Tatooine Bad Boy

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Kaz 0.1

I’m starting to wonder if I made the right choice. Not about leaving, never that. No, if there’s one thing i know for certain it’s that I’m not going to live out the rest of my life on Akanephin V. It’s just, well, everything else.

That said, I’ve never been more at peace than in the last few weeks. Since I left I’ve come to know what that means, ‘peace’. The background noise of Akanephin V was so constant, so pervasive, that I barely even noticed it was there. I’ve drifted to sleep to the lullaby of distant machinery every night of my life, grown up on legends and horror stories about the silence of space. But now that I’m out here I know that I could never go back. It’s more than just wanderlust. I don’t feel any need to see the universe, I don’t want to spend my life on a ship, drifting from port to port. I just want to find somewhere… Better. Somewhere peaceful. Free from the overbearing weight of civilisation. From the white noise of consciousness, the thoughts and emotions that aren’t my own.

I always thought I was special, different somehow from everyone else. I knew I was destined for great things, that someday I’d leave Akanephin V and become a great hero. Anyone who tells you they didn’t dream of that is either lying or so starved of dreams and imagination they’re probably not worth talking to in the first place. But not everyone starts hearing and feeling other peoples thoughts and emotions. Not everyone’s dead father was a member of the legendary Jedi order.

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Quan 1.1
Mos Eisley

1:1

Tatooine. I’d heard it was a shit-hole but… wow. We landed in Mos Eisley after a long flight so I’ll admit it was good to stretch my legs for a while. Valin and Kaz headed off to the nearest drinking hole in search of rumours of a Jedi hiding out on the planet named Kenobi while Kari stayed behind to work on the ship. I just stood there a second and thought about what I was doing.

This is crazy, it can’t be the same Kenobi. Obi-Wan Kenobi was one of the greatest Jedi Masters during the time of the republic, so if anyone could survive the Empire‘s Jedi purge then it makes sense for it to be him. Even more crazy is that I agreed to come along on this wild bantha chase. But that kid, Kaz. There’s something about him. It was enough of a shock to feel the force in another person so strongly after so long let alone have him suggest we go find Master Obi-Wan and ask him to teach us to make lightsabres!

But that’s what he suggested and before I could tell him where to go I was signing on the dotted line and shaking his hand. Valin and his sister were more interested in the monetary rewards for finding such knowledge, well that is to say Valin was more interested in the monetary rewards. I still have no idea what Kari finds interesting other than machines. Regardless they both agreed to fly The Kaladon Ghost to Tatooine and take the kid with us. Neither of them thought to ask why some young runway suddenly wants to go build a lightsabre but his age, the force sensitivity and that almost desperate look in his eye tell the story plainly enough to me. I’ll keep his secret for now.

So there I was in the Mos Eisley spaceport, sweating my balls off and wondering why the hell I was here looking for a dead Jedi. I thought I’d take a walk through the streets, have a smoke and clear my head. Maybe practice some of the old force techniques as that seemed to be the trend these days. I managed to ward off the heat effectively enough and also to track down some information. First a man around these parts goes by the name Ben Kenobi, apparently some crazed old hermit who lives out past the dune sea and second a local mechanic named Arken Dugg who supposedly can take us there on his speeder. Not bad considering I hadn’t used the force in nearly ten years. I’ll admit I had a sightly smug grin on my face as I headed back to the ship to inform the others, stopping at an arms dealer on the way to pick up a blaster. I could use my force powers still, but it wasn’t worth getting ahead of myself.

My grin was well and truly wiped off however as I strolled through the market.

I… felt… something. Something terrible. A great catastrophe somewhere out in the galaxy. I don’t know how or why I felt it. Maybe the recent exposure to the force had increased my sensitivity or some shit I don’t know. But it was a cry, a shout of pain. Millions of people in sudden pain and then.. death. Millions of people had died in an instant of that I was sure. I don’t know where or how bit it happened.

I had to warn the others. I raced back to the ship.

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Kari 1.1a
Arrival on Tatooine

The soothing hum, her constant companion for over a week, stopped.

Kari gave a relieved smile, her eyes still not leaving the dials and displays which monitored the light speed drives functions.

As real space welcomed them back, the streaks of brilliant white rushing past the port holes becoming discernible objects, she could hear the excited chatter over the Kaladon Ghost’s internal communication systems. Turning cautiously from the read-outs, she flicked the room’s comm link on and listened for a few seconds, just long enough to be sure that they were where
they were supposed to be – approaching Tatooine.

Flicking it off again, she paced back to the engine and put a hand on it, stroking lightly, feeling the imperfections in its metal skin, her fingertip finding the scratches and gouges her tools had made in the process of its resurrection. “Good job” she said quietly, adding a wide smile, proud of the Ghost’s performance during the trip from Akanephin 5.

Sitting down at her desk, she accessed the most recent performance reports; charting the ship’ fuel usage, moments of unexpected turbulence, unexplained drag factors. As she scanned her eyes across them, her brow furrowed – there had to be something more she could do, another minor tweak which would improve performance….Her musing was interrupted by the recognisable thud, followed by the light hiss of hydraulics, of the ship landing. She glanced up and shook her head slightly, she had not even realised they were descending!

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Kari 1.1b
Mos Eisley Bazaar

Kari, as it turned out, did not like sand.

She was currently trying to assess which she liked less about this grubby little planet; the intense heat or the omnipresent sand. As she headed away from the Ghost, all she could think about was the damage the wind-plucked sand was doing to the ship’s exterior, not to mention the viewing ports…she did her best to ignore the niggling worry, but it would not be silenced, continually playing on her consciousness as she entered the bustling market.

Seeing the hordes of people, she had to force herself not to turn and head back to the ship immediately – she really should be checking the connections on the power converters before take-off anyway. Giving a sigh of annoyance at herself, the woman clenched her fists at her sides and made herself continue. Even from the very start of the sprawl of canvas topped stalls, shops and vendors, she could see some interesting things on display; she forced herself onward to investigate, allowing her innate curiosity to trump her discomfort.

Walking slowly, inspecting the bizarre wares on display, she finally gained some respite from the worry over the ship, losing herself in the foreign smells and sights that Mos Eisley had to offer as she flitted between the stalls. A vast array of food stuffs sat waiting to be eaten; many looked amazing, prepared by tender hands and with ancient recipes, other looked like dead lizards on sticks… She inspected one closely, her nose mere inches from its scaled hide, and could not help but feel sorry for the small creature; its indecencies going on well after death, as it dangled lifelessly, waiting to be eaten by some customer (one clearly far hungrier than herself). At least if one of its natural predators had got it, its corpse would not have been paraded before the masses…it seemed so unfair. She stared at it for a long moment before the surly man behind the stall muttered darkly about buying or leaving.

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Kari 1.1.c
Of Droids and Men

(subject to change after discussion with Purplesteve)

“There; that ought to do it”
Kari leaned back with a satisfied smile on her lips, and brushed her right arm over her forehead, wiping away the sweat, but replacing it with an oily smudge. “I really don’t know how you get yourself into these situations…” she mused, her brow furrowing slightly as she placed the wrench that had been in her hand carefully on the deck at her side, the action generating a dull thud of metal on metal, “You’re as bad as Valin” she added, leaning forwards to close the service hatch on XR-EG4’s side.

She had found him on his head, feet in the air, at the bottom of the metal staircase which linked the cockpit to the rest of the ship; she guessed he had been about to start his long descent when the Ghost had broken orbit and the sudden jarring of the ship had radically shorted his journey time.

“Gonk gonk, gonk!” he chimed irritably, shifting his weight from one leg to the other, like a child, stamping his feet.
She giggled at the GNK Power Droid’s display, “Ok, ok…” she conceded, putting up her hands in surrender “Not that bad”
“Gonk….”

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Kari 1.2a
...It isn't just one of your holiday games

“Ready?” Kari called from her position behind a large, metal storage unit.
“….Gonk……gonk…..” XR-EG4 said warily, shifting his weight from one metal-clad foot to the other. He was standing at the very front of the cargo bay, in the centre of what would have been the down-ramp, were it down, instead it merely provided a sturdy surface to stand on, with the ship’s bulkhead directly behind him.

“Stop being a wuss!” she called back; the angry stamping and series of gonks her words elicited bringing a smile to her face. She didn’t reply for a second, then jumped out from behind the storage box and called, “Shields up!”, before yanking her blaster from its place on her hip and firing a single shot at her companion.
Kari immediately realised her error as the bolt was sent straight back at her, barely giving her time to dive to the floor and avoid it. She felt the laser’s heat as it narrowly missed her body and sailed onwards straight into a large crate, punching a hole the size of her fist in its side.
XR-EG4 said nothing.

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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.

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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.

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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

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