Slayers of the Old Republic
Book I: Arrival/Endar Spire
By Michael Weyer
The alarms raged throughout the entire ship as Buffy raced down the hallways. She had her lightsaber out, reaching out with her senses to the nearest conflict.
She didn’t have to reach very far.
As she rounded a corner, she saw a trio of Republic soldiers in combat with several Sith assailants. The Sith all looked alike in their silver armor, helmets covering their heads completely, giving them the look of more machine than men. They were cold and professional as they opened fire on the Republic soldiers, whose red-orange armor and open-faced helmets were far less formidable.
Buffy watched as two of the soldiers were cut down and instantly instinct took over. She thumbed the switch and her lightsaber ignited. The sound caught one soldier as he spun around toward her, his weapon out. Buffy swung her blade and it cut across his gun and then his chest.
One of the other soldiers turned to face her but Buffy was far too fast and he joined his compatriot on the floor. The third spun around but it was the opening the remaining soldier needed to fire at him from behind. The man nodded to Buffy. “Thanks.”
“No problem,” Buffy said. “Have you see Bastila?”
The soldier shook his head. “No. But the attack happened so fast…”
“Which way is the bridge?” Buffy asked.
“This way, come on,” the soldier said as he led her toward a nearby hatch. Sparks flew about as they moved, the ship still shaking from laser bolts.
The loudspeakers crackled as a voice suddenly echoed through the ship. “This is Carth Onasi. The Sith have launched boarding parties. All personnel to the bridge immediately!”
“Damn, it’s worse than I thought,” the soldier said as he reached the doorway. He quickly tapped the keypad to open it. “Hopefully, Onasi can get Bastila off-----“
Buffy was listening. Instead, she was reaching out with the Force to see if there were any Sith troopers behind the doorway. Her eyes widened as she felt a dark tremor in the Force. “Wait, don’t open-----“
Her warning was too late as the doorway slid open. The soldier froze in shock and terror at the figure before him. It was garbed completely in a black form fitting suit and hood with a black mask over its face, leaving just its eyes visible. The soldier barely had time to move before the Dark Jedi struck, its red lightsaber streaking in the air to slice the young man’s head right off its shoulders.
Buffy didn’t give the Sith the chance to enjoy the kill but lunged forward, swinging out her blade. The Dark Jedi was driven back, surprised by the young Jedi’s prowess. They moved down the hallway, her green blade clashing with his red as they moved about, each trying to gain some sort of opening on the other. Around them, the ship shook and sparks flew from broken wiring. Buffy heard another door at the other end of the hall opening but blocked it out, concentrating solely on the battle.
That instinct that had served her so well over the years, both as a Slayer and a Jedi, called to her now. She spared a quick glance over to a nearby conduit that was sparking and knew what was going to happen. She backed up and deliberately left herself an opening. As she hoped, the Dark Jedi saw it and lunged forward. Buffy leaped out of the way and the man’s lightsaber struck the conduit. It immediately exploded into his face, sending him flying back against the wall with shrapnel covering his entire body.
Buffy let out a long breath, turning her saber off and turning to the two men in the doorway. One had the look of a veteran with a crew cut and a blaster in his hand. The other…
“Angel?” Buffy whispered. She blinked and realized it wasn’t him. There was a resemblance however. Strong handsome features, short dark hair and a good build clad in black pants, a light shirt and a black vest jacket with gloves. “Sorry. You sort of look like someone I know.”
“I get that sometimes,” the man said. “Vance Jarcen, this is Trask Ulgo.”
“Ellaine Somers,” Buffy gave her adopted name. “Have you two seen Bastila?”
“No,” Trask said. “But she could still be at the bridge. We’d better get up there fast, come on!” He raced toward the side hallway as Buffy and Vance stared at one another.
“Take charge guy,” Buffy noted.
“Yeah, pisses me off,” Vance said as they followed the soldier.
It took a few moments for them to reach the bridge. The doors slid open and Buffy was immediately blocking laser fire with her lightsaber. There were a half dozen Sith soldiers on the bridge, the only people on it still alive. One was struck by the deflected bolts and went down. Behind her, Vance had drawn a blaster and was firing back at the soldiers as he ducked for cover behind some consoles. Trask moved against the doorway as he returned fire himself.
In moments, the bridge was clear, Buffy frowning as she looked around. “Dammit, she’s not here!”
“At the risk of sounding cowardly, which I’m not,” Vance announced as he rose up. “Shouldn’t we be trying to get off this damn ship before it blows apart?”
“We need to find Bastila first!” Trask stated. “She’s our primary responsibility!”
“Don’t have to tell me,” Buffy stated.
There was a crackle over the loudspeakers and then Carth’s voice intoned again.
“This is Carth Onasi. Bastila’s pod is away, repeat away. All crews to the escape pods. I repeat all crews to the escape pods!”
“Oh, he couldn’t have told us five minutes ago?” Vance complained.
“Come on, escape pods are down this way!” Trask said as he led them out of the other side of the bridge. They were heading to an intersection in the hall when Buffy slowed. Seeing this, Vance stopped and frowned. “What are you doing?”
Buffy shook her head. “Something…something’s waiting for us.”
The door before them opened to reveal another Dark Jedi. But this one was far more sinister than the one Buffy had fought earlier. He wore dark black armor with a collar that surrounded his neck completely. He was bald and his yellow eyes gleamed with pure malice. As he saw the three before him, he twirled his arm and his lightsaber ignited. Like Bastila’s, it was double-bladed but both ends were blood red.
“I’ll handle him,” Trask said, pushing aside the duo. “You get to the escape pods!”
“Trask, no!” Vance yelled. “He’ll kill you!”
Trask ignored him, moving in as he pulled out a standard issue vibroblade. The Dark Jedi made a wicked smile just as the doors lid shut. Vance pounded a fist on it but it was stuck tight. “Dammit!”
“Come on,” Buffy said, pulling him back. “We have to get out of here.”
Vance reluctantly followed her as they made their way to the starboard section. “Not as many troops,” he noted.
“Yeah, looks like the rats have deserted,” Buffy intoned. “Which doesn’t bode very well for us.”
There was a buzz at Vance’s belt. “Trask? Trask, come in!”
Vance pulled out a small communicator and spoke into it. “Trask is dead.”
“Dammit,” Carth’s voice came over the speaker. “Okay, you two are almost at the escape pods. But there’s a bunch of Sith in the next room.”
Vance nodded. “Thanks. We’ll be there.” He shut the communicator off as they entered the small room. Seeing a security monitor nearby, he quickly brought up a view of the next room. There were five soldiers inside, one wearing the red armor of a commander. Buffy looked over the man’s shoulder and nodded. “So, which you want?”
“Wait a sec…” Vance tapped a few keys on the monitor’s board. “Let’s save us some trouble.” He hit a command and on the screen a conduit nearby erupted. Bolts of electricity raked out and hit all five of the Sith troops, electrocuting them instantly.
“Nice,” Buffy noted in an impressed tone.
“You pick up a few tricks on the Outer Rim,” Vance stated as he opened the door. They stepped over the bodies, Vance pausing long enough to strip off a blaster before opening the second door.
They found themselves looking down the blasters of a pair of pistols. They were held by a man who appeared to be in his late thirties, handsome with a seemingly permanent five o’clock shadow, dressed in brown pants and a dark brown tunic. He raised the pistols as he realized they weren’t Sith. “Good, you made it. There’s one last pod left.”
“Who the hell are you?” Buffy demanded.
“Carth Onasi. I’m a soldier of the Republic.”
“How do we know we can trust you?” Vance asked with suspicion.
“Cool down,” Buffy said. “Come on, let’s get out of here.” She moved and slid herself into the pod. Vance followed her and then Carth, shutting the hatch behind him. He pushed a button and all three jerked as the pod shot out of the ship. They looked out the viewport and saw the Spire, flame spurting out of several places as the Sith ship continued their fire. With a final convulsion, the ship erupted, exploding in a huge fireball that lit up the sky.
“Hope you guys have good insurance on those things,” Vance dryly remarked. It earned him dark glares from both Buffy and Carth. “Ah…we’re going pretty fast, aren’t we?”
Carth moved to the small pad nearby and tried to punch in some numbers. “Ah, dammit, we’re losing control!”
“Just what I wanted to hear,” Buffy groaned as she set herself against the side of the pod. She glanced outside to see the atmosphere of Taris start to engulf the pod. All three felt the heat inside the pod rise as it started to burn on reentry. The viewport showed the shapes of skyscrapers flowing around them as the pod’s velocity increased. “Hold on!” Carth yelled just before the pod hit the ground.
Buffy yelped as she was slammed against the side of the pod. Vance also yelled as he hit his head hard on the other side and fell limp. The pod skimmed along the streets before finally coming to a stop.
Carth kicked the door open and got out. He reached in to help Buffy out and together they pulled the limp body of Vance. “He’s still alive,” Buffy said, feeling his aura. She glanced about to get her bearings. They appeared to be in the middle of a massive city, the skyscrapers as high as she could see. She realized they appeared to be several hundred feet over the ground, on a giant platform that stretched out for blocks. At the moment, it was night and the streets were pretty much deserted.
Glancing about, Carth saw an apartment complex nearby. “Come on, maybe we can find some help in there.” He put one of Vance’s arm around his shoulder. Buffy took the other arm and they dragged the unconscious man with them.
Thankfully, there wasn’t anyone inside the hallways either so they could drag the man over without fear of discovery. “There has to be an empty apartment around here,” Carth muttered.
Buffy narrowed her eyes and reached out. “Full…two Riordians…a family…” Her head jerked up toward one door a few yards down. “Empty.”
They reached it and Carth moved so Buffy could hold Vance. Carth quickly moved to the door and fiddled with the lock. The door slid wide open and Buffy quickly brought the unconscious Vance in.
The room wasn’t that spacious with a pair of beds, a desk, table, two chairs and a footlocker. Buffy carefully put Vance down on the bed and checked him out. “He’s got a bad cut on his head but doesn’t look too bad,” she said.
Carth nodded as he shut the door. He looked Buffy over, frowning as he saw her lightsaber. “Wait…you’re a Jedi.”
“Oh, yeah…Bastila’s apprentice.”
Buffy whirled her head toward him. “Did you see her? Is she safe?”
“I got her on an escape pod just before the Sith overran the bridge,” Carth told her. “She was pretty stubborn. I practically had to pick her up and throw her in.”
Buffy grinned. “Damn, wish I could have seen that.” She turned to Vance, rubbing the cut and closing her eyes. She took a deep breath and attuned herself to the Force. She let herself touch the man, her energy mixing with his to speed up the healing process. She had no idea what the situation was going to be here but she knew having another guy up and around fast would be a help.
Carth watched her do her work, curious but keeping silent. He knew he was still running on adrenaline, his hands tight on the blasters. He wasn’t sure what the situation was on Taris now but he was a soldier and dedicated to doing his duty.
There was a sound on the other side of the door and Carth instantly went into soldier mode. He moved aside, his pistol up as he kept back from the door. It opened and a figure entered. It was a woman, wearing a dark uniform over her rather athletic but shapely body with a dark helmet over her head. Carth moved behind her and aimed his pistol at the back of her head. “Keep quiet,” he hissed as the door shut behind him. “Don’t move, don’t make a sound and you won’t get-----“
Before he even realized it, the woman had swung her leg back, bringing it hard right between Carth’s legs. He gasped in pain and bent over, the blaster dropping. The woman ducked and swept her leg out, kicking Carth in the ankle and knocking him on his back. She moved over and pinned him down, her hand clutching his blaster and pointing it right at his head. “Picked the wrong apartment on the wrong night, asshole,” she hissed.
There was another hiss, this one carrying with it the crackle of ozone and suddenly, a green blade of energy was at the woman’s throat. “Back off,” Buffy coolly said as she stood behind the woman. “We’re not looking for trouble. But if you hurt him, I’m going to have to-----“
Buffy froze at the single initial. “Excuse me?”
The woman seemed frozen herself and Buffy could feel shock flowing out of her. “B…is…is that you?”
Buffy frowned and pulled the lightsaber away as she backed up. The woman rose to her feet and faced her. She pulled the helmet off, letting a lush mane of dark hair free and showing her beautiful face, which currently held an expression of pure amazement. “Oh my God, B!”
Buffy’s jaw dropped wide open as she stared at the last person in the universe she would have ever expected to find in a run-down apartment on an Outer Rim world.
Well, that’s a cliffhanger, eh? To be continued in Book II: Taris.