Rule Number One
Weapons. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are small, like blasters. Some are large, like laser cannons. Some are sneaky, like grenades. Some are brash, like vibroswords. And some are elegant, like the Jedi lightsaber. But none of them are lethal if you lose them. Rule number one: Never lose your weapon in hostile territory.
And always wear your seatbelt.
Bastila watched through the small circular window as the Endar Spire
exploded in a ball of flame, Sith fighters swarming through the debris, searching for survivors. She leaned back in her chair, breathing heavily. They would find none. She sensed no life from what was left of the ship - not that there was much of it remaining. The hull had been ripped open, the atmosphere released, and the remaining shell atomised by Sith guns.
The pod rocked as they entered the atmosphere of the planet - according to the data scrolling across her screen, it was the Republic world Taris.
“Hull temperature at critical,” called the ensign in the pod with her. “We’re coming apart!”
“Reroute power from the engines!” she barked. “Now that we’re in free fall, we won’t need them.”
The pod began shaking even more violently - a Sith fighter was following them into the atmosphere, its laser turrets blazing. “We’re hit!” yelled the ensign. “I’m reading a micro-fracture in the starboard hull plating!”
“How long before it becomes a breach?”
“Fire the emergency manoeuvring thrusters!” she ordered. “Take us on a vertical drop!”
“Ma’am, we won’t be able to-”
“Do it!” she yelled.
“Activating thrusters... now!”
The ship lurched as the thrusters kicked in, sending the pod into a nosedive.
“The Sith fighter’s overshot us, ma’am,” he reported checking his scanners. “We’re clear.”
“Slow our descent! We’re coming in too fast!” She tried to make herself heard over the rumbling of the escape pod, but it wasn’t easy.
“I can’t!” he yelled back. “The thrusters have burnt themselves out!”
The pod shook violently, and his console exploded, showering him in sparks. He screamed as the flesh on his face burnt away, his hands over his eyes. Bastila sensed his pain, but she couldn’t move to do anything for him. The pod was falling straight down to the planet below, and she was pinned against the back of her seat.
There was a grinding sound, and the pod lurched again - it must have collided with a piece of metal jutting out from one of the skyscrapers. The side of the pod was torn open, revealing the endless cityscape of Taris. The air was temporarily knocked out of her lungs as the pressure equalised. She was suddenly very aware that the only thing stopping her from falling out of the pod to the city below was a thin piece of fabric stretched across her chest and waist.
The city was rushing up towards them faster than ever. She braced herself as the pod met the streets of the Upper City. It skidded across the platform to the edge, continuing to plummet through an oxygen duct. The ground came up fast, and the seatbelt ripped as the pod met the ground. She was thrown forward, her head meeting the console in front of her. The last thing she heard was the sound of the altitude alarm - which she hadn’t been able to hear before now. The world swam before her eyes, and she blacked out.
Her head hurt. Her back hurt. Her legs hurt. Everything hurt.
She slowly opened her eyes. The alarm had stopped, and the consoles had gone dark - the power core had been damaged beyond her ability to repair. She stood with difficulty, and dizzily looked over at the man in the pod with her. There was blood caking his face, and his arm was... missing. She checked for a pulse, but she knew it was fruitless. He was dead.
Her Jedi senses forced the nausea and disorientation from her mind. There was someone coming. She stuck her head out the wound in the side of the pod - almost twenty men were approaching the pod, all of them, from the looks of it, armed.
She grabbed her lightsaber from her belt - only to find that it wasn’t there. She turned back to the pod, expecting to find it on her seat. It wasn’t there, either. She got on her knees, the group of men getting ever closer, and checked underneath her chair. Nothing. She was hit with a sudden wave of dizziness, and had to lean against the wall of the crippled vehicle to steady herself. Her lightsaber was missing. She had no other weapon. Her companion was dead. And to top it off, there was a squadron of men approaching her ship, armed, with Force only knew what intentions.
This wasn’t going to be easy.
As the first thug reached for his weapon, she reached out with hers. The Force dragged him face first into the pod’s hull, stunning him. She grabbed his blaster, and smashed the grip into the back of his skull, knocking him out cold. She turned the blaster on one of the oncoming thugs, and fired. It caught him full in the chest, stunning him, as well. But there were too many of them - and they were all armed with blasters and stun batons, and her Force powers were drained from using her Battle Meditation to get the crew off the Spire safely.
She dove into the pod again as the others opened fire on her. The already weakened hull began to buckle under the strain of weapons fire. She took one last look around the pod for her lightsaber, but she still couldn’t find a trace of it.
White-hot pain erupted in her arm as a blaster bolt grazed her shoulder. She tried to heal the wound as best she could, but her powers were severely drained. Her vision began to swim as the pain overwhelmed her - she was exhausted from the battle aboard the Endar Spire
. She couldn’t take another battle right now. Especially without her lightsaber. She felt nausea wash over her, and she steadied herself against the wall to stop the world from spinning. The floor rushed up to her, but she barely felt the impact of her skull on the bare metal. The last thing she saw was a pair of string hands coming towards her, and her world went black for the second time in a matter of hours.
“She’s a tough one,” said Derethnek, picking her up easily out of the escape pod. “Check the pod,” he ordered.
“There’s someone else in here, boss,” said one of the two men who had entered the pod. “Forget it,” he said suddenly. “He’s dead.”
“Keep looking,” barked Derethnek. “There’s got to be something else worth taking back to Brejik.”
There was silence for a moment while the thugs tore apart the pod in search of valuables. The first disembarked carrying a dozen power relays and what was left of the computer core. The other simply stood with his back to them, staring at something in his hands.
“What is it, Garl?”
“Uh... you might want to put her down, boss,” he said, turning around. The object in his hand was revealed - a long, cylindrical shaft.
“Yeah. A lightsaber.”
Everyone turned to look at the woman Derethnek was carrying in his arms. “You mean... she’s a Jedi?”
“We should leave her here. It’s too dangerous to bring a Jedi back to base. If she wakes up-”
“She won’t wake up,” said Derethnek, throwing Bastila roughly to the ground and pulling his stun baton from his belt. He set it to maximum, and thrust it into her stomach. She shook violently for a moment, then went limp again. “We’re taking her back with us. A Republic soldier is an amazing find - but a Jedi? She’s worth millions.”
He picked her up again, and slung her over his shoulder. “Let’s get out of here, before those bloody rakghouls show up!”