"Hey. Get out of my flightpath."
Abigail blinked at the gruff voice crackling over her transceiver without so much as a hail, mouth twisting as she checked her radar.
Tiny craft, not a hint of identification.
Joyrider, she decided. Possibly stolen; it wouldn't be out of place over Tattooine. And Tattooine by all rights wasn't a planet where a wise pilot antagonized locals, particularly not locals who spoke with an own-the-space edge on their tongue and held position off a sleeker ship's left wing with magnetic steadiness.
"Get in line, rustbucket - I didn't see any jalopy warning signs."
Wisdom had never been Abigail's strong point. The seething sound the other woman made was more delight than danger to her ears, and the way the smaller craft dipped closer made her wriggle in her harness in anticipation.
Definitely a rustbucket, now that she could see it through her narrow windshield - the other craft looked almost cobbled together. Not poorly-made by any means; in the clear stillness of space Abigail's sharp and practiced eyes could pick out intricate (if unorthodox) sealing, well-balanced stabilization to offset what looked to be powerful thrust, smooth and deliberate movement that spoke of either well-programmed mechanical orienting or an expertly attuned gyroscope.
How very interesting.
"You pile that together yourself, rustbucket?"
"You beg that off daddy yourself, spitshine?"
"Hey." Abigail chewed her lip, offense and amusement warring in her voice. "I earned this."
"Yeah?" Rustbucket was skeptical; the pause between words held a soft snort, and while Abigail couldn't see her through the windshield's solar shielding she could well imagine pursed lips and wrinkled nose. "Doing what?"
"This particular one? Swoopracing on Lamaredd."
"Yeah?" Abigail leaned forward in her harness, marking her flightpath. "Bullshit this."
She accelerated hard, leaving Rustbucket in her vaportrail; seconds later the little craft was back on her radar before swooping over and around her.
"Nice bullshitting," Rustbucket admitted an hour later. The two crafts were idling wing-to-wing, drifting in the upper atmosphere; Abigail smiled as she leaned back in her seat, relishing the afterglow of a good race.
A good race won.
"Not so bad yourself." She hummed, chewing her cheek again. "Imagine what you could do with a quality ship."
"Excuse me?" Rustbucket's voice was flat with offense. "You knocking my handiwork or is that a bitchass way of saying you wanna go again?"
"Wow. Language." Abigail grinned ruefully. "Ease up there. The craft's good. Fast, nimble. But with up-to-date components…."
"Hey now - you're looking at Tattooine's finest salvage here." The gruff voice was softer now, mollified. "Don't make me get my crew up here."
"Yeah? Where's Rustbucket's Regulars now?"
"Planetside." The tone offered no further discussion. Pity; Abigail was finding she could listen to that voice for days.
Crisp and smoldering with the heat of twin suns. Her mind wandered to how that voice would sound when it really smoldered.
"Well okay then," she said, mindful of the laughter in her own voice. "Do you wanna go again?"
"Yeah." There was regret in that voice. "Can't. Gotta get back down - moving close to sunset where I am."
"Oh. Wild times on Planet Cesspool."
"Watch it." No heat in the voice this time; Abigail was disappointed. "But it was a good race. See ya, Spitshine."
"Right. See ya."
Abigail stared at the blip until it vanished from her radar, gruff alto voice still ringing in her ears.
Maybe it wouldn't hurt to hang around Tattooine a few days; if she missed her next race, there'd be others.
With luck, there'd be others here.
"Where have you been?"
Gogo's gaze flicked up to the man standing in the cafe's doorway, hat askew as he stared down at her.
"Good evening to you too."
She pushed past him to grab empty plates from a table before its occupants could use them as missiles in an argument with a table across the way; if another brawl started in here Cass would have every last participant's hide and her crew would be stuck scrambling to clean it before morning. Tadashi followed her, grabbing what plates she couldn't reach and unwilling to give up the questioning.
"One hour, Gogo. You were supposed to be gone one hour. Aunt Cass is stress-cooking stew because she thinks you blew up."
"The one with the spices?" Gogo paused, brows raising. "I should let her think I blew up more often." She glanced up again, taking in his scowl, the worry lines around his eyes. "Did you think I blew up?"
"No," he lied, lips pursing. "And that stew's for special occasions."
"Huh. Guess we'll have to blow up another crew member when I'm in the mood then. Honey's usually good for an explosion."
"It's not funny, Gogo." He was lying again, voice carrying the taletell warble of suppressed laughter. "Anyway, Honey already blew up Fred today and all they got was yelled at."
"So I'm the only one who merits stew upon combustion, huh. Good to know."
"It's not that." Tadashi's brother Hiro was at her elbow now, reaching to take dishes. "It's that you combusted in space where no one has to clean it up. Fred and Honey combusted in the kitchen."
"Oh. So no stew due to stupidity."
"It was all for science." Hiro considered a moment and then leaned in conspiratorially. "I helped, but I'm faster than they are."
Gogo chuckled, shaking her head.
"People keep saying you're the smartest of us all."
"Yup." He gave her a gap-toothed grin. "So where were you? The flaps helped with reentry, right?"
"Yeah. Yeah, everything's good. I was racing."
"Like podracing?" Wasabi poked his head into the kitchen, a crate of supplies balanced on one broad shoulder. "Gogo, you know–"
"Humans don't podrace, dummy." Gogo snorted. "Or at least we don't win. I tried. We don't have the reflexes."
"I still think you could do it, Gogo." This was Fred, trailed by Honey - both still discolored from whatever concoction had earlier blown up in their faces. Gogo hoped it wasn't actually flammable, or at least that no flammable traces were left; surely they weren't that stupid.
"Right." Honey nodded. "If we could get the sympathetic control working, human reflexes and the whole only-two-arms thing would be way less of a problem! And even then, you're the best pilot on the planet…."
"So you totally won your race, right?" Hiro grinned at her expectantly; Gogo puffed her cheeks and looked away.
"Uh… no." She took in their startled expressions and scowled as her cheeks heated. "Some swoopracer in a state-of-the-art bozomobile, I didn't expect her to be any good. I'll get a rematch if I see her again."
"A swoopracer." Hiro looked mildly starstruck. "Who was she?"
"No idea." Gogo shrugged, bobbing on tiptoe to snag clean dishes for Cass. "Never asked, only heard her talk." She slowly lowered herself back to flat feet, rolling the light voice with just a touch of husky undertone through her head.
She didn't mind having just a voice to go on. Not one with that perfect blend of bite and smile.
"Uhoh." Fred said after a moment. Gogo blinked at his voice, suddenly very aware of the eyes on her. "Gogo's got a crush on a disembodied voice."
"So it's a nice voice attached to a good pilot?" Honey bit her lips, which did nothing to hide her grin. Less so when Gogo scowled.
"Well any drop in a drought, right?" Fred locked eyes with Honey and then Hiro and then all three were grinning insufferably at her; Tadashi cleared his throat gently and rocked on his heels and even Wasabi ducked back out of the little room to hide his smile. Gogo's scowl deepened and she balanced her stack of dishes on one hip, freed fist jabbing out to strike Fred's shoulder and nearly knock him from his countertop perch. "Ow! Haha…!"
"Look, smartass, the Hamadas might have dragged your carcass out of the desert but that doesn't mean I won't put you back." She swept her gaze across the rest of them; Tadashi wasn't even bothering to hide a smile now. "That goes for all of you. Now shut up and let me go tell Cass and Baymax I didn't blow up."
She marched out to the sound of their stifled chortles, lips pursed and nose wrinkled.
And that damnable laughing, biting voice still playing in her head.