Space was about to kill Uldir Lochett and his crew in a most unpleasant manner. Although it wasn't the first time the void had tried to snuff him out -- not by a gigaparsec -- Uldir still had plenty of objections.
"We're losing atmosphere, fast," He muttered, combing his fingers through the switches and indicators at the helm of his transport, the No Luck Required. "But where?" His voice already sounded unnaturally thin, and his eardrums felt like they were going to explode. How soon before his blood started to boil?
Stop thinking about that. That's not helping.
"Where do you suppose?" asked Vega Sepen, his first officer, her eyes flashing like corusca gems beneath her platinum bangs. "It's not complicated. Your girlfriend jammed the starfighter bay open."
"Well, seal if off!" he snapped, returning the Corellian's glare. "And do not call her my girlfriend."
"Touchy," Vega said. "You shouldn't let one little spat bust up a good thing. I mean, she only sabotaged our hyperdrive, stole our only hyperdrive-capable starfighter, and left us bleeding air."
"Yeah? You sound jealous to me, Sepen," he snapped.
"Oh, yes, of course," Vega said, studying the system indicators. "I've got the big hurt for you, all right. I'm going to make my move as soon as you're out of diapers."
Her voice sounded weird. The falling pressure, probably.
"Boss . . ." Vega went on, in a more normal tone.
"It won't seal."
"Sithspawn!" He raised his voice, trying to project it through the thinning air. "Vac suits, everyone, now!" He rose to his feet and found his legs wobbly. He suppressed a giggle as the situation suddenly seemed amusing. Was harder-than-corundum Vega Sepen actually jealous of the rogue Jedi? Vega was like a tough older sister -- there had never been anything between them.
Nor was there anything between him and Klin-Fa Gi. She had been an irritating mynock on his hull from the second they met, and that was before she had tried to kill him and his crew.
Another funny thing, this one a real side-splitter. He was pretty sure he didn't have time to make it to the storage lockers before passing out. Why hadn't he thought of the vac suits first? Where was his brain?
Oh, right. Starving for oxygen.
He couldn't help it. He laughed at that one. The galaxy was the best practical joker ever.
He was still chuckling when he tripped over Leaft. The Dug had collapsed in a pile, his limbs sticking up at odd angles. His normally ferocious face actually looked sort of cute with no surly consciousness to animate it. And he had brought some blankets to curl up on, or was it laundry?
No, those are the vac suits, you idiot, some stubbornly rational part of Uldir snarled. You forgot. Leaft didn't.
His vision was blurring. He didn't have long. He put the helmet on first and twisted the feed valve, then started shimmying into the suit. The fresh air smelled good, but his lungs couldn't get much of it -- not enough pressure, without a seal between suit and helmet.
A bunch of black holes suddenly appeared in the bulkhead. Yuuzhan Vong voids? Were they under attack, now, on top of everything else?
"That's it," he muttered. "I give up."
He did, too, as the black holes devoured the ship, the light, and finally Uldir Lochett.
* * *
He awoke to the hiss of air in his helmet. The flat face of a Duro was staring at him with concern. The Duro was wearing a vac suit. It took him a confused moment to understand that it was Vook, the fourth member of his crew. It took only another heartbeat to recall his last memories.
"Leaft, Vega! We have to -- "
"Already done, Boss-boy," Vega's voice sounded tinny in his helmet transceiver. "We're all okay. Leaft's a little on the puny side -- "
"I'm fine," the Dug snarled. He sounded more groggy than convincing.
"Good work, Leaft, going for the suits," Uldir said. "Next time, remember to put yours on first. Always."
"Hrrm. Basic training. Wasn't thinking straight, though." Leaft sounded chagrined, which was a rarity. "Thinking like a human," he added. That was more like Leaft. Uldir was relieved.
"Vook was thinking straight, at least," Vega said.
Vook looked embarrassed, but said nothing.
"Okay," Uldir said, wobbling to his feet. "Let's see what's wrong and fix it."
"And then?" Leaft growled.
"Then we go get our starfighter back and make a certain Jedi experience a great deal of remorse."
* * *