LegendsLog:The Deepening Dark
The primitive warriors of Onderon are a legend within the Republic, and not without cause: they fought the Sith for centuries from the backs of great native beasts with only lances and small arms, prevailing in bloody conflicts with the armies of Freedon Nadd and Exar Kun. In their finest hour, they had defeated an overconfident Mandalore the Indomitable in battle, driving him to an inglorious death in a monster's belly during the Great Sith War.
They had suffered terribly in the Mandalorian Wars which followed, as the neo-Crusaders took their revenge in battle and occupation. Now the planet is modernizing, with the backward Beast Riders becoming more of a romantic relic, rather than the powerful legions of prior centuries. Yet still they persist, and when the Jedi receive an appeal from the King and Queen of Onderon for help against a monster that even the fabled Beast Riders cannot contain, the Council elected to send help, though the Order was still reeling from recent losses.
The Jedi transport had been directed not to the capital city of Iziz, but to a landing among the desolate dun rock of the Onderan wastes. When the hatch opens, the Jedi emerge into the cloud of fine dust the thrusters had kicked up; as that cloud begins to settle, the nearby figure of a massive creature with a towering rider atop its shoulders becomes visible.
Gerus Blaze comes off the ramp of the transport, holding a hand up to cover his face from the kicked up dust from the backwash of the repulsor lifts. The first thing the yellow eyes of the Echani see are the beast and their riders. He is not exactpy atunned or in awww but he does give a wide a toothy smile in their presence as if happy and joyed to see such means being used.
Triana comes down off the ramp holding some of her robes over her motuh to keep the grit out while blinking through the dust. Once through it she turns to see what Gerus is looking at and stops stunned for a few moments before she speaks, "zoos eapeadaefa ghitiety toov sehef. eapeadaefa zoos atyfoo kosa neawa yvyka ghevaethie theseta?"
When the light from the wastes pours into the ship's personnel hold, it finds the greying Herbert Lavitz finishing the last of a smoke he flicks out of the ship and onto the sand. He holds his rifle by its carrying handle, and with his freed up hand, unclips his commando helmet and lifts it up. "Reckon he gets all the sand in his eyes up there. I could think of half a million places I'd be with a beast like that looking all noble and drek.." Lavitz tilts his head back, the long grey hanging back and out of his face so he can fit the helm on. <"Oh well. Let's go kill something and do good by royalty."> Rifle up, primed, and the old Commander stomps down the ramp.
The beast is an especially large green Boma, two meters tall at the scaled shoulder, and more than triple that from toothy snout to stubby tail. The rider on its back is a brick of a human, heavy and powerful in build, black bearded and dusky skinned, with the sides of his head shaved. Wearing a primitive brown tunic, leggings and boots, a large slugthrower slung on his back, and a three meter scrap metal lance at rest in one hand, the glowering Beast Rider turns a brown eye on the assembled visitors, as does his reptilian mount, a curious tilt of the Human's head toward Triana's unfamiliar speech.
His voice is deep and rough. "Dastun Gath. Be welcome to Onderan once again, Jedi." Apparently, the Republic soldiers who accompany the Jedi are also 'Jedi'.
Gerus Blaze continues to grin, "Glad to be back" He responds in that quiet but powerful voice of his. "So what is it you need of us?" A look back to pavitts with a nod, "Im sure in time you will get your fill."
Triana does a light bow to the one that addresses them and then turns to look over the surrounding area was she listens to the elder Jedi and their greeter converse.
<"Yeah, what have you got us killing this time?"> Lavitz calls out with a little bit more air of authority. He holds his rifle at a casual read, looking about as relaxed as a person at the spa. To Lavitz, the only two things people for Onderon were good at was killin' and rekkin. And they didn't call the Jedi here to rekk, that's for goddamn sure.
Dastun Gath answers solemnly, "Grim is the season when the Dxun take flight for the Demon Moon, and dark the day's fate when the Great Horned Destroyer rises from slumber to gorge upon blood and death, Jedi. Twice have the Beast Lords given it battle, and twice have we been defeated, with only one Rider surviving to summon you." A gesture to the Boma's back, behind him. "You may ride if you wish, and be told more. Then," he regards Lavitz with a dire, knowing smile. "The killing."
Triana approaches the indicated beast and slowly holds out her hand towards it letting the ani al get used to her presence before she mounts.
<"Now you're talking my language, son. Straight to the point."> Lavitz offers to help Triana onto the beast, then follows after her, finding a place near the back where he sat much like a trooper would riding on a tank. <"So.. we're here. Tell us more."> Grumbles the old vet while scanning their surroundings through a reflective visor. Filtered air from his helm tickled his beard.
Gerus raises a single white brow, turning back to look at Lavitz a moment before he gives a bow to Gath and proceeds to move to mount the beast in the passanger's area... Despite his ability to slay beasts doing harm to communities, his fame for such, he wasn't much of an animal-kin user. "Let us ride, and you may tell us the specifics as our counterpart says."
Dastun warns Triana deadpan, "Hold out your hand, and the Boma will think you offer it a morsel to be devoured," before giving a short grunt of humor that suggests he may have been joking. Maybe. Tough to tell, but the beast didn't try to snap at the Twi'lek, which is a good thing. The large war beast treads steadily, Dastun rocking with familiar balance at each of the big boma's steps. Passengers unfamiliar with riding may struggle for stability on the back of the beast as it descends a rocky slope into a long canyon, where withered and stunted trees had grown up among the stony soil, though the smell of decay is thick in the air. Far overhead, a keen eye might catch the sight of a great winged creature circling the canyon for several minutes, before angling away and flapping off to the south. As they go, the Beast Rider answers Lavitz and Gerus, "The beast is legendary, but I assure you: all too real. The Black King raised them up from the earth to storm our castles in the Great War, they returned to the Earth after his fall and have risen again when Dark omens grow strong. The present beast poisoned the ground before it rose, slaying many of the People and devouring the first war band sent against it. Nine days later, a second band found it. All but one fell. It is.." He lowers the lance point to perhaps 2 meters above his eye level. "So high. As wide as it is tall. As much head as body, with a great shield and spikes upon it's head. It passes on two hind legs and assails with the fire arms. Said to be proof against sorcery, but no wizards have been born to us for a generation."
Geruns listen's carefully, yellow eyes scanning the horizon and above them as the creature passes. "Herm... we'll just have to see what it is capable of then." This was very much Gerus' terriory, hunting troublesome beasts on some backwater world... thought Onderon wasn't exactly backwater anymore with the modernization.
"This may seem an uneducated question but... must we fight it? Perhaps it might be reasoned with." asks Triana the Padawan.
<"How did they bring them down before? I presume rocket propelled explosives.. or a ship."> Problem with ships left the creature untrackable. There was no method available to lock on, and to slow down to take a shot required a hotshot pilot with lightning fast reflexes and a penchant for hitting their target every time.
No such pilot existed that Lavitz had known. Well, maybe Carth Onasi, but Carth wasn't here.
Dastun Gath nods to Gerus, "Ride for.. two miles. Or thereabouts. Then, fight." Triana's question earns a look back over the Rider's shoulder and a raised black brow. "Haven't tried. It doesn't seem to talk with its mouth full. And its mouth is often full." Lavitz is answered, "Slay their Masters, defeat the greater darkness, and the Horned Destroyers return to sleep. But the Heart of Darkness is not here, to be fought. None have slain the Destroyers outright, except the Jedi." Didn't stop the Beast Riders from trying.
As they descend gradually to the canyon floor, what flora had managed to grow has visibly withered and died; twisted trees and smaller scrub brush, alike. The nearer to their destination they draw, the stronger the sense of taint and corruption grows. Though the sun still burns overhead, its warmth doesn't seem to reach them.
Then, the first remains are seen. What looks like a large, dismembered reptilian wing sits discarded against a broken tree. "We are close. Take to your feet," he advises the three passengers.
Triana nods and falls silent for the rest of the ride, contemplating the surroundings and listening to their guide. at his behest she leaps down from the boma and alights upon her feet.
"You can try Padawan, but as he says... they listen to their corrupt masters who I don't think are keen on talking it out." The Echani tells the young Twi'lek, a small smirk on his lips. He hops down when instructed to do so, moving forward at an even pace. He frowns at the display of dispare and death, the smell permiating his nostrils. The feeling of darkness and corruption like a sickness waiting to consume his entire being. "Hermmm." He remains vigilant.
Lavitz slides down to his feet and lands in a crouch, indicative of his age. When he straightens it's to the speed of his old back where he places a hand to stretch a moment and sigh in relief. <"..too old for this drek."> Lavitz laments, and he primes his weapon, adjusting its parameters for high explosive dual purpose impact. The massive cannon is brought about then, held with both hands and spooled up for action. The contrail of the LIDAR laser tracker was lost in the dust that was stirred up.
The stirring of a dark, unclean presence is unmistakable as the hunters approach its lair. The 'Great Horned Destroyer' was aptly described, but the sight of it is terrible, nevertheless. Wicked glowing eyes and gory fangs fix upon the two Jedi with a bike snarl. Much as their guide had guessed, its fanged mouth was full with some unfortunate meal. A meaty, crunchy meal that was wearing a boot.
When they come upon the beast and its meal, Gerus pauses and studies it. He wasn't much for calling thing abominations or being mean spirited to anyone who chose a different philiosophy... he just didn't like to see people hurt over bickering wizards... and this thing was a beastly wizard hurting things... So it was apt to call it an abomination of the Force. Never the less, Gerus would try the Padawan's request at Diplomacy. "Hey there fellah. Listen, I don't want to hurt you or anything but... You might want to put the meal down and come out of there." Of course Gerus wasn't sure what he'd do if he was successful, he didn't have much hope. He let he force flow through him, preparing for the inevitable strike from the prickly foe.
There is no question now as the thing is revealed from the Padawan. she takes a moment moving her arms together and closing her eyes. after several moments she then draws her sable lightly spinning the handle before igniting the blade, glancing aside at Gerus for a moment, "I hope it works."
There's something to be said for a soldier's bravery. It was simple. Aim toward your problems, pull the trigger until the problem was solved. Today was an example where the problem was not so simple, and it struck back. Lavitz went cyclic rate, yelling as he opened fire with the massive cannon. The problem with a massive cannon? Lack of dexterity. Lavitz was there one moment, and a swing later, he wasn't. He landed in a pile of armor and steaming cannon, the compensators still orange hot and spinning despite Lavitz's absence of life. He was gone. 57 years in the republic army, and they just saved on the pension. That's good business.
The terentatek does indeed emerge as Gerus had asked, though it is more of a ravenous charge than a cooperative agreement. Fangs bared, horned head lowered, and claws grasping toward the Force saturated flesh of the Jedi with a hideous shriek.
Their guide brandishes his lance with a battle cry and urges the hulking boma into a charge- for courage and the shared bond, the beast obeys. "Day will come, again!" the Rider roars, striking on the charge, and cracking one of the great monster's chitinous plates, but doing no great harm. The Terentatek focuses its hateful assault on the one holding the cannon which had scored its hide, to terrible and mortal effect.
Gerus watches Lavitz fly across the room, surprisd by the sudden burst of havy canon fire towards the beast. The Echani's unusual yellow eyes roam over the corpse of the Rpublic Military Vet, blinking is silence. There is an equally quiet look to Triana before he returns his focus to the advancing beast and the attacking locals. There a loud growl of annoyance from the white haired Sentinel before he manages a single word. "Frell..." In a very rough yet quiet voice, dripping with disdain. That's when he chareges forth an pluncges his lightsaber into the center of the beast while it's distraced. Puing the laser sword out after twisting it inside, he swings it wide and in powerfully trained velocities. The beast is quicker and avoids those. THe blade scorches ground, leaving a mark for many eons to come.
Triana watches their companion take the full rage of the beast before them and she hesitates for several.moments until the charge of Boma completes. The Twi'lek dashes forward and then darts about to the side around the Boma to get at the creature's heels though she slips in some of the grasses and fumbles the swing nearly crashing into the leg before spinning away to face it a few feet back from its foot.
As the Jedi find some success against the Sith spawned monstrosity, the Beast Rider resolves to keep the Horned Off of the lightsaber wielding Jedi for as long as he can, pressing a charge at the terentatek. He succeeds. The vile creature's claws tend into his faithful steed (loyal little murder lizard!) sending Dastun tumbling, and making the Boma screech is pain for an instant before the Destroyer bites off its head.
Taking another opportunity on the ail end of the deadly and fatal attack on the bomba, Gerus the master swordsmen cuts deep into the right leg of the beast, hoping to diable it greatly if not cleave the appendage all the way off with his sowrd. He twirls the blade around expertly before slashing out again at the torso... On his final volocity, the beast catches on to the surprise and is able to barely avoid the last attack from the Knight.
Triana backs up a couple slow steps and then looks about their battlefield. spotting several of the lances strewn about from the attack on the beast of burden the young Padawan raises her right hand and reaches out grabbing her fingers in a fist while channeling the Force. "I will try to pin it in place!" She calls out, the floating spear turning about and then launching itself through the thigh of the creature.
The bond between Beast and Rider is not mystical, but it is close, and the slaughtered boma makes one more friend lost to the Great Horned Destroyer. A Beast Rider with no more beast to ride, Dastun climbs back to his feet near where Lavitz's remains fell, sparing a muttered, "Now is the killing, Jedi," to the old soldier, and charging back at the monster, now on foot.
The Terentatek is slashes by Gerus, and finds its other leg impaled by Triana. A seat at Gerus Blaze accomplishes nothing, but a sudden lurch and grasp does snare Triana in its three massive fingers, seeking to squeeze the life from the young Jedi, before she slips through its fingers at the last instant.
Gerus watches as Triana is almost grabbed by the abominable beast. His face sets to that of seriousness and determination. If the deaths of the Bomba and CDR Lavitz hadn't trigged him to take this seriously, the grabbing of the young learner did. Wih unbridaled brutality, Gerus unleashes his azure blade, carving into the beast with deadly percision untill it was felled and well dead. "Are you okay, padawan?" He asks of the young Twi'lek.
The Twi'lek snarls ferally at the beast as it snatches her up dropping her saber and letting it extinguish as she works on writhing free. As Triana stumbles upright and pulls the saber back to her hand the beast is felled. She lowers her hands and nods at the question. "What of the commander?" She asks with a bit if urgency before dashing off towards the crumpled remains of their companion.
The no-longer Beast Rider lets out a long held breath as the monstrosity is finally laid low. When Triana asks after Lavitz and hurries to see the old soldier's fate, Dastun answers, "He fought, he fell, he made his ancestors proud. Few are the folk to have had a hand in slaying such a foe; he will be buried as a hero."