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The trigger was jamming, sticking on a bent wire or a spot of grease or
something else that he hadn't found in any of his cleaning. Even now, as he
slid the pieces of the barrel back into place, giving a quarter-twist to the
anterior locking mechanism, he could tell something was wrong. There was grit
in the twist, like a single piece of sand in your boot, digging its way
through to your skin. Tiny, but no less of a problem because of its small
size. He propped the butt of the rifle on his bunk, creating yet another
crease he was loathe to let Sergeant Brik see, and checked the action of his
trigger. It pulled smoothly enough, but when he released it, it half-jerked
and half-slid back into position.

A quarter-twist in the opposite direction released the anterior lock and
allowed him to strip the barrel into three parts once more. He laid them
across the tan half-moon that served as the standard issue pillow for
Thaereian enlisted men and set to disassembling the trigger mechanism once

"You, boy - - what do you do?" The voice was thick and phlegmy, with more
than a trace of Huttese in its vowels. Nightwing looked up, trigger guard in
one hand, trigger relay board in the other, and found himself facing a thick-
joweled Nikto. The pale scar that dripped down the right side of his face made
Nightwing think of an acid burn. The bars on the Nikto's shoulders made him
think he ought to be saluting. So quickly that he almost upset the parts he'd
spread around himself on the bunk, Nightwing was on his feet and at attention.

The Nikto - - a Commander, what was a Commander doing in the enlisted
men's quarters? - - sighed, rolled his eyes, and scratched at
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