The snowstorm was fierce, leaving Zorii half-blinded as she hurried through the empty streets. Civilians knew, when the snowstorms arrived, to find cover but she had a job to do. She wanted to leave this planet and to do that she needed to get to the client before he acquired the sudden urge to skedaddle. Even if that meant freezing due to the frigid temperatures that came with such a storm.
Yes, her form-fitting suit protected her from the elements but it didn’t mean that she didn’t feel the cold every now and then. And right now, she was the nippy temperature seemed to cut through the purple fabric of her suit more than ever.
Ahead, she could see the vague outlining of a building. She rushed forward, knocking on the building’s entrance; a dull wooden door. A few seconds later there was a voice.
“Get in,” the voice hissed.
She didn’t ask questions. She burst into the establishment, her right hand on her blaster just in case. A lantern flickered to life revealing a massive dark-skinned man with striking golden-brown eyes and a dark braid that coursed its way down his back. He was dressed in a thick fur coat that stretched all the way down to his feet. It almost seemed like a robe until she caught a glimpse of a shirt and pants beneath the coat.
“I almost thought you wouldn’t come,” he said.
“I got here as fast as I could,” she responded, releasing her hand from her blaster as she deemed him not a threat.
He stomped past her, his every step partially shaking the ground.
This guy’s a giant, she thought to herself.
He placed the lantern in a holder and the light revealed a comfy sitting room in a tight space. A tighter space than she expected to hold the giant man. A short flight of stairs in the left corner led to some unknown region of the building.
“You have my credits?” he asked, glancing back at her.
“Only if you have what I’m looking for,” she responded.
He didn’t seem amused. “Information about a First Order captain. I know everything you need to know but first,” he turned toward her, extending a calloused hand, “I’d like my credits.”
She glanced at the hand, then his stern expression. She made a decision.
She took the small satchel of credits and threw it to him. His eyes lit up as if he almost couldn’t believe she had lived up to her end of the deal.
“No need counting it,” she said. “It’s all there.”
He smiled. “I’ve heard some interesting things about you, Spice Runner. I surely thought you were going to dupe me.”
He could hear the smile in her voice. “Not this time.”
He snorted, regarding her for a second, before continuing, “The captain is located in the Northern Peaks just outside the city.”
She cocked her head, clearly surprised by the information. “Why?”
“It seems the rebels causing trouble for the First Order have become more prevalent and the captain fears not only for her position but her life. She has herself removed from her common holdings and relocated to a safer position where she can keep a close eye on the city but not remain in the middle of the fray.”
Zorii began to pace. “This is going to complicate things.”
She stopped, looking at him intently.
“There’s word that the hyperlanes are less secure today. That’s why I’m getting out. It’s the best chance to get through without being apprehended.”
She shrugged. “If I have the medallion, what’s the trouble?”
“It’s always good to have a backup plan…in case things change.”
She dipped her head. “You’re right. Thanks for the tip.”
She turned as if to leave when he bellowed, “Spice Runner!”
She looked back. He was staring at her with a smile. “May the Force be with you.”
A spike of emotion ran through her. Anger, fear, shame, helplessness, hope, all of these emotions attributed to the stories she had heard of her parents’ death. Apparently, they weren’t on the side of those who deemed the wretched sorcerers called the Jedi as protectors. They were on the other side and were cut down by the laser-sword wielding murderers. She knew her parents were of a life of crime…it’s part of the reason why she had wanted to become a spice runner. To honor them and to live life dangerously.
She had grown up hating the Jedi like many criminals. There were even some who had become Jedi Hunters, working for the mysterious Empire to bring the strangely powerful individuals to justice. Now…she didn’t quite know what to think of the Force.
She had met a Jedi once before. An older man with greying blond hair and striking blue eyes that seemed to bore into her very soul. His right hand had been metal and he had wielded one of the laser swords but not against her. In fact, in a neon green flash that seemed to sear into her memory, he had saved her life from a couple of bounty hunters who were seeking her bounty at the time.
Ever since she had never known exactly how to feel about the Jedi or the Force. She didn’t personally know any Jedi or wield the mystical power so she didn’t have to revisit that gaping hole in her understanding. This man, however, had brought that sense of internal confusion back in abrupt form.
After what seemed like an eternity but probably was the span of two seconds she responded defiantly, “I don’t believe in the Force.” Then a second passed. “But thank you.”
He smiled. Without wasting another second she hurried out of the building back into the blinding snowstorm that awaited her. A couple huddled close in thick coats scurried by, the woman’s shrill cries filling the air. Zorii strode forward, heading back to the tower as quickly as she could.
If she didn’t know the city so well she’d probably get lost in the storm but she knew these streets like the several birthmarks that marred her skin. This city was a part of her.
She found the short tower quicker than she expected, its brick construction reaching into the frenzied whiteness. She hurried inside, scrambling upstairs to the entrance to the tunnels. She needed to get back to her crew. Finding this captain was going to be harder than she imagined and she was going to need all the help that she needed. These thoughts whooshed out of her mind when she saw the entrance to the tunnel hanging ajar as if busted open. The teenager was nowhere to be seen. Her heart dropped.
She unholstered one of her blasters, stepping cautiously forward to avoid making too much noise. She slowly walked down the creaking wooden steps but was brought to a horrifying halt as she beheld the teenager lying at the bottom of the steps, a smoking crater in his chest from where a blaster bolt had tragically ended his short life.
“The First Order,” she whispered.
She knelt by his side, staring into his green eyes that had just moments ago been full of life. Her head fell. What sort of regime could be so heartless to shoot a young boy with such impunity? The thought made her sick.
She heard surprised shouts in the distance followed by the echoing pews of blaster fire. She raised her gaze, unholstering her other blaster.
“Let’s kill some First Order,” she said before charging into the tunnel.