The second she stepped inside the ship, Rey got distracted.
She had seen Razor Crests before, lots of them. But they had always been in various states of scrap. Most of them had been raided and stripped by other scavengers that managed to reach the ships before her, taking all of the good goodies before she could ever get to them.
But Rey had never actually been inside a fully functioning Razor Crest that still had all of its parts intact, and it was absolutely fascinating.
There were so many colorful buttons! Some of the lights blinked, and others buzzed, and some just twinkled above. All of the tubes, panels, and wires were in their places and looked well maintained.
Rey's fingers twitched, but she tucked Mr. Stick under her arm and lifted her hands up in front of her face so that she could scold them quietly.
Bad sticky fingers. Now was not the time.
Part of her wanted to just rip the place to salvageable shreds. There were so many parts, so many pieces out in the open that she could scavenge. So many objects in her vicinity that could get her enough portions to last her a whole week!
Just thinking of all of the yum yums she could have made her stomach rumble.
But she was a guest, and guests don't try to scavenge their host's ship. It wasn't polite. Besides, her head was starting to really hurt, and the Droid-man said that he could help with that.
Besides, she couldn't be thinking about scavenging now; she made it into the ship!
But wait, now what?
The connection buzzed. She was in the right place, so what was she supposed to do?
Rey looked to the Droid-man for some sort of guidance.
He was down the other end of the ship, rummaging around in several open compartments. Rey could hear all of the clinkity-clankity rattles from all of the different things and objects that he pushed aside as he looked for something.
The Droid-man did not say anything, but he didn't need to. For once, his body language was clear. The tight movements, and the increasingly forceful searching. Rey knew the Droid-man was getting frustrated, and when an adult got frustrated they were one tiny little push away from getting mad.
Mad adults were bad news. Very bad news.
Rey started to play the quiet game again. The first rule of the game was that it began whenever a grownup got upset or angry. Rey wasn't sure if the Droid-man had crossed that line yet, but she didn't want to risk it.
He suddenly straightened up, turned and headed towards Rey. She instinctively pressed herself back against the wall, and held Mr. Stick tight to her chest, almost cutting her shoulder on one of his jagged edges. Her eyes flickered to the open hatch.
The Droid-man paused in his path when he reached her.
In her peripheral vision, the Droid-man took a step away from her and knelt down, placing his forearm across his knee to support his upper body. Rey refused to make eye contact. But she did notice the way that the warm lights above them made his armor gleam in an almost golden-green color.
Like that scrap of ribbon that she had found a while back at one of the stalls in the Outpost market. It was shiny, and pretty, and she used it to tie her hair up on special occasions, or just whenever she was feeling fancy, or felt like she needed a pick-me-up.
"Seems like the med-kit was misplaced. I'm going to go see if it's in the cockpit." The Droid-man explained keeping his voice low and calm. "Can you wait here while I go check?"
Rey kept her mouth shut. She needed to win the quiet game and protect her title as the reigning champion, she wasn't going to talk. But a bit of the tension in her shoulders melted; it didn't look like he was as mad as she thought he was. So Rey allowed herself to nod her head in acknowledgement.
The Droid-man returned the nod, "Good. I'll be back-"
Rey suddenly jerked her head back. In her mind, the distant voices of her parents melded together with the robotic undertones of the armored man in front of her.
That's what they all said.
The Droid-man fell silent, then slowly got up. Moving at a snail's pace so that Rey could see each and every one of his moments, the Droid-man grabbed hold of the ladder began to climb.
He looked over at her one last time, "Stay here. Ok?" he said. And then he was gone.
The moment the Droid-man disappeared out of sight, Rey scrambled over to the ladder so that she could see where he went. The trap door was open, and she could see a bit of the upper parts of the ship. But no matter what angle she stood at, she couldn't see the Droid-man.
She stared, unsure if she should follow the Droid-man to keep him in her sights, or if she should actually do as she was told and stay put.
He said he would be back.
They said that too.
After a moment of deliberation she quietly grabbed hold of the nearest ladder rung and stood beside it. She was on his ship. Even if he left her, he wouldn't leave the ship. Adults never abandon their ships if it still worked, that was a fact. And judging by the constant hum of machinery echoing through the repurposed cargo hold, this Razor Crest could still fly.
The Droid-man won't leave the ship, and if Rey stayed on the ship he won't leave her. Simple as that.
So she will wait.
That didn't mean she had to like it, however.
Waiting was boring.
And her head was beginning to really throb. It had started out as a sharp, pokey kind of pain. Like those times she accidentally stabbed herself on a sharp piece of metal during one of her scavenging hunts. But now it was more like a dull burning sensation, as if she had placed her forehead on a hot plate and was slowly increasing the temperature.
It was uncomfortable and she wanted it to stop.
Rey decided that the quiet game was over now. The Droid-man wasn't around, and if he wasn't around he couldn't get mad at her. So she started making clicking noises by snapping her tongue against the roof of her mouth, just to keep her mind off of her growing headache. She remembered hearing somewhere that if you didn't think about pain, then it would go away.
She blew a raspberry and swung Mr. Stick around like a staff, and pretended that she was a valiant warrior fighting against a hoard of shadow monsters that lived deep in the depths of ghost ships.
The older Scavenger kids told her stories about them. The shadow monsters who liked to feast on annoying little kids who kept trying to tag along with the big kids even when they've been told to go away like a million times already. They told her how the monsters drag their unsuspecting victims down, down, down, into chasms that led all the way to the planet's core.
How the monsters hid in the cracks and shadows that people couldn't see. Watching. Waiting. How they would wait until the frigid night to catch their prey when no one would notice.
Of course, Rey wasn't scared of them. She was too big to be scared.
Plus, those scavengers didn't even know what they were talking about. Rey should know because when she managed to corner one of those kids who was spreading around those stories, he said that the best way to keep the shadow monsters from taking interest in her was to leave out three whole prepared portions outside her hidey-hole by the Northern dunes. That way the monsters would be more interested in the portions rather than her.
It was a lot of food to give up, but Rey thought that on the off chance that there actually were shadow monsters stalking her then it would be better to be prepared. She'd rather not, you know, get digested if she could help it.
But when Rey left out her offerings, she woke up the next morning to find that only one of the food portions had a big ol' bite in it, and the rest was untouched. It looked like the monster had been by but he didn't like her food.
Maybe it was because of the dead Skittermice she had shoved into each of the portions. Rey figured that if shadow monsters liked the taste of flesh then they'd appreciate some dead rodents as a treat.
Oddly enough, that same scavenger who told her about this particular strategy for dealing with shadow monsters was sick for days after that. He even refused to ever talk to her again, and kept trying to find excuses to leave whenever they were in the same place.
Rey didn't bother leaving out any more portions after that failed experiment, and decided to take her chances with the shadow monsters directly. Nothing remotely resembling a shadow monster ever attacked her, and the fact that she was still alive and kicking was the ultimate proof that a shadow monster never ate her either.
Besides, she had Mr. Stick with her. He'd warn her if a monster was creeping up on her.
With a confident smile, Rey twirled Mr. Stick in the air like a sword, causing happy little swoosh noises when the metal pipe swung through the air. Rey imagined it was a shadow monster's scream of defeat.
She jabbed to the right! To the left! A block! A Swipe there! Another block there! Another hi-
Rey nearly jumped out of her own skin.
She did not hit anything. That wasn't the sound of Mr. Stick getting hit against the paneling of the ship. That noise didn't come from above either where the Droid-man was. The sound came from the cargo hold. Somewhere in the room with her.
She pressed herself against the ladder as she held up Mr. Stick to swing down on anyone or anything that approached her.
Silence. Nothing moved. Rey didn't dare breath.
Paranoia crawled up her spine to clench at her heart. Shadow monsters weren't real, right? Right?
Rey shifted her weight from her left foot to her right foot and then back to the left, like she was on a mini seesaw. She scanned the area, eyes darting from one corner of the cargo hold of the ship to the other. Nothing seemed out of place. Nothing had moved. So what was making that noise?
Then suddenly, there was a soft, bell chime giggle. Rey's brain stalled for a moment. What?
Behind her, Rey heard something slide. It was the sound of a compartment door opening. She whirled around, her defense up and her best friend ready, then she froze. Her fingers went lax, one by one, and Mr. Stick clattered to the floor.
Rey let a noise that was a cross between a gasp and a squeal pass her lips. The universe sang, it was throwing rainbow glitter everywhere, shooting warm and fuzzies straight into her heart, and if Rey focused hard enough she could hear melodious music floating through the air like a cloud of kicked-up sand.
This was it. This was where the connection led to. Right here. Right now.
Peeking out from a secret compartment that had up until that moment escaped Rey's notice, was a little green creature pair of large, fuzzy, pointed ears. It blinked its bleary puppy-dog brown eyes, and cooed at Rey.
"Aaaaawwww," Rey cooed back, her voice increasing by an octave or two. "You're so cute!" she squealed and rushed over to get a better look at the itty bitty baby.
Rey stopped short of the compartment and rose up on her tiptoes so that she could peek in. Her eyes widened as she took in the sight of the creature. He was the cutest, most adorablest little baby she'd ever seen on this side of Jakku.
He was the only baby she'd ever seen on this side of Jakku for that matter. Adults didn't usually bring their kid into the Blobfish's territory, and Rey was the youngest person living outside of the permanent settlements. There really weren't any kids around that were her age, and to find a sentient creature that was actually younger than her was an absolute novelty.
And he was so helpless-looking too. All bundled up and snug in a brown cloak like a burrito, reaching out for her with his little clawed hands.
Rey raised her whole arm up and over the ledge and stuck it in front of the baby. He grabbed hold of her index finger and let out a happy little trill. Rey felt like she had been chosen by a divine power.
"I would die for you," she whispered in awe, making the baby giggle. Rey grinned so hard her face hurt. "I'm gonna be your big sister now," she decided. The baby squealed in agreement, and Rey squealed back.
She wasn't going to treat him like all of those jerk-faced older scavenger kids treated her. She wouldn't trash his forts, or steal his best friend, or sabotage his scavenging trips, or talk down to him like he was a stupid little worm.
No, Rey was going to protect him! She was going to make sure that he would get plenty of portions, plenty of things to drink, that no one bullied him, and no one tried to hurt him.
They could go sand sledding in the dunes! And make little dolls out of wires and plastic scrapes so that they could play house! Play tag and hid-and-seek in the Starship Graveyard when there weren't too many scavengers around! They could go inside abandoned ships and press all of the rainbow buttons and pull all the levers and pretend that they were flying away on an epic space adventure!
Oh! Oh! Oh! And Rey was definitely going to have to show him the best places to find scrap, and since he was little like her-
Rey felt a stone drop in her stomach, and suddenly it was difficult to breath. Her heart was beating. It was beating faster, and faster, faster, faster faster fasterfasterfaster-
He was little, like her. He was a baby. Adults didn't bring babies out here. Sometimes kids, but never babies. And those kids who were brought to this side of the planet always stayed. The parents never did.
They never did.
The baby was not going to be left behind.
Rey didn't even want to think of what the Blobfish would do if he got a hold of him. He would send her little brother off to the most dangerous sites, make the baby crawl through live wires, and leave him to the mercy of the desert because if he could gather scrape then he could take care of himself.
That can't happen. She won't let it.
The baby warbled and tilted his head. As if sensing Rey's sudden surge of terror, he grabbed hold of Rey's finger with his other hand and sent a tiny pulse of comfort through the air. Through the invisible glitter.
Somehow, Rey could feel herself calming down. It didn't quite feel like her heart was trying to tear its way out of her chest anymore, and the fearful rush of adrenaline was abading. But her hands were shaking. Both of them. They were shaking so much, why won't they stop?
Rey balled her free hand into a fist, and let that arm rest at her side. She did the same with her other hand after carefully extracting it away from her new found baby brother.
The little green baby kept sending pulses of warmth and reassurance, even as she stepped back. By the time Rey crouched down to pick up Mr. Stick and apologize for dropping him, Rey's hands stopped trembling completely.
Out of her fear, determination rose. Rey put herself between the compartment that held her brother, and the ladder that led up to the cockpit. She lowered herself into a fighting stance she'd seen some of the adults take. Feet shoulder length apart, a slight bend in the knees, and Mr. Stick held out in front of her like a sword.
She took a deep breath. She didn't care if the Droid-man was going to be mad, there was too much at stake now. Besides, she could use that to their advantage. After all if the Droid-man was too busy being mad at her then he would forget to leave the baby.
Rey tightened her grip until her knuckles went white.
The baby was not leaving this ship. Not if Rey could help it.
The moment she saw a pair of boots lower themselves down through the trapdoor, Rey struck. With a loud war-cry, she swung Mr. Stick as hard as she could, but the hit never landed.
The Droid-man moved like a ghost. One minute he was only just beginning to climb down the ladder and then the next he was behind her, one hand holding Rey's wrist down uncomfortably tight, and the other holding Mr. Stick out of her reach. Not too far away however since he was holding a medkit under the same arm.
"Hey, hey, calm down," The Droid-man warned, a steel edge seeping into his words "This isn't a fight you want to start, kid."
Rey renewed her struggle with a fervor. "Yes I do!" she yelled as she tried and failed to swipe Mr. Stick away from the Droid-man, "You can't leave him! That's banned! I made it illegal! He has to stay on the ship!"
The Droid-man's grip on her wrist lessened, but then he put Mr. Stick on a high shelf that Rey had no hope of reaching. She snarled angrily, pulling her lips back to show off her teeth in an attempt to make herself as intimidating as possible. The Droid-man was not having it.
"Explain." He demanded.
That was anger in his voice. The Droid-man was mad. Rey expected this, but every fiber of her being was screaming for her to run and hide.
She was teetering on hysteria, and it all came out as one giant word-vomit.
"He's too small and he'll get eaten alive by the other scavengers and by actual, and the Blobfish won't care because he never cares about anyone, and there won't be enough portions so he'll go hungry, and if he gets hurt or sick there isn't anyone I can take him too, and he could get trapped in a sandstorm or get caught in a fight with a Teedo or get knocked unconscious by broken scrap or fall into a sinkhole and he's going to miss you so much, that I-" Rey was cut off when a loud, ugly sob rattled her frame.
With one last sharp tug, Rey wrenched her arm away from the Droid-man. Her hands shot to her mouth and she tilted her head up as quickly as she could to keep the tears from falling. Pressure built up in her chest, and a cloudy film of moisture covered her eyes. Crying was not allowed. She was a big girl, and big girls don't cry. She couldn't show any weakness, especially not now.
A gentle weight materialized on her trembling shoulder accompanied by gentle words. She heard the Droid-man say, "You are allowed to cry, you know. It'll make you feel better in the long run. It's worse if you keep it all bottled up inside."
But it wasn't ok. It never was.
"You can't leave him," Rey's voice cracked, "He's just a baby."
"I'm not leaving him."
Just like that, any fight Rey had in her melted away. She did not cry. She didn't. But her legs turned to jelly and lost the strength to hold up her own weight. She sank to the floor, hugged her knees to her chest, and buried her face. Her breathing was irregular, her face turned red, and her throat burned like acid, but her cheeks remained dry.
Rey. Did. Not. Cry.
It took everything she had to make sure that she didn't.
But in Rey's catatonic haze, she could feel a small, three-fingered hand rub circles on her calf. She could hear a soft and soothing lullaby, sung in a beautiful language that she couldn't understand.
And that made her feel just a tiny bit better.
This chapter was finished later than I anticipated, but at least the wait wasn't too long. Here's to hoping chapter 3 will be up sooner, although I am traveling this month and the Wifi connection is not ideal where I am. That being said, I tried my best to correct all of the grammar mistakes but I'm not confident I caught all of them so if you see any then my bad.
As energetic and tenacious as Kid!Rey is, she is still a very traumatized seven year old who doesn't trust easily and is hypervigilant about any potential threats against her. Din isn't trying to scare Rey at all and in fact he is going out of his way to try and make himself as non-threatening as possible. Rey is a bit of an unreliable narrator, however, because she barely trusts Din at all and meeting Baby Yoda unearthed some recent memories that she has been trying to suppress.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this chapter!
Until next time!