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Smuggler's Moon

Posted on Sun Oct 31st, 2021 @ 9:35pm by Apprentice Illiana Duran

Episode: Episode I: Rise of the Sith
Location: Nar Shaddaa, Outer Rim
Timeline: Day 3 at 2200

Nar Shaddaa. Nicknamed the "Smuggler's Moon," the notorious moon of the planet Nal Hutta, homeworld of the Hutt species, was home to a large criminal underworld dominated by bounty hunters and Hutt crime lords. An ecumenopolis, the entire surface of Nar Shaddaa was covered in urban sprawl and most importantly, it was a fantastic place for a young Mirialan to disappear. With such a hive of criminal activity, and with beings of every species imaginable, it was clear that you would be lucky to find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy in the galaxy. The planet was so dangerous in fact, that the young Mirialan in question had only gone there as a very last resort. She had spent the last year living on Jedha, and had wanted to stay there, in the protective arms of the Guardians of the Whills, but her mission had now concluded.

For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights had been the guardians of peace and justice in the Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Mandalorian conflict. Now the Jedi were scattered across the galaxy on a wide variety of missions, and Illiana Duran was on a mission of her own. A mission to apprehend a Mandalorian warlord had turned bloody and, for now, she had sought refuge.

When the smoke had settled and the fighting was over, the Jedi knew she could no longer stay on her new homeworld and risk putting the people there in danger. So, she had fled from the Mid Rim world and made her way to Nar Shaddaa, one of the few places in the Galaxy where the Mandalorians feared to tread. Not that they had a need, since it was part of Hutt Space. She had spent three weeks on the planet, finding work and doing just enough to survive, along with her ever reliable Droid companion.

On this particular evening, the young, green-skinned woman had come in search of supplies from one of the vendors she had regularly visited over the last few weeks, but something was different tonight. The man behind the street carts had seemed unusually preoccupied with something, almost rushing her through her purchases. It was almost as if…

...as if…

…as if she was being watched.

At least, that was what her Jedi senses revealed to her as she tossed the fabric bag of supplies onto the back of her speeder bike and laid her hands on the vehicle's frame. Somewhat covertly, she managed to press a button on her right wrist and whispered some words before letting out a deep sigh. She stood upright and slowly, carefully turned to where the Vendor had been stood, only this time he had been replaced by what could only be described as a Bounty Hunter. Armour, blasters, a helmet. The creature certainly didn’t blend in with the general populace.

“Look friend,” the youngster smiled as she held out her arms to show that she wasn’t reaching for a weapon of any kind, “I’m only here for some supplies and then I’ll be on my way. I’m not looking for any trouble,” she smiled, trying to prevent what was seemingly inevitable at this point.

“Oh, taking you in will be no trouble, Illiana Duran...” the Bounty Hunter grinned as he nodded in the direction of three other figures who had emerged from the shadows and had their own weapons trained on their young foe.

The Mirialan twitched at the sound of her name, it becoming clear that they clearly had her targeted. But then, she had already been alerted to their presence of course, by being a master of Sokan, which enabled her to be fully in tune with her surroundings. It also allowed her to be a bit bolder in her assertions, but she didn’t want to do anything that would put others at risk. “I don’t know what I have done to warrant the attention of you fine gentlemen on this glorious evening,” she spoke with as soft a voice as she could muster, “but there are a lot of people out here that could get hurt if this goes the way I think you want it to. So, why don’t we all just go our separate ways and pretend that we never even met,” the tattooed youngster gave a hopeful grin as she tried to appeal to the Bounty Hunter, but even as optimistic as she tried to be, she knew deep down that she was simply delaying the inevitable.

“I can't do that I’m afraid,” the Bounty Hunter spoke in his deep, gruff voice, as he lifted his blaster a little higher. “The Sith Empire pays handsomely for your kind these days,” he smiled.

“What, a Mirialan? Is it the tattoos?” she asked, knowing full well to what he was referring, and it wasn’t her species. At the same time, she couldn’t help but feel a pang at the fact that rumours she had heard were seemingly confirmed; the Sith Empire had returned.

“No. Now, surrender your weapons and come quietly...” he paused as he lowered his head slightly and glared across at her, the smile and the humour gone as he spoke the final word with utter contempt, “...Jedi.”

She let her head drop as she sighed, her arms still held out wide. “I was afraid you were going to say that…” she spoke as she lifted her head. In a split second, and before any of her would-be captors had time to react, the Jedi had sprung into action. With the slightest of movement in her fingers, a metallic object flew out from inside the left side of her unzipped jacket and was in the grasp of her right hand. A single press of the ignition switch on the hilt activated the thirty-two inch, cyan coloured blade of her Jedi weapon, the hum of the device a welcome, and trusted, sound to her ears. She held the blade back in a one-handed grip, angled forwards with the blade arm held parallel, her other hand held up in a challenge to her attackers. Her dominant foot was placed back, flat, and firmly poised on the ground while the other was extended forwards and to the side in a brace position. Soresu at its finest.

The battle was over in a flash, a quick hail of blaster fire deflected by the Jedi until all but the original Bounty Hunter had been, regretfully, significantly wounded. Remarkably by their standards, but less so by hers, the Jedi had managed not to kill a single one of her attackers, instead deflecting each of the blaster bolts in a specific way so as to avoid that particular outcome. Before she felt safe enough to deactivate the lightsaber in her hand, she had to deal with the weapon of the lead Bounty Hunter. A flick of her left wrist saw her utilise the power of the force to pull the weapon from the creature’s hand and as it flew through the air towards her, two well timed swipes of her blade saw the weapon fall to the ground. The hum of her blade disappeared as the lightsaber deactivated and she used the power of the force to return it to its sheath inside her jacket.

“You’ll never get off this planet alive, Jedi…” the Bounty Hunter snarled, defeated and angry.

“We’ll see about that,” Illiana smirked as she held out her right hand towards him. At first, it wasn’t clear what she was about to do but then with a slight turn of the hand, the Bounty Hunter’s head lurched backward, and he fell to the floor, unconscious.

Suddenly, there was a startling clatter as a large metallic object came awkwardly tumbling towards her before unfurling and using its legs to pounce and land on the surface of the vendor’s cart. A cacophony of whistles and beeps were emitted which drew a slight laugh from the Mirialan. “Took you long enough… now let’s get out of here,” she jerked her head towards the Speeder and in no time at all, they were in the safety of the vehicle.

As a crowd began to assemble, no doubt drawn to the sound of gunfire, Illiana Duran activated the engine on the Speeder and the hovercraft sped off, away from the scene of the fight and into the night.

As they sped through the streets, the Jedi remained in silent contemplation. Perhaps her stay on Nar Shaddaa was going to be a lot shorter than she had hoped. The question now was, where did she go next?



'Smuggler's Moon', or Nar Shaddaa if one went by its original name, was one of the most notorious, most lawless places in the galaxy which, in theory, should have made it a haven for someone wanting to escape the eyes of the Sith Empire. But, if there was one thing the scum and villainy of such places hated more than the Empire, it was peacekeepers of the galaxy. Jedi. Which could have quite easily explained why Illiana Duran had become a target for no reason at all. She had done nothing to draw attention to herself, of that she had been most careful since her arrival, but still she seemed to have a Bounty on her head and although she had escaped the first cash-in attempt, she was certain more would try their luck. She had to get off the surface and find a new place to call home as quickly as she could. She didn't make many mistakes in her life, but when she did, they were pretty big. This one had turned out to be quite the 'doozie' as an old friend would say.

Upon escaping the scene of her confrontation with the Bounty Hunter's, the young Mirialan and her droid counterpart had travelled for over an hour on their speeder, desperately in search of a small Spaceport that would allow them to get off-world without attracting attention. Luckily, when all hope seemed lost, BD-7 had detected just the place. The Port of Xiann Vilaan was out of the way and so quiet that she was certain she could escape detection there. She'd sold their speeder for credits and now all she needed to do was wait for the right opportunity to present itself.

Approaching a nearby building, her companion clutched to her back in the unique way that only BD-Units could, the young woman was more than aware of those who were approaching, just as she had been aware of those in the market that had attacked her before. Whilst she had bested those attackers, she had no desire to engage in another bout so soon, so had quickly formulated a plan. A wave of her hand in front of the door controls granted her entry to the building, and she quickly entered, sealing the door behind her. That would buy her some time, she hoped.

With the door sealed, BD-7 jumped down from her back and, with one of his metallic arms, clutched an item from his Master's belt before bounding off with his little legs to take up a position, hidden from view. For his green-skinned friend, there was only one option. She too had to hide. Disappearing into the shadows at the back of the room, hoping the Bounty Hunters would bypass the building.

No such luck today for the young Jedi.

As the Hunters crossed the threshold of the building there was a large explosion, but not of fire and brimstone, but of smoke as the device the droid had laid went off and allowed him the opportunity to escape. Blaster bolts ricocheted around the room until eventually the smoke settled, and the Bounty Hunters stood there somewhat bewildered. The room was empty. Where had their target gone?

If only they had known the true power of the woman they had been chasing, because moments before they had struck, whilst they laid the explosives on the door, the Mirialan had managed to carve a hole in the wall with her lightsaber. Escaping out of the back of the building with her Droid companion, she had to use the force to replace the brick material just in time for her enemy to enter the building. As the smoke filled the room and the blaster fire rang out, the Jedi had used her significant agility and her mastery of the force to launch into the air and land on the roof of the two-story building. Tiptoeing to the edge of the building, she peered down in time to spot her attackers enter the building.

Removing the hilt of her saber from her jacket, she clasped it tight and took a deep breath, about to pounce to the floor. Thankfully, a few seconds later, the Bounty Hunters departed the building and headed off in search of their prey. BD-7 had done his job and diverted their attention enough to allow her escape.

Now, the Jedi began moving silently and out of view. Reaching with her left hand, she patted the back of her right shoulder, which was the cue for the sudden appearance of BD-7. The little droid pounced and latched on to the back of the woman's jacket, peering over her shoulder and into the distance before them.

Jumping from rooftop to rooftop, the Jedi maintained her cover long enough for a flurry of beeps and whistles emitted from her seemingly irate droid as he pretty much bounced up and down on her back, clearly making his feelings felt. Something had panicked him.

"What do you mean a transmission? We’re on radio silence…" the Jedi queried of her droid as they came to a standstill. Another flurry of beeps gave her his answer. "Alright, alright. Play the message," she waved a hand to silence the computerised critter and let out a sigh. He spun his mechanical head and aimed the one working eye at the ground. A small holographic projection of Grand Master Uadra, the male Zabrak who sat on the High Council, soon appeared. “This is Master Uadra to all Jedi operating in the Outer Rim,” the Zabrak spoke, “war has engulfed the Galaxy once more. You are ordered to report to the Saleucami system make contact with Master Deakon Iersa…”

War? The message from the senior most Jedi in the Order suddenly grabbed her attention, but there was more. The Zabrak revealed one final problem.

“Former friends have fallen to the dark side. The Sith Empire has risen once again…”

Once the transmission disappeared, the Jedi let out a whistle that even BD-7 would have been proud of. She had so many questions, but the answers would have to wait.

“Alright BD-7, let’s do this,” Illiana shrugged. “Let’s find a way off this rock…

 

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