When we left the Corona, the Captain managed after a great pursuit to escape from the Imperial forces. Now that the mission has turned them towards the planet of Tatooine, our heroes will be confronted by the Captain’s past. What will happen on the surface of the planet fartest removed from the center of the galaxy? Find out in a new episode of Friend or Foe!
A week passed by in hyperspace, but it felt like an eternity. I kept checking the navicomputers compulsively to make sure we were still on schedule for our arrival on Tatooine.
The two Jedi were buried in their research on the data from the Malastare temple. Arako’ant told me that the amount of material they had to go through could take up to a month, unless they found keywords that would enable translation, so they could understand the rest of the text and the images from the temple walls.
I, in the meantime, had been researching a replacement vessel for the Corona, but there weren’t many smuggling vessels made to carry a crew our size. I had spoken with Iridom and Donothar about any other options. Primarily, to again reshape the ship. But that could take lots of time. Precious time we need to be on the hunt for Erlena.
The alarm for going out of hyperspace went off. The starlines became stars again and Tatooine glimmered in front of us. The three moons were orbiting the dark side of the planet, where we needed to go. Night time over Mos Eisley spaceport.
We contacted the authorities under our fake identification. I didn’t want the Hutts to know I had returned. The last time I was here, well, it didn’t go well, to say the least. I had let my beard grow a bit, so I shouldn’t be recognized immediately , but I was far from confident. A Hutt never forgets, not when you’ve damaged his business.
I walked in my compartment for the last time and searched through my stuff, making sure I left nothing necessary. I checked everything and finally went to the cabinet besides my bed. I opened the drawer and it sounded like something was rolling around in there. A knife was lying in there. A beautiful hilt, made from the ivory of an animal I didn’t know. The blade was of a perfect metal. Erlena’s gift…I thought. She had given me the weapon as gift when we were wandering around on Tatooine. I closed my eyes.
“Hey, sweetheart. What are you looking around for?” Erlena asked me. We were walking around the market that was near the negotiations.
I looked at her, smiling. “Oh, nothing. Just looking. You know me.”
“Come on, what are you interested in here? You didn’t walk here for no reason. I know you to well for that,” she said.
“Using the Force, are we?” I looked at her with a smirk.
“I don’t need the Force to know you, love. Come on, tell me,” she said with a friendly look.
We strolled a bit further through the market of Mos Eisley. The city was being scorched by both the planet’s suns. As it has been doing in the past few days. As it always has done. The sand that blows through the streets is annoying, but this is Tatooine. The sand is the least troubling thing about the place. We… I needed to get away from the Hutts. If I stayed too long there I might just get really irate and hurt our negotiations. I’d dragged Erlena out here in the light and heat to clear my head. Fumbling around, looking for something of interest, maybe even something beautiful on this wretched and dried up planet. I looked at my beloved. She looked beautiful. Her hair waving in the wind, a kind and calm smile on her face. I love her, I thought, and I’m glad I’m with her here.
She turned her head back to me. “What? You’re staring, Kaydein.”
I nodded and blamed her for it. “How dare you, sir?” she said with a twinkle in her eyes. I chuckled over her fake hurt feelings. We were close to a small weapon salesman. There I saw the knife. An elegant hilt and beautiful metal. I asked for the price. What the Twi’lek asked for it was ridiculous, far more than its worth, and starship captains don’t have money for frivolous things on top of that. I turned the man down and walked away. Erlena let me walk on. When I was at the turn, I looked at her. She came running up to me with something wrapped in cloth. A big smile was on her face.
“For you, my dearest captain.” And she gave me the cloth and a long kiss.
I unwrapped it and the knife was in my hands. I looked at her full of surprise. “How… when, but?” I stuttered.
She smiled in a way that made my heart jump. “Jedi are capable of many wondrous things, dearest… But for this I just had to rely on my Republic bank account, which was somewhat of a hassle since it isn’t the main currency here.” I kissed her long and loving…
That was only a few weeks back, but it felt like years ago, a different age even. I pulled out a belt to keep the knife in place and slit it in my boot. There was no other place. And now I’m back on this wretched planet. Maybe there is someone that has a feeling of kinship with the Republic. Damn those Hutts and their henchmen, I thought. I hadn’t spoken out loud to my subordinates the price put on my head. Damn those negotiations. I don’t want to worry Iridom and O’Crave even more than they are already about me. Maybe I should at least inform Arako’ant or Osam. They would look quite surprised if I suddenly have a smoking hole in my body out of the blue. Luckily, it was night in Mos Eisley.
The crew was assembled near the exit. Most would remain for the time being on the ship, so that we wouldn’t flood the streets of Mos Eisley, the rest would search for a ship. Everything was prepped to leave the ship at moment’s notice. We had downloaded all the data of the temple and stored it in Osam’s backpack, stored onto a datapad so he and Arako’ant could continue their research.
The Jedi seemed anxious to not leave any of it unstudied. They must have felt something important was there. Our comlinks were all in sync. We had decided that we would all go in groups of two – I would venture of with Arako’ant, Iridom with Donothar and Osam with O’Crave. Carina would wander around with Jarsons now that they both had recovered in the medbay. And a group of mechanics would also venture off to look for a similar ship. We decided that we would search for a ship a week tops. Myself and the Twi’lek Jedi would check up on the spy that Admiral Irys Wist’vys had provided me. My fellow shipmates wished us good luck and we stepped outside.
The heat, even after suns’ set, was even harsher than I remembered. Even wearing clothing especially suited for the environment, I felt overdressed and trapped by the heat. I remembered the layout of the small starport city and steered in the right direction. The streets were empty but for some thugs hanging around, giving me and the woman at my side evil looks. We ignored it. If something would go amiss, we would be more than capable to defend ourselves.
A short figure, a Rodian, walked out of the dark. “You wanna buy some deathsticks?” the person said with a slur. My Jedi companion waved her hand and replied: “You don’t want to sell me death sticks.”
The small man repeated the words. Ah, the Force of course, I thought, Jedi mind trick. The man walked away with a bland look on his face.
I whispered to Arako’ant, “That won’t be the last one. Better be prepared for that to happen the rest of tonight.”
She nodded with a sad, empathetic face. “How can this happen to these people? Don’t they want to change their lives? This doesn’t help them. It gives them only more misery.”
I gave her a short pinch on her shoulder for comfort. “They are stuck here. You either are a slave, or poor, or both, or you join the criminal syndicates. There isn’t much in between. The Hutts rule this planet. Come on.”
Her reaction seemed odd to me. I expected Jedi to have seen a bit of the galaxy. This gave rise to a question in my mind. “What is your background as a Jedi, Arako’ant? I thought you would have seen this before in your travels.”
She looked away with a shameful look. “I’m not that type of Jedi. My function in the Jedi order is that of a librarian.” A bookworm!, I thought, On a field mission as important as this? I held my emotions in check, she was worried herself.
“Why were you assigned then to me?” I asked instead.
“For many reasons,” she said. “First, due to my academic background, I can hold a lot of information in my head, more even than most Jedi, and see connections that most wouldn’t see. Secondly, the council is anxious for me to prove myself worthy of the title of Master, which I have not yet achieved. Also, a Jedi of higher rank than myself is more likely to be recognized by our enemies, or otherwise draw attention. If a high ranking master would accompany you, the Sith would surely notice it. Fourthly, Osam is ready for his trials and this will be his last mission as my pupil. We both have an interest in archaeology, though we are not as well-versed in the Rakata Empire, as in the employee of the Republic that is stationed here might be. And of course, maybe more importantly, I asked for this assignment. I needed to get away from the Jedi archives again.” She looked away from me with a worried face again.
I didn’t push for anything more. But I still had to confess something myself. I rasped my throat. “I have to confess something as well, which might endanger the mission here on Tatooine. I have a bounty on my head.” I looked straight forward so the Twi’lek woman wouldn’t see my face.
“So that’s why you let your beard grow?”
“What did you do?”
“I probably insulted the Hutt we were in negotiations with. I might have said something that he – or was it a she, I can never tell with those slugs- didn’t like.”
We arrived at the cantina and were immediately greeted by the sight of someone being thrown out of the bar. “And stay out, slughead!” the bouncer shouted in Huttese at the thrown one. The thrower was a broad Rodian, imposing in strength and girth. His face wasn’t properly visible in the darkness, but his twitching ears on top of his head gave him away. He turned and cursed. He saw us and stopped with his rant. He seemed to recognize us, or maybe just me.
He spoke directly at me in a heavy accent: “He who has too much water, wants the sun.” I recognized the sentence the admiral had sent me.
I responded “He who has too much sun, wants water.” I waited for the second passphrase.
“Let’s not see winters bliss come over Tatooine, because…”
“Else the suns have died out. You are the contact?” I asked.
The Rodian nodded and responded agitated in Huttese. “Get inside quick, it’s not safe at this hour.”
To be continued…