A/N: So here we are! I thought I might try to write another and then post it after finishing, but it turns out that, without the pressures of a waiting audience (hopefully), I move at something approaching glacial speed. So here I am posting the first of this new story. I'll say at the outset that I'm assuming a fair amount of familiarity with the Star Wars movies, in the interests of moving the story along more quickly. I'll also note that this story begins roughly where Star Wars (Episode IV) begins. I've seen a number of other stories that seem to begin back with the prequels. Just call me old-school. I still remember seeing Return of the Jedi in the theaters (not the first two...I'm not that old, people). Finally, I'll say that we'll be focusing on Faith quite a bit at the beginning, but who knows...others may show up down the line. (winks) As always, feedback is greatly appreciated...craved, in fact, this early into a story. I hope you enjoy!
The usual disclaimers about owning nothing related to Buffy or Star Wars. Imitation (with credit) is the sincerest form of flattery.
A cry, cut off in the middle.
Her eyes blinked open into sand.
Blinking again. More sand. Golden and hot. In her eyes. From somewhere close: barking. But not like a dog.
Then an enormous wooly foot stomping down next to her face.
Foot? Scrambling backwards from it. Other, smaller feet in leather boots, shuffling around. Kicking up the sand. Hands grabbing at her.
That got her moving. Eyes still not fully adjusted to the bright, sitting up in the sand to bat those hands away. That sharp bark of noise again. Leather, hair, sand—brown, all of it.
The sudden, crisp efficiency of a video game's laser gunfire.
Shapes around her disappearing with the fading echo of that sound, leaving her alone with the long, slim indentation next to her, now filling with shifting sands. All she could do was stare at it. There was something she was not quite getting….
"We should move inside. The sand people may be easily startled, but they will return soon. With others."
"Wha—?" Faith whirled around to the voice behind her. "Who the fuck are you?"
The man threw the brown hood back from his face, raising an eyebrow in an old and graying face. "Why? Are you looking for someone?"
Faith snorted. "Yeah, that's clearly what I'm doin' in the middle of the god-knows-where desert—" She looked down at herself. "—all naked and shit. Just misplaced my fuckin' yellow pages."
The eyebrow stayed up. "The why and the how of it—" He nodded at her clothes-less state, holding out his brown robe. "—that I cannot say. As for the where, you've found yourself in the Jundland Wastes." He noted her blank face, going on. "A no-man's-land that passes for variation here amidst the dunes for which Tatooine is known."
"Tattoo-what?" Faith looked around her, taking in again the canyon, the rocky floor of it, the hazy sky above. She rubbed at her eyes, squinting up again. "And where the hell did the second sun come from?"
"Tatooine." He corrected her with another raised eyebrow, his face otherwise mild, unreadable. "Which orbits those twin suns."
"Oh, fuck me."
"I could just take off with your man-robe, ya know." They were walking briskly from dune to canyon. The older man's robe hung off Faith's shoulders, cinched around the middle. She felt her feet burning on the sand. "I mean, you don't know me from shit."
At her words, he glanced over. "Do you mean to warn me that you're the sort of person who would run away?" She turned away from his stare, and he surveyed the desolation around them, a glimmer of amusement twitching at the corner of his mouth. "Of course, if you wish to go, you are always free to do that. And if you wish to tell me who you are, then I'm sure that you will do that as well."
A flash of the hard prison bedding. Bars, some far off metal clanging. Staring up at that pock-marked ceiling. How long since, not thinking one night, she'd etched the letter "B" in it with the cruelly sharpened end of a toothbrush? She'd had to wrench that makeshift weapon out of her former cellmate's hand when that girl had come at her one night for some perceived insult—or maybe a legitimate one, maybe nothing at all. Not so much different from slaying really…the everyone-out-to-get-you part.
Yeah, she wasn't really jumping to tell anyone about any of it.
"Just my luck, a fuckin' philosopher." She paused, eyeing him. "I'm Faith. And you aren't British, are you?" His face was blank. She sniffed. "I guess that's good, then." She squinted into the suns. Sand-tastic afterlife, but one good thing: "Least there won't be a Council climbing up my—"
She couldn't get the whole sentence out before that same barking sound from earlier echoed a short distance away. Her head shot up, listening. He listened as well.
"Sand people. Sooner than we thought. And it sounds as though they might have found something—or someone—else of interest."
She heard his words behind her. She was already running in that direction.
"You think you're scarin' me?"
One of the sand people rose up, brandishing its spear with a prolonged bark, attempting to do just that. Faith stood her ground and snapped off a side kick that caught him square in the open jaw, smashing it back closed. The others had already fled. It reeled, but swung that spear around anyway. It missed her head completely as she danced to one side, smiling.
"Even Giles coulda gotten clear of that—oof!"
It caught her mid-taunt with a jab to the midsection. Right about where that scar was.
"Hey!" She punched out for its…nose? "No interrupting!" It staggered back. A quick hook kick, and its neck was broken. It slumped into a loose brown pile in the brown dirt of the brown planet.
At least some things hadn't changed. She still had it.
Faith looked up, eyes lit up, finding the old man staring alternately between her and the dead body. She cracked her knuckles, nodding over at what she'd done. "Guess demon's the universal, huh?"
"Yeah. Not so human. Badness. All that." Her brow furrowed at his lack of understanding or relief. She struggled to explain. "Dunno what word they use in bizarro world."
The old man tried to comprehend, those thoughtful eyes moving between the still form in the dust and the robed brunette digging one toe in the dirt. "Sand people?"
She ran one hand roughly back through her hair, pushing it out of her face. "No, what they are." She saw him opening his mouth to say "sand people" again and rushed in to cut him off. "Other than, you know, their name, I mean."
He just raised an eyebrow at her. "Traders? Sometimes participants in the slave market and sometimes violently inclined. Nomads of the desert." He shrugged. "They've been here as long as anyone can remember."
Faith's lips pressed into a line. "Wait…so they're the fuckin' local color?" She didn't even need to wait for his answer for the hissing "shit!" to escape her lips. She looked down at the brown bundle and then slammed her hand into the rock outcropping to her right. Several rocks skittered down at the impact. She picked up one of them and hurled it.
And was promptly met by a loud bleating noise as the rock pinged off a metal dome rolling out from behind a rock.
"It's alright, little friend. You can come here." The old man squatted with his hand out. The thing rolled forward.
"Oh, now this is just gettin' ridiculous! It's a freakin' trashcan. Hey, old guy… you're talkin' to a trash can!"
The old man and trash can both ignored her.
A rapid fire series of beeps. It rolled towards another outcropping, and the figure sprawled out on the ground behind it.
The old man followed, placing a hand on sun-warmed metal as he looked down at the young man all in dusty white: tunic, trousers, and boots. Some sort of utility belt. "Don't worry, he'll be alright."
Faith gave one last glance and muttered rejoinder to the dead sand person—"knew that thing was fuckin' bad news"—then joined them as the young man was coming to.
"Ben? Ben Kenobi? Boy, am I glad to see you!"
Faith looked over, mouthing "Ben?" as if that had been the furthest name from her mind. But before she could say anything, from a distance another voice echoed from the rocks. Clipped accent. A golden, metallic man, holding his severed leg off to one side, wires blooming from the top of the thigh.
"R2? Master Luke?"
Faith rolled her eyes, wondering if the Powers that Be were laughing somewhere. She knew her karma was bound to be on the not-so-great side, but…. "Oh, what, there just had to be somebody British, huh?"