In a dimly lit room, at the top of a creaky wooden staircase, in an old tavern on the wrong side of town, a young woman stared at herself in a dirty, cracked mirror. It was unusual for this particular girl to waste time in self-contemplation. Every day she wore the same dirty clothes, and the same dirty face always looked back at her, so she rarely bothered to glance at the mirror on the wall. She knew that the face was pale and drawn, with high cheekbones and large blue eyes, the sunken cheeks below them giving her a malnourished appearance. But these features were not what had her attention now. It was her hair, once long and curling, that now lay flat against her head and just reached her jaw line. She had hacked it off moments before with a rather dull knife, and the act had completed her transformation. In the past few weeks, as she lay in the dark and plotted her escape, it had crossed her mind many times that, for once, she was glad to have no truly feminine features. Her lashes were not curled like clock springs, nor her chest ample, and she had little feminine figure to flatter, even had her dresses not been 3 sizes too big. Her hair had been her one defining feature, and now it was gone. The girl drew in a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Gone too was Nicole. In her place stood Nick, the cabin boy.

Nicole hated lying. Nick would be a lie. There were so many things that she had to change. Her gender didn't bother her as much. The men in the tavern always managed to make her regret having been born a girl anyway. And boys' clothes were more practical. The loss of her hair was what bothered her most. She had been so proud of it. Silly to think that such a small thing had been so important to her. It was only hair; and it would grow back. But it was the one thing Nicole had liked about herself. Well, that should make it that much easier to leave Nicole behind, shouldn't it? She asked herself. Another deep breath, and then a silent flurry of activity. She shoved the dull knife into her belt, pulled on her jacket and hat (both stolen from customers sleeping down in the bar), and tossed her knapsack over her shoulder. She opened the door to the hallway just a crack, and looked to make sure that no one was awake and wandering around. Then she slipped out into the hallway like a shadow, silent and hidden in the dark. She stepped down the stairs, avoiding each and every creaking spot that she had committed to memory in the last weeks, and crept across the open room. She had to step over a few sleeping drunks, but they didn't bother her—she knew that nothing short of an explosion could wake them now. Then she was at the door, and the thumping of her heart in her chest nearly drowned out all of her other senses; she swung the door slowly inward and slipped through it, whispering goodbye to her previous life.

She walked cautiously out into the street as the twin suns rose slowly over the distant horizon. Breathing deeply of the fresh air, she savored the sweet taste of freedom before heading to the docks that would be Nick's ticket off Montressor Spaceport.

A/N: Please let me know if you want to read more. I am a little stuck after this point, and I need to know that there are people who want to read more. I know that it's only a prologue, but if you can, please review. Also, to any copyright hounds: a different version of this story was posted before, under the name Lunachick. That was me, and this is my story, so don't yell at me about stealing. I just forgot the password to that account...

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