“We can’t leave here without a look through the Graveyard of Ships.” Ben Solo shoved a hand through his hair and looked intently at the woman he escorted through the ramshackle bazaar of Niima Outpost, his Jedi patience wearing thin. “Have you seen what they’re scavenging here?” He gestured expansively at the washing tables a few meters away from where they stood in a long line with other offworlders. “Datapads, droids, intact astromech memory cores, shield generators, sensor domes, hyperdrives, proton bombs, and tons of Imperial regalia – helmets, badges, blasters. It’s amazing!” He could hardly contain his excitement but lowered his voice to just above a whisper as they moved up a few paces in the queue. “There might even be something of my grandfather’s on that star destroyer we passed.”
Amanda Snoke mopped her forehead with the end of her head scarf. “Look at you,” she exhaled sharply. “You’re not even sweating. “How can you stand this heat?” What little breeze there was under the awnings wafted in off the superheated sands. “Don’t answer that question,” she said, heaving another sigh and giving the sixteen-year-old padawan’s cheek a pat. “I’m sure it’s got something to do with that mysterious Jedi endurance of yours.”
Ben ignored her. “You haven’t answered my question.”
She glanced about at the milling crowd and at the dealer whose booth they stood in front of – Bobbajo the Crittermonger, he was called – the only dealer sanctioned to sell food to spacers. She dreaded what they’d find once they reached the window. She’d seen a lot of unsavory-looking scraps carried off by customers ahead of them, but she and Ben couldn’t leave Jakku without restocking their water or food supplies.
She leaned in close to Ben and said quietly, “In case you hadn’t noticed, this place is full of unpleasant types who undoubtedly multiply after dark, as do the predators that crawl out of the sand the moment the sun goes down.” The padawan opened his mouth to protest but shut it when she held up a hand. “Not even the scavengers are out hunting treasures in this heat.”
Ben lifted his chin. “I can handle myself. The heat doesn’t bother me.” He tried again to infect her with his excitement. “But this is where the Empire staged its last stand. Rumors are that the Imperial ships went down protecting a secret base or treasure that the Emperor looted from ancient civilizations. Some say he had a throne room here. He’d planned to explore and conquer the rest of the galaxy from here.”
He fell sullenly silent as their turn came and they stepped up to the window. He watched as Amanda haggled with the creature named Bobbajo over packages of old Imperial or New Republic rations – all scavenged from downed ships – along with several kilos of water to get their recyclers started again, and baskets of fresh spinebarrel cactus. The water, such as it was – unfiltered and muddy-looking – was the most costly, but with a subtle wave of his hand, Ben got the foodmonger to cut his price in half.
Amanda Snoke chuckled as they made their way back to the ship, followed by a luggabeast carrying their crates. “Remind me to take you every time I go shopping.” She gave him a gentle pat on the shoulder.
Ben was determined to make the most of her good humor. “So, can we stay one more night so I can have a look around that destroyer? If I can find anything that my grandfather touched, I can learn the truth. I’ll know it through the Force. I just need a….” His voice trailed off at the sound of a high-pitched familiar voice – a cry of desperation and despair.
“No! Come back!”
The young Jedi spun about to peer around the plodding luggabeast. He stopped cold when he saw little Rey straining against the grip of the rotund junk dealer known as Unkar Plutt.
“Quiet, girl!” Plutt growled, gripping her scrawny arm.
“Come back!” Rey wailed again, reaching out towards Ben.
Amanda Snoke turned.
“It’s Rey!” Ben cried. “What’s she doing with him?” It took the boy a second to put together the most plausible explanation. They’d left the child only nine nights ago with Lor San Tekka in the Village of Tuanul. “He sold her!” Ben shrieked. “That bastard sold her into slavery!” The anger boiled within him. “I’ll kill him!”
“Ben!” Amanda grabbed his arm and jerked him back as he made to rescue the girl. She quickly gripped him by both arms with all her might and looked him in the eye. “Listen to me.”
He didn’t want to, but he owed his friend and long-time guardian that much. She held up a hand. “I know it looks that way.” Her fingers curled slightly towards his face. “But you’ll do no such thing,” she intoned in a voice low and dangerous.
Within seconds, Ben gave a sharp cry, clutching at his head. A moment later, his knees buckled and he went down.
“San Tekka may be clueless, but he’s far too good at finding me Force-sensitives to be wasted.” She knelt beside him as he lay unconscious and stroked his dark hair. “And that will be the end of that, Ben Organa Solo,” she told him. “You’ll remember the girl no more.” She glanced up as a couple bystanders came running to offer assistance. “Heatstroke,” she announced. “He’ll be alright in a minute.”
@MyKyloRen 10 September 2016