Chap. 1 Rian:

            I woke with a start.  I tried to straighten the bed sheets that were haphazardly twisted around my legs with a careless hand.  Just another damn nightmare, it was the third one this week.  I brushed a damp lock of hair from my eyes and looked at the clock.  Ugh, it was way too early.  I curled my legs up into a fetal position and pulled the covers over me.  Two more hours, that was all I asked for.

            "Get up!" 

            The crew quarter was flooded with bright light.  It figures, the one night I stayed up playing pazaak and Trask decided to bug me early.  Maybe that meant some of the guys figured out that I had cheated.  I growled, but I was too tired to put any effort into it.  It sounded far too pathetic to be intimidating.

            "Damn it, Ulgo!"  I rolled over on the cot and covered my face with a pillow.  "Just give me two more hours and I'll relieve you, you impatient son of a kinrath kissing—"

            "The Endar Spire's under attack!" he interrupted.  "We've got to get out of here now before Sith troops are down our throats!"

            "Sith?"  Well, that just completely ruined my morning.  The very word "Sith" froze my entrails around my last meal.  And it was a good meal, too.  Suddenly I wasn't very tired anymore.  A voice giggling hysterically in the back of my head told me that I'd look back on this situation with humor.  If I managed to live through it.

            "It's alright, kid."  There were droids who spoke with more emotion than Trask Ulgo.  "I know you're no soldier.  I won't let anything happen to you, but we've got to move, quick." 

            The entire room shook as an enemy shell made contact with the Endar Spire.  He dug through the footlocker by my bed and tossed some clothes at me while I tried to force my brain to work.  Fight or flight?  The only thing I wanted to do at the moment was treat myself to the cheapest swill I could find in a shady looking cantina.

            "Come on, kid."  He glanced anxiously at the door.  "I can't dress you too."  I shook myself back to reality and grabbed for my clothes.

            I jumped into the khaki fatigue pants and shot Ulgo the dirtiest glare I could muster.  Under better circumstances I would have carved the eyes from his head for watching me dress, or at least swindle him out of a few credits for my trouble, but I had more important things to worry about.  I threw a white tank top over my head and pulled a red pilots jacket on before turning to him.

            "Where's my blaster?" 

            He grinned.

            "Glad to see you're back with us."  He pressed the cold metal into my hand.

            "What's next, pal?" I forced a smirk to my lips.  He didn't need to know that at that moment I would have rather been a joy-girl who had lost control of her bodily functions in the middle of a performance. 

            "I didn't think you were that dense, Vega."  Trask's scolding was half-hearted as he punched in the door code.  I consoled myself with the fact that he was just as terrified as I was.  "We find Bastila."


            "Yes, Bastila.  Even Jedi need help."

            Great, I thought as I ran after Trask.  This is just what I need, to be cannon fodder between a Jedi and her enemies.

            We headed down the metallic hallways towards the bridge.  Repair droids lined the corridors, their toots frantic as they tried futilely to fix the beaten ship.  Occasionally Trask would stop at a body, but it was always too late.

            "Damn it!" 

            Blaster or no, Trask had given me enough warning to drop on all fours and cover my head.  There was no reason in the deepest depths of Korriban for me to pretend I was a hero.  Stunts like that rewarded people with smoking blaster holes in their foreheads.  I could hear blaster shots zip overhead.  A few seconds passed and I cautiously raised my head from my arms in time to watch Trask fry the last of the oncoming Sith.

            "Ajunta Pall's bones, girl!" he cried hoarsely, grabbing hold of my arm and dragging me to my feet.  "What the hell was that?  Are you trying to get killed?"

            "I'm not meant for this!"  My voice cracked.  Who did that Sithspawn think he was, talking to me like that when I had a fully charged blaster?  "I'm not a soldier, you said so yourself!  I smuggle things, and if I have to kill anyone I shoot them in the back you, you hairless Wookiee!"

            "I might not be able to save your worthless hide the next time you pull a stunt like that."  A pulsing vein appeared out of nowhere on Trask's forehead.  If I kept pushing him, I was certain he'd develop a nervous twitch by the end of the month.  "The next time you see something, don't think, just shoot!"

            So I did.  Poor Trask nearly jumped out of his skin until he realized that I was shooting at the Sith trooper behind him and not at him.  Wishful thinking doesn't keep a body alive.

            "Thanks." he grunted.  Moving on, he pointed to the end of the corridor.  "Can you slice into that door?  I'll watch your back." 

            I nodded.  I pulled out a security spike and inserted it into the jammed system.  My fingers moved instinctively all the while, I flooded my brain with soothing thoughts of Corellian brandy and house droids taking care of my every whim.

            Ulgo's comlink beeped, drowning out my curses as I fought with the battered computer system.  He made a shushing noise so I dropped my obscenities to inaudible grumblings.

            "This is Carth Onasi.  Bastila's made it off the Endar Spire.  All remaining crew to the escape pods now."

            "The Sith want Bastila alive."  Worry crept into Trask's voice.  "But once she's off the ship there's nothing stopping them from blasting the Endar Spire into galactic dust."

            Ulgo's constant moaning had started to wear on me.  I concentrated fully on the door and ignored him.  Finally, the 'click' I had been listening for happened.

            "Got it."  I grinned triumphantly as the door slid open.  The dark Jedi standing on the other side of the doorway grinned back.  Why me?...

            "Get to the escape pods!" Trask yelled, as he dove headlong into the Jedi.  I ran down the corridor, a scream strangling me.

            I fumbled with my stealth belt as I made my way towards the pods.  So I was behaving like a coward?  I just wasn't built with the valiant stupidity required of heroes.  Besides, cowards live to see another day.  I skulked down the broken corridors, careful to avoid the Sith at all cost.

            At the entrance to the escape pods, I finally stopped to breathe a sigh of relief.  Just through that door and I'd be fine.  I flicked my stealth belt off and punched the proper code into the door.  As the door glided open I was immediately faced with two blasters pointed between my eyes.

            "Who's there?" the man demanded, his brown eyes giving me the one over before dropping his guns.  He gave a relieved sigh.  "You made it just in time!  There's only one active escape pod left.  Come on, we can hide out on the planet below!"

            "Wait just a damn second!" I protested.  My eyes were fastened to his blasters.  It's usually not in one's best interest to blindly follow a man who just nearly blew your head off.  "Who are you and why should I trust you?"

            "I'm a soldier with the Republic, like you.  We're the last two crew members left on the Endar Spire."  He paused to dart an anxious glance towards the escape pod.  "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!"

            I didn't have much choice.  I let him lead me to the escape pod.

            As he punched in the coordinates, I warily looked over the close quarters of our escape pod.  I only hoped that I didn't scream too loud once we were flung out into space.