3.08: ENDGAME: Battle with Destiny

Where: Darkstryder Planet

DS Day 291-308

The Farstar reached orbit in a matter of minutes, the minimal crew suddenly unaccustomed to all the room they had to move around. “Hot-Shot” Fasalk loved all the room, and the opportunity to finally show his true glory. When they broke atmosphere, he wasn’t so sure anymore. There within his cannon’s scanners were two Star Destroyers with supporting fleets, and a Interdictor. The fighters had launched and were attempting to keep the TIEs at bay, but this looked a little too overwhelming for Hot-shot’s comfort.

Thyte looked out onto the view screen, and thought one thing…. It is a good day to die.

The Farstar fought valiantly, taking hits from all sides. Several areas on board were breached, and venting atmosphere. Fires were soon ripping through her lower decks. Then…

“Sir, something dropping out of Hyperspace.” Thanis said, frantically dealing with skeleton crew of droids and a handful of crew on the bridge.

A new fleet appeared in a flash, this one with Bothan fleet symbols on it. Bothans? That spy? The Bothans joined the battle, severely damaging one Imperial Star Destroyer. At least they are on our side this time….

Lead by the escort frigate Boash’wa, the Bothan response fleet identified themselves as friends to the New Republic, and ordered the Imperials to surrender. They responded with two more small attack fleets dropping out of hyperspace – reinforcements from the Brak sector; the ships that came through the gate at Oon Tien.

The battle raged…

******

At the same time, the ground battle was waging fiercely. The bulk of the force was attacking for head-on, entrenching within firing range of the fortress. Occasionally, a small force of specialist made a dash to the wall to set up charges, only to be cut down. The alien natives helping were using their bizarre magics to take out the Darkstryder soldier-constructs – the Krakai – defending from along the walls. The Imperials utilized scout walkers and repulsor tanks to defend the gates.

A second team, lead by Moyato and Adrimetrum went in underneath, using the Segmi tunnels. The tunnels ended in a labyrinth the Segmi said was directly underneath the fortress. A team of Charr Ontee lead them through the twisted alien maze. They encountered another sentient species, an apparently slave race to the Darkstryder, called the Yimi, along with a spidery-species of watchers or scouts. The teams was instructed to destroy these creatures to keep from alerting the Darkstryder. As they did this, more came. It became a need for survival more than just to keep the Darkstryder from being alerted.

*****

%MIST%

Dajus felt they were coming. This was the final battle. She and Hasslock had been cooped up inside a cell for hours, until someone came to get them. It was Mist, the bounty hunter who opened the door. Mist had survived their initial encounter somehow, and remained whole, arms and all. Dajus had a feeling that her “black-ooze”-self had something do with it. She felt the force stir as he entered the cell.

He escorted them up to a level inside the fortress, where Sarne stood surveying the battle from a balcony. “Your friends fight valiantly. It will soon be over, you realize. My victory is assured. I have lead you all this way to finally see your friends destroyed.”

Lead? Of course… he was leading them along the whole time. She realized she didn’t know him a s well as she thought, because if she had, she would have known that someone like Sarne would not have let himself be tailed so easily…. easily? That was easy?

“You, of course, are the reason for all of this, you know. You and your friend here.” he waved to Hasslock, almost like an afterthought. “It is time to meet your new master…”

No matter what Dajus said, he remained smug and confident. He lead them down to the ground level, when suddenly an explosion rocked the fortress. The wall had been breached and thousands of alien and New Republic soldiers and warriors were pouring in the court yard.

“Watch them! I must take care of this once and for all!” Sarne spoke to Mist, then dashed off down a corridor.

This was Dajus’s chance. She looked at Hasslock with a meaningful glare, who nodded. Hasslock reached into a concealed portion of his cloak to pull out a cylindrical device… something he had been working on since Shantuun.

*****

%TRPSPH2A%

“Something BIG dropping out of hyperspace!” Thanis called through the smoke ridden bridge. They all looked at the view port. It was a Torpedo Sphere, much like the one from Gandle Ott, except complete. It sent out a message, identifying itself as Cuthbert. He had returned to take revenge on those that “hurt him”.

Not long after that, three Qektoth cruisers dropped out of hyperspace.

This was not getting any better… Thyte thought. The Forsaken squadron had taken major losses in the fight, and were heading down to help the ground battle. Thyte was thirty seconds from ordering an abandon-ship. The Bothans were holding fast, but had taken some severe losses. Their fighters were the only group making advances. And now a self-aware, Darkstryder-modified torpedo sphere bent of revenge. GREAT! The first volley of torpedoes struck hard on one of the Star Destroyers. What? Cuthbert wanted revenge against everyone, including the Imperials. Thyte didn’t ask questions.

“Set course for behind that planet. We’re pulling out of this one…”

A large explosion lurched the ship forward, sending Thyte over his console.

“Sir, we have lost contact with the engine room. All power to main thrusters, gone. Core is signaling meltdown. We have to get out of here!”

“Abandon ship! Man the life pods, and abandon ship!”

Hot-shot had just taken out another Interceptor, when he heard the order. Through his view screen, he could see the aft section of the ship erupt in flames. Definitely time to go.

All that was going through Thyte’s mind was… A captain goes down with his ship. Like I said, looks like a good time to die.

The Farstar began to drift towards the planet’s surface.

*****

Gorak stood over the dead body of Loh’Khar. His contact was Chuborro, and the shuttle coming to pick up were his henchman. He couldn’t imagine how much the Hutt had offered the Twi’lek, but he would never see it. The shuttle flew over head just as the Twi’lek fell, but never landed. Curious… he was only one Rodian. Surely a few henchman could handle him. Thanking his lucky stars, Gorak turned and walked back to the Fortress. It wasn’t too far away, anyway. If Sarne was there, maybe he could settle the score with him too.

This was a good day for settling scores, he thought.

*****

Thyte was frantically arguing with Hot-Shot about abandoning ship. Thyte wanted to stay, and Hot-Shot wasn;t about to leave him behind. Thanis has already left. Little did Thyte know that Thanis returned with a blaster, set on stun. He and Hot-Shot dragged him to the life pod.

Hot-Shot glanced at the nav-comp as they left. Thyte had programmed in landing coordinates….crash landing coordinates. He set the ship to crash on top of the fortress. What was he thinking? An explosion ripped through the ship again, knocking them both down. They had no time to do anything about it. All he could do was hope Thyte knew what he was doing.

*****

Moyato and Adrimetrum both sat in a small alcove with the others, sweating and beaten. They had taken on some losses. The spider-drones had made several assaults at them, some in large masses. Adrimetrum was still haunted by the fallen’s screams as the spiders chewed at them.

The labyrinth has ended in what appeared to be organically grown tunnels spiraling upward. Until then, they had been going deeper and deeper into the surface of the planet. This was the first sign that they were heading back up. To where, no one could guess. Their guides would only say they would arrive inside the Lair of the Master, the Palace of the Old Ones. Adrimetrum could not help feeling like there was a presence here, throughout the complex. It was like being inside the ferryboat, but worse; much more darker.

“You feel that too, huh?” Moyato said, noticing her blank stare at the ceiling, as if she was trying to see through it. “Something or someone is here, something… else …. ”

The Captain nodded. “We are walking into the dragon’s lair. What treasures will we find?”

A blaster shot broke their moment, as they heard “Here they come again.”

“Battle LINES!! Establish your Battle Lines!!! Wedge our way through them, gentlemen!!” Moyato screamed for what seemed like the millionth time.

It seemed like hours later, but Moyato and the others were soon in a chamber that seemed to mark the beginning of the end. They were finally in the lower chamber of the Fortress, from what the guides told him before they died in that last battle.

In the faint light, he could see something. A cylinder, almost a pillar of some kind, in the middle of the chamber. As he approached it closer, he saw that it was a stasis tube of some kind and it had an occupant. Inside was a human female, middle aged, with a cylindrical device at her hip. She wore an Old Republic tunic.

“Blow this thing open.” He said.

His team set directional charges, and soon the woman was kneeling at Moyato’s feet, recovering from what looked like a long sleep. She looked around, seeing the well armed group around her. With incredible speed and precision, she leaped up and had the cylinder in her hand,…and ignited it…. a lightsaber. The light of the saber shined on her face, revealing it clearly. She looked strikingly like Dajus.

*****

Exhausted, Hasslock stared over the deteriorating body of Mist. The Dark Forces that were keeping him together was dissipating, after a death-blow Hasslock didn’t even know he had in him. Dajus stood by, amazed at the man’s ability. He smiled back.

Dajus suddenly doubled over in pain. At the same time, they heard a muffled explosion from below them. Rushing to her side, she stood again, with labored breathing.

“Something just happened. I am not sure what it was, but I feel like I was just pulled from a dream I never thought I would leave…” Hasslock blinked, curiously… “Nevermind, we have to get the the lower chamber.” Or so the voices told her.

******

The battle outside had progressed into a seething melee of bodies. Soon after the wall was broken and the combatants engaged in close combat, an alarmed sounded. Doors opened from both ends of the fortress, and what was let loose was a nightmare beyond compare. Some of the native warriors turned and ran. Other fell to the ground in utter shock. The rest fought onward. A bio-construct like no other was released as a last defensive tactic.

Above it all, the space battle was progressing worse. Remnants of Chuborro’s allies had joined the fray, apparently after the secret of Darkstryder as well.

Not long after the crime-bosses arrival, the Farstar went down. At the same time, Cuthbert let loose a volley of torpedoes at the ship and ships near it. This volley knocked the Farstar off it’s crash course, sending it hurling into the atmosphere of the planet.

A bright flash signaled another ship dropping out of hyperspace. The ferryship, along with several squadrons of Yvarema fighters launched from the ferryship. Also, from it’s underbelly, launched pod-like shuttles, carrying the warrior class Yvarema to the battle below. The ferryship turned its alien weapons on the largest target it could find…the torpedo sphere, Cuthbert.

On the surface, the coming of the warrior class Yvarema was preceded by an ground shaking explosion of the Farstar crash, only a few hundred kilometers away. The mushroom cloud was visible from the battle field. The shock-wave swept over the battlefield like a massive flood. Soldiers that were at higher elevations were thrown from their positions. The battle stopped for a moment, as the shock-wave dissipated.

The battle resumed with a new fervor when the Yvarema joined the battle. The Yvarema took the bio-constructs head on. The two battle lines met with a thunderous roar.

*****

The newcomer’s name was Halbret, and she was a Jedi from Old Republic times. She had been here for the Disaster that nearly rendered this world unlivable. She told a tale of a great battle with a Dark Jedi that had enslaved this entire planet, and the destruction the battle caused. The great battle caused the destruction of one of two gates, one of which still existed and orbited this planet. The explosion of it’s brother caused a rip in space and time, which formed the barrier they knew as the Rift.

She was put in stasis by the creators of the Darkstryder. They hoped that she would awaken once the destruction was over, and free their life-energies from the Well of Souls, a powerful crystal which literally stored an entire species’ life-energies. This species were the creators or the Precursors. The Well was to be guarded and maintained by the Darkstryder, a giant bio-computer construct that was housed in this fortress.

Her story was interrupted by an loud rumble that brought pieces of ceiling down on them. People struggled to keep their footing. “Any bet’s that was a good thing?” Moyato said. Something big had just exploded nearby.

*****

Dajus and Hasslock were struggling on the stairwell to keep their footing, trying to keep from falling as the fortress shook. They had watched from window as a familiar shape fell from the sky like a comet, and impacted a few hundred kilometers away.

I hope no one was on board… they both thought. Dajus reached out with the Force. No one had died on that ship. She was relieved. She saw that Hasslock had felt the same thing.

******

The struggle to the inner-lower chamber was a struggle. More spidery creatures and a few Krakai were trying desperately to keep the New Republic out of the chamber. As they broke the line, they walked into a low-ceiling chamber, and saw what they were protecting.

“It appears that I will have to take care of my rodent problem myself” a slithery voice echoed.

A huge multi-legged creature with as many clawed limbs as legs, and a multi-eyed face stared down at them. It was remotely insectoid, with pincers and a thick exoskeleton. Hundreds of spider-creatures swarmed around it, cleaning, and maintaining it’s throne and connections to the fortress. Nearby, Sarne stood.

The next few moments were a blur. Sarne used a Darkstryder device to make his escape and as he escaped, the Darkstryder stayed behind. As people recovered from the mind-warping blast of the Darkstryder device, the saw the Darkstryder beast disconnecting itself from all its nodes into the fortress. One of it’s manipulator limbs lifted, with a ball of energy forming. It too used the odd magics of this world.

The first energy ball exploded, yanking the rest from the daze. The Jedi, Halbret, ignited her lightsaber and jumped to the front line.

“The Sleeping One has awakened, I see. I will have two of you then. The other is close, as Sarne-One promised.”

Blaster fire showered the best and it’s spidery protectors. Delmon, Moyato, Adrimetrum and the others took cover from the fiery orbs raining down on them. As explosions rocked the room, chunks of the ceiling began to fall on everyone. Delmon made a made dash at the Darkstryder, brandishing yet another lightsaber. Where’d he get that?

At the same time, another one in the group hefted a Thermal Detonator behind the worm, to cut off any escape. That person under-estimated the impact of a TD in the chamber.

When the smoke cleared and the ceiling-dust settled, the Darkstryder was gone. It had escaped through a nearby opening. Halbret the Jedi was injured, and several New Republic team members needed medical attention. Adrimetrum, Moyato, Delmon, and Kla’al all were at least functional.

*****

Another explosion rocked the fortress, this time not as tremendous as the first. To Dajus, this one felt like it was from down below. Both of them could sense an enormous disturbance in the force below them. Following a organically-formed spiral staircase, they climbed down to the next chamber. It was a large room, with high ceilings, and complex veins and conduits piping up the walls and along the ceiling. It was brightly lit, but the light was not constant. It pulsated, faded in and out. The source of this light was a huge crystal in the middle of the room, set inside some kind of well-opening.

The Well of Souls… Dajus heard something whisper. The One has arrived…. The source of the Force disturbance was that crystal.

It was the source of Darkstryder technology.

“Yes, Dajus-One, it is the Source of all your pain, the source of your destiny…” The Voice said aloud. She then heard Hasslock scream “Jessa, look out” and saw a flash out of the corner of her eye. She leaped to the floor of the catwalk they were on, as Hasslock blocked a blast originating from the ceiling, with is sabre.

Jessa looked and saw a large. insectoid creature crawling along the ceiling. She drew her blaster and fired. Other blasts joined hers, as the remainder of her comrades emerged from a lower stairwell. With them was a strangely familiar woman.

The Darkstryder beast began throwing balls of magical energy from multiple limbs. Blaster shots were raining on it intensely. It withstood the assault for a surprising amount of time. Halbred, Dalmon and Hasslock deflected a few blasts from the Darkstryder with their individual Lightsabers. The Darkstryder soon took a fatal blow, and fell from it’s perch above the pulsating crystal, it’s “blood” staining an otherwise perfect surface. Delmon finished it off by stabbing it through with his saber.

Before the smoke cleared, Jessa realized that their newcomer had fallen to one of the Drakstryder blasts. She lay still on a catwalk near the Darkstryder’s original perch. Jessa reached her and held her. “You are free now. The voices will stop calling to you. Your destiny is in your hands…”

And the voices did stop.

****

The surface battle was nearing it’s end. The remaining Night Terrors were battling the last remnants of Sarne’s elite at the gates, as the Yvarema warriors finished off the last of the bio-warriors. They watched as a shuttle lifted off from atop the fortress and headed off towards the huge orbitting structure above. Sarne had escaped, once again.

Gorak watched it as well, from a distance away from the battle. He saw his chance to redeem himself, he ran towards the towards another the Muvon, still parked amoungst the ruins. He knew that the captain would be forming up a group, and they would need a way up. He convinced Brophar to fire up the engines, and head off towards the fortress to pick up the posse.

The captain had no time to argue at this point, pleased to see that someone had taken the initiative. She had gathered up her crew, the soldiers that could still fight. The launched immediately, enroute to the huge device orbitting the planet.

It was almost too easy to approach the behemoth, as they docked in a bay on it’s surface. They found Sarne’s shuttle there. They also found someone waitnig for them.

Mist…

He told them he was to escort them to Sarne. He didn’t disarm them, he didn’t bind them. The arrogance… the Captain thought.

They were escorted through the huge structure toa chamber, where Sarne stood, triumphantly. “Welcome, my little pidgeon birds. So glad you could finally make it to my party. It wasn’t like I didnt send you an invitation, afterall…” He laughed and feinted surprise as he looked across the angry faces staring back at him. “You honestly think you got here on your own? I lead you here the entire time. I wanted you to bring me the Rebel fleet. I admit, you have made things a little more complicated, but that’s what contingency plans are for.”

They were silent, each contemplating their next move. “I advise you to sit down and enjoy the view. As soon as yoru friends arrive, I will be engaging this little device and sending them off to…. I don’t really care where, actually, but away from here. It might be a while, but as you should know, I always treat my prisoners well. You make a move now, and I will destroy this place, the planet below, and your allies in orbit with a single switch. I die and this switch goes off. I would say, after all your efforts, you have lost. How does it feel, Farstar crew…”

At the moment, there was a flash from Dajus as she and Dervious moved towards mist. Gorak thrashed his whip towards Sarne, entagling his hands in it. Mist fought hard, but could not hold back the onslaught of Dajus with the Darkstryder pyramid empowering her, and an insanely angry Dervious. Sarne fell afterwards, stunned from the Rodian’s stun-whip.

Anti-climatically, Sarne was finally captured.

“Take him into custody, and … let’s get the hell outa here…” Adrimetrum gumbled. She looked at Gorak with a stare of thankas and mistrust. She would later give the Rodian advance warning before teh New Republic came to arrest him.

****

Adrimetrum, Dajus, Gorjaye and Thyte, battle scared and tired, sat on a hill over-looking the battlefield and the burning fortress. They had been the a day, resting and healing. The New Republic Fleet would be arriving shortly.

“What now, Captain?” Dajus said with an exhausted voice.

“You do what you want, Jessa. I am done saving the universe and being the ‘fearless leader’.” Adrimetrum said.

Thyte laughed under his breath, but said nothing.

Adrimetrum waved off towards the still smoldering wreckage of the Farstar. “She’s your ship now, old man. You can have her…”

They all laughed, together.

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