Title: “Sometimes I Just Know” Author: Raissa Baiard Timeframe: Saga OT, 5 BBY Characters: Ezra Bridger, Aliza Bridger (OC) Genre: drama Canonicity: AU Series: an Infinite Ezras story Synopsis: Ezra learns an important secret. Notes: Written for the OC Revolution Summer 2018 Challenge Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading and helping me bring another of the Infinite Ezras into the family ——————— “Ezra! Ezra! Ezzzzraaaaa!” “What?” Ezra sighed gustily and smacked his stylus down on the kitchen table. He was trying to concentrate on this very boring chart of Lothal’s major exports: produce, produce, grain and more produce— though doonium ore and heavy machinery exports had grown exponentially since the founding of the Empire. (Pollution and poverty had increased sharply since then, too. Coincidence? Ezra thought not.) He had a five-hundred word essay due on Taungsday, but every time he managed to get five words written, his little sister interrupted him. Aliza was six years old (well, six and three-quarters, as she was so fond of reminding him), a Loth-kitten of a girl with enormous blue eyes and unruly blue black curls that refused to stay neatly pulled back in a braid or equine tail. Like a kitten, she seemed to be made of equal parts adorable fluff and boundless energy, and like a kitten, she was always underfoot and into things she shouldn’t be. Mom had assured Ezra he’d been just the same at her age, but even if he had been (and he was not prepared to admit it), he’d so grown out of it by now. At fourteen, in his last year of primary school at Junior AppSci, he was totally mature, and he couldn’t just drop his homework to play giju snap or help her dress her tooka dolls or whatever other silly little kid game she wanted to play. “You're not listening to me!” Aliza complained. She was standing on her chair, fists planted on her hips, the picture of aggrieved sensibilities. How did she get to be such a drama gualama already? Ezra raised an eyebrow at her and jabbed his right index finger downward—sit!—because he was pretty sure that Mom wouldn’t like it if Aliza managed to scuff up the chair with her boots again. “I am too listening.” She plopped down onto her seat with a huff, crossing her arms over her chest. “Then what did I say?” “You said ‘Ezzzzraaaaa’!” “Before that!” “Ummm….” Okay, he hadn’t been paying attention; he he’d been trying to scrape together five hundred words about jogan fruit and mealgrain, and that was a little more important than holo-toons or fuzzy animals or the girls in first grade or any of the stuff that Aliza was always chattering about. “You were talking about….Tali’s new Loth-kitten?” There, fuzzy animals and first-grade friends, that was a good bet. “Ezraaaaaa,” Aliza wailed, her big blue eyes growing impossibly round and her lower lip quavering. “I’m trying to tell you something really important here! And you’re not listening! You never listen to me!” “Okay, okay.” Ezra sighed again and slid his book and datapad to the side. Five minutes. He could listen for five minutes, and then he really had to get back to work, because he still had to do the dishes before Mom got home. “I’m listening now. What is it?” “I was trying to tell you about the girl I saw in the marketplace when I went shopping with Dad yesterday. She was sneaking around like she didn’t want anyone to notice her, but, duh, if you don’t want people to look at you, you should not dye your hair blue and orange! And she was wearing armor! Like one of those, what d’you call ’em….um, mandolin warriors…” “Mandalorian? Aliza, what would a Mandalorian be doing on Lothal?” Mandos were mercs and bounty hunters and Lothal was like the most boring backrocket planet there was. Nothing interesting ever happened there, certainly nothing a Mandalorian would be interested in. “I don’t know! But she had one of your flyers…” “What? Wait ...what?!” How did Aliza know about the flyers? She wasn’t supposed to know about them; no one was supposed to know, least of all his chatterbox little sister, because if she knew, soon the whole Galaxy would! Aliza was too young to remember when their parents used to go to rallies and meetings protesting the Empire’s policies and talk all the time about how they needed to speak out and help those who’d been oppressed. When they used to broadcast anti-Imperial messages over the holonet transmitter Dad had built from parts he’d smuggled home from work. All that had changed the terrifying night their friend Tseebo came to warn them the stormtroopers were on their way to raid the house. They’d managed to stash the equipment in the secret room beneath the conversation circle just in time. Days later, Governor Azadi had been arrested, and not long after, Tseebo had disappeared. After that, Mom and Dad had broadcasted less and less often, though they didn’t stop completely until Aliza was born. Even now, Ezra suspected that Dad was up to something the Empire wouldn’t like on the nights he slipped out of the house after Aliza was in bed. But Ezra wasn’t supposed to know anything about that. He was supposed to behave himself and keep his nose clean so he could get into a good school next year. Except that this year, he’d decided he was tired of behaving, tired of keeping quiet when good people were winding up in shantytowns after the Empire seized their farms and turned them into ugly strip mines. Ezra had decided that even if he couldn’t do broadcasts like Mom and Dad used to, he could at least do something. Flimsi was cheap, and it was easy to print up batches of flyers and leave a couple wherever he went—tucked in doors, taped to walls, slipped into people’s satchels. “What...what flyers?” Ezra stammered, desperately trying to come up with a good explanation. He was usually very good at coming up with explanations, but this time his wits seemed to have deserted him from the sheer shock of Aliza being the one to find out. “I… I don’t know what you’re talking about. I…” Aliza fixed him with a “nice try, big brother” look, eyebrows raised and lips pursed. “The ones that say ‘Don’t believe the Empire’s lies’. Ezzie, I found ’em under your bed, I know you made them.” Oh, stang, she’d found the stockpile of his latest batch… He was so in for it now. What were Mom and Dad going to say when they found out? And...wait… “What were you doing in my room?! And looking under my bed?” “I…” Her eyes slid away from his and she twisted a blue-black ringlet around one finger. “I was just putting your datapad back. The flimsi was sticking out from underneath your bed, so I picked it up for you…” “Aliza! I told you not to touch my datapad! Seriously, if you don’t stop taking it to play Wampa Whacker, I’m going to…” “Do you want to hear the really important part or not?” “Okay, fine, sure…” Because the fact that she’d been in his room messing with his stuff after he’d told her not to on at least 325 separate occasions was clearly not important. “What is it?” “She wants to meet you!” Aliza broke into a beaming smile and clapped her hands. “The blue-haired girl, that is. Well, I mean, she wants to find the person who made the flyers, which is you. And she showed it to this tall guy with a pointy beard—her brother, maybe? He didn’t look like a mandolin…um, Mandalorian, though. And he wants to meet you, too!” “What?!” A blue-haired Mandalorian girl and some guy with a pointy beard wanted to meet him because they found one of his flyers and Aliza was acting like this was the best news ever? Because having a Mando looking for him did not exactly sound like fun to Ezra, not with their reputation for shooting first and asking questions later. “How do you know that? Did she say that?” “Well, no, but…” She looked away, fidgeting in her chair. “But what?!” Aliza leaned across the table towards him, her gleeful Loth-kitten grin suddenly changing into as serious an expression as Ezra had ever seen her wear. “Ezzie, can I tell you a secret?” Her voice dropped to a whisper even though they were only the people there. “Sometimes I just know things when I look at people. Like, I can kind of hear what they’re thinking, sort of. I knew Benno took my lucky stylus even though he said he didn’t. I knew Mr. Sumar had jogan fruit preserves even before he put the jars out at his stand.” She leaned farther across the table, stretching her hands out imploringly. “I know it’s weird, but don’t laugh, okay?” “I’m...not laughing…” Ezra rocked back in his chair. He couldn’t remember any time he’d felt less like laughing. “Did you ever tell Mom and Dad about this?” “I told Mom once. She didn’t laugh, either; she looked kind of...I don’t know, scared?” Aliza’s face crumpled, remembering. Oh, yeah, Ezra bet she had… “That’s because when I was your age, right before you were born, the same thing started happening to me. When I told Mom and Dad, they thought I was making up stories and they thought it was cute and funny until they realized the stuff I told them was true. And I heard them talking one night about how if the wrong person heard me saying those kind of things, the Empire might find out and….” He still remembered the fear in his mother‘s voice, whispering You know what happens to people the Empire thinks has those kind of powers.… Ephraim, he’s just a little boy! It made him shiver, even now. “And what?” Aliza’s tiny voice broke into his recollections. Ezra shrugged. “Well, I sort of stopped telling them after that, but I still get those feelings.” “Does...does it always come true? The things you know? When you hear stuff in people’s thoughts, is it always true?” “Yeah, pretty much.” It happened a lot more often now, too, and the feelings were clearer, surer, as if the voice inside him was getting stronger. He’d learned to pay attention to it. Even if it was kind of freaky sometimes to know what was going to happen before it did, it could be pretty useful to know when the other team was faking a pass on the grav-ball field or when the bucket head patrol was headed his way when he was putting up his flyers. “So I guess this means I’m going to meet a Mandalorian girl with blue hair, huh?” He smiled, trying to make a joke out of it, but it was hard because he suddenly had a feeling of his own—not only was Aliza right about him meeting this mysterious Mando girl and her bearded friend, it was going to be important, like maybe the most important thing that had ever happened to him in his whole life. It must not have been a very convincing smile, because Aliza reached out and took his hand, patting it reassuringly as if she were the steady older sibling and he was six and three-quarters years old. “It’s okay though, Ezra, she’s nice.” She paused, squinching up her face as she considered this. “I think. Mostly, anyway.” Aliza brightened again, in one of the zero-to-lightspeed mood shifts that happened so often with her. “Hey, you think you can bring me with you when you meet her?” “Uh, we’ll see...” He hoped not, because if there was anything that sounded like less fun than having a Mando looking for him, it was encountering one with his kid sister in tow. “But, hey, if you get any more feelings about the girl...or anything else...you let me know.” “Are you going to tell Mom and Dad?” “No.” Ezra shook his head. Mom and Dad were always worried lately about the situation with the Empire—the way it was cracking down on non-Human species, taking over more sector and planetary governments, imprisoning and executing anyone who voiced dissent. He sometimes heard them talking about the Rebellion in low voices when he was in the other room, about the skirmishes that had happened on other planets, wondering when something like that would come to Lothal. They didn’t need one more thing to be worried about. Mom didn’t need to be afraid for Aliza like she had been over him. Someday, he’d tell them; he’d know when the time was right, but for now… Ezra leaned over and hugged his sister, linking his little finger with hers, making his words a promise. “It’ll be our secret, okay?” ———————— Notes: The name Aliza: a variant of a name that’s made its way down the Bridger family tree, as seen in @Findswoman ’s Saadya’s Pages Junior AppSci: Junior Academy of Applied Sciences, the school Zare Leonis attends in the Servant of the Empire books; therefore, in this universe, he and Ezra are likely classmates Wampa Whacker: a hologame.