7 ATC / 1335 YE
It had been nearly several hours of flying- well, sitting around waiting for Little Red. Over the course of that time, she had learned that hyperspace travel was very boring. The droid had done all the calculating for her, and all she needed to do was push a few buttons every once in a while and the ship went off on its way again. The hyperspace patterns were pretty but also dizziness-inducing, and the droid frequently chirped at her to be wary of staring at them for too long, as people have been known to go insane over staring at such patterns over lengthy jumps.
Little Red didn't understand the droidspeak directly of course, but by being plugged into the ship's systems, the astromech droid could translate through the computer and communicate with her. Its last three messages have consistently been "For your own safety, please look away from windows while in hyperspace transit." It was like one of those annoying spaceport announcers. This time, however, its words were different. As the old freighter exited hyperspace once again, text once again popped up on the screen but they did not give her the same reminders on what buttons to press.
Instead, it read: "Fuel reserves low. Recommend next jump to location where refueling is possible. Nearest en route destination identified as planet Ryloth."
"Aww man... really? Well... don't we have to like - y'know - pay for that and stuff?" came Red's exasperated reply, to which the droid gave an affirmative beep as it's message appeared in text on the screen, "I did try to tell you". Red frowned and bopped the droid on top of it's domed head, "Not helpful, alright!" The droid beeped a further message out which slowly transcribed across the screen, "Also miss; there is a ship approaching on sensors" "What?!" Red spun around in her seat and worked furiously at the controls, "Quick, man the guns, evasive maneuvers - take them out!". With a sorrowful 'woooo' the droid informed Red that it could do none of these things. "Well just exactly what good are ya then anyway?" she snapped. "Ahem" came a third voice. Red looked around puzzled. A whistle followed, drawing her attention to the screen on the side of her controls where she saw a masked pilot raise a hand and give a small wave, "Vedui'! Uma, tanya's ta - ndu sinome" (Hello! Yes, that's it - down here). Red's head quirked to one side as she looked as the alien, "Errm... hello?". The figure wagged a finger at her and took on a stern tone, "Uma lle sinta sut hard ta nae soora lle tuulo' Port Nowhere? lle nae intye feith- eller ten' amin!" (Do you know how hard it was track you from Port Nowhere? You were supposed to wait there for me!). At which point it dawned on Red, "Oh right... ya must be tha' nice Imp ladies friend right? Yeah I... kinda figured after a while ya weren't comin'. Can't just sit around forever ya know!" Keelah checked her own instruments briefly, "Eithel lle nauva sittien pelu sai- manka lye il- karna lle quante de. Khila amin a' ryloth" (Well you will be sitting around plenty if we don't get you filled up. Follow me to Ryloth). As she spoke, she poked at her console and soon afterwards, Red's droid chimed in again with another text message on her screen, "Co-ordinates received. Do you want us to follow her?" Red looked at the droid and paused with hesitation, "...sure, guess we can't really do much else now can we..."
"Red, who is that you're talking to?" Hanna Swan entered the cockpit, looking around for the second voice she heard but seeing only the girl and the astromech. She took another step and leaned over the copilot's seat, eyeing the various displays, specifically the communication logs. The translation of Keelah's dialogue was still recent enough to be fresh on the screen, and upon skimming through them the young doctor knew what had happened. "Oh! We were supposed to meet her on Port Nowhere?" Hanna exclaimed. "I must've completely missed that, having decided to come with you last minute and all. Sorry about that. Well, I should probably save the apologies for her." Sliding into the copilot chair, she read through the text more closely this time, catching up on their situation and destination, "So we're headed to Ryloth. That's still technically a Republic world, but it's always been a pretty seedy place. I read an article about the slave trade being stronger than ever now with the Republic on its back foot and the Empire doing that kind of business and promoting its pro-slavery agenda. Not much safer than Port Nowhere there."
Red nodded - a disgruntled look still on her face, "Yeah... tin can there said somethin' about low fuel so we gotta go fill up. The funny talkin' lady in tha' ship we was meetin' - she sounded like she was gonna take care of it an' all that... sure hope so, 'cos I ain't got /nothin'/ to pay with! Unless..." her head slowly turns to eye the astromech. It picks up on the sudden pause and it's head rotates to face her. The expletive beeps that followed required no translation via the text screen, and this brought no end of entertainment to Little Red, "Oh don't worry yaself so much - ya too cute to trade anyhoo!" As they laughed alongside their good fortune, the freighter made the short hyperspace jump to Ryloth, closely behind Keelah's small fighter.
"Actually, I've got this," Hanna stated once she had finished laughing, reaching into one of the pockets of her vest to pull out a small credit chip. "Nicked it off a pirate on Port Nowhere back when I wasn't sure how to proceed and figured I could use some credits just in case. Pretty sure he didn't get it legitimately either, but since I don't know who the rightful owner of it is, I'd rather use it up here rather than have it in the hands of someone like him. It's not much, but it should get us somewhere." Her gaze trailed up to the window in front of them only to be yanked back to the terminal as the astromech beeped out another warning about looking into hyperspace patterns, causing the doctor to chuckle, "Don't worry, I'm well aware of hyper-rapture theories. A lot of psychiatrists don't even believe it's a real thing as there's been studies showing people withstanding the sight. Personally I think staring too long could cause some psychological effects, but it's not hyperspace that's the central cause, it's the person's own psyche. You know, like how some people snap under extended isolation, but others manage to maintain their sanity?" "Anyways," she looked back to Little Red, "Ryloth is a busy place, and we'll find a way to get some credits if we really need to. Preferably legitimately; I don't like to take anything of real importance, usually I do it for little trinkets as souvenirs. But we'll manage, I'm sure."
As their ship exited hyperspace, the view of a large planet immediately came into view. The sphere in front of them comprised of a mixture of green, brown and white, the latter largely being clouds that hovered above in the atmosphere of the planet. Almost no blue was present; though on the darker side of the planet facing away from the sun there were small patches of white that did were not swirls of vapour but frozen lakes.
The droid began to whirl and chirp once more, its words being translated on the screen: "Contacting local spaceport authorities for landing permission. You expressed interest in flying this ship. Do you want to engage autopilot landing or do it manually?"
"Do you even know how to land this thing manually? Hanna added to the droid's question.
"How hard can it be?" The young girl grinned as she disengaged the autopilot and took the controls. "Wooooaaah she's got a far arse!" She exclaimed as she tried steering the ship with a steep veer down towards the planet. The sharp movement - although not jerky - was still enough to put the droid off balance as it wheeled backwards and out of the cockpit with a wail. "Quit ya moanin" Red called back as she concentrated. "Just gettin' a feel for her!" Keelah's small craft arced around the erratically flying freighter. She watched as it gradually came under control but observed the high speed of descent. She followed it down and as the freighter neared it's landing pad she reached out through the force and steadied the ship to a gentle stop. Bringing her ship down next to it, Keelah was already out when the ramp lowered to reveal an excitable small red headed child bounding down the ramp ahead of Hanna and the astromech, "See!" Red declared with glee, "I told you I'd nail it!". Keelah simply lowered her face into her hand with a slow shake of disbelief.
"Yes, I'm...glad we're still in one piece," Hanna replied, looking more at Keelah than Little Red as she spoke. "You should probably remain with the ship. A rough place like this isn't safe for an astromech," she said to the droid which let out a series of disapproving beeps which Hanna did not understand completely but knew it warranted further explanation from her. "We'll keep in touch through the freighter's comms, okay? You'll have access to a lot more resources on board and you can give us a heads up if there's anything we need to watch out for. And if anyone tries to mess with the ship, just activate the autopilot and get to orbit." As the droid gave an affirmative and turned back to ascend the ramp, the doctor made her way to Keelah, "Hello. You must be one of the agents' friends. I don't think I've been given your name- I'm Dr. Hanna Swan, by the way. How I got here is a...pretty complicated story, I can elaborate more later if you want. I'm tagging along to help our young pilot out and hopefully find a place to settle down and work my field again."
"Vedui', amin naa keelah!" the alien confirmed through the muffled voice of her flight helmet, "Amin sinta ya lle naa, amin'm saese amin-aya utua lle!" She continued to rattle on happily. Whether she was blissfully unaware of their lack of understanding, or simply did not care was anyone's guess at that point. While the chirpy alien reached up to remove her flight helmet, Little Red looked up to Hanna with a slightly bemused shrug of her shoulders.
The flight helmet was removed to reveal the distint facial features of the Sephi girl - for those at least who were familiar with the lesser seen species - a cascade of dark hair falling down her back beyond the long pointed ears, and the racial markings to each temple. The tattoos underlining each bright eye would almost be considered insignificant to any but the even rarer few who were familiar with her particular sub-sect of the species who heralded from the moon of Ithil, and it's fierce protectors; the Moonguard. As she shook her long mahogany hair loose, Keelah looked between Hanna and Little Red and - in that moment - she seemed to realize from their blank looks that she had forgotten something.
With a slight chuckle and a roll of her eyes, Keelah fumbled around the various pouches attached to her belt until she found what looked like a collection of small buds. She held them out in her open palm before taking one and popping it into her ear. Standing back and waiting politely as Hanna and Little Red followed suit, she tried again "Hi, I'm Keelah!" her voice now chirped through their ears in the sound of basic thanks to the devices they each now wore. She looked to Hanna, "And yes, I know who you are, doctor; I am more relieved that I was able to find you both still!" she chuckled.
"Sorry for taking off," Hanna replied with a chuckle in return. "I kinda wasn't informed that we were supposed to wait for you, or else I would've reminded Red here to wait. You're Sephi, right? I've only ever seen one Sephi before and he was a little different- had purplish skin and was a lot taller, but he had the same ears. Is it gender related dimorphism, or subspecies, perhaps? Forgive me if I'm totally wrong." She looked at Keelah with curiosity, expectantly waiting for confirmation or denial of her hypothesis.
Keelah's blink of surprise left little to question on her reaction, before her face lit up with an impressed smile, "You could call us a subspecies; I am a Moonguard from Ithil. I confess doctor; I did not foresee your familiarity with the Sephi. This is a welcome surprise" her smile held as she indulged in the rare opportunity to share in memories of home, as she traced a finger across the spots on her temple, "This are indicative of Ithil-born, that and our paler flesh which is more familiar to humans perhaps" she paused and traced and fingertip over the tattoo beneath one eye, "This is the mark of the Moonguard; one bore by choice not birth" she stood back slightly and continued to beam with interest as she looked to Hanna in the hopes of satisfying her curiosity. Meanwhile Little Red looked between the two older women and yawned.
"I wouldn't call it familiarity, only something I came across briefly while doing research," Hanna responded to the compliment. "I actually don't know a thing about your physiology, aside from your basic body shape. If we'll be working together, I can read up on that. I don't suppose most doctors outside your home system would know much about how to treat a Sephi, so having someone with that knowledge could be handy." She took a glance back as she heard Little Red's yawn and suddenly realized they were going on a tangent, "Oh, yes, refueling. Do you have any credits or local Outer Rim currency, or are we going to need to compile some?"
"Don't you worry about a thing, I came prepared!" Keelah grinned as she turned to go and find the one in charge of the landing area. As the Sephi strolled away, Little Red looked up to Hanna, "She's, ahhh... not quite all there is she?"
"You see those long ears of hers?" Hanna bent down slightly as she spoke to Little Red. "They're extremely sensitive to sound, which means she can hear for kilometres, or make out voices across the room like they're being said right beside her. She's probably heard what you said and she won't be so happy when she comes back..." Hoping that Red had not overheard the part about her knowing nothing about Sephi biology, Hanna let the information she invented linger and awaited the girl's response.
The way Red's eye grew wide gave away her thoughts, "Nah... ya kiddin' me! ...right?" Her gaze drifted back towards Keelah before snapping back to Hanna, "I didn't mean it or nothin'! But ya gotta admit... she's kinda different. Ain't sayin' it's bad or nothin' though! I think she's real nice, seein' to our fuel an' all!"
Hanna laughed as she stood straight again, "Yes, I'm joking. Well, actually it still could be true, some people have very powerful abilities. I don't know that much about the Sephi, but I'll probably do some research once we're settled down again. This one's definitely nice though! I can't say if all of her people are similar or not, but I like her."
Red narrowed her eyes on Hanna, "I /knew/ you were full of it! Totally wasn't worried. Nu-uh..." she turned away sharply, though her gaze fell back over her shoulder ever so slightly just to ensure Hanna hadn't walked off and left her, then turned sharply away again as she new she was safe. Keelah returned shortly after, "There. Both ships should be fully refueled and set to go shortly. We have a little time though so if there is anything you want to do here we may as well, or we can just wait on your ship if you prefer?"
"Either of you been to Ryloth before?" Hanna asked. "I'm told it's got a lot of unique and fascinating creatures, but the wilds aren't exactly safe to go. I don't suppose they have any sort of zoo or...creature market around here?"
Both Red and Keelah shook their heads in unison before doubletaking at each other upon realizing what they did. Keelah turned to Hanna, "But I'll bet there is a market around here we can explore if you like!" she chirps eagerly, "Come on, it will be good to experience the buzz of a crowd again!" she adds before trotting off to explore, mindful enough of the others' presence by this point that she could confidently move quite a way from the pair whilst retaining an awareness of their whereabouts and situation. Though she hoped they would tag along so she could enjoy the new company.
Hanna followed Little Red and waved for Keelah to join them as well, giving them both her knowledge of their location as they walked through the spaceport, "Ryloth's tidally locked with its star. That means one half of it is constantly facing the sun while the other never gets any sunlight at all. The side with light is appropriately called the Bright Lands, and the perceptually dark region is called the Nightlands. As a result of this, there's a lot of extreme climates in various parts of Ryloth, which in turn leads to exotic lifeforms found nowhere else."
"I wonder if this is one of those worlds where the people have all different medicinal remedies utilizing the resource of their exotic ecosystem..." Keelah mused as she continued to take in their surroundings while they walked. She looked back to the others, "...There were many such things growing up on Ithil; you might be surprised doctor, just how many tend to have a measurable basis in the applied sciences!" Red looked up at Keelah with a disgusted look on her face, "If you'se gonna tell me tha' eatin' rancor testicles is good f'ya lifespan, I'd rather die young!" To which Keelah laughed happily and continued browsing.
Hanna laughed as well before responding, "You're both right. A lot of chemicals inside the synthesized compounds we use in hospitals can be found in natural environments, some even make use of natural ingredients like specially grown plants. All kolto products for example use an exotic substance from Manaan that can't be created in labs or factories. If used properly, unrefined things that contain these chemicals illicit a similar effect to taking medicine. There are always times when inaccurate information gets passed down though, and then you end up with ridiculous so-called healing brews and what not that just taste terrible and do nothing else." The spaceport was not a particularly large one by any standard, but the trio did not manage to locate any main entrance. Instead, following the signs that read 'Ground Entrance,' they found themselves in front of a pair of unspectacular doors. An exit sign was clearly painted in Aurebesh across the top, so they pushed the doors open and stepped outside. The first thing that they felt was the rush of heat, so intense that it felt like they had just opened the doors to a furnace. The feeling of going from an air-conditioned room to a hot exterior was not new to Hanna, but not even the warmest of Corellia's summers matched this, and the inside of the spaceport was not particularly cool either, already having an unpleasant arid feel. Before they could properly register this extreme heat, the bright rays of a desert sun assaulted their eyes, blinding them for a moment. When they grew accustomed to the light, they saw before them nothing more than a small shanty town, with only one row of buildings leading into a central square. A handful of beings strolled around, most of them wearing clothes that covered their face and shielded them from the burning sun. Several of the structures around them appeared deserted, and only one market stall was in operation, selling some colourful fruits.
Hanna looked around at the sight, a confused expression on her face before a flash of understanding crossed it and she chuckled at their mistake, "Of course! Most of Ryloth's cities are built underground because the climate gets way too extreme to live in! We followed the 'Ground Entrance' signs and ended up on the surface part of the city where barely anyone goes. Come on, what we should be looking for is a lift down." Darting back inside, she breathed a sigh of relief at the cooler temperature. Hanna glanced about and sure enough, spotted another sign for 'Elevators.' Now on the right trail, they came to a series of four doors and pressed the only button available, calling a lift to them and taking it down to the level labelled 'Main Entrance.' They exited to a more proper looking lobby, and passing through that, into the underground city of Ryloth. They were greeted with the sight of a massive cavern within which an entire city was constructed. Though bearing the same stone architecture as the buildings on the surface, these structures had a sense of life to them. Various items showcasing everyday activities lay around, from tools to clotheslines to discarded junk. This was not to mention the dozens of different species around, mostly dressed in rough frontiersman clothing- a common Outer Rim sight. Being the homeworld of the Twi'leks, it was no surprise that there was a disproportionate amount of lekku-sporting humanoid beings.
Unlike the crammed tunnels of the Lannik Underworld, this underground habitat was much more grandiose. Due to space constraints, none of the buildings were particularly tall, but there was distinct artisan-ship to their make, being carefully crafted as homes and shops rather than hastily assembled from scrap metal and rotting wood. These differences made it feel much more welcoming, but for Little Red, the darkness from lack of sunlight and the cold, damp feeling of being beneath the surface were lingering reminders of Lannik's dystopian side...
Red's face lit up as she looked around the underground city, "Oh sweet! Now this is more like it!" she beamed happily, "I wonder what kinda racin' they got here..." she idly pondered as she walked ahead. Keelah chuckled and strolled in after the young girl, "So you have been to this world before?" she asked curiously of Hanna as they walked.
"Oh no, this is my first time," Hanna replied. "I've just read a lot of things. I don't know about every single Outer Rim planet, but Ryloth's a hot topic. Slavery's a bigger issue than ever now that the Republic wants to prove they're better than the Empire, and Imperial sympathizers want to refute that by showing how the Republic's turned a blind eye to such practices in places like Ryloth. I'm not sure if this city has any slave markets or anything of the sort, I hope they won't bother you too much?"
"Only if they try and recruit us" Keelah chuckled, keeping a watchful eye on Red's exploring as they wandered the city streets, "You two seem like quite the odd pairing. The agents didn't tell us much about your circumstances on Coruscant, but we saw the carnage at the tower hosting the droid conference. I assume it all stems from that?"
"More or less," Hanna said. "That was the culmination of things which were happening. Are you familiar with the Knight? He's an ex-Jedi, dresses like a Sith with a long flowing cape and armour, uses a whip-like lightsaber that I've never seen before. Apparently he's worked with the agents before, I thought you might've heard of him as well."
"Oh yes!" Keelah showed mild surprise at the mention of the Knight, "I met him briefly on our planet when the agents were there." She frowns slightly, "He is... awkward to get a read on, but I know he was very conflicted within himself" she looked to Hanna, "So he was there with you as well?"
"I ran into him on Corellia first," Hanna explained. "My father was murdered and it caught his interest, so he came to investigate. I was doing the same thing, and we crossed paths. I think he decided I'd mess up his plans too much otherwise, so he took me along with him. We followed the suspect, a Chiss Imperial agent, to Coruscant, and that's where we met your agent friends. They were after the same person, and he had supposedly gone rogue from the Empire. I also learned that his targets were Imperial operatives, and...apparently my father was one of them." "We stopped the rogue agent, he had some weird Force powers he never had before. As I said, it's pretty complicated," she chuckled. "Anyways, I'm pretty sure I was seen with the agents, and the SIS were investigating my father's death too so they must've found out who he really was by now, which puts me under suspicion. Remaining in the Republic's sure to get me in trouble, so I fled with them to Port Nowhere and ended up on Little Red's ship to lend her a hand and see the galaxy, maybe find a planet that could use more doctors."
"Most troubling indeed - I am sorry for your loss, though this business of the Chiss agent gaining Force sensitivity is... worrysome. When we get back, perhaps Laesa can help you find more information!" she chirped with a happy upturn of her tone as she watched Red explore. The young girl bounced around the various shops and stalls excitedly - and fearlessly - as she took in all the curiosities.
"I'll present all the details I'm aware of concerning this Chiss, and maybe you and your friend will be able to make a diagnosis," she nodded and smiled as her gaze turned to Red and the market stalls as well. "Oooh, is that a herbal shop, like the ones you were talking about? I wonder if you'll recognize some of the plants. Several species can be found across various worlds due to spacers intentionally or unintentionally spreading them, so something you might know from your homeworld could show up here..."
Keelah smiled gently, "It's a nice thought but few enough even pass by the homeworld, let alone the moon I come from. Still... worth browsing!" she smiles, making her way into the store. Sure enough, the inside did not present any highlights from Keelah's home though it held plenty of interest to her. She seemed to lose herself browsing the weird and wonderful wares from across the galaxy, picking out a variety that would seem to serve all different purposes. But what was Little Red up to all this time...?
Hanna observed the different flowers and plants, naming a few for Keelah and even pointing out interesting traits of two items. Although a medical doctor by trade, it appeared that she was familiar with various other aspects of biology, including some limited knowledge on botany. As they looked around the store however, she suddenly realized that Little Red was not with them. The interior had no windows, any live plants would not get light anyways inside the underground city, so artificial lights were installed in rows across the ceiling. Hanna had to exit the store to get a view of the street, which she looked around in for any sign of Red.
Meanwhile, Little Red had wandered deeper into the city streets, displaying no interest in the shop of potted plants and dried herbs. Instead, she marveled at the more exotic looking stalls until she became drawn by an assortment of different noises. It became clearer as she proceeded down the road until it culminated in a stone structure much like any other. The only exception was its population. Through the open doorway Red could see numerous individuals inside, and it was so full that the patio seats on the outside were filled, with many stood outside to chat with drinks in hand. By the look of the drinks this was a cantina and by all means a typical Outer Rim one. Loud music blared from inside, and beings from a plethora of different species mingled together. Neither this gathering nor the sounds managed to hold Red's attention, for she had grown accustomed to such things from her time in the Lannik Underworld and Coruscant. Instead, what caught her gaze was a large screen positioned atop the bar counter so that it was slightly visible from outside- a screen that displayed what was distinctly a swoop bike. Using her smaller form to squeeze through the crowd, she got closer to the screen, but the bike only moved further away as the camera panned out to reveal it in a dark surrounding among other vehicles. At first, Red thought they were racing in this very underground area and the excitement washed over her immediately. It was not until the racers entered what appeared to be a forest of glowing trees did she realize that this took place outside. It must have been the night side of Ryloth, where things were always dark. The excitement did not leave her at this realization, though. The sleek shapes of the swoops were only emphasized by the calm light coming from the strange, bio-luminescent woodland. Streaks of various colours dashed between the faint blue pillars, creating an image that looked more like a piece of abstract artwork than a competitive sport. It reminded her of broken neon signs of the Lannik underworld. Little Red had never raced in such a vivid and bizarre environment before. She was instantly captivated and pushed her way closer to the front until she was right before the counter, eyes wide and staring up at the screen. Her viewing was rudely interrupted by a large Nikto who nudged her, "Hey, if you're not gonna bet, don't stand there and block our way."
Little Red turned with folded arms and looked up - way up - at the Nikto, "Unless ya creepin' around on the floor like some kinda... creep! Ya can see just fine, E chu ta!" With that she turned defiantly back to continue enjoying the racing, bouncing eagerly with excitement as she watched. Back in the botany shop, Keelah suddenly paused and looked to Hanna, "Something is wrong..."
Hanna peered back in through the open door of the shop, her gaze concerned as she looked to Keelah, "Could you be a little more specific? Wait, no, that sounded a little rude, sorry. I mean, what's going on? Did you see where Little Red went?" Meanwhile, the angry Nikto give Little Red an annoyed shove, his strength probably pushing her against the bar, "You mind your place, youngster. Or do I have to show it to you?"
Keelah looked back to Hanna, "Come" she stated simply as she strolled out of the shop and down towards the cantina. Little Red grunted as she slammed against the bar, turning back to the Nikto with a spiteful tone, "Hey! Bantha poodoo; My place is right here!" The young girl turned away but before she could settle into viewing again she herself suddenly being hoisted up in the air as the Nikto picked her up. He held her by the back of collar which choked her neck as he spun her around to face him. Red kicked and thrashed with her feet while both hands gripped her collar to try and free it from her neck. The Nikto opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by a lightsaber powering across the front of his neck; it's hum reverberating loudly so close as the unstable blade crackled. Keelah - upon entering the cantina - had faded from Hanna's side as almost instantly appeared beside the Nikto. He was much larger still but she held her blade up and backwards in her hand as she glared up at him, "Lle bela" (Your move) she challenged him in a distinctly dark tone that neither Hanna or Red had witnessed in her until now. Down to her side, Keelah's free hand crackled with a subtle formation of purple lighting ready to wield at his response.
Hanna prepared to rush in to Little Red's aid, but seeing the flash of purple light she stood back as to not be within the weapon's swing radius. Though she had never seen Keelah in action, she had witnessed the power of the Force and heard of the skill required to wield a lightsaber. She knew that the Sephi was more than capable of handling herself here, and instead chose to blend into the crowd of the bar, watching the scene unfold as she glanced from person to person, watching for other dangers to them. The Nikto likely came to a similar conclusion on the lightsaber's owner as he immediately let go of Little Red, "Hey, I was just messing around. Don't mean to hurt the kid or anything. No need for Jedi to get involved."
"Poldora?!" (Jedi?!) She spat. Powering down her lightsaber as the crackling energy around her offhand faded. "Auta n'ala amin Ndengina lle" (Go before I finish you) she ordered. Though the translation may not have carried, her tone and expression made her intention clear. She knelt before Red, gently resting her hands on the girls shoulders, "Are you alright?" She asked gently.
Seeing the lightsaber turn off, the Nikto took the chance to run for his life before Keelah could change her mind. He continued his rude pushing as he shoved his way through the crowd and darted out the bar. Little Red's gaze followed the Nikto until he was lost among the sea of people, then she huffed before looking back up to the Sephi. "That should show him!" she grinned approvingly. "He thinks he owns the place or something!" "What're you doing in a place like this, anyways?" Hanna joined in as she made her way towards Keelah. Red replied by pointing to the screen, which continued to broadcast the same swoop race, albeit filming the racers from a different angle now as they zoomed out of the glowing forest and into a darker canyon. At first, this part of the course appears to be dimly lit by neon lights installed on the canyon walls, but as the camera slowed down and switched its focus from the racers to the setting, the chaotic pattern of these streaks revealed them to be bio-luminescent vines. "You came in here to watch the race?" Hanna asked. "You know, unless this is some kind of exclusive show funded by the cantina, which I doubt it is, we can probably pick up the signal from the ship. Outer Rim cantinas are dangerous places." As Little Red and Hanna conversed with occasional glances at the screen, Keelah's attention was diverted elsewhere as she sensed the presence of a dark side practitioner somewhere nearby...
Keelah narrowed her eyes as she slowly scanned around the room, one hand hovering over the hilt of her blade still. She did not distinguish light and dark in the traditional sense; but power and intent read clearly to her nonetheless and she did not like what she sensed here now...
Keelah felt that whatever the source of the feeling, it was either weak or a considerable distance away from them, or perhaps a mixture of both. She did not sense it as a threat, only someone with the power of the Force in their hands, and it was somewhere in the city but not within the crowd around them. It was certainly there though, and now that the danger at hand had been resolved she could not help but sense it lingering at the back of her head.
Keelah looked to Hanna and Red, "we need to be mindful, there is a presence here" she could sense the questioning look on their faces and continued, "I do not sense a threat or even an awareness of us. It may even be an ally..."
"A presence?" Hanna gave Keelah a puzzled glance. "What do you mean, like a specific person, a...person with Force abilities? If you can sense that they're not aware of us, can you tell if they're trained or not? Maybe it's just some local that the Jedi haven't located. With them retreating to their sacred place in the Deep Core and Ryloth being a backwater, that's pretty likely."
Keelah nodded, "Anything is possible at this point. I can simply sense their presence somewhere in the city, anything beyond that is subject to guesswork" Red bounced excitedly, "We should go find 'em! If they're Jedi like you, then we can watch you help 'em like you did me with your lightsaber; that was so cool - peow, vrum!" she imitates the movement, "Oooh, and if it's a Sith that'd be even cooler!" Keelah just looked at the girl a moment, "I am not a Jedi" before looking to Hanna, "It is up to the two of you what we do from here, I am but a humble escort; though if we have no business planetside then returning to the ship may be most favourable"
"I agree," Hanna replied with her input. "Whoever this is, maybe they're only not a threat because they're not aware of us yet, or maybe they have the powers the Knight uses which allow him to conceal his true intentions through the Force. Anyways, we've already gotten to see the city and the refueling shouldn't take much longer. Maybe it's time for us to head back to our ship before we overstay our welcome."
Red pouted but was more accepting knowing she could watch the racing back at the ship and so trudged along. Keelah meanwhile led the way while remaining vigilant around the presence she could sense...
Hanna stayed at the back of the group, keeping Little Red in the middle of them as they followed the paths they came on. She stayed alert as well, her eyes scanning around them on the lookout for any individuals who appeared to be unusually suspicious. Her hand always remained near the pocket where she kept her vibroknife, ready to spring into action whenever necessary, though fortunately the necessity did not appear to them, at least yet... With her abilities though, Keelah could sense that whoever the Force presence belonged to must have caught on to them as well, as the presence remained no matter how far they got from the cantina, as if its source were trailing behind them and keeping a consistent distance. Turning a corner, Keelah waved Red to continue as she drew her lightsabers. With a brief glance to Hanna as she followed, she leaped up and out of sight while taking up a clear vantage point so she could spot who she felt following them while maintaining a watchful eye on Red and Hanna. Red felt something was wrong as Keelah made her move and hung close to Hanna as they proceeded cautiously back towards the ship.
From her vantage point, Keelah could see a dark robed figure moving through the crowd. While his garb did not immediately give him away; as there were plenty in the Outer Rim who liked to conceal their appearances in loose-fitting clothes and hoods, the Sephi's Force sensitivity immediately pinpointed the man. The colour of the robes thus identified him as a potential member of the Sith Order, and though there was no lightsaber visible on him, it was likely that he did not wear such a weapon openly outside Imperial space. Hanna's hand wandered closer to her blade as she escorted Little Red back towards the ship. Despite the fact that the robed man was a quite some ways behind them, Keelah felt a distinct feeling that told her the two were walking straight towards danger...
Despite her desire to confront the stranger following them, Keelah's first instinct was to protect those under her care. So settling for the moment with a visual ID on their stalker, she leaped across the rooftops to catch up with the others. This allowed her to catch up quickly and bring the pair into view whilst holding a good vantage of their way ahead.
The robed figure was evidently stalking them now, as he walked along the same path they traversed. He did not seem to be aware that his target now had eyes on him, but likewise Hanna and Little Red also seemed oblivious to whatever danger Keelah had sensed. Much to her discomfort, Keelah also did not manage to spot any immediate risk in front of the two, though as they drew nearer to the spaceport a new presence began to overwhelm that of their stalker, indicating a more powerful Force user, though not quite up to the levels she had sensed in individuals such as Laesa, or even the Knight.
Keelah upped her pace to get ahead of the others with determination to pinpoint the danger and neutralize it before they got close. She soon ran out of rooftop short of the spaceport elevator and dropped to the ground with weapons drawn, the not yet poweredas she scanned the area.
With their stalker still some distance behind them, Keelah's eyes could see no immediate danger, but her senses told her something awaited within the depths of the spaceport. Nearing the elevators, Hanna eyed a seedy looking Weequay stepping out of a turbolift and edged to the side so that she would pass right by him. As he approached, Hanna swiped the blaster from his belt holster, reached around his hip and pulled three deathsticks from his pocket, and then took a step in sync with him before sticking a leg in front of his and tripping him, all in one fluid motion. The Weequay fell forwards, straight into a passing group of Twi'leks. With an annoyed grunt, the Weequay got back onto his feet. One of the Twi'leks had been knocked to the ground with him, and the fallen Twi'lek's friend was mouthing angrily at the offworlder. The Weequay shoved him away and reached for his blaster, only to find it gone. Feeling around his jacket he noticed the missing deathsticks as well and immediately began to point his finger at the Twi'leks, accusing them of knocking him down and stealing his valuables. A small crowd began to form around the heated argument, an obstacle for whoever was following behind them. Hanna walked on coolly, concealing the blaster and deathsticks in her vest until they entered the elevator and the doors closed. Looking to Keelah, she noticed the lightsabers in hand and gave her a concerned glance. "Expecting something that bad? I hope that diversion helps slow the person you sensed...
"Someone is following us" Keelah informed whilewatching around them, "I fear the greater risk lays ahead so be mindful still". She continued to lead the others through the spaceport and back to their ship, remaining on a vigilant watch.
"Greater risk lays ahead?" Hanna asked as she followed Keelah, the stolen blaster in hand. "Stars, whoever's after us couldn't have gotten to our ship already, could they?"
"Assume nothing and be ready for anything" Keelah replied without shifting focus from her searching. She would continue to lead them all the way back to the ship with intent of returning Hanna and Red to the ship before routing out the dangers she could sense.
As the three of them entered the hangar, it was clear that someone had indeed beat them to their ship. However, it was only one individual, and one who stood in contrast to the figure who was seen following them earlier. Unlike their dark-robed stalker, who carried about him a distinctly sinister feel, this figure wore brown and beige robes that looked more like the garb of an unspectacular wanderer commonly seen on poor Outer Rim worlds. The hood of the robes was also lowered, revealing the face of a calm yet determined woman with medium-length hair that matched the colour of her clothing. "I know the long robe fashion style is more common in places like this, but I'm pretty sure that's a Jedi," Hanna pointed out in a whisper to Keelah. The supposed Jedi was clearly aware of them the moment they had seen her, if not even earlier. However she did not demonstrate any haste in her actions, nor any hostility. The woman turned only when the three approached the ship and she did so slowly, apparently taking care not to make sudden movements. A belt of tools was visible on her waist but her hand gave no indication of reaching towards it at all, and she merely walked towards them at a casual pace. Despite appearances, Keelah's attunement to the Force told her that this Jedi woman commanded far more power than the stalker she had sensed earlier.
Keelah did not care for differentiation between Jedi or Sith. There were only Force sensitives of varying threat levels and the woman before her now posed a potentially high threat. She took up position in front of Red and Hanna with her hands poised ready to draw either or both of her lightsabers, "Nyara lle essa ar' lle moota sinome" (State your name and your business here" she challenged in an authoritative, though neutral and calm tone as she stared at the woman before her - ever mindful of the presence she felt following them through the streets before and the chance of it emerging.
"My name is Cel Dystra," the robed woman responded, whether it was a direct reply from understanding Keelah's Sephi or a generic introduction was difficult to discern from the context. "I mean you no harm. I belong to a branch of the Jedi known as Lore Keepers. Our duty is to locate and secure artifacts that may further the knowledge of the Jedi, or may present a danger to those who are not trained in the ways of the Force. I have sensed one such artifact here, in your possession." "I am unsure which category this artifact I seek falls in, but I can sense that the two of you are unlearned," her gaze glazed over Hanna and Little Red before setting on Keelah. "But you...you are wise and powerful, though unlike any Jedi Master. I have never encountered anyone like you before. Are you with the light or the darkness? I cannot seem to tell."
"Amin yassen a' n'uma, amin naa y'Sephi Ithiltira" (I belong to no such religion, I am a Sephi Moonguard) Keelah replied firmly, "I' nat' lle merna naa nu amin tira. Melloneamin ar' amin naa movien ta ten' varna keepien " (The artifact you seek is under my protection. My friends and I are transporting it for safekeeping) She glanced back to the door, "Manka lle tyava naa quel, eller naa y' Morier closien. Tanka lye" (If your heart is pure, there is a dark one coming. Help us)
"I am aware of the Sith's presence, and I will not allow him to harm you or the artifact," the Jedi stated, now evident that she can indeed comprehend Keelah's speech. "But it is you who stand before me at this moment, not him. I have never heard of the Sephi Moonguard, though I must admit I have not spoken to any Sephi in-depth about your culture. Are you the Force-user organization of Sephi society, like Shasa for the Selkath, or the Baran Do for the Kel Dor?"
"Perhaps" Keelah shrugged, "These things are unknown to me. We are simply the chosen protectors of the realm; chosen by the fate which grants us power to act beyond our station. As for standing in the way..." she looked past the Jedi to the ship, "...We are not preventing you from from interacting with the dark one, you however are very in between us and our vessel. Now, if you require assistance in dispatching this foe who threatens us both then I shall stand at your side once my friends here are safely on board their ship. If you do not, then we will take our leave"
"I'm here for the artifact," the Jedi, Dystra, replied matter-of-factly. "If the Sith threatens it, then I will deal with him. But likewise, I cannot let you go until I have seen the artifact and know that it would be safe to send it away in your possess-" She paused mid-speech. Her stance remained calm, though her brow could be seen to furrow for a moment. Most visibly, her gaze shifted away from Keelah towards the entrance of the hangar. Hanna noticed this and turned her head in the same direction but failing to see anything there, she turned back to the Jedi. Keelah's senses, on the other hand, could pick up the same thing that had alerted the Jedi- the approaching presence of the dark-robed stalker. "He's coming for it," Dystra responded to Hanna's unvocalized question, then her eyes set on the smaller, juvenile human. "Give it to me, before he hurts you."
Keelah shifted to place herself directly in between the Jedi and Red as she held her stare, "Perhaps I was unclear; these two are under my protection and it is my purpose to deliver them - and their cargo - safely to their destination. Now we are boarding our ship regardless of your intention; should you wish to be allies against this dark one then stand out of their path and I will stand at your side. Move not, then I shall have no choice but to protect my charges from both of you"
The Jedi's stance loosened as she gazed thoughtfully at Keelah. Her hand brushed by her robe, and for moment it seemed as if she were about to draw her lighsaber. However, this turned out to be the first of a series of movements where she turned her entire body to the side. Though her position did not shift much, it was clearly a symbolic gesture to allow Keelah and the others to pass. "It is not our way to start conflict when it can be avoided," Dystra replied. "We can debate on who should safeguard the artifact later, but for the moment standing together may dissuade this Sith from taking it by violence." Before Keelah had a chance to either take a spot beside the Jedi or make a dash for the ship, the black-robed stalker stormed into the hangar bay, the light catching a glint of metal in his hand that was undoubtedly the handle of a lightsaber...
Spinning to face the new arrival, Keelah drew her blades - though keeping them unpowered for the moment - as she stood between the new arrival and Little Red; ushering the girl into the ship as she backtracked to stand beside the Jedi who she turned to, "We shall see. I would prefer not to kill either of you strangers, but will do what I must to protect my charge"