She came storming into the cantina in a cloud of dark hair and even darker rage. The patrons of the seedy establishment in one of Mos Eisley’s worse neighborhoods, sank further into their drinks, determined, even more than usual, not to be noticed.
New Republic Intelligence insignia shined on her left breast, but the bar’s customers did not need its tell-tale label to tell them who she was. They all knew her, some because they had come into personal contact with her and come out the worst for it, others by reputation only. However it was, they all knew to stay away and pray to whatever gods they believed in that they were not her intended victim.
For someone who was only about a meter and a half, petite, with a very fine bone structure, she commanded a lot of respect. And for good reason, which became apparent when she approached the bar and kicked one of the stools out of her way. The unfortunate barstool went flying towards a tiny sullustan, who, to his credit, just squeaked and ducked.
The bartender was not so lucky. The look on his face was one of near terror as he watched this tiny human woman - was she human? no one knew for sure - make short work of his antique furniture. "I don’t want no trouble," he grunted, rubbing at the five o’clock shadow on his chin, as was his habit when stressed.
The woman’s black eyes narrowed. "Tell me where he is," she hissed, her voice sounding remarkably dark and resonating for so small a person.
The bartender shook his head and rubbed the dirty piece of cloth he was holding against the battered wooden top of the scarred bar, in a rather vain attempt to clean it of the fine layer of sand that permeated every crack on this Sith-forsaken planet. "Can’t help you, ma’am," he rasped, clearly fearing what may happen when his answer penetrated.
There was a bang and every patron in the cantina jumped, one or two knocking over their cheap drinks. The bartender cringed visibly. One petite and finely boned hand flew out in a flash and grabbed the unfortunate man by the front of his grease-stained suit. "Look," she said, pulling his face so that it was only millimeters from her own, "I want Jacsin Paalc’s whereabouts and I want them now."
He turned his head and squeezed his eyes shut, bracing for a blow he certainly expected. Still, he shook his head in a no. The woman snarled and wound her arm back, fully preparing to give him a good one to the jaw.
"Stop!" came an order from the darkest corner of the room. The woman tossed the bartender on the floor and whirled around to face this new threat.
"What?" she growled into the dark corner. The bartender and everyone else took this opportunity to scramble away, proof that the basic instincts of survival remain intact in everyone.
The man in the corner uncrossed his legs and leaned forward, bringing his head from the shadows; it didn’t do much good as his face remained hidden by the folds of his hood. He tisked slowly at her. "You betray that symbol that you wear." His voice was low and soothing, calming almost.
The woman tossed her black hair behind her shoulder and rested her hand on the blaster slung across her hip. The grin on her face was terrifying, predatory. "Come take it then."
The man glanced around to make sure that the bar was clear. Every patron had scrambled through the door, not bothering to down the last dregs of their cheap drinks; survival, after all, is ever so much more important. "Mia, what have you come to?" he whispered. The question was almost rhetorical.
Until this point, the woman had exerted a remarkable air of self-confidence. But with the man’s words, the thin outer shell of bravado started to crack. "Who are you?" she asked, grabbing defensively at her blaster. Now, stripped of her armor, she didn’t seem intimidating in the least. In fact, she looked anemic and frail. Dark circles rimmed her black eyes and there were faint streaks across her cheeks, unnoticeable at first because they, like everything else, had been covered by a thin layer of Tatooine sand. Still, to anyone who looked closely enough, they were visible. And the man had seen them despite the dim lighting of the bar.
He reached up and pulled his hood down. Even in the semi-darkness, what light there was glinted off of his pale blond hair. "Don’t you know me, Mia?"
If Mia had been showing signs of collapse before the man pulled his hood down, now she looked close to hysterics. "Luke!" she choked out. It was something between a cry of relief and a sob and Luke felt his heart wrench at the sound of beautiful, strong Mia making a sound that was so akin to that made by a desperate and dying animal.
"What has happened?" Luke asked her, rushing to her side in an effort to support her in case she fell.
The look that entered her eyes at that moment was more tragic than the noise that had escaped her lips just seconds before. She looked lost, startled, a million different things that he had never expected to see on her strong and determined countenance.
"Mia?" he repeated, placing a hand softly at the small of her back. It would brace her if she swayed; he couldn’t imagine her actually fainting; she was too strong for that.
She turned her head towards him as if she was in a trance and he did feel pressure as she swayed a bit into his hand. "He’s dead," was her simple response. Nonetheless, it spoke volumes to Luke. "Nothing is left….he is gone…..nothing can ever be the same….I can’t go on….I just can’t do it anymore…..I can’t…."
The words came out in a long string of broken phrases. "Mia." Luke raised his other hand to her mouth to stop the disjointed phrasings. "Who?"
The blank look didn’t change. "Bror," she said quietly, "he’s dead."
And then the unthinkable happened. Her dark eyes rolled up in her head and she slumped into Luke’s arms.
Continued in Part Two