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Across the Stars

Chapter Text

“Yasha…”

The fog was thick, a muddled blue-grey colour that flashed dangerously with energy. With a sharp crackle of lightning, the last trooper slumped to the ground.

“Yasha…”

Blood covered her forearms, sticky and drying, pulling on her skin as she lifted her hands to look at them. Her lightsaber, usually a glinting silver, was resting in her right palm, covered in red handprints. All around her, bodies littered the ground, some still smoking from cauterised holes and electrocuted skin. Others were covered in blood, trickling from ears, eyes, and half-healed wounds. She looked up, as a pair of familiar and haunting yellow and red irises looked down at her through the thickening fog

“Yaaasha...”

Something tugged on her chest, and suddenly she was pulled towards the eyes at lightspeed, the edges of her surroundings blurring into streaks. The piles of corpses littering the ground faded behind her, until only the eyes remained. They pierced through the darkness and the fog, hungry and searching. She tried to look away, but couldn't turn her head, couldn't move at all under the gaze of those eyes. Her eyes.

“Yaaaaashaa…”

---

Beauregard scowled, itching at the hairs pulled tightly across her scalp. “So let me get this straight. You guys promise to take me to Nar Shaddaa, where you're flying to anyway, and in exchange for safe passage with no questions asked, I—out of the goodness of my heart—help you with a job.”

“Yep.”

“And it's still gonna cost me 1000 credits???”

“Yes ma’am.”

Beau slumped back in her chair in disbelief. “That's fucking theft.”

The Mirialan man shifted in his seat, leaning his arms on the table.“Now the way I see it,” he drawled, “you offered a fair trade of your services for passage on our ship. The 1000 credits? That's half for the 'no questions asked’ part, half for insurance in case this job goes south. You wanna hire professionals, you gotta pay at professional rates.”

A Wroonian woman who had been ordering at the tapcaf counter sat down at the table with a plate piled haphazardly with pastries. She immediately stuffed one in her mouth, and started to shove the rest into her satchel.

“Professionals, right…” Beau looked askance at the two aliens sitting across from her.

The Mirialan hissed at his partner, “Jester! We talked about this.”

“Hmpf? Oh, yes!” She swallowed half her pastry and continued to talk around the other half. “Whatever rate Oskar told you is totally fair, we aren't super cheap people y'know.”

Beau felt a slight pressure on her mind and shook her head slightly, frowning. Whatever she was sensing, the walls in her mind stayed firmly in place. The woman, Jester, was looking at her expectantly. She narrowed her eyes suspiciously at the two of them. No fucking way, just my luck. “You tryna pull some shit on me? You think I'm an idiot? Listen, you guys are going to Nar Shaddaa with a light load, you said so yourself. You're desperate, you're obviously strapped for cash. Here’s my final offer: I do the job for you, plus 250 credits. Take it or I'll find someone else.”

Oskar gave Jester a questioning look. Jester frowned a little and shook her head. He opened his mouth to speak, but the Wroonian woman beat him to it. “Deal!”

Oskar hid his face in one of this hands. “Damnit, Jester.”

“I don't know who this Jester person is you keep talking about, my name is Genevieve,” she said pointedly, fluttering her eyes at Oskar.

The Mirialan man tinged a slight teal under his yellow-green skin and cleared his throat, turning his attention back to Beau. “Now that we're going to be partners, if you will, my actual name is Fjord, and this is Jester. We'll see you at Docking Bay 17 in about two hours. Look for the blue and pink XS freighter, can't miss it.”

“Pink?”

Fjord's eye twitched. “It uh, got a hull repair recently. Apparently the parts were only available in pink.” He gave Jester a side-eye, but she just grinned innocently at him and Beau, wiping a few crumbs from her mouth.

Beau stood up, rolling out her stiff shoulders. “Well, Jester and Os—Fjord, seems we have a deal. I'll see you in a couple hours.” She grabbed her ornate staff from where it leaned against the table. “You better not fuck me over.” She slung the staff over her shoulder by its strap, and shoved her hands deep into her pockets. She gave them a final nod, and disappeared through the bright light of the open doorway.

---

Fjord watched the human woman leave, and turned to his partner. “I don't know if I trust her. She seems kinda dodgy, don't ya think?”

Jester looked thoughtfully at the doorway. “I don't think anyone who didn't have something to hide would ask us to transport them somwhere. They wouldn't have a reason to hire us, would they? Besides, everything she told us was the truth.”

“Are you sure? I mean, what was that earlier, your trick usually works.”

“Of course I'm sure, that's why I said yes, silly. And my 'trick' always works on humans, unless…" She looked thoughtfully down at her sticky hands, and shook her head slightly. "Anyway, she seems pretty mysterious, right?” Jester grinned at Fjord. “I have a good feeling about her. Don't worry, it'll be fun.” She started to lick the icing off of her fingers, waggling her eyebrows suggestively at her partner.

Fjord sighed. “Why is it every time you say that, all I end up with is a deep sense of regret?”

--- 

The street was filled with vendors of a colorful variety of goods, yelling over each other for the attention of the wide variety of aliens who filed passed the booths. Smoke burned at Beau’s eyes, and the smell of roasted meats and spices clung to the air. She brushed up against a cart, and casually lifted a piece of fruit from the corner. Stretching out with her senses, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The fruit merchant wasn't particularly interested in her presence. Excellent.

She wound her way through the crowd, munching on a tangy bite of her new-found lunch, when her danger sense prickled on the back of the head. With a little stutter in her step, Beau casually made a sweep of the street behind her. It felt like there were eyes on her, but she couldn't pin down anyone suspicious in the crowd. Shitshitshit. Taking a few more casual steps, she dodged around a large cart in front of her, and slipped into the next alley. Fuck, she really did not need this bullshit today. She slouched behind some crates and closed her eyes, consciously slowing down her breathing. In her mind’s eye, she focused on squishing down her presence in the Force as much as possible, until it sat like a small cold sphere in her chest. She wiped her sweaty hands on her tunic, fidgeting nervously with the seams along the edge. After a few tense minutes, the sense of danger eased away, and she let out a long exhale of relief.

She slid along the wall and peaked around the corner, half expecting her danger sense to go crazy. Everything seemed just as she had left it, the crowds of people continuing to flow as usual. Beau pulled up her hood and shouldered into the crowd, making her way towards the hangar bays.

---

Mollymauk stretched out lazily, propping up his feet on the table. A few bolts fell off and rolled around the floor before Yasha could catch them.

"Molly.”

“Hmm?” The Keshiri didn't look up from his datapad.

“I’m not done putting my blaster together.”

“Oh, sorry,” he said absently, slowly lifting his legs off the table and back onto the floor. The room went silent as Yasha slid off the bench and went hunting on the ground for the runaway pieces. After a few minutes she had managed to find two of the three. Laying half on the floor, she stretched to poke her head under the table.

“Molly.”

“Hmmmm?”

“Lift your left foot.”

“Of course, dear.”

“Your other left foot.”

She trapped the bolt and slid it out from under Molly's boot safe into her palm with the other two. With a satisfied sigh, she climbed out from under the table and sat back down on the bench. Screwing the last few bolts into place, she snapped the components of her heavy repeating blaster back together. Before she popped the energy cell back into place, she hefted the blaster to point at a crumpled stack of Molly's clothing. With a ghost of pressure, the hair trigger gave a satisfying click and snapped back into position at twice the speed of her old trigger. Yes, this would work much better. She pulled the safety and slid the energy cell into its designated slot.

“Done now.”

Molly finally looked up from his datapad and grinned. He leaned his elbows on the table and propped his head on his hands. “Excellent, now I can finally deliver the good news. Gustav has a new contract for us.”

“Oh?” It'd been two weeks without news, and Yasha was getting restless. There were only so many times she could clean and upgrade her equipment without actually being able to take it all out for a test run. Without much else to do on the ship, she'd started itching for a good fight, or hells, even just an opportunity to breath air that wasn't recycled. “So who's the bounty?”

Excitement glittered in Molly's red-tinted eyes. “It's not anyone spectacular or important, but, on the plus side, we're finally going back to Nar Shaddaa!”

Chapter Text

'Blue and pink’ had been a gross understatement. From where Beau stood, the bright pink parts of the ship seemed to burn straight through her corneas. The seams where blue and pink metal met were haphazardly welded together, the colors meeting in a patchwork of thick grey lines. It was hard to tear her eyes away from the horrific sight.

“She's a beauty, ain't she?” Fjord asked her.

“It looks like a kid ate too much candy and then threw up on a piece of shitty space garbage.”

Fjord raised his eyebrows at her, an incredulous look on his face.

“Oh..I mean, shit...uh, yeah, it’s...definitely, totally, uh…..great?” Beau forced a painful smile.

Fjord stared at her for a long moment, Beau’s smile frozen in place. Suddenly, he burst out laughing, covering his face with his hands. “That’s…” he wheezed, “that’s the worst lie...I've ever heard.” He dissolved into laughter.

The tips of Beau's ears burned red hot. “Yeah, fuck off,” she growled. She stomped off towards the ship.

“Hey, wait a sec!” Fjord called after her, but she flicked her middle finger behind her and kept walking with a huff of annoyance. Lying was so much easier when the Force practically guaranteed that people would believe you no matter what you said. Having to be convincing with your lies was fucking difficult. Faking being nice for no reason? So much worse.

The ramp to the freighter was lowered, and Jester was at the bottom, loading crates onto a hoversled. She was talking animatedly, dropping boxes to wave her hands in large dramatic gestures. Beside her, a small astromech droid beeped quietly in response as it scanned and locked the cargo. “...and then Oskar leans over her, shielding her from the arrows, and picks her up in his super muscly arms!” The astromech droid gave an inquisitive whistle. “Of course it hurt, but he loves Genevieve too much to let anyone hurt her!”

Beau cleared her throat awkwardly. “Uh, is it ok if I just get on, or is there like a specific room for me or…”

“Oh Beau, you're here early.” Jester tapped the astromech droid affectionately on the head. “Kiri can show you to your bunk. It's a little crowded but we don't usually have guests, so you know, find a space, make yourself at home, get comfy.”

“You named the droid Kiri?” Beau glanced at the astromech. It squawked back indignantly.

“Her name is actually K1-R1, but Kiri is so much cuter...” Kiri whistled and beeped in what sounded almost like a pointed cough. “...and totally badass.” Kiri flung out a prong from one of her compartments and beeped cheerfully. Jester readily translated, “She kills people!” The prong lit up with a snappy electric energy, as if to highlight the point.

“Okayyyy…” Beau nodded warily, palms forward in a defensive position. “Lead the way, I guess?” The droid pulled the prong back into her compartment and rolled up the ramp, Beau following behind at a safe distance. The inside of the ship was more muted than the outside. The furniture seemed well used, and worn around the edges. There were dozens of scuff marks on the floors, and some scorch marks on the walls and ceiling. Several wall panels were permanently ripped from their frames to reveal wiring that had been welded and taped together more than once. Kiri led her through the boarding room of the ship and down a hallway that curved to the left. A few doors down was an open entryway that led to a room with two sets of bunked beds and a table shoved into the corner. The first set of bunk beds had been stripped of mattresses and sheets to be used as storage, with boxes and a few pieces of clothing crammed into the corner. On the other set, the bottom bunk was covered in a colorful blanket and so many pillows it was hard to imagine someone was able to fit on the mattress. The table was covered in paper, art utensils, and datapads, and a dress hung over one of the chairs. Along the walls, doodles were hung up haphazardly, seeming to mostly depict Fjord and Jester on various adventures.

Beau stepped cautiously into the room. She supposed the unoccupied top bunk was hers to claim now. Behind her, Kiri whistled a soft goodbye, and rolled back down the hallway. The door slid shut with a shudder and a click. Beau tossed her stick carelessly in a corner, and rolled her shoulders a few times. Jumping up against the frame a bit, she grabbed the upper rail of the bunk and lifted herself up to sit on the top. She gave the bed an experimental bounce. The mattress wasn't too hard, and it was certainly nicer than what she was used to back at the Temple. At the foot of the bed was a small shelf, and she stuffed her satchel and outer robe inside. With that, she was all settled in. It was one of the few things Beau was thankful to the Jedi for teaching her, the art of living simple. It was easier to peace out of a bad situation when everything she owned was already in her bag. No attachments, right?

Beau leaned back and stretched out on the bed. Her body settled into the mattress and her muscles started to relax. She closed her eyes and rubbed at the tension that had built at her temples. The ship began to rumble with the sound of repulser lifts kicking on as the ship started to slowly lift into the sky. No going back now, she thought drily.

Honestly, what the fuck had she gotten herself into here? Fjord and Jester were enigmas to her so far, and despite having heard of their small but growing reputation for getting the job done, she wasn't incredibly confident in their abilities at this point. The ship was so garrish, it was likely to be easily recognized on every major planet in the galaxy. Now she was going to be stuck on said ship for a week with the weird smugglers and their cheerful murder droid. Wonderful. Just wonderful. Force willing, the job they had in mind wouldn't be too complicated. Complicated was the last thing Beau needed right now.

---

An hour later, the ship was comfortably in hyperspace, and Kiri was keeping watch over the autopilot. Jester walked back to her quarters, a spring in her step despite the long day. When she opened the door, she saw her new bunkmate sprawled asleep on the top bunk. Her hair was falling out of her messy bun, and a bit of drool had pooled at the corner of her partially open mouth. Jester giggled to herself. As badass as Beau tried to act, the way she slept was totally adorable. Jester hastily grabbed a few pieces of paper and a set of colored inks from the table and stuffed them into her satchel.

Jester hit the panel for the door and quietly slipped out again. Two doors down was the medical bay, which consisted of a bed, a bench, and a supply cabinet. Jester closed and locked the door and spread out her paper and inks on the medical bench. She sat down, pulled out a glowing metal dodecahedron and set it next to her. Pen in hand, she started to sketch Beau, asleep and drooling, as the glow brightened. She glanced over at it, excitement twinkling in her eyes. “Traveller, are you there? It's me, it's Jester! You'll never guess what happened to me today...”

---

“Darling, I say this with all the love I have in my heart, but you look tired as shit.”

Yasha startled out of her thoughts and looked up from her hands to find Mollymauk’s face not a foot from her own. He was smiling at her, but something about his expression was off. Is it sadness? she wondered. There's not much that makes him sad...maybe it's just concern? She stared at his face blankly for a few moments, not sure how he wanted her to respond.

“Yasha? What's going on?” Molly’s smile had slipped into something she was more familiar with. She flicked her sight up to his eyes just to make sure. Yes, this was his 'curious and cautious’ face. This was a much more familiar expression, she knew how to deal with it.

‘Knowing how’ and ‘being able to’ were very different things, however. Say something, anything. She looked down at her hands again, tracing the creases with her eyes. “I'm…..it's...it's nothing. I'm fine.” She winced. Great job, now he'll know for sure something’s wrong, she thought sourly.

Molly raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure there's nothing you want to tell me?”

Yasha nodded slowly and clenched her fists. “It's ok, I'm mission ready. My head's in the game.” She tried to smile. “Y’know, the bounty hunting...game,” she finished lamely. She shook her head tightly to herself. “That was a bad one,” she mumbled.

“It's alright,” Molly said, shooting her a brilliant smile. “You can tell me anything you want, whenever you're ready, no pressure.” Yasha opened her mouth to protest, but he anticipated her waving his hand dismissively. “I know, I know, nothing's wrong, you're fine, ready to work…” He leaned forward to kiss her forehead and then stood up, robe swirling around him. He paused in the doorway to the cockpit to look back at his partner. “Yasha, you know you're worth lots more to me than just how well you fight, right? We're friends. I care about how you feel and how you're doing, not just how you do on the job.” He was silent for a moment, brow furrowed in thought. “You should be worth more than that to yourself too, yeah?”

Yasha closed her eyes—the thick ooze of blood on her hands, the acrid smell of burned flesh— and opened them again with a short inhale. She looked up at Molly, at his neck, where a few feathers from his tattoo curled under his jawline. “Yeah, sure.”

---

4 Standard Days Later

Beau awoke with a start, falling out of her bed as the ship lurched to the side. She stuck her hands out and called on the Force to prevent herself from hitting the ground, but a second jolt knocked her into the wall and she slammed onto the floor. Her face exploded in pain. “Son of a bitch!” she spat out. Reaching up, she touched the bridge of her nose tentatively and hissed as it flared with pain. Her hand came away bloody, and she cursed under her breath. She pushed herself off the floor and sat down heavily, cradling her bloody face.

Jester’s bed was empty as usual, but the pillows had been rearranged. When does that girl sleep? Beau had enough time to wonder before the ship shook again and the sounds of laserfire reached her ears. She sighed, and tried to focus on pouring healing energy into her hands, touching her nose lightly. Nothing happened. Beau gritted her teeth, and set her hands more firmly around her nose. She took a deep breath in, and abruptly pressed downwards. It set back into place with a crunch, and Beau winced against the sharp twinge of pain. She took a second to breathe and let the pain recede. Feeling along the line of the bridge of her nose, she noted it seemed to be mostly straight now, if still tender. Getting to her feet, she wiped her face on her sleeve, and punched the door panel.

The hallway was lit with dim red emergency lights, and she could hear Fjord yelling something from the cockpit. More laserfire sounded, and the ship shuddered a bit. Beau jogged down the corridor to the central room, which was hazy with smoke. She tried to wave at it with her arm and coughed at the tangy metal smell that hung in the air. “What the…? Fjord! Jester?” she called out, looking around her. Out of the smoke to her left, sparks glowed for a moment, illuminating the round dome of Kiri working on a panel. She looked at Beau and gave a frantic whistle before turning back to her work, tools zapping as she soldered together wires. Beau kept going towards the cockpit, throwing a stabilizing hand against the cool metal of the wall as she walked.

Fjord was seated in the pilot seat, sweat shining on his brow and dripping down his temples. He grit his teeth as he jerked the controls and guided the freighter into a tight upward climb, before leveling out and banking to the left. As the ship righted itself, Beau looked out the viewport and sucked in her breath. In the blackness of space in front of them, two Republic cruisers were pulled up parallel to an Imperial dreadnought. In between the large spacecraft, smaller ships swarmed each other in waves, with explosions igniting all across the battlefield. Beau gripped the head of the co-pilot seat with sweaty palms. “What the fuck, Fjord, this wasn't part of the plan!”

Fjord hastily wiped his brow with his forearm. “It came out of nowhere, pulled us out of hyperspace. Now we just gotta stay alive long enough for Kiri to get our systems up and runnin’. How do you feel about—” His inquiry was cut off by a burst of static from the comms system. A crisp voice came over the channel. “...Unidentified Starship, I repeat, this is the Imperial dreadnought Scream of Ragnos, identify yourselves and prepared to be boarded. All personnel aboard your ship must—” Fjord slammed the toggle on the comms, shutting off the communication. He looked up at Beau with a slight grin. “How well can you handle yourself in a turbolaser turret? Jester’s already manning the port guns, maybe you can help out in the central turret.”

Beau stared at him, a little overwhelmed at the scene unfolding around her. “Uhh…”

“Great!” He turned his attention back to the scene in front of him, and gripped the controls with a tight look of concentration on his face. “The hatch is right behind us,” he tossed over his shoulder. “Make sure you buckle up, it's gonna be one hell of a ride.”

---

An Hour Later

Beau peeled herself out of the chair crammed into the turret, and practically fell down the hatch back into the main hallway. She lay down at the bottom, enjoying the coolness of the metal flooring against her flushed skin and aching back. Turning her head to press her cheek into the floor, she groaned at the relief the cooling sensation brought.

Above her, Jester jumped off of the ladder and landed a scant two inches from Beau's face. She looked down at the human’s sprawled body with a twinkle in her eye. “If you need some alone time with the floor, I'll give you two some privacy.” Then she frowned, and bent down next to Beau. “Beau, your face, it's covered in blood! What happened?”

Beau reached a hand up to her face to wipe underneath her nose. A smear of sweat and blood came off on her sleeve. “Oh, that. My nose found a wall earlier, it's nothing.”

Jester tutted and wrapped an arm around Beau’s shoulders. “Sit up and I can look at in the medical bay. It looks swollen, it could be broken or something, y’know. You wouldn’t want it to heal all crooked and stuff.”

Beau braced her hand on Jester's shoulder. “No, it's fine, really. I'm good, it was just a little bump, no big deal.” She looked at the Wroonian above her, her blue skin covered in sweat, wisps of hair plastered to her skin. “I think what we both need is a good shower. And after that, I'm gonna drown myself in some of that Corellian ale you've got.”

Jester pursed her lips. “Fine, but make sure you put some bacta on your face if it starts to hurt.” She tilted her head, and smirked. “Also, there's only one shower. Do you want to go first, or would you maybe want some company…” A strangled noise came from  Beau's throat as she stared at Jester, eyes wide. Jester burst into a fit of giggles at Beau's horrified expression. “You should see your face right now, Beau.” Beau looked away, her cheeks starting to heat up again. “It's ok, having needs is nothing to be ashamed about. We're on a small ship, I know the real reason you've been working out for hours every day in the engine room.” She winked at Beau. “If you're into something more unique, there's a couple places on Nar Shaddaa I can recommend, I'm sure it would do you some good.” Jester poked Beau’s cheek. “Loosen you up a bit, hmm?”

Beau rolled her eyes and sat up, waving away Jester’s hand. “Thanks, but my needs are probably a lot more simple than that, Jester. I’m not that picky. Anyway, I wouldn't want to get in the middle of whatever you and Fjord have going on, y’know,” she waved her hand vaguely, “whatever that is.”

Jester wrinkled her brow. “There's nothing going on between me and Fjord. I mean he's pretty nice to look at and stuff, and also fun to flirt with I guess.” She gasped. “Are you interested in Fjord? Cause we're not a thing, I promise. I can totally set you guys up!”

Beau groaned. “No Jester, honestly, I'm fine for now.”

“O-kaay, if you say sooo,” Jester teased.

“I do say so. If you're done, I'm gonna go hit the shower, I feel really gross right now.”

---

Later that night, Beau sat draped across the bench in the main hold, nursing her fourth glass of ale. Fjord sat down beside her and leaned heavily on the table. He grabbed the bottle of ale and swirled it experimentally. “Do you mind if I…?” He gestured towards the bottle.

“Oh yeah yeah, no, go ahead, I don't care, it's your shit.”

The Mirialan flicked the cap off with his thumb and chugged the remainder of the bottle. He set the empty container on the table with a soft clink and sighed appreciatively, relaxing into the cushions. “Good job out there today, Jester and I owe you for that.”

“It's no big deal…” Beau mumbled.

Fjord looked at her from the corner of his eyes. “Well, just know that we appreciated the help. These damn skirmishes are getting out of hand. It's the first time we've been pulled out of hyperspace by those bastards, though.”

“Skirmishes,” Beau scoffed. “Call it what it is: full-blown war. You're a fucking idiot if you think the Empire and the Republic were ever actually at peace.” Silence filled the room for several long moments.

“You know, when you talk, you've really got to work on the delivery part. I've figured out you aren't always trying to be rude, but you'll last longer out there if you aren't unintentionally picking fights.”

Beau smirked at Fjord. “Who says it's unintentional?”

He looked down at her, an unexpected kindness and amusement in his eyes. It felt piercing and too familiar, like it was burning into the back of her brain and crawling under her skin. Beau shifted uncomfortably and broke eye contact, choosing to look at a dented piece of wall paneling instead. Fjord patted her lightly on the shoulder, and stood up, looking down at her for one second longer.

“We'll be in Nar Shaddaa in the morning. We can work on it once we're there. In the meantime, Beau, get some sleep.”

“Yeah, yeah,” she mumbled into her glass, taking another sip as Fjord walked to his quarters and closed the door. The ship settled into silence as Beau finally registered everything Fjord had said.

“Wait, work on what?”

Chapter Text

Nar Shaddaa loomed in the view screen. A vivid array of neon lights blinking through the smog, the Vertical City was one of the most densely populated areas of the galaxy. As a moon, Nar Shaddaa's orbit was locked to Nal Hutta, and the Hutt world dominated the sky. Nar Shaddaa was a world of perpetual night, where even the activities of the surface would put other world's criminal underbellies to shame. The lower someone went in the city, the more disturbing and depraved the offerings. It would be naive to say there were innocents left on the planet; most were simply survivors, least they become victims to those that ran the cartels, the banks, the casinos, the gangs. The Empire and the Republic both had a presence on the moon, but with the chaos that unfolded daily, and the influence of the Hutts, it was in the best interest of all that it stayed neutral in the growing conflict. To Beau, like many other beings in the galaxy, it was the perfect place to disappear.

Fjord carefully guided their freighter to its assigned dock, leaving Beau to gape at the sight in front of her. When she opened herself to the Force, the sheer amount of life around her threatened to overwhelm her senses. It reminded her of the first time she had stepped foot on Coruscant, how life flowed through the Force around her, every inch of the planet teeming with life. With Nar Shaddaa, the sensation of a large amount of life was the same, but the Force flowed in a frantic pattern around her, patches of intensity swirling around larger swaths of muted life forms. It was pure chaos and instinct, and Beau fucking loved it. She grinned out at the view, suddenly excited to get off the ship and onto solid ground. She tapped her fingers rapidly on the control panel in front of her, soaking up every piece of information she could.

Fjord chuckled. “You're vibrating awful fierce there, Beau.” She looked at him, a gleeful expression on her face. “It's alright,” he said, flipping a few switches, “Kiri and I have this under control. Go get packed up and ready to roll out, we'll need to leave within the half hour.”

Beau bolted out of the co-pilot seat and jogged down the hallway to her room. She slammed the door panel and bounded into the room, jumping up to her bunk and grabbing her satchel from the cubby. She leaped back down and grabbed her staff, slinging it over her shoulder. She swung around the corner of the doorframe into the hallway, stopping at the next door over. Hammering loudly on the metal surface, she yelled, “Jester, you gotta get ready, we're like 10 minutes out.”

Beau heard some faint rustling from inside the medbay and then a muted voice yelled out. “Ok, just give me one sec, I'm trying to fit some of these bacta packs in my bag.” A few seconds later, the door slid open, revealing a slightly flustered Jester trying to stuff one last pen into her haversack. She had swapped her usual clothing for a set of brightly painted armor pieces cobbled haphazardly together, a short blue cloak attached to one shoulder piece. “Okay, that should be everything. Are you ready, Beau?”

Beau nodded and shrugged the shoulder with her staff on it. “I've been ready for hours, Jester. Let's get this show on the road.”

The ship shuddered and the hall lights flickered as they landed, steam hissing from vents outside as the ship powered down moments later. Fjord stepped out of the cockpit and dipped into his room. He came back a few seconds later with a katana strapped to his back and a blaster in his holster. “Alright, let's get this show on the road. Beau, are you sure you don’t need some armor?”

“Nah, I'm good with this, the robe helps keep me flexible. Can't get hurt by blasters if no one can hit you in the first place.”

Fjord raised an eyebrow at her. “That's not really...nevermind, let's just get going. Kiri, you know what to do. Set the perimeter at twenty-five meters. Beep us on the comms if you see anything suspicious. We'll give you the signal before we get back to ship.”

Kiri beeped in affirmation, and brought out her shock prod with an excited whistle. Fjord seemed to age five years in that moment. “Do not, I repeat, do not take them all on by yourself. Wait for us, ok?” Kiri gave a disappointed squawk and rolled dejectedly back into the cockpit.

“Fjord,” Jester chided. “She just wants to be useful.”

“I know, but I'm still worried. We really need to find a shield upgrade for her soon. The ship is the best place for her right now.”

“You're right, I guess,” Jester said reluctantly.

“C’mon you two, let's get going. We gotta meet up with the client in two hours and confirm pick-up.” Fjord led them down the ramp, and then turned on his comm. “Ok Kiri, close it up and engage the sentry protocol.”

The ramp closed with a hiss and the trio started to walk to the turbolifts. Beau walked behind them, taking in the sights around her. Beings of all sorts milled around the hangar bays, loading and unloading cargo. No one really made eye contact with anyone else, content to go about their business without getting involved in anyone else's. Best of all, no one was paying attention to her.

Fjord led them to a set of turbolifts that took them down to the main spaceport. The doors opened to a large plaza filled with beings. Lights flashed everywhere, advertising and giving directions to the many sources of distraction offered in the area. Jester grabbed at Beau's arm in excitement. “Look!” she said, pointing excitedly at a neon sign with a dancing holo of a Twi’lek next to it. “That's one of the places I was telling you about earlier. We have to go!” She turned to Fjord. “You too, Fjord. It can be a group bonding activity!”

Fjord chuckled a bit. “I don't think we have any time right now, but sure, Jester. We can go after we get this cargo sold.”

“Bonding activity, huh?” Beau smirked.

Fjord rolled his eyes. “Not like that Beau, they just have a good bar.”

Jester turned her head back to Beau. “Like I told you, there's plenty of ways to let loose here.” She winked.

Beau took a few quick steps to walk in stride with the other two. “I mean, usually the only bonding I do in cantinas is my fist to some bastard’s face. That, I would definitely look forward to.” She cracked her knuckles and shot a toothy grin at her companions.

“Oooh!” Jester's eyes lit up. “We should definitely start a bar fight. That would be so cool!”

“Jester, no. Don't encourage her. Let's just rent a speeder and get going.” Fjord gestured to the rental kiosk. “One step at a time.”

---

Molly grinned in delight at the crowds milling around the plaza. “Oh gods, I've missed this.”

Yasha walked alongside him, quiet as usual, eyes darting around the crowd. She'd put on her full beskar’gam armor, the Mandalorian designs painted in muted greys and black. She held her helmet tucked under her arm, fiddling nervously with the rim. “Where's Gustav meeting us?” she asked, her soft tone barely loud enough for Molly to hear.

“Fletching and Moondrop, the usual place.” He started to weave through the crowd towards the speeders, grabbing Yasha by the wrist. Yasha continued to scan the crowd distractedly and stumbled a bit as she spotted a familiar group of black robed people in the crowd. No, damnit, not here, she cursed inwardly and shoved her helmet on her head. She hastily lengthed her stride to catch up with Molly. The figures in dark robes seemed not to have noticed her, and she relaxed. Her partner was at the speeder rental kiosk, a single eyebrow raised at her sudden need to put her helmet on. He turned back to the droid and handed it his credit chip. Yasha stood awkwardly a few steps behind him, shifting her legs as she waited.

Another group walked up to the adjacent taxi kiosk, led by a tall Mirialan man. A shorter blue-skinned woman of a species Yasha did not recognize walked next to him, gesturing excitedly and reaching up to poke the man on the cheek. Curious, she thought, with a slight smile. Behind the first two slouched a human woman, scowling slightly and looking behind her shoulder at the crowds. Yasha followed the woman's line of sight back to the same group of robed figures. Whoever this unhappy human was, she wasn't a fan of the Sith, though that wasn't an uncommon opinion. Yasha watched as the shorter woman stepped up to the Mirialan and said “You're right, let's get this show on the road,” making a beeline to where Mollymauk was taking back his credit chip.

Yasha instinctually took a step towards Molly as the group came up to the other kiosk, and the movement caught the human's eye. Her breath caught in her throat, the sound echoing in her helmet.

Force help her, that girl had the most intense stare she'd ever seen. She was never more thankful to have her face obscured by the thick visor of her helmet. Blue eyes narrowed as they took in Yasha’s appearance, and something familiar flowed towards her mind, like a breeze tickling the hair on her neck. Her instinct was to protect against the Force probe, drawing on her power to build a barrier. It wasn't until a breath later that she remembered why nothing was happening, and she curled her shaking hands into tight fists at her sides.

Yasha noticed too late that Molly had started conversing with the newcomers.

“Jester, you can't just ask strangers why they're purple,” the Mirialan scolded the blue-skinned woman next to him.

“No, it's quite alright,” said Molly with a grin. “Most of my people are still back home on Kesh, so I know the purple is a pretty unusual sight. No reason to hide the fact. I'm Mollymauk Tealeaf, happy to make your acquaintance.” He stretched out his hand towards the woman.

“Jester,” she said. “This is Fjord and that’s Beau.” The human woman snapped her attention to the group and nodded her head in greeting before turning her eyes curiously back to Yasha. Yasha felt her blood pounding in her ears and focused her vision on the dirty metal flooring as the other woman continued to stare. While the helmet provided a nice barrier, dealing with concentrated attention from a stranger was a disconcerting experience. The job, we have to get to the job, her brain supplied helpfully.

She turned her head to Molly. “We need to go,” she said stiffly, her voice distorted by the helmet comm. Molly ignored her. “This here’s Yasha. She's the charm.” He gave her a pointed look.

The woman who'd been introduced as Beau crossed her arms and scuffed the ground with her toe. “Yasha,” she drawled, shooting a smirk towards the armored woman. Yasha stood in silence, arms crossed.

“Ok, great! Lovely. I apologize, but we do really need to be going. Good luck out there!” Molly waved at the group and started towards the speeder they'd rented. Yasha breathed a sigh of relief and followed him.

They journeyed in silence for a while, Yasha guiding the speeder around the darkened corners and congested speeder lanes of the city. Molly looked out at the view and drummed his fingers quietly on his leg.

“You're leaving again, aren't you?”

Yasha clenched the steering console tightly for a moment, but stayed silent.

Molly sighed. “Whether you like it or not, I know you too well by now.” He started to tick items off on his fingers. “First, it's the shit sleep—don't think I don't hear when you start wondering around the ship in the middle of the night. Then, you get antsy. Then, you get all quiet and irritated. And finally, you disappear.”

Yasha takes the speeder into a moderated dive, turning into a tunnel. “Soon,” she finally said. “I’ll need to go soon.” She glanced at Molly. He continued to look out the window. “I'm sorry. I'm going to stick around until this job is done, at least.”

Molly sighed. “As long as you stay safe.”

“It doesn’t–I mean, I–I can't know for sure,” she stuttered, her voice soft and hesitant.

“I know.”

The speeder became quiet again as it shot through the tunnels and around the dark streets of the planet.

---

“They're gone now,” a scratchy voice said. “On a taxi and into the city. Now's our chance.”

“Excellent. Use the cloaking belt and be cautious, I think their droid is still on board,” a lower, accented voice responded.

“It’s okay Caleb, I know what I'm doing. I'll lower the ramp when it's safe for you to get onboard.” A small click went off, and then the soft whine of a cloaking shield started. “Give me five minutes.”

---

Beau browsed the info displayed on the datapad. “Kylre. Damn, this guy looks ugly as fuck.”

Jester stretched her neck to look over Beau’s shoulder. “She's right, Fjord. Even for a Gamorrean he looks pretty gross.”

“Well, we're not here to judge a beauty contest. He wanted this hyperdrive, we're delivering. In and out, pure business transaction.”

Beau furrowed her brow. “It's kinda unusual to deal with a freelance Gamorrean, isn't it? Which Hutt does he work for?”

“Jester and I ain't really in a position to ask those kinds of questions. What matters at this point is that he has the credits.” Fjord took his eyes off the lane for a second to look at Jester in the passenger seat. “After this job maybe we can afford to pick our clients with a bit more discretion. Until then…”

“Yeah, I get it,” Beau interrupted. “Don't worry, I wasn't judging you guys or anything. We all do what we have to, right? I was just curious about the larger workings of business here, I guess.” She waved her hands at the city around them. “It might be useful to know how this all fits together and works, despite what the Empire or the Republic want.”

“Be careful, asking questions is a dangerous hobby to have,” Fjord warned. A beeping noise emitted from the datapad Beau was holding.

Jester gasped in excitement and pointed at the front windscreen. “Fjord! Right there, see the red paint on that corner? Just like he said!”

The speeder slowed down and slowly lowered to park at the taxi kiosk, Jester jumping out before the thrusters had even shut off. Beau followed suit, robes flowing around her ankles as she landed. Jester looked at her in awe. “I should get a cape or a robe. Everything looks so much cooler when you do it, Beau.”

“Oh, really? Thanks.” She plucked at the blue robes she was dressed in. “I was actually thinking of getting something less noticeable, but you're right.” Beau smirked. “They do make me look cooler.”

Jester giggled and looked at the datapad in Beau's hand. “Ok, I think we just have to go behind this droid shop there on the corner, and he'll be waiting for us.”

“I'm not sure this seems safe, Jester. What if it's an ambush?”

Jester frowned slightly. “Why would anyone want to ambush us? And, technically, they don't even know how many there are of us.”

They wandered down the street and around the corner until they got to a chain-link gate.

Fjord put his hand on the door, and it opened with a creak. “I've got a bad feeling about this,” he said, resting a hand on his vibroblade hilt. “Stay behind me,” he murmured, walking forward quietly.

“Oh good, you have arrived,” a metallic voice said just ahead of them. The three jerked their heads towards the source. In front of the group stood a fairly large and muscular Gamorrean, and a beat-up protocol droid. “The great Captain Kylre is satisfied that you have arrived as promised.” The Gamorrean squealed and grunted in his native tongue, shifting the greataxe in his hand. “It is now time to finish the trade” the droid translated.

---

Mollymauk glanced over the crate. “Do you have a clear shot?” he hissed.

Yasha shuffled slightly, adjusting the blaster she held in her hands. “Give me two seconds.” She leveraged her upper body to move the heavy gun along the top of the crate. “Tell Gustav that the next target should be someone that can die from a sniper bolt.” She clicked off the safety. “Ok, now I'm good. Firing in 10...9…”

---

Fjord stepped up and handed over a datapad. “On here you'll find the map and the storage bay number for the goods. The code for the bay is also included, as requested.”

The Gamorrean grunted and gestured at the datapad. “The Captain accepts your trade, and will wire you the payment as soon as he has confirmed the merchandise.” Captain Kylre grabbed the datapad and barked something into a comm. After a few seconds of typing he spoke again into his earpiece and waited for a few seconds. Then, he nodded towards the droid and continued to press buttons on the datapad. “The merchandise has been confirmed. Once he finishes the transfer, your payment will be in your account within the next 5 minutes.”

Fjord nodded. “Excellent. Appreciate doing business with ya.” He stuck out his hand towards the Gamorrean.

At the exact same moment, what sounded like a turret shot rang out from an alley to the left of the group. Kylre suddenly crumpled onto the ground at his feet, datapad falling out of his hand with a clatter. “What the…?” said Fjord, looking down at the body, completely bewildered.

Jester pulled out a pair of brightly coloured pistols, and Beau grabbed her staff from behind her back, crouching slightly into a combat position. She glanced over at Fjord, still frozen with his hand out, staring down in shock at the dead and bleeding Gamorrean at his feet. “Fjord?” she called out, voice tensing. His eyes snapped up at her and he seemed to come back to the moment as he saw her position. He pulled out his vibroblade and faced the direction the blaster fire came from. “Who's there?” he demanded.

“Traitorous fools!” the droid screamed. “My master will hear about your—” there was a blur of purple as his sentence trailed off, a pair of vibroblades bisecting him at the waist. Behind the pieces of droid stood Mollymauk, grinning devilishly. “Well, this is interesting,” he said, pointing his blades towards Beau. Beside Fjord, the armored figure of Yasha crouched suddenly, analysing the fallen body of Kylre with handheld ID scanner. “The hit’s confirmed,” came the distorted voice. “Sending the info back to Gustav’s for a solid ID.”

Mollymauk continued to grin. “Sorry about that, just a little business to attend to.” Beau grit her teeth at his irritating smirk and casual tone. She poked her quarterstaff under his chin. “What the fuck, Mollymauk?” she spat. “He was about to pay us a good chunk of credits, you chewed-up sithspawn. Your timing is shit.”

A soft, hard voice came from next to Beau. “I suggest you back up. Now.”

The hairs on her neck prickled with the sensation of heat, and she turned to face the barrel of an extremely large blaster. Her eyes widened. “Do you just carry around a blaster turret as a gun? Holy shit.” Before her brain could catch up, Beau blurted out, “That's actually kind of hot.” Yasha gave no indication that she was listening to a word Beau was saying, her face still hidden underneath her helmet. She stood in silence, blaster not wavering an inch.

“Now hold on a minute here,” Fjord interjected. “I think this is just a plain misunderstanding.” He stepped in between Beau and the blaster, hands up in a defensive position. “We're not your marks, we were just going about our business. Beau's just a little upset that we hadn't gotten the payment finalized. We're all good here, right?” He looked back at Beau. “Right?”

Beau’s initial adrenaline and rage began to fade away, her shoulders slumped, and she lowered her stick. “Yeah, ok. I'm good.” She looked up at Yasha, whose head was tilted slightly as she considered Fjord’s words.

“Fine.” The blaster was slowly lowered.

“I really am sorry about this,” Molly said, nudging the body of Kylre with his toe.

“It's okay,” said Jester. “We just have to find a way to get the money from his account. Cause, technically, he did agree to give it to us.”

“Technically,” Molly repeated with a smile. “Well, if you have the need, I happen to know one or two of the best holonet slicers in the business. I'm sure they wouldn't mind helping out.”

“For a significant percentage of the payout, I'm sure,” said Fjord.

“That is usually how this business works.”

“Well, thank you for your kind offer, but we should really be going,” drawled Fjord.

“Certainly,” Molly nodded. “Just ask for me at the Moondrop and Fletching, it's in the Red Light Sector.”

Fjord nodded. “Good to know, we'll keep that in mind.”

Beau shouldered her stick and followed Fjord out of the alley, Jester trailing behind. The Wroonian waved at the two bounty hunters, “Good to meet you! I think you’re really fun and awesome!”

“Likewise!” Beau heard Molly call faintly behind her back.

She rolled her eyes and looked at Fjord. “So what the fuck are we going to do?”

“I'm not sure. I need to check the account first, see if we got lucky and the money made it.” He sighed, obviously troubled. “I don't know any slicers good enough to get the money without tracing it back to us.”

“Are you saying Molly's offer might be our best bet?”

“I'm afraid so.”

Beau's stomach twisted a bit. “We can't trust him.” She remembered how she felt at the taxi kiosk when trying to sense Mollymauk’s mysterious armoured companion. The hungry emptiness in the Force that hung cloyingly around the woman made her shiver. “Or Yasha.”

“Of course not.”

“He didn't seem to be that bad,” Jester interjected. “He was pretty friendly, and he didn't kill us for seeing him take out our customer.”

“You don't think they're gonna put hits on us too, do you?” Beau asked, alarm bubbling up in her throat. “I don't really need that kind of heat.”

“No one does,” said Fjord. Beau saw remorse in his eyes as he continued to talk. “I'm so sorry about how this all went. It was supposed to be an easy job. Now you're stuck with us until we get this sorted out.”

Beau shrugged. “Eh, it's ok. Not like I had anywhere to be, y'know.”

Fjord pulled out his datapad as they walked, and Beau watched him open his credit account.

“Damn, nothing. Fletching and Moondrop it is.”

Jester skipped ahead of Beau, and glanced back, smiling. “Are you up for a new adventure, Beau? At least we can get drinks this time.”

“I guess,” mumbled Beau. “As long as I don't have to talk to Mollymauk.”

“Don't worry,” Fjord said with a soothing tone. “After he points us in the direction of his slicer, you don't ever have to see him again.”

---

The droid was taken care of in seconds, ion blaster shot easily disabling the astromech for a few minutes. Nott slipped into the medical supply room, grabbing a few containers of bacta. “Caleb,” she whispered over her com. “I think all the security has been disabled, come on in.”

She had made three trips before Caleb stepped softly into the hallway. A few beads of sweat dripped down his temple, and he swiped at it nervously. “Did you find anything good?”

“Well,” said Nott. “There doesn't seem to be a lot. I think they might be kind of poor, actually.”

“What about the droid?”

“I can get the droid to go with us, but it's going to take a minute.” She started to dig in the pack slung across her chest. “I know there's a restraining bolt in here somewhere.”

“Take your time, I have a trip alarm set up at the turbolifts. We will know in plenty of time when they are returning.”

Her large yellow eyes looked up at him from underneath her hood. “You're really smart with this stuff. I'm proud of you.”

Caleb ducked his head. “I’m only doing what I was taught to do, save your praise. First, we need to get out of here alive. Let’s see how much we can pack up before they get back, yes?”