A thousand nebula swam in front of her vision, as Kish Roo Vas opened her eyes. Slowly a grey metallic surface came into stark clarity and the young Jedi sat bolt up right. Her chest heaved and she looked about expecting to see Vytal Neeshra ready to deliver the final blow. Instead she saw the welcome sight of the V98 transport ships’ interior, the same ship that She and Scion had used to travel to Tatooine from the Jedi temple on Yavin 4.
She steadied herself as relief washed over her, but with the relief also came curiosity. What exactly had happened? Her mind was all fogged up and a dull throb bounced around the inside of her skull.
Kish swung her legs over the edge of the bench she had been laid upon and froze. All around her the spartan living quarters of the Jedi transport spun, and she allowed the room to stop its wayward travel before she braved standing on her wobbly legs. Gingerly she made her way over to the stairs that led to the cabin of the vessel, and with each step she felt her strength returning to her.
Kish found Master Scion sitting in the pilots seat, his horned head bowed. Beyond him, Kish saw hyperspace ripping by the view port in a beautifully distorted myriad of blues, “Master?” Kish said silently moving forward to lay a hand on the edge of the pilots seat.
His clothes where singed and blackened in areas and he had a slight bruise developing under his right eye. At the sound of her voice his head tilted up and his amber eyes fluttered open, “Ah, good to see you up and well,” he said, “I trust you rested good?”
Kish felt a tension she hadn’t even been aware of relax in her stomach when she saw that Scion had been only resting. She swung the co-pilots seat around and plopped into it, “Very funny Master.”
“I thought so,” He replied as he turned his gaze out the view port. She could see in his eyes a deep love for space travel as was common among his species. Personally she despised it, but saw it as a necessary evil.
“So Master, would you mind telling me what exactly happened back there in that hangar?” Kish asked, “Because I rather doubt that Vytal had a change of heart about leaving us alive.”
Scion Dinn chuckled, “You’re doubt is well founded my apprentice. After she stunned us with a concussion grenade she made her escape and sprung the real trap, a bomb that was large enough to level the hangar. Even with knowing that it was coming it was everything I could do to redirect the blast with the force.”
Kish threw Scion a shocked expression, her jaw dropping, “Wait you knew that she was going to try an blow us to bits?”
“Of course I did, I wouldn’t have sent you in there alone if I hadn’t been sure that it was the only way to save you and still have the means to complete our mission,” It sounded as though Scion was pleading his case before a tribunal.
“I had a premonition before we moved into the hangar, I saw that we where not going to succeed in bringing the Mandolorian down, so I opted to plant a comm interceptor on her speeder bike and find out where she was getting her orders from,” Scion tapped a screen on the control panel before him, “See this is where her employers transmissions originate.”
Kish looked for her self and saw that Master Scion had already plotted a Hyperspace jump for the planet of Elion 5, some barren rock on the outer rim, “If that where true than why didn’t you tell me?” She asked.
Scion scoffed in a friendly manner, “Because of a reason that has been both my greatest complaint about you but also something I admire.”
Kish stared at him with expectation her eyebrows gaining height by the moment, “And that reason would be?”
Spinning the pilots chair about so that he could face his padawan directly, Scion answered, “You have been training under my tutelage to become a Jedi Sentinel for nearly your entire life, and in that time I have watched you excel in all but one field needed to become one of the finest Masters of this trade. At times we as Sentinels must use deception for the greater good, and that is why I didn’t tell you of my plan. Deception is below you my apprentice.”
It took Kish a moment to realize that her Master had not only taught her a pivotal lesson in her training, but he had also given her a huge complement, “Master I-I don’t know what to say.”
Scion spun back to the controls, “I would prefer you say nothing, you know how little I care for heart felt sentiment, but if you insist a thank you would suffice.”
From the twinkle in Scions eye she could tell that his words where that special breed of sarcastic humor he was known for, “Thank you Master,” Kish said.
“Now I can rest up, we should be there relatively soon and there is no telling what we will find when we get there,” Scion ordered and his head bowed again.
Kish watched in silence as her Master fell into a light slumber. She counted herself lucky to have Scion as a mentor, despite his quirky humor and unorthodox teaching methods he had been like a father to her. He had helped her cope with the loss of her real parents at the vengeful hands of a crime boss while she was the tender age of six years old. Now sixteen years later here she was nearing her trials to become a full fledged Jedi Sentinel.
Hyper space flashed in front of the view port bringing them closer to their mission, and a day that would change their lives forever.
A thousand bursts of lightning exploded in front of his vision, as Darth Callous opened his eyes. Slowly a tall and dark robed figure came into stark clarity looming over him, three feet of blade held in its right hand. The Sith sat bolt upright his chest heaving, lightsaber flying from his belt to his open and waiting palm. Before his thumb could hit the ignition, the figure changed color. Right in front of his eyes, black robes took on a blood red hue. The figure remained motionless, watching Callous from under an obscuring cowl.
Adrenaline surged through the Sith, as he nimbly pushed him self up and drew in his surroundings with his peripheral vision. He instantly recognized the dimly lit interior of his temple, but who was this?
“State your name,” Callous barked his lightsaber still held in front of him ready to be activated. The figure didn’t respond nor move a fraction for that matter. It appeared almost as if the being was made of stone.
No not stone, Callous realized upon closer inspection of the figure. It was made of sand. Thousands of particles from his temple floor had coalesced to form a flawless sculpture of a being that Callous had never seen before. It stood a head taller than he, with broad shoulders, the only other thing visible was its three fingered hands that poked out from the sleeves of its robes.
He took a step forward in an attempt to get a closer view under the beings cowl but the moment he did the form collapsed into a pile.
The door to his temple opened with an angry hiss and Callous could feel the guards enter the room. He turned to regard the pair. Both held blaster rifles
“Lord Callous is everything alright?” One of them asked, “We heard you shout.”
Callous nodded, “Yes everything is fine, I was simply practicing a technique. Tell me how long have I been in here?” He inquried slipping his lightsaber back onto his belt.
The guards looked to each other than back, “Three days Lord Callous. Are you sure that everything is fine?”
If these guards could only understand the powers that where at work here. The last thing he remembered before awakening on his temple floor, was leaving the pit and going to preform a session of Kathu Chaa. Now, knowing that he had three days unaccounted for, he felt certain the Voice had spoken to him but perhaps his mind was not strong enough to remember what it had conveyed. Or maybe this was a side effect of his meditation that he had never experienced prior to this. Though that didn’t explain the statuesque form that had been erected over his prone figure like some silent guardian, or messenger.
“Yes, yes. I am sure that everything is fine, now what about the smugglers, have we received word from them?” Callous asked.
It was the other guards turn to speak up, “Yes Lord Callous they arrived this morning, and are awaiting you in the hangar bay.”
Something twinged inside Callous, “And why was I not alerted of this development?” He spoke in a low tone, anger tugging at him like a begging child.
“We did not wish to disturb you again during your time within the temple. You seemed to be quite perturbed last time my Lord,” the first guard answered, his attitude portraying prideful diligence. Obviously he was quite happy with himself.
Callous held the anger at bay promising it to be sated, “And this was your idea I take it?” Callous asked motioning to the first guard.
“Yes my Lord,” he answered judging from his tone he expected reward for his thoughtfulness.
What he received was anything but. His body was flung across the way and slammed into the opposite wall. An agonized groan escaped him as pressure collected on his chest. His armor squealed in protest and a few buckles snapped under the strain.
Darth Callous strode forward his hand held out in front of him. His fingers curled, applying a twisting motion with the Force to all of the guards limbs. This elicited a scream from his victim that echoed down the hall, “There is no room in the Neo Sith Regime for spineless whelps who fear reprimand! Your orders where to notify me if the smugglers arrived,” Callous bellowed.
For a moment it sounded as thought the guard was attempting to apologize through the gurgling noise his chest was making. Callous doubled his Force application, and with a resounding snap the guard stopped moving. His body crumpled to the floor in a heap when Callous let him go. Briskly he turned to the other guard who stood mortified, “Have this mess cleaned up immediately, and have Ralgo Stek meet me in the hangar bay in twenty minutes.”
With that Callous headed down the hall toward the control room. He would meet the Mandolorian soon but first he had to contact Allious Brood, especially after his three day spell of forgotten meditation. He wouldn’t be surprise if the young Sith Assassin wasn’t up in arms ready to siege the planet after not hearing from him for so long.
The control room was silent except for the droids at each of their terminals, robotic fingers plugging away keeping the facility living. It didn’t take long for the transmission to go through and the intense features of Allious Brood appeared before him.
“Finally,” She said tersely, “What took you so long. I have been trying to hail you for days, I talked to Tothias and he reassured me that everything was fine but I don’t trust him in the slightest. Is everything ok Callous?”
“Indeed it is, Allious things are moving along rather well here, that is unless I should be expecting the company of Sith Hunters soon?” Callous said his eyebrows raising with curiosity.
“Well thats a complicated matter. In regards to whether or not this Mandolorians asset is a threat to us, I would say absolutely.” Allious looked away for a moment and fiddled with something off to her right, “I am sending you a recording of the altercation she had with the Jedi to let you decide. She is cunning that much is certain, but something doesn’t quite feel right about it.”
Callous knew better then to not trust the Assassins gut. Although young, she was powerful in the Force, “What do you mean Allious?” Callous asked.
“Well what I saw was her success, but what I feel is that she failed,” she answered, “But if she did fail the Jedi are masking their imprint within the Force exceptionally well, because after the Mandolorian made her move I could no longer sense their presence.”
“Hmmm it wouldn’t be the first time Sentinels where able to mask themselves,” Callous commented referring to the Sith hunters by their Order given titles. A small blue light appeared on the holocomm podium just below the disembodied figure of his compatriot, signaling that her recording had been received, “Very good Allious, I will be sure to review the footage and inform you of your next assignment.”
The Zabrak bowed her head in recognition of his compliment, “I shall be waiting Lord Callous.”
With the flip of a switch, he shut down the Holocomm and activated the recording, then proceeded to watch it with a critical eye. Not only had Vytal Neeshra preformed admirably but so had her prey. The young Jedi’s movements where fluid and graceful and decided upon in less than a fraction of a second. Than an Iktotchi appeared landing dramatically onto the speeder bike.
So we have a Jedi with a flare for theatrics, Callous thought smirking as he watched the Iktotchi leap from the vehicle and stalk forward toward Vytal along side his companion.
Something caught Callous’s eye and he stopped the footage. He made some adjustments to the recording and brought it back a few seconds to just before the Iktotcki had made his entrance. This time the area on the speeder where the Jedi’s left hand would be placed for balance during his landing was magnified. Callous let the recording play but slower this time.
He repeated this process several times until he was sure that what he saw was not some malfunctioning in the recording.
He watched as the Jedi placed a comm interceptor perfectly onto the speeder bike in a place that would have been invisble to Vytal whilst she rode away. From the view that the recording was taken from Callous had little trouble making it out. It was more than probable that the Mandolorian had no idea that the device was still on her craft, transmitting the coordinates of all her incoming comms to the Jedi. The rest of the recording he viewed just as critically and saw that the Iktotchi had taken measures to defend his fallen comrade from the blast of the explosion.
This changed everything. With the smugglers already here that meant that the Jedi where either already on the planet as well or would be arriving any minute. He would have to wait before using his newly acquired goods until after these Jedi where dealt with. Callous growled low in his throat, a raspy and grating sound.
If you want something done right than you better do it your self, he thought as he dialed up Ralgos personal comm. Callous was not so much angry with the failure as he was the interruption that it would now cause him. There would be time for casting blame later but for now there was matters to be seen to.
“Yes?” Ralgo’s voice came over the hand held device, a hint of boredom more than noticeable in the single word response.
“I am afraid that I will not be able to meet you in the Hangar as I said I was going to,” Callous informed him, “It would seem that the Jedi eluded Vytal after all.”
Instantly Ralgo responded, all boredom vanished from his voice, “Do you want me to find them?”
It was hard for Callous not to say the snide remarks that cropped up on his tongue, but he swallowed them down and instead stated, “No I will deal with the Jedi. What I want you to do is inspect my cargo and make sure that it is alright and see that no one goes near it.”
“I don’t even know what the cargo is, how will I know that its alright?”
“Trust me you’ll know,” Callous told him then shut down his comm. He had preparations to make for his impending company and probably had little time to complete them.
Even if he didn’t, he still had to admit he was excited to cross sabers with a Jedi once again, and plus this set back had a silver lining to it.