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Jan 27, 2021 8:02 AM
the phantom menace
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"No," Qui-Gon murmurs.  "I don't like this place either."

He'll look around, he'll poke his head in a few more shops.  But not many places in the outer rim stock parts for star-yachts.

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In fact, the general consensus is that the shop he first poked his head into is the only one with the parts, and almost none of the others would take Republic credits anyways. (One proprietor falsely claims to have the parts; he's blatantly trying to cheat them, though.)

The people here are poor, even the free. There's a sense of desperation, of sorrow, of angry determination, of exhaustion.

Something feels off with the air, too, a heavy warning of possible danger - a thin thread guiding out of it - 

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And the slave woman from earlier, helping a woman selling small hand-carved jewelries from a carpet (not even a stall) pack up her things. She looks up at Qui-Gon and R2D2 before they even get close, gaze sharp - and then something in her face softens when she sees them.

She rolls the last few things up, hands them to the old woman, and strides to catch up with Qui-Gon and R2D2. "There's a sandstorm coming, sir," she says, gaze down in a way that could be mistaken for demure but feels - not quite that.

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He frowns.  "We should get indoors.  My friend especially."

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"Do you have shelter nearby?"

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"We have a ship, but it's some ways outside of town."

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"You won't get there in time."

"My home is nearby, though."

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He glances at R2.

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R2 whirs an accepting tone.

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"We'd be honored," he says.

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She nods, says, "This way, sir," and leads the way quickly through some alleys, to a brown stone hovel in a crowded, noisy part of town. She enters last, after Qui-Gon and R2D2. The wind's notably picked up by the time they're inside, stinging sand already carried on it. It promises to be a bad storm.

The hovel's small, only two rooms - a communal area and what appears to be a simple bedroom off to one side.

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"Thank you," he says.  "...I apologize for not introducing myself earlier.  My name is Qui-Gon Jinn, and this is R2D2."

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"It's good to meet you both," she says, softly. "I'm Shmi Skywalker."

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"It's good to meet you, Miss Skywalker.  Thank you again for protecting us."

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"You're welcome," she says. "You seem like - decent sorts."

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He smiles, at R2 and at her.  "We do what we can."

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She nods. "We don't have much good food, here, but I have enough for hospitality..."

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"Thank you, but I'm not hungry," Qui-Gon says.  "And I wouldn't want to tax you."

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Small smile. "It wouldn't be a large problem. But I won't force food upon you."

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He grins.  "I appreciate it.  We should get in touch with the ship, let them know we'll be delayed.  R2, would you mind opening a connection?"

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Agreeable beep, and R2 starts up a (somewhat full of static, given the storm) holo-call.

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A blue holo-shape of a slender, serene girl crackles to life.  "Master Qui-Gon?  Is everything all right?"

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"Queen Amidala," he says, and inclines his head.  "R2 and I were caught out in a sandstorm.  A local woman named Shmi Skywalker has kindly offered us shelter, but I suspect we'll be some time before we make it back to the ship."

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"All right," says, apparently, Queen Amidala.  "Thank you for telling me."  She turns to Shmi: "And thank you, Miss Skywalker, for offering R2D2 and Master Qui-Gon your home.  I hope he didn't trade on my name to get it."

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"It is my pleasure, ma'am. He didn't mention you at all, actually - I informed him of the coming sandstorm and offered him my home when it turned out his ship was too far."

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