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Old 05-20-2006, 03:26 PM   #145
machievelli
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Circumstances

Carth

We had seen the Sith fighter rip past at supersonic speed, and everyone tensed. It could have blown us away sitting on the beach, but the pilot didn’t notice, or worse yet, didn’t think we were important enough.

“Carth? Check the repeater.” Mission shouted. I switched the screen to the senor array. A huge portion of the fleet was leaving their orbit. Almost all of them were the Rakata designed ships. As we watched, they leaped into hyper.

“Where are they going?”

“I don’t know.”

I bit my lip. From here half the Galaxy was within striking distance in just a few days. I hoped that whatever the Republic would send wasn’t supposed to be guarding their target.

“People coming down the path.” Canderous shouted. I flicked to that screen instead. Jolee Juhani and Danika had stopped outside the weapon’s perimeter. I shut down the intruder system, and cracked the hatch. We all gathered at the ramp. Sasha charged through all of them and bulleted into Danika’s arms. They hugged, but I could see that Danika was haunted.

“You’re back!” I shouted. “What happened inside the temple?”

“We fought Bastila.” Juhani said. She looked even more haunted than Danika.

“Fought her? But why?”

“She has turned to the dark side, Carth.” Danika said. “She fled to the Star Forge.”

“No! How could that happen!”

Jolee shook his head sadly. “She was always in danger of falling to the dark side, Carth, as are we all. Bastila is strong, but she is also headstrong and impatient. Malak preyed on her weakness. Where he had her didn’t help.” He waved at our surroundings. “This place has been under a pall of darkness for almost fifty millennia! Throughout the reign of the Rakata, and sealed when they fell over 30,000 years ago. It has seeped into the ground itself. The Star Forge and the temple has twisted the Force into a giant dark sucking mass that draws in everything, and spits it out tainted, Just as Malak did the same to Bastila.”

“But she can be saved.” Danika said. Jolee looked at her sadly.

“Malak has too strong a grip on her now. It will be difficult to break her free, especially considering the long association you have had with both. Remember that she created the bond between you to save that last spark of life and kindle it into what you are now. Through that bond she touched the you that existed before and especially the dark taint within you.”

“But there’s still hope, isn’t there?” I waved at Danika. “Revan was saved. Can we deny Bastila that same chance?”

“We will try.” Danika set the girl down. “I will try. I will not let her be dragged away from us.”

“I do not know what fate awaits us all, but I sense Bastila has a role to play yet.” Juhani said. “I have no doubt that she will be waiting for us on the Star Forge when we arrive.”

“No doubt.” I said. “We had best get off this planet before she calls in a larger reception committee.”

We ran aboard the ship. I reported the departure of part of the Sith fleet and Danika nodded.

“Good, less of them to run through to get to the Star Forge.” She said.

“Wait a minute! The ship is fast and we are pretty well armed, but against a thousand or more ships? We don’t stand a chance!”

“We will get through because it will tickle Malak’s vanity. I intend to broadcast that I am aboard, and that this is between my apprentice and me. The Sith will understand and back off. No one interferes in a duel of succession.”

“Then, you’re going to go back to the dark side.” My fingers brushed my holstered pistol.

“No, Carth.” She shook her head. “I have a way to destroy the Star Forge, or at least severely weaken it. But I must be aboard for that to happen.” She looked haunted. “Even if I have to die in the attempt.” She smiled sadly. “Trust me for just a little longer, my friend.”

“Well no one said we’d live through this, did they?” I asked with a chuckle.

“That is what all people forget.” She said. “No one gets out of life alive.”
She stood. “Take us up.”

Ebon Hawk staggered a bit, and I set the auto-compensate system. As we roared up out of the atmosphere, I felt it smoothing out.

“Carth!” Mission screamed. I flicked to the senor screen, and felt my blood run cold. Over a hundred ships had appeared in space, and they were coming toward us at high speed. The damn fleet had returned!

A moment later, another massive trace appeared. Before I could curse the IFF read their transponders. I whooped in joy. “It’s the Republic fleet!”



In death ground I could make it evident that there is no chance of survival. For it is in the nature of soldiers to resist when surrounded; to fight to the death when there is no alternative, and when desperate to follow orders implicitly.

Armageddon

Danika

Everyone ran to the mess hall as Carth punched in the codes necessary to communicate with the fleet. A holographic image of a dark haired woman in uniform appeared. She would never be considered beautiful at first glance. Handsome was the best I could say for her. Her green eyes moved as Carth stood on the transmitter plate.

“This is Admiral Forn Dodonna commanding the sixth, ninth, and fourteenth combined fleets. Who is in command of Ebon Hawk?”

“This is Carth Onasi, Admiral.”

Her face broke into a smile, and I revised my estimate. She was an attractive woman. “Carth! I’m glad to see you’re still alive. We are about to begin our assault on the Star Forge.” She looked away, and she looked shocked. “My god, how did the Sith ever build this thing in secret?”

“The Sith didn’t build the Star Forge, Admiral. We don’t have time for a full explanation, but that station is older than the Republic.”

She scanned the invisible monitor. “And they outnumber us almost four to one. We didn’t bring enough firepower to break through that. Not and live. I am ordering the fleet to withdraw.”

Carth shook his head. “You can’t do that Admiral. The Star Forge is a factory of incredible design and capability. It has been churning out warships, fighters and assault droids since Revan and Malak found it. If you retreat now, they merely have to leave this fleet here to protect it, and you will still face an unending supply of reinforcements. It will be the same as before you arrived, except we will never have as good a chance to destroy it again.”

She nodded at the logical statement. “Then I guess we have no choice. But it isn’t going to be easy. The Sith fleet is maneuvering to block us even as I set the fleet into motion. We may all die without getting within range of the Star Forge itself. Almost as if they know what we plan to do.”

“The Jedi Bastila went over to the dark side.” Carth said. “That is her battle meditation you’re seeing. We suspect she is aboard the Star Forge using it even now.”

Dodonna shook her head. “You can really pick the fights a smart Admiral would avoid.” She turned, then motioned to her side. Master Vandar entered the holo-projection. “This is Master Vandar. A number of Jedi have joined our fleet.”

Vandar leaned on his cane. He looked his age. “If Bastila is using her battle meditation, the Sith fleet is invincible. Our only hope is to stop her somehow.”

“Can we do that?” Dodonna asked.

Vandar considered. “The Republic cannot, but we have Jedi equipped with their own snub fighters. I will order a squadron to fly through the enemy fleet and board the station. If they can fight their way to her location, they can stop her by whatever means necessary. That should allow you to move your capital ships in for the kill.”

I tugged Carth’s sleeve. He looked at me, then back at the holo-projection. “Some of our crew has a plan to defeat the Star Forge. Request permission to join that assault, Admiral.”

“After all you have been through, no one would be surprised if you wanted to rest. Except for me, Carth. I hate to ask you all to risk your lives again, but the Jedi could use your help.”

“We wouldn’t miss it.” Carth replied.

“May I speak to our Jedi aboard?” Vandar asked. I stepped in to face the hologram as Dodonna stepped away.

“Master Vandar, there is a way I can at least cripple the Star Forge.” I reported. “But there is a great risk to all that use the Force within this system.”

He shrugged. “There is risk in everything we do in life, young Jedi.”

“I only meant to warn you. We Jedi and the Dark Jedi as well will be more affected than the normal people on both sides. But it will level the playing field.” I looked down. “I have worried about the Jedi on Dantooine. The Masters, the children. How many survived?”

“All of the very young did.” He answered sadly. “The rest of us fought to assure that. But of the Padawan and Masters, only Master Dorak escaped when I did.”
I felt a hand clutch my heart. “Master Zhar?”

“His body was not found. A number of the bodies were not found. We do not know what happened to them.”

I lowered my head. Then I looked up. I could tell there were unshed tears in my eyes, but I refused to cry until it was all over. “Then we shall send them an appropriate honor guard, Master.”

“May the Force go with you.” Vandar replied.

The hologram collapsed, and I turned to the others. “Let’s go.”

Picture a chip in a millrace. For those of you that have never seen one, Picture an ocean going ship in a storm beyond imagining, or picture a kayak in white water, the kayak driven by only oars plunging through water and rock that will tear it to shreds in a second if the pilot makes a mistake.

Now picture that water as fire, and you have an idea of the next fifteen minutes. 200 hundred massive Republic capital ships were plunging into that hell, fighters screaming through their formation as the smaller ships charged in to come to grips with the foe. From the other side over 800 enemy ships from corvettes to massive cruisers were charging toward them, their own fighters plunging into the maelstrom. In fighters the Republic was actually fielding more, but that wouldn’t matter. The fighters could destroy a capital ship only by throwing themselves enmasse at it.

Through that hell Ebon Hawk charged. Energy ravened as the capital ships tried to destroy us, fighters roared in on us. We lost count of the fighters we destroyed on that day. I figured thirty or more. Canderous estimated maybe fifty. We even slipped in close enough to slam several salvoes into a frigate that was ripped apart even as we fled its return fire. We burst through their lines and behind us less than a dozen Jedi followed. Vandar had sent not one squadron but two. It was a wise decision. Only eight or ten docked ahead of us as we dived toward the landing deck of the massive structure. Over half dead in as many minutes.

Ebon Hawk roared in, thrusters blasting madly to halt herself as Canderous and I left our stations. Beyond the force field barrier, the madness continued.

A Jedi ran up as we exited the ship. “I’m glad you made it!” The young woman called. “I didn’t expect any of us to make it!” She waved toward the elevator shaft on the right. “A number of Jedi have gone ahead. We have to strike deep and fast while we still have the element of surprise.” She looked haggard. “We have to stop Bastila any way we can or the fleet is doomed!” She motioned. “Come on before-”

A lightsaber flicked across space, and she went down, head bouncing on the deck. Four Dark Jedi charged toward us. There were only three Jedi remaining, and I leaped to their defense followed by Juhani and Jolee. We made quick work of them.

“So much for surprise.” Another of the Jedi commented. “We’ll hold here to protect the exit.”

I nodded, turning to my followers. “All of you stay here.” I ordered. “Support these Jedi. Juhani, Jolee, this is our party.”

Star Forge.

Malak watched as the very fabric of the star formed the ships before him. He had pushed the Star Forge to over 500%, and still it worked without a flaw. He snarled as a Dark Jedi master came toward him, bowing.

“Why have you disturbed me?”

“A party of Jedi has boarded the Star Forge and are moving toward us as we speak, My Lord.”

“That is not unexpected.” Malak considered. “Send the droids in.”

“Master, what chance can mere droids have against Jedi?” The master asked.

“You underestimate the strength of the newest droids I have designed.”
Malak admonished him. “Even I would have a problem dealing with these.”

“As you will, my Lord.”

“Good. I am going to the Operations deck.” Malak turned. “Report to me when the Droids have completed their task.”


Danika

We ran to the elevator shaft. The car was large enough for a snub fighter and we faced outward as it shot half a kilometer upward. I led my smaller party out onto a walkway. I stopped them, and we flinched as the heavy battle steel doors to either side exploded. Droids of a design I had never seen before stumped out. Their arms rose, blasters appearing.

I gasped, because I felt the force from them as if they were alive. Malak had included life force in their construction somehow.

I lowered my lightsaber reaching out as I would with a living mind, and felt that spark. “We are authorized. You will let us pass.“ I ordered.

“We will let you pass.“ One of them spoke.

“Negative, Jedi mind powers being used. Eliminate.“ Another spoke almost in unison.

Juhani reached out, lifting two of them, slamming the metal forms together Metal sheared, and both collapsed in ruin. I reached out, catching another pair, and flung them off the walkway to smash kilometers below us. Jolee threw his lightsaber, the blade flicking through the carapace of one, then circling to cut the last from behind. We charged past the wreckage.

Ahead of us I could hear the snarl of lightsabers in battle, and flicked mine on as I continued to run.

Below us on another walkway, three Jedi faced three dark Jedi. As I skidded to a stop, the last of the Jedi fell. One of the women looked up, and I could almost see her eyes twinkle.

“Good. More for us to slaughter.” She purred.

I charged down, and when I was close enough, threw a ball of light that illuminated my face.

“Revan!” One screamed. I singled her out, reaching out with the force, and squeezed her head until she screamed.

“Yes. I am back!” I twisted, and the woman moaned, holding her head in agony. “Who dares stand against me?”

They backed away, trying to avoid my stare. “If you are going to fight, do so! If not, cast your lightsabers off the edge. Now!”

Four lightsabers flew, glittering as they disappeared into the depths. The women moved back, fearful of my very presence. “Get out of here while you have the chance.” I ordered. We brushed past them, running toward the entrance to the elevator on the right. Two other dark Jedi were there, and we fought a brief nasty battle.

Canderous

We had set up to defend the elevators, and had barely gotten into position when a platoon of Sith armored troops poured out. Carth Mission and I met them with a hail of fire, HK popped grenades into their midst. The Jedi took care of any that got through our fire. It was over in just a few moments.

The elevator that Danika had ridden up opened, and a device from a nightmare came out. It was huge; a droid weapons platform the size of a heavy cargo lifter. I flicked a switch, shouting, “Duck!” As I dove for the floor. T3 would have added little to our defenses by himself, but one thing an astromech is excellent at is controlling a ship, especially in a dock. The little guy had been slaved to the controls of the ship, and as everyone on our side dived for cover, the engines roared. The ship lifted and spun in place, the main guns now aimed at the huge machine. The Ebon Hawk’s guns roared, blasting the huge weapon into scrap. A figure cut across behind the wreckage, and I started to my feet.

“Sasha!”

She stopped, saluted with her lightsaber, then was on the elevator before anyone could stop her.

“Who is that?” One of the Jedi asked.

“A little girl. We rescued her on Dantooine.” I replied.

“The little fool thinks she can take on dark Jedi?” He started toward the elevator.

I stopped him with one hand. “The little fool fought with that lightsaber aboard the Leviathan, activated the intruder system of our ship without being able to read, and killed about fifty Sith there.” He looked at me shocked. “And she spent three years of her life among the Mandalore. She knows what she does and why. If she wants to die fighting, we will not stop her.”

Another rush poured down on us, and I went back to killing the enemy.

Star Forge.

The Dark Jedi Master strode up to his master. Before them both Bastila knelt. In the massive holotank, the battle was going well. The fleet had formed a globe not far from the Star Forge, and the Republic fleet was trapped in the center of it, pinned in the battle by four Interdictor class cruisers.

“Why have you disturbed me this time?” Malak growled.

“I have news about the Jedi force.”

“Ah, my droids destroyed them as ordered.”

“No, My lord. The droids were unsuccessful.”

“Strange. I didn’t think there were any Jedi in the order with such capability, except for the Masters.” Malak mused.

“It was Revan, my lord.” The Dark Jedi admitted. “She leads one of the assault teams.”

Malak turned to face him. “That would explain it. My old Master was always strong in the force.” He turned back to face Bastila. “Very well, send all the available troops. All of them, Armored troops, Dark Jedi, even the apprentices. Strike at the landing bay to cut them off, and slaughter that putrid little forlorn hope. Revan must die. Lead them yourself.”

“But my lord, will the apprentices even have a chance?”

“No. I expect them all to die.” Malak said. “But their deaths will give me a chance to prepare the last of the Star Forge’s defenses. I am curious to see the full extent of those defenses. I am sure Revan will also be curious for the brief minutes she lives.”

“My Lord-”

“Don’t beg. It is not befitting of a Sith. Either go and do as I have ordered, or kill yourself now.”

The Dark Master bowed, hurrying out. He decided to lead the team against the ship. After all, Malak had told him to lead, but failed to mention which attack.

Danika

We ran onto another walkway. Heading for a door that should lead to the factory floor. It opened and a dozen dark Jedi poured out. We fought savagely, piling up a windrow of dead before us, and still they kept coming. Force bolts shot through from either side, and anyone who didn’t deflect or dodge them died.

They finally stopped coming, and Jolee leaned on his knees, gasping. “I’m getting too old for this.” He wheezed.

“”We’ll probably die before we’re done, so stop worrying!” I shouted gaily.

“Don’t tease me.” He grumbled back.

We came out on the factory floor. Before us was the massive factory chamber. As we watched a form began coalescing from the haze of particles, and a snub fighter gleamed in the lights, then floated toward the ceiling. Beyond it a frigate was almost completed.

“We must stop it.” Juhani shouted.

“This way.” I led them down the floor to another room. This had Rakata computer consoles. Attached to them were ones designed by the Republic, translating instructions and replies for those that hadn’t learned how to operate a Rakata computer. I pushed past them, going to one of the original consoles. I tried to access it.

ACCESS DENIED

I considered, then put in the back-door password I had created. I saw now that even in my fall I hadn’t been a complete trusting fool.

ACCESS GRANTED

I slipped the datapad into the interface. CONSTRUCT

QUANTITY?

I considered. I didn’t know what it would do. I know what I expected it to do, but it is like the first fission weapons made by humans millennia ago. The theoretical mathematics had suggested that the chain reaction they wanted to create might be self-sustaining. A raw burst of power that would only stop when it ran out of fuel meaning the entire planet would have gone up in nuclear fire. If they had been correct, there would have been no human race afterward.

Foolish humans that they were, they tried it anyway. Or maybe they felt as desperate as I did.

I typed in ONE.

CONSTRUCTION COMMENCED was followed an instant later with CONSTRUCTION COMPLETE.

“Juhani get the grenade from the container over there.” I ordered. I took out the datapad, and reduced it to slag. DELETE ALL SPECIFICATIONS OF GRENADE CONSTRUCTED.

ALL SPECIFICATIONS DELETED

Now how to bollix up the works? I typed CONSTRUCT FIELD EXPEDIENT SHELTER, CORELLIAN.

QUANTITY?

I typed in INFINITE.

The system hummed, then answered. PRIORITY?

I typed in REVAN 201 ULTIMATE. SHELTERS MUST BE CONSTRUCTED USING ALL RESOURCES.

The system hummed again a little irritated now. PREVIOUS CONSTRUCTION TO CONTINUE?

NEGATIVE CANNIBALIZE ALL PREVIOUS CONSTRUCTION

REVAN 201 AUTHORIZATION ACCEPTED. COMMENCING CONSTRUCTION.

Behind us there was a rattle, and a pile of cloth followed by metal tent poles and stakes fell to the floor from a slot. Another followed it almost immediately, and then another. They were starting to jam in the mechanism as we left. Droids came, and began stacking them in the corridor.

There were more guards and dark Jedi awaiting us, but we cut our way through them

Mission

I ducked as another mass of Sith erupted from the elevator. How many of them were there? I flicked a thermal detonator over their heads into the elevator, and it landed at the feet of a Jedi in armor. The man screamed, and dived forward as the detonator blew the elevator to fragments. The thermal shockwave threw smoking bits of him out of the door. I gasped as the metal began to reform, almost as if the elevator was healing.

Canderous turned, and his blaster leveled as he began blasting a second wave coming down the other elevator. “Mission! Power packs!” He screamed.

I ran aboard the ship, snatching up a bunch of bandoliers that Canderous had laid out. Each carried a different power cell size. One for his weapon, One for Zaalbar’s another for Carth’s and mine.

I dropped back to the deck, running to cover behind him. I handed the belt to him, and then low crawled to where Zaalbar was. He retreated from a pile of bodies he had created with Bacca’s sword. He took his belt without speaking loaded his bowcaster, and continued firing into yet another wave of attackers. Carth was kneeling behind the wreckage of another one of those big droids. Canderous had called them ‘tanks’ during a lull, but I didn‘t see where you could put fuel in one.

Carth grinned at me, grabbing a belt when I got to him. "Glad you could join us."

“I don’t want to be here!” I screamed.

“Who does?” He asked, popping up to shoot a Sith crawling toward us. “How are we doing for ammo?” He asked.

“This is the last of it!”

“All I have to say is I hope they finish up there fast!” He fired, then turned. HK! We need ammo!”

The droid turned, twisting the head off a Sith trooper as he did. “Since the enemy has been obliging enough to die enmasse, perhaps we can use their weapons.” The droid started forward as the fighting ebbed, throwing weapons back into the small circle of warriors. The Jedi leaped to assist. I went over, pulling packs that matched the weapons we had. Even with the enemy dead, we would be at the point of fighting with swords and bare hands in a little bit.

“Hurry, Danika!” I whispered.

Star Forge

Malak walked down to stand behind Bastila. A pity. The chit had power he could use, but there wasn’t much time. “Bastila.”

There was a long moment. In the holotank, the Sith attack faltered, and an arm of the Republic’s dwindling fighters punched through to rip into a score of ships. She opened her eyes, then stood, bowing. “Master, why have you summoned me?” She motioned toward the Republic counter attack. At least three of the massive ships were dying even as they watched. “Without my battle meditation there is a chance that the Republic capital ships will break through to attack the Star Forge itself!”

“I only interrupted you for a moment. You will return to your meditation when I am done. I just wanted to inform you that Revan is fighting her way here even now.” Malak looked at the holotank. The second tier of warships had closed the gap. Not soon enough to save a dozen of his ships. “The Force has arranged a nice neat confrontation for us. Revan the Republic fleet the Jedi. All of my enemies in one place so I can destroy them all in an afternoon!” He swept his hand toward the screen. “Even without your battle meditation, we cannot fail. There are too many of my ships, and too few of theirs.

“But there is something you must do to prove your worth as my apprentice. You must finish what you started in the Temple. You must cut the bond that links you two together. Revan must die here by your hand.”

“Y-yes Master.” She replied in an uncertain voice.

“I sense your fear but it is unfounded. The Star Forge surrounds us. Pure evil in metal and Force combined. The Star Forge will feed the dark side within you, and sap the light from her. Stay here in this chamber. She must pass through here to get to the floors above. Kill her. Earn your rightful place.”

“Of course, Master. I will not fail you again.” She turned, kneeling, and returned to her meditation.

Malak walked away from her, stopping at the door leading upward. “Perhaps you will triumph, Bastila. But your death serves my purposes. It will give me time to play my last card. Cutting Revan’s heart out before she faces the power of the Star Forge itself.” He chuckled, stepping into the elevator. As the elevator rose he roared with laughter.

Danika

The last of the Sith died, and we paused for a moment to gasp. I knew we were only three levels from the upper observation deck. I fingered the grenade I carried. I had to be sure of where Malak was when I triggered it. The door opened onto another floor, and we charged the group of Sith soldiers blocking our way. We bowled through them and into another series of walkways. There were a few dark Jedi here, and we dealt with them swiftly. Three had been before another door, which my memory told me led into the command center. I stepped over their bodies, and pushed the button. The door opened and I paused.

Bastila knelt there, and before her I could see the carnage of the battle beyond the station. The Republic fleet was being mauled, yet pressed forward toward the Star Forge even as it died. I mourned all those lives. I straightened my shoulders, and stepped over the threshold. As I did the door slammed shut behind me.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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