THE SENTINEL

The girl was always hungry!

Dave could not figure out where the hell she put all the food. There was not an ounce of fat on her slim frame and not much fat in her chest, either, for that matter. Dave assumed that her thighs were all muscle, but he decided not to test out his theory. Hyperspace was inherently boring – you just streaked across the galaxy with not much to actually look at as you went. However, so many things could go wrong in hyperspace: you could pass through a star, a planet, or even come out inside an asteroid field. Dave just had to trust in Kate's calculations and the navigational computer systems within the SENTINEL. Mind you, considering how often the SENTINEL broke down, Dave was not all that confident of arriving in one piece at wherever they were headed for.

"Where, are we going again?" Dave asked Mindy as she shovelled Corellian potato sticks into her mouth.

"Rishi Station," Mindy replied. "Back during the Clone Wars, it was a Republic outpost. It's located on the Rishi moon in the system of the same name. As I understand it, some clone troopers blew it way the hell up during an attack on Kamino – at least that's what Rex told me."

..._...

The two of them spent an inordinate amount of time talking and eating.

Mindy liked to talk, and Dave got the impression that having been alone, she had not had all that many chances to talk, what with only Kate for company. The conversations generally steered around our ultimate objective and centred on fun things, such as verbally abusing Darth Vader, the Emperor, and anything vaguely related to the Empire. Mindy was a good, but seemingly impatient, teacher and as such she showed Dave some of the SENTINEL's key systems and how they operated.

She was a very good teacher and it surprised Dave that she put up with his inexhaustible questions and sometimes total ignorance.

..._...

He was learning – Mindy was pleased to see that.

If he wanted to be part of her crew, then he would have to be able to lend a hand; the SENTINEL tended to have one or two – alright, a few . . . actually quite a lot of – permanent teething problems, and that meant learning the SENTINEL from end to end. The vessel was not huge, so Mindy deemed it to be a relatively easy task. As for other activities to pass the time on the long voyage in hyperspace, neither of them was all that eager to try any lightsaber sparring – Dave quite rightly pointed out that they might end up killing each other accidentally. They were also more than a little edgy about their apparently developing control over the Force. Mindy's thirteen-year-old body was doing enough developing of its own and as such, she had enough to cope with, without metaphysical forces to handle on top of expanding hips, developing breasts, hair growth, and all the rest.

On that subject – not the metaphysical one – Mindy began to realise that, quit unwittingly, she had been openly flirting with Dave. She had felt totally mortified when she finally realised what she had been, and was still, doing. Dave did not seem to mind – mind you, she was not entirely sure that he had really noticed. Although, the spur of the moment, 'totally accidental', drop of the towel had really freaked Mindy out – one word had rung through her mind immediately after the event: 'why?' – she really had to learn to control her urges.

Only, she had a distinct feeling that her pubescent body was more in control of her, than she was . . . as far as Dave was concerned, at least.

..._...

Dave was not certain if Mindy realised it or not, but she was flirting . . . in quite a major way to be honest.

It had taken Dave a while to notice – which in itself was a surprise to him as he was never normally shy about running his eager eyes over any passing female; human or otherwise. Nevertheless, it was the apparently 'accidental' full-frontal flash that had convinced the teenager that Mindy was flirting – she had looked mortified, admittedly, so Dave had assumed that she had not exactly planned the event and that it was a total spur of the moment thing; as a result, he had never seen her move so fast! Mind you, it had not been her bright red face that Dave had been looking at – her breasts had attracted his attention first. They were not all that big, but they suited her body well and Dave assumed that they would grow over time. Before she had fled, though, he had caught sight of a discrete patch of dark hair between her legs. Again, it was not much, but it demonstrated that she was more of a young woman than a young girl.

Mindy had not spoken about the incident, so neither had Dave.

..._...

The time the two youngsters spent together helped them to get to know each other better.

They could both foresee a time when they would need to be there for each other, either in combat or maybe somewhere else. . . they had no idea what lay before them, but Mindy was grateful to have a companion along for the ride. A part of Mindy – her rampant loins, apparently – wanted her to push forward in a singularly particular way. Push forward? A relationship? She had only known him a few days and now her rampant loins wanted to – ewww! He was a nice guy, to be sure, but what did she actually know about guys? She knew as much about guys, as Rancors knew about civility. She was a bounty hunter; did she really want distractions? Apparently, it seemed, she needed those distractions. They both had a lot in common. She and Dave were what? Kindred spirits? Before she could commit to a relationship, she needed to know a lot more about the boy.

Much more.


The following morning

"Morning, Mindy."

"Morning, Dave."

"No 'morning' for me – typical humans!" Kate muttered as he deposited their breakfast.

"Got out the wrong side of the oil bath, this morning, Kate?" Mindy chuckled.

Kate did not respond. Dave enjoyed the verbal sparring matches between Kate and Mindy. He knew that the droid was one-hundred-percent loyal to Mindy, but he was more than a little surprised that Kate put up with the often-offensive rebukes. Kate seemed to have taken to Dave as well, as the droid would often produce food and drink without being asked. There were times that Kate behaved like a sudo-parent to the pair of youngsters. It was very obvious that Mindy could not run the SENTINEL alone and the droid's assistance was critical to Mindy's – and now Dave's – survival. They both ate breakfast in peace, barely talking but enjoying one another's company. Mindy was concentrating on her food with occasional glances at Dave. Dave caught the glances and he saw Mindy's cheeks turn pinker each time.

Was Mindy wearing a tighter top?

..._...

After breakfast, the pair headed into the cockpit.

From there, they watched the cloudy interior of the hyperspace tunnel as they shot across their section of the galaxy. The constantly changing blueness was admittedly pretty awesome to watch as they headed for the brightest point where the tunnel appeared to come together thousands of miles ahead.

"All looks good here," Mindy said as she finished checking the controls.

They both left the cockpit and were just passing Mindy's cabin when suddenly, they both lost their footing, and each crashed into the forward bulkhead as the SENTINEL vibrated badly before all the lights went out.

"We've dropped out of hyperspace, Mistress Mindy," Kate pointed out unnecessarily.

"Where are the kriffing emergency lights?" Mindy complained as she fell over something with a crash.

The emergency lights came on a few moments later. Mindy was sitting on the deck plates looking very annoyed, but she quickly scrambled to her feet and after a quick sniff of the air, she yanked up a deck plate and dived into the small space beneath. After a few moments, her head appeared.

"We need to fix this – now!"

Dave shuffled forwards, unsure of what he could do to help. Kate nudged a large tool bag with his foot and Dave pulled it over to the gaping hole.

"Grab me a Harris Wrench. . ."

"This?"

Mindy grabbed the offered wrench. A minute later she popped up out of the engine bay.

"I need the bundon tape . . . hurry. Not that one . . . no . . . no . . . that one . . . no . . . no . . . the one I'm pointing to . . . no!"

Kate gently kicked a roll of tape towards Dave. Dave dutifully passed it to the irate Mindy who vanished from sight again. After a few moments of pounding and some foul language, the emergency lights went out.

"Kriff!"

Another few moments of pounding and some more foul language, and there was a loud humming sound and the main lights came back on. There was a shuddering and then the ageing YT-2400 accelerated into hyperspace.

"We've entered hyperspace, Mistress Mindy," Kate pointed out unnecessarily.

"Thank you, Kate."

"You're welcome, Mistress Mindy."

"Maybe a hand out of here, Kate?"

"I better go check for any other damage," Kate replied as he vanished around a corner.

"Mindy?"

Mindy looked up to see Dave reaching a hand down for her. With a grin, she reached up and seized the hand. Then she was surprised to find how strong Dave was as he effortlessly pulled her to his level. Her feet barely touched the deck before Dave let her down. For a moment, Mindy did not let go of Dave's hand but then she realised what she was doing, and she yanked her hand away like she had just been burned.

"Err – I need to check the . . . thingy in the err, cockpit."

..._...

That afternoon, for a change, the SENTINEL dropped out of hyperspace by command.

The moon which grew in the windows of the cockpit had a blue hue and appeared sinister – at least Dave thought so.

"Okay – we should be there very soon. Time to get changed," Mindy said as she punched some buttons before leaving the cockpit.

They each pulled on their armour – not an easy task but it was getting easier – leaving the helmets off to one side.


Rishi Moon

As SENTINEL entered the moon's atmosphere, Dave noticed the wreckage of a large facility.

It looked to have been destroyed years before. It had to have been the destroyed Republic outpost. The landing platform was still partially intact, and Dave noticed that Mindy was heading in that direction. Not only that, there was already a large ship on the platform. Mindy eased the SENTINEL down with only feet between the cockpit on its outrigger and the starboard hull of the other ship.

Mindy disengaged the engines and with a pronounced wine the repuslorlift engines wound down.

..._...

Kate was at the ramp which was lowered ready for Dave and Mindy to disembark.

Mindy double-checked her blasters before she headed down onto the moon. Dave followed close behind.

"What ship is that?" Dave asked as he looked up at the vessel which had obviously seen many battles.

The modified VCX-100 light freighter was an imposing design with port and starboard docking rings. There were also guns fitted into a nose turret and a dorsal turret. Dave had observed a VCX-series auxiliary starfighter docked on the spine of the vessel and providing an aft turret of sorts. Overall, Dave thought that the vessel was intimidating.

"That would be the Ghost," Mindy explained.

At the front of the GHOST, a ramp was in the lowered position beneath the cockpit. Dave and Mindy approached the base of the ramp. Looking upwards, they could see five people coming down the ramp, along with a droid. Three of the people were Human. There was a Twi'lek and another creature that Dave did not recognise. A young female with short hair, which was green and blue, stepped forwards and she held out her hand to Mindy in welcome.

"Mindy!"

"Good to see you, Sabine."

"Dave, please meet the crew of the Ghost. Kanan, Hera, Ezra, Zeb, Sabine, and Chopper. All of you, this is Dave."

"Boyfriend?" Sabine asked with a glint in her eye.

"No!" Mindy exclaimed, and everybody laughed.