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I donít know whether to be smug or terrified. Iím sitting in my cabin aboard the newly salvaged Broken Spanner, a TL-1800 freighter that has been souped up into something totally other than the designers intended. Sheís got a point-seven-five hyperdrive, a navigation computer that might very well be insane, and more hidden nooks and crannies than my parentsí old ship.


Dangerous, fast, and built to keep certain things from bothering the excise authorityÖ Yep, sheís a smugglerís ship, all right.




And all mine. The moralists on the Rose can argue all they like, but I understand how to handle a ship like this and Iím the one flying her. Sheís mine. In the meantime, sheís a good scout ship as we head out to the hind end of nowhere. Itís a shame that itís bad luck to change the name, and Iíve got a feeling that nameís giving me an indication of how much trouble that tricked-out hyperdrive is going to be.


Rebellion poster-boy Dev is co-piloting. He doesnít look old enough to shave, but he can fly, and heís proven he can handle a gun-turret like he was born to it. Since I canít poach the Roseís command crew, Dev will do nicely.




Iíve also got Waith staying down the hall. He was getting a little nuts from three weeks of hyperspace on board the Rose Ė who wasnít Ė but heís apparently the only one with enough nerve to risk flying with me on this little time-bomb.


Given our track record, I wonít be at all surprised if the Spanner loses her hyperdrive within the next four weeks Ė that would be par for the course Ė but Iíll be sorely disappointed to lose her. She could be my ticket out of debt.


Duvessa asked me if my taking this ship counted towards my five-percent take of the Jedi temple that may or may not be awaiting us. Chuckle. Silly girl. Sheís learning pretty fast Ė by virtue of having Val beat the hell out of her four hours a day whether she needs it or not Ė but sheís still got a long way to go in harsh realities.




Speaking of harsh realities, weíve got a poor sap that has just got an awful big dose of those. Shortly before running for our lives from a blackhole-powered experimental hyperdrive that was sucking an abandoned base from under our feet clear into another dimension Ė oh, donít ask Ė we unearthed a lieutenant colonel of the old Republic who had been in stasis for quite a while. Sigh. Poor guy Ė climbs into a tube hoping for rescue and gets it - thirty years later.


Duvessa is welcome to dealing with that one. Senior military are indistinguishable from politicians, so the good colonel and our shiny-eyed senator speak the same language. Looks like itíll take Val to convince him that the Jedi are gone, though.




Things arenít all that rosy, though, despite the past couple of days. Iím still stuck heading out to the edge of nowhere for a bundle of loot that might not exist, and Iím not convinced that we donít have another traitor on board. As Iíve said before, it couldnít have been DeLorik who tipped off the Empire on Paranoth. DeLorik wanted us to get to that damned temple.




And Iíve got a veteran of the 58th on board. The Imperial 58th.


Pause. Sigh.


I donít like the idea, but Dev had a point when he brought it up. We donít know Waith Ė or anyone on this crew Ė very well. But we swallowed the holy-Waith line as blithely as everyone else. They all thought DeLorik was lily-white, too.




I donít think Dev appreciated it when I told him that we were expendable Ė that itís preferable for Waith destroy the Spanner, rather than the Rose with all hands. Devís a kid Ė a lucky one Ė and I donít think heís figured out that heís a mortal as the rest of us, just yet. The lucky ones always take longer to learn that one. Chuckle. Look, whoís talking, YahnnaÖ


Still, Iím going to be keeping a very close eye on Waith for the moment. Itís a shame that the faint possibility that heís a traitor derails a few personal ideas of my own, but they can wait. Iím very patient, and Iím in no rush to get burned again.


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