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Daggers in the Dark

Posted on Thu Aug 12th, 2021 @ 11:12am by Knight Azsari & Master Deakon Iersa & Knight Sice Isatu
Edited on on Thu Aug 12th, 2021 @ 7:35pm

Episode: Episode I: Rise of the Sith
Location: Jedi Cruiser Endurance, En-route to Saleucami
Timeline: Day 1 at 2300

A Jedi Padawan spent their life training in the ways of the Force so that they could influence those around them and sue for peace. So that days like today could be avoided. But there was no way young Sice Isatu could avoid the situation that awaited them at the end of the hyperspace lane their Jedi cruiser was traversing at maximum speed. Ever since the transmission from the High Council had been received, Master Iersa had been communicating with the troops on Saleucami. Until transmissions had been jammed of course. According to Commander Mohnraj, the most senior officer present from the Grand Army, Sith warships had descended without warning, begun bombardments of defensive positions and had started to land their assault ships within minutes. That had been less than an hour ago and already the planet was in danger of falling to the enemy.

"Mohanraj's last report was clear; the enemy are advancing on the Citadel at speed and with overwhelming force. We must land here," Deakon pointed to the zone highlighted with a flashing marker on the holographic map in the center of the cruiser's bridge.

"Terrain is ideal for our landing craft and our Walkers will make good speed through the trees here," Captain Ibrahima Konta waved his finger over the holographic treeline. "Unfortunately, that means the terrain is ideal for our enemies..."

"It's a race," Isatu declared, her eyes trained on the map and her arms folded across her chest. "Whoever reaches the treeline first secures the area," she surmised, eventually looking across at her Master for confirmation. She got it in the form of a knowing smile and a nod.

"The Padawan is correct. In order to reach this area first, we need to get into as low an orbit as possible for deployment. Captain Carline," Iersa looked across at the commander of the Jedi cruiser, "have your pilot calculate the speed and time to drop out of hyperspace as close to these coordinates as possible. Captain Konta, prepare your troops for a surface attack."

With the orders from the Master Jedi, there was a flurry of activity from those who had been stood around, listening to the briefing and waiting for orders. Iersa was a veteran of the last great conflict to ravage the galaxy, so listening to him was a no brainer for the soldiers of the Grand Army. For Sice, it was par for the course - she was required, as part of her training, to hang on her Master's every word and heed his advice.

"A bold plan, Master," the Padawan nodded in approval, "Is it your plan for us to join the offensive or head straight for the Citadel?" she enquired, eager to know the role the two would play in the mission to come. This was not her first time on Saleucami, nor to the Citadel itself, so to see everything at risk of falling to a new enemy disheartened her.

"We, Young One, will head straight to the Citadel. We will establish what the situation is and, if required, we will lead the defence from there," her bearded master responded, a growing frown evident on his face as he folded his arms across his chest. He lifted his right hand to his chin and stroked the beard several times in contemplation.

Sice knew her master well, and she knew that look on his face well. He was pondering a question that no-one could possibly answer at this point. "You're wondering where they came from, aren't you Master?" she surmised, her hands on the console between them as she lent forward slightly.

Iersa diverted his gaze through the hologram and onto the face of his apprentice. "Just when we thought the galaxy could have peace, a new evil emerges; an evil that no one foresaw and that we are seemingly so ill-equipped to defend against..." his frown was one not of anger, but sorrow, "Where did they come from?" he mused, echoing his apprentice's original question.

"Perhaps an equally important question is who is leading them?" Sice queried of her master, time seemingly standing still as the two exchanged concerned glances whilst the rest of the world around them sprung to action. It was a question that was definitely worth further consideration.

"Master Jedi," called out the cruiser's communications officer. "We are picking up a transmission--distress signal only--that seems to be originating from a Jedi communicator aboard a civilian transport near the edge of the system. It appears one of the enemy vessels is performing interdiction actions against the transport."

For the briefest of moments, the Jedi Master closed his eyes and tried to focus his attention in the direction of the civilian craft. Just who was using the Jedi communicator? It was an interesting question, but it was not to be answered this way. Instead, Iersa looked towards the Communications Officer and gave his orders. “Open communications and inform the transmission sender that support is on the way. Have Combat Wing Bravo standby for immediate launch to secure the transport and guide it to safety.”



[Civilian Transport Andalucia]

Azsari felt her communicator vibrate, indicating a reply. Based on the signal, it meant help was on the way. She breathed a sight of relief. The Force was with her. And that was a good thing since they were being boarded by... whoever it was. Pirates or some such.

It came as a powerful shock, then, for her to see uniforms on the pirates. They were in double file like Republic soldiers. An officer came forward--yes, an officer! Azsari listened carefully as he spoke.

"This vessel is hereby impounded by the Sith Empire," he declared. "Everyone on it is now subjects of the Empire. Anyone who does not comply with the lawful orders given them by a Sith officer will be sentenced to the slave caste. Anyone who attempts to resist will be summarily executed. Surrender all weapons, communicators, and slicers on your person or face the consequences."

Sith.

Weren't they extinct? Azsari recalled the term from her studies, but these people weren't even remotely close to what she recalled from the histories. These were...deserters.

Azsari smiled. She couldn't attack at the moment, not when they were mobilized and ready. She needed to bide her time. An opportunity would present itself, even if only before help arrived. The Force would see to that.

Backing away slowly, Azsari slipped away from the passenger compartment in search of more obscure positioning.


[Jedi Headquarters, The Citadel, Saleucami]

The Citadel was bold on the blue beyond. It stood there as if conjured from the storybook of a child and it was perfect. Every stone was even and square, as if those who built it were set on perfection, as if they really loved what they had made. They were walls made to protect a community, to echo with laughter and to be the shelter they needed for the millennia to come. The crown of the landscape and the protector of ancient peoples.

These days, the Citadel was the home of the Jedi presence on the Republic world, and a hive of activity on any given day. Except today; today the building was practically empty - only a skeleton presence remained, the majority of the buildings' residents having vacated to counter the advancing enemy.

Standing on the steps to the Citadel, a cloaked and masked figure stared into the distance uneasily. With his hands clasped together behind his back, the figure remained stoic and still until a distant explosion drew his attention. The Grand Army had engaged the enemy.

Emerging from the darkness inside the building, two more cloaked figures joined the man on the steps, flanking him as another explosion drew their attention. A third came from an alternative direction and confirmed the first man's suspicions - they were in danger of being surrounded.

The three Temple Guards looked at each other before retreating inside the Citadel once more and barricading the entrance.

As the three hooded figures entered the safety of the Citadel, and the doors magnetically locked behind them, a Rhodian woman sprinted towards them, sliding to a halt just in time to avoid barrelling into the Jedi. "Master Jedi," she spoke, bowing respectfully as she caught her breath, "we've received word that reinforcements have entered the system and are preparing to land but enemy forces are making their approach difficult."

"We must trust that they will make it through," the lead figure spoke in a deep, husky voice, "there is nothing more we can do at this point..."


[Jedi Cruiser Endurance, Approaching Saleucami]

Standing at the very tip of the command bridge on the Endurance, Deakon Iersa had an almost 280 degree view of the hyperspace lane they were hurtling through, headed to the planet of Saleucami and the Jedi stronghold there. Or, at least what had been a stronghold - who knew what state the planet was in now after this sudden, unprovoked attack by 'the Sith'.

"Master Jedi," a voice called from the control pit behind Iersa, "leaving hyperspace in 3... 2... 1..."

Endurance streaked out of hyperspace like a shooting star across the heavens, only to be greeted from a sight far from heavenly. Lances of green, blue and red phased energy shot through the blackness of space like bolts of lightning, whilst torpedoes flew about, seemingly aimlessly. Ships from both sides of the conflict were already engaged in a duel of the fates, with the Republic craft somewhat smaller and outnumbered until the three larger Jedi Cruisers emerged from hyperspace and began to return fire on their Sith opponents.

All around, buzzing like Troydarian's around a pot of gold, starfighters were engaged in vicious dogfights. It was a scene the Master Jedi had not seen, not since the early days of the Mandalorian war.

"Combat Wing Bravo has launched and is on its way to support the Civilian Transport. Transmissions from the surface are requesting our immediate landing," Captain Carline revealed as he came up beside the Jedi and looked at the warzone around them.

"Have Konta begin his landing. Contact Sice and have her meet me at our transport," the Jedi declared as he spun on his feet and began walking away, almost at a sprint. War was again engulfing the galaxy.



[Civilian Transport Andalucia]

"Civilian Transport Andalucia, this is Bravo Leader of Combat Wing Bravo, Saleucami Group of the Grand Army Starfighter Corps. The hostile vessel has been neutralized. What's your status?"

The arrogant Sith officer who had given the imperial speech to the transport's passengers fell to the ground with a groaning sigh as his lifeforce passed out of him. Two dead Sith soldiers were already there to greet him in his passing. Throughout the narrow holds and tight corners of the transport, there were a dozen more stiffening bodies who never saw the face of the Force of nature that had struck them down. Shadow that she was, they had never stood a chance against Azsari's element of surprise.

"This is Unas'zar'illithyr, Jedi Knight," Azsari replied into her communicator which was broadcasting on all fleet frequencies. The use of her full legal name made her uncomfortable, as she only used it in official matters. "Glad somebody out there heard my distress signal, but the situation over here has been resolved."

Silence met her at first.

"Come again?" asked Bravo Leader.

"All hostiles have been neutralized on the transport," Azsari replied, using the wing commander's jargon. "I'm now awaiting pickup. And someone tell Master Iersa that I must speak with him at once."

"Roger that."

These were more than marauders or deserters that were at Azsari's feet. No, these traitors carried the taint of the Dark Side. A grim smile ticked up the corners of Azsari's blue face. It seems Saleucami wouldn't be as boring as she'd anticipated.

 

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