He knew the moment he stepped out of the sunlight and into the crowded cantina, the warmth of the sun cut off by the roof overhead. It wasn’t any cooler inside, the heat caused by the bodies packed in the small room like the pups in a nest of Nexu.
Taking a moment to stand just inside the door of the cantina, the robed male lifted his head to listen to the droning chatter and the occasional shattering glass.
A band played in the background, though a tad too loudly.
Moving purposefully, the mysterious figure moved around the outside of the room between multiple patrons. When he tilted his head upwards, light fell on his face to reveal the dark cloth stretched over the upper half, concealing his eyes and advertising his now obvious blindness.
The tall man mumbled an apology as he bumped into someone, placing a hand on the other’s shoulder before continuing on his way to claim a table against the far wall, out of way of some of the more questionable characters.
“Can I get you something?”
Turning his face towards the direction of the voice, the blind man gave a small nod. “Grog, if you will.” He answered, giving a smile as the woman walked off.
Sitting straight as a rod, the mysterious male reached out with the force carefully, feeling out each patron present in the bar, searching out feelings, personality. He was looking for one person, one of specific attitude and personality.
Finding someone similar to what he'd hoped to find, the robed figure stood up from his seat, leaving behind the drink as he headed over to the table set in the furthest corner. It was shadowed, something he could sense by the change in temperature, if not by sight.
“Aren’t you a bold one?”
A small smile touched the blind male’s lips as he seated himself across from the only other occupant in the booth. “I prefer valiant.” He responded, a snort sounding across from him.
“And who, exactly, are you?”
The blind man took a deep breath. “Raymond Palmer.” He answered after a moment of silence, head tilting slightly. “And yours?”
“I’m not quite finished asking questions.” The other responded, obviously amused if a little tense. “What exactly, are you looking for that you think you'd find with me?”
Sighing softly, Raymond leaned back in his seat, hands resting on the table. “I need a ship. Someone that can pilot it and possesses a certain requirement: discretion.” He announced calmly, spreading his hands out with a small smile.
“Well, then you’ve come to the right place… If you have the credits.”
Raymond snorted out a laugh, obviously amused now. “First tell me how you meet the requirements.” He responded firmly, not willing to draw out the banter too long, for the off chance that those he was trying to avoid showed up.
“I was Han Solo’s co-pilot when he ran the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. I finished second after him on my own in exactly twelve.” The smuggler answered with obvious pride. “Been flying for just over ten years, seen employment with Black Sun, the Hutt Cartel and the Pyke Syndicate. Hence my talent with discretion.”
Raymond smiled widely, nodding slowly. “And your name?”
“Ah, of course. Leonard Snart, at your service.”
The blind male gave a dip of his head to show that he’d acknowledged the other’s response, the slightest bit of relief filling him. He’d found someone to get him off of Tattooine, a necessity he'd had trouble filling the past few days. He had a mission to do, and he wanted to complete it as soon as possible.
“Where do you need to go, and what sort of cargo are you packing that you so desperately need to keep secret?” The smuggler questioned, and though Raymond couldn’t see him, he knew that Leonard was smirking.
A moment of silence passed as Raymond attempted to think up a viable excuse. “I need to get to Alderaan. I’ve got no cargo with me. Just myself,” the older male answered, giving a shrug of his shoulders. “The secrecy is something I always require. You never know when a day may come where my actions are better hidden than known by the general public.” Raymond explained, a smile touching his lips.
Leonard snorted in amusement, a creaking sound reaching the blind man’s ears as he leaned back in his seat. “I don’t see what a blind man such as yourself can do to have someone looking for you,” the smuggler questioned in amusement, humor thick in his tone. “Unless you aren’t what you seem.” He added.
Raymond’s heart skipped a beat, but he forced the smile to remain in place as he gave a soft laugh. “No one is what they seem. Exactly how do I know who you are? How do I know you really ran the Kessel Run with Han Solo?” He asked, twisting Leonard’s question over onto him.
He could immediately sense the agitation coming from the man sitting across from him, and it was Raymond’s turn to be amused.
“I suppose we’ll have to take our words on it.” Leonard responded in a short tone, pushing himself to his feet, the distinct sound of a blaster quietly knocking against the edge of the table reached Raymond, and he had to fight the urge to flinch. “When do you need to leave?”
Turning his face slightly upwards in the general direction of Leonard’s voice, Raymond gave a smile. “I’d like to leave as soon as you can get your ship ready.” He answered in a calm tone.
“Well then you’re welcome to come along, but I warn you, it will be boring.” Leonard answered, and there was a slight disturbance in the air by Raymond’s head, the older male tensing up, but nothing happened. He waited for a few moments, still and unmoving. “Right,” the smuggler’s tone sounded devious. “I forgot you couldn’t see. Would you like me to help you up and guide you? Or would you prefer to magically make your way around like you did to find me here?”
The question caught Raymond off guard, the dark-haired male feeling nervous. This man was obviously suspicious of others, and had very keen senses. He’d have to be extremely careful in this regard, if he wished to keep his secret concealed.
Silently, Raymond reached out towards Leonard, finding his hand. The grip was firm, almost threatening, as he was pulled to his feet, but the blind man paid no more attention than necessary. The moment he was on his feet, Raymond felt the smuggler place his hand in the crook of his arm before setting off at a fast pace.
It wasn’t hard keeping up with Leonard, but Raymond could feel the mix of suspicion and amusement the other was feeling, and it kept him alert and on edge.
He’d seen enough of the galaxy to fear everything. Especially when the current threat carried a blaster and an air of confidence that testified he knew how to use it.
Raymond wouldn’t make the mistake of letting his guard down ever again. Not after what happened last time.
May Rachi forgive him.
Leonard and Raymond finally leave Mos Eisley, but so begins the trouble between them. A gentle soul and an abrasive spirit, in close quarters where neither really trusts the other. So begins their journey.
Apologies for taking so long. I still have some waiting requests, but I might finish these guys first, if not pass them on to one of my pseuds. Since the request story was taken down, they've been unable to get any.
Please enjoy this chapter. :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Leaving the cantina on the arm of a man he’d just met left Raymond extremely uncomfortable, but he followed beside the other, seemingly trusting Leonard to keep him from running into anything or tripping himself up as they walked, but he truly didn’t. Raymond wouldn’t so carelessly trust another, so he quietly felt out everything as they walked to ensure his own way.
“For a blind man you maneuver yourself rather well,” the voice came from his left, causing Raymond to quickly look in Leonard’s direction. “Being born blind does that for you. Though there are downsides amongst the joy of blindness.” The robed male responded quietly, the smuggler giving a snort. “And what might those be?” He questioned in feigned interest.
Raymond was silent for several moments before looking in Leonard’s direction again. “I’ve never been able to look out into space, experience the beauty of light speed. I’ve heard descriptions of it, but I’m certain that it’s so much better when viewed with one’s own eyes.”
Silence fell for a few moments, Leonard tugging Raymond around an unseen barrier as he seemingly thought. “Perhaps that is something to be sorry for, but there are things one can witness where they would wish they’d been blind. I have many images in my mind that I would give much to forget.” The smuggler answered in a cold-sounding voice, obviously disliking the direction their conversation had gone. “But I suppose some would say that hearing and not seeing could be just as damaging.”
Walking along beside this man that was supposed to be a criminal of some sort, Raymond felt a sense of empathy rise up in him. He understood what Leonard was saying, though he was unable to say so without unravelling his carefully told story. For now, he just remained silent as they traversed the streets of Mos Eisley towards the docking bays.
Though the rest of the trip held an uneasy feeling for Raymond, it went without a hitch, and that was something he was exceedingly grateful for. More than he’d actually expected in truth. Regardless of his training, he’d felt a little ill at ease as he and Leonard navigated the busy streets to retrieve the smuggler’s ship. The older male was unable to get his emotions under control even when his temporary comrade announced their arrival.
“It’ll only take me a short time to check her over and make sure everything’s good to go.” Leonard was saying as Raymond slowly drifted from his thoughts in order to listen, “so you could sit in the ship if you want to, or you can stand out here in the suns. Doesn’t bother me which you’d like to do.” The younger man was saying as he released the other’s arm.
Raymond sighed softly as he discreetly reached out with the force to feel the area around him, ensuring there was no danger before slowly making his way towards the ship, stopping quickly once he realized what he was doing. “Where is the ship?” He questioned quietly, sensing Leonard nearby, the smuggler leaning against a wall.
“Why ask now? You seemed to know where it was a moment ago.” Leonard responded, Raymond not missing the subtle suspicion in the other’s tone. “Since we came in this way, I could only assume we were facing the ship.” He responded confidently, a snort sounding as Leonard pushed off the wall and approached. “Then you were right. You going to be waiting on the ship?” He questioned, moving passed his blind companion towards the waiting ship.
Following the sound of the other’s footsteps in the sand, Raymond thought for a moment. He would like to sit while he waited, but he couldn’t trust Leonard. For all he knew the other man was truly a slaver, but then what use would a blind slave be?
“I would like to sit, but not inside the ship. I enjoy the sunlight.” Raymond finally decided as he located the boarding ramp that had been lowered for him to enter, seating himself on the edge of it. “I doubt I’ll be seeing the sunlight for a while.” He added as a quick explanation for his decision.
“Like the sunlight? I absolutely despise the heat.” Leonard said as he regarded the robed figure for several moments, brow furrowed. He wasn’t sure what to think about this odd man, but he knew that there was something off with him, and he’d like to find out what it was.
Raymond wasn’t sure if he should attempt small talk with his travel partner, but Leonard made up his mind for him by vanishing, the sound of boots against metal overhead signalling the smuggler had climbed atop his ship to no doubt ensure things were alright before they could take off.
Mos Eisley wasn’t the best of places, and it wouldn’t be unheard of for someone to sabotage another’s ship or steal valuable parts that were paramount for it’s use. Taking off without said parts could prove devastating, then Raymond would never be able to carry out the task he’d been given to do.
Sitting alone and in silence, Raymond’s mind wandered back a few years, the young man’s body tensing up as his fists clenched at his sides. It was times like these when he became tormented by the faces and voices of the souls he was unable to save. His heart broke every time he heard her voice, the way she screamed for him to run right before she’d been cut down by… by that man Raymond still couldn’t identify. That was the day he’d lost his sight, but it still didn’t stop his mind from reproducing the images for his torture.
Sighing softly, Raymond reached up a hand to cover his eyes, lip quivering as he fought to regain his composure before Leonard could return. He didn’t want to explain his sorrow to anyone, especially since it meant that he would be putting himself in grave danger. For now, his story would remain untold, a secret burden he would carry on his own.
Atop the ship, Leonard sat back on his knees, staring out towards the setting twin suns as he regarded the coming night with a similar, inner darkness. He wasn’t sure accepting the other man’s offer was wise, specifically with his situation. What if Raymond wasn’t blind as he claimed? He could possibly recognize Leonard, then have him arrested. To protect himself, Leonard would have to find out a dark secret that Raymond wouldn’t want others to know. One big enough to prevent him from ever handing him over to the authorities.
Leonard sighed loudly in frustration, shaking his head as he set back to work, refusing to let his hands remain idle long enough for him to be drawn back into the memories of his past. It was something best forgotten.
“Alright, pay me and we can leave.”
Raymond looked up from where he’d been resting his chin on his knees. He’d heard Leonard’s approach, but chose to feign unawareness until the other spoke. It would be good if he kept the smuggler thinking he wasn’t more capable than what he portrayed.
“You never named your price.” Raymond answered in a calm voice, reaching up the smooth a hand over his bandaged eyes again, “how much were you wanting?”
“20,000.” Came the quick response, Raymond sitting silently for several moments before speaking up again. “I can give you eight now, another twenty once you get me to where I’m going.” The blind man answered in a calm voice, falling quiet as he waited to hear what Leonard had to say, sensing the smuggler’s distrust as easily as one would have been able to say the sky was blue. “How do I know you’ve got that much?”
Standing, Raymond brushed himself off before answering. “I suppose you’ll just have to trust me.”
Silence fell for a moment, Leonard eventually giving a grunt as he pushed past Raymond to board the ship. “Fine. But if you try to take off without paying me I’ll sell you to the Hutts.” He responded in a dark tone that surprised his companion. Leonard definitely had a lot of anger and darkness in him, even with the brief glimpse Raymond was able to catch. The smuggler had kept it so well hidden in the cantina that he hadn’t noticed it at first, but now it was definitely clear, and further set Raymond with a feeling of unease. Had he sensed Leonard to be capable of using the force, he’d have feared that he’d just made a deal with a possible sith.
“You have my word that you will receive your payment.” Raymond answered softly, following after his brooding companion towards what he assumed to be the cockpit. There was nowhere else they’d be going, and Leonard seemed to have calmed back into his cold, stoic self again. “From my experience, someone giving their word is useless. It’s just that: words.” The other man answered. “Sit there.”
Raymond reached out a hand to feel for the seat, finding it without too much trouble before he seated himself, listening as Leonard dropped himself down nearby, pushing buttons as the ship powered on around them. It felt a little rough initially, but smoothed out quickly enough that Raymond decided it was nothing to be worried about.
“It’s a YT-24400. Might be a little bumpy at times.” Leonard mumbled, and Raymond was unsure if the smuggler had really intended to ‘reassure’ him, or if he was trying to justify the state of his ship… Either way, the older man hadn’t done anything to make the smuggler feel the need to do so. At least he was pretty sure he hadn’t.
Raymond tensed up the further they went, waiting for a static-laced voice to come up on the comm ordering them to give their clearance codes for takeoff, or demanding to know where they were going. When it didn’t come, Raymond took a moment before remembering that there wasn’t a big imperial presence on Tattooine, so all Leonard had to do was leave the atmosphere. Nobody really asked questions on a planet like Tattooine, not unless they were looking for trouble.
“Are you the only one on this ship?” Raymond finally spoke up, keeping himself facing forwards as he waited for the response, not one to enjoy silence very much, though Leonard seemed to, if the slight irritation in the force around him was anything to go by.
“I’m not sure. Are you a figment of my imagination?” Leonard questioned sarcastically, startling Raymond a little, the robed male turning his face towards him now before offering the tiniest of smiles. “I meant to ask if you’re the only member of the crew.” He clarified.
Leonard fell silent, and Raymond realized that perhaps it was a question he shouldn’t have asked until he’d gotten to know the smuggler a bit.
“I am now. My droid’s gone floating around in space somewhere with my old partner.” Leonard answered quietly, hands a little more aggressive on the controls now as he put in the coordinates for the hyperdrive.
Raymond was quiet for a few moments, sitting stock still in his seat as he reached out with the force, searching the ship for any other signs of life forms, finding one… It didn’t seem human though, and that set the young force-user on edge. “But you’re not alone on this ship, are you?” He questioned, sitting up a little straighter.
The smuggler was looking at him now, Raymond could feel the faint prickle on his skin, the same kind anyone got when they got the feeling they were being watched. It bothered him, the cold silence as Leonard watched him from only a few feet away.
Breathing out as quietly as he could, Raymond gave the tiniest nod of his head, but the feeling of someone watching him didn’t fade, even as he sensed Leonard turn away from him. “So you do still have a partner?” He questioned softly.
Raymond was at a loss of what to say next, the older man sitting upright as he listened, allowing the force to guide his thoughts, drawing on it to try and keep himself calm. “Then why would you say you’re not alone?” The dark-haired human asked again.
Perhaps he’d made a very bad choice in choosing someone to give him a ride to Alderaan… Raymond was just about ready to forcibly take over the ship, but then he may not be able to fly the freighter on his own, nor did he have the clearance codes for landing.
“I have a companion. Her name is Kigra.” Leonard announced, flipping a few switches even as he watched the robed Alderaanian out of the corner of his eye. There was something off about him, and Leonard was going to find out. “She’s a nexu.” The way Raymond visibly relaxed only helped confirm that he had something to hide, Leonard turning to look at him with a narrowed gaze again.
“I’ve heard Nexu were not capable of being tamed.”
Leonard allowed the slightest flicker of amusement to pass over his face, expression still guarded even in the presence of a blind man. “There’s always a first time. Besides, I’m capable of conquering any odds.” He responded confidently, pressing himself back into his seat as the ship entered hyperspace with a lurch. “She won’t hurt you so long as I don’t order it.” Leonard added to further put the other at ease. It wouldn’t do if Raymond kept his guard up. It would only make it harder for the smuggler to try and ensure his own safety.
“Tell me something, Raymond.”
Looking up, the blind man offered a nod as he waited to hear the question.
“What are you so afraid of?” Leonard questioned, noticing the curious intake of air as well as the way Raymond seemed to move his hands into his lap, close to his waist. It was a sign that he was carrying a weapon, and the smuggler immediately took quick note of it. So this man wasn’t as innocent as he claimed?
“I fear what most others do, except moreso as a blind man,” the dark-haired male responded, head tilted in Leonard’s general direction, “I fear travelling with a man I do not know. Tragedy seems to befall those that make such dangerous decisions.”
“Yet you still made it.” Leonard answered, causing Raymond to feel a little more nervous. “Yes.” He answered in a calm voice, regardless of the uncertainty filling him.
Humming, Leonard nodded even though the other wouldn’t see it. “Come. I will show you where you can stay.” The smuggler ordered.
Raymond got up, pulling away a little when he felt a hand at his elbow, head quickly whipping around to face the smuggler that was suddenly so close to him. “Do you need me to guide you?” Came the quiet, almost accusing words, the force-user hesitating a moment before offering a single nod. “I would be grateful.” He answered, allowing Leonard to grip his elbow and lead him from the cockpit.
Navigating the hall together, Raymond sensed the non-sentient life form approach well before he heard the growl from somewhere in front of him.
“Quiet, Kigra.” Leonard ordered, the sound immediately ceasing to exist as Raymond felt something snuffle at his leg before grabbing a corner of his robe to tug at it. At a sharp ‘no’ from Leonard, the beast immediately let go and followed along behind the two men. From what he’d felt, Raymond doubted the nexu was fully grown.
“Here it is.”
Raymond stopped when Leonard did, the younger man reaching across him to seeming type in a code before a door slid open. “I’ve deactivated the code. You can reset it if you wish. Either that or just leave the door unlocked, but then you might find Kigra sleeping with you some nights.” The smuggler explained with what sounded like a strained, cold tone. The sudden change certainly warranted Raymond to feel a little more on edge, but he stepped into the room anyways. “Thank you.”
The silence that followed was full of a tenseness that seemed to unsettle Kigra, the nexu giving a soft growl again before Leonard spoke up and broke it, but his words only served to keep Raymond even further on guard.
“A final question, Raymond.” Leonard stated, making it clear it wasn’t a question, but Raymond treated it as such anyways, dipping his head ever so slightly. “Of course.” He answered, forcing confidence into his voice even though he felt nothing of the sort.
The following words caused Raymond’s whole body to go cold as if he’d stepped out into the snow of Hoth stark-naked and frozen there.
“When were you planning on telling me you were a Jedi?”
Alright. So Leonard and Raymond met in the year of 4BBY, 4 years before there was any real presence of the empire on Tattooine (that I could find in my research, there wasn't a blockade over Tattooine until the year 0BBY, when Luke Skywalker leaves the planet with Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi.)
They are the ages of 25 (Leonard) and 28 (Raymond). I am going to try and stick to the real timelines as best I can, but I will be bringing things in from all sorts of extended universe and everything, so things might get a little messy. Good thing it's an AU I suppose. :)
Also, Mandalorians will make an appearance in my story, but they won't be the really dumb version like from The Clone Wars (animated). (Where Mandalorians suddenly became pacifist and no longer kept to the old warrior ways) Yeah I'm a Pre-Vizsla extremist. I had read about Mandalorians on Wookieepedia before they were updated with the newest (and dumbest) version.
So in my story, Mandalorians will have remained true to their upbringing as warriors. Pre-Vizsla was someone who wanted to dominate the universe, and a terrorist. So he and Death Watch can still fit in someplace. (I actually have the old version of Mandarlians copied down and saved from Wookieepedia from BEFORE The Clone Wars (animated) came out and ruined them. I don't know how to publish it though like all the other pages, because I would and entitle it old age. What Mandalorians were viewed as before TCW. :(
Hope this helps to keep the story from getting too confusing. Ask questions whenever you need to!! (I have the previous version of Mandalorians saved in a google doc if you want to see it.)
Raymond was at a loss for words as he sensed the smuggler move, Leonard producing his lightsaber from wherever it’d been hidden, the jedi’s right hand immediately moving to his side, feeling beneath the cloak in search of the tell-tale weapon.
“Mm. Jedi should really wear their weapons somewhere besides their sides. It’s getting to be repetitive,” Leonard announced as he inspected the weapon with distaste. “You’d think that a man would be more careful in times like these.”
A moment passed before Raymond lunged, a hum splitting the air as the jedi dodged aside, sensing the heat of his weapon in the air near his neck, causing him to stop. He could try to use the force to pull it away from Leonard, but the other male seemed to know his way around a lightsaber.
“I wouldn’t underestimate me, dear Jedi,” the smuggler announced, voice cold enough to make Hoth itself jealous. “I’ve fought every type of warrior in existence, and I will have no trouble removing your head from your shoulders.”
Raymond set his jaw as Kigra prowled around the perimeter of the room, rumbling deep within her chest, obviously unsure of how to respond to her master’s change in demeanor. The only thing keeping her from attacking the blind man was because no order had been given for her to do so.
“What do you want?” Raymond finally asked, inwardly kicking himself for not sensing Leonard take his lightsaber. It was a foolish mistake, and now he may pay for it. The mission he’d been assigned would remain incomplete, jeopardizing the plans he’d been let in on. “Credits? To shoot me out the airlock?”
Leonard clicked his tongue, a slight bit of amusement filling him as he tilted his head to regard the taller human. “I can get credits. More than you can give if I hand you over to the Empire,” the smuggler paused as he watched Raymond stiffen, smirking now. “But then I’d just be tossed into the cell next to you.”
The lightsaber deactivated, allowing Raymond to relax slightly, though he remained on guard. Any chance he got to retrieve his weapon and remove Leonard from the high ground would be acted upon. “Then what is it you want? You must want something.”
Another sound of amusement from somewhere in front of him, followed by a disturbance in the air.
Raymond easily caught the weapon tossed back to him, slightly surprised.
“Of course, I want something. I just don’t know what it is yet.”
The smuggler’s words confused Raymond as he clutched his lightsaber tightly in his hands, almost as if he was afraid he’d lose it again if he wasn’t careful.
“Purple lightsabers are very rare. The rarest true color from what I know,” Leonard stated softly as he studied the Jedi for a moment, head cocking slightly to one side as he thought for a moment. “That would mean you are truly a fallen Jedi. If not the inheritor of your master’s weapon.”
Raymond tensed up as he listened, the conversation quickly becoming uncomfortable for him.
“Now, who were the few with purple lightsabers? Mace Windu? Siri Tachi? She seems more likely, doesn’t she?”
There was a pause as Leonard studied the other, watching him carefully, searching for a sign that he was right.
Raymond clenched his jaw as he replaced his weapon on his hip and fully focused on the smuggler. “Who my master was is no concern of yours. I need to get to Alderaan, and I’ve paid you to get me there. Unless I need to find another willing to do so without questions?”
There was a laugh as Leonard crossed his arms over his chest. “Not many would transport a Jedi. At least not to where he wants to go. Judging by this reaction, I was correct that Rachi Sitra was your master. You would be trained in Niman and Shien at least. You aren’t skilled enough for the Kai-Kan.”
Rage threatened to rise as Raymond clenched his fists by his side and struggled to keep himself calm with the anger and guilt warring inside of him, the darkside coming to whisper it’s suggestions in his ear again.
It was becoming more often.
“I would ask how you seem to have such an extensive knowledge of the Jedi.” Raymond answered darkly.
“I’ve memorized everything I could about every known Jedi. I always want to be a step ahead of any enemy.”
The smuggler’s response was vague, and Raymond didn’t like it. “How did you get this information? Who are you really?”
Leonard was silent as he studied the blind man, all amusement lost as he turned away. “I will get you to Alderaan. After that, you will owe me a favor.” He stated abruptly, turning away to leave the room, Kigra following after him when he snapped his fingers.
Raymond immediately sat himself on the bed, hands gripping the edge so tightly he was sure he was about to break his fingers, eyes shut as he fought the darkness inside of him. It was trying to tear it’s way to the surface, to break free and take control.
He’d always been susceptible to the darkside’s pull. The Jedi council had been concerned, and refused to graduate him from the rank of Padawan until he had a better hold on it. Rachi had helped as much she could, instructed him whenever an attack came on, but now he had to do it on his own.
Images flashed in his mind, a dance of purple and red light, two forms dodging back and forth as Raymond held his side, completely useless in the fight. He’d been told to flee, but he had hesitated. The was a flash of a familiar face, a look of concern, then it was gone, the sound of a body falling filling the sudden silence.
He should’ve been the one to die…
He’d killed her.
In the cockpit, a stray hand reached to absently rub an unseen wound, ceasing the movement directly over the chest.
The tension aboard the Dark Envy cut the ship in half, Leonard isolating himself to his quarters or the cockpit while Raymond mostly traversed the halls or remained in his rooms. Neither spoke to the other or sought each other out, so it was a surprise for Raymond when the smuggler suddenly confronted him while he was heading for the washroom.
“I’m making a detour.”
Raymond stopped mid-step to turn and look over his shoulder in the direction of the voice, the Jedi all but sensing the way Leonard’s cold, blue gaze dared him to protest. Instead, the Jedi was confused as he fully turned to face Leonard. “Why?” He questioned.
“Because it’s my ship and I decided to.”
The cold response truly put Raymond on edge, the Jedi shifting as he reached out with the force to try and pick up on Leonard’s emotions. It was a wave of hatred, rage, and resentment that struck against him with full force, the intensity of the turmoil causing the blind man to try and support himself against the wall.
“Don’t do that again.”
Raymond focused on calming himself before giving a brief nod, silently wondering how the other had known what he’d been doing. “There must be a reason,” the Jedi questioned as he slowly straightened back to his full height, “why are we making a stop now, when we’re already so close to Alderaan?”
“Something’s come up, and I’ve got to deal with it now. It can’t wait.” Leonard answered darkly, boots echoing softly as he approached the taller male. “And if you want to get to Alderaan quickly, you have to help me.”
Frowning deeply, Raymond’s brow furrowed at his travel companion’s words. “I thought my payment was sufficient?” He questioned idly.
Leonard gave a bark of laughter, the Jedi finding no amusement in the sound. “Oh, for me it is. But if you don’t help me you’ll have a ship without a pilot. Either that or the ship will be stripped for spare parts and you’ll find yourself on a blade worse than that of an Inquisitor.”
The other’s words sent a chill through Raymond, the thrum of a lightsaber followed by a flash of red ran through his thoughts, cruel laughter sounding almost immediately afterwards.
Hearing the sharp intake of air, Leonard looked up, focusing more closely on Raymond, noticing the way the Jedi’s lower lip quivered slightly, the way he stood – almost like a statue – unmoving and trancelike. “Raymond?” He questioned, unsure of how to respond to the other’s reaction.
The sound of his name being spoken pulled Raymond from the dark corners of his mind, the Jedi looking towards the voice again in silence for a moment before dipping his head ever so slightly. “I’ll help you,” he answered in a neutral tone, reigning in his emotions with a soft sigh. “What is it we’re going to do?”
“I need to look into some rumors about someone supposedly seen on Concord Dawn.” Leonard answered, voice so void of emotion it almost sounded robotic.
“Why do you need my help then?” Raymond questioned, trying to think back to what he knew about the Mandalorians. From what he knew, it was very rare for the warriors to even let anyone land on their planet or moons, and even then they were suspicious. “If we even get to land, why can’t you question them about it?”
Leonard was silent for a moment before speaking. “You will be the ones asking questions. As far as they know, this is your ship and you’re a bounty hunter known as Ragnar Palmenz. I’ve already arranged the necessary documents.”
A flicker of nervousness passed through Raymond as he listened to the smuggler in bewilderment. He was a JEDI!! Did Leonard forget so quickly? If he landed on Concord Dawn and they found out, he would no doubt be shot down right then and there! Unless of course they were in the mood for entertainment!
“I’m a Jedi. If they find out they will-”
“Execute you, yes everyone knows how Mandalorians feel about Jedi. That is why you will have to give me your lightsaber. I will hide it well enough that they won’t find it.”
“Who are the rumors about? Why is this person so important?”
“That’s for me to know. I’ll tell you should it ever become relevant.”
Leonard’s evasion of his questions was beginning to become frustrating, but Leonard held his tongue and just turned away, wanting to head back to his rooms to meditate when another question stopped him in his tracks.
“Why can’t you go see them and ask your questions?” Raymond questioned as he stood in the middle of the hall.
A long stretch of silence followed, almost leading Raymond to believe the smuggler had left, but his life force was still nearby.
“Some questions are best to remain unanswered.” Leonard answered in a whisper, voice almost sad as the sound of receding footsteps sounded, notifying Raymond that he was now on his own.
The Jedi frowned deeply as he headed back to his room to meditate. Just what was Leonard trying to hide from him? The smuggler had subtly hinted that he would be imprisoned or killed if he were to do this without Raymond’s help, so the Mandalorians obviously didn’t think of Leonard any better than they would a Jedi… Perhaps meditating would help him understand.
Icy air washed over pale skin, goosebumps tickling the exposed flesh as the tall figure breathed deeply, the cold settling in the stranger’s lungs.
Testing the ground with his feet, snow crunched as boots connected with stone.
‘Rock and ice…’ The stranger mused silently.
He knew this planet.
There was a flash of light followed by warmth, a fire crackling nearby as children’s laughter echoed around him, causing a smile to touch slightly blued lips.
A boom sounded, the ground rocking as screams filled the cold air, another explosion knocking the foreigner to the ground as he blindly scrambled for shelter as a whoosh sounded overhead, the backdraft telling just how fast the object was moving.
It was silent now, the only sound being the crunching of snow beneath a handful of booted warriors that rhythmically moved to and from the village buildings.
The steady clanking of droids echoed in the back of the stranger’s mind before fading back into the present sound of footsteps over slushy snow.
Two children crying.
A single child screaming at the top of his lungs as he thrashed.
A conversation in an unfamiliar language, followed by a thud.
Why was it so quiet…?
Echoes of the past laughter teased him.
What had happened here…
Slowly withdrawing from the deep connection he’d formed with the force, Raymond tilted his head upwards to focus on Leonard. “Yes?” He asked, so terribly quiet.
“We’re coming within range of their scanners. You have to get to the cockpit now.” Leonard informed him.
Raymond gave a quick nod before pushing himself to his feet, the heavy weight of unfamiliar armor slightly setting him off balance as he did so, the young jedi pausing only briefly to regain his composure before giving a small smile.
“What’s so funny?” Leonard questioned as he led the way to the cockpit. He would make himself scarce when the time presented itself.
“It’s just interesting how I’m now the one with your life in my hands.” Raymond answered nonchalantly, Leonard’s annoyance sending a ripple through the force as the Jedi seated himself in the cockpit, fingers gently fingering the controls. He already knew what each one did. He didn’t need eyesight to fly a ship, but the Mandalorians can’t know that.
“It’s both our lives actually.” Leonard answered coldly, opening his mouth to continue when the comm crackled to life, effectively silencing him.
“Pilot of the Dark Envy, you’re now entering Mandalorian space. State your intentions or we will shoot you down.”
Raymond’s heart skipped a beat as he glanced up towards Leonard before leaning forwards and activating the transmitter. “Ragnar Palmenz, formerly known as Bralor, seeking a place to stop and refuel. I require some intel as well.” He announced, keeping his voice clipped and to the point.
There was a brief moment of silence before the comm light turned on again. “Dark Envy you have permission to land. While on Concord Dawn you will be accompanied by a guard and expected to adhere to Mandalorian laws and policies. Any infraction will result in your immediate incarceration or execution.” The staticky voice announced before cutting out again.
Raymond hesitated and glanced up at Leonard, only to find he was gone. “Understood.” He mumbled, placing his helmet over his head, concealing the wrappings that told of his blindness.
Retreating into the force, the young jedi carefully navigated the ship towards the given coordinates, setting it up so it would land automatically. No way did he want to chance slipping up and blowing his cover in any way.
The moment the ship touched down, the comm crackled to life again. “Remain where you are and prepare to be boarded.” The crackling voice ordered.
“Affirmative.” Raymond responded, unclipping his safety harness before lowering the boarding ramp and deactivating the defense systems.
Heart within his mouth, Raymond crossed his arms over his chest as he leaned back in his seat to attempt to hide their trembling, legs overlapping at the ankles as he waited for the Mandalorian warriors to make their appearance. He didn’t have long to wait either, the sound of booted feet echoing off the Envy’s polished floors reaching his ears and disturbing the force like ripples in a pond long before they arrived in the cockpit.
Raymond gave what he hoped was a lazy salute, moving to snatch up the papers identifying him as a bounty hunter before turning in his seat to hold it out in the direction of the life-forms. He hoped that his movements seemed fluid and not as awkward as it felt.
The silence was unnerving, the only sound being the tapping of a datapad and rustling papers.
Never before had Raymond heard words as relieving as those, the jedi abruptly standing. “Now that things are in order, who do I need to pay for a refueling?” The young male questioned, voice sounding foreign with the way the helmet filtered out any and all emotion or feeling. “I need to see someone from the Protectors as well.”
Raymond didn’t even know the meaning of half of what he was saying, the jedi just randomly said everything Leonard had instructed him to do so. It was difficult, since he had no idea about Mandalorian culture or practices, so he wouldn’t know how to address one of these ‘protectors’ and inwardly hoped any slight would be overlooked. Even if Mandalorians weren’t known for missing details.
“We’ll make sure the fueling gets done. As soon as possible,” one of the warriors answered as the paperwork was tossed back onto the nearby console. “I want you off Concord Dawn within the joor.”
Raising his eyebrows, Raymond gathered up the papers that had been so callously discarded, setting them aside neatly as footsteps slowly faded down the hall again.
Turning the jedi sensed one remaining life form, leading him to ‘stare’ for several moments. “And who might you be?” He questioned curiously, though it wouldn’t be heard over the synsethization of his voice.
“Shouldn’t my clan symbol be enough?”
The question caused Raymond to start, the jedi having no ability to see the symbol, nor would he be able to recognize it if he could. “I prefer names.” Raymond answered quickly to avoid causing suspicion.
“Tibur of Clan Grimm,” the Mandalorian answered, “I heard that you originate from Bralor, but no longer refer to yourself by their name. Why is that?”
Raymond guessed this Mandalorian was young, mostly due to the uncharacteristic curiosity and how much he spoke. A large contrast from the more seasoned warriors, who were hard pressed to have any sort of conversation with an outsider.
Regarding the other for a moment, Raymond decided silence was the best method, so he just turned away from the other.
“How were you dishonoured?”
The new question caused Raymond to still, startled. Dishonoured?
“The gray of your armor. It’s the color of dishonour. The white of pure intention and that specific shade of yellow means quest. It’s not hard to read one’s most recent chapter in their lives so long as they wear the correct colours.” The young Mandalorian warrior stated.
Raymond drew himself up to full height, still not turning to regard the other yet, unwanted memories choosing this moment to resurface, the Jedi’s hands tightly clenching.
“I was young. Very young. Trained exactly like every other warrior. Exact same way. Same teachers. Same principles.” Raymond stated softly, mind drifting as he recounted his own tale. “But they can’t teach you what real combat is like. I was with my mentor when it happened. We were attacked by an opponent far superior than either one of us alone… When he attacked, I hesitated.”
Silence fell for a few moments as Raymond attempted to keep control over himself.
“It cost her her life. My actions resulted in the death of my teacher, but my dishonour didn’t end there. I fled. I left her body where it had fallen, and couldn’t remember where to go in order to retrieve it.” Raymond stated, glancing over his shoulder out of habit. “Now I must regain my honor. Until then, I cannot return to my clan, nor to Mandalore.”
“Perhaps you can learn from this story, Tibur, if the one telling it wasn’t dishonoured. There is no merit to his words.” A new voice announced, startling Raymond. He’d been so focused on his loss that he hadn’t noticed the presence of the newcomer. He wisely chose to remain silent.
The newcomer turned his attention onto Raymond, looking the supposed bounty hunter up and down for a moment before speaking again. “You wanted to speak with a Protector. I’m here. State your business.”
Raymond cleared his throat and glanced towards Tibur before answering. “I’m looking for someone supposedly seen here. A woman that goes by the name of Lyzae.” The dark-haired Jedi announced.
“No one here that I know of by that name. Nor has there been any newcomer besides you.” The oldest Mandalorian announced dismissively.
Nodding silently, Raymond hesitated before speaking up and stopping the Mandalorian in his tracks. “Have any of you ever heard of the smuggler Leonard Snart?”
Barely had the name left his mouth when a blaster was pulled and held up to his face, Raymond tensing up as he heard blasters powering up all around him.
“How do you know of Leonard Snart?”
Sorry I took so long guys. Been dealing with so much the past few days I'm usually too tired and down to write anything.
I hope this kinda makes up for it...
His mind raced to produce a feasible excuse for his knowledge of Leonard, Raymond leaning back in his seat very slowly, avoiding any sudden movements that could justify the surrounding warriors with shooting him.
"I'm a bounty hunter. My current job is locating Snart and delivering him to the Huttese." Raymond finally responded, head tilting ever so slightly as he tried to give off an air of confident suspicion. "Perhaps he is here, and you wish to protect him? If that's the case, then we may have a bit of trouble on our hands... No matter, I need the exercise."
Raymond fervently prayed that his threatening stance wouldn't sabotage himself, the Jedi remaining where he was seated, fingers steepled beneath his chin in a sort of nonchalant way, giving the impression that he wasn't the least bit worried.
"Threaten me again, hut'tuun, and I'll have you so full of blasterfire that not even that armor will protect you." The Protector's voice hissed darkly, a movement disturbing the air as he motioned for his soldiers to stand down. "Leonard Snart is no friend of ours. He's wanted for murder, theft, and desertion."
This new revelation startled Raymond, the Jedi's eyes widening from behind his visor as he listened, the sudden silence seeming to give him a chance to speak. "Well... He hasn't been making friends anywhere it seems. The Hutts have a bone to pick with him, and now you seem to have similar issues... Interesting." The jedi hummed softly in thought, heart beating frantically as he tried to keep his cool.
"Hutts got no right putting a bounty out on a Mandalorian," a new voice spoke up from somewhere behind Raymond, the seeming leader grunting in aggreement. "Tell you what, Raynar, if you find Leonard Snart, you bring him back here. We'll pay you just as much as the Hutts would, and Snart will be tried by his own people."
"Wouldn't be honorable to go against a contract," Raymond answered as he shifted uneasily, but the Mandalorians surrounding him seemed to take it as interest.
The warrior before him laughed. "Wouldn't be honorable to hand one of your kinsmen over to the Hutts. At least here there wouldn't be endless torture waiting for him." The mandalorian answered coldly, the barrel of his blaster tapping against Raymond's chest, the steady click, click, click causing him to tense up. "Who knows? Maybe that'll be the start of you regaining your honor. Bringing a brother home to his people instead of abandoning him to the Hutts."
Pain jabbed at Raymond's heart, the Jedi's fingers curling into tight fists as he felt resentment, grief, and anger swirl around inside of him. "What of Lyzae?"
"Told you, no one here by that name."
Raymond just gave a sharp nod, not even bothering to relax as the sounds of boots against metal sounded all around him, the mandalorians seemingly taking their leave.
"By the way," the protector's voice sounded again, causing Raymond to look up, "it's common courtesy to remove your helmet when in the company of officers."
"I meant no disrespect," Raymond answered, quickly attempting to think of a lie that didn't seem to obvious. "I made a vow that I wouldn't ever show my face until my honor was restored." The Jedi explained, holding his breath as he waited for a response.
"Fueling's done. Now get off of Concord Dawn," the older warrior ordered as his footsteps receded down the halls, Tibur's quieter set mirroring them as the two final mandalorians disembarked from the ship.
Raymond let out the breath he'd been holding, hands suddenly shaking as he put in the required demands for the ship to take off and exit Mandalorian airspace. As the engines roared to life the young jedi's mind tried to grasp what he'd learned about Leonard... The smuggler was obviously more than just a smuggler! He was a murderer too? Just how many times had he gone to sleep -meditated- with a murderer nearby??
One thing was for sure... Leonard had some explaining to do.
"You killed someone!! What do you mean it doesn't matter??" Raymond demanded loudly, Kigra giving a disgruntled growl from nearby, obviously disliking the tension between the two men.
"Yes, I killed a man, I shot him while he slept! And you know what?" -Raymond could sense Leonard leaning in uncomfortably close, close enough that he could probably butt heads with the other if he were to try- "it's the fondest memory of my life."
Those words sent a chill down Raymond's spine. Not just the context, but how they were spoken. The darkness in Leonard's tone was almost tangible, the unbelievable amount of rage and hatred in his voice staggering. It was terrifying to know someone could hold so much hatred within them, hatred that was typically so well hidden. If Leonard had been force sensitive, Raymond was certain the other would've made a powerful Sith.
"Why did you kill him?" Raymond's voice was calm, neutral, a stark contrast to the feelings building up inside of him. "Why did you find the need to kill a defenseless person while they slept?"
Leonard's heavy breathing was easy to pick up, the other human turning away from Raymond as if to walk away, but the Jedi reached out and grabbed him by the shoulder, yanking him back around. The aggression in the movement sent a thrill through the Jedi, a fire of unprovoked anger rising up in him. "TELL ME!" He shouted, surprising himself with the volume of his order.
"BECAUSE HE RAPED ME!"
Raymond froze, all of his anger and aggression melting away as his heart gave a painful throb. "What...?" The word was nearly a whisper, the Jedi sensing the pain and startled air radiating off of Leonard, the sudden glimpse of his inner being suddenly vanishing behind a wall of anger as the younger man jerked himself free of the jedi's grasp to stalk away.
The door swished open to allow Leonard's departure, the silence of it shutting a grave contrast to the noise the smuggler's feelings made in the force. Screaming. The Force screamed at Raymond for that brief moment he'd been able to sense the younger's true feelings.
Raymond didn't even realize he was falling until he caught himself on the console, the jedi maneuvering himself to sit int he pilot's chair as he tried to comprehend what he'd heard, what he'd felt. He'd felt a degree of pain in Leonard that he'd never felt in another person. In another living thing.
Seated alone in the cockpit, Raymond cradled his head in his hands as he tried to comprehend what he'd learned in the past couple hours. He'd learned that Leonard had ties to the Mandalorians or was a Mandalorian himself. It was extremely rare for the renowned warriors to let a stranger live among them, perhaps even something that was never allowed... Unless you were a child. Mandalorians often adopted the orphans they made, whether if it was the child of a friend who perished in battle, or the child of someone they had killed. This revelation, however, left Raymond with more questions than answers... Had Leonard been adopted by the Mandalorians? If so, was he born a Mandalorian or an orphan of their making? Who was this woman, this Lyzae, that Leonard wanted to find?
Raymond sighed softly and shook his head, his own inner demons attempting to take advantage of his silent distress, the young jedi forcing them away. Leonard was complicated, and now he'd inadvertently forced the other man to reveal a dark secret that should've been left as such... He'd already sensed the dangerous aura that surrounded the smuggler, and now Raymond had made the other feel threatened. Who knew what Leonard would do now that Raymond knew something he shouldn't?
The most pressing question was... What would Leonard do to keep Raymond silent?
A couple days had passed with Raymond not even seeing a glimpse of Leonard, the smuggler good at avoiding his now-unwanted passenger. The ship was on autopilot, so every time the Jedi searched for Leonard there it would be painfully empty.
Even as they drew within a few hours of Alderaan, Leonard was still nowhere to be found.
It was Kigra's absent wandering of the halls that finally lead Raymond to gather up enough courage to go to the smuggler's rooms, knocking loudly. "Leonard? Leonard, are you in there?" The jedi questioned loudly, knocking a second time when no answer came. It was even more cause to worry, Raymond using the force to forcefully unlock and open the bedroom door. No life forms. Leonard wasn't here either.
What? Did he jump out the airlock or something? Raymond silently mused, heading back down the halls towards the cockpit before he noticed the figure sitting in the very far back of the cargo hold, uncomfortably seated against one of the half dozen crates located inside. Well at least he's not hiding out in one of the hidden rooms for smuggling illegal goods. I'd never find him then.
"Leonard?" Raymond questioned cautiously as he stepped into the cargo hold, regarding the half-asleep man with concern.
Leonard was propped up against the crate, watching him through half-lidded eyes, bottles of trandoshan ale scattered about him in a telling half-circle.
"Are you sober?" Raymond questioned now, more of himself than of the other, but Leonard gave the most bitter of smiles. "Of course I am. I didn't have enough of this stocked to get wrecked on."
The jedi frowned as he knelt next to the younger man. "This stuff could peel the paint off your ship! What do you mean you don't have enough??" Raymond questioned incredulously. Everyone knew that the most potent drink someone could have was Trandoshan Ale, the stuff was so powerful that a single cup could have a wookiee tipsy. Two and that wookiee would be a welcoming mat for everyone else still sober enough to walk.
Leonard shook his head tiredly. "Not enough..."
"You've built an immunity..." Raymond finally realized, frowning deeply as he studied the half-asleep smuggler. "You drank so much that you need Trandoshan Ale to lose yourself in it... Now it can't even take your mind of things."
"Are you going to play shrink or tell me whatever it is you wanted to tell me?" Leonard snapped in response, eyes opening a little more as he mustered up a weak glare.
Raymond opened his mouth to respond before hesitating. Would a man like Leonard really want an apology? Or would he rather just forget about the little incident they had a few days ago? The jedi decided on the latter, giving a shrug of his shoulders. "We're almost to Alderaan," he finally responded, glancing around the hold for a moment. "I'll be getting off immediately to see to the promise I made. But I'll need to have you transport me again once I'm done here, if you're willing to."
"Fine, whatever," Leonard answered with a wave of his hand, Raymond sensing that the other was only half-sober. "Ship'll be here while we see to your promise."
That had Raymond tensing up, the jedi's brow furrowing in confusion. "What do you mean?" He questioned dumbly.
"I mean, Raymond, that I'm coming with you."