Star Wars: Treasures of the Force – Ch 46

As close calls went, Ayli was having a hard time thinking of a time when she’d had less margin for error. In part that was because she was having a hard time thinking at all.

“Command craft, we have Cataclysm-class seismic activity reading from the surface directly below you,” Thirty-two called out. 

With the former Preservation League prisoners having been officially conscripted by the government of Calerpris, both sides of their current conversation had settled on calling the stolen cargo hauler that Ayli was piloting ‘Sali’s command craft’. It was a transparently thin ploy but that was all the commander of the New Republic’s fleet required to begin demobilizing his troops back to the far safer duty they’d originally been assigned to cover. 

“It’s not seismic activity,” Nix said.

“Looks pretty seismic from down here,” Sali said. She, Zindiana and Goldie were still trapped in the wrecked shell of the Goldrunner, which in turn was trapped in the tractor beam Ayli had caught them in. 

She’d managed to snug the Goldrunner up to the underbelly of the escape craft but that was doing nothing for its maneuverability.

“How long till your ready for docking?” Ayli asked. She had the Battle Cruiser in visual range but trying to land on a deck that wasn’t prepared for a tandem landing was an excellent method of destroying three ships for the price of one.

“We’re in position now,” Thirty-two said. “Stabilizers are fighting for control though. The techs say you won’t be able to land until things settle down.”

“We do not have the time,” Ravas said. “This will not settle down until the beast has arisen.”

And then they would be dead.

Ayli didn’t know what sort of creature lived inside a planet which had been swallowed by the Dark Side, but since it could apparently break continents she was reasonably sure it could break them as well.

“Tell the techs not to worry,” Ayli said . “And tell them to stand back.”

“Kelda, Ravas, I think we need to buy some time,” Nix said.

“That better not involve leaving this ship,” Ayli said.

“Nope. None of us are going to do that,” Nix said. “We are however going to draw its attention.”

“Isn’t that the last thing you should be doing?” Sali asked over the comm.

“Normally? Yes,” Nix said. “In this case though? That thing is so big it’s going to wipe us out without even thinking about it. So we can either be collateral damage right now or we can push back and buy ourselves some more time.”

“I vote for more time,” Zindiana said.

Ayli didn’t bother adding her voice to the vote. The escape craft had been designed to haul large amount of goods, not fly with any particular precision. Lining it up with the bobbling Battle Cruiser, which was only barely rated for atmospheric flight, was nerve wracking on a day when she was already well past the limits of her last nerve.

In the back of her throat she could feel a growl building. It was frustrating that she’d come this far and things still weren’t easy. With each dip and rise of the mad thermals around them, the urge to reach out and grab both ships hard enough to crush them into a stable flight grew stronger.

Crushing them would feel so damn good too.

She could hear the screams of the metal.

The screams of the people were even better. A salve to her frustration and a lesson to the world to avoid annoying her in the future.

“Somebody else needs to take the controls,” she said, pushing back before the rage that was still building in her could leak out.

“You can do this,” Nix said laying a hand on her should.

Because of course Nix thought she could do it. Why wouldn’t she? Everything was easy for the human. She played with the Force like it was an obedient little droid. For Nix the Force was a good little slave.

Ayli shook her head.

“I can’t,” she said. “I’m…”

“She’s still recovering,” Ravas said. “Now is not the time to push her.”

Which was both completely true and something Ayli instinctively reacted against.

“That’s my choice,” she said and grabbed the controls again.

“It is,” Ravas said. “Just as this is mine.”

Ayli caught the barest glimpse of the lightning in Ravas’ hand before the world flashed and went dark.


Waking up wasn’t something she did swiftly. Consciousness came back to her in small, and gentle waves, each one lapping closer to wakefulness than the last.

Ayli was aware that she was laying down before anything else. The next wave brought with it the sensation of soft, clean clothes and sheets around her. The next a sense of dim lighting and the warm pillow beneath her head.

Except it wasn’t a warm pillow.

Because pillows didn’t run their hands gently along your lekku and massage the tension from the muscles of her head, and neck, and face.

“You can rest more if you want,” Nix said.

Ayli let herself sag into Nix’s lap even further. Did she drift off for a minute? An hour? A year? She had no way of knowing except that Nix was still there with her when the next wave brought her further back to consciousness.

“What happened?” Ayli asked, unwilling to open her eyes just yet. “Where are we?”

“Technically the First Officer’s cabin on Sali’s flagship,” Nix said, “but they’re calling it the Honeymoon Suite because they think they’re clever.”

“What? How did we get here?”

“With some help from our friends,” Nix said but at Ayli’s frown continued. “Ravas kind of knocked you out, and then took over the ship controls while Kelda and I tried to keep the Beast away from us.”

“I’m guessing that worked?”

“Right up until the point where Ravas suffered a rapid case of ‘I’m a corpse powered by the Dark Side and you just flew me off the Dark Side planet.”

“She’s dead?” Ayli asked, feeling surprisingly unhappy about that given that Ravas had just electrocuted her.

“She’s been dead since we met her,” Nix said. “Her weirdly preserved body is simply back to being an inert lump like dead bodies are supposed to be.”

“So how did you land the ship?” Ayli asked, knowing this couldn’t be the afterlife given how heavy and lethargic she felt.

“Turns out being away from the planet of Dark Side misery made things a like easier to move with the Force,” Nix said. “Kelda did most of the work there, though even with the two of us working on it I’m afraid neither ship is exactly in operational condition at the moment.”

“How non-operational are they?” Ayli asked and quickly added, “And what about Goldie? Did she make it out?”

“Oh, yeah, Goldie’s fine. She’s hooked up to the Battle Cruiser now, though we should get her out of their before all those armaments start giving her bad ideas.” Nix was still lightly massaging Ayli’s head and added “A question for you though; how are you feeling now?”

“Tired. Like I was hit by a lifter, the heavy grav kind,” Ayli admitted, not wanting the tender care she was receiving to end.

“Ravas wanted me to extend her apologies on that,” Nix said. “She said you’d understand when you woke up.”

“Think I haven’t woke up yet then,” Ayli said.

“She said your heart would be clearer now than before,” Nix said.

Ayli focused on her emotions and found them as tired as she was. She could have called up rage as easily as she’d learned to mask it, or she could have on any other day. However long she’d slept, it had been enough to let the all consuming anger with her die away to cold embers.

In her memories she could still taste the power anger had offered her, could feel the gravitic draw it exerted on her thoughts, but those sensations had the advantage of distance. 

And of being gently massaged away by a pair of caring hands.

“She was right,” Ayli said. “I think…I think I was losing myself again there.”

“I think Ravas is familiar with that,” Nix said. “I think Kelda is too.”

“But not you,” Ayli said. It wasn’t a question or an accusation, though it had subtle shades of each.

“I know we’re already married, but we probably need to get to know each other a lot better,” Nix said with a small laugh. “I don’t think I’m quite what any of you think I am.”

“You’re not the beautiful, kind woman who’s pulling me back from toxic Dark Side poisoning by refusing to give up on me even when I try to hit you with Force Lightning?” Ayli asked.

“Not giving up on you doesn’t make me kind. You’re who I want to be with. I’m nothing but greedy for you,” Nix said. “If I’m managing to be kind, it’s a learned response, not a natural one.”

“You seem pretty adept at it to me,” Ayli said.

“It’s easy with you,” Nix said.

“Why?” Ayli asked. “I’m not saying I have any objections, but why be so interested in me? We more or less stumbled together randomly. Does who I am really matter?”

“Do you really think our meeting was random?” Nix asked.

Ayli narrowed her eyes, unsure of what she was hearing.

“Wait, did you arrange that?” she asked.

“Me? No. I was drunk out of my gourd,” Nix said. “But you’ve seen how the Force works. You’ve felt how it guides us.”

“Okay, that sounds even crazier. The Force wanted us to hook up? Is it a dating service now too?”

Nix chuckled at that and bent over to press a kiss to Ayli’s forehead.

“No, come on, you’ve felt how it works. The Force isn’t some vast mastermind. It’s the energy of the connections between all of us. We are the Force and when we use to to do things, we’re using something that we’re a part of.”

“I don’t get how that isn’t either you or the Force playing matchmaker?” Ayli said.

“Because it wasn’t me or the Force, it was me and the Force and you,” Nix said. “I was alone when we met. More than just between crews, or between jobs. I’d broken up with Sali a while back and I didn’t have anyone else really. No one who I fit with, or who needed me. I think the same was true for you right?”

“Yeah, but I’d been like that for a while.”

“And we both reached out,” Nix said. “I think in our hearts we asked the world to bring us to the someone we would fit with.”

“It can’t be that easy,” Ayli said. “We’d have found each other much sooner if all we needed to do was yearn for it.”

“Has any of this been easy?” Nix asked. 

“Yes,” Ayli said. “Oh, this whole trip has been hell, but you? You’ve been impossible not to…” 

She cut herself off at ‘fall in love with’, unsure if Nix was ready to hear those words yet.

“I love you too,” Nix said. “At least as much of you as I’ve seen so far. There’s a lot more to both of us though.”

“More that we won’t love?” Ayli asked.

“Probably. I definitely don’t love all of my parts,” Nix said. “But those parts aren’t the whole story of who I am or who you are, and loving you is a choice I’ll make based on all of whole you are, not just the worst bits.”

“You don’t know how bad the worse bits are yet though,” Ayli said.

“Yeah, but I know who you’ve made yourself with and in spite of them,” Nix said. “And that counts more than anything else.”

“Is it? Ayli said. “Because I might have made myself into as much of a monster of the Dark Side as Ravas did.”

“If you need to be a monster, then I’m going to make sure you’re my monster,” Nix said. “But I won’t let you hurt yourself like that. Not for me, and not for anyone else. Like I said, I love you Ayli’wensha and if that means I need to Force Lightning you into unconscious again, you better believe I’ll do it.”

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