Emryc was launched into the air and grimaced, quickly grasping at his sunglasses to keep them from flying off. A Force wielder as powerful as himself didn’t have their concentration break so easily and his shard meant he still had his hooks in the mind of the Killik general. The half Sephi felt a barrier around himself as he landed with a thud on the ground, the gesture protecting him from further harm. Emryc quickly rose to his feet, keeping his focus on Nirn.
“Fire a round at the Killik queen’s head!”Emryc called out to three artillery droids as they aimed their missiles once more and fired at the target now in the sky. At the same time, Emryc doubled down on his attack, reinforcing the shard in an attempt to twist and carve through her mind in an effort to completely disorient her.
The ISC General on the field ordered all the droids to actively pursue Killik attempting to reach the bacta. Meanwhile, he ordered another platoon of droids to assist in the building in an attempt to engage the Killik there. The goal was to clear a path for the defenders that were searching for the Cadir.
The sound of multiple blaster discharging was heard a split second before the zipping red light of several high speed bolts of plasma barely missed the Mandalorian. Instead they wizzed past him and Smoe Jith to find their target along with Hauron’s own placed shots. The combined yellow and red blaster bolts managed to burn parts of the insectoid exoskeleton and find their mark on the joints. The more vulnerable parts of the Killik’s anatomy received enough damage to finally put the two assassin killiks down for good.
Hauron turned to look at who had joined Smoe and him only to see it was one of the politicians carrying a DL-44 blaster pistol. The man did not look like he was the type to be using such a weapon but Hauron could tell from looking at the ambassador that he had the resolve to use the pistol all the same. A short nod from the Solus to the man would give the Brentaalan an unceremonious thank you for the assistance.
Briefly looking around, trying to listen for the clicking of mandibles or other insectoid body parts, the Mandalorian would quickly holster his two Westar-35s. The pistols were reliable and could drop a normal target, especially with multiple bolts put down range. But the stopping power did not seem like it was enough. The Mandalorian drew the Galaar-15 blaster carbine from his back. The short blaster rifle could pack a significantly greater punch than the twin pistols. It was a trade off for less shots placed down range but Hauron would definitely be more accurate than with trying to dual wield the pistols, even if they had less recoil than the blaster carbine.
As he brandished his swapped weapons, the badger looked at the older gentleman and spoke. “Do you…ah..have any idea where Cadir Gyxik is?” His once immaculate armor was clearly damaged in places. A flash scorched chest plate riddled with wrents, tears and scrapes was just the tip of the iceberg. He favored his right side and was clearly injured to some degree. But he wasn't worried about himself in that moment. The Mikkian's focus was still on the objective. Hopefully Claudius could provide some enlightening information. He hoped the politician would follow him and even perhaps talk as they walked unless there was some immediate updates because Hauron would begin to head towards where he thought the stairwell was.
Thayd’s eyes narrowed and a jolt of alarm shot through him as he made out the sound of labored breath rasping from somewhere in the darkness of the generator room. He wasn’t sure if the others had heard it or not, but to Thayd it was unmistakable. Before he could advance farther into the room to find the source of this breathing, X3R and Ruzaan hurried past him to get to the Cadir. Even by the faint light of the stairwell spilling in up against the hard solid blackness of the depths of sub-level A, Thayd could tell that the hideous growths and tumors lining the stairwell originated from this area. He wanted to plunge into these depths and pull up this filth by the root, but his better judgment told him that sticking together was the right choice for the time being.
Backing out of the generator room, into the stairwell again, Thayd continued down, this time at the end of the trio, behind both Ruuzan and X3R. They could make much better time now, as the carpet of flesh pods or whatever it was didn’t extend this far down. As they neared the bottom of the stairs, Thayd watched as Ruuzan charged ahead down the corridor leading to the Cadir’s panic room, with X3R following. The Anzat would hang back, choosing to stay at a position on the stairs where he could target the killiks and Jyt from a higher vantage point than Ruuzan or X3R. He raised his blaster and prepared to fire. From the spot where he stood, he would hopefully be able to take aim and safely fire over the heads of his comrades. He aimed four shots, one at Jyt the Vratix, and the other three at any killiks surrounding him, hopefully softening them up just before Ruzaan would come charging in with his lightsaber.
Roman would find his attack successful, though he would have come a little closer to the killik than he'd intended. Should the Sith have read the manual that comes with his dual phase lightsaber, he would have known that the maximum length of the blade was a mere two meters, compared to the six he was expecting.
Of course, no one should have been surprised by this mix-up, since men always tended to overexaggerate the size of their lightsaber blades. Regardless, though, the Sith would find himself alone but unaccosted in the tunnels beneath Thyferra. Hopefully, given his injuries, he'd be found by rescuers.
Arla’s best attempts at making her allies look like the latest Mr. Weird, DDS movie was impressive, it did little to help them. The blast from Nirn rocketed Draugr and Zak backwards with the same kind of ragdoll physics you saw in Methespa games.
Emryc, unsurprisingly, was far less affected. As the ISC President continued to twist his mindshard in Nirn’s brain, she was finding it harder and harder to summon the power necessary to effectively combat everything coming at her.
The blaster shots from Veer slammed into the barrier Nirn had erected around herself, causing it to splinter. Being unable to focus herself in any meaningful capacity, the artillery strikes from the ISC droids would be a very, very compromising follow up.
Just like the killik-dragon before her, Nirn was bombarded on all sides by the missile fire. Her barrier shattered completely, Nirn unable to bring together the focus required to maintain it. The first few missiles would have been mitigated, but there were many more that followed. Each one slammed into her body and exploded violently, sending parts and pieces of Nirn in every conceivable direction.
The Killik General had been bested by the teamwork displayed by those gathered on Thyferra. Despite their ideological differences, they’d managed to forge a solid enough alliance to defeat her. It was a testament to what could be accomplished by those that under normal circumstances would call themselves mortal enemies.
Of course, the display of Killik power on Thyferra was but a taste of what the Hivemind was truly capable of. Those that bore witness to Thyferra only saw what a toe dipped in the water looked like. The full might of the Hive would be far more devastating, and much, much harder to kill.
The killik forces that remained on the surface would still fight, but the ISC would find them much less unified and easier to roll over than before. Their Hivemind scrambling for leadership, it would be like none of the bugs could truly focus through all of the voices vying for dominance.
The surface of Thyferra, at least for today, appeared to have been won.
Inside the Building
As Veer, Clove and Alia made their way into the vents of the building, they wouldn’t find much resistance. Traversing the vents was easy enough, though with no real sense of direction, it was hard for the trio to know exactly which way they were going.
Eventually, they’d manage to wriggle over the dust and corpses of long dead rats and find themselves over a large air grate in the ceiling, just over top of where Arctus stood watching the mayhem unfolding just outside as the killiks tried forcing their way inside but were still stymied by ever increasing ISC droid forces.
Through the vents, Veer, Clove and Alia would suddenly see several large killik burst through the floor of the building, perhaps on a last ditch effort to circumvent the ISC droids. Though, with the loss of their General, the killikipedes were much less focused and almost entirely feral.
The beasts would rear up with otherworldly screeching in front of Arctus, seeing the Jedi Padawan as the only threat and leaving the trio able to take them by surprise if they so wished.
As luck would have it. Hauron would hear the sound of the ground floor killiks screeching as he made it to the stairwell, giving him a good indication that heading downward would be the best bet.
Elsewhere, further down, X3R, Ruz and Thayd continued their descent to sublevel b. The group’s sudden attack would take Jyt and his small force of killik by heavy surprise, as they seemed to be completely ensconced with trying to get the door open and not much else.
The shouting from the droids pulled their attention with just enough time for the killiks and Jyt to turn around and get a face full of blaster fire. With the targets softened, Ruz was able to carve through them all with ease, his lightsaber slicing clean through his enemies until he was face to face with Jyt.
The Joined Vratix didn’t even attempt to defend himself, so all Ruz would see when he removed the man’s head from his shoulders was a blank, unblinking stare - one that wouldn’t leave the Vratix’s face as his head rolled along the ground.
With his would-be abductors finally dealt with, Gyxik would start banging on the door of the panic room in triumph before activating the intercom.
The code is 0-9-1-5-3-9-6-3-8-1-3-7-3-6-A-Z-Q-L-O-K-T-9-2-7-4-2-0!! He shouted as clearly as possible. Please get me out of here!
The death of Nirn echoed even with the killik forces that weren’t on the surface. With their main plains seemingly foiled, the space battle too seemed to be won for the ISC and Hapans.
Through their viewports, Altronis and Charlotte would suddenly see the killik ships turning away from them in retreat. While they would still somewhat attempt to stave off continued losses, it would be clear that fighting was no longer their primary objective.
Sustained losses would continue to mount against the retreating force should they be pursued. Unfortunately, the CDF forces would at this point have been completely obliterated, not a single ship left standing.
The two Admirals would be able to claim a victory here in the inky blackness above Thyferra, though the true cost of that victory would only be known in the coming days. Thousands of lives had been lost and hundreds of ships, both of which were not easily replaced overnight.
One thing that both of them could take away, though, was the glimpse they had received into Killikian tactics. Information that would likely prove invaluable in the inevitable battles that would come.
For now, though, as the hulls of ships burned as bright as the stars that were their backlight, Altronis and Charlotte could take a breath. They had survived when so many others had not.
Arla's illusion didn't do... a whole lot. How could she have anticipated such an explosive AoE attack? Nevertheless, she saw the creature go down in a hail of detonations and fiery death, and as soon as it did, something seemed to lift from around her. The oppressive weight of solitary purpose and power in the Force seemed to subside, and it was a welcome relief.
For a moment, Arla was simply rooted in place. Unwilling or unable to move forward to investigate for fear that it was all fake, but that didn't seem to be the case. She could see the Killiks retreating and she dropped down from her ledge to make her way over.
With the enemy dead, she turned her attention to allies instead. Particularly, her interests fell on those she knew were from Dathomir. While Alia seemed to have headed in another direction during the fight, she could see Draugr - badly wounded - on the ground, and only paused in a moment's hesitation before making her way over. She pulled the medpack from her gear and got to work immediately.
Master Draugr, are you okay? What's injured the worst? she asked (@Scoobert), setting to work with the bacta sprays and patches to get him back together and - eventually - out of the line of further fire and to safety.
Tends to Draugr's injuries and makes sure he gets to safety.
Altronis watched as the fleets pounded against one another and flashes of light marked out the hulls that cracked in two. Killik ships, ISC, Hapan, all died in droves, and there was no joy in this victory. In fact, there was a growing disdain for these bug-like creatures that had just wasted so many lives, and forced him to kill so many of his own people.
Despite the lack of joy in the victory as the Killik forces began to retreat, there was a sense of relief he experienced. Along with a sense of surprise. Surely the combined ISC and FWA forces had been winning, but enough to call a full retreat? Altornis wasn't convinced. At the moment, he had no way of knowing what had happened on the surface or the death of the Killik general.
Yet even as a portion of the ISC ships turned to pursuing and harassing the Killik ships, their retreat seemed to be true. They left he system, and the two leaders of their respective peoples were left to look out at nothing but the floating chunks of metal that had once been star cruisers.
He pressed a button and opened comms first to ISC command.
This is Admiral Altronis. Killik forces have made a full retreat. Our losses were severe and the entire Core Defense Force for this sector was lost to the enemy's manipulations. No survivors from the CDF. Space above Thyferra is secure, he said. After a exchange to pass on other brief but necessary information, he closed the comm channel and opened another once again to the Hapans.
We pulled out a victory, Queen Mother. The ISC offers its sincerest thanks to you and your crew, he said (@Valen Pelora). He didn't even care at this point if it wasn't done out of the kindness of their hearts, it had been done.
He'd have offered directly for them to refit, resupply, and refuel on the planet's surface, but frankly he had no idea if that was even possible right now. Instead, he turned his attention back to the reports from the surface and then relayed the good news.
It appears the battle on the surface is turning into a victory as well, he said, finally taking a breath of relief for the first time since this had all begun. There was still much to do, but for the moment, he let himself catch his breath.
Charlotte felt something. A change she could not quite understand. If the Force was not so far out of reach…she may have known better. As it was, the feeling was just that. A feeling. That sense coincided with the Killik fleet suddenly retreating. Her eyes swept across the holomap. The CDF forces were decimated. Nothing remained of the Core Fleet. Her own forces had taken heavy casualties during the fray. Charlotte slowly shook her head. “Recall our fighters and bombers.” The bridge was oddly silent. The voices of her loyal officer muted. “Run casualty reports.” Her orders were silently carried out. The voice of Admiral Altronis suddenly coming through. She should have smiled but for some reason did not seem to have it in her.
“Thank you, Admiral. This is but the beginning. Should you need us again, we will answer the call.” The com clicked off. The casualty reports began streamlining in. It was worse than she expected. “Com the surface. Let them know we will evacuate any who request it. Whatever support we have left is free to Thyferra.” Charlotte clicked her tongue. “How far away are our reserves?” The Vice Admiral stepped up. “A few hours, your highness.” She nodded slowly. “Good, we will make them available as well.” The Queen Mother straightened her uniform. “Call home. Put the entire Consortium on high alert. Lock down Commenor and tell the governor we will need his men.” Again, her orders were rapidly carried across the bridge. Charlotte breathed a shuddering breath.
“I will be in my quarters.” The bridge bowed in unison, and she took the door to her private quarter beside the bridge. She waived the Chume’doro from the room. What was wrong with her? She took another shuddering breath. She was Queen Mother. She did not care. She was alive…that was all that mattered. The Queen Mother sunk to her knees. Tears streamed down her face. Damn.
One.Ruzaan's lightsaber sliced through a kilik, taking it down.
Two. Another strike, another kill. Nothing left in the room besides him and Jyt.
Three. The Cadir's safety- if only for the moment- was secured.
No sooner had the Joined Vratix's head been unjoined from its shoulders than the Cadir was spouting off the security code, distracting the Togruta from the fact that he'd just killed someone who wasn't fighting back. There was no doubt in his mind that Jyt had been threatening the Cadir just moments before, but it was an unsettling feeling nonetheless.
Briefly, Ruzaan wondered what kind of security room locked its door from the outside. Wouldn't it make more sense for the controls and code to only be accessible from the inside? The current design was asking for this exact scenario to be played out, with the Cadir panicking and begging to be released from a room that only outsiders could open. "Did they install the door backwards?" Ruzaan asked the Cadir, after finally managing to release the man from his prison. However, he just as soon realized that this was not a conversation that needed to be had at the moment and held up a hand to forestall the Cadir's answer. He, X3R, and Thayd had made it down to Sublevel B... now they had to get back up, and he didn't trust the Cadir not to step on the orbs lining the walls and the staircase.
Unfortunately, it was that or go rappelling up the elevator shaft, which seemed even more dangerous given the Cadir's current emotional state. The Togruta resorted to attempting a modified Jedi Mind Trick on the man in order to calm him down, although he wasn't sure if the subsequent relaxation he was in the Cadir's eyes was due to its success or the adrenaline draining out of his system now that the imminent danger had passed.
Either way, it was time to get out of here.
Ruzaan would lead the Cadir carefully up the stairs, footsteps and lightsaber leading and lighting the way for the man. It sounded as if the battle was going in the rescuer's favor; with any luck, they were nearly to safety.
Clove tigered her way up into the vent, clutching Veer's(@Altaris) hand a little too tightly for support. "Of course." Clove's lips curled up into a faint smile in response to the man's genuine but brief thank you, though it was difficult to see in the dim light of the vent. Clove began to crawl after Alia(@Wit) joined them in the vent, having no idea where she was going but... well. She'd follow Veer.
Light hit her eyes as they passed through a vent opening, revealing Arctus(@Forsythe Crowholde) and a swarm of Killik bursting through the Floor. Clove blinked, staring at the worst Killik she'd ever seen. Even the goliath Killik was less scary to her. "Wait!" She told the Sith and Sniperman next to her while janking the top of her barrel in between the vent slits, aiming down at one of the beasts in front of Arctus. "Duck!" Clove yelled at Arctus, in case the Killik's blood was acidic. She gave him a split second to move before pulling the trigger several times and launching a volley of bolts at the Killik.
The bolts rained down on the Killik, burning through its flesh and forcing it to the ground.
When Clove saw the Killik fall, she pulled the barrel out of the grid and pressed her heel against it. "I'm goin' down to help Arctus and see what's goin' on; those bugs are behavin' weird!" She called out to Veer and Alia. "Thank you for everythin', whatever it is you end up doin'!" She wouldn't blame them if they kept crawling through the vent instead of jumping right into the fight, though she secretly wished they'd reach out to each other on Switter after everything was said and done.
The half-Annfyn groaned as she strained to straighten her spine and bend her knees. Why did heroes pose like that?! Or was she just getting old at 19? No time to linger on it though. Clove lifted her blaster from the ground and aimed at the Killik furthest away from Arctus, shooting it in the neck, where she knew her bolts would land easily. And it did, burning through the flesh and killing it.
Clove looked around the room when the Killik collapsed, seeing that Arctus was handling the other ones just fine. Her large brown eyes were fixed on the windows and doors, watching the Killiks behave strangely, the droids taking the upper hand. The sound of Ruz's(@SlagathorTheUnknown) footsteps, along with a few others, reached the girl's fluted ears, signaling that the Jedi and Sith had completed their mission. At least, that's what she hoped. All of this left her with one unanswered question: where was Zak(@Apollyon)?
"Let's meet up at the ships once everythin' is okay?" She called out to Arctus and Ruz, as well as anyone else who happened to be nearby, before making her way to one of the many broken windows. She pushed away some of the broken glass shards with her sleeve and gauntlets and jumped through the window frame to get back outside.
Clove realized it would be impossible to find Zak with all of the fighting Killiks, so she was going to do what she did best today: climb onto something. And so she found a tall torn down wall, hopped on it as gracefully as her legs and spine would allow, and began scanning the area from a better point of view. She had a vague idea where to look; the last time she saw him, he was somewhere with that strange bug lady, who by the looks of it was nothing but splattered remains.
The half-Annfyn finally spotted a lekku, next to some debris, after a few minutes of staring. Was he... dead? Sugar! Clove instantly lowered herself down the rock and began running towards the debris; the Killik were far too fixated with what seemed to to be a last-ditch effort against the droids to notice her. The half-Annfyn quickly found the location of his Lekku and was relieved to see the rest of his body attached to it. Although he was in a bad shape. "I got you, Zak!" She said to him, unsure if he could even hear her. Clove boosted her muscles with whatever Force she had left in her energy pool, allowing herself to grab Zak by the arm and carefully lift him up. But even with the Force, he was heavy, and her body was quickly reaching its limits, as evidenced by a pounding headache that made it near impossible to concentrate.
It was a long and painful walk to the ships, but thankfully some soldiers noticed her struggle and began to help in carrying the man to safety.
- Clove shoots a Killik through those openings you have in ceiling vents.
- Clove kicks the vent open and drops down into a superhero pose, which she regrets.
- Clove kills another Killik.
- Clove leaps out of the window to find Zak.
- Clove gets on a tall wall for the high ground and eventually spots Zak.
- Clove gets to Zak, grabs him while using her last bit of remaining energy and begins to drag him to safety.
The politician seemed to be in a brief state of being helpful. But Hauron was not sure how much longer that was going to last. Now the Mandalorian had to protect two people and that wasn't even including the Cadir who he had yet to find.
Grumbling, the young Mandalorian began to descend the stair well. His blaster carbine was drawn and leveled down the stair way as he made his way down. If any Killiks presented themselves they would each get a double tap of the heavy blaster rifle. Furthermore, the Mandalorian could raise his right wrist and trigger his armor mounted flame projector if things got dicey.
Unless he was slowed, the Mandalorian would sweep down to sublevel B where he heard the commotion. The other saviors had already made their way through a number of the Killiks, hopefully making it easy on the solus. It was better if they stuck together rather than split up now that Hauron's jetpack was out of commission.