You know, I always imagined coming back here under better circumstances.There should be a triumph. A procession. All the people she used to know, lined up in awe at the woman she'd become. Nara Allam, Nar Shaddaa gang-brat done good. A Jedi. They'd stare and whisper about when they used to know her. There'd be birds fluttering and the sun shining... somehow. On Nar Shaddaa.
When Nara opened her eyes, there was just the blinking of the red emergency lighting. The harsh flash over the front desk of the hotel. Just the right shade to really bring out the grime of the seedy-as-hell desk. A map of the walkways and warrens, assembled as best she could from her own memories and a couple of scared, desperate refugees, floated above the desk as she sucked her lip. Thinking. It didn't look good. Looking over the front of the hotel, the doors had been sealed shut electronically, with shelving and seats piled up haphazardly in front of it. The few windows out into the lower levels were... well, they were already barred before all this started happening.
"It's not going to hold," Nara muttered with a little dismay. A lot of the people in there, huddling in the crappy, dirty rooms, had fled from the slow, gnashing onslaught of the zombies. They'd come to infest the lower parts of Nar Shaddaa and Nara worried about how much they were spreading. She tapped her pad and the map updated, glowing with red where the last reports had come in.
"Okay so, the last shortwave contact was quite a few blocks away but that was... twenty minutes ago," she said, checking the logs. "You're more of an expert on their speed, but even if they're crawling on the gangways, they're not going to be far away, Master." She looked up at Oren, arms folded. A crisis and imminent loss of life had a way of focusing her mind away from quips and insults. She felt like a real Jedi, an actual adult, working to solve problems. It was just a shame that she might, y'know, end up a chewed-up corpse. Or worse, watch everyone else end up that way.
"How many have we got in here, at final count?" Nara asked him, drumming her fingers on the desk. "Maybe we could get them to the Condor? I don't trust getting them to another sector, by now some of the gangs will've locked down, they won't let anyone through without some encouragement."
It seemed that this outbreak was coming faster and faster, to the point that it was becoming a galactic wide incident. Oren had dealt with it several times himself, and had barely survived both encounters originally. But, he felt at peace considering the circumstances. They were locked in a hotel, with nearly twenty to thirty patrons and hotel works, some of them armed and others fearing for their life--but, they could be out there.
"I've stayed in worse hotels," the Jedi Master would say with a calm breath as he took a look around the room, realizing that Nara was stressing. There had to be several ways out of the building, but it seemed the front could go in at any moment. "I don't think the Condor is going to be much help on this one." He'd place a hand softly on Nara's shoulder, "Don't worry, we're going to find a way out of there."
But, that would have to wait. The sound of a megaphone could be heard from the outside. "Little Manka..Little Manka, let me in!" The voice was sharp and distinct and Nara could probably recognize it. "I don't see the vacancy sign switched off...and I reckon' I want a room," he'd laugh in his smug voice.
"There is a girl I was gonna meet...real fine, and I know what yer' thinking, but it's not like that...You see, she's a bit too young for me. I know that a certain little Jedi girl has come back to Nar Shaddaa after all these years..and she doesn't say hi, no call..nothing? I know you're in there Nara..and your little former boyfriend that kriffed me over, so what I want is really simple..you and Karn come on out and we have a chat, I let you and those fine people come on out and they can be on their merry way...or I come in there, which you don't want...and I kill each and every single kriffin' one of you...sound fair?"
Oren would peer towards Nara, listening to the voice, "Who's Karn?" He'd ask with a raised brow. Now's not the time... He'd hear murmers and a few of the patrons looked towards her with hushed tones. "Look..we're not going to let her out of there..and we're not going to let him kill us all." He'd peer around the hotel, "Does someone work here..we could possibly look for a way out the back." His eye would peer towards Nara--she had some explaining to do.
"We better," Nara muttered, more out of frustration than anything else. Trust him to be zen for the first time in years when I'm stressing,she thought, completely unaware about how much worse it was about to get when that voice started up. She heard it and stood up instantly, wracking her brain. Why do I know that voice?
"Oh. Him," she groaned as he continued with his little speech, fists balling up tight as her nails dug into her palms. "He always did like the sound of his own voice a little too much," she deadpanned as he laid out what he wanted to happen. Suddenly, three years of seperation seemed to vanish and for a second, she was Nara the street-rat, working through the next scheme, wondering who else she'd have to fight just to get the creds for her next few meals.
She took a deep breath, and centered herself as best she could. Her fingers slipped over her saber, just to remind herself. I'm not a street rat anymore and if he tries anything, he's going to get more than he bargained for.
But Karn was a complete different part of the equation. She turned to look back at Oren, her eyes filled with that same, raging fire that she'd had plenty when she was a little younger. "Karn is a mistake. Some Zabrak trash who I thought woulda got himself killed by now." Perfect, just perfect. Why not just have the walking corpses of my parents up there too? Why not have my old best friend back up, talking crap about me?He was another person who just seemed to belong in the distant past. What would he look like now? Probably still the same, just a little older. A little less stupid, if that were possible. Still in that crappy, stolen jacket. He'd be buried in that thing.
"Smugglers tunnels," she muttered to herself, before looking up at Oren. The few people around her didn't warrant her attention yet. "Smugglers tunnels, they're rife through the sector. There might be a few here, leading out. Not sure where, could be out into another sector, could be three streets down in the middle of the... well, them." Why didn't they use them to get in? Surely they know about them?Nara wondered, before shaking her head.
"I know who'd know," she admitted, stepping past Oren to look back down the hallway to the rooms. A few people were leaning around in there, looking at her. A couple more peeked out of the seedy rooms, looking unsure. There's probably a subtle way to do this, but my past has just shot straight into this like... well, like a spaceship into a swamp, so...
"KARN T'EVAK!" she yelled, as loud as she could. She didn't need the Force to make that voice heard. "YOU LOWDOWN, CHEATING PIECE OF CRAP! SHOW YOURSELF RIGHT NOW!" She looked over her shoulder at Oren, feeling slightly embarrassed.
"Uh... Emotion yet Peace, right?" she offered with a nervous smirk. "Just gonna give him a piece of my mind."
There was a little bit of silence, followed by the scraping of shoes on the floor. Slowly, someone stepped out from the back. Horns on his head. A few dark markings on his face, with a couple of scars to top it off. Wearing... a similar, but obviously newer jacket like she'd remembered. With a nervous look and slightly cautious smile on his face.
"Nara?" he asked, as she just stared at him.
"Yeah. Hi. I'd say I wish we met under better circumstances but the thought of you being in huge amounts of danger is exactly how I wanted us to meet again." She took a breath, looking over at him. "Whatever. Captain Spicemuncher out there wants us both out there for a friendly chat and a blaster to the face. But, here's the thing, we're all leaving. You've always been a piece of crap, so you'll know about the tunnels, right? They still around?" she asked quickly, her eyes almost daring him to argue with her assessment of things.
I need to blow this kriffin' joint, stupid arse Wens and his boys are lookin' for me, and ye' got the spiced out freaks out here trying to chomp down on this pretty face..All kriff to the no! Karn had always been a shifty individual, pulling small time crimes that he always seemed to get away with. He was a real charming rogue type, and had talked his way out of plenty situations.
But, if Wens was really here then they were kriffed. He heard his annoying voice from the loud speaker, but an even worse sound was the thumps and groans coming from above. There was probably hundreds of infected guests and hotel workers above, and they were looking for a way down to get all of them. The Maintenance crew had managed to seal the doors and block them off, but it wouldn't hold forever.
That's when he heard her voice, and his heart sank--he walked out of the room and found that the little Nara had grown to be taller and leaner, and more mature. His eyes shifted up and down her curves as he gave a puzzled, "Nara?" She's still kriffed off at me about that job..come on now..that was years ago.
He pushed the thoughts away, as she asked about the tunnels, "Yeah I know where they're at," a twisted smile forming on his face, "Should I be hurt or charmed at your words..It's the end of the galaxy baby and you're going to say that to me?" He'd chuckle as he moved his hand, wrapping it around her waist. "How about you and I have a quick reunion before we all get chewed up.." He had an idea that would save his skin, he always did.
Oren had so many questions, but really they'd have to wait, the crowd that Nara ran with he figured was probably bad, he knew how criminals operated from his time in prison. But, these guys..these guys seemed really kriffed up. I'm just glad you're safe with me and the Jedi Kiddo. He'd peer over towards Nara, catching the Zabrack wrapping a hand around her waist. Nashyr..give me strength to not woop that boy. But, he knew that Nara could handle herself--the others needed his help.
"Start preparing the staff to move from room to room, let everyone know that they need to start lining up in the hall..we're going to be leaving soon." Oren would say sharply to the help desk. "Assist anyone that can't move on their own two feet..I don't want anyone getting left behind."
There was probably fifteen people still left alive in the hotel at this point, and Oren would make sure that they all survived. He would make his way towards a set of couches where a single cathar mother sat with her crying child. He thought of Nash for a moment, hesitating for a second as he took a deep breath. "Shh..it's going to be okay," he'd smile towards the two of them, his flesh hand running across the little boy's black hair. "I'm here to protect you little one.." His eye would glance towards the mother as he gave a soft smile, "We're going to leave now..stay by me, okay?"
The woman would give a nod as she picked up her child, holding him tightly. The two of them would begin to walk towards the hall where citizens were gathering, when a loud knock could be heard from the lobby doors. "I'm going to give you one more chance..Nara and Karn, get your arse out here!"
Hearing Karn's voice again brought her back to being fifteen and stupid. The smell of cheap street food and dirt filled the nostrils. The sound of machines grinding to a halt after she tinkered with them, racing quickly through vents to liberate some equipment. Laughing as they screwed more creds out of their fence. The looks she used to get from Karn...
I was such a massive idiot I can barely even believe it.
The look he gave her then sent a massive shudder running through her. Made her feel vaguely disgusting. She tried to fix a smile on her face as he came closer, trying to play that same charm he'd always had. Trying to speak to her like she was just some stupid little street rat with big dreams, talent and no common sense.
Looks like one of us has grown a little more than the other, huh?
When he put his arm around her, Nara just smirked and waited. One second. Two seconds. Three...
Then she grabbed his arm and twisted it round, leveraging some of her new strength as she turned out of his grip. She slammed him against the grimy hotel wall, a grim look on her face.
"Listen here you absolute piece of scum," she hissed in his ear, her knee wedged right up in his back. "I don't know what happened on this hole of a planet since I was gone, but it's pretty clear that you haven't changed a bit. So here's what's going to happen. You're going to show us where those tunnels are, because I'm a Jedi now and if there's one thing that Jedi do, it's get people out of bad situations. You want to get out of this alive, without having your ass handed to Wren? Then you show my Master where the tunnels are and we all get out here without being eaten. Or murdered."
With a sigh, she pulled away from him and grabbed her saber, twirling the hilt in her hand as she looked out back towards the front. Back to where the voice was coming from. "Show him. I'm going to go and have a friendly talk with our uh... old friend," Nara groaned, wondering if she could delay him enough. Wasn't exactly how she expected this to go down. Honestly, the walking dead would have been a lot easier to deal with by that point.
She gave a quick look to Oren as she stepped towards the entrance, trying to peer out. Sorry Master. It's this place, it does things to me.
Karn felt the Jedi Knight grab at his arm, twisting it back, and with it came a loud howl escaping from his lips. She was always a fire spirit, and had the anger of a Nexu Cat. The Zabrak peered back with a scowl, "You always were crazy Nara..." He'd spit as he felt her knee run of his back. "The Jedi were supposed to calm people and you're over here threatening my life...Get a grip. Narr."
He knew the situation was out of hand and if he wanted to survive, then he'd have to work with the old powder keg and her Master. "Alright, Alright..get your people over here and I'll start leading them towards the tunnels."
A few maintenance workers ran past, "The upper floors aren't going to hold out! We need to hurry!"
"Get your Master moving, we need to go!" He'd watch the girl take off, still frustrated with the way she treated him. Her actions would cause him to seek revenge, and he would lightly click on the button to his communicator. "I want to talk to Wens.. Let me talk to him..I've got an idea."
The Jedi Master watched with concern as he heard the confrontation between Nara and her former friend. This mixed with the events that transpired during the funeral ceremony had left the Jedi Master worried for her own safety and well being. He watched as she came back into the room, the Cathar woman and baby in line with him. "Where are you going?" He'd ask sharply.
"Opening that door could expose this whole place to the infected...we need to get them out of here," he'd say with a sigh, as he moved closer, grabbing her arm. "Nara..you're a knight now, these people are looking to you to calm them, not for you to give into your petty urges..We're going with your friend, do you hear me?"
He could hear the snapping and groaning from above, "Go with your friend and lead the way, or do you need me to lead this for you?" He didn't like being harsh, but it was clear something had been bothering the young Nara for sometime. Did I fail to teach her? What was even stranger was that speakers and the voices from outside seemed to stop, and Wens was nowhere to be seen.
"The Jedi are supposed to protect people too. From themselves, with force if necessary. And I am not taking lessons on how to be a Jedi from a lying, cheating piece of..." she spat back in reply, interrupted by Karn and the shouting. The anger dissolved from her face, replaced with concern. She felt Oren grab her arm, speaking to her. His words registered slowly, as if sinking through a haze.
"Yes. Yes, I hear you," she replied. She had to stifle the comment that'd been forming on her lips. It wouldn't be right. Besides, she knew she'd messed up. Shaking her head, she took hold of her saber-hilt, nodding. "Yes. I'll go. Sorry," she mumbled, trying to clear her head as she nodded towards the door. The noise was getting louder above, and Nara looked around at the people with a tiny hint of panic in her eyes. Stop dwelling on your stupid ex and deal with the situation at hand, her brain yelled at her. Everyone's a critic today.
"I'm sorry about what you just saw," she called out, looking at the collection of worried Nar Shaddaa civilians. You've seen worse, I know you have, this counts as gentle foreplay round here, but maybe not the best time for it. "But the danger remains and we all need to move. Please, calm as you can, try to follow us. I'll lead with... him," she said, sparing the swears for a moment, "while my Master follows the rear. We'll protect you," she vowed, fingering her saber hilt again.
With that, Nara took point, making sure Karn was close by. She hadn't been in the smugglers tunnels for years, she didn't know where the entrance was. A dash down some steps and towards a hastily-welded shut door. She looked at Karn quickly before holding her saber up to it. "Cover your eyes. And don't breathe it in," she told the people behind her as she ignited it, the red-bathed room mixing with the sapphire-blue of her blade. The metal squealed as it melted around her saber. Nara sliced down slowly, forcing the cheap welding-job to part open, down into darkness. Pipes, cables and fans peppered the tight hallway ahead.
"Keep moving, carefully. The tunnels are tight but I'll make sure there's nothing waiting for us," she yelled back, descending into the tunnel. Holding her saber aloft to light the way, guiding everyone with her blue light. I swear I have put on a ton of weight, they didn't used to be this kriffing tight...Nara thought to herself as she scraped by pipes and singed her arm on heating conduits.
Oren sighed as he felt felt the pain and anger still radiating off of his former apprentice, this must have been hard, returning home for the first time in years and encountering the ghosts of her past. He often wondered what it would be like if he faced the same situation, though he knew that would never be possible. "Calm yourself and take a breath, things are going to be okay." He'd say as she moved to apologize to the people.
It wasn't the fact that they had seen worse, it was the fact that she was supposed to be leading this people while the dead were on the little doorstep. No one had truly faced this situation and it seemed that Nara failed to realize that. Oren would regardless let her lead the way as he motioned towards the people to begin to line up, taking the rear and watching the doors that lead to the lobby buckle. "Single file..move quietly and keep moving."
He'd motion towards them, helping them down into the sewer as he heard the dead clashing at the door. "Don't stop and don't look." He'd say as he helped the last person down before pulling the sliced door with the force over the top as he jumped down into the black murky depths. He could hear the door breaking open, above and the sound of a sea of footsteps pouring in above them. "I don't know how long that door will hold, so keep moving." His hand would ignite the white blade of his saber, holding it up as he walked backwards--his eye focused on the door they came from.