As she wandered down the hallway, she clutched the only weapon that she could find and prayed that none of the blaster bolts dancing from around the corner would find their mark in her. This was her chance, her escape. If she could only make it to the landing platform then she could stow away aboard one of the freighters that frequented this horrible planet. She gripped the piece of durasteel tighter, wiping her sweating brow with the sleeve of her grimy tunic. They were still pursuing her. She could hear them firing blasters, and hollering threats after her. Ahead she saw the door leading to the landing platform. Okay, make a run for it, she thought, psyching herself up to bolt to the door and through it. As she leapt from her position and sped through the door she found herself bouncing off something and she was on the ground, her backside sore from crashing to the floor. Glancing up she saw an old, white-haired man smiling down on her. Shmi eyed the man apprehensively and grasped his outstretched hand so he could help her up.
He continued to smile at Shmi as she brushed off her backside and watched him with a weary eye. This man was not one of Karr's, she thought.
"Whe'ya headin' in sucha hur'y?" He asked her in the unmistakable drawl of a man with little education under his belt.
The blaster firing was starting to echo down the hall Shmi had just run from, and as a loose shot whizzed past her ear, she moved to the side of the doorway, pulling the man with her and lowering the blast door.
"I need to get outta here! Do you have a ship?" She asked, making no effort to hide her desperation or the urgency of her escape.
The man's smile faltered. "Me wife and I got a ship. 'S there some trouble about?"
Shmi nodded as she punched the locking mechanism on the door. It wouldn't hold them back for long, but all she needed was a few minutes. "Please, sir, I'll explain everything if you'll just get me off this planet. Please!" Shmi was on the verge of tears, and without realizing it she had grasped the man's hands in her own and was pressing them to her chest.
"Calm down there, girlie. Ya think yer life depended on me," he said, pulling his hands from her grasp. Shmi smiled thankfully, hazarded one last glance at the locked door as if to make sure it hadn't opened in the past minute, then she followed the old man on board his ship.
Karr was powerful, but not powerful enough to prevent the ship from leaving the atmosphere and making the jump to Hyperspace. Shmi paced in the cargo bay where the old man told her to wait, and she didn't relax until the old man came back and told her they were already in Hyperspace.
Shmi felt like she wanted to collapse on the floor, the adrenaline of her escape finally wearing off. Her knees shaky she resigned herself to just sitting on one of the cargo containers in the bay.
"Okay, girlie, we're outta danger, now what's with ya?" the old man sat next to her on the container.
Shmi shook her head and laughed, "I don't know where to even begin."
"The beginnin' is usually purty good," the old man grinned at Shmi.
"Well, my name is Shmi," she held her hand out to the old man.
"I'm Sky," he grasped her hand firmly, shaking it. "Wher'ya from, Shmi?"
"Well, I don't know. Ever since I can remember I have lived on that godforsaken planet, servant to that monster Karr," Shmi groused for a moment. "He was horrible to me, and to the others. I just wish I could have brought Walker with me, he won't last long if I'm not there, Karr likes to make him fight."
Shmi glanced at the man. "Karr would make his male servants fight each other, for his entertainment. Fight to the death," Shmi emphasized. The old man, Sky, nodded.
"Us girls, well, we had other tasks to perform. He'd keep us locked up, chained to the wall of the old cellar at night, so none of us was ever well rested. Tonight I managed to get out. I barely had time to make it up the stairs before the men discovered I was gone. They were shooting to kill, too. If you hadn't let me on, they would have blasted me away. Karr ain't exactly a law-abiding citizen, and us servants know more than we should. I think he's afraid I may tell on him. Truthfully I never want to hear or see about him again. I just hope I haven't brought a bunch of trouble down on you."
"Don't worry about that, we can handle trouble," a new, female voice spoke from behind. Shmi turned and saw an older woman, a tough looking, older woman, standing in the doorway.
"My name's Ana," she said, walking forward and offering her hand to Shmi. "We're glad to help, sounds like you had one helluva life on that terrible planet. I always tell Sky we should stop making rounds in that system, but the money is too good."
The old couple smiled at each other.
Shmi watched the two interact, a sense of loss growing in her own heart. "Are you smugglers, then?"
Sky and Ana laughed. "Yes, dear." Ana replied. "Now come, have some food. Do you have a surname, Shmi?"
As Shmi stood on her still somewhat wobbly legs she shook her head. "No, just Shmi."
Ana led Shmi to the small kitchen area where the three had a quick meal of protein, and as the ship neared their destination, there was a beeping from the computer. Sky excused himself to pilot the ship out of hyperspace and into the planet's atmosphere.
Shmi and Ana sat in the kitchen with warm glasses of Brech Tea.
"So, what planet is this?" Shmi asked, taking a sip and wincing as the hot liquid burnt the tip of her tongue.
"Tatooine," Ana smiled. "We do random jobs for the Hutts, a gangster species that pretty much own the planet. They are quite nasty. Fat, slobbering, greedy beings. But they actually pay well, as long as you deliver. Sky has contacts with a Hutt named Hurilla, she's an old, nasty one. I can't stand her."
"Tatooine is a desert planet, so be prepared," Ana added after a moment of silence. Shmi nodded, excited at the prospect of seeing such a planet, it had to be better than Kal'Shebbol, an ugly, rocky, cold world with only 3 hours of sunlight a day.
"Ana, if I may ask, and please don't take this the wrong way, but you sound like you come from a good place. Like you are educated, I mean."
Ana smiled at Shmi. "I am. I'm from the Core. Sky is from the Outer Rim, one of the furthest settlements out there. You should have seen my parents faces when I told them I was leaving with him. I'm sure they are rolling in their graves that I am a smuggler," Ana laughed and took a sip of her tea.
"Karr made sure we were educated, he said over and over that he can't stand ignorance, so we were made to study for years," Shmi stopped. She was breaking her own rule of not speaking about Karr. Ana's warm, wrinkled hand reached over and grasped Shmi's. The two women looked at each other, and Shmi, for the first time in her life, felt that she might just be able to make a normal life for herself.
"Ladies, Tatooine waits for us," Sky came back into the room grinning. Ana slapped her hands on the table and abandoning her tea, stood and reached a hand out for Shmi.
"Let's go, girlie."
Ana hadn't been kidding about the heat and the sun, or suns, as Shmi noticed there were two suns in this planet's sky. They had landed in a place called Motesta. Shmi saw more aliens in the few minutes it took them to walk from the ship to the cantina than she'd ever seen in her life.