Title: Choose Your Fortune Author: Raissa Baiard Genre: Humor Characters: Kazuda Xiono, Tam Ryvora, Neeku Vozo Timeframe: ST, 34 ABY Synopsis: Kaz and his friends share a snack of cookies whose fortunes come true in unexpected ways. Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading. I’m fortunate to have a friend like you ————- Zhellday afternoons meant inventory in Yeager’s repair shop, a task which the members of Team Fireball tackled with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Neeku, the Kadas’sa’Nikto mechanic, approached it with his customary cheerful diligence, while Tam found the whole thing tedious, preferring crunchy repair work to fiddly administrative tasks. Kaz didn’t mind it, though. There was a lot less chance that he’d blow his cover as a rookie spy for the Resistance doing inventory in the storeroom than out in the repair bay actually trying to fix things. He might not be able to tell one end of an acceleration compensator from another, but counting things that looked alike? That he could handle, even if he didn’t always know what those things were called. “Okay, so we have seven of these little metal crescent-y things with the screw thingies on one end...” “You mean the 14k hydroclampers?” Tam, a dark-skinned Human with wavy black hair pulled into a knot at the nape of her neck, looked up from tapping his counts into her datapad just long enough to roll her eyes. She was a no-nonsense sort, used to having things in the shop done a certain way. She and Kaz had become friends after a rocky start, but she still had small patience for his inexperience at times. The datapad pinged an alert back at her, and Tam scowled. “Lovely, we’re supposed to have eight of them. Better count them again.” She heaved a sigh, pushed her welding goggles farther back on her head and rubbed her temples. “I’ll be so glad when Neeku gets back from lunch and he can take over this mess.” As if on cue, the door slid open and the gangly Nikto bounded into the storeroom, wearing a smile that stretched from aural receptor to aural receptor. “Tam, Kaz—I discovered a most intriguing new confection in the marketplace today!” he exclaimed, holding out a handful of brightly colored cookies, each wrapped in a clear cello-plast wrapper. He laid them on the work table so that Kaz and Tam could see them. “They appear to be called ‘Fortunate Pastries’, though I am not certain of the translation. The vendor was a Frigosian and their dialect can be quite tricky to understand at times. But the most exciting part is that he said they can foretell the future!” “What? Let me see those.” Kaz stood up, leaving the hydroclampers, spanners, fasteners and other assorted doo-hickeys scattered on the floor where he’d been sitting. “All right! Lucky Biscuits! These are great! “Despite Neeku’s overly literal translation of their name, Kaz recognized the spherical cookies as soon as he saw the smiling tooka with its left paw raised in friendly wave printed on their cello-plast packaging. “I can’t believe you’ve never seen these. We had these all the time back on Ho—back home on...Coruscant,” he corrected himself, remembering just in time that to Neeku and Tam he was a racer from Coruscant and not a senator’s son from Hosnian Prime. This spy stuff was a lot harder than it had sounded when Poe Dameron offered him the job as a way to help the Resistance. You never knew when something innocent like cookies was going to slip you up. “Tell the future? That’s just ridiculous,” Tam sniffed, looking over Kaz’s shoulder. “How’s a cookie supposed to tell the future?” “You break them open and there’s a little piece of flimsi inside with your fortune.” Kaz couldn’t believe he had to explain this to them when you could get Lucky Biscuits at every second diner on Hosnian Prime. Then again, Castilon was so far out on the Outer Rim that it was practically in the Unknown Regions, so maybe it wasn’t surprising that the cookies hadn’t made it out this far. “You know, like ‘you will soon travel to a new world’ or ‘romance will come into your life’. Stuff like that.” Tam raised an incredulous eyebrow “And people actually believe this? If someone could really predict the future, why would they waste their time stuffing bits of flimsi into biscuits?” “Oh, come on, Tam. No one really takes it seriously. It’s just fun!” Sometimes Kaz wondered if Tam ever actually had fun. Or maybe fixing broken dorsal stabilizers and replacing faulty compensators was her idea of fun. Either way, she needed to lighten up a bit, and this would be as good a way to start as any. “Come on,” he said, waving his hands dramatically over the biscuits like a stage magician setting up a trick. “Choooose your fortune or let your fortune choose you….” “Fine,” she sighed, shaking her head. “I’ll take the red one.” Neeku clapped his hands with childlike enthusiasm. “And I shall have the green!” “Guess that leaves me with the blue one,” Kaz said as he took the remaining biscuit and tore off its wrapper. “Okay, so we’ll all break them open on three: one, two, three!” There was the snick of crunchy wafers cracking, accompanied by a giggle from Neeku and another suppressed sigh from Tam. Kaz pulled the slip of silvery-white flimsi from the cookie’s halves and laid them on the table. “Read your fortune, Neeku.” “‘You will soon find true happiness’. Ooh, I like this fortune very much! Happiness is one of my favorite things to find!” “Hey, that’s pretty good, Neeku!” Kaz smiled at the Nikto’s delight; at least one of his friends was getting into the spirit of this. “Your turn, Tam,” “‘An exciting opportunity is right around the corner’.” Tam looked up from her fortune. “Seriously? On the Colossus, an exciting opportunity?” “Tam, quit being such a spoilsport! Let’s see what I’ve got.” Kaz unfolded the small piece of flimsi and read, “‘Like a hungry gorg. There are always’. Wait, that’s it?” Kaz frowned and flipped the flimsi over. There was nothing there, so he poked through the pieces of his biscuit, just in case he’d missed something. But no, the only thing in the biscuit halves were crumbs. “That’s it? Neeku gets true happiness, Tam gets an exciting opportunity, and I don’t even get a complete sentence? What’s that supposed to mean anyway? There are always what?!” “I thought you said you didn’t take these things seriously?” Tam asked, fixing him with a dubious look. “Well, no, but…” Even if you didn’t really believe Lucky Biscuit fortunes, half the fun was acting like you did, trying to figure out when you were going to come into unexpected wealth or who the person was who was admiring you from afar. Tam should have been speculating whether Hype Fazon was going to invite her to the Ace’s lounge again or Yeager was going to let her fly his racer or she was going to win a betting pool at Aunt Z’s tavern. He could come up with all sorts of cool things that could happen, even if they were stuck on refueling platform in the middle of Castilon’s globe-spanning sea, and he bet she could, too, if she only let herself try. As for Neeku’s fortune...hmmm… Kaz looked over at the Nikto, who was munching on his biscuit with a rapturous expression on his face. “Mmm, this is indeed quite tasty!” he remarked through a mouthful of cookie, and his round, black eyes grew even wider. “Oh! The Lucky Biscuit was correct! I have found true happiness!” Okay, that wouldn’t have been the first thing Kaz would have thought of for true happiness, but if Neeku thought it was, then who was he to doubt it? He caught Tam’s eye and jerked his head towards Neeku. See? “Oh, what?” she scoffed. “Neeku finds true happiness every five minutes. You can’t really think the biscuit’s prediction had anything to do with this?” Before Kaz could ask her what her problem was—maybe she just hated cookies?—the door to the storeroom from the office slid open. Their boss, Jarek Yeager, stood in the doorway. “Tam, Captain Doza called. The Aces are running their monthly instrument calibrations and flight drills, but Freya’s down with the flu. They need someone to take the Red Ace, so I’m sending you. Hop to it.” Yeager looked over his shoulder as he turned to go back to his office, a frown creasing his already craggy features. He waved a hand at the piles of inventory that were still scattered on the floor. “And Kaz, snack time’s over. Get this mess picked up.” “But I’m… I haven’t even...” Kaz started to protest as the door swished behind Yeager. Aw, man...this wasn’t fair. He was at least as good a pilot as Tam. Okay, definitely not as good a mechanic, but at least as good a pilot. Probably better, since he’d flown for the New Republic before coming here. So why hadn’t Yeager sent him to work with the platform’s elite squad of pilots? Why did he give the opportunity to Tam? Opportunity… Kaz’s jaw dropped and his gaze slid to Tam. She was looking at the slip of flimsi in her hand and a slow smile stole over her features. “Well, what do you know? The biscuit was right. You boys have fun finishing inventory while I take care of my exciting opportunity!” She grinned and popped a piece of biscuit in her mouth, waving a cheerful goodbye. “But...but...awww…” It just wasn’t fair! Tam hadn’t even wanted a Lucky Biscuit, but she got a great fortune that came true and he got some nonsense about a gorg? So not fair. Kaz sighed. Oh well, at least he still had his biscuit, right? A slight movement on the bottom shelf caught his eye. A purplish-gray amphibian with bulbous turquoise eyes and a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth stared balefully up at him: a gorg. Kaz groaned. “Bitey! What are you doing here?” The gorg nominally belonged to Flix and Orka, the Gozzo and Chadra Fan who ran the Colossus’s office of Acquisitions, but he had a tendency to pop up in odd places to wreak havoc. Kaz reached for a long-handled shop broom to shoo him away—he wasn’t known as Bitey for nothing. “Go on, go back to Acquisitions where you belong!” Bitey shot Kaz a scathing look and nimbly hopped out of the way of the broom, onto a swivel chair and then up on the work table. The gorg eyed the pieces of Kaz’s Lucky Biscuit that were laying there… “Oh, no… No, no, no…!” Kaz lunged past Neeku, grabbing for the gorg, but it was too late. Bitey’s sticky pink tongue shot from his toothy maw, snagged the biscuit, fortune and all, and gulped it down in one swallow. He blinked at Kaz, sprawling hallway across the table, his outstretched arms missing the gorg by centimeters, and Kaz could have sworn that Bitey gave him a gloating smile as he belched and spat a soggy piece of flimsi at him. Kaz clambered to his feet and pulled the saliva-sticky fortune off his nose: Like a hungry gorg. There are always… “Oh. So that’s what it meant.” “Oh, Kaz! That was a most unfortunate fortune! Here, I was saving this for later, but I want you to have it.” Neeku reached into the pocket of his coveralls, pulled out a yellow Lucky Biscuit and held it out to him. “Aww, you don’t have to do that. It’s not a big...” “No, no, I insist Kaz, dear friend! Because of our Lucky Biscuits, I found true happiness and Tam got an exciting opportunity to help the Aces. It is only fair that you get something from the biscuits, too.” He offered the biscuit again, his eyes round and earnest. Kaz accepted the cookie, touched by his friend’s generosity. Neeku could be annoyingly literal at times and his wide-eyed innocence could lose its charm after awhile, but no one could ever say that Neeku didn’t have a good heart. “I tell you what, buddy, why don’t we open this one together?” He peeled the cello-plast wrapper off and held the cookie out. Neeku took ahold off it. “On three—one, two, three!” They snapped the yellow biscuit in two, and a silver-white scrap of flimsi fluttered down to the table. “‘Friendship is the sweetest gift’,” Neeku read, and his brow furrowed. “That does not appear to be a prediction. Still,” he said, brightening, “It is much preferable to having a gorg devour your biscuit again!” “You got that right, Neeku!” Kaz laughed as Neeku crunched into his half of the biscuit with such a blissful expression that he knew the Nikto had found true happiness again. He popped his own piece of biscuit into his mouth, smiling. No, maybe he hadn’t gotten a cool prediction like true happiness or exciting opportunity, but friendship was pretty sweet, and he’d choose a fortune like that any day.