She jumps up, grabbing her blaster and aiming it at my head… and then lowers it slowly, sinking back onto the dirty floor. This room hasn't been used in a long time, the lights flicker and dust swirls through the air, making a kind of halo around the girl. The escape pod hatch is blocked by more crates. As I observe my surroundings, she throws the blaster against the wall, making me flinch. My head instinctively whips back towards the hall, searching for threats, but all is quiet.

Except for the sound of the tears coming from the stormtrooper.

"I'm so sorry." She gasps between sobs. "I didn't want this!"

I warily slide the door closed behind me, inching towards the discarded weapon. Ayanela whimpers, and the girl's head shoots up. My instincts kick in at the sudden movement and I grab the blaster, shifting Ayanela to my side to cover her as I aim the blaster at the stormtrooper in one fluid movement.

The girl slowly raises her hands over her head as she stares at the ground, giving me time to assess the threat that she poses. It's hard to glean any knowledge of physical skill with all of the armor. Her skin is a deep black, and her hair is a tangled mess from her helmet. I can't stop myself from mentally stating the obvious. She's beautiful. But before I can think about that, she catches me staring as her eyes meet mine. They are such a deep brown that they're almost black, and tinged red from crying. I can feel myself blushing, but she doesn't seem to notice.

"I-I'm s-so sorry." She repeats.

"Sorry about what? Your evil, oppressive empire just gained eleven new killers." I hiss. She shrinks back against the wall, and I try to ignore the sudden sting of regret.

"I- We d-don't- we didn't ta-take them… w-we k-ki…" she said shakily, her arms, still raised above her head are visibly trembling. I step forward, heart pounding, trying to stay calm, while inside my head I am anything but. No no no. They can't. They couldn't have… I don't want to believe it.

"What. Did. You. Do?" I spit out, aiming the blaster at her head.

"W-we k-k-killed th-them." She sobs, lowering her arms. She tries to wrap them around her legs, but the heavy armor stops her.

I step back, leaning against the wall and clutching Ayanela. I can't stop from crying. Those little girls… they're gone now.

"I-I- I didn't- I didn't know." She whispers, her tears slowing. "But I couldn't do it. I- now they'll kill me." Her breath rushes out. I try to stay strong, but I know that pity shows on my face. This girl has been trained for years to be a cold-blooded killer. And she was my age. If the circumstances had been different, it could have been me in the stormtrooper uniform. But her compassion has given her a death sentence.

My thoughts are interrupted by Ayanela, who begins to cry. I shush her frantically, putting down the blaster, but she doesn't stop, unaware of the danger that she's putting us in.

The girl looks at her with undisguised longing.

"Could I…?" Everything in me screams to not trust her, to shoot her, to run… but some strange new instinct tells me that I can trust her, and I pass Ayanela to the girl, then sit down next to her, crossing my legs.

She smiles as Ayanela settles into her lap and faces her chest, wrapping her tiny arms around her.

"Hi there! It's okay! You're okay! What's her name?" She asks, glancing up at me.

"Her name is Ayanela. Her sister told me." Pain crosses both of our faces at the mention of the children. She takes a shaky breath, looking down at the now calm little girl.

"Hi Aya. Do you feel better now?"

"I'm hungry. What's your name?" She asks in her sweet little voice. The stormtrooper hesitates.

"My name is Tyler." She must see the question in my eyes, because she sighs.

"FY-2094, at your service." Under the sarcasm I can hear the pain in her voice.

"I'm sor-"

"Don't. I know what I am, and I know what I deserve." I don't miss her use of 'what', like she is no longer a person. She is resigned to her fate, to death. I want to help her. The thought hits me. Why do I want to help her? Then a loud noise makes us both jump. Far away, but coming closer. The unmistakable sound of stormtrooper's boots, marching towards us.


A/N: Thanks for reading! Comments are always appreciated!

May the Force be with you 3

-Sahren Athykyna