Carth waited, fiddling with his blaster. Shame they didn't have any upgrades on them; he probably could have spent several hour trying to wrestle them on. 'Interlocking parts my ass' he thought viciously.
Not for the first time, he glanced over at his companion- his unconscious companion; right on cue she began to moan and thrash. With a sigh, Carth moved to pin her down, so she wouldn't rip out her stitches again.
"You know, you better wake up soon," he said conversationally, as she began to struggle. "Not that I have anything against you personally, but unconscious women aren't my thing."
She bucked, wildly, and then twisted so that Carth became unbalanced and fell to the floor with a thud.
"And if you can do that in your sleep, I could use your help !" he yelled. Conversely, the woman seemed calmed by his outburst, and ceased moving.
Carth sighed. That was the most exciting thing he'd done all day; if the Sith didn't find and kill them first, boredom would.
The next time she started thrashing, Carth noticed that she was wearing an ID tag.
"Well, duh," he berated himself. "She was on the Endar Spire. Of course she has ID."
He unclasped the tag from the chain around her neck. "And now I'm talking to myself. Yay."
He clicked the chip into his datapad, happy that he finally had something to do. The data scrolled across the screen; if it was like the rest of the Republic Files, he could actually get an hour or so of not-sheer-boredom out of -wait...
Names, First: Hanuu
Name, Family: Unknown
Next of Kin: None
Home Planet: Unknown
Previous Occupation(s): Smuggler
Weapons training: Basic blaster, blaster rifle and heavy arms, advance melee.
Weapon Hand: Ambidextrous. Proficient in double-bladed weapons
Psych. Eval. Result: No death wish, no addictions, not nearly as haphazard as she appears to be. Extremely well adjusted and amiable for someone with no family ties and employed in such a disreputable line of work.
Fluent in: Basic, Ryl, Lekku, Shyriiwook, Rodese, Huttese, Selkath, Ithorian, Gammorian and Mando'a
Criminal Record: One count of spice smuggling. Charges dropped.
...followed by a short list of medical necessities. Carth frowned down at the datapad, and then at Hanuu.
"Well, at least I know your name. Sorta.' he muttered.
The woman began to thrash in her sleep again.
Hanuu turned out to be just as stubborn awake as she was asleep.
"Look, the better we know this place, the better off we are," she explained in an all-too-patient tone that gave Carth the impression that she was actually very impatiently waiting for him to come with her.
"We need to find Bastila."
"And we need to be careful about it," she said. Carth raised an eyebrow. "Look, we are on a Sith occupied world. Have you ever been on a Sith occupied world? Don't answer, that was rhetorical." Carth closed his mouth. "The Sith, while to they generally try to make themselves popular, are too fond of cruelty and heavy weapons to ever completely win over the populace. As such, you will find a fair amount of people willing to hide refugees, and even more people willing to turn a blind eye to them. By my guess, those are the people we're more likely to find in the Lower and Under cities; the people up here are going to be a lot less cooperative- and a whole lot more likely to have the supplies we need, and to notice something and try to hand us over to the Sith. We're going to need to find places up here we can hide if that happens, and people we can trust to cover us. That is going to take time- much more time than the three hours we were at it this morning."
Carth huffed. "How long exactly?"
"Hopefully, not more than a week."
"A week !"
"They're people living under an occupation. Even if the Sith are taking pains not to disrupt their daily lives, the threat is still there. The only people who will be openly declaring their allegiances are either insane or the Sith themselves. It will take time, Carth."
"Yes, but...a week! Bastilla could be captured by then!"
"If she managed to escape the crash site in relatively good health, than there's a good chance she found cover and is laying low just like we are. If not, than it is likely that she has already been captured, if not by the Sith, than by one of those swoop gangs Zelka mentioned- or that she's dead.. It looks like we'll need some way to sneak past the guard to get to the other city levels, anyway. Making connections- correctly- will be worth it, no matter what Bastilla's current situation is."
Carth huffed again. "At least tell me we don't have to go back to the cantina, again."
"Sorry Carth, but the cantina is the best place to find disgruntled pilots willing to try to fly us through the blockade, and malcontents willing to give us information."
Carth gave her a horrified stare.
"Besides, I can get us some much needed credits dueling."
Carth still stared.
"And I promise that I will not let any lonely Sith anywhere near you, with or without Tarisian Ale."
Carth frowned. "I'm not worried about that," he protested.
Hanuu raised an eyebrow.
"Much," he relented sullenly.
The corners of her mouth quirked, "Tell you what, we'll make it quick, eat at one of the vendors, and visit the hospital first, okay?"
"That depends- is it going to take more time?"
"Only a very little more time. And that way we can avoid Sarna."
Carth sighed. "Okay, let's go. But we better find some Sith uniforms soon."
Carth looked over at Hanuu, who was staring into her box of noddles as though considering drowning herself in them.
"Something on your mind?" he asked.
"You look rather...distant." he said, frowning. One syllable non-words were definitely not Hanuu's style.
"I-it's just- what's your family like, Carth?"
Carth blinked in confusion for a moment, before the question finally hit him. He froze.
"Dead." he answered finally, because it was the simplest answer.
"Well...I'm not sure what my family is," Hanuu sighed. "I...left my planet when I was eleven at the...behest of my father. I'm not sure he's still alive- actually, I'm pretty sure he's dead, and even if he was, I have the impression that the life he would be living wouldn't be much better than death. My mother smuggled herself offplanet when I was seven. She was pregnant with twins. I met up with her later, just before I turned sixteen. She lived just long enough to tell me I had two sisters before some schutta murdered her. I never met them, and I'm not entirely sure what they look like, so I've been trying to track them down through their names."
Carth winced. "That must suck," he said lamely.
Hanuu snorted ruefully. "Joleen Fiarotta."
"Huh?" Carth asked, before he placed the name. She was an engineer, an extraordinarily gifted one, and young too. She was only 21, early acceptance into everything. She had a twin serving on another ship as a captain. Zelka had her in a kolto tank in his hospital- she wasn't expected to last the night.
"One of the twins, yes,"
Well...you couldn't say anything to that, could you?
"It's okay, really...I guess," she sighed. "I didn't know her, not even as a shipmate. I didn't even realize she was on the Endar Spire until I saw the ID on the tank. It's just...something I'll never be able to fix. All of the people I've considered family aren't related to me- most aren't even human. I always wanted to try, just to see what it would be like."
Carth felt a pang of sympathy, and before he could stop himself he slung an arm around her. She started, then relaxed against him with a mournful sigh. Suddenly, he felt the urge to tell her about Dustil, about his search, about giving up, about the pieces that had died inside him when he did. Instead, he said "Your other sister is captain of the Nova Typhoon. It's a good ship- they've been in a few skirmishes and always come out on top."
"Yeah. Binda Fiarotta, right?"
"Yeah. What's she like?"
"Stubborn and smart. As a lieutenant, she came up with an idea to destroy two Sith cruisers with a single torpedo- it's the reason she was given command."
"Two Sith cru- she managed to maneuver one ship so that it was head for the other, and then caused a catastrophic explosion in it's engine, so it'd ram into the other one?"
Carth frowned down at her, "Well, I see it runs in the family."
Hanuu frowned, then looked up at him "Huh...that's kind of creepy."
"She is your sister. Maybe brilliant tactical strategies are in your genes?"
"Yeah, maybe...but it's still creepy. Only, in a good way."
He chuckled, and then stopped abruptly as the memory of Dustil, laughing his mother's laugh at a joke only he and Carth found funny flashed through his mind.
"Family's like that. Creepy in a good way," he stood up abruptly, stretching to cover his momentary lapse. "Come on beautiful, we're burning daylight."
Hanuu stood, then frowned at him, "Did you just call me 'beautiful'?" she demanded.
Carth shot her a grin, and began to walk briskly towards the northern upper-city.
"Hey- come back here you hairless Wookie! You cannot say stuff like that and the just go jogging off into the sunset!"
He turned around the answer her, but didn't stop moving forward, and as a result, ended up jogging into some drunks instead.
Later, Carth couldn't pinpoint exactly when it happened, only that it did.
He trusted her. Completely. Knew she wasn't going to shoot him in the back, betray him, sell him out...she was safe.
After years of paranoia, the revelation felt strange. Creepy. It put him on edge.
And Hanuu, damn that woman, picked up on it.
"Just out of curiosity, what's eating you now?" she demanded, watching Mission lie on the bed. She had fallen unconscious it the sewers...too many rakghouls and slavers for even a plucky, time-tried teenagers to deal with. Zaalbar paced restlessly before them, advanced medpack in hand, waiting for her to revive.
"Nothing," he answered shortly.
Hanuu rolled her eyes and snorted derisively. "Right, that would be why you grimacing and stomping all over the place. And then taking out your nonexistent frustrations on poor Mission."
Carth sulked guiltily. Really, he hadn't been trying to provoke Mission, even after he knew her aversion to being referred to as a child. And then those slavers had come out of nowhere...and wait.
"You're manipulating me!" he exclaimed."You're using the fact that Mission was hurt to get me to talk to you!"
"No, I'm telling you what I see," she said blandly, and suddenly Carth remembered that she was a smuggler, that she was used to negotiating price and dragging information and host of other things that involved manipulation and sleight of hand. Relieved, he could feel his trust in her waning.
"Oh, don't start that again," she moaned suddenly. Carth started.
"The 'I don't trust anyone and she's a smuggler so I really can't trust her' thing. Just so you know, the reason the Republic caught up with me was because I was doing my first spice run," Carth, blinked, surprised. "Before that, my career consisted mostly of smuggling food and medical supplies to blockaded worlds and places run over by the Sith and the Mandalorians and then taking the refugees away from them, so save it for someone else."
She sat hunched over, mouth set in a tight line and eyes staring straight ahead. Carth reluctantly identified the uncomfortable twisting sensation in his gut as guilt, and he struggled with himself for a few minutes before he managed to wrestle it into a much safer irritation.
"Why do you even care?"
"You've said that already."
"It was rhetorical before. I actually want an answer now," he bit back.
"Why do I care? Hm...I wonder, could it have something to do with the fact that we're stuck on this force-forsaken rock together? That we have to actually be able to rely on each other? That you can't really be watching my back if you're too busy watching your own?"
Carth blinked. He hadn't expected that. "You can trust me," he said, stupidly.
"And you've said that already too. Since you aren't going down the rhetorical path this time, let me tell you: I don't care if you think you can be trusted, as long as you're going to be scrutinizing my movements and looking for some sign that I'm going to betray you, you're a liability. Because when people go looking for something, they normally find it. And you're so paranoid that I have no problems imaging you doing something stupid that ends up killing me because you think I'm going to give you up to the Sith !"
"I wouldn't kill you," he said. She raised an eyebrow. "I wouldn't kill you !"
"If you thought I was working for the Sith, you wouldn't kill me?" she deadpanned incredulously.
"I...but...I don't-I'm not going to kill you!" he spluttered.
Zaalbar gave a low growl, and even if he didn't speak the Wookie's language, Carth could tell that he was very displeased.
"Alright, Zaalbar. If Mission wakes up before we come back, give me a call, okay?" she tucked the Echani ritual brand she had bought into the loop of the waist of her fiber armor and grabbed Carth by the wrist.
"Hey, what's going on? Where're we going?" he asked.
"The Lower City. We need a place to talk, and by talk, I mean yell, and we can't do that while Mission's still recovering. Now come on "
She dragged him out of the apartments, across the Upper City, and to the elevators. It was dark, and between the black of her armor, the bronze of her hair and the chocolate of her skin, she seemed to melt into the night; Sith patrols kept bumping into her, but they all backed away without question in the face of her snarling tone. The elevator guard almost wet himself. Carth found himself wondering where the ruthlessness had come from; she was normally almost easy going. If she could cover up part of her personality, how much else could she be hiding...
"Oh frack," he moaned softly.
"Just hold on one more moment, Carth," Hanuu soothed, dragging him into one of the lower city apartments. "Okay, spill."
"You're right," he sighed. "I am looking for reasons not to trust you, and ever time I find something that construed as...sith-like, I trust you even less."
Hanuu sighed. "Well, at least there wasn't yelling."
They sat in uncomfortable silence for a moment, before she heaved a sigh a said gently, "Look, Carth, as a very wise old Ithorian once told me, if you don't trust anyone, you'll have to spend most of your time trying to get them to justify their actions; most of the time, you'll find their reasons sound, and feel like an idiot too. And most of the time, the only thing that will come from it is wasted time. And while, yes, there are very little guarantees in that statement, most of them are there because no one can get along with everyone all the time; each individual has their own set of reasoning and their own sense of honor, and it's inevitable that it'll clash with yours sometime. But, generally, people are trustworthy. Just because some of the people you knew were opportunistic sons of karath hounds doesn't mean everyone is. Or even most people."
Carth gave her an inquisitive look. She shrugged. "Actually, what he said was much more coherent, but I was paraphrasing."
Carth gave a long slow exhale, and then asked, "So...wise old Ithorian?"
"Yeah... I spent my formative years on Corescant. Lots and lots of aliens came to the restaurant where I worked- I made friends with most of the regulars. That's why I said most of the people I consider my family aren't human," she explained.
"You worked in a restaurant? You weren't always a rough and tumble smuggler?" Carth asked, more to give himself time to mull things over than anything else.
"Yeah; I was a waitress at 'The Puddle Jumper'. Nice place; the two guys who owned kept arguing about whether or not to change the name to 'The Gateship', and they had way more UST between them than was healthy, but it was a lot of fun and it payed well. After a year or so I took up a second job in a museum, and after that..."
"I spent a few years being respected as a respectable...person. And then I started smuggling. The Republic caught up to me, I signed on to the Endar Spire, and...here we are."
Carth nodded, not really listening.
"Look at me, Carth," she said decisively. Carth did. "I may not share your unconditional love of the Republic, but I do have an unconditional love for my soul. I have my morals, and my limits, and the Sith are so far removed from those they might as well be in another galaxy. I'm not going to betray you to them, or to anyone especially not while we're stuck on this craphole being hunted by Malak, and I won't even after we escape."
Carth bit his lip.
"I like you," she added. "And generally speaking, when I like someone, handing them over to the Sith is the last thing on my mind. And if you can't trust me yet- well, don't worry. I'll make you trust me if it's the last thing I do."
And Carth believed her.