The sting of acrid smoke claws at her as she struggles for breath. She lets her senses slip as she closes her eyes and eases into that other head space. She reminds herself she is fine, this won’t kill her, she can endure this. She reaches out, sensing where she needs to go, wrapping the Force around her like a protective blanket. She opens her eyes and the sharp pin-pricks of burning engine fuel assault her senses again. This time it’s going to be bad, but not as bad as the first time she was on fire.
Eight years earlier…
“Hurry Padawan, the escape pods aren’t far.” The voice of her master cut through the chaos and smoke and grounded Avigal again. She continued to run as fast as her ten year old legs would carry her. She wasn’t far behind him when a section of the ship’s bulkhead started to collapse, the metallic scrape a deafening shriek followed quickly by an explosion that knocked the lanky girl to the deck. She looked up through tangled hair and saw her master face down and pinned by a burning section of wall; his robes aflame.
Avigal scrambled to her feet and rushed to him. “Master!” she cried out, batting down the flames. She reached for the cloak to try to drag him from beneath the duralloy plate. The charred fabric tore and she ended up on her backside, the smoldering fabric in her hands. She leapt up again and bolted toward her master. She spotted his arm beneath the twisted metal, grabbing his wrist she pulled. “Master, please!” The ship sighed again and everything tilted and started to slide. Her master, pulled by the weight of the wreckage toward a crumpled section of what was once the east corridor. She held his forearm with both hands, stubbornly refusing to move, digging her heels into the deck. She slowed him briefly but as she clung to him she realized three things very quickly: Master Evaand was too heavy to move and she would soon be pulled across the deck with him, the corridor was growing uncomfortably hot making it difficult to breathe, and lastly she realized that she couldn’t sense her Master any longer.
Opening her fingers slowly, she let him go. She watched as he slumped and slid slowly across the deck. The loss of his weight acting as a counterbalance dropped her back to the deck. Her heels were still pressing the slim metal plank that had given her purchase; she could feel the heat beneath her as the ship began to burn in earnest. She moved her feet back quickly as the singed edge of her outer robe began to smolder before igniting. Avi could feel the flames racing up her back . She quickly yanked it off and kicked it away before it could burn her further. She reached up to her head, the sharp stinging and caustic smell confirming what her hand could feel, much of her hair had been burned away. She rubbed her hands vigorously over her head, hoping to extinguish any embers, the pain of her blistering skin making her wince.
A glint of bright silver metal flickered just on the periphery of her vision, she turned her head to see it better… her master’s lightsaber! It seemed almost brighter against the charred metal. She crawled to her feet, swaying unsteadily as the ship beneath her shuddered. She staggered toward the lightsaber, hooked on a piece of decking, reaching her hand out she did what she and her master had practiced thousands of times – she called the lightsaber to her hand. It responded immediately, slapping her palm with a comforting weight. One faltering step at a time, Avigal traversed the wreckage of the corridor to the escape pods. All of them were available she noted grimly. No one else from this section made it to the pods. She popped the hatch and swiftly climbed inside, keying the door behind her and set the escape pod’s basic navigation to Republic territory, just as she’d been taught. She slapped the red launch button and quickly strapped herself in as the quick-launch counted down.
The small plasteel window offered Avi a view of the ship as her pod raced away, it looked to her like the massive ship was swallowing itself. Within minutes she could see explosions and large areas covered in flames. Avigal didn’t see the ship explode, or feel the shockwave that drove her small pod off course. She had already lost consciousness.