Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rude Awakening

They moved around her, cleaning tables and setting up for the dinner rush coming in an hour. Maya just looked so tired, neither girl wanted to rouse her. Besides, the holo-pictures of her with such a serious case of drool-ornamented counter-face were just too good to ruin now.

Naali was the quiet one of the pair; she'd been a market place ghost for years before Maya took her in and gave her a chance at an honest living. Truth be told, she still occasionally "borrowed" things from the vendors of Mos Espa, but compared to before she was downright saintly there days. She mostly lifted to keep her skills sharp any more. Well, that and when she saw something really shiny.

Tahnya was everything her compatriot wasn't. Physically larger, much stronger, and as subtle as a speeder's front grill to the face, the Zabrak girl was pretty in a solid, muscular, intimidating way. Not as graceful or slender as Naali, she made up for it in raw attitude. Before Vaaro ever had to break out heavy weapons to stop trouble in the Transverse, a threatening growl from Tahnya usually did the trick.

Right now, they were both being as stealthy as they could, getting the cantina ready for the twenty or so that would be showing up soon. Hungry and thirsty from their long day out in the sand, the bar's patrons would not have the same concern for Maya's obvious fatigue. Both girls wanted their poor, overworked boss to get all the rest she could.

So, of course, Tahnya managed to drop a mug less than a meter from where Maya was snoring.


In a flash, the ex-Rebel was up and looking around, wide eyed and breathing hard. "Whaa--!"

Tahnya winced, avoiding her friend's accusing stare, and help up the broken cup's handle. "Just me droppin' a mug, miss. Nothin' ta be worried none." She cussed herself out inwardly; so much for being careful!

Maya nodded numbly, obviously not really "home" in her head yet. She was still breathing heavily, but it seemed to be more from whatever dream she'd been forced out of by the shattering pottery. "It's... it's all right. Just clean up the mess, please." Maya took a few shaky steps, slipping off her bar stool and leaning against the counter as she adjusted her clothes.

"O'course, miss." Tahnya was already tidying up, but she figured the admonishment was a kind of involuntary reflex on Maya's part. The poor dear really wasn't awake yet. Wherever she'd been in dreamland, she looked to be mostly there still.

"I'll go check on our guest," Maya muttered as she moved away from the bar to slip into the back halls. As she did, Naali shot Tahnya a knowing look. Suddenly, the clumsy barmaid knew where her boss' mind was.

"Oh my," she mouthed to Naali.

For the smaller girl's part, she just nodded and grinned wickedly. "Check on him, my hind end," Naali whispered. "That stranger's about to get seriously jumped."

Tahnya tried not to snort with laughter, covering her mouth with one gloved hand. Then something she'd seen earlier made her wince again. "Errr... that might be more difficult than you'd think, Naal."

Almost exactly one minute later, a furious, denied-looking Maya came running back into the cantina's common room. "WHERE is he?!?" She had her blaster belt in her left hand and one of them drawn in her right. The normally demure barkeep looked almost murderous, something the two girls had never seen before.

Tahnya held up both hands. "Now don't be panickin', miss. Misser Vaaro's got him out at the flight deck."

That at least made Maya stop hissing in rage, though she didn't really lower her pistol so much as look like she wasn't about to start firing it randomly. "Flight deck?" The blaster-packing bar owner's voice was nowhere near calm. "Why the frang is he there?!"

With a shrug and a shake of her head, Tahnya communicated quite eloquently how little she knew. Then, "I saw Misser Vaaro walkin' out o' here with yer man under a tan sand-robe. He was good 'n bundled, honest."

Maya slowly thumbed the active-bolt forward on her pistol, dissipating its deadly charge without having to fire the weapon. "And... and they were both safe?"

Tahnya looked at her friend for support but Naali backed up into the kitchen, abandoning her poor companion to her fate. Tahnya made a note to "thank" the scrawny wench for that later, preferably with a chunk of methane ice down the back of her dress. "Umm, I believe so. Honest, I 'spect 'em back anytime now, miss."

With a dejected groan, Maya dropped her gun belt and slumped back down on the bar stool. "Damn it."

The serving girl sighed and stood back up, crossing the room to her boss. Maya's been good to her for a long time; this looked like a chance to do something in return for once. "Miss?"

Maya blinked and looked up at her. "Yes, Tahn? And please, for the thousandth time, please call me Maya. Miss makes me sound either 7 or 70; I'm neither."

Tahnya nodded softly. "Of course, miss. Sorry."

Maya rolled her eyes. That argument was a lost cause and had been since the day she's caught this little scamp lifting her credit chips. "What was it you wanted, Tahnya?"

"Oh, just that you know, there's still more than thirty minutes before the rush hits and it tends to stagger a while before it gets rough. Remember the time you got Jawa Sniffles from that old droid and we had to watch the bar for almost a week."

Maya nodded slowly. "I remember having to scrub stew out of the air filters, pay off a dozen injured farmers, and replace half the bar's breakables."

Tahnya cringed, reddening a bit. "Well, ummm... we've grown a lot since then. I think Naali and I could handle the place long enough fer you ta go look fer the stranger and Misser Vaaro."

Maya looked at her, blinked, and stared a little longer. A few seconds before the younger woman was about to flinch away, the bar owner threw her arms around her in a tight, grateful hug. "Thank you! I won't be long!"

The stunned serving girl was still staring out the swinging front door long after Maya ran through it like a rampaging Bantha...


Erisraven said...

Sigh, yeah, Maya's got it bad, don't she? :)

Now what's she gonna do to Vaaro when she finds out he was joyriding? The mind fears to discover.

Zay said...

There will be pain.

Such pain.