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Hands off of BB-Eight

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Hands off of BB-Eight

 

When Rey got off the bus, she closed her eyes and took deep breath.  Yes, it smelled exactly how it had to smell - like cow dung, gasoline and damp dirt.  It smelled like summer vacation with uncle Luke. She sighed deeply.

“Good to be back.”

Her brother nodded, shouldered his black backpack and handed Rey her sand-coloured duffle-bag. She had bought it a few years ago, and she had used it for every single trip she had gone on ever since. Together they started walking. They knew the path well enough that they could have walked it backwards with closed eyes if they’d wanted to. They passed the cow pasture next to the bus stop, the old graveyard and the little church, walked all around the village-pond and continued their way until they finally stood in front of the tiny crooked house with the huge, wild garden. It looked the same as always – the blue and orange paint was slowly flaked off the walls and in the flower boxes on the windowsill grew heads of lettuce. Luke was no-where to be seen, but his dogs, Artoo and Threepio, laid in the grass and lazily looked up to Rey. Rey laughed and bent down to scratch their heads.

“Hello, you super-watchdogs.”

Ben opened the door to the pass-through – when he had bought the house, Luke had removed two of the walls of the secondary hallway and created a pass-through that was closed off by a large, green wooden sliding door – and stepped through the house and into the even lager garden at the other side. Rey followed suit. On the other side, as expected, they found their uncle. He was sitting on the edge of the wooden terrace and held another dog on his lab. This one was new, Rey didn’t know it, but it was huge, black and apparently had an injured paw, at least Luke was in the midst of bandaging it.

“Hey, Luke”, Rey said. Her uncle looked up and a smile crept onto his face.

“Rey. Ben. Wait a moment, would you? I am almost done.”

Rey nodded, dropped her bag to the ground and sat down on next to her uncle. “A new one?”, she asked. “Is it one of the road-dogs Wedge keeps bringing you?”

“Yes”, Luke said, now again concentrating on the dog’s paw. “He’d called Kay-Too.”

“Another stray for you to feed.” Ben sat down next to his sister, reached out and scratched Kay-Too behind one of his big, pointy ears. Luke shrugged and finished his work by taping the end of the bandage down. “I don’t mind it.”

Of course he didn’t, and Rey and Ben both knew that. For years now Wedge Antilles, Luke’s partner and now the village’s veterinarian, had picked up every dog he found at the side of the road and brought it home, and Luke took care of them. Usually, at some point, they managed to find a new home for the strays. Chewbacca II, Rey’s and Ben’s dog, was one of those. He was a very large, woolly dog and was named after a dog their dad had had when he had been younger. But sometimes, the strays stayed, like Threepio and Artoo.

“Now”, Luke said, sending Kay-Too to run off. “Aren’t you a bit early? I wanted to pick you up from the bus stop.”

Rey chuckled. “The bus was too late, actually.”

Luke shrugged again. “Anyways… do you want a coffee? Or wait, no, that’s tea for you, Rey, right?”

Rey nodded.

“And coffee with loads of milk and sugar for you, Ben?”

“Yes.”

 

Ten minutes later, they were sitting in the garden again, Rey and Ben with steaming cups in their hands. They watched the dogs doze in the sun, and the siblings filled Luke in on everything that had happened since they had left six months ago. Rey spoke of her fencing classes and about how Ben was dancing around asking a boy out that he had met at a riding tournament. Ben blushed and then quickly complained about Snoke, their ever-so-hated headmaster. In return, Luke told them about an incident with a goat that had left Wedge with a huge scratch all over his face, about how farmer Dameron’s sheep had escaped their pasture and had run through the entire village, and a bunch of other things that had happened in the past months.

“So nothing changed around here”, Rey stated. Luke sighed. “Well, except for one thing. Old Ben Kenobi died.”

“What?!”

Rey liked Old Ben, Ben Kenobi. He had been a friend of her grandfather and grandmother, and Rey and her brother had always been welcome on his small farm. It was a bit outside of the actual village, but they both had always loved it.

“Yeah.” Luke sighed. “The funeral was a few days ago… we’ll all miss him. But he had a nice death, so it’s not that bad, I suppose.”

Ben frowned. “And what about his horse?”

“BB-Eight?” Luke thought about it for a moment. “I guess he’s still in his stable.”

“All alone?”

“Well, his nephew came here to take care of everything. Let’s hope that includes BB-Eight.”

Rey pursed her lips and looked at Ben. A plan started to form in her head, and she could see that Ben had the same idea. They got up and got their bikes from the small barn.

“We’ll be back”, Rey said, and together they drove off. Luke wouldn’t mind it, they had done this sort of thing a hundred times, and they knew the village better than the inside of their own pockets. Luke wouldn’t worry.

First, they drove over to the Dameron Farm. Much like they had expected it, Poe and Finn were sitting on the fence in front of the house. They were brothers and went to the same boarding school Rey went to, but same as Rey and Ben, they usually returned to the village for their holidays. They had left earlier than them this time, several days earlier in fact.

“Hey!”, Rey called. “Did you wait for us?”

“Of course!” Finn jumped down from the fence and gave her a hug and Ben a handshake. “We knew you’d come over.”

“Yeah, you’re predictable, Rey-of-Sun”, Poe said, also coming down to give her a hug and nodding over at Ben. Rey punched him in the shoulder for his remark, but grinned at him and Finn.

“Did you hear about Old Ben?”, Poe asked. Rey and Ben nodded.

“That nephew of his is quite an idiot”, Finn said.

“Really?” Ben leaned her bike against the fence. “How do you know?”

“We met him, though only briefly… Poe dubbed him the Alligator.”

Rey snorted a laugh. “The Alligator?”

Finn shrugged. “He’s got a crocodile grin.”

“A crocodile grin?”      

“Yeah”, Poe nodded. “He’s got one of those very fake, very wide toothy grins. Like a crocodile. And he’s entirely unlikeable. He doesn’t even seem to care that his uncle died. He only sticks around for the money, and he has to wait until the testament enforcement, so…”

“And what about BB-Eight?”, Ben asked. Both boys shrugged.

“The Alligator doesn’t seem like a horse person”, Finn said slowly. “Or any kind of animal-person.”

“Yeah, he’s one of those people that are obviously from the city and have no idea how things go around here.” Poe frowned. “He walks around in an expensive suit with a huge wristwatch and is surprised when he steps into the mud with his freshly polished shoes.”

Finn nodded. “He’s not like Old Ben at all. I didn’t even know he had a nephew.”

“Yeah, we always thought he had no-one but your grandpa”, Poe added.

“I didn’t know, either.” Rey sighed. “Anyways, we’ll go and look for BB-Eight. D’you wanna come?”

“I don’t know, Rey… we shouldn’t go onto a dead guy’s farm”, Finn said. Rey rolled her eyes. “Finn, it’s not like Old Ben’s ghost will be around there, haunting his house and stabled. Besides, even if he’s there as a ghost, he always liked us. So if there’s a ghost-Ben, he won’t mind us being there.”

She picked up her bike. “We are going either way, with our without you.”

After a moment of hesitation, the two boys got their own bikes and the four of them made their way over to the Kenobi farm. It looked the same as always, except for the shining red sports car that was parked in the front.

“Ugh”, Rey huffed. “Why do people like cars like that? They look so stupid.”

“Yeah, but you inherited Dad’s love for old cars that need to be fixed every other day”, Ben pointed out. “The red’s a bit much though. If this thing were black, I would like it.”

They put their bikes into the grass and walked over to the stable. When they got closer, they saw a huge silver car standing in front of it, one of those that were used to transport animals. Red writing on the side announced Slaughterhouse First Order.

“Oh no!” Rey started to run, Ben, Finn and Poe right behind her. They arrived just in time to see a man in a grey overall lead a dirty, piebald horse out of the stable. Or rather, he attempted to lead it, pulling the braided rope that was attached to its halter with almost brutal force. The horse, BB-Eight, the horse pushed all four legs into the ground and did not move a bit. The man cursed and called into the stable: “Mr. Kryze, I think I might need… uargh… a little help here!”

A tall man with reddish-blonde hair and a terribly shiny leather jacket emerged from the stables. He wore snake leather shoes and he did, in fact, have a very toothy unlikable grin.

“I hired you to get this beast out”, he said. “If I wanted to do it myself, I wouldn’t have done that.”

The man, probably the butcher, groaned.

“Hello, Mister!”, Ben called out. “Wait, you didn’t even officially inherit the horse and you are already selling it?”

“Not that that would be your business”, the Alligator said. “Besides, didn’t your parents teach you that you don’t go on somebody else’s property without permission?”

“Your uncle never minded us being here”, Rey said. “You didn’t answer the question. You are selling a horse you don’t even legally own yet?”

“Yes”, the Alligator said slowly. “Now that you have your answer, you can leave.”

Rey crossed her arms in front of her chest and firmly planted her feet against the ground, the way she had seen her brother do it every time he wanted to prove a point. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Ben do the same thing.  

“What do you want?”, Old Ben’s nephew asked exasperated. “Do you want to buy that damn nag?”

“Maybe”, Ben said.

Rey quickly did the math in her head. She had both Ben's and her own money in her wallet. Ben lost his own wallet all the time, that’s why he never brought it along when they visited Luke. Rey was better with money anyway. Together they had about four hundred and fifty pounds. Would that be enough to buy a horse?

“How much do you pay him?”, Ben asked the butcher.

“Two hundred”, the Alligator said, before the butcher could even open his mouth. “If you want it, you’ll have to give me more.”

Ben and Rey exchanged glances. Rey made a few small signs with one hand. They both had invented a sign language back in kindergarten – it came in handy sometimes, like now. Ben nodded.

“We would give you two hundred fifty”, Rey said.

The Alligator seemed to think about it for a moment. “Alright. Deal.”

“Hey!”, the butcher shouted, loud enough that BB-Eight jumped and neighed loudly. “I drove here for almost an hour!”
“Alright”, the Alligator sighed. “Two hundred thirty for me, twenty for that guy.”

The butcher looked as if he wanted to complain, but then he didn’t. He just took the twenty pounds that Rey handed him, got into his car and left.

“Oh, wait!”, Rey said before she gave the Alligator his money. “I think we’d like this transaction in writing.”

“What?”, the Alligator spat out in disbelief. Rey didn’t even flinch. “I want you to write onto a piece of paper that we bought BB-Eight from you.”

She pulled a little a ring-bound writing pad and a ballpoint pen out from her pouch and handed it to the Alligator. With a sour expression, he wrote down what Rey dictated him.

 

When they returned to Luke’s little farm, both he and Wedge stood in front of it and waited for them.

“Rey! Ben!” Wedge came over to them and took the rope that was attached to  BB-Eight’s halter. “Don’t tell me you bought her!”

“We… uh, we did.” Ben scratched his head. “That nephew-guy wanted to give her to the butcher! We couldn’t let him do that! Horses do not belong into sausages and stuff like that.”

Wedge snorted. “A pig would say the same about itself. But you’re right. I’ve been taking care of him for years now, he’s healthy. No need to kill him off.”

“Yeah, that’s what we thought.” Ben shrugged. “We bought him, Rey even made him write and sign a proper contract, and…”

“Ben, hold on a second”, Luke interjected. “It’s fine that you bought him, but what if Old Ben wanted someone else than his nephew to have BB-Eight? Your transaction wouldn’t be valid then.”

Ben sighed. “I didn’t think of that.”

“I highly doubt that that happens”, Wedge said, gently caressing BB-Eight’s head and neck. “Old Ben didn’t have anyone else. Anakin… well, he’s not an option anymore, so who else remains? His nephew, Leia and you, Luke. Maybe you two, too. He always had a soft spot for you. But besides those few people, there really is nobody he could give anything to.”  

Luke frowned a little, but then nodded. “I suppose you’re right, Wedge. Alright, Ben, Rey, bring your new horse on the paddock. The small one where we keep the goats, just in case he and Porg don’t get along.”

Ben nodded, took the rope from Wedge and started walking around the house. Rey waved Finn and Poe goodbye and then followed her brother. She found him sitting in the grass next to the small paddock, legs crossed and a brooding expression on his face.

“Hey, you alright?” Rey dropped into the grass beside him. “Don’t worry about the testament, I’m sure it will turn out fine.”

“Hmph.”

Rey sighed and rolled her eyes. “If you’re going to be all gloomy and sulky, I’ll personally drag your bum into the next bus home.”

“Hmph.”

“Ben Solo, stop that!”, Rey demanded. “If you’re being miserable that won’t help anyone. It doesn’t do any good. We just bought a horse, and he will remain ours, I’m sure it will be fine. We should be happy about that!”

Ben groaned. “I know, you’re right… still.”

“No still from you”, Rey said. “And now stand up, it is getting late. We should help Luke with the dinner, before Wedge does.”

Wedge was a skilled man in many ways, but cooking was not on the list of things he could do.

 

°°°

 

“Hello Rey! Did you hear what Old Ben’s former housekeeper says?”

Poe hopped onto the paddock fence next to Rey.

Rey turned her head, pushing her bright orange sunglasses up into her hair. “No, what does she say?”

“The better question would be What doesn’t she say”, Finn said, leaning against the fence. “So, you know that she lives very close to us, right? The housekeeper, I mean.”

“Yes.”

“We’ve seen how the Alligator has visited her, like, six times the past week”, Finn told her. “Always with gifts – chocolates and flowers, even shoes this morning. We think he tried to bribe her into telling him about what stands in Old Ben’s will. Because she keeps going around the village and saying that she’s read it and that there’s something wrong with it, or something like that.”

“So, when he left this morning, he was pale as a sheet, and looked as if he was about to collapse”, Poe continued. “And then, about an hour later, Mrs. Falls came over to our farm to buy fresh eggs, and there she told us that Old Ben’s will has a catch, and that the nephew won’t inherit anything because of that.”

Rey pursed her lips and furrowed her brows. “And you’re sure that’s not the usual village gossip?”

“Not with that woman, no.” Poe shook his head so wildly that his dark curls flew and bounced. “She never participates in the gossip, at all. This is the first time ever, or at least in the last seventeen years.”

“Do you think it has to do with BB-Eight?”, Rey asked worriedly.

“Maybe. Maybe not.” Finn shrugged. “Hey, where’s your brother, anyways?”

“Inside. That ginger of his called.” Rey chuckled. “It’s funny, Ben tries so hard to be cool and edgy and dark, but as soon as his phones rings and he sees that guy’s name on the display, he turns into a giggling mess.”

Poe and Finn started laughing.

“I’d like to be around for that sometime”, Poe said. “Does he blush?”

Rey grinned. “Furiously.”

 

Later that day, when they were cleaning the boxes in the stables, Rey told Ben about what Finn and Poe had told her.

“That’s not good news”, Ben said. “What if it does have to do with Bee?”

He glanced through the open door over to the large paddock, where BB-Eight and Porg were grazing peacefully next to each other. They were on the same paddock for half a week now, and they got along famously. They looked nice together, two piebald horses, Porg with his gray back and brown mane and reddish patches on the neck and head, and BB-Eight with his bright white fur and round foxy red patches.

“If it has to do with BB-Eight, the Alligator will have to buy him back from us”, Rey said. “Legally, that what he needs to do.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.” Rey rammed the pitchfork into the straw and leaned on the handle for a moment. “But if that makes you feel better, we can call Mom later and ask her. She will definitely know, or know someone who knows.”

There was, indeed, very little that Leia Organa-Solo didn’t know about laws and legal or illegal transactions.

“Okay.” Ben nodded. “But what if…”

“Okay, Ben, listen.” Rey sat down on a ball of straw. “Let’s assume that the reason that the Alligator left Mrs. Falls’ house in that state of shock was that Old Ben’s will is somehow connected to Bee… I doubt that he’s been shocked because he sold us a horse he couldn’t legally sell because it was meant for someone else. He would need a sense of guilt or conscience for that, and I highly doubt he has something like that. So if anything, selling us the horse is bad for him. He made a mistake, gave himself a disadvantage or whatever. But he sold him to us, he signed a contract. If he wants him back, he needs to buy him. And he can’t buy something that is not for sale.”

She stood up again and brushed the straw from her pants. “And now enough with all that pessimism, we have plenty of work to do.”

 

Four days later, the Alligator came to Luke’s farm, whilst Wedge was at work in his small veterinary practice and Luke was changing the water in the huge old bathtub that served as a water trough on the horses’ paddock. Ben and Rey were sitting in the old apple tree, picking them into a huge basket they had clamped between the branches. Rey almost fell from the branch she was sitting on when she suddenly heard the Alligator say: “Hello up there!”

“Hello”, Ben said darkly. “What do you want?”

“I, uh…” The Alligator pushed his hands into the pockets of his suit jacket. “I wanted to see the horse again.”

“Why?” Ben looked at Rey, eyebrows raised. Rey shrugged. And then happened the thing neither of them had expected. The Alligator started to cry – a strange, sort of very staged crying. Definitely fake.

“Because I promised my uncle I’d take care of it”, he almost wailed. “And I just wanted to see if it’s fine, and…”

Ben rolled his eyes, but started to climb down the tree. Rey followed suit. They walked the Alligator over to the fence and Rey pointed over to the smaller paddock that was further away. Porg and BB-Eight stood in the shade of the oak tree and watched Luke change their water.

“See”, Rey said. “The horse is fine.”

“Yeah, I don’t doubt that you treat it well… that’s not why I’m here.”

“Ah, Mr. Kryze.” Luke had finished his work and now came closer from the other side of the fence. “What brings you here to us?”

The Alligator took a moment to stare at his polished shoes before speaking again. “I want to buy the horse back.”

Rey froze. Next to her, Ben drew in a sharp breath. Luke stayed calm.

“Oh. And why, if I may ask?”

Mr. Kryze cleared his throat. “I just… I feel like I owe it to my uncle. He loved the horse, I’m sure he wouldn’t like seeing it in another person’s hands…”

“Are you seriously trying to tell us you have a bad conscience?!”, Ben spat out. “You wanted to give him to the butcher!”

The Alligator grinned and ignored Ben.

“Mr. Skywalker”, he said. “I want the horse back. I will pay you… three hundred pounds. A good deal, right?”

Rey held her breath, but Luke only laughed. Loudly.

“I guess so”, he said. “Yes, it would be a good deal. But I can’t sell you the horse, he belongs to my niece and my nephew. You’ll have to negotiate with them, I’m afraid.”

He shrugged as if to say “It’s none of my business anyways” and walked away to the house. The Alligator turned to Rey and Ben.

“Alright”, he said. “I would pay you… four hundred pounds. That’s a lot of money for two teenagers.”

Ben and Rey crossed their arms in front of their chests and stared at him, not saying a word.

Mr. Kryze sighed. “Four hundred fifty.”

Ben shook his head.

“Five hundred. Come on! For that sum you can buy a really great riding horse, one that you can brag about!”

Rey snorted. She wasn’t as well informed about horses as Ben was – she was no equestrian after all, she as a fencer – but she did know that five hundred pounds weren’t near enough to buy a great riding horse.

“Listen”, she said. “You can stand here for an hour, or two, or longer, and give us offer after offer, but we will not sell BB-Eight. Ever. Not even for a hundred million pounds.”

The Alligator’s face turned a bright, angry red. “But it is my horse!”, he yelled. “And I want it back!”

“Why?!”, Ben shouted back, his face twisting, the thin scar from the bike accident a few years ago turning white in the process. “You don’t even like him! We are not selling, so piss of!”

Surprisingly, Mr. Kryze complied – practically steaming with rage.

“Ben”, Rey said softly, touching her brother’s shoulder. Ben was breathing heavily, his body raising and sinking with every breath.

“I’m okay”, he whispered. “I’m sorry, I didn’t…”

“No, it’s alright.” Rey sighed. “That wasn’t the last we saw of him though. Definitely not.”

Ben nodded darkly. “I know.”

Rey sighed again, and made a mental note to make a copy of their purchase contract first thing the next day. Or maybe two, just in case. She wouldn’t put it past Mr. Kryze to attempt to steal the contract and then demand BB-Eight back.

 

°°°

 

“We really need to find out why that man wants Bee back so badly”, Ben said and spat another cherry pit into the village pond.

Poe nodded and twisted a blade of grass between two fingers. Next to him, Rey plucked a few unopened poppy buds and made them into tiny dolls, just like Old Ben Kenobi had shown her when she had been four years old.

In the past week, Mr. Kryze had made several attempts to buy BB-Eight back. He had tried to bribe Luke and Wedge three times by offering them money – everyone in the village knew that the two of them tended to have financial problems because of their constant animal guests and strays – then he had tried to pressure Rey when he had met her in the front yard of the Axwing Car Service Station by telling her again how much his uncle had loved the horse and that he would not like to see him in another person’s hands – Rey had laughed and told him: “Your uncle was the best friend of my grandfather. He knew my uncle and my mother for their whole lives, and he know Ben and me for our entire lives. If he knew that BB-Eight is with us now, I’m sure he would be pleased. He knew exactly how good Luke is with animals.” Lastly, he had tried to convince Ben again. This time, he had offered him a sum of three and a half thousand pounds. Ben had gotten angry again and had shouted at him to bugger of.

“What if we ask Mrs. Falls about Old Ben’s will?”, Finn asked. “Maybe Wedge could help?”

“And how?” Ben furrowed his brows. “Does she like Wedge, or why do you think he could help?”

“Well…” Finn took a long breath. “There is no other vet anywhere around, not here and not in any of the villages around. Just Wedge. Everybody knows that. Mrs. Falls as well. And around here, everyone knows that Mrs. Falls is overly worried about her fat little dog.”

“Oh… Oh!” Poe’s face lit up with a grin. “I know what you mean!”

“I don’t.” Rey frowned. “Please, boys, enlighten us.”

“We will tell her that there’s some kind of dog-flu going around, and that she needs to get her dog vaccinated. Then we hide somewhere, and Wedge asks her about the will.”

Ben snorted. “That will never work. Why the hell would she believe us? Also, Wedge can’t get a dog vaccinated against an imaginary illness!”

 

“I can’t lie to a patient about a vaccine!”, Wedge exclaimed. “I can’t do that!”

“You don’t have to, we will do that!”, Poe explained. “You just have to ask Mrs. Falls about the will.”

“And pretend to give her healthy dog a vaccine against an illness that doesn’t exist.” Wedge sighed and rubbed his face with one hand. “I want to help, of course, but I simply cannot lie about something like that!”

“Hmpf.” Luke pursed his lips. “You could do a half-lie, like you did that one time with that woman and the blind horse. You could warn Mrs. Falls about a dog-flu and ask her to come in so you can check on her dog. Then you could put some kind of vitamin liquid on a dog treat and claim that that’s it.”

Wedge groaned. “Not you, too, Luke! You’re supposed to be on my side””

It took a few more minutes, but then, finally, Wedge picked up the phone and called Mrs. Falls.

 

The next day, Rey and Ben accompanied Wedge to work. Together, they hid in the small room next to Wedge’s treatment room, leaving the door slightly ajar.

Mrs. Falls was one of the first patients that day. She was a stocky woman with a yellow-blond dyed perm, and under one arm she carried a tiny dog that was just as wide as it was long or high.

“Quick, doctor!”, the woman said with a shrill voice, setting her dog down on the table. “Quick, now, do the vaccine! What if he already got infected, what if…”

“Please, calm down, Mrs. Falls”, Wedge said with a gentle smile. “Infection doesn’t happen this fast with this type of flu… how about you take a seat whilst I prepare everything, hm?”

Mrs. Falls nodded and sat down on the chair in the corner of the room. She watched Wedge prepare the dog treat and feed it to her dog – carefully, as if she needed to make sure he didn’t poison her little darling.

“So, Mrs. Falls…”, Wedge said slowly. “I will do a general check-up, since you’re already here.”

Mrs. Falls nodded. “Yes, of course…”
Wedge hummed to himself and started the check-up. “So, now that Old Ben Kenobi is dead”, he said. “Are you working for his nephew, or did you retire?”

“Oh, no, no, I retired”, Mrs. Falls said with a small chuckle. “I have worked enough in my life. Besides, it’s not like he will keep that house, so I’d be without a job faster than I could say plum-sauce if I had accepted his offer.”

“Oh, really? And why is that?”, Wedge asked, inspecting the dog’s ears. Mrs. Falls sighed. “I probably shouldn’t say”, she said. “But now that I started… You promise you won’t tell anyone?”

Wedge nodded. “I won’t tell a soul.”

“Alright.” Mrs. Falls straightened a small fold on her skirt. “I found Mr. Kenobi’s will on his desk when I was cleaning his study, and I… I read it. And in there, it said that…” She paused. Behind the door, Rey and Ben held their breaths.

“That, should he sell the horse, his nephew won’t inherit anything. Everything – the farm, the money, all of that will go to the local animal rights protection society instead.”

Mrs. Falls sighed, as if she had just gotten rid of a heavy weight. Wedge took a sharp breath, then forced himself to smile. “Alright. That’s interesting… and it explains a lot… your dog is perfectly healthy, Mrs. Falls. I think that should be all.”

“Oh, thank you.” Mrs. Falls smiled, picked her dog up from the table and left the room.

“Shit”, Ben murmured. “That does explain a lot.”

 

When they returned home, they found Luke in a state of near panic and all of their dogs – Kay-Too, Threepio and Artoo – missing.

“I was at the Dameron farm to buy milk, I wasn’t gone for longer than half an hour!”, Luke said through clenched teeth, pacing from one side of the small living room to the other. “And I come back to find all my dogs missing, and this- “ he held up a crumbled piece of paper – on the kitchen table!”

Rey snatched the piece of paper from him. It was a typewriter-typed letter.

 

If you wish to see your lice-covered dogs again, then you will come to the Kenobi farm two nights from now, at nine. Bring with you: This letter, the contract of purchase for the horse and all the copies made of it, the horse itself. If you don’t ... did you know that dog mince is a delicacy in China?

 

Rey growled. “That’s a ransom note. A real, proper ransom note, Luke! You have to report that to the police!”

Luke snorted. “Rey, as far as the police are concerned, we only own one dog, we have never registered Threepio and Kay-Too. Should I report dogs that I do not officially own as missing? With our village sheriff, you can forget that… he would probably give that scumbag Kryze a medal for kidnapping them.”

Ben clenched his fists. “Okay, so what do we do? We can’t do this alone, but we can’t give Bee back, either.” He told Luke what they had heard from behind the door.

Luke listened, and then went to get the telephone.

“What are we doing now?”, Ben asked again. Luke gave him a cynical smile.
“Now," he said, and dialed a number. “Now, we are calling the cavalry.”

 

°°°

 

To Rey, her mother had always seemed like a force of nature, someone who could solve a problem with ease as soon as it occurred. When she had been four, it had been the fear of a monster in her closet, and her mother had solved it by showing her that the closet was empty and telling her that closet-monsters never attacked the good people, but only bad people who wore smelly socks. When she had been ten, the problem had been a few bullies in her class. Her mother had dried of her tears and brought her to her first martial arts class. When she had been fifteen and, crying in fear of rejection, had come out to her parents as bisexual, her mother had given her a hug and bought her a flag and a flower crown in purple, blue and pink. And now, once again, Leia Organa-Solo came to save the day and solve the problem. She came with her husband and their dog in the old, rusty jeep dubbed the Millennium Falcon, and Rey was so incredibly grateful for her parents in that moment. And of course – had she even expected anything else? – her mother already had a plan on hand…

 

When they drove onto the yard of the Kenobi farm, all of them cramped into the Falcon, Mr. Kryze was waiting for them. He was leaning against his ridiculous sports car, a self-satisfied grin on his face.

“Just you wait,” Luke grumbled. “Your grin will fall out of your face soon enough!”

He got out of the car, Ben and Rey followed. Chewbacca jumped out of the car behind them.

“Wait, no!”, the Alligator yelled at the sight of the enormous dog. “Lock the mongrel back in! Who said you should bring that?!”

Luke looked at him with a dead-pan expression. “The dog needs to pee”, he said. “Do you want to forbid that? Because I won’t.”

Chewie slowly walked around on the yard, sniffing at every stone and every little plant. The Alligator didn’t stop staring at him for one second. Rey laughed.

“Afraid of dogs, are you? Don’t worry though, he only bites people he doesn’t like. But you are such a nice person… you kidnap his dog friends, threaten to kill them… I’m sure that will make Chewbacca like you. Am I right, Chewie?”

Chewbacca growled.

“Very funny”, Mr. Kryze spat out. “Why are you two here, anyways? Wouldn’t you be better of at home?”

“The horse is hours after all, isn’t he?”, Ben asked. Mr. Kryze sneered.

“Not for long… but I’ll be generous ... You may bring the nag into my stable. That way I do not have to dirty my shoes.”

“Wait, wait, wait”, Luke said. “Not so fast. How do I know that my dogs are alright? I wouldn’t put it past you that you’d already killed them.”

Mr. Kryze made a step towards Luke. “Do you know, what?”, he said. “You only have all that trouble because you refused to give me back what is rightfully mine.”

“We bought Bee, rightfully he’s ours!”, Ben hissed. Rey grabbed his hand to make him shut up.

“How are my dogs?”, Luke asked again.

“Good!”, Mr. Kryze snapped. “Now give me back the damn horse. And put the blasted dog back into the car!”

Luke sighed and brought Chewbacca back to the car. He let the window down and took his time to manoeuvre the huge dog onto the back seat.

“Finally”, the Alligator sighed. “And now the horse.”

“You must be in such a hurry”, Rey said. “Don’t you want your nice letter back? Such a real ransom note is not written every day. You could frame it and hang over your bed!”

“Very funny.”

The Alligator straightened his tie. “But yes, I want that thing back. And the purchase contract and the copies. Don’t pretend like you didn’t make any, I saw you make them at the car workshop.”

Rey started to rummage in her bag – and froze for a second as she looked up and saw Finn and Poe sneak onto the yard behind the Alligator’s back.

“Faster!”, the Alligator demanded.

Rey scowled, but handed the papers to him. Luke turned around and opened the back door of the horse trailer… and guided Porg out of it.

“What?!”, the Alligator shouted. “That is not my horse! Are you trying to fool me?!”

“What? No!”, Luke said sarcastically. “How did you get that idea?”

Suddenly, the Alligator’s face turned a bright, angry red. “I will personally kill your dogs!”

“Bullshit!”, Poe shouted from behind, ran up to the Alligator and jumped onto his back. It was enough to tear him from his feet. Immediately Poe and Finn sat on him and held him down.

“I will kill your dogs, one by one!”, the Alligator threatened.
“Bullshit!”, Poe said again. “We went in through he back door and got them out! You don’t have the dogs anymore, you dumbass crocodile!”

Rey sighed. That had not been a part of the plan, but it was good nonetheless.

“So what?!”, Mr. Kryze spat. “Still, what are you going to do? What do you want to do? Report me to the police? I hope you know that you can forget the snotty brats as witnesses in court!”

“Oh, I know”, Luke said, handed the rope on Porg’s halter to Ben and opened the back seat door of his car. With one swift motion, he pulled back the dog blanket. With a groan, Leia climbed out and dusted her purple vest and brown trousers.

“The things I do for my children and my terrible brother”, she said, then straightened up and walked up to the Alligator, who was still laying in the dirt, held down by Poe and Finn.

“Let him go, boys”, she said calmly.

“Mr. Kryze”, Luke said. “May I introduce my sister, Leia Organa Solo? She’s quite a known politician, I am sure she’ll suffice as witness in court.”

The Alligator got back up onto his feet and groaned. “Alright, I give up. You win.”

“Well, that was easy”, Rey said. Leia gave her a triumphant smile. “Of course it was, my dear”, she said. Rey laughed.

 

°°°

 

A few days later, the official opening of Ben Kenobi’s will took place. Luke and Wedge were invited, Rey and Ben weren’t. They waited for their uncles to come back, sitting on the fence of the paddock. Poe, Finn and their parents waited with them.

“What do you think Wedge and Luke will inherit?”, Ben asked. Rey shrugged.

“Maybe that old sword he had hanging above his fireplace?”, Finn suggested.

“Or an old book?”, Poe offered.

Rey giggled. “Or that horrible painting of the green goblin that was hanging in his hallway!”

They traded ideas of what Luke and Wedge could possibly inherit from old Ben Kenobi for almost an hour. Then, Ben walked away to answer a phone call, his cheeks bright red.

“Oh!”, Finn said. “Is that mystery caller Ben’s not-so-secret crush?”

“I suppose so”, Rey said.

“What, that Hux boy?”, her dad asked. “The Ginger?”

Her mother hit him against the shoulder. “Armitage Hux is a rather nice boy, actually”, she said. “And being a ginger isn’t half as bad as being a scruffy-looking nerf-herder.”

“Who’s scruffy-looking?!”

Rey rolled her eyes – this piece of dialogue was an inside joke thing between her parents. She had heard it about a million times in her life.

Wedge and Luke returned about another hour later.

“Mr. Kryze created quite a scene back there”, Luke said, and retold the events of the last hours… Mr. Korkie Kryze had thrown a temper tantrum like a toddler, he had shouted about how the will was unfair and how he would challenge it.

“And, what did you inherit?”, Finn asked. “A book? The sword? The Goblin-painting?”

Luke chuckled.

“We inherited quite a nice sum as support for the strays”, Wedge said. “And also a book, yes.” He held up an old copy of Emma. “Although I have no idea why he wanted us to have this old thing.”

“Well”, Luke said slowly. “I’m sure we can throw it into the bonfire at the summer celebration in a few days.”

Rey laughed.

Ben came back, his cheeks still tinted pink and a bright, sort of untypical smile on his face. “Hux is coming”, he said. “I invited him to come over for the summer celebration, and he’s actually coming!”

He seemed way more excited than he usually got about things. Rey exchanged a glance with Poe and Finn, but then gave her brother a smile. “That’s nice, I guess.”

“I can’t wait to show him BB-Eight!”, Ben said. “I mean, he’s the more professional equestrian out of the two of us, but I am the first to have my own horse.”
He stopped and looked at Rey. “Sorry… he’s our horse, of course.”

Rey huffed. “It’s okay. I don’t get why everything has to be a competition between Armitage and you, but I’ll happily let you say that Bee is just your horse.”

“Thank you, Rey!” Ben hugged her and then ran off to the stable. Rey laughed. “I knew he was an idiot, but when he’s got a crush, he’s even more of an idiot.”

 

 

The End…

 

 


The trailer to the original movie: Hände weg von Mississippi