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Alright people, let's do this one last time.

I had tons of fun doing this the other day and I want to do it again, the right way, in a coherent, accessible thread, so here it is, rewritten, my goofy AU for A NEW HOPE in which Luke is a trans girl sex worker instead of a farm boy
So, we begin where we left off from RotS, i.e, Leia going to the Organa family and the other twin going to Tatooine, but in this timeline, the latter turns out to be queer af

Amazingly, growing up trans to conservative parents in an agrarian backwater isn’t a good way to grow up
The child struggles with deeply unsupportive foster parents who seem hellbent on pushing her toward a future that makes her nigh-suicidal to imagine

Owen deliberately conceals so much from her about her origins that she occasionally wonders if she was just purchased outright
She learns that her grandmother’s name was Shmi, but nothing else about her, and her imagination wanders—she can’t help but imagine that she would be a better person than the podunk cranks raising her

Eventually she secretly takes the same name for herself: Shmi Skywalker.
She tries to run away a couple times. Invariably, when she resolves to this, Ben Kenobi senses the disturbance in the Force and collects her before she makes it too far into the wastes

With a kindly manner, he lets her stay the night, but always takes her back the next day
Though the Larses try their hardest to cut Shmi off from her friends and social activities, when Shmi is fifteen she makes a plan with her best friend/FWB, Biggs, to stow away offworld with him and go somewhere else—ANYWHERE else.

She's never been so determined to do anything.
She’s so determined, in fact, that she unconsciously cuts herself off from the Force. This time, there isn’t a disturbance for Ben to come investigating.

Biggs’ departure isn’t unusual, in any case—he was already scheduled to go offworld to the Prefsbelt IV Naval Academy.
They part ways, temporarily, at his transfer in Coruscant. Shmi sticks around, with as much money as Biggs could afford to leave her with, but no plan, and no idea how to survive in such an unbelievably massive city.

She gets grabbed up almost immediately. Winds up in a System.
It turns out, the children who’ve had Shmi’s exact same idea are legion—Coruscant is lousy with waifs escaping abusive situations or slavery, arriving at spaceports with no identification.

It’s too expensive and too pointless to deport them all, unless somebody comes looking.
So, somebody just gets put in charge of her—a miserable situation, but a safer one than what would have otherwise come to someone so inexperienced.

At the very least, she doesn't get deadnamed anymore. And most people don't even bother to argue with her about her gender, either.
A year passes. It’s been ages since Shmi has seen the sun—ANY sun. Her farmer’s tan slowly fades away to the chalky pallor common to children on the sub-levels of Coruscant.

As an older teen, she's often placed in the strange position of looking after many such children.
Shmi sends what few correspondences to Biggs she can. Usually, she can’t.

Still grinding away at the Academy, Biggs sometimes wonders if kidnapping a girl and marooning her somewhere else was a moral thing to do.

Back on Tatooine, Ben hasn't quite realized something's amiss.
At sixteen (or roundabout—even if she ever knew which day it was, she doesn’t know her birthday to begin with, let alone how to find it on the Coruscanti calendar) Shmi gets released from the System.

Moving from one to another, she tries out for the Coruscant Underworld Police.
On a planet with a swelling population of over one trillion, controlled by a fascist government with firm demands for law and order, the police force of Coruscant always has more openings to fill than qualified applicants.

Even at sixteen, Shmi is more qualified than many.
She's hale, she's literate, she's technologically adept, a preciously talented pilot, and an amazing shot. Young, too young, but that just means she'll eat up more of the propaganda, and fall in with the ranks more reliably.

So, whatever. Worst case scenario, she gets killed.
So, Shmi gets a job.

She's still too young and green for a beat. She mostly tags along with a pair of aloof, laconic veteran officers on a gunship, following the orders of their particularly hateful and verbally abusive engineering droid.

Still beats Owen and Beru, frankly.
She doesn't especially like the people she works with—doesn't like the dull conversation, the vaguely bloodthirsty attitudes of her squadmates, the hopelessly rigid disciplinary standards, the sense that she's terrorizing the very community that saved her life.

She persists.
All told, this still the most independent Shmi has felt in her entire life.

She put HERSELF here. This was HER decision. SHE took control of her destiny.

And with the money she's making, she's starting to see someone in the mirror that doesn't make her cringe outright.
She's in a position now where Biggs can visit. Never for long, but shuttle to Coruscant is frequent and relatively inexpensive.

They don't talk shop about the different flavors of fascism they're living in—just cherish whatever emotional and physical intimacy they can share.
On Tatooine, Ben realizes that something is deeply off. He often goes years without seeing Anakin's child, but surely by now SOMETHING should have crossed their paths.

He scopes out the Lars Homestead. Ominously, the Larses have taken on hired help.

No sign of Skywalker's child
Owen hates him, but this is too important.

Appearing at the rim of the crater, he calls out that he hasn't heard much of their nephew lately, inquiring if he's well

Owen Lars gruffly emerges, answering that their ungrateful freak of a nephew ran off with his boyfriend years ago
This is absolutely disastrous to Ben. How could Skywalker's child have slipped past his awareness for so long? How could he have failed them this badly?

He prowls the Force like he never has before, desperate to find any ripple of them in the Galaxy.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing
He spends a year scouring the Anchorhead and Mos Eisley areas for any sign of them. He skulks across Huff Darklighter's land, Tosche Power Station, Beggar's Canyon. Reviews memory banks of droids.

Nothing. They were cautious. Almost as though Shmi knew she was being monitored.
Travel to the Imperial Naval Academy without a firm certainty that the child would be there would just be delivering himself into the hands of the Empire without any payoff. Same for most of the other planets Anakin's child might have escaped to.

He knows he needs assistance.
The next time Biggs stops in at Coruscant, he shares a bad experience. Some of his friends got disappeared for talking to Rebels. He's shaken.

Shmi's not doing much better. She's been forced by her unit to participate in various cruelties that haunt her in the night.
She sees him off at the spaceport, and then begins arrangements to leave the Underworld Police. It's harder in some ways than she expects. Eventually she figures out the right buttons to press to be washed out of the unit without also being marched off to a reeducation center.
The next time Biggs is onworld, Shmi's completely switched careers. She works in a droid repair and salvage shop during the day and takes calls at night.

"I don't make nearly as much as I did," she tells him, "but I can finally live with my conscience."
She certainly likes herself more now than she ever did before. She enjoys her work, enjoys the work *she's had done*, enjoys feeling like she's found a place of belonging, enjoys feeling like she's finally putting some love back out into the world.

Tatooine is long behind her.
That's the last time she sees Biggs. He defects to the Rebel Alliance not long after that, which is an allegiance that doesn't predispose itself to frequent visits into the Imperial Core.

She misses him dearly, but she's proud of him.

But she's not lonely. Her life is here.
Meanwhile, in Mos Eisley, Ben Kenobi's posted a bounty. A large one.

"Luke Lars", to be captured alive and intact, last seen in the company of one Biggs Darklighter, likely to be living as a woman under an assumed name.

Boba Fett's captured queer runaways before. Easy money.
Biggs Darklighter, owing to his recent defection to the Rebellion, is harder to locate than Boba Fett would have preferred. But he's the kind of Rebel who doesn't expect to be a valuable target all on his own, so there's a sloppiness there that Fett has experience exploiting.
It's just a matter of carefully mapping Rebel activity. On some less-than relevant moon known not to care too much about the allegiances of its visitors, Boba Fett strikes gold and finds a Rebel with a connection to Biggs. The rest is child's play.
Biggs gets caught off-guard and unarmed. The resulting stand off is pathetic.

Boba Fett ties him down and subjects him to extremely enhanced interrogation. Biggs, confused about why he's being grilled about his girlfriend and not his Rebel activities, resists as much as he can
He tells himself later, as he staggers and crawls his way back to his X-Wing, that the only reason he caved was because Fett claimed he had orders to bring Shmi in alive.

He almost manages to pretend that isn't a lie.

Elsewhere, a lot of bad things are happening on Scarif.
The Tantive IV is boarded, and Leia puts up a good fight but ultimately gets subdued by Imperial forces and taken into custody.

R2 and C3PO manage to make their way to Ben Kenobi, even without meeting any friendly farm boys en route. The Force, mysterious ways, etc etc.
This creates a Morton's Fork for Ben, who's been bracing himself all this time for Fett's return to him with Anakin's child, and ruminating over how he intends to explain himself to them

But now the other child has reached out, begging him to come to her aid at the worst time
But Leia's sibling probably isn't in any mortal danger, and he can't guarantee he'll be encountering them soon anyway. Moreover, Leia's in the kind of trouble that has dire implications for the whole galaxy.

He has no choice, really. Ben travels with the droids to Mos Eisley.
On Coruscant, Shmi is attending to the needs of a Rodian client when a bolt of plasma crashes through the window and rips its way through his skull.

She dives for the sidearm she keeps concealed in case of dangerous clients and returns fire on her assailant, still half-undressed
In the ensuing firefight, it occurs to Boba Fett that this wasn't the milk run he thought it was.

Between the anonymous client, the lengths he had to go to in locating Biggs, and now the deeply unusual amount of fight this sex worker is putting up, something is very wrong
He conclusively ends the skirmish by blinding Shmi with a flashbang. Blinded, though, she somehow gets off her best shots at him, leaving gouges in his armor

Finally, he manages to tackle her down and conclusively subdues her. It's frustrating, not to be allowed to kill her
On board the Slave I, Fett remarks to a cuffed, bound and blindfolded Shmi that she is by far, the toughest sex worker he's collected a bounty on in his long career.

This does little to endear her to him.

Just to make her squirm, he tells her of all the things he did to Biggs
Fett tells her he doesn't even know if he's alive or not, savoring the way she screams at him for it. That's what the bitch gets.

Shmi's worried, though—not just about Biggs, but about what wacko would value her so much as a target that a Rebel would literally be tossed aside.
The Millennium Falcon departs Mos Eisley right as the Slave I touches down. As Han Solo brings the Falcon into hyperspace, Ben Kenobi feels an enormous pang of regret and an urge to turn back, but it's too late.

Boba Fett, learning his payer just skipped town, is apoplectic
After all the trouble she’s put him through, Fett nearly executes his quarry right then and there. She and Kenobi would both deserve it.

But scuttlebutt at Mos Eisley is that there's an IMPERIAL bounty on the two droids that Obi-Wan was seen departing with. Very intriguing.
If it goes well, it's a smorgasbord. Best case scenario, he boards the Falcon, squeezes his payment out of Kenobi, then delivers him, Shmi, and the droids to the Empire. Then he doubles back to Mos Eisley with Han Solo and cashes Jabba's bounty, too.

High risk, high reward.
But Fett catches up with the Falcon too late—it's already getting pulled in by the Death Star's tractor beam.

Knowing this means it's probably too late to collect a bounty on Solo and his passengers, Fett reasons that if the Empire wants Obi-Wan, they might still pay up for Shmi
The Slave I pulls into Bay 328, the adjoining bay to the one the Falcon got pulled into.

They don't get the same welcoming committee the Falcon got, but the Stormtroopers who receive it are of the "shoot first" mentality, and disinterested in explanations.

He doesn't surrender
He kills the stormtroopers outright, figuring if there aren't any living witnesses he can just blame the slaughter on Shmi later, or, ideally, on Kenobi's party

Slaying his way into the adjacent bay whilst fireman's-carrying Shmi really isn't that difficult for him
In the control room of Docking Bay 327, as Ben Kenobi as opens the blast door to head out for the tractor beam controls, he finds Boba Fett standing in the middle of the corridor, a blaster pointed squarely at Shmi's head.

"I'm here to collect my payment. With interest."
It's a lot, all at once

Ben, realizing with horror that the Force just came back around on him for his decisions.

Han and Chewie, baffled as to what Fett is doing here or who the girl is, but knowing this is a Bad Thing.

Shmi, suddenly understanding who brought this on her.
Ben Kenobi. That old, crazy fucking wizard.

The guy who always caught her in the wastes and returned her to her cage.

He paid this goddamn monster to hurt Biggs—maybe kill him—and to drag her, screaming, out of the life she made for herself.

She's NEVER felt this much anger.
All of Shmi's bindings rip apart at once. Before Fett can even react, he's sent hurtling into the wall like a ragdoll, collapsing to the ground in unconsciousness.

Shmi doesn't even look back at him. She charges straight at Ben like a wild hyenax.
Ben doesn't attempt to deflect the blows to his face. He doesn't dare strike her back, doesn't risk making things even worse with her.

He simply repeats his apologies over and over again, as though to call her out of her frenzy.

It's Chewie that finally rips her off.
Vader, on edge from having felt Obi-Wan's presence, suddenly feels a second one—small, wild and thrumming with hostility, like a power cable with no insulation. Not the kind of presence that distinguishes friends from foes.

But then, it peters out again.

He doesn't like that.
With Chewie restraining her, Ben manages to talk her into, well, at least a state of lucidity.

The damage has been done, though. Shmi's eyes brim with hatred for him.

There's too much he never got to tell her—and not nearly enough time for it now, even IF she were receptive.
It's just damage control, now.

Ben apologizes for bringing her to this instrument of death. Tells her Han and Chewie will take her back to Coruscant, or anywhere in the galaxy. She just needs to wait here.

He retrieves Anakin's lightsaber from his robes. Says it belongs to her.
(Han Solo doesn't really understand why, after that show of uncontrolled force, Kenobi would make this [disturbingly attractive...?] girl even MORE dangerous, but given that he doesn't know what the hell is going ON, he doesn't feel he's in a strong position to brook argument.)
Ben vanishes down the corridor.

Shmi's angry, but she's also shaken. Did she use the Force, just now...? Where the hell is she? Who ARE all of these people, and why was she brought here? What the hell is up with Ben Kenobi? Nothing makes sense to her anymore.

(Or the droids.)
In the midst of some hasty and unsatisfying introductions, R2 blurts out some urgent beeping, which Threepio translates as "she's here."

"Who's here?"

"The Princess."

"Huh? Is that—am I being insulted? Is the astromech referring to me as a princess?"

*extremely irate beeping*
Shmi is terribly confused as to whom this princess is, what her importance is, and why she's being held on the Death Star, and when she stops to think about it, she is not especially keen on monarchies

But as a fellow abducted woman, she's extremely sympathetic to her plight
This is not particularly compelling to Han Solo. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Fine," Shmi says, turning away to rummage through Boba Fett's equipment. "Go to hell, then."

"Wait-wait-wait-wait-wait. You're just gonna go alone?"

"Am I?"

"You—YES! You ARE! And you shouldn't!"
"Noted," Shmi retorts dryly, raising Fett's arms to pull them out of his armor.

"Are you even lis—wait. Are you taking his armor?"



"Oh, for—WHAT, is what's supposed to be under it some big mystery? It's the same thing you find under ANY armor. An asshole."
After taking a moment to gape at Boba Fett's now-half-naked body, Han begrudgingly agrees to go along with Shmi, grumbling that it would be "bad for his reputation" if he let some girl whose safety he was entrusted with march blindly to her death.

She is less than dazzled.
Chewie puts on the binders.

Boba Fett did, after all, expect to be welcomed aboard to dispense of a captive—it's a different Boba Fett and a different captive, but with Han leading in front it's a tableau that makes quick inductive sense to any of the personnel passing by.
The LT at Detention Block AA-23 gapes at them.

"What, precisely, is happening, here?"

"Well," Han begins, hesitantly, "this large, uh, specimen is—is a known terrorist. This civilian just arrived to deliver him, so, uh..."

"He doesn't have a visitor badge."

"...No, sir."
Getting to open fire on bad people manages to help Shmi work through her anger a little, so she's thankful for that, at least, if not the company.

When she opens the door to Leia's cell, she sleepily glances over at her before jumping up with a start.

"Boba Fett?!"

"Ah, crap."
Shmi takes off her helmet, and Leia is extremely discomfited to discover that Boba Fett is a pretty young blonde wearing dramatic nighttime makeup

She presses her temples in genuine frustration, wondering whether Darth Vader is somehow using the Force to make her have a stroke
"I'm not Fett," Shmi drolly clarifies. "I'm Shmi. I'm just a sex worker who knocked him out and took all his stuff. Anyway, I'm here to rescue you."


"As in, why am I here to rescue you? Or why did I take Fett's stuff?"

"Why to literally all of it."

"Oh, then I dunno."
Han and Chewie rush down the corridor as Stormtroopers file in behind them, blocking the only exit. Leia is not amused by the quality of her rescue.

Shmi mutters something under her breath about having just had to rescue HERSELF. Chewie overhears, giving a sympathetic shrug.
"Hey, I DO have a plan," Shmi complains. "We'll go open up all the rest of these cells, instigate a huge prison riot and overrun—"

She turns, realizing that as she's been talking, her three companions have descended down the rubbish shute.

"Or, fine, we can all just be trash."
The door out of the garbage masher is magnetically sealed. Han shoots the door anyway, and winds up nearly killing everyone.

Shmi has a horrible run-in with the dianoga living at the bottom of the water, and is left with a feeling like she ought to invoice everyone present.
As the walls close in, Leia asks if Shmi there's anything in Fett's equipment that might help.

Shmi has no idea how any of Fett's equipment works, but now that she thinks about it, she DOES have a lightsaber? Would that help?

Leia stares at her, then presses her temples again.
Meanwhile, Stormtroopers sweep into the hangar control room. Threepio manages to convince them they're innocuous

The lieutenant sees Boba Fett collapsed by the wall and, mistaking him out of his armor for a Stormtrooper, orders him brought to the infirmary with the rest of them.
Out of immediate peril, Leia demands to know why Shmi has a lightsaber.

Shmi defensively answers that she USUALLY doesn't, but this old guy just gave her one, like, ten minutes ago

WHAT old guy, demands Leia

You wouldn't know him, Shmi replies, he's this Tatooine dick, Kenobi
"Kenobi?! Why didn't you TELL me you came here with Obi-Wan Kenobi?"

"First of all, I DIDN'T come with him. He paid off that Boba Fett asshole to torture my boyfriend, murder my john, tie me up, and BRING ME here. Second of all: turns out you were thinking of some other Kenobi."
None of this makes sense to Leia, and she argues with Shmi before Han interjects that, as much as he loves to listen to the sounds of women bickering, they're kind of on a timetable right now.

Also, what was that about having a boyfriend?

...Shmi gives Leia a disbelieving look.
Han Solo goes wildly charging down the corridor—Leia remarks on his courage, but Shmi feels like "courage" is an overly generous choice of noun.

They get stranded at the catwalk. Shmi asks Leia if she has a grappling hook, to which she is dryly reminded she is wearing a jetpack.
The thing looks older than either of them—just spent a few seconds underwater—so it's precarious enough that Leia gives Shmi a kiss for luck.

She firmly clutches Leia in her arms, gets the jets sputtering to life, and tries not to contemplate the metaphor as they vault across.
Elsewhere, Vader peers at Obi-Wan, whose face is still beaten and bruised from his encounter with Shmi.

"You're a sorry sight, old man," Vader remarks. "what was it that got the better of you?"

"Same as ever," he replies. "My own inflexibility. Seems to have worsened with age."
They clash lightsabers.

"Earlier, that disturbance in the Force... Tell me, what was it?"

"To put my words to it would, I think, only antagonize it," Kenobi answers, with a weary smile. "in time, I suspect it will find its own."

"The time for riddles is long past us, Obi-Wan."
The others rush out to the Falcon. Shmi sees Ben Kenobi having a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader—she's heard of HIM, at least—and pauses, not out of concern, but out of confusion and opportunism.

Before she can consider trying to fire a rocket, Vader... um. evaporates him?
She hustles onto the Falcon. Vader catches a glimpse of her before she's out of sight, observing by the way she scrambles that there's no possible way whoever that was could be the real Boba Fett.

This day has provided him with more questions than answers.
Aboard the Falcon, Shmi takes a seat. Leia asks her why she looks so puzzled.

"So what happens, exactly, when you slash at someone's torso with a lightsaber?"

Leia violently supinates her hands in a gesture of extreme incredulity. "Um, they DIE, Shmi."

"Right, uh, forget it."
Han slides into the room. "Uhhhhh, we've probably got a problem, unless either of you knows how to man a laser turret?"

Shmi stands up. "Sure, I've done things like that."

Han blinks at her. "Well, then, uh, yeah? Good. Great."

Leia squints at her as Han leads the way.
The TIE fighters taken care of, Shmi shakes her way out of Fett's armor while she and Leia attempt to debrief each other, with Threepio occasionally filling in blanks.

Leia and the droids manage to satisfactorily explain... most stuff.

Shmi's side is a total non sequitur.
Leia, desperate to make sense of Obi-Wan's alleged involvement in the kidnapping Shmi describes, asks her how she even knew him in the first place.

Shmi answers curtly that she DIDN'T know him! He was just some old guy nobody liked—who enjoyed narcing on other people's kids.
"Wait," Leia interrupts, "you're from Tatooine then?"

"Look," Shmi snaps, "my life story isn't something put on display for the amusement of the upper classes."

Leia blanches. "That wasn't how I meant—"

"Whatever. Keep him on that pedestal or don't. I told you what happened."
Leia takes this as an opportunity to head to the cockpit.

"What do you make of that girl?"

"You're asking ME?" Han replies. "All I know is they don't teach you how to chump ace bounty hunters at skin school."

"You saw it, right?"

"Sister, I STILL don't know what I saw."
Leia furrows her brow. "I can't decide whether or not she's trustworthy."

"I never trust anybody," Han shrugs. "Still, if she's buddies with the Empire, she's sure got a funny way of showing it."

"Well, one way or another, they're almost certainly tracking us."

They touch down on Yavin.

In the X-wing hangar, Leia's initial exchange of pleasantries with Commander Willard gets interrupted by a commotion as Shmi sharply gasps, sprinting off towards a craft. Alarmed by the rash movement, many of the posted infantry take off after her.
Leia, Han and all cadre present take a few tentative steps around one of the X-wings to get a better look of where she went.

The infantry have stopped, backing off, with an expression of discomfort.

Leia brushes past them to find Shmi tightly embracing one of the Rebel pilots.
Shmi opens her eyes, realizes she's gathered an audience. She pulls away slightly, reddening.

"Oh. Uh. Sorry, everyone. This is—this is my good friend, Biggs."

Han and Leia turn, sharing a look much too kaleidoscopic in meaning for anyone else in the room to fully understand.
Even after a dunk in a bacta tank and a few days' time, Biggs still looks like hell. If any of his body parts needed replacement, he's doing a good job concealing it.

The Battle of Scarif pretty much put an end to any chances of him cowboying off on his own in pursuit of Shmi.
Shmi just... arriving on his doorstep with the kidnapped Princess in tow is, needless to say, not how Biggs was expecting to get closure on this issue.

Well, if anything, he had been bracing himself to die without ever getting closure at all. Now he doesn't even know WHAT to do.
They find a quiet place to talk.

"What now?" Biggs asks. "I mean—for us to be back together like this—I don't know."

A part of him wants to desert, and he hates himself for even thinking it, but she's HERE.

"We're kind of trapped here now, aren't we?" Shmi says wistfully.
Later, Han Solo is loading boxes of credits onto the Falcon when he makes eye contact with Shmi, now dressed in pilot fatigues.

"I'll take that evening gown you're wearing to mean you're not leaving with me?"

She smiles sadly. "Biggs tried convincing me to go, but... I can't."
"Hey, good on you, kid," Han says. "Between you and me, after the trouble we got into, there was no way either of us were ever going to make it all the way through to Coruscant."

"That... may also have figured into my decision."

"Yeah...." Han sighs. "Tough break all around."
They share an uncomfortable silence.

"So," Han says, "I guess they're teaching piloting at skin school now?"

Shmi rolls her eyes. "Yeah. Guess they're teaching piloting at JERK school, too."

"Rookie mistake, lady. Jerk school IS piloting school."

She smirks. "Take care, Han."
Shmi finds a concerned-looking Leia awaiting as she approaches her X-wing.

"Not that I don't appreciate all this," she says, "but TELL me you volunteered for more than Biggs."

"You wouldn't get it," Shmi replies. "he's not just... I owe him everything. And he's all I have."
"You don't look happy about any of this, though," Leia says softly.

Shmi scoffs. "I'm NOT. If this had been something I wanted, I could have done it whenever. I'd give anything to be back home."

Leia sighs. "...Me too, Shmi."

She bites her lip. "Right... Sorry about Alderaan."
"I know," she says. "Whatever your reasons, I'm grateful to have you here."

Leia leans forward, leaving a gentle kiss on Shmi's cheek, but a thought crosses her and her eyes widen.

"Oh—sorry! That won't upset...?"

"Biggs is giving me a thumbs-up from across the hangar, so no."
Shmi crawls into the cockpit.

"Hey," one technician asks, "this R2 unit of yours looks a bit beat up. You want a new one?"

She peers back, realizing which astromech is hooked into the X-wing.

"Yes. That droid's a condescending little jerk."

R2 beeps infuriatedly at her.
The X-wings take off. Shortly thereafter, the battle begins.

Gold Squadron's attack run ends disastrously. The second run ends with most of Shmi's own squadron dying.

She quietly ruminates that she's going to die wearing a uniform, and it's all that bastard Kenobi's fault.
Red Leader orders Shmi to lead the final trench run as his X-wing disintegrates.

"Screw it, then," she mutters. "We'll just go in full throttle."

Biggs frowns. "Shmi, at that speed, will you be able to pull out in time?"

"I keep getting asked that..."

"Really, Shmi? Really?"
Back in the command center on Yavin, Leia begins to hear an urgent, unfamiliar voice in her head—one warning her that Shmi will fail in her task if she does not use the Force.

Leia stands up out of her seat, alarmed, worried that with all the stress, she's finally cracking.
Vader's TIEs are in pursuit. He damages Wedge's X-wing, forcing him to disengage.

Just her and Biggs, now. So close and yet so far apart.

He tries telling her he's sorry about giving her up to Fett. She shouts at him to shut up.

Leia cringes, knowing what's about to happen.
Biggs goes out like a legend, swerving in front of the path of a shot meant for his lover, the comms of everyone on Yavin becoming filled with Shmi's anguished shriek.

Darth Vader feels the sole remaining X-wing erupt with that crackling, live-wire presence, and is unsettled.
Leia clenches her teeth, but Shmi doesn't change course from the trench. It had been her cynical, nagging worry since the mission started.

Jumping to attention she rips a headset off one of the mission supervisors, shoves him off of his chair and catches Shmi's attention.
"Shmi, it's Leia. You need to disable your targeting computer."


"The Force is with you, Shmi. Use it to take the shot."

"You're not making any sense!"

"Shmi!" Leia barks into the receiver. "Turn the damned computer off NOW, or Biggs died for nothing."
"Fine! Whatever. See you in hell, Leia."

Everyone in the command center gapes at Leia in aghast horror, and she wonders if she hasn't made a grave mistake as soldiers drag her away.

"Red Five! Disregard that last command. Turn your computer back on."

"No. Go fuck yourselves."
Millennium Falcon makes a rescue at the last moment. As with in the hangar, Han finds himself unable to let Shmi go off into uncertainty on her own.

Vader, already distracted, collides with another TIE and ricochets violently into space.

"I'm here for you, kid. You got this."
Shmi, through tears, pulls into the final stretch, and launches the torpedoes blind.

She doesn't wait to see if they hit the mark. She pulls up, and immediately charges down Vader's last known vector.

From behind, the shockwave of the explosion rattles through her X-wing.
"Great shot, kid! That was one in a million."

Han Solo checks his tail—realizes the only X-wing he's escorting back to Yavin is Wedge's.


"...Go on ahead. I missed one."

Han shoots Chewie a very worried look."Don't go crazy, Shmi. The battle's won—"

"No. It isn't."
Leia, released from her now-celebrating captors, rushes back onto one of the mission headsets.

"Shmi, what are you doing?!"

"Vader dies."

She purses her lips, worried and overwhelmed. "There'll be another chance, Shmi, you can't just—"

"THIS is the chance. Don't stop me."
"Dammit Shmi, this isn't all about you!" Leia yells. "You think you're the only person he's taken someone from?"

"Then I'll kill him for both of us."

"Return to Yavin NOW, or I'll see you court-marshaled."

"I resign from the Rebel Alliance. I accept this X-wing as back pay."
Vader's TIE Advanced is still stuck in a tailspin when it gets caught in a hail of blaster fire. By the time he manages to straighten it out, his assailant has already scored it a few times, but it remains spaceworthy.

The other pilot seemingly has no regard for their own life.
After some evasive maneuvers, he realizes that the other pilot—whoever they are—is hellbent on crashing their fighter head-on into his own.

Whoever this person is, the only thing in the galaxy that matters to them right now is killing Vader.

Vader can work with that, at least.
As long as Vader can get close enough to some space debris to fling it into his opponent's craft, he'd be able to decisively destroy them—but he'd be passing up on the opportunity to confront the destroyer of the Death Star face to face.

Instead, he makes for the nearest moon.
Even entering the dead moon's atmosphere, the other pilot is intent on ramming Vader.

Vader manages some complex maneuvers through some sandstone formations. The X-wing doesn't miss a beat.

He decides to give them what they want, yawing just enough for their wings to collide.
It winds up being more severe than Vader expected. Both ships one-sidedly spin out, and he has to reach out with the Force to collide with the moon's surface at a velocity that won't crush them both.

The TIE crumples against an azure dune. Vader emerges shakily from the cockpit.
The other pilot crash-landed a few miles or so away. Vader can sense that, owing mostly to his own magnanimity, they are relatively uninjured.

With their only way off this moon destroyed, though, this is the end of the line. Whatever this person is, they are not a Jedi.
Vader advances steadily but resolutely in the direction of the pilot, abandoning caution—none of the pilots that flew out against the Death Star would have readied themselves for ground combat, nor would it be of any consequence if they had.
He steps out through the winding blue canyons into a clearing wide enough that he should be able to see the pilot—

And a concussion rocket flies out, detonating against the canyon wall behind him, knocking him to his knees and instigating a rockslide.
As Vader rolls out of the way, Shmi tosses Fett's gauntlet aside, ignites her lightsaber, and lunges.

The red plasma blade appears so quickly in front of her—and the crack as it hits is so loud and bright—to startle her badly enough that Vader has no trouble throwing her back.
Tumbling painfully into the cliff face behind her, she notes that Vader is evidently capable of fighting at a much, much quicker pace than the sluggish lurching she saw against Kenobi earlier

She rushes again, attacking low, but she's met with a boot to her face for her trouble.
Shmi feels the ground at her back, both her hands empty. She reaches frantically for the lightsaber, but all she feels through her fingers is sand.

"You see now, don't you, girl?" Vader says. "How catastrophically impotent your little death wish truly was? How meaningless?"
Her head pounds, and yet Vader's voice is crystal-clear in her ears.

"Mystifying. Had old Kenobi truly grown so pathetic, that a puerile buffoon like yourself could accost him and rob him of a lightsaber?"

The plasma blade hovers so close to her eyes that all she sees is red.
"No... curious. You burn with hatred for him."

The blade defuses. Something drags her up off the ground, as though her bones are ferromagnetic.

"Tell me why."

Her eyes haven't adjusted—Vader is a black void.

"These vendettas have hastened your undoing. I would hear them."
Her head swims. She feels the phantom hand wrapping around her throat.


She tries to swallow.

"...Same as you, really," she mutters, half-gasping. "No idea why you killed him. I've never seen two people so obviously meant for each other—"

Her ribs crack. She screams.
"Speak CONCISELY. You will regret provoking me again."

The clenching on her torso eases slightly, and she coughs, half-gagging, before she finds the words again.

"...Kenobi took my life from me. You took everything else."

He doesn't move.

"I see. That final pilot. How trite."

"It is insignificant. As are you."

The grip on her neck tightens, pulling her before him. Even standing on her toes to avoid strangulation, he towers over her.

The plasma blade ignites again.

"A reckless, uncoordinated child, stumbling blindly through my affairs."
He raises the lightsaber.

"I suppose, in light of the single moment of your existence in which you achieved something of consequence, I should learn your name."

She closes her eyes, hopes she won't feel it.


She tumbles to the ground. His sword arm goes slack.
It's dark—and, with only the red light of Vader's weapon, it's hard to know for sure just from body language, but he seems—

Going on pure instinct, she jabs forward with a tremulous hand and mashes all the buttons on Vader's chest.

He falls to his knees, gasping for air.
She snatches her lightsaber off the ground, and she RUNS.

Weaving through the rocky, precarious spires of the moon, she stops to cuts through rock formations with her saber at tactically significant points, blocking the path behind her with rockslides.

Anything to get away.
As Vader finally puts the respiratory controls in his suit back to working order, and adjusts the temperature controls so that he's not trapped in a sauna, he realizes that, once again, his prey has done her little disappearing trick.

He can't sense her with the Force.
He'll have to track her the hard way, but with no way off this deserted moon, she can't escape him forever.

But now there's an idea in his head that troubles him. Troubles him greatly.

He regrets not having taken a better look at the girl's stolen lightsaber.
Shmi doesn't know how bad she's injured, but she feels like her chest is stabbing itself. Her breath is ragged and dry, and her heart aches in her chest.

She pushes herself forward, coming out under a large stone arch, and a hail of rapid blaster fire screams toward her.
She manages to pull back behind the stone... barely. One blast rips through her pant leg, grazing and scorching the skin under it.

How could Stormtroopers have made it here so quickly?

"Your luck's run out, skin-witch."

Oh. Her fault, then, for leaving him alive.
"After what you've put me through, it would be bad for my reputation as a bounty hunter if I didn't slowly torture you to death."

Boba Fett in one direction, Vader in the other, with no way out.

Shmi almost wants to laugh. Has anyone ever been more dead than this?
Well, she supposes, she can always go out on HER terms.

Activate the lightsaber right through her neck. quick, easy, relatively painless.

But if she's going to do it, she thinks, she should get undressed. She REALLY doesn't want to die wearing a uniform...


If the angle of those bolts was any indication, Fett's standing at the edge of a ridge above—probably parked his ship right next to her downed X-Wing.

It's dark—only light on the blue wavelength penetrates the atmosphere. He's shooting at movement and sound, that's all.

"You're not going to torture me, Fett," Shmi calls out from behind the stone arch, furtively slicing through her clothes with a razor pen. "You're going to set that rifle to disintegrate, and I'm going to step out, and you're going to take me out clean."

"I am, am I? Why?"
"Because I took all your toys, and you want them back," she replies, smugly, as she shoves her uniform's bulky life support box under her bra. "Without your 'custom' armor, you'll never be able to prove your identity to anyone. Tough luck. There goes your brand."

"...I can just torture that information out of you, idiot."

"Potentially. And while you're busy exploring the upper limits of a CORUSCANTI SEX WORKER'S ability to withstand extreme discomfort, all the pieces will get sold off cheap in night markets across the galaxy."

"Hell. You're a shrewd woman. Fine. If only so you'll be dead sooner."

This might actually work, Shmi thinks.

...Or, she'll die. But she'll die having aggravated Boba Fett one more time.

She tells him the locations of his equipment. She's completely honest. It won't matter.
"The rifle's set."

"Prove it. Shoot a disintegration bolt into the rock wall."

He fires—it's a disintegration shot, for sure.

She quickly steps out from the arch, in the path of the previous blast, and takes a second shot dead in the chest.

All her clothes catch fire at once.
She screams, collapsing against the concave ridge wall in a blaze. All Boba Fett can see from above is the orange glow from the flames.

Shmi's fingers burn, but when she tears the burning shreds of her uniform off her body, her skin doesn't catch fire with it.

It's believable.
Not in the least because the life support box that ate most of the disintegrator round is now molten metal and steel on her bare chest.

She thought she would have to make up a genuine-sounding death wail. Instead, it comes out organically.
She eventually manages to wrench off the magma-like life support box, though it takes more of her than she'd like along with it.

Darth Vader, still in the distance, hears disintegrator shots being fired. Hears the vaguely disturbing wail echo through the canyon.

Who would...?!
It's hard for Shmi to move carefully—hard for her to hide her breathing—with the injuries she's suffered, but she does her best as she creeps her way along the inside wall of the ridge, completely naked, the lightsaber grasped in her less-burnt hand.

If Fett hears her...
But then she has a stroke of luck.

Far-off whistling sounds—like a kettle boiling—as debris from the destruction of the Death Star finally completes its entry into the atmosphere of this deserted moon.

There are white sparkles in the dull blue sky as the tiny particles burn up.
She hastens her pace. The sound of the debris shower muffles most of the sound of her movement. In the distance, she can see a shadowy figure rappel down from the ridge above and inspect the still-smoldering pile of Rebel Alliance uniform.

The son of a bantha's... buying it?
Fett contemplates the ashes of his one-time adversary—asks himself how he's going to turn her story into a cautionary tale.

First, he's going to have murder everybody with his armor—

"Trooper. What are you doing here?"

He turns to the archway, finds Darth Vader standing in it.
Fett is struck totally speechless.


"To what legion do you belong?"

"There's... been a mis—"

The canyon is filled with a red, angry glow.

"Then you have already committed one capital offense. Tell me what you're doing here, and we shall see if there are others."
As Fett stammers out the beginnings of a defense, Vader perfunctorily shoves him out of the way and inspects the small pile of smoking ash and melted metal.

"You disintegrated the Rebel pilot."

"Wasn't a Rebel. OR a pilot."

Vader glances back at him with droll disbelief.
"...You speak of a girl who, not an hour ago, participated in an organized Rebel assault."

Fett's stormtrooper helmet tilts askew.

"Er. That is, that wasn't my MAIN incentive for eliminating her—"

He clutches impotently at his throat, wheezing.

"That life was MINE to take."
Fett struggles against the Force choke—when his barely gasped-out explanations go unnoticed, he reaches probingly for his sidearm, only for the lightning-fast VOOM of the saber to slice it apart, holster and all.

When he attempts to kick Vader, the saber goes through his foot.
"Whoever you are," Vader says, as Fett begins to drift out of conciousness from shock and hypoxia, "you have foolishly killed the one person about whom you held information that might have extended your life. That information is now valueless."

He holds up the saber.

He deactivates the saber, dismissively throwing Fett to the ground, and turns to the ash pile.

With his boot, Vader kicks around the smoldering debris, shoving aside the various orphaned metal accoutrements of the Rebel flight suit.

Impatiently, he levitates the entire mass.
"The lightsaber," Vader mutters. "It WOULD be here."

On the sands, the crumpled mass of Boba Fett is shakily attempting to push himself up to his knees when, amidst the sounds of debris falling from the sky, he notes the distinctive screech of a starfighter's engines firing.
Both of them crane their heads to the sky.

Not far off in the distance, the distinctive silhouette of the Slave I slowly, but confidently rises into the atmosphere.

Vader hears the faux stormtrooper, still writhing on the ground, whimper that "the fucking harlot took my ship".
Shmi watches the landscape grow smaller beneath her. The pain she's in's the only thing making this seem real.

Between the assault on the Death Star, crashing her X-wing, her disastrous fight with Vader, taking a disintegrator slug dead-on... Maybe the Force really IS with her.
Vader's body language is impassive as he quietly watches the fighter disappear into the sky, nearly getting clipped by a piece of debris as it exits the atmosphere.

Her escape is his own fault. He let himself become distracted by a long-buried weakness. It'll be harder, now.
Whatever plans Obi-Wan had in mind for the child, one thing seems clear: they've gotten so ruinously out of hand that it may now be impossible to reverse-engineer his intent. The girl is an unchecked wildfire.

He would rather not extinguish it. Containment may still be possible.
As soon as Shmi's ship makes it clear of any debris, she puts her stolen ship into hyperdrive. Destination: literally anywhere but here, preferably with a bacta tank and easily stealable clothing. In that order.

She has a lot to mourn, but she has to put it out of mind, for now.
This ended badly. But next time, she'll be ready. She'll... figure out some kind of edge. She's apparently Force-sensitive—surely there's SOMETHING she can do with that.

After what's happened, Shmi knows she won't feel safe again until Vader's decisively dead and gone.
On Yavin IV, amidst the Rebel celebrations, Shmi's absence is a sour note ringing through Leia and Han. Frequently throughout the evening, Leia inquires whether any X-wings have returned to the bay. Nothing.

Shmi saved their lives, and then... she just threw her own away.
Many different emotions vie for dominance inside her. Grief. Hurt, Anger. Gratitude. Disappointment.

She knew that Shmi had felt trapped, that all her choices had been taken from her. But... the two of them COULD have been friends. Leia would have—

Well, it doesn't matter now.
Han points out to her that they don't know for SURE she's dead, and she scoffs.

"Do you realize how many HUNDREDS of people—GOOD people—have died in that pursuit?"

"Did any of them blow up a Death Star, first?"

Leia purses her lips. "No. But she's not magic, Han."
She doesn't voice the other thing that's on her mind—that, even if Shmi's alive, she's still abandoned them.

If she came back, Leia thinks, she'd forgive her, no matter the outcome of her foolish attack. But it was always a silly hope, that she'd continue to serve the Rebellion.
The night passes, with no signs of Shmi or her stolen X-wing.

At the award ceremony the next morning, Han and Chewie both get awarded medals. Shmi is awarded one in absentia—no matter her faults, she's the reason the Rebellion is still alive.

Leia smiles, though she feels lost.
Though Biggs doesn't receive a more emphatic commendation than any other pilots who died in the Battle of Yavin, a legend around him is clearly growing.

It makes for a pretty story—a Rebel pilot, a girl, a battle to decide the fate of the galaxy.

It's embellished, and sexist.
But, Biggs was the guy the Rebellion knew. Someone they liked.

Shmi was a temperamental stranger who showed up under nebulous circumstances, achieved a single moment of staggering heroism, and then burned out.

Agitprop favors a storybook moment. Even at the expense of facts.
After the ceremony, the Rebellion begins preparations to evacuate Yavin IV.

Leia returns to her temporary lodging to brood, wondering why a complete stranger has left her with such a hole in her heart.

She closes the door—and when she turns around—sees a ghostly old man there.
The man has a resigned, doleful quality about him, but he smiles.

"Hello, Leia," he says, with a weary voice that she remembers, distantly, from the day before. "The time is long due for certain explanations."

(Whew. That took WAAAAAAAY longer than I expected it to when I started.

I farted out the original outline in what, a single day? Fuuuuuuck.)
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