The day was long and hot as the pair trudged the desert to meet up with Lilah at the Sand People encampment. They were not chosen for their company but for their skills as each of them liked to think since they were at odds with each other. So it made the trip long and dull as they walked not saying a word to each other but blatantly ignoring each other.
Juhani didn’t like the Mandalorian and didn’t trust him. At times his manner made her feelings border on pure hatred which she quickly sought to control. She had no reason to like the Mandalorian because his people ravaged her world and her people. There were few of her kind left in the galaxy and it was like a wound festering to think of it. So she set her mind to disliking the Mandalorian. There were times she had to admit that he had some good points but it was more than she was willing to put into thought.
Canderous, on the other hand, liked the Cathar. He found her to be an able warrior and he respected her courage in battle. He respected her people as a race for being the fierce warriors as they were. It was one of the reasons why they chose her world; her people were worthy opponents. Of course he never told her that. He did his work without complaint without a care that she didn’t like him, even when they were paired together for some odd reason of Lilah’s. It was why they were heading to the Sand People encampment together.
They had been trudging through the desert, occasionally picking up anything they could scavenge from the heaps. They ran into no problems with the Sand People so things must have gone well. They were passing the hunk of junk of a sand crawler when Juhani caught sight of a stream of smoke lazily drifting into the air. She pointed out, “Look, smoke.”
Canderous lifted his scope on his rifle to see. He replied, “Looks like speeder. Maybe ambushed by the Sand People.”
“Then let us go. Someone might be hurt,” Juhani replied in the cool, polite voice she adopted whenever speaking to the Mandalorian.
“Probably dead. Anyone who is fool enough to get shot at by the Sand People is not worth the attention,” Canderous shouldered his rifle.
“All life, no matter how worthless it seems, needs a chance to live. Who are we to judge what lives and dies?” Juhani’s yellow eyes rounded on Canderous, daring him to contradict her.
“You Jedi are all the same. All about peace and pacifism.” It was all Canderous said but the effect was enough.
“It is the right thing to do,” Juhani replied, her temper making her voice waver, “You would do the same for another Mandalorian.”
“If he weren’t a fool, kitten,” Canderous replied. It wasn’t going to do them any good standing there much longer. “Come on.”
They jogged to the wreckage of the speeder and looked around. It was Canderous who heard the voice crying out and followed the sound. He knew the Cathar heard it too for she was about to make a move towards the wreckage when something clicked. Canderous barely was clear of the wreckage pile as it exploded. He and Juhani were thrown by the force of the blast losing their weapons in the process. They got up and looked around trying to see through the dust.
When it cleared they found themselves surrounded by three Gamorreans laughing at them. They were squealing that they caught them. They were surrounded and weaponless. Juhani whispered, “These must be the ones that gave Lilah trouble in the cantina.”
One of the Gamorreans must have heard her and replied, “We know humee. Tried to make trouble. You pay.”
Juhani replied, “How can someone make trouble if they were asking a question?”
Canderous was more direct, “I don’t think so. You ambushed us. You pay.”
The one who seemed to be the leader laughed at them, “Gurke says you pay for humee mistake. You have no weapon. You pay.”
Canderous replied, “Anyone who doesn’t challenge me or my friend here directly is a coward. I have no time or patience for cowardice.”
Juhani perked up at Canderous’ reference to her being a friend. She wouldn’t call herself that but then there were different ways to define a relationship. She couldn’t think about that right now. She had to think of a way to get them out of this mess. She looked around as to where her lightsaber may have fallen. She saw it glint as it lay in the sand and by some queer twist of fate, Canderous’ rifle was there as well. She concentrated on her lightsaber while saying, “We will not pay you anything.” She felt the cool metal of the hilt in her palm and she held her hand behind her.
Gurke replied, “You pay or you die.”
It was Canderous who said, “Fine by me.”
It was Juhani’s cue and she made a sudden movement and ignited the blue blade of the Jedi Guardian. She deflected the bolts shot at them while she used the Force to grip the rifle. “Canderous,” she shouted and sent it flying through the air to his open hands.
Canderous reacted just as quickly as Juhani by giving a hard kick to the nearest Gamorrean. He moved to let the Cathar to deflect the blaster bolts from the two still standing and prepared to go in bare handed. He was stopped when the Cathar called his name and his rifle came into his hands. He stood at her back taking a shot as she deflected enemy fire.
It ended as quickly as it began with three Gamorrean corpses littering the hot sand. Juhani took a breath and deactivated her saber. Canderous, being Canderous, looted the bodies for anything useful. Juhani said nothing about it. There was no point and it wasn’t like the Gamorreans were going to use it anyway. It was Canderous who said, “Some fight.”
For once Juhani was in agreement, “Yes it was.”
“I think you showed them that cowardice doesn’t pay.”
“As you said, you have no time or patience for it.” Juhani just looked at Canderous in the eye.
Canderous didn’t reply. He didn’t have to. It was enough when the Cathar said that but he felt he owed something to her, “Your people were worthy adversaries. Warriors.”
For Juhani, she saw that the Mandalorian was trying to pay her a compliment. She saw that he was showing a sign of respect. It wasn’t an insult at all. Before this they had been trapped with shadows from a past that was not easily forgotten. It took an ambush to make them see that they could work together even if they always didn’t agree. She nodded a respectful nod and he returned it.
When they started this journey, it was as if the animosity ran thick like blood. The fall into the sand trap was a catalyst that sent them on the journey to get themselves out. They were trapped but they helped each other out and both felt this in their own way as they went to continue on with the mission.