Wednesday, August 31, 2011
“Lord Tyranus, you honor us with your presence,” the cloaked figure hissed.
“Things are developing on Dac that will be calling me away, I’m only here to make sure everything is on schedule,” the tall figure replied.
The two figures passed a gigantic window overlooking a sea of stars above the blue green orb of Belderone. Docked in tandem with the orbiting construction facility was a massive warship larger than any the Confederacy had employed before.
“We are having trouble locating the signal. There appears to be some sort of shielding blocking scans so we are sending search teams on foot. It’s possible that the radiation leaks from the cracked core is creating the interference. We need more droids.”
“Shielding does not concern me, I want that ship,” Tyranus commanded flatly.
“What’s so important what was she carrying?” the hooded figure hissed.
“There is an artifact on board that is important to the Sith. It contains technical readouts and specifications. When the data is analyzed it will unlock the key to an ancient weapon that can lay waste to any star system.”
The figure paused.
“You are referring to Naga Sadow’s lost ship. . . ?“
“That is not your concern. Your only goal is to find that ship and deliver the crystals.
“There have been . . . complications . . .in our mutagenics project. Only a mutant strain of local specimens would be able to build up a tolerance of the irradiated areas to gain access to the ship and search for this artifact. We have been unable to adapt the droids to the radiation, so this was our only option. But we have lost contact with the project facility, some sort of local interference.”
“I suggest you solve this delay by any means necessary. Lord Sidious wants a tour once the core is online.”
“Lord Sidious is coming here?”
“Yes, and he is displeased with your apparent lack of progress.”
The cloaked figure bowed, “We shall double our efforts.”
“I hope so, Lady Salacious, for your sake.”
Lord Tyranus strode forward into the dark recesses of the station. The cloaked figure whirled and made her way back to the central command center.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
The Illyrian's voice sounded tinny over the com's tiny speaker. "Aye, Captain."
"And keep an ear to the Holonet passive feed. Let me know if you hear anything important."
"Will do, Captain...but won't the droids be able to detect that?"
Paz sighed. "No, no. Use Shre'ka's bracelet thing to contact me."
"Oh, right! Gotcha! Will do!"
Shaking her head and smiling, Paz joined the new arrivals. "Anna mawe," she said.
Shre'ka beamed. Mrrowl smiled. "Anna mawe," the two felinoids responded.
The Mon Cal looked to EZ who was instructing two of his troopers to head off in AT-RTs on a recon mission. "What's up today?"
"I was thinking we really need to camouflage the IG-88s we've placed in a 300 yard circular perimeter around the outskirts of the Ra'van'ti's village," he replied. "Want to lend a hand?"
Paz nodded and the group headed out.
The sun hung low in the afternoon sky by the time the group had finished their work. The two scout troopers had not yet returned and EZ was growing anxious. Trying to allay his concerns, Shre'ka searched with Sa'uuk to sense their presence, but was unable to detect them. Backing her ears, she reluctantly informed EZ of her discovery.
The trooper wasted no time. Gathering up equipment, he, Paz, and Mrrowl set out on foot. Shre'ka called her sa'naku and joined them, flying overhead. The group made their way through the dense jungle, searching for the missing troopers. They discovered the AT-RTs parked and left behind some heavy shrubbery, but no troopers when a patrol of three battle droids riding STAPs came upon EZ, Paz and Mrrowl and attacked.
The Togorian roared, charging toward the patrol, his vibroaxe prepared to swing. EZ and Paz weren't quite as quick. Bunched together, the droids opened fire on them with their weapons catching the Mon Cal and the clone in a deadly barrage. Shre'ka coaxed her sa'naku to dive down upon one of the battle droids. Grasping one of the droids in both of its powerful talons, the fearsome creature ripped the droid asunder as Mrrowl swung his axe down upon one of its companions. EZ and Paz return fire upon the third droid and just as swiftly as it had begun, the fight ends.
Paz slices into one of the droid's memroy banks and discovers locations of several Separatist outposts. Looking at the schematic of the outposts' positions, Shre'ka hisses in alarm. "They seem to be surrounding the area containing The Cave of the Ancients!"
Mrrowl growled low.
"That's not all," Paz warns. She points to another diagram on her datapad. "Look here. The Separatists have formed a blockade around Sorn 5. No one's getting in or out of here easily."
"Why would they want to do that?" EZ asked.
"That's what we should probably find out," Paz replied. "The Republic needs to be warned about this, but if we send a message they're bound to detect it."
"Perhaps not," Shre'ka said. "I could contact Jedi Ahsoka Tano with Sa'uuk if she is not too far away and let her know what we have discovered here. And the tribes should be warned as well. The Cave of the Ancients is sacred. It holds the history of The People."
Heading north, the worried group finds the missing troopers who have been killed in a fierce fight. They also encounter and are attacked by another STAP patrol. The group no sooner defeats them than Shre'ka senses a disturbance in Sa'uuk. Animals appear to be fleeing the area. The group makes their way forward, but shift to one side in a flanking maneuver trying to discover what is wrong. Soon they have their answer. Several crab droids and super battle droids are moving through the undergrowth from the east, heading toward the Ra'van'ti village.
The group attacks, managing to destroy the droids and Paz slices into them to gather more information regarding their numbers and orders.
"We need a plan," EZ said as they returned to the village with the clone’s fallen comrades. "We need to find out about these outposts." He turned to Shre'ka. "Perhaps you or one of your people could scout one of them out. The droids don't seem to consider the indigenous population a threat."
Mrrowl grinned at Shre'ka as her ears flipped back, gesturing to the waiting sa'naku. "Want to take a ride?" he asked. Shre'ka smiled, nodding.
While the group gets some rest overnight, Shre'ka, using Sa'uuk, sends a warning to the surrounding tribes' Sa'uuk Mo'ats as best she can. Most seem to heed her warning, but one or two possibly do not take her warning to heart. She is merely a Sa'uuk Ro'at after all. Shre'ka also uses Sa'uuk to contact Jedi Ashoka Tano and informs her of the situation as clearly as she is able.
Early the next morning, Shre’ka and Mrrowl head north on the sa'naku to scout out the outpost in that area. Having given EZ a bracelet with tiny crystals similar to the ones she gave, Sparg, Paz and Mrrowl, Shre'ka uses Sa'uuk to show EZ what she sees as she and her mate pass over the small droid base.
They observe the outpost is comprised of a command center surrounded by a bunker wall mounted with blaster cannons at various intervals. Beside the command post structure is a power generator and a communications array. Several crab droids and mega droids patrol the outer wall. There appear to be three shifts of droid groups with two actively patrolling at all times while one recharges.
The two return in the evening, having had no trouble from the droids. The group discusses plans to take control of the outpost late into the evening and come up with an unusual one.
The next day, after traveling to the northern base, Shre'ka and Mrrowl approach the outpost with an "offering" of a crystal from the Cave. A patrol of battle droids level blaster guns at them, then take them before the tactical droid in charge. Walking inside the outpost's perimeter wall, Shre'ka uses Sa'uuk to drain the power from their generator.
The droids look around, confused, as Mrrowl and Shre'ka do their best to look on innocently. "What happened?" one of the battle droids asked.
"We appear to have lost power," another replied, scratching its metal-cased head.
"I can see that!" the other responded. "You better alert the Commander. And take these two natives inside."
Escorted by the droids, Mrrowl and Shre'ka enter the command post. One of the battle droids with them makes its report to the tactical droid before it turns to them.
"Why are you here?"
Shre'ka fought to keep from flattening her ears. I could ask you the same, metal man, she thought. Instead she held out a blue crystal in her palm and tried to look as friendly and harmless as possible. "Anna mawe," she told the droid. "We come to bring the leader of the metal Sky People a gift."
The tactical droid took the crystal in its hand, gazing at it intently. After a moment it looked up. "Where did you get this?"
Shre'ka smiled, taking comfort in the certainty Mrrowl was subtly noting the placement and status of every droid in the room. "I do not know myself, but if you would like to know where more are, we can return to our village and bring back a guide for you."
The droid considers them a moment, then nods, waving them to the door. "Very well. You may go. Return with this guide as soon as possible."
Mrrowl and Shre'ka depart the outpost and make their way into the jungle perimeter to rejoin the group and the attack begins. With the blaster turrets out of commission, EZ and his troopers act as snipers to take out the droids guarding the perimeter wall. Paz and her bodyguard of two IG-88 droids help fight crab droids that are also protecting the outpost before joining Mrrowl and Shre'ka who fight their way inside the outpost where the droids have amazingly managed to get power back. Shre'ka calls upon Sa'uuk once more and is able to drain the power again as they manually break into the command center and take control of the outpost.
Shre'ka holds out her paw to the tactical droid. "I'm sorry," she tells it. "I'm afraid, I need to get my crystal back." The droid complies; handing over the crystal, but still puts up a fight, pulling a blaster. Mrrowl quickly brings his vibroaxe down upon it.
"Careful of its head!" Paz warns and Mrrowl manages not to damage the important component.
The Mon Cal captain manages to discover information regarding a mining operation near the Cave of the Ancients that is nearly operational or is operational as well as various other locations that have yet to be brought online.
"Not sure what they're up to here, but I think they mean business," Paz mutters as she studies the information.
"Looks like we need to scout the mining operation near the Cave," Mrrowl growls and the others nod ascent.
to be continued...
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Sorn V quietly orbited her mother as she had done for eons and millennia unaware she was the object of such a disturbance in the Force. The tiny band of lifeforms that huddled in her sheltering boles near their dying fire dozed blissfully under the growing menace high above them. Her emanations had now attracted a small cluster of unliving intruders circling her as an unwanted halo of mites ever seeking a fleeting taste of nectar for their parched wings.
Hanging in low orbit over the green blue globe was a collection of disc shaped objects, their torus silhouettes casting a menacing cloud over the serene coolness of the moon. These objects were then joined by other elongated shapes that completed a distinct formation. The Confederation forces maneuvered their blockade into a tight defensive position.
Aboard the command ship, the buzzing of mechanical servos, rasping of electronic static, and thrum of the power core drown out the imperceptible breath of the sole living passenger on board.
TS-429 approached the console where Tikkes sat at the holonet receiver. The blue projection of a cloaked figure hovered over the console and dwarfed the former Senator whose tentacles twitched nervously.
The projected image was lithe, feminine, and robed in black. A deep hood obscured its features but a gravelly female voice issued forth, "Count Dooku sends his regards, Tikkes. Events on Dac have escalated and now we seek your presence there for a conclave of Confederacy sympathizers."
"All is well then, Mistress?" the Quarren's tiny beak within his tentacles clicked.
"For the moment. We will need to proceed at Sorn V without the initial shipment. According to the Kaminoans, it will be some time before their research is complete and the initial specimens will be ready to work."
Tikkes leaned forward, "How will that possible without the specimens?"
The figure in the projection gestured casually, "You are to send a contingent of Quarren to Sorn V to begin mining operations at once."
"I will send a contingent of Quarren to Sorn V to begin mining operations at once," he echoed the acknowledgement.
"Good," the voice grated. "Once they have been dispatched you will meet Count Dooku on Dac."
"I will meet with Count Dooku on Dac."
The image abruptly vanished and the Quarren nodded to TS-429, "Prepare the ships to leave immediately!"
The tactical droid responded in a flat mechanical tone, "Do you wish for me to accompany you to your rendezvous at the homeworld?"
"No, I need for you to personally handle the enforcement of the mining operation on the Cathar world here. It is imperative that the initial mineral shipments arrive on schedule."
"As you wish"
The tactical droid clattered off to begin deploying his troops.
Hra’tan collapsed awkwardly on his palette of soft furs and leathers within the makeshift tent he shared with Dan’oa. He attempted to stifle a grunt as his bruised ribs reminded him of the night’s parlay with Mrrowl.
“Is there anything I can do to comfort you, dearest mri’te?” she purred as she tried to help him
“No, I just need rest.” He rolled to his good side in an attempt to relieve any pressure on his injured ribs and dozed. His mind clouded over from the masul, a fitful sleep soon took him.
Eyes in the darkness.
White, milky orbs floating in a sea of black drifted toward him, their deathly cataract-clouded pupil slits stabbed into the darkest parts of his soul.
The voice, a rasping whisper, grated in his mind’s ears. He twitched and began to breathe heavily, unable to escape the oppressive presence. Dan’oa stirred next to him and nuzzled closer, undisturbed by the unseen presence.
The voice commanded attention now. Hra’tan wrinkled his nose at the perception of the foul stench of rot and decay accompanied by the voice.
Hra’tan, my cub. What do you know? What have you seen?
Hra’tan began to twitch more and more violently. A wave of nausea overwhelmed him, a trapping weight of paralysis overwhelmed his ability to flee. One great gnarled claw swathed in rotten weavings and stained leather strips reached toward his brow and slowly forced its way into his head.
Hra’tan’s eyes snapped open in an unseeing gaze as the intrusive presence searched his thoughts.
Shre’ka. With a mate. And cubs. Shadow clouds him. He is very near, I can taste his darkness. Soon the Sa’ruk Chel’vek will be upon him and he will be mine.
Hra’tan twitched lightly.
You have done well, my cub! Anger, hate and dissention are festering in their midst. It is fueled by the guilt from their past and their fear of the future. An army of unliving warriors searches for them even now and soon you will all be mine. Now rest.
Hra’tan twitched one final time as the unwelcome presence of the foul intruder withdrew. His sightless gaze remained fixed as his shallow breathing began to wane.
Dan’oa stirred again oblivious to her mate’s distress.
Ca’el’esh reclined with a sigh. Within the dank confines of his cavern beneath the boles of the Dark Tree, Sa’ruk wrapped his fetid form. He caressed the clean edge of his brother’s blade with satisfaction.
“Soon, Fey'qua'ri. I will be coming for you as well.”
From this distance beyond the village it was now hard to see, especially in the fading moonlight before dawn. Living plants had been coerced by Fey'qua'ri to camouflage the hide-covered dwellings of The People and the strange cold skyboats of the offworlders that had returned them home. Hopefully the cover would obscure the Ra'van'ti huts from the prying eyes of others. It was the eyes of the Sa’ruk Chel’vek (fierce shadow spirits) now that concerned the venerable shaman.
In Fey'qua'ri’s mind he could still see the glow from the fire and the soflty swaying embers of The People as they dispersed from the gathering.
Shas'tan sat next to Fey'qua'ri and passed the pipe back to him. The aged Cathar took a long draught of the smoke and regarded recent events. Tendrils of the sweet aroma wafted across his gray muzzle lit from the glow of the bowl.
"Many things have come to pass these last few moon cycles," the Mo'at began.
"I sense that there is still much for Shre'ka to do."
Shas'tan nodded again, "We have seen many things, you and I. We have fought many times together and now have traveled across the ocean of stars to other lands I never thought possible. Although the purpose for the journey was of evil intent, I have hope for Shre’ka that it will make her more confident in herself, in her ability.” Shas’tan drew on the pipe and handed it to Fey'qua'ri.
Fey'qua'ri took the pipe and nodded this time. “I sense a stirring in Sa'uuk. My brother, Ca’el’esh, is at work. His rotting claws have somehow forced their way into our midst again and now I see this evil is wrought by him."
"Surely he must be dead by now."The old Mo'at regarded Shas'tan with a flat look. The clan leader knew better than to question Fey'qua'ri's intuition. “Don’t underestimate Sa’ruk.”