The crew of the Bella landed on a small outlying planet on the fringes of the Jaba territories. Stacie and Aubrey had slept in the same cabin for the remainder of the journey, their relationship growing stronger all the while. Stacie worked on the ship’s engine when they stopped somewhere and accompanied Aubrey on dangerous errands. When they finally stopped at the Bella hideout, Stacie and Aubrey were efficient partners once more. It almost felt like old times.
The Bella’s hideout was a dug-out structure in the walls of a canyon on the planet of Bespin. Hidden in the clouds, the planet was something of a marvel since it was a gas giant for all intents and purposes. Yet, some terraforming had been done that created quite the geographical feat for the planet’s inhabitants. The hideout was dimly lit through sunstone and electric lighting. When Stacie stepped off of the ship and onto the hangar, she was immediately embraced by another familiar brunette. Ashley. Stacie hugged the girl back and looked around to find Beca standing with wide eyes from a distance. It took a moment, but the shorter brunette finally approached and gave Stacie one of her very rare hugs.
“When Aubrey said that you were on board, I didn’t really believe her,” Beca muttered into Stacie’s collarbone.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t really believe her either,” Stacie freely admitted. The idea that Aubrey was still alive was still a complete marvel to Stacie, never mind her friends.
Stacie felt a slight shift in the room’s atmosphere and turned away from Beca; her eyes found Lily, hanging from the rafters with wide, curious eyes. The lightsaber at her belt looked different; the handle was golden and jeweled. She peered down at Stacie curiously but quickly swung back up and away. “Lily hasn’t really been the same since the Inquisitors got her. They held onto her for barely two weeks before we found her, but she hasn’t said a word since,” Beca explained. Stacie nodded in understanding; a spike of sympathy worked its way into her heart when her eyes returned to space where her old friend used to be. The Empire had left its scars on everyone.
Stacie winced when she remembered her first night on the ship with Aubrey. They had begun to reacquaint themselves with each other, and Stacie’s wandering hands had pulled up Aubrey’s tunic. What she found in the place of clear skin were a dozen stretching scars spaced throughout her lover’s torso. Stacie had swallowed thickly as she traced the new and rough lines. “Who did this to you?” She had muttered, anger flooded her tone. Aubrey had to set a calming hand on Stacie’s chest as she explained.
Aubrey had escaped the Empire at first, and she had been looking for Stacie. Beca was with her along with Chloe, the daughter of a diplomat from Naboo. They were all running from the Empire when Aubrey had gotten wind of a tall brunette Jedi's apprentice being captured around Geonosis. Aubrey hadn’t known which planetary system Stacie’s ship was near, but when she heard about the Empire’s new prisoner, she had rushed to rescue that padawan, hoping it was Stacie. Of course, it hadn’t been Stacie because, at that point, Stacie was on Braca working as a newly appointed junker. When Aubrey reached the Empire ship, she had briefly been captured as well. Luckily, Beca managed to escape and rescue them with the help of Chloe, who had called in a favor from Amy and Cynthia Rose. They all escaped, but not before a small round of torture was conducted on Aubrey.
During their escape, they found Ashley and Lily. The smaller girl had definitely gotten the worse of the torture, but she was able to sneak out with the rest of them.
Stacie had been horrified at the thought of Aubrey in the Empire’s clutches, of course, but she couldn’t help being a bit relieved that Ashley and Lily managed to escape because of Aubrey’s hair-brained rescue mission. It was also quite heartwarming that the blonde loved her so much that she risked capture and possibly death.
Once Stacie had been greeted by everyone, including other members of the crew that she had never heard of: Cynthia Rose’s girlfriend Denise, Emily’s roommate Flo, a lockpick named Donald, Fat Amy’s fiance Bumper, Ashley’s girlfriend Jessica, and Benji’s best friend Jesse; Stacie was shown to her new room. Of course, by new room, Aubrey meant a shared room. Since the base wasn’t that big, everyone was expected to double up. In fact, Aubrey had been the only one without a roommate, until now, that is.
“You sure you don’t mind sharing a room?” Stacie teased the other woman. Aubrey rolled her eyes and pulled her to the bed. Every rest of Aubrey’s hand on Stacie’s shoulder or waist brought a spark to the synapses of the brunette’s skin. She was home.
Stacie remembered a time when Aubrey’s arms had been the farthest thing from home, and she also remembered the days where the blonde had slowly become Stacie’s world.
Their climb up the great tree of Kashyyk was a hard one, especially with Aubrey’s arm in a makeshift sling. Stacie’s tunic was torn at the bottom and tied around her midriff; she had used it to make Aubrey’s sling, not that the blonde said thank you. Yet, despite the blonde’s many barbed comments, there were quiet moments too. Moments where they shared food or a smile, maybe a story about their training.
“Do you think Plo Koon and Windu are searching for us?” Stacie asked one night. The fire was low, and they had just finished the roasted dregs of some creature they’d run into. Aubrey shrugged; her eyes never left the fire. “Maybe, or maybe they’re simply waiting for us to get back. I’m sure Windu expects us to fend for ourselves.”
“Well, I hope we get back soon. I’m up for consideration; they might let me take the final test at the temple this year; if I die out here, I’ll never get to become consular.”
“Is that your dream? Consular?” Aubrey inquired politely. Stacie shrugged.
“I want to be part of their research teams. If I wasn’t forced sensitive, I think I would’ve become a scientist or ship engineer of some kind,” Stacie exclaimed. Aubrey looked at her then; green eyes flickered gold in the firelight. Stacie wondered what the girl’s lips felt like for a moment but pushed the thought away. Jedi weren’t supposed to form attachments; it was simply a matter of hormones. Nothing more, nothing less.
“You’ll be a great Consular one day; I’m sure you’ll be sent to all kinds of places to research force-sensitive civilizations. You’ll have the time of your life.” Aubrey’s words surprised Stacie; she had never heard the blonde say something so kind before.
“Did you always want to be placed with the Sentinels?” She asked.
It was Aubrey’s turn to shrug. “It was the right place for me; they liked my determination and drive. I wanted to help save the galaxy, and the sentinels help me do that. One dead sith at a time.” Stacie considered the other girl’s words; the phrasing definitely said something about the blonde. The intonation sounded more resigned than anything, and the rhetoric hinted at a semblance of reluctance.
“If you weren’t a Jedi, what do you think you’d do with your life?” She asked.
Aubrey looked at the treeline thoughtfully, pouty lips pursed and fingers twiddling away. “I think I would have started a family, maybe become a diplomat like my father. Maybe not entirely like my father, though. He’s an ass, but I would have liked to help people. Maybe talk it out instead of fighting.”
“You would have wanted a family?” Stacie remarked the blonde was just full of surprises.
“Yeah, I would have liked to raise a kid of my own. I guess I’ll get to do that when I get an apprentice, though. Whenever that is.”
“You’ll be a great master one day,” Stacie said; she couldn’t help feeling slightly astonished when she meant it. Aubrey would be a great teacher one day. She was smart, capable; she had been helping Stacie with her force and saber exercises early in the morning. Maybe Aubrey wasn’t as annoying as she thought at first.
“You should get some sleep; I’ll take the first watch;” Aubrey’s utterance was a clear end to the conversation, but Stacie couldn’t help the words that flew out of her mouth. “You would have been a great mother,” She said quietly before she tucked herself into the bundle of leaves that served as her bed. She didn’t get to see Aubrey’s face, but for a second, she thought she heard a sniffle.
The days flew by while Stacie was on Bespin with the others. Besides regular maintenance and supply runs, the crew of the Bella was mostly unbothered. They took care of each other; it also helped that she found out Jesse used to be part of the Medical Service crew back when the Jedi Order was in power. He took care of most of their scrapes, bruises, burns, breakages, and cuts. The only thing he couldn’t do was use force to heal people.
“Yeah, I failed out of Jedi apprenticeship early on, somewhere around the age of nine. They thought I was too emotional, so they moved me to the Service corps;” Jesse chuckled sheepishly. Whatever may have happened, Stacie really didn’t care; it was nice to find another member of the group that understood the loss she felt. After the collapse of the Republic, nothing was the same anymore.
It was in the middle of the week when Stacie came out of her shared room with a look of confusion, only to find Aubrey packing a bag in the makeshift hangar. The Bella was gone, along with Chloe, Flo, Jessica, Jesse, Beca, and Lily. They were supposed to be on a supply run, but that didn’t explain why the blonde was packing.
“Bree, what are you doing?” Stacie grumbled, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She looked quite adorable in the faint amber glow of the sunstone light. “They were supposed to be back by now,” Aubrey growled. Stacie watched as the blonde clipped her lightsaber to her belt before tossing a blaster into her bag. “And you’re going to find them,” Stacie concluded.
“Yes, stay here and hold down the fort while I’m gone,” Aubrey answered. The other Jedi made a move towards the extra starfighter, but Stacie immediately moved to block her.
“Hold on, not so fast. You’re not leaving without me,” Stacie exclaimed. Aubrey glowered at Stacie and made another move for the extra ship.
“Stacie, move,” the blonde snapped, but Stacie resisted. The past several weeks with Aubrey and their hodgepodge group of rebels had quickly become some of Stacie’s favorite memories. Every moment she looked across a table or room to find Aubrey looking back at her was a blessing that she never thought she’d have again. Aubrey wasn’t going into danger without her, and that was final.
“Let me pack my bag, and I’ll come with you,” Stacie urged the other woman, who clearly wasn’t having it. To Stacie’s utter indignation, she found herself suspended in the air as Aubrey used the Force to move her out of the way. “I’m sorry, but you can’t come with me. It would help if you stayed here to protect the others. We always keep two Jedi here to protect everyone; we can’t break the procedure.”
“Aubrey put me down right now!” Stacie growled. She closed her eyes to concentrate, anything to break Aubrey’s hold on her, but the blonde was older and more practiced. There was a reason the Council had made the blonde a full Jedi before Stacie had even gone up for consideration. To her chagrin, she watched Aubrey climb into the extra starfighter and press the buttons for liftoff. With one last mouthed ‘sorry,’ the blonde was gone, and Stacie was facing a space where her girlfriend used to be.
When Aubrey got back, Stacie had words for the blonde.
Fuming, Stacie stormed into the main living space. Cynthia Rose sat at the table with Donald and Ashley. Benji was organizing Jesse’s medical kit; the kind boy was trying to learn everything Jesse knew, so the group always had two medics. After watching Benji attempt to roll a bandage for a couple of minutes properly, Stacie begrudgingly moved to help the boy. “Give me that,” Stacie muttered; her quick fingers made short work of the bandage, so she moved on to the next one.
It took a couple of hours, but Benji finally had the entire supply kit crammed into a canvas bag. Cynthia Rose’s girlfriend had made breakfast, and Fat Amy was lounging on the sofa feeding grapes to Bumper when she felt it. A sudden shift in the force. Casting a baleful eye around the area, Stacie’s heart rate picked up as she considered the sudden dark feeling that choked her. Something was wrong.
“Guys, something's wrong!” Ashley stated for the others. Everyone looked up, immediately alert as the two brunettes pulled out their lightsabers; the impending doom seemed to surround them at that moment. Stacie saw Cynthia Rose reaching for the blaster taped to the bottom of the table. She saw Benji and Fat Amy running for the supply room where they stocked extra bags, just in case. Emily was dragged out of her room by an alert Denise. Donald had a blaster strapped to his leg and already in hand. He was switching it from wall to wall, uncertain of where to shoot. His answer came quickly.
The west wall burst open under the force of starship laser fire. The sunstone crumbled like paper as their group scrambled for cover, away from the falling rock face. Stacie and Ashley used the Force to push away the largest debris, away from themselves and away from any of their comrades. “Donald! Fat Amy! Get to the pods!” Denise shouted; Stacie watched as the older girl pushed Emily towards the two; Donald grabbed Emily by the arm and streaked off in the direction of the hangar. “Inquisitor!” Ashley shouted in warning just as someone hurled a red lightsaber through the air in a vicious windmill. Stacie watched in horror as it tore through a fleeing Jesse’s right arm, just as he pushed Benji out of the way.
Stacie used the force to push the lightsabers trajectory into a wall and turned to face the open doors of the Empire’s Cruiser. A man with closely cropped blonde hair and green eyes stood in all black; a series of scars were scattered around his face. “Well, hello, sorry to break up the party,” The man quipped. With a wave of his hand, the red lightsaber returned to his clutches; his dark eyes studied the scene malevolently. Ashley and Stacie stood facing him, blue and green lightsabers glowing. Benji had managed to pull Jesse out of the room.
“Luke!” Ashley gasped, eyes wide with horror. Stacie’s eyes widened in realization at the other woman’s remark. She knew that name. Luke had become an apprentice a year before Stacie; he had been an accomplished padawan and had become a Jedi Sentinel, just like Aubrey. She thought he had died during the purge, but she was wrong.
“Ahh, Ashley, so nice to see you again. I see you made some friends, another Jedi padawan, maybe?” The man’s tone was teasing, yet his overall aura was one of danger and death. Stacie felt that she would need every shred of knowledge and grit in her to beat him. “I see Aubrey isn’t here; I was hoping to give her another gift.” He waved his lightsaber playfully in the air as he said it. Stacie stiffened at the implication, “Those scars?”
“Tokens of my affection;” Luke grinned mockingly. Stacie growled and charged forward; her vision was nearly red with rage. Luke seemed thrilled. “Good! You’ve got some fire in you. We’ll make an inquisitor out of you yet!”
“Stacie, stop!” Ashley shouted, but Stacie didn’t hear her.
Luke bounced between the two with delight, batting Ashley aside with ease and expertly weaving his way between each of Stacie’s slashes. His words were ones of praise, albeit condescending praise, and disparagement. For every tactile swipe from Ashley and furious jab from Stacie, the blonde boy had a quip that only infuriated Stacie more. By now, there was an all-out war in the skies surrounding their base. A large hole overlooked the cloudy canyon, and the ship that had carried Luke was weaving figure eights throughout the skyline.
Stacie swiped at Luke once more, the tip of her lightsaber caught his arm, and she smelled the scent of burned flesh and fabric. The boy’s facial expression changed; instead of a gleeful smile, he now wore a merciless glare. Stacie lept back just in time as arcs of lightning caught Ashley in the chest. Stacie made a wild spinning strike that Luke met with his blade, eyes gleaming with excitement and something else, something Stacie couldn’t pinpoint at that moment.
“I’ve seen you before, you know?” Luke grinned. Stacie sprang back and attempted a feinted backswing followed by a spinning kick to the man’s chest. Her foot clipped him in the chin, and he stumbled a little, but he didn’t go down. Not good enough. “Yes, I’ve seen you before,” Luke muttered. He wiped the drops of blood from his split lip and continued. “I saw you in Aubrey’s head when she was a mere prisoner on my ship. You were there, and she was there. You both looked quite cozy.”
Stacie attempted a force push, but he waved it away. “You know, when I got a peek into that pretty head of hers, I saw something that astounded me. The great Aubrey Posen, the disciplinarian and rule follower, was in love. When I saw it, I could hardly believe it.” Stacie charged once more, and he parried easily.
“When I found out what you two were hiding, I thought there might be hope, maybe I could turn her into one of us, but then I saw you were dead. Or at least she believed it to be so. You were dead, and there was no way she would join the people that took you from her. But now…” Stacie felt the air leave her lungs as a pressure-formed around her larynx. “Now, here you are. Her weakness, the chink in her armor of ethics. I know what you two did in Kashyyyk; I know what you two did in Coruscant, Alderan, and every planet where you two managed to congregate. Or should I say conjugate?”
Stacie’s vision was starting to fade, and she could feel the burn in her lungs. “Hmm, there might be hope for poor Aubrey yet. Maybe we can help her, get her out of the mental entrapment under the Jedi’s tutelage? Maybe she’ll join us, hmm? What do you think?”
“Leave her alone,” Stacie choked out with the shreds of air that remained in her. She could feel the blood rushing to her cheeks; she was going to pass out any second now.
“No, I don’t think I will. I think you’re the key to her salvation, actually.” If Luke had anything left to say, Stacie didn’t hear it as her vision faded to black.