Disclaimer: I own none of this and I'm just playing with Bioware & Lucas Arts' lovely toys. Please don't sue me.
From the Ashes by Prisoner 24601
Chapter 1: Panicked Fight
The Endar Spire: Now
Minuet Avery decided that if she was going to die, it wouldn't be in her underwear.
The ship she was presently on, the Endar Spire, was under attack by the Sith fleet. As a series of impressive explosions rocked the ship, Minuet pitched forward face first slamming her jaw into a nearby table. Groaning, she rubbed her jaw and dropped to the floor, momentarily stunned by the shooting pain.
She struggled to recover, crawling over to her storage locker and rummaging through the contents. Grabbing the first jumpsuit that came to hand, Min dressed quickly, grabbed her blaster and slung her satchel over her head onto her shoulder. The cabin lights flickered as the door slid open and black smoke came pouring through. She raised her blaster pistol, ready to fire on anyone who came through the door.
What the hell was I thinking? I'm going to die….
Docking Bay G-24: 72 Hours Earlier
Could this possibly take any longer?
Bored and irritated, Minuet Avery crossed her arms and leaned against the back wall of docking bay G-24 while watching a contingent of newly graduated Republic troops snap to attention. With their chests puffed out with pride and brass shining, they looked like they had just been picked off of the nearest boffa tree.
Poor bastards. They look so…young.
A senior officer marched through the ranks and conducted an inspection of the troops. He was fat, balding and swollen by his own self importance. He wheezed as he guided his massive girth through the ranks, as if that amount of walking were too much for his grossly obese body. Never having much intrinsic respect for authority, Min had nicknamed him Captain Pretentious. The more he spoke, the more apparent it became that the only battles this man had ever waged were at the dining room table. Min was just grateful that he was an instructor at the Republic Flight Academy and not the current commanding officer.
I bet he's the nephew of somebody important.
Occasionally Captain Pretentious would stop and harass some poor grunt who did not meet his standards by questioning his parentage, species or lack of bravery. Min found the inspection to be amusing, but it quickly turned to tedium when the inspection stopped and the obligatory patriotic speech to the green Republic cadets began.
"You have answered the call of the Republic in its hour of need." Captain Pretentious droned on with the appropriate solemnity required. "You young men and women are the finest of your class and we expect the best out of you. You are to serve on one of finest ships in the galaxy under one of the best men I have ever known. I know you will make me proud."
The dogmatic patriotic drivel made Min angry.
Why don't you mention the Republic attrition rate? Why don't you tell them that over half of them are most likely dead within the first year? Why don't you tell them that the Sith were kicking our collective asses across the galaxy? Some of them don't even look old enough to shave.
As Captain Pretentious continued his introductions of the actual commanding officer, Min looked over at her companions in the back of the hangar. Dressed in plain clothes, they could be mistaken as common citizens, but the lightsabers on their belts indicated otherwise.
In the middle of the Jedi contingent stood a young statuesque women in her early twenties. Min covertly studied the woman to whom she was supposed to report. Tall and curvy with creamy white skin, Bastila Shan's aristocratic features could have made her a model. Her long brown tresses were pulled into an elegant knot, a style Min approved of. Unfortunately, her good looks were spoiled by the uptight and somewhat sour expression which seemed permanently fixed on her face.
Captain Pretentious was winding up his speech and gesturing to another soldier standing with him on a platform at the front of the hanger bay; one who thankfully didn't look like such an idiot. The soldier was wearing a Captain's uniform and was standing the way that only career military personnel could manage without looking weird; legs apart, shoulders straight and hands clasped behind his back. He exuded an aura of competence and authority.
"It is my pleasure and privilege to introduce you to one of the greatest heroes of the Republic." Captain Pretentious said with great flourish. "Captain Carth Onasi."
As the room exploded with applause, Min shook her head.
I can't believe I agreed to this.
Captain Carth Onasi stood on the platform at the front of the hangar bay and tried to look as if he were paying attention. He had heard this speech given by Commander Jasil countless times and it still came off as horribly pretentious.
Men like Jasil, who were in the military only to further their own political ambitions, irritated the hell out of him. Jasil himself had never seen a day of battle because his father, a galactic senator, felt that his son was too important to be risked. That the Republic allowed this man to train troops was, in Carth's opinion, the height of stupidity. Unfortunately, it was the kind of stupidity that plagued the Republic fleet.
"You are to serve on one of finest ships in the galaxy under one of the best men I have ever known." Jasil stated. Carth fought to keep his eyes from rolling. Jasil acted like they were best friends and Carth was decidedly Not Amused.
He's trying to cash in on my 'hero' reputation; like he didn't try to get me court-martialed when we were in flight school.
Carth scanned the room and took in the young recruits. His eyes landed on the group of Jedi in the back of the hangar bay and he wondered, not for the first time, why they had insisted on making this stop on Courscant. He was pretty damn certain it had nothing to do with the recruits standing in front of him.
After years of serving in the Republic, Carth had earned his own command as the captain of the Intrepid, an invincible class dreadnought. But a month ago he had been relieved of his command. He remembered his meeting with Admiral Dodonna, Commander-in-Chief of the Unified Republic Forces.
"I'm reassigning you. You will no longer be in the command of the Intrepid. You will now be the advisor to the Jedi Bastila Shan who will be taking command of the Seventh Division Fleet."
Carth had been livid. He invoked the privilege of a twenty year friendship and spoke out of turn to his commanding officer. "You're taking me off my command and giving an entire fleet to a Jedi? Are you insane? Don't you remember what happened the last time we gave the Jedi a fleet?"
"Of course I do!" Admiral Dodonna snapped. "We don't have much of a choice. You've seen the intel, the Sith ships outnumber us three to one." She paused, turning towards the cabin window and stared into the starry emptiness of space. "They're wearing us down Carth. We keep losing ships while their fleet only grows. We're lucky that Malak is so tactically clumsy. If Revan were still alive, the Sith would be taking the core worlds right now. As things stand, it's only a matter of time. The few recent battles we have been able to win are because of Bastila's battle meditation. If I had any other choice, I'd take it. Unfortunately, I don't. That's why I need you to be her advisor."
"Why me? Why not someone else?" he demanded.
She turned back to him then, pinning him with her steely grey eyes. "Because you're a good tactician with the ability to lead a fleet. Because you're one of the most decorated war heroes in the Republic and your presence will lend Bastila some credibility." Her eyes had softened then, filled with an unbearable pity. She spoke softly "Because if Bastila turns to the dark side, I know you, of all people, would do what's necessary."
Advising Bastila had turned out to be a nightmare. The kid may have impressive force powers but she was a terrible tactician, and had absolutely no idea of how to lead a fleet. Those were flaws he could have worked around if it weren't for the fact that the Jedi was proud, aloof and had a habit of disregarding his advice. He had argued vehemently against stopping at Courscant, pointing out that they were advertising their position to the entire Sith fleet. While they were presently in no danger, Carth knew that their ships could now be tracked once they left the Republic safety zone. They were just begging to be attacked.
Bastila had dismissed his concerns stating that "it was of the utmost importance that they get to Courscant right away." What really burned was that she refused to tell him any more about it, informing him that he would have to put his trust in the Jedi Council. Carth informed her back that that was "no way in hell he was going to trust those sneaky Jedi bastards." The conversation had gone downhill from there.
As a man who had become accustomed to giving orders, not taking them from an inexperienced Jedi Princess who was almost young enough to be his kid, his patience was at an end. The icing on this particular cake of pain was that she had insisted that he be the one to greet the new cadets; which was why he was now standing listening to this imbecile sing his praises.
His eyes rested a lone woman leaning against the back wall with a look of undisguised irritation and boredom on her face. Who the hell is that?
Standing apart from both the Jedi and the cadets, it was apparent that she was neither a soldier nor a Jedi. Frowning, he studied her. Is she the reason that we're here? He made a mental note to confront Bastila about her as soon as possible.
His scrutiny was interrupted by Jasil's introduction. Military etiquette demanded that Carth give a rousing speech himself, which would congratulate Jasil on his success with these recruits. Jasil clearly expected him to do so, but Carth refused to humor him even though he knew he was going to would get an earful later from his commanding officers.
Screw etiquette. I'm too old for this crap. He stepped foreword and stated simply, to the relief of all in the hanger bay, "Welcome to the Endar Spire. Let's move out."
The Endar Spire: Now
Minuet raised her blaster towards the smoke coming out of the door and prepared to fire when a bedraggled Republic officer came stumbling through.
"Hey, are you Minuet Avery?" he asked in between coughs.
"I've been sent to find you. We've been ambushed by a Sith battle fleet! Hurry up we don't have much time. We have to you to the escape pods now!"
"Me? What about the Jedi, aren't they more important?"
"Those are my orders." The soldier stepped back into the smoke filled corridor. "Follow me."
Following him sounded easier than it actually was. The hall was filled with acrid black smoke and the ship was shaking from being bombarded by enemy fire. Min could barely see the soldier ahead of her but she could hear blaster fire up ahead. Her eyes and lungs burned as she fumbled her way through the corridor. Suddenly, she broke out of the smoke and right into the middle of a blaster fight.
Momentarily blinded by the bright florescent lighting, Min ducked and rolled for cover. Oh shit!
Her eyes and lungs were still burning from the smoke but she knew that if she didn't take action she would die. Min pointed her blaster in what she hoped was the right direction and fired. She got lucky and hit one of the Sith soldiers right in the head. Her companion made short work of the other one.
Min picked herself up off the ground as the soldier shouted, "Keep moving!" Stepping over the bodies strewn over the floor, she wondered if any of them were the new cadets that had just joined the crew.
They fought their way through the blaster scarred corridors eventually reaching the abandoned bridge. She looked out the front viewport and was overwhelmed by sickening vertigo. The Endar Spire was spiraling nose first into the planet below.
The soldier shoved her towards another door. "This way to the starboard section." The explosions on the ship nearly drowned out his voice. Min tore her eyes from the windows and followed him into another corridor. She wondered how he could tell where he was going.
"Come on, hurry!" He grabbed her by the elbow and urged her to run. They were halfway down the corridor when Min felt cold foulness envelop her. She stopped dead in her tracks looking at the door at the end of the hallway.
"What are you doing?" Trask shouted. "We have to keep moving!"
She grabbed his shoulder and shook her head, "We don't want to go that way."
"What? Why not?"
Before she could answer, the doors at the end of the hallway slid open. Out stepped a tall bald man dressed in black leather with a red lightsabre in his hand and a menacing sneer on his face.
Everything began to happen very quickly. The soldier looked at the Sith at the end of the hallway and with one fluid movement pushed Min through an open doorway on the left. She slammed into the wall hard enough to rattle her teeth.
"I'll hold him off as long as I can. Go!" He tossed her his comm link and sealed the doors behind him.
"What? No!" Min pounded on the door with her fist. She frantically tried to open it but the soldier had jammed it from the other side. For a few seconds, Min could hear nothing but her own racing heart and her fist hitting metal. Then a horrible hissing sound filled the silence. Min backed away as sparks began to fly. She could see the red tip of the lightsaber slicing through the door.
She choked down her panic as pure survival instinct took over.
Move! Move or die!
Minuet began to run.
Carth didn't know how much longer he could hold out. Pinned in the escape pod bay by five Sith troopers, he shouted into his comm link, "Trask, where are you? I don't know how much longer I can hold this position!"
"Trask's dead," came the terse reply over the comm link.
"Who's this?" Carth asked in between blaster shots. "Never mind. You need to get to get here right now!"
"I'm working on it! But I don't know where I am!"
"Hold on, I'm tracking your position now." In between shots, Carth gave the voice directions on how to get to the escape pod bay and barked out a warning about the Sith that were in between them.
"Don't worry," the voice said. "I have a plan."
Min could see that there were five of them in between her and the escape pod bay. Luckily they were preoccupied with blaster fire from the other direction. Min crouched behind a computer console and began bypassing the security systems which allowed her to access the security cameras. Long fingers flew over the console as sweat dripped down her face. Her plan was to overload the power conduit in the middle of the hallway, but she could feel the cold oily presence of the Dark Jedi approaching and knew she did not have much time.
Damn it, this is taking too long!
Min abandoned the console and began digging through her satchel, wondering why everything useful always seemed to gravitate to the bottom. Triumphantly, she pulled out a plasma grenade.
Yes! Less elegant perhaps, but just as effective.
She picked up the communicator and hoped the person on the other end was listening. "I'm throwing a grenade. Take cover!" Min pitched the grenade into the middle of the Sith troopers. Four seconds of painful silence was followed by a very satisfying explosion which ripped through the hallway. In the flickering lights, Min could see that the grenade had dropped all five troopers. She was relieved to see a man poke his head cautiously through the doorway.
Her relief was cut short by the swooshing sound of the door behind her opening. Hoping that she would not get shot by friendly fire, she sprinted towards the pod bay.
When she reached Carth, she grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the escape pods. "Quick, he's almost here!"
Carth looked over his shoulder and saw the Sith Apprentice approaching.
Min shoved him into the escape pod, practically falling on top of him. She hit the eject button before he could even strap himself in.
Carth felt the rough jerk of the pod launching as he fumbled for the safety harness. He managed to get his on before he looked over at his companion. She was still struggling with her harness as the pod hit the planet's atmosphere and began to bounce and spin.
He braced himself for the impact he knew was coming. As the world went black, he couldn't help but think that this was a lousy way to die.