You Must (Not) Let Go
(I love this title and I'm not changing it)
This time it was an adorable little Padawan, full of sunshine and excitement. Sera Khan had been ambling home through the quiet residential streets of Skybase Station from the Market Quarter early that morning, bag of groceries for the week in one hand and a box with a pastry each from their favourite bakery on the station in the other. The slight incline of the long street (some engineering thing she didn’t quite understand) made her muscles burn with the exertion but she liked the way it made the narrow walkways almost scenic. Not many people were about, most already at work or taken a shuttle to one of the planetary schools. Mrs Bima from next door had been kissing her grandson, Vani, goodbye for the day when she’d stumbled out their front door this morning, mismatched and creased clothes chosen more for comfort than for style and an old pair of slops on her feet. She hadn’t even bothered to wear her visor for her eye that had been damaged in the war. She was tired. Not crushingly so but she was glad that they had a couple days off with nothing to do other than a few chores and make sure they were on track for the jobs they’d been hired to do the following week.
She sighed and rolled her neck, easing the tension in her muscles. The unknown obstruction that had complicated their last job (maintenance of a large scale irrigation system on an agricultural planet) had turned out to be decades of leaves entering the filtration system and slowly transforming into a wad of very nutritious, very smelly sludge that had expelled itself very rapidly onto her and Bastila when they’d finally dislodged it. They’d advised the planet’s manager to check and clear to filters for debris every week (well, Sera had explained patiently and persistently while Bastila seethed and glared in the background, covered in rotten leaf slime) and headed straight for the Hawk’s refresher. When that had proven only mildly effective, their skin tinged a faint dirty green and the smell having worked its way into every pore, they set a course for home to make use of their apartment’s only slightly larger shower and the station’s more generous water supply. It had taken longer than either of them would care to admit and Sera still wasn’t completely certain that they were odour-free but, in the end, they had collapsed into bed, weary and glad to be home.
Sera smiled, thinking of waking up that morning next to Bastila, her face still pressed into the pillow where it had landed last night, hair in disarray, hand reaching blindly for Sera in the night, and felt a familiar swell of contentment in her heart.
That was how she walked into the kid, head down, thinking of the gorgeous brunette waiting at home for her to return with breakfast, not seeing the obstruction in her path before she ploughed into it.
“Shit, sorry, didn’t see you there,” Sera said, shifting the packet in her hand to steady the smaller individual, blurry and glitchy in the vision of her damaged eye.
“Oh, no, not a problem.” The individual, whom Sera could see was a young Twi’lek now, brightened when she saw who had bumped into her. “My Master always said that the Force would guide me if I trusted in its Will! I have been sent to find you and…”
“Look,” Sera said, unease building in her stomach, “we both really appreciate your concern but my partner and I are happy and peaceful in our life together and neither of us is interested in rejoining the Order.” She hoped that would be enough to dissuade the kid.
“But, don’t you see? The Force wouldn’t have guided me here unless I was meant to find you and convince you to once more take up your mantle as one of its Servants. How can a simple life with all its attendant drudgery ever compare to one filled with nothing but service to the Light Side of the Force?” The young Padawan’s face was glowing with fervent sincerity.
Sera winced. “I think you just answered your own question, kid.” She shook her head “There is nothing that you can say to convince either of us of anything that hasn’t already been said by all the other Jedi that have come around pestering us. So…” She shrugged and started walking away, annoyed that the kid could get under her skin so easily.
The Padawan hurried to keep up. “You don’t understand. The Order cannot stand without its centre! You are the Jedi Revan, our only hope, the vessel of all our ambitions. You have to come back and take your rightful place amongst the Jedi!”
Sera froze, her ears ringing, then whirled on the kid. “What did you just call me?”
“A True Jedi has no need of a concubine,” she continued, uncaring of the bomb she’d just thrown in Sera’s face. “Leave your life of licentiousness with Bastila Shan and help us cleanse the Order of its weakness and indecision. If she is worthy, then she will understand that you are called to something higher than the life of a mere drudge and will not mourn your loss but rejoice your ascension to a life of greatness, Revan!” the Padawan finished with a triumphant flourish.
“Stop calling me that!” she snapped. “That’s not… That’s not who I am anymore!” She started walking faster. Her legs burned from the effort. Their apartment seemed so fucking far away now. Who’s damn bright idea had it been to make these fucking streets so long?
“How can you deny it?” The Padawan’s voice was steadily rising. “Was it not you who crushed the Mandalorians when they threatened the Republic, fulfilling the promise of all your training, all that the Jedi Order imbued you with? Did you not show the Jedi Council the full breadth of your might, the wisdom of your leadership when you set yourself against the crumbling Republic? Or when you rose from the ashes to strike back at the Betrayer, Malak?” The kid didn’t seem in any hurry to stop. Where was that fucking door?! “You can’t run from what you are, Revan! You have wrought great change upon the galaxy before and you will do so again. It is the Will of the Force. You can’t hide from that!”
Sera reached their front door and slapped it open with a whimper of relief. “Oh yeah? Fucking watch me!” she yelled as the door snapped shut in the Padawan’s face.
She stood shaking in the entranceway to their tiny apartment, eyes closed and hands trembling as she listened intently for signs that her accoster was going to try and force an entry, force Sera to listen to her truth. There was silence for a frighteningly long time, or so it seemed, the weight of the young Padawan’s presence pressing heavily onto Sera, crushing her slowly. Then there was a barely audible sigh and then the muffled tapping of the Padawan’s boots against the non-slip flooring of the station.
Sera fell back against the door, legs boneless as the adrenaline drained out of her. She panted, face damp with sweat, feeling like she’d run a marathon. She shakily pushed herself off the door, kicked off her shoes and walked into the main living area. Bastila was waiting for her there on the couch, dark hair curling softly around her shoulders and face as she read her datapad, bare legs that had so often driven Sera insane tucked neatly under her. But Sera wasn’t able to enjoy any of it. Her heart was still racing from her encounter and her mind was buzzing with a thousand anxious thoughts.
Bastila looked up. “Are you alright, love? I can feel,” she tapped her chest, “your heart is pounding. Did something happen?”
Sera opened her mouth, struggling to force the words out. “Just, uh…” How to explain? How to explain when she was still trying to process it herself. “Just the walk, I guess.” She turned to put the groceries down, annoyed with herself for not being able to tell her partner what happened, still unable to do so despite all of her self-directed annoyance.
“Hmm… Ah, well.” Bastila didn’t sound convinced but she dropped the subject, trusting Sera to tell her if it was important. Sera hated herself for betraying that trust over something so petty as an annoying encounter with a Jedi. “I was just reading the note Jolee sent,” she continued, indicating the datapad in her hands. “Can you believe they have him teaching ethics to the older students? I can’t imagine that he doesn’t skip out on them half the time.”
Sera smiled weakly and retrieved two plates for their pastries. “Tea or caf, babe?”
“Tea, if you don’t mind, love,” she said with a smile before going back to her reading. Sera popped a bag in her own mug as well, knowing that her brain needed the opposite of alertness right now. She closed her eyes and spent the time their tea was steeping focusing on the distant noise of the station going about its business, the feel of the countertop beneath her palms, the quiet, familiar sound of Bastila breathing. “You can’t run from what you are, Revan!” She flinched, a chill running down her spine, and stared into the depths of their tea. Why do they always approach me when I’m on my own? Ignoring the kath hounds trying to tear each other apart in her stomach, Sera removed the bags from each mug and took them and the plates over to where her girlfriend was sitting. Who frowned when Sera took the single armchair instead of snuggling up next to her as she usually would.
“Something happened. I can tell.” Bastila shifted in her seat to reach over and run gentle fingers through Sera’s hair. “Tell me so we can deal with this together like we always do,” she finished softly, cupping Sera’s cheek in the palm of her hand and running her thumb over Sera’s lips.
Sera closed her eyes and leaned into her beloved’s hand, soaking in the warmth of everything they’d built between the two of them. She opened her eyes to respond… and caught sight of the faint scars ringing Bastila’s neck from where Malak had chained her up and tortured her and tortured her, brutally for days, until he broke her so much that she forswore everything she believed in, turning on everything she loved in a black, depressive rage. My fault. My former friend. My route that got intercepted. My fault. She barely caught herself before she flinched guiltily away from her partner's touch and sat back slowly in her chair, pulling herself out of Bastila's reach.
None of this escaped her sharp-eyed partner’s notice. Bastila was staring at her intently, clearly trying to work out what the fuck her girlfriend’s damage was. Sera fought hard not to squirm under the scrutiny, reminding herself that Bastila didn’t mean to make her feel like she was being dissected like an insect. It just felt that way.
“There was a, uh…” She swallowed. This is stupid. It wasn’t a big deal! “There was a Jedi kid trying to entice us back and it, uh…” She ran a hand through her hair. “It freaked me out, I guess,” she mumbled. “I told her no,” she finished as if the answer would have been anything else.
“What, again? And here?” Bastila sat up, alarmed, and turned sharply towards their front door as if expecting to see the intrusive Jedi waiting to strike. “They really are getting desperate, aren’t they? I wonder if the rumours of Jedi being struck down by Sith assassins are true?”
“Can we not talk about the Sith today, please?” Sera said, blood draining from her cheeks, acid roiling in her stomach. She could feel Bastila giving her that look again and she felt so tiny. “Please can we just enjoy today for what it is?”
Bastila was silent for a long moment. “Alright… But I want to get to the bottom of this later.” Sera loved Bastila’s stubbornness. It was one of the integral parts of her personality and it was frequently very sexy. But it could also be a damned pain sometimes. Damn Jedi, ruining my day. But even as she thought it, she couldn’t silence the tiny voice within her saying that it was all her fault, every single bad thing that was happening to her. And that she deserved it.
They ate their breakfast in silence, Bastila nibbling at her pastry while casting worried glances at Sera who merely sipped at her now cold tea. Sera knew that she wasn’t helping things but she was having trouble finding the strength to kick her anxieties in the ass and act more like herself. If that really is yourself and not just a mask you’ve constructed to fool everyone into liking you. Sera gritted her teeth. She also wished that her brain would shut the fuck up!
“Are you going to eat that?” Bastila’s sudden query startled Sera out of her reverie.
She sat for a moment, uncertain how to respond. “We were going to watch a holo later, weren’t we? I’ll keep it for then. I don’t think I’ll enjoy it now.” She pasted her best attempt at a playful scowl on her face, trying desperately to be the woman Bastila fell in love with. “Stop trying to steal food out of my mouth, woman.”
A relieved smile spread across Bastila’s face. Apparently, her weak attempt at a joke had been enough. Bastila grabbed her hand and gave it a tight squeeze, projecting as much affection as she could. “I thought what was yours was mine, darling?” she said lightly. Then she sobered. “Are you sure that you’re alright?”
“Of course,” Sera lied. “Please,” she said to Bastila’s unimpressed face. “I can’t at the moment.”
“Okay,” Bastila said in that deceptively light tone of hers. She looked like she wanted to say something, Sera could practically feel the words on her lips, but she merely shook her head. “Mrs Bima wanted to know if you wouldn’t mind helping Vani with his history project later this evening after he’s back from limmie practice.”
Sera blinked. “Yeah, sure. Although, I’m not sure how much help I’ll be.”
“Are we really going to do this?” Bastila gestured back and forth between the two of them. “Are we really going to just ignore whatever’s bothering you for the entire day?”
“It has nothing to do with you, Bastila,” Sera said through clenched teeth. “Leave it be.”
Bastila stared at her in disbelief. “It has nothing to do with me? Since when has that ever been true?” She pointed an accusatory finger at Sera. “You are the one who has always insisted that we be open and honest with each other -- for the good of our bond, I might add! -- and yet suddenly something that bothers you enough to ruin your appetite is “none of my business”.”
“I--!” Sera rubbed her hands over her face. Her heart was racing and she was having trouble catching her breath. “The Jedi from before wasn’t after us. They were only interested in…” She gestured vaguely. “You know…” She shivered. The whole topic was making her insides go cold.
“They wanted Revan?” Bastila’s eyes flashed. “How dare they bring that up after so long! I have half a mind to send the Jedi Council a strongly worded letter!”
“What the hell good is that going to do, Bastila?” Sera snapped. “If it’s not them, it’s going to be some poor kid seeking revenge for watching their parents get blown to bits in front of them!”
Bastila was quiet for a long moment. There was a look on her face that Sera couldn’t quite read and she squirmed as Bastila scrutinized her head to toe, probing their bond looking for who knew what. After a final comforting nudge, the pressure against her mind retreated and Sera gasped in relief, hugging her arms to her chest to try to get rid of the sensation of being dissected.
“You don’t think,” Bastila said hesitantly, worry colouring her voice, “that it might be a good idea to give therapy another try?”
Sera blanched. “Why? Do you think I need it?” she said, remembering what had happened the single time she had gone to the therapist recommended by the woman who had helped Bastila with the aftereffects of being tortured by Malak. She rolled her shoulders restlessly, not liking the leaden feeling settling over her.
“It can’t hurt to try, can it, love?” Bastila said gently. “I don’t like seeing you this way.”
“How do you even know that it’ll do anything?” she cried. “What happens when I explain everything to a therapist and at the end of it all they shrug and say “sorry, can’t help an actual literal monster”. And that’s assuming they don’t call the police then and there!”
“Sera--!” Bastila sighed and rubbed her eyes in frustration. “You are not a monster. There are far worse people out there than you ever were.”
“Who?” she demanded. “Go on, name them! I want to hear about all these people who are worse than the person who dragged the galaxy into war and ruined the lives of hundreds of billions of people!”
Sera waited and watched Bastila search for an answer before throwing up her hands helplessly. She pointed her finger at her lover in grim triumph.
“This doesn’t prove anything!” Bastila snarled. “Just because I can’t think of anybody, doesn’t mean there aren’t millions of terrible people out there!”
“Somebody has to be the worst person, Bastila, and that person just so happens to be me!” She poked a finger at her girlfriend. “Just because you’re blinded by your feelings for me, doesn’t change anything!”
“What do you want me to do about that then?” Bastila said, slapping her hand away. “Do you want me to leave you just to satisfy your twisted sense of morality, is that it?”
“Maybe you should!” Sera’s blood ran cold the instant her own words hit her ears. Bastila stared at her in utter shock. Sera felt something crumpling inside herself and she pushed herself out of her chair and towards the front door rather than face Bastila’s answer.
“I’m going to get the grinder pump from Dua Sovv’s place for the Pashna job,” she said, snatching her wallet from the counter where she’d left it and pushing her feet roughly into the old slops.
“Don’t think you can just walk away from me after saying something like that!” Bastila’s voice vibrated with fury and Sera could feel a faint tendril of the Force winding around her to hold her in place. She shook it off and opened the door.
“I just need to cool down. I’ll be back later.” She stepped outside hurriedly. Behind her, she heard something crash against their door accompanied by a frustrated growl.
The trip down to the hangar passed by in a flash, the turbolift doors snapping shut behind her as she strode quickly towards the Hawk, her hurried footsteps drowning out the rapid thudding of her heart before it even crossed her mind to worry about running into the Jedi kid again. But no one bothered her and she was away from the station, stars streaking past the Ebon Hawk as she initiated her jump, in no time at all.
She was not an hour into her trip when she realized what a fucking idiot she was. Her heart rate had eventually slowed and her sense of accomplishing something useful well ahead of time had faded, leaving her alone in an empty ship in her “day off” clothes with no way to turn back and no way to send a message home until the ship completed its calculated jump in another couple hours. She let her face sink into her hands and groaned. The day would be nearly over by the time she made it back to Skybase Station to face her fuming girlfriend. That’s if she’s still there. Sera shivered and pressed her hands more tightly against her face, trying to hold the panic and despair that threatened to overwhelm her.
“Statement: Master! I did not realize that we were scheduled to make another trip so soon after our last thrilling adventure in murdering foetid plantlife and moving heavy farming equipment.” She jumped a little, the assassin droid’s quiet approach taking her by surprise in her gloomy state. He regarded her with his baleful red eyes. “Are we on our way to slaughter something? Are we to finally break our tedious streak of peace and solitude and engage in some uncomplicated violence? Oh, please say it is so, Master!”
A furious whistling from knee height stopped her from answering as T3 butted into HK angrily, squawking out a reprimand.
“Statement: Flee you little tin can before the Master lets me send you to the scrap pile!” HK-47 aimed a heavy, metallic kick at the smaller droid, which T3 nimbly dodged, beeping and chattering indignantly at his murderous companion.
Sera groaned, then sighed. Then groaned again when something struck her. “You’re both here! And not at the apartment!”
T3 and HK’s heads spun around from where stood by the navcomputer, HK midway through an nth attempt to pry the disk of T3’s head from his body. T3 booped a query, his head wobbling in HK’s grasp.
“Statement: The trash can is correct, Master. Is it not your usual practice to leave us to languish in solitude and disuse here on this ship during one of your days of fornication with your human female?” He tilted his head at Sera. “It is a cruel fate you bestow upon us, Master.”
“No, that wasn’t--!” She sighed heavily, then thumped herself heavily on the skull with her knuckles. “Rocks! This thing is full of nothing but rocks!” she muttered angrily at herself. “There’s been talk about Jedi getting attacked and I left Bastila alone in our apartment! I can’t believe how stupid I am!”
Sera could hear his servos and motors working as he considered her. “Query: But, Master, Jedi get attacked at a frequency far surpassing that of other people. That is why they might attract the services of excellently designed and lethally efficient protocol droids, Master.”
She rubbed her face, feeling tired. “It’s probably nothing. Juhani just sent us a note about some odd rumors she’d heard, which she wouldn’t do if she didn’t think things were serious.” She didn’t bring up all the weird, aggressive comments she and Bastila had received in the years since they’d left the Order. She wrapped her arms around herself tightly, trying to squash down the sudden cold feeling in her stomach. “Anyway, I’m sure it’s nothing,” she repeated, failing to convince herself. “I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
The little astromech booped worriedly at her.
“Don’t worry, T3,” she said, pulling herself together. “We’ll be back to check on her in no time.”
An evil glint entered HK’s mechanical eyes. “Statement: The perpetrators of these heinous attacks are truly a menace to the fabric of society. We should hunt them down and murder them, Master.”
“I’m not looking to borrow trouble, HK.”
“Query: Is that why the human female kicked you out, Master?”
“She didn’t kick me out!” she said, indignantly. “I--” Ran away like a chump because a kid spoiled my day. And now my head’s starting to ache because I didn’t eat breakfast… She scowled to cover her sudden sense of loss and shame. “Besides, that barely came up.”
T3 whistled an innocent query at her.
Sera winced. “No, I wasn’t planning on going out. That’s why I look like this.”
“Commentary: I understand, Master. It can be difficult for those of us built for violence and death to adjust to to these trying times of peace and prosperity.”
“I’ve been doing alright,” she grumbled.
“Clarification: That may be so, Master. However, my servos do so long to engage in the occasional bloodbath! Is that so unreasonable, Master? Can you not find it in your heart to start a teensy-weensy genocide, Master? For your loyal droid?”
Sera glared at the droid, ignoring the familiar twinge of guilt that she was denying him something that was only a part of his programming. Programming that she had created. “Absolutely not!”
HK sighed dramatically. “Resignation: Very well, Master. I shall abide by your wishes and wait for the rust to take me.”
Dua Sovv took one look at her sorry appearance and laughed in her face.
“Girlfriend kick you out?”
Sera put on a good-humoured grimace even though she felt like nothing more than bursting into tears. “Is it that obvious?” Like, is it tattooed onto my forehead or something…
They grinned around the pipe held between their teeth, fragrant smoke curling around Sera like a hug. “Kid, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone come to my shop in their pyjamas.”
“You think I sleep like this,” she plucked at her tatty t-shirt, “when I have such a pretty girl in bed with me every night?”
Dua roared with laughter. “I think that pretty girl of yours adores you and doesn’t give two shits how you look!”
Try as she might, Sera couldn’t stop a choked sob escaping her. “Fuck, I don’t know, Dua. I’ve been a real ass this time.” She slapped at her ragged form in frustration. “I mean, look at me! I say stupid things and then I run off, half-dressed, without any breakfast, without my visor so I can’t fucking see anything properly! It’s a fucking miracle I’m not running around with my literal ass hanging out the way I’m acting!” She thumped her head down on the countertop, the coldness of the metal giving her something to focus on rather than her own painful stupidity.
A strong hand patted her comfortingly on the shoulder. “Why don’t you use the comm station in my office to call home and apologise to Bastila while I get my crew to load up your order onto your ship. Go on,” the hand gave her a firm nudge until she stood up again, “it’s through there.” Dua indicated the way she should go with a jerk of their thumb as they ambled towards the parts yard out back. “Grinder pump, right?”
Sera rubbed away the moisture that had leaked out of her eyes with the heel of her hand. “Yeah, the X80 series one, not that fucking float thing they had before that clogged up every two seconds!”
“I’m glad you have strong plumbing opinions, my friend. And remember!” they yelled as the disappeared out the door into the sunny yard, “It was all your fault and you’re very, very sorry, even if it wasn’t!”
Oh, I’m very clear whose fault this all is… She shook her head roughly, then shook out her limbs for good measure, as the familiar cold, leaden feeling stole over her again. Taking a deep breath, she stepped gingerly into Dua’s office, feeling awkward intruding on someone else’s space. The place was piled up with more flimsiplast than Sera felt completely comfortable being so near the many parts filled with highly combustible fluids only a flimsy bit of drywall away but it clearly didn’t bother Dua one bit, so who was she to judge?
She gathered up the stack of overstuffed binders atop Dua’s comm station and set them down in a neat pile next to it before keying in the code for their home comm. And waited. And waited. The shrill, repetitive ringing of the dialling tone ate away at her insides the longer it went on unanswered. Sera tucked her arms tightly against herself to stop herself from hitting the disconnect button. If she wanted to hear her lover’s voice (which she did desperately!), she would just have to suck it up and wait.
The comm station clicked and the tone stopped playing. Unit unavailable, please try again later. Sera swallowed thickly. She shifted uncomfortably side to side. There were plenty of reasons that Bastila wouldn't be there to take her call. Fuck, she wasn't an indentured servant, bound to stay stuck in their apartment, waiting patiently for her Master's call! She was probably just taking a nap or had gone out for a walk or something. But the image of an empty apartment, all of Bastila’s belongings packed up neatly for removal, had wormed its way deep into her skull and she couldn’t do anything to stop the idea that Bastila had left her twisting her insides into a tight knot.
The sound of Dua clattering back into the shop startled Sera back to reality, the sudden noise granting her a reprieve from her own spiralling thoughts. Shuffling back into the shop, she arranged her face into a pleasant smile, hoping her expression wouldn’t give away the knots of anxiety twisting up her insides.
“There was no response.” She decided that it was better to steer the conversation in a direction that she wanted rather than rely on others to avoid uncomfortable topics. “She’s probably gone out for a run or doing some errands. I’m sure she’ll be back later,” she said, repeating her earlier thoughts more for her own benefit than for anyone else.
Dua frowned. “You sure you don’t want to try again, kid? It’s no trouble.”
The thought of calling again, enduring the shrill sound of the dialling tone droning on and on, waiting for Bastila to pick up, not knowing if she would, not knowing what she’d say if she did… “No, thanks, I, uh, I’d rather get home as quick as possible and apologize in person.” Sera gave her best attempt at a sheepish smile. “I’m sure I’m in enough trouble as it is without being late for dinner as well.”
“If you think that’s best…” They fixed Sera with an intense look, concern in their black eyes. “You know I’ll, like, be there for you if anything happens or anything. You know, if you, like,” they rubbed the back of their neck, clearly not completely comfortable with being so emotionally open, “need to talk about stuff or anything, I’ll be willing to, you know, lend an ear. And stuff.”
The clear concern from someone who was really only an acquaintance, even if a very good one, warmed Sera’s heart and helped to clear some of the misery from her mind. “Thanks, mate. I really appreciate that.”
Dua cleared their throat and waved her thanks aside, radiating embarrassment. They waved Sera over to the till and rang up the cost of the part as well as the fee for Dua’s crew to move it into the Hawk’s cargo hold. Sera’s thoughts churned as she transferred the money from her and Bastila’s shared business account, thinking of Dua’s offer of a sympathetic ear and Bastila’s suggestion of therapy.
“You ever done something that you regret?” she asked, head down, eyes fixed on the receipt she was signing.
“What, you mean like cheat on your girlfriend or somethi-- okay, I guess not,” Dua said, cutting themselves off when they caught the look on Sera’s face. “How bad are we talking here?”
I shouldn’t have brought this up. “Uh, I guess, kind of… Well, you see…”
“Khan,” they said when she trailed off, “have you done time?”
She smiled thinly, letting them come to their own conclusions. “I tried to see a therapist about it once but, uh…” She let out a short bitter laugh, remembering how hard she’d had to screw up her courage to actually go see the fucker. “I lucked out and got a weirdo.”
Dua seemed to be considering something. Whatever it was was making their face contort into all manner of expressions of consternation. Finally, they crossed their arms and sighed.
“This doesn’t go further than us, okay? Not that I really care, but it’s not my story. Okay?” they repeated, waiting until Sera nodded solemnly, wondering what the hell was coming next. “Right. You know my older brother, Jae?”
Sera thought for a moment. “The one whose youngest had a sickly kid in the hospital? How are they doing, by the way?”
“They’re fine and don’t interrupt my story, kid. Now, this was all a really long time ago but when he was younger Jae made some bad decisions and got involved with some very bad people doing very bad things. He got out of it but the courts didn’t wanna listen to the sob story of a miner’s son who shot someone!” Dua puffed angrily on their pipe, creating a cloud of smoke around them, clearly still peeved at the treatment that their brother had received.
“Anyway!” they continued, “He served his sentence and came out the other end more fucked up than he went in. We all sent him to the best therapist we could afford but he kept getting judgemental pricks. It was, uh…” Dua frowned. “It was a bad there for a while. He couldn’t keep down a job, his marriage was failing. Thought we might lose him for permanent. Then he got lucky one day talking to some guy he just met on the street. Turns out he and a couple of his buddies run a support group for ex-convicts like themselves where they can talk about what they’re going through without any judgement about what they’ve done. It really helped him a lot.”
Sera rubbed the back of her neck thoughtfully, a faint glimmer of hope within the darkness of her mind. “A support group for ex-convicts might not be a bad idea…”
She nearly swallowed her own tongue when she received a hearty slap to the back. “I wouldn’t worry too much about it, kid. After all,” Dua grinned around their pipe, “it’s them that start wars and get kids killed that are the real criminals!”
“Query: Back home to endure a tirade from the Master’s mistress, Master?”
Sera rubbed at her face, weary from the effort of maintaining a cheery disposition until she could retreat to the solitude of her ship. “Yeah, I’ve wasted enough time today as it is.” And I’m starving. And I’m tired and I just wanna get home and cuddle with my woman and have everything be normal again, dammit. “No, wait. There’s a trading depot near here, isn’t there?”
HK consulted the Ebon Hawk’s charts of the region. “Statement: Unfortunately, Master, the one nearby appears to be closed for the owner’s holy day. However, there is an establishment about halfway along our route back to Skybase Station. It would not take long for us to get there.”
Sera glanced over at the map. “It won’t add too much time to our trip home?”
“Statement: Affirmative, Master. The detour will barely add ten minutes to our trip.”
Sera chewed on her lip. Plus another ten or so minutes to dock, make my purchase and leave. “Set the course, HK.”
The trip to the trading depot was spent in frustrated anticipation. Once she decided on the detour, she was anxious to get her extra shopping trip over and done with. And yet she had to sit for over an hour stewing in her own boredom and increasing annoyance at her own decisions. When she started to doubt the wisdom of her little side trip she decided that it was time to ensure that the ship’s pantry was as empty as she thought it was. Surely there must be something to eat on board, some emergency rations or forgotten snacks, something! But there wasn’t, no matter how many crates she overturned or environmental suits coated in leaf slime that she tossed aside, sending a squawking T3 careening out of the hold in alarm. All she could find was a suspect ration bar with the expiry date conveniently worn off that made an odd sound when she tossed it back into the depths of a drawer from whence it came.
Her rampage through the ship had thankfully taken a fair chunk of time and she was hopping out of the barely open loading ramp and walking as fast as she could to the depot after reminding herself to not run like a weirdo, no matter how much she was champing at the bit to get home. Luckily -- luckily for her, probably not for the depot -- there were no crowds for her to contend with, no long queues it seemed like, just a few grannies on hoverchairs and parents with little kids. After some searching, she found where they kept the bunches of flowers and potted plants. She looked along the rows and rows of blossoms and for a moment she was stuck. Was she being stupid and wasting time? Would a simple bunch of flowers really be enough to make up for what she’d said and what she’d done? She stood, thinking about everything her relationship with Bastila meant to her, running her eyes over more different kinds of flowers than she’d ever seen in her life. Did she really want to come back home empty-handed, with no sign that she’d been reflecting on her own behaviour?
Quickly scanning the selection before her, Sera selected the most perfect bunch she could find, what looked like wildflowers, blue in colour. The price meant that she would be unable to buy something to eat on the way back but that would be fine. She’d be home soon anyway.
Taking the bunch that she’d picked to an empty till, the teller glanced over her ragged appearance and the bouquet she was buying.
“Argument with your wife?” the teller said with a genial smile. “Don’t worry, honey. If this doesn’t work, you can always buy her jewellery. I know it always works on me!”
Sera smiled thinly and paid, picking up her flowers and walking quickly out of the depot, not wanting to be reminded of why she was out here on her day off like an asshole. She returned to the ship, setting a sublight course for where she needed to enter hyperspace for her trip home and sat back, looking at the stars surrounding her. She looked at the flowers where they lay on the console in front of her. It wasn’t as easy to see in the dim lighting of the Hawk’s cockpit as it had been in the bright, flat lights of the trading depot but she could still make out the hue of the blossoms, blue shifting to grey and back, like the sky on a cloudy day, the occasional bursts of sunlight breaking through all the more brilliant for its absence. Sera leaned forward, her nose barely touching the soft petals as she inhaled their sweet fragrance.
“They even smell kinda like her...”
A shrilly whistled query behind her made her start. T3 was poking his head into the cockpit, obviously having heard her morose murmurings.
“No, no, I didn’t need anything. I was just, uh, talking to myself.” She waved a hand at the little droid. “You go on back to what you were doing.”
He booped an affirmative and trundled off, chirping something about a signal that he’d detected. She settled back down and checked the time. There was still a little ways to go before they could jump to hyperspace. Then another couple hours and she’d have to face the music. She shivered, thinking about an empty apartment, maybe a terse note informing her of her failings. No! She took a deep breath and expelled it. Bastila wouldn’t do that to her. They had promised each other right back when they were first getting to know each other. Bastila wouldn’t just leave without telling her first. Sera snorted. She would say it directly to my face, make sure I knew exactly what I did wrong. She shook her head to get the thought out. Bastila wasn’t cruel and they had promised to always be open and honest with each other. They would have killed each other all the way back on Dantooine if they hadn’t. She wouldn’t just take Sera’s thoughtless words about them breaking up at face value without them both sitting down and discussing it properly first.
Sera let out a little sob, slapping a hand over her mouth to stop the sound alerting either of the droids. She didn’t want Bastila to leave her! Why had she said something that fucking brainless in the first place? Just because some stupid kid came around asking for… She shivered again, harder this time. Her chest felt icy cold and she couldn’t breathe. She tucked her head between her knees and rocked back and forth, waiting for the feeling to go away. She smacked her hand hard against the divider between the pilots’ seats. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why can’t I deal with this? Why can’t I push it down anymore? It wasn’t like this before, when we first left the Order. The flutter in her gut told her that that was not completely true. There had been that time, that single, solitary time, when something that Bastila had said during, well, “adult fun time” that had cut right through her, reducing her to a quivering, sobbing mess before she even had time to think. It wasn’t even like Bastila had said anything particularly mean while in-character but Sera couldn’t even think the words anymore! Which was really, really irritating because Evil Scoundrel and Righteous Hero was a really fun game to play!
It was after this that Bastila had first suggested that Sera might need to talk to someone. She hadn’t even needed to push that hard, as Sera had been the one that had urged Bastila to seek professional help after they’d rescued her from Malak. So she dutifully made an appointment with the man Bastila’s therapist had recommended, a well-respected individual with many years of experience dealing with a variety of patients, even though the thought of talking to someone about her genuine, innermost feelings went against every single instinct inside of her. Opening up to Bastila had been hard enough. Opening up to a complete stranger made her want to tear her own skin off! But she’d gone because it was important. And he’d…
“You’d be lucky if someone were to murder you in your bed after what you and your kind have done to the galaxy. You and all those that shelter you deserve far worse than you can ever receive. Parasites like you drag everybody down!”
She dug her nails into her scalp, hoping the pain would stop his words and the threat behind them from ringing in her head. But they wouldn’t stop, round and round and round. She started laughing uncontrollably, the bleak mirth vibrating out of the knot of her gut. Not even biting down hard on her fist could stifle the sound and it wasn’t long before there was a hesitant boop behind her.
“He didn’t even know that I was a…” Choking despair cut off her sentence in a sob. She thumped her head on the ship’s control panel to force herself to focus. “He just thought I was Jedi. If he’d known the full truth…” She pulled her legs up against her chest, making herself into as tight a ball as she could. “I can’t go on like this, T3.”
T3 whistled and beeped urgently, almost incoherently, surging forward against the cockpit chair as if he were trying to jump into her lap.
“Woah! Hey, I didn’t mean it like that!” Sera patted the disk of his head soothingly, gently pushing him back before he could hurt himself or the ship. “I’m not going to… I don’t know what that would do to Bastila.”
The little astromech settled back, squawking bossily at her, waggling his head back and forth. Sera couldn’t stop a slightly soggy laugh escaping her lips.
“Did Bastila teach you how to do that?”
T3 gave a huff that did indeed look very much like her beloved, although Sera was fairly certain that it should be physically impossible for him to do that and made a mental note to give him a thorough check for any coolant leaks. Letting her mind drift back to her predicament, she scrubbed a hand through her hair and sighed. She couldn’t live her life like this, jumping at shadows, acting like a fucking idiot over nothing, and the thought of losing Bastila over something so stupid… The agony that knifed through her left her breathless.
“I guess there’s nothing for it,” she muttered. “T3, would you mind making a note to remind me to make a few calls when we get home. I’m going to give this fucking talking thing another try.” She wearily rubbed her face. She felt drained and exhausted. “I haven’t eaten anything, have I?” She rose, groaning as she stretched out her stiff back. “Okay, I’m going to go take care of that. You tell me if anything exciting happens.”
She pottered into the main hold, remembering halfway that there was only the weird ration bar thing on the ship. Grumbling, she rooted it out of the drawer she tossed it into and tore the wrapper open with some difficulty, revealing a bar of an unappetising pink colour. It passed a sniff test, not really smelling like much of anything, so Sera gave it a tentative lick. And sighed. It was fine but it wasn’t going to win any awards by any stretch of the imagination. She bit into it, wrestling with the bar when it refused to break off cleanly in her mouth.
“Statement: Hold still, Master. I shall blast all that refuse to bend to your will.”
“You don’t have to point a gun at me. It’s not an enemy. It’s just… chewy.” And was transforming into a slick, spitty mess where she was gnawing on it. She got a chunk into her mouth, hands and face smeared with saliva-dissolved food, feeling like a toddler in need of a good hosing down.
“Cautionary: Even so, Master, it is good for your loyal droid to always be aware of threats and dangers to your person. After all, there are many who would love nothing more than to see you dead in a ditch, Master, and it is my job to slaughter them before they become a problem.”
Sera swallowed thickly around a chewed-up wad of protein bar. “I’m trying not to think about shit like that right now,” she said, taking another bite. Her stomach felt heavy and acidic.
“Statement: I do so hope you do soon, Master. There is nothing I would love more than the chance to gun down a sea of enemies in a hail of blasterfire!” HK’s eyes were glimmering gleefully at the thought of wanton destruction.
“Haven’t we already had this conversation? Like, today?” On second thought, maybe the uncomfortable feeling in her stomach was just the protein bar, judging from the unpleasant aftertaste and chalky texture in her mouth. Maybe some water would help wash it down.
“Explanation: Perhaps I was merely hopeful--”
T3 came skidding into the main hold, chattering about a distress signal not far from where they were to enter into hyperspace. The ship of a minor Hutt had suffered a system failure and was being harassed by local thugs. T3 relayed this while they followed him through to the comms room. Sera performed a quick scan of the area around them, quickly finding the ship, listed as the Glory of Nal Hutta IV, and a couple small fighters as the message had said on the edge of a nearby asteroid belt by a dense cluster of rocks.
“Okay, this shouldn’t take too long. T3, relay the distress signal to the closest local authority with a note that we’re assisting. HK, you plug into the guns and scare the fighters off while I take us in closer,” Sera said, popping the last bite of her gross “breakfast” into her mouth.
“Exclamation: Oh, Master! You do care! You do!”
“I said scare them off!” Sera yelled after droid trotting happily towards the ship’s turrets. “I don’t want you killing some local kid who just has nothing better to do!” She stepped into the cockpit, slipping her headset on and ignoring HK’s vocal grumblings echoing through the ship. When she received confirmation from T3 that the message had been passed on, she switched over from autopilot, cancelling their route into hyperspace, and moved them closer to the distressed ship, keeping an eye out for any signs of enemy reinforcements while the distress signal looped in the background.
“Glory of Nal Hutta, this is Ebon Hawk responding to your distress call. Do you copy?” She repeated herself in imperfect Huttese just in case.
The comm clicked over, indicating that their hail had been received and a response was being transmitted, but all that came through was garbled static. It almost sounded like they were receiving nothing but dead air but there was something else, something that sounded like speech but not quite.
“T3, can you clean that up what’s coming in on that frequency? It doesn’t sound like nobody’s there,” Sera said, something about the rhythm of the static tickling something in her brain. “Okay, HK, I’m going to take us in quick.”
She gunned the engines, the beleaguered ship coming quickly into sight. Sera was able to make out a cloud of smoke clinging to the ship’s mass, twin flashes of red darting across its hull, as they sped overhead, Sera inverting the Hawk to afford HK a better shot at the fighters. And then they were past in an instant, streaking off into space.
“Statement: Master, there is something very odd about the way--”
The light for the comm flickered. “Hold that thought, HK,” she said as she pulled the ship around for another pass, “I think T3 got through to them. Hello, Glory of Nal Hutta! Having a bad day?”
There was a long pause, during which Sera could hear T3 booping in confusion in the other room. Then a shrill, echoing crackle as the channel popped to life once again.
“Greetings, Ebon Hawk, was it? Yeah, we were having a bit of trouble with the engines when these two insects started pestering us. You mind lending a hand?”
“Not a problem, Glory of Nal Hutta.” They streaked overhead again, the hard crack of the Hawk’s turrets ringing out once more. “Having a problem with your comms? You’re echoing on my end.”
“Statement: The fighters are gone, Master.”
“I guess those fighters must’ve knocked something loose when they were firing on us,” the other voice said, that strange echo still underlying their transmission.
“Good job, HK,” Sera said over the Hawk’s internal comm as she slowed the ship and brought them around to drift alongside the other ship. “You’re all clear, Glory of Nal Hutta. We’ve relayed your distress signal and will wait with you until you can get up and running again.”
Another long pause, the annoyingly familiar static almost resolving itself while T3 whistled about interference in the background. “Greatly appreciate it, Ebon Hawk.”
“Negatory: Master.” HK sounded almost hesitant. “The fighters disappeared into the asteroid belt without returning fire. I can no longer detect them on the Ebon Hawk’s scanners.”
“Weird…” Sera muttered, jerking back on the controls when the nose of the other ship appeared large and very, very near through the cockpit’s viewport. “You’re getting a little close there, Glory of Nal Hutta,” she said, tendrils of smoke gravitating towards the Ebon Hawk’s larger mass.
There was a tootle of triumph from T3 as the comm clicked on. “--not come any-- --! I-- trap!”
“Warning: Master! Something has made contact with our hull!”
The tortured sound of metal piercing metal hit Sera’s ears as the pieces of the puzzle fell together in her mind. “T3, don’t let them get into the computer!” she yelled as the ship’s controls pulled themselves out of her hands, the hyperdrive already revving up. Then she was slammed back into her seat and they were gone.
“Try hailing them again. See if you can get through.”
Sera stared at the rear of the Glory of Nal Hutta in front of them, her engines blazing over the top of the Ebon Hawk’s hull. Their first jump hadn’t lasted long, barely a minute. The other ship had pulled them along… somewhere before making another short jump, repeating this pattern for the last quarter of an hour.
“Statement: Master, there is no use. Our communications systems are being jammed internally by the device attached to our ship. It is highly probable that the same is true of the Glory of Nal Hutta.”
Sera groaned, letting her face fall into her hands. “I should have known… That sound was so familiar, aargh!” She avoided thinking too hard about why she was so familiar with the pattern of jammed audio transmissions, not being the kind of thing that got passed on in the basic military training that she could remember. “What a perfect end to the day,” she muttered. “Do we have any idea where we’re being taken?”
T3 chimed in over the still-functioning internal comms. Whatever was controlling the ship was not transmitting the navigational information to the ship’s main system, merely sending the command for when the hyperdrives were to engage and disengage. T3 surmised (technically he presented the information in terms of probability but Sera knew what he meant) that rapid jumps performed in seemingly random directions were an attempt to scramble the ship’s ability to keep track of its own position. But that wasn’t going to happen! (Sera could hear his indignant chittering all the way in the cockpit) As long as he stayed hooked up to the Hawk’s main computer, there was no way that their combined processing power wouldn’t be able to chart their progress!
Sera was chewing this over when the hyperdrive whirred to life and she felt the ship jerk sharply under her feet as they entered hyperspace. She took a deep breath, her stomach twisting. Wherever the hell they were going, they were being taken further and further away from home.
“Okay, let’s do what we can to get this doohickey off the ship before we end up on the other side of the galaxy.” She rubbed her forehead, trying to recall what she knew about the ship’s schematics. “If it’s jamming our communications internally, that means it’s probably connected in somewhere by you, right?”
After a booped affirmative, Sera and HK traversed the short distance to the other room where they lifted up a floor panel near where T3 had plugged himself in, exposing the inner workings of the ship’s main computer. Asking a grumbling HK to hold up a light for her, Sera crawled down as far as she could into the tight, hot crevice of cables and whirring fans.
“A little more to the left, HK.”
“Statement: Of course, Master. It is my one joy in life, after slaying your enemies and toiling away to find you again, Master, to be your sentient lampstand.”
“Oh, shush.” She reached blindly under a tangled mess of power cables and found the bulge where the device had punched through the outer hull. Feeling around for a way to remove the plating, she began to swing her legs sticking out the top of the opening back and forth as the dust and the heat and the closeness of the machinery started to push in against her ability to concentrate. She did her best to contain the feeling but, in the end, it was all for nothing.
“We can’t push it out,” she said, breathing heavily after scrambling out of the hole backwards, sweat stinging her eyes. “Not without ripping a massive hole in the hull and tearing out half of our cooling unit.” She took a swig of water from her water bottle while thinking through their options.
“Statement: It is such a shame, is it not, Master,” HK said innocently, “that someone saw fit to sell all of our munitions off, leaving our ship stocked only with small rifle fit for nothing more than shooting sewer vermin. It’s such a shame we are unable to merely wait out our unexpected journey and give our captors a wonderful surprise at the end of it!”
“Hey, I left you with a flamethrower too! Besides, I don’t plan on waiting that long to get home.” She took a deep breath. “We’re going to have to disable this thing from the outside. I’m going to grab my tool belt, slap a space suit on and wait for us come out of hyperspace. Pop outside, switch this thing off, fly home. Should be fairly simple.”
“Query: Master, what happens when our captors decide to make another jump and you’re still outside? Also, you said answering the distress signal would be simple.”
“Okay, for one I didn’t say it would be simple, I said it wouldn’t take long. And for the other thing…” Sera searched for an answer, visions ripped off the ship by the force of a jump filling her head. “It’ll be fine. I’m sure it won’t be a problem at all.”
She quickly geared up, ignoring T3’s doubtful whistling and HK’s colourful comments following her around the ship as she gathered her tools, only shutting up when she thrust their rifle into his hands and telling to shoot anyone that fucked with the ship. She tottered over to the service hatch and waited for T3’s signal that they were about to drop out of hyperspace.
“Alright, you two, take care of the ship while I’m gone.”
There was a moment’s worry that she wouldn’t be able to get the bulky suit out the service hatch, scuppering her plans before she had any chance to execute them. But the suit turned out to be far more squishable than Sera thought it would be. It was not unlike pushing a child’s balloon through a narrow, ring with uneven edges and just as nerve-wracking but she got through without any discernible punctures. She spent enough time afterwards slapping at her suit, watching for any change in pressure, to be certain. Finally, she glanced up.
“Oh, fuck!” A long line of ships stretched out in front of her, all moving in concert with each other. Her comm crackled to life.
“Statement: Master, what is your status? Are you in need of assistance!”
“Oh, good! The comms still work!” The sound was thin and heavily distorted, probably meaning that she’d lose contact if she moved too far away from the ship. But it was better than being stuck out in space all on her lonesome!
T3 chittered a reprimand at her for making them worry. “No, I’m not… There’s still a problem.” She looked out at the other ships illuminated in the light from a nearby star. “Looks like a whole bunch of other folks fell prey to the same trick we did.”
“Statement: That is meaningless, Master. There is no reason why the existence of other trapped vessels should alter our plans in any way.”
“Don’t be stupid, HK.” She started making her way to the underside of the ship, making sure that she had a safety line affixed to the ship at all times. “I’m going to have a quick look at this thingamajig before we deal with everyone else.”
The “thingamajig” turned out to be a large metal plate, thicker in the centre where the drilling unit must have been located, and bright yellow. It seemed smooth and impenetrable at first, but closer inspection revealed a tightly fitted panel that proved to be susceptible to being forcefully prised off with a screwdriver.
“Cautionary: Master, the trashcan says that the engines are being primed for another jump.”
“Just give me a minute.” Maybe I can memorize what this whole thing looks like…
“Warning: Master, you need to move now!”
The service hatch was too far away and the shape of the Hawk’s hull didn’t afford much protection from the forces about to buffer the ship. Not on this end anyway. Shoving the panel roughly back in place, Sera gathered the Force in her legs and jumped. She flew across the space separating the Ebon Hawk from the Glory of Nal Hutta, energy gathering in the engines in front of her. She briefly wondered what would happen if she didn’t get herself anchored in time, the passage between the two ships seeming to last an eternity. Her hands made contact with the other ship’s hull, quickly clipping her safety line to multiple points and pulling herself into a recess under the engines as the roared to life and the stars streaked blue. Her whole body vibrating in concert with the Glory of Nal Hutta’s hull, she glanced over to the Hawk and caught a glimpse of yellow metal shooting off into the void behind them, the panel apparently not having been replaced as tightly as it should have been.
And now there was nothing to do but wait, something she seemed to have been doing all day. I shouldn’t have gotten out of bed this morning… She rechecked her suit and made sure that she hadn’t lost any of her tools on the way over. The audio filters on her suit were doing an admirable job of keeping the roar of the engines over her head to a safe minimum, as well as the more disturbing sound of metal warping under the stress of a faster than light flight. Without thinking she glanced at her wrist to check the time, then cursed and slapped at her helmet to activate her heads-up-display. This jump was taking longer than the other ones. Hopefully, that didn’t mean they were heading straight for their captor’s final destination.
To pass the time, she started scrolling through audio channels in the vain hope that there would be something interesting on one of them, despite all evidence to the contrary. She was nearly to the end of the list when she flicked over to the emergency channel and urgent Huttese blared into her ear.
“Hey, Glory of Nal Hutta!” she said, flicking her receiver on. “How’re you guys doing?”
The voice on the other end started to respond when there seemed to be some sort of scuffle and someone else seized the comm. “Is that the idiot captain of the Ebon Hawk?” the voice said in Huttese. “What did you think you were doing getting captured instead rescuing the great Bezha like you were supposed to, idiot?” There was a pause. “And what the hell are you doing on my ship?”
“I’m not exactly…” she thumped her fist as hard as she could into the hull beneath her, “on your ship. And the rescuing is going to get underway as soon as we--” The stars snapped back into focus as the train of ships popped back into realspace. “As soon as that.” She clambered up the rear of the ship as quickly as the bulky suit and safety lines would allow her, using a tendril of the Force to hasten her progress.
“How do you plan on doing anything from out there, idiot? It’s our computers they attacked!”
“They’re using those… whatchamacallits…” She searched her mind for the right word. “The things the cops use when they wanna steal your speeder…” She pushed herself forward to her next handhold, huffing a little at the unfamiliar exertion. “You have a very long ship.”
“An engine clamp? The idiot police on Mygeeto used one on the great Bezha’s limo.” There was the sound of an angry fist knocking aside a glass. “Who cares if the spot was reserved for ambulances? Did they not know that the great Bezha had business in the area?” Another pause as someone whispered something to her conversation partner. “You’ve gone too far forward, idiot. Our computers are centrally located.”
She was getting close to the bow. Finally. “I’m not removing your clamp. I’m getting to the head of this train and disconnecting the top one. Free us all in one go.”
“You’re going to free peasants before the great Bezha? The great Bezha does not wai--”
“The great Bezha’s” words got cut off as Sera pushed off from the Glory of Nal Hutta, quickly bouncing over a small family-sized ship and nestling herself under the armour-plating of another light freighter with plenty of time to space before the hyperdrives engaged in unison once more. She waved at the little kid gaping at her from the cockpit of the ship in front of her and settled down to wait. She guessed that their captors were following their own, circuitous route to avoid detection by local security patrols and hoped that their own trip home wasn’t going to be too complicated.
She made better progress during the next sublight interval, getting all the way up to the third ship in the train before a tickle in the Force warned her to find cover. Now she just had to disengage the clamp thing on the ship one up in the queue from her and they could all go home. But what was going to happen when they were all free, presumably in the middle of nowhere, and there was a most likely heavily armed ship full of pissed off thieves in their midst? She turned the problem over in her mind as she gathered her tools for what she needed to do, having half a plan formulated by the time they dropped out of another, longer jump.
The scramble up to the head vehicle, a heavily modified patrol cruiser, took next to no time at all. Sera thought wryly that she might get quick good at this climbing thing if she had to do much more of it. She quickly found what she was looking for: the access hatch to the ship’s sensor and communications array. Removing the panel was a painstaking process, focussing every sense that she had on the task as she loosened screws and eased clips out of their sockets, listening with everything she had for any hint that she was setting off an alarm or anti-tamper device. She lifted the panel free, finding a single alarm wire plugged into a receiver on the underside of the panel that she was able to split off into its own feedback loop before clipping the wire and letting the panel float off into space.
Quickly taping over the external sensors, she turned her attention to the communications array. It was then that the cruiser performed a sharp roll, flinging Sera off the ship, only her safety line keeping her from following the service hatch panel out into oblivion. Her heart stopped. Had their captors noticed what she was doing? Drifting around, she finally took note of their surroundings and felt a smile tugging at her lips. They had entered another asteroid field. Or perhaps it was the same one as before, who knew. But the roll had simply been to manoeuvre neatly past and asteroid in the train’s path, as evidenced by the graceful ballet being performed in sequence down the line. And even better, the asteroid field stretched out as far as Sera could see. Meaning they either had a long portage ahead of them as they picked their way through the field or their captors’ destination was somewhere in this field. Either way, they weren’t going to make another hyperspace jump for a little while.
Shimmying down her safety line, Sera started to attack the comms array with gusto. She disabled all incoming sensors, ensuring that those aboard the ship would be completely deaf to any audio traffic not originating from within the ship itself. Cackling in delight at the discovery that the jamming signal that had gotten them into this mess appeared to originate from an aftermarket unit fitted to the cruiser rather from the individual clamping devices, she simply unplugged it from its power source, rendering it inert. Then removed the ship’s communications dish and tossed it into the asteroid field for good measure.
Now for the engine clamp. She located it towards the rear of the rather battered and decrepit civilian ship at the head of the queue of captured ships, clicking her comm on when she remembered that no-one knew what the hell she was doing.
“--lucky that you are not within range, vile Hutt, or I would--”
“Hey, how’re you guys doing back there? Miss me yet?” she said, removing the outer panel of the clamp and staring at the complex innards.
“Statement: Master! I was beginning to wonder if I had to avenge you again.” There were some excited beeps just out of earshot. “My little, rolling obstacle of a companion is pleased to hear from you as well.”
“Why are we not free yet, idiot captain?”
“This is a little more…” A capacitor sparked and flared briefly in the vacuum at her fiddling. She quickly soldered a join over the break, hoping it would be enough. “I can’t just rip this thing out without bricking the main computer and…” Another spark and a hurried bypass. “Fuck! I wish Bastila were here. Fucking with things while they’re still running is not my specialty! Hang on a minute.” She scrolled awkwardly through the audio channel list while diverting power and disabling processors until she found what she thought was the right channel. “Hey, first ship in the line! Do you read me?”
The comm clicked over and there seemed to be some confusion on the other end about who was supposed to answer. “Er, yes, hello, are you talking to us?” The voice was a little frail and tremulous. “I didn’t know comms were back.”
“My name is Sera Khan and I’m trying to get us all free from this road trip from hell but I’m gonna need you to do something for me. When I say so, I want you to refresh your main systems. Not a full reboot, just get them to reload all their processes. Can you do that for me?”
“Yes, I think I can.” The clicking of controls on the other end. “You know, I was worried that you were one of those rascals that captured us come to make your demands. I’d be very grateful if you could get us on our way again. Yes, I don’t want to be late for what we have to do.”
“Oh, yeah? What were you on your way to do?” Using her blow torch as an improvised heat gun, she loosened and rearranged several chips, keeping an eye on her voltmeter. “Okay, refresh now.” She heard the click and the fans spin and watched the clamp’s navigational override fail and reroute control to its auxiliary, which Sera had redirected back to the ship’s own computer. Perfect! Now she just had to restore engine control.
“We were on our way to an old station around 3559 Persei--”
“Where’s that? I’ve never heard of it.” Disabling this thing’s not so bad once you get the hang of it. Then another section of the board caught fire and she changed her mind.
“It’s near Forsen, about twenty parsecs rimward from the local nebula. My grandfather received a vision from the god Pahh’Tung there and we’re making a pilgrimage there as my family has done every ten years since.”
She swatted the fire out and surveyed the damage. “Paying your respects then?” Nothing critical damaged.
“Yes and we don’t want to be l--”
“Why are you chatting up peasants instead of freeing the great Bezha, idiot?”
Sera sighed. “Hold on a sec,” she said to the captain of the lead ship. She clicked over to the Glory of Nal Hutta’s channel. “You wanna be helpful and tell the other ships that they’re gonna have to fly away quickly and quietly soon?”
“The great Bezha does not--!”
“Fine.” She switched to the Hawk’s channel. “HK, would you and T3--”
“Statement: Already underway, Master. The remaining ships stand ready for your signal.”
“Thanks, HK.” A thought occurred to her just as she changed back to the old pilgrim’s ship. “Shit!”
“Eh? What! What happened?”
Sera felt herself turning bright red inside her spacesuit. “Fuck! Wait, no, shit, sorry!” She waved her hand in apology before remembering that nobody could see her. “It’s not… I bought a bunch of flowers for my girlfriend as an apology for… and I forgot to put them in some water and my droid wouldn’t have done it…” An image of limp blue blossoms, miserable and wilted, popped into her mind. “Ah, fuck…”
“Oh. I was worried that something was wrong…”
“Shit, I didn’t mean to cause alarm. I promise this will only take a moment.” Shit. Stupid.
She heard a gentle chuckle. “I’m certain that your girlfriend, was it? I am certain she will happy to just have you home.”
“Shit, I’m really sorry to have…” She soldered one last wire into place. “Everything’s in place here, I just need to alert the other ships.” She opened a channel to all ships. “Okay, everybody get ready. We should all be free in 3, 2…” She severed the final connection controlling the battered ship’s engines and felt them drift slowly out from their captor’s ship’s shadow.
“You really did it! I can’t thank you enough.” The old pilgrim sounded a little teary.
Sera felt a warm, happy glow forming in her heart. “It was my pleasure. I can’t believe I get to go home finally. What a day...” A weariness stole over her limbs as she finally let the adrenaline from the last few hours events drain out of her. Maybe Bastila wouldn’t mind joining me for a nap.
“Hey, Ebon Hawk! We’re still not free!”
“We can’t control our ship! You didn’t fix it!”
“You should have freed the great Bezha first, idiot!”
“Alert: Master! The Ebon Hawk is still slaved to the capturing ship’s control!”
Her eyes snapped to the line of ships. Instead of the loose formation of ships, each straying in their own direction, that she had expected to see, they were still in their tightly controlled line, moving in sync with the head ship. And they were accelerating.
“Quick! We need to get out of the queue!”
“But… what are we…”
She banged on the hull of the pilgrim’s ship. “Nose down now!” They jerked down awkwardly, narrowly missing the delivery vehicle that pushed forward blindly to take their place and veered off into the asteroid field away from the other ships.
“Okay, bring us around. I don’t want to get too far away from the others.”
The old pilgrim dutifully did as they were told. “What are we going to do now? That was supposed to free everyone.”
“Warning: Master, we are nearing the end of the asteroid field.”
Sera twisted her head around and saw to her horror the vast expanse of space frighteningly near. Time had passed so quickly… “I’ll deal with it now, HK.” She switched back to the pilgrim’s channel. “I need you to get me close enough to transfer to the ship that just took our place while staying out of sight of our captors. Can you do that?”
“I’ll do my best.” They sounded a little shaky. “What are you going to do?”
She readied herself for the transfer, securing her tools to herself. She’d lost her screwdriver and her roll of tape. “What I want you to do is get somewhere safe and alert the authorities to our last known position. I’m going to free the rest of the ships one by one.” She took a sip of her suit’s water bottle and prepared to jump. “All clear?”
“Yes, I’ll tell them where you are and what the situation is. Is this close enough?”
They were shadowing the line of ships. Not completely steadily but it would have to do. “This is perfect. Thanks for your help.” And she jumped, winding herself when she overestimated the distance. She fumbled getting her safety line anchored, her hands starting to shake a little, as the battered ship pulled away from them into the safety of the asteroid field. “T3, you mind giving them our location and route so far?” She had just enough time to register T3’s helpful whistle as she scurried to find cover, swinging her legs out of danger moments before they jumped to hyperspace.
She took a deep breath. Her shoulders were starting to ache from all the jumping and climbing. Even on their worst jobs, they usually didn’t go for this long without a break or a cup of caf. Dammit, she was thirsty for something that wasn’t tepid water. She ran a quick diagnostic on her suit. Pressure and temperature control were holding steady, even though the sweat on her skin told a different story. Oxygen was… okay. It would hold for several more hours but she was burning through it quicker than normal. She opened a channel to the ship she was hitching a ride on to make sure they were okay. They were understandably terse, their disappointment obvious and thick in the Force and she ended the conversation after telling them what she needed from them. Shifting to find a more comfortable position, she ran over what she knew about the line of ships in her mind, acid rising in her stomach. She was going to have to move quickly to get everyone free before they got too far from home.
The remaining time until they dropped out of hyperspace both took forever and no time at all. There were in deep space this time, the weak light of the distant stars leaving Sera in almost total darkness. She switched her headlamp on and scampered to where the clamp was, removing the central panel with a quick swing of her crowbar. She repeated the process of disabling the device’s navigational control, not working quite as quickly or efficiently as she would have liked. She awkwardly clicked her comm on while she continued clipping wires and swapping chips and was about to hail the ship’s captain when another voice filtered through.
“--body fucking with our comms and told me to go investigate.”
Sera froze. Had they been caught out already? The voice didn’t seem to be in any particular hurry, chatting with a voice that Sera couldn’t hear while they got ready. She took note of the channel that she’d inadvertently tuned into and quickly asked the ship’s captain to refresh their systems before switching to the Hawk’s channel.
“Statement: HK-47 ready to serve, Master.”
“HK, I want you to tell the other ships to stop broadcasting on all channels and contact each other directly instead. Also, if they could avoid this channel.” She give him the frequency. “I think our captors’ personal comms are still functional and it sounds like they suspect something is up.”
“Statement: Understood, Master. I shall pass on your orders and monitor the channel for any suspicious activity.”
She thanked him and returned to her work, keeping an ear on the enemy channel herself, wondering what the fuck she was going to do when he finally exited his vehicle and saw the mess she’d made of their communications array. Maybe he’ll have a complete nervous breakdown when confronted with the vastness of space and not notice anything amiss… She sped through the rest of the removal, freeing the ship she clung to and transferring right next to the next clamp while the sound of her enemy clambering and swearing up a narrow service hatch played in her ear.
Swearing, then the sound of someone counting. “Hey, Wes? Looks like we’ve lost some product. Wes?” More swearing when they were met by silence. There was a pause, Sera wishing she had some way of seeing what was happening on the other ship as she worked, then she jumped, nearly losing her blowtorch, as the observation was repeated at full volume, presumably down the service hatch. She took a moment to switch off all of her comms, yell “fuck!” very loudly in the solitude of her space suit, and switch back to eavesdropping on their captors, ears still ringing painfully. Thankfully, she hadn’t missed anything, coming in on the tail-end of an argument between the suited yeller and a “Chorda”. The argument ended with the yeller saying that it was no good if they got to the rendezvous point without comms as Sera neared the end of the removal process. Hoping that she wasn’t being a massive idiot -- Again -- she left the clamp as is and climbed down to the next ship.
Her comm crackled on. “Statement: Master, it appears as though we have slowed down to allow our adversary time to repair the damage you have wrought on their ship.” A pause. “They do not sound particularly happy with you, Master.”
“Ha! See how they like trying to fix a big pile of-- Oh, fuck!” A capacitor sparked and caught fire.
“Statement: I was under the impression that we were beyond that stage, Master.”
“I’m not-- fucking hell!” She solved the problem by ripping the offending components off the board. “I’ve moved onto the next ship so I can sneakily free several right before a jump -- did you get that… Cherry Daisy? Nice name -- because I want to free as many of us as possible without the rest of us getting shot at. ...Does that make sense?” she said, hoping she didn’t sound like a crazy person.
“Statement: As always, Master--”
“Er, Ebon Hawk captain? We're seeing folks with guns coming our way over the top of our ship.”
Sera's blood ran cold. “Okay, thanks, Cherry Daisy,” she responded, almost on instinct. “How many of them do you see?”
“Uh, about five… No, um, at least five. It's a bit hard to tell.”
“Explanation: T3-M4 believes that the main ship has noticed his interference with their control of the Ebon Hawk and come to the conclusion that he is the source of all of their problems. Request: Oh, please let me deal with them, Master! Oh, please, oh, please!”
“I don't know. Five is kinda a lot…” And I didn't really wanna kill anybody.
“Promise: I will be careful, Master. Oh, please let me do it!” She could practically hear him quivering with anticipation.
“Ebon Hawk captain, they're passing over us now.”
She sighed. “Okay, fine. Just be careful and don't take too many chances!”
She ignored HK’s effusive thanks and detailed descriptions of all the things he could do to any intruders and continued preparing clamps for removal, shadowing the group of bad guys on their way to the Ebon Hawk. After a quick mental calculation of how long it would take them to reach and infiltrate the Hawk, she made her way back to the head of the train and began freeing ships, managing to free half of those left before HK confirmed that the Ebon Hawk had been breached and that he was eagerly lying in wait for his victims. She heard the first cries of alarm and HK’s dark chuckles as they made another jump and she slumped uncomfortably against the confines of her hiding spot. Well, at least someone’s having a good time. Hope I don’t have to do too many more of these. Her lungs were burning and every inch of her was aching. She closed her eyes. There was only them, the other light freighter, the family vehicle and the Hutt ship left to get free. She just needed a moment to rest and then she’d be as right as rain…
The violent jolt threw her forward, pulling her unceremoniously back to consciousness. The line of ships jerked wildly around, her sleep-laden limbs slow to brace herself against the motion, managing only to get an arm between herself and a potentially fatal collision between her helmet and a metal support.
“Hey, captain of the Ebon Hawk? You got any idea what happened?”
“I was just about to ask you!” Fuck, her brain was soft. She needed to get moving, get everyone free. Hauling herself out of her hiding spot, she got to work, mouth dry and fingers clumsy in her gloves. A sip of water helped the first. The other she would just have to deal with. Swearing at her own stupidity when her brain finally switched on, she found the bad guy channel from before and tuned in. And she heard, well, a wet gurgle that she had hoped to never hear again in her life. Then blasterfire, a familiar mechanical voice crowing in the background and finally, distorted and difficult to hear, the open comm to his partners. She listened to the screams and the violence, acid churning in her stomach, long enough to know that they didn’t know what was going on either. She shut off the audio and gave herself a moment to just breathe and focus on the machinery in front of her. Not wanting to waste too much time on herself, she opened a channel to the Ebon Hawk.
“Exclamation: I have to thank you, Master! I have never seen so much blood!”
Sera took a steadying breath. And another one for good measure. “You or T3 know anything about our sudden drop out of hyperspace?”
“Statement: Negative, Master. The trash can says that there shouldn’t have been any stellar bodies along that route.” There was an insistent whistling. “But that there is something wrong with our adversaries’ maps,” he repeated in a mocking tone. “Now, if you will please, Master, our enemies will not kill themselves.”
“Just be careful! I heard them muttering something about a plan and -- ah, fuck it.” He’d already switched the channel off. She removed the engine clamp off the light freighter, no longer bothering with subterfuge, and got halfway through the removal of the clamp on the family vessel before needing to take cover. She rubbed her trembling hands and stretched her aching wrists. She was slowing down. She was slowing down and she didn’t know how much longer she could do this before she fumbled her safety line or mistimed a jump and found herself floating off into space to die a slow, lonely death. No! If she wanted to hear Bastila scold her again, she would have to fucking focus and not screw up. There was simply no other option.
She was more careful the next time they dropped out of hyperspace. More deliberate in her movements, even though the yawning pit in her stomach told her that the day was nearly over without having to check her chrono. Finishing freeing the family vessel, a single father and his kids caught on their way to their vacation, she started the work of freeing the Great Bezha’s ship, blocking out the abuse spewing out from the ship. Her comm clicked on.
“I don’t give a flying fuck about the size of your portfolio, Bezha, I’m not gonna--”
Uncertain booping filtered through the line. There’d been an explosion and screaming and not all of it had sounded organic. Sera swore and slapped at her communicator until she found the right channel.
“HK-47, respond!” There was static and blasterfire and the sound of running. “That wasn’t a request, HK!”
“S-s-statement: Master, th-they had some sort of incendiary device that cracked my-my chassis.” More blasterfire, a lot more, and angry yelling. “But I’ve got them on the run-on the run now, Master!”
“Negative! Fall back, HK, that’s an order!” It sounded like they were coming closer.
“Aim for his head! Don’t let him get his gun up!” There was scuffling and a heavy, metallic thud.
“HK, Get out of there!” Sera banged her fist fruitlessly against the hull of the ship.
“ERROR-ERROR-ERRO--” Then the channel went dead.
Tears streamed down her face. “Dammit!” She banged her fist against the metal one last time. Dammit…
“Stop whining about your property, idiot! What’s one more droid?”
“Shut the fuck up!” Sera tore roughly at the last few connections with her crowbar, uncautious of the damage to the hull. “There! You’re free, asshole!”
“Ha! Finally, idiot!” The Glory of Nal Hutta veered sharply to the side, necessitating a quick jump from Sera to avoid being dragged off into hyperspace. “Thanks for nothing!”
She landed awkwardly on the bad guy ship, rolling and twisting her leg as she clipped herself safely on. Shuffling to safety, she noticed twin triangles of red duraplast with tiny impulse engines bolted to the underside of the ship. Apparently, the two “fighters” that had caused all this nonsense were nothing more drones. Probably a child’s toy that had been modified to appear more fearsome from a distance. HK could have blown them to shreds without anyone worrying about anything other than property damage. She let out a tiny sob. She didn’t know if she was going to be able to put him back together again. Instinctively, she raised an arm to wipe her eyes, only for it to bump ineffectively into the visor of her helmet. Fuck. Another thing that she’d just have to wait to fix. She switched her comm on.
“Hey, T3. How’re you doing in there?” she said, sniffing.
T3 whistled softly at her, sounding so small and frightened. He could hear voices and people moving around outside the door to the comms room and he didn’t know what to do. It sounded like they were going to force the door open and HK wasn’t responding to T3’s calls.
“No, uh…” Sera felt terrible. How did you tell someone that the only other friendly face with them on a ship probably got physically torn to pieces? “HK’s been incapacitated. Uh…” Fuck. “Do you, um, is there anyway you can make an estimate as to how many people are there with you? And what their general condition is?”
Shit. How was she going to get her ship back? “Okay, um… I’m going to work on some things on this end. You see if you can lock as many doors as possible to slow them down.” She felt them jolt into hyperspace. “And stay safe!” she yelled into the void, hoping he would hear her.
She thumped back into her spot under the engines of the bad guy’s ship. Now what? She looked over the Ebon Hawk trailing behind her position, almost close enough to touch if she stretched but out of communications range. Did she really think she could take on “several” angry intruders in just her shorts and t-shirt? She could practically hear her tired body creaking at the thought of doing anything more strenuous than standing under a hot shower.
A movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. Someone was coming into the Ebon Hawk’s cockpit. They would only have to turn their head slightly to catch sight of her. She looked around, then wished she could smack herself for her stupidity. What, did she think that the ship was going to magically have grown some extra panels for her to hide behind just because she needed them? She jammed her crowbar into the gap between two hull panels near her, hoping against hope that she wasn’t about to puncture anything particularly flammable. There was a flash of pink lekku in the cockpit. She froze, her arm holding the crowbar at an awkward angle. It didn’t look like they’d noticed her. Could she move without drawing further attention to herself? Turning her head around with agonising slowness, she watched the Twi’lek pick up the bunch of flowers left on the cockpit console and toss them aside, replacing them with an expensive looking blaster rifle and poking at the controls. They weren’t looking her way but Sera didn’t know how long that would last. She gently applied pressure to the crowbar, lifting the panel away from its framing. No escaping atmosphere. Good. That meant that there were unlikely to be any pressure sensors that she needed to avoid. Glancing back, she saw that the Twi’lek was still preoccupied with the ship’s controls. She carefully prised the panel free, making sure not to let it float away or warp too much, and climbed inside the opening that she’d exposed. She had time to see the Twi’lek turn around in alarm as the cockpit door of the Ebon Hawk snapped shut behind them before she closed herself into a small, dark hole.
She switched her headlamp on. It helped a little with the feeling that she was closed in on all sides. Which she was, to be honest. She took a deep breath. The inner workings of a ship this size never took up that much space. She shouldn’t be that far from the ship’s pressurised interior. She pushed past power cables and tubing carrying coolant to the various components, keeping an eye on her suit’s pressure gauge to make sure she hadn’t gotten it caught on any sharp edges. There was actually more room manoeuvre than in the Hawk’s innards, not needing the more compressed workings of a ship designed for hauling cargo. Her outstretched hand encountered the underside of the ship’s inner wall. Where each panel fit together was pretty easy to see from this side of the wall, as were the pressure sensors lining the panels at two-metre intervals. Now, how was she going to get inside without setting one of them off? The sensors didn’t look particularly sophisticated, so maybe if she just connected a length of wire to that one, then ran it there… Shit, the connections were more delicate than she thought and she’d used up most of her wire. This was going to be a pretty tight fit. She just had to get under the wire, loosen the sealant foam from the frame, push against a room full of air…
And she was in! The panel clanging back into place against the weight of the pressure in the room had been a little louder than she was happy with, but what could you do? She popped the seals on her helmet, refilling her oxygen, but didn’t remove it yet. Instead, she stood listening for any signs that her intrusion had been noticed, any sign that she’d have to seal her helmet against a well-timed gas grenade. No attack seemed forthcoming but it was getting very difficult to ignore how much like a locker room the place smelled like. Eyes watering, she carefully removed and folded her space suit, aching muscles complaining, placing it in front of her entry point so she wouldn’t have to waste time searching for it if she had to leave in a hurry. Not that she wanted to do anything in a hurry at the moment nor did her tatty shorts and t-shirt offer more protection than multiple layers of fabric but it was better than clattering around an unknown ship. She wasn’t looking to pick a fight anyway and hopefully she wouldn’t have to.
Gathering what remained of her tools and keeping her crowbar at the ready, Sera inched her way cautiously out of the room. There was a long, brightly-lit corridor outside with doors opening off either side. Simple enough. The corridor most likely ran the length of the ship from stern to bow with the cockpit at the end. Although, she wished it weren’t so bright. How was she supposed to sneak in broad fucking dayli--
The cockpit door slid open, a man standing in the doorway. They both stared at each other, slack-jawed, for a moment. Then the man swore and grabbed his sidearm, firing at Sera. With instincts born out of a lifetime of training, she brought her crowbar up to deflect the shot. The force of the blast smacked her arm into her face, dazing her and sending the remains of her crowbar flying. She scrabbled for the fallen crowbar, narrowly missing another shot, and pulled herself through the nearest door, locking it behind her.
That wouldn’t keep him long. She had to keep moving. Pushing aside some crates of rations, she jammed her mangled crowbar into a wall panel, not wanting to give the game away by being too loud but very aware of the angry blaster bolts to the locked door behind her. The sharp metal of the crowbar slicing up her hand, she popped the panel off of its frame, followed by its mate on the other side off the wall. She could hear the door groaning and giving way under the repeated blasterfire as she hurried through her improvised hole, awkwardly pulling the crates back into place through the Force in a vain attempt to hide her escape.
After a quick look to confirm that the corridor was clear, she slipped out of the room. She ran barefoot for the cockpit, hoping that she wasn’t inviting a blaster bolt to the back, the Force the only thing keeping her tired body from flying face-first into the floor. The hand gripping her crowbar was also starting to ache and she had to flick sweat-dampened hair out of her eyes. She locked herself into the cockpit and made for the communications console. Getting the ship to blare out a distress signal on all imaginable frequencies wasn’t quite the ship takeover that she’d hoped for but it would have to do for now. Hopefully, local security forces would respond.
There was a bang and some loud swearing and what sounded like threats from the cockpit door. That probably meant no nice, long nap in the captain’s chair, even if the doors to the cockpit were double reinforced as she thought they were. It also seemed as though her adversary was being smarter about getting through the door, picking the lock instead of using brute force. That didn’t give her long. She checked the navcomputer - not long until they dropped out of hyperspace - and disconnected the light for the emergency signal system.
The click of the cockpit’s inner door was all the warning she had. She ducked behind the command console, gripping the now slick crowbar. She glanced down at her hand. She hadn’t realized how badly she’d cut herself. Had she bled all over the ship, leaving a very obvious trail to herself? She pushed a trickle of the Force into her hand, closing but not healing the wound, very aware of her own breathing - was she being too loud? - and the quiet but not inaudible steps of her adversary prowling around the cockpit. The ships jerked as they entered realspace, granting her a minor reprieve from the man’s search for her as his compatriots called to update him on their situation. She closed her eyes and rested her head against the cool metal of the command console. Her head felt light and the persistent glitching of her eye was giving her a migraine, moreso now after her minor use of healing. She couldn’t go on much longer before she collapsed from exhaustion.
“Why the fuck are you asking me? It was stupid Hulo’s route and he’s not around to tell us how he fucked it up.”
Sera frowned against her throbbing head. Was this related to T3 saying something about the bad guy’s maps being wrong? How did that work? Maps were fairly standard across the galaxy.
“I don’t care! We are running out of time to get to the meetup and we only have one ship because you couldn’t--”
Sera’s communicator beeped loudly, echoing around the hard walls of the cockpit. She fumbled for the mute button, her reactions slow in her tiredness. Her stupid brain wondered briefly if she was lucky enough for the angry man with a gun to not instantly figure out where she was when a hand reached over the top of the console to grab her, only the instinctive swing of her crowbar saving her from being dragged over the console by her hair. The swing connected, causing her adversary to swear profusely. She popped out from behind the console - no point in hiding now - and kept swinging, hoping to knock the blaster from his grasp.
Rapid whistling and beeping came through her communicator. Clearly her clumsy fingers had hit the connect button instead of the mute. An unknown ship had entered the system and was approaching fast. It appeared to be armed.
“Wes, we need to get out of here!” The heavy sound of laserfire from a patrol cruiser boomed around the cockpit and through her adversary’s open comm. Good. Maybe. At least the newcomers weren’t allied with the hijackers.
“I’m having a little trouble here! Garan? Hey, Garan?” He swore, narrowly avoiding a crowbar to the face. Sera reversed her swing, bringing it crashing down on the blaster. An explosion towards the rear of the ship sent them both flying. Sera had a moment to glance at the ship’s status - both engines down, status critical - before she had to roll away to avoid getting into a draining wrestling match with her much larger opponent. Distantly she heard what she thought sounded like a landing party. He lunged at her again, using her own tactic of keeping him moving against her. She swung her crowbar in a wide arc to keep him back, switching hands as she felt the wound on her right hand reopening, glancing around the room as much as she could without losing her focus on her opponent. Where had that damn blaster gone? Her opponent charged at her and she spun away to avoid him, only to come face to face with the business end of the lost blaster as she completed her turn to face him.
The clattering of boots and yells as rooms were cleared were obvious now. It would only be a matter of moments before they reached the cockpit. Sera dropped the crowbar and raised her hands in surrender. There was a look of absolute fury on her opponent’s face, his eyes darting from Sera to the open cockpit door and for a moment Sera wondered if he was going to risk murder charges for the satisfaction of blowing her head off. Then he pulled his finger off the trigger and laid the blaster on the ground, glaring at her as he raised his hands as well.
A knot of tension unwound within Sera. “Hey, T3,” she said into her still open comm. “Looks like things might finally be over.”
She was answered with static. A grenade spewing acrid, choking gas was tossed into the cockpit, making both of them cough and cover their faces. She felt a warning through the Force that she was about to be hit by something and it took everything within her to relax her body as she was hit with the paralyzing bolt. Everything hurt, every molecule in her body feeling like it was being shaken. Her last thought as her body hit the floor was that she hoped that they would let her call Bastila and that she wouldn’t be too mad at Sera for the mess she’d gotten herself in. Then her mind went still and she knew no more.
HAHA! FINISHED!! I mean, I still have some editing to do and there's a lot of stuff near the beginning that I'm not really happy with and don't quite know how to fix but still... I started this in October. There's still a long way to go before this whole story is finished but I'm really glad I got this far.
Now for Part 2!