Posted 04 February 2017 - 10:24 AM
THE SCAR OF JEDHA
Apparently, back before the plague, they had built superweapons that could destroy whole worlds. The moon of Jedha was still there, but the damage wrought open it would take a million years to heal. Things did not change on planetary scales quickly.
There was still a dense asteroid field orbiting the moon from when an enormous amount of material had been thrown from the site the weapon had struck. As Neesa's piloting droid maneuvered through the dangerous field she was struck by how large the scar actually was. As if something had taken a bite out of the moon itself.
“Send out the scouts.”
Several small objects detached from the stealth shuttle and descended towards the scar. The Neti from the nearby world of Netaleon did not take kindly to people disturbing what had once been the destination for a billion pilgrimages.
“The probes have found a way deeper,” the droid spoke.
“Bring us down a kilometer away,” Neesa remarked. Back on Athiss they had forged artificial lightsaber crystals. Now she and Vrak had been sent away they had decided to investigate sources of Kyber crystals. Those on Jedha had apparently been mined away or vaporised, but Neesa wanted to confirm this herself with some sith spells of searching. Ilum would be much harder to reach.
A few kilometers from her ship, a hidden satellite started transmitting a report on the unauthorised transgression.
From within the scar itself Neesa found she could barely see the edges of the crater. It sent a shiver down her spine to consider such destructive power. Near the centre of the impact site itself was a network of tunnels that had formed where the moon had been cracked apart. Neesa kept the hood of her brown travelling cloak low to shield her pale skin from the sun. She looked for a crack that could lead underground, unaware of the Neti ships arriving at the edge of the sector.
Posted 06 February 2017 - 03:46 PM
Catching her breath, the young clone was glad to have left her furs in the scout ship in the basking heat. Her black and tan layers were enough to cover her modesty, but sparse enough to keep her cool as she could. The silver lightsaber from her old Master hung at her side and a rucksack was slung over her back.
The journals on Sojurn from Darth Ayra had mentioned the sacred Kyber crystals were once harvested on the moon to fuel lightsabers and super-weapons. What better way to push her training and knowledge by discovering a crystal of such power that she could claim it as her own.
So far, the expedition had turned up nothing. She had arrived at dawn, and stayed in the shadows and the crevices that led down to the unstable core; the result of a super-weapon that destroyed planets founded by none other then her Empire. The Empire that could destroy planets and shape moons. Joon knew there was no better place to start her evolution than here.
Now and then, a ship would pass over, and she was lay still, glaring up and following it with her amber eyes until it passed.
She was alone, and that was the best company.
Another ship flew low and came down over the lip of the far crater, the outskirts of the main blast, and dissapaered. Joon narrowed her eyes and picked herself up, ignoring the ship and continuing on along the edge of the cracks and deep canyons to find another area that attracted her to dig.
Posted 07 February 2017 - 09:54 AM
It amazed Neesa just how deep the crater was. She'd seen them before, shallow things, millions of years old and reclaimed by nature. This wasn't like that. A thousand years was a blip on galactic timescales.
Several probes had scanned beneath the surface and she had a notion of where to head, but being within such an enormous, man made landmark made her feel very small indeed. The most powerful sith she knew could perhaps lift a landspeeder. How much material had been vaporised or thrown into orbit in a fraction of a second?
Neesa out all dizzying thoughts of scale aside as she approached a crack in the ground. One slab of rock protruded up at a sharp angle and seemed to swallow the ground beneath it.
"Master?" An artificial voice in her ear.
"Neti warships have come to a halt at the perimeter of the asteroid belt. They're launching shuttles in this direction."
"Keep the ship hidden, I'm heading below ground. We can wait them out if need be."
Posted 07 February 2017 - 10:34 AM
She broke into a run along the edge, daring herself not to look down and trust her instinct to jump and weave across the gaps and pot-holes.
It didn’t last for long however as she skidded to a stop and kicked up some gravel and dust as she did. Squinting into the sky, arm raised to blot out the sun, a number of tiny dots were streaking down to the moon, and what looked like the scar itself. She stood and watched for a minute or so, and the broke off into various directions; left, right, back and straight on.
The one that came towards her was the catalyst to run.
And she did that, across the crevices and down the craters, up the rock and away from the incoming speeder.
Joon hopped and jumped down a gaping slab of rock in the ground, shielded by the terrain and standing on an outcropping that, if it gave way, would drop her down into the core through the boiling mist and molten rock.
She pressed her back to the cold hard rock and listened for the sound of the ship. The engines got louder as it passed over, the shadow dancing in front of her eyes on the opposite wall.
Posted 07 February 2017 - 08:11 PM
Neesa had felt out of place before the thrum of repulsors reached her. She was far too exposed her. Too much open terrain. Neesa's usual hunting ground was the urban environment. That spark of fear became ice in her veins. She'd never had the luxury of allowing her fears to rule her. When Neesa became afraid, she honed it into an unparalleled focus.
She heard something else with the engines. The cadence of running footsteps. She couldn't see anyone else from her hiding place out of the sun, but they couldn't be far.
A shuttle roared overhead, it slowed up and followed a lazy circle. A door on the side slid open and three Neti slid down to the ground. They were a dull green, shifting shapes that followed an almost humanoid pattern. She heard that if threatened they could be remarkably dangerous. And these ones were armed with weapons too heavy for a human to carry.
She swore and pushed herself further into the darkness.
Posted 08 February 2017 - 05:10 PM
Crouching, she peered over the edge and witnessed three creatures, that looked like their flesh was folding in on itself. Bulky looking creatures carrying weapons. Joon didn't move and slinked down back the way she came down the small incline.
A crunch alerted her and she span around, eyes glaring into the shade. She was certain her chest was vibrating with the pounding of her heart.
”Hello," she said into the void, noting the darker it got the deeper into the earth the crevice went.
She swallowed and looked back to the incline.
She would have to move, and soon.
Posted 09 February 2017 - 10:49 AM
There was a deep harmonic sound. As if a number of off-key horns were playing tunes in opposition. The language of the Neti. Apparently it required both sound and physical gestures to fully comprehend. They moved towards the whisper that had reached them on the wind. This had once been a sacred site for pilgrims from all corners of the galaxy. Now the Neti liked to keep it preserved, a reminder of what had happened. No one had been authorised to land, yet the proximity sensors had been triggered and the ship had picked up life forms down here.
“Get over here!” came a harsh whisper from the darkness. If Joon approached she would see that the shadow held a cave with no discernible end. But Neesa’s pale face was visible from within her cowl. She gestured towards the back of the cave. If they went deeper underground then at least the scanners wouldn’t pick them up.
The nagai had considered doing something to get the human caught by the neti, but in the end it had seemed more sensible to get them both out of the open than to see if the neti would leave after capturing just one person.
Posted 09 February 2017 - 03:22 PM
Joon span, amber eyes wide in surprise. She scanned, but saw nothing. A quick glance up to the lip as a strange noise could be heard. Music? A weapon? She swallowed and turned back to the voice.
Leaning forward, her eyes adjusted and there was a pale face face looking at her out of the darkness, a movement that was beckoning.
Inside, Joon didn't feel the person a threat. A fellow explorer caught by the new arrivals? A Dark Side follower? A Jedi youth? She didn't wait.
Skirting down the wall, boots edging one of over the other, hands skimming the loose rocks behind her, Joon went deeper into the crevice, which turned into a deep cave with rocks and what looked like building foundations sticking out at all angles.
”Who's there? Stop!" The clone hissed after the stranger.
With a small skip and hop, she jumped from the incline into the mouth of the cavern, hand at her side on her silver hilt.
Posted 10 February 2017 - 01:04 PM
"Watch out!" came the harsh whisper from the shadows. A silvery hand was visible moving up towards her. Outside the mouth of the cave one of the neti appeared. It called out towards them, this time a harsh bark as if some kind of order.
A crack resounded around the cavern, but it didn't come from the neti's weapon. A shard of rock hurtled past Joon and struck the neti at the centre of its height. The creature almost seemed to flow around the missile, yet was still dragged down by it. Neesa could only watch as her missile was pushed off the pinned creature. Those flowing tendrils that made up its form seemed to stretch out and expand. It started to grow to nearly twice the height it had been before.
"They don't take kindly to trespassers!" Neesa called out. "I'd run deeper if I were you!"
And with one more flash of light catching her features, the young sith turned and darted deeper into the cavern.
Posted 13 February 2017 - 04:45 AM
The woman called out behind her to run – and it sounded a good idea.
Joon turned back and half-hopped, half-glided down the gravel strewn incline into the cool crust of the planet, and never looked back. She leaped over a small gap to follow the mysterious woman in the tunnel.
”Stop…STOP! Who…are you!"
Joon called out, the momentum of her navigating the tunnel and debris too strong to stop sharply in her tracks.
Posted 13 February 2017 - 08:40 AM
Neesa came to an abrupt halt and almost had the other woman careening into her. In the half-light it was hard to make out the other woman’s features. She’d been given a better look back up at the mouth of the cave. She was older than Neesa by a good many years, but her figure suggested she was in good shape nonetheless. Being seventeen she had a slightly skewed perception of what being in the mid-thirties was like.
“Right now,” Neesa said in hushed tones. “I imagine all that really matter is that I’m not someone trying to kill you.”
She walked around Joon, canting her head as she listened back up the passage they’d followed down. “Their life form scanners shouldn’t be able to penetrate much rock.” After a moment’s consideration she decided there wasn’t much benefit to lying.
“Anyway…my name is Neesa. I was coming to have a look deep down and see if any Kyber had survived. The Neti get quite upset about people visiting here apparently, but I didn’t think they’d be watching.”
Posted 13 February 2017 - 10:24 AM
”If you were trying to kill me you’d be dead already," she remarked scornfully.
The girl moved around all the time, looking for something and listening.
”So what are those things, and what do YOU want those crystals for? You Sith?"
She had nothing against the Sith at all – she just wanted to get whose side of the fight this Neesa was on.
Posted 14 February 2017 - 04:10 AM
"Neti," she replied. "Plant like life forms. Livena couple of systems over but have been aggressively defending the sector recently."
Neesa came to stand quite still before the woman. Her hands remained by her sides, but didn't stray too far from the hilts of the scimitars that hung from her belt. Neesa cast an approaching eye over her after her bold statements. She didn't need a spell to pick up the dark side aura.
"Of sorts. And I haven't decided yet. I merely wanted to determine if there was any left. I have three probes scanning the underground but I thought I would see for myself."
Again, those hawkish eyes gave Joona a once over. "And you?"
Posted 14 February 2017 - 04:23 AM
”Not Sith. Not yet. Imperial clone. Searching for the crystals my former Master told me about what could be used to power a lightsaber or a weapon. I simply wanted to find one to prove I could locate them on my own."
She copied the girl and looked her up and down. She was well prepared if she had probes – a real explorer.
”My name is Joon," she said flatly. ”We are not enemies. I know that much."
People shook hands. She’d seen that before. So, she extended her hand.
Posted 14 February 2017 - 07:14 AM
Thin, black eyebrows lowered as she gave the hand a curious look. If Joon was a swordsman she would have noticed that Neesa's trailing foot slid back just an inch, as if preparing to take up a stance. It returned to its original position as the nagai realised what was happening.
She took the offered hand and gave it an awkward, stiff shake. She'd never met a clone before. Somewhere she had read there had been many more clones once upon a time. An entirely galactic war fought with them.
"I have a feeling we're not done with them yet," she said as she turned back towards the passage down. "If they don't send any more soldiers down after us they'll be looking when we head back up."
She came to the end of the gravel run they'd been heading down. There was a narrow crack to squeeze through. The map the probes were building hadn't suggested it would be so tight.
"So which empire is that?" she asked.
Posted 15 February 2017 - 07:19 AM
”What do you mean, which Empire? Don’t be so ignorant – the Empire that had never died over hundreds of years. The Empire that bore the First Order, and the Empire that will return once more from the ashes of those fallen before it."
Everytime someone questioned the Empire, it made Joon’s heart sag. Was her beloved Empire really such an unknown force now? Was the grip it held looser than ever?
”I was made to protect the Empire’s forces and destroy the Jedi at all costs, and so that is what I must do. It is all I have known. What’s your story? Who is your keeper?"
Posted 15 February 2017 - 09:40 AM
Neesa couldn't reply for a moment as she breathed out to squeeze between the two slabs of rock. She had to use her hands and feet to drag herself through to the other side. The sound of her drawing in a deep breath when she was freed filled the chamber.
"Alright," she replied. "Consider me ignorant. Which one of the factions that claims to be the Empire is the one you fight for? What sector?" She was aware of several groups. There had been the One Sith and their Dark Lord, the New Order, the Sith Empire before that. Right now she knew there was an Iron Empire (whatever that meant) and the First Order.
Neesa gave a noncommital shrug. "I just work for a small group of sith who like to stay relatively unnoticed."
Posted 15 February 2017 - 09:47 AM
”None of those imitators, and not a Sith Order that’s for sure. The Imperial Remnant now operates from Kamino, and continues the legacy laid before them by Sheev Palpatine, former Emperor and one who showed the galaxy how an empire truly works. Our time will come, and the Sith will join with us to form a front against tyranny and push back the Jedi Knights."
Coming forward, Joon copied the Sith in squeezing through. For a moment it felt like she was wedged tight, but had to rock her body and use her boots to dig in and drag the gravel to push her along, clawing at the other side.
With a burst of breath, she stumbled through, frowning and rubbing down her messy clothes.
”Why stay unnoticed? Aren’t the Sith proud or willing to let the galaxy know of their might? Why hide? There will never be a right time to strike so you may as well strike back now."
Posted 15 February 2017 - 12:42 PM
Neesa arched an eyebrow as the waited for the woman to work free. If she had been more well travelled she might have linked cloning and kamino together in her mind, but no such connection existed.
"Every plan starts somewhere," she said. "If I planned to take over the galaxy for myself I wouldn't pick up my sword and run at the current galactic leaders with sword in hand tomorrow. Just because they're unnoticed now, does not mean that is the plan for tomorrow."
She crossed her arms over her chest, in her mind a gesture that looked quite unthreatening.
"And who is it that wishes to be emperor of all that you follow?"
Posted 17 February 2017 - 03:51 AM
”I…I can’t say I know, but they are out there somewhere. Leading. And I will follow…"
With a frustrated sigh, Joon shook her head and turned away, frustrated with the lack of knowledge she had on her Empire that seemed to be in a weak state and practically unknown to the people she had met.
”Well what’s YOUR story? Who do you follow? Why? What for?"
Her voice was sharp and snappy.