In this “Star Wars” fanfiction, Jedi NILE CHINELO heads to a meeting with a foodstuff supplier for the Rebel Alliance.
Meanwhile, her smuggler companions, CORANA BIABRU and PIANI NURUODO pass the time in a starport bar.
Nile Chinelo pulled her cloak tighter around her. It was little comfort against the rain that seemed to always pound the city of Peroon here on the planet Teth. She’d endure the short discomfort.
In other parts of the galaxy, people didn’t even have cloaks, much less food, and other supplies, thanks to Palpatine and his Galactic Empire.
The need to help those who lacked basic comforts had brought Nile to Teth. She focused on completing that mission as she pressed through the Peroon crowds.
Peroon was an Imperial-created city, built solely as a shipyard and farming community. All life for the city’s civilian population was chained to these industries.
There was a shift change at the nearby shipyard, adding to the usual minimal amount of people on the streets.
When the shipyard and farms were running, that’s where the bulk of Peroon’s people were.
Looking at the faces of passersby, Nile found no expressions of happiness, only those of people bludgeoned by a life of servitude to the Empire with little hope of anything else.
A third hospitality industry had risen from the need to supply those who worked in the other two industries. This industry was highly corrupted by the criminal underworld, most notably the Hutt crime families.
Word had it that Peroon may be an Imperial-occupied city, but that the Hutts ran things.
The farming interested Nile, specifically a certain merchant with the potential to accidentally on purpose drop some of his foodstuffs off his manifest. These unaccounted foodstuffs would then find their way into Alliance-controlled areas of need.
This would all happen for a price, of course.
Alliance spies on Peroon had established communications with the merchant through blind drops and back channels.
Nile’s mission was to establish the closest thing to direct contact with the merchant by meeting the merchant’s contact at a swoop sales and repair shop.
Turning down a two-lane street off the city’s main street, Nile picked up her pace. The swoop shop was a few blocks from her present location.
The street was not just a good shortcut but also empty enough that she’d easily see if she were being followed.
Continuing down the street, Nile checked behind her. Nothing unusual.
To be sure she was safe, she reached out with the Force, seeking to feel the emotions of those around her, checking to see if there was anyone who found her suspicious or dangerous.
It was a skill she’d developed under the tutelage of the Jedi Masters prior to the Clone Wars some eighteen standard years ago. She’d risen in their ranks to become a knight herself.
All that had come to an end with the Emperor’s Order 66 and the Jedi Purge.
She’d only remained alive by retreating to the Outer Rim, hiding on planets of ill repute like Teth. Nile did what good she could, keeping her more outlandish Force abilities in check.
Luckily, the Rebel Alliance found her before the Emperor’s Inquisitors.
Nearing the end of the side street, Nile saw the holosign projecting the cross street’s name. It wavered in the rain, but she could still make it out. She’d memorized the city map and knew the swoop shop was a block down that street.
Nile moved to the curb and mixed into a group of pedestrians waiting to cross as traffic passed. It was easy for her; her shorter stature hid her among the taller-than-average workers.
Everyone wore some form of cloak or rain protection, though Nile’s were the now long-forgotten brown and tan robes of a Jedi.
A moment later, a traffic light changed color, bringing traffic to a momentary halt. As traffic resumed in the opposite direction, Nile’s group crossed, Nile hidden among them.
And then Nile felt a wave of anger ripple through the Force.
Corana Biabru threw back the last gulp of her third Hundarian Ale and slammed the metallic mug down on the table. She caught the chastising stare from her partner, Piani Nuruodo. Corana shrugged.
“Sorry,” she said. “Did you want some?”
Piani’s Twi’lek tentacles twitched in irritation. “I didn’t,” Piani replied. “It’s just boring seeing you waste your time drinking in every starport.”
Corana waved her blue-skinned Pantoran hand at a nearby serving droid that had Hundarian Ale logos affixed to its sides. The little red and yellow astromech made its way through the crowded establishment.
When customers more concerned with drink or conversation failed to notice the astromech coming through, it used a small electric probe to clear a path.
It was a blessing the thing didn’t start any fights. Luckily, this was a more civilized starport bar, despite the low-rent clientele.
Like Corana and Piani, pretty much everyone in the place was a smuggler, either resting from a score, looking for a score, or bragging about a score.
If the Empire wanted to shut down a third of the smuggling in the Outer Rim territories, they could start by arresting everyone in the place.
The astromech reached Piani and Corana’s table near the middle back area of the bar. Corana ordered another mug of ale. The small LED screen on the astromech’s front lit up with a price.
Corana dug into the pockets of her leather pants. Coming up empty, she felt around in her matching leather halter top. Still nothing.
She heard something light hit the table in front of her.
Looking at the object, Corana saw it was a credstick. She looked at Piani, who was still bored.
“You ran yours out on the last round,” Piani said, “and the droid kept the empty stick.”
Corana picked up the credstick, smiled a thank you, and slotted the stick in the astromech. The price on the LED screen dropped to zero. Corana took the stick back and then placed her mug in front of the astromech.
A slot opened on the droid. A tap pressed out, pouring ale into her mug. When the mug was full, the tap shut off and retracted into the droid.
Finished with the transaction, the droid rolled away, its electric prod at the ready.
“Does that even taste good?” Piani asked.
Corana offered the mug to her Twi’lek friend. Piani shrugged up her nose, her tentacles equally as repelled. Corana shrugged and took a long draw from the mug.
“It’s not about taste,” Corana eventually said while wiping at her lips, the same color as her blood-red hair. “It’s all about how it makes you feel.”
“I hope you can still fly after four of those,” Piani said. “There’s a good chance we’ll have to leave in a hurry.”
“This is just a diplomatic mission. Wonder why we’re even on it. We do action stuff.”
“Drilon thought we needed a break,” Piani said. She leaned back in her chair, absently toying with the end of one of her light blue tentacles. “She probably meant we were causing too much noise for our employers.”
Corana thought on this, shrugged, and went back to drinking.
Piani looked at the chronometer on her wrist.
“Nile’s a big girl with bigger powers,” Corana said, noting her partner’s anxiety.
“We should have followed her anyway.”
“She’d have known.” Corana finished her ale and put the mug on the table. “She didn’t want to spook the contact. But if anything goes down, I’m sure she —”
Piani had stopped listening to Corana; instead, she stared at something behind her partner. As she did, Piani’s usually pleasant expression went dark.
To be continued…
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