Split Personality Chp 3 The Rescue Part 2

The members of the household meet in the tunnels as ordered. Shade looks 
around at the group.

"All right. Eric and Rook, you're going to form our diversionary team. I want 
you at point B on the map. Arcturus and I are going in after her. Michael, 
you'll be guarding our exit. We're going to do this as quickly as possible: 
Go in, get her, and get out. Is everyone clear?"

The small team nods tersely in understanding. They all want the same 
thing--revenge, and Darana's other half brought to safety. Michael removes 
his personal cloaking device from his belt and hands it to Shade. "With this 
wound, you'll get more use than I will out of it."

Shade nods and slips it onto his belt. "Move out."

Like purposeful shadows, the members of the household scatter, murderous 
intent
in their hearts.

Eric and Rook emerge cautiously near the designated site. They're close 
enough to draw away the outer fringe of guards and residents who might be 
near the center chamber that Arcturus and Shade are heading for, but far 
enough that it won't draw too much attention from the people in the chamber 
itself.

>From the shelter of a nearby doorway, the pair sight their first targets. The 
two men nod to each other, then approach strategically between two guard 
posts. Rook shoots into the further targets, charging, Eric beside him. As 
those guards react, the commotion draws the attention of another pair of 
guards who rush injudiciously to the aid of their fellows.

*****

Scarcely daring to breathe, Katherine Winter watches as the guards nearest 
her run to help the others fighting Eric and Rook. When they are well gone, 
she darts forward and slips through the doors they were protecting. Once 
inside, she makes her way silently toward the center of the building, where 
Katherine could sense Darana's Force signature emanating from since the 
moment she disembarked from the _Lovers' Embrace_. Her sole thoughts are of 
remaining undetected in this hive of Sith, and hoping that she figures out 
what to do when the time comes.

Khevyn arrives at the main building just in time to spot Katherine's entrance 
and to watch as the explosives that Michael and Shade planted begin to go 
off, showering all nearby with debris. Expertly, the Zeltron scout creeps 
forward, avoiding the shrapnel and tracking his beloved with superior skill.

*****

Inside the ritual chamber Nathaniel is lost in the darkness of the world 
itself. Here is the holy dark temple where the Sith have communed with the 
Dark for ages. It was the earliest of Sith who infused their own life forces 
with that of the world. In so doing, they would forever control the destiny 
of their order and all Force users who came near it.

It is to this planet and the ancestors that Nathaniel intends to give the 
essence of his enemy. It will add strength to the ancestors and feed them 
well.

Suddenly, the thick fog writhes around him and forms into a large, vague 
shape. ^We are under attack,^ it informs him. ^You must not allow this. They 
have the potential to destroy us... One of our own who is no longer has 
joined them.^

Briefly Nathaniel turns his attention to those Sith gathered in the room. No 
words are spoken. There is no need--all are linked. Even the guards respond 
to the mental commands given out by Nathaniel. In moments, the renegades 
mount a well-coordinated, hive-like defense.

*****

Fighting their way through waves of guards and lesser Sith, Shade and 
Arcturus make their way through the corridors into the center chamber. Both 
Force users realize that these underlings are merely a test, meant to tire 
them out and slow them down. Indeed, it has slowed them enough to give the 
trailing scouts a chance to catch up with them. Not what the renegades had 
intended, but to the advantage of Katherine and Khevyn.

The pair arrive in the chamber to the sight of blackness crawling everywhere. 
The whole chamber is one big battle. Finally, Katherine spots Shade in the 
center, his double-ended lightsaber blurring to appear as one rod of light 
with opponents on both sides.

Arcturus she finds off to the left, in the middle of three Sith. His nimble 
serpentine form darts back and forth between them, one blade of his 
lightsaber extended. An evil grin spreads across his face as he reaches out 
with his free hand, touching the nearest Sith over the heart. The man screams 
horribly, much to Arcturus' delight, and collapses.

Katherine suppresses a shudder as she feels the Chaos power disrupt the man's 
life essence, and draws even further back into the shadows.

Shifting her gaze, she notices a deeply tanned man in thick crimson robe 
standing in front of a throne-like chair carved of gleaming black stone. His 
expression is relaxed. It seems to Katherine as if he is communicating with 
someone or something.

She can feel his Force signature throughout the room: It is more powerful 
than any of the other Sith that the household have yet encountered here. This 
marks him as Nathaniel, the leader of these renegades. In his left hand sits 
a faceted black crystal whose murky depths pulse with Darana's Dark 
signature, fighting to be free.

Wary of being noticed by the renegade Sith Lord, Katherine stares at the 
crystal. She's found what she came for...now what?

Leaving Arcturus to wade through the Sith, Shade fights his way across the 
room to Nathaniel. The Sith opens his eyes, meeting Shade's steady glare. In 
his mind, Shade hears a voice: "You are too late. Her essence has already 
begun to join with ours."

Nathaniel smiles and releases the crystal. It rises above their heads to 
hover over the throne, caught in a field of energy emanating from an unknown 
source.

"You will not have her," Shade growls, and falls upon Nathaniel in a 
whirlwind of rage. Yet his attack pattern is thrown off by invisible forces. 
There is no sign of Darana--at least, not her body. But Shade, like Katherine 
and Arcturus, can feel her life force within the crystal over the throne.

Arcturus is in his element, dealing death left and right. His opponents are 
not incompetent, and he is far from unmarked; but nothing seems to slow him 
down for long. To Katherine's acute perceptions, his Chaos is a nearly 
palpable entity in the room. Though it chokes her, she welcomes its cloaking 
effect. 

As she makes her way slowly across the room, a fallen guard or lesser Sith 
occasionally struggles up to attack her; but she takes each one down with a 
well-placed burst of noiseless flame. Khevyn's eyes widen as he sees the 
flames emanate from her bare hand. His blaster makes quick work of the one 
survivor who tries to take Katherine from behind; so quick, in fact, that she 
doesn't even notice. Her entire focus is on that crystal. The sound of 
Khevyn^s blaster is muffled by the rest of the battle.

The fight with Nathaniel is long and bloody; but Shade has the upper 
hand--not through strength, but through stealth. He steps back from the fight 
smiling, his saber staff held at the other man's throat. "Surrender now or 
die, renegade."

"You are gravely mistaken. It is you who must surrender."

Shade activates the device on his belt and disappears from sight. Like a 
chameleon, the holographic images adjust to let him blend into the 
background. Nathaniel immediately begins looking for him through the Force 
and fails. Instinctively, he reaches out to the ancestors. "Where is he?"

'We will deal with this one,' they inform him.

The energy field containing the crystal pulses and shoots out at Shade's last 
known location to no effect. Realizing that the ancestors themselves cannot 
feel him through the Force any more than Nathaniel can, Shade lunges for the 
crystal.

A low howl emanates from the energy field. An ambiguous form begins to 
solidify around the crystal as if to absorb it. Shade's cloaking device 
shorts out and he appears, his form intertwined with that of the other 
entity. Nathaniel reacts quickly and attacks Shade from behind.

With as much control as he can muster, Shade telekinetically launches himself 
and the crystal off the throne.

Sparks fly as Nathaniel, narrowly missing Shade, slices through the energy 
field and into the throne. Briefly all is quiet, and then it begins anew as 
the ancestral power transforms Nathaniel into their agent of destruction.

"Very well." Nathaniel^s voice is echoed by the voices of the ancestors. "If 
we must destroy you all...so mote it be!"

The fighting stops and all attention is focuses on Nathaniel. The others move 
in around him, the murderous, suicidal intent building in the atmosphere all 
around them. Their eyes, their beings, are all focused on the crystal in 
Shade's hand.

Shade grimaces in agony and snarls like a wild thing as the crystal in his 
hand glows brighter and hotter. Smoke curls up from his hands and body. He 
refuses to let go, his entire being focused on protecting Darana's energy 
from the onslaught of power.

Arcturus sees Nathaniel building the energies around him, around the room, 
using the crystal in Shade's hand as a focus. Realizing Nathaniel's intent, 
Arcturus reaches out with the Chaos effect of his dragon powers to disrupt 
the ancestors' attack.

Katherine is drowning in the dark powers flooding the room. Her mercenary 
disguise drops from her, revealing her to be Rachel Summers, as she clings 
reflexively to the Light. The presence of Khevyn, her soulmate, is a beacon 
of light itself in the sea of darkness. 'The actions of one little person,' 
the Jedi student thinks grimly, racking her brains for the tiniest thing she 
could do that might prevent this wholesale slaughter--not to mention saving 
her soulmate's life! Suddenly, Rachel reaches for the full force of the 
powers of Order instilled in her by the silver dragons and hurls the power at 
Nathaniel.

"NO!!!!!" Shade screams and falls to his knees. His pain-wracked body spasms 
as the crystal shatters from the onslaught of combined energies. Caught in 
the middle of the growing, roiling ball of Light, Dark, flame, and crystal 
fragments, Shade watches as the ancestral energies fall to the might of Chaos 
and Order, driven from Nathaniel's control.

Overcome, the ancestral energies waver and fall asunder, leaving Nathaniel 
all but hollow. Nathaniel stares at Arcturus and Rachel in disbelief, and 
collapses.

Standing parallel with Arcturus, Rachel flinches as the Darkness that is 
Darana is released into the atmosphere...and hones in like a targeted missile 
on HER. The Dark essence of Darana's being drives itself into Rachel's mind 
and body.

Shrieking in horror, Rachel tries to shield against the terrible onslaught, 
but to no avail. Fear, anger, disgust, hatred, despair--all these and more 
surge through Rachel's mind. But these emotions are as ambrosia to the Dark 
Side. Darana's essence seizes upon these and inflames them to their fullest 
extent, delving into the core of Rachel's soul. In answer, all the repressed 
and pent-up darkness hiding within Rachel's own self rise to the surface, 
tumbling Rachel Summers over into the Dark Side all at once. Dark meets and 
blends with Dark, and the Light runs for its life.

Arcturus and the others watch as Rachel Summers draws her arms and hands up 
in a warding gesture. She screams, high and terrified as a rabbit, then 
stumbles back into the wall and crumbles to a heap on the floor.

Suddenly, a vortex of heat rises up around her as her aura flares into the 
image of a bird of prey, drawn in flame. The bird-image mantles, screaming in 
protest, silver highlights playing throughout its wings. The scream turns 
into a cry of rage; and the wall behind Rachel erupts in black flames. The 
flickering, fiery image becomes the deep, dark crimson of sullen embers. The 
silver highlights flare and fade to glowing veins of molten pewter. 

An ancient entity stirs and wakes as the firebird strikes out at the 
ancestral form, drawing the darkness into itself as it had intended for her.

The Dark power melts into the bird's flames. A psychic shockwave ripples 
throughout the room as the leftover energies are dispersed into their atomic 
parts. The entity regards its vessel, and is not displeased. It settles back 
into the innermost recesses of her consciousness to watch and wait.

In full battle rage, Shade leaps to Rachel's side, his saber staff ready, 
adamantly refusing to let anyone near her.

Eric and Rook stumble through the door, leaving bloody trails, and stare at 
the bizarre scene before them.

*****
Khevyn feels the full brunt of the change within Rachel Summers due to his 
bond with her. His blood burning within his veins, he sprawls to his knees 
with a gasp, clutching ahead of him at the floor. Somewhere deep inside his 
spirit, Khevyn knows what has transpired; but he is so overwhelmed by the 
display of raw power that he remains on his hands and knees for a few 
moments. He senses the darkness emanating from her and recoils inwardly at 
the foul sensations coiling about her soul. Yet he is drawn to her at the 
same time, partly because of this change. Now he knows what it is that Dani 
feels for Arcturus. His spirit cries out in anguish, as he knows he cannot 
help Rachel escape from this sudden inprisonment within her own body. And an 
eerieness settles into his mind as he feels acutely the second, dominant 
presence within her mind, wondering if it can tap into his thoughts. He hopes 
not!

Arcturus, seeing Rachel's transformation, stares at this form for a moment. 
He quickly figures out what has happened, and smiles to himself. He realizes 
that Darana is safe, for now; but Nathaniel and his cronies are certainly 
not. He also realizes just how powerful he and Rachel can be together. Desire 
fills him momentarily; but then he sees Nathaniel on the ground, nearing 
death.

"Oh, no--you don't get out of it that easily."

He picks up Nathaniel's unconscious body, first making sure that he is unable 
to escape, in the event that he is not as hurt as he appears. "This will make 
a suitable gift," he murmurs. Arcturus tends to the worst of Nathaniel's 
wounds to ensure his survival, then drugs him for easy transport. Then, 
looking over at Shade, he says: "C'mon, we've got to get out of here! We have 
what we need. Time enough for revenge later!"

Slowly, the lovely redheaded young woman gets to her feet. "It's all right, 
Shade," Rachel says calmly. "I have no enemies here." She glances wryly at 
the corpse-littered floor. "Not anymore." Holding her arm out experimentally, 
she continues: "I must say, it was very generous of young Katherine--or 
Rachel, I should say--to bring me this body to leap into." She smiles 
slightly and heads over towards Nathaniel.

Shade starts to interpose himself between the girl and Nathaniel. Rachel 
turns and regards him with a steady, expectant look. Looking back at her, 
Shade can feel Darana watching him out of those green eyes. Though the body 
is that of a Jedi student, everything else--the posture, the poise, the very 
rhythm of her speech--is that of Darana. Most of all, he is more aware than 
anyone else that Darana's soul is now residing in Rachel's body. Shade nods 
faintly and steps aside, his staff still ready to protect his master.

Rachel--or Darana--steps up to the body of the renegade Sith. "Thank you, 
Arcturus. I did want him alive." A cruel smile flickers across her features.

She reaches out and touches two fingers to each of Nathaniel's temples. A 
shock of energy goes through his body, and his eyes flutter open. The young 
woman meets his gaze and holds it. She concentrates intently for several 
moments. Nathaniel looks dully back at her. Abruptly, his whole body startles 
as he gapes at her, eyes bulging. A tortured shriek pierces the air, a cry of 
eternal anguish and ultimate despair. The young woman sighs deeply with 
satisfaction, clearly relishing the sound. Nathaniel falls in a heap. His 
wide-open eyes stare endlessly at a scene beyond his surroundings. A tiny 
trickle of drool runs out of the corner of his mouth.

"I don't think he'll be giving us any more trouble," she says, a corner of 
her mouth quirking up. "Well, enough of that. Vengeance later. Let's get back 
to the ship before the remains of the colony raise the alarm." She glances 
around at the other members of the household, her gaze lingering on the most 
severely wounded. "You're in no condition to fight. I'm not taking any 
chances." She strides toward the exit. "Yes, I know, Rook," she adds, holding 
her hand up. "But questions will have to wait until we get our people out of 
here safely. Arcturus, bring that one along, would you?" she tosses over her 
shoulder, gesturing to Nathaniel. Her eyes fall upon the Zeltron as if 
noticing him for the first time. "You--Khevyn, is it? Help him."

Automatically, Khevyn reaches over to assist Arcturus with the body of 
Nathaniel, his mind desperately searching for something, anything, with which 
to help Rachel. The sooner he can slip away, the better, he thinks bitterly, 
to work out what he might do for her. If there is something that can be done!

Rachel turns her back on her soulmate. Together, she and Shade head out the 
way they came, the rest of the household falling in behind them.

                                        
                                                ~finis~


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