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.
“But… Surely someone must know where they were headed? Can’t you…”
“If the empire were after them they’ve got no friends in Mos Eisley anymore” he cut me off “You want to be careful what questions you’re asking around here, and who you’re asking them to”
Before I could speak again Valin grabbed me by the arm and dragged me away.
-“piss off back to the ship”—- he hissed. -“You’ll be lucky if he doesn’t tip off the empire after that little display”—-
“Do you even…” I shook my arm free as I started to spit a rebuke, but before i could finish my brain caught up with my mouth and shut it. Valin clearly wasn’t very happy with me, and i had no wish to argue with him when he was absolutely right. If the empire caught up with us they were unlikely to believe the story I had hastily fabricated about a bounty on the old man. We had no papers or identification to back up the story, not to mention that I hadn’t exactly talked it through with the rest of the crew. We needed to stay under the radar.
I stalked out of the cantina, furious. I was angry with myself, for letting my desperation get the better of me, at Valin for telling me so, and at the whole rest of the universe for letting me come so damn close before ripping my only chance away from right in front of my face. I didn’t realise until later that in my anger I had completely forgotten to retrieve the remainder of the cash I gave Valin. Of all the stupid things I’d done in the last few months that might well top the list.
The marketplace passed by in a blur, my thoughts occupied with flashes of memory burned into my mind replaying themselves over and over like a broken holo, taunting me with my failures.
“…We know they’re out there, and we have ways of finding them if you fail, but we’re not looking to hire footsoldiers. We want the best, and the most dedicated to our cause, and only those will succeed…”
“…Your father was a Jedi Knight, and a great man. You’ll be like him some day Kaz…”
“…Wherever they were headed they’re not getting there…”
“…Piss off back to the ship…”
It wasn’t long before I was well and truly lost. I didn’t care at first, but the fact remained. Eventually I came around, the reality of the situation sank in and the potential danger of my predicament pushed other thoughts aside. Tatooine wasn’t a friendly planet, and the citizenry of Mos Eisley were rumoured to be even less hospitable than the barren wastes that surrounded the bustling port. I had my blaster, of course, but if a local gang wanted me hurt I wouldn’t have a chance. I needed to get back to the ship.
Then it happened. All at once I felt nothing but fear, nothing but pain, then just… Nothing. An emptiness that sucked all feeling from me. All sense and emotion dragged suddenly into the darkness and locked away, so far from reach. Each solitary thought echoed back and forth in my head, searching for companionship before dying lost and alone in the desolate void.
I still don’t know how I made it back to the ship. Some animal part of my brain must have taken over when the human part of me fled. Feelings were starting to return one at a time, starting right at the bottom: near-suicidal despair. I drifted up the ramp and took a seat on the first crate I came to. Here you are safe, my animal brain told me as it receded once again to the depths of my consciousness.