Wake of the Red Silk
Original Star Wars Fan Fiction by "Free Trader"
Part I: Black Moons Rising
For many years, the distant, desolate mining world of Rhyax was governed by a corporation that rewarded its managers and supervisors for exceeding production quotas with bonus incentives. A favored bonus was a beautiful young slave girl to keep the supervisors from becoming too lonely at their isolated post. This provided a small, but steady market for savvy kajira traders like Ral Peleton. Ral didn’t care that he had to bribe corrupt customs inspectors from the Empire as long as he was able to deliver his comely cargoes to Rhyax. But Ral couldn’t have foreseen the ripple effect that the destruction of the Death Star would have on his operation. As the Empire shifted its focus from subjugating worlds to crushing the Rebellion, Star Destroyers that once patrolled distant sectors were reassigned to task forces. Rhyax was left unguarded, and the corporate directors didn’t feel that the revenues generated by the remote mining world justified hiring mercenaries to protect the operation from pirates and rival corporations. The upper level staff was subsequently evacuated and the operation abruptly abandoned, leaving several thousand miners, their families, and a handful of mid-level managers to their own devices. A quick, bloodless take-over of Rhyax ensued, with the miners forming a "Citizens Governing Committee" to run things. One practice that quickly went the way of the corporate hierarchy was slavery, but with holonet transmissions now tightly controlled by the Imperial Navy, there was no way that Ral would have known about Rhyax’s mini-revolution in advance. Ral did eventually find out - after landing on Rhyax his ship was impounded, his cargo of kajira was freed, and he and his crew were imprisoned and forced to toil in the mines.
Things looked pretty bad for the crew of the Red Silk until the a pirate band known as the "Black Moons" decided that now practically defenseless Rhyax might still have something worth taking. The pirates used an asteroid that was being nudged into orbit by a mass-driver engine to mask their approach to Rhyax, and then swept down on the colony. The Black Moons had surprise in their favor, but hadn’t expected the inhabitants to put up much of a defense. The pirates found themselves being chased by ground vehicles, attacked by heavy machinery, and fired upon with everything from blasters to slingshots. Frustrated by the unanticipated resistance, the Black Moons seized as many ships, weapons and slaves as they could and beat a hasty retreat skyward. A pair of aging Z-95 Headhunters from Rhyax’s Home Guard set out in pursuit, but the corsairs jumped to hyperspace before they could be intercepted.
Among the slaves taken by the Black Moons was Amelia Oweyn, the lovely daughter of the Mayor of Rhyax Freeport, Orex Oweyn. Mayor Oweyn called for an expedition to be mounted to rescue his daughter and the other enslaved citizens. While his speech was met with enthusiastic applause, few citizens actually volunteered and of those only a young miner whose fiancée was kidnapped during the raid had spent any time in space.
Growing desperate, Mayor Oweyn turned to Ral for help. The Mayor struck a deal with Ral: he would free the slaver and his crew if Ral would undertake a mission to rescue his daughter from the corsairs. The mayor even offered to help Ral repair the Red Silk, which had been damaged by concussion missiles early in the pirate’s attack. However, the mayor had two conditions: Ral had to take along Ryan Breem, the miner whose fiancée had been kidnapped; and Ral’s beloved kajira, Jewel, would remain behind as a hostage. Mayor Oweyn had an ulterior motive for sending along Breem – the brawny young miner would make sure that Ral wouldn’t loose interest in the mission.
Ral had spent years roaming and trading along the Imperial Fringe, and he knew the odds of locating the Black Moons on his own were slim. He had one important lead though: during the raid, one of the corsairs had been captured. The Mayor had insisted on putting the corsair on public display in a steel cage in the center of the town’s square, so Ral reasoned that getting information wouldn’t be a problem.
He reasoned wrong.
The "fierce corsair", who it so happened was only a girl barely out of her teens, was in no condition to tell him much of anything. In the week since her capture, she’d been kept half-naked and exposed to the weather in the tiny cage, fed only scraps, and routinely pelted with stones and garbage by passers-by. The experience had caused her to become withdrawn and she cowered from any that approached the cage. After trying to talk to her for nearly an hour, Ral finally gave up. Even if the wretched girl knew the location of the Black Moon’s base she wouldn’t – or couldn’t – tell him in her present state.
Repairs to the Red Silk were swiftly completed and Ral and his crew prepared for departure. The wily trader told Mayor Oweyn that he planned to secretly lift during one of the almost nightly thunderstorms in case the corsairs still had an informant hiding in Rhyax Freeport or left a spysat in orbit. This was a deception of course: Ral needed the corsair girl to find the Black Moon’s base and the only way to get the information was to take her along. So one night, as the lightning crackled overhead and the rain pounded on the roof of the girl’s cage, a carefully aimed shot from Ral’s blaster removed the padlock from the door. Ral had to forcibly pull the terrified girl from her prison and then shove her, kicking and screaming, into the waiting speeder that he’d "borrowed" for the occasion.
Ral sped through the storm to the spaceport and his waiting ship. He’d told Vandos Krell to be ready to lift as soon as he arrived, and the Red Silk’s pilot followed his instructions to the letter. As soon as Ral and his still struggling passenger were aboard, the aging Byblos Drive Yards L-2 freighter rose from the deserted landing field and then shot into the gloom on her oversized sublight engines.
As the Red Silk slipped into hyperspace space headed for Icemax, Ral began the difficult task of trying to win the corsair girl’s trust. At first she merely huddled in a ball in the corner of her small stateroom, but gradually Ral was able to coax her into doffing her tattered, filthy rags and donning the spacehand’s coverall he’d given her. Half starved from her diet of scraps, her stomach initially rebelled against real food. Even after she accepted – and could keep down - the meal Ral gave her, the girl still refused to speak. Ral was just about to give up until the girl awoke screaming from a nightmare. He attempted to hold her in his arms to comfort her and she responded by struggling at first, but then her protests gave way to sobs and she embraced him tightly.
Finally, after she’d composed herself, she began to talk.
Her name was Tiana, and the corsairs had abducted her along with her mother and sister when she was barely twelve. She’d watched in horror as they were sold on the auction block, a fate she’d only narrowly escaped by convincing a young corsair to keep her as his "pet". In the years that followed she’d endured a hellish, humiliating existence, but had gradually earned the corsairs’ trust and worked her way up from slavery to being a full-fledged crewmember. She never intended to make piracy a career – she only wanted a chance to go dirtside unsupervised so that she could escape. The raid on Rhyax had been her first, and she’d attempted to slip away from the corsairs only to be captured by the miners.
Breem didn’t believe Tiana’s story, but she offered to prove her innocence by helping them rescue the captives from the raid on Rhyax. There was just one problem: Tiana didn’t know the location of the corsairs’ base; they never told her. But she did know the name of one location they frequently visited to obtain supplies and recruit new members: Mos Eisley spaceport on Tatooine.
It wasn’t much to go on, but it was a start.
The above story includes terminology and concepts from the "Gor" series of science fiction novels by John Norman. STAR WARS is TM and © 1996 by Lucasfilm Ltd. Any use of copyrighted material or trademarks anywhere in this story should not be viewed as a challenge to those copyrights or trademarks. This original story is the intellectual property of Free Trader and is intended for personal, non-commercial entertainment only.