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Re: The Tatooine Redemption
Old 12-08-2013, 02:01 PM   #41
Garrick Farrell
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Mos Espa, Tatooine
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Default Re: The Tatooine Redemption

Olivia’s bright green eyes followed the digital information boards in the Falling Star Cantina just outside the Grand Arena. The bar bustled all around behind her, race fans and crews were living it up, the entire area around the arena had effectively become the galaxy’s largest party. She sat at the bar, her hands laced together in her lap, her feet nervously rocking back and forth as they hung about six inches off the ground. A half-full glass of cold bribb juice rested on the bar in front of her. The latest round of odds were about to be released, and they would be the final odds before the race. But more importantly, the total of the purse would be released as well. As per the rules of the Boonta Eve Classic, even the last place finisher received a fraction of the purse. The winner, of course, received the largest slice. And depending on how big the purse was, it could be in the range of six figures. With the Empire occupying the planet this time around, more credits than normal were flying around the box offices. Rumor had it this race could be a million credit payday. Some of the odds started to flash across some of the vidscreens.

...Chotin Craterfall 10:1
Auvas Binar 12:1
Gorover Merga 5:1
Apus Drusonr 7:1
Bead Ircofit 15:1...

Garrick never put much stock into the odds. He always considered bad odds as motivation to push harder in the race. He had cost more than a few high rollers their kid’s trust funds, and as a result, accumulated more than one bounty over his career. She, on the other hand, loved playing the odds. It told you which racers to look out for, which ones would be fast and which ones would be desperate.

...Stengr Muscida 4:1
Aperath Megrez 9:1
Wheprit Muscat 20:1
Kirk Bithot 13:1
Wouswhe Alyan 5:1...

Olivia bit her lip. Her boots rapidly kicked the front of the bar. The bartender shot her a dirty look. She smiled and looked back up at the vidscreen. The remaining racers flashed across the board.

...Kazmir Rizik 3:1
Garrick Farrell 5:1
Oneicha 5:2
Orobur Antares 10:1
Tags Orplem 7:1
Wareft Sadr 9:1
Makoud Binarfire 11:1
Dorrou Nooks 15:1

“Five to one!...FIVE TO ONE!” She shreiked, pounding the bar with her petite fists. A few people, including the bartender, gave her a passing glance and shook their heads. She made a mental note of the drivers with the more favorable odds: Merga, Muscida, Alyan, Rizik, Oneicha. Oneicha was a Trandoshan racer, a newcomer who had built a reputation as fierce and unmerciful on the circuit. He already had a string of victories in his young career and from the looks of the betting, was heavily favored to win again today. Some more information about the race came across the screen and then what she was really waiting for.

Total purse: 1.7 million credits
Winner’s payout: 920,000 credits

Olivia’s shrill scream pierce the air, like fan meeting their favorite holo star for the first time in person. “Gods, almost 2 million credits!” Her voice was high and frantic, now open palms striking the bar, rattling her juice glass. “Do you know what we could buy with that?!” she directed her question to the bartender, who actively ignored her.

She hid her face in her hands and rested it against the bar, giddily calculating how many hyperdrives they could buy. At least twenty, maybe fourty. No, wait, they only needed one. But what would they do with the rest of the money? Mod out the Tioga V beyond all comprehension, and run rampant over the galaxy’s pod racing circuits? No! Maybe an apartment in Cloud City...Yes! A huge open floor space apartment with white everything and an incredible view of the city and a droid butler and droid chef and droid maid. Gods, this changed everything. Garrick had to win! He just had to!

“Hey kiddo!” she heard a voice behind her. Just as she turned her head, a tattered shoulder pack landed on the bar, the straps held by a grinning human.

“Ferris!” Olivia’s eyes brightened and she flung her arms around her friend’s neck. She felt him stand straight up, the floor disappearing under her feet as he hugged her back. She hung there for a moment before he gently lowered her.

Ferris Tull was an on-again, off-again crew member of the Emerald Dawn. Although he and Garrick had known each other since childhood, they were more acquaintances than anything else. It wasn’t until Garrick had begun podracing that they became friends. They had run into each other after a race on Baroonda. Garrick found out Ferris had attended the Imperial Academy and was trained as a medic. Shortly after graduating and being assigned to the Imperial base on Reyvia, it was uncovered that he had actually cheated on many of the written exams and although he was a great medic and a crack shot, he was briefly imprisoned before being dishonorably discharged. Since then he had freelanced as a medic and crew member for various smuggling ships across the Outer Rim, including the Emerald Dawn. It had been nearly a year since the last time he had seen either Garrick or Olivia and if it hadn’t been for a communication out of the blue, it probably would have been longer. He called to ask if the Tioga V would be racing in the Boonta Eve Classic and 24 hours later, he was on a shuttle on route to the great big sand ball.

“I can’t believe it!” Olivia gushed. Her face was turning bright red.

“Believe it little lady. I caught the last transport off the Wheel.” Ferris said in his raspy voice, running a hand through his black lightly curled hair. “It’s a good thing I left when I did. I was running out of credits. And I’m pretty sure someone wanted me killed,”

Olivia smiled, “If we win today, credits won’t be a problem anymore...That is if you stick around this time,”

He shrugged his shoulders, “You know me, I am always open to staying, as long as there’s work. And alcohol. You can never have too much of that,” Ferris signaled to bartender to bring him an ale.

“Well I hope you do stay,” Olivia said, her voice fading at the end. The truth was, she missed Ferris. The handful of times he traveled with the Dawn, it was a different atmosphere. He was constantly making them laugh with his outlandish stories, 80% of which she was certain were made up. His facial expressions were very animated, his low raspy voice making his mellow observations that much more of a pleasure to listen to. He was a hard worker and a fantastic cook as well. He was about the same age as Garrick, which Olivia sometimes thought was a shame because try as she might, her heart fluttered every time he spoke to her. And when he smiled. Oh, his smile. She hated having a crush on him, not only because it was unbecoming of someone with such a tomboyish demeanor to have something as girly as a crush in the first place, but because she knew nothing would come of it and heartbreak was inevitable. She wanted to save herself from the pain, but only ever got further lost in his smile.

“We’ll see how this goes. I’ve still got places to go and people to see,” Ferris said, taking a swig of his ale. A bit dribbled from his lower lip as he quickly lowered the bottle and started going through his pack. “I almost forgot, I got something for you,”

He extracted a thin leather strip, which was wrapped around the top of a red crystal shard, about the size of her pinkie finger. Olivia’s eyes locked on the crystal. “What is it?” she asked.

“It’s a Kaiburr crystal,” Ferris said “Very rare. The Jedi’s use them,”

That raised an eyebrow, “Jedi? I’m not Force sensetive. What am I supposed to do with it?”

“I don’t know, look pretty wearing it? It’s actually fake. I won it off some smuggler in a sabacc game. I’m pretty sure he was cheating so it served him right. Actually I was cheating too, but that’s just between you and me,” he smiled. Her heart fluttered.

He brushed the hair off her shoulder and reached around her neck, tying the leather strands behind her head. She hid her squirming as best she could. The crystal dangled over her heart.

“Perfect,” he said.

“It’s alright,” she fought the urge to tell him how beautiful it was. She loved it.

“Well next time I’ll get you a real one. You can put it in your lightsaber,” Ferris took another swig of ale. “Actually, I’ll get you one of those too.”

Olivia rolled the crystal between her fingers and smiled.

Ferris’ eyes widened. “Speaking of lightsabers! Have I got a story for you!...”

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Soak it in, old man. Soak it all in.

Garrick walked back into the pod hanger, out of the buzzing crowd on pit lane. All the time he had been on the run, one of the things he missed experiencing was the pre-race pageantry. Reporters from all over the galaxy would take their places along pit lane, yelling for you to stop and answer a few questions. Camera crews and photographers documented every minute detail. Fans with hot passes could explore almost every area of the pits, waving their hands and scraps of parchment, screaming for an autograph from their favorite pilot.

Now he would humbly admit that early on in his career, he had taken on the mantel of something of a villain. And this sort of fan fare was very hard to come by. The only autographs he ever signed were for hardcore pod racing fans, who rooted for villains to win and the heroes to lose. But in the time that he had been gone, there was a shift in the landscape of the racing circuits around the galaxy, and fans were genuinely excited that he had returned. Some cried his name and a simple wave of his hand and a smile made the cries grow louder. He constantly stopped to sign autographs, answer questions from reporters and take personal photos with fans on their datapads. If he had known how good it felt to have been a hero, he would have done it a long time ago...

Garrick had just gotten back from his third walk down pit lane and headed toward his pit stall. The hanger was mostly empty, a majority of the pods had been taken out to the starting grid, where they would receive last minute adjustments from crews. The few teams still in the hangar were having meetings, talking strategy and the like. The Tioga V had yet to be moved to the grid. Garrick shook his head. Olivia must have been out in the crowd somewhere screwing around. He would have to get the pit droids to move the pod out soon. Ugh. It was only a couple hours before the start.

Garrick strode his way into stall #14 and right away knew something was amiss. His first instinct told him to check the Tioga but movement out of the corner of his eye snapped his head around to Olivia’s toolbox. Standing with his back to Garrick was Kazmir Rizik, the Verpine racer. He was holding Garrick’s new helmet in his three fingered claws.

“Long time no see, Farrell,” Rizik said in his hissy Basic.

Garrick let out a deep breath, “How have you been, Kaz?”

“No one’s managed to kill me yet,” he answered with a little laugh. Rizik set the helmet down and turned to face Garrick. His antennae twitched. “Looks like the same can be said for you,”

“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” Garrick said.

“Isn’t that the truth?”

“It’s going to be some race today huh?”

“Seems that way. We’re both favored,”

“That’s the way we like it though right? All the eyes on us,” Garrick leaned against his pod.

“Yes, but for how much longer I wonder,” The two big black spheres Rizik had for eyes hit the floor. A moment of awkward silence fell between them. It was true they were rivals, and more than once they had tried to kill each other on the track. But this time it felt...different. Garrick didn’t know if it was him, Rizik or both of them. There were no scathing taunts. No threats. Nothing like almost every other conversation they’ve had before. Instead, it felt like something needed to be said and, at the same time, nothing at all. A silent understanding some racers had with each other when both were at fault. Sometimes, Garrick thought, it was just time to grow up.

“It’ll be fun,” Garrick said, “We always ran well here. It’ll be fun,” he repeated, almost reassuring himself that it would be.

“I hope you’re right. And that the powers that be will stay out of the way,”

Garrick scowled, “What’s that supposed to mean?” Rizik let out a deep breath and looked down. “So this wasn’t some friendly social call?”

“They’re saying this race will be rigged,”

“Rigged? By who...whom?” Garrick had no idea why he had corrected himself. Or if that was even a proper correction.

“The Empire,” Rizik said, his mandibles twitching.

Garrick scoffed, “Get serious, will ya?”

“That’s the rumor,”

“You can’t believe everything you hear,”

“Sometimes you don’t have to hear it. You see it. The body language of the other drivers, the race officials,”

“But the Empire? What do they care about the outcome of a pod race?”

“I don’t know, but it’s something,” Rizik walked slowly toward the pod and placed a claw on one of the engines. “Think about it. How much interest have they shown in this race before? Hardly any. And now they’re doing flyovers? Stormtroopers lurking around every corner? They’re up to something and it’s bugging me. No pun intended,”

“But where’s the proof?”

“Sometimes you don’t need proof when you have instinct. All I’m saying is you don’t know what could happen out there. Watch your back,”

Garrick thought for a moment. “Alright. You do the same,”

Rizik held out his claw. Garrick shook it. Man, this was weird.

“Come on, let’s go take some pictures.”

Back outside the pod hangar, the frenzy of activity was reaching its peak. Since the start of the race was fast approaching, reporters and photographers were getting whatever last minute news they could. Some of the fans had already retreated to their seats in the grandstand. But the sight of Garrick and Rizik walking together set off the remaining spectators. A flurry of reporters surrounded them. Questions were flying in every direction.

“How does it feel to be back on Tatooine?”

“I thought you two were rivals. What gives?”

“Any truth to the rumors this is your final race, Kaz?!”

Answers were tumbling from Garrick’s mouth; to which questions, he didn’t know. His mind was suddenly elsewhere. His focus had to shift to the race or else he wouldn’t be in the right state of mind. It would cost him on the track as well and maybe even cost him his life. He didn’t mind taking pictures and answering questions. But right now, he was in the cockpit of the Tioga. At least, until...he saw her.

Across the pit lane, next to the lanes of spectators who were heading out to the grandstand, was a woman. A beautiful woman with fiery red hair. And she was staring right at Garrick. The questions, the noise from the crowd faded away. It was just her. Garrick looked behind him, just to make sure her sight wasn’t fixated on someone else. From what he could tell, she wasn’t. His eyes turned back to her. As soon as they did, he thought a smile was cracking the corner of her mouth. He didn’t get to see it though, as a pale Twi’lek moved directly in front of Garrick, blocking his view. The Twi’lek had a goofy grin on his face, his teeth almost as yellow as his eyes. He was staring at Garrick, not blinking his eyes. Garrick craned his neck to see the redhead again, but he couldn’t see more than the top of her hair.

“Sahak korjin,” the Twi’lek muttered.

“What?”

“Sahak korjin,” he repeated.

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand,”

He felt a tap on his shoulder. “He’s saying ‘avoid them’,” Kaz said

“Avoid who?” Garrick asked him. He turned to repeat the question to the Twi’lek but he was gone. As was the redhead. Garrick frowned. That Twi’lek must have been crazy.

“Move it! Out of the way!” a staticy voice said somewhere in the crowd. Some of the reporters gave way and a pair of Stormtroopers emerged, blaster rifles in hand. “Garrick Farrell?”

“...Yes?”

“You’re coming with us,”

Kaz gave him a look. Oh crap.
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