Star Wars: Treasures of the Force – Ch 19

To say Nix was worried about the growing influence Ravas seemed to have over Ayli would have been rather understandable, she felt. Ancient Dark Side ghosts didn’t exactly have the reputation of being particularly benevolent.

Or existing at all really – Nix wasn’t sure she’d ever heard of something like whatever Ravas was but she didn’t need many examples to compare Ravas to in order to figure out that she was bad news. 

What was puzzling was why was she concerned about the Zabrak woman?

Ravas had taken the navigator’s seat in the Goldrunner’s cockpit behind Ayli despite having no apparent need to rest her ghostly legs. She wasn’t hovering over or menacing Ayli at all, preferring instead to stare out the side of the ship at the swirling blue of hyperspace.

Nix was tempted to see if she could engage Ravas somehow, but the ghost had been very determined not to make eye contact with her. That wasn’t too surprising given how much animosity they’d already shown each other, but Nix, for reasons she couldn’t articulate even to herself, wanted to bridge that divide. 

They didn’t need to be enemies. 

But that wasn’t the life Ravas had led.

“We’ll be exiting to to the Tarventi system in a minute,” Ayli said after clicking the ship’s comms on. “I should be able to get Goldie in range to scan for the hyperspace lane within twenty minutes, less if we’re lucky.”

“I still say we should stop at the Smoking Barrel,” Sali said. “Goldie needs some real weapons if we’re going to be fighting off assassins for a while.”

“We’re not going to be fighting anyone,” Ayli said. 

She was wrong. Nix didn’t like that she knew that, and she had no idea who they were going to be fighting or where, but she knew Ayli was wrong. 

Trouble was waiting for them.

Nix cast another glance towards Ravas, who shrugged without glancing in Nix’s direction. Apparently it was the sort of trouble a ghost either couldn’t help with or didn’t see the need to bother be concerned about.

Nix got to work rewiring a few of the control systems, It wasn’t strictly speaking necessary for their continued survival but it would give them a bigger margin of error and, as a mechanic, wide safety margins were like a warm fluffy blanket on a snowy day.

“Okay, this will be a quick in-and-out,” Ayli said. “The sooner we can get to Dedlos the better.”

“We’d be there already if I’d been even vaguely aware of my surroundings, sorry,” Nix said, her hands yearning to work the tension out of Ayli’s shoulders.

“That was not your fault,” Ayli said, her eyes fixed forward.

“I’m pretty sure all I needed to do was throw myself forward and I wouldn’t have three tiny little scars in my abdomen,” Nix said, resisting the urge to raise her shirt to show off her new battle marks. Distracting one’s pilot when she was returning a ship from hyperspace was more or less the definition of a bad idea.

“We can  get those taken care of,” Ayli said.

“I don’t know,” Nix said. “They might be a good reminder for me to pay attention more.”

A suppressed growl broke free from Ayli’s lips.

“That wasn’t your fault,” she said, little sparks of anger curling around the corners of the words. “Do you remember what happened? Do you remember why you weren’t aware of the giant crystal monster behind you?”

“I…” Nix paused. What had she been doing when she’d been stabbed? She’d been drinking the Bacta Gel pack? No, that had to be after. She’d been distracted by something…by Ayli?

“You saved me,” Ayli said. “You got hurt, saving me.”

And Nix remembered.

She’d lashed out. 

Like she had with Ravas.

She’d lashed out and destroyed part of the tower. She’d smashed at least two Smoke Wraiths to pieces. And she’d saved Ayli.

With the Force.

Nix was quiet for a moment.

She’d never thought of herself as anything special. She still didn’t really.

But she had spoken more than once with a dead Jedi. And she could see a Force ghost who no one else seemed to be able to perceive. And she could apparently move things with her mind.

Which was neat.

And scary.

“It was worth it,” Nix said. Being forced to recognize what she was capable of, what she’d probably been capable of for years. And saving Ayli. Both of those were worth the risk she’d taken.

Ayli was silent in response, pulling back the lever which dropped them out of hyperspace.

And directly into a trap.

Plasma bolts slammed into Goldie’s deflectors faster than her sensors could place the ships they came from.

Ravas chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” Ayli growled, spinning the Goldrunner into an evasive pattern as the sensors clocked three refurbished Tie-Fighters bearing down on them.

“You draw on the Force so easily,” Ravas said. “You were born to wield my saber. And to do so much more.”

The sentiment was close to what Kelda had told Nix, but the delivery was painfully different.

“Doing all I can already,” Ayli said through gritted teeth as she pulled the Goldrunner out of the course of the incoming fire by thinner margins than the width of her lekku.

“Who’s shooting at us? We just got here!” Sali said rushing into the cockpit and plopping down on the navigator’s chair.

Ravas vanished from it and reappeared between Ayli and Nix.

Sister Zindiana arrived last, Nix’s usual seat at the mechanics station. “Someone followed us to Lednon Three,” she said.

“Doubt it,” Ayli said. “If anyone else was able to find that place, they’d have done so long ago. I think our friends in the orbital stations sent out an alert.”

“Yeah. Could be that,” Sali said. “Those stations weren’t big enough to be self-sufficient. Whoever was manning them has to be getting supplies from somewhere, which means they’ve got allies in other system.”

“Systems like the ones leading to the next trial,” Ayli said.

Nix wasn’t listening to the conversation as much as she was watching Ayli fly. It wasn’t a randomized pattern Ayli was using. She was reacting to each and every bolt that came at them. There were compromises she had to make, of course. The Goldrunner wasn’t fast enough to outfly purpose-built dogfighters like the Tie’s (not yet at least, Nix was working on that). 

Each move that Ayli made felt right though. Nix’s intuition was cheering as each flick of a switch and every pull of a lever bought them the time and safety they needed.

“Goldie, get the scanner’s running would you?” Nix asked.

“We’re not close enough yet,” Ayli said.

“Let me worry about that. Just buy us time, okay?” Nix said.

“Trying!” Ayli said, the growl never leaving her voice, though Nix didn’t feel it was directed at her.

“Let me help,” Ravas said.

“NO!” Ayli said. “I can do this!”

“Found the hyperspace lane!” Goldie called out. “It’s a ways out though. What did you do to my sensors?”

“Took off the limiters on active scan,” Nix said. “We can’t exactly land at a docking port like this or we’ll fry all of the deck crew within a hundred meters or so, but I can set it back like it was before then. Also we might need some new scanners sooner rather than later.”

“Give me whatever speed you can,” Ayli said.

Nix laughed. It wasn’t a safe sort of laugh, and Sali and Zindiana seemed to get that given how they both immediately clung to their chairs. Ayli on the other hand was past the point of concern. 

Tie Fighters were, for all their other failings, fast and extremely maneuverable. With a good pilot they could outmaneuver anything short of an A-Wing. As a medium freighter, the Goldrunner was not dissimilar to a flying pile of mud by comparison, so what Ayli was doing was nothing short of miraculous. 

Nix wasn’t content with that though.

She was going to give her wife an even better miracle to work with.

“Throw all the deflector power to the rear shields,” she said as she twisted the last pair of wires together.

Ayli, beautiful, amazing, wonderful Ayli did not ask why or argue.

She just hit the button.

Medium freighters are neither quick nor maneuverable.

Nix couldn’t improve Goldie’s maneuverability much with a kitbashed change. What she could do though was turn it from a medium freighter, into a sub-light missile.

“Enemy contacts are falling away,” Goldie reported. “Also our hyperspace lane is coming up real quick. We’ll need to slow down for me to calculate the entry point.”

“Don’t slow down!” Nix yelled. “Ayli, you can do this!”

Ayli’s response was entirely non-verbal as she jammed even more speed out of the Goldrunner’s engines.

Given the response time of the sensor relays and the processing power of Goldie’s navigation circuitry, it was mathematically impossible that they would enter the hyperspace lane at the proper microsecond and avoid careening off it into the unknown reaches of the galaxy.

It was impossible for a machine but Ayli nailed it.

By sheer force of will, she slammed the Goldrunner out of normal space and onto the cosmic highway that ran straight to Delos and their next trial.

Nix sagged in relief as they returned to the blue of hyperspace. Tie Fighters were fantastic attack craft, but, unless they’d been heavily modified, one thing they all lacked was a hyperdrive. No one would be pursuing them. They could breath easy.

“Who the hell was that!?” Ayli slammed her fist on the control panel and then punched it again. A piece broke off, and Ayli didn’t care, hitting the panel again as though it’s fragility was just another bellows to stoke her rage.

“Might not want to break our ship while we’re in hyperspace there Wensha,” Sali said.

Ayli whirled and growled at the pirate queen. Nix caught just a glimpse of Ayli’s eyes but it was enough to see how much they’d changed.

Yellow irises, ringed by fiery red.

Those were not the eyes of the woman she felt so comfortable, and warm, and safe with.

Those eyes spoke of danger. Or power, and rage, and an overwhelming desire for destruction.

Nix had never studied the Jedi or learned much about any Force tradition, but she could feel how monstrous the transformation was which was working inside Ayli.

Fear rose as a primal response.

Destroy Ayli it said. Remove the danger. Be safe.

She could move things with her mind.

Killing someone with it would be so easy.

Bodies were nothing but weak points, from throats to hearts to brains. Squeeze almost any part and problems ended.

She could have done it. Nix knew she had that kind of power now. But fear was something she was used to shoving aside. She’d been alone a lot, and so she’d been afraid a lot. So, instead of listening to her fear, she turned to her heart.

The last thing she ever wanted to do was hurt Ayli. 

Or give up on her.

Whatever it took, she wanted to reach her wife and help Ayli find her way back from the shadows which were swallowing her up.

“You did it. We’re safe,” she said, rising to stand beside Ayli. She didn’t hug or even touch Ayli this time though, sensing that with the whirlwind of emotions that was swirling through Ayli’s mind, the last thing she needed was more stimulation.

Ayli turned to her, hands bunched into fists which sagged and relaxed open as the spinning rage behind her eyes wound down into tiny ripples.

“Right. They can’t follow us, can they?” Ayli said, unstable but reclaiming her balance with each breath as she focused on Nix.

“Nope. With how they were flying around us, there’s no chance they were loaded down with a hyperdrive in addition to all the weaponry they were packing. There’s just not enough room,” Nix said, offering the details more as reassurance than an argument to support her claim.

“I still want to know who they were,” Ayli said, the fire had gone out of her words though and her eyes were back to their usual color.

“Those were some of the assassins I’ve been worrying about. I recognized their flying pattern. They’re some of the good ones,” Sali said. “And if they knew to wait for us there, you know there’s going to be others waiting for us around Dedlos too.”

“And they’ll be even better,” Zindiana said.

Nix breathed in and looked for where her intuition was telling her to go.


The next trial.

Where Ayli would need her even more.

And where death awaited.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.