What she could remember was always summed up in flashes of memory, nightmares which woke her in the night. Death, destruction, a man in black, a dark chasm of the energy which surrounded her. She remembered slipping through it. She remembered feeling as if she would drown in the space between worlds, that the Force would suffocate her, and crush her into dust. She remembered the strange creatures who found her, how at first glance they terrified her. There was a young man chasing her in her nightmares but she couldn't recall what he looked like. She remembered the dark armor, the strange mask unlike those of the white soldiers. She pushed away from him and landed somewhere strange. Women with gray skin and white hair found her wandering, crying out for her mother an father. Surely she had parents. Loving parents. Parents who were likely out in the universe looking for her.
Years passed by, though. The Echani – she later learned – were those who raised her. Though none of them took on the role as sole guardian. That they say stayed with her true parentage, whomever and wherever they may be.
She was a young woman now, tall and thin with black hair, unmistakably human compared to the Echani. For years now she kept to herself on the outskirts of the mainland. With the the terrain around her, dark tress and rocks and dirt, she often cloaked herself in black, her skin painted a pale gray clay to match the Echani of Eshan.
Looking out from behind a large tree, a sleek vibroblade in her left hand, a shorter blade in her right, she stalks a small animal. It's ears prick forward as if something else approached it. Though she had been very still and held her breath. Before it can leap into the air she catches sight of a single ryyk blade slicing through it and pinning it against a nearby tree trunk. She jumps back, her sleep vibroblade clanging onto the forest floor, snapping back the attention of a dark soldier, a man in unconventional uniform. The Force around her vibrates and hums around her as if it meant to warn her.
The dark man yanks away his ryyk blade and cocks his head to the side, staring at her straight on. Then he advances.
Standing abruptly, his new target turns and leaps up into one of the thousand year old trees which surround them. She uses her remaining blade to climb higher and then continue to run between the trees, into the tops, and along the large branches that connect within the canopy. To her dismay, he follows easily. He is flexible and agile, though not quite as quick. He now had both blades out, using them to cut away pieces of the trees which got in his way. Until eventually he cuts too low and falls onto the forest floor with a thud.
Hana stops while she is ahead, peaking down to see whether or not the dark man survived the long fall. Upon noticing he did so, she seats herself on a branch and lets herself drop gracefully, landing just so her right foot pushed the man back into the ground. She pulls free one of her collapsible spears and ejects it, pointing the sharp end of it directly at the assailant's throat.
“Who are you?” she demands.
He drops his blades and holds up his hands with a sigh of exasperation. “Been looking for you, actually.” he says. “But I suppose you came the long way around.”
She blinks at him. The armor was different, not quite what she remembered. It was scratched, dirty, and his helmet was cracked. He was the man from her nightmares, the one chasing her relentlessly in the chasm.
“I asked your name, not your purpose.”
“Shay Vox.” he says with a nervous gulp. “Do you remember your name? From before.”
“Of course I do.” she scoffs.
In a split second of weakness, Shay is able to sweep Hana off her feet. He knocks the spear away and snaps it in two before grabbing her and tossing her against a tree trunk. He uses a hand to wipe away the gray clay from her face and hair. “So you remember me, then? Don't you, Hana?”
She grits her teeth and kicks up her knee. She strikes him in the groin, sending him backward. Then she punches him in the jaw. This disorients him briefly. Another swift kick across the other side of his face sends him to the ground, knocked unconscious.
“Bastard.” she hisses at him.
She knew exactly who he was.
Hana tied a sturdy rope around the dark man's ankles and dragged him through the forest as he was still unconscious. Within the woods she had a small hut built into what was once a very large and very old tree. Now it was a mere husk of it's former glory, hollowed out and used as if she were an animal building a very large nest.
She dragged Shay to the middle of the small home – if it could even be called that – and thoroughly restrained him before properly propping him up against a wall. While she waited for him to wake up she continued to pace the tiny living space. She would sit, but only for a short while. She was both terrified and nervous, mostly because she knew this man, partly because he had haunted her dreams for the worst part of eighteen years. Moreover, he was a man. She never invited men into her home. Though she supposed she didn't really invite Shay in. Rather she dragged him in and restrained him to be questioned.
Stopping for a moment she bends down to his level, eyeing him curiously. Then she reached out and touched his mask. It was warm from his breath and rough around the edges. If she had to guess she would say he had been wearing it on and off for several days. She reaches around, feeling close to his jaw for the release, and pressed it gently as if not to wake him. It makes a sound as if releasing pressure from a cage and she lifts the mask off carefully.
For a short while she is confused, awestruck, by just how curiously similar he looks to the Echani. Though something in the pit of her stomach tells her he is quite different. He's too tall to be Echani and his hair too black, like hers. But his skin was pale gray with two white scars sitting perfectly parallel along his right cheekbone.
Without thinking she reaches a hand up to touch the scars, to see if they were possibly tattoos, and jumps back when his eyes open and reveal a deep lavender iris. He smiles at her reaction, tugs lightly on his restraints, and leans back with a thud as his head hits the wall behind him.
He laughs and looks around. “How long have you been here?”
She hardly expected him to sound so concerned. “Eighteen years. And by the looks of it you've only been here for a few days. Give or take.”
“Give.” he says. “Two weeks.”
Hana reaches over and grabs the blaster pistol she retrieved from his belt. “I know why you're looking for me. What I don't understand is why you didn't just kill me on site.”
He chuckles. “If I wanted to kill you, you'd be dead.”
She touches the barrel of the gun to his temple. “You're a bounty hunter. I should kill you.”
“I need more answers.”
He looks at her up an down, taking in her height, her dark locks which were tied back half up and half down, trying to detect whether or not he could get out of his restraints and to his weapons before she knocked him out again. The odds were highly unlikely.
“You were just a baby, not even a toddler, just two weeks ago. You must have opened more than a single doorway in the chasm.” he says to her. When she doesn't answer, he tilts his head up to try and meet her far away gaze. “Do you remember that?”
She doesn't answer him with words. Her expression gave it all away. Then, she breathes. “No one asked you to follow me into the chasm.”
“I was doing my job.” he tells her.
She scoffs at him. “Your job is no longer required.”
“You could be a bit less pessimistic.”
“Try living on your own for eighteen years on an alien planet.”
He shrugs. “Well, if you can do it, I suppose doing it myself shouldn't be too difficult.”
She grinds her teeth and thinks about hitting him with the butt of his gun, then staves off the urge. Then suddenly she feels his hands on her arm, twisting it to make her drops his gun. She cries out though the pain is short lived. Shay shoots at the strategic knots tied around his ankles and frees himself, using the Force to pluck up his ryyk blades which sat near her cot. He pulls one from it's sheath when he feels her swing a sleek vibroblade in his direction. He ducks just in time but fails to outsmart her as she uses her free hand now balled up into a fist to deck him square in the jaw. Out of sheer surprise he drops his blade and touches his face.
“You've got one hell of a right hook.”
She gives him a fake half-smile, her vibroblade now perpendicular to his throat. “I've been training with the Echani for eighteen years.”
“They say to know one truly, you must fight them.”
“You're smug and unwise, and your fighting style is barbaric.” she says, probing his mind with the Force, and trying very hard to find something that might make him give up. But all she saw was junk, sewers, soldiers, street rats . . . . “I've heard of Corellia before. Not a nice place, I see. I'll take it off my list of vacation hot spots.”
Shay's being floods with rage, but he keeps it buried. “Don't play games with me, Hana.”
Drops of blood drip along her sword and snap her out of her fugue state. She drops the blade, stepping back several feet. She had never rummaged through someone's mind like that. Not once. Not even when it was easy. Shay's mind was difficult and shrouded, doors locked on every front. But she somehow managed to break open one of those doors and take whatever she could to hold over his head.
All she saw was darkness and all she felt was sorrow.
“I'm sorry.” she says ashamedly.
His mind was like the chasm.
“I have to go.”
He looks at her warily, watching her as she grabs a cloak off the back of her door and proceed to duck out of the tree hut. Part of him thinks to follow her. But the better part of him keeps his feet planted.
She needed to be alone.
It was as if she could feel what he felt. The pain was rooted deep within his mind. She knew such despair from her early days on Eshan and every time she dreamt of the creature clawing at her in the world between worlds. The difference was that this creature was a man. Not some mindless, brainwashed storm trooper following orders. That was why she felt guilty about invading his mind. It was a cheap move, even for her.
Assuming he must have fled by now, she turns back toward the hut. Once she is in range she smells something cooking. And she can see the smoke coming from the chimney above her tiny kitchen. She approaches warily and enters the small home to find Shay is still there, as well as the woman who helped raise her. To her surprise, it is not Tilly who stands over the fire while roasting a decently sized animal. It is Shay.
“Hana-” Tilly cuts off.
She didn't like what she was seeing. A man who she was quite unsure of and the closest thing she had for a mother caught in a rather agreeable conversation.
“You did not tell me you brought home a man. And a Vahla, at that.” Tilly says and sips a drink.
“I did not bring him home. Not that way.”
Tilly points to Shay. “He says you defeated him twice in battle.”
Hana leans back on her heels. “He was trying to kill me.”
Shay points a fire poker at her. “I was not.”
“We can't get back. I told you that. Why do you think I'm still here?”
“Because you created a family and you can't just leave that behind.” he says, changing the atmosphere of the room in an instant.
Tilly stands up. “I think I ought to leave the two of you alone.”
“I brought you more than enough food to last you the coming cold front. I'll see you in a few days, Hana.” Tilly promises and kisses her gently on the forehead.
Hana does her best to stop Tilly, but she already takes her cloak and spear and rushes off into the coming night, her silver hair bouncing behind her and fading into the trees. Hana stood there not knowing what to do, wondering whether or not it was worth the trouble to restrain Shay again. What would be the point? He needed her alive to get them back home and she knew that. He was no more a threat than a bantha calf. Still, his presence made her nervous.
She turns to look at Shay. “You cook.”
“You learn such things when you've fended for yourself your entire life.” he says.
That stung her slightly.
“You're Vahla.” she says, stating another fact.
“What gave it away?” he asks jokingly.
The joke makes her smile only slightly, barely enough to notice. “You're too tall to be Echani and your eyes are lavender.”
He nods. “You want answers, correct?” he asks her as he continues to evenly cook the meat. “You remember bits and pieces from before, but very little. I know far more than you do because I am old enough to remember such things. Like who your parents are.”
The temptation was there. But she wondered if he would be telling the truth.
“Am I to assume you want something in return for this knowledge?”
He sighs with defeat. “My people are sensitive to the Force, like you. I am quite adept. I believe that if we work together, we can make it back to our own time.”
“And you take me to the man who caused all of this to begin with!”
He points the fire poker in her direction, though it was non-threatening. “I am on neither side of your rebellion's silly war with the First Order. I merely require payment. I don't care where it comes from, princess.”
Hana blinks at him. “Payment?”
“Surely mommy and daddy are offering a reward for your safe return.”
She paces back and forth for a moment, contemplating the suggestion. “How am I supposed to trust your word?”
“If I were you I wouldn't trust anyone.”
“And what knowledge can you offer me to change that for the better?”
He pauses for a long moment. There had to be something sure, something she knew already so that she could trust anything he decides to tell her about her past. “When we took you you were holding onto something, a crystal. If I had to guess it was made of kyber and it was an iridescent blue.”
Hana lifts her hand to her chest, touching her necklace which was hidden beneath her cloak and tunic. She bites the inside of her cheek and pulls free the blue kyber which hung around a thick string.
His eyes widen briefly and soften. “Thought you would have assembled a light saber from it by now.”
She tucks away the kyber. “I prefer a blade.”