Welcome to the Pod race! It's quite cold up here in TB with it pouring rain right now. I'm about half way orientation for my summer job (two whole weeks...ug!) but on the bright side I can pay the bills. Thank you to eye of sparta and lolistarkiller for reviewing the last chapter. It was much appreciated. To liloistarkiller I hope this chapter meets some expectations :) This one is an extra long one because I really didn't want to split this again and I'm sure the next chapter will start to sagway into the Imperial Academy (oh I'm going to have so much fun with that one!). So, as always I love reading everyones reviews and thoughts for chapters and let me know how this one turned out and any suggestions for the future.

When Ezra got up the next morning she got ready in record speed. She was drinking some water and trying some food she's seen Kanan eat when Hera and Kanan both came in. "Well you're up early."

Ezra looked up at them. "This will be the only time I'll get to see the Boonta Eve Classic, of course I'm up early!" She grumbled but the two adults could see the excitement shining in her eyes at this.

Hera she gave a small smile before grabbing something to eat while Kanan just drank some caf. Ezra was all but bouncing on her feet as she kept glancing at the door for Zeb and Sabine to come. Hera almost smiled at the impatience in Ezra's stance and look. Ezra paced around waiting impatiently for the other two to come. "Come on!"

"Hold on, we're coming." Sabine grumbled. She is not a morning person at all. Looking at the caf with a blank look, Sabine's hand reached out and slowly brought it back to her. As the fumes floated up to her, a blissful look settled on her face. "This smells good."

"Then drink it." Ezra said blandly.

Sabine shot her a look while curling around her drink. "I need to appreciate it more before drinking it." Ezra had a thoroughly confused look on her face as Zeb came in with Chopper right behind him.

"What's with the look kid?"

"Sabine…" Ezra had no idea how to phrase it.

Zeb took one look at Sabine before nodding. "Word of advice kid. Never mess with Sabine's caf is you wanna live." Ezra just nodded, not really taking it in as she took in the strange sight. Kanan and Hera ignored it, being used to it. "Zeb, Sabine and Chopper; you don't have to come with us if you want to do something else. Kanan and I will go with Ezra to the stadium."

Ezra wanted to grumble but held her tongue in the face of the fact that they were even willing to let her watch this. If it meant having babysitters then she won't put up a fuss.

"Are you crazy Hera? All those pod racers and the possible art work." Sabine's eyes went dreamy at the thought of the pod racers and not the race itself. Zeb just shrugged.

"Might as well see what the big deal is about this race." Ezra had an insulted look on her face.

"It's the largest pod race in the Outer Rim!" Zeb gave her an unimpressed look before looking at Kanan.

"So when're we headin' out?"

"As soon as everyone's ready."

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Ezra nearly vibrated in excitement. "The pod race, the pod race!" She nearly squealed. Hera and Kanan gave each other amused looks as her excited whispers.

"This has to be the first time I've seen her let her guard down." Kanan said. Hera nodded.

"If this is what it takes than I'm all for it." The two watched Ezra as she scanned the area for a bet person.

Looking back, she saw Hera raise an eyebrow before bounding away for a moment, still in their line of sight. She wasn't that stupid to pull the same stunt within weeks of each other. Kanan saw Ezra speak with a heavy set alien who wrote something down and shook hands with her before coming back.

"That better have been only your money." He said as they sat down. Hera procured two viewing screens for them as Ezra sat in the row ahead of them. Ezra gave a cocky grin.

"I know what I'm doing." She had her name down for a pretty handsome bet and if she won it than she'll be set for a while and if she lost…with all the winnings she made yesterday can cover it even with the odds she's betting on. Kanan gave her a weary look at that grin knowing that nothing good will come from it. He turned back around and saw Hera giving him a sympathetic look at his frustration.

"At least we know where she is." She said quietly over the dull roar of the crowd as the podrace opening ceremony started.

"For now." Kanan said under his breath. A loud roar washed over them as the flag bearers all came out and the announcers began with one in Huttese and the other in Basic. Kanan gave a side glance and could see Ezra almost vibrating with excitement as the racers names all came over. None were human of course but there were a couple that Kanan thought might have a chance at winning, if they don't all crash first.

Ezra could feel the excitement build up in her as engines started to come to life. The podracers all look amazing in her eyes from what she can gleam. Looking at her screen in her lap she decided to take a look at the different racers and their statistics. She placed her bet on a seventeen year old Gneoise, a devaronian from what the description says racing with a Plug-2 Behemoth. Even though Ezra didn't know her pod racers, all she can tell is that this one is huge with impressive speed. Ezra wasn't sure why she bet on him, just that she has a really good feeling about this. Flicking through the rest of the contestants she saw that there are some racers from previous years and somehow didn't get killed in the process. The previous champion got killed in some sort of skirmish within months of him winning so right now there's no defending champion according to the pad.

Ezra looked at the screen again, scrutinizing it. All the different flags and droids carrying them are interesting in a boring sort of way that Ezra didn't really care about; just tapping her foot while mentally yelling for the announcers to start the race while listening to them announce all the racers. She was dozing lightly when she heard the announcers come on. "Racers, start your engines!"

Sand started to blow around as the engines started to flare to life. Ezra bounced in her seat, eyes sparkling in delight at the scene before her.

Kanan looked over and couldn't help the small quirk of his lips at Ezra's excitement. He has never seen her so excited, so…happy before. He looked at Hera who gave him a smile and they both turned back to the race. A gong rang clearly and the racers took off.

Ezra was on the edge of her seat in excitement while clutching the screen. She watched and cringed as one of the pods crashed into the canyon wall. She watched in nervousness as her person was in fourth place going into the tunnel. "Come on, come on." She repeated while bouncing in her seat in excitement as the racers started on the stretch of going through the arches. One of the pods knocked into the other, sending it flying and it exploded in a ball of fire. The pod racers tried sabotaging each other constantly; including the devaronian which Ezra paid no mind to as one pod racer's engines somehow came off, sending the seat of it spinning on the ground.

"The final lap!" Everyone roared in excitement as Ezra's bet battled it out for first in a three way race as the others racers had no chance of catching up to the devaronian. Ezra kept her eyes glued to the screen as the front racers came out into the open stretch of land for the final leg of the lap. The dug in the race kept throwing parts in the way of the other two racers but kept their distance. Ezra's eyes sparkled in excitement as her person took out the dug by manoeuvring around the arches in the latter leg of the course. "Come on!" She screamed.

Kanan looked at her and shook his head with a small smile at her passion and enthusiasm for the sport. It may not be his type of thing but it looks like even Hera was enjoying it from the way her eyes looked.

It was the last stretch of the race and it's down to the last two contestants as Ezra didn't care about the others who lagged behind. "Go, go, go," she chanted, eyes glued to the screen and the entrance where the racers were coming in to. Just when it looked like she was about to lose, the devaronian somehow put an extra burst of speed that had him pull out in front, winning him the race. Ezra leapt up in joy as he won, cheering with the rest of the crowd. Even though she won some extra money, she couldn't help but think that this is one of the best days she's had in a very long time. She looked at Hera who nodded. Ezra took off so she could get her winnings. She enjoyed the feeling of having money as she gathered her winnings.

"Enjoying yourself?"

Ezra jumped and put a hand on her blaster before relaxing. "Has anyone ever told you that sneaking up on people shortens your life?" She asked.

Condray nodded. "At least once a week." He said with a grin.

Ezra gave him a flat look. "You said that you'd have an answer today." Ezra reminded him.

"Ah yes, I did didn't I Than."

Ezra's eyes narrowed at the way he said the name but didn't say anything.

"Here." He tossed her a small comm. "If I need anything it'll be through that."

"Thanks." She said. "Got a time frame or anything?"

Condray just smirked, earning him a deadpan look from Ezra. "Enjoy your time Than."

Ezra just stood there with the comm in her hand after he left. Shaking her head she quickly left the area. Searching the area, she spotted Zeb by one of the entrances. Jogging up to him, Ezra had a hard time keeping her grin off her face at the amount she's won from the past couple days.

"Got your money kid?" He asked gruffly.

"Yup!" She chirped. She followed Zeb back to the rest of the group. The crew looked at Ezra's gleeful face with her pouch full of credits. "I'll eat like a queen for a month!" Hera gave a fond smile at Ezra while shaking her head.

"We better get going. Did your person pan out Ezra?" Kanan asked.

Ezra gave a shrug. "He said he'll contact us if he needs anything." Kanan nodded at that before turning and leads the group back towards the Ghost. They decided to stop at a bar for some drinks before going to the ship. Ezra sulked as she was only allowed blue milk while everyone else enjoyed their alcohol. "You're barely two years older than me!" Ezra whined at the unfairness of it all.

"It was this or nothing kid." Ezra glared at the glass at that comment. Zeb started his third drink when his ears pricked at the sounds of shouting. It got louder and louder. "Uh, Kanan, something's happening outside." Ezra pointed out with some nervousness seeping into her voice.

"It's Tatooine, there's always something happening." Kanan said brushing it off.

"I know that, but-" The sound of shouting and blaster fire made them all jump.

"What's going on?" Sabine asked in confusion as she put her drink down.

Hera and Kanan gave each other looks of concern. "We better head back to the ship." The group turned to leave when blaster fire erupted from the tavern. Ezra immediately went under the table at the sound while everyone else drew their own weapons. People were shooting at everyone and everything as things spiralled out of control inside.

"This isn't good." Ezra said while still under the table.

"What the kriff is going on?" Zeb asked in agitation.

"That is a good question Zeb." Hera replied as she watched for any blasters pointing in their direction.

"Sabine, Ezra, Chopper, head back to the ship now."

"Really Kanan?" Sabine asked.

"Just do it!"

Sabine scowled before grabbing Era and ran outside where people were running in all directions. "Run!" Sabine yelled. She lost her grip on the younger girl when people knocked into her.

Ezra quickly took off running towards the Ghost after getting separated from Sabine when she got shoved into a small side street. She kept running when she nearly knocked into some people and got shoved into the wall. Ezra immediately kicked at the offender and turned around. Only to find a person three times bigger than her with blasters with barrels bigger than her fist staring down at her. Swallowing, Ezra's eyes darted to the side before she took off running, dodging his meaty hands. She immediately turned the corner right when she heard a blaster go off in the direction she's in. "Well, he's mad." She said sardonically. Turning down a street she kept running until she skidded to a stop at the sound of blaster fire. "That's not good." Ezra said to herself. People came running and screaming towards her as she turned to run again. Ezra turned corners while running, not caring where she was going at this point until she tripped and fell onto her hands and knees before rolling onto her front. "Ow." She whined. Her hands were scrapped from the small rocks and her pants ripped at the knees, making her scowl. Grunting she got on her elbows when a hand came into her vision.

"Need a hand?"

Rather than answer him, Ezra grabbed his hand and got hauled up as the rumbling sound of a heard of people came closer. She fought her tunneling vision by shaking her head until the dizziness feeling left. "We need to go." Ezra said urgently. The two took off running until they ran by some run down houses. Ezra was surprised at how they looked. Her partner grimanced.

"Slave quarters."

Ezra could only stare at all this. She knew slavery still exists, just like drug trafficking still exists. She turned to her companion and was shocked at how young he looked. A young human male who looked around her age with bleach blond hair and a still innocent air around him. Ezra held the urge to crush it. "Do I get a name?" The boy blinked at Ezra's question. "If you don't answer I'll start making things up and you won't like it." She said lightly with a small grin.

The boy gave her a quizzical look before replying. "Luke. The name's Luke."

"Ezra. Just Ezra." The two shook and Ezra could feel power inside Luke swirling deep. Her eyes widened in shock at it and didn't let any of this show on her face as they dropped their hands. "So what happens now?" Ezra asked. The two started walking again away from the slave quarters.

"I have to get back to my Aunt and Uncle since we separated in the riot. Uncle was looking for some parts for the moisture vaporator and selling water since the podrace was happening."

"Did you see what happened?" Ezra asked in curiosity.

Luke shook his head. "Not all of it. I saw the flag parade and the start before I got dragged away to help with the supplies, but I did hear the end commentary."

"It was awesome." Ezra had stars in her eyes as she thought about the race. "Not as dramatic as the famous one from nearly thirty years ago, but still amazing. There were three still in the running by the final lap…" Ezra just chattered on about the race as they walked around. "Luke, where are we?" She asked. She hadn't come by here before.

Luke grimanced. "Just some old junk shops and shady dealers. We don't come here often but I've always been told to avoid this part."

"Do you always do as you're told?" Ezra asked curiously. Luke just shrugged at that. Ezra rolled her eyes at that. "What is with me and attracting the goody two shoes?" She muttered.

Luke looked offended at that. "I'll have you know I've threaded the needle in Beggar's Canyon!" Ezra had a confused look on her face. Luke sighed. "You know the part of the track of the pod race where all the canyons and that smooth dried river bed are?" Ezra nodded slowly. "There a tall rock formation, not sure if you saw it on the cameras, but there's just a large enough hole for a skyhopper to fit in it. It's the mark of a true pilot if you can fly through that thing." Ezra looked intrigued at that.

"I'm assuming you know someone who's done it then?" Luke nodded, pride in his eyes.

"My friend Biggs and I are the only two that I know of that's done it and survived." Ezra had a slightly impressed look at that declaration.

"It is impressive, I'll give you that."

"There's really nothing much else to do here except for racing and building droids when you have the spare parts when you're in the middle of the desert."

"So I take it then you don't live near any settlements." Luke shook his head.

"We live near Anchorhead by Mos Eisley but since Mos Espa is bigger and because it's the Boonta Eve Classic, Uncle decided it would be better to come here." Luke didn't mention the fact of Aunt Beru persuading Uncle Owen so he can see parts of the race.

"Do you have a comm?"

Luke shook his head. "We barely made enough money from the last harvest to pick up essential supplies, let alone frivolous supplies as it would be put.

" "Come on let's find your Aunt and Uncle."

"What about your folks?"

"They're fine. I just have to get back to the ship before sun down." Ezra said. It wasn't exactly a lie but not the complete truth either. The two walked around trying to find Luke's Aunt and Uncle while they made small chat, not really delving into anything personal. 'At least he has some sense in that regard,' she thought as they talked. It would do no good if he gives away personal information like it's nothing. After walking for a while, Ezra finally got fed up with Luke whining about how hard his Uncle is on him and how boring his life is. "Will you stop it?" She snapped, her patience finally breaking. "You should be thankful that those people even took you in after your parents died! They didn't have to and yet they did. Mine were taken when I was a child and left to fend for myself on the streets for years! You think your life is hard? You have an Aunt willing to love you and I bet your Uncle loves you in his own way. Me? I had nothing. I had no one for years so don't you dare complain when I'm around."

Luke stayed quiet after that, thinking about what she said. Was it all true? Did she really live alone all this time by herself with no one to depend on? The two walked in silence until they came across the arena. Ezra scanned the area, getting a nasty feeling when the Force screamed at her. "Look out!" Ezra tackled Luke to the ground when a blaster shot went over their heads. "What the kriff?" Ezra asked as she looked up. She couldn't sense the person at all. "You okay?"

"Yeah, fine." Luke got out as they both scrambled up, looking for any sort of cover. "Who is that?"

"How should I know?" Ezra shot back. "Do you have any idea where your Aunt and Uncle may be?"

Luke looked around with uncertainty before pointing in a direction. "That way."

Ezra gave him a sceptical look but followed anyway. She kept an eye out and had her senses on high alert in case the assassin came back. Why target Luke? He was just a farm-boy with no connections to anything. If anything she would be the…Era furrowed her eyebrows in thought.

Luke glanced back and saw Ezra frowning. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine farm-boy." Ezra muttered distractedly.

Luke snorted at the nickname. 'Better than Wormy anyway,' he thought as they weaved through the streets. "Hey Ezra, I'm-"

"Don't apologize." Ezra said shortly. "It's fine."

"No, it's not." Luke insisted.

Ezra stopped and looked into Luke's eyes. "Look, I've had years to adjust to this and it's not your fault either so don't apologize for what the Empire did. It's not like you reported them." Luke's eyes widened at that piece of information while Ezra kicked herself for saying that. 'Why am I so comfortable around him?' She asked herself. And so nice? There was something about his presence that felt soothing, almost like…Ezra stopped that train of thought right there, not wanting to think about it.

Luke looked around for any sign of his Aunt or Uncle when he decided to try by their speeder which was farther away. Wanting to groan at that, he took Ezra's hand to get through the crowd. Or tried to.

Ezra jerked her hand out of his before realizing what happened. She just shook her head in self-deprecation. "I don't do well with people touching me." She said, trying to sound apologetically. It wasn't Luke's fault, he didn't know.

Luke gave an apologetic smile before turning back to find the family speeder. "If you're not from Tatooine, where are you from?" Luke asked curiously. Ezra answered him knowing it wouldn't hurt.

"Lothal. It's also in the outer rim and it's about a day in hyperspace to get there."

"What's the planet like?" Ezra took pity on the boy, knowing that he would've grown up on this desolate planet. "It has some spiralling rock formations out in the grasslands. Golden grass as far as the eye can see. There are lakes spotted around with one right on the edge of the Capital. Big buildings with a cadet academy on the outskirts." Luke was having trouble imagining the lakes as water is precious on Tatooine. "On another subject, how can you stand the heat?" Ezra asked. Nearly whining but that's not the point.

Luke just shrugged. "I'm just used to it that's all."

"You would not like some of the planets I've heard from pilots then." Ezra said with a grin. "I've heard that some are so cold that there's only ice and snow."

Luke's face at that nearly had Ezra cackling. "Of course, Lothal got its own fair of snow but only for a couple months out of the year." Ezra suppressed a shiver. Those months were the absolute worst in her life. Not only trying to find food, but also shelter so she didn't freeze to death. She was brought out her musings by a shout.

"Luke! Where have you been?" A woman came running up. By Luke's relaxed posture, Ezra speculated that this is his Aunt.

"Aunt Beru!" Luke said in relief. He gave her a tight hug in return. "I got lost in the riot. Oh, this is Ezra." He gestured to Ezra who was looking down. "She helped me get away from the crowd." Beru gave a small smile to the young girl who looked a little gaunt and had ripped up pants with blood on her knees.

"Pleased to meet you Ezra and thank you for taking care of Luke."

Ezra just shrugged. "Only trying to help ma'am." She said while peaking up. Beru looked like one of those people who couldn't hurt a fly. Which in Ezra's mind meant that if you threaten anything she holds dear than you're essentially screwed.

"None of that ma'am stuff Ezra. I'm guessing you came to see the podrace then?" Beru's smile tightened slightly at the mention of the pod race but Ezra didn't really take any notice. She just nodded in excitement. "It was amazing! I just wish I had the talent to do that." She sighed wistfully.

Beru looked at Luke. "I'm going to go call your Uncle who went out looking for you. Don't move." She said with a pointed finger. Luke looked slightly offended at that. Ezra couldn't help but snort at the interaction between the two.

"I take it you'll be going back to your farm then?" Luke nodded with the slightest of scowls.

"Couple more years then I can get off this rock." Ezra just nodded. The two stood in silence waiting for the adults to show.

"Luke!" A voice barked. Luke's head shot up.

"Uncle Owen!"

Ezra took in the man's shaggy appearance. He had a stern look and posture but if you looked you can see the pure relief in his eyes for his nephew.

"Where were you?" He demanded.

"Got lost in the crowd." Luke said. "I found Ezra and we waited for everything to die down before coming to the speeders." He rubbed the back of his head while omitting the part of them getting shot at. "We were a bit farther away than I thought."

Owen just nodded before looking at the girl. She had a posture that screamed weary and alert like she will run at any sign of danger. But her eyes…her eyes look dead for the most part if no one is looking. He's seen this in street kids the few times he's gone into town and usually within a couple months they were never seen again. "Thank you for keeping Luke company." He said gruffly. Ezra wanted to shrug. It wasn't that big of a deal was it?

"It wasn't a problem. Besides," she said with a grin. "It was fun watching him go pole axed at the thought of lakes and planets that aren't a thousand degrees. Oh, and the mention of snow."

Beru gave a small smile at the girl, glad she never mentioned anything about piloting or really leaving the planet. Just repeating things she's heard from other people or coming from a milder planet. Although Beru did enjoy imagining Luke's face at those subjects. She does admit that would be funny. "Well Ezra, why don't we go and find your folks?" Ezra quickly shook her head.

"It's fine, I can find them on my own. Besides," she looked at the setting suns. "It's getting late and Luke said you have a long way to go. It was nice meeting you." Ezra turned to leave when Luke called back to her. "Good luck with everything!"

Ezra turned with a puzzled expression before shrugging it off and left. Luke gave a sad look getting the feeling he might never see her again.

Beru and Owen gave each other looks. The girl has had a hard life from the look in her eyes. But there was something deep in them, something they doubt even she was aware of. Hope and happiness. "Come on Luke, let's go home." Beru said, guiding Luke to the speeder. "And don't think you're getting out of a talking about earlier." Owen warned. "

Yes Uncle Owen." Luke said more subdued. But he thought back to what Ezra said and shook his head as they left Mos Espa.

So, yes I brought Luke in and Ezra has no idea who he really is. The fun continues in chapter 19! Let me know what you think of it :D