Harsh wind swept through the air in loud gusts, kicking up clouds that rolled over the desert in a grainy fog. A human trudged alone through the cool air, a bag strapped across her chest and her face completely covered with goggles over her eyes. Her terrain coloured clothes whipped and flapped in the high winds. She stopped and tightened her belt for the fifth time that hour while her goggles got clouded over again. This planet was unforgiving but it was home for her, a decrepit haven for criminals and outcasts. No real names here, not even to trusted employers such as her own at the Tosche Station or Chalmun's Cantina. Sometimes she didn't really even know her name. Better for her though, safety for an unlucky descendant of the Mandalorian Knight, Dorjander Kace.
Sara held her saber close to her heart, walking to Mos Eisley for work again. She came up to the residences on the outskirts of the town. Maybe she could get some food from Mick and Leo while she had time. They usually spent a lot of time in Mos Eisley, a secret home away from home for them. She wiped the sand from her goggles again as she neared the matmatas. She glanced at the house numbers, searching for the correct address before rapping on the wooden door marked 30. A large rugged man opened the door with a wide grin when he realized who was standing before him. He yanked her in by the collar.
"Where have you been?" Mick asked.
"Working," she laughed, removing her goggles and mask.
"Luckily we don't have to clean up after you," Leo joked from the doorway. "Here for another refill?"
"And to catch up. I'm not that much of a freeloader," Lance sighed pulling her hair back into a neat bun.
"You should really settle down, find a friend to share with while you're working," Mick suggested, searching for some older rations that had to go.
"Then I'd have to actually spend my money on food and shelter."
"See, you really are a freeloader," Snart confirmed with a side smirk. "So where are you coming from?"
"He's just needing someone to smuggle droid parts onto Tatooine from… Naboo, I think. I've just been going from here to his palace for the… fourth time. What have you been doing?"
"The usual. Stealing droids and fixing them before resell. Makes good money."
"Here," Mick cut in, holding a bag of food. "Some dewback jerky, hubba bread, and the rest of our womp rat soup -which I would eat first." He nodded handing the bag to her.
"What would I do without you guys."
"Get food from someone else, I would assume" Leo considered. "Now go on your merry little way, bother another bounty hunter."
"Wait, come on, I haven't seen you guys in months. How's it going with Ray?"
"Great, really. Kind of weird," he began.
"He means that he's deep in love and doesn't know how to act," Mick explained with a playful nudge to the ribs.
"Okay, that's enough. What about you and that guy. The rich boy?"
"Oliver? Nothing. I don't see him. I moved on to this other girl, but she's too busy with her family's business to have any sort of relationship."
"We should tell her," Mick broke in.
His partner side-eyed him, "Why did you make it sound so ominous?"
"Tell me what?" Sara asked.
"There's a large group of people who are getting together in secret trying to overthrow the Empire. You know, the Sith. They've been coming here to recruit as many people as they can. Apparently, there have been some older kids joining. We've been thinking of going as well."
"I never would've thought that you'd be part of a rebellion."
"I'm not usually serious, but life is only so long, Sara. We need to do something with it before we die. This is way bigger than us, bigger than everyone. It's important," Leo tried to convince her, crossing his arms and grabbing a medallion from his pocket. He glanced down at it and sighed before looking up at Sara. "Now, I know that you may not care, but by next month, Mick, Ray and I will be gone."
"So this is goodbye?"
"Hopefully not, but maybe."
Sara nodded and hugged Leo and Mick. "You guys have been like brothers to me. You saved me and brought me here. I'm so glad that I got to meet you two. Thank you."
"I hope we see each other again, and that this isn't really goodbye."
Lance nodded and turned away. "I'll think about it."
"If you change your mind, they're planning to come back by the end of the year."
"Okay," she nodded. "Well, I'm going to the cantina to get a drink, you wanna join?"
"Of course, but you're buying."
"My treat then."
Music blared from the stage as the musicians in the corner livened up the dark room. Aliens of various races drank and talked at the bar, the table, or against the wall. People walked in and out, checking and stealing from one another as they passed by. It was shady and suspicious, but it was home for these people, she guessed. Maybe hold her belongings a bit closer. That'll work, hopefully. The foreigner warily approached the bar, not that she really tried to fit in anyway. With her hair tied back in a tight bun, and in traditional garb to protect her skin. She rapped on the bar and waited for the bartender to turn around. He glanced at her, looking her up and down before nodding.
He grunted in response and filled a glass with the sweet liquor. He slid it over to her, waiting for her to pay him before letting go of the glass.
"So what's your name sweetie?" A young Rodian asked in his native tongue.
She smirked at the alien and chuckled "Yeah I'm too old for you, tyke."
"Just tell me your name."
"Beautiful. I'm Greedo."
"Well, Greedo, while I'd like to sit and chat, I don't have a lot of time to… play," she smiled. "Sorry."
Greedo cocked his head to the side, turning away to a corner where a few other shady aliens sat. Ava watched him talk with his friends. She shook her head with a slight grin and went back to her drink. A hand roughly grabbed her shoulder and turned her around. The alien garbled at her in a foreign language that she couldn't really comprehend. Ava turned back to her drink, finishing it in a swift tilt of the glass. A young humanoid alien tapped her on the shoulder.
"He doesn't like you," he explained.
"I'm sorry," she apologized with a scoff.
He clutched her arm, yanking her back into the conversation. "I don't like you either. Don't insult us," he warned her, tightening his grip on her arm. "You just watch yourself. We're wanted men. I have a death sentence in twelve systems," he bragged.
"I'll be careful then," she smirked in annoyance and turned away to end the conversation.
"You'll be dead!" he hissed with a vicious grin.
Another human quickly walked between them. She pressed her hand against Ava's shoulder to nudge her away. "This little one isn't worth the effort. Let me buy you something-"
The alien shoved the human into Ava and whipped out his blaster. Ava reached for the lightsaber at her hip. The blonde looked at her and put her hand over the weapon.
"You can't use that here," she warned her.
"No blasters! No blasters!" The bartender exclaimed.
The two aggressive aliens turned away and walked out of the bar. Ava turned to the blonde and smiled.
"It was nothing. You're not the only tourist I've had to save. Tatooinians don't really like… us. In fact, most people don't trust us or anyone who wields a weapon such as yours. You have to be very careful," she explained in a hushed tone. "So obviously you're not from here. Where are you from?"
"Nowhere you know."
"Is that common here, bar fights?" Ava asked switching subjects.
"Of course. You're most definitely not from here. Tatooine is a very shady place. People are always fighting. Honestly, I'd be suspicious if an hour went by without a fight," Sara smiled. "Well, hey, if you're not too busy, my friends and I are having a quick drink. Wanna join?"
"... Why not," Ava nodded.
"Great," Sara smiled, sliding back over to her friends. "This is Leo, Mick, and I'm Sara."
"Hi, Ava," she greeted them.
Leo smiled and drank from his tall glass, leaning against the bar. "So what brings you to Tatooine? Obviously not the weather or people."
"Just a new adventure."
"Well, you must live on the wild side then if this feels like an adventure and not just a death sentence."
"Don't mind his sarcasm, here, have this," Sara offered, sliding her drink to Ava.
"What is this?"
"Bantha Blaster" she smiled.
"What does it taste like?"
"Sweet and fizzy," Leo explained. "They drink it all the time."
"I swear by it," Lance grinned, leaning towards Ava as she ordered another drink.
Ava sniffed the drink; Endor, she thought, it reminded her of Endor. She inhaled and took a swig from the pink and green liquor. The bubbly concoction fizzed and popped on her tongue before a very sweet sugary sensation coated her taste buds. It burned at first, but then warmed her throat and became tart at the end. Ava coughed at first, and chuckled, shaking her head.
"A little strong?" Sara asked.
"Yeah, but good. It's a very fun drink." Ava smiled, covering her mouth. "So you're from this area?"
"Not really. I've spent the past six years here, but I'm originally from a different planet."
Leo leaned over to Sara, whispering to her. "You know, it's great to see you head over heels. I haven't seen you reveal this much since we met."
"What are you talking about?"
He pulled back, turning to Mick. "I think we should go back home. We need to get packed."
"Leo," Sara called.
"I know, but we must go. See you 'round, little canary," he teased on his way out of the cantina.
Sara huffed as she watched her friends leave, shaking her head and downing the Bantha Brew. Ava also finished her drink and cleared her throat.
"Well, I'm glad that we had this time to talk. Sorry for driving your friends away-"
"Huh? Don't worry about them, Leo's just weird like that. You know, I can always show you around Mos Eisley if you have time."
"Yeah, why not."
After they escaped the cantina, Sara pulled off to an alley to her guest's concern. "Don't worry, I'm not going to out you for having that," she gestured to her saber. So, how did you get your hands on such archaic tech?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You can't hide it from me, I literally saw you almost whip that thing out in a Post-Empire Tatooine. This is their playground. Did you at least bring a blaster?"
"Yes, I guess it's just a force of habit."
"Was that a pun?"
"Huh, oh Force, ha, no," she chuckled.
"You're an intriguing sort, Aves, but you'll be dead in ten minutes with that thing strapped to you."
"Well, no offense, but I'm not going to hand this over to you."
"I understand, just try not to reach for it unless you're in deep trouble."
"Now for that tour, you promised me?"
"Oh yeah, of course. Follow me."
Hours seemed to pass in minutes to Ava, she had never met anyone like her. There was something about her, the mysterious way that she knew everyone and yet they never revealed her true name. Sara wasn't offended by it and only laughed, responding with a variety of sarcastic phrases. She felt the end of this journey with her new companion nearing as the suns set, finally cooling the air again. Ava sat on the edge of a short wall dividing a stretch of road that was secluded from the main streets while Sara watched the citizens pass them by. The few people who did pass by seemed focused on other things like surviving or thriving in this city.
"You know, I really don't know much about you, Little Canary," Ava admitted.
Sara sat down next to her, shrugging, and looked her in the eye. "No need to. We don't need to know everything to respect one another, just enough to understand."
Sara turned to her and pursed her lips. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head before she fell to the ground. Ava rushed to her before feeling electricity stun her. Her body tensed as she dropped to the sandy ground. A pair of feet approached her before reaching down and pulling her up by the collar. A pair of pink eyes glared at her, their smile revealed a set of sharp teeth behind thin lips. It sighed and whispered something to someone behind them.
It was dark - Lance thought as she woke up - pitch-black and empty. She heard the sound of shuffling feet nearby. Sara shifted to her knees, focusing the Force to her sight. It felt nearly impossible, years had passed, repressing her powers to stay alive, but in a moment like this, anything was game. She looked around the room, flickering between her force sight and the darkness that suffocated her. She spotted someone with her, crawling to the wall to get up. Their heart pounded in fear and familiar clanking meant that they were sporting a pair of handcuffs. Sara carefully got to her feet and neared them. She held out her hands, reaching for the other prisoner before making contact and clutching on to their shoulder.
"Who are you?" she whispered. "Ava?"
"Sharpe," they responded. "I'm Ava Sharpe."
"Are you hurt?"
"No, I'm fine."
"Good," Sara nodded, her response more of a note to herself than to be comforting to Ava. She sat beside her, "Why do I recognize that name?"
"I've probably shown up for a bounty a few times."
"That's it! Wait, why? You seem like the kind of person who'd follow the rules to the T."
"... Kinda… yeah."
"Most people say that," Sharpe sighed. Gripping Sara's hand, she continued, "I'm- I was- a guard for those who remained of the Jedi Order."
"What'd you do?"
"I… abandoned my post and may have been spotted by the Empire. I've been trying to hide for a year now. Do you know where we are?"
"No, I can't see a damn thing."
"The last thing I saw was a scary looking guy. It had pink eyes and… waxy skin. There was this tentacle thing wrapped around his neck. He looked like a demon," she almost shivered.
"What about his teeth?"
"Sharp, almost like a monster."
"I think I know who it was. And with that, welcome to Jabba's Palace," Sara sighed.
Light began to flood from the ceiling. Sara shielded her eyes from the brightness and took a step in front of Ava. Once the pit was fully open, Sara looked up, meeting the smirk of Bib and Jabba as well as the prying eyes of other bounty hunters and guests.
She chuckled and shook her head, "Hey, Jabba! How ya doin' buddy?"
"Lance, sa i fun gee cheekta down ya?" The Hutt asked with a bellowing laugh.
"He does remember my name," Sara shrugged.
"Who is that?" Ava asked.
"That is Jabba the Hutt, these are his goons, and this is his pit."
"Greedo has doe bounty che cheekta."
"Well, I found her fair and square, Greeds, I think she's technically mine," Sara charmed to no avail.
"You stole her!" he yelled down into the pit.
"Okay, fine, I'll back off. Just give me a moment" Sara sighed, turning to Ava. "A moment, to meld."
Sara swiftly grabbed Ava's jaw in her hands and kissed her.
'Ava, focus.' A voice echoed in her head. 'A monster will come out. We have our sabers, we can take it down.'
Sara pulled away, nodding to Ava. She twisted on her heels and shrugged to Jabba.
"Now what? You gonna help me out?"
Jabba let out another bellowing chortle and tapped Bib on the shoulder. The pale alien smiled and went out of view. A gate behind them raised with a deafening creak. Ava reached for Sara's hand, grabbing her saber with the other. She switched it on, the two golden blades whirring and burning the dusty air. Sara let go of Ava's hand and grabbed her double-sided saber and disconnected them before turning them on, a thin orange blade coming out of the one side and a blood red blade out of the other.
"What, did you steal those?" Ava asked as the monster stepped out.
"Only if illegal mining is stealing."
"Practically the definition," she joked with a side glance at her guide.
Sara got into a ready stance, a slightly familiar surge of focused adrenaline running in her blood. She felt her breathing slow and her sensitivity heighten, feeling the beast's heartbeat pounding in her chest. A oneness with her ally who road the same aura as her. Ava whirled her staff in a neon blur, a flourish to intimidate as they stared down their opponent.
The monster roared and shook its head, the rolls of skin shifting and stretching with spikes poking through while its muscles flexed in anticipation.
Sara sprinted up to the monster, sliding under at the last moment to slice its leg. Ava pulled the beast close and held out her saber like a spear to stab it. It screamed and slapped her away, sending her across the pit and flat into a wall.
Lance slipped behind it, running up the wall and using the solid dirt to leap onto its back. She stuck her blade surely through the spine and slid down, red blood leaking and coagulating around the wound.
The beast shrieked again, collapsing to the ground and pawing at its assailants. Sara walked up to the face and forced her saber through their eye, watching it scream and writhe on the ground. Its final breath caught in the back of their throat.
"New record?!" she called up to Jabba, but the gawking group of hedonists was gone. Sara growled and ran to Ava, turning off the sabers and attaching them before holstering it and kneeling down to her. Although she wasn't bleeding, she was still probably injured. "Ava, you okay?"
"Yeah," she groaned while struggled she to sit up. Ava took her hand and stood up, leaning against Sara.
"Let's get out of here," Sara suggested and earned an exhausted nod.
They walked through the gate, a dark corridor greeting them until it suddenly lit up, leading a way to the stables. They could hear the distant calls of captive animals.
Ava straightened her back but continued to lean against Sara. "Why'd you kiss me?" she inquired. "Melding doesn't even require touch."
"I just… I thought…"
"I don't mind, just wanted to know why."
"Oh… it just felt right."
"It felt right?"
"Look, I'm sorry if that's not how you go, I just needed anything to get you off your mark."
"I never said I didn't like it."
"Well, it was implied."
Ava grabbed Sara's collar and pulled her close, kissing her gently. She slid her hand up her throat, tucking her fingers behind her ear before finishing their moment with a peck on the cheek.
"What was implied there?" Ava asked.
"That you are very interested," she blushed, biting her lip. "We should go, come on."
She took Ava's hand and rushed down the long hallway to the open desert. Sharpe tugged on her shirt and pointed to a landspeeder.
"We may have gotten stuck here because of you, but I'm so glad we met," Sara prodded while they sprinted to the vehicle.
"Did I at least make your day a bit more exciting?" Ava asked, limping behind Sara with a hand pressed against her ribs.
Sara opened up the hatch, trying to hotwire the speeder as Ava climbed in. Grunting quickly filled the halls as twenty gamorreans ran down the hallway.
"Um, would you mind hurrying up, Sara?"
"Really, what seems to be the problem?" she sarcastically jibed.
"I know," Sara sighed, sitting up.
"What are you doing? Keep working!"
"Drive, they're getting into some speeders."
"Shit," Sara cursed, starting up their land speeder.
"I know!" Sara yelled, speeding off. She grabbed her blaster and shoved it into Ava's chest. "Take aim."
Sharpe huffed and aimed the gun on the back of her headrest, shooting at a guard and knocking him off the bike. She aimed at another, getting the gas tank and watching it slow down and leak out in the sand. Ava pointed her blaster at another bike closing in on them. The guard shot at their speeder, catching the headrest, barely missing Ava's shoulder. Ava force pushed the bike away, making it tumble away in the sand and blow up. She sat back down in her seat and regarded the dry terrain.
"Where are we going?"
"Mos Eisley, we need to meet up with Mick and Leo."
"They're leaving soon. So, I was thinking that maybe we can bum a ride."
"Well, where are they going?"
"They're joining the Rebel Alliance."
"I've heard of them. Wait, they work closely with the Jedi."
"Then we'll protect you," Sara promised, looking into Ava's dark eyes. "I promise. You're one of us now."
"What do you think of the cause?"
"I'm game for anything that means I can escape this place. I'm past this point in my life."
Sara brought her hand under Ava's chin and pulled her in for a brief kiss before focusing back on the road.
"We pledge out property, our honor, and our lives."
"Long live the Rebels."