A long time ago in a Galaxy far far away . . .
Mandalore Wars: Valour
The Republic is in its darkest hour. The Mandalorian war machine is spreading across the galaxy, pillaging, burning, and conquering helpless worlds. The emergence of the Revanchist and Jedi Crusaders that have come to the Republic's aid were expected to turn the tide.
That hasn't happened. The Jedi simply slow Mandalore's forces, not halt them. The Galaxy is doomed.
As a last resort, the Republic has amassed its armada to attack Dxun, one of the main command centres of the Mandalore, where the fate of the Galaxy will be decided.
In an effort to best protect his people, King Xalas of Onderon makes an alliance with Mandalore. The Mandalorians soon betray their allies and take Onderon, razing Izis to the ground and declaring marshal law.
In the midst of this Galactic Conflict, two human men are in a position to change the fate of the Republic. Both men have strength.
One has the strength of the Force; the strength of power, the strength of legions of soldiers at his command.
Another, however, has strength of a different kind; the strength of will, the strength of heart, and strength of courage. However, there is one strength that both have, a strength that will decide the fate of the Galaxy.
The Strength of Valour.
As the darkness descends upon me, my breath quickens and my heart is wrapped in deadly chill, blanketed by melancholy. Where I once felt the soft currents of life, I now feel a black hole, devoid of life. Where once I had peace, I now have unrest, anger, hatred, and sadness. Where I once had hope, I now have thoughts of endless suffering and death.
I try to pour my feelings and state of mind in one paragraph. Reading it again, it gives me no solace; only a harsh stab of reality. Things are as bad as ever down here. We’ve lost so many men, it is hard to bear. Seeing my friends slaughtered like animals again and again is something that my training had not prepared me for. I feel naked, and weak, and I am sure the men and women under my command feel the same.
We’ve done all that’s been asked of us. We’ve held the line for months. We’ve crawled through the trenches, our sweat and blood mingling with the harsh mud and rain. We’ve slept every night hoping and praying our enemies don’t cut our throats in our sleep. We’ve never backed down, not once. Whenever we plead for help, the answer is the same; ‘we can’t spare anyone right now, just hold the line a little longer.’
There are times when I have found my lightsaber is useless. Many times, I have had to pick up a blaster assault rifle and shoot from cover. While I still think the Republic Armour is too heavy, my Jedi robes are completely useless. I now wear a black robe made out of a velvet-like materiel mixed with black armour plating. I look like a Sith Assassin, but it is the best suit for battle.
And so, my thoughts wander off to the Force. The Force. Ha! In my time here, I have learned that the Force is nothing but a weapon. It is so easily manipulated into evil, that I no longer believe in its will. People call me ‘Jedi.’ Not Colonel, just Jedi. It is not a sign of contempt, nor a phrase of admiration. It is simply an acknowledgement, a word which signified respect. But I don’t deserve it. I have found this too much to handle; I am too young, only twenty four. Also, I am no longer a Jedi. The day they refused to fight, when they cowered in their temples and grounds, when they refused to lend help, I had forsaken their code. I am loyal to the Republic, and to Revan, not the Jedi.
This is Thoran Zarius, Colonel in the Republic Army, Jedi Knight.
Zarius stared at the datapad. He had hoped that keeping a journal, giving word to his experiences would help him through these times. He shut down the datapad, sighing as he stared at the wall of the tent, trying to reach out with the force, hoping to find some peace.
There was no peace to be found here.
Darkness filled his soul as he sat down on his soft bed; probably the only bed in the camp. Looking down, he saw that a shard of glass had fallen to the ground. Reaching out with a force, Zarius levitated it, trying to see his reflection off the light in the background.
He saw a man with long black hair which fell to his tired, yet intense eyes. Stubble was spread across his face, and he noticed specks of dirt in his hair. He didn’t even bother trying to get it out. Who knows when the camp would be attacked next? But why did it even matter? It was hopeless! There was no hope for the Republic; it would not be long before Coruscant had been razed to the ground, and every free soul would become Mandalorian slaves. There were times like these where Zarius wanted to use his lightsaber to behead himself. He was not alone. Suicides were getting all too frequent here. But no, he had to fight. Even if there was no hope, he could not, would not abandon the Republic, his soldiers, to their fate.
There was a rustling noise outside the tent. Zarius sensed a familiar presence. “Come in, Captain,” he said as he lowered the glass, his eyes fixed on the wall. A tall, burly man who looked in his early forties walked in the room. Zarius liked having a friendly face with him when he was feeling like this. Captain Orlov was much older and more experienced than him, yet apparently being able to push things without touching them and having a coloured sword automatically made you a good leader. Orlov acted like an advisor to Zarius in terms of strategic and tactical decisions.
The two made eye contact. Each of them saw a reflection of themselves in the others’ eyes. Depression, fatigue, and the screams of their fallen brethren burned within them. “There’s someone outside who would like to see you. Should I send him in?” he said in a rough voice.
“What? Yeah . . . yeah, sure. Send him in,” said Zarius hesitantly.
“Yes, sir,” said the Captain as he walked out of the tent. A second later, a human male walked in.
“Colonel Von” stated Zarius simply. The colonel looked like a soldier; he was tall, with short dark hair and a half-shaved beard.
Von bowed his head slightly. “Colonel Zarius.” His voice was stern, and military.
Zarius observed his fellow Colonel. “About time,” he replied as he got off his bed and faced Von. There was a strained silence as they stared at each other. The only sound was the cool wind that howled through the camp. “How many?” said Zarius finally.
Von lowered his eyes and shifted them to the wall of the tent. “Approximately two million ground forces, including battle droids” he said tersely. “On top of that, we have twenty thousand fighters, and twenty thousand pilots for those fighters. We have a hundred dropships, 5500 Jedi, but most importantly, twelve tank divisions, all under my command.”
Zarius closed his eyes. “That’s not enough to break Mandalore’s lines,” he whispered. “My forces were something in that range when we were deployed here. Now, I have 200,000 ground units, about seven fighters with no pilots, thirteen dropships, two tank divisions, and one Jedi. And he’s talking to you right now.” He sighed, shaking his head.
“The Mandalorian Naval Forces are suffering great losses,” reported Von. “Admiral Revan’s fleet is rolling forward to crush their resistance. But all their efforts will be in vain if we can’t secure the planet.” His pent-up frustration and anger was painfully evident; he had an imposing presence in the Force.
Zarius sighed, rubbing his forehead. “Then we only have one choice,” he whispered. “We have to assault their main base of operations.”
Von blinked. “What? That’s crazy! We are outnumbered and outgunned! Not to mention the fact that they have about a hundred Air Divisions packed with Basilisk War Droids, all ready to blast us away!” he said angrily. His facial features contorted in a grimace. “You Jedi know nothing of war! How you . . . you priests
got such high ranks upon joining is beyond me!”
Zarius managed to keep a cool, collected aura. He had to focus, not lose control like his comrade. “You said you had 5500 Jedi. What are their ranks?” he asked.
“What?” spluttered Von.
“Colonel, I need you to focus! How you feel about the Jedi is going to have to wait,” asserted Zarius.
Von nodded his head reluctantly. “There are 500 apprentices, 1000 Padawans, 2500 Jedi, and 1500 Jedi Knights. This is all approximate, of course.”
Zarius gave a small smile. “You’ve never seen a Jedi Knight in his prime in combat, have you Colonel?”
Von glared at him. “No,” he said through gritted teeth.
Zarius nodded. “Once you do, I think your opinion will be changed. In any case, we have something that they don’t; cavalry. Four thousand fully fledged Jedi, almost half of them Knights. Plus, we have fourteen tank divisions. If we’re tactically sound, we can have a chance.”
Von sighed, shaking his head exasperatedly. “You’re forgetting the Basilisks!” he said angrily. “Not only do they outnumber us, but it takes three of our fighters to take down one Basilisk!”
Zarius nodded. “I know the odds,” he said solemnly, “but what choice do we have?”
The drops of rain fell softly on his face, mingled with the blood and mud. He slowly regained consciousness, but something wasn’t right. Where was he? He looked up and saw a round wall of mud, rising up towards the ground.
Okay, so he was in a ditch. It was raining, he knew that much. But who was he? How did he get there? Suddenly, a cold pit of emptiness formed in his stomach. He moaned, whined, and sobbed. The emptiness was a gaping hole in his soul, threatening to consume him. It took him all of his willpower to focus on what was going on. So, he observed what he could from his position. He noticed tall buildings looming over him, and a striking chill in the air. He was in a ditch, it was raining, and he was in a city. However, the buildings were half destroyed, blown up, broken down. Some war or battle must have taken place here.
So, he was in a ditch, it was raining, it was cold, and he was in the middle of the ruins of a city which just got hit by a battle, and he had no idea who he was. As he slowly lifted his head up, he felt his muscles tear. He screamed in agony. He felt as if his insides were being ripped open. However, he managed to finally look around the ditch. He saw about seven mutilated corpses, blood everywhere. He suddenly felt even more sick. He looked to his right, and saw that he was clutching something in his fist.
Opening it up, he saw a bloodstained emblem. He could make out the letters; Ranus Geilesi. So that was his name; Ranus Geilesi. Ranus sighed as he rested his head against the mud. Time began to float by as he fought to maintain consciousness. Ranus fought with every breath to stay awake, but he was losing fast. His vision started to blur, but he could make out figures approaching the ditch. Then, he started to hear voices.
“There, in the ditch! Someone’s moving. Should we take him out, Sir?”
“Are you crazy? Does he look like a Mandalorian to you? Hold your fire! If we get down there fast, he might be able to save him. Sergeant Reiken, and Private Corala stay guard. The rest of you, come down with me.”
The blurred figures starting climbing down the ditch. Ranus noticed they were coming towards him. One of them took out a needle, and without hesitation, he stabbed it into Ranus’ arm. Pain jolted through him, but it was quickly subdued. Slowly, he started regain consciousness. His vision cleared up, and he regained focus, noticing a man in a brown cotton uniform standing over him.
“Who are you, civilian?” demanded the man.
Ranus suddenly jolted into focus. He quickly ran his lips over his dry parched lips. “My . . . my name is Ranus Geilesi. I woke up and found myself here, but I don’t remember anything,” he rasped. He moaned as he leaned over to his side as he coughed up blood. He felt as if someone was grating his throat.
The man nodded. “The shot I just gave should bring your memories back. My name is Captain Jorran Smith.” The man looked up at the ruined buildings. “You see this city here? This is what’s left of Izis, capitol of Onderon. Ring any bells?”
Ranus nodded. Suddenly, memory started flooding back into his mind. The empty thought that was roaring in his sub consciousness started to kick in, and the bits and pieces of his life came together swiftly and easily. It was not in his knowledge what chemical had just been injected into him, but it certainly worked. He felt warmth, a comfort as he remembered everything. “I . . . yes, I remember now. Four months ago, the Mandalorians attacked the city. I remember they . . . they wiped out our army, and executed anyone who surrendered. They started slaughtering people. So, my brother and I went into hiding. We scavenged food, roaming around the ruins, evading Mandalorians. About a month ago, he got killed by Mandalorians who were pursuing us. I’ve been running ever since.” As he finished, his entire life came back to him, and suddenly, the emptiness went away, yet it was replaced by the cold truth; his family and friends were dead.
Captain Smith nodded. He reached behind him and took out a blaster rifle, handing it to Ranus. “Well, from now on you’re going to be known as Private Geilesi,” he said with authority.
“What?” asked Ranus sceptically. “Who are you people?”
Smith took a quick glance up. One of the soldiers, a young woman who looked not even twenty, nodded. “Shi*t!” he whispered. “They’re coming. No time for questions, come with us.”
Ranus looked down at the rifle in his hand, dumbfounded. “What?”
Smith grunted as he pulled Ranus to his feet. “Do you know how to use a Blaster Rifle?”
“What?” Ranus asked, dumbfounded.
Smith waved his hand. “Of course you do, if you’ve survived this long! Come on!”
Ranus nodded hesitantly. “Okay.” Before he could finish, Smith was already climbing up the ditch. Ranus managed to ignore the stabbing pain in his right leg and follow him, swiftly reaching the ground. He then noticed five people, all armed. One was a man with dark skin who looked in his mid-twenties. Another was the young woman he had seen a minute ago, and before he could even look at the other three, they were running. Ranus quickly limped after them.
Izis was a huge city. Ranus looked up and saw a ruptured gray sky, casting a shadow over the smouldering ruins of what was once a bustling part of the city. However, he quickly focused his attention on following Smith and his team. Fatigue and injury crept in as he was gasping in pain while running, but he dared not yell out anything.
The group evaded the main road, but kept to backward alleyways instead. A few times, they saw Basilisks soaring overhead, or a Mandalorian Patrol marching through the streets, but these people had learnt as well as Ranus how to avoid Mandalorians.
After the first Kilometre, Ranus started gasping for breath as he was stabbed with a sharp pain in his muscles. But he managed to carry on, taking it one step at a time, taking it in stride.
After about two miles, they stopped at the end of an alleyway. Ranus skid to a stop, panting. Looking down, he noticed his leg was bleeding. He moaned and grimaced in pain. He quickly noticed the young woman was eyeing him. “Learn to deal with it,” she said tersely. “It won’t be the first time.”
Ranus ignored her, and focused his attention on Smith, who was approaching a sewer grate at the end of the alley. He took off the lid, exposing a ladder which led down. “Wait! Please, let me rest for one second!” he gasped. No one bothered answering him. So, he obediently crawled down the ladder.
It was not long before they were greeted with a foul, putrid stench. They found themselves in a dark sewer, with a river of . . . certain products flowing beside them. Ranus coughed as he followed the group ten metres forward, stopping at a doorway to the side. “See this here?” said Smith to Ranus. “This door leads to the headquarters of the Onderonian Military remnant. It’s a set of Underground bases and halls that not only serve as a base should the city be taken, but also as a safe haven.”
Ranus stared at the door, panting. “Okay, wait for one second!” he spluttered. “Thank you for saving my life, but you can’t just drag me across the city, into a sewer, and not tell me anything!” He looked around exasperatedly, yelling out in frustration.
Smith nodded. “You want to know who we are? Fine. We are the remnants of the Onderonian Military. We fight for Onderon. What more do you need to know. Now get into this fuc*king door so that you can be in a safe place for the first time in five months!”