(inspired by Aesop's "The Lion and the Mouse")

by Allronix

Newly hired by Davik, and already he hated his job.

Canderous didn't want to see the fear in the eyes of these slum dwellers as he patrolled his route with his large canon, looking for the folks who couldn't pay Davik's so-called "loans," or cough up "protection money" for their homes and ramshackle businesses.

He was on his self-appointed lunch break, slurping down noodles in over-salted broth. The Sullistan that owned the noodle shack always paid on time. He was just finishing up when someone in the corner caught his eye.

Twi'lek. Blue-skinned. Not quite past the girl stage, and barely getting a start on some curves, but Davik liked them rather young anyway. He never understood Davik's predilections. Give him a Mandalorian woman - big chest, broad hips, and grown to full measure. The girl was intent on fiddling with some gadget and likely wouldn't notice him. Not like she had a chance to fight him off anyway. Maybe Davik would cough up that back pay if he was able to deliver a new "toy" to his harem.

Worth a shot.

Not wanting to cause a scene in the noodle shack, he watch as she finished what she was doing and left. He followed, but trying to keep her in his sights while she twisted and climbed her way through the twisted back alleys was a nice diversion. He hadn't tracked two-legged prey since the War, and hadn't been doing much for tracking since.

She must have been onto him because her route became more circuitous, leading farther into Bek turf. She probably wasn't a full Bek, as she wasn't sporting their colors. Maybe she was trying to find their base and appeal to Gandon's too-generous nature. But she was obviously scared, and it was making her careless. Running a little further, she sensed him closing in and tried to climb a fence at the end of the alley, only to slip and fall to the ground as he loomed above him. He was right there to corner her - oversize gun pointing right at her.

"Name, kid," he growled.

"M…Mission," she stammered. "You…you're that Ordo guy working for Davik? I…I don't owe him money. Griff left the planet two weeks ago. I'm…I'm not who you want…"

"Doesn't matter, girlie. You're coming with me." He grinned evilly. "Your kind makes decent joy-girls, I hear. And best get broken in early."

She was trying to crawl away, but his threat gave her a surprising amount of resolve. "I'd rather you shoot me than make one of those out of me." She gestured to his cannon. "Go ahead, you schutta. I dare you."

Dare me? Gods, this little one has a spine, at least.

"And you let me go, and I'll make it up to you. Cross my heart."

Canderous lost the battle to smile. He pulled the gun away and shouldered it. "Make it up to me, street rat?"

She nodded.

He broke into a well-needed laugh. How could this little street kid help him out? How…ludicrous. Hell, the belly laugh was worth the day's pay!

"I doubt it. But I'm laughing. You can go."

"Thanks, Mister. You will get that favor. Promise!" Seizing the opportunity presented by his shift in mood, Mission darted off into the shadows of the Lower City.

Two years later….

"Damn!" Canderous banged the loading ramp to the Ebon Hawk. He and this little woman calling herself Kairi had fought their way past Davik's entire security squad, grabbed the launch codes, and were now in the hangar bay as the Sith bombardment started.

But Davik had time to change the codes on the loading ramp. Seemed that either he would get off Taris, or no one would. The ground quaked violently beneath his feet and screams were filling his ears as he choked on the black smog. Not even the little droid could slice the lock due to a hidden protocol put in not to override any command given directly by Davik, including lockouts.

An airspeeder darted into the hangar bay, and Canderous saw who was coming. Kairi, of course, and that Republic man she may or may not be sleeping with. There was that Jedi that was won in the swoop race, too. He recognized the large Wookiee as he jumped out, followed by Mission.

That little street rat was well on her way to being a good -looking woman by now. She somehow picked up the Wookiee a month or so after Canderous had first encountered her. Frankly, if she was fighter enough to team up with two and a half meters of walking fur, and brawl rakghouls regularly, then she was officially off the list of joy-girl material. Still, whenever they'd crossed paths, Mission still promised him a big favor.

She darted ahead to him, and he waved her off.

"Get underground. Get out of here. We're doomed. The ship's sealed."

Mission scowled and yanked over a computer panel under the controls. Canderous made to grab her. Maybe she didn't hear him.

"I said -"

"I heard you!" she yelled back. She made a quick scan of the panel, and the code in the lockout plan. She reached in her jacket. Not for a blaster, he hoped. He knew the ship too well - the "universal keycard" wasn't going to fly here. Davik planned for it.

No, it was one of those gadgets of hers. Oddly enough…it looked like the one she was tinkering with in the Sullistan's noodle shack. She jammed its two probes to the wires underneath.

The ramp opened. She motioned to him to get inside. Not being a fool, he did. He charged up the loading ramp, but stopped to acknowledge her with a nod. Once everyone was aboard, the Republic fellow and Jedi made for the cockpit and started the launch sequence. The ramp folded up as the two of them sat in the cargo hold, catching their breath.

"Told ya, Canderous…" she said. "Told you I'd make it up to you."

"So you did," he said.