[Originally written by Duende]
The tale of Basit Alnari Of the Azra’eil Legacy
She had always been right behind him. From the time she could walk upright, Basit’s little sister Zafira had been at his heels begging for his attention. Like any sister she had alternated between charming him into giving her what she wanted, and annoying him to the point of rage. For nine years she had been his shadow, and he adored her as much as she had worshipped him. He had fought with her, protected her, argued with her, and loved her as fiercely as a big brother could. He would give anything in the world to see her again. He hadn’t thought about her in years, but as he boarded the transport and readied for the journey to Alderaan, thoughts of her were strong in his mind. She was the reason he was in a Republic uniform and readying himself for the last assignment of his military career. The hyperspace trip would be long, so he had time to mull over the memory of his sister. The memories were good to stir his blood, make him remember why he joined up in the first place, and why he was leaving when his career looked so certain. When he reached his quarters, he lay back on his bunk, put his hands behind his head, closed his eyes and dragged the past into the present.
The black-cloaked Sith had taken her away, and never returned. The man had torn her out of his arms and taken her in the dark of night, and she was simply gone. There were no messages, no holocalls and nothing but silence from the Imperial officials his father tried to bribe into giving up some kind of information. She was inside the Sith Academy on Korriban and had been gone for almost two years with no word. Her absence was like a hole in his life that nothing could fill. He and his father, Rumok, watched the holonet every evening after the family ate. Always the same thing, the official feeds and planetary reports that assured him that all was well in the world. The Empire was strong, its people happy, and its politics ascendant. His father had been a trooper when he was young and strong, and was proud of his service. Most all of the Alnari Clan males – and a sizable number of females – were trained warriors and nearly all had served the Empire. The few who hadn’t had left the clan for other worlds. Though he was only fifteen, he was as tall as his father, broad-shouldered, and heavily muscled. He and his friends at school were listening to Republic broadcasts that told the truth about the destruction that the Imperial troops left behind – and the starvation, ecological disaster, and privation that followed in their wake. The Emperor was missing, and the Dark Council fought among their ranks for power. The young men had talked about joining the Republic and getting into the action on the outer rim. Most of the time Basit kept his opinions to himself – his father was set in his ways and didn’t understand that the Empire was falling into ruin. Certainly many of his friends would join the Republic. There were recruiters everywhere, eager to snap up young soldiers who were chafing at the years of Imperial subjugation that their people had suffered. Basit knew his father would never forgive him if he joined the other side. Their clan had been Imperial supporters for many generations, and had gone from humble slaves to proud troops supporting the Emperor through military service. If he joined the Republic, Basit would have to leave his family and become kin to no one. On this night, Rumok was talking politics at him when the Dromund Kaas report began. Basit watched it idly while his father ranted, and noticed a report of a construction accident, with lots of smashed droids and bodies of workmen on the screen that caught his attention. The next image froze his heart. A dark, hooded Sith was carrying the body of his baby sister out of a smoking hole in the side of a jungle mountain. Basit yelled, “NO!” and grabbed his father’s arm, vise-like, and with the other, punched the remote and reversed the feed. He hit another button and played it again. It was her. It had to be. It was her bright, round face that he knew as well as his own. Her eyes, open but sightless, were the same eyes that had cried on his shoulder on the night they came for her. She was bloody and limp in the arms of the same man who had taken her away. He reversed it and played it again. The family’s holoset helpfully beeped and recorded the section. His father sat, dumbfounded. Basit raged at the screen. “It can’t be her! It isn’t her! She is on Korriban! FATHER!” It wasn’t until he had seen the clip for the sixth or seventh time that he realized that a slave collar was fastened around Zafira’s neck. He slammed down the holo controller and ran for his room, swinging his fists into anything that got in the way between him and the door. They had betrayed her. They had betrayed his father, and their clan. She hadn’t been taken to the academy after all. She’d been made a slave – just like the Empire had done to their grandsires and great grandsires generations ago. Basit sat on his bed and sobbed. Tears of rage and grief poured out of him. His parents huddled together, his father muttering that perhaps the news was wrong. Maybe it wasn’t her. Maybe she was just hurt. Maybe she would be coming home. The message arrived several months later. When he came in from school, he found his mother sobbing at the table, a package half-opened before her. Zafira’s datapad, scratched and filthy, lay on the table. He touched it reverently. The cheerful, childish decorations had been chipped and worn. Dust caked the corners of the plastic cover. He looked again, and saw the note on the table – hand-written in a scrawl of black ink. “Zafira Alnari is dead.” He put his hands on his mother’s shoulders, which made her wail louder. He could feel nothing but calm emptiness in his mind, but his heart wept louder than his mother’s cries. He would never see her again. She would never follow in his shadow or call him, “brother” or run to him for protection. The calm slowly became rage. Basit always knew he would be a warrior. He was born and trained for it, and always expected that he would serve the Empire as his father had. But now—how could he serve the people who stole his sister, killed her, and shamed his clan? They didn’t even have the decency to return her remains to her people. She could never be buried. She would never be united with her ancestors in the proper manner. It was an insufferable insult. He kissed his mother tenderly on the cheek, picked up his sister’s datapad, and went to his room to pack a few things. He was leaving Iridonia, forever. He would find that Sith, and kill him. He would kill anyone who got in his way. If he had the chance, he would wipe the Empire from the galaxy, one Sith at a time.
Basit tried to concentrate on checking his rifle. The others aboard the Republic transport followed the same ritual as they examined their gear for any defect. It calmed the nerves, slowed the mind, and theoretically helped him focus. This time, it wasn’t working. As he stared at the durasteel walls and listened to the roar of the engines, all he could concentrate on was the stupidity of the whole exercise. This should be another routine assignment, but it would be his last. He had resigned his commission with a heavy heart. The civil war on Alderaan had been tedious and frustrating so far. As soon as one Imperial squad had been routed, some Baron or Duke from yet another Imp-backed family would call in more troops to help them enrich themselves and gain a crown. Lt. Alnari cared little for politics these days, and seeing more of his men engaged in another futile battle for someone else’s gain solidified his resolve to leave the military. His youthful enthusiasm for the Republic had been waning for years. He’d seen the effect of the cold war on the people he was sworn to save. The high and mighty Jedi made decisions that made no sense – and many times seemed to make things worse. This assignment was no better. Go down, stand around some palace or another, send out patrols, and if they were lucky, pick off a few stray Imps. It was stupid, boring, and absolutely worthless in the grand scheme of things. He’d be there until he was processed out and could grab a ship to Corellia. Basit pulled out his datapad and thumbed through the screens until he found the notice. He’d read it a dozen times, but once more wouldn’t hurt. *************** SECURITY PERSONNEL WANTED Interstellar shipping and receiving company seeks qualified security personnel for high-profile commercial transport protection. Military background preferred. Combat experience preferred. Inquire: Sokol Industries, com #846-1298-vSI-822 Corellia Business Sector V2-45 Suite 7. *************** Everything the notice didn’t say was exactly what Basit was looking for. Imperial cruisers loved to harass Republic flagged ships. Battles raged on the shipping lines where the treaties and agreements meant less than nothing. Hurting the Empire would be certainly be easier through “unconventional” methods and the pay was sure to be better. He might even get a chance to kill a Sith. It wouldn’t bring his sister back, but it would be more blood to shed in her memory and honor. He sighed, turned his attention back to his rifle, and readied himself for the future.