Having touched down in Hanna City, it was easy to see why the Chandrilan people were keen to see their supplies kept safe. One could feel the aura of worry among people, it seemed to float in the very air around them. No one was quite sure how far it had spread, so a certain anxiety had taken hold in the people who hadn’t seen symptoms yet. But there were many who had.
And with things on lockdown, it was hard to get things done.
Some had taken to try and make a profit from the crisis, or so it had seemed. Whether they needed them or just wanted to sell wasn’t too sure, but supplies had gone missing on the way to the worst hit areas. What exactly had happened was up to the Jedi to find out, who were escorting today’s load. Hopefully if they succeeded they wouldn’t have to be back. Hopefully the whole thing subsided soon,
“Can you feel it?” Saul asked his companions as they moved through the city blocks toward the next checkpoint “That hum of worry all around” it made him uncomfortable, as if it rubbed against his skin. They needed to keep moving and find out what was going on.
Hal didn't need to be Force-sensitive to sense the tension that threatened to overwhelm Hanna City. He could see it in the wary eyes of the survivors, or in the eerie silence once occupied by a bustling metropolis, punctuated by intermittent screaming and blaster-fire. His hand gripped the hilt of his lightsaber, which was concealed beneath the folds of his poncho. It was true that the Order was on a humanitarian mission, one that could make for good publicity, but Hal was loathe to make his presence as a Jedi obvious... doing so oftentimes attracted trouble.
"I do." Hal agreed, pale blue eyes staring out at Devan evenly from beneath his cloak. He'd never met the Knight personally, but judging from his cybernetics and what rumors he'd heard around the temple, Saul Devan was a man of action rather than words. Hal could respect that. His gaze turned over to Xalkaia, his new apprentice, and tried to gauge what her feelings on the matter were, but found the Ubese particularly hard to read. When he came up empty, he raised an eyebrow. "How're you holding up Xal?" He asked softly.
Xakaia's eyes were on a swivel beneath her helmet as the trio of Jedi walked through Hanna City. Her senses within the force still felt limited after months of training under Hal, which meant she still had to rely on her more mundane senses. The Force was… difficult for the young Ubese to harness at times, and sometimes she wondered if she would truly be able to grasp its power as her Master and the other Jedi on Ajan Kloss could.
With plague spreading through the city, medical supplies were in high demand. High enough demand that the smarter, less morally scrupulous inhabitants of the city were willing to steal them and sell them for a profit. With potential danger around every corner, Xakaia felt seriously underarmed with only a stun pistol and a stun baton. She would have much preferred a brace of blasters, vibroblades, and maybe even something with a little more oomph. But that wasn't the Jedi way according to her master.
The other Jedi Knight with them could sense the tension in the air that Xakaia felt with her normal senses, it was clear that they all could. The city was on lockdown, with many people quarantined to their homes, but there were many who ignored the order. Eyeing a pair of civilians who walked nervously on the other side of the street from the Jedi, Xakaia answered her master's quiet question. "Fine." Her answer terse as always. She considered this for a moment, Ubese were people of few words, unlike humans. Especially Jedi.
"Question. The Force. It will heal the sick?" She remembered how Hal had healed her nearly fatal wounds when they had first met. She wondered if it had the power to cure the sick as well, especially those suffering from a plague as bad as the one that had struck Chandrila. Most importantly, she hoped the Jedi could cure her if she were to contract the illness, though she wasn't sure if it would affect her biology the same way it did humans.
Saul looked over to the Ubese who joined them. Today would be an important day to make sure they understood the role of a Jedi in moments like these. He’d had to have plenty of these moments himself over the years to come to grips with his role in the galaxy, and undoubtedly there were plenty more still to come,
“The Force can heal almost anything, if the wielder has the skill” Saul offered with a smile to Xakaia “Though sometimes one might pay a price for it. Some of our allies are off looking after the worst infected right now” he added, if something happened to anyone they would be able to, and would, help, that was what Xakaia needed to know.
With that though the caravan moved out, beyond the lockdown gate to the worst hit areas. They needed to make it through the district to the aid centre. Saul took the lead at the head of the caravan, keeping his eyes spinning for dangers, his senses constantly on edge. Hopefully when the expected attack hit they’d be able to talk it down rather than resorting to violence. But that was never a guarantee.
For the moment all was quiet. Wind whistling through abandoned buildings and doors slamming as they are knocked back. It was easy to be on edge, and obvious that something was going to happen any moment now.
And happen it did. With a cry from a nearby ally, suddenly blasters appeared, two up high on decks and two bursting in in front of the caravan, blaster pointed at their heads,
Hal's head perked up moments before the cry, and he was already on his feet by the time the bandits made their presence known. His blue eyes scanned their surroundings, marking the two bandits at the vantage point and another two blocking the path of the caravan. If there were any more, he couldn't sense them.
“The cargo. Please." One of the Raiders called out to the trio, which Hal couldn't help but grin at. "Well they asked nicely..." The Knight muttered under his breath as he tightened his grip the hilt of his lightsaber, still keeping it disguised under his garb. He made his way towards the front of the convoy, confidently staring down the two bandits in the front down as he strode towards them.
"You don't want to be doing this." Hal intoned, gesturing with his free hand. He'd never been especially good with mind-tricks, but these people were simply desperate - he didn't want to resort to violence unless they forced his hand, even if that were probably the safer option for him. "In fact... you want to go back to your homes and make sure your families are safe." He glanced up at the two raiders perched up on the deck, unsure if his words would affect them as well. Returning his attention to the men in front of him, Hal spoke with more emphasis this time. "Call off the attack. It's not safe for you out here."
“We should call off the attack, it isn’t safe out here” muttered one of the bandits with a blaster, slowly lowering it down to the ground as they shook their head at themselves. Another it the side looked about to question, but realised quick that they weren’t going to be enough without their friend now,
“Come on you... you can just keep going and leave us” they called out to the Jedi. It was at this Saul stopped, and began to move over to the bandit. The tensions had clearly subsided thanks to Hal’s efforts, so he felt no fear in moving over to ask,
“What do you mean exactly? Why are you really taking this?” He could sense there was certainly more to this than met the eye. And if that c Liu of help swing the balance and help everyone, then it needed to be made clear,
“We can help, if you let us, that’s what we’re here to do” he offered calmly, trying to make clear up front his intentions,
“Well then help family!” They shouted back in frustration, throwing their blaster to the ground. The others had also lowered their weapons, and there was clearly a shared frustration in the group. They needed to address it.
Nara stepped out from an alleyway, her face a little flushed. It'd taken her a while to find their convoy route. It'd been a... trying couple of days at that. She looked quite pale, tired, grey bags around her eyes. Still, she stared with her steely browns, right at the assembled crowd of worried, opportunistic plunderers.
"I'm with these guys, and unfortunately you're holding up vital supplies and medicine. You know, I've been at a hospital quarantine unit for the last couple of days. Healing the sick. Helping the doctors perform surgeries. Helping people in their last moments, helping them pass without pain. Making sure this thing doesn't spread any further." It wasn't easy, balancing a confident, friendly tone with the edge of venom in her voice. You've not spent your time with them. You're scared, you're worried about you and yours, but I am not in the mood.
"Now, these friends of mine are just trying to get these supplies to where people need them most. The only way we can stop this and keep your families safe is if we contain it there. If you try and take these supplies, if you hold us up here for too long... well, those doctors and Rangers won't be able to keep it contained. And it'll spread. And it'll spread fast."
The people in the group looked around at each other. A couple of searching glances. Maybe even a little look of shame? But, wordlessly, they moved aside. Maybe it was some kind of civic duty? Maybe they just weren't used to being told off by tired, teenage girls. They stepped back, turning towards each other with some mumbled words.
"Thank you, you've really helped us out," she said to them as she walked past, towards the escort. She waved at Saul as she approached, putting her hand on the supplies.
"Hey. Max thought you might need an extra hand, just in case," she said, stifling a yawn. She looked back at the little group of would-be bandits, frowning. "I don't think that'll be the last, y'know. I had to walk a couple of blocks to get here. It's... not good."
Saul simply listened slackjawed as Nara spoke up against the would-be bandits. The last time he had seen her was on Yavin 4, and she had clearly healed up nicely afterwards, whatever resolve she had now hard won and present. The looks on the peoples faces only showed that.
Coming over to her as she leant up against the convoy. He could see how tired she was, their work at the hospital had taken its own toll. Healing certainly did, and he knew he was no master at it, he wondered how the Padawan had gotten on with it all,
"Sometimes it feels like nothing is good these days" he sighed and said in return "though take heart at least, you did some good already today, just as you said. It's those victories that will get us there, heal this planet" he offered her a smile, and a seat up front of the convoy for a ride. If she'd walked she deserved a rest. But he couldn't help but look at the dejected faces of those who were left to the sides now, uncertain of themselves. He had to say one last thing,
"What do you need?" he asked the leader, who seemed to be plaintively thumbing their gun until their eyes lolled back up at Saul,
"We've got... we've got the pills, but we need water, we need filters to make sure we don't spread it here that way. And until we do we've had none to drink at all" Saul closed his eyes. Desperation made desperate thoughts that much easier to entertain. He reached out with the Force to the supplies,
"Here" a small box of filters swept into his hand, passing it over to the stranger. They'd have to install it themselves, but hopefully it would go some way to helping. All they could offer was a nod back at him and Nara, before slipping back into the alleys, they understood eachother.
Nara took the seat, quite gladly. She was more tired than she'd ever felt in her life before, and that included the time she was stuck crawling through smuggling tunnels for two-and-a-half days. She leaned back in the seat, watching Saul do the right thing and give the group a small box of supplies. Just to keep them going for a little while longer.
"Doesn't feel like I did much good," she admitted, honestly as she shivered in her seat. She drew her coat round herself, watching the others slink back into the alleys, leaving them alone on a quiet street. "Trust me, it wasn't pretty. It better not spread any further, otherwise..." she said, leaving the implicit threat hanging over them.
The convoy started up again, moving further down the street. Nara's eyes flicked around, taking note of any movement. Any flicker of light, any glint off a weapon. The sound of a whispered order or the shout of attack. Her nerves were just a tiny bit frayed.
"Heads up, but I started hearing about more organised attempts to raid convoys. One going to the hospital was jumped about hald a mile from here. They took the lot and torched the guards," Nara said grimly, one hand resting on her saber. She didn't exactly expect to be killed quite so easily, two Jedi were a lot more for a mob to handle than some guards. But even then...
"I'd like to get through the day without getting shot and being rescued, again," she joked, giving Saul a small smile.
"Then we best remain on guard" Saul couldn't help but be dissapointed by the update. Though it was what they had come here to stop, he'd held a quiet hope the fewwho had met them already were all that it had amounted to. Some people were desperate, others were opportunist. And he knew that the others weren't as likely to be stopped by a flourish of words,
"Even if they do attack, we shouldn't be killing these people, not if we can help it" and it truth that went for damn near everyone, that was what it meant to be a Jedi. Forgiveness was possible, for everyone. But self-defense was always important "Chandrila should look to its own, were not executioners. I'm sure you know that though" he offered her at last with a smile, his little musings were more for himself anyhow.
But the convoy kept riding onwards, through another gate to the next zone on lockdown to prevent spread. Decontamination was long, tired, but effective if nothing else. The later district had a similar feeling to the last, eerie and uncomfortable for the lack of people. Hopping off the hovercar again, he looked over to Nara,
Nara nodded, but she didn't feel particularly happy about it. Yes, she understood the principles behind it. It wasn't like she didn't agree with it. She didn't really like the idea of killing anyone, but this was getting far too dangerous now. She didn't really much fancy the idea of getting killed, trying to be the better person. Maybe she was just too tired.
"I'll follow your lead, Saul," she said, stretching a little. Chandrila may want to look to it's own, but they weren't really in the situation to look after anything. Easier said than done when you were in the middle of an epidemic. They passed through the gates, with Nara giving another silent prayer as they passed through easily. Max'd said that those who used the Force could hold back the disease but it was nice to get confirmation.
She took in the eerie silence. Just the echoes of distant activity... none of it sounding good. The car just hovered there as she peered around. If I was a group of well-armed, desperate criminals, this looks like exactly the kind of place that I'd try and ambush someone."It was around here, yes. Though surely they wouldn't be stupid enough to try the same place twi..." she began to say, before she noticed a twinkle in the corner of her eye.
Someone moved out from the shadows. Just one man... enough to make Nara nearly burst into giggles. One man? You're really going to try and do this with one man? she thought. Then she saw the armour on him. And the heavy, repeating rifle that he held, aimed right at the car. Oh well... that's mildly more threatening. Her hand reached for her saber as the first blast hit the car next to her. Nara ducked and tumbled out, firing her saber up as she stood, staring at him.
"Now, how's about you hand over that car full of supplies, little Jedi?" the guy yelled, cheery and good-natured as he aimed he blaster between the two of them.
As the blaster wielding bully fired away at them, Saul leapt from his seat off to the side as he drew his lightsaber, blaster bolts smacking against it and ricocheting everywhere.
He had little time to call back,
“Put that blaster down you fool!” Saul cried back, his harsh, part mechanical voice straining against his rebreather. Whoever this was had clearly let themselves go in the chaos of it all, if they weren’t already like this. Disaster could leave people scarred, though it did bring people close. If he knew anything it was that in a crisis it was easier to see the people helping than those not.
Too bad this wasn’t one of them.
As the blaster spun up again and fired, Saul drew his blade up before him and blocked the bolts, redirecting them right back at the bandit with a sizzle and a crack as they shot across the street.
They cut close to him, who danced to the side to avoid being hit, a bolt whipping across his forearm leaving a nasty gash,
“You brute” he called back in reply. That said he was distracted, perhaps Nara could deal with him quick,
Nara raised her saber, deflecting the blaster shots aimed her way. They whizzed off towards the sides, scoring the buildings, marking the road. She focused as hard as she could, moving in-between shots, speeding up when he was distracted by Saul. Getting closer, she could see the glee in his eyes. The sadistic glimmer of something he was truly enjoying, even as two Jedi closed in on him.
As Saul was hit, Nara stopped, pulling her arm back. She breathed gently, mind poised as she took in everything around her. The air. The ground. The man. All of it. With a grunt, she shoved her hand out towards him, unleashing a push that barrelled into the man. The smile slipped quickly as he flew back, knocking his rifle out of his hand.
Nara reached out with the Force, calling the weapon towards her. It skimmed across the ground towards her, leaving the would-be attacker mostly defenceless, crawling on the ground in a daze. She saw a spot of blood on the road, where he'd hit his head, falling. Nara winced, seeing the pain glimmer in the man's eyes.
"Shouldn't have tried to shoot us then, should you?" she said, but the words didn't really have much behind them. She turned her saber off and moved over towards Saul. "You brute? Really?" she asked him, raising her eyebrow as she looked him over for any real injury.
"I doubt he'll be the only one roaming around, he could just be the vanguard. We should keep moving."
With the gun torn from the mans hands and then falling to the ground, there wasn't much the man could do at this point. Which meant they were off to a good start,
"Yeah not a phrase you hear often is it?" Saul replied to her question. He certainly hadn't been a character that one would expect to see as part of a roadside robbery. But Nara was right at least that he couldn't have been the only one. He was probably meant to shock them, and then others would join in as cleanup. They probably hadn't expected them to be able to fight back as they had,
"Agreed, let's push forward, I'll go left, you go right, keep anything from the convoy" he added with a nod, Nara seemed more than capable of dealing with any herself.
Moving into the side streets to his left, Saul kept his blade high and his senses alert for any dangers ahead. It didn't take long to find some. The sound of footsteps banged against the metal roof, and looking up he saw a gunman rushing between rooftops and trying to get into a different position. Instead, as he found himself mid air between roofs his body would be gripped by an invisible power, and dragged back to earth. He shouted the whole way down, though Saul didn't intend to do him any harm. As soon as the Lannik saw the lightsaber their gun hit the ground in a moment.