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Before - Legends Heroes of the Old Republic I: Soldiers (Updated with Chapter 1 - 6/20)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Volund Starfire, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Master star 1

    Sep 5, 2012
    Title: Heroes of the Old Republic I: Soldiers
    Author: Volund Starfire (Jason Ellenburg)
    Timeframe: Star Wars: The Old Republic
    Characters: Ander Sonalex, Kaia Gamelon, Karvel, Shai Nileo, Krek Marell, Drim Bolkhar, Master Ger Gnul, Darth Proditor, Colonel Kurgan.
    Genre: OC, action/adventure, military
    Keywords: OC, military, TOR
    Summary: The trials of a soldier in the Republic armed forces as he is targeted by the Sith and preparing for a war that is reaching its peak.
    Disclaimer: Star Wars is owned by George Lucas, Lucasfilm, and Disney. SWTOR is owned by those three and Bioware.


    Heroes of the Old Republic is the backstory for my character in Star Wars: The Old Republic, a Republic Trooper on the Commando path. It is just It has gone from a few lines, to a paragraph, to a short story, then a novella, an all-out novel, and has finally come to rest as an entire trilogy. Soldiers is the first book in the series and introduces the main characters. I am hoping to get them published through Lucasbooks, but I need the series to be good and I need to get my foot in the door.

    For them to be good, I need your feedback. I consider you all unbiased readers and look forward to all of the criticism that you are willing to give. Please leave me feedback, whether positive, negative, or indifferent. Please post it so I know what you liked/did not like about my story. Even if the comment is on a small part, let me know.

    As for the “foot in the door” part, I need some help to get this published. If you know of anyone that can help me, either through writing agent or with the right connections, please PM me to let me know. Thank you and good reading!


    To the great guys and gals of D 2/162 INF and HHC 141 BSB in the 41st BCT of the Oregon Army National Guard, especially to Staff Sergeant Daniel Hicks who taught me everything I know (much to the chagrin of all my other NCOs). To my friends and family who had to endure hours of their lives listening to me bounce ideas off them. To the George Fox University Secret Writers Group, Voices in my Head Anonymous, for stimulating me into writing more and more. Finally, to my dearest friend Cassie Folkers, who provided me the support and enthusiasm I needed to complete this venture (and the physical resemblance of Kaia). It’s their fault, blame them.


    Dramatis Personae
    (in order of appearance)

    The Core Characters
    Kaia Gamelon, female human Jedi who just passed the Trials of Knighthood.
    Ander Sonalex, male human soldier in the Republic military.
    Acolyte Karvel, male human Sith Acolyte trying to make a name for himself.
    Shai Nileo, female Twi’lek medic in the Republic military.
    Krek Marell, male Rodian Republic soldier and sniper with a thing for nurses.
    Drim Bolkhar, male Twi’lek former drill instructor.

    The Non-Core Characters
    Ger Gnul, male Kel Dor Jedi Master, former master of Kaia.
    Darth Proditor, male human Sith Warrior and commander of the Revenant.
    Colonel Kurgan, male human colonel in Replublic Special Operations.
  2. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Master star 1

    Sep 5, 2012

    Warmth surrounded the young woman, but that was all she could feel beyond a dull thrumming of pain from her sternum. She moved her fingers slowly and felt the warm liquid, thicker than water, flow around them. The pain was more of a dull ache, and seemed to tingle lightly in a straight line through her body, just to the right of her navel.

    She wasn’t exactly floating in the liquid, though. She was vaguely aware of a harness that suspended her under her arms. The light pressure of a swim top and briefs went almost unnoticed against her skin. She could also feel the gentle pull of a weighted belt offsetting her buoyancy.

    Her breathing was regular, the air stale and moist, and the sounds of her own breaths echoed within her head. She was unable to open her mouth and a rubber tube between her teeth didn’t allow her to completely close it either. A pressure against her nose prevented her from inhaling the liquid, as well.

    She carefully parted her eyelids to stare at what could have been a star with her sleep dilated pupils. Between the light and the alien feeling of the warm liquid on her eyeball, she slammed them back shut. She tried it again, and was able to withstand the overwhelming brightness. Her vision was clouded by the liquid and the slope of the transparent tube in which she floated. Movement in front of her drew her attention. She squinted through the liquid to see a shape slowly right itself.

    He stood there, a vanguard against the evils of the world. The thought in her head was that he was always there and would always be there. That alone gave her comfort. A smile crept onto her hidden lips.

    The dull image of his hand raised and pressed against the glass. As if the world righted itself in the sweet liquid, it appeared to her in its full detail. His rough fingerprints and palm became as clear as if she were holding it before her. The calluses, the small scar there beside his thumb, and the newer scar that was still healing across the pad of his middle finger; it was all too real for her.

    The figure leaned closer to the transparent wall of the tank. Fuzzy features sharpened themselves into a face. A small scar ran across his left cheek, and he hadn’t shaved for a couple of days. The gentle stubble had built into a respectable shadow, giving him a roguish guise. However, her attention was drawn to his eyes.

    Their piercing brown gazed into her soul. His brow and the set of his jaw made him appear as hard as duracrete, but his eyes were as soft as shimmersilk. She had stared long hours into those eyes, and knew they had gazed likewise into hers. They were filled with concern; an emotion that she knew was misplaced. Even now, she felt her body strengthening between the healing fluid and her own powers doing what they could.

    A dulled sound reached her ears as he spoke. She could not hear it clearly, but the movement of his lips was unmistakable. “I won’t leave you,” she heard his voice in her head a moment before it escaped his lips. She knew it to be the truth, just as she would not leave him when their positions were reversed so long ago.

    Her hand was smaller than his, but she reached it forward and laid it over his palm. The movement caused a stabbing sensation through her that out shadowed the previous gentle throb. She heard the flat tones from to her side, something monotone and without any true feeling. The medical droid was probably admonishing him against touching the glass.

    She heard the hiss of an injection into the fluid around her. A warm surge reached her skin, a numbing sensation that seemed to flow over her from one side to the other. Her eyelids began to flutter. She would be out in mere moments. The last thing she saw as the narcotic robbed her of her consciousness was his piercing brown eyes. The thought made her warm as darkness enveloped her like a comfortable blanket.

    * * *​

    The young girl sat up with a gasp. Her heart was racing and her breathing was faster than it should be for a normal dream. The pajamas she wore were sticking to her body with sweat, though her mind told her it was from the strange liquid she was floating in just moments before.

    It was dark, but the dim glow of the night lights let her see what she needed to. She was in her bed, not some tank. In the bunks beside hers, she could hear the other younglings, her brothers and sisters at the training house. Her gasp hadn’t woken any of them. Or, if it had, they were still pretending to sleep.

    Unlike most of her other dreams, this one was very clear. She still felt the light throbbing in her tummy all the way through to her back. Rubbing it didn’t help it go away, but it seemed to be fading like an old memory. It was very strange how real the dream had been.

    She licked her lips and felt them crack slightly under the moisture of her tongue. It didn’t help that her mouth also felt dry, though the light taste of the sweet liquid was still present. She knew that she needed to drink something, but did not feel that water would wash out the taste. ‘Some hot chocolate would help,’ she determined.

    The problem came from the fact that she was not supposed to leave the youngling dormitory; it was against the rules. The refectory was across the yard and she was sure to get spotted by someone. Nevertheless, she made up her mind. She would have hot chocolate.

    There was little noise as she twisted herself off the bed. She had to slide over the edge on her stomach because her legs were too short to stand up from the bed like the older apprentices in the other dorms. Her toes touched the chilled stone floor quietly as she turned and made her way for the door. She shivered slightly as the cool air hit her dampened night clothes, but it soon passed. The gentle slapping on her bare feet was less than a whisper, but seemed to echo through the room. Thankfully, none of the other children stirred.

    As she pushed the large door open, she wondered if any of the others had dreams like hers. She ran her fingers through her hair to dismiss the question, moving a few stray hairs from in front of her eyes. It didn’t matter, and she had to stay focused if she was going to convince one of the nice cooking droids to give her hot cocoa. She slipped out of the room as quietly as she was able.

    The night was peaceful. Three of the four moons were up in the sky; their blue glow was like that of the dorm night light. It was enough to let her see around the edge of the yard. There were no lights in any of the other buildings beyond the normal night lights. The only noise came from the chirping of the local insects and the high pitch keening of their natural predators. ‘None of them will pay me any attention, though,’ her young mind mused.

    Some of the other children were afraid of the night, but Kaia didn’t know why. The largest predator on the planet was the horned shrew, and they were only as big as her foot. Just touching one with a training saber was enough to make it go to sleep for about an hour. She knew that from experience. In addition, she never saw more than one at a time. One of the caretaker droids said they were ‘tear-i-tore-eel.’ Kaia didn’t know that that word meant, but she was sure that they would fight each other if they got close. They were just that mean.

    Cool damp grass greeted her bare feet as she walked toward the refectory. It was a refreshing feeling. The crinkling blades of grass covered with the nightly dew were more soothing than the cold stone floor of the dorm she had left. Normally, she was out after the sun had dried the grass. This was nicer, though.

    “What are you doing up this late, youngling?” The familiar baritone voice of Master Gnul startled the young girl. He was standing not more than two steps to her right, even though she didn’t know how he had gotten there so fast.

    She froze in place, as if by stopping she could avoid being seen. A great blush seized her fair skin, as she knew she was caught. Tears threatened to spring up at the thought of punishment, but she forced them back down. She was a big girl; four years old was too old to cry. Steeled with that thought, she turned to face the Jedi Master. Her hands went to the customary position of respect, clasp together in front of her, like she was taught.

    Master Gnul was the caretaker of her youngling dorm. His gray robes stood out in stark contrast to his light red skin, even in the dim light of the yard. The black breath mask and goggles further alienated his appearance from hers. The silver glint of his lightsaber hung from his belt. He was very tall, far taller than she was, but less than that of some of the other Masters at the training house.

    Some of the other younglings often said that the Kel Dor Jedi looked funny. She told them that they looked funny, too. That brought up a completely new argument about what normal looking was. In the end, it was decided that since everyone looked funny to at least one other youngling, they were all equally funny looking and thus normal. She felt proud of herself for that bit of arguing, even though the masters said that arguing was bad. However, Master Gnul told her she did a good job of using logic.

    “I… um,” her voice was tiny, barely audible to her own ears. “I had a bad dream, Master.” She lowered her head in shame. “I was going to the refectory to get some hot chocolate and was trying not to get caught.” She started wringing her hands, knowing that she had just lost out on sneaking some of the sweet drink. She would probably be given some water and sent back to bed.

    Master Gnul reached down and lifted the girl into his arms, cradling her seat on a forearm as the other wrapped around her back. In a child-like protest, she refused to wrap her arms around his neck. Well, that and the fact that the points on his breath mask looked really sharp.

    “Tell me of it, little one,” his reply was gentle. Rather than walking back toward the dormitory, he had instead continued the path she was taking to the refectory. Of all the Jedi at the training house, Master Gnul was definitely the nicest.

    With a joy in her heart, she finally consented to wrapping her arms around the Jedi’s neck. His skin felt different from hers. It was not as soft, but also was warmer. His hands were rough, too. His three fingers each ended in a claw that was as sharp as those of a horned shrew. Unlike the small vermin, Master Gnul wouldn’t even think of hurting her.

    “I was floating in water, but it wasn’t water, it was something else because it felt all tingly on my skin and tasted kind of sweet,” she began in an excited fashion. Her voice was lowered because she was right next to his head, even though she didn’t know if he had ears. “And I was under it, but I could still breathe because of a tube in my mouth, and there was a glass wall all around me, and it was really bright, and everything was all white and gray and fuzzy outside the tube.”

    Gnul sat her down at one of the tables that the bigger apprentices used. Her feet dangled above the floor and she swung them back and forth. The top of the table was higher than she was used to, but she was tall enough to see over the top. She was a big girl now, sitting at a big table. The other members of her dorm would be jealous, but she wasn’t going to tell them. ‘Keeping secrets is one of the fun things about being big,’ she thought to herself.

    “It sounds like a medical center,” the Jedi’s voice was soothing. He filled a cup with hot chocolate from the dispenser nozzle on the wall. He poured a little milk in it, which made it steam less in the night air and then finished it off with a dollop of mallow paste. He set the full cup, as opposed to the half cups she was used to getting from the cook droids, in front of her. “A kolto tank,” he finished as he sat on the other side of the table.

    Her eyes were wide as she stared at the treasure. She smiled and flashed her bright blue eyes up at the elder Jedi as she reached for the cup. At the last moment, she stopped, calmed herself as much as she could, and said, “thank you, Master.” She remembered that a Jedi had to do those things.

    Gnul waited patiently for her to take a few sips of the treasured brew. Then, he waited for her to lick the mallow paste off her upper lip. It always happened when she drank hot chocolate. Some of the other younglings giggled at her, but she didn’t care. It was good. “Go on,” he finally said.

    “I felt hurt a little right here,” she pointed to the spot right below her rib cage. The hot chocolate had made the phantom pain totally melt away, though. “It felt like it went all the way through me and out my back. The water felt a little tingly on my skin, too. But, I already told you that. It also made the hurt tingle, but in a good way. And, in the end, a droid did something that sounded kind of ‘wooshing’ and I felt numb and sleepy.”

    The Kel Dor interlaced his fingers in front of him, his elbows on the table. ‘That is a no-no,’ her young mind told her. Elbows did not belong on the table, but Kaia was not going to tell him that. Maybe Masters were able to break the rules like that. Putting their elbows on the table and taking younglings for hot chocolate in the middle of the night. ‘I can’t wait to be a Master so I can do that,’ she smiled to herself.

    “That is how doctors give you medicine when you are in a kolto tank,” he said with his patient and even demeanor.

    “What’s kolto, Master?” Her question got a bit of a chuckle from the Jedi in front of her. She realized after a moment that it was because she forgot to lick the white paste from her upper lip. She smiled with a blush as she licked it off.

    “It is a liquid from a planet called Manaan. When you use it on an injury, it will heal it very quickly. Even the worst injuries can be healed in about a month.”

    Kaia drank some more of the hot chocolate and licked mallow off her lip again. “There was a guy on the other side of the glass. He was tall and wide, like Master Antilles, but he was different because he didn’t have a beard and he had a scar on his face.”

    The lightsaber instructor was wide in the shoulders. Once, she saw him with his shirt off teaching some of the older kids in the heat of the day. His skin was all lumpy and the lumps were moving under his skin. Added to the fact that Master Antilles was also sweaty and a boy, made the whole thing that much ickier in her mind.

    “He was standing in front of the glass and put his hand on it like this.” She pressed her hand flat to the table. “When he did that in the dream, it made me feel calmer, like when we ‘med-tate’ like you showed us.” Maybe he was a Jedi, too. Kaia thought about that as she took another sip. No, Jedi wear robes and he was wearing different clothes.

    “It is med-i-tate, young Kaia, but go on,” Master Gnul urged.

    “He was wearing tan pants and a blue shirt with gray padding on the shoulder,” Kaia thought for a moment, the dream was starting to fade slightly in her mind, seemingly washed away by the hot chocolate just like the strange pain. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to use a focusing technique to bring the image back into her head. “Oh, and he didn’t have any hair, like those guys who sometimes come with boxes or to escort the older kids out of the training house.”

    “Those are soldiers, young one.” Gnul emphasized his comment with a light tilt of his head.

    “Yeah,” Kaia blurted out loudly. That was where she had seen those kinds of clothes before. She looked around guiltily before lowering her voice again. “He was a soldier, Master Gnul! But, he wasn’t wearing his hat and didn’t have a blaster and he also had hair on his face like some of the older kids before master Antilles yells at them to shave.”

    Kaia didn’t know what shaving was. However, the older kids came out without the hair on their faces. She wondered if it was like when a training saber burns off the hair when it touched the skin. That would hurt; maybe shaving wasn’t a good thing. Maybe it was a way to punish boys when they start to grow up?

    Kaia wasn’t sure, but could almost hear a chuckle from the Kel Dor’s breath mask. She took another sip of her hot chocolate, but there was no more mallow paste. That was okay though, it still tasted good.

    “He looked at my eyes and said that he would always be there, but I couldn’t really hear him except in my head, and it made me smile.” She smiled at the thought, but she didn’t know why. He was a soldier, as Master Gnul said. That meant that he wasn’t a Jedi.

    ‘Jedi looked out for one another and soldiers only look out for the Republic.’ At least, that’s what Master Antilles always told the older girls when they came back from the town with the soldier base in it. Most of them were giggly when they came back until Master Antilles talked to them.

    “That sounds less like a dream and more like a vision, little Kaia.” Master Gnul had still not moved his arms from in front of him. It was strange to hear him talk without seeing his lips move, if he even had lips. But, Kaia knew that he was okay. Her mother told her to trust him when she was brought here last year.

    “What’s a vision, Master?” She drank the last of the sweet cocoa in one shot, but was only able to swallow half of it. The rest puffed her cheeks out and threatened to break the seal of her lips. After a moment, she was able to swallow it, as well.

    “When the Force wants you to know something,” Gnul began; he rose and collected her cup. “It will send you a vision.” He put the cup in the washer cubby where the cleaning droids lived. They would take care of it and have it all clean for the morning.

    “But, what’s a vision?” The last of word was almost drowned completely out in a yawn. The chocolate made her feel sleepy which was good because she was tired. Master Gnul picked her up as he had before and began walking her across the yard to the dormitory. Kaia was resting her head against his shoulder now; it was comfortable, especially through the padding of his tabard. The other side of the tabard made a good hand-hold, as well.

    “A vision is a view of something that is going to happen. Sometimes it comes to you as a dream and sometimes when you are meditating.”

    “Is it good or bad, Master?” Her voice was low as she was fighting to stay awake. They entered the dormitory and he laid her back in her bed. She snuggled into the pillow as he pulled the covers up around her shoulders.

    “What do you think?” He ran his clawed fingers through her blonde hair to pull it away from her face. It was comforting, even though it normally made her nervous because of his claws. But, she knew that he wouldn’t hurt her.

    “I think,” she faltered, pushing herself awake with a quick burst of will. It would only last a moment, but that was all she needed. The words came out as she fell back into a peaceful sleep, aided by the gentle warmth of her Master’s hand through her hair.

    “I think he was a hero.”
  3. darksideyesplease

    darksideyesplease Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 12, 2005
    I really like this. I hope you post more soon. I like Master Gnul and I also like little Kaia. Interested to see where this goes.
  4. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Master star 1

    Sep 5, 2012
    Chapter 1

    “A hero is someone who survives doing something that gets others killed.”

    The duty room of a Republic monitoring station was typically a quiet place. It didn’t matter if that station was also attached to a research outpost that housed fifty science types. They were happy to do their scientist things while the soldiers did their soldiery things. Fourth shift, the six standard hours before dawn, usually was the quietest. At least in a normal listening station, that was true. Listening Station 1138, on the planet of Boz Pity, had to be the exception.

    “At least, that’s what Lieutenant Fey’lya always says,” Private Purrik chimed into the debate. It had been going on for the past hour. One of the knuckleheads decided to bring up the role of heroism in the military. To think that a bunch of grunts would wax philosophical.

    Ander had always heard it put another way. ‘A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.’ He wasn’t sure who said that, but it was probably a Jedi. It is rare to hear a trooper saying anything that deep. For that matter, too few non-Jedi actually become heroes. There are a few, but their names are overshadowed by the Jedi who travel with them. Who even remembers Admiral Carth Onasi, hero of the Jedi Civil War? Nobody. But, they remember Bastila Shan and even Revan. Often enough, the non-Jedi are lost in some unread footnote.

    He was sitting in the monitor chair of the small room. His feet were resting on the bank of displays and sensor readouts that mirrored those of the three lower stations. His black boots were polished and his tan combat jumpsuit was free of wrinkles, but that was because it was nearly impossible to scuff the syntheleather or wrinkle the fabric. His black blast vest was unzipped and belt mounted thermal detonator was resting in his hat about a handspan from his boots.

    Ander Sonalex, Private in the Republic Armed Forces, stifled a yawn as he considered whether he would be a hero or not. His current assignment as team leader over the three brand new Privates in the room with him would keep him too busy to do heroics. His assignment to the listening post garrison was enough to keep him out of the war, as it was. Typically, the Sith didn’t send battle groups into Hutt Space. The Hutts didn’t like it much.

    Most of the Listen Station duties were handled by the droid brains built into the monitoring equipment. Even then, with the war on, soldiers were assigned garrison duty to watch over the gear. It wasn’t exactly technical duty, the scientists of the base kept all the numbers crunching; it was to ensure that the numbers were being crunched correctly. Even in this day and age, a pair of organic eyes was better than those of a droid.

    A small red light began flashing beside Ander’s boot. The accompanying tone was low in volume, but high in pitch. It was just enough to get his attention off of the insides of his eyelids. He glanced down at the long-range sensors and stretched his right shoulder as he saw the report of a hyperspace exit.

    “Organa,” he said, nodding his head to indicate one of the debaters with his chin. The young woman, and Alderaani native like himself, looked up with her bright brown eyes. Though that was the only thing they shared in common, besides the willingness to volunteer for the Republic military, it was still enough to give him a near big-brother complex when it came to her. “Check the LR board. I’m showing an exit.”

    She spun herself away from the conversation and kicked the wheeled chair back toward her console. She hit a couple of buttons and read what the sensors were relaying to her. After going through a couple of lines, the blood drained from her face. She keyed in for the station to run a diagnostic, which it did, but the information was still the same.

    “Well,” Ander asked. He suspected it was just their usual supply shipment coming in a few hours early. The loss of one combatant didn’t seem to lessen the volume of the heroism debate, though. Purrik, a Zabrak with a chipped horn from a basic training accident, was firmly under the same impression as their Bothan commander. However, Adraki was opposite, her short black hair and hexagonal tattoos standing in stark contrast to her green skin. The loss of the peacemaker, Organa’s family was political, seemed to increase the volume.

    “Sir,” the young woman’s voice broke lightly with the simple word. “S-sir,” she said again after a moment. “You, um, might want to take a look at the readings.” Her voice was strange, weak and low. It was completely opposite of what Ander was used to when they spoke. It was alien in the confident young woman he had come to know over the past few months since she was assigned here.

    He kicked his boots to the ground, wondering if that was enough justification to make the impromptu committee do some pushups. Keying in a couple of commands, he relayed the detailed information from the long-range sensors to his console. It didn’t look right, so he requested a diagnostic. The droid brain dutifully ran it and told the Private that the information was correct.

    Ander’s eyes widened and his mind cleared of the fog that the late shift seemed to cast. He ran through a quick checklist in his mind. He verified the information, ran a diagnostic, and it still came up the same. After assuring himself that he did everything correctly, his hand slammed down on a red button at the edge of the command station.

    The alert klaxon rang out through the loud speakers in the tiny room. It wasn’t that loud, mostly because the room was where the alarm originated, but the rest of the base would be getting about three times the volume. Purrik and Adraki both turned back to their stations, keying in to see what Organa seemed to have stumbled upon.

    “Raising shields,” Purrik said as he flipped one of the switches on his console. A light hum seemed to come from everywhere at once, the gentle vibrations of energy putting a small part of Ander’s fears to rest. But others were still cropping up.

    “Turbolasers activated,” Adraki said as she targeted the sensor objects and fed the numbers into the defensive systems. The deep bass thrumming of the high energy discharges from the turbolasers were enough to move Ander’s patrol cap on the table.

    The doors to the secure room opened and a Bothan stormed in. The fur on the right side of his face was still flat from just being woken up, but the fire in his eyes promised punishment if this was a mistake. “What the hell is going on here!” he yelled out to Ander.

    “Sir,” the senior-most Private in the room replied, sitting up to the position of attention in his chair. “Five minutes ago, long-range sensors picked up two Terminus-class destroyers exiting hyperspace at the edge of the system. They are coming straight towards the planet.”

    “Sir,” Organa looked to Ander, but then up at the officer. “They are launching drop ships.”

    The Lieutenant frowned and ran a hand through his mane, righting it enough for presentation. He looked down with a sneer, typical for his face, and nodded to the Private. “Send the distress signal then abandon the outpost.”

    Ander nodded once to the Bothan who was already turning to prepare for a ground assault. He put his grenade back on the rear of his belt and donned his headgear. His left hand tapped nervously on the console as he keyed in the distress beacon with his right. After a couple of seconds, the blue light of a signal told him he was broadcasting.

    “This is Listening Post 1138 on Boz Pity to any receiving Republic ships. We have two Imperial destroyers inbound to our position and need immediate evac. We have forty soldiers and fifty scientists. Please respond.”

    He hit another button to loop the transmission through the holonet. Hopefully, someone would be close enough to actually respond. Ander knew what extended sieges were like from talking to veterans and he did not really want to be in one.

    The blue light flashed twice and he activated the holo response. A Mon Cal officer was sitting at a station of some kind. She, at least Ander thought it was a she, wore the rank of Captain. “This is the Trask Ulgo, we are receiving you, Station 1138. We are on our way and will be there in thirty minutes. We have decoded your evac plan and will land transports to collect personnel.”

    “Thank you, sir.” Ander said as he smiled. Thirty minutes wasn’t long, right? The Mon Cal opened her mouth in what the Private thought might be a smile and cut the channel. “What is the ETA of those dropships.”

    Organa ran a quick check through the sensors and looked back. “The first one will be through the shields in five minutes. I’d estimate seven for it to deploy.”

    Ander nodded and keyed in the wipe commands. Within a few seconds, all information contained in the listening post computer was compressed, transmitted to the Republic, and then deleted. After that, the computer wiped itself and physically destroyed its own drives. The only things still up and running were the offensive and defensive control stations.

    Ander stood and walked to the arms locker. He pulled out an assault pack and flipped it over his shoulders, the suspension system finding the proper magnetic points on his vest to hold it in place. The pack was soon joined with a rifle that rested beside it on similar magna-clasp. Finally, a multi-purpose pistol was holstered in the drop-down catch that he always wore. He didn’t normally like pistols, but he also knew that some tasks required less than a rifle.
    Finally, he attached his goggles to the power toggles on his hat. As the goggles cycled to life, the name and rank identifiers of the soldiers appeared on his heads up display. Looking around, he saw that his troops had likewise armed themselves.

    The team leader left the now useless control room and entered the primary corridor. Predictably, most of the scientists were standing around doing nothing constructive. They were more at home to analyze the situation rather than react to it.

    A thump came from somewhere in the distance, followed by blaster fire. It sounded like the shuttle bay. That meant the Sith had landed. The attention of most of the scientists was drawn toward Ander, the sole military figure in the hall. Most went wide-eyed while a couple turned and began making their way toward the shelter when they realized he and the rest of his team were armed.

    One woman stepped out from the door of a lab. Her white coat wasn’t like the ones the others wore. It was hooded and of a more flowing material, it was also worn with a yellow sash belting it at a slim waist. Her black hair was pulled back severely like other scientists with longer hair. She had a cylindrical object in her hand and a determination in her eye that told Ander only one thing. Jedi.

    Knight Dala Surgis was a Jedi physicist and had been at the base for about a year, arriving shortly after Ander did. She wasn’t like most of the scientists and didn’t mind interacting with the soldiers on the base. After three weeks, she actually joined in the Pazaak matches and even taught fourth squad to better refine their alcohol so it wouldn’t make a sentient go blind.

    “Get to the shelter,” she yelled. Her voice sounded louder and more penetrating than normal. The scientists all turned and began moving for the end of the hall. It took Ander a moment to realize that she had used the Force to enhance her words. But, by the time he realized that, he too was moving toward the shelter.

    Ander didn’t understand much about the Force, but Dala and he had talked about it over the occasional cup of caf during fourth shift. Ander heard tales of Jedi being able to move things without touching them, deflecting blaster shot, and even reading people’s minds, but he didn’t really believe much of it until he met Dala. The power she used was called Force Persuasion. It empowered her words and made it difficult to disobey them, and impossible to ignore them.

    Another explosion ripped through the halls, this time sending an overpressure wave that made Ander’s ears pop. The Jedi turned and made eye contact with him again. He knew that she would never agree to go with the rest of the scientists. Jedi were just not wired like that. It took all of his discipline not to join her as she began running toward the combat. As she passed Ander, her hand brushed his shoulder lightly, reassuring him for the last time.

    * * *​

    The interior of the shuttle was dark and silent. The air was stale and seemed to visibly hang before the assembled forces. Even through the mask that the commander of the forces wore, it smelled of droids and fear. Though, the latter was not because of the battle to come.

    The shuttle was rocked by what could only have been turbulence. The two turbolasers would never be able to home in on the small craft. It was moving too fast. The laser batteries would have been a problem, but a wing of Extinction-class bombers had already taken them out. Victory was guaranteed for the Empire, but more was guaranteed for the commander.

    Acolyte Karvel was put in command of this mission. His company includes three lesser acolytes, ten Mark IV War Droids, and fifty shock troops. Though, they were evenly split between the two landing shuttles, they were his. It was not his first command, but it was his first solo operation. Darth Proditor was testing him.

    The nervous energy of the troops around him built a moment before the ready signal flashed over the display in his mask. The troops were veterans of such combat landings and probably read the maneuvers the pilot was making. But it didn’t matter, the thought of becoming Proditor’s apprentice was filling the young Acolyte’s mind.

    The sudden deceleration of the shuttle meant they had arrived at their destination. Karvel and the other Acolyte with him both removed their sabers from their belts as the doors opened. The troops surged forward out the portal and into a storm of blaster fire.

    Karvel always sent the newest troops out first. It was a good way to separate the weak from the strong. He did not abide any weakness in his troops, punishing weakness with death. He smiled as the first trooper, recently assigned to his unit, was cut down by a focused barrage of five different Republic troopers.

    The Acolyte deflected blaster bolts fired seemingly at random. The fear and pain of an enemy trooper, tasting sweet to him, signaled that he had taken his first life. The second shuttle landed and disgorged its troops. With the acolytes and soldiers out of the shuttles, the lumbering war droids made their appearance.

    The four legs screeched on the plasteel floors as the droids walked forward. The high pitched thrum of their weapons cut through the temporary barricades the Republic rabble had erected. Two of the hulks targeted the main door of the base and blasted it apart with their concerted fire.

    With the doors out of the way, the four Acolytes charged forward into the Republic line. Karvel jumped over a barricade and hit the floor amid a group of five troopers. Before they could bring their ineffective weapons to bear, the Acolyte spun, slicing his lightsaber through all five at waist height. The head of the one that was kneeling made a fitting projectile to strike a trooper taking aim from the catwalk.

    Another sensation touched Karvel’s mind as he deflected a shot. He cleaved through the troopers weapon and brought his saber down through the poor woman’s body. The sensation he previously felt manifested itself as a yellow lightsaber ignited in the door. A Jedi was present at the base. This was not planned, but would make the perfect addition to his list of accomplishments.

    One of the other Acolytes seemed to feel the same thing. He leaped over a line of soldiers, slashing his saber through them, before landing in front of the Jedi. Though, his defenses were not prepared for the trio of swings that she performed. The first batted his saber into a different position, the second took his hand off, and the third stabbed through his heart. He died before even falling to the floor.

    Karvel reached out through the dark side, solidifying his will before him and shooting it at the young woman. She had just turned to deflect the blasts of a war droid as the wall of Force slammed into her. The dislocation of her shoulder and whiplash was evident, but that was not the worst of her injuries. Karvel felt her neck snap as she impacted the wall behind her in the hallway.

    The last of the soldiers were soon torn apart by the fire of the nine remaining war droids. Though one of the automata had been taken down by a lucky shot to its head and another was down an arm. With the Jedi out of the way, though, it wouldn’t take much to finish securing the base. The commander motioned for his troops to begin flooding through the main corridor and securing his prize.

    * * *​

    Shai Nileo was rocked by another explosion that felt like it was right behind her. She never expected to be in a fight when she was assigned to a medical research facility. Fighting was for soldiers, not scientists. Her legs were moving as quickly as she could make them, hoping that she could reach the shelter before she was shot, or worse.

    She had been in one of the isolation labs when the alarm sounded and was forced to endure a cycle of decontamination before she was able to exit. That took precious time that she knew might leave her behind. That’s why she was running now with all of her adrenaline-fueled might.

    She turned the corner down the main hall and saw a figure fly through the air and slam into the wall with a jarring crack. It was Dala, the Jedi that was assigned about a year after she first arrived. Shai ran up to her crumpled form to try and help, but it was too late. The Jedi’s neck was bent at an odd angle and there was no pulse. The twi’lek carefully closed the woman’s eyes.

    She flinched as a hand grabbed her shoulder and pulled her to her feet. She glanced over, ready to see the black armor of a Sith Shocktroop, but instead catching the brown eyes of one of the Republic security team.

    “There’s nothing you can do for her,” he said lightly, something in his voice tight and low. She smiled lightly as he pushed her into a run toward the back of the base. “Let’s go.”

    She didn’t have time to think as they ran, only move one foot quickly in front of the other. The soldier was one of the younger ones, closer to her age. She thought he was a private, or whatever they called the new ones. She didn’t really pay attention in the adaptation course she went through at Republic Medical Command on Manaan.

    They ran past a barricade that blocked most of the hall. It had four soldiers leaning against it, staring down their rifles at the end of the hall. Shai wondered if they would be following the running pair, but she didn’t have time to glance back as blaster fire seemed to explode around her. The soldier gave her a slight push, turned, and fired three shots down the hall before continuing behind her.

    They ran past another group of soldiers in the door to the dining hall. There was another flash and she felt heat against her arm, but the soldier next to her growled. She glanced back and saw the side of his blast vest steaming and cracked with a glancing shot. She was about to say something when he put his arm around her waist and sped up their run.

    For the remaining fifteen meters of their run, she barely kept her feet under her. She was trying not to stumble, but the soldier kept pulling her with him, using his strength to keep her on her feet. They went through the small door and into a room full of bodies. He released her and she grabbed the first body she could to stop herself and regain her balance. Thankfully, it was Kreeta, the Wookiee biologist.

    The soldier spun and slammed a fist into the console that controlled the door. It slid shut and he pressed another button, the thunking sound of the restraint bars slamming into place brought the room to silence. As if to punctuate the sound, the soldier lifted his rifle and fired three shots into the control panel. The smoking remains of the only way back to the base were fused with acrid smoke.

    One of the lead cybernetic-surgeons, a rotund Mon Cal, pulled the soldier around with one of his chubby hands, “what are we supposed to do now, trooper? The Sith will simply cut through the door and take us out, one by one. Or they might just blow the door up and kill us all in the explosion.”

    “I know, but we won’t be here when they crack the door open,” the soldier spat back, pushing the doctor out of the way. He seemed to puff up a little at the rude attitude and handling, but Shai knew it wouldn’t be more than that. The soldier moved to the back wall and began running his hand over various tiles for some reason.

    Shai took a quick head count as she was finally able to control her breathing. Her lekku twitched when she realized that they were missing seven of the scientists from the group. She felt a quick tinge in her gut that they were also missing the Jedi and all but four of the security troops from the base.

    She pushed her way through the other scientists to see if she could help the soldier with what he was doing, when he found what he was looking for. He pressed his palm against one of the tiles, then hammered his fist against it a moment later. Beside it, a small section of the tiles retracted into the wall. A slightly stale draft blew out of it like the air outside the base. A secret passage?

    The tall man stepped through the door and the other soldiers began pushing the scientists through, Shai first. She pressed herself nearly against the soldier as he activated the lamp on the end of his rifle. They moved cautiously, but fast down the tunnel. It looked old, but not old enough for it to have fallen into disrepair.

    “How long will it take for us to get out,” she asked quietly as they walked. The light from the rifle cutting through the darkness ahead of them, though it made smaller shadows creep through the tunnel like vermin scurrying ahead of them.

    “Not long,” he answered lightly. She could hear the stress in his voice, but knew he was trying to hide it. “Why, do you have a date?”

    “I might,” she replied, squeezing his shoulder. “My name is Shai.”

    “Ander,” he replied. “And when we get out of this, I might just ask you on one.”

    The door behind them slammed shut just before something exploded into the room they had just vacated.

    * * *​

    Another blaster bolt raced toward the dark cloaked figure in the hallway. It was fired with the intent to stop the assault he was leading. A slight shift of the thick cylinder in his hand was all that was necessary to catch the energy on the crimson blade and return it to its source. The soldier that fired it did not even realize her misfortune until the blast cut deeply through her vest. She fell to the floor, dead before her body came to a rest.

    Acolyte Karvel continued with his troops deeper into the base. The Republic fools believed they could hold off his entire company. It was laughably pathetic. Were they to simply surrender they would be shown the mercy of a quick death after interrogation. Then again, that was never as enjoyable.

    A blaster bolt tore through the Acolyte’s robe. He chided himself for the distracting thought; it was pride and a weakness. Reaching out, he collected dark tendrils of energy around his hand and located the offending trooper. Lifting him off the ground by the throat, Karvel jerked his hand and was satisfied with the wet popping of the man’s neck. His limp body became a missile that knocked two nearby troops off their feet.

    He stepped past the former blockade. The husk of the dead soldier was pinning another to the floor. His screams and pleas made Karvel smile behind his mask. Unable to resist the temptation of a slow death, the acolyte carefully moved his lightsaber across the man’s throat. It would not kill him for a few minutes, but he would be in the grip of sweet horror until the end. The feeling of the man’s fear empowered the Sith as he continued forward.

    The second trooper was badly injured. The force of the impact drove his head into the floor. With enough medical assistance, he might just recover. A lightsaber stab through the man’s heart prevented that. He was lucky enough to not be aware of his demise.

    The soldiers protected a rather heavy-looking door at the end of one hall. Karvel had seen its kind before in other Republic facilities. It was made with a reinforced cortosis weave; impenetrable to lightsabers and impervious to blasters. However, opening it would be fairly easy for a Sith.

    Looking over his shoulder, Karvel motioned for the other acolyte to join him. He neither remembered nor cared what her name was. She was young; this was her first mission. However, her bloodline was the thick and powerful blend of the True Sith. It would be more than enough for this simple task.

    Karvel braced himself with a hand pointed toward the door. Beside him, the other acolyte did the same. He could feel the unfocused energy slowly build around both their outstretched hands. With a small burst of will, the Dark Side coalesced into a physical presence in front of the two. Another surge of will sent it forward.

    The telekinetic blast crushed into the door. It groaned on its hinges for the barest moment before exploding inward. The slab of what used to be the door slammed against the far wall with a near explosion. Some poor being, probably another guard, was in their path. Its demise was so sudden that Karvel could not even taste it in the Dark Side.

    He knew that a group of scientists had barricaded themselves in this room. However, when he entered and looked around, it was empty. The only person that was in the room was the one now running down the wall in rivulets behind the massive doors. The Republic scientists must have had another way out.

    “Find their little passage and bring them to me,” he ordered the other acolyte in a hissing whisper. She nodded and began tossing shelves from the walls with the Force. She was methodical and brutally efficient. Perhaps, she was not a waste of talent after all.

    Karvel turned and stalked back toward the main hangar of the base. The halls were full of the bodies of Republic security personnel. The occasional black armor of the Imperial shock troopers were mingled here and there. It was not a very long distance, but the Republic had put up a good defense. It had taken the Sith nearly half an hour to clear out the base.

    At the doors leading into the hangar, he paused to examine a body. The woman looked peacefully asleep except for the twist to her neck. It was the Jedi that he threw down the hall. What caught Karvel’s attention though, was the cylinder in her limp hand. Using the Force, he lifted the object to his grasp.

    Turning it a couple of times, he noted that it was delicate. The lines formed intricate patterns of gold over silver. The crystal housing was opened slightly and the bright blue Ilum stone shown within. It was not a warrior’s weapon, but that of an artisan or scientist. It was a worthless trinket from a waste of Force potential. He allowed the Jedi’s lightsaber to fall back to the ground near the body.

    The sight of two troopers with prisoners caught the acolyte’s attention. He strode across the hangar floor to them. The troops had their catch kneeling before them, one scientist and one soldier, hands firmly clasp on top of their heads. The scientist was a young woman; her face was bruised in the shape of a rifle butt, a small trickle of blood came from a puffy lip. The soldier held a look of contempt and defiance in his eyes, a blast wound on his thigh pained him so much that Karvel could actually feel it.

    “Corporal,” Karvel spat out. “Explain this.”

    The shorter of the troops, a light gray insignia of rank on his shoulder armor, looked directly at the Sith Acolyte. His voice was not trembling, nor was he prideful. He knew that both would earn him sudden death, or worse. “My lord, we captured these two alive.”

    “And,” Karvel let each word slip out as if speaking to a child. “What were your orders?”

    “My lord,” the trooper’s voice sounded hesitant. After a moment, he continued. “Our orders were to round up any scientists for interrogation and kill all Republic soldiers.”

    “As this soldier appears alive, I can only surmise that you did not understand your orders or that you took initiative.” He let the statement hang in the air for a moment. “Which is it corporal?”

    “Initiative, my lord.”

    “Good.” Karvel turned his attention to the lower ranking shock troop. “Learn from this, conscript. Initiative is a good quality in troopers and will earn you rank and glory.”

    The acolyte’s lightsaber shot to life, slicing upward through the neck of the Republic soldier in one stroke. It had the added effect of bisecting the corporal at the chest. Both slumped over dead as the scientist shrieked in fear, the soldiers head staring up from in front of her knees.

    “However,” Karvel sounded just as he did before, though the hum of his lightsaber made the young troop more attentive. “Do not let your initiative interfere with your orders. Do you understand?”

    The young man nodded and almost purred out the words, “Yes, my lord.”

    “You learn quickly.” Karven disengaged the saber and returned it to his belt. He reached down and took the shoulder plate with the corporal’s rank off the body before him. “That trait is even more prized, conscript.”

    Karvel looked at the scientist, tasting her fear at the sight of one whom she was apparently close to. That would make her interrogation even more enjoyable. “Take her to the shuttle; be sure she makes it to a holding cell on the Revnant.” He tossed the conscript the shoulder plate. “You have a bright future, corporal. Don’t disappoint me.”

    “Sir!” The young man nearly shouted in his glee as he snapped to attention. He grabbed the woman’s hands and lifted, a fistful of hair caught in his grip. She whimpered in protest and pain as she was led away toward the lander. Her fear was sweet to the acolyte.

    Karvel’s wrist unit beeped. His heads up display showed him it was a sentry droid on far perimeter patrol. He hit a button on his gauntlet and was shown the recorded video of a Republic shuttle landing as well as all the pertinent information that the droid’s sensors had picked up. It was definitely a rescue party, and was probably heading for the exit the scientists had used.

    The acolyte keyed into his command frequency. “All units, there is a shuttle incoming at zone 12 to the east. Engage and destroy. Capture the scientists.” His platoon leaders acknowledged the orders. After another moment, his second in command, the young acolyte, also gave her acknowledgement.

    Karvel took his lightsaber off of his belt and began stalking in the direction that his troops and droids were now running. If his shock troopers were competent, the battle would be over before he got there. If not, he could find ways to motivate them.