I must be insane, it's hard enough to keep up with my two other stories, yet here I am about to start another but this idea among many others has been sitting in my head for a while so here it is. Guess it's my own way of ending the year with a bang. Or a new story in my case.
I really loved the Rebels show, there were good episodes, not so good episodes and epic episodes and I just couldn't resist a chance to think about what would happen if Ezra lost most of the Ghost's crew and this came out of it.
Let me know what you think of it, if you like it or it's a dumb idea. I promise nothing regarding a schedule for updates since I don't want to neglect my older stories but I will steadily work on the next few chapters while I can.
Chapter 1 past and present collide
"I have a bad feeling about this."
Kanan Jarrus, one of the only surviving Jedi in the galaxy laughed at his padawan's words. They were watching the others as Hera, Zeb, and Sabine along with a few rebel pilots were making the Ghost and a few fighters ready for the upcoming mission. It was a routine mission, something they pulled off countless times, still, Ezra couldn't help but feel this one will be different.
They were planning to go to Malachor, to find the answer to how to defeat the sith, but instead, they chose to do one more run before that, because only their crew was available at the time.
"Don't follow your instincts blindly. A Jedi must be logical, able to see the connection between events, and not jump at every shadow." Kanan tried to say with a wise sound to it, but Ezra only looked at him a bit strangely.
"What does that even mean?"
The older man simply shrugged his shoulder, giving up trying to look like a wise Jedi.
"No idea, but Master Yoda always told me that whenever I simply followed my instincts and got into trouble." he explained as they began to walk closer to their shop.
"Seems like Master Yoda was just full of wise advice." commented Ezra with a small grin.
"He was. After all, he was the Grand Master of the Jedi Order." said Kanan solemnly, lost in memories of his youth. Ezra looked away, also saddened by the mention of the old order.
"Still," said Ezra, trying to change back the subject. "I still have a bad feeling. I should go with you." he insisted, causing his master to crack a grin.
"Nothing will happen, Ezra." he stopped before him, placing his head reassuringly on his shoulders."This is just a routine mission, you are worrying for nothing. We will be back before you know it. And until then you can work on your lightsaber forms." he told him knowingly, causing Ezra to groan quietly.
"Have a little faith in us." said Hera with a small smile as she walked up to them, with Zeb and Sabine in tow.
"I don't mind. At least I'll have a little peace and quiet at last." joked Zeb as he patted Ezra's head a little roughly.
"Get off." Ezra pushed the lasat's arm away and soon the two began to mock-wrestle much to the others' amusement.
Their fun soon ended when an alarm sounded through the base, signaling the imminent launch of ships. Rex walked up to them after he talked with a few pilots.
"General Syndulla. General Jarrus." the old clone saluted them out of pure habit. "Preparations are complete. It's time to go." he reported. Kanan and Hera shared one look before turning towards the two younger members.
"Right. See you soon." said Kanan casually, before turning around and leaving for the ship, Zeb following behind. Hera hugged both of them before she left as well.
Ezra turned towards the Mandalorian artist, an eyebrow raised in question.
"How come you're also staying back?" he asked, confused. Sabine snorted in response hearing the question he didn't ask.
"Don't get your hopes up, kid." she said before punching his shoulder lightly, causing him to cry out in mock-pain."There is a new shipment of explosives coming in and I'm the best one to oversee it." she told him before their attention was drawn to the ghost as it's engines fired up.
Ezra ran forward, seeing his master standing on the closing ramp.
"Master!" he called out, Kanan turning back in surprise."May the Force be with you."
"May the Force be with you as well." he replied formally, a proud smile on his face.
Sabine stood next to him as they watched the ghost take off...for the last time.
"Wake up!" an ear-grating voice ordered, throwing a bucket of water at an unconscious Ezra.
He appeared to be a few years older, the last of the baby fat finally disappeared from his face, leaving behind a little rough, but handsome face with his blue hair extremely short, looking almost bald with it. He was a little taller, his shoulders broader, looking more like a man than a kid.
He was wearing simple brown pants, with no shirt on, showing his muscled chest which was full of various scars. He was also a little bruised up, sporting a particularly big black eye on his left one.
A green, male twi'lek stood before him, glaring menacingly at him while holding a blaster to Ezra's head. He wasn't overly threatening, save for the large, vertical scar crossing his right eye and the barely controlled fury in his yellow eyes. Two big, bulky Nikto stood behind him, one of them holding an empty bucket.
"Grab him." ordered the twi'lek, his eyes never leaving the groggy Ezra's who tried to remember how he got into this situation in the first place. The Nikto grabbed his arms before they forced him onto his knees, while he tried to make his body move of its own volition with very little success.
As he got a little upright, Ezra used the opportunity to look around. They were in a rusty old room, with only a few boxes in there other than him and his captors. A quick scan around revealed there was only one exit, behind the twi'lek. His body ached everywhere, his head was killing him, with no weapons, outnumbered and nothing else to use, the odds were not in his favor. It must be Tuesday.
For his wandering attention, the boss in front of him smacked his blaster into his face, earning a small grunt of pain. Ezra spat the little blood gathered in his mouth to the side, glaring forward defiantly.
"You are not very good at the whole welcoming a guest thing, am I wrong, Grizz?" he asked with a smirk, only earning a punch to the stomach and quiet laughter from the Nikto holding him."Try to put a little more into it next time, okay? I hardly felt this one." he bluffed as he held back a wince, refusing to show any weakness. First rule of the street, don't show any weakness.
"You have a big mouth for a thief. Perhaps you should have been a comedian, instead of trying to rob me." sneered Grizz, punctuating his words with more punches.
"Last I checked, you were the one who didn't pay us. I just came to settle the debt." quipped back Ezra, getting a bloody nose for his troubles.
"Then I guess it's time I pay you, with interest." Grizz smirked evilly, leveling the blaster at the center of his forehead.
For a moment Ezra feared that he was done for, when a sudden explosion shook the whole room, causing everybody desperately to try and stay on their feet. With no blaster in his face and the hold on his arms weakening, he acted quickly. He twisted his right arm, freeing it from the grip of the Nikto before he backhanded him, giving himself room to move. He grabbed the other by his collar, throwing him straight at Grizz, who let out a stray bolt from his blaster, before dropping it, groaning under the heavy body of his henchman.
Ezra grinned to himself, but he couldn't enjoy his victory for long, because he felt a body ram into him sending the both of them bowling over. They began grappling but soon he found himself under the Nikto he forgot about, not at all comfortable. He struggled to get out, but his adversary was much stronger. Still, he was able to get in a few lucky shots to the ribs, the alien groaning in pain above him, then Ezra was able to shove him away.
He couldn't even let out a small breath in relief, before his body moved without unconscious thought, just avoiding the shot that landed precisely where his head was a moment before. Ezra tried to stand up and face his attacker, but got punched in the face instead and landed on the ground once again.
Vision spinning, he once again faced down the barrel of a gun in so many minutes. Grizz stood before him, no longer smiling, but red from anger, his henchmen up and growling at him.
"No more games! No more playing around. This ends now!" the twi'lek cried out in blind rage as he prepared to shoot him, before they all heard the all too familiar sound of a blaster being fired and Grizz dropped down to the ground, dead.
"Mocking statement: I couldn't have said it better." said a cold, mechanical voice from the direction of the door. The bodyguards dumbly turned towards the sound, too slow to realize what happened. Two more shots rang out and they joined their boss."Statement: All targets eliminated."
Ezra looked in the direction of the voice and laughed softly as he recognized a familiar shape. At first glance, it looked like a protocol Droid with durasteel Grey coloring and yellow highlights. Though it soon became clear that it was anything but harmless. It was subtle, but his chassis was reinforced heavily and it also held an older rifle model a model that was outlawed in the Core Worlds, in the middle of powering it down.
"You were cutting it a little too close, weren't you, HK?" he couldn't help but ask as he tried to stand up, but was finding it just a little bit difficult.
"Indignant Retort: I could not be held responsible for your inferior meatbag chassis to fail you after so little applied brunt trauma." the droid retorted even as he walked over to Ezra and helped him up."Statement: I was able to complete all aspects of the plan in a timely manner, Master."
"Where would I be without you, HK-51?" joked Ezra as he leaned on the Droid as they exited the room.
"Statement: You would have been terminated long ago, Master." explained HK matter of factly, his yellow receptors looking almost mockingly at him.
"We have to talk sometime about that humor of yours." commented Ezra a little fondly, remembering another Droid with questionable humor. "Come on, let's get the crates and back to our ship before someone like the empire decides to swoop in and take everything." he urged.
If he could HK would have rolled his receptors."Dry Statement: I'm the one carrying you."
Ezra couldn't help but grin to himself.
Ezra couldn't help but grin to himself. He was finally able to convince Ahsoka to show him a few lightsaber moves, citing that he wanted to learn even when Kanan was not here. She relented showing an elaborate, athletic string of moves. It was very different from how Kanan and he fought, making it an interesting challenge for him to master.
He was training in the hangar bay, under the supervision of Ahsoka while she talked with Rex about a few upcoming operations. He put everything into it, trying to block out the bad feeling that tormented him ever since the Ghost left. Still, he didn't let it affect his performance, especially not in front of Ahsoka.
"Seems like you are getting the moves quicker than I would have thought. Good work." complimented the former Jedi with a smile as she looked away from Rex to show she was watching.
"Thanks. These moves feel more natural, easier to get a hang of." Ezra positively beamed at the praise. He liked when Kanan praised him, his master liked to not make his ego bigger so praise from him was sparse as is, but praise from Ahsoka after he saw her beat 2 inquisitors without breaking a sweat, was quite a big deal.
He attempted to run through it once again when a cold feeling gripped his heart. It was different compared to what he felt near Vader and his inquisitors. Instead of hate, anger, and fear he felt nothing but saddening emptiness.
Ezra faltered in his movements, lightsaber dropping out of his hands. For a moment he felt he was seven years old again, at the night where the empire came and took away his parents. His vision darkened, and suddenly he found himself at the Ghost's cockpit hearing Hers hurriedly giving orders to Chopper, Kanan, and Zeb busy operating the turrets, tie fighters around them everywhere.
A hand touched his shoulder tentatively, dragging him out of his vision.
"Ezra?" Ahsoka peered down at him worriedly, her expression pained.
"They are in danger." was all he said before he took off running towards the command center.
"Ezra, wait." Ahsoka called after him but was ignored. She and Rex took off after him.
He dodged soldiers and pilots as he ran through the corridors, calling out apologies. He soon reached the command center, where Commander Sato was working along with a few technicians.
"Bridger, what are you doing? " Sato asked, shocked when Ezra burst through the door, almost running into one of his men who tried to exit.
"Sorry but this is urgent, Commander." he looked frantic, the feeling inside him growing every minute. "It's the Ghost. They are in danger, you have to get them back."
"What do you mean the Ghost is in danger?" asked the Commander, looking at Ezra incredulously. He was cut off when the comm sparked into life and Hera's voice spoke up.
"Phoenix Base, this is Phoenix leader. Our convoy was ambushed by three Imperial star destroyers. Request immediate backup. Phoenix 3 and 4 form up behind me, watch the flanks." her voice faded into background noise as the sounds of fighting took over.
Everyone stared at the comm, completely shocked. They found no trace of imperial activity in that sector, that run was virtually risk-free. Rex was the first who was able to shake it off, quickly giving orders to the people around.
"Don't just stand around gaping." he snapped at them."Quickly, get a fix on their position and get the A-wings ready."
Sato got over his shock, sending a thankful nod to the clone.
"You heard the Captain. To your stations!" he ordered his men who quickly moved to relay the orders.
Ezra turned around, intent on rushing to a fighter and joining the rescue squad, but Ahsoka stopped him with a firm grip on his shoulder.
"Let me go. I have to save them." he argued even as he internally fought against the alarmingly growing emptiness within him.
"Ezra, you can't help them if you rush into danger without thinking first." Ahsoka was calm and controlled, even if he could still see the same worry in her eyes.
Any possible answers were cut off as the comm once again roared to life, this time Kanan's worry-filled voice coming through.
"Hera, get us out of here! Something is happening. Something that isn't supposed to." the Jedi's voice shook and it took a lot to frighten him.
"What in the name of-" one of the other pilots began to say before he was suddenly cut off, nothing but static coming from the comm.
"The Empire must be jamming communications." Sato's level-headed voice cut through their shock."We must restore them quickly."
"Sir," a technician addressed him hesitantly, after checking a few screens."It's not just communications. All of our sensors gave out negative readings. It's as if they disappeared without a trance."
Before the Commander could react to this information, a loud cry caught their attention. Ezra collapsed to his knees, clinging to Ahsoka who also kneeled down and tried to calm him.
"They're gone, they're gone, they're gone, they're gone... "he sobbed uncontrollably, looking every bit like the far too young man he was.
Ahsoka looked up at Rex and Sato, her eyes just as distraught as the boy she was holding.
"Their signatures in the Force..." her voice cracked as tears began to flow from her eyes. "They disappeared as if they never existed."
Ezra continued to sob even as Sato ordered a rescue crew to be put together.
"Question: Master, are you coming?" HK's question pierced through the haze of memories that assaulted him.
Ezra threw his head back, eyes closed as he took a breath of the night air. They just exited Grizz's ship, HK pushing a trolley full of cargo they found aboard the ship, and Ezra followed after him, fully clothed.
He wore a little faded, orange jacket over a black t-shirt. The jacket had a high collar, just stopping below his chin, though it was open, showing a small, blue crystal he wore as a necklace, that seemed to light up on its own. He also had a very nice looking blaster hanging from his belt, a trophy of Grizz that the twi'lek no longer had any need for.
Ezra exhaled sharply, dismissing the old memories he had not wanted to revisit at all. Most of the time he was unsuccessful without copious amounts of alcohol, a simple reminder or just a tentative touch of the Force sent him back to those days, no matter how much he wanted to stay away.
"Yeah, coming." he said distractedly and began to follow the droid.
It was already night out in the always moving moon of Nar Shaddaa. Various lowlife traded and fought with each other every day, refugees hiding from the empire or their own shady past. Everybody here had something to hide and because of that, the Empire could never have a sizable presence here. That did not mean there were no patrols and Ezra and HK had to be careful lest they run into them. They had enough problems as it is. Other residents hardly blinked at the duo, more than used to it. He had no doubt that no more than five minutes after they left, scavengers would be already over what possessions remained on the ship.
They walked along in silence for a while, thankfully they had run into no imperials. Ezra stopped them, however, when they walked past the cantina, the sound of fighting and cheering escaping along with the music.
"You know what?" he asked with a smirk, HK looking at him stoically."Why don't you deliver the goods to the Grace while I have a drink?"
"Objection: The Captain told us to go to the ship directly in case-" Ezra quickly cut him off with a wave of his hand.
"You worry too much. A few drinks and I'll be on the way. What is the worst that could happen?" he joked as he walked towards the cantina.
He left the droid behind, not wanting to hear any more objections. With a carefree grin, he walked into the buzzing cantina, ready to dull that all too familiar feeling in the back of his head.
Just as he stepped in, he had to quickly step away, just to avoid a falling body.
Looking around the fight seemed to be on its last legs. A large wookie with black fur, a bandoleer around his chest, and a heavy-looking pauldron on his right shoulder stood in the center, growling in challenge and surrounded by upturned tables and unconscious men. There seemed to be a few trandoshan amongst them. The rest who still were on their feet looked less ready to continue and more like trying to figure out a way to drag their mates away without losing a few limbs.
Other than that lot, a small bith band played music, uninterrupted and completely used to things like that happening. A Devaronian nursed his drink alone in a dark corner and a pair of Ithorians argued about something in low voices near the entrance.
With a smile he began to navigate towards the bar, giving a wide berth as well as a nod in greeting to the wookie, who most people only called Griff. Griff was a regular here and only idiots and newcomers were brave enough to challenge him. He worked for the Black Sun, had a fearsome reputation as one of their enforcers. But overall he was a pretty decent guy outside of his job, quite an interesting drinking buddy, and a terrific pazaak player. Though he could be quite a sore loser.
The bartender, a four-armed, bulky reptilian alien named Silk, already waited for him with a glass of his special ale, Ezra's usual with a toothy grin on his scarred face. Nobody knew the name of his species and it was a running joke about his usual patrons that he guarded this secret more fiercely than even the recipe of his special drink.
"Well if it isn't the most reckless human in this whole sector." Silk greeted him cheerily, putting down the glass he was polishing."Looks like the news of your death were just a little bit aggravated. Guess it calls for a celebration."
Ezra took the full glass with a sly smile, downing it down in one gulp as he took a seat.
"Ah, that's just what I needed. A shot of your famous ale for free. Balm to my wounded soul."
"What do you mean for free?" Silk made an affronted face at that one."Oh no, it's going into your tab. If I were to give you a free drink every time you almost die, I would be broke in a week."
The both of them began to laugh merrily, the bartender reaching over the bar to pat his arm fondly with one of his gigantic hands. They talked with each other while Griff kicked out the last group that tried their luck against him and ordered a whole bottle to himself with the credits he liberated from his attackers before he took a seat at his usual table in the middle of the cantina.
After he served his latest patron, Silk turned towards him, a serious glint in his eye.
"It's quite lucky that you came by right now. I have a shall we say interesting job on my hands that I wouldn't dare give to some run-of-the-mill spacer that was looking for a job. It's more suited for a crew with a delicate touch and moral creativity if you catch my drift. Of course, it pays handsomely."
Ezra couldn't help but smirk at Silk as he sipped his third drink.
"You said the magic words. What the job?"
"I knew I could count on you. The job came from a visiting Hutt 'ambassador' if you know what I mean. He got into some trouble with local imperial forces and they confiscated his-" Silk was taking, but his voice faded into the background as a familiar feeling reared inside his head.
It was a long time since Ezra last felt truly connected to the Force. Nowadays he avoided it like a plague, did all to block that constant connection, turning to alcohol when it didn't work. It was easier than facing the fact that he was alone, no teacher, no guide to help him and only his various failures to show up for it.
Yet try as he might, he couldn't resist when something familial reared up inside him. It felt as if he was once again a little loth-rat meeting Kanan for the first time. This feeling was the same as that time, yet completely different. It was hard to make sense of it.
His head moved without conscious thought, his attention was being pulled in the direction of the entrance. The pull was not so strong that he couldn't have resisted if he wanted to, but it was so inviting, so comforting, like an old friend he hadn't seen in years.
As he gave in and turned his head, he blinked once and once again for good measure at the picture before him.
In the entrance of the cantina, a young girl stood, looking unsure and hesitant, head turning across the room, searching for something. She couldn't have been older than Ezra when he first met the Ghost's crew, short and lithe, but she didn't look malnourished. He would know, living on the street wasn't easy on his weight for the first few years. She wore modest, though slightly weary clothes, but she didn't look like either a street urchin or a slave.
But the most noticeable thing about her was the crimson veil that went down only to her eyes, while also covering the top of her head, with only a few locks of black hair poking out. It was easy to see even from this distance that the material of the cloth was thick enough to prevent being able to see through it. Aside from that, there was nothing outstanding about the girl, yet Ezra couldn't tear his gaze away from her like he was supposed to know her.
When he noticed one of the previously beaten up, scarred trandoshan menacingly walking towards her, he couldn't help but let out a sigh, so much for relaxing.
"Excuse me for a moment buddy." he cut off Silk who continued to talk, not realizing Ezra did not hear a word he said."Got to play the part of the mysterious, dashing spacer." with that he stood up and quickly went in the direction of the girl, careful not to spook the obviously drunk reptilian.
By the time he reached them, the trandoshan was already next ti the girl, who stepped back, but there was no real worry on her face, she seemed curious more than anything.
"Young fleshy thing should make itself scare or something bad would happen to it." Ezra did not have the greatest knowledge of the trandoshan language, add to that how he slurred his words, he only got the gist of it. Still, it was more than enough to confirm that he needed to step in.
He was quick to step next to them, throwing an arm around the lizard, careful not to do anything remotely threatening.
"Hey, didn't we run together for that one job on Gamorr?" he asked, hoping that he was drunk enough to believe it."Man, that one was one awkward job I tell you. Why don't I buy you a drink, friend and talk about what happened to you since then." he said while he tried to steer him towards the bar
But the hunter did not appreciate being told what to do, not even the promise of a free drink working like it should have. He pushed Ezra's arm away and glared at him, though from the way his eyes didn't stay firmly on him, he probably saw at least three Ezras before him.
"I'm not your friend, soft fleshy thing, out of my way." he roared, trying to push Ezra away, but he missed, almost falling on his face in the progress.
Ezra only shrugged, a smirk on his face.
"Well, I tried to be diplomatic for once." he said before kicking the drunken trandoshan in the groin, taking him off guard. As he hunched forward in pain, Ezra did not stop for a moment, grabbing his head and throwing him into the nearest table. With an audible thud, the skull and table collided, the alien going unconscious in the process.
His friends stood up, snarling at him, but a gruff growl from a still seated Griff quickly changed their mind, making them sit back and glare at him with hate. Ezra threw a thankful nod to the wookie before looking at the girl, a gentle smile on his face.
"Don't mind him, these brutes are always looking for a fight. But you should get out of here, it's not a place for a kid your age. See you around, kid." with his good deed for the day done, he turned away, intending to go back to Silk and iron out that job at last before hammering himself until the nagging feeling in the back of his neck went away.
"You are like me." her voice was soft and not at all accusing, yet her simple words caused him to freeze in place and look back at her cautiously. She was looking right at him, though he could not see her eyes, he clearly felt the weight of them."You lost so much. Your family, your home, your purpose. You ran because that was the only thing you could do or else the darkness would take you away. So you closed yourself and your connection to the world off. Yet, it feels as if we are alike. Alone, in this cold, empty universe." she seemed to shudder in the end, then began to look around as if she was not sure where she was or how she got there. But Ezra was not in a state of mind to care about that.
A myriad of emotions ran through him and his body went to his default response when he didn't want to deal with something. He ran away.
Not even trying to say anything to the girl, or talk to Silk, he simply took off, heedless of where he was going, only knowing that he needed to get away.
Because it was easier than facing the truth. He was alone.
He felt as if the emptiness he felt inside could swallow him up any minute and he hardly felt he had the strength to do anything about it. He remembered in his first few trips into space, how cold the vast, empty space could feel, but it was nothing like what he felt now. He only felt this empty after he lost his birth parents.
He tried to not linger on the thought that the way they treated him and Sabine to an extent, Hera and Kanaan were like their parents. In that scenario, Zeb could have easily been the annoying Uncle or something like that and Chop the annoying little brother, but not even that thought was able to cheer him up. They were not here.
A hand on his shoulder snapped him out of his thoughts, reminding him that he was not truly alone. Sabine looked at him with worry, her eyes tired and sad at the same. She did not cry, not until they had absolute proof about the fate of the Ghost and even then no one will see her cry openly. She was a tough girl like that.
She did not bother asking him if he was alright, both of them were aware of the answer. She was still in a better state of mind than Ezra, though she freaked out when she heard the news, she still felt some hope. Unlike Ezra, who never knew how wrong everything felt without his master's reassuring presence in the force, like a hole that could never be filled. It gave him a new respect for Kanan who lost his master at the end of the clone wars. But that respect soon turned into despair as he had no diea how he could go forward with that emptiness.
He saw the defeated slump of Sato's shoulders even as he pushed his command ship to the brink, the unfocused eyes of Ahsoka whose attention from time to time wandered to him, utterly lost and the pain behind Rex's tough facade.
All he could do was sit with the others, waiting to drop out of hyperspace along with a small group of rebel fighters coming along as escorts, at the coordinates where they last heard from the Ghost. Or the Imperial ships that were able to ambush them.
With a sudden lurch, the blue shade of the hyperspace faded away from their view, the vast emptiness of the universe greeting them. All of them looked around trying to find something, anything that could tell what happened to their friends.
But they found nothing at all. There were no ships, no wreckage of any kind. It was as if there weren't any ships here, to begin with.
"What do the sensors say?" asked Sato, keeping calm for the crew's sake. There were lots of residues that could be used to track or at least determine what happened to a ship after a space battle.
"We are not picking up anything, sir." said one of the technicians, leaning over a screen, completely bewildered.
"How can this be? There should be something." asked angrily Sabine, before Rex placed a hand on her shoulder, trying to calm her down.
"Whatever took them, it took away everything else from here." spoke up Ahsoka, her cryptic words confusing them.
"What do you mean by that, Commander?" the aging soldier asked, trying to remain level-headed in place of the others.
Instead of answering she looked at Ezra, who had a tired acceptance in his eyes. Despite his age, he was far too old in mind to blindly hope that in spite of everything his family would turn up alright. When his parents were taken he was able to secretly keep hoping for years, but not now. He just felt too tired.
When Ahsoka didn't elaborate after several seconds, he chose to voice it himself.
"This whole place is empty, more like devoid of everything." the others looked at him, not understanding. He frowned, trying to form the right words."Even the Force feels different here like there is a hole in the fabric of reality."
The former Jedi gave a solemn nod, understanding what he meant. The others gave a sort of blank look, which they tended to give Kanan or Ahsoka when they talked about the Force.
Nonetheless, they understood the gist of it. According to the two force users, there was no way they could find their missing friends. Ezra could only stare blankly out of the ship to the empty void as he felt Sabine lean against him, trying to hold back the crushing sadness she felt. But through the Force he still felt it, feeding his own helplessness, until it became too much.
He didn't remember much after that.
He didn't really remember how, but he ended up in an alley, not far from the hangar where their ship docked, leaning on the wall as he tried to get his breath back. His sides hurt, reminding him of the injuries he received earlier that day, his head pounded, telling him that it was not a good idea, to run a few miles after having a few of the stronger drinks Silk had in his bar.
He shouldn't have freaked out like that. He was better than that. But all day he remembered old memories, that he tried his best to bury deep enough to forget. He shouldn't have run, but he was caught off guard and responded with the oldest instinct he had. He ran just like that time.
He felt a humorless chuckle force it's way up. He should've known better, escaping the will of the force is not an easy task.
He sat there, in the dark alley for a while, trying to calm his beating heart, doing the closest thing to meditation he could do these days. Finally, he regained enough strength, to place a cocky, but still fake smirk over his place and make his way back to the ship, ready for the tongue lashing he had no doubt he would receive.
No one looked his way when he stepped out of the alley and approached the hangar. Oh, he was sure someone was keeping tabs on him, everyone was under surveillance in Nar Shaddaa, by the Hutts, by some criminal organizations, or even the empire. The key was to not anger any one of them enough to want you out of the picture. They may keep an eye on him and his crew, but at least they did not send any assassins after them.
Stepping into the hangar he let himself linger a little to eye the ship coming into his view with due appreciation. The Silent Grace was an XS stock light freighter, not a beauty in a conventional sense, but marvelous all the same. It was a relatively small model of starship. The vessel had a saucer-shaped body, pale blue plating, and a blunt cockpit with a narrow viewport that jutted forward from the ship's center. The aft of the freighter featured a heavily armored hull with a pair of sublight engines, and the craft was armed with two dorsal and two port-side laser cannons. Both Aleena and him heavily repaired and modified the ship since the former acquired it in questionable circumstances. As he marveled at the sight, he thought of how many times this ship saved his life. Of course, the ship wouldn't be able to do half the things she did, without her equally beautiful captain.
Speaking of her, just as he expected she was waiting for him, standing at the end of the open ramp, hands on her waist looking more like an annoyed mother than a teenage smuggler. Aleena Taira was a togruta a year younger than him. When they first met, around sixteen months ago, she was already famous as a reckless, daredevil spacer, who succeeded at the riskiest jobs and made what others thought impossible, child's play. She already had an in into the circles of the wealthiest customers, only needed a crew capable of keeping up with her. Luckily for her, she and Ezra crossed paths at a job, which ended with the two of them blowing up a refinery, before being chased by the Empire through 4 systems. Since then, they agreed to stick together.
Many people fell for her charm, with good reasons. She had a very exotic look, with dark orange skin and white lines skirting her cheekbones and jaw. She had sharp, almond-shaped green eyes, that could charm the most xenophobic imperial, and she was very aware of it, abusing it quite often. Her lekku was short just reaching her shoulders and had light blue stripes. She had a lithe, athletic body that many dancers could kill for.
She usually wore military boots, black pants with her two beloved blasters strapped to her outer thighs. She wore a very small, black top, that looked more like a bra, giving her a generous cleavage and exposing her midriff. She had a dark purple jacket over it, that she tended to leave open and wore a few tribal accessories on her lekku.
They did not talk about each other's past, they came to this silent agreement quite early on in their partnership. It worked for both of them, and Ezra felt no need to change this.
Ignoring the pounding of his head, he walked up to Aleena, a confident smirk on his face, that could charm the pants off of many women, but they knew each other well enough that they were immune to the other's charm.
"Hey, Captain. How are you on this fine day?" he asked as a shiver of nervousness ran through him at the disapproving look he got.
"Oh, I don't know. My partner just up and left in the middle of an operation to go drink himself under the bar." she answered sarcastically, looking him over, raising a simple eyebrow in the end. "You look well enough considering where you were playing prisoner and you are not as hammered as I thought you would be. Come on, you have a visitor." she said, turning around and entering the ship, giving Ezra no choice but to follow.
"You are talking about me as if I was a drunkard." he complained even as he followed her in. "If I remember right I carried you away from bars far more often than you had to bail me out...wait, what visitor?'' The last part of her sentence registered just as they entered into the holo table room, skirting around HK who was in the middle of running a maintenance check on the ship.
Upon entering he was met with the sight of the strange girl from earlier sitting at the table, sipping some kind of juice that HK or Aleena must have given to her. Noticing him, she turned towards him and Ezra had to hold back the urge to fidget as shame, an all too familiar pain, and apprehension filled him. He felt uncomfortable under her too observant gaze, even if he was not sure if she even had eyes to stare with, in the traditional sense. After all, the galaxy was vast and full of strange things.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, fighting the urge to get out of there. She unnerved him, made him relieve memories he tried not to dwell on. It might not have been conscious on her part, but she had a presence that was hard to ignore.
"The nice bartender, Silk gave me directions to find you. I've been looking for you." Ezra tensed, not really liking when anyone looked for him. Then she smiled and suddenly she looked a lot younger and a lot less unnerving. "Hello, Dev Morgan."
Hearing the name she used, Ezra visibly relaxed. Dev Morgan was the alias he used to infiltrate the stormtrooper academy back at Lothal so long ago and was the alias he was known by nowadays. Let Ezra Bridger disappear, it was better for anybody involved. It eased his mind a lot, knowing she was looking for him, not the rebel Jedi padawan, but the reckless scoundrel.
"You know my name, but I don't know yours. Who are you? And what do you need me for?" he asked, a little more rude than he was used to. Aleena at his side sent him a questioning look but was ignored.
The young girl didn't seem offended by his tone and simply picked up the cup she was drinking from before letting it go, but it didn't fall to the floor. Instead, it remained where it was, hovering in the air.
"What in the?" gasped Aleena, mystified by the sight. Ezra was also shocked but he forced his face to remain impassive, even as his heart began to hammer in his chest as a familiar feeling seemed to fill in the air, one he really didn't want to feel ever again.
"My name is Mia Lun, a mirakula. I am hunted by the Empire for what I am. My parents tried to hide me for years, but the Empire found out and they...'' her voice cracked and she let out a quiet sob, hugging herself. Neither of them needed to ask what happened, they were familiar enough with the empire's methods. Forgetting her wariness, the togruta captain was quick to sit down next to her and give her a hug in support. After a few seconds she calmed down and continued speaking, peering at Ezra who simply stood there."Rebels found me and rescued me. But we were pursued and they were taken prisoner. Their leader told me to look for Dev Morgan that you can help me find the Jedi master who would train me." she said, her tone hopeful and scared at the time.
"Who told you that?" he asked with narrowed eyes, doing his best to ignore Aleena's curious eyes. Just because someone belonged to the rebellion didn't necessarily make them a good or moral person. His latest run-in with Saw Gerrera saw to that. That man was an extremist no matter what standard you hold yourself to. He wouldn't exactly call him a bad or a good person either but he was one he couldn't trust to watch his back, that's for sure.
"Captain Rex." she said and he couldn't help but smile at the mention of the old clone. He remained behind him after the loss of his master, believing him even when he could do it no longer for himself, and in the end, he let him down. Despite this, he still remembered him fondly as his soldier trainer and later friend.
"Rex is still kicking around, huh?" he asked with a touch of surprise as he walked over and took a seat, looking at Mia with intrigue. "But what Jedi could I lead you to? They are dead, all of them. Rex would know, he was there when the last of them fell." he told her, with an uncaring front, even if dark memories stirred deep in his mind.
The girl looked crestfallen at his words but quickly schooled her expressions. It was clear she spent at least a bit of time on the streets by herself, but not enough to mask her emotions so well that he wouldn't notice the slip-up.
"He said his name is Ezra Bridger." she told him, and he gained a faraway look in his eyes as he remembered another life, where he trained to be a Jedi, where he wasn't running from himself, from what lies deep in his heart.
"Ezra Bridger. That's a name I haven't heard a long time ago." he mused before shaking his head. "Sorry, but he wouldn't be able to teach you. He is a coward, too interested in staying alive rather than doing anything for anybody." he told her and tried not to feel shame at crushing her hopes. It wasn't necessarily a lie, but it still burned him inside, knowing that neither Kanan nor Hera would have been proud of him. He disliked himself more than enough for all of them.
"But then what should I do?" Mia asked him, having no idea how she should proceed from here.
Ezra looked long and hard at the girl he should have taken as his padawan, just like his master did, but he simply wasn't able. He couldn't trust himself with guiding her in the ways of the force. Not that he could. Blind leading a blind could only end in a disaster.
"For starters, you tell me about how Rex was captured, tell me everything you know." he said to her, making the young girl tilt her head, clearly confused "Then, we can form a plan to rescue him and his men." he hated how good it felt seeing a hopeful smile on her face.
He knew he was gonna hear an earful about this from Aleena but he owed the old soldier at least this much.