Chapter XIII - Attrition
(part I)
 

"I sense this is only the beginning of a greater threat."
~Lance~









Versai Chronicles “Deception” - Chapter XIII – Attrition

(SPECIAL NOTES – Due to AOTC revealing Obi has another lightsaber, all references to “Obi Wan’s Second Lightsaber” refer to the one used in A New Hope.
The Vong do not exist in Deception, and “IPL” is Senator Organa, contrary to the canon books.)
 

INTRODUCTION
 

   They stood across from one another as each fighter drew in their breathes leading the final showdown between them…On the far right stood the incarnation of evil and malevolence, now unmasked he stood with his brows arched downward like two sinking horns, stalking his prey as he had done from the start of his dead mother Vachon’s divine interference and guidance. After the months of planning and years of living behind the mask of Dark Lord Quillion, Cire finally had his wish…he had Val one on one in a last ditch effort to prove he had evolved beyond the meager title his teacher had placed upon him.

The words “third rate” boiled Cire’s blood as his teal eyes shimmered with playful delight from the dark pits surrounding them, sizing up his opponent carefully but eagerly. Many a time Cire in his own mind thought that he could snuff Val’s life out faster then fingers to the wick of lit candle, and yet his mother insisted…no, she DEMANDED that he wait…always wait. In Versai Tech, on Mos Espa, in the Versai Mansion leveled by the assault of his Killian invasion…even down to Sara’s very life.

Cire was forced to heed to his mother’s wishes and wait…

However now the moment had arrived where her voice stood silent, he was free to indulge his deepest desire and that desire was simple…defeat his teacher and become the Master. Cire’s eyes shifted towards the shimmering glow of Obi Wan’s lightsaber extended in Val’s lightly clenched hand. Cire could sense the tension in Val’s mind…the anger…the hatred, stepping on the border between hero and becoming what he hated most…the sadistic slayer of Jedi, and the true power and evil Val could master at his whim though too heroic to give in.

Cire arrogantly viewed Val’s relentless determination to evade the dark side as a weakness. Perhaps it was the fact Val would never weave his soul into the darkness of the power available to him that allowed Cire to defeat him as Quillion. Still the victory was Quillion’s, not Cire’s own…he had hid behind his mask of deception to lure his prey and he was successful, torturing his victim to the very limits of human endurance…so close, inches from death’s grip, Cire could have ended Val’s life in a shower of crimson and a flash of mind shattering light…but no.

Death in such a state was too easy. Vachon knew this well…she being a ruthless Sith Witch in her lifetime extracted the maximum amount of mental, physical, and emotional pain as she could before taking life. However oddly since the occurrences of Insurrection her voice remained silent. Cire craned his devilish gaze from Val, to Terra, still unconscious within the now devastated and utterly useless “X chair”. He could sense her life hanging in the balance before…but now it seemed to stabilize, his thoughts thinking that maybe the spoiled little brat had learned its not nice to play rough with her Uncle. The heated rivalry between Val and Cire ran deep…twenty years deep in fact.

They had unfinished business and despite the running charge towards each other prior, Sith sword vs lightsaber it always ended the same. Cire would turn chicken and flip out of the way and hope he struck something and Val even at forty-five years old was a sharp as ever to deliver his own defensive counter. Sure they had burst into a fury of shimmering metal impacting blazing blue, but heaving and distanced both knew that to gain a victory and their destiny, they needed to re-evaluate their strategy to break the stalemate.

Val’s eyes narrowed like a tiger stalking its prey…he stood to the far left with his saber held alongside his face at a slightly bent forty-five degree angle, ready to spin at a moment’s notice should Cire’s boots move one inch along the floor. It was experience that allowed Val to survive his countless fights, even with extensive injuries he still bested his opponents in one form or another. His blood still boiled night after night wondering if he had won the battle for his locket in the forest, if Gen would be alive today. It was a battle that should have never occurred in the first place, but that decision was out of Val’s hands. Destiny took Gen from his side which is the main reason Val chooses to defy it time and time again. Val’s hair cascaded along his shoulders as the torches spaced evenly along the cold, steel wall behind him cast his figure in a sort of heroic silhouette. The only change was the shaft of blue light, casting little detail on his facial features, making him all the more dangerous to Cire standing with his Sith Sword along his side, running one of his hands under his graying goatee.

Images ran through his mind…so much happening so quickly as he kept his feet planted one foot forward and one foot back. It seemed like only yesterday he was sitting alone in his mansion, sipping Endor Ale and reflecting on the past…now fate had forced him back into action, to settle the issues of the past. As Val’s eyes craned upward to the catwalks above, his memory flashed back to the horrified gaze of shock Lord Efface had before his body was severed vertically, the sounds still fresh in his mind of two separated saber hilts clanging to the floor for the final time echoing the defeat of their master each blade fading into the silence of death.

His mind raced with a new image as he gazed about the room, waiting for Cire to make his next assault…he wondered what would become of Lance Jade and his other allies out of the Citadel. At one time during his lust for vengeance, he believed that the battle between Quillion and himself was personal but now with Sara’s life in question and imprisoned in a block of carbonite, and Terra a girl he knew hated him for the death of her mother, dangerously close to being reunited with her…it was no longer a selfish quest to avenge his sister’s suffering, it was a quest to purge the threat of Cire and his Killian faction from everyone, including Versai Tech.

For all the people who died in the raid on VT, when the five towers were leveled and all the faces of agony and suffering he had witnessed…the look of horror on Sara’s face when 8D8 ran her through with its blade…it all fueled Val’s purpose, his quest. Fate now revealed to him that in order to exist in the society he had come to despise and for the most part generalize…he had to bring himself into its world and adapt. Whether its technology or trusting individuals he’s not fought along wide with before, if he loses his battle…if Cire and his sadistic mother Vachon won, everything that was built from reunions to corporations would be lost.

Defeat is a word Val refused to accept…

Failure was not an option, for the sake of his family, friends, and what could be or what fate intends to reveal to him, at all costs he had to win this war and end it.

The war however was not his alone to fight. Already on route at the command of President Jade, the first fleet of Versai Tech ships traveled through the gates of hyperspace…heading to liberate Xyquine’s captured hero. Fate has a funny way of choosing its sides however…since the dawn of man and the birth of destiny it has always placed both sides of the spectrum, watching the forces of good and evil battle one another…when one side was out of balance, fate would preserve equality in some form or another to see that both good and evil would always exist and conflict would never completely vanish. This was destiny and fate and eternal struggle to defeat the forces of darkness for a time…only to face its rebirth in some new form light years away.

Ironic how good wishes to triumph over evil and just when you think that one side dominates the other a new threat emerges. At present Val was holding all the cards. Cire had Sara trapped and Corrie and Terra were far too damaged to be much of a threat, but Val had bested Cire on a more personal level and gave him a taste of what it is to love and to lose that love.

Lying centered between Cire and Val, a little out of their paths was the crumpled, flechette riddled form of Agen T’Negun, the would be clone of Gen Zeridian now reduced to a heap of destruction at Val’s wrath. Was it desperation or was it poetic justice that seduced Val into pulling the trigger and taking Agen’s life…was it his way of coming to grips with the reality that how badly he wanted it, Gen Zeridian could never truly return to him? Was it his slap in the face of The Cure’s torturous temptation to him?

In the absence of love there was only pain for Val…Whether he wanted her or not, it still remained the same…destiny denied love…The Curse placed by Vachon was built upon hatred and rage, and love was the most powerful emotion of all but with as much pleasure and happiness it could bring to a couple, used by Vachon its most deadly facets had seduced Cire, Krevlin and others into maintaining her power, even beyond death…love for Val brought pain and suffering….very little joy.

That pain would now spread to Lance Jade within his office. He had trusted Tula An from the moment she was injured, akin to Isis he stayed with her and watched her as best he could, burning with a hatred to hunt down Lord Jenner and make him pay for his trail of bloodshed that wove through Gabriel, Mitch and Marc. Love seemed to blossom between Tula and Lance, but just as quickly as it flourished it was not an attraction that fed its growth but pure, malevolent, evil.

Tula had blinded Lance to the truth that claimed the lives of innocents in Versai Tech. As Quillion had pointed out many times before…women were the ultimate assassin, from birth given the power to enslave a man, blind him, seduce him to her wishes, and if desired cast him away. Such was the case with Tula when she drove her pink lightsaber through Lance’s shoulder.

If fate was keeping the forces of evil in balance though, then it would make prefect sense that Michael Angilis was able to get the right information from Marc in time to make that crucial shot that turned the tide and saved Lance’s life from extinction. With Tula, Jenner, and Agen dead…with Val’s location known and a flurry of ships on route, good was winning and the forces of darkness were losing the war. If it is destiny and fate that determines the outcome of this entire menagerie of events then what is there left to fight for?

Have the powers of good triumphed? Will Cire finally meet his end now that his empire is crumbling around him? Is it destiny that sees this as Cire’s final curtain and put Vachon to rest forever?

Or…

Is in fact the very sequence of events yet another illusion of victory all together? We know that Cire is clever and his mother vicious and possess a certain degree of farseeing, why does she remain silent? What is she planning…would she abandon her son and admit defeat? More importantly…what does the still deadly clone machine that appears to have taken on a life of its own through its blood red LCD screen have to do with fate’s plan?

Death, loss, love, family, vengeance, insurrection…

It all boils down to the last aspect of destiny’s game…Who will survive when darkness falls? Who will live to see the future and who will meet their final resting place? Make no mistake, this is where everything must come to a head and loose ends must be tied up.

It is always darkest before the dawn…

Even as the Versai Tech fleet closes in on their destination…a predator waits in the shadows.

Is it time for Cire and The Killian to meet Attrition?

You are about to find out…
 

VC Deception – Chapter XIII - Attrition
 

EXTERIOR:  XYQUINE – “LABYRINTH” VSD

The stars shimmer in various speckles of light, dotted amidst a sea of black. The planet of Xyquine, purple in color with its sudden climatic electrical storms that swirl upon its surface casts an eerie violet glow on the gaseous clouds stirring in the emptiness of space. From above, the surface of Xyquine cannot be seen, nor scanned by ship devices, as a thick protective layer of clouds blankets and shields the exact location of the Killian Citadel on the surface of the gloomy planet. At first glance, the sky broods with impending activity…destiny picking its battle ground to unveil its plan for the souls that tread here.

Suddenly the scene shifts to the interior deck of a Imperial Star Destroyer. The twin command pits falling to the left and right of a central, gray steel walkway where a solitary figure glances out to the streaking blue lines of hyperspace. His orders were simple given by President Jade. As Captain of the small fleet of ships sent to Xyquine specifically ordered to rescue the CEO if Versai Tech, it was his duty to come home successful. Even as the figure in a purple and blue uniform treads from one window to the other, shifting his gaze to the endless stream of light, he knows the destination lies only seconds away and once revealed…he expected the worst, but what he would come to discover would vastly surpass any of Lance Jade or the Republic’s expectations.

OFFICER – (rushing to the Captain’s side, saluting) Sir! We are moments away from the target area, our ships are standing by as you have requested and fighters are ready for launch. We await your command once we emerge from hyperspace.

The Captain canes his deep yellow eyes towards the officer, decked out in only a pure purple attire and one strip upon his coat sleeve, signifying a much lower rank then the higher staff who bare gold or silver pin stripes and bars upon their uniforms.

CAPTAIN – (nodding slightly) Once we have exited hyperspace, order the other vessels to assume a delta formation. I want my flagship protected. We shall emerge from the back, while three ISD’s will align below, aft, and port.

The officer watches the captain, writing down his orders at great speed on a illuminated tablet. The tablet is able to transmit his written words to the other ship members who track it, making a instantaneous form of communication through specially beamed satellite transmissions.

CAPTAIN – (pausing a moment) As for the other ships, we will take no chances. We do not know the extent of what to expect beyond the data from the Versai Tech attack, therefore we will keep our weapons online and primed for deployment. The rest of our ships will assume delta patterns and cover the left, right, and front of us, this way this ship will remain safe while others fend off an attack, should we need to contact home base, we will have adequate time.

OFFICER – (nodding slowly) The other ships have already transmitted their understanding, you should see them take the appropriate formations momentarily…We will…(cut off)

CAPTAIN – Shhh…it’s time.

As the officer is plunged into silence, the Captain glances out his window watching the streaming stars begin to slow in their trajectory, becoming more distinguished as dots of burning light rather then elongated lines, the fleet sent by VT having closed its distance with Xyquine.

FLEET NUMBERS

1 ISD
2 ISD2’s
1 VSD
2 Carracks
2 Escort Carriers
1 Lancer

A wedge of three Imperial Star Destroyers; the lead one a Mark II emerge into real space (the slowing down, then materializing into normal space travel). Below, aft, and to port, another wedge formed of a Lancer flanked by two Carracks also reverts into real space. Simultaneously aft, above, and to starboard of the Star Destroyers, a third wedge appears. This one formed of a VSD and a pair of Escort Carriers. Each of the three ISD’s deploy a squadron of TIE fighters, and the Carracks also release four fighters from their undersides. All the ships begin to examine their surroundings.

The Captain gazes out to the blanket of stars, moving from one window to the next as a look of concern begins to spread through his facial regions. His eyes at first look normal, then narrow as if focusing on something out of clarity…a feeling of dread washing over him and yet as reality would show there was no reason for the fear…but deep inside his instincts, perhaps the force was warning him of impending danger.

The Captain glances out the window and narrows his eyes, speaking blindly to whomever can hear him, which at present is only the officer seen earlier.

CAPTAIN – Are you sure this is the correct area? Did the ships coordinates become disrupted?

OFFICER – (blinks) No Sir, I’m certain all is on schedule, we are where we need to be. Why would you think otherwise?

The Captain shoots a glare towards the officer and drags him by the collar to look out the window, into the blanket of space. Xyquine’s violet aura is visible along the far right corner of the view port.

CAPTAIN – We came prepared, we’ve launched our fighters…put our weapons on high alert to do what? Shoot at comets? Look for yourself…and tell me the problem with this picture.

The officer swallows hard and nervously slides his trembling hand along the smooth transparency of the view port window, his eyes searching for the answer he knows if answered incorrectly would result in a penalty on his quest for advancement.

OFFICER – (voice trembles) I…I don’t see anything…nothing at all.

CAPTAIN – Exactly my point! There is the Killian home world and out there isn’t one ship in sight! This does not make sense! (shouting to another officer) SCANS?

Another officer speaks to the captain off screen, his eyes are downcast glancing to a control monitor, a ear piece in his ear linked up with the other vessels who begin to ask the same questions themselves, each finding that there scanning equipment finds nothing out of the ordinary.
 

INTERIOR: BRIDGE – LOCATION UNKNOWN

While the Captain of the VSD “Labyrinth” begins to question the lack of security around such a vulnerable location, another figure glares out from the darkness aboard a far more advanced bridge layout of a ship we have not yet seen before in an interior sense. The bridge bares a slight oval shape, but vast with many levels, much like a ISD there are people in pits, and a walkway but this leads to a single chair amidst a massive view port, not sectioned off like the VSD, only broken off in two places, but the curve of the glass seems to expand in a 180 degree, giving a broad view of the surrounding galaxy. What’s disturbing the most about this bridge is its occupants. Several of the crew wear the same uniform already pre-established as instantly recognized as Killian fashion. These outfits however are not simply black and gray they possess a certain level of prestige to them. There are no jagged tears or robes. The costume appears like form fitted rubber, with green pin-striping that leads to form the Killian insignia upon the left breasts of each wearer, their hands covered in more sophisticated gloves like a magician but the same shade of gray on the more aggressive warriors. Boots also are gray and pristine. These members of the crew are clearly cut out for another task then hand to hand warfare, they are members of the Killian Armada, and the Captain of the VT rescue fleet has good reason to fear them, for their leader’s soul runs as black as the onyx Luxor Armor that covers his ship…genetically bred into duty, his sense of strategy in battle was unmatched granting him victory in toppling the Versai Tech towers.

His name was Draven Thross. He stood boldly at 6’2. His fingers running along his chin as he gazed out to the Versai Tech fleet, one eye focused on one of his crew manning the weapons of the craft he stood in, the other was cybernetically implanted and shined a blood red luminescence. There was a touch of humanity to Draven though, he had long brown hair that he kept tied back in a pony tail and a slightly grown amount of facial hair, but that was just about the only extent of his humanity left. With one left mechanical hand he had lost in a battle long ago…that claimed the life of his best crew, his heart was hardened to the Republic. His friends and associates forced on a mission in which when things went wrong, were deemed “expendable” and in the end the living were glorified, while the dead forgotten.

This is why Draven served Quillion so diligently. He didn’t care who the face was behind the mask, he was a damn good mercenary and his set of fleet tactics were unmatched as well as his Thrawn like sense of calmness and refined ego. Draven’s prowess allowed The Killian to capture several shipping yards and because of his success, his massive capitol Shadow Serpent ship, “Calypso” was his to command. Now he had arrived as he sized up his prey, glancing confidently to a Killian member manning the ships special weapons. Only one command needed to be given, only a few words spoken…traveling through the ship, causing destiny to play its hand, even the Captain of the VT fleet could sense them as each was uttered, in time with his careful scanning of the space around him.

DRAVEN – (hands clasped behind back) Eliminate them…

The Killian member at the helm of the weapons kiosk nods with a grin spreading along his face as he watches the targeting sights on a LED screen align and turn from green to red, indicating a lock.
 

INTERIOR: LABYRINTH ISD - BRIDGE

Before the button is pressed or a single ray of energy is dispersed from the invaders, the Captain aboard Labyrinth walks to another window and follows his gut instincts, calling for a set of macrobinoculars, peering through the filtered lenses as the balls of energy from the stars begin to take on a singular pattern. At first glance the stars seem randomly organized, but as he adjusts the magnification he starts to notice that groupings of stars seem to grow larger, then smaller in greater number, a singular pattern of a set group of stars being reflected into larger versions of themselves, then oddly enough after a few times, diminishing back to their original state and depths.

It isn’t until the Captain zooms out from the shapes and keeps his gaze focused on a singular spot in the dotted blanket of space and a distant burst of pink light that his look of concern goes from uneasiness to pure panic as he sprints down the walkway over to one of the control pits below.

CAPTAIN – SHIELDS!

The crew stares blankly for a moment, quickly carrying out his order as a ray of brilliant pink light erupts from seemingly no where in a sphere of brilliant magenta energy. The blast shatters into the bridge of the VSD, not enough to penetrate the armor, but the vibrations are so intense it cracks the view screen down the middle, jutting towards the edges.

CAPTAIN – I ORDERED TO RAISE THE SHIELDS!

OFFICER – (screaming) BUT THE SHIELDS ARE UP!

CAPTAIN – IMPOSSIBLE! (spotting something) TAKE EVASIVE ACTION!

Suddenly where the first blast emerged, several more volleys of intense pink balls emerge but this time as it would be assumed the ship’s power is being taxed the VT fleet soon learns that while they formed themselves into wedge formations, and wasted time scanning the planet, three massive Shadow Serpents were already surrounding each in wait…stalking their prey and now revealed to them as the clear cloak of the vessels sweeps back the blanket of stars they blended within to reveal the shimmering surfaces of Luxor plated hulls, their pink weapons flashing in succession from all angles on the isolated armada from behind.

The Captain screams in horror as several blasts rock his ship and instantly slip through the shields raised, like drops of rain, hammering like thunder. Sections of the Labyrinth begin to light up like a Christmas tree in rapidly expanding explosions as the weapons carve into the wedge structure of the ship. Within the decks of the Labyrinth, crew members and operators are thrown clear across the room, slamming into walls as consoles explode in fiery shards of shrapnel, injuring vast amounts of people as vital systems are hammered by the never ending volley of pink spheres rocking the VSD so intensely that the Captain is knocked off balance, striking his head on a railing, busting his forehead open.

Irony you see plays itself well. The Captain’s insecurity to let the other ships take the brunt of an attack, had in fact put his ship at the FRONT line of the battle, as the Shadow Serpent hammers the defenseless VSD, wearing down its defenses with some new form of technology unknown to any of the vessels in the VT fleet. While the Labyrinth is butchered, other ships are not as fortunate to survive the first onslaught of energy fired towards them. The attack is so swift that the Escort Carriers, Lancer, and Carracks are instantly destroyed by the brutality and swift rate of fire from the Shadow Serpents. The TIE fighters are hunted down by strange new fighter designs, dispatched from the underbellies of the Shadow Serpents. The weapon is indeed a very formidable one based upon ancient technology from the days of Master Arca, but revamped and updated into a more compact and effective design. It has become quite obvious that the weapon is pulse based, allowing for a heavy rate of fire with an added bonus…

It can pass through shields….

This lesson would come far too late as two Imperial Star Destroyers, attacked from the rear and vulnerable erupt into a bluish-orange fireball, sending portions of ship plating and incinerated corpses out into the unforgiving harshness of space. One single ISD is mortally damaged, like a sitting duck without shields or engines as it valiantly targets one of the Shadow Serpents and unleashes a menagerie of green blazed light from its many turbolaser batteries in an attempt to go out with a blaze of glory. Its attempts however are ended far too quickly as its perfectly timed shots in another twist of sadistic irony bounce off the polished surface of the Shadow Serpent capitol ship and ricochet back towards their source, shearing into the decks of the valiant ISD, causing an explosive chain reaction to erupt along the left side of the ship, heading in sequential order of mangled steel and glittering armor plating towards the back, before the entire ISD and its crew are consumed in a blaze of orange fury.

Draven sits upon his elegant captain’s chair and smiles with sadistic glee, clasping his fingers before him glancing to the view screen with his illuminated red eye, listening to the screams from the ships as they attempt to hail for a cease fire. Draven did not have any intentions of taking prisoners, he was ordered to send a clear message to VT, written in blood and damages…

Everything VT assumed about The Killian’s weakness…

Would change…

The last surviving ship is naturally the one of most importance, and the voice begging on the com is familiar…the Captain of the entire mission, trying to reason with his soulless advisory.

CAPTAIN – (com) Please…for Alderaan’s sake, no more…you proved your point. No more death…we surrender.

Draven quirks a brow and steadies his gloved finger towards the Killian member at the weapons podium, giving a gesture with his finger extending in a cease motion. Instantly outside of the ship, the magenta volley of firing stops. Draven grinning broadly as he calmly engages the line to the Captain of the now devastated VT fleet, reduced to just the Labyrinth alone.

DRAVEN – (smooth, collected) You surrender? You wish for the pain to end? The carnage to cease?

CAPTAIN – (injured, staggering) Yes…I surrender…end the suffering, there is no need for further bloodshed.

DRAVEN – (laughing) HAHAHA, I suppose the screams of hundreds of innocents is an acquired taste in melody. Very well I will free you from your suffering Captain, you and your crew shall suffer no longer.

The Captain breaths a sigh of relief, but it is soon turned into a gasping struggle for air, as Draven’s fingers draw closer and closer together, using the power of the dark side to strangle him, seeing the Captain in a view screen to his left, affixed to display the bridge of the Labyrinth, where bodies lay across the floor in torn or incinerated heaps, sparks flying from damaged consoles and wires hanging from the ceiling, the bridge bathed in a red light, from emergency power fueling its failing systems. The Captain gasps to breath and is suddenly cut short as Draven’s fingers snap together. The Captain’s body lurches forward, and crumples to the floor lifeless…the snap of Draven’s fingers having telekinetically snapped the Captain’s windpipe in two.

DRAVEN – (com) With the snap of my fingers…you find your peace. With the wave of my hand, you accept your fate.

Draven’s eyes crane towards the Labyrinth as its systems begin to fail, the loss of power causing the skeletal remains of the vessel to float aimlessly, further and further away from the Calypso. Timing his motion, Draven waves his hand, and instantly normal turbolasers spew from the eyes of the vessel as a quick cut from the beams shifts to a front, bridge view inside the tattered craft as a vibrant, blinding red light floods the screen, and then loud explosive noises shatter the drama of the moment, cutting back outside to the last vessel erupting in flames as pieces of its hull fling outward in debris in a almost oval pattern, the last image seen is a distant flaming, mangled section of armor plating spinning out of control closer and closer and closer until the we can see the clear, battle ravaged insignia of the Versai Tech logo cover the screen as the massive panel covers our view, plunging it to black.
 

INTERIOR: VERSAI TECH – LANCE’S QUARTERS

As the exchange of hellfire and lucid burning sheets of shattered, mangled steel ripple through the regions of cold space, within the confines of his bigger, more luxurious room bathed currently in a pallete of monochromatic blues and deep, dark blacks the new found President of Versai Tech lies sprawled under the sheets of his bed in uneasy slumber. Something beckons within his mind, the images of the battle playing forth with such vibrant intensity it is as if Lance himself sits upon one of the doomed vessel’s bridges shortly before Draven orders its destruction with weapons never seen before, of such immense destruction and surprise the first fleet has no chance against their unbridled fury.

The screams of the living meeting their end echo in his ears as his dreams plunge into an overwhelming nightmare…so lucid in detail that Lance swears he can feel the steel shear from the shattered floor before him, walls closing in fast, crushed like the Death Star Trash Compactor, closer…blocking the light, trapping him, choking his sense of security before the final blow is cast and all goes to white.

LANCE – (in panic) N…N…N….NOOOOOO!!

Lance’s eyes flash open, tearing him from his nightmare at the most intense moment much like our own dreams shocking our consciousness to the point of desperation. Each drop of rain slides along a window from outside his room rising from a soft tapping to a deafening roar. Lance’s blue eyes peer into the forbidding shadows, gazing into images from his nightmare as if he was still in it, still hearing the discharge of the pink particle weapons or the cries of the innocents left with no choice but to succumb to the destiny Draven unleashed upon them from the mouths of the cloaked serpents. Running his fingers through his hair and wiping the sweat beading along his forehead, Lance’s eyes shift to a blinking light to his left, the LED flashing off his comlink followed by a small beep with each interval.

LANCE – (pushing a button on his com) Yes…what is it?

Another voice speaks to Lance from the other end of the line, his voice is Matthew Blackheart now moved into communications, given the duty to inform Lance of information the force had already supplied to him, without even waiting for Matthew to continue Lance’s lips speak for him.

MATTHEW – Sir, we have a problem, the fleet it was…(cut off)

LANCE – The fleet? But it was only…only a dream…wasn’t it?

MATTHEW – A dream Sir? We don’t really understand what has happened, we just know that communication was lost about two hours ago with the Versai Tech fleet, the only info we have is a garbled transmission.

LANCE – (closing his eyes, thinking) There is more to this then a garbled transmission Matthew; I assure you of that…I sense this is only the beginning of a greater threat.

MATTHEW – A greater threat Sir? This base has been attacked once already, you don’t think they might…

LANCE – No…I’ve been shot at, stabbed, threatened, kicked, thrown off a freaking platform and kicked in the balls Matthew. If The Killian wished to attack VT again they would know we would be more prepared now then ever with the towers reconstruction completed…this is something new.

MATTHEW – Aye Sir, I understand we need you to come to the Conference Room.

Lance’s eyes narrow a moment, peering into the darkness running his hand down along the floor, hunting for his pants and shirt, listening to both Matthew and the rain tattering on his window, trying to balance the images from his dream and his current duty.

LANCE – Understood, I will be there momentarily…Lance out.

Lance’s transmission ends as he slides out of his bed, running his fingers through his blonde hair, cleanly shaven in military fashion as he wades his fingers to a light switch turning it on with a flick of his finger, instantly dissolving the eerie blue depths of his room into a bright white luminance that not only forces him to wake up, but draws him completely into his duty as he finds his coat and puts it on adjusting the Presidential plate.

Lance didn’t know exactly what had happened to the VT fleet, his dreams were as abstract, a montage of random images of pain, suffering, explosions, and flashes of pink spheres and undistinguishable voices. Two images did stick out as valuable clues however. The first was Draven seen only in silhouette, sitting calmly in his chair gazing to a severely crippled ISD, hovering like a sitting duck. The other image was a plate with the VT logo upon it, spinning through space, the metal twisted and carbon scored. The only reasonable conclusion Lance could make from these images was a battle has taken place

And the good guys lost…

Lance paces to a window, shaped in an oval gazing out to a rain soaked exterior, looking down towards VT staff scampering like ants in the downpour, the clouds above stirring and swelling ominously as if fate itself was sending the entire base a message. The rain began to pour harder, this time a bolt of lightning tore through the purple-blue sky as thunder roared. Lance’s eyes gazed down to his nameplate, and then out to the sky, closing his eyes a moment tapping on the force trying to sense Val’s presence failing with the large distance between he and Tuulab. Still Lance spoke to himself, perhaps in a way giving him mental encouragement.

LANCE – (mental voice over) Val I wish I knew what you are going through right now. I just don’t understand what has happened to you it’s been far too long without your sarcastic comments around here. I’m trying my friend, The Killian may have set back our rescue efforts but I swear to you we will come through. Hang in there my friend, don’t let them win.

As Lance gathers his thoughts, images of his last battle ripple through his memory like a slow moving movie, seeing Tula’s wicked transformation from a potential love interest to a sadistic, manipulative witch. Then there was Jenner, so confident and powerful and in all his glorious force control as Quillion’s apprentice he neglected to sense that Lance’s blaster was still charged. This element of overconfidence was Jenner’s undoing but it was the power of friendship with Michael Angelis that saved Lance’s life from extermination…Quillion would have won but that unpredictable element of friends shifted the perfection of his scheme. Lance now admired Michael more then ever, sure the VT Council promoted Michael to head of security but to Lance a bond as strong as Vals was formed.

Against all odds Lance survived the assassination attempt and weeded out the mole or moles in this case yet as quickly as one set of mysteries were solved, a whole new set of problems presented themselves. One thing was crystal clear as long as Quillion and his Killian faction lived, there would be no peace.

Lance took a deep breath gazing out to the storm as another bolt of lighting tore through the heavens, spinning on one heel towards the door, preparing himself to slip from his laid back, relaxed role to that of the calm and collected President he had to be to keep VT functioning. Underneath the rank, Lance was fighting his own mental battle. On one hand Lance never would travel the path of the dark side and yet a small part deep down hated Quillion and The Killian for the crimes they had committed…Lance felt anger swell within his veins each time he remembered the words Val spoke to him…sensing the hurt, the rage in Val’s voice…teetering ever so close to the dark side, at the moment fearing what Val had become but who could blame him? Val had at the moment before his capture discovered he had a sister only to have her taken away from him.

(mental voice over)

VAL – (growls and calms) Isis Surul is Sara Versai…my sister, or at least she was. I don’t know what to feel anymore Lance I really do not. I know that as long as that Mole is allowed to live and breath you nor I will never see rest. You will find him and you will end him…that is a direct order. I have no more compassion left in my body…The Killian took my sister…the lines of compassion have been lost.

VAL – There is no conflict, there is no remorse, no more pain, no more suffering, there is only...vengeance.

LANCE – (thinking mental voice over) I wish I could have done something for her Val, I had no idea…I will finish this.

Was it truly a dark side trait to seek vengeance for the loss of a loved one? Was it wrong to want justice for crimes committed? Yoda may have been right with hate leading to anger but there was a point even Luke Skywalker reached where he could walk down that path, then turn back from it. Only the strongest could effectively travel both paths, and Val was the strongest person Lance knew. Now Lance drew on Val’s strength mentally to remain focused on his duty. If the first fleet did indeed fail, Lance would personally see to it the second fleet did not.

But then there is a new facet to destiny’s plan that Lance is not taking into consideration. That element of surprise that The Killian currently possessed and exploited to their advantage, it would not matter how many ships went up against how little ships they had in their armada, the simple fact that The Killian possessed a weapon of immense power gave them the edge in any battle, against any foe as Lance would soon have to find out the hard way as he paced out the door to his quarters leaving his feelings behind, and his freedom.
 

INTERIOR: THE KILLIAN THRONE ROOM – LOWER LEVEL (RIGHT SIDE)

Shifting from the blue-violet regions of a stormy Tuulab as Lance leaves his quarters to face the new facet in Quillion’s master plan, Quillion himself or should we say Cire T’Negun is in no position to give orders as his sunken dark pits swirling around his teal blue eyes catch the radiant fury of Val’s golden lightsaber clashed with Vachon’s Sith Sword. The battle for destiny…the last stand between the hero and the villain was now taking place high above the flame lit interior of the massive Killian Throne Room. As the slender metal of the catwalks creaked adjusting to each lighting fast movement of both Val and Cire’s fury, tasting the lash of their weapons erupting sparks from charred of severed metal the tension was so thick between the two you could quite literally cut it with a knife. All Corrie and Terra could do for the moment was watch in awe and mystique from the far right section of the room, far below the towering labyrinth of railings above.

Corrie, still dressed in her revealing slave attire moves to Terra’s side, attempting to create a healing field around her lacerated body with the force. In times of danger, in the most desperate of need mankind has always put aside their differences and aided strangers regardless of race or family. Terra was a T’Negun in blood only, she had the traits her other twisted family members had but she also contained a more broader sense of logic and in some ways emotional control like her mother Crymson.

Sure Crymson had brought about her own demise by allowing vengeance to consume her and it was fairly ironic that those who tried to achieve justice along that path had fallen…even the great legend Valaryc Versai succumbed to the price of letting anger rule his destiny. However there were exceptions to the rule, vengeance never does bring redemption, if it did Val and Corrie and Terra would have escaped by now and the first VT fleet would not have perished. Fate played out its little game through not the living but the dead.

Ah yes, Cire by himself could never orchestrate such a master scheme on his own, he needed the devine guidance of his mother Vachon, who now had grown strangely silent since Agen met her end at the hand of Val’s deadly flechette pistols. Cire’s plans were also ruined, his wishes to execute the weak link in his family, in this case his niece were dashed by Val’s guns as well. That series of events, Corrie being stabbed oddly similar to Gen’s death but this time good prevailing against darkness shifted the balance of power in Val’s favor, even if for the moment he had passed through hell with Cire’s sick games surviving the most brutal means of torture the world had ever seen. Emotional, physical, and mental he had been driven to the brink of death and had once again like so many times before, kicked its reaper in the face and now he had ripped off death’s mask to put the past into balance…he had unmasked Quillion, seen the devil from his past and with his lightsaber in hand Val was focused on one thing alone…closing the book.

Corrie winced as she started to unlatch Terra from the X chair, her side still had not fully healed from Agen’s dagger, but she was a strong willed user of the force even if she was merely a Padawan. Being a Padawan under Val’s guidance was no easy task, he was incredibly meticulous and critical but if not for Val’s hard edged, advanced ways of instruction Corrie might have bled to death by now for her wound could have killed any normal human. There was no doubt in Terra or Corrie’s mind that Val was the Master from his years of battle anyone could build up a fighting reputation of surviving but even Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker could not equal the intense physical agony Val could sustain. For the moment as Corrie’s fingers unlatched the last of Terra’s bindings, slumping her body into her arms, Corrie tried to find a way to aid her friend and mentor battling in the catwalks above but she knew this was Val’s fight and his alone.

TERRA – (mumbling) Wha….who…are….

CORRIE – Shhh save your strength, try to focus your mind and above all else do not look at yourself at the moment, just focus on me. You’re body is badly injured and the only way for you to avoid making it worse is to keep yourself unaware of the damage. Just relax and focus the force and heal it.

TERRA – (thinking back) But how can I? The pain was so intense…did he stop? No it was…

Terra’s eyes narrow a moment as she thinks back to the moments before her eyes plunged into darkness, opening for one brief second to see Val standing in the room, one pistol aimed at Agen pulling the trigger while the other aimed seemingly at her, firing to the generators behind her before her vision flashed to white not returning to consciousness till seeing Corrie’s brown eyes staring at her.

TERRA – It was Val…but he killed my mother, I hate him…why did he bother saving me?

CORRIE – (shakes her head) Hate is a strong word Terra, I could hate you for the sins of your family but the truth is he saved you because you are worth saving. Aside from your wicked uncle, I think Val decided he owed your mother.

TERRA – I’ll never forget, nor forgive him for the death of my mother.

CORRIE – Wake up you stubborn child! How can you hold a grudge, don’t you see by allowing yourself to think so narrow minded you’ll end up joining your mother? Snap out of it! Val isn’t your enemy.

TERRA – (knits her brows) I suppose for the moment…he’s doing me a favor.

Terra weakly gestures upward to the flash of golden yellow clashing with the gleam of shiny steel as Val and Cire battle back and forth on the catwalk, from Corrie and Terra’s vantage point all they can do to distinguish the two is look at the weapons as both fighters are in complete silhouette.
 

INTERIOR: THE KILLIAN THRONE ROOM – CATWALKS (LEFT SIDE)

High above, sparks fly and weapons clash in thunderous echoes of clanging metal and fierce electronic squeals as Val’s lightsaber fends off Cire’s overzealous strikes. Both men now have left behind their sense of grace or restraint, with Agen’s death Cire has finally snapped mentally and with Val having endured hell his patience has ended, leaving both lunging at eachother like rabid animals. However in their combined rage they reach a unusual stalemate, fending off eachother’s blows as Val’s eyes narrow with intense concentration and aggravation, sending a powerful uppercut, two handed swing so hard into Cire’s sword that Cire is knocked back three feet, landing on his back but only for the moment putting distance between the two aggressive duelists.

VAL – I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF YOUR GAMES CIRE, HERE AND NOW YOUR MADNESS WILL END! DO YOU HEAR ME YOU SADISTIC JARHEAD!

CIRE – (panting, getting to his feet) I QUITE AGREE VAL, BUT THIS GAME IS NO WHERE NEAR ITS CONCLUSION ITS ONLY THE SECOND QUARTER!

Val twirls his lightsaber around in a one handed 360 spin, approaching Cire once more, sending a powerful horizinal slash towards his midsection, but Cire is quick to respond hurling his Sith Sword down vertical, into the floor of the catwalk itself, blade first shearing into the metal as Val’s saber recoils off the blade, Cire quickly drawing his weapon from the floor, slithering along the thin support railings to gain a position behind Val sending his blade racing towards Val’s vulnerable back. Val however is smart enough to hurl his body forward, drop to both knees and carry his saber blade in a overhead swing across his back, stopping the blow, pinning Cire’s sword from contacting his skin, but at the position Val’s arms are at a weaker hold, causing him to quickly lunge forward into a roll, extinguishing his saber gaining more distance from Cire as Cire’s blade once again grinds into the metal of the catwalk floor.

Not to be caught on his back for long, Val rolls into a flip, timing his position to land perfectly before spinning on his heel to the north, reigniting his lightsaber once more, waiting for Cire’s next move as he glares through labored breaths to the south.

VAL – We can keep this up all night Cire, but you know deep down in a straight up swordfight, you have not nor have you ever been a match for me. It’s only a matter of time before you make a mistake.

Cire growls in anger, unleashing a salvo of left and right slashes with his sword as Val quickly guides his golden blade to counter them, the more Cire gains ground the faster Val drives him back from it as the two once gain counter eachother’s deadly swings as metal meets humming energy in yet another stalemate of offensive and defensive measures. Finally Cire figures out how to shift the odds back into his favor. Like any villain would…if you can’t beat them, cheat.

Val senses what Cire is about to do but a moment too late as Cire slams his blade hard into Val’s lightsaber, causing Val to be pinned up against a railing behind him, edging closer to falling over the edge. With no room to move, Cire capitalizes on the pinning situation and unleashes a salvo of his famous Shard lighting, which tears not only into Val’s flesh as before, but also begins to eat away at the metal of the support rail, making it weaken more and more. Val having drawn upon the force is able to cease the damage to himself but he is too late to stop Cire’s second bold move, a weaker but effective force push that hurls Val’s body hard enough to snap the last of the hand rail’s resistance like a toothpick, toppling Val off the catwalk, plummeting to pit of fire that grows in size and intensity as Val’s eyes widen, facing it.

CIRE – (yelling from above) I TOLD YOU IT WAS ONLY SECOND QUARTER BUT IT LOOKS TO ME YOUR TEAM IS ABOUT TO FORFEIT THE GAME!

Val’s eyes show his focus upon the force as Corrie screams inaudible words from below. Being a master of force control Val pushes out the image of danger that would cause someone to waste precious seconds frozen in fear and concentrates on the fire itself, clipping his extinguished lightsaber to his belt and seemingly in slow motion, but too fast for the eye to track hurls his own force push out to the center of the flaming pit itself with such intense power the flames actually part in two directions and smother out into twin lines of smoke as the rubber of Val’s boots heats up to intense temperatures, his body landing in the pit itself still hot from the former flames. In seconds Val hurls his body into a back flip out of the fire pit and lands on the shimmering onyx floor as Cire scowls from above in utter disbelief.

CIRE – NO FAIR! THAT’S NOT IN THE PLAY BOOK!

Val glares up to Cire, then unclips his golden saber, holding the weapon in his left hand as he activates the ignition button; the golden blade extended to life once more as his eyes crane upward to Cire leaning over the railing, a smug look returning to his face as his lips curl into his usual trickster expression. His eyes however begin to slowly widen in terror as Val’s lips begin to mirror the smile, but in his trademark smirk…an expression only visible when he’s up to something sneaky.

VAL – Then why don’t you come down here and DISQUILIFY ME!

Cire barely has time to answer when he sees Val’s lightsaber hurl into that signature discus, Val is famous for and disappear from view. The squeal of severed steel followed by a hissing of collapsing metallic rods means only one thing as Cire slowly cranes his teal eyes to the flooring below him. Suddenly everything goes silent, as Val watches him from below, with a gesture of his finger in the “come here” motion, Cire suddenly feels the ground beneath him give out as one section of the catwalk collapsed towards the ground, making the walkway jerk from level to a steep 35 degree downward plunge. Cire’s body hurls down the walkway like a rocket, spinning from 3 stories up to the ground floor like an express train to hell.

His body twists and turns, spiraling into a wall as he comes to a crunching stop, hearing his Sith Sword coming just behind him, as the blade shears into the wall to his left, with little resistance stopping at the golden toothed guard, sparks bathing Cire’s body as he struggles to gain his sense of direction, shortly before he feels Val’s hand grabbing him by the collar, hurling him full force into a pile of unforgiving boxes, then picks him up and slams his head face first into the cold steel walls of his fortress, nearly breaking his nose, over and over again as Val unleashes his unrestricted fury upon him.

Cire stares in horror as his face and body meets onyx floor, trying to locate his Sith Sword still embedded into the wall as Val grabs him by the collar, sending him spiraling into a set of computer consoles that erupt in a plethora of shimmering sparks and mangled equipment.

VAL – HOW DOES IT FEEL CIRE! HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE NO CHANCE TO RECOVER AS YOUR BODY IS SLASHED, SMASHED, ELETROCUTED, AND SLICED ENDLESSLY WITH NO TIME TO ADAPT!

CIRE – (coughs) I ENJOY PAIN…YOU’LL NEVER BREAK ME VAL!

VAL – YOU ENJOY PAIN? THEN HERE HAVE SOME MORE!

Val grabs Cire’s head and slams it clear through a glass display panel, as Cire’s face is torn from the glass into a bloody mess, Cire’s lips still smiling in sadistic pleasure as Val systematically tears his body apart, letting Val unleash his frustrations as Cire draws the dark side to his command.

VAL – I HAVE NOT EVEN BEGUN TO MAKE YOU SUFFER CIRE! YOU TOOK GEN FROM ME AND I TOOK YOUR GENETIC FREAK GIRL FROM YOU, BUT WE ARE FAR FROM EVEN!

CIRE – (laughing) Oh please Val give me another! I haven’t leaned my lesson yet!

Val screams in frustration hurling Cire into another glass monitor then drags Cire by the scruff of his neck towards Corrie and Terra. Bloody and broken, Cire smiles sadistically to Corrie and Terra.

CIRE – You’re all dead, when I’m through with you Terra you’ll be begging be to pull the plug on your life support and you Corrie Oooo boy I have a surprise for you as soon as I’m done with Val here…which is to say, right about now.

Cire drawing on his anger and rage…the pain riddling his body is able to unleash Val’s own signature move in two directions, spheres of sky blue that echo Val’s Bolt of Hatred. The first sphere hurls towards Corrie and Terra as Corrie grabs Terra and barely manages to roll out of the way as the last of the “X” chair is blown to bits in a hellish fireball, hurling Corrie and Terra to the far right of the room from the shockwaves of the blast, while his left hand unleashes the other sphere almost point blank into Val’s chest. Had Val not prepped himself with the force for the attack, the sphere would have slammed clear through his body, but sensing the shift in Cire’s force energy, Val erected a lesser force shield that took enough of the blast that his body is hurled 15 feet back, sent skidding along the onyx floor as Cire maliciously stays kneeling on the floor, one hand outstretched in both directions, his head tipped back in a villainous laugh.

Val is able to sustain an impact that would kill most people only through the thick plating of Cire’s customized battle suit, as the impact is greatly reduced to his body; his back slams into one of the support struts holding up the catwalks above the throne room. Cire slowly stands, dusting off his torn twin silver dragon suit coat, licking and tasting the blood from his torn face. The four scars along his left cheek now joined by several gashes along his right, and upper forehead. Cire’s fingers grasp his nose and with a slight crunch, he places it back into alignment. Flexing his fingers, Cire outstretches his left hand out to the wall holding his Sith Sword captive, drawing his weapon back into his palm calling it to him with a force pull, glancing back and forth from the girls to Val.

CIRE – You know something Val, that little green midget was wrong…The dark side is stronger, its not the size of power that matters, its how you use it.

Cire cackles a moment then walks over to Val, standing above him with his Sith Sword in hand. Val’s eyes look into the devil himself, as he suddenly feels a twinge of fear ripple through him. Unexplained, the intense injuries on Cire’s face seem to mend themselves at an alarming rate, and soon every shred of damage Val had done to Cire was erased in seconds. No master of the force had ever been able to channel such rapid healing, with such power at his command Cire could quite possibly become unstoppable in battle while the natural order of things would eventually cause Val’s body to either give out, or cause his mind to collapse from fatigue…whatever Cire had accomplished, it was but one of his many unexpected developments to come.
 

INTERIOR: VERSAI TECH – CONFERENCE ROOM

Moving from the intense battleground between Val and Cire, we return to the narrow, highly lit hallways of Versai Tech where three figures pace down a octagonal shaped walkway, lights running on the left and side of the room above, casting reflections on the paved black floor, similar to that of the floor in The Killian Citadel. The first figure to the far left is the newly crowned head of security, Michael Angilis now sporting more luxurious attire with a bold, shimmering set of bars across the shoulders of his purple and gold pin stripped coat.

The individual along the far right is Marc Jade. His hand had fully grown back now and his extensive injuries handed to him by the Jenner fake, Tula An in his attempted assassination were now no where to be seen. His eyes focused on the hallways as the three figures moved from one corridor to the next, until arriving at their destination. Two massive polished brown wooden doors framed in crossing “V”s led the way to the Conference Room, higher end and harder to access then the last room, Jenner had decimated with his lighting.

The middle figure between Marc and Michael was Lance Jade…the President himself, being led under armed guard to the Conference room to learn things his dreams have already informed him of, a nightmare given truth, thrust from the safety net of sleep, to the harsh realms of reality.

As Lance and his escorts enter the formally lit Conference room, the interior spans out into a circle, around a massive holographic projector while seats line in circular formations. Lance takes his place closer to the generator then most, as Marc and Michael sit on his left and right. The VT Council sits elevated above the rest in the room in their own private box, gazing down below to Lance and the rest of the VT staff invited to listen to the highly classified information about to be announced. With the moles “relieved” of their duty security was still high but people could now breathe a bit easier and no longer have to worry about being next on Jenner’s former hit list.

 As the group gathers, a single individual stands and approaches a podium, set just before the hologram generator as a bustle of conversations comes to fall silent, each person’s eyes now on the solitary form dressed in purple with the usual VT logos, with a medium muscular build and forearm braces complete with knee high shiny black boots and General stripes along his coat’s arms in bands of gold. His hair silver as well as his eyes.

FIGURE – Good evening, I am General Kalin, some refer to me as General Starblade but this meeting has been called under no such joking manners, so I will dispense with my usual cocky remarks. You have been summoned to this meeting because we have a crisis on our hands.

Kalin waves his fingers over a control sensor as a holographic projection of a vast star field emerges from the holographic generator, the lights in the room dimming as each glittering star twinkles, and the map fanning out seems to cycle through various celestial charts from the Hoth System to Bespin and Hapes, stopping into an area titled “uncharted” continuing to venture through a visual journey until the white and green tint of the map, shifts to a darker violet approaching Xyquine’s system. As soon as the location is sited in the spherical holographic projection, the star field disappears as the illuminated map shrinks inward until only Xyquine is shown, where several holographic formations of VT ships begin to materialize as another formation of only four vessled marked “Serpents” also emerge and hold position.

KALINThrough various intelligence sources we are able to construct this simulated display of the crisis at hand. Although we are not sure as to the exact time of the attack what we do know is that this is what apparently has occurred, please watch this simulation closely.

As Kalin initiates the proposed battle simulation, the events of the demise of the first VT fleet play out but do not play accurately as the pink shield penetrating weapons are not accounted for and the downfall of the VT ship is thought to have occurred by misfiring on the Luxor Armor plating of the Shadow Serpents, causing a chain reaction that destroys all the other ships as the four enemy craft move in for the kill and brutally slaughter the helpless vessels. Lance suddenly without realizing it stands up and shouts to the room.

One of the Council members shakes his head a moment in the sky box seats, as if he knows more then he’s let on.

LANCE – NO! That is not accurate! That’s not how it happened!

Suddenly the room begins to erupt in a bustle of various conversations, as people look at Lance with curious expressions, it isn’t until Kalin raises his hand for silence and addresses Lance personally that the crowd returns to normal, all eyes now on the shaken President.

KALIN – No? Our sources are inaccurate? Then pray tell Mr. President with all due respect come down here and put things in order so you may single handedly prove our entire intelligence staff wrong.

Lance’s blue eyes narrow towards Kalin, feeling the sting of his sarcastic reply, as President Lance could have had him placed under arrest for such insults but right now Lance had explaining to do so he could understand a bit of sarcasm towards his peculiar actions.

Marc and Michael both look at each other as well, then slowly towards Lance as he makes his way down to join Kalin by the projector, he then turns around and addresses the room.

LANCE – Hear me out, I know it may seem odd to you but I had a nightmare…perhaps a warning bred by the force and this simulation is not accurate. We know of the Killian’s use of Luxor Armor from the first attack on our base…why would we be dumb enough to fall for the same mistake twice?

Kalin adjusts his suit, then turns towards Lance clasping his hands behind his back as he prepares his retort to Lance’s speculations. Kalin holds a degree of anger towards Lance for embarrassing and in one outburst destroying nights of countless study, naturally anyone would be upset to have their hard work torn apart before it is even given time to be properly evaluated but all Kalin did have was theory, and theory was not concrete no matter how many hours are invested into it.

KALIN – President Jade, if you would be so kind as to elaborate on the “inaccuracies” of our findings.

Lance gathers his thoughts a moment, seemingly lost from where he is as the horrible images of his nightmare play forth through his mental theater once more, but this time not viewing them as a spectator but as a detective, drawing what clues he can to support his reply.

LANCE – General Starblade, I must apologize for my outburst. Your simulation is inaccurate but it is not entirely flawed. I can only speculate myself on what is truth and what is theory from a dream I had not too long ago that happens to parallel your theorized time this battle took place.

KALIN – Continue, you have the floor.

Lance paces over to the monitor and taps in a few keys, as the ships rewind from their destructive displays back to the beginning of the battle, this time he moves the Shadow Strikers to the rear of the VT fleet, unaware that in truth The Killian hold cloaking technology, for this display they are simply implied to have been visible but in their position, given the advantage of attack. Lance then tries to cycle through various weapons in the computer’s databank from proton torpedoes to turbolasers and concussion grenades and missiles trying to find a weapon that gives off that pink sphere cycling to “pulse cannons”.

LANCE – As you can see, according to my dream the enemy ships were not placed in front of the fleet but behind them. We know from former combat analysis that The Killian never attack where they can be seen, from their specially attuned battle uniforms to their Luxor Armor covered ships, they only attack in the open when they know they have the distinct advantage, such as the raid on our base, knowing that our shields were down and our weapons were offline.

Kalin nods slowly, fanning his fingers along a circular table, perking his brow in interest damning his own trusted crew for not seeing such an obvious hint of accuracy to their report submitted to him. Starting to understand Lance’s earned position not on convenience but on skill, Kalin lets his feelings of anger dwindle as Lance continues…the President was smarter then he let on.

LANCE – (gesturing with his hand) In my visual “warning” or my nightmare if you will, I saw the enemy craft firing pink balls of light towards our ships. I cannot with true accurate confidence tell you what weapons they are using but I doubt very much due to their destructive power that these pulse cannons are typical.

Lance turns to Kalin, then towards the members of the VT Council seated above the others in the room.

LANCE – However what I can be sure of is that our fleet did not act in stupidity, they acted in desperation against something they were not trained to face. Our fleets are the best of the best and the fact we can lose an entire group of ships proves we’ve once again underestimated our enemy.

A member of the VT Council, Vahn stands up and addresses Lance.

VAHN – As Senior member of the VT Council President Jade I will remind you that we gave you the power to make your decision but it is then YOUR responsibility by YOUR order that this fleet was annihilated.

Kalin growls a moment, having flashbacks of a similar case where his own set of troops was ambushed and he himself was blamed for the mishap. Without regard for rank or respect, Kalin intervenes on Lance’s behalf.

KALIN – With the highest of respects Vahn you haven’t a damn clue what you’re talking about. Until you have entered battle yourself and unwittingly sent your own men in to die, because of a high ranked set of dolts placed into power to make decisions for the REAL men fighting in the trenches, your accusation upon our President is unfounded.

VAHN – How dare you!

KALIN – NO! HOW DARE YOU SIR! Neither you, nor I, nor President Jade could have known we were sending our fleet into a trap. There is no point in this bickering. Allow President Jade to do his appointed job! That is what YOU placed him in power for. YOU are as much responsible for his mistake as anyone else.

Vahn’s emerald green eyes narrow and glow with a aggravated intensity but even then, Vahn as Senior member of the Council cannot deny the truth and with a wave of his hand, he sits back down and beckons Lance to continue.

Lance’s eyes glance from Vahn to Kalin, silently pondering the sudden change in Kalin’s view of him…proving first impressions are not always correct. Feeling a bit more assured now with Kalin’s support, Lance once again tinkers with the holographic projection.

LANCE – Kalin I was informed we had a garbled transmission from the fleet before it was destroyed, can you provide the room with it?

Kalin nods slowly, then taps in a few buttons as the speakers in the room begin to hum with a static frequency, the transmission being below…

CAPTAIN – Exactly my –SKAK-…point! There is the Killian home –BZZT--… isn’t one ship in sight! This does not make sense! –SKAK-…SHIELDS!...._BZZZZT- SHIELDS ARE….–SKAK BZZT--…TAKE EVASIVE ACT…-BZZZT-  I CAN’T SEE WHERE***….FIRING EVERYWHERE…BZZZZT…FOR ALDERANS SAKE NO MORE….SKKKT…VT WE NEED RIENFORCEMENTS!…. –SKAK BZZT--ARGGGGGGGGGH…****

The transmission ends with an echo of explosions, high pitched energy whines and then falls silent. Kalin’s eyes drop down a moment, as the room takes a breath of fresh air, all eyes once again leading to their chosen leader, Lance Jade.

LANCE – (drawing a breath) I find it odd that they arrived to a field where no ships were present according to the Captain’s first transmission and then not too long later all of a sudden they’re firing from everywhere? There is more to this mystery then I believe our records can explain.

Kalin nods slowly to Lance then glances up to Vahn.

VAHN – What we are about to reveal to you is of the highest classification. Earlier today The Council was beamed a transmission of images that seem to accurately support your vision, President Jade. This was given to us via secured transmission by a person we only know as Draven. We assume he is the leader behind the assault on our ships.

Vahn gestures his fingers over a console and a screen emerges from the wall, there played on it is an almost complete video capture of the fleet battle, but again the use of Killian technology has been left out. The only things that the VT staff can see is that the Shadow Serpents did indeed attack the VT fleet from behind and they were using pulse cannons, but the tape fuzzes in certain locations which speculate that The Killian provided the footage, leaving bits out to protect their secrets.

LANCE – (swallows a moment) Then that confirms it, we need to find out what the missing footage is hiding before we send another fleet out there to liberate Valaryc Versai. We can’t take that chance again that we might suffer further casualties.

Vahn stands up and interrupts Lance from continuing.

VAHN – Quite the opposite President Jade, we the Council have decided that the only solution is to send out a grander fleet and out number them. No matter how much firepower they have it is no match for the power of our military strength…(cut off)

KALIN – What blindsided ignorance! You want to send more people to die! You don’t even know what we’re walking into!

VAHN – No we don’t Kalin but we are running out of time are we not? If we are to liberate Valaryc Versai from his captors we will get no where sitting here investigating. What happens if we investigate so long that he is dead by the time we arrive?

LANCE – (sighs) I have a bad feeling about this, we need to know what we’re getting into. Size may not matter if they have more advanced technology. Let us not forget the Battle of Endor, when the Death Star superlaser threatened the Republic’s victory.

VAHN – Yes but it was a VICTORY because they had to try. I’m not suggesting we attack them immediately, but we have to move our forces and amass a greater fleet, the biggest fleet we can assemble…The VT Council has officially declared war on The Killian and the New Republic has joined our cause.

LANCE – New Republic? You don’t mean…

Vahn nods slowly to Lance, then cranes his eyes towards Kalin.

VAHN – General Starblade, you will prepare your men and work in conjunction with Michael Angilis and Commander Marc Jade to coordinate our fleets for immediate departure to Xyquine. President Jade, the Senator of the Republic has requested a private channel with you in the Deliberations Chamber.

LANCE – Are you talking about Organa?

VAHN – (turning to leave) It’s Organa Solo now…go and speak to her, figure out how many ships she will lend to our fleet and see to its departure.

LANCE – (nods slowly balling his fist) Very well.

Vahn and the other members of the Council begin to exit the room as Lance gathers his thoughts. There was a huge wedge placed between he and the Senator of the Republic and it all led back to the days of the RA where Val stood by her side to lead the Rebel Alliance to glory against The Krath. Lance harbored a degree of hatred for Leia when she betrayed Val’s confidence. If there was one person in the galaxy Val hated more then Cire or Crymson it was Leia. He has done his best to insure the stability of the RA but when she ignored his advice she set into motion a ripple that drove her once bodyguard into personal exile and bad blood was formed.

Lance however had to set his personal feelings aside, this wasn’t about the past it was about overcoming the forces of darkness and getting Val back. Vahn may have been ignorant in some ways but he did hold some intelligence that gathering a fleet and facing the unknown was more logical then sitting around and arriving too late. With a heavy heart and a nod to Marc and Michael, Lance paced his way through the double doors into the next room.

MARC – Man, if Val we’re here right now he’d be pissed.

MICHAEL – Oh? Why is that?

MARC – It started back in the day Michael, before Versai Tech was even formed. There was a threat called The Krath that threatened to destroy the RA, Val held it in check but when Leia turned on him, he left and the RA was annihilated. Luckily in a second strike, their leader Ulic was mysteriously assassinated and their forces crumbled.

MICHAEL – Whoa, Val knows Leia Organa Solo too?

MARC – Well you could say that…but never get them in the same room. Val used to protect her, it’s because of him she’s lived as long as she has. When she turned on him, Val lost it. If Val ever saw Leia in the flesh again there is no telling what he might do.

MICHAEL – Nah, come on Marc Val wouldn’t let his personal feelings interfere with duty.

MARC – (glancing to Michael) Don’t be so sure…he’s human like anyone else. I gather Leia is lending her support in an attempt to redeem the sins of her past.

MICHAEL – (nods slowly) Val really has been around a long time hasn’t he?

Marc nods to Michael, and gestures for them to exit the Conference room, as he paces through the doors towards a turbolift. Thumbing a button on his wrist comlink, he orders a person on the other line to give him a detailed account of the remaining VT forces and orders every ship to be fully armed and ready for dispatch.

MARC – It’s our duty to make sure he remains that way.

The two disappear down a turbolift and head down to the hanger bays where various “wings” are being loaded into carrier vessels. ISDs, VSDs, Carrack Cruisers, Mon Cals, and other capitol ships are already in orbit in Tuulab’s atmosphere, awaiting their fighter cargo and supplies.
 
 


**END OF PART I**
 

[ Back to Main Story Page I To Part II ]


 

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