Pre-cursor. I thought of the following idea before I looked at the Pitch Black book. Now, I only just now glanced at it, after writing a page or so already. And I'm pissed off. They re-named Jack to Audrey and they know she's a chick from the beginning. No way, I'm considering that book off cannon to the universe of the following storey. End rant.

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Life on Gibbs prime had never been interesting. It had never been fun, there was no entertainment. There were farms. There were politicians. There were merchants. Every now and again Jackyra cajoled her father into taking her along to sell the harvest at port. They harvested 4 times a year; their region was perpetual summer and there was no end to the rows of crops on the continent.

The port was the only thing in Jack's life she found worthwhile. She could usually manage to slip away while her father went in search of just the right merchant. Past the stalls of vegetables and live-stock, past the jewelers and potters, she had found there was another, darker, far more interesting culture. Arms dealers, fencers, saloons and casinos. Men conspired in dark alleys, women swaggered and pick-pocketed men while advertising their trade in a 'close-up' fashion. No one ever seemed to take much notice of her, which was just as well. Just a kid, in a cap, in worn out clothes. She'd made friends with an arms dealer in a shop hardly big enough to hold the oversized man, much less the wares he sold. He let her play with the blades and showed her odds and ends that she could never have conceived on her own. While she loitered around his shop, she'd catch snippets of smuggling activities, mercs investigating leads, and every now and again someone who was probably running from them who needed to stock up on some cheap defense items.

Inevitably she knew, as the sun sank past the roof of the buildings that she had to make her way back to the family transport. Her father, she supposed, must always assume she was spending what little pocket money she had on the carnival games and candy. Jack wasn't that childish, even as a child. She wanted off that rock, and she knew the only way to do that was with cold hard cash. The meager allowance that her family could afford her, and any money given for lunch on days mother'd been too busy to make it, went straight into a well hidden stash.

Rounding on age 12 she found she'd acquired enough for a ticket off-planet. Not much more than that, but with any luck... she didn't know. All she knew was that she was getting off. It was all Jack could do to hide her giddiness as she prepared her bag for the trip into port. She wasn't taking much, father didn't notice. Off she slipped, to her favorite arms dealer.

"Look Red, where do you suppose someone would go to get the cheapest ticket outta' here?" She leaned over the counter that seemed to have shrunk over the years, glancing down the narrow street with the odd expectation of her father rushing after her.

He scratched his graying rust colored beard, crinkling one wrinkled eye in thought. "Well, Jacob over on Schlotts Street, he's next to the Carthurian noodle place, he could find you a seat on some transport or another. It'll most likely be cargo, mind you, but it'll be cheap. You leavin' me kid?"

He didn't seem concerned so much with the fact that a 12 year old kid was meaning to hitch a ride on any shady ship out of port, but with the loss of the odd friendship they'd obtained. Jack found, to her dismay, that she'd miss him. Of all the people, even her family, on this boring ass planet, she was going to miss the shady arms dealer in the closet store-front next to the brothel on a dead end street. She shook her head, trying to hide the anger and pain that she was mulling over.

"All I've thought about since the first time I realized there was more to the port than vegetable stands was finding out what else is out there. I know there's more than this Red. I can't do this anymore, this isn't me." She sighed and glanced out at the street again. Dust swirled around the feet of passers by, the sun beating down on anything out-side of the shades short reach.

"Well here kid, a small parting token. Don't say I never gave ya nothing." He handed her a short blade with a handle small enough for her hand, and plopped a very small sack of credits down. "Remember old Red will ya, send some business my way even, I could use it."

Jack blinked. Her very own knife, and some extra funds to boot. She reached over the counter as far as she could and gave the over-stuffed man an awkward hug. "Thanx Red, I'll be seein' ya."

It didn't take long for her to find Jacob's little shop. Sure enough, he easily found her a place amongst the cargo on a smuggler's ship. It had cost far less than she had calculated. Of course, she'd been expecting to ride coach. As it was, the cryo-unit they gave her was merely bolted to a wall and she was propped up between two dubious looking boxes of goods. She wasn't sure where they were going; she couldn't determine how long it had taken to get there. They took her money and deposited her in the dank underbelly of a port far away and they were gone again.

The air was greasy, the 'streets' were dark and she never did find her way above ground, or out, or... wherever the port ended. She couldn't say she was scared, but she was uncomfortable. She was more uncomfortable then she had expected to be. She'd never experienced anything unfamiliar aside from those first few ventures into the back side of the port on Gibbs Prime. She was ready for it, eager for it, but life out here was so wildly different she just wasn't as prepared as she wanted to be.

What Jack /wanted/ was to get herself chartered as a crew-member on a smuggling ship. What she wanted was to learn how to pilot, to learn how to handle herself. After wending her way through the pits of the port she'd been dropped in she was too frightened, she admitted, to try for a job with any of these people. She'd attempted to talk to a few vendors, most of them shooed her away, assuming she was a street rate beggar. No one listened, no one took her seriously. It was probably a good thing, even if she didn't know it. Whatever planet she'd found herself on, it wasn't friendly. But, it WAS a waylay point between major planets.

It was a day before she decided to spend some of her small funds on a meal. It wasn't much good, all re-hydrated and fabricated. None of the dishes were really clean, none of the patrons smelled very nice. The lights above the tables flickered as some transport went by... every five minutes. It seemed like it was perpetual night here, the lights never really came on. After milking her time at the diner, she sought out the nearest ticket counter. She couldn't bring herself to try and find a ride with another cargo ship, not on her own. And there was no way in hell she was stowing away without cryo, she was smarter than that. It took most of the credits she had left to buy a coach ticket.

Helion Prime. It was a big, shiny planet. She had a good feeling about it. That port, she figured, must have people somewhere between these dirty ragged people she was a ghost amongst, and the boring people she was fleeing. Helion Prime had to have another Red.

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"No fucking way!" Jack was playing kiddy tug-o-war with a large port guard at the docking bay. She was losing. She thought about kicking him in the shin. Sure, it would be childish, but she'd probably get the knife back.

"You can't take this on ship, kid. Shit, let go. Look, where are your parents anyway?" Jack reluctantly let go of the blade. Glaring darkly at the uniformed man. She hated him on principal. Not because he was really being that horrible, but mostly cause she knew she was supposed to. Where she wanted to go in life, uniforms were the enemy. She pulled her cap down over her head a little tighter and adjusted her recently searched bag over her shoulder.

"They told me to get comfortable while they finish up in port." she lied. He didn't seem to really care as long as she co-operated. He annoyedly waved her onto the ship and greeted the next group of travelers.

And that was that. No money, no weapon, no idea what she was doing next. Quite an adventure you've gotten yourself into Jack. She found her cryo-unit and began strapping herself in. It was a lot nicer than the ride she'd had into port, that was for sure. At least she'd get to spend some time in modest, quiet, comfortable luxury on her way there. The captain came round to greet everyone and close up and turn on their units and she was out and on her way.