The resistance efforts on Bastirven IV have made great progress, but invited more challenge. With the death of the military governor and the sabotage of the Overseer Star Destroyer, which housed the entirety of the First Order battalion, the Supreme Leader has dispatched Exan Drell, Voidknight of Snoke's Dark Enforcers, to personally lead the campaign of crushing the Resistance on that world, foreseeing a rare opportunity...
'You feel the power of the darkness...' the voice of the ancient Sith Witch whispered in his thoughts. 'You know the power of your anger... your pain you will forever feel where your brother took your arm...'
'Channel it... Make it do your bidding...'
A hapless junior officer shook as she stepped into the meditation chamber of her commander. She knew of how he could use his power to torment the minds of those that failed him. He wouldn't need to choke them to death with his mind, like others of his caliber, but she heard of very stark suicides.
"S-sir..." she choked as she looked up.
Most of the light was blocked by Exan Drell. the light source was a very soft blue, circular ceiling light. Directly beneath it floated the Voidknight, suspended by invisible forces. Around his dark robed form, various metallic pieces and plates of a powerful device orbited him. She could see red light shined brighter than the light above glowing directly in front of him, as his back was to her.
Slowly, he descended and turned. Floating between his hands was a blood red crystal that cast its light on her, overpowering the soft blue ceiling light. The metal parts and plates all came together and surrounded the crystal, forming a lightsaber with ornate engravings on its outer plating.
She could see his eyes were closed. He opened them as the last sliver of red light was hidden by the black engraven handle. His irises glowed a deep red before flashing to a golden yellow as he looked at the officer.
"Lieutenant," he greeted with perfect politeness. Her tension was no less lessened.
She swallowed. "Sir, Terok Vor is waiting outside. We..."
"You successfully him, I see. I did not summon him, however."
"Yes sir, but he insisted that he..."
Drell gently pushed her aside before the foor opened, interrupting her train of thought. In walked a larger man with torn black roves and a singed armor chestplate, indicative of blaster fire and a lightsaber cut. He was Human, bald, a decade older than Exan, definitely tired. He walked with impatience.
"You're looking worse for wear, Vor," Drell stated, keeping an even posture, holding his lightsaber at his side.
Vor kept walking with overbearance, disrespectful. "Three days my men and I are hunted and now you-- Ack!"
He stopped and grabbed his throat, stepping back before he took a deep breath again.
"Know your place, Blackguard..." Drell spoke with the same respectful tone, his off-hand raised.
Vor spat. "You've been a Voidknight a mere half year, Drell... I've served the Supreme Leader faithfully many years... Before Kylo Ren's ascendancy..."
"You began as a child as I did. Weak. Your jealousy of power blinds you from your purpose, so explain to me why you couldn't suppress a mere boy without a proper master and his little band of friends?"
Vor's eyes widened, then after a moment, pursed his lips. "He had help..."
"The intelligence report indicated Resistance aid of no more than a shipment of heavy weapons, nothing that could infiltrate the Reaper."
"That's where you are wrong, Drell..."
Vor took, from a pocket in his robes, a datachip and cast it at his superior's feet. It was lifted into the air under Drell's power. He clipped his lightsaber to his belt and held the chip in his palm. He extended a hand to the Lieutenant, who, after some hesitation and confusion, handed him her datapad. Drell then proceeded to plant the datachip into the pad and searched through the new data.
His eyes widened, then he looked to the Lieutenant. "Ready my ship and my guard. We're going down."
"A family matter has arisen..."
Reon Drell-Lishko had some trouble keeping up with the younger man guiding him. Not because he was old, but simply because he was not accustomed to running through the thick forest terrain.
The guide head of him was practically a boy, no older than seventeen. He was also above him, running along the high tree branches, jumping and swinging from them as well, moving like he was defying gravity. One could say that they were, as they were skilled in using the Force. Thankfully, Eorun Marr wasn't moving too quickly for his Force-enhanced footspeed to fall behind, but weaving around the tree annoyed him.
He huffed. "How far before we catch up to that First Order communique we picked up?"
"Another three hundred meters, I can see it," Eorun answered, suddenly swinging ahead from a long vine. Reon sighed.
Their black clothing kept them well hidden in the night. Reon's clothing, however, was a heavier flightsuit composed of form-fitting protective leather and lines fabrics with small metal pieces on the shoulders and kneepads. The boy wore lighter clothing; only leather boots, a thin, formal-looking combat jacket, and dark blue pants. They both wore blaster pistols and lightsabers on their belts. Reon had his lightsaber built into a compacted First Order stun baton, the length of a large flashlight when collapsed, while the other had a half-circle ring linking both ends of it.
Suddenly, Reon could see orange light faintly growing in his view through the tree trunks. He felt a bit more confident that their quarry was in their sights.
They reached a very small clearing in their path where they indeed found First Order Stormtroopers sitting around a small fire. Reon kept behind a tree and peered around it. Eorun was directly above. The Stormtroopers sat around their campfire, burning smokelessly thanks to the planets natural flora, looking miserable. They were dirty and relinquished pieces of their once clean armor to lighten their load, especially their helmets. They only had their standard weapons, probably non-functional, and a large communicator sitting on a log.
Reon could see their faces. All individuals, toughened by training, but clearly suffering without food. The game in this part of the forest was nonexistent and most animals were predatory. They were still people, in a way. They still felt pain.
"Blasters on stun," he told his companion, drawing out his DC-17 blaster pistol and the stun baton. Eorun aimed his DL-44 carefully from his branch. Without needing verbal communication, Reon struck first, charging into the camp with a three shot burst from his pistol, striking two to the ground with shock before his baton extended a meter long, the prongs and shaft electrifying. The Stormtrooper nearest him took his rifle and tried using it as a club, which he blocked with his gun arm and struck him in his exposed side with the baton. He dropped to the ground.
The last trooper got a fair distance away and aimed an actually functioning rifle at Reon. The Force Adept in question barely, but purposefully dodged a shot to his head. The baton in his hand suddenly retracted and the stun prongs spead apart to reveal a lightsaber emitter, which shot out a hot white-blue blade that deflected another shot into a tree. Another swift movement and another bolt was redirected to the dirt ground. The fourth one shot the blaster rifle itself just before a blue stun bolt hit the last trooper to the ground.
Reon deactivated his lightsaber and looked at Eorun. "Couldn't pick your target?"
The boy shrugged. "I remember being told that I was backup." Then he jumped down to the ground and walked over the groaning Stormtroopers' bodies.
They both proceeded to round all four of the troopers up and kept them together with a cable.
"Nice work," Reon told his companion, reconfiguring the First Order distress beacon to send a different signal. "You've got promise, kid."
Eorun chuckled. "I'm not that much younger than you."
"Talk semantics later. Our ride's here."
Reon's ship arrived, appearing and hovering quietly over their heads.
Reon and Eorun made it back to the Capital City of Bastirven IV. They flew in a Fury-class starfighter, a recon-stealth vessel, the design of which was updated by the First Order, but with the emblem and colors of the Resistance on its wings. The sight of First Order prisoners being escorted off of such a ship and led into their own prison had to be very gratifying for the people they ruled with iron fists.
Within the prison were officers and soldiers, wherein before were common men and women that had defied the State, behind shielded cells. Interrogation almost always meant pain for prisoners in those days and Reon was leading his newest prisoners to one such chamber meant for interrogation.
But though the Stormtrooper were expecting chair harnesses and droids administering truth serum, they instead found a table and chair. But behind the table stood a tall and broad suit of power armor with black plating and a blue stripe down the left side of its chestplate and leg. The helment's eye pieces glowed a standard blue.
"Invitation:" it suddenly spoke, through the speaker in the helmet's mouth. "Come. Eat. My visual sensors indicate weariness in your stance."
The soldiers looked at one another and weren't sure what to make of this situation. This was unexpected.
Reon, however, took the initiative and took a bowl of soup and a roll and stepped closer to the speaking powersuit. "You remembered to set a bowl for me too, this time."
The helmet turned in his direction. "Indignant Exclamatory: Of course I remembered, Master! I follow your orders."
Reon looked at the troops. "I came back with a squad of six of you two nights ago and he hadn't thought to set anything out for me." He then took a sip of soup. "Have some. You find the folks in the kitchens cook better when they're in a good mood."
Though they tried their hand in maintaining soldier's stoicism, one by one they went to the table and sat to partake.
In another room, an azure-skinned Chiss woman stood observing a live holographic feed of the interior of that room. Veca'zoam'uzii, or simply Veca, watched with some disapproval. Eorun came in a moment later and watched with her.
"His strategy is... too lenient," she said. "I mean the food is cheap and easy to make and all, but they don't deserve anything this good."
Eorun pondered that. "Well I dunno, try to think from his perspective. He used to be one of them, after all. And you read the report on the Starkiller Base."
"I know, I know..."
Veca had spent much of her time as a militia woman, then rebel operative when the First Order began exercising its extortionate rule to drain the planet of resources. She couldn't easily forget it. Yet there they were, led to victory by a former soldier of their Order on their own planet.
"Alright," Reon began, putting his soup down. "Who wants to tell me what my dear brother told you to do?"
The Stormtroopers stopped and looked at each other, then him, silently. Seeing that on one wanted to speak, Reon reached over his shoulder and behind his back, taking a magnetically attached weapon and setting it on the table.
There sat the former weapon of Exan Drell, his lightsaber. It's design comprised of two sections; the hilt and the ring. The ring was a perfect round disc and let itself spin along the trach the hilt was attached to, which ran down the center of the ring itself. Instead of a small red light, stretching two inches from the center, it was blue.
"You have absolutely nothing to lose by telling me," Reon said, pacing around them and the table. "Where are your forces ordered to gather?"
The powersuit with the droid brain observed their expressions. They all glanced at the dark skinned woman among them, who happened to be wearing the highest rank patch. Her eyes wandered on the lightsaber.
The droid started. "Observation: Perhaps the senior officer of this party would like to give an answer."
She responded to that and looked over at the droid. Reon stood across from her, on the other side of the table. The weapon was lifted by nothing and flew into his hand.
"The Sith temple on this planet," was her answer. From the observation room, Eorun and Veca looked at each other while Reon and the Stormtrooper locked gazes.
"Thank you," Reon said. "The guards will escort you out when you're ready."
The Force Adept left the room. Veca and Eorun left as well.
Reon got to work immediately. He made his way to the Capital building ahead of Eorun and Veca and started to review mapping data of the area. They found him leaning over a holographic map in the command center and trying to zoom in on where the Sith temple was, but could only go as far as the forest that surrounded it. The resolution could go no higher.
"You're not seriously thinking about attacking them, are you?" the boy more stated than asked.
"If the First Order is there, they're too well fortified," Veca explained. "We don't have the manpower for it."
"And what would be the point?"
Reon was clearly annoyed, but exercised patience and spoke calmly. "Baiting."
The two young fighters looked at one another.
The soldier rose his voice. "Are the long-range scanners working yet?"
"Not yet!" an officer reported.
The First Order sabotaged as much as they could when the resistance infilitrated and took control of the base.
Veca deduced Reon's thoughts. "Do you think Drell is there?"
"I feel it."
"Which means he must be..." Eorun asided. Reon nodded.
Reon shut off the display and sighed. "I'll need to take the Starlight, then..."
Eorun leaned on the table and looked concerned. "You're not going alone, are you?"
The soldier started for the hangar. The boy followed. "If I do run into him, it'll only be trouble if you go too. This is a reconnaissance flight."
"The scouts can do that, can't they?"
"Not if they're spotted. A pair of TIE fighters flying at them from the Capital wouldn't be welcomed. They'll shoot them down if they have air support. The Starlight's cloaking tech is better for the job anyway."
"What if you don't come back?"
Reon stopped. He turned and unzipped his left breast pocket, pulling out a small cylindrical device. He offered it to Eorun.
He took the device. "What is it?"
"An encrypted code cylinder. Master Cypher said if I was ever in a bad situation and needed to send a message, that would guarantee it would be sent."
"A message for you?"
They looked at each other for a long while.
"Do you... really think..."
Reon chuckled. "Of course not. I'm defintely coming back."
"Promise? We need you here."
The elder of the two stepped to the younger and gently gripped his shoulder. "I disagree. All I did was smuggle a shipment of guns and a handful of dedicated friends. They did all the work, not me."
Reon saw Veca watching them from the door of the command center. He looked back down at Eorun.
"You'll need each other more than another lightsaber. Remember that."
He turned and kept going towards the hangar. "I'm not planning on dying though, don't worry." One thousand kilometers away, through the dense and dangerous jungle, deep in a dark crater, there dwelt the monument of evil. Pyramidal in shape, cut out of black and glossy stone, streams of lava sinisterly colored the grounds around it. A ship, black as the obsidian floor, sat down near the ancient steps. At the height of the steps were a few dozen miserable looking Stormtroopers, denied entrance and forced to camp outside. Guarding the entryway were four Troopers clad in black armor.
Within the temple itself, four wandered its halls; a cape-clad Shadowtrooper, an Acolyte in black and grey, an armored and bald Blackguard, and a dark reflection of Reon, the Voidknight.
The Shadowtrooper Captain listened to his helmet's headset. "Sir, another squad has entered the creater. They have wounded."
"See that they're tended to," Exan ordered.
"Why haven't you ordered shuttlecraft to take them back to the ship?" Vor asked, curious. "Some of their blasters don't even work."
"Which remind me; have their remaining weapons destroyed."
The captain looked at him. "Sir?"
"And have them keep their helmets off."
"What are you planning, Drell?" Vor inquired.
"A psychology experiment."
"Inquiry:" HK-55 began, sitting at the controls of the Dark Starlight. "Why am I flying the ship, master?"
"Because..." Reon grunted over the intercom. "You're not programmed for repair work..."
"Statement: You should have brought a mechanic."
"None of them know how the ship's cloaking system works."
"Mistress Lishko does."
"We've gone over this, HK."
"I still do not compute how one female meatbag creating a smaller and useless meatbag requires so much processing power and time and renders them useless as well."
"I'm wondering if there's room in your data core for medical data..."
"It did not impede Mistress Xerska's exercises at all when she spawned her bloodline."
"I really don't need to know that..."
"A droid programmed to build another droid would not take nearly the amount of time it takes human meatbags."
"Who's been messing with your vocabulary subroutines? I thought you were done calling organics 'meatbags'."
"Calculation: I believe it is what meatbags call a joke. Master Cypher hid a packet of data in my software architecture with instructions to not inform you until you acknowledged the error. It was timed to go off after ten weeks."
"I'm going to have a long talk with him about computer slicing jokes when we get back to Lothal..."
"Theory: It could be the stage in Master Cypher's life cycle where he manifests instability in his mental processes. Many of Mistress Xerska's elderly colleagues and enemies manifested such."
"Maybe not. Maybe he just likes playing jokes on his students."
"Inquiry: Is the cloaking device operational again?"
"I think I've got it right. Try it."
The droid keyed in a command to the controls on the side and the lights dimmed.
"Report: Cloak at 76 percent funtionality. I calculate further repairs required within eighteen hours."
"I really wish my regular mechanic was here..."
"Blantant insult: At least she can repair a cloaking device properly."
The intercom shut off and Reon walked into the cockpit, donning his jacket and clipping his weapon belt on. He sat in the chair adjacent to HK-55 and took control. His attention was focused on the instruments and scanners, but something felt off and it came from the power suit assassin droid.
"HK, stand up, please."
The bulky droid's chair moved backwards and turned to let him out and stand.
"Now open. Frontwards."
Each outer plate clicked and started to open. Inside was the space to fit most adult life forms to pilor what was essentially a man-sized assault tank with two feet.
Taking up that space was Eorun Marr, who smiled nervously.
"And what happened to that little speech I gave you?" Reon reprimanded.
Eorun shrugged and stepped out of the power suit, letting it close. "I figured... just to make sure you did come back, I'd go with you and get you out of trouble in case the recon flight didn't go so well."
"You don't even know how to fly the ship!"
"So? The droid can."
Reon turned on HK as well. "And how did he convince you to let him in?"
"Explanation: The boy intercepted me when I entered the hangar and informed me that he had permission to reside within me for a tactical advantage. I calculated his reasoning and it is tactically sound."
The soldier sat back in his chair and sighed, covering his face with his hands, then started muttering. "I really, really want a hug from Tess right now..."
"TIE Fighters," Eorun said, looking out the window. Reon sat up and looked as well.
Two TIE Scout Fighters were flying low to the ground, barely over the treetops. They were on a course perpendicular to theirs and did not seem to detect the Starlight.