I don’t mind “flying”, the Imperial Master thought as the Arian hurtled him through the air. But this is more like suicide! Following the trajectory he was placed on while telekinetically influencing the wind to keep himself on track, Zaryk found himself aimed for a position right between Gojira’s eyes.
The creature was coming closer.
Hert Taakra, Neimoidian deserter of the One Sith, stared in dread. This was Mos Ertha, an outskirt city that had no fear of rival Hutt clans or Tuskens. They had stood up to the Sith before, and the denizens of Mos Ertha had no fear of any krayt dragon.
Hert, of course, knew better. He had seen what Gojira could do. If it weren’t for what would happen if Darth Maladi or Darth Krayt found out he was still alive, he would be running, screaming, doing whatever it took to get away from the outpost. He owned no ship, but he could certainly use a speeder to escape and send some fool to search the wreckage for him.
When Gojira burned away the spaceport, aiming its breath at some sort of flying man, Hert’s fear of the One Sith was replaced by his fear of immediate death. Odds are, he wasn’t going to live long enough for Maladi to find him.
Instead of filling him with relief, the thought instead filled the Neimoidian with dread. He panicked, and began running toward his new home, where his speeder was kept. Others were beginning to fear the creature now, and as he ran through the streets, Hert wondered why he was the only one not looking back.
“Gojira is coming! Run for your rives! Gojira is going to kirr us arr!”
Taking a deep breath in for her center, Katanra exhaled as she pushed out with both her arms and her mind. The air, sand, and fire responded and moved forward in a horrible fury towards Gojira, effectively sandblasting the great dragon. Gojira reared back in pain, almost frozen against the glass particle filled heat storm. Katanra opened her eyes to see an explosion erupt on the krayt’s right shoulder and spotted the Mandalorian warrior on a nearby cliff standing up to check the damage that had be wrought.
Hmm, not bad. But it’s time to finish this fight.
Gojira had stumbled into the settlement’s main square and had been knocking over and stomping on various buildings and beings. Katanra was still hovering above the scene while Zaryk had managed to gain purchase on the great beast’s head. Diving down to him, Katanra seemingly startled him by her sudden reappearance. Placing one hand over his sword hand and another over the amulet he wore around his neck she formed herself into a living link between herself, the crystals on both her and Zaryk’s person and the lightsaber held within their grasp. Katanra felt Zaryk waiver then begin to move the saber towards the middle of the staggering dragon’s skull, in between the eyes. Three presences became two and then two became one as the lightsaber was plunged deep into the beasts’ skull and brain.
Katanra struggled to maintain consciousness as Gojira’s life faded. Her connection to the crystal had overwhelmed her and she felt her head spinning. But she knew that Zaryk must have felt it too, for as all she lost her grip on consciousness she felt him reach out for her. The two Force sensitives fell away from Gojira as he toppled onto the pagoda of the settlement. With a great shake of the earth, Gojira fell and remained forever still.
A short distance from the beast, Katanra had fallen as well. Not in death, but she remained still from the pure power of the Dark Side she had encountered.
With his heightened combat senses, Zaryk could almost see a neon trail of the dragon’s footprints. The trail led back and forth across the area where they had battled the creature, and then off into the desert. If he focused, he could just barely sense the source of the murky darkness that now covered the planet in the Force.
After finding her lost love’s thread, Katanra bound it unto her own. She let his power feed off her own until she could almost feel his embrace around her. That is, she did feel it until a physical touch intruded her meditation. Summoned instantly to the waking world Katanra grabbed the hand that held the scanning device over her in an instinctive action.
However, once sensing that it was the warrior from the dunes, Katanra sat and relaxed her grip. Also sensing the anxiousness of the Mando warrior at her awakening she said a few words to put her at ease. “Udesii mando’ade, ner akaan nu par gar.”
Getting to her feet, she nodded towards the scanner that was clenched in the Mando’s hand. “I would be surprised if you found who I am in there. Very surprised.”
Nodding her thanks for the Mandalorian for not killing her while she was unconscious, Katanra walked slowly to accommodate a slight limp. Feeding her anger for her injuries and against the ultimate cause of them into the Dark Side, she gained strength to overcome her weaknesses. There is no pain where strength lies. The question is, are you strong?
Coming to stand at Zaryk’s side, she reached over to caress the gemstone that responded to her touch. Katanra sensed that he was feeling some of the residual power he tapped into during the brief meld and savoring the experience.
“I believe we might have the same goal here, pretender.” She said softly, “I want Krayt’s head on a platter, and the sooner the better. But before we can blow the reactor core, we must get through the shields.”
Leaning in close to whisper in his ear and let her suggestion float past his objections she continued. “I can find his lair here. We both know what needs to be done, for the sake of the galaxy.”
His eyes bored into the Sith Lord in front of him. She was an enigma, and no friend. She wanted his body, not for her, but for her ally, the one trapped in the amulet. She had imbued him with physical power, but not intentionally- in feeding power to the amulet, she had turned it into a true Sith artifact.
Still, Katanra was powerful. And angry. And not someone he wished to disrespect, at least while she was able to be an ally. “Lead on, Milady,” he bowed politely, sounding slightly robotic as he forced courteousness he didn’t truly feel into his voice. Manners didn’t kill Sith; lightsabers did.
As Katanra bared her teeth threateningly in response, Zaryk turned his attention to the merc from Fondor. Something in the Force told Zaryk that Katanra’s threat, while very real, was not meant to be intended as immediate as it seemed. Although he didn’t understand it, the second the Imperial Knight knew he wasn’t under immediate danger, he dismissed it from his mind.
Focus on the here and now.
Zaryk looked over at the Mando Merc. He had been unable to find much about her in the archives, but he knew she was more than she more than she seemed. Force Sensitive, at that. From his cloak, Zaryk revealed what he was sure it would take to motivate her- a credchip. “Hey, Mando, want to blow some stuff up?” he offered.
Katanra shook her head at Zaryk’s enlistment of the Mando female’s services. He still doesn’t trust in his own abilities? At any rate, the female might prove useful. Perhaps even in more ways than she can imagine.
Still, she was impressed at the way the Mando conducted herself. Her inquiry showed a willingness to plan, to control, and with that came cunning. Such a question as hers deserves a informational answer.
Knowing that the pretender Sith would not willingly choose to use the gifts her beloved’s amulet opened up to him, Katanra placed a gloved hand on Zaryk’s shoulder. The amulet around his neck started to glow and she felt her love’s presence rise and his power whisper to her.
“Persuasive Demoness, use your power. Show him what he vainly tries to resist, demonstrate the power of the Dark Side.”
Obliging the command from the only one she allowed to command her, Katanra brushed against Zaryk’s mind. She saw that he could sense the trail that Gojira had blazed, the path that had brought him forth. Opening herself to the Dark Side and taking Zaryk along with her, she followed the path with her mind’s eye. Skipping over the various stops where the dragon had consumed it’s prey, they eventually found their objective. Relaying what she saw, Katanra spoke. “The location we seek is the entrance to a underground cavern. Hewn out of the canyon’s walls, the cave is simply defended, but the defenses are well hidden. Two turrets guard the entrance and there are few guards, so as to not disturb the dragon. The true objective lies behind the krayt’s nest, hidden within the tunnels carved out of the cliff side.”
Withdrawing from Zaryk’s mind, Katanra let him chew over the power he would have felt during this lighter form of darkvision. Doubtless he would have sensed her love directing things, or even her own true power. Perhaps it would open his mind to the power he held, perhaps not. However, Katanra pushed these thoughts aside to focus on the present.
“I suggest that we go in on foot,” She said. “I’m sure that any mechanics we use to approach would set off alarms set in place.” Turning to Zaryk, she gave him her species’ version of a smile. “Unless, Lord Helos, you have a better plan?”
Gesturing an open hand in invitation to the Mando female she continued, “I am open to ideas at this point.”
Zaryk’s mind was still focused with amazing clarity on his mission. He hoped he could maintain this state when he faced the Sith, but he knew better than to doubt it or even think closely about it. Ideas floated through his mind, of the Arian visage gliding in a V shape over the sand… no, wait… not her shape…
“Milady,” he said, somewhat more organically. “You’re a skilled illusionist, are you not?”
Katanra nodded, and Zaryk explained his plan. It was fairly simple, so he went into details- approach vectors, angle of attack, and other things that he would have tried to explain even if he had known that the Sith Lady’s free-ranging mind was completely incapable of caring where he thought they should fly in from.
After a minute or so, Zaryk began to feel a presence baring down on him. Someone was staring at him, pretty intently, losing patience…
Then it hit him. The Imperial Knight had been so caught up in his explanation, that he forgot about the mercenary. He absently dry-swallowed one of the tablets she had given him, and then felt something in the Force. It almost felt like she was… clearing her throat? Why would she… oh.
The Imperial paused his explanation, and Katanra perked up. Really, she was growing quite tired of all the numbers he was throwing around. It was quite simple… carry the two armored beings, cloaked in the illusionary mantle of Gojira, through the air, in the sweltering heat, to the Sith lair. Nothing she couldn’t do easily enough.
The Sith Lord watched as the half-Echani fumbled through his cloak and removed a data holocron, which he activated for the Merc. A number of Sith, starting with the unknown and insignificant- some not even worthy of the “Darth” title- ranging through the well-known and powerful, were described by the holocron. The Sith had one thing in common- all were skilled at using Yuuzhan Vong biotechnology and Sith alchemy in concert. One name stood out to the Arian Sith Master- Darth Maladi, one of the One Sith’s most powerful minions.
She glanced at the mercenary, who betrayed no emotion as she slipped on her helmet. A professional- Katanra admired that. She wondered what it felt like, to call someone your boss one day and kill them for money the next. Then again, she supposed it wasn’t too dissimilar to her own stint with the One Sith.
Katanra looked at the female and nodded. “I don’t see any issues with that. Just one thing, I can only carry one of you.”
Turning to Zaryk, she bore into him with her gaze. “Do not think I care for your safety just because you carry that amulet. Once we are inside that lair you are on your own. In my experience numbers to not block blaster bolts, lightsabers do. I suggest you find a way to figure out how to stop over-thinking vectors and angles and focus on the fact that you are going to be facing off against most, if not all of the Sith you’ve listed.”
“And you’d better hold on to me. If you fall, it’s your own stupid fault and I’m not coming back rescue you.”
Summoning the beginnings of the illusion that would serve as their cover, Katanra sized the speeder that the Merc would be using. As the sand started to swirl and the shadows came forth into the fast forming shape of Gojira she spoke to the Mando again. “If you keep within the back wash of sand, it may give you enough cover. Same warning to you as Helos: Keep up or be left behind.”
The illusion formed, Katanra reached out through the shadows and grabbed Zaryk’s arm. Pulling him through the illusion must have been an interesting sight, but she didn’t dwell on it for long. After making sure the pretender Sith had a decent hold Katanra took to the sky, the Gojira shadow stirring the sand as it lifted with her.
The journey to the Sith lair was under way.
Darth Kir’teros saw the approaching darkness and almost panicked. A sand storm was coming! No, she realized quickly, it was merely the Guardian. The dragon, a mixture of Tatooine nature, Sith experiments and Yuuzhan Vong biotechnology just like the one who named it, was as much of an enigma to the scientists and alchemists at the laboratory as the Sith Lord named after the dragon’s species. Kir’teros was known to tend to the dragon from time to time, but she would never pretend to be able to control it to any extent.
The dragon landed, thankfully, without coming into contact with the hidden lab. The Sith Lady watching considered approaching it, but then she felt something in the Force. Something wasn’t right, wasn’t the Guardian. Something wasn’t-
Zaryk felt the illusion around him dissipate just as his silver blade entered the lower abdomen of the Sith in front of him. She cried out in surprise as she saw his blade, and died as she saw in face. For a brief moment, the Imperial Knight wondered if his ally, Darth Katanra, had timed that intentionally, attempting to addict him to the look of surprise on a dying foe’s face.
It took only a glance in the Arian’s direction to realize that far from attempting to seduce him any longer, she simply didn’t care what happened to him. Like a bat straight out of the Corellian proverb’s hell, she tore through the enemy lines, twirling her pair of blades (and at times, it seemed, a quartet of such weapons) through their enemies. Zaryk attacked just as aggressively, if less successfully- he cut down three minor Sith before he got a feeling in the Force that he ought to move.
Zaryk wasn’t sure if the Sith Lord to his side was intending to unleash some devastating Dark Side power against her kind, or if the mercenary behind him was planning to do the Mando thing and blow everybody up, but this second it didn’t matter. Catapulting off of an unsuspecting Sith- a particularly nasty Makurth whose sole purpose at the installation was to prevent the exact actions the Imperial Knight and his companions had come to cause- Zaryk leaped to safety.