Humbarine was once an important planet of the Republic, being even one of its founders. It was also an important colonizer, stretching its influence beyond the Colonies and directly into the Outer Rim. Aranmir’s homeworld, G’wenee was one of its old colonies and the two shared some cultural similarities.
Unfortunately, the Clone Wars had razed Humbarine, leaving the ecumenopolis a shadow of what it once was. For Aranmir it was still perfect, because he was able to find a tattoo parlor that wasn’t shady. The place was clean and the service good, making the Padawan leave the parlor with a smile and a new tattoo for the collection that he started some time ago. He wasn’t sure when he would stop it, but so far he thought that his body could have some more.
After he left the parlor, the Tiefling went directly to the square that was the meeting point established by Knight Iamy Doffus, a male Tarsunt. He and Natalie were appointed to follow the older Jedi in a mission to investigate some crimes in Humbarine, but before starting the Knight allowed them to run around alone for a bit. Something about children needing to be allowed to be children.
Even if the Tiefling and the Human weren’t children anymore, who was he to argue for free time?
The Tiefling was the first to arrive at the square. For a decaying ecumenopolis, the place was pleasant. There was a garden with colorful flowers and trees, a nice fountain, a statue of an old king of Humabarine and some well maintained benches. Since he was the first, Aranmir sat in one of the benches and waited.
Natalie walked back to the square, a cup of hot, cheap, insta-ramen in her hands. She was shoveling the noodles into her mouth as she walked, using the Force to guide her around people. By the time she reached the square, the insta-ramen was all but gone, and she was gulping down the broth. She tossed the empty cup into a trash bin, and made her way over to Aranmir.
"You're looking happier than normal," she said, sitting down on the bench next to him. "Please tell me you did something the ball and chain over there wouldn't approve of." She pointed over her shoulder to the Knight that had brought them here. He was, for lack of a better term, an absolute drag. He'd totally win chaperone of the cycle award if the Masters were handing it out. That meant he was a complete dullard if Natalie had anything to say about it. "Or at the very least, found something we can do to get away from him."
Aranmir was humming the tune of a famous song when he saw Natalie approaching. Even with the distance, the Tiefling was able to see that she was eating inta-ramen. Since that obligatory party in Starlight, he had learned that the other Padawan had some type of obsession with this dishe. The boy wasn’t going to judge her, ramen was really good.
Even if it wasn't his favorite dish.
When she was close to him, Aranmir turned to smile at her. As always, the Tiefling ignored her sarcasm. "I got a new tattoo." he turned and moved his hair away, so the girl could see the feather-like pattern that started at cheek, went down his neck and disappeared in his Jedi robes. "To be honest, I finished it today, but I think that you understand. Doffus will probably go crazy with it. I heard him complain about people using EZPhones nowadays rather than datapads like it was in his time."He couldn’t understand why the Tarsunt complained. As far as he knew, the money of EZPhones went in the most part to the Jedi Order.
Some people seemed to be born with the desire of complain about everything.
When she asked if he had found a place that they could go, Aranmir's smile grew. "Well, I thought that you would want to get a tattoo too. Then we could explore the arcade that is next to it. I heard that they have some 18+ games here." he said, wondering if she would be interested. Without any doubt Doffus would go crazy.
Natalie ran her fingers through her chestnut hair, eyeing Aranmir's new tattoo. It looked pretty good, all things considered. Master Doofus over there would certainly throw a old-man fit over it. It had been a while since she felt this feeling, what the hell was it? Ah yes, pride. She was proud of Aranmir, whom she didn't read as someone that would give the middle finger to the man. The man of course, being archaic Jedi with archaic traditions.
Looking back out towards the city and around the square, Natalie shook her head. "Tattoos aren't really my thing. Like seeing them though," she said. "Not much of a gamer either but if it'll piss off the geezer let's do it." She would let him lead the way, brushing her black robes of any crumbs or dust that may have collected in her five seconds of sitting down.
”Then, let’s go!” he smiled, before jumping out of the bench. Looking around for the old Knight that was chaperoning them, Aranmir saw that Doffus was distracted looking at a couple making out near the fountain. By the look on his face, it seemed that the Tarsunt had seen the most disgusting thing ever. The Tiefling already imagined that he would be saying that when he was young, people didn’t act this lewd way in public places.
“Let's run for it, while he is acting creepy and grumpy.” the Tiefling barely finished speaking and already started to run. He expected that Natalie would follow him, rather than stay behind to be caught by Doffus. The Knight had noticed that the Padawans were running and immediately went after them, while screaming that children shouldn’t run in public spaces.
If they wanted to reach the arcade, the two would need to find a way of making the old Tarsunt lose their track. For a living mummy, he was pretty fast. “There is a fair down the street, we could run there. Doffus will lose us in the crowd.”
Ah, running from old men. A talent she had picked up over the years, and was very good at. Let alone just running through city streets in general. Growing up in an Ord Mantell city, you either learned how to out run and out navigate the people chasing you or you got got. Thankfully, Natalie had never been got, and she certainly wasn't about to break that streak with Master Doofus here.
"Better idea, HoloNetExplorer," she said, referring to the nickname she'd given him at the mandatory party. Once a nickname stuck, it only got updated, never deleted. Natalie grabbed the back of his robes and pulled him into an alley. Most cities had a grid network of streets and alleys, all of which had cross sections. Other cities, the alley ways were winding and like roads themselves. This particular city was the former.
Natalie waited until they got to the first cross section, herding Aranmir to turn right. Then it was as simple as sprinting down to the next cross section, and taking another right. While Jedi Knight Boring Boomer was still thinking they'd be running deeper into the alleys, they'd actually be back out on the street they were originally on, free of the ball and chain. When they emerged on the street again, Natalie clapped Aranmir on the back, catching her breath. "That's how you lose someone who's not from a city."
”What do you mean?” Aranmir asked, curious to hear what the girl was thinking about. He didn’t mind the nickname that she gave to him, feeling that it was even funny. It prompted the Tiefling to think about a possible nickname for her. Without any doubt Natalie deserved one.
He felt Natalie grab his robes and start to pull him into an alley. Aranmir immediately understood what she was trying to do. “Ah, the old trick of following a path to make your pursuer think that you took it, but you are fleeing by his back. I used it sometimes in the past.” he said, remembering his time as a street urchin in G’wenee. “Very clever, I don’t think that his cranky brain will recognize it.”
The Tiefling let himself be guided by Natalie through the alleys, and soon he couldn’t see Doffus coming after them anymore. “His old mind is probably trying to process what had happened.” he said, when they finally stopped. The Tarsunt would be running in circles while complaining about Padawans not respecting their seniors.
“Do you want to visit the arcade, or do you think that we could do something else?” Aranmir asked, before looking around. They were back in the same street from before. “I think that we could even explore the old part of the city. It was destroyed during the Clone Wars, but no one has touched on it since them.”
Natalie put her hands on her hips, turning to Aranmir. "Was really looking forward to kicking your ass in a holo-game or two, but going to a shady part of the city sounds like a lot more fun," she said. "What are we looking at here? A little bit of gangs with a side of violence? Slight chance of piracy in the forecast?"
She would follow Aranmir, where ever he lead them. Anywhere but here would be good. Their lost chaperone was eventually going to find his way back to this street, and Natalie would prefer her ass-chewings to be done after she had her fun. Nothing beat the satisfaction of seeing the last shreds of sanity leave an old person's eyes when they realized you already did the thing they were yelling at you not to do.
It was really a wonder how Natalie hadn't burned everything to the ground yet. She guessed that would be mean. Mostly expensive and would put her in debt, but also mean.
”What makes you think that you would win against me?” Aranmir said playfully, while raising an eyebrow at Natalie. If there was something that the Padawan loved more than watching criminal holoseries in his free time, it was playing video games. “We’ll play against each other in the future.” right now, he had something more interesting that they could do.
“While I was at the tattoo parlor, I heard some people saying that a gang have their base in the old part of the city, among the ruins of an old palace.” he explained, while walking toward it. “They cause problems to the locals, so I thought that we could have some action fighting against them and it would help the people of the planet.”
He walked down the street, guiding Natalie to a part of the city that barely had any person in the street. At some points, the buildings were replaced by decadent ruins, with some even being partially melted. All of it was the effect of Separatist attacks during the Clone Wars, which remained here due to the lack of interest of the local government to repair them.
They simply preferred to build a new city over parts of the old one.
Aranmir stopped in front of a bifurcation, before turning to look at Natalie. “I have no idea which one we should take.” he said, with a big grin. “Do you want to pick one? We can make it a surprise.” besides, even walking around was better than coming back to deal with Doffus complaints about young people.
"Because I'll beat you with a foam noodle again if you don't let me win, obviously," Natalie said as they walked. She was not above using noodley violence to accomplish her goal. If her goal just so happened to be beating him at video games, he'd better expect her to cause a little bit of mayhem to give her an advantage. He wasn't gonna get off that easy just because he was a good guy.
Natalie listened to Aranmir talk about the ruins. Ah yes, violence as a first step. She knew she liked Aranmir for a reason. A man after her own heart. Come to this planet with a drag of a chaperone, end up opening a can of whoop-ass on some gangsters. Sounds like a good use of time to her. Could probably even get a reward out of it. Wait, Jedi don't ask for rewards right? A free crate of ramen wouldn't hurt.
Hearing Aranmir speak again pulled her from her thoughts of noodle goodness. Two ways to go. "Here," she said, grabbing Aranmir's hand and extending it out. Natalie stepped back and gave him a little Force push at such an angle that he'd spin like a top. Which ever way was closest to where he was pointing would be it. She raised her arms and in a mock deep voice boomed, "We shall let fate decide!"
”Wait.” Aranmir said, while Natalie grabbed his hand and extended it. “What are you doing?” it would be the last thing that he asked, because the next thing that he saw was the girl using a Force push on him. Then the Tiefling went spinning like a top. This was the worst sensation that the Padawan had in a time, he was sure that he would barf anytime soon.
When his body stopped spinning, his finger was pointing at the left path. Meanwhile, Aranmir was shaking, incapable of being able to stay in the same place. He probably looked like a drunkard at the moment. “Next time that you do something like that, tell me first.” the Tiefling said, his voice sounding slurred.
The Tiefling would only walk when he fully recovered. “Well, we have our path.” he couldn’t even argue that they should have allowed the Force to show it to them. After all, Natalie had used it, even if it wasn’t the way that he had thought. “Let 's move.” he said, before taking the lead. His steps were still a bit unsure.
After walking sometime, the two Padawans would start to hear loud music and the sounds of a party. Aranmir was surprised, since it didn’t make any sense that a party was being held in the middle of ruins. By following this path, they would come in front of an old mansion. However, it didn’t look like the hideout of a gang. The place had several speeders and speeder bikes parked around it, colorful lights could be seen flashing through the windows and music was so loud that it would leave a Sephi deaf.
It was a disco.
“Okay, is it a joke?” Aranmir said, while looking at the place. In the entrance, a grumpy looking Rodian was guarding it. “Are we going to enter?”
Natalie beamed a shit eating grin. "That would take the fun out of it, though!" she said. "What would Knight Buzzkill back there say, hm? Use the Force! Trust the Force!" She waved her hands around, mocking the mystic way the old Jedi spoke. If there was one thing she hated about the Jedi more than their lack of good food, it was their vague and cryptic way of talking about the Force. Might as well make it fun once in a while.
She followed him for a while, until they came upon a mansion that was, as the youths say, bumpin'. When it came to gangs, this was probably the worst one she'd ever seen. They certainly didn't look like a gang to her. Raising a brow to Aranmir as they asked if they were going to enter, Natalie felt herself needing a few more things answered first.
"I thought you said this was a gang?" she asked. "How old were these people you talked to?" If his answer was anything over forty-five, Natalie would know exactly what this was; old-farts not liking the youths of the city going wild out in the middle of no where. There was still a chance of gang activity, so they were totally going to investigate. The situation just changed slightly. There was a scream. Natalie turned in time to see a young man taped between two mattresses getting thrown of the second story balcony. It landed flat on one of the mattresses, and the boy was fine.
"I really hate when the Knights talk this way." Aranmir said, looking at Natalie with an annoyed face. It was the first time that the Tiefling talked with his fellow Padawan without being in his cheerful demeanor. "I had my share of older Jedi using this mystic talk because they had no idea of what to answer." he trusted the Force, but was it too much to ask for a direct answer rather than nonsensical enigmas?
Sometimes he thought that the Jedi tried too much to be the new Master Yoda.
Like Natalie, Aranmir also couldn’t believe that who was inside the mansion could be a gang. There was a full party going on here. "Well, it was clients of a market in that street fair that I told you about. I stopped there to buy fresh pasta, then left it in our ship. Your talk about noodles gave me the idea of trying a recipe." he answered her, before making a pause to think about their age. "I think that they were in their late 50s." looking back to the building, the Tiefling thought that he could have understood what was happening. "Damn, the adults of Humbarine are grumpies of a high level."
He watched how one of the partygoers was thrown out of the building and fell over some mattress. Once seeing that he had survived, the guy screamed bro while people on the second floor did the same. "They seem to be a bunch of frat rats." they also seemed to be dumb, or very high on the drugs.
Taking the lead, Aranmir approached the Rodian, who looked at them with an unpleasant face. Before he could say anything, the dude started to talk. "Tell me nothing, you two are late, right? Go inside." the guard opened the door for them. The Tiefling looked at Natalie, before stepping inside.
Behind them, the Rodian complained that he didn’t receive enough money to baby-sitter a bunch of rich kids.
"You and me both," she agreed with him. There was nothing worse than a Jedi preaching about trusting in and giving oneself to the Force. It was so bad, in fact, that every time a Master opened their mouth to start spouting it in class, Natalie clocked out mentally and fell asleep. When awakened she would always say that she posing the most important philosophical question: would their lectures still suck if she slept through them?
The moment noodles left the other padawan's mouth Natalie had his face cupped in her hands, her hazel eyes looking longingly into his. "You have noodles?" It was clear she wasn't listening to the rest of what he was saying because she began to talk over him. "You beautiful, sweet, angel with an oddly demonic tail, you. Why didn't you say that in the first place!? We could have been having ramen on the ship this whole time."
Apparently her escapade didn't sway him, because he left her wanting her noodley future as he approached the house. Damn it. Guess the noodles would have to wait. At least there would be booze inside. Natalie followed him into the house, that was blasting some older but classic songs.. There were people of all shapes and sizes, all college-aged. Aranmir would feel Natalie disappear behind him as a jock got between.
"Heeeeeeeey, haven' sheeen you b'fore." His breath reeked of alcohol, his sand colored hair was a mess, and he could barely keep one eye lid open. Natalie was jealous of the level he was one.
"Yeah, I'm a new freshman," she said, playing along. She could play the cutesy college girl far easier than she cared to admit. "What's this party about?"
"Ffffffffffuckin' the man!"
"Alright! How about you get me a drink, yeah?" She said. Natalie looked around for Aranmir, which was easier said than done. People were everywhere. The jock yelled something to get Natalie's attention. She looked over just in time to see him carrying a beer in his hand, trying to leap over the table, only to slip on said table and fly through the air. The boy landed on his ass with the cup, as expected. The beer that was in the cup decided to leave the cup mid-flight on a mission and doused Natalie.
One lick of her lips told her she would have hated the beer anyway. Fucking college kids.
Aranmir stared at Natalie while she held his face. The woman was really addicted to noodles, only it could explain why she reacted this way. This realization made him regret having mentioned it. "Ehh, was it because I was going to use it to make our dinner?" he half-affirmed and half-asked.
The way that the girl looked at him, as if she was a long time without her drugs. To be honest, it was pretty scary. Rather than trying to calm her down, Aranmir slipped out of her grip and entered the building immediately. Her fate with the noodles would need to be solved later.
Immediately after they entered, the Tiefling noticed that his fellow Padawan0 wasn’t walking behind him anymore. “Natalie, where are you called?” he called, but there was no answer. Thinking about it, he concluded that it was pretty stupid of his part trying to call the girl. He would need to scream like an Ithorian to make his voice be heard among the mix of loud music and obnoxious frat members shouting around.
He decided to search for her, moving around the crowd that danced with the sound of the music. Aranmir ended up arriving at a table where a group was playing beer pong. “My gosh, it’s so cliche.” he muttered, thinking that there wasn’t anything that screamed frat party than beer pong. Or at least it was what he thought, this game was always present in holomovies about college parties.
By this point Aranmir was already expecting a filming crew to appear from a corner and say that he had invaded a movie scene.
“Bro, are ya’ ne’ here.” Aranmir turned to look at who had called him. It was a buff Pantoran with eyes so red from drugs that he could easily pass off as a Chiss. “Do ya’ wan’ to play?” while he talked, the Tiefling could smell alcohol coming from his mouth. “Or do ya’ wan’ some?” he showed to the Padawan a bag full of bright green powder. It probably was the drug, but he never saw something like that.
Taking the Padawan silence as reluctance, the Pantoran smiled at him. “Chill, bro. It is a ne’ bre’.No risks.” to prove his point, the guy smelled some of it. He let out a loud moan, before making a dumb face. Aranmir thought that all the guy’s brain cells that were still functional died right now. “Big bro is so clever.” the frat member said for no one in particular.
“Who is Big bro?” Aranmir finally said something, but at this moment the music stopped and the lights went out. The crowd started to scream ‘big bro’ several times and a light illuminated the stage revealing a Zilkin. The people around the Tiefling screamed even louder. The Padawan question was answered.
And he remained dumbfounded with the fact that this ‘big bro’ was probably the smallest drug dealer that he ever saw.
The jock was crying, writing on the floor. The beer pong table he had tried to leap over was broken. There was bear that might as well have been piss every where. Natalie shook what she could of the bear that had been spilled on her off as she made her way to what was obviously the liquor cabinet. She opened it, finding enough bottles of different liquor to make a decent cocktail. The downside was that there was only enough of each bottle to make one, small cocktail. The rest of the cabinet was filled with cinnamon whiskey, and fuck that entirely.
Within seconds Natalie had her small cocktail and shot it back. The warmth hit her chest, and suddenly being covered in some two-pump-chump's beer didn't seem so bad. The kitchen was getting stale though, with a lack of pong and everyone fussing over a well deserved broken tail bone. Natalie made her way to the main room of the party, which looked to be some sort of living room turned into stage concert.
She spotted Aranmir, which was good, but he was staring rather confusedly at a small alien on the stage. What Aranmir was thinking would have to stay a mystery; Natalie needed some dry clothes. They were in a mansion with a bunch of college aged people, there was bound to be a few of them naked she could grab some clothes off of. It didn't take long, of course. A quick trip to the upstairs hallways and she found a rather loud couple in a room. They didn't even stop when she opened the door, nice. Natalie scooped up the girl's clothes, stripped out of her robes while the couple were distracted with themselves and put the new clothes on.
It was like she walked out a new woman, dry and ready to continue the hunt for viscious, college-aged bandits! A too small t-shirt and a pair of shorts was what she wore now. Her black robes were rolled up and stuffed in the girl's backpack, the original contents having been dumped out, save the drugs. Her lightsaber rested just on top of the robes in the zipped up back that was now securely on her back. She made her way back to Aranmir, stepping up beside him.
Natalie’s voice startled Aranmir. He turned to look at the girl, wondering if she had materialized next to him from thin air. The Tiefling also noticed that her clothes weren't the same that she was wearing earlier. “What happened to you?” the Padawan asked out of shock, rather really wanting an answer.
He turned to look at the stage, where the Zilkin was now walking around as if he was some type of pop star, while the crowd remained screaming. “I discovered that these…” he looked around, still unsure of how he should describe them. They weren’t the gang that he had expected. “people are using some green-colored drug.” the Padawan pointed to the guy next to him, who was still under its effects. “From what I could understand, it was made by a big bro.”
Then the Tiefling pointed at the stage. “Since everyone around is screaming big bro to the Zilkin like some type of Frat Cult, I believe that he is the dealer.” it was all based on suppositions, but everything seemed to point toward it. “By the way, this guy is probably the smallest drug dealer that I ever saw. He could easily hide as a table decoration if the police appeared here.” Aranmir whispered to her, while using his fingers to simulate the alien’s size.
“By the way, did you discover anything?” he asked, wondering if during the time that they separated, Natalie would have found something too. Well, something besides a new outfit. The Tiefling was still amazed with the fact that she was able to pull it from nowhere.
Natalie turned to Aranmir. What happened to her? Oh she'll tell you. "Well first I was carted off by some jock who decided the best way to give me a drink was by breaking his own ass and throwing the beer onto me. Then I got lost upstairs and ended up in a room where a couple were going at it. The girl was totally faking it but that doesn't matter. Got a change of clothes, and now I'm here." Of course, she left out the part about making a small cocktail for herself to pound. Somethings were better left as her own little secrets.
"Green drug, huh?" Natalie looked around finding that some people were pouring a green powder into drinks and taking shots. "I'll be right back." Natalie marched over to a girl that was pouring drug into a shot glass of what looked to be cinnamon whiskey. Taste buds and standards forgive her, Natalie snatched the shot and threw it back. The heat hit her chest, the burn turned her mouth to fire, and her entire body wanted to convulse at the intake of such a sick joke of an alcoholic beverage.
She made it back to Aranmir. "Alright, I tried some. Now we waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-" time seemed to slow down. Her pupils dialated, and her body froze. Oh no. She could see sound waves of color. The fiery spawns of demons dancing and chanting for Bergerbro, the lord of all demons underneath them. Such a tiny demon lord, such a cute demon lord. His silent words of wisdom, carried to their minds by his waving hands, rang true in her mind. Yes, Bergerbro was indeed the father of all. If only he'd notice her in the never ending, chanting crowd of his subjects.
Aranmir blinked while Natalie said everything that happened with her in only one breath. He wondered if she didn’t need oxygen. “Okay, you had some bad moments.” the Tiefling said, but it was a total lie. Beyond some words like jock and people doing things upstairs, the Padawan didn’t understand anything that she had said. However, he already knows her enough to not ask the woman to explain again.
“Yes, a green powder.” he explained, while pointing at the small bag that the Pantoran next them was helding. When he turned back, the Tiefling saw that Natalie was walking away. “Wait! What are you going to do?” Aranmir asked and saw with horror the woman drink one the shots that were spiked with it. Now he was sure that his fellow Padawan was completely insane.
He rushed at her, but Natalie was already lost in the effects of the drug. “Why did you try it? Do you want to die?” Aranmir screamed, while she started talking nonsense. “By the Light, woman! You are a Force user! Use it to detox yourself!” the Tiefling shaked her, trying to make the other understand what he was saying.
While he tried to make her return to the right state of mind, one of the still intact windows exploded. Through it came the Rodian baller, who soon fell to the floor out of commission. After he came spinning in a jump a very familiar form, which made Aranmir become pale. Knight Iamy Doffus landed on the floor gracefully for a 100 years old Tarsunt. “Where are you, unruly Padawans? Show yourselves!” he said, brandishing his lightsaber.
The crowd erupted in panic, with people screaming to all sides. Without much time to think, Aranmir grabbed Natalie and ran with her alongside the rest of the partygoers.
She was a Force user? What was the demon boy talking about, and why was he paying attention to her but not Bergerbro? What had she done to deserve this punishment of the cold shoulder. It was then that a hermit crab wielding a glowing stick leapt over the crowd. Wait, she was a Padawan! Oh right! She was a Force user! And this new hermit crab obviously a dark sider by the looks of things. Being all aggressive when all anyone ever wanted was for Bergerbro to notice them. Natalie had to do something.
With the Force as her ally, she began throwing glasses and bags, pretty sure there was a small child or something she threw, all at the evil hermit crab. In reality, she was just using her hands and grabbing random objects to throw at the aggressive Jedi Knight. Of course, one of those objects just so happened to be Big Bro. The sight of Big Bro crashing into the Jedi Knight set the crowd into chaos.
Soon it wasn't just Natalie throwing things at the Knight, it was everyone. Not even his Jedi reflexes could save him from getting pummeled and knocked out by fifty angry teenagers. Natalie had started a revolution against the actual man and the entire time she thought she was having an epic battle with a hermit crab.
The chaos continued, even after the Jedi Knight had been felled and tied up to await his reawakening. Natalie would disappear from the crowd. Aranmir, when free of the clutches of the party and deciding what to do with the aggressive knight, would find her face down in the dirt out front of the house, snoring loudly.