Saga - OT Star Crossed: Rebels/OC's--COMPLETE (5/21/2017)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Raissa Baiard, Nov 21, 2016.

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  1. Raissa Baiard Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 1999
    star 4
    Title: Star Crossed
    Author: Raissa Baiard
    Genre: rom-com in SPAAACE; action
    Characters: Ezra Bridger, the rest of the Ghost’s crew, OC’s
    Timeframe: 0 BBY
    Betas: @Ewok Poet and @Findswoman. Thank you so much for your suggestions and support; without it, this story wouldn’t be here @};-

    Disclaimers:
    1.) This is an AU
    2.) I’m not fully caught up on Rebels, so if something conflicts with Season 3, see point 1.)

    This is for the OTP Rom-Com Challenge. The random elements I received were: death of a family member/friend and life threatening situation.

    Star Crossed

    Part One

    BWOP! BWOP! BWOP!

    "Aaaah!" The strident alarm reverberated through the cabin, jolting Ezra awake and upright. He banged his head on the cabin's ceiling and bit back an un-Jedi-like oath, while evil robotic laughter came from below. "Chopper! Don't you ever get tired of doing that?"

    "Hmmm... uh-uh." The astromech droid's flattened dome swiveled a negative.

    "Yeah, thanks." Ezra sat and pushed his dark hair out of his eyes. It was starting to get long again, maybe not as shaggy as it had been back on Lothal, but it was a good thing that the Rebellion didn't care about militarily precise appearances. "Don't you have to prepare the Ghost for landing or something?" Chopper shook his head again and blatted out an answer. "We're already there?!? Shavit!" Ezra grabbed his chrono. He was certain that he'd set the alarm last night; he was running point on a mission this morning and Hera was not going to be pleased that he'd managed to oversleep...again. Sure enough, the chrono's alarm had been set to go off an hour earlier--and had been switched off. "Chopper!" He vaulted down from his bunk, but the droid was already rolling away at top speed, chuckling to himself the whole time.

    He let Chopper go with a sigh of frustration, and started pulling on his clothes. Five years ago, he would have chased down the ornery droid and probably whacked him with the nearest heavy object for pulling something like that. Chopper might never change, but Ezra had developed a better sense of priorities over the years. Not to say that he never pranked Chopper or Zeb anymore, but right now he had his mission to think of.

    The Ghost was transporting a librarian, of all people, to the relative safety of the Corporate Sector. In the course of cataloging material for the Imperial Archives, librarian Meryan Ranga had come across a full report of the occupation of Ralltiir, written by Lord Tion himself. She’d started reading it and was appalled both by the brutality and the casual way Tion recounted the atrocities. Ranga decided that people had a right to to know what kind of heinous actions the Empire was taking against its own citizens when they dared to speak out. She stole the report and started trying to contact news agencies to find one that would release it to the public--but not until after she'd mentioned her feelings to a co-worker who was loyal the Empire and not Ranga's ideals of truth. She was threatened and her apartment ransacked, but she was assaulted by Imperial agents on her way home from work, she began to fear for herself and her three small children, six year-old twins Elsi and Dewi and four year-old Nathen.

    When a reporter from the Coruscant Underground named Linel Blye heard Ranga's story and contacted her, the librarian initially refused to speak. Only when Blye promised to help Ranga and her family escape the Empire did she agree to talk, and even then, she insisted she would only give the Underground the report after they were safe.

    Blye and her colleagues had provided useful intel to the Ghost’s crew on more than one occasion; now she asked them to return the favor. It didn’t take much persuasion for the Hera to agree. She located a Rebel cell called the Idiot’s Array which specialized in forging documents for those hunted by the Empire and getting them to the relative safety of the Corporate Sector, and they arranged for them to create new identities for Ranga and her children.

    With the Ranga family aboard, the Ghost was packed from cockpit to cargo hold. Unlike the traumatized librarian, the children never stayed in their cabin; they were everywhere--chasing Chopper down the halls, ransacking the galley for snacks, exploring the engine room. That was the last straw; an irate Zeb plunked the younglings down in front of Ezra and growled, "Here. Do something with these little ankle biters before I have to lock them in the cargo hold for the rest of the trip."

    "Me?" Ezra protested. "Wouldn't Hera or Sabine do better? You know, maternal instinct and all that?"

    Hera flashed him a look over the edge of her datapad. "Oh, I think you'll do just fine," she said as she rose to to leave the overcrowded common room.

    "Think of it as good practice.” Sabine patted him on the shoulder. “Women appreciate men who are good with younglings."

    "Do you?" he asked hopefully, but she only laughed as she, too, exited, leaving him to deal with the children as best he could--which he had a feeling was not going to be very well. At their age, he'd been fending for himself on the streets of Lothal, stealing food and picking pockets. What did he know about entertaining kids? "Um, okay..." Ezra pulled a deck of sabacc cards out of the drawer beneath the acceleration couch before they bolted in three different directions as usual. "I guess I can show you a few tricks."

    Surprisingly, the card tricks and sleight of hand he'd learned as a street rat amused them. When they got tired of that, he'd levitated the cards, making them fly in formation. They thought that was so much fun they asked to see it again. And again. And again. And suddenly Ezra was their new best friend in the whole galaxy and nowhere was safe from them, not even the 'fresher.

    The kids’ constant attention was bad enough, but was harder to ignore the conflicting emotions Ezra felt when he was around them. Like Meryan Ranga, his parents had believed in exposing the Empire’s lies and bringing the truth to light. But Ranga had decided the cost was too high and that protecting her children came first, while the Bridgers continued in the face of imprisonment...even though it meant leaving their son on his own. Ezra had made peace with their decision, or thought he had; now he found himself wondering again what his life would have been like if his parents had made the same choice. What it would have been like to have had a family and a home…and he had to stop and tell himself that dwelling on the past and wallowing in self-pity wasn’t something a Jedi should do-- there was no emotion; there was peace--and at least he could make sure Elsi, Dewi, and Nathen could still have that sort of life.

    And, Ezra reminded himself, he did have a home and a family now, even if home was a spaceship and family was composed of more than one species. Hera mothered the entire crew, though Kanan was more like an older brother than a dad; he supposed that made Zeb and Chopper the crazy uncles he’d never had, and Sabine…. Well, Sabine had made it clear she thought of him as a little brother, no matter how many times he’d tried to change her mind. Whatever their differences, they were family in every way that mattered, and right now they were probably waiting for him to get it into gear so they could wrap up this mission.

    He grabbed his jacket and dashed down to the galley to snag some caf and a ration bar before heading out for the day. The rest of the crew was finishing up breakfast when he got there. Zeb, Kanan and Hera were clustered in the dining booth, while Sabine leaned against the counter, caf mug in one hand and half a piece of haarshun bread in the other. "Morning, sleepy head. You ready for your run today?"

    "I'm always ready." Ezra poured himself a mug of caf. It was Centaxday, Zeb’s turn to make it, so it was black as space and thick enough to crawl out of the mug on its own, but he needed the caffeine fix. Ezra dumped in a couple extra spoonfuls of sugar so it would at least taste a little less like engine sludge, rummaged through the top cabinet until he found the ration bars, unwrapped one and dunked it in the caf.

    Hera gathered up her dishes from the table. "Let's go over the plan anyway.”

    The caf had softened the ration bar enough to make it almost edible. Ezra gnawed off a bite. "I go to the cantina and find my contact from the Idiot's Array…”

    “Idiot's Array?” Zeb asked, looking up from the soggy remains of his biscuits and hash. “Why’re they called that?”

    “Their call signs are all sabacc cards. The one I’m supposed to meet today is the Ace of Sabers.”

    Zeb shoveled up the last bite and grunted. “Yeah, but the Idiot’s Array? Still seems like a stupid name for a cell if you ask me."

    "Maybe they think they're unbeatable." Sabine suggested.

    "Or maybe they're just idiots."

    Over the years, Hera had made ignoring this kind of nonsense from her crew into an art form. Only the slight twitch of her lekku showed any sign of irritation. "So you meet the Ace of Sabers and give her the code phrase. You do remember the code phrase?" she prodded Ezra.

    "Yeah." He set down his mug and thumped a fist against the counter dramatically. '' 'What's a guy got to do to get a drink around here?' And then she says 'Aren't you a little young to be drinking this early in the morning?' Seriously, who comes up with these things?"

    "I hope you're more convincing than that when you get to the cantina," Sabine told him. "Otherwise I might as well make you a nice sign that says 'Rebel Operative' and get it over with."

    "How long have I been doing this and you still don't trust me?"

    They exchanged glances and answered a near simultaneous "No."

    "Thanks. I love you guys, too." The galley door slid open and a herd of wild younglings stampeded inside. Okay, there were still only three of them, but in the narrow galley, they certainly seemed like a herd as they clamored for breakfast. "Ezwa!" Nathen squealed, attaching himself to his leg. "Do the twicks again!"

    "Oh, hey, look at the time..." Ezra pried the little boy loose, ignoring his shrieking protest, and dumped his mug into the sink. "I really need to get going."

    "Don't you want to finish your breakfast before you go?" Hera called after him.

    "Nah, I'll just grab something in the market."

    "Are you sure?"

    "Yeah," Ezra answered, dodged the youngling as he lunged, chubby, grasping hands outstretched. "I am definitely sure."
    Last edited by Raissa Baiard, Mar 27, 2017
    Chyntuck, yahiko, Sith-I-5 and 7 others like this.
  2. mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2005
    star 6
    I'm waaayy behind on Rebels (as I'm still in the first season), but I love how you show how Erza has grown since then, but he is still him.

    I love how he thinks about his own family, and while the kids annoy him, he wants to help give them what he didn't have. And that the crew of the Ghost are now his family. [face_love]

    Wonderful job!
  3. divapilot Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 30, 2005
    star 4
    Always love a Rebels story, and this is a good one! I love how you've shown Ezra's growing maturity in his ability to think about his own background without regret and to take on tasks like babysitting that challenge him. The idea of a rebel librarian - love it. Hera, of course, will take care of her and get her safely to her destination.

    Best part:
    Unlike the traumatized librarian, the children never stayed in their cabin; they were everywhere--chasing Chopper down the halls, ransacking the galley for snacks, exploring the engine room. That was the last straw; an irate Zeb plunked the younglings down in front of Ezra and growled, "Here. Do something with these little ankle biters before I have to lock them in the cargo hold for the rest of the trip." I can just see Zeb doing this!
  4. Findswoman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2014
    star 5
    OK, first I'll share that when I was first beta-reading this and saw "BWOP! BWOP! BWOP!" at the top of the little Google Docs preview thinger, I thought for a moment that that might be the title. :p It's a great noise, anyway, and in its way very emblematic of the zany nature of the story to come.

    Off to a hilarious start! I haven't seen any of Rebels yet and don't know the characters well, but they're very easily followable here—not just Ezra, who is likeable and resourceful and starting to mellow out from the Aladdin-like, street-kid roots I know he has, but also the little we see of his crewmates Zeb and Chopper. And I can indeed picture big, hulking, Shrek-like Zeb getting mooie annoyed with all those extra younglings running around. :p We don't really see much of Meryan Ranga here in person, but the fact that she's apparently too traumatized to even keep an occasional eye on them says a lot about her situation (and I am curious about whether we'll meet her later on). Of course, I too love that the Rebel personage being hunted by the Imperials and transported by the Ghost to safety is "a librarian, of all people"—which I know is congruent with your own background, but it is doubly cool just because it's not one of the "super exciting" professions we usually see given to people placed in that role. Kudos on that! :D

    I love Ezra's debriefing on the mission with his crewmates (over the caf "thick enough to crawl out of the mug by itself" [face_laugh]), because it's such a fun sendup of these secret-mission scenarios where someone has to say one passphrase and someone else the other, and then again, etc. For some reason Sabine's comment about the "nice sign" made me laugh aloud—I almost want (or want someone else) to try writing a story in which someone actually does that, to see how the other side react (one of those reverse-psychology things? :D ). In any event, the use of sabacc cards for call signs puts me in mind of A Certain Other Oeuvre of Yours in Which Sabacc Cards Feature Prominently... heck, even Ezra's card tricks for the Ranga kids appears to foreshadow that a little.

    One small thing: I wonder if you could please remind us in your heading about which two elements you ended up with in the Romcom in Space challenge roulette? :D

    Really enjoying this and looking forward to more! :)
    AzureAngel2, Kahara and Ewok Poet like this.
  5. Ewok Poet Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2014
    star 5
    I am glad to have participated in the making of this gem from the very start and even more glad that it materialised on time to be in the challenge. :)

    Just like @mavjade, I am still at the first season - heck, I stopped ten minutes into the pilot because of whatever shiny thing somewhere, but I do remember that I really liked Sabine. Anyway, if I get something wrong, I'm sorry!

    Ezra's day seems to have started in all sorts of wrong ways. And then, there are these blasted meddlin' kids and their mother who, as far as he could be concerned, seems to be more hypothetical than real. Chopper is not making it easy on him, either.

    However, what comes through this whole passage is how he's growing up - his hair may be going back to some old length, he might be sleeping in, but he is no longer a child. He's got different priorities, he's an experienced Rebel and most certainly a part of the team. He's learning to control his temper, too - after all, anger was what almost led him to the dark side and he's aware of it. He might be too hard on himself during the sequence when he thinks of his own family - listen, dude, you're motivated to do a good thing, so somebody would not end up on the streets, the way you did. I think the Jedi Order would've been perfectly fine with that!

    I know that you were worried about the family comparison - Ezra and the rest of the Ghost crew vs. Meryan and her kids. - but it turned out perfectly. The idea of Zeb and Chopper being the "crazy uncles" was dead funny! And, of course, there's the fact that Ezra just can't have Sabine, yet she teases him. :)

    The numerous sabacc references throughout are a blast.
    AzureAngel2, Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  6. Anedon Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2016
    star 4
    Hey
    Just read this and I like it. I've never seen much of rebels as I prefer the old canon but I have seen a few episodes. I'm not suprised Ezra is still the victim of Choppers pranks. But cool to see he has learned to control his temper now.
    Nice to see the ghost crews back. :)
  7. AzureAngel2 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2005
    star 6
    I could not resist reading this because I love the "Rebels" series very much. And you do it justice, bringing things to a new level. Thank you!
    Kahara likes this.
  8. Raissa Baiard Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 1999
    star 4
    Thank you all so much for reading and commenting [:D] As I mentioned in the OTP thread, this story is a departure for me in a lot of ways, and I was originally uncertain about; once again big thanks to @Ewok Poet and @Findswoman for all their encouragement.

    This is my first fic about the Rebels crew; I think they're a fantastic ensemble cast. It was a challenge to make sure they sounded and acted like themselves. I know What Luke Skywalker Would Do; I've known him for over 30 years, but I've seen only the first season and a half of Ezra & Co. I am glad that you feel I managed to get it right :)

    They really are a family...not a traditional one, but family in the ways that matter most. They've proven time and again that, to quote another Disney property, family means no one is forgotten or left behind.

    This was @Findswoman's suggestion and it made perfect sense to me. Librarians are all about the free exchange of information, and it certainly wouldn't be the first time a librarian has fought against censorship and government suppression. Unfortunately, not everyone is cut out to be a full-fledged Rebel, and that certainly seems to be the case with poor Meryan.

    Thanks! Zeb' a fun character, isn't he? @Findswoman's comparison with Shrek is pretty apt; they're both big, scary and cranky on the outside, but inside, they both have layers.

    Zeb's caf was kind of a tribute to the way my grandmother used to make iced tea; for anyone besides Grandma, one third a glass of her tea plus water and ice would be more than strong enough.

    Since Sabine is an artist, I'm sure she could make Ezra a really nice sign. Not particularly conducive to stealth missions, perhaps, but definitely attractive.

    Re sabacc cards: [face_batting]

    Done and done.

    Do you get the feeling this is a regular occurrence aboard the Ghost?

    Thank you. This is (obviously) my take on how Ezra would be after almost five years aboard the Ghost. I think he's always been a fundamentally a good person despite everything he's been through; Aladdin, the street-rat turned diamond-in-the-rough is the most obvious comparison. My feeling is that, yes, Ezra has his struggles with the Dark Side, but he's able to overcome it, thanks in large part to the support of his adoptive family.

    And the hair...I just like him better with longer hair than the slicked back look he has in Season 3 :ezra:

    Poor Ezra; he tries so hard with Sabine, and she's so unimpressed. ;)

    Thanks again for all the reviews; I plan to post the second part in a day or two, and introduce the other half of this OTP :)
    Last edited by Raissa Baiard, Nov 27, 2016
    Kahara, Findswoman and Ewok Poet like this.
  9. Raissa Baiard Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 1999
    star 4
    Thanks once again to my fabulous betas, @Ewok Poet and @Findswoman!

    Part Two

    It was one of the laws of the Galaxy that spaceports always had a marketplace nearby to separate unwary tourists and spacers on leave from their credits, even if that marketplace was only a handful of ragged canvas booths. Even though this was an arid, backrocket world on the edge of nowhere, its market was quite a bit more than that--larger, cleaner and more orderly than Ezra would have expected. He threaded his way through the narrow, dusty streets between freshly patched canvas stalls and whitewashed stucco buildings where everything from speeder parts to meilooruns were for sale. The aroma of exotic spices floated over the marketplace; Ezra traced it to a cluster of food vendors' stalls. He picked the one with most locals queued up, and ordered a cup of caf and two meat filled pastries. They were still hot from the fryer when the elderly Ithorian vendor handed them to him, and they burned his fingers through the flimsi wrapper. Ezra snagged a table at a nearby seating area to watch the crowd while they cooled down.

    Kanan and Hera probably would have accused him of loitering when he should have been getting on with his mission, but Ezra preferred to think of it as gathering important recon. Getting the lay of the land was never wasted time, especially not when you needed to come up with emergency escape plans as often as he seemed to.

    The bazaar was doing a brisk trade that morning. Like most Outer Rim space ports, the population was a mix of Humans and non-Humans, a dozen different species haggling in Basic, Huttese, Minisaat and other trade languages. Ezra noticed that the locals, even the non-Humans, seemed more cheerful and less ragged than on a lot of other Imperial Rim worlds he’d seen. The cynical Loth rat that still lurked in him, however, noted that there were at least three stands whose shrewd- faced proprietors were likely running sidelines in weapons or spice: a Bothan loitering near a tech repair shop was observing everything with the practiced eye of an agent, and the Gamorrean-jowled thug perusing the Juicy Blabber was probably someone's hired muscle.

    Ezra finished the last of his caf and licked the oily powdered sugar off his fingers. Thus fortified, he felt ready to pursue his mission and wandered through the market until he spotted the sign for the cantina where he was supposed to meet the mysterious Ace of Sabers. Its façade was several shades whiter than any of the others around it, and the massive double doors were made of dark, oiled wood, bound with brass fittings and polished to a high gloss. They looked like they belonged on some ancient Hutt's fortress, but they swung open without so much as a creak at Ezra's touch.

    Inside was nothing like he expected. In Ezra’s experience, the cantinas where this sort of rendezvous took place were dimly lit dives where the drunken patrons were busy ignoring one another. But if this café was a fortress on the outside, it was a garden on the inside. Climbing vines twined up columns and through decorative lattice-work arches, while trees and potted plants created secluded nooks where beings were deep in conversation. At the far end of the room, the bar was tiled with interlocking stars in rich blues and golds, topped with a wooden counter so polished it reflected the light from the hanging lanterns above it.

    The clientele, though, was every bit as sketchy as he might have imagined. Beings of all kinds sat clustered in the shadowy alcoves, some bleary eyed drunks hunched over their drinks, others steely edged grifters ready for business. A pair of Trandoshan bounty hunters growled over an indistinct holo while a heavily cloaked figure at the next table eavesdropped through a screen of trees. Across the aisle, a Dug was carrying on an animated conversation with a pudgy blue Ortolan who seemed more interested in the plate of pastries in front of him. The disreputable looking Toydarian guarding the door poked Ezra in the shoulder. “You just gonna stand there and stare, kid? Table or bar?”

    The Toydarian’s breath suggested he worked at the cantina to pay off his bar tab. Ezra leaned away before he got drunk off the fumes. “Um, bar.”

    He gave Ezra a beady-eyed once over, snout twitching irritably. “Yeah, bar’s good enough for you. Go on.” He waved a gnarled hand towards the back of the cantina.

    Ezra took a seat in the center of the bar, near a man who looked like he’d been sleeping in a vrelt burrow for the last week, and scanned the area for anyone who might be the Ace of Sabers. A well-dressed Twi’lek drinking caf nearly as dark as Zeb’s noticed his attention. She gave a haughty sniff and abruptly moved to the other end of the room.

    That just left the two women serving at the bar. The one at the far end was a middle-aged blonde, her hair cut even shorter than Sabine's. Ezra kind of hoped she wasn't the one he was supposed to meet, because she was deep in a heated discussion with a scarred Human and a Shistavanen, and they both looked cowed.

    The other woman was working at some insanely complicated caf dispenser that steamed and hissed noisily. Her back was towards the cantina, so Ezra could only see red hair hanging past her shoulders in a loose braid...and that her blue-gray tunic showed off a really nice figure. The noise of the caf machine ground to a stop, and she slammed it hard with the heel of her hand. It jolted back to life and Ezra jolted out of his contemplation. Mission. Right. Please let her be the contact. He banged a fist against the bar. "Hey, what's a guy gotta do to get a drink around here?" It sounded exactly as lame here as it had in the the Ghost's galley.

    The redhead turned around, and Ezra swallowed hard. She was young, probably a bit younger than him, and pretty--stang! beautiful! Wisps of red-gold hair framed her face and a smattering of freckles was sprinkled across her nose. She had the most amazing green eyes he’d ever seen. He thought he could stare into them forever-- he was staring into them; Ezra made himself blink and take a breath. The girl’s mouth quirked up into a half smile. "Aren't you a little young to be drinking this early in the morning?"

    For once, Ezra found himself without a quip ready; instead, he blurted the first thing that came to mind. "Aren't you a little young to be serving drinks this early in the morning?"

    Her eyes narrowed. "Cute," she said, turning away.

    He winced, wishing he could sink slowly under the the bar and vanish. It was a good thing this was a solo mission, because he could just imagine what Zeb, or worse, Sabine, would say. Way to go, hot shot. Scare away the girl and screw up your mission in one go. This must be a new record for you. "No wait... Ace of Sabers?"

    "Spectre Six?” She looked back over her shoulder. “So you are the one I've been waiting for."

    This, at least, was an opening. "You know it, Ace," He leaned forward against the bar and grinned, pushing his hair out of eyes. “But you can just call me Ezra."

    She rolled her eyes, and didn’t take the hand he offered, but one corner of her mouth tugged back into the half smile, as if against its will. "What can I get you?"

    "Huh?"

    "You’re in a bar,” she said, gesturing around her. “And you just demanded a drink. It would look pretty strange if you left without having one." She propped her elbows against the bar and leaned forward, close enough that Ezra caught the scent of caf and cinnamon from her hair. Close enough he could have reached out and touched her hand. Almost close enough to kiss her...no, better not think of that, at least until after he’d finished his mission. "So,” the girl said. “What's your pleasure?"

    This time Ezra prudently discarded the first answer that came to mind. "I'll have, uh…” Down the bar, the scruffy-looking man sighed rapturously over the vividly pink liquid in his glass, and shuddering in bliss, wiped a milky mustache of liquid off of his upper lip. “....what he's having."

    "A Zelosian zherry bomb?"

    "Sure, yeah. I drink 'em all the time.” Truthfully, he’d never even heard of it. Commander Sato was strict about drinking on base and Hera was even stricter on the Ghost. The one time he’d managed to sneak away to Red Squadron’s moonshine party, he’d gotten fragged on the stuff and Sabine had to drag him back to the ship. Hera woke him up at some Force-forsaken hour, ignoring his mumbled protests. “You’re right, I’m not your mom and you can do whatever you want. But I’m telling you as your captain, show up drunk on my ship again, and I’m throwing you off it.” Then she set him to work tuning up the Ghost’s engine with Zeb and Chopper...it turned out being drunk and Force-sensitive led to one hell of a hangover. Whatever a zherry bomb was, it had to be better than Branon’s vile home brew.

    "Okay..." Was it his imagination, or did her green eyes suddenly have a mischievous spark? The girl reached under the bar and pulled out a fat tumbler and a jar of tub-nut sized fruit floating in brilliantly red liquid. She set them down in front of Ezra, then grabbed a jug of a creamy, bluish gray liquid with tiny red flecks floating in it and a bottle with a long silver spout from near the caf dispenser. She swirled the jar with a flourish, drained some of the red juice into the tumbler, then slowly poured in the creamy liquid. It sank to the bottom, creating strata in various shades of pink and mauve. She splashed in three shots from the silver-spigoted bottle, added one of the fruits for garnish, and slid it over to Ezra. “There you go. Enjoy."

    "Cheers,..um, I don’t think I caught your name..."

    She crossed her arms against the bar and cocked an eyebrow at him. “I don’t think I threw it."

    "Well, okay then, cheers, Ace." He raised his glass to her and tipped it up, draining half the glass in one gulp....and gagged on nauseatingly sweet slime with undertones of rancid plastic. The horrible stuff coated his throat even after he'd forced himself to swallow it. "Aw, man....that's disgusting!" Ezra fought the urge to scrub the foul taste off his tongue with the cocktail napkin. "What is that stuff?"

    "Zherry juice, artificial milk product and extra syrup. Zelosians metabolize sugar like humans do alcohol. A couple of these will get a Zelosian drunk off his butt…and you didn’t know any of that.” She burst into a cascade of laughter. “‘Oh, stars! I thought you were trying to be like those nerf-brains from up at the garrison! They like to dare each other to see how many they can drink.” She smiled at Ezra. Her half-smile had been cute; the full one was devastating. “If it makes you feel any better, you handled that surprisingly well; I didn't even have to get the mop."

    "Uh, thanks." He pushed the glass away. “But I think one is definitely my limit.”

    "Let me get you something else," she said, taking the sickly pink glop, flitted back near the caf dispenser and returned with a mug. "Mint tea-- settles the stomach-- but I think this is what you're really here for." She slid an envelope to him under the mug.

    A group of six Humans in various stages of drunkenness staggered in and crashed at a table near the bar, calling raucously for service. “I'll be right back,” she sighed.

    Ezra whisked the envelope under the bar. He slid the contents halfway to make sure everything was there. On top were four identicards, complete with holos and thumbprints for Ranga and her family. He whistled in appreciation as he inspected the cards; they looked and felt just like the real ones. Behind the cards was a dossier detailing the new identities that had been created, everything from bank accounts to former residences and education. This cell apparently had top-notch slicers and forgers in their ranks. He slipped the envelope into his satchel; part one of the mission accomplished.

    The mint tea was hot and pleasantly sweet, nothing like the zherry bomb’s tooth-aching sugariness. Tea wasn’t his beverage of choice--he preferred caf--but sipping it took away the flavor of the artificial milk product and gave him a reason stay at the bar and watch the redhead. She wrangled with the hissing caf machine like a pilot coaxing an old junker into lightspeed, topping off five mugs in short order. On the sixth, though, the cranky dispenser stopped steaming and started up a metallic clanking to rival the racket Chopper made when he tuned up the Ghost. The girl slammed it with the heel of her hand again, but this time, nothing happened. She scowled and hit it again, harder, and then again when that didn't work. The dispenser suddenly chugged to life, shuddering into the row of caf mugs sitting next to it.

    The mugs started to go over, and without really thinking Ezra nudged them back before they splashed scalding caf onto her...only to meet another tendril of the Force was pulling them back, too. And it was coming from the girl. She whirled around; her green eyes widened and met Ezra's. The intensity of her gaze might have made him uncomfortable if it wasn’t for the expression of pure amazement that accompanied it, as if she’d discovered that what she thought was a chunk of alumobronze turned out to be pure aurodium. She reached one hand out towards him, but stopped halfway, shaking her head. "You did that?"

    "You...felt it?" Ezra wanted to quip something about her finding him irresistible, but he was pretty sure he was staring at her exactly the same way.

    She bit her lip, looking troubled for a moment. "You should come back tonight, after you get your librarian safely away. You should come back. I think... the rest of my...my team needs to meet you."

    “Yeah,” he answered. “I think my team should meet you, too.” Finding a Force-user on this backrocket planet was the last thing he’d expected, and certainly never one like this. The Force-sensitive younglings they’d encountered on Takobo had been bright sparks in the Force, but this girl was a blaze of white light. He really needed to talk to Kanan, because the ease with which she used the Force meant she was either an exceptionally talented beginner or she’d been trained.

    Which raised the question: who had trained her?

    Ezra’s thoughts were interrupted when the blonde bartender shouted across the room, “Mara! Quit flirting with the customers and get back to work. Last night's sabacc game at the Kroyie finally endred; we're going to need at least a dozen cafs right now."

    The girl--Mara--flushed. She turned back to the caf machine, slammed the mugs she’d filled onto a tray, and stalked around the bar. "Tonight,” she insisted as she passed by Ezra with the tray.

    "Tonight," Ezra agreed. A Rebel agent who was smart, beautiful and Force-sensitive… and she wanted to see him again? He’d be back. If he had to use Jedi mind tricks, drag Kanan there by the queue, even sneak off the Ghost he'd find a way to see her again.

    Author's Notes:
    Credit for the Juicy Blabber and the Zelosian zherry bomb goes to @Ewok Poet

    If this particular backrocket planet and its cantina seem familiar:
    Show Spoiler
    that's because it's Merkesh and the Café Alderaan, as seen in my Raissa Baiard/Doran Blayne stories.

    And yes, that Mara, except not quite, as this is an AU.
    Last edited by Raissa Baiard, Nov 27, 2016
  10. Ewok Poet Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2014
    star 5
    MARZRA FOREVER.[face_love][face_love] I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP.

    And I am not kidding at all. They fit. At least in this AU that has been far kinder to Mara than the Legends one prior to ROTJ was. We can see what she could have grown up into, her snark is all there, but she is not afraid to be herself...and why should she be? She has a supportive mother with discipline in Raissa Baiard and an edgy, fun dad in Domnic Jade/Doran Blayne; and both of her parents understand her Force-sensitivity.

    The world as it is needs more innocent romance, more puppy love type of a thing. And that is precisely what makes this story so enjoyable. They are kids, they behave like kids, there is the air of innocence to all this. :)

    The chapter begins with Ezra's experience at the bazaar on Merkesh, which even further highlights how he's grown up. He's street-smart, much like he's always been - he knows where the best food is. At the same time, this place probably has something in common with Lothal, where he'd spent his childhood.

    And then, all these familiar faces - Haaz, Sem...if there's anything that I know, it's how beautiful it is to come back somewhere, whether it happens in fiction or for real - and see that everybody is still there. Raissa in her latter years seems classy, but WTF, Ezra doesn't like her haircut. :p OF COURSE THAT HAIRCUTS ARE IMPORTANT. Write "Raissa Baiard Goes to a Hairdresser" absurd fic, or have her procrastinate her hair with my spa!Tarkin. #sense

    The convo Ezra and Mara have at first is the kind that Luke and Leia don't have in the OT, because, well, Luke can't deliver a clever comeback. That was funny!

    ...never heard anything that was more true than this. :D

    WOO-HOO, ARTIFICIAL MILK PRODUCT! [face_dancing]

    And that drink sounds like something that would get me really, really sick. A total bomb, indeed.

    The cute awkwardness of the mint tea reference might be hard to figure out, but of course that his stomach is upset. Ezra has butterflies. And yeah, Mara TOTALLY wants him to...err...ummm...meet the rest of the team. Now, I don't doubt that she actually does, but these things always have another meaning.
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  11. Findswoman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2014
    star 5
    Ah ha, I recognize the place now—all the little cues and indicators are there, from the garden-like interior and the colorful tilework to the Toydarian bouncer. I said this in the beta, but I do just love the way you described the place—it's got a much more colorful and pleasant atmosphere than the garden-variety divey cantinas that are such a staple (and kind of an overused one) of the SW universe, even if some of its actual clientele still belong to the "scum and villainy" class.

    These two young 'uns are indeed awfully cute. :) Poor, susceptible Ezra—it takes only a matter of moments for him to go from the cool, collected, street-smart undercover agent to a certifiable goo puddle, all courtesy of one pair of green eyes, a few wisps of red hair, and a pretty figure in a tunic. That this gorgeous vision turns out to be his contact is an added bonus—or an added challenge? Yes, Ezra, mission! :p Of course, Mara is totally picking up on his awkwardness, or unease, or whatever we want to call it, as we see from the mischievous spark in her eye as she fixes him that fateful the Zelosian zherry bomb (which sounds, at least to me, like it would be really quite tasty in a somewhat less sugared-up version—and hey, everything is better with Artificial Milk Product! :D ).

    And if this were a typical, brand-X Earth meet-cute between two typical, brand-X teens, things could be left at that—but this is of course the GFFA, and these aren't just any youngsters. I said this in the beta, too, but I just love the way that the pivotal moment of Mara and Ezra's meeting here involves the Force and their mutual sensitivity to it. Besides introducing a very important commonality between the two characters, it also adds an element of unease and darkness into the scene during this era when Force-sensitives of any kind are basically illegal. That's got to be at least part of why Mara looks as troubled as she does afterward, and I wonder if maybe the "life-threatening situation" will tie into this somehow. [face_thinking] Until then, however, I'm eagerly awaiting this meeting between Ezra and "the rest of the team." (And I'm especially stoked now that I'm pretty sure I know who those team members are, because this is going to be one heck of a "meet the folks" experience. ;) )

    Really well done, fun stuff—keep it coming! =D=
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  12. Raissa Baiard Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 1999
    star 4
    :D Thank you. I love that you used the name smush; it goes with the rom-com conventions, I thinks.

    I had a whole canon-compliant tragic backstory conceived for Mara and her family, but then when they instituted New Canon, I decided, kriff it, Mara gets to stay with her parents in my universe, since it's all Legends, anyway. Yes, she keeps her snark (having received a double dose of it from said parents) and her confidence, but she's no jaded Imperial agent here. She's far more of an ordinary teen, though no one who grows up in a family of Jedi could ever be considered truly ordinary.

    Since I am kind of new to writing romance proper (as opposed to Raissa and Doran's not-quite-flirting snark-fests), it's kind of fun to write about youthful love instead of the Galaxy Shaking Romance. Maybe it will turn into that, who knows? ;) But right now, they're still in OMG CRUSH territory.

    Well, Haaz and Sem are indeed still at the Café Alderaan, but that blonde lady who's making innocent Shistavenens quiver, is Sascha, Doran's Corellian bartender, she of the pixie haircut and the tongue that would blister paint off a Star Destroyer. Raissa is still working her day job as Prefect; she certainly appreciates the importance of good hair...hopefully she's managed to convince Doran by now, and his hair is no longer a crime against Imperial fashion. :p

    Yeah, "Huh?" isn't an opening line that makes an impression.

    :D

    As @Findswoman said, everything is better with artificial milk product.

    I was only thinking that he'd be a little nauseous after drinking the zherry bomb, but I like your interpretation better.

    They all do seem to be dives, don't they? The Café Alderaan's appearance owes a lot to Rick's Café Americain in Casablanca, the kind of classy establishment you only see in 1940's cinema. Rick's place (and Doran's) still have an interesting and varied clientele for all their attractive decor. More recently, my mental model of the Café has been influenced by the Restaurant Marrakesh, a fabulous Moroccan restaurant at Disney World's EPCOT. I also had the chance to try those meat-filled pastries Ezra has in the bazaar, called brewats. They are filled with minced beef and covered in powdered sugar and cinnamon, an odd combination that is surprisingly tasty.

    [face_laugh] He may be the New, More Mature Ezra, but he's still a teen, and, hey, stronger men have been turned to goo by a pretty face. Mara doesn't seem to be totally immune to the charm of the roguish Spectre Six, with all those smiles. She may roll her eyes at his cheesy lines, but she provides him plenty of opportunities for them.

    She is. This version of Mara has grown up in the Café Alderaan, and she's probably quite used to being hit on by males of various species and levels of sobriety, at least those who don't realize that she's the owner's daughter, and in my headcanon, this includes another cocky Corellian on a stopover to the Corporate Sector .

    Yep, without that moment, they'd just be two kids who flirt for a little while before going on with their lives. And as I mentioned earlier, Mara isn't the Galaxy traveling Emperor's Hand here. In fact, she's never met another Force-user who isn't related to her... Can you blame her for being simultaneously intrigued and a little nervous?
    It will be interesting, that's for sure :D
    Last edited by Raissa Baiard, Dec 9, 2016
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  13. Raissa Baiard Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 1999
    star 4
    Thanks again to @Findswoman and @Ewok Poet, beta readers extraordinaire. @};-

    Part Three

    Ezra left his credits on the bar-- plus a generous tip, which he felt could only help his chances with the redheaded waitress. He paused at the cantina’s door to take a last look at her. Mara was back at the caf machine, pouring another round. She paused, hand on the machine’s lever, as if she’d heard someone calling across the room. She glanced over her shoulder and Ezra thought she colored slightly when she noticed him watching her. He tossed her a grin and saluted her. He caught a flash of that devastating smile again before she turned back to the caf machine.

    The Toydarian doorman buzzed over and poked him again. “You’re blocking the door, kid. Move it before I have to call the boss. He don’t like punks like you ogling the waitresses.”

    Ogling was a bit strong, Ezra thought--appreciating, maybe, and he could have stood there appreciating her longer, but he didn’t have a desire to get on the wrong side of the pugnacious Toydarian or meet his boss. He left, reminding himself that he’d be coming back. Definitely coming back.

    It wouldn’t be hard to convince Kanan. Didn’t they owe it to themselves to learn more about Mara? Such a strong Force-user could be a useful ally for them-- for the Rebellion! That she’d made it this far without being discovered by one of the Inquisitors just showed how truly special she was. If she had been trained, then shouldn’t they find out who that mysterious Force-user was, too? It might even be another fugitive Jedi. And if Mara had simply discovered her talent on her own…

    She’d need a master. Ezra doubted Kanan would ever agree to let him teach Mara, but could he convince Kanan to take her on as a student? And that thought lead to all sorts of intriguing possibilities. She could bunk with Sabine aboard the Ghost and….

    Then again, Kanan would say he was getting ahead of himself. That he really didn’t know anything about Mara and or why she was so insistent that he come back to meet her team. Between him and Hera, they’d probably insist on bringing the whole crew along and staging the whole meeting like mission into hostile territory--like the members of the Idiot’s Array were really going to ambush Ezra. But Kanan would have to point out that, of all the Force-users they’d encountered, only one hadn’t tried to kill them….

    No. He shook his head. Mara wasn’t a Dark Sider. She couldn’t be. He hadn’t felt the bone-chilling coldness he’d sensed in Vader or even the spiky malice of the Inquisitors. He would have sensed it when they’d brushed in the Force. He would have known. Oh, like you knew with Maul? a nasty little voice hissed. You didn’t realize what he was until it was too late and look what happened to Kanan. To Ahsoka. You really wanna trust your gut on this? No. Ezra fought back the old, familiar guilt. He’d battled the darkness in himself and won...mostly. It seemed he was never totally free of regret, but he had to believe he would have sensed something. He was older now, wiser. Farther along in his training.

    Ezra stopped, a chill prickle running up his spine, and he realized that the darkness he felt wasn’t just his own shame. A gash of pain and violence ripped through the Force, a feeling of death nearby. Instinctively, Ezra reached for his blaster; he didn’t recognize his surroundings. Lost in thoughts of Mara, he’d gone farther from the spaceport than he thought, away from the tidy stalls of the marketplace, into an area where the stuccoed walls of the buildings were worn and streaked with grime. Broken speeders clogged the narrow, twisting streets and piles of unrecognizable junk spilled out of dark alleys. Only a few furtive looking beings darted through the cluttered maze. The smart thing to do, the safe thing to do, was obviously to head back the way he came as quickly as possible, but the Force had other ideas, pulling him towards the disturbance...and when had he ever done the safe thing?

    Resting one hand on his DL-44, Ezra cautiously made his way towards the feeling, which seemed to be centered on a particularly rundown building. A few bits of broken lattice clung to the corners of its verandah like the remnants of a giant spider web. The sign over it, barely visible through some hideous, profane graffiti that would have made Sabine roll her eyes, identified it as the Oasis Inn, but the barred windows and scarred blast-proof door suggested maybe it wasn’t much of a refuge. The Imperial transport parked in front of it only reinforced that suspicion. Two gray-clad officers, one tall with a stylus-thin mustache, the other stocky with a ruddy face, stood nearby.

    All sorts of alarm bells were going off in Ezra’s brain; he was beginning to think it was no coincidence that his distracted wandering had brought him here. He slipped into a nearby alley and crept as close as he could get to the officers, ducking behind a stack of broken packing crates for cover.

    “I can’t believe this,” the mustached officer said, shaking his head. “I haven’t seen anything like this in all my years here. Even on Coruscant, this would have been remarkably...untidy.”

    “Not since Blayne took over, anyway,” his fellow agreed. “I mean, we’ve still got the Hutt around, but his men usually stop with a simple blaster bolt.”

    “The Prefect’s not going to be happy,” the first sighed.

    “Is she ever? Careful with that!” The stout officer sprang forward as the inn’s door slid halfway open, started to close, opened again and then snapped shut on a stretcher bearing the unmistakable form of a sheet-draped body. He and the officer who’d been pushing the stretcher managed to wrangle it free from the door. In the process, the sheet got tangled around one of the stretcher’s wheels and pulled free, revealing the woman underneath.

    It was Linel Blye.

    Ezra sucked in a deep breath, feeling like he’d just been punched. Blye wasn’t the first colleague he’d lost since he’d joined the Rebels; he knew she wouldn’t be the last, but each one left another wound, another reason to fight the Empire. And this one… As the first officer had noted, whoever had done this to Blye hadn’t been neat about his work. Jedi didn’t deal in revenge; so Ezra simply wished justice on Blye’s killer-- very slowly.

    He edged back into the shadows of the alley and flicked his comlink on. “Spectre Six to Ghost. We’ve got problems, guys; Blye’s been murdered.”

    “You’ve got bigger problems than that, boy.” Ezra felt the presences--one Human, one not-- a split second too late. The cold metal of a blaster muzzle pressed into the base of his skull, while strong, leathery hands wrenched his right arm back. He twisted in their grasp, struggling to reach his blaster, and caught a glimpse of the red-skinned Devaronian holding him. The blaster left his neck just long enough for this second assailant to cuff him against the head with the blaster’s butt. Ezra staggered, and the Devaronian pinioned his left arm, too, and forced him down to his knees. A pair of binder cuffs snapped tightly around Ezra’s wrists; his comlink fell out of his slack grip and he heard Zeb call his name before the sickening crunch of a boot stomping on it.

    A grizzled Human with an eye patch stepped around him. The heavy leathers he wore were stained with something dark and sticky. He holstered his vicious-looking Deathhammer-17 and sneered down at Ezra like a nexu with a vrelt under its claws. Ezra recognized the type, if not the individual--a fringe-grade Outer Rim bounty hunter. “Look, this is a mistake…” he began

    His blaster put away, the Human simply backhanded Ezra this time. “Shut up. It’s no mistake. Your friend lasted longer than I thought she would, but she gave you up before she died.” He pulled a serrated vibroshiv from his belt and grinned as he tested the point against a finger. “Wonder how long you can hold out before you tell me where Ranga’s hiding? Let’s find out.”

    A blaster shot sizzled through the alley, and the Devaronian who was still standing behind Ezra collapsed with a grunt. The man with the shiv whirled in the direction of the shot, but before he could even get his blaster free of its holster, a second shot dropped him, too.

    Ezra scrambled away from the fallen bounty hunters, backing up against the alley’s wall. Theoretically, someone shooting your captors was good news, but he’d learned the hard way that no situation was so bad that it couldn’t get worse. He reached out in the Force and twisted open the locks on his binder cuffs. They fell away, and he pulled his own blaster, while scanning the area for the mysterious shooter.

    A lithe form sprang down from the flat roof of a building, onto the pile of crates and down to the ground-- a red-haired girl in a blue-gray tunic. Mara smiled at him, one hand on her hip and a blaster pistol in the other. “Hi, Ezra. Did you miss me?”
  14. Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Feb 25, 2010
    star 5
    MARA! Such a bad-pants no matter what the universe!

    I'm just catching up on Rebels season 3 over the past few evenings (AAAANNND PROCRASTINATING) and I really enjoy how you have that "Rebels" feel to this (like the show, it's not too serious, but it also has that hint of darkness that allows us older people to watch it). Opening with chopper was great and I enjoy how Ezra feels this sense of duty towards bringing Mara on as a fellow padawan. Great showcase of Ezra's character developement and I really look forward to seeing where this goes. Please tag me when you update.

    Also, this made me laugh out loud because it's just so very Hera:

  15. Kahara Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 4
    This is a crossover that I never knew I needed, Rebels and the Raissa-verse! :D It's so lovely to see both the denizens of Merkesh and the crew of the Ghost are doing so well.

    Liked that they ended up rescuing someone from a completely mundane sort of job, who just was in the "wrong" place at the "wrong" time and tried to do the right thing about it. And Ezra getting stuck with babysitting duty was priceless. Especially since it turns out that he's succeeded beyond anyone's expectations and is now the kids' New Favorite Person Ever. Poor Ezra. [face_rofl] As cute and hilarious as it all is, I can understand his eagerness to escape when he gets the new mission!

    Sounds so much like Hera! :D

    [face_love] This is so sweet, and one of the main reasons why I love the Rebels show. As much as they aren't perfect and give each other grief, these people are ultimately one big dysfunctional (but loving) Space Family.

    Fantastic reference back to In the Cards (which I have really enjoyed the last few chapters of, in case I don't make it to commenting soon), and I hope that we get to meet future Raissa and Doran at some point! :D Of course Zeb is unimpressed, figures. :p

    He's got a point. [face_laugh] But it makes for such a great awkward intro. May as well start the way he intends to continue, right?

    Tourist traps, the universal constant. Only sometimes including actual traps and/or sarlacc pits. It's fun to see how Merkesh has developed over the years. Things seem to be thriving, at least comparatively, and of course Ezra would notice that this is a little unusual. (The shady underworld henchman reading the Juicy Blabber was the icing on the cake. ;)) His comparison of the Café Alderaan to the usual establishment one finds in its place is perceptive, and telling if one knows about the rest of the things that he doesn't know yet. Definitely not a squeaky clean, sterile, or completely respectable business, but not grim and grimy either.



    The meet-awkward between Ezra and Mara is great; they really sound like older teenagers here. One of my favorite scenes so far. And of course they're both full of attitude! I'd expect nothing else from either of them. :p Ezra's ordering the zherry-bomb and Mara's reaction are priceless. And it's nice that the unfortunate choice of drink seems to start breaking the awkward ice between them too, though it's Ezra's later display of Force abilities that really makes a lasting impression. I like how they both seem to be plotting to acquire a new recruit for their team (well, Ezra is and I wouldn't be surprised from what Mara says about him going to meet her folks). It makes sense, not only because of the attraction there but also because they have both got to be pretty lonely in their own ways. As far as we know, Mara probably doesn't know any other Force-sensitives near her age, and definitely ditto for Ezra. The idea of having someone else who's not only in on their secret but in the same boat must be pretty overwhelming. :)

    Just noticed when reading today that you ended up with quite a pair of elements to work into the story! :eek: As awful as Blye's death is, I'm a little relieved that it wasn't anyone we knew better. Though Ezra obviously knew her well and is taken off guard by the suddenness of it. :(

    At least we get Mara to the rescue, though. That's pretty adorable, though I'll bet her parents will have a coronary. ;) (If they're not two steps behind already, that is!)
  16. Ewok Poet Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2014
    star 5
    When Kahara passes by and is this inspired, it's hard to top her, but yeah. I'll try.

    Ezra, you're a weird kid! Actually, there's a great term for this in Italian language - imbranato. While tips are a good idea for other kinds of waiters, giving money to a girl you are crushing on is not good. Be lucky that she didn't notice it.

    Haaz the Toydarian is as subtle as ever. Is that a c**kblock I see? Also, it's PRONKER, not punk. ;) Tut-tut!

    But then again, we're talking about somebody who's trying to do a twisted equivalent of "I'll make my boss hire this chick". :D So, yeah, he's got it all figured out. And he already knows what Kanan and Hera could say...and he's thinking the worst. Cold feet, Lothal boy? :D

    Ouch, here's the second prompt. :( Blye's death, that is.

    And then Mara saves the day. This is fun, fun, fun. And it will make Ezra poodoo his pants, but yeah, she's kicking the bum. :D
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  17. Findswoman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2014
    star 5
    When both @Kahara and @Ewok Poet come by with such wonderful comment, it's near-impossible to top them—so I won't even try. I'll just write my usual scattered observations. :p

    First of all, I have to echo what EP says about the tip. That just... doesn't seem like quite the right way to express "appreciation" for someone who's not, say, a night club dancer! And even if she were that, there would be better ways by far. :p

    The romcom has definitely taken a darker turn now. And where Force-sensitives are concerned, in these days of the Inquisitors, that is to be almost to be expected. But what's interesting here is that that dimension of the story doesn't start with the officers or with the corpse of Linel Blye or any other external event—it starts inside Ezra's own mind. He entertains the momentary possibility that things will go all wrong, that Mara might really want to kill him, that Kanan will be pessimistic... and that leads to the resurfacing of his guilt about Maul (I take it that's a story I would know if I knew more about Rebels). You asked in the beta if that paragraph was too dark or out of character, but I found it very effective, and it follows perfectly form his prior ruminations. (To think it all starts with that little stray thought about Mara joining up with the Ghost crew and bunking with Sabine—I bet Sabine would lurrrrve that! :eek: )

    Then, when Ezra "realizes that the darkness he felt wasn’t just his own shame," you manage to make his interior state dovetail in a really cool way with the dark, ominous atmosphere around him. I love it when interior and exterior states mesh like that. And not only do they mesh, but they also lead right to both of the prompts at once—the discovery of Blye's death (and again, I am guessing I would know that name if I knew Rebels better) simultaneously with the "life-threatening situation." Yep, Ezra's got problems for sure! :eek: The implication that the officers got Blye to squeal about the Ghost crew is doubly disturbing, and I could say I hope that won't mean more danger for Ezra and his mates down the line, but I am guessing that won’t be the case. [face_nail_biting]

    But in the end, bacon = saved! Everybody calm the kriff down, Mara's got this! :p It wasn't by chance that Ezra was drawn to that dark back alley, and it certainly wasn't by chance that Mara was either. Star-crossed indeed! [face_love] I wonder if he’ll have the chance to return the favor (of bacon-saving, that is). :)
    Last edited by Findswoman, Dec 17, 2016
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  18. Raissa Baiard Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 1999
    star 4
    Wow! Lots of reviews to catch up on!

    She couldn't be anything else! She's not an assassin and secret enforcer in this universe, but she's still got mad skillz thanks to her parents and the other members of her team.

    Thank you. :) It is such a fun show, with great characters, and I'm looking forward to getting caught up on it soon... I have reason to believe Mr. B got me Season 2 on DVD and Season 3 is on my DVR.

    Hera's great on so many levels. For one thing it's always nice to have a female Twi'lek who's not just eye-candy, and for another, it's great to have a maternal figure in a substantial role as well. SW is sadly lacking in mothers. We've got Shmi, and a brief glimpse of Beru. Hopefully, Eps. 8 and 9 will give us more insight into that aspect of Leia. Hera's overall a strong female character, and she and Sabine ace the Bechdel test. (And honestly, can you imagine them discussing men? "So Kanan..." "Ack! I'm not listening...")

    I HAZ A 'VERSE! ;) This wild mash-up came about because while reading A New Dawn, I was struck by the similarities between Kanan and Doran. They've both had their crises of faith after Order 66, and spent time wandering the Galaxy drunk, before finding their way back with the help of a good woman who turns out to be more than a friend. The thought that Kanan and Doran would probably get along well led to the thought that, hmm, Ezra and Mara might just hit it off, too.

    They really are. :) With all their flaws, they would do anything for each other.

    They will show up, don't worry! Ezra still has to make good on his promise to "meet the team". The prospect of having these two Space Families meet is just too much fun to resist.

    Given that it's Ezra, yes.

    Yep, Mara definitely has her eye on adding another card to the Idiot's Array :D You've really hit on the head; they're both alone in in their own ways. Mara has her parents and Ezra has Space Dad Kanan who understand what it's like to be Force-sensitive, but it's not quite the same as having someone who's on your own level. And, of course, if that someone happens to be an attractive member of the opposite sex...bonus! ;)


    They were a challenging pair of elements to work into a rom-com, that's for sure! I couldn't bring myself to kill off anyone from either Space Family, though. It would definitely be one down side of being a Rebel: to routinely have people you know, work with and like shot down, blown up, and otherwise taken out by the Empire.

    It's a trope to have the damsel in distress fall in love with her rescuer; this time the damsel gets to kick some butt--hey, it's Mara, after all! Ezra should be suitably impressed...

    Okay, before you and @Findswoman go ascribing all kinds of ulterior motives to poor Ezra, I meant this in a totally innocent way. If you're trying to impress the waitress, it's probably not a good idea to be a cheapskate.

    Yup, totally blocked... :D Doran never stood for patrons harassing the waitresses, and of course the Haaz is overprotective of the Boss's daughter. She's literally grown up in the Café; I have these great mental images of Doran carrying her around the Café in a baby sling, and Sem teaching little Mara how to play his organ.

    Well, to be fair, pretty much every Force-sensitive he's encountered has tried to kill him at some point, so you can't blame him for being a little wary. In the first two seasons, he's run up against three Inquisitors, Darth Vader and Darth "I'm-Still-Not-Dead-Yet" Maul, who
    Show Spoiler
    nearly seduced Ezra to the Dark Side, tried to kill and succeeded in blinding Kanan, and later kidnapped and nearly executed the rest of the Ghost's crew


    Interesting observation; isn't that the way the worst of our fears start--not with what has happened but what might happen? His fears snowball, from "Kanan won't let me go back" to "everyone will be killed and it will all be my fault." (For the story behind Maul, see the spoiler above. Sabine...would echo @Ewok Poet's observation that Ezra is a strange kid, and would probably not think much of his plans to give her a new roomie;)

    The SW novels mention places being tainted by the dark side, and you can't get much darker than murder and torture.

    Blye is an OC who was created to fulfill two purposes: 1) get the Rebels to Merkesh and 2) fulfill the "death of a friend"...the sad, short life of a minor character in fan fiction. :p

    This made me laugh. I can almost hear Mara saying this! [face_rofl] I think her father will be proud of her' Raissa, on the other hand, is probably having that coronary @Kahara mentioned.

    Thanks again to everyone for the in-depth reviews! :D New chapter to follow!
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  19. Raissa Baiard Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 1999
    star 4
    As always, thank you to my beta, @Ewok Poet and @Findswoman @};-
    @Briannakin

    Part 4

    He wouldn’t have thought it was possible for Mara to look any better to him than she did, but after adding “crack shot” and “just saved my life” to her list of assets, Ezra was pretty sure he was in love. He holstered his blaster with a sigh of relief and admiration. “You really know how to make an entrance...Wait,” he said, a grin sneaking onto his face, “were you following me?’

    “Not my idea.” Mara crossed her arms over chest, blaster pistol still in one hand. She jerked her chin emphatically, but her cheeks were pink. “The Force was rather insistent that I go after you, and it looks like it had a good reason. Makes it worth the poodoo I’m going to catch for cutting out on Sascha when I get back home.”

    The Force had sent her after him? Mara, who he’d only just met, and not Kanan, his master, who ought to have been the one to sense that he was in danger? Now that was interesting. Almost as if the Force was taking an interest in the two of them. No, that was ridiculous; the power that bound the universe together surely had better things to do than play matchmaker...but just in case it didn’t, he really shouldn’t put its efforts to waste. He sidled towards to her. “You know, you don’t have to go back right away…”

    “Why?” she asked with a smirk, twirling her pistol before before she tucked it back into her belt satchel. “Are you going to need me to save you again?”

    “Hey, I don’t go looking for trouble; it just has a way of finding me.” Ezra spread his hands and gave her his best innocent look--not that it had ever worked on Kanan. Or Hera. Or Sabine...or pretty much anyone. But there was always a first.

    This wasn’t it. Mara laughed, her green eyes glittering. “I bet! Maybe you should think about getting a bodyguard.”

    “Are you volunteering, Ace?” He raised an eyebrow at her, edging another step closer. “Because I wouldn't mind if you…”

    *Ezra!* Kanan’s voice cut into his thoughts. Ezra groaned.. Of course. His master would choose to interrupt now that he had a moment alone with Mara. The impeccable timing of a Jedi. *What’s going on?* Kanan demanded. *Sabine and I were getting supplies when Zeb commed me. He said Linel was dead and you were in trouble and wouldn’t answer your com. Where are you? Are you all right?*

    *Yeah, I’m fine. Blye…* Ezra tried not to picture her on the stretcher, not to think about what the one-eyed man and his Devaronian partner had inflicted on her, but he knew that the sick, helpless anger he’d felt when he saw her seeped into his words. *The Empire sent bounty hunters after Meryan, but they found Blye first. They made her talk before they killed her. I don’t know how much she told them, but they recognized me.*

    *What?!?* Kanan’s exclamation spiked with alarm.

    *It’s okay,* Ezra assured him, sending a mental image of the unconscious bounty crumpled on the ground. *I’m alright now.

    Kanan’s tension eased fractionally, but he persisted, *Where are you? We’re coming to find you.*

    *No! I mean...no, that’s alright. You should go back to the Ghost and keep Meryan and the kids safe. I’m fine, and we’ve got everything under control.*

    *‘We’?*

    Ezra winced again; Kanan would have to pick up on that slip. *Uh, I had some help from M...the Ace of Sabers.*. That sounded professional, didn’t it? *She’s…* Gorgeous. Amazing. Incredible. None of those were likely to help his credibility, though, so he settled on *…pretty handy with a blaster.*

    *Fine.* He sensed Kanan’s frown and I’m-going-to-regret-this-later sigh. *Just get back to the Ghost as soon as possible.*

    “Ezra?”

    “Huh?” Mara was regarding him curiously, and Ezra realized he’d being spacing out while listening to Kansan. “Oh, I was just…” he began reflexively.

    “It’s okay.” She tapped a finger against one temple. “I recognize the look that says the comlink inside your brain just went off. But you looked like whoever it was told you that an Imperial convoy ran over your pittin.”

    “That bad, huh? Nah, it was just my master, telling me to get my shebs back to the ship before I get into any more trouble.”

    “Then I guess we’d better get you back. The spaceport, by the way, is on the other side of town. You took a few wrong turns, if that’s where you were going.”

    We? Ezra picked up on the telltale pronoun as quickly as his master had. A slip, like his, or deliberate? Either way, he’d take the chance to spend a little longer with her. He shook his head. “Not my idea. You can blame this one on the Force, too.” He definitely could have done without seeing Blye or being shackled by bounty hunters. No matter what Kanan and Hera might think, getting into that kind of trouble really wasn’t his idea of fun. Other kinds of trouble….maybe.

    “Mmm. It can be kind of perverse like that.”

    The look of sympathy Mara gave him caused Ezra a pang of longing for something he hadn’t even known he wanted--someone who really understood. Understood what it was like to have a conversation that no one else could hear, or to fully intend to go someplace, only to find yourself led to another. Sure, the crew of the Ghost was his family and they accepted his Force abilities as just another part of him. But, besides Kanan, they didn’t--couldn't-- really understand them. And even though he loved Kanan like a brother, somehow it just felt different to be understood someone who wasn’t his master…someone who could be a friend or maybe even more. “Lead the way.”

    Mara hesitated, frowning down at the bounty hunters, and nudged the grizzled Human with the toe of her boot. “Shouldn’t we, I don’t know, do something about these two?”

    A couple blaster bolts would take care of them, punish them for what they’d done to Blye and probably countless other beings. But the Jedi stood for justice, not revenge, and there was nothing just about executing an unconscious being, even if it would be a far kinder end than they’d given Blye. Still…Ezra picked up the man’s serrated shiv and took his Deathhammer and the Devaronian’s blaster and chucked them all into a heap of rubbish. He took the binders and cuffed the man’s left hand to his partner’s right ankle. “There. That ought to hold ‘em for a while. With any luck the Imps will find them before they wake up.”

    The Imperial speeder was gone from outside the Oasis Inn when Ezra and Mara slipped out of the alley, and activity was beginning to return to the area. A tight knot of old women stood on the inn’s front steps, a blowzy woman in a maid’s uniform regaling them with the awful, awful story of Blye’s demise while the others clucked like a flock of nunas in false sympathy. He followed Mara down a different path than the one he had taken to get there. The dusty street wound past rows of patched and ragged stalls whose equally patched and ragged proprietors eyed them as they passed. This part of town reminded Ezra of Lothal, and not in any good way. He stretched his senses out in the Force, searching for any hint of threat, and felt Mara’s presence there. He was struck again by how effortlessly she touched the Force and how bright her presence was, and beautiful. Open to the Force, too, Mara noticed him noticing.... Their eyes met.

    She looked away hastily. “So...you have a master?” Mara left the word “Jedi” carefully unsaid; even though it was nearly 20 years since the Empire had tried to exterminate them, it was still a dangerous thing to discuss. An even more dangerous thing to be. She glanced at him from the corner of her eyes. “I mean, a real one, not just…?”

    Ezra knew he shouldn’t say anything; Kanan would tell him not to. But he trusted Mara. She’d saved his life, and he couldn’t sense any trace of darkness in her. And, well, it was just good to find someone he that he could talk to…. “Yeah, I’ve been training with him almost five years now. How long... have you known…?”

    “Me?” She shrugged, dodging a group of younglings who were kicking a lumpy ball down the street. “All my life. I guess you’d say that my dad is my master, too.”

    Those revelations jolted Ezra to a stop. “Your dad’s a… Wait, I thought they weren’t supposed to…?”

    “Dad’s never been much for following rules, and Mom says I’m too much like him.”

    Mara glanced back at at him, and her smile froze. Ezra felt a prickle of warning run down his spine. They were being followed by the pair of Trandoshans he’d seen in the cantina that morning. Or he was; he didn’t think the caf this morning had been so bad that they’d be after Mara.

    “Shavit! I can’t go back to the spaceport now; I’d lead them right to the Ghost!”

    Mara pursed her lips. “We could lose them in the bazaar and double back to your ship once we’ve lost them.”

    Oh, she was good! It was exactly what he would have suggested, and if the prospect of being chased by bounty hunters scared her, it didn't show on her face or in her presence. “I like the way you think, Ace.”

    She grinned back. “Good. Then it’s a date.”
  20. Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Feb 25, 2010
    star 5
    Aww! Ezra is smitten!

    I like the slag 'shebs'. Is that canon or your own invention?

    I'm really interested to see who is Mara's parents. Great update!
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  21. Ewok Poet Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2014
    star 5

    This is where I say that... Raissa's whole opus is about the two people who eventually become Mara's parents and it's darn well worth reading! ;)

    ...

    *snort* Mara's "list of assets" *snort* I CAN TOTALLY SEE WHO THE POV CHARACTER HERE IS.

    And then, out of all possible things that could happen, the desperate dad figure calls through the Force and is like WTK U DOIN PLS STAHP. That was just...just priceless. :D

    Another highlight:

    That was just brilliant!

    Can't wait to see what happens next.
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  22. Findswoman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2014
    star 5
    "Hey, I don’t go looking for trouble; it just has a way of finding me"—the perfect motto for Ezra! :D

    I love how the motif of Mara's and Ezra's common Force sensitivity continues to unfold and burgeon in this chapter. Just as I guessed, it wasn't purely by chance that she was there to save his bacon—the Force led her there! But what's especially too is that Mara understands equally well the drawbacks of Force sensitivity. I don't mean just the fact that it's dangerous and outlawed at this period of history, but also the annoyances that go with Force talent—like the danger of having the "comlink inside your brain [go] off" at inopportune moments (and that really was priceless—Kanan is such the worried dad there! [face_laugh] ). Or the Force's "perverse" sense of humor in leading a person in the wrong direction and into danger and darkness. Or the common prickle of danger they experience when they sense the Trandoshans following them. Their Force sensitivity is working perfectly in common in both calm and in adversity—and that's just the right kind of commonality on which to build a relationship. [face_love]

    I smiled at "the power that bound the universe together surely had better things to do than play matchmaker." As I mentioned in the beta, there's an old Jewish rabbinic legend that says that that's precisely how God occupies his time now that he's finished creating the universe. I'll tell you the whole story sometime, but the point is that making matches is hard and something that should be left to the powers that bind the universe together rather than to mortals. :p

    Here, too, there continue to be shadows mixed in with the lighthearted teenage romance. The way those gossipy women "cluck like nunas" while talking of Blye's death is bandied about is kind of a dark, sinister version of that "pick a little talk a little pick a little talk a little CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP talk a lot pick a little more" song from The Music Man. And the danger that's pursuing Mara and Ezra is a very real one indeed; Ezra had a very close call in the previous chapter and could easily get into a similar situation if they don't manage to stave off this next wave of thugs. Fortunately another commonality he and Mara have—and this time it's one that's not directly related to the Force—is that they are both good at thinking on their feet. I think with that in common, it is indeed a date! :cool:

    And to answer @Briannakin 's question: "shebs" is an established word, and it's Mando'a for "behind," "rear," "arse."
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  23. Raissa Baiard Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 1999
    star 4
    Yep, he's twitter-pated. [face_love] But with the Force playing matchmaker, he never really stood a chance.
    As @Findswoman noted, it's Mando'a for "posterior". I figured Ezra would have picked up a couple of words from Sabine, particularly the off-color ones. (At least, those were the ones we were interested in in high school Spanish and French)
    Mara's mother will show up in the post after this one. If you can't wait:
    Show Spoiler
    they're my OC's, fugitive Jedi Doran Blayne and Force-sensitive Imperial Prefect Raissa Baiard. My first story, "Everyone Comes to Doran's Place" was meant as a "how they met" story for Mara's parents.

    WHAT-- she's Force-sensitive and makes a great cup of tea. What did you think Ezra meant? :p
    Poor Kanan...being Ezra's Space Dad can't be easy. But then again, having your Space Dad's voice pop directly into your head at inopportune moments...awkward! It's a good thing he's found a girl who understands. Possibly Mara has already had her own WTK U DOIN SKIPPING WORK TO CHASE BOYZ conversation. Hopefully with her dad;( "The Force told you to? Okay, then...") and not her mom ("I DON'T CARE WHAT THE FORCE SAYS. GET YOUR SHEBS BACK HOME NOW!")

    It really is; in fact, I got the quote from Ezra's profile in Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About Star Wars i don't think trouble has to look very hard to find him, though.:)

    Kurt Vonnegut is not one of my favorite authors, but I've always appreciated his observations in Cat's Cradle about the way any two or more people meeting for the first time immediately try to find something in common. Sometimes that connection is tenuous at best ("You're from Illinois? My second cousin lives there!') and sometimes it's much stronger. Mara and Ezra have found someone with a level of commonality they haven't found outside of family. And, yes, that's the best place to start building any kind of relationship. :)

    Mara seems to have picked up her father's views on the Force and its perverse sense of humor.

    I like that. The idea that God spends his time 'shipping His creations makes me smile.

    :D And someone got my reference! The "clucking like nunas" was indeed a riff on the "pick a little, talk a little" sequence from The Music Man, which is my favorite musical ...because Meryan Marian the Librarian. (Ezra and Mara's exchange: "I don't think I caught your name." "I don't think I threw it." is also borrowed from The Music Man

    It's a good thing they are both quick-thinkers. They're probably going to need that ability if they keep hanging around together!

    Once again, thanks and [:D] to @Ewok Poet and @Findswoman for beta reading, suggestions, and support.

    Part 5

    Wait….what? Reality seemed to tilt sideways momentarily; Ezra was sure that he hadn’t heard that last part right. She’d just asked him out? Not that he hadn’t been thinking--hoping--along the same lines, but girls often seemed perfectly capable of ignoring his subtle hints...and not-so-subtle hints and direct come-ons. Sometimes for five years at a time. Well, that was only Sabine, but the point stood. He usually had only slightly more success with women than a stormtrooper had hitting a target.

    Mara seemed to be waiting for him to say something. “A date?” Oh, smooth, Bridger, very smooth. No wonder you’ve always had such a way with women.

    Her smile flickered and flattened, and her cheeks flushed a bright red that clashed with her hair. “It’s what passes for one on Merkesh, anyway--hanging out in the marketplace with someone. As opposed to hanging out with friends, which is what they normally do for fun here.” Mara’s Force-presence didn’t seem as bright now, half-hidden behind durasteel shields.

    Stang; he’d put his foot in it again. What a surprise.. Ezra scrambled to come up with something that wouldn’t put him deeper in the sarlacc pit. “I’d go anywhere with you, Ace.” It was a terrible, cheesy line, but he meant it. Sincerity must have counted for something; the chill in her green eyes thawed and her shields eased up a bit. Crisis averted...at least for now. “So, our first date is pretending we’re regular kids while trying to ditch a couple bounty hunters? Sounds like fun to me.”

    “First date? You’re already counting on a second?” Mara crossed her arms and flipped her long braid over her shoulder with a quick toss of her head, but her tone was more bantering than indignant. “Are you that irresistible?”

    “You tell me,” Ezra said, raising an eyebrow.

    “I think you’re incorrigible.”

    “I try.”

    Mara gave an exasperated laugh. “Come on. I’ll give you the one-credit tour of Merkesh City’s fabulous bazaar.”

    Ezra followed as Mara guided their way back to the tidy, bustling part of the marketplace where he’d been that morning. The traffic had picked up since that morning, and the narrow streets were crowded with shoppers. A man leading a string of heavily laden eopies jostled Ezra aside. His shoulders bumped Mara’s; he gave her an apologetic glance and a nervous laugh, but after that, it seemed that she walked a little closer to him, even when there was enough room. When Ezra’s hand accidentally brushed hers, she didn’t pull away. Her fingers twined with his, and this time he couldn’t hide the crazy Loth-cat grin. The laughing smile Mara gave him in return lit the Force brighter than the sun.

    They browsed the shops hand-in-hand, looking at everything and nothing in particular--intricate figurines carved from japor ivory, colorful convorees fluttering in wicker cages, crystal pendants that scattered rainbows everywhere. They lingered as if they had all the time in the world and nothing better to to do. The idea of the Force as matchmaker was beginning to seem a lot less ridiculous to Ezra. Despite the fact that he was being pursued by bounty hunters, he felt an irrational stillness in the Force, a sense that this moment was absolutely right. Being here, now, with Mara was worth every single second of the lecture he was going to get from Kanan when he got back to the Ghost--and then some.

    Mara stopped to look at stand that sold brightly patterned textiles, where she purchased a crimson scarf embroidered with silver stars. “A peace offering for Sascha,” she explained, while Ezra bought a meiloorun at the produce stand next door. “She’s never going to let me live down ditching work to come after you.”

    Ezra sliced the yellow-orange fruit in two with his multi-tool and handed half to her. “So, you said ‘they’ hang out in the marketplace for fun… what about you? I mean, you must do something besides serve caf, right?”

    “Me?” She laughed. “Well, let’s see, I slice databases and make documents for mysterious strangers. And when I’m done with that, there’s weapons practice and dance lessons. You know, the usual things…”

    “Dance lessons?” The idea of Mara as a dancer conjured up some interesting images...

    “Mom’s idea,” she answered, frowning as if she’d guessed his train of thought. “They help with footwork. How about you? What do you for fun besides getting chased by bounty hunters?”

    “Find new homes for Imperial supplies, borrow TIE fighters, sneak into top secret bases, weapons practice...the usual things.” He finished the meiloorun, wiping the juice off his face with the back of his hand. “So you don’t...hang out here at all?

    Mara arched an eyebrow at him. “Are you trying to ask if I have a boyfriend?” She shrugged and took a bite of her own fruit. “Let’s just say it puts a serious crimp in your social life when your dad stops bar fights with The Look and your mom is…” She stopped abruptly, suddenly interested in the display at a nearby clothing stand. “Here,” she said, holding up a squashed cylinder of red felted bantha wool with a gaudy tassel attached to it. “You need one of these.”

    Ezra considered the strange object. “Is that thing supposed to be a hat?”

    “A fez, actually...Merkeshian local fashion at its finest.” She reached up to set it on his head, and for a moment, they were eye-to-eye. Ezra could smell the cinnamon caf scent of her hair, feel the warmth of her. He leaned forward...just as Mara stepped back to appraise him.

    “It’s a good look for you,” she said, though suppressed laughter in her smirk suggested he looked just about as ridiculous he felt at that moment. “No, really, very...roguish. Take a look.” Mara steered him towards the mirror, but what caught his attention wasn’t the fact that he looked like a total moof-milker in the fez.

    It was the reflection of a pair of Trandoshans loitering across the street.

    “They’re still following us,” Mara hissed, following his gaze.

    Ezra nodded tightly. He and Mara had been wandering through the marketplace for hours and they were still on his trail. Obviously they were smarter than they looked. So what was it going to take to get rid of these guys? He scanned the area, looking for something he’d spotted that morning….and there it was, the sign for another cantina; the faded gilt letters read “The Azure Kroyie.” He grabbed Mara’s hand. “Come on; we’ll lose them in here and slip out the back!”

    “Ezra, wait!” she protested as he pulled her through the door.

    Unlike the cantina where he’d met Mara, this one was instantly familiar to Ezra. The air was thick and blue with smoke from cigarras and hookahs. The patrons, hunched over their vile-looking drinks, eyed him and Mara suspiciously even as they pretended they were minding their own business. The only thing that distinguished this cantina from a thousand other Outer Rim dives was the miserable looking kroyie chained over the bar.

    “This isn’t a good idea,” Mara insisted, her voice low and urgent. Her presence in the Force was as tense as a loaded bowcaster ready to fire. Something about this cantina bothered her even as the prospect of running into the pair of bounty hunters didn't. “This is Verraro the Hutt’s territory, and…” She cut off with a yelp as a meaty hand crashed down and seized her shoulder.

    The Gamorrean-jowled thug from the marketplace was even uglier up close. He was built like a nek battle dog; his dull, piggy eyes suggested he was as vicious as but not quite as smart as one. The crooked leer he gave Mara did nothing to improve his features. “Well, if it isn't the little Blayne schutta!”
    Last edited by Raissa Baiard, Jan 4, 2017
  24. Ewok Poet Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2014
    star 5
    I don't know what's funnier about this paragraph: Ezra completely spacing out because Mara used the word "date", his five year record of unsuccessful attempts to romance Sabine or the comparison with Stormtroopers. BWA.HA.HA.HA.

    Of course, what's even more...significant is that, once he blurts it out, Mara goes for it. :D She does not miss the chance to tell him not to get his hopes up, because she's Mara, alright, but she goes for it. ;)

    And then, this bit is even more priceless...

    They have a strange standard of "usual things", both of them. And Mara as a dancer...naughty Ezra. :D

    The fez scene was priceless and I can totally see how it would result in lapse of Ezra's judgement and - eeek - getting into Verraro's category. If this is the same feud than the one implied to have begun at the end of In the Cards, these two are in deep trouble! Can't wait to see how they deal with it!
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  25. Findswoman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2014
    star 5
    Oh, flabbergasted!nonplussed!dumbstruck!Ezra is so, so cute at the start of this! Smooth, Bridger, smooth, for sure, but with this young fellow it's ultimately going to be sincerity of spirit rather than silvery talk that will stand him in good stead as far as relationships go (in true "diamond in the rough" fashion). And he does get a chance at a bit of smoothness a little later on, after all—like anything it's just a matter of practice. ;)

    I really enjoy their little walk and chat through the marketplace (and it sounds like a super fun marketplace—I'd love to stroll around there myself!). Now that they've staved off all the pursuers and bounty hunters, at least for now, they get a few pleasant moments to be just two teen acquaintances conversing and getting to know each other. After all they've been through in the past several chapters, from encounters with thugs to irate café managers (and I hope that scarf will do the trick for Sascha!), they deserve a chance to just "let the shields down"—and indeed, we see that they're so at ease talking to each other that Mara aaaaalmost lets slip some details about her mother that could potentially cause tension. Good thing, perhaps, that she spotted that fez when she did! (And what fun for us readers, too, because that's just the absolute priceless crowning touch to Ezra's whole Space!Aladdin persona. Yes, that pun was semi-intentional. :p )

    As to the amorous side of their banter, I can't really add much to @Ewok Poet 's spot-on comments and observations. I know that aspect of the story is a new one for you, but I think you absolutely shouldn't sell yourself short—you are doing a fantastic job of it here! It's lighthearted, fun, and believable. :)

    True to the "life-threatening" prompt, it's all short lived—and with the headlong dash into Verraro's territory, our two protagonists have just gone from the frying pan to the fire. [face_nail_biting] Why, oh why, didn't you listen to Mara's warning, Ezra? Oh, I know: (a) hotheaded desperation, and (b) teen-i-tude. :p But those same qualities, in their ways, mean that he's also a quick thinker—and I sure hope he'll put those quick thinking skills to work here, to save both his and his new friend's bacon!

    Waiting on tenterhooks for more—this is so much fun! :D
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