fine features shrouded behind a metallic, wraith-like visage.
His head tilted in Amon’s direction when he spoke, regarding the man for a few seconds - the subtle expressions of his face hidden and impossible to decipher. After a moment or two, he gave a simple nod. “Should not be long, now.” His voice was mechanized and robotic by filter within his mask.
The Axxilan followed close behind as they continued down the spiderwebbing roads, allowing the other Sith to lead the way. Despite the fury that still bubbled within, Jaikus appeared perfectly calm on the surface - to the point that he folded his arms neatly against his the small of his back, slender fingers clasped together as he walked. Truth be told, Jaikus did not know Amon well. The pair had only met recently on that boat, and their introductions then had been relatively brief. Still, the interactions between him and Emryc were enough for the Axxilan to recognize Amon as someone that could be trusted in this matter.
Minutes passed as the pair traversed through the maze-like outpost, weaving between the dark alleyways before finally reaching the corner where Amon stopped, taking a moment to survey the compound ahead. When Amon lightly slapped his chest, citrine eyes drifted to the building where Emryc was likely being held.
“He will be well-guarded inside.” It was spoken as something of a warning, but Jaikus did not appear to be perturbed by that fact. Silently, he was hoping he was correct in his assessment. There were a handful of pirates in that Jaikus hoped were still lingering nearby. A few more seconds would pass before the Axxilan spoke again, eyes still facing outward to carefully survey his surroundings.
“There are no cameras.” Jaikus extended an index finger outward, gesturing to the rooftops and corners of various buildings. Kafrene was a hive of scum and villainy, and there was little that occurred within the outpost that anyone wanted to be recorded. It was a fatal flaw that Jaikus and Amon would exploit.
Unlike Amon, there was no smirk present behind that wraith-like visage, but instead Jaikus’ lips hardened into a fine line while he waited, jaw clenched tightly. At one point or another, he unclipped the vibroblade from his hip, rolling the hilt in his fingers.
A few minutes would pass before the screams began to resound across the compound, and a quick glance up towards the sky would reveal the reason. Their signal had come, and Jaikus did not hesitate for a moment more. Rounding the corner where they had been laying in wait, the Axxilan picked up into a sprinted towards the Cantina – gracefully weaving beneath the panicked throng and carving a warpath towards the entrance. The scream of starfighters overhead only added to the chorus of sounds that, the once-calm outpost erupting into chaos. The attack had come entirely unexpected, and gave the defenders no time to prepare – just as had been the plan. Amidst this panic, Amon and Jaikus were merely two more faces in the crowd, allowing them to approach the Cantina unobstructed.
The first real obstacle in their path, of course, was the lumbering man-slab at the door.
For what it was worth, Urk had remained as a sentry at the entrance of the cantina, bravely – or perhaps just stupidly – preventing any unauthorized entry into the building. The man looked as if he was strong enough to bench-press a bantha without breaking a sweat, and yet Jaikus did not break his stride, closing the distance between them at frightening speed. His quick dash was enough to draw the attention of the doorman, recognizing what the Axxilan was about to do.
With a characteristic grunt, the doorman drew back one of its boulder-sized fists and swung as soon as Jaikus was within reach, aiming to end the hostile approach right then and there. The punch carried enough force behind it to kill a Gundark and would've caved in Jaikus' face like a melon, and yet it never made contact with the masked Sith.
With lightning-fast reaction, Jaikus twisted his torso and bent back to the left – the giant fist sailing the air and missing its mark by only mere inches. Immediately identifying his opening, Jaikus brought the hilt of his vibroblade up from his side, refusing to give Urk enough time attempt another swing.
Only then did Jaikus ignite the vibroblade, doing so just as the tip came to rest beneath Urk's chin. The blade sprang to life and glowed ember-red, buzzing bitterly as Jaikus rotated his wrist upward, carving a strike clean through the vast man's skull. Within half a second the blade reappeared into the air above the doorman, leaving a molten channel from the doorman's chin to forehead. He did not even have the opportunity to 'Urk' his last, his body swaying for a few seconds before toppling over to the right with a thunderous crash. Jaikus did not even bother to look down at the corpse, stepping over Urk while his gaze remained fixated on the path in front of him, stepping past the entrance and into the Cantina.
He knew that there would be multiple enemies between the pair and Emryc. And there would be no escape for those who got their way.
The destroyer's scopes didn't pick up their target ship, and Renfry let her blood trail do the rest. She had expected them to still be in the air, but it appeared they were not.
Take the ship down, prepare the guns to fire on anything trying to leave the planet and prepare for ground assault, she said.
She had called Amon and Jaikus (@Altaris@Orbit) with coordinates, and they seemed to piece the last few pieces together on their own. They knew not to look like Sith, which left a certain amount of deniability to the whole operation. But in her heart and soul, Renfry wanted to be down there with them. She wanted to get him out, but that wasn't her role. Responsibility and success came before personal feelings. When had that shift occurred?
She bit the inside of her cheek and took a deep breath as she watched the fighters and corvette begin to fan out. Shuttles launched, carrying ground troops toward the surface as heavy turbolasers altered their firing arcs to cover the ground party that would begin clearing the city piece by piece and calling in ground fire support: an ability the pair of not!Sith operatives (@Altaris@Orbit) would have access to as well through her.
Flashes of laser fire lit up the sky as the Arbiter began to descend adjacent to the strange city. The first of a few modified freighters began to make runs on the Star Destroyer, but bravado only got you so far. Cannon fire bounced off the deflector shields before heavy turbolasers opened up, tearing through the meager shielding of the attacking freighter.
Meanwhile, the first of the ground troopers were reaching the surface. The landing ships opened and soldiers began to pour free, blaster fire opening up in the streets. To their credit, the Empress's visit with General Traivess had paid off. Rather than a measly and disorganized fighting force, they were picking their targets with precision and putting down those who fought back.
The Empire was just cleaning up crime everywhere. The real heroes of the galaxy.
Emryc was still dressed in the same suit he was captured in. He reeked of sweat, alcohol and grime. He had earned himself quite a bit of freedom with the pirates, especially making friends with Captain Rav and Davik. They were now here to collect money with the plan for Emryc to be temporarily tied to a chair as the exchange happened. He gazed ahead blankly, no longer inebriated, with his hands tied behind the chair in cuffs.
His gaze flicked over to Drussk who was on guard duty. The half Sephi exhaled and tilted his head back, gazing at the ceiling. By now, he was sure a ransom was paid and there was outrage across the galaxy. It would be foolish of the pirates to attempt killing him when he was worth so much more alive.
He closed his eyes and that’s when he could sense it. It was a pulse in the Force. It was rage he could almost taste. It was exquisite, as if he were a shark that had picked up that first trace of blood. He inhaled it in, filling his lungs, keeping his eyes closed as the delicious darkness filled him. His pupils dilated and his eyes had a bit more yellow. This all happened without the Trandoshan noticing. Emryc’s keen ears picked up the commotion outside, distant yells and screams filling in the gaps of the story.
After a moment, there was a distinct snap as the half Sephi’s hands came free, a manacle dangling from each wrist. Emryc rose to stand, the Force coiling around Drussk before he realized what happened. The Trandoshan would be slammed down to sit on the chair Emryc was on. The door was closed, there were no cameras. It was just the two of them.
Emryc eyed the Trandoshan for a moment, rolling his shoulders and cracking his knuckles. The Force pressed harshly into him to prevent him from speaking. This man was the only one that had repeatedly landed blows on Emryc’s face. This pirate was the one that took pleasure in scratching his face and taking pictures and releasing them to the galaxy.
“You know,” He said calmly as he reached over for the machete that the Trandoshan had on him, “I really can be a nice guy,” The baritone rolled smoothly as it often did on Holonet. Emryc stepped forth to close the distance, keeping the Force pressed firmly against the pirate’s throat and chest to keep him immobile and quiet.
And then he started working.
“You see,” Emryc spoke as he worked slowly and methodically, “Unlike what your Captain implied, I get plenty of chances to get out and have fun. I do a lot more than just sit behind my desk and shuffle papers. Sometimes I have to get out there and make some examples,” He paused for a moment, tilting his head slightly, “Hmm, slightly uneven, let me fix that,” He leaned forth again. His eyes were gleaming yellow at this point. He could hear the commotion outside getting louder, but he appeared largely unbothered.
Emryc stepped back after a while to admire his handiwork. The half Sephi casually rested the base of the machete against his shoulder, tapping it gently in thought before he decided he wanted to add more. His hand came up to channel the Force once again, the stench of burning flesh soon permeating throughout the room.
“There we go,” Emryc said as he tossed the machete aside after cleaning his prints off. He then stepped forth to take out Drussk’s comlink. He fiddled with it as he spoke, keeping his gaze down.
“I’m not going to kill you for what you did,” The half Seph said calmly, “But I am going to own you. You see, that ransom money you all received - you will be working to pay it back. Just to me. By running jobs I give you. And if you don’t, I will make it so there is no corner in the galaxy you can hide in. Hiding is a luxury I just gave you. Want to see why?”
Emryc grinned as he turned the comlink towards Drussk so he could see himself. He would see his own face with the corners of his mouth cut and carved upwards into a grotesque smile that almost extended to his eyes. The right side of his face sported a burn with the flesh melted off. None of it was lethal, but it was unbearably painful. And still Drussk couldn’t make a single sound with the way the Force was pressed against him. Emryc pointed the camera at Drussk.
Click. Click. Click. He took several pictures in quick succession, replacing the photos of his unconscious and injured self with the new ones of Drussk.
“I will be in touch,” Emryc said as he sent a few of the pictures to a burner comlink. He wiped prints off and slipped the comlink back to Drussk. The half Sephi finished off the choke by pressing further until Drussk finally passed out in the chair and had a temporary reprieve from the pain.
The half Sephi slightly disheveled his hair, loosened up his tie and calmly strode from the room. He didn’t care who arrived in the cantina, he had to play the role of scared politician making an escape.
As the time drew near, he reached toward his collar and pulled up a black mask, the fabric covering the bottom half of his face as it fit on top of his nose securely. An adventure to erase his criminal record had already been done before by him and he didn't want to retread those steps and have his face painted everywhere in the galaxy.
"Figured we both hoped for that," Amon replied softly to him in a monotone voice, his muted grey optics swinging over to take in his mask before being lifted to the sky and the cloud of death that hung over the entire outpost. No oversight from cameras was taken note of by Jaikus and that offered some assurance that they wouldn't have to be clean about this. An agreed upon silence would fall between them after as they readied themselves, Amon pulling out one of his knives, a karambit as he slid his right index finger into the ring. The only sound would be his gloves crinkling as he tightened them.
Screams pierced the air eventually as the whines of fighters soared above but the two were on the move and unable to spectate any longer. Both of them angled toward the door, cutting through the crowd like spears as they pierced through with ease and purpose. Jaikus went after the mountain of meat first, Amon simply striding past the two fighting as he would take two steps at a time until he reached the door and opening it before he stepped through.
When he did, there were two guards that had already been walking towards the door to inspect what had been happening outside before Amon had barged in. They stopped in surprise as they peered at his full black get-up, most likely expecting the mountain, but once they saw the mask, it was too late for them as they attempted to raise their weapons. The disguised Sith moved swiftly and with precision, interrupting that act and spinning the knife in his hand so the blade was at the bottom of his fist as he closed the distance rapidly. His hand would strike upward toward the pirate's head but the knife would be the one to make contact and sink underneath the chin as it easily pierced through the flesh and acted as a hook.
Blood spurted out from the man's mouth like a fountain as his weapon dropped to the floor but Amon pushed the blade in nonetheless, shoving it deeper before yanking the pirate's body directly in front of him to provide cover as he was held up. The second would fire his blaster but simply light up the back of his friend as the Sith waited on the other side. While the initial flurry happened, Amon reached for the blaster out of the leg holster of the man already killed and leaned over slightly before firing into the chest of the second pirate and killing him instantly.
A third behind him rushed over with a yell, a stun-stick in hand as he intended for one on one combat with fury in his face. Amon would yank the knife out from the head of the dead pirate he had been holding up and simply raise his blaster, shooting the Twi'lek in the leg first so he dropped to his knees and then shooting him in the head to finish him off. At that point, Jaikus would be entering and the rest of the bounty hunters and pirates would have already assembled cover further in the cantina before beginning to ready to fire.
Amon would dash towards his own cover, a pillar as he spun so his back would slam against it as a series of blaster bolts came in, shattering random glasses and fritzing the electronic tables. He still acted calmly, both of them have known that they would have been outnumbered, as he dropped the blaster and took off his backpack before dropping it next to his feet. It zipped open with the help of the force and he reached down, pulling out a smoke grenade as he gave a look over to Jaikus, the force slowly building around Amon as his comrade would begin to sense the emotions that had hadn't emanated from him before, the rage hot as lava that coursed through his veins and ignited every fiber within him. What couldn't be seen couldn't be reported and he intended to take that obstacle away.
With a simple toss around the pillar, the grenade fell to the floor but he would flex his fingers to make it slide further and directly toward the bounty hunters with a simple push of the force. Halfway toward them, smoke began to billow out, clouding the room in a fog as they halted their fire for the briefest of moments. It was all the time the two would need. Knowing nothing needed to be said, he slid his knife into his left hand before reaching into his jacket, pulling out the brass knuckles and slipping them onto his right. Amon would spin around the pillar before charging forth into the smoke, unlocking the true nature inside him that had been cultivated since he had been born.
Hours had passed since the height of the partying, and Drussk's mind was finally starting to clear of the alchoholic haze that had clouded it. The Captain had gone off to attempt to collect the bounty on President Thorne's head, leaving Drussk to guard the man. He looked big and tough, but he was nothing that Drussk couldn't take if the man stupidly decided to try to make a play for his freedom. Or so he thought.
Drussk's senses perked at the sudden sound of snapping metal and his eyes found the President just as he rose to his feet. Drussk was about to leap at him when a sudden invisible force curled around his throat like bands of iron. A choked gasp escaped his throat as his hands reached up, trying to pry whatever was wrapped around it off but to no effect. There was nothing there.
Fear shown in the Trandoshan's eyes as he was slammed into the President's now vacant seat. He could only listen in terror as the President launched his speech, showing a completely different man behind the curtain than the statesman that the pirates had been partying with only hours before. No longer did he seem like a drab man who spent his time shackled behind a desk. Drussk could recognize the look in the man's eyes, and it only made him more fearful.
The man was a hunter, like him.
Drussk felt the taste of his own steel as the President set about carving up his face. silver pain cleared what remained of the haze in his brain, fight or flight insisted that he run from this man, but he was stuck where he sat by some invisible force. He felt no relief as the President informed him that he would not kill him, for he sat there, alive, unable to move. Surely he was captured in this moment.
His Jagannath points! His feet beat a rythm on the ground and claws scratched at the duracrete floor as a choked hiss escaped his throat as he watched flames burst to life in the President's hand. The smell of burnt meat and scales filled the room. Pain overwhelmed his senses and he ceased to worry about all the points that the President had sent sliding down the drain. The last many years of hunts, wasted by the man who now permanently scarred him.
The pain remained as the President removed his hand, and Drussk stared in horror as the man showed him his own image in the camera. His beautiful scales had been melted, dripping from his face on one side. His mouth had been carved into a vicious smile that almost met his eyes. The camera snapped repeatedly as the President promised him that he had just given Drussk a luxury, something he wouldn't understand until later. The ransom that was still to be paid to the pirates, Drussk would personally owe him. The President would own Drussk. Those words rang in his head as the pressure against his throat increased.
No. Was this how it would end. His scaled feet slammed against the ground momentarily as his vision began to fade. Was this his death, had the President lied. Would he die captive and pointless, to enter the Scorekeeper's afterlife with not a hunt to his name. Others might have had the presence of mind to realize that many of his victims had likely died this way, panicked and helpless. Not Drussk. All he cared about was his score with the Goddess, and it was those thoughts that followed him into darkness.
Maybe it was when his 'brave' starfighter troop started getting shot out of the sky, or perhaps it was when that fearsome Bounty Hunter that had followed him to battle got blasted to pieces, possibly, it was when he saw the lightsabers and scary Sith people? Rav could not quite recall when everything had officially gone to shit, only that it had.
"Run!" he shouted as if to remind himself of the importance of doing just that.
He skidded around a corner and saw a motley collection of Sith Imperial troopers engaged in a skirmish with some of the locals. Naturally, Captain Haskeen drew his sword, and threw himself into the melee in a whirlwind of blood and carnage.
Well - that's what the stories would say.
The truth was somewhat different. Picking up a potted tree to his right, he hid behind it, and holding the plant adjacent to his body, walked with a comically bad element of stealth down a side alley, placing the plant in the mouth of the alleyway, before sprinting back down the alley, and scaling a drainpipe onto the roof.
Once on top, he spotted a well-trained sniper, in Sith armour, who he placed his foot on the side of, and rolled over the ledge and onto the floor.
"Run!" Captain Haskeen reminded himself, as he ran across the roof, dodging blaster fire from the cadre of troopers on the ground, as he flailed his arms around as a man possessed.
"Run!" he shouted, as he ran toward a clutch of his own men, and stopped in front of one of them, grabbing him by the shirt, and shouting "Run!" into the man's face. The men, ever keen, of course, to obey their Captain, followed his command.
Maybe this was because they too, had noticed the massive Star Destroyer?
Or maybe, it was because they just liked following orders?
None of them really knew, for like Captain Haskeen, they were also, a bit busy running away.
It was pure, unbridled chaos as soon as he stepped out. From the looks of it, he guessed that an entire army had descended on the bounty hunters. He glanced around himself expecting to see Renfry based on the sensations he felt through the Force. It was too risky for the Sith to openly rescue him which left him thinking he needed to find an alternative route out of here. He could see people rushing past him to the exits to the sides.
The half Sephi wasn’t exactly tough to spot, but the complete chaos allowed him some cover. Emryc made a beeline towards an exit, shoving aside anyone that blocked his path. The swelling had gone down slightly in his left eye, but the vision was still a bit blurry. There were still bloodstains on his face and a cut across the side from the repeated blows and claw.
He kept half running and half stumbling from the throbbing headache. Emryc glanced up to make out an individual amidst a throng of hunters. The figure was a whirlwind of motions, and he thought he saw a knife. Emryc was powerful enough in the Force to sense individuals he was close with. The half Sephi abruptly skidded to a halt as he glanced towards the figure, eyes betraying visible surprise.
“Curls?” He called out.
And that was when he felt another presence, a mix of a whirlwind of emotions with the hint of someone familiar. Emryc whipped his head to look, spotting the figure closer. This one shocked him enough to make his jaw drop. He took in sight of the armor, the bloodshed around him, the way he had moved like a dervish. With the same grace he had seen on Tatooine but far more lethal and with icy determination. Emryc could only feebly mutter words as the realization of what was happening hit him. The words vomited out before he could think.
A man of Emryc’s size suddenly standing around during the commotion cost him. His weathered face began to shift towards what was almost becoming a smile as he looked at Jaikus. Right then, a bolt struck him square in the upper back. It was with enough force to make him topple over and land on the ground. Emryc grunted in pain as he slowly scrambled towards a crouch. His shooter was still behind him, a female devaronian leveling her blaster to finish the job by aiming at his head. She wanted to kill him and come back for the body later. She wanted to capitalize on the madness and attempt a claim on the bounty.
Urk fell limply to the ground at the entrance of the cantina, and Jaikus simply stepped across the mound of fat and muscle – wraith-like visage trained forward and only forward. Despite the urgency of the situation, the Axxilan moved at a steady and measured pace – never quite breaking into a sprint as he moved. There was singular purpose behind every step he took, driving him into the thick of danger without even the slightest hesitation or fear.
Citrine’s luminesced behind the metallic mask he wore, eyes filled with chilling, murderous intent. In that moment, there was no measured diplomacy or calculated words. The man that Jaikus was at his core was brushed aside, and in its place was a phantom-like predator. He moved, and a single thought echoed in his mind and pounded with every elevated heartbeat.
Amon had done the job of dispatching the first three guards as he went, their bodies dropping to the floor just as Jaikus strolled into the cantina proper. The initial resistance had been dealt with, leaving only the bounty hunters assembled ahead – blasters trained upon the pair of invading Sith. Citrine eyes flicked to group and then to Amon with split second reaction, following the other man’s example and dashing to his right. Jaikus lunged towards the ground and rolled forward across the cantina floor, ending in a crouched position behind one of the bar counters. Blaster-fire immediately began to pepper the air just above where he took cover, plasma bolts shattering half-empty glasses and punching holes into the walls with a hiss.
Sufficiently pinned down, Jaikus tilted his mask towards Amon, staring at the fellow Sith for a brief moment. For the first time, the Axxilan could feel the fury that boiled within Amon, a molten river that flowed just beneath the surface. An intensity that matched his own. Jaikus stared as the fellow Sith pulled a smoke grenade from his backpack, launching it into the crowd of bounty hunters ahead. As the grenade hissed and began to fill the room with smoke, Jaikus simply gave the man a curt nod.
The biggest obstacle in their path had been eliminated, and he knew they would both capitalize on the opportunity with lethal effect. Without a moment more of delay, Jaikus sprang into action once more.
He spun his body around the counter where he had taken cover, lunging forward like a loaded spring and vanishing into the blinding cloud. The Axxilan moved like a wraith within the thick smoke, his body bent close to the ground, graceful steps carrying him forward with alarming speed – the vibroblade he wielded held in a reverse grip and tucked close to his body. The force built and extended outward around Jaikus, tendrils of dark energy that scoured the emptiness for each and every enemy, their locations soon becoming clear in the Axxilan’s mind.
Jaikus’ first target was a Weequay pirate, the slender humanoid frantically waving his blaster around, attempting to pick out the enemies hidden from sight.
Like a phantom in the shroud of grey, the poor bastard did not even see Jaikus until the Sith was few, lethal steps away. Desperately, the pirate attempted to raise his blaster towards the Axxilan at the last second, but the weapon did not budge. In that moment, the Force extended out from Jaikus’ fingertips, an unnatural weight pressing into the Weequay’s arms and keeping the blaster pointed towards the ground – just long enough for Jaikus to close the rest of the distance. Ruthlessly, Jaikus angled his vibroblade and drove it into the pirate’s chest, piercing through flesh and bone and punching clean through the pirate’s lungs. There was a subtle twisting of Jaikus’ wrist, and the air was filled with the sickening crunch and snap of ribs as the blade rotated a full three hundred and sixty degrees before being yanked free. The pirate dropped to the ground coughing, choking as the lifeblood began to spurt from his mouth, and Jaikus fixated his next target with predatorial instinct.
The second man hadn’t even seen the Axxilan stalking him from behind, the Twi’lek bounty hunter’s squinting into the smoke, blissfully unaware of the phantom that approached. Jaikus never even saw the expression on the bounty hunter’s face as his vibroblade sliced horizontally through the air, gliding like a knife through butter as it passed the length of the twi’lek’s neck. There was a thud as the tentacled head fell and rolled across the floor, and once more Jaikus shifted to his next target, and then the next.
Minutes would pass, and Jaikus continued to contribute to the whirlwind of carnage. The smoke eventually began to dissipate, and the world became clear once more. Panic and chaos had consumed the remaining bounty hunters and they began to realize what happened, making them easy targets as they attempted to flee. Among it all, the Axxilan appeared as a dervish amongst the crowd. The vibroblade in his hands thrummed as it carved through the air, slicing through flesh and bone with with precision, graceful strikes. Minutes would pass, and Jaikus was blind to the world around him – consumed by the fighting and flurry of motion.
The sound of a familiar voice and nickname were the only things that broke his concentration.
Citrine eyes frantically scanned the room until they came to settle upon the figure only a short distance away, the metallic visage fixating on the half-Sephi. His shoulders laxed a bit, and the vibroblade in his hands lowered to his side. It was impossible to see behind the mask, but Jaikus’ face visibly brightened at the sight of Emryc – a newfound sense of relief washing over him. The half-Sephi’s face had been beaten and was stained with blood, but he was alive. He suffered no permanent disfigurement that Jaikus could see, and the Axxilan knew that the wounds he bore now would heal. For the first time since he heard the news of the kidnapping, the hints of a smile began to tug at Jaikus’ lips. He stared at the man in front of him, and he didn’t even sense the woman’s approach. And then a blaster rang out.
Jaikus froze in place, unable to react as the female bounty hunter appeared from the throng, a shot from her weapon causing Emryc to collapse to the ground.
The Devarion woman loomed over the top of the half-Sephi, her blaster pistol pointed directly at the half-Sephi’s bruised face. For the briefest moment, Emryc could see a sinister smile plastered across her lips. It was a smug, satisfied expression – as if the woman was already daydreaming of the credits she would earn for her kill.
The blaster never fired, and that smug smile was gone in an instant.
Her body suddenly seized and froze in place, her muscles twitching desperately but unable to budge. The veins in her arms and neck bulged, as if she strained against an invisible force, while her face contorted and twisted with panic. The smile was gone, and in its place was unbridled fear. Slowly but surely, the blaster in her hands raised. The barrel passed over Emryc and continued upward, her arm bending against her own will until the weapon came to rest beneath her own chin. Her eyes widened with terror, her lips opening just slightly as if to scream, but not a single sound escaped from her.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six.
Six shots rang out in rapid succession, each bolt of yellow plasma piercing through the Devaronian woman’s skull – reappearing in the air above before finally striking the ceiling. Eyes remained frozen with fear, her body held in place for a few more seconds before dropping limp to the floor. To anyone watching, it would appear as if the woman had offed herself before their very eyes. Emryc, though, would’ve been able to feel the energy that radiated out from Jaikus. The subtle movements of his hands that flowed with power and guided the Devaronian like a puppet on his strings.
The woman’s body fell limp to the side, and Jaikus closed the distance between himself and Emryc. Without even thinking, the Axxilan dashed to his side and assumed a defensive posture – vibroblade held in reverse grip and raised close to his chest. Citrine eyes scanned the crowd for the next threat, prepared to spring to action. When it became clear there wasn’t another threat around, his eyes finally turned to the half-Sephi. His voice was low in such a way that only the half-Sephi could hear, a whisper that was mechanized and scrambled by the mask he wore. Somehow, the concern in his tone was still palpable.
Screaming from the sky amidst raining red bolts and armoured soldiers, a cacophony of skirmishes, explosions, and utter madness, black storm clouds had followed the Empress' fleet to Kafrene. Storm Squadron was working aerial overwatch and ground fire support, their specialty.
"Storm Squadron on approach," growled Morgan's voice over Sith channels, as icy calm as he ever was in the seat of a cockpit. More than meditation or lounging it centered him firmly within the eye of the storm. Twelve Starblades flew in formation, sensors running at maximum and sending telemetry to the other forces. Twelve sets of laser cannons targeted enemy fighter craft. The Firrerreo sharply snapped commands to spread out and like a murder of black birds they scattered in wingmate pairs to suppress aerial activity from the pirates.
But Morgan wasn't really calm. Every muscle was tight and ready, a thunderous expression stuck in place behind the flight helmet. Sharp eyes were looking in vain for Emryc's tall figure amongst the crowds. He trusted the half-Sephi's skill and experience. The Force told him he was here but not exactly where, always a difficult man to pinpoint unless Morgan was right next to him.
As his Starblade flew low over the compound Morgan spotted a gathering group on a roof and decided to correct that mistake. "Air-to-ground inbound," Morgan wasn't supposed to join the ground attack or look for Emryc no matter how much he desperately desired to leap down and massacre his way to the half-Sephi, make personally sure he was safe from further harm. Not to mention the other many conflicting feelings along with it.But he could channel his hateful fury into a rope to hang these pirates with.
The Blackbird became an eagle hunting on high, swooping over the compound with roaring engines rather than screeching calls. Cannon fire preceded his fighter soaring above the building Jaikus, Amon, and Emryc were inside, targeting an entirely different building and wiping the top clear of pirates trying to take the high ground against a squad of Sith soldiers.
Dark power from the Force followed in Morgan's wake, grasping windswept and binding a small collection of especially brave bounty hunters rushing toward the building. From out of doors and windows the hunters could be seen scooped off the ground like they'd been yanked by chains tethered to Morgan's fighter. All of them splattered against an adjacent rooftop's edge. Bones snapped like twigs, flesh mangled, limbs ripped free from their former owners and spun in bloodstained arcs through the air.
He banked around for another pass. "Air-to-ground inb-"A spike of vague and distant pain interrupted him, a sensation that reminded him of Denon. Golden eyes whipped around toward the compound with spiking concern. Iron fingers tightening on control sticks with teeth tightly grit. Every nerve demanded Morgan fly from his ship to them. But Morgan knew he needed to do his job properly for the escape to work and couldn't risk breaking Emryc's cover.
Whipping and cutting, a blade in the sky, Morgan thrust onward and engaged in a chaotic dogfight with pirate fighters above the compound.
Drussk awoke with a shudder and a cough. Gasping for breath, the Trandoshan found himself on the floor in front of the chair. Still coughing, he pushed himself up to his knees. His face was on fire, or at least it felt like it, the left side of his face burning with pain. He blinked at the room in front of him, seeing half of the machete that had been used to carve up his face right in front of him.
It was right in front of him, yet he could only see half of it.
Grabbing the sword with his right hand, he found his footing, blindly finding the chair on his left to help push himself to his feet. Waving a hand in front of his face, Drussk confirmed what he had feared upon waking.
That bastard had burned out his eye.
Hissing in rage, Drussk drew his blaster and strode out of the back room to find chaos. He would find the President, and he would kill him. Bounties and debts be damned.
Thoughts of revenge quickly fled Drussk's mind as he entered the main room and witnessed a gruesome series of events play out. Emryc had been shot and the shooter was aiming her blaster at his head. Drussk was tempted to shoot her himself, to stop her from claiming the kill he desired. What happened next however made his cold blood freeze.
She froze, and then slowly jammed the end of her blaster under her chin. Shots rang out as Drussk quietly slipped out the back door. He had seen enough of the Presidents magic for one day. Running half blind down the alleyway behind the compound, Drussk knew he needed to find a way out of the rapidly worsening situation if he wanted to have any chance of regaining his points.