Era: Saga, Pre-TPM Characters: Baze, Chirrut. Description: Life on the streets of Jedha's Holy City can be tough. Urchins like Baze Malbus not only have to compete with other beggars but also the clutches of the fearsome Father Cold. Part 1 The toll of the great bronze bell in the Kyber Temple echoed through the streets of Jedha City, indicating that the sun had touched the mountains on the horizon. It would strike again when the sun sank out of sight, although the sudden drop in temperature was more than enough signal the night was drawing in. The bell would chime again when the sun breached the north-west horizon again in the morning, as it always did, but some in the Holy City would not live to see it. Huddled in a doorway just off Tythoni Square, Baze pulled a thin blanket over his body and tried thinking warm thoughts. Cold was a killer on these streets. He stalked the alleyways and wynds of the ancient city, claiming the lives of the destitute pilgrims who found themselves washed ashore on the steps of the Kyber Temple as well as urchins such as Baze sleeping rough on the streets. According to legend, the great bell rang to welcome the retreat of Cold to his layer in the gloom of the great wall which ringed the city, known simply as Old Shadows since even at its zenith there were corners the sun’s light did not touch. Then when dusk approached Father Cold would creep through the streets once more. Baze didn’t pay much attention to legends told by rheumy-eyed old fools, but he understood the meaning behind them well enough. A man carrying a heavy pack of droid parts kicked at him and swore as he walked by, nearly tripping over Baze's legs in the darkness. Gathering himself up into a tighter ball, Baze fought down the urge to swear back and maybe get a boot in the stomach for his troubles. Nobody in Jedha City liked urchins much. They stole from market stalls, raided food stores and generally caused mischief wherever they went. Baze had vague memories of a time before he lived on the streets being told that it was wrong to steal, but had quickly realised that there was no other way to stay alive. He tugged his blanket tighter around his shoulders, listening to the raucous sounds drifting down to the alley from a tavern at the corner of the square. He would have been better off finding shelter in the catacombs beneath the city where the steam pipes and power conduits kept the tunnels warm, but the closest entrance was guarded by a gang of older boys who had claimed it as their own territory. At some point they would be pushed out by another gang but that didn’t mean much to Baze tonight. The chime of the Kyber Temple bell drifted down as the sun dipped below the horizon. Baze blew into his cupped hands and rubbed them together. His stomach growled. He had abandoned his usual haunt near the Path of Judgement to try begging in Tythoni Square, one of the cities biggest trade hubs, hoping that off-world travellers and traders might take pity on an orphan boy but his hopes had been dashed when he saw the throng of children littered around the square, all pawing at coats and holding up begging cups. A couple of urchins has taken exception to having a new kid on their turf and had tried to scare him off but Baze was big for his age, with a stocky build and fighters reflexes and he had sent them scurrying away. But that was the only piece of luck he’d had today, and now he was stuck in an unfamiliar quarter of the city at night and his normally unimaginative mind was picturing the hunched, skeletal form of Father Cold stalking through the alleyways, claws scraping along the sandstone walls. A sound further down the alley made him jump, but it was only an ancient droid tottering from one doorway to another. Gathering up his blanket, he got to his feet, deciding that the best thing to do was find better shelter. He wrapped the threadbare material around his head and headed away from the square, checking doorways along his route in hopes of finding a deep porch where he could bed down for the night. He hadn’t gone far when he heard a scuffle up ahead. Peeking around the corner of a building he saw a pair of boys standing over the huddled form of a third. 'We know you’ve got food, skug!' hissed one of the lads. He swung his leg and kicked the boy on the ground in the stomach. 'Give it here.’ Baze witnessed scenes like this everyday on the streets of Jedha. The strong took from the weak. It was simple. He sized up the two lads with an experienced eye. He recognised them both from the marketplace and knew their names were Todhe and Kells. They were younger than he was by a couple of years, shorter than him and they carried no obvious weapons. The taller of the two, Todhe kicked the kid on the ground again. 'You want us to hurt you some more?' As the second kick made contact the injured boy wrapped his arms around his attacker’s leg and sank his teeth into the Todhe's ankle. The older boy screamed, trying to tear himself away from his victims clutches, and Baze finally got a better look at the kid on the ground. He was small, perhaps a year or two younger than himself with thin gangly arms and, like most of the urchins in Jedha City, was obviously in need of a good meal. His pale eyes stared unseeingly as he hung on tight to the other boy’s leg. He was blind. Kells crouched down and managed to wrench the two lads apart. Todhe hopped around on one leg, swearing. 'I’m gonna kill you!' he said. Reaching into his belt he yanked out a home-made knife made from a long sandworm tooth. That was when Baze punched him in the side of the head. He managed to hit the sweet spot on the temple, just where the skull is thinnest. Todhe went down hard, dropping the knife. Kells whipped around and dived for it but Baze kicked the blade away and thrust his knee up into the other boy’s gut. Kells gagged and went down alongside his companion, who was moaning and making feeble movements with his arms and legs. Scooping the knife off the ground, Baze towered over the two stunned lads. ‘Get lost,' he said. Kells glared up at him but there was nothing he could do. Baze was on his feet, he had the knife and Todhe was too stunned to be of any help. Without a word Kells dragged Todhe to his feet and they staggered off into the night. Slipping the knife into his belt, Baze turned back to the blind boy. The kid was still crouched on the ground, clutching his stomach and panting heavily. ‘You’ve got blood on your face,' said Baze. The boy dragged a sleeve across his mouth, leaving a red smear on his chin. 'Thank you,' he said. ‘My name’s Chirrut.’ Baze snorted. 'Is it true, have you got food?' Chirrut's head turned warily towards him, his eyes gazing disconcertingly over Baze's shoulder. 'I have a little.’ 'Give it to me,' said Baze, moving closer. Chirrut shuffled away until he backed into a wall. He was a pitiful little waif, thought Baze, nothing but skin and bone. The kind of kid who Cold would soon come to visit. 'I don’t want to hurt you, but I will if you don’t give me the food,' Baze warned him. Reaching into his jacket, Chirrut pulled out a small bundle. He clutched it tight to his chest, unwilling to let go of something he had fought hard to protect. Baze decided he needed some incentive and stamped his boot down on the boy’s foot. Chirrut winced but didn’t cry out, and it occurred to Baze that not once during the scuffle had he heard the boy make a sound. He pressed down harder. 'You want me to break your ankle?' he said, his voice calm. Chirrut lowered his unseeing eyes and held out the bundle. Lifting his foot, Baze snatched it and stuffed it into his pocket. Without another word he span on his heel and walked away. The light was fading fast, and the temperature would soon plummet even further. Baze patted the food in his pocket, but as glad as he was that he would be getting something to eat for the first time in two days he felt hollow inside. Jedha City’s streets were unkind. The strong survived, and Baze reckoned a few bells from now someone would come across Chirrut’s body scrunched up in a shallow doorway somewhere, cold and lifeless like driftwood on the shore. That was just how things worked around here.