Airenn's white hair glinted in the sunlight briefly as she jumped from rooftop to rooftop, watching carefully to see if her droid was following on the streets below. The city was still wet from one of the moon's rare yet powerful storms, drenching the sands of this moon with much needed water.
Airenn knew, however, that the remaining First Order troopers that were occupying this rock were not used to the rain, and they would likely still be in hiding, unsure of the properties of the rainfall. She used this as an opportunity to steal herself into their facility, an old building that was nearly fallen over and held up by a variety of crates and empty ammo boxes, hinting at the previous battles this moon had seen.
She was told by her master that this building had been built after the destruction of the original city before the camps she was born in had ever been formed. Her family had told her their version of the truth— the original city was destroyed by the Death Star before Alderaan, and before the Galactic Civil War— but others in the area said it was caused by a mining accident, so she was never sure. As outsiders who lived in the camps and dwelled in the fallen catacombs that were under the city, she was never sure if her family was telling the truth, or a version that emphasized their viewpoint of the wars of her ancestry.
None of it really mattered now, as a small First Order regiment had occupied the city for years, and they held what she wanted inside. If they had saw her she would be killed instantly, but her droid below could enter without issue. Aireen looked down at L1-FT, a small squatty droid with a shiny black exterior that had been stolen from an old Imperial Hangar and reprogrammed for her family’s benefit. He lifted his squatty head to look at her and she nodded to continue their plan.
The droid rolled to the doors and the stormtroopers there instinctively moved in front and held their hands out in unison to stop him.
“Where are you headed” one of them asked.
“beep fliiflt bipblipdop dop doop” L1-FT replied, droid beeps that sounded impatient.
“Aren’t you a strange little droid” the other commented.
L1-FT replied by slowly lifting his head, pushed by two pneumatic pistons on the side of his rounded body, a method once used to lift the weapon system into the undercarriage of tie fighters, now used as a party trick to amuse those that had never seen an L1 unit. Not many had.
This was Airenn’s cue to jump, and she looked across to the building and gathered her strength, muttering to herself instinctively, a chant passed down slightly incorrectly from her ancestors.
“The force is with me and I am with the force... the force is with me and I am with the force... the force is with me and—“ she jumped, sailing overhead silently as L1-FT rolled past the guards and she was soon crawling into the building.
Now deep inside, the building seemed to be a haphazard mix of materials, some left over from the Imperial Army, mixed with more crates and junk from the First Order. They had likely seemed nearly abandoned here, with the real action taking place on other planets in other systems.
She reunited with L1-FT, rubbing his head like a good pet, and he beeped in return.
“Shhh” Airenn said, looking around for any other stormtroopers who were bound to be guarding this collection of goods. She knew she could steal a dozen things here, and sell them among the markets to be rich for weeks – but that’s not what she was after.
She closed her eyes, muttering the same phrase again silently, just moving her mouth to the words. She placed her hands onto L1-FT’s head, concentrating with the force.
In her mind’s eye, the darkness started to produce light around the edges. This formless light slowly took shape, showing her the edges of the boxes she was tucked behind. She flexed an unseen muscle, one that she thought of as the ‘force muscle’, and that view slightly titled, now showing herself and the droid from a bird’s eye view. The edges of herself, the droid, and the boxes were lined in a pinkish light, constantly swirling and moving, giving her an idea of where she was in relation to these items. She twisted the force muscle, and twisted her head, and this view did as well, moving around like she was controlling a starship in space, instead of her own vision in this nearly forgotten building. She saw the rest of the building, the four stormtroopers slowly clomping around as guards, and the sunlight that was creeping in from broken windows far above the ground.
Airenn concentrated deeper, twirling the view around and around, tilting it this way and that, looking for something that she suddenly wasn’t sure she’d find. Yet, as soon as this thought ran across her brain, she saw it, or more accurately, she felt it.
Within the endless pink lines that ran across the edges of shelves, was a faint purple light. She concentrated on this light and moved it closer to her, hoping that she was right about the origin, and she quickly knew she was. It was a kyber crystal, a node of the living force, used by force users (ones much more powerful than her) to guide them along their path, and defeat those that stood in the way of that path.
“This is your gift Airenn, the gift of a Whillseeker.” her master’s words echoed in her mind. “You can see these crystals the way no one else I know of can; through walls and metal and all manner of space you can SENSE the kyber, and you must never forget that the force has granted you this gift for a REASON.”
Moreover this was HER crystal, a unique signature of purple, which red faint undertones told her immediately, from her failed attempt at learning from the Church of the Force. This sect of force users had attempted their own return of the Jedi order, before the rumors of Rey Skywalker had made their way to their corner of the universe. The special crystal, called a double, was likely still inside her lightsaber, and despite the light connection with the force she possessed, Airenn always enjoyed this weapon. While she would never be a Jedi, (nor a Sith), she always felt better with the scrap metal at her side. Building it on Batuu as a child had brought her a sense of pride, and it reminded her of hope.
She opened her eyes, now sure where the saber was, and the light of the real world slammed into her vision. She looked behind her, placing the vision where it would exist in the real world, and started to move. First though she turned to her droid and told it to stay.
She nimbly bounced through the shelves with quickness, down a hallway built of crates marked with dusty imperial logos, and found the newest section of junk that had been placed here. Crates full of forgotten drinks (cleverly marketed to look like an ion grenade) and spoiled food hid what she was after. She quietly moved several cases out of the way, and found what she was looking for. This container was damaged and scratched, but she knew it well; it was the crate that held her saber – stolen from her by the First Order. Inside she could FEEL her kyber calling to her.
Airenn opened the round latch at the front and found the saber still intact inside, and still in decent shape from when she saw it years before. The wood inlay looked like it needed oil, but the leather wrappings had held up throughout the time, and the rancor tooth that capped the end was only cracked in a few places.
She was so glad to see it a tear streamed down her face. She wanted to ignite it, the kyber was ACHING for it as well, but also knew it would be dangerous to do so. Instead she opened the chamber and saw the crystal inside, half purple, half black. It was a rare kyber, and she was the only person she knew that used such a strange crystal. She wanted to take it out of the chamber and hold the crystal, but instead closed the saber back up, remember the special bond between kyber and the hilt that held it. She honored the saber by briefly touching it to her nose, a move mimicked from her teachers, and then was quickly on the move back to L1-FT.
She jumped over the food and drink containers, and started to crawl up a large shelving unit that was a ladder to the upper level she had left her droid. The ascension was easy, but brief, as the shift in weight caused the entire structure to shift and groan loudly. She was sure she could make it to the top anyway and hoped she could do so without alerting the troopers to her location, but as she took her final step onto the secure landing above, the shelves suddenly pitched the other direction and began to fall.
The cacophony stunned her as giant pallets of unsused equipment, weapons, and rations began to tumble from their shelves onto the metal flooring of the building. She winced with the sound, but as it grew louder she began to move faster, sure the troopers would find her soon. She danced back through the remaining pillars and found her way to the droid, tucked behind the same shelves where she had left him.
“Quick, open your hatch!” she whispered hoarsely, more out of breath than she would’ve liked. The droid did so, lifting his rounded head slowly. “Hurry!” she goaded, but knew this was just a function of L1-FT – the head moved slowly, but with enough power to lift heavy equipment.
“HEY! Who is there!?” A stormtrooper yelled, but she couldn’t tell from where.
“I am with the force and the force is with me; I am with the force and the force is with me; I am with the... hurry UP you old bucket, I need you!”
The droid's head was now at full lift, and she investigated his head, remembering yet another lesson from her family.
“Remember Airenn, no one cares about the droid, and not many know how they are built.”
She didn’t fully realize what that meant until later, but now she knew this secret very well. The powerful lifts on either side, and lack of advanced computing systems, meant the inside of L1 units were hollow, despite not being much larger than the more-complicated (yet similarly shaped) R2 units.
She tucked the lightsaber inside, and pulled out the cloak she had hidden in there. She tapped him on his head, and the droid began the slow process of lowering it’s head.
“Now be careful, my saber is in there El! Enact stealth protocol for one hour and then come find me!”
“Look, there’s someone over there!” a trooper yelled. Again, she couldn’t tell where they were. She tucked her fingers under the large wheels of the droid and felt around for some of the grease, and used it to dirty herself up. Then she ran.
She got about 10 yards from the doors before they spotted her, and unfortunately one of the troopers was smart enough to guard the exit. Airenn was expecting this, and as long as no one shot, she felt she would be OK.
“STOP! RIGHT THERE!”
“ON THE GROUND” another yelled.
She complied and said nothing, lifting her now dirty hands in the sky, and pouted as best she could, blue eyes begging the troopers for mercy.
“It’s just a beggar.” yet another trooper called, coming from behind them. That angered her, a message that briefly flashed on her face, before she did her best to ignore it. She hated those that called the wanderers beggars; these men and women were all that was left of the great Jedha City.
Airenn did a well enough acting job though, as a few minutes later she was escorted roughly out the front door, after a demeaning pat down to see if she had stolen anything. She shook it off, just another interaction with the First Order, and after blending in with the crowd, found a friendly tavern that allowed her to wash up. She was high above the city again when the hour she had told L1 to wait had passed, and after a few minutes of worry she watched as the troopers, confused as ever, opened the door and let the droid pass; unsure of what it had been doing for the past 90 minutes. Only she would notice that his head was a little higher than when it came into the building, a few inches – just enough to hold a lightsaber.
She flew down the landings until she was on the ground floor, and followed her droid behind an alleyway, a mile away from the building she last met him in. She pet the top of his head, looked around to make sure it was safe, then waited as he lifted his head and allowed her to retrieve the weapon.
This time, she ignited it, and let the defiant, yet familiar, purplish pink color light up the alleyway around her. The whoosh noise of the blade was a sound she didn’t know she missed.
“Can you do it again?” a voice came from behind her.
She spun around on her heels, lifting the saber to the voice in defense. The Trandoshan that stood behind her was smiling and laughed as she pointed the saber at him.
“WOAH! Relax young lady, just wanted to know if you could do it again… if so, I may have a job for you!”
“DO WHAT again?” Airenn asked, unsure of what else to do. She wasn’t much of a combatant, and by now she had noticed the blaster hanging from his belt, so she assumed fighting wouldn’t really be the right answer. She though back to her training, and asking questions was a key point when it came to attempting to diffuse tension.
“That trick… how you found that stolen saber!” he hissed.
“This wasn’t stolen, it’s MINE!” she said, the anger pushing the saber even closer, his scales reflecting the purple blade back at her as he smiled. He replied by lifting his hands and walking around her slowly, forcing her to remember nearly-forgotten footwork she had been taught.
“I believe you, I mean someone STOLE it from you, not the other way around. Are you a lost Jedi?”
“No.” She thought about if she should add the end part, but did anyway; “I am no Jedi!”
“Oh, another one of those?” he said, chuckling at her joke.
“Well, it’s true… I am not.”
“That’s for the better I think; they are all but forgotten, and it might make the next part of my proposal less difficult. The people I work for would gladly pay to get you off this rock, and come visit them… but it would require you to lower this weapon.”
“Who… who do you work for? Airenn asked, intrigued.
“Have you heard of… Crafted Cores?”
A month later she was on her first mission, loading crates of supplies onto a small unmarked freighter ship. Airenn knew it was a Ghtroc model, but wasn’t familiar enough to know which. She thought about it aimlessly, and asked aloud without thinking.
“El, what model ship is this?” She asked her droid who was slowly pushing a large metal cube up the ramp. A series of beeps let her know it was the 720 model. The conversation didn’t help her boredom of this mundane task.
Instead Airenn thought about how she got here, from the meeting with Crafted Cores to today. She had gone with the Trandoshan, who was being a bit coy when he found her on Jedha. He said his name was Nayr, one of the Crafted Cores owners himself; he also said he had been following her for a few weeks. She felt stupid for not noticing, but she had grown complacent with only worrying about the mostly-incompetent First Order.
Still he had seen her track and find a small cache of crystals, that she had returned to the neighbors she knew in the catacombs. The crystals had become a form of currency, sold under the eye of those that remain loyal to Jedha to ensure the potency was nothing off the charts. It was a sacrifice the followers of Church of the Force had to allow; either hoard the crystals and risk the First Order catching on and seizing them, or let them trickle out to trusted shop owners like Dok Ondar, and hope that those that found them would be aligned with the Light. Plus, the money they could bring in allowed the community to survive, and the church to raise and train the few that they came in contact with that were force-sensitive, like herself.
Still, anything that had been deemed to powerful, such as the elusive double crystals, were kept off the market – which is why Nayr and Crafted Cores grew interested. They were purveyors of more unique crystals, and the rumors of dual crystals was something they couldn’t resist.