Armitage had been right about the rain on Arkanis.
Ben and the others had been staying on planet for a week now to regroup and plan as they waited for Poe to arrive and join their party, and the rain was already starting to get to him. Ben's hair was constantly damp in the moist air, and he'd forgotten what it was like to be completely dry with the wet air seeping through the walls of the cheap hotel they'd holed up in.
The only one who barely seemed to notice, however, was Armitage. Despite having only lived on Arkanis when he was a child, he had adapted to the weather with the same ease and comfort as any of the other locals. Ben had noticed Hux even enjoyed it on some level, smiling softly as he looked out the windows in the evening when the rain poured harder.
Unfortunately, he was the only one who didn't mind the rain.
“Isn’t there ever sunlight here?” Rey asked, hauling their supply pack on her back. Her steps bounced as she dodged the deeper puddles collecting on the roadways. "How does anyone live here without losing their minds from all this rain?"
"I'm sure they'd ask how you survived on a planet that didn't have any for as long as you did," Ben answered back. He mentally went through his shopping list, making sure they had picked up everything they needed. When Poe arrived, he'd have to make sure they had food for nine people for an extended trip, which wasn't a small amount. Ben wasn't sure the Silver Wing had the storage space for it. "Though I agree, this place could use a little sun. It's dreary."
"You think Finn's been okay back there alone?" Rey asked. "He is a little outnumbered by that group."
"Finn can handle himself," Ben said. He saw the hotel come into view and picked up his pace. The rain had started to come down a bit harder, and he wanted to beat the downpour. "He's also the only one with a gun."
"Point," Rey said, grinning. She pushed open the hotel door and waved at the woman behind the desk. She huffed at them and went back to reading. Rey tapped up the stairs toward their room. "I can't wait for Poe to get here. Then we can get this show on the road again."
"Or at least divide the group so we can breathe during the trip there," Ben said. Poe was supposedly bringing a larger shuttle that was big enough to haul his x-wing around, as well as house Rey and Finn. The Silver Wing hadn't had enough places to sleep, so they were forced to get a hotel while they waited. Ben still wasn't sure where all four of Hux's group were going to sleep later though, considering there were only two rooms on his shuttle. "There was no way we'd survive a trip trying to squeeze all nine of us in my ship."
"Only because none of you are willing to sleep on the floor," Rey said.
"You're included in that," Ben said. "You didn't want to either."
"I slept on the floor of a hollowed out ship for most of my life," Rey said, grinning over her shoulder. "I've earned a bed."
"I'll give you that," Ben said. He opened the door to the hotel room, and was glad to note everyone was in one piece. "We're back."
"Have any trouble?" Finn asked, taking the bag from Rey.
"Nope, just rainy weather to dampen our spirits," Rey said, smiling at her own pun. She jumped onto the couch, bouncing the cushion. "We got a confirmation message from Poe, though. He'll be here in about two hours."
"Joy," Armitage said, leaning back in the armchair. He had a datapad in his hand and a holomap open on the side table. "Won't that be a delight?"
"Who's Poe again?" Thanisson asked, digging into the supply bag. "I don't think you guys ever said."
"Poe Dameron, the best pilot in the Resistance," Armitage said, sticking his nose up and doing his best to mimic Poe. "He can fly anything."
"And Hux glassed him in the head with a liquor bottle the last time they saw each other, which turned into a fist fight," Finn added, leaning over the back of the couch next to Rey. "So it's probably going to be a tense reunion."
"He had it coming," Armitage said, looking back at his datapad.
"Oh," Thanisson said. He sat on a kitchen stool and shrugged. "But at least now I know he's a pilot, so that helps getting a good picture of him."
"Oh?" asked Rey.
"I used to work in the hanger bay control tower on the Finalizer, so I interacted with fighter pilots all day," Thanisson said. "It takes a certain type of person to fly those things, and I'm guessing it's not much different on the Resistance side."
"It's not," Ben and Finn said at the same time. They looked at each other and laughed. Ben knocked Finn in the shoulder with his knuckles and said, "Pilots are pilots."
Armitage rolled his eyes and put his feet up on the coffee table. "Did you get everything we needed?"
"Yeah," Ben said. He looked around the room and counted in his head. He walked over to Armitage and sat on the arm of his chair. "Where'd the other three go?"
"Unamo is feeding Millicent and her kin back on the ship," Armitage said, still staring at his datapad. "Mandetat and Mitaka are playing a card game in the bedroom, I believe."
"Cards. Sure, that's exactly what they're doing." Thanisson snickered and Armitage threw a pen at him. "Ow!"
Armitage closed his datapad and looked over at the room. "I'll go get them. You start making dinner. I want to eat before Poe gets here."
Ben nodded and cross his arms. Armitage disappeared into the back room without a second glance and he sighed. They'd talked a little bit about what had happened on the Finalizer and the First Order's fall, but there was still something heavy between them that Ben didn't like.
Dopheld groaned, shifting on the bed. The blankets scrunched under his knee as he changed positions. "How are you so good at this?"
"I've had a lot of practice," Mandetat said, licking the edge of his lip. He smirked, flexing his fingers on the mattress. "What can I say?"
"But every game?" Dopheld said, throwing his cards on the bed. He dropped his elbows on his crossed legs and frowned at the smug man sprawled on his side on the other end of the bunk. "We've played six rounds and you've won every single time."
"Technicians are either drowning in work or starving for it, which means we've got a lot of downtime," Mandetat said, collecting all the cards between them. He stacked them back up and shuffled the deck. "Which means a lot of card games get played."
"Yes, but I know how to play cards," Dopheld said, hating he was pouting. "It's not like I'm completely inexperienced. I should have been at least close to winning one of those hands."
"Maybe i'm just that much better," Mandetat said.
Dopheld watched his face for any hint of deception and--there it was. A slight glimpse of teasing in his eyes. Dopheld leaned forward and grabbed the bottom edge of Mandetat's shirt. He pulled it up, and found the cards tucked into his waistband near the back of his hip.
Holding one of the cards up, Dopheld huffed, "Or you're cheating."
"Or I'm cheating," Mandetat said, snatching his card back with a laugh. He pulled out the other ones from his waistband, shuffling them into the deck. "You learn how to do that playing with a bunch of Technicians, too."
"How about we try that again without the cheating?" Dopheld grabbed the deck and shuffled it himself. "And see how that goes."
"If you want to do it the boring way," Mandetat said.
"Looks like you two have managed to keep yourselves entertained," Hux said, coming into the room. Dopheld sat up a bit straighter, and Mandetat leaned back on his elbows, deflating. Hux closed the door with the back of his heel and pointed over his shoulder. "Ren and the others are back with food. We're going to try and get dinner before Poe arrives."
"Sounds good, sir," Dopheld said, collecting the cards. He wrapped them up and handed them back to Mandetat. "Is there anything we can help with?"
"Be seen," Hux said. He rolled his eyes and pointed at the door. "Ren gets antsy when he doesn't have track of where we all are at all times, and I'm too tired to deal with it right now."
"Yes, sir," Dopheld said. He scooted to the end of the bed, trying to hold in his frown. Lord Ren's lack of trust wasn't unwarranted, but it was starting to wear on everyone's nerves. He couldn't wait for this side-mission to be over with, so they could work on settling into a more normal routine. "We can do that."
"Oh, and Mitaka," Hux said. He rubbed his fingers together and leaned from one foot to the other. "You really don't need to keep calling me 'sir' any more. As I've told you before, 'Hux' is fine."
"Right," Mitaka said, something tightening in his chest. He rubbed the back of his neck and said, "Habits, you know?"
"I do," Hux said. He smiled a bit and put his hand up like he was going to whisper. "At least you can break them with some practice. I'm fairly certain Unamo won't stop calling you and I 'Sir' until she's dead."
Dopheld chuckled under his breath at the shared joke, and even Mandetat shared a smile. Hux nodded one last time before straightening his face back into a scowl and going back into the shared area of the hotel suite.
"You okay?" Mandetat leaned across the bed and nudged Dopheld with his shoulder. "You looked a little heartbroken there when he told you to stop being formal."
"I'm fine," Dopheld said, leaning back into Mandetat. "It just sort of drove home that the First Order is really over. I'm not sure I know how to function without the systematic rank and file."
"We'll figure it out," Mandetat said. He patted Dopheld on the back, and got up. "Come on, let's go enjoy some real food."
"Yes," Dopheld said. He stood up and straightened his hair out. "Ration bars is the one thing I will not miss about the First Order."
"You said it," Mandetat said, throwing his arm around Dopheld' shoulder and ruffling his hair.
To say Hux was not looking forward to Poe arriving was an understatement. That man meant trouble, but at least this time Hux didn't have to deal with him alone.
"Did you really glass this man in the head?" Mitaka asked, standing next to him as they waited at the spaceport for the man's shuttle.
"Yes," Hux answered.
"I take it he's going to be a rather unpleasant person than," Mitaka said, putting his arms behind his back. He tugged on the back of his loose clothes, as uncomfortable in the civilian garb as Hux had been the first time he'd worn it. "You're usually rather tolerant."
Hux pressed his lips together and shook his head. "He's very good at pressing buttons, I'll give him that."
"He promised to play nice," Ren said, walking by as he paced. He seemed restless, and Hux wondered what was eating at him this time. So far everything had been fairly civil in the hotel room, and the Resistance hadn't chased them all down after that last battle, so he wasn't sure what Ren had to be upset about. The man turned on his heel and pointed, "So I hope you guys will, too."
"I don't plan on talking to him at all," Hux said, crossing his arms. If all this was about worrying that Hux would start another fight, he was a bit insulted. "If that counts."
"Close enough," Ren said.
The small group made up of Ren, Hux, and Mitaka waited together on the landing platform. The rest of their group was making room at the Inn for Poe, and packing up everyone's things for the split when they finally returned to their respective ships. If they kept to the plan, this would be their last night in the hotel and they'd be leaving in the morning. Hux checked the time and sighed.
Poe was ten minutes late.
"Isn't he supposed to be the best pilot in the galaxy?" Hux asked. "What could be keeping him?"
"I'm sure it was something mundane," Ren said. He sniffed and ran his hand through his hair. The rain misted around them, making his damp hair looked slicked back. It was rather nice looking if you asked Hux, but he knew it was bothering Ren. "Like being held up at traffic control."
"If he's late because he's flirting with the control tower, I do hope you tell him off for wasting our time," Hux said.
"Is he that sort of person?" Mitaka asked.
"Yes, but he knows when to behave," Ren said. He looked back over the sky and leaned his head back. He took a step forward and held a hand up to block the rain from his eyes. "I think I see a ship."
"Is it his shuttle?" Hux asked.
Ren dropped his hand down. "No."
Hux looked up at the incoming ship and cursed loud enough to startle Mitaka into a jump. "Absolutely not! What is he doing here?"
Ren at least had the decency to sound angry. "I don't know."
"What?" Mitaka asked. "What's going on?"
Neither bothered to answer the poor man, but Hux and Ren stewing in their own brand of anger as the approaching vehicle got closer. The Corellian cargo ship landed a few moments later, the ramp dropping before the landing gear had fully dropped.
Han Solo marched right out onto the platform, making a straight line for Hux. He was fast for an old man, and had his fist raised and slamming into the crook between Hux's nose and eye before Hux could even think to dodge.
"General!" Mitaka shouted as Hux slammed into the ground head first.
"That's for nearly killing my wife!" Solo yelled. He kicked Hux in the ribs with the heel of his boot before stepping back. "And that's for kidnapping my son."
"Dad, stop it!" Ren said, grabbing Solo's arm and pulling him back. "What are you doing here?"
"It's good to see you too, Ben. How have you been, harboring the most evil man in the galaxy?" Solo asked.
"We talked about this over the comm!"
They kept arguing, but Hux couldn't focus on their conversation, too busy feeling his ribcage to see if anything was broken. He pushed away Mitaka, who had dropped by his side and began to fuss over the injuries with a panicked glance over his shoulder every so often at the two Solos yelling in the background. His nose had also started bleeding, but it didn't seem broken. If this wasn't the start of a marvelous trip, he didn't know what was.
"Man, I wish I had gotten that on film," a familiar, and too amused voice, said over Hux's head. "Don't you think that would have been a perfect scrapbook moment, Chewbacca?"
The Wookie roared in response and Hux covered his head with his hands. He wondered if Mitaka would think less of him if he locked himself into his room on the command shuttle and didn't come out for the rest of his life.