"You look amazing."
Maya chuckled to herself, one hand on the co-pilot's control stick and the other feathering her hair. "You've said that three times now, Darrus."
"Oh." He sounded so adorable, she was almost sorry to have called him on repeating the same thing so often. She was used to attention like this at the bar; a person doesn't dress like she does there and not expect to be stared at. It was an ancient woman's trick - display the goods and men get really, really stupid. Stupid and easy to manipulate. In truth, she could have gotten away with a lot more than she had. She only used her "powers" to help people... and manage the occasional larger tip.
But now, she'd have to get past that compassion, those limits she placed upon herself. To convince the Scarlet Wake on Tatooine, many of whom were regulars of the Transverse, that she was one of them would take every skill she had, every asset she possessed. In the Rebellion against the Empire, she'd done a little undercover work. This would be harder than all those missions combined.
The comm crackled again as Jeht spoke from the front cockpit of the Starwing. They were soaring over the dunes, leaving the old hermit's hut behind in the keeping of a psychotic Rodian. "Miss him already?"
She nodded, then pressed the intercom button. "I do. He and I have a long history. When I left the Rebellion, my blasters, my medkit, and he were all I took. He got me off Hoth, killing more than a dozen Stormies to do it. I owe him my life."
"I understand. Don't worry; he'll be okay. That hut is the safest place on all of Tatooine, I'd bet my saber on that."
She smiled. "I know, but thanks. I'll be okay."
"Good. Do you want to make the comm call or should I?"
Maya pulled up the signal frequency that came along with Darrus' ring. "I'll do it. We are just about in range now for an LOS transmission. They'll appreciate not having a contact that can be tracked."
She groaned inwardly. She knew they were only going to join the Scarlet Wake so they could take it down from the inside out. Vaaro was counting on them doing just that; he and all the other 'inhuman' people on Tatooine were targets for that hate group if they didn't. That's why he'd been so helpful lately. Unless he left this planet soon, this mission could mean the difference between living or dying for him.
She blinked and then blushed. Lost in thought, another hundred kilometers had flown past. "Sorry. Calling now." Her lithe fingers worked over the knobs and dials of the ship's complex comm array. Built for command level transceiver work in deep space, it was overkill for a planetary contact. Once the frequency was dialed, all that remained was to hit Send.
But her hand hesitated. Right now, it was just Darrus and her, alone and free. They could go anywhere, do anything they pleased. This craft was capable of hyperspace and could tangle with anything out there and reasonably expect to fly away intact.
The moment she placed this call, that would change. They would be caught in the Wake's web, never to escape until they found a way to tear it down. That familiar feeling came over her, the same one that forced her to flee from Hoth; this was danger. If she pressed this button, life would change. Life might possibly end. This wasn't a game; this wasn't a lark.
"Are you sure about this, Darrus? We could still get out of here, take Vaaro and blast out into space. We don't have to have anything to do with the Scarlet Wake, or even Tatooine if you don't want to stay here."
There was a long pause before his reply. "You'd do that? You'd leave your bar?"
She took a deep breath but there wasn't a moment's hesitation before her answer. "Yes. For you..."
Her empathy flared; she could literally feel Darrus blush. It brought a smile to her face, one that faded slightly as she felt the next thing in his heart. Duty. Then Honor. Then a sense of responsibility. She could see into his heart, hear the words of his soul.
"I have to do this. I have to make my survival mean something. I should have died. I should be gone. So many lives. So much death. How can I atone?"
Closing her eyes, Maya pushed the send button and waited for a response. "Darrus, when this is over, can we find somewhere safe? Somewhere to be away from all this, if only for a little while?"
She could feel the truth in his words as he answered. "Of course, Maya. If such a place exists, we'll find it." Then, after a long pause, "I'd like that."
Her smile returned. "So would I, Darrus. So would I."