Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy, Tara McLaren, and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
Nine years before the Battle of Yavin (26:9:34) in the Coruscant system: Interrogator and in the Essesia system: Esseles (Calamar: Ixion Chall's estate).
Major Tris Pertin (death), Apprentice Inquisitor Serine Thanor, High Inquisitor Antinnis Tremayne, and Valeria.

Major Tris Pertin of Imperial Intelligence stood nervously aboard the Star Destroyer Interrogator and knelt before the throne of High Inquisitor Tremayne as he recounted his tale of what had occurred on Esseles several days prior. "I am confident, Lord Tremayne, that what I saw was accurate," he said, as his brown eyes rolled up towards the Inquisitor. "It was undoubtedly the fabled Firkrann crystal of the Sith Lord Tulak Hord," he explained, stammering slightly with each word as he spoke. He was confident that revealing the information to the man would result in his swift rise to the rank of full Colonel. Little did he know whom he was dealing with.

High Inquisitor Antinnis Tremayne's red cybernetic eye seemed to flare as he heard the story recounted to him. It was almost too good to be true. He could not believe that after all the millennia the crystal of Tulak Hord would find its way into the art collection of an unsuspecting and insignificant Black Sun Vigo on a minor core world. A smile curled on his face as he looked at the young Inquisitor that was standing faithfully at his side. "If only your quaint little mind could understand the importance of what this man was telling us, my dear," he said, as he reached out with his right arm and embraced the teenager close to him.

The young Serine Thanor found herself being unexpectedly pressed up against the side of her Master, Antinnis Tremayne, in which she was disgusted and appalled. Despite her best efforts, the fact that she completely loathed that man for what he did years ago had still yet to be purged completely from her conscious mind. She hated being so close to him, and that fact he knew and likely used against her. She heavily resented him insinuating that she was naive and ignorant as she could easily retrieve the information she needed on the subject, though she admitted that the knowledge of this crystal did escape her for the moment.

He held her in a tight embrace against his side, pressing her head against his chest and pointed her towards the Major. "...and who have you told about this?" he asked the Major as his lips curled up in a sneer. His left hand went up to the side of Serine's head and gloved fingers wafted through her medium length silver hair. He felt the young Inquisitor was ready to serve him in this regard, but first he had something special in store for the young woman.

"Nsn-no one, Lord Tremayne," Major Pertin said, as he looked up at the High Inquisitor. "If you wish it ... my men can storm Ixion Chall's warehouse and seize the crystal before he even realizes what it is!" he boasted proudly, as he rose from his kneeling position. He stood at attention, bowing his head in front of the man as he awaited his next orders.

"Good!" High Inquisitor Tremayne said as he slowly raised his right hand and began to squeeze the air in front of him as an excited, lustful smile curled upon his middle-aged lips. His left hand, however, was focused on Serine and with a gentle use of telekinesis he would force the young woman's eyes open, refusing her the soothing luxury of even a single blink. The High Inquisitor had something special in store for the Major to ensure his silence. Only he and Serine would know the location of the crystal.

There was a sinking feeling of dread suddenly as Serine realized that the man before them may not be living for much longer despite his desire to merely assist in informing Tremayne of an item of great value. She had always felt that her so appointed 'master' was extreme and illogical in his rash and strict punishments. As normal occurrence, the young woman attempted to blink but quickly understood that she would be unable to, and she had to bury that mild emotional panic immediately. Serine had been the High Inquisitor's pet project for four years, ever since he brutally murdered her old Jedi Master, but even so, the young woman had yet to be completely consumed by the Dark Side and thus felt that small need, ever so brief, to remind Tremayne of the simple fact that Tris Pertin was trying to aid him. "He should be ... rewarded for his loyalty." She said softly, almost surprisingly, in the defense of the Major.

"Argh!" Major Pertin screamed as he felt immense pressure on the side of his skull. Both of his hands went to the side of his head, as he fell to his knees in front of the duo and began to please for his life. Suddenly there was a massive crack as his skull fractured and both of his eyeballs flew from his socket at the young, female dark side adept. A moment later, he was down on the ground, blood pouring from his mouth, eye sockets, nose and began shaking in a tremendous seizure. His legs were badly spasm and his arms were flopping up and down as if he were an acquatic creature thrown from the sea.

Inquisitor Tremayne lowered his face towards Serine and briefly puckered his lips as he placed a gentle kiss upon her exposed forehead. "Then reward him, my sweet. End his misery ... give him a quick death!" he said, as he released his grip on her and took a step back to watch the show. His hands raised in front of him and he rubbed them together in anticipation of what was to come. This was one of the most important tenants of the training of his faithful young apprentice. His eyes moved slowly from the girl to the hapless victim of the ground. He was quite pleased with the methods he had undertaken to turn the woman to the Dark Side of the Force.

Her initial instinctual reflexes were to turn away as the unfortunate man's eyes along with a disturbing amount of blood flew towards her, but she found she was unable to even move or blink away from the tragedy. Serine was all too happy to finally be free of that man's grasp, jarring from him with the first opportunity. She could not help the intense glare she gave him from the ordeal as a hand brushed across her forehead. It could be assumed she was removing the blood present, but it was instead to rub away any indication of his kiss. Tremayne had been rather successful in corrupting Serine, if only for her intense hatred for him, and it seemed to radiate from her in situations like this. Her hand lowered to the hilt of her lightsaber, once belonging to the Jedi Master Jerasea Ginhers, although the green crystal had recently been replaced by a red one with Tremayne's forceful insistence. With the ignition of the red blade, she swung it in a steady skillful arch, immediately severing the suffering man's head from his shoulders before shutting down the weapon to return it to her utility belt. She stayed silent throughout the conflict but her troubled nature was apparent, she did not believe that was a necessary punishment. Serine lightly shook her head before walking around the progressively bleeding corpse to once again stand loyally by Tremayne's side. "Wasteful, Master."

The sound of a series of claps echoed through the dark chamber as High Inquisitor Tremayne applauded Serine's swift decapitation of the Major. "Good, good. You are well on your way to becoming an Inquisitor. Perhaps one day you will be as ruthless as I..." he boasted, as a confident smile came over his face. He knelt down next to corpse and dipped his fingers into the blood before bringing it up to his lips to give it a quick taste. "Ah. Still warm..." he said to the young girl as he stood back up and slid his finger across her left cheek to mark her with the man's blood in the manner of a hunter. "You will go to the Essesia system. You will retrieve the crystal..." he said, as he leaned down and lifted her chin up so he could look her directly in the eyes. "Complete this task and you will be ready for the Inquisitorius!" he said as he looked down at her eagerly. Finally a test worthy of the young one with whom he held in such high regard.

Valeria squirmed as she worked her way through a duct in the ventilation system of the Vigo's estate. One of them, anyways. The young smuggler was still having trouble getting her mind wrapped around the idea of people with enough money to have multiple estates, each ones filled with undreamed of treasures. She was a teenager, however, and was not as used to these kind of life or death situations. Still, hesitation was not really a part of her character. Everything seemed to be working out for her so far, however. The blasters she carried, modified to fire an Inhibitor bolts, had managed to disable the few droids she had run into during her infiltration. She had also managed to circumvent the few security locks she had run into, which surprised her. It was almost like the system resources of the estate's main computer were being occupied with other tasks. "And they say I...don't know how to slice." She continued to squirm, her body wiggling as she got closer to grate that would lead into the man's main display room. Supposedly his collection could fill several prestigious museums by itself.

Black Sun Vigo Ixion Chall's main estate was apparently the location of the Firkrann crystal. An ancient relic from the infamous Sith Lord Tulak Hord, and due to the crystal's use in his lightsaber, was believed to be charged with an immense amount of Dark Side energy. Serine doubted that someone as ignorant and petty as Vigo Chall would understand the significance of such an artifact, but her master, High Inquisitor Tremayne was well versed in the importance of such a crystal and its power. It was obvious he wanted it for his own purposes, and thus her very first entrusted mission by him was to retrieve this item in which she was overly eager to succeed in. It would be one step closer to eventually murdering that man ... but first, she needed to stay focused. The young dark side adept's style of tackling a confrontation was directly, not at all shying away from the intense or the dangerous. She was fully capable of handling herself in devastating situations thanks in part to her Force training and skill with a lightsaber. Serine mused that there must be many items of great value in this estate for it was guarded heavily by security forces which included two GX-1 series battle droids and a collection of gun turrets to either side of the main entrance. Obviously Vigo Chall had not anticipated someone as foolish, or perhaps as skillful as Serine Thanor to take the straight path through the main entrance. The young woman left a wake of destruction behind her, large smoldering pieces of metal and droid parts littered the front entrance as a series of controlled explosions rattled the estate briefly. Suddenly what used to be a working GX-1 battle droid exploded through the front doors, ripping them asunder in a violent and brilliant display of anger and power. Standing in the midst of the destruction was young apprentice Thanor, breathing heavily and in a rage as silver eyes darted across the main hall looking for the object of her mission.

For her part, Valeria had no idea of the carnage taking place elsewhere in the estate. She removed the grate covering her entrance to the main hall carefully, slicing through the security scanner that covered even that possible entrance. She would then draw one of her twin blaster pistols and use its grappling spike launcher to lower herself into the main room. As she dangled from the ceiling she would draw her other blaster pistol and use the attached glowrod to illuminate the area, eventually falling upon the object which she sought. She would detach her grappling line, landing with a graceful dismount and skulking the few meters between herself and her target. Thankfully the display areas were not rigged with as many security measures as the entryways had been ... obviously this Vigo intended to be able to view his treasures without any kind of barrier in front of him. Her silver-blue eyes widened greedily as she snatched the crystal, only to widen even further in surprise when the doors were blasted open. The more violent of the two thieves would find herself looking at a sixteen year old human (or near-human) with pink skin, wearing only a black thinsuit and possessed of a built reminiscent of a top-heavy gymnast.

Serine's eyes instantly caught sight of another occupant and they widened in fury as she realized the other was apparently after the same thing she was and it was already in her hands! She appraised the other quickly, sizing her up for what would likely become a showdown to retrieve the same artifact. The second 'thief' appeared to be somewhat younger, though they were of similar age it would seem, and it could also be gathered that she, unlike Serine, went for a less blazing approach to securing her objective. They did show some similarities besides age as Thanor was also wearing a bodysuit, hers being constructed out of armorweave, and both were obviously battle ready and after the same object. That was annoying beyond all belief, but she was not about to let some upstart rip victory from her grasp. She was not at all opposed to completely dismembering this other ... girl ... if she had to, but there were sometimes alternatives, at least she could give the other the chance to surrender the item, as she did not carry a grudge for the girl, at least ... not yet. In an impressive display, Serine performed a brief but extremely aggressive kata, the red lightsaber whirling around her so quickly it left a crimson blur in its path before delivering a blow to a nearby display case causing the case, the contents and the stand to be literally diced to pieces. Her intense glare penetrated the other in a challenge. The wreckage that was the security droids and turrets clearly seen still smoldering behind her. "Hand that over to me now." She demanded sharply. "Your simple childlike mind could not begin to understand its importance. Besides, the daycare you obviously just escaped from is probably still looking for you." A feint smirk tinted her lips, her steady gaze never ceasing.

The would-be thief began to back away as soon as the doors were blasted open, her hands empty save for the crystal that she held. She had hair all the way to her waist, its color red with gold highlights. That had to be some kind of major disadvantage to a cat burglar. She flashed an easy smile that very much display her nervousness, large white teeth showing as she tried to disarm her rival with charm. Her silver-blue eyes seemed to follow the lightsaber's every move. Clearly she knew what a lightsaber was, and what it meant for someone to be wielding it after Order 66. Holonet conspiracy sites tended to have universal agreement about the prevalence of Dark Jedi in the galaxy, and insane upcoming smugglers valued those as reliable news sources. " give this..." She raised the hand containing the gem over her head. " you...and you'll let me go?"

Serine's eyebrows arched a bit, unsure if it could possibly be that easy, but if the other was willing to give her the crystal ... Her thoughts drifted to Master Tremayne, he obviously would not let the other go so eagerly and would instead slaughter her and burn down the entire estate. The Dark Side adept eyed her cautiously, still debating if ... this was not a trick or something else foolish and ridiculous. She was very untrusting, and she certainly did not trust a petty thief, never mind that Serine was also apparently a petty thief, hypocrisy aside. Without indication that she would indeed let the other go, she instead held out her hand expectantly. "Throw it." She watched with anticipation, not once letting her eyes wander from the other in the room nor that crystal. It was risky to demand the other to throw it, but she would not allow herself to be caught in a surprised situation or be off guard.

"I don't suppose there's some kind of Sithy, evil dark side honesty pledge you could give me ahead of time?" Valeria was cautiously backing up as she held the crystal in that outstretched hand. Her steps were deliberate and slow, leading her back towards the opening where she had dropped in on the rather dark main chamber, which was less so since the entry doors had been blasted in. Her hands had not yet drawn the blasters pistols which had aided her in entry, both of them staying well clear of her gunbelt. It was hard to tell given the lighting, but the natural pink of her skin looked like it had almost darkened. Her body language, if one was an expert at reading it, was nervous...but then again, even the insane were afraid of people with red lightsabers.

The fact that the other was likely mistaking her for a Sith irked her to no end. Her right eye twitched a bit out of agitation before she growled ever so softly, determined to set the record straight. "I'm not a Sith." This situation was starting to become rather annoying, especially since the chances of the other actually giving up the item were decreasing at a rapid rate every moment she stalled. There were quite a lot of other items in this grand hall, and Serine mused it was loaded with irreplaceable antiques that were nearly priceless. "I only care about that gem, you can have everything else in here." Her voice was aggravated, although it carried a certain amount of sincerity to it. Serine did not have a real reason to want to dismember her yet ... but trust was yet another issue, and that seemed to be lacking between the both of them.

The thief started to talk, the words catching in her throat for a moment before she managed to stammer out what may have been an unfortunate choice of tactics. "And I'm not a religious scholar, but that's...not exactly a promise." Her large eyes flashed back and forth across the room before once again falling on that glowing red blade Serine held. It appeared to have positively mesmerized the teenaged cat burglar. Valeria was now beneath the opening she had used to get into the place. She did not dare looked up at the ceiling, lest Serine know of her escape plan.

The young Dark Side adept was now positive the other was stalling and she noticed the other kept ... backtracking, but where to? Eyes followed her movements, quickly scanning around her until they caught sight of the small opening above her. So ... that was how she entered the complex, but more importantly, how she planned on escaping. Silver eyes narrowed intensely towards her as a light scowl formed across her youthful appearance. "Foolish trollop." With a heavy snarl, her eyes darted towards one of the display cases as she thrust her hand out towards it, her fingers curled as she clawed at the air. The whole case quivered momentarily before it suddenly was ripped from the flooring, metal straining and bending dangerously as wood splintered, shattering in an arch as the display case was hurled towards the young girl from across the room with devastating momentum.

"I'm not a..." Her head jerked to the side as she saw the display case hurtling towards her. She was able to dive out of the way quick enough to avoid more than grazing blow, but it stunned her and left her slightly disoriented. Valeria quickly jammed down a finger on the comlink strapped to her right wrist, activating the cylindrical devices attached to her boots. The Aratech jetpack thrusters would kick in as she started to close the distance between the ground and that hole in the ceiling. Her aim looked a little bit off, but her escape was nearly in reach.

Her mouth gaped open just slightly as she was surprised to see the girl begin her escape with ... jetpack thrusters on her boots! If she did not halt her now, the girl may actually be capable of making a clean retreat. The sudden thought Master Tremayne's reaction to her failure flashed into her mind and it was not an outcome that she was willing to face all too soon. The fear of completely botching up this mission, her very first, sparked into her eyes before it fueled her action. With the flick of a wrist, her lightsaber soared through the air end over end in a straight path to collide with the bottom of one of the Aratech jetpack boots. The weapon traveled in a full arch before she called the saber back to her hand, hopefully doing enough immediate damage to slow the other down.

It was only luck or deliberate restraint that prevented lightsaber from removing one of her legs from the calf up. The cylindrical jetpack thruster attached to her right boot was cleaved in two, causing her flight through the air to go way off course. The sixteen year old thief would slam into the ceiling, whereupon she would fall down and land hard on a convenient placed display case. It was not too convenient from Valeria's perspective, of course. The glass had broken beneath her and she felt sure some valuable statuette made by a pre-hyperdrive civilization had gotten dangerously close to being crammed up her backside.

Serine was more than pleased to watch the other fail at her own devices and slam into another display case, shattering glass in all directions, and likely crushing another priceless artifact. It did not take Serine long to follow up with another offensive, and it was not more than a brief moment after Valeria's mishap did she find herself in yet another precarious situation as apprentice Thanor was upon the scene and towering over the prone visage of the younger thief. A mere second would pass before Valeria's throat was seized within Serine's left hand and with a surreal amount of strength, no doubt augmented by darker forces at hand, would haul up the young girl by her neck and slam her into the adjacent wall with such an impact that it caused a nearby bookcase to quiver and fall over, scattering books and small trinkets across the floor. She glared at Valeria dangerously, her right hand still held the lightsaber, and it shivered ever so slightly with desire to cut the woman asunder. Serine could end this now she gathered ... but where was that crystal? Her gaze fell to the form of the younger, searching to see if she still held onto it or if it was already lost.

"...Don't suppose the offer still stands?" Her left hand flicked quickly, and the sparkling Firkrann gem was suddenly there. It was not the Force or magic as much as it was a parlour trick, one of extremely limited utility. Perhaps if she ever had a chance to put on a magic show for the people who had made the statuette halfway embedded in the small of her back she could convince them she was a dark Jedi. Valeria, her silver-blue eyes looking half dazed, turned the gem at that moment to catch the limited light of the room. It was just a ploy, however. Her right hand drew one of those twin blaster pistols on her thighs and would fire wildly at the one who held her.

With the enraged looked to Serine, it was safe to assume that the supposed offer did in fact no longer stand. Once Valeria produced the Firkrann crystal, she was momentarily distracted by its appearance. So the girl did still have it, Serine thought, and so it would now belong to her, however, it was apparent that the other still had much fight left in her. The first two shots that were fired skittered past her, grazing into her armorweave attire but the third blasted a dark scorched mark into her left shoulder. With a sudden cry of surprise, pain and anger, she dropped the girl as her right arm came across the wall heavily that held her weapon,, the lightsaber gouging an ugly scar into the duracrete as large chunks were ripped out but her swing went wide and barely missed its mark.

Valeria rolled with the drop, barely managing to come out from under the lightsaber's wide swing. She did not stop there, starting to flip backwards across the increasingly wrecked room until she was a good 15 meters away from the dark Jedi. It was only then that Valeria realized a good 10 centimeters of her golden red hair had been severed. The younger thief's body was shaking, but with her it was clearly nervousness and fear rather than rage. She put on a brave face, however. "Do you know how long it takes to grow my hair that long?" Her left knee dipped as she drew her other blaster pistol and began firing both of them with a vengeance towards her rival. The gem must have been hidden again during their scuffle.

Serine realized by the slight remnants of smoke and the awful smell of burnt hair, that Valeria received perhaps a much needed trim. "It is an improvement, I assure you. I see that you are not only unhygienic, but you are a terrible thief for not tying it back." Valeria may have been able to get a lucky shot off at point blank, but this time Serine was ready for the onslaught. With a heavy whirl of her red blade, the pot shots were harmlessly deflected from her with a couple sent back skillfully to their receiver. During the scuffle, she not only lost sight of where the girl was keeping the gem for a second time, she also failed to notice another GX-1 enter the premise, and finding not one but two trespassers, began to fire calculated direct shots towards the both of them.

Valeria tried her back flip trick again, but only managed to dodge the first of the reflected bolts of blue energy. The second caught her when she stuck the landing, striking in the meat of her right thigh. The unusual polymer of her modified thinsuit only absorbed so much of the blow. That wound would greatly hamper her acrobatic activities for the time being, perhaps a fatal injury considering her opponent. Luckily the GX-1 battle droid came at a convenient time. Valeria sprinted weakly and slid across the polished ground of the clean display room ... well, clean apart from the sections that had been destroyed, taking cover behind a display case. She did not have much restraint, however, because she could not resist replying. "You're wrong! People love my hair, Miss...evil...non-Sith...lightsaber person!"

The GX-1 battle droid could not have come at a worse time for Serine who was about to follow up with the other becoming wounded and off center with what should have been the a confrontation ending blow, but she instantly became distracted with heavy blaster fire almost surrounding her. Wasting no time, Serine dashed straight towards the battle droid, deflecting shots that were directly fired at her before leaping upon the massive hulking metal creature and ramming the end of her saber through its head, sending it piercing straight down into the body chassis. Quickly she lept from the GX-1 battle droid, landing in a low crotch with her saber before her in a defensive stance as the droid spasmed where it stood, sparks flaring out from the molten hole from where the lightsaber was driven. The main body of the droid erupted outwards sending large pieces of metal and wiring across the area in which Serine had to dodge, diving towards another display case that was surprisingly still standing. "You are obviously delusional!"

There was silence for a moment, before Valeria let out a loud yelp and scrambled out from behind the display case she was taking cover behind. It seemed a piece of metal had landed on her head while still smoldering. The limping thief who stood out in the open now looked fairly beaten up, but not defeated. Her hair and thinsuit seemed to have suffered additional cosmetic damage as well, the special polymer having been torn in places. "...I'm guessing that deal has left the table?" She used her blaster pistols to track the room for a target, before holstering them after thinking over the proposition. The girl did not relish getting shot with her own blaster again anytime soon. Valeria would move into a defensive stance as she reached behind her back and drew what looked to be the central handgrip of a staff. With one smooth flourish the end would unfold much like a double-bladed lightsaber might. The staff had a chrome-like appearance. One highly knowledgeable about lightsabers could identify it as Ultrachrome, one of the few substances that would resist a lightsaber's cut. Valeria was positively shaking as she waited for Serine to make herself visible.

"You had your chance, and yet you acted much like how I expected. Like an idiotic child." The youthful Dark Side adept emerged from her cover after the droid had finalized his death spasm before crumpling over into a gigantic heap of smoke and useless broken parts. Serine looked positively irate, watching the other pull out an ultrachrome staff as if the other could possibly stand on her own against someone fully trained in lightsaber combat. It could be safe to assume that Serine was a bit arrogant of her abilities, and although she had been taught in the past never to underestimate ones opponent, that simple lesson always seemed to escape her. She could not help a soft cruel chuckle as she began to stalk towards Valeria, her head lowered like a hungry predator while lightly rolling her right wrist, causing the crimson blade to make long heavy circular patterns in the air before her. "As if your feeble attempts could possibly hope to derail my attacks. Your only chance is to submit now and pray for a quick merciful death." She flicked her gaze over Valeria's weapon, knowing full well that a skillful opponent would indeed be able to block her attacks. Serine's steady approach quickly turned into a full on offensive, the young apprentice taking the combat initiative as a heavy strike was sent down towards her would be rival's upper torso, attempting to inflict heavy damage if the other was unable to manage a block in time.

Valeria managed to block the blow with her staff, but the act caused her to stumble and fall backwards. She would occasionally deliver counterstrikes with her staff, but they did little more than keep her opponent honest. The younger thief seemed to have received training in the rare Echani martial art form, but she was not a master. More than that, she seemed to have a genuine fear ... no, terror ... of the lightsaber Serine was wielding. This was understandable ... few still alive had fought a lightsaber wielder in combat and lived to tell. The most famous wielder was the Emperor's own personal enforcer, the Dark Lord of the Sith. The blaster wound on her thigh was also slowing her down, hampering her movements and keeping her from employing the acrobatics that had made fighting her so frustrating earlier. Perhaps the clearest sign that she was worried was her lack of a witty retort. She fought on in silence, trying to deflect that lightsaber in earnest. There was no healing a severed arm or leg.

It was easy to gather that her opponent was fearful which would likely lead to Serine controlling this conflict. Usually fear was a motivator for Serine, but for those that did not have access to the Force, it could be a drastic debilitater, especially in situations such as this when the stacks were extremely high and the outcome was nearly inevitable. Her voice was low and menacing as she addressed the other once their weapons became locked. "You are not capable of defeating me, you know this ... I can sense your fear, it is nearly crushing you." With a sudden jolt of strength, Valeria would find herself quickly pressed up against the wall, their weapons still interlocked but now Serine was pushing them steadily forward, attempting to slide her weapon close to start cutting and singeing into flesh of the other's collarbone and shoulder. She was confident that a power struggle would tip easily in her favor if she applied enough pressure, forcing her weapon ever closer as she glared at her intensely with an eerie smile.

"Always...a...chance..." Valeria could smell her own flesh burning as the lightsaber pierced the fabric of her thinsuit. She was quite truly terrified now, and it provoked a reaction from her she had no control over. The air began to fill with an..extremely pleasing aroma, one that pierced through both the ozone of blaster fire and even the cooking of near-human skin. Pheromones. Zeltrons ... a species which Valeria somewhat closely resembled ... could produce them in waves. They even bottled the stuff to sell to offworlders. Valeria did not seem to know what she had done, instead putting both hands behind her staff as she tried in desperation to push Serine's weapon away from her.

As if there were not enough strange odors in this room, from burning hair and flesh, to burning ozone and smoldering metal and plastics, now there was another aroma added, and this was the haze of pheromones. Serine appeared to be momentarily confused but blinked and shook her head with a glare, dispersing any effects it could potentially hold over her thanks to her own mental training that had been and still is quite severe from her master. But it was just enough distraction to allow Valeria to power through the attack, and prevent the saber from further embedding into her shoulder. The hiss and crash of their two weapons clanging was halted as their clash was cleaved away, leaving them apart from the once power struggle. Serine lunged forward with a series of attacks, swinging her blade up and around towards two locations in a swift twofold attack, one blow towards Valeria's right arm and the other arched down across her right thigh. Her attacks were vicious and deathly accurate.

Valeria let out a scream as the lightsaber cut across her right bicep. Only her thinsuit kept her from losing that arm. Her right thigh sustained additional damage, and each parry that the thief offered with her staff only seemed weaker than the one before. She was on her last leg, both figuratively and literally. Suddenly, after parrying a particularly vicious lightsaber blow, the thief would manage to tap her wrist comlink, rapidly activating her remaining boot thruster. She used this to power a...well, it was a flying knee strike. The burst would come as a sudden surprise, since without the aid of the remaining thruster Valeria's mobility was severely limited.

Tremayne's apprentice felt she had this battle already won, and was debating how to finish her opponent off when she was caught completely by surprise by the surging attack that sent Valeria's knee straight into the side of Serine's face, impacting with her jaw. The blunt force of the strike sent her through the air, crashing into one of the remaining display cases. The body of Serine would disappear beneath the multitudes of artifacts, glass, metal and wood that all collapsed upon her as the structure of the display case was completely compromised. That was a substantial hit the Dark Side adept took, and it would have completely knocked her unconscious if she was not already fueled by a intense amount of rage, but regardless, Serine was now in a similar state to the drained Valeria. The wreckage that the adept was within trembled slightly, a few large pieces of wood slid down the pile that was stacked on top as it started to crumble away and Serine pulled herself from the heap slowly but surely, and obviously hindered. She had sustained some very serious injuries actually. Her armorweave was ripped in various places, some slashes were bleeding profusely as glass had penetrated her suit.

Valeria smiled, glad that her teeth were one part of her that had not been damaged in this fight ... yet. She took a few limping steps towards Serine, drawing her blaster pistol while in the same move stowing her staff with a twirl. The limp was worse than it had been before ... apparently the knee that rocked Serine's jaw had been injured from the impact. It was all Valeria could do to remain standing. The blaster was leveled at the Dark Jedi as she drew the gem from the pouch where she had apparently stored it on her gunbelt. The expression on her face rapidly turned into a frown. It had cracked. The legendary Firkaan crystal they had sought would not have broken so easily during the fight. Valeria's frown did not last very long, however, as a smile cracked on her face. "Upon further review of your offer..." Valeria knelt down to the ground and rolled the gem across the smooth floor to Serine. Before getting back up she would pick up the statuette that had tried to perform colorectal surgery on her. "..I accept. You win." The blaster would then point up towards the ceiling as she fired the grappling spike launcher, which ascended her back into the passage she had initially dropped down from.

The crystal rolled towards her until it stopped right in front view where she still was pulling from the heap all while glaring at Valeria. She managed to free her lightsaber from the wreckage, or more so, it freed itself by burning through obstacles, so if the other woman was so careless to fire once more, it would be yet another mistake for the younger thief. Serine managed to fully rip free of the debris right as the gem rolled to a stop before her, and she instantly noticed it was cracked, likely due to their intense struggle but a moment prior. Surely she would have to kill the other for this atrocity, such a complete waste of her time, and all of that conflict only to ruin the very artifact she was sent to retrieve? Unfathomable. Serine screamed in fury, and despite her condition, was still extremely capable in summoning the Force. The debris surrounding her began to vibrate on the ground as a loud humming became audible. The large ruined battle droid still smoldering to her left quivered before being flung at incredible speeds towards that small escape panel that Valeria was attempting to retreat through, determined to try to stop her from escaping if at all possible.

Valeria managed to reach the vent just a second before the hurled droid. Her legs were basically useless to her in this situation, both her right and left suffering at least one injury. She was going to have to crawl away from this without the object of her desire..but not empty handed. She slipped the statuette she had managed to retrieve into her belt, a smile on her face as she felt the flames licking at her heels. There was one thing that bothered Valeria, however. Of all the holovids she had ever seen, she could not remember a single one where the Dark Jedi did not vow unending vengeance on the person that denied them their goal.

The young thief would be correct in her assessment, Serine would always remember this day ... and even though she did not even know the girl's name, she would certainly remember her face, her voice and her smarmy attitude. She was more than willing to pursue the other despite her condition, but the sound of additional GX-1 droids entering the area worried her. The escape hatch that Valeria scurried through was completely ruined, the droid she threw into the hatch had completely crushed the ceiling and everything in a three meter radius around the vent. She would be forced to retreat, but at least not empty handed. The gem was damaged ... and it was still a failure ... but she had the physical damage and the cracked crystal to attest to her struggle to retrieve this item. Serine would manage to also escape the estate, leaving it a complete wreck, nearly everything of value had been crushed, burnt, sliced or exploded. She was not at all ... looking forward to explaining her first mission to High Inquisitor Tremayne. However, Serine was not just leaving with the cracked gem, she also had acquired a small lock of hair from that girl...

High Inquisitor Tremayne sat upon his throne upon the command deck of the Star Destroyer Interrogator. He had been alerted that his apprentice was seen returning to the ship, but he had yet to receive a transmission from her. This did not bode well for the status of her mission, and he would sit there in the darkness of his chamber. All that was visible was a single cybernetic eye, a piercing red eye that eagerly stared down towards the entry way in front of him. He could sense her drawing near ... and confidence was not the emotion he sensed. His hand curled into an angry fist, the sound of the leather scrunching as he considered his next move.

It was taking Serine longer than usual to make her way towards her Master's chambers as she was heavily injured from various puncture and slash wounds, the majority from large shards of glass that had previously embedded into her skin from an unsightly impact with a large display case. She did what she could to tend to her wounds during her travel time back to the Interrogator, the small medical packs did help her, but she would need at least a day to fully recover from the ordeal. Serine bitterly turned the events over in her head continuously, not yet willing to accept the notion that she failed ... how could she have possibly failed ... when the crystal she was sent to retrieve was not even the correct one. They had been duped from the beginning, and that realization made the idea that Tris Pertin died horribly for this information a comforting fact. She arrived to the chambers to Tremayne's personal control room, complete with a throne actually ... the man was very vain to be sure. The young apprentice did her best to mask her injuries, but it was obvious she had sustained substantial damage from the mission. Once the door slid open, she had to squint as the darkness was surrounding everything save the hideous red cybernetic eye of her master. She winced not only from the pain of her injuries, but also from the dread of having to report the results of her first mission. She made her way through the darkness, previously memorizing the path she had to take before arriving by the throne on the ground level. Serine climbed to the upper level, but her eyes were casted down before her. The cracked crystal was removed from a container of her utility belt and presented to him reluctantly. "The crystal master ... It was a fake."

"Not only to bring me a cheap knockoff from a Squib vendor on Coruscant, but you present yourself to me looking the way you are? Such insolence..." Tremayne sneered as he thrust his hand towards her and unleashed a wave of telekinesis that would send her flying down to the next level. He would slowly rise from his seat, and walked down the staircase to where she was now laying helpless. His first action would be to take his left foot and raise it over the cracked crystal before stomping it into countless shards. "You're a disgrace!" he announced, as he bent down next to her and unclipped her former master's lightsaber from her belt. "You do not deserve this!" he said, as he clipped it to his own belt. "I will call the refuse collectors for you in the morning..." he said, as he began to ascend the stairs back towards the upper level.

The attack from her master was not completely unexpected, but it was extremely cruel and undeserving due to her previous injuries. The blast hit her squarely in the chest and brutally forced her clear off of the throne area, causing her to plummet ten feet below to violently collide with the metal flooring with a sickening sound. Her whole body arched once in agony with the impact, a pitiful moan and gentle sob escaped her before she bit her lip to stifle the response. The fall broke a handful of her ribs, her body was now nearly in revolt and no longer accepting her commands, thus she lay there helplessly without any sign of sanctuary any time soon. The pain was immense, causing her eyelids to flutter as her eyes rolled up into them. Her lightsaber taken from her was yet another punishment ... the last thing of her original Master that Tremayne allowed her to keep ... and now ... she was potentially being discarded, as he insinuated that she would be tossed out with the rest of the refuse.

The Inquisitor tilted his head as he looked down at the battered Dark Side Adept. Perhaps she was injured to a greater extent than he suspected and thus he looked at the control panel for a moment before he depressed the button on the far right. A moment later two Imperial Storm Commandos entered the room and were startled to see the sight of Serine sprawled out on the floor. "Take her to the medical bay!" he ordered, and the Commandos immediately grabbed the Adept's helpless body and began carrying her out of the room. A cruel smile curled upon his lips as he reached into his pocket and pulled out the real Firkrann crystal that once belonged to Tulak Hord. He had it the entire time, having acquired it from the original owner just prior to his unfortunate demise. It had been nothing more than a test for Serine ... a test which she surprisingly passed. Perhaps she had a future in the Inquisitorius after all. He brought the crystal up to his lips and kissed it tenderly, before staring off into the stars as he tucked it back into his pocket.

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