Prologue—A Promise Kept
The air was cool and dry, so different from the lush meadow and white beach that always linked her to him in his head. It was quiet; the only noises were the breeze and the distant noises of the work mines. Cassian shuffled from one foot to another. He was close to her, so close to being with her in the waking world. He should have known who she was from all of the crumbs of information she inadvertently shared with him when she was younger; he could have found her through his networks if he tried hard enough, and taken her home with him. But he was selfish, always wanting to escape back into the dreams. Up ahead, there was a rumble of a prison transport. He squinted his eyes towards the sun. Stardust would be here soon, whether she knew it or not.
“Cassian,” Kaytoo broke through his thoughts. “You should stay on the ship and allow me to assist with the extraction. The odds that the prisoner will be hostile is at 85%. There is no need for you to risk yourself when the team and myself will suffice.”
“Your odds are a little off, my friend,” Cassian’s lip quirked. “There is unfortunately, some information that you do not have.” He could feel Kaytoo’s resentment .
“And you did not see fit to give me that information,”
“I’m sorry,” and he was. “But the information was sensitive, and you have to admit, you do have a tendency to spout the first thing that comes into your circuits. Could have compromised a few things.”
“Captain Andor,” Melshi’s comm thankfully cut off any response Kaytoo might have had.
“Transport in range, all men in position.” From his vantage point, he could see the grenades being readied.
“Acknowledged,” He moved to the front of the boulder, and waited. He clenched and unclenched his hands.
It was only a minute from the grenades going off to the small figure that barreled out of the door of the transport amidst the yelling and chaos. Cassian caught her in his arms. She stank of unwashed body odor and her greasy hair slipped and caught on the stubble on his face. But she was here, and he was fighting to hold on to her. He caught her right wrist and her left elbow as she tried to break out of his hold—a move that he had taught her. She let out a strangled grunt.
“Stardust! It’s me!” She stopped short at the name. “You’re being rescued.” Her eyes, which had been both wild and determined, became unfocused.
“Star?” she murmured as she struggled against him. “Why are you--?” her eyes rolled up into her head as she sagged against him. He quickly lifted her and began to run towards the ship. Behind him, he could hear Melshi moving his team out before they were discovered.
“Kay, get ready to move!” He shouted.
“Yes, Cassian.” Metal fingers softly clinked against metal buttons. “I see that you have extracted her unharmed.”
“I told you that your odds were off.” He brought her into the cargo hold of the ship, where the benches were. He nodded to Bravo team as they ran into the cockpit. “Strap yourselves in. We’re not staying here any longer.” There were no replies but gasps and groans.
He threaded his fingers through her hair, and held her face in his hand has he hurriedly strapped her in. She was real.
“Cassian, your assistance is needed.” He bit back a groan. He could see that Kaytoo would be providing a fair amount of unwelcome distractions. But they did have to get off of this Force forsaken planet and he was the co-pilot.
“On my way,” he yelled up. He leaned towards Stardust and brushed a kiss to her forehead. She stirred, but did not wake.
“I promised to find you,” he whispered into her ear. “I’ve brought you home.”