- "The first rule of gunfighting is to be the only person with a gun. The second rule is, if you have a gun, use it. And the third...the size of your gun does count."
- - Colonel Ashmara Danrei, Republic Army
Colonel Ashmara Danrei is a Republic Army veteran and commander of the New Talaos Irregulars, a company of pardoned deserters who had gone underground during the Saresh regime. Serving as an artillery officer during the Great Galactic War, she was seriously wounded during the Battle of Dantooine and spent much of her remaining career as chief of staff to General Ketana Netalis-Linavil. She remained in service throughout the futile resistance against the Eternal Fleet, and retired after the forced peace treaty.
During her retirement, Colonel Danrei has travelled through the Republic in the company of Alieth Taldir, a Jedi Master who remained on Coruscant following the scattering of the Jedi Order; they have often been seen offering aid to frontier colonies and refugee camps left to fend for themselves. After her conduct during the final conflict with the Eternal Fleet on Coruscant, Danrei was asked to come out of retirement by Supreme Commander Jace Malcom, and the Republic Army deserters she had sheltered in Master Taldir's sanctuary on Tatooine - officially marked "missing, presumed dead" - were granted full pardons and placed under her command.
Ashmara Danrei was born on Coruscant, descended from a family that had originally settled on Taris. The Zabrak and other non-human Tarisians were marginalized and often evicted from their homes by the human population; a paternal ancestor, Keevan Danrei, was able to save enough money to flee Taris with his wife and children before it was occupied by the Sith forces of Darth Malak, which then laid the planet to waste, killing other members of the Danrei family.
Ashmara's father, Tovan, was a lieutenant in the Republic Army who was killed in battle when Ashmara was eight. In adulthood, Ashmara sought to follow in his footsteps, but was more interested in the "big guns" than in rushing into battle. She was subsequently trained as an artillery officer, commanding support pieces behind the lines. Whenever it came to "up close and personal", however, she favored the rapid fire of an assault cannon, which she called her "little big gun". By the war's end, she was caught up in the conflict on Dantooine, and was seriously wounded by an Imperial attack, requiring cybernetic replacements to her left hip and knee - wounds that would pain her for the rest of her life.
After the war ended, Major Danrei accepted a position as chief of staff to her old comrade, Colonel Ketana Linavil, when she was assigned to the offices of the Republic High Command on Coruscant. Unlike Linavil, who easily made the transition from combat to administration (and would subsequently be promoted to general), Danrei chafed at the boredom of office work, though she remained largely out of a sense of loyalty to her commander. She was a regular guest at the Linavils' home on Coruscant, where the general and her husband, retired Sergeant Major Toral Linavil, hosted a number of other "war buddies" over the years. By the time the next Galactic War began with the Sith, Danrei was promoted to colonel, and directed the general's orders to various commands in the field - including to Linavil's daughter Melena, who commanded the Special Forces' Sithbane Squad. It gave her an opportunity to leave the office in situations where orders could not be transmitted over the HoloNet.
That would end with the general's death on Nar Shaddaa at the ends of the rogue Jedi Archivist Caradell, who would become the Sith Lord Darth Insomnius (who would herself be killed nearly a decade later for betraying the Empire). This led to a suspicion of Jedi as "ticking time bombs", one that would be hard for her to break. After his wife's death, Toral Linavil gave Danrei the apartment on Coruscant, and returned to his homeworld of Mirial.
A New Empire, and a New Ally
- "Not all Jedi are potential Sith, Colonel. Defectors like Caradell are exceptions, not the rule. I am not asking you to blindly trust me - only to not judge the entire tree based on one rotten fruit."
- - Jedi Master Alieth Taldir, after the first meeting on Coruscant
Not long after Linavil's death, the Eternal Empire of Zakuul invaded the Core Worlds, and after a year forced the Republic and the Empire to accept peace treaties on less-than-favorable terms. Though she was as zealous as any to take the fight to the Sith, Danrei believed that fighting a two front war with the Sith and Zakuul was counterproductive, and that Zakuul was the greater threat. Disgusted by the bureaucratic interference of Chancellor Leontyne Saresh, Danrei retired from the Republic Army, and remained alone at her apartment on Coruscant, now seemingly without purpose. Then, one day, she had a visitor...
After the Jedi Order scattered to the astral winds, very few Jedi remained in public view, especially on Coruscant. Alieth Taldir, a Jedi Master from Makeb who had settled on Tatooine after the Republic had surrendered to Arcann, visited Danrei at the Senate Plaza market. She expressed her concern for refugees and other "orphans of war" forced to fend for themselves in the post-war Republic, and believed a veteran soldier - a respected individual in society, in other words - would be beneficial to her mission. Danrei had been planning just that sort of humanitarian mission herself, which was how Master Taldir heard of it; however, the colonel at first wanted little to do with her, her perception of Jedi soured by Caradell's murder of General Linavil on Nar Shaddaa, believing the Jedi Order allowed defectors to run rampant. The Jedi patiently replied that incidents like Caradell's corruption were relatively rare, and asked for the colonel's understanding - that all Jedi should not be judged by the actions of the few that fell to darkness. Reluctantly conceding the point, Danrei agreed.
Faces of the Sufferers
During the years in which Arcann consolidated his power over the galaxy, Master Taldir welcomed a number of deserters from the Republic Army who had come at her behest to aid in underground humanitarian missions - not only to help the people abandoned by an increasingly authoritarian Republic, but also to recover priceless artifacts of the Jedi Order. The men looked to Danrei, as a retired senior officer, for leadership during these times, and she was proud of their moral strength as well as their martial prowess. The Tatooine sanctum became known as "New Talaos", after the capital of Master Taldir's homeworld of Makeb, and the men under Danrei's command became known as the New Talaos Irregulars.
Taldir and Danrei regularly travelled the spacelanes incognito, often accompanied by a squad or two of their Irregulars, particularly those who had medic training in the Army. Among the records in Master Taldir's personal archives were holorecords from the colonel and her soldiers during these missions, meant to show "the faces of the sufferers", those who languished while the Republic contemplated constant wars with the Sith Empire even as Zakuul kept them in a stranglehold. One particular record was their arrival on the Bothan homeworld of Bothawui during the early days of the Alliance based on Odessen; the Irregulars had arrived to find the planet in revolt against the Eternal Empire, and was a witness to the firing of the plasma beam from the Star Fortress in the planet's orbit, causing widespread devastation and high casualties. Master Taldir herself suffered flash burns from proximity to the blast.
Return to the Home Front
With the Alliance gaining in strength, having dethroned Arcann (who was then replaced by his psychotic and murderous younger sister, Vaylin), Master Taldir asked Danrei to make contact with Captain Eidan Zherron, the commander of the Jedi Custodum's mobile enclave Custodian's Watch, and arrange for a meeting with members of the Custodum's Jedi contingent. Danrei sent the message to an old friend of both hers and Zherron's, Admiral Ardenar'cad, a former privateer. The admiral passed the message to Zherron, who then sent it to his friend, Jedi Knight Dassalya Nasadee, who led a delegation to Tatooine.
While Taldir departed for the Watch with the Custodum, Danrei brought a detachment of her Irregulars aboard General Linavil's old BT-7 Thunderclap, the Wayfaring Stranger, to join her later. But while en route, Master Taldir redirected her to Coruscant for what was to be the final battle of the war against Zakuul. The Outlander, commander of the Alliance, had slain Vaylin during an invasion of Odessen, and the Eternal Fleet had gone rampant and began opening fire on Dromund Kaas, Coruscant, and Zakuul itself. The Watch was on its way to protect the people, and Master Taldir would join an assault team on the surface while Zherron commanded the Watch.
Danrei went first to Ardenar'cad's office, where the admiral was preparing to evacuate from the surface to his flagship, the Skyrider. Noting she had come in armor and with her assault cannon, he set her loose to blast down skytroopers where she could. She would meet up with Master Taldir outside the Senate Tower, and fight at her side until the battle unexpectedly stopped - when the Eternal Fleet went dormant. The reason was transmitted on the HoloNet from Odessen not long afterward: Zakuul had fallen, and the Outlander had taken control of the Eternal Throne.