In this “Star Wars” fanfiction, Jedi NILE CHILENO meets her contact but also lands into trouble with the Imperial Security Bureau.
Meanwhile, smugglers CORANA BIABRU and PIANI NURUODO confront their rival, the slaver CRAGEN.
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Entering the swoop shop, Nile scanned the area with the Force. Thoughts about her deal drifted to her. So did the darkness she felt earlier. She turned in the direction of the more pleasant emotions —
A man dressed as a shop salesman walked into Nile’s path.
“Hello, and welcome!” the overly enthusiastic salesman began. “How can we help you today?”
“Just browsing, thanks,” Nile said in her somber tone. She moved to pass the salesman, but he casually continued to block her path.
“We have a great selection of refurbished swoops,” he continued. “Or are you looking for particular parts? A racer, perhaps? You look like you could —”
Nile reached out with the Force, using it to help her influence the salesman. “There are several customers outside who could use your assistance,” she suggested.
The salesman thought for a moment. He slowly nodded his head. “Yes, you’re probably right.”
Nile watched the salesman walk toward the exit. He stopped to activate a protective hovering platform by the door. As he got it working, Nile saw the Gran from her Force sensing enter the shop.
The Imperial Security Bureau agent was with him. Two ISB security men in light armor accompanied him, their hands on their (as of now) holstered blaster pistols.
The Gran scanned the room, then thrust one of his fingers to point at a man sitting at one of the shop’s sales desks. He was dressed as a salesman but individualized his uniform with a red ribbon on his lapel.
Nile recognized it as the mark that would identify the merchant’s contact.
While the Gran remained at the door, the three ISB men approached the contact.
The Jedi quickly used the Force to press against the ISB agent, holding him in place. His security men continued but stopped halfway to the contact when they realized their superior wasn’t with them. They looked curiously at him as he struggled to move but could not.
Nile took advantage of their confusion and approached the contact herself.
“I wish to purchase a swoop, but the Empire has seized my assets,” Nile told the contact.
He looked at her, taking in her drenched robes, her earnest expression. She could see a level of heightened excitement causing a glow in his eyes. “What bank holds your assets?” he asked, his voice wavering slightly.
“The Bank of Alderaan,” she replied. It was the established call and response for Alliance contact; both she and the contact had passed the test. Nile continued by saying, “Unfortunately, we don’t have time for lengthy discussion.”
Nile turned slightly so that the contact could see the ISB agents behind her. The security men had returned to their superior. Nile had released him from her Force binding. He shook his head, unsure of what had happened to him.
When he looked up, Nile could see the ISB agent was angrier than before.
Turning back to the contact, Nile said, “I suggest you show me a refurbished model outside.”
The contact’s excitement waned under a wave of anxiety. “How’d they get here so fast?”
Nile moved closer to the man. “They don’t know anything yet,” she said. “Remain calm. Let the Force guide you.”
The man paused, took a breath. His anxiety leveled off, thanks in part to Nile’s sharing of the Force. The contact nodded his head. “Yes, I’m ready.”
“Then let’s get out of here,” Nile said. “But act casual. A salesman leading a potential buyer to a sale.”
Rising from his chair, the contact nodded in agreement. “We have several, from the Mobquet Zephyr-G to the Flare-S.” He started walking, being careful to take a path around the ISB men.
Unfortunately, they had already spotted him, and now Nile.
They started on an intercept path.
Corana and Piani followed Cragen and his Zygerrian to one of the enclosed hangar bays at the Peroon starport. This particular bay held births for five ships. Three of them were occupied.
The alien smugglers recognized one of the occupying ships as Cragen’s YV-560 light freighter, the Princess’s Claw.
Cragen and his man headed toward their ship. Two more of Cragen’s slavers, both of them humans, waited at the lowered gangplank.
There was another man in a suit waiting with the slavers. Youthful and well groomed, he looked like a high-credit corporate errand boy. He fidgeted as if he was uncomfortable with his present company.
Corana and Piani snuck behind a refueling station near the front of the hangar bay and watched the scene unfold. They were too far away to hear anything, but actions spoke volumes.
When Cragen joined the men at the ship, he exchanged some unintelligible words with first his men, then the suit. They continued with what Corana and Piani assumed was a business exchange.
Corana suggested they move to a closer spot to better hear the conversation. Piani smiled.
“I know that smile,” Corana began. “You’re going to do something stupid.”
“Why sneak when one can join the conversation?” Piani replied.
Stepping from behind their hiding spot, Piani brazenly approached Cragen and his men. They saw her coming. The three slavers drew blaster pistols and trained them on Piani. She immediately threw up her hands in deference to them.
“Easy, boys,” she said, turning on all her formidable Twi’lek charm. It had taken her many years after being a slave to work up the ability, a direct result of the newfound confidence Corana had helped her develop.
In the early days at the colony, Corana had been very supportive of Piani, like an older, gruffer sister. Piani hoped she wouldn’t get her Pantoran friend killed with stunts like this. Of course, Corana had done worse.
“Don’t want a squad of security droids on us,” Piani continued. “I’m just here to talk.”
“Like you did back on Ord Mantel?” Cragen growled.
Now standing a few meters from Cragen and the others, Piani replied, “Bet you won’t try to steal our cargo again, will you?”
Cragen snorted. “And where is that blue bitch friend of yours?”
“Left her back in the bar,” Piani replied. “One too many. You know how she throws them back.”
Cragen looked around the hangar. Piani followed his gaze, spotting a crew working on one of the other ships, some maintenance droids wandering the area.
The slaver captain looked directly in the spot where Corana hid, but he didn’t detect anything. His gaze returned to Piani.
“We’re a bit busy now, Twi’lek,” Cragen said. “Go back to your partner, and I’m sure we’ll have a chat later.”
“I’d rather chat with your friend in the suit,” Piani said. “Does he know you tend to rat out your scores to the Empire?”
To be continued…
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