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Saga - OT "Sunrider" (Rebellion Era, all new OCs, short story)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Kurisan, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    SUMMARY: Action/adventure style short tale(s) in the Rebellion Era. New original characters - some familiar faces of course!



    Chapter 1

    “THIS IS TROUBLE.” Lissa Sunrider scowled through the magnocular. The figures were shrouded in the shadows of falling evening, but the speeder outside the main farm building was unfortunately familiar. Lissa returned her scope to its pack and then sprang onto the back of her waiting eopie. The teenager completed this nimble manoeuvre with an ease that resulted from years of practice in its saddle. Lissa gently clicked its flanks with her riding boots. The lanky beast yowled and loped back home. Lissa’s sun-bleached hair lifted in the rush of parched Tatooine air.

    They trotted into the cluttered courtyard between the farm buildings. Lissa dismounted, swinging her long legs round and down to execute the transition from ride to running-walk beside the eopie, pulling back on the reigns to slow it to a halt. She listened hard. Voices came from the direction of the main entranceway, where the dark speeder was parked.

    Lissa skipped to the corner of the modest habitat dome, from where she could see three silhouettes facing the outline of her father. He leant upon his hovering life-support trolley and his voice drifted on the early evening stillness.

    “Please, just a little longer…”

    Lissa crept closer, keeping to the shadow of the habitat wall. She grimaced, recognising the robed figure of Bib Fortuna facing her father. Two huge porcine aliens flanked the unwelcome visitor, thumping brutal clubs into their spade-like claws. Bib swept one headtail over a shoulder and stared out over the desert. Lissa’s father persisted.

    “You must understand, the harvest’s been poor, people tighten their belts, the vaporator famers are charging double for the water, we didn’t get the ronto sales we were expecting. We just need more time…”

    Lissa winced at his pleading tone. His body had been crippled long-ago in a Tusken raid, but her father had always despised weakness. And it had never broken his spirit, nor stopped him from doing his work on the farm. He seemed so pathetic now, it was an insult to all the times he had barked at her to toughen up and get back on the eopie after a fall. Heat rising in her chest, she broke cover and strode openly towards the harassers.

    Bib and the Gamorreans noticed her. “Ah,” said the Twi’lek, baring his needle teeth in a crocodilian grin. “You know, there is another solution. Jabba would be happy to find employment for your daughter. Let us take her to the palace, work for us. We can use her for the credits. Everyone is a winner.”

    Lissa’s father growled, his bionic leg whirring as he advanced. “That ain’t gonna happen, Bib.”

    Lissa finally heard the familiar grit in her father’s voice. In response to Bib’s wave of a hand, the Gamorreans lumbered forward and closed to form a wall of green muscle between her father and the gangster. One of the brutes jabbed his chest with an oversized club. Lissa’s father gasped and his trailing machine-trolley rocked. He grunted and doubled over.

    “Papa!” yelled Lissa, rushing towards him. The Gamorreans paused in their assault and glanced at Bib. He shook his head as an unspoken order and they backed off as the girl reached her father and crouched beside the cripple. Her father wheezed and fought for breath and she clasped his hand.

    “What’s the matter with you?” Lissa hissed at the attackers. “Can’t you see he’s just a sick old man?”

    “High Noon in three cycles,” Bib ignored Lissa and declared to her father. “That’s when we return. It is more than reasonable. You have been enjoying our services for free all this time. Why should you get free protection when everyone else pays? Three cycles, then pay up or we will have to take further… unfortunate measures.”

    The Twi’lek whirled and his brutish enforcers followed him back to his speeder. Lissa ignored their leaving and attended to her father, who had recovered somewhat and was forcing out wracking breaths again.

    “I’m so sorry, Liss,” he managed.

    “Try to be calm, Papa. Remember your heart. The regulator cannot support it if you don’t keep calm.”

    He breathed in and out mechanically until the rhythm returned to normal. The second of the twin suns was settling deep over the horizon now. Finally he looked her in the eye.

    “Liss, we have to sell the dewbacks at market this endcycle.”

    “No! Why? They’ll be ready to lay in another season – all that work we put into raising them. They were going to be our ticket out of here, remember, Papa?”

    “I know Liss, but Bib won’t wait another season. We need to get the credits now. I’m sorry, I’ll make it up to you. We’ll make it somehow, Liss.”

    Lissa stood and raised her hands to the desert.

    “It’s not fair! Why does no-one fight back against them? If the farmers all got together…”

    Her father sighed. “I know, Liss, I know. It’s just the way of things. Believe me it’s better to just pay what we have to pay. You don’t know what it’s like to face losing the one thing you care about most…”

    “It’s just a couple of mean old greenpigs! If I got together Lars and some other boys, we could run them off the property…” she turned back to him.

    He chuckled, “I’m sure you could, Liss. But what about the next day, when they come back with forty more men and burn down everything – and the Lars place, too? What then?”

    She folded her arms and scowled in response. He sighed again. “I’m sorry, Liss. I’ll make it up to you. But not this time. The fight is just too big for people like us.”

    “I don’t accept that. Someone has to do something, or nothing will ever change…”

    * * *​

    (Chapter 2 to come soon)
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
    Kahara, GregMcP, AzureAngel2 and 5 others like this.
  2. gizkaspice

    gizkaspice Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 27, 2013
    A catchy beginning and interesting first chapter. Lissa's determined personality really shines through in that last line---she is turning out to be quite an interesting character even from the start with this injustice. Looking forward to more!
    Kurisan, AzureAngel2 and Ewok Poet like this.
  3. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    I like Lissa. I also like how it is implied that she knows (and perhaps is even friends with) Luke Skywalker.
  4. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Thank you @gizkaspice and @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 for your kind attention and comments. Thank you also to the "likers" I am as always warmed by this community. [face_love] Here's chapter 2!

    Chapter 2

    THE STORMTROOPERS CAME while she was riding her rounds the next day. After a long morning herding the huge rontos back onto the plains after they had stampeded towards dangerous cliffs, Lissa rode back to the ranch and once again scowled as she spied a visitor. This time a huge black transport loomed over her home. Then she saw four white-armoured figures heading straight for the dewback pen.

    The great lizards hooted and worried at the approach of the unfamiliar humans. Lissa looked back to the transport. That would be big enough to carry livestock. She raced into the courtyard, dismounted with a growing sense of unease, and watched the confrontation.

    “Please, be reasonable,” her father implored the black-suited officer. He limped beside the snooty Imperial. “These are our livelihood. I will sell them to you at a fair price, but you can’t just walk in here and take them like this!”

    The officer stared down his nose at Lissa’s father as if he were bantha dung. He produced a silk cloth from a tunic pocket and wiped his sweating brow.

    “There are bigger problems in the galaxy right now. We are requisitioning these in the name of the Emperor. Submit your petition to the garrison administration and we shall see about due compensation. But this is an emergency and you shall stand aside. The search is underway now and we cannot delay.”

    “No, I won’t let you take them!” yelled her father. “You don’t understand: If I lose these, I lose my daughter!”

    He attempted to strike the astonished officer, who staggered back a step. The Imperial recovered his sneering composure. “Do not be ridiculous. This resistance is meaningless.”

    “Stop!” her father yelled at the stormtroopers at the pen gate, attempting to access the unlock code. Within the seven-foot electrofence, the massive dewbacks huddled at the far end of the pen. Lissa knew they were acting with fear now, but if cornered they would come out fighting. They seemed docile, but they could be ferocious if provoked. Her father limped towards the stormtroopers, and extracted an antique hunting pistol from a compartment in the life-support trolley.

    Lissa gulped. She had not seen him keep that in there for many seasons. He fired off a warning shot in the air, further disturbing the dewbacks and seizing the full attention of the troopers.

    A soldier looked to the officer, who nodded once. In front of Lissa’s eyes, the trooper raised a rifle to his shoulder and shot her father in his bionic leg. The old farmer collapsed into the sand, groaning. The four stormtroopers stood over him, unsure whether they needed to continue, to kill this pathetic attempt at disruption of their orders. One kicked away the old pistol.

    Lissa reacted. With a shout of defiance, she mounted her startled eopie and urged it into a gallop. The troopers saw her but seemed caught in hesitation. The officer whirled to witness her coming, and yelled an order to open fire. Belatedly, the Imperial soldiers reacted. Ruby blasts whined past her ears.

    Lissa was in no mood to halt and reconsider her actions. Adrenalin pumped and her blood rushed in her ears, seeming to roar over all other sounds. Nineteen years of simmering rage and frustration boiled over and she charged at the stormtroopers. At the last moment, she leapt from her mount, diving towards the nearest trooper, and pulled the only weapon she had; the shock-baton she used to fend off over-aggressive ronto males.

    She rammed it into the chest of the trooper, the full weight of her dive behind the strike. The impact carried him backwards into a comrade and they all fell into a tangled heap of limbs. Fuelled with adrenalin, Lissa disentangled herself, turned and thrust the energised wand into the belly of another trooper, who seemed too astonished to avoid the attack. Designed to stun seven-tonne megabeasts, the charge knocked him down and he did not move again.

    Lissa ducked a blaster bolt, rolled in the dust and kicked out at a third storm trooper that tried to apprehend her. He dropped his blaster. It landed in front of her in the sand. She grabbed the weapon and her fingers closed about the unfamiliar object, caressed its contours, felt its weight. Here was power. Here was a way to fight back.

    She rolled to her feet, pointed the gun, and squeezed the trigger. He collapsed with a yelp, a smoking hole burned into the chest plate of his white armour. The trooper who had first been knocked down by his colleague growled and tried to rise. Guided now only by instinctive reactions, Lissa blasted him, too. A shot screamed past her head – so close it singed her sun-bleached hair.

    Lissa whirled. The officer in the black suit had drawn a pistol and was trying to aim with shaking hands. He had not expected resistance – none of them had – and he was shocked, panicked. Lissa felt the red heat of anger rise again, and made a stupid decision.

    “Get out of here,” she screamed. “Tell your Emperor he does not rule us!”

    She reinforced the command with a hail of blaster shots on full-auto, spraying over the officer’s head. He scrambled back to his transport, and it roared away into the desert.

    Lissa felt the adrenalin subside. Her heart continued pounding in her ribs. The blaster dropped from her limp hands. She gazed around at the fallen stormtroopers. The dead troopers. The troopers she had just killed. Her throat was dry.

    She whispered, “What have I done?”

    Lissa heard her father groan and rushed to his side, falling to her knees in the sand. The trolley was damaged and it looked like the repulsorlift mechanism was fractured. Cables to his bionic organs were now loose. She assessed her father’s condition. He had a nasty welt where he had fallen and the leg was a smoking mess. His face was deathly pale. He tried hefting his weight onto one elbow but failed and collapsed, wheezing. Emergency warning lights blinked all along his medical chest unit.

    “Don’t try to move, Papa,” said Lissa. Don’t look at what I did, Papa, she wanted to say.

    They met eyes and in that moment she knew he had seen what she had wrought.

    “I’m sorry Papa.” Lissa wept.

    He struggled to speak. “You did good, Liss. Knew I’d raised to you to be tougher than me. Just like your mother. Now you need to run.”

    “No Papa, I need to look after you, I need to get you to a medicentre…”

    “That’s not going to help me now, Liss. Listen to me: You killed Imperial stormtroopers. You can’t stay here now. There’s nothing to stay for anyway.”

    “The dewbacks…”

    “Frek the frekking dewbacks!” wheezed her father. “Release them, and the rontos, and the eopies – they’re tough, free spirits like you. They’ll be alright in the desert. Doesn’t matter we tried to domesticate them: you know they were born here, they have the toughness of the desert in them, the defiance of the Tuskens. They’ll survive. Now you’ve got to survive, too.”

    “Papa, I won’t leave you…”

    “Yes, you will. Promise it to me, Liss. You can’t deny your old man’s dying wish. Ride into the suns. Survive, and fight back, just like I should have done all these years. Just like your mother would have.”

    His eyes closed, he wheezed. “Promise it. Run, survive… fight back.”

    Then he expelled his last breath and was still.

    Lissa buried him that night beneath the stars. The distant cries of the Tusken raiders whispered in the darkness. She released all the animals except her mount, letting them find their fates in the desert. She mounted her eopie, and then she rode for Mos Eisley.

    * * *

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
    GregMcP, gizkaspice and AzureAngel2 like this.
  5. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Wow, that was intense. Adrenaline fueled badassery for the win.
    Kurisan and AzureAngel2 like this.
  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    @Kurisan !!!!!!!!!! =D= =D= I like Lissa and her Papa already: their struggles, caught between that slimy Fortuna and Jabba and those snooty arrogant Imps!!!! They really had no recourse... I worry about Lissa - she's strong and fierce when cornered but it would be so easy for her to fall into hostile hands. [face_worried]
    Kurisan likes this.
  7. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    You are good at creating women who take destiny into their own hands. Well, done!
  8. gizkaspice

    gizkaspice Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 27, 2013
    Brave Lissa--but for such bravery comes consequences. Now her journey really begins....
  9. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Hi @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 and thank you for that comment - I reckon Lissa is a space cowgirl too! @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Hi Ny so good to see you again. I hope all is well. Thank you so much for your kind time to look at this. I am conscious we never really got started the joint-trek project. @AzureAngel2 it's very good to see you too. I really have been away too long. Thank you again for your kind attention. @gizkaspice - aha you are correct. And to that journey we now turn...

    Chapter 3

    STEN LOK WIPED the sand from R4-BZ’s dome and cleaned out the holo-lens.

    “Damn grit everywhere…” he muttered, brushing down his cobalt flightsuit. Then he straightened. “OK Beezy, prepare to send to Y-4, scramble authority zeta, enact coding protocol.”

    The red astromech droid beeped acknowledgment of the pilot’s orders. The lens lit up as it began recording.

    “This is Bandit Three to Base One: Objective still not located. Mercy Flight intercepted over Tatooine. I repeat: intercepted over Tatooine. Mercy Flight compromised, location of objective unknown. It is possible she got it out somehow before they took Mercy Flight. Have been investigating Tatooine itself. Heavy imperial presence. That means they are looking for something, and they must be close to finding it…”

    He held up a hand and the robot paused the recording. “If we find it first, Beezy, it will make this whole damn trip worthwhile...”

    He was about to resume when he noticed a woman dismount an eopie across the street, tie up the animal to the rack, then enter the cantina. There was nothing particularly remarkable about that girl, he thought. But something had caught his attention and set off his instincts.

    She looked like she was from out of town – the pack indicated a long ride. But it was too early for her to have come from Espa or another of the main settlements. What was it about her? He frowned with frustration. Then he realised what it was.

    She had a weapon tucked into her backpack. He had only glimpsed its handle and folding stock design, poking from above a concealing cloth. Nothing unusual about carrying a weapon on this hostile frontier planet. The hardy folk here almost never went round without one.

    But that was the folding stock and handle of an E-11 blaster rifle: A military grade weapon, and standard issue to Imperial storm troopers. He told R4-BZ to hold the transmission and followed her into the cantina.

    Inside he saw the girl again. She had ordered a stiff drink from the grouchy barkeep – inconsistent with both the early hour and her fresh-faced appearance. She did not strike him as a heavy drinker.

    Then she wandered over to a table of greyskinned Duros spacers. Sten took a nearby table and did not attract anyone’s attention, then pretended to study the contents of the menu and his credit chip. He listened in.

    “I need passage off Tatooine,” the girl said to the alien pilots in Huttese. They looked up at her. Sten wondered at the girl’s direct approach.

    “You have credits?” said one. “You know there is blockade on right now?”

    “I have some…” she started, then paused. “I can work. I’ll do whatever you want. Just get me off the planet.”

    “Where are you going?” said a Duros.

    “Anywhere. I’ll pay what it takes, however long it takes.”

    They all exchanged chuckles.

    “Look, Lady,” said the first again. “You are not good negotiator. We help you, you make us believe you really will pay. How important it really you leave Tatooine right now? Convince us.”

    What the girl said next made Sten almost fall out of his chair.

    “I just killed four Imperial storm troopers, and I need to get off the planet before the Empire finds me…”

    * * *

    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wow, that sure got their attention! =D= And Lok's too, I'll bet. [face_thinking]
    AzureAngel2 and Kurisan like this.
  11. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
  12. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    “I just killed four Imperial storm troopers, and I need to get off the planet before the Empire finds me…”

    Jolly good decision. Run, girl, run.
  13. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Thank you to @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 and @AzureAngel2 for your kind encouragement. Chapter 4...

    Chapter 4

    “WHAT?” LISSA WHIRLED as she sensed someone approach behind. She expected to see a white helmet and blaster pointing at her at any moment. Instead, she saw another pilot. A human male, about her age. He was sandy-haired too, but not from Tatooine. She could tell that from his skin. That had rarely seen much sun, and was reddening already in the desert-planet’s climate.

    “I have a proposition for you. Please come with me,” he said.

    “I don’t need time wasters,” she shrugged him off and turned back to the Duros.

    “You want to get off-world quickly? I am offering it.”

    She faced him again and scrutinised. The face gave nothing away. That was strange. He was young, like her, but the eyes looked cold, cynical.

    “Were you listening in on what I just said?” She put her hands on her hips.

    He leaned in close and whispered, “The whole damn cantina just heard you. Suggest you follow me right now.”

    He turned and walked out. She glanced at the Duros, who shrugged back. One said, “I think he your ticket. We want no trouble.”

    She sighed and followed the stranger outside. He had retired to a shady alleyway between disused shops opposite the cantina. She scampered across the dusty road and met him in his hideaway

    “You have a ship? You’ll give me passage? I’m afraid I don’t have much money, but I meant what I said; I can work, I can do almost anything…”

    He raised a hand like a schoolteacher to silence her. She scowled. He ignored her indignation and said, “I will get you off the planet, but first you have to do some things for me.”

    She took a step backwards. “What things?”

    If he thought she looked offended, he ignored that too. “First, answer questions. Why did you kill Imperial stormtroopers?”

    “What’s it to you?”

    He said nothing.

    She said, “What? You won’t help me unless I tell the whole story? I don’t need questions…”

    Still he waited.

    “OK, OK. I’m a ronto farmer, along with my father. We raise dewbacks and eopies too. They came to take our dewbacks, but we needed them, I mean really needed them. The gangsters keep coming, we had lost some big ronto sales and…”

    “Why did the Imperials want the dewbacks?” he interrupted.

    She blinked. “How should I know? Why don’t you ask them?”

    He rubbed his eyes. Lissa thought he looked like he had not slept in several days.

    “Just think. Why would someone want dewbacks?” he said.

    “To ride, of course.” She shrugged. He waited and she thought some more. “OK, to ride in the desert. Off-world speeders, if they aren’t given oil-treatment for the grit, they’ll break down. Dewbacks are reliable, they can cover large areas. They’ll be riding them out into open desert.”

    The man cupped his chin and thought about this.

    “Can we leave now? I’d rather hurry, if we could…” Lissa started.

    “You need to do something else. This one job will earn your passage.”

    She took another step back. “What job? I need to leave now!”

    “And you have no money. No-one else is going to risk an Imperial blockade for you, no matter how pretty you are.”

    She opened then closed her mouth at that. He stepped toward her, “The Imperials are looking for something very important in the desert, very valuable. Take me to where they are riding these dewbacks.”

    “Are you crazy? I need to get away from them.” He folded his arms. She continued, “Who cares what they are looking for? And how should I know where they are, anyway?”

    “You are a farmer here. I need a scout. You can follow their tracks in the desert.”

    She harrumphed at this. Yes, she probably could find them, if she really had to.

    The pilot took another step toward her. “I just want you to take me to them. I will be careful. You do not need to get involved, I promise.”

    Lissa had just about had enough of promises. But she considered her options. It seemed like a simple exchange, and she had nothing else to pay for a starship flight. An R4 astromech rolled up beside the man and beeped something at him. He ignored it. Then it beeped at her. She could not understand binary, but it seemed to be imploring both of them.

    Lissa shook her head, sadly. “If it was anything else, anywhere else… You’re asking me to go right back to the place I just ran from…”

    He nodded and set off for the cantina. “I understand. I will get another scout. Good luck.”

    The astromech hooted what sounded like disappointment then rolled after the pilot. He was halfway across the road before Lissa called to him.

    “Alright, I’ll do it.”

    He turned and walked back.

    “I’m the best rider you'll find anyway. And then, that’s it: I do this for you and you get me off-planet, deal?”

    He nodded. There was nothing so formal as a contract offered. Not even a handshake. She wondered for a moment if they should agree a destination or discuss the condition of the ship and her potential quality of accommodation, but then decided that was best left for later.

    She said, “Alright then. Have you ever ridden an eopie?”

    * * *​
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
    GregMcP likes this.
  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    Fascinating developments. I can totally understand Lissa's reluctance: I'm trying to get away from the Imperials, not go back to where they're at, the same ones more than likely, i.e., part of the same group so they know who they're to keep an eye out for. [face_thinking]
    Kurisan likes this.
  15. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Merry Christmas @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha , I hope Santa brought something you wanted, and best wishes for the new year.

    Chapter 5

    “I AM SORRY,” said Sten. Lissa stared at the burning wreck of her former home. The Imperials had returned, and they had been thorough. Claws of black smoke curled from the ruined habitat.

    “It’s OK. There was nothing of value left.”

    Lissa glanced at the simple marker she had placed over her father’s grave, up on the ridge beyond the courtyard. That, at least, had not been desecrated.

    “Who was that?” said Sten, following her gaze.

    Lissa’s mouth went dry. “My father.”

    “Oh,” Sten did not speak for a moment. “Were you close?”

    She looked at him. She opened her mouth, then closed it again. How could she answer such a question? A million memories burst into her mind, but she held them back. Now was not the time to release. Not yet. Instead she whispered, “Yes.”

    The pilot was quiet again for a moment. Then he said, “Which way?”

    She frowned. He was gesturing from the dewback pen, then to the desert plains. He wanted her to start tracking. Lissa bit back a complaint at his haste. He had offered one comment of sympathy. And she had told him she was OK.

    She examined the tracks. “The dewbacks went east. There’s no telling if or where any Imperials caught them.”

    Sten went to their eopie and struggled onto the reluctant animal. Lissa would have smiled at the ungainly city boy’s efforts. But she was not in a mood or place for smiling. Finally, he managed to mount then looked at her.

    “Show me where they went. You can find the evidence if the stormtroopers caught the dewbacks – and you take me to where they took them.”

    * * *​

    “THEY’RE MY DEWBACKS!” Lissa scowled through the magnocular. She lay prone at the clifftop, spying the dune sea beyond. “And there are your stormtroopers.”

    Beside her, Sten strained, shielding his eyes against the afternoon glare, trying to make out the figures in the distance. Sweat rolled in rivulets down his face.

    “Here,” Lissa took pity and offered him the scope. “Try this.”

    “Thanks,” he nodded then peered through it.

    “Shield the lens like this,” Lissa said, touching his hand to guide his fingers into place. He flinched and she drew back. She looked at his face but he looked away.

    “Sorry, I just… you need to stop the reflection catching or they will see us,” she showed him the adjustable flap.

    “I see. Thanks.”

    Lissa let that awkward moment pass, then shaded her eyes and gazed at the scene. “Looks like over fifty of them just in this stretch – and they’re more units spread right across to the edge of the Jundland. Speeders, landers, dewbacks. What are they looking for?”

    Sten lowered the magnocular and glanced at her. “You see that far without the scope?”

    She shrugged. “I was born here. I have desert eyes.”

    “What’s that they gathered the big lizards round?”

    Lissa squinted. “Looks like an abandoned speeder, or maybe a pod? Too small to be a space ship.”

    “A pod…” Sten repeated, quietly.

    “What is it?” said Lissa.

    “Maybe they found what they are looking for.”

    “Yes,” she nodded, squinting again, “they’re moving out.”

    Sten gazed through the scope and muttered a curse. “They are leaving behind a squad.”

    Lissa fiddled next to the pilot as he stared and waited. “So, it’s time to go, right? You’ve seen what you needed to see.”

    Sten lowered the scope and retreated from the clifftop to their eopie, waiting in the gulley below. Lissa followed him, hope lending a spring to her stride. Sten thought for a few moments.

    He turned and faced her. “I need to get to that pod.”

    “What?” she threw up her hands. “Why?”

    “I have to see what they found.”

    “There’s a stormtrooper patrol guarding it.”

    “They will move on eventually. We will wait until night.”

    Lissa paced up and down. “Look, you’re not from round here, so take it from me: You don’t want to be in the open desert at night. It’s too dangerous.”

    He showed no emotion. “You can go back to Mos Eisley if you wish.”

    She rounded on him and jabbed a finger at his chest. “No, you’re my ride out of here. I’m sticking with you until you keep your promise.”

    He shrugged acceptance of this. They stood in the late afternoon heat for several moments. Lissa let out a breath.

    “Come on or we’ll burn up out here. There are some caves under the south side of this ridge. It’ll be out of sight.”

    They made their way round the bluff and led the eopie deep into the cave. The animal flopped gratefully. Sten took up position near the entrance to keep a watch. Lissa watched him. She opened a pack on her eopie and took out a flask, then walked to him.

    “Here, drink this. It’s isotonic and you need to keep hydrated.”

    He took a swig and grimaced. He stared at the flask. “What is this?”

    She shrugged. “Bluemilk.”

    Sten held the flask at arm’s length as if it contained a poison. “What animal does it come from?”

    “You really don’t want to know.”

    Lissa retreated a little deeper into the cave and found a slab of a rock to sit on. Sten looked back at her.

    After a long moment she said, “Are you a rebel spy?”

    “No.” It was a very abrupt reply. He perhaps reconsidered that. “What makes you think so?”

    She raised her eyebrows. “Really? Well, everything you have said and done since we met…”

    “I am not a rebel spy. I just have interest in matters of value.”

    “That’s what a rebel spy would say, though, isn’t it?”

    He sighed. “If you do not believe my answers, then why ask the questions?”

    She decided to change the subject. “So, where are you from? Big metropolis world, right?”

    “Why do you say that?”

    “Accent. And your skin. Are you from Imperial Centre?”

    “It is called Coruscant,” he snapped. Then he caught himself. “It doesn’t matter where I come from.”

    “Uh-huh,” she leant forward. “Are you rich?”

    “What has that got to do with anything?” he stared out into the desert.

    “If you’re rich, why run away to join the Rebellion?”

    “It doesn’t matter why I joined!” he said. Lissa smiled and Sten scowled at his mistake.

    She approached him then. “It’s OK, if you’re a rebel I mean. Because I’m an outlaw too, now. They’ll be after me. You don’t need to worry about me turning you in. Maybe… we’re alike.”

    “We are nothing alike.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean? Because I’m a poor farmer’s girl? You think I’m worthless? You’re not better than me just because you’re rich.”

    He rounded on her, his face flushed. It was the first time she had known him to show emotion.

    “Your father loved you, and you lived out here wild and free! You had something more valuable than all the credits in the galaxy, so do not pull the poor farmer girl act on me.”

    Lissa took a step back. “Oh… I thought you meant…”

    “Forget it. Why do you not get some rest?”

    She spotted him palm a pill from a pocket and wash it down with the bluemilk. She said, “Are you stimming? There’re no good for you, you know?”

    He grimaced again, this time as the energy rush came. “Temporary necessity.”

    “You need to sleep, too.”

    He smiled. That was the first time she had seen him do that. “Not much chance of that now.”

    She unpacked a blanket and rolled it out on a sandy patch. Then she sat and looked at him.

    He glanced back. “I will be here. And I will not… touch you. Do not worry.”

    * * *​
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
  16. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Somehow I get the impression our flyboy has daddy issues.....
  17. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    Sten let something vital slip, totally unintentionally. Lissa certainly has no love of the Empire; she could do worse than fall in with a strong Rebel cell. :cool:
    Kurisan likes this.
  18. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Very cool western you have going on here. Sten’s kind of a mercenary but apparently on his own, freelancing with just the faintest of connections to society. It seems he kinda longs to have someone who matters to him. Lissa is another tough, free spirit. I can see them being partners; not really romantically but as allies. This reminds me a bit of True Grit.

    It appears that Sten is following hunches and really doesn’t know what he’s after, more of an “I’ll know it when I see it” kind of thing. It’s really interesting to see this parallel the escape of C-3PO and R2. Makes me wonder if another young 19 year old moisture farmer will appear soon!

    Loving the details, like how Lissa has to show him how to hold the macro binoculars so that the light doesn’t reflect off the metal parts. Excellent story and vivid characterizations! I can almost hear the soundtrack. [face_cowboy]:D
  19. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Hey hey HAPPY NEW YEAR! [face_dancing]

    Many thanks to @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha for keeping with this - not much more for this particular short! Also @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 - you got it ;). And welcome to @divapilot - you honour me again with your in depth reading. I hope every one had a nice holiday period and best wishes for 2019.

    Chapter 6

    LISSA HAD TERRIBLE dreams, of her father, of the gangsters, of the faceless, emotionless stormtroopers, of riding into the sun with krayt dragons – huge black dragons – snapping at her heels. She jerked awake in the silent cave, and took a few moments to reorient. Evening had fallen into night, but the moons were bright. She saw Sten’s silhouette at the cave entrance. She stretched then approached him.

    “You’re still here,” she said.

    “So are the troopers. Wait…” he held up a hand.

    The sound of speeders racing away and lurching dewbacks punctured the oppressive silence of the desert. Sten looked at Lissa, “You woke up just in time.”

    She shrugged. “I have a habit of doing that.”

    He went to his own pack and took out a sensor and some other items. Lissa left him to it as he stalked out of the cave and towards the site the Imperials had been interested in. Lissa listened. The night was quiet. Too quiet.

    She did not count the minutes, but soon enough Lissa was unable to bear the tension any longer. She scampered out of the cave and around the bluff. She saw him sweeping a glow-tube around and rolled her eyes. She skipped across the sand towards him.

    “Hey!” she hissed. “Put out the light!”

    “What?” he lifted it up to shine on her.

    “Put it out, you’ll attract… things. And you’ll ruin your night-vision. The moons are bright enough.”

    He did as she asked and blinked as he tried to get used to the darkness. Lissa studied the object nearby.

    She pointed. “That’s an escape pod.”

    He nodded. “It’s from the Tantive IV, the ident checks out.”

    Lissa did not know what that meant. Apparently, Sten was unsure too.

    He said, “What do you make of those tracks?”

    Lissa crouched and examined them. She huffed. “The stormtroopers have ruined them, walked all over them.”

    She retraced a route back to the pod and examined half-marks. “It could be droids.”

    “Droids?” Sten sounded confused yet hopeful.

    He looked out across the desert. “Which way would they go?”

    Lissa studied the landmarks and pointed. “If they went out that way they’d end up in a sinkhole or eaten by a krayt dragon.” She turned to face the other direction. “This way is the Jundland…”

    When she hesitated he said, “What would happen to droids that way?”

    “If they’re lucky they might have been picked up by jawas – native scavengers,” she added at his questioning look. “They would have sold them. There are farm settlements across the south there.”

    “What if they were unlucky?” said Sten.

    “You don’t want to know.” She sighed. “Look, they’re not here now, and the Imperials have gone. We had a deal. Can we leave now?”

    He shook his head. “I need to know more. You go back to the cave. I will search the area.”

    “There’s nothing here! The Imperials have messed up any tracks and surely combed the patch for anything dropped!”

    “It is not your business.”

    “This isn’t what we agreed!” she turned and stormed back to the bluff, intending to ditch this stubborn fool. By the time she got to her eopie, she had reconsidered. He was still her only shot to leave the planet.

    “Just a little longer,” she whispered to the animal, “Then you can run free into the suns, too.”

    It was nervous about something, and Lissa also shivered in the stillness of the night.

    * * *

    Last edited: Jan 7, 2019
    GregMcP likes this.
  20. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    Awesome as they find clues relating to the escape pod and 2 droids. ;) =D=
    Kurisan likes this.
  21. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    I think we know what droids they're looking for. :r2: :c3po:
  22. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Thanks again @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 for sticking with this. Also many thanks to the shy and mysterious @GregMcP ! Not much more to go!

    Chapter 7

    HE WAS CLOSE. That much, Sten sensed. Droids might have got past the Star Destroyer guns – they would be concentrating on those containing life-signs, in case the Princess tried to escape, and ignoring the decoys. His heart beat. If he was the one to find the plans... Sten shook his head. He was getting ahead of himself. He had a terrible feeling the objective was getting ahead of him, too.

    He only had a moment of warning. A guttural cry pierced the night, then they were all around him. Where they had come from, how they had approached unseen and unheard, he could not imagine. One moment the night was silent and still, the next rag-swathed raiders raged around him. He reached for his pistol at his hip. Too slow. A polearm weapon whacked him in the stomach and he doubled over. A heavy blow to his head and he was on the sand. His pistol was kicked from his grip and span into darkness.

    Strong, rough hands yanked him onto his back and he looked up into faces wrapped in rags. Metal circular tubes poked out to create inhuman eyes and mouths. The polearms were raised, ready to strike. Sten tried to rise but feet stamped and held him down. He saw his doom descend in a deathblow toward his face.

    Then the would-be killer staggered back. The others howled in alarm. Another figure was amongst them, slender and nimble. Sten struggled to rise again now he was released. He saw… of all people… Lissa, fighting with the attackers. She had only a simple baton.

    Sten watched and she evaded a swinging halberd, then cracked the taller being across the chest. A charge hummed in the night and the rag-creature crumpled. Sten understood she carried a stunner. He scrambled across the sand, looking for the spot where his pistol may have landed. He heard the grunts of the attackers, and Lissa gasp as if she had been struck. He searched frantically. Then he found it.

    He rose, turned and aimed. Lissa was surrounded by the filthy rag-piles of the fallen. The others had already disappeared into the darkness, though he could hear their indignant howls. Sten fell to one knee. The combined effects of the heat, lack of sleep, and the sudden violence, had taken a toll. He was fighter-pilot fit, but any human had limits. Lissa was beside him, and took his arm.

    “Are you injured?”

    He flinched from her contact again and she let go. He forced himself to rise on unsteady legs.

    “I will be fine.” After a moment he added. “Thank you, there is no doubt you saved my life.”

    “Don’t get the wrong idea. We had a deal and I’m just protecting my investment.”

    Sten grimaced. “Your point is taken.” He looked again at the bodies.

    “What are they?”

    She followed his stare. “Sand People, Tusken Raiders. I warned you. We shouldn’t be out here at night. This is their territory.”

    He held up a hand, knowing what was coming next. “OK, you are right. There is no point staying out here now. We go back to Mos Eisley and consider our next move.”

    * * *​
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2019
  23. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent rescue by Lissa, whose warnings were definitely on the mark. Now they have more planning to do. Get out of harm's way since they know all they're going to.
  24. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    They're getting closer! Lissa is a very accomplished scout and tracker. Sten is lucky to have her with him. Darn fool, waving his glowstick around. Might as well have sent the Sand People an invitation. Lissa is going to be invaluable to him here. He better reward her - the girl's not working for free.
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.
  25. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha thank you again for your kind attention and comments. I like the running commentary - it's like sports commentary, but over a movie! :D Thanks also to @divapilot guessing ahead again! ;)

    Chapter 8

    “YOU SAW WHAT?” Sten’s eyes grew larger as the translation of his droid’s words came out on his interface pad. Lissa peeked out into the busy street from the hideaway passage. There seemed to be plenty of activity in town today.

    “What? What is it?” she asked Sten.

    “Seems like the Empire are way ahead of us, and it all ended up back here anyway,” he said. “Beezy was watching the ports. There have been comings and goings. Then the stormtroopers chased a starship out of docking bay ninety-four. I need to contact my… associates urgently. This is a new hope!”

    Lissa had no idea of the significance of this, but recognised it was important to Sten.

    “So, we’re done here? Can I leave now?”

    “Yes, yes,” said Sten, reaching into his pocket. He produced a credit chip and handed it over.

    Lissa looked at it. “What’s this?”

    “There’s about a thousand on that. That concludes payment for your services. It will get you far enough, depending on the kind of travel you choose.” He shifted, avoiding eye contact. “It is a start.”

    “Are you kidding me? This is not what we agreed! You said you would take me with you!”

    “I never said that. I said I would get you off the planet. That is the means to do so.”

    “But I’m a fugitive… the blockade… you know they are watching the docking bays…”

    “It will get better soon. I believe the reason the Imperials are here took off on the ship Beezy saw. You just need to lay low for a while.”

    “I can’t lay low for a while! I have an entire gangster’s army after me, too. This is not fair – you have to take me with you!”

    “I am sorry. We have different problems, and your problems are not mine.”

    He nodded to his astromech and picked up his pack, then headed into the busy street. The red droid beeped sadly at Lissa then followed. Lissa pursued.

    “That’s not good enough! We had a deal,” she shouted at his back, several steps behind. They passed spacers and farmers on both sides.

    “Will you just stop and listen to me!” Lissa called. Sten was getting further ahead as he pushed through a crowd of locals that had gathered outside docking bay 94.

    “Hey, I said…” Lissa suddenly fell silent. There was a commotion and Sten turned.

    A dewback had forced the crowd to disperse. The stormtrooper on its back brandished a long stun-lance. And at the lizard’s feet lay Lissa. Two more of the white-armoured soldiers moved forward, grabbed her beneath the armpits and hauled her up.

    Lissa groaned. The trooper on the beast said, “Yeah, that’s our farm girl. Hold her tight.”

    The others pinned her arms behind her back and held her standing. “Remember the stun baton you used on me?” growled the mounted trooper. “This will hurt one hundred times more!”

    He shoved the lance into her belly and Lissa grimaced and convulsed. The shock current locked her jaws tight, otherwise she would have screamed. The crowd gasped and retreated in all directions. No-one had any intention of doing anything to help.

    “Careful,” said one of the troopers holding the jerking girl. “The Lieutenant will want her alive.”

    A blaster fired. The trooper on the dewback toppled backwards, a smoking hole in his chest. The other two dropped their prisoner, who collapsed into the sand again.

    Lissa rose to her hands and knees, shaking violently. She looked up through eyes blurred with tears, and saw Sten facing the stormtroopers. He shot twice more, quickly. The two troopers fell either side of her. Then the pilot rushed to her side. He hesitated a long moment, then helped her up.

    “I… I…” Lissa was still recovering from shock.

    “Can you walk?” said Sten. She nodded weakly. “Then come on.”

    He abruptly let go and she swayed. Beezy came to her side and she leant on the droid.

    “Come on!” Sten yelled over his shoulder.

    Lissa did her best to catch up with the help of the astromech. They wobbled after Sten into one of the smaller docking bays. There, Lissa spied a blunt-nosed Starfighter with long, swept-back engine tubes.

    “You, you came back for me,” she said, as the pilot finally stopped and turned.

    “Don’t get the wrong idea,” he said. “I did not want you telling the Empire all about me.”

    “Just protecting your investment, huh?” she forced a smile despite the pain. Her body was starting to recover.

    Sten issued orders to Beezy and the droid trundled over to the fighter and began making preparations. Sten followed, and Lissa limped after him. The pilot climbed a stepladder onto the chassis next to the transparisteel cockpit screen. Her limbs slowly losing the shakes, Lissa made her way up.

    “We do not have much space, but there is an emergency seat.”

    He popped the canopy and began shifting levers. Lissa looked and frowned, wrinkling her nostrils.

    “Have you been sleeping in here?”

    “Temporary necessity. Are you coming or not?”

    “I’m coming!” said Lissa, a new energy replacing the fading ache. Together they shifted the configuration. Sten dumped packs he deemed unnecessary with ruthless speed. Lissa realised she had been one of those packs, not long ago. Then he jumped into the pilot’s seat and donned a helmet.

    “Get in and strap in,” he ordered, flipping switches. The droid appeared from an underside elevation tube that rose up between their two stations. Its domed head sticking up above the cockpit, it beeped what sounded like encouragement to Lissa.

    She jumped into the back seat and scrabbled with the straps. Beezy beeped alarm and she looked out of the now closing cockpit screen.

    “Sten! Stormtroopers!” she called.

    “I see them. Brace yourself, we will be going out hot – and fast.”

    The troopers raised blaster rifles and began pummelling the ship with ruby arrows of laser. The Y-wing rocked.

    “Not fast enough…” muttered Lissa. She took one last look around at Tatooine. Then for the second time that day a ship blasted its way out of Mos Eisley.

    * * *​