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Old 09-21-2005, 10:30 PM   #5
machievelli
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Las Vegas Nevada
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Endar Spire
I felt the first blast, and was rolling to fall out of bed. I landed on all fours, then shook my head. I was in my quarters on the Endar Spire. Beyond the Armorplast of the windows I could see the turbolaser blasts slamming into our shields felt the crump of others as they smashed hull plating instead.
Instinct is a wonderful thing. I had been assigned a footlocker, and scrabbled across the floor to it. My palm opened the lock, and I had just grabbed the familiar grip of a blaster rifle when the hatch popped open.
I spun in place, the skeleton stock against my shoulder, cheek welded to it, eye looking down the sight. I didn’t recognize the man, but I did recognize the uniform. Republic Navy. I lifted the gun away from target, and he relaxed.
“Danika? I’m Ensign Trask Ulgo. We share these quarters. We work different shifts, which is why we haven’t met.”
After those sentences I had him pegged as a willing little clown. Most new minted officers are like that.
“The Endar Spire is under attack by a Sith battle fleet. We have to get to the bridge to protect Bastila.” I had to count that as stupid observation number 2. I figured he was so newly minted that he thought the crew needed a pep talk, even if he only had one crewperson, and even if we were under attack. I was busy putting on my gear, but he ran off at the mouth anyway.
“One of our primary duties is to guarantee her survival in the event of an enemy attack. You swore an oath just like everyone else on this mission. Now it’s time to make good on that oath!”
Where was that power coupling? I dug for it as he continued to run off at the mouth.
“I’ve heard all about your reputation. Elite combat training, tops in you class. It’s no wonder you were handpicked for this mission. Word is, the officers haven’t seen a recruit with your potential in twenty years. But all that potential doesn‘t mean a thing if you can‘t deliver when it counts!”
I had a disparaging thought; was there a class at the officer’s academy on how to write one of these speeches? When I had taken over 2nd squad aboard Ashtree Corona, my entire speech was ‘Dylan is gone, I’m in charge. Let’s do it.’
More to the point, who was he calling a recruit?
“We’re-” I held up a hand to silence him. I pointed at the blaster still on his hip. “You know how to use that thing?” The sword didn’t sit right between my shoulder blades, and I shifted it.
I actually broke through the prepared speech. “Yeah.”
“Then follow me, and if I don’t kill it, you do.”
“I’m an officer and I‘m in charge-”
“How many actual boarding actions you been on, butter-bar?” I asked.
“Uh, two.”
“I’ve lost count. You decide where we’re going, then get the hell out of my way so we can get there alive.” I went to the hatch, but it didn’t open.
“All the compartments are on lockdown. But don’t worry I have the codes.”
I hissed, motioning with the rifle toward the hatch. He slipped past me and punched in a series I immediately memorized. If we got separated, or he bought a charge, I would be able to go on.
The hatch opened. I spun to cover it, but only an astromech droid was in sight. I double-timed down the passageway, and tapped the code I had gotten into it. This one opened into another passageway. Directly ahead, a lone Republic soldier was firing off to my left. I shifted and saw two people in Sith battle armor there.
“These must the advance guard of their boarding party. For the Republic!’ Trask leaped out and opened fire.
Really, did any soldier that had seen action say things like that? I charged out with my own muttered battle cry. “Not this crap again!” The two there went down under our fire. My com clicked, and I paused.
“This is Carth Onasi. The Sith are threatening our positions. We can’t hold out for long against their firepower. All hands to the bridge!”
“That’s Carth! He’s one of the Republic’s best pilots. He’s seen more combat than the rest of the crew combined. If he says things are bad, you’d better believe it. We have to get to the bridge to help defend Bastila.”
I dropped, and went through the pouches on the dead Republican. I found a frag grenade and another magazine. “What are you doing?” He almost screamed.
“These weapons don’t run on words, Ensign.” I slid the grenade in the tube on the front of my outfit, just where it belonged in the first one. As he went up the passageway, I followed. I had caught a glimpse of his insignia before he turned.
What was a medic Psyche specialist doing leading a boarding action?
The next short time was madness as it always is in battle. Panels exploded as energy bled into the electrical system, and the lighting flickered then stabilized at a different level. The enemy were in burnished black and gold, visible only at a distance before our fire took them down. Everywhere were bodies. Our own crewmen, Sith. A number of hatches headed aft were fused. Anyone back there was trapped with no escape, and we didn’t have time to save them. Along the way I madly collected grenades, a long sword and a suit of combat armor.
We reached deck four dead aft of the bridge. There was a door leading into the bridge, through an adjacent passageway. But it was locked. I motioned, and Trask moved up. He fiddled, cursing, then the door opened. We looked into an anteroom a hell.
Two people were facing off. One was a Dark Jedi in armor. The other- My heart leaped in pain. Padawan Loras faced off against him, her face set in grim determination. The chubby ever-cheerful woman I had known for months was gone. Instead she was a warrior goddess, and the man facing her was being pushed back by her attack. He was taller broader more muscular yet even I knew he never stood a chance. She spun, blade flashing past him, and he fell in pieces. She barely had enough time to recognize his death when a panel behind her exploded, shredding her.
We charged toward her, just as a pair of Sith came around the corner. I tucked and rolled, coming up on my knees, my rifle already aiming. His first shot went over my head. Mine punched through his faceplate and through the back of his head. Directly ahead of us was the secondary bridge access. But the door refused to budge. I motioned, and we ran down the passageway to the main bridge entrance.
“If it’s that close-” He began. I drew the long sword, and motioned for him to do the same. The hatch slammed up and I was cutting at the Sith I didn’t even see. He screamed, and I was past attacking his partner as Trask charged him as well. He went down, and Trask and I looked around frantically. Nothing lived on the bridge but us.
He went to a panel, and brought up a screen. “All of the portside pods are either damaged or away. That leaves starboard.” He pointed off to our right. I ran around the corner, and the hatch opened. We stepped through, and the hatch beyond started to open. Beyond it...
A dark Jedi
I know Jedi are supposed to be able to detect each other and their enemy by feeling the force, though no one had ever explained it to me. At that moment, I understood because I could almost feel the black evil miasma in that figure.
He stood there, grinning as if he were a child that had surprised us with a clever trick.
Trask pushed me toward the hatch leading to the starboard escape deck. “Run I’ll hold him as long as I can!” Before I understood what he was doing, he leaped through, and his blaster exploded into the control panel on that side. The hatch slammed shut, trapping him with the dark Jedi.
I pounded on the hatch, screaming. I wanted him there so I could slap him and scream in his face. I was the soldier, it was my job to fight and die saving the others. Not some jumped up med student with a gold bar and delusions of grandeur! At least I could make sure his sacrifice was worth something. I opened the hatch leading to the starboard escape deck.
The passageways were empty no-
“This is Carth Onasi to Republican crewman in the Starboard Escape deck; I am tracking your position through the Endar Spire‘s life support system.
“Bastila’s escape pod is away. According to the sensors, you’re the last survivor I can see. I can’t wait for you much longer. You have to get to the escape pods!”
“Right.” I whispered.
I came around a corner, and my rifle was tracking before I even knew why. The Sith armored trooper saw me, but he was a lifetime too late. I ran past his body, checking my map. Turn left, fifteen meters, a door- I looked up, skidding to a stop as I thumbed the rifle to auto fire. The two troopers there had heard me and were turning, but the ‘room broom’ as we called a blaster on auto fire tumbled them both over.
I came up to the next hatch, and heard a click in my communicator. “Be careful, after the next room, you’ve got a whole squad of Sith troopers on the other side of the hatch. You need to find some way to thin out their numbers.”
My lungs were burning. Before my injury I could have done the entire course at a full run, but right now, I was staggering. “Any... suggestions?”
There was a moment, and I thought he had just said to hell with it. Then he came back. “How good are you with computers and droids?”
“Computers, not so good.” I admitted. “But I can change circuit boards with the best of them.”
“Then you could reprogram the damaged assault droid in that room. If not you could use the computer panel and use the ship’s internal security net against them.”
I nodded, then remembered he couldn’t see it. “It’s done.” I said. I opened the hatch, and there where he said it would be was the droid.
I ran up to it, and popped the self diagnostic. As it came up I began to frantically reroute systems. Finally it hummed to life, lifting its rifle. I stood aside. It marched past me in that stiff-legged way all legged droids use when walking, and I followed as it opened the next hatch. The droid paused, and I felt the crackle of its shields as it turned, and began firing. There was screaming from inside.
I popped behind it, and took down a trooper by the other hatch. Beside him was a man in the red armor of an elite trooper, and he went down next. By the time I turned to the other three they were already down. The droid hummed, then turned, walking past me toward the remainder of the ship. “Give ‘em hell.” I said, then ran past it. By the hand of the officer I saw a vibroblade and picked it up. Better than the Corotosis weave long sword I had. I hit the control and the hatch popped open.
Carth Onasi was tall, dark, and about ten years older than I was. He shut down the computer, and waved. “You made it just in time. There’s only one escape pod left. Come on! We can hide out on the planet below.”
“But-”
“Bastila’s away, and there’s no reason for us to stick around and let the Sith blow holes in us.” I must have still hesitated because his face hardened. “Come on! There’s time for questions later!”
I shrugged and moved past him. The pod lay open, and I had a sudden feeling that I was looking at my grave. Then I leaped in.
Carth was on my heels, hitting the release as he did.
Neither of us was strapped in, and the jolt of launching slammed us into the bulkhead. I could see the planet, a steel blue ball coming toward us, then something slammed into the hull of the pod. Probably, I figured out later, bleed off from a near miss. It was strong enough to pick me up and slam me into the bulkhead again. That was the last thing I remembered.
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