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Old 09-29-2009, 03:07 PM   #1
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Star Wars: The Ides of Fall

A/N: After a long hiatus, I decided to plot my butt back in the writer's chair. Realms of Honor is still on hiatus but in the meantime I have a brand new fic for viewing. I jumped on the KOTOR walkthrough bandwagon and created a fic based on a Male Revan. For those that have read my Heart of the Guardian series, give a shout for joy if you like.

This fic is partially inspired by a television series character and the Marine Corps. Mind you I am not being a patriot or anything. I owe them credit for some of the ideas as my character developed. Without further ado I give you...

Star Wars: The Ides of Fall

Prologue:

The echo was resounding. I could hear voices. They were muffled as if something were pressed to my ears. I heard the sound of bubbles in my ears and wondered who was in the bacta tank. I looked but could not find the source. All around me was gray and clouded. It cloaked what I sought and could not find. Yet the voices were there.

I opened my eyes again and saw green. I looked and saw three figures yet no detail. So distorted they were that I thought them to be hideous creatures. They were the voices. They were echoing. ‘Take a chance’ they said. What chance? Where was I? I could not tell. I looked but could see nothing. I looked at them. They looked at me. I tried to speak but no sound came out. I lost my voice!

Before panic could set in, a calm overcame me. A voice, a different voice, was calling to me. The sounds were gentle. I looked and I saw her. Her voice called to me again telling me it would be all right. “It’ll be all right Jason Gibbs,” she said. She then said it was time to sleep. I felt something touch my mind lulling me to sleep. I resisted at first but she said it was all right. I followed her caresses back into the fog, through the fog towards darkness.

The darkness surrounded me. It was like a shroud covering every fibre of my being yet it was a comfortable darkness. All the while I heard her voice telling me I would be all right. It was gentle. It was soothing. I followed. It was comforting, as if I were being carried to a better place. It was my comfort, my shield. She was my comfort, my shield…

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Old 09-29-2009, 03:11 PM   #2
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Chapter 1- Dancing With the Spire

I am not sure why I had that dream nor am I sure why I considered it important. Later I could claim that it was the Force that allowed me to have that dream but even after all this time I don’t think so. Even though this was a dream I realize that it was also a memory but I am getting ahead of myself. What I can tell you is that this dream was a precursor to things that would happen to me leading to my becoming a Jedi and stuck with a mission that would test the true nature of my character. In fact I can even tell you where this dream took place, on a Republic capital ship called the Endar Spire.

Before the Endar Spire, I was a smuggler hauling freight for anyone who would pay me. I hauled anything but I refused spice. I don’t know why but I had an ironclad rule about it. Many tried every trick in the book to get me to haul it but I ended up being the victor. I spoke a number of alien languages fluently and had the uncanny knack of learning new ones as I traveled the lanes. Why the Republic wanted to hire me, I had no clue except for the fact that I could speak other languages and was a pretty good pilot. My other great talent was a talent for anything involving hardware like droids and computer terminals, another obvious choice for hiring me. Anyway when I signed on, it was more for a profit and a means of getting a fresh start since I was tired of smuggling.

Right away I was transferred aboard the Spire. Little did I know that I was on a ship that was not only full of soldiers but Jedi as well. Actually I did meet a few of the Jedi but they always greeted me with wary looks as if I might do something. I never did see the Jedi in charge, the young Bastila. I thought she didn’t bother with civvie mercs. My first day on the Spire was actually more of a whirlwind in my memory but I was able to make at least one friend on that ship.

Trask Ulgo was not a greenie but he was still young by soldier standards. He only three years put in with the Republic forces yet he may as well had seen a lifetime’s worth. Out of all that he had seen during his hitch, he still maintained , I guess, a healthy idealism of the Republic, believing fully in the principles it stood for. Now a lesser man than I would have done the cruel thing and try to burst the bubble. Me, I had no such notions. It was because of that youthful idealism that I liked him and somewhat accepted the fact that the Republic was a good thing.

The day I met Trask was when I went to the gym two days out of dock. I had yet to meet my bunkmate since all I saw was a footlocker with a serial on it. I had elected to workout practicing hand to hand. I was warming up and focusing using a kata when I accidentally gave a nice elbow to Trask’s back. I was prepared for a fistfight but not prepared for the sudden apology he gave. The first words out of my mouth were, “Rule 4: Don’t apologize. It makes you appear weak.”

Trask replied, “I know. My CO says the same thing.”

“Good thing,” I said. I was posturing, trying to make myself look tough but all I gave off was a don’t care attitude. That usually worked for all intents and purposes and gave me quite a rep as a smuggler.

Trask, on the other hand, didn’t seem to see that. He just gave a lopsided grin and lapsed into silence. He broke it later by asking, “Are you the new civvie that transferred?”

“That’s right. What about it?” I was aware that I was being stupid but when someone tried to pry into my personal business, I got defensive.

“You’re my bunk mate,” Trask said simply. He didn’t give me any sentiments of being glad to be my roommate. He just said it as was and left it at that.

I guess I gave a strange look on my face for he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Recognized you from your holo. You can speak multiple languages. Where we’re going that could come in handy.” He then left to head towards some weights.

I had never met anyone like Trask before. I abandoned my original workout plan and followed him. I think he was expecting it because every time I asked a question, he had an answer waiting. I asked while spotting him and even more surprising I divulged information about myself when we reversed. Never before I had done that yet I felt I could trust him so I showed a willingness to be friends in my own way, “You’ve got gumption to even be in the same room as a criminal like me. Guess you and me could be buddies.” I held out my hand.

Trask grinned and replied, “I’m honored.”

We continued to work out some more until it was time for the evening meal. We walked to the canteen and got our trays and sat down and talked. I entertained Trask about my glory days as a smuggler, all about my close encounters: tricking a bounty hunter who had been after me, nearly being strangled by a Hutt and my personal favorite, my latest tangle with Togorian pirates. Trask listened as I embellished on my notorious career until I was exhausted and he gave me tidbits about the battles he had seen and fought in.

Personally I dislike armed confrontation and prefer not to use it unless necessary. I did respect those that had to fight in terms of war and things like that. I never understood why people fought as soldiers but I respected them because of this. Out of politeness to my new friend, I listened. While doing so, I caught sight of a lone soldier sitting at a table. From the looks of things he looked as if he were wearing solitude like a cape. Noticing that my attention was focused elsewhere, Trask asked me what was up.

“Who’s the loner?” I indicated with a movement of my head in the direction I was looking.

Trask turned to see what I was looking at. Once he saw, he turned around quickly as if he saw something he wasn’t supposed to. He explained, “That’s Captain Carth Onasi. He’s one of the Republic’s best pilots.”

Amused at Trask’s actions, I took another look and said, “Really? Doesn’t look like a top notch pilot.”

Trask cleared his throat and said, “He’s from Telos.”

In word, Trask had summed it all up. Telos had been ravaged by Malak and his fleet. It was one of those things that you only had to say a word and complete understanding came. I remember hearing about Telos on a visit to my homeworld Deralia and all the gasps and disbelief on the people’s face. It wasn’t long before fear and then anger to set in. The mantra to recruit soldiers was ‘Remember Telos!’ Young sentients swarmed the recruitment stations both for the militia and the Republic forces. It was the largest surge of greenies ever recorded. The reason for that was because the Deralian militia had a saying. In Galactic Basic it means ‘Always Faithful.’ Deralians are known for strong sense of loyalty and, when pushed, will do everything to uphold it.

Staring at the captain I wondered briefly who he had lost. My thoughts were interrupted by Trask saying that he needed to go and report for duty. He was working the night watch and I was assigned day watch. I said good-bye and turned to the business eating what the mess cook called food. I thought about the captain even as I watched him get up and leave. Deciding I couldn’t do anything about it since I was a civvie anyway I decided to call it a night. I went to my bunk, stripped to my skivvies and flopped down on my bed. I fell into a deep sleep and the dream began to play in my mind. I remember that I was obsessed with who the woman was. I wanted to know who was the owner of that voice was.

It was a loud explosion that caused me to wake. My eyes flew open and I stared up at the ceiling. More explosions sounded as I sat up and stared around trying to gauge the situation. I stood up and looked around as the first thoughts registered in my mind that I had to get going. I started forward but was stopped by the door opening and Trask running in. The first words out of his mouth were, “We’ve been ambushed by a Sith battle fleet.”

****

“It’s a Dark Jedi! This fight’s too much for us!”

The fight to the bridge was a tough one. I went with my preferred choice and used my melee blade. Trask backed me up with his blaster. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against blasters. They’re pretty handy weapons especially sniping weapons yet I’ve always seen them to be clumsy and random. Blades on the other hand make the fight personal. With that comes the added thrill of dodging and striking. As we watched the Jedi battle the Dark Jedi, I was enthralled with the precision and grace the Jedi’s lightsaber cut through the air. Something about it seemed familiar and almost comfortable with it.

I didn’t have time to ponder these feelings for an explosion brought me to my senses and I heard Trask muttering about the now dead Jedi. My attention was fixated on the two Sith troopers that had appeared from a corner. I don’t recall ever thinking clearly but seeing the dead Jedi on the ground spurred my feet into action. I charged forward with my blade and struck so hard and fast the nearest trooper must have had a look of shock on his face under that helmet. I would have killed the other the moment I felt the muzzle of the blaster on my sleeve but a blaster shot stopped me.

I looked up and say smoke coming out of the barrel of Trask’s blaster. He had it pointing at the other trooper. I glanced to see a burning hole in the helmet. I raised my brow and looked at Trask and said, “Nice shot Trask.”

It took a few seconds for Trask to actually breathe and say something, “Um…no problem.”

“Hey, head shots are hard with a still target,” I said, “If you weren’t on a hitch, I’d take you on my smuggling crew.”

I think that snapped Trask out of his daze for that old grin was back. He replied, “Nah. I’m not the criminal type.”

I couldn’t resist so I let out a laugh. Close calls were a constant in our lines of work. My personally philosophy was to have a few laughs and then you relax. It usually worked in putting a person back on track as it did with Trask. We continued on towards the bulkhead that separated us from the bridge. I was about ready to open the door when Trask held me back, “Wait. The bridge is in close quarters. It’s not a good idea to be firing blasters in there.”

Without a word I removed a short sword that I had picked up from an abandoned footlocker and placed on my belt. I held it out holding the blade in my palm. “Rule 5: Always carry a knife.” I grinned to let him know that I was not haranguing him on that.

“Thanks. I’ll remember that,” Trask replied as he took the short sword. He moved to the side to open the door. I stood ready to attack. As soon as he opened the door, I charged in to meet two Sith troopers that had been guarding the door.

With Trask covering my flank, we took down the troopers just as explosions from the consoles exploded killing Republic and Sith troopers alike. In that moment I stopped, frozen in place. The exploding console was just a console but the explosion rang something off in my head. I had been caught in explosions before I joined the Spire but something about that console made me stop. I snapped to when I heard Trask saying, “Bastila’s not here on the bridge and the crew is dead. We better get to the escape pods on the starboard side. She would have gone there.”

Dumbly I nodded my head and followed Trask. I couldn’t get my mind off that exploding console but I forced myself to focus on the mission at hand and that was to find this Jedi Bastila and help her escape. I pilfered through the dead bodies for items that may help us along the way much to the chagrin of Trask. When I explained that it was best to use what we can for an advantage, he said no more. I think deep down he knew I was right even though it felt like desecration to him.

We made our way to the junction point when I stopped again. This time I could sense something wasn’t right. It was something dark. I voiced it, “I have a bad feeling about this.”

Trask must’ve been on the same track but he didn’t seem to hear me. As soon as we stepped in, he ran to the far door saying, “There’s something behind here.”

He opened the door and all the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. Behind that door was another Dark Jedi yet something about him was different. It wasn’t just the saber staff he was wielding. I could tell that he had something that the other one the Jedi fought didn’t. I’ll admit that I was scared stiff but my instinct was telling me to make for the pods and fast. The Dark Jedi stood there grinning in a malicious way.

Trask was the first to react, “Damn! Another Dark Jedi! I’ll hold em off while you get to the escape pods!” He then took off into the room.

“Trask no!” I screamed running towards the door. I couldn’t open it. Somehow Trask rigged the door to lock. I wasted several second pounding on the door, making my hand sore. Knowing that I wasn’t going to get through, I obeyed Trask’s wishes and made my way towards the starboard pods.

I felt suspended in reality. Trask was the only friend I had made on the Spire and now I lost him. I jogged through the corridors and rounded a bend when my comm activated. I recognized the voice from when Trask and I left our bunks. “This is Carth Onasi on your personal communicator. I’m tracking you through the Endar Spire’s life support systems. Bastila’s escape pod is away, you’re the last surviving crewmember on board. Now I can’t wait for you much longer, you need to make your way to the escape pods but be careful. There’s a Sith patrol down the corridor. You can use stealth to sneak past them.”

The comm deactivated. Hearing that I was the last one on board, a fresh wave of guilt passed over me that I couldn’t stop Trask. I brushed it away and focused. I figured my best chances were to take Captain Onasi’s advice. I felt for the stealth generator button on my belt and activated it. I felt the enveloping field and began to walk slowly and steadily through the corridor.

I managed to avoid one lone trooper but as soon as I opened the door, the troopers began firing random shots. Running on pure adrenaline, I charged while at the same time deactivating the stealth generator. I swung hard and fast at the first trooper, cutting him to ribbons. The second I gave a fatal slash across the chest. Before I could catch my breath and continue on, my comm activated again, “Be careful. There’s a whole squad of Sith troopers behind that door. You need to find some way to thin their numbers. You could reprogram the damaged assault droid, if you have enough repair parts or you could use computer spikes and slice into the terminal and use the Endar Spire’s systems against them.” The comm then shut off.

At first I thought it was just a little weird that the comm keyed in with tidbits of information at precise moments. I made a mental note to ask the captain about that. I surveyed the room and located the damaged droid. I could make it work but that took time because the trick is to not make the droid explode while you are repairing it. I was good under pressure but I wasn’t a repair tech so I went with my best skill. I sliced the terminal.

Easy. I watched on the monitor as the short swept through the room, its electric current killing everything in its path. I didn’t feel glad that I killed them. Rather I felt the weight of death on my shoulders. I knew that one more death wasn’t going to bring Trask back. I knew I needed to survive though and I didn’t want Trask’s sacrifice to be in vain. I waited until the current passed before I opened the door to the next room. I walked in collecting supplies off the corpses when I stumbled across a vibroblade. It was unique specimen and I noted that the patrol leader had been carrying it.

I took a second to note that there had been some modifications to it and there was room for more. I dropped the blade I had been using and picked that one up. I sheathed it on my belt and opened the last door between me and escape. The door opened to reveal the man I had seen looking so downtrodden in the mess hall. He wasn’t looking downtrodden now. He exclaimed, “You’ve made it just in time! There’s only one active escape pod left. Bastila’s escape pod is already away so there’s no reason for us to stick around and get shot by the Sith.”

Even though he was Republic, I couldn’t help but ask, “How do I know I can trust you?”

“I’m a soldier with the Republic like you. There’ll be time for questions later. Come on! We can hide on the planet below.”

He didn’t speak a moment to soon. I looked back at the door I had sealed behind me and saw the tell tale beam of energy that was a lightsaber. Damn! I scrambled to the pod and plugged in the code and jumped in. Captain Onasi was already strapped in.

I jumped in my seat just as he sealed the door. “Hold on. Releasing clamps,” Onasi’s voice rang out.

I struggled to get my harness on but we were shot out of the hatch like a blaster shot. I grabbed the armrests and held on for dear life. I saw a console light up in front of me. It was the trajectory computer for the pod. Onasi was flying blind unless I found us a landing spot. Checking my scans I saw that we were over the city world of Taris. “Checking sensors. Scanning the terrain.” I found a piece of flat even ground. I sent the results to Onasi, “There. Can you handle that?”

“Piece of cake.”

The entry into Taris’ atmosphere was the bumpiest I ever had. I held on the armrests and stared at the console in front of me. Our trajectory was good and it looked like we were going to land in one piece. Suddenly I got a red light. I punched the console to find the source. I shouted over the noise, “We got a red light on the emergency boosters.”

I didn’t hear what Onasi said so I asked for him to repeat it. He shouted back, “One or both?”

I checked. “Port side. Looks like a blockage in the coolant fuel line. It must have been damaged during the battle on the Spire.”

“Not a problem,” Onasi replied, “Just hang on. This is going to be even rougher than usual.”

You can say that again, I thought to myself. I braced myself as best as I could but the force of the ship made my teeth chatter. I was lucky that I didn’t break my teeth or bite through my tongue. I did try to get my harness on but only managed to get the straps on. There wasn’t time to buckle them securely for Onasi made the call that we were past the atmosphere and coming in for a landing.

More red lights were going off. I managed to note that one of those was for the landing gear. I thought I heard Onasi cuss at that but I was focused on the platform coming at us fast. “Brace for impact!” Onasi yelled it loud and clear and I remember thinking that was exactly what I was doing.

We bounced off the platform and then landed hard. After that last jolt, the last thing I remember is the control panel coming straight towards me. Then I saw black.

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Old 09-30-2009, 10:40 AM   #3
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'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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Old 09-30-2009, 05:52 PM   #4
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Just one thing - a season can't have ides; the ides marked, roughly, the middle of the month.



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Old 10-01-2009, 12:48 PM   #5
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LOL. I knew that but the fall I am referring to is not a season but rather a different kind of fall. Besides it was more of a dramatic pupose that I used 'Ides.' Thank you for at least commenting Darth Insidious. As always you have a unique insight.

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Old 10-12-2009, 01:26 PM   #6
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Read.

I'll speak of the grammar issues elsewhere.

The story was done very well. I liked the interaction between Revan and Trask before the battle. That added something to the fight scenes that I appreciated.

The flashbacks were great and not too overt for when they came. The ending and the reason for the 'smack on the head' were also appreciated. Looking forward to more.
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Old 10-14-2009, 08:23 PM   #7
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Thank you for the comments on the flashbacks. I was trying to go for that confused feeling in order to give some idea as to what had happened to my Revan. The time aboard the Spire I took liberties with some things but tried to stick as close as I could to the gameplay. The fight scenes I usually have more detail but I wanted to give the sense of urgency and also leave the reader to imagine a bit even though Revan is telling the story.

Most of my military vocab I do give credit to mach who has been a big help in my past writings. Thanks once again for your comments.

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Old 05-19-2010, 12:16 PM   #8
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Here is another chapter for ye huddled masses.

Chapter 2-Dreams and Bearings

It was foggy like I was walking through a mist. Yet I felt the strange sensation that I wasn’t there. I could see but not feel. I looked straight ahead and a face came into view.

It was a girl’s face with piercing blue eyes and it held a fierce look of determination. It then pulled away to reveal her wielding a yellow bladed lightsaber. She swung with short decisive strokes giving a final blow. She pulled her lightsaber back and held her free hand forward.

The clouds then rushed in. I tried to hold on to see more but it rushed in. The clouds swarmed in clouding my vision. Then I plunged into darkness.


I opened my eyes to see the soft glow of the overhead light. It was on low power as a kindness to me while I was out. I felt a slight pounding in my head as I slowly sat up and winced. Looking down I saw that my shirt and vest were gone and had been replaced by a pristine white bandage. I didn’t realize that I had been injured on the Spire and figured that with all that had happened, it was just the adrenaline that kept me from feeling it.

I sat up slowly and swung my legs over the edge of the bed. My head throbbed but it was dull enough for me to try to stand up. I let out a slight hiss of air as I stood up and looked around. From the looks of things I could tell that it was an apartment of sorts but one badly in need of a maintenance job. I noticed the threadbare carpet and a few dirt stains in the place. Now I’ll admit that I’ve stayed in worse places but the thing about them was that there was some semblance of order. Here that wasn’t the case.

I slowly wandered about the main living space, checking out my surroundings. I noticed the workbench at one end and my looted vibroblade lying on top. I looked near my bed for my clothes and found my black vest but no trace of my shirt. I thought to myself, Great a shopping expedition. I did not look forward to the experience. Looking around some more, I found a door that led to a kitchenette and at the other end I figured was a refresher or closet space.

Finding nothing to do I picked up my vest and checked my pockets automatically. All my credits were in their hiding places and a few other things I had brought were still there. I laid down my vest when I noticed the speeder cruise by. For a moment I thought I was back on Coruscant. A trip to the window clarified that it wasn’t. I had no idea what kind of planet I was on. I quickly whipped around when I heard a familiar voice say, “Good to see you up instead of thrashing about in your sleep. Must’ve been some hell of a nightmare.”

I saw Onasi standing at the door of the refresher. He had just finished his shower from the looks of things as he carried his towel and threw on the back of a chair. On another was hanging the ugliest orange jacket ever. The last time I saw something like that was when I accidentally dyed a Togorian’s fur the same shade of orange. That of course was when the bloody pirates tried to rob me of my cargo. I ignored the jacket as best as I could and since my headache was coming back, I retorted, “You would have too if your head kissed a bulkhead.”

“Probably so. There’s some Aspro on the table.” Onasi then pointed out a small vial.

I grabbed the tube and popped two in my mouth and took it dry. I waited a few minutes until the pain meds kicked in and I could look at Onasi and ignore the orange jacket. Luckily I didn’t have to talk first since he introduced himself, “I’m Carth. I was with you in the escape pod.”

“Right. Jason Gibbs but you can call me Gibbs,” I replied. I looked around and asked in a semi-bored voice, “So what slice of paradise are we in?”

Onasi replied, “We’re in an abandoned apartment on Taris. You were banged up pretty bad when our pod crashed but luckily I wasn’t seriously hurt. I was able to drag you away from the scene and sort of stumbled into this apartment. By the time the Sith arrived on the scene, we were long gone.”

I could have said a hundred things at that yet I said the hundredth and one thing, “I guess I owe you a thanks.”

“You don’t have to thank me. I’ve never left anyone behind on a mission and I’m not going to start now. Besides I’m going to need your help.”

It was abrupt but sincere. I’d been around the soldiers on the Spire long enough to know that if anything during a mission, no one gets left behind. How that worked in an explosive situation I wasn’t sure but I admired and respected the loyalty. Deralians worked the same way. Heck that’s why they signed up in droves after Telos. When Onasi asked for my help, I replied, “There’s always a catch.”

“Maybe you see it that way or you can think it’s a fair trade. Me saving your life for your help. Like a Hutt would.”

I couldn’t help it. In spite of my headache, I gave a chuckle. I replied, “Not bad Onasi. I may not be a soldier like you but I see your point. So what’s the plan?”

“Taris is under Sith control. Its fleet orbits the planet and they’ve imposed a planet wide quarantine but I’ve been in worse spots.”

I’ll bet. Out loud I said, “I could say the same. So what are we going to do?”

“I saw on your service records that you understand a remarkable number of alien languages. That’s pretty rare in a raw recruit but it should come in handy while we search for Bastila.”

I was listening but when I heard the name, it rang a bell in the dense fog of my brain. “Bastila is who?” I shrugged my shoulders.

“That smack did more damage to your head than I thought,” Onasi was astonished that I had no idea who he was talking about. I spent my time smuggling. Like I’m going to care about important people unless they hired me. I think Onasi figured this out to a degree since he did read my service records. So he explained, “Bastila’s a Jedi. She was with the strike team that killed Darth Revan.”

Oh the old good Jedi versus bad Jedi ploy. I shrugged my shoulders again, more to stretch them than to be rude. “So what makes her so special?”

“Bastila’s no ordinary Jedi. She has a rare ability called Battle Meditation. Through the Force she can influence her allies while making her enemies lose their will to fight. Of course there are limits to what she can do but her Battle Meditation has enabled the Republic to fight this war against Malak.”

“I see. So we rescue the Jedi damsel in distress, find a ship, and blast our way through a blockade. So where do we start looking?”

I don’t think Onasi was expecting that but from what he told me, Bastila was important to the Republic war effort. Now don’t call me patriotic but I have had enough experience around criminals to know that when you have an asset that is in your favor, you protect it at all costs. This Jedi was an asset to the Republic and since I signed up as a civvie hire, I was obliged to help Onasi out. Sue me for my Deralian heritage.

He did recover and was able to respond, “While you were out I did some scouting around. There are reports of a couple of escape pods crashing in the Undercity. Probably a good place to start but the Undercity’s a dangerous place. We don’t want to go there unprepared. The Lower City is overrun by swoop bike gangs waging an unending war for control and in the Undercity is even worse. There’s no way for the Republic to get in through the blockade. If we’re going to find Bastila, we have to do it ourselves.”

“Alright,” I agreed. I kind of figured that the moment he first mentioned the blockade. “Let’s get to it.”

“We can use this apartment as a base and probably get some equipment and supplies while we’re here. Just remember we have to keep a low profile. We won’t do Bastila any good if we get caught. I’ve heard some grim stories about Jedi interrogation techniques. They say the Force can do terrible things to a mind. It can wipe away your memories and destroy your very identity.”

“Don’t get all too dark there Onasi,” I replied. I’ve heard tales too but in times like these, it’s better to think positive and not have dark thoughts hang over your heads. “We’ll find this Jedi and get off this rock. Just stay a little optimistic.”

“I’m more of a realist,” Onasi replied.

“So am I but a constant reminder of bad thoughts tend to be counterproductive.” I headed towards the refresher intent on getting a little clean. “By the way, does the survival pack include a spare shirt?”

Before Onasi could reply, a knock sounded on the door. Instinctively I reached for the nearest weapon, which happened to be a blaster, and held it towards the door. I asked, “You expecting company?”

Onasi gave a nod and walked towards the door. I wasn’t being too careful. I found a vantage point to shoot the intruder if I had to. The door opened and a green Twi’lek stepped in. He spoke in Huttese, “I see your friend is finally awake and he’ll appreciate the shirt clean and mended. If you need anything else, you can visit my kiosk down the hall.”

He laid down a package and turned around and left. Onasi picked up the bundle and tossed it on the table. “You needed a new shirt so I asked around. Refresher’s through the door.” He pointed the way.

I laid down the blaster on the table and retrieved the package. It was a shirt and for a moment I felt ready to dash into the fresher and hide but my pride wouldn’t allow it. I gathered up my clothes and went to take a shower of sorts. Once inside I began a cursory inspection of my injuries and found a hairline scar near my hairline and found that my blaster wound had healed. Examination of my face revealed a soul patch on my chin.

Normally I go about clean-shaven but the last few weeks I paid little attention to shaving and it grew out pretty nice. Deciding to keep it, I continued my inspection and went through the motions of a shower. I emerged twenty minutes later feeling like I just won a hundred thousand credits. Onasi was at the workbench working on his blasters when I came out. I asked, “How many more repairs you need?”

“Just upgrading a few things. I worked on your vibroblade while you were out. Pretty nice weapon.” Onasi got up and walked to the far side of the room. “Alright soldier. Let’s get going.”

I kept my amusement to myself as I grabbed my vibroblade and attached it to my belt. I knew that I was going to have to break the shell of reserve somewhat if Onasi was going to work with me. People tell me I’m a pest but I know when to quit. Since Onasi knew so much about me, I wanted to know something about him. “Hey Onasi.”

“Yes. Is something on your mind?”

“Since we’re going to work together, why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself?”

“Me?” I think the question startled him but he was willing. “Well I’ve been a star pilot for years. I’ve seen more than my fair share of battle but I’ve never seen anything like the slaughter these Sith animals unleash. Not even the Mandalorians were that senseless. My homeworld was one of the first to fall to Malak’s fleet. The Sith bombed it into submission and there wasn’t a damn thing our Republic forces could do to stop them.”

I knew that Onasi was from Telos so he felt the loss hard yet something about it made me think there was something more to the story. “You make it sound like it was your fault.”

“It shouldn’t be fault. I followed my orders and did my duty, that doesn’t mean that I failed them. It shouldn’t.”

Onasi was getting worked up and I could see that something was eating at him. I sensed I could ask one more question but that was all. “Them?”

“Sorry. Nothing. You probably mean well with your questions it’s just that I’m not used to talking about my past much. At all really.”

“That’s all really,” I emphasized it with a hand gesture.

“You got it.”

I made a mental note to write about this in my journal. Right now my feet were itching to get to business. I activated the panel and opened the door. I slipped into the hall and Onasi followed my lead. Not far were two Duros being tormented by a Sith and his droids. Not my way to start a day with a fight but I got the feeling that Onasi and I were getting more than we bargained for.

“What’s this? Humans hiding with aliens? They’re Republic fugitives! Attack!”

****

“I don’t think this is a good idea Gibbs.”

“We need the creds.” We scouted around our side of the Upper City and were cooling our heels in the cantina. We had hit several stores in the area but Zelka was the most helpful. Besides the healing and reasonably priced supplies, he let us know about some of our Republic friends. It appeared that more pods landed reasonably well than I thought but the soldiers in them weren’t going to be able to help.

Zelka told us that their injuries were terrible and that most wouldn’t survive. Since Onasi and I couldn’t do much, we thanked Zelka and promised to keep his secret. In addition to that, we learned of a rakghoul serum that could cure the disease the creatures that harbored it gave. It wouldn’t be easy getting a supply from a patrol in the Undercity but I was determined to repay Zelka’s kindness one way or another.

We checked out the elevator to the Lower City. Finding it locked, I suggested that we backtrack to the cantina and chat up any Sith to try and find some way in as well as find some credits. Onasi was against it since there was the risk that whoever we chatted up might wise up on us. Me? Well I was confident that I could make any Sith soldier warm up to me especially the ladies. As soon as we entered the cantina, it turned out to be a little difficult.

My first mistake was bumping into a spoiled brat who threatened to ‘fire’ me after one word from her daddy. I didn’t care much about that since I didn’t work there anyway. I do admit that her comments about my choice in clothes was like an annoying pinprick. The brat had never been in the thick of a battle with space pirates nor tried to come to a deal with a Hutt nor faced off a backstabbing cheat and his pack of Kowakian monkey lizards in a blaster fight. I would have given it to her right then but it was Onasi who said, “Be careful what you say. I get the feeling this spoiled brat could be more trouble than she’s worth.”

So I just gave a polite smile and apologized while offering to get her drink. At that moment the bloody waiter showed up with the tray of drinks. I took the moment to slip away and continue my search. Mostly I saw a bunch of bored nobles drinking and complaining. I figured that we might have some time to wait so I looked at Onasi and said, “Well I’m hungry. How about you?”

“How can you think of food at a time like this?”

“First order of business: survival. Besides I don’t see any potential Sith candidates. We could use the time to take a breather and plan our course of action.” I gave one of my more friendly grins at Onasi.

Onasi considered my words and agreed to it. “You’re right. Lead on Gibbs.”

****

“That was generous of you giving him 200 credits. I just hope that we won’t be needing those credits later on.”

“We can always go a few rounds of Pazaak in the cantina. Besides this Davik Kang is nothing but a two bit loan shark.”

I think my comments surprised Onasi since after all I was a smuggler but I hey. I have my standards. I disapprove of borrowing from loan sharks but a guy like Largo needed a break so I gave it to him. I left Onasi to think about this while I read the numbers to find the right apartment for the party.

Earlier, after winning a couple of duels in the dueling ring, I managed to single out a potential female Sith soldier. I gave Onasi a slight elbow to indicate that I found a mark and made my move to go chat her up. I found out that the girl was indeed a Sith soldier. One that was pissed that she had to be posted here on Taris. Experience taught me that it is best to sympathize while giving your own tirade on your problems. Needless to say, it worked and she opened up like a fountain and poured out her woes. She was on the verge of giving some important details when she stopped herself saying that the senior officers didn’t like it when the junior officers talked about their jobs. “I’ve got a shift at the military base but some of us junior officers are having a party afterwards. Most of us won’t be going back to put away our uniforms. I’d really like to see you again. You want to come?”

It had been a stroke of luck that she mentioned that uniforms were going to be there and a party no less. Better than trying to beat up a gang of soldiers and stealing the uniforms. I asked, “Alright if I bring a friend?” I then indicated to Onasi who was trying to look occupied with his meal.

She stole a glance and smiled at me, “No problem. I know someone who’d keep him company.”

Now we were looking for the apartment number that she had given to me. As we got closer, I could hear the music pulsing so loud, I could feel the floor vibrations. I looked at Onasi who gave me a shrug indicating that we should go in. At the door, I pressed the button that rang the chimes. I doubted anyone could hear the standard ding-dong over what I could only assume was the latest song. I hit the button two more times as well as kicking the door hard with my boot.

Sarna, the girl that invited me, was the one that opened the door. She shouted over the noise, “You made it. I was beginning to think you weren’t going to show. The party is getting under way so come in.” She then latched her arm around mine, dragging me in while Onasi followed behind at a discreet distance until he was accosted by another female soldier who promptly began on the flirting much to his embarrassment and my amusement.

Meanwhile I turned my attention to Sarna who was trying to persuade me to try some Tarisian ale. Frankly I don’t like the stuff but my line of work has led me to be diplomatic and part of it was developing a head for alcohol and other strange cuisine. “You’ve got to try this Tarisian ale. It tastes like heaven. We should’ve conquered this planet years ago.”

I took the proffered cup and made it look like I was taking a sip. A plan began to form in my mind. One that was at one end very low but at the other end necessary. I began to make friends with her, encouraging her to drink more while observing that the others around her were doing the same, getting more tipsy the more they drank. I saw Onasi in a corner trying to fend off the advances of a very drunk girl with little success. At the top of my lungs, I shouted, “Let’s play Pazaak juma rules!”

“Ain’t got juma,” someone said.

“Shut up,” Sarna replied, “We’ve got Tarisian ale. We can use that.” She then smiled sweetly at me, “How do you play?”

Piece of cake as Onasi would say. I noticed that I had the girl’s attention and flashed a smile in her direction but my voice addressed the room, “Well. The rules are…”

It took three rounds of drinking and some skifting on my part to get everyone soused to the point that they passed out. Onasi turned off the music as I gathered my Pazaak deck and pocketed it in my belt. “Well that was easy,’ I said and began to rummage through the packs that had been shoved in a corner. I managed to find one that looked like it would fit Onasi and flung the pack at him. Finding one to fit me, I gathered the pack and slung it over my shoulder and took a look at the room.

Onasi was at the door ready to open it. I nodded and we snuck out. We said nothing until we were out of the complex and making our way back to the abandoned apartment. I considered talking to Onasi some more but it was he who asked me, “Let me ask you something. I’ve been going over the battle aboard the Endar Spire in my head over and over but some things just don’t add up. I’d like to hear about it from your perspective.”

“I really wasn’t in a position to see much unless you count cutting a swath to the escape pods.”

“Just curious. I just find it odd that a new recruit happens to be one of the survivors. Then again you aren’t a greenie to the whole issue of survival given your previous line of work.”

I could detect suspicion in Onasi’s voice. I didn’t blame him really. Most smugglers have a notorious reputation but I wasn’t a fool enough not to notice that this could be an inconvenient annoyance. I replied, “The joys of smuggling. As for being assigned to the Spire. I’m in the dark as much as you.”

“Well your transfer was requested by Bastila’s party. Well the Jedi requested numerous things and practically took over the whole ship.” Onasi was looking straight ahead when he said that and I could see a slight frown as he said that.

“Don’t know anything about that. I figure though that it is best we keep our mind focused on the business at hand,” I replied. Onasi readily agreed saying that finding Bastila was our priority now and thinking about trivial things was distracting. Frankly I was relieved but I couldn’t help but think about the bit of information that I had learned. Until now, I assumed that my transfer was because of a need for an experienced translator and one who traveled the lanes out here. Now finding out that the Jedi requested me was something that was perplexing. It had me wondering why as Onasi and I turned in for the night.

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