Tatooine Bad Boy

Kari 1.3a
Astromisnavigation

Kari gave a long, low sigh.
She was bored.
It had been four days since she had finished Quan’s lightsaber; a project which had consumed her totally. She had poured every waking moment, every thought, into its design and construction.
And now it was finished.
And she had her time and thoughts back and no direction to push them in.
The woman had used the day after handing the weapon over to Quan working on Reggie. He now moved a little faster, though could still be outpaced easily by most species, and she had managed to upgrade the strength of shield he would project – This had been distracting, and she enjoyed spending time with the little droid, but the complexity and freshness of the task could not compare to constructing a lightsaber.
Since then she had found herself slipping into a boredom induced depression. Like a drug addict, she had enjoyed the dizzying highs of working on the ancient weapon, now the downer had set in and the world seemed like a drearier place.

View
Kaz 1.1b

I didn’t hear Kari approach. The waif like figure stood there for several seconds before I realised I was staring at her, just as she was at me. I dropped my gaze back to the floor and said nothing. I’d pretty much got used to seeing her like this- stood staring at something inconsequential. Occasionally that thing was me. It had freaked me out the first few times, but after a few weeks I’d come to see her as just another part of the ship. It sounds cold, but I had a feeling that’s how she saw herself too.
I looked up again as she held out a crude, off the shelf communicator. The spoils of a visit to the market, I assumed. Well, at least someone had made it through the day without jepoardising the entire mission.
“It’s a communicator. We’re on channel six”
I nodded slowly, lacking the will to reply, and reached out for the device. A delicate thing, easily crushed in a clumsy moment, just like… I stopped myself. This was ridiculous, I knew deep down that whatever had come over me was temporary, some bad vibe I had unwittingly picked up on, but the knowledge did nothing to help overcome the feeling of hopelessness. Why couldn’t I just control this? Since I found out that this hypersensitivity might be something I inherited from my father I’ve had hope that maybe I could learn to control it, to block out the negative emotions and perhaps refine it into something that could actually help. But now… this… the tide of sorrow that had swept over me brought new definition to the nagging sense of inadequacy that was my constant companion. I couldn’t control this any more than I could halt the winds on Bespin, and if I couldn’t control my feelings what hope did I have of taking control of my life?
“What’s wrong?” Kari blurted out, startling me from my mental spiral of self recrimination. “I mean…uh…”
I stared up at her once more as her face reddened. I knew she was uncomfortable around me, and this was probably the most she’d said to me since I came aboard her ship. This wasn’t some automatic, mechanical response. Kari had clearly stepped out of her comfort zone to reach out to a fellow human being. It was enough.
“Do you ever wonder if there’s even a point? I mean…what’s it all for?” Vague, meaningless, inadequate words, the condensation from a fog of raw emotion, unprepared for speech. I searched in vain, tried again and again to come up with words to somehow express the futility of it all, but nothing came. That slight chance, that momentary, barely spoken connection had nearly been enough to bring me back to reality, but when I looked up Kari had gone.

View
Quan 1.4
Leaving Tatooine

1:4

We entered the little shack which apparently had been home to ex-Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi and searched around.

There was nothing of value left in the building whatsoever. And by that I mean screws had been taken out of the plate which once held the door hinge. In fact the plate had been taken also. And the door. I didn’t have to spot the little scurrying footprints or the sweeping marks left by robes to know that Jawas had been responsible. The little blighters were renowned for stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down and selling it back to you at a ludicrous price.

Kari brought the Ghost as close as possible but with the rocky terrain, we still had to walk half an hour in awkward silence with Kaz still glaring at our backs and the droids’ gait slowing us down.

Before long, Kari had picked up the signal of a Jawa sandcrawler on the radar. It wasn’t too far away so must belong to the tribe who sacked Kenobi’s house. We sped after it and when we got close, hailed it seeking to trade.

The Ghost had barely touched the sand before the Jawa hawk-fest began. Dozens of the little shits were running around setting up tables, ‘hootini-ing’ at us at a rate beyond human comprehension and trying to sell us their tech-junk. I browsed their wares but nothing jumped out at me, not at the prices they were charging anyway. Kari seemed to be in a tech-induced coma, running between different stalls, spouting serial numbers and operating systems and force-knows what else. There was one item of interest however- an old Trade Federation battle droid which was missing an arm and was pretty bashed up but Kari was certain she could get it back online. Seeing the thing brought back some old memories, memories I hadn’t dwelled on in a very long time. Flashbacks of flying ships during the Clone Wars, battling these ochre bastards across every planet of the outer rim, losing friends…

I was lost in my reverie for a while. It was like the past few days had been me re-living my life all over again. First that force-sensitive kid shows up and gets the old midi-chlorians stirring, then he mentions lightsabres and Obi-Wan Fucking Kenobi now we see an old relic like that battle droid just here in our path. Something was different, something had changed. Was I meant to remember all the old Jedi tricks? Was I destined to finish what I started all those years ago? This kid was the catalyst I was sure, but I wasn’t sure what I thought about it.

sand people

Kari decided to buy the battle droid, much to my disgust. I don’t know how comfortable I am going to be with that bucket of rust watching me on the ship, but I was damned if I was going to let on it had unsettled me. I lit another deathstick as we closed the hatch and set off.

sand people

TBC

View
Quan 1.3
Losing the trail

1:3

When we arrived back on the ship, Kaz was in a state. He was sat near-catatonic on a crate in the open cargo area, oblivious to the bright sun shining on him and the claustrophobic heat. I knew then that my first hunch that he might be force-sensitive was correct. He had clearly felt the tragedy that I had earlier and was still suffering. As I was considering what to do about it, Kari and Valin’s conversation from further into the ship.
“Valin, I broke the guest…” she was whispering quietly
“Don’t worry little sis, we can get a new one” Valin replied with a smile as he took a communicator from Kari’s offered hand, the same model she had given me and had also placed beside Kaz on his crate
“<sigh>… channel 6” Kari explained".

Kaz stirred, possibly only just noticing that we had all returned
“Well, our only possible lead has gone…. FUCK!” he punctuated his sentence by punching the crate next to him with his massive meaty paw. Valin saw my confused expression and explained that Kenobi had been spotted in town alright, causing trouble in a cantina before leaving the planet aboard a ship called the Millenium Falcon. Apparently it was pretty fast and crewed by a notorious scoundrel who knew how to escape trouble. Kari seemed more upset at missing the opportunity to see such a ship in action than completing our actual mission but it was pretty much unanimous that with the Falcon’s speed and the Empire following them, that particular lead of information was lost to us.

“Actually, we do have another lead” I said. The others all turned to face me as I explain the meeting I’d had with Arken Dugg and how he could take us across the Dune Sea to Kenobi’s home. Kaz’s face immediately lit up and we decided to head out to meet Mr. Dugg.

To give him credit, Arken Dugg must have seen us coming and knew exactly how to swindle a naive off-worlder. The scumbag wanted 1000 creds just for the short trip which wouldn’t take more than an hour each way tops. Kaz of course tried to pay the man, but I managed to bargain with him enough that he agreed to take 500 credits before the trip with a promise of a further 1000 on our safe return. He agreed of course and we set off immediately. Valin had cottoned on to my plan straight away and got in touch with Kari with the communicator, he asked her to follow along at a distance in the Ghost as it would be unlikely that we’d have a lift home.

So when we pulled up to the Kenobi residence (which was just a little mud hut baking in the sea and very disappointing) I was sure we had the wrong place. The Jedi Master I knew of wouldn’t live in a place like this. Still, we had come this far so we might as well check it out. Thanking the nice Mr. Dugg, I tried to complete our arrangement by putting a blaster bolt in his head, ending his swindling life along with the need to pay him more creds but Kaz saw what was happening and knocked my weapon aside at the last minute. What the hell is this kid’s problem!? He’s always moaning about having no cash but then when I try and save him some, he kicks off! Valin tried to help me shoot the guy but what with Kaz’s interference and the close quarters sat in the speeder, I coulndn’t get a shot off. Suddenly there was a vibroaxe in my face and Dugg was screaming at us to pay up and get out. Confused as to which part of ‘our safe return’ had been fulfilled I refused to pay any more. Dugg’s counter-offer was still buzzing in my face, threatening to cut it up and so couldn’t really be argued with. We agreed to pay him another 500 so we could all leave in peace. He agreed and sped off into the distance, just leaving us enough time to unload the droids and dust ourselves off.

Valin and I glared at Kaz but he just claimed ’that’s not the way its going down while I’m paying’. Jackass.

We signalled Kari to bring the Ghost in, we’d need her help sooner than we thought.

View
Kaz - 1.1

Tatooine was as desolate as I’d expected. The dry air hit me like a slap in the face as I walked down the ramp, hungrily sucking the moisture from my skin and letting me know in no uncertain terms that i was not welcome here. It was a sharp contrast from the climate controlled comfort of the ship. Kari, the mechanic, was unpredictable and occasionally bizarre but she knew how to keep her ship running, and it hadn’t taken long for the Ghost to feel like home.
We split up, as agreed. The easygoing old pilot, Quan, wandered off on his own, headed to the marketplace to make his enquiries, while Valin and I headed to the nearest Cantina to attempt to loosen the locals tongues with booze. I handed him a few credits to ingratiate himself with the locals and wandered over to a dark corner of the bar with my drink. I’d always had a talent for picking out conversations I was interested in from across a crowded bar, so I had no doubts I would be able to hear what he was up to. For a man who seems to make his way in the world conning and cheating others Valin wasn’t as as subtle as I would have expected. Perhaps that’s part of his charm, I still haven’t figured him out, and I’m not sure I ever will.
It wasn’t long before I heard the word ‘Jedi’. My ears pricked up
“…in here not long ago, cut some fools arm off before fleeing the system, or so I heard”
I leapt to my feet, nearly knocking over the table in my haste, and ran over to the bar where Valin was engaged in conversation with one of the bar staff. In retrospect, perhaps I should apologise to him for my earlier comment on his subtlety.
“Where were they headed?” I asked, frantic. I couldn’t believe I had come so close to Kenobi only to find he had left the planet so soon before we arrived. The barman gave me a suspicious look, glancing back at Valin before continuing.
“Where they’re going of no concern of anyone’s. They had the empire right on their exhaust trail, wherever they were headed they’re not getting there. Good riddance too.” He spat on the floor.

View
Kari 1.2c
Form Follows Function

Kari righted the beaker slowly; the heat was unbearable, but she had to remain focused, not wanting to spill a single drop of its molten contents. Keeping it clamped between the jaws of the huge, metal forceps, she squeezed as hard as she could, ensuring it was not going to fall as she ferried it across the engine room to a worktop that was out of the way.
Giving a sigh of relief, she put down the clamps and stretched her arms, relieving the tension in her muscles, before removing her soldering mask and rubbing a forearm across her sweated brow.
She arched her back, aching from being in the same position for so long, and let out a sigh of relief as she headed back across the room to her workstation.

Leaning forwards, the young woman inspected the mould she had poured the blazing hot metal into, carefully scrutinizing it for any gaps or air pockets: seemed ok. Before her was the titanium cover which would shield the access point to the weapons innards. She stared at her creation for a full minute, resting her chin on the tabletop, the fingers of both hands curled over its edge, as she fixated on the cooling metal.

Eventually, Kari managed to drag herself away, heading over to her desk she flicked through the pages of her notebook, double checking her measurements meticulously, populating the simple formula needed to ensure everything would fit inside the weapon: Inner dimension – thickness of the metal x pi. Working it out quickly, she nodded to herself – Perfect.

View
Kari 1.2b
And in the Darkness Bind Them

(huge thanks to PurpleSteve for proof-reading this section)

They stared in silence into the blackness.

A rich, luxuriant blackness which had been ladled over the corridor ahead of them, entirely smothering the light between their current position and the adjacent corridor some fifty metres away. From time to time a spark of electricity would stab defiantly at the dark, marking where power cables had been severed, but its efforts were quickly subdued, as the black reclaimed its dominance.
Kari glanced back towards the well-lit lift car, now locked on their level, before again inspecting the dark: no choice. They had to press on.
She felt Reggie shuffle uneasily from one heavy foot to the other, and put a reassuring hand on his top. As she pointlessly wished she just stayed on the ship, Quan opted to scout ahead.
He stepped forwards and was consumed by the blackness; Kari narrowed her eyes, trying to focus harder, but to no avail.
The remaining three figures and the GNK droid waited in painful silence, nervously casting their eyes back to the lift regularly, checking it was still there, that the imperials had not, somehow, managed to override its lock-down.

Standing in the gloom at the mouth of the service tunnel, Kari realised her fists were balled. Looking down at her own hands, her brow furrowed slightly as she felt her nails pressing hard into her own palms, leaving miniature canyons in her skin. Thinking on this for a second, taking a moment away from the intensity of the situation, she realised she wasn’t scared. Well…a little bit, the man with the lightsaber scared her, there was something about him, an unknown quantity which worried her, but that was it. The stormtroopers didn’t frighten her (they would catch them, or they wouldn’t: a simple binary situation. One conclusion was definite), neither did the oppressive environment of the mines (compared to the service conduits on the ship this was roomy), instead she found herself to be incandescently angry.

View
Kaz 0.2

I was offered the chance to join the rebel alliance for the price of a pint of cheap ale. Of course, there would be a test to see if I was worthy of joining, but the invitation cost me just that. When someone offers you a chance to begin a whole new life, to be a part of something bigger, to help make a difference to the lives of billions of people, how are you supposed to walk away? If you’ve seen near enough every scam in the book, and been a party to half of them, it’s easy. I heard him out then stood up, thanked him for the story, and left.
My heart was pounding against my ribs as I left the cantina. This could be it, my ticket off this tired husk of a world, maybe even a way to find out more about the Jedi and my father. The grizzled old veteran must have been insane, telling glorious stories of the rebellion to anyone who’d listen, all while sat in a bar on an imperial mining world.
The empire didn’t exactly rule x with an iron fist. We hadn’t seen a stormtrooper since the sad little attempt at an uprising eight years back, and even then they were gone in a month. The planetary arbitrators were corrupt and lazy and criminal activity of all kinds was rife, but as long as the mines met quota we were left pretty much alone. The only thing they seemed to care about was keeping the status quo- the first sign of someone upsetting the well ordered system was crushed swiftly and mercilessly. Agents were everywhere, or so we told each other. Tales were shared in every mine and drinking hole of friends of acquaintances of distant relatives who had vanished after a drunken rant against the injustice of our indentured lives, and the evil of the distant, unseen power that held us so. We all knew the stories and the truth of them was undisputed, so we never questioned the sources. I myself once told a wonderfully embellished tale of my uncle’s old drinking buddy whose house was burned down after one such tirade. Never mind that I didn’t have an uncle, it was a great story.
So we all went about our lives, complained about the hours, the pay and our shift managers, and never dared whisper our grievances against the system that kept us trapped this way. But here sat a man who had seen a different life. A man who would, seemingly without fear, tell anyone about the rebel fight for freedom and honour. He was there again a week later, and a few weeks after that, and each time I simply watched him. Never openly acknowledging him, I just watched and studied, trying to make up my mind about the enigmatic figure. My suspicions ran deep: his continued reappearance seemed to defy everything I knew, something had to be going on, but I just couldn’t figure out what. I’ve always had an excellent instinct for detecting trouble, but nothing about the man set it off. He radiated an aura of calm unlike anything I’d ever experienced, none of my freakish senses seemed to be able to pick him up and just being in the same room seemed to dull the constant background clamour of thoughts and emotions. Eventually I made up my mind. This could well be my only chance to start a new life, and I would regret it forever if I turned it down.
He smiled warmly as I sat down opposite him, his gaze steady, self assured and about six inches to my left. He’d clearly been at the ale for several hours before I got there.
“I had a good feeling about you, kid. Knew as soon as I looked at you there was something special about you. You’ve reconsidered, haven’t you?” I kept it brief.
“If you are who you say you are then you’re a dangerous person to be seen with. Just tell me what I need to do.”
“Hah! A man of action eh? You’ll go a long way kid. So what made you change your mind?”
It was tempting, I have to admit, to spend the rest of the evening there, finding out more about the noble cause i was being recruited into. But my sense of self preservation begged me to part ways with the charismatic drunk. As much as I trusted him his presence was still a source of potential trouble.
I glanced furtively around the cantina. The loud music was drowning out any chance of people overhearing us but I was uneasy about being seen sat here for too long.

TBC

View
Quan 1.2
...like a million souls crying out as one

Quan 1.2

1:2

I returned to the ship panting and sweating buckets. I had lost my control over the delicate protection against the oppressive heat provided by the force some minutes before arrival and was certainly feeling it.

Only Kari was present on the ship, she didn’t say much other than ‘channel 6’ as she pushed a small communicator into my hand as I passed.

“Where are the others?” I asked

She meekly shook her head indicating she didn’t know, or more likely that she didn’t intend to speak to me about it. I decided to go in search of them myself. I didn’t take long for me to track Valin to a seedy bar just off the main market causeway. The sinking horror feeling I had a few minutes earlier was still gripping my stomach and I rushed up to his table, wide eyed and short of breath. I glanced around, Kaz was nowhere to be seen.
“Kaz” I breathed “Where?”
The unsavoury types gambling with my companions didn’t take too kindly to my bursting in and interrupting their game. Valin ordered me a drink while disarming the tension with one of his winning miles and gestured towards a bar stool next to him.
“He just needs a drink” Valin said to the group “don’t mind him”

“Sit” he said to me simply, passing me a glass of off-colour liquor then whispering under his breath “what’s wrong?”

“It’s-” I started to reply but the feeling of horror was starting to subside. The shock trauma of its sudden appearance fading to the dull throb of an injury remembered. I drank the liquor in one gulp and gestured to the barkeep for another.
“I don’t know, I.. er… nothing I’m ok” I lied. Glancing up at the table, everyone seemed to have already forgotten about my interruption and were back to swapping cards and insults and breakneck pace.
“Where is the boy?” I asked, the desperate need to find safety subsiding, I was able to think straighter.
“Just gone out to get some fresh air” Valin replied around a smoking deathstick “you buying in?”
“No, thanks” I just sat and watched as Valin played a few more rounds before a message from Kari over the new communicators alerted us that Kaz had returned. We made our excuses and headed back through the oppressive heat to the Kaladon Ghost.

View
Kari 1.2a (Cont)
Getting Coffee

Almost an hour later Kari and the newly named, Reggie, left the cargo bay.
The room had developed a rash of scorch burns; black pockmarks could be found on the walls, floor, ceiling, and many of the storage boxes. Kari was confident that most would “Buff right out”, all except one –which sat behind the (now severed) cables formerly charged with carrying power to the down ramp. When those had been damaged, Kari had merely shrugged and added it to her list of repairs which were necessary before next planet fall.

Walking through the ship, Kari and the droid headed for the engine room. En route, they passed the mess hall; a room which, though originally had been designed purely for eating, was now a communal space with more comfortable seating than the cabins offered, as well as a few games and the like. Turning her head as they passed the door, Kari found Kaz sitting alone at the long table in the centre of the room, a set of tools next to him and a large schematic laid out to his right. Passing on, she took a few steps further down the hall before her mind processed the image. She stopped before retracing her steps exactly until she was standing in the middle of the door way again.

He hadn’t noticed her, so caught up in whatever he was building.
She looked longingly at the blueprints but could make out nothing from where she was. Staring harder gleaned no new information, as Kaz picked up a small screw and tried to insert it delicately, before dropping it, his large hands ill-suited to the task.
“Gonk…”
Kari glanced down at Reggie, “You head on back, ok?” she managed before her curiosity dragged her gaze back to the man sitting at the table, “I’m just going to uh…grab some coffee….”
“….Gonk…” If it was possible for a droid to simulate the rolling of eyes without anything even vague resembling eyes, Reggie managed it, before he headed down the corridor slowly, his heavy steps giving a pleasing ring on the metal flooring.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.