They could make out the officer talking to the Lieutenant who had met them. During their whispered conversation, the two passed furtive glances at the three. After what seems like an age, the Lieutenant saluted the officer and marched smartly away with his small squad of snipers. The Officer turned on her heels and strode straight towards them.
“I’m afraid I am going to have to have your ship checked by Republic Customs Officers, Captain”, she snapped, clearly not afraid of anything.
“Why? We were just leaving Coruscant for the same reasons as you before being caught by your tractor beam.”, Dana countered.
“While clearly not a Sith Empire vessel, your ship is also not in our database as a Republic Freighter. Therefore it will be searched.”. The Officer clearly wasn’t in the mood for discussion.
“I thought this was a rescue mission, not a search and destroy one. I’m just trying to get my daughter to safety.” – Dana tried playing the sympathy card.
The Officer smiled tightly.
“I’m sure you were, Captain and I doubt that you see this ship as safe either. Nevertheless your ship will be searched.”
Dana sighed. Sjani shuffled forward to her mother’s side, and stared up at the rude woman who wanted to pick through their home like some trash compactor. The Officer looked down at the girl and back up at Dana. Her face softened a little.
“Look, I have my own orders to follow. We will be done within the hour, or we can take your holo-frequency and contact you as soon as we’re done, okay?”
Like I’m giving you my frequency! Dana thought. Maintaining her composure she shook her head.
“I will be back in an hour and expect my ship to be as clean, if not cleaner, than when you left it.”
The Officer nodded and marched back to the freighter. The three of them watched for a few seconds.
“Mum, I’m hungry.”, Sjani piped up. They turned and headed towards the on board Mess Hall.
Sjani wiped the last of her soup up with the crusty bread and sat back in her chair, lethargy setting in. Barak had the bowl to his mouth, slurping down his portion.
“If you don’t want your prey…” Barak insinuated at Dana, whose bowl was emitting significantly less steam than when it was first served.
“Take it, I’m not hungry.”
“I don’t believe, but I accept” Barak rasped.
Dana was distracted, prodding at her datapad with in-built surveillance screen. She was watching the Customs team intently, while also reprogramming some of her freighter’s flight records.
“Mum, what are…?”, Sjani started only to be interrupted by a raised hand telling her not to continue.
“They’re listening to everything going on, on this dratted vessel, I don’t doubt. We can talk later.”
Sjani folded her arms, put out by not being let into whatever her mother was up to.
“I want to go walk around.”, Sjani stated in a very matter-of-a-fact way.
“Do you have your holo on you?”, Dana asked.
“In which case, do what you want, I can find you. We won’t be going anywhere for a while.”
Sjani got up and looked towards Barak who winked at her slyly. She smiled and ran into the crowd on board the Sanctuary. Dana glanced up at Barak and pushed her encrypted datapad towards her Trandoshan friend. Wiping the residue of soup from his mouth he flicked through her amendments to the new ‘official’ flight records and cargo lists. The alterations were impressive and, most importantly, convincing. The precious cargo of Spice had been correctly mis-labelled as ‘Ancient Artefacts’, a ruse they could get away with through a crafty and somewhat shady Jedi they knew on Nar Shadaa. Non-Force Users never went near anything labelled ‘Artefacts’. Fear had its uses.
The datapad jolted them both out of their silent musings with a piercing beep. No-one seemed to notice.
“Thank the Maker for mass-produced tech models”, Dana whispered. “Let’s get back to Officer Nit-Pick”
When they returned to the ship, a couple of maintenance droids were just exiting it. The Officer saw them coming and marched swiftly up to them. Dana took a deep breath.
“Your ship checks out as does the record trail of your cargo”, the Officer reported, not hiding the disappointment in her voice.
“Of course it does. Do you think I would be stupid enough to get near a Republic ship with anything that wasn’t legit?”, Dana replied in feign defensiveness.
“I have only just met you, I cannot judge your intelligence or lack of it. We will inform you when your drop-off point has been reached.”
Dana glanced over to see a Med Droid scanning one of the Customs’ underlings.
Just to make sure they weren’t tainted by the artefacts no doubt, Dana thought, satisfied. She straightened her back and looked into the Officer’s eyes.
“Thank you, Officer. I would like rest in my ship now”, the effort of politesse taking all of her energy. The Officer saluted and then marched his inspection crew away. Dana let out a sigh.
“Too close, soft one.” Barak hissed. Dana just nodded in reply.
“Check the ship for tracking devices, I don’t trust these Republic freaks.”
Truth, they say, is the first casualty of war, she thought. Misinformation complete, she took a breath and climbed back into her craft. Moments later she fell asleep, grateful to let unconsciousness help her escape from the chaos around her.
More From Sjani Arcturus
- Space Debris – Sjani – SWTOR FanFiction
- The Need for Allies
- Sjani Arcturus: A Family Divided
- Sjani Arcturus – The Misinformation