“You want to take the Falcon?” Han Solo’s tone was indignant.
“We’d only need it for a month – six weeks max,” Luke Skywalker quickly put in.
Han didn’t even have to think over his brother-in-law’s request. “The answer’s no. I got a race I’m refereeing on Corellia in two weeks.
Luke wasn’t about to give up. “But you can find other transport.” He followed Han into the hangar café with padawan Ben Solo on his heels. “Leia’s got hundreds of connections and folks that owe her favors.”
“Too bad you can’t say the same thing,” Han grumbled under his breath as he grabbed a booth and squinted at the menu display. Luke and Ben piled in on either side of him.
“But the Falcon is still the fastest freighter in her class.”
Han tore his gaze away from the menu with a sigh. “Why do you need a freighter? You said you were just taking this girl to Jakku.”
Luke motioned for his brother-in-law to keep his voice down.
“Oh, right,” Han muttered with a roll of the eyes. “Sorry. I forgot. It’s classified.”
“There are some…artifacts we want to look for on the way back.” Luke absently ran a finger along the edge of the table.
Han gave a small snort. “The kind of artifacts that attract attention from station authorities and black market runners?” He shook his head. “I run a clean ship these days.” He turned back to the menu as his stomach gave a loud rumble.
“Right.” It was Luke’s turn to roll his eyes. Han ignored him. “Forget we asked. We’ll find another way to get Rey to her new home.” He slumped back into his seat, defeated.
Han selected a sandwich and drink from the screen. “So, you’re just going to leave this little girl on that kriffing desert planet?”
Luke folded his arms. “I grew up on a desert planet. We had to conserve resources, but it wasn’t all bad.”
“Dad,” Ben ventured with a hopeful gleam in his eye, “this trip would be the perfect opportunity for me to gain piloting experience.”
Solo looked across the table at his fifteen-year-old son and let out another long sigh. “You can get that on another ship. Chewie and I are taking the Falcon to Corellia. I want to retrofit….”
“I don’t want to pilot another ship.” The gleam died in Ben’s eyes. He threw up his hands. “You never let me fly the Falcon!”
“Ben,” Luke called after his nephew as the teenager launched himself out of the booth and pushed through the hangar crowd.
The tall, lanky boy didn’t slow his pace until he reached the doors that led out into the bustling spaceport. He would have run all the way to Danta Station and back, pounding his anger and frustration out on the pavement, but instead, he was brought up short by a blonde woman coming in through the doors.
“Ben!” she breathed, catching him up in her arms with a laugh. “I was just coming to find you. What are you up to?” Amanda Snoke eyed him intently as he caught his breath.
“I was going to have lunch with my dad,” he muttered, “but I changed my mind.”
“Oh? What’s wrong?” she led him over to a bench and sat, pulling him down beside her.
He looked away and swallowed back his anger, but his right hand curled into a fist. “He won’t let us borrow the Falcon.”
“I see. Well, don’t worry,” she said brightly, patting his knee. “We’ll find a ship. In the meantime, I came to give you this.” She reached into her bag and brought out an ornate box carved from an exotic dark wood. “Open it.” She placed it in his palms and let her hands linger on his for a moment.
He did so carefully and then looked up at his friend, eyes wide. “What is it?”
“I’m not sure,” she admitted, glancing down at the ancient paper book within. “But I think it may have come from the Jedi Archives. I thought you and your uncle should have it.”
Ben gently opened the leather cover and turned through the delicate leaves. His jaw dropped and he looked at her again in shock. “This is no Jedi text.”
Dr. Snoke’s face crumpled. “It’s not?” She watched the young padawan gape at the artifact.
His fingers tingled with an eerie energy, his heart pounded. “This is a Sith script!” he whispered.
She gave a small gasp. “Really? Can you read it?”
Ben shook his head and quickly returned the manuscript to its protective box. “My uncle would destroy this….” His pointed out, his voice trailing off with his thoughts. “Where did you get it?”
“On my recent trip to the Outer Rim, from a small-time antique dealer.” She laid a hand on his. “I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I was just trying to be helpful. I know you’re trying to recover lost archival material.” She paused, thinking, then said after a moment. “But perhaps the text will be useful to you after all…in helping the girl.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Do you know the saying ‘Know thy enemy’?”
@MyKyloRen 22 August 2016