Disclaimer: Nothing of Star Wars belongs to me.
Story is a request.
Sapphire eyes spanned the expanse of the room and a loud, dramatic sigh escaped the only occupant. The journey had already expanded to two extra days which turned it somewhat dull. On board the ship, there were only so many things she could do before the boredom crept back in. The main activity had involved repairing everything that needed to fixed but by the end of the day, it made her eyes sore and her mind tired with exhaustion.
At this moment, Murata was lying in her private quarters, feeling like she could climb the walls in her frustration; the pressure of wanting to get to her destination and why weighed on her mind. Travelling was something she loved but the moments in between had been things she never quite resolved. Before the journeys began she always assumed it was go quickly and that there would be no need for something to occupy her mind with but she always turned out to be wrong.
With a glance at the door, Murata sighed again. The autopilot was on and the ship was mostly flying itself, with a little help of her droid, RA-S15, to help of course. The thought of him made her mind linger. RA had been with her longer than anyone else had ever been. RA had belonged to her father but he's function with him had been much different than it was now. Now it mostly concerned her safety and well being, making sure that she got from one place to another in one piece rather than communications and statistics.
With that notion crossing the path, Murata's thoughts went to where they were heading now. It was Kashyyyk, home of the Wookiees. On that planet, she had a contact, well, an old friend, really. The time since she'd last seen her had been too long and it made a twinge of guilt hit her, but she pushed it down, not wanting to think about it.
The purpose of this trip was to trade weapons she had on board to trade for Wookiee goods, mostly alcohol. Out in the galaxy, the alcohol would be very valuable but she knew that getting it might not be the hard part. She even knew that getting on the planet might be difficult if all she's heard is actually true. The idea of Imperial interruptions didn't enthuse her.
The droid's voice came through the comlink on the ship, making Murata bolt upright on her bed in slight fear. "What is it, RA?"
"We are approaching the Kashyyyk system now," replied RA.
Murata gave no reply. Instead, she sprung off her bed and fled from the room and headed straight for the cockpit. When she got there, she jumped into her seat beside her faithful droid and turned off the autopilot, taking full control. At the feel of the entire ship thrumming under her fingertips, Murata felt her heart hammer faster in her chest and she took a deep breath, still loving that it always gave her the same sense of heightened stimulation.
Before long, the planet came into view and she gazed over the bluish green orb in the distance. It looked just as she remembered and as they approached, she slowed a little, hoping it avoid any unwelcome attention. But it was only a few minutes before she realised that they had been spotted and she wasn't the only one that noticed.
"We're being hailed," informed RA, the concern in his voice not going undetected.
"I know," said Murata quietly, watching as two ships drew near to their position. This was unwanted but expected. Murata sighed. "Kashyyyk is an Imperial slave world. I had hoped to avoid this but..."
"The odds of that were highly unlikely," stated RA in a monotonous tone which gave Murata reason to smile for a few seconds.
"Stop your ship immediately," said an unfamiliar voice through her communication system. "Prepare to be boarded."
They were an IPV-1 System Patrol Craft and two Alpha-class Xg-1 Star Wings. The ship came to an abrupt stop and Murata didn't even have to look to know why. Instead of waiting for her, a beam had been placed against the ship, making it stop and loiter in the same position. Beside her, RA pressed several buttons, attempting to free them, his actions panicky, but she knew it would do nothing. She placed a comforting hand on his as the hatch door opened and she got to her feet, waiting for the unwelcome visitors.
Heavy footsteps thundered down the narrow hallways and soon, three people came into view; an Imperial officer and two stormtroopers. The Imperial officer stepped forward and the two stormtroopers followed but stayed a few feet behind, both seemingly uninterested in the unfolding events.
Murata took a few steps away from her chair and leaned against the nearest console, folding her arms over her chest. The Imperial officer was tall and long limbed. His face was pointed and severe, with dark, beady eyes that looked around the ship once before looking at her closely.
"This is your ship?" he asked, as though sceptical.
"Yes," she replied evenly.
Her eyes fell from his face and to the name tag on his dark grey uniform; Tallon. It wasn't a name she'd heard or seen before. The officer turned to look at the two behind him and they instantly moved, heading in different directions. Murata felt her heart skip a beat but her face remained impassive once the dark eyes landed on her again.
"You're just a child," he mocked. "Where are your parents?"
"Not here," said Murata, giving a vague answer on purpose. "Is this necessary, officer?"
"It's part of my job," said Tallon sternly. "I take it very seriously."
Murata unfolded her arms and settled them on the console gently. "I'm not saying otherwise," she said, her voice going soft. "I'm just a young girl with a droid for company. I'm sure there are more important things you could be doing with your time than searching a child's ship."
"Hmm..." was all the reply she got.
"Perhaps I could make it worth your while to forget I was ever here," said Murata, closing the distance between them.
"You must be joking," scoffed Tallon, his expression giving the notion that the idea disgusted him.
"Not quite what I meant," said Murata, suddenly horrified by the thought herself. "How much would it take?"
"I highly doubt you've got enough," said Tallon, turning away and heading towards the door.
The Imperial officer stopped in his tracks and after exactly three seconds, he turned around to face her again. Murata stood there, with her hands behind her back and their eyes locked and Murata managed to keep her face mostly impassive, minus the hint of a smile that tugged at the corners of her mouth.
"You have my attention," said Tallon, lifting his head high as he spoke. "Speak quickly, child."
Murata placed one hand on her hip and motion with her other as she spoke. "If you order your troops to leave I will give you the money. Then you leave and I have no more hassle from you or other patrols."
"You have a deal... child," said Tallon, adding the last word with a smirk.
The Imperial officer left the cockpit and Murata heard her round up the two stormtroopers he brought on board with him. Before leaving herself, Murata moved to RA's chair and she leaned in, whispering when she spoke to him.
"Keep an eye on those ships out there," she ordered. "I'll settle things with Mister Severe out there."
"Yes, Mistress," said RA despite the note of concern still in his voice.
Murata left the cockpit and rounded the corner in time to see the stormtroopers leave. Tallon stood near the door himself and Murata nodded once, happy to see him keeping his end so far. From within her pocket, Murata withdrew a small, velvet bag. She pulled it open and took out three gold Imperial credit coins and without hesitation, she handed them over. Tallon turned and was halfway down the walkway before Murata thought of something else but she quickly dismissed it.
Murata stared a moment longer before she closed the hatch and locked it, waiting for the usual click. Once it sounded, she waited and listened. The docked ship detached and the engines revved, the sound slowly moving away. Murata breathed a sigh of relief and went back to the cockpit and took her seat and hold of the controls again.
"They're leaving," informed RA.
"I see that," said Murata. "Let's get down to the planet as soon as we can."
The Red Dwarf Stinger landed steadily, the ground beneath it solid. Murata shut down every system and opened the main door. She stepped out into darkness, the nearest light coming from down the adjoining boardwalk. The air was thick and warm and Murata took a deep breath, somewhat pleased to be out of the coldness of space. The wooden landing platform was deserted, only barrels and storage containers lined the outside. In the light of what appeared to be late morning, Murata could see wroshyr trees and hear the echoes of insects but the exact direction of them was unclear.
It was a few moments before RA joined her and she locked the ship down. Together they left the landing platform and walked down the boardwalk. A little further down she could see where the village was, a row of houses lining one side. Many of them had doors and windows open and a few of local inhabitants were out and about, only a couple glancing her way. But their advantage of being inconspicuous didn't last long as two Wookiees appeared in front of them, seemingly emerging out of nowhere.
"Who are you and want do you want?"
Murata looked to the one that spoke. He was over two metres tall and had really dark hair that looked a little tangled around his arms. With a quick look down, Murata noted the small weapons they had on them but she did nothing but give a tiny, unassuming smile.
"I'm here to see a friend," she said honestly.
"You are armed," stated the other, taking a slight step forward.
"As are you," said Murata giving a one shoulder shrug. "It's for protection. Nothing else. I'm here to see Enacca. She's an old friend."
The two Wookiees spoke amongst themselves, seeming oblivious to the fact that Murata could still hear them. Soon, they turned their attention back to her and the first one spoke again.
"You may go," he said in firm voice.
"Thank you," said Murata, giving a slight bow with her head.
The two Wookiees then parted and Murata walked between them, RA following right looked the same as the last time she was here and their endpoint wasn't far away. The door was nothing but a sturdy piece of wood and it was closed, keeping out the humidity. A faint light emitted from the house and Murata checked her surroundings before knocking and taking a step back. A few moments passed before Murata knocked again and waited.
A light growl was heard from within and the door was wrenched open, making Murata jump slightly. A tall, female Wookiee stood in the doorway, the sandy brown hair right in her face. There was a pause as the Wookiee stopped and looked, meeting Murata's eye. The initial facial expression quickly disappeared, replaced with a kind softness. Clearly, her old friend had been expecting someone else.
"Murata!" she said, sounding pleased. "Come in, please, come in."
Both Murata and her droid entered the small home. The front door led straight into a sitting area, furnished with a table and chairs made from wood. A small woollen rug sat in the centre and the light source seemed to be coming from another room but was still enough to filter into this one. Murata turned where she stopped and watched her ally close the door.
"How have you been, Enacca?" she asked in a friendly tone.
"Quite well," replied Enacca. "What about you? You haven't been around in a while."
"I know," said Murata, the apologetic expression on her face saying it all. "Forgive me but I've been busy lately. I didn't forget about you."
Enacca moved away from the door and sat down in a wide chair that half faced it, offering another to Murata. A small smile graced her face as she took it, noticing that RA lingered in the same spot as he normally did. When her eyes lifted back onto her friend, Murata noticed that perhaps she hadn't been truthful. The Wookiee appeared tired and maybe a touch troubled about something but she couldn't quite place what it could be other than the obvious.
"Your ship has not yet fallen apart," said Enacca, a trace of amusement coming from her.
Murata laughed softly. "Its condition is still good. Hasn't given me many troubles yet."
"Your parents would be proud," stated Enacca. "Can I offer you something to eat and drink? I have some Wasaka berry pie and a little graling juice...?"
The thought of something to fill her stomach peaked her interest and Murata nodded, smiling broadly. "That would be lovely."
For someone of her height, Enacca rose to her feet gracefully and entered the doorway on the other side that was open. Murata glanced beside her and saw that RA had moved closer to the window and was looking outside. The noises in the kitchen increased and it gained Murata's attention and she waited patiently, wondering if she could have helped.
But Enacca returned with a wide wooden tray which she set down on the table. She served Murata first, handing her a slice of pie on a plate and some juice that was set down near her. Murata eyed the deep red liquid, feeling her throat go dry but she ignored it and took a bite of her food, humming as it tasted the same as it did the last time she tried it.
"What brings you here?" asked Enacca, after taking a sip of her own juice.
Murata took a deep breath, noticing that they were getting down to business rather quickly and she settled the pie on her lap while she spoke. "I'm looking for a trade and I thought you'd be able to help me."
"A trade?" questioned Enacca. "What exactly do you have to trade and what are you needing in return?"
"It's not a question of need," said Murata, wanting to make herself completely clear from the start. "This is more of an opportunity, something to boost my finances. On my ship I have bowcasters, detonators and grenades and I'm looking to trade it for alcohol."
"That might not be easy," commented Enacca. "I may be able to help you in speaking with the city trade managers although..."
"Yes," prompted Murata.
"How did you manage to get past the Imperial patrols? Surely, you were stopped and searched."
"I took care of it," said Murata, dismissing it with wave of her hand. She picked up the juice and took a long sip before continuing. "Is there a problem with trading? Before you said you were fine but I don't get that impression from your body language."
"You're smarter than a child ought to be," said Enacca, not unkindly. "I need assistance with something, if you're up for it."
"Depends on what it is," said Murata honestly.
"A special hunt," elaborated Enacca.
Murata's face showed her confusion before she could convey it with words. "A special hunt? What do you mean?"
"My cousin, Karra, is due to be married, soon but his mate, Satakk, was captured along with others while on a hunt by Trandoshan slavers. They're going to be shipped off-world and I cannot allow that to happen."
"I would bet a thousand credits that you're a better hunter than me," said Murata, her confusion still showing. "What help could I be to you?"
"You're smaller and that may prove an advantage," said Enacca honestly. "I believe the combined efforts of us and my fellow kin that have volunteered to help will make sure it's a success."
Murata tucked a strand of her pink hair behind her ear as she listened. "I'm willing to help you," she said, without much hesitation. "What do you need of me?"
"Just your blaster and perhaps a little more..." said Enacca. "I will introduce you to my cousin now and you can speak with him personally. Come with me."
Enacca stood up as did Murata. As the front door opened and a waft of fresh air hit her, Murata realised what Enacca had meant by 'perhaps a little more'. It referred to her other weapon. For the moment, Murata kept the initial opinion forming at bay and followed Enacca outside. She wasn't quite sure if it would be needed in a rescue such as this.
They headed out the front door and RA toddled along, his joints making audible sounds. The outside still looked the same; the clouds around them white and thick. The three of them walked along the boardwalk, their presence gaining a little more attention now and Murata felt a little weary, keeping her hand not far from her weapon, hoping that they reached the cousins home soon.