26-year-old, Kor Sheen worked in the scrapping shipyards on the planet Bracca as a cutter. Once, before he was born, his parents had been Jedi padawans, but no more. Their dream ended the day it started.
Before their first day at the Jedi Temple was over they’d been forced to run from Darth Vader’s attack when he turned to the Dark Side. Now, years later, they were both dead and he was stuck in a dangerous job on a backwater planet in a galaxy that was dissolving into chaos.
“Hey, Kor! You with us?”
Startled out of his reverie, he looked around. Prauf, the seven-foot-tall alien supervisor was waving at him. “Come on, give us a hand with this thing.” He and three other members of their work crew were straining to lift a cabinet of electronic equipment out of its recessed socket in the deck of the ship they were tearing apart.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said, hurrying over to grab it.
Prauf nodded. “Okay, one, two, three!”
They grunted as they lifted the heavy cabinet and heaved it out the hole in the side of the ship onto a flatbed hauler. Prauf thumped the hood of the cab, waking up the driver. “Take it away,” The driver nodded and accelerated away from the entrance. The ground below the gaping hole in the side of the ship was nearly three hundred feet down.
Prauf made a notation on a datapad then stuffed it in his pocket. “Alright, that’s the last of the electronics on this level,” he said. “Fire up your cutters and have at it. Try not to hit anyone on the ground.”
The crew laughed. As they cut pieces out of the ship, they shoved them out the hole in the side. Anyone stupid enough to wander around under a scrapping operation deserved whatever happened to them when a ton or more of scrap metal fell on them.
Kor and Luthvel, a green-skinned Argazdan, started work on the ceiling. A panel came loose and fell to the floor with a heavy thud. Above it was the sky. The top 15 floors of the ship were already gone. A scrapping crew started at the top of a ship and worked their way down, dismantling it as they went until nothing was left.
For the next hour, they worked steadily with a minimum of talk. What little they had to say was work-related, “Cut here,” “Hold on a second,” “I’ve got it,” and things of that sort. Kor had been working with the crew for years and he still didn’t know much more about them than he did when he started. They didn’t live together, didn’t spend time together after work, and didn’t have anything in common aside from their work.
The only one he’d grown close to was Prauf. The heavy-set, gray alien was built like a weight lifter but had the soul of a poet. He lived frugally because he sent most of his money back home to his extended family. Consequently, he often ran short of money right before payday and Kor had gotten into the habit of helping him out.
Scrapping paid decent money. Aside from his tiny room, meals, and an occasional new shirt, most of his money went into a sack under his bed. It didn’t hurt him to spring for a meal now and then for Prauf, resulting in them spending some idle time together.
He’d mentioned that his parents escaped from Coruscant during the war against the Jedi and were both dead now, but nothing more. He certainly hadn’t told him about being them being padawans and passing their power on to him. The Empire might be gone but the chaos left in its wake was just as dangerous. His father had always impressed upon him how dangerous it would be if he was revealed to the world as a Force-sensitive. He and Prauf were friendly, but he didn’t want to put their friendship to that sort of test.
A sudden crack of breaking metal and a startled cry interrupted their work.
Kor turned to see Prauf overbalancing and falling as a sheet of deck plating broke under his feet. Advance scrapper crews went ahead of the final cutting crews like theirs, prepping the ship for them. Their work often resulted in weak areas that could give way without warning. Prauf had had the misfortune to step on one of them and it collapsed under his weight.
Kor dove to grab Prauf’s outstretched hand but the big alien was already falling before he could get there. He slid to a halt looking down over the side of the ship as Prauf plummeted toward the ground below.
A passing hauler was heading toward Prauf but he was falling so fast he’d already be past it by the time it got in position to catch him.
Kor reacted on instinct, reaching out with the Force to slow Prauf’s fatal plunge. He could see Prauf’s reaction as his speed suddenly slowed. Hope blossomed on his face, then the hauler was under him and he tumbled head over heels as he hit. It was a rough landing and he’d probably be bruised and banged up, but he was alive.
Kor heaved a sigh of relief.
He pushed himself up to his knees as the rest of the crew came over to see what happened. “He’ll be alright. A hauler caught him,” he told them. “It was close, but it caught him.”
“Whew!” Luthvel hissed in satisfaction. “That’s one lucky SOB. He might actually retire.” The rest of them laughed roughly. Scrapping was hard, dangerous work and dying on the job was part of the job. Surviving long enough to retire was a rare event.
Before long, Prauf was back with them, windmilling one arm where he’d bruised it. Everyone gave him a good ribbing about his fall and subsequent good fortune to have survived it. He took it in good humor but now and then he gave Kor a strange look.
Kor realized he might have blown his cover and wondered uneasily if Prauf was going to turn him in. He’d been here since he was just a kid and if he had to run, he didn’t know where to go or even how. His act of mercy might have just sealed his fate.