She's only been fully submerged in kolto twice in her life, both during the war, and neither were long stays. Maybe fifteen minutes, tops, to quickly address a large number of burns to get her back in the field. She didn't remember the itching, or the soreness, or the voices in her head. She begins to panic-struggle and the tank starts draining. Decanting is disorienting, uncomfortable. Her legs feel like they're made of Hutt slime.
It takes her too long to get up, despite the fact that she should have been buzzing with energy. She's freezing, and there's not a single medic in sight. Her bare feet leave a trail as she checks the other tanks. Maybe one of them would know something. Like how she'd gotten from a Republic ship to this...medical bay, at least. Chara taps on the screens of the tanks next to hers.
NO LIFE SIGNS.
NO LIFE SIGNS.
NO LIFE SIGNS.
NO LIFE SIGNS.
Kriff, all of them?
She groans, and palms the door open. It hesitates, but releases her into a hall. One door labeled morgue to her right, a door labeled med-bay to her left, and a malfunctioning door in front. Not malfunctioning, she sees, but damaged. Badly damaged. From what?
The med-bay is practically empty, too, not so much as a medical gown to wear. There are a scant few supplies, and a bag, so she packs those while listening to the logs. She feels sick, listening to them describe the Jedi and wonders how they’d found out. She’d been careful, she was three names gone from her real name, her tracks had been well covered. She’d seen to that, but. Apparently not well enough. Her first foray back into Republic space in ten years and she couldn’t even complete a flight. Couldn't make it to a backwater planet without ending up poisoned.
Peragus, she learns, is where she’s ended up. The name was familiar, tickling on the edges of her memory. Fuel, maybe? Metal? Some sort of mining operation.
With nothing else to do, she checks the morgue. Might've been something sharp there, a scalpel, anything that might help fight that creeping sense of dread. Any weapon in a fight was better than none.
There's an old woman, and one other body, no useful medical supplies or weapons. She almost turns to leave, but as she does, a metallic glint catches her eye. A plasma cutter? In the morgue? She tries not to think about why, and focuses on feeling grateful.
"Find what you are looking for amongst the dead?"
She jumps, and the datapad she'd been half holding drops to the floor. Kriff she'd gotten skittish. "I… you were dead." She says as if that explains something. Then she adds, "I heard you, while I was…"
"I was asleep, closer to death than I would like." The old woman is moving slowly, getting to her feet.
Chara stands back, disinclined to be within arms reach of a risen corpse. The conversation they have leaves her unsettled, even more than the bodies and the door. Poisoned, but she'd survived as a consequence of her training. Unconscious but still refusing to die. How had all of this come to pass?
She decides to make a quick exit, but promises to check back later, once she had a better idea of what was happening. The sooner they were off, the sooner she could get away from Kreia. Idiot, getting caught up in this. Bad luck.
On the other side of the door are droids, who waste no time in firing. They weren't firing stun bolts, either. There's a sizzle of the wall behind her being scorched as she dances out of the doorway. She feints in close and almost loses her footing trying not to get her toes crushed by an angry droid. They go down easy, but one catches her side, her jumpsuit providing little protection. The remaining kolto at least numbs it, so she picks up a few useful items and carries on. Fortunately, a vibroblade was among the rubble. Better and better news.
A few corpses here and there, perhaps a few hours dead. They were beginning to swell, but not enough that whatever happened could have been more than eight hours. Call her picky, but she wasn't about to steal a dead man's boots. None of them were her size, anyways.
Combat comes back to her, muscles fighting through ten years of decided idleness with an ease that should have alarmed her but didn't. It was keeping her alive, for now, and that would be enough. There would be time later to think about it. Just had to make it to later, first.
Before the next door, she begins to understand that she was waking up in more than one way. The numbness is wearing off, both in her body and in her mind. Kreia calls out to her, and try as she might, there is no denying that the Force was there; they were speaking telepathically, the way she used to when she was younger. Before.
No time for that, pack it away. Keep moving.
Chara is horrified at the carnage in the station, shocked that droids had been able to so completely decimate the security forces here. This was an inside job, by anyone's guess. Some of the logs seemed to implicate the head technician, but something didn't sit right. More important things than who, right now, than how to get out.
Thank kriff for observant paranoids. One of the logs gives her a way to shut the droids down- though she wonders why it hadn't been used yet. If it was just a shut down, why not go straight for it? Still, now was better than never. She clips on the stealth field generator with a huff. Sneaking wasn't her favorite activity. It was slow, and she preferred to move quickly. In any case, there were too many droids to try and brute force her way through without a shield.
She's sustained a few burns on her thigh and back. Her jumpsuit was almost more hole than fabric. So, sneaking it was. Chara holds her breath, trying not to mentally chant Jedi mantras. She had done a good job of that this past decade, but with the inexplicably resurging Force and the familiar sensation of her life being at risk brought old habits back.
She steps patiently, taking care not to get too close, and avoiding their visual sensors when possible. Just before she reaches the console, a droid suddenly darts in front of her, nearly knocking into her. She stumbles back, toes curling to catch her. It looks to the left. To the right. There is a long minute where she and the droid are making one-sided eye contact. The mining lasers on its arms nearly touch her, but she's too nervous to move back. Whatever had alerted it seems to have passed, and it goes back to its patrol.
She lets out a breath once she's sure she won't be heard.
The console isn't locked, and she sends a mental thank you to the universe. The droids all hum for a moment, and then they go still. She takes up a defensive position before switching off her belt, just in case it didn't work. But the droids ignore her, and chatter to themselves. Good. A galaxy full of problems, but one less for now.
Be careful, beyond this door lies one who yet lives.
She doesn't respond, but instead opens the door. Sitting inside one of the back cell was a man, who hops to his feet when he sees her. He tries not to look surprised, as if he weren't imprisoned on a dead station. "Nice outfit. Did you miners change regulation uniforms while I was in here?"
She follows his eyes down her body, where they settle on her bare, dirty feet. He lifts a curious eyebrow in her direction. She clears her throat, "Couldn't tell you, I'm new here. You got a name?"
"Atton, Atton Rand. I'd shake your hand, but the field only causes mild electrical burns." His smile is easy, practiced. She wonders how long he's been in here.
"Chara, nice to meet you. Gonna keep this short, Rand, things are not going well out here. You're the first person I've found alive- uh, second, I guess, but the first one was dead at first." She shakes her head, "Anyways, do you know what's been happening on this station?"
He explains his brief trip from dock to cell, and his understanding of station politics. It was making a little more sense, the droids, the betrayal. Over what, some bounty?
"Hey, you're the Jedi they brought aboard, aren't you?"
She blinks out of her thoughts, "I'm not a Jedi."
"Pfft, okay," he rolls his eyes, "but, hey, listen. I can help, okay? Just let me out."
She takes a second to give him a critical once-over. His dark vest might have been armor, but he was mostly just in plainclothes. His boots had walked plenty, but were kept well enough. He seemed as tired as she was, probably hungry. Hard to sleep or be comfortable in a cell, and he'd been ignored a good while before the massacre happened. She could take him, if he tried anything. Probably.
"Sure, gimme a sec. Got any ideas? Everything is locked down, I think. I'm not so big on the computers." Chara fiddles with the controls, "The emergency protocols should've unlocked the turbolift, but. They're sealed."
"You think this was on purpose?"
"Has to be. Someone on this station has been trying very hard to kill me."
The field drops, and the electric hum she hadn't noticed goes silent. His shoulders relax a bit, now free. She makes an after you, I'm the one with the sword gesture with her hand and he takes a few cautious steps out.
They're both keeping an eye on the other, but she's too tired to expend energy thinking about it. Either he was going to be an asset or he was going to be dead.
"Well, I've got communications up. For all the good yelling into a vacuum will do. Especially if these people are responsible." He says, taking a defeated seat at the console.
She shakes her head, "There's got to be someone out there."
Together, they cycle through channels until they hear some beeps and clicks. Binary, a droid. Different than the ones here, a T3 unit. Seems familiar, but she can't place him. He's trying to be helpful, but he seems just as trapped as they were.
"Do you think you could get the turbolift unlocked, then?" She asks hopefully. Her companion rolls his eyes at her tone, but she knows her way around a favor.
The droid agrees, and ends the call. And they're left alone, in the quiet. For the first time since waking a couple of hours ago, she has a moment to think.
She slumps onto the console, using her arms as a rest for her head. "You okay?"
"Yeah. Been one of those days, you know? Also I’ve been poisoned." Her voice is muffled, but she knows he heard. She sits up suddenly, "Oh, hey. Found these in the med-bay."
She digs in her bag, and tosses him one of the nutrient bars. They were nasty, glycolic bars meant to stabilize blood disorders in humans, which seemed to be the primary population of this station. She hoped- perhaps grimly- that whoever they belonged to either didn't need them anymore or had their own supply.
He catches it, reads the label and grimaces, "I've eaten worse."
"Me too." She says. They both bite into their bars, and she laughs when they both nearly choke. "Maybe not. Kark that's nasty."
It's silent long enough that she starts to doze in the chair. Probably not the best move, but you learned to sleep when and where you could while you had the chance. She doesn't trust Atton, but she gets the feeling he's more interested in staying alive than trying anything. It's enough for a small nap.
Maybe twenty minutes later, he taps loudly on the metal to wake her. She stretches, feeling better than she had before her eyes had shut.
"Hey, your droid came through. Turbolift is… open. I guess, even if it's a bad idea."
"Weird that T3 didn't contact us. Okay."
"You can't be thinking of going down there."
"Someone has to. Might as well be me. Can you keep an eye on me from here?"
He shakes his head and sighs, "I mean, yeah, I can try."
"Fine. Do what you can."
They scrounge up some comms and test that they're working. Once the signal finally comes through, she sets off. As she crosses back to the turbolift, she thinks about checking on Kreia, but decides against it. Better things to do than talk about the past.
The ride down was uncomfortable. It was getting hotter, and the lights flickered off twice. She was not about to die in a turbolift. Chara checks the panel on the ceiling, how far she'd realistically be able to climb if she got stuck. Not far enough, she figured.
Fortunately, she makes it down without having to find out. Added bonus, a small container down at the bottom. A full suit, work boots, and even an energy shield.
"You made it."
"Holy kriff!" She hisses, "Time to switch to stim-less caf, Chara."
"Did I scare you?"
"Well I'm in a very scary mine, and a strange man was suddenly in my ears while I'm getting dressed." She laughs once, "Found a mining uniform. Should help with the heat."
"Aw, you mean my fantasies of being rescued by a underwear-clad heroine are gonna have to wait?"
"I did free you from a prison you surely would have starved in."
"You didn't carry me in your arms into the starset though. I'm feeling cheated."
"Damn, I'm a bad fantasy rescuer. I'm so sorry to have failed in my duties. Good news, I look great in just about anything."
"That's probably for the best, anyways. It was really distracting, y'know, for the droids." He says, but his voice is dour.
"Something wrong?" She asks, tightening her laces. The energy shield clicks on her wrist with ease, and she feels at least more prepared.
"Just getting in some scans. There's nearly an entire battalion of droids down there with you."
"That's a lot."
"Maybe you can sneak by? Noticed you were wearing a stealth generator earlier."
"Oh, did you, amongst all the other things I was wearing?" She laughed, "I used it get to the console. Don't know if that'll work twice. I'm not the quietest."
"They didn't teach you how to hide in Jedi school?" He teases, but there's something else she can barely pick up on. Something that can wait until later, at any rate.
"They might have, but I could never find the instructor."
"Oh, wow, a funny Jedi."
"Not a Jedi." She clicks on the stealth field, "I'll sneak past what I can. Won't hurt to try."
"Might hurt a little." Atton says, "But alright. I'll keep quiet until I've got something important to say."
And Chara wanders into the heated, slag-filled mine.