Writer's notes: Revision of 31 July 06. Thanks to Lord Valentai, Alan, Jim, Bri, Dark Siders, DC, Ivory Chopsticks, for some good tips on revisions.

Also thanks to Thug, Son Kenshin, Padawan Mage, Phantom Menace, Sir Dik Dik, Revan Reborn, Pops, Rebel, Black Hat, Rian Sage, Auros Sopherai, and Vanilla Latte. If I missed anyone, apologies.

I'm going to try and write a SW fiction. I've done a fair amount of research and played the game. I hope to try out several different writing styles such as military, romance, action, sci fi, etc. So, I hope to broaden my mind and perhaps the minds of others. I don't take a narrow view of what is KOTOR, but I do try to stay within the bounds of the plot and characters. If I try something different, I usually have a reason to do it. One thing I do want to write is how the adventure changes the characters. Every major character will be altered by their experience...sort of like real life. I like to use symbolism and social commentary, so be forewarned.

Anyway, I hope it works for you. Try to keep an open mind. If something seems off, let me know. All I ask is that you back it up. I'll probably change it unless I have a specific reason to write it that way. Someone hated the fact that I use time a lot, but hey, how can you wage a war if you don't keep track of time? Above all, all I ask is that you keep it professional and avoid personal attacks. If you can't, read something else.

SPOILER - As I have read the anti-Mary Sue threads out there, the main character will begin as being a bit too perfect, but as we know, it's a programmed personality, so why not create it as being perfect and obedient. This will definitely change and unravel, but it will take time. You'll see little clues as to her true personality poking through.


The Hopes of the Republic

A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far Far Away...

Four thousand years before the rise of the Galactic Empire, the Republic verges on a collapse. Darth Malak, last surviving apprentice of the Dark Lord Revan, has unleashed an invincible Sith armada upon an unsuspecting galaxy.

Crushing all resistance, Malak's war of conquest has left the Jedi Order scattered and vulnerable as countless Knights fall in battle, and many more swear allegiance to the new Sith Master.

In the skies above the Outer Rim world Taris, a Jedi battle fleet engages the forces of Malak in a desperate effort to halt the Sith's galactic domination...

The Taris System - The Endar Spire – 0800 L (Local Time)

England expects that every man will do his duty –
Horatio, Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar

The graceful form of the Republic Battlecruiser, Endar Spire, slid over the silhouette of the aging metropolitan world of Taris. The long warship was flanked by three smaller escorts to ensure the completion of her vital mission and the delivery of her precious cargo. On this day, the hard-pressed Republic had taken a desperate gamble and the hopes of her people lay with the Spire.

As the Spire glided past the silver sphere of Taris, small attack craft rocketed toward her, deploying their weapon spars: These where the latest Sith fighters. Their covert mission blown, the Spire would now have to fight or perish, but the odds were against her.

Weapon turrets came to life and targeting systems locked onto enemy starfighters as they screamed ahead on their attack runs.

Flashes of light erupted around the battlecruiser and her escorts. A fierce melee had begun, which would determine the fate of the Galaxy. Cannon from the Spire and the three destroyers belched forth in answer, vaporizing incoming Sith craft in puffs of hot gas. On command, one of the escorts veered away from the Spire to act as a picket to break up the incoming formations. Sith squadrons broke upon the picket as deadly fire tore them from space, but the sheer weight of numbers wore down the defenders. Swarms flitted about the lone ship and soon, the picket glowed with fire from numerous torpedo hits and a second destroyer came about to stand between the Spire and her enemies.

The Endar Spire – Bridge - 0810 L – 2210 Z (Galactic Universal Time – Coruscant Standard Time)

"We've lost the Delos. I've ordered the Atlantean to cover our retreat. Crewman, where's Bastila?" asked a tall, dark-haired man dressed in a Republic uniform of gray and black. The setback did little to upset his commanding presence and his brown eyes were set sternly upon the display of the unfolding battle.

The crewman looked over, now distracted from the fight. "She's employing the Battle Meditation, Commander Onasi. We've inflicted heavy losses on the Sith, but we cannot hold against such numbers. Sensors show three hundred fighters and an Interdictor-Class cruiser. Sith losses are at almost fifty fighters, but they keep coming. Multiple squadrons are still inbound," he said, sweat trickling down his cheeks.

Commander Carth Onasi peered grimly over to the tactical display near the command chair and saw the destroyer Atlantean surrounded by a swarm of angry Sith fighters. Torpedoes tore into her hull as she struck out at the hornets that would be her doom. The Commander grit his teeth, causing the lines around his eyes to wrinkle.

Red symbols flashed on the tactical display and an officer shouted, "Commander, three squadrons got past the Atlantean and have vectored toward the Spire. Sith assault transports are among them." The urgency in his voice was barely on the edge of panic.

His face twisted in anger, Commander Onasi pressed the shipwide intercom. "Marines, prepare to repel boarders. Helm, come about and bring our port batteries to bear," he said.

His train of thought was momentarily interrupted by a beeping noise. Onasi tapped the intercom control and nodded several times to a voice. He then turned and firmly grasped a junior officer by the shoulder. "Ensign Ulgo, I need you to head to the crew quarters and get your suitemate, Ensign Dakar. Bastila wants her brought to the Bridge ASAP."

The young Ensign Trask Ulgo pursed his lips in disapproval. "Sir, my place is here with you. What could we possibly need some other ensign for even if she's had advanced combat training? It doesn't make sense, sir."

The tension on Onasi's face became evident although he fought to retain his cool demeanor. "Ensign, I have no idea. Our Jedi friend has ordered it and since the Jedi are in charge, we do their bidding."

With a shove from Carth, the blond ensign nodded and rushed from the Bridge. When Ulgo had departed, the Commander returned his attention to the coming disaster.

At the age of 38, Onasi was a career military officer and had seen many campaigns against both the Mandalorians and the Sith. He was considered a skilled pilot and a superior tactician by his peers and had earned the respect of friend and foe alike. His dedication to duty and loyalty to the Republic was without question, but soon, his beliefs would be sorely tested.

Corridors of the Endar Spire – 0818L

As Trask quickly made his way to the crew quarters, the ship rocked from torpedo hits. He momentarily lost his balance as Marines rushed past him to preplanned positions for the defense of the Spire. Seeing them, the young ensign nervously fingered his blaster pistol, secured in a thigh holster. His breathing came in fearful gulps and the color had drained from his face. He dashed down a gangway to his quarters and opened the door hastily. Entering the dark room, he flicked on the lights. Again, explosions rocked the ship and the illumination dimmed for a moment.

What the heck do the Jedi want with this woman? This makes absolutely no sense. I should be on the bridge with the Commander.

In the bunk across from his own, Trask saw a young woman sit up and rub her eyes.

How anyone could sleep through this is beyond me, he thought somewhat derisively.

"Hey you! Ensign Dakar. Wake up! We need to go," he yelled at the woman impatiently.

The woman rubbed her gray eyes again and focused in on Trask. Her shoulder-length raven hair was matted over her face, giving her a scraggly, unkempt appearance. "Huh? Who are you?" She looked about wildly as the lights flickered again.

"I'm your suite mate, Ensign Ulgo. Get your ass moving! The Spire is under attack."

The woman slid out of bed onto unsteady feet and began to search about as if she were in a daze. She held a sheet over her otherwise bare form. Having been on different shifts, Trask had never met his roommate. He took a brief moment to admire her before he realized that time was running out. With a huff, Trask seized some items lying around and thrust them into the woman's unsure hands.

"You're going to need some clothes and your weapon. Please hurry!"

Trask turned away and Ensign Dakar slid on her garments quickly. She slung a rifle and strapped a pistol to her thigh. With a look of confusion, she asked in a tremulous voice, "Okay, I'm ready. Where are we going?"

"Commander Onasi needs you on the Bridge. I don't know what he wants from you that is so important, as we're both lowly ensigns," he said, pushing her along. "Okay, so you were top of your class and have had the advanced tactical training. Still, it makes no sense. We should just get up there, Jedi Bastila needs you."

As the woman went to the door, her eyes widened. "The Jedi? They want me for something?" Her eyebrows went up, indicating surprise.

Trask opened the door and took a peek outside. "It seems so. Maybe you have some of that Force stuff?"

Sparks flew from the overhead throughout the corridor as a maroon and silver maintenance droid worked on an electrical panel. The futility of its efforts were lost on its processor as Trask and Ensign Dakar ran past.

As they pressed against the far door, Ensign Dakar whispered, "Who's Commander Onasi?"

Trask looked at her with an expression that could only be construed as horror. "What? Did you hit your head or something? He's the Executive Officer of the ship, not to mention a hero of the Mandalorian Wars. He's got more combat experience than the whole crew of the Spire. He- ahhh, nevermind, we don't have time!"

The woman brushed her hair back and scratched her head. Her mind was full of fog, clouding her thinking. She could not remember how she came to be aboard the Spire.

A flash of memory tore through her mind.

The Republic Naval Academy…Pilot training… Yes, I just graduated. My father was worried for me, but so proud. I was the Honor Graduate. My name… my name is Aerin Dakar.

Without waiting for an answer, Trask entered a code into the door and it split open with an angry hiss. The high-pitched whine of blaster fire could be heard in the corridor amid shouted orders and the cries of wounded. Aerin peeked around the doorframe to see a firefight between Republic Marines and Sith Stormtroopers.

Trask grunted, anger and fear forming on his face. "Their assault transports must have landed. We'll need to get past them to get to the Bridge."

Aerin grasped her blaster rifle with both hands and her stance showed she was at least familiar with the weapon.

Trask raised an eyebrow. "It seems you at least know how to handle a weapon." He said, steadying his own weapon. He pointed toward the melee and gave her a look of resignation. "Shall we? For the Republic!"

Aerin led the way into the corridor as a Republic soldier fell backward, struck by multiple blaster hits. Sith troops, armored in silver plates with reflective masks, advanced down the corridor, firing volleys. Amid the firefight, two Republic soldiers ran past Aerin in a panicked retreat. Walking in a low, semi crouch, the young woman saw a target come into view. Her breath quickened and her heart raced: her first combat.

Remember your training, sight alignment and trigger control.

She raised the electronic sights of the rifle to her right eye and pressed the trigger. The Sith trooper let out a yell and crumpled to the deck, smoke coiling off of his chest. Two more troopers followed him.

Aerin's mind froze for a millisecond. I've killed someone…Oh crap! Her stomach tightened in a cold knot at the realization of her actions.

Now alerted to the presence of new defenders, the Sith fired down the corridor and moved for cover. Flashes of particle beams flew down the hall. For Aerin, there would be time to reflect later.

The green young ensign fired another shot and a flash emanated from the muzzle of her rifle. Shouting angrily, Trask also fired as blaster shots filled the corridor. One Sith fell and Aerin called, "Cover! I need a grenade."

Stay calm, girl. Fight like you trained. Fear infected her mind, but she fought to keep it at bay. Though she had survived intense combat training, this was the real deal.

Trask stepped quickly behind the doorframe and pitched a grenade to Aerin. Hands slightly shaking, she activated it and hurled the deadly ball down the corridor. Shrapnel tore through the air with blast and heat.

The cries of wounded Sith filled the corridor.

"Forward, now!" yelled Trask as he rushed into the billowing smoke and flying sparks. Wide-eyed, Aerin rushed after him, blaster held aggressively. The acrid stench of burning electronics choked her as she fired into a stunned Sith. Trask was right beside her throwing another grenade ahead.

Their furious assault took the Sith by surprise and the sudden reversal had thrown the Sith advance into chaos. Amid the smoking wreckage, the two Republic soldiers took cover at the Bridge corridor to regroup.

Taking a breath, Trask readied another grenade. "You seem to know your stuff, Ensign. Commander Onasi must know what he's doing."

"I remember getting lots of training. I guess it's paying off," Aerin said with a tremulous voice.

I can't stop my heart from pounding. I don't want to die here.

With a nod, Trask opened the next door and they were greeted by the sight of a man and a woman locked in mortal combat with lightsabers.

"Stay back," urged Trask, "We'll just get in the way. That woman was with Bastila Shan, the Captain of the Spire. I can't believe the Jedi stole Commander Onasi's ship. Those blasted Jedi. They may be helping us, but that doesn't give them the right to step on us like that. We're suppose to be on the same side."

The two combatants moved with an unearthly grace, raining blows upon each other. The air crackled and hummed with the dance of their lightsabers.

The man, a Dark Jedi, was encased in silver armor except for his shaved head and his weapon was a red beam of light that flickered with deadly energy. The woman facing him in mortal combat was attired in deep orange robes that flowed in sync with her every move.

From behind cover, Aerin tried to take in all of the information. "Bastila Shan? Is she the Jedi you spoke of?"

"Yes, it was her Battle Meditation that allows us to even stand against the Sith's numerical superiority. Her strike team took down Darth Revan a month ago. I thought that would turn the tide, but Revan's apprentice, Malak only picked up where Revan left off."

Aerin shuddered at the mention of those names. "Yes, I've heard of the Sith Lords."

As Aerin spoke, the female Jedi struck down her opponent with a powerful cut. But before the Jedi could take a breath, the corridor exploded around her, tearing her to pieces with shrapnel and fire. Trask rushed out to help, but it was too late. He shook his head sadly. "Gather what you can. You never know what we'll need."

Aerin nodded and filled her backpack with things from the fallen Jedi. As she zipped the backpack closed, her wrist communicator chimed.

"This is Commander Onasi. The ship is lost. Ensigns, you must get to the Bridge immediately."

"Uh, yes Sir. We're almost there," replied Aerin breathlessly. Her head was still in a fog. Why couldn't she remember the Commander?

Then, the sound of blaster fire filled the commlink. "The Bridge is under attack! The-" the urgent voice was cut off.

Aerin gasped at the news. "Trask, we must get up there!"

"I'm on it…. This way."

The two sprinted through several corridors, picking off a few Sith troopers. At the door to the Bridge, Trask halted. The sounds of battle radiated through the door with the clang of steel.

"Ensign, we need to switch to a melee weapon. The Sith would eat us alive in Close Quarters Battle. Also, some of the systems may explode on us and we don't want to blow out the window ports."

Aerin shrugged and slung the blaster rifle behind her back as Trask handed her a sword of high-density steel, made using a Cortosis Weave. The material would allow the sword to resist the slash of a lightsaber. Aerin grasped the handle of the weapon and tested its balance. The blade had a slight vibration to it: not enough to distract the wielder, but enough to inflict greater injury.

Aerin mused for a moment and a memory filled her mind. I was the Academy fencing champion…. I can use this weapon.

On the count of three, Trask opened the door to the Bridge and saw Sith troopers slashing at a handful of Republic soldiers with bladed weapons. Aerin stepped in and clove the helmet of a Sith with a downward blow. The trooper fell, but another turned to face her. His reflective mask showed no emotion as he thrust the point of his sword at her heart.

With a sweep of her hand, Aerin easily parried it downward, throwing the man off balance. A riposte with the point of her weapon drove through the man's gorget into his throat. He gurgled as blood flowed down the front of his silver cuirass, staining it dark red. A sickening feeling engulfed Aerin, but she withdrew the sword and swung at another Sith. With the precision of a surgeon, Aerin clove two more troopers. As they fell, her foot slipped in the blood pooled at her feet. A wave of nausea rushed over her, but Trask brought her back in focus.

"Good job. You're quite handy with that blade," mused Trask with some new respect, "C'mon, let's go. Commander Onasi must have led the survivors to the escape pods. The Spire's coming apart. We don't have but a few minutes."

Aerin stared out of the forward port onto the world of Taris. The silver planet below was one giant city of permacrete and steel from pole to pole. Aerin became dizzy for a second as the planet spun in her view. She then realized that the Spire was the one spinning out of control. Quickly, she grabbed a few grenades from the fallen troopers and together, they rushed to the starboard aft door. She took a glance about the Bridge.

How did I get into this mess? Why can't I remember? A haze of confusion filled her head and she shook it back and forth, hoping her thoughts would clear.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Trask opening the next door. As sparks flew from the ceiling, a powerfully-built man stepped forward, clad all in black. His head was bald save a black goatee and his eyes radiated fierce hatred. He twirled his red lightsaber with the practiced hand of a master.

Aerin's eyes grew large. "Heaven help us…." she whispered in horror. Cold sweat ran down her back, staining her clothes.

Trask grit his teeth. He clenched his fist around the grip of his vibroblade until his knuckles were white. He took one furtive step forward and a final decision came to his mind. "Commander Onasi needs you. Go! I'll hold him."

"What? He'll kill you! Trask?" she stammered, not fully understanding his meaning. She shook her head, not wanting to think about what was to happen…not wanting to be alone.

Trask exhaled deeply, resolving himself to the inevitable. He quickly grasped Aerin and kissed her. "I'll die with your beauty in my memory," he said, trying to be dashing. He shoved her back and rushed at the Dark Jedi with a fatalistic determination. A quick press of his hand sent the door slamming down behind him, cutting Aerin off from his last battle.

Aerin let out a slight whimper. "Trask… Wha… I…."

The buzz of her commlink tore her from her paralysis. "Ensign, this is Commander Onasi. I can't hold them much longer. You need to hurry. Get to the escape pods. Our leader is away."

Torn between helping Trask and fleeing for her life, Aerin tested the door feebly until she heard a terrifying scream beyond.

The scream was cut short.

The green ensign's eyes grew large with fear and sweat beaded at her forehead. With a hiss, a red bar of a pure energy pierced the metal door, humming and sizzling, creating a river of molten metal that trickled to the floor. Aerin fell back with a yelp as the lightsaber slowly cut downward through the barrier. Collecting her thoughts, the young ensign leapt up and rushed to an adjacent door. As it opened, she fled.

Oh God! I'm so screwed. Think… think… stay calm. Oh, I can't breathe.

Aerin's terror was interrupted by the voice on the commlink again. "Ensign, I have you on my monitor. There is a Sith squad up ahead. If you can get to it, there is a combat droid you can reactivate. You must hurry," urged Onasi.

She sprinted down the corridor and opened the next door with a slap of her hand on the control. Two Sith troopers turned abruptly and raised weapons, but Aerin had already targeted one of them. With a double tap, she dropped the right trooper, but the left one got off a shot, hitting her in the leg. Energy splashed over the ceramic armor on her thigh, blackening it with carbon soot. As white hot pain tore through her nerves, Aerin grit her teeth and moved her eye to the second Sith. The rifle sight found her field of view and she pressed the trigger.

As the Sith collapsed, Aerin grabbed the wound on her thigh with both hands. She winced in pain and hobbled over to the fallen enemies, looting their bodies mindlessly as if she were a droid. Fighting the agony, Aerin pulled a medpac from her pocket and slapped it on her leg. The raw injury was immediately soothed and she gathered her wits.

Damn, that hurts… Oh…There! The inactive droid!

Aerin slid a chip into the droid's skull and it came to life with a hum. Its eyes glowed blue and it raised a blaster rifle to its shoulder. It looked at her and waited for her to speak.

"Go through the door and kill any Sith," Aerin commanded, feeling satisfied relief. As the droid walked toward the exit, Aerin fell in behind, limping slightly.

Her eyes were wild and near panic. She was running out of time.

The door shot open to reveal six troopers led by a lieutenant. With lightning quick reactions, the droid gunned down one trooper before the Sith could even react. On instinct, Aerin took cover behind a table and hurled a grenade into the midst of the squad.

She covered her ears.

A blast, then screams and more blaster shots. Aerin poked her head up and fired a couple of shots randomly. The remaining Sith poured fired into the droid as it stomped about. Bolts exploded on its armored hide, but its rampage continued, unabated. It shot another trooper multiple times sending him down in a spray of plasma and blood. By this time, the droid had taken heavy damage and gaping holes could be seen in its metal skin. As it stumbled, the lieutenant leapt at it with a sword. The Sith hammered the droid in the skull and sparks flew from its metal head. As the droid crumpled like a puppet with its string cut, Aerin popped up and shot the lieutenant twice, knocking the officer over a table with a crash. Amid the smoke and shouts, the ensign sent another blast, dropping the last trooper to clear the room.

Breathing heavily, the frightened ensign quickly pocketed a useful few items and rushed through the far door. She ran down the corridor to a corner and saw a Republic commander shoot two Sith with a blaster pistol.

"Hurry! This way!" the man called urgently as the enemy soldiers crashed to the deck. Aerin recognized the voice of Commander Onasi.

She sprinted toward him and he unceremoniously flung her into an escape pod. He leapt in behind her and punched the separation button with a slap of his palm. The hatch sealed and the pod was blasted into space.

Onasi squirmed in behind Aerin with his body up against her back. "Sorry Ensign, these pods are pretty small. Bastila has already escaped."

"Um, no problem, sir. Commander Onasi, I presume?" she said between pants, feeling his muscular arms around her.

"That's correct. Damn these Sith, how did they find us? Our security must have been compromised. I was always concerned about spies and traitors in our ranks," Onasi fumed. He then noticed Aerin's injured leg. "Oh, you're hurt, let me apply a pac." He struggled in the tight space to pull out a medpac and pressed it on to Aerin's thigh. She winced slightly, pushing the back of her head into Carth's face.

Suddenly, the pod began to bounce violently. Aerin gasped.

"Don't worry, Ensign, it's the atmospheric entry," said Onasi calmly, "The inertial dampeners will brace the landing."

As the metropolis of Taris grew bigger by the second, Aerin's eyes grew big with fear as well.