In Mark Wooden’s continuing “Star Wars” fanfiction, Jedi Nile Chinelo flees an Imperial Inquisitor to get vital data to the Rebellion.
Meanwhile, as their rival Cragen escapes, hangar security droids detain smugglers Corana and Piani.
Want to read from the beginning? Go to Episode 1.1 here! Go to Episode 2.1 here!
Nile Chinelo took a moment to assess her surroundings.
She was on the flat roof of a two-story building. Across the side street she’d left the inquisitor in was another two-story building. A main street was on the other side of that.
Gathering the Force to her aid, Nile ran to the edge of her building and leaped to the other. She landed gracefully on the other side and moved to the opposite side and looked down.
She could see two Imperial Security Bureau speeders attempting to weave through the traffic.
Between the rain and the high number of workers making their way home or to work due to the shift change, it was difficult for the ISB speeders to reach the side street Nile had leaped across.
Good thing they didn’t know Nile was no longer there.
A final use of the Force dropped Nile back down to street level. Throwing her hood back over her braids, she approached a driver on his uncovered swoop waiting at the traffic signal. He looked at her through his goggles as if she were insane for being out in the rain.
She understood his confusion. Most people had hovering umbrellas above them or hurriedly moved through pedestrian traffic to avoid the rain. Here she was walking to him.
“You wouldn’t want me to drown out here, would you?” Nile shouted to the driver over the din of rain and traffic.
“I’m not a taxi!” the driver responded.
“I just need to borrow your swoop,” Nile said, the Force at the edge of her words.
But when the Force called to her, it came as a dark wave.
Nile immediately pulled back her attachment to the Force. An unseen cold drove a shiver through her body.
The swoop driver shook his head. Traffic started moving. He rode away with it.
The cold Nile felt from the Force hadn’t been the inquisitor she’d encountered. It was the Dark Side calling to her, begging her to give in to it, to avenge the contact by striking down the inquisitor.
Nile refused, but the call could just as easily draw the inquisitor to her position.
The Jedi looked back toward the side street.
She saw the inquisitor on her swoop emerging from the street and onto the main road, her blood red lightsaber at the ready. Nile could feel waves of hate flowing from the red-haired girl.
Nile ducked between traffic. Horns and shouts met her every step. She dared not draw upon the Force to aid her in navigating the traffic for fear of the inquisitor using the Force to detect her.
Nile made it to the far side of the street but was no closer to gaining a vehicle. She checked back to the area where she’d seen the ISB. They’d deployed in the side street.
In minutes they’d spread out to search the larger area.
As for the inquisitor, Nile saw her further up the street. She’d passed the ISB and moved in the opposite direction in which Nile headed.
Merging with the pedestrian crowd and using it for cover, Nile continued on her way to meet Corana and Piani at the Bevryder, praying she didn’t bring her mishap to their door.
For a split second, Corana thought to leap onto the rising gangplank. She quickly cast this thought aside when she saw the Trandoshan slaver Cragen at the top of the gangplank with a blaster pointed at her and Piani.
“Don’t worry,” Cragen said. “I’ll deliver the girls safe and sound and get paid. Thanks for taking the Hutt off my hands!”
Pissed, Corana quickly drew her blaster and fired at Cragen. The shot bounced off the interior of the ship, but it was enough to get Cragen to back away to cover. The gangplank closed before he could fire a retaliatory shot.
“Make you feel better?” Piani asked.
“Only if I’d killed the bastard,” Corana replied.
“At least he’ll get the girls to safety,” Piani said.
Corana gave a begrudging nod. “Better we didn’t get them caught up in Alliance business,” she said while holstering her weapon.
Piani looked to Corana and noted the accusatory stare. “Don’t,” the Twi’lek warned.
“Don’t what?” her Pantoran partner asked.
Piani pointed at Corana. “That stare. How was I supposed to know Cragen was carrying slaves?”
Corana laughed. “I don’t know? Maybe because he’s a slaver?”
Piani frowned and looked toward the hangar exit. The Rodian had indeed left a single man at the hangar entrance. He didn’t appear the least bit concerned that Cragen’s ship had closed up. He was still ogling Piani.
Corana put a gloved hand on Piani’s shoulder.
“I’m open to suggestions,” Corana said.
“Like you said,” Piani began. “We’d best get back to the Bevryder.”
Piani’s flat tone carried her disappointment. Corana turned the girl to face her. Piani didn’t meet her gaze. “We’ll get Cragen, Piani,” Corana insisted. “One good deed won’t erase the hell he’s put us through.”
“If the Empire or now Ungror the Hutt doesn’t get us first,” Piani said.
Corana gave her partner a hug. “You can always tell how good a hero is by their enemies.”
“We’re heroes now?” Piani asked, slowly melting to the hug’s warmth.
“We haven’t run slaves and we bring food to those who need it,” Corana said. “Like to think that puts us on the right side of history, legalities be damned.”
Corana held her friend at arms’ length. “Now get us past that merc without him calling his buddies.”
Piani took a breath and then resumed her femme fatale demeanor. She gave Corana a wink and then sauntered over to the Rodian’s mercenary. Corana followed at a distance.
From the mercenary’s damn near giggles, she realized Piani’s charm hadn’t faded from the man’s memory.
While Piani worked her magic, Corana checked behind her. Cragen had charged up the engines on the Princess’s Claw and had probably contacted hanger control to prepare for launch.
She hated watching him go but knew that, with his passengers, it was for the greater good.
Looking back to Piani, Corana saw her Twi’lek partner had the merc well under control. Her flirtations kept his mind off Cragen’s ship leaving and his hand away from his commlink.
Then Corana noticed three security droids heading to the hangar. Piani was good at what she did, but even she couldn’t persuade droids with sex appeal.
Moving to Piani’s side, Corana gently touched Piani’s arm. “Gotta go,” she suggested.
“Shucks,” the merc said in an oafish way. “We were just getting to know each other.”
Corana grabbed Piani’s arm and pulled her toward the hangar exit. Piani blew the merc a kiss as her partner led her away.
The security droids stopped in front Corana and Piani. In a painfully monotone voice, one droid said, “Halt! We have a record of blaster fire at this location!”
Leeta Greyhelm stopped her swoop in the middle of oncoming traffic. Swoops and speeders swerved to avoid her. Many collided, creating a larger traffic issue than her presence in the middle of the road.
Greyhelm paid no heed. She was an Imperial Inquisitor. As such, she answered only to Emperor Palpatine himself.
The Emperor would strike her down if he learned she’d allowed a Jedi to escape. No noise from a lowly citizen of the Empire would bother her. If it did, she would strike them down as a show of force.
It was the way of the Empire.
Greyhelm extinguished her lightsaber and returned it to a clip at her side. Scanning the area, she found no hint of the Jedi she pursued. Her scowl deepened at the revelation.
Behind her, she saw the flashing lights of the ISB agents who canvased the scene. Picking up her commlink, she dialed the ISB secure channel.
Listening, she learned the ISB had found the body of the Jedi’s contact and were in the process of identifying him.
Greyhelm started to disconnect from the ISB chatter, but something changed her mind.
The Jedi had said the man had a family.
To be continued September 18th!
Like the story so far? Be sure to also check out Mark’s original writing, the “Shadowdance” urban fantasy series!