In this “Star Wars” fanfiction, Jedi NILE CHILENO sees potential trouble ahead of her meeting with an Alliance contact. Smugglers CORANA BIABRU and PIANI NURUODO see an unwelcome familiar face in the starport bar.
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The wave of anger Nile felt in the Force was more than the usual shipbuilder frustration at their sorry lots in life under the Imperials’ yoke. Someone felt cheated and was determined to get justice or, at least, revenge.
Nile continued on her way but looked in the direction of the wave of anger. Her search of the crowded street failed to present her with anything that looked dangerous.
Turning back toward her destination, Nile saw the swoop shop ahead. Several refurbished models parked out front were for sale.
Two salesmen in different parts of the front lot stood with prospective buyers beneath hovering platforms that protected them from the rain. They were deep into their respective sales pitches.
The shop itself had plexiglass front walls, allowing prospects to see inside to newer model swoops, offices, and repair facilities in the spaces beyond.
Nile continued on but soon felt the wave of anger again. Looking again in that direction, this time she saw an alien with three eye stouts on its forehead and a goat-like beak for a mouth. She recognized the alien as Gran.
He was shouting at an Imperial Security Bureau agent.
For his part, the ISB agent listened with more patience than an Imperial would usually show an alien citizen of the Empire. The Gran looked dodgy, but his commitment to whatever he said was passionate.
As Nile continued toward the swoop shop, she kept an eye on the Gran and the agent. As the Gran got more agitated, the agent suddenly got angrier. He grabbed the Gran roughly by the arm, demanding something.
Nile was almost at the shop. She took a moment to probe deeper with the Force, focusing on the Gran. Something dark pressed against her, stopping her cold.
The Jedi couldn’t get a read on the Gran; the darkness in the Force shrouded him. Still, Nile reasoned that whatever he was involved with was no good.
With Imperial activity and the darkness in the Force, Nile’s safest course of action was to continue down the street, return to her allies at the spaceport ten minutes away and leave the planet.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option.
The Alliance’s spy network on Teth had worked diligently to get this merchant to open up to them through a variety of back channels and blind drops.
Nile was to meet with the merchant’s emissary, the first physical contact between the merchant and the Alliance. She was brought in to keep that contact as anonymous as possible, with no trace back to merchant or Alliance cell.
If Nile neglected to meet the merchant’s emissary, he could scare or feel slighted. Either would make it impossible to open him again. People in some Alliance-protected worlds were starving; if Nile could remedy that, she had to do so.
Nile pulled her cloak’s hood tighter around her face as she stepped onto the swoop lot.
Corana held up her mug as if to take a drink. She actually was using its reflective surface to look behind her. She saw a distorted image of the room, but nothing alarming.
As she lowered the mug, she asked, “You gonna tell me what’s got your tentacles in a bunch?”
“Cragen,” Piani said as if the name were a toxin.
Corana’s expression turned equally dark. She held up the mug again.
Now that she knew what she was looking for, she subtly turned the mug until she saw a Trandoshan near the entrance. He scanned the bar while he shifted from one clawed foot to the other.
Corana lowered her mug and hunched over the table. “See why I always get us in the back?”
“Prudent,” Piani said, her death stare remaining on Cragen even as customers passed between them.
Corana moved to the chair next to Piani, blocking her view. “Stop staring or he may see you.”
“I want him to see me!”
Piani started up, her hand crossing her bare midriff to grasp the hilt of her vibrorapier in its sheath at her hip. Corana grabbed Piani’s arm and pulled her back down to her chair.
Moving in close, Corana said, “We’re here on a mission, Piani! Don’t jeopardize that with —”
“He sent the Empire to destroy our home, Corana!” Piani said. “His words led to the deaths of —!”
“I was there, Piani! Those were my people too!”
“And yet we never got back, not in six years. Always on the run from the Empire! Because of Cragen!”
Corana was usually the hot-headed one, but when it came to Cragen and his slaver gang, Piani’s anger knew little bounds. She totally empathized with the younger woman’s anger.
Cragen and his band of slavers had carried Piani and other Twi’leks around since she was a child. Corana’s smugglers rescued them, and then teenaged Piani joined the smugglers at their haven on an asteroid near Bandomeer.
Four years later, Cragen returned, this time with an Imperial escort.
The Empire was there to bust the colony for illegal mining and smuggling, a dime Cragen had no doubt dropped.
The Imperials decided instead to simply destroy the colony.
There was no regard for the families with children living there; they were all smugglers and criminals as far as the Empire was concerned.
Piani and Corana barely made it out alive.
Corana sat back in her chair. From her new position, she could see Cragen through the crowd. A dog-faced Zygerrian Corana recognized as one of Cragen’s slaver lackeys approached Cragen.
The Trandoshan was pissed, but his man calmed him and motioned to the exit. The two headed out.
The blue-skinned Pantoran smuggler stood up and looked at her justifiably angry Twi’lek partner. “Nile can call us if she needs us,” Corana said. “Let’s see if we can’t screw up this slimeball’s day.”
To be continued…
Like reading this Star Wars fanfiction? Be sure to also check out Mark’s original fiction, the “Shadowdance” saga books!