Star Wars: Treasures of the Force – Ch 20

Ayli did not storm off the bridge. She exited in a controlled and decorous manner as befitted the captain of the ship. That little sparks of rage were still threatening to send her into a wild screaming fit was not a concern for anyone else. 

After all, she hadn’t screamed. 

Or drawn her blasters. 

And she certainly hadn’t picked up her light saber.

Because none of that was going to help anyone.

Arriving in her quarters, Ayli felt a wave of exhaustion wash over her and let herself sag against the wall for a moment.

What was she doing? Why was she so angry? That wasn’t her. She didn’t blow up at every minor setback. Nothing had even really gone wrong. Everyone was fine. The ship was fine. So why did she still want to hurt people so badly?

“I’m not like this,” she mumbled to herself, massaging her face with both hands. Another wave of emotional and physical exhaustion crashed over her. 

It wasn’t that bad though. She could carry on. She had to. The ship needed her.

“Can I come in?” Nix asked, her voice muffled by the closed door.

Like she needed to ask? It was her room too. How stupid was that? What kind of idiot would ask such a brainless…

Ayli felt a stab of fear run through her.

“That is not me!” she said, the spiral of her emotions became a war between shame at where her thoughts had been drifting and terror that she was losing control on a far more fundamental level than she’d guessed.

Nix stopped waiting.

“Hey,” she said and drew Ayli into a half hug, her hands on Ayli’s upper arms.

“Sorry,” Ayli mumbled.

“What for?” Nix asked. “You haven’t done anything wrong.”

“I…” How could she explain? I felt angry? I was cruel to you in my thoughts? I’ve let something awful inside me and its twisting me into a hate filled monster? 

Or had she been a hate filled monster all along? 

Maybe there wasn’t anything new here at all.

Maybe this was who she’d always been and she’d simply been hiding it because she’d been weak before.

Was that Ravas whispering in her ear?


She knew Ravas’ voice. There was no one dredging up doubts in her head. No one except herself.

“How many days did you spend worrying about me?” Nix asked, guiding Ayli towards the bed.

“Do we count the time before you got injured?” Ayli asked, trying to make a joke of it, but her fatigue crushed what little humor she was able to wrap around the words.

“Yes,” Nix said. She sat Ayli down on the edge of the bed and climbed behind her, her hands traveling from Ayli’s upper arms to the tops of Ayli’s shoulders. “Related question: how much sleep have you gotten while I was recovering?”

The massage Nix gave as she spoke moved from one ridiculously tense muscle to another.

“We took turns standing watch after we caught the first assassin,” Ayli said, not answering the actual question because she wasn’t sure she’d gotten any sleep at all since Nix had been hurt. No good sleep certainly.

“I really am sorry,” Nix said. “For getting hurt. For worrying you. I had a sense that something would happen on Lednon. I also had the sense that things would turn out okay though. It didn’t occur to me that ‘okay’ would include you being put through the ringer for a week.”

“I wasn’t the one who got hurt,” Ayli said. “I should be apologizing to you.”

“I pretty clearly recall that you did get hurt,” Nix said, digging her thumbs in to work out a particularly trying knot near Ayli’s spine.

“Not as bad as you did.” Ayli felt tension unwinding in more than just her shoulders.

“I didn’t have to endure a week of waiting and wondering if I’d managed to save you in time. Or if you were going to live but be damaged to the point that you couldn’t be put back together,” Nix said. “It’s not your fault that I was hurt…”

“I was the one…” Ayli tried to protest but Nix cut her off.

“I’m an adult. And I knew the risks. Better than you did in fact, though I didn’t quite appreciate that at the time,” Nix said. “We went in there together, and we were right to, and I would go in there again with you any day. We only got out of there because we were together.”

“Next time we might not,” Ayli said. It wasn’t a secret fear, but speaking the words aloud made it feel like they were even more likely to come true as a result.

“Maybe not,” Nix said. “That’s okay though isn’t it? Sometimes we’ll take risks and risks mean not being sure how things will turn out. What I am sure of, is that I want to face those risks with you.”

“You would be so much better off somewhere else though,” Nix said. “With someone else.”

“Definitely not,” Nix said, turning Ayli so that she was laying facedown on the bed, thereby giving easy access to Ayli’s back where even more tension had settled like a pile of bricks.

“I’m not good to be around right now,” Ayli said, the shame of her moment of condensation and rage towards Nix still stinging her even though it was starting to seem like she was blowing it out of proportion.

“You feel off balance right? A bit out of control?” Nix asked, focusing on the muscles at the bottom of Ayli’s shoulder blades.

“No,” Ayli said, because she felt a lot worse than that.

Though the massage was blunting that feeling somehow.

“You seemed to be pretty angry after we jumped,” Nix said, working a spot on Ayli’s back that seemed to have turned to granite. “And it was anger that let you fly like that, wasn’t it?”

Ayli’s shame swelled within her. Had she been that obvious? Or could Nix just see far too much of her.

“I…” Ayli started to say but faltered. She what? She had no idea how to explain what she was feeling.

“You were backed into a corner. After being hurt. After spending a week or more with worry chipping away at you. After skipping far too much sleep and probably missing too many meals if I’m guessing right. Oh, and you’ve also had the ghost of Ravas Durla picking away at your psyche probably since Lednon Three, assuming she wasn’t with us even earlier.”

“How do you know that?” Ayli asked.

“The Ravas bit?” Nix shrugged. “I can see her. I know that’s weird. Clearly no one else can or I think Sali and Z would be freaking out more, but I can see her plain as day. Well apart from how translucent she is.”

“You can see her? How?” Ayli asked, she wanted to sit up and have a face-to-face discussion with Nix but that would mean cutting the massage short and no power in the galaxy could convince Ayli that was a good idea.

“Honestly? I’m not entirely sure,” Nix said. “I guess I’ve been training myself to be aware of things, no, be aware of the Force I should say, for a long time now. It wasn’t until I met Kelda that it started to click though. Oh, and in the spire. I didn’t know I could use the Force to do that but I had to and so it just kinda happened.”

“Wait, who’s ‘Kelda’?” Ayli asked, twisting her head to glance back at Nix.

“A friend of Ravas. Her lover maybe?” Nix said. “Also a ghost. I’ve met her twice now. The first time I though I’d fallen asleep and dreamed it. The second time I was in whatever coma state I’ve been in for the last few days.”

“Is she like Ravas? What does she want to do to you?” Ayli asked, trying to imagine Nix having to hold off a ghost like she’d had to hold off Ravas.

“I don’t think she wants to do anything to me,” Nix said. “And she’d not like Ravas. I think she might probably have been a Jedi when she was alive. When she appears, there’s a calm aura about her. Ravas is sort of the polar opposite of calm.”

“Don’t let her tell you what to do,” Ayli said.

“She apparently can’t. She seems really keen on making sure I know to trust myself and what I can do. Which has helped a bit, believe it or not. As far as why she’s talking to me in the first place though?  I think she wants to save Ravas. Unless I missed my guess, I don’t think their history together is a happy one. I can’t fix that, but there’s got to be some way of making a brighter future for them, even if they’re both ghosts now.”

“Should Ravas be saved though?” Ayli asked. “She’s done terrible things. I’m sure of it. I can feel the memories of her hate lurking at the back of my mind.”

“I can’t say. Not yet anyways. I don’t know her story. I don’t know her. But I think I need to,” Nix said.

“Why would you want that?” Ayli asked, wondering if Nix’s attraction was limited to women who were secretly monsters in some manner.

“I think it’s what she needs,” Nix said, moving down to work on the muscles in the small of Ayli’s back.

“Why would you care though?”

“It’d be great to say it’s because caring is just the right thing to do, but, again, full honesty? I hate that she’s hurt you. It’s why I sorta smashed her into a wall the first time I saw her,” Nix said. “That was a gut reaction though, and not a great one. I think it’s the same gut reaction that Ravas has gotten her whole life. There’s more in there though. More to her. There’s someone who’s worth understanding.”

“Is that another Force power you have now?” Ayli asked, half joking but half uncertainly curious too.

“No. She’s incredibly closed off. I can’t read anything in her that she’s not clearly advertising so that I’ll stay away,” Nix said. “As for what’s behind those walls though, I’ve only got one thing to go on.”

“That she was tied up with the cult we’re looking for?”

“I don’t think that was her idea at all,” Nix said. “If any of them had been useful, she would have started haunting them the moment they touched her lightsaber.”

“That was probably a mistake, wasn’t it? I shouldn’t have done that?” Ayli asked.

“Much too soon to say,” Nix said. “Sure, it’s given us some trouble so far, but it also saved both of us.”

“Still, I probably shouldn’t be using it anymore,” Ayli said.

“Then don’t,” Nix said. “It’s an effective tool but it’s just a tool. If it changes how you approach situations though, then don’t bother with it. Or keep it around in case you need to cut open a stuck rations container or something. It would be amazing at that.”

“I’m serious. That thing is dangerous,” Ayli said.

“That’s good. We need dangerous things sometimes,” Nix said. “Blasters, for example, aren’t exactly safe but everyone on this ship except for me seems to be carrying at least two or three of them.”

“This is different,” Ayli said. “You’re right that I’ve been angry. Or even more than that. On the bridge? I was out of control. All I could feel with seething, blood red rage. I wanted…I wanted to hurt someone so badly.”

“And so you came here,” Nix said. “To calm down. To give yourself a chance to breathe and get control again.”

“I shouldn’t have had to. I shouldn’t have been like that.”

“You were like that. There’s no should have or shouldn’t have about it,” Nix said. “What’s important though is that for as out of control as you felt, you made the choice to come here. I think what you were dealing with there was more than just your own anger though. I think you tapped into the Force through the anger you were feeling and that got as empowered as your reflexes did. Even with the Force hyper-charging your rage though, your choices were still your own. And you made good ones.”

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to next time though,” Ayli said, feeling like she was confessing a secret so terrible that it had to drive everyone away. “I feel like everything’s getting worse. Like I’m going to lose myself into a mindless fury if I keep going like this.”

“We can turn back still,” Nix said. “No treasure in the galaxy is worth giving you up for.”

“We’ve come so far though.”

“And we have farther to go,” Nix said, sliding her hands up to the base of Ayli’s neck and then oh-so-gently down her lekku. “But that can be anywhere. We have the whole galaxy to explore, and all kinds of treasures we could find.”

Ayli shivered at the gentle touches on her lekku. With the tension draining from her muscles, the fatigue she felt was washing slowly over her and her eyes were growing heavy. She knew she shouldn’t fall asleep. There were things to do. Plans they had to make, but she felt so cozy and safe under Nix’s warm hands that those concerns began to float away.

“I don’t want to give up,” she said.

“Then let’s keep going,” Nix said. “Together.”

“I don’t want to be a monster.”

“Then let’s learn the right way to use these gifts we have,” Nix said, trailing her fingertips gently down Ayli’s back.

“Together,” Ayli said and let herself drift off at last.

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