NUMBER THE STARS

My first Broken Sky fic…i hope everyone likes it. To anyone who cares, Estrella means "star" and the password is "the stars illuminate the night". Pretty huh?

Chapter One

Estrella walked carefully along the beach, using only the light of the stars to guide her way. She had been on this path so often that she had the route memorized anyway.

She saw the guards approaching and ducked away to avoid them, their flashlight beams grazing the sand around her. She glanced up, waiting for her chance to get away.

They left and she darted out again. Finally she reached the spot she'd been searching for. It was very hidden, out of the way, and she moved the covering stone aside, to reveal a small, hidden hole. Not very easy to get into for a grown adult, but not difficult for someone as small and thin as herself.

The girl placed her feet in first, sliding in and moving to make herself go down faster, evantually, her feet found the rung steps and she took the stone, moving it back over herself as she went down.

The operation had to be quickly and carefully executed. Once inside, it was slightly damp and very dark. She picked her way carefully, and went to the door. It opened to a cavern, with a long walk underground leading toward Alejandro's house. The doors could only be opened from the outside.

She found the door, and knocked lightly against it. She listened for the password.

"Las estrellas illumuninan la noche," answered the voice of her father. She smiled, and opened the door. It only took her a little over a minute to do so, and then he stepped inside. With him were some new trainees, a man and his son as well. The man looked a little older than her father, his son looking a little younger than Estrella herself.

This night was the practice run for him, the easy way. The next time, he'd have to go with her and then it would be harder.

"What do I do now?" he whispered to her in heavily accented English, edging closer.

"Just watch," she whispered back, "and do what I do."

The men were inspecting the crates, checking to make sure everything that should be there was there. Esrella took the boy's hand and led him toward the boats. "What's your name?" she asked him. "And how old are you?"

"Hector," he said, "I'm almost 12, y tu?"

"I'm Estrella," she smiled, "I'm 14."

"What do we do?" he asked her, nervous.

"They wait here, while we go. The boats have to be taken along a certain path, but don't worry, with how dark it is and how hidden it is we won't be caught unless la policia knows exactly where to look for us, so pray that we haven't been snitched out." She paused, trying to ease the muscle pain in her back. It had been hurting her a lot lately. At least with the shirt she wore no would could see…

"Then, when we get to the meeting spot, we stop the boats. The place we're going is small and tight, that's why we need to do it. Because adults are too big and slow. Once we have the drugs, we come back and probably won't be called for a while. Lo tienes?"

He nodded, fear flashing in his eyes. "Yeah."

She gave him a friendly smile. "It's ok, nothing will go wrong, I've been doing these runs since I was 10 I know what to do."

In a little while everything was ready and they went out to the boats. Estrella only ever took 2 things with her. The first was strapped on to her thigh under her clothes, a wallet covered in plastic to make it waterproof and inside was some money, pictures, numbers to call in emergency, and other personal items. The other was a bag, not very large, in fact more of a shoulder bag than anything else but it held a change of clothes and a few items.

Should she get lost, or fall, these things would help her. She made a mental note to tell Hector to make a bag as well for future excusions.

They set out. The path she knew very well, as she had told him, and she knew how to manuever along the currents. Hector was interested and asked many questions. She answered, partly because she wanted to tell him anything he would need to know to complete the runs, and partly because she was used to doing it alone and she enjoyed the company.

However, usually the distance between them was too great to talk, since neither would talk above a whisper. When the distance closed again, he asked her what to do if he was alone and got lost.

"Look up," she said. "You will usually leave at the same time we left tonight. Where is the moon?"

"To my right," he said. "But we're not going there."

"I mean the other moon," she smiled. "It's what we call it. See," she pointed directly behind them. It was a set of lights, probably from casinos and other such things, but they gathered in the sky in a certain way that almost seemed circular, a red moon. "It's a straight line. Either you move directly away from it, or directly toward it, depending on where you're going. You'll be fine."

He said something in thanks and the distance widened again. The reached their destination and got out. Estrella was first, and showed him how to hide the boat. They went into another hidden passage, small and cramped. A person over 5"4 would not be able to fit through it.

Estrella knew she was getting older. She would be 15 in eight months, and although she was short for her age, she was 5"2, and she knew that she would keep growing, develop, and evantually reach 16. That would be the end of her career as a runner. Part of her was happy that she would no longer be on the beck and call of the drug dealers, but another larger part was concerned about how she would be able to get money to support her and her father.

They were waiting at the end, she smiled with relief. The crate was really quite heavy, and starting to hurt her back quite a bit. Hector, to his credit, was only grunting a bit but bearing the pain.

They were pulling them along in sort of wagons similar to those used to pull children only much bigger. When they stopped, their burden was taken and they were paid. She kept the money hidden, not going to show where she put it until they were out of sight.

The taller one leered at her, and she, feeling sick, turned away from him. She took Hector's hand and went back down, hearing him laugh behind her.

"Who are they?" Hector asked.

"Assholes," she answered. "Assholes who pay us. And if anyone asks you've never seen them before. Or me for that matter."

"Got it," he said.

She noticed he was shivering, he had only worn a long-sleeved shirt and jacket. It was cold over the waters, Estrella usually wore a long-sleeved shirt, a vest, a sweater, a sweatshirt, and a big coat on top with gloves. For pants, she wore tights, thick socks, warm jeans, and boots. Another part of the run he'd have to learn.

"Here," she said, taking off her coat and sweatshirt, passing him the grey hoodie. "Wear this, and remember to wear more next time."

"Thank you," he said.

After that, they didn't see each other for a while. Estrella attended school normally, skipped a few classes, went to see movies with friends, etc. She did another run by herself a few weeks later, but it was nearly 2 months before she had another run with Hector. One she would never forget.

It began normally. Her father didn't go this time because he was sick, and instead she met with Hector's father and another man she recognized btu didn't know the name of. She smiled at Hector and he smiled back. When they went to prepare she realized he was drunk.

Shit, she thought. She'd have to stay close to him them, to make sure he didn't do anything stupid.

The run went as normal, and she landed easily. She looked around and couldn't find him. Shit. Either he was working for the cops or he'd gotten his drunk self lost.

She weighed her options. She didn't want him to go see the men waiting alone, so she decided she would spare 10 minutes looking for him. If she didn't find him she'd deliver and get the hell out of there.

She went along the path, searching. She found he had stopped, leaning on the side of the boat, throwing up.

"Hector," she hissed.

He looked up. "I don't feel so good, can you help me?"

She sighed and went to him, guiding the boat closer. Turning off the nearly silent engine she told him that she'd already unloaded her crate and to get in her boat and tie a rope to the stern and pass it over to her and she would tie it to her boat and pull him along.

Grateful, he nodded, and she went to his boat, carrying her bag. He stood up too fast and it began to rock threatening. "Slower," she hissed, "Be careful!"

The warning fell on deaf ears. He fell, and the entire thing tipped over.

She didn't have time to scream, water filled her mouth and lunf immediately. The crate was falling on top of her, pushing her down. She fought and cursed the fact that she had never learned to swim properly.

She heard a rushing sound, as though the water was becoming clearer like light and then suddenly nothing.

She kicked her way up, and strong hands—not the hands of a 12-year-old—pulled her up. She gasped, coughing, and he covered her mouth. "Be quiet," he said. "Are you trying to get the Snapper's attention?"

Chapter one!! I hope you weren't too bored, I just needed to explain how Estrella got to…the broken sky world. Anyway. I hope it fits together ok because this is really just a dream I had and I'm making it a story because the dream kind of ended with Whist "rescuing" me. So it gave a lot to work with.

Tell me what you think and please Review!!