The Job

5 BBY – – As Arya approaches Qardin, she notices his head slightly tilted down, eyes closed to just before a squint and he's slowly tapping his left middle finger with his thumb in a 3 taps-in-8 pattern. On the surface it seems like a cordial and professional discussion, but Qardin's tells say much more. Qardin wraps up his negotiation with a group of academics from the Hanna Institute of Antiquities. She stays in his shadow until the client party departs.

“I don't like civilian transport jobs. They're a pain.”

Qardin, normally an Iktochi of few words, grumbles about taking the job along their entire walk back to the ship. Arya learns that cargo runs are increasingly scarce as the Empire is cracking down on independent traders. While they could wait for something, money is tight and transporting people is a quick way to pay the bills. The plan is to transport a research team of two scholars and a droid to Jedha. Once there, the team will be contacted by a representative from the Church of and guided to a research site within Jedha City. Arya and Qardin are expected to hang out for a few days and then transport the team back to once the research is complete.

In contrast to Qardin, Arya's perspective on the trip is a bit different.

of the Kyber! Memories of her childhood immediately come into sharp view. As a child on Eshan, Arya read about the mythical and imagined what it was like before the Jedi fell. During her training as an Echani Guardian, she sought the few texts she could find to learn about the , , and the many sects within the city.

When the Imperial extermination the Jedi reached its zenith, rumors spread throughout Eshan of Inquisitors turning from the hunt for Jedi to the hunt for organized Force users. When that happened, she and members of her Order immediately stopped seeking Jedi lore and buried their own access to . As expected Inquisitors did arrive on Eshan, but they ultimately found nothing about her Order — Force use and any objects or temples associated her Order had vanished. Like others of her Order, she stopped her training, erased any tangible signs around her, and faded into the populace as an eccentric Echani craftsperson.

While most Echani of her Order cut themselves off from , Arya found that she ultimately couldn't. For years, she hid her abilities from the public but trained in secret within the relative safety of her compound. This trip — to actually visit Jedha now, after the fall of the Jedi and the Imperial crackdown on Force users — is both a dream that inspires and a nightmare that could bring her undoing. Despite her excitement, she reminds herself I need to be very careful. I must be on my guard and I must protect. She pauses, recalls her training, and slowly closes her eyes. I am one with and the Force is in me. Arya snaps her eyes open and continues toward the .

For no more than a second, Qardin senses something about Arya that he's never felt before. As they walk up the ramp onto the , Qardin glances at her and proclaims “you're the steward — keep them happy” and disappears into the cockpit.

A short while later the research team arrives — a female human, the lead scholar; a female , the research assistant; and a rather clanky and janky bipedal protocol droid. Arya welcomes the team onto the ship and guides them to their assigned quarters. The droid takes note of Arya's attire and her cloak in particular; she thanks the droid for noticing her handiwork. Annoyed by the droid's banter, the lead scholar demands that they be left alone and everyone quietly wanders away — except for the droid. It noisily ambles down the corridor.

Clank. Scraaaape. Clank. Scraaaape. Clank. Scraaaape.

Once in flight, Arya respects the lead scholar's request and keeps her distance from the traveling party, which is a bit of a challenge on the compact ship. She engages in small talk during meal periods but typically limits her interaction to those moments. When she encounters them in the corridor, she finds the near silent and fluid movements of the fascinating, especially in contrast to those of the droid.

Clank. Scraaaape. Clank. Scraaaape. Clank. Scraaaape.

That droid needs some serious work Arya considers offering to do some maintenance. No, they want to be left alone — not my job to fix their problem. She thinks about making some ear muffs.

The trip between and Jedha is far and will take more time than usual. Jedha isn't on any established trade routes, so they will need to rely on their astrogation skills to get them there. Qardin decides that he'll plot multiple return hyperspace paths originating above the star port — a few for each day over the week he expects the to be there. While tempted to join Qardin's fun, she explains that ship maintenance and steward tasks will occupy a her time. In reality, she'll need to find something else to do to avoid being sucked into Qardin's iterative astrogation planning.

Arya decides to spend time practicing her smithing craft. Her first order of business is to craft an armored cloak for Qardin. His cloak is a stock design that barely fits his Iktochi frame and doesn't provide much protection when things go awry. Her new design will fix those shortcomings. Next, she designs a tailored hood that does a far better job of concealing his horns. His current cloak wasn't designed for him, so when the hood is up he looks like, well, an Iktochi. She makes sure her new design addresses that, too.

Midway through the trip she finds a quiet moment to present Qardin with the cloak — he's definitely caught off-guard and welcomes the gift from Arya. He tries it on and Arya explains the hood design.

Clank. Scraaaape. Clank. Scraaaape. Clank. Scraaaape.

The janky droid appears from around a corner and takes an interest in Qardin's cloak. The droid rambles on about the importance of cloaks and how natives from five different planets would interpret Qardin's attire. Qardin and Arya patiently listen until the droid excuses itself. The familiar cadence of the droid's gait fills the corridor.

Clank. Scraaaape. Clank. Scraaaape. Clank. Scraaaape.

Clearly annoyed by the sounds of the poorly maintained droid, Qardin remarks “I did mention that I don't like transport jobs, right?” He waits for the noise to subside and turns to Arya, “thank you.”

With Qardin's cloak finished, she moves on to a next-generation design for herself. Her current field cloak was designed for day-to-day needs on Eshan and not the potentially violent encounters of an interstellar traveller. She designs a new armored cloak that offers protection, camouflage when , and flair when the situation demands it. With some clever tailoring, she creates a hood for the cloak that, when extended, exposes a black protective weave that offers her near total camouflage in dim light and when lowered, appears like a crimson woven scarf that encircles her neck and drapes over her shoulders in a manner that resembles layered feathers. In her quarters with the calming hum of the ship's systems in the background, she dons the cloak and admires her handiwork in the mirror. The black and crimson tones of the cloak are offset by her striking long white hair and pale skin.

Clank. Scraaaape. Clank. Scraaaape. Clank. Scraaaape.

Arya drops her head and stares at the toes of her boots. “The droid. Ugh. I'm not going to make it another day with that noise,” she mutters to herself. “No wonder Qardin doesn't like passengers.” Looking into the mirror once again, she spots her old cloak in a pile on the floor. She freezes for a few seconds. “Aha! If it take that and incorporate some layering, I could…” She excitedly punches the combat quick-disconnect within her new cloak — it gracefully drops to the floor, spins, and opens the hatch to the corridor. She sticks her head out, does a quick study of the droid's frame, and pinpoints the source of the clank-and-scrape — the droid's worn shoulder sockets.

She ducks back into her stateroom and after a couple of hours, fashions a short “fancy” cape from her old cloak that mimics the attire of the research party. She incorporates sound-deadening techniques to hopefully mask the noise of the droid's worn joints. Her design focuses on muting the servo noise between the droid's neck region to below its elbows, and layers the material enable free movement to minimize the chance of binding within its joints.

Shortly thereafter, Arya presents the droid with the cape and it is absolutely elated. The droid excitedly shuffles around talking about the cape's color and shape, and the historical context of top-heavy capes among diplomatic society. Arya largely ignores its banter and happily takes in the relative silence of the droid's motion. The lead scholar takes no notice, but the appears quite pleased. The noise was driving her crazy too.

Qardin suddenly appears in the hatchway, “we will be dropping out of hyperspace and landing outside of Jedha City soon.”

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