Pana kept pushing until the ship came to a stop just infront of her. 200 feet or so would have killed her. She fell to her knees, hants on the round bent over breathing heavily. Being trained as a jedi originally, she relied on their methods of the force until it got out of hand, and as such she felt the loss of life.
The loss hit her stomach hard as she began puking. It took a few minutes to stop, but when she did pana noticed there was blood in it. There's always a price to pay... she thought to herself before standing up. There wasn't much to do besides wait, and that she did, building up her strength.
The Liberator's shields were slowly being drained. Her pilot decided it would be best to get away from the Empire for a moment. Down on the planet, there was a cluster of Anti ship batteries under their control, secured with driods. She jumped into the atmosphere and near them, taking cover from the Empire's ships for the time being.
Grissk saw the destruction wrecked by the ship as it passed over head, just barely missing him and his small squad as they were buried under the dirt and rubble, digging themselves out, there were only thirty of the original 50 droids and clones left.
He got on his commlink,"Commander Corric, status report......Commander...Vosshkier"
He received a reply soon enough,"Lord Grissk, this is newly...promoted, Commander Danl, we've lost nearly half our force from that crash. Reports are saying that a small force of Republic troops have disembarked and that Kyle Katarn is among them."
"Drushka,pull back, set ambushes, traps, anything you can to slow them down,but do not engage them directly, we've lost enough today. Get to the planet's space port and fortify yourselves inside, make sure you're safe from orbital fire. The Empire and Republic are still up there."
He turned to his squad,"Men, we're going after a Star Destroyer and attempt to get the two Allies up there to start shooting at each other. Now, there's going to be some kind of Empire transport around here somewhere."
It didn't take them long to find one, it was damaged, but not too badly, the plan still had a chance of working. They got the ship up and running, with Grissk piloting, there wasn't too much difficulty getting out of the planet's atmosphere, and they came upon the Empire firing on the Republic ships. The Alliance had obviously not lasted as long as one of the sides had planned. He dodged both Empire and Republic ships in the wreckages of others. They reached a Gladiator class Star Destroyer, mostly emptied because of the invasion force and now the betrayal from one or the other, whichever it was didn't matter to Grissk.
Arriving in the hangar after a quick scan confirming that they were indeed an Imperial Transport. The men in the starboard hangar didn't even have a chance to defend themselves before being cut down by the Sith forces.
"You ten,"He said, pointing out eight clones and two droids with piloting upgrades,"Each of you take a fighter, and cause chaos between the Republic and Empire, there is no distinction, focus on fighters and transports, if you see a weak point in a larger ship, exploit it, we'll join you in a few minutes, now go."
Grissk and the rest of the squad proceeded farther into ship, killing every Stormtrooper and Imperial officer in their way, until they made it to the bridge where Grissk impaled the ship's captain and left him to die.
"Lt., fire all weapons on the nearest Destroyer, then set a collision course."
Once that had been done, he and the remaining squad, only ten strong now, headed back to the hangar after sealing the bridge off by piling computers and debris in front of it and destroying the console.
After arriving back at the hangar, the remaining clones, six, and Grissk, each boarded their own fighter while he commanded the other droids to destroy the remaining ships and cover their retreat.
He and the others met up with the still living clones, there were now twelve fighters flying around causing chaos between the two fleets. He watched as the Gladiator crashed into the closest Imperial ship, one much larger and watched in pride as the two exploded in a beautiful melding.
"Continue with this tactic, destroy all coming and going transports and fighters, each transport you take down means another thrity soldiers our enemies cannot muster."
After a few more minutes of this, ten more transports and twenty fighters later, he went back on the comm,"Start heading back to the Liberator, we've done what we can. There's nothing more we can do here now."
Del emerged onto the bridge of the Avenger just in time to be blinded by the Gladiator-class Star Destroyer running into another one of his ships. He could sense Grissk's involvement in the incident and made a mental note to space his sorry ass the first chance he got. As the blast faded, Del approached the Captain. "Status report." he ordered.
"The Avenger has suffered very little damage, sir." said Captain Zesk. "Also, the Liberator has retreated into the planets atmosphere, allowing us to direct all of our weaponry at the Republic fleet."
"How many Republic ships are left?"
"Only a hand full, sir. We should be able to make short work of them."
"Good." Del murmured. He was pleased that his decision to attack the Republic had been a good one. "What about Coral City?"
The two officers walked over to the sensor station and Zesk looked at the display. He read for a moment and turned to Del."It would appear that the ship's impact has split open several of the cities flotation chambers and they're taking on water. The city will likely be totally submerged in a few hours. Also, there seems to be a considerable amount of radiation in and around the city; probably from the hyperdrive explosion."
"Find then" Del said. "Let the Sith and Republic fight over their nuclear Otoh Gunga. Divert troops from Coral City to other locations on the planet where they are needed most. And continue your attacks on the Republic fleet." Del then turned around and exited the bridge to get himself a new set of armor.
A tiny gnat against the bulk of the Bellator, few would notice the shuttle zipping down from the ship and towards the nose. Inside, Kares sat with Vic and a dozen other troopers, the human just now rousing from his slumber. "Oh, Vashie, baby..." By roused, it is meant that Kares slapped him as hard as he could to stop him from talking in his sleep any more. Vic shook his head and woke up almost instantly, looking at Kares, who was standing directly in front of him, crouched at eye level.
"How much did you hear?"
"Too much." Kares said with a nod and distinctly energetic voice. Vic's face turned a bit red as the pair got back up, walking over to where the pilot of their shuttle was bringing them down. "You got something?" the Devaronian asked. The man nodded, and pointed at a distinct heat signature at the nose of the overtly massive ship.
"So it was just one person?" Vic asked, feeling sick to his stomach. "How does one person stop an entire ship like that?"
Kares stood with his arms semi-folded, one scratching his chin as he evaluated the situation. "I think I read in a history book, 'judge one not by their size.' Those Force users are crazy people, Vic. The sort of things they can do would blow your mind. They might even be able to actively blow your mind, for all I know." The rambling of the merc seemed to come to an end, and he ordered the shuttle pilot down.
It landed directly behind the exhausted Sith, the bay door opening and SpecForce troopers filing out surround her. Vic stayed the ship as Kares hopped out and approached, holding his Hushabye close as he examined her.
"Gave us a lot of trouble there, lady." Kares acknowledged, while simultaneously hiding his surprise that it was a woman he was about to shoot. "But you've overestimated your own abilities, as Force Users are wont to do. Me, I've got simpler problems." He drew both blasters and leveled them at her back. "Like, 'which blaster should I kill you with', or 'do I want my medal to be silver or gold'."
He grinned at her, crouched on the ground with blood on her lips. "This is when an honorable fighter tells you to stand, so you can fight evenly."
Instead, the Devaronian fired as many shots as he could put towards her back.
The pistol was lodged in Julia's back. "Enough", she said in common, "I have the briefcase". Julia pushed the guard behind her a bit back and knelled down, taking the briefcase and opening it. Inside was the crystal, though it was tempered with. She took a few steps forward and gave it to Gregori. "This is good, Julia. Come to my side", he offered Julia. The guard was right behind Julia, standing with his gun in his hand. The crystal began to glow red and Julia fell to the ground in her hands, pushing herself in between the guards legs, then grabbing his trousers and pulling him down to fall on her. The impact the guard's body with Julia's was very painful, but she, unlike Gregori and the others in the room, was not harmed by the explosion and shrapnel that came from the crystal. "Sarik", Julia screamed right after the explosion, her ears still ringing and hurting, "Get this corpse off of me!".
Gregori roared in pain as the red hot bomb exploded in his face. He wanted the crystal back, and he'd got it, just not in the fashion he expected. At Julia's signal, Sarik had drawn his blaster, firing at the surprised guards and hutts alike. Several shots hit Gregori's blubbery mass, only further enraging him, yet not putting him down as Sarik had anticipated. Damn hutts and their regenerative properties, he thought to himself.
Still shooting into the crowd, Sarik dropped to his knees and slid across the floor to Julia. Hauling the burly Nikto guard off of her, he pulled Julia to her feet. More guards were rushing in, and they were soon surrounded. Sarik pumped a few more shots into Gregori's bleeding girth before the Hutt finally choked his last breath. The room was suddenly very quiet. The guards still had their weapons trained on Sarik and Julia, but they made no move to fire, simply standing impassively, awaiting an order.
"Well?" said Sarik impatiently. "Are you going to shoot us or not?"
Another large hutt, adorned with a purple eye tattoo and monocole, raised his hand. "No." he said simply. "A member of the Kajidic is dead. Proper procedures must be followed. The retribution shall come afterwards."
The hutt eyed Julia. "There is also the problem of blame in this situation. The perpetrator is technically a member of the Desilijic family, as Gregori's adopted daughter. This is not merely an assassination attempt by the other Kajidics, but a family matter."
Sarik folded his arms. "So is that a 'yes, we are going to kill you', or a 'yes, we are going to kill you later'? I'm confused."
The hutt belched loudly, and continued. "You may leave, as all members of the Kajidic are welcome to do so. It will be exile, but no further actions will affect Julia on this matter unless she chooses to persist. This is your one chance to leave the planet. I suggest you do so. My guards will see you out."
The guard retinue walked Julia and Sarik out to their parked speeder. Before they could take off however, the Hutt that had offered them passage arrived on his floating bed. Lowering himself until he was eye level with the pair, he gave a disgusting grin.
"I wanted to thank you for helping me." he said slyly. "Two family members removed in an instant. I don't know what altercation you had with Gregori, but you weren't the only one. With him dead and you exiled, I stand to move up in the Kajidic. That alone is worth the safe exit you will receive. I doubt the other family members see it the same way, but I will make sure that any attempts to capture you in orbit are intercepted."
The hutt's grin faded. "But if you come back here, I don't expect my charity to hold for a second time. If you want to kill more of the upper members of the family, contact me first. I think we can put together a deal, hmm?"
Sarik frowned. "How can we contact you if we don't know your name?"
"If you want to speak to me, I'll know before you need to comm anyone. Now, get off this planet before I decide to renege on my end of the bargain."
Sarik nodded in thanks, and the speeder lifted off and shot out from the palace hangar. They spoke little during the trip back to Daekaris's hovel, too pent up with adrenaline from the kill to say anything substantial. Circling the area, Sarik noted that the Ryn's hovel looked less like a mud shack and more like a light freighter excavated from a dig site. The open hangar doors atop the freighter closed behind him as he docked the speeder inside the ship. Only then did he breath a sigh of relief.
"Okay, so, revenge is done and over with. What do we do now?"
There was a flash of the white sabre she carried, deflecting the shots, all of them into the ground. "I'm done with war, i'm tired of the killing. the only reason i keep moving is to kill my master and put an end to all wars; once and for all." she said, with the remorse visible in her eyes.
"I used to be a slave, i know how life works and its not fair. The only reason i'm talking to you now is because i had the guts to free myself. Its because of war that i have the chance to end all of this, i'm grey, neutral. But the empire and republic, you each keep fighting. That's why i'm asking your men and you to join me or leave now. i don't want to kill you. Please." She said towards the group surrounding her.
"Let her up." said Katarn, marching towards the group with a contingent of Republic troops. Pana stood, swaying from exhaustion, but still with a fury in her eyes that kept her going.
"You don't see the irony in your statement? You tire of war, and yet this happens. If you didn't decide that the city was a better target for my ship than one building, you could have escaped, you could have saved thousands of lives. Now look at this place. Look at what has happened."
Katarn stared directly at Pana. "If we let you go, then what happens next? What world will you attack? What children will you abduct for some sadistic Sith Lord? Why should we believe that you would do anything counter to what we've seen the Ascendants do already? If not you, then who next? Say you do leave, would you let someone like Grissk lead the galaxy towards peace?"
The sky continued to thunder, the flaming, twisted hulks of crashing ships falling into the atmosphere. Kyle had hoped to appeal to the noble side of Del, the one he showed during his tenure at the Temple, when Kyle himself first decided to join the new order. It figured that he would go back on his word. The Empire meant too much to him compared to any sense of honor. All it would do would bring more destruction.
Kyle sighed. "I don't deny that the Republic has its faults. Right now, the "right" side to be on seems determined by who will be the least beaten out of this whole fight. As it stands, I don't think anyone is going to win here today. I say that we cut our losses, and keep the Mon Calamari and Quarren from suffering any more. Call off your fleet, and we'll back down. If the Empire doesn't want to play ball, they can keep fighting until they decide its too much for them either."
He offered the Sith his hand. "I'm not saying the war will end today, but this fight should. Live to fight another day on even terms?"
"We will call up the Hutt's offer later, Sarik. But first we need to find the artifact and stay within the gray". Julia entered a room where the Ryn was sitting down and resting, a cup filled with yellow liquid in his right hand. "I destroyed the crystal, but I remember it all. Come with me, Gray master, we will go on a journey to find this artifact in Vjun ".
Pana took his hand. "I keep fighting and killing because i know it will stop more in the future." she said. Just then a number of super battle droids approached. Pana waved them down and they stopped.
"Thank you. I promise you won't regret this." Pana said.
Del arrived at the armory. After exchanging his damaged set of Stormtrooper armor for a fresh set, Del took out his comlink and ordered the ship's Commando team to meet him in hanger 2. Before he left, Del grabbed a modified E-11 and a CASX-14 bomb. It was only the size his chest, but the explosive packed enough power to blow a good sized hole in the hull of any ship. With this supplies, Del proceed towards the hanger.
He was leaning against his personal TIE Interceptor when the 4 Commando's arrived, dressed in their specialized armor and carrying rifles similar to Del's. As they approached, Del brought the bomb up to eye level. "Can any of you tell me what this is?" he said, pointing at the devise.
One of Commando's, the team leader, spoke up. "Yes sir, that's a Compact Anti-ship Explosive."
"That's right, Commander. Gentlemen, our mission is to fly into the Liberator's hanger, proceed to the engine room and rig this thing to blow up the ship's reactor. Our secondary objective is to get to the bridge and obtain any useful information on the Sith that we can. Is that understood?" The Commandos said "Yes, sir" in unison and got into their own Interceptors. Del climbed into his TIE and strapped himself in. As soon as the hatch sealed Del activated the ship's communications system. "You all ready?" he said. All the Commandos answered in the affirmative, and the ships lifted off from the hanger floor and shot off into space.
The computer of Del's craft quickly located the Liberator; it was hovering over a small, Sith controlled island. "Follow me." he said, and swooped down towards their target. The fighters weaved in and out of debris and Star Destroyers with unmatched speed and little opposition. Soon they where speeding through the atmosphere, the Liberator in sight. The guns of the island and the ship itself opened fire on the Imperials as soon as they where in range. "Evasive maneuvers!" Del ordered into the comm before taking his own advise. The craft's twin ion engines screamed as the Interceptors dodged the cannon fire. Any lesser ship would have been quickly turned to scrap metal, but the TIE Interceptor was the fastest and most maneuverable fighter in the Empire's arsenal, and all of the Commandos, plus Del, made it to the hanger safely.
But the fight wasn't over yet. As they exited their cockpits, a platoon of battle droids stream through the door and began firing. Del and the Commandos took cover behind their fighters. One of the soldiers removed a thermal detonator from his belt and threw it at their attackers. The explosive detonated, destroying the droids. "Come on, there'll be more soon." said Del as he ran for the door.
Unfortunately, he was right. As the group made their way towards the engine room, they ran into countless droids, all of which where quickly taken care of only to be replaced by an equal amount around the next corner. Running from a squad of super battle droids, the group emerged into the engine room and sealed the door behind them. After a moment of panting, Del removed the bomb from his back. "Lets get this thing hooked up." he said. The room was deserted but the Commandos stayed on guard regardless. Del approached the reactor and clamped on the bomb. A few button pushes later, and the bomb was set to explode at the activation of Del's detonator. "Alright," he said. "its all set. Now lets get to the bridge and see what we can dig up." With that, the team exited through another door and started for the bridge.
Pana's comm rang from the liberator's bridge. She held her hand up to her ear and nodded. "I see... jump in atmosphere to above my location, i'm going to give them a reason not to touch my ship." she said.
There were a few seconds of silence and then The liberator appeared overhead. The jump had been abrupt and threw Del's entire team against the wall, sending the detonator flying down the hall way. As it sailed through the air, the droids that had braced themselves filed out of doors. Specifically four droidekas, taking up the with of the hallway and ten super battle droids advancing.
The detonator was a good distance past the droids. Actual troops were setting up down the hall, with sniper blasters and heavy blasters. The crew of The Liberator had seen much ship to ship combat in their service and were no strangers to taking out countless amounts of boarders. The Super battle droids were the first to open fire, shoulder to shoulder and filling the hall full of spread shot from their arms.
There was a blast of air that flew over the group on the ground and a shuttle from the top hangar descended to come get pana.
Grissk heard the emergency alarm on his way to the bridge from the hangar and sent a platoon of droids to take care of the problem. A few moments later, he heard and felt the explosion and rushed back towards the hangar. Inside he saw at least a dozen TIE fighters.
Imperial scum, on this ship? Upgrades are needed.
He cut through the few that the Imperial Commander left behind and ran after the rest of the boarders. He followed them through the ship coming to the engine room doors, without traversing the entire ship, there was not a way in from this side. He shook his head, loathe to destroy any part of a ship he'd come to respect, and began cutting through the thick doors that had been put in place. It took some time, but he made his way through far enough to where he could Force the blast doors open. Inside he saw that the engineers inside had been killed, many by saber slashes.
Imperial Jedi, or Karcot is on this ship. Why did I not kill him when I had the chance? He's too far into Thrawn's teachings to see the truth.
He searched the engine room after noticing that all doors had been sealed. He found the bomb soon enough, as familiar he was with what was and wasn't supposed to be in there, as well as being thrown face first into it when the ship jumped. He removed it, but knew that he couldn't disarm it. He did the next best thing, he took it back to the hangar, where he saw Pana exiting a transport, more or less unharmed, something that gave him a sense of relief. He instructed one of the pilot droids to take one of the Interceptors and fly into whatever hangar it came to first, be it Republic or Imperial, neither mattered to the Trandoshan.
"My Queen,"He quickly ducked his head and fell in behind her, a determined look on her face, saber in hand, which he mimicked.
Pana stopped and spun around on her heels, causing Grissk to stop too. She brought her sabre up to his chest and narrowed her eyes. "Who do you serve, who do you take orders from alone? Are you with me or Master Ryn?" She asked, confident as can be.
Grissk was quite taken aback by this turn of events.
Whom do I serve? Is it not obvious? I serve our Master Ryn'Talos. What is she doing?
"I serve my Lord, Pana. Do not forget your place in our Order. Your Master is mine."
He had drawn his own lightsaber out of instinct and had a single beam activated,in line with her stomach.
Pana force pushed him back, sending Drissk flying. "I know my place in the order, to kill Ryn and take the reins. Now are you going to stand with me or will i have to kill you too? Ryn is corrupted by the old ways of the sith, i'm going to reshape them into the justice of the galaxy.We'll put an end to all wars by showing how terrible they can get. Now i ask you again, will you join me or stand for the lies of the old?"
Grissk landed on his feet, and opened up both beams of his saberstaff.
"I fight for the Sith, uncorrupted by the lies and mistakes of the old, and Scorekeeper.If you feel you must kill me, do not forget exactly how powerful I am, Pana." He lifted his lips into a fanged snarl,"I believe that the Sith can become what our founders millenia ago believed we could be.The Jedi, the Republic, and the Empire cannot do those things."
He lowered and deactivated his lightsaber, but did not put it back on his belt.
He got on his commlink, directly linked to the droid flying the ship with the bomb,"New orders, land in the orbiting shipyards."
Pana's eyes went wide. "Those shipyards are the reason for taking this planet. destroy them and you'll be disobeying Ryn's orders. He is nothing but a vessel of the old, stealing bodies to continue living. You want to become the next in line? the next Vessel for him?" She asked getting ready attack, need be.
"Those shipyards are the only reason both the Empire and Republic are here as well. Destroy them, and the planet is no longer under threat.The people on there are dead whichever of us takes it. This way, they serve no purpose for anyone."
"And with it goes any chance of winning this war. I need those shipyards for a fleet. Order the droid to deliver the package to the head empire vessel. That is a direct order." she said gripping the sabre even tighter. This would be the defining moment for the rest of the war.
Grissk knew he did not stand very much of a chance against Pana when it came to their mastery of the Force, he just did not have the potential she did. But he did know that he could take her in a saber duel, but that was not wise at the moment. He growled, frustrated at the position he had been forced into.
"Droid 74X-9... belay that order.... return to fighter's original Imperial hangar.Do not let that bomb be destroyed or defused."
"I believe that Karcot, the man in charge of the Imperial assault, is still on this vessel. Alone, I can take him, together, he is less than an insect. If we go now, we can at the least capture him, he is a good candidate to train. If he can be convinced of Thrawn's short comings, we gain yet another powerful ally."
"Now that that has been taken care of, take me to the place you found the bomb. We'll come up behind them." she said and they took off down the hallway.
Pana let Grissk take the lead towards the bomb's original location.
Passing through Kor Desilijic's atmosphere, Daekaris's ship swooped below the hull of an incoming Hutt warship. Their gamble had paid off. The safety of the Kajidic was drawing the ships towards the planet, making it easier for their ship to escape the border patrols. And with the Hutt's word that they would be unharmed, bypassing the home fleet proved to be a simple task as well. Shaking his head uncertainly at whatever threats awaited them, Daekaris punched in the coordinates to Vjun, and the ship rocketed into hyperspace.
During the transit, Sarik felt the need to get some questions answered. "What is Vjun exactly? I'm just curious, since whatever this scepter is, I have a bad feeling that it's guarded, no doubt. Any ideas on what to expect when we get there?"
Vorir's shuttle was hidden in plain site amongst the countless ships docked at the massive spaceport. Commercial shipping was a major focus for the planet, and the vast strips of landing pads built to accommodate starships of all shapes and sizes reflected the business practices. Between the kilometer long intergalactic trade ships that would strike out for neighboring dwarf galaxies such as the Rishi Maze, and the smaller, sports field sized bulk freighters, Vorir's shuttle was a speck unnoticed in a sea of filth.
That was the second thing most people noticed about the Abregado spaceport. It was disgusting. The air was choked with engine wash and ionized air, and the cleaning droids seemed to have given up their duties based on the futility and attrition their task attracted. Clad in a grimy jacket he picked up from a side vendor, Caster looked suitably disheveled as he wandered through the spaceport alongside Vorir. He'd learned to keep his clothing inconspicuous since the last attack on Obroa-Skai. He still had to work out his posture, but, baby steps.
Settling down in an open air tapcaf, Caster carried a pair of drinks to the table, dropping one in front of Vorir. He eased himself into his chair and took a sip. It was a caffeine beverage of some sort, warm in his throat, with a hunt of some nut or bean he couldn't quite label. Probably a local variety. It woke him up at least.
"So," he started. "Now that you are free, what will you do? There's still the issue of those mercenaries. And my offer to find the Scepter of Ragnos still stands."