I knew it, Zeva thought as the condescending voice of Niknik Kuat reached her from further down the Vainglory’s ring corridor. As she snapped her collapsible shock baton into service, though, she heard another, unfamiliar voice – but this one she knew, through the Force.
This isn’t just a trap; this is a TRAP! The blood in her limbs ran icy.
She fished her comlink out of her jacket pocket and backed away from the voices, sidestepping into a darkened crew cabin. Caster was sure to keep them talking long enough for her to send out a quick warning. Tell her to stay away. You can handle this!
“It’s a trap, Kay,” Zeva whispered as soon as the com’s light turned green. “Niknik Kuat is here, with one of the Hounds of Winter. The man we saw on Takodana. The one she told you about on Iridonia: Marius Krath. We’re at Docking Bay 607. Krath doesn’t know I’m here yet, b-”
The hairs on the back of her neck told her of the other in the room before the Force did. Zeva dropped to one knee and spun to face the stranger as he appeared before her, knife outstretched, slicing the back of her hand open and forcing her to drop the comlink. Hidden by an alien mask, the attacker’s face vanished from view in a shimmering haze. Zeva had just enough time to catch a glimpse of the familiar snow-wolf patch on the assassin’s shoulder before it, too, faded from view.
Stealth field generator. Strike while you still know where he is!
Zeva dropped a shoulder and lunged forward to slam the assassin against the wall, but he deftly avoided her charge. He’ll try to stab you in the side now, she thought, moving her arm to deflect the blade at the last moment. She turned again and jabbed the end of her baton into the assassin’s forearm, holding the button down until the coursing current made him drop his weapon.
The Jedi thought about stepping back, but there was nowhere to go; this room was like a glorified closet. Instead, she brought her knee up, hoping to knock the wind out of him – but he brought both hands down to block the kick, then drove both palms into Zeva’s stomach, winding her. Muttering something in a raspy whisper, the assassin wrested the baton from Zeva’s hands and struck her under the chin with it, sending her to the floor and painting her world in hot, painful colors.
She couldn’t pull herself together, couldn’t marshal her wits or her strength. She saw the assassin toss the baton away and pick up his knife. He was too slightly built to be human…
Caster, came a distant thought. He needs you. Caster needs you.
“Can’t,” she wheezed, and the assassin paused for a moment. “Tired. So tired.”
He’s going to kill you!
“Errybody dies.” Her tongue tripped over the words. The assassin rasped something in reply and crouched beside her, clamping one hand around the Jedi’s neck and raising the knife in the other. “S’way o’Force.”
Not here, not like this. Kaylani would never forgive you.
She laid one hand on the outside of her jacket, knew how cold the metal cylinder was beneath the leather. She lifted it slightly, toward the creature looming over her. Zeva closed her eyes and found the secret switch inside the casing, gave it a gentle push through the Force.
Bright green flooded into every corner of the room as the lightsaber’s blade thrummed to life, piercing the assassin through something vital in his chest. The knife clattered uselessly to the floor, followed by its wielder as Zeva doused her weapon – her TRUE weapon.
Pity that Ilum was off-limits when my time came to build it. I wonder if the Empire knows about the caves…?
Focus. There’s nothing wrong with your lightsaber. As for what’s wrong with you, well, you don’t have time for pain. Get up. There’s work to do.