4 BBY – Coruscant – Never did Arya think about passing through or even stepping foot on the heart of the Republic… er… Empire, Coruscant. Just before the Kestrel drops out of hyperspace, Qardin switches the ship to a different transponder. She’s heard stories of smugglers using different transponders to slip through blockades, but Qardin doesn’t look like a smuggler. Besides, this is Coruscant. Maybe this is a standard thing during these stressful times she thinks to herself. And the edible meat is some delicacy to some galactic diplomat. Yeah, that’s it. In short order, they’re cleared to land at a nondescript landing bay.
Peering out of the cockpit’s windows, she stares wide-eyed at scale and unsettling immensity of the Imperial presence. It makes her shudder. Glancing over to Qardin, this all appears to be ordinary for him (then again, his demeanor never really changes — maybe that’s an Iktochi thing), which makes her a little nervous. She thinks to herself, this isn’t right. As the Kestrel descends into the hazy darkness of the villany-riddled undercity below, she asks herself, what have I gotten myself into?
The KT-100 seems a little out-of-place in the undercity. Qardin gently sets the ship down in the middle of the pad. Other ships are arriving and departing — there doesn’t seem to be a lot of control in the area other than granting access. Before disembarking, Arya decides this job isn’t likely to be safe and changes into her personal armored body suit. To the untrained eye, her suit looks like tight-fitting travel attire — but it is far from that. Arya’s personal armor is a reflection of her armorer skill in the Echani tradition. To her order, armor should amplify the strength of its wearer, protect but not hinder, and shield but not be seen. As she pulls on her suit, she realizes the light armor she just finished crafting is a bit better than hers in many ways, but lacks some of her special tailoring. She thinks about switching suits, but opts to stick to the plan.
Once in her personal suit, she slips her set of vibroknucklers into the specifically-designed quick draw pocket. Optimistically, she designed the suit with many hidden pockets and attachment points, but she only has one weapon; she’s never been able to afford anything else. To be frank, she’s never really wanted anything else — except for maybe a light saber, but finding, let alone making one is utterly impossible now that the Jedi are gone. She’s heard about Imperial Inquisitors wielding sabers, but she never wants to come face-to-face with one to find out. She packs the light armor into her satchel, slings it across her body and dons her quickdraw cloak. With cloak on, she’s just another stealthy armored traveler in the big city.
Qardin and Arya leave the Kestrel in the capable paws of Tuk Tuk and proceed to the commercial quarter. The pair push their repulsor-assisted containers of edible meat toward the yellowish hazy glow that indicates the landing pad’s exit. As they get closer to the gate, Qardin stiffens up. “That’s new. A makeshift Imperial checkpoint. Stay close. I have documentation but if I run, you run.” Arya’s training kicks in and she instinctively scans for threats. Asset in front of me. One. Two. Three Stormtroopers. Two at short range, one closing distance. Civilian traffic beyond gate.
“Halt!” A Stormtrooper signals the duo to stop at the landing pad gate and approaches Qardin from the party’s left. The other two Stormtroopers look on from either side of the exit with weapons at rest but in a readied position. “What are you transporting?”
“Two containers of food, edible meat,” confidently replies Qardin. Arya closes the distance between the two of them and slides the second container to the left beside Qardin, effectively boxing out the Stormtrooper from them. Qardin takes note of the container sliding to his side in a uniquely appropriate tactical position.
“Transport documentation” demands the Stormtrooper. Qardin hands over a small data pad. The Stormtrooper looks it over and hands back the data pad. He grasps his blaster rifle with both hands and motions to Qardin. “Open it up.”
“But that will contaminate the meat” retorts Qardin.
The Stormtrooper leans forward with the barrel of his blaster now pointed at Qardin’s chest in engaged range. “Open… it… up.”
Reluctantly, Qardin complies and disengages the container seal. He pulls open the hinged top and a cold mist gushes out and flows down the sides of the container. Much to Arya’s surprise, the container is filled with… meat. The Stormtrooper lowers his blaster and pulls out a frozen steak. He looks at it, tosses it back and then uses the barrel of his blaster rifle to poke around inside of the container. Really? Arya thinks to herself. We’re actually transporting edible meat? Kriff.
After several agonizingly long seconds, the Stormtrooper steps back. “You’re cleared. Move along.” Qardin reseals the container and pushes it though the single-person gate opening. Arya slides her container behind him and follows but at enough distance to not minimize tactical options. She appears cool, but her mind is racing as her training is guiding her actions. Asset proceeding to safety. Threat One, short range, my immediate left flank exposed. Threat Two, short range left flank. Partial LOF. Threat Three, short range right flank. Partial LOF. Shift center right. Threat Three LOF blocked, likely has LOS. Increase container drag. She makes minor adjustments to position her and the container to enable Qardin’s escape. She adjusts the repulser handling with a quick twist of her wrist and slides her right hand to the edge of her cloak. Qardin remains focused on getting to the other side of the exit, unaware of Arya’s tactical adjustments.
Qardin exits through the gate into the crowded street beyond. Asset immediately clear. Threat One, short range my flank full LOF, Arya thinks to herself. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Stormtroopers Two and Three slip out of her line of sight. Threats Two and Three LOS blocked. She continues to grasp and push the container with her left hand and pushes it with the back of her right. She slightly angles the container to create less space to pass beside it through the gate. Just a few meters more. Nearly clear.