A Crash of FateZoraida Cordova
© & TM 2019 Lucasfilm Ltd.
All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Lucasfilm Press, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Disney • Lucasfilm Press, 1200 Grand Central Avenue, Glendale, California 91201.
Cover Illustration by Matt Griffin
Design by Leigh Zieske
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Chapter 1: Izzy
Chapter 2: Jules
Chapter 3: Izzy
Chapter 4: Jules
Chapter 5: Izzy
Chapter 6: Jules
Chapter 7: Izzy
Chapter 8: Izzy
Chapter 9: Jules
Chapter 10: Izzy
Chapter 11: Izzy
Chapter 12: Jules
Chapter 13: Jules
Chapter 14: Izzy
Chapter 15: Izzy
Chapter 16: Jules
Chapter 17: Izzy
Chapter 18: Izzy
Chapter 19: Jules
Chapter 20: Izzy
Chapter 21: Jules
Chapter 22: Izzy
Chapter 23: Izzy
Chapter 24: Jules
Chapter 25: Izzy
Chapter 26: Izzy
Chapter 27: Jules
Chapter 28: Izzy
Chapter 29: Jules
Chapter 30: Izzy
About the Author
For my brother Danilo J. Córdova.
I have nothing left to teach you, young Padawan.
The girl climbed the rock face, higher and higher. She scraped her knee only once, and the cut had already begun to scab over as they neared the top. The frilly dress she wore was covered in sweat and dirt. Her father would be angry with her. He’d sewn in extra panels only the day before because she’d had another growth spurt practically overnight.
“Come on, Jules!” she shouted. “We’re almost there!”
“No fair, Izzy,” the boy called back. Loose pebbles fell over his head, and though he’d convinced himself that he wasn’t afraid of heights, he made the mistake of looking down, only for a moment. His palms were sweating and his belly flip-flopped from the fear of falling. If he wanted to fly, he’d have to get over his fears, and to do that he needed to conquer them. The trouble was, it was easier to think rather than do, and the doing was proving rather difficult. When the boy looked back up, sunlight beamed in his eyes, but he could still see the girl was already a meter or two ahead. He grunted and pushed himself to climb faster. “Your limbs are longer. That’s practically cheating!”
“Practically but not exactly,” she said.
Izzy Garsea held on to the nooks and crannies in the jagged rock. The suns beat overhead, relentless during the dry season. Not a single cloud provided shade, but they’d covered their heads with the scarves Jules’s mother had dyed bright blue only the previous week. Jules had helped, and his fingers were still stained from accidentally sticking his hands into the dye buckets. Blue and purple freckles dotted his golden-brown forearms like constellations.
Using a spire like a ladder to get to a cliff shelf, the boy and girl threw themselves on their backs, victorious smiles painted on their faces. So far away from Black Spire Outpost, it felt like the whole world was laid out just for the two of them. They could scream as loud as they wanted and not be reprimanded. They could do anything.
“One day I’m going to beat you,” Jules said, sitting up.
Izzy giggled and brushed off the pebbles that stuck to her hands. “Keep dreaming, Jules. I’m taller.”
His big toothy smile was sweet. “You won’t always be.”
Despite being one year older than the girl, Julen Rakab was still a head shorter. For a six-year-old on Batuu, it meant he got his allowance stolen quite a bit by bigger kids and transient travelers prowling for an easy mark. But the girl never treated him that way. Left alone during the long stretch of day when their parents had to work, they’d forged a bond. With her, he was safe—well, as safe as two little ones could be while rock climbing. But he borrowed some of her fearlessness and followed as far as she was willing to take him.
They settled beneath the shade of gnarly trees that had somehow managed to retain their leaves. From their vantage point, the lands of Batuu spread beneath them, a swell of green and jutting rock. While their respective parents toiled away on various farms, the girl and the boy made plans of their own.
They unpacked their snacks from their pockets: a bag of popped grains he’d made the night before, dried fruit from the Garsea pantry, caf beans covered in chocolate she’d snuck from her mother’s hidden tin of sweets, and a canister of fresh water. They shared everything, but the boy always gave the girl a slightly larger bite of fruit, let her have her fill of chocolate and water.
“Da says I can start working on the farm for next year’s harvest,” he told her, handing over the metal canteen.
The girl gasped. Her already wide green eyes went wider. “But, Jules, who will play with me then?”
“I’ll still play with you, I promise.”
“Not every day. I hardly ever see my parents at home. They leave at suns-rise, and by the time they come home, it’s dark and they’re too tired to do anything but eat and sleep.”
“Yeah, but they’re old.” The boy shook his head, hoping to reassure her. “My sister gets home and works on her knitting to sell in the market.”
“Why can’t you start when you’re older?” the girl asked.
“Because Da says if I want my own ship, I have to save for it myself.”
“Your own ship?” she said with wonder. She tipped her head to look up at the sky. A small luxury vessel was making its way to Black Spire. The Outpost was only a little cluster of buildings from that distance, but she knew how busy it was. Her father had let her go along with him once. She had drunk in the open shops, the bustling streets, the smell of roasted meats and nuts. “Will you take me with you?”
“Of course, Izzy. We can explore new moons and planets.” He sat up on his knees and found a disk-shaped rock. He simulated a flight path in the space between them. “I was at Oga’s—”
“What were you doing there?”
“I like to see the new travelers when they land. There’s always someone wearing what my dad calls ‘flashy and absurd,’ whatever that means. Anyway, I overheard two men talking about a moon that’s completely covered in ice and snow.”
Izzy scrunched up her face and twirled the tip of her long black braid. “I don’t like being cold.”
“What about a planet that’s all water? Think of all the creatures that could be discovered down there. Or where the sky is all different colors all the time. Or a city with billions of people!”
Izzy finished the last of the water. She wasn’t sure what kind of world she wanted to visit, but she was sure she didn’t want to spend her days without Jules. “Can I be princess of the ship?”
“I don’t think that’s how princesses work,” he said as he landed the rock-ship at their feet and it beca
me a plain stone among the others.
“How do you know? Have you met many princesses?”
He considered this. “Fine, you can be princess. But I’m the captain.”
“Why do you get to be the captain?” She tapped her finger on her chin thoughtfully. “I could be both.”
“You can’t be both.”
“It’s my ship. I have to do something.”
“Fine.” She held out her hand and repeated words she’d heard her mother utter many times: “You’ve got yourself a deal.”
They shook hands the way they’d seen the grown-ups do, then rested in the shade awhile longer. If there had been clouds in the sky, they would have played a game of giving them shape. Once, she was sure she’d seen a flying bantha in a cluster of rain clouds. Instead, they watched as more ships flew in from the atmosphere and headed straight for the Outpost. Izzy could see the patch of farms where both their parents spent their days toiling, the bright grasslands, and the hills. She loved Batuu from up above, but most of all she loved watching the river snake across the planet’s surface, weaving among dense trees and jutting spires that had once been trees themselves.
The boy pointed at a familiar ship. “Isn’t that the Meridian?”
The Meridian was her mother’s ship, a light freighter usually stationed in one of the docking bays. Because their home was so small, they used the ship for storage. The girl held the scarf over her eyes and squinted. It was too sunny, and the glare hurt to stare at too long. “That can’t be. My mother’s at the farm, and Da never flies alone.”
A growl erupted from behind them, pulling their attention away from the sky. A four-legged creature crouched behind the crooked trees. It moved too fast for them to get a good look, darting behind a cluster of rocks.
“What is that?” the boy shouted. “It’s too big to be a rat.”
The girl picked up the largest rock within reach and flung it as hard as she could. It smacked off the boulder and went over the ledge, rattling all the way down. The creature leapt again, black as a shadow. The boy followed her example, and they chased off the creature with pebbles and rocks.
The girl approached the cliff’s edge and looked down at the sharp rocks and crags below. “Coast is clear.”
“We should go back home,” the boy said.
They gathered up their few belongings, but the animal leapt from where it had been hiding. Never in his life had Jules seen anything quite like it before: part feline and part lizard, with a splotchy coat of fur and yellow split-pupil eyes. It bared tiny sharp teeth and snapped hard at the air. The boy tumbled back and fell. His head slammed on a rock, and blood dripped down over his ear. The beast climbed up on a boulder, ready to pounce again.
“No!” The girl’s scream echoed off the rock around them. She had no weapon but herself. Throwing her body in front of the creature, she shut her eyes and shielded her face. Jaws closed around her forearm, and pain splintered through her.
The boy scrambled back to his feet and found another stone, small but sharp. He aimed true, and it landed in the beast’s eye. It let go with a howl and finally retreated.
“Izzy!” the boy shouted. “You’re bleeding!”
He unraveled his scarf and wrapped it around her wound to staunch the blood. He tied the ends into a knot.
“You were brilliant,” she said.
He marveled at her. She didn’t cry or wince; she simply grinned at him. “You saved me first.”
“You’re my best friend, Jules. I couldn’t stand it if something happened to you.”
They sat under the hot suns for a while longer, waiting for the creature to come back. But they were not afraid. They had each other.
“Can you climb down?” he asked her.
“I think so.” She looked over the cliffside, and for the first time the steep climb made her nervous. But she couldn’t very well live on top of a rock, if only because she knew Jules wouldn’t leave her, and then he’d be in trouble, too. “I will.”
They used each other like chain links, moving down, feet digging for purchase, hands clinging to stone and to each other.
When they were on solid ground, they shared a victorious cheer. The boy did not have many things he could call his own, but he had a family trinket. He twisted the ring from his middle finger. It was smooth black stone with natural flecks of gold along the surface. His father had carved one for each of their family members.
“Here,” he offered.
Izzy held it on her palm like it was the most precious thing she’d ever been given. “I shouldn’t. I have nothing to give you.”
“My father says you shouldn’t give a gift if all you want is one in return. You do it as thanks or to show someone you care.”
The girl slid the ring onto her pointer finger, where it fit the best. “Thank you, Jules.”
On the long walk back home, they retold the story to each other, the creature getting bigger, hairier, and toothier each time. But they kept glancing behind them, silently fearing it would follow.
They went their separate ways for the night.
When the girl walked through the front door of her house, she was surprised to see her father home. That time of day he was supposed to be at the farm. Thank the skies he was there. Her arm had begun throbbing. He took her to get her wound looked at by a medical droid. Fortunately, the beast that had bitten her carried no diseases, but it would leave a mark.
The girl slept long and hard and dreamed of falling off the cliff. She woke when her father scooped her into his arms.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“Hush now,” he whispered. “It’ll be an adventure.”
The girl loved adventures, and she fell back asleep.
She remembered the sigh of the boarding ramp, then her mother’s tense voice asking if they’d left anything behind. They hadn’t, but Izzy had.
The girl woke completely when they were flying out of the atmosphere. Strapped into the seat, she thrashed and cried, “No! We have to go back! I didn’t say good-bye!”
Didn’t they know that she and Jules were going to travel the worlds and be a princess and a captain and—
But her words were drowned out by the rattle of the ship as they sped deep into space. All she saw was the green speck of Batuu, then the rush of stars as they hit lightspeed.
“I’m sorry, my darling girl,” her father said when it was safe to stand. “But we’ll find a new home and you’ll make new friends.”
He pulled her into his arms. She stopped her crying and stared over his shoulder at the infinite stars and planets that lay before them.
When she was alone in her bunk, the girl twisted the ring around her finger and whispered, “I’ll find you, Jules. I’ll come back for you.”
That was the first promise Izal Garsea ever broke.
Izal Garsea spent all day waiting for fireworks to fill the sky.
That anticipation had been the only thing getting her through the mundane tasks of the day. Damar Olin had given her a list of things to do, as per Ana Tolla’s orders. Ana wasn’t even their boss, and Izzy and Damar weren’t official members of her crew yet. But somehow Izzy kept getting stuck with what amounted to chores, neglecting her own ship’s maintenance.
First she’d helped the crew load Ana Tolla’s ship with crates of supplies they’d need for their next mission. Then she’d been sent on a pointless errand to pick up a replacement power converter, when they had a perfectly functional one already. The only thing she felt good about doing was fixing a glitch in the ship’s navicomputer. At first, she thought it was all part of Damar’s ruse to truly surprise her, but as night fell over the rusty skies of Actlyon and they crowded onto the cantina’s patio for one last drink, Izzy grew anxious. Why did she ever expect Damar to change?
Located in the crowded lower district of Actlyon City, the cantina was dimmer and rowdier than most, with a cloying scent of stale liquor. Izzy made sure her blaster was in plac
e. It was an older model with surface modifications, but it had been her mother’s, and she never went anywhere without it. Ana Tolla led the way to the back doors, her long red whip of a braid swinging from side to side. The outside patio had seating overlooking the mountains on one side and the docking bays packed with transport vessels arriving for the night on the other. There the crowd was drunken but not dangerous, at least not at the moment. Though the burning scent of fuel from the port nearby drifted their way when the wind blew, the blanket of stars made up for it.
They positioned themselves at a sticky table, and because there weren’t enough chairs to go around, Izzy stood. Lita didn’t sit, either, though as a small reptilian-faced Ketzalian, she could hover beside Izzy on filmy purple wings.
A live band, Sentient 7 and the Clankers, tinkered away on what passed for a stage. Izzy drummed her fingers on the table as they waited for a server but regretted it when her fingers came away sticky. She paused for a moment as the Rodian keyboard player winked a star-speckled eye in her direction. There were dozens of people crammed onto the patio, shimmying to the electric song, but Izzy was positive the musician was looking at her.
At least someone is, she thought.
Izzy tugged on Damar’s jacket, the deep-blue leather one she’d given him because it was an exact match to his dyed hair. His gray eyes were shadowed in the dimness of the patio, and Izzy didn’t miss the lightning strike of irritation that wrinkled his brow.
“Iz,” he said, batting lazy eyes at her. He only called her that when he was trying to correct her without picking a fight. Lately, with Ana Tolla’s crew around, he only seemed to call her Iz.
“Should we, you know, be going over tomorrow’s job?” Izzy asked him.
“We will,” Damar said, tucking her hair behind her ear. He looked to the others, flashing a too-bright smile. There had been a time when Izzy would have done anything to see that smile. That night was not one of those times. He flagged a waitress. “Definitely. Let’s get some food first. I’m half-starved.”
Lita shot him a dark look. “It’s a good thing you ate my last java cake or you’d be fully starved.”
They placed an order for food and drinks with a particularly frazzled Trandoshan waitress, who grunted as she scribbled on her datapad. Izzy was positive the waitress was drawing stick figures, and wouldn’t hold her breath that their order would be correct.