The introduction to my fanfictional based on the video game "Knights of the Old Republic."
Redemption - A Knights of the Old Republic Fanfictional: Pt. 1
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Four thousand years before the rise of the Galactic Empire, the Republic verges on 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 vunerable as countless Knights fell in battle, and many more swear allegiance to the new Sith Master.
In the skies above the Outer Rim world of Taris, a Jedi battle fleet engages the forces of Darth Malak in a desperate effort to halt the Sith's galactic domination...
Chapter One - Beginnings
Nine Dakari awoke with a start. It took a few moments of looking at the grey ceiling above her, trying to remember hthe vivid dream she had just had, before she noticed the bangs and crashes that signalled the ship she was on - the Endar Spire - was under attack. Nine shot out of bed straight away. No sooner had she done this that her cabin door opened, revealing an old, but strong looking man, who was obviously agitated. Before she could even begin to fathom who he was, however, he began to speak loudly.
‘We’ve been ambushed by a Sith battle fleet! The Endar Spire is under attack! Hurry up – we don’t have much time!’
He said this as though it wasn’t already obvious enough.
Nine was gobsmacked by his sudden authority. ‘…Who are you?’ she managed to say, in all her shock.
‘I’m Trask Ulgo, ensign with the Republic fleet. I’m your bunk mate here on the Endar Spire. We work opposite shifts; I guess that’s why you haven’t seen me before. Now hurry up, we have to find Bastila. We have to make sure she makes it off the ship alive!’
Trask was talking so fast it took a few moments for Nine to realise what he had just said. She blinked for a few seconds before shaking her head.
‘Who’s Bastila?’ she asked exasperatedly.
Trask responded barely a second after she had asked. ‘Bastila’s the commanding officer on the Endar Spire. Well, not an officer, really. But she’s the one in charge of this mission. One of our primary duties is to guarantee her survival in the event of enemy attack! You swore an oath just like everyone else on this mission. Now it’s time to make good on that oath!’
Trask paused for breath before continuing. ‘I know all about your reputation, how you used to smuggle spice and blasters along the Corellian Run. I guess the Republic figured since they couldn’t catch you, they might as well hire you. And I’ll admit, the Republic is in desperate need of someone with your kind of skills. Desperate enough even to overlook your shady past.’
Nine raised a hand, and was about to object to this statement, but Trask still carried on.
‘But now that you’ve signed on for this mission, you’re part of the Republic fleet. And Bastila needs all troops at her side during this attack!’
Nine sighed in exasperation before replying. ‘Okay, let’s go help Bastila!’
She made the frustration in her voice evident. After all, she had barely just woken up before he had barged in and started barking orders at her. Nine made a stare to match her anger; she was not happy.
‘So hurry up and grab your gear. You need to suit up so we can get out of here,' Trask commanded.
Nine’s anger faded as she became suddenly aware for the first time since she’d woken up, that she was in the same room with a man she barely knew, and she hardly had any clothes on!
She blushed a deep crimson.
She turned to the footlocker behind her and grabbed some clothes, a computer spike, a security spike, a blaster, and a stealth field generator out of it. She hurriedly put her clothes on, horribly aware of the fact that Trask was still watching her. What a creep!
When she had done, she turned back to face Trask.
‘Okay, let’s move out,’ he barked at once.
Nine went to open the door, but it was locked.
‘Because of the attack, this room is in lockdown, but don’t worry – I’ve got the override codes,’ Trask said to her, as he punched the code into a terminal.
What was he trying to do? Make himself look the hero or something? She may have been a woman but she could sure as hell handle herself.
‘Okay,’ she managed to say. She began to walk out of the door when her communicator beeped. She took it out of her jacket to see who was contacting her. She didn’t recognise the man on the screen, but the answer to her unspoken question was answered immediately as he began to speak.
‘This is Carth Onasi – the Sith are threatening to overrun our position. We can’t hold out long against their firepower! All hands to the bridge!’
Trask turned to her.
‘Carth's one of the Republic’s best pilots! He’s seen more combat than the rest of the Endar Spire’s crew put together. If he says things are bad, you better believe it. We have to get to the bridge to help defend Bastila!’
Nine nodded and turned to Trask. ‘Let’s move out,’ she said, mimicking his earlier statement.
Nine ran down the corridor until she came to another door. That one was locked too. But before Trask could do or say anything about it, she used her security spike to unlock the door. She gave a smug look as she heard the door click. It opened a few seconds later, revealing a skirmish between two Sith soldiers and a Republic soldier.
‘These Sith must be the advance boarding party. For the Republic!’ Trask yelled, before running to fight the Sith along with the other soldier. Serena followed suit.
A few blaster shots later and the two Sith soldiers lay dead. Unfortunately, the unnamed Republic soldier also lay dead, and it was back to just Nine and Trask. Nine groaned loudly. Not just because it was back to being alone with Trask again, but because she had taken a particularly bad blaster shot to her left arm. Trask looked at her worryingly.
‘I’ve got a feeling that won’t be our last battle with the Sith. Good thing we have medpacs to heal our wounds. It might be a good idea to use one now before our next battle.’
Nine equipped a medpac and immediately felt her wounds begin to heal. She sighed gratefully and walked down the corridor to the next door before opening it.
Trask had been true to his word when he said that wouldn’t be their last battle with the Sith. Because, sure enough, another two were waiting behind the door that Nine had just opened.
Thankfully, (although Nine hated to admit it), her and Trask made a pretty good team, and the Sith were dead in seconds. Although, this was partly thanks to Nine's frag grenade. Once the Sith were dead, Nine checked all the containers in the room. They needed to be stocked up on ammo if they hoped to fight the rest of these Sith alone. Thankfully, she found a couple of grenades, a long sword, and a short sword. She felt slightly braver. There was something comforting about knowing you were less likely to get killed with your pockets full of grenades.
There were various more fights along the corridors that continued, but Nine and Trask managed. Nine walked to the next door and opened it. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Right before them, were a Jedi and a Dark Jedi, engaged in a furious battle. Nine was absolutely stunned. She had never seen a Jedi fight before, and now she was witnessing one close up. She heard Trask speaking to the right of her.
‘It’s a Dark Jedi! This fight is too much for us – we better stay back. All we’d do is get in the way.’
Nine was too stunned to even consider fighting, but even so, she was slightly annoyed at the fact that Trask was still treating her like she couldn't handle herself.
'You don't say,' she muttered sarcastically to herself.
Nine watched in awe as the Jedi swept down her lightsaber, and struck the Dark Jedi in the chest. He fell down, dead. Nine was about to whoop when an explosion behind the Jedi caused her to fall dead too. Right next to the man she had just killed.
‘That was one of the Jedi accompanying Bastila. Damn, we could have used her help!’ Trask said in frustration.
Nine felt sick. As her and Trask continued to walk, she silently prayed that they wouldn’t come across any more Dark Jedi. The battle she had just witnessed made bile rise in her throat. Her and Trask came to the bridge, where half a dozen Sith were waiting.
‘How many of these guys are there?’ Nine yelled wildly while fighting off two of them.
Thanks to an explosion at the front of the bridge, however, Nine and Trask were left with just three Sith to fight. This wasn’t as hard as Nine had initially thought. When the Sith lay dead, Trask exclaimed.
‘Bastila’s not here on the bridge – they must have retreated to the escape pods! We better head that way too. The Sith want Bastila alive, but once she’s off the ship, there’s nothing stopping them from blasting the Endar Spire into galactic dust!’
Nine felt herself begin to panic as she rooted through a backpack, finding a blaster. What if they didn’t have enough time? What if they didn’t make it?
She walked quickly through the next few corridors, trying to keep her cool. That was, until Trask stopped in front of a door, halting her by holding his arm up.
‘There’s something behind here,’ he said, opening the door up. That was a mistake.
Another Dark Jedi was waiting there, brandishing a red double-bladed lightsaber threateningly.
‘Damn – another Dark Jedi! I’ll try to hold him off; you get to the escape pods! Go!’
That was it, Nine cracked. She ran blindly through various corridors, trying to put as much distance between her and the Dark Jedi as she possibly could. She slowed down as her communicator beeped again, then stopped entirely when she saw the face on the screen. It was Carth.
‘This is Carth Onasi on your personal communicator. I’m tracking your position through the Endar Spire’s life support systems. Bastila’s escape pod is away. You’re the last surviving crew member of the Endar Spire! I can’t wait for you much longer; you have to get to the escape pods! But be careful. There’s a Sith patrol just down the corridor. Use your stealth field generator to sneak past him.’
Last surviving crew member. But then that meant Trask was...
Nine whimpered slightly.
Once Carth had disappeared from her screen, Nine reached for the ‘stealth’ button on her belt, but then paused.
No. She wasn’t going to be a coward. She was going to make that Sith pay for kiling Trask and all those other Republic soldiers!
Nine gripped her blaster pistol carefully and peered round the corner. Sure enough, a Sith patrol was pacing up and down the corridor. Nine stepped round the corner in full view of him. The Sith lifted his blaster rifle, taking aim, but Nine was faster. She blasted him right in the middle of the head and he slumped to the floor, dead.
Nine felt a rush of adrenaline. She exhaled and walked round the corner to another door and opened it, where yet another two Sith were waiting. She shot them carelessly and walked over to a terminal at the other side of the room. But not before her communicator beeped again. This time, Nine knew who it was before she even looked at the screen.
‘Be careful! There’s a whole squad of Sith Troopers on the other side of that door, you need to find some way to thin their numbers. You could reprogram the damaged assault droid to help you, if you have enough repair parts. Or you could use computer spikes to slice into the terminal and use the Endar Spire’s security systems against the Sith.’
Aww, he was looking out for her. Nine smiled as she put the communicator back in her pocket, and took out the computer spike. She walked to the terminal and selected ‘View Starboard Transit Module’. The camera connected to the next room flickered onto the screen.
Yep, Carth was right. Five Sith soldiers were stood there, facing the doorway to the room Nine was in. After a few seconds, the picture faded, to be replaced by a new option: ‘’Overload Power Conduit (1 Computer Spike)’. Nine inserted the computer spike into the terminal and pressed ‘Select’. The camera feed reappeared. She watched as the power conduit exploded, leaving all five Sith dead. Nine grinned smugly and walked through. She passed the Sith’s bodies and opened the door at the other side. Her heart leapt when she saw who was behind it – Carth!
Now that she was stood just feet away from him, she could fully make out his appearance. He was fairly well built, with dark brown hair - a lock of it falling in front of his chocolate brown eyes. His clothes consisted of a dark orange jacket, and brown slacks, with knee-high boots. Normally, Nine would have whistled and nodded slowly to show her appreciation, but evidently now was not the time.
‘You made it just in time! There’s only one escape pod left. Come on, we can hide out on the planet below!’ Carth said, bringing Nine back to reality with a jolt.
Nine paused. ‘How do I know I can trust you?’
‘I’m a soldier with the Republic, like you. We’re the last two crew members left on the Endar Spire. Bastila’s escape pod’s already gone, so there’s no reason for us to stick around here and get shot by the Sith. Now come on – there’ll be time for questions later!’
The last two crew members on the Endar Spire … Had they not been in the same situation, Nine would have found that statement oddly romantic.
She clambered into the escape pod, followed by Carth. Once they were in, Carth hit the ‘Eject’ button, and the escape pod shot out of the ship.
As it hurtled downwards, towards the planet below, Nine heard a huge bang from the direction of the Endar Spire. The Sith must have blown it up! Nine thought of how lucky they were to have escaped, she turned and saw Carth’s face go pale, he was obviously thinking the same thing.
As the escape pod hurtled down, Nine felt it begin to burn. They had entered the planet’s atmosphere! Nine felt herself slipping in and out of consciousness from the heat. The last thing she felt, although she could have imagined it, was Carth’s warm hand wrapping round her clammy one, before she fell, deep into darkness...
Chapter Two - Chasing Memories
A female Jedi with a yellow lightsaber, standing on the bridge of a ship. She was fighting a Sith, whose lightsaber was of the familiar red hue. The female Jedi struck down the male down, and poised herself in a battle position, ready for another attack…
Nine awoke suddenly, her vision slightly disorientated. That was such a weird dream…
She sat up and looked around the unfamiliar room. It was dimly-lit, and not the most inviting loking places she had seen. There were tiles missing from the grey floor, and the walls were murky. Nevertheless, at least she was safe. Nine's eyes fell on Carth, who was watching her intently.
‘Good to see you up, instead of thrashing around in your sleep. You must have been having one hell of a nightmare. I was wondering if you were ever gonna wake up…’
‘I’m Carth, one of the Republic soldiers from the Endar Spire. I was with you on the escape pod, do you remember?'
Nine cleared her throat and tried to speak, but her voice came out in barely more than a whisper. ‘I had a strange dream. Like a vision or something.’
Carth grimaced. ‘I'm not surprised. You took a serious blow to the head. You're probably having all kinds of strange dreams. Anyway, you’ve been slipping in and out of consciousness for a couple of days now, so I imagine you’re pretty confused about things. Try not to worry. We’re safe… at least for the moment.’
Nine sat on the floor and wrapped her arms around her knees. It looked like this conversation could go on for a while, and for once, she was happy with that.
‘We’re in an abandoned apartment on the planet of Taris. You were banged up pretty bad when our escape pod crashed but luckily I wasn’t seriously hurt. I was able to drag you from our crash site in all the confusion and I stumbled onto this abandoned apartment. By the time the Sith arrived on the scene, we were long gone.’
There were a few moments of silence as Nine took this all in. Despite the situation, she felt quite peaceful. She didn’t know whether it was the after-effects of the crash or just Carth’s presence, but either way, she was happier than anyone else in her position would have been. Nine exhaled and smiled.
‘I guess I owe you my life. Thanks.’
Carth grinned sheepishly. ‘You don’t have to thank me. I’ve never abandoned anyone on a mission, and I’m not about to start now. Besides, I’m going to need your help. Taris is under Sith control. Their fleet is orbiting the planet, they’ve declared martial law and they’ve imposed a planet-wide quarantine. But I’ve been in worse spots.’
Nine raised her eyebrows in disbelief. What could be worse than all that? She mouthed the word ‘wow’ as Carth looked at her and spoke again.
‘I saw on your service records that you understand a remarkable number of alien languages. That’s pretty rare in a raw recruit, but it should come in handy while we’re stranded on a foreign world. There’s no way the Republic will be able to get anyone through the Sith blockade to help us. If we’re going to find Bastila and get off this planet, we can’t rely on anybody but ourselves.’
All this talk about Bastila had started getting to Nine and she finally had to ask the question.
‘Why is it so important to find Bastila?’
Carth looked at Nine as though she was stupid. ‘That smack to your head did more damage than I thought. Bastila’s a Jedi. She was with the strike team that killed Darth Revan, Malak’s Sith Master. Bastila is the key to the whole Republic war effort. The Sith must have found out she was on the Endar Spire and set an ambush for us in this system. I believe Bastila was on one of the escape pods that crashed down here on Taris. For the sake of the Republic war effort, we have to try and find her.’
Nine was sure he was just exaggerating. Surely she didn’t mean that much?
‘How can one person, even a Jedi, be so important?’
Carth looked as though she’d slapped him. ‘Bastila’s no ordinary Jedi. She has a rare gift the Jedi call Battle Meditation. Bastila’s power can influence entire armies. Through the Force Bastila can inspire her allies with confidence and make her enemies lose the will to fight. Often that’s all it takes to tip the balance in a battle. Of course there are limits to what she can do. But from what I understand of her ability, it requires great concentration and focus to maintain her Battle Meditation. The attack on the Endar Spire happened so fast she never had a chance to use her Battle Meditation. Like us, she barely got out alive.’
By now, Nine was getting pretty sick of hearing how "wonderful" Bastila was, and it was obvious she couldn’t get Carth to see things from her point of view, so she sighed in defeat.
‘So what do you suggest we do next?’
Carth began to pace up and down, ‘Bastila’s going to need our help. Many of Darth Malak’s followers can use the Dark Side of the Force, and the Sith have already killed more than their share of Jedi in this war. Nobody will be looking for a couple of common soldiers like us. And if we’re careful we can move about the planet without attracting notice. A luxury Bastila won’t have. She’s going to have half the Sith fleet looking for her. They know how important she is to the war effort. The whole planet is under quarantine. No ships can land or take-off so if Bastila’s going to escape Taris, she’s going to need our help. And we’ll probably need hers.’
Nine sighed and stood up resignedly, ‘If it means getting off this planet, I guess I can help you find Bastila.’
Carth nodded, ‘Good. We need to work together if we’re going to survive.’
‘While you were out I did some scouting around. There are reports of a couple escape pods crashing down in the Undercity. That’s probably a good place to start. But the Undercity is a dangerous place. We don’t want to go in there unprepared. It won’t do Bastila any good if we go and get ourselves killed!’
Nine hesitated, ‘I want to ask you some questions.’
Carth looked taken aback, ‘I’ll tell you what I can, though I… I don’t know how much help it’ll be.’
Nine bit her lip. 'What do you know about Malak and the Sith?'
Carth folded his arms, evidently a little surprised at the question, yet her enlightened her anyway.
'Everything I know about Malak is pretty much common knowledge. He escaped the trap that killed Darth Revan, his Sith Master. With Revan's death, Malak became the new Dark Lord. It's obvious that Malak's a ruthless tyrant who'll crush anyone who stands in his way... just like Revan was. Experience has shown that the Sith won't stop until the Republic lies in ruins.'
'Malak and his Sith don't respect anyhing except raw, brutal power. It's hard to imagine how someone who used to be a Jedi could become such a monster.'
Nine frowned in confusion and tilted her head to the side. 'A Jedi? What do you mean?'
'Malak and Revan were once part of the Jedi Order,' Carth explained. 'But they were young and headstrong. And against the wishes of the Council they went to battle the Mandalorians on the Outer Rim. Something happened out there. Something corrupted them and drew them over to the dark side. Or maybe there was something rotten inside them all along. I don't know.'
He began to pace up and down as he continued. 'They formed an army of ex-Republic soldiers and Jedi who had fallen to the dark side, with Revan at their head... until Revan was killed by Bastila's Jedi strike team. But even that didn't slow the Sith down. Malak just stepped in and assumed Revan's role. He took control of the Sith armada and resumed the bloody conquest of the outer worlds.'
Nine stood up again and walked over to Cath, placing a soft hand on his shoulder and looking at him in determination. 'Don't worry. We'll find a way to stop the Sith.'
Carth sighed and shrugged her hand off his shoulder. 'I hope you're right. But the Republic hasn't been able to stop them so far, even with the support of the Jedi Council. I think Bastila might be the galaxy's last hope.'
Nine nodded slightly, finally beginning to understand.
‘Well then, the sooner we start looking for Bastila the sooner we find her. Let’s go.’
For the first time Nine had seen, Carth smiled properly, ‘Good idea. We can use this abandoned apartment as a base, and we can probably get some equipment and supplies here in the Upper City. Just remember to keep a low profile.’
His smile faded to be replaced by a serious look, ‘I’ve heard some grim stories about the Dark Jedi interrogation techniques. They say the Force can do terrible things to a mind. It can wipe away your memories and destroy your very identity.’
Carth trailed off before shaking his head and looking up at Nine.
‘But I figure if we don’t do anything stupid we should be okay. I mean, after all, they’re… they’re looking for Bastila, not a couple of grunts like us. Alright soldier, let’s move out.’
He saluted and started heading towards the door. Nine laughed slightly before beginning to follow him. This was definitely a change to being a smuggler. One thing was for sure, though, it was going to be a lot more fun.
Sure enough, as soon as Carth and Nine were out of the door, the first thing they saw was a scene that had 'trouble' written all over it. Two Duros were being ambushed by a Sith and two menacing looking Sith droids.
'Okay you alien scum, everybody get up against the wall! This is a raid!'
It seemed Carth and Nine had arrived at a pretty convenient time. One of the Duros spoke up in a pleading voice.
'There was a patrol here just yesterday, and they found nothing! Why do you Sith keep bothering us?'
Nine and Carth watched in horror as the Sith carelessly shot him. He seemed to show no remorse as he turned to the remaining Duros.
'That's how we Sith deal with smart-mouth aliens! Now the rest of you get up against the wall before I lose my temper again!'
He suddenly caught sight of Carth and Nine.
'Hey, what's this? Humans hiding out with aliens?'
It took a split second for the confusion on his face to change to anger.
'They're Republic fugitives! Attack!'
Nine sighed and nodded to Carth before blasting the Sith in the head as Carth took aim at the droids.
With added help from the Duros, the droids were taken out in seconds, and the Duros walked over to Nine.
'Poor Ixgil. He should never have talked back to that Sith. Thankfully you were here to step in and help us, human. This isn't the first time the Sith have come in here to cause trouble for us, but hopefully it will be the last.'
Nine smiled warmly at him. 'I'm just glad I could help.'
He nodded in response. 'Don't worry about the bodies. I will move them so it looks like they were killed elsewhere. That should throw the Sith off the track. With any luck, they won't be bothering us again for a while.'
As the Duros walked off, Nine looked round at her surroundings, trying to formulate a plan of action. Considering she didn't know very much about the area, Nine thought it best to check out the rest of the apartments before she left the complex.
Nine walked about 10 feet to an ordinary looking door. She tried to open it, but it was locked. Intuition would have told her that it was someone's personal apartment, and that they wanted their privacy. But somehow, Nine seemed to think there was a bigger mystery behind everything. So, using her skill with security, she picked the lock and the door opened, revealing a pretty, middle-aged woman with black hair. A name badge on her chest read the name 'Dia'. Unfortunately, she didn't look happy.
'Who are you? What are you doing in here? You can't just come barging into someone's home!'
Nine stepped back bashfully. 'I'm sorry. I was just investigating the area.'
Dia squared her shoulders. 'That's no excuse. You can't just go around barging into people's apartments because you're curious! But at least you're more polite than that pig, Holdan.'
Nine frowned. 'Holdan? Who's that?'
Dia clenched her fists. 'Just one of Davik's men who can't keep his hands to himself. But all he got for his trouble was a nasty scar from my vibroblade! Too bad I'm the one still paying the price.'
Nine was intrigued. 'What do you mean?' she said curiously, taking a step forward.
Dia hesitated. 'I ... I don't want to talk about it. I'm in enough trouble already. Besides, I don't know if I can trust you.'
Nine decided if she was going to get anywhere on Taris, she would need to let people know she was trustworthy, so she smiled at Dia.
'You can trust me. Maybe I can help.'
Dia looked her up and down. 'Well, I suppose you seem like an alright sort. When I cut Holdan it made him back off, but it also embarrassed him in front of his friends. Holdan's a spiteful little Hutt-slug. He went and put out a bounty on my head for what I did! That's why I'm hiding out here.'
Nine felt proud of herself. Sometimes her curiosity actually did pay off! She looked at Dia.
'Is there anything I can do to help?'
Dia sighed. 'I doubt it. Holdan is one of Davik's men. When you work for the local crime lord the authorities tend to turn a blind eye. I'm afraid this is between me and Holdan now.'
'Maybe I could speak to Holdan for you.' Nine suggested. After all, she needed somewhere to start on this foreign world, and Holdan may hold some valuable information. Dia seemed to think for a moment.
'You could try, I guess. He usually hangs out at the cantina in the Lower City. It probably won't do any good. Holdan's used to getting his own way. That's one of the fringe benefits of being a goon for Davik. Working for the local crime lord lets you get away with things. Still, I appreciate the offer.'
Nine nodded, her mind set. 'I'll be going now.'
Dia smiled. 'Goodbye, and good luck. I hope you can talk some sense into Holdan.'
Nine nodded again and left the room. It seemed Holdan was her best bet at finding information. For now, at least. Nine and Carth had walked about twenty paces when Carth stopped suddenly. Nine turned to look at him. He was looking Nine up and down, supposedly making some quick judgements on her actions so far. Nine thought this was a little harsh considering they hadn't known each other long. Still, she thought, it was understandable considering the things Carth could have potentially been through. Nine shifted her weight onto one leg.
'Hm?' Carth looked at her and shook his head. 'Oh, it's nothing. I was just... thinking.'
Nine frowned slightly. 'You sure? You seem a little out of it.'
'No, it's fine.'
Nine shook her head, before beginning to walk towards the elevator leading to the Upper City. She would ask him more later. But for now, it was time to find out more about this Holdan. And for that, she would have to make her way to the Lower City cantina, which was exactly where she was headed.
Chapter Three - The Search Begins
As Nine stepped outside, the first thing she noticed was the strange beauty of Taris' Upper City. The purple light of the setting sun reflected off the shimmery silver floor beneath her feet, giving it a pearl-like sheen. In the centre of the area stood an elaborate floating sculpture, it's matching silver colour illuminated by an astounding amount of tiny blue-white lights. Nine walked forward slowly, taking in the splendour of her surroundings. As she looked to her right, Nine saw a stretch of Taris' other buildings: a vast array of tall domes, illuminated by lights that contrasted with the shining blues and purples. As Nine looked around at the brightly lit area in which she stood, she found it hard to believe the Sith could be controlling such a beautiful place.
That was, until she saw one.
A Sith - clad from head to toe in shining black and silver armor - patrolled the streets, holding a powerful-looking Blaster Rifle threateningly. Nine ducked her head and walked past him quickly. She made her way over to a cove-like area, out of sight, and turned to Carth.
'Do you know anything about this place?'
Carth raised his eyebrows. 'Taris? The planet's all one big city... but it's golden years are long past, and things have gotten worse since the Sith occupied it. From what I hear, the wealthy live on the tops of all the tall towers. And if you're poor, you live down in the shadows... and it gets worse the lower you go. That's all I can think of, at any rate.'
Nine nodded and looked away. That explained why the place looked so pretty. This area was where the rich people lived, so she would probably see the extent of the Sith's damage when she went down to the Lower City, which was where she would find Holdan.
As Nine began to step back out into the open, she caught sight of a shop to her left. The sign read 'Equipment Emporium'. Nine realised for the first time just how low her and Carth were on weapons and armor, so she decided to spend the few credits she had on just that. Besides, what use would credits be if you didn't have the gear to keep you alive in the first place?
Nine opened the door, and was greeted by a dark-skinned woman with cropped hair and a friendly smile.
'Hello there. I haven't seen you in my shop before... allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kebla Yurt. Welcome to the Equipment Emporium.'
Her voice was rich and deep. She had obviously perfected it to gain maximum potential with customers.
'You looking to buy some supplies? My shop's the largest one in all of Upper Taris. Best selection on the planet. Whatever you need, I've got. Well, mostly.'
Nine heard Carth speak behind her. 'Mostly? What do you mean by that?'
Kebla frowned a little. 'The Sith confiscated all my heavy weapons. And they impounded all my ships and swoop bikes. But I've still got a real nice selection, if you're interested,' she added hopefully.
As this conversation was taking place, Nine was taking a look round at her surroundings. The shop was fairly small, but well kept. It had the fairly dull colour scheme of greys and silvers, with a dull metal floor, and there was a protocol droid going about it's business at the back of the room.
Suddenly, Nine was brought back to Earth with a jolt as a thought occured to her.
Sure, Holdan may have some information that could be useful to her, but then again, he might not. Kebla, on the other hand would probably have hundreds come through her store in a single week, and imagine all the information she could get with that...
Nine leaned forward and rested her elbows on the desk between her and Kebla. 'I want to ask you some questions.'
Kebla smiled naïvely. 'Anything I can do to help a potential customer out. What do you want to know?'
'Do you know anything about those escape pods that crashed here on Taris?'
Kebla looked down, thinking for a moment, before nodding slowly.
'I heard a couple of pods crashed down in the Undercity. I bet the crash sites have already been stripped clean by the Sith though, unless the swoop gangs or Davik's men got there first.'
Davik. That was the second time he'd been mentioned. Evidently he was well-known around Taris.
'What do you know about Davik?'
Kebla rested her hands on the desk. 'Oh, Davik's a legitimate businessman if you get my drift: smuggling, slaving, extortion. Uh huh. They say he's a member of the Exchange - you know, the big intergalactic criminal organisation.'
Carth spoke up again and Nine turned to look at him.
'Hmm. I've heard of the Exchange. Bad organisation to cross. If anyone has blockade-breaking ships, however, it's them,' he added quietly to Nine.
Nine got the message straight away. If Davik would have blockade breaking ships, that would mean their ticket off the planet for if they found Bastila.
Kebla nodded, evidently not understanding the hidden meaning behind what Carth had said. 'I have to pay him a protection fee every month, but it's reasonable. And I get most of my inventory through Davik and his suppliers - I'm just smart enough not to ask where it came from, you understand?'
Nine stayed silent for a moment. Firstly, she would have to find a way to contact Davik, and - more importantly - get on friendly terms with him. So, there was that to figure out. Then, Davik worked for the Exchange. Was it really the best idea to be fraternising with the Exchange? But, then again, so far it seemed to be her and Carth's only option.
Nine realised she had been silent for a while, so she said, 'Is Davik working with the Sith?'
Kebla folded her arms. 'Davik hates the Sith as much as anybody - the quarantine has put a real dent in his operations too. But he's keeping a low profile as long as the occupation lasts.'
She smirked. 'Davik stays out of the way, and the Sith don't bother him. The swoop gangs could learn a thing or two from this tidy little arrangement, instead of always going after each other.'
Nine nodded, thoughts brewing in her mind. It seemed Holdan really was their best bet at information, especially considering his connections with Davik. Suddenly, meeting up with Holdan seemed like an extremely important thing to do. So Nine - not wanting to seem rude - bought a blaster and left hurriedly. Checking quickly for Sith patrols, she headed towards the Lower City as fast as she could go without looking too suspicious.
On the way there, however, she caught sight of a suspicious looking group across from where her and Carth were. Checking to see no-one was looking, she gestured for Carth to follow, and they made their way over.
The group consisted of two men, and an Aqualish alien. The alien and one of the men seem to have cornered the other, and they were speaking in hushed tones.
'Davik said you missed your last payment,' Nine heard the man say to the one they had cornered, as she made her way closer.
'Davik doesn't like you missing payments!' the Aqualish added.
The bullied man held out a few credits to them with shaking hands. 'Here - I've got fifty credits! A down payment. That should buy me some time, right?'
The first man smirked and shook his head, folding his arms as he did so. 'Sorry, you're out of time. Now it's all or nothing. Davik can't have people not paying his debts.'
The bullied man put his credits back in his pocket, shaking even more violently as he pleaded with the other man.
'But I don't have that much! How can I give you credits I don't have?'
The other man smirked, his expression clearly stating he knew this was going to happen. 'That's too bad,' he responded. 'Davik's going to want to make an example of you! You're coming with us.'
The bullied man began to try backing away, looking around wildly for help. 'No - help! Somebody help! They're going to kill me!'
As his arm was grabbed by the Aqualish thug, Carth whispered hurriedly to Nine. 'I know we have to be careful about drawing attention to ourselves, but are we just going to let them drag this guy off?'
Unfortunatlely, Carth's whisper wasn't quiet enough, and the thug spun round to face them. A snarl crossed his lips, and he nudged the Aqualish.
'Hold on a second. Looks like we got ourselves a witness here!'
'Davik doesn't like witnesses,' the Aqualish added.
Nine balled her hands into fists and stood firm. 'Leave this man alone or you'll have to deal with me!'
The alien and his accomplice gave each-other a knowing look, and the alien shrugged.
'Guess we have to teach you to mind your own business.'
He pulled out a pair of twin blasters, as the man pulled out his own blaster rifle, and they both took aim at Nine. Carth jumped to action immediately and pulled out his own blasters, shooting the rifle out of the man's hand as Nine brandished her vibroblade.
For two thugs who seemed so tough, they were pretty easy to defeat. And soon their corpses were lying at Carth and Nine's feet.
Nine put her vibroblade back in it's sheath as she made her way over to the man, who had been cowering on the ground in the corner. She smiled warmly and held out a hand to help him up.
He took her hand and stood up shakily. 'Thank you - I owe you my life! Those bounty hunters were going to take me away and kill me! My wife warned me not to take a loan from Davik. Now I can't pay him back. It's not good to owe a crime lord money. He'll just keep sending more bounty hunters after me until I'm dead!' he babbled loudly.
Nine frowned sympathetically and tried shushing him. 'Maybe I can help you.'
The man's face softened and he shook his head. 'You already helped me by saving me from those bounty hunters. So unless you have a spare 100 credits to give me so I can pay off Davik, there's nothing else you can do.'
Nine nodded once and reached into her pocket for a stack of credits. She held up the man's hand and placed the credits in his palm. 'Here's 100 credits. Take them.'
The man looked gobsmacked. 'You're giving me 100 credits? Just like that? I... I don't know what to say! Thank you! Thank you!'
Carth muttered behind Nine. 'You're giving him 100 credits? Generous.'
The man's face lit up. 'Now I can pay off Davik. You've saved my life! Thank you! I better take these credits to him right away!'
As he ran off in the opposite direction, Carth turned to Nine and grinned at her slightly as they continued on their way.
'Look at us - saving Taris' occupants. I hope we don't make a habit out of this, otherwise the Sith will be on our tail like a Mandalorian to battle.'
Nine smirked. 'If people need our help, then it's my duty to help them wherever possible.'
'But, nothing,' she responded. 'I don't control your life, therefore I don't expect you to control mine. If you refuse to help people, then you're just as bad as those Sith we're running from.'
Carth opened his mouth to argue, but then seemed to think better of it and closed it again, ending the conversation.
A few minutes later, Nine caught sight of the door that would lead to the Lower City. There was just one problem: It was guarded by a Sith Patrol.
Testing her luck, Nine walked up to the door as casually as possible. To her dismay, however, the Sith held out his arm to stop her.
'This elevator is off limits. Only Sith Patrols and those with proper authorization are allowed into the Lower City. It's obvious from the way you're dressed that you're not one of the Sith Patrols, so unless you have the authorization papers you must move along!'
Nine shifted her weight from one leg to the other. 'Where can I get authorization papers?'
'If you were supposed to have them you'd know where to get them. Now quit wasting my time and move along.'
Nine groaned as Carth leant over and whispered in her ear.
'We're going to need some kind of disguise if we want to get past this guy.'
Nine sighed as she began to walk away. Despite Carth's advice, she knew it was hopeless. Where would they get a Sith disguise? Nine racked her brains of places she might be able to find one. The cantina? A shop? Someone's apartment? No. No-one in their right mind would just leave a Sith uniform lying around. Now they were back to square one.
Before long, Nine found herself stood outside the cantina. She sighed and walked in. Well, she had to start somewhere.
As the door closed behind her, Nine's situation seemed hopeless. When in fact, her goal wasn't as far away as it seemed...
End Of Part 1.