For a handful of seconds the barrel of the gun aiming down at her filled Dawn’s entire vision. It was all she could focus on. That same strange sensation she’d experienced in the dumpster washed through her, setting her skin crawling and tingling-
“Put that blaster away! Can’t you see this is just a hungry child?!”
The ominous looming gun suddenly disappeared behind a wall of white, breaking her enthralled gaze. Dawn blinked and shook her head, and the eerie tingling immediately vanished.
She realized that one of the white-robed fish headed creatures had stepped in between her and the menacing vendor. Her mind still reeling in disorientation, she coughed painfully, slowly shifting herself upright to a sitting position on the hard stone tiles.
“Lower your weapon!” a second voice snarled, just as gravely and throaty as the first. Dawn dazedly followed it to where the second white-robed fish head was standing with a gun of his own trained on the blue vendor.
“Ambassador, get behind me.” he growled tersely.
The first fish head didn’t budge. He jabbed a finger at the vendor. “Not until he promises to leave the child unharmed. This isn’t some villainous sewer like Nar Shaddaa, this is Coruscant! The proper rule of law must be followed!”
Dawn peeked around the amphibious humanoid. The vendor was seething, looking wearily between the two fish heads, his weapon now lowered by his side. He caught Dawn’s eye and shot her a murderous glare, sending her jerking back behind her amphibious defender.
“Put it away Veero. Before this situation gets any uglier than it already is.”
Dawn looked up at the new voice to see two men in matching dark blue uniforms and gleaming orange body armor stepping forward from the crowd that had gathered. Her eyes widened in astonishment.
“You’re human!” she blurted into the tense momentary silence.
Both men turned to look down at her. The one who had spoken -sporting a neatly trimmed dark beard- gave her a quizzical look.
“Wait, are you human?” she amended suspiciously, her lived experience on the Hellmouth suddenly kicking in. Just because something looked
human didn’t automatically make it human. She should’ve known that more than anyone.
He smiled wryly. “I am as far as I know, miss. But more importantly, I’m a security officer for this sector.”
He looked around at each of them. “So can somebody please explain to me what exactly is going on here? And Veero, you have about three more microseconds to make that blaster disappear and shut that energy shield off before I arrest you right now and throw you in a holding cell for a month.”
The vendor reluctantly shoved the gun back into his sash with a muttered curse, flicking a small switch under the counter. The glowing red energy bathing it evaporated with a hiss.
The second fish head (his gun also conspicuously out of sight) stepped forward, gesturing to the one still standing in front of Dawn.
“Officer, this is Mon Calamari Ambassador Cae’klii. I am Qital, head of the Ambassadorial Guard. We were just considering what food to purchase from this establishment for our mid-day break from Senate council, when this young human attempted to take the drink she had ordered-”
“The dirty little brat tried to steal it!” the vendor spat, pounding a fist on the counter. “First she offered me some useless currency from some Sith-forsaken rock, who knows where, and then she tried to pull a fast one.” He glared down at Dawn, his scowl breaking into a fiendish leer. “Too bad for her I just had a new security shield installed. I hope it hurt, girl.”
The human held up a hand. “Alright, alright Veero, tone it down a dial.” He turned to Dawn, offering his hand. “Can you get up?”
Dawn grasped it and got to her feet, still dizzy. The man gently held her shoulders when she took an unsteady side step. His angular face was kind, his sharp blue eyes crinkled with concern.
“Can you tell me what happened?” he asked softly.
Dawn lowered her head. “He’s right. I tried to steal the drink.”
“It’s just-“ she looked back up at him, desperation flooding her voice. “I’m really sorry, it’s just that I have no clue where I am, I’m totally lost, I’m hungry and tired and I probably look exactly how I feel-”
“Hey, it’s ok,” he gently cut her off. “I get it.”
The ambassador spoke up. “Officer, this youngling is clearly in need of some sort of social care. If I’m not mistaken, is there not a new agency dedicated to helping such cases? Perhaps it would be best to bring her there for adequate food and shelter. She is obviously in need of both.”
The human officer slowly nodded. “Yes Ambassador, I believe you’re right.”
“What?!” the vendor erupted, “You’re rewarding her?! This is an outrage! Her fingers should be cut off and her forehead branded! She’s a thief!”
The ambassador strode up to the counter, his deep voice ringing strongly. “Nothing was stolen, therefore no crime was committed. And besides, not even the Empire was so cruel in its treatment of street urchins. You would do well to review Coruscant’s legal archives. Here. This is for the foam beverage.”
He slapped a few coins down onto the counter and -ignoring the vendor's protests- snatched the drink up and headed back towards Dawn and the two officers.
“Here, please drink.” He offered the cup to Dawn, who accepted it with a grin and obliged him with a grateful slurp. The warm sugary liquid was just as delicious as she’d hoped.
As she stood slowly gulping down the drink, the officers and the fish head –Calamari, Dawn absently corrected herself – talked quietly in concerned tones. Dawn was only half paying attention. The awesome reality that there were real live humans in this dimension, and that they actually spoke English was starting to set in. she still couldn't believe her luck. What the hell were the odds?!
The bearded officer finally turned to her “Ok miss…?”
“Dawn,” she supplied in between slurps.
“Ok, Dawn. My name is officer Phellen Tern. Ambassador Cae’klii here recommends that my partner and I take you to InterLevel Connection. You ever heard of it?”
“Ok, well basically it’s a place for uh, people who need help. They can give you a hot meal and a safe place to sleep at the very least. Does that sound better than spending a couple days hanging around a security facility?”
“Definitely!” then she paused. “Are there other humans there too?”
He ginned. “Most definitely. Me an' Wrole here can take you there now, if you like.” Dawn nodded.
The Calamari Ambassador clapped his hands together.
“Excellent! Thank you again for your work in this matter, Officer Tern. I shall ensure that my colleagues at the senate pass your name back to sector security headquarters. It warms me to see that Coruscant’s officers harbor such empathy for the well-being of the downtrodden.”
The security officer smiled broadly. “Think nothing of it, Ambassador. Just doing my job.”
“Wait,” Dawn said as the aquatic humanoid turned to join his bodyguard. She stepped forward, looking up into his big round fish eyes. “I want to thank you. For stepping in to help me like that…”
The creature’s down turned mouth quirked into a smile. “As Officer Tern so humbly put it, I too was simply doing my job. Good luck to you, young one. I truly hope you find your way. May the Force be with you.”
He turned and strode back towards his bodyguard, and they both melted back into the bustle of the busy plaza.
Officer Tern gently clapped a hand on Dawn’s shoulder. “Come on. Lets go get you some hot food and a set of clean clothes.”
Dawn exhaled in relief, the knot of anxiety in the pit of her stomach finally starting to loosen up.
Those words had never sounded so good, even if they were in the wrong order.