Renn sits in the duct, his legs still dangling into the cell below. He is holding the singing kiros bird, trying to collect himself, telling himself that this is actually a far more spacious duct than the maintenance crawl spaces on the Vigilant that he scouted out for Kash and her crew when preparing his insider report. And, besides, he and Renci are moving away from the disorientation cells, so really, there is nothing to panic about up here.
Renci gives him a moment, crawling a bit farther down the duct, feeling around in the dark, but it seems like it just continues unbroken. Renn catches up to her after a bit. He thinks he sees something different up ahead, patches that are darker than the duct walls, and he squeezes past her to investigate. There are openings here, other ducts coming in, and the crawl space itself widens. Renn moves even farther along and does not detect the edge in time. He over-balances and falls forward but catches himself on the lip and throws his legs out to the other side of the pipe to brace himself.
Renci hears the scuffle and asks what Renn has found. He tells her that the ducts or pipes or whatever they are in turn down here. She hears metal banging on metal as he knocks around himself with the Czerka to try to get a sense for how wide the space is. He determines that the pipe only goes down, not up. It is narrow enough that he can reach the other side with his legs, which is how he is currently stretched out. This makes it much wider than a chimney, so they will not be able to descend back to one wall, legs to the other. It is too wide for him to even stem down vertically, spread out like a starfish. It is going to have to be legs braced on one side, arms on the other, which is rather risky, but there are no hand holds, and they have no climbing gear, so it seems the only option.
For a moment, Renn considers dropping his backpack down but decides to ask Renci if she has anything she does not need. She has the comm equipment she scavenged, which has stopped working. He asks her to slide it over to him, but she suggests she just drop it down herself. He agrees to that, but only if she approaches slowly, since he is still poised right at the lip and does not want her to jostle him. She fiddles with the device first, trying to get some part of it to at least light up, but it is too broken. So she slowly moves forward and tosses it past Renn, listening carefully. It does not fall terribly far before clanging; the drop is not that bad, and there must be something solid at the bottom, rather than a pool of water.
Renn begins moving down the pipe, but it really is hard to do this in the dark. One hand slips, throwing off his balance, and he falls. He lands on the rifle, which is not a good way to cushion a fall. It does not take damage, but he does, bruising his left side. Renci calls down, alarmed, and he does not answer at first, still trying to catch the breath knocked out of him. Renci grows more insistent. “Renn? Renn, are you okay? Did you hit your head?”
“Why does everyone always ask that?” echoes up to her.
“Because it’s very important to know! Do you remember your name?”
“Aye, I know m’ name.” He has murky memories about many things concerning his desertion, the time period leading up to when the Empire brainwashed away his morals during reeducation, but as far as he knows, he has never actually forgotten his own name.
“Are you hurt?”
“I’m bruised and winded. I didna land on anything sharp.” He gets up and says, “Let me help ya climb down.” She is shorter than he is, so he worries she will have a harder time bracing across the divide than he did.
Once again, Renci refuses. “I’ll be fine; I’m a professional.”
“All right, I’ll get outta the way, then.” He presses up against the curved wall, watching the dark shape that is Renci start moving down. She does not get much farther than he did before her foot skids and she comes plummeting down as well. She lands in a roll to absorb the impact but seems to have some of the wind knocked out of her sails. Grabbing the discarded comm unit, she stuffs it back in her knapsack to provide to the Rebellion later. She gets to her feet and takes a sip from her canteen, then splashes some of the contents on her face.
“What is in that canteen?” Renn asks.
“Water. Don’t you carry water?” Renci asks back. He nods, and she continues, “You’ve got to stay hydrated. You learn that quick living on a desert world. You must not have been on Ryloth very long.”
Renn knows Renci as JT’s Rebel girlfriend who lives in Nabat, but that is about it. “How long have ya been livin’ on Ryloth?” he asks over his shoulder as he starts feeling around the walls.
“I figure I’ve been based there about a year and a half. It gets real dry. Are you living in New Meen now?” Renci locates a hatch and begins working on it.
“I don’ really know the answer ta that,” he replies. He has been there in one form or another since escaping the Vigilant, but it has been so long since he has been able to think of a place as home, that he is not sure if it qualifies. It has only been a week or so since the medical clinic there gave him leave to travel again.
“Well, when we get out of here, it might be good to figure that out.”
“M’ mother’s there,” he offers.
“Oh, do you live with your mom, then?” she asks.
“No, but it’s good ta visit her.”
“That would be a nice thing to have,” Renci says quietly. Mira begins singing, and Renci asks, “Did anyone ever tell you your bird sounds like an astromech droid? Does she speak binary?”
Renn shakes his head. “I don’ speak binary, but I understand her just fine.”
That is the second time he has said that, and Renci is beginning to think maybe he really does. “Where did you find her? Oh, I got the valve loose!”
Renn smiles to himself, thinking of the antics at the Ro Fenn Memorial Zoo, and just answers, “Lessu,” as he follows Renci through the open hatch into a small room cluttered with pipes. A blaster bolt hits the wall near them. Security droids!