5 BBY – Coruscant – “Halt!” shouts the Stormtrooper once again.
Arya stops, pauses and slides her right hand under her cloak and into the hidden pocket of her armor. She hears the distinctive sound of Threat One's boots approaching. Assume Threats Two and Three have repositioned for LOS. Her fingers stealthily slip into the holes of her concealed vibroknucklers. She twists the repulsor grip even more to increase resistance. Qardin, who is now 10 meters ahead looks over his shoulder to see her progress. For the first time, she sees genuine concern on his face.
Qardin recognizes that things are going wrong, fast. The closest Stormtrooper has his left hand to his helmet; he's receiving orders. The other two can't be seen, but they're definitely there. Curious, thinks Qardin, she seems so calm and… unaffected.
Arya smoothly turns to her left, sliding her knuckler-equipped right hand on top of the container handle with her cloak draped over it. She uses her body to obscure its view from Threat One. She quickly determines the position of Threats Two and Three, both in line-of-sight with helmets visible, but not clear to use their blasters without shifting to an aim position. Threat One closes the distance. “Open the container.”
She pauses and looks at him approach with his blaster in the two-handed cross-body position. It could be meat. Or I could be the mule. Kriff. She calmly turns back to the container and moves her left hand to the container release. People and speeders pass between her and Qardin. Good. Asset clear with escape route.
“Halt! Hands where I can see them” Threat One firmly shouts. She freezes. Threat One behind me. Two steps and engaged. Wait for a signal.
Arya slowly lifts her eyes toward Qardin's direction and locks onto him. She's not staring at him in anger but there's something else. Cold, calm, hardened confidence. Curious. She isn't afraid, yet his Iktochi senses are off the charts. She's Echani, but there's something more. The Force flows through her like a Jedi, but she's not — she's just an old school armorer. A merchant craftsperson – a beat passes and Qardin signals:
Acknowledging with a slight nod, Arya turns her cold eyes to the left, spins and crashes her vibroknuckler fist into the helmet of Threat One. Threat One's white Stormtrooper helmet explodes into plastic shards. Staggering back with bleeding flesh exposed under the faceplate, Threat One instinctively reacts with a blaster shot at engaged range while falling back.
Arya takes a direct hit to her abdomen, but instead of dropping to the ground, she cocks her head and gives Threat One a cold, deadly stare. She spins and flips over the repulser stabilized container and drops to the other side. She's now clear of the gate and the angle of the container in the opening is providing maximum cover.
The smell of singed armored webbing stings her nostrils as the bite of the blast finally hits. Kriff! Krift. Karabast! She's definitely wounded, but her armor did its job. She mutters to herself,“Dank Ferrick. I'm good but need to be better. Ow!” She repositions herself behind the container, slides her left hand over the repulsor controls and sets it to minimum resistance. The Stormtroopers fall back and regroup, likely assuming she will return fire with a blaster. She takes off with container in tow. People scatter. Imperial blaster fire erupts from the landing pad. A couple blasts hit the container before a speeder passes between her and the gate.
“DANK FERRICK this hurts!” she shouts, shoving the pain of her wound down to keep her pace and not fall into shock. A few people notice, but they keep moving. Now I know why people have blasters — the getaway. Kriff! She tucks her vibroknucklers away and grabs her wound with her free hand to limit the bleeding. Need to blend. Need to blend… She starts weaving in and out of people to create chaos behind her. The vocalizers of the Stormtroopers recede into the distance. They're ordering people to move but luckily this is the undercity — people simply don't care.
After a few quick turns down some side alleys, she's drawn to a location with a number of similar containers. She slides the container into place, switches it off and crouches into the shadows. People take no notice and continue with their business, some tossing debris on top of her container-now-shield. A bit of debris spills over the back of the container and onto her, creating some impromptu camouflage. She can hear the Stormtroopers asking about her, but no one shares anything. This is Coruscant, the center of the Empire. Why aren't they turning us in? Why are they hiding me? …whatever. She's happy to be a ghost under a bit of trash.
A while later and confident that the Stormtroopers are gone, Arya emerges from her hiding place. She takes a moment to check the damage to her and her armor. “Dank Ferrick, I need to find Qardin.” The alley is filled with old containers like hers, “I guess I'm lucky to have found this particular place.” She pushes her container out into the commercial area and in short order, locates a monkish Iktochi crouched in a corner meditating next to a strikingly similar edible meat container.
“Qardin, you've alive!” He slowly turns his head and looks up at her.
“Arya, you are… damaged. We need to get you off the streets.” Qardin rises, scans the area and leads her to a nondescript doorway. After a quiet exchange over the door's comm panel, the door opens and they are led inside with the meat in tow.
Arya is quickly given medical attention and is introduced to obviously codenamed friends. In short order, she figures out that she's in a Republic sympathizer safe house. Qardin opens the containers and indeed, they're filled with edible meat — or at least half-filled. Below the steaks of each container is a false panel reveals a cache of smuggled blasters. With the exchange complete attention turns, as on Tanaab, to Arya and her handiwork. The contacts are impressed by her work and how her own armor survived such a close-quarters encounter. They immediately buy the sample and explain to her that her skills could be invaluable to many more. If she's interested in doing more than making armor here and there, they would be interested in having a deeper conversation — on Chandrila.
During the flight to Chandrilla, Arya further familiarizes herself with the KT-100 and makes some repairs to both the ship and her armor. Qardin approaches her and states “you need something more than you have. Here.” He presents her with a small holdout blaster.
A sheepish smile crosses her face. “Thank you.”
Before arriving on Chandrila, she modifies her armor to create another quick-draw concealed pocket for the blaster. Tuk Tuk finds the whole process fascinating.