Chapter Eight

Impossible as it may seem, I have made an error. Out of impatience or a residue of exhaustion, who can say.

The Sand People advance on me angrily. In their breath masks and goggles they are protected from the sand that now stings my eyes and clogs my mouth.

The howling intensifies. The Raiders shake their gaderffii and begin to surround me. There are just too many of them. I can take out four or five in the flicker of an eyelash, but that will just infuriate the rest.

Frustration boils inside me. These interruptions deflect me from my mission.

I never run away from a battle. But this one will tax me, and my strength is needed for the Jedi. If my Master hears I have been wounded, he will be furious.

All of these calculations race through my mind, faster than the Tusken Raiders are moving. One fierce Raider is the first to come at me, racing forward with his stick held high. It is easy for me to fake a dodge to the left, then make a half turn and kick him from behind as he staggers, surprised that there is now empty air where I had been standing.

He falls hard, spraying sand. This gratifies me, but it does not please his companions.

The Tusken Raiders have maneuvered me closer to the sheer face of the canyon wall. They think they have trapped me. They plan to take their time slicing me to ribbons, enjoying what they think is my fear.

At that moment, my wrist comlink sends off an alert signal. One of the probe droids has found something. The noise splits the eerie silence in the canyon. Even the Tusken Raiders pause.

The Jedi have been located. I must get back to the Infiltrator.

I turn my back to them, but only for an instant. I run straight for the canyon wall. I don't have much distance to cover, so I have to run fast. I feel the tearing wound in my left thigh, but I push it aside. Pain is another annoyance. It will not slow me down.

I run up the sheer wall, calling up the dark side to escape my enemies. My contempt and my anger at the Tusken Raiders help me. I am able to scale the wall despite the pain. With a final burst of strength that sends red agony through my leg, I flip over backward, fly over the surprised upturned faces of the Raiders, and land behind them.

They are so startled they don't react. That gives me a head start. I take off through the canyon, heading back to my ship. My wound troubles me, but now my annoyance is toward myself for feeling it. I force myself to run with my usual strength and speed.

They are no match for me. They chase me, shaking their gaderffii sticks, but they cannot catch me. I am a streak of darkness, faster than light.

I make it back to the ship. I see out the windshield that the Tusken Raiders stand a hundred meters away. They talk among themselves, waving their arms. But I know they'll give up, and they do. They trudge off, looking for easier prey.

The droid appears a few minutes later. I check its readout. One Jedi was spotted in Mos Espa. The coordinates indicate that he is heading out of the spaceport. He is most likely returning to his ship.

Jedi, I hope you are complacent right now. I hope you think you are safe for the moment. I know your arrogance tells you that you are a match for whoever is looking for you. Your surprise will add to my pleasure when I destroy you.