The weapon was heavy in his hands, its cruel edges designed to cause maximum damage and pain. He thanked the Scorekeeper for his clan’s brutal but effective training for the skills that had saved his life on numerous occasions.
He glanced sideways at Dana and saw her return his stare. She took a deep breath and then nodded. With the Trandoshan ahead they worked their way to the exit and crouched down ready.
Sjani retreated back into one of the storage compartment and sat down the corner, hugging her knees. Every time was as bad as the last, wondering who would take her captive this time. It had happened before; once on Tatooine on a purely social visit. Their ship had been marked for tracking but their cargo of illegal weapons had been dropped off days before, so the ship had literally nothing of interest in it. Didn’t stop the locals taking a few personal treasures to justify their time, but the days spent in a holding cell had been miserable, with nothing but salted Bantha strips and some bread-like substance as sustenance.
Another time, they had been apprehended leaving Alderaan with some small but weird and wonderful creatures destined for some Force-forsaken pithole somewhere on the Outer Rim. The swap-over was supposed to happen a few parsecs from an asteroid belt, but they had been caught by Republic officers who impounded the cargo and thoroughly questioned them all. She didn’t like all their questions because she didn’t often know the answers, but they thought she was lying. More time in a holding cell, and banned from Alderaan Spaceports for a few years. That was when they traded their ships.
All Sjani could do was look towards the door, the tension mounting as the ship was lowered to the deck. When it did, they heard a gruff voice shout through the durasteel divide between the safe inside and the uncertain situation beyond.
“UNMARKED FREIGHTER IDENTIFY YOURSELF!”
Another glance between Dana and Barak.
“Give them the truth, Dana”, Barak rasped.
Another intake of breath.
“Freighter The Shadow of Corellia en route out of Coruscant. One adult human, one Trandoshan and…. my daughter”
“ALLEGIANCE?”, the gruff voice demanded.
“None. Just Corellian citizens”.
An almost defining pause.
“SHEATH YOUR WEAPONS. YOU ARE SAFE BUT MAKE NO THREATENING MOVES. OPEN YOUR HATCH OR WE’LL BE FORCED TO BLOW THE DOOR”
Just do it, Mum, please, Sjani begged from within her head.
Dana reached up, her blaster still in-hand and pressed the release valve. With a hiss the door swung out and up, revealing a semi-circle of soldiers on their bellies, with rifles trained on the door. Sjani edged forwards to see the view.
The Lieutenant caught a glimpse of the girl and his countenance softened.
“WEAPONS DOWN MEN!”, then to the passengers, “I SAID WEAPONS SHEATHED!”
Barak waited for the soldiers to follow orders before they followed suit. The three descended the steps cautiously, still unsure whether to trust their new surrounds or not.
The Lieutenant saluted them smartly.
“Welcome to Republic Cruiser the Sanctuary, Captain. I know this wasn’t your planned escape from Coruscant’s sacking but it’s your only route for now.”
Dana nodded, unwilling to return a salute to an authority she refused to recognise.
“Thanks, I think. How long are we here for?”, she asked
“We have to drop a few surviving Jedi off first and then we can release you in a neutral, safe zone. No more than three days, give or take.”, he informed them.
Barak turned his head slightly towards his Captain.
“Sometimes unplanned journeys lead to unexpected opportunities, soft thing”, he almost smiled.
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