Bekka gave me a sickeningly sweet smile. “I knew you’d see it my way. I have never met a Mandalorian that could resist a challenge.”
“Well, I am so glad I haven’t disappointed you.”
I took a few steps forward. “Lets get this over with.”
Bekka rotated her wrist, her vibro-sword cutting an arc through the air. “So impatient, you are. It is always a joy to find someone in a hurry to die.”
My opponent rushed forward, vibro-sword raised. I moved, igniting the lightsaber as I did so. I heard the distinct snap-hiss of the blade as it appeared from the hilt; a bright blue streak of energy against the dimness of the room. I raised my blade to meet hers and was surprised by the lightness and smoothness of the weapon. Raw energy met with Cortosis. I pushed forward; Bekka took a slight step backward, breaking contact.
“Since when do Mandalorians carry laser swords? Or do you fancy yourself a Jedi?”
We stepped around each other lightly, our paths making a crude circle on the floor as we moved, gauging each other.
“I am no Jedi, Bekka, but that does not mean that this weapon won’t still kill you.”
Bekka crouched low. “You can try, but you will find that I am not so easily disposed of.”
I moved as she spoke, in what seemed to me like slow motion. I leapt into the air, lightsaber raised and landed mere inches from Bekka, who brought her blade up in defense, just as I slashed the saber downward.
A loud bang signaled the use of explosives nearby. The already damaged structure groaned and shook. I felt more than saw, part of the ceiling collapse; the debris falling in our direction. I pushed Bekka away, rolling to the right and coming up on one knee in a cloud of dust. I peered through the haze, seeking out my enemy.
“Where are you Bekka?” I stood, looked around and moved carefully through the debris. “Come out and fight.”
I sensed something come up behind me and instinctively turned, saber ready. Bekka lunged at me. I moved to the left, the pieces of rubble making it hard for me to maneuver. My boot caught on a piece of duracrete, sending me tumbling backward, lightsaber flying out of my hand and landing a few feet away, blade extinguished.
Before I could stand, Bekka was right on top of me, the cutting edge of her weapon inches away.
“Now you die, Schutta!”
I extended my leg, smashing into her lightly armored knee and sending her backward. I scrambled to my feet and reached for the lightsaber hilt, rolling forward and taking cover behind a fallen piece of ceiling, to get my bearings. I heard her scrambling through the piles of duracrete.
“Where are you Schutta? Come out and face your death like a warrior.”
I took a breath and focused before moving from cover. Aiden believed in me. I couldn’t let him down. Bekka stood there, a deadly expression in her eyes. There would be no negotiating with her. Only one of us would leave here alive; I was determined that it would be me. We moved toward one another, not with speed, but with purpose. Each of us calculating the other one’s downfall. She swung at me. I leaned to the side, the edge of her blade clanging against my armored shoulder. She slipped on the piles of debris, regained her balance and came at me, arms raised to strike. I swung the lightsaber, cutting through her right wrist; the vibro-sword falling to the ground, hand still attached to the hilt.
She stumbled and fell, landing with her back against a wall. I slowly walked toward her. Just as I reached her, She raised her left hand and squeezed off a shot with her holdout blaster. I dodged and jumped the remaining feet, stabbing the saber through her chest. Her eyes widened, as if in shock and then dimmed.
I sighed as I extinguished the lightsaber and hung it from my belt. Time to find the others and get out of here.
I followed the path out, passing several bodies of fallen swoop racers and a few of slaughtered slaves. I exited the base and raced up the corridors, out of the crumbling building and into the Under-city. There was no sign of the others, so I made my way through the streets and back to the area of the lift.
Aiden, Dak, Shorcuk and Kira stood near the lift. Aiden’s eyes met mine as I approached.
“I was beginning to wonder when you would show up.”
“Well, you know me, I take my time.” I held out my hand. “Here. Thanks for letting me use it.” I handed him the lightsaber.
Aiden took the saber and fastened it onto his belt. “I hope it was useful.”
I turned to look for the servants. “Where are the others?”
“I sent them back to the Lower-city.” Aiden hung his head. “We lost a few.”
I placed a hand on his shoulder. “Better to die, reaching for freedom than to live as a slave.” I smiled at Dak and Shorcuk. “Let’s get out of here.”
Manias wept at the sight of his daughter as we stepped into his small shack. Kira raced to him, flinging herself into his outstretched arms.
“How can I ever repay you?”
“There is no need, Manias. The happiness we see in your eyes is payment enough.”
“Thank you so much for rescuing my child. I could never have done it without you.”
I smiled at the man. “All I ask is that you stop gambling. I may not be around to help you out next time.”
Manias nodded. “I promise. I have learned my lesson.”
Kira stepped forward. “I owe you my life. Take me with you; let me serve you.”
I shook my head. “You owe me nothing. Just take care of your father and we will be even.”
After our goodbyes, my crew and I took the lift to the Upper-city and walked toward the ship. Dak walked up beside me and placed a hand on my shoulder.
“So, where to?”
“I have no idea. We have to find out where Sinka was headed and what she plans to do with the artifact. I am sure there are more pieces out there. I just hope she hasn’t already found them.”
Aiden spoke. “As do I, but we can not be sure. All we can do is take this one day at a time and trust in the Force.”
Dak chuckled. “All you ever do is trust in the Force.”
Aiden smiled. “Well, it has gotten us this far, hasn’t it?”
I nodded. There was no arguing with that.