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Memo to self: never, ever joke about dark jedi, ever again.

Pause.

Duvessa and I had a running joke about Stygoss chewing his way through the ship to get to us, if necessary. It was a desperate attempt to relieve the fact that the man wants all of us dead in the worst way. So…guess what happened? Oh sure, he had a lightsaber to do the chewing for him, but that doesn’t alter the fact that this beautiful ship has had its innards torn up by that madman.

I must be losing my touch. I should have smelled Stygoss’ trap a light year away. The Iridium Rose crew had been captured and Stygoss was using their ship and comm codes to lure us out into the open. And we – I – fell for it like first-time hicks in a spaceport. He damn near blasted the tail off the ‘Chaser. It figures he would be a crack pilot. Fortunately, I’m better than he is. I can fly anything…but more on that, later.

Duvessa swore she heard Val calling to her from the supposedly abandoned mining station in the sector, although I wonder if that wasn’t a lure by Stygoss… I like to think Valerian would have known better than to try to communicate with Duvessa in that situation, but if he didn’t know it was a trap – or he was trying to warn her… Well, it doesn’t really matter, now. Duvessa insisted that we go after the Rose crew, despite my own misgivings. I suppose it was a bit much for me to hope that she would have a smugglers’ sense of pragmatism and know when to cut her losses.

She had to get all noble on me and point out that we did owe the Rose crew our skins. I wasn’t about to point out that we initially put our hides on the line for them. This isn’t a game of tag, after all…

But, in hindsight, I almost wish we had cut our losses and run. Almost.

Stygoss herded us up against the station – his ultimate goal, I suspect. The kids hacked their way into the structure – although the idea of Duvessa with a lightsaber, and aboard this ship, is liable to keep me awake at night – and they set off to find the others. Me? I intended to keep an eye on the exterior and look like a hole in the void.

That’s when Stygoss decided to drop in and do a little lightsaber-hacking of his own. My poor ship… I depressurized every compartment and took off like the proverbial bat out of hell and he still kept coming. I shouldn’t have been surprised, really – after raw hyperspace, what’s a little vacuum to this person?

I didn’t have any option, I had to put the ship down in the station’s hangar bay – again, I suspect that might have Stygoss’ intent the whole time. He sure as hell didn’t expect me to blow the canopy and eject my ass away from him – and not a moment too soon. The seat has a very distinctive burn across the back of it – three guesses as to what caused it…

But, as I say, I can fly anything. Don’t ask me how, though… I got that chair so high into the hangar’s gantries that even that fast-moving little ess-oh-bee couldn’t keep up with me. Of course, talk about your frying-pan-into-the-fire situations. I was alone, on enemy territory, with no idea of how the others were doing or a clue of what to do next. Then I happened upon Zaraith and that smarmy captain of his strolling along the promenade like they were on a pleasure cruise.

A bit of careful eavesdropping informed me that this whole bloody incident was a trap set for "The Apprentice" – which at the time, I took to mean Duvessa. Now I’m not so sure… Anyway…

I improvised.

I had a choice between surrendering to the Empire or possibly taking Zaraith hostage and springing everyone – ‘Chaser and Rose. Not much of a choice, really.

Improvisation is usually a wild success or a catastrophic failure. Thank the void that it was a success this time. Zaraith and I might be opposite sides of the fence, but we can speak the same language – which is more than I can say for some of the Rebellion poster-kids. Then again, a gun to one’s head often makes one grasp the fundamental realities of a situation… The deal was simple – the Rose’s crew and their ship released, the ‘Chaser fixed up and similar freedom for my crew and me.

As I say, Zaraith had a competent grasp on the situation. I had a blaster and he didn’t. I took a hell of a risk taking him at his word but, hell, a woman’s gotta gamble sometimes – and I didn’t see any better options on the horizon. The only option that I could perceive involved a pissed-off evil Jedi and a short, painful, meeting with the business end of that lightsaber. No thanks!

So Zaraith managed to round up the rest of the crew – all alive, fortunately – and the Rose’s crew from whatever dungeon they were being kept in and we all got out of there in fairly short order. I don’t blame Gela’han thinking the worst of me when he first saw me yelling at Zaraith like he was a grease monkey rather than the opposition – my ship wasn’t fixed and I was in a hurry, so I was cranky. I think we convinced him that I’m not an Imperial spy. Well, we convinced him enough to get on board the blasted ship and get out. Of course, Geehan is sulking now, but that’s something that can be dealt with in deep space…

…via the nearest airlock, if necessary.

If those fools had told me that they were planting a bomb in the station’s core… Well, I don’t know what I would have done. I’ve noticed that the term "Rebellion" seems to include rebelling against your own people – Dev has already proven that. Even if I had tried ordering them not to go off on personal missions of mayhem, I doubt they would have listened. And it’s not like I’m that opposed to the destruction of imperial property… But would it kill these people to keep me in the loop?

Hm, it might – kill them, that is. If they keep coming up with these little ideas, I’m liable to abandon them and hotfoot it out of the sector. I am a businesswoman, after all.

Gods below, give me something simple to deal with, like the Kessel spice run…

Well, I’m off to get Duvessa drunk. She’s a little shaken up by the fact that Stygoss and Zaraith set up a trap featuring four Star Destroyers, half a dozen frigates and innumerable others just to ensnare her. Although it looks like Stygoss’ star is definitely in the descendant following the failure of this latest stunt, and that’s something I will happily drink to!

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