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First Draft Fridays #6 — Back To The Past (Star Wars story part two)

Think about all the characters in all the books you've read. Do you have a clear picture of a few? If you do, start contemplating not their strengths, but their flaws. Were they originally cowards? Slow to trust? Manipulative? Selfish? Belligerent? Insensitive? The list of potential flaws goes on and on—and those are just character traits or personality quirks. What about something more deeply rooted, like an old injury, a disability, or nagging trauma? Individuals shouldn't be belittled for being hung-up on these issues. Everyone has demons, some self-inflicted, many not, and it is by accepting and challenging them that we grow past who we are now. What's most important about these traits is that they make characters interesting. Hyper-competent characters like Sherlock Holmes work for stories that are focused on an external trial, like a mystery, but most tales benefit from dynamic protagonists who develop along with their adventures. The best source of this growth is conflict—often with one's own flaws. And when these internal flaws are directly challenged by external events, that growth is all the more compelling to a reader. So it is with Aisha, who may find her past isn't buried as deeply as she would prefer . . . NOTE: Written in 2014. For excerpts from the Divinity's Twilight universe, read the samples in the "Online Library" tab or "Side Story: Ahrs."

PART TWO: "Your flying could use some work"

5 Years Later, 10 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin - Star Wars Episode 4)

The jerking deceleration unceremoniously flung Aisha from the upper bunk in their crew quarters where, until an instant prior, she had been fast asleep. With milliseconds between her and a rough reintroduction to the metal floor below, she thrust out her hands and halted her fall with an invisible layer of cushioning. Inches from the ground, she concentrated, feeling the Force flow through her body and into the air molecules around her…before with a second, smaller gasp, the ship spasmed and threw her into the nearby bulkhead.

“Master, I thought we agreed not to come out of hyperspace so suddenly! What happened to slowly backing down the engines?”

Aisha picked herself off the floor and gingerly rubbed the shoulder that had struck the wall. No permanent damage. She wiped strands of her long, black hair from her eyes and stretched her body to its full height. Once considered short for her age, she was now almost as tall as her instructor, though still lithe and thin like she’d always been. Stretching her muscles to shake off lingering fatigue, Aisha’s green eyes scanned the chronometer mounted above the room’s single exit. 22:26 GST, about six hours of sleep. She’d had that dream again, the one about the day she first met her master, but aside from that it was better rest than most of her recent nights. After contemplating the nature of the dream for the umpteenth time—since, as Sirhc had told her, the nightly musings of Force users often held deeper meaning—Aisha waved open the door and stepped into the vessel’s central corridor.

From the fore of the ship, where an open cockpit ended with a glass canopy and a view of the stars, her Master, Jedi Knight Sirhc Rulless, answered in a jovial tone. “We also agreed not to yell about our problems, at the top of our lungs, after forgetting that we left the intercom system in our room on.”With an unseen reddening of her cheeks, Aisha glanced back through the open door to see the intercom flashing green. Since the sound from that transmitted throughout the ship and directly into the headset her master was wearing…she'd probably all but blew his eardrums out.

“Apologies, master,” she managed, grabbing a tie for her hair from the shelf before heading forward to sit beside him in the copilot’s chair. Aisha flipped her hair back into a ponytail before the inevitable continuation, “But, if you were a little more careful with your hyperspace calculations or your piloting, I wouldn’t have to practice saving myself from ramming into the wall, floor, or various other protrusions using the Force every time I wake up.”

He glanced over at her and grinned. “I concede you the point, though practice is important. Maybe I send the ship into a gravity well every time you’re sleeping just to test your reflexes…or to make sure you’ll actually wake up.”

“Touché.”Aisha reached forward and grabbed two ration bars from a compartment directly between them and underneath the instrument panel. She passed one to Sirhc and began absentmindedly working through her own. The breakfast of champions, or, in their case, the fastest, most convenient, and cheapest they could get.

“Of course, the old girl doesn’t make piloting very easy. I swear half the systems are broken and the other half are held together with Naboo swamp paste. It shows how important the Council thinks our missions are that they don’t give us a better ship.” Aisha snorted around a bite of her ‘meal.'In truth, the small, and in exile, UREC (Unknown Region Exploration and Colonization mission) Jedi Council cared deeply about each and every one of its remaining members. As far as they were aware, there were less than two score Jedi left in both their care and the galaxy at large. After Order 66, some ten years prior, the Jedi had nearly gone extinct, with only UREC, a group dispatched by the official Jedi Council during the Clone Wars for the mapping and exploration of the unknown regions, surviving that horrific purge due to ignorance of their existence. Aisha knew far more about the history of the Jedi Order than the average Padawan, since her master was one of the remaining historians and data experts, but considered most of it insufferably boring. She’d much rather practice her Force and martial arts or train with her lightsaber, since those skills actually mattered in the long run.

With a loud pop, the cabin lights went out and red emergency lights lit up angrily throughout the cockpit and hall behind them. Sirhc threw a couple of switches on a panel to his left before giving up and returning both hands to the steering yoke. “Seeing what we’re doing isn’t that important, right? Just something else to fix when we finally get her back into the shop.” The old YT-100 freighter given to them by the Council was condemned during the Clone Wars and had probably still been a rust bucket back when Revan had been both a Sith Lord and Jedi Master. But she had a hyperdrive, two turbolaser turrets in the roof and belly, a crew quarters, workshop, and a crazy half dismantled assassin droid named HK-47 that came with the package.That last one really shouldn’t be listed as a positive, Aisha reflected, grabbing the toolkit from the overhead bin and heading aft to check on the central power supply. In retrospect, having a bunch of tools in an overhead bin also probably wasn’t a good idea, given how many G’s the ship seemed to pull on a regular basis. But…one problem at a time.

As she walked, bent over in some places due to pipes and wires spliced erratically wherever there was space for them, she talked to her master over the shipboard intercom. “So what’s the mission for today? More supply running for the Tjiilari refugees we’ve been working with?”

She could hear him fidgeting with the navicomputer as he responded.The keys of that particular device tended to stick, so using it wasn’t so much a matter of typing as physically pounding in the desired coordinates. “No. We’ll be returning to the Outer Rim to briefly link up with an old friend—A Jedi friend—who acts as sort of an…informant, or spy, for us.Gives us a little more heads up on how the wind might blow out here. Anyway, we’ll be meeting him, getting his information, loading up on supplies, and then jetting back this way. In fact, Masters Blanco and Cirone will also be there in the old Nebulon-B doing the same.”

“What planet? Maybe something tropical for once? If I get any pastier I’ll look like one of those Force ghosts you’ve told me about.” Aisha giggled a little as she stopped near the rear boarding ramp and removed a small wall panel to her right. Inside was a mass of tangled wires, some labeled, some not, and almost all of the writing incomprehensible. From long hours of practice, she grabbed two wires, red and blue respectively, near the back, pulled them until she found where they were—poorly—joined, and then grabbed a length of soldering wire from the toolkit. Holding it against the frayed segment with the Force, she touched the soldering iron to the spot, let the sparks fly, and then stood back to admire her handiwork. With a flicker, and a warm feeling of pride in her chest, the hallway lights came back on.

The whole process had taken thirty seconds, and yet her master hadn’t answered her.She trudged back to the front with toolkit in tow. “Didn’t you hear me, master? What planet are we going to?”

Sirhc turned his chair around to face her, compassion and a little worry written on his features. “I wasn’t sure how to tell you, Aisha. I’m sure you’ll be fine—in fact I know you’ll be fine—but it’s probably not a place you have the fondest memories of. Our contact set it up, so we can’t change it, but you can always stay on the ship if you’ll feel better.” He gestured at the images on the navicomputer, as though to save himself the burden of naming the place out loud. Aisha glanced at the name, in Basic, floating on the device, and felt her heart sink in her chest.

Nar Shadaa.

Oh boy. At least that explains the dreams.

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