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“Star Wars” Fanfiction – Episode 1.4 (of 1.6)

Jedi NILE CHINELO meets her contact, a link to vital foodstuffs for the Alliance, under the suspicious eye of the Imperial Security Bureau.

Smugglers CORANA BIABRU and PIANI NURUODO confront slaver CRAGEN at his hangar bay deal-making session with his client.

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Nile Chinelo spared a glance at the three Imperial Security Bureau men. They made their way across the swoop shop’s dealer floor and toward her and her Alliance contact but hung back as if allowing them to get outside.

From their point of view, the open space would be better should things get violent.

The ISB men were on to her contact because of an accusation from a Gran. She had no idea why the Gran had identified her contact. Nile did know she was too close to completing her mission to let the Imperials have him.

Remaining under the guise of a prospective swoop buyer and salesman, Nile let the contact lead the way toward the outside lot, careful to look nonchalant as they moved on a course to continue avoiding the ISB men.

They had just made it to the door when the Gran stepped in their path. “You’re not going anywhere, thieving scum!” he said to the contact.

“You know this man?” Nile asked the contact.

“Beat him in a game of sabacc a few days ago,” the contact said.

“You cheated me in a game of sabacc!” the Gran said.

Nile stepped between the Gran and her contact. “And why is the Empire a part of this?”

The contact answered. “The Hutts run the city. They’re bought and paid for local law enforcers wouldn’t listen to the rantings of a Gran who lost fair and square.”

Nile lowered her head, the weight of what the Gran had done falling on her. “But the Empire is always looking for Rebel sympathizers.”

“You in the robes!” called the ISB agent. “And your salesman. Remain where you are.”

Nile glanced at her contact. He was a fair-skinned man, but Nile could see his color turn even paler. This man was not an experienced spy, just a citizen trying to do right by the galaxy.

Looking to the ISB agent, Nile saw him, flanked by his men, moving through the few patrons and salesmen and toward them. They didn’t hesitate to push patrons and salesmen alike aside to clear their path.

Soon the ISB agent stood before Nile and the contact.

“Your man here,” Nile said, referring to the Gran, “is incorrect in his accusation.”

The ISB agent blinked. He grudgingly nodded his head. “We could use a bit more evidence to support your claim,” he told the Gran.

The Gran pointed at Nile. “She is the evidence! She stinks of the type of low life that would join the rebels!”

Nile pulled back her cowl’s hood, revealing the wizened lines of her brown, human skin, the gray and black in her braided hair. She’d seen a good deal in her forty-seven years.

Much of those experiences showed on her face.

“Officer,” Nile said in her most neutral tone. “I am but an old woman who lost much during the Clone Wars. Why would I stir up trouble with the Empire?”

Swayed by the Force, the ISB agent said, “That’s understandable, miss. But I think it best I detain this one” (referring to the contact) “until we can get more information.”

“But I have need of his services as a salesman,” Nile said.

“There are plenty of other ones around,” the agent replied. “Pick one.” Addressing his security men, he said, “Take him into custody,” then stepped back to allow the men to do their jobs.

It would be easier had this encounter been nonviolent. That would also help conceal the later transaction for the foodstuffs. However, Nile felt there was no talking her way out of this situation, even with the help of the Force.

She hoped her allies Corana and Piani were ready for a rapid departure, as the inevitable violence here will surely lead to its necessity.

“What!” the suited man said. His anxiety was already high; this was probably his first time dealing with scum slavers like Cragen. Now he looked a shade away from heart failure.

Cragen turned to the man. “Relax! We have what you need as long as you have the credits. Then you won’t have to see us again.” Cragen snickered. “If your boss kept up with his shit you wouldn’t have had to see us at all.”

The suit pulled at his collar as if trying to get more room to breathe.

“What is it you need?” Piani asked, addressing the suit.

He was about to answer when Cragen stepped between him and Piani. Pointing a finger at her, he said, “Stay in your lane, Twi’lek! This doesn’t concern you!”

Piani shrugged. “I’m a businesswoman.” She tilted her head, so she could see the suit. “Whatever he’s charging you, I can do it for half. And without squealing to the Empire.”

Cragen was about to shout but the suit cut in first. “Are you serious?” he asked.

“As the heart attack you look like you’re going to have,” Piani replied as she stepped around Cragen and stood next to the suit. He was a tall man, nearly two meters in height.

Piani was several centimeters shorter than him, making it easy for her to lay her tentacled head on his shoulder. She rubbed a perfectly manicured hand across his chest.

The suit got uncomfortable, but Piani could tell he liked the attention.

Looking back at the Trandoshan, she added, “And I’m a lot more agreeable on the eyes than this lot.”

Cragen drew his blaster and pointed it at Piani’s head. “Piss off, girl!”

The suit raised his arm, exposing a communicator on his wrist. He held a finger from his other hand over a button on the communicator. “I have a security detail standing by!”

Cragen and his men looked at the suit.

They burst out laughing.

“I can set alarms too, little man,” Cragen said.

Piani gently pushed the suit’s hands down. To Cragen, she said, “Tell him where you’ve stashed his goods and this doesn’t have to get messy.”

“He hasn’t paid me!”

“And he’s not going to,” Piani said. “He’s paying me, but I need to give him his due.”

Cragen aimed his blaster at the suit. “I’ll give him his due!”

The suit threw his hands in front of him and ducked behind Piani.

“Playtime’s over, boys!” came Corana’s voice from behind the group. She’d snuck to a better position, where she was barely visible from behind some leftover durasteel storage containers. Corana’s blaster carbine was aimed at Cragen’s head.

“Now I can end Cragen’s career right here,” Corana said, “or we can get that man’s cargo and go without a shot.”

Cragen held his gun on Piani. “Or I can end your partnership right now.”

To be continued…


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