Iliabeth is a minor system, by any measurements. As habitable planets go, it numbers one, a desolate pale yellow rock, not particularly large or valuable. It counts a few small, scattered semi-nomadic humanoid settlements, minimal natural resources, and had long since been heavily strip mined to remove what desirable minerals had once existed. To the larger galaxy it is worthless.
To those with secret knowledge, it has two points of interest: first, a covert Czerka Corporation research lab, and second that it is one of the nearest planets to the Stygian Caldera, and as such is a key part of the Empire's perimeter. Thus, a Sith Interdictor cruiser and trio of Derriphan battleships had occupied the system. The facility and its guardian fleet had gone silent hours ago.
No distress call had been received.
The wreckage of these capital ships and their attached fighters still drifted in the upper reaches of the gravitational pull of Iliabeth, when the bleeding edge Phantom-class transport discreetly enters the system.
Still strapped in as the stealth ship headed toward the planet, Tai closes her eyes and immerses herself in the Force in preparation for the potential fight ahead. Fingers tapping gently on her thighs, she starts to get that buzz at the back of her neck. That ever so familiar sensation that something's not right. "Lady Revan, I've got a bad feeling about this. Something at the Facility... I'm not sure what exactly at this range. But we should be prepared for anything."
It's Revan at the helm of the interceptor. The stark grey vessel with reddish purple engines left a slight contrail through space after exiting its hyperspace jump. Revan is the one who pulled the lever back, then adjusted impulse to take them in. Without her mask, the former Jedi Knight looks youthful. Her fair features are easy on the eyes, with lips that form a thoughtful line, and eyes that seem lost in the depths of the void.
"No Imperial signals that I can see. Just the wreckage." It's a small matter to navigate the high-tech vessel toward the planet. Revan reaches up to engage shields just before they begin to angle toward atmosphere. "Ready yourself. If it is the unknown that we face, then let us face it absent any uncertainty. The Force is our ally."
Revan finds an ideal landing zone and brings the ship into place, slapping several switches before engaging the landing skids. With a soft whine, the vessel settles down. From behind the two ladies, the loud, clanking footsteps of an 8ft tall Assassin droid arrives. "Statement: You will be needing me on this one, Master." Revan smirks, unfastening her restraints. "HK.. I always need you." Revan says, patting his arm when she passed.
"Assessment: You are not wrong, master.-- Observation: While you are indeed powerful master, you are /still/ a meatbag. -- Statement: My presence will shore up this weakness."
"I'm sure you will, HK." Says Revan, who engages the ramp to lower down.
The dun colored planet looms larger as the Phantom interceptor descends into the atmosphere. Breaking through cloud cover on the dark side of the world, the grey plated Phantom cuts through the starless black sky, before settling to the Earth on the outskirts of the Czerka facility.
Scanners had read no life on approach, the facility's powerful shield generator had been overloaded and destroyed, with smoke still rising from its ruin. An initial survey of the facility lends the impression that the entire complex was smote with some gigantic fiery hammer, as everything above ground has been leveled and charred. But the underground levels- the high security projects and datacores may yet remain intact, even if twisted durasteel and shattered permacrete choke the central turbolift shaft.
Tai makes her way down the ramp after they land, hands hovering close to her sabers. She kneels and presses one hand to the ground, before shaking her head. "Can't... pick anything out of the noise. I can't see past the destruction, the terror of the people here when it happened."
"Statement: Master, I know these marks. We have met before!" HK-47 says, stepping from the ramp to walk toward a crater. His bronzium head adjusts, red eyes scanning while he panned with his massive rifle. "Statement: Yesss, this is my old friend. TRB-122-3BR ventral cannon blasts. These were the result of--" Revan cuts the droid off, casting her cape back after stepping past Tai to look for herself. "..orbital bombardment. Hence the terror. If you'd been on the ground when these things went off, you'd be scared too." Revan says, stepping past the crater to walk toward the remnants of the facility. "Statement: That is unlikely master. Clarification: Fear is not in my programming." The droid says in a preening voice. It follows its master loyally, pausing to look back at Tai. "The answers we seek will be inside. Search for a means to get below ground."
"Well... I'd say that would have been it." Tai gestures towards where the distinctive shape of a Turbolift guide rail projects from the ruins, currently mostly shattered and melted. Raising one hand, she reaches out with the Force and is able to lift some of the smaller debris out of the way, but a massive chunk of duracrete is wedged in the shaft. "It's really... stuck in there..."
"There is nothing that cannot be solved with the proper application of force." Revan replies, raising her own hand to command her influence of the force over the object wedged in the shaft. At first, the sound of grinding metal began, then objects began to fall as Revan, in conjunction with Tai, pulled the duracrete free.
It lumbered by overhead, casting a distinct shadow as small bits of blasted dirt and crumbling duracrete plopped off to plunk in the ground around them. When it was at a safe distance, Revan lowered her hand and took a deep breath, sweat beading over her brow.
The jagged echo of detritus rattling into the darkness underground is audible above the faint automated alerts that warn, <-nger, Code Grey. Full facility lockdown is in effect. Danger, Code Grey-> The words echo in the vertical passage, a full hundred feet of descent needed to reach the first of Czerka's subterranean vaults.
"...Code Grey. That's a new one." Tai ignites one of her sabers to provide some light on the way down, before stepping off the edge. She bouys herself in the force, more floating downwards than falling, and lands at the bottom with about as much impact as stepping off a chair.
Revan steps after the acolyte, passing her in descent to land first in the darkness. Despite Revan's velocity, the impact was countered and absorbed by an unseen barrier projected beneath the former Knight. The impact, and subsequent recovery, happens simultaneously with the sudden release of the pressure built up from her landing. Small bits of debris, dust, and larger objects are cast from her 'circle'.
HK-47 follows the two dark ladies, landing like a hero below, and rising a moment after impact. He frees his weapon from his back and begins to scan idly, stepping past the violent blade wielding Tai Cirra, and the quiet Dark Lord.
The turbolift platform is at the first of the facility's sublevels, now non operational. If the Sith (and HK) want to delve deeper, it will require cutting through the locked platform. Although the rubble-strewn lift platform is dead, emergency power still functions in the crippled facility, and if not for the ominous red shade of the lights, the sterile corridors branching off at right angles from the turbolift hub appear intact, with a large Czerka logo emblazoned on the floor. Other than piles of soil from where the heavy bombardment had damaged the structure enough to allow dirt to trickle through, the hallways look pristine. Signage indicates paths to data storage, conference rooms, and research facilities alpha through Theta.
Making her way into the corridor, Tai pauses at a wall terminal in a recessed nook. Letting her saber hover in the air behind her she tries to type in a few commands, but all the duracrete dust has utterly ruined the interface. Half the keys just stay stuck down. Sighing in frustration, she rests her fingertips on the screen and pushes her awareness into the system. It responds, data flashing across the screen. "The attack was about five and a half hours ago or so, or at least that's when comms went down. Bombardment came after that, and apparently something called 'Grey Harvest' broke containment from the barrage. That's why the place is on lockdown. ...Really don't like the sound of that. Any idea what they were working on here, Lady Revan?" Pushing a bit harder, Tai tries to get the machine to disgorge any information it may have on what that project is.
"Grey Harvest." Revan says softly, looking over Tai's shoulder briefly before turning toward the darkness. "I'm not certain, but I suspect our answers might be found should we look to the data storage. HK can download what we need for an assessment, provided it is still functioning." Revan wiped her hand over a sign, clearing it of dust. "Data storage is this way. HK.. take us in."-- "Statement: With pleasure, master." Revan takes the rear of the group. "Good find, Ms. Cirra."
Researching 'Project Grey Harvest' is impossible from the current terminal, as attached information is behind several layers of encryption. To days storage they proceed, and that is where the first bodies are discovered. Rather tame, as discovering corpses goes: roughly a dozen bodies, eight humans in the uniforms of Czerka Corp lifetime technicians, a smaller number of what look like purple humanoids, long black hair, tendrils growing from their chins. All appear to have died either from blaster burns, or blunt trauma. The main data core can be accessed from here.
Without the assistance of the Force in creating a direct connection to the AI, accessing Grey Harvest is still prevented, as the project is heavily classified. But.. the facility AI is rather proud of it, and so even as the HK unit is preparing measures to prepare the core for removal, Tai receives some of the information in a mechanical voice emitting from the terminal speakers. <Project Grey Harvest is the effort to analyze, extrapolate, and weaponize the compounds present in K-VCS-01, in order to produce the perfect modern soldier. What is KCS-01? I am so glad you asked! Korriban-Viis Cadaver Sample Zero One is a fascinating compound of alchemical and biological properties, which when administered to primitive hosts produces->
The chipper chatter becomes the second most notable noise in the room, as- all at once, the thirteen corpses stir, and rise.
As the terminal speaks, the tingling sensation on the back of Tai's neck continues to grow, rising to a fever pitch. The zabrak's free hand drops to her unlit saber and ignites it, a massive spike in the vibe warning her just in time to spin around and decapitate two of the zombies rising to attack her. "Shabuirs were playing god!" Pushing the tension back, she immerses herself in the force and readies herself for battle.
The voice of the AI has Revan pulling her mask from her belt and placing it over her face. The soft hiss of the seal is accompanied by the flutter of her hood rising. The rise of test subjects has Revan backpedaling slightly, drawing upon her connection with the force to activate her lightsabers. First red, shading the dark warrior beneath its hue, then violet which shown as bright as Tai's, humming with a particular hunger.
"Statement: Assassination protocols activated. Targetting parameters adjusted. Prejudice set to maximum!" Announces HK, who promptly disintegrates one nearest him, but misses two others as he's struck by their blaster fire.
Revan ducks under two, cutting down the two that launched themselves at her with wide, simultaneous strikes that split the bodies into halves. Her boots squeal on the floor as she slides into a stance post momentum of her swing. Seemingly encased in by the glare of her dual blades, the Dark Lord grins, dancing back into the fray.
The facility AI patters proudly on, <-a soldier immune to elements- excepting temperatures high enough to vaporize bone, of course- hunger, disease, and injury. Even dismembered, subjects of Project Grey Harvest maintain up to thirty percent combat capability-> No sooner had that been pointed out than the Sith ladies and the heavily besieged HK might notice that yes, severed limbs were indeed still writhing around, one severed hand holding a pistol squeezes repeatedly, firing blindly into a wall over and over. <Recruitment is also a problem of the past, as sentient life forms terminated by Grey Harvest replenish the ranks->
"Destroy the guns! And please tell me you we can drop some baradium warheads down this hole when we leave!" Tai flicks her blades outwards, carving through the zombies approaching her. Dismember them, disable their weapons, and stay nimble. That's what she has to do
Revan deactivates her lightsabers simultaneously and hooks them to her belt. A massive wave through her connection with the force begins to resonate as the Dark Lord displays her knowledge of the dark side of the force. Having such command of this power, Revan stations her hands at the center of her torso and forms a circle by curling her fingers.
Power begins to form there, swirling in a spiral fashion as smoke, initially, but fire forms at the atomic level as the space between her hands becomes super heated /fire/! Revan casts this outward, peppering several of the test subjects with it, before attempting an exhausting technique to force these combatants away. She failed in this second half, growling as she stumbles a step, heaving.
HK-47 slams a test subject into the ground before shoving the barrel of his weapon into its mouth and disintegrating it. He pivots then, firing from the hip like some stylish six shooting gunslinger, catching two others with maximum prejudice. There's no taunts from the pissed off droid. Just action. He /must/ protect his master.
Revan made no comments to burning the place down. They needed the data first, THEN.. they nuked it from orbit.
<-of the discerning Consumer-General. Profit margins are projected at two thousand percent->> The burst of fire from the hand of Revan which utterly consumes some few of the unliving foes interrupts the hitherto cheerful chatter. <...Thank you for illustrating one of the few- VERY few weaknesses. Note for future development: infuse tissue with coolant prior to deployment- Oh, that's right. All biological staff have joined the project.>
Tai holds one hand out and tries to replicate Revan's plasma attack, but barely gets a slight glow out of the air. She lashes out in frustration, a spinning attack propelled by a burst of anger that has a zombie falling to the ground in at least four pieces. "The shabla things won't die! We get it!"
Revan releases a second terrible wave of dark energy that consumes the corpses reducing them to ash. <"I bloody dealt with this nightmare once before!"> Revan declares moving away from a strike just as her beloved HK-47 falls to the unrelenting enemies. Despite his valiant effort, his eyes glowing red faded, and he fell beneath their strikes. Revan is fueled then by her anger, and growls out of frustration as she steps heavily toward her droid. <"To me, Tai. You will not want to be within this blast when I release it!"> She commands.
<...Well, there's no need to be rude about it,> the AI notes, sounding a bit miffed at the reaction of the Sith to its favorite project. <And if it your intention to inflict further damage on this facility, then I must protest! A sternly worded complaint will be prepared, once communications are restored.> A series of clattering clunks resound through the facility, the ominous sound of dozens of magnetically locked doors lurching open. <... Also, I have released all Project containment seals. I hope this teaches the value of good manners.>
Tai twirls her sabers, shredding another zombie and disabling an arm that had been crawling towards her, before leaping back behind Revan and flicking her sabers back into a defensive position. HK lifts off the floor and slides back behind the Dark Lady as well, coming to a stop next to the zabrak. "Clear, and HK is secure!"
Revan screams as she displays an uncanny power through her connection with the dark side of the force. The red lights begin to flicker as Revan's gloved hands, still steaming from her pyro, are brought wide by spread arms. Shaking, Revan takes an unstead step forward and raises her hands up.
A sickening feeling of darkness, of evil, unsettling like the whispers it spawned as the ground beyond Tai, HK, and Revan began to mist. Their opponents were consumed by this mist, and it stretched down the corridors, through the thresholds and further beyond. When Revan's hands quit rising, the gas changed to an eerie green and swept out like a wave that had just made landfall.
The beings that moved were invaded by this gas, and when it exited and curled skyward, their frames fell to the deck as lifeless as they had found them. The mists disappeared in time, leaving an exhausted Revan heaving, literally volatile with discontent and anger, yet.. her power was reinforced by the life energy she absorbed. Rejuvenated, Revan pointed to the core. "Pull it free and silence this thing. I'll have its knowledge but rob its agency of this facility. When we are free from this madness, I'll order the destruction of this entire world."