Back at Bobby’s home, Sam moved about in a fog, doing whatever Bobby
told him to do. Half the time the older man directed instructions and
speech at Sam, the rest of the time it sounded like he was talking to
himself. Sam responded with an occasional acknowledging nod.
“They must’ve tracked the pod,” Bobby said, rushing around the living area. He pushed a big duffel bag into Sam’s hands. “Clear off that shelf over there. Everything into the bag.”
Sam’s feet brought him to the shelf Bobby had indicated. He began putting objects and artifacts into the bag.
“When they couldn’t find the disc – that’s when they must’ve figured out someone raided the pod.” Bobby opened up the trunk in the corner of the room and started filling another duffel bag. “Saw the junk, interrogated her, torched the place... Sure as anythin’ they’re coming here next. We need to get our asses away from here. Hell, we need to get off the damn planet.”
Bobby looked up to see Sam had finished with the shelf, so the older man directed him to the bookcase. “Just grab as many as’ll fit.” Bobby returned his attention to the trunk and his mumbling. “No sense hanging around waitin’ for those Imperial slugs. We’ll get to the spaceport, sell everything or barter passage off.”
He zipped up the full bag he had and crossed the room to zip up Sam’s. He grabbed Sam’s shoulders and gave him a rough shake. Sam started, blinking and focusing on Bobby for the first time in an hour.
“Sam, I know – trust me – I know how you’re feeling right now,” the older man said earnestly. “But you gotta save this for later. We have to get off this rock and we have to get Dean’s disc to Alderaan, or Ellen – your mom – died for nothing an’ so will we.”
He moved one of his hands to grasp Sam behind his head at the base of neck. “You hear me, son?”
Sam swallowed hard. “I can’t, Bobby...” His eyes glistened with a wave of fresh tears.
“Sure you can,” said Bobby softly. “You’re John and Mary’s son. I guarantee you’re a helluva lot stronger than you think you are.” He sighed and stepped back, letting go of Sam. “Okay, this is gonna sound a little hokey, but it’s something Mary used to do. Mind you, she was a Jedi Knight, so it might not work the same… still, there’s no harm in tryin’.
“Sam, I want you to just... close your eyes, and... use the Force to put away what you’re feelin’.”
“'Use the Force?'” Sam stared at Bobby. “Seriously?”
“Look, humor me, all right? Your mom was a Jedi, so there’s a good chance you have strong... Force sense or whatever the hell it’s called. Try.”
Sam didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing, didn’t believe he even could do whatever it was, but he tried for Bobby’s sake. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Use the Force. Right. Like he had any clue how to do that.
He’d read plenty about the Force in various Jedi lore. It was a sort of intangible energy that gave a Jedi their power. One entry in particular, Sam recalled, had read: It surrounds us, penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together. He had no idea how this was supposed to help him contain the overwhelming flood of grief and guilt that was suffocating him.
He tried to remember what he’d read. He concentrated on his breathing, slow and deep. He fought to empty his mind. He imagined reaching out and grasping at white light. For a second, he felt a flash of peace and calm and his breath hitched – I think I’m doing it – but then it was gone, instantly, and he couldn’t get it back.
Sam opened his eyes to see Bobby watching him hopefully. The younger man shook his head and Bobby visibly deflated.
“Ah, well, it was worth a try.” He shrugged and went to grab the duffel bags.
Sam couldn’t say he felt better, exactly. His heart still was a pile of broken shards trying to slice through his chest and his gut. He still wanted to see Ellen’s face again more than anything he’d ever wanted. But though Bobby’s exercise hadn’t worked how he wanted it to, it had pierced Sam’s haze.
Bobby was right: he would have to grieve later. Right now, they needed to escape the Imperials and ensure critical information made it into the hands of the Rebels.
If Jo were here, she’d kick his ass in gear. She’d always been the type for action over emotion. And if Ellen were here, to advise him on what to do next, he imagined she’d cup her calloused hands around Sam’s cheeks and plant a gentle kiss on his forehead, and say, “They need your help, honey.”
Sam squared his shoulders, grabbed the handles of one the duffel bags, and followed Bobby out to the speeder.
stopped at a market to sell off most of the things Bobby had brought.
It didn’t net them much, but Bobby was sure it was enough to get them
out of here. They continued on to Mos Eisley spaceport. Sam had never
been this far past Anchorhead, nor had he ever been to a spaceport, so
he couldn’t help craning his neck in every direction trying to see
everything at once. All the beings, creatures, vehicles, activity...
“Watch yourself around here, son,” warned Bobby. “This place is a magnet for criminals, idjits, and every sort of nasty S.O.B. you can think of.”
Sam shot Bobby a worried look. “And we’re going here on purpose why?”
“Where else can we find a ship to take us to Alderaan with no questions asked?” said the older man. He added with a grunt, “or someone who’ll willingly pay money for this hunk of junk we’re ridin’ in.”
Sam chuckled. “I wasn’t gonna say it.”
As they rumbled down the main drag towards the spaceport’s hub, Sam felt his heart hop up into his throat. There were a handful of Imperial troops stopping every vehicle heading to the spaceport and Sam doubted they were checking everyone out for their health. He shot Bobby another anxious look.
Bobby shifted in his seat. “Just follow my lead,” he instructed. A moment later they pulled up to the troopers who waved them down.
“What seems to be the trouble, fellas?” asked Bobby, his voice a practiced mixture of innocence and genuine concern.
“We’re searching for a fugitive who may be attempting to flee the planet,” the one closest to Bobby said in a clipped tone, sounding electronic coming over the comm of his white helmet. “Let me see your identification.”
Bobby reached over Sam to pull some ID from the speeder’s glove box. Sam worked to appear as casual and calm as possible, though his heart was now pounding in his throat – he had zero pieces of ID on him, and the moment that trooper asked for his, they were completely screwed. Their quest to help the Alliance was about to be over before it had begun.
The trooper took the ID pieces from Bobby and inspected them. “Rufus Turner?”
Bobby nodded and smiled. “That’s me. This here’s my son, Jesse.”
“What is your business here today?”
tryin’ to sell this old speeder of mine. Didn’t think we’d need his ID,
so I’m sorry to say we left it at home. Gonna grab us some dinner when
we’re done our business.”
It was impossible to tell if the soldier was buying Bobby’s story or not with his face hidden behind the impassive white and black helmet. After an agonizing minute of consideration, the trooper handed Bobby’s I.D. back.
“Where do you live?” questioned the soldier.
Bobby rattled off directions like a true Tatooine native – “Oh, ‘bout forty K southwest, past where the Gunders used to live, you know out by the canyon? Then twelve clicks east from there, around the Obl'iik valley,” – until the trooper held up a hand to stem the good-natured flow of words.
“Do you know a man named Bobby Singer?”
“Sure!” Bobby said jovially. “He’s sort of a weirdo, only comes to the market once in a while, really keeps to himself. Nice enough fella, once you to get to – ”
“Do you know where he lives?”
“Ah,” Bobby scratched his beard. “Last I heard, he’d set up shop in a homestead oh, out past the Dune Sea.” He promptly gave the Stormtroopers some appropriately vague directions, then adopted a concerned expression. “Bobby’s not in any sort of trouble, is he?”
“We just have a few questions for him,” said the trooper sternly. Sam ignored the cold trickle that seeped down his spine. “You can go about your business. Move along.” The trooper waved them on.
Sam didn’t exhale until they were far away, parking the speeder. “Why did you tell them where you actually lived?”
Bobby heaved himself out of the speeder and grabbed the bag containing the last of his unsold treasures. “Because it gives them something to do far away from us. Now go get yourself a drink and try to find us a pilot while I get some more credits and get rid of this old thing. I’ll join you in a minute.”
Bobby met up
with Sam in the cantina with a pocket full of credits and no duffle bag.
The money wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but certainly more
than he’d been expecting to get for the old speeder. Sam hadn’t had
much luck finding a pilot, but Bobby fared better.
“Sam,” he gave the younger man’s sleeve a tug. “Found one.”
politely ended the conversation with a bright blue-skinned spice trader
he’d been speaking with and followed Bobby through the crowded cantina.
Sam wasn’t used to seeing all the alien beings that populated the place. He’d seen his fair share of aliens in the markets and in the shop over the years, but Tatooine was mostly settled by humans, so it was a shock to be in the minority all of the sudden. Skin of every color surrounded him, as well as beings with fur, feathers, scales, extra limbs, eyes, noses, mouths, who were tall, short, loud, quiet – the variations were endless.
The table Bobby gestured Sam to have a seat at already had two occupants. One was a tall and thin female alien, covered in layers of leaf-green scales and fur. She had large eyes with irises a startling pinwheel of orange and yellow and a long snout. It gave the impression the creature was pursing her lips for a kiss. The other person at the table was a human woman with shoulder-length brown hair, pretty green eyes, and a cocky tilt to her smiling pink lips. She was sporting a low cut white shirt. Her hand rested on a blaster attached to the belt of her black pants.
“This is Ree,” said the woman, gesturing to the green being on her left. “And I’m Bela Talbot. I understand you need to get to Alderaan.”
“Yeah,” said Sam. “And fast.”
Bela raised a thin eyebrow. “Have you never heard of me?”
Sam and Bobby exchanged glances.
“Should we have?” asked Bobby.
“Have you never heard of my ship? The Impala?” she tried again, a little incredulous.
“I say again, should we have?”
Bela looked between the two, like she was hardly able to believe what she was hearing. “I made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs in that ship.”
Bobby snorted. “Like hell you did. No one can do the Kessel Run in twelve.”
well, it was more like sixteen,” Bela admitted swiftly, not
particularly bothered that Bobby had called her out on her boasting.
“The fact remains that I am still a damn good pilot with a damn fast
“Fine, so you’re fast. Can you get us to Alderaan or not?” Bobby snapped – they were running out of time before those Imperials discovered they were on a wild goose chase. “No cargo, just me and him.”
“When do you need to leave?”
“Is now too soon?”
Bela smiled. “What, got yourselves in some sort of trouble? Fleeing the planet?”
Sam shifted uncomfortably.
Bobby didn’t return the woman’s smile. “Let’s just say we’re dodging some white suits, if you catch my drift.”
Bela leaned back in her seat, considering. “Did you have a price in mind?”
“Three now and another ten when we get to Alderaan. That’s more than fair.”
Bela looked between them thoughtfully and then turned to Ree, who let out a soft series of clicks. Bela shrugged.
“Reasonable enough,” she replied. “I’ll take it, but only because he’s so very cute,” she added with a flirtatious wink at Sam.
His cheeks flushed under her open attention. Sam glanced down at his hands to avoid her gaze.
“Done.” Bobby held out his hand and shook Bela’s to seal the agreement.
“Meet us in docking bay 2Y5 in an hour and we’ll ship out.” Bela stood and gave Sam an obvious once-over followed by a wide grin. She turned on her heel to head out of the cantina with Ree.
Bela sent Ree to prepare the Impala for take-off while she made a quick stop in the little girls’ room. Upon exiting, she rather wished she’d had the good sense to wait until she was back at her ship. The second she left the bathroom, a short man with dark hair and hazel eyes spotted her. He grinned wolfishly and headed straight for her. Bela cursed, having no way to escape him now that he’d caught sight of her.
“Miss Bela Talbot,” he greeted, his voice colored with a slight Core-affected accent. “Fancy meeting you here.”
Bela’s smile was thin and forced. “Crowley. I, however, am not surprised to see you here. This is the sort of decrepit dive you frequent, yeah?”
Crowley gestured toward the empty booth to the right of the bathrooms. Bela reluctantly took a seat, her stomach writhing like a bowl of squiggling worms. Being cornered by a bounty hunter was hardly a situation she wanted to willingly further.
“Charming, as ever,” he replied. He took a seat opposite her. “Your payment is quite overdue, you know.”
“I’m aware, thank you,” said Bela, crossing her arms over her chest. “Is that why you’re here? Followed me to tell me that?”
“No, my dear,” Crowley smirked and removed his blaster from his holster, aiming it across the table at her. Her heart sank low in her chest. “I’ve been looking for you, as probably every other bounty hunter has been looking for you this side of the Core, for the money involved in finding you. The price Lillith has on your head is too lucrative to pass by. I must say, I was surprised you’ve made so much trouble for her. Knowing her reputation and all. And yours.”
Bela sighed, letting her hands drop to her sides beneath the table. “They had me cornered. Sometimes you have to cut and run to save your own skin.” She eyed him with a knowing smile. “You know that better than anyone, Crowley.”
“True,” he admitted. “But I also am very careful who I make enemies with. You should never have made enemies with Lillith.”
Under the table, Bela casually wrapped her fingers around the hilt of her blaster, careful not to let her arm move and give away her intentions to Crowley. He was a slick, sneaky bastard and she’d had more than her fair share of run-ins with the bounty hunter. She wasn’t about to take any chances.
“I didn’t ‘make enemies’ with her,” said Bela with a roll of her eyes. “We had a deal, it fell through due to reasons beyond my control. But you can tell her that I have her money. I simply have to make a quick stop on Alderaan, and then I’ll be on her doorstep with the credits I owe her for the botched job.”
“Do I look like a messenger boy to you?”
She leveled her best genuine gaze at him. “Come on, Crowley. We go way back, yeah? Surely you could do this favor for me. I can’t stand being in someone’s debt, same as you – I’d owe you one, you know that.”
“Darling,” Crowley tilted his head in a patronizing way. “You know that it’s gone way past a simple debt at this point.”
Bela nodded. After a pause, she inquired, “That bounty. Is it dead or alive?”
Crowley shrugged and smiled nastily at her. “I didn’t check.”
Under the table, Bela pulled the trigger. There was a pewbang as her blaster went off, a bolt slicing into Crowley’s gut. She relished the split second of complete surprise on his face before he slumped to the side of the booth.
Patrons nearby in the bar turned in surprise, a few even stood from their seats ready to run at the sudden commotion, but most only cast a mildly curious glance in Bela’s direction as she tossed a wad of credits onto the table. This sort of ‘incident’ was sadly not out of the ordinary for the likes of the Mos Eisley cantina.
“Should’ve taken my offer,” she mumbled under her breath, casting a semi-regretful glance at the body in the booth. Smoke rose in faint tendrils from the fresh blaster hole in Crowley’s middle. She didn’t like killing in general, but she had to admit offing scum like Crowley was rather pleasing.
Bela softly cleared her throat before hurrying from the cantina. If she was to be dodging Lillith’s hired guns, her life was about to get a hell of a lot more interesting. She hoped those boys showed up a little earlier than scheduled so they could blast away from this hole before Bela encountered any more unpleasant surprises.